Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

17 December 2013

there was a man who knew how to hit bottom!

Of interest: where there's smoke there's fire, and the valley is full up from this ride cancelling Big Sur Fire. What a kick in the teeth. Ride? Modified/maybe cancelled.

And as far as lots of smoke and mirrors- here is the Sinyard "apology" if you are into such things. I will comment this far: bullshit. If this were a sincere mistake, then it were required for the big red S to retroactively unfuck the other little people they've legalistically ramrodded. Closest to my heart being Revelate Designs, nee Epic Bags, one dude in Alaska making bags in his garage who (as far as I can tell) started the frame-bag phenomenon. And it is a phenomenon. And if Sinyard actually cared, he'd cease and desist the corporate Grinchyness. Stink, Stank, Stunk.

And, if you have the issues with the hip:

He's using a lacrosse ball, and I'd recommend (starting, anyways) using a tennis ball as it is softer and easier on your tender beginner self. You can roll over onto the affected side and weight the ball further around to the front into your Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle also. Play with it, noticing the tender spots and focus on them. It gets easier and less painful with repetition. Get a foam roller and roll that IT band and Vastus Lateralis. Or else.

12 December 2013

it just seems like games

Rolling along the byways on the new route home, I found several pockets of the freshest air. Do you have those? I mostly ever come across them in the redwoods. Ozone so intense it's crazy. As though it were fake, artificial. I love that.

And, I came up on this boar so big that at first I mistook it for a bear! (all shoulders and crouchy movements, you know) That was a surprise.

And, there's this one bit of trail which was blocked maybe 8 years ago by a fallen Monterey Pine. Folks went around it, and eventually (years) the trail became very well established as going around it. But. I personally been actively looking forward to the time when it rotted clean away on account of how much speedy straightness of flow the trail carried into that diversion, which was that much more of a distraction and interruption to the trail because of it's situation. Well, it rotted through a month or 2 ago, and I moved it as soon as I saw the change. RErouted the trail along it's original flow, and damn glad to do so.

Some jackass went out of his way- into the (admittedly dormant, but still) poison oak- to replace the log section into the trail. This is a roughly 2'x5' piece of crumbly, bug-eaten pine. I chuckled, and hoisted it up again and really (I thought) sent it flying off trail, again into the poison oak. 3 days ago, it was back in the trail. 2 days ago, it was back off the trail, because I hiked it out and around and through the poison oak. Well, I wear knickers and tall socks. 1 day ago it was still off-trail, but I wonder how far dude is going to take this. It has been my experience that people are weird.

11 December 2013

a thin veneer of magic

In the interest of furthering our common goals of fun and debauchery in combination with safety while cycling, I will say this: next Tuesday's Full Cold but not really that bad if you're dressed right Moon, the 17th, is worthy of a ride down Highway 1 to take advantage of the "public" soaking hours at Esalen. 1-3am ans all's you need is a reservation and $20. Or a back way in? Anyways, I can drop the race van off the day before so we sleep down there and drive back up in the morning light. Totally hard if we throw in some dark redwood dirt action, and totally worth the effort...

Also, rolling down the singletrack dropping off party favors. So, the getting is good.

Also also, if you like the westerns you will enjoy Blood in Their Eyes, by Thomas Cobb. It is outstanding.

based on science

Hey! Ho! I could fill this space with hurried and ill-focused phone pictures. Eh.

A couple things- "winter" on the central Wizeyeizeyest coast is toothless, but it'll gum you pretty hard. Covering my ears up real nice. I been wearing the full coverage booties, even- not just those dip-you-toe-in jobs the roadies all love. Some street riding in Santa Cruz for those that haven't been= my rep as a less than trustworthy ride leader comes home to roost once again as the cracks appear and the frowns come out. "I don't recognize this!" well, why would you? "There better not be any more hills! My legs are done!"

-record scratch here-

Lookit. A big ass ride (whatever the actual mileage may be on a given day, leaving aside the elevations) is just that. You should wait longer before you let that little crack open up real wide and stuff starts coming out. Like, forever. It ain't over until it's over...and when it is, you see how I guided you down the smoothest, warmest, least climby route available. People, in this town, wanna make me carry the heavy title- and it isn't undeserved, I like to ride and I like to ride interesting terrain and I like to keep riding BUT if I say it's the easy way you could keep your end up.

I know people who really are hard core.

20 November 2013

add the Will to the Strength and it equals Conviction

I suppose a broken hip does give you a lot of time to kill. And, I must say, _odd killed the hell out of it with his researchemont concerning the riding options in the Death Valley. Emails flew back and forth in a flurry of schedules and maybes and reschedules and folks were in and folks were out and it went on for some time that way, the way things of that sort will. Everbody wants some.

Ultimately, 6 of us committed really and for real. Then the flurry was one involving increasingly frantic swapping of gear and racks and drive trains (for some). To the point that I settled on my "final" configuration of my tour bike the afternoon before leaving. To the point that as I rolled that final configuration down the driveway the morning of, I felt a vibration that I shouldn't feel and knew something was loose. What is there to do but turn around and figure it out? It was the cones in the rear hub. I tightened them and the wheel was sound, but my mind was blown- monkey wrench in the brain.

I said nothing to the fearless crew with whom I bike toured. The "check engine" light came on in the race van as _ick and I dropped the other side of HWY17 and I said not a word. All through Yosemite I feared the worst and kept it all quiet. What good could come of what ifs? For hours I wavered between intense concentration on the engine's feel or "fuck it", and the possibles troubled me.

We made it to the staging area without a hitch.

Each day I told myself to stop worrying about my too-light rear wheel crapping out under load while imagining what I would do when it did. I'd put a couple hose clamps on the bike in case of ____ failure(s), and thought about tying the cassette to the spokes with those and how I could (possibly) limp out in that way if it came to it. Etc. I said nothing about any of this, because what good could come of it. Even when _ick's own rear hub loosened up on his incredible cargo sled, I said nothing about my own concerns, because why jinx it further.

And each of the 5 days, in spite of the horrible washboarded ass-pounding climbs through miles of gravel or sand or sandy gravel, nothing went wrong. Our motto, quickly established, was "pretend you like it". It was appropriate. In spite of excellent route working out (planning, sure, but the map is never the territory...) Death Valley is some real hard work. Only 30ish miles a day had us in our sleeping bags and out by 8pm each night.

It was a big trip- too big to quickly sum up. Things that stay with me: cooking communal dinners is the way; 29+ is a real interesting category for some camping by bicycle; my Kelly Kettle would have worked just fine out there in the desert as there was always enough twigs around for some boiling water and I felt like a ass standing around begging hot water in the mornings; MSR dromedary bags are good equipment; having our Safety K__k around on the moto was a source of hilarity and disappointment (no cooler of cold beers?!?!); there is a light and it never goes out; etc.

Whomever of my fellow Death Valley Ramblers reads this: thank you for a real good time.

P.S. There is a lot of you name it on this internet about bike builders etc. Much of that is all show, and it saddens me in the shop and on the computer to see so much misplaced value. Hunter Cycles and Black Cat Bicycles just spent the last week sleeping in the dirt and riding the shit out of their bikes. Just like you. Not for a PRO anything- not a PROmo or a look book or a sepia-toned poem. That is some Realness worth considering. Also, Surly Bikes' junk straps are the greatest single bit of bike camping equipment ever.

11 November 2013

guff is not a commodity valued by roosters

Done! Swapped old, tired chain rings out for new, clean ones (it's a whole new drivetrain, son!). Replaced shaky "constucteur" (ask me about 3 points of attachment and a claimed 50lb limit and I'll tell you no lies) rack with bomber Surly nice(and heavy) front rack for a sssssolid front end, especially coupled with the 29+ front yeah, it is rock steady now. Packed warm clothes and fancy pants (I am aiming to win the costume-a-thon). Carefully decanted all food items into space saving containers, and stowed it all in panniers. Stole wife's down sleeping bag (no one in town sells zipper repair kits?!? WTF?) and stuffed it like it was my own. Wrapped duct tape around the seat post, added a needle and some extra seat post clamp bolts to- dope! just remembered spare cables...back in aminute


OK. 1 each of shift and brake cables. Because shit goes wrong sometimes. Multiply it by 6. Times that by 5 days of riding around. Add some back country and a (at minimum) bottle of good corn liquor, and you are looking at some potential...

See you next week, suckers.

08 November 2013

learn more now

insert fart noise here

More geeking out in the woods? Duh. This time around it is some total bikecamping switcheroo shakedown cruise. I all kinda swapped this and that on the Ogre for this upcoming/extended tour of. I wanted to see how it all shaped up. But you know what happens when you shake out your system, right?

All the bugs are exposed to the light.

 After a last minute light bracket positioning (latest in the on-going series of freakouts) I rolled over to meet Mr. P. Funny (to me) story: as I was touring down the bike path to get there, I passed some BMX hoodlums at the intersection, and they soon came upon me from behind. I heard them squawking about how no way was I (loaded homeless man in their eyes, I am certain) staying ahead of them. Of course that kind of blatant bike pathalete raceism cannot stand, and I gave chase. Full tweaker hobo-mode. They were silly looking as they furiously worked their dinky cranks and then stood over on one pedal to look back.  They seen me chasing and repeat repeat repeat, because it is hard work to maintain any speed on your 20" jibby bike. I took 1)the dirt parallel and 2)the win and D)them to school. I hope they learnt the lesson. It is always racing.

 My shitty set-up was shitty. 1st the 2 6L water bags barely fit in the frame bag. I wanted the water in there, because we are having to carry lots, and water is a hard load to roll. It is always sloshing and rebounding. It throws it's weight around. Hence, the wanting it in the center of mass, you see. No dice. My frame bag is specced for the Surly Pugsley, and I always thought I was real clever for getting that one and just using it on whatever bike- but surprise! I am not clever, and apparently the spec matters because the wide-assed BB of the fat bike allows for some corresponding wide-assedness in the bag, which coupled with a regular BB width will shit the bed if stuffed. On account of pedal striking with a vengenace. OK, OK, I'm real adaptable. Pull out one bag and strap it on top of the rear rack, and put the (non-compactable) coffee press in the bottom to keep the bag from flaring, and put the other water sac on top. Again, no dice; the water just slipped down and bulged the coffee press over and it was kick the clinky press every revolution. My brain knew it was not the BB, but it felt like a BB issue and it was maddening. Plus, it would quickly wear a hole in the frame bag. Gah! I cursed.

And, switching a new chain & cassette? Dang! I'm so proactive! Dope! Now it was old chainring interface problem having time. This is no way to Party. I stopped on the outskirts to drink beer and reflect on how badly things were going. Look:


So, yeah. With the hella refined routine, you might think we knew what was up. Liqour store, taqueria, woods. My favorite quote from the underwear clad Mr. P?

"It's perfect. Nobody needs to check my work." Yes. Why do I even bother with this "testing". My ish is so dialed. I've done this enough that my system is exactly correct for all time. Other worthies? Um..."how bad could it get?", "what's the worst that can happen?", and "hold my beer and watch this."

Since 1957! All of Cside(!) thinks we are just another couple of transient losers.

There is the wiggling gypsy wagon. Not even close to the actual load it must tote. Shimmy shimmy shake. Sad face.

I am avoiding calling you back because I know you know taking the fat bike is a bad idea and you want to talk me down from the ledge. I am aware of all the "road" sections and I am aware of how poorly the girthy tyres roll that stuff, but _ick is taking a fecking cargo-bike! Slowness is universal? And the fat tyres stabilise the load so well...

I am now engaged in the 2nd round of increasingly panicked shakedowns.

02 November 2013

f___ all the cool kids

Get a load of this:

on account of I loves me a mixte, even without the (requisite for "real" mixte status in my book, and that's the one that counts) twin lateral stays. Just check it. Locked by the front wheel only, the 1982 Ocean Pacific color scheme, worst possible rear brake cable routing, the bargain knobbies with crazy tread for days, the hoopty seat, and the jury-rigged basket. I love it!

Then it was back to the salt mines, and dealing with The Public. I am constantly amazed by my capacity to be amazed at the state of folks' bikes when they bring them in for repair. I mean, the triathaletes will hand you a bike covered in sugary drink residue and piss! like it ain't no thing. For real. I have caught on to that one, and now politely require they clean their own piss off the bike. But covered in dog hair, feathers, cobwebs, and real live spiders is pretty regular.

I hadda charge this guy for time spent cleaning his crappy bikes. If any of you buffers (keep the customers and rentals away from me so I can do work) are reading this today, I better not catch you waiving this charge because you are soft...

 Walk back out for a coffee, and:

on to the next one. Amazing. Wacky. I heart the shitty, townie mixtes all day long.

01 November 2013

built over millenia

To really do a s240, you must 1st master the art of fetishizing. Otherwise, it would just be a campout. Right? And what's buzz worthy about some losers riding their bikes out to the woods so they can booze it up and sleep under the stars?

Well, that is the question. Your answer is yours. Me, I just think it's a real fun time for cheap. It helps if you know which liquor store is the nearest to your exit- the spot at which you drop off the edge, slip through the cracks, and ease on down into the gutter trails. In this way, you will save effort and your beer(s) will remain cold longer.

It also helps if there is a burrito joint nearby to that which serves french fries, too. It's all about the quick and easy. You know and I know cooking dinner on one of these outings is not going to happen.

There is a point at which the streetlights stop. It is quiet. Shortly thereafter the trails open and your real fun begins. After the recent days of rain the summer's worth of powdery, blown-out sand is tamped into a wheel cradling singletrack maze.

It is on.

We pull the bags off our bikes, hang them in a tree out of reach of skunks/raccoons/possums/your mom...and rally. We rally like you do when the getting is good. Rally like it's a real fun time. Like the longer loop is all of a sudden a fine idea. Like the goon squad. Like.

Surprise! We checked that one spot which we never check on account of it is played out, and what did we spy? A lone can of beer, left there so long it had sand in all kind of odd places. We appreciated that can of beer as if it were a gift. As if it were a can of long standing tradition which had been thought to be past and gone. As if magical. As if.

The night was balmy. The night was clear and the sky full of stars. The night was full of complaints about bullshit (for instance, why is that so many Things That Are Cool become wrapped up in layers of obfuscating jargon and idle fetishization?), snickers about other people's bike choices, and plans being made. We ended up back at the camp spot at the perfect time. As though it could have been otherwise. I threw beer cans at Mr P's new bike. He was not bothered.

Morning will come, and if you are lucky there will be coffee.

 Mr P's bike:

which, sporting that awful frame pack, deserved it harsh treatment.

My latest incarnation of this Crosscheck (c. 2000), rocking it's new porteur rack rated to 50lbs. I got carried away loading it, said "fuck it" and piled almost everything on there just to see how it would ride. At times it felt like I was chasing my luggage down a sandy trail while sudden changes in direction were both not in the cards and required all the time. Exciting and not recommended. I see it being a nice place for the bulky-but-light items. Please ignore the stack height, as this is an experiment. And, for what it's worth, I have since added a longer stem to move more control over the load. I know your bikes are all totally dialed. How is that?

That Sollight lantern is a recomendo. It works great as a water bottle, and as a solar powered! lantern (with a red/night vision saving option, too). We've had a couple since mmmmm2002? And they just keep working.

I had to be at work by 10, so we barely had time to stop at Red's Donuts for a chocolate covered cake donut. I made it with 6 minutes to spare.

So there it is.

25 October 2013

we don't break down, we bend up

Shakedowns are for fun. Figure out some options on some quick overnights and you won't have to make mistakes where they actually matter.

There is an upcoming trip in the planning stages (lots of hemming and hawing right now, on the emails) and it will require more in the way of food- and especially water- than I, at least, am used to. So a quick jaunt through the redwoods via roads and trails is not only fun, but if we're not careful we might learn a thing or 2.

I have already learned I do not love the inflatable sleeping pads on account of they are fragile. I do not love the bulk of the foam, but it can't pop. There is a lot to like about that. The above (I had to borrow a lilac bandana and a groundcloth) is what I had to stuff in/on my bike. I will not wear a pack unless I have no other choice.

Who's got what on riding your bike in some clothes that work by virtue of their materials, and not of their ad campaigns? People who know, know.

I know that T_dd loves to have his ish all tight- the Freedom System is all about modularity? I get confused. There are many buzz words being thrown around on that one, but my take away is that there's a lot of buckling down. That is somewhat at odds with my own approach, which is more organic in nature. In fact, it takes it's cues from nature and I don't even decide on it so much as have it revealed to me.

I believe I will try a different shifter arrangement. The bar-ends suffer when laying the bike down. I will also try another bar. And the rough tape hurt my delicate hands this time around.

Rubber bands are not structural, but they are useful. Neither of our set-ups rattled or failed in their containership. I will allow that I blew it on planning for the beer carrying capacity. I had to use my fall back- the humble giveaway mussette. This was a victory of sorts, in that I had thought to bring the damned thing, but also a loss because I then had to cycle a further ~35miles having it shift and sway, etc.

More of a victory, because I was not unhappy about any of it. Even though I popped a can inadvertently while laying the bag down too hastily after hopping a gate. What else to do but shotgun? And, a reminder that beers are liable to pop if jostled too much. Worth keeping in focus. See? Gentle lessons.

T packed burritos for lunch, and for dinner, and for breakfast, and for lunch again. I feel that this was neither here nor there in terms of learning about longer trips to remote areas.

The roads in the Santa Cruz mountains are ridiculously nice riding.

We made a slight detour to visit Mr. Hun_er. It was fun to drink beers and ride bikes with these 2 clowns while stocking away valuable tips regarding equipment choices, etc. Really and for real. The real world experience these guys bring to their craft is worth all times' worth of your internet searches. If you need a bike (of whatever sort) check out Hunter Cycles and Black Cat Bicycles.

Day ends when the sun goes down...

Recall T_dd breaking his hip in a rotten car/bike crashup. A factor of this upcoming tour is to usher him back into the ranks of healthy hipped bicycle riders. Of course, in light of this, I was unable to ever allow him to ride away (frankly, obligated by the unspoken laws of friendship and bicycle camaraderie to turn the screws on occasion), and so I spent much of the day at a faster pace than my usual. I began to suspect that there was not a whole lot of ushering to be done.

 I did not regret my choice of flat pedals,

especially when we rode back up and dropped our bags for a day's worth of unburdened riding. It is a fool who will not listen, and as I am not a great fool, I benefited from the flat pedal pointers given to me during the extensive singletrack portion of that day.  I shifted my foot off the pedal and aimed for the inside ("more inside") and I'll be damned! Switchbacks were so much easier/faster/funner. After all this time...

T_dd got a flat, and we both were reminded that it is important to bring a spare tube(s) and a patch kit, and a pump, etc. I had hurriedly shifted my tool kit from one bike to another, and had the wrong tube size.

We also saw a ladybug swarm. It's been several years since I laid eyes on one.

20 October 2013

(fond) farewell to Summer

This is the way Summer ends, and it ain't a whimper. No whingeing!

As per the way of things, we rolled out of the driveway at 3:39pm. Well, there was some stuff to find, some stuff to pack, some stuff to organize, then the bikes revealed their various issues- including but not limited to: broken spokes, misaligned brakes, flat tyres, a whole new rear end for the Big Dummy, and the old standby...loose bottom bracket. Etcetera.

Why not find/pack/organize/wrench the day(s) before? Oh please. Like you have it all together. And, plus where is the exciting frustration in that?

Bros only. The ladies were to join the party the following evening. We asked around, and of the boys' friends only _ooper was on board. He had no idea. His folks don't camp, and he doesn't do a whole lot of outdoors. Still, nothing trumps Willing. It is all you need.

Since the government of this country (don't kid yourselfs everbody else, either) is run by monied interests, the park was "closed." Not closed to anyone who doesn't need the government added "value" of a shitty paved campground and enclosed pit toilets. Still, I briefed the boys on stealth.

We were like ghosts.

Any of you following at home have surely noticed how I am employing the slow boil frog torture technique to my children in terms of loading them progressively heavier each time out. It is working great. Also, J took the 24" this go round. He is getting bigger.

Here he is, passing the FNG.

That was Day 1. We arrived and set up camp. The older boys were sour that I'd only brought the 4 man tent and they didn't have their own. I did not care about their feelings in this matter, especially as I was sleeping outside the stinky boy tent anyhow.

Day 2= lounging. Coffee, oatmeal, and waiting for the temps to warm up enough to swim.  We divided our time amongst the swimming holes. The water was COLD. There was also a deer leg in the creek downstream from the horse bridge (now flagged as unsafe for pack stock...), which was a source of fascination and revulsion. Later we found another leg, and then the full remains. There are lions out there, and I love it.

After lying on my sleeping pad for a couple hours in my fly proof suit while the boys yelled and threw things in the creek,

I rolled out to meet the ladies. They reckoned riding in at night would be "scary". That whole process took some time, and almost went awry. I'd forbidden the boys fires and knives while away, and told them I'd be back well after dark. It is good for them.

After a successful moonlight cruise, we showed up with burritos and partied. Happy circumstance that the kids' "Fall Break" fell on the week leading up to the Full Moon! The ladies brought minimal gear in with them, but did bring another tent...

so the boys got their very own satellite camp, and in the morning J stunk it up for them.

And, base camp...

As an aside: food bags were hung from the oak limbs behind the tent. Trash, too, at night. We did have a visiting skunk for nights 2 and 3 (even disciplined camper kids will drop food, etc) but they are bad climbers. No problems.

 The wild cherries (Prunus ilicifolia) were going crazy.

And so were the tarantulas (Aphonopelma eutylenum).

We were careful with them. Nobody wants to hurt a big hairy spider. Though...I'd be lying if I said the idea of a tarantula vs. big-ass crawdad did not occur to us. Relax. We just staged that in our minds' arenas. Think about it. My money is on the crawdad.

Boba Fet in her bug-proof suit. It was awfully buggy. Moving around was fine, and the water was fun, but there was NO relaxing in camp. It did not spoil the fun, but I'd be remiss to not mention them.

Brooks saddles.

 Day 4 dawned. We moved quickly, since L had to be at work by 11am. The ladies left us with most of their gear, and went their own way...

We found so much trash left out. What kind of person goes out with a packing blanket and a pair of dorky white sneakers? The kind of person that leaves same tied up in a tree "for later". I'm totally in favor of this guy's can-do attitude, and completely disgusted with his soft, self-indulgent bail-out.

J caught a Pacific gopher snake (Pituophis catenifer catenifer) on the way back out.

That right there is what it's about. You don't need any fancy gear to go out in the woods and have a fancy time.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

 John Muir knew what was up .


 D, behind my freaky floating collar bone.

The dregs of a Good Time.

Hey. Do NOT get hung up over gear. Don't let a perceived lack prevent you from a kick-ass adventure. All's you need is a pair of sneakers, a packing blanket, and the Will to keep a hold of them...