Boxing Day

It’s Boxing Day – the day I put my bike in a box and begin this adventure. I was scrambling right up to the last second. Did I pay the property taxes? Did I bring my water bottles? Crud what did I do with the thingamabob? This is all, of course misdirected anxiety so that I can avoid asking all the real questions like; how the hell and I gonna cope without Megan and Jonah for 2+ months? Can I really stay away from kW for that long and maintain my sense of self? Am I going to be lonely, tired and hungry (yes, yes and yes I think).

So I deal with all that stuff by making sure that the thingamabob I brought is the absolutely best thingamabob I have, I have the exact right number of pens with me and a bunch of similarly trivial decisions. Well at least I’m not drinking (as Amy Winehouse would say). Still, some form of numbing is needed, less I get overwhelmed.

So here’s the final pack – all ready to go to the airport. Doncha love the classsy “TUMI” duffle? That’s my way of getting two from panniers for one bag fee. Sort of worked. Still had to pay $210 for all the stuff I checked. Sheesh – next time I’ll ship it. Or buy a $100 duffle and give it to a homeless guy at the other end.

All my stuff for the trip


Buddy Will trying not to be too distracted on the fwy

Here’s my buddy Will giving me a ride to OAK airport. Thanks, Will! Nice to have a personal send off since Megan and Jonah are in Toronto (Happy Bat Mitzvah Sophie! So sorry I missed it.).

Hoping the luggage handling gods smile on me tonight. With luck I’ll be putting the Surly Long Haul Trucker back together tomorrow and may even get to dip my wheels in the Atlantic.

Now I can finally relax and begin to ease into the experience. No more thingamabob-contemplation and monkey mind. If I’ve got it with me, I do. If not, I hear they take US dollars in Maine.

Skidding to sanity

Well crud – the bike was in tip top mechanical shape for all of about 15 minutes. The guys at Sharp bikes did a great job of prepping the Long Haul Trucker for the big trip (10 days!).

Tip top

I was so thrilled with the new feel of the bike, I bombed down our hill to Safeway. And halfway down, someone backed into the road and I (going admittedly too fast) had to slam on the brakes to get er under control. One 10 foot skid later I came to a stop well before the SUV but damn if it didn’t trash my new rear tire in the process (I hear you bike enthusiasts – more front brake, i know, i know).

Gotta say I’m more than a little disappointed with the legendary Schwalbe Marathon tires that just put on a week ago.

One 10 ft skid. Really?

No kidding these tires (or I should say tyres) are revered in the cycling world as some German miracle of cycling engineering . I’ll be impressed of the give me new ones.  In the meantime thump thump thump As the wheels go round.

So the cost could have been much higher and I’ll consider myself lucky to get off with the $50 for a new tire. Probably worth the lesson before I head off in 10 days…

Shakedown part 2: Changing Cadence

I woke up at 4:00 AM this morning. Seems that when I go to bed at 10, that’s what happens. The good news is that means I got to see how many stars are in the sky when you’re not in the City. Caseopia and Scorpio clearly visible to the north and south. Don’t you love it when the Milky Way is unmistakable?

I had a beautiful day for part 2 of the shakedown trip. Good thing because even with lovely weather it was hard to get breakfast, coffee, and the camp broken down before 10:00. I suppose I’ll get better at this. After all “you get better at what you do””. Hey, who said that? Oh  I digress.

Couldn’t help but be a little anxious and distracted today though. See the big news of the day at our house is that we put in a bid on a second house. We’ve been dreaming of a place near Pt Reyes for years, hoping to buy a lot and design a home. But there are precious few lots left there, most of which have major flaws. So this time we bid on a “build ‘er over” house, which has distinct advantages in that somebody as already got the permits for a house, water, septic, etc. So it’s looking like we might gain this great big HUGE PROJECT for me to spend a bunch of the next few years on.

Heaps of potential!

What’s this got to do with druther bike? Nothing except I rode there today and I can’t think of anything else. This is a life commitment.

Which does bring me to the theme of the day, the epiphany of the ride as I think of it (endorphins + time alone = epiphany, sounds trite but it happens frequently. True epiphany or merely brain chemistry makes pondering seem profound, I know not. Q: if you can’t tell the difference does it matter? I digress yet again)

Back to the point. The predominant memory of the day was of seeing all these super serious racer types heading in the  opposite direction . I kept trying to make contact with them – after all I’m a somewhat serious cyclist too, but I was mostly met with “no love”, averted eyes, no contact, cold… I  “toodling” along, heavy bike, slow and steady, but feeling very  into life. I had several conversations  with like-minded folks. But I kept seeing these serious guys as former “me”s that I could not relate too. They  all seem focused on  something going on in their heads that is/was  of their own making. I’ve been there, for more of my life than I’d care to admit. (This is what Megan and her colleagues call pro-ject-ion). Anyway I felt glad to be in a different place, feeling joyful, happy for the opportunity to enjoy the day, healthy, and with ( for today anyway) no real worries.

For my next step in life, I  choose engagement, risk, lack of knowledge, mistakes, hair pulling frustrations, and whatever else comes my way.

Which reminds me of the title of today’s post – credit the wonderful book by Michael Dillon – Changing Cadence. It’s was a big influence in deciding to do this trip.

Above at camp before leaving. $44 a nigh, really? Anyway it was a lovely morning with oatmeal, a cup of joe and John Muir’s first summer in the Sierra to keep me company.

Bonus pets if you can spot the bike nerd mirror

I like the way this pano turned out – captures the moment which was frenetic tourists trying to capture the moment.

Shakedown Cruise

Today the trip got really real. I decided months ago to do a pre-trip trip to check out my setup, get the kinks out and do a mini test run. I almost ran out of time but today was the day! I packed up my whole gear list (everything I expect to need for 2 1/2 months of travel, and set off for Olema.

First I had to do the weigh in (you can’t manage it if you don’t measure it). The bike runs a steady 35 lbs, plus about 50 lbs of gear. I thought I could hold it to 40, hah! Anyway, you kind of notice 85 lbs of bike and stuff going uphill. Otherwise it went well. And as soon as I figure out how to get video off the GoPro, we’ll have that too!

Bit of trivia – this is the exact spot that the “happy cows” commercial was filmed. No really. How could I make that up? This is the ridge above Olema, probably the worlds most expensive cow pasture.

Happy cow view

Same spot, looking at today’s goal down in the valley.

Made it to Olema

More Cowbell

Ok I’m running late on this one but before I left I swapped out my old handlebars (background) for my new Salsa Cowbell  bars. They have a little “flare” so no more hitting my knees on the bars when I’m sprinting up hills (cha right).

So clearly the big news is that, me and all my gear actually made it about 40 miles, got the tent set up, and we’ve proven the concept. That is, assuming I can get all my stuff back in the bags and back home again tomorrow. With Olema’s delicious $16 hamburger in my belly (my dad is rolling over in his grave), I’m ready to call it a day.

Ok JK. Just kidding. 4000 miles? Ha!

This weekend it hit me. 4000 miles? Ha ha ha ha ha. Just kidding y’all. I’d have to be nuts to decide to do that. On purpose. Ha ha. ha. Ha. Ehem.

This weekend I road 75 miles on a 18 lb carbon frame in beautiful conditions. They had rest stops every 20 miles stocked with all manner of snacks handed out by friendly volunteers. They had fruit, and cookies and gu and chips, coffee and bagels, pb&j, all just for the asking.  Hats off to the folks at the Grizzly Peak Century. They do a nice job and have one of the longest running centuries in CA.  I think they started in the 70s,  but I digress.

And it was exhausting. I came home starving for food and sleep. Reality check! That’s 10 miles farther than I plan to do every day on a bike that weighs, fully loaded, about 75 or more likely 80 lbs. and the plan is to do that 6 days out of 7. Ha ha hahahahaha. Piece of cake.


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"If I had my druthers, I'd ride a bike" Jim's low CO2 trans-am cycling trip