Next Full Moon

Sunday, May 3rd Full Flower Moon

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.