Last, But Certainly Not Least feat. Wine Country, CA

My very last experience in my first season of Backroads was working our annual Staff Ride. Every year, Backroads invites all of their leaders (though it is limited to a couple hundred) to go to a different part of the world and bike and party for 4 days together. This year, it was a camping trip in Wine Country, California. Since the company has grown so much in the past couple years, this year they decided to put a cap on attendance, and therefore first year employees were not allowed to attend. Since I was Camp Crew all summer, though, and seeing as it was a camping trip, I got to work it.

While it was hard work, I was able to attend all of the parties, and even got to ride one of the days I had off. So I got lucky – I was one of the only first year employees to be able to attend, and I got paid!

The first day of the ride, we had all the tents up from the day before and spend the afternoon prepping for the big party that night. This was possibly the most alcohol I have ever seen. We had six 5-gallon towers of pre-made cocktails that were refilled throughout the night, kiddie pools of beer, boxes and boxes of wine and coolers of champagne for a toast at the beginning of the night. For dinner that night, they brought in 3,000 oysters as well as a catering company. We spent the night chilling around various fire pits, hanging out and catching up.

The next day was my day off, and though I was excited to ride, I was also deeply hungover and got vertigo from being on my bike. So I joined a crew of my friends from Jackson on what we dubbed the short short option. Instead of biking the normal way to lunch, we biked the afternoon option backwards – only 15 miles to lunch and 15 miles back. We took the ride slow and had plenty of fun stopping and chatting. Lunch was incredible. It was in a barn, that is gorgeous enough to get married in, and was catered by a local creamery. All I ate was bread and fresh ricotta, and for dessert, the best soft serve ice cream I have ever had. My stomach was not happy, but my soul was.

That night, we went to another barn for a night of live music and dancing. Though the theme was not enforced, many people came prepared with western outfits. We took plenty of pictures on the mounds of hay bales around the barn and danced our faces off.

The third day was move day. Move day is never fun, but we all felt like garbage so the day moved very slowly. When we finally got everything done, though, it was time for the coolest Halloween party I have ever attended. The theme was Cirque du Backroads, so everyone came in their carnival best. There were plenty of animals, fortune tellers, clowns and multiple ringleaders. We had brought in a full circus – complete with a man on stilts, carnival games, tarot card readers, magicians, acrobats, tightrope walkers and fire dancers. At 10 pm, the noise ordinance came into effect, and out came the headphones for our silent disco. I will likely be doing this for my wedding if there is any noise ordinance issues. Future husband, take note.

The last day had many of the riders heading to the spa or relaxing, but not for the crew working! We spent the day prepping the bikes and packing them up in Penskes to take back to Salt Lake. That night, however, we partied like it was 1979 – the year Backroads was founded – and had a nice sit-down dinner with an actual disco. They had brought in a Saturday Night Fever light-up dance floor and the effect was insane. There were performances from Tom Hale and other Backroads stars and then we got to dancing again.

Though it was a lot of hard work, and I need a full month’s detox to recover, Staff Ride was the perfect way to end my first season at Backroads. Working a job like this is weird and stressful and exhausting, but I wouldn’t go back to my former life for anything. Talk to you all again when I’m back next season in the spring.

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