Near and Fargo…….Ti

While I have yet to discover a cure for Lyme Disease I have found a wonderful distraction. This distraction happens to come with 29r tires, a titanium frame and disc brakes. The new beast has arrived. The 2014 Salsa Fargo Titanium, drop-bar, adventure touring bike. I know what you are thinking. “Milnor, you live in Newport, get real man, there is no adventure in Newport outside of bombing the stairs at South Coast Plaza or Fashion Island.” You are nearly correct, but just as this bike is a distraction from the battle with Lyme it is also a permission slip to dream about the future.

Daniel_Milnor_Salsa_Fargo_Ti

The idea is a long tour. Originally, my idea was just across the United States, Washington to Maine on the Northern Tier Route, and I might do this, but I’ve also got ideas for a longer, more exacting route that I don’t want to divulge here, at least at the moment. It’s a secret and it involves doing my photography thing as I go. I got on my bike today and my wife asked,“You ready to go?” I said “Mentally, I’m already gone.” The reality is a tour like this is not in the cards for me at the moment simply because I love my job and I do not have the time required to even begin to think about something like this. But think I do. Almost every single day.

So, to satisfy my curiosity, when time and location allows, I will be taking short trips, three to five days if I can time vacation or holidays with being in the right location. So far I have made four short excursions on this new bike. All four were what I would describe as Newport excursions. Now for those of you who routinely ride across the Yukon or places like Mongolia, don’t go thinking Newport is a breeze. No. Sorry. Newport is as dangerous as any location on Earth.

Newport excursions include things like dodging financial dudes in 4×4 Rovers with front axle breathers who have never seen the dirt but have no issue driving like they are in the Paris Dakar. We also have soccer moms in black Escalades with 22-inch, black spinners who have the innate ability to navigate a car full of kids doing 60mph in a 30mph while simultaneously TEXTING and drinking a $13 cafe latte half cafe decaf with acai. And not to be outdone by other generic urban centers, EVERYONE on EVERY TRAIL, at ANY time of the day is on their phone, walking serpentine like a drunken felon on weekend furlough. I once saw a puddle of blood, one shoe and a broken cell phone on the trail. Like Ron Burgundy says, “You gotta keep your head on a swivel when you find yourself in the middle of a cockfight.” I couldn’t agree more. Newport might not the Divide Trail, but I’ll take a grizzly over a high school girl on Instagram ANY day of the week.

A few observations.
I had always heard about the ride quality of titanium. Oh, I forgot to mention. Anyone who still thinks this is going to be a photography post can sign off now. Titanium is like…like…well, like your Grandma’s 1982 Le Sabre. It’s smooth. Combine this with a carbon fork and a Thudbuster seat post and you have a ride that equals my full suspension mountain bike, at least over dirt track, fire road, etc. When it comes to single track or insanely rough places the full suspension bike is the king, but for everything else I was amazed at how smooth the Fargo is. Also, the bike is, by far, the most comfortable bike I’ve ever had. I’m riding a large, which I initially thought was too large, but it’s actually perfect. The drop bars combined with the sloping top tube, mountain bike style frame is the perfect merger of siblings who never knew they were related. They are, and they play nicely together. My first time with SRAM shifters which took about 1.75 minutes to adjust to. All frame bags are made by this Canadian character, otherwise known as Porcelain Rocket. I have since added a handlebar bag as well as bottle mounts on the front forks and down tube.

There is an upside of Lyme Disease. Lyme made me rethink a few things. The reality of a medical world mostly unconcerned with the disease. My overall health, and oh ya, EVERY SINGLE THING I DO ALL DAY LONG. Lyme has given me a perspective about life. Funny how disease does that. Makes you realize there is lip service about life and then there is the actual marrow. Whatever it is you feel you MUST do in life, must be done. One way or another.

This bike for me is a reminder. A reminder that when I wake to the sound of birdsong, something I do each and every morning here in California, I need to stop and enjoy those sounds. When I take that first sip of coffee, the real black fluid that powers our culture, I should stop and enjoy it. Appreciate it. Someday this bike will aim in an unknown direction and take me to places I never thought I would every be. Until then this bike serves as my reminder there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are corners in the road I can’t yet see beyond.

Get on your bike and ride.

Lyme-Aid

Don’t worry, I’m not going to barrage you with posts about Lyme Disease even though I’m in the middle of three different treatments. All I can tell you, and the only important part of this post is my warning to any of you who spend time in the outdoors. Check yourself, and if you are in the United States, get a second or third opinion AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE, if you have ANY belief you have this disease. And when I say “outdoors” I mean ANYWHERE you come in contact with trees, grass, etc. If you don’t believe me, Amy Tan, the author, wrote a piece about her experience which I think sums up the entire scenario better than I ever could.

IMG_0400

I’m not a conspiracy guy at all but let me tell you with absolute certainty there is something fishy going on with this disease, at least inside the United States. I was with a friend yesterday, someone from the UK, who said “At home people talk about it all the time, but over here it’s like a secret.” The powers that be in the United States have done a marvelous job of convincing people that Lyme is an “East Coast thing.” It isn’t. Not by a long, long stretch. The photo you see here is me in my element. There is NOTHING better to me than being in a spot like this. Moving water, nobody else around and fish to be had. This image was made, I think, the day after I was bitten by a tick. I don’t know for sure because I don’t ever remember having a tick bite, or a rash or a fever, joint pain or ANY traditional symptoms. What I did have was A LOT of friends with the disease asking about my symptoms then telling me “You HAVE to go to a specialist.” I have these folks to thank for my “early” diagnosis of four months. Most people spend between two and ten years being misdiagnosed. The “usual suspects” are multiple sclerosis, Lupus, Parkinson’s, neuropathy, chronic fatigue, exhaustion, etc.

I was in very good shape before this began. I ate well, worked out both my mind and body, but I will tell you this is far worse than anything I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some powerhouse illnesses. The mainstream medical world is ill equipped to even test for this disease. The insurance companies want nothing to do with it, and there is a reluctance to even talk about it with many of the medical folks I encountered. You have to be extremely proactive and be prepared to shell out some serious money for the time and meds required to begin the battle. It’s one of those “life before” and “life after” situations.

There are MANY sites out there dedicated to this situation, good sites, but until you are inside they are like whispers you hear but don’t really understand. Again, my only advice here is awareness.