At first I was hesitant. But my number one amiga wanted to go for her first bikepack and I couldn’t say no. After spending weeks sleeping in the dirt and living off my bike in Nepal, I’m still a little burnt out on the idea. To be honest with you, all I really want to to do is go to the bar, skateboard, and maybe cruise some easy miles around the park on my singlespeed. But I am not one to stop the stoke, so off we went into the desert.
We set a stout yet attainable goal of 28 miles to camp and then ride out the next day. One of those oh so hot and trendy Sub-24 hour overnights. I figured it was good excuse to shake down some new gear, get some solid singlespeed miles in, all while introducing somebody to the odd fun that is bikepacking. It was all really good in theory.
The ride looked to be doomed right from the start. It seemed like anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. We had a late start and then I forgot some stuff at the trailhead and had to go back. Then a thorn in the sidewall gave me a flat. I threw a tube in there and proceeded to pinch it in the bead and flat again 50 feet down the trail. Then the crashes happened. It wasn’t pretty. We were only 10 miles into the ride, moving at a snail’s pace, and already running out of daylight. But as I sat there in the dirt fixing my self induced flat tire, I remembered the sweet little camp spot we passed about a half mile back. Screw it, let’s make camp there and stop this rolling junk show for the day.
My first reaction in this situation is to get grumpy. We rode so little that I didn’t even feel it in my legs. We came all the way out here and didn’t even come close to the arbitrary objective I had set. But I had to remind myself that this trip wasn’t about me, it was about fun facilitating a first timer. Luckily, all of that negativity started to go away as soon as I started to make camp. We were gifted with a perfectly flat spot on top of a hill with an amazing view at sunset. Then, as I was looking around for a place to put the tent, I found a little stack of firewood. So I made a little fire before the sun went down to fend off the chill of the desert night that was quickly approaching. Things were shaping up.
Right about the time I had the brilliant idea to put the peanut butter sandwich wrapped in tinfoil on the fire to toast it, the giant full moon started to rise. I wish a picture could have done it justice. But a full moon in the desert, rising behind the rolling hills of Saguaro and Ocotillo cacti, is really something you need to see in person.
The view with my morning coffee was even better at sunrise than it was at sunset. We broke camp and made our way back towards the trailhead and cold beer. I had noticed an old mine tailing pile on a hillside the day before. So we decided to take a little detour and check it out. Sure enough, there was an old abandoned mine shaft cut right into the side of the mountain. I’m not one for small places, so we went in about 100 yards and chickened out. It was pretty cool, nonetheless.
This ride went from flat tires, crashes, and failed objectives to Blackberry Whiskey and Old Chub around a campfire under a full moon, followed up with a killer sunrise and exploring some places I have never been before. Combine that all with a first-time bikepacker who can’t wait to do it all again. And I’d say this was one great ride.
Hot damn! Bikes are cool.
…keep it dirtyby