Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

31 May 2014


If you could you would.

Fort Ord is a hot and sandy mess right now, and getting sandier. Charge that line, keep your weight centered, keep the bars centered, stay off the front brake, GO! You will bury that front wheel and stack it up/pack it in, all tangled in the front end, dirt in your mouth...that is a given. You will get up and spit out the sand thru a smile? That is a maybe. You tell me.

There is other riding to be had around these parts, but it doesn't bear writing about for several reasons. Lots of info should not be easily obtained nor posted on the ineverbody'sbusinessternet. Boys at the shop STRAVA all day about their training rides. Alright for some. Me? I'll be off in the shadows, under the radar, into the Good Stuff.

In questionably publishable news, my very own boys and meself are working at keeping our side up. Weekly (attempted) bike campouts are happening. Blogger is a real pain in the ass these days in re to posting photos, so just imagine the blacked out eye bars a la 50s stag movies...

We forwent a campfire this go round on account of it's a bust. We need a better spot. I've been keeping these easy as we build up to venture further afield. There's only so much fun you can extract out of a school night, anyways...

The new tarp is proving itself worthy. J requests it. I think sleeping roofless is still wracking his nerves a little.

Sleepy boys wake up in the woods, at 5:30AM, on a school day. I count that as a win.

Better than a bus ride!

They have no idea how good they got it.

We headed over to the Bagel Bakery for breakfast and then onto school. Just like it were everyday life.

27 May 2014

every man his own horse

We used to laugh so hard at this. Except for the dope beat, no laughing at that. 

Whole lot a whoa. Some road tyres (venerable [for a reason] Panaracer Paselas 35F/32R) mounted on the cross bike for a down and dirty hot lap of the Monterey Peninsula's hottt spots. Sunshine, short sleeves, stretchy pants. Putting the wood to the legs, tracking down the Good Times. They are out there, down that one trail, around the corner and up the street a ways.

Word on the street trails is this spot is due for some stools. The New Stairs is the New Caprock Bar? Makes sense to me.

All kinds of sandy corners getting sandier, getting deeper. With the slicks, you think the getting is good on the road (it is, the sweeping swoops and the maximum speed for effort)...try leaning into the different tactilities of dirt. It is exciting!

24 May 2014

perfect for naptime

Same old same old. Old.

I got to get out of town and ride something other than the same trails.

You can keep an interest by keeping a hand in via trail maintenance. Kind of. I, for one, ain't skeered (remember all that No Fear bullshit in the 90s? all your current "styles" are tired rehashes of dumb trends from the past. "2nd place is the 1st loser" et al.) of the poison oak and know that it is vulnerable to strikes at the joins...even light taps with whatever switchy branch is lying about will take off shoots. Saws are more interesting, and I've taken to carrying the pull saw on the commute. "My" trails are immaculate?

FWIW, that's the oooooold SS, the Soulcraft from 2001 all fixed up so there's no coasting and the head tube length is accommodated using a road stem from Hunter Cycles shimmed with a Coors can to fit the 25.4mm MTB bar. It works. A fellow has to get his kicks when and how.

17 May 2014

your life will have a tragic end

Everything ends in tears. You know what begins with an edict? Family bike campouts.

So much fussing. Even with the edict having been issued (decreed?) with a week's notice, there is the fussing. (You try having a teenage daughter.) In my kingdom, the fussing leads to the yelling. Eventually it all settles in, and even the teenage daughters have a Good Time. I wish it were possible to skip straight to that point, but it is sorely clear to me that the process is required.

There are no electronics allowed. Make your own fun is strictly enforced. This is a must- card games, conversations via face-to-face speech, rope swanging, chopsticks, etc. do not occur in the presence of the texting. True fact.

For this week's campout we opted to drive towards the trailhead. Well, so we could keep it short. We parked on the outskirts and rode in to the camp spot from there.

Again with the Big Dummy. I put the new side loader bags on several months ago, and I've come to appreciate the updated features. More and better closures than my OG Xtracycle bags (c. 2002), which were used hard and badly sun damaged anyhow. When packing a load, I'm with Big Dummy. Anytime Surly wants to let the 26" Dirt Wizard tyres out, I'll be happy to try them on the front. The more cushion and stability on that bike the better. Light load for the overnighter:

just 5 people's sleeping pads, bags, and food. The kids like it better when L___ comes. I think because it feels more like a family outing than something I have forced them to do. Yes, I know there is no difference- but they don't.

While the family was eating their takeout burritos (the quick and easy...), I climbed a tree and tied up the rope swing like the boys and I had discussed last time.

It works.

Posted up fireside. Also note: we made sure the fire was OUT. We poured several water bottles worth over the coals, stirred the ashy mud, and finally scattered the area's litter (oak leaves and grass seeds) over the site. You cannot tell we were ever there. This matters.

N___ tried the hammock.

We got up and on the trail pretty quick, since we had to be at Red's Donuts before they ran out of the good ones...

15 May 2014

always keep one step ahead of yourself

Waking up on bike tour is a delight. Solo is even more delightful in some ways. You can look around, see that the sun is headed your way, the birds are awake, and decide to keep sleeping. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat, until the sunlight heats your bag and you have no choice but to get out of bed and make some coffee.

That blackened stump has been out there for several seasons now.  We set it alight accidentally back when we were using the Esbits. It is a reminder to be careful with fire. I pulled it out of the woodpile for use as a stove base (again), but this time I soaked it first.

I enjoy using the Kelly Kettle. I like the ritual of gathering and busting up little twigs, which don't seem like much and yet there it is- your first boil in 5 minutes. It's quiet. Solo, you can lollygag your morning with an extra round of coffee, and not even think about other people's unspoken agendas. You all have them.

You can waste your precious time lounging in the sun, eating breakfast at a leisurely pace, and speculate with the map about potential loops from camp sans gear.

Someone had left this deer skull in the tree next to the fire ring, but I thought it would have more impact mounted on the cabin porch and covered in wildflowers...

I settled on a fun route and hung my gear up in the shower with a note asking folks to leave it unmolested. Then it was hottt climbing, only with the feelings of extra power. When you are solo, you can also feel fast.

Seems like every time we are out there, I kick myself for not having tools for trail maintenance. This time was no exception, but I did put some work in by hand. I think it will help a little. No one can do everything but everyone can do something. Thank you! to all the volunteers who put in the good work on those trails.

The dried creek beds were full of deerweed/California Broom (Acmispon glaber) and surrounded by fields of CA poppies, and lupines in shades of purple, blue, yellow, and white. The buckeyes are going insane and smell wonderful.  It was some real grasswhacking singletrack, but the ticks were not bad at all. For Coe. The bugs are out, but not bad yet. I have itchy ankles from mosquito action in the early evening. I reckon another week and the flowers will be all gone; it looks like last week would have been ideal.

I'll take what I can get.

I like these mariposa lillies (Calochortus venustus).

I also appreciate, for name alone (?), the wally baskets a.k.a. Ithuriel's spear, a.k.a. grass nut (Triteleia laxa). See also the white globe lily, a.k.a the fairy lantern (Calochortus albus).

My gear was still hanging when I got back. It is such a luxury to have that cold shower! Hell yes, I took advantage of it. After lunch I packed up and began tying the fun singletracks together in as fun an exit as I could devise.

There is a lot of good hillside singletrack out there.

I saw this Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus) about 6' before I ran it over. At speed (hella), all I could do was unweight the wheels as much as possible and let out a quick, shrill scream. I stopped and checked it out. It seemed totally unfazed. The range of coloring for these is surprising, and I really like the colors on this one. I guessed it to be about 24" long. I was glad not to have harmed it. Snake magic.

What a fun trip. "Jumping" the snake would have been ...better with a podner, and illustrates the wisdom of traveling with (capable) friends, but damned if the whole thing wasn't a Fine Time. I came home dirty, salty, and tired. That makes me appreciate the home life as it should be appreciated.

13 May 2014

back stage passes

See me after class for the actual best way into the interior of Henry Coe. Climbing is a given, but there are ways and there are ways. Behind turning a lot of corners, and pedaling, Pacheco Camp is only a afternoon away, after all.

I crumbled Sunday after work, and did not make it happen. Soft. Looked out the window at that upcoming Full whicheveritis Moon, knew in the moment I was blowing a great and rare opportunity, and went right on crumbling. I completely turned it around on Monday, though- left super early in the afternoon. Right at the crack. I kicked myself about it then (it don't bother me now, though) because it is delightful to ride open trails beneath the silvery moon, and the chances are at best 13 in a year's worth.

It's only riding bikes.

My personal bikepacking configuration is ever adapting. I don't use some calcified "system" that locks me in to a "right" way of doing things. With the Revelate frame bag, if I'm thoughtful, I can fill all the nooks and crannies and fit a surprising amount of kit in there. If I ever meet that guy, I'm shaking his hand- he has changed the way I use bicycles to the good. Having the weight in the frame, rather than wiggling away outside the center of gravity, allows for way more ripping. Way more. I felt like I really nailed it this time, but I could have brought more beers and some whiskey if I'd a been willing to suffer a pack (temps in the 90s?! No thanks). As it was, I strapped the sleeping bag to the barends I have mounted aero style. It's an old Slumberjack tube style stuff sack that I'd never used before, and it is pretty OK for that use. Makes me want a tubular dry bag. I strapped the tarp swaddled sleeping pad to the underneath of that, and then of course things began acumulating...

After all the hot and sweaty, Pacheco Camp has a shower!

Post shower, the hardships began. I had plenty of light left to walk around and hassle the local turtles (the Pacific Pond Turtle Actinemys marmorata- which could be my totem for Henry Coe, because "though slow and plodding, pond turtles are capable of impressive movements", I reckon they travel from swimming hole to swimming hole, and they have some impressive claws. There was time to eat a burrito packed in from El Frijolito, in keeping with Coe tradition. Still time to set up for the campfire, etc. And it was after my campfire tallboy that I really felt the lack of a shot and another beer. No one can have everthing. I consoled myself by sleeping out of doors between 2 oaks (to keep the very bright moon at bay) in the specially comfortable vortex that is Pacheco Camp. I really like it there.

When I first began sleeping outside alone it was scary, even with a tent. I'd wake up a lot, with all the little noises potentially scareful. No way past it except through it. These days, while I remain vigilant, it's pretty alright. I'm comfortable sleeping out under the stars solo. You hear a lot more when you aren't talking. It's worth doing.

10 May 2014

take your thrills unashamed

This is a notice: Summer has snuck right up on Central Collyfornya. What last week was lush and green is, as of this writing, now drying fast and browning quickly. You thought it would last.

Stop fooling around.

Go get some before it is gone. We were riding the trails (#where is Big Sur?) last week, when it was green, and the lupines were so exploded it was all you could do to keep breathing. Every breath a headful of floral. Just so nice. To that end, I'm slipping away tomorrow evening after work to attempt to catch some of the floral glory in Henry Coe. You should put off your busy work for a couple days and meet me at the usual spot. Supposedly in the 90s next week, so that will be the last chance for green in 2014.

Spent some time seeding the party spots out at the Ord yesterday after work. I could get used to this extra daylight. Checked on the beers stash over on 49, and it remains well hidden 4 inches from the singletrack. That trail is busted down the back side, though. All the corners are blown out and brake bumped and sandy/getting sandier. Bummer time sand pits.

To answer your question, it is a "wake". Also, a committee, a venue (?), a kettle, or a volt.

 (It's as though I'm a dangerously balanced eccentric, taking photos of birds while styling, profiling, lounging in my leather seat? )

What else is there to do on a Friday night after boozing it up on the trails? The ShadowBox is on the way home after all. I truly enjoy that bar. The Glen Thompson Band was set up by the shuffleboard table, and the keyboardist was really something else. I received an extensive amount of heckling from the older gentleman to my right for paying for my beer with coins. It was all I had left by then, after high rollering it at the in-the process-of-remodeling Terrace Liquors (no one likes change) to stock all them hidey holes (aside: if you need help finding your flat-backed position on the bike, you should practice by hauling 18packs in a musette. It'll get you there.). After apologizing to the barmaid, I admitted it was ridiculous and he just kept telling me "that's your Life". He is right, and it is a fine one. And after this ribbing he went to hit on the mature ladies with a ring on every finger (yes, thumbs too). He was one of those guys who sits at the bar with all their $1s fanned out in front of them, and I don't get that. Maybe it's just to differentiate him from the lowlifes who scrounge for change. It is also worth noting the 600lb guy in the bowling shirt on my other right, who was surprised and pleased (if an impromptu fist bump is an indicator) when I sincerely thanked him for smoking, like in a real bar. He was one of several. This is California in the 21st century and the ShadowBox has ashtrays on the bar. I hope it never changes.

You know what to do. Do it.

06 May 2014

there're only _ things in life that make it worth living

Ain't nobody feeling no pain.

Getting back to the basics of love can be handled any number of ways. We find bikes to be a access point. In keeping with our imaginary non-binding pledge to try to attempt a campout once a week, the boys and I headed out Sunday night for a stealthy schoolnight bike campout. Make an anachronysm out of that, why don't you?

In the interest of speed, we pared the load all the way down close to the bone. Sleeping stuff only. A take-out sandwich for dinner and the plan to get up and at it coffeeless and early for breakfast. Bold choices are required in certain circumstances.

We took the long way up the hill (it's dirtier) and wandered some on some trails until coming to the spot along my commute at which I'd hidden some beers last week

...because it's pretty much always a good idea to have some options. D_____ self IDs as a skater (he's all about that Skate Life), so pretty quickly the romance was over and I offered to take his pack in an attempt to maximize the enjoyment for him (he's 14). What the heck, it's fun for me regardless. I got a big dumb bike, pile it on. I tried to get J______ to give me his pack (he's 9), and he got offended and told me "NO. I'm not trying to add to your weight." Now, he is a pleaser, and given to the gratuitous ass-kissing, but the fact that he looked at it in those terms made my Grinchy heart swell. Later, when he was hot and red, he agreed to dump his pack on the Big Dummy.

Part of the choice for this week's location was showing the boys what is available to them, from their door, in terms of self-powered adventure. They don't need me to guide them on these trails. It's close enough, with safe enough traffic on the access, that it is wide open for kids.

And so this whole weekly campout scenario is a fine idea however you approach it, but not least on account of my skills are so rusty that I plain forgot to set up the new Crazy Creek Big Tarp* (used to good effect by C___ the machine on the Condor Tour and available thru QBP at your local bike shop!). I just popped a top and got to the twig and small branch gathering. We set up the fire on a trash-can lid that has been out there since I stumbled across this fine beer-drinking break spot.

aside: the forest floor in these parts is composed of duff, which makes for magic carpet trails and it creates a nice springy sleeping surface, but is also flammable as hell. This duff is inches thick.  A fire that catches this subsurface fuel can smoulder and spread a surprising amount. We are extremely cautious with our small, contained, and controllable twig fire. Hence the trash can lid in the middle of a bare, scraped-out circle of actual soil (dug down several inches to reach). In the morning, we used 3litres of water to out the fire, stirred the ashes in the mud, and re-sodded the whole area. You cannot tell we were ever there.

Sitting in the woods at night is a balm to your aches, whatever they may be. I balmed it up with some 1/4 full crescent moon through the pines and a 1/2 full beer in hand. Repeat 8 times. Moments like that is what it's about. Tell yourself whatever you like.

D_____ opted to sleep in the hammock. J______ and I took the forest floor.

I slept poorly. The tarp wasn't tied down at all corners, so there was an excess of tarp on tarp noise in the mild breezes we got. And I neglected to set up a pillow until pretty late into it. And it is some edge of suburbia type hoboing (one of the best kinds!) which lends itself to raccoons and skunks, neither of whom is afraid of your candy-ass and both of whom enjoy the people food hanging in a tree. But, I did wake up painless. The bed at home is too soft. My pine duff and Zrest (indestructible! cannot go wrong! what price, flawless performance? bulk. worth it?  you sleep on a flat/popped inflatable pad and tell me.)

The boys? I had to shake them awake at 5:56AM.

I was proud when J got up, out of his bag, and without being asked just began stuffing it. We boogied to break camp and begin the downhill to breakfast and school. An hour after waking up, we were sitting down to bagel sandwiches.

Everbody got to school on time. When (if) asked "where did you camp?" The proper response is, "I don't know."

*I cannot say enough good things about using a tarp for shelter. Light and compact. Useful in a variety of configurations. Weather? Pfft. Talk to me about the all night hailstorm during which my only complaint was being a little too warm. What else? If the bugs are so bad that you need a tent, it's likely a shitty time every time you stop anyhow and that's not my idea of fun. You do what you want, I'm using a tarp.

01 May 2014

latest in a series

Look at these clowns.

Pedal goes Ronde! from ryan le garrec on Vimeo.

I love it. I remember riding in Telluride (8,750 feet above my current level) with P______ R__, and how he would whistle up the climbs just to twist the knife that extra amount. I bet all those folks around these jokers hated them inside at least a little. When he talks about hearing all the huffing and puffing? Twisting the knife. Stopping for beers in the middle? How sharp are their blades. Fucking pirates.