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Enchanted Lands - High Desert Training Meets Ecotourism

There are few better ways to set the scene of my most recent adventure than to recall America’s 1971 hit, “A Horse with No Name.”

On the first part of the journey,

I was looking at all the life,

There were plants and birds and rocks and things,

There was sand and hills and rings.

The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz,

And the sky with no clouds,

The heat was hot,

And the ground was dry,

But the air was full of sound

Upper Horrell Place at Reevis Mountain SchoolThe School of Self Sufficiency:

For guests, the Reevis Mountain School of Self-Reliance (Reevis Mountain) gives the distinct real life feeling of riding through the desert on a horse with no name. Nestled in the Northeastern corner of Arizona’s Superstition Wilderness at an elevation of 3,300 feet, Reevis Mountain lies to the south of Roosevelt Lake. As you ascend the canyon to approach the school, a greeting party of green Saguaro cacti lines the winding road, waving their arms as if to welcome you back to nature.

Reevis Mountain is owned by Peter Bigfoot, local master of self-reliance. He’s a tall, thin, grey haired gentleman who has owned the land and taught survival skills courses there for many years. He is best known for his solo trek across the Sonora desert in July 1976, in which he covered 85 miles in 15 days, surviving the journey by foraging.

Peter is full of stories and experiences that might have more in common with our ancestors than our daily lives. My favorite is when he was attacked by a hungry mountain lion while sleeping in his yurpee (yurt/teepee combination) one night. Peter shot and killed it. Now a picture of the catch hangs on his wall, reminding visitors that the wilderness can be as dangerous as it is beautiful.

Reevis Mountain SchoolWhy should bicyclists visit Reevis Mountain School?

After a long season of bicycling or triathlon racing, it’s often helpful to go off the grid for a while and relax at a training camp. Anza Borrego desert is a popular choice for Southern Californians, but this year I chose a secret land near ancient Indian cave dwellings to set my 2018 race intentions and start to train for Michael Marcx’s famous Belgium Waffle Ride (BWR), and the revived Wildflower Triathlon (WFT) in April and May.

As many know, the BWR and WFT both involve not only off-road components, but also camping. So training and living like the Apaches and nearby Salado Indians seemed like the perfect choice to prepare for these exciting challenges. Instead of a nameless horse, I’ll ride my mountain bike on the Apache Trail, or near the Four Peaks mountains where the desert floor rises up from lake Roosevelt to meet the mountains.

When tired of the dirt, there’s 20 miles of views, and quiet paved roads to navigate the majestic viewpoints encircling Lake Roosevelt. There are hills to climb that fill your lungs with the invigorating electric air—necessary preparation to conquer the BWR and WFT.

Reevis Mountain SchoolThese rides will clear your mind, as the enchanted lands give more than they take. As I approach 62, a focused mental state is needed to complete the semi harsh BWR and WFT racing environments, including hills, dirt riding, dry heat, and camping with nature.

Reevis Mountain SchoolRespecting the Land

Mark Allen, six-time Hawaiian Ironman world champion, respects the land and gods. This makes sense. After all, a major benefit of athletic endeavors is that it allows us to recreate aspects of our primal existence. Overcoming fatigue to conquer a hill is deeply rewarding, even with the luxury of knowing your life doesn’t depend on it. Training in nature is a big step to getting the most out of the experience, but living close to nature also helps sharpen you and prepare you for its challenges.

One way to learn the land’s secrets after your adventurous workouts is to eat healthy, real food at Reevis Mountain, which includes a selection of locally grown organic vegetables, nuts, and fruits from the nearby 100 tree orchard and gardens. Peter also serves beef, wild turkey, elk, and Apache trout (in season), as well as eggs from his cage free chickens. Your thirst is quenched from a year-round underground spring. We live our daily lives many steps removed from the origin of our food. It’s valuable to occasionally remind ourselves of what it’s like to live off the land. It helps appreciate life itself and the world that sustains it.

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Reevis Mountain SchoolSelf Sufficiency Training

Once fed, the afternoon is filled with lectures on self-reliant healing using local plants, and herbal remedies used to make teas, salves, and tinctures. These natural remedies can be used to combat abrasions, cramps, dehydration, exhaustion, irritability, and colds.

Peter has sold the handmade extracts since 1988.

Reevis Mountain SchoolResting Your Bones

After a full day you can sleep comfortably in the cool brisk air in either a small cabin, yurpee, or tent camping. The three-day package ranges from $250.00 to $500.00 depending on availability. Peter is hoping that bicycle eco-tourism will generate enough income to build a few more cabins, so he can pass his gift of knowledge to the bicycling community. A gift is only complete once it’s passed on.

So, if you want to ride in the morning, learn from a master in the afternoon, and sleep under the stars at night especially the last two weeks of January 2019, contact Peter at the Reevis Mountain School of Self-Reliance.

Authors' Credit and Wish

I hope we can spread Bicycle - Eco Tourism into the local and Federal lands. Kevin Loomis, President of the San Diego Mountain Biking Association (SDMBA) has high hopes to do exactly this in San Diego. This camping trip would fit nicely with the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival in early March. Perhaps, some of the bicycle magazine writers would expand on this attempt to bring health and joy to our lives.

Ride safe! Ride strong!

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