After copious amounts of Dicking Around™ the Irvine/Santa Ana area we finally pushed out to a campsite we found in Crystal Cove State Park. It was quickly reminiscent of our camp out in Black Diamond Mines last week with it’s climbs that resemble walls. The biggest difference though was the fact I was still in shorts, the weather was hard to beat…. Until about 5am when it started to rain. So this is how it begins…
The park itself was pretty stunning that early in the morning but frankly I could have stood an hour or two more of sleep.
Hurry up and wait, as the saying goes. I rushed and rushed to make my departure but my train was oh so predictably late. This is not a picture of my train.
I am headed south for Baja Divide, but not before a little bit of derping around the now slightly less podunk town in which I was reared. I rarely make it this far south on the central coast so I decided to further shake-down the bike in the bushwacking grounds of my youth.
Eh, this bike is more my speed. I never did get very good at dirt jumping.
Modern progress! I’m moving south again and for the first time I am riding on a new Amtrak with rollon bike service!
It was far less of a pain in the ass than I expected. I thought I was going to be throwing out my back lifting it up to someone on the cargo deck but turns out it was true roll on and with no charge. Win, win excluding the fact I’m on Amtrak.
Next stop is Irvine to meet up with Patrick who I’ll ride the next two days with down to San Diego.
I’ve just signed up for The Oregon Outback. A 360 mile mountain bike odyssey! On top of that I have been mulling on the idea of racing the Trans Am. A 4233 mile self-supported road race from Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, VA. If I go for both, they’ll be back to back. I’ll finish The Outback, hang out in Portland for a couple of days then head to Astoria for the start of the Trans Am. Exciting and nerve racking, time to get some training in.
This is the first installment of Guinea Pig Kitchen. The most frequent questions I get asked about touring are generally related to food. Usually it comes down to, what do you eat? Since my first tour in 2008, I have put down about 15,000km touring and since that first tour everything has changed. Then I was on a track bike with an overloaded backpack eating at cafes and staying in hostels (or under the occasional bridge). Now I have 2, going on three tourable bikes (including that old track bike coming full circle), I own multiple stoves, switch regularly between tent and hammock camping. I would say I have my grub down pretty good.
I like food. I like good food a lot. I fancy myself a pretty damn good cook. When I became a vegetarian, half my life ago, my mom told me it was time to learn to cook. The memory mangled press worthy quote was a long the lines of “I’ve have too many children to cook for one that wants to be different”. So I have some practice.
OK, STFU now and talk about the food.
Shakshuka! This is a recent addition to my arsenal. A friend and fellow Team Moustacher taught me this one about a year and a half ago before we threw the Team Moustache Albany Bulb race.
This is as delicious as it sounds. Having realized last year carrying eggs isn’t as hazardous as it sounds I quickly adopted this as a touring food. This is my recent Hawk Overnight rendition along with some prep tips for short trips.
Baby Heirloom Tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
seasoned with salt and pepper
Since I was just doing an overnight I was only going to cook breakfast, this meant I could prep everything ahead of time.
Dice up all the veg, chuck it into your container, add seasoning and your preferred cooking oil for a light saute*.
* optional, see next step
Next you can optionally saute your veggies. It will be just as good if you wanted to chuck them straight into the sauce and soften them up there. Ideal if you want to minimize your cookware kit. Just leave out some or all of the oil from the previous step and give the veggies 2-5 minutes before adding the eggs.
Put your veggies in the sauce and bring to a simmer. Once its simmering carefully crack and drop your eggs in the sauce.
The eggs cook differently than normal poaching. I usually give it about 10 minutes with the lid on and the lowest simmer I can get my stove (MSR Whisper Lite) to do. This will vary between stoves and cookware but the egg should be much firmer than you’d do for something like Eggs Benedict.
My egg looks like a dumpling. But it is not, so serve with bread or toast.
While Berlin is still probably my favorite city in the world it is desperately lacking in cycling diversity. Topographically Berlin is the ‘Pan Cake Assed White Girl‘ of cities. Australia was a blast but is not only the flattest continent but has so much urban sprawl its largely impractical to ride out of the city.
The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the most amazingly diverse cycling scenes as a directly reflection of the diversity of the area. San Francisco has top quality road or dirt right in the city. You can climb your guts out every day of the week on a different fixture, mountain bike or CX ride McLaren Part or Sutro Mountain, and if you willing to risk the ticket Golden Gate Park is a fine place to ride dirt as well.
Then you can point yourself roughly within 90° +/- of east and find yourself bigger rides, harder climbs, hairier descents and even a lovely little velodrome.
Outside of cycling the Bay Area also has an amazing outdoor culture. There are dozen of places to camp that can be ridden to in mere hours. This is a post about that.
The Marin Headlands has 4 really cool campsites. Until sometime last year I had only been vaguely aware of one of them. I frequently passed Bicentennial while out on road rides but as it appears to just be a simple road side picnic area I never paid it much attention. Turns out you can camp there, it’s free and there are 3 other even better sites.
At the start of the year I got invited to camp at Kirby Cove. I’d heard of this before but never realize how close it was and that in fact I also passed it on the same regular road ride. It is tucked into an amazing little cove just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the Marin Headlandss. One of the more amazing views of the bridge I’ve seen…. Unless there is fog, which then the fog horns are going to probably ruin your night. Definitely ruin mine. But fog horn aside it is a beautiful place.
Last week when chatting with a friend he’d asked me if I had been camping lately. Before even answering I was asking myself, why the hell I hadn’t been lately? This thought, coupled with my crazy ambition to actually race the World Cycle Tour, my love for camping and my currently flexible schedule I have decided there is no reason I shouldn’t be camping 2-4+ times a month. With once a month or so doing a serious all night effort, should I actually feel like training.
Started already! My basic plan was this. Attend a meeting I had in SF Wednesday night. Finished up around 9pm. Perfect. Started riding from SoMa towards Golden Gate. Grabbed a couple things at Safeway at Crissy Fields and headed over. Conzelman Rd to the viewing point and into the dirt. Road dirt to the round-about and jumped on the coast trail down to Bunker Rd. This is when I realized the Mode button on my Garmin had broken. Again. I’ve read enough posts for long distance racers to know that GPS/Navigation failures end races. Then despite knowing the area fairly well and lot has changed in the last couple of years and I could not find the trail head I was after. This was my intended route.
The entire loop was a “If I feel like it in the morning addition” but the important part is around 14km, Keypress Camp. Right around 8km is important too as it is a trail head that is closed. By the time I finally got on a trail near McCullough Rd I was pretty disoriented, did know what trail I was even on and still didn’t have navigation. All I knew was I wanted to be on Miwok Trail which I vaguely knew the location of. I missed the turn. I pictured to junctions incorrectly and ended up climbing Bobcat Trail with its lovely full-moon lit view of Miwok across the Gerbode Valley. This is the route I ended up riding.
Quite a bit of confusion can be seen around Bunker Rd. My plan was to bush camp once I reached the summit. Luckily just before I saw a sign for Hawk. What luck! Hawk is tucked into the northern tip of Gerbode Valley just under the summit. Interestingly I found most maps do not have the site marked although they draw out the trail leading to it. This site was very empty so I got my pick of it. I snagged two nice tree just at the edge of the site for a nice view of the valley and a glimpse of Sunset District.
In the morning I had a nice breakfast and casually rolled out around 9:30. Future versions of this I will be pushing to wake up early and do race pace eat-up/pack-up. Next week will be Heypress for reals.
Pouched eggs in tomato sauce!? A friend taught me this a couple years ago, blowing my mind in the process. I did this one with sauted mushrooms, green onions and baby(?) heirloom tomatoes. Possible follow up post on just that.
This is my current camping setup. A hammock made by the lovely Sam Bell for my birthday. It is super light and super simple. Above I have strung my Mountain Hardware ground cover. Its not rain tested yet but does a great job of trapping some heat in. Follow up post on the hammock adventure of late coming up definitely.
Yeah, this sign says the trail is closed. I did not see this sign until morning.
And lastly. File this one under nifty tricks. I strapped my headlamp around the hammock ties to create a non-blinding, easily accessible light setup. Got in the hammock and got comfortable before turning it out and it remained close enough in case I needed to ward off any hairy little mooches.
After spending the last half week in a shennanigans filled blur of catching up with friends on Los Angeles I am back on the road. Won’t make Santa Barbara as is hoped today but will camp Point Mugu tonight.
Heading off from Wellington where I’ve been almost a week. Three days riding should get me to Taupo where a mountain bike is waiting for me to ride Caters of the Moon! All up 919km to Auckland with a loop leading up to Comomandel and 15 days to do it. Couple big says and a couple casual days and I should be good.
A friend lent me a magazine call Adventure Cyclist. I’ve read it a couple of times usually not my cup of coffee but this issue from May 2012 had several stories about bike touring in the early 1900s that where really good. There was a quote in another article that aptly sums up my approach to living.
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow…. What a ride!'” –Mark Frost