Archive for the ‘Adventure Cyclist’ Category

It’s been a quiet week at El Rancho Pendejo. …

February 26, 2021

The wind sketches clouds across the skies west of the Sandias.

It’s been a quiet week, as Garrison Keillor used to say of Lake Woebegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

Pink skies to the west.

The weather has returned to something a little more favorable for hiking and biking, and the National Weather Service forecasts a spring that should be drier and warmer than normal.

In fact, we’re already into allergy season here. Junipers and elms. Honk, snurk, hawwwwk, ptui, etc.

Two of the four people we know who have been looking for work have found it, so, yay. The jobs may not be ideal, but neither are the times. So it goes.

I am not looking for work, but it seems to have been looking for me. Adventure Cyclist asked if I wanted to dash off a little sumpin’-sumpin’ that is not a bicycle review, and we’ll see how that goes. Having been without a column for a while now, I’m kind of out of practice as regards busking for bucks.

It’s much easier to do that here, where I’m both organ grinder and monkey, all at once. Out there in the workaday world they expect you to dance to their tune, when they’re hiring at all.

R.I.P., LHT

January 17, 2021

The Surly Disc Trucker, up against the Wall of Science.

A moment of silence, please, for the Surly Long Haul Trucker, which rolled west in November. It was 16.

When I reviewed the Surly Disc Trucker for the July 2020 issue of Adventure Cyclist, product manager Amy Kippley told me the rim-brake LHT wasn’t going anywhere other than everywhere, just like always.

“Our Long Haul Trucker is the best,” she said. “We’re team #savetherimbrake all the way. People love to build that frame up and make it their own. There’s nothing quite like touring-tinkering.”

Maybe so. But there was nothing quite like 2020, either. And therefore never send to know for whom the [bike] bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Come the February 2021 issue of Adventure Cyclist, our very own Khal S. — himself a LHT owner — was reading the bike’s obituary, headlined “Requiem for a Two-Wheeled Dream.”

“It was a bike that could do nearly everything, and usually did. At any given time, you could close your eyes, toss an ice-cream sandwich into Adventure Cycling’s courtyard, and hit a Long Haul Trucker.”

Progress marches on, they say. But when it trucks, from Surly, it will do so with disc brakes.

If you can’t say anything nice. …

January 8, 2021

It’s not Cold Mountain, but then again I’m not Han Shan, either.

I know a lot of bad words. None of them seemed bad enough for what I saw yesterday.

So I went out to finish shooting some video for Adventure Cyclist. It was not a speaking role.

Velocirapture

October 9, 2020

I think the place is closed. Call it an inspired guess.

I took a leisurely ride to Tijeras and back yesterday, with a brief detour to Carlito Springs Open Space.

The place is shuttered for “improvements” — to wit, “roads, additional parking capacity,” etc., et al., and so on and so forth. I’m going on 67 and managed to make the trip via bicycle, but never you mind that, Captain Elitist, with your fancy-schmancy velocipede, outlandish getup, and life of socialist leisure. Some of us have to work for a living.

En route along Old Route 66 I caught up with a group of bicycle tourists bound for Las Cruces. In ordinary circumstances we might have ridden together for a while, discussed the route, gear, eternal verities, and whatnot.

Alas, the circumstances are far from ordinary, so we exchanged compliments from a social distance and went our separate ways. Mine was considerably less challenging, but someone has to be around to reheat the jambalaya while Herself brings home the bacon.

Saddle, up

September 23, 2020

Say, is it my imagination, or is that cloud flipping me the bird?

If you had told me back in January that I wouldn’t ride down to the bosque until September 22, I would’ve given you the old hee, and also the haw.

But it’s true. Between the busted ankle and The Bug® a trip to the bosque has felt either impossible or unwise.

I have a bike to review for Adventure Cyclist, though. And the Paseo del Bosque trail is one of my stock routes for these projects. So yesterday off we went, the New Albion Privateer and I, to see what we could see.

I only saw a handful of other users on the Paseo bike path.

It was a short visit —  from the Alameda trailhead to the Paseo del Norte bike path. Too many people, and not nearly enough masks. Mind you, this was around 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, not a weekend.

I felt safer on the streets. Feature that, if you can.

Once I left the bosque path things settled down considerably. The Paseo and North Diversion Channel paths were lightly used, as was Bear Canyon Arroyo.

As per usual I had one of those moments when I wonder whether I should be allowed to leave the house without adult supervision. Just west of the bike-ped bridge over I-25 I began sensing that something was not quite right about my position on the machine, and got off to have a look-see.

Well, duh. Seems somebody forgot to use some elbow grease on that saddle-clamp bolt, and the saddle had been gradually tipping skyward. Another degree or two and I might have slid right off the back and onto the rear rack.

That’s one way to carry a load, I suppose. But I doubt that Adventure Cyclist would approve.

Cast off, matey

September 20, 2020

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.

Get OUT!

August 4, 2020

Getting away from it all in 2010, when the Adventure Cycling Association’s Southern Arizona Road Adventure spent a day in Bisbee.

It’s not just bikes that are as rare as hen’s teeth, rocking-horse shit, and integrity in the nation’s capital.

Now it’s everything outdoorsy, from camping equipment to boats and birding binoculars.

Pretty soon “getting away from it all” will mean “going home.”

Bonus non-political content

August 1, 2020

The first blue-skies shot of August.

Six months.

That’s how long it’d been since I last visited a bike shop. Until yesterday, when I popped round to Two Wheel Drive to return the Surly Disc Trucker I reviewed for Adventure Cyclist magazine.

Happily, the lads have not been wasting away, praying for a visitation by a stove-up senior citizen on a fixed income with the spending power of a junior partner in a corner lemonade stand.

They have product to sell — including a freshly scored size run of the 2021 Kona Unit X — and shortly after I lurched in, so did a couple of actual customers, while another pair queued up outside (house rules).

Manager Zach took a minute to pitch me on the joys of the Kona Electric Ute, even offering to turn me loose on the floor model. But I passed, figuring his time was more profitably spent with the paying clientele. Zach owns an E-Ute, and says it makes a fine car replacement, suitable for fetching groceries and transporting rug monkeys.

Our cars are both paid for, and we don’t use them much; we’re even getting a discount from our insurance company for letting them rot in the garage. Still, I think it would be interesting to have a go at a one-car life.

The biggest hurdle for me is (wait for it) the advancified futuristical Jetsonian technology. Sitting here at the desk I can see eight battery-powered devices without swiveling my head. I don’t really want any more.

Tell you what I do find interesting: The Soma Pescadero. Which of course is completely sold out.

Until a new run arrives sometime in November or December, I’m compelled to contemplate a cousin, the New Albion Privateer, the only other rim-brake frame available from the Merry Sales folks.

Merry’s Stan Pun says the Privateer “is like a [Soma] Double Cross with a lower BB height, longer chainstays and heavier tubes.” At a glance it seems to slot in neatly between the Pescadero and Saga. As the owner of one Double Cross and two Sagas, I’m intrigued.

And of course what we really need around here is another bicycle. N+1, baby, N+1.

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.