A Summer, Fall and Winter Exploring the Outdoors – AND Neglecting my Blog

That’s right. As many other exercise nuts have likewise professed on the interwebs, this was a soul-searching and for many (me included) soul-inspiring summer in the outdoors. Less racing, yes. But that doesn’t mean less riding.

The Beauty of a Spontaneous Summer and Fall

In fact, not having a specific goal between August and January was liberating for me in some ways. I definitely missed races, but without them I didn’t fixate on one athletic pursuit and was able to head out and do whatever suited my fancy.

A 132 mile bike loop along the newly established C2C trail? Sure!

A 12 mile trail run through Silver Falls? No problem.

Strap the bike to my moto (yeah, that also happened this summer) and do morning bike rides followed by afternoon moto rides in Oakridge. Why not?!

Of Hobby Masters and Homesteading

Plus, with continued social distancing due to COVID, political tensions, historic fires followed by historically dismal air quality for weeks, Trish and I both learned how to more effectively live, work, hobby, and ultimately thrive within the comfort of our home. We slowly built up a competent home gym for ourselves, I threw together a much more sustainable home office for my work as a school counselor, and Trish and I both have rekindled our love for reading.

What the middle of the day looked like outside our house during the historic Oregon summer fires.

We also were able to continue our love of van camping, seeing friends in the relative socially-distanced safety of the outdoors, and spend a LOT of quality time with our pets.

D.I.N.K Alert

Important acknowledgment: we have it SO EASY compared to many others. We have stable jobs, healthy habits, and a relationship that has grown ever closer throughout this past year. COVID didn’t beat us. Political discord didn’t beat us. Fires and involuntary home arrest didn’t beat us (ok, that one almost beat us). But we’re privileged middle-class white people with a good home, good jobs, and few adversities to overcome. Life’s just not fair sometimes.

Long Live 2020. ALL HAIL 2021!

That being said, 2020 was a growing year for everyone – including us – and now, here we are. It’s 2021. COVID still dominates a heavy load of concern in our world, but while climate change and political concerns continue to permeate the news, I’m more optimistic about the possibility of some constructive bipartisan dialog in our political system – that optimism ebbs and flows daily (sometimes hourly) but it feels a whole lot better now than it did for the past four years, that’s for sure.

In all, 2020 was a tough year, but also a year of building new skills (did I mention I learned to buzz my own hair?!), assessing priorities, and developing adaptive skills. With a number of race events on the horizon, a new bikepacking event a friend and I have created (more on that very soon), and big trips in their rough draft stages, I’m really excited for what lies ahead this year, and I hope you all are too.

Categories: Opinions

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2 replies »

  1. Hey, Ben,
    Thanks for the post and for the gorgeous photos! I’m looking forward to getting out in the wilderness more with retirement on the horizon. Also, thinking of having my LBS build a bikepacking rig up from the Velo Orange Piolet frameset with Jones H-bar. Curious if you have any knowledge of this company and any key suggestions, based on your vast experience. Remember, I am old and not a racer:)
    Hope you have a great year of adventures in 2021!
    your friend,

    • Haha! This comment made me laugh out loud, Eric. I’m somewhat familiar with Velo Orange – more because of their randonneur-style bags than their bike frames – but in looking over the specs of that frame, I think it looks like a great option. I like that it has eyelets basically everywhere for numerous bikepacking setups, a threaded bottom bracket, a stable and non-suspension corrected fork (as long as you’re not planning to make this into a MTB shredder), and tons of tire options. For you as a taller rider, 29’ers make the most sense, and being able to roll on anything from 1.8-2.4 inches is pretty awesome.

      My only question would be frame material. Steel lasts forever, which is awesome, but it’s also the heaviest choice when selecting a frame. Going aluminum if you’re on a budget, or carbon/titanium if you’re not, can make for pretty solid weight reduction, which saves the kneecaps from blowing up when you’re loaded down. But if you’re wanting a bike that should last a lifetime or aren’t as concerned about weight as I am these days, then I’d say go for it!

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