Get out

First trip up this rocky little slope my wind jacket slid out of my
handlebar bag. Good thing it didn’t wind up tangled in the spokes
or I might have lost some psi from my head.

Speaking of flats, I went out looking for some today.

I was actually shooting some video of the Cannondale Topstone 105 for Adventure Cyclist, but you never know. Sometimes you shoot the cycling, and sometimes the cycling shoots you.

But not this time. Not this time. The tires, in case you were wondering, are WTB Riddlers in 700×37, and I’ve already flatted the rear once.

Today’s ride also served nicely to flush out the old headgear. We watched some of the Democratic “debate” last night, and this morning brought more impeachment drama, so, yeah, definitely time to get moving, preferably away from all news sources.

Didn’t hurt that the temps were in the mid-50s. Dude grinding past on a mountain bike sez to me, he sez, “What a perfectly terrible day.”

“Awful,” I agreed, adding, “Try not to suffer too much.”

The suffering will arrive tomorrow, in the form of a winter storm. Happily, I have video to edit, which should distract me from whatever befalls us, from the skies or the scribes.

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30 Responses to “Get out”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Cannondale strikes again. that looks like a nice bike and a nice spec. Curious how it rides.

  2. katholoch Says:

    Your posts of the Elena Gallegos trails and the ABQ bike paths have really given me thoughts of moving back to ABQ when it is time to head out of the Bay Area. I had such a rough time in ABQ I NEVER thought I would consider it again. But here I am, considering. Would be totally different this time as my life has changed a lot. And you know what they say: Everywhere you go, there YOU are.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Y’know, it’s not bad here. The town has its problems, no question, but so does everyplace.

      The big selling point for me is the cycling, which really is pretty damn superb. We’re two blocks from singletrack here, which means I can uncork a fun two-hour spin right out of the front door. Road riding is equally accessible, though touring is a little more difficult than it was in Bibleburg. Narrow roads, bad drivers.

      Weather is better than in Bibleburg, too. And in the Bay Area, come to think of it. Mark Twain wasn’t kidding when he said the coldest winter he ever endured was a summer in San Francisco.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      You might want to consider our little burg. Plenty of good riding and other stuff, especially cost of living. Some friends just moved here from spending the last 12 years in Bolivia, but they both retired out of the bay area, and he grew up there. He said he could buy a house here for what a down payment would be there. Add in the clean air, and he picked Sierra Vista, AZ. We are lacking in live music, but you can always go to Tucson to catch a concert or show.

      • katholoch Says:

        Hi Pat, I remember you mentioning Sierra Vista previously. We will have to make a trip down that way someday. I will let you know if we ever plan on getting down there. Retirement is still a ways in the future, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to start looking and thinking!

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I’m a fan of nearby Bisbee, too. A friend’s son moved there from Southern California and likes it a whole lot. Of course, I remember it fondly from La Vuelta de Bisbee Days (h/t Al Hopper). I expect the real estate is a tad pricier there than in SV, though.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Fanta Se ain’t a bad place to ride the bikee either. Its 2k feet higher than Albuquerque and a tad colder this time of year but summer doesn’t roast your nuts off. Today the high was about fifty fake degrees.

      And in spite of the usual bitching and complaining, there are a whole lot of different places to ride pavement, dirt road, and off road. I had a Mayor’s Advisory Committee meeting today which meant all of a mile and a half ride from the Tiny Estate to City Hall, so I did a quick Tour de Tano north of town on the CAAD5, set up the fake meat loaf for my better half to pop in the oven after her knitting conspiracy, and then took a quick shower and lit off downtown on the Long Haul Trucker.

      I was pissing and moaning a lot having been dragged down here kicking and screaming from Los Alamos but as far as biking, its worked out well. Now, if I could find a few more convenient places to safely and legally light off a few magazines in those Weapons ‘O War, all would be well.

  3. SAO' Says:

    I keep seeing pix of gravel bikes where i can spots the bike, but not so much the gravel. Was that really the best name everyone could come up with?

    I guess Frontage Road Bike wasn’t sexy enough. No one else liked Bit O’ This Bit O’ That. The One That Shall Rule Them All was too pretentious. So I guess Gravel it is.

    • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

      Re-invent, re-cycle, re-market. Gravel’s just the cute name they came up with this time round.

      • khal spencer Says:

        those Bridgestones were nice. I was fresh out of grad school and still trying to get financially above the water line when the MB line came out so I bought the less expensive MB-2.

      • DownhillBill Says:

        I’m still looking for the proper Sun Tour derailleur to replace the one I broke off my MB-2. Mine has the John Deere paint job and is the only MB I’ve ever owned. It also needs a new rear wheel as 3 freewheel tools have died trying to get that thing off to replace some spokes.

        • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

          Can’t get a SunTour freewheel off? Reminds me of the time someone showed up at the shop with a similar tale of woe about one of their Microlights (or something like that) and we asked, “How badly do you want the thing off the hub?” When he said, “Do whatever you have to do” we did. The alloy body sheared away under the stress of the removal tool so we dismantled the freewheel to the point we could get a grip on things with a bench vise. Then the guy got cranky – we thought he was more interested in saving the WHEEL/HUB than the freewheel! Ooops!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s really pretty silly. And nobody knows a “gravel bike” from a cyclocross bike from any other kind of bike.

      I was riding the Cannondale Topstone 105 on some narrow singletrack yesterday and a guy says, “’Cross bike, hey?” I suppose you could make do with it, but it’s actually a “gravel bike.” Or a “touring bike.” A “bikepacking bike?” One a them there.

      Cannondale Topstone 105

      • SAO' Says:

        I’m still trying to figure out “single track,” so “gravel” is an order of magnitude beyond my little brain. Hell, I needed a wheelbarrow to learn how to walk upright.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        At present my favorite bike is a cyclocross bike, my 22-year-old Steelman Eurocross. With the 700×33 Clement MXPs, an eight-speed Ultegra drivetrain, and Paul’s Neo-Retro/Touring cantis, it goes pretty much wherever I feel like going most days.

        I should probably swap its 48/36 chainrings for 46/34, and mebbe go to a rear derailleur that will accommodate a cassette with more teeth (the big cog is 28T). But if I steer clear of the really steep stuff — or get off and run like a real cyclocrosser — it’s still a pretty good all-purpose machine.

    • JD Dallager Says:

      Interesting article on gravel/”groad” bikes in today’s Outside Online:

      Similar, but much shorter article on the “nicheness” of fat bikes and their relatively short stay on the bike scene:

      • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

        Interesting piece by Joe though the only thing really new in there is disc brakes – the gearing, tires. etc. were around but not in the volume or choice available now.
        Whether it was a drop-bar 26″ wheel MTB or a ‘cross bike like the steel LeMond Poprad I’m missing a bit these days, those of us who wanted drop bars and versatility could (and did) have it long before it became “a thing”.
        Then there are the millions of steel framed road bikes with long reach brakes that lack only some lower gears to be fun when the pavement ends – just ask the legions of those who enjoy bici d’epoca (think L’Eroica) events all over the world. The bike biz has little interest in this of course as it involves riding bikes that already exist instead of buying new ones.
        Lindsay finishes with what could almost be a Homer Simpson line – “It may be a fad, but it’s here to stay.” I’ll be very surprised if it doesn’t go the way of ‘cross as far as the bike biz is concerned.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          The other thing worth noting is the trend toward bigger tires. My Nineties-era cyclocross bikes max out at around 33mm, and my old road-racing bike is capped at 28mm. It’d be nice at times to have the ability to run 38mm, or even 42mm, and in some cases the slightly longer wheelbase of the modern “gravel” bike comes in handy too.

          • khal spencer Says:

            My LaCruz is currently shod with 700-40 and it will go wider. I think I had 45’s on it once. And its about ten years old, plus or minus.

          • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

            I think ‘cross has rules governing tire width to prevent the sport from turning into MTB racing? But don’t forget those old steel road bikes with long reach brakes had room for tires much wider than what became “a thing” in the 80’s when narrower and higher pressures were the rule – thanks to testing using a smooth steel drum. I thought it was bunk from the get-go, my experience with racing motorcycles convinced me you want the biggest, fattest and lowest pressure you can get away with. I’m happy the industry eventually figured this out and decided to make those kinds of tires more widely available and moved away from bikes with just millimeters of clearance for even a 23-25 mm tire.

          • Patrick O'Grady Says:

            Yeah, I think UCI limits tire width to 33mm. USAC may have different standards (or ignore standards entirely) for any event that isn’t a big series or national championship. Incidentally, USAC is sniffing around the gravel gang now.

            When you see the big dogs rocking those skinny tires in abominable conditions, you realize that you can pretty much ride anything anywhere, if you have the stones/ovaries for it. But for most of us, I think, bigger is indeed better. Remember the glorious days of Wolber Cross 28 Extra, Vittoria Mastercross, and Weinmann cantis?

            Weinmann cantis and Vittoria Mastercross tires on a Pinarello cyclocross bike.

            • REMEMBER THOSE FABULOUS NINETIES? My old Pinarello ’cross bike rocked Wolber Cross 28 Extra in the rear, Vittoria Mastercross in the front, Weinmann cantis, Lyotard pedals with Christophe toe clips and Binda straps, Shimano 600 derailleurs, bar-end shifters, and (I think) a 48/38 chainring combo with a 13-26 cogset.

      • SAO’ Says:

        I miss reading Lindsey on a more regular basis. He had the second best TdF live blog out there. Similar format to the LUG coverage, but more Fletch references.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Joe Lindsey is always worth reading. Brent Steelman was on the ground floor of this “all-road” thing in the Nineties with his CC, a cyclocross bike that he billed as a 700c mountain bike. It could take 40mm tires, a double or triple crankset, just about anything you needed to go anywhere you pleased. I had one Back in the Day®, and wish I still did. A friend has it now, back in B-burg.

      Voodoo was another pioneer, with the titanium Loa (had one of those too and never should’ve sold it) and the chromoly Nakisi (which I still have).

      Joe’s right about “gravel bikes” having an effect on how the industry approaches the sport. But it’s a shame it takes the chase group so long to catch the breakaway.

      As regards the fat bike, that was always a niche. Great for snow and sand, if you have either handy. Otherwise, who needs one? The tires cost a ton, the bike weighs a ton, and like that there. It was a fad reminiscent of the cyclocross bike, which was The Next Big Thing® for a while. Everyone and his granny dove into that pie all at once, and there wasn’t enough to go around.

      If you keep a weather eye on Twitter you’ll see a ton of people pimping fat bikes right now. Definitely a seasonal thing, for people who don’t ski or won’t run in winter.

      • SAO’ Says:

        They sold a ton of fat bikes here, but it’s a college town, so … actually, I have no idea what that means. With Trek buying out Lee’s Cyclery and Peloton going out of biz, while next door the local indie seems to be doing ok with a fraction of the inventory, your guess is way better than mine on that one. You see fat bikes all summer downtown at the music fests, but good luck finding one where time or effort is a factor (commuting or training).

    • khal spencer Says:

      I’m still trying to figure out why my Salsa LaCruz isn’t good enough to be a gravel bike.

  4. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Some creative comments and observation here. I always wonder why when I see skinny tires on single track. It takes too long to heal after 70 trips around the sun. I wanted all the traction I could get. That meant 29 inch wheels and 2.3 inch tires with front suspension. Even with that, I scared myself enough last year to finally give up on the single track. I always get testosterone poisoning which causes my brain to overestimate my skills.

    Speaking of creative. Meathead????

    • SAO’ Says:

      Only 55 trips here, but I’m of the mind that airbags ain’t a bad idea. And maybe those padded guard rails they use on Kinder Nite at the bowling alley.

    • DownhillBill Says:

      70 here too, and I feel your pain. Padded guardrails sound like a great idea. I’m also a big advocate of Escher topology in which all roads are downhill in both directions.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Cyclocross didn’t make me a better, more confident mountain biker.

      It did teach me that it’s OK, when things get dicey, to jump off and leg it with the bike over one shoulder.

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