Getting Started – The First Time Taking Out the New Gravel Bikes

May 2, 2020
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“Daddy! That was intense!” Yeah! But you have to climb the up hill to enjoy the down-the-hill reward.

First of all, here is the video index for those of you that are more of an in-and-out kinda viewer. If you want to know more about what you see in the video such as what bicycles we are ridding or the chicken pot pie recipe, keep reading.

Video Index

00:00 – Packed Up and Heading Out
00:17 – At Camp and Bicycle Introductions
00:34 – Cooking Pre-Ride Energy Food: HAMBURGERS!!
00:48 – Hitting the Trail
01:10 – Over the bridge and getting video of the creek
01:25 – “Encouragement” to keep climbing the hill to the top
02:06 – Top of the mountain and about to turn around for the ride down
02:15 – Downhill! YEAH!!
03:55 – A passing RV’er
04:13 – Back at Camp
04:44 – Dog in the camper’s screen window
05:15 – View of the camp site
05:23 – Close up of the flowing creek water
05:30 – Getting prepped to cook dinner: Open Fire Dutch Oven Chicken Pot Pie (recipe below)!!
05:50 – What does a potato see when it’s being washed in a mountain creek?
06:54 – Making biscuits for the “pie” part of the “pot”
07:43 – Taking a peek under the Dutch oven lid
Thanks for watching!!

My son had a birthday some four or five weeks back. He turned 13-years-old. Not far down the calendar I found my 40s end and I started my 5th decade of life. There sure ain’t no stopping time…or…is there?

For Travis’ birthday, I decided to get him a new bicycle. My budget was $500.00. Five hundred dollars ain’t no small amount; I’d chase after 5 bills flying across the interstate…in the city…at rush hour…on icy roads! Wanting to spend my money wisely AND get a bicycle he’d enjoy was the mission. I knew my budget wasn’t written in stone; I could do a little more if the components were right.

Use to be…way back when the Internet was new and shinny and dial-up with pay-by-the-minute plans by AOL and CompuServe ruled the land, there were chat rooms. I’ve just aged myself. But, believe it or not, I remember when even dial-up was real Buck Rogers stuff (there I go again). And some of those chat rooms in AOL were topic-specific. Now we have Facebook and groups. It’s where you can hear from real folks and learn what’s-what about this-and-that without the (un)biased opinion of a review blogger offering an opinion on something he/she is promoting (as long as there is an affiliate link involved).

It wasn’t 10 minutes into reading posts on that Facebook group and I was hearing terms such as “bikepacking,” “gravel bikes,” “adventure biking,” and learning about bike brands such as Jamis, Salsa and Surely! Jamis was founded in 1937…how is it I’d never heard of them before?? I was looking for bikes by Giant and Trek (great brands indeed) and thought the only bike type that would be most universal for a new teenaged boy would be a straight-bared mountain bike. 

A Gravel Bike!

When I see a bicycle with “those curved handlebars,” it’s gotta be a road bike. Well… that’s what I thought. Photos of those bikes with the drop bars on those gravel paths on those Facebook groups…that was new to me. So, I researched…and as I researched, my $500 budget went up pretty quickly to $1000. Then $1200 after a test ride at the local bike shop. Soon, I was at $1500. 

But then…which brand? What about frame material? Steel or Aluminum? And…I have a birthday coming up soon too…

13-Year-Olds Aren’t Sure.

We all know that young-uns ain’t gotta ’nuff experience to make wise decisions (and, truth be known, neither do we 50-year-old-ers). But we 50-something-ers know that there ain’t no perfect nothing and sometimes we just have to deal with it. I couldn’t decide: steel or aluminum. The brand was going to be determined by the metal I decided on. But I couldn’t decide…so… I figured…if I got one of each and let Travis decide, I could ride the other one and we’d both be happy. So, I did just that. I ordered a Jamis Renegade (steel) and a Salsa Journeyman (aluminum). 

“That’s a good-looking bike. Is that one yours?”

When we went in to pick up our bikes (a $500 dollar budget now up to $3,000 (for both bikes)), they handed us the black Salsa first. But when they handed him that 24.25 pounds of “Jamis Adventure ECO monocoque carbon composite” covered in that “Ano Deep Sea” color, he was sold! Then someone commented, “That’s a good-looking bike. Is that one yours?” Then someone else, “Nice bike!” Everyone in the shop oohed and aahed over that blue (the color it looks to me) bicycle. Trust me… there was no debate. He had chosen his bicycle.

My Salsa? My hope was that he’d pick that Jamis. His mamma wanted him to have a “pretty-colored” bicycle…but I was looking for a bit more than “pretty.” I was looking for awesome…that new Journeyman is doggone awesome…and that smooth black finish…well, it made “awesome” look “pretty” too. 

The story goes on a bit more and involves a few additions and even a few subtractions (tubes were subtracted pretty quickly). But, we’ll talk more about that later. 

Sulae’s Dutch Oven Chicken Pot Pie

I love this recipe. It’s easy to prep at home and have ready for cooking in camp. This recipe has two parts: 1) The chicken part with all the veggies and potatoes and 2) the biscuit part that goes on top.

History tells us that the pot pie was prepared with the crust under the “stuff” and not on top like I show in the video. A pot pie dish was originally a way to take a bunch of leftovers and turn them into a brand now meal. But, before the pot pie became popular in England in the 1500’s and later in America in the 1700’s, the Romans may have made the pot pie with living birds as a gag to play on dinner guest.

Much of the stress of putting a meal together while camping (not to mention the time in preparation) is reduced if you spend a moment or two getting everything just so-so before leaving home. I like to give step-by-steps when I am sharing a recipe. So, grab your 12” Dutch oven and get your ingredients prepped:

Gather Your Ingredients

1.       3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves. Though any chicken meat will work A-OK.

2.       2 Cans of Cream of Chicken Soup

3.       Bacon (depending on how fatty the bacon is…you’ll want to use this as your cooking oil BUT, you can just pack some oil if you wish. You’ll need about 3-5 tablespoons) You’ll use this oil / fat to sauté the chicken and onions.

4.       1-2 tablespoons of oil. You’ll use this to mix with the cut chicken.

5.       4-6 Cloves of Garlic (more if you’re like me)

6.       One Yellow or White Onion

7.       4 Potatoes (the equivalent of 3-5 medium russets)

8.       1 Bag of Frozen mixed vegetables (in the ice chest, it’ll thaw some on the way and that is just what you want)

9.       Worcestershire sauce to taste (I like about a tablespoon-ish (give or take))

10.   1-2 tsp. poultry seasoning

11.   1/2 cup evaporated milk

Prepare Your Ingredients

1.       Cut the chicken up into bite-sized parts. Then, take the cut pieces and double-Ziplock-baggie them.

2.       Mix the 1-2 tablespoons of oil (not the sauté oil), the poultry seasoning and the Worcestershire sauce in with the chicken. Seal the baggies and put aside.

3.       Cut up the bacon in 1 inch strips and put in a baggie

4.       I like to cut up my onion and garlic ahead of time and then double-Ziplock-baggie them as well.

5.       I just pack the potatoes; they are easy to cut up in camp, they pack well when whole and they don’t turn all brown and yucky when they are whole.

6.       Just bring a can of evaporated milk; the extra can be used for coffee creamer or given to the doggies (if you have dogs).

TIP: In the ice chest, we keep the separately bagged chicken, separately bagged onions, and separately bagged biscuit mixture in a container that we’ll use as our left-over container once we’ve finished out meal that night. But, if any raw chicken stuff leaks out of your baggies, be sure to washout your container before you put your leftovers in there.

Now, you have your chicken all cut up and seasoned, the bacon ready to fry up and render, the onion and garlic ready, the cans of cream of chicken soup and the evaporated milk is packed. Your frozen veggies should stay in the freezer until it’s time to go. Then put them in the ice chest and they will thaw by dinner time but will stay chilled (and provide chill in your ice chest like ice (a twofer!!)).

Prepare the Biscuits

You can just bring a can of biscuits. But…well…phooey on that. I’m bring homemade. I’ve heard of folks using crescent rolls. And, well…I say nope! Keep in mind that this biscuit recipe is the very same one I use for breakfasts too.

Ingredients:

Start with your dry stuff:

1.       2 c Flour

2.       1 tsp Baking Soda

3.       1 Tbl Baking Powder

4.       1 tsp Salt

5.       8 Tbl Butter (a stick) COLD. (Not dry but stay with me on this)

The Wet Stuff:

1.       1c+ Buttermilk

1) Mix them all together. Then cut in 8 Tbl Butter (a stick) into the dry mixture. You’ll end up with a dry, oatmeal consistency.

2) Put all the dry stuff that is now of an oatmeal consistency in the freezer before packing it up and taking it to camp in the ice chest

3) Pack a small container of buttermilk (or spoiled milk).

4) Pack a Tad bit of extra flour for “flowering” surfaces…about ½ – 1 cup should be enough

TIP: You’ve got stuff in the fridge and stuff in the freezer. Put a reminder post-it note on the ice chest so you don’t forget the veggies and the “dry stuff” in the freezer as you are packing the ice chest and heading out.

ALSO: Don’t forget the 12” Dutch oven, the charcoal chimney, the windshield, the thongs, the lid lifter and the lid stand (and a platform to cook on if you want).

Finally at Camp:

You’re finally at camp. You have all your stuff ready to go. Get the charcoal / fire ready and heat your  12″ Dutch oven using about 20+ briquettes on the bottom until it’s hot and ready for sautéing. Now, let’s cook!

Step 1) Pull out the veggies and let them start warming up to “room” temperature. Or, rather, “the great outdoor’s” temperature.

Step 2) Wash off and cut up your potatoes

Step 3) Place the bacon in the hot 12” Dutch oven and render the fat. Just leave that bacon in there when the fat is rendered.

Step 4) While the bacon is cooking, cut up your potatoes. I just leave the skins on. Be sure to cut them into bite-sized pieces. You don’t want them to still be cooking when the biscuits are golden brown.

Step 5) Sauté’ the onions and garlic until the onions are clear. Well, not as clear like you could read newsprint through them, but you get the point.

Step 6) Brown the chicken pieces up until they are no longer pink…and just before they are safe to eat

Step 7) Here’s the easy step: Mix in the veggies, evaporated milk, cans of soup and then salt to taste. Mix it all about and smooth out the top. It should not be too runny…not “set” like pudding either.

Step 8) While the mixture is coming to a low boil, get your biscuits ready.

Step 9) In a bowl, pour in your “dry stuff” and then pour in the buttermilk. Stir and mix until it’s sticky. Add some flour if needed to keep it from sticking to your hands or the surface. You want it sticky but not glued to you or the surface.

Step 10) Roll it out with your hands about 1+ inches thick (folding it over a few times but not too many times).

Step 11) Cut the biscuits out. I just use a knife and cut squares then “round them out” to avoid dirtying up the cup or cutter that makes for another item to clean (chances are you’ll be using that knife anyway).

Step 12) Place the cut biscuits over the low-boiling mixture in the 12” Dutch oven.

Step 13) “Turn the heat down on the bottom (some of your briquettes have burned down, so manage the equivalent of about 8-10 briquettes on the bottom)

Step 14) We need to “Bake” now, so turn the heat up on the top (the equivalent of about 14-16 briquettes to the lid).

Step 15) Enjoy the time you have with your favorite folks while the pot pie bakes for about a half hour or so (give or take).

Sneak a peek at about 15 minutes. You should still see the bubbling up and between the cooking biscuits but only at a low boil. Be sure not to linger in your peeking; don’t let too much heat out.

You’ll know dinner is done with the biscuits are all cooked and are golden brown. I use a brush to brush all the ashes off the top and pull the Dutch oven off the bottom heat. That Dutch will be wicked hot and those biscuits will continue to cook so take that into account as well.

The beauty of this is serving it hot is easy. It’s blazing hot out of the pot, but once you’ve got everyone served up, blessings are said and the eating begins, there will be less chance of burning your tender mouth pieces.

ENJOY!!

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