Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
~ Robert Frost
I live in a place where leaves turn to all the hues of gold, citrus, fire, and rust but I rarely put in the effort to partake in their splendor. Mostly because I hate crowds… and boy do leaves attract crowds. Every forested climate you go it seems, hordes of sedentary outdoors people drive about with faces plastered to automobile glass, or with windows open they point their phones towards the sky. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I’d much rather people, in general, revel in the beauty of the passage of the seasons, than say, spend all day in a windowless office or trolling bike companies on the internet from their parent’s basements. All have a right to the natural splendor our beautiful country has on offer.
We should all revel in the last days of fall’s colorful climax; as the deciduous blanket slides off the cold naked limbs, chlorophyll spent and resigned to the icy embrace of winters boney white hands. It’s truly an earthly firework show, like the Aurora Borealis is to the night’s sky. I almost feel sorry for my friends in the desert and plains before I remember your spring blooms and vast theaters of thundering clouds.
What I think I’m getting at is that I fucked up. Like, most years I’ve fucked up. I don’t make my way up north to find a spot to take it all in. Away from the crowds, the cars, the phones, the traffic and everything else that just sort of ruins it for a closet introvert. I am reminded there is a tool for the freedom I seek from these detractors. It just takes a little more time and a little more intention to do it right. I’ll bet you can guess which tool I speak of; it’s likely why you are here reading this in the first place.
This was one of many takeaways I had from my long weekend bikepacking with old and new friends in Colorado. It was the fourth annual YAWP! and Surly Bikepack Against the Machine. An event born out of a long tradition of good spirit and partnership with many excellent folks I have met throughout the years in my visits to Denver. I feel we simplify the scope, the purpose and ultimately refine the pure enjoyment of this trip year after year. Some years we have turned ourselves inside out over the course of countless hours and thousands upon thousands of feet of climbing. Some years we have worked our butts off schlepping demos at a trailhead. But now it feels more like an invitational retreat that just seems to attract the right group of offbeat cyclists and nature worshipers.
I could go on and on about the caliber of whiskey we shared, the severity of the elevation change I felt from sea level to above tree level. I could try to impress you with tales of lung-busting hike-a-bikes and how my rigid ECR held its own with the squishy bikes. And I could totally go on and on about the beauty of high alpine landscapes, undulating tundra painted by the gods themselves and the night sky dripping with starlight. But I’ll spare you all that nonsense. Instead, please enjoy more mediocre pictures from my phone. The ones I could barely pry my attention away from my friends and mesmerizing splendor to take… and yeah, sorry there are so few pictures of bicycles.
A special thanks to this guy for all the work he puts into making this event, which includes closing his shop for two days so his employees could join us too. If you are ever in Denver you simply must stop by and say hi to the fine folks at YAWP! Fair warning, they may not drop everything they are doing to coddle you but rest assured they are happy to see you. And while you are there buy some Surly products from them, it would warm my cold heart <3