Trying to be in the moment: A ramble to Kelley Point Park, 12 Feb 2018

Things have been a little stressful here at the Urban Adventure League HQ. At work, we got a new reservation system that I’m still trying to figure out. In my personal life, I have a lot of projects to tackle.

Like most fully employed “regular job” folks, I get two days off a week, typically on Sunday and Monday. While I’d love nothing more to just go ride or do something fun on my weekends, sometimes I just gotta take care of business. This is where I found myself this past Sunday and Monday. There were the prospects of going with  Emee to the coast or bike camping with my friends*, if I didn’t have to work on Saturday. (Oh, to have a regular weekend again!)

Sure, I could have made my own adventure, like go camp alone, but 1) lonely 2) dark and 3) cold.** Plus, I have some big travel plans coming up in March, where the first three weekends of the month consist of going out of town. So I’d feel guilty about goofing off for the weekend when I have so much I want/need to do and so much travel coming up. Now is time to get shit done.

On Sunday I attempted to put my nose to grindstone. I did get a few things around the house done, and worked on a bit of bike stuff. But not nearly as much as I wanted. Of course I was looking out at that blue sky taunting me all day…

Monday came and I decided I needed to do a little bit of riding, because I felt like I was getting nowhere fast. It was another sunny and mild (50F) day, but there was a good east wind, so riding east to the Gorge didn’t sound tantalizing. I’d like to get up to Powell Butte again, but the day was waning, so I went with the tried and true: Down to the Slough. I hadn’t been all the way out to Kelley Point Park in a while, why not now? And I haven’t done a true solo Coffee Outside adventure in a bit, so what better time to pull out the Esbit coffee machine?

The bike I’d be using for this ramble is the Robin Hood. I’ve been riding it a bunch in the two months since I got it built up. I really like riding it a lot, but I still need to tweak some things. I got around to fixing the rear flat from the week previous, and also reinstalled a bag support that I hadn’t been having much luck with. I wanted to give it one more shot. Normally, I use the Carradice Nelson Longflap bag with this bike, but with all the supplies I wanted to take (coffee kit, a bit of lunch, an extra layer for when it gets cold later, my sketchbook and other implements), it was a bit much. So I got the larger Camper Longflap and it absorbed everything. I hit the road.

That’s when things went a bit south.

Immediately when I sat on the saddle, the nose of the Brooks tilted upwards dramatically. This was the problem I had with the bag support before, since all the weight of the bag was attached to the back of saddle (vs. saddle and seatpost when not using one.) I made sure that the bracket attaching saddle to seatpost was as tight as possible, but it still didn’t stop the nose up. I rode a few miles down the road since the day was waning and I wanted to “keep the momentum”, damn the discomfort.

I got about five miles in and took a break at the picnic shelter by Smith Lake. I decided to take the bag support off, since that should mitigate most of the “upward nose” Brooks issue. And it did, but it of course caused another issue: the bigger, laden bag rested up against the rear brake cable. causing the brake to drag.*** (It hadn’t done this with the Nelson (or as much) since the bag is smaller.)****  The four miles to Kelley Point felt draggy, like I was facing a headwind (even though it was a tailwind.) I didn’t realize what was happening until I got to Kelley Point.

I was a bit frustrated. I know that Any Bike Ride is good, and I should enjoy the moment. But it’s hard to do this when frustrations like this cloud the experience.  I started thinking about All The Things I’m Putting Off Because I’m On A Bike Ride. Sure, I need to take care of my mental health and do things like this for myself “because”. But I couldn’t think about all of that at the time.

Thankfully, there was no issues with the coffee making. And things were beautiful at the point in that brilliantly clear February day way. There were quite a few people enjoying the park on a Monday afternoon, so much that it made me think Washington’s Birthday was today, not next week. The mountains were out and dazzling. And I got to see two bald eagles–two!–fly overhead. So it wasn’t all bad, but it was hard to think that while in the moment.

No matter which way I went, I was a ways away from home. So I decided to head back home via St. Johns in order to get some dinner and maybe a beer. The ride was still a bit draggy, but since I knew what was up, I didn’t mind as much. I just know I need to tweak things a bit more.

*Yes, in February!

**No, not as cold as most of the country, but we did see our first frost in over a month Sunday night. My equipment could handle it, but that long night alone would be daunting, unless I sprung for a cabin.

***It’s a steel rim, so no worries about “wearing out the rim” by this.

****Remind me why I like these saddlebags so much again? 😉

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