“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” Edith Wharton, Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verses
Most obsessives know that the journey begins long before the first step is taken. Adventures tend to be preceded by meticulous planning, map scouring, beer-fueled beta acquisition, and lots of fine-tuning our gear. All of this pre-trip activity may seem a little excessive to our friends and companions who haven’t been similarly afflicted, but this behavior doesn’t just come out of nowhere. The pre-trip ritual is rooted in the knowledge that a well-planned journey lets us experience every fortunate moment on the bike.
The gear that makes the trip possible keeps us in the act of self-sufficiency. In fact, it’s often the equipment that we don’t notice that makes the trip worthwhile. Good gear becomes invisible. Being adequately prepared with dependable, durable equipment gives us the opportunity to focus on the windswept plains passing us by, the changing seasons, the beauty of the trees, the rhythm of our pedaling and breath, and the rhythm of the natural world.
We sent our man, Elliott Wilkinson-Ray, to Colorado for a dirt tour from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs organized by our friends at Niner. Friendships were forged and fun was had. 197 dirty, epic miles and 19,302 brutal feet of elevation gain later, all the Steamboat Ralleye crew could talk about were the moments: morning coffee, spotting a huge bald eagle, breathing in fresh early-Autumn air, turning a corner to a vista on a lonely backcountry road, and witnessing the otherworldly hues of Aspen groves.
Sure, there was plenty of incredible gear. After all, we were there to celebrate the launch of Niner Bikes’ awesome new adventure bike, the RLT 9. WTB Nano 40c tires, Big Agnes tents, pads and bags, Blackburn luggage rounded out the kit. The gear was so solid, dependable, and durable that the true focus of the journey was the adventure itself.
Good gear does that. It makes us forget that it’s there, so that we may fully engage in the adventure of the present moment.
If you haven’t already, make sure you navigate here to enter in the Steamboat Ralleye Adventure Giveaway Contest, including a Niner RLT 9 bike (equipped with Ultegra Hydro build, NoTubes Wheels and a Niner Bar/Stem), a Big Agnes tent, chair, and sleeping pad as well as some Kitsbow gear.