If you asked anyone at Krech, O’Brien, Mueller & Associates to tell you something about me it’s that I like bicycles. In the last (almost) 2 years I’ve only driven to work a handful of times, choosing to either walk or ride a bike most days. It’s true that I spend a lot of time with bikes: commuting, exploring, racing, road, mountain, fat or otherwise. What doesn’t always come through is my love for the outdoors in general, and my employment at KOMA has allowed me to maintain a healthy work/life balance in the time that I’ve been here that I’ve come to appreciate even more as time passes.
The thing you will notice if you look at building trends over the years is our homes and workplaces have gotten much more comfortable in the last 100 years protecting us from the elements better than ever before, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t spend time outside.
I’m always planning my next adventures, and looking back at past trips to learn from those experiences. One example of a recent learning experience was this spring when I spent most of a week in Colorado with a friend riding our mountain bikes, but that wasn’t by choice. We had planned on visiting some trails in Arkansas. However, just like the previous 2 years I’ve gone, Mother Nature rained (or snowed) on our parade. So when we woke up to raindrops hitting the tents and big storms to our South, instead of Arkansas we pointed the truck West and went to Colorado. We ended up having a great time, managed to get about 100 miles of singletrack under our tires, and rode places we hadn’t been to previously. I have clearly learned not to go to Arkansas in March, but you would think I would have figured that out after the first 2 trips.
One thing is for sure, in the years since I’ve started attending various mountain bike races and events, I’ve learned a lot about myself and have seen a lot of improvement through the years. I remember when 7 miles was a struggle, but in 2014 I pushed myself to ride 7 laps (79 miles) in 13 hours at the Wausau 24. (bib 644). This year I’m hoping to push myself further than I have before, but I haven’t figured out what that means yet!
This June the hearts of my girlfriend and I are calling us back to Isle Royale for the third time. In the past we’ve gone to South Dakota (Black Hills/Badlands), Montana (Glacier NP), Colorado (Estes Park/Rocky Mountain NP), Ontario, Canada (Sleeping Giant Provincial Park) and Utah (all 5 National parks; Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands), not to mention our countless trips to the North Shore of Lake Superior. When it comes down to it, however, that little strip of land in the middle of the Gitchee Gumee may be our favorite place to visit. Our first two trips to the Island brought us to either of the two main ranger stations, and from those points we hiked out for several days in different directions never being more than a day’s hike away from the ferry. It allowed us to learn a lot about the terrain and what to expect on future trips. This time around we are taking the ferry from Grand Portage to McCargo Cove, and then spending the next 8 days hiking across the island. Sure we could do it faster, but we want to make sure we enjoy ourselves and leave some time to explore and take photos. If we’re lucky, we’ll have another wolf encounter (we had 2 on our first trip but none on our second).
I guess what it comes down to is I’ve spent a lot of time over the years either behind a desk or a steering wheel with very little free time, but have found more recently that life doesn’t have to be like that. For a person like myself who is active outdoors I needed the freedom KOMA has allowed me to have, and I’m thankful for that opportunity. Sure, we get busy stretches here and there, and I can’t remember being so busy through a winter since 2001, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take the time to do the things we enjoy.