Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

08 October 2009

superficially attractive but lacking in depth

This photo was taken the night before leaving on yet another Condor lite solo outing. In this photo you can clearlyish see the clever wire bracing added to my trusty clamp on (Quick Release no less) rack; a rack which has been through several trips and which I felt had been proven. Set aside concerns, for now, about how the pins holding the QR jaws in place had sheared off. Those concerns must surely be laid to rest in light of the fact that while re-wiring said rack I had noticed the shearing and, after a hearty self-congratulatory pat on my back, purchased new and shiny brass bolts of the appropriate length and the (let us say) necessary thickness so as to fit.

That is foreshadowing.

See, every year on/near my birfday I must do a long ride. A ride of 100 miles or more, or it's equivalent in fun. This year, L suggested I squeeze in an overnight Indians Road jaunt over to Prewitt/Nascimiento-Ferguson; from which trip she'd pick me up at HWY1. I had to work Wednesday, so I brought the loaded bike to work, and rode out Carmel Valley at quitting time.

This photo, of me holding pieces of wire like a mouse moustache, was taken in the far reaches of CV Road. I had removed the cross brace (specially formulated during the initial trial run) the last time it was used on D's bike because it interfered with his rear tire. Small bike, different placement, etc. So yes, the sides of the rack were flexing inward under the weight, and the wire had broken in one spot. Flexing weight= sleeping bag, camping pillow (I know, believe me), and warm clothes on the one hand and cook set, food, 1L water bottle on the other. The sleeping pad and tarp were tucked below the rack (but above the tyre) and the tent was on the rack top.

No problem, I used my camp knife (thanks J! Indians Road is my camp knife's spiritual home) to quickly whittle up a replacement brace and wired it in place with the broken bits of wire. This all takes time/daylight, but problem solved. Ride on.

A short while later, the flexing returned with a deliberation that would not be ignored. I stopped to curse and see what was the matter. It was at that point I realized the shiny brass bolts had sheared off cleanly at the top pivot of the QR jaws on both sides.
My rack was broken.
I cursed more heartily. Then I cut the excess cord off the length I use to lash things to the top of the panniers, and trussed the rack to the bag loops on my trustworthy Brooks. If I pedalled on the nose of the saddle the flex inherent in my design was mediated enough that I knew I could at least make it to Arroyo Seco and camp, which would beat having to limp home a quitter.

As I rode along, though, my spirits lifted and what a day!

To quote the late night waiter from the Denny's in Durango: "When you're as good looking and talented as I am, it's hard to have a Bad Day." Just so, especially if you are railing down swoopily drawn out back roads with little to no traffic.

Turkeys! I saw several large groups. A suitable totem for this trip...

I ended up feeling so swell that I decided to push into Indians some and camp in the back country. Why not? Things were going well enough, and the camping is always better further out.

I had decided before leaving home that I was going "Light" (OK, as Light as can be for someone who brings a pillow. Yeah, yeah.) so I did not bring a Camelback. Bummer for me. I stopped at this creek crossing to fill the 1L bottle. I was using tablets to purify, and they specify a 4hour wait and further stipulate the bottle be kept out of sunlight. Fair enough (trade-offs and all) since it was evening and I had another bottle still full with the prospect of refilling in the AM, and the spring (which requires no filter) after that.

I stopped at the signs a couple miles past "The Gorge" (for whatever reason, that name galls me. Maybe because it is not a Gorge, it is a small, short canyonlet), and found an acceptable site a little ways down the trail on a burned out shelf. The picture shows the campfire at it's zenith. I keep a much smaller fire; it is high because it is just catching and there is a bundle of grass kindling going up. I am out of Esbit fuel tabs, so I skipped the stove altogether to just cook on a corner of the fire-pit. There is something deeply satisfying about that.

Fireside whiskey.There is something deeply satisfying about that.

I woke up often, as one is apt when alone in the woods, but overall it was peaceful. There were no screams in the night.

Coffee and campfire. Nice start to the day.

You can see the cord truss here.

Ideas will occur to you as you sit by a fire sipping corn liquor. My advice is to act on them. It came to me there that I could simply ditch the now superfluous camping gear and the cursed rack and ride the remainder of the route unencumbered.

So that is what I did. With my woodrat gnawing experience freshly in mind, the bags are suspended 4ft off the ground by cord.

I still needed water, so I took the trail down to the river and found
a spot worthy of future trips. The kids would love this place. Only a couple miles from their favorite swimming hole, with a flat sandy beach and shade trees and the potential for a rope swing. Most of all, at the base of the heinous climb up to the spring. Kid base camp, for sure. Next week they have "October Break" for the week (!) and I am going to bring them out there. I'm even considering bringing the dutch oven and baking bread in the coals. OLD school- cooking on the fire.Yes.

I had to fill the bottles and cover them for my 4hour water fast. The water rationing took it's bites; no question. From now on, regardless of how I feel about wearing a pack (I don't lik it), I will bring EXTRA water.

A 14mile trail on the other side out to Coast Ridge Road. Worth some exploring.

Of course I went swimming!

Back at camp with the new spartan kit. Every time I stopped, the configuration matured until it was perfect. I especially love that.

Climb+ heat= sure wish I could drink some water. I had a cup left to get me to the spring.

Blessed Assurance. Give Thanks for water. Trips like these give the gift of real perspective.

I wised up and propped the bottle in place. Best not to look too closely at the algae/mineral stalactites down which the water is coursing. Holy Water indeed. The spring water would get me through to Indians. The flow was so slow, I could not justify waiting for more than the one swallow and a full bottle.

Then it was riding. I eventually stopped again at another water crossing and refilled the spring water bottle. Same deal 4hour covered wait. I need a steri-pen purifier, and I need it now!

People have posted on the web about how to polish the rivets on a Brooks. I swear I am not making that up. I wish I was.

Hey Assholes, This is how you polish your damned rivets:

If that does not make sense to you, get the hell out of my church.

Look at the size of that Valley Oak!

And on into Fort Hunter Ligget, where the riding is long and hot and long and hot and there is so much more of it than you remember. I had no issues, aside from the water fast and the increasingly creaky ticking issuing from my slowly dying octalink/M952 crank interface. Think small bright shards and grit. Then I popped out the back gate in time to crawl up the backside of the coastal range in time to see the sun just behind the fog layer. No light on the descent for me.

Particularly since I had to stop and eat and change into warm clothes. I had felt the temperature change when I settled in to the climb beneath the Sycamores, Bays and Tan Oaks. By the top I was cold, even with the climb.

After some time speeding downhill into an indistinct greyness, with only the chalky dust at the edges of the road to guide you ( and that only visible if you look at the sky to monitor the road by watching the tree tops on either side and allowing your peripheral vision to work the road surface) you lose your self. You become just a floating field of vision, and you feel the front end as grabby and weighted funny when you feel anything at all.

That's how it was until I pulled up at the truck where my family was waiting with sandwiches and beer. Thank you, Family, for the ride!


Jonny Hamachi said...

There is something deeply satisfying about that.


A23 said...

You are fully, and completely, Living the Dream.

I am learning from you.

Fxdwhl said...

that was a good one. happy b-day to you. and here's to hoping your gear is still intact.

reverend dick said...

I am just so stoked from this one. I did that in 1 night 2 days! It's all so do-able.

As for the gear, it's well out of sight. Someone's dog might find it and lead them to it (hence the note) but my real concern is that the damned mice/squirrels do not chew it up. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

This made my day. What a killer ride. Bonus points for relying on karma to get your panniers back. When I rolled up to where I was going today a woman said, "Don't leave anything on your bike. Someone just stole my lights."

Jealous. And happy birthday.

Tom said...

That could not be more perfect. Here's to many more. Happy Birthday!

Bruce said...

Hello Reverend D. I visit your blog from time to time. I see that you live up in Carmel.
I will be in Monterey in a few weeks for biz. I few years ago I rented a road bike and set out from Monterey and rode up to the Mission in Carmel via 17 mile drive. I’m going back again but this time I want to ride up to Big Sur. That last trip I got lost a few times in the morning fog there around Pebble Beach—could you advise me how to get up on Hwy 1 so I can get to Big Sur? Without getting run over? Bike shop map was kinda lame. Do people ride up there without much hassle? I am also hoping that maybe you and your mates can recommend a place where I can stop for breakfast or lunch on the way to, or in the vicinity of Big Sur. Cheers! Bruce email is