Archive for the ‘Adventure Cyclist’ Category

Clutch effort

June 23, 2020

The descent from the intersection of Pino Trail and Wilderness.

More adventures, still more!

Today I decided to challenge the ankle a bit with some off-road foolishness in the Elena Gallegos area. I thought I was being smart by waiting until 10 a.m. to head out, reasoning that the weak would get theirs earlier, in the cool of the morning.

Well, you know about me and smart. Never happen, is what. Everybody and his grandma was out there with me.

I had to dab a couple times while climbing one section I call Cholla Clutch Cañon because I screwed the pooch riding it as a descent back in 2017, grabbing a fistful of cane cholla to keep from skidding over the edge. (See “me and smart” in the previous paragraph.)

Anyway, the trail wizards have been waving their wands at this stretch since I last rode it and muscle memory was of no help whatsoever. Also, everybody else was riding it as a descent, on full-suspension mountain bikes, which proved something of an impediment to Wrong Way O’Grady, with his rigid, drop-bar Voodoo Nakisi weirdomobile and mad climbing skillz.

Speaking of mad skillz, the Adventure Cyclist boyos have posted my latest review online. Surly has updated its Disc Trucker with an eye toward the gravel-gobbling, bikepacking market.

And wonder of wonders: You can still buy the rim-brake Long Haul Trucker if that’s how you roll. I don’t know that you’d necessarily want to ride it up Cholla Clutch Cañon … but hell, I’d probably try it.

Hello in there

April 11, 2020

Herself and Herself the Elder enjoy analog FaceTime at the Dark Tower.

Locked doors. Empty streets. Everyone’s bunkered up and wearing masks, like poilus in a Ypres trench awaiting a gas attack.

Social distancing isn’t new to me. I’ve worked from home for nearly 30 years, and I have come to relish my solitude. My colleagues these days are mostly in Missoula and Boulder. Some days I find it hard to believe that I ever got anything done in a crowded newsroom, which may have pioneered the open-plan office everyone else soon came to loathe.

But even I get twitchy now and then, especially since I was homebound early on with a broken ankle. The COVID-19 may be out there, but the cabin fever is most definitely in here. There are bicycles to be reviewed, an ankle to be rehabilitated. And anyway, jolly old Doc O’Grady feels it’s prudent to take society’s temperature now and then.

So I limp around the ’hood for a spell, shout back and forth with the neighbors. One has retired and has a new dog. Another is working overtime and has an old dog, gamely hanging on, like the rest of us. Next door they’re turning a pile of gravel into a base for a backyard shed. The other next door is exhausted from babysitting grandchildren.

Sometimes we ride the bikes. Herself the Elder needs regular resupply, soda, wine, and Kleenex, along with a bit of analog FaceTime through her bedroom window. A little girl squeals, “I have a bike!” So do I, sweetie. I bet you don’t have to give yours back after a few weeks. At least, I hope not.

The Italians sing. New Yorkers clap. Here in the ’Burque ’burbs we venture out briefly, if only to say, “Hello in there … hello … and have you heard the latest socially distant episode of Radio Free Dogpatch?”

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

• Technical notes: Cheap, cheap, sings the Radio Free Dogpatch birdie. I used the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic, recording directly to the MacBook Pro using Rogue Amoeba’s nifty little app Piezo. Editing was as usual, in GarageBand. Once again the background music is by Your Humble Narrator, assembled in the iOS version of GarageBand with some John Prine licks in mind.

Signs of the times

April 10, 2020

A sign at the Copper trailhead breaks down social distancing for users, among other things.

Your intrepid bicycle reviewer took another test ride Wednesday — and in clipless pedals, too.

Again with the winning! So. Much. Winning.

The ride included a detour intended to help Herself the Elder decode a TV issue — or try to, anyway — and while I waited for Herself to arrive by auto to deliver supplies and provide translation services, I rolled east on Copper to the foothills trailhead to see what was what.

The small parking lot was full to overflowing, and a John Law was parked down the street, which made me wonder whether The Authorities were taking a tally of trail users with an eye toward declaring the open space off limits.

A little light shining in the darkness.

Probably not. Any trails closure would be impossible to enforce without cavalry, claymores, and helicopter gunships.

And the gendarmes have plenty of other things to do, like corral teenagers who apparently take the playlist at a party a bit too seriously, chase copper thieves, and argue with jailers who refuse to book suspects.

But there were a couple of new signs about social distancing and curve-flattening posted alongside the golden oldies about staying on trails, fetching trash home, and cleaning up after Fido. So, like the rest of us, The Authorities are doing what they can given the circumstances.

Back to Herself the Elder’s place. Herself had still not arrived, so I rolled down the street a ways, thinking I’d see if there were some way to loop around to the Dark Tower without using Copper.

And then I saw the sign. “Free Masks.” Someone was going above and beyond, with no thought of reward. There may be hope for the species yet.

Back to ‘work’

April 7, 2020

How to earn big money through social distancing in your spare time.

As ridiculous as it may seem, yes, I do have a bike to review for Adventure Cyclist, and si, I have been out riding it.

Not with authority, élan, and grace, mind you. But still. A man must earn.

I slapped some cheapo bear-trap pedals on this one, to accommodate the ankle and its brace, and somehow I managed to spaz myself into a nice nick on the shin.

I had forgotten this characteristic of the old-school pedal, and may go to Eighties-era cyclocross pedals with toeclips and straps or even have a go at clipless pedals, just for the sake of science.

Speaking of science and the fiction thereof, I guess Marcus Weebles, O.D., has been cutting his Adderall with hydroxychloroquine. He apparently digs the high, and is recommending it to everyone, probably not because “several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president,” according to The New York Times.

Add a little hydroxychloroquine, m’boy, and you’ll be as right as rain.

Adds the Times:

“Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine.”

Zut alors! Say it is not so!

The search for salable snake-oil recipes made at home in your spare time reminds me of “Burned Again,” a tale from the seventh collection of “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” comics.

Fat Freddy finds a “neat container” in the street and he and Freewheelin’ Franklin try prying it open to see what’s inside. Phineas recognizes the radiation symbol on the thing and — using a Geiger counter he built from plans in “Popular Atomics” magazine — determines that it is not leaking. Yet.

Nevertheless, Fat Freddy “freaks” and draws himself a bath of Chinese mustard and Clorox, explaining, “It’s a remedy for radiation poisoning I read about in ‘Amateur Doctor’ magazine!”

Hm. Fat. Stupid. Ridiculous blond hair. Zero impulse control. Doper. Say, you don’t suppose Fat Freddy grew up to become … nahhhhh.

Y’think? Nawwwwww.

 

Just ankling along

March 28, 2020

Hey, when you have extra daylight to burn, you might as well break out the matches.

I haven’t shot any video for Adventure Cyclist lately because a bicycle reviewer with a broken ankle isn’t much of a cyclist, let alone a touring cyclist. And we viejos get rust in the cranium if we don’t keep buffing away up there.

So here’s a little mental exercise for me and a little cheap entertainment for you. I can proclaim without fear of contradiction that it’s worth every penny you’ll pay for it.

Get out

January 15, 2020

First trip up this rocky little slope my wind jacket slid out of my
handlebar bag. Good thing it didn’t wind up tangled in the spokes
or I might have lost some psi from my head.

Speaking of flats, I went out looking for some today.

I was actually shooting some video of the Cannondale Topstone 105 for Adventure Cyclist, but you never know. Sometimes you shoot the cycling, and sometimes the cycling shoots you.

But not this time. Not this time. The tires, in case you were wondering, are WTB Riddlers in 700×37, and I’ve already flatted the rear once.

Today’s ride also served nicely to flush out the old headgear. We watched some of the Democratic “debate” last night, and this morning brought more impeachment drama, so, yeah, definitely time to get moving, preferably away from all news sources.

Didn’t hurt that the temps were in the mid-50s. Dude grinding past on a mountain bike sez to me, he sez, “What a perfectly terrible day.”

“Awful,” I agreed, adding, “Try not to suffer too much.”

The suffering will arrive tomorrow, in the form of a winter storm. Happily, I have video to edit, which should distract me from whatever befalls us, from the skies or the scribes.

The Mad Dog in Winter

December 24, 2019

Your Humble Narrator at The Arizona Daily Star circa 1980, when his thoughts were not of retirement, but rather escape. Photo: Alan Berner

We may not have ourselves a white Christmas, but it certainly won’t be one suitable for test-riding that shiny new bike I’m not gonna be getting from Sandia Claus.

A chilly rain started falling at midafternoon on Tuesday, shortly after Your Humble Narrator got a short trail run under his tights. All in all, it feels like a marvelous evening for tamales smothered in green chile with a side of Mexican rice.

And for dessert? How about a heaping helping of deep-dish thought about who’s gonna be making it rain around here next year, when a certain somebody taps into that there Socialist Insecurity instead of working for a living?

“Working for a living.” Ho, ho. As if delivering the old hee, and also the haw, requires a strong back and a hand truck.

But deliver we do. Yes, yes, yes, it’s another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch! We’ve taken a dump right on your porch, and just in time for Christmas, too. Remember, lift with your legs, not your back.

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 Rode PodMic and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “On the Job,” from Zapsplat.com. Freesound.org contributed the typewriter (theshaggyfreak); ticking clock (straget); wind (eliasheuninck); footfalls in snow (duck37fm); traffic (edo333); and the elevator going down (LG). Eddard Stark comes to you from the late King Joffrey Baratheon’s gruesome collection of Halloween ornaments. And Darth O’Grady comes to you from the Death Star trash can via Sony ICD-UX533 recorder.

‘Pedal & Grunt’

November 26, 2019

Sun’s gonna shine in my back door some day.

My recent gastroinfestation kept me off the bike for a solid week, though Herself and I managed a casual jog around the neighborhood on Sunday.

Yesterday, as I checked the 10-day forecast, I was wondering whether I should’ve been riding a bike. My window of opportunity for a reasonably comfortable pre-holiday spin was rapidly spiraling down to peephole size.

I should have gone straight for the Cannondale Topstone 105, because that’s where the money is. But having just been laid low by one bug I didn’t want to risk another. 11-speed. Hydraulic brakes. Thru-axles. Tubeless-ready rims and tires, tighter than Dick’s hatband, tough on the invalid’s hands. I could feel both arthritic thumbs turning downward.

The Voodoo Wazoo’s pedal-assist unit (not pictured) fits atop the saddle.

So I took the Voodoo Wazoo down from its hook and rolled out for a gentle hour on the foothills trails.

This is not a Kool Kidz bike. Quick-releases. 7-speed. Cantilever brakes. And Mavic Open Pros wearing a pair of chunky Continental CrossRides.

In the event of a flat I could pry the offender off the rim with a stern glance. A brake goes wonky? Unhook it. And there’s only one derailleur to get the hiccups, a 105 rear that’s probably older than most of the product managers spec’ing bikes these days.

Some people enjoy navigating the intricacies of 11-speed, hydraulic brakes, thru-axles, and tubeless-ready rims and tires, and that’s fine. Some of them like a bit of electrical assist, or black-box drivetrains, and that’s OK, too.

But some of us still like to “pedal and grunt,” and Grant Petersen makes a compelling case for sweat and simplicity over at the Rivendell Blahg:

Bike makers have motor-envy. They all want to make motor vehicles. ALL. They drive the innovation in that direction, and say it’s for the good of all, because it’ll get cars off the road and help old people exercise. … Everything is going auto, like the only way to sell stuff is to make it that way. In 10 years people are going to take photos and make movies with eyeblinks. That will be sold as progress, because all animals are wired to want the easy way. That makes sense in a survival situation (cross the river where it’s slow and shallow), but when technology makes everything SUPER easy, there’s something good about holding back a bit.

Now, I won’t lie to you. There was a moment yesterday when I would have traded a healthy organ for a 20-inch granny. But it didn’t feel like I had one to offer, so I just got up out of the saddle.

Pedal and grunt.

 

Feel the (Bourbon) burn

November 8, 2019

Oh, indeed, that’s the question right there.

Bicycle Week continues at El Rancho Pendejo with a long-distance peek at the National Bicycle Tourism Conference in my old hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

BRAIN’s Steve Frothingham, a very busy fellow indeed, is down on the scene and learning all about the bicycle tourism, including the Bourbon Country Burn, an event I might’ve leapt at a few years back when I was still a drinking man, assuming that any reputable publication’s editor would have been loopy enough to send a copper-bottomed tosspot to it in the vain hope of getting anything in return for the investment in time and treasure beyond a phone call from jail and a plea for lawyers, guns and money.

The BCB went from 200 participants to more than a thousand in three years, sez Steve to me, he sez. So they must be doing something right. (See “Which distilleries will I see,” above.)

The Adventure Cycling Association has boots on the ground, too, so look for a report in an upcoming edition of Adventure Cyclist.

Rain, rain, go away …

November 6, 2019

The Cannondale Topstone 105.

… little Paddy wants to play.

We have a new review bike at El Rancho Pendejo, a Cannondale Topstone 105, but the weather is proving uncooperative as regards its maiden cruise.

The birds were pissed that their feeders were empty, so I had to trot out in the rain to resupply the chirpy little commies. From each according to his abilities, etc.

What a good thing that I whipped up a vast tureen of posole before this wee November squall rumbled through town.

As the cool drizzle quietly flogs the last of the leaves off the backyard maple under leaden skies, it’s looking like your basic one-pot day, meal-wise.

Cook the oatmeal, have breakfast, wash the pot.

Hm. Still raining.

Reheat the posole, have lunch, wash the pot.

JFC. Still raining.

And dinner? I may outsource that one, if only because I’m out of posole, and who wants oatmeal for dinner?

Anyway, even a one-quart saucepan needs a break now and then.