Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What the Rain Brings*… (and a Bonus Gear Review, for Those That Care)

So, yeah, it’s been raining a bit lately.  Our monsoon can certainly be disadvantageous when riding a motorcycle, but it does have its perks.  To wit:

Water in our rivers…

Salt River Canyon 008-Edit
Salt River Canyon


Salt River Canyon 011

…and… the King!

Boletus edulis-rubriceps
No, no, not that king, but Boletus edulis, aka King Bolete, known to you and me as a porcini (porcino in the singular, actually) mushroom.  Interestingly, since my return, the Southwest's red capped variety has been reclassified to Boletus rubriceps, or the Rocky Mountain King Bolete.  I’m no less pleased with my find.

Earlier this month, the Ducati, my Rough Rider Happy Pig Mushroom Hunter's Knife,** and I spent three days camping and riding roads I love (Salt River Canyon, AZ 191/Coronado Trail Scenic Byway, and Mount Graham’s Swift Trail Parkway), with a little stop to join a guided mushroom foray.  Not all my finds made the cargo cut (I’m going to have to do something about that!), but I did bring home a respectable little haul.

In addition to the prize shown above, the fruits of my labors included two types of porcini cousins, a big White King Bolete (Boletus barrowsii) and several Aspen Boletes (Leccinum insigne); oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), and that mycological two-for-one fungi, lobster mushrooms (Hypomyces lactifluorum).  When I think what they would have cost me at Whole Foods… well, maybe that Ducati is going to finally start paying for herself!***

Ducati with Russula xerampelina
Ducati with Shrimp Mushrooms (Russula xerampelina).  I wasn’t positive of my identification at the time I found this batch on an earlier solo foray.

Three days in a motorcycle top box doesn’t do much for mushrooms.

Spoils 004
These could use some food styling. Or at least some arranging.

What activity could be truer to the Eating on Two Wheels philosophy than tearing through canyons and across mountains, with an occasional stop to harvest wild mushrooms?

*Mushroomers will realize I’ve borrowed the idea of this title from David Arora’s excellent guidebook, “All That the Rain Promises, and More…”
**I am not making this up. Such a product actually exists, and turns out to be pretty useful.  You should see the box. It's hilarious.
Some notes on mushroom safety:
  • You can’t just go around taste testing mushrooms. Do your homework, including but not limited to: lots of reading, looking at a lot of specimens in the wild, and getting an expert to confirm your identifications, at least until you get awfully good at it.
  • Once you are comfortable identifying an edible species, perform a standard controlled edibility test to confirm that particular species agrees with you.
  • I’ve noticed it would be awfully easy to get lost in the woods while hunting mushrooms.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • If you happen to overtake the sheriff at well over the speed limit outside Eager, AZ, just give him friendly wave as you return back to your side of the road.  This way, he won’t pull you over.  (Oopsy!)
Dining Notes:
  • Elements Bistro Coffee Shop, Show Low, AZ: Wait, is it legal to serve burgers but not fries?  The burger was tasty, the salad a healthier option, I suppose, but, but... I wanted fries!  A splurge on the cinnamon roll for dessert may have reached the mythical point of too sweet, but was worth the calories.  I'd stop there again.

Gear Review with Preliminary Ranting:
About a year ago, I broke down and bought a textile “ADV” touring suit.  This was no small thing for me, because until then I’d only been willing to wear gear that was considered good enough for the track when riding on the street.  Call me crazy, but I’m pretty conservative about the sort of gear I trust with my personal safety.  But dirt and mud does not do much for leather, as it turns out, and at my equally conservative off-road speeds in the desert, one can argue that the danger of heat exhaustion quickly becomes just as clear and present as the danger of a “get-off.”  I really, really  wanted an Olympia X-Moto suit, and actually waited a season or two for one, but  - phooey on you, Olympia!!, - despite my hounding, they still won’t offer it for women. (I think the entire line is now discontinued.)  Until now, I’d only worn my new suit on Li’l Burro adventures, but I made an exception for this trip, and wore it on the Ducati. It’s simply easier to fit a hiking (or mushroom hunting, in this case) outfit on under this suit than my usual touring/track gear.

I’m going to take this opportunity to rant about a few "design features" of much of the all season gear available, first.  Hello?  Gear designers? Are you listening??
  • Why put the waterproofing layer on the inside of the jacket??  Honestly, do you have any idea how heavy and uncomfortable a soggy outer layer is?  Do you know how long it can take to dry?  (You can see how much I love an actual rain suit at the bottom of this post.)
  • Mesh on the outside, warmth on the inside.  Okay, I’ll admit I’m probably in the minority on this one, but I will never, ever buy gear with this configuration. No amount of quilting or wind resistance of the inner layer will make up for the fact that there’s an ice cold breeze screaming through that mesh when the temperatures drop.  If it’s mesh, it’s not all season gear. Period. (The X-Moto suit had a cool solution for this issue.)
  • Protection on the “impact zones.”  Who says I’m going to land on my elbow in a crash?  I’d like the entire suit to be made of the most protective fabric, not just part of it.  So there.  400D just doesn’t cut it.
  • Having a belt and calling the jacket “cut for women.”  Having to cinch up a belt and crumple a bunch of fabric around the waist isn’t exactly a good example of a streamlined hour glass design. Still, I like the belt option.  Both a belt and a tapered waist would be better.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I’ll admit that, overall, I do like my Firstgear suit. Here are the details.

Firstgear Kilimanjaro Jacket (size WXS):
  • Likes: Gear that fits me is hard to find, but this jacket fits perfectly! Score one for Firstgear!  It may not be pretty or fashionable, but I’ll opt for a nice full high-viz color scheme every time. This one sings with color!  I was pleasantly surprised with the effectiveness of the venting. August in Arizona?  No problem.  For me, anyway.  (To be fair, on this trip I was travelling at Ducati speed. I’ll have to update next time I use it off-road.  It’s been a while.)  The pricing is beyond reasonable. The outer layer is waterproofed as well as the inner liner.  So clever!  (Nothing will stop me from packing that afore mentioned rain suit, however.)  Pockets, pockets, pockets!  No shortage of pockets! (I don’t even come close to using all of them.)   Removable winter liner and armor are both included: I almost forgot to mention those, since I would not consider a jacket without both of these things. 
  • Gripes: The phone pocket is just a bit too small for an iPhone with a cover.  Which means you’ll be fighting to get your phone in and out of your pocket. It’s annoying enough that I may have a friend with needle and thread skills adjust it for me.  Lord help you if you have a giant Android.  If it has a left hand zipper pull, it’s not redesigned for women.  (I am zipper deficient. Motorcycle camping involves an awful lot of zippers, as it turns out.)  400/640D dernier is wimpy.  Bump it up, Firstgear.  The shoulder vents are a bit tricky to operate while actually riding. And if you’re wearing a backpack, forget it.
  • Overall: I’ll admit it, I like this high-on-the-bang/buck scale jacket.  But I will probably continue my habit of using it just for dual sporting.
First Gear TPG Escape Pant (Size 6. I have an older model, and I’m suspicious they don’t make them for women anymore, but here’s the info, anyway.) 
  • Likes: Again, these actually fit me! (Happy dance!)  Again, the two little vents offer surprising air flow.  What? An actual pocket for your keys?  (Race track pants do not provide this nifty feature.)  The snapping/velcro liner cuff at the ankle keeps water and drafts out, and is much appreciated!  Like the jacket, the necessary armor is included.  There is a zipper connection between the pants and jacket.  It’s not full circumference, but it’s something.  They, too, are reasonably priced, especially since I bought an older model.
  • Gripes: They are designed for women in that the hips have, you know, hips, and the waist has, you know, a waist. But I think Firstgear forgot  that, when you put on pants, the waist has to fit over the hips to get to the waist. I have a bit of a struggle with this part, especially with the winter liner, but once they’re on, I find them quite comfortable.  Unless you get pants with a full leg length zipper, they will never be easy to get on/off over boots: there is no hasty escaping from the “Escape Pant.”
  • Overall: Yep, I’m happy with my pants, but will likely reserve them for dual sport use, or occasional commuting when I need to wear something other than UnderArmour beneath.

1 comment:

Ken said...

I LOVE mushrooms. :)