Archive for the ‘Adventure Cyclist’ Category

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.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

October 5, 2019

Scott Pankratz will lead the Adventure Cycling Association, succeeding outgoing executive director Jim Sayer.

The Adventure Cycling Association has hired itself a new executive director.

My attention was elsewhere when the deal went down, and I don’t know what it means for The Organization. I may have met Scott Pankratz in the course of my wanderings, though I don’t recall doing so. I have met many people, many, many of them, and they have met some version of me.

In any case, he seems to have been involved in good works, co-founding (with wife Julie Osborn) the nonprofit Ecology Project International; serving on the boards of the Montana Community Foundation and the Montana Nonprofit Association; and riding the ol’ bikey-bikey from Hither to Yon and back again.

“My passion and enthusiasm as the incoming executive director at Adventure Cycling come directly from transformative moments in the saddle from Alaska to Mexico,” Pankratz said via press release. “I look forward to expanding our community to give everyone with a bike the confidence, community, and gratitude that is at the heart of the Adventure Cycling experience.”

Scott takes over from the departing Jim Sayer early next year. Best wishes to both.

Photobombed

August 31, 2019

“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeO’Grady.”

Jesus. Everybody wants to be in pictures. Even Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), who really is old enough to know better.

I mean, look at him. He thinks he’s still a leading man at an age when he ought to be settling in as a character actor.

And at any rate, these Adventure Cyclist videos are light on parts for blue-eyed white guys who ain’t me. This cat can’t even ride a bike, much less review one.

Of course, they say the same thing about me. But I’m the cat with the camera.

So 15 minutes ago? How about 85 years?

July 18, 2019

Don’t let the clouds fool you. That’s steam boiling off my bald noggin.

Seventy-one at 5 a.m. No, not me, the temperature.

And that’s outside, mind you. In the office, it’s 78.

We have at least three days of the roast-a-rama ahead, so it’s ride early or not at all. Hunker down in the air conditioning like we did as kids at Randolph AFB outside San Antone. You were either marinating in poisons and pee at the O-club pool or camped out in front of the Fedders window unit, playing Monopoly. Venture outside and you’d sink into the tarry streets like a dinosaur at La Brea, later to mystify alien archaeologists.

The God of the Tar People, discovered when a skeleton was unearthed by Vulcan archaeologists sometime in the distant future. Historical note: Like many a cartoonist, F.O. Alexander got stiffed for his work drawing characters for Monopoly.

“Chlorine must have been an essential nutrient for these semiaquatic creatures. And their god appears to have been this fellow with the archaic headgear and outlandish facial hair, who seems possessed of astonishing wealth.”

The Masi Speciale Randonneur review for Adventure Cyclist has been shipped, as has the August cartoon for Bicycle Retailer. I’m been thinking not very hard about an episode of Radio Free Dogpatch, but it seems podcasts are so 15 minutes ago, just like blogs. Or phrases like “so 15 minutes ago.”

In other news, Ginger Hitler has taken his song-and-dance routine to another Nuremberg rally, where he debuted a new three-syllable chant (he’s a man of few words, which is to say he only knows a few). A new low? Not for long, according to Kevin Drum at MoJo.

And finally, Le Shew Bigge is heading into the Pyrenees, just in time for Zoom-Zoom Froome — who is absent while recovering from a nasty pre-Tour get-off — to be named champion of the 2011 Vuelta a España after Juan José Cobo rang the Dope-O-Meter®.

Yes, that’s 2011. We’re not all the way back to 1934 yet, but we certainly seem headed in that direction.

 

Roof roof roof

July 15, 2019

Behind the garage the sun is working its leisurely way up the east side of the Sandias.

Otro día, otro dolár.

Bicycle Retailer wants a cartoon, and Adventure Cyclist wants reviews. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. All is well, save for … well, you know.

Swear to God, this pendejo is gonna start strolling around with his little orange dingus hanging out, because why not?

Now, the Secret Service doesn’t have anything to fear from me, because I am renowned as a man of peace. But if some itty bitty brown woman with an interest in MMA were to start slapping all the rabies out of Orange Julius Caesar on CNN at prime time, well, I’d probably watch.

Speaking of spectacles, I am not watching Le Tour, though I check in from time to time via Cyclingnews or The Guardian. However, friends are over in Frogland for a closer look at La Grande Boucle.

One couple recently relocated from ’Burque  to Lyon, which enjoyed a ride-by during stage eight, from Mâcon to Saint-Étienne. Another is just visiting, but I forget which stage they get to see. One more than me, I expect.

As far as I know, neither couple is motoring around in a Citroën 2CV. But they could be.

What is hip?

July 12, 2019

What a pain in the ass.

No joke. A couple hours after Monday’s short run and a bit of light resistance training I found myself in the hurt locker, with big pain in the right hip and a limp that would have done credit to a drunken pirate with a poorly made peg leg navigating a wet deck in heavy seas.

IT band? Hip flexor? Psoas? I suspect the latter, because I’d been having some low-grade back issues a couple of days previous. Anyway, being manly, and also stupid, I rode on Tuesday, and felt kinda-sorta OK on the bike, but not so much off it.

So I prescribed myself a couple days of rest, some ibuprofen, and a hefty dose of work on my Masi Speciale Randonneur review for Adventure Cyclist.

Just because I will never be smart doesn’t mean I have to keep being stupid.

The good news is, all this drew my attention away from the news, which is taking on overtones of a Jeffrey Dahmer-Ted Bundy buddy pic scripted by Josef Mengele and directed by the Marquis de Sade. That Dealie McDealio is up to his saggy man-boobs in some of the worst of it should surprise absolutely no one.

The late Jim Harrison noted more than once that politicians are prone to shitting through their mouths. And boy, am I ever glad I’m not paid to catalog every turd that falls from this fool’s face.

• Extra-Credit Tower of Power: The eternal question, and more, from NPR’s Tiny Desk.

Happy solstice?

June 21, 2019

This is what the Foothills air looks like when it’s not full of imported particulates.

The air is definitely a tad chewy around here today on the first day of summer.

The Woodbury Fire in Arizona is sharing its smoke, a little treat we asthmatics can do without. I took a couple peeks out various windows, and cracked the front door for a nanosecond, and that was that. None of the old bikey ridey for Your Humble Narrator, not today.

Yesterday I shipped the latest “Quick Spin” video to Adventure Cyclist. It features the Masi Speciale Randonneur (pictured above). Masi is deep into the bike-travel thing and has been for a while now. I think I first saw their Giramondo at Interbike 2015, and as touring bikes go, it still seems like a hell of a bargain to me — chromoly frame and fork, 10-speed Deore drivetrain (with a low end of 24×36), TRP Spyre brakes, and Tubus racks (Tara front, Cargo rear), all for the low low price of $1,399.

Masi offers a 650b version of the Giramondo, too. No racks, but more adventurous.

The Speciale, as you might guess from its name, has roots in randonneuring, so it’s more of a road bike, happiest with a front load and maybe some other light bits scattered around and about in frame and saddle bags.

It will be staying indoors this morning, however. As will I. So don’t go looking for me at Stonehenge.

Meanwhile, when you see a flat-footed statement this thick — “Road bikes average 10-15 pounds.” — you have to question the rest of the story.