Double Crossed

Bigger balls or better brakes? Well, I can buy the brakes. ...

Bigger balls or better brakes? Well, I can buy the brakes. …

One of my favorite things in the whole world is the expression on the face of some dude on a double-boinger when he sees a 60-year-old man on a steel cyclo-cross bike preparing to descend the snowy stretch of north-facing single-track he just struggled up.

“Careful, man, it’s slippery back there,” the latest goggle-eyed disbeliever puffed.

“Thanks, I appreciate it,” I replied, and carried on.

Boingy Boy was right, and I took it easy, in part because my old Shimano BR-R550s were working about as well as the 113th Congress (and squealing even more loudly), and in part because the slippery descent was lousy with hikers (another look I enjoy is the one on a hiker’s face when you yield trail to him/her, apparently a rare occurrence in these parts).

Mostly I took it easy because I’ve never descended worth a damn, on road or off it. But I like climbing, even on a cold, snowy day, and as we know, what goes up must come down. So I pretend I know what I’m doing … and pray that the double-boingers don’t turn around to follow me.


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28 Responses to “Double Crossed”

  1. sharon Says:

    Power to the old people. I love it when a group of me and my friends pass the young lads. Never wise to under estimate skill, tenacity, experience and the ability to train during the day all week!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Don’t forget crazy. A guy on a mountain bike looked at me like I was a nutter when I started climbing another north-facing bit of single-track on the old Double Cross. But the going was really pretty good, since the snow was softening and the trail had a lot of gravel. Plenty of traction for an old ‘crosser, especially if he’s riding 700×38, which ain’t exactly UCI-legal.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    I did a snow ride today too, on a double boinger. Pushing that thing through the snow takes a little effort.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    We also love the look on hiker’s and equestrian’s faces when we yield the trail to them. We also speak to the riders so we don’t spook the horses. They really appreciate it.

    Riding in the snow? On a cross bike on the trail? You are a tough hombre, Senor Perro Loco.

    I manage to get 20 miles in on the Saga. It was cold here, but I won’t complain to the likes of you and Khal. I guess I am a real winter wimp. Thirty miles planned tomorrow on the ES. We shall see.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I appreciate a considerate cyclist when I’m afoot, so I try to be one when I’m in the saddle.

      But the snow was just a dusting, and mostly hiding in the shady parts. Some of the trail was slightly wet from snowmelt, which is when I start to get worried. Last good crash I had was on wet ice. You don’t always see it before it gets you.

      I need to suit up and go for a longer ride tomorrow, weather permitting. But I’ve been watching a lot of ‘cross on the Innertubes this weekend — there was a nice snowy Superprestige today in Diegem — and just wanted to see if the muscles still had their memory.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I had to overtake five hikers yesterday on the new singletrack on North Mesa. I always do that carefully, since I know what happens when someone does not do it carefully–the county gets one of those “Dear Sirs and Madames” letters from irate citizens.

        We have more snow up here (and with a cold front forecast to hit late today, maybe more on the way). The trails had several inches, which was really interesting for me. I might try that same ride again today or tomorrow with 30 psi in the tires rather than 45, to get more grip and since hard turns are not feasible anyway. I’d try it with the 700-42s on the cross bike, but fortunately for me, its fully festooned with racks and lights, so I don’t have to go out there and prove I’m a man, which would be the supreme act of futility anyway….

      • khal spencer Says:

        Ah, yes. Dear sir….

  4. Veloben Says:

    “So I pretend to know what I am doing” Words to live by, they’ve gotten me to 61.

    No snow here. Spent the day with a friend, her 8 yo son and three dogs hiking in the mud, climbing the bluffs and beach walking. The water is never too cold for a Labrador.

    Glorious day ’cause we were outside.

  5. LunaGroper Says:

    Patrick, I’m calling you out–your Soma needs new brakes pronto!
    Two words–Paul Minimoto(s).

    • Jon Paulos Says:

      Not sure I agree with LunaGroper on this one. I run canti’s that are one step above Wal-Mart grade and have enjoyed good performance. I see that your brake cable straddle thingy is adjusted pretty high. New shoes and a readjustment would probably work wonders. That’s the good-news-bad-news about cantilevers. The good news is that they are highly adjustable and can be really tuned well. The bad news is that they are highly adjustable and can be really tuned poorly.

      Was out for a spin yesterday on the road and came upon a pair of horse riders. Stopped and pulled over. My daughter rides and I’ve seen how easily horses spook and what can happen when they do.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Luna, I’ve thought about the MiniMoto — I have Neo-Retro and Touring cantis on a couple of bikes — but they’re a bit spendy and all discretionary spending has been forbidden by Higher Authority until our revenue stream broadens beyond its current feeble trickle. A friend has recommended TRP CX 8.4 cantis, but samey same problem there.

      I may do as Jon recommended and lower that straddle cable, score some new pads. I hoisted it way up to accommodate 38s and fenders, and I’ve never liked the stock pads. Back in Bibleburg I used the Double Cross mostly as a wet-weather/light-touring bike, and I was asking a good deal less of the brakes.

  6. Larry T. Says:

    There were a lot of folks riding around the seafront down in Napoli, mostly in full road kits but on MTB’s, which seem to be the default winter bike for a lot of Italians. With cobbled streets, tram tracks, etc. it makes sense as we’ve spent more time on ours here in Rome than on the road bikes. Dunno what to say about your brakes (or lack thereof) though I ditched some Shimano cantis of a similar era for Campagnolo (sadly, they’re really just rebadged Tektro) models on my ‘cross bike. They’re more adjustable, though I don’t claim they stop much better. No doubt you’re spoiled from so much time on test bikes with disky brakes? You’re the reverse of me PO’G…I suffer the climbs pretty much only to enjoy the descents. I can hold my own with most of the young bucks when the road heads downhill.

    • khal spencer Says:

      I can hold my own with most of the young bucks in these parts for two reasons. One, gravity loves a fat guy. Two, all those years of carving curves on a moto. Not in the same league (or even in the farm leagues) as Larry, obviously, but still, its a useful skill that transfers onto a bicycle.

      • Larry T. Says:

        I wonder about the descending skills of many, many riders. My wife’s never raced a moto in her life but she learned quickly as a bike racer that she could make up some of what she lost going up when coming back down. Riding with yours truly honed her skills to the point where now and then I have a tough time keeping up with her.

        I have a pet theory that modern, everyman cycling positions (way too much weight on the rear wheel) contribute to poor descending but I have only anecdotal evidence to back it up.
        I agree that being a fat guy never hurts when going downhill as I point to my aerodynamic “descending muscle” quite often when someone asks how the hell I can blast down a fast descent so quickly!

        On another, more tasty note, my pizza story is up here

      • khal spencer Says:

        I have a hunch your theory on modern everyman riders is close to the mark. Back in the daze, club riders would tutor each other on the finer points of bike handling. I wonder if that has gone the way of the dodo. Plus, at least some of the newer bikes are marketed towards the OGWGFIS* folks with those longer steerer tubes which potentially encourage riders to put more weight on the hind end of the bicycle..

        * OGWGFISummer

      • Larry T. Says:

        We often get requests for a sort of “descending clinic” which I always decline. Years ago we had a guy join us who raved about one he’d just completed before his Italian cycling vacation. You’ve already guessed the rest, he spun himself out on a decreasing radius downhill curve and spent the rest of his vacation in the hospital where a rod was inserted into his broken femur.

      • khal spencer Says:

        You are right. I had guessed the rest.

        We had a bad crash up on the Jemez Mountains a few years ago on a blind hairpin. A bunch of rice rocket guys apexing from one side and a bunch of our local club cyclists from the other. At least a couple broken collarbones, a lot of road rash, and some seriously bent up metal.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        It was just that sort of decreasing-radius downhill curve that nearly did for me. I believe I’ve mentioned it here before — Nun’s Corner, just past Ten Thousand Waves, en route to the Santa Fe Ski Basin. Totally overcooked it and nearly clipped an oncoming car. I wasn’t scared or nothin’, but somebody shit on my saddle.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Too many forget that on public roads (vs racetracks or closed roads) one must always leave a little something (as in a bit more lean, a bit more brake, a little tighter line through the corner, etc.) in reserve. Otherwise, you pretty much have nowhere to go and nothing to do when/if there’s a sudden change of conditions. That’s the difference between reckless abandon vs skill and control, no matter how fast you’re going.

  7. mountainhigh10200 Says:

    Was descending with some kids on a Lift accessed mountain wearing a full face helmet (of course). When we got to the bottom and I took my helmet off some kid said “Dude. You are OLD”
    First words out of scrappy’s mouth.

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