Shit be Getting Real

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.

Guinea Pig Kitchen: Shakshuka

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.

Shakshouka (Arabic: شكشوكة‎; Hebrew: שקשוקה‎) (also shakshuka) is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoeschili peppersonions, often spicedwith cumin. It is believed to have a Tunisian origin.[1][2]

 

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.

Ingredients:

  • Mushrooms
  • Green Onions
  • Baby Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 eggs
  • seasoned with salt and pepper
  • container
Ingredients
Ingredients.

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

The veg is contained
The veg is contained.

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.

Veg in Sauce
Veg in Sauce

Put your veggies in the sauce and bring to a simmer. Once its simmering carefully crack and drop your eggs in the sauce.

 

Eggs in sauce?! You talkin’ crazy!

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.

Done
Done!

My egg looks like a dumpling. But it is not, so serve with bread or toast.

Last step is find a beautiful view and enjoy.

Brekky
Brekky

 

Why I’m Always Drawn Back to California

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.

Lecker Brekky.
Lecker Brekky.
Shakshuka
Shakshuka

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.

Sammock or a Banana Hammock?
Sammock or a Banana Hammock?

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.

 

See this sign?
See this sign?

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.

I recently had my interior lighting redone.
I recently had my interior lighting redone.

 

And the full image set is available….. here.

Same Ocean, Different Coast

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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.

Next!

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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.

I Saw a Glacier!

I missed the Fox Glacier yesterday do to fog but push forward in the rain to Franz Yosef and hiked it this morning. Headed north for the rest of the afternoon.

image

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Doing It Right

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

 

Have a great weekend!

Damage Report: Taupo Tapout 2

Apparently there are quite a few little sharp bits on my new polo bike. It also does not turn quite as tight as the old one. The concrete in Taupo turns out to be pretty tough but I wasn’t about to give up the fight.

I now have two nicely busted up knees. Road rash covering most of my right elbow. Half a dozen cuts on my legs and some quite tender ribs. Oh, and I seem to have misplaced a largish bit of skin from my left big toe (How?!?).

Once again, Taupo Tapout was a huge success and the T-Town boys pulled it off without breaking a sweat despite the fact that one volcano had already erupted and a second was threatening to.

My trip started last Wednesday. 4am to ride to the airport and get checked in at Sydney which is notoriously fickle. I got threw mostly okay but my well loved passport is being called into question more and more. To the degree this time that I was offered an on the spot refund as she was convinced New Zealand would not let me in. The ride into Auckland was as unpleasant as last time, except I was on a smaller gearing so it took 2 hours.

I stayed with a friend in Auckland who lived in one of the coolest communal houses I’ve ever been to. I’ve lived in a couple communal houses that couldn’t touch this with a poo covered stick. Good people, good food and an overall sense of social responsibility.  Played some pickup that night, out for drink, repeat Thursday with beach and riding around Auckland.

Headed for Taupo Friday morning with some of the Auckland polo crew. Nice drive and stopped in, sorry to make you jealous, Hobbiton. Friday night pickups in T-Town and partied back at the hall.

The post tourny shenanigans is what really makes the Tapout of the best. Thermal springs in the river, thermal springs in the lake and all a close ride across town. And since there has been so much volcanic activity lately the lake was especially nice. Or probably just by comparison to gale force winds of last year.

Thats all I got. I’m hurt, I’m outta here. Posts coming soon, new touring bike, plans for Tasmania tour next month, next years NZ tour and a stupid plan to get one more stamp in my passport.

 

Sydney-Brisbane Tour Wrap Up

I finished up my tour last Thursday clocking in just around 1110km bringing me to about 5975km in Australia since march. Because I broke my Shogun several months ago I ended up doing this ride on a Surly Long Haul Trucker let to me by a friend. I’ve noodle around on a couple of these bike before but never really like it. I found it to be too long causing me to be stretched out and not handling well. Big difference where that they where closer to my size (58cm) and 700c wheels. This one was too small (54cm) and had 26″ inch wheels. With a straight seat post and a longer stem (130mm) it was amazingly confortable and handled very nicely.

Back in mid-April right when I hit the Nullarbor I had a massive rash of flats from some defective tubes. No matter how well I patched them the holes would keep opening up on either side of the patch. As if this was not bad enough none of the small towns had 700c tubes except maybe the occasion schrader. So I have already been thinking of 26″ wheels simply for the availability of tubes. I think the ideal setup would be 26″ rims with schrader holes plugged with presta adapters.

This tour I also was using Ortlieb Front-Roller Classics rather than double Back-Rollers like I used last time. These handled headwind much better and helped prevent my over packing…. which I still managed.

I think I will be building myself a Trucker pretty soon and using my current project (Hagen Wechsel) frame as a lightweight short distance tourer. This bike just worked out so well for me. Thanks Donny!

And another thing.. any thoughts on the more frequent shorter posts I did along the way? I found it to be a big easier compared to bulk updates every couple of days or week(s).

BOooom! Day one complete

Finished up with around 115km not making it quite as far as I wanted but needed to stop. I was frantically setting up camp with a massive thunderstorm approaching. I managed to have dinner nearly done before the crazy downpour. Ended up a bit wet do to bad hammock setup but not to bad.