**Personal note: Outage is almost over, God be praised. We have five more working days, and then we get back to our “normal” schedule. It can’t come soon enough, plus I have a three-day break next week, which will be amazing.
Ok, on with the blog. The FireFly. No, I’m not talking about the best science fiction television show ever created, ever,
although I might have to do a post on that sometime. What I’m talking about is the US Army’s firefly.
It’s a small emergency IR strobe that clicks in a 9v battery that could be seen with night vision. What’s that have to do with anything? Everything. I’ll tell you. I’ve always been somewhat of a gear junkie. The newest, latest, lightest gizmo, gadget, tent, sleeping bag, etc, and I wanted to know all I could. What I never really thought about much was actually using the damn thing. Ohh, I did a few quick overnight back/bikepacking trips, but nothing that really amounted to much. To be honest, I was more concerned about gear, base weights, packability, etc than I was using the stuff as a tool to aid in actually getting outside.
Back to the firefly. In our run-up to Afghanistan at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, we were issued these fireflies. More than any other piece of equipment that was issued, I thought about this one. My main thought behind this was that if I ever had to use it, feces had hit the rotating oscillator, and probably with some considerable force. Everything else we were issued would likely be used either in day to day operations, or in training, or whatever. The firefly didn’t require any training; just play and play, so to speak. All the different scenarios in which it would be used kept going through my head – using 5-6 of them to mark a MEDEVAC helicopter LZ (and who would be the jackass that didn’t have it with them), using it to mark targets for a gunship or attack aircraft a la Blackhawk Down, marking a disabled vehicle, using it in room clearing ops, or God forbid, some sort of POW incident. Nothing ever happened where I needed it, though, but the thought was always with me. How am I going to use this.
After I got back, that thought has always stuck with me anytime I get any new equipment. When I picked up my new bike from the shop after they built it up, I unloaded it and set it in the living room (my bikes live inside, judge me). I sat down and thought about all the different places I was going to use it. The Dirty Kanza, for sure. Colorado, California, and ultimately, the Tour Divide. I was planning on doing that clear back in December of 2011, I just didn’t tell the folks at High Gear, our local bike shop, about the whole Divide thing. This goes for almost everything. My Steri-pen, tent, bivy, etc. Everything I got, especially recently for the divide, I think about all the different scenarios I’m going to be using it. Will this thing fail on me in the middle of the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming 300 miles from anywhere? What’s it going to look like when I finish the race? I feel this sea-change in my thought process has actually really helped me to get out more. Instead of trying to get the best stuff, now I’m far more concerned with actually getting out there and using it.
My first big outdoors trip of the year, thanks to outage being extended a week and us getting screwed out of seven days off, is going to be in May (but I’m not bitter!!). I’m going to be time trialling the CSF&O route. This is going to be my big shakedown ride for the Tour Divide. All my equipment is going with me. Right now, I’m at the point where I have almost complete confidence in all my gear. That’s a great feeling, because that’s just a lot less to worry about, but I do want to put everything through it’s paces. I’m not sure if anyone will be riding with me, which kind of sucks, because I feel I would push myself harder to go faster if there were. I know the timing is bad, and it was short notice, but hopefully next year we can get some people up here to
race ride this friggin thing! Irregardless, I’m really excited to do it, but nervous, because I don’t want to break anything major, or seriously injure myself before the Divide race. Same goes for the Dirty Kanza. I’ve talked to a few people about it, and the odds of me finishing that thing this year are pretty low. If I feel a knee start to go, something on the bike about to go, or whatever, I’m done. It’s a great race for the area, and brings a LOT of REALLY strong riders together, but I’m not about to sacrifice a Divide attempt to complete the DK.
Speaking of the route, I had a GREAT response from the biking community! There were a LOT of people who reposted the link for the CSF&O, and generated a LOT of interest! Special thanks goes out to Eric the Adventure Monkey, Guitar Ted and his Gravel Grinder News, Kansas Cyclist, the bikepacking.net and MTBR forum folks, and anyone else I may have missed, thank you!! Again, hopefully next year we can get the word out sooner, and get some people up here for what I think is a REALLY amazing gravel route. But I’m biased. Seriously, thanks again!
Ok, I’m going to get ready for my last 62.5 hour work week (hey it’s better than the 75 hour one last week!), so…
I’ll see you down the road,