Archive for the ‘Albuquerque’ Category

The path is the Way

November 9, 2021

Light traffic, muted colors

I hate to do this to those of you who are wrestling with actual November weather. But oh, was yesterday ever a fine day to ride the ol’ bikey-bike down to the bosque.

It was a little late in the season to catch the prime fall colors, but there was a flash or two here and there.

Traffic was light on the Paseo del Bosque trail, so instead of heading south past I-40 to Mountain and heading home via the mean streets, Indian School and whatnot, I pulled a U at the interstate — pulling off the arm and knee warmers — and enjoyed a double dose of the auto-free environment.

Then I enhanced the experience by riding the Paseo del Norte path, the North Diversion Channel Trail, and the Arroyo del Oso/Bear Canyon Trail. Hey, you got all this bicycle infrastructure, why not put it to use?

The whole trip added up to a little more than 40 miles and made a nice change of pace from the usual dawdling about in the foothills. I enjoyed my departure from the norm so much that I did it again today.

No, not the 40-mile bike ride. Today, I went for a run.

Not so hot

November 5, 2021

The wisteria is calling it quits for the year.

The mornings are brisk around here lately. Upon arising I find myself compelled to don pants. This will not do, not at all.

This is one of the few downsides of living snuggled up to the Sandias. Come fall the sun doesn’t peek over the mountains and through the trees until 9:30 or later, which causes Miss Mia Sopaipilla to burn the early morning hours hunting a toasty napping place that does not yet exist as such.

Here comes the sun. “About time,” grouses Mia.

The geezers I ride with a couple days a week likewise search for that sweet sunny spot. There has been some debate as to whether rides should continue to begin 9-ish or be delayed a tad to minimize the need for extensive layering.

It’s not unusual to experience a 30-degree temperature swing in the course of a 90-minute morning outing, which fills the jersey pockets to overflowing with wind jackets, arm and knee warmers, long-fingered gloves, skullcaps and whatnot. Jersey zippers rise and fall with the terrain.

Our location here, at the bottom of a cul-de-sac in the shadow of the foothills, often causes me to believe it’s colder outdoors than it really is. Yesterday I rode the Jones south on the foothills trails and inside 10 minutes I knew I was ridiculously overdressed. Nevertheless I persisted, because there wasn’t much I could do about the long-sleeved jersey and I didn’t stuff any short-fingered gloves into a pocket before leaving.

I found myself riding with a distinct lack of competence, confidence, style, and grace, dabbing on pretty much everything that wasn’t a nice flat sandy patch, and swearing a lot. After a series of miscues on mild obstacles I lost my mojo entirely and tried to focus on simply avoiding injury. This was nearly as irksome as wearing pants in the morning.

After an hour of embarrassing myself I called it quits and headed for home. I should probably get back out there right now and seek redemption.  But I’m thinking about dialing it down to a road ride. Maybe I should wait until we fall back before I fall off.

Sea Notter

October 9, 2021

We have a sea, but it’s grass. No otters in sight.

I’m not at Sea Otter. Can you tell from the pic?

Being parked at home and mildly bored, I’ve been awarding various neglected bikes some outside time. The DBR Prevail TT, Soma Double Cross, Voodoo Nakisi, and Jones all have been granted furloughs from their hooks this month, while the New Albion Privateer takes a well-deserved break.

Today’s clouds: Not that ominous.

On Thursday I was riding the Nakisi, and not well. The trails are deep sand in some spots and gullied in others, the 700×43 Bruce Gordons were probably pumped up a tad too hard, and my mad skillz — well, the less said about them the better. I was dabbing everywhere.

So yesterday I took the Jones out for a spin on the same trails, and it was mucho bettero, as we say south of the border. Still rolling a wee bit overinflated, but since the tires were big ol’ 29×2.4 muthas at least I wasn’t embarrassing myself. Not much, anyway.

And there’s still quite an audience out there enjoying this fine fall weather instead of putting nose to grindstone for The Man. Hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, and cyclists, most of the latter astride your consarned dadblasted newfangled whizbangs with the 1x drivetrains, boingy bits front and rear, hydraulic discs, dropper posts, and what have you.

Cain’t even fit a proper water bottle in there anywheres. Gotta wear a backpack with a sack in it, suck on a hose like a deadbeat siphoning gas from a workin’ feller’s car.

Speaking of the ol’ suckee-suckee, the WaPo warns that fall might be turning a tad winterish for some of yis. Get the chimbley swept and keep your snow shovel and long johns where you can find ’em in the dark. Don’t want to be caught with your drawers down and your arse in the wind when Thor starts swinging his hammer.

Cheap dates

October 6, 2021

If you had seen this sky yesterday, your first thought would not have been, “Bet it’s gonna rain tomorrow.”

I was lazing in the bed this morning, contemplating the day ahead.

“Maybe I’ll ride the Jones down south, check out the trails below Menaul,” I mused. “Or I could take the New Albion Privateer out east past Tijeras. Haven’t ridden the Voodoo Nakisi in a while — I wonder how crowded it’ll be around Elena Gallegos.”

Then, I stretched, got up, and headed for the reading room, where I heard the pitter-patter of … raindrops on the skylight?

Raindrops? Who ordered the raindrops?

Well. Shit. What a delightful gift. Maybe the skeeters will all catch pneumonia, or drown. Sonsabitches made an amuse-bouche of my ankles last evening as I chatted with a neighbor. Go bite a Republican, you disease-spreading bloodsuckers. Wouldn’t you be happier dining on your own kind?

No, not you, neighbor. The skeeters.

In other news, friend and colleague Nick Legan blazed through town on Monday. He was motoring down from Colorado to oversee a video shoot for Shimano, and hollered at me from the road, so we had him over to the rancheroo for some medium-heavy refreshments before he had to get down to business supervising the artistes.

Afterward Nick asked for a tour of the garage, where he complimented me on The Fleet, observing cannily that clearly I favored the “affordable bike.” Which is true.

The Soma Double Cross, back to its dirty roots.

It’s possible to spend a great deal of money on bicycles, or even a bicycle, or at least look as though you have (cough, cough, bro’ deal, cough). But it’s not necessary. So there’s a lot of old steel in my armory, where modernity has to make do with representation by nine-speed Ultegra STI.

Lately I’ve been riding bikes from Merry Sales — either a Soma Saga (now discontinued) or the New Albion Privateer — and if I had to drastically thin my herd these two would probably make the cut.

For sure the Privateer would. It’s a versatile, affordable, eye-catching beastie and up for just about anything, from cross-town to cross-country.

All told we have five Merry Sales machines in The Fleet — two Soma Sagas, two Soma Double Crosses, and the New Albion Privateer. It all started with me buying a Double Cross for Herself. I was so impressed that I bought another for myself. Over the years it’s been a cyclocross bike, a light-touring bike, and a townie-slash-grocery bike.

It’s been the latter for a while now, and I found I was rarely riding it, in part because I’ve been making fewer and heavier grocery trips during the Plague Years, and in part because I never really warmed up to that configuration (swept-back bar, bolt-upright position, flat pedals).

So the other day I turned it back into a cyclocross bike, kinda-sorta, with eight-speed Shimano bar-end shifters, a vintage XT FC-M730 triple and newer XT/Ultegra derailleurs, PD-M540 SPDs, battered Shimano 600 brake levers and IRD Cafam cantis, 700×42 Soma Cazadero tires, Deda Elementi 215 handlebar, and a Ritchey WCS stem that’s just a hair too long and too low.

I even resurrected a beat-to-shit Selle Italia Flite saddle and some Off the Front handlebar tape for the project. Remember Off the Front? Bruce and Jodie Ruana? Started out cutting up shower curtains in SoCal, then set up a small home factory in Nevada, and finally fled the bike biz altogether for straight jobs so they could live to tell the tale.

Anyway, all of a sudden I’ve been riding the shit out of my Double Cross. And what fun it is, too. I did a three-day credit-card tour on it back in 2012 and had a delightful time. Lately I’m just pooting around town, on and off pavement as the spirit moves.

Your modern Double Cross has taken a distinctly gravelish turn, with disc brakes, more bottom-bracket drop, and more mounts for this and that. Different strokes, as the fella says. I bet it’s just swell, for those of you who demand all them consarned newfangled whizbangs, whatchamacallits, and comosellamas.

Me, I’ll stick to my old-school DC, thanks all the same. But that Soma Pescadero sure looks interesting. …

These kids today

September 14, 2021

All tired out.

So there I was, just riding along, when the rear tire started going softer than Brett Kavanaugh’s FBI background check.

I was already heading home, so I figured I’d just head there faster. But first I stopped to pump the tire up a bit because cornering on the rim at speed is always iffy.

That worked, for a while, but it was clear I would have to stop to give the ol’ Zéfal another workout if I wanted to ride this mess home, where the floor pump, workstand, and air conditioning reside.

So there I was, just pumping along, when a couple young women on mountain bikes rolled up.

“Do you need any help?” one asked brightly.

“No, thanks, I’m good,” I replied. And off they went.

Wasn’t that nice of the younguns, to offer aid and comfort to the auld fella? Lucky for them I wasn’t a Supreme Court justice.

Benched

September 9, 2021

Looking NNW from the Candelaria Bench Trail after ascending from the southern end.

Since I didn’t seem to be suffering overmuch from Tuesday’s eight-mile hike, I decided I’d do ’er again Wednesday.

Not the same exact hike, of course. This time I paid a call on the Candelaria Bench Loop, which is right here in the ’hood.

I thought I’d get right down to business by tackling the steep and sketchy middle route up, which starts pretty much right from the northern trailhead, where Comanche dead-ends.

That’s the big city down there.

And then I thought again. Nossir, let’s have ourselves a little warmup first. Break loose a few of those old adhesions, see if the sludge will soften enough to lube the moving parts. The southern ascent will do.

It’s amazing how much a little weather will change the character of a trail, particularly one that wobbles upward like an errant bottle rocket. It was crisscrossed with ruts from runoff, grasses and cacti had closed in, and at one point about halfway up I wondered whether I had managed to wander off the trail entirely.

Nope. I arrived without incident and the Bench was as you see it. Pretty green still, especially for September, and I was the only two-legged beast in evidence, though if you linger near the Tramway side of things Albuquerque’s car culture manages to make its presence known (zoom, honk, roar, beep, crash, bang, boom, whoop whoop whoop, etc).

Up top some of the dirt was still dark with moisture, and so was I, because it was 80-something and practically windless. I cooled down by wandering around for a bit, appreciating the dearth of retail and rooftops, and then descended cautiously through the stair-stepped Valley of Boulders to Hidden Valley Road and headed for the barn.

The loss of flexibility that accompanies advancing age, buttressed by a pigheaded indifference to stretching, yoga, and resistance training, makes the descents interesting, especially when they’ve been rearranged by cascading water. At intervals I used my hickory stick like the safety rails found in certain toilet stalls, the ones with a wheelchair emblem.

Despite myself I made it down hat side up and celebrated with a delicious batch of chipotle-honey chicken tacos in the old Crock-Pot. If you ever find yourself both fatigued and famished after a hike in the hills this sumbitch is a culinary walk in the park.

Horsing around

September 7, 2021

A horse bypass leads to a saddle. Irony scratches her mosquito bites.

The day after a national holiday weekend is generally top notch for riding trail, if the weather permits. Everyone who hasn’t tripped the Bug-O-Meter® or gotten arrested for fleeing the fuzz is back to work, or school, and a fella has a little elbow room out there among the cacti and buzzworms.

But for some inexplicable reason I decided to take a hike instead. Go figure.

I got the traditional late start (O’Grady Standard Time), so with the sun up, the wind at my back, and a steady uphill trudge for most of the first hour or so, I was sweating like a sausage in a skillet, doffing my hat at intervals to mop the brain-case with a bandana.

Slouching up Trail 365 I turned for no good reason onto the Embudo Trail Horse Bypass, mainly because I’d never used it and was idly curious. Generally I loop around on 365A and head back down to El Rancho Pendejo.

The bypass wound upward to a ridge that overlooks Embudo Trail 193, and so did I. Thought briefly about following it down to where the two trails merge, but I didn’t know exactly where that was, or what the footing might be like after the monsoons. Plus I’d been out for 90 minutes already, probably sweated off all the sunscreen, and was down to about a half liter of water and a half tube of Clif Blox.

Hey, it was a trail for horses, not a horse’s ass. I turned around, whinnied, and hoofed it home.

For a minute there I was all aTwitter

September 4, 2021

This is not a buzzworm. It is, however, his office.

Touting this week’s installment of Desert Oracle Radio, Ken Layne notes:

Portents and signs, everywhere we look. But signs of what? Oh, the usual: plague, disaster, but at least we have social media to make it all worse.

On my hike this morning I saw two snakes, a buzzworm at the beginning and a bull at the turnaround point.

Surely this must have been a sign of something? Probably that I had seen two snakes in the actual grass instead of on Twitter.

The cool September morn

September 1, 2021

I guess I can skip the rubdown with SPF 70 this morning.

Huh. Must be a national-holiday weekend on the horizon. ’Cause there’s plenty grim-looking clouds up there to keep it company.

Looks like a page-one meeting at The Washington Post:

“Gloom, yep. Despair, check. Agony, roger. How about a light feature? ‘How the delta variant stole Christmas?’ We need art, maybe a Barbie on a ventilator.”

Gaia must have the DTs. She’s boiling Lake Tahoe like a teapot and power-washing Tucson like a redneck sheriff blasting hippies and coloreds off his streets. A brother-in-law had to drive from Maryland to Louisiana and back to rescue a daughter whose Nawlins vacation went all Waterworld on her.

And unvaccinated Americans are advised to avoid Labor Day travel. Ho, ho, etc. Unless they’re traveling to a vaccination clinic to terrorize health-care workers.

Me, I’m just glad I got a nice ride in yesterday, ’cause it looks like the surf’s up today. And when it comes to surfing, you can call me Charlie.

Mission accomplished

August 31, 2021

The backyard maple is shedding leaves, and it’s not even Labor Day yet.

’Twas a glorious day to ride the bike in ’Burque.

Nobody told me I had waited too long, or left too soon, or was just plain doing it wrong. That I had left my wife and cat behind raised nary an eyebrow among the chattering classes.

This may be because El Rancho Pendejo remained firmly under the control of said wife and cat; their autocratic ways are not exactly breaking news. Herself has been in the driver’s seat since 1990, and Miss Mia Sopaipilla has been a key member of the ruling class for nearly half that time.

In my absence they do exactly as they please, which is pretty much what they do when I’m around, the United Nations and Geneva Conventions be damned.

The only uproar arose when I returned after 90 minutes of pooting around in the foothills on the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff.

“What’s to eat around here?” they yowled. The knives were out, along with the forks. Can a call for comment from The New York Times be far behind?