Road Trips and Bikes (with Kids!)

Written by Stacey Zander, Photography by Steve Zander and Max Kirks 

The older I get, the crazier life seems to become. I have two jobs, and I’m a VIDA Ambassador. My husband is building an addition on our house in his free time after work. We have a 7-month-old and a 2-year-old. To say we’re busy is an understatement. But every now and then we get to take a break from it all and get the heck out of town.

Last weekend we made the trek from Denver to the small town of Cortez in the southwest corner of Colorado. My uncle lives there on a farm, and we had family converging from all over to get together for the first time in years. Road trips like this changed a bit once we started having kids. We used to be wild and free. We could stop anywhere we wanted, take the bikes off the rack, and do a quick loop on a newly discovered trail before continuing on our journey. Nowadays, we have the privilege of juggling never-ending potty stops, poopy pants, hungry tummies, teary eyes, and one very restless toddler. A wise friend with two babes of her own once told me, “You can do anything with kids, it just comes down to how much you want to torture yourself in the process.” Truer words were never spoken. Needless to say, we powered through the 7+ hours of drive time to get to Cortez as quickly as possible.

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Family was our #1 priority on this trip. #2 was, as always, mountain biking. Luckily, we have an entire extended family of at least part-time shredders. So outside of going on tractor rides, playing cornhole, and building massive bonfires, we all had a specific destination in mind: Phil’s World. For those of you who don’t know, Phil’s World is a 28-mile circuit of fast and flowy trails right outside of Cortez. While not being super techy, it offers tons of satisfying and fun desert singletrack with plenty of great viewpoints along the way. Its claim to fame is a section of roller coaster jumps and berms called Rib Cage that gives PBR in Fruita a run for its money. Having never ridden Phil’s World before, I was anxious to try it out, and I can now say that the trail system lives up to the hype. If you’ve never been, go check it out!

So, was it worth the 2 full days of driving with little ones for just a short weekend visit? For us, it definitely was! This trip was a much-needed getaway spent with family and bikes, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Although our epic mountain bike adventures may be few and far between these days, it doesn’t mean we’re ready to give up the sport altogether. On the contrary, we are continually figuring out how to integrate mountain biking into our family time. I believe it’s never too early to share our love of riding with our kids. These days if we’re headed to a trailhead, we can throw a portable crib and a strider bike in the back of the truck, then take turns doing laps and hanging with the kids. Or, if we’re lucky enough to have sitters around (like we did on this trip), we can even get a few miles in together! So while family continues to be our #1 priority, mountain biking can always remain our #2.