It's just me and you anyways, since the blog is a dead art form. I guess I think about a tumblr or a instagram or whatever else is current and next...but at heart I'm a limpet. And sometimes- even though I have gotten more secretive in what I post on account of a lot of stuff is not for public for various reasons involving certain strictures and who wants to post evidence of and leading to, etc- sometimes I like to expound a little bit. There're more and better wastes of time available to you I realize.
They'll tell you you're out of style. I reckon if something works, well you can just keep refining it but the basics are sound so then there you are.
I say again: you can't always be going to ______ or riding across _______, or racing down the ____, etc. so you really must take your kicks where you find them, because they are the best of where you are. Nothing wrong with a small adventure. It's what keeps you ready.
And, as Suga Free reminds us, if you stay ready you ain't got to get ready... even though it was a hasty strap up and roll in order to get to work on time. I thought I'd just ride to work and then keep riding kind of thing.
That's what happened. I waited until closing time to fill the water bag since it's heavy. Then a quick stop for burritos and another for beers. The quickness is slowed down when I reach the edge of town since that's where you stop and drink a beer. I don't think there's much that is nicer than a ice cold beer on the brink of some trail riding.
It was a short trail to the staging area, for another beer and some target practice.
It has been my experience that setting up your camp is best done first, else you risk a soaking. Rig a corner of your tarp, sip a beer, rig another corner, sip a beer, shoot a can, ruminate on how a tent is muuuuuuch quicker to set up it's also a fair bit heavier and bulkier and a little technique being required helps keep it inneresting and adaptable, sip a beer. You might chew on some Bookers, since it's a high-toned affair and all.
(worth watching, if only for the reminder that fine whiskey takes time and effort to create and that is worth some recognition or why bother?...and, plus if you want to hate bike nerds for their nit pickery, you should check out how geeked out whiskey nerds can get)
After a couple three beers, and some pulls on the flask, you will want to ride around (ahem) unloaded.
Fist in glove with the riding of the bikes is the crashing of the bikes. Some will immediately shove a soapbox under their own ass and rail about drinking (see above) as the root cause of said crash, and they have a leg to stand on, sure. If only to shut up a tiresome meddler, I would attempt to sweep that leg out from under with the truism that a crash will come to everyone in time. I like to ride and crashes aren't going to change that. I like to drink and ride, and crashes aren't going to change that, either. I paid my nickles. I also (re)cracked a previously broken rib. Ouches. It's nothing I would not do again, only maybe a leeeeeeetle bit slower in the twisties. A subGenius must have slack. You do what you do because you want to. I do what I do because "Bob" told me to.
I think the raccoons hate that eyesore as much as I do. Nice.
So the low hanging clouds never did drop any moisture, but they did keep the metaphorical lid on things. The night was hushed and it felt like anything might happen and everything was holding it's breath waiting. It was very quiet and still.
In the morning, with a reduced load and a relaxed time table, I
stream-lined the packing. Per usual, I'm struck by the bulk involved in
just an overnight as it relates to multi-day outings (viz. the only
extra(s) is more food...). I'm liking the velo orange porteur rack for
the bulky items. You see there my Zrest (eff a inflatable/failable pad), the shelter tarp, sleeping bag, and Kelly Kettle all wrapped in the ground cloth. The camo thing underneath is my insulated coverall,
which is bulky but warm and light. Can't say enough good things about the Revelate Designs frame bag. Again (over and over) with the Surly Ogre and the 29+ front wheel to good effect. There are things in the works to improve on the set up, but they take time and money...
The trails are dry. Dried out. Tracks from days and days and days and days are right there, in the trail, for all to see. This is concerning when certain trails are (supposedly, hopefully, as much as possible) secret. Well, because entrances are getting blown out. Too much exposure, you understand.
On the other hand, I don't know if it's the extended drought or just timing, but a lot (a lot) of the deadfalls are rotted and dry enough to move off trail. A couple of those log cuts where the trail crew (sucks) didn't do more than just cut out the section blocking trail, and the log is at a diagonal so the cut is an awkward corner- yep, cleaned up. That emergency exit trail is going to be a lot (a lot) faster now.
Meat Life? Meat Life Volunteerism? I'll do some on a trail, in the woods.
J and I put some new meat on the (other) trails. His buddy, _____y, joined us for some kid stuff.
_____y has a clapped out "excitor" 20" dually which needed more love than I could give it then. We did what we could without new cables/housing/long enough seat post. He's got a Xmas request in, and since it's August he just danced with the one that brung him. I can respect that.
His folks don't ride, so he doesn't do this sort of thing. I reckon all children are made of rubber and boundless (OK, easily replenished short burst after easily replenished short burst's worth of) energy, so I don't coddle. We got snacks and we got drinks (sodas, even!) so we got going. He caved mildly about 7.6/8 of the way and was told that he was crazy, which he took in stride, and we rode the rest of the way out.
If you are tired of your usual, I recommend toting a 9 year old's idea of fun out to a rope swing. Shoot some BB gun/soda can skeet and live it up.
I like switching between a bunch of different bicycles. There was a time I tried to pick a bike. I expect there is that time for all of us. I guess for some, it sticks and they ride off happily into the sunset. Me, I have come to some more and less comfortable terms with the undeniable fact that I enjoy the shit out of lots of different rides.
Now I will mention, again: one aspect of the goodness of said fact is that the different rides are not only simply fun, a symbol of my individuality and my belief in personal freedom, but are complexly inter-related. To wit that the riding of one ride influences the sensation, informs the tactic, and contributes to the fitness (in every sense) with which we ride the other(s).
Think about that. Stare at your stem, drag a big heavy wheel up a solid climb, feel the effortless purring of a skinny tyre down a zippy and sustaaaaaaaaaaaained drop, etc. Don't just feel those contrasts, feel the hell out of them.
Relatedly, unless you are willing to stare into that Abyss, it won't be looking back at you at all. It might check it's phone and casually run you over without a meaning or a ripple, but that is dissatisfying to me. Some folks talk about a "meat life"*- sheeeeit. Meat life ain't coming to you, you got to go look for it. You might find it some dark night, backlit by a driving fog in a tight cone of headlight sound-tracked by heavy breathing. Maybe that's too far fetched. But it's true.
Also, I got a buddy who says he figures folks really love a bike for 5 years or so, and then get a yen for something else. That sounds right, more or less. I figure a great bike is great forever**. Hopefully, you'll get reminders at least every 5 years or so. If you are lucky, perhaps you will get reminders more frequently.
*The term "meat life" scares me and makes me giggle.
** I leave out suspension bikes as individuals, as I consider them throw-away bikes with a finite use window dependent on: material(s) durability, design, the current standards of "useable" travel, planned obsolescence, trends in fashion, your bros' opinions, etc. As a category of bike- they have a place. You may love the shit out of suspension bikes in general, but any particular squishy bike more than mmmmm4.62 years past it's release date seems ridiculous and unenjoyable.
Summer has ended over here. Summer is sticking around, and will likely last through to nearly October, but Summer is done with the first day of school. Schedules and likes being what they are, J and I saw Summer off with a little, small bike camp out.
It is interesting to see the progression. Last week's attempt had him huffing and puffing up the dirt climb pretty quickly. Not so this time. You know how it is, when the route is known it takes some pressure off. You can gauge the required effort better, if nothing else. He was gauging pretty good. He told me it wasn't so hard this time.
We got to the top and he asked if we were going to take the extra dirt climb. I typically skip that with their camping rides, as it is extra effort for not a whole lot of pay-off, and there are currently 2 downed trees and it has lots of poison oak plus those thorny brambly vines.
"This is fun!"
We dropped the bike path connector, with it's buckled root-strewn pave and took the side streets. We stopped at the fruit stand for snacks and a rest. We chilled in the shade at the park. Pretty much a repeat of attempted weeklies past (this is #5 for this version, according to my partner), with small refinements.
An OK sunset preceded a glorious moonrise, some Secret Boys nighttime getting around, burritos, and sleeping in the dirt. Early roll-out for extraction and doughnuts.
I should just go ahead and change the name of this blog. It could also be "stuff I forgot".
I forgot to mention that the CaliRoots Festival happened. I'd been interested in seeing Don Carlos, and Yellowman puts on a good show, but it is Israel Vibration that really moves me (even without Apple). I rode by the fairgrounds after work and the sounds were OK. Rather than spend $ and hassle through the crowd (nowadays I can't do it- the overwhelming throngs of tank-topped bros in it for the weed, etc) I leaned my bike against the fence across the street and had myself a little party. The last 3 or 4 songs were pretty tuff. #dancelikenobodyswatching
I said that to say this: I did see my loveley co-worker, R______, on her way in. She called me a Geezer(!), and meant it in the nicest way you can mean it. She meant it. That was pretty good. It's my 1st, of what I assume to be many. I'm 45, for what it is worth.
Finally, I forgot that I remembered what gravity is like. You know, how it just insists. Constant tug, you can really depend on it when you are swinging the bike through one turn and into the next. Gravity is plumb down. I dig that. Fast descents are another plus.
Going, going, gone. Rolling around this peninsula doing hood rat stuff. Looking for a full moon, finding only fog. Oh sure, it's back lit so there is a strange illumination to be had, but it's juuuust enough to sit in the woods and drink a beer and listen to the sounds. It's not as good as it could be, though what ever is? You appreciate what is there to be appreciated and the contrast gives value to the truly sublime moments. And, plus if you aren't out there looking for them those moments will remain in the shadows anyhow. We only get 12 cracks a year at this full moon stuff so make them count.
Mr. P is living la vida loca these days and reports that the terrain everyplace is not conducive to the full moon experience (viz. letting the front end ride). That is, sadly, a true statement. I forget that not everyplace has white sand trails extending out into scrubby (friendly, bumpering) chaparral. Insert sad trombone here.
Also, if you forget you're riding a fixed gear and try to coast, don't worry. Your bike will remind you what's really going on.
1/2 a day flies by before we get serious and down to the business of piling up our camping gear. Much of it is in a dirty shambles from being used for the Grand Canyon trip, so we use more time trying to find this or that. Eventually, it is all gathered in the front of the garage and we sort things into the proper places for me to haul all the stuff for an overnight except the boys' packs. I'm taking it easy on them because, again, we are riding a fair bit to reach this week's secret camp spot.
J is a mouthy little half-wheeler, and I have to stay on him about riding within himself so as to be able to maintain. He will burn right through his energy and then get fussy if I don't. D, on the other hand, will drag this out as slowly as he is able, so he must be hustled.
I just got that bike built for him, and it's too small. Dang. I reckon I'll swap in a taller and longer stem with some swept back bars. It isn't the aggressive trail bike, after all.
We ride. We talk (quite a bit) about traffic awareness and safety- those
drivers ain't looking out for us. We talk of inconsequential things and
we talk of consequential things. We talk a lot of shit.
J shows off his one-handed riding and crashes right next to me. We get him out of the road- this is why we take the sidest streets- and hang out as he collects himself. He rung his bell, but isn't hurt.
We stop for burritos. There will be no cooking. We got more pressing matters at hand. The boys have to learn the game of world domination...
Step 2) use this "base camp" as a springboard to days' adventures.
Step 3) repeat.
Following these simple guidelines will net you a Good Time, every time.
True blue day trippers, the plan was for the wife and I to ride and the other family members to hike/squabble/pout. We all crammed into the vehicle and burned non-renewable resources to reach the Rainbow Rim trail. FWIW, the maps available on site at the GC are wildly inaccurate, and roads are both left out and included even when they are no longer "real". Once again I am hit over the head with an iteration of the Be Prepared rule, viz. bring a good map, dummy. In light of this, we decided we'd all get out of the truck at one spot and do an out and back from there, rather than the original plan which had been to drop us off at one end and retrieve us at the other.
The Rainbow Rim is a beautiful alpine singletrack with gentle contours and stunning views. What little we saw of it, anyhow.
Before we'd even made the next point, I flatted. To make a long and aggravating story short: there were mulitple issues with patching which really boiled down to dried out glue(s) and only an asshole packs for a bike trip (especially one far from home) without making sure that the spare(s) in the kit are the right size(?!?) and the patch kits are fresh. As usual, I am that asshole. How you think I got this nickname?
With some cussing and some perseverance and the tearing with the teeth of one tube to boot another and the use of 4 hands and a lot of luck, we made it back from the 2nd flat. We called that the turn-around-point. Now, I dislike mechanicals as much as the next idiot who isn't proactive with preventing them, but I'm firmly in the camp of the-worst-day-on-a-bike-in-the-woods-is-better-than-the-best-day-at-_____. My sweetie only agrees to ride bikes because it's important to me (she'd rather hike) and the mechanical issues surrounding bikes are one of her main issues with the whole endeavor. Thus, it was a real drag for her but she never complained.
We juuuuuust made it back before the tyre began to go down again. Who's coming out with the large barreled fat tyre frame pump soonest?
Welcome back. Fresh out the Grand Canyon, a family vacation like we used to. It gets no more traditional a USA summer time adventure than piling in and camping out at such an iconic venue. True fact: I recommend the North Rim of the Grand Canyon! A very different experience than the crowded and day-tripper-ridden South Rim.
In a week's worth of camping out family style, there is an overnight to be had solo. It's good for everyone's morale. I had packed my bike, and my sweetie's bike (which fits 2 of 3 childrens as well, these days), in hope of joining forces with some AZ's finest. That didn't happen, but I was able to roll away from the public campground to look for some realer real.
Plan B was some poring over the map(s) with an eye to easily accessible dirt. This revealed a potentially fun destination, and just like that, it was on. I rode out into the unknown. As such, it is always the same- the distance out, being unknown, seems much longer than it is. Plus, my map sucked and showed several roads branching from my route where there were in actuality only 2. Lessons learned and relearned= a map is not the territory. Ceci n'est pas un blog entry.
I rode along a quiet forest service dirt/rough road and savored the (surprising to me) alpinity of the Kaibab Plateau. I thought about canyons and erosion and drainage. The landscape is all about drainage over there.
Over here on the west side, we gets no lightning. I used to live places
where the good storms rolled through, but (Cali drought notwithstanding)
these days there's no drama in my skies. Fog is just drab. We'd had
quick and refreshing weather blow through each afternoon thus far, so I
was packing my rain gear.
When I arrived at the end, it was crowded with people even though I'd only seen 2 4x4s go by on my approach. Lesson 2= there is no backcountry in a highly visited National Park, dummy. Duh. I waited them out, perhaps drove them out with my smelly dirtbag lurking. Perhaps it was the imminent thunderstorms. On the edge of the GC there, I watched the storms as they moved about the place. You can see for miles. When it became clear these storms would likely put in an appearance at my own point, I worked to quickly set up my beloved tarp. I used one of the 2 picnic tables as an anchor, and my bike frame as an anchor with the front wheel off to serve as another anchor, and situated my shelter in the lee between a small fir tree and a large sage bush. I had the Kelly Kettle along (of course) and it served as a weight along one of the sides, tied to the grommet. It was a very jury-rigged set-up. As a tarp will be.
Then I walked back down to the very edge and marveled. The 3 main storms, which had been quite separate, were converging to the Southwest of me. I watched multiple lightning strikes taking place simultaneously in different spots. Like, 4 strikes at a time in one storm and 4 strikes in a different storm location all go off together. It was AMAZING. One strike came down below the rim and then arced sideways back to a cliff face. I've never seen anything like it. All this time the rain was coming closer to my point. When it became scary (and it did) I thought about the fact that my tarp was anchored with a steel framed bicycle to steel framed picnic table under the tallest tree at the pokiest outest end of a high point, and I got scareder. But, what are you going to do at that point, with the wind whipping the rain closer and the thunder right overhead? I reckoned that neither the tables nor the tree showed lightning damage, and literally ran for cover. The sound of the thunder was so immense I cowered beneath the tarp with my wool shirt wrapped around my ears for fear the sound would cause damage. I'm sure the storm was centered 2' above my tarp. Then it began to hail.
With the hail, the thunder ceased and I was able to unwrap my head. This was good, because the water and ice were threatening to flood my "floor" (a tarp on the dirt). I got to work and spent the next 20 minutes or so constructing and shoring up earthen walls along all 4 sides of my shelter. I reached as far out as I could and dug run-off trenches away from the walls to encourage drainage (that whole place is about drainage). When my hand got too filthy, I simply held it under the main run-off spot of my tarp and it was soon clean. There was so much water, I filled and drank my coffee cup 6 times before I stopped bothering. It tasted strongly of fir.
By that point the rain had settled in and lessened somewhat. My dams held, and I was snug and dry (nice that the overall temp was balmy) for the next 2 hours or so of steady raining.
When it stopped entirely, the sun came out and so did I.
I spent the afternoon sitting in different places on the rim looking at the Grand Canyon. You could spend a lot of time doing that. I had a thermos of Booker's and got drunk as an owl, mixing it with splashes of piney rain water. I call this cocktail a "Point Sublime." But you can only get it the one place.
More folks came out. That place is crawling with people. Several folks stayed out to watch the sunset before driving off. I had taken my sleeping gear down to the rim, figuring if it stayed clear it was a win and at worst I could again run for cover.
The sky remained clear all night. I saw a shooting star that flared like none other I've ever seen and it's trail lingered for a good 3-4 seconds before fading away. The Milky Way loomed. It was fantastic until the motorcycle yahoos showed up (at, like, 2AM?!?) and made a lot of noise setting up their own tent above me and then clambered down where I was with their flashlights. That place is crawling with people. I don't know what I was thinking expecting to get away from them with no knowledge of the place except that gained from briefly looking at a map.
Totally worth it. That storm was incredible. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, though next time I'd be more careful with shelter choices. Also, at this point I've toured a fair amount with the 29+ tyre size and I say: it works. It works very well and is a low cost, low tech, low maintenance way to soften up your ride. It really smooths out the wrinkles. You like offroad touring? You should check it out. Full stop.