Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Sunshine patriots

February 15, 2020

Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), demonstrates his readiness posture for the press.

Herself has three days “off” each week, but the “off” part is short for “off her rocker.”

Yesterday she pulled a full shift with Herself the Elder (eye appointment, lunch, New Mexico ID, etc.). And today she attended the local Donks’ 2020 ward meeting (she is a precinct chairperson and narrowly escaped sentencing to the pre-primary convention).

Tomorrow she has to give me a haircut. Yeah, yeah, I hear you laughing out there, but it’s harder than it sounds, chasing down and eliminating rogue hairs on my vast expanse of scalp. Like mowing the lawn for someone who doesn’t give a shit about lawns. Why can’t a fella go bald all over at once, is what I’d like to know.

In solidarity I went for a couple nice bike rides in the sunshine while the cats napped in sunny spots. Tough work, but someone had to do it.

R.I.P., Dirt Rag

January 30, 2020

Ah, Dirt Rag, we hardly knew ye.

Well, this sucks.

Dirt Rag has been in the bicycle-journalism racket exactly as long as I have. We both rolled around in 1989, though I was mostly on a road bike.

American Cyclery is getting a seismic refit and, eventually, it is to be hoped, a new owner.

I never thought of myself as a mountain biker. And Dirt Rag was never just a mountain-bike mag. Maurice Tierney and the gang were into art and culture and all manner of good shit. Did you know Mo is a deejay at KALX, 90.7 FM in Berserkly? True fact.

Also, this:

The oldest bike shop in San Francisco is on the block. American Cyclery built my Soma Saga Disc for me, and they did a stellar job. I haven’t had to do jack shit to that bike except ride it and fix an occasional flat.

I thought Friday was the day when all the bad news dropped. Trust the bike biz to get it wrong.

 

Happy trails, or the slime’s best inside the tires

January 28, 2020

Blue skies above, brown trails below.

It’s not all politics, podcasts, and posole around here. Some days I actually get outdoors to ride the bike.

But lately a bitter north wind has been whistling down our cul-de-sac, making the weather surrounding El Rancho Pendejo seem worse than it actually is.

The sun spends its mornings skulking around behind the Sandias, burning its daylight where I can’t see it. The trails seem a little muddier than usual for this time of year. And the streets are curb to curb with the usual multitasking mutts who think “hands-free” refers to their use of the steering wheel, not the cellphone.

Back when I was a man instead of whatever it is I am now, I’d ride wherever, whenever, in all manner of weather, fair and foul.

But that was then. And this . …

This is another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

On the road again. …

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder, then edited in Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The pigpen belongs to zecraum at Freesound.org. Shovel and pickax courtesy CameronMusic at the same joint. The Dubliners gave out with “Poor Paddy Works On the Railway.” Tom Cotton and Alan Dershowitz address us through the holes in their lying arses. All other sonic enhancements are courtesy of Your Humble Narrator and his handy, dandy little Tascam DR-05 portable audio recorder.

Hit the road, Jack

January 24, 2020

A few more days like this and the trails will look more like trails
and less like muddy creeks.

It’s hard to believe, but today’s outing was my first road ride of the new year.

Oh, sure, I’ve been riding the road, but on a cyclocross bike, or a gravel bike, and then only to get to the dirt, where the fun is.

But the trails have gotten pretty gooey lately, and with the sun peeking out and the temps inching up I’d just as soon not add my 33mm scrawl to the graffiti being carved into Mother Earth. Thus, today, the road.

In other news, my man Hal Walter is talking about pulling together another e-book with the tentative title of “American Flats,” a reference to a section of the World Championship Pack-Burro Race out of Fairplay. More as I hear it.

Get out

January 15, 2020

First trip up this rocky little slope my wind jacket slid out of my
handlebar bag. Good thing it didn’t wind up tangled in the spokes
or I might have lost some psi from my head.

Speaking of flats, I went out looking for some today.

I was actually shooting some video of the Cannondale Topstone 105 for Adventure Cyclist, but you never know. Sometimes you shoot the cycling, and sometimes the cycling shoots you.

But not this time. Not this time. The tires, in case you were wondering, are WTB Riddlers in 700×37, and I’ve already flatted the rear once.

Today’s ride also served nicely to flush out the old headgear. We watched some of the Democratic “debate” last night, and this morning brought more impeachment drama, so, yeah, definitely time to get moving, preferably away from all news sources.

Didn’t hurt that the temps were in the mid-50s. Dude grinding past on a mountain bike sez to me, he sez, “What a perfectly terrible day.”

“Awful,” I agreed, adding, “Try not to suffer too much.”

The suffering will arrive tomorrow, in the form of a winter storm. Happily, I have video to edit, which should distract me from whatever befalls us, from the skies or the scribes.

Riding on the rims

January 13, 2020

My old bro’ Dr. Schenkenstein practices the mystical art of puncture resolution during a February 2011 ride around Bibleburg.

Do you remember when you learned how to fix a flat?

I don’t. But I’m pretty sure that in my first incarnation as a cyclist I served my time as one of those guys you occasionally see trudging gloomily along, pushing a bike, instead of spending a few moments at roadside swapping tubes and getting back after the riding of the thing.

No doubt some lucky shop handled flats for me until I got “serious” about cycling in the mid-Eighties. I didn’t have any mentors, or friends who were deeply into the sport, so I read every bike magazine and book I could lay my hands on and got my basic training and maintenance tips from a distance as I moved around from job to job, town to town, Pueblo to Colorado Springs to Denver to Española to Santa Fe, where I finally joined my first club and started taking instruction the hard way.

Flats, it seemed, were part of the price of admission to the game. You want to play? You got to pay. It’s like taking your pulls, or sharing food, water and kit as circumstances dictate. Sooner or later you have to give it up. Patch it up. Whatevs.

It’s no big deal. Unless you have been seduced by what the engineers call “progress,” fixing a flat on the fly is not rocket surgery or brain science. Open the brake caliper, flip the quick release, remove the wheel, pry off the bead, remove the old tube, check to make sure that whatever violated its integrity is no longer in the tire, install the new tube, inflate, replace the wheel, close the QR and caliper, stuff the flat tube in a jersey pocket, and get on about your business. Easy peasy. Even the Irish can manage it.

Of course, they’d have to make a short story out of it. Perhaps a song. Or maybe a podcast.

A podcast?

Yes, yes, yes — pull out your patch kits and push in the earbuds, it’s time for another thumb-fingered edition of Radio Free Dogpatch.

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 Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I altered the recording setup a bit, breaking out an old Auray reflection filter to help isolate the large-diaphragm condenser mic, then edited the hot mess using Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Out of Step” and “In His Own Way” from Zapsplat.com. The rim shot is from xtrgamr at Freesound.org, which also supplied the pop! (gniffelbaf) and the squeaky chain (Jamesrodavidson), because you just know that a pro like me would never, ever have a squeaky chain. Yeah, right.

Milestones

January 2, 2020

Your Humble Narrator logging some trail miles during 2019.

I awarded myself a day off yesterday, which is no way to jump-start a new year.

Did Albuquerque’s evildoers take some well-deserved downtime after a blue-ribbon year that saw them crush the old record for homicide by 10 stiffs (72 in 2017)? They did not. They got right back after it in the wee hours of New Year’s Day, dropping a body on the northwest side, after a New Year’s Eve in which APD took 146 “shots fired” calls.

Me, I didn’t even clear leather. I puttered around the shack, wandered over to the grocery to acquire a bit of this, that, and the other, whipped up a largish pot of simple posole, and updated a few stats in the old training log from 2019.

It seems I covered 3,704.6 miles last year aboard various bikes, continuing a steady upward progression from 2016, when I managed just 2,354.1 miles.

This is far from impressive. Back in 1989, when I was a man, instead of whatever it is that I am now, I rode 6,725 miles. Booyah! Big number, yeah?

No. Not really. Not when you consider that Gary Fisher tallied 6,500 miles in 2019. And he’s 69.

So I’d better get back after it. But not today. Today looks like light snow, with a high in the 30s and a brisk northwest wind.

Maybe a short trail run? I wonder how many miles The Fish’ ran in 2019. …

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 12

December 31, 2019

He’s back? Oh, God, no. Wasn’t it bad enough the first time around?
From the December 2019 issue of BRAIN.

Behold the final installment of the 12 Days of ’Toonsmas.

Now and then I think it would be fun to be a columnist as in days of yore, cranking out the tees, and also the hees, for fun and (very little) profit.

And then I think again.

Columning can feel an awful lot like work, and it seems that climate change is thinning everyone’s skin when you’d expect it to be doing just the opposite. Surely some of these squealing ninnies should’ve bled to death by now, the way they announce with outrage ev’ry prod with the bodkin. But no, it seems one wee prick merely arouses another.

Better to have my own little shop here on this unremarkable back alley, well off the Infobahn, where the Twitters and Facebooks roar around and about, one hand on the horn and the other out the window, middle digit extended. However do these people steer? Why, with the knees they’d like to shove in your groin, if they were ever to clamber down from the heights of their machinery, which they will not.

So here’s a toast to those of you who continued to patronize the joint during 2019 despite its lack of modern conveniences, the NO SOLICITORS sign, and general air of disreputability. It’s not easy to find, there’s not much in the way of parking, and you want to lock up your bike in this neighborhood if that’s how you roll.

Mind the Committee of Perpetual Grievance milling about there on the sidewalk. He’ll call a meeting about you if you should happen to tread on his toes.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 11

December 30, 2019

They’re, like, all cargo bikes, dude, sir.
From the November 2019 issue of BRAIN.

The Mud Stud is, like, totally not into, like, your categories, an’ stuff, dude, sir.

He works for a bike shop, so he can only afford one bike. And he makes it do everything, from the daily commute to hucking off cliffs at Deadman’s Dropoff to fetching his SpaghettiOs and PBR from the Grab-N-Git.

He will be happy to sell you whatever it is you have been told that you want, and then fix it when it goes sideways from neglect. But for his own purposes he prefers a spartan two-wheeler that can be field-repaired with a minitool, some duct tape, and a trailside rock.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 10

December 29, 2019

A colleague thought this one might get taped up on a few shop walls.
From the October 2019 issue of BRAIN.

As noted on Day 9, e-bikes have their ups and downs. Like any other bicycle, only more so.

They ask more of their owners — check out this article from an REI master tech in Portland — and of their friendly neighborhood mechanic.

Sometimes, a fella just longs to see one of the old bikes. V1.0. The kind that doesn’t give you much help, but doesn’t give you many headaches, either.