Hit the road, Jack

A few more days like this and the trails will look more like trails
and less like muddy creeks.

It’s hard to believe, but today’s outing was my first road ride of the new year.

Oh, sure, I’ve been riding the road, but on a cyclocross bike, or a gravel bike, and then only to get to the dirt, where the fun is.

But the trails have gotten pretty gooey lately, and with the sun peeking out and the temps inching up I’d just as soon not add my 33mm scrawl to the graffiti being carved into Mother Earth. Thus, today, the road.

In other news, my man Hal Walter is talking about pulling together another e-book with the tentative title of “American Flats,” a reference to a section of the World Championship Pack-Burro Race out of Fairplay. More as I hear it.

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59 Responses to “Hit the road, Jack”

  1. Libby Says:

    Wow, that sky! Nice day!

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Test rode a Topstone 105 in alloy today. Nice ride. Still not sure its better than my La Cruz. Gotta call you and discuss at some point.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I was pretty impressed with the thing, save for flat repair. Death to all tubeless tires and the rims they ride on. I piss on the technology from a considerable height.

      At one point I tried to swap the OEM tires for a set I thought might be a little easier to get on and off, but failed utterly. Holy hell, was that rear tire on there. I gave up ’cause I could tell I was getting close to the point at which I would drag the wheel out into the arroyo behind the house and start shooting at it.

      • khal spencer Says:

        The Cannonball was quick and very stiff and has a similar geometry to my Salsa. My LaCruz is sprightly but has some compliance.Plus, I get to mount tires without shooting the bike. And for some reason, I like traditionally shaped bike tubes. Not sure.

        • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

          Khal – Reading your review I wonder what you’re not sure about? But when I read “quick” I think nervous and “stiff” means it’ll beat the crap out of you. Add in the awful tubeless setup that PO’G rants about and it seems clear to me this should be a pass rather than play?

          • khal spencer Says:

            I have owned several aluminum Cannondales, but all road bikes. Some of them were so non-compliant I nicknamed them “old boneshaker”. Putting deep dish paired spoke wheels on the CAAD 5 makes it almost unrideable except on ideal surfaces. But O’G had given the Topstone bike a good review as far as actually being comfy on trails. With the 700-38’s it did take the edge off.

            My main issue is that I am getting to the point of having to do some major upgrades on the LaCruz. I’m not happy with the gearing and so am thinking of a subcompact crank. The Ultegra shifters are getting worn and I recently had to comb the catacombs for a used brifter. The new Shimano STI is not compatible with the old.

            If I can find new old stock, I can do all the upgrades for less than the current price of the Topstone, which is on sale here but the Topstone is all new stuff and a the gearing is almost exactly what I want. What bugged me the most was the tube shapes. Kinda clunky. The tough tire repair would be a deal breaker too. I’ve had enough trouble with those Schwalbes and I don’t want to scare the neighbors by throwing the wheel in an arroyo and shooting it.

        • Pat O’Brien Says:

          Just read your Topstone review. Well done, again. There hasn’t been an aluminum bike in the garage in over 20 years. And you all know my answer for puncture protection. I have two friends with tubeless tires. Nothing but trouble, but they won’t give up on them. The things are not ready for prime time.

          • khal spencer Says:

            The same issue of Adventure reviewed some gizmo put out by Specialized that is basically a high volume air blaster that you pump up with a traditional floor pump. Then you use the high volume blaster give you that high volume boost you need to seat the beads on a tubeless tire, in a matter similar to watching a mechanic mount a car or motorcycle tubeless tire. If you need all that crap just to put a tire on a bicycle, its a problem.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I actually enjoyed riding the Topstone 105, though I’m not a fan of aluminum frames and oddball tube shapes.

        That said, I also liked the Felt V100, which was another aluminum weirdo.

        The Topstone 105 was great on the foothills trails, which are my short-notice getaway from the office. Only in a couple instances, mostly on heavily washboarded singletrack, did I get that jackboot-up-the-hole feeling from the bike. And Shimano 105 may be my new favorite group, replacing the pricier Ultegra.

        But this inexorable march toward tubeless in everything is even dumber than disc brakes in everything. How much more of a pain in the ass do we want to make basic bicycle maintenance?

        • Pat O'Brien Says:

          105 has always been my favorite road group. You can get prettier and a little lighter with Ultegra, but I couldn’t tell the difference in function after owning both for years. Ultegra on a C’Dale Road Warrior 2000 and 105 on a steel Specialized Allez, a Trek Portland, and my Soma. Speaking of aluminum, that C’Dale was stiff, fast and fit me well, but every little bump transmitted into the bars and saddle. Hard to describe, but the word buzz comes to mind. It’s hard to fault Deore LX or XT as well.

          “If you have heard this story before, don’t stop me. I’d like to hear it again.” Groucho

  3. Herb from Michigan Says:

    All this talk of “ throwing the wheel in an arroyo and shooting it.” has really got me worked up. What if I don’t have an arroyo? And what would be the proper firearm for dispatching the miscreant wheel? Would clubbing the wheel with an axe suffice? Does the wheel get to say any last words?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Beating the mortal shit out of the wheel with a thighbone a la “2001: A Space Odyssey” (insert ominous hum from monolith here) would be a good deal more satisfying than simply pulling a trigger, ook ook ook chee chee chee. …

      • JD Dallager Says:

        Gotta jump in here on the 2001: A Space Odyssey comment to ask what you all think the monolith was/contained/did. Knowledge from a more advanced civilization that was transferable? Knowledge/wisdom that we couldn’t access (think finding a thumb drive that contains infinite knowledge, but we can’t produce the device to read it)? Imprinting by a “superior species” as part of an “experiment” with Earthforms? Collection of data on an “inferior” Earthforms? Etc.

        Next up: What is the meaning of life????

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          1. It was the iPhone 666.

          2. 42.

          2a. Also, a really funny Monty Python movie directed by the late Terry Jones.

        • David Rees Says:

          Take your pick I think JD- all of ’em work, at some level. I’ve watched this film probably 50 times – including my first viewing of it on Psilocybin in Isla Vista when the film came out – and I don’t think there’s a definitive answer. Indeed, there is no answer.

          • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

            The meaning of life? I coined this phrase many years ago and (no joke) have recently seen a photo of it tattooed onto someone’s leg (not mine!):
            “Pedala forte, mangia bene!” It’s Italian for “ride hard (or strong, etc.) eat well.”
            What else is there in life?

          • Patrick O'Grady Says:

            I watched “2001” a few dozen times, with various chemical assistants and without, and I think it boils down to this:

            God was lonely and wanted company, but She* knew those monkeys were gonna be trouble. So She sent ’em the jumbo iPhone, rang ’em up, and said, “You can stay down there in the minors jerking off or you can step up to The Show and play with the big boys. Mind the toys, though. They make excellent servants but poor masters.”

            * The role of God is played by Susan Sarandon. Monkeys include Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins. Wait a minute … I’m thinking of “Bull Durham.” Never mind. …

    • khal spencer Says:

      I think clubbing with an axe or perhaps an aluminum bat would be more satisfying and less likely to violate local firearms discharge ordinances.

      I was in the middle of a badly managed divorce back in the 1980’s. On one particular bad mental health day on campus after an intramural softball game, I took an aluminum bat to a steel bookcase. Around the corner came a campus security guard. I just smiled and said “oh, sorry, don’t mind me. I’m just having a bad day”. He just smiled and did a Sgt. Schultz: “I see nothing, I was not here, I didn’t even show up for work this morning…”

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

  4. Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

    Khal – is this Santa Cruz of while you speak made of steel? I’m of the mind these days a steel bike that you like that is the correct size should be kept forever. My current shopping bike’s aluminum but it’s rarely a bike I take out for fun or enjoyment. When it’s time for that the lively ride of steel is my overwhelming choice after trying bikes made with other materials over the years.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      What he said. I have not owned a titanium bike, but I no longer count grams. And, I live in the high desert where rust is not a problem. SOMA is now coating their frames on the inside, so no Framesaver required.

      • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

        I love that rationalization for a titanium bike – that it will never rust? C’mon, when’s the last time you had, saw or heard about a steel bike going to the scrapyard because of rust? Unless you ride ’em in the sea or they have no drain in the BB shell and you wash’ em all the time and/or ride ’em in the rain – it’s not an issue. Spraying some stuff around inside when you first put ’em together pretty much makes it impossible, based on my experience.

    • khal spencer Says:

      This one. Yes steel. In this pic it has 700-32 Richey Cross Pros (or something like that) on it. Right now I’m running Donnelly 700-40’s. When we lived in BombTown it was set up as a commuter.

  5. JD Dallager Says:

    Wow! Steel, fenders, a luggage rack, and (wait for it) disc brakes? A new category: Retro-Avant-Garde? Contempo-Retro? (Trademarked)
    And I always was told nostalgia is a poor business strategy …. except in fashion, music, and human behavior.

    “History doesn’t repeat itself; but it often rhymes” (Mark Twain).

  6. B Lester Says:

    I recently picked up a used flat bar road bike with Ultegra “tubeless ready” wheels. I’ve got conventional clinchers on them, with no plans to do otherwise. What is the alleged “advantage” to tubeless?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      As I understand it, the advantage of tubeless is being able to run lower tire pressures in the quest for some mythical improvement in “ride quality.”

      That, and the chance to brush up on your profanity when you flat.

  7. SAO' Says:

    That one is Pulitzer-worthy.

  8. SAO' Says:

    Did Hal ever post the back story as to how Harrison’s Apple keynote vid came to happen?

  9. khal spencer Says:

    Well, I did my 66 km today in honor of another lap around the sun. Actually ended up with 67 so I can bank one for next year.

    Man, those hills keep getting steeper. That’s the trouble with living in an area that is tectonically active. Or is it just me getting old?

  10. JD Dallager Says:

    49 responses! What’s the record PO’G??

  11. Pat O'Brien Says:

  12. khal spencer Says:

    Roy Orbison. Oh man, that calls for the Travelling Wilburys.

  13. Hurben Says:

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