Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Company You Keep...

One goal for this trip was contact.  Contact with with our environment, with each other, and with our guides. That's why we avoided some interesting hotel based trips. The restaurants, bars, TVs, and cell phones would be an unwelcome distraction. This trip required FULL IMMERSION. meals around a campfire, showers under a tree. A sleeping bag and a tent.

The Hermosa trip format and in particular the guides ensured we got the full contact experience without having to compromise. Camp was setup and the fire lit when we arrived at camp each evening. Expert preparation and fresh ingredients meant our meals were first rate.  And helpings were healthy, we never went hungry.

But the guides were really the secret sauce.

Matt McFee is the mastermind of the operation and has assembled a winning format and a great team of guides. His navigational skills and lunchtime stories of the Continental Divide Race were eclipsed only by his performance in the Angelina Jolie game and his expert chamois cleaning tips.

We only had a few minutes with Peter Basinger as he shuttled us to the start on day one, but he had some great stories of racing in the Iditarodtrail invitational, a 24hr mountain bike race in Alaska where he found a racer who had been mauled by a grizzly (she survived), and the trip to NYC to be interviewed by one of the morning talk shows about the bear incident.

Apple Cobbler, yum!
Lisa Lieb ("Angie")added a high energy feminine touch to the adventure without upsetting the dynamics of eight guys on a "guys trip." At first I was dubious about the mixed gender dynamic, but she mixed it up expertly. She ran a fantastic kitchen, tended to some gnarly injuries, and put some guys in their place when they needed it. She walked the line expertly. Oh and she is a kick ass rider.

Glenn Shoemaker ("Glenn.P.R") was our cowboy poet. He was knowledgeable about everything from the lifecycle of the desert gnat and herbal remedies to chiropracty and fine whiskeys. He was a wealth of excellent advice, never preachy, gently offered in prosaic fashion. We learned to listen attentively when he offered wise advice about "building monuments" and being careful about places where "someone might get your stuff." And he was ALWAYS there if someone was suffering and falling off the back of the group, distracting them and keeping them positive.

And finally, Delila the black and tan coonhound and Arthur the newfoundland were a great touch. Originally they did not plan to be on the trip but we insisted that they join us because we think dogs are awesome.

"That bike chick sort of digs you but is not looking for a beginner"
      -- unknown

"RIDE HARD, live easy"
     -- unknown

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