I have seen bike love in many forms. When I was 27, I became the president of a small company called Merlin. I’d just graduated from business school and put everything I learned to work. I had to order titanium in the same quantities as Boeing, six months in advance. To do this I had to raise private capital and create a board of directors who were committed to cycling.
At the time, Merlin made arguably the best bikes int he world and for about five years we simply could not keep up with the orders. People sent us photos of the Merlin logo tattooed on various parts of their bodies. While I was flattered by their devotion, I have to admit the photos were kind of frightening.
I briefly dated a professional tennis player. We were at a party once and two men in their fifties found out I was the president of Merlin. They walked over, got down on their knees and bowed before me. My date was not impressed – what was I thinking, dating a tennis player?
After half a decade at Merlin I was ready for a new challenge, and Saucony, the shoe company, offered to buy the company. Hoping I had left it in good hands, I moved to Moab to run Western Spirit Cycling. My focus was no longer the bike itself, but where to ride it.
We run multi-day trips in the national park and forests. Many riders return year after year and so the pressure is on us to always find new places to explore. The trips range from fun and cruisey to five days above 10,000ft, and we have a very wide range of people, from core cyclists who have all the skills and fitness to those who really only ride once a year with us.
About half bring their own bikes. Sometimes when they arrive before a trip, the mechanic shakes his head. These bikes have been loved too much. We do worry that the bike won’t make it through the week, but we don’t want to tell the customer. So we just throw another spare on the support truck and hope for the best. The price of the bike has nothing to do with how much a person loves their ride.
When riders arrive they are usually a bit pale and nervous, wondering what they have got themselves into. When they return, they are glowing and it is not just the dirt or the sunburn. The trip has given them at the chance to reconnect with themselves, the planet and the bike.
And then we came up with the idea of Outerbike, a demo event for consumers. The bike manufacturers all build their new models for the autumn trade show in Las Vegas, but the public are not allowed to attend, and while you occasionally find a demo truck at a trailhead ro at big races, there really isn’t anywhere you can test out bikes on real trails. So when the Bar M trails were built in Moab – a classic stacked loop system with 10 to 15 miles of beginner, intermediate and expert trails, all from one starting point – we knew it was perfect for Outerbike.
At the first Outerbike in 2010, several hundred people showed up. At the second this autumn, it was over the top. It was 40°C and raining but by 7:30am there was a line to get into the demo area, which didn’t open util 9am. I was a bit worried that folks would be grumpy about waiting but when we opened the gates, they ran to the booths hooting and hollering. It was bike love in the form of 800 people charging through the desert in the rain.
I wonder what form it will turn up in next.
Tags: Bike Trips, Bikelove, Biking Trips, Experience, Lifeelevated, Moab, Mountain Bike Vacations, Mountainbiking, Outerbike, Travel
People always ask us how far in advance they should plan their biking trip. Here’s some insight from our years of experience to help you decide.
When You Get Back From a Great Ride
After a good, hard training ride, we recommend a little cool-down stretch. Maybe you’ve got a whole post-ride ritual with water, snacks, or a logbook. Or maybe your rides aren’t as frequent as you’d like, but each time you get out there it reminds you of how much you love to spin those wheels. Whatever the case may be, channel your post-ride energy and inspiration into a little trip planning. Making plans now means you won’t have to later. Once you select your Western Spirit trip, our guides make all of the decisions, and all the food!
When You Need Something to Look Forward To
If you’re feeling a little weighed-down by your everyday responsibilities, planning something exciting for the future can make a big difference! Check out our mountain, road, and family cycling adventures and then put one on the calendar! You can even use one of those handy countdown apps to keep you posted on how many days are left until your trip!
When You Want to Experience a New Place
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no better way to see a new place than from the saddle of a bicycle. The perfect pace between walking and driving—cycling is slow enough to take in your surroundings and fast enough to cover some real distance. We love riding in the desert, the mountains, and on the coast. Lots of our rides even take you through very contrasting scenery. Nothing beats it.
When You Want to Get Together With Friends in a Unique Way
Got a great group of friends who are sick of just sitting around eating and drinking together? Why not ride some bikes, and then eat and drink together? If you don’t see a trip in our catalog that looks perfect, give us a call and we can create one just for your crew. We’ve been doing this for years and would love to set up an experience that provides attainable challenge and maximum memory-making for everyone you invite.
There’s no time like the present! Give us a call at 435-383-1821 to start planning today. Whether you’re riding solo, with family, with friends, or with coworkers—if you’re looking to sight-see, push your physical limits, or just try something new, we’ve got the perfect trip for you.
Tags: Biking Trips, Newbies, Planning a Trip
It’s no secret that traveling with people can come with challenges. Leaving the comforts of home often brings out the best in people—and can also bring to light some less desirable traits. If you’ve taken trips with groups, you’ve probably learned lessons of your own, but here are some things we’ve learned over the years that might keep you from learning the hard way.
Choose Your Group Wisely
A trip really begins when the planning process starts. I find that trips focused around a particular activity can help to filter potential travel companions. At Western Spirit a focus on adventure, challenge, and being outdoors helps to bring together the perfect group for every trip. If you’re putting together your own group for one of our adventures, or a made-from-scratch adventure of your own, listen to your gut when extending invitations!
Communicate About Needs and Expectations
A pre-trip conversation, in person or via e-mail, can help to get everyone on the same page. Keep in mind that there’s a lot of variety in people’s self-care regimens, meal schedules, budgets, and physical shape. At Western Spirit, we clearly outline the itinerary for each of our trips, including sample menus, packing lists, and levels of physical challenge. We have particular trips that cater to multiple ability levels, including custom trips, and we let people know about the options available to them long before their bike tires hit the trail. So if you’re planning your own vacation, remember that there are no silly questions. Find out what the people in your crew are expecting and hoping for, and communicate clearly about the plan. Here are 10 of the most common questions we get about our trips.
Don’t Be Afraid to Do Your Own Thing
Resentment in a group of travelers usually comes from someone (or a few someones) ignoring their own needs in efforts to accommodate someone else. Know yourself and build in time to do the things you need. Make sure to eat when you need to, get enough sleep, and take time to yourself when you need it. Making these self-serving choices will keep you functioning at your best in the full group activities. If you join us for a Western Spirit adventure, your guides can help you to get just what you’re looking for out of your trip. But don’t forget to ask!
Have Plenty of Food
The number one way to make a group grouchy is to let them get too hungry! Every group seems to have a person or two who are particularly prone to getting “hangry” (hungry+angry). Whether that person is you or someone you’re traveling with, it can’t hurt to throw a Clif Bar or some extra trail mix in your luggage! At Western Spirit, we’ll be sure to keep you well-fed. We’ve been doing this group travel thing for a while.
When you start planning, you may realize that different people have varying skill sets or priorities for the trip. Capitalize on your group’s diversity by delegating responsibility. Make one person in charge of certain meals—whether it’s grocery shopping or dinner reservations. Choose someone else to organize transportation, group activities, and accommodations. If you’re traveling with Western Spirit, the good news is that we basically take care of everything. We plan the itinerary, and our world class guides make decisions during the trip, so you and your fellow travelers don’t have to worry about it.
So the short answer is: travel with us! But these tips are the ones we keep in mind for our adventures and we hope they might help you plan your own as well. Let us know what other lessons you’ve learned in your travels. And we hope to see you soon! Get in touch today.
Tags: Biking Trips, Groups, Traveling