Top 5 Rides of 2012

2012 has been an amazing year for me for a variety of reasons, some professional, most personal, several of which fall into the sphere of Natespin.  Between racing and riding with my Kasel Cycling teammates, joy rides with my wife, or charting out solo two-wheeled adventures, 2012 has offered up some fantastic rides.  One of the main reasons for starting Natespin was to capture these experiences, as summed up in my first post “Spinning” in February.  Short and to the point, right?

Life moves so fast – sometimes it’s good to look back and enjoy where you’ve been (just don’t this for long while riding!).  So in that spirit, I offer:

Natespin’s Top 5 Rides of 2012

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5.)  February 18, 2012:  Mountain training in Tehachapi with some wind & snow

Tehachapi, CA.  A cold place in the winter.  Biting wind, high altitude (at least for a sea level dweller), snow, and roads with narrow shoulders.  Perfect for early season training to develop mental strength and bike handling skills!  I enjoyed this adventure because I started it with my Dad as I accompanied him on his favorite ride – a one mile trek from his garage to the local Starbucks.  Whatever motivates people to ride their bike!

I then left him to enjoy his venti and had it in my mind to head down to Keene via a route that passes the Tehachapi Loop (a railroad thing).  This was a fast 7 mile 1,400′ descent which made for a challenging climb at tempo pace against what seemed like an arctic wind when I turned around.  When I got back UP to Tehachapi, I thought I could find my Dad with the hunch he would continue his ride by going to the Post Office after finishing his coffee.

Sure enough, my bike tracking skills were on point and I met up with him at the Post Office.  I rode with him for a couple of miles and feeling frisky I decided to leave him and head up to Mountain Park, a 3 mile 7.7% grade climb which was made worse…. or better?….by the fact it was 70% tarmac and 30% slush/snow!  I made it to the top, snapped a picture, realized the sun was setting, found myself shivering, and thought of my Dad back at home with beer.  Down the mountain I went…. damn good ride!

Mtn Park Feb 2012

One of my favorite self-portraits….


4.) November 21, 2012: Los Pinos Trail with Josh

This ride was recently highlighted in its own post and video (“Los Pinos Face Tenderizer”) and I suppose it rises to the top because of how different it was from most of my rides.  It’s a risky ride when the pace is pushed.  Isolated & gnarly to be sure.  (BTW – this ride also features my top 2012 crash moment where I ask Josh to “come check my face”)

Josh (a Kasel Cycling teammate) and I brought our 5″ full suspension bikes to rumble and rumble we did.  There was some bumble too as Los Pinos stung us with several crashes and scratches to bikes and bodies.  As I tried to highlight in the original post, Los Pinos is gnarly not just because of the rocky and long downhills – it’s the torturous and repetitive uphill hike-a-bike sections that can really sting!  Here’s a photo that I didn’t include in my post which shows just how steep Los Pinos can be as Josh and I curse ourselves up perhaps the 4th climb like this:

Los Pinos... billy goat style.

Los Pinos… billy goat style.


3.) October 28, 2012:  Circumnavigation of Big Bear with Samantha

This was a beautiful ride!  I love exploring all the various trails, fireroads, and singletrack that Big Bear has to offer.  In 2012 I may have uncovered 6% of what’s rideable in Big Bear so it’s a good bet a future Big Bear adventure makes it to the 2013 Top 5 Rides list!  My favorite riding buddy joined me on this route around Big Bear and 80% of it was on dirt.  A video and some photos can tell the tale:

7 miles into a 40 mile off-road adventure is always a good time to stop and take a photo... we're still clean and can show off our new sponsor's, Jax Bicycle Center, kit!

7 miles into a 40 mile off-road adventure is always a good time to stop and take a photo… we’re still clean and can show off our new sponsor’s, Jax Bicycle Center, kit!


Heading up the Hanna Flat singletrack at mile 16 of 40.  This singletrack is in my Top 10 of favorite trails…..

SamStrong!  Up on 2N10 at the Plantation Farms singletrack intersection.

SamStrong! Up on 2N10 at the Plantation Farm singletrack intersection.  Mile 32 of 40.

Big Bear growler as a reward!  Mile 40 of 40.

Big Bear growler as a reward! Mile 40 of 40.


2.) March 25, 2012:  First 1st @ US Cup Race in Fontana, CA

My first victory is certainly a top moment of 2012!  Nine months removed from this race and original post, “Rare Air Atop Podium”, and I can honestly say I’m proud of my performance that day.  My fitness had been coming and this was validation that I could put it all together.  I recall leading the race nearly the whole time, wire to wire, and feeling strong.  I was caught near the end and used good strategy to draft a wheel and surge at the end for my first 1st!  I didn’t know it at the time (probably because I was in an anaerobic fog of war) but my win was by the slimmest of margins as you can see in the results & times that day:

1st!  By a tire knob!

1st! By a tire knob!


First time on the top step!

fontana finish

Pre-race and my Kasel Cycling teammates and I were all excited to wear our new race kit!  In an alternative universe, this would be our album cover if we were a terrible cover band…


1.) August 2, 2012:  Tour de Seattle

Drum roll……. #1 ride of 2012 is my tour of Seattle in August.  Why?  This ride epitomized the word adventure.  I got lost in getting lost.  This ride had it all:  scenery, dedicated bike paths, velodromes, gravel roads, a flat tire, bridges, Red Hook Brewery, seaplanes, and constant map checks!  My original post, “Pacific Northwest by Bike, Boat, Feet, & Air”, contains a lot of my favorite photos I took of 2012 in addition to telling the story of this ride.  Three of my favorite photos from this 72 mile ride:

Obligatory Seattle landmark shot!

I love the composition of different sculpted metals coming together in this shot with the iconic Space Needle, a funky metal canopy, and a lovely black bike.

A race is on!

A race is on!  What makes an adventure memorable are the unexpected treasures one uncovers… like riding on a bike path through a park and seeing a sign that reads “Velodrome” and then finding kids racing on it!  I had to take several laps around this track and might of had a bigger smile on my face than the kids!

Taken from a similar location to the photo above but I really liked how blue flowers adjacent to the trail paired with the imagery behind.

Another shot with the Space Needle, but it’s the juxtaposition of the natural, with the blue asters shooting up along the shore, with the industrial, as the old mill rusts in the background with the city behind it, that appeals to me.


What rides await in 2013?  See you down the trail….

6 responses to “Top 5 Rides of 2012

  1. Rock ON Nate. Great read…and loved the ones you selected. Circ. Big Bear is now on my list. And for me, top ride for 2012 = San Francisco to Santa Barbara…Day #2, Monterey to Moonstone Beach…amazing beauty.

  2. Pingback: President’s Day Traditions & Self-Portraits | natespin·

  3. Pingback: 2013 Favorite Photos | natespin·

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