Kuat Vagabond Preview

So my favorite initialized Filipino sends me a text last week asking if I have a roof rack. “I have an overly priced set of pipes named after a town in the Pacific Northwest on my car. Whas up?” I reply.

“A Kuat Vagabond came in, Google it.”

“A giant basket that makes my little commuter coupe look like a shopping cart sans handle? Sweet, I’m in.”

From Kuat’s website:

Features

  • 2 Bike Capacity (40lb bikes)
  • Flat Black Powder Finish
  • Fairing included
  • Mounts to all factory & aftermarket cross bars
  • Skewer mounts integrated from factory
  • 160 lb. capacity with bikes & gear
  • Up to 3 feet between cross bars.
  • Max crossbar size-4.5” wide by 1.75” thick
  • Weight-26lbs
  • Outside dims-52.5”x44”x5”
  • Inside dims-45.5”x41.5”x3.75”

 

So far in the 5 days it has overshadowed my car I have driven over half of SoCal with no issues. It’s built well and holds a ton, what more could you ask for? OK, you could ask for more details. Well, an in-depth review is coming. In the meantime, if you are broken down on the side of the road, give me a call. I’ll throw your car up in the Vagabond; it’s big enough and strong enough.

Me llamo es hambergueso.

I have heard it from so many other riders, “skinny = fast.” But, as a friend of mine, Wankmeister, is finding out, skinny also equals misery.  As anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows, there are a gazillion different diets out there. One thing all diets have in common — you can’t spell diet without die. Whether you want to lose 5 pounds or 50, at some point you’ll want to die. Perhaps at some point you’ll even think you did. This post isn’t about the new miracle diet trick, or some tip I’ve found successful that I want to share with you. No, this is just nonsensical fluff to keep the webmaster happy. (RL stands for Red Lamborghini. He gave me the keys under the condition I write a word or two. I want to keep driving it so here are my words.)

Sadly, you can’t lose weight and drink at the same time. Regardless of what Pharmstrong and his Michelob Mediocre drinking buds will tell you, the two are mutually exclusive. Trying to keep your sanity while dieting? Don’t try to cope with he help of  Sailor Jerry or Pliny. Trying to keep your sanity while your 2 kids are having you shuttle them from soccer to hula to ballet to tae-kwon-do to school all the while you are off the bike. . . Sorry, that’s just me.  As you get older life gets more complicated. All the hassles, commitments, responsibilities, and general adult-like-sh*t gives you more reason to drink. One of those adult-like sh*tty realities — the older you get, the harder it is to lose weight.

When I was 17 my then boss took me out to lunch. I ordered the special which consisted of a double cheeseburger, french fries, AND onion rings, AND zucchini, and a salad. Pfft, why the hell add a salad to all that? Screw it, cover it with Ranch. I still remember my boss saying, “Enjoy eating like that now. When you get older and eat like that you’ll look like me.” Yes, he was in his mid 30’s and had the most perfectly rotund belly with disproportionately smaller arms and legs. Now I am 2 weeks from turning 36 and I feel like he looked.

 

 

Another thing about my youth, during high school and my first 2 years of college I did everything I could to stay above 200 pounds. I took all sorts of foul smelling, ill tasting, and even some now found to be dangerous supplements. Now, thanks to cycling, when the motivation strikes, I do all I can to dip below 180. The guys who bitch about ballooning up to 158 lbs are the same guys I use to pummel in school. I want to be one of those guys. Why, because they are hard as nails as fast as f*ck.

 

I was a World Cup MTBer before I was a sucked-up roadie.

 

Those skinny guys drop me like a bad habit, a prom dress, H.S. French, and any number of other metaphors. Every ride is a race. All of life is a competition. If I wanted to just cruise on my bike then I would install tassels, a bell, and a basket. I want to ride. I want to perform. I want to go to the front. I want my body to make possible what my mind thinks is possible. The solution: eat less, eat like a caveman, ride more, run more, see hamburgers everywhere, be miserable, be cranky, be hungry, be Betty White, look good, be fast. Or, continue on my current path and just ride with slower friends.

Tomorrow. . .

If It’s Too Loud You’re Too Old!

So a few months ago I heard Iron Maiden was going to be playing in Irvine August 9th and 10th. I told fellow rocker and cyclist from work about it and he said, “We’re in!” Fast forward to two weeks ago [paradox?]  and we begin to plan our yearly Chargers preseason tailgate festivities. What started as our usual 4 tickets turned to 8, then 18. The festivities were going to be epic; we probably won’t remember the game. But who cares, it’s preseason football. Somewhere along the line Roadie says, “Hey, you know Maiden is the same day as the Chargers game!” Notice the lack of question mark at the end of that line? It was a statement that clearly laid out our plans for a rad night in the OC.

One thing about Roadie — even if the event is your idea he will plan it and execute it 10 times grander.  You want to see Metallica? He’ll get you on stage tuning Lars’ drum kit. You want to see the Chargers play the Raiders? He’ll have you in the middle of  The Black Hole the first half, then having drinks with a Raiderette at half-time. Of course the details of said events are a bit fuzzy but that is the best as I can recall what happened. Obviously I left the planning up to him. Heat be damned we wanted to get a ride in, surely get a drink in, then go to the show. We meetup at Aliso with 2 friends of Roadie whose legs possess an insane amount of wattage. After getting my dick pounded into the dirt and running on the verge of dehydration/heat exhaustion/metabolic acidosis we figure the best way to rehab is at the Yardhouse with some IPAs.  We grab a bite at Tommy’s Pastrami, which I recommend, then we walk across the street to the venue. Oh yeah, I nearly forgot, we need to get tickets.

Yeah, we were just out for a quick little ride. Sorry you lost kidney function.

Roadie didn’t deliver to his usual standards but he still came through. We got seats 15 rows back from the stage and no favors were performed, souls relinquished, nor first-born sacrificed. Iron Maiden came out with all the usual fervor. I’m watching Bruce Dickinson run around the stage, jumping over amps, and I think, “This guy just turned 54 a few days ago.” Then he came out. The one you can’t wait to see at every Maiden show — Eddie. He appeared in many forms as Maiden played all their best from over 30 years of rocking.

 

It’s blurry cause it’s rockin that hard.

Happy IPA Day

If you are a real man and like a true beer full of hoppy goodness then today is our day. It is National IPA day. What is an IPA you ask? Only the best thing to float past your lips. Learn more about it at ipaday.org. Grab your MtnBikeRiders.com beer koozie (or buy one if you haven’t already you cheapskate) and celebrate today. These koozies are bitchin. The best part is they fit 22.5oz bottles. Cheers!

 

Day 1: Downieville

On July 5th I headed up to Downieville to camp and ride with Dirty and friends for a few days. Since moving to the bay area several years ago Dirty and The Dr. have spent the weekend after the 4th of July riding around Downieville. I joined them for the first time last year. The riding was so incredible that on the way home I was planning this year’s trip.

I had planned out the trip for the last few weeks. Having been let down a bit by the GPS on our trip to Kings Canyon I mapped out my route on just that — a map. I learned early on how to navigate by maps and still prefer them over a GPS device. The one thing a GPS can tell you is how much longer your butt will be numb in the driver’s seat.

I had gotten off to a late start and pulled out of the driveway at 10:30. I had wanted to leave by 8:00. Several detours along the way and I found myself in Fresno around 5:00. This is where my lonesome insanity, reluctance to use the GPS, my glossy-eyed stare at my map, or combination of the 3 led to the development of pressure sores on my backside. “Look, HWY 41 is scenic and is a straight shot north. Why stay on the 99?” I thought. First rule of solo travel is stay on the main freeway. HWY 41 tricks you outside of Fresno as it represents itself as an 8-lane freeway that promises high speeds and long straights. However, just like a tranny in Hollywood, by the time you realize its true nature you’re too far in to turn back without regret.

After 10 miles or so the 41 narrowed to 2 lanes but remained relatively straight and fast. Once I came to the turnoff for HWY 49 near Yosemite I saw the horror of my decision to follow that tranny’s temptation. The next 5,6,7 hours, I don’t remember as I was near comatose, were comprised of twisting 2-lane roads climbing up ridgelines and dropping into historic mining towns that time has passed by. The drive was scenic until nightfall. Then all I saw were shadows as my headlights pierced the trees and danced off the hillsides. Finally, Odysseus reached Ithaca and I reached the campground. At least I had a few hundred songs on my Droid. I pulled into Rocky Rest campground at 11:00 to find everyone had bedded down for the night. I quietly pitched my tent and collapsed into slumberdom.

Priorities in setting up a good basecamp.

The morning came and I loaded the French press [I knew from last year I would be the only one drinking coffee. Savages], filled my Camelback, and prepared my bike; mostly. . In our haste to eat, load up our gear, and hit the road in time to make our shuttle, I forgot to grab my bike’s GPS and the mount for my helmetcam. We got on the 9:00 am shuttle and decided we would hit up Sunrise Trail, then Pauley Creek, lower Butcher, Third Divide, and First Divide. I told Dirty his GPS would have to be my record of the day as well. So what happens? He loses it as we bomb down Babyheads. I have always wondered how people can lose their Garmins on a ride. Now I know why. After scouring about for 20 minutes we found it and continued on. I suffered 2 pinch flats on the way down Butcher. I would find out why later (day 3). It’s a short climb up to 3rd Divide then one helluva fast shot down. Regroup and we hit 1st Divide. Cruise through town, grab lunch, head back to camp, grab a beer, hop in the Yuba River, grab a beer, eat, grab a beer, trade stories, insults, and jokes around the fire, grab a beer, go to sleep, repeat tomorrow.

Sunrise is just under 2 miles and 10 minutes of bliss. Most people see it as a primer for better riding to come. I like it more than most. It is all singletrack under a pine canopy that twists through the trees with multiple switchbacks and little exposure. We hit this trail all three days.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUE33CnhaMk&feature=g-upl

Sunrise dumps out onto a fireroad. You can take the singletrack straight ahead to Butcher. Butcher is such an awesome trail Santa Cruz named a bike after it. Or, as we did this morning, follow the fireroad for 2 miles to Pauley Creek. Pauley starts off with fast, flowy doubletrack. Then you hit Babyheads — a rock section that begs to be ridden at speed. Just be sure to pick the right line. Or, if you ride with Dirty, pick the line opposite of his. From there it funnels you into singletrack that follows the creek with the occasional water crossing. It is fast and a bit more technical than Sunrise.

Babyheads
Hard to admire the beauty as you fly by.

The progression continues. As you exit Pauley you join up midway into Butcher. The lower half of Butcher adds more speed, more exposure, more technicalosity gnar-gnar. And for me, more pinch flats.

Switchback, also good place to replace a tube.

Once you hit the bridge there is a short climb that is the bane of all those full-faced, long-traveled gravity assassins. Second Divide splits off to the left and 3rd Divide rewards those who climb just a bit more. Third Divide starts as an all-out 2 mile singletrack dragstrip. The trees open up to rocky exposure along the river. Although not as much as before, speed still abounds.

You finish up with 1st Divide. Still singletrack, there are fast descents intermixed with short climbs. It dumps you out into town where you are high on the stoke and ready to take the van back up.

Sh!t Happens

As I prepare to mow the lawn I’m left thinking how my adulthood revolves around poo. There was the diaper phase for a few years. Thankfully the two money-stealing-time-wasters have learned to poo in a civilized manner. By civilized I mean on the toilet while perusing their favorite magazines. The phase of infinite fecaldom I am in now is of the canine variety. Growing up with my mom’s yapping pekingese all I wanted was a real dog. I said when I grow up I’m getting a big dog that can run and fetch and swim and guard and of course — poo, big. My 2 dogs have depleted the ozone, made the groundwater toxic, and have employed me fulltime in their waste removal. Be careful what you want to do when you grow up.

If only my dogs were this smart.

HR — Hiking, Not Getting Fired

Since my bikes and I are on the outs right now I will post an HR. That’s a Hiking Report, not the chick in Human Relations that has no sense of humor and makes you sit through sexual harassment training every year.

Lately work has been the wedge in my biking relationship. My bike scowls at me when I get home for the lack of attention. She turns her back to me in bed. She says I spend more time with my coworkers than with her. However, for all the vitriol in our arguing, the make-up will be awesome (pics and video sure to come).

Last week we went camping up north in Kings Canyon NP. Last year we went to Quaking Aspen and until a month ago we planned on returning this year. However, a coworker suggested Kings Canyon and we all bit. He spun tales of bears, s’mores, starry nights, epic hikes, rushing rivers, and fermented beverages. Not one to miss a new adventure we packed the truck, tied down the kids, and drove for hours.

In my pre-planning for the trip I found out bikes are not allowed in the national park. Effin savages! The campground itself was great. There is certainly no shortage of spectacular views. If anything, you could complain that there are too many trails to hike and be overwhelmed my all that gorgeous nature ‘n sh!t. We (wife and kids in tow) set off for a morning hike. We decided on linking the Zumwalt Meadow Trail with Roaring River Falls for a sub 4 mile hike. As soon as we set off all I could think of was how great this would be to be on a bike. After a couple hundred yards and hearing the jubilant laughter from the kids I realized the benefit of hiking a trail sans bikes. The kids were free to hike and explore and pick up rocks, pine cones, and acorns without worry of a biker tearing around the next corner. Although, being the ever-protective, vigilant dad I was still on the lookout for snakes and nettles and such.

The hike did not disappoint one bit. Upon reaching the waterfall at trail’s end the family was a bit beat. I left them to eat the snacks we packed as I set off on the return alone to pick up the truck. We all enjoyed the trail and agreed that this would be on our yearly return list. We only scratched the surface of the hiking potential of the area. Maybe next hike I will take a set of handlebars and hold them out in front of me.

No tire marks, WTF?
Jonesin to Ride

Kings River

Zumwalt Meadow
"Wait here, I'll be back"

On the return I decided to cross the river. When the kids aren’t at your heels you can say, “I can walk 50′ on a felled tree to cross a river.” And here’s the proof. Although my son would have had a blast crossing it too. Just don’t tell your mother.

Comraderie

You are a Loser!

I was in the kitchen making lunch when I overheard one of my kids’ obnoxious shows. The main characters were gearing up for a dance competition. All the dancers had a big circle jerk about how great the others are and how they don’t want to compete because they all should win. “No they shouldn’t!” I yelled out. There are winners and losers in life and today we are breeding losers by telling everyone they are a winner. Competition breeds excellence. It is an old adage that has lasted because there is truth to it. We should all strive to do better in all we do. Whether it is biking, studying, eating, or beatboxing I say improve. Don’t expect to receive the rewards and accolades in life just because momma said you’re special. You’re not. You have to work, you have to put in the effort.

My son is in little league baseball. He is at the beginning level where they are getting the  basics of the game. As such, there is no formal scorekeeping. Sure the coaches keep track themselves, as well as the pitchcount, batting order, etc. However, there is no team rankings or playoffs or singular congratulatory celebration to the winner. Both teams get cheered at equally, get their snacks, and get a participation trophy at season’s end.  During one game a kid asked what the score was. The coach responded, “It doesn’t matter.” The hell it doesn’t! Why are we here? I can play catch in the backyard with my son and save myself the time, money, and effort. Sports are supposed to teach kids to be better people, to work towards a goal. Instead nowadays, win or lose, we all celebrate like in Moneyball. Not me. Losing sucks. Winning feels good. Work to attain that feeling over and over again. Just like you and your crusty sock did when you were 13. My Cat 1 roadie friend was asked once if he just rides his bike to have fun rather than all the grueling race training he does. “Of course I do,” he said, “it’s fun when you win.”

Father’s Day Dos

First off, Happy Dad’s Day to everyone out there. Everybody can celebrate in some form today. If you are a dad then I say congratulations. If not, then wish your dad a Happy Father’s Day. Even if you are a total bastard that man helped to make you who you are, hopefully for the better. If he was the stand-up kind of guy we hope to be then you should thank him. If he was a real arse then I say thank him too. Hopefully you saw him for the d!ck he was and you are determined to be better. If you are a d!ck too, well, you just make the rest of us look better so I say thanks.

Since I devoted so much time to my daughter in my last post I figured I’d give my some his due. He’s my boy, my pride and joy, my first born, the cause of my heartburn and frustration. That little punk sure has tenacity. Too bad most of the time it is misdirected. My wife and I knew we wanted kids but we wanted to wait a few years before we began knocking them out. My son had his own plans. Whilst on the pill he we determined to swim past the blockade of hormones and plant that seed. Our OB/GYN’s response, “It happens.” He was so determined to enter this world and start riding bikes he decided to come a month early. However, once at the hospital he took his sweet ol time coming out. My wife was traumatized for 25 hours. I guess he didn’t want to slide down the canal as much as he thought. He is 7 years old and still takes him time with everything. Hurry up buddy!

Thank you kids. You drive me crazy but you make me happy. Now get a job and contribute to this family.