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
One of the most-asked questions from people about going on a Western Spirit trip is what to bring. So, I sat down for a few minutes to write down some tips. These come from my personal experience guiding trips. They are helpful for me and hopefully helpful for you also!
1. – Avoid things you don’t need
Going on a trip with Western Spirit is awesome! We do just about everything for you except ride your bike and set up your tent. We bring all the food and drinks, a kitchen to cook for you, tools to fix your bike, an extra bike if we can’t fix it, chairs for you to sit in after a long day, and amazing knowledge about the topography and local lore. We also bring stuff you may not even think of. We have been doing this for 25+ years, so we know what our guests are going to need to have the trip of a lifetime! The best thing to do is follow the packing list in your itinerary for the trip you are doing. Oh, and make sure to bring a camera. You will see amazing places during your trip; you need a way to capture it!
2. – Keep clothes and camp gear separated
Using a little organization while packing your bag goes a long way. I could write a whole blog post on things to have in your gear bag for the trip! But, that’s another post. One of the most basic things you can do is have a way for keeping your tent and gear away from your clean clothes. The easiest way to do so is to have them in two different bags. Why? Well, your tent might get dirty, muddy, wet, dusty, who knows! Being able to keep that away from you clean clothes is a must. Keep your gear separated and everything will be good. Another tip is having multi colored stuff sacks for yor gear. Separating out camp clothes, riding clothes, rain gear, and dirty clothes is a great way to keep your bag totally organized and keep your clean clothes clean and easy to find.
3. – Bring cans, not glass.
While this might sound like a weird one, we have our reasons. When bringing your adult beverage, cans are much preferred. We will be going to locations that not a lot of people go and sometimes the roads are not so smooth, so if we have a lot of glass bottles in a cooler, they can break. Also, we have to pack out everything we bring in. Pack it in, pack it out. Having glass bottles in our recycling takes up much more space then smashed cans. You can get almost everything in can form now, from fancy brews to wine. And if your tastes are for something a little stronger, consider getting it in a plastic bottle. If cans just aren’t possible, don’t worry; we know how to best protect glass during the trip.
4. – USB recharger
Let’s face it, most things charge via USB. Phones, cameras, GPS, lots of things that you will want to use during the trip. Being able to charge those up at camp is really nice. Bringing along a USB recharger lets you do just that. That way you will be able to have everything you want with you and charged. We want you to take as many pictures as you wish, track your ride with your GPS, and listen to that audio book at camp. I like this recharger from Goal Zero but there are many options available.
5. – Rain gear!
This might be the last thing on the list, but it might actually be the most important. We would love to promise everyone amazing sunny weather on every trip. I even joke around about us having a team of zeppelins to drag the clouds around. However, we don’t have zeppelins, and we can’t guarantee the sun. So bring rain gear! I recommend at least one set to ride in and one set for camp. That way you are able to take off the wet gear after riding and will have a dry set for camp. Nothing feels better than warm dry clothes after a wet ride. We do trips in some very remote places, and it’s awesome to get away from everything. But, this means we are away from everything. No stopping at the store halfway through the trip to buy a jacket. Bring rain gear so you will have an amazing trip no matter the weather.
So there you have it. A few tips for packing your gear for a Western Spirit trip! Have you been on a trip with us before and have some tips of your own? Leave them in the comments below.
Tags: Gear, Packing Checklist, Travel, Trips
When you travel with your family, it’s nice to have access to a variety of activities that allow you to take advantage of all that a destination has to offer—without too much research or mid-trip decision-making. Here are our three favorite resorts to take our family—and then a fun idea to take things to the next level!
Crested Butte, CO
At first glance, Crested Butte is a sleepy mountain town, nestled in the southwestern corner of Colorado. If you keep looking, you’ll realize it’s one of the most amazing natural playgrounds in North America. “CB” has year-round offerings for all ages. In the winter months, skiing and snowboarding bring visitors from all over the world to this uniquely situated mountain. While other Colorado resorts have grown to lose some of their character, Crested Butte has maintained its charm, even while boasting some of the best terrain in the state. If you’ve got a freestyle skier among you, they may also be interested in the Butte’s world-renowned terrain parks. In the summer, enjoy fly fishing in the legendary Gunnison Valley, or explore Colorado’s ranching roots on horseback. And if you haven’t heard, you’ll find some of the best mountain biking in the world. If you’re looking for a cycling-centric trip, we’ve got one of those for you too.
Whistler, BC, Canada
One of the awesome things about ski resorts is that most of them run their lifts in the summer, and this one has access to some of the most amazing alpine running and hiking terrain I’ve ever seen. Ancient glaciers, alpine lakes, and wildflowers will treat your senses as you make your way through the wilderness. Whistler-Blackcomb boasts the world’s longest gondola (the Peak 2 Peak) connecting the two mountains. It can be intense for those afraid of heights, but offers unparalleled views and connects two of Canadas most epic ski resorts. If you’ve got little ones, they’ll marvel at the giant snow walls that stick around through early summer. And there’s biking for all levels of riders.
If you’re looking for the full-on Appalachian experience, Snowshoe, WV has you covered. Standup paddleboarding, biking, and golf in the summer give way to a great family ski resort in the winter months. Smaller and slightly more manageable than its Rocky Mountain counterparts, Snowshoe is a great place to teach your kids to ski. They offer great deals on lodging and family packages for ski lessons, mountain bike lessons, and more. Summer concerts, festivals, and races fill the events calendar and offer something for everyone.
Resorts are great because they offer lots of options for your family, all in one place. At Western Spirit, we create this resort-style convenience, and take you on more rustic adventures that span a bit more area. We intersperse activities off the bike as well, and we’ve seen families take the opportunity to bond in pretty special ways. If that sounds up your alley, give us a call today to start planning your off-resort mountain bike adventure. You can also check out our family trips here.
Tags: Family, Family Trip, Travel