December 4

There was a fatal stabbing on my train the other week. This guy stabbed an older Vietnamese or Chinese man for no apparent reason, walked to the end of my car, and LASD apprehended him. Don’t know why he did what, as I didn’t see him do it. It happened in the car attached to mine, and he walked into my car when we stopped in Duarte.

I can’t get a concealed carry permit in LA county. The reasoning is terrible. Being easy to kill and valuing your own life isn’t enough of a reason for LA. Orange County is easier. In all the places I could carry a gun for self defense, I don’t feel the need for it, and where I can’t, I want one most. Fucked up. I don’t have nice things to say about keeping good people defenseless.

I’ve gone on a few dates lately. I don’t remember the last time I experienced ‘chemistry’, but I easily remember the number of times I’ve been rejected for lack of it. I rarely find someone attractive until I know them decently well enough, and I don’t think I meet enough girls who are similar. It seems everyone know within two dates whether they like you or not, where I am very patient and know that I don’t always like someone right away. In fact, I didn’t like most of my close friends right off the bat, often finding them difficult to deal with, or disagreeable in some ways. In time, you see more of a person, and I fell in love with them, as it were, and I still love them. They are the center of my existence.

Dating can be tiresome. I do enjoy meeting new people and learning about them, and it’s ok to tell some stories about yourself as well, but it is especially challenging for me here in LA without a car and working low wages, living with family, to make things work. I’ve gone on countless dates via dating websites, and have not once entered into a relationship with any of them. I’ve only met girlfriends in person. I also am rarely in a relationship, being one of those people as opposed to those who always seem to have someone, which is a lonely existence. I feel loneliest when surrounded by the most people. I could be sleeping alone in the mountains or desert somewhere, away from anyone I know for weeks, and I wouldn’t be lonely. One day in Los Angeles and I feel it in my chest.

Some observations I’ve made on dating sites (OKCupid, Bumble, and Tinder):

-I received more matches and attention in WA and OR than CA.

-Girls up north are easier to talk to, and more open to conversation.

-Girls in LA often look like Kardashian Klones. I find that look very unattractive, not that my opinion matters much other than I own a penis.

-Up north, girls tended to look more ‘normal’, less makeup, less fake looking, more reasonably priced clothes and whatnot.

-Girls up north tend to go outside. Lots of girls here state they like hiking, and while I know I probably am more outdoorsy than most, their definition of hiking tends to be in cool weather, no snow, and less than 3 miles. My brain is a universe of endless twists and turns, and I need more than 3 miles to unravel a single arm of a galaxy within it. Good luck with that, me.

-I think the inclusion of the ACLU as a prime point in OKCupid is silly, considering how that organization tends to pick and choose their battles, defending criminals at times and letting good people fight alone.

-I get it, you’re all liberal. No, I didn’t vote for Trump. I don’t like salesmen, and I’m not a republican. You probably don’t have to list your political ideals, as that’s the standard here.

-I’m assuming the overwhelming use of the word ‘sarcastic’ as a descriptor has to do with the deluge of low-quality messages girls get from guys, amongst other things. Sarcasm is cool, but I’ve met some real harsh girls who turned me off real fast. You’re meeting a new person, so just kinda chill with it at first, and slowly add more heat until the water is just right.

-OKCupid changed their software so that in order for me to view a message, both her and I must ‘like’ each other. It might be a mobile device application only feature, perhaps, as I don’t use a computer for this, but it hampers the experience. I can see how it helps those who get many messages, but Bumble already does that in a much simpler and meaningful way with their system.

I go on dates for a while, get tired from being busy, take a break for a few months, and then give in and download the apps again sometime later. I’m human, and I seek companionship, and it’s been exceedingly difficult to find in my life, so I keep going back. I rarely meet girls in my normal life, and obviously I’m not going to flirt with girls while I’m at work for many reasons, so it makes sense. Sometimes I meet girls who become friends, which is great, but I already am lucky enough to have a huge family of friends, and I want to spend more time with them. I don’t have enough time to divide up between all of my people, let alone adding new friends to the mix.

I got to thinking the other day that it could be advantageous to legalize prostitution. My buddies tried to get me a hooker in boot camp, and I turned that down repeatedly. I wonder if there would be someone you could get to know for a little bit before you paid them for sex? Some sorta soft hooker lady who was clean and had manners and shit like that. Maybe I’ll just meditate my sex drive away. My sex drive was super low on my tours in 2015 and 16, but it was super high this year for some reason, and with no outlet. Made for some excellent stories about how hard it is to jack off in a no-zip bivy sack. Another reason to buy a tent. Not having $3-500 is a better reason not to. Good ain’t cheap, but that’s a rant for another day.

I don’t know how I could meet new girls with my fucked up lifestyle. There are so many challenges I have to overcome just to hang out with anyone, and trying to meet someone new in a dating context adds to that significantly. Just not having a car here is huge. I’ve had girls tell me straight up that not having a car wouldn’t work out. I get it, really I do. And honestly I feel like a fool being an outsider like this, having to lock my bike to a tree and dodge distracted drivers to meet for a coffee. I once got stood up by a girl in Long Beach, giving me a 70 mile ride for nothing. I was pissed that I lost a day off to that. I find it fucked up that someone will simply stop replying to you when they’re in a vulnerable position like that. No reason given, no excuses, no nothing, just silence.

Still I try. I am happy being with my own company, but love is simply the very best thing I’ve ever experienced, and by this point in my life I’ve experienced a few things that were pretty great. I could become sour and be a dick about all this, but that would be short-sighted, and would discount (struggling to find the right word there) all the amazing women I know who would never do that to someone. I had a thought lately that’s been bouncing around in my head, and that is that if I don’t have anyone to give my love to as it were, I could simply give more love to those around me. Just ask more, give more, care more, that kinda stuff. It can be challenging to do that when you’re you, and you have to isolate or compartmentalizen many of your emotions, for they do you no service otherwise. It is all a lifelong project, anyway.

I hope there aren’t too many spelling errors in this post. Autocorrect often changes my correctly spelled words into different ones based on whatever algorithm they use to determine autofill or whatever.

Adios

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November 14

I do not believe the United States of America will be invaded and conquered by an outside power. I believe the American people will vote away their rights to the government, seeking what is sold to them as safety and security in exchange for free thinking and personal freedom. I believe the people will give up their freedom of speech bit by bit until they can no longer speak freely, and protest. Ironically, they will likely protest to give up these rights.

I believe the people will continue to erode away their right to personal defense until they have no tools with which to defy evil. They will state that nobody needs an AR15, until nobody has self loading rifles with adequate magazine capacity to deter and defy hostile forces. They will give up anything deemed military, leaving themselves with no effective tools for defense from the very people they’re surrendering their arms to.

The American people will give up their free thought in exchange for a safe place to feel. There is no greater security than no longer being a free man or woman. When all is decided for you, you are free from adversity.

I have tried to ignore the state of our country’s people for years, as it brought me grief. Thinking made me angry, as I hated seeing people give up their rights in the thought that it will bring peace and security. People compare our country to other countries which are completely different, and ignoring that all people are capable of good and evil. People are ignorant of how close they are to great evil. I don’t understand how someone can be so detached from the reality of living as to ignore this. I can only think people do not study history and humanity, and thus are simply unaware that we are animals, and animals kill, and animals go to war. Humans are not the only animals which go to war, we are simply the most prominent tool-users to do so, and being a human makes it vibrantly more obvious. Ant colonies invade each other, slaughtering millions over resources, but as they are physically quite small and invertebrates matter little to nearly everyone, such easily studied behavior rarely crosses one’s mind. There are many ways the problems of the big world can be seen mirrored in the problems of the tiny. Life is good and evil, big and small. We are not special, nor unique. We simply seem to be the most arrogant of species to think we are special.

Gun control is a political issue, however violence is not. I think we as people want less violence in society, even as thankfully rare as it is, at least in western society. However I find it ill-focused of us as humans to treat this as a political issue and not simply as an issue of nature. It is the same folly to treat human-induced climate change as a political issue, when it is very much an issue of survival for all of humanity. You’re not discussing politics when you have a gun to your head, so as a race of one (that is, all humans) we would not discuss politics when we have the gun to our own head. We trade our Mother Earth away for short term monetary gain, seeking profit over a healthy lifespan. Certainly if we create synthetic ‘life’ (AI), it will quickly see its creators as their own greatest threat. One can use their imagination to figure out what our artificial children will do to ‘protect’ us from ourselves.

As I consider myself an expert in the topic of firearms, I will focus on this point. I am not a lawyer, and I am a little embarrassed to say I do not know the constitution by heart, but as I was first trained as a marksman, a rifleman, and a Soldier, I will expand upon my thoughts. I find the current trend in my home state of California to be disappointing. I will flatly state that I am deeply disappointed that many of my people who know nothing of firearms or human violence and the history of such things want good free people such as myself to be unable to keep and train with basic weapons, such as self-loading rifles. People who identify as leftist or liberal will grab hold of popular terms such as AR15 or assault rifle, as if they understood AR15’s are far from considered powerful in the firearms world, or what makes an assault rifle what it is. They blindly and with a strong emotional charge carry this into their ignorant public fight in the same way those who identify as Conservative do with anti-marijuana nonsense or Pro-Life, as if anyone is anti-life. One would think we would have effective separation of church/religion and state by now, but clearly this has not happened yet, very unfortunately so, as this creates strong biases which should be eliminated when dealing with a group of humans as diverse as Americans.

One thing that really has me thinking lately is how people will bring up the genocide of the native tribes in America, whilst at the same time supporting ‘gun control’. You’re pushing laws upon the current natives that will disarm them from the same thing happening. You are disarming good regular people so they cannot defend themselves against the same entity which committed the atrocities of yesteryear. How is it that people are not understanding this very obvious connection? My emotionally response is that these people want war, and are pro-violence, violence which would be perpetrated on the people with guns, which could thus clearly be considered gun-violence. Gun violence is a silly term, however, as if guns can commit violence like a box of tools could disassemble a car without a human using them.

It seems that humans like to feel like they’re helping without looking at the long term effects of their decisions. They want to ban firearms, which will only work on those who follow the laws. So, you will be taking firearms out of the hands of law abiding civilians, the same ones who are not committing crimes. What about criminals? Why aren’t you anti-violence? Why not fight against violent crime? Why not be pro-self-defense? Is it because this is too complicated, and would confuse your allies who just want to chant a simple line about how the NRA is bad and school shootings are on their hands?

And how about those who call for stronger background checks? Have you ever purchased a firearm? What do you truly know about the process? I cannot tell you how many times I have run background checks on people purchasing guns, because I’ve done it countless times. Are there people out there who can legally buy a gun who I’d prefer not to? Yes. However, I also believe the majority of individuals I know would be unfit to operate motor vehicles if it were up to me to decide.

I am simply a mind inside this meat-vehicle observing life around me. I observe endlessly, and one major point I observe is a lack of respect for their own actions. As a bicycle courier, commuter, and enthusiast, I am constantly staring down the barrel of hundreds of motorists wielding the most powerful weapon commercially available: an automobile. One could certainly kill more people with a Hyundai Accent than a rifle, at least the average poorly coordinated civilian who has a feeble understanding of tactics, marksmanship, teamwork, and what they can achieve (gut). I see the same mirrored in firearms. I was trained very deeply with firearms from the very start, and I am very grateful for this. When someone has a firearm in their hand, I can virtually feel a burning laser pointing out of the muzzle. If you muzzle sweep me, I can feel exactly where that laser burns.

When I was lax with training in the past, I sometimes placed an open and clear firearm on a table pointed toward people and their directions of travel. I was made aware of this by my peers, and rectified my behavior. All guns are always loaded. When someone asks me if a gun is loaded, I have to hold back my disdain and remember that they may not have the same training and experience as I. I triangle encourage my people to get training ASAP. If you purchase a firearm or weapon with the knowledge that you may need to defend yourself or your loved ones with it, you should absolutely train with it. Training is expensive, but necessary. I wish all firearms owners trained seriously, but everyone lives a different life, and as I am just a regular schmuck, I should not be regulating other people’s lives.

In closing, I hope perhaps someone will read my words and think critically about the matter. Obviously I do not want people to hurt each other. Hell, I’m promoting self defense training for crying out loud! Go train! Pay attention to your surroundings! Read the room when you walk in! Be aware of where people are, and who they are, their demeanor, their vibe. Don’t bury your nose in your phone! If you get hurt, who will you blame for your lack of attentiveness? Nobody will come fix your problems! You are the master of your own destiny. If you think at all, you will understand that we are still very much wild animals, and that wild animals are capable of a great many things, not all of them pretty, and that the fools who believe otherwise will likely suffer badly for their ignorance. Pay attention. Tell your loved ones that you love them, for the time always, and I repeat always comes when you don’t ever see them again. The pain of not telling someone you love them only to have them killed or die of other causes is immense, and unforgettable. Do not make this mistake.

Love yourself, and your people. Stay alert, stay alive.

Early March 2018

I’ve found myself stretched thin between all of my people. I’ve made plans I can’t keep with many people, ignored close friends, and missed many of the details that make present friendships special. Social media has proven to be too much for me, so I’ve deleted my Facebook, leaving only the messenger application active to keep in touch with people. I can’t handle the nonsense and endless stimuli. I found myself checking the phone so much that I finally killed the battery in a day on a regular basis. Thus, I quit. I nearly had a panic attack whenever I’d get a text message. It was driving me crazy, and I couldn’t get away from it for long enough to make a difference.

I’ve pulled out of events I’ve been invited to, and am resetting myself. Instead of ignoring some people and spending time with different folks, I’ve simply stopped altogether, and will slowly come back out to just a few people until I find a balance I can maintain. I’m afraid I’ve hurt some people, but I know I’ve hurt myself over and over, knowing I’m being a dick to some of my buddies, and I haven’t seen some of my closest friends in a long time. I’m socially exhausted. I yearn to ride my bike for a long time alone into the deserts and mountains to suffer and strip away all the layers until I can be a good person again. I do not really like myself right now, what I’ve made myself into, what I’ve let myself become in this city, again.

I have struggled with depression for my whole life, and I’ve found that I must lead a simple balanced lifestyle with a lot of exercise in order to be happy. I hope to someday be able to support myself on the road by bike, so that I may travel and see the world, become good again, be happy, be simple, and meditate through hard work and suffering. It has been the cure to depression for me. Cure is probably too black and white of a word, as obviously a time could come where I no longer wished to pedal, but this is speculative, merely left open for understanding and not to create expectations which cannot be worked with.

Not that anyone reads this, nor do I wish anyone to, but I am sorry for who I’ve been lately, and sorry for my absence, which will likely continue for some time until I can find a balance I can live with.

I’ve picked up some discounted Profile Designs aero bars with flip up pads, which I’ve installed on the Disc Trucker. This allows me to have the use of the flat portion of my bars, a huge benefit to comfort. I can comfortably sit up and relax my core and back muscles, as well as get low in the aero bars and push out more miles at a higher speed with great comfort. Aero bars are so helpful on long distance bikes, as you can cut through headwinds (a constant feature of my reality), find a few extra MPH, and you get a real relaxed comfortable position to lie in without stressing your hands or arms. People complain of the flip ups rattling on bumpy roads, which hasn’t driven me crazy just yet, but I’ll still have to find a solution for this, as I can’t stand unnecessary noise in my equipment. I like silently riding around.

I’ve got but one piece of equipment left for the bike, the frame bag. Central to a long distance bike, as it can carry lots of water as well as smaller heavier objects close to the center of gravity in a space that was nearly completely unused previously. I’ve saved up for a while to buy this bag, as its expensive, but having it will allow me to carry a water bladder, as well as eliminate the need for panniers except if carrying climbing gear. I used front panniers on a low rider rack during my last trip a few weeks ago, where I rode up and over Windy Gap into the desert south of Ridgecrest. The items that went in those panniers would easily fit in the frame bag, which makes for a more aerodynamic, better handling, easier to move around while dismounted bike. The panniers are a problem on narrow trails, they cause excessive wheel flop (where your front wheel flops to one side upon stopping or moving slowly), and they are a pain in the ass during water crossings. Aside from that, they weigh significantly more than a frame bag, with the rack and bags together. I will probably strap some stuff to my cargo cages on the front fork, but I might not even need that. Or perhaps I will put more bottles there, though I doubt I need that either.

I already have a 3 liter bladder from Source which I’d like to put in the frame bag, but the straw is too short to reach the handlebars. I’ll probably get a replacement from a hardware store or online and mount it on there, maybe with an ID card spring thing to keep it in place. Having a straw to drink from means I wouldn’t have to stop to drink as often, which allows me to stay better hydrated, a huge plus.

With 3l in the frame bag, I’ll also have 3 bottles on the bike. One on the downtube facing the ground, and two on my rear seat pack rack. This is probably enough for anything I’ve planned or done in the past. I brought more on my ride to Yosemite via the 395, but didn’t drink more than maybe half, as I was able to resupply often along the way. The only modification I need to make to the system before my next big trip is I need to replace the cages on the seat pack rack with Lezyne Power Cages, which I already have. These retain bottles much better than conventional cages, and are much sturdier.

I had meant to ride to Mt Baldy this weekend, something I bailed on. I was initially going to leave at 1am, ride through the morning, and reach the start of the hiking around 7am. Around midnight I was tired from the frustrating work on the bike that day, so I went to bed with my alarm set for 6. I figured I didn’t need aaaaalll day to ride 30 miles to the start. Upon waking up, I said fuck this and went back to sleep. I was fine with my decisions until I went on my ride today. Often when I ride, I smoke and think about everything, good and bad. I was harder on myself when I smoked than when I was sober, and often am about many things. I slowly accepted that I didn’t do it and that it’s not a big deal while riding down the hill. I’m glad I did that, as I tend to beat myself up eternally about a great many things.

This program is starting to have issues, so I will conclude this post.

Over the mountains…

…to California City this last weekend. My buddies and I wanted a desert trip, so they drove to Cal City while I rode. Up R39 to Adam’s at Crystal Lake for coffee and a chat, then up to Deer Flat and up the dirt road that goes up Mount Mount Hawkins. Turned left to hike up the trail to Windy Gap, of which I pushed the entire way. Up to the PCT where I pushed my bike to Little Jimmy campground, where I hooked up with the dirt road down (Thanks Mark). Down to ACH, out to Baden Powell, down Big Rock Creek to Bob’s Gap and straight north to a hamburger at DJ’s in Lake Los Angeles. Ate a club sandwich and fries (it was good), stretched, and rode east to the edge of Adelanto where I bivied about 100 meters from the road, if that far.

I brought the tiny Inertia X Lite sleeping pad, which packs down to the size of a Red Bull can but is only big enough for your butt to shoulders. Thus, you have to learn how to maximize its comfort. I had my Hill People Gear Mountain Serape (tactical snuggie) as usual, but temps were supposed to be in the high 30-40’s, so I brought my issue poncho liner, just the same old boring one everyone uses, not the dope 3M one that may not actually be dope cause I’ve never used them, only seen em. Point is I had a poncho liner which I doubled up, and put atop the sleeping pad (which in turn was atop my bivy sack). I bought a small Mammut pillow from Backcountry a while ago, and used that. I don’t think I was cold, as I slept well, but I may have just been tired enough for that to work. I’ve had a poor night sleeping on the tiny mat before, so I am trying to make things better without adding too much bulk. This setup is good for now.

Woke up before sunrise, and just chilled until the sun hit me and could keep me warm while I packed my layers. That’s one of the things I enjoy that I can’t really do unless I’m alone. I can move on my time and do all the little things that make me so comfortable outside. I didn’t cook breakfast, just drank water and packed. Got some snacks in Adelanto before turning north and riding into a strong headwind until 3:40pm when I reached California City and our camping spot. Brian brought my big comfy sleeping bag, pad, and pillow in his truck, so I only had to worry about sleeping like shit for one night.

We had a campfire and chilled out. Had some beers. Talked some shit. Good times.

-=Thoughts=-

I’m changing how I carry all my stuff on my bike from racks and panniers to backpacking type bags with occasional use of a rack. I hope to have a frame bag for Vostok before my next big trip, whenever that’ll be, as then I could eliminate racks and panniers completely for trips where I’m not carrying climbing gear. I had a seat pack and handlebar bag setup on this trip, with two small Arkel panniers on a Tubus low rider rack lightly loaded in front. I didn’t hate it, and I think it would’ve been better than a rear biased load when I was on dirt going uphill, as a high rear load can have poor balance. I could’ve placed all the stuff I had in my front panniers into a framebag. More money. Brian asked me why I don’t just make my own, cause it’s relatively simple. I have a smaller frame bag from Oveja Negra on Bike Jones, so I have something I could study. Im too lazy and I don’t have a sewing machine, but I bet I could probably sew a buncha dope shit if I did. I have a buncha ideas for soft goods and clothes etc that I could make relatively easily. Wonder how much a good reliable machine is…

Arright, so uhhhh let’s see what I thought about with this trip, now that I’ve said all that.

-Daily life on a bike is easy and relaxing. Some of it is hard work, but a lot of that is good. A day pushing a bike up a steep shitty loose hill is probably better than being in the city.

-Mileage for the trip was 144 miles and about 11,000ft gain 8,000 loss. I didn’t bring a cycling computer cause the numbers are just a distraction most of the time, and I damaged the cord and haven’t fixed it. I’m enjoying not giving a shit about the mileage, which is inconsequential to me now as I’m not using the odometer in conjunction with a paper map (thus it isn’t necessary). Also no strava cause it’s just another thing to fuck with, and it kills battery. I wanna get away from electricity on these trips.

-I want my white Safari Bill hat to be tan

-I need to double or triple wrap the flats on my handlebars

-Had one flat (rear) on the 395 on Saturday. Couldn’t see what did it but I’m assuming it was ply wire from all the retreads on the shoulder. I’ve had a million flats from those. I was riding on WTB Nano 700×40’s at around 75% highest recommended pressure, whatever that figure is. Coulda used my bulletproof Schwalbe Mondials, but they don’t do so great on dirt, especially with a bike carrying any load. The Nanos were great as usual on dirt, though sometimes a little vague with the front load.

-I’m looking for a tire that will fit the Disc Trucker, the widest 700 or 29er I can get that offers solid dirt/rough road performance with great puncture resistance. Schwalbe makes the Land Cruiser, but that doesn’t look much better than the Mondial. They’ve also got the GT 365, but I don’t think that’ll help a lot either. Might just get Continental Race King 29×2’s, which are highly recommended online and are sometimes very cheap ($25-30 each).

-My front fender is going to be sent to the shadow realm. The rear fender is solid and provides no grief as usual, but the fronts on the Planet Bike Cascadia fenders are tricky. Mine has been through a lot so I guess I can’t be too mad?

Arright I’m going to sleep. Peace.

Out of Malibu

Upon riding north from my dear friend Margie’s place in Pacific Palisades, I decided to turn back. I’d run out of motivation before even starting the trip, and riding alongside heavy traffic on PCH finally took the last of the wind from my sails. I’m low on funds and with no income in sight it is hard to justify sticking it out on a route which has some holes in it. The best section of riding is closed due to the slide in Big Sur, so the most enjoyable part of the trip (while alone, that is) would be replaced by a hot inland section of riding with more traffic.

I’ve applied to a variety of jobs ranging from sandwich delivery via bicycle to administrative work. I applied for an office job at a bicycle touring company up north, but they informed me they won’t be giving me an interview. I didn’t expect such quick rejection, so to speak, as it usually takes much longer for companies to tell me they’re not interested.

My intention is to take the AMGA Single Pitch Instructor exam as soon as I can afford it. I had intended to also take the Adventure Cycling Association’s Tour Leader Course, at the end of which the instructors could take note of your performance with regards to a possible job as a tour guide. It is risky to spend the $700 or so on a course I don’t require just to possibly get an interview. That is a very huge chunk of money for me, as my income is typically less than $8,000 a year. It is more sensible to pursue objectives with a higher probability of profit.

If I have any spending money, which I seriously doubt, I would like to work towards replacing my current bike with one that better suits me. It feels wrong to say this, as if my current bike is a living being and will sustain emotional damage from my thoughts, but I would be much better suited by a different bicycle. The bike I’m looking to build has already been outlined, and thus there is nothing new to share.

Assuming I could afford to build a new bike, I would like to try my hand at bicycle racing, specifically self-supported endurance races. I’d like to attend an audax/rando ride, which can be done with what I have now, as well as a road bike race, which would ideally be done with the new bike. I am pretty sure I’d enjoy the audax ride, but not the road bike race, so it will be an interesting step into a new world. I don’t particularly find myself a very professionally-athletic person, but I am very competitive in a quiet way, so I think I’d enjoy at least some aspects of it. I abhor most rules in sports, and what I’ve seen of professional road races certainly turns me off, so I’m going in with no expectations. Perhaps I will smoke some guys who have too much money, or I’ll just finish at the back of the pack on a heavy bike. Who knows.

Assuming I had a mountain bike, I’d also like to do some bikepacking. My desire to go backpacking on the JMT and PCT in recent years translates well to bikepacking, as I’ll be able to afford it even more easily, as I can ride to and from the objective, and will ride away from people and traffic. I don’t mind road rides, but riding alongside hundreds of cars on the PCH with the constant noise and fumes really diminished my desires for a personal speed record attempt at the route to the Bay Area.

After my trip up the coast last year, I’d been dreaming of returning to repeat the route at speed with minimal equipment, whilst still remaining self-supported. This last ride was my attempt per-se, and I hate to blame my performance on my tools, but I’d really like to wait to try once more when I’ve built a better bike and ditched a significant amount of weight by switching from a rack and panniers to bikepacking bags. Yet another large equipment investment. While not a silly one, it will probably cost about $700 for all the bags needed: a frame bag,large anti-sway saddle bag, handlebar bag, gas tank bag, and perhaps something else for the aero bars or whatever. They’ll obviously be used very often, as the bike will be my everyday driver/commuter, so it’s not a waste of money, just a lot of money. It doesn’t make it any easier to spend that kind of cash, even knowing it contributes to making my daily life significantly easier.

I’ll need to keep busy until I find solid employment. I’ve ridden all the local roads, explored almost all the spots, and find it hard to be motivated to do the same 6,000ft climb to go spend one night away from the city. It is quite the investment of stamina to get away when you live at the bottom of the hill. It’s easy to be grateful to have my mountains here, but it doesn’t get much easier to complete the work of getting into them over and over again. I am a strong cyclist now, and have the mountains to thank for it. I often wonder how it will feel to ride these same long steep roads on a lighter, faster bike, one that will weigh less than my current bike even when outfitted for a night out. It’s something exciting to look forward to.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

I’ve returned to LA to drop off the trailer, reconfigure the bike, and head up the coast by next week. I’ve learned a lot about what to take on my next bike climbing trip as outlined in a previous post. I will next be applying what I learned from my first trip up the coast as well as everything else into the trip ahead.

I’ve replaced my Schwalbe Mondial tires with 700×32 Panasonic RiBMo tires, which are lighter, much faster, and much quieter. They offer more puncture protection than other tires ive been using, though nothing compares to the Schwalbes, on which I’ve had zero flats. I will be riding on paved roads the entire way north, and I hope there won’t be so many damn goat heads growing along the way. I’ve had two flats in the last 24hrs from those.

I will be testing my setup out this weekend with a camping trip near Crystal Lake, so I can’t comment on how well everything works yet. That said, I’ve removed the front rack and mounted the Blackburn cargo cages to the front fork. I’m not sure what I’ll be putting here yet, as I originally figured my sleeping kit was going there, but the sleeping bag (Hill People Gear Mountain Serape) is mounted to my bars now.

I bought a pair of Profile Designs aero bars from the used gear place in Bishop for all of ten bucks. They mount to 26mm bars, and I had 31mm or whatever on the bike, so I also bought a Salsa drop bar from the shop for $30, another solid deal. I’ve since mounted these and done a ride up R39 to the OHV area for 37 miles or so. I would like wider bars that allow my hands to fit comfortably on the flats next to the aero pads, but I can’t afford that yet. Been looking at the Crust Bikes Leather Bar, which has recently changed names. That one is 66.6cm wide, but has an upswept geometry that might not allow me to mount the aero bars. Who knows. Those are the handlebars I want on the next bike so I’ll figure it out later.

The aero bars allowed me to get low and comfortable on flat sections where I didn’t need immediate access to my brakes. Riding fast in traffic is much easier now, and I’m able to ride more aggressively. I had a lot of fun doing that last night. I’m looking forward to the long and otherwise boring sections of flat riding on the coast, of which there are many. The hills people talk about while touring the coast are no big deal after riding in the mountains, and I’ll be carrying less than most people.

I’m planning on carrying Ortlieb classic back roller panniers on the back. Gotta patch a hole an animal chewed in one in Yosemite. They’re waterproof otherwise. I’ll be using the same Surly rear rack, and probably mounting my Maxpedition Sabrecat on the top behind the saddle. That pack is like a real fancy modernized USGI ALICE buttpack. It will hold small items like batteries and tools as well as anything I’d like to access quickly, such as a thin layer, beanie, and so on.

I also picked up one of those tiny Klymit ultralight sleeping pads, the one with the big holes in it that only goes from your shoulders to your ass. It smashes down to the size of a small Red Bull can, whereas my big comfyboi Thermarest air pad is like a giant bucket of mayonnaise. I reckon it’ll be fine for short trips where I’ll only be sleeping on it outside for a couple days in a row. I think I’ll still bring my big one on extended trips, as it’s super comfy and hasn’t sprung a leak yet. Thanks, Hikin Jim! I’ll find out if it’s miserable on Saturday night. It was $25, normally $60 or so. Looks to be unused, and came with the stuff sack and tiny pump, only missing the repair kit. I can probably patch holes with inner tube patches.

I’d like a down sleeping bag that smashes down super small sometime in the future, something good to a bit below freezing. The HPG Mountain Serape is an outstanding piece of gear and one of my favorite possessions overall, but it lives above 40 degrees or so. My 15 degree bag is huge, so I only bring it when absolutely necessary. Anywho.

I’m looking for a small pillow as well. I’ve got the outstanding Nemo Fillo Luxury pillow, which is super comfy, but it takes up a lot of space when not in use. I’d just cram clothes in a stuff sack, but my sleeping system relies on me wearing my warmest puffiest stuff while I sleep to stay warm. I’ll probably use a pannier as a pillow. I’ve used one of the cheap Chinese inflatable ones from amazon before, but it developed a leak I couldn’t even detect, and thus couldn’t repair on my trip last year.

I am looking at making a Tyvek bivy sack out of materials on hand, as this will weigh less and take up less space than my UK Army issue bivy sack. I’ll be sleeping in a bigass shipping envelope. Maybe I can make a damn pillow? And bikepacking bags and all kindsa stuff.

Maybe I’ll find a way to get sponsored so I can spend all my money on food instead of spending a chunk of it on gear. No idea how to do that.

Arright, I’ll shut up for now.

Bike Tour Climbing Setup

Another technical post to be updated as time goes by with regards to climbing equipment and mindset on a bike powered trip or whatever.

GEAR

I think having doubles from .4-2 with a #3 and small cams and nuts is still a good idea. It’s what I brought this time and I’ve used each piece. I used a #4 yesterday to protect a sort of roof move, which I borrowed from Dan. I rarely use 4’s in my travels, so I’d still leave it behind. I might leave the 3 behind and bring a slung hex in that size. Maybe even leave one of the 2’s behind and bring a slung hex in that size as well. Most of my climbing is on moderate terrain to 5.9 or so, and I tend to run things out so having a hex would be good.

I brought the Wild Country Superlight nuts, which are offset alloy nuts with a single wire brazed to the nut. They’re great for aid in Yosemite, as they slot into pin scars real well. I’ve found they’re a bit trickier to fit into average placements, and the standard alloy offsets are quite a bit easier to place. I might just bring a single set of those instead next time.

The smallest cam, a #3 Wild Country Zero, could stay behind. I use the #1 BD X4 more often.

I think instead of a cordelette I’d like to bring two real long dyneema runners. The cord will last longer and is more versatile, but the dyneema makes a little more sense for bike tour climbing things.

I would straight up leave climbing shoes behind. My La Sportiva Gandalfs resolved with Stealth C4 are more than sufficient for most routes, and I have done so much climbing in them that actual rock shoes rarely provide any benefits. They’re just a bit more sensitive and edge better than Gandalfs.

I would install good quality flat pedals from Shimano so that I could wear the Gandalfs while riding, or sandals. Going to a Huarache style sandal would be nice, as they take up less space and the front probably doesn’t catch on stuff as much as Teva Original style sandals, which gets real annoying. The fact that Huaraches scrunch up real small is a huge advantage on a bike. Sometimes mass is more important than weight, as space is always at a premium.

My goal would be to not take a trailer. Trailers are convenient, allowing you to carry water and store things in a large tub which is very water resistant and can be accessed very quickly, unlike roll top bags or other stuff.

On this trip I brought ice tools, an ice axe, and two sets of crampons. One set of crampons fits on any shoes, and another is specific to boots (semi auto). If I expect to climb ice as I did on this trip, boots would be necessary as well as semi auto crampons. This would change everything, and I would go for a real alpine setup with a single rack, light nuts, so on and so forth. If you’ve got money, I’d go with longer shafted ice tools that can be used like a conventional axe and climb steep ice with, like the Black Diamond Venoms, I think they’re called. That way you don’t need a conventional axe as well. I’m tall so I would need the tools to be 60+cm, which could take some getting used to on steep ice, but most of what I want to climb is only up to maybe 70 degrees so it’s not a problem.

Rope. So, I have a 70m 9.2mm. Works great for most stuff. I reckon I’d bring the absolutely lightest skinniest single rope in 60m available, dry treated and bi-pattern. This would mean leaving the Silent Partner behind. I would need to practice rope soloing using other techniques. Probably can’t use a Grigri with that either. More compromises. Can’t count on having partners, so perhaps count on freesoloing, which is what is done most of the time as the terrain is quite easy (maybe 5.7).

So, to break down changes from this trip, replace the #3 and one #2 Camalot with slung hexes, a lighter shorter rope, leave the superlight nuts behind, just bring your best climbing approach shoes, install flat pedals on the bike, replace cordelettes with long dyneema runners, and the lightest single 60m rope you can get. If you want to do snow and ice dominant mountaineering, a single rack with the superlight nuts, slung hexes instead of cams above .75, a couple titanium knifeblade pitons, and light mountaineering boots instead of approach shoes and you’re golden. Two ice tools that are in between an ice tool and conventional axe in concept and length, and good 12pt steel crampons would go great. Titanium ice screws would probably be outstanding, though I’ve never placed one so they might require more effort than steel.