Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

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.

Trails and tribulations

August 14, 2019

The Paseo del Norte path, from just east of Rio Grande Boulevard.

Fine cycling weather around here lately, if you don’t mind hot and humid.

Yes, I said “humid.” For New Mexico, anyway. We’ve had a couple real frog-stranglers lately, the sort where you throw the doors and windows open to let the cool fresh air in, and then close them again a few minutes later because it’s coming down sideways and the furniture is getting power-washed.

Anyway, the idea in August is ride early to avoid heat stroke and/or hypothermia and (possibly) electrocution. That’s quite a list of things you don’t need. Throw in random gunfire and drunken drivers or some combination thereof and you can have yourself an honest-to-Dog life-changing experience on the ol’ two-wheeler.

The path alongside Jerry Cline Park, which leads to the Paseo de las Montañas trail.

The pix are from Sunday’s ride to the bosque and back via an oddly efficient hodgepodge of high-speed highway, rural roads, bike paths and multilane avenues. It being a weekend, I saw nearly as much dumbassery on the bike paths as on the mean streets, but that’s on me. I knew better, but I rode the bike paths anyway.

Yesterday was much nicer. All the dipshits were in their cars or cubes and I had a marvelous time herding a Soma Saga with a bike overnight’s worth of weight around and about. And up, too, because there’s a lot of that around here. I was a full three minutes slower than usual climbing Tramway with that weight. Three minutes! I could’ve been late for something! Happily, my schedule is a blank slate.

Today I finished renovating the Voodoo Nakisi. New Velocity Cliffhanger/LX wheelset from Rivendell, nine-speed cassette, chain, and chainrings (two of three); a brake swap (off with the old Cane Creek SCX-5’s, on with the even older Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis, outfitted with new Kool-Stop pads); and finally, a new front derailleur cable. Soon, the new front derailleur, but not right this moment.

From time to time I like to remind myself what a rotten mechanic I am by performing some simple chore slowly and badly, which helps me justify hauling another, more difficult project to the shop so the pros can handle it.

But I survived the test ride, which weakens my argument. The Comptroller of the Household is small but fierce.

The long-neglected Voodoo Nakisi, my go-to trails bike,
finally gets a little love.

Gimme shelter

August 14, 2019

Doomsday bunkers are making a comeback!

Boy, that’s a stunner, hey? The same folks who can pay cash for an RV that costs more than your fixed location and a Caribbean island stocked with preteen girls to drive it around on are springing for upscale hobbit-holes in case Ginger Hitler fumbles one of the various crises on his plate between cheeseburgers.

According to The New York Times:

The 12 apartments in Mr. Hall’s Survival Condo, as he calls it, begin at $1.3 million. When he started selling the condos around 2011, he said, all the units sold within months.

To Mr. Hall, and to many in his field, this is a calling, not just a business. “I’m saving lives,” he said during a recent visit to his bunker, the exact location of which he insisted be kept under wraps. He entered the building’s elevator as it began its long descent into the earth. “To me, this is something to feel good about.”

Uh huh. Especially the part about “representatives of the Saudi Arabian military, who have asked him to draw up plans for an on-site heliport and underground mosque.” You want to frisk those dudes for box-cutters before giving them the code to Watership Down, Bubba.

When we got transferred to Bibleburg from San Antone the folks looked at a house with a bomb shelter, just northeast of the Cheyenne Mountain NORAD complex. This felt not unlike Wile E. Coyote deploying a parasol to ward off the falling boulder.

Can you imagine all these rugged individuals sharing a shelter, however well appointed? Better bro-deal one of the smaller units to a couple of cutters from the local Level 1 trauma center, because every HOA-board meeting is going to end in a gunfight.

The sky is crying

August 6, 2019

Look what snuck over the Sandias when
the weatherperson wasn’t paying attention.

The weatherman must have missed a memo while compiling today’s forecast.

That “20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon” turned out to be 100 percent, and by 7 a.m., too.

It reminded me of the Yiddish proverb, “Man plans, God laughs.”

Last week I logged nearly 150 miles on the bike, and come Sunday evening the legs were lobbying for a bit of R&R. So although Monday was a beautiful day for the old bikey ridey, I checked the forecast for the rest of the week and said, “OK, I’ll take today off. Haul the glass to the recycler, put a new chain and cassette on the Voodoo Nakisi, whip up a bowl of hummus. And tomorrow I’ll do a nice, long ride.”

Get bulletproof backpacks on the cats? Dream on. I can’t even get them to stop napping in front of a window. Worse than sitting with your back to a door.

Ho, ho, etc.

Tuesday dawned warmish, bleak and breezy, and soon I had to close all the doors and windows I had just opened because the vertical blinds were clattering like skeletons dancing the Charleston.

It was the flip side of Sunday, when, after Saturday’s deluge, I added fenders to Herself’s bike and a rack trunk full of rain gear to my own.

Naturally, the only water we saw on our ride was confined neatly to roadside puddles and ditches.

Man plans, etc.

Dark mornings breed dark thoughts, especially for a lifelong news addict. For example, did you know that the hot back-to-school item is a bulletproof backpack?

Look for them at big-box retailers everywhere. I recommend shopping online until you get one, and maybe even afterward. See if you can find a new congressperson while you’re at it, one of those action figures, not the kind that just sits there between massacres, cashing checks while the NRA pulls its string.

“Thoughts and prayers … thoughts and prayers. …”

Speaking of which, I could use a few of those myself. The sun has finally made an appearance, and even though I don’t have my bulletproof backpack yet, I’m going out for a ride.

Gravity and its opposite, comedy*

August 4, 2019

Looking down toward the valley from just below the tram.

Herself wanted to do a 30-mile ride this morning, so I laid out a loop east of Tramway that took in a few of the “fingers,”  a scattering of popular short suburban climbs that rise from the northbound rollers toward the open space east of us.

Grind up, fly down, next finger. You get the idea.

As suburbs go, this one ain’t half bad.

We were not breaking any speed records, and we skipped more than a few fingers, as Herself is a 95-pound recreational cyclist on a 23-pound steel cyclocross bike, while I am a feeble old fart on (in this case) a 31-pound steel touring bike (before I strapped the Arkel TailRider full of spares, tools and rain jackets onto the rear rack).

Anyway, this young roadie comes roaring up on us as we were doddering along, and I’m expecting the blank fuck-you-I’m-training face, but what we get is a hearty greeting and a brief give-and-take before he rockets up the road.

A little further along, here he comes again. “I’m really not stalking you!” he shouts, then zooms off.

And again, a bit later: “OK, now you’re stalking me!” Zip, etc.

I’ll confess that I found this oddly cheering. There may be hope for the species after all.

* Stolen from Nino the Mind-blogger via The Firesign Theatre’s “Everything You Know Is Wrong.”

He went down, down, down

July 31, 2019

It’s all downhill from here.

Nope, I didn’t break the speed limit. I maxed out around 35 mph as I dropped from the top of Tramway to Roy, 4th, Guadalupe Trail, Alameda, and finally, the Paseo del Bosque.

As you know, I am a law-abiding fellow, and rarely in a hurry.

Last trip down I was on the Soma Saga (disc). This time I took the Soma Saga (canti), having finally toed the squeak out of the TRP RevoX brakes.

The TRP RevoX. You need a jillion Allen keys and a 13mm wrench to make this dog hunt. But hunt it does. I never had to Flintstone to a stop.

I’ve tried a bunch of brakes on this bike and hadn’t really liked any of ’em. Paul’s MiniMoto would be the shit, but cabling proved a little crowded with 38mm tires and fenders. And I was fresh out of my go-to stoppers, Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis, having shifted my last pair to the Voodoo Nakisi.

Happily, I had this set of TRPs idling around the garage, so on they went. A little fiddly for a half-assed mechanic to set up, and on our last outing they brayed like jackasses, but now they work and sound just fine. Still, when time and finance permit I’ll give some more money to my man Paul, just ’cause.

The bosque was nuts for a workday morning. Racer dudes and dudettes, recreational riders, e-bikers, recumbents, joggers, skaters, strollers, equestrians, even one grinning young woman aboard what I think was an ElliptiGO.

I had thought about doing the whole enchilada, continuing down past Rio Bravo and back around, but discretion proved the better part of valor. I hung a U at Interstate 40 and went back the way I came for a grand total of 47.8 miles, which felt about right.

As I rode up Roy toward the Tramway climb I saw a rara avis indeed — a triplet, barreling down toward the roundabout at 4th and Roy. I waved, and the dude in the middle waved back, but he looked like he’d rather have both hands on the bars and I can’t say I blame him. That was one crowded bike and like our “democracy” I imagine it demanded everyone’s attention and participation.

If you’re looking for them “Deep River Blues,” they’re off to the left, behind the cottonwoods, and they’re actually more of a brown.

Water under the bridge

July 27, 2019

This bridge over the Albuquerque Riverside Drain is just off the Paseo del Bosque bike trail south of Interstate 40.

There was a little water running on Thursday’s 66km ride down to the bosque and back, so I could feel the Tour’s pain when Friday’s stage got its icy wings clipped and today’s was likewise heavily edited, basically dialed down to a 33km, mass-start uphill time trial.

“See, Frenchy, if you keep your water in ditches it won’t make a mess of your bike races.”

Here in ’Merica, happily, we restrict our water to ditches so that it does not interfere with our bikey rideys. Because freedom.

Also, moreover, furthermore, and too, we have air conditioning to take the edge off those 110° days.

The “monsoons” are in session here at the moment, and so far the precip’ has been arriving around dinnertime, which is nearly as good as keeping it in ditches. Open the doors and windows and let the fresh air in.

Meanwhile, somebody else threw the doors open and then bolted right on through. Congress just beat feet for a six-week recess. And “recess” seems just the word for this cluster of kindergartners, though the exodus leaves the biggest toddler of them without any supervision, however childish.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “For Sale” sign pop up outside the White House.

Whoops. Too late.

Screwed again

July 21, 2019

Neither sealant nor lip balm will keep you rolling after you collect one of these bad boys in your tire.

You know what doesn’t give a shit about whether you have sealant in your tubes?

A big-ass screw, that’s what.

I collected this sonofabitch in the rear tire this morning at the bottom of the Tramway descent, just after I’d crossed under Interstate 25 and hung a left on the Pan American Freeway near Balloon Fiesta Parkway.

I heard a short clatter, then a “tick … tick … tick” that told me I’d picked up a hitchhiker, and so I pulled over to have a look-see.

“Th’ fuck’s this, a thumbtack?” I muttered, and then gave it a tug.

Spooge! Fwissssssssh. Phhbbbllllllllffff.

Seriously, it was like one of those volcano projects from junior high. Or Bluto’s zit imitation in “Animal House.”

And of course, it had to be the rear tire, on the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, so called for the Rohloff hub on (wait for it) the rear wheel.

What are the chances of picking up something like this in a bicycle tire? If you’re me, 100 percent.

Did I mention the Gates belt? Yeah, it has one of those, too.

I don’t know that I’ve ever had to deal with a flat of any kind on this bike, which is a testament to its Geax AKA 29 x 2.0 tires. But this fucking screw might’ve given even Superman a hitch in his gitalong if he ever happened to be afoot in Albuquerque.

As I was, on a scorching Sunday morning, hoofing it along the shoulder of the Pan American, looking for a shady spot and trying to remember how to remove and replace the rear wheel on a Rohloff/Gates-equipped bike, a chore I last performed in a workstand at Chez Dog in Bibleburg back in … 2012?

Lucky me, I found a bus bench with a sun shade at Balloon Fiesta Parkway. And then I set about rooting through the ol’ mental hard drive.

Lessee here: Shift into 14th gear. Break out a nickel to loosen the thumbscrew holding the cable box to the hub. Remove the cable box. Open the quick-release lever. Remove the wheel. Bingo.

The bus bench had a convenient trash can that made an excellent workstand to hold the bike while I swapped tubes (just affix rear dropouts to rim of can).

Reinstalling the wheel proved a tad more challenging. Unlike a chain, a Gates belt isn’t a greasy mess. But it kept wanting to hop off the crank or the sprocket as I tried to mate hub with dropouts and brake rotor with calipers. Lacking a hammer, I was compelled to employ patience, which is always in short supply among the Irish.

After a few tries, the belt surrendered, I closed the QR, snapped the cable box back into place, screwed it down finger-tight in case I lost my nickel at the casino on the way back, and hey presto! I had all 14 gears and a slightly soft rear tire (about 30 psi, as it turned out, despite my best efforts with my thousand-year-old Blackburn minipump). That was enough to get home.

And a good thing, too, ’cause I only had the one spare tube. One more flat and it was the patch kit for Your Humble Narrator.

Now how’s that work again? Lessee here. …

What is hip?

July 12, 2019

What a pain in the ass.

No joke. A couple hours after Monday’s short run and a bit of light resistance training I found myself in the hurt locker, with big pain in the right hip and a limp that would have done credit to a drunken pirate with a poorly made peg leg navigating a wet deck in heavy seas.

IT band? Hip flexor? Psoas? I suspect the latter, because I’d been having some low-grade back issues a couple of days previous. Anyway, being manly, and also stupid, I rode on Tuesday, and felt kinda-sorta OK on the bike, but not so much off it.

So I prescribed myself a couple days of rest, some ibuprofen, and a hefty dose of work on my Masi Speciale Randonneur review for Adventure Cyclist.

Just because I will never be smart doesn’t mean I have to keep being stupid.

The good news is, all this drew my attention away from the news, which is taking on overtones of a Jeffrey Dahmer-Ted Bundy buddy pic scripted by Josef Mengele and directed by the Marquis de Sade. That Dealie McDealio is up to his saggy man-boobs in some of the worst of it should surprise absolutely no one.

The late Jim Harrison noted more than once that politicians are prone to shitting through their mouths. And boy, am I ever glad I’m not paid to catalog every turd that falls from this fool’s face.

• Extra-Credit Tower of Power: The eternal question, and more, from NPR’s Tiny Desk.

Tour de Fence

July 7, 2019

The Sandias as seen from the bottom of Elena, near the casino.

My invitation to Le Tour having gone missing in the mail, I’ve been compelled to ride my own damn bikes around and about in the Duke City.

The high side of the circuit, before dropping down to casino country and then climbing back up.

Between outings I’ve checked in with my old Live Update Guy comrade Charles Pelkey, who is sending his daughter Annika off to Iowa today. She’ll be working for Mayor Pete. No word yet on which horse Chazbo is backing.

In other news, my man Casey B. Gibson did a little surprise gallery for that Boulder-based journal of competitive whatever whose name eludes me. Seems they needed pix from road nats in Tennessee, Casey had them, and that, as they say, was that. Money even changed hands, which is always nice when one is on the job.

Another member of the tribe, Andrew Hood, is the only one of us actually on the scene in France. It being a slow day (team time trial) I joggled his elbow for old times’ sake to see what’s what. No reply yet, because The Hoodlum is a total pro — on the clock, doing the beez-a-neez, and probably not even into the rosé yet.

Meanwhile, The Guardian is doing a live update this year, and it’s not half bad. They’re kicking the shit out of Cyclingnews. I may have to pass them a few of the millions I’ve banked from my stints at Live Update Guy.