Saturday, July 28, 2007

Momentous Moment

Yesterday was my last day on the bike. I got out for a nice ride, about 49 miles of the usual hills and such, which I did with only a couple of breaks. The various and sundry joints, parts and bits felt good. I think I'm ready to start my tour. I might have done another ride or two, but the bike shop that is packing and shipping for me needed a some lead time to get it out by the 31st, which I figured would give me a safe margin of error. FedEx and UPS both estimated about five days. I'll give them a few more to play with.

So I loaded Mojo (yes, the Street Machine has been christened) on to the back of our Subaru wagon and dragged her down to the shop. This was another very concrete act on the path to my journey. Getting on the plane will be the real threshold crossing, for sure, but this has a certain heft to it as well. I talked at length with Ed at Action Sports about packing the bike and my proposed tour. Then I walked out into the afternoon furnace that is Bakersfield in late July. Aloha, my friend!

Now, over the next few days, I have to get my other gear together and packed. I'll post some pictures of the mess as it develops and say a few things about some of the gear. My plan is to ship most of my camping kit out the Maine as well. No point in giving the airlines a chance to lose my stuff. I'm going with only carry-on luggage.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Trifecta: Heat, Hills and Headwinds

Yesterday's ride was a toughy, and I planned it that way. I wanted to test myself in unpleasant conditions, and that's what I got--though I had more fun than I expected. It turns out I can handle a variety of weather situations pretty well--heat and cold. By many standards, I suppose, the ride was not extreme, but it was still good to get out and sweat hard. I climbed about 2,000 ft. in about 45 miles with lots of wind and temps about 90 deg. F. when I finished. It was actually a beautiful day with some clouds building over Tehachapi Mtn. and blue skies in abundance. My main concern for the big ride is humidity. It's pretty dry out here in the West, and I know humidity magnifies the heat considerably. I figure I'll acclimate to it, but it still worries me. I plan on getting plenty of very early starts while the weather is cookin'. Since I don't have grandiose mileage objectives, I have a good chance of getting most of my riding done by noon with a crack of dawn start. This will give me plenty of time to write and mingle with the natives. Below are a couple of shots from the ride.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Today's training vid and new stove (beer and gear)

I busted out of town for a few miles and shot this video. I want to post a few of these from the road, too, so this was a chance to practice uploading. I'm getting down to the wire for my departure. I'm taking my bike down to the shop for packing and shipping on the 3oth. Just a few more rides, then off she goes.

(Sorry--some snafu with the video. I'll use Google next time!)

You see below my successful! attempt to make a Pepsi can alcohol stove. Many thanks to Rob over at for turning me onto this technology. Apparently, long distance hikers have been using these for a while, and a recent survey of Appalachian Trail through-hikers (those who go the whole distance in one push in contrast to those who hike a long tail in sections over more than one season) found that this was the only stove with zero failures. It's made by drilling, cutting and mashing together a couple of aluminum cans. A combination of Pepsi and English ales works best. Great fun. Slam down a brew and set the living room on fire. What's not to like? It burns denatured or methyl alcohol and performs quite well. I was able to boil a liter of water in about 8.5 minutes. Fuel is more expensive than a stove that uses gasoline from the pump, but it has no moving parts, requires no pumping, and burns almost silently. It has to be refilled more often, but that's a pretty minor inconvenience given its strengths. Zen Stoves gives a good overview of this technology. Check here for instructions to build your own.