Planning an Epic Escapade – Where to Begin?
By W.carter - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Planning an Epic Escapade – Where to Begin?

Planning and initiating a large project can be intimidating. And to be clear, I find the daunting scope and scale of riding all EPICS and at all Ride Centers™ to be both intimidating and exhilarating. I also believe that if you don’t feel more than a bit of trepidation as you launch your own escapade then you’ve probably made your quest too easy (and are thus falling short of the audaciousness needed to achieve outsized life changing results).

So where do you begin? Well, my first step is always to start brainstorming my goals. Epic Escapades should be just that — Epic! What are the broad, intangible, and abstract benefits I hope to achieve?

GOALS –  What am I after?

  1. Enjoy more travel and adventure.
  2. Spend my resources collecting experiences instead of possessions.
  3. Live deliberately and in alignment with my values and beliefs.

The most rewarding times in my life have always occurred during or immediately after periods of intense personal growth. And that intense personal development occurs as a result of me challenging my own “status quo”. Time for the red pill.

By W.carter – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Why now? Well, I just turned 50 and my only child has graduated high school and will be headed to college this fall. While I wouldn’t change a minute of that time, I’ve spent so many years on “autopilot” chasing success as defined by our culture, that I lost touch with the interests I once pursued solely out of joy. Is this a midlife crisis? Maybe. Okay, probably. But it’s also a midlife catalyst. A chapter in my life is clearly coming to an end. And it has me wondering “what next”?

Which brings us back to the topic. After defining your goals, I recommend you be very clear and specific about your objectives. What are the specific, tangible, and measurable results that you will produce. By the way, this is no time for limiting your aspirations due to real or perceived difficulties and constraints. We’ll consider those later.

OBJECTIVES –  What am I going to do?

  1. Ride all EPICS trails
  2. Ride at all IMBA Ride Centers™

There.  Simple so far, right? Since I can’t think of anything else at the moment, I’ll move on. If additional goals become obvious, I’ll add them later. But my guess is that I’ll primarily only be adding clarifications. And we’ll call these clarifications and limits on our escapade our Scope.

SCOPE – What’s included (and excluded)?

  1. An EPICS ride will be considered completed when the entire length of the trail is ridden.
  2. An Epic Ride Center™ will be considered completed when a predetermined number of trail miles are ridden. Some Ride Centers™ (I’m looking at you Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, AZ) contain 100’s of miles of trails. I don’t intend to ride every single mile of every single RC.
  3. The quest will be complete when I have ridden all EPICS and Ride Centers™ listed on the IMBA’s annual list. This means the ride list will likely expand between now and whenever I finish.
  4. The quest will last as long as it lasts. How long? For now the best answer I can give is…until I complete it or accept that I am unable to (soooo I’m going to say paralyzed or dead).

Next, let’s start thinking about obstacles and challenges.

CHALLENGES – Considerations and Risks

  1. Developing and maintaining my physical condition and overall health is critical to completion of the quest.
  2. Improving my riding skill level will probably be needed to ensure my ability to complete a few of the advanced trails.
  3. Trails are rarely open all year. Trail riding season varies depending on geographical location and weather. Some have a very small window each year (Laugavegur Route in Iceland).
  4. The trails vary in riding difficulty. This may require additional or different bikes and gear.
  5. Some trails will require long distance travel. This will require up to date travel documents and possibly immunizations.
  6. Some trails will require acclimatization for a midwesterner. Anything over 5-6000 ft elevation is probably going to cause me to experience some breathing issues until I’ve had time to adjust to the altitude. This means some trails will cost more in terms of time away from work.
  7. Financial cost of bikes, gear and travel expenses.
  8. Riding alone on many of the trails is unsafe and dangerous given the remoteness and ruggedness of terrain.
  9. Accommodations during extended travel and stay trips will need to be planned and funded. I am currently prepping an RV that will be my mobile base camp. But obviously this is a personal solution for locations in the US and Canada. I may consider renting something in Australia and New Zealand since both will entail multiple days.

That’s the first pass.  See anything I’ve missed?  If so, let me know in the comments below.