Texas is so vast it makes New Mexico feel as crowded as wall-to-wall suburbs back in Jersey. Two hours after leaving Truth or Consequences, we crossed the state line north of El Paso and saw a sign: “Beaumont: 831 miles.” How is it even possible that a single state could be so wide? Just across the highway, the cramped houses of Juarez, Mexico, seemed to sag into the ground beneath lopsided tin roofs.
We had 150 miles to go until Marfa, and soon we left El Paso behind and were engulfed by an austere landscape, lonely ranch gates the only sign of life. Miraculously, the Airstream tires were holding, the door hadn't blown open since we crossed into Texas, and the only thing broken besides the back window was the ancient AM radio antenna, now bent over and nearly dragging on the highway. Compared to the previous day's ordeal, this ranked as a huge success.
With 30 miles to go, we blasted through the outskirts of Valentine, a town of about 100, if that. “There was the Prada–Marfa store!” Steve said as the fashion icon’s black-and-white logo whizzed past my window. The store’s not actually a store, but a wry art installation and cultural commentary on the stylization of an otherwise dusty West Texas ranch town. I thought about telling Steve to turn the Airstream around so I could take a picture, but then I contemplated the horrors that might unleash, and I kept my mouth shut.
We were barreling south on I-25 doing 70 when we felt it: a weird shuffling sensation in the tires. The truck hitched slightly to the right and began to decelerate. I looked over at Steve to see if he’d put his foot on the brake, but he was looking at me with an equally baffled expression, and that’s when I knew we were really in trouble.
“Oh CRAP!” we said in unison. This was going to suck.
It’s never convenient to get a flat tire on a road trip, but it’s especially trying when you’re towing a 21-foot vintage Airstream trailer for only the second time in your life, and you have two young, sleep-deprived children and a deaf, three-legged dog in the backseat, the baby is teething, and the spare tire is as old as the trailer. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly an auspicious start to our maiden Airstream voyage.
Mike Dion's first feature-length film, Ride The Divide, followed three cyclists on the inaugural Tour Divide, a 2,700-mile self-supported bikepacking race along the Continental Divide from Banff, Canada to Antelopes Wells, New Mexico, a dusty crossing on the Mexico border. Even the most jaded couldn't watch the movie, which won best adventure film at the Vail Film Festival, without being inspired to get out and ride. In his latest film, Reveal The Path, Dion follows Tour Divide founder and record-holder Matthew Lee and 2011 race winner Kurt Refsnider on a 36-day vagabonding bike trip in some of the world's biggest and most stunning mountain locales. Ahead of the film's upcoming release, Dion talked to me about bikepacking, filmmaking, and his own path to fulfillment.
As you probably already know, I'm sick of winter. Many friends are chasing snow this weekend—the Santa Fe backcountry should be glorious from the big dump earlier this week, and one buddy of mine flew to Rogers Pass in Canada for a week of powder—but all I can dream of are dry trails and sizzling pavement.
I've been sneaking away deeper into the southwest all winter for bike tests, races, and a simple break from bundled-up riding. And nothing feels finer than hot winter sun on pale winter legs (with apologies to your riding buddies). During the Outside Magazine test trip, we had a bunch of guys down from Utah and Wyoming, and I've never seen people so ecstatic about riding. On their last day, when I told them we were done after four laps, they insisted on squeezing in two more before dark. "This is the last time we're going to ride outside for months," one said desperately.
So with Spring Break upon us, I present you four spots where you can spin your legs—minus the trainer.
Adventure awaits @ Manuel Antonio [photo: Tulemar]
Costa Rica is Central America’s answer to New Zealand: small place, huge adrenaline rush. With surfing beaches, cloud forests, rainforests, eco lodges, and active volcanos crammed into a country the size of West Virginia, it’s no wonder Costa Rica has been on the eco-tourism map for nearly 30 years. But thanks to a recent surge in zip lining, rafting, and canyoneering, its focus has shifted from budget-conscious backpackers and active couples to adventurous families looking for more than just a lazy beach vacay.
Maybe it’s the headline-grabbing drug woes in Mexico and the high costs of the Caribbean, but lately it seems like everyone I talk to is decamping to Costa Rica with the kiddos to get in on the action. If your idea of a tropical vacation involves more than lolling poolside with a fruity drink while the kids play Marco Polo, check out these three itineraries, custom made for adventurers of all ages.