Looking Back. Looking Forward

Wow.  It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these,  I wonder if I remember how to do this?  We’ll all find out soon enough I guess!  That’s right.  Much to your possible chagrin, I’m still around!


While there’s plenty of negative every year that nobody wants to go back and revisit, there’s, more often than not, lots of good to look back on as well.  That’s what I’m doing here.  I’ve picked my 10 favorite rides of the year and I mean to bore you with a rehashing of them.  Who am I kidding.  This stuff is PURE EXCITEMENT!!  So get ready.  Here we go.


Ok.  I might’ve fibbed a little.  I really am going to bore you for a minute with stats.  I used to be all about the stats.  Now, I’m just kinda about them.  Big changes happened this year and if you promise to sit through this whole post, I promise to hit you with a plot twist most of you probably already see coming.  Still here?  Then, let’s really go this time.


My mileage goal fell way short in 2016.  After 8400 miles in ’15, I set a more relaxed goal of 7500 miles for this year.


As of this writing, I’m 42 miles short of my modified, wuss out goal of 6000.  Respectable, but far short of last year.


How about elevation gain?  Well, after hitting 700k last year, I was shooting for a HIGHER number in 2016, 750,000.


I’m at 450,000.  WAY SHORT!!!


Last stat.  Fun.  2015 was a blast, with lots of traveling in pursuit of both the Oregon Triple Crown and the California Triple Crown.  But, I spent a lot of time on the bike in the middle of nowhere.  By myself.  Suffering.  Sorta fun.


This year?  Holy shnikes!!  While cutting way back on mileage and elevation, I upped the fun factor exponentially.  So many good rides were had in ’16, I had to trim my list of rides for this blog down from 18!!  And, I kept remembering other great times as I was making my way down to 10!  Yeah.  This year was fun.



I started off 2016 where I ended 2015, riding in the rain. A big solo climb up into the mountains above Gold Beach during the hardest rain and windstorm I’ve ever ridden in gave me the feeling of invincibility. At least I felt that way when I was finished. During the ride, I was worried about getting crushed by all the tree limbs being blown down all around me!


Fortunately, I survived the 45 miles and 4000′ of climbing with only a minor case of chafing . Maybe it wasn’t minor. But, I survived!



Clearly one to never learn a lesson, it was back out in the rain for the next ride on the list. I was joined by the ever intrepid, Jacob Hammond, for this little adventure in March. Riding to the top of John’s Peak is never enough. We have to do it in yet another rain storm. This after near hypothermia in the same area a few months earlier. Shawn wasn’t around to save us this time. Fortunately, we made the right decision and headed back to civilization shortly after this photo was taken.



I guess I should have mentioned these are in chronological order sooner. Now you know. This ride took place in March. While Ruth had made appearances in blog posts past, this was the first time we traveled together for a ride. We parked in the tiny settlement of Cape Town in Humboldt County and rode against the normal route direction of the Tour of the Unknown Coast until we hit Petrolia.


It was Ruth’s first trip to Humboldt and the place certainly caught her fancy. It didn’t hurt that the fog burned off earlier in the day than is normal for that time of year.


I have a feeling a small bit of the Humboldt fascination might have died as she approached “The Wall”, but she climbed it like a champ! At least this ride didn’t include rain.



Finally, a little nice weather came our way as the end of April found Ruth and I in Chico for the Wildflower ride. That weekend was about more than just the 109 miles we rode. We made some good memories hanging out with the Graceys and the Masessas when we weren’t riding.


Of course, the ride was pretty spectacular too. Something about riding in warm, dry weather makes me a happier person.



Wait a second. Warm weather? Happier? Well, yes. Normally. In June, Shawn Dingman took me around the Salmon River Loop for the first time. The day started out warm. It got warmer.


Before we hit the final climb that would put us over 10,000 feet for the day, it was downright hot. And…..we were out of water. Lucky for us, Shawn had brought his filtered LifeStraw. Unlucky for us, the first place we found water was a roadside cattle trough. You gotta do what you gotta do. We’re still here.


But, really. The creeks filled with snow melt are what really saved our day. Overheating and climbing a 12 percent avg grade for the last “however many” miles were taking their toll. The cold streams gave us time to appreciate the gorgeous scenery we’d enjoyed and the feat we were about to complete. That loop truly is epic.



Probably my favorite 5&9 Crazy Mofo ride last year was the Summer Swing. We started in Lake Creek and after a few miles on Hwy 140, it was up and over the mountain to Butte Falls via road, trail, creek bed, whatever was in the way.


It was another warm day with lots of climbing and some pretty sweet views. Some of my favorite riding buddies were out for this one. I wasn’t feeling my strongest that day and I found myself struggling at times to keep up with the group. Just writing about this one makes me want to get back out on those roads between Butte Falls and Hwy 140 again soon!



If I were ranking my rides, this one would be in the top 2 or 3. It was my first time solo doing what I now call the Hinkle Loop (after a lake not far off the main loop), and the higher altitude wildflowers were in full bloom. I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many pictures of flowers in one day but I couldn’t help myself. They were everywhere.


By the time I reached Whiskey Peak and the 17ish mile descent ahead of me I was ready for it. It’s no joke of a climb to get all the way up there. As you see, it was a beautiful, smoke free, summer day. We were blessed with a mostly wildfire free year in 2016 and it was much appreciated.



The end of August found Ruth and I riding the rim of Crater Lake. I’m pretty sure that was my first time riding around the lake without the sky being full of smoke. If, for some reason, you haven’t visited the lake yet, get there! It’s so worth it.


Ruth being Ruth.




The final stage of the Oregon Triple Crown was in the middle of September. The Gravel Epic starts and finishes at near sea level in Waldport. But, in between, one climbs 7000′ through the coastal mountains while riding 75ish miles. It was my fourth Gravel Epic and third Triple Crown.


The Gravel Epic is easily my favorite of the series and I’ll likely try and ride it every year, even if I don’t do all three races.



Definitely one of my top 5 of the year. This once came toward the end of October. While most of my friends were racing the CX race at Greenhorn Park, I headed west on the gravel bike and explored some of the mountains between Yreka and Fort Jones.

The Autumn colors were absolutely gorgeous and although I ended up taking a wrong turn and making the loop bigger than expected, I was totally ok with that! Another area I’m anxious to get back to and explore further.


So, there you have it.  My 10 favorite rides of 2016.  What’s the twist that I promised? Well….


Obviously, I did a lot less riding in 2016 than 2015.  There was a reason for that.


I kinda fell for this girl that likes hiking, so we did a little of that.


She even convinced me to get the crap scared out of me and climb to the very top of Mt Thielsen.


She taught me how to laugh at myself by being willing to do the same. Especially when Karma bites you instantly!


So, I figured if anyone could make me ride 2400 miles less from one year to the next just because I liked being with her so much, it was probably a good idea to ask her to share my adventures with me forever. So I did. And she said yes.


Like you didn’t see that coming?  Here’s to an absolutely amazing 2016 and a hopefully equally amazing 2017.  Set some goals.  Don’t set goals.  Either way, make sure you live.  We only get to do it once!

Aaron Mock

Local cyclist, crazy mofo, and good-natured masochist, Aaron Mock, is a Team Cycle Analysis rider with a penchant for taking the road less traveled. Sometimes, that isn't the best choice. Follow his weekly blog series for the latest on his never-ending escapades and exploits!

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