Spaghetti western

The director at work. Just call me Quentin Ferrentino.

Back in the saddle again. …

Wrapped a video about the Bianchi Orso yesterday and shipped it off to the Adventurous Cyclists. I don’t know if these little flights of fancy get any altitude once they leave the nest, but making one drags me out of the dark corners of my head and into the light, however briefly, squinting like an astigmatic Morlock without his prescription Rudy Projects.

The Bianchi Orso in a bikepacking configuration, up against the Wall of Science.

There’s never a plan. Well, not really. I always snap some stills of the bike and its bits in various configurations, loaded and unloaded, up against the Wall of Science. But then I just bugger off with the machinery, a GoPro and an old Flip Video tripod, and see what happens. Make a ride of it. The body sweats in tandem with the brain.

By the time I get around to shooting video I’ve already written the print review, so I have that road map filed away for reference, a sort of mental GPS chirping, “Proceed 500 meters down the trail, cross the dry wash, then tackle that kitty-litter climb. Try to look like a bikepacker instead of a poseur. And stay out of the cholla f’chrissakes, you still have to edit this footage.”

Speaking of which, after a couple-three of these little adventures with the bike in various getups I have a mountain of clips to turn into a two-minute molehill. It’s like doing a jigsaw puzzle without any idea of what the finished picture is supposed to look like.

“OK, lessee here, there’s an intro, here’s an outro, now what about the in-between? Component roundup, yup; racks and sacks, uh huh; bikepacking rig, mmm hmm. Some road. Some dirt. How ’bout something ridiculous, just ’cause? Two minutes on the nosey.”

Finding some suitable background music may be the biggest hurdle. Apple’s iMovie doesn’t include a ton of useful tunes, and I draw the line at going all Ennio Morricone on these things with my two-bit orchestra. Light on the good, heavy on the bad and ugly, is what. I don’t have a piano, the flute scares the cats, and my guitar “stylings” sound like a raccoon chasing a rat through a box spring at the dump.

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18 Responses to “Spaghetti western”

  1. JD Dallager Says:

    That’s one good lookin’ two-wheeled machine there…..and one pretty buff-lookin’ roleur/bikepacker in the saddle.

    I’ve often wondered, not having ridden one, what the handling characteristics are like, how long it takes to adapt to them, and whether the water bottles become “stabilizers” when partially empty.

    Also, what crank and cassette changes you need to make (quite a bit lower gearing I would guess, but is there a rule of thumb?) to handle the added weight.

    As for the music P’OG, I’d suggest “Flight of the Valkyries” and “Night on Bald Mountain”.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’m getting down to fighting weight, JD. One of these days someone might mistake me for a cyclist.

      The biggest difference between riding a traditional touring setup (racks and panniers) and a bikepacking rig (handlebar, frame and seat bags) is that in the latter configuration all the weight sits higher up, which can feel a bit iffy when cornering, especially in sand or slop. Having three or so pounds of water on the forks helps. Until you drink it, of course, water weight being a self-correcting issue on a warmish day.

      I’ve never ridden heavy weight in a bikepacking setup, usually opting for a smallish credit-card load of under 20 pounds. The hardest thing for me to get used to is having a handlebar bag crowding my hands (I like to ride with my mitts on the tops a lot).

      Have a look at tech editor Nick Legan’s fleet. He makes some interesting component and accessory choices.

      The typical compact drivetrain is for shit in these conditions. 50/34 chainrings and an 11-32 cassette are fine for riding unloaded, or carrying light weight across flat country, but throw in some hills or wind and you want something with less top end and more low end.

      Dan Meyer at Adventure Cyclist just wrote about a couple solutions. They’re not cheap, but they work. I think Co-Motion is using that FSA Omega crank on a couple of bikes. And I want to try that Wolf Tooth RoadLink gizmo. Their Tanpan works really well.

      John Schubert used to say that you wanted a low gear of between 20 and 25 inches “for that moment on tour when the hill is two miles long and you’re already tired.” The Bianchi’s low end is 29.3 gear inches.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I enjoy every one of them, and they keep getting better. Doesn’t the ACA or youtube have some statistics on the clicks your videos get?

    Don’t know about copyright issues, but Acoustic Alchemy music might be nice for your work.

  3. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    I suppose I’ll get used to seeing the massive under-seat bags but the top photo had me thinking you were straddling a giant black burrito or something!
    Is the “bikepacking” idea to have a much more narrow package than can be done with panniers and such? Nobody hits their knees on the bag hanging under the top tube? I’m a guy who has to make sure the bottle in the seat tube holder is turned the right way so it doesn’t hit my leg, so I think all that stuff velcro-strapped on would drive me nuts pretty quickly, but what do I know?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The bikepacking setup is kinda nice when you’re traveling light on a crowded trail, Larry. Racks and panniers can be a little bulky in close quarters.

      I rode the Orso with a rear rack and bags, and oddly, I felt more comfortable with it in the bikepacking configuration.

      I use the frame bag for items like food, spare tubes, pump and tools, so it doesn’t plump up too much.

      When I rode the Elephant NFE I used a combo platter — panniers, a handlebar bag, and a bikepacking bag.

  4. Steve O Says:

    Speaking of Italian bikes …

    Only 62.

    • larryatcycleitalia Says:

      Pegoretti crammed a lot of living into his life. Reminds me of the old gag – Doc tells man he must stop smoking, drinking and enjoying rich foods. Man asks, “OK Doc, if I do that will I live longer?” Doc replies, “Well, it’ll seem like it.”
      I posted this yesterday
      RIP Pegoretti

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, BRAIN was on this yesterday. Speaking as a 64-year-old I’ve gotta say that 62 is way too young to return to the source. That’s how old my dad was when he checked out. He’d quit smoking but the drinking remained an issue.

      We lost another bicycle person yesterday: Brian Drebber, one of the pioneer announcers in the sport’s early days on American TV. I remember his voice booming out at me as I rode the trainer with a videotape playing for inspiration.

      • DownhillBill Says:

        I never knew Drebber, but he was one of my heroes. Pre- Coors he was a member of our local bike club. Story was, someone threw a bottle at him from a car. He chased the guy down, caught him at a stoplight, pulled him out of the car and punched him out. Then he swore out an assault warrant against the bozo.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Yep, RIP Drebber. We met a time or two during the Coors Classic daze but I doubt he’d remember me. Meanwhile, I couldn’t help notice when I looked back on the blog post from NAHBS in Charlotte that two of the folks pictured there are no longer with us – Pegoretti and Mike Deme.
        As they say “Only the good die young” so we’ll likely be around a long, long time I guess? Unless our wives get tired of us and slip us the rat poison that is…

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Don’t give Herself any ideas. As much time as she spends wheeling and dealing on eBay she may be looking to trade up to a newer model.

        Ah, Deme. What a character, and gone far, far too soon. He brought me back to Interbike after BRAIN had decided I was more of a liability than an asset. It was fun to actually wander the show and inspect the toys without having to crank out a metric shit-ton of word count and cartoons for the Show Daily.

        Didja see that Rivendell is going to the show this year? I don’t recall ever seeing them there before. I know where I’d go first if I were there.

        • Pat O'Brien Says:

          “I know where the shovel is, and the desert is vast.” I often hear that; it comes up whenever I talk about a new bike.

        • larryatcycleitalia Says:

          Rivendell? Interesting idea for them to try to get shops to stock their stuff. A big ask when the Big-S, T and G shove all their bikes and accessories down the IBD’s throat, leaving little room and budget for competing products like Riv’s.
          Was the last time G. Petersen was at a bike show the time SOPWAMTOS gave him a “Golden Toidy Award” as Self-appointed Guru?

  5. Mark Rothschild Says:

    …Spaghetti Western

  6. khal spencer Says:

    If you are in this neck of the woods on Sept. 9th, you might want to do this memorial ride for a great cyclist who was recently shot and killed by a thug, here in the City Different.

    Memorial Ride For Robert Romero
    Public · Hosted by Santa Fe Fat Tire Society and Barker Realty

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