Balloons and other gasbags

October 1, 2016
I'd have snapped some balloons if we weren't squatting down here in this cul-de-sac, out of line-of-sight.

I’d have snapped some balloons if we weren’t squatting down here in this cul-de-sac, out of line-of-sight. Clouds will have to suffice.

It’s the first day of October, and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is under way.

Looks like a beautiful day for flying, if only to get above the weed pollen (snurk, gnunk, hoccccccck, ptui).

Elsewhere, the giant orange gasbag that has been hovering above our national politics continues to shower those below with a particularly acidic rain. I don’t think they have a toilet up there. I do think USADA should dope-test this silly tangerine turdblossom. I used to talk a lot of shit at 3 a.m, too, and I know exactly what I was on.

Seriously, I expect Agent Orange to kick off the next debate by telling The Hilldebeast, “Say, you don’t sweat much for a fat chick.”

Meanwhile, cycling defeated technology yesterday. I went for a short, delightful ‘cross-bike ride on the neighborhood trails, and while I wore my Shimano Sport Cam, thinking to amuse all y’all with a short POV video, Herself and I agreed that the result would not be toppling Danny MacAskill as the King of YouTube anytime soon. Just another face on the cutting-room floor.

Interbike 2016: Tech tock

September 29, 2016
Clockwise from left: The iPod Nano with its fitness app; the Shimano Sports Cam; my iPhone with the cam app open; Garmin's VIRB Ultra 30; and the Timex Metopolitan+ watch and fitness tracker.

Clockwise from left: The iPod Nano with its fitness app; the Shimano Sports Cam; my iPhone with the cam app open; Garmin’s VIRB Ultra 30; and the Timex Metopolitan+ watch and fitness tracker.

Things are slowly returning to what passes for normal around El Rancho Pendejo.

Groceries have been bought and the lawn mowed. The Adventure Cyclist boyos and I have discussed editorial strategery for 2017. And last night I prepared an actual dinner instead of slapping together some light smorgasbord of cheese, ham, crackers, fruit and salad.

My initial impression that Interbike had lost a step or two was confirmed yesterday as organizers guesstimated that visitor count fell 10 to 12 percent while exhibition space dropped 8 percent. The outfit hopes for a good turnout at its Fall CycloFest next month in North Carolina, but you know what they say about hoping in one hand and shitting in the other. One hand fills up faster.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Speaking of lost steps, I used an iPod Nano to track my walking during this year’s show, and I was surprised to have logged only about 20 miles. This is an approximation; I forgot to start the tracker for one longish march, from my room at the Luxor to the Boiler Room to meet some colleagues, then to the media preview at Mandalay Bay, then to the BRAIN dinner at Border Grill, and finally back to the room. If you insist on hard numbers, the way Adventure Cyclist does expense receipts, I can only document 17.5 miles.

I probably would have been better served by using the Timex Metropolitan+ I bought on a whim before heading to Vegas. A watch with delusions of grandeur, it sits on your wrist rather than in your pocket, and thus is harder to forget about. But it needed to be synchronized with my iPhone via an app, and the owner’s manual is about the size of my iPod Nano, and the online instructions seemed to have been translated from the original Feeb into Obfuscation, which is not one of my languages.

So, yeah. Didn’t get it figured out until yesterday, and I may not be completely there yet. Sucker has more hands than Avalokiteśvara, and the app is not nearly as intuitive as the Nano’s basic fitness tracker, which even a Trumpetista with a closed head injury could decode.

In point of fact it’s been something of a technology week here at the ol’ rancheroo. With more video on the horizon for Adventure Cyclist, I finally got around to installing the iPhone app to control my Shimano Action Cam (which lacks any sort of LCD monitor) and began monkeying around with Garmin’s new Virb Ultra 30 cam. You’ve seen footage from the former in my little road-trip video; look for video from the Virb in my review of the Trek 520, the next bike in the pipeline.

With all these tools in-house, and Bicycle Retailer slowing to monthly publication for the off-season, I hope to spend a little downtime honing my audiovisual chops. But you know what they say about hope.

Smart Alex

September 27, 2016
Alex gives the debate two thumbs down. Or he would, if he weren't strapped into his chair.

Alex gives the debate two thumbs down. Or he would, if he weren’t strapped into his chair.

Somewhere in the afterlife, Steve Jobs is thinking, “Damn, and I thought I had a reality-distortion field.”

Yes, we watched last night’s “debate,” and we won’t be watching any more of them, thanks all the same. Too much TV helped us get into this mess, and more of it will not help us get out.

This morning I took a quick glance around the Innertubes and if last night’s faceoff moved the electoral needle a silly millimeter one way or the other I was unable to find any evidence of it.

I’m starting to think that the only way to pry an acolyte or two away from Agent Orange is to catch him in bed on prime time snorting blow off an 18-year-old undocumented gay hooker on welfare who is both an ISIS mole and a fraudulently registered Democrat. Either that or he starts eating live puppies instead of taco bowls.

And I certainly don’t expect him to have a come-to-Jesus moment anytime soon, not even a pretend one, the way Alex did. One of us will take a long step off a very high place first, and it won’t be him.

Interbike 2016: Sucking it up

September 26, 2016
The Duke City vortex.

The Duke City vortex.

ALBUQUERQUE (MDM) — There must be something to all that vortex talk about Sedona. Something was definitely sucking there on Saturday. Mostly the drive in, down Oak Creek Canyon, on what should have been a beautiful fall afternoon.

I suppose if you have to be trapped in a traffic jam there are worse places for it. I had just left one of them, Las Vegas (“Gateway to Bankruptcy and Repossession”), and was glad of it, too.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Still, you expect all manner of inconvenience in Sin City. Sedona bills itself as “The Most Beautiful Place On Earth In So Many Ways,” but this linear parking lot was not one of them.

Right behind me were a couple little yos in a red Kia getting their smoke on, their rap music polluting the air nearly as badly as the conga line of cars. (Pro tip: A red Kia is not “gangsta.”)

Up front, a sign proclaimed “Speed Reduced Ahead.” Not possible, I thought, glancing at my speedometer, which was flirting with zero. This made driving through Taos on Memorial Weekend look like barreling down I-25 between Raton and Wagon Mound at 3 in the morning. At least nobody was hollering or honking.

I hadn’t been to Sedona in years, and I wouldn’t see much of the new-and-improved version this trip. After inching through town to my hotel, I slouched over to the inevitable Whole Paycheck, bought a mess of juice, salami, cheese and crackers, and slouched back. Thusly fortified, I reclined on a chaise lounge at poolside and set about enjoying the comparative peace and quiet of the bubbling hot tub after the clangor and din of the Luxor-Mandalay Bay Dante Alighieri Memorial Circles of Hell (Two Through Four Inclusive).

Rub-a-dub in the hot tub! Or right next to it, anyway (yes, I eventually got in).

Rub-a-dub in the hot tub! Or right next to it, anyway (yes, I eventually got in).

Just about then a couple wanders in and of course they are in a mood to chat, having just come from the annual Sedona Winefest. He was a copper miner from Globe-Miami, and she was a phys-ed teacher and coach … who just happened to have cycled with a trailer from Canada to Mexico and was a member of the Adventure Cycling Association.

(“Cue “It’s a Small World After All.” Everybody sing!)

Anyway, they told me that on any given weekend Sedona was pretty much as I had already seen it, and so bright and early the next morning I arose, loaded the Subaru and got the hell out of Dodge. Vortex. Whatever. I took the back door through the hamlet of Oak Creek, which allowed me to use fifth gear and my inside voice.

I made it back to Duke City and El Rancho Pendejo in time for a light dinner and a short walk with Herself and Mister Boo. Turkish and Mia bestirred themselves, albeit briefly. (“Oh, you were gone? We hadn’t noticed.”) We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and an early bedtime.

All this peace and quiet will be shattered by tonight’s debate and the subsequent spinning of same, of course. Some vortexes suck more than others.

 

Interbike 2016: We’ll always have Parris

September 23, 2016
Masi's Adventure Series bikes.

Masi’s Adventure Series bikes.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (MDM) — Ah, so this is what it’s like to have a job. Toting that barge and lifting that bale from sunrise to dark-thirty, lots of bad noise, and no time to play with the old blogaroo.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

There’s a new sheriff in town at Adventure CyclistNick Legan, once a top wrench on the racing circuit who went bad and signed on as tech editor for some Boulder-based cycling mag, and then for us — and frankly, the man is a slave driver, marching us around the Interbike floor like maggots at Parris Island (copy coordinator Dan Meyer, another addition, actually did five years in the Marines, but that’s another story).

As a result we have seen things — many, many of them — and more than a few are suited to the adventure-cycling crowd. Seems the industry has finally discovered what the Adventure Cycling Association folks have been all about for, oh, four decades now. Who knew?

Expect a review of the Moots Baxter (not from me, call the waaaaambulance). “Think mountain-bike capabilities in a mountain-cross build,” says the marketing copy, and it’s named for a dog. Plus it’s a Moots. This is all you need to know.

Also looking good are the Adventure Series bikes from Masi. We looked at but did not review the 2016 Giramondo, but it’s in the hopper for 2017. The Speciale Randonneur looks good, too.

Appearances can be deceiving: While there were times when the show floor seemed busy, overall I'd guess attendance is down, and I'm not the only professional pessimist out there.

Appearances can be deceiving: While there were times when the show floor seemed busy, overall I’d guess attendance is down, and I’m not the only professional pessimist out there.

For some reason the Bombtrack bikes didn’t grab me when I first saw them online, but they’re mighty sharp in MeatWorld, especially the Beyond.

Marin, which did such a fine job last year with the Four Corners Elite, is back for more this year with a wide range of adventure-capable machines, from that Four Corners to the insanely affordable Nicasio.

Also priced to move: Breezer’s Radar Pro. The colors are a bit loud for a subtle fashionista like me, but it’s hard to complain about the price.

The fine folks at Panaracer have plenty of adventurous tires (check out the Gravel King SK); Ortlieb has moved into bikepacking gear; and … and … and I’m sure there’s more to report, but right now I need some breakfast and then it’s off to the show for the final day of Interbike 2016.

• Thought of the Day: Is everyone who works at Rí Rá really Irish or are they putting us on? Seriously, it sounds like “The Commitments” in there. It’ll break me heart if it turns out they’re all from Jersey or Iowa and just takin’ the piss.

 

Interbike 2016: Pain in the. …

September 21, 2016
GoPro's crew and the sporting media, brandishing technology at each other. Sort of like the hominids waving bones around in "2001," only without all that Stanley Kubrick going on.

GoPro’s crew and the sporting media, brandishing technology at each other. Sort of like the hominids waving bones around in “2001,” only without all that Stanley Kubrick going on.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (MDM) — The stabbing pain in my right calf let me know that it was time to rise and shine, if by “rise and shine” you mean “vigorously rub a cramping leg muscle while employing language you didn’t learn from your momma.”

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

It was way too early for a massage that doesn’t have a happy ending. Happily, the Starbucks just around the corner from the East Tower elevators is a 24-hour deal, and after I limped down there for a flagon of the black I was at least able to swear in English and without repeating myself much.

(Yes, I know, Starbucks bad. Starbucks evil. Starbucks also everywhere. We go to Interbike with the coffee we have, not the coffee we wish we had.)

Last night I connected with some of the Adventure Cyclist and Bicycle Retailer mobs for a media preview of a few brands’ offerings and a bite of dinner at Border Grill.

REI announced that it was dropping its Novara label for house-brand bikes, which henceforth will be called “Co-op Cycles.” And GoPro was showing its brand-new HERO 5 camera and Karma drone. That booth was the hottest spot in the room (apologies for the crappy iPhone shot).

I thought briefly about wedging myself into the crush to get the details, and then I thought again. The show hasn’t even opened yet. One cramp at a time, please.

• Deep Thought of the Day: Why do people involved in the collection and distribution of information gather in noisy bistros where they can’t hear each other speak? No wonder everyone stares at their devices all the doo-dah day. “Siri, tell Ray to message me, I can’t hear a damn’ thing he’s saying. What? Can you hear me now? How about now? NOW?”

 

Interbike 2016: Hold the phone

September 20, 2016
Vegas, baby. What happens here stays here, until they tear it down and build some other here here.

Vegas, baby. What happens here stays here, until they tear it down and build some other here here.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (MDM) — Whenever I see an exterminator’s van in Las Vegas the temptation is to shout, “You’re targeting the wrong species!”

Maybe it’s because I don’t get out much, but still, damn.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

As I lurched in first gear over to the Mandalay Bay-Luxor casinoplex to set up the Mad Dog Media Interbike Hindquarters (the headquarters is someone else’s problem), I heard someone yell, “Pull up more, bitch!”

A fellow motorist one lane over had carelessly left a few feet of empty space between her vehicle and the one in front, and the gentleman behind appeared to be in something of a rush. Probably shouldn’t have been piloting a shitbox sedan on Tropicana come noontime, then, it being more of a parking lot than a thoroughfare. Bring your flying car next time, Ace.

Show credentials safely in hand after no wait at all, I dropped by Starbucks for a $5 cup of the black and was startled to see a well-dressed gent conversing at some volume with a person who was not there.

Silly me. I always forget that Very Important People use Bluetooth to chat up their invisible friends when they’re not busy hollering at other motorists.

Checking into the Luxor took a bit longer, that line being about like the one on Tropicana, only with less honking. Once upon a time people standing in queues used to speak to one another, mostly small talk like, “Standing in queues sucks, huh?” Now they all clutch the handles of their rolling suitcases like sword hilts and stare at their devices as though they were grails. Today’s champ: a guy herding three rolling suitcases while working a full-size laptop. Mad skillz, yo.

I cranked up the Fitness app on the old iPod for all of this wandering about and discovered that I’d walked 3.3 miles, burning 383 calories. Naturally I felt compelled to balance that ledger with a platter of fish and chips at Rí Rá, enjoyed while watching footy, a pastime which I understand not at all (Chelsea spanked Leicester City, 4-2).

Industry titans seen so far: Ray Keener, Chris Zigmont, Brian “Quadzilla” Sidwell and David Thom. Only Ray was too busy for a chat, and that’s because he’s Ray Fuckin’ Keener. OK, so he was on the phone. A proper phone, without the Bluetooth, so you could tell he was on the fuckin’ phone.

• Observation of the Day: When did every hotel chain in America start serving what they allege is “breakfast?” They only feed you this horrible crap because they know what you’re doing up there in their rooms, you nasty little people, and they hope you die.

Interbike 2016: An Ash Fork in the road

September 20, 2016

Interbike 2016: Arizona’s not here, man

September 18, 2016
Arizona cordially invites you to piss off.

Arizona cordially invites you to piss off.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (MDM) — Arizona wasn’t very welcoming when I arrived, as you can see. And I’m a reg’lar white guy and everything.

That Sheriff Joe gets meaner every day, seems like. Maybe if someone got a hammerlock on that racist assclown and brought the legal bills down to a manageable level the state wouldn’t have to sell Geico the naming rights to its roadside shitters.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

The drive from Duke City to Flag’ was uneventful. I caught a glimpse of a few garishly attired cyclists enjoying the Tour de Acoma before I left New Mexico behind, and once I rolled into range KNAU-FM began telling me every few minutes that if only I’d give them some money right now they wouldn’t have to annoy me later.

Sorry, fellas, but Herself and I already underwrite two NPR affiliates. Have you tried Geico?

Meanwhile, the grub at Beaver Street Brewery is still tasty, though the clientele seems even more grizzled than last year (unlike Your Humble Narrator, of course).

This may explain the background music, which could’ve been pulled straight from my iPod: “Cross-eyed Mary,” Jethro Tull; “Rock and Roll,” Led Zeppelin; and “Night Moves,” from Bob Seger, who inspired this morning’s headline. What my man Charles Pelkey derides as “old man’s music.”

I should’ve washed that geezer playlist down with a little Olympia and maybe some blotter acid. But as I no longer partake of the adult beverages, I sampled a Sioux City Prickly Pear instead, and I can recommend it as a tasty alternative to the usual popskull.

• Question of the Day: Are those signs with the glyph of a bicycle and the legend “USE SHOULDER ONLY” really necessary along Interstate 40? Any of you feel the urge to throw a leg over the old two-wheeler and go mano-a-mano with a speeding Peterbilt in the traffic lane? Maybe we could ax that particular educational initiative and spend the savings on public restrooms and/or radio.

 

Interbike 2016: Against the wind

September 18, 2016
Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Vato’s got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

That old Bob Seger tune isn’t on the playlist, but I’m on the road anyway. Just another Adventure Cyclist logging miles, and if it’s happening on four wheels, well, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Deadlines and commitments; what to leave in, what to leave out.

See you along the road.