Monthly Archives: May 2010
The pacific coast bike route might just be my favorite thing in the world. I had a day off so I eagerly rode down to Santa Cruz and continued my way south, until evening approached and i had to turn back. I didn’t have a map or anything as i figured it would be pretty easy to just follow the coast. I soon picked up the bike route though as it’s pretty well signposted, i actually forgot about the official route until i saw the signs. I cycled 65 miles along the scenic coast and loved every minute of it. I mean there’s a different beach every 2o minutes or so, and you get a nice breeze from the sea whilst riding, what’s not to love.
One thing i like about cycling is that you absorb your surroundings. Back home i spent a lot of time riding behind buses, not because i liked getting high of the petrol fumes, but rather i used them as a wind breaker. You can imagine how sweet it was, to now be cycling next to thousands of strawberry’s, growing 6 feet away from me. The smell was out of this world, i could almost taste it. It was easily the nicest smell i have ever encountered, and i was in no rush to cycle on. I were planning on Armstrong’ing it down the coast to Mexico, but after sampling the delights of coastal riding, i will definitely allow more time.
Is this the road to Saratoga? I asked the old man walking beside the road. From the look on his face i knew what he was thinking. Yeah, i know, it’s really far, and I’m on a bike and it’s all uphill. Well, he said, it’s only uphill until you get to the top. I like your style old man, i like your style. This was my mantra for the next 2 hours straight. 62 miles to the shop and back.
The ride up was challenging but sweet. The majestic redwoods made for scenic riding and provided much needed shade from the blazing sun. This was the first time i have ever got off my bike during a climb to take a rest. I usually like to go to the limit, but when there’s a lot of miles on the table, i have to ration out the juice to make the distance. REI is probably the best store i have been to! You name it, they have it, and more. After establishing myself as the ‘hero’ of the bike department. I made my choices quickly because nightfall was approaching, and the road back was suicidal at night. So, after a stop to get ‘fuel’ for the ride back, which consisted of pringles, biscuits, almonds, $5 worth of water and a banana. I made my way out of town.
The bad :
After installing my rear bike light i made for the 800m climb. I only had my vest and flip flops on and it were getting colder and darker by the minute. The road was windy with no street lights and or houses for miles. For an hour i slowly climbed, now loaded with all my gear that i bought, Stopping only to rest my legs and eat as much as i could before my feet went numb. It’s only uphill to the top i thought, it’s all down hill from here. So when i reached the top just before it was pitch black, with no moon, i were relieved to have gotten the hardest part over with. Yeah right, coasting downhill for over an hour with only a head torch to light the winding road, is exciting at best. In my case, the wind chill made it freezing and as well as having serious concerns for my exposed feet, my thighs started to cramp up. Then a deer hops to the edge of the road and judging from it’s reaction it was equally as scared as i was, well OK i win, i almost wet myself. Now im thinking it’s really wild out here and who knows what’s out there. I had to slow down and be hyper alert, it was pretty intense.
2 minutes later i look to the opposite side of the road to see some guy digging whatever the hell he was digging. As i shone my light on what my senses directed me to, this guy gazed over his shoulder all sinister looking. It was creepy to say the least. Then i thought, maybe he ran over a deer and was burying it, that made sense right, apart from the fact that there was no car in sight. Highly suspicious! OK, so i witnessed a dead body disposal and this guy is gona call his partner, (there’s always a partner) and they are going to run me over and nobody will ever know. I seriously thought this for like 5 minutes and then my legs hurt so bad i were waiting for him to come and do me a favor.
I never thought i would be so happy to see a street light and somewhere with four walls!
This is a marvelous example of nature at it’s best. No need to get creative with dinner, just whack this on the table (honey roasted maybe) and watch jaws drop. I don’t see why veggies have to be all uniform and perfect looking, it’s just not a reality, GM sucks. Supermarket veg is crappy, here on the farm you get a wide range of shapes and sizes, organic – the way things should be.
Montreal’s riding like a dream, it took just two days to fix her up.I had a minor hitch with a too small bottom bracket that were messing up the front derailer’s ability to extend fully. Picked one up from the ‘bike church’ in Santa Cruz. People go to the church to learn how to fix up their bikes and buy used parts. It’s where the cool kids go, I saw one hipster dude with a bike that had 4 tennis balls in the wheel, near the hub, it looked pretty awesome. Being in Santa Cruz and seeing really cool bikes every other second has really made me want to build my own fancy colour co ordinated ride. But it’s not meant to be, actually instead of making my ride look better i’m trying to make it look crappy and undesirable to any potential devil-child-bike-thieves. Code name Operation gypsy-fy is in effect. I’ve got some scrap material, stickers and othe cheesy stuff.
So Apart from the BB, everything went smoothly. Bob trails beautifully, i took a downhill at 40 mph and it handled sweet. I didn’t have it fully loaded though so i still need to try that out..
Bonuses of building your own touring bike:
I use the term touring bike loosely, you can tour on anything really, to paraphrase my man Janne Corax ‘ it all depends on your legs, determination and ability to improvise’. However doing a self build has some great advantages.
To start with it’s fun, i were a little anxious to begin with as it were my first build and i weren’t quite sure if it were all going to work out. Luckily it it did and Montreal is the sweetest ride ever.
Bike – Use what you have now or buy used or even a new frame, whatever works for you. I went with a $40 bike of craigslist. It’s steel lugged has a relaxed geometry and braze-ons for a rear rack. I would have liked to have front fork mounts for a rack, but beggars cant be choosers.
Customization – It’s nice being able to pick and choose whatever parts you like, be it for performance, aesthetics or just to suit your budget. When you’re going to be putting a lot of miles in, the minor details like that small groove in your drop bars, will make for a more pleasant ride.
Skills – I learned so much about bike mechanics that i’m much more confident in my ability to fix any problems that might occur along the way. Also, if i need to change a part or something, instead of relying on some dude in a bike shop, i feel i can make an informed decision on what will work best for me. Maintenance will also be easier now i know whats what.
Overall it’s a really satisfying experience and i feel Montreal and I have both grown together in what can only be described as a beautiful thing, ha ha.
Ultimately, I feel pretty confident of Montreal’s ability to spin me down to Argentina, and thats all that counts…..
Scott and Pam at Earth Cycles in Santa Cruz.
dude at the bakery for giving me extra donuts.
Jeff for cycling with me to Scotts Valley.
(working up at the new farm)
Random: hey dude, i would be careful walking around here in sandals.
Me: yea i know, thats how i like to do it though…
Random: you know just yesterday i chopped up a rattlesnake with my root chopper, just blitzed right over it..
Me: O really, i didn’t know there were snakes around here…
Random: yea there’s snakes, poisonous too, i took it home and skinned it..
Me: you skinned it!?
Random: hell yeah, I’m gona make a headband out of it….it’s a native thing..
She’s a beauty ain’t she?
So i finally got a bike, i say finally but it has only really been a week or so, and i needed some time to adjust to all the newness, before i went all out on the bike hunt. So after an unsuccessful trip to San Francisco, and daily scouring’s of graigslist, things weren’t looking too great. I saw a lot of bikes, but usually one factor would be off, like the size, or frame material. I figured i just needed time, and i was partially right, the other thing i needed was help. Luckily for me i got it in the form of Scott, an experienced long distance tourer and bike shop owner. Within 24 hours of meeting Scott, i had a bike that was exactly what i was looking for. We picked her up in a parking lot in Downtown San Jose. In full working condition, new tires, no major dents or scratches and a bargain at only $40.
Montreal is older than me and weighs an absolute ton, i like the retro stem shifters and the handlebars, but they gotta go. As do the steel wheels, in fact i’m gona change everything apart from the frame. I spent all day talking parts with Scott and ordered everything i need to make this bike spin down to Argentina. As well as giving me a good price on parts, Scott is also going to let me build the bike in his workshop, sweet! Thank you Scott..
Here’s a rundown:
Wheels – hand-built, mavic rim, 36 spoke,
Tires – schwalbe marathon plus, 1.75′s
8 speed cassette
front and rear dérailleur
wide drop bars
bar end shifters
v brake compatible road brake levers
bob yak trailer
I tackled some pretty steep hills today, partly to get in shape, but mostly to brake in my brookes saddle which feels oddly comfortable, yet at the same time like sitting on a concrete brick, it’s weird. It’s gona take me a while to get used to riding in the heat though, dehydrations a biggie. Riding on the other side of the road is weird as well, hopefully it wont take long to adjust to it..7 am start – bed beckons
(outside the laundromat)
Random: Hey, nice shoes man, what do ya call em?
Me: they’re called five fingers..
Random: where ya from?
Me: Sheffield, England…
Random: o yea..u know I’ve been to 22 countries in my time..
Me: wow, where’s your favorite?
Random: India man, India..as soon as you step of the plane, you can smell it, it’s just in the air dude, it’s like fucking nirvana..
Me: yea, i wanna go India sometime..
Random: Goa man, Goa..I lived there for 10 years..
it….is…. awesome….. have you seen the 2nd Bourne Supremacy movie?
Random: you know that house on the beach in the beginning….
that was my house!!
$35 a month..
dude, i used to sit outside and i would spit into the Arabian ocean..