I’m Back And I’m REALLY Happy About It! *Chokes Back Tears*

Well I’m back.

I’m writing a professional story for a legitimate publication about the trip from which I’ve just returned, so all I’ll say about it for now is that it’s the most I’ve ever ridden in a single week, and even more incredibly, I wore a helmet for five days straight, which may also be a personal record of some kind.

I can talk more about the vacation that preceded this trip, but only because Condé Nast Traveler rejected my pitch for a story called “The Art Of End-Of-Summer Off-Fucking.” It was our customary fin d’été excursion upstate, and if you’re wondering which auxiliary automotive cargo solution I ultimately went with, it was a cheapo roof bag from a certain online retailer named after a river:

Gas mileage took a hit, but other than that it worked perfectly.

As for the bikes that accompanied us, there’s my younger son’s hand-me-down Islabikes on the roof, as well as the Jones for my older son and the Homer for me:

Both bikes fit easily onto the Saris SuperClamp, wide bars and all, though I did have to lower the saddle on the Jones in order attain the necessary clearance–a two-second operation thanks to tried-and-true quick release seatpost clap technology. I could also have gotten a fourth bike on the roof, but my wife insisted she didn’t need one, as there were plenty of other opportunities to recreate or luxuriate at our disposal, and there’s not really a big middle ground where we vacation between very short child-friendly jaunts and grinding your way up very big hills. So I left the second roof rack tray on and used it to help anchor the bag.

My grab-and-go ride up there is a 10-mile loop that takes me up a really steep climb that turns to garvel and gets me back in plenty of time to spend the rest of the day doing nothing:

I also introduced my older son to it, which was a bit cruel as we’d just picked him up from a nearby sleepaway camp where he’d been off the bike for several weeks:

By the time we reached the top he was too tired to even deploy the kickstand:

We also did some 20-ish mile “road” rides together, since that’s the perfect length after all:

On other solo outings I saw fake elephants:

And real salamanders:

And my longest ride–not particularly long but long enough–was a sumptuous and satisfying road-n-garvel loop of about 50-ish miles:

Where stops included the cemetery:

And The Hub, a bike shop/bar/cafe with mountain bike trails out back and everything:

Though I passed those over in favor of the alcoholic beverages.

While I brought the Jones primarily for my son, I thought I too might avail myself of it for another deep woods excursion, but I never did. Instead, I did all my riding on the Homer, and as always it was nearly perfect–though I am considering drop bars for it:

The Choco bars are supremely comfortable while also offering numerous road-like handlebar positions, but for longer rides I increasingly suspect traditional drop bars may be the way to go. Furthermore, triple-ization of the crank via the addition of a big ring in place of the guard may also be warranted. With those two changes I suspect I’d sacrifice nothing in terms of comfort while simultaneously transforming the Homer into the ultimate Vacation Bike.

Also, a few words about tires:

I’ve had these things on there for almost two years now. Granted, as the curator of a sizable bike collection I don’t ride this one every day. However, I still think it’s impressive that they’re nowhere near needing replacement. Also, they performed excellently on all but the loosest garvel, which only reaffirms my belief that 90% of “garvel-specific tire technology” is aesthetic–namely, the ubiquitous tan sidewall. Reflective sidewalls on the other hand are very un-garvel-like and clash with the aesthetics of handlebar bags and earth-tone socks and all the rest of it, while serving only to have a practical purpose (namely an additional measure of safety), and of course there’s no place in garvel for practicality.

In all, it was a delightful period of reconnecting with nature in the safe and controlled manner we urbanites prefer:

Thank you for bearing with me during this prolonged absence.

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