Monday, March 24, 2014

The news is out!

Greg Valenzuela at REI in Santa Monica
With Greg Valenzuala ( now on his way to Southeast Asia to begin 8 years of touring wherever he can, my place feels empty.  Hopefully someone else will come along needing Warm Showers hosting, but since I am 10 miles inland, I sort of doubt it.

One thing Greg suggested was that I start doing lots of hill training and camping.  Well, today I rode into Beverly Hills and did about 2-3 hrs of climbing hills and going round and round up the same hills.  Put about 20 miles on the bike just doing that.  Was in a section of Beverly Hills called Beverlywood which is just south of Beverly Hills.  Conquered some hills I had been thinking of doing for a long time but didn't have the confidence for.  Some of the hills I didn't conquer completely and had to stop on the way up to catch my breath and let my muscles stop screaming at me, but then I was able to continue the rest of the way without stopping.  Greg said he just relaxes when going up hills, and I just kept thinking, "Relax, relax" and maybe that actually helped some because although I had to stop on occasion, I wasn't fighting my gears or the bike.  I just rode without too much struggle.

New handlebars and Surly front fork
I think that the new Surly front fork is making a difference in the smoothness of my ride as opposed to the previous shock absorber.  The new handlebars still need to be cushioned and taped, but otherwise they were fine.  I mounted a new bell on the bike since the old one, which was thumb activated, could no longer be in a good position for that, but the new bell needs to be repositioned as well.  

The really wonderful thing is that I. Martin Cycles installed the front fork and the handlebars for free.  Greg said I should consider that a kind of sponsorship since whenever a company gives you free stuff or services, it's sponsorship.  Well, I just adore the folks at I. Martin, and I now need to really pour the love on them because of their generosity to me.  

Tonight my mother called me about a planned family reunion in June for her and my Dad's 60th anniversary.  I finally mentioned that I was leaving California in Feb. 2015, and I was expecting a ton of naysaying but I didn't get it.  She knows I've been planning it and talking about it for a while.  So that secret is out, and now I just have two important people left to tell - my boss and my landlady.  It's too early to tell either of them, but I do expect to tell them sometime in the late summer.

By the way, for all you touring cyclists, I do recommend getting a $7.99 per month Netflix subscription.  Put the app on your phone or tablet device.  You will not run out of things to keep you entertained on the road when you are in your tent or at a hostel or a Warm Showers.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

New thoughts on my touring

I think I have moved away from the idea of having a trailer and just going with the two pannier sets plus the handlebar pannier.  Touring cycling as a lifestyle, which is what I want, is about minimalism.

Before Greg Valenzuela of came to stay with me as a Warm Showers hostee, I was thinking my voyage had an end.  I would find some place to settle down where I felt  at home and start my life over.  In reality, I will prefer to keep traveling, at least as long as my joints hold out.  Greg still has another 8 years of planned touring before he wants to stop.

In all reality, I'm not sure that this world will last much longer before the Lord returns to rapture His church and the seven years of Tribulation begin.  This peace deal in Israel, which is a false peace deal brokered by the Vatican which is trying to take over Jerusalem, may very well trigger the events, in which case all my planning for touring is for nothing, but I plan nonetheless and carry on because the Lord is tarrying for His purpose.  Do I sense in my spirit that He is very close to coming?  Yes.  Nevertheless I plan.

My new butterfly handlebars have arrived but still need to be installed and then wrapped with tape.  The Surly front fork should arrive this week.  After the fork is installed I will look for a Surly front rack at a decent price and then will begin to purchase panniers.  Orange panniers for the best visibility (in my mind).

I've put together a wish list of items on Amazon:

One thing I've learned this week from Greg is not to use bunjee cords because they can come loose, fly down and entangle in your spokes and break a spoke.  He said to use straps.  So I will be buying some straps to tie things down.  We went to REI a few days ago and he bought some straps and other little doodads, and I got a couple of little doodads as well including an ISO-butane fuel can for my camp stove.

Greg is still resting today.  He was feeling poorly yesterday but today seems a little more revived.  A good breakfast omlette works wonders!  I'm not sure what I'll make us for dinner tonight.  Probably more stirfry and rice.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Warm Showers hosting

I am currently hosting touring cyclist, Greg Valenzuela, of who is here recovering from being a little under the weather before he heads out for a year of cycle touring in Thailand and Southeast Asia on March 24.  I picked him up in Marina Del Rey on March 6, and he will stay here the 18 days.  Didn't know my first hosting gig would be more than one night, but I honestly asked him to stay as long as he needed to rest and recuperate, and I am delighted with him being here.  I have known a little of Greg from his Facebook page as I follow many touring cyclists, and so when he indicated a need to hunker down and rest, I offered my apartment and went to get him.  After cycling 22,000 miles since April 2012, he needs some R&R in a safe place not hopping from hostel to hostel hoping for rest and decent meals.

It has now been a week that he has been here, and good food and rest have made a lot of difference.  I am still so happy to have him here.  He gives me any information I need about touring, equipment, what to take and what not to take.  I have the dog trailer that I thought I would take as just a regular trailer, but he thinks I should try to go without any trailer and just have panniers.  Wow, really have to wrap my brain around that although I totally understand what he is saying.  You see, I was thinking I was going to tour for several months and then settle down, but really, I don't want to settle down again.  Would prefer to just travel by bike.  I don't think I have much longer on this Earth anyhow before the Lord calls us home.  Nevertheless I am planning for my journey as if He will tarry for a long time.

I've hitched the trailer to the bike twice and taken it out.  The first time I took it to the beach on a round trip of 25 miles with no real issues.  Then on March 9, Greg and I rode to my church about 6.5 miles away and I towed it again.  Greg was hoping to ride to the beach but getting to church nearly did him in.  The trouble was, it nearly did me in too.  I couldn't figure out what was going on with the trailer, but I felt like I was slogging home.  It didn't feel right.  I pulled over wondering if I had a flat.  Really couldn't put it together.  I got back and was completely spent in a way that i wasn't even spent after riding nearly 100k.  The next day at work when I was walking the bike down the hallway, I felt that same slogging, and I knew the brakes were rubbing.  When I got home, Greg took a look at it and discovered I had a broken spoke and the wheel was out of true, which is why I slogged home from church (took me a couple of days to recover from that).  Greg also said the wheels of the trailer needed to have the bearings greased, but he just doesn't think I should take that trailer at all so he didn't want me to put any money into any repairs on it.  So we tallked about a Bob Yak trailer, which he thought was a better idea, but he still wants me to try to get away from the trailer idea at all.

But I've made a couple of missteps in buying stuff, like the sleeping bag and maybe the tent, but especially the sleeping bag which is just too dang bulky.  Need something lighter and smaller.

We also talked about food.  His feeling is to have a breakfast and dinner handy at all times for emergencies, maybe one other meal, but not much more than that.  Here I was planning to take 7 days worth of food with me in case of emergency.  But there is so much good will towards touring cyclists on the road that it is unnecessary.

One good thing is that he said my current bike would be fine for touring - with some modifications.  When I said it was only aluminum, he said his Cannondale is aluminum and that it's a myth that touring bikes should be steel.  In fact, he's put over 22,000 miles alone on his current bike.  So while he is here I have ordered a new handlebar - butterfly, and a new Surly front fork to replace the mountain bike fork.  Then I will get a Surly front rack and begin to build my Ortlieb pannier sets, including a handlebar bag.  Oh, and fenders.  Need those too, plus Schwalbe marathon tires.  And then I will see if I still want a trailer.  At least I am moving forward on the bike.  Before he came I really wasn't sure what my next step was.

So I have about 10 more days to pick Greg's brain.  Tomorrow we are going to REI in Santa Monica so he can get some parts and doodads.  I'll have him take me to the sleeping bag section and show me what he thinks I should take.  Maybe look at the tents too.

We were thinking of riding up to Leo Carillo State Beach this weekend to go bike camping because he wants me to test out all my gear and to know what it's like to ride a day and have to set up, then turn around the next day and do it again, but I don't think he's up to it, and now neither does he.  We are going to try to go to the beach again this weekend.  We'll see how he does. I won't be towing the trailer!!  In the meantime I will be planning a time to go to Leo Carillo now that I know where camping is.  I really didn't know where any Los Angeles camping was.  I guess Point Mugu is another camping spot.  Wish I had someone to walk me through it the first time, but perhaps going alone and figuring out stuff the hard way is the best way for me.