Category: gear

A Bike By Any Other Name…

I don’t remember naming my bikes when I was a kid. I remember the bike types, colors, and perhaps even a specific adventure, or jump, or modification, but names, nope. Nada. Zipparoony.

ROSCOE therefore, must be my first. In which case it was only six (6) years ago, then, that I must have begun this “tagging habit.” Funny. Roscoe (the first, I might add) is, and was (keep reading) a Trek Domane. Original frame red and white. Current frame, stealth black. That’s him there on the left, and in that other “snowbank shot” above.

AFTER I moved up here to Markleeville the shop discovered a crack in the frame and Trek being Trek, replaced it. Because it was two (2) years later they no longer had the red and white color scheme and so Roscoe II was born. That’s him there on the right.

ANYWAY, I’m not really sure why then, or for what reason, I gave him a name, but I do remember why I chose the name Roscoe. Roscoe Fanucci, actually. I was in the surgical center (maintenance) and the nurse called out “Roscoe. “Roscoe Fanucci.” And this dapper Italian gent (even in a gown in a surgi-center bed he looked distinguished), I’d say in his 80’s, responded in the affirmative.

I said to my wife. “That’s a cool name.” I’m going to name the Domane that. After all, he (the Domane) thinks he’s italian. Okay, my Mom had this Walter MItty thing with her first VW bug. I can’t explain it but obviously the apple didn’t stray too far from the tree.

ROSCOE does think he’s Italian.

BULLITT was an easier one. In a roundabout way. There I was at our corporate offices in Novato (former job) and I had brought my new Trek Fuel up for a mountain bike ride in China Camp. I’m showing the bike to Matt, our engineer and business analyst, and he says “Wow, cool colors. Those are the same colors (the Gulf Oil/Heritage livery I’ve since learned) that Ford used in some of their racing cars back in the day, including on the same model that Steve McQueen drove in Bullitt.

I had ridden this bike for a couple rides prior and it was cool. It glided over things. It floated. It looked GOOD. It thinks it’s Steve McQueen. Bam, Bullitt it is. Thanks Matt!

Me and Bullitt at Grover Hot Springs State Park on our first ride up there in the Spring of ’17.

BLUE, the Wild Mustang of Markleeville, as you might imagine, thinks he’s a mustang roaming the California Alps. He’s a Trek Project One Emonda and is named after Blue, the leader of the Pine Nut herd of wild mustangs living not too far away from here. Mustangs – resilient, strong, willful, good going uphill or down. Seemed like a good fit. The paint scheme, with the the blue lettering also worked.

LAST but not least, my newest addition to the fleet: a fatbike named Farley Schlanger. It’s a TREK Farley 7 so as you’ve guessed, the Farley part was easy. Although I was thinking about naming it Beast. I had just sold Beast (a Trek Rail 5) to a friend of mine and so I was contemplating Beast II. But then my wife, knowing my weird fascination with cool names, told me about a reference in a book I’m reading (The Athlete’s Gut) and there were two names. One was Schlanger. And Farley Schlanger was so named.

I mean look at him. Is that a Farley Schlanger or what?

And what a fun ride. Ordered him in November of 2020 by the way, and just picked it up last Saturday. Supply chain issues, you know?

CAN’T wait for snow. Before that, some Pine Nut sand should be fun. Can you say “slide over the silica?”

MY wife does the naming thing, too, and so I have to give her her due in this here post. So I’ll close with Daisy and Bessie. No reason for those names she said, other than “they look like that to me.”

SOMETIMES it’s just that simple.

HOW about you? Bike names? Stories? Hit me!

Thinking About a Gravel Ride in the Pinenuts? Here’s What You Should Know

OR perhaps more appropriately entitled: Here are some lessons I just learned. Yesterday, in fact. Since Stetina’s Paydirt was postponed, and Chris and I had planned on riding it, we decided to do some of the course.

WE left open the possibility we would do the entire route (~63 miles and 4700 feet of climbing) but it turned out that bite was more than we could chew. We did, however, get in 42 miles and about 2800 feet of climbing.

GRAVEL riding is hard. Not that we didn’t know that. Still, the experience is enlightening; you never know what you’re going to get. Or what’s going to get thrown at you.

The Weather Was Amazing!

IT had been so long since we had experienced clean air and average temps. A light breeze, about 65 degrees at the start (8:30 a.m.) and nice clouds and light winds all day long. It did get hot towards the end of the ride but the breeze kept it bearable.

Lesson #1 – Leave early and beat the heat!

HAD we been out on the course for much longer it would have been a different story.

Running Out of Water Made It Even More Epic!

Easy to say when you end up getting lucky and finding a spigot with 8 miles or so to go. We had just come off Sunrise Pass Road when my Camelback put forth no more liquid. Well, I thought, it’s only another 30 minutes or so and we’re on the pavement so…And there it was. The red handled goddess of H2O. So lucky.

Lesson #2 – Bring more water than you think you’ll need.

I had a frame-pack and could have carried another bottle at least but I figured 3 liters (~100 ounces) would be enough. It wasn’t. We were out there almost four (4) hours afterall and on the road I would certainly have needed more; and riding on gravel is more taxing. Duh!

Speed Is Your Friend

MOST of the time. We had put in a good chunk of time climbing out of Brunswick Canyon so when we hit Sunrise Pass Road we opened it up and flew down some of those long sweeping downhills.

Lesson #3 – Gravel and rocks are not tire friendly.

NOT that we didn’t know that but when I saw that Stan’s geyser shooting out of Chris’ rear wheel I knew a stop was eminent. It was pretty frickin’ cool though; watching and hearing that thing go.

Okay, I’ll just put this back on the bike and we can get out of this sun!

TOO much speed can make it harder to see some of those “sharpies.” That’s why, when out in gravel country, you need to carry a bit more gear than you might otherwise.

BETWEEN us we had:

  • Two (2) tires
  • Four (4) tubes
  • Four (4) CO2 cartridges
  • Two (2) pumps
  • Two (2) mini-tools
  • Okay, you get the idea.

HERE’S what I forgot:

  • Sunscreen
  • Stan’s (Chris did have this)
  • Stem remover (Chris had this too)
  • Rag (neither of us had this but I did have some paper towels).

Lesson #4 – Bring what you’ll need for the worst-case scenario!

Paper towels, for example, come in handy, and not just for napkins. They have myriad uses and they are more durable than TP if you get my drift.

AS for sunscreen, we should have brought some for sure. That was a bonehead move. What made it even more bone-headed (on my part) was that I didn’t hose down very well at the start.

DIDN’T even get the legs. Regretting that today. I wore a cap so I didn’t spray the top of my head. So when I wanted to take the cap off…Yeah, it stayed on.

To Pack or Not to Pack?

I went with the frame-pack and the CamelBak yesterday. That was good and bad. Good in that I could carry extra stuff, including the tubes and tire, and a sandwich. Bad in that the frame-pack rubbed on my legs a bit. Another 20-30 miles or so would not have been ideal.

THE CamelBak was especially good because I could drink water much more easily. Most of the gravel sections on this route were pretty technical (at least for me) so not having to pull a bottle to hydrate was groovy. On the bad side…the tube kept coming unseated from its dock. That was a bit irritating.

Lesson #5 – Test and adjust your gear before the big ride.

IT’S not like I didn’t know that. Still, being an experienced roadie, yet a neophyte gravelleur, means I didn’t account for the time that I would spend on the road, er trail.

NOTE to self: About ten (10) miles on hour is your average on gravel. This is not pavement! Got it, Mark? Good!

Sand Can Be Fun

Three hours in and still smiling. What a great day in the Pinenuts!

TO me, that sand is the funnest part of gravel riding. Not so much so at the end of a long day but still…I just love the challenge of staying upright. All that core work comes in handy here let me tell ya!

Lesson #6 – Gear down, pedal, and take as much weight off the bars as you can.

THEN just go with the flow. And remember that driver’s trick and turn into the skid. And did I say pedal, pedal, pedal?

Know Where You’re Going!

ESPECIALLY if you’re directionally challenged like I am. So either load the course on your computer, or have a guide (like I did), or both. Thanks ‘Toph! Old school (like a paper map) works too, by the way.

AND, don’t forget to let your person(s) know what you’re doing, where you’re headed and approximately when you’ll be back.

The Last Two Lessons?

  • Don’t take yourself, or the day, too seriously.
  • Hang on and just enjoy the ride.

THIS ride was really the first time I embraced that gravelleur mantra and so I laughed when in the past I would have whined; and I relaxed and sang along with the music when things looked too hairy or scary.

SO there you have it…Chris & Mark’s most excellent gravel adventure. I hope my takeaways come in handy. As always, though, it’s up to you to do your homework and be prepared.

ONCE you’ve done that, then go ahead, plan that gravel adventure. If you have as much fun as we did then my work is done! 😉