The Art of the Road Trip in Seven Only Slightly Convoluted Steps



It’s rare that I do multiple-installments on the same topic outside of a stage race, but a three week road trip is akin to a grand tour, complete with long transfers and a ridiculous number of miles traveled, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. At our last check-in, we’d covered the numerical basics of what was on track, but now it’s time to delve into the details.

Without further ado, here are the seven key take away points to plot a successful road trip.

1. Link Your Trip Through Events. You should hit the road and just start driving, but then there’s no real motivation nor destination. If you find just one event you really want to do, then simply find/make an excuse to link it to another event somewhere else within driving distance and BOOM, the blueprints for you road trip are established. Our stop numero uno was Ketchum, ID for Rebecca’s Private Idaho plus testing out year one of the Queen’s Stage Race. Better yet, even within the course of the four day Labor Day weekend there was the famous Ketchum Wagon Days parade which is a supremely cool event unto itself.

First things first, arrive to Ketchum with just one speeding ticket. Next, go for a ride.

Then convene and talk smack at the start of the stage race:

Oh right, Tip 1.A.: Make the world a better place and Add Philanthropy to Your Trip. I’ve long been involved with World Bicycle Relief, so it was super cool to have this terrific crew in Idaho as part of the weekend’s festivities, with a terrific photo from Linda Guerrette. Why are we dressed in such decorative attire because this is moments before launching into the parade, rumored to be the largest non-motorized parade in America. Or something like that. There’s a pair of camels and a white buffalo so you know it’s legit.Here’s a shot of our dynamic duo doing stunts; this dangerous maneuver is called “the hot potato tandem”.

Tangent to step one is Step 1.B: Add Competition to the Plate. You’ve probably guessed that when going to a stage race and/or RPI, we’re going to a bike race environment. Good guess. The race was freakin’ sweet, races rather, since the stage race was fun and the original RPI was a total blast. But whether you’re there to smash it or just have a great time with friends, I highly recommend paying this event a visit.

Understandably, maybe riding gravel at terrifically high speeds isn’t your thing, so for others there’s Gelande Quaffing. What’s that? It’s a) hilarious and b) not really worth explaining so much as recommending you Google it. Or better yet, YouTube it. Check out that focus — again, thanks Linda for the pic!

2. Go MultiModal. Which is code for bring your gravel and mountain bike. Which may be difficult if you don’t have either of those or if you don’t consider yourself a mountain biker or gravel grinder. Therefore let tip number two be a firm recommendation to get a mountain bike. (Reminder, in a pinch you can do gravel rides on a mountain bike.)  And why do you need a mountain bike, you ask? Because of this

And this

And this

And this

3. Bask Amongst the Local Architecture. By most people’s estimation, that means look at nearby buildings and prominent edifices, maybe even scope some houses. All fair guests, but what I really mean is BRIDGES ARE SWEET.

Westfir, Oregon

Seattle, Washington

Somewhere north of Vancouver, BC, Caaaaanada.

Somewhere in Vancouver.

Another short of Saint Nowhere, Vancouver.

Seattle. Washington.

Stanley Park, Vancouver.

4. Go Outside Your Comfort Zone. Waking up really early is fun. While the rest of the world slumbers, there’s an elegant calm draped over it all. Time speeds up as you approach what most would consider a normal waking our since this perfectly peaceful time to yourself is fleeting. It’s poetic.

But waking up stupidly early is important too! I think 6am is early. 5am is really really early. And anything before 5am is in the realm of just dumb. But stepping outside of my comfort zone so worth it from time to time, especially as a means to an end. In this case, starting the Whistler Gran Fondo at 6:40am involves a heinously early wakeup in order to race from Vancouver to Whistler along the breathtaking Sea to Sky Highway.

I still embrace competition so going toe to toe with 100 other pros, former pros, and elite riders duking it out for a $15,000 first place prize check sounds like a fun Saturday morning in my book. But the dark cloud to that silver lining is that after a relatively pleasant (and eerily early) opening ten miles, the sky opened up and we made our way the subsequent 60 in a chilly rain, plus taking the final wet, painted roads, corner-heavy technical 500 meters sprinting it out for a massive check was a tad hair-raising. Buuuut that’s the cost of entry to escape your comfort zone. Photo, TLBVeloPhotography.

I love skiing. Skiing in my book involves riding the chairlift. I enjoy mountain biking, as we’ve recently discussed. But mountain biking the way I’ve always done it involves riding up and riding down. So late in the day on day two in Idaho, after a rigorous morning hill climb time trial, my beloved Laura and pal Tony were going mountain biking after work and because I’d seen some pretty stellar photos from their ride the day prior, epic was once again on their horizon and I didn’t want to miss out. Solution? Lift access, bruh! Nothing like 17 miles of single track late in the day to make you feel alive. And ever so slightly less exhausted than had we pedaled off.

All the braap

“Tony, take our picture”

5. Be Social. In my case I’m a big fan of leading group rides. Maybe spearheading a group ride is outside your comfort zone or isn’t in your wheelhouse, but from Step 4 we recognize that can be valuable. Regardless, lead or join, being part of a group ride allows you to meet cool, likeminded people plus you can nerd out on all cycling speak to your heart’s content (remember, Joey at the office just doesn’t care how loamy the gnar was this weekend).

New friends:

Vancouver friends. 

Seattle friends.

Idahoans.

Different Seattle friends.

So my recommendation is to lead a ride, attend a ride, investigate your local shop about ongoing group rides because riding alone can be a blast. Riding with homies is outstanding.

6. Seek Awesome. I’m mostly referring to seeing and seeking awe inspiring scenery, but you can do with this what you’d like. Taking photos of these enormous expanses is fun. It’s amazing how often you see something magnificent and it doesn’t turn out when you snap a photo. But every so often your phone can capture even a small sliver of the magnificence of what’s in front of you. My heart is forever tied to New England, but man oh man, the expanses of the wild wild west are truly awesome.

Snoqualmie Falls, outside Seattle.

Trailridge Road near Ketchum.

Just another gravel road outside of Ketchum.

Mount Rainier

Mountain on mountains on (smoky) mountains.

7. Come home happy. Three weeks. Three awesome weeks. Trust me, we know that we both have some amazing jobs that allow this kind of enterprising trip. Laura and I visited some pretty incredible places, some old and some new, we saw family and friends, we competed, we won, we lost, we worked our tails off both on the bike and off, and had an absolute blast throughout. Ketchum and all of Idaho was entirely new to me. I’ve been to Whistler before but that was literally more than half my life ago. Until this trip, I’d only ridden road races in Oregon, so it was eye opening to shred mountain bikes all over central Oregon (pro tip: go!). We’re home, we’re happy and healthy, and excited for the next adventure poking its head up on the horizon. But in the meantime, are very content to be back and in full recognition what we have. We’re lucky, we’re blessed. Peace.



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