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Friday, April 26, 2013

Chaos Manor

Tomorrow is the first shakedown ride with the Knobbies Only group. Obviously a few items still need to be done before the bike is ready. This is where the magic happens. Over time I have built up a nice work space that is compact and organized.

A place for everything and everything in its place! Sort of ...

Everything does have a place but in the rush to get ready it may not always get back there. Plus, there is always more than one project in progress at any given time so things are scattered hither and yon.
Still, things get done in a timely fashion. Parts get into the proper bins and tools go back to the right drawer.

Truth be told, this is the most important part of the shop. Without Pepsi, nothing would ever get done!

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

When things go bump in the night (or day)

The thing about the TransAm Trail is that there are quite a few places where I could get myself into trouble and have no way to walk out or call home for help. AAA is not going to come and jump start my bike or bring me gas.

Should it be something simple I would expect to figure it out and find a way to deal with it. However, if it were something like a broken leg (or worse) I might want a way to signal for help.

SPOT is a satellite communicator that will send messages where a mobile phone would not get coverage. It also has a gps built in so that it not only relays the message but also the location. Press the SOS button and the cavalry is on the way.

Unfortunately these devices have gotten rather a bad reputation for being misused. Stories are here and here. If stupidity was a virus 90% of the population would be wiped out tomorrow.

There are two SPOT models. The Messenger pictured above and the Connect. The Connect lets you post to Facebook and Twitter as you move along. I will say no more about that!

The Messenger has two basic functions "I'm screwed, I need help please" and "I'm really fucked. Hurry!!".

It also has a couple of nice to have features. I can send out an "I'm OK" email message. It also has a gps tracking service that sends out a heart beat every 10 minutes with the location. Combined these make a nice Plan B to make sure I'm not laying at the bottom of a canyon bleeding slowly. If the heart beat location had not moved in an hour or two AND I had not sent out an "I'm OK" message to indicate I was stopping for lunch or for the night then it would indicate a problem. And an indication as to where to find the body. ;)

Even though my whole life revolves around technology I generally hate gadgets. This one, used judiciously, seems like it might be useful. I'll let you know how it comes out.

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wake-up Call

If you haven't read my last post stop and read it here.

I've thought about Joe's experience a lot in the last few days. I admit it was a little like a cold shower in the middle of a hot date.

However, it hasn't dampened my enthusiasm. I'll go over some of the points that I think are relevant. Comments about Joe's riding are meant to be critical examination and not at all derogatory.
  1. He missed the high line which looks as if it would have put him on solid rock. I am guessing that his rear tire caught that fracture line and threw off his balance. The fact that his buddy rode through without incident indicates that the area was passable.
    Some days you're the tree, some days you're the bear.
  2. He didn't have the brake and clutch covered. This is mentioned by others in the comments. This might have meant locking the front wheel and dumping the bike rather going off the edge. 
  3. No steering dampener. This might have helped hold the front end in place.
    Perhaps the biggest advantage is that it prevents a lot of fatigue on the trail. Coupled with his recent sickness this could have made a huge difference in being able to pick and hold lines in tough terrain.
So what does this mean for me?

When I went across country last time, and especially when I did the off road riding on the White Rim Trail, my attitude was that it was going to be a long trip and to just relax and take it easy. This is going to be an even longer and harder trip so the advice is even more important.

To that end:
  1. I'm going over all my plans in greater detail. What is my Plan B? and C?
  2. I tend to be happy-go-lucky but when I'll be a long way from help and riding solo I'll need to be a little more careful. If I took the same spill Joe did, and wasn't able to crawl back up to the trail, who would ever find me?
  3. Physical training - I've been working out but I've upped my goals quite a bit. This might be the single most important component for success!
  4. A lighter, simpler bike. I'll be taking everything off my bike that I can. Less is definitely more. And the more firmly it's clamped to the bike the better.
    One of the problems with the last two trips is that I had the de rigueur metal panniers. In really rough stuff they tended to sway a bit. Like an out of synch pendulum they would be zigging when the rest of the bike was zagging which made for some very stressful riding. To get up Murphy's Hogback I had to take them off an carry them to the top.
  5. DBAJ (dee-badge) - Don't Be A Jerk! This is my usual mantra when out on a solo adventure ride. Now more than ever!
Thanks Joe for the wake-up call. I'll buy you a beer in San Francisco when I get there.

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