Sunday, February 10, 2008

Decisions, decisions...

In the broadest sense, years worth of experimenting, fiddling, making mistakes, then re-experimenting have led me to this:With two weeks 'til I'm on the trail and pedaling, most of the big decisions are already in the rear view. Too late to change the plane ticket, the destination, the frame and fork, sleeping bag, hubs, wheels, etc... that stuff is all happily locked in. Likewise with the food (taste tested, portioned, packed and already loaded on the bike), peeper protection, clothing (last stitches were added and checked today...), leash, and so on, right down to the bearing grease.

Which means that I'm in that no-mans land where all I can do is second guess everything that's already been done. Can't add any more fitness--I can choose to maintain or I can choose to be stupid and kill what little I *do* have.

Decided to take today off the bike and enjoy some non-pedaling time in the winter alpine. Skate skis were the toy du jour and in the brief few minutes between the non-existent warmup (thanks Dave!) and the tumble into a bottomless (and glycogen-less) pit I was able to see and think very clearly. Lucidly, almost.I didn't have many happy thoughts:
>Should I reinstall the steel crankarms with the crappy chainline, or keep the carbon ones that might delaminate at -40?
>Is the marginally better shifting of the carbon caged rear-der worth the worry that it too will delam in sub-zero temps?
>Hey--was that a weasel?
>Is one spare shift cable enough? Who am I kidding?! If I need to replace a shift cable out there I'm gonna shoot myself before it happens a second time...
>Shaving grams from a 140 pound bike seems a bit silly, right? So is it then wrong to wonder if titanium-bodied pedals are the best choice for a 25-day unsupported expedition?
>Has anyone ever tested the o-rings on those MSR fuel bottles? How can it be good to have a caustic solvent on one side and -60 degrees on the other? And if they have tested them, how? And if the results were bad, why?
>What effect will a 340lb bike/rider combo have on a thin-sidewalled balloon tire run at ~9psi for a thousand miles through the equivalent of sandpaper? Will a thicker tube make any difference at 'supporting' the thin casing? If so, how thick before it becomes a liability in itself?
>When it comes to freeze dried stewed prunes, is three enough???!
Those types of questions have free run of my mental cache right now. There are answers, but there's no way of knowing the right answers. Sleeping fitfully as a result.

Next week the answers still won't have come. I can merely hope for a state of grace where I accept that what's done is done and that's all what can be done.
Apropos of nothing above, and wholly representative of my mental state right now, the only way I can think to end this entry is with a quote from Mandy Patinkin:
"Sleep well and dream of large women...".




  1. The only mistake I see is your photographed your bike in the granny gear. You need to always have that bad boy in the big. Best of luck out there.

  2. truthfully, i find the bike rather sexay. not that it matters even in the slightest. the bike looks like a fine, fine machine, and i know you will treat each other well.

    as for the thought list, i find this the most interesting: >Hey--was that a weasel?<

    the most present thought in there, right? stay with the present, right?

    good luck good luck and good luck! ENJOY yourself and your journey!!


  3. Anytime in the next 2 weeks, and including Mar 1, that I think I have it bad worrying about Vision Quest, I shall remember you, in the Alaskan wilderness, riding around in -40F weather, alone. Good luck, and I can't wait to read the report upon your return!

  4. I've seen monsters like that only in my dreams. What a beast!

  5. Awesome! I wish you all the best and shall have you and the others in my thoughts.
    Stay safe and Ride On!

    Nigity - "Always keep a smile in your heart."

    PS - I turn 50 in April and would love to try the Arrowhead 135 Feb. of next year. Any wisdom on training and gear would be greatly appreciated. I certainly won't be doing it on a steed like the Moots.

  6. Good luck and have fun! I'll be interested to hear what you think of the SPOT unit. I've had one for a while, and have not been too impressed - it is very easily block by trees. So, living here in Oregon, the thing is worthless much of the time, which is a real bummer, as it's a great idea.

  7. Mike;

    As you've learned from your experiences, it's best to stick with your intuition regarding equipment capabilities/failures. Having never owned any carbon components, I certainly can't add anything to that discussion, but it makes sense to avoid a situation that would put a halt to your upcoming adventure. Delaminating bicycle components can't be a good thing in any temperature.

    About your tire pressure, my uneducated and unsolicited opinion would be to ramp it up to 15, 20 or even 25 psi whenever possible, just to be on the safe side. What you're loosing in traction and comfort will more then be made up with peace of mind.

    And lastly, best of luck out there Mike. We're all rooting for you. Hope the challenges of your "Graduate Work" come easily, but not too easily. After all, a few rough spots makes for more interesting reading ;-)

    Happy trails, and many lucid and extraordinary moments to you.

  8. maybe i'll see you out on the trail. now if only there was a way to make these next 12 days disappear.

  9. That rig belongs in a museum. I've never seen anything remotely like it. Wow, talk about a decade + of passion rolled into one machine.


    Of course, it's just a vehicle. I recognize the real passion, and that's all about being out there.

    Oh, and 3 prunes? I'd double that.

  10. One minor technical note:
    It was Cary Elwes, not Mandy Patinkin. Still, a good reference.