Road Trip – 2023

SpokesmanMTB Map

Later this year, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be installing the bike rack onto the 4Runner and hitting the road. For six weeks. All by myself.

If you know me and if you watch my channel, you’re already aware of the fact that I occasionally take trips like this one. These trips involve long days of driving, stopping in locations that I have never traveled to before, and taking chances on first-time trails, local food choices, hit-or-miss accommodations, and random encounters with people I have never met; usually at breweries. 

This voyage will be no exception. 

On my first trip, I traveled for three weeks and saw riding locations in California, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. That’s the trip where I discovered Durango; the town that I can’t seem to stop talking about and that I now call home. 

My second trip took me across the southern United States to North Carolina. I drove and rode through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. I made my way home through Kansas and Colorado. That was a long one, but I made it through just fine, and I learned a lot about America. For instance; there aren’t a whole lot of challenging trail systems in Oklahoma for a guy who grew up riding in Santa Cruz.

This trip will be the longest of all of them. In fact, it should be longer, both in terms of time and distance, than the other two combined. I’ll be leaving around mid-September and arriving back home in late October. This is the big deal – the long ride – the odyssey.

So, where am I going?

I’ll be leaving my happy Durango home and heading North through Utah. I may or may not stop in Moab, but my first major stop will be in Salt Lake City. I’m looking at riding Corner Canyon or Round Valley – I haven’t decided yet. 

From there, I’ll travel to Helena, Montana. South Hills looks like a promising day on the bike. 

Spearfish, South Dakota is where they keep the The Black Hills. Those trails look fun. 

Duluth, Minnesota was not originally on my route but I added it because everyone seemed to love the riding there. Spirit Mountain and other local trails promise to make this a memorable stop.

Copper Harbor, Michigan is a must-see. It has been recommended to me by numerous people, and I simply must see it. Marquette is also supposed to be pretty good.

From there, I’ll cross into Canada at Sault St. Marie. The Hiawatha Highlands appears to be a great trail system that I look forward to riding. 

The Walden Trails in Sudbury, Ontario will be my first ride north of the border. From there, I’m hoping to make the long trek into northern New York state. 

Holiday Valley and Holimont Bike Park are my options in Ellicottville, New York. I need to choose one of them before I arrive.

In Bromont, I’ll be riding their namesake trail system and then driving up to Quebec City.

The Sentiers Du Moulin, Mont St. Anne, VBN Secteur Shannahan, and Le Massif de Charlevoix trail systems all have a good reputation, and I hope to see them there. Josh will be joining me on this leg of the trip, and I cannot imagine a better riding partner for these epic trails.

Time to leave Canada and check out New England!

Burke Mountain in Burke, Vermont is a well known bike park that I simply must see while I am visiting. I’ll be arriving a week before their scheduled closing date, so I hope I can make it onto the trails! 

Bartlett and Conway, New Hampshire contain a variety of options from Hurricane Mountain to the Coos Trails to Great Glen. I’m still looking into where I want to land there, but I’ll have two days to do it. 

Killington Bike Park, also in Vermont, is another big stop on the trip. This is a good-sized bike park that has a great reputation and promises to be a lot of fun!

Stopping in Newburyport, Massachusetts will be a good time. I’ll ride the Vietnam trails, which were featured in a well-known BKXC video. This is the place I will touch the Atlantic ocean and maybe rest for a day to take in the sights and great food. 

Vernon, New Jersey is on the way home. Mountain Creek is the place to ride, and I’ll spend a day there. Blue Mountain is also on the list as a back-up option.

Continuing on to State College, PA brings me to Cooper’s Gap. According to the locals, this is the best place to put my tires on the dirt. I’m looking forward to this one!

Toledo, Ohio and nearby Sylvania will allow me to visit an old friend. While there, I may hit the DTE trails north of the city in nearby Chelsea. I have heard great things about that park!

Davenport, Iowa and nearby Sunderbuch Park lie close to the northern Mississippi River and will be a good place to relax and push the pedals just a bit while on my journey west. 

Lewis and Clark Monument Park will greet me in Omaha, Nebraska. This tiny cluster of trails just north of town should be an interesting place to ride. 

Stopping in Colorado Springs will be a big highlight of the trip. A good friend lives there and she will be riding with me and showing off some of the local trails for a day or two. I can’t wait!

Before heading home, I’ll visit the trails in Buena Vista, Colorado. I have been meaning to see these trails first-hand for a while now. This is my chance!

Home to Durango. This will be the final stop on my whirlwind tour, and I’m sure I’ll be happy to pull into my driveway and hug my family. 

The route will cover a variety of trails, parks, and attractions.

Open Days

It is important to keep a few “disposable” days on the schedule to account for issues which may arise on the trip. If I have a mechanical issue (with the car or the bike), I may need a day to address it. Weather? Finances? Unforeseen issues? They can all generally be remedied in a day. 

I will accomplish this by choosing a few days long the trip that are “disposable”. I have 2 days in Spearfish, one can be an open day. Same thing with Saut St. Marie, Sudbury, ON, Bromont, Conway, Toledo, and Louisville. 

No Reservations

I am only making reservations about one week in advance. This costs a bit more, but it allows me to choose and adjust a schedule that can be more fluid and less rigid. I can add or remove days as desired or as needed. 

I do have a friend joining me for the Quebec leg of the journey, so that part will be more rigid on the schedule, but the open plan before and after that stop should make the trip more interesting. 

Touching the Atlantic Ocean

I drove from California to Brevard, NC in 2020. I still regret not making the extra time and “touching” the Atlantic Ocean while there. I will remedy that on this trip. I’m going out of my way to see the eastern seaboard in one spot by visiting Newbutyport, MA. Located just north of Boston, this quaint town should offer a pleasant “East Coast” experience that will allow a day of rest and also give me a chance to see the sea.

Reaching Out to the Masses

I posted this route on Reddit more than once. I also reached out to some traveling mountain biking friends who have done this sort of thing before. As a result of those interactions I have adjusted this route significantly. 

Bozeman, MT was changed to Helena. I removed Toronto and Ottowa altogether in favor of seeing some more hilly country in northern New York state and also to spend more days riding in Quebec. 

Riding Park

I am visiting a variety of bike parks on the trip. Bromont, Mont St. Anne, Le Massif de Charlevoix, Burke Mountain and Killington, VT, Thunder Mountain in Massachusetts, and Mountain Creek in New Jersey are all strong candidates on the trip. I may not be able to pronounce them all correctly, but I hope to ride as many of them as I can. 

I welcome the days of lessened climbing and lift access. These resort communities also tend to have good accommodations near the lifts that make the days easier and lessen the time it takes between finishing the day, storing the bike, and hitting the town for beers and meals.

Racking Up the Miles

As of mid-August, the total mileage on the trip stands at 6772 miles. Those are highway miles and they do not include incidentals like in-town travel, extra drives to trailheads, visiting with locals, and emergency excursions. I expect the final number to pass 7000.

That’s a major undertaking. The fuel pricing alone should total several thousand dollars. When one accounts for accommodations, food stops, bike and 4Runner incidentals, and several oil changes, this trip will end up costing quite a bit of cash! 

Be Prepared

I am only bringing one bike. My Yeti SB-150 should be a solid, safe ride that will allow me to hit every trail I attempt with confidence. But I’m bringing a lot of extra equipment in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly and properly for the duration of the trip.

Among the complement of additional equipment will be:

  • An extra wheelset
  • Back-up drivetrain parts like a rear derailleur, cables, shifters, cassette, chain, and cranks
  • Spare tires
  • An extra saddle
  • A back-up rear shock

In the event that I am unable to repair a component on the bike, I should have a decent selection of back-up parts to keep me up and running smoothly. I also have a list of local bike shops along the route that I can count on to keep my spare parts list stocked and provide more complicated repairs on the fly.

I am bringing my portable tool kit. This kit was modeled after the incredible tool set that was built by Grand Sides for Trek Factory Racing in 2019. It doesn’t contain everything I may need on the road, but it comes close! 

Safety First

I typically ride with 2 GPS systems for redundancy. I’m a bit of a data hoarder, so I really don’t like to miss out on mileage that I can post to Strava or Trailforks. I also own a Garmin InREach which uses iridium satellite communication to call for help in an emergency. Lastly, I have an iPhone 13 Pro Max that I bring with me on every ride. I use it to shoot video, but it also features Apple’s Emergency SOS. This allows the phone to contact orbiting satellites to provide an additional layer of security when riding in the back country, in case of a bad situation.

Of course, none of these devices do any good if I am unconscious and unable to use them to summon help. After my big crash in San Luis Obispo, I learned that I always need to be protected from impact. These days, I always ride with knee and elbow pads and I always use a full-face helmet. My hydration pack also provides a degree of protection against crashes that could injure my back. 

You never know what might happen on the trail. Most of my rides will be reasonably close to a populated area, but some will not be. I’m sure I could be a bit more prepared for the worst case scenarios that I may come across, but I think I am fairly well covered.

Posted in Uncategorized.