Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

The path is the way

January 30, 2016
The bike paths in these parts are better than the roads in some of the towns I've lived in.

The bike paths in these parts are better than the roads in some of the towns I’ve lived in.

Yesterday I decreed it would be Ride Your Own Damn Bike Day, and so I dug out the Nobilette, which has been neglected lately, aired it up, and took it out for two and a half hours of delightful sunny goodness.

The sprinkler system is A-OK.

The sprinkler system is A-OK.

No biggie — easy pace, just 32.5 miles on rolling terrain — but still, it’s refreshing to ride one of my own damn bikes* for a change, and for more than 90 minutes at a stretch, too.

There was only a little bit of old snow and ice hiding in the shady bits, mostly toward the end of the ride on the Paseo de las Montañas trail.

I’m guessing that’s where I picked up whatever flattened the front tire, probably a goathead thorn, though the culprit could have been some errant glass from earlier in the ride. Swear to God, it looked like someone chucked an entire case of Heineken out the car window on Tramway between Manitoba and Spain. There was so much green glass scattered around I wondered whether Ted Cruz had been practicing his carpet-bombing techniques in the Duke City.

It's a beautiful morning.

It’s a beautiful morning.

Today the weatherpersons are predicting a high of 62 (!) so I decided to power up the sprinkler system for the first time in quite a spell. Nothing exploded. This is what we sprinkler-system owner-operators call “a good thing.” Because nothing makes so much sense as a nice green lawn in the Southwestern desert.

Indeed, the forecast proved so enticing that Herself declared herself ready for her first bike ride of 2016. And just in time, too. There’s rain and gloom predicted for Monday and Tuesday.

* Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, it’s still possible to ride a steel bike with cantilever brakes and come to a stop without Flintstoning or caroming off cars, trees and light stanchions. I know, it’s against the conventional wisdom, but you can rely upon me. I’m in the media.

 

 

Chile, hold the snow

January 22, 2016
You can still find some snow around here, but nobody is duking it out at the grocery over the last can of Spaghetti-Os.

You can still find some snow around here, but nobody is duking it out at the grocery over the last can of Spaghetti-Os.

I bitch a fair amount (OK, so I bitch a lot, maybe even a whole shitload), but I’m having a hard time complaining about my lot in life today.

For starters, I am not in Maryland, where Herself is going toe to toe with Snowmageddon, various blood relatives and in-laws, and a vile case of gastroenteritis that has already felled 50 percent of her party.

The Four Corners Elite isn't your grandpappy's steel touring bike, nosirree. Now get off my lawn.

The Four Corners Elite isn’t your grandpappy’s steel touring bike, nosirree. Now get off my lawn.

No, I am right here in the Duke City, where today it was a balmy fiddy-sumpin’ and strictly blue skies as I rode the Marin Four Corners Elite around and about for a blissful 90 minutes, inspecting a bit of bike path with which I was unfamiliar.

The sonofabitch takes more inexplicable twists and turns than a Caribou Barbie speech, but the Domingo Baca eventually gets you there, “there” being the North Diversion Channel Trail, a major north-south backbone of the local trail network.

Once safely on the main stem I took my usual route back to El Rancho Pendejo, heading over I-25 and along Osuna to the John Roberts Dam, where Walter White caught his getaway ride in the extractor’s red Toyota Previa, and then riding the dirt trails behind the dam to the Tramway bike path and home.

I arrived back at the ranch just in time to receive a generous compliment on one of my videos for Adventure Cyclist — just call me Quentin Ferrentino — and now I’m cooking up a green chile stew by way of refreshment and celebration.

Tomorrow looks even better. And I won’t even have to cook the stew when I get home.

 

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.

 

 

Abbey Road, or Downton Funk

January 13, 2016
You can have any color you like as long as it's red.

You can have any color you like as long as it’s red.

Herself and I settled down before the Eye last night with plates of salad and chicken quesadillas to enjoy the president’s final State of the Union address, only to find that the local PBS affiliate was airing “Masterpiece.”

Commies.

And worse, Limey commies, as the show was “Downton Abbey.”

So we switched to the White House website and caught most of Obama’s act, though the Mini spazzed out at the end, pre-empting him with The Spinning Beach Ball of Doom just as he cranked up the volume, and thus we missed the big denouement.

I enjoyed the departure from traditional practice, which has come to elevate ritual over substance. As the prez took the long view, it was particularly amusing to note the discomfiture of the clappers, who were mostly denied easy applause lines.

But I was surprised that he still seems surprised that the other team won’t play ball with him simply because he’s a Kenyan Mooslim National Socialist sissypants.

Still, I felt his pain. I’ve been preaching a gospel of equal parts socialism and substance abuse for years and not one of yis has opened a free-booze-and-bike-parts outlet.

Road work redux

January 8, 2016
The High Desert neighborhood makes a fine proving ground for touring machinery, with rolling terrain, light traffic and bike lanes.

The High Desert neighborhood makes a fine proving ground for touring machinery, with rolling terrain, light traffic and bike lanes.

Yesterday was one of those insanely busy days that should never afflict the underemployed. We’re not equipped for it.

The Marrakesh Express (c'mon, you knew it was coming sooner or later, right?).

The Marrakesh Express (c’mon, you knew it was coming sooner or later, right?).

With deadlines flitting around my scalp like Hunter S. Thompson’s Barstow bats I committed a few crimes against cycling, emailing back and forth with product managers, marketing wizards and editors; swapping bits of this and that from one bike to another; and bending fender stays around disc calipers, cutting all corners that looked even remotely cuttable, and beating on anything that wouldn’t cut with my favorite tool, the Bravo Foxtrot Hotel (look it up).

Then, before blasting off to the Whole Paycheck for supplies and liberating the Turk from the Nazi war dentist, I managed a brisk, 45-minute ride on the Salsa Marrakesh with full panniers.

It wasn’t actually snowing, which was nice —the temps were in the lower 40s, and I will even go so far as to say that this did not suck, not for January. You may quote me if you like.

This morning it was precipitating again, and Your Humble Narrator was all about writing bikes rather than riding them. Also, furthermore, moreover and too, there was the doctoring of the Turk, the roasting of the poblanos outdoors in a light snowfall, and the cooking of a medium-sized pot of lamb and white bean chili.

Speaking of cooking, now I seem to be slightly baked for some reason.

Carpet bomb

January 6, 2016
I'd have installed a headlight but I'm afraid of the dark.

I’d have installed a headlight but I’m afraid of the dark.

Since the weather outside is frightful, and likely to remain that way for some time, I’ve decided to launch a new touring magazine for the fainthearted: Dricycling.

It should work for agoraphobes, too. But I’m not going out looking for any.

 

 

Road work

January 4, 2016
I wanted to get a decent ride in today, as this is supposed to be the calm before the storm.

I wanted to get a decent ride in today, as this is supposed to be the calm before the storm.

Lord, it was a beautiful day to ride the bike.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. (Pay no attention to the leash on the field marshal.)

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. (Pay no attention to the leash on the field marshal.)

I was actually overdressed for a change — three long-sleeved jerseys, a light Pearl Izumi jacket with winter gloves, heavy Descente winter bib tights, wool socks, Sidis with Castelli booties, tuque under the helmet — and while I was glad for all that during my descent of Tramway, when I turned around and started climbing I began wishing that I’d clipped some panniers full of lighter-weight kit to the Salsa Marrakesh’s rear rack.

Instead, I stuffed the jacket into a jersey pocket and enjoyed the unexpected warmth.

The temps had risen to the low 40s by the time I returned to my heavily fortified compound, which I had left in the capable paws of Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment).

The Turk’ reports that the most immediate threat to the security of El Rancho Pendejo comes not from Y’all-Qaeda, but rather from the skies. The weather wizards are calling for light snow through Friday.

Maybe we should ask the Weather Underground to occupy the Weather Underground.

 

Tights stretch

January 2, 2016
¡Cuidado, señores y señoritas, hot plate!

¡Cuidado, señores y señoritas, hot plate!

“I’d like to ride more in 2016,” he said. Yes, and the residents of Hell would enjoy a cold beverage.

No cold beverages for me, thanks. We’re still mired in the 20s here, though “they” say we should see 40-something later today.

But you know how “they” lie.

With the temps pegged well below freezing I skipped my plans for a New Year’s Day ride and instead cooked up a mess of beans and rice to go with the leftovers from our tinga poblana orgy. Now I won’t have to cook for three days. Though I do have some leftover chorizo, and some tomatillos and an avocado, so with a couple of spuds I could crank out some tacos de papas con chorizo y salsa de aguacate. …

Um, no. I make another unholy mess in the kitchen and I’m guaranteed not to make it to Valentine’s Day, much less summer.

Turkocalypse now

December 31, 2015
Never get out of the bed.

Never get out of the bed.

“Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.”

Maybe. Especially if the bush is in a sunny window. It’s nearly noon, and all of three degrees above freezing, and the weather wizards say that’s about as good as it’s gonna get around here until sometime in 2016, when we could be looking at 45 and sunny.

The horror … the horror. …

Still, a man must ride. The world is full of bicycle reviews and deadlines, and never the twain shall meet if a man doesn’t ride.

And after the riding there shall be the cooking and the eating of the tinga poblana, a recipe I found when I was purging my collection in the process of searching for something I hadn’t prepared yet.

And after the eating there shall be … resolutions? Naw. I’d like to ride more in 2016, maybe (gasp) do some more self-supported touring, and toward that end I’m throttling back on the workload a bit, discarding the most irksome of my chores like unused recipes. That’s about it from this end.

How about you folks? Any big plans for the New Year? Sound off in comments.

Marrakesh Polar Express

December 26, 2015
I was using the other hand to punch the snotsicles out of my beard.

I was using the other hand to punch the snotsicles out of my beard.

Heated fenders. Has anyone invented heated fenders yet?

Heated fenders. Has anyone invented heated fenders yet?

The first ride on the Salsa Marrakesh is in the books. You may be amused to recall that Marrakesh is in the Kingdom of Morocco, where the average temperature would have the devil pitching a bitch and snow pops round about as often as democracy.

There is a “ski town” about 45 miles south of Marrakesh, in the Atlas Mountains. I’ve been saving all my money to take you there.* But its chairlift is a donkey and I hear the Mexican food sucks.

* Well, Graham Nash has, anyway.


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