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Every ride is like a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has characters, and you are the protagonist. More often than not, the ride involves some sort of challenge or an obstacle to surmount.
And like any good story, the act of recounting it to an audience is a bonus.
But recently, it might have felt like the stories are drying up. The flow of narration has ground to a halt. What heroic feats have been possible, riding solo, within a radius of 50km from the house? Or even in your spare room?
In search of inspiration, we have turned to riders within our network. Experts on the world’s top riding locations, experienced hunters of the most sublime roads and trails to pedal. Because, after all, ours is a sport that is practised outside, which at its centre has a form of transport that yearns to take us to new locations.
Here is part one of ASSOS’ postcards from the future:
Kelli Samuelson: Marketing and Communications Manager for ASSOS North America. Kelli is no stranger to riding and racing all over the globe. Her knowledge of the hottest spots to ride in North America are second to none.
My postcard from the future: right outside my front door in Boulder, Colorado
“I have now been in ‘lockdown’ for over two months. The days have melted together in some ways and in others they have brought a renewed perspective on riding for me. I have been lucky enough in my career as a bike racer and working in the industry to have travelled around the world and ridden in some of those most beautiful places imaginable. I live in Boulder, Colorado — a cycling mecca here in the US — and the one thing I have realized and remembered during all of this is that I have some of the best riding right outside my door.
I have taken the riding here for granted, so when restrictions are lifted or eased, I will ride here at home. It will be as “back to normal” as normal can be because I usually would be travelling nonstop right now.
When it comes to staying local...
My favorite loop here is Fourmile Canyon to Gold Hill. And what goes up must come down. The ride takes you right from downtown Boulder up Boulder Canyon along a bike path to Fourmile Canyon. The road is quiet and immediately makes you feel disconnected from the crazy world below. You climb through tiny mountain compounds and the road turns to dirt. There is no doubt that this is a climb, lasting about 1.5 hours. The twists and turns take you in the trees and then shoot you out with sweeping views of the front range. When you get to the town of Gold Hill (I use the word “town” lightly) there is the Gold Hill store with the best pie and cold drinks. It looks like something straight out of a Western movie. From this point you can continue to climb in the mountains or descend a 1 mile 23%-grade dirt road (I always opt for this) to Left Hand Canyon. This is probably one of the best descents in the area. It’s sweeping and open and no brakes are necessary. This drops you down to what we call “the flats” — a series of gravel farm roads that brings you back into town.
Getting your logistics right from the start:
Fourmile Canyon was severely damaged in some storms and the roads are undergoing an extensive construction plan. So, Fourmile Canyon is only open after 4 p.m. and all-day Saturday and Sunday.This is a 2-bottle ride; I would also bring a bar just in case, but 99% of the time I’ll be getting treats at the store at the top. And in the summer, it is a bibs and jersey-only ride. I’m lucky enough to know this ride by heart so no route needed.
I now encourage people to remember the rides that are right outside their door. Remember the routes that got you excited about riding in the first place. Remember that first long ride you did, or the climb you conquered. These are the routes and adventures that we begin to tire of or forget about. But when we can safely ride after this, remember those places that made you fall in love with cycling.
Canadian Cyclist of the Decade 2009–2019 and two-time World XCO MTB Champion Catharine Pendrel doesn’t need much of an introduction. Suffice to say, she lives in the mountain biking mecca of Kamloops, BC, and has many of her favourite trails within 5 kilometres of her house. When not racing for the legendary Clif Pro Team, she’s investing in the future of the sport — development teams, trail building, and more.
Photographer: Sean Jenkins
My postcard from the future: my childhood home, New Brunswick
I grew up in eastern Canada in a Province called New Brunswick, several hours east of the infamous Mont-Sainte-Anne. I moved away to British Columbia 20 years ago for university while still quite young and a novice rider. Back then I would only ride for two hours and was a little nervous to really explore, so the place I would LOVE to go explore by bike is where I grew up (5,000km from where I now live). Like everywhere, I think New Brunswick has seen an explosion of trail growth. They have some really interesting terrain to work with as half the province borders the Atlantic Ocean. There are also several old mining quarries that trails pass through and they have what seems like endless forests. For me this trip is a lot about nostalgia, rediscovering a place from the past and seeing how much mtb growth has happened since I left.
Getting your logistics right from the start:
MTB Atlantic has a really great website to help you plan your trip in that region. With enough time I would ideally drive my camperized sprinter van across the country with my husband and dog. This way I always have a bed and a kitchen and can be more spontaneous. For me, experiences make a good riding trip so I would research the best local coffee shops and micro-breweries or restaurants to start and finish my rides right!
I would like to have two weeks to travel around starting where I grew up near Fredericton and going counterclockwise around the province along the coast visiting all the little towns and ride areas I remember from my first races and years riding.
New Brunswick is unique for Canada as the northern half is French-speaking and the southern half English-speaking which I think adds interesting cultural variations to the trip.
I would visit local bike shops to get their recommendations for best trails, places to camp and eat, and also use the trail forks app as a guide. My Garmin can upload routes from Strava so I don’t need to stop at each trail intersection to decide a direction or route which is really nice for finding flow in a new trail area.
When it comes to staying local:
Although I can ride outside in Kamloops, after a long winter I am enjoying all the snow-free trails and testing out my new Specialized Bikes. Sixty percent of our trail areas have been closed to reduce interactions during COVID, so I am really looking forward to being able to ride all of our ride areas, but in the meantime, I have been building a trail for kids to learn how to MTB near my home.
I think the place I miss the most outside of Kamloops right now is Squamish. Where I live in Kamloops, the terrain is very dry and dusty. It’s about high-speed riding on mostly smooth sandy trails. Squamish is the complete contrast. It is coastal rainforest surrounded by white-peaked mountains with trails littered with rocks and roots interspersed with sections of loamy soil between huge trees. The forest almost feels alive. The two contrasting areas of hot and dry climate and wet and forested help me stay sharp technically and keep riding interesting. We typically would take our sprinter van there to ride and catch up with friends on the weekend as often as possible. Because it is a normal part of my routine it feels like the place has been taken away and it’s the place I’d like to get back to for a guaranteed awesome weekend of riding.
My advice for your next adventure:
There are a lot of good sites out there to plan rides and create routes. In Canada, Trail Forks is really great as well as checking out the popularity heat maps of Strava to see what locals ride most. In the USA if you want to visit Moab, Grand Junction, or Sedona…..which I highly recommend, I like the site mtbproject.com. The Strava route creator is really good and can upload to a Garmin or Wahoo to keep you on track.
For accommodations I tend to use Airbnb or VRBO to find a house to rent if going for several days as having a house and kitchen can save a lot of money, give you more room for bikes, and enable you to prepare your own meals most of the time.