I’ve been wanting to ride Fruita for years, and I finally made it here. Joined by my brother in law, this was my first ride in Colorado in years … a bit of groovy, technical flow dirt church on a Sunday morning.
In what seems like forever ago, last December, Kelly and I applied for, and were accepted as summer volunteers at the #sawtoothnationalrecreationarea visitor center near Ketchum, Idaho.
Somehow, nearly four months have passed since our arrival in May, concluding what will have been our longest pause since launching into full-time travel 4.5yrs ago.
Today was our last day volunteering and tomorrow we say goodbye to this special area (and full hook-ups 😂).
Joined by my brother-in-law, today I completed my first proper bike race in years today. Rebecca’s Private Idaho is one of the most popular gravel rides in he country, and despite the dust and dirt, I had loads of fun riding the 58 mile course.
Desperately seeking escape from the Chicago concrete jungle, a few weeks ago my buddy John inquired about flying out to Idaho for a visit.
As one of my long-time besties, bro-code protocol mandates I do all I can to show him a good time. Motivated to ensure his visit would be a good one, I immediately began planning a multi-day backcountry camping trip deep into the Sawtooth Wilderness Area.
It is humbling being deep in nature’s territory. The mountains are magnificent; they are bold and reign supreme. Wandering the trails, John and I felt small and insignificant.
Beautiful as any image may be, pictures simply do not fully capture the beauty of these remote areas.
I awoke this morning to a flood of messages; so many people reaching out in support of Lilly, Kelly, and me. Honestly, I was overwhelmed, and I cannot thank this community enough.
Still not feeling myself and looking for any excuse to avoid the morning, I did what I always do when I need to clear my head. I rode my bike.
With no real route in mind, I simply pedaled. Soon enough I was out of town – past as few secret fly-fishing holes, beyond the remnants of the winter avalanche fields, then into the backcountry towards the pass looming ahead.
40 miles of pedals doing what they do – powering the hum of tires whizzing atop gravel. The process is always a calming one for me. Of course, this scenery helps.
Thank you again for all the warm thoughts.
Goodbyes are tough.
A few days ago, Kelly and I did just that with our dog Lilly.
A combination of age coupled with a handful of related ailments finally got the best of her. True to her stubborn nature, Lilly fought the good fight throughout, but ultimately, she lost the war.
We could have asked Lilly to continue fighting. Likely, she could have done so for a few more months, but Kelly and I knew it was wrong to place such a burden onto her. It would not have been fair to prolong her life at our benefit, over hers.
Despite never saying the word, it was time for the inevitable. Kelly and I both knew it, and painful as it was to accept, it was time.
We were happy to accompany her on a final evening walk through town, along her favorite grassy route, and be there to comfort her during final breaths.
Kelly and I cried a flood of tears at the end. And many times since then.
A universal truth amongst dog owners is a belief that their dog was the best dog ever – Kelly and I feel exactly the same about Lilly.
Thank you, Lilly, for forcing us to be patient. Thank you for leading us down the unexplored paths. Thank you for making us laugh. Thank you for slowing our pace at times to appreciate the scenery immediately at our feet.
Mostly, thank you for being such a wondering and loving member of our family. We will miss you dearly.
There is something magical about long loop bile rides in the wilderness backcountry.
I’m not gonna lie – the 2,500ft climb nearly 14 miles to the 9,600ft summit today was harder than I was expecting.
That said, propelled by stunning views, a solid Spotify playlist, and the promise of a killer descent, it wasn’t too hard making peace with mountains on their terms, in their turf.
Finally, the summit was reached and the eight miles descending back to the truck made all the uphill suffering totally worth the effort.
Idaho backcountry simply doesn’t disappoint.