eliot and i went up to our buddy's ranch this week and managed to a get a solid ride in. after riding around the ranch grounds a bit, we took off down the country roads. it was a really solid test of our specialized crosstrail's and i'm pleased to say they held up very well. the lock-off on the shocks is a must - with the lock off on asphalt it's smooth and quick (not quite a road bike but close enough), switch it off and it handles like a mountain bike on trails. really enjoying the ride.
it was also reassuring to finally get some mud on the bikes. we rode through water and in the rain, got to hear the chains rattle down the gravel road and even fishtailed a bit. all told, a good training weekend. the last few rides i haven't had RunKeeper going so we can't accurately total the mileage, but we'll start that up again soon.
So Drew sent me this video for what will certainly be the first of many viewings in preparation for India-Thon 2010 - Learn Hindi 101.
This awesome little guy (who's every 5th or 6th word sounds a little like Dr. Strangelove) is outlining the basics of the Hindi language, as well as the up and coming language for Western-Central India (Mumbai) , Marathi.
Needless to say, we'll be soaking it up from this kind gent, as well as trying our darndest to understand the elusive Indian Head Bobble, which can mean yes/no/maybe/I dunno/thank you/goodbye/I love you/let's get some burritos dude, all at the same time. Awesome!
you may be wondering what we mean by "drive-in totals." well, you see kids, back when i was in new york city in the summer of 2005, i lived with my best friends marshall and lily ... wait. no. let me start again:
back when me and eliot first met, one of the things that endeared us to each other was our mutual love for one Mr. Joe Bob Riggs (hallowed be his name, may he live for many years more). most folks got no clue who this guy is but he is probably the person most responsible for nurturing me through my formative teenage years (mom, dad and brother blair aside). turns out eliot felt the same way - we both had spent countless nights as youggins stayin' up way to late to watch this crazy country yokel sit in front of his trailer and show us the world's worst films. the guy is a genius.
in every episode of his movie-review show monster vision, Joe Bob would total up all the ridiculous things that happened over the course of the movie and give you the DRIVE IN TOTALS. how many dead bodies, boobies, monsters, car crashes, etc. etc. hence, the drive-ins for ghostrunners.
dudes and ladies - we have bikes. repeat: we have bikes.
so a HUGE step yesterday in our plans to take this re-don-dic-u-lous trip of ours: eliot and i travelled over to ride-a-way bikes here in beautiful san antonio, tx and purchase two (2) Specialized Crosstrail Sport bikes. the cost was 549.99+44.69[tax] for a total of 594.68 each.
the guys at ride-away are super helpful and i would recommend going there if you are planning an equally hair-brained trip into the heart of darkness. seriously, even if it's just for information, these guys know their stuff, are totally amiable and don't work on commission - no salespeople here, just enthusiastic bikes guys. hell, they even threw in free toe clips (not a huge deal for you maybe, but some of us operate on a budget). plus they fully indulged our idiotic ramblings, nonsensical questions and complete lack of common sense regarding bicycle repair and personal safety. i give them a 5/5. i'll stop here, but i would compare it favorably to the experience we had at the outfitters. except there wasn't beer. if there was beer, 6/5.
speaking of that outfitters, i neglected to mention them by name - Good Sports. If you're in south texas looking for gear, skip the big pro shops and go here. again, free beer.
more to the point: we went for a sweet ride through our most hilly of homes and came out feeling amazing (the jameson's at the end of the ride helped). we're using the runkeeper™ app on my iPhone to track our rides. last night was a short ride:
Ride #1 = 7.98 miles (12.84km), averaging 12.59mph (20.26km/h) over 38.01 minutes.
not bad considering how friggin' hilly things are around here. we'll keep pushing it, but last night was a good warm-up. it's going to be a totally different game w/ bags and gear. speaking of which, we'll add a drive-in total for current bike weight as soon as i can find a scale to weigh myself / the bike on. oh, and for the drive-in's below, $=total, $e= just eliot, $d= drew.
in the meantime, rock hard, ride free. make good choices. be well, do good things, stay in touch, etc. etc.
last night eliot and i hit up four bikes stores in something like an hour-and-a-half. everything was going fine, with all eyes still on the specialized crosstrail from the previous night. that is until this sweet GT Total Comfort rode into my life.
cool matte green-grey coating, righteously sized and an internal gear-hub. me and eliot rode it around the parking lot and both really loved it. like ... really loved it. the internal gear hub was so smooth and the bike was fun and well balanced. it was a real drag that they didn't have it in eliot's size. anyway, this led to a massive internal struggle as to which bike i should get.
ultimately i decided to go with the specialized. i mean, i really enjoyed the internal gear thingy and it would probably never break and i took the bike off this one sweet jump and uuughghghhhAAAAARRHRHHH!
yeah. have to go with the regular style gear hub. if it breaks, at least someone somewhere will know how to fix it. the extra gears it provides could come in handy but are probably unnecessary. one way or the other, we'll definitely let you know how the specialized works out. could be somewhere down the road, i'll wish i had the rock solid, lifetime garunteed of a fully sealed and lubricated 8-speed internal gear hub by shimano, one of the world's leading manufacturers of NO NO NO NO CAN'T SECOND GUESS MYSELF.
we found a tire on the front porch and decide to turn it into a work out regime. yes, we are really close. but we're also inside cause it's cold and dark outside. hopefully, night time in india is bright and warm.
above you'll see the specialized crosstrail 2010 which eliot and i fell in love with tonight. definitely the way to go, even though it is expensive ($550) (actually that's not so much). and anyway, the benefits it offers - sweeeeet shifters and nice derailer, not to mention double walled rims makes the price more than worth it. we're going to look around a bit since the (helpful) dude at ride-away bikes was unable to offer us anything less than list plus 10% off accessories. still, might be worth it.
we then traveled over to this mom-and-pop outfitters store where my buddy Adon works. he agreed to help us out with getting the right gear. he was busy so this other clerk helped and and she was amazingly helpful - totally knowledgeable, agreeable AND she gave us beer while we tried stuff on. aaaaaaaaamazing. eliot walked out with a north face rain jacket and some bikes shorts while i picked up a merino wool shirt, north face 100 wt. wool pull over and some sweet bike shorts.
seriously bike shorts are amazing - they kind of hold your junk this tight, but comforting way. it makes you feel sort of funny, but you like it. maybe you know the feeling. anyway, they look just like this:
eliot spent 161.11 and i spent 216.25, for a total of 377.36. because this is the first time we've spent money i'd like to introduce the drive-in totals for our trip. ocassionally we'll keep you updated with how things are progressing by mathifying things (cost, mileage, etc.) the first official drive in total is thus:
just got back from Sports Authority where this dude (james perhaps?) gave us a hand testing out some bikes in the parking lot. after some chit-chat and a hand shake we scored a sweet "friends & family" 35%-off coupon if we buy stuff on thanksgiving. with that in mind, and the fact that we can't decide if we should go mountain bike or touring bike, we decided to look around some more before purchasing. but possible-james' business acumen might have just scored him a customer tonight.
we both really liked the touring bikes but were afraid the slimmer tire profile and relatively thin rim-wall might be an issue on india roads. the actual conditions of said roads warrants more investigation.
in other news, with thanksgiving coming up, i have started thinking about the family and how they'll deal with me being abroad and out of touch for X-number of months. it will definitely be weird to see everyone again upon returning.
talked alot tonight about:
• crazy long indian names
• funny indian accents
• our deep desire to speak hindi
• inventing a set of panniers and bags that convert into a big framed backpack.
reminder to: breakdown equipment into things we need one of and things we need more than one of, then divide stuff up accordingly. for example - one multi-tool, one pump, lots of extra tubes, sets of clothing, food, cooking supplies, etc. etc.
btw, the bike i really liked was the diamondback edgewood. specifications can be found hereand it looks just like this:
eliot has landed in san antonio a little later than we anticipated, but he's here and we're rolling on.
last night we had a really good talk over some PBR about initial plans. things were pretty haphazard with both of us getting really excited, then butting heads, then laughing and getting excited again. i managed to take some notes:
1. We are definitely taking instruments, but we have to figure out which ones. also, we should take the digital recorder i have and lay down some sweet tracks - ghostrunners style.
2. How long do we want to stay in Dubai / the emirates?
2b. what's the cost to stay there?
2c. what things do we really want to do there?
2d. if worse came to worse, can we cut this leg of the trip completely?
3. Shipping bikes on planes seems to be the way to go. this is one of those things we can knock out now.
4. Camera(s): DSLR?
4b. found and tested the sony HD cam - little bitty guy that shoots 1080p. we'll be taking this and probably a point-and-shoot. it would be nice to have compatible HC SD cards for both and a netbook with a huge drive to DL them too. maybe external HDs?
4c. point and shoot options
5. WHEN IS THE RAINY SEASON IN INDIA AND HOW DO WE PREPARE?!
We then made two lists, one of "controlled" costs / expenses and one of research topics: