Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

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.