Next Full Moon

April 15, Full hog dog or frog...Moon

17 April 2014

sifting through the debris

My money is not where my mouth is. That's my foot. If I were currently lurking in the shadows outside the Pixies show, like I aimed to be, then everthing would be different. Instead I am typing words for who? Life gets in the way, etc. Go find a hardcore cycling blog. You'll like it more.

And, hey- FYI, Alfredo's Cantina does have a lost and found. I went in there at lunch (on account of they do not open at 6AM like a real bar) and axed them if they had my stuff that I thought/hoped I'd left there after  the Saturday night debacle which was SKeaze Otter. So much more real without prizes and without attendance. A new low. Fun while it lasted, though. It was surprising and funny to me that my musette filled with my new jacket, my helmet?!, 4 Hamm's, 2 Budweisers, and 2 more musettes was still there after several days.

Dang. I got to eat more kale and get to bed on time. 

08 April 2014

are you looking for the mother lode?

Because, check this out, Pixies are playing next Thursday at the Henry Miller Library. Yes, just a short (30ish miles) jaunt down the coast in Big Sur. Yes, again, a spot with easy stealth camping not so very far away and dirt options for some of the ride each way. Since the tickets are $137.59, I am declining to formally attend, but reserving the option to lurk in the shadows outside while drinking pocket booze and dancing by myself. Anybody innerested? You do realize, your head will collapse if there's nothing in it.

I can see us spinning...


07 April 2014

strike from the shadows and slip away unseen

Condor start line 2014

Some bike trips are bigger than others. 6 days on the road...

Some bike trips' mothers are bigger than other bike trips' mothers. True fact. It makes a twisted kind of sense if you really think about it; the kind of thinking one can really only settle into whilst sitting around on your saddle with several other wasted and weather blasted hobos in the middle of nowhere deep in the heart of an 11 hour pedal. Drifting in and out of the here and now as weather, clothing, road/trail conditions, hunger, exhaustion, hilarity, helpful teammates, the availability of water (or tallboys), etc conspire to effect change.

Such weather! Sleeping in a luxurious campground shitter. Sleeping under a jury rigged $4 blue tarp as the storm raged and the thunder crashed about 18" overhead, and the hail fell hard and loud. Sleeping roofless under clear skies. Etc.

I enjoyed the ____ out of the Condor Tour 2014, and all of y'all who rode along were solid and even-tempered hard men of a type seldom seen in this modern and pussified world. Thanks, bros, I never had a better time. The wall rides down the penultimate downhill? Watching a paceline of dirty yahoos loaded with bags and racks hit them in formation? Words.

It was as though we were on a secret locals' tour everywhere we went. Super well routed. Several folks referenced the currently ubiquitous finely-documented bike touring epics sponsored by X, Y, and Z and laughingly compared our rag-tag band-of-brothers shoot-from-the-hip rough-and-tumble aggregate to that kind of slicksterism. Each time, we all laughed. Well, looking around at the other dirtbags, you had to. There was not the matching kit, nor the matching bikes, no support car, and the guy at the liquor store in Santa M_______ was so convinced I was just another homeless DUI on a bike he tried to deny me a plastic bag (which I needed in order to tear in half and line my disgustingly wet, cold and smelly shoes) know, regular assholes on whatever they brung.

I wish I had photos of all of it, but- alas!- I left my phone on the 1st day, and it died. I would show you the different set-ups, because that sort of thing is interesting to me. I was surprised and impressed at the packing skills some of these fools evidenced, as in "how does he keep pulling more warm clothes out of there?" and "I wish he had shopped for me instead of my own lousy choices", or "I'd like some of your beer", etc. As for me, I was running the well-used and trusted Surly Ogre, as it had served me well on the Death Valley Ramble and other bike campouts. I ran the Big Wheel front end because there were to be multiple dirt sections (local singletracks, oh yeah!) and I like the float without the complexity and I understand Murphy's Law. I was ridiculed and envied in turn...there were also lots of road sections. Overall, I am satisfied with my choice. I do wish I had run lighter racks and not assumed that my packed-to-go sleeping bag was the synthetic model I thought it was in stead of the susceptible-to-soaking down version that it actually was (check your gear, meathead). My choice in rain wear was the controversial waxed cotton poncho/chaps, and it worked as well as anything does in a full-on gale but it was slow to stow, requiring stopping and strapping. I feel like it was 6s, even given the headwinds (many and mighty). I did miss a wind-proof layer, and will remember it next time. My Jiffy-Pop surprise failed when sorely needed- the aluminum pan had taken too much abuse and sprung a leak, dropping ugly red geasewax all over the stove. I want a bigger tiTAINium cook pot. Using the future stove instead of my cave-tech Kelly Kettle not only saved bulk (we split the load) but worked in all the soaking wet conditions that would have really stymied the wood burner (thanks, To_d!).

Riding a paceline is a skill, and it is worth having. Those fellows all knew what they were doing, and it showed. Hand signals, laying off the brakes, etc. We moved along at a good clip, which felt great sometimes and was all I could do to hang on at the back other times. I will say- when you come to the front, do NOT surge, but keep the pace even. It hurts the yoyo at the rear.

I am left with Good Feelings. Mostly, I am deeply impressed with the routing- it was SO good. But also, I respect and admire the spirit of brotherhood (without getting mystical- it's just riding bikes) shown so casually.

If you go...just go. You don't need anything fancy. The gear you have is the best gear of all. Use it.

26 March 2014

the patient may die

Just for the record, if you find yourselves wondering, the Tektro hydraulic line for the Auriga/etc model disc brakes will   
edit: WILL  NOT work with the Shimano Deore lever and caliper BR-M615...

further edit: there is slight weeping at the lever connection. Dammit, it was too convenient to be true. So now it's the brake swap. Feck.

It has been my understanding that Tektro produces the Shimano brakes in their factories, and they sure look the same, so I figured I'd give it a shot seeing as how we had the Tektro line but not the Shimano. The Tektro is a cunt hair bigger (apologies to the ladies, but sometimes) but when I checked the connector bolts they threaded right in so I used the hardware included and so far it is holding oil and feels great! Well, yes, it is just in the stand. But I'm a ride that bike to work tomorrow and brake check the shit out of myself so hopefully all will be well in the real world.

If not, it's a last minute brake swap from the other bike. Cross your fingers, toes, and eyes.

Y Flaco es el hombre.

...and the trombone?!? Dang.

25 March 2014

open up your heart

Ah, Bitch Irony has done attempted to break my heart. It runs so deep. To begin, know that I am resistant to "new" bicycle tech. Well, on of account of having been that kid who wants the new new because it's new and surely the manufacturer has all the bugs worked out and is bringing to market a truly improved product that is a real world game changer and plus it's shiny this year. You understand. And then, I have been that guy in the back who only wants to run what they brung, too. These days I kid myself my current stance is one of balance and poise.

If I don't do it, somebody else will.

So then, looking back at this decade or so of dipping my toe further into the muck of disc brakery, you must recognize the extensive use of mechanical discs for what it is. What it has been. A nod to the Real real world practicablity of use, such that when (if?) one does experience technical probrems they are of an easily solveable nature, viz. fitting a new braided steel cable,etc and vs. the trouble and expense of replacing hydraulic line and potentially (likely?) pads as well, to say nothing of the toxicity inherent in the DOT fluid and how that reflects poorly on us as a species.

Like Galileo dropped a orange.

And then finally having gotten comfortable with the vagaries of the hydraulic systems, after finding one (1) that consistently and quietly works (Shimano, bitches...AND it's the non-toxic mineral oil!) I go and put it on my own bike and just love the hell out of it. It's easier on these tired out forearms. It works (mountain, anyhow...LMFAO @ the early adopters of the sram it down your throat hydraulic road garbage...but it's new! And shiny!). And after all the times folks have used their hydro and not had probrems, I slowly, creepingly, stopped considering them a sure-fire hazard and the shift has been gradual but certain that hydro is not necessarily evil, not necessarily a sure-fire fun ender if crashed.

You see where this is going. I patted myself on the back for getting the workingman's Deore brakes and keeping it real with this 3rd foray, having used the SLX to good effect after the weak XTR of 2006 or so. I put them on yesterday, in anticipation of this big dumb tour, and there was no trouble in sight. And then I went up that hill with a saw strapped on the bike- because it needs doing plus it's fun to have a mission and plus it's just fun to run a big saw. I figured I'd make a real test ride out of it. I put the big front wheel on the Ogre because it worked so nice in Death Valley and I wanted to be certain it is the right choice this go round.

And it will be, after I fix this severed hydraulic line.

Yep. Railing it a little bit faster than conditions (being my skills) will allow, I dumped the front end. Well, I was flush with so much success. Alas, the front rack clipped the line as the result of the bar twisting crash. And here is the irony- after having zero issues with the mechanical disc brakes that had been mounted on that bike for a couple years, including with that same front rack in that very same mounted position and with other crashes under my belt aboard same (because, let's face it) I had changed the routing of the rear brake line from the most lateral guides to the "protected" underneath the down tube guides, which change in clearance (of 4 or 5mm max, BTW) was my downfall. I had considered and authorized this switcheroo and thought myself clever.

Of course I've learned, now. Not like any of these type of issues is in my future anymore. 

22 March 2014

feverish activity

Guess who's all thumbs and isn't going bike camping in Coe next week. Yes, my life is not my own, and my superiors have informed me that that plan is unworkable. Which is tough, because (well, I wanted to go play) I am trying to finalize my set-ups for this upcoming tour. 6 days on the road ain't going to suck itself. There are substantial dirt sections, and folks in recent years have been taking their mountain bikes, so I'm thinking I'll revive the success of the Surly Ogre with the 29+ front (dyno)wheel for distance and comfort. It worked well on the Death Valley Ramble. Lots of load capacity and little to go wrong. I need that. I also lik the flatform pedals for the long hauls. It is nice to have the freedom to move around a bunch and I believe there will be the walking next to the bike for extended periods as well.

 Even after all this extensive riding around to and from and after work, I am not ready for this. Which is as ready as I'll ever be. When we form like Voltron, I will be the tail end bringing up the back.

This week I will be dehydrating hummus and baking kale chips, rolling around on foam cylinders, pulling out the myriad tarps to find the usablest one, making lists, and purchasing rations. It's a process. You got to find what strikes the best balance, if it works for you then it is undeniable.

18 March 2014

strange animals you never saw

Days off are for fun. Relax in the woods with some clippers and a pull-saw for 4 hours and what a you get? Trails clear of logs (the smaller ones, anyhow. There are a few still down that will require some real sawyering...under cover of darkness), free from eye-poking limbs, and NO POISON OAK within arms reach of the singletracks. Those are some results.

I been demoing a full squish (full carbon?!) with the 1x11 for the past week. While the Magura disc brakes squeal like they're a little overweight and their log book is way behind, I am enjoying the shit out of the experience. That 1x11 business...that is all right. No problems climbing the sustained, the steep, or the punchy. Lots of giddy.

The bloom is on over here, and I'm thinking folks going bike touring 2 weeks from now are gonna be missing the wildflowers, which will be past. Seems like a couple days in Coe are just the ticket for some climby flower viewing...who's got 2 thumbs and is off next Monday and Tuesday?