THE RIDES WE DID.
THE RIDES TO COME.
It’s very easy to fall into the type of unbalanced retrospective that traditionally comes at the end of the year. Confetti and celebration and an arbitrary collection really defined just by the time of the year that happened. 2020 defies the type of here’s the best of…reviews that block off the year into neat verticals. In addition to being a year marked by hardship, it was also a year marked by compassion and resilience. In looking back, we’re grateful for the outreach, the endurance and the intention of a community that organizes life around pedaling.
Moreover, we’re really grateful for the big audacious adventures that came from improvising in that uncertain year. Here’s a look back from a selection of Velocio Ambassadors at the rides we did and a look ahead at the rides to come:
Staring down a year of social distancing, the socially inclined Rebecca Rusch did something to (if only virtually) bring people together. Everesting had a big 2020 and the mountain bike hall of fame rider took the climbing challenge to a new level competing an all gravel everesting outside of her home in Ketchum, Idaho. Paired with a virtual fundraiser, thousands of others joined Rebecca for the Giddy-Up Challenge. With other participants, Rebecca raised over $130,000 for COVID relief. The event will return in May of 2021.
With no races on the schedule and a “retirement” to maintain in the world of gravel racing, Ted King took to a well known route close to home, a 300 mile gravel epic the length of Vermont. The route is far from new or recently discovered, with stretches of gravel ridden by local communities for almost forty years, but by threading together well trod roads with some of the more dodgy single track crossings, Ted proved that one can get there from here. See the video below.
Velocio ambassador Will Loyd pulled together a crew for a ride for the sake of riding in the Colorado high country: "This land, this fam, this life. Experiencing these majestic lands was a blessing, together with my chosen family. A reflection of the community I hope to see grow in the cycling world. Miles of smiles, the sole purpose was to just ride for the sake of riding."
True to 2020, Velocio’s own director of sales (and resident badass), Olivia Dillon completed her longest ride ever (outside of a race). Calling it the Fairfax 200 and based in her hometown of Fairfax, CA, Olivia described “It was kind of a replacement for a big race. But there is no way to do 200 miles of dirt here without it taking days due to elevation so one of the fun parts was coming up with a route by adding all these super classic dirt sectors.” Olivia and her wife Tayler took the event planning seriously, “We had a lot of fun planning it and on the day we mostly felt really good. Highlight was friends showing up with sandwiches at the top of a big dirt climb. Eating real food saved us. Weather was a perfect low 60s and the last few hours in the dark was amazing as so peaceful and it feels like you are going really fast."
Micah Ling, who wrote this piece on reckoning with solo rides highlighted this as her most impacting trip of the year: “This wasn't my longest ride or biggest day of the year, but it was my favorite. An early morning trip through Big Thompson Canyon, with its sheer rock walls, and then winding the back way to Rocky Mountain National Park through the tiny town of Glen Haven, is pretty spectacular on its own. But going up Old Fall River Road, which opened in 1920 as the first road in the national park, is honestly jaw-dropping, no matter how many times you've done it. It's a narrow dirt and gravel road with nonstop views of the park. Lots of switchbacks, lots of animals. Car traffic is minimal, because it's such a slow and treacherous drive. This ride, in late June, was perfect weather. The only stop I made was to fill up water bottles from the mountain stream.”
Velocio Director of Events, Devin Cowens escaped the country pre-COVID, “I visited Cuba for a bikepacking trip in the pre-COVID area of early 2020. I was thrilled to experience a new locale by bike and was curious to learn more about its layered history.
Being in Cuba felt like stepping back into time...the vibrant tapestry of cobblestone streets lined with old cars and historical architecture reflected the picture in my mind. Traveling through the city and along the countryside by bike enabled me to authentically experience a country untainted by a sense of urgency.
From cycling amidst the mountains on a fully loaded bike, to conversations over meals with families in casas particulares, to witnessing steep agriculture and farm land; I was taken by Cuba's immense natural beauty.
My experience juxtaposed this innately American idea of/need for immediacy; always on the go, seeking instant gratification, and high expectations of progress. Aptly timed ahead of entering the pandemic, this trip foreshadowed a necessary reminder to slow down, be patient, practice gratitude, rest, and find joy in the small moments in the quiet evolution of the day to day.
Looking back now I’m struck by the idea of what it means to freely leave your own country and have the opportunity to experience another culture, free of restrictions. In a sense, the lived experience of Cubans is not unlike current pandemic restrictions. We are privileged in the way in which we can move, and it's important to not take that for granted and I won’t in the rides and trips to come.”
What is a team without racing? Velocio // Exploro found out and in the process took on the challenges of 2020 with the grace of an athlete charging a finish line. Revisit their efforts from Everesting to ICU work, Vermont Gravel to Wind River Bikepacking.
It’s easy to role play suffering in a standard bike race, however real, lasting glory, comes from staring down the things that make you suffer. At no time in recent history has mental health been more of a shared challenge than in the past year. Professional ultra rider Jack Thompson has brought his own personal struggles with depression to a world class challenge chasing the Guinness World Record for the furthest distance traveled on a bike in one week. See the full length film, From the Insight out- Cycling through the challenges of a 7 day World Record for guaranteed inspiration to pedal more.