I have assembled the ingredients for the Happy Life, and successfully combined these disparate steps into a coherent and translatable recipe. Prepare to receive instruction:
There it is. Simple, no? That is my favorite corner anywhere, by the way.
I have been spending so much time aboard the fat bike because it suits a bunch of the riding I've been doing. It forgives boozy line choices, sucks up poorly routed sneak-throughs, handles roots and pine cones etcetera hidden by shadows, tracks straight through the chunkiest rock sections and more. I am enamored. But...it is a pig. Changing to the Black Cat SS for the commute was a delight. So light, so responsive, so willing to leap forward. That morning commute through singletrack will put a positive spin right on you.
Simple formula: dirt commute = lasting happiness.
The stem drew me in. Bulbous.
Next, a parking brake caught my eye. It's plastic tubing fixed under the grip with a bolt on the free end which inserts into the gap between squeezed lever and body and held in place upon release of lever to keep the brake engaged. It's not my thing, but it's very well executed. When the brake is squeezed again, it springs out and away immediately.
And this? Der Kaiser (as this former airplane mechanic introduced himself) wanted a longer cage, so he made one. He had dumpster dived the frame in Tucson and this is what he's made of it. I called the other mechanic out of the shop and we marveled. You could see it warmed the Kaiser's heart to have his ingenuity recognized and valued. I enjoy my weekly shift in Monterey. There's more kooks over on that side of things.
I saved my lunch money and spent it on tallboys instead. That's that one spot. I was collecting empties and producing new ones. The ride home? Ripping singletrack. I had to walk up a bunch of hill, but it's a SS so I don't feel anything but fine. Up turns to side turns to down hill.
Finally, you can't teach me, but I can learn the hard way. Depending on others to provide for one's own Happiness is a sure road to Failure.
Oh. Yeah, tomorrow is the Easter. While I don't believe in magic and I certainly don't believe that my group's magical theory is grounds for moral supremacy and/or resource appropriation, I do know my kids like to hunt for Eater Eggs. Who doesn't? So, tonight will see me rolling the stone away and riding around a certain section of trails drinking beers and hiding eggs...
We have a weekly ride of sorts over here. It's loosely organized at best. We try for one or both weekend nights, and folks show up as they can. It's a small pool from which to draw, the shallow, murky pool of people who enjoy both the party and the ride. I may have mentioned this before. The Monterey peninsula has been called (rightly, in my opinion) the home of the newly weds and nearly deads. Which is to say there is not a lot going on- particularly bike-culture wise. So, a pool which would be small anywhere is very small indeed on the central coast.
Still, the surest way to have fun is to make some yourself.
I myself am very motivated in this one area. So after the back and forth texts of excuses and "reasons" (you know my views on the texting- it just allows any plans to remain open-ended until go time and beyond for some people. Maximum flake out potential. Gah!) I showed up at the shop to meet the one other potential attendee. Tales of personal woe and claims of tiredness and such ensued. I looked my bro right in the eye and said, "You are fucking up." What else is there to say? He knew it and I knew it, so I left. Rolled out the door to stop at the corner store for some tall boys- because I do like drinking and riding (and owning up to it on blog posts) so all a you pussy boys with your high tone set an example bullshit can get a load of that. pffffthp.
While loading large cans of cheap beer into my frame pack, I reflected on the choices we make. I know that brother is not riding any of the other days -much less nights- of the week. He is a working father with school in the bargain. I realize his situation. I also realize it is easy to turn down hard things, and riding up these particular trails, while not technically difficult, is strenuous and in the dark to boot. Which, I know, I know, is a selling point for some.
So I rolled back on over to the shop and knocked at the door and then knocked at his flimsy denials until he did the right thing. Then we rolled up the hill and into the dark for the one night a week we currently have of Good Times.
If you need it plainly, here's the crux- this is what you like to do. What else is there?
Yo maing, Full Worm Moon coming mid-week. That means that there will be the brightness available tonight (well, really even last night...) thru next weekend! Get on that. You really should be constantly improving your form every day in every way...
Lose your inhibitions and come bounce with us.
It is official: moonlit riding for all my friends!
Returning from the latest series of training maneuvers, I have only 3 pictures to reveal, and they aren't even mine. Thanks, _ick.
_ick and _odd had ridden out Sunday afternoon, just the 2 of them. All the other cyclists ran and hid, I guess. Coe is too hot. Coe is too steep. Coe is too full of you people...
I had to work on Sunday, so I pulled into the parking lot solo after dark and got ready to go bike camping. That means I pulled my bike out of the race van, stuffed some last minute things into my bag, and drank a tall boy. Then I headed out into the night to meet up at a predetermined site.
Riding turned uphill with a vengeance and quick! I considered throwing up, but decided against it. I discovered that the "fix" I had achieved during the last solo camping and biking expo was more of a "hack", to wit: I had indeed straightened the bent hanger enough to use the granny to limp out, but not enough and to the detriment of my derailer cage. Then I left the bike to rot, because who wants to look at the instrument of so much suffering until a proper interval has passed? I had put the bike in the stand the night before this trip to lube the chain, and had again manhandled the derailer cage fairly dramatically to get it back in line. It all shifted perfectly in the stand, of course. To the eyeball it was fine. Who needs to test ride?
Well, all of us should. You can't teach me.
Pausing trailside, sidehill, I bent that cage as well as I could but at that point I was leery of too much cold setting. Too much bending becomes fatiguing and yields breaking. Fuck it, it worked well enough to leave in the granny and climb and that was all I needed that night. It would be fine in the morning.
The next morning, I hung the bike up and gave it the hairy eyeball, and some elbow grease. It was clear that there was no more reefing to be done without serious risk of breakage.The p-knuckle was buckled, a spread and a twist there. I figured the possibility of shifting was better than the certainty of emergency-rigged singlespeeding, so it became a done deal: run what you brung. I effectively had low granny and tall granny (cross chained like you read about) with a couple/three higher gears from the big ring, depending on how many stream crossings and how recently I'd lubed the chain. I spent a small amount of time in my mind cursing things, but Coe is steep enough that I wasn't too fussed. I could soft pedal the descents in a higher gear with little trouble, and the low low was what I wanted much of the time anyhow. Besides, it beat quitting. That's for Quitters.
So I chased those fellas around Coe for the next 2 days. Conditions were perfect.
It is not possible to overstate: conditions were PERFECT. The wildflowers were going off. It was a riot of color and smell. Really nice.
I did learn somethings:
A) A few more of the good ways around.
2) _odd kept brewing his coffee through his*ahem*coffee colored hankie, which at first seemed silly and extreme, or extremely silly, or even just extreme but upon reflection makes a seriously domestic sense. I carry my fancy pants (well, it is tiTAINium) french press, because there is not the possibility of going without coffee. But the possibility of going without the weight and bulk of the press...that's an idea I may have to quietly appropriate while not giving my buddy any credit. Maybe going so far as to claim I "used to do it that way" or somesuch. Because, you know.
C) The proper amount of tall boys to be packed for a trip of that duration is: MORE.
D) When looking at a map, the 1st thing to do is to orient yourself to the actual location of yourself on the map. This can be harder at some times than others, but remains a crucial 1st step. Repeat until successful.
E) I am finally coming to grips with the looooooow pressure these fat tyres require. I have been made uncomfortable in the past on the off camber aboard the fat bike. I have now gone through that discomfort and have reached a rudimentary understanding of the larger balance point offered by such a pendulous contact with tha earf. I am prepared to explain this further via some simple drawerings, but words will have to do in this medium. When riding sidehill, your tyre will lose traction at some point. There is a window of time to react and get back over the balance point. As the larger volume tyre shifts, this window is open longer. The tyre has more contact, and the squish slows down the whole equation, so I can get back on it well after I'd have lost contact with a narrower/harder tyre. If that makes sense, great. Anyhow, I've made a break through. Also, I can see lines for the fat bike now. Hammering in the chunk is in bounds at this point. BAM!
6) Do NOT be afraid to try different positions. Take that how you will. You will be surprised at how you think you think something, but circumstances can lead to a rethinking that really works. And then circumstances will change and that thing you thought you now thought needs some different thinking. Hey, the Golden Rule will always apply. I'm just saying you might want to check out what angling your seat nose down can do for you if you are gonna climb and climb aND CLIMB.
7) If you like the camping and the bikes, check these fellas out: Black Cat Bicycles and Hunter Cycles. They are people who ride. The kind of product development they have developed is only achieved by the elite few who are willing to put themselves in ridiculous situations, on bikes and in the woods. They are those guys.
Any of you who pass up the chance to ride your bike and camp are stupids. Really really.
Recently, I invited 2 bicycle enthusiasts to accompany me on a questionable bike camping trip. 1 of these fellows declined, wisely and politely saying "My mommy just got into town, sorry I can't go, plus it sounds totally sucky." The other of these remains incommunicado, which I took and take to mean that he also knew the idea to be a bad one. I said as much in the invite. I said, "it's prolly a bad idea, but..." and those are the words that started the Church of the Sweet Ride, and they are the words by which I try to live.
Well, HA! Only Day 2 totally sucked. Day 1 was so great! So much downhill in such nice conditions...zero bugs! snow, in the high country! no people at all! Y'all really blew the 1st day. Plus it would have been nice to have some help around for when I highside pedal strike the super off-camber and nearly pitch out into the abyss. I had to take a moment after that one. I will say, the awareness of being at the business end of things all alone and far out colors one's experience. It makes for some cautious type rallying. It is a vein worth mining, solo back-country riding. I asked myself: could you be transported to that place? And I answered myself: No. It is part and parcel, the Suffering involved to reach it. It sanctifies it. It is fucking exalted.
Let's not speak of Day 2, save to say 1) it was waaaaay better than last year (which, yes, I said I would never do again), and B) I got so frustrated and hateful I chucked my loaded bike over a hundredth deadfall and ended up bending the hanger pretty badly miles from nowhere. It was fixable. With the feet and hands, proper leverage and brute force, it was fixable, but it sucked anyhow. Over all, the trip was not worth doing. Though I have a high threshold for suck, once it is crossed there is no returning.
But, if we could work out just the Day 1 route...we'd be on to something.
Smiles over here aboard a few rigs, but lately mostly the plastick street bike. I have said it out loud and in person as recently as just this morning: road riding is as fun as mountain biking. Sure, I have to make a little bit of a icky face while spitting that out, for form's sake, but that takes nothing away from the Truth of it. Fun is fun, and where I'm sitting fast enough to bring tears to your eyes counts double. The extra bits, such as how you can swoop all over the place and pull Gs in the corners if it's swept, well that's piling excess on success. You might wanna put on your power clothes and get a hold of some of that.
The extra extra? Sheeeeeeeeeit. Only reason you can't take that one trail is because- wait, why can't you? Oh, come come. Horses for courses and all, but you'd be surprised.
So you can keep your cobbles and your Ardenneses and your chimeric twins, and I'll take the real high road
...to school, with the only peloton worth following. Some of these kids are the type who appreciate it when the Dad from down the street rolls up and asks them how their brakes are working and then (lightly!) grabs a handful of it for them. Some of them.
Featuring the fancy pantsed 1987(?) Stumpjumper. It's a surprisingly snappy beater. Every now and then my heels will get lodged under the rear baskets on the upstroke. Since there's no helping it, I choose to find it amusing rather than annoying, and it is exciting.
I retrieved the pull saw from it's stash spot of 2 weeks ago. I had forgotten it was there.