Archive for the ‘Adventure Cyclist’ Category

It’s a long, long way down to Reno, Nevada

August 15, 2018

Thirty days and counting to Interbike.

I’ll be skipping the show this year. Adventure Cyclist expects slim pickings in the touring category, and BRAIN hasn’t paid my freight in forever, a cost-benefit calculation that keeps coming up snake eyes for Your Humble Narrator. In lean times the last thing you want is an ill-mannered, off-the-leash cur snarling at the customers as you try to keep the bank from taking the bike shop.

Le Shewe Bigge has shifted north from Las Vegas to Reno for 2018, and I can’t be the only person who finds it amusing that Interbike went there to get itself a divorce from Sin City. Still, I’m curious to see how it works out.

There’s much chin music about an ongoing “Reno-ssance,” the local spin on “gentrification,” which itself is the scenic route to “get those poor people out of sight, they’re scaring the tourists and playing hell with property values.” See Bibleburg, Duke City, et al.

For instance, in The Biggest Little City in the World one may enjoy a nifty Riverwalk District that skirts the Truckee, where the John Laws have been running off homeless campers, unfortunates who may be traveling by bicycle because they have to, not because it looks like fun.

Novelist and musician Willy Vlautin has written about people like these who seem to be missing out on the “Reno-ssance,” and so has Our Town Reno, a production of the Reynolds Media Lab, part of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada-Reno. They taught me a new word: “artwashing.”

It’s been years since I last visited Reno, en route to and/or from visits to friends in Northern California. It always felt like a rest stop between Here and There, not a destination in its own right. I’d camp at the Motel 6 West, and dine at some hippie joint down off Sierra, or maybe Virginia, I don’t remember. Vegetarian fare, heavy on the garlic to ward off the vampires.

Come morning I’d grab a cup of joe and a tank of gas and get the hell out of Dodge. Which, as it turns out, seems to be mostly what all these tourist traps want from us. Howdy, partner! Got any money? Keep moving.

Before long the last place in the country without a riverwalk, legal weed and a bespoke artisanal microbrewery will be Ash Fork, Arizona. You will not see Interbike in Ash Fork anytime soon, no matter how bad the bike biz gets.

 

Un Orso sotto la pioggia

August 1, 2018

The Bianchi Orso sports a Tubus Cargo Classic (with adapters to clear the Breezer-style dropouts and thru-axle levers), an Arkel TailRider rack truck with attached Dry-Lite panniers and a Revelate Egress Pocket. Oh, yeah, and five water bottles.

August? Say what? Wasn’t it July just a minute ago?

Here at Ye Olde Dogge Parque the party just keeps rolling along. The Bianchi Orso is nearly ready for its closeup. I need a few details from Bianchi HQ, but they seem a taciturn lot for persons of the Italian persuasion.

Perhaps they’re distracted by the antics of that other ugly American, the one whose coloration is rare among the primates, save for the orangutans, who do not claim him. Happily, Bianchi USA is lending a hand, trying to fill in the gaps. Che figata!

The sharp-eyed among you may note a rain jacket strapped behind the Egress handlebar bag. It has indeed been raining in the ’hood, and not just your occasional refreshing sprinkle, either. Daily full-on frog-stranglers is more like it.

Seems it’s either drought or deluge around here. Some middle way would be greatly appreciated. Why, I actually had to dodge a puddle on my morning run. Che cazzo!

Come rain or come shine

July 29, 2018

Whenever it rains this low spot fills up on Juniper Hill Road NE.

Fender weather? In ’Burque? Say it ain’t so!

’Tis so.

SKS keeps Sammy shiny.

Fanta Se got hammered the other day by what the weather wizards were calling a thousand-year storm, and we’ve had a couple doozies of our own.

They left smallish sand dunes and mud streaked across the roads, and the occasional shallow puddle, which never lasts long because this is thirsty country.

Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, because I hate that brown stripe up the keister, on Friday I rode the Sam Hillborne with its silver SKS thermoplastics. And yesterday I hauled out the Soma Saga Disc, which sports a set of black Soma mudguards.

Today we’re back to sunshine and homicide, so I’ll climb back aboard the Bianchi Orso, whose moment in the media sunshine is fast approaching.

It never rains, but it pours.

Albatross!

July 3, 2018

The Soma Double Cross in townie configuration.

Lots of bikey stuff going on around here lately. It makes a welcome distraction from the news, which as per usual is mostly bad. And likewise from the weather, which is mostly hot.

Since my Voodoo Wazoo has become a kinda-sorta 700c mountain bike, I decided to turn the Soma Double Cross into a townie for short hops hither and thither, or even long ones.

The Double Cross had been rigged as a light touring bike, with XT triple crank and eight-speed XT rear derailleur, drop bar, bar-end shifters, and aero levers (augmented with top-mounted brake levers) to operate the Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis. Now it sports an Albatross bar and Dia-Compe SS-6 brake levers from Rivendell, and of course the bar-cons stuck around for the ride.

Albatross!

At 27.2 pounds it’s nearly 5 pounds lighter than either of my Soma Saga touring bikes, so it makes for a sporty little errand boy.

The Bianchi Orso 105, up against The Wall of Science.

Meanwhile, the next bike in the Adventure Cyclist review pipeline is a Bianchi Orso with 11-speed 105 STI, hydraulic stoppers and thru-axles. Quite the technological advance from eight-speed XT with bar-cons, rim brakes and quick-releases, or so the industry would have you believe. Engineers gotta engineer, marketers gotta market. Still, I wonder when we’re going to run out of 50/34 cranks and 11-32 cassettes so a brother can get a touring drivetrain up in this bitch.

All this wrenching and riding and whatnot makes a feller hungry, so last night I whipped up a mess of chicken tacos in salsa verde with a side of Mexican rice. Anybody who thinks I make a shambles as a mechanic should see what I did to the kitchen. It was worth it, though. And now we have leftovers. Huzzah, etc.

Mad dogs and Englishmen*

June 12, 2018

Climbing Simms Park Road on the Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1 with almost 40 pounds of gear and not nearly enough legs.

Well, a mad dog, singular, anyway. Noonday sun, to be sure. And temps in the 90s by the time I returned to El Rancho Pendejo from some weight training and videography with a fully loaded REI Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1, which is the next bike in the hopper for all you eager Adventure Cyclist readers.

Two bottles would about get me to the city limits on a day like today.

If this had been an actual tour of the parched upper Chihuahuan Desert, there would be at least one more water bottle on that bike. Maybe one of those big blue Adventure Cycling Association-label Hydro Flasks, slung underneath the down tube. And p’raps a couple of fat Ortlieb water bags in the panniers, too.

*Englishmen not included.

Hot time in the old town

May 30, 2018

New Mexico must have a patent on these cloud formations. And if it doesn’t, it should.

Looks like the inaugural Ruta del Rancho Pendejo will be a warm one, with highs in the 90s and 80s, though there’s a chance of afternoon showers on Sunday.

The very latest in fluid acquisition and retention technology.

This last we will believe when we see it.

Never fear, however. Your Humble Narrator, with an assist from Adventure Cyclist editor-in-chief Alex Strickland, has acquired a number of advanced hydration-delivery devices for distribution to all participants.

We regret to announce, however, that Roseanne Barr will not be joining us for the weekend’s activities. She’s apparently decided to take a fresh direction. Some sort of gravity deal.

And it seems to be quite the show. I haven’t seen anyone go downhill that fast since Missy Giove was shredding the gnar.

Back to work

May 19, 2018

The Bianchi Orso 105, intended for everything from “commuting to centuries, long distance touring to backroad bikepacking,” according to the company website.

Just as I was getting used to the idea of not having much to do, being a geezer whose increasingly feeble revenue stream depends on the depleted wells of bicycling and journalism, suddenly I have two bikes to review for Adventure Cyclist, and one of them posthaste, if you please, as another reviewer’s bike seems to have gone someplace without him.

REI’s Co-op ADV 1.1, a classic triple-ring tourer tarted up with hydraulic disc brakes.

The new arrivals are a Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1, a $1,299 tourer from REI, and a Bianchi Orso 105, a $2,100 “all-road” bike with its roots in the venerable Volpe line.

Some people snicker at the idea of buying a bike from REI, but I’ve reviewed a couple of Co-op’s Novara predecessors and felt they delivered solid value at a reasonable price. “The Novara Verita,” I wrote, “will take you everywhere but to the cleaners.” The Mazama adventure bike was likewise “light on the wallet” and fun to ride.

I have some time on Bianchis, too. When she was affiliated with the organization Sky Yaeger loaned me a Castro Valley for a spell, and I liked the Zurigo Disc enough to add it to the fleet, though it suffers from an alloy frame, carbon fork and disc brakes, a.k.a. the Three Horsepersons of the Apocalypse.

The Co-op will be first out of the chute, and boy, am I glad I have some kilometers under my bibs, because it weighed in at 34.7 pounds before I installed the pedals. Expect to see me paying frequent visits to that 26-tooth granny ring. I guess that’s why they call it “work.”

Speaking of adventure, T.E. Lawrence died on this day in 1935. Keep an eye peeled for all them derned kids on bicycles, hogging the road.

Lights, camera, inaction

April 3, 2018

Must be a gravel bike.*
* Gravel not included.

Timing is everything.

Yesterday morning I went out for a short run (keep muscle memory alive!) and then hopped on the Giant ToughRoad SLR 1 with the idea of wrapping up its video review for Adventure Cyclist in advance of the next member newsletter.

It might have been smarter to do the shoot first and the stumble second.

I figured that by midmorning on the Monday following Easter weekend most of my fellow trail users would be on the job, in school, or buried deep in household chores. Nope. My cinematography was interrupted over and over again by moms pushing strollers, dog walkers, hikers, rock climbers and other truants.

You’d think we had the nation’s second-worst unemployment rate or something.

What? We do? Never mind.

And with Il Douche busy crashing the economy I might have to start shooting these things on a trainer in the living room. The open space around here is liable to start looking like a hobo jungle out of “The Grapes of Wrath.”

 

Freewheeling Friday

January 12, 2018
Old Pueblo Road, just south of Hanover Road.

Travel by bicycle. It pays off for the cyclist and the places s/he visits.

My peeps at the Adventure Cycling Association get a little love in this High Country News piece about bicycle tourism and how it’s come to benefit a couple of tiny Montana towns.

Says ACA’s Laura Crawford: “It’s not a get-rich-quick sort of scheme, but a long-term, sustainable investment.”

With no electric buses, major construction projects or flim-flamming of taxpayers required, I might add. In fact, I just did.

The stone mind

January 6, 2018

Way down there somewhere is the Duke City.

My Bicycle Retailer and Industry News column may be a thing of the past, but I still have deadlines, and Lord, how them sumbitches can fill a feller’s dance card.

I’ve been burning daylight over the Giant ToughRoad SLR 1, exchanging emails with former VeloNews comrade Andrew Juskaitis, now senior global product marketing manager for the Big G, and after an extended stretch of demonstrating my profound ignorance I decided yesterday that it was time to ride one of my own damn’ bikes for a change.

It had to be steel, of course, with drop bars, rim brakes, and tires with inner tubes. And with the weekend promising congestion on the trails I thought it might be nice to get a quick off-road ride while the gettin’ was good.

When is a rock not a rock? When it’s a Buddha.

So the Voodoo Nakisi and I set off for the usual casual loops around the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

Well, almost the usual.

Our local trail network is well marked with signs for people who like to follow maps (Trail 365, 305, etc.) and for those who don’t (Trail Closed for Rehabilitation). But there’s the occasional unmarked stretch that makes you go “Hmmmm.. …”

On a whim, I followed a couple of those yesterday, just to see where they went, and one of them meandered upward until it became frankly unrideable (by me, anyway). So I got off and wandered around for a bit, assuming I was more or less up against the wilderness boundary, taking snaps with the iPhone and just enjoying being away from the office.

I looked down at the Duke City, and snap, and then looked up at the ridgeline, and … holy shit! Check out that rock formation. It looks like a Buddha sitting zazen with his back to all of this.

Well, it does to anyone with an overactive imagination, anyway. It seemed too heavy a stone to carry around in my head, though, so I bowed to it, left it where it was, and got back about the business of avoiding business.

• Editor’s note: Further bows to “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings,” compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki.