Archive for June, 2011

Keep your fingers crossed

June 27, 2011

Longtime friends of the DogS(h)ite Khal Spencer and his wife, Meena, are among the residents of Los Alamos forced from their homes by the Las Conchas Fire.

They had stayed put Sunday despite a voluntary evacuation order, but this morning Khal told me via e-mail that ash was raining down on their house. A few hours later he sent a brief note: “Outa here: Mandatory evacuation. Talk to you soon. I hope.” He’s been blogging about the fire at Los Alamos Bikes, but I expect updates will be few and far between as they get themselves and their critters to safety.

So, like the headline says, keep your fingers crossed — not just for Khal and Meena, but for all the other folks dodging fiery bullets down there in New Mexico. And I’ll keep you posted.

New toys

June 25, 2011
Soma Saga

The Soma Saga, which at present is unencumbered with fenders, racks and bags.

New technology has come to the DogHaus. The fine folks at Soma Fabrications/Merry Sales Co. have sent me a Soma Saga touring frameset to review for Adventure Cyclist, and Herself has handed me down the iPad 2 I bought her for our anniversary just last month. Her boss is a convert and ordered up iPads for the staff. My bosses order up periodic floggings and forget to file my invoices with the bean-counters. So it goes.

The Saga sports a mix of old stuff from the garage, new stuff that Soma/Merry Sales sent along with the frameset, and some fresh bits to fill in the gaps from Old Town Bike Shop, which assembles the bikes I review for Adventure Cyclist because the Irish cannot be trusted with tools.

Thus it has a beefy 36-spoke touring wheelset from Rivendell (LX hubs, Velocity Synergy rims, Vittoria Randonneur Cross tires, all stripped from my Soma Double Cross); Alpina 2 cranks (48/33/24); a Deore rear derailleur and Ultegra front, controlled by Dia-Compe/Rivendell friction bar-cons, connected with a Dura-Ace chain and driven with Shimano A520 SPD touring pedals; IRD Cafam cantis and Soma aero levers (plus Cane Creek Crosstop levers); Nitto B135 Grand Randonneur bars wrapped in Soma Thick ‘n’ Zesty tape, Origin8 stem and IRD Techno-glide headset; and finally a Ritchey WCS seat post topped with a Selle Italia Flite saddle.

Damn, this is some good Kool-Aid. Y'all want some? OK, first you got to show me a black turtleneck.

Damn, this is some good Kool-Aid. Y'all want some? OK, first you got to show me a black turtleneck.

I have about 65 miles on it so far, and I could tell you about it, but then the editor of Adventure Cyclist would have to kill us all. I will note in passing, however, that it’s interesting to go back to friction bar-cons after all these years.

And the iPad? No friction bar-cons here, my friends. Strictly disco. It does things you haven’t dreamed of, and without my prompting, too. I’ve loaded apps for word processing and photo editing and may take it and the Saga out for an extended test drive, see if I can generate a little paying copy before the Tour gets me by the plums with a downhill pull.

So if the website looks like it was composed in Cretan Linear B sometime in the near future, well, you’ll know whom to blame: Steve Fuckin’ Jobs. He’s The Man. I just work here.

High and dry

June 21, 2011

When my family moved from Texas to Colorado Springs in August 1967 we saw a thick white blanket of snow on Pikes Peak as we drove into town.

“Holy shit,” I thought. “It snows here in August.”

The first day of summer 2011

The big fella wears his white hat on the first day of summer.

We knew something about snow, having lived three years in Ottawa, Canada. But Randolph AFB, Texas, was “a whole other country,” as the slogan has it. It snowed just twice in our five years there — about a zillionth of an inch each time — and the whole place went batshit. Schools closed, non-essential personnel stayed home, and we scratched our heads, wondering what all the fuss was about.

That glimpse of Pikes Peak was a reminder that in some places, it actually does snow enough to cause a fuss. By arriving in summertime we had been spared a massive winter dumper that had set folks in our new suburban neighborhood to heating with ornamental fireplaces and cooking over camp stoves in the absence of utility service.

I’ve seen plenty of the white stuff since, including a four-footer that had us snowshoeing up and down our road in Westcliffe and a couple lesser storms that let us ski the roads and parks here in Bibleburg.

But it’s been a while, and lately even rain is scarce. So I’m always happy to look up and see a little snow on the big hill. We may catch fire down here, but at least we’ll have water to drink, and something to scare Texans with on the first day of summer.

A soggy so-long to spring

June 20, 2011

Pizza, love and understanding

June 19, 2011

It’s been heavy lifting over at this weekend. You know you’re in for it when the memo describing the tasks to be performed bears the subject line, “Glad I’m not you. …”

Cactus flowers

I slipped out for a quick ride and saw that the recent light rain had lit up the Palmer Park cacti.

Tour de Suisse, Route du Sud, Ster ZLM Toer, Giro del Trentino, Giro della Toscana, Nature Valley Grand Prix, Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic, Nevada City Bicycle Classic, Tour of America’s Dairyland, Tour de Grafton, Tour de Beauce, the Race Across America — I’m telling you, the party never stopped. I’m still waiting on stuff and here it is wine-thirty already.

Speaking of parties, I had to quick whip up another tub of pico de gallo for a friend’s 60th birthday yesterday, between bouts of frenzied pixel-pushing, and naturally I was missing a few key ingredients and had no time to leg it to the store. So I subbed a couple jalapeños for the missing serranos and some Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale for the traditional Mexican beer and you know what? It didn’t suck.

But I could do with a break from the kitchen tonight, and thus Herself will be fetching a Luigi’s pizza home after her stint at the local Humane Society, where she spends a couple days each week helping lonesome critters find happy homes.

Me, I’m still helping Mr. Microsoft find a few typos that spell-check can’t handle.

An evening on the deck

June 16, 2011

It’s 11 p.m. and I’m relaxing with a glass of rosé after two days of medium-heavy cookery and other minor labors in honor of a couple of friends and neighbors who are shuffling off to another area code.

Mexican feast

Cuidado señores ... hot plate! The leftovers are good, too.

I started yesterday, roasting some Whole Foods poblanos and Anaheims on the gas grill, then whipped up a basic posole (a recipe so old I can’t remember where I found it) alongside a pot of pintos with chipotle (from The Santa Fe School of Cooking Cookbook). Herself, meanwhile, got busy on a killer lemon-vanilla pudding, saving the final touches for just before mealtime.

Today I hosed down the back deck and zip-tied down the fabric pergola cover — a good thing, too, as Bibleburg tied a record high of 91 degrees — and broke out the patio table’s umbrella for backup. Then I made a little pico de gallo salsa, roasted potatoes with Chimayo red chile, and a green chile sauce (all three from the Santa Fe folks). Poached a pound of chicken, shredded it, made enchiladas with blue corn tortillas, some Monterey Jack and that pot of green chile, and hey presto! Dinnertime.

There was wine, of course, and also beer. The 2010 Thierry Delaunay Touraine from the Loire Valley seemed a bit thin, so I switched to a 2010 Le Cengle Côtes de Provence, which has a beautiful copper color and a tart flavor that, oddly, reminds me of Jolly Rancher watermelon candies, an item I was addicted to as a much younger dog.

The beers were two seasonal items from Deschutes Brewery — Red Chair NWPA, which is hard to find right now, and Twilight Summer Ale, which should be around until September. I should have Vespa’d on down to Bristol Brewing for a jug of their Red Rocket Pale Ale, but tomorrow is another day, eh? As it is I barely had time to grab a shower before the guests of honor arrived.

We ate and drank and shot the shit until long after sundown, and now I and my wine are surfing Al Gore’s Innertubes in search of evil tidings, which are regrettably easy to find, and enjoying a cooling breeze from somewhere.

Or we were. A small yet authoritative voice in another room has chimed the hour in a style that Big Ben would envy. See you tomorrow.

Voting with my feet

June 14, 2011
Rock on

Make a great downhill course, wouldn't it?

Every now and then I get tired of being a vehicle and become a pedestrian instead. Today was one of those days, so I spent 90 minutes hiking various trails in Palmer Park.

I ride the park at least once a week, usually on one cyclo-cross bike or another, which limits my choices from the trails menu. There may very well be people who can ride the entire Templeton Trail on a ’cross bike, for example, but I am not one of them. So today I stomped around on a mess of trails my wheeled self generally gives a wide berth — the Templeton, the Kinnickinnick, the Cheyenne and the Edna Mae Bennet.

It was a nice change of pace, and also a reminder of the price Bibleburg is paying for the honor of serving as a pilot project for Grover Norquist’s wet dream of drowning a shrunken government in a libertarian bathtub. The park crappers are locked and the water faucets shut off, and I get the impression that a lot of the recent trail maintenance was the work not of parks staff but of volunteers, specifically the Guardians of Palmer Park.

Just outside the park sit empty bus benches bearing signs saying the bus doesn’t stop there anymore, and downtown an even hundred of the century-old trees that make the Old North End so homey are coming down because they are either dead or dying thanks to an extended drought and reduced watering by the city. Plenty of our once-green parks are in a similar woeful state.

Elections have consequences, as folks here and elsewhere are learning the hard way. At least I hope they are.

• Late update: Meanwhile, we’re pouring another $21,500 down the five-ringed loo at the U.S. Olympic Committee — which already cost us $42.3 million in taxpayer dollars — for a temporary mural featuring a local gold medalist in an ludicrous attempt to make ourselves look pretty. Once again, satire runs a very poor second to reality.

The weather is here, wish you were beautiful

June 13, 2011

We’ve been enjoying the kind of weather former Bibleburger Robert A. Heinlein described in “Glory Road” as “the sort that Florida and California claim (and neither has).” If it weren’t for wind bringing us secondhand smoke from the jillion or so massive fires to the south and west of us, I wouldn’t have anything to bitch about.

But I can always find something. I’m funny that way. Maybe not.

Chairman Meow and Mia

Miss Mia Sopaipilla and the headstone on Chairman Meow's grave prepare for a two-cat team time trial.

Today I rode the Voodoo Nakisi south and west, climbing along the trails of Bear Creek Regional Park to Gold Camp Road, where shortly I was passed by a trio of roadies who spoke not a word as they rolled by on their plastic fantastics just past the Section 16 trailhead. They must have been fresh from the 26th Street/Gold Camp ascent, a popular and unofficial time trial in these parts, and I with my dusty steel MonsterCrosser®, burly tires and hairy legs no doubt offended their delicate sensibilities somehow. Maybe it was the VeloNews bibs. Who could know?

What I do know is that they weren’t nearly as nifty as they thought they were, because I was able to hold their wheels on the swift descent along 26th Street to Highway 24, and anyone who knows me will confirm that I do not exactly descend like Lucifer, “hurl’d headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky.” This assholy trinity may be better than me on the uphills, but then that’s not a very high bar to hop, either.

I didn’t recognize any of them, but then I don’t ride the road much, because it is mostly curb to curb with dickheads, some on four wheels, and others on two. On the trails folks say “Howdy!” to each other.

Welcome to the West, buckaroos.

The Bike Clinic Too needs our help

June 10, 2011

Two local programs that help put needy Bibleburgers astride free bicycles are struggling after one full-time mechanic sliced off a big chunk of one thumb and a part-timer found himself overwhelmed by the subsequent referral work and woefully short of funds, tools and parts.

Peter Sprunger-Froese and Brian Gravestock founded the Bike Clinic nearly two decades ago, making it work through a combination of cash support, donated machinery and low-cost and/or volunteer labor. Brian opened a sister shop in 2010, the Bike Clinic Too, and the two locations did a land-office business refurb’ing beaters for the beat.

Then Peter injured that thumb, and Brian abruptly found himself with a backlog of 80 bike orders.

I talked with Brian yesterday at Old Town Bike Shop, where he earns his living (owner John Crandall is also a supporter of Bike Clinic Too), and asked what he needed most to get the clinic back up to speed. He immediately replied, “Money.” He could do with some shop tools, too, and promised to get me a list of the most desperately needed items if I can pop round to an open house at Bike Clinic Too this Sunday (1-4 p.m. at 737 W. Monument, if you’re in the area).

If you can spare a buck or two or three, checks can be written to Pikes Peak Community Foundation — put “Bike Clinic Too” in the memo line — and mail them to PPCF at 730 N. Nevada, Colorado Springs, CO 80903. There’s probably a way to donate online but I don’t see it in a casual search of the PPCF site. If you have any tools you can do without, give me a shout and I’ll put you in touch with Brian and his colleagues at Bike Clinic Too, Eileen Brodie and Jon Hurly. I should be better informed and in possession of a photograph or two after the open house on Sunday.

Meanwhile, you can read more about the op’ here. A tip of the Mad Dog Campy cap to reporter Angie Jackson at my old employer, the Gazette.


June 9, 2011

Imagine my dismay: Newt Gingrich’s brain trust spun on its collective heel and marched out the door after the alleged candidate for the GOP presidential nomination decided to go on a two-week vacation a few weeks after a series of miscues right out of the starting gate that would have The Three Stooges muttering, “C’mon, don’t you think that’s a little over the top?”

The inside chatter centers on who wears the boxers in Newt’s most recent marriage, and that would appear to be Callista Gingrich, who is said to have insisted on the vacation. Mama spank. Ouch.

Meanwhile, some folks think this gives impetus to the latest asshat to serve as governor of Texas, Rick “Goodhair” Perry, as the late, great Molly Ivins used to call him. The Texas Observer has had the 411 on this bozo for the better part of quite some time, and their Bob Moser would like nothing better than to see him run and get beat like a rented burro.

But it looks like we’ll have Newt to kick around for a while yet. According to Politico, he announced on Facebook that he was still in the race, “committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring.”

I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. After all, the Stooges have been absent from the national stage for decades.