Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

20 December 2012

just the tools that I use to get me in a good mood

 Get a rental bike and a rental tent-cabin to get yourself a real fine time.


 A little to the North and a lot into the dank redwoods there are trails to be ridden. Loamy, leaf-strewn, by turns slippery as hell and tacky as heaven, buffed ribbons of twisting, narrow singletrack are tucked up under the redwoods, through the madrones (who knew they get as big around as that?!?), bordering the tan oaks and 'neath the bay laurels. Kitty litter and spattery mud share the same surroundings. Separated by elevation, direction, and hard pedaling are some of the finer things in life- the myriad trails of ___ _____.








 Dank and dark tent-cabins make for some fine lies. 9 times out of 10, I'll opt to sleep out. That 1 time is justifiable if the temps are getting into the freezing range, it's raining on and off, and I'm soft-hearted.


I was real happy to be wearing some neoprene extremity covers. Notes to self: blinky light, overshorts, clip-on fenders (duh!), water bottles.

Full squish is a fine time when kamping (meaning there ain't no loads on me). I rallyed as best I am able. It was Fun. I'm into fun. Whatever's funnest.



This is an area I really (REALLY) enjoy riding. The times I've been through there before have been loong cross bike EPICS (uh huh), that have me too head-down following wheels to have any but the slightest idea where I was. The 2 back to back days of uppy downy dropped some key pieces into place for my personal mental map of the place. I feel pretty good about our options for daring do come warmer weather.I feel pretty good about some looong cross bike epics.



Yo ho! Riding so Xtreme it rips the clothes right down to the skin. So pretty.

16 December 2012

we be like some Mr. Independence, takin' our own sweet time





Now that I've quit everthang disgusting, and am subsequently on a higher plane of existence than you, I return to offer Perfect Solutions to everyday problems that lesser folk have. No, no- think nothing of it.Oh, and for all of our sakes, don't start a religion over it and insist that this way is the only way and everyone has to follow it or else. Because that would just wreck the wisdom.


Step 1: strap your crosscut saw to your bicycle.


Step 2: head on over to the corner store and pick up a couple tall boys to take over to the bike tunnel and sip whilst you enjoy the graffitti and bullshit and party and bullshit and party and bullshit.

Step C: take your show on the trail, up to that one (surprisingly lengthy) downed tree- the one that fell with it's length along the singletrack.

Step 4: be smart and (who's kidding who? we know you consider it) do not get into the whiskey prior to handling and operating a 2 person saw.


                (hatchet with homemade guard, tall can, just-picked porcinis)


Step 5: saw that shit! This step has several sub-steps to it, which consist in part of: clearing the surrounding brush/debris, removing the bark so as to save your saw's teeth, placing bark skids below the log to spare your saw's teeth, beginning the cut, cutting, taking a break to drink a beer, inserting a wedge (to keep the cut ends from closing up on the saw), and finishing the cut.

Step 6: manhandle the loglets off the trail.

Step 7: show up where they keep the whiskey- beneath some bark slabs leaning against that one mighty oak.

Step 8: ride some trails.

Step 9: repeat as needed.

There you go.

11 December 2012

I don't care what's new

A guy comes into the shop and says, "My bottom bracket is creaking. I'd like it fixed." Mechanic replies, "We can do that. I'll just pull it, clean it, grease it, and reinstall it." Customer says, "That won't fix it. This is the 3rd or 4th time it's had this problem."  "Well, carbon fiber is like a resonance chamber. Any small noises will be amplified." Punchline: there is no fix. That creeping creak will return and return and return.

Folks get excited by Kawasaki Green color schemes, or lightness of weight, or going to 11, etc. That's their 1st mistake. There will be others. Perhaps among them will be mistaking the equipment for the experience. That's their worst mistake.

I don't care what you ride, I care that you ride.

10 December 2012

cheaply sensationalist

You tell me tonight.


Rolling.Trundling. The fat bike has it's ups and downs, it's strong and weak points, its pros and its cons. I like the traction, but not the draggy, sloppy road feel (I may have mentioned before how the rear tire deforms with the camber of the shoulder, even). I do not love the super-low-PSI-induced brake dive, but enjoy the float. It is pretty much intolerable for any road distance, but it shines real bright on craggy, chunky steeps and some off-piste exploration is not only an option but a fine one.

Sorry, bros and dudes- the beach is a plain drag however you slice it. You can love it if you want.

I am not impressed with the Surly Ultra New Front Hub. It keeps loosening. I use the 15 and the 17, and drive myself crazy looking for a tight front end. Is it just me? Am I crazy? Is this as good as it gets? It consistently feels like the front end twists and dives.  I am a princess and my pea is the perfect balance of tyre pressure front and rear. The lardy 1 (one) pound tubes lose air at an alarming rate. Any time the valve is opened it's a crap shoot. And yet, I have a 4.7" Big Fat Larry on order as I type this. As of now, I love the NeckRomancer as a rough stuff camper, but not as a grab and go bicycle.


I did ride it in the woods today. Some rallying and some stopping to hunt for porcinis. I only found one (1)?! and it was a day past its prime. I know, because I been watching certain amanitas and I flatter myself that I have gotten a handle on gauging their age by their deterioration- paying daily attention to color loss and overall apparent robustitude. This is the 4th time this season I have set out to take time and really look, and it is not panning out. I am made aware of just how important timing is. 2 days past prime and they can be spindly saucers of gelatin in the wetter areas. Last year was my personal opening season on mushrooms, and a bonanza. This year I tell myself it's early days yet. I sure have the itch.

I hunted up a couple cans of Coors and a nip of corn liquor which is hid up there behind that one magnificent oak. I been taking a break from boozing, and that's been nice but it's also nice to sit in the woods and drink a beer and a shot while staring at nothing. I thought about different bike builds and their requisite parts and logs and mushrooms and finding more trails accesses and camping trips. Doom sure is showing. I try and stay upbeat about my local (after all, it's that or be sour cuz you are where you are), but he makes it hard to feel anything other than small potatoes...

Ride your bike(s) if you can, cuz the woerld is ending soon?


Merry Chtulhumas. Holiday songs and ancient terrors.

some are born to sweet delight

These last few storms really kicked out all the stops. There are logs down across multiple trails that call out for clearing. And, just between you and me- the boletes are popping! It's a lot of distractions when you are riding a bike on trails around here right now.

05 December 2012

this is me being patient

People come in to the bike shop and they ask questions. I encourage this practice. We've all been to the shop that's too nice to talk to and, frankly, it sucks. Lots of PRO egos running around in amateur bodies. I try to be welcoming without seeming (or being) insincere. It really gets under my skin when people ask me questions and then interrupt before I can get through my answer. It's not that they see the end of the sentence coming, either- it's that they don't give a shit what I'm saying. Which is fine, but then why ask the question at all in that case?

This happened several times today, multiply and with different customers.





Also, if you are a team rider sponsored by a shop, you should come in respectfully and politely. !!You are NOT a retail customer!! You should be aware of this, and behave accordingly. Any interactions with you will be immediately dropped if a paying customer comes in. Your needs are secondary at best. You do not merit special attention, much less special treatment and I don't care even a little bit that you were "riding with Levi" the other day. Taking a bike off the sales floor for a 45minute "demo" is well past unacceptable, it is flabbergastingly beyond the pale.

Your part in the arrangement is representing the shop as a positive ambassador, hopefully contributing to the shop culture and ideally bringing more business. Your part is not to suck the staff's time and labor along with grubbing for every deal you can get while throwing around a PRO vibe that makes you look like a cunt and the shop like it supports cunts.

Furthermo- oh. Yes, please continue with what you were saying.

04 December 2012

can you face these haunting tales of fear and ignorance?

 'member how the Happy Trails got that brief and glorious reprieve? Well, it was brief anyhow.  Watkins Gate Rd and Parker Flats Cut-off have been opened up. The scrub is removed. The larger oaks remain but have been heavily pruned. Now there are Weston trucks and munitions removal treads hauling whatever sort of ground piercing radar they use. There seems to be a continuing daytime presence. No riding for you. No riding for me.

Rainy season has begun. The wetlands are filling up. It is time to think about skipping the level (and now water bearing) trails at the bases of ridges in favor of the more contouring side-hill singletracks. Although, 82 is a rutted mess and it has plenty of standing water. 49 and 50 are as good as they ever get.

You remember how it is when you come railing around one of those sandy corners and your rear wheel just slots into place on the perfect line...


P.S. I cleaned up your empties and I found your Park multi-tool at the shrine, when I stocked the was-missing-now-present spoke wrench. Now, if you crash while drunkenly hustling along and someone runs into your brass fenders you can true your wheel with impunity.

03 December 2012

hey mister,


 Get ready for some low quality cell phone pictures (which could be the alternate title of this weblog):











I gotta go, but my friend can stick around.

02 December 2012

retains 100%of it's strength


My shoulder still holds up to repeated high-speed crashing into wet manzanita in the middle of the night. I checked.

29 November 2012

go to hell (and return unharmed)

Whew. That was a rockin' Good Time. The dappled 2 track made it glorious. I attempted singletrack along the ridge, but the wind from yesterday's downpour had dropped lots of branches. 1st real storm of the Winter, it put to rest my complaints that most of the saw work was done. There's plenty more now.

Fort Ord glows in the moonlight. I just put a wheel in to touch base at the Shrine and then turned it around and rode for home. Solo night riding can be scary for real- like what if I roll the wheel sideways on one of the many pine cones and crash and get knocked out?- and it can be scary in your head- like when are the werewolves going to come out of the dark shadows, cuz I know they're there. I just go ahead and ride even though it's scary and it ends up being fun. That's real profound.

Anyhow- you suckers missed it. I realize that schoolwork, and familial duties, and employment and really interesting TV shows take precedence though.


28 November 2012

we shut em up and then we shut em down

...some guys they just give up living
and start dying little by little, piece by piece.
Some guys come home from work and wash up
and go racing in the streets.


Obviously, the car-centric focus is misguided but you get the idea. I've been given a break in this rain and I'm going riding. Even though none ya from lame Monterey can be bothered.

I can be bothered.

27 November 2012

if I could go back in time


If you are entertaining the idea of riding bikes with someone for a period of days there are things to consider. If you know this person, it can be automatic. If you don't, it bears some thinking. Are they fun? Humorous? Capable? Resourceful? Does their fitness level dictate slowing down or speeding up? Are they accommodating? Respectful? Is their temper an issue? Do (not joking) they smell? Are your trail tastes sympatico? Do they wake up at 4AM and start banging cookware? Do they allow rest days? Do they only dine in high class eateries? Will they stop for thrift stores, hot springs, and shooting BB guns? Is Crosby Stills and Nash to be suffered? (because just NO) Etc.


26 November 2012

gettin by on gettin by's my stock-in-trade

Don't matter how you do it. Just do it like you know it.



Reminder of what was and will be. You're all getting spray paint and a piece of cardboard this Xmas. If you're good and lucky.

Riding old familiar trails is a joy. There's reasons why they are old and familiar. Riding old familiar trails with some (most all) of the ways unbarred is a treat. Riding old familiar trails under the clear waxing moon is a sweet delight. Riding in these circumstances with Heckle and Jeckle is hit and miss. Surprise! Baby blue covered Heckle has some good ideas, and we end up riding back and forth a few times on trails which are old and familiar trails to me, but are involved and unfamiliar enough to those 2 forest creatures to be old familiar trials- unexpected turn here and lookout for roots there. I realize I have gotten stuck in the rut of thinking of them as being a means to an other end. They are perfect and whole in themselves, these trails.

Silvery moonlight, that silvery moonlight.



Looking forward to Wednesday night and it's attendant Fully Wide open Beaver Moon late evening short distance bicyle tour...if  this weather permits. I know I say it too often, but. There's only so many chances at that magic and wise folks get while the gettin is good.





Been riding the Surly Ogre more than anything else lately. It is a handling improvement over the Salsa Fargo. It feels much more willing to change direction. It is also a flexy tank. When I heft the front end over gaps and then follow with the rear, I can feel the bike shudder and take a minute to consider before snapping to. Contrasting this with the superleggera Black Cat SS that I rode today...whoa. Talk about snappy! I lik the Surly for what it is, and the price is right, but. To be fair, contrasting mass produced with custom is not fair.

I lik bikes!

24 November 2012

disambiguation

We keep the polemics to a minimum over here at HQ, but but but. Sign this petition and please to spread the word via your own means...I envision a big shepherd's crook snaking out from the wings. Thanks to adventure! over at the Urban Adventure League for the heads up.

And speaking of polemics, after all the trail clearing and the new new, some jackass took it upon himself to drag the same limbs (and lots more besides) back into the trails in that one section after the maritime chaparral twistys. I found this out as I was test riding. Came upon a couple clearly man-made dead-falls the size of your bicep and my wrist and hucked them into the bushes. Then, and just as I had full steam, I came up and around that one corner and BAM! full stop. In order to avoid the your thigh and my calf-sized branch.

No joke.

That kind of shit hurts people. I'm not having that. Though I feel no need, I will state that I have a mandate from the people to clear dead limbs from trails (which have no designation whatsoever, so there's not even a questionably legal leg to stand on there) which are impeding flow. There's no live trees touched, there's no new construction. Putting branches in spots calculated to trip people up and cause harm is crossing a line beyond which lies my fist. If I come across this behavior, you are losing teeth. Thanks!

Anyhow, enjoy yourselves out there on trails and streets with the best intentions towards your fellows. Locals, there will be the riding tonight...

20 November 2012

perform every heinous vice

I scared myself but good on the bike today. Riding around in circles, waiting for some hesitater in a bulky SUV to pull into traffic already, I became impatient and imprudent at exactly the same moment. This led me to pop right out after her when she finally did go and I badly underestimated the speed of the truck bearing down on me. Whew! That was terrifying. Lesson relearned: Don't be a Dick.

I also took out the log I'd initially set out after yesterday. 2 cuts. It was big enough to be mildly exhausting. Now it is gone. Good stuff.

After that, there was nothing for it but to test ride the log-free trails.

19 November 2012

the infinite use of finite means


 You know why. I know why. Because lashing a 3'6" x 5lb4oz crosscut saw to a pedal bike seems like a fine idea.



 And it is.



 It's not an idea you can just roll around promoting anywhere so after you wise up, best to tighten up with a clever disguise. I got to rig a bag for that tool. Keep it stealthy. Looking at that bundle, you'd never know it was there. Just another of the unwashed, DUI lowlifes using bikes instead of cars.

 Most of the time and effort that went into clearing trails today was spent prepping to cut; stripping the limbs of bark, removing hindrances to movement or vision, planning the cut in accord with potential to bind and/or jump. I like to cut as few times as possible, but Smart and Safe are more valuable to me than Fast and Loose. In this instance if in no other. So I  hang out in the woods and think about how to best cut wood. Somebody's got to.


 Surly junk straps are good for restraining loose ends. I cut the 1st limb and then moved to the 2nd...



 and took a lousy picture. Sorry. I will take some better pics- this saw is worth examining. I got it recently (thanks for the B-day present, mom!) and this is the 1st opportunity I've had to use it. All that talky talk is now action. All them logs that have plagued us are on notice...



I'd planned to take out that one log, but it was too out of bounds today given the unknowns. So I headed further over and cleaned up that big tangle, then looped back around to sweep the downhill.



Low lying infuriator?



Done and gone. And the waist high flow stopper? Removed and a beer drunk on it's spot. It's ours now. Again.



I am filled with Power. Glowing, looming, impending. Nothing but smooth trails where trails should be smooth. Nothing but judicious restraint and reckless abandon. It's all downhill from here.

18 November 2012

free pics sexy hot women in 30 to 40yer old

Hello new friends! Welcome. I hope you found what that for which you were looking.

I'd like to show you the light. Careful you don't hurt your eyes. People ask: What is the right way to live? For one, consider the Samurai in the rain quote: “There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.”(Yamamoto Tsunetomo, The Hagakure: A code to the way of the samurai)

So, if there's rain in the offing...what? You got a rain bike. My rain bike is a beat-down Schwinn Le Tourist fixed gear (that's right, you heard right- am I gonna let "hipsters" make my fixed gear passe? No. Fixed gear bicycles were fun before, and they are fun now, and they will continue to be fun in the future.) with brass fenders(!) and it is the perfect bike for just not giving a shit and riding from Alfredo's out to Fort Ord, taking in some gritty sandy singletrack, and looping back to the mean streets of Carmel. I was wrapped up in my self-tent and feeling froggy. To those who played: well played. To those who did not: duh, you blew it.

And, if riding around at night on questionably accessed trails is your thing, then you might find yourself throwing your bike over a series of gates as you get out and get in it. And you might say to yourself, "This is it."

14 November 2012

the kind of mistake a man can make only once

In response to a phone call from an unnamed "friend", I found myself waking up at 3:15AM and heading North. In a car. And not for a bike ride.

A helicopter ride to the Farallon Islands sounded like a fair use of a day off. I had never been in a helicopter before, nor had I heard of the Farallon Islands (much less been there). Those of y'all who love birds and live in the Bay Area should prolly get on that. The whole place is literally covered in birds' bones. I imagine at the right time of year it is a birder's paradise. At this time of year it is lots of seals and not so many birds.  The biologists who man the place are some nice guys who are wealths of information. They were counting attacks by Great White Sharks on seals. I heard the term "blood pool" used twice in passing. It stuck with me. The conversations were going great until the subject of Orcas came up.Y'all are familiar with my anthropomorphization of Killer Whales- I think they are assholes. Really, they are the worst kind of bullying meatheads. They need to grow up and stop abusing their position at the top of the food chain. Did you know that Orcas predate Great White Sharks? Apparently they love the liver. Anyhow, when the biologist started waxing about Killer Whales' superior predator status, I dropped the turd into the punchbowl by voicing my opinion (not the 1st time that's happened, I can tell you). I even included the self-effacing sidenote about realizing it was bullshit and assigning made-up values to nature...but not even a smile. He just looked at me. Quite speechless. It was exquisite.

My buddy asked me if the day was worth the trade (I assisted, briefly, superficially, whingeingly,  with some septic system maintenance) and I honestly answered "No." Well, we did see (from afar) a Great White attack on a hapless, by-standing seal (yeah yeah- everbody's gotta eat) but I could not discern the blood pool.

If you have seen a helicopter ride on TV, you have as good as ridden in one. Anything more exciting would be terrifying to boot, and I pass.


I did have a spirited discussion with said compadre while we sat in heavy 5PM traffic regarding how bad BB King sucks. Surprisingly, it was not a difference in degree, but of kind. My boy feels that BB King is good while I feel that BB King represents the very worst kind of soulless pandering to boozy white folks sitting in an overly hot and dirty field getting sunburned and drinking Coors Lite. I said he was just like Robert Cray- tired, played out, no soul. I said I like my blues with razors and whiskey:




08 November 2012

temet nosce

I received the following in an email from a valued colleague (and, for the record, my Spirit Animal is The Next Big Thing):

"Howdy, 

had a dream which featured yourself in the guise of world class cyclist and alpine climber who went by the moniker Redondo Adriano. (I made sure to write it down as soon as I woke up) 

you had a fondness for simple, but well-made sport coats, and at one point in the wandering narrative, were recovering a pair of what I can only 
describe as a pair of plaid slip-on dress/casual shoes from a mannequin in museum display. (dedicated to one of your many outrageous exploits.) 

not sure what your spirit animal is, but..."

07 November 2012

tactical rehabilitation

Are you taking for granted X, Y and even Z? Does your morning coffee without that hint of woodsmoke fail to satisfy? Are your clean, crisp sheets not a luxury to be savored and regarded?

You have grown soft and your outlook is dim. You need some suffering in your life. Get on that.

2 days off. 65 miles of pavement down the Big Sur Coastline. Hot. Calm. Pleasant mindless spin- so much so that the only thing that stays in my mind is the shirtless weirdo who'd parked his stickered up 80s vintage VW van at one pullout and was cruising the pullouts in his way-too-short cutoffs aboard his 29"wheeled Rockhopper toting his Yorkshire Terrier in a home-made dishrack/basket. I played leap frog with the tourists in rental RVs- Fun Finder X?

Lucia at sunset and climbing Nacimiento Ferguson in the dark. I dropped the backside in the dark, too- passed the 1st campground and stopped at the 2nd. I misremembered there having been a spigot there. The fee was $15. The camp host was still there (this late in the season? at that out of the way spot?) so I put $10 in the envelope because it was $5 over or $5 under, and I opened with under. I figured I could bluff if it came to it. Settling in for the night was quick, and I will tell y'all this: the instant garlic mashed potatoes from Trader Joe's are conveniently packaged in 2 2person servings and are super easy/great camping food! I was tired enough (that Nacimiento Ferguson is a hard climb!) that I really appreciated the ease.


That picture there is from breakfast, when I was done cooking and just wanted a cheery twig fire. The Kelly Kettle boils some water like no other. It requires far less time spent gathering/snapping/sorting twigs than I am used to, and uses way less fuel to bring a given amount of water (say, a large water bottle's worth) to a rolling boiling in about 5minutes. It is worth looking into if you like that sort of thing. It is very bulky (it took up the entire front rack) in comparison to the Esbit, more in line with your gas powered JetBoil. Everything is a trade-off. It is of little use to actually cook on, because the water inside boils and spits out the spout (some of it dribbling into your fire pan base) and you either have to keep refilling the reservoir as you cannot use it dry, or figure out what you want to do with your boiled water and then refill, etc. So- cooking not so much. Boiling? Hell yes.

I liked it quite a bit for making coffee happen so fast.  But, I will likely not be taking it on solo outings in the future. For that application, the trade-off is not worth it. Now I know.


Anyhow, after breakfast I had to leave as quickly as possible. I didn't want that camp host coming over for his $5. All the long and hot way through Fort Hunter Ligget I distracted myself with scenarios involving disgruntled camp hosts seeking retribution. And it was a long long and hot way. Every ride through there it seems like they add a section. By the time I had taken a wrong turn and ridden several long and hot miles out of and then back into my way, my shirt was stiff and salty.




 That's my crowded handlebars. No pack, so the water bladder was in the frame bag and it's hose you see. The white cable is the USB cord to recharge the iPhone via the Plug (worked like a charm). I listened to Ry Cooder's I, Flathead on repeat.



I have, now, in my possession, a plastic spoon which is the spiritual equivalent of a Golden Eagle feather. That's what you get, on your vision quest, when you hassle a wild Golden Eagle. Right? When you actually make the effort to get offa your bike and walk over to underneath where said magnificent bird perched. Right? If a feather from your (ahem) totem is unavailable, then you must avail yourself of the spiritual equivalent in situ. Probably, there is more personal magic in that sun hardened plastic spoon on account of giving a hoot and stopping pollution and all. Anyways, I have my mojo working.



 By the time I stopped for lunch, at Escondido Campground, I had made several bad choices regarding water. I had a hard time focusing. It took a while to sort out the order of doing things to make food. The new cook system wasn't helping. Coffee and space packaged Indian food.

 I had enough water to last to the spring past Hanging Valley, so I just decided to keep pushing. Once there, I laid in the shady spot in the dirt for 20 minutes while sweet, cold water trickled into my bottle. Dripped down from the very finest ferns and muck, that water is the best in the whole world. It is sweet and cold. The best.

That right there is the Good Place. Seems like ever time I'm there, though, I'm too worked to appreciate it fully. The Ventana Wilderness is magic.

Then it was all downhill for a while. Then pavement and dark to home. Somewheres in the neighborhood of 140 hot, hard miles in 2 days. I am relishing the comforts of home today.

04 November 2012

hey! jambo jambo

Plenty o riding happening, not much o posting. If you were there then you know how it went. Every time, but some more than others I guess. One time it was a Noble Idea to restock the shrine, a common idea to restock it with a plastic 1/2 gallon of Early Times, and wholly ignoble to choke down the last inches of the Kessler from April past's Sleaze Otter. Had to be done, though; how are you gonna maintain Spirituality if you waste spirits? Sorry I crashed into a manzanita bush and my left side hurts. Sorry I tricked you into riding an extra time up that ridge . It was funny when you realized where you were and your shoulders sagged. Actually sorry we went so hard at it on Friday that everybody crapped out on Saturday. Where is the stamina?




Sorry I put Lionel Ritchie's dangerously catchy pop in front of you. Had to be done, though.

31 October 2012

how to read anybody's mind




Words and pictures regarding one of the finer Full Moon Performances witnessed here along the Central Coast. My features contorted into a ridiculously appropriate grimace/smile which the bracingly chill wind cemented into place. For really real, at one point I became aware that I was drooling through the open grin as I pedaled smooth, even circles down an abandoned HWY1 with the Full Ass Moon high above and the Pacific Ocean of fog immediately below. If I'm not careful, my face may get stuck this way.


Man, did you Suckers blow it. 


We were only 2, leaving COTSRHQ sharply at 7:45. Hammers and tongs to the Rocky Creek Bridge. Pushing. I was nervous we'd miss the closure at 9PM. It was needless anxiety. At 8:30someodd we rolled up to the one lane stoplight and waited our turn. By 8:30alittlemore we were off the bikes with cold Hamms in hand at one of the nastier pullouts/pit toilets at which I've ever had the pleasure to stand around at drink beers on a night time bike ride. We lurked as far from the toilet paper shrine as we could and watched the last minute scrambling to make it past the closure. There were some folks hanging it out there. We listened to the fox up the slope scream at the moon along regular intervals as it climbed.


Once the flashing lighted truck swept, we began to roll with no lights and no cars. I cannot say enough about how nice that is. Moonlit Big Sur all to oneself on a street bike ride. Yeah.




I was overdressed in my rain gear and booties and neoprene gloves and all. It could have been heavy fog the whole way, so I rolled out prepared. Drizzly cold to begin...

 Safe, like Tron chillaxing in this virtual world with a warm road-side Hamms.


 I ended up wearing my rain pants tied around my middle just above my over-loaded pockets. The plasticky bike doesn't support a frame pump well, and I will NOT use CO2 (laaaaaaaaaame and wasteful and what happens when your little waste canisters are all used up and you get another flat?), so it was minipump in the pockets along with all the rest. Loaded. And since I had borrowed L's bolt-on! generator hubbed front wheel, for the full electrick treatment, I had to carry a 15mm box wrench too. I enjoyed both the lighting and the cobbled together fancy electrick jalopyfication.



The Shimano light has a lot of exposed bulbage on top, so I booted it with an old 26" tube. Makes for pleasanter riding not having that shine in your eyes. Plus, it really ties the race bike together.


Esalen was delightful. Back and forth between the very cold and the very hot 50' above the edge of the continent until you are wrung out and content. Tired smiles, 40miles.


Sleep in the dirt by the side of the road? Sounds fine to me.

The long and the short equals this is a must do repeat. The road closure is in effect Sun-Thur until February (Rocky Creek Viaduct Project) , so let's make it happen at least a couple more times, whether the moon is full or not. With the no cars? Tell me something better.



29 October 2012

Solidarity inna Babylon


It is time we check ourselves. Fresh off the road, 1st driving the race van the 40miles down Big Sur to Esalen, and 2nd hitching back with nice people.

I had some time to think (think hard) about hitching technique. Can't be sitting there all slumped and dejected, else folks will assume you are a lazybones.Why should they stop for a serial killer who won't even put in the effort? Stand up straight, put your shoulders back, and extend your arm a ways out. It shows Respect. I like a thumb tilted a little in the direction you are heading. I feel it is inviting. It's cool, we're all friends here.

So. Now we we await the coming Darkness. Roll out is at 7:30PM from COTSRHQ. Sharpish. We gots to get past Rocky Creek before they close the road for the nighttime construction going on there now. The bad news? That fog may or may not be patchy and/or settle. The good news? There's variously stashed Hamms at the 15, 25, and 40mile markers and due to the road closure we will have the whole highway to our ownselves! So, there simply cannot be any losing. It's a gauranteed Good Time.

There are still 3 spots open if any a you people want to do something with your life.

28 October 2012

see if you Qualify

 J and meself rolled around the Ord. Fall is playing peekaboo over here, and today it was both eyes open/Indian Summer and eyes covered/Early Fall by turns. The shoulderest of seasons.


We stopped to refuel the Shrine. J felt it was lacking some Tootsie Pops and some Everlasting GobStoppers. I felt it was lacking some Hamms.




We stopped at the New Stairs and hung around.



J said there were "sure lots of those 'for your safety' signs". There are. I enjoy the wording. Nothing like good old Fear for some controlling the public. I myself am fearful of handicapped people wearing feathers.

This is one of the sleds I mentioned. I misspoke. They are built of 4x4s and 2x6s. That's lots of spendy lumber to close off dirt roads and trails we've all been riding without mishap for 12 years. Where has my Safety been all that time?








27 October 2012

fine then


We won't go bikecamping this week (even though it's a full ass moon), we will go bikecamping next week instead. BUT....there will be the much ballyhooed ride down the coast to hit up the hot tubs at Esalen. You know how there's the public access from 1AM to 3AM. Super convenient and all, sure. Worth doing, certainly. Who's in? Monday night, all night.

23 October 2012

you could do wrong




You could do right. In passing the heavily signed and guarded Happy Trails yesterday I noticed crews with chainsaws mowing wides swaths. I'm thinking the horsey folks are chomping at the bits to turn that area into  some sweet sweet strip malls and hotels to service their shitty racetrack. Those trailblocking sign-sleds (built of 4x4 timber?!) are the tip of the iceberg. Goodbye, Fort Ord, you were nice.

This sight behind me, and having ridden from Carmel, I proceeded to proceed across the Ord. At the Caprock (a bar I no longer frequent since it has filled up with plastic benches and lowlifes) I was inspired. I dropped 50, climbed 49, dropped from the altar, climbed Shithouse, dropped GoAt, and snuck out the back. Resupply at the 7-11 (coffee, banana, snickers) and cross 68 for a lap in Toro.





Dropping the oh so mediocre Pipeline MTBers ONLY, I surprised a MTBer who said that my Surly Ogre "actually looks fun." We had a few words about bikes, but given the givens I'm reluctant to stand around and jaw about equipment. You ride what you ride and I'll ride what I ride and as long as we actually ride and not just talk about it, we'll likely have fun. Nuff said.

That said, surprise! I built the Ogre. The Fargo is benched. All parts swapped. The Ogre feels much snappier than the Fargo, but they are both tanks. I did install the Plug, so expect more knowledge as it accumulates. We can stand around and talk.


The King is dead.
Long live the King.



After Toro it was up Toro Rd as it parallels Laureles to drop the Grade into CV to home. Maybe 55miles?




Today saw a fast and furious Mt Charlie aboard the plastic and it was good.

I'm feeling fit, aggressive, and happy. Cheers.

17 October 2012

skill overcomes unfavorable conditions


 This is the big one. The one that matters most.





Day 4, 10% chance of rain. Waking up lakeside from a sound sleep to a morning in flux. After the cloudy display the day before (the 20% day), I was keeping a weather eye. The sun came right up, like it will, and there was a promise of a leisurely day filled with swimming and cliff-jumping (well, it is a rock outcrop with about 8' of vertical but it's not too much of a stretch to call it "cliff" for the sake of hype) and napping and snacking and reading and sitting around.

We had settled on J deciding the order of things on account of it was his birthday. Yes, I dragged him out into the woods on a week long camping trip in which fell his birthday. 8 years old on the day. I was willing to abide with whatever he chose, but kept in the back of my mind the idea that we should really get back up and over to Kelly Lake to sleep or risk biting off a big piece of climbing all in one lump on the last day. He wanted to walk back to the cliff and swim. I was hoping the clouds would blow through. Instead, on this 10% day they settled. More and more fog came billowing down the ridge. Tendrils of Winter unfurled over our Indian Summer. We reached the cliff and checked on the cherry offerings we'd left for whatever creature was visiting (no change) and turned around in short order to break camp. J had decided we would head back to Kelly Lake, which was warm and inviting in his memory.

We packed up, filtered water and rode singletrack. At the fire road it began to spit. As we climbed, the drizzle became apparent, intermittent, and finally consistent. I began to worry. In packing for this trip, I had intentionally left out the tent (20%!) and- here's the kicker- told myself that skipping the rain gear was a legitimate idea because (a) 20% and (2) "if we need rain gear we'll already be so fucked that it won't matter anyway". Yes, really. I look back and marvel. The rotten part is that at some point in my future I will make an equally crazy decision based on whatever blend of immediate convenience and deeply rooted ignorance I happen to be sporting at that time. I can't be taught.

Idiot! It pains me to admit this.

So, because of my ineptitude, my boys were standing at the top of one ridge looking across a deep valley at the fire road on the other side as it disappeared into fog. I knew that fog would be just as full of precipitation. Several thoughts occurred to me at once. We had no tent. We had no rain gear. We could shelter in the outhouse (ew. I have done this before. It is as bad as you think.) in the hopes the fog would pass. The fog was not going to pass, and we'd be there overnight at least. We were standing about 7 miles and several steep climbs from our car. D could wear his poncho over his cotton hoody (cotton? idiot!). J had a synthetic fleece hoody so he'd be OK if we kept moving, but not if we had to stop. I had a cotton (idiot) shirt and a down jacket (idiot).

I told the boys we were leaving a day early. I told them that we had to get to the van as quickly as possible.

I did NOT tell them that I envisioned abandoning J's bike and some camping gear in the bushes and riding him out hypothermic on the deck of the Big Dummy. I pictured us finishing in the dark.




Man, did I underestimate my sons.

J had one solitary instance on the climb up out of Kelly Lake on Coit Road (which is a bitch) when he started to whimper with each exhale. I am familiar with how that progresses, and it is not long before it breaks into crying. I shut that down and reminded him to breathe, to take it as easy as he possibly could while still riding as much as possible, to not take it too easy on yourself and to ride whenever you could (not just keep walking because that's what you have been doing) To ride whenever you could. To ride whenever you could. After that he was solid.

D just turned it on, quietly kicking ass with no fuss. I tried to balance pushing them with encouraging them. They understood the urgency without being frightened. Which is because they don't know how badly wrong things can go, but is also morale boosting so I'll take it and stay upbeat until- well, hopefully until we pulled it off successfully.

The mileage dropped away. We took zero extended breaks- we stopped to help each other push up some steep pitches and the boys waited in the lees for me to go back down as needed to bring bikes up. And that was it. Movement. At one cold stop, I told J he was a badass. His eyes got big and he asked "What is that? Is it good?" Yes. Yes, it is. He asked me several more times about "what did you call me?" and "what's that word you said?" just so he could have it repeated. I told him what he wanted to hear, my 8 year old little man, but that in the interest of decorum at school we shall say "B.A" and know what we mean by it.


We climbed and then stayed ridge line into that sideways rain until we hit Wasno Road.  Jackson Road brought us, torturously, to Jackson Field. We shot a giddy birthday video there:

video


Whiteout conditions. After that we dropped Jackson Trail (so sick) and lower down the fog was less and the rain decreased significantly. I was soaked to the skin, so I broke out the down jacket I'd been saving and was happy to do it. It was cold.




video

The boys were such heroes. They were unfailingly positive, and I flattered myself by thinking about Shackleton. We will read Lansing's "Endurance" aloud for our next bedtime story.



By the time we reached the bottom, my down jacket was a soggy sad sack. The previously held title of Greatest Camping Trip Ever had been re-bestowed in honor of this trip. We got to the race van in broad graylight, with all our gear and digits, covered in mud and Glory. It did not take long at all to pile in and drive straight to Margie's Diner for some onion rings and milk shakes. A hero's reward.

15 October 2012

beyond the parties and cheer





Day 3 started with sunrise. We were observing the fire ban (twig burning stove, yo) and without a mesmerizing campfire bedtime comes pretty early. Morning comes early then, too.


 I allow no electronics in the woods. Phone for camera purposes excepted. Children are better off for it.

Sleeping out with no tent is my preference. Some folks are scared, but we ain't them. With regard to creepy crawlies: we saw 2 tarantulas on the asphalt leg from the p-lot, but it was a nearly bugless trip. 1 tick in total. A handful of flies gathering at cuts or scrapes.




 "Vinegar Weed." We stirred up the witch hazelesque aroma of Trichostema lanceolatum as we walked around visiting the outhouse in the AM. I used it as a hand sanitizer. It is really strong smelling.  

Camping with an outhouse nearby is a big plus in the boys' books. D is especially appreciative.




 After strong black coffee (1st!) and oatmeal (with the dehydrated blueberries and/or strawberries and/or bananas accompanied by a small bag of nuts- you know you love them) the only thing for it was to pack up and get over that Northern ridge to reach Coit Lake.


 After lounging and chillaxing at Kelly Lake the day before, the memory of the ridiculously sloped climbs lent this gentle ascent an easy rhythm. That's a delight.





 20% chance of rain was forecast. I watched the clouds move around with no concern. It was a welcome break from the heat. At the split on top we (all of us) checked the map and headed down the Easternmost approach.




 We were looking for that Good Stuff. There is a side-hill singletrack on the South shore of Coit Lake that is worth riding.







 J schooling us about California Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium californicum). It smells so strongly of maple syrup you'd swear someone was hiding in the bushes with pancakes.




We dropped bikes at the good spot and went for a stroll.




 


We were looking for the good jumping rock, which I'd only ever approached by swimming across.




We found it and the wild Hollyleaf Cherry Tree (Prunus ilicifolia) next to it! Those cherries were _ucking delicious. Very little fruit around a giant pit, but free, ripe, available, and sweet. D got tired of me spitting my pits at him.




I leaped in with a stick and cleared all the duckweed that was clogging up the landing and approach. Then we just jumped off rocks and swam and ate cherries and sat in the sun and stuff.



This took up much of the afternoon. Later we were all busy with reading books lakeside and filtering water and napping.


2 thumbs way up. Coit is miles better than Kelly.


After a well received Indian Dinner (cooking out of spacetech pouches has certain benefits; it's super easy and cleans up easy too) we retired to our patch of ground. Later, I awoke to a Gray Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) unzipping J's pack (not 10' from where we lay) and stealing the bag of peanut butter-filled pretzels therein contained. I did not realize there were snacks in that pack. I got up and hung up the boys' packs with the food bag so we wouldn't lose anymore snacks. After that excitement, I slept soundly, warmly, and comfortably.