Seeking higher ground

Looking southward from a parking lot.

I headed for the hills yesterday.

Unlike our brethren and sisthren in Michigan I was not dodging floodwaters (our man Herb reports that he is high and dry). I just wanted to get out of the house and sit in the shade awhile, chatting amiably with the voices in my head.

La Cueva Picnic Site is a good spot for this sort of thing. It’s close to El Rancho Pendejo, and easily reached by bike, if you don’t mind that final mile. It rises about 367 vertical feet on beat-to-hell chipseal, so it’s not as challenging as the private road leading to our old place outside Weirdcliffe, which was a hair longer, a bit steeper (430-odd vertical feet), and unpaved.

One of the CCC-built stone structures at La Cueva.

But a fella wants a nice low gear if he’s to enjoy the grind, so I was aboard the canti’-equipped Soma Saga, stripped of racks and fenders. When it’s just a bicycle instead of an RV it slims down nicely, all the way to 27.8 pounds. And with a low end of 20.5 gear inches even a stove-up auld fella can do the deed.

Once you’re up there you have a fine view of the Greater Duke City Metropolitan Area. And when you get tired of that you can inspect some Civilian Conservation Corps projects from the Thirties.

Remember those fabulous Thirties? They’re making something of a comeback, only without the public works/resource protection bits.

Maybe it was that the gov’ has relaxed restrictions somewhat, or that the Memorial Day weekend was approaching, but there was almost nobody up there, which I consider ideal. There’s nothing wrong with other people that a certain degree of distance can’t resolve.

That leetle green stripe down there is the Rio.

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21 Responses to “Seeking higher ground”

  1. Kathleen T Holoch Says:

    Ah, your photos from the foothills always take me back to the thing I liked best about ABQ.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It is pretty up there. I was just out riding the old DBR ti’ mountain bike south and east of the Menaul trailhead. Then I swung north and did a quick pass up the Michial Emery/Bear Canyon trail and back to the rancheroo.

      A lot more people out than I expected for a Thursday, even one preceding a holiday weekend.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Nice pix, and a great place to chill. Soma Saga. Simply an amazing bicycle.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thankee, matey. The Saga is a damn fine bike, even with the heavy touring wheels. I have a lighter set going unused … I may drop a cassette and some tires onto those dudes for casual cycling. A little less rotating weight might be nice for pitches like this one.

      Back up to the main vault toilets from the far parking lot.

  3. Dale Says:

    Higher Ground

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      “Powers keep on lyin’ / While your people keep on dyin’.” Little Stevie speaks the truth.

      • Dale Says:

        “Little Stevie speaks the truth.” , and he was blind from birth as far as I know. Some people just have the juice.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        He wrote and recorded the song in 3 hours. He played all the instruments on all the tracks. Amazing shit. The lyrics of that song, and all songs are what hook me.

        “If I never get to heaven, I don’t care.
        Been down to the crossroads, ain’t no devil down there.” Keb Mo – Muddy Water

        “So, if you’re walking down the street some time
        and see some hollow ancient eyes
        don’t just pass them by and stare
        as if you didn’t care, say hello in there.
        Hello” John Prine – Hello In There

      • JD Says:

        Truly a prodigy!!

  4. khal spencer Says:


  5. BruceM Says:

    Patrick, Wish I still lived in White Rock. I could get you to explain bicycles to me. They all look alike to me. I did stumbled upon a review on the Soma Saga in Adventure Cyclist written by one Patrick O’Grady. May 2015. What’s so special about Soma Saga? I know, RTDR!

  6. B Lester Says:

    Okay, my mathematicing ain’t the best (even though I kinda do it for a living), but what gear combo are you running to get 20.5 gear inches?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I use Sheldon Brown’s Bicycle Gear Calculator for most bikes, though I have a couple others for weirdo setups.

      In this instance, we’re talking a 700c wheel with 38mm rubber (38-622), 172.5mm crank length, chainrings of 48/36/24, and a 9-speed, 11-32 Shimano HG50 cassette (11,12,14,16,18,21,24,28,32T). Sheldon’s leetle calculator gives me 20.5 GI in the 24×32.

      Sheldon isn’t always with us when it comes to some of the new oddball wheel/tire sizes, in which case I go to this calculator, which is a bit more fiddly.

      Frankly, I’ve never been much interested in gear inches. I’ve always thought in terms of teeth. So, Back in the Day® I raced the road with 52/42T chainrings and 12-21/23T freewheel/cassette (but time-trialed in something fiercer, like 12-19). For hills I used a 12-25.

      When 53/39T became all the rage for chainrings, I went that route, and abandoned the 12-21 for an 11-23.

      Don’t get me started on all the weirdo combos I’ve used for cyclocross. I think I eventually settled on 46/34 and 11-28 for that action.

      Mavic Comete with corncob

      Check out the corncob on that bad boy!

      • B Lester Says:

        Corncob indeed.

        It’s the 24 in front that does it. I’ve got (I think) a 22 on my 26″ mountain bike. Can just about climb trees with that sumbitch. It’s an old Litespeed hardtail with a SID fork, kinda sorta similar to your DBR Ti.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I had a 22T granny on an MTB once … can’t remember which. That is a really useful chainring. Zip right up a telephone pole if a bear is chasing you.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      OK, Patrick. I’ll bite. Do you still have that wheel in the pic above?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        O, indeed. I got that Mavic Comete disc with a Pinarello Prologo TT that I bought from the Denver Spoke a thousand years ago. Still have the frameset, too, but various bits have gone missing.

        Looks pretty good on the Steelman TT bike, doesn’t it?

        Steelman TT bike

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Oy veh. Yea, it looks good! Looking at those chainrings makes my knees hurt.

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