Oh thirteen

I guess it’s a good sign when you look back on a year and simply can’t think of a better one. 2013 wins.

It’s a good exercise at the start of every year to review the past and see how that might influence decisions of the future. A blog is as good a place as any to help do that. So I ran through the last year’s worth of photos and posts. It was so good to relive so many precious and deep moments. For someone that (mostly) just whips out a tiny camera out at opportune moments, I sure got some good photos. These aren’t necessarily the best photos, but perhaps ones that stood out the most to me, or help tell the story of 2013.

Year review posts are pretty cliche, I know, but since no one blogs anymore, they’re cool again, right?

January. The big news of the year was an unexpected and wonderful new love in my life. We found ourselves single and supremely interested in spending as much time as possible together. The only problem was the 928 miles that separated us. I was in Tucson, the most logical place to be in the winter, and Eszter was in Colorado, working and committed to the Iditarod Trail Invitational. She took a leap of faith in coming to Tucson for a week of big rides. I followed that up with a big leap of my own, buying a snow bike and heading to Colorado for the balance of the winter. The goal? Teach this desert rat how to thrive in the cold and how to ride on snow.

This photo is of our first overnighter, spent on the continental divide at Rollins Pass. It was the culmination of the leap of faith, and it all turned out beautifully.

February. I bought a ticket to Alaska, to fulfill a long standing goal of riding to McGrath on the Iditarod Trail. Without Eszter and Mike, I would have never done it. I owe them both deeply for the opportunity, motivation, knowledge and patience. Mike was kind enough to let me tag along on his trip, and it turned out to be pretty much a pleasure cruise. Conditions were ridiculous and almost too easy.

The photo is on the approach to Rainy Pass and the Alaska Range. The immenseness of the terrain around us and the building anticipation of reaching the pass and the interior made for some unforgettable moments. And it was so dang rideable! Crazy how lucky we got.

March. A glorious return to the desert soon followed Alaska, and the Tucson sun never felt better. I organized a Bachelor Bikepacking trip for Chad and friends. We shuttled Lemmon, rode rocks, ate carne asada, and slept under the stars, finishing with Milagrosa.

April. The focus of this month was the Arizona Trail Race. It’s a big project to get that race off the ground. For all the racers, for Eszter, and for myself. My two attempts were both a dud, but I enjoyed the process of the preparation and anticipation of it all. Eszter had the ride of her life, and many other stories of pushing limits and deep life came from it, as well. It was a month well spent, and I *will* be back for the AZTR this spring.

Photo is from a test hike, readying for the Grand Canyon. Significant for all I did *for* the AZTR, even if it didn’t go as hoped.

May. This marked the end of many eternities of waiting, for the two of us to finally be together, for good. We first met up in Salida for my birthday, but on a subsequent road trip to Fruita and Moab, it felt more like we were finally together.

The photo is from Western Rim in Fruita, a new trail that Eszter showed me in glorious evening light. Truly magic.

June. Ah, Durango. We ‘moved’ there for no better reason than that we wanted to explore the trails and a new town. That turned out to be a brilliant decision as the trails are endless and the exploration was deeply rewarding. We were both stymied by a hurt knee each, which might have been for the better as we might have ridden ourselves into the ground, otherwise.

Eszter is cresting Blackhawk Pass on the CT in this photo, bikepack gear and all. It was the crowning moment of victory over knee woes. Such woes could slow us down, but not take us out.

July. The explorations got even bigger and the high country opened up completely. We approached the limit of how much riding we could cram into a week. Durango seemed to have it all, and we were falling in love.

One evening, on Engineer’s contour trail, sticks out more than any others. The ride was spur-of-the-moment, the trail unknown, and everything came together just perfectly. Time, person, place, mood, legs, weather, flowers, light.

August. In a 25 hour push, I exorcised my Wasatch Front 100 demons, completing a route that few would consider bring a bike on. I loved the unique challenge it presented. There really is nothing wrong with hiking next to a bike. It’s a superb use of time, especially when you get to ride the downhills. Usually, anyway. I got thrown a couple curveballs in the process, but I wouldn’t trade that ride for anything. It was my biggest riding goal of the summer.

I took the above photo at sunrise in the sessions mountains. Thunderstorms still lingering in the morning mean there will probably be more in the afternoon. Sure enough, closer to Brighton I got hammered and fought mud for the last 25 miles of the route.

September. Vapor Trail sucked us happily back to Salida. Tracking and Wasatch derailed plans to race it hard, but I had another goal: finish with grace. Meaning, relatively fast and relatively warm. I’d smashed the course as a daylight ITT, but struggled at the overnight version. This year was strangely warm, so part of my goal was easy. Descending from the high point of the course at 4am, in short sleeves, is a priceless memory that made all the work (tracking and pedaling) before it so worthwhile.

Photo is of Tour Divide superhero Justin Simoni, on the crest trail, just as my legs and energy were coming back.

October. Tucson typically calls me back before fall swings into full effect in Colorado, so I have been longing to experience it. Living in Salida gave us the perfect opportunity to seek out color and killer riding. The peacefulness and simplicity of that town had a profound effect on us, as well.

Photo is from the Marshal Pass RR grade, while self shutting yet another big singletrack descent.

November. It was time to head to the desert and get Eszter her first desert winter! Warm temps, dry trails, rocks! One of our first trips we decided to explore something new to me. A new Arizona trail and memory for us to share.

Photo is from Ash Creek in the Galiuros. Color was off the hook.

December. We had a host of friends stay with us and ride with us. It’s great living in a desirous location — your friends come to you! This ride was one of my favorites, where we had a big crew of friends out for a grand tour of the Tucson Mountains, from the door. Followed by the best Mexican food in the known universe — Mi Ranchito.

Thank you, 2013, and everyone that made it what is was, especially Eszter!

Happy 2014, everyone!

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