One of my goals for 2017 is to keep in touch more closely with friends, despite being away from Wisconsin, where many of them live, for much of the year. Additionally, a handful of my friends have moved away from Wisconsin to pursue career goals of their own or simply to live somewhere else.

After my time abroad, I started off by flying to my work home base of Salt Lake City. Along the way, I stopped in Denver for 48 hours to see my friend Colin who is head brewmaster at Prost Brewing Company. He guided me around Denver to three new breweries. As into beer as bikes, Colin took me to a bike demo at Tabletop Mountain in Golden. The Pivot bike I rode was light and agile and equipped for climbing and ripping downhill, both of which we did. After the ride, we grabbed a beer at yet another brewery positioned by the trailhead.

Months later, I rode with Colin in Moab, UT on an awesome 28-mile ride with him as my guide.

Starting work, I was able to hang out with my friend Bryce from high school where he has a home in Whitefish, MT. I caught up with him over beers and a quick mountain bike ride. I met a few local women who ride mountain bikes and road bikes with their club, the Flathead Valley Biking Betties, and joined them for two rides.

Then I was whisked off to Saint George, UT for work a few weeks later. I booked two plane tickets on sale on Southwest to visit friends in California. The first of the trips was to LA. My friend Mike moved to LA after college. My friend Katie moved there earlier this year. I was able to see both of them, go to the beach, eat tacos, drink Russian River, see the Hollywood sign, visit the Griffith Observatory and chat for an amiable 48 hours.

Three weeks later, after driving across the country for work (UT –> NY), I flew home to see my friends and family in Wisconsin and attend my friends Jason and Kelly’s wedding. They met at my house during a “backyard brunch” potluck. I was lucky to be granted the time off and thankful for each of the 70 miles I rode with friends and every beer consumed in bliss.

Less than a week after returning to Saint George, UT, I was off jet setting again to visit a friend in San Diego and meet a new one to discuss bike touring. My friend Jillian moved to San Diego from Milwaukee a year ago and I hadn’t seen her since I left Milwaukee in June 2016. In Milwaukee, we had connected because of cycling. In San Diego, she lent me her bike and I rode around San Diego in search of craft beer, cold brew coffee and tacos.

It was nice to get away from the desert and work freelance remotely at coffee shops and beer bars.

After working in Washington at a charity ride, I had the opportunity to meet with my family Julie and Chad in Seattle. They showed me around and we visited my favorite dim sum place in the international district!

My summer was coming to a close, so I booked another flight. This one was to Portland to visit my cousin Kristina in nearby Bend, OR. We mountain biked and refueled with a stop at a few breweries and ate some of the best food I have eaten in all of Oregon.

I have so many friends all over the world. I enjoy hosting people when they come visit me. Sometimes people are so shy about coming to visit, or not willing to make the commitment. However, having a local show you around is the best thing. They show you — from their lens — what the city they live in is like. Skipping a handful of tourists traps leads to a more authentic experience discovering places with your local “guide” and friend. Since I had already visited all of the cities that my friends live in, it was relaxing to explore because I already knew my way around. Instead of always wanting something new when I travel, it is refreshing to return to a place that I already know how to navigate and I find myself with a grin on my face while I bike around.