Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Well...To tell you the truth I have stammered in posting this post because its really an admittance to myself as well as ya'll that; I'm gonna be staying put for a bit. (Man, that hurts to see in print)
Mainly for these two reasons: 1)I want to add some more travel cabbage to my savings before plunging into Latin America. 2)I'm waiting for The Kelly Donlan to finish the contract on her job so we can pedal together.
So I knew this pause was coming but I didn't know where. Until... The fantastic, world class mountain biking town of Durango lassoed me in.
When I pulled into town I immediately found my favorite coffee shop and then went exploring. Ending up later at a little bike shop called Papa Wheelies. I met Jeff the owner and he offered me a couch to crash on at his house. By morning it was agreed that I would hang out and help at the shop for a few days. As those few days passed I really fell in love with Durango and it's surrounding hills. When the day came that I said I was gonna leave Jeff and I instead shook on a deal that I would become his full time manager until May. He also gave me the garage at his house to live in for free! Its even closer to a bedroom than any of the other garages I've lived in.
Samu the savage mule is now patiently sitting in a corner waiting for spring. I've got my full suspension mountain bike out here now and have been laparoscoping the nervous system of trails and back roads. The trails here are so well developed, technical and addicting. The scenery is also just stupid. I finish off a ride and realize the thing that is most sore is my face from smiling.
So this Blog of mine is gonna be a bit slow for a while. Though I will be posting some of the happs around Durnago and pics of my favorite trails.
Every day as the unscratchable itch to get back on the road has me butt scooting, I remind myself that this stop off will keep me in coffee and tacos for the next bunch of years.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Monsoon season has got me in a headlock, So I'm bound to see about spinning some wrenches and assaulting some trails back in the Mecca.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
In Salida there is the most Fantastic bike shop called Absolute Bikes. A small museum of bikes and parts hang around on the walls. I could not get myself to leave and just kept wandering around and jabbering on to no one in particular (not even myself). Once again Samu's beastly uniqueness upstaged me and got us invited to stay with Anton and Amber. Anton, Wes and Brenan are mechanics from the shop and all live together out at La Raunch. (Thanx guys for all yer kindness and help. And thank you Amber for the good dinner)
I had lost Matty and Jermey in town somewhere the day before. I think like me they were feeling the winter conditions breathing down their necks and moved on. Man, Salida is such a great town, I really could have stayed a lot longer. But five too many people told me about the storm that was on its way, so begrudgingly I also got pedaling on.
I camped in the grasslands just south from the house/town of Doyleville. I had just gotten on the road that morning when unexpectedly two other Great Divide cyclist rode up. Jake and Duncan were giving themselves 28ish days to ride the GDMBR. (Check out there web action at: bikingforabetterworld.org) With their influence I churned out my biggest off pavement day of 90 miles with two 10,000 ft passes.
In the dark that night with the lights of Del Norte twinkling in the distance, We shook hands and said good-bye. I set up camp and they mashed on.
What a night it turned out to be. I cooked dinner and put my tired self to bed. I had just gotten in a long blink when I was a waked by an angry wind and the tent wall trying to cuddle with me. I jumped up and chased down things that were blowing away and staked down everything I could.
The wind screamed and howled and tried to rip my little tent to shreds. Inside it's relative comfort of machine gun flapping fabric, I though of mountaineers on Everest and tried to sleep knowing how much better off I was. That didn't really work. Even as tired as I was there was no sleep happening. When the first bits of sunlight came over the windy peaks I broke down my camp. I could have para-glided to new mexico with my rain fly but instead I wrestled it into its bag and rode into Del Norte.
Jake and Duncan were in front of the small post office. They had stayed in the town park and hadn't got much sleep either. While we were there David drove up to us and asked us about our trip and then mentioned his "Hippy Cousin had an Um...Cabin". "It is on your way and you could stay in it if you like". We thanked him and though none of us had gotten any sleep to speak of, collectively we still wanted to make some miles that day.
I said good-bye to Jake and Duncan again and went in search of coffee. I sat for a long time sipping coffee and charging batteries. It was later afternoon when I finally got to pedaling out of Del Norte.
I was moving slow and had the thought of Dave's cousin's cabin on my brain but had spaced the directions. Up the road ahead of me was the highest pass on the whole divide route and I was thinking sleep would be better before tackling it. While spying some abandon accommodations a red truck drives up with the last two dudes I expected to be driving it: Jake and Duncan. They had found the cabin and borrowed the truck to go to town for supplies. They gave me directions, insisted there was plenty of room and that they will back in a while.
When I got there I understood Dave's smirk when he originally told us about it. It was odd but odd in the best way. It was excitingly rustic, handbuilt, rigged, improvised and D.I.Yed. The structural log walls had been another cabin somewhere else before but were relocated to this spot. Kevin (the Cousin) had scavenged, found and fabricated all the decks, railings, furniture and art work. If ever I had a dream cabin it would be something sorta like this one.
It was used by Kevin only as a retreat, hobbie and guest house. So, we had this castle to ourselves. I got a fire going and they came back with food and beer!
It snowed on the peaks above us that night but we sat warm in front of the fireplace, talking and sipping cold beer. Ahh man, I slept so good.
When I awoke the storm had passed and the sun was shining. We got an early start and destroyed the 11,910 ft. Indiana pass. It had snowed only a few inches and was easy to plow through.
On the lower slopes of the other side we got a nice mud shellacking but still made 65 miles to Horca.
In the last of the days light we shook hands good-bye again. They had 8 days to catch a plane in El Paso. I watched there lights slowly climb up the next pass, good luck guys.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
I met Matt and Jermey in Steamboat Springs. They had also made some side trips since starting the Great divide route in Canada. So we're all running a bit late in the year for cycling in the high Rockies but whatever.
We rode together up steep passes and through yellow Aspen forests. Matty is from Australia and Jermey is from New Zealand. We talked and joked a lot about the differences between our countries and our shared language slang.
Our pace is petty sporadic. Some days we have done 50-60 miles while other days we did like 10ish. We got a tortoise and the hair type thing going on with this really funny Dutch couple. Karen and Martin have just ridden down from Alaska and are doing a pretty steady 30 miles a day. We keep bumping into them at random places. Karen is the most spastic and lively 50 year old I've ever met while Martin is carrying an unusual amount of gear including dear antlers and a license plate collection. I hope we bump into them again.
We've been doing a lot of cycling up around 9000 ft.(The highest pass being 11,482) The air is thin enough to feel like half my lung capacity is on strike or like trying to snorkel through a coffee stirrer straw. Regardless the scenery makes you want eat your eyeballs. Man, The Colorado high country is one beautiful chunk of the world.
Yesterday though was the day that tested our stamina and sanity. Its a long stretch of high mountain plateau from Hartsel to Salida. The wind howled and screamed in our faces. Scouring our cheeks and filling our mouths with cold sand. (Course I would have closed my mouth if the elevation and effort would have let me). We battled the wind all day, mostly straight on but some times it bowled us from the side. Once knocking me, monster heavy bike and all into a ditch.
By late in the day we had ground it across the Plateau and back into some trees. Thinking the forest would shelter us from the wind, but Nope! It roared on. We just then had to contend with branches hitting us and trees snapping. It really was awesome and a spectacular disaster to ride in. Adrenalin fueled my tired legs the rest of the way to Salida, where a hot cup of coffee tasted worth its weight in titanium.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Me: Is this the road over Rabbit Ear pass?
Her: Yes, but you know its snowing right?
Me: Yea I figured but its Ok, I got lots of gear.
Her: Can I ask you something?
Her: Don't go. Its snowing and nasty up there.
Me: I'll be OK
Her: No Its really far! 60 miles from here to Steamboat and seriously snowy and cold with no Hotels
Me: Thats fine. I plan on camping along the way and getting there tomorrow.
Her: There is no place to camp anywhere up there.
ME: Are you telling me in that whole mountain range there is no place to camp?
Her: Yes, you would be stupid to go now. Wait for the storm to blow over in a few days.
ME: Thanx for the concern but "This ain't my first Rodeo" (Borrowed from Ben)
Her: Maybe you don't understand! Its SNOWING
Me: (thinking: What am I a 4 year old playing with matches. Man,I havent even told her that I'm going over the higher unpaved buffalo pass)
Me: I'v been over more mountain passes than I can count. I think I'll be Ok.
Her: If you wind up dead, It wont be my fault!
Me: Thanx Lady, have a good day.
Then I walk outside, look down and realize that I'm wearing shorts and sandals. Ok, She had some ground to stand on.
Needless to say I rode over the pass and found many beautiful National Forest camp spots along the way. I could count the snow flakes as thay fell, slept cozy and warm and woke to blue skys. Its always funny to me how little some people know of the places they live in or how afraid they are of them.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I didn't get out of Oakland till my second night. Many trains rolled by but nothing had my name on it. I was hoping for a long haul hotshot but after waiting 24 hours, impatience got the best of me and I dove into a boxcar.
I got off in Roseville with hopes of a faster higher priority train. Man, it was still hot for September. I hid in what shade I could find and watched them work trains in the yard. Not a single train I wanted to ride came or went that whole day and night. I shuffled into downtown for coffee and refill my water jug, Then back out to wait and stew some more. By that evening I was really wondering what the fuck was going on with the freight traffic in Roseville these days? It was once the hub yard for all the freight in far west.
My answer arrived in living form, carrying a backpack and also prowling the mainline. I didn't catch his name but he was much more up to date with the happs then me. He was calling in unit numbers on his cell phone to find out their destination. Then he told me that they have down scaled this yard. Most traffic from down south and the Bay Area are taking the by pass in Sacramento. That put an end to the mystery.
As we're still talking a train pulled in. He called in the numbers and said "that one is heading for Seattle", "I think I'll take it". It was all empty 48 trailers but he went and got on it anyways. I went back to lounging in my hidden spot and not but a few minutes later I hear the rail cops pulling him off.
Again nothing that seemed like a good east bound ride came through that night. I shuffled back to town once again that morning for coffee and some internet at the library. It was Saturday already. 4 days and I had made it a hours drive from Oakland.
I talked to Kelly at the library, It was her weekend. She came to resuce me from shuffling back and forth through Roseville pulling my hair out.
We drove up to Quincy to visit Chris, Lily and Ciano. We got in some good hanging out and a little high sierra hiking and BBQing.
Kelly drove me out to Portola. The same little mountain town I got off at one my way out. We raced a double stack train on the way and got there in enough time for a quick good-bye and for me to dash off to catch it.
There was not a single bucket on the whole thing. I was sick of trains passing while I sat and watched so I rode suicide (up in the wind on the deck) through the night into Nevada. At the next yard, Wherever it was, I switched trains and got into a boxcar. That night I got off in Salt Lake City.
I had met Dallin randomly a few months earlier in Wyoming. He gave me his phone number and said If I was ever in SLC to give him a call. So I called. He gave me directions to the "Boing" anarchist collective and met me there. I stayed the night there cuz on his recomendation it is better to take the city bus in the morning for 2 bucks to Ogden and catch East from there.
In Ogden it took a while for the right combination. You have to catch south out of the yard. I was worried I would just get taken right back down to SLC.
Finally a junker came in off the west side of the y at the north end and was switching to the east side of the yard heading south. (say that 10 times fast)It was just what I was waiting for, I ran down the strand and found a shotgun grainer.(a.k.a. Double hole canadian grainer) ( my favorite junk train rideable cuz it has a nice big hidden compartment to ride in)I climbed in and went to sleep and woke up in Green river, Wy.
I was broken up and humped all over that yard but eventually dragged on to the east. Next stop I recognized the yard of Rawlins and knew the next one was Laramie.
This is where I started talking to the train in a nice voice asking it; "Please slow down enough for me to only do a couple somersaults" or "I promise to brush my teeth more and learn to like grapefruit if you'll just slow for me to bail off without turning completly to dog meat. But really I was preparing myself for having to make my way back from Cheyenne the next day.
Just after dark, on the out skirts of Laramie the train started to slow and by the time I was just where I had gotten on a month and a half ago it stopped. I stepped off in the warm night air, filthy, hungry and happy as can be. Man, I love those trains.
It seemed strange to be in Oakland. Seeing friends that I had just said good-bye to with the vigor of leaving for half a decade. Hi! Oh, all that? I was just kidding....Like I said; It felt strange but really I was only “visiting on business”. The business of visiting a very special neighbor and helping her build a touring bicycle.
I was back in the East Bay for nearly a month. It kinda flew by. I had not planned on being there that long but who plans anything anyways?
It was great to see all ya'll if only for a second or two. And If I didn't happen to see you, Please erase from your mind what you just read and I never left Wyoming.
Thanx so much to Ty and The Bent Spoke crew for all you help and letting me get in the way.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
The Hiatus is over!
Back to the saddle and down to business. Man, I'm chomping at the bit to get pedaling again.
A junk train from Ogden, unbelievably obediant to my instructive cooing stopped to let me off right in Ol' Downtown Laramie.
I made a hasty dash to the home of Adam and Danielle (Sorry again guys for barging) to see the sight I'v been dreaming of: Mybike. The sight of Samu the savage mule slightly dusty and tucked away patiently waiting for me was an emotional expierience that left me a bit teary and choked up.... Ok I'm over it. But man, is it good to be back.
The trip out West was good though. Alot of things got accomplished and some damn good times were had.
So the Hiatus and the train trip back out? I'll elaborate later. I got some riding to do!
Thanx to Lily for the new tattoo! Check out Lily's art work at: www.lilymosaics.com