December 27, 2017
I’m writing from the bottom of my heart. In that sense, this is a love letter.
I wrote this in my head while pedaling. This is something I learned how to do while pedaling Salsa bikes around the world. Storytelling by bike. Through the miles I’ve moved a Salsa along trails and roads, this is a skill I’ve learned. For that, I’m grateful. But my gratitude and growth gained from Salsa Cycles runs far deeper than the skill of crafting stories while moving, to later be recorded in print.
We are parting ways. Like all healthy, supportive and growth-oriented relationships, this is a mutually respectful departure – a closing of a chapter, we’ll call it.
Transitions spark reflection. Transitioning beyond the chapter of life as a Salsa sponsored rider and into life in 2018, I can’t help but recall the storylines from the past four years.
Aboard an El Mariachi, Horsethief, and Redpoint, I’ve bikepacked in eight countries outside of North America. It’s hard to summarize growth from extensive international travel into a few points, but in essence, I learned how to truly immerse into a place. I learned how to plan and execute hard expedition-length bikepacking routes in foreign countries where I can’t speak the language. I learned how to communicate with my partner. I learned how to persevere when I wasn’t happy. I learned the empowering nature of long-distance bike travel. I experienced some of the world’s greatest mountains, centimeter by centimeter. I learned how small I am. And, most importantly, I learned how much I love my home, the West.
I started a career as an ultra-endurance cyclist. First on an El Mariachi, then Spearfish, I started a lot, finished some, and crushed a few long-distance races. In the pursuit of ultra-racing, I’ve learned how to try…over and over. To control the controllable and embrace the uncontrollable. I’ve learned how to believe in myself. I’ve learned I’m capable of as much as I commit to. I’m still working on these things, and they will be life lessons, but they are the reason I will continue to race my bike, and Salsa’s no pressure approach to unconditionally supporting me has enabled this, and it’s from this foundation that I set forth into the future. Thank you.
I’ve had the opportunity to teach, share, and inspire. Through your support of the Prescott College Geology through Bikepacking class across three years, the publishing of The Bikepacker’s Guide, and the support of presentations and writing, I’ve been lucky to participate in and witness the growth and excitement of people discovering bikepacking and adventuring on their bikes. There is nothing more rewarding.
Finally, something you likely never knew – you connected me with my best friend. When Kurt Refsnider asked me to teach Geology through Bikepacking in 2013, I didn’t have a bike or the means to buy one suitable for the course. You provided me with my first Salsa frame and I co-taught the course. From that course, my relationship with Kurt evolved. We ended up dating for three and a half years and shared nearly all of the experiences listed thus far together. While we are no longer a couple – another story of a growth-oriented and supportive divergence—our stories and experiences together aboard and enabled by Salsa are cherished.
When I look forward to what’s next, I’m excited. I have plans to ride a long-distance route across my favorite landscape solo. I wouldn’t have the skills, experience, or confidence to do so without the last four years. I’m going to continue to race my bike, bringing the mental and physical fortitude developed aboard Salsas to those races. I will continue to use the bike as a tool to educate and inspire others. Kurt and I have a non-profit, Bikepacking Roots, to collaborate on, and will continue to support each other in our lives while sharing our love for long, rugged rides in wild places. Oh yeah, and the story-telling…there’s a spark there. I’m eager to see how that evolves.
Adventure. Challenge. Confidence. Growth. Inspiration. Advocacy. Love. Story.
From the bottom of my heart,
Thank you, Salsa Cycles.
On behalf of Salsa, I would like to thank you, and Kurt, for all that we accomplished together! What an amazing journey it has been for all involved, filled with some of the best stuff that life has to offer.
I’ve been in this game a while now, forming many sponsored rider relationships, and ending some as well, and you have no idea how much it means to me for us to bid farewell as friends, with equal gratitude for the years spent together. Trust me, not all sponsored rider relationships end with the graciousness you have displayed.
You made a lovely list of words so let me follow suit with my thoughts toward you as a comrade in arms.
Driven. Gutsy. Encouraging. Passionate. Brilliant. Generous. Accomplished. Champion.
All the best to you as you move on to bold new challenges! We look forward to seeing, and helping, Backpacking Roots thrive!
-Mike ‘Kid’ Riemer, Salsa Marketing Manager
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I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.