Closer to fine

When I get out into the wild, I crave the silence and the solace of leaving the societal world behind. Something about the digital distractions of our everyday life clouds the mind with some permanent state of white noise. I try to escape, but its hard to break out of the grip of alternating current, its interesting to see what small piece retains the hold.

In this case, it was a song by the Indigo Girls. My mind would not quiet, even with the large expanse of air surrounding me, trying so hard to give space and relieve the pressure. “I’m trying to tell you something about my life, maybe give me insight between black and white”

I am out on a 6 day trip with 3 good friends, and one new one. I went to college with Adam and Justin, we have ridden thousands of miles together, and this time they brought along Matt, a new friend that I seemed to have known for a long time. The other good friend was El Mariachi, as I brought out one of the new prototypes with the Alternator dropout to do product testing. We were setting off on a 6-day trip to ride the Kokopelli trail, White Rim, and a smattering of other Moab area trails to connect it all together in bikepacking wanderlust.

“The best thing you’ve ever done for me, is to help me take my life less seriously, its only life after all” the words kept coming in my head. I couldn’t shake the remains of city life, but I suppose it was better than Britney Spears or Justin Bieber.

El Mariachi and I have been friends since 2007, and this third reincarnation brought back all the good memories of our times before. It was that old friend, the one you knew for years, you get together and don’t miss a beat, its an easy friendship, one you know will always be there. It was great to have my friend El Mariachi along in this capacity, as this was the same experience I was having with Matt, Justin and Adam. Sure, we went to school together, but now are spread out across the country, and really are only able to congregate a few weeks a year for good mountain biking trips. But as with any good friends, we can always pick up where we left off.

Leaving Fruita with 26 lbs of gear dry, 300oz of water, and 300 miles of trail ahead, we had the butterflies of the long trip ahead, but the excitement of what adventures these 6 days would bring us. We had done Kokopelli the year before, so the first day was very familiar. We did however find that an MSR ceramic water filter does not work as well in the muddy Colorado as it does in the crisp, clean streams of Minnesota. The first night was spent 62 miles in, with no water, and dry EasyMac for dinner.

“I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains, I look to the children, I drank from the fountain. There’s more than one answer to these questions, pointing me in a crooked line. The less I seek my source for some definitive, The closer I am to fine.” The ladies kept singing into my ear, even in the painful dehydrated night, and while I could not shake the noise in my head, the lyrics they were telling me were soothing, giving me reason to why I was willingly out in the desert suffering. Healing. Being out, not knowing what is next, adventure. It heals my wounds from a consumerist metropolis lifestyle.

A night void of water for the body can only be followed by dry oatmeal and cold, hard to swallow Pop-Tarts. Those first 25 miles were painful, but soon after another crossing of the Colorado, we found a nice flow out in the slickrock domes, devoid enough of silt to allow the little MSR to fill us up. As the heat of day picked up, it felt good to finally be rehydrating. Throughout the pain of dehydration, one piece of comfort was the El Mariachi was beneath me, acting faithfully as ever, working perfectly without complaint, showing that even some new clothes wont spoil its inner beauty.

“I stopped by the bar at 3am, to seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend, I woke up with a headache like my head against a board, twice as cloudy as Id been the night before, I went in seeking clarity” Clarity is what I was seeking. But reaching the next stream on the map that was supposed to be clear and a source for water found us with an opposing force of the desert heat only a few hours previous; snow. We were camping up above Onion Creek at around 7000 ft, and the steam was frozen. Prepared for the desert with our 45 degree down bags, we froze, dehydrated again when the temperature dipped to 23 degrees. Clarity is why I came out here. I swore a few times that night wondering what kind of idiot does this for fun?

Taking a break at our halfway stop in Moab, we went into one of the local gear shops to ask how they got water out of the Colorado. Alum. Take the muddy water, let it sit in a container, add alum and it helps precipitate out the sediment. Then filter. Local knowledge is precious. Mental note, ask first next time.

The next few days were spent out in Canyonlands National Park, the only one where you can ride a mountain bike off-pavement. With knowledge of water harvestation, gorgeous views, and a full belly of Denny’s Grand Slam, the next few days seemed to be more exciting than the last. Plus, the altitude is only about 5000 ft, so it wouldn’t be as cold.

“We go to the bible, we go through the workout, we read up on revival and we stand up for the lookout. There’s more than one answer to these questions, pointing me in a crooked line. The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine.” The 5th day was my 29th birthday. I was out, enjoying the most gorgeous country on my favorite 29er. Some of my yearning concerns and questions were beginning to fade into the red rocks. My mind was clearing. We reached camp, I went to the river to start some filtering, and found a naked man. He was bathing where I wanted to get drinking water. He sure was nice though, as he offered up 4 gallons of fresh distilled, jugged water and a 6 pack of ice cold Bud Light. What a birthday gift. Thank you naked man.

Closer to fine, the name of the song that remained in my head, over and over for 6 days. I felt it. As I rode my adventure with all of my good friends, human and steel, I felt every day that I was getting closer to being fine.

(Gear list to follow next week)

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking El Mariachi Tim Krueger

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Tim Krueger

Tim Krueger

I come from the land of trees, lakes and cheese. I like beef jerky, singletrack and pale ale. I believe derailleurs were invented for a very good reason. Long rides with good friends and campfires is really what its all about. Oh, and if its not anodized, its worthless.


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Ben | July 28th, 2010

Great story sir.  I hope to have my own out there adventure this fall.  I’m really looking forward to finding the quietness that comes without streetlights and cell phones.

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Jerry | July 28th, 2010

Beautiful story.  you have a way with words.

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Vito | July 28th, 2010

Fantastic narrative. Thanks for sharing. Now, could you share a bit about the build on that beautiful new El Mariachi. Love that bike!!!!

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Tim Ek | July 29th, 2010

Tim, I love this post.  You got me right where I live…Perfect… Thanks.

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Hollis | July 29th, 2010

Enjoyed your story Tim - so cool that you and El Mariachi got this chance to “multiply life by the power of two” with your best friends.

Incidentally, Amy Ray wrote Jonas & Ezekiel (Rites of Passage) while out mountain biking.

P.S. The Girls are out touring now in support of Staring Down the Brilliant Dream - couldn?t think of a better way for you to reflect on your bike adventure than an Indigo Girls concert in summer!

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MG | July 29th, 2010

Excellent post Tim.  That’s why, even in the midst of the new ti bikes, Salsa’s steel bikes will still remain as relevant as ever.  Strength, grace, beauty and a smooth, fun and yet predictable character that keeps you on the trail after 12 hours in the saddle.  You guys just keep raising the bar with that bike… It’s very cool to see, and ride.

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captain bob | July 29th, 2010

Good stuff Tim.  Really enjoyed reading it.  However, it makes me want to leave work, home and all my loved ones to go for a loooong bike ride.  Absense makes the heart grow fonder I will say to them as I pack the car…..

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Craig Smith | August 22nd, 2010

Great song, story, pictures… We were in the same areas about a month earlier. Did more hiking than biking :( but still fun.
You rock!

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Troy | August 30th, 2010

Great story, Tim, I’m jealous. I want to order a new El Mariachi but my shop (Zen Cog in Jacksonville, FL) can’t get their hands on one. Any information on frame (or complete build) availability? I’ve seen them available online but I’d like to buy from my local shop.

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Chris | December 13th, 2010

Was the gear list ever published for this ride?

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