Thursday, 11 October 2007

R & R In the California wilderness

After being in Ojai for two weeks I've come to a stand still, no blog, no writing in my journal and no riding the bike, except down the shops. In this time I admit, I've done little to write about. There hasn't been any exciting roads to thrash along, no awesome scenery to slow me down, my grief has taken a back seat and I've relaxed into obscurity. Actually, not quite! While it may be true about the lack of riding and writing; it certainly isn't about no scenery! Last weekend I went hiking with Alasdair and Lauren into the lower Sespe wilderness area, accompanied by their son Iain and a couple of friends.

We were only away for a few days. There was a three hour hike in, with full packs, on Friday. You could call it lucky, the hike in was mainly down hill; I'd call it unpleasant, having to think of the hard climb out all weekend. But I didn't, and we actually made better time on the way out than coming in. My legs ached after the hike in, first morning was stiff city central, the second not a lot better, and the next saw me walking very stiff legged; not the best situation when you're in a hurry to get to the loo. But it was only when first getting up, after a few stretches and a walk around there was no problem. I really thought there would be the morning after we got back, hell no! Jelly legs, from the walk out, stiffened up right enough, it went in no time and I felt so relieved. Nothing remained to hinder my service and upgrades to the bike.

Staying at a base camp made things much easier, needing nothing else than something warm to snuggle into for the cold nights, all our supplies and a desire for peace. Base turned out to be a lovely sandy beach, near a deep swimming pool. I expected the water to be really warm, like it had been before heading north. I was not so lucky, it was cold and took me a day of going in to get used to it. On the last day, acclimatised, I started to enjoy some of the higher or dodgier jumps/dives. Didn't get round to the big ones I had earmarked, leaving time came up unexpectedly and I didn't want to walk in soaking shorts. A bit of a bummer, but I need to trust to Al's experience of the area, and follow his itinerary. It worked fine Saturday, we made it to Devils gate, a lot further than they've managed for quite some time.

Meals were basic, with plenty available, which we all shared carrying, for the hike in. Getting out was easier for weight, stuff your face full of all remaining food and there's nowt left to carry. Mind you, I made the mistake of taking too large a day pack Saturday, I ended up carrying rather more than desired for the long day's hike. The sandstone along the gorge was lovely looking, but loose as Britney Spears. definitely not worth climbing on; much too dodgy! Once we'd started, Al's ulterior motive became clear, uprooting Tamarisk, a non-native that easily becomes dominant over the natives; sounds like white settlers to me. Mmmm, maybe that's the way to rid the world of many of its problems, rip out the non-natives and make room for the native species to flourish in peace. Staying on the topic of the environment I'm not sure how I feel about such actions. There must be an argument for allowing species to flourish where they can, hasn't nature always balanced itself out in the end? Mankind has a weird hypocrisy, surely if something arrives in a place naturally let it live. Of course I know its not that simple, many alien species devastate an area, ousting well established native species; but isn't this the way of nature? Are we not playing god by deciding what will, and what won't, be allowed to survive in any particular place? Tricky question, and one I'm not qualified to answer! Don't we all like to maintain what we percieve as beautiful in it's natural state? Just not in relationships, eh?

One of the big differences the last couple of weeks has shown is having time to look at the bigger picture of my life. Despite plenty of soul searching questions, whilst on the bike, they can always be noted and put to the side. There's always more important things to focus on! When kicking your heels, with little to do, the mind wanders/wonders, and there's no ignoring it. As a person dear to my thoughts informed me, maybe I just need to peak over the edge into that viod, start seeing what's there for me. All the time I'm travelling I can keep my mind on that, not seeing what life might hold for me now. That is the tendancy for me, to ride, mile after mile, day after day, the travelling being the dominant purpose, only dealing with the grief as it comes, not daring to face the future. I'm very good at the travelling, deal with all eventualities in a no mess, confident manner. Its not what I want in my heart though, I don't want to be an eternal wanderer, alone, to keep moving being the only purpose in life. People hold me in awe, for my ability to travel, to deal with the unexpected, to be out there doing it. I don't know how they see it like that, I'd rather feel able to hold down a caring relationship, for there to be enough there to negate the alternative, to wander the world alone. In many ways, travelling could be seen as the bane in my life. Its imposed a very heavy cost, not one I'd have chosen if given the choice. But that's all hind sight, best acknowledged, remembered, but left behind.

How better to jolt yourself out of a rut than a bit of retail therapy! I love shopping, give me money and I'll spend it; unfortunately it wasn't on clothes this time. Not so unfortunate though, I spent it on upgrades for the bike. Sensible ones too, nothing purely cosmetic, although it will look very different when finished. After talking a lot of people it really is apparent, the biggest hassle in South America is theft. Travelling alone now makes this even more of a risk, never feeling comfortable leaving my bike anywhere, not being able to pop in any store, toilet etc without risking my stuff being slit open, cut off, or any other means of skulduggery. Of course with two people it would have been easier, one could look after both our stuff, while the other was away. So now I've ordered a set of aluminium hard luggage, two side cases and a top box. Its so much cheaper than what there is available in Europe, I'm even getting it epoxy coated for a better look and more durability. My tank bag assemblage has taken a sever beating as well, which it won't get over, so that's had to go too, Hein Gericke will refund me when I get home. To replace it I've got a pacsafe tank bag, this has wire mesh built in so it can't be cut open or off the bike. Shame it hasn't the small panniers the Hein Gericke one did, but I should still have at least the same package space. And so I become a type of motorcyclist I havent been for ages, no longer to chuck it over and strap it on, more like shoestring touring. A change is as good as a rest too, it takes away loads of anxiety in this case. So with a freer mind, I set off for Latin America, speaking hardly any Spanish, and not giving a damn!

On the performance side I wanted to improve the low end response; better pick up from low revs and easy adjustability of the air mixture. So After market parts were the only answer; a new exhaust (Supatrapp), improved flow air fliter (re-usable), and I drilled out the factory sealed air screw and put in a 'T'handle mixture screw, for really easy adjustment. This is important when hitting high altitudes, I won't have to mess around with a screw driver, a quick twist one way going up, a twist the other way coming down. I've also bought a disc lock with an alarm, for a bit of bike security. Apart from spares, thats about all I've bought, very restrained of me, eh? Oh, I forgot about the laptop! After so much time and effort spent in libraries through out the USA and Canada, I decided to invest in one to save hand writing a personal journal as well as this blog. Of course, this wouldn't have been possible had I not got hard luggage. It all makes perfect sense to me, upgrades to fuel and air are done already and work a treat, better, crisper low end acceleration and more raucous exhaust noise; just my sort of bike!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can imagine the sound of the bike as you motor/razz on!
Tamarisk, Himalayan balsalm alien species, definitely a difficult one , but the bees like the balsalm and it looks pretty - got a bit triffid like this year, which doesn't let the other vegetation grow so well, but then things have to adapt and change, after all the environment's changing. Do you think Al Gore will run for president after getting the Nobel Peace Prize? In Switzerland, where usually it is quiet with regards to politics the Right wing party is creating a bit of a stir by wanting the removal of aliens - which make up 20% of the population?! Have you taken any tentative glimpses into the void, or is it too early yet? Hope the latin americans treat you well and that the roads are delightful!