The next 60

The Soma Saga in its present configuration. I'm thinking about losing the rando' bars for some short-reach drops, beefing up the bar tape and fattening up the tires.

The Soma Saga in its present configuration. I’m thinking about losing the rando’ bars for some short-reach drops, beefing up the bar tape and fattening up the tires.

Thanks to all of you for the most excellent birthday wishes. No. 60 was a quiet day around Chez Dog — since Herself was road-tripping for business purposes, the party was an exclusive affair; just me, the menagerie, and all those voices in my head (happily, they don’t eat much, not even ice cream).

Today, a milestone behind me and various millstones ahead, I continued what I’m calling Ride the Neglected Bicycles Week. So far it’s seen the Voodoos Nakisi and Wazoo, the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, and the Jones all get out of the garage for some vigorous thrashing, and there are still two days left. Tomorrow’s supposed to be 60-something and mostly sunny. You can’t stop me!

When not riding, I’ve been reading about riding. “Life Is a Wheel” is Bruce Weber’s account of his second cross-country cycling trip, undertaken at age 57. I had been aware of his ride — a writer for The New York Times, Weber blogged about it for the paper — but the book had somehow slipped my mind. I saw the review, downloaded the book, and so far Weber and I have spent an enjoyable few evenings together.

Like other road books — “Travels With Charley,” “Blue Highways,” and of course, “On the Road,” “Life Is a Wheel” is giving me notions. Nothing so elaborate as a cross-country ride, mind you, certainly not in springtime. But taking a few days away, under my own steam, sounds like a wonderful departure from business as usual.


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40 Responses to “The next 60”

  1. David R Says:

    If the voices start regularly drinking up the good Scotch when you’re not looking, then you’ve got a real problem. I just lock up tight the Glenmorangie and the good bottles of Zin so the little bastards can’t get at it; then I can at least sleep at night. I mean, these days you just can’t be too careful.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      So far, they’re all talk. And I think they’re already drunk, ’cause I can’t understand a word they’re saying. What the hell does “”Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” mean, anyway?

  2. Larry T. Says:

    Weather’s looking like we might be able to ride bicycles outside here on the still-frozen plains this weekend. The bike in the photo certainly seems to be screaming for some fatter tires, something I’ve preached about for many years. Finally folks with more credibility than yours truly have convinced most folks of the benefits and tire makers are responding with more choices. Larger air volume + supple casings = a better ride in every way.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Larry, those are 700x32s, but since I run bigger rubber on damn’ near everything else, they felt skinny to me. Plus they were wire-bead Kevlar jobs and about as flexible as a cardboard box.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Maybe cuz they’re all black they look skinny? But wire-bead, Kevlar and a carcass like garden hose rarely make for a nice ride even at low pressure. Even with the 25 mm size Vittoria CX open tubulars or Challenge Stradas, I enjoy a nice ride based on the supple carcass and pumping ’em up to only around 80 psi. My LeMond ‘cross bike will take fatter rubber so the Challenge Parigi-Roubaix’s are on there. 75 psi is more than enough for those.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Right you are, Larry. I had hoped to squeeze some fat Continental Speed Rides in there, but I didn’t have enough strut left on those fenders to make it happen. Bah.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Since they chipsealed all the roads around here, I’ve been replacing the 23’s with 25’s on the fun bikes. The Vittoria open tubulars at 700-25 are wonderful at lower pressure.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Where will you go and how will you get there? Our bike overnights are pretty much limited to Bisbee or Benson, perhaps Patagonia if you go through Ft. Huachuca. I don’t ride on hwy 82 between Sonoita and hwy 90 anymore, the route you rode on your SE Arizona tour. Even though the new bridge on I-10 keeps the oversize loaded trucks off hwy 82, it has no shoulders, 65 MPH speed limit, and hills and blind curves. Scary shit for an older guy. Getting breezed by a motorhome with the folding step still extended piloted by someone whose head didn’t show above the steering wheel cured me of hwy 82.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ah, there’s the rub, Pat. One of my favorite routes south got busted up by last year’s floods. East is kinda boring. West, we have more flood issues (plus inept land-schooner pilots and blind corners). North is … well, north goes to Denver. Who the hell wants to go there?

      So I’m thinking down Highway 115 to the PrisonPlex and thence perhaps to Weirdcliffe, where I have friends in high places (8,800 feet high, to be precise). There’s a nifty back way from Cañon City that uses lots of dirt roads and spares a fella some of the dingbat traffic common to the highways.

  4. mountainhigh10200 Says:

    If you threaten to stab them with Q-Tips, sometimes they go quiet.

  5. khal spencer Says:

    Just did sixty metric clicks in your honor, Patrick. Wind is starting to kick up down here. Tomorrow is another red flag day. Whoopee!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yessiree, here too. Blowing dust alert, my fave. And a small grass fire (already!) at Palmer Park, where I note the city has been engaged in some landscaping-slash fire mitigation. If they’re not careful the first good hard rain will wash half the park down the road to the golf course. Rich white people spank.

  6. khal spencer Says:

    By the way, from that picture, it looks like if you put on any fatter rubber, you might have to lose those fenders.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Oh, indeed, K. I tried a 700×42 and couldn’t make it happen (though without fenders it would fit just fine). So I settled for 700×37, a pair of WTB All Terrains that I liked on another bike.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Will 700×32 do OK on a good dirt road? I am running 700×32 Marathon Plus tires on my Saga. I know, ride rough, but I really like not worrying about flats.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I’ve got a set of 700-32 folding Paselas mounted during the summer for the Salsa LaCruz. They ride real nice, at least for me at just shy of 160 lbs of blubber. Nice combination of lively yet comfy.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        For sure, Pat. I used to race 28s whenever some fun-loving road-race promoter would throw in a stretch of dirt, and 32s are even better.

        I like going to 37s and 43s because I wander into soft sand from time to time and it’s nice to have the extra flotation. Though running 43s on Mavic Open Pros is slightly dimwitted, frankly. I’m waiting for the day when the front goes a little soft and I roll it right off the rim in an off-camber downhill corner.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Is there a chart of rim width vs. acceptable tire width somewhere? I generally do it by eyeball, ie., as Pat says, if it looks like a good candidate for a rolloff, I don’t do it.

        That sounds like a John Allen question

      • khal spencer Says:

        Here is a chart.

      • khal spencer Says:

        And another. Sorry for the multiple posts. Sometimes if I put in two URLs, Patrick’s spam filter nails me.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Our bici d’epoca (the wife’s especially) can’t take super fat rubber for l’Eroica so some fattish 28’s are pretty much the limit. I have a set of Rivendell Roly-Poly’s on my Bianchi and Grand Bois Cerf’s on her Tomi. We both rode on 23’s back in 2010 on some of the strada sterrata with no issues, same with the unpaved Colle Finestre a couple of times. I think technique matters as much as anything as long as the tire’s not so narrow (or the surface so soft) that they knife in and become uncontrollable.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Thanks for the good advice again guys and gals. Fatter rubber for the ES and Saga as soon as the current new tires are worn, or a rich relative, I have none that I know of, leaves me a pile of greenbacks.

    • khal spencer Says:

      My Six-thirteen feels pretty good with the Vittoria Open 25’s although it could take a set of 28’s (as can the CAAD-5) in a pinch. If they keep chipsealing around here, I’ll probably look into a set of the Vittoria Open Pave CG’s in 700-27.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Continental SpeedRide in 700x42
        I gotta get this tire on a bike somehow. It’s too much for the Saga — with fenders on, anyway — so I might yank the fenders off the Double Cross and give it a go there.

      • Larry T. Says:

        This tire rides very nicely and fits my Mondonico bikes, which don’t have a lot of room. Measures around 25.5 mm on a Torelli Triumph (Ambrosio) clincher rim. Reminds me a bit of the old days with Clement Criterium Seta tubulars. I question the need for knobs and such on tires like this unless the surface you’re riding on is really soft. I like to be able to bank ’em over in the paved turns without that squirmy feeling…but I’m far from a gravel king, that’s for sure!

      • khal spencer Says:

        What I have read indicates that for pavement, having tread on a bicycle tire is useless. They are too narrow to hydroplane, which is the reason for tread on motor tires. Sure, if one is going to be on mixed surfaces, it makes sense.

        The fine file tread on the Vittorias seems to not matter as far as squirm, but the purpose still eludes me.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Mavic recommends tire widths of 19 to 28MM for the Open Pro rim and 19 to 32 for the Open Sport. I have Open Sport rims on the ES.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        As far as tread on bike tires go, from what I have read, smooth is better than tread on pavement in wet or dry conditions. But if you venture onto soft surfaces, like a dirt road, then tread improves traction. So, it would seem some sort of compromise is in order for a bike that is ridden on both hard and soft surfaces, and knobs or aggressive tread for all dirt and little to no tread for all road. If that is right, then I have something else to think about in tire selection other than just tire width.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Hm. It appears that I have routinely been exceeding design limitations. Happily, I ride so cautiously that (so far) I have yet to suffer the consequences.

        The tires I like the most tend to have a raised center ridge that lets you buzz along without issue on pavement or hardpan, but have knobs for cornering in soft stuff. My rides often include all three surfaces.

        Thus I have the 700×43 Bruce Gordon Rock ‘n Roads on the Voodoo Nakisi (the most grievous offender against Mavic’s rim/tire recommendations); 700×37 WTB All Terrains on the Soma Saga; and 29×2.0 Geax AKAs on the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff.

        The Double Cross has 700×38 Schwalbe Little Bens on it right now, but they also exceed Mavic’s guidelines, so I may be rethinking my plans to go to 700×42 on that bike. The Contis are softer and more supple than the Schwalbes, and I bet they’d roll off the wrong rim like a drunk off a park bench.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        When I participate in the comments with you guys on a technical subject, like tires, I feel like J. J. Cale at a Clapton guitar festival. I’m just here trying to steal some licks.

  7. veloben Says:

    The snow is gone, the ice and liquid water on the road is gone. It almost stays above freezing at night and the wind isn’t exceeding 25 knots too often. A bike 24 sounds really good about now if only because there are no mosquitoes (yet) and I need to get out of the house. So Patrick why don’t you invite us all over for a mass touring bike/pannier/tent/sleeping bag test ride? I’m sure ACA will buy it as a series. A sidebar on which Scotch goes with which Mountain House meal would be nice.

  8. khal spencer Says:

    Finally put up my own birthday card. Last thursday and friday really sucked for me…..

  9. Ryan Says:

    If you are lumping “life is a wheel” in with Travels with Charley and blue highways – two favorites that induced me to ditch corporate life for 6 months in my late 20’s and travel the states in a vw van- then I will have to check it out.

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