Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

31 December 2014

jam it in!

But if it don't fit, don't force it just relax and let it go.

You know how we do. Some a y'all do it too.

We had to get in one last bicycle campout while 2014 is still going on. There was the trying to fit this on that, and the lubing all a the chains, and the pumping up all a the tyres, and the finding and then the packing of all the warm clothes (and some yelling about choosing for conditions, not for trends), and the piling and the winnowing and the loading and the time got away from us. It being Winter (OK, winter) the days are short.

So there was the jamming the rigs into the race van for the assist. L dropped me and the boys off at the top of the hill. It saved us an hour's worth of effort and strife. We coasted down on backstreets and bikepaths until we hit the automall.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

It is one of the Great Ironies that the quietest/safest bicycle route thru Cside(!)  is the service road thru the auto dealerships. Truth.

We were pared all the way down (for winter conditions)...

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

Why's the set-up like it is? Cuz it is. Sleeping gear for 4. The backpack on the front is loaded with clothes. It was fine, but we swapped that jacket for the other one and then it bulged down and rubbed on the front tyre. Solution: a stick, found roadside and braced under it.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

Racing the sun. Serious competitors know when the serious climbs begin, and that is the time to adjust layers while you can...if you got a sucker along who'll haul all a yer stuff for you? All the better.

You know it was dark by the time we reached the spot. As if it could be otherwise. Ha!

My sweetie had stuff to do and was to meet us at camp, but things will turn out differently than planned. OK, plan B. Then Plan C, where X marks the meet-up. I ended up riding out to escort her thru the dark woods on account of she is skeered. The boys are used to this sort of thing (not skeered), and remained hidden in the dappled woods like little curled up fawns awaiting the return of their stagnant parents? (Too much? It's reaching, I know) But what a nice cold night to be riding lightlessly along a trail! January 4th is the Full Wolf Moon, and it is wax on.

Traffic was insane, so further delay. I waited in the shadows for a quiet while. When L arrived, I pulled her bike out of the vehicle as she packed the take-out burritos. You can decide for yourself whether we are soft or we are smart. Dogs were barking. That means it is really time to leave. We got gone. Slipped out from under the streetlights and into the woods.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

Gross and awesome? Eh, it keeps out the riff-raff.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

Burritos and board-games in the woods...

We set up the new/never-been-opened (4person!) tent in the dark, like you are supposed to do. It wasn't bad. The Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL4 seems pretty nice. My crew prefers a tent- I do not. It's fine, preferable even, when there are bugs. Otherwise, I like being outside, and even inclement weather (Condors can testify! Driving hail? Etc.) is handled with a well-rigged tarp. Then you have some sight lines and some flow. My favorite is the stars for a roof. Every time I woke up, it felt like a room, not a campspot, even with the good moon and Oak shadows. Call me particular.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

Pure observation. No complaints can be made. Everbody was snugged up and warm on an adventure, even if only a wee little one.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

L got up early, having to be to work, so she and I rode out to her truck while the boys slumbered on.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

It was a cold camp (low of 31* and the sand was crunchy) in every sense of that phrase, and we packed up to get as quick as we could. I was not stoked when an early morning pair of cyclists rode by, since it's technically a stealth spot. But I had my hood up, so I was as incognito as a creepy guy crouching nearly trailside breaking down a camp can be.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

My team-mates helped half-heartedly, and then grab-assed whole-heardtedly.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

We rode out to meet N, who was picking us up in the race van. This nicely rounded our little fun with some soft car rides, sure, but check this out: whatever works. She drove us over to Red's Donuts (since 1954!) and when we got home we all enjoyed our "normal" breakfast waaaaaaaaaay more than if we'd a just walked out in our PJs rubbing our eyes. That's the real niceness of a small adventure- you are that aware of how Good you got it.

So long 2014. You were a good year.

Wha? Campout! Camp it now.

11 December 2014

I don't like ______, oh no. I love it.

Oh yeah.

1940s monster movie night scene

That one guy (the one who showed) and I slept outside on our local celebration of the full moon. It was cool, except that so and so crashed  and banged his shoulder on the Earth. If it's not obvious: riding with no lights and crashing are potential best friends. To quote Professor Griff, "consider yourselves...warned." We were pretty far in the bag at that point, as well as pretty far into the local trail system, so the logical course of action was to crack another beer and see how it went. His shoulder felt better after (imagine!) so on we rolled, concentrating on trucking right.


Morning arrived, as it will, and the shoulder pain with it. Being resourceful fellows, we rode out of the woods and over to the donut shop for extraction. On the way, we passed several of the local PRO hobos, and it was amusing to witness their reactions to our amateur/heavily-funded camping via bicycle steez. We were definitely noticed, and in a manner that smacked of peer review. Overall, I felt accepted; judgments were mild. We are all alive in this moment, and if some of us woke up in the woods as a matter of choice and others of us emerged from our tents behind the Staples in Cside(!) as a matter of circumstance, well there are parallels.

At home, after my foray into the local scene, I repacked my gear for the coming safari. That is to say, I filled a backpack with food for 2 nights/3 days of climbing up steeps in Henry Coe.


The overnight gear remained in place. I have referenced before the terrible unfairness of having to pack "everything" for just an overnight; how it is all too much. Weather conditions being the same, the only extras for multi-day trips are (more) food, water filter*, and perhaps more repairs stuff (ex. a spare tyre (not kidding))?!? I can't shake this irrational sense that the load on the bike should reflect the length of time out on tour. It's a problem with which I wrassle. So, and then the front end was all rackless (as you know) and all bagful. I have made adjustments to the lashing-on of the sleeping pad and the drooping/buzzing is eliminated, but I remain unimpressed. That seatbag is all Kelly Kettle (Never carry fuel again! But don't kid yourself- get the large model. You're already carrying the bulk, might as well go all in. TRUST me on this one thing) and flip flops. Yeah buddy, it's December. California...knows how to party.

All strapped up at the watering hole.

For off-road touring, I have been pushing the 29+, front and rear Surly Krampus, with3" Knards on 50mm Rabbit Holes. It's a solid set up for actual trail riding whilst loaded. This bike offers a lot of cushion in general, taking the edge off. The big float allowed me to wheelie drop the flow-stopping gap on Pacheco Creek Trail (so nice...) which  certainly would have remained a stifler for me on standard wheels, and allowed for some easy planing across washes floored with baby heads. I have considered the various merits of the Krampus vs. The ECR, and my kung fu is best practiced aboard a rally matchine.  Surly does offer a Krampus fork with more braze-ons, so my magic 8 ball says "signs point to yes" when asked if this is in my future...I can have my rack and you can eat it, too.

_odd's rig. 

My partner has his own "system". This go round, he front-loaded. Loss of traction while climbing was one result. We laugh at ourselves for doing this stuff with fair regularity and yet shifting our set-ups around so much. You'd think we would get good at this. Someday. Someday my set-up will be perfect.

Black Cat Bicycles custom front rack is pretty dialed, though...

One thing _odd has down pat is his snacks. I am so jealous when he pulls out the mango chutney?!? But then I forget all about it, and when packing my own foods I blow it. There is (usually- ask me about the powder sandwiches) enough, but it lacks pizzazz. My planning thus far has always been by meal. So I have a breakfasts bag, a lunches bag, and a dinners bag. Snacks are in they own bag, which is easily accessed. I was super hungry this trip. Noticeably. Maybe it was the cold, but I'm a change up my food prep. I think I'll pack by day. Seems like I will be more mindful looking at the day's worth of food rather than a big mash-up of breakfasts and another of lunches, etc. We will see.

Pssst. There is a whiskey stash at Drunkards' Knee (or Boozers' Roost, if you prefer).

Bring tools, do trail work.

I even have it written on my notebook, but do I remember it? Sometimes. So far, never for Coe, as I'm always flipping out about how to pack the seemingly mountainous pile of crap I end up with in order to just be able to swing being out there at all.

Well, Yes and Finally! _odd brought a pull saw. It's not much, but it does a lot. More than that, it creates a mindset such that stopping to deal with snags/blow-downs/etc becomes "what you do." We put in some pretty OK work. The trails we rode are the better for us having been there.

My new/current totem? A long-ass detour to a large bald eagle.

*the Platypus in-line filter is a neat tool. It is SO much nicer to fill a bag and trill rather than hunch waterside and madly flail away with a pump filter. Really. The "dirty" reservoir has it's outtake valve set about 20mm up from the bottom so particulate will settle below, and not clog the filter. Smart. Plus, you can forgo carrying extra bladders and use the "dirty" and "clean" required for filtering as your storage. Though I prefer the durability of a cordura sided MSR bladder, it is a feature worth noting.

05 December 2014

if you were from where I'm from then you would know

Party over here on the West side.

#Iamthepublicworksdepartment. If it's relevant to bicycles. I work out.

Big boys don't cry. Even faced with some rainy inconvenience, Big Boys adjust their layers and keep pedaling. The heavy stuff isn't coming down for a while. Going to work=riding. My mood, when I arrive at the jay oh bee is much improved by riding as opposed to driving. MUCH IMPROVED. Put on yer plastic and charge it.


I see the upturned 'shrooms tossed off the side of the trail. I know what that signifies.MotherFUCKERS . It signifies jackasses are out here in my home trial system IDing/falseIDing some, and tossing others cuz they are indicators. They reckon if I can't see any _______s (plentiful and poisonous) I won't think to look for ________s (fat, tasty, and healthy!) because they like the same conditions...and they cover up they pits to hide they tracks?!? Attempt to. I see this all as I hot and bother my way up the climb, getting to work.

I am in danger of being late(r) to work. So I skip that one section of trail in favor of pave quickness, and I see the first pair of the day trippers hunching along with their bags. Then I spy the unmistakable bright honey brown from the corner of my eye and grab the brakes. I've dropped the bike and am striding into the trees before I'm thinking- that familiar and dear splash of color has triggered the fever.


I am gripped. Several plump and hard little piggies reveal themselves to me. I have a knife, and I have a musette. I slice the 'shroom to leave the mycelium as undisturbed as possible. I tap out the (very)few bugs present and try to loosen some spores in the locale. Then I cover the hole. Hell yes, I play this game. Are you kidding me? Porcinis (Boletus edulis) are fucking delicious. Like a fatty distillation of the forest floor. If you know, then you know.


Plus, with the drought we been having...last year I saw zero (0) total. The year before, only 2. It is some much delayed and well-anticipated hoot out loud type Goodness. For reals.

The woods are full of kooks. I am late. I text my dudes and tell them what they already know and lie about how soon I'll show. My bike ride has shifted gears of it's own accord. I am incapable of speed. To be quick is to miss possible treasure. It is exquisite.


03 December 2014

messages of friendship

It's worth sitting thru the ad.

Hey people reading this: Drunk Cyclist invited me aboard. Since I respect their mission so deeply I am trying to pitch in on a party over there when I have something relevant to share. Please go check it out and stuff.

Hearts and flowers,

02 December 2014

to all my neighbours, you got much flavour

This is the Life we chose...we jumped off the block like ready, set, GO!

While my little homies don't call me Brainiac, Reverend Dick is a _______ and it ain't an act. With so much "specialization" (take it how you will) of bikes in this ya time, it is some refreshing Good Times to just get on a bike, any bike, and ride around with no particular place to go. Ask a child if you already didn't know.

One street leads to a trail which leads to...this time it was Point Lobos. Again? Because we live near it, it is an "easy" choice. It is also a very worthwhile choice. There is a lot to check out over there, even if they won't allow riding the trails in the park (lame!). There are some short, little-but-worthwhile trails along the shore leading to the highway section they are free to rally whenever, and those are what we took to get started. Riding HWY1 is no joke. So much so, I won't let the boys loose to make the trip unsupervised. When they are older and paying smart attention to traffic, I hope they are still interested in going. Because that is when I will allow it.

We rode in and the fellas wanted to keep heading West, so we wandered on over to the trailhead for Cypress Grove Trail, where the grouchy docent ("to all the bitches who think they bootylicious...") told the boys they couldn't climb trees on account of "it's a reserve". That's one way to dampen kids' enthusiasm for the out of doors. Shaking off the heavy school marm vibe, we rolled over to some other spots and checked out the Pacific Ocean and how wet it is, and how far out you can throw rocks into it, and how there's crabs in tide pools next to it, and etc.

 Bike punks with their bike pile.

It's plain to see. You can't change me. Cuz I'm a be connected to Life.

29 November 2014

temporarily present

One of the nicer idears about riding is the feelings it gives you all over. If you're having negatively oriented feelings, a local bike ride can be the catalyst for a reaction of feelings resultant in way more positive end state. You can quote me on that.

I mean a less local/more further afield type of bike ride will be more effective, but your local will work.

So, just be thankful...for what you got.

So, hey. Next Saturday is the 6th, and that's the Full Cold Moon. Dig in the scene with a little local sleepout in the woods that night? Alright, alright, alright.

25 November 2014

buying speed

On the other hand, I love stuff. Some stuff. Stuff that I love.

That category includes, but is not limited to: the delicate harmonies of the Louvin Brothers, DOING things that are fun (versus talking about same), the feel of the clunky while smoooooooth shifting Shimano Deore SL-M700 thumbshifters (I won't lie- the incongruity of these when paired with shiny modern componentry is a visual delight for me), the manageable heft and tradition of a 3' crosscut saw (with the add-on peg style handle for better 1 man use or real hott 2 person action), and these 29+ tyres are pretty fun.

So. Stuff and talk. I recently "finished" the Krampus build. I'd had the 29+ set up offset on the Pugsley as a trial and liked it waaaaaaaaay better for actual riding. The 4" fat tryes are just so piggy, it makes getting to trail heads not worth it. I do love them for the chunky trail stuff, but that's not everyday, people. And I've been riding the 29+ front wheel (with the dyno hub, because only a ashhole goes on adventures without a dependable light) to good effect with it jammed up in the Ogre fork. I'm pleased with the bike. It's fun. It floats pretty good.

The other day, I tried out the Revelate Designs harness I had gotten and never gotten around to slinging. One of the finer points of a small overnight is the opportunity it affords for virtually consequence-free gear trials. I was drawn to the harness because it seemed like (a good idea at the time) a practical way to lose the weight of the front rack for some hott off-road action.

the new:

2nd thoughts were thunk while rigging. I found myself looking over at the Ogre (yes, they's a lot of Surlys up in here...they work great and my builder has a back log) and thinking "I could just lash all this crap onto the front rack and hit the road", but I reckoned the fussing would be worth it and I'd get the hang of rigging this new buckle heavy jobber soon enough, etc.

the old:

I don't love the harness.

I used to could plop down the sleeping bag, the tarp, a ground cloth wrapped around my z-rest (I know, I got to get a smaller pad, but the z-rest is so foolproof, and I have no illusions about my foolishness), and have potential for quite a bit more. With the harness, I could wrap my sleeping bag, jerry-rig on the sleeping pad (all off the front and liable to shifting), and...that's it?!?  I also got the clip-on pocket, which is nice for ez access small stuff, but hardly makes up for the SIGNIFICANT decrease in haulage. And, plus the harness buzzed the tyre because it was "overloaded"?!?! I am finished with trying out this bit of gear, and will now move the rack over to this new adventure machine. Weight be damned. I can fit a case and a half on there, and it won't never hit my tyre.

But, friends, you know even a buzzy front end can't ruin a nighttime sneak over hill and dale through darkened streets and dewy trails. I called in my order to the taqueria because it was getting on to closing by the time I hit Cside(!). The matron there thinks I'm a weirdo for voluntarily sleeping in the woods, and this time she told me to my face. I laugh and cannot argue the point. Then I cross the street to the liquor store to validate it. My vacation is your worst nightmare being a DUI homeless man? 

Trails' end...

with the party all set to go. Sleeping bag beers are the best!

Woke up quick, at about sunrise.

When I got to the place, it was in a shambles. No less than 7 empty beer cans were scattered around, and there were candy wrappers on the ground. In all honesty, it could well have been us, as the last time we rolled through it was pretty far into the evening and details are...fuzzy. I hope it was, because that means the spot is not blown up. It is one of my favorites.

Finally, for all y'all who have been axeing if Satan is real...

Don't kid yourself.

17 November 2014

I've got to be free

Sometimes you need a reminder.

Sometimes you need a reminder. So, hey, queso, some folks wanna talk. They wanna talk about bike gear. They wanna geek out over gear, like what tyres you run, bro? What reeyums? They say they gonna build this with that, but you know what? That's all talk.

SO BORING. Shut up about your 800mm wide dream of future stuff. I don't- no one does- care about your stuff. Shut up about stuff. If you are a rider, you ride. If you are a talker...

28 October 2014

scientists, crooks, and laymen

In a massive ride scene shakeup this week, several comings and goings engender a flurry of local bike activity. Comments have been made, pedals turned, whiskey drunk.

Old School Part time Local YOc__ showed up for a few rounds of sleepless weekend ride/work/ride/work cycles. Mr. P represents the porridge that's just right though that doesn't represent him at all at's just that he's the middling bridge, neither old nor new and here all week. Then the FNG for this series, #bearglove, who stumble_ucked his way into the Night Ride intro(s) that'll ruin you for anything else.

It's funny/peculiar because we have been hitting the local Goods so hard we are at risk of too much fun, and it's because the motivation is so present. You know how it is when you can ride it whenever.

It will always be there.

You might as well stay in and watch that good and important television show, because- fuck it, there's all these opportunities just lining up to be took. Save the effort for a really perfect ride, and keep holding down your place on the couch. You got time.

Until you don't. I mean, sure, someday you'll die (wait- if I eat right and live in America, that's optional these days, right? right? amiright?) but that's not even in the picture. You might move away, though, from your good scene and easily accessible, friendly trails staffed by willing and known trail stewards and trusty ride guides. You might move away, and realize you miss the Goods. You might move away and realize you missed the Goods! Heading down to that one trail, or rolling up to the twisty stuff you heard tell of, and meant to...but didn't...yep, all those opportunities just will not wait.

It will always be there.

It will. But you can still miss it. Especially if you don't motivate to do it. So. With YOc___ back and willing (stoked, even) and Mr. P back and willing (like, really) and #bearglove lining up to knock em down before he no longer has these opportunities...well, I am the one who really benefits.

It will always be there. Go and get it.

20 October 2014

skilled devotees of one of the world's most exacting hobbies

Everbody got to love something. One of the the things I love the most is riding bikes. You may feel similar. And a further subset of Love is racing cyclocross. That is some kind of a hurtful Good Time, let me tell you. In spite of the impending collapse of predictable global weather patterns that is currently manifesting itself here in California as SERIOUS DROUGHT and which results in candy-assed conditions for cyclocross (sunny, and hot?!) the courses laid out by CCCX have been fun and challenging.

Last week's multiple barriers and series of punchy rises made for one type of racing (which suited my candy ass), while this week's had only the one barrier and a couple tiny punches with the deep-like-bottomless sand and the ripping road bits (not suiting my candy ass). As I was breathing down the neck of the racer/foe in front of me going into the woodchip/sand twisties, he lost it in the corner and I ran into his wheel...that guy apologized for crashing and blocking me. Lesson? Shit. Racing is chaos. I twisted my bars (old ass hella upright quill stem and wide OG WTB dirtdrops) in this incident, but it's a race! so I kept rallying with a 20* list to the left. Places were lost as we got ourselves sorted. This got me a little panicky-

Look. I KNOW it doesn't really matter, that it's just a local old guy B race with no Glory or accolades, and it bores even my own family, but. It does matter. In that moment it is a savage contest and I am in it to win whichever battle I can. Win one, chase down the next fool. Not in my category? Good. It means I'm moving up through the fodder. Fuck. Eat. Kill.

and being rattled will make you crashy. Yes, leading 3 clowns into the tight sandy switchbacks, I washed the front wheel and stuffed myself into the bushes. I should have taken those guys out with me to preserve placing? No mercy! But the clown immediately behind me yells at me to get up and get back on his wheel so we can chase down the clowns in front of us both?  Damn. I love cyclocross.

Well, I had twisted my bars 20* to the right in that one, but I jumped up and tried to chase- nope. I had to stop and manhandle them straight and then try to chase. Places were lost. Racers whose asses I'd handed to them last week were drilling me this week. I watched __ ride away consistently on the road bits and barely be able to bring him back, get pissy that I was "stuck" behind him on the techy stuff, and then have him stick the knife in again when we returned to the road bits. Round and round we go. I was simultaneously pissed that he kept attacking (and I couldn't answer) and admiring that he had such ability. Ability on the smooth flats, but real lack on the punchy accelerations and the tech stuff?  It's a puzzler, the love and the hate.

Because that's what it is about. Love. Chivalry. Pageantry.

At the cyclocross sports game, you will find spectators hollering at crash victims to shake it off and get back in the race, giving time splits to teammates and their rivals alike, cheering anybody. Cowbells. Boobs (well, some man-boobs were shown anyhow, and we can hope it takes off). Fireball handups (which, that awful cinnamon "whiskey"will make you seriously consider throwing up for a lap or so). Etc. The people there are there because they are participants, not simple gapers. Everybody understands what it takes to ride the dang thing, slow or fast, and there is the community because of this.

At the end, after chasing and chasing and never catching, I was able to pass this one guy in a sprint to the line. He knew I was coming, and when I pipped him his exclamation of dismay was all the victory required.

Savages. Finding meaning and satisfaction in the dust.

15 October 2014

spirits refuse to fade away

but they will rotate, so's to prevent stagnation. Stag nation. Like it's comrade, Rust, it never sleeps but it also don't work as hard so you can beat it if you're willing to put in a little effort.

It's October Break (you know- when the kids get a week off of school) and we ain't got the resources to ride the highline thru the Himalyas, tour the Continent's finer salons, or explore the most picturesque of the lesser known slot canyons but. BUT. We can discover the wonders of nature, rolling in the rushes down by the riverside. A quick and dirty overnighter way down Arroyo Seco way?

That's all you had to say.

The stripped downest of trips. The kids all carried they own sleeping gear, no extras (i.e. folding camp chairs, 2 burner stoves, cast iron dutch ovens, or the like as per past trips), and we had the barest of food set ups...means poppa can forgo the big Big Dummy, and we can all fit in one car for the drive out to the trailhead. Yes, they are unwilling to ride the 45 miles to the ride. Soft.

The weather has begun to turn, (though central California is never that cold) and we don't love the yahooery that runs rampant at the "gorge" anyhow, so it was an easy unanimity to keep rolling rather than head down into the shadows and the yelling in favor of keeping on towards the sunshine and the quiet.

So after all that, there is the this:

And you can lounge creekside in the hammock hoping the beer fairy shows up...

11 October 2014

paradigm of self-effacement

So my achilles tendon had been bothering me pretty good after the #2 CCCX race (followed by the long grinder road ride the next day, duh) and I been staying off the clipless pedals and wearing shoes that don't grab my heel, etc. Also, I been using the Roll Recovery R8 (totally recommend!).

Result? I'm feeling much better. As I dip my toes in the deep end of trying to age gracefully*  (just turned 46?!) I find an increasing need to stay on top of "minor" body issues in order that they not become "major" body issues. If that don't make sense, wait will eventually.

Anyhow, I go to the races "for work", and not racing is a drag. Seeing everbody out there suffering, and hearing the post-race tales of glory with no stake in the matter is sad making. Today, I felt better enough to mix it up. I even warmed up for the first time ever, and I think that made a real difference. I try to always pre-ride the course (not a given), but never an actual warm up, and always a sneer for the goons on their trainers. Well, as usual, the joke's on me. That stuff is legit.

I felt good, the course suited me, and in spite of dropping my chain twice (surprise! coast along one handed and fit it back on while getting passed...) on account of my questionable decision to ditch the front stuff for a 1x set-up with a played out short cage XT from 1993 and half a reflector bracket for a "keeper", well I finished pretty good. What a fun day: self-inflicted punishment, the crushed dreams of my rivals, pinatas, squirt guns, yep.

I got home and told the wife how I'd placed, and she asked out of how many people overall. The hurtful joke continues...

Hey. Really do check out that Roll Recovery business. It is helpful.

*remain able to do all kind of kick ass fun stuff.

06 October 2014

more, more, more

Yo. Is you certain your shit is enduro enough? Be your post mounts as flush as they will have to be? Do you have the latest in thru axle technahlogy? Can you an early adopter of the most modern of electrical plastisized drive train freAK OUTS?

Then you might want to consider what you wanna to do with your life.

You do what you do because you want to. We do what we do because: A) Bob fucking told us to B) it seemed like a good idea at the time 3) wut? D) the terrain in these yere parts is rolly and sandy with some sections of rolly sand. You can ride whatever you want wherever you want, so long as you ride to the ride. What ride?

The FULL MOON FUCK YOU, FUTURE FREAKOUT. Wednesday night, October 8th, on account of that's when the moon is full. Meet at the graveyard at 6:30PM for sunset beer(s) (look for the kooks drinking beer(s) by bicycle(s) if you are uncertain as to which specific gravesite) and we will roll- by S___'s in Cside to pick him up cuz he is lazy- on to the place where the trails begin.

I am riding a singlespeed, because they are cool. You ride whatever your wrong choice happens to be. Bring some good hooch, because the only stuff out there is that awful Crown Royal.

DRUNK and fast. No babysitting, no submitting.

Word is out.

23 September 2014

guides you through uncomfortable questions...

I don't need to know everything. Neither do I want. Secret stuff stays secret if folks don't say anything about it. So the minute you start running your mouth about riding ____ ______, is exactly the minute I regret* ever having said boo. What's the first rule of any club?

Hanging out with 9 year olds has certain advantages. They are generally down for a Good Time, and I respect that. We did some "stealth" camping last week which I am sure blew up our spot- the close one- for good. The poor old gal walking her fancy dog was surprised to see hobos invading her neck of the woods, is all I'm saying. Lesson (finally?) learned- time for a new and more tucked away spot.

That picture above is the neighborhood peloton rolling deep down HWY1 to Point Lobos (where they disallow bikes on the trails, sadly...though the roads are pretty mellow it being a state park and all. And where we need to really suss out the legitimate camping opportunities really and for real) like a gaggle of tentative baby ducks. We had a nice time.

The ride is about 1/3 dirt, too. And of course, right next to the Pacific if you are into that.

I have collected some odd bits and fashioned them into a 24" rough stuff roadish bike for J. Super jerry rigged Schwinn Sprint (c.1980?), so a tank fo sho, but and hecka sweet, He rallied it down the loose seaside singletrack. 24" is stable as hell. He's feeling the drops out. So far so good.

Bikes. Bike rides.

Also, I finally got J____ S____, long time shop supporter, to come out and see what his AWOL can do...he got his eyes opened, and so did I as to the magicality of getting around by bike. You forget, being immersed in it, that biking for transportation and adventure are the same. He was so blown away that he's lived on the Monterey Peninsula (a real scenic place) for 20someodd years and had no idea about the routes we took, nor the ease with which we took them (no cars on trails and fireroads...).

And I keep listening to this:

because it's good.

*Regrets? I've had a few. I wished I'd a stuck to the old ways and never said anything out loud. All communication about the off-piste is handled with waggled eyebrows and jerks of the head. Then nobody is the wiser that there even is a secret much less, wonders what it might be...

Anyhow, my motto has become: I might show you, but I'll never tell you.

16 September 2014

consequences turn real

Small fishes in small ponds feeling the ripples from afar.

We got cross races locally. They are fun and we are fortunate. I remember first becoming aware of cyclocross in 1996, when it was the next big thing in the US cycling scene. I got ahold of a Nishiki tourer and called that a Good Time. Cyclocross has gone through a couple more next big thing phases stateside, and seems (from my view out the puddle) to be slowly, increasingly enjoyed. Yay! Cyclocross bikes are fun, maing!

I began racing once we moved out here and hey, there is a local series. It is the least ego-driven-sunglasses-contest of any racing I've witnessed. The "fans" are all racers in a different category or loved-ones. Who else is going to waste their time out there? And because the fans are participants in an oddball aspect of an underdog sport, they get it.

All that to preface this: throwing beers on folks (who aren't into) it is lame. We got squirt guns in tubs of water at the series this year, and they are the good ones. They are also all clearly labelled "DON'T BE A JERK- ONLY SQUIRT YOUR FRIENDS." And that's just water.

Of course, they's also a pinata...which I was prevented from filling with thumbtacks and angry bees.

10 September 2014

a puppet for forces greater than myself

What do you do with a couple consecutive days off, some nice weather and a full moon, and a bunch of losers for friends who won't go on a mini bike tour with you? Yes, that's right. You just pack up and go by yourself.

Heading straight out the valley with 2 wheels and a gangster lean, I rolled along on the Surly Ogre with the fattish front end on account of I was heading for some dirt along the way...

I stopped because it was hot. I was tired. There was shade. I had a swap the bar ends from their aero position to one that would help with climbing. Etc.

It was all timed so perfectly. I hit that good corner just at moonrise. That was a fine spot to stop and savor. What a glorious evening. What a fine harvest moon. What enchanting prospects for cool, quiet climbing in the silvery light.

I don't know when was the last time you scavenged dropped-in-gravel BBQ flavored Cornnuts (I won them at the bike races!), but I reckon that's the last time you were really living. To be so wrung out and hungry and in such an environment...well, it's a genuine pleasure.

After lounging and savoring and appreciating and getting stiff and cold, I climbed the old dirt road for the next hour or 2 and it was just me and the moon. My wife says she would never ever go out there alone, and I understand. The first several times I was solo in the back of someplace, it was scary and I slept poorly. But nothing bad happened. There's no monsters. Mountain lions don't want to eat me. And stuff. By now, it's not a thing. I do enjoy the company of others, but there is a lot to enjoy solo as well- quiet, relaxed pacing, relaxed schedule, flexibility. So climbing up that road in the dark (I leave my lights off to appreciate the moonlit goodness) was real fine. Eventually I reached the spot and stopped. Just a sleeping bag and the sky for a roof. I sleep very lightly when I'm by myself, but it's not a bother. It's another opportunity to look around and know I'm where I am and be glad of it.

The spring. So much flow. When I got there, the plastic basin some smart guy left was full of gnarly algae and dead bees. I dumped it out and put my pots and a water bottle in there, hoping they would be close to full in the morning. And they were, plus plenty. The water tasted...earthy.


Whatever ate this little fox was hungry. It even turned the face inside-out to get at the ear muscles!

All that is downhill. Happily downhill. But it does lead to a long and hot and long and hot and long crawl over to a substantial, though shady, climb. I found myself breaking the day into stages, but then there were the in-between-stages stages, also. You have a lot of time to think about minutiae on a long and hot and long crawl. For example: how I don't love the bar ends at all. They were not very useful as aero bars, and they're not very comfortable as bar ends, and I don't like the enclosed sensation at my hands, nor the reduction in bar width. I removed them for the final descent. To maximize my steering and promote a more positive end feel.

Bikes. Bike riding.

The thing is, if you wait for your buddies' plans to coincide with yours then you may be waiting for quite a while. Why wait?

08 September 2014

a Valentine from a politician

Worth as much as the paper on which it's printed. That sums up this blog, and it accounts for all your race results, too. Don't kid yourself- if it ain't ____ it's worth less. I fill in that blank with the word "FUN", you do what you want since you will anyhow.

It was off to the races, in with a shout, and ending with a whimper. I will allow I considered vomiting as a real option at one point. That sand pit(!), and the barriers at the top of the climb (especially the staggered 3rd...)? Dastardly. I enjoy that shit. Cyclocross racing (the riding never stops- it's the perfect bike for these parts!) is here again, and we cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war. Battle! I am a very middle of the pack racer, but. But, I love a battle where I find it. I enjoy stuffing people in the corners wherever possible. I find a deep satisfaction in kiping someone else's clean line. It pleases me to hear the grunts of effort and despair in my wake. I am sad when people come from behind and I cannot answer. There is joy in barbed heckles.

Where were you when we filled the tub of water with ice from the cooler and blasted the racers with stream machines (shoots up to 70'? lies. But it will hit a mean 15' in the face. You know, if you're OK with it. Don't wanna ruin any strangers' or contenders' race...)? What were you doing instead of waiting to pile on the goodie spray as the As swung their fists at the orca pinata? We stuffed it with 80's NIB flouro bar tape, cowbells, coozies, tootsie pops, and corn nuts. A couple pairs of gimme plastic sunglasses which, surprisingly happily survived the bashing. And we waited. We waited until the As for that stunt, thinking they are the ablest bike handlers, but it's a double-edged pinata bat on account of how serious they tend to take the racing part of the race...maybe Bs next time.

So. CCCX#1 went well. Back at it next week. If you hear this:

know that's us and come join the party.

06 September 2014

hot pants

It has been said, and that truthfully, that September Cross sucks. But, wait! It's September Cross starting tomorrow...and that is not gonna suck itself. So if you are around California's balmy central coast, then get your ass stuffed all up in something tight and take it to the races tomorrow for some hard men of the 65-72degrees and sunny action. We got some fun planned.

05 September 2014

in the interest of clarity

Full disclosure. Fully.

Apprentice mechanic assumes he knows what he is about and takes on projects above his skill level. Takes them on on his own.  Let's say, for example, it is  a ~$9,000 (US dollars) carbon on carbon on carbon road bike with carbon. Predictably, things turn to shit. Apprentice mechanic is gently taken to task by experienced mechanic (which, I am amazed at the gentleness shown) and apprentice mechanic attempts to blame it on the torque spec. This is proven to be a mistake on the part of the apprentice in confounding 2 different steps/bits of hardware. Additionally, apprentice mechanic does not appreciate the actual feel of a torque spec, the elbow torque if you will, so- sure, 300in/lb seems reasonable for an aluminum dustcap in a carbon crank. Etc.

If I were managing this...not clown, but say carnie and feel fair...there would be at least a moratorium on high end jobs. A gut check on the level of competence required prior to working again on high end jobs, and (depending on the attitude exhibited*) a more forceful discussion regarding the importance of maintaining  PROfessional standards at a shop which accepts pay for work.

But. I just work here.

*late edit: apprentice had an appropriately humble response. Good. Lessons learned for all my friends!

01 September 2014

immunity from ridicule

Beyond whatever pale you got. There's a good spot out there, somewheres. My roommates and I went looking, and we found one. Nowadays we know right where it is- about 15 miles from HQ. We take the back ways whenever possible, on account of they are less trafficky and more quiet.

Everybody fusses before we leave. The boys fuss because they know what kind of effort they have in front of them, and I fuss because the this and the that aren't where they "should be" and a strap pulled off, and this part needs adjusting and that one needs lubing, etc. I am a crabby packer when I am trying to concentrate and answer questions and give directions all at once. I have realized I am not great at multitasking (mul tit asking?) At all. Eventually we get all sorted and roll out. On the road, all these irritants blow away. It is time to settle in.

D is in a growth spurt, so he's a hard fit on his bike(s) right now. And he is extremely reluctant to adopt an efficient/aggressive bike stance- he wants to sit upright and slouch with his giant flipper feet square over the pedal. He test rode his mama's Xcheck and didn't want to ride it because of (half foot)toe overlap. After some (more) instruction (again) he got it and that bike fits him best and is quick rolling. It is hard to talk to him about riding because I get frustrated that he can't remember basic instructions (like how to take a front wheel off). He doesn't care to learn is the issue. I try not to flip a switch (it should be fun) and I succeed maybe half the time. So he pouts and I say "too bad. You're doing it." Hopefully the fun is enough to overcome the "this is hard." Time will tell.

This route is the same as the last route. J was sad that we juuuuust missed the fruit stand hours of operation. We rolled over to the taqueria and they know us and our order and how we like our burritos in foil, not the cardboard to-go box because they're more packable that way. We stopped at the sundries store and got a glass jar to stash some candy out there. We learned to store sweets in glass after the ants crawled under the wrappers of the Tootsie pops that one time and all that was left was an empty balloon of wrapper and stick. We crossed the street and picked up some tall boys of Modelo (gettin' fancy) and some Skittles.

Stopping at a high point to drink a nice cold beer, I put my jacket on straight away. There was a good on shore breeze, and being sweaty- that'll chill you quick. J followed my lead and then D. After a few more minutes standing around speculating, they had theirselves a yard sale:

I laughed and laughed. Off with the shorts and on with the pants...

and the ninja.

I ordered this handlebar setup from Revelate a while back, and am only now getting it out for a shakedown. Well, I been so complacent with the (already installed) porteur rack. Anyways, it's a process. It does mess with cable placement, and I now know you gotta pack a smaller bag in closer to the bars or your brake finger action is impeded. I reckon I'll use the bag on my sporty bikes and slap the rack on this Big Dummy because cargo bike. I carried all the boys' stuff in order to make hard effort as fun as possible. Also, I really, really like the big front end, but I feel like I'm wearing that ($pendy) tyre out too quickly by rolling around on so much pave on the get to and from, so I'll switch back to regular and save that for the real trail rides.

When we arrived at the place, the light was fading and we had to get our set-up set up. The boys were hongry, so they began eating whilst I set up the tarp. Which, that is a time suck. I asked/told  D to set up the hammock meanwhile...and he sucked his teeth and threw up his hands (the irritants all come rushing back in!) indicating that he was busy eating his burrito and what the F. Oh man, does that put me in a tailspin. I explained the importance of helping your family/team and how that helping will be appreciated by anyone he ever hangs out with for his whole life versus how laying back and expecting things to be done for him will not be appreciated, etc. Also, if the hands get thrown up again, ever, there will be some hands being thrown. Some new attitudes (freshman in high school) are being taken out for a test drive and I will see that shit STOP. Generally he's a great kid.

Moving on from parent rant. Check this out:

I picked up some ENO party lights (your LBS can get you some) and, wow, are they neat. There was plenty of light for Risk-the game of world domination.

Fog will drop a lot of water when it does, so we all slept under the tarp.

You already been knowing how the Kelly Kettle boils water for coffee and for oatmeal...

and how to fashion a bowl from a used tallboy.

29 August 2014

king dingle dangle

"The price of anything is the amount of Life you exchange for it." - Henry David Thoreau

CCCX 2014 cyclocross is happening quick. Sunday September 7th!

I've got a feeling this will be a fun go-round...

24 August 2014

over and over

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...

There's trains and there's trains.

17 August 2014

emerge unscathed

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.

14 August 2014

come away with a different point of view

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.

Finally, as a wise ass in a seedy bar once asked Mysterious B___ S_____ and myself: Do you even ride bikes?

*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.

13 August 2014

in the future

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.

Summer is done, but we are not.

12 August 2014

lies and hype

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.

11 August 2014

you are your own master

Hit me.

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.

06 August 2014

skull dump

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...

Risk! When I was a boy we spent days over that board. It is still engaging, and especially so in the woods at night.

We've been keeping up pretty well with the (attempted) weekly camp outs. They don't know I'm hardening them up so they are able to go farther and farther, but that is what is happening here.

04 August 2014

everthing you could think of

Step 1)* establish a "base camp".

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?

*sorry. I had to do it.

03 August 2014


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.