February 2022: B-I-G News!

I’ve finally reached a milestone in life. I can now say, “B-I-G News!” and pregnancy is about the last thought that pops into the mind of anyone reading. Yay! So, It’s official: There is at least one perk to getting older. Wait, hold on just a minute. Make that many perks. I think we can also add wisdom, retirement, being able to say whatever is on your mind and get away with it, and grey hair. Yes, I absolutely can’t wait until my hair turns a shimmering shade of silver.

Anyways, I digress. You’re probably wondering when (or if) I’m ever going to get to the point and just spill the beans on the B-I-G News front. My answer to this is yes, of course! Eventually. First, let’s talk about February 2022.

February

This month started off with plenty of sunshine and strong eastward winds. While we could have picked lower elevation locations with warmer temps, the mountains south of Tucson have proven themselves the perfect training ground for all of our upcoming adventures. It’s (mostly) quiet and way less frequented than many of the other “optimal” destinations throughout Arizona this time of year.

In fact, there isn’t much around except a plethora of hills that seem to go on forever. These beauties range from big, bigger, and biggest to steep, steeper, and holy cow! In fact, one of the perfect places to train for a bikepacking adventure is the Arizona Trail (AZT) which can be easily accessed right from our very own, but very temporary backyard. In our experience, the AZT skips the big, steep, and holy cow and goes right onto, “What the hell was I thinking?!?”. Let’s just say some trails are harder to bike than others. Props to all the bikepackers out there who are able to conquer that beast!

Thankful for switchbacks!

Big News

Big News, not to be confused with the B-I-G News, is simply some additional news which is more of a precursor to B-I-G News than the actual B-I-G News. I feel like I can hear your sighs and see your eye rolls as I type. Are you not entertained? I’m having fun with it and you should too!

Bikepacking Epic

This summer, Eric and I are planning to visit the Boise area and ride a portion of the Hot Springs Bikepacking Route. Just north of Stanley, ID we plan to connect with the Western Wildlands Route which will take us all the way to Eureka, Montana. After reaching Eureka, I’m not sure what we’ll end up doing but we’ll have some options for making our way back to Boise and the van.

This is a similar (only much, much longer) route as the one we started in the fall of 2018. Unfortunately, a fire outside of Stanley shortened that ride by about 150 miles. Hopefully this will be a much less nasty fire season. If you missed the Hot Springs blog posts, they can be found by clicking the following links: The Great Escape, Knowledge is Power, and Shifting Gears. For those not interested in reliving that blissful time in our lives, I don’t blame you. Here are a few of my favorite photos from that trip anyways, I mean, who doesn’t like photos?

My happy place—Stanley Idaho
Back when people wore masks because it was cold, not due to a pandemic!
Autumn colors line the river’s edge
Lunch break
Camping with a view
Can you spot the hundreds of salmon in the lower right of the photo?
His and…
Hers

So, now you’ve had a small glimpse of why we plan to do the Idaho Hot Springs Loop (or part of it) once again. It’s stunning! Having said that, I don’t want to jinx it, so I’m going to stop here with the Big News. It seems every time I say we’re going to do something, we end up having to cancel our trips for one reason or another. This year, we’re going to say less and do more!

The B-I-G News:

The original B-I-G News. Basically, this is what I was hoping to write…

Galena Pass Summit (2018)

I know what you’re thinking—she’s finally going to perform the big reveal. You would be correct. Thank you for your patience and perseverance as you make your way through this blog post.

Honestly, It’s really not that big of a deal. I just wanted to get you all going. In all fairness, the Big News was much bigger news than the B-I-G News because Idaho and Montana are our two favorite states and to bike them has been a dream for a very long time. So…Surprise!

That said, I appreciate that you’re reading this blog and I’m not going to let you down quite that harshly. There is news and to me it truly is B-I-G with a capital B, I and G. So, after a horrendous, nail-biting wait….dum, dum, dee-dum—Here it is…

The Reveal

After much deliberation, and not nearly enough training, I’ve decided to embark on a solo bikepacking journey from the US/Mexico border in Southeast Arizona to St. George, Utah. This is segment 7, 8, and 9 of the Western Wildlands Bikepacking Route and covers approximately 875 miles of remote, rugged, relentless barren, mostly dry terrain. I will be carrying everything I need to survive plus 30+ pounds of water all while gaining an elevation of 1.75 Mt. Everest’s or 50+ thousand feet! Ok, wow! After reading all of that, I’ve just about talked myself out of this silly plan.

Let me try again.

I got this!

Basically, I’m going to ride my bike every day for several days in a row as far as I can. When I get tired, I will stop. If hungry, I will eat. When I’m thirsty, I will just hope that 12-13 litres of water will be enough. See that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

The best part of sharing my plan is that if you’re reading this, I have already left! Sneaky, sneaky me. This isn’t one of my grand ideas that never comes to pass—nope—this is actually happening as we speak.

Exciting, right?!? Don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear from me for about a month (or five), rest assured knowing that I’m out there living my dream and pushing myself to do hard things all while grinning from ear to ear.

On Second Thought

What I’m actually writing:

Best guess, my bike is weighing about 90-100lbs

After about a week of tough rides and thorough consideration I have decided not to embark on the trek through Arizona. Since I would have ZERO support along this route (thank you Covid) and would have had to make it possibly 4 days (or more) between water stops (multiple times throughout the trip), I started feeling that I wasn’t quite prepared (physically) to tackle this route solo. Sometimes it sucks to realize your own shortcomings, but it is also motivational! So, for now, I’ve decided to put this plan in my back pocket, train really hard, and hopefully by this fall or next spring I will be ready! I can live without food, but water is life.

Nothing like a day like the one below to put things into perspective. 27.53 miles, 4 hours in the saddle, 90+ pound bike, 1,759 feet of elevation gain, AND 35-50 mph head and cross winds all-day-long. YAY!

Grizz: “I’m so happy you’re not leaving me for 6 weeks!”

And yes, there is some oregano stuck in my teeth. What can I say? I’m only human. 🙂

And Now, Even B-I-G-G-E-R News!

Ok, so I’m not yanking your chain here. After everything that has happened in the past few weeks, the coolest thing happened yesterday! For me, this was bigger than meeting a favorite celebrity, band, athlete—heck, even better than meeting nearly every single one of our 46 Presidents!

Eric and I had the pleasure of spending the day with Heike (pronounced Hike-ah) Pirngruber, better known as Pushbikegirl! If you do not know who this is, you are missing out—an amazing human/woman/solo adventurer. Heike, from Germany, has had human-powered adventures in over 100 countries and cycled (self-supported) in nearly 60 of them. I’m gushing, I know. It was just super cool!

Just a little plug

If you like our adventure stories and photos, you will be blown away by this woman. Go check her out! Click here for Heike’s blog or go to www.pushbikegirl.com.

Grizz and Butch on a rare rest break in the shade.

As luck would have it, we had the opportunity to spend some additional time to spend with Heike, Butch, and Ron in the upcoming weeks. It was pure joy having interesting, like-minded people to share stories and life with.

Butch made himself right at home. Grizz says he’s glad to share for a playmate.

Why the Meetup?

Heike is currently on a new adventure of sorts and preparing to do big things in the bikepacking world with her furry friend, Butch. We refer to this as dogpacking. After reaching out to her on Instagram, she came to visit us all the way from Tuscon just to check out Eric’s very own DIY cargo bike design! Thank you Instagram and an even bigger thank you to my genius husband for all his hard work on all things BIKE.

We spent the day (eventually multiple days) with Heike, Butch, and her equally amazing friend, Ron sharing ideas and talking bikes, dogs, adventures, and so much more. It was absolutely my favorite day/week of van life—EVER. I think Grizz agrees. He and Butch quickly became best friends and after their first playdate, Grizz slept for 16 straight hours with only 2 potty breaks. Thank you Butch!

Grizz the morning after: “I just wanna snuggle”.

We also had a great time visiting the Tuscon area and doing some exploration of our own.

Checking out some new trails
Love the giant Saguaro cactus that surrounds Tuscon
Life is good!

Instagram

On many of our upcoming trips we will be posting photos on Instagram much more often than blogging in order to keep our bike weight down. This is also the easiest way to stay in contact while on the road!

If you do not have Instagram, don’t fret! You do not need an account to do this.

All you have to do when looking for an Instagram profile without an account is type the Instagram website URL in your browser followed by the account’s username. For example, you can type in www.instagram.com/cyclingsloths/ and see our photo feed. Or simply click here to be sent directly to our page. See example below:

The Screen

Your monitor will look a little something like this (see photo above). Although, keep in mind, the photos in the grid may look differently as newer photos are placed before older ones.

I hope this helps for those of you who want to follow along but didn’t know how. Now you won’t miss photos like the one below that never get posted anywhere else. I know. You’re super stoked now!

You don’t want to miss that handsome face!

Also, you should really check out pushbikegirl as well! She is an amazing photographer, story teller, and human. To make it easy, I included the links for you here——> Instagram, Blog and Support.

Final Words

Eric and I have been dreaming of big adventures for so long now. It seems that fear, uncertainty, excuses, and yes, even laziness (at times) prevents us from making our dreams a reality. Our big trip signifies a new chapter in life—a celebration of sorts. We have officially removed ourselves from a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance. Alas, our values and actions are finally aligned. Om. We feel so enlightened.

Humor aside, adventures (big or small) are what we live for. The entire journey—every step, every pedal-stroke, every huff and puff at a time—is more about the doing and less about the destination itself. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the big picture but if you break it down into one day at a time, the possibilities are endless!

Thank you all (as always) for reading the blog and following along for the past 7-8 years! I can’t believe how far we’ve come and I look forward to what the future brings. Good, bad, or ugly—I can’t image living life any other way.

Until next time friends….

6 Responses

    • Jenni

      Jenna! Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was a little scattered because lots of big things seemed to happen in February! Hope you are well 🙂

  1. Aunt Louise

    You are absolutely amazing. Way more brave than I would ever let myself be. Your accomplishments (both you and Eic) are truly something else. I continue to be thrilled for you and scared for you too. I am super happy you both are pursuing what you love. Wow what adventures you have had and will continue to have. Stay safe. Love Aunt Louise

    • Jenni

      I’ve said it more than once I know, but you’re braver than you give yourself credit for. Thanks for reading the blog and for your comments. They put a smile on my face for sure! I hope you had a wonderful birthday and vacation where I know the Chapman sisters probably got a little wild and wooly 🙂 hehe Also, sometimes I’m scared for us too, but in a good way! Life feels good when you’re doing what you love and sometimes a healthy dose of fear is just what the soul needs to feel alive! <3 We love you too!

  2. Debbie

    Jenni, I’m so excited to hear about your big trip! I’m thrilled for you and Eric! I’m thrilled for me too since you’ll be coming to Boise soon!! I always love your pictures and your sense of humor. It’s always fun to see sweet Grizz too. His personality just oozes out of the pictures!

    • Jenni

      Thrill. Thrilling. Thrilled. Excellent choice of word because that is exactly how we’re feeling. 🙂 Grizz…he does have quite a lot of personality that’s for sure! Counting down the days until Idaho is in my life again <3 It will feel good to be back home. I would say, "get your hiking shoes ready" but we both know you probably already have them on. See you soon!

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