Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Elephant In The Room

I work with a guy, Kurt. When you give him the standard "How's it going?", what you always get back is, "Best Day Ever". If he really means it, that's cooler than shit, because he's got it dialed in and figured out. Even if he doesn't mean it, it's still a cooler than shit trademark response.

For me, though, I could never pull something like that off. Some days just suck bigger than hell.

But today wasn't one of those. Today was genuinely glass half full. Maybe three quarters. See, I picked up my new bike.

Glen says that for the next few days, I'm supposed to ride it naked.

WHOA! Don't get the wrong idea. I get way more freaked than you at that visual. What he means is that I'm not supposed to hang a bunch of racks off of it for a while. I can't understand why he thinks it's necessary to make that point. Whatever. Fine. I'll ride with a fanny pack then. Almost a scarier picture than naked, isn't it?

So as with all new bikes, I wait for Patty to go to bed and then I drag it into the living room to be with it.

Tomorrow we ride, all healthy and normal-like. Tonight is creepy sleepover stuff.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Still Slightly Mentally Paralyzed

Patty and I have been out of town - on a good old-fashioned road trip. The kind where you (pretty much) unplug, and distance yourself from your everyday environment and take in some great new scenery and experiences and . . . forget. You know, recharge your soul and all that jazz. And I did just that, for the most part.

Well, except that: I can't stop thinking about the Cd'A Nat'l Forest.

I know my post about the trip was extremely lame. Reason being, it was a monumental experience and composing any kind of essay that would do it justice was monumentally out of my reach, both in terms of time and ability. The whole damn thing was just so new and different and rad. For a rational, coherent, totally respectable treatment of the experience, head over to Alex's post.

But don't get the idea that I'm done talking about it. I have a blog and as I see it, that entitles me spew out a bunch of random krap. I think it's a form of therapy for dealing with an experience that totally dumped me on my head.

This super-light dry bag was new for this trip. I was able to stuff my tent in it, which allowed me to strap the tent directly to my rear rack so I didn't have to take up pannier space. Twenty bucks beautifully spent.

You know the Coghlan's mini-bungees that we all dig?

Except for the fact that the hooks are v-shaped and you can't hook 'em to any respectable rack? Well, come to find out on the day before the trip, that's all changed. Coghlans got the hint and revamped the hooks. Now they fit 3/8" diameter rack tubing perfectly. Suh-wheat.

When you're climbing to the moon, you may sweat a bit. It may be desirable to replenish the salts that are fleeing your body with expensive name-brand supplements. Or you can just rock your world with these inexpensive double-reprocessed nut-derivative shapes.

If you're running around with your buddies on primitive roads in a Subaru with almost no ground clearance and four bikes strapped to the roof or trunk and you run across a giant crevasse, don't second-guess yourself, just fill it with forest junk and roll on.

I've avoided every urge to buy a gps. Until now. After days of angst and as of last Friday, I own one. And holy hell. If anyone you know ever tells you how easy they are to use, just punch 'em right in the neck.

But the trip made me understand that it's a necessary evil. I bought the Garmin Oregon 450 because Alex did all the research. Left on my own, I could still be shopping in 2012.

I don't exactly how or when I'll make it back to the Cd'A NF. The only thing I know is that it will be sooner than later because I'm getting seriously tugged at and when that happens, you'll find a way.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Stop! I made it out alive! So before you write something all mooshy about me, just . . . don't.

I don't have any time for a proper post, and I would like to think that I will get to it in a few days, but I'm coming into busy times and it's now or never.

So tonight I just have this to say: The trip. OY. It was something unexpected and very special. You can't make this kind of shit happen. It happens to you, and it's a gift or a blessing or whatever is the equivalent in your belief system. Not like all wonderful every second, but like a hurtful bitch about 50% of the time and then regular good stuff the other 40% and then 10% of this shit descending down these exquisite mountain roads that is just all chocolate and sex. And that doesn't begin to describe it. In fact it's a totally sucky description. I wish you were there.

As the newb, I was pretty much dumb-ass blown away, but what I am more struck with was how this particular destination influenced the imagination of my fellow highly-experienced bike campers. It set a bunch of wheels turning . . . not about changing the way they do things, but about the excitement of expanding the possibilities.

Damn cool shit. Thanks John, Alex and Larry for having me along.

Here's the culled pics from my PhD (press here dummy) camera . . .

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Negotiating With Myself

Tonight began the arduous task of sorting out the equipment I will take along on the camping trip. Some of the experienced guys have it way dialed in, but I have to go through massive gyrations and weight really matters on this one, so it's that much more dramatic. All the necessities will emerge out of this pile:

I don't even really care what I eat as long is it packs the calories I need. But there are two luxury items I would love the company of:

Slip your dogs outta bike shoes and into comf sandals after a day of climbing? Oh betty. Not much weight penalty, either. But two each excellent beers at the end of two each excellent days is a bigger hit. 3+ lbs, holy hell. That blows. But damn, it would be most excellent.

There's no way I can go into this thing overloaded and expect to survive. So if I wanna take any of the luxury stuff, I have to trade for stuff that might potentially keep me alive.

One each beer for two each nights. Two each beers for one night and zero each beers for the other. Zero each beers for two each dry nights. Hmmmm.

First aid kit? Really necessary?? Let's evolve. That's why we have Medstar.

And what's with the whole map deal? Paper is heavy and how lost can you really get? (Don't answer that.)

I think you can glimpse the issues I am wrestlng with. Some agonizing decisions will have to be made. Before you complain about your own problems, try walking a mile in my shimano's.


I have so much shit to figure out for this camping trip that it's unreal. But as of tonight, at least I have the basic bike configuration set in stone. I was supposed to be taking my new steel bike, but powder coat bullshit got in the way. So now I'm hauling carbon fiber parts into the woods. Wrong, but that's how its going down, so get over it.

What has me freaked is the amount of climbing on this route and I just can't afford to be hauling extra weight up those hills. So I was pleased when I finished up and threw it on the scale:

I would prefer sub-14, but I can live with 28.

The capacity of the scale is 55. If I can add all the junk I'm hauling and still be able to weigh it, that will rule.

Aside from weight, what I'm next most worried about is the fact that my gearing isn't low enough. I could very possibly blow out both knees, leaving my carcass for the birds to pick at. If I die camping, I hope you will go on and on about how great my blog was. Not because it was, but because you're supposed to do that sort of thing when someone dies. Most particularly if they die doing what they blog about. Even if they're stupid.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Camping Wheels

Getting ready for the big race is pretty much a full time job right now. Yesterday was another marathon day spent on the course marking sign locations and potholes, followed by yet another sign-making session in the shop. Chief organizer Sirott spent the weekend driving to Seattle and back to pick up a trailer load of WSBA equipment for the race.

It's a pretty epic course, but has turned out to be monumental in terms of setup logistics and organization of race-day volunteers. It will all come together. One thing for sure, the course is scenic as hell. Even though racers are a little busy to do much taking in of scenery, I think it contributes to the experience at some level. Here's a shot I took yesterday . . .

Me 'n Sirott did manage to sneak in a west plains ride today, though.

And it was important for me to get in some dirt-road miles in this hottish weather because of this next part:

In addition to the race and the reason for the post title is that I'm also parallel-processing for another event that I'm super excited about. It's a two-night dirt road camping trip. My bike camping inexperience means that there's lots of details to wonder about and attend to.

But one of the big problems has been solved. I really don't (didn't) have a good set of heavy-duty wheels. I'm not the smallest guy on earth and I've been squeaking by with parking myself and a load of krap on lightweight wheels for a while, and a sense of borrowed time is gnawing on me.

So I've relied on the advice of a bunch of people and come up with this wheelset. Dave Mannino at Two-Wheel brought in all the bits and did the build, which totally rules, because well, with Dave, you know you're in good hands. Better than good. Here's the side-by-side of the old and new wheels:

Old wheel . . .

New wheels . . .

My best guess as to the right tires for the job . . .


Oh, did I mention that I got a scale a coupla weeks ago and I'm weighing the hell outta everything? The biggest surprise to me is that the new 36-spoke heavy-duty wheels don't weigh all that much more than the 20-spoke lightweight wheels. Maybe those weird high-flange hubs are heavier than they look. Or maybe the wheels are stonger than I'm giving them credit for. But 20 spokes? Mmmm, think I'd feel better with just a few more.

So. I'm afraid you're in for more bike camping geek business and a lot of unsolicited info about what a bunch of my shit weighs. Sorry in advance.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cheap Labor Is The Key

Somehow, Patty got sucked into the sign shop vortex. I run a non-union shop. Yes, I pay in beer. Yes, the fine print also stipulates that bathroom breaks are not permitted. (I can't just let my costs run crazy.)

I'll have hell to pay tomorrow. But we got a lot done tonight.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dodging Authorities; Killer Home Delivery

Like a crazy illegal business that stays just one step ahead of the law, my shop (Patty still calls it a ""garage"") was transformed last night into a one-man sign-making sweatshop. Saw buzz and all kinds of other frenzy rolled into the little hours of today.

The end result was a dozen sandwich board signs for the upcoming race.

Badass zip ties. The whole idea of zip ties instead of hinges came from Gino of Round and Round fame. Bike event planning's foremost been-there-done-that guy, so who were we to argue. (Yeah, yeah, I'll cut the tails off. Don't get your shorts all in a bunch.)

Tonight, Mike came by and picked up the signs and there is zero evidence that anything every happened in my shop. (I mean garage.) I feel all stealthy.

In the meantime, a package that I was waiting for and actively tracking got delivered today and when the package comes from this place it means that your day is automatically special.

I scored a vest that is on killer sale. Vests are the most effective and under-rated garment ever. The clothing equivalent of comfort food. I'm wearing it now. And my new wool beanie, but I love the vest more. But I'm wearing them both to bed. Life is spectacular.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Morning Ride In The Rain

Patty and I planned a ride that would avoid the rain. But it was dry when we started and the sun came out after we finished. Rained all the hell over us in the meantime. Whatever.

We had breadfast at Dolly's, which consistently rules. Then we sight-seed the falls, which if you don't do at least once every spring, you're like committing a serious crime. Our river is so rad, damn we are lucky fools. That is just my op, but I think Patty agrees. Even in the rain.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Your Typical Race Planning Meeting

You may have heard that Spokane is hosting the elite state championship road race in a coupla weeks. Tonight was another of the many pre-race meetings. That's Alan at the top of the picture and Mike at the bottom.

The details are kind of endless. With just over two weeks til race day, it's feeling more and more like crunch time. One moment I'm feeling like things are well in hand and the next I'm having a panic attack.

I wonder why I want to swim in the pressure cooker and I guess it's because I'm proud to be part this craziness that will ultimately lead to a great day of racing, with the number of dramatic personal stories exactly equal to the number of riders showing up to spill their guts all over the roads south of town, all because they love, and I mean LOVE, to ride their bikes as fast as they possibly can.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fighting Back

You don't have to say it. The whole idea is ridonculous, I know.

But I just have to find out.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's June. No, Really.

I need to get in shape for a certain ride that's coming up and well, I've pissed away all the days that are optional. It's essential that I ride every day from here on out, yay.

If I end up drowning, you're welcome to come to my funeral and say something nice about me, even if you know in your heart it's not true.