Heather Jackson's Gravel Hideaway

Social distancing can be practiced in a number of ways. For those in urban areas, that likely means being bound to their home with little physical contact to the outside world. For others, it’s enjoying a multi-day gravel and camping trip close to home where contact was limited to just free-range cattle. This is how 2019 Top-5 Kona World Championship finisher Heather Jackson and husband “Wattie” of Wattie Ink decided to hunker down in order to minimize social contact with the outside world while enjoying every bit of the great outdoors.

“With my first two races, Oceanside 70.3 and BWR postponed, we met with my coach about taking it a week at a time”, said Heather. “As races continue getting shifted further and further in the year, it’s tough to decipher when training needs to really become focused with race-specific intensity since you don’t want to burn yourself out or peak too early. So that said, we decided to keep the aerobic base rolling, while isolated and away from people.”

Heather and Wattie loaded up their car and made the short drive from their home in Tucson to rural Patagonia, Arizona. Although last November’s The Spirit World 100 gravel event put the area on the map for its array of riding, it’s hardly a tourist hot spot, which was exactly the point. With Heather’s original 2020 schedule set to include a number of gravel events, such as the Belgian Waffle Ride and Dirty Kanza, spending more time in the dirt was already a focus coming at the onset of the season.

“Control what you can control, which is a positive attitude and your own health and wellbeing”, Heather continued. “We were fortunate enough to be based in Tucson when everything started up last week, so we packed up our Honda Element and drove about 90 minutes south to some of the most peaceful, isolated dirt roads there are. We have been sleeping in the back of our car, off random dirt roads, waking up and riding gravel bikes, running, and there are a few lakes (although freezing) to hop in. Our main contact has been with wild horses and free-range cattle. We are just trying to appreciate all we have in this moment and take each day as it comes in regards to improvements in this pandemic.”

If only we could all be so lucky to have such accessibility out our back door. Be sure to follow Heather Jackson on Instagram as she finds new challenges in the form of gravel to add into what would have ordinarily been a busy start to the racing season.