Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ready to roll

So this is what my bike looks like loaded. I couldn't find a wonderful place for my sleeping pad so I finally just strapped it to the aero bars. Sleeping bag, spare tubes and clothing go in the seatpost bag. The bivy, batteries, headlight battery pack, med kit, pump, filter (if I decide to bring it) and food go in the frame bag. I hose-clamped a bottle holder underneath the frame so I have a place to carry a bottle. The rest of my water, tools and electronics go in a backpack. I've carried it with as much as nine liters of water inside. It's not too bad. The bike, on the other hand, is heavy.

But that's how it goes. I'm a tourist, not an ascetic. I haven't weighed the bike at all. These are things I'm best off not knowing. But I've made considerable improvement since my cross-country tour six years ago, when I carried a laptop and accessories that weighed close to 10 pounds by itself, along with a six-pound tent, a pillow(!), a full-sized Thermarest, three full changes of clothes and Tasty Bites (foil-packaged Indian dinners that we didn't really like and for some reason couldn't throw away, so we hauled a few most the way from Utah to New York.) Yes, I'm so much better now. At least I'm leaving the laptop behind.

I'm heading out Sunday for an overnight tour near the Uintas. I'll have my SPOT on but I'm not sure how interesting it will be. I don't feel comfortable mapping my own gravel route in the high country, so I may stick mostly to pavement. I may head out and back on some gravel if the conditions look good. I'm going to kind of wing it as I go. Sometimes, that's the most fun way to travel by bike. This is pretty much my last chance to dial in my gear in the field. After I get back, I'll talk about what comes next.

I had a great time visiting my friend Anna in Heber. She has a 1-year-old, Mia, who I've only recently met. Adorable, obviously. We met up at the Stewart Falls trailhead and I was surprised to see Anna's brother, Matt, in tow. Matt's with the Air Force and works all over the world - it was pretty random that he just happened to be visiting Utah during the same weekend I planned to visit Anna. It was fun to catch up with him. I went on a river trip with Anna's whole family four years ago and afterward felt tempted to ask Matt if I could run away with him to whatever exotic locale he was working at the time. He's married now. Too bad. :-)

After Stewart Falls, we hit the Dairy Keen for fresh raspberry shakes and then Cascade Springs. It was a pretty idyllic summer Saturday in Heber. I'm feeling a bit loathe to leave right now. But the solo bike tour awaits.