Monday, July 29, 2013

A taste of Alpine

Alpine Forest, that is.  It's a development up in the mountains that has a wonderful climb we do fairly often.  The round trip isn't long, about 14.5 miles, but it gains over 1,400 ft., some of it quite steep.  We were on the road about 6:30AM and climbing for gold.  We were done by 9AM and safe from the heat of the day.  The descent?  Sublime!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Summer clouds

Laying low, letting the heat of the day fade, Django and I wander out into the sun for his afternoon stroll.  He loves to cross the street and drop down to a small, dry watercourse.  I sit on a boulder in the shade of the oaks and watch a doe and two small fawns eye us with measured concern.  Django is more interested in visiting with his doggie buddies behind the fence.  The clouds boil and climb into a hot July afternoon.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Different days

Back in June at the pass:

Today at the same location:

Got out on a good 34 mile ride as a thunderstorm system was moving out--high humidity, light winds, clouds providing some cover.  I felt like I was back in the Northeast, riding across Maine and New Hampshire, except, of course, for all the dry grass and sagebrush.  Damn it's good to ride!  If I can't climb rocks, this is a very satisfactory replacement.  On my climb to the pass just a couple of days after my hunting trip for trash, I saw the first new beer can and cigarette box--Bud and Marlboro, the number one choices of American litter jerks.  With all the drinking and driving that goes on, it's a wonder we aren't dying and killing at a much higher rate on US roads and highways.  I think about that sometimes when I'm out riding, but I can't let it keep me down and off the bike.  I refuse to live that way.  Besides, perception is not reality, and, for the most part, smart, aware cyclists are safer than pedestrians in cities or car drivers generally.  Bright clothes, a mirror, and good road sense go a long way to making each outing reasonably safe.  Perfectly safe?  No.  You want perfectly safe?  Stay on the couch, wrapped in foam, and die an early death of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.  Safety is so over-rated in this hyper-regulated world.  Yell "Safety!" and armies of twittering morons will rush to constrain your freedoms.  We shouldn't be stupid, but straining for a risk-free life is straining for death, if you ask me.  Death of the soul, of the spirit, of what it means to be alive.  Basically, I've got nothing against video games, but my adventures can't be all virtual.  My thing is REAL reality, true risk, true challenge, actual, tangible rewards.  As my good old dad used to say, "Moderation in all things, including moderation."

Another shot from the road:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The big hunt

One of my favorite cycling roads is Banducci, which has great climbs on both sides of a pass with awesome views (see "Hammer of Doom"), but every time I ride it, I keep seeing more and more trash, and I get so angry at the loser idiots who drive it.  Believe me, I don't think cyclists are cranking way up this pass just to toss a 40 ouncer into the sage!  So my frustration and disgust kept growing.  Why doesn't somebody clean this up, huh?  Somebody indeed.  On my last ride, I'd had enough.   I was going to be the phreakin' change I wanted to see, if ya get my drift.  Dirty Harry style, I went out a purchased a .44 Magnum grabber thingy and a bunch of big garbage bags and went hunting for the heinous spore of Redneckius maxiumus americanus.  Here's how the adventure played out.....

The hunting grounds:

The .44 armed and ready:

First bottle grab:

Rock 'n' roll on the shoulder:

Many, many cig butts--yikes!

 When the Beatles sang "Why don't we do it in the road?" I didn't think anyone took them seriously.  Ewwwwww.....

The mighty White Hunter bags the limit!

Tomorrow I get to ride that piece of road and revel in the trash-free splendor, at least for a little while.  We gotta look after our sacred places, and for road cyclists, that's the road.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Silly post, I know, but DAMN!  It has been at least three months since we had ANY of this.  It's so dry here for so long that we forget that rain is even a possibility.  Here in the remote border regions of Tehachistan we get one or two of these storms a year.  As I type these words, the rain is already easing up, the blue creeping back in, the meteorological spasm fading.  But it was a glorious hosing!  I put in a solid and perfect 30 miles on the bike this morning before the heat of the day.   Then, the clouds gathered, grew heavy with moisture, and boom.  We may not see another like it for the rest of the year, no more rain until January.  Our wettest season is February through April.  Those of you in damp regions are laughing, but when you've gone 100 days without any rain, it's an amazing thing to see, a delight to hear, a gift to smell on the mountain air.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Django rides at dawn

Race the sun and beat the heat, the boyz waz on the road at early thirty.  Should break 90 deg. F. today, chance of  T-storms, a little humid.  Getting out early makes the day.  We had a blast, especially the miles-long cooling downhill after the big climb.  Get out and ride, blokes and blokettes.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pictures from a ride

Slipped out for a quick 20-miler this morning and took a few shots of our own cute little bike path.  It connects two major roads, and we often take it eve if we don't need to.  The ride was uneventful, and a generally in good way, except for a situation I'm sure we've all encountered.  As I neared the top of the first big climb, no shoulder, I'm taking the lane, double yellow line, a SUV closes in behind.  I've got him in my mirror. Up ahead, a work truck and car are closing in--close.   So this is not a good time to pass.  I hold out my hand to warn the SUV, which can easily see the on-coming traffic anyway, but the jerk doesn't care.  He passes into the truck's lane, forcing him and the following car to the side.  It wasn't super close, and I didn't feel like I was about to die or anything, but it just pissed me off.  The ASSUV driver could have easily waiting all of TWO agonizing seconds to make the pass, but why, when you can put everyone at risk?  Moron.  I did my best to shake it off and had a great ride.  I call it the "Double Down" because I get to descend one prime stretch a couple of times by looping back on a different road--schweet.

Ride on, be safe, and keep yer eye on the morons....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Mid-Summer Day's Mountain

For a few brief days, the edge of summer's knife has dulled.  It was time to get up on the mountain, a nearly 8,000 ft. peak not far from home.  It's not a long hike, but it makes life interesting with sections of very steep trail.  Once on the ridge line, a cool breeze helped us dream of autumn, still months of hot weather away.  For a couple of hours, we hiked in the shade of pines and followed a trail in the sky.  It was a nice little escape, just the three of us and the wind in the trees.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


This may not look like a lot to many of you, but this is pure joy to my little cycling heart--and everyone in our area, motorists, too.  It's a road project that added nice, smooth shoulders along a rather sketchy stretch of road.  Except for a couple of short sections, and then rarely, I avoided this road, until now.  Crews are still working on culverts and drainage issues, and striping will be added, but the infamous Highline Rd. now has a fat, smooth shoulder--boooyah!  These shoulders go on for miles, too. I never thought I would see this in my lifetime.  We're kind of a backwoods area of the state, but we've got a good representative, and stuff keeps happening.  I've still got a bike-centric wish list for the roads in our area--don't we all?--but I'm very, very happy about this.  Got out today for a nearly 30 miler with the old Haluzak, two major climbs, on the road a little before 6AM.  I had to stop and document a little groovy cyclishious blacktop love action.

Ride safe!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dawn patrol

How the British cornered the market on thermal units, I'll never know, and while Paul Revere may have squawked "The British are coming!" there is no doubt the thermal units are here, a solid week of temperatures in the mid-90's F.  Down in the Evil Ditch, aka Bakersfield, the mercury has given up, cooked into submission.  Whatever substantial outdoor exercise we get comes early.  This morning, it was Django and me on boys-only dawn patrol, a stiff hike up the "Kim Chee Trail," named by us in honor of the fine Korean gentleman who put it up, taking a few simple hand tools and cutting a sweet little single track through oaks and granite outcrops.  We hike it frequently for a quick escape and exercise.  I snapped the photo above on the descent, already sweating heavily.  I spend afternoons slapping words together, slinging them against the screen to see what sticks.  Can I stand the smell?  Sometimes.  How to bring the journey to life, to make it sing?  Our oldest stories are about journeys, Homer's Odyssey, Moses leading the mob.  Homer spoke of "rosy fingered dawn."  The old blind poet had that right.  Although over 2,500 years have passed since he sang that epic, we still recite it.  I am no Homer, but we all live by these tales, our own shared with others', others' connecting to our own.  The telling makes us who we are, makes us human.  Perhaps the whales' song is about their great oceanic journeys.  We can never know.  The physical struggle of the Continental Divide is over; now it is the spiritual, intellectual side of the trek that pushes back.  Is it any good?  Does it stick?  Do the words speak?  Like any journey, we step into it and navigate as best we can, starting early, before first light.