Archive for the ‘Bicycle travel’ Category

‘It’s stupid not to bike.’

November 9, 2019

Grandpa John whiled away his retirement making miniature pianos, replicas of JFK’s rocker, and other lovely bits of woodwork instead of riding a bicycle. For transportation he preferred a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior.

I don’t care to live in Copenhagen. The climate seems ill-suited to a worshipper of Tonatiuh who knows why his bog-trotting, ring-kissing, pub-crawling ancestors invented the uisce beatha.

My stepgrandfather on my mother’s side was a Dane, but he didn’t want to live in Copenhagen either. He lived in Sioux City, Iowa, where he was retired from the railroad and whiled away the hours drinking beer and smoking cigars, maintaining a medium-heavy vegetable garden in the back yard, and making lovely bits of this and that in a basement full of woodworking tools.

I don’t recall ever seeing Grandpa John aboard a bicycle, though he certainly had the leisure time for cycling. He drove a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior, because that’s what a fella did in America.

Which is a shame, really. Because if we hadn’t built our cities around Grandpa John’s stately maroon Cadillac with cream interior, The New York Times might be writing stories about Albuquerque, the cycling capital of the Southwest, where the residents neither own cars nor care to, because the bicycle “is typically the easiest way to get around.”

Albuquerque probably has Copenhagen beat when it comes to cycling weather. Today, for example, we’re looking at mostly sunny conditions with a high in the low 60s, and more than 10 hours of daylight, while Copenhagen can expect a high in the low 40s, rain, and less than nine hours of daylight.

But if you think I’m gonna ride my cargo bike to the Sunport to fetch Herself home when she jets in from Florida, well, think again, Jens old scout.

First, the Sunport is a 25-mile round trip from El Rancho Pendejo, with a thousand feet of vertical gain. Second, Herself travels about as lightly as Hannibal crossing the Alps. And third, the roads seem to be full of cars for some reason. Not stately maroon Cadillacs with cream interiors, mind you, but suburban tanks about the size of Hannibal’s elephants. And their mahouts are all inattentive, impaired, or insane.

Anyway, I don’t have a cargo bike. Because for better or for worse, Albuquerque isn’t fucking Copenhagen.

And until we rethink our cities and how we get around and about in them, we’ll have to settle for reading about Paradise from our parking lots.

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.

Masi! Gesundheit!

May 24, 2019

The Masi Speciale Randonneur, up against the Wall of Science.

There’s a new bike in the house: a Masi Speciale Randonneur.

It’s one of them there newfangled “sport touring all-road bikes,” but you don’t gotta plug it in at night. 650b x 47 rubber. Columbus Cromor tubes. Three sets of bottle bosses and the usual rack and fender mounts, plus fenders to go with ’em.

If I can beat back these allergies its maiden voyage will be tomorrow. Yesterday I felt like I’d been tear-gassed. Today I squeezed about eight hours out of a Claritin-D 12 Hour, which if my math is correct falls about four hours short of getting ’er done.

Just what the e-doctor ordered

May 13, 2019

I’m shocked, shocked, that some people seem to believe that e-bikes are the modern equivalent of the philosopher’s stone.

This just in: E-bikes cure* Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, post-nasal drip, gout, piles, dandruff, denture breath, and the heartbreak of psoriasis (Christ, you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy, c’mon, c’mon).

* You will note the caveat buried deep in the piece: “(A)ttaining these health benefits requires tackling the problem of poor street design and infrastructure in America. Everything from high speed limits to wide roads to light timing that prioritizes the flow of vehicles poses a threat to older people walking in their communities … and also creates barriers to people participating in cycling.”

Cool cats

April 4, 2019

Mister Jones and me, stumbling through the barrio.

Oof. The allergies are fierce. I slept OK last night, thanks to a hit of Benadryl, but the previous night I woke up at midnight with my nose running like a Democrat after the White House.

Snorting and snuffling like a hog hunting truffles, I had to relocate to the spare bedroom so that Herself could bag the Z’s she needs to help Darth Goodhair run the Energy Department.

And I felt like hammered shit most of yesterday, so none of the ol’ bikey ridey for Your Humble Narrator. In fact, I suspect that a two-hour trail ride through the junipers may have triggered the late-night snotlocker meltdown.

But we were talking about cool cats, and so here’s the tale of a Scottish cycle tourist who made a new friend on his two-wheeled trip around the world.

I suggested a global bicycle tour to Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) and his adjutant, Miss Mia Sopaipilla, and they told me I could fuck right off with that shit and bring them something to delicious to eat at once, if not sooner.

Also, here’s Marc Maron’s interview with T Bone Burnett, a very cool cat indeed who’s taking a hiatus from production to release his first album in 11 years, “The Invisible Light.”

Burnett’s chat with Maron covers a lot of waterfront, from the Beat Generation to Jackson Pollock, Jimmie Rodgers to “True Detective.” Did you know that Robert Johnson’s real name was Dusty Spencer? Or that the blues came from Texas? That mariachi music comes from the French?

Me neither. Maybe it’s the Benadryl talking. Just what I need, another voice in my head.

Wheeling to the Roundhouse

December 10, 2018

Rep. Rubio (bicycle not included).

There’s more than one way to Santa Fe from Las Cruces, and Rep. Angelica Rubio has found a lively one.

The Las Cruces Democrat will be riding her bike to the City Different for the upcoming legislative session, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Rubio hopes to use the ride in part “to raise awareness about a proposal to create a new state office of outdoor recreation, an idea that’s supported by Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham,” according to the Journal.

No word whether she’ll be on an e-bike, the flavor of the moment. But she will be riding gravel whenever possible, so she’s got that going for her, which is nice. Follow along via www.rubiosride.com.

Albatross!

July 3, 2018

The Soma Double Cross in townie configuration.

Lots of bikey stuff going on around here lately. It makes a welcome distraction from the news, which as per usual is mostly bad. And likewise from the weather, which is mostly hot.

Since my Voodoo Wazoo has become a kinda-sorta 700c mountain bike, I decided to turn the Soma Double Cross into a townie for short hops hither and thither, or even long ones.

The Double Cross had been rigged as a light touring bike, with XT triple crank and eight-speed XT rear derailleur, drop bar, bar-end shifters, and aero levers (augmented with top-mounted brake levers) to operate the Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis. Now it sports an Albatross bar and Dia-Compe SS-6 brake levers from Rivendell, and of course the bar-cons stuck around for the ride.

Albatross!

At 27.2 pounds it’s nearly 5 pounds lighter than either of my Soma Saga touring bikes, so it makes for a sporty little errand boy.

The Bianchi Orso 105, up against The Wall of Science.

Meanwhile, the next bike in the Adventure Cyclist review pipeline is a Bianchi Orso with 11-speed 105 STI, hydraulic stoppers and thru-axles. Quite the technological advance from eight-speed XT with bar-cons, rim brakes and quick-releases, or so the industry would have you believe. Engineers gotta engineer, marketers gotta market. Still, I wonder when we’re going to run out of 50/34 cranks and 11-32 cassettes so a brother can get a touring drivetrain up in this bitch.

All this wrenching and riding and whatnot makes a feller hungry, so last night I whipped up a mess of chicken tacos in salsa verde with a side of Mexican rice. Anybody who thinks I make a shambles as a mechanic should see what I did to the kitchen. It was worth it, though. And now we have leftovers. Huzzah, etc.

The path is the way

June 19, 2018

Looking east toward Albuquerque from the 98th Street end of the I-40 Trail.

Today’s ride sort of got away from me.

That fine country gentleman Sam Hillborne and I rolled north on Tramway nine-ish and it was 1 in the peeyem before we got back. Fifty miles is a long way for one of us.

I was thinking we’d roll down Tramway and under I-25 along Roy to 4th, then noodle over to the Alameda open space and thence onto the Paseo del Bosque. And so we did.

Take it to the bridge! The Gail Ryba Memorial Bridge, that is.

But at I-40 I decided on a whim to hang a right and experience the Gail Ryba Memorial Bridge, named to honor the founder of Bike ABQ and the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico. Gail, a former Sandia Lab researcher, died of cancer in May 2010, and Friend of the Blog Khalil S. noted her passing here.

For some reason I’d never headed west on the I-40 Trail, which goes all the way to 98th, and today there was pretty much nobody out there but me. I felt like Magellan after crossing the Rio on Gail’s bridge.

There are a couple screwy multilane-thoroughfare crossings — none of your fancy-schmancy bridges there, bucko — and one poorly marked U-turn under Coors at Ouray Road, just past the Walmart. That double-left leads to a narrow stretch of trail by a storage concern that looks like a lovely place for a quiet killing.

But once past that, it’s smooth sailing. In fact, a touring cyclist westbound from, say, El Rancho Pendejo, armed with a working knowledge of the city’s bicycle trails, wouldn’t have to spend more than a dozen minutes riding on actual streets while traversing the Duke City.

Of course, once the bike path runs out by 98th, you’ve got I-40 to deal with. Weed, whites and wine, etc. Just stay willin’ … to be movin’.

The Rio, as seen from Gail’s bridge.

Freewheeling Friday

January 12, 2018
Old Pueblo Road, just south of Hanover Road.

Travel by bicycle. It pays off for the cyclist and the places s/he visits.

My peeps at the Adventure Cycling Association get a little love in this High Country News piece about bicycle tourism and how it’s come to benefit a couple of tiny Montana towns.

Says ACA’s Laura Crawford: “It’s not a get-rich-quick sort of scheme, but a long-term, sustainable investment.”

With no electric buses, major construction projects or flim-flamming of taxpayers required, I might add. In fact, I just did.

Shocktober

October 25, 2017

I’m getting hungry — peel me a grape.

I hate to do this to anyone who’s already “enjoying” more seasonal weather, but it’s either this or politics.

Yes, that is me, riding a Marin Nicasio locked and loaded with racks and sacks. In late October. Wearing shorts, a short-sleeved jersey, and sunscreen. Ice in the water bottles. Blue in the sky.

The world is a cold, cruel place.

Well, not here. Here it’s just cruel.*

* OK, if it helps dull the pain, I was actually working, just like you.** This is a still from some video to support my review of the Marin Nicasio, coming to a copy of Adventure Cyclist near you in February 2018.

** Well, if you can call riding around like a bum during business hours “working,” anyway.