My 2 to 10 week mountain biking vacation and relocation
On July 5th, I worked the last day of my job as a customer service representative for a major online financial company most people on this forum have done business with. After leaving my job, I spent most of the following week swapping out parts between 2 bikes, catching up with friends, and trying to sell the last of my furniture and other items I owned on Craigslist.
On Sunday, July 14th, I spent most of the day cleaning out my apartment in Omaha. Shortly after midnight, I had my SUV packed with everything I still owned, including a mountain bike and a cyclocross bike, and landed at Imperial Nebraska a little before 5am to spend the night at a friend's. After sleeping in until almost noon and visiting a little while with my friends, I headed toward Colorado Springs, almost running out of gas to avoid paying $3.79 a gallon, only to ride on fumes to the next town that was charging the same amount!
If you haven't figured it out, I quit my job to take a mountain bike vacation and to relocate. My ultimate goal is to relocate to Boise, Idaho, a town that I've heard great things about, but staying in Colorado Springs for a week has me wondering if I should settle down here. After I leave the Springs area early next week, I plan to spend the night in Northern Utah before heading to Boise for a few hours to check out the town. From there I plan to go to Southern Oregon to visit my dad for about a week, before heading back to Boise or Colorado Springs to find a place to live.
If the right job comes along, I will start work right away but ideally, I'd like to take some time off to mountain bike and to try and get in better shape, not to mention to just enjoy life without a lot of stress. I can afford to take up to 10 weeks off work if I need to, but will try to get a job within 6 weeks. I know, its risky, but I was not very happy at my job, and at my age (41 going on 25), it was pretty much the first day of the rest of my life, and I had the opportunity to do what not many people have the opportunity to do, so I figured why not?
Today I spent about 2 hours riding at Fox Run Regional Park, just North of Colorado Springs. Over the next 5 days, I plan to ride several hours a day at various trails in the Springs area. Since I'm not in the best shape, and because I'm riding a 26/39 crankset, I'm trying to focus on riding the easy stuff first, while gradually increasing the difficulty level throughout the week - Fox Run was a great place to start! I've also found some a great place to ride my cyclocross, so I'm pretty glad I brought 2 bikes!
I'm looking forward to riding in Utah, Oregon, and Boise as well in the weeks to come. I took some pictures of today's ride, but the chord connects my computer to my camera is floating around someplace in my hotel room, but hopefully I will have some pictures of my mountain biking adventures later today.
Over the years, I've been a little bumbed about not being married, but its pretty clear to me that I wouldn't be able to do something like this had I been tied down, so I guess there are benefits to being single. Anyway, thanks for reading, and I hope to update this post with photos and stories of my adventures soon!
Last edited by getagrip; 07-19-2013 at 02:44 PM.
hit up boming4x when you get to Boise
Save a tree & wipe your butt with an owl.
Thank your local Sierra Club.
Wow that's awesome. I wish I had found MTB'ing sooner so that I could have tried something like this. Best of luck to you. Definitely post pics and share your experiences with us.
Be careful that 6 week target can soon turn into months and months like it did for me. Take off as much time as you can while you can and make the most of it, there are few times in life when you don't have commitments. Take some part time work if need be to extend the time off and explore as much as you can. There is incredible riding all across the west. If you want to be able to ride year round, or ride/ski in season you are now able to make that possibility happen.
Thanks for the replies. Yeah, I'm debating between a part time job and just going back to work full time. What I'm finding is that I'm not spending THAT much more time riding my bike(s) than when I was working, so I'm considering going back to work full time very soon, but for now I'm enjoying just being in a new place, riding, and exploring the town, not to mention not having to deal with customers screaming in my ears all day!
Anyway, here are photos from the first day of riding at Fox Run. I will make separate post for days 2 and 3.
On the second day of my vacation, I went riding at 2 places: Bear Creek Regional Park and Red Rock Open Space. At first, when I drove by Bear Creek, it seemed too easy, so I just kept driving (in the wrong direction) before I finally found my way to Red Rock. After riding at Red Rock for about an hour and getting my butt kicked, I decided to go back to Bear Creek. I was really glad I did because it was a lot of fun. I may head back to Red Rock because it seems like there is a lot more to explore. In places it was a little too technical for me, but I did have a lot of fun on the wider trails, not to mention the fast downhill back to the parking lot! Here are photos from the rides:
Yesterday I decided to ride my cyclocross instead of my mountain bike...and that turned out to be a mistake, at least in the beginning. I went out to Gold Camp Road, thinking my cyclocross would have no problem handling the terrain, but it turned out to be a lot more rugged than I anticipated, mainly because of all the loose gravel. After taking a short ride to the tunnel, I decided to turn around, which seemed like a good move anyway because I could hear thunder. After seeing some mountain bikers take the road that went the other direction, I took my cyclocross down a brief stretch in that direction before turning around again and headed back to my SUV. It was a pretty short ride, but I still built up a good sweat!
From there I went North of town to ride in an area which seemed pretty safe, and it turned out to be ideal for my cyclocross, and A LOT of fun. I kept running into these small sections of trail along the roadside, and there was also both paved bike trails and dirt bike paths, right next to a business park and residential neighborhood. If the rain lets up I will take my cyclocross out again today! Here are some photos from yesterday's ride:
The start of a fun adventure, for sure.
Looks like a lot of fun! If you feel like you're in a place you want to settle just wait until the end of your trip before you get set on the Boise area.
I wish I could do something like what you are.
Good advice. Part of me wants to settle down here in Colorado Springs, but I really do need to wait to see what Boise has to offer. There is a lot I like about Springs, though. I think that the mountain biking here in Springs will be better than Boise (at least off road riding), but I have a feeling I will like the town of Boise better...but we will see.
Originally Posted by wally247
I was in the same boat as you just a couple months ago (except I am married with a chid). I'm 42 and had quit my job so our family could travel around in an RV for 9 months, searching for the ideal place to relocate (based on jobs, scenery, biking, culture, etc). We were moving from B'ham, AL but had previously lived in Colo Springs. We seriously considered the Springs again, but wanted something a little smaller and more of a college town, so we chose Fort Collins. For sure there is great biking in the Springs (I miss Cheyenne Canon and Palmer Park), and the job market is better/bigger, but so far I just love Ft. Collins. The riding here is great, the mountains far less crowded, the biking infrastructure is much better than the Springs, and if you like road riding, there are many low traffic mountain roads here with stunning scenery just out your back door. You should definitely consider checking it out.
Forgot to add, if you desire any type of water sports, Ft. Collins has Horsetooth Reservoir and the Poudre River, not to mention several reservoirs around Loveland.
Very great! A friend of mine and I did a two week cross country road trip with our mt bikes and it was the best. Before settling on a town, I encourage you to use your 6-10 weeks to explore, explore, explore. There's a whole world out there. On our trip, we went where curiosity led us and then called the local bike shop for riding suggestions. I thought Missoula, MT has a lot going for it. College town, mountains, good scene and lifestyle in general.
Hope you decide to take the back way to Boise, perhaps drop down to hit southwestern Colorado, Durango, Cortez, Moab, swing over to Grand Junction and Fruita, then zip west on the Interstate, up through Price, Utah, then along the Salt Lake and up to Boise -- lots of beauty to be seen if that is new country for you.
Originally Posted by GottaGo
Alternately, a trip up the Front Range to check out Ft. Collins and then over could be quite scenic.
Just check out rest of the West before you settle in Boise!
Nice. Do it while you can. Soon we plan to quit our jobs and take our boat for an extended sailing vacation. We will also bring our bikes and try to do as much riding in as many different places as possible. We hope to make our funds last 4 years. We have been saving for this trip the last 3 years.
A segment from Missoula to Bozeman would be out of the way, but pretty nice!
Thanks again for the replies. As far as Boise goes, there are a lot of reasons why I decided to relocate there. For one, the unemployment rate is relatively low - in May, they were at 5.7%, compared to 7.9% for Colorado Springs at the same time period. They have a really low crime rate for a large city, and both Men's Health and Outside magazine rated Boise as the # 1 city in America. They have 130 miles of singletrack and from what I hear all kinds of rails to trails. Boise is about 5 hours away from Bend and 3 hours to Sun Valley, so skiing in the winter will be great, not to mention mountain biking. I'm still open to the possibility of relocating elsewhere, and as far as I know, I may not even like Boise, but it sounds like a great place. Its also a college town...gotta love that!
Having grown up in FTC, the idea of moving back to the Front Range from western Colorado makes me a little sick...
Congratulations, you've made the first step back into your own life. . .
I took me 9 months away from it before I realized how much any work sucks. It's really dangerous territory once your soul is restored to proper operating condition in this fogt up world. Having said that, I wouldn't change anything I did because the insecurity passed and made me stronger. Anymore I work my arse off for a year and then walk away from it for at least the same amount of time. I would never ever ever be able to lie to myself and claim to like working again. Impossible for an honest man to do so. Enjoy your time and learn to work only for such. Remember how pathetic the fat rich fex look when they supposedly retire in a spent body that's conditioned to sit still and a mind that needs to delegate anything worthwhile to a machine or subordinate.
Well, after taking another look at my finances, I might have to go back to work sooner than expected, but we will see. I love the idea of NOT working, but I'm running up credit card debt pretty fast with each day of my trip, and I'm closer to my credit limit than I'd like to be. Normally I pay my credit cards off every month, but I'm obviously not able to do that now, although I'm ok with the idea of paying a little extra credit card interest in exchange for a little freedom.
The good news is that I should still be good for the whole month of August without having to work, but from a financial perspective, its not the smartest thing to do, so I will probably start looking for work in Boise when I get there on Tuesday. I know, its a drag, but you have to do what you have to do! Even if I do start working again, I will try to use my weekends as much as possible to enjoy life and ride and visit new places!
Other than lots and lots of riding, there is one thing Colorado Springs has going for it - the swing dance scene is pretty good here, and I met some nice girls tonight...which were all too young for me, but it still made me think twice about coming back to Springs to look for work after spending time in Boise and Oregon.
I've got a crap load of pictures to upload from the last three days of riding, but I'm going to wait until I get to Boise to post those. Since I still have the memories fresh in my mind, though, I will write about my experiences now before I forget!
I spent day 4 on my cyclocross. I was able to drive North of town to get out of the rain, and spent about 2 and a half hours riding through the same neighborhood as before, but this time I figured out how to get to the Air Force Academy. I didn't try to go past the gate, since I was pretty sure that the Academy doesn't want people biking all over their campus, but I did notice the Santa Fe Regional Trail right next to the entrance, so I jumped on the chance to ride it.
Not long after I started riding the trail, I ran into a sign that said I couldn't go any further without permission from the Installation Commander, so I turned around and went the other way. After a few miles in the other direction, I ran into another gate, and looking on the other side, I noticed the same sign. DANG! I really wasn't sure if I was supposed to be there or not or how strictly they enforce it, and wasn't sure if there was MORE private property if I went further on the trail, so I decided to play it safe and head back the way I came to exit the trail.
On day 5, I went to Cheyenne Mountain and rode 2 different trails there, which were the best I had ridden in that area. After about an hour and fifteen minutes, I started to hear thunder, so I decided to call it quits as a precaution. After heading back to the hotel for a while for an hour break, I grabbed my cyclocross and headed up North. Right when I started to ride, it started to rain, but I pressed on, hoping that the rain would stop. I was able to ride North of the rain, but the clouds were very dark, and there was lots of lightening in the distance, so I was pretty much nerve wracked most of that ride, especially after I turned around, heading INTO the bad weather. It was a very intense hour long ride. Right after I got back to the SUV, it started to rain again, so I made it back just in time.
Today, on day 6, once again I got off to a late start. I had thought about riding with some guys at the bike store at Powell Park on their weekly ride, but I decided to head toward Rampart Reservoir since I read a lot of good things about it. Of course, right when I began the ride, it started raining, and cooled off pretty quickly, but thankfully, the rain subsided and I brought a long sleeve shirt to stay warm.
Not long after I started riding, I really wished I had tried some of the more technical trails earlier in the week, because for the most part, it was terrain I could handle, even though I did have to jump off the bike and push, a little too much toward the last half of the ride. This was definitely the most scenic place I had ridden, and the singletrack was also very fun. It didn't seem too technical for the first part of the ride, but I found myself pushing my bike a lot toward the last hour of the ride, as the terrain was more technical and I was running out of breath.
It took me about 3 hours to do the ride, which was the longest singletrack ride I had ever been on. It was a little nerve wracking as well, since I was quickly running out of daylight, and the trail seemed to never end, going around all of these coves, which got more technical as the ride went on. I also managed to crash - not sure how that happened, but I found myself flying in front of the bike and banging my knees on the ground. Finally, I was able to get to the damn at the end of the ride, right before it got really dark, and that lifted my spirits!
Anyway, thanks for reading and I will post pictures as soon as I can - I have to resize them all, which is a pain in the butt, but I like sharing, so its all good!
If it rains this week (and you're still in the Springs), make the drive up to Buffalo Creek and spend the day riding singletrack there. You'll love it, and you'll probably decide to cancel the rest of your trip.
Here are the photos from day 4 of riding.
Here are photos from the 5th day of riding.
And finally, here are the photos from the last day of riding in the Springs area.
Yesterday, after leaving Colorado Springs around noon, I headed for Tony Grove campground, about 20 miles East of Logan, Utah. Unfortunately, I didn't get there until after dark, and because I didn't bring anything to build a fire with, I was a little freaked out in the dark by myself, next to 2 empty camp sites.
Earlier in the day, I had purchased a 4 person tent at Sam's Club before I left town. Just like in my old job, when I was dealing with customers who shouldn't be allowed to own a computer, I was someone who shouldn't be allowed to own a tent. I fumbled around for about an hour trying to get the thing together, sometimes relying on my bike light, which made putting the tent together difficult, and sometimes relying on the lights from my SUV, which pretty much blinded me.
The final version of the tent I set up used only 3 of the 6 poles that the tent came with, and I had the rain fly on wrong way, with the part that supposed to block the window blocking the entrance, and the window being wide open, allowing any critters in the area to take a peak inside. I'm a pathetic excuse for a mountain man!
After falling asleep around 12:30 am, I was woken up by a coyote howling in the distance at around 3:30 am. I tried to get back to sleep, but the fact that my air mattress had a flat tire, and because the campsite was downright eerie, I decided that camping alone in a primitive area was not my thing, so I decided to bolt. I clumsily got my tent taken apart, which I'm sure was good entertainment for any critters that were watching, and threw it in the SUV without putting it back in the box. It was really kind of a drag because it is a really pretty area and I wanted to bike there the next day, but at the same time, I needed to get my paranoid behind out of there to keep my sanity.
I got into Boise around 10am, took a brief drive through town, and headed toward an internet café to get caught up online and to start looking for jobs. I've got mixed feelings about the town, but it is kind of cool over by the university, but after looking at the job situation here, and feeling the heat on my arms compared to the cool breezes in the Springs area, despite the higher unemployment rate and crime rate, my gut feeling is that Colorado Springs is the better place to be right now.
I'm looking for jobs in both cities, and may just settle for whichever city I can get a good offer in first. I'm undecided if I want to stay in Boise for 3 days as planned, or just head straight to Oregon and back to Springs. I may not ride here if I only stay one or two nights, mainly because my SUV is packed full and stuff practically starts to fall out when I open up the doors!
Anyway, hopefully I will have more riding photos soon and will figure out what the heck to do. This is the first day I've seriously started to look for a job, and all I can say is that the pressure to find one is ON!
Very cool trip. You can always use the tent as a rain coat (kidding). Enjoy your trip and keep sharing with us as I am really enjoying your travel reports.
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