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ADVENTURE BY BIKE®

Loop Of Fun: Big Support, Big Thanks

Click here to read part one of The Big Loop Of Fun

At a little after 6 PM on Wednesday, July 31st my friend and fellow adventurer, Jeff, and I rode into my driveway after spending the previous 16 days riding predominantly 409 off-road miles and paddling 170 river miles. We had completed what I had deemed the Loop of Fun, though at times, Jeff had renamed it more appropriately as the Loop of Fortitude. As I often do while pedaling those final miles of a big adventure, I take time to reflect on the journey…

The Loop of Fun is done!

During my musings the word “support” kept coming into my mind. Though the Loop of Fun was a fully human-powered endeavor with us completing it by our own will and drive, we had lots of support along the way. Don’t get me wrong, we rode and paddled from and to my doorstep all of the 579 miles of the loop without motorized assistance. The miles were full of the usual—leg searing pain, exhilarating down hills, beautiful scenery, sore backs from paddling all day, etc. In our ever-busy lives, I think it easy to forget about all of the different forms of support we get as we go through a day. From the passing words of encouragement from a loved one or the random stranger whose helpful attitude makes it possible for one to successfully negotiate through a tricky situation. In my own life I recognize how dependent and important the support of others (both known and unknown) is to my current journey and state of mind. The following instances of support put the “fun” in the Loop of Fun:

Our final day—ending under blue skies…

From Biking to Packrafting — Upon descending off of the Uncompahgre Plateau, Jeff and I arrived in the town of Delta. From there we would transition from riding to paddling as the Gunnison River flows out of the Black Canyon and begins its way north to intersect with the Colorado River at Grand Junction, Colorado. Hoping to not have to carry packrafts, life vests, paddles, and other assorted paddling gear on our bikes for roughly 200 miles from Durango to Delta, I was in need of some support from someone in Delta. The problem being that I didn’t know anyone from Delta. Nor were there any bike shops to which I could possibly ship our paddling gear and hope they would let me store it until our arrival. As is the way of the universe sometimes—when you ask, you shall receive. One of my local riding companions, Kevin, who has been a willing partner in many bike-riding adventures, had family who lived just outside of Delta. Who knew? Kevin put me in touch with his uncle-in-law, Colon, and in early July while driving north on another trip, I was able to drop our paddling gear with him. Wahoo! Our bikes were definitely going to be heavy enough without having to carry rafts and such.

Inflating our rafts to begin the river segment…

Once in Delta, my initial attempts to contact Colon were to no avail as my cell phone had succumbed to the wet weather we had experienced the previous three days. Because of an understanding manager at the local grocery store, I was able to use a store phone to reach Colon. Before we were finished with our resupply shop, Colon was there with our paddling gear. We could now begin phase two of our adventure. Wahoo! Without Colon’s generosity and help, Jeff and I definitely would have had a more challenging time during phase one. Thanks Colon for making an already demanding adventure a little easier and way more enjoyable.

Loaded and ready to float…

Grand Friends in Grand Junction—As we paddled into Grand Junction, we had been on the move for six days, having ridden nearly 200 miles and paddled 60 miles. We were in need of a brief respite from the daily grind of the loop. Our respite came in the form of the amazing hospitality from my friends Kate and Jesse. After our one and only portage on the river portion of our trip (the Redlands Diversion Canal), we anxiously paddled into the Colorado River leaving the Gunnison River behind. A mile after the confluence we were greeted by Jesse who had plans for us: “How about some mojitos and a steak dinner, boys?” He didn’t have to ask twice. Jeff and I were all in.

Paddling the Gunnison River to Grand Junction…

It wasn’t long before we were at Kate and Jesse’s place catching up and sharing our stories from both the trail and river while sipping some of the best fresh mojitos I had tasted all summer. “So your phone died and you now have a shared phone with a company that doesn’t have any reliable service along your route? You say your regular service provider is Verizon? Here, take my old Verizon phone. I just upgraded and won’t be needing the old one.” Such was the generosity of Jesse and Kate. After showers, freshly laundered clothes, and clean beds to sleep in, it was going to be hard for us to depart the following morning.

Jesse and Kate, thank you for being valuable members of the Loop of Fun Support Team. Your generosity was amazing and much appreciated. I look forward to reciprocating your thoughtfulness and genuineness. Thanks!    

Kate and Jeff saluting the Loop of Fun…

Upon leaving Grand Junction, Jeff and I began our journey to Moab via the Colorado River. We were about to float through some of the most beautiful desert canyon country in the west. After 15 miles of paddling through the backyards of the urban centers of Grand Junction and Fruita, Colorado, we floated into the canyons of Ruby and Horsethief—collectively known as the Ruby Horsethief section of the Colorado River. This section of river is managed by the BLM, which means that to camp along the river corridor one must have a permit. While in Grand Junction I secured a camping permit for two nights (thanks Kate for picking up the permit for us).

Entering Ruby Horsethief…

Mother Nature’s beauty throughout these canyons is amazing—with every view a postcard in itself. Jeff and I took our time, as we were a day ahead of schedule for our permitted day of floating through Westwater Canyon. Thus, we could linger and stop when we wanted without feeling the pressure to make miles. Perhaps, this is why we had an amazing experience on day two of our paddle through Ruby Horsethief.

A Riverside Party —“Whoa, it looks like it is Happy Hour?” A slew of red solo cups went into the air with the corresponding cheers quickly following. “What are you drinking?” A chorus or responses to the affect of, “Good whiskey and margaritas. Do you want some?” That was all it took for Jeff to abruptly spin his packraft back up stream and onto the beach where our soon-to-be new friends were camped for the night. This welcoming crew of river runners from all over the world was on a once-a-year float trip through Ruby Horsethief. Intrigued by what two guys paddling mini rafts with bikes and gear strapped to them were doing, we were invited into and instantly made to feel a part of their crew. Barbara, Patty, Denise, Cindy, Matt #1, Kay, Steve, Ann Marie, Beau, Matt #2, and Roxanne were a close knit and super fun group. As was frequent on this trip, we shared some mutual acquaintances so it wasn’t long before we were sharing stories with lots of smiles and laughter to go around. A simple happy hour extended into a barbecue dinner and more quality bourbon drinking. Four hours and lots of fun later, Jeff and I made our way into our rafts and on downstream to find our permitted camp for the evening. What a great encounter!

Barbara and crew, thank you for one of the most memorable experiences on our adventure. Your willingness to welcome a couple of crazy strangers into your life for a few hours was much appreciated. The fine conversation, outstanding libations, and great food will always be remembered.

The Ruby Horsethief Crew…

Immediately following Ruby Horsethief is a seventeen-mile section of river known as Westwater Canyon. Outside of Cataract and the Grand Canyons (both located farther downstream), this section of the Colorado River is known for having outstanding whitewater. The inner gorge of the canyon is home to several miles of class III/IV rapids. Having already paddled this section of river numerous times I knew that this was going to be our biggest challenge along the river portion of the loop. I knew we would need support to safely navigate these rapids.

A great sunrise to begin a great day in Westwater Canyon…

Team Westwater — In need of support I contacted good friend and avid Westwater Canyon river runner, Brad. Years ago, I taught Brad how to kayak and since then he has embraced the sport and the river life. Living in Moab and a former manager of a river company, Brad had the necessary resources and experience to help Jeff and I get through the canyon. Given Jeff’s limited paddling experience and my hesitancy to paddle class IV water in a loaded packraft, we opted to have Brad, his fiancé Ariel, and other friends guide us down the river in proper-sized rafts. It was going to be a fun day!

Brad and Ariel arrived at the put-in the night before with a bottle of whisky and good beer. It was great to see them and catch up on their upcoming wedding plans. The following morning Nancy, Kenny, and Claire joined us to help with a shuttle and to escort us down the river. We were a party of two rafts and two kayaks. This was Jeff’s first big western whitewater experience so we had him spend the day with Nancy—a veteran of over 100 Westwater descents. He was in great hands.

Nancy and Jeff heading into the inner gorge and lots of whitewater excitement…

Our day went off without a hitch. The weather was beautiful; the whitewater was exhilarating; and once again the company made the day. Nancy, Kenny, and Claire, thank you for choosing to spend your time with us and for becoming yet another integral part to the Loop of Fun Support Team. 

Team Westwater—Kenny, Nancy, Brad, Jeff, Ariel & BD…

Having made it through this hurdle we said goodbye to Team Westwater and climbed back into our packrafts to paddle the final 45 miles or so to Moab. The support from Brad and Ariel was not yet over. An evening later they would meet Jeff and I with a dinner of huge burritos, more beer, and of course, another bottle of whisky. We shared another great riverside evening, before they departed for home and Jeff and I spent our final night falling asleep to the soothing sound of water rushing downstream.             

Saying goodbye to another memorable day…

The following day, Jeff and I paddled into Moab and were met by Brad and his faithful companion Blue Dog. We soon made it to Brad and Ariel’s home where we prepared to remount our bikes and begin the ride back to Durango. Brad and Ariel, thank you both for being the MVP’s of the Loop of Fun Support Team. It is always a pleasure to be in your company and congratulations on the wedding. Wahoo!

With the Fisher Towers and the La Sals in our sights, Moab was only a short distance away…

Our final four days of riding included lots of climbing (especially the 7800’ climb out of the Moab Valley to up and over the La Sal Mountains); more storms which brought more lightning and consequently, deep impassable mud; a steep hike-a-bike; an evening encounter with a large herd of elk; a rare night not under our tarp sheltered from yet another down pour, but rather spent watching shooting stars track across the milky way; and some sweet singletrack to end it all. We completed our Loop of Fun with the help of those mentioned and smaller acts of kindness from many others. Ultimately though, Jeff and I relied on each other as all good teammates do. We each could have completed the loop as individuals, but sharing such adventures with good friends, and those we trust, always leads to a more enriched and meaningful experience. Thanks to Jeff, and all of our supporters, for infusing the journey with a human element, and thus, an added depth to the fun of riding bikes and paddling rafts.

Speeding home…

One last special thanks goes out to Nancy, Sheri and the amazingly talented crew at Alpacka Rafts. You all make a high quality product that is expanding the horizons to what one can do out of his own backyard and beyond. Thank you for use of the raft Jeff paddled. Without it we would not have been able to tackle this wild idea. Wahoo!

Jeff getting after it in the Alpacka Denali Llama


 

  


 

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking Brett Davis Explore Fargo Mountain Biking Sponsored Riders

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Davis

I grew up in a military family where we moved 13 times before I left for college. Consequently, I have the continual urge to explore and travel having climbed, kayaked, and biked all over our amazing planet. My passion for the outdoors drives me to seek out adventures which often times combine multiple modes of travel or activities (i.e. biking to a wilderness area and then backpacking in to climb a high peak). "Keeping life simple" is a guiding motto of my life and for me, bike travel epitomizes simplicity.

COMMENTS (5)

Planeta Packraft | October 9th, 2013

I love this article. Great photos. Congratutations Brett.
We’ve added this paper and your website, on our website, like new.
Thank for sharing with us

Chief | October 12th, 2013

Proving once again… no amount of free whiskey, mojitos, beer or margaritas are ever going to keep the dedicated and determined Salsa-toting mini-rafter from completing his 579 mile Loop- O’-Fun sojourn. 

Uh-uh!  Nope!  Never happen!  Sweet ride.  Nice friends, old and new, huh? 

Barbara Haas | October 13th, 2013

We were on our raft trip circled up at camp telling stories, and you both came floating into our lives with your Grand Loop Adventure to share. Perfect timing! Big fun.

MA | October 18th, 2013

Hi, Brett! 
I enjoyed your “Loop O’ Fun!” 
Great helpers along the way…...priceless!
Old and new friends along the way…..your lives and your trip were enriched!
Life is an adventure!  :)

Councell | January 9th, 2014

Sweet loop!!

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