Old dog, no tricks

Forward, into the past: Riding 26-inch wheels with a suspension fork.

Yesterday I had occasion to remind myself what an utterly incompetent mountain biker I am.

A neighbor mentioned that he’d been riding his mountain bike during the recent cool spell and asked if I’d be interested in joining him, so out of an abundance of caution I lubed up the 1995 DBR Axis TT and took it out for a short trial spin on the singletrack around the Embudo dam.

Hitting the trails on a Sunday afternoon is almost always a bad idea, but my neighbor wanted to ride today, and I hadn’t experienced the old dust-buster with its 26-inch wheels, eight-speed XT/Sachs/SRAM drivetrain, and RockShox Judy SL fork in quite a spell.

After a few klicks I was reminded of why. The wheels are too small, the top tube is too long, and I find suspension confusing, like Australopithecus confronting an ATM.

In short, I was blundering along like a Republican under an FBI grilling, and it didn’t help that the trails were filled to overflowing with hikers, bikers, dog-walkers and dog-runners on bikes. I want to be funny for reasons of my own choosing, especially if there is an audience.

So if the neighbor and I make it out today I’ll probably ride my Voodoo Nakisi MonsterCrosser®, which shares a comforting rigidity with its owner-operator.

Speaking of me, I ain’t going anywhere. It seems a few of you took yesterday’s post to mean I was surrendering the blog. Nope. It was the “Mad Dog Unleashed” column in Bicycle Retailer and Industry News that got put down, not this old hound, which remains very much at large. Thus you may expect me to continue barking to no particular purpose in this space for the foreseeable future.

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34 Responses to “Old dog, no tricks”

  1. Libby Says:

    Last night while reading comments I “Viewed with Alarm” and had “The Fear” that the Dog Haus was going to be abandoned. Thanks for putting me out of my misery. I can continue to whine weakly, snivel, squat and paw around the Blog Haus. Long live Mad Dog!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Aw, shucks, ma’am. The reason I took up bloggery is that nobody could tell me to piss off. I’m publisher, editor, staff writer, columnist, photographer, videographer, sound man, and IT guy, all rolled into one.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    I ride my 12 year old 26″ wheel double boinger a lot. It seems fine to me but I think getting on any bike after such a long layoff will be dicey.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’m hooked on the big wheels. I’ve spent too many years piloting 700c/29 hoops around and about in the dirt. Plus suspension puts dents in my brainpan. Riding rigid is a whole other mindset.

      Today my neighbor was riding his old Trek hardtail while I was on the Voodoo Nakisi. Neither of us being particular aggro’, we managed to keep each other in sight most of the time.

  3. Carl Duellman Says:

    it’s a good thing you’re sticking around to keep us entertained instead of wasting your time writing articles for money. now you’ve got time to devote to your podcasting.

    i dug the 13 year old waltworks mtb out this weekend for the local toys for tots ride. i brought toys but i never got my tater tots though. fortunately i managed to do the whole 12 mile loop without seeing anyone or anyone seeing me whimpering on the ground when the bike threw me. it was still fun though. i need to get retired so i can ride more often.

  4. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I was an early adopter of 29 inch wheeled mountain bikes, and both I have owned were steel hard tails. I have never looked back. Old elastomer forks were great in their time, but any middle of the road air/oil fork just eats their lunch, especially if the elastomers are old and stiff. I still toy with the idea of putting a rigid fork on my Niner mountain bike; I haven’t because its Reba fork, 8 years old and on a second bike, is as reliable as a stone. I set it for my weight and forget it. I check the air when I wash the bike. Maybe it’s time to donate the Diamondback to a worthy group. Maybe the Esperanza Community bike shop?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I dunno, Pat. I’m still kicking myself for disposing of that ti’ Voodoo Loa cyclocross bike. Titanium is forever, like stupidity or herpes.

      Maybe I should just ride the bugger more. And it’s useful for anyone passing through town who didn’t fetch a bike along and would rather not sample the local singletrack on a ’cross bike, the way Management does.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I did have the oil changed and new seals put in the Reba about 4 years into its life. Preventative maintenance is one thing the Army taught me that was worth a shit. That, and don’t wear cotton socks. Maybe a new fork, they damn near give them away for 26 inch wheels, would put some new life into the DBR?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        The fork is low mileage, Pat. It’s a rebuilt Judy SL from HippieTech, which sadly is no longer with us. But you may be onto something here. Maybe newer technology can be had.

        • Pat O'Brien Says:

          As, I forgot it was rebuilt. I haven’t checked prices on the 26 forks, but I will. Sandy’s Salsa Ala Carte is on consignment at the bike shop. Forks (26) were still pricey when we built it, so it has a Manitou spring/oil fork on it. Heavy, but really smooth and cheap.

  5. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Good to know I was wrong about the blog but #$%^&*( to BR&IN for ditching your column! If I had a subscription I would cancel it!!!!
    I still ride (or try to) an old Schwinn-branded “Homegrown” with wheels and components pretty much as you described. I never think the bike is the weakest link in the combination though I know the bike biz thrives on that idea.
    We’re out in CA riding antique steel road bikes at present.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      You’re in Cambria? Nice! Herself and I rented a beach house there a long time ago and did some medium-light cycling around the vicinity. Cool little town. I recall a staircase that seemed to go more or less to Heaven.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Well, there’s this that we did yesterday..the damn thing was steep enough I thought we might be going to heaven!
        http://bestrides.org/?s=santa+rosa

        • David Rees Says:

          Dayum man! If you two rode up that grade you’re a whole lot stronger than you’ve let on – very well done. I rode down that thing, in the rain, many years ago and I still remember thinking NO one rides up this road, even in the best of weather.

          • larryatcycleitalia Says:

            Ciao David,
            As we neared the top I quipped that in-season I’d like to think I could have ridden straight up the thing instead of doing the traverses …but with a 30 X 26 low gear I’m not so sure.
            We both stopped to get our tongues out of the front wheel spokes at the spot I shot the photo of Heather on what was the steepest slope. We found some almost as steep stuff the next day but after a km of 14+% we said the h–ll with it and turned around.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          I’m pretty certain Herself and I did that same ride all those years ago. I don’t recall the details of the uphill, but that long-ass, boring descent sounds very familiar.

          I would’ve had my racing legs with me back then. The Mad Dogs were doing beaucoup long training rides and plenty racing, but even given my Nineties fitness level you’d think a stretch of 19 percent would’ve stuck in my head.

          There’s some great stuff to ride in California, especially further north. I’ve ridden out of Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Hopland and Ukiah. Some of those coastal-range roads are insane — two-lanes that become one-lanes that become gravel, etc.

          • larryatcycleitalia Says:

            I’d like to explore a few of those but we’re heading to SLO after a couple of days coughing with the in-laws for xmas. Our usual riding in SB won’t be much fun even if the skies clear up so we’ll escape to SLO-town until year’s end. After that I’ll be in LA “enjoying” their usual low-quality air for a few days before heading back to the frozen plains of Iowa – but just to repack and fly off to Italy.
            With any luck I won’t have to return to Trumpland until mid-August!

  6. JD Dallager Says:

    “Old Guys Who Get Fat in the Winter” should ride atleast plus-size tires and/or fat bikes! Si?

    Blog on, Mad Dog…..Blog on!! 🙂

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve delegated all fat-bikery to my man Hal Walter up Weirdcliffe way. He’s been charging around and about on a Trek Farley.

      Photo courtesy Hal Walter, who doesn’t know I’ve stolen it.

  7. DownhillBill Says:

    Word. BTW, the Phantom Of The Opera pose was too cool!

  8. BruceM Says:

    Good to know you’re not leaving this space; but, I too, thought you were. I would miss your excellent wordsmith talent.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Somebody has to hang around and make sure all y’all behave yourselves, amirite? How are things out your way these days?

      • BruceM Says:

        Here in the Pacific NorthWet, life goes on. The webs between my toes have finally grown in.

        I was thrown a bit when you referenced “Mad Dog Media Unleashed.” The “Unleashed” part seemed odd. I’m not familiar with the other publications. Light finally dawns.

        I’ve stayed up with your rants. You’re a damn-good writer; I enjoy your prose. I’ve tried to replay, but I’m now webmaster for a local group and WordPress and I had an argument. Finally straightened them out.

  9. Hurben Says:

    Hi Patrick,
    I bought an old MTB with those identical bar ends, any idea what metal they are made from as they seem to be very light for their size?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hurben, I think they’re 6061 aluminum, but I can’t be sure. I think I collected those out of a parts bin at Old Town Bike Shop back in Bibleburg. Big ol’ boys, aren’t they? The things keep going out of fashion and then coming back in.

      • JD Dallager Says:

        Yeah! That’s why I still have my double-knit bell-bottoms! And, wait for it, leisure suits should be in style by 2020! 🙂

  10. Shawn in the Gorge Says:

    Woohoo ! You’re hanging around. We get to continue to see your spit and dribble when the Trumpster crawls out of his own shadow….

    As for steeds, them 29ers are sure nice… But ever since I gave up my lucrative career to take a volunteer job of responsibility, 29ers and modern bikes are a far off dream. But I don’t cry about it, I just get out and ride. I’ve got an economical 26″ 8-speed MTB Bike set up as a fast trail, gravel, touring and “what the hell it’s raining” pavement bike… On nice days I pull out the Serotta Colorado Ti MTB 26″ bike with a Sid fork and act like I’m fast….. and I am… in my own mind…… Someday I’ll pull the old Trek Y-33 out of the box that I’ve had it packed in for the last 12 years, reassemble it and see if it “boings” along like it used to…. Those were the days…..

    Cheers !

  11. Dale Says:

    Glad to hear that you’ll stick around to stir up discontent – some of us must.

    I miss LUG. The more I read of doping, the less I care about professional cycling and competitive cycling at any level.

    Last year was the first year that I scaled back my viewing. I did watch the 1 day classics, but the three tours – no. I know the script by now.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve basically given up on pro racing, Dale. My hat’s off to anyone who’s doing it clean, but I’m just over it. It was fun while it lasted. …

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Indeed. Us too. That’s one reason why we joined the ACA. I would much rather read about people traveling on bikes than racing them. I like their catalog better too. No more team jerseys for me save the OGWGFIWRC jersey. From my cold dead hands……

  12. ryansubike Says:

    Keep on barking Maddog

  13. larry brown Says:

    I take everything I said about your going, never read a blog after two or more beers.

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