August 2012

Month: August 2012

Change happens, just be ready for the unexpected

When I first met Bonnard, my soon-to-be girlfriend’s cat, we got off to a bad start.
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An eight year long bad start.

Bonnard would have preferred I wasn’t around, and one occasion seemed to be actively trying to crush the breath out if me with his rotund, but not-heavy-enough body. Hissing, biting, scratching… All part of the norm. Now, and quite suddenly, Bonnard cuddles with me. It’s disconcerting… I’m not exactly neutral on the subject of cats.*

This got me thinking about all of the other surprises that have come along in my life. My career path has diverged greatly from what I thought it would be, and probably for the better. I’m glad I haven’t resisted the change, even though a part of me bristles when people suggest I’m “not a lawyer anymore.”

Despite that, I’m glad I have been open to shifting away from preordained notions of career towards paths that have been fulfilling, interesting, diverse, and allow the lifestyle I have come to enjoy. Change in my “business” life has been good, particularly when it’s incremental and on my own terms.

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*I sort of dislike them, but he’s sitting…. right… here… as I tap this out…

Tour de Pacific: some final thoughts

What a great adventure. Two weeks on a bike, camping the whole way… it seems like it went by so quickly.

  1. A big thanks to MJ for being my partner in crime for the time we were together. We sort of stumbled upon cycle touring around the same time, and he’s become a great friend to tour with. More to come for sure.*
  2. I like cycling in temperatures below 80, and colder if possible. I certainly can (and do) rock rides in the 90s, but throw in some hills and direct sunlight, and my ability to hit 50-70 mile days drops a lot.
  3. I miss Oregon, but this trip made me realize more than ever that there are parts that I prefer over others.
  4. I cannot forsee joining a large group ride again. When we found ourselves in small packs of other riders, I got uncomfortable… almost claustrophobic. It’s hard to feel claustrophobic on a bike in the great outdoors, and yet it happened.
  5. Leaving the Hennessey Hammock behind was the smartest thing I did. I like it, but not for long tours. The luxury of my bigger-than-I-need tent made a big difference for very little added weight and bulk.
  6. Slugs are cool.
  7. So are bunnies.
  8. Beer is a great reward at the end of the day, and a neutral to bad idea in the middle of a riding day.
  9. This still does not suck ———————————>
  10. The Goblin is a great bike, and it will come in handy for my next western adventure.
  11. I think this biking thing is going to stick… there are a lot of older dudes that I ran into, and I can’t forsee stopping.
  12. Hills no longer scare me… the uphills are just the price I pay for the joy of bombing downhill at 30+ mph…
  13. I missed my girl and my dog.
  14. San Francisco will always have a hold on me in a way I cannot articulate.

In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “that’s about it.” Wait, was that Bubba? Whatever…

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*I got a text from MJ today… he was in Fairfax, CA alive and well. He agreed that stars would have had to align just right in order to make it to SF in time for my flight.

Memo to my 16-year old self

I probably wouldn’t have listened to a 40-something dude who looked like me, but every once in a while I think about the kind of advice I would give to younger Tim. Periodically I’ll share those here.

Topic 24: Stand up for yourself, stand up for others, but don’t be a jerk.

It’s happened already, 16 year old Tim; you know you’re right, and someone else (likely someone in “authority”) is wrong and insists on their incorrect point of view. Mrs. Gaulin and her insipid stance that the zero year presidential jinx would apply to Jimmy Carter (cough cough… elected in 1976, not 1980… but whatever), and many many others. Sometimes they’re just annoying like that, and sometimes they rise to the level of true lack of fairness. Later in life, you’ll call that gnawing reaction to these as your flaming sword of justice starting to glow.

Yeah, flaming sword. Of justice. Definitely odd. But, really… bear with me…

Sometimes life’s little injustices apply to you, sometimes you’ll see people act unfairly towards others. In many of those cases, even when it’s not you, you’ll feel compelled to say something. That’s good. It’s part of what makes you, well, you.

Given all of the times it’s been necessary to wield the flaming sword of justice, I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share:

– It’s important to stand up for yourself and others when an authority figure or someone with leverage of some form is being demonstrably unfair. When you see someone else put through the wringer for no good reason, it’s ok to stand up for them (the person at the fast food place that lied about the attitude of the order taker in an attempt to get them fired for an honest mistake in the back… please feel free to step in and save that person’s job.).

– Be double sure you’re right. Nothing’s worse than wielding the sword when you’re mistaken. Not that that’s happened, but it almost has.

– It’s super easy to be a righteous a-hole when you respond to life’s little indignities. No yelling. State your case. Cut theirs to pieces. Always be classy, because later on you’ll be way happier if the other person is an irrational screamer, and you’re cool and collected (on the outside).*

– On the other hand… sometimes you’ll be right, others will be wrong, and you need to keep quiet. These times will suck, but other factors dictate silence. More on this later.

So: stand up for yourself, stand up for others, don’t be a jerk. Go get ’em…

*Examples abound, but not here, and not yet.

Day 13: Hello SF… We meet again…

A quick 5 mile ride… An hour of breaking down, boxing, driving and dropping off… The Goblin is on its way back to its resting spot in PDX after a valiant several hundred miles hauling me and 40 lbs of gear to the end of the Avenue of the Giants and back to Eureka.

The drive was odd… Once again I covered the stretch between Eureka and the redwoods albeit a bit faster. I also retraced the Climate Ride route up to the base of Leggett Hill, which was a bit bittersweet… I hope to get back and really kick the hell out of it.

No word yet from MJ but he probably won’t be in cell range til tonight. Looking forward to hearing about the hot climb through Garberville – it was 89 at 11:30am, so I’m guessing it was similarly hot for him.

I’m meeting up with Bay Area friends tonight… A nice reward for a busy 13 days. I’m sure I’ll have a few closing thoughts on the tour after I sit a bit without a bike nearby… Which feels super odd right now.

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Day 12: Hello I must be going

After a 35 mile ride to Fortuna (felt odd going north) I’m back at Eel River Brewing Company for a lunch stop. Counting Crows’ Long December is playing, which is one of those perfectly melancholy tunes for the last real riding day of my tour. The weather is back to normal, which means a stiff wind from the north… You know, the tailwind I was supposed to have the whole way down. Oh well.

I have some errands in Eureka, including swinging by Henderson Bikes to lay claim to a bike box to ship the Goblin back to the home of yesterday’s pine cone contest winner, Mr. Kevin Mooney.* After that it’s to the KOA to pay an absurd amount for a loud, highway side campsite. After paying five bucks a night to sleep in the redwoods, this seems balancing but at the same time utterly unfair.

Upside is I just saw the brewpub cat I first met at last year’s Climate Ride… Balancing, but good.

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Days 10-11: I’ll take the zero

In contrast to the go go go of the past 9 days, the last two have been decidedly more contemplative and relaxing. Spending time amongst the trees avoiding decisions other than “what to read next” has been particularly great. I wish I could bottle the aroma of this magnificent forest and pump it into every corner of every place I’ll ever inhabit… But that might be unreasonable.

Day 9 featured a special birthday celebration for Smokey Bear. The slides suggested he was both 68 and 67, so I’m thinking there may be more than container recycling in California State Parks if youknowwhatimean…

(drum fill)

Thank you I’ll be here all night.

The other aspect of the bday bash was a big old fashioned sing along and a campfire started with lighter fluid. The fire was curiously out of control for a fete honoring America’s most anti-fire mammal, and the singing of small children drove me away at great pace… prior to the cake, to my great chagrin. I dislike the sounds of children singing that much… No I’m not proud of that.

Day 11 found me dislodged from Burlington campground thanks to the two day limit. Since I wanted to get on my bike again, and I was totally out of food anyways, I rolled into Myers Flat for a resupply on the way to the next campground down the road. This one is a lot more secluded and features an enormous sequoia underneath which I’m currently tapping this post. I’m drying a few things on a bungee line I set up, and they’re lazily swaying in the summer breeze without a care in the world.

55 miles tomorrow puts me at the formerly maligned Eureka KOA. It’s north of town but puts me within a few miles of the Hertz, the bike shop, and the UPS Store that are going to combine for a busy Tuesday morning before my drive to SF. Hard to believe the end to this adventure is in sight…

MJ Tip of the Day
Since the poor bastard had to ride in 99 degree heat til he climbed Leggett to the coast, I’ll repeat his usual… “I’ll take rain and cold any day over direct sun and heat!” A true Oregonian even if he’s never been one…

PS If anyone can come up with the 80s era reference for the title of this post… I’ll send you a pine cone from here. Good luck. Offer ends Monday at 6am PT 😉

Offer closed: of course my brother guessed Eddie Murphy with the correct quote within 37 seconds… Delirious, about 10 minutes in.

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Day 9: Lessons in time-space management

One thing I’ve learned is to plan contingencies for the unexpected: bad weather, mechanical delays, injuries… You just need to have time to cover for them.

On the morning of Day 9, I realized I had zero margin for error to get to San Francisco, including a crazy 40 mile early morning ride the day of my flight back. It’s possible… I could have pushed, but I also knew that south of the redwoods (about 60 miles from Eureka), cell phones stop working for hundreds of miles, wifi is barely there, and my ability to juggle any one of a tour’s possible delays became near impossible.

So, I made the tough decision to pull the chord on the original plan… I’ll now slow way down and tour the Avenue of the Giants and Redwood State Park for a few days, then bike north to Eureka to ship the Goblin back to Portland, and then rent a car to drive to SF. I am doing this all Tuesday so I can get a chance to lift a glass with some Bay Area friends.

I look at my map and realize this has been an amazing adventure, and in some ways getting the chance to slow down and savor a 60 mile area for a few days is downright luxurious. It’s all just a little different than planned, but that’s life.

MJ is pushing on. With no deadlines of his own, he is still planning on heading to the Mexican border with family and friend stops in San Francisco and the L.A. area. It’s been a great trip and I know it’ll be odd to finish things without the mysterious one… but we’ll cycle together again.

A few highlights:

– MJ got his second flat within 2 days. This reinforced the wisdom of my decision… he’s had 2 flats in 3500 miles on this trip and they’ve clustered here. The road detritus in CA includes the sharp wires from radial tires, and they get through our Schwalbe Marathon tires that can stand up to nearly everything else.

– While flat repairs took place, I picked wild blackberries. I haven’t done that since I was a kid and it felt oddly centering. I might be doing more of that this weekend.

– Our campground is amongst enormous sequoias along the famed Avenue of the giants. It’s home for a few days… Not bad!

MJ Tip of the Day
F*ck it, we’ll do it live!

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Day 8: We kick some ass, MJ gets a flat and we dine with the viola player from Titanic

The dawn of day 8 smelled like the smoldering campfire from the night before. Roosevelt Elk slumbered in the meadow next to our tent town of cycle tourists in this remote corner of California. But as with every morning, it was time to move on.

MJ and I set out to hit another 70+ mile day to go beyond what “the book” suggested was the right stop… A KOA in Eureka. Yeah, not going to happen. Instead we decided to take advantage of the relatively tame afternoon portion and push to a campground in Fortuna that we’ve both stayed at… Him on last year’s PDX-SFO tour, me on the Climate RIde.

There’s a brew pub around the corner. No mystery here on why we chose this now.

A cool start, a chocolate milk and some rolling hills of some note got us through the morning. After deciding the book’s scenic route wawasting valuable beer time, we decided to stick with 101 north of Eureka and jammed into town ahead of schedule. A brief break by the side of the rode invited conversation with several passing bikers, including Keith, a SoCal tourist with impeccable and efficient gear. We were 20 miles away, so we pushed on.

Well, I did. MJ… mr. “I never get a flat and I never get rained on” got his first on-tour flat after 16 kajillion* miles. Meanwhile I am dropping the hammer (bike term) in my highest gear, breaking land speed records like a Lance on HGH. Only later do I notice the twin texts from MJ stating he had a flat, and that he had fixed said flat and was on the way. Great support team, eh?

After dropping out of warp 11 and gliding into camp, Keith rolled up as I was checking in. Through a quirk of private RV park math ($22 + $22 +$22 = $33 if three bikers share a tent site rather than share a tent site separately… Seems like string theory or quantum something whatsit to me) we figure Keith would hang with MJ and I. MJ came rolling in about 15 minutes later after getting to warp 76.

Back to Keith:

– plays viola in movies you have absolutely heard of… Titanic, Avatar, etc.

– went to the Eastman School of Music for a grad degree, which makes him an honorary Rochestarian in my mind (despite not knowing Nick Tahou’s – he gets a demerit for that).

– put up with our craziness while eating with us at the brewpub (and incidentally, paid for the whole thing, which was way too kind)

– has never seen The Wire and got an earful on why that needs to change

Eel River Brewery was aces again, but has the least hoppy IPA I have ever had. No complaints, just saying.

Shorter day tomorrow… We need to exorcise a bad day on this portion of MJs route last year. Day after we exorcise mine. Screw you Leggett!

MJ Tip of The Day:
You should always save your most 80s looking shorts for laundry day. Then embrace the look.

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*more than a thousand, less than a babillion

Don’t forget you can track this madness on a real live map at and also on Twitter.

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