Archive for the ‘Adventure Cyclist’ Category

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.

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.