Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

26 February 2013

one way in and no way out

Staring down the barrel of a 3-day weekend backcountry tour aboard a moderately loaded bicycle?

 Here are some words and pictures to help in that difficult situation.

That there is a scientific, mathematically complete checklist of the gear I used. Not pictured: stuff that wasn't in this picture. Study as needed. Experts, take notes. Plan accordingly- do not think of your local influences, do not take more or less. My bike/equipment/nutrition choices aren't choices so much as directives from technically proficient people who know; people who've done it, like, 3 or 4 times even. Follow this exhaustive indexpertise to the letter. If you had ordered the x-ray specs then you would know that there is food and cookware in that Trader Joe's bag. And you would wonder: Huh? Why is there not the case of beer I carried on last year's middle-of-Winter-bicycle-trip-through-Coe? I have no good answer to that slavering T-Rex jaw of a question, but I can juuuust wedge it open with the spindly reminder that there was a 1/2 bottle of rye whiskey cached at Pac a camp. (It wouldn't be prudent to crow all over the internet about having a valuable trove of quality hooch, a precious, hidden in the wilderness...only an idiot would do that.) But, surprise! I didn't actually take the bag, just the contents. Plus that other stuff.

Truly helpful words are communicating the underlying premise, which, plainly stated, is: if you are interested in bike camping, just go do some. Truly, you don't need special anything to make it happen. What you do need is to accept an invitation when it is given and then to actually follow through with it, as well as a positive mental attitude (more on that later). There is so much talk, in person and online, about doing things when there could be the actual doing of things. Which do you prefer?

 Also, take a look at this (especially noting the shirt-sleeves in February?!? and the well executed front rack):

That is the only other show upper for this Full Moon Freakout. The remainder were awarded, in absentia, the Dummy Of The Year Award(s). I suppose one could say they were all go, but no show...wait- all no go and no show.

What the hell, fellas? Stop blowing it.

The given of using what bike and camping equipment you have at hand notwithstanding, we are bike geeks, so...I chose the Surly NeckRomancer as my rig for this trip. Mostly because I have one, but mostly because it is a fine way to smoove out the rough edges encountered in many a camping oriented bike ride. If it is rough going (i.e. up a lot of chunky stream beds or bushwacking little used "trails") or traction is an issue then the big and fat tyres are a help. It has better load carrying options than a full suspension bike. A rigid frame takes the excellent and game-changing frame bags (I lik these), which allows the bike to ride like a bike, not a wallowing pig of a bike. You can still rally, which is the purpose after all. _odd chose his 29er super custom Black Cat AdventureBike, which achieves the same rallyable usefullness but in a lighter and zippier form. I weighed my rear wheel afterwards, when I was stripping the bike of all cables and housing for a (required) complete overhaul, and I frowned when I saw the scale needle tip over past 10lbs(!!! for a wheel!). Then I stopped thinking about it, because it is what it is and it works real well.

California at it's finest. We rode out from the HQ entrance, which choice we have discussed at length now, and concluded it is not the way. Coyote Creek is muuuuuch nicer; less people, no buildings, and you end on a downhill as opposed to an ass-whipping climb of at least an hour. Arriving at the park around 2PM, the plan was ride until some campsite looked good in the evening light. So, our timeline was not ezzackly fixed. I find that best. A general direction, a loosely defined region of possibilities leaves a nice opening for spontaneity and adaptation to current conditions.

We looked at the map and saw that there was some good singletrack available, and we rode that. We rode as much of that as we could figure out how to string together in a route that would lead us over towards Pache the camp where the whiskey was waiting. We got a ways after some real nice descending and climbing and camped under some oaks.

Both of us eschewed the safety anchor some folks call "a tent". With a 10% chance of rain, only a fool would willingly carry that much extra. I ended up using my tarp as a tight A-frame, and my sad companion attempted a similar set-up using his child-sized tarpancho. After the late evening songs of the yodel dog, we slept the sleep of the just barely roofed. It was extra sound, since I used my hydration bladder and shoes along with some loose gear all stuffed in my sleeping bag compression sack as a pillow.

There is plenty of Secret Knowledge to fill your dreams.

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