S24O – The Buddy Upgrade

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As compared to some of my recent S24O outings, this one was a definite upgrade. The key element was the presence of long time friend, Michael Stallings.

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I probably would have let this weekend slip through my fingers, but he proposed the trip and basically made it  happen.

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Since he drove his truck to the camp site, he also took the initiative to bring firewood and grilling food. My normal evening meal is finger food I stuff in my bag. Oh yeah, he cooked. All I had to do sit back and enjoy the view in one of the camp chairs he brought.

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It is obvious, but should be stated outright anyway…since I normally do these outings solo, I had a buddy this time to share the experience. Upgrade.

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He arrived at the park before me and selected the site.  If you read my previous account, In Search of a Breeze, you might remember that I sometimes make poor camp spot choices. He nailed it with this beautiful shady and breezy spot.

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I’ve known him for several years, but we haven’t spent much time together lately. It was a general life upgrade to catch up on all the family news, and compare spiritual ponderings.

IMG_5259 IMG_5261 IMG_5263 IMG_5265 IMG_5267Once fueled by breakfast, and energized by catch-up conversation, we packed up and did some riding. We cruised the park a while and ended up on some easy single track in the woods (how did I not get photos on the trails?!). When we parted, I still had an hour and a half ride back home to reflect on how much difference a buddy can make.  Best S24O of the year…so far.

 

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A Few Enhancements

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It was just five hours of pedaling. There were no bizarre roadside encounters today. There was no hammock hanging or coffee brewing. No S24O this time. Conditions were unusually pleasant with light wind and an overcast sky to keep the heat in check. It was a good day to tick off some miles. It was, I guess, a sort of shakedown ride for a few recent enhancements. Just in time for summer.

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Newer honey saddle in place of the older, darkened green saddle. The old saddle was showing signs of age and it seemed a change in color might be fun.

Albatross bars in place of the drops. After further research (riding the Quickbeam with albatross bars consistently for a few weeks), and contrary to original thought, albatross bars are not the cause of my upper back/neck issues. Apparently, the pain that nudged me back to drops last time was a timing coincidence.

Ergon grips instead of the traditional cork. Using standard round grips without care, I can let the bar ends of an albatross bar work into that nerve groove in the middle of the wrist. That can cause some nagging discomfort. So having a wider support at the bar end seemed like a smart thing to try. These are the GC1 Biokork Ergon grips and they are designed for swept-back bars. Admittedly, they don’t have a traditional look (which I like) of the standard round cork grips, but they absolutely work. These grips are plush.

me

There was also a hat upgrade. Riding for hours in the Texas sun with little-to-no shade can really raise my body temperature. I’ve been wearing a Tilley hat recently, which is a great hat, but perhaps not ideal for the hottest direct sun conditions. After pondering a little, it seemed finding a hat with a lighter color, more ventilation, and a wider brim would be more comfortable on the hottest days. That combination sounded like the familiar head wear of my ranching neighbors. All I needed to do was add a stampede string to keep the thing from blowing off my head. It still needs to be tested on a hotter day, but I can already tell it is an improvement.

Well summer is now here, and I guess I’m as ready as I as can be.

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Name a Bicycle?

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I can’t remember ever naming one of my bicycles. As far as I can recall, I’ve always referred to them by make, model, or color. The Rivendell. The Kogswell. The Trek. The Hilsen or the Quickbeam. The black, green, or orange bike. I once had a nice, custom race bike built for me by Carl Strong. It was light and fast. I called it the Ti bike.

For the most part, I don’t think in terms of naming my bikes. Although I have friends who name their bikes brilliantly, it generally doesn’t occur to me. I must admit, however, that the thought has crossed my mind. That fleeting thought usually goes through my head right after I see that one of my friends has come up with another perfect moniker. So I ponder a minute, don’t come up with anything clever, and drop it all together.

Today I was out taking my sweet time rolling through the countryside on my Quickbeam. I was sitting up, looking around, feeling the breeze, and listening to the birds sing. So I have no idea why the idea came into my head. But there it was…an idea for a name. If I ever decide to give my Quickbeam a name, I believe I might have come up with one that would be perfect on so many levels.

IMG_5128Pokey.

 

In Search of a Breeze

In which my prior week’s unrealistic anticipation leads me to all manner of spot-search silliness, and very little sleep…

It’s been a hot week in north Texas. It isn’t yet the truly hot stuff we’ll have next month, but it certainly was a strong signal that delightful spring weather is over. Normally, I’d probably wait until October to camp again, but I decided to try an experiment to see if it might be feasible to stretch my camping season another month or so. I’d be smart and find a camp site with a refreshing on-shore breeze.

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When I arrived at the camp ground at 7pm, all the sites I imagined in my prior week daydreaming episodes were already taken. My first camp site, the one I’m not even going to count, was stagnant. It didn’t even get off the bike before pedaling back to the ranger station to request a trade. My first true camp site was also a disappointment, but I tried to roll with the circumstances. I set-up my hammock in the path of the only moving air I could find, had my dinner, and retired as darkness took over. Lying sleepy in my hammock, I wondered when it would cool off enough to sleep. I also realized that it was after 10pm, the gate would be closed, and no new folks would be coming it to claim sites. I’m not sleeping anyway, so I could pack my things and move to a new site.

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The second site was about a mile and a half away. It was a treeless area on a sort of peninsula, but had a covered picnic table, and a strong breeze. I set up my hammock diagonally on the cover support columns above the picnic table. I enjoyed the coolness, the gentle rocking, and soon fell asleep. After awhile, the temperature had dropped and I pulled the sheet I brought in place of a sleeping bag over me. A little while later, I stirred from my sleep to eerie quietness. The wind had stopped completely. But since I was comfortably cool, I quickly went back to sleep. In another little while, I was blasted by wind gusts. It wasn’t a breeze. I was being buffeted by strong gusts. My hammock was swinging wildly. It was a little before 5am and I was lying awake thinking about how nice it would be to have a quieter place to sleep. I’m not sleeping anyway, so I could pack my things and move to a new site.

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So I performed my second camp pack up and move in darkness. I found an inland site not far from my original site, but at a higher elevation and a slight breeze. Since it was cooler now, and I was quite tired, finding a site with a couple of decent trees was my main objective. It was quiet, cool, with just the whisper of a breeze. I lost consciousness almost immediately and slept well until the sun came up and shined in my eyes. It was getting warm again and I started thinking of breakfast. Wouldn’t it be nice to have breakfast in a shady spot where I could see the water? I wasn’t sleeping anyway, so I could pack my things and move to a new site.

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I remembered a picnic spot I’ve used often for summer day trips. It has a nice shade, a water view, and a couple of good trees for hammock lounging. It was almost back to the camp site on the peninsula. My old reliable picnic site didn’t disappoint. It was the shade, view, and breakfast set-up convenience I was seeking. My breakfast wonderful, and I had finally found that lake shore breeze I had longed for all week. So I brewed one more cup of coffee, packed my things, and pedaled home.

IMG_4982I learned I CAN extend my camping season. It’s all about finding the right spot.