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What is it with these tumultuous years lately? Like 2017 and 2018, this year has been a rollercoaster. It started off with an intense and exciting romantic prospect that quickly crashed and burned and left me – honestly – feeling pretty bruised and battered. That combined with the falling out with a good friend/mountain biking companion, I wasn’t in the best of moods for much of the early months.
After years of living a mostly nomadic life, romantic relationships – and normal relationships – have been hard to build and maintain and it’s something that I’ve been really wanting for awhile. So when these two stopped short – one with absolutely no warning – I was left wondering whether partnership was even in the cards for me and it stung to think that maybe the answer was no (therapy helped reframe that thought, but c’mon I’m in my early 30’s and still single…)
But now as I write this, just under 12 months later, I’m in a different and even better relationship with a guy who is incredibly kind and generous and perhaps even more of a bike freak than I am, if that’s even possible? We met in July and spent the next few weeks riding up the gondola at the Mammoth Bike Park and chasing each other back down the mountain. It was a glorious summer (#whyisitsnowingrightnow?). Then in September we embarked on a three-week epic mountain bike road trip around the southwest which was amazing! And we have plenty more adventures planned for 2020. I have high hopes that next year will be a little easier on the heart 🙂
In other news, I’m done with the ships! I wrote about my love/hate relationship with the Lindblad National Geographic ships in this post, but I returned to ship life after leaving Seattle in 2017 and for a while, it was good… until it wasn’t. Ship life can be amazing. It was for me for many years, but living on the water is just not me anymore. Instead of being out at sea for weeks at a time, I wanted to be on a mountain bike adventure. Instead of going to the same places contract after contract, I wanted to be exploring new places that I haven’t visited yet. Instead of answering the same questions from guests at the dinner table, I wanted to be writing this blog! So I quit, and I’m really happy about it.
Now I just need to figure out how I can turn mountain biking into a career ?
Read more about my 2019 adventures and mishaps below.
Where I Was
Spring | california, oregon, washington, alaska
Summer | british columbia, alaska, california, vermont
Fall | california, utah, colorado, new mexico, arizona
Winter | california, arizona
Highs & Lows for 2019
- Getting my heart broken in February
- March. All of it.
- Still feeling like I don’t ‘belong’ to a community in the Eastern Sierra
- Hearing that a friend passed away from Hantavirus
- Major fatigue in November from going strong all summer and fall
- Trying to figure out what I want to do for a career now that I’m done with the ships….
- Driving to Mammoth during winter storms ❄️
- Meeting up with some Evergreen riders in Seattle. They took me on an amazing tour in Raging River
- 10-day mountain bike trip to Squamish, BC with my dad!
- Best summer of riding to date at Mammoth bike park
- Meeting Andy 🙂
- Quitting the ships. For good!
- Spending three weeks in Vermont – I hadn’t been back for three years
- Epic three-week mountain bike road trip throughout the southwest. Angel Fire bike park and Vitamin B trail were definite highlights
- Downieville/Quincey weekend MTB trip
- ROAM Fest in Sedona
- I started Two Wheeled Wanderer!
2019 in Detail
In early January, I was just beginning to pull myself back together after a tough November and December. It was a new year and I was ready to start reevaluating my life and creating a path that excited me after some disappointments in 2018. I was still living with my brother and sister-in-law in the Eastern Sierra, but I would be heading back to the ships in April. In the meantime, I did a lot of mountain biking in Bishop and massage work up in Mammoth. I also met a guy who swept me off my feet and then left me to crash and burn.
February was the best and worst month. Damon reintroduced me to snowboarding and we had some epic days up on the mountain. We soaked in the hot springs in the early mornings and had cozy evenings by the fire at night. I felt like the hardships of 2018 were behind me and I was finally back on my feet and that I had found my person. Then Damon left for a vacation in Florida with his son. The day after he got back he told me that he wanted his family back. It hurt like hell and came out of nowhere. I was blindsided and the next few months were some of the darkest I’ve ever walked through.
March sucked. I started therapy and drank a lot of whiskey.
In April, I did a three-week housesit for a friend up in Mammoth before driving all the way up to Portland, Oregon to meet the National Geographic Quest for a two-week contract on the Columbia River. I decided to drive instead of fly because I wanted my car – and bike – in the PNW for a 10-day trip to Squamish with my dad in June. More on that later! The River trips were good – I’d done that itinerary a million times, so nothing felt new or exciting. But it was really good to get away from the Eastern Sierra and get some distance from the last few painful months.
After the River trips I was scheduled to be up in Alaska on a different ship in May, but I had a few days to kill in Seattle before taking the northbound Inside Passage trip from Seattle to Sitka on the NG Sea Lion. I met up with some riders from the Evergreen Mountain Bike Club and the Crank Sisters and they showed me around Tiger Mountain and Raging River. The Tiger Mountain ride was one of the muddiest and most fun rides I’ve ever been on. I will for sure return to explore further!
June was a great month and by this time I was finally getting over my heartbreak and feeling like a productive, engaged human again. I met my dad at the airport in Seattle and we drove north to Squamish for 10 days of amazing mountain biking over my birthday. Squamish is magical! The forest, the views, the machine-built flow tracks, and the rugged DH lines – it’s all so stellar. We rode pretty much every day for 10 days straight and didn’t run out of new trails to explore. Unfortunately, we didn’t get up to Whistler to ride the bike park, but that will definitely be a future trip.
After our Squamish trip, I had one more contract on the ships up in Alaska before driving back down to California to housesit for my brother and sister-in-law.
July was spent mainly at the Mammoth Bike Park. As I mentioned in the intro, I met a pretty awesome guy and we spent long days shredding the pumicey singletrack that is Mammoth mountain. It was awesome. I was scheduled to return to the ships at the end of July and I did… for one week. But during the middle of that week, I was struck by something akin to an anxiety attack. I couldn’t do the ships anymore. I didn’t want to be there and I didn’t want to keep relying on Lindblad as a backup plan. I wanted off the ships for good, so I quit. And it was a burn-the-bridge kind of quit because I was supposed to stay on the ship for another two weeks ?♀️ My boss was surprisingly chill about it. She said she understood and wished me the best of luck with my next adventures. And that was that. I headed back to Bishop without a plan, but with a big sense of relief that I didn’t have to do ship life anymore.
In August I flew across the country to Vermont (where I’m from) for three weeks of east coast riding with my dad. Will, Louisa, and baby Eve came too. Every year my dad and his mountain bike club put on a full-day 35+ mile ride called the Tour de Valley and I try to get back for it whenever I can. It’s always epic and always a ton of fun. The route traverses several zones that were built by my dad and his club and the riding is some of the best in Vermont. And if you haven’t heard, Vermont has kinda blown up on the mountain bike scene. There is riding everywhere. We also did a quick two-day escape to East Burke and the Kingdom Trails, which was a blast and we explored the networks of Cady’s Falls and Perry Hill as well as the Killington Bike Park. And… I got a new bike! My old Devinci was severely abused and needed to be put out to greener pastures, so I upgraded to a 2020 Santa Cruz Bronson and I’m in love…
Andy and I tried to fit in as much Mammoth Bike Park riding as we could in September before the park closed down for the season and we managed pretty well – 4 days a week at least. It’s always sad for the season to come to an end – especially this year when the park didn’t fully open until July because of all the snow. But we had plenty more riding planned. On the last week of September Andy and I embarked on an epic three-week mountain bike road trip around the southwest. It was truly epic: 2,370 miles, 6 states, 2 bike parks, and all-around amazing riding (although Teocalli Ridge was only good for my homepage photo…) We started in Bishop, CA (home) and drove straight to Moab where we crushed The Whole Enchilada and Captain Ahab’s. Then we hit up the small but mighty Crested Butte Evolution Bike Park and surrounding trails like Dr.’s Park, which was phenomenal. Andy had to be in Boulder for a quick meeting so we detoured up there (with an exploratory jaunt down Vitamin B. The verdict: amazing) before swinging south to New Mexico and the insanely fun Angel Fire Bike Park and South Boundary Trail. We chose to ride Flagstaff over Sedona on the way back, but if done again I would definitely opt for Sedona. It’s my favorite place to ride!
2020 goals include: get back to Angel Fire bike park and ride Vitamin B trail again. and again. and again.
A mountain biker’s summer in the Eastern Sierra isn’t complete without a trip to Downieville, so toward the end of fall Andy and I did a quick trip north to ride the Downieville Classic (the trail link-up, not the race) and to explore the magic that has been happening over in nearby Quincy. If you’ve never been to Downieville, it’s awesome – it’s worth a trip every year. If you’ve never been to Quincy, put it on your 2020 calendar NOW.
I’d heard about ROAM Fest and all the amazing events that the ladies behind ROAM put on for women riders, but I hadn’t actually participated until this year. It needed to happen. So in November, I headed to Sedona to experience the three-day, all-women mountain bike event that is ROAM Fest. It was awesome. Three days filled with group rides, tons of demos, free food and drinks, amazing people, and tons of mtb stoke! The only downside was that I went by myself and even though it was pretty awesome, I’m not sure I’d sign up as a ‘single lady’ again. Who wants to join me for 2020?
Then shortly after getting back from Sedona, I headed to Santa Cruz, California for a 10-day housesit. It was one of the most high-maintenance housesits I’ve done to-date because the two doodles were very needy and energetic, but I did manage to get some rides in at Wilder Ranch, Demo Forest, and the campus trails. I was also there for the storm that rolled through and it seriously rained – downpoured – for three days straight. California does really needs the rain, though…
After a very busy last few months (or should I say a year?) December has been pretty quiet. My body needs a rest and I feel like I’ve been making up for calorie deficiency by eating ALL the holiday treats. We’ve been riding the Chipmunk trails in Bishop a bit, but it also feels good to have a break from the bike. That won’t last for long because Andy and I will be spending New Years in Sedona!
My Year In Numbers
Countries visited | 2
United States and Canada
New countries visited | 0
Gasp! No new countries in 2019. I’ll have to make it up in 2020…
States visited | 9
California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Vermont, New Mexico (a first!)
Plane rides taken | 6
Different sleeping situations | 5
friends & family: 207
(working on this for 2020!)
ship cabin: 41
Mountain Bike Trips | 5
Days on a Bike | 135
What’s In Store For 2020
SO MANY FUN THINGS! I’m truly excited for the new year. It’s been a minute since I’ve actually felt excited about planning future adventures because as I mentioned in the intro, the last few years have been a bit up and down (more like A LOT up and down). But now life seems to have stabilized (ha) and hopefully I can focus my time and energy on fun things that make me happy. So what makes planning for 2020 exciting instead of a drag? For one thing, I don’t have to fly back to the ships every couple of weeks which is a HUGE relief! It’s true that I quit without much of a plan B but at least I’m making the pivot that I want to make instead of staying in a situation that was physically and emotionally draining. But enough of that, here’s what is in store for 2020:
- We’re staring the year off in Sedona! Andy and I will spend New Years in one of the most beautiful places in the US and get some awesome riding in
- Then… there’s a very good chance that we’ll be heading back home with a slightly-use-but-basically-brand-new Winnebago Travato. What!? Let the road trips commence.
- I’m also really excited about setting up a home base in Bishop. I haven’t really had a home since leaving Seattle in early 2017, so I’ve basically been living out of my packing cubes for the last three years. It’s time to unpack.
- Along the lines of setting up a home base, I’d also like to work on building a community here in Bishop. There’s a rad group of riders on the eastside and I’d like to be more intentional with connecting with people – on and off the bike.
- I also have two housesits already slated for spring. I’ll spend 10 days in Phoenix and a week in Las Vegas. There’s plenty of mountain biking in both cities so I’ll be putting together guides and posts about how to mountain bike your way through each!
- I’ll be heading back to Vermont for the 2020 Tour de Valley in August and I’m contemplating making it one big road trip out there… Think of how much riding I could do between California and Vermont…
- It’s also been awhile since I’ve done an international trip for fun. I think my last trip outside the US was to Colombia in 2018. I need to get my traveling shoes back on and go on some adventures! Preferably with my bike… Japan has been calling my name so maybe back to Asia?