Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Out comes the bird

December 29, 2015
Looks like a god damn Tim Burton movie out there this morning.

Looks like a god damn Tim Burton movie out there this morning.

The secret word for today — and for the rest of the week, it seems — is “cold.”

The weather wizards say temps in the Land of Enchantment should be 15 to 20 degrees below normal for a while, which means those of us who review bicycles for our bacon and beans will need to bundle up, if only to protect our bones against the inevitable spills.

And no, I’m not talking about spilled beverages.

Also, moreover, furthermore, and too, it’s snowing again.

And now, the good news: Al Qaeda is making a comeback. I’m starting to wonder whether Stan Lee is scripting geopolitics for Disney. We’ll know for sure if Hydra suddenly pops up on Exile Island, led by the Red Skull.

 

 

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.

O, wholly night

December 26, 2015
My rigid Jones 29er plays a lovely moonlight sonata.

My rigid Jones 29er plays a lovely moonlight sonata.

A neighbor couple had invited us to join them for a full-moon Christmas ride on the Sandia foothills trails (.pdf), and while the field was halved by start time last night — his wife was recovering from a cold, and mine thought her headlight gravely underpowered — Phil and I soldiered on.

Alas, the moon likewise declined to participate, and my lighting system also proved less than illuminating (an elderly, AAA-powered trinity of Cateye Opticube HL-EL450, Princeton Tec EOS, and Princeton Tec Remix). Happily, Phil was content to lead the way with his new Cygolite, so we got around and about without issue.

My "lighting system." Not pictured: The Princeton Tec Remix I wore as a headlamp.

My “lighting system.” Not pictured: The Princeton Tec Remix I wore as a headlamp.

I was reminded how much fun it is to do something different, and how good this can be for the bike industry, because you discover how woefully clapped out your equipment is.

There was the lighting issue, for starters. Also, my old Pearl Izumi winter gloves seem to have gone walkabout in the move, I have no clear lenses for my prescription Rudy Project Rb-3 cycling glasses, and my decrepit Kucharik toe covers no longer cover all 10 toes.

And which bike to ride? I ride these trails on a cyclo-cross bike in the daylight, but that seemed unwise in the dark, with old snow and ice likely to be lurking in any north-facing bits. The old DBR Axis TT mountain bike seemed an ideal choice, until I found a big hop in the rear tire that no amount of inflation, deflation, removal, replacement, and yanking this way and that could resolve.

The Co-Motion Divide Rohloff? That would have been fun, but I didn’t fancy fixing a rear-wheel flat in the freezing dark (the Rohloff hub and Gates belt drive complicate that chore a bit, and I was out of practice).

Thus, the Jones. It’s the perfect bike for this sort of outing. Big-ass Maxxis Ardent 29×2.4 tires, a Shimano XT drivetrain with a low end of 19.3 gear inches for creeping through icy rockpiles in the inky blackness, and Avid BB7 discs with 200/180mm rotors for knocking down the MPH as necessary. Plus you could hang 12 headlights on that H-bar, if you had ’em, which I did not.

Speaking of which, I’m taking recommendations for a reasonably priced headlight. Sound off in comments if you feel so inclined. And a happy Boxing Day to one and all.

 

Wrapping up times two

December 23, 2015
Today's weather was Traitorous.

Today’s weather was Traitorous.

I’m wrapping up my review of the Traitor Wander, and had to wrap myself up to do it.

By the time I waddled out the door wearing winter bib tights, two jerseys, and a jacket in addition to the usual, we had already seen a light rain, a soupçon of snow, and finally a brief splash of sunshine (that was what sent me out the door).

When I stopped to snap the pic a bit of popcorn snow was flitting about like the media at a Trump rally, awaiting the outrage du jour. Must be December or something. Next thing you know, Christmas. Sheesh.

Next up for a test ride is the Salsa Marrakesh, which shares a nine-speed drivetrain and a Brooks saddle with the Traitor, but pulls the bulk of its components from a slightly higher shelf.

Most welcome right off the bat is a proper bailout gear for a loaded tourer: 26×34 (around 21 gear inches). Baldheaded old farts everywhere rejoice.

 

 

 

There goes the sun

December 22, 2015
Sunrise ... sunset. ...

Sunrise … sunset. …

It may have come too soon, but yesterday’s sunset was definitely worth a squint. We were walking The Boo through the neighborhood, I had a camera with me, and that was that.

The sun set on Lindsey Graham’s pestilential campaign yesterday, too, boo hoo, boo hoo. Now the silly little hooter has to spend his time like the rest of us, shouting at the TV instead of from it. He bailed out just in time to have his name pulled from the ballot in Petticoat Junction and thus avoid a public flogging in his own back yard.

Oh, yeah. Lindsey also has his day job, which last I looked paid around $174,000 per annum. His estimated net worth after 20 years on Uncle Sammy’s payroll is a piddling $1.02 million. No wonder he’s so bitchy all the time.

Here comes the sun

December 21, 2015
Woo hoo, break out the sunscreen!

Woo hoo, break out the sunscreen!

Happy winter solstice to thee and thine. Once again I will not be attending the annual illumination of the inner chamber at Newgrange — the 5,000-year-old monument is not among the locations served by Air Subaru — but I will be there in spirit.

The weather wizards say we can expect a high in the upper 40s today here in the Duke City, but it won’t be long now before this space is devoted to bitching about the intolerable heat. To everything there is a season.

This blows

January 22, 2015

Ah, jaysis, the banshees were howlin’ last night at Rancho Pendejo.

The winds commenced just past bedtime and have yet to abate. ‘Twas like trying to sleep in a 1972 Ford Econoline van with four bald retreads, a vacuum leak and a couple cardboard windows bouncing down a dirt road with a payload of galvanized duct, empty Coors cans and snare drums.

The cats were yowling like devils and the fireplace screen was flapping like Lindsey Graham’s gob and the wind chimes sounded like each and every one of the sonsabitches was being played by an itty bitty Quasimodo who’d gotten into the blue meth.

The Boo, naturally, slept right through it all. He’s asleep right now, the one-eyed little slacker, in his donut next to my iMac.

I may just curl up next to him. Right after I drive a letter opener into both eardrums and shoot a little smack.

How ’bout them Mazamas?

January 21, 2015
There's snow in them thar hills.

There’s snow in them thar hills.

See that? No, not the nifty red Novara Mazama — the non-blue sky.

Yup. It started snowing on me during today’s ride. Snowing! And in late January, too. Who knew?

Naturally, I kept riding. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, and deadlines are deadlines. That Mazama review for Adventure Cyclist ain’t gonna write itself.

But when I got home I didn’t sit down at the iMac. Nossir. I got right in the kitchen and whipped up a steaming pot of posole.

Did I mention it’s snowing?

In unrelated news, we watched the State of the Union last night, as is our habit. The prez — when he wasn’t giving off a strong subtextual whiff of “Fuck all y’all!” — reminded me of the future Sen. John “Bluto” Blutarsky trying to rouse the Deltas with stirring oratory.

But the prez wasn’t speaking to Delta House. He was addressing Omega Theta Pi.

 

Your snow of snows

February 13, 2014
The Kona Sutra at Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta Park, which sits right on the North Diversion Channel trail.

The Kona Sutra at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park, which sits right on the North Diversion Channel trail.

After a few too many days of my own personal Winter Olympics (ride, try not to fall on the ice; walk, try not to fall on the ice; stay indoors, try not to fall on the ice)  I had the Subaru serviced, packed it with cycling and journalism gear, and got the hell out of a house that was starting to feel a tad too small for optimal mental health.

It was strictly a professional decision, of course. I’m reviewing another bike, the Kona Sutra, and it’s hard to evaluate a road bike if you can’t see the road for all the lumpy ice piled on the sonofabitch.

I considered Arizona, but time is short, and so is money. So I roared down to Albuquerque, set up shop in a Hilton property using Herself’s accrued points, and got to riding sans neoprene.

I shouldn’t be crowing about the lack of snow in a state so short of water, but it feels downright heavenly to ride the Paseo del Bosque Trail in shorts and short sleeves. Plus I had a small combo plate at Mary & Tito’s Cafe last night, and you just can’t find that kind of grub in Bibleburg, not even if I’m in the kitchen.

Sid Caesar got out of town, too. But he’s never coming back, more’s the pity.

For whom the bell tolls

February 7, 2014
It was warmer today — but not that much warmer.

It was warmer today — but not that much warmer.

Finally, the temperature crept above zero, and then above freezing, and after I shipped my “Shop Talk” cartoon for the March 1 edition of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News I was able to sneak out for my first ride in the better part of quite some time that didn’t require pulling on enough neoprene to make wetsuits for every frogman in the Chinese navy.

First I took the Bootleg Hobo out and about with a GoPro on board, so I could get some winter footage for its video review, which Adventure Cyclist wants early next month.

Then I pulled the old mountain bike out of the garage again and rode over to Bear Creek Regional Park, where the Mad Dogs used to promote cyclo-cross races back when we were men instead of whatever it is that we are now.

There was still plenty of snow and ice on the ground, plus some slush to keep it company, and the trails were thick with feckin’ eejits who were either unable or unwilling to hear the crunch of fat tires on old snow, a bell rung thrice, and a cheery voice warning, “On your left!”

I startled the mortal shit out of at least two of ’em when I passed. They jumped smack out of their shivering skins and left ’em splayed on the ground like sex dolls awaiting inflation, their internal workings exposed to the elements. Stupidity should be painful.

Speaking of which, our local fish-wrapper, which is dead set on helping politicians, developers and other shameless hoors further enrich themselves at the taxpayers’ expense by elevating The Olympic Movement to cult status hereabouts, couldn’t even be bothered to localize an Associated Press story about a new national mountain-bike series that will finish right here in Bibleburg, home to (wait for it) The U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Cycling, in the U-nited States of America.

Nope, they’re too busy pimping the Winter Games, which is all the way around the damn’ world in Red Roosha, is what.

Shit, the lazy sonsabitches didn’t even fix the typos. Looks like we lost the Cold War after all.


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