This is probably my favorite image as well as my favorite group shot from last week. I took it toward the end of second day. We were tired and weathered already. We paid for every mile up to this point. The moment captured above we stopped to not only rest in the shade, but take in the vast, beautiful and incredible landscape we were in. I bet each and every one of us at that point had no idea what was in store for us in the final 25 or so miles of the Anza Borrego desert.
As I look at the picture I imagine all the things that led up to this point as well as what came after. What a great group of folks. Each of us on different paths and in different places, yet thanks to bikes, friends, dreams and the internet, each of our paths led us to that exact moment to share together. For me, that is the reward and the dominating memory of this journey. Thank you gents!
I spent the weekend at home with the kids and preparing for an upcoming bikepacking vacation. Whenever I am prepping for another trip, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about gear. Today you get some ramblings in no particular order.
My bike – In reviewing this trip, I wrestled with what bike to bring? Their were 3 Salsa bike options; my Fargo, my El Mariachi and a Spearfish. Considering I don’t own a Spearfish, the choice quickly went down to the Fargo and the EM. I really wanted to ride the El Mariachi with a suspension fork but given I haven’t ridden flat bars all that much this year I was worried about repeated long days of pedaling with flat bars and hand numbness. The last time I switched to flat bars after primarily riding drop bars was Kokopelli a few years ago. My hands went numb on that trip. I can’t risk it on this trip. So my trusty Fargo with Woodchippers got the nod for this trip. For those that are about to write a comment telling me I can put a suspension fork on my Fargo, you are right, but I don’t own one any longer with a steer tube long enough. The message buried deep into these words is ride what you know. I love my Fargo.
Camera – The number one thing sending people to this site in terms of keyword searching is camera gear. In particular, Sony NEX gear. Top keyword searches and posts here on Imaginegnat are NEX 7, E mount 50mm f1.8, Sigma 19mm, and Zeiss 24mm f1.8. Well….Other than some film camera related posts, I haven’t written about my main cameras in some time, but I must confess. I have sold off ALL my Sony NEX gear. Why? Honestly, there are many reasons.
The first being weather sealing. I had trouble last fall on a wet Hawaii trip and also earlier this year in Japan. In the rain, I had the camera lock up forcing me to reboot repeatedly, thus, losing all my settings and controls. It’s also very frustrating. I just can’t have that happen.
Images – My family did a North Shore/BWCA trip earlier this year. I took two cameras, my Sony NEX with 2 lenses and my Nikon DSLR with 2 lenses. I shot both cameras quite a lot. Given point one above, any time we were out in a canoe or in a situation where it looked like rain, I brought my Nikon DSLR. When I returned, I sorted images for personal use, blog use and a few for a future project. Of the images I chose, about 75% of those were from my Nikon DSLR. In short, I came to the conclusion that I captured more images I liked with my DSLR. That experience also added clarity to something rolling around in my head, that being the conclusion that I liked the size and technology of the NEX cameras but I did not like the images they produce as much as my other camera.
Sony support – The NEX line really falls short in it’s lens offerings. Sure I can use adapters and I did, but Sony was slow to respond with native lenses. They are slowly catching up, but when compared to my Nikon and to micro 4/3rds, they are way, way behind. Additionally, Sony has been slow to issue much needed firmware updates. Again, I love Sony for pushing the boundaries of technology, but they also need to invest in their current customers. It just isn’t happening.
There are other reasons too such as overheating of the sensor while recording movies and a few issues with the EVF in certain situations, but for me those weren’t main factors, they just added to my decision to move on.
Bikepacking Gear – That is my set up above. The bar bag is the one time per day use stuff. This includes bivy, Tyvek ground cloth, sleeping pad and down quilt. The seat bag is quite accessible and will primarily have clothes in it as well as a few misc items and some food. Framebag will primarily be water, food and very small cook kit. Back pack will be my camera and my rain jacket as well as extra water for one of the really long days in the California heat and desert.
It sort of goes without saying, but whenever you prep for a trip and force yourself to make decisions, the final choices almost always come down to what you know and what you are comfortable with.
My blogs have been kind of short lately. I’d like to tell you what is going on. Besides being busy with home and work, I’ve got two things that are fairly big on the horizon. I expect both to happen here in October. The first is that I have a multi-day bikepacking tour coming up on southern California. This is a full on vacation for me and not related to work. I haven’t done a trip like that in so long as my trips always revolve around work. Not this time. Four of my friends are coming with me and we are doing a 375 mile route with something like 30,000 feet of climbing called the Stagecoach 400. I’m pretty darned excited about it. A little scared too as this hasn’t been my best year for fitness. It’s given me a goal though and I am trying to ride every chance I get. I’ve been shooting quite a bit on those rides. In fact, I have come out of my creative slump and believe I have gotten some amazing stuff lately. Looking forward to sharing it possibly later this week or the next.
Not only am I prepping my body, I am prepping my gear. The above shot was from my last bikepacking tour in California. On that trip I carried a bit too much stuff. This time, in an effort to go further, I’m going to carry less….Except for camera gear. On my last California tour I carried a small point and shoot camera. I had considered shooting this trip on film, but I just can’t imagine carrying film and dealing with film when I am hot, sweaty and dusty. I also don’t have a bit of extra space for the extra film. On this trip, I plan to carry my full size Nikon DSLR with 2 lenses stuffed in my trusty Osprey Talon 22 backpack. I’ve gotten my gear worked out now and I really hope to capture this trip in a way that is both honest, inspiring and breathtaking. Send me good thoughts that I can do all of that.
In addition, I will have a new website up later this month. It will be quite a change and I am looking forward to sharing it. My friend Erik Mathy is helping me build it….OK he is doing the entire build out, but what time I have right now is being used to think about that and create content for the new site. I’m excited as it marks a big step forward for me and my wife. So….If you are wondering why the short posts, that is what is going on in my world.
All that did, I managed to go back through my last California tour pics in search of inspiration. Here’s one last shot. I can’t wait to see what I get on this upcoming trip.
After a record month here on the Imaginegnat blog, it’s time for a break. This one is a big one too. I’m out and about for the next 3 weeks. I’m taking some personal time for me as well as a bike trip with my Salsa Fargo to a far away land. I’ll officially be back here blogging around the 21st or 22nd of May. I’ll likely have a few random posts between now and then from who knows where?
In blog terms, this break comes at an inopportune time. It’s not recommended to take a break when things are going so well. However, this blog doesn’t pay the bills and I’ll be honest, I need to be out there to find inspiration for in, or on, here. This is a needed break and my longest since I started blogging several years ago. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t feel it was needed. I expect to come back with loads of inspiration, stories as well as some fun imagery. I sure hope you keep coming back and stick with me through this break.
Have a great week folks. Stay tuned and expect a surprise post or two.