Many people know that I've done a bit of hiking and backpacking through the years. I've thru-hiked the John Muir Trail not once but twice. I've bagged peaks across the western US (and even a few in South Korea). I founded the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge series.
You might not know that I've done some mountain biking. In fact, mountain biking led me (indirectly) to starting up SoCalHiker.net and planning that second thru-hike on the JMT. I living in south Orange County and mountain biking 2-3 times a week. One one shuttle ride down the San Juan Trail off Ortega Highway, I misread a simple drop and went over the bars, fracturing my left wrist in two places. I couldn't ride for 3-4 months, so I focused on hiking.
Fast forward another ten years. My friend Ben and I were talking about bikepacking the Deschutes Tier of the Oregon Timber Trail, a bikepacking route that wanders from the California border all the way through Oregon to the Washington border. We just wanted to do one of the tiers, and yet, on the first day out I went over the bars again, this time creating a "non-displaced fracture" to one of my ribs.
Let's just say my mountain biking and bikepacking experience hasn't been as successful as my hiking and backpacking adventures.
But I haven't given up hope.
I believe in the power of setting big gnarly goals. They help stretch you and give you something to grow for. One such goal for me is to complete The Big Lonely -- a 350+ mile, self-supported bikepacking race in Central Oregon that helps raise funds for the Adventure Access Fund.
Last year's race there were 12 entrants, and only half of them completed the route. In my mind, a "win" will mean completing the route without breaking a bone or my bike.
My goal is to complete it over five days, not a pace to win a spot on any podium, but maybe within the realm of possibility.
I'm still primarily a hiker and backpacker, so this endeavor is reminding me what it's like to be a total noob. It's humbling.
If you have any words of wisdom, I'll all ears.
Deborah Aguanno says
Good for you Jeff ! I say go for it all till ya can’t , I’ve seen folks in their mid 80’s hiking the Brite Angel. I’m 72 , I just fell on a trail in the San Gabriels and shattered my elbow , I’m out of commission for a bit two surgeries
later….I’m not done yet . See you at Climb for the Hero’s 2022.