Desert Bikepacking for New Year’s
By Kurt Refsnider
(A Fenix-sponsored pro mountain biker)
The Arizona desert is a bikepackers paradise during the winter months with warm days, abundant trails, and small streams that begin to flow after months of running completely dry. For New Year’s, Kaitlyn and I drove south from the snowbound mountains in the Central Highlands to the warmer and more rugged Mineral Mountains east of Phoenix. The trails and jeep roads in the area are difficult and as scenic as it gets.
Canyon-bottom singletrack, big climbs, and a seemingly never-ending descent were highlights of the first day. We had the trails to ourselves aside from a rabid fox who flew out of the bushes and attacked Kaitlyn’s bike at the bottom of the long descent. Twice she had to fight the angry canine after it latched onto her front tire and refused to release it!
We pedaled until just after dusk, in search of a flat spot to camp among all the prickly plants. The early sunsets at this time of year necessitate carrying lights – the svelte Fenix BC21R is our light of choice for trips like this. Weighing only 2.4 ounces, this rugged bike light illuminates our path with its 880 maximum lumen output. We really like its Dual Distance Beam System, which allows us to clearly see what’s right in front us, as well as what we are approaching further down the trail.
Before long, clouds moved in and obscured the stars. Drops of rain began to fall as we finished up our mashed potato and smoked salmon dinner, forcing us to retreat into our tent. Amid the darkness and increasingly heavy rain pattering on the fabric above our heads, Kaitlyn and I recalled our goals for 2016 and thought about what we wanted 2017 to be like.
2016 was a challenging but gratifying year for both of us. Time on the bike were at the top of our lists of accomplishments for the year – Kaitlyn had some dominant rides in 24-hour and longer mountain bike races. I took some time away from racing and instead spent more time bikepacking throughout the Southwest and abroad in both seldom-traveled and more well-known places. And together, Kaitlyn and I been working on developing Bikepacking Roots, an organization devoted to promote and support bikepacking, which will be one of the big goals for this new year.
The desert glowed green after a full night of rain. Moss and lichen come alive in vivid colors, cacti all become more vivid, and and a rare richness of color emerges from the rocks. We pedaled in silence for the morning, each contemplating the goals and challenges for 2017. I know that if these goals are kept in mind, it’s bound to be a great year, and what better way to start the year than by pedaling through a lively desert landscape thinking about adventures to come?
What adventures are you taking your bike light on in 2017?
More on the BC21R Bike Light:
Turbo- 880 lumens, 1hr 20 min runtime
High- 380 lumens, 4hr 30min runtime
Medium- 200 lumens, 8hr 30min runtime
Low- 100 lumens, 15hr 50min runtime