As 2019 draws to a close we're thinking back on some truly amazing rides we enjoyed this year. These rides were special because they were fun, and they moved us emotionally or tested us physically.
We hope you had some great days on the bike in 2019. Maybe you're already dreaming about your 2020 adventures. Hopefully, these highlights from a few of our shop's riders will get you stoked to get out on your bike and inspire you for the coming season.
UNBOUND Gravel 200 - Emporia, Kansas
The UNBOUND Gravel 200 is the world’s premier gravel event. The marquee race is 200 miles long, sending riders deep into the Flint Hills of Kansas. It has become the stuff of legend, attracting pros and amateurs looking to test themselves in one of the hardest gravel races around.
Rider: Spencer Powlison, Content Marketing Manager
“Usually, my favorite ride of the year is the one that pushes me beyond my limits. This was a big year. I raced Dirty Kanza [the name changed to UNBOUND Gravel in 2020 - Ed.], by far the longest day on a bike I've ever had at 200 miles and 13 hours. It had been a long time since I felt truly intimidated by a cycling event, so I trained as best as I could and prepared carefully. That fear ended up paying off. I paced myself well, had minimal setbacks, and rode faster than I imagined I could. It was definitely the hardest day I'd ever had on a bike, and that, above all, was the biggest achievement. Maybe one of these years my favorite ride won't be such a suffer-fest!”
Highway One - Big Sur, California
Highway One is an American classic. The road hugs the California coastline from San Diego to San Francisco. With beautiful oceanside views, it is one of the most popular road trips and touring routes in the country.
Rider: Quentin Whitfield, Customer Experience Representative
“Riding from Big Sur to Garrapata State Park and back was the highlight of my year. Flying down the coastal hills and climbing up cliffs with sheer drops hundreds of feet high made for one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. The trip was topped off with a beer on the beach post-ride, making for an absolutely all-around splendid day.”
Lake Orta - Piedmont Italy
Lake Orta in northern Italy is surrounded by classic Italian scenery, picturesque Italian architecture, and a wealth of history and art. The crown jewel is the beautiful San Giulio island situated just offshore.
Rider: Matt Heitmann, CMO
“There’s not a view or a village along the entire shoreline that isn’t picture-perfect. There’s an abundance of tiny, barely-traveled roads that connect the villages of the entire Piedmont region, and they range from undulating to seriously difficult climbs, like the Mottarone. Lake Maggiore’s resort town of Stresa is about an hour’s ride to the northeast and has alpine views, manicured public gardens, restored palazzos and villas, and drivers well-accustomed to cyclists taking advantage of the network of good roads.”
Little Bellas at Valmont Bike Park - Boulder, Colorado
Little Bellas is about confidence-building and empowering young girls through sport. Over 2,800 girls have participated in the program over the last 10 years, and it has grown an active community of adult female riders who are excited to get more girls on bikes.
Rider: Maggie John, Customer Experience Manager
“Our third Valmont day with Little Bellas was my favorite! We had worked on obstacles, body position, and confidence in prior weeks and the whole group tackled some rock gardens and the Corkscrew (a trail with jumps and berms) and crushed them! Watching girls who were scared of riding the Corkscrew and the stairs go down them with confidence was definitely my best day of riding!"
Mt. Evans - Clear Creek County, Colorado
Mt. Evans is a prominent 14,000-foot peak on the Colorado Front Range and home to the highest paved road in North America. Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and marmots are common sights along this epic climb. The road closes to cars in the late-fall but remains open to cyclists still seeking to conquer the mountain.
Rider: JP Gage, Director of Operations
“It was beautiful after the road closed and there was no traffic. We did the ride starting from Echo Lake and it took around four hours. The wind was miserable at the top. It had to be going over 30mph. We packed basically an entire change of clothes due to the temperature differences. My whole team at the warehouse went on the ride so it was a nice group.”
Mt. Lemmon - Tucson, Arizona
Tucson enjoys temperate, dry conditions when the rest of the country is buried under snow. The roads and trails high in the Catalina Mountains are world-class and ideal for altitude training. Several of TPC’s Cat. 1 and Pro riders will trek down to Tucson for winter and spring training.
Rider: Pete Karinen, Master Technician
“I rode there in February to cap off a long week of base training. We were doing a backcountry loop some people call ‘Squeeze the Lemmon’ that was supposed to take five hours but we ended up going even farther and staying out for almost seven. It totaled 90 miles with 8,000 feet of climbing. The scenery is amazing there. You’re in the middle of nowhere. Once you’re on the backside of Mt. Lemmon, there’s no civilization to be seen anywhere.”
Steamboat to Wyoming bikepacking trip - Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Hemingway said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best…” Bikepacking can help you learn more about both your country and yourself. There is maybe no better way to discover new roads, find adventure, and test your limits.
Rider: Dan Hanafin, Creative Director
“This was my first multi-night bikepacking trip. Four days total, 235 miles, and 19,576 feet of climbing. It was HARD for me — eight hour days on repeat with a fully loaded bike. I rode with three of my close friends. We hit singletrack, mountain passes, dirt roads, gravel roads, logging roads, fire roads, closed dead-end roads, and rail-trail. Wyoming brought long days in the saddle that went deep into Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Civilization was few and far between, but the food was good enough and the ranchers were accommodating. My favorite parts were the small towns, being in nature non-stop, and the time in the saddle with friends.”
The Tour of the Battenkill Gran Fondo - Greenwich, New York
The Tour of the Battenkill is one of America’s largest single-day road races. The 75-mile Gran Fondo features steep, punchy climbs and rural dirt roads that will challenge riders and bikes. Add in the pastoral beauty of Upstate New York and you have an unforgettable event.
Rider: Amy Parulis, Shipping Assistant Manager
“A group of us stayed in a beautiful farmhouse along the course. Springtime in that area is amazing with all the flowers blooming. I like that I got to meet a lot of pros and ride the course with some of them. Jeremy Powers got third which I was stoked for because he went to my high school. It was just a great weekend spending time with friends and riding in a new place."
Wasatch Trail Loop - Telluride, Colorado
The Wasatch Trail Loop is the archetype of high alpine Colorado riding. It climbs nearly 5,000 feet in 11 miles up to a 13,000-foot pass in the San Juan mountains. It features steep descents, beautiful waterfalls, and amazing mountain vistas.
Rider: Steve Gardner, Shipping Manager
“This was an amazing solo epic. There was nothing but endless views and solitude and suffering. The climb went up a rocky old Jeep road, and it was brutal and required a lot of hiking in the thin air above Telluride. When I reached Blixt pass the view down into Ophir was truly stunning. And then it was all worth it for the incredibly steep and wild descent on Wasatch singletrack to Bear Creek.”
White Rim Trail - Moab, Utah
The White Rim is a famous 100-mile loop in Canyonlands National Park that features countless red rock formations and some of Utah’s most spectacular scenery. Many riders will do the route over several days, overnighting at remote desert campgrounds. A brave few will attempt to do it in a single day.
Rider: Nick Martin, CEO
"Really fast people do this ride in a day... we did it in four days and I wish we would have taken five! The scenery is world-class. Take your time and slow your roll."
The Whole Enchilada - Moab, Utah
The Whole Enchilada begins high in the La Sal Mountains and descends 35 miles through multiple ecosystems from high alpine to dry desert. It covers some of the best trails in the Moab area. Most riders will shuttle to the start but it’s still a physically demanding ride, even for experienced riders.
Rider: Bruce Lin, Technical Writer
“I think this may be the best single day of riding a mountain biker can experience. It’s hard, techy, and physical. There’s so much variety, epic scenery, and heart-in-your-mouth moments in one ride. I did it with a small, ripper crew from the shop and we made it to the bottom faster than I ever have before. Every time I ride in Moab I test my skills and push myself. When I go home, all I can do is dream about when I can go again.”
Have you done one of these amazing rides? What was the best ride you went on in 2019? Let us know in the comments!