Soon after last Autumn's grueling but rewarding Alaska bike tour, I wondered what would be next on my biking agenda? The thought of another epic gravel road, self-supported tour was not so attractive yet to me. The ideal place for that would be Alaska again, or Canada. Lots of woods to camp in, mountains and rivers to enjoy. But this option would require another major commitment of time and resources to fly to and from suitable start and finish points. Perhaps something less ambitious logistically and lighter weight could be the solution?
Mid-winter I received a wedding invitation from an old high school friend down in New Mexico. He and I had done many epic backpacking trips together in New Mexico and Alaska. Going to his daughter's wedding would give us a chance to reconnect. Logistically it would be easy for me to bike down (455 miles) and have my wife drive down for the wedding a few days later, then we'd both return by car to Colorado. So now I had a date and a method to haul my tired butt and bike back home. All I needed was a speedy partner to draft all the way South!
The winter passed with Dan training away in New Mexico and myself in Colorado. Frequent text message training reports were passed back and forth. Lots of friendly cagoling on each other's progress went on. Dan's Strava online reports were getting out of hand; his 100 mile rides and big vertical days (over 5,000') were getting me concerned. Was he going to burn out prematurely or just plainly leave me in his dust?! I did my normal weekend nordic skiing workouts but added 2-3 days cycling midweek. That was a real challenge during a seemingly wetter Winter and Spring than normal in Colorado. I had many unpleasant training days that's for sure. The dream of warm cycling in the New Mexico sun kept me spinning those gears winter-long. As we wheeled off, my longest training ride to date had only been 65 miles long...I was definitely counting on my nordic skiing fitness to save me!