Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

23 September 2013

dumb, old fashioned, and out of style

Swooping down Laureles Grade into Carmel Valley aboard a bicycle is exciting! You easily outstrip traffic. You can go as fast as you dare, and I neither carry nor need a computer to tell me that's fast. Thoughts of crashing flit in and out of your mind on descents like that. If you focus on doubts, you lose your nerve and have to back off; you lose your fun. But ignoring the possibility of mechanical failure is dumb, so you visually check your front tyre as it spins. Do you feel any hitches or bumps? Can you see any irregularity? Is the profile the same on both sides? True? Brakes clear? Then you bring your focus back out in front, scanning for the Good Line.

What a bluebird day today was. I thought I'd swap the knobbies for those skinwall 37mm Panaracer Paselas that were in the tyre pile somewhere. Those are great tyres to rally. They are surprisingly grippy through the woodsy singletrack, but real shmooth on pave. It would be a fine day to ride out 68 (it would be shadier than the valley heading East) and take the back way over the Grade to head out for a Cachagua loop.

So I found myself on the valley floor, rounding the very last S bend into the Village when I felt a sudden and increasingly urgent whup-whup-whup from the rear and put the brakes on. My tyre blew before I could fully stop.

 The bead had blown off the rim earlier, as I was careless with my swapping, and I thought little beyond the usual reaction. It is disconcerting in a way that's out of proportion to the actual volume of the explosion. For me, anyway. In part because it ruins a tube, in part because it is so very preventable- pay attention, dummy!- but mostly because it is such a scary prospect if it were to happen at a bad time. Say, tearing ass downhill with cars around.

So I cussed (like you do) and flinched (like I do) and checked the bead and reinstalled the tyre. Then I went out and rode some pave and some singletrack (aggressively, downhill) and some more pave and then climbed the back way and then dropped Laureles. I had my thoughts about blow outs and backed off and got back on it and had some thoughts about brakes and backed off and got back on it, etc. I enjoyed my bike ride.

  The problem:

 if that had happened at 45+mph, it would have been a real bad time. So even though my day of riding was over, I was pretty pleased with the way it ended. It could have been worse!

 Of course I tried booting the spot with a section of the tube box, thinking super low PSI...I might be able to limp the 10 miles back out to the mouth of the valley. Beacues the wife is out of town and there was no easy rescue.

 And, of course it didn't hold.

So what are you gonna do? Send some texts, and start walking with your thumb out. It didn't take long for me to realize I'd rather walk in my socks than in my cycling shoes. Down the road? Clop clop clop with the shuddery contact? I realize it's a controversial move, but it was mine to make.

 So yeah, walking down Carmel Valley Road in my underwear, pushing my busted bike in stocking feet. Does it surprise you that no one would stop? I realize only pick-ups or other cyclists in their cars would even consider it. An English couple in a sedan stopped and asked me for directions. They didn't offer help. I could see it not occurring to them, and honestly the thought of explaining to them and then getting a run-around was more than I was in for so I just told them how to get to 1 and kept on.

Steve, from the Money Band, stopped

 and we listened to the Doobie Brothers while he took me as far as Shulties. I sure hope he checks out Yacht Rock, like I recommended. Then I walked past All Saints, where many mini vans toting a mother and a child looked through me and drove on by. My feet were taking a beating, so I sat down and fashioned the remnants of the tube box into some sole protection. I attempted to hitch while doing this, but that's tough.

Eventually, P____ the art director from All Saints pulled over and took me right to my driveway! That was nice of him.

 I really was very lucky today.

21 September 2013

be a bike racer or just look like one

One of the guys at the shop was helping some young girls with a new bike purchase. 19, or so, not 6 or 7. The one girl said she didn't really know what a fixie was, apropos of not being sure what she wanted in a bike. The employee said he thought they were the worst thing to ever happen to bikes, without explaining anything. I make it a point to not intrude (and attempt to make it a point to not listen in- sometimes with more success than other times) unless actual misinformation is being given, BUT. If I were to have been the talker, I'd have explained what a fixie is, from whence it has come, and how fun it is to ride a fixed gear bicycle regardless of the low position they currently occupy in the public mind. Lamentable trends do not determine my feelings.

Why, I took myself on a fixed gear solo tour of the moonlit peninsula just the other night. After an inspiring night of camping beneath the full moon, I was inspired to sprint from one hidden beer stash in the woods to another and I can tell you: turning circles is where it's at.

                                     you didn't show up, and your beers got drunk for you.


On the other hand, if you keep an open mind people will throw trash in it.

 CCCX#3 went off with several hitches. 1st time for me riding the CSUMB course. I crashed in that one long sandy section on account of a guy ahead of me had crashed and was bent over rerailing his chain. I thought it would be a funny idea to spank him on his ass as I passed, and (of course/deservedly/like a dummy) with only one hand on the bars I crashed immediately after. Almost took out that rat-tailed kid on the single. How it's done...

 Lots of juniors on cross bikes.

Good Times.

20 September 2013

keep up the bad work

Bitch, and don't change. I'm trying to tell you, over and over again.

Pimps n hos rap music may not be the finest segue to a quiet time in the woods, but that song will not be denied. Because either you a run down the hill and get some bitch or walk down the hill and get them all ho, so come which I believe Suga Free is ruminating generally on the ephemeral nature of all existence, and specifically on aging and opportunities not wasted. Meditate on that.

I meditated on the above as I lay beneath it. Solo camp out underneath the oaks= rest. After the this and the that of the day, I barely had enough time to ride sweet singletrack to the liquor store, much less then ride through CSide(!) for a quick burrito pick-up and lash same to the front end of my raggedy hobo set-up before fancypanting it out into the "dark" of a 90% Full Don't Flake Out Moon.

As a result, I arrived in the dark. The 1st little bit, I just sat there and let the night regroup. Showing up all fast and loud makes the critters shut down. It takes some quiet time for the night time to reassert itself. Not to mention that any werewolves in the area know where you are, even if merely by the telltale sound of cracking the 1st tallboy...

Anyhow. That's it. I just sat around in the dark drinking beers and sipping whiskey. Then I slept.

In the morning light, a tall can becomes a bowl of oatmeal. You see the little scrap wood I use as a base cooking platform and the remnants of the Kelly Kettle twig fire. Obviously, I scraped out the duff and dumped the ashes, but what isn't pictured is the careful monitoring and the wetting and the putting completely out and the covering of same. NO FIRES are happening because of this jackass.

Visited the shrine to give REspeck and restock.

That there was the set-up. Surly Ogre with the normal sized front dyno-wheel.

Wood rat remains.  All those owls have plenty to eat.

Creeping Cside! gets the gas frowny face.

One thing that rubs a little: by the time you've packed enough stuff onto your ride to make your overnight stay "comfortable", you are heavily enough loaded that you may as well pack some more food/water/time on there and stay out for days. It hardly seems fair. That's the breaks, that's the breaks.

Look. The only person who is always willing to go on your shitty little adventures is you. Don't let yourself down by depending on other folks to make your fun happen. You know?


15 September 2013

California to Death

If you don't know, now you know: the Central Coast Cyclocross Series kicked off this weekend with a double-header. I have weaseled my way into getting to "work" the series for the shop. And, I loaned R__ my BOB trailer for a trip he was taking recently, and he comped the series fees (not a small cost @$35 per race), so I am well positioned for fun. It's taking a hit from my other better paying weekend gig, but I have not raced cross in several years, and I was feeling the lack. If you keep putting off something you like, one day you will be out of opportunities. Get it while you can. And, don't let other people get your kicks for you. Etc.

But first, take in this image of ye olde commuter in it's element (the commute):

 and, but, so a bike can be so many bikes! This is a straight-up race bike from 1989(?), and it will not be denied:

 yes, it rips up a grocery run or a ride to work. But, change hefty sprung stodgy black Brooks for hard matchy-match PINK Brooks, drop the baskets and swap the bar set-up (while retaining the ludicrous and potentially dangerously flexy Nitto Technomic) and voila. Race bike for real? I have listed "1989" as my sponsor for this series, and I feel it is appropriate. After this photo was taken I remembered the bag of horrible '80s bar-tape that J gave me, and splashed some neon yellow on the front end.

 And now, look at or skip some photos of "Fall" cross racing in California, where we gots another month+ of Summer...

 D_____'s race start on Saturday. There were a surprising (to me) # of kids' cross bikes at these races. Perhaps it is because he's moved up into a "real junior's category.

I have related already the lines about how friends in Colorado had ruined their children for skiing. By age 10 these kids are levels ahead of me, and are already over it because they felt like their folks "made" them ski. And how I had resolved to not do the same with my kids and cycling. And how, in spite of this resolve, I have "made" my kids cycle. And so it will come as no surprise that D, having been "made" to come out to the races yet again, was racing in name only. He was out for a ride. My heckling for him was "D_____, you are racing!" And his heckling to me, upon my shirtless sitdown after a sweaty return from a Bs mid-pack at best finish, was "Papa, do you think it's too late for you to get a 6 pack?" He means am I just coasting into the grave with no chance at fitness.

Well, he's good at heckling, anyhow.

That guy on the left is my favorite cross racer ever. He was not racing this time, but I used to see him all the time, racing cross looking like he was going out to mow the lawn in long shorts and white sneakers. No pretense, pure enjoyment. I love him. When I tell him this, he thinks I am odd.


 Saturday was run one way, and Sunday was run the reverse.

 10-14s going away...

 and coming into the 1st obstacle as a pack...

...and along comes D. Good times.

 Kids race for FREE at noon! Y'all should come out. The scene at cross races is muuuuch mellower and fun than any other kind of cycling event, in my experience. It's a nice community.

J______ was insistent that we water him, even though it was a lap. So we did.

 I had a nice time hanging out with the boys at the races. We helped some folks with their mechanicals, and raced for fun.

12 September 2013

Monterey: it is a scam

A question is posed. Possible responses: no, I got stuff to do instead, aren't you worried you'll get busted?, maybe- text me later, I'm tired, I don't have the proper gear, Hell Yes!

I like one of those.

These days, with my bike camping packing play so nearly complete and dialed, I find myself messing around for the sake of mixing it up. Just funkin around. For fun.

I was reluctant to pull the other Salsa Minimalist rack offa it's current berth on the fat bike, so I put the Pletscher rear rack on the Ogre, and loaded up some panniers with warm clothes, Kelly Kettle, Ti coffee press and cup, breakfast food, cans of beer, etc. Old school. Then I put a 100oz bladder on top (in the grey OR bag).

Well, that will be among the last of the funking around for fun with panniers, unless it be for quickly diminishing food supplies on long backcountry tours. The ride quality really does suffer compared to a frame pack. Really and for real. And the Pletscher, well, it did wiggle. The goofball Thermarest off the front? No problem except for ridiculousness, and we are past caring on that front. It did puncture, and me without a patchkit pushes me into loving a non-inflatable sleep pad. Not a whole lot to go wrong is alright.

Surprise! The 29+ Knard on a 50mm Rabbit Hole fits in the Ogre fork just fine, and the ride is better not all jacked up by the taller Krampus fork.

Rides like a bike.

Mr. P was the driving force behind a sneaky mid-week campout. On account of he just built a new bike. The All City (Macho Man?) turned out swell. Of course, Mr. P has made multiple mistakes on gear selection and in life; chief among them is the Revelate designs Viscacha seat bag. Or, as it might be known, the Revelate Designs Asscatcher. While I admire and use several fine products from Revelate, that one is dumb. If you aren't riding anything technical, OK. But if you are, then nope, you aren't. Because how are you getting behind the saddle with that all up in your business? Anyhow, his bike came out real nice. He even got meticulously busy with the drillium:

I am jealous! After it is ridden some, those little holes will set in so nice. I will be a copy cat, for sure.

So. In the beaten way of things, we loafed- bullshitted and drank beers- until we were well past our intended start and getting food for dinner (it's easier than cooking, and all the kids want the quick and easy) was going to eat up too much of our little remaining sunlight. Then I remembered that my rack was rubbing on the front tire because of the careless fork swap. So that ended up taking up too much of our remaining sunlight, instead. Dinner? Cliff bars and sunflower seeds for all my friends!

We did make it out and onto dirt before dark; even if it was only just. We arrived at the spot and set our gear down so as to ride a little in the unencumbered dark:

What is it about riding in the dark? As before, it is the mystery. Familiar trails become new and exciting; sometimes new and exciting enough to make you crash. All kinds of good noises are in the woods at night. The owls were getting after it with an old time hootenanny, and that is a party I enjoy. The moon was only 30%, but it was a waxing 30% and capable of casting shadows. We appreciated it even more because the night was warm (a rarity here on the coast) and we could see the tall bank of fog waiting in the wings and smothering the lights of town while we had gloriously clear skies above, right up until bed time.

That is the type of situation that could have been sub-optimal or even downright sucky (I have had one of the wettest and rottenest campouts ever in that very spot), but was elevated by the very same possibility of failure into a great success. I say it regularly: the best adventures are that because they require the real possibility of the worst (you know, aside from, like, sharks, explosions, and stuff) be faced. But, the only people who ever hear it are already out there with me. Someone choosing to stay in and watch their 32nd favorite rebroadcast TV show doesn't hear it.

No tents brung. No tents required.

Morning in the woods.

I had to get to work, and singletrack was on the way there.