A quick reflection of my pedaling endeavors over the past year immediately led me to make a mental list of the most memorable rides of 2013. I spent as much time as ever on bikes during the last 12 months: racing, bikepacking, touring, training, and exploring. But what made the biggest impression on my psyche?
Interestingly, many of my simple day rides don’t particularly stand out in my mind. Specific training outings left no real impact. In fact, I really can’t remember the particulars of more than a few days of doing intervals or tempo work. The rides that are poised at the forefront of my mind, ready to be recalled with just a slight twitch of my brain, were all multi-day rides. They all involved unfamiliar territory in at least one manner or another, be it unfamiliar landscapes, new challenges, or previously unexplored levels of exertion. Some of these rides were solo, and some involved friends, whether it was one or nearly a dozen.
Here are the first five rides from 2013 that immediately came to mind, ordered in no way other than chronologically. For each, I share just one photo and two brief sentences.
1. Gila River Rambling. Four days of spring break saw me moseying through the mountains and desert along the Gila River with a small group of friends. The weather was beautiful, the spring desert colors striking, the pace relaxed, and the riding world class.
2. The Arizona Trail 300. In mid-May, I tackled the AZT300 for the fifth spring in a row, but this ride was as memorable as any of those five. Luck was on my side for a change, the sleep monster was nowhere to be seen, and I managed to blitz the route with a remarkably enjoyable and nearly flawless ride faster than I ever thought I could manage.
3. Across Utah…and Beyond. June was the perfect month for a tour through some of the wilder parts of southern Utah and southwestern Colorado. This was my longest bikepacking trip yet, the longest time I’ve spent solo, provided some much-needed time to reflect on life, and that tour has only resulted in scheming about a longer and more ambitious tour.
4. Back To Dixie. The final ride of the month-long Geology Through Bikepacking course I helped teach left an enormous impression for so many reasons - the students displayed just how strong and savvy they had become and how much they had learned as they guided the four-day ride themselves with minimal interference from the instructors. As the ride ended, the course wrapped up on as high a note as imaginable.
5. Bradshaw Bumbler. After living in Prescott for nearly two years, I finally got around to circumnavigating the mountain range that lurks above: 160 chunky miles, two long days, one gear, and a great adventure partner who was upbeat even after being sprayed on the head by a skunk.
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After growing up in Minnesota, I’ve been lured away by the rugged charm of the mountainous west. I relish every opportunity I find to spend a day (or days) on the bike, linking together unknown trails and forgotten routes through deserted country, enjoying the simplicity and unpredictability. When driven to race, I am growing ever fonder of pushing the limits of endurance and sanity. www.krefs.blogspot.com