There’s a good chance that affiliate links are scattered throughout this post. If you click on one I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you and I’ll definitely be using it to buy bike gear.
Wow, what a year 2020 was, right? Between the ramifications of COVID, distressing politics, catastrophic wildfires, hurricanes, and who knows what else, it was definitely a year to remember. And while there were a lot of gut-wrenching things that happened over the last 12 months, there were some things to celebrate as well (like more time on bikes!).
It’s been a tradition for me to sit down and write a year in review each year to reflect on how the past 12 months went and make a game plan for the New Year. So I hope 2020 ended on a high note for you and you have big plans for 2021. Here is my 2020 year in review.
Where I Was in 2020
Spring | sedona, phoenix, hurricane, caliente
Summer | angel fire, salida, downieville, tahoe, kingdom trails/vermont
Fall | kingdom trails/vermont, bentonville, angel fire, buena vista
Winter | sedona, bishop (home)
2020 in a nutshell
2020 had its ups and downs that’s for sure! It wasn’t all bad, but it definitely had plenty of struggles. Here are some of the best and worst (or should we say ‘learning opportunities’) of 2020:
The Best of 2020
- We bought a van! Bandit has been such a great addition to our road trips. I will now never be able to camp without a shower…
- Lockdown meant not being able to work as a massage therapist and I was able to put a lot of time and effort into Two Wheeled Wanderer. I’ve focused on creating a website that (I hope!) has inspired more people to explore the world on two wheels. I saw massive growth in blog traffic this past year and I have big plans for what I want to accomplish in 2021 and beyond!
- We did a cross-country road trip to Vermont and spent 6 weeks at my dad’s house. I can’t remember how long it had been since I spent more than a week or two back home. It felt really good to relax into a slower Vermont pace and mountain bike with my dad almost every day.
- BENTONVILLE. This was probably the biggest highlight for me. I LOVED Bentonville, Arkansas. Not only for its amazing riding, but also the town and community, and greenness (I live in the desert and there is no green). We’ll be heading back for the full month of March!
- Our first bikepacking trip! We did an overnight in Sedona and it was so much fun. I can’t wait to do more!
The Worst of 2020
- COVID…. and everything that it affected: countless deaths, small businesses going under, dividing people even further… I can’t wait until this nightmare is over. On the bright side, the vaccine is here and finger’s crossed we’ll be able to get it before summer bike season!
- I had a really sweet housesit lined up in Squamish for TWO WEEKS in June and we had to cancel because of Coronavirus. I had another one in Baja over Christmas that I canceled as well because I didn’t feel right about traveling ?.
- The California wildfires. Luckily we were on the east coast for much of the wildfire season, but the smoke still poured into the town that we live in in the Eastern Sierra and our friends were telling us that it was one of the worst wildfire/smoke experiences they’ve ever had. It’s so sad that ‘wildfire season’ is even a thing now. Climate change is real, people!
2020 in Detail
What a FULL month January was! The New Year started off a bit slow because Andy and I were still recovering from lingering colds that left us drained and fatigued (or maybe that was due to our epic mountain bike agenda that ran from July to November… anyway, we spent New Years in Sedona riding some new trails that I had yet to pedal – like Grand Central (awesome) and Herkenham (also awesome). Then we drove down to Phoenix for a day and we bought a van! Not just any van… a 2020 Winnebago Travato that comes with a bathroom and shower. I know showers are a bit of a contentious topic among van dwellers, but I don’t think many vanlifers are mountain bikers. If they were, they would know that a shower is non-negotiable. So there was that.
After Sedona, we chilled for a bit and then headed back to Arizona for a 10-day housesit with two amazing Goldendoodles in Phoenix. We rode a ton of singletrack around the city like the National Trail and Hawes – which was my favorite network. Phoenix is way underrated when it comes to mountain biking. There are miles upon miles of amazing trail literally right outside of the city!
The Phoenix housesit ran into the beginning of February and over the course of those 10 days, we managed to put in over 90 miles of riding and we didn’t cover nearly everything that Phoenix has to offer. I’m itching to get back to explore the areas that we missed. On our way back from Phoenix, we stopped in Kingman to check out the Monolith Gardens loop. Verdict? It’s awesome! The landscape is so cool and the lower loop is definitely worth a pedal if you’re passing through Kingman, AZ.
Just after we returned from Phoenix, my dad flew in for a few weeks of playtime. We pedaled our local trails in Bishop and then headed south to Palm Springs to ride the Palm Canyon Epic. If you haven’t done this ride yet you.need.to.go. It’s epic. Think 28+ miles of backcountry riding with incredible views and plenty of engaging riding to keep it fun and interesting. You’re welcome.
Wow, what a month March was, huh? If you don’t remember it let me jog your memory. Coronavirus. That was basically March. My big (and first! ?) bikepacking trip to Catalina Island was canceled due to the pandemic and we were mostly stuck in self-quarantine at home with only the briefest of outings to our local trails for some much need fresh air and exercise. Andy did get started on building a new trail which is pretty cool.
And… COVID-19 was still running rampant around the world throughout April. As you probably recall, pretty much everything in the US came to a standstill. Events were canceled, weddings were postponed, we were given orders to stay at home unless going out was absolutely necessary, etc… good times, right? Not really… the beginning of April was pretty tough for me mentally – my PMBIA and Wilderness First Responder courses were canceled as were my early Trek Dirt Series coaching camps in Whistler. Also, the owner of the spa that I work at in Mammoth announced that she was closing her business for good and that was heartbreaking news (although more so because it was sad to see a good business go under rather than my work being stopped. I’m honestly ready to move on from being a massage therapist…)
But things started to improve in mid-April. I signed up for two blogging courses to help me propel Two Wheeled Wanderer forward. I’m hopeful that someday it will be my full-time job! So far both courses have both been really helpful, motivating, and insightful.
Later in April, Andy and I also decided – perhaps controversially – that we needed to head out for a little trip in Bandit – our van. To be fair, Bandit is a fully contained RV meaning that we have a shower, toilet, sink, and kitchen. The only ‘contact’ we needed to make was grocery shopping and fueling up, both of which we need to do back home anyway.
May was more hunkering down at home, lots of blog work, and plenty of rides around our local trails. COVID didn’t seem to be going anywhere soon so I doubled down on my blog courses (namely learning about SEO and updating a ton of old posts ?).
The weather was changing fast from spring to summer, but there was no word whatsoever from Mammoth about whether they were going to open the bike park for the season, so… Andy and I bought season passes to Angel Fire bike park in New Mexico!
We packed up the van again and headed west toward New Mexico for Memorial Day weekend. We spent two full days cruising the bike park (lift service never felt so good) and then we turned Bandit north to visit some friends in Salida, Colorado. This was my first time in Salida and I LOVED it. Such a cute town with great riding and an awesome vibe. We also rode my favorite trail of all time – Vitamin B in Buena Vista – and then spent about five days exploring the awesome trail network of Hartmans Rocks. If you haven’t ridden Hartmans Rocks yet – go. It’s amazing.
Guess what? COVID-19 was still rocking everyone’s boat in June. But for the most part, I think people were getting back outside and starting to live their normal lives again – as much as possible. The Mammoth Bike Park did open on the last weekend in June (hoorah!) but before that Andy and I and my brother and sister-in-law and two-year-old niece took a quick trip over to Downieville for a few days of awesome riding. We did the Downieville Classic (of course) and we also shredded the awesomeness of Mount Hough.
July was dedicated to riding the Mammoth Bike Park so that’s what we did. We rode the mountain at least 3-4 times a week because we knew that we’d be gone for August and the park wouldn’t be open when we got back, so we got after it!
To be honest, I didn’t love Mammoth this year mostly because my bike – a 2020 Trek Remedy 9.9 – was giving me a whole lot of trouble and I just couldn’t get it to feel dialed.
We also had more mechanicals on the mountain than I’ve ever had in my life – flats left and right and three broken rims. It was a tough season at the bike park.
We did venture to Tahoe at the end of the month to ride the Tahoe Rim & Flume Trail (awesome!) and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (didn’t love but I’m willing to try it again).
August was a super fun month! Andy and I packed up Bandit and then drove across the country to Vermont to hang out with my dad. We initially planned the trip to coincide with the annual Tour de Valley, a mountain bike event put on by my dad’s mountain bike club, but… COVID. There was still a mini-tour with some friends and family (my brother and sister-in-law flew out, too) but it was nothing like the numbers or shenanigans of normal tours. I also bonked really hard and ended up skipping the last 7 or so miles…
After recovering from the Tour, we headed up to the Kingdom Trails for a few days of incredible riding. If you haven’t visited the Kingdom Trails yet, they are well worth a spot on your mountain bike destination wish list! I scored a housesit up there, so we had a nice place to stay for a few nights while we rode. Then we headed up to Maine for a week of relaxation (and a bit of riding) at our family camp.
In between all that we rode a ton around my dad’s house (which has some of the best mountain biking in Vermont), Stowe, and a few other zones farther afield. August was a mountain bike-packed month!
We were initially supposed to only stay in Vermont for a few weeks, but we kept pushing our departure date back because the wildfires in California were so bad that the whole Owen’s Valley where we live was blanketed in smoke. Everyone we talked to back home was like, “don’t come back”. So we didn’t. We ended up staying in Vermont until the end of September, which was fine by me! I hadn’t spent a lot of time back home in a long time, so it was really good to hang out with family and just relax to the pace of Vermont life.
When we finally did get back on the road, we drove Bandit south to Rhode Island to spend a few days with my mom and family down there. The weather was crappy, so we didn’t really get to ride, but according to TrailForks there’s actually looks to be some decent mountain biking in Rhode Island. We’ll just have to go back.
From Rhode Island, we booked our way south and west toward Arkansas. Originally, our return trip was supposed to take us north to the upper peninsula of Michigan, but since we left Vermont so late in the season, we didn’t want to risk wintery weather. So, we decided to check out Bentonville, Arkansas, which has been on my radar for a while. And it DID NOT disappoint. In fact, I loved it so much that we’re going back for the whole month of March and we’re even considering moving there at some point ?♀️
What did I love about it so much? ALL the riding. There is SO much trail in and around Bentonville and it’s all purpose-built for mountain bikers. There are flow tracks, jump lines, cross-country trails, and even legit DH stuff in nearby Leatherwood State Park. The Walton Foundation is to thank – they’ve poured millions of dollars into this town and have truly transformed it into the Mountain Bike Capital Of The World. I can’t wait to go back!
After spending a short week in Bentonville, we continued west back toward home. We stopped at Angel Fire Bike Park for a final weekend of lift-served action and then I lined up a quick housesit in Buena Vista, Colorado where we checked out some awesome new trail networks.
After being away from home and on the road for 2.5 months, November was a pretty mellow month. We did venture out to Sedona for our first bikepacking trip – the Robbers Roost Overnighter – which was awesome. It was only one night, but I’m stoked to get back out on my Santa Cruz Chameleon for longer bikepacking adventures. Other than that, we rested, relaxed, and enjoyed the trail networks at home!
December was also pretty mellow since COVID was really ramping up in California. We pretty much stayed home, rode our local trails, and planned some fun two-wheeled adventures for 2021!
My Year In Numbers
Countries biked in | 1
New countries biked in | 0
States biked in | 10
california, nevada, utah, arizona, colorado, new mexico, vermont, maine, rhode island, arkansas
Distance Pedaled | 2,170 mi
Time on a Bike | 302h
Elev Gain | 296,335 ft ft
Rides Ridden | 179
(*bike park chairlifts & shuttles included in stats)
What’s in store for 2021
Fingers and toes crossed that 2021 is going to be a bit better than 2020 was, right? While this past year has allowed me to shift gears and focus on building a life and career that I’m super excited about, I REALLY miss travel, big group rides, and the excitement of exploring new places. With the vaccine on the horizon, I’m optimistic that 2021 is going to be a great year! Here are a few fun things we have planned:
- Bikepacking the White Rim. We have our permits to do a two-night bikepacking trip along Moab’s White Rim in March. Weather can be iffy that time of year, so fingers crossed the skies will be clear.
- Back to Bentonville. We booked an Airbnb in Bentonville for a month, which I am so, so excited about. Bentonville really drew me in when we were there in October and I can’t wait to go back. The riding is incredible and the town of Bentonville is super cute. There’s also plenty of other networks nearby that we have yet to explore!
- Oaxaca. We signed up for a week-long mountain biking adventure in Oaxaca, Mexico over Dia de los Muertes and I am SO EXCITED. Covid better not f*ck this up.
- A 6-week bikepacking trip through England? This is my dream trip and I’m hoping that it will work out in 2021. I want to bike the 750-mile Great North Trail from Central England all the way up to the top of Scotland. Anyone want to join me?
And that’s a wrap! 2020 was definitely a year to remember, but truthfully it wasn’t all bad and I hope yours wasn’t either. We got to go on some amazing adventures, I worked really hard on this blog, and we have some super fun things to look forward to in 2021.
What were the highlights of your year?