The voice of the Wet Mountain Valley?

The Wet Mountain Valley with the Sangre de Cristos for backdrop.
| Photo: Hal Walter

I’ve gotten in the habit of listening to Desert Oracle Radio on Saturday mornings, while I inhale a few cups of java with one bleary eye half-focused on whatever news broke while I was bagging Zs.

So naturally I thought it was an acid flashback this morning when Ken Layne mentioned Westcliffe while running down a long list of places recommended to him for a Western hideout come August, when even the most hardened Mojave Desert rat starts to feel painted in not enough sauce but laid out on the grill anyway, working up a nice blackened crust.

He got a hundred or so suggestions, and Westcliffe, a.k.a. Weirdcliffe, was right there in the mix, rubbing shoulders with Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Salida, and any number of other places with better PR.

Someone even shilled for Albuquerque. Probably some flack at USA Cycling, which will be bringing its 2021 Masters Road National Championships to the vicinity Aug. 5-8. I don’t think any of their geezers will be zipping up the jerseys and fretting about frostbite when the road race tackles Heartbreak Hill.

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15 Responses to “The voice of the Wet Mountain Valley?”

  1. Pat O’Brien Says:

    He should rent a cabin for a month at the KOA right off I-40 by Williams, AZ and take a mountain bike. Hundreds of miles of FS road and trails to explore in those parts.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I think our man is looking for a quiet little mountain town, walkable, interesting bars and beaneries, p’raps a spot suitable for a show or two. Durango seemed to be heading his short list.

      But that KOA might be just the thing for the rest of us. If it’s not full to bursting with all the new RVers the press keeps yammering about. I’m almost tempted to take a short Subaru expedition along I-40 just to see what I can see.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        I’ll send you some pix from our 4 trips up there. There were a few years ago, so the old saw about “your milage may vary” comes in to play. Our first ride was from the KOA to Dogtown Lake campground and return, which is about 20 miles if I remember. Just beautiful dirt roads through the pines that occasionally crossed big meadows. Watched a shepherd work a large herb of sheep with 3 Border Collies. Fascinating! And I got to race an Amtrak train with people egging me on from the windows.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Y’know, I have driven past that Williams KOA about 3,298,395 times and I don’t believe I ever stopped there. Though I often kipped in the back of one truck or another at rest areas around Flagstaff and Meteor Crater.

        I’ve done a little cycling around Flag’, but not a lot. The Drunkcyclist boyos are/were based there. I think a few have scattered, but Big Jonny is still there.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Welp, so much for Williams. Housing project and theme park off the port bow, cap’n!

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Good friend of mine moved from Los Alamos to Williams. I keep meaning to visit but have not.

    So Patrick, watabout Heartbreak Hill? Is it really a bitch?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s been a good long while since I rode it, K. I seem to remember it being about a mile of 12 percent, so about like the worst stretch of The Wall on the ski-basin climb?

      First time I did it back in the late Eighties, if memory serves, I was riding my whippy old Trek 560, and it kept autoshifting on me from the 21T to the 19T. That was not fun. It got a bit easier when I got a stiffer bike with a 39×23 low end. In my present state of collapse I might use the 30×34, or (gasp) a triple. The Saga has a 20-inch low end, and I ain’t racing anybody on it. …

      • Shawn Says:

        21T and 19T. Using that almost straight block to ride the hills huh? Back when all of us with more machismo than legs rode out of the saddle a lot. What’s that? I do that now? Well, I still need to show the babes that I’m macho. Even the ones who are riding past me going up the hill.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I was a slow learner. In Colorado we were all doing 52/42 chainrings and (I think) 12-21 freewheels/cassettes. Occasionally we’d go to the 23T for climbs. It wasn’t until I moved to hilly New Mexico that I discovered the joy of the 39T chainring and, occasionally, the 25T cog.

        These days I favor 46/30 chainrings and at least a 32T in the back end, though I’m stuck with 28T on a couple bikes with Shimano 600/Ultegra rear derailleurs. Life is suffering, said the Buddha, who rode a straight block everywhere.

        • Herb from Michigan Says:

          I am still having nightmares about a Regina straight block freewheel that wouldn’t come off the rear wheel of my Falcon Pro. Those goddamn freewheels either froze up, developed severe play or worse, the removal tool would strip out the notches.I horsed up hill and dale until I finally hammered the sumbitch off the Campy hub and installed a SunTour 13-21. Mated to the 44 inner, I could climb! Nowadays with that set up I couldn’t get out of my driveway!

          • Shawn Says:

            That’s right! I think I recall hammering one of the notch splines on a freewheel to get it off. That’s a part of bike technology that I’m happy to see we’ve left behind in the old vintage bin.

            As for the low gearing (chainrings)m wasn’t T. Hamilton, uh, I mean “TPDTMOHWNSNBM”, that popularized the use of a 50/34 setup during the TDF?

            *The Past Doping Team Member of He Who’s Name Shall Not Be Mentioned”

          • Patrick O'Grady Says:

            My old DBR mountain bike came with Hügi hubs, which have been great — still spinning after 26 years, now laced to 700c Mavic Open Pros. But that aluminum freehub body has not aged well. Last time I tried to remove its 9-speed SRAM cassette it took a little elbow grease and a whole lot of bad language. The splines were all notched and otherwise beat to shit.

            I thought about having a go at filing them down, but didn’t have any suitable files, so since the front hub needed a rebuild anyway I hauled the wheels down to Two Wheel Drive and they squared ’em away for me. The next cassette I slip onto that bad boy will probably stay there forever, though.

  3. TBK Says:

    go for it

  4. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Wish we had a “Wet Mountain Valley” around Globe, Arizona. Two rapidly growing fires SE and SW of Globe. There are over 100,000 acres burned so far. Inciweb has the details.

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