Archive for the ‘Bicycle travel’ Category

A saga of two Sagas

January 14, 2016
The Soma Saga Disc.

The Soma Saga Disc.

It’s been Ride Your Own Damn Bike Week here at Mad Dog Media, and a refreshing change of pace it’s been, too.

Playing with other people’s toys is a privilege, and a hell of a lot of fun, but it’s always nice to lay hands on your own again. Consider it the bike reviewer’s version of a palate-cleanser between courses. It also gives you the chance to re-evaluate your own bikes, see whether you need to shed a few long-held biases.

Yesterday and the day before I rode the Soma Saga Disc, and I felt a little too upright, so I dropped the bars 10mm and instantly felt better.

The Soma Saga canti model.

The Soma Saga canti model.

I thought I might need to shorten the stem by an equivalent amount, too. Three consecutive review bikes have arrived sporting 80mm stems, and while those felt a tad stubby to me, a 90mm would be just about right, was my reasoning.

Then today I rode the cantilever Saga home after dropping the Subaru at an auto upholsterer and felt just fine using what I thought was an identical cockpit.

And so it was. Same amount of spacers under the stem, same extension, same 17-degree rise.

Turns out it wasn’t the cockpit. The canti’ Saga sports a straight Thomson post. The disc Saga’s Soma post has a wee bit of setback. Duh.

Meanwhile, I ain’t superstitious, but a black cat crossed my trail as I rode home. A little further along, some bozo in a big ol’ pick-’em-up truck blew through the red light at Manitoba and Tramway a full three seconds late, doing at least the posted speed limit of 50-per.

As it happens I’m one of those cyclists who doesn’t even clip in until he’s seen that everyone else has come to a full stop, so no harm, no foul.

Big ups to the fellow traveler who gave the asshole a long blast on the horn as he shot past, though.

 

 

Look at that turkey

November 25, 2015
Your Humble Narrator pretends to be a self-supported tourist on Tramway, about 20 minutes from EL Rancho Pendejo.

Your Humble Narrator pretends to be a self-supported tourist on Tramway, about 20 minutes from EL Rancho Pendejo.

It’s not what it looks like — Your Humble Narrator ripping up the roads en route to someplace sunny, his panniers full of camping gear, bike parts and journalistical accoutrements.

Nope, just shooting a bit of video to tease my review of the Opus Legato 1.0 in the latest edition of Adventure Cyclist magazine. I was out for about an hour, rolling up and down Tramway while taking selfies like all the other narcissists.

Still, it got me away from the Innertubez, where life was busily imitating art again. The Russia-Turkey dick-waving competition was reminding me of the early pages of “Alas, Babylon,” while the GOP pestilential contest was shaping up about like “It Can’t Happen Here.”

These are dire days for fans of apocalyptic fiction and prescient political satire, and my natural misanthropy was on full boil. That is, until a motorist pulled over to ask if I needed any help as I fiddled with my cameras, and a cyclist likewise paused to ask where I was bound, then told me about an actual tour he had wrapped earlier this year, a massive, months-long expedition that basically took him to all points of the compass and back again.

There’s hope after all. Let us be thankful.

Through a windshield, darkly

September 15, 2015
It's a long and lonely road when the wind is up in your grill like you owe it money.

It’s a long and lonely road when the wind is up in your grill like you owe it money.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (MDM) — It seems as though I always see at least one tourist while motoring to and from Interbike.

interbike-bugThis poor sod was fighting a wicked head wind that took my miles per gallon down from Subaru Forester to GMC Yukon range. He had just struggled out of the rest area east of Flagstaff, and I didn’t see him until it was almost too late to snap a “quick” pic (goddamn the iPhone and its secret-password bullshit anyway).

It probably didn’t help that I was listening to a collection of old “National Lampoon Radio Hour” classics and giggling like a stoner. Some of the bits hold up mighty well, like “Stand Up,” “Light Your Faith” and “Frank Rizzo and the Philadelphia Police League for Retarded Children.” Yeah, I know, not exactly politically correct but funnier than shit.

Dinner at the Beaver Street Brewery & Whistle Stop Cafe was decent, but not spectacular. The clientele seemed decidedly geezerish, so it would appear that my Hip-O-Meter© is on the fritz as usual. God only knows where the cool kidz chill in this burg, and I ain’t askin’ Him, ’cause I’m in a hurry to get to Interbike and look at some toys.

Meanwhile, keeping watch over Elly Mae’s critters has apparently ruined me for sleeping in. I was up long before sunrise and they don’t even break out the java in this dump until 6:30.

Next stop: Sin City.

The Big Yellow Ball has company in the sky today. A little rain would definitely lubricate the final push through the desert.

The Big Yellow Ball has company in the sky today. A little rain would definitely lubricate the final push through the desert.

A day in the life

June 12, 2015
Descending on Trail 365 near the Embudo Dam.

Descending on Trail 365 near the Embudo Dam.

Every now and then, when I get a check in the mail, as I did yesterday, I wonder what I did to earn it. This thing of mine is not exactly ditch-digging, after all. Mostly it seems quite a bit like play.

But I kept track of yesterday’s chores, for some reason, and so here’s a look at a day in the life of a freelance cycling rumormonger.

• Wrote an 850-word column for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, on the joys of being a one-car, 16-bicycle family.

• Drew and colored a cartoon about motors in the peloton, also for BRAIN.

• Did an hour or so of hills on the Elephant NFE, stopping periodically to shoot some GoPro footage for its video review, which will accompany its Adventure Cyclist print review, which is fighting for space in my skull with ongoing impressions of a Felt V100 and Opus Legato 1.0.

• Pulled the footage off the GoPro, dropped it into iMovie, and did a bit of planning/editing.

• Declined a couple days’ worth of copyediting, my least favorite chore.

• Reinstalled the porteur and low-rider racks on the Elephant, being extra careful to not clamp anything down on any cable housing anywhere.

• Did a little casual research on the Swift Industries and Revelate bags.

Like I said, not exactly ditch-digging. Still, I’ll take the money. And thanks.

Elephant on the trail

June 10, 2015
The Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer, on Trail 365A, slightly southeast and decidedly upward from El Rancho Pendejo.

The Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer, on Trail 365A, slightly southeast and decidedly upward from El Rancho Pendejo.

The Pacific Northwest has come to the Southwest in the guise of an Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer.

This steel bike by Glen Copus out of Spokane, Washington, is intended for dirt roads, commuting and bike-packing. It’s my first 650b model, so I’ve been having fun with that after a steady diet of 29ers and 700c loaded tourers.

The NFE came with a whole raft of PNW goodies on the side: a matching Haulin’ Colin porteur rack (Seattle); a Tubus Duo low-rider rack (Auburn, Washington); an Ozette Randonneuring Bag and Jr. Ranger panniers from Swift Industries (Seattle); a Pika seat bag from Revelate Designs (Anchorage, Alaska, and Springfield, Oregon); and Gevenalle GX shifters (Portland, Oregon).

I don’t get to spend a ton of time with the NFE, so it’s kind of forced its way to the head of the Adventure Cyclist review queue, as elephants will do. At the moment it’s just a bike, stripped of racks and bags, but it will soon become a beast of burden.

Just call me Hannibal. Lemme at them Alps.

The Elephant NFE up against the Wall of Science.

The Elephant NFE up against the Wall of Science.

Two wheels, zero brains

May 21, 2015
I picked a fine day to ride from the Sandias to the Rio and back again.

I picked a fine day to ride from the Sandias to the Rio and back again.

It’s been a couple weeks since Herself’s Subaru was towed away to its 永眠の地 (eimin no chi), or final resting place, and so far we seem to be getting by OK with only the one motor vehicle, El Rancho Pendejo being fairly well stocked with two-wheelers.

We had a bit of alternative-transportation fun around here yesterday, however. Or I did, anyway.

While we decide what, if anything, to do about the one-car situation, I decided it might be smart to have my Vespa LX50 shipped down from Bibleburg, a process that has more than a few hoops to hop through.

Since I didn’t ride it throughout the winter and early spring, it being there and me being here, the battery died. So I couldn’t drive it to Sportique for spring maintenance when last I was there instead of here. Thus, Sportique needs to fetch the thing, charge it up, and give it a wash and brushup before another fellow handles transport later this month or early next.

Toward that end, I planned to FedEx the keys to the garage and Vespa to a friend who lives in our old ‘hood. He’d open the garage, hand off the keys, and that would be that. Easy sleazy.

Uh huh.

So I hop on the Voodoo townie and pedal over to the FedEx shop yesterday only to find my wallet bereft of credit card. Seems some eejit wearing my face left the card at El Bruno’s after enjoying a plate of chicken enchiladas in a nuclear green chile the night before.

Well, fuck me running, I think. Check the wallet again. Twenty-eight smacks in Dead President Trading Cards. And these keys need to go overnight because my friend and his wife are leaving on vacation Saturday, the delivery guy is expecting to pick up my scoot directly, and Sportique needs some time to put it in proper working order.

“How close to overnight can I get this package to Colorado Springs for with $28 to spend?” I ask the FedEx person.

Phew. Made it with two bucks to spare.

Then all I had to do was cycle on down to El Bruno’s to collect the credit card. That only took about an hour and 45 minutes, with 800-plus feet of vertical gain for the homebound leg.

That’s one way to sweat out a combo plate.

• Editor’s note: This looks like an interesting rig. A buddy at The New York Times tipped me off to it.

Getting Felt up

May 19, 2015
The Felt V100 is one of three bikes awaiting review for Adventure Cyclist. At $849, it's a cheap grocery-getter, even more so than a Honda Fit Sport.

The Felt V100 is one of three bikes awaiting review for Adventure Cyclist. At $849, it’s a cheap grocery-getter, even more so than a Honda Fit Sport.

One nice thing about having all these bloody bicycles lying about the place — besides the obvious, which is that it’s nice to have a bunch of bloody bicycles lying about the place — is that when one is down to a single motor vehicle, one has options.

I used this Felt V100, an Old Man Mountain rack and a pair of Jandd Economy Panniers to fetch about $80 worth of groceries home from the Whole Paycheck yesterday. The ride home took 40 minutes, it being all uphill and into a headwind, so everything was nicely solar-cooked by the time I got back to El Rancho Pendejo. Bonus! Mmm, E. coli in botulism sauce.

And looks like I’d better get used to it. Herself and I popped round to the Honda dealer yesterday and she wouldn’t even test-drive anything. And why should she? She has my Subaru Forester, a low-mileage creampuff previously owned by a little old man who only drove it to the Whole Paycheck.

My colleague Matt Wiebe, the tech editor at Bicycle Retailer, says he knows where I can get a deal on a second-hand Harley. But I think I’ll have the Vespa shipped down from Bibleburg instead.

Meanwhile, thanks to one and all for the auto recommendations. You are all hereby penalized two minutes for your assistance.

• Editor’s note: This is my 1,500th post on this blog. ‘Ray for me. 

Voodoo child

May 14, 2015
The old Voodoo Wazoo will be my daily driver for the foreseeable future. Toward that end it got a couple upgrades, including slimed tubes, Jandd Grocery Panniers and Egg Beater pedals.

The old Voodoo Wazoo will be my daily driver for the foreseeable future. Toward that end it got a couple upgrades, including slimed tubes, Jandd Grocery Panniers and Egg Beater pedals.

Damn, what a week. Another Bicycle Retailer deadline, the Giro every morning, and an abrupt and unwelcome thinning of the vehicular herd in the garage.

No, we didn’t lose any bicycles. That would be unbearable. But we did say sayonara to Herself’s 2002 Subaru Outback, which has been donated to KUNM-FM after the wizards at Reincarnation said that just about everything between the bumpers was completely fucked.

What began as a timing-belt replacement quickly blossomed into your basic nightmare, in which one repair leads to another: head gasket, clutch, tranny, front rotors, struts front and rear, wheel bearings, tires all around aaaaaaahhhh Jesus make it stop!

When the discussion starts with, “How much does your wife love this car?” you know it’s going to end badly. So, yeah. Off it went. Some cars you’re only gonna get 205,000 miles out of. We was robbed.

Happily, as Master Yoda said, “There is another.” My ’05 Forester. Guess who’s driving that now?

Right you are.

And my vehicle? That’s pictured up top.

• Editor’s note: What are you mutts using for motor vehicles these days? Subarus and Toyotas have been pretty good to us over the years, but we’re always willing to entertain other possibilities. Please to keep in mind that we’re (a) cheap, and (2) have nothing to use as a trade-in.

The Gorge of Eternal Peril

April 26, 2015
"Ask me the questions, bridge-keeper. I am not afraid."

“Ask me the questions, bridge-keeper. I am not afraid.”

“What … is your quest?”

To ride Highway 68 between Velarde and Taos? Uh, not so much.

Every time I drive it, I think, “Damn, this would be a fun ride.” And then I remember how people who are not me drive that stretch of highway, and I reconsider.

I’ve ridden bits and pieces of it, but that was decades ago, when I was young and fearless instead of aged and querulous. Likewise I’ve done some of the High Road to Taos, but never the entire ride.

MD, Khal and I have been talking in comments about giving the High Road a go sometime in June. Anyone else interested? Give us your thoughts in comments. Also your name, favorite color, and the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow.

Return of Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

April 17, 2015
Out near El Malpais National Monument on a shoot for the Adventure Cycling Association.

Out near El Malpais National Monument on a shoot for the Adventure Cycling Association.

The New Mexico Touring Society, New Mexico Bicyclist Educators and the Adventure Cycling Association are throwing a hoedown on Sunday at Balloon Fiesta Park, right here in Duke City, to celebrate the new Bicycle Route 66 with presentations and speechifying, New Mexican grub and (of course) a bit of cycling.

In honor of the ACA’s visit to my little ciudad, I have been empowered to arrange a number of free six-month trial memberships to the beautiful and talented people who follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, or lurk around this blog waiting for me to pull my thumb out and get caustic, funny or both.

Members get discounts on maps, access to special organized tours, and Adventure Cyclist magazine, wherein one may discover glistening pearls of wisdom from cycling authorities who are not me. But I’m in there too.

Click the link and saddle up. See you on the road.


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