I’m not sure about camping these days. I used to camp in the desert a lot on dirt bike trips but more often than not it was in a tent or the back of my pickup next to my parent’s motorhome so, while I could say I was roughing it, I had all the necessities like meals cooked by mom 20 paces from my tent. Really the only thing lacking was good coffee—my folks didn’t like the strong stuff so while the coffeemaker was always full in the morning it seemed to contain a watered down mix of cheap supermarket brew.
Once I moved away without the luxury of what amounted to a house on wheels I stopped camping completely. Heck, I live in the country so every day is camping, sorta. But then something changed three years ago when I joined the Dirt Rag family. These guys love a good campout and are ready to go at the drop of a hat. As such I’ve been forced back into it.
The problem is they’re seasoned campers with all the necessities. Sure, I have the bare essentials and can rely on past experiences to make it and have fun but there is one thing that seems to bother the troops about my presence: a lack of coffee making. I’ve tried various forms, including a nice glass press pot which I broke immediately so ultimately, during events like our famous Dirt Fest I’ve simple made cowboy coffee. While not always pretty it gets the job done and I’m pretty good at making it at this point.
But that changed a few weeks ago when I found a new favorite product. As I was gathering up stuff for a camping trip to a race in the Arizona desert Brian Siebert, owner of Canyon Coffee asked me if I wanted to try his Press-Bot, an ingenious way to get amazing coffee, save carrying space and not have to worry about filters or glass containers by making any 32 oz large mouth Nalgene bottle into a press pot.
The press consists of a thread on lid with a hinged plunger shaft and a winged aluminum filter. You start by putting ground coffee in the bottom of the Nalgene bottle. Then, fold up the wings on the filter and insert it into the top of the bottle. Lightly pull up to lock open the wings and then tighten the lock ring. Heat 32 oz of water (I used a Jetboil) to almost a boil then angle the filter so you can pour it in easily. Shake it up a bit, let steep for about four minutes and then press like any other press pot. Bam! A lot of coffee for me to share or hoard.
I like it because it’s based on a Nalgene bottle, which I can’t break and once it’s cleaned it doubles as my campsite water bottle (and carry on bottle if I’m flying somewhere). Canyon Coffee sells just the press for $25 or you can get a “gift pack” with the press, a Canyon Nalgene bottle and an insulating cozy for $45.
This year camping at Dirt Fest I won’t have to be a coffee thief anymore.
Race season is here
Our “sponsored” SoCal racer Lance Nicholls kicked off the season with a singlespeed class win at the first round of the Kenda Cup West. Congratulations my friend and here’s the report.
“Last weekend’s first round of the Kenda Cup West series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group at Vail Lake in Temecula, California, was one to remember in not-so-sunny Southern California. With rain throughout Saturday evening and all day Sunday it made even the smallest obstacles challenging. This felt more like a ‘cross race than a cross-country mountain bike competition. The course was shortened to 7.2 mile per lap of mostly single track with the climbs being on access roads. The Cat 1/Pro field went off at 1:30 p.m. —I ride Cat 1 Singlespeed on an Ibis Cycles Tranny 29 with a Lauf fork and the Gates belt drive system.
My class went off six minutes after the pros, up a wide access road with some of the younger Cat 1 groups and after about 500 yards it funneled into a left hand turn into singletrack for the next mile or so. The next small climb we hit was a hike-a-bike and that set the theme for the day. I was the first singlespeed, running as much as I could to gap the others. With all the mud it was really taking a toll quickly on the chain driven bikes and they were dropping like flies everywhere. Not to say I didn’t have my issues either.
At about mile four I lost my belt due to extreme mud. After using what water I had to clean up the cog and belt to get it reinstalled I was down around nine minutes on the leader at the end of the first lap. Now knowing I was better off running the extreme muddy sections to preserve the belt, I only lost it once on the second lap but I was still five minutes back in fourth place overall.
Going into the third and final lap the rain was dumping and I was now able to ride through the lake-sized puddles to keep my belt somewhat clean but still running quite a bit. I caught third place about two miles into the lap. The way the course ran up and down the canyons I was able to spot second going down the canyon as I was going up. I continued to push harder on the descents through the parts that I could ride and with about a mile and a half to go my wife yelled, “One minute ahead!”
That gave me even more drive to hammer out the last section and I caught second place up the climb and kept my pace high through the next small valley.
Over a rise I found the first place rider and went by him as hard as I could, hoping he wouldn’t notice I was on an singlespeed. He did and it was on. I hit the last long hike-a-bike uphill, running as fast as I could get my tree stump legs to move. I glanced back and no one was there, riding the last bit praying nothing would happen and crossed the finish line with about a 35 second gap on second place.
This was by far the hardest test for me and the most rewarding at the same time. My wife played a big part by giving me split times every lap to keep me pushing.