Shania is gonna have a new song out soon.
— Overheard in Montrose, CO

It started in the mountains. 7 days. 750 miles. 30,000 feet of elevation. Then down into the desert. Temps up to 117 degrees. Winds that blew relentlessly for miles on end. We followed Route 66. The dilapidated remnants of America's post-war rush west. Cities that didn't make sense, shoved between parched peaks themselves between the scorched stretches of the endless desert floor. Then it stopped as soon as it began, on the 4th of July, at Lake Havasu City, at a sleazy resort, with an infinity pool and buckets of liquor with crazy straws and fireworks and bikinis and shitty dance music blaring over all of it.

Flying in and taking over leading a group of cyclists who'd formed a bond that's so unique, one that is forged from the mutual suffer-through-it mentality you settle into on a long, sustained, cross country tour by bike. Chris and Ben put it so well, that none of us could even remember the last time we'd done any activity for that many days straight. Even when you're training for a sport, or working, or doing anything, even routine, when do you do it non-stop for 37 days straight? You even miss brushing your teeth sometimes, I mean come on, it happens...

The brigade is unique, it's not a pleasure cruise. It's long miles, tough stretches of road that aren't the #roadslikethese type. It's hot weather riding in the middle of summer through the desert, it's pushing yourself to the limit. It's gas stations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's not friendly to Vegans. It's picking up where you left off the previous day when you were too tired to ride the 50 miles to the next town, so your day becomes 150, because you're on a schedule, and you aren't going to be late. It's waking up before dawn to get 100 in by noon, so you can get that last 4k of climbing in by 3pm. We're strangers who find a common bond out there on the road, and at the end of it all, you're friends for life. Even if you never see one another again, you're all bound together by that one summer you spent on the long road west.

There were countless moments where we were in awe, where we were too hot to think straight, where we were pissed at one another for any number of reasons, where things just seemed idyllic. It's a compressed ecosystem where your tired legs just keep on pedaling no matter what because that's all you want to do that day, just make it to the next stop. You take the scenic route when you're strong, you cut it short on the interstate when you're tired and it's getting late. The week is best summed up with by following photo series and a few little snippets of cheesy banter from moi. Enjoy, and be sure to check out Search and State for more on the #searchbrigade!

And before I forget, be sure to stop into the shop if you want to talk bike touring. It's a hell of a way to spend a weekend, or a week, or a month over the summer. We can get you set up with everything you need to hit the road in search of some adventure.

- zach

Inevitably, things begin at McDonalds...huge, weak iced coffees, greasy breakfast McSandwiches, the blank stare of an employee starting their long shift at 6am.

Inevitably, things begin at McDonalds...huge, weak iced coffees, greasy breakfast McSandwiches, the blank stare of an employee starting their long shift at 6am.

Ouray: Gateway to the Million Dollar Highway. Here we began climbing up Red Mountain Pass, 13 miles, 4,500' of elevation gain and a summit over 11,000 ft. There was an equal sense of awe over the beauty surrounding us, and the daunting physical task that lay ahead.

Ouray: Gateway to the Million Dollar Highway. Here we began climbing up Red Mountain Pass, 13 miles, 4,500' of elevation gain and a summit over 11,000 ft. There was an equal sense of awe over the beauty surrounding us, and the daunting physical task that lay ahead.

Ben just CRUISING up Red Mountain Pass. Consistent grades around 6% kept things fairly low key. But you can expect to take around 2 hours to make it to the top if you're on a fully loaded bike.

Ben just CRUISING up Red Mountain Pass. Consistent grades around 6% kept things fairly low key. But you can expect to take around 2 hours to make it to the top if you're on a fully loaded bike.

Eric and Natalie stopped on their way to the Alpine Loop Trail and tossed us a few Cokes, some water, and some bars. We call this CLUTCH.

Eric and Natalie stopped on their way to the Alpine Loop Trail and tossed us a few Cokes, some water, and some bars. We call this CLUTCH.

Chris was...um...

Chris was...um...

Things were slow going up through the forest on Ophir Pass, with grades between 15-23%, and eventually, after about 2 miles and 2500 feet of elevation gain we were forced to get off and walk.

Things were slow going up through the forest on Ophir Pass, with grades between 15-23%, and eventually, after about 2 miles and 2500 feet of elevation gain we were forced to get off and walk.

Given the condition of the road, we were forced off of our fully loaded bikes. ATV, Moto, and 4WD drivers shouted a mix of encouragement, derision, and playful jabs about our bike choice. I could only reply with a smile and yell, 'hey, we're just here for that view up there' to which they responded with a smile, a, 'hell yea' or a nod. They get it. Everyone is up here for one thing, to go over the top of a mountain on dirt. That's why I did it, because it's insane, and difficult, and I just HAD TO. Simple as that.

Given the condition of the road, we were forced off of our fully loaded bikes. ATV, Moto, and 4WD drivers shouted a mix of encouragement, derision, and playful jabs about our bike choice. I could only reply with a smile and yell, 'hey, we're just here for that view up there' to which they responded with a smile, a, 'hell yea' or a nod. They get it. Everyone is up here for one thing, to go over the top of a mountain on dirt. That's why I did it, because it's insane, and difficult, and I just HAD TO. Simple as that.

Ben summiting Ophir Pass. The top .5 mile or so and 750 feet of elevation gain of the climb was ridable, so we got back on, bombed through a boulder field, and then began descending on some legitamately sketchy shale.

Ben summiting Ophir Pass. The top .5 mile or so and 750 feet of elevation gain of the climb was ridable, so we got back on, bombed through a boulder field, and then began descending on some legitamately sketchy shale.

Buffed, kinda, and then it got real weird about 1/2 way down this pitch here. This was also at about 15% grade, so riding the brakes all the way through the really loose stuff while trying to keep up some speed to cruise through the REALLY loose stuff, but not too fast, or else you'd be surely hitting the ground. After about 2 miles, you could let things run a bit, and we let it rip.

Buffed, kinda, and then it got real weird about 1/2 way down this pitch here. This was also at about 15% grade, so riding the brakes all the way through the really loose stuff while trying to keep up some speed to cruise through the REALLY loose stuff, but not too fast, or else you'd be surely hitting the ground. After about 2 miles, you could let things run a bit, and we let it rip.

Shayla annihilated the descent off the west side of Ophir Pass non 25c tires. Epic.

Shayla annihilated the descent off the west side of Ophir Pass non 25c tires. Epic.

We ended our ride in Rico, CO. It was late, we bombed past our campground and didn't want to climb 1500' back to camp after having 2 dinners at the local bar, so we snagged bunks at the local hostel / inn. The owner was a bit cagey, the other random buy in the room with us was snoring A TON, but it was a warm bed, and we slept well.

We ended our ride in Rico, CO. It was late, we bombed past our campground and didn't want to climb 1500' back to camp after having 2 dinners at the local bar, so we snagged bunks at the local hostel / inn. The owner was a bit cagey, the other random buy in the room with us was snoring A TON, but it was a warm bed, and we slept well.

We raced out of Colorado the next morning, descending 8,000 feet over 130 miles. 

We raced out of Colorado the next morning, descending 8,000 feet over 130 miles. 

Horses. Being swift and beautiful in the desert.

Horses. Being swift and beautiful in the desert.

Rolling into Bluff, UT was not one of the worst rides I've ever been on.

Rolling into Bluff, UT was not one of the worst rides I've ever been on.

M O N U M E N T  V A L L E Y

M O N U M E N T  V A L L E Y

Search Brigade veteran showing up with a fresh bottle of whiskey turned into a BONKERS night at the rim of the Grand Canyon. One of the most memorable I've ever had. Thanks man!

Search Brigade veteran showing up with a fresh bottle of whiskey turned into a BONKERS night at the rim of the Grand Canyon. One of the most memorable I've ever had. Thanks man!

Shirt swap, 2017.

Shirt swap, 2017.

#lightbro

#lightbro

Sunrise is just as good here.

Sunrise is just as good here.

Chris and I were up before the sun to grab a secluded spot on the rim and have some coffee with our site-mates.

Chris and I were up before the sun to grab a secluded spot on the rim and have some coffee with our site-mates.

Unusual structures in the Arizona desert.

Unusual structures in the Arizona desert.

This is how we do when we tour tour tour.

This is how we do when we tour tour tour.

Rolling out of the desert flats and up toward the Grand Canyon.

Rolling out of the desert flats and up toward the Grand Canyon.

Sunset slide.

Sunset slide.

Mack, er, Ben, tired from the relentless desert sun and a huge burrito.

Mack, er, Ben, tired from the relentless desert sun and a huge burrito.

Night moves.

Night moves.

4th of July auspicious rollout from camp.

4th of July auspicious rollout from camp.

Then it got REALLY FUCKING HOT.

Then it got REALLY FUCKING HOT.

Alex set the tempo into Lake Havasu City. I proceeded to go off-roading and get a flat.

Alex set the tempo into Lake Havasu City. I proceeded to go off-roading and get a flat.

This was the last photo I took on the 2017 Search Brigade. I proceeded to get excessively drunk w/ Alex and some strangers who were marveling at our oddball tan lines. The liquor buckets were no joke. That was a lot of rum. See you all next year, well, not you, Lake Havasu City, I probably will never see you again, but it was swell.

This was the last photo I took on the 2017 Search Brigade. I proceeded to get excessively drunk w/ Alex and some strangers who were marveling at our oddball tan lines. The liquor buckets were no joke. That was a lot of rum. See you all next year, well, not you, Lake Havasu City, I probably will never see you again, but it was swell.