Zen On Dirt

Tapering – An exercise in laziness

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Sometime in the next week, we’re leaving for a big adventure. Our goal: to bikepack as much of the Continental Divide Trail as possible, from the Mexican border up to Canada. We’re thinking that this will be a 3 to 4 month adventure with a few stopovers in our favorite towns along the way so that Scott can makes sure that little blue and pink dots make their way across various maps around the world.

I put Scott in charge of route research, so I have little idea what’s going to happen in New Mexico, other than that we’ll have to ride the Tour Divide route through the Gila to avoid wilderness, but most of the rest should be new and mostly on trail. In Colorado, the plan is to ride the Colorado Trail from Durango to Salida, hang out there for a little bit, then take the CDT to Cottonwood Pass, back onto the CT to Copper, possibly with a Mt. Elbert summit if Scott gets his way, then CDT over Argentine Pass to Silverplume, up Herman Gulch to Jones Pass, and over Berthoud for some quality Winter Park time. From there…well, we’ll figure it out as we go.

Anyhow, it’s going to be big.

And I haven’t exactly been taking it easy the past two months. Quite the opposite, actually. To the point where I started to worry that I was running myself into the ground, even though I was trying to do everything at a sustainable pace.

So when I got to Boulder on Saturday to drop my car off and wait for my flight back mid-week, I decided that I was going to take an honest-to-goodness rest week. This was helped by the fact that it was freezing (39 degrees one morning) and that the wind was howling most of the time.

I was a-okay with not even having a temptation to ride.


So instead I went to yoga. I think this gets filed as Only in Boulder. Secretly, I’m a little jealous as yoga mat transport on a bike is always a PITA. I dig the color combo of the bar tape and bike, too.


I hung out with the dogs. At 15 years old, Maia can still stare at Huck and whine until he moves off the dog bed and lets her have it. Huck then gives me (and Maia) the stink-eye for the rest of the night. Seniority. Or something like that.


Before I knew it, it was time to fly back to Tucson. It was warm, and beautiful, and Scott flatted in the same spot where he flatted when riding with Justin way back when. Apparently this was his third flat in the past three rides, and 5th in the past two weeks. A combination of running out of Stans, a suspect tire, and running tubes led to this impressive streak.


Sun was out the next morning. Time to ride with Alexis and Drew. Scott had to sit out because he didn’t have a functional bike. D’oh! All the saguaros have flower-hair growing.


I’m now the accidental owner of a GoPro. I’m trying to decide if I want to continue to be a GoPro owner and if I want to carry it on the CDT. On one hand, it would be cool to do some sort of video along the trip (I’ve seen some cool trip videos, but I’ve seen a lot of terrible ones too), but on the other hand, it’s one more thing to carry. For pictures…I sort of like the fisheye, but the colors aren’t impressing me. It, along with the iPad and Kindle (vs getting books along the way) are on the weight-savings chopping block.

More likely than not, I’ll start with all three, and then ship home/ahead if I decide I want my pack lighter.


We went for a lovely little ride. It was the first time I’d tried to beat the heat in the morning instead of the afternoon. I think I prefer starting with it warm and then cooling down (evening rides) versus the other way around. And sunsets…oh, I love me my sunsets.

The temperatures were forecasted to get high over the weekend, so when Scott suggested a camping trip up Mt Lemmon, 7,000 feet up, I wasn’t about to argue. Apparently while I’ve been traveling, Scott’s been spending too much time in front of the computer with Trackleaders.

I know this because I got a call from Matthew Lee at 1 am while I was in Boulder with a frantic: Eszter! Scott needs to do this, and this, and this, and this, right away. (Matthew’s learned that Scott’s pretty good about leaving his phone in the car or other inaccessible places at inconvenient times, and I’m a good backup contact)

Matthew, I’m not in Tucson.

Oh, I’m so sorry. 

I also know that Scott’s been busy because he starts to make funny faces at his screen and utter things like: Really? or Oh, grow up or That’s bogus. 

It was definitely time to go camping.

Within 30 minutes, we were loaded and pointing the SportsVan across town. The thermometer at the School for the Deaf and Blind across the street said it was 98 degrees. That seemed a little excessive.

Up we went. Spent some time reading while waiting for the road to reopen after an accident. Found a camp spot. Went for a little hike to the blinking towers at the top of Lemmon that you can see all the way from Sahaurita Road on the AZT. You’re going there next, via 10,000 feet of climbing. And some hike-a-bike. 

Watched a beautiful sunset, sans camera because we weren’t actually planning on going for a walk of any significance. C’est la vie.

And then slept. Woke up  at dawn and ate our leftover breakfast burritos from Nicos. Fell back asleep. Woke up and made oats for breakfast. Set up some tea to steep. Fell back asleep. Woke up and drank cold tea.


It was time to ride. The goal was Summerhaven for snacks, then we’d decide how far we actually wanted to ride from there.


It was all fun and games until Scott discovered that the bearing on his main pivot had given up. Apparently he’d broken it while bromancing with Chad during their Techy Taco ride. What went on during that ride…I don’t want to know. What happens at Techy Tacos, stays at Techy Tacos. 

Regardless, it put a bit of a damper on the ride. Scott figured he could nurse it down to Summerhaven and then we could just ride roads back. And if the bolt broke, I could climb the hill back to the car by myself and come pick him up.


The Cookie Shack in Summerhaven is my type of place.


If dragons live here, unicorns must be here, too!


We ordered a slice of pizza, a cookie, and a cup of coffee and sat back to enjoy the morning/afternoon. Eventually, we occupied the rocking chairs on the front porch and watched all types of humanity file in and out of the shop. A beautiful Sunday afternoon with temps near 100 down in the valley, we weren’t the only ones to have the idea to escape the heat.

Endless motorcycles pulled up, one rider told us that he wanted to skateboard down Lemmon. He also said that he’d gotten a speeding ticket before for skateboarding down a huge hill some place else…I wanted to ask more about what it was like to skateboard at what he claimed was 65 miles per hour, but I think sometimes it better to keep one’s mouth shut.

After three cups of coffee, we determined that maybe it was time to go and give up our primo people-watching perches.


We climbed out of Summerhaven to see the new aspen growth. A huge fire tore through the town in 2004 and pretty much burnt the whole thing to the ground. It was neat to see the progress that the aspens have made…but a stark reminder that forests don’t grow back overnight, or even over a decade.


Not wanting to go back down in the heat, we rode, uneventfully, back to the car, laid out our sleeping pads, and napped. Well, Scott napped, but apparently after three cups of coffee, I can’t nap, so I read. Fully engrossed in Kerouac’s On the Road, the afternoon passed blissfully in the trees.

Eventually though, it was time to head back down. After a few errands, we found ourselves at Tucson Tamale Company. All I have to say is, Tucson Tamale Company, where have you been all my life? And why do you have to be just far enough away from our house to be outside of basket-bike riding distance?

In the end, it was a week of three bike rides, two of them under two hours, and one clocking in at 2:15. I haven’t been this lazy in a while, but every time I thought about going on longer, I had to remind myself that plenty of riding is going to happen this summer.

And I can’t wait.


One thought on “Tapering – An exercise in laziness

  1. Wow, I can’t wait to read more about this CDT adventure. It’s a bold ambition but you are two of the few who could pull it off. Exciting!

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