Archive for the ‘Adventure Cyclist’ Category

Where’s my gold watch?

April 18, 2019

Bagged and tagged: the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650.

Yesterday I drew the May cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Today I wrapped a video for Adventure Cyclist.

And now, as El Rancho Pendejo seems to be remarkably free of bikes needing review, it seems I don’t have any paying work to do for a month, when the next BRAIN ’toon is due.

That ain’t a job. That’s a hobby.

Shit. I think I’m retired.

Cool cats

April 4, 2019

Mister Jones and me, stumbling through the barrio.

Oof. The allergies are fierce. I slept OK last night, thanks to a hit of Benadryl, but the previous night I woke up at midnight with my nose running like a Democrat after the White House.

Snorting and snuffling like a hog hunting truffles, I had to relocate to the spare bedroom so that Herself could bag the Z’s she needs to help Darth Goodhair run the Energy Department.

And I felt like hammered shit most of yesterday, so none of the ol’ bikey ridey for Your Humble Narrator. In fact, I suspect that a two-hour trail ride through the junipers may have triggered the late-night snotlocker meltdown.

But we were talking about cool cats, and so here’s the tale of a Scottish cycle tourist who made a new friend on his two-wheeled trip around the world.

I suggested a global bicycle tour to Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) and his adjutant, Miss Mia Sopaipilla, and they told me I could fuck right off with that shit and bring them something to delicious to eat at once, if not sooner.

Also, here’s Marc Maron’s interview with T Bone Burnett, a very cool cat indeed who’s taking a hiatus from production to release his first album in 11 years, “The Invisible Light.”

Burnett’s chat with Maron covers a lot of waterfront, from the Beat Generation to Jackson Pollock, Jimmie Rodgers to “True Detective.” Did you know that Robert Johnson’s real name was Dusty Spencer? Or that the blues came from Texas? That mariachi music comes from the French?

Me neither. Maybe it’s the Benadryl talking. Just what I need, another voice in my head.

Stand down

March 23, 2019

His Excellency scans The Compound for unauthorized personnel.

Huh. I’ve actually managed to accomplish a few things lately. Go figure.

My April cartoon has been delivered to BRAIN. And my review of the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650 — print version and its two-minute video teaser — is all but complete; I’m just waiting for some Salsoid to answer a couple of questions about spec.

Unzip over to Voler to join the team! Use the Secret Code (OLDGUYS15) to get 15% off your purchase. And no, goddamnit, for the last time, it does not come with fries!

Two other review bikes have been shipped back to their respective motherships, greatly enhancing velocipede-storage capacity in the garage.

Sue Barue, The Fearsome Furster, has passed her annual checkup and had a brace of new window gussets installed, so maybe I’ll be able to hear the stereo again.

The cats have been given a vigorous spring airing. Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) inspected the perimeter yesterday and collected samples of this year’s grass crop for scientific analysis, the results of which were displayed on the living-room carpet this morning. Miss Mia Sopaipilla took up her station in the clothes dryer, and reported that for reasons unknown the lint filter seems to be full of cat hair.

And now I have exactly fuck-all to do. Nobody’s sending me to Taiwan, or Sea Otter, I won’t have a cartoon due until mid-April, and I’m fresh out of review bikes.

So I guess I’ll just have to ride one of my own. Sucks to be me.

Jump-starting spring

March 19, 2019

Rocking out on the trails around Elena Gallegos
with the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650.

Spring may not officially begin until tomorrow, but I got the drop on the sonofabitch yesterday.

The only reason I was wearing long sleeves and knickers was for visual continuity (yep, shooting video for Adventure Cyclist again).

After the ride I mowed the lawn for the first time this year, and then watered.

Today, more video, this time with the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650 rigged for light bikepacking. Extremely light. You know, the kind where you plan to make it to the Hilton but also recall the Yiddish proverb, “Man plans, God laughs.”

 

Life is a Journeyman

March 16, 2019

Salsa with geezer instead of chips.

As you know, God rides steel, or titanium (if He can get a bro’ deal from Moots, which is by no means a sure thing). And what God rides is good enough for me.

But the latest review bike here in Dog Country is aluminum, both frame and fork. And thus in the pursuit of Fairness and Objectivity I must keep my metallurgical biases chained up in the attic.

That is, I would, if we had an attic. Christ, there’s not even a basement in this fauxdobe rancheroo.

The Salsa Journeyman Claris 650, up against The Wall of Science.

Just as well, too. I’d probably tumble down the stairs and break a hip, and Herself would have me put down, find some nice young fella with wavy hair and a future instead of stubbly scalp and a past. Or maybe she’d just keep me down there. Lob a sack of Taco Bell down the stairs now and then, and a plastic bucket with a roll of single-ply. It’s not like I don’t have it coming.

Anyway, the bike. It’s the latest update to the low end of Salsa’s all-road, gravel and light-touring Journeyman series, the Claris 650. And it’s not only aluminum, it’s got them funny-size tires, whatchacallem, your 650b, or 27.5, neither fish nor fowl. And more holes than Albert Hall! You can plug pert’ near anything into the sumbitch except for maybe a Fender Stratocaster. And I’d try it, if someone at Fender would just loan me a Strat’ to review.

The Journeyman Claris 650 rolls with a manly eight-speed drivetrain, so it has that going for it, which is nice. None of your one-by-whatever setups with a cassette that has more teeth than a tour bus full of Osmonds.

Charlie Ervin down at Two Wheel Drive asked me if I try to put myself in the mindset of a customer shopping for a sub-$1,000 bike when I’m reviewing one and I said hell yes. I am a Man of the People, though I notice that most of ’em don’t pick up when I call.

Especially the ones with the $8,000 titanium bikes that desperately need reviewing, and by me, right now, goddamnit. Dern Caller ID anyhow.

True grit: Rooster Cogsburn squints into the wind

March 9, 2019

“OK, try to make me look good here, you hack.”

It was so bloody windy here yesterday that when I shifted gears, in that split-second when the chain was between cogs, I could feel myself shedding forward momentum.

“Lights, camera, action!”

Happily, I was riding mostly to shoot video for another Adventure Cyclist “Quick Spin,” which meant I spent as much time off the bike, playing director and cameraman, as I did on the bike as the “talent.” The wind’s not so much of an issue when you’re jogging between takes from camera to bike and back again.

The Air Quality Division’s health alerts over airborne dust are another matter entirely. But I’ve decided to think of those as a spa treatment. A free skin peel.

These trails are just south and east of El Rancho Pendejo, and if traffic’s light on Tramway it’s easy to forget there’s a minor metropolitan area right next door — so much so that I often don’t notice the constant low-level background hum of infernal combustion until I get home and start editing the video.

I’d yell “Quiet on the set!” but it’s pointless. Everyone’s wearing earbuds and/or has the windows rolled up.

 

Vidiot at ‘work’

March 5, 2019

A man, a touring bike, and a deadline.

Have you ever noticed that whenever it’s a beautiful day, you have chores that need doing?

Happily, a fair amount of my chores today involved being outside with someone else’s bicycle.

I was dicking around with a video project yesterday, and it was not going at all well, when it struck me that I hadn’t nailed down a video review of the Jamis Aurora Elite for Adventure Cyclist. The print review will be in April’s edition.

Oopsie.

So out I went, me and my GoPro, and you would not believe how long it takes some people to come up with two minutes of footage. I certainly didn’t believe it. Jaysis. The Universe and everything in it were in cahoots against me. Allergies certainly didn’t help. They had me by the brain stem with a downhill pull.

Still, I was riding a bike in the sunshine for a couple hours, kinda, sorta, so I have nothing to complain about. Hah. As if that ever stopped me.

The Element of surprise

February 27, 2019

’83 in stereo.

Keep on truckin’? Nope.

I had four of them once, up in Weirdcliffe, all Toyotas — two 1983 longbeds, a 1998 Tacoma and a 1978 Chinook pop-top camper.

But I gradually untrucked myself and now my only four-wheeler is the Fearsome Furster, a 2005 Subaru Forester XS with 134,000 miles on the odometer.

It’s a midget SUV, reliable, unremarkable, anonymous. Decent fuel economy. Easy to lose in a parking lot full of trucks. Hard to sleep in.

That’s why the Honda Element caught my eye, and kept it. It’s a car, it’s a truck, it’s an RV for people who don’t like RVs (even a 1978 Toyota Chinook pop-top).

And I almost bought one once. OK, twice.

I talk about this and other things on this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch. A tip of the Mad Dog trucker’s cap goes out to Ursa Minor Vehicles and Ralph Spoilsport Motors, the world’s largest new used and used new automobile dealership, Ralph Spoilsport Motors, here in the City of Emphysema. I can’t wait to get away from it all.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited using Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro, adding audio acquired via Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack (no profit was taken in a casual approach to copyright). Speaking of which, that’s the late Chris Farley as motivational speaker Matt Foley saving some kids from winding up 35 years old, thrice divorced, and streaming “Saturday Night Live” in a van down by the river. The barking dog, speeding auto and background music were liberated from Apple’s iMovie audio library. The atomic wedgie is courtesy of cognitu perceptu at Freesound.org. That car starting is the Fearsome Furster its own bad self; the radio is tuned to KUNM-FM and “Performance Today,” specifically “The Lark Ascending,” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, as performed by Nurit Bar-Josef. And finally, “Ka-Ching” is performed by the one and only Herself.

Prime time is on trails, not TV

February 6, 2019

The February wind was making the clouds skate around all over the sky yesterday.

The State of the Union (El Rancho Pendejo Edition) is as follows:

Herself is now working 10 hours a day, four days a week, so as to have a three-day weekend each and every week.

I am working not quite so much, my career having developed a slow leak at the potholed intersection of Bicycle and Journalism.

Trail time: When the bike is leaning up against the rock I’m probably not going to fall off of it.

I have a cartoon to draw for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, and a review to finish for Adventure Cyclist, and beyond that it’s anybody’s guess. Terra incognita. Here be dragons. All hope abandon, ye who scribble here.

Speaking of hope abandoned, I can’t wait to see the ratings for last night’s comedy special from Capitol Hill. Knowing that Charlie Pierce would be on the case, we gave it a miss, reasoning that if we want to watch a loon pretending to be president we can always dredge up some old “SNL” footage of Chevy Chase playing Gerald Ford.

Instead we caught up on “Crashing,” the Pete Holmes thing on HBO. It’s only so-so — Marc Maron and Bill Burr are more my style, when ol’ Freckles isn’t raving about ball sports — but you get to see some funny cameos by twisted comics like Dave Attell and Jeff Ross.

Beforehand I engaged in wheel sport, taking a quick out-and-back spin on the Voodoo Nakisi, which has been neglected while I review the Jamis Aurora Elite. My mad trail skillz have atrophied, and I was dabbing on sections a fat 4-year-old could handle on a balance bike, but it sure beat working. It beat not working too.

Sunset with a side of Aurora

January 19, 2019

The Big Yellow Ball returned to the sky yesterday, as did the color blue.

We had a lovely bit of color yesterday afternoon to close out the work week.

If we’re lucky we might be back to what passes for normal around here, weather-wise, for the next few days, anyway.

The Jamis Aurora Elite, ready for its closeup.

This would be useful, as I have a Quick Spin video to finish for the Adventurous Cyclists. It concerns the Jamis Aurora Elite, which I last reviewed in June 2011.

It’s surprising how little the bike has changed over the years, and that goes double for the price, which has been pegged at $1,699 for the better part of quite some time.

That ain’t bad for a steel bike with rear rack and fenders. A small bright spot in an otherwise dark time.