The Escape

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By Lukas Brinkerhoff — It was Wednesday. I had already spent 2-3 weeks prepping. Gear had to be organized, packed, unpacked and checked off the list. The room for error was minimal so our prep work had to be thorough. I fitted each bike with bags and then we stuffed them with everything we would need for the journey. Everything was ready. Well, almost everything. Food, we still needed a few food items, but there was time. Our escape was scheduled for 2 PM on Saturday.

The Tandem Duo, Kenny Jones and Heather Gilbert, dropping into Powerline. Photo by Lukas Brinkerhoff.

Jedidiah Jenkins, a man you’ve probably never heard of, quit his job because he didn’t want to wake up one day and realize that thirty years had passed and he hadn’t lived the life he wanted. Instead of living the ordinary life, he decided to ride his bike from Oregon to the southern tip of South America. In a short film made by a friend titled The Thousand Year Journey: Oregon to Patagonia, he answers the why of his journey saying, “The routine is the enemy of time, it makes it fly by.”

All of us know the routine. Wake up. Go to work. Wade through work. Go home. Say hi to the significant other. Go to bed. Wake up. It’s the circular torture that even Sisyphus would call never ending. I don’t know about you, but I’m with Jedidiah. I don’t want to wake up some morning after I retire and think, “Wow! Where did all those years go? What the hell was I doing?” because I spent way too much time making sure the routine was followed, the bills were payed and I was doing the adult thing. The routine is the enemy.

Kathleen Berglund rocking the singlespeed and making sand look easy. Photo by Lukas Brinkerhoff.

Our destination was a measly 20 miles each way to a place all of us had been multiple times. The first time I had been there was close to 20 years ago and for the sake of full disclosure, I had already gone bikepacking there before. There was nothing particularly special about our weekend’s escape other than every one of us needed it. The Doctor needed it. The teacher needed it. The marketing guy needed it, even more than just to get pictures for his social media posts. He needed it just like the rest of us, to break free from the enemy and take control of time.

The break was to take us from St. George to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a place easily reached by pavement, but easy was not our objective. There were five of us and one more to meet us if possible somewhere along the way. We all pedaled our loaded rigs to Red Rock Bicycle for one last chance for supplies before pedaling the short, steep pavement climb up to the Red Hill where we hit dirt and made a go of it.

Our route was to use trails that most locals don’t even know about mostly because they aren’t what you would call “fun” to ride. Off the pavement, we began our dirt journey on T Bone which is a dirt/sandy two track that follows a pipeline up to the Turkey Farm Road. The five of us represented a rainbow coalition of bikes, there was a tandem, a fat bike, a singlespeed and a bikepacking specific rig. T Bone made it obvious which bike was going to be the best for the first half of the ride.

Sitting at the top of the first sandy climb, I stopped and stepped off my Fat Boy and watched as the rest of the group pushed, pulled and pedaled through the sand to the top. It’s not bikepacking until you’re pushin’.

Joey Dye smiling because he’s finally done with sand. Photo by Lukas Brinkerhoff.

Once to the Turkey Farm Road we had a stint of pavement to the Middleton Powerline Trailhead. As the names suggests, this road parallels the powerline meaning it drops directly down and then goes directly back up. Then repeats several times. Plus some sand. At the end of Powerline, there was yet another sandy road awaiting us. While the first 10 miles was technically half of the trip, it constituted 2/3 of the time it would ultimately take us to reach our camp because of the sand.

And then there was singletrack, ten miles of it stretching out in front of us. After the sand bogs we had just traversed, even being loaded, the trail felt like we were ripping. The broken, thousand mile stares were replaced with smiles, whooping, the occasional attempted bunny hop and, well to be honest, fun.

A short corridor of pavement completed our route to get us to our campsite. We dropped off of the Prospector trail just as the sun was dropping behind the horizon giving us a light show as our tired legs carried us to our escape.

Jake Miller ripping down Prospector on the last leg of our journey. Photo by Lukas Brinkerhoff.

Obviously, not all of us have made the decisions that would put us in a place where we can decide to quit our job, strap everything we own to our bicycles and ride into the sunset hoping that somehow writing and blogging about our adventures will provide sustenance when needed. However, it’s a lot easier than that to escape the routine, to shake things up. When was the last time you threw everything in the back of your car, put the bike on top and drove through the night for a one-day bike trip just because? Or even took the long way to the grocery store aboard the cargo bike because you could?

The routine is the enemy.

I’m not sure that we were put here or that we have a purpose so I can’t say we were meant for more than the 9-5 grind. During my soujourn in Chile, I learned a phrase, “Trabajo para vivir. No vivo para trabajar.” Which is to say, “I work to live. I don’t live to work.” The escape doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be long, but it is just as important as showing up to work on time.

Plan your escape:

Destination: it doesn’t really matter, but ours was the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, http://www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/st__george/recreation/day_use_areas/red_cliffs_recreation.html.

The route: T Bone to Turkey Farm, Turkey Farm to Middleton Powerline, Powerline to Mill Creek, Mill Creek to Grapevine, Grapevine to Prospector which takes you to the Red Cliffs Recreation Area.

Lukas Brinkerhoff blogs about mountain biking and life at mooseknuckleralliance.org.

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