Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Ed Zink rides west

October 13, 2019

Ed Zink, one of the founders of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango, has gone beyond.

The Durango native died Friday of complications from a heart attack, according to The Durango Herald. He was 71.

Ed was a rancher, a retailer, and a pillar of the U.S. cycling community. He ramrodded the Iron Horse through good times and bad, helped bring the first World Mountain Bike Championships to his hometown, and was a gent when dealing with irksome cycling scribes who wished to quiz him about this, that and the other.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Contributions in Ed’s memory can be made to Trails 2000 and the Mercy Health Foundation. My condolences to his family and friends.

At ’cross purposes

October 10, 2019

Oh, yeah: It’s fall.

When the temps dip I head straight for the chile — green, red, or green-and-red — and the cyclocross bikes.

The eats lately have included turkey tacos with red Mexican rice; a red-chile posole; and a green-chile stew heavy on diced chicken thighs and spuds.

This bike will even work in California, because you don’t have to plug it in.

And the cycling? Lately it involves singletrack and my second-best Steelman, a red Eurocross that Brent built as part of an arrangement with the Clif Bar team back in the late Nineties or early 2000s.

It’s a snappy climber in the 34 x 28, but a little harsh on the bumpy stuff coming down, possibly because of the oversized, shaped True Temper top and down tubes, which have an aluminum vibe to them.

Yesterday, while climbing a trail that sensible people ride downhill, and certainly not on a ’cross bike, I successfully dodged a perambulating tarantula only to screw the pooch on a recently rearranged rocky bit (the trail fairies have been shifting the furniture around again). Caught between a rock and a hard place it was either plant a foot or take a dive. Bah, etc.

I need to reassess the cockpit configuration on this beastie. I half-assed it when I swapped stems a while back, grabbing an old Giant from the treasure chest; what I need is an entirely new stem and handlebar, the latter with a shorter reach and drop.

Plus I’ve always disliked this bike’s chunky aftermarket Shimano STI levers, which seem designed for the jumbo mitts of lesser primates. Oook ook ook.

Now that I think of it, what I really need is for Brent Steelman to come out of retirement and make me one of his old CCs, slightly updated for our modern world, such as it is. Now that was a go-anywhere, do-anything bike, back before any marketing smarties spitballed a few pitchable monikers for the category.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

October 5, 2019

Scott Pankratz will lead the Adventure Cycling Association, succeeding outgoing executive director Jim Sayer.

The Adventure Cycling Association has hired itself a new executive director.

My attention was elsewhere when the deal went down, and I don’t know what it means for The Organization. I may have met Scott Pankratz in the course of my wanderings, though I don’t recall doing so. I have met many people, many, many of them, and they have met some version of me.

In any case, he seems to have been involved in good works, co-founding (with wife Julie Osborn) the nonprofit Ecology Project International; serving on the boards of the Montana Community Foundation and the Montana Nonprofit Association; and riding the ol’ bikey-bikey from Hither to Yon and back again.

“My passion and enthusiasm as the incoming executive director at Adventure Cycling come directly from transformative moments in the saddle from Alaska to Mexico,” Pankratz said via press release. “I look forward to expanding our community to give everyone with a bike the confidence, community, and gratitude that is at the heart of the Adventure Cycling experience.”

Scott takes over from the departing Jim Sayer early next year. Best wishes to both.

Writer on the storm

September 29, 2019

Smilin’ Jack isn’t the only fella in there, y’know.

My man Padraig at Red Kite Prayer is having a rough go of it lately — so much so that he has turned to ketamine therapy in his ongoing struggle with depression.

In a word, this takes huevos. In my misspent youth I dabbled with various psychedelics — mostly psilocybin, mescaline and LSD — and I don’t mind telling you that any or all of these can really pop the top off your Jack-in-the-box.

Thing is, Smilin’ Jack isn’t the only fella in there. And he isn’t always the first one to hit the door running.

It’s one thing to hitch a ride on the Magic Bus when you’re young and sprightly, with your script largely unwritten. I’m not certain I’d have the guts to screen my personal in-flight movie a half-century further on up the road. A lot of that footage is on the cranial cutting-room floor for a reason.

So chapeau to Padraig for having the courage to lift the lid (or rip off the Band-Aid) and face what’s underneath. And for inviting us to join him on the trip. I wish him health and happiness.

If you’ve enjoyed his work, why not pop round to his place to say so? I think he’d like to hear from you.

• Extra-credit reading: Scientific American on ketamine therapy. And William Styron’s “Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness.”

The sunflowery side of the street

September 26, 2019

OK, so Graham Watson I am not, but then this wasn’t the Tour, and I wasn’t getting paid, so there.

Politics be damned for the moment. It’s time to avert our gaze, if only to give the bloodshot eyes a chance to heal.

I’ve been riding the Soma Sagas lately, being fresh out of review bikes. I needed to bed in the TRP Spyres on the disc-brake model, and I just plain like riding its canti’ cousin for no particular reason atall atall.

Today I loaded that Saga with a basic bike-overnight package and went around and about, climbing hills, just because I could.

The old-school Soma Saga catches its breath up at La Cueva.

The Kool Kidz would probably sneer at it, with its rim brakes, nine-speed drivetrain (Deore rear derailleur, Ultegra front, triple crank, and Silver friction bar-cons), and tires with tubes. But it rolls right smart with a load on, and I hardly needed the 24×32.

Though I was down to a walking pace while climbing to La Cueva Picnic Site. That is one short, steep, beat-to-shit piece of road. And I ain’t as young as I used to be, if I ever was.

Speaking of gearing, my man Alex Strickland, honcho at Adventure Cyclist, has had a chance to sample Shimano’s GRX drivetrain. And he suggests its 400-level offering may serve quite a number of our fellow adventurous cyclists, with the possibility of mating a 30-tooth chainring to a 36-tooth cog. He also likes the GRX brake-shift levers, a lot.

Does that mean my beloved nine-speed triple has been planned into obsolescence? Nope. But Alex says that for riders who tour only rarely and can’t have a garage full of bikes outfitted for every eventuality, opportunity, or mood swing, “something sporting 40mm of rubber and a GRX 2x drivetrain offers a path to almost anywhere.”

After you, Alphonse. …

September 11, 2019

The old DBR Axis TT still rolls a lot better than I do.

For a change it was the other fella on a cyclocross bike and Your Humble Narrator on a mountain bike.

I was descending a narrow bit of singletrack that he was climbing, so I found a small patch of shoulder and yielded trail.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“Great, thanks,” he replied with a grin.

Your cyclocrosser is nothing if not a perfect gent at all times. The rest of you lot could learn something from us.

Though now that I think about it, I suppose he could’ve been a gravel rider. I don’t know a thing about those tossers. A special bike for gravel, is it? D’ye also have ones for road and trail and track so? A cyclocrosser rides his machine where he will and devil take the hindmost.

Now you mention it, his tires did look a little plump for ’cross. Not honest 33mms like the ones on my Steelman.

The cheek of the fuckin’ bastards. Trying to pass themselves off as cyclocrossers on the singletrack. First they take our drop bars, then our knobbies, and before you can say Danny De Bie they’ll be making eyes at our daughters.

Thank God I was on a mountain bike. Now he doesn’t know that I know.

Squinterbike

September 4, 2019

I know Outdoor Demo has to be around here somewhere. …

Anybody missing that long trek to Sin City for Interbike this year?

Yeah, me neither.

I could do with a good road trip — I think I’ve left town about twice this year, and then only for the day — but the notion of driving a 15-year-old rice grinder from hotter-than-hell Albuquerque to actual-hell Las Vegas strikes me as the sort of flagellatory exercise in self-abuse that would have the sternest penitente going all like, “Isn’t that a bit over the top?”

And yeah, I know, I know: Interbike’s last known address was in Reno, not Vegas. That’s like running away from ’Burque so you can croak in Las Cruces.

Anyway, trade shows are for people who don’t have high-speed internet. Just ask Emerald Expositions, which tried to graft Interbike Lite onto its Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Denver only to wind up deep-sixing the entire show. In these days of modern times, Squinterbike is all we need. Peer deeply into the phone and all will be revealed.

This year the buzz (ho ho ho) is all about e-bikes, cargo bikes, and e-cargo bikes, with a side of indoor cycling.

Eurobike doubled the size of its cargo-bike area, according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, which plans a three-day e-tailer tour of SoCal next month aboard Yamaha Power Assist Bicycles.

Now you know me Al. I am deeply ignorant and a Luddite to boot. Thus I remain skeptical that making the simple act of cycling more complex and expensive will somehow save its supporting industry.

To my jaded snoot these items continue to smell like luxury goods that appeal to (a) faddists, who will quickly move on to the next shiny object, and (2) hardcores, the old white guys with too many bicycles who are frantically trying to stave off the Grim Reaper by any means necessary.

As an old white guy with too many bicycles myself, I seem to get along just fine with nine-speed, human-powered drivetrains, friction bar-cons, rim brakes, and tubes in my tires. My bikes often sport racks for carrying cargo, and I store the electronics in a jersey pocket in case I fall down and can’t get up.

The bike biz is forever hunting The Next Big Thing®. But this time we have the powersports crowd along on the safari. It’s a big desert out there, with plenty of room for dead batteries and sun-bleached bones.

Photobombed

August 31, 2019

“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeO’Grady.”

Jesus. Everybody wants to be in pictures. Even Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), who really is old enough to know better.

I mean, look at him. He thinks he’s still a leading man at an age when he ought to be settling in as a character actor.

And at any rate, these Adventure Cyclist videos are light on parts for blue-eyed white guys who ain’t me. This cat can’t even ride a bike, much less review one.

Of course, they say the same thing about me. But I’m the cat with the camera.

This drivetrain is bound for glory

August 25, 2019

The Rivendell Sam Hillborne with its 45/35/24T triple, 11-32 cassette, and long-reach, dual-pivot brakes.

The Church of the Rotating Mass comprises a multitude of sects and specs. There are many components in my Product Manager’s shop. Each of us hews to our favored commandments and catechisms.

And of course we persecute the heretics, which is always fun.

I’m an ecumenical sort myself. When I first set my cleatless foot upon the Path back in the Eighties, I rode a steel bike with two chainrings and six cogs. Rim brakes, because of course rim brakes. Did I mention it was the Eighties?

But I’ve broadened my outlook since then. Today in the garage you will find bikes with single, double and triple cranks, cassettes of seven to 10 cogs, one Rohloff/Gates belt setup, tubed tires from 28mm all the way up to 2.4 inches, and a variety of brakes, from dual-pivot road stoppers (long reach and short) to cantilevers, V-brakes and mechanically actuated discs. There’s even a carbon fork in there, because every religion needs a devil.

Which bike is best? The one I have with me, just like with cameras.

That being said, I have it on good authority that God rides a steel frameset with rack and fender eyelets, a nine-speed drivetrain, bar-end or thumbshifters, rim brakes, 32-spoke wheels, 38mm clinchers, and a Selle Italia saddle of some sort.

However, it’s not clear from the ancient texts whether He favors a 1x, compact double, or triple crank. What’s the Aramaic for “granny gear?”

The path of least resistance

August 17, 2019

Shade: One of the upsides of following the Paseo del Bosque south toward Rio Bravo.

Yesterday’s ride sort of got away from me. But in a good way.

I felt like riding a light bike for a change, and since I hadn’t been aboard the Nobilette for a while, it got the callup. And off we went to the Paseo del Bosque.

Now, my usual practice is to roll out and down Tramway, slip under Interstate 25 onto Roy, then bear left at the roundabout on 4th to Guadalupe Trail, which meanders over to Alameda and thence to the bosque trail. This prelude takes around an hour because as a elderly gentleman of semi-leisure I am rarely in a hurry.

The clouds are pretty, but don’t do much to damp the UV on the homebound leg.

From the Alameda parking lot I spin casually down to Interstate 40, nodding, waving, and smiling to no particular purpose at all the stone training faces floating grimly over aero bars like participants in some penitente balloon fiesta.

At the interstate underpass I’ve generally had enough of that, so I pull a U and head for the barn. This is good for about 40 miles, depending on which route I take home.

But yesterday, being on a sub-30-pound bike for a change, I pressed on past the interstate, down to Rio Bravo Boulevard, where the curious can ride an extra-credit loop that tours ’Burque’s industrial underbelly. This I skipped, my curiosity in such matters having been satisfied some time ago.

Joyless watt-watchers notwithstanding, the Paseo del Bosque is one of Albuquerque’s jewels. It’s as flat as flat can be, a real rarity in these parts. And if you’re lucky, you’ll have a slight headwind down and a tailwind back.

I was lucky, and so I didn’t even notice I was doing a half-century until I was coming up on Juan Tabo via Bear Canyon Trail. At the end of the day I wound up with 54 miles under my bibs.

Perhaps best of all, I missed the news that Dealie McDealio is shopping for another land of opportunity. I’d recommend that Greenlanders stick with Denmark until they can arrange for independence. Dude is a notorious slumlord who won’t even keep up the property he’s managing now.