Neil’s Top-10 Rides Of 2017

Proving that good rides have no expiration date, here are my Top-10 Rides of 2017. It might already be March, but in an attempt to up my winter stoke level I thought it was time to take a look back on last year’s best. Because I’m an equal opportunity cyclist, you’ll find this list free of surface prejudices and includes pavement, gravel, and singletrack.

1- A Sunny Four Days To Fitness Finale

Starting the year off with a bang–it just so happened that New Year’s Day was the final ride of Four Days To Fitness, an annual event I host. After a couple rather miserably cold and wet rides preceding this one, the sun and solid group of riders made for the best start to the year possible. Oh, and the route that involved little traffic and some of my favorite local roads was a bonus.

2- Checked It Off The Bucket List

A new ride for me, and one I had wanted to do for quite some time. Ben Edwards from Peloton Magazine had told me about a secret dirt road that connected Santa Barbara with Ojai, but he cautioned it was remote and brutally steep in sections. Of course, he wanted to join once we settled on a date. His warnings were not exaggerated in the slightest, which truly made it well worth the wait.

Eroica California

Riding vintage bikes on one of the most beautiful routes you can imagine is a hard one to beat. The Central Coast’s mix of dirt, country roads, views, and lack of cars is second-to-none. I’ll admit, I am slightly biased since these are the roads I first started riding as a teenager. Yet, the more places I ride all over the world the more I’m sure the Central Coast offers some of the best riding you can find anywhere.

Haute Route Stage 6–Kebler Pass Is Amazing

Kebler Pass really is amazing. The tacky dirt, Aspen trees, thin air, and a climb that seems to have no end proved a fitting finale in Stage 6 at the Haute Route Rockies. Because there is little to no traffic on the climb it’s about as relaxing as a 24-mile climb that goes up to 10,000 feet in altitude can be.

Roots, Rocks, Baggies, and Bros

When ENVE asks you to go over to Wales and ride mountain bikes with them you don’t hesitate. It’s not very often that I’m on a mountain bike these days, so getting to spend a couple of days riding trails in a faraway land was more than worth the jetlag. Bike Park Wales is sweet!

Recovery Spin, Mammoth Style

This has become an annual ritual following the 100-mile Mammoth Gran Fondo that is a must-do event for me each year. The name of the ride is slightly deceptive considering there’s absolutely nothing recovery about riding 130 miles at altitude. But hey, days like this aren’t easily forgotten and there’s always time to recover a different day.

Sun Up With Lezyne

Waking up at 4:30am is never fun, unless it’s to ride in Las Vegas during Interbike with some of my favorite people. The only way I get through Interbike staying sane is by riding my bike, even if that means rolling out before first light to hit the spectacularly beautiful Red Rock Loop.

Old Ridge Route Under The Harvest Moon

The 100-year-old forgotten highway named Old Ridge Route is hands down my favorite ride in the area. It’s a single-lane road now closed to cars that’s full of twists, turns, rocks, and sand that make for a rather special trip. Riding it at night would be strongly discouraged, so of course we did just that. Ten of us knocked out the 90-mile loop on the night of the full Harvest Moon.

Grapes Of Wrath Was Much, Much Harder Than Expected. Loved It

When have you ever gone from farmlands to giant sequoias in the span of just 30 miles? I’ve only done it once, and it was at Grapes of Wrath. That 32-mile dirt climb was rather memorable, as was the finish where we drank beers around a giant bonfire while cheering other riders in. It was the kind of weekend that only the folks from Bakersfield know how to deliver.

Monument Valley Graveling

My wife’s family has a tradition of going to Monument Valley in Utah over Christmas, so we decided to join them this past year. Somehow I’ve managed to get my brothers-in-law excited about gravel bikes and we put them to good use during the trip, laying some fresh tracks in the sand on the Navajo Reservation. There may or may not have been a considerable amount of walking involved, but either way, it was a great day of riding in a new place with family.