it’s the beginning of June, and I’ve got about 5 months until my trip. I’ve been logging a good amount of miles since I started riding again after the accident, and I’ve ridden about 3600 miles in just 5 months. My leg strength has returned, and while it is not quite where it needs to be, I now find it easy to stand up from a seated position, and riding in a standing position is also easy.
In April, I attended the Rawhyde off-road training camp, level 1 in SOCAL, and I can say with confidence that attending this course was a great way to build skill and confidence. The coaches are great, the food is great, the ranch is pretty spetacular, and all of the folks at Rawhyde are simply the nicest people you might imagine. What’s not to love.
The course is structured to quickly bring you up to speed, with each drill building on the previous one, so by the end of the weekend, you are able to progress through an obstacle course (the ropes course), perform complex hill climbs and descents, make your way through sand, and just travel at medium speeds over varying terrain.
Over the course of the weekend, I believe that everyone fell at least once, but almost all of the falls are low-speed falls, which are more like low speed tip-overs, but let’s not split hairs. I managed to keep my fall count down, and only fell 2 1/2 times over the course of the weekend. You’ll notice that I said that I fell 2 1/2 times. Well, that’s because one of them was so slow, and was not really a fall, but I would be remiss not to at least mention it. Oh hell, let’s just say that I fell 3 times and be done with it.
Back to preparing for the trip. Now is the time where I’m putting all of the packing details together. I have never been on a tour like this before, and I’m a bit of a detailed planner, so I’ve built an comprehensive packing list, and I’m now looking it over, filling in any missing pieces. When I’m done, I’ll use the list to estimate what size duffle bag I need to buy. Which reminds me, while at Rawhyde I noticed that one of the coaches had a really interesting hip/thigh pack hung on his waste. I discovered that this pack is made by a company called 2 Wheel Ride, and the part can be seen here .
I ordered one of these for myself, and since I’m a bigger guy, I discovered that the strap that goes around the thigh was a little bit too short. I simply sent them an email and we worked through the problem. I need to say that they sent me a few new straps and buckles so that I could extend the length of the strap. Now, this problem is something that almost no one else would ever have to go through, but the speed at which they addressed the problem, and their willingness to help me out is nothing short an extraordinary display of customer service. Have a look at this pack, and I’m sure you’ll buy one for yourself.
Back to packing…
So, in the next 30 days, I’ll assemble all of the goods for the trip, and size up the number of liters that I’ll need, and probably make a trip to the Patagonia Factory Outlet store in Santa Cruz and see if I can get a deal. Patagonia offers the Black Hold duffel, a really extraordinary duffel bag which can also be carried on your shoulders, and which has some pouches inside. The Large or Extra Large should easily be able to handle my helmet, boots, coat, pants, and all of the other gear without any issues.
It’s almost time to send to Chile and Argentina for the visas. So, you can see that time is moving forward quickly, and with each day, I get more and more excited. In fact, because I’m tall, I will probably need to customize the bike to fit me, and also to mount my navigation system, and camera. As has been the case throughout all of my communications with them, the folks at Compass Expeditions have simply done everything that they can to help me out. Once I arrive, I’ll give them some Rox handle bar risers, a set of lowering footpegs, and a wire harness for the navigation system, so that it will be able to run for the whole day, without needing to be charged. When I first spoke to them about the trip, they committed to helping me make sure that the 700 will fit me, and each time I speak to them, they reassure me not to worry. And, in true Aussie fashion, they say “Don’t worry, we’ll get it all sorted for you”. Comforting words if ever there were some.
Last week, Bruce and I headed down the Pacific Coast Highway, and managed to miss the turn for a road that we were trying to find, without a map. The nest thing we knew, we found ourselves in Santa Cruz. Not wanting the ride to end by simply going back north, we headed further south to Aptos and stopped by a friends house. While there, he suggested some pretty awesome off-road riding on fire roads in Scotts Valley, Aptos and Santa Cruz. We managed to find about 25 miles of off-road riding, and we were in heaven. It does need to be said that these were the first off-road miles that we’ve found since I purchased the bike a year ago. It is nice to see that these roads exist, and now it’s time to find more. What a ball we had.
That’s it for now,
Back again soon