alternate title: Lookout! A Weekend Getaway to Cape Lookout
This past weekend I passed a milestone of training for the Big Adventure: I rode approximately 100 miles from my home in Portland, OR to the Pacific coast on Cape Lookout. The route I took went through some really beautiful country, including an Oregon Scenic byway along the Nestucca River and the Oregon Coastal Highway (101). This trip offered me the chance to test various aspects of myself and my gear that need to be in working order for me to bike halfway across the country in three weeks…
Often times when undertaking something of this nature one might want to print out reams of maps and directions, but this is not my preferred solution. Rather than take a set of detailed instructions or a GPS navigator that works everywhere, I simply study a map the night before, try to identify landmarks such as cities and towns, mountains, weird names, that sort of thing. I also make a cue sheet to the effect of “R on Pacific Coast Highway, follow through Newberg (20 mi)”. After that, it is all up to Future Spencer. He is the one who takes the cue sheet and the memory of the map and reconciles it with the real world. He is rather good at it, too. He even corrected me—I had written Left on one instruction when I meant Right. Of course, he still uses tools like his smartphone when he is confused, but he and I are both learning to trust our internal compasses a lot more.
Biking is slow. Being used to driving in a car, and navigating in a car, switching to navigating on a bike leads to a lot of thoughts like “am I going the right way? should I be there by now?”. The trick is to turn the internal compass down to the bicycle’s speed. In other words, repeat to yourself “you are not lost, you are still going the right direction”.
I recently bought a new sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and they needed to be put to the test. The new sleeping bag is an REI Siesta, 30+/40+ 3-season bag. One of my favorite features of the bag is that the zipper goes all the way across the bottom, allowing my feet to stick out the bottom, or for the bag to be laid completely flat like a blanket!
My new sleeping pad is a Thermarest Prolite (regular-size) inflatable pad, and I am really happy with it. It goes from Very Compact to Very Comfortable in minutes! A big improvement on my old closed-cell foam pad.
I recently bought a GoPro Hero3 Black edition camera, mostly for taking riding shots. It is an excellent, tiny camera and I enjoy using it as a “set it and forget it” device. This weekend allowed me to test something I had not confirmed before: the ability to charge it from my portable battery pack. The battery pack is a Biologic Reecharge, and it charges from the wall, a USB outlet, or (most importantly) from the hub dynamo in my bicycle’s front wheel. It seems to able to charge anything with a USB input, such as this GoPro camera, an iPhone, iPad or Kindle!
I was also testing a new pannier design for my brother, but shhhhhh. More on that later this year.
Of course I also wanted to make sure my body could take the sudden stress of doing a 100-mile day after nothing but 9-mile days all year. I am happy to report that it can! I was slightly stiff and sore the next morning, but that could be just as much from sleeping on the ground as biking so far. I rested assured, though, that I can totally do this!
So what is next for Surly Lewis and myself? Well, I need to take him in for a checkup (mostly for his new rear wheel, to make sure the spokes are setting properly), and I would like to get a fresh chain/casette for him. Then I box him up with some of the gear I will not need and ship him off to Grace in Missouri. It will be hard without him for a week, but I will be having fun at the Boston Calling music festival, and then visiting my parents just before taking off for St Louis.. The plan is to start riding on June 1st.