It was eight years ago that my new ski buddy, Megan, had invited me on my first Girls’ Trip to Fruita. It was their second annual trip, and I had no clue what to expect.
Eight years ago, I was in the Ph.D. program at CU in Boulder studying air quality. Since then, I’ve dropped out of the grad program with a Masters, I’ve moved to Crested Butte, I’ve gotten married, I’ve gotten un-married, I’ve left Crested Butte, I banged my head against a wall trying to be a freelance writer, I’ve worked as a lift-op, nordic center staff member, mountain bike camp kids counselor, collegiate mountain bike coach, physics teaching assistant, middle and high school tutor, and a copy writer. I’ve moved to Tucson in the winters with Scott and traveled the west with him in the summers, I’ve raced the Colorado Trail Race twice, Tour Divide, Arizona Trail Race, Iditarod, Stagecoach, Arrowhead 135, single-speed world championships, 24-hour national and world championships, and I’ve retired from racing and toured the Continental Divide Trail.
And through all this, every April or May, four of my favorite women and I meet up in the deserts of Fruita or Moab to ride bikes and drink mojitos, or margaritas, or wine, or beer. Or all of the above.
Nothing has had the longevity of this sacred weekend every spring.
This year wasn’t looking great for me. While I was already in Moab, I was sick. Real sick. And it had rained, and we couldn’t get the van out of Willow Springs Road so that I could get my camping gear to the Girls Only – No Boys Allowed campsite.
I bailed on Day 1 of riding, citing a head that ached and energy levels that ranked barely above empty, instead, moping in the Scamp feeling sorry for myself and telling my immune system to get it together and cursing the disaster of a road that we were camped on.
Scott and I had just walked out our side road to do a road assessment (fail, the van wasn’t going anywhere) when I got a text from Megan. “Want us to come get you? The truck should make it down the road.”
Yes, please! Sickness be damned, I just wouldn’t touch anything.
And in 15 minutes, I was packed and ready to go. Still feeling not awesome, I figured I’d ride a day, just so that streak of Girls’ Trip wouldn’t be broken, and then retire back to the Scamp to work on health.
As it turns out, meals at Girls’ Trip are a notch above what I motivate to cook for Scott and I.
In the past, we’ve done our best to hammer ourselves on at least one ride during the annual spring pilgrimage, often riding as much each day as we felt we could pull off.
Now, we’ve relaxed a little bit, placing much more of a focus on laughing, eating, and being than the actual act of riding bikes. But that doesn’t mean we don’t ride.
First was the classic Hymasa and Ahab.
Megan and I, stuffed up heads, plugged up ears, and no sense of balance, hung out in the back watching the gals ride all sorts of scary stuff. We laughed as we brought up the rear, happy to have each other to wallow in sicky-ness.
I vowed to call it good and head back, but after a magic burger and malt at Milts, I felt good enough to fight another day.
For our first 6 years of desert trips, we’d planted ourselves firmly in Fruita, both because it was closer to the Front Range, and at the time, the trails were simply better than what Moab had to offer. Two years ago, we split our time between the two, last year, we’d planning on splitting our time but ended up staying in Moab, and this year, we set ourselves up a nice little campsite outside of Moab for the full five days of the trip.
People change. Places change.
Our motivation to make the most of a long weekend doesn’t change. On the final morning, we packed up camp and set out for one last ride on Bar M.
Every year, the last ride of the trip makes me sad. My legs tell me that it’s good to be done, but my heart is never ready for the weekend to be over.
Its always a weekend full of laughing, book recommendations, talking bikes, inspiration, and feeling amazingly humbled and lucky to be able to ride with an amazing group of women. Never for a second do I take for granted that our trips are drama-free, easy, and damn, the food is good.
Next year will mark a decade of visits to the desert. I do believe something special should be done to commemorate that one. Never have I felt more appreciative for the friendships that have spanned time and space and continue to give me a trip to look forward to throughout the year.