Cast off, matey

The New Albion Privateer, in matte black.

There’s a new ship in the harbor: a New Albion Privateer.

The temptation is to load it down, saddle up, and sail away. But to where?

Lacking a passport, I’m restricted to the lower 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii being something of a long bunny-hop by bike. I don’t think Hans Rey could make either in one go, even if he started with a bean feast, a lit fart, and a tailwind.

Unfortunately, several of my preferred bolt holes are either hot as blazes or actually on fire. And if I leave New Mexico, I face a 14-day quarantine when I return.

Plus, Herself would have to rassle up her own grub in my absence, in addition to working for our living, catering to Miss Mia Sopaipilla, and assisting the assisted-living place with Herself the Elder, who recently took another digger, this time breaking her right wrist.

HtE is issued a fresh 14-day quarantine every time she leaves assisted living to see a sawbones, which is not nearly as much fun as seeing the road unfold before you from the saddle of a brand-new bicycle.

This is a review bike, of course. Merry Sales provided frame, fork, and a big box of bits, but the Great Parts Shortage of 2020 being more or less ongoing, I had to contribute a few items from my personal collection, among them a wheelset, inner tubes, saddle, and brakes.

Between us it made for a pretty tasty build, and I can’t say much more than that until the paying customers get theirs. In the meantime, I’m getting mine.

Still sticking pretty close to home, though. I’m not getting too far away from the mailbox until our ballots show up. That’s a review I can’t wait to write.

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32 Responses to “Cast off, matey”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    That looks like a sharp rig there, matey. And I see from their web site that its available through BTI up here in the People’s Republic. Whatta deal!

    So have you written it up or ridden it yet? And finally, what is the gearchart for that setup? Is than an 11 x 2 with the 50/34 and an 11-34 out back? I don’t think the typical 2×11 setup makes sense for serious touring unless the bike drive train is set up for those giant frisbee cassettes in back.

    Still waiting for delivery on the Litespeed Gravel. Sigh.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The New Albion is a more affordable line than the Soma brand, though Soma is already pretty damn affordable. And yes, BTI is one of their distributors.

      I’ve ridden it, but have yet to write anything definitive; still very much in the note-taking process. Purdy, innit?

      As to gearing, I went with a subcompact setup, which I think is OK for traveling fast and light. The crank is an IRD Defiant 46/30T (172.5mm), with an 11-34T 10-speed cassette (11,13,15,17,19,21,24,27,30,34). Rear derailleur is a long-cage Shimano Deore RD-T610-SGS. The wheels are 700c with 38mm Soma “The Everwear” rubber (by Panaracer).

      It’s the same setup I have on my Soma Saga disc-brake bike and yields a 24.1-inch low end according to Sheldon Brown’s online calculator.

      • khal spencer Says:

        That drive train makes more sense for light touring. Their website only had two cranks, a triple, which I have on the LHT (in my case 48-36-26), and a regular compact crank so I assumed they shipped it with a 50/34. If the derailleur will tolerate it, you can put an 11-36 on the back, which is how my Gravel is supposed to arrive with the same 46/30 front end, for about a 22.5 low gear.

        Still, I am a born-again convert to the Frank Berto liturgy of Really Low Gears on a touring rig, i.e., at least one gear has to have a number lower than twenty gear inches on it. Of course with high zoot tours where some guy in a minivan is carrying all your stuff, that’s irrelevant. Still, having ridden fifty miles into a Long Island headwind and thirty miles through rolling Finger Lake country while experiencing a hard bonk back in the day, low gears are good. Hostess Twinkees in a gas station vending machine, halfway between Ithaca and Elmira, never looked so good.

        I take it New Albion is a line owned by the same folks who make Soma? Or was that just by way of comparison?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Ayuh, Merry Sales offers Soma, New Albion, and Pake, and also carries a wide range of parts and accessories. Good people. We’ve worked together on several bikes now — four Somas (two Sagas, two Double Crosses) and the New Albion Privateer. Stan Pun and the gang are always informed and helpful, even when their state is on fire.

        My rim-brake Saga has a triple, a Deore long-cage, and a nine-speed 11-32 for a low end of 20.5 gear inches, so that’s my loaded-touring bike. That cassette was what was on hand at the time; when I replace the chain and cassette I’ll go to a 11-34T or 36T for the extry oh-this-sucks gear.

        • khal spencer Says:

          My Long Haul Trucker lowest gear combo comes in just under 20 gear inches in present form and somewhere I have a 24t granny ring if I ever did think of touring on it, for 18.4 gear inches. The CAAD-5 with that ancient XTR rear derailleur can handle a 34t largest cog for a 1:1 front to back ratio, but I finally dropped enough lard from around the middle to not need to do that bad thing. Getting old is such fun.But maybe it beats the alternative.

          I was little surprised that the privateer frame didn’t have a disk brake option but maybe that is the point, in keeping costs down. No one needs to fiddle around with those extra welded on mounting tabs. KISS.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          Stan at Merry tells me that the New Albion Privateer and the Soma Pescadero are their last rim-brake models. That’s why I was interested in ’em. You can get a disc-brake bike anywhere. And not everybody wants or needs one.

          I originally wanted to review the Pescadero, but they were fresh out, with no stock anticipated until November or December.

          If I were in the market for a new mountain bike I’d be in a world of hurt. Imagine trying to find a rigid rim-brake 29er in this day and age. Your choices are (a) garage sale and (2) custom.

          • khal spencer Says:

            After grinding away at bicycle rims on my old Trek mountainbike, I’m a convert to disks for that application. For skinny tire road use, I think they are generally a solution in search of a problem. For loaded touring or tandems, I think disks make sense in terms of braking power and not heating up the rims. Trying to stop our Co Motion Primera on a long downhill with rim V brakes is an exercise in religious conversion and an occasional change of bike shorts.

            For simplicity and elegance, nothing beats a pretty set of rim brakes.

  2. katholoch Says:

    Interesting read on Merry Sales. Thank you. As for ideas on trips you can take that meet your restrictive criteria: 1) Ride to Santa Fe and take the Roadrunner back to ABQ; or if you have a tent and can bring sandwiches how about 2) the Cabezon overnighter https://bikepacking.com/routes/cabezon-peak-overnighter/; or 3) Caja del Rio https://bikepacking.com/routes/caja-del-rio/

    Good time of the year for Cabezon. Winds have died down and threat of rain less. That area is pretty cool.

    OR, how about a mini Route 66 tour as day rides from ABQ and then take the car to do day segments? Adventure can be had within your own bubble pretty easily.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Or he could ride up to Fanta Se and then back again the next day. We do have a guest room…..albeit La Casa de Fanta Se ain’t holding a candle to El Rancho Pendejo as far as its vastness under the roof is concerned.

    • khal spencer Says:

      Hey, Kath, the Roadrunner is grounded right now due to the pandemic.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Oops, sorry. Its the RailRunner that is grounded.

        • katholoch Says:

          Shoot, there goes that idea. Then a ride there and back. It is downhill to ABQ anyway!

          • khal spencer Says:

            I’m waiting for them to start the trains again. I see so many cyclists not even think to look up and down the tracks to see if there is a train when crossing on the Rail Trail, since right now there is no train. Once they start running, what can possibly go wrong?

          • Patrick O'Grady Says:

            If you take NM 14 it’s uphill in both directions. Into a headwind.

          • khal spencer Says:

            Its always looked to me that to bike to Fanta Se from Albuquerque or vice versa you either have to ride the I-25 or take NM14 all the way past the Duke City to Tijeras and then back up again. And indeed, either means going into the Rio Grande Rift and back out again. I’m not sure what the top elevation of NM 14 is behind Sandia Pk but San Antonito is almost seven thousand feet like Santa Fe. The road drops below 6k and then back up to 7k. So lotsa climbing.

          • khal spencer Says:

            Here is the route: 70 miles and several thousand feet.

          • Patrick O'Grady Says:

            Here’s what the ride to Madrid looks like from the Four Hills Smith’s (Tramway and Central), 4.5 miles from El Rancho Pendejo, courtesy of the New Mexico Touring Society.

            There’s just a shit-ton of climbing. You gain 850 feet between the Four Hills Smith’s and Tijeras. A bunch more going through Cedar Crest to the Triangle. And Lord, it just keeps on a-comin’, with a side of wind, no water, and even less rideable shoulder.

            I-25 might be preferable. You can work some stretches of frontage road in between bouts of actual interstate. But I’ve ridden interstates before, and they’re just not that much fun. Had a trucker try to pick me off once on I-25 between Pee-ebb-blow and Piñon up in Colorado.

            Here in New Mexico, La Bajada, just south of the rest area outside Fanta Se, is a friggin’ mess, especially if you’re descending it. I could swear the sumbitch hasn’t been repaired, or even swept, since I was racing for Sangre de Cristos Cycling Club back in 1990.

          • khal spencer Says:

            The Santa Fe Century used to have a segment on the 50 mile half century route that went from Eldorado back to Santa Fe on the Interstate. Although the shoulder was wide up there, it was awful riding. I preferred Old Las Vegas Highway, cars and narrow shoulders and all.

          • katholoch Says:

            Okay, everything you guys are saying makes total sense and reminds me why I only mountain biked when I lived in ABQ. However, how about this route? Couple extra miles, but not that much climbing.

            Plus you can use the new bike path from Lamy to Santa Fe.

          • Patrick O'Grady Says:

            Hm, interesting option there. I haven’t been on NM 41 for years. I used it to get to the Record Challenge Time Trial in Moriarty Back in the Day®.

            One year, either for the Challenge or for the state ITT championships, we had to relocate from the original course south of I-40 to a section north of it. More twists and turns, less shoulder, a skosh more up and down, as I recall. It’d be interesting to have a look-see.

            Another possibility: Back-door the Frost Road Frenzy. I-40 frontage to Sedillo Hill Road and thence NE to Frost Road/Kings Highway to Stanley, north on NM 41, and the rest as you describe.

  3. Pat O’Brien Says:

    I’m guessing IRD 30/46 compact front and 11/34 cassette. I like that stem! SOMA has some pretty nice bits and pieces on their site.

  4. SAO' Says:

    Can’t remember if I passed along the link … article in my news feed about used “certified” used bikes going for more than original list. These really are odd times.

    I was looking at New Albion the other day. Says they carry 3 frames and 2 are discontinued. Wonder if that’s a normal transition thing, or supply can’t keep up? Ball can’t stamp aluminum cans to keep up with beer sales.

    Seems like everyone all summer was back-ordered through October. Now that October is around the corner …

  5. SAO' Says:

    Broken bones are bad enough, twice as bad when they cut your manual dexterity in half, and double that again when you get 14 days in the penalty box on top of everything else. Pass along to HtE that the peanut gallery is rooting for an expedited mend.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Will do, and thanks. The wrist injury came almost exactly one year after she broke both arms in a fall at her Florida apartment, so this ain’t her first rodeo.

      The Bug® does greatly complicate matters, however.

  6. Josh Sanders Says:

    That’s a great article. Definitely need so stay close to your mailbox for that important review. Voting becomes more and more important as time goes on

  7. khal spencer Says:

    Tomorrow is the last day of summer. Equinox hits at 0730 on Tuesday. Get a ride in, somewhere, somehow, and talk about it. Just for shits and grins!

    • Shawn Says:

      It’s easy to forget about the Equinox living down south which I have done (forgot the Equinox). Up north in the far north, Equinox is something you always remember – The days are losing light at the fastest rate. Golden Birch trees, a cold nip to the air and great Fall riding.

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