The picture you see above is of Commander Cody. His band is called Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen. Take a minute to listen to his famous song,” Lost in the Ozone Again” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heK8QjhWGag . Now I was a fan of the Commander when I first heard “Hot Rod Lincoln”. The Commander was not a one hit wonder because he also had a lot of other catchy tunes like the old classic,” Smoke, Smoke, Smoke, Them Cigarettes.” I also liked a lot of other burnout music from the New Riders, Southern Hillman Furay Band, Poco, The Flying Burrito Brothers and a host of other college favorites. The Commander played at my alma mater and it was a night to remember but that is another story.
Alright. Did you listen to the song? Good. Because now I am going to get to the point. For some reason, this song always rings in my head when I get lost on my mountain bike. I was talking to Barry Jefferies the other day at Dirty Harry’s http://www.DirtyHarrys.com. He was regaling the virtues of the new Garmin bicycle computers that can sync with the I-Phone, allow you to log into other rides that people have posted in many areas of the globe, allow you to map your own rides and download them on your PC, allow your significant other to see where you are on a ride, and lastly, allow you to find yourself and get back to where you started virtually eliminating the issue of getting lost on a mountain bike. I am definitely going to get one of these gizmos because I have gotten hopelessly lost before and it is an un-nerving thing save for the Commander and his tune that rings in my head. I sing it to myself as solace until I eventually find my way back by hook or by crook.
Take a couple of years ago when I was riding by myself in Rothrock State Forest up near State College,Pa. I had my pack, cell phone, the Purple Lizard Map of the area and was perfectly prepared until I zigged when I should have zagged and ended up 25 miles from Tussey Mountain Ski Area where I started. It was getting dark, I didn’t have my lights, and there was literally nobody in the Greenwood Forest Area where I ended up. I was an hour late and I was sure my wife Janet was panicking. I always told her that I can survive a night in the woods but I am sure that is of little comfort to her. The cell service was nill and at the last bleak of light, I found a couple who were camping and I begged them for a ride. They said to throw my bike into the back of their pickup and they generously drove me back 25 miles to the ski area. Had they not been there, I surely would have spent the night and my wife would have had an all out search and rescue. State College is a buzzing college town but on the other side of the ridge is as remote as you will find anywhere. I rewarded the couple with some bucks for gas and also with a fruit basket sent to their home out of really grateful appreciation. I got the obligatory ear beating from Janet and really, I deserved it. ” I am lost in the Ozone again, one sip of wine, two sips of gin, lost in the Ozone again.”
My friend Dixon and I were on an epic ride one day which started at Seven Springs Mountain Resort and the turnaround was in Ohiopyle,Pa. We started early and rode by map all the way to Ohiopyle and got some food and headed back. It was springtime and was a little cool and as the late afternoon enveloped us, we went the wrong way and ended up off track. Now Dixon is the guy who I posted about earlier who uses blue bubble gum as an energy food on the ride and his blue teeth sparkled in the late afternoon sun as we tried to find our way back on the unfamiliar single track. The Commander popped into my head again as I kept my eye on the setting sun and noted to Dixon that we need to head west towards the setting sun and we should eventually find a road. We kept the sun ahead of us and eventually ended up back in Indian Head,Pa and begged the proprietor of the Red and White Store to take us up the mountain to Dixon’s place because we were completely out of gas to take that climb. We were out all day and our map failed us. We jammed fig newtons into our mouths and guzzled Gatorade until we reached a sugar coma in the back of the lady’s pickup truck. At least we gave her some business.
Last year, I was up at Elicottville, NY and ventured off the Holiday Valley Ski Area trails into the Allegheny National Forest. I again had my cell phone, a 6 year old map, and was adequately fueled with bars and water. However as the day wore on and I experimented with some new routes, I became lost in the Ozone again as the sun began to set. Fortunately, there was some cell service and I caught the owner of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Bike and Ski Shop http://www.mudsweatgears.com on his way out the door. He asked me to give him some landmarks which I did and he gave me some verbal directions to get me out to a fire road which I was able to follow for a long while back to the ski area. “Lost in the Ozone again- one sip of wine, two sips of gin, I am lost in the Ozone again!!!!” That infernal song got me up that hill and back to the area where I got cleaned up and got a cold one and some good grub at the Ellicottville Brewery http://www.ellicottvillebrewing.com.
Each time I got lost on these selected adventures, I had to rely on the good graces of others. I was fairly prepared but sometimes when you zig instead of when you should zag, you can get lost. That is why the Garmin 850 is in my near future. http://www.garmin.com There are apps on the I-Phone which would allow me the same safety but I think the Garmin plus my I-Phone would be the ticket. Being old school, I will still take maps. I like to ride with people but often times I do ride by myself. However, my routes as of late allow me quick access back to civilization. Probably not a smart idea to ride off into distances by yourself. The Garmin will help but I also think that getting lost is not so adventurous anymore. The Commander and his song will have to fade in my subconscious until I hear it on Sirius Radio in the safety of my Jeep.
Lesson for the day- try to ride prepared with water, pack, tire irons, tubes, patch kit, etc. Also have the cell phone and a map of the area even if you have a fancy gizmo like the Garmin. Also- remember the Commander because his songs will give you some distraction as you make your way up a mountain or a lost fire road back to that cold brew and food awaiting you and the end of a great ride. Thanks for reading.