Why it matters…

Inclusitivity is a word used easily in conversation. It is also one that requires thought in real life.

Ever seen an article of clothing that you loved and hurried home to find out that it was no longer available in your size? This scenario has happened to everyone at one time or another. What was your reaction?

Ever shown up to an event dressed in entirely the wrong apparel? “Oh no, I did not know that this was an x type of event. ” Yep, gut sinking feeling.

Why size inclusion matters…if you are larger than a XXL finding appropriate clothing for sporting activities is less than a productive search. The clothes are boxy, low quality and ill fitting in many instances.

Imagine attending a major cycling event knowing that your clothes did not fit. Imagine that when you got there you were going to be different than everyone else because your clothing was different…wearing a T Shirt or similar item. Not only do you know your body type is not the same but now the glowing fact is there for everyone…you don’t fit in.

I receive numerous requests from major brands to test equipment. When asked I have two requirements:

That it fits

That it does the job it was designed to do.

It’s not enough to just make larger sizes..it needs to fit and work in the same manner as the clothing designed for the fit model. I need to know that this product was made for an active non traditional body type!

Why does it matter? As an industry we are trying to consistently find new people, new riders and new customers. EVERYONE has the simple need of wanting to fit in. It’s not unique by body style or comfort level. No one wants to be the stand out in a negative way. No one wants to be the last one picked.

The first time I saw my own body type in a marketing piece I ORDERED! Wow, someone understands that we have humans larger than a size small in cycling clothing. They picked a model of my size, and they chose to USE the image! I could not have been more proud of that company.

I have stood on the front line of inclusitivity since I started cycling. Of all the statements that I can say about my time in this world…that is the one I am most proud of! We are seeing change!

Telling events that I really have always wanted to purchase your event kit but it was not in my size is a hard pill to swallow…but one I gladly will take in the effort to see change. And change I have seen!

I can not wait to watch the cycling industry find that there are thousands of individuals who have non traditional style bodies. We don’t want catered to…we just want included. I am incredibly proud to say that we are seeing change. I am pushing for change, riders are pushing for change and so are brands in the industry. It will happen!

To the companies who have embraced this change…THANK YOU! To the companies that are attempting with questions…please ask.

Why does it matter….it matters because our athletes of every type matter! Fitting in matters and comfort matters!

Strangers to Friends

Whew…stepping outside of our comfort zone is easy to talk about but really hard to do sometimes. It’s even harder to trust someone else when you do so.

As we all know 2021 was a year of change and growth. As I sat inside my home missing my friends I wanted to come up with a way, as a group, that we could train from our own homes, connect via social media and calls, and then meet in person. Hence, Nomadic Adventure Co was born!

The concept was to break down barriers entering the bike packing world. The was to be an adventure not a race. I am not fast and I wanted others to find that same relaxed pace. This was a trip all about friendship, pictures and no set times. Competition did NOT have a place here.

I have bike packed myself and LOVE it. There is no better way, in my opinion, to see the countryside than from the back of my bike! Life gets simpler when the cell phone doesn’t work and all you need to do is take care of yourself and the bike. I also knew that there are more people that have never experienced a night under the stars with not a car in sight than what have.

I asked on social media “What if I told you that you would go somewhere you had never been, do something you can’t do today and come home with a renewed passion?” Oh and “It will all happen on your bike.”

When I reached out to sponsors the response was overwhelming! I knew that we were on to something but I wanted to further break down barriers by lowering the cost of entry. We provided coaching, by Joy McCullough, for five months. Every rider that chose the “Entire Enchilada” package got stronger and stronger.

One thing that 2021 brought to us was zoom calls. I need a shirt that says “You are on mute!” Our Nomads were treated to weekly videos from industry professionals. They got to meet and talk to people that are household names in our industry!

All of the above is cool but it is only what lead up to the trip of a lifetime. The goal was to ride from Fruita, CO to Moab, UT on gravel. We would finding new limits and getting to know a route that very few have travelled. It would not be easy but it would be worth it.

The ability to set up a camp where there is not a soul in sight….not one light, not one radio or even a fence is something that everyone that wants to should experience once. The stars reached from horizon to horizon that night.

Part of the gift of bike packing is to be adaptable. Things happen out of our control. When Eszter Horyani asked about being our photographer she said “It will not go as you expected but that is part of it”. Those words were about to prove so true.

When we awoke we knew that rain was coming. We also knew that the ground was saturated from earlier rains and that the dirt we were on would turn to a soul sucking mud. The theme of morning was adaptability. Time to break camp and get on solid gravel.

I loved that the group trusted us to take them on a trip that they would remember and smile about. But, I will probably never be more proud of every one of them digging deep and riding through cold rain most of that day. The sun was no longer out and things were no longer fun. BUT when we look back on it that day, it has the ability to be claimed as badass! I DID that…it was that kind of day!

Does everything go as planned? NO. Long story short we adapted with fun that was not on the calendar but arguably more fun that what we were planning. The lessons learned I believe are:

  1. Step outside of your comfort zone and stay there for a bit. You will find a sense of pride in that experience that can not be bought.
  2. Take care of yourself and your bike. Your bike is your friend on such trips. There is not an easy out but if you take care of your equipment it will take care of you.
  3. Know your gear. This was done through zoom calls, questions and planning. The six Ps definitely came into play…prior proper planning prevents poor performance. Every one of the nomads SHONE!
  4. Every day has a high and low. Neither last! Embrace each moment and make the most of it but above all just keep pedaling!

Life is full of beauty and surprises…look closely and you will find both in the same place!

If you would like to join us in 2022 please contact me at crystal@nomadicadventureco.com or our website at www.nomadicadventureco.com

Thank you to our partners: Salsa Cycles, Big Agnes, Orange Mud, Kenda Tires, Eliel Cycling, Blackburn Bags, and Chamois Butt’r. The experience would not be the same without each one of you!

Photos credit: Eszter Horanyi

Grace, humility and a strong dose of reality

Take some time to ponder this statement…..“How willing are you to consider that your life is the way it is, not because of the weight of your circumstances or situation, but rather the weight of self talk that pulls you down? That what you think you can and cannot do is influenced much more directly by some subconscious response than by the reality of life itself?!”-Gary John Bishop

It’s so easy to tell yourself “it’s too hard, you can’t do this or this isn’t something that you excel at.” How do you talk to yourself? Are you kind and full of grace or do you beat yourself up? Are you willing to embrace the uncertainty and expect nothing but accept everything?

I have been asked many times what is your favorite part of cycling….the answer is easy. I love that it has never gotten easier. I have gotten faster but I still have to work at it. As someone who never really had to struggle to “get” things cycling has given me a challenge from day one. Has the challenged changed, of course. Have I changed…oh YES!

Last year was a year that was challenging for everyone. I would be lying if I didn’t say that training was hard and then stopped completely as I watched event after event cancel. I watched in stunned disbelief as my world changed. I understood why but I still couldn’t really believe what was happening. It was during the struggle of what to do next and how to stay safe that I changed my internal talk.

I began to challenge myself to have positive inner dialogue. I was willing! I took this quote to heart….”Stop blaming luck. Stop blaming other people. Stop pointing to outside influences or circumstances.” I was told you have the life you are willing to put up with. Those words hit me right between the eyes with reality. The stressors that I was identifying with were ones that I allowed into my life. If they stayed front and center I was putting up with that choice. Choices were something within my control and I needed to own that. I also needed to own that I was capable and willing to make changes! Time to act!

Leading a No Drop Group ride at Unbound 2021

I also learned from bike events that I could embrace the uncertainty. Uncertainty is where new happens and it was time to find new. Did this happen over night? No, of course not. I still am not always certain of what is going to happen next but I can embrace that and turn it into something certain in my world.

In reality, even many of the things we think as hard facts aren’t. They’re half truths. They’re assumptions. They’re guesses. If you want to win, you have to be willing to be judged by others. Like plenty of things in our lives, part of our aversion to uncertainty comes from our fear of being judged by others. We are, in a very real way, afraid of what the public thinks and the prospect of being thrown out into the world of the social media. If you want to improve though you have to be willing to be fail….that does not make you a failure! Whether it be riding a bike, learning to run or trying a new hobby you will never achieve your true potential if you’re hooked by what other people think.

In fact, you could change your life overnight if you were simply able to abandon the belief that other peoples thoughts matter. Am I self conscious walking around in my kit at major events….yes. Do I know that others feel the same way….yes. Have I learned to not focus on that and what people think….you bet! If you are avoiding uncertainty you won’t do this. You will be too afraid of being judged and for that reason you are stopped with one foot nailed to the floor. THAT was a heard lesson to learn!!!

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Once I learned that then I started to stop doing the stuff I knew I shouldn’t be doing and started doing the stuff I knew I should be doing! I learned to expect nothing and accept everything. I started to find that I was challenged by what my expectations were. It was not a conscious expectation but rather something that I was doing during negative self talk. The negative self talk I had was not from my own insecurities or self doubts….it was from unrealistic expectations that I had self imposed. No one had an expectation that I do 100 miles, that I do it in x period of time or that I lose x amount of pounds. Those were all self imposed expectations. STOP CRYSTAL!

You would never tell your friend that they were too slow, too fat or not ready for that event. Instead you would be encouraging and helpful…giving any suggestions that were asked for. Why was it so hard to tell myself the same thing? Why was it so hard to accept this?

Thankfully I was training again so I had time on the bike to think it though. My expectations need to change and my acceptance changed at the same time….what a moment! I began living in the moment, no longer worried about the future or rejecting the past. I was simply embracing my present situation as it came to be. This meant I owned my decisions and was in charge or it. I OWNED IT!

I can find all kinds of things wrong with myself here….but the true image is that I DID IT! I practiced riding with no hands and finally succeeded.

My life and my success, my happiness really are in my hands. The power to change , the power to let go and be adventurous, embracing my own potential was all in my own head. This powerful statement changed the way I viewed my moments, hours, days and weeks. I was no longer dependent….the change was mine.

That dose of reality was life changing. Not overnight…it takes time and willingness to try and fail. Heck, I fail daily. The difference is that I have learned to treat myself with grace and humility. I have removed the expectations that had my foot nailed to the ground. The reality that is still very real…. my life is mine to control.

It’ll either be bad, fun or a shit show…..

Those were the first words out of Morgan Murri’s mouth this morning in the parking lot. We were headed out for a day of exploring on the Nomadic Adventure Co route and everyone was not sure what the day would hold weather wise. We all agreed no one remembers the boring days and we were off!

We spent an hour getting to the area that would be a place forever near to my heart! On top of the Bookcliffs overlooking the high desert we set up tents for a photo promotion and started taking pictures. The only word to describe it was MIND BLOWING! Ok that is two words, but still the best description! We have spent the last four days exploring this area and every turn is a new view.

This is a view that you can see for miles!

Morgan and I decided to do a couple of quick interviews. Both tents were staked down so all was great. When I returned to the truck I asked Nick “where is my tent”? “In the truck” was the immediate reply…..Digging commenced and no tent. NO TENT?! I had my sleeping bag, pillow, shoes, helmet and everything else but the damn tent.

Enter the shit show portion of the day……

There it is….the black object at the bottom of the bookcliff!

Morgan and Nick quickly figured out that the staked down tent had blown away in the breeze! There it lay at the bottom of the Bookcliffs.

Morgan is on the way!

Morgan took off at a run trying to find a way over the side of the bookcliffs so that he could run the ridge and save the tent….zoom in and he is on the left of the image along the cliff. Only the best of friends will scale a cliff to rescue your tent!

Morgan was able to grab the tent, wrap it up quickly and start back. I now know what helpless feels like as all I could do was stand and watch.

Almost back to the truck….key word being almost

Whew…long story short no one remembers the easy days. This will be a day that we talk/laugh about for years and every time we see this tent will only make all three of us chuckle.

The knight in shining armor carrying the grey Big Agnes tent today…Morgan! THANK YOU!

Fat Pursuit Challenge in our backyard

I’m not the best winter person…..take that back, I’m really not a freezing kind of girl. I like the warmth and the thought of being outside in sub zero temps really never was something I heard about and said “Heck yea” sign me up! LOL

That said, a seed was planted in my brain back in October. We were looking for an out of the box all girls trip and I threw out Fat Pursuit in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. None of us had ever been and it sounded like something that would be challenging to all levels while still giving us a chance to succeed. PLUS we got to go to an event which in 2020 was a gamble. I started planning, digging and called Jay. Scared and excited were definitely the two emotions that surfaced quickly….could I do it and how would that look? But scared gave me motivation to want to train and ride my bike. I had a goal for the first time in months.

I called my coach and said this is the goal….quickly followed by “I trust Jay and he says that I will be ok”. I wasn’t ready physically but I was getting there mentally. I wanted a shot at it….and wanted that shot badly.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls and this year was no exception. I was invited to the Fat Pursuit Camp with a scholarship…..YEA! But as my clumsy self would do I fell getting out of the car on ice and couldn’t move much less drive 2-3 days in a car. Plan B here we come.

Since we couldn’t get to the camp, and the event was not happening in ID because of COVID we decided to embrace Jay’s COVID Challenge. Nick and I live in the River Bluffs, it’s not the mountains or Yellowstone but we have hills, roads and snow. We threw it out on social media that we were meeting up at Yellow River State Forest and decided to just see what would happen. Happen it DID!


Yesterday was nothing short of an all day adventure that was fun! We had people from three hours away in all directions show up. Kirk truly took the adventure to heart and camped out in the Forest the night before. We laughed, talked, rode fatties and spent the day enjoying the outdoors. Heck we even had people riding fats in the snow for the first time!


Is life always what we think it should be….no. Is there always a plan that we don’t understand…..yes. I wouldn’t have traded yesterday for riding in ID. There is always something to be said for being adaptable and I am really glad that we were.

Next year, I’m going to ID and learning how to camp out in the snow. But for this year my heart is full and I was challenged…..I suspect that is the goal that Jay had all along!


As we slide into the holiday season it is safe to say it is different this year. For me, it is the first year that I won’t attend Church tonight and the first time that I won’t have Thanksgiving with family. BUT in the whole realm of changes for the year these are to be expected.

Gratitude is the attitude that is needed this season and so hard to come by some days. Yes, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for family and friends, love and that I am on this side of the dirt, along with thousands of other things. I’m grateful that my lungs have the ability to push my legs, who are pushing my bike, up a steep hill. I’m grateful for my loving home and family that have supported every choice I’ve made and decision to go to an event even though I know sometimes they think yikes. I’m grateful for my husband who has been my rock and strong post through it all.

Today I posted instead of looking for a mirror become one…..instead of trying to find an inspiration in someone else become and inspiration for others. Yep, it’s hard, requires leadership skills and yep it is dedication vs motivation. Be that person that makes others want to be with you and want to be like you. IMO you can not be that person without gratitude and humility.

This week my first event for 2021 went virtual. It was 100% the right decision but it took the wind out of my sails completely….again. Then I sat and thought about it. Be grateful silly girl, that you have a bike to ride, a beautiful location to ride in at home, and go RIDE! Stop wallowing in self pity and be grateful for what you do have. Pity party was over.

I am doing the Fat Pursuit as a virtual event….probably right here in my home state. I was so excited to go see the Yellowstone Ecosystem in the winter. I was excited to get to see friends again and most of all I was excited for the challenge. Then I started to challenge myself on why I was disappointed as I did hill repeats. Why let it get me down….after all I was pursuing a new challenge and I can do that right here at home! If things work out right I will be joined by two friends in the great white North and we will ride groomed single track and forest roads. Heck I’m even doing a water boil! We will take all precautions and enjoy our day on the bike….full of gratitude!

Life may not always present itself exactly as we think it should. Heck, most of the time it won’t be anywhere close. It is OUR decision how we handle that. This year let’s be the mirror that inspires others.

Happy thanksgiving with extreme gratitude!

It’s ok…..

Wow….all I know is that 2020 has been a year of weird scenarios and unknown successes. I started out the year of gravel events having the best day on a bike that I could possibly imagine at the Mid South. Mud everywhere and I was grinning ear to ear. Then it all started to unravel.

For me this has been a year of self introspection and looking at what matters at the end of the day. This is not only in cycling but also in my personal and professional life. During all of that self evaluation I found the following:
1. Its ok to be confused.

  • One day my children are going to school full time and love being a senior and junior. The next week we are home schooling them and fighting on a daily basis to get anything turned in. It was confusing to them, me and the teachers. We could talk about it at home, and did, but it was still an unknown that no one had answers to. Heck, we are in year two and I’m still struggling with being the home school location and what we do for lunches everyday.
  • Riding the MidSouth I had an entire year planned out for gravel events….and some pretty exciting ones at that. The following month I watched those plans disappear one by one. Each time a race cancelled, although I knew it was for the best, it was another chink in my armor and frankly I was confused where to go from here.

2. It’s ok to be have to find new motivation and maybe no motivation.

  • I spent the month of April training hard. We still had events in the fall and I wanted to be ready. As the spring turned into summer it became apparent that those events were not going to happen either. My motivation sank…..like a sinking ship. Why do hill repeats when there is no reason to train. I did events like a 4x4x48 of David Goggins and bike packing. These were the motivators that kept me going.
  • Anyone that knows us also knows that our family is active. There are lots of weekends that find us at sporting events and bike events. I found this year that I wasn’t the only one lacking in motivation. My youngest is a runner and he too was on the struggle bus to train. As someone who completely understood that feeling I found the strength to say….”it’s ok to do something different”. What a change that made!

3. It’s ok to know to say I don’t know.

  • One of the hardest things I have found as a parent is the expectation that I “know” what is right. If they had only sent them home with a manual it would have certainly helped! This year I learned to say “I don’t know”. Once I got to that point, and reached out to others, I found that I was not alone. Once again, finding out that others had the same struggles was enlightening to me. I’m not alone, I just need to ask for help.

4. It’s ok to ask for help.

  • Whether we want to talk about it or not we are all in time that we don’t understand everything going on in our worlds. It’s ok….neither does anyone else, including the most powerful leaders in our world. We are all in this fight together. Asking for help is one of the best ways to make friends and help out friends you already have. Be kind and smile…..there is no better feeling than helping someone out or knowing that you are not alone.
  • In the biking world I learned that my social activities at events were gone. I miss my gravel family…..I miss the social side of riding. I learned to ask other ladies and cyclists on social media how to do things. Once a day I picked up the phone and called an old friend or someone with a question…..how do I do this? Never once did I not hang up smiling. Just ask……

5. It’s ok to be proud of yourself and it’s also ok to just want to sit in a corner by yourself.

  • Training this year was a shit show…..let’s be honest. It was TOUGH and it was not motivation it was dedication. Motivation left in March, COVID 19 poundage happened in April and May and then dedication picked up in June.
  • There were days every month that I wanted to sit in a corner and do nothing…still are actually but it is better now. I learned to forgive myself for those days and just let it be. I can’t change the world, the only person I can change is me so do that Crystal. Be the change that you want in your community!
  • Watching events that I love go away like a poof of smoke was hard! Literally one by one they were picked off my schedule in Training Peaks, crossed off the calendars and other commitments made. It was maddening and heart breaking all at the same time.
  • There were also days in the moth that I was proud of myself! HELL YEA! And I gave myself permission on those days to say “Self we did good today!” Finding the balance between the two until I could tip the scales toward the positive most of the time was my greatest accomplishment this year.

6. It’s ok to try new things….you might really love them.

  • Bike packing has become my new love! It’s new to me, or relatively so. This year I was lucky enough to introduce two friends to it also. And they loved it! Try new things….you might find it was just what the doctor ordered!

  • I found that I loved bike packing so much that one of my goals for 2021 is to ride the Wild West Route from Canada to Mexico…now that is motivation to go train. Score!
  • I tried running this year….so not all things are a success. LOL I tried it, embraced it and said this is great exercise and I have admiration for those that do it…but it’s not relaxing to me. That was ok!

7. It’s ok to get mad.

  • Huh?….yep. I told myself this year it’s ok to be mad. It’s ok to think that things should go differently and sulk for a moment. The key words are a moment. It’s not ok to be mean and say things to others. On the days I was mad at the world I rode my bike….and I rode Norm (my bike) until I got it out of my system. There were hills I could literally feel the anger, confusion and the world melt away. Maybe I was mad and maybe I just needed the release that exercise gives all of us. Maybe I was anxious….I don’t know but I do know that I needed to say that feeling is ok and now let’s go figure it out on your bike.

8. It’s ok to know that we don’t all agree on the same things.

  • Don’t go there….I’m not. But in all sincerity, it’s ok to not agree with everyone. As adults we have the ability to look at the world through multiple lens and figure out what works for us. Just because we don’t agree doesn’t make you wrong and me right or vice versa. You know what everyone says about opinions…..they are just that. As adults our perspective may change based on experiences we have had. It may also change as we mature in our relationships…that’s the ultimate goal! Be respectful and in the words of my friend and coach Chris….”Be a decent human“. We need more decent humans in our world.

Why write all of this down? I think sometimes I need to hear that others have struggles also. You are not alone my friends….we are all in this together.

I can remember the first time I heard a cyclist that I admired breathing hard at the top of a hill…..seriously you get winded also was my thought?! We are all in this together…..it’s ok to stand alone and find what works for you, but at the end of the day….it’s more than ok to call one another up and say “HI, how was your day” and end the call with “I love you.”

Making lemonade out of lemons…..

Pretty much all of 2020 could be described this way for most of us….if you are in the bike industry and trying to host events this most definitely would describe your year. BUT it also has made us stronger as riders and changed the way we look at things….or at least it has for me.

Nick and I love the Northwoods! That area is on the short list of places we would like to live when the boys are raised, and that time is getting close! We had a week of time this last week with no plans so we decided LET’S GO NORTH!

On the drive up I saw on social media that the Cheq Challenge was on. Hold on…..we can ride the Short and Fat course on our own and still donate money to the CAMBA trail system and Lifetime Foundation!? Sign me up!!! The course is marked and you get a GPX file so finding your way is a piece of cake. (Link at the bottom in case you would like to do the same).

Every event this year has tried to take the situation that they have been handed, with COVID19, and make something out of it. Peter and the crew did just that and more for us! The short and fat course was about 16 miles of fun. It was challenging enough to make you think you had accomplished something and still had sections that left you grinning from ear to ear and hoping for more! Not only that, but for us it was short enough that Red Dog could join us.

I don’t think this is the best way for me to bike Mom!

On course I was riding downhill and heard the familiar sound of a stick hitting my rear tire. I stopped instantly and removed the stick, climbed back on and WHOA I was hardly able to pedal…shifting was out. After a closer inspection we found that the cable to the rear derailleur was torn off the bike….well that SUCKS! I could have ridden over that stick 1,000 more times with no problems and no ripped wires but that one time was all it took on that particular day. And the face you make when that happens….

Well this is not how I envisioned riding the Birkie….BUT here we go!

But in all seriousness all I could do was learn how to embrace the problem and ride single speed back to the truck. Six miles left, big climbs on the Birkie and we are off still smiling! I never have been someone to ride slowly downhill but now I could not pedal uphill so time to let it “eat” on the downhills and get as far up the hill as I could before I had to walk. (For those that don’t know the Birkie…it is an infamous cross country ski trail that is essentially intervals on the bike. Uphill followed by a downhill and right back up) After some playing around I actually started having true fun again……Just another time to make some lemonade out of the situation at hand.

How was our day on the Short and Fat course…..it was everything we could have asked for and more. We saw two sets of ATV/UTV on the trail, zero cars and zero other riders. We had the course to ourselves to ride at the pace that we wanted. Red Dog had not done anything that long before and we watched him take in the sights and sounds of the trail. Truly it was one of the more fun days I have had on the bike! It was the second “event” of the year and every bit as much fun as we would have had with all of our friends there….it was just different.

Oh and when the swag has HillyAF on it….yea bring your climbing legs because it is true! There was 2500 feet of gain in the 16 miles that we rode!

This has been a year of ups and downs, strange things and for some disappointments. If you look in the right spots I think this has been a year of growth and opportunity. We have been given time to spend with loved ones that we would not have had in our previous busy lives. We have also had time to explore new options in the biking world. If you are looking for such an option that is somewhat familiar maybe and still different…..here is the link. Sign up, go ride and see for yourselves why we love it so. https://www.cheqmtb.com/cheq-challenge/

And while you are there check out our friends at ROAM adventure base camp. We came to Hayward expecting to stay for two nights and ended up staying all week. Literally right out the door are the trails and gravel….PLUS there are great showers and a sauna. Who doesn’t love that luxury while on vaca? Camping not your thing….no worries they have you covered with great cabins also! I promise you will love it! https://roambasecamp.com/

Was this a year of trying to make fun out of a situation that was not fun….you bet. Can it be done…..YES! I mean look at that smile!

And Red Dog says “when you get swag at your first event….you wear that all the way home!”

Where the blacktop ends…girl power in Michigan

Everyone talks about the romanticism of loading their bike up and taking off for a long weekend. We throw that idea around a lot at our house and with friends….about two months ago, after races had been cancelled and everyone was feeling pretty down, I threw out the idea of an all girls weekend of bike packing to friends. Both immediately said YES! We chose the Manistee National Forest as our destination for the first weekend in August.

All loaded up and heading out

To me, my Salsa Cutthroat never looks cooler than when it is loaded down for a weekend of bike packing. I used a Salsa Anything Cradle and dry bag for my handlebars, Blackburn Seat Bag and Salsa Frame bag. My feed bags are by Pro Bike Gear. My Garmin 830 was my bike GPS along with a Garmin InReach should we have trouble.

We loaded everything we needed on the bikes for three days and two nights of fun. Matt Acker, a fellow Salsa Athlete and elite ultra endurance cyclist, had put together a killer route for us through the Manistee National Forest. Thanks Matt!!!!

To say stoke level was high would be an understatement! Swimming, cycling, camping and laughs were in order!

Swim stop number one and lunch

I’ve never been great at following routes…..no worries, this was a suggestion and the first day we found our own roads during the day also. We even got to carry our bikes through the woods bushwacking at one point! 🙂

One of the great parts about riding in a National Forest is that dispersed camping is completely legal and encouraged. For us, that was a good thing on the first night. We ended up camping in a fern grove without anyone else in sight!

It would not be Michigan though to not say it was sandy…..however, this only added to the fun of riding loaded down!

Day two I was sick and decided that the climbing and sand involved was only going to further slow me and my group down. For that reason I ventured off on my own….found my own roads, rode at my own pace and headed for Bear Track Campground just outside of Dublin. BUT first I had to stop at the C-Store for some much needed sugar and caffeine!

Night two everyone was exhausted…we all bedded down in our tents to have the most restless night of the trip. Trash Pandas, or better known as raccoons, raided our camp. They even customized my Orange Mud Endurance Pack for me….thanks guys!

No worries though….the next morning held promise of a real meal (not dehydrated and not in a bag), a C-Store or two and getting back to the car. We were up and at it early! I won’t lie….that first taste of the omlette was out of this world!

I think all of us get bogged down in the details from time to time. We know that we want to go bike packing but don’t know how to get out the door. My goal when I asked Katie and Jana about going was to just go….let the chips fall where they fall and have fun. We accomplished that and more.

We rode about 160 miles in the three days. The weather was excellent and the bikes performed flawlessly. We were not there to count the miles but to spend time doing something that we loved with our bikes…..the miles were great but the smiles and memories will last a lifetime.

This year has been hard for me to train for and harder to continue staying focused…..I also suspect I’m not alone in that statement. Bike packing has given all three of us this weekend an outlet that we can do at any time with our families. Everyone at the end of the weekend said “I can’t wait to go again!”

If bike packing is something you want to try I would encourage you to go do so! Try it at home for one night and see how you like it. Pick a route that you know you can ride a loaded bike on….don’t try to set PRs and climb the biggest hills you can, unless you are that kind of person. 🙂

Go see what it holds for you….I’m betting that you will love it! I know we did!

Sometimes we just need a reset button

One of the most common questions we are asked is “why do you go live off grid for two weeks each summer with your kids?”

Beartooth Highway

Imagine two weeks where you see no one else but your immediate family……your cell phone doesn’t work and most of the time the only thing on the agenda for the day is what you want there to be.

We get up with the sun, ride bikes and go to bed as soon as the embers burn low on the camp fire. Life really is pretty simple…actually very simple. There are no worries about who is running where, what time practice is or what bills need paid. It is as simple as just enjoying what is right in front of you.

As a family we load up our bikes, one bag for gear per person and food then head as far into the National Forest as we can get. Our trailer, Matilda, is up for any adventure! We have a roof top tent on the trailer and the kids each have their own tent.

Wapiti Cabin Gallatin National Forest

Everyone having their own space is great until we get deep into grizzly country. This year we spent two nights with the highest population of grizzly bear in the lower forty eight states. During that time we stayed in two forest service cabins. Talk about luxury! When the weather is 44 degrees for a high and cold rain a fire is just what the doctor ordered. There were smiles all the way around as the heat took the chill out of the air!

Gallatin National Forest

Have you ever camped somewhere that your whole day all you did was chase shade around the trailer? Yep, that was our time on the western slope of the Big Horn Mountains….but that didn’t stop us. We rode every day through the red dirt!

Red Gulch Road Shell WY

Why do we go escape from reality? I think everyone needs that from time to time and how you accomplish it is personal. For me, spending time where no one can reach me, with those I love most, is the best form of therapy that there is. There is nothing like waking up looking out of my tent window seeing the mountains!

If you haven’t experienced life in a simple format I highly recommend it! The camping is free, food you eat anyway and the memories….they last a lifetime!