Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Rocket Grrrls

November 23, 2020

Check the speed on the Cateye. I wasn’t that slow all day long,
but I was pretty damn close.

The weather has taken a seasonal turn. Yesterday I waited overlong to get out for a ride and the wind bullied me, getting all up in my grill no matter which direction I was headed.

The nice thing about riding a cyclocross bike on a day like this is that it gives you more options for dodging the breeze. So I swapped pavement for trail and trail for pavement as necessary for a little over an hour, jinking this way or that if the wind or some maskless eejit loomed large dead ahead.

When I got tired of playing meteorological and virological hide-and-seek I headed for home through High Desert. I had glimpsed what I thought was a pair of roadies behind me as I ground along in too big a gear past the Bear Canyon Trailhead, and figured they’d hang a right on Spain, but nope.

It was two women from the Rocket Grrrls squad on either ’cross bikes or gravel bikes, and they passed me on the short climb to Wilderness Estates, where a short connector trail leads to the Embudito Trailhead and the pavement that takes me back to El Rancho Pendejo.

They were on fire, too. Rocket Grrrls indeed. I didn’t bother to get off to check for flats or rubbing brake pads. I’ve ridden with Karen Hornbostel, Mari Holden, Dede Demet, Alison Dunlap, and Katie Compton, if only briefly and without distinction, and I know when I’ve been chicked.

Just farting around

November 13, 2020

The Big Fella must be letting Baby Jeebus fingerpaint again.

One thing about cycling in the desert — it’s tough to reacclimate to the chilly weather that even residents of the fabulous Duke City must endure from time to time.

Checking the training log yesterday I noticed that I’d been on foot a lot lately, either hiking or jogging (yes, I’ve started that back up again, in an extremely cautious, limited, and sissified fashion).

I seem to have a lot of bikes around here for some reason, so I thought I’d grab one and go for a spin as a change of pace. But what to wear?

All my kit is about a thousand years old, but at least there’s plenty of it, so sorting through the pile burns a bit of daylight, if there is any.

Old favorites included a long-sleeved Descente jersey that dates to the Nineties, some lightweight Pearl Izumi tights that are nearly as old, and a pair of threadbare Smartwool socks. Items from this millennium included bib shorts and a short-sleeved jersey, both from Voler; long-fingered Pearl Izumi gloves; a Sugoi tuque; and my Shimano SHXM700-S G Gore-Tex clodhoppers.

It was an imperfect ensemble, as per usual. In addition to looking as though I had just rolled out of a time machine I was underdressed for downhills and overdressed for climbs.

Still, it beat the mortal nuts out of hanging around the office awaiting dispatches like the one Herself just delivered, about how the White House staff has taken to burning incense in quantity to mask the nostril-searing stench of Il Douche’s fast-food-and-fear farts.

R.I.P., Garrett Lai

October 2, 2020

Sad news: Garrett Lai, one of the cycling journos, has gone west.

Garrett was running Bicycle Guide back when I was a minor cog in the VeloMachine, and from time to time we’d bump into each other, exchange compliments, usually at Interbike.

I can’t claim to have known him well, but I knew for sure that he was a top-shelf scribe with a finely honed personal style. And his curiosity, enthusiasm, and expertise were not limited to the bike world.

Once or twice we talked about doing some work together, but this never came to pass, more’s the pity.

Patrick Brady, who did know Garrett well, has a remembrance at his new operation, The Cycling Independent.

Peace to Garrett, and to those who knew and loved him. He left us far too soon.

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.

Equinot yet goddammit. …

September 21, 2020

Me and the Voodoo Wazoo on the homebound leg.

The last day of summer? C’mon. Didn’t the Tour just wrap on Sunday, f’chrissakes?

C’monnnnnnnn. …

OK, well, then, since it is the last day of summer, with all that implies (impending winter, the ongoing cooling of the Universe, entropy galloping along unchecked toward inert uniformity), I decided to do something I haven’t done all that much this year, and that was ride the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

It practically goes without saying that I was on a rigid chromoly frame and fork, with rim brakes, 700c tubed tires, and electronic/hydraulic nothing. Unless you count the thousand-year-old Cateye Velo 8 cyclocomputer on the handlebar.

Mostly sunny, temps in the 70s, everybody in the vicinity just having a high old time. Sure, winter, entropy, and all that, but still, damn. I’ll take it.

A Grimy Handshake from Patagonia

September 13, 2020

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits
the Cibola National Forest.

I’ve somehow gotten myself on Patagonia’s mailing list, probably through buying stuff from them — and good stuff it is, too — and they sent me a note the other day linking to a piece by Mike Ferrentino.

Yes, that Mike Ferrentino, he of the Grimy Handshake. His stuff is even better than Patagonia’s.

Anyway, Mike wrote about wilderness, and why he no longer poaches trails there, and it’s worth your attention.

In other wilderness-related news:

• A forest ecologist from CSU-Fort Collins wonders whether some iconic forests might fail to bounce back after a wildfire.

• Trying to take pix of the fires? Ian Bogost says your phone’s camera was not built for the Apocalypse.

• Have the orcas finally had enough of our bullshit?

Happy trails

September 3, 2020

The Elena Gallegos Open Space was awash in goodwill on Wednesday.

Maybe it was the abrupt change in temperature from “hot as balls” to “ooh that’s nice.”

During a short ride around the Elena Gallegos Open Space yesterday morning everyone I met was in high spirits. Not a sourpuss in the lot.

Cyclists, equestrians, hikers, moms with kids, dog-walkers — everybody was smiling as though the Republic were ticking along like a fine watch instead of missing on three of eight cylinders, leaking vital fluids, and badly in need of a front-end alignment.

I haven’t been riding the trails much during the Year of the Bug because once everyone who could work from home was working from home, well … it seemed that a lot of them were not exactly working from home. Not unless their homes were on the range, where the deer and the antelope — and Your Humble Narrator — play.

With a dodgy ankle I doubted my ability to excel at “Dodge the Noob,” so mostly I abandoned the trails for the roads, though occasionally I’d hit some short, wide, low-traffic trail to cleanse the old velo-palette.

But six months later I’m more or less myself, or someone very much like him. And yesterday I didn’t have to dodge anyone. The thundering herd seemed to have thinned a bit, and those who remained didn’t give off that displaced-gym-rat vibe. Earbuds were very much not in evidence. Mostly I yielded trail, of course, even when I had the right of way. But occasionally people who had the right of way even yielded to me.

Cheery greetings were exchanged, munchkins on strider bikes applauded, horsemanship admired. Even my battered Voodoo Nakisi drew some appreciation.

“Doing some cyclocross, hey?” asked one guy after I complimented his dog, some class of burly curly black wonderpooch. I explained that my bike was a 29er with drop bars, your basic monstercrosser, just the thing for the Elena Gallegos trails, and then headed for the barn.

It was a random sample, not a scientific poll. Pundits will not cite it as evidence of a trend going into the November election. But I found it comforting. For an hour or so, anyway.

Smooth as glass

August 25, 2020

This section of Tramway didn’t get the upgrade.

I was out dicking around on the bike this morning when I thought I’d ride the recently resurfaced Tramway Boulevard, just for the hell of it.*

Nothing stays shiny and new for long around here, whether it’s bottles or boulevards.

There are other ways to get north and/or south on this side of town, and I normally use them.

But when a reader wrote to the Albuquerque Journal‘s “Road Warrior” column to praise the work that had been done on this death march of a high-speed, multilane, median-divided thoroughfare, well, shit, I figured I owed it to journalism to give it a look-see.

So I rode Tramway north from El Rancho Pendejo to just past the climb to Juan Tabo Picnic Grounds, then turned around and scoped out the southbound leg down to Cloudview before reversing course yet again for the trek back to the rancheroo.

And I’m with the Journal‘s happy reader. Well done, fellas. The new blacktop really makes the broken glass stand out.

* “Just for the hell of it.” In case you’ve never ridden Tramway, that’s a joke, son!

An example from the monkey*

August 16, 2020

Heading down Spain. If I’d had a little more tread I’d have stayed on High Desert and picked up the short stretch of dirt to the Embudito trailhead.

Well, we don’t have any fire tornadoes swirling through the neighborhood, so I’m gonna go out on a limb and call it a pretty pleasant day.

Herself was busy with this, that, and the other, so I slipped out for a solo ride on the old DBR Prevail TT, which doesn’t see much daylight anymore.

It was my road-racing bike Back in the Day®, when I still did what I called “road racing” and actual road racers called “getting shelled.” So it was a pleasant change from the usual 32-pound touring machine. Even a no-hoper like me feels frisky on a 20-pound bike.

So we climbed some hills, and then some more hills, and I didn’t even need the 34×25, because I’d left a dozen pounds of bike back in the garage.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have their own hill to climb starting tomorrow. I don’t see a virtual convention crushing it, eyeballs-wise. The traditional dog-and-another-dog show has rarely been what I’d call must-see TV. Not even the Yippies could put some zip into this mutt.

Anyway, the GOP has stolen their best bit, what with running a pig for president not once, but twice.

* “The higher it climbs, the more you see of its behind. — St. Bonaventure, “Conferences on the Gospel of John.”

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.