When I started taking the bicycle seriously in the early seventies (bought my first 10-speed in 1970), it came in a box, just like buying a bicycle on-line today. There were no instructions for assembly or riding...just a unassembled bike in a five foot long cardboard box. I figured out how to put it together and make it safe.
No one told me to avoid the rough roads, broken roads or unpaved roads. I lifted my bicycle over gates, pushed it around barricades and washouts and explored double tracks that often turned out to be country driveways leading to angry ranch dogs. I didn't enjoy riding with impatient motorists on bustling EastBay motorways so, I explored the roads less traveled. I lived in Pleasant Hill when it actually featured...pleasant hill trails and tracks and far fewer developed neighborhoods.
I migrated south, where for a couple of years I explored longer backroads east of Fresno...and then, down to the less developed environs around Lake Isabella in Kern County. I was riding a C.Itoh...a Japan built ten speed with the fattest 27x 1.4 tires I'd ever seen on a ten speed bicycle. I'd graduated to alloy rims and a backrack. Overnight outings that included climbs to old passes and fire lookout towers became my fascination....all I needed was a sleeping bag, a bag of Gorp and two waterbottles.
I wrote about these outings in a rag called The Kern River Valley Review, which didn't last long but inspired me to continue writing a column, about my cycling adventures, when I moved 300 miles north to Butte County (Chico, Ca.) "Biking With Bodfish". I'd kidnapped the name from my village in Kern County. I continued to chronicle my forays, with hand drawn maps for more than a decade before moving to the north end of the Sierra Nevada and changing the column's heading to Quiet Mountain Sports.