Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

16 July 2009

all ratted up like a teenage Jezebel

Boys only, immediate family only trip towards Indians from Arroyo Seco via the bicycle...and it broke me. I spent a lot of time thinking about the various expressions for exhaustion used in the cycling world of my acquaintance while climbing the hateful face above the gorge. (I had a lot of time.) None of these expressions encompassed the depth and sincerity of my condition.

I am well familiar with the bad feeling that comes in the early minutes of some rides. This was that and more. Particularly in light of having ridden this same hill recently in similar circumstances. Last time it was the trailer-bike and as ultra-light as I felt we could go as a family in the heat. This time it was the Big Dummy. The Big Dummy was loaded, I was not. Since we had the cargo hauling capacity, we hauled some: to the tune of the 2-burner propane stove, the 9,000lb cast iron griddle, enough bags (3) for everyone, the tiny picnic stool, the heavy Paco pad (7lbs and worth them), and a small cooler. Not so light, but not nearly as heavy as we've gone before.

I'll blame the heat. It's convenient.

So my 9 year old schooled me up the hill.

I eventually asked J to climb off the back of the big Dummy and walk. I only rode at his walking pace, so it was no great loss to him. What a difference- I came to realize how much his pedaling input last time helped offset his 37lbs. When I stopped to allow him back on, I put my foot down on a tippy rock, and fell over the side of the roadbed. Only my grip on the bike prevented me from continuing on down the slope. That would have been bad. I was too fatigued to react quickly. Oops. It has since been decided that I will not take the boys so remote with only one adult.

All I ask of my boys is that they look like old time Australian miners...


At the spring for refills.

Dinner by the campfire.

Night time screaming?

I sleep very lightly in the woods, so in the middle of the night I was awakened by some unknown-to-me and very scary noise. I raised up onto my forearms, and heard it again, seemingly 40-60 feet away. A weird shrieking sound. It did not sound catlike, but that is all I could think about- mountain lion. What else could make such a terrifying and BIG noise? I grabbed the headlamp from the "gear attic", and sweated in the dark without turning it on. I didn't want to give away our position. It sounds ridiculous here (clearly whatever it was knew good and well we were there) but at the time it seemed the best course of action. It repeated 6 or 7 times down the roadbed to the North, and then after a pause (during which I was steady staring at the roadbed towards the noise and scanning in front of the tent as well and seeing nothing moving) it came again just to the South and much closer ( maybe 20 feet) at which point I pressed the light to the mesh (so it wouldn't just reflect back at me) and tried to spotlight what I thought of as "the creature". Immediately it sounded again, 2 more times and each time it was more muffled, as though it were getting farther away. The boys slept through the whole thing; which was good. I did not sleep so well for the remainder of the night. The one night I did not have a knife next to me. I usually keep a knife right to hand and even indulge in such paranoid levels of preparation as to pre-open the blade (because after all, were I to actually need the knife, I'd need it ready), but this night saw me in the tent with a 6" camping knife, and a 16" handled saw just out of reach and outside the tent, and me the only "adult". Scary situation.

Turns out it was a fox. Who knew? You scoff, but I guarantee you that noise would scare you pantless in the dark.

Dawn and breakfast eventually showed. I searched for evidence of "the creature", but found no sign on the hard, stony ground. Blueberry and banana pancakes washed away the taste of fear. I forgot the coffee, which made things hard. D stuffed the sleeping bags (unasked), which was a help. The boys threw rocks while I broke camp.

All downhill to the swimming hole.

The load was lightened (due to the food all being eaten) and was more compact. I also wised up and laid the big canvas bag flat on the snap deck instead of upright, and that made a noticeable difference as well. I lik to forgo the sideload supports, and keep the side cargo as high as possible. This allows better clearance, which is important since the old roadbed is littered with rocks. The full cooler on the front rack makes steering more cumbersome, but it also holds cooled food and a 6 pack. Trade offs.

The steering was much more precise than the Albatross barred Long Haul Trucker and trailerbike. Maneuvering through the rubble was odd at first with the super long wheel base. It quickly became 2nd nature again. J was kind of jammed up against the stem mounted water bottle this time, and did not like all the bumps; he got pretty upset on the constant downhill- even with the thermarest pad. He likes the trailerbike much better. (Times are changing.) We may have to work out some different system in the future.

This section of road bed does not look so impressive here, but the darker section is the remains of a road closing slide that is pretty sketchy.

The big payoff.

You should trick your own kids into doing this before they know any better.


Anonymous said...

serious mountain manning

Fxdwhl said...

impressive fathering. big cats an issue there?

reverend dick said...

Yes, mountain lions are all over these parts. Intellectually, I know they likely are not innerested in eating me (though the boys on their own would be tempting) but screaming in the dark will make you forget what you heard...

Jonny Hamachi said...

Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.


Little_Jewford said...

All I can say is we have a kick ass back yard, I need to get out to it more often!

Good work...


Fxdwhl said...

ham - is this your homework, larry?

rev- i remember your scat post but don't know how widespread they are. we've got black bears and talk of some big cats but nothing confirmed to my knowledge. more of a threat are thugs and hicks round here.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

Nice post. You are still the Dad of the century. Ever since I saw that Nat Geo special on the women nailed by the big cat in Hollywood, I have been afraid of riding out there. I'd rather surf with sharks. It's all about the known fears with me.

reverend dick said... shit has come to light!

Mountain lions are rampant herabouts, but they are more innerested in pets and tasty deer than us. Though they are scary, fo sho.

Sharks...that's just terrifying. No thanks; talk about unknown.

stan said...

is it too late to trick ivan into doing this?

reverend dick said...

Iveman got wise to your tricks a while ago.

Anonymous said...

Id take my chances with a mountain lion way before a shark, you can at least *try* to run if you see/hear/smell a mountain lion, sharks come out of nowhere. Not to mention no one can hear you screaming and yelling underwater.

Katie said...

Good job. Here's hoping your kids are thanking you (today or someday). And I totally understand about shaking in a tent with a insufficient self defense. Mine was a whistle around my neck for a long solo bike tour.

Cycle Jerk said...

I would much rather mountain bike/camp knowing there was a shark nearby than mountain lion. I could kick a sharks ass on some single track.

Nice fathering, my daughter turned one today! :)

The Minister said...

Good job, man, get all the time in with them you can. They grow up way too fast...