Archive for the ‘Bicycle travel’ Category

A Bozo and his bus

March 9, 2016
Come closer, folks; don't crowd the wheels. ...

Come closer, folks; don’t crowd the wheels. …

I can’t hear the name “Clem” without thinking of The Firesign Theatre classic, “I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus.”

This is not to disrespect the Clem Smith Jr. from Rivendell Bicycle Works. The Firesigns’ Clem didn’t have much Bozo in him, and neither does this one.

In “Bozos,” Clem wasn’t clowning around when he took on a Disneyesque Audio-Animatronics President Nixon at the Future Fair. Half computer hacker, half Zen master giving koan instruction, Clem — a.k.a. Worker — demonstrated conclusively that reality has more than a little plasticity to it.

And Rivendell’s Clem is likewise on a mission — to get you out of your car, and your Lycra, too, and at a reasonable price.

I don’t have a ton of miles on it yet. Shucks, I haven’t even ridden it to Hideo Nutt’s Bolt-a-Drome yet. But it sure is a pleasant distraction from Il Douche and his prime-time infomercials.

 

 

 

Long-term parking

March 1, 2016
Jeez, another dude merging without using his turn signal.

Jeez, another dude merging without using his turn signal.

Interesting read here, and a “big idea” indeed.

The author opines that removing vehicles from the nation’s streets “would make urban life cheaper, safer, quieter and more pleasant,” and that good public transportation “coupled with fast, safe, pleasant walking and bicycling can easily meet the need for movement within our cities.”

As a bicyclist who just drove a couple thousand miles to the Phoenix clusterplex and back, and as a resident of the Duke City, where driving like a deranged asshole is the official city sport, I can dig it. The recent trend toward cheap gas has not made motoring any happier, either, unless you’re one of the overpowered, underbrained sociopaths who thinks “Max Max: Fury Road” was a documentary.

But I’d sure like to see some numbers on the up-front cost of shifting urban hellholes like Phoenix, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas to auto-free — or even auto-limited — human-friendly habitats. Somehow the word “cheaper” is not the first descriptive to leap to mind.

Tell me, who are you?

February 22, 2016

mcdowell-sunset

I took the Tube back out of town

Back to the Rollin’ Pin

I felt a little like a dying clown

With a streak of Rin Tin Tin.

—”Who Are You,” by The Who

When the machinery starts acting up, what’s the first thing the IT guy asks?

“Have you tried turning it off and then turning it back on?”

Well, I turned it off last Monday, but I didn’t get around to turning it back on until today. Sorry ’bout that.

I hadn’t had a good old road trip in far too long, so I took one. And I mean a road trip for me, one in which it was not necessary for me to be me for a few days. One must shut the fuck up from time to time, give the old pie-hole (and everyone else’s ears) a little R&R. Turn it off.

mcdowell-camp-dog

Camp Dog.

I suppose I could have taken a napping tour of Soho doorways, but that sounded a bit extreme, so instead I pissed off to McDowell Mountain Regional Park outside Fountain Hills, Ariz.

The park is a bolt hole I used for years, but hadn’t visited in a while, and it was a pleasure to return. The weather was stellar, neither too hot nor too cold; there were some brand-new trails to explore; and while plugging into the Innertubes is possible out there among the cacti and coyotes, it remains something of a pain in the arse, so I didn’t bother trying. I did check mail once, using my phone, to see if anything demanded my immediate attention. It didn’t.

Nobody gave me an Airstream Interstate Grand Tour EXT for solstice, so I used my old North Face Expedition-25 tent and a new REI sunshade for shelter. And as regards cooking mostly I did not, as like the daily parade of conspiracies on the Innertubes it had become something of a nuisance.

Instead, I noshed on bits of this and that — baby greens with avocado and tomato slathered in olive oil, Creminelli salami and Barber’s cheddar on crackers, fruit, yogurt, granola, LaraBars, rice and whatnot.

I did, however, brew the obligatory pot of powerful black coffee first thing every morning. After a cuppa and a LaraBar I went for a run, and after that it was another cuppa, some yogurt and granola, and a ride on one of the two bikes I’d fetched along. Lunch was either out of the cooler or at DJ’s Bagel Cafe, which to my surprise was still open — and still good — after all these years. For dinner it was back to the cooler.

Come evening I enjoyed the sunset, the moonrise and a brief coyote concert, then turned in, listened to a little Mozart from the Academy of St. Martin In the Fields, read a bit of poetry, and nodded off. Next day I did it all again, but on different trails.

It wasn’t all fun and games. There were notes and pictures taken, and video shot. But I did not publish, until today. And as you see, I have not perished.

marin-bags-granite

The Marin Four Corners Elite, tricked out with Revelate bikepacking bags.

A saga of two Sagas

January 14, 2016
The Soma Saga Disc.

The Soma Saga Disc.

It’s been Ride Your Own Damn Bike Week here at Mad Dog Media, and a refreshing change of pace it’s been, too.

Playing with other people’s toys is a privilege, and a hell of a lot of fun, but it’s always nice to lay hands on your own again. Consider it the bike reviewer’s version of a palate-cleanser between courses. It also gives you the chance to re-evaluate your own bikes, see whether you need to shed a few long-held biases.

Yesterday and the day before I rode the Soma Saga Disc, and I felt a little too upright, so I dropped the bars 10mm and instantly felt better.

The Soma Saga canti model.

The Soma Saga canti model.

I thought I might need to shorten the stem by an equivalent amount, too. Three consecutive review bikes have arrived sporting 80mm stems, and while those felt a tad stubby to me, a 90mm would be just about right, was my reasoning.

Then today I rode the cantilever Saga home after dropping the Subaru at an auto upholsterer and felt just fine using what I thought was an identical cockpit.

And so it was. Same amount of spacers under the stem, same extension, same 17-degree rise.

Turns out it wasn’t the cockpit. The canti’ Saga sports a straight Thomson post. The disc Saga’s Soma post has a wee bit of setback. Duh.

Meanwhile, I ain’t superstitious, but a black cat crossed my trail as I rode home. A little further along, some bozo in a big ol’ pick-’em-up truck blew through the red light at Manitoba and Tramway a full three seconds late, doing at least the posted speed limit of 50-per.

As it happens I’m one of those cyclists who doesn’t even clip in until he’s seen that everyone else has come to a full stop, so no harm, no foul.

Big ups to the fellow traveler who gave the asshole a long blast on the horn as he shot past, though.

 

 

Look at that turkey

November 25, 2015
Your Humble Narrator pretends to be a self-supported tourist on Tramway, about 20 minutes from EL Rancho Pendejo.

Your Humble Narrator pretends to be a self-supported tourist on Tramway, about 20 minutes from EL Rancho Pendejo.

It’s not what it looks like — Your Humble Narrator ripping up the roads en route to someplace sunny, his panniers full of camping gear, bike parts and journalistical accoutrements.

Nope, just shooting a bit of video to tease my review of the Opus Legato 1.0 in the latest edition of Adventure Cyclist magazine. I was out for about an hour, rolling up and down Tramway while taking selfies like all the other narcissists.

Still, it got me away from the Innertubez, where life was busily imitating art again. The Russia-Turkey dick-waving competition was reminding me of the early pages of “Alas, Babylon,” while the GOP pestilential contest was shaping up about like “It Can’t Happen Here.”

These are dire days for fans of apocalyptic fiction and prescient political satire, and my natural misanthropy was on full boil. That is, until a motorist pulled over to ask if I needed any help as I fiddled with my cameras, and a cyclist likewise paused to ask where I was bound, then told me about an actual tour he had wrapped earlier this year, a massive, months-long expedition that basically took him to all points of the compass and back again.

There’s hope after all. Let us be thankful.

Through a windshield, darkly

September 15, 2015
It's a long and lonely road when the wind is up in your grill like you owe it money.

It’s a long and lonely road when the wind is up in your grill like you owe it money.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (MDM) — It seems as though I always see at least one tourist while motoring to and from Interbike.

interbike-bugThis poor sod was fighting a wicked head wind that took my miles per gallon down from Subaru Forester to GMC Yukon range. He had just struggled out of the rest area east of Flagstaff, and I didn’t see him until it was almost too late to snap a “quick” pic (goddamn the iPhone and its secret-password bullshit anyway).

It probably didn’t help that I was listening to a collection of old “National Lampoon Radio Hour” classics and giggling like a stoner. Some of the bits hold up mighty well, like “Stand Up,” “Light Your Faith” and “Frank Rizzo and the Philadelphia Police League for Retarded Children.” Yeah, I know, not exactly politically correct but funnier than shit.

Dinner at the Beaver Street Brewery & Whistle Stop Cafe was decent, but not spectacular. The clientele seemed decidedly geezerish, so it would appear that my Hip-O-Meter© is on the fritz as usual. God only knows where the cool kidz chill in this burg, and I ain’t askin’ Him, ’cause I’m in a hurry to get to Interbike and look at some toys.

Meanwhile, keeping watch over Elly Mae’s critters has apparently ruined me for sleeping in. I was up long before sunrise and they don’t even break out the java in this dump until 6:30.

Next stop: Sin City.

The Big Yellow Ball has company in the sky today. A little rain would definitely lubricate the final push through the desert.

The Big Yellow Ball has company in the sky today. A little rain would definitely lubricate the final push through the desert.

A day in the life

June 12, 2015
Descending on Trail 365 near the Embudo Dam.

Descending on Trail 365 near the Embudo Dam.

Every now and then, when I get a check in the mail, as I did yesterday, I wonder what I did to earn it. This thing of mine is not exactly ditch-digging, after all. Mostly it seems quite a bit like play.

But I kept track of yesterday’s chores, for some reason, and so here’s a look at a day in the life of a freelance cycling rumormonger.

• Wrote an 850-word column for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, on the joys of being a one-car, 16-bicycle family.

• Drew and colored a cartoon about motors in the peloton, also for BRAIN.

• Did an hour or so of hills on the Elephant NFE, stopping periodically to shoot some GoPro footage for its video review, which will accompany its Adventure Cyclist print review, which is fighting for space in my skull with ongoing impressions of a Felt V100 and Opus Legato 1.0.

• Pulled the footage off the GoPro, dropped it into iMovie, and did a bit of planning/editing.

• Declined a couple days’ worth of copyediting, my least favorite chore.

• Reinstalled the porteur and low-rider racks on the Elephant, being extra careful to not clamp anything down on any cable housing anywhere.

• Did a little casual research on the Swift Industries and Revelate bags.

Like I said, not exactly ditch-digging. Still, I’ll take the money. And thanks.

Elephant on the trail

June 10, 2015
The Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer, on Trail 365A, slightly southeast and decidedly upward from El Rancho Pendejo.

The Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer, on Trail 365A, slightly southeast and decidedly upward from El Rancho Pendejo.

The Pacific Northwest has come to the Southwest in the guise of an Elephant Bikes National Forest Explorer.

This steel bike by Glen Copus out of Spokane, Washington, is intended for dirt roads, commuting and bike-packing. It’s my first 650b model, so I’ve been having fun with that after a steady diet of 29ers and 700c loaded tourers.

The NFE came with a whole raft of PNW goodies on the side: a matching Haulin’ Colin porteur rack (Seattle); a Tubus Duo low-rider rack (Auburn, Washington); an Ozette Randonneuring Bag and Jr. Ranger panniers from Swift Industries (Seattle); a Pika seat bag from Revelate Designs (Anchorage, Alaska, and Springfield, Oregon); and Gevenalle GX shifters (Portland, Oregon).

I don’t get to spend a ton of time with the NFE, so it’s kind of forced its way to the head of the Adventure Cyclist review queue, as elephants will do. At the moment it’s just a bike, stripped of racks and bags, but it will soon become a beast of burden.

Just call me Hannibal. Lemme at them Alps.

The Elephant NFE up against the Wall of Science.

The Elephant NFE up against the Wall of Science.

Two wheels, zero brains

May 21, 2015
I picked a fine day to ride from the Sandias to the Rio and back again.

I picked a fine day to ride from the Sandias to the Rio and back again.

It’s been a couple weeks since Herself’s Subaru was towed away to its 永眠の地 (eimin no chi), or final resting place, and so far we seem to be getting by OK with only the one motor vehicle, El Rancho Pendejo being fairly well stocked with two-wheelers.

We had a bit of alternative-transportation fun around here yesterday, however. Or I did, anyway.

While we decide what, if anything, to do about the one-car situation, I decided it might be smart to have my Vespa LX50 shipped down from Bibleburg, a process that has more than a few hoops to hop through.

Since I didn’t ride it throughout the winter and early spring, it being there and me being here, the battery died. So I couldn’t drive it to Sportique for spring maintenance when last I was there instead of here. Thus, Sportique needs to fetch the thing, charge it up, and give it a wash and brushup before another fellow handles transport later this month or early next.

Toward that end, I planned to FedEx the keys to the garage and Vespa to a friend who lives in our old ‘hood. He’d open the garage, hand off the keys, and that would be that. Easy sleazy.

Uh huh.

So I hop on the Voodoo townie and pedal over to the FedEx shop yesterday only to find my wallet bereft of credit card. Seems some eejit wearing my face left the card at El Bruno’s after enjoying a plate of chicken enchiladas in a nuclear green chile the night before.

Well, fuck me running, I think. Check the wallet again. Twenty-eight smacks in Dead President Trading Cards. And these keys need to go overnight because my friend and his wife are leaving on vacation Saturday, the delivery guy is expecting to pick up my scoot directly, and Sportique needs some time to put it in proper working order.

“How close to overnight can I get this package to Colorado Springs for with $28 to spend?” I ask the FedEx person.

Phew. Made it with two bucks to spare.

Then all I had to do was cycle on down to El Bruno’s to collect the credit card. That only took about an hour and 45 minutes, with 800-plus feet of vertical gain for the homebound leg.

That’s one way to sweat out a combo plate.

• Editor’s note: This looks like an interesting rig. A buddy at The New York Times tipped me off to it.

Getting Felt up

May 19, 2015
The Felt V100 is one of three bikes awaiting review for Adventure Cyclist. At $849, it's a cheap grocery-getter, even more so than a Honda Fit Sport.

The Felt V100 is one of three bikes awaiting review for Adventure Cyclist. At $849, it’s a cheap grocery-getter, even more so than a Honda Fit Sport.

One nice thing about having all these bloody bicycles lying about the place — besides the obvious, which is that it’s nice to have a bunch of bloody bicycles lying about the place — is that when one is down to a single motor vehicle, one has options.

I used this Felt V100, an Old Man Mountain rack and a pair of Jandd Economy Panniers to fetch about $80 worth of groceries home from the Whole Paycheck yesterday. The ride home took 40 minutes, it being all uphill and into a headwind, so everything was nicely solar-cooked by the time I got back to El Rancho Pendejo. Bonus! Mmm, E. coli in botulism sauce.

And looks like I’d better get used to it. Herself and I popped round to the Honda dealer yesterday and she wouldn’t even test-drive anything. And why should she? She has my Subaru Forester, a low-mileage creampuff previously owned by a little old man who only drove it to the Whole Paycheck.

My colleague Matt Wiebe, the tech editor at Bicycle Retailer, says he knows where I can get a deal on a second-hand Harley. But I think I’ll have the Vespa shipped down from Bibleburg instead.

Meanwhile, thanks to one and all for the auto recommendations. You are all hereby penalized two minutes for your assistance.

• Editor’s note: This is my 1,500th post on this blog. ‘Ray for me. 


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