Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Scratch race

March 8, 2021

“Where’s everybody going?”

Calendar, schmalendar: Herself got out yesterday for her first bike ride of 2021, so it must be spring.

It wasn’t definitively springlike here in the Duke City — but still, arm warmers and knickers beat long sleeves and tights for the first week of March.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla did not join us. She prefers her indoor exercise apparatus.

The bee’s knees

March 3, 2021

Somebody tell the bees and the trees that it ain’t spring yet.

Actually, you can’t see their little knees — do bees even have knees? — but the little bastards sure are buzzing away up there in our backyard maple, which is already budding out.

So is the ornamental pear by the master bedroom window.

The pear thinks it’s spring too.

I haven’t budded out, but I have bugged out, for a pleasant two-hour loop that took in some of the bike paths I avoided in Year One of the Pale Horseman. The forecast called for a high in the low 60’s, so I figured why not?

For openers I rolled down Paseo de las Montañas to Indian School and thence to the I-40 Trail, which took me to the North Diversion Channel Trail. This trail has been blocked for a while north of Comanche as the Water Authority engaged in a bit of valve rehabilitation, whatever the hell that means.

Heading north on the NDCT I passed through Balloon Fiesta Park and worked my way over to Interstate 25 and Tramway for the half-hour climb to County Line Barbecue. Tailwind, mostly, so yay. Nevertheless, records failed to crumble beneath my thundering wheels. No prizes were awarded.

I stayed on Tramway for the trip home. Usually I dick around a little bit on the side streets to the east but I felt like scaring the shit out of myself for no good reason.

I’m going to insist that the State install a flyover exit for bicycles only at Comanche so I can make the left turn without (a) getting stuck for three-four rotations in the turn lane (the arrow refuses to appear for bicyclists), or (2) getting run over and killed to death.

There’s a pedestrian bridge just south of the intersection, but getting to it almost certainly would involve (2) because nobody ever even slows down for a right turn at Comanche and Tramway, much less stops to gauge the oncoming traffic. When the YMCA goes belly up I expect it to be replaced by an auto body shop and an EmergiCare.

Rio Cielo

February 3, 2021

There’s a little blue sky island up there to the NNW of Trail 365A.

It’s been warm enough the past couple of days that I haven’t felt compelled to crank up the thermostat the instant I ooze out of bed.

Yesterday I could’ve ridden in knickers and arm warmers. I didn’t, of course, because nobody needs to see my pallid calves on a lovely February morning, not even me. I wore tights and long-sleeves like a white man. A very white man.

The Tramway Time Trial record was never in jeopardy, probably due to the extra weight I was carrying, kit-wise. I took just under a half hour to climb from I-25 to County Line Barbecue. And mind you, I had a tailwind.

Looking back the way I came.

In my defense I’ll note that I was riding 30 pounds of bike (a Soma Saga). But then, I’m pretty much always riding a 30-pound bike, so those hairy, Day-Glo items I call “legs” should not have been surprised.

The previous day I had been aboard a 24.5-pound bike, my old DBR Axis TT mountain bike. Yet somehow I remained unimpressive on the foothills trails. I’d blame the boingy fork and seatpost, or perhaps the 26-inch wheels, but I’m actually starting to regain an appreciation for those bits in my dotage. So it’s operator error once again.

Maybe I can learn some mad skillz from Beta, the new mountain-bike mag’ from Pocket Outdoor Media, the same outfit that owns Bicycle Retailer and a metric shit-ton of other sweat-stained publications.

Then again, “beta” means “a stage of development in which a product is nearly complete but not yet ready for release.” So, maybe not. Still, I wish Nicole Formosa and her crew the best of luck in their new endeavor.

Speaking of mad skillz, we decided to go low-tech on coffee machinery. This morning it was a Thermos pour-over that will require an adjustment to the coffee-water ratio. And with one bloodshot eye aimed erratically toward the future I’ve ordered up a six-cup Chemex and an Aeropress.

Down in the dumps, or up in the air?

February 1, 2021

Didn’t know Kal-El had a white-trash eejit cousin, didja? Now you do.

Some people never learn.

And yes, I’m looking at me.

It took slightly more than nine months, and it was a breech birth, like all the other little bastards.

But baby, here we go again — yes, yes, yes, it’s another 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

• Technical notes: Acoustic considerations (Herself doing paying work right next to my “studio”) dictated that I change locations yet again (to her walk-in closet). This time I used a Shure MV7 mic and Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. Editing was in Apple’s GarageBand, with music and sound effects courtesy of Zapsplat and Freesound. No DC Comics properties were harmed in the production of this podcast. If “Justice League” couldn’t do ’em in, nothing can.

Over the hump with Sam Hillborne

January 29, 2021

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

In the market for a new bike? Rivendell Bicycle Works sends word that ordering for the next batch of Sam Hillbornes goes live on Wednesday, Feb. 3.

And speaking as an owner of one, you could do a lot worse (hint: generic alloy “gravel bike” with plastic fork, eleventy-seven Klik-Speedz, hydro discs, etc.).

Sam on the jam to the Tram, just past the intersection of Tramway Boulevard and Tramway Road.

Rivendell bills the Sam as suitable for all roads, paved, dirt, or gravel, “and the kinds of fire trails a Conestoga wagon could negotiate, but not the kind that would require a jackass.”

“If you’re skilled and have good judgment and fattish knobby tires, you can ride the Sam where you shouldn’t. Stick with what it’s designed for: all the above, and road touring, road shopping, and road commuting.”

And if you’re feeling froggy, you best jump. Quoth the Rivendealios: “The way our production schedule is shaping up, we won’t have Sams again [until] at least late 2022. We have lots of bike orders placed but Sams didn’t make it in there, so consider this a maybe last chance at our V-brake’d country roadish bike.”

Sam has gotten posts for cantis/V-brakes since I got mine, which uses long-reach road calipers. They stop me just fine, even when I’m riding it where I shouldn’t.

If you can’t say anything nice. …

January 8, 2021

It’s not Cold Mountain, but then again I’m not Han Shan, either.

I know a lot of bad words. None of them seemed bad enough for what I saw yesterday.

So I went out to finish shooting some video for Adventure Cyclist. It was not a speaking role.

All boomed out

December 18, 2020

After a long and oddly fruitful year, some bike-shop owners are deciding it’s time to step away from the table while they’re still winners, according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

My man Steve Frothingham reports that the year was both good and bad for a lot of businesspeople. Good, in that they moved a ton of product, made a bunch of money, and dug out from under a mountain of debt; bad, in that it left them fried, dyed and whipped to the side.

“We’ve done well, I don’t want to mislead anybody,” said one retailer. “It just did start to feel like we were in the store-running business instead of the bicycle business. I realize that the store-running business is where the industry is going, but maybe our talents are better used elsewhere.

“And I have to say, we’re just exhausted.”

Some are changing their business models. Others are selling outright, in some cases to Trek. That’s the route Hill Abell and Laura Agnew took with Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin, Texas.

The two announced the sale yesterday, then spoke with Ken Herman at the Austin American-Statesman.

Bicycle Sport Shop had been suffering a downturn until The Bug® turned bicycles into a must-have item.

As a consequence, 2020 has been “absolutely phenomenal, which allowed us to pay down all of our debt and to actually pay our people more,” Abell said. “So it’s been a really good year for the biking industry if you’re a decent operator.”

Despite the banner year, Abell and Agnew were still looking for a way out, and found it in Trek. The four Bicycle Sport Shop locations will close Jan. 17 and reopen a few days later as Trek stores. The store-running business, as the fella says. So it goes.

Anybody else seeing their favorite local shop go corporate … or just go?

How? Revisited

December 16, 2020

Jordan Barson (courtesy Mohave County Sheriff’s Office)

The driver of a box truck that careened into a group ride in Nevada last week has been charged with five counts of DUI resulting in death, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Nevada Highway Patrol identified the driver as Jordan Alexander Barson, according to the newspaper. He also faces six counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm, and one count of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm.

The dead include Erin Michelle Ray, 39; Gerrard Suarez Nieva, 41; Michael Todd Murray, 57; Aksoy Ahmet, 48; and Tom Trauger, 57. The injured include Jerome Ducrocq and Jose Vasquez.

Court records did not indicate that Barson had been arrested as of Wednesday morning, according to the newspaper.

And now for something completely different

December 12, 2020

“Yeah, I’m wearing clothes. So what? So are you.”

After the events of the past few days I’m thinking we can all use a photo of a Shih Tzu wearing her poofy winter duds.

How?

December 11, 2020

An image of U.S. 95 lifted from Google Maps.
Not exactly the Highway to Hell, is it? But it was on Thursday.

I hate flying. Not because it scares me, but because it annoys me. Maybe I was a steer in a feedlot during some previous life, plodding toward my next incarnation as a series of fast-food meals.

“Moo … mooooo … moo?”

Anyway, if the trip is under 2,000 miles and doesn’t cross a body of water with the word “ocean” attached, I drive. Air Subaru, baby. The flight leaves whenever, I can bring my own eats aboard, and all the mechanicals occur at ground level.

Interbike in Las Vegas was an easy drive from Bibleburg. Even more so from the Duke City. Early on I developed the habit of taking the scenic route through Flagstaff, Kingman, Bullhead City-Laughlin, and Searchlight. I was never in a hurry, and I liked having a touch of the desert and its sharktooth mountains before descending into the neon canyons of Sin City.

So I know U.S. Highway 95 pretty well for a tourist.

Headed home from Interbike 2015 on U.S. Highway 95.

Barring the speed limit (75 mph, except in Searchlight, a notorious speed trap) it seems one of the safest highways you could ride on a bicycle, especially if you had a bunch of colorfully clad companions and a support vehicle. Smooth pavement, wide shoulders, and incredible visibility. A long sightline. You can see company coming a long way off.

So how does a box truck drive into an organized ride like this?

From The New York Times:

The Highway Patrol said investigators did not know why the truck had plowed into the group but said the driver had left the roadway, hit the group from behind and then struck a Subaru hatchback that was accompanying the cyclists and another group of cyclists that was in front of the Subaru.

Off the top of my head I can think of just three ways a thing like this happens. One, the driver was impaired, which doesn’t seem to be the case here. Two, the vehicle had some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure. Three, dude was dicking around with something — his phone, his infotainment system, a Thermos full of java, whatever — instead of managing his vehicle and keeping his eyes on the road.

Being a cynic, I’m inclined to Door No. 3. Let’s add speeding to our list of options, because during my trips back and forth on U.S. 95 I was pretty much the only motorist doing the speed limit. Now that I think of it, the ever-popular pulling out to pass and whoops, big ol’ Buick Lardass dead ahead pulling back in might be another possibility, especially if mixed with speeding and a certain lack of focus.

We’ll learn more if the press keeps its eye on this thing, which it might, though the world is chock-full of tragedies at the moment. A former cop is involved here, which has to help, if anything can.

One thing we already know, and it applies to everything, not just cycling through the desert: Keep your eyes and ears open, regardless of where you are and what you’re doing, especially if you’re overly familiar with your surroundings. Familiarity breeds complacency, not just contempt.

And Satchel Paige notwithstanding, look over one shoulder occasionally. Something may be gaining on you.

The victims, from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

• Michael Murray

• Gerrard Nieva

• Erin Ray

• Tom Trauger

• Aksoy Ahmet