Fully Grounded

“Day three and mile 130 of the ultimate ‘Uncle Joe’ sandbag with my 14-year-old nephew Rafa on his fi rst-ever bikepacking trip—and really first time ever mountain biking properly.”

Fully Grounded Keeping Calm Amid the Chaos

“All the essentials and nothing else. The perfect formula to keep the bikepacking setup light enough for aggressive and playful riding. Bikepacking can be shredpacking.” Photo: Thomas Woodson

If there’s a common denominator to every adventure I’ve ever undertaken, it’s that the success of the task at hand is usually dictated by how well you react to the unforeseen challenges that will almost certainly come your way.

Time and time again, things don’t play out exactly as you anticipate, but reacting with the right mindset can shape the outcome in a positive way. This is what has gotten my friends and me through massive bikepacking expeditions in giant mountains such as the Andes, the Caucasus and the Himalaya—all formidable in their own right, and all with their own plans for those passing through.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic truly hit North America in March, I had a busy year of international adventures lined up. By the end of January, I already had a stacked schedule, including a month of bikepacking and film projects in Europe, travel in Canada, commercial film gigs in Colorado and Utah and an ambitious bikepacking film project in a remote, otherworldly location. I was excited about these projects, but when the pandemic became a harsh reality, all of my plans were postponed in just a few days. While the abruptness was certainly a shock to the system, I knew I had to treat this uncertainty the same way I deal with adversity on two-wheeled adventures—with a calm head.

With an alarmingly empty travel schedule and no work anywhere on the horizon, it was time to look for joy and meaning closer to home. Whether we will admit it or not, many of us probably live our lives too fast, filling the calendar as much as possible and constantly staying busy. For me, this has definitely been the case throughout my 20s. But right at the beginning of quarantine I turned 30, and this gave me pause to look back on all that had happened during the previous decade and set some new intentions and goals for the next 10 years. It was a welcome reprieve; a time to slow down and look at where I am in life. The truth was that I needed more time at home to connect with family and enjoy what has been right here all along.

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