Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Need To Tell You Something

I bought a Sackville/Rivendell bag for my front rack a coupla weeks ago. The rack's been lacking a proper bag ever since it got built and I hope this fits that bill, but that's not what I really wanted to tell you.

It's working out pretty good so far, except that the rear loop of the rack sort of interferes with the zipper path - some dumbass built the loop just a tad tall. But that's not what I really wanted to tell you.

The bag comes with D-rings for shock cord (aka bungee cord material) on top, but without the actual cord - you hafta supply that yourself. My go-to place for bulk 1/8" shock cord is REI, but when I went there, they were out of stock. I don't really have a backup source. Shit. Life can be a bitch sometimes. But you already know that, and it's not really what I wanted to tell you.

I coulda looked around and found it somewhere else pretty easily, but that woulda taken some time and that's what I have least of, so I headed straight to Lowe's and bought a 15" x 18" cargo net, which I presumed (read gambled) was made up of one continuous piece of shock cord for $10 in round numbers. This is the starting point of what I wanna tell you.

I un-knotted the net and ended up with one continuous piece of 1/8" shock cord and a buncha leftover hooks, so it's do-able. So that's the first thing I wanted you to know.

I ended up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 27' of cord. Which would have cost me $6.75 at REI. Versus $10 for the net. Not to mention saving a half hour of my life. Point being that, if you're ever faced with the same decision of whether to buy bulk or dismantle a net, go bulk (assuming money is all you care about).

And that's pretty much what I needed to tell you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Major Dogbike Upgrade

It showed up a couple or four days ago on my front porch, without warning, courtesy John.  I'm not all that smart and I twirled it around and stared at it for a while.  Then I put it down, and looked at it for another while and since I couldn't not screw with it, I ripped apart and re-magnetized the industrial velcro a few dozen times and snapped the buckle together a few hundred dozen times.  Tonight was finally the epiphany.  It's a busy pic I know, but just left of the gloves.  It's a San Francisco Freight Road Soda . . . ummm . . . searching for the word . . . umm . . . 'thingy'.

Despite the fact that it's intended to carry only one "soda", it has a massive
suitable-for-rock-climbing-type nylon strap that wraps around the head tube,

...along with a second buckled strap that chokes the life outta the top and
down tubes.  The SFF dudes are obviously of the opinion that no "soda"
should ever run free.
 Fine, you say, what's so MAJOR about the upgrade?  I'm not surprised at your question, I wouldn't expect you to understand.  But delighted that you asked.  Deal is, the old soda transport solution was adequate, but tended to bounce around and shake up the soda, which tended to foam it up and make a mess upon opening.

Now with the new cush ride there's none of that, plus the leash which I rarely-if-ever use but have to carry due to fear of certain park-rule zealots finally has a home of its own.

One small step for man, one giant leap for dogmankind.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Webb's Slough SON

I've been going on about the Webb's Slough SON for months now, and this weekend it was finally time.

It kicked off at 7:30 am on Saturday, at the FLT trailhead. Throwing down with me were Mike, Glen, Joe, Nate and Wade.  (As per usual, click any of the pics in this post for big.)

Glen's super into camping.  Which explains why he's so excited.

Wade's righteous setup

En route, on the FLT.  Nate is either super-efficient with his camping gear,
or he's not planning on going the distance.  Hmmm.

Waiting to cross
(Nate:  I saw you first)

Water stop on the FLT.  Joe is either super efficient with his camping
gear or he's got other plans.  Hmmm.  Glen's excitement hasn't yet worn
off.  Wade is speaking the truth, as usual.
The ride from Cheney out to St John was one tough, slow mother.  Plenty of hills applying gravity to all those pounds of gear, along with a head-on headwind all the way that ratcheded up a notch the last ten miles, along with threatening skies, spitting at us.  At least they didn't open up. Yet.

The five of us (it was always Nate's plan to accompany us to Cheney and then turn around and ride back through Turnbull, only dude with any sense) finally arrived in St John and provisioned at the killer grocery story there.

Once inside the gates of the slough, Joe (only one of the five of us with any grasp of the reality of the situation), met up with his wife, who had driven down, and bid us farewell and good luck, suckas.  By coincidence, it was time for those skies to open up.  The four of us are survivors, so we did the only logical thing and found our our way to the covered beer garden.  Apparently, it wasn't exactly an original idea.

Wade, speaking the truth

Making the best of a bad situation

We managed to find something to wash the beer down with

Wade managed to find a product he could get behind

As far as actual boat racing goes, Webb's Slough is a pretty interesting place . . .

This is the terraced hill overlooking the track.  People bring EZ-ups for
shelter from the sun, normally, and shelter from the rain, abnormally.

This picture doesn't do a good job of showing it, but that's a sea of RV's
out yonder.  Build it and they will effin' come.  Holy shite.

The actual craziness that is the track.

This is the start area, where boats are constantly being put in and taken out.
Sprint boat racing is about covering a timed course, one boat at a time.  In the top class, the boats have up to 900 horsepower.  They stop, start and turn on a dime - it's pretty damned spectacular shit, which I guess is why they can manage to get people to drive (and other idiots to ride their bikes) from all over hell to a field in the middle of nowhere.

Here's how they start . . .

And here's how they stop:

And here are a coupla runs . . .

Water is constanly flying every-the-hell-where.  Here's a burst sequence . . .

These boats have drivers and navigators. The navigators tell the drivers which way to turn. Many of the navigators are wives of the drivers. This is one possible consequence of listening to your wife. (And no, I cannot believe I just said that.)

Somewhere along the way, Glen and Wade phoned up some SAG support and called it good.  Can't say I blame them.  Mike and I, though, were not about to be deprived of the fun that lie ahead.  We pitched camp in the rain.

This picture pretty much says it all, so I'll just shut up.

No rule that says you can't have a little fun while you're being miserable. As
a side note, I need to mention that the water and Guinness were both part
of a carefully crafted re-hydration plan.  That worked brilliantly, I might add.

At about 7:30 or so, my tent started looking pretty sexy.  My hands and feet were cold as hell and life just totally sucked.  I've spent way too much money on my lightweight tent, bag, and pad over the last couple of years, but at that moment, it was the best coin I'd ever dropped.  A warm and dry refuge.  I hit the sack at 8:30, while it was still light out. Out before my head hit the pillow.  The slough was in post-race party mode literally until the sun came up.  Fortunately, the action was far enough away from where we were that it didn't keep us from sleeping for more than a few minutes at a time.  We were up at five and on the road before 6:30 and the ride home turned out to be as wonderful as the ride out was, uh "challenging".  It had stopped raining, and the sun was peeking through at times, and oh, yeah, we had a freakin' tailwind the whole damn way.  We kicked it like no one on 60 lb bikes ever has.

Your's truly

Mike, testing out the self-portrait capabilites of my new cam.
BTW, this one trip fully justified my purchase of a waterproof model.

The ride wasn't that tough, really.  I rolled into my driveway wondering if
maybe I should go do another lap, just so I could call it a workout.

We did our best to kill the beer at the slough, but there were two survivors.
Mike and I are both committed to the principle of leaving no beer behind, so
we split the weight and hauled them back to Spo.  To die.

All up, 106 miles round trip at an average speed of 13, which surprised me
(I thought it would be lower). I think it must have been 10 on the way
out and 16 on the way back to average out to the average.

Big thanks to Mike, Glen, Joe, Wade and Nate for coming out and riding, despite the lousy weather.  Friends are what make an event like this worthwhile.  Extra thanks, Mike, for hanging tough and overnighting.  If you had bailed, I probably would have too, which would have been a shame - the ride back this morning was sweet, and the adversity will make the memory of the trip extra special. And I mean that.

Return Trip Fuel Stop

Zips in Cheney rocks breakfast hard.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Endless Futzing Over Kamping Krap

Getting ready for an overnighter still starts two or three nights in advance for me. I'd like to think I'm getting better at it, but I'm not sure. There's no such thing as one universal set of krap that works for every outing - there are some universal basics, but each trip seems to have its own peculiar requirements.

Of course my dream is to be so efficient that I could pack in about 20 minutes and I'm working on that system, but it's still pretty lame, as I'm about 480 minutes shy of my goal. But still, it's a system:

I keep a master electronic kamping krap list and the starting point is to print a copy and attack it with sharpies and highlighters. That sorta serves to wrap my mind around how I expect the trip to go and what I might need.

I've centralized all my most-used krap into a few plastic storage boxes and the next step is to go through them, with the sharp focus that I obtained in the previous step, and pull out everything that might possibly be of use. This used to take the entire living room floor, dining room table, every surface in the kitchen, and several chairs. Now it just takes one basement countertop, so I suppose I can consider that as progress.

What makes packing so hard is that once you've done a coupla these, you come to the "understanding" of how just a few insignifcant ounces of unnecessary gear, here and there, can add up and conspire, and turn you into a rolling turd. So it ultimately boils down to an excercise of wants vs needs.

Which works fine, as long as you keep all your wants and needs in plain view. For the fourth time, I almost lost sight of a major need - my sleeping bag. When that eventually happens, the long and bitter night will surely be the driver of a major overhaul of the system.

For the time being, though, I'm good. Albeit slow.