Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

December’s desperados

December 2, 2021

A fine December morning.

December. The relentless march through the holidays toward year’s end upshifts into doubletime. Hup hroop hreep horp.

I don’t know but I been told

Winter ain’t gonna get real cold

Climate change done stole our snow

Endless summer for New Mexico

Sorry, Sarge, but that’s how it feels when the thermometer reads 63 degrees, a dozen or so degrees above normal, on Dec. 1.

Herself went for a late-afternoon run in her summer kit. Me, I rode in long sleeves and knickers, but I got out earlier than she did and was generating a slight wind chill despite my usual torrid pace.

The Soma Double Cross, back to its dirty roots.

The mean streets did not appeal (something to do with drink-addled, lead-sneakered gunsels), so I chose the Soma Double Cross with its fat tires and we skulked around various dusty foothill trails and side streets for about 90 minutes.

The DC in its present incarnation — cantilever brakes, eight-speed drivetrain with bar-cons, etc. — is kind of an old-school cyclocross bike, if you overlook its triple crankset, long-cage XT rear derailleur, and 43mm Soma Cazadero tires. Plus its stem is too long and too low. And I wouldn’t use a wide-profile brake like the IRD Cafam II on the rear end if I were jumping on and off the bike the way I did when I was a sprightly young fellow. I carved my right leg like a Christmas turkey once and further instruction was not required.

The too-long stem makes me think about adding a set of top-mounted brake levers, but it would be simpler to just replace the stem, if I could find a replacement, which I can’t. The Great Parts Drought of 2021 continues, especially where weirdo bikes and oddball dimensions are concerned.

Later it was movie night, with pizza and salad. Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” is a beautiful, disturbing film, and we’re probably going to have to watch it again this weekend to see if what we think we saw was actually what we saw. This ain’t exactly John Wayne, pilgrim. Afterward I had to break out the old family Bible and use it as a decoder ring.

No pregnant pause here

November 29, 2021

Green MP Julie Anne Genter cycles to hospital for the birth of her second child. | Photo liberated from Ms. Genter for the profit-free purpose of celebrating her awesomeness

Attention, cyclists: There is no longer an acceptable excuse for not riding today.

New Zealander Julie Anne Genter, pregnant with her second child, was having contractions and preparing to ride to the hospital in the front of a cargo bike pedaled by her partner, Peter Nunns.

But when they realized they would be carrying too much weight with two (OK, so, three) people and a hospital bag, Genter decided she’d do her own pedaling, thank you very much. The Green Party MP just “got out and rode,” according to the Kiwi outlet Stuff.

“Contractions were not super intense at that point, I probably had [three] on the ride in, and another in the car park,” she said. “So glad we didn’t walk!”

The kicker? Genter cycled to the hospital for her first birth, too, saying afterward that it put her in the “best possible mood.”

Cycling will do that. And you don’t even have to be pregnant. Go thou forth and do likewise.

Buckle down

November 23, 2021

This spring has sprung.

So I’m Just Riding Along (JRA) on Sunday when I hear a tiny rattle down and to the right.

No, not a midget buzzworm. They’ve all flown south for the winter. The buckle failed on my right Sidi Whatever. A spring went south and the ratchet lever was flipping back and forth like Kyrsten Sinema, to no evident purpose.

The venerable Sidi cyclocross shoes.

The Sidis are Dominator 5, if memory serves. Not my oldest pair — those would be my Sidi cyclocross shoes, pre-clipless. And I have another pair of Dominators that predates numerology. I’m pretty sure they were just “Dominators.” Who knew there would be so many sequels?

The buckles still work on my ODs (Original Dominators). Not so the hook-and-loop straps. Those break loose and flap like Tucker Carlson’s gums.

Alas, the OD’s buckles are non-transferable. The caliper straps are not simpatico. Thus I had to order up some replacement buckles — which at $18.99 were only slightly pricier than the tab for shipping them to El Rancho Pendejo. So it goes. ’Tis a wonder such spare bits remain available at all.

Meanwhile, the Dominator 10? Be prepared to shell out $329.99, my friend. The good news is, they will probably outlive your feet.

Forked again

November 18, 2021

I didn’t eat it with my new fork.

In the Year of Our Lord 2021, when one blows up a Hippie-Tech rebuild of a Rock Shox Judy SL cartridge fork there will be no miraculous resurrection.

First, because there is no more Hippie-Tech to rebuild the rebuild. Second, because there are no kits for the rebuilding. The rest of the world has moved on from the simplicity of yesteryear to today’s fancy-schmancy, carbon-fiber, disc-brake, boingy-boingies, with their dropper posts, their 110mm of travel, and their ultra-plush five-figure price tags.

But not here. No, sir. We believe in keeping the old bits operating, especially ours.

Thus, the 1995 DBR Axis TT, like its owner-operator, has gone rigid. Soma Fabrications supplied the Tange Infinity fork, Zach at Two Wheel Drive performed the install, and I handled the test drive with my usual style, élan, and grace, which is to say I managed to not fall off.

The path is the Way

November 9, 2021

Light traffic, muted colors

I hate to do this to those of you who are wrestling with actual November weather. But oh, was yesterday ever a fine day to ride the ol’ bikey-bike down to the bosque.

It was a little late in the season to catch the prime fall colors, but there was a flash or two here and there.

Traffic was light on the Paseo del Bosque trail, so instead of heading south past I-40 to Mountain and heading home via the mean streets, Indian School and whatnot, I pulled a U at the interstate — pulling off the arm and knee warmers — and enjoyed a double dose of the auto-free environment.

Then I enhanced the experience by riding the Paseo del Norte path, the North Diversion Channel Trail, and the Arroyo del Oso/Bear Canyon Trail. Hey, you got all this bicycle infrastructure, why not put it to use?

The whole trip added up to a little more than 40 miles and made a nice change of pace from the usual dawdling about in the foothills. I enjoyed my departure from the norm so much that I did it again today.

No, not the 40-mile bike ride. Today, I went for a run.

Not so hot

November 5, 2021

The wisteria is calling it quits for the year.

The mornings are brisk around here lately. Upon arising I find myself compelled to don pants. This will not do, not at all.

This is one of the few downsides of living snuggled up to the Sandias. Come fall the sun doesn’t peek over the mountains and through the trees until 9:30 or later, which causes Miss Mia Sopaipilla to burn the early morning hours hunting a toasty napping place that does not yet exist as such.

Here comes the sun. “About time,” grouses Mia.

The geezers I ride with a couple days a week likewise search for that sweet sunny spot. There has been some debate as to whether rides should continue to begin 9-ish or be delayed a tad to minimize the need for extensive layering.

It’s not unusual to experience a 30-degree temperature swing in the course of a 90-minute morning outing, which fills the jersey pockets to overflowing with wind jackets, arm and knee warmers, long-fingered gloves, skullcaps and whatnot. Jersey zippers rise and fall with the terrain.

Our location here, at the bottom of a cul-de-sac in the shadow of the foothills, often causes me to believe it’s colder outdoors than it really is. Yesterday I rode the Jones south on the foothills trails and inside 10 minutes I knew I was ridiculously overdressed. Nevertheless I persisted, because there wasn’t much I could do about the long-sleeved jersey and I didn’t stuff any short-fingered gloves into a pocket before leaving.

I found myself riding with a distinct lack of competence, confidence, style, and grace, dabbing on pretty much everything that wasn’t a nice flat sandy patch, and swearing a lot. After a series of miscues on mild obstacles I lost my mojo entirely and tried to focus on simply avoiding injury. This was nearly as irksome as wearing pants in the morning.

After an hour of embarrassing myself I called it quits and headed for home. I should probably get back out there right now and seek redemption.  But I’m thinking about dialing it down to a road ride. Maybe I should wait until we fall back before I fall off.

Dune buggy

October 23, 2021

Your Humble Narrator cultivates desert power.

I’m not casting a very long shadow around here lately.

Frankly, there’s not been much to report. That little tease La Niña is in town again and I’ve been chasing her around on the ol’ bikey bikes.

While all you Left Coast/PNW types deploy your parasols and Gore-Tex your loins against the Million-Pound Aquahammer, we here in the desert Southwest are enjoying a balmy period which makes us forget that before long we will be drinking our own sweat and tears, like Paul Atreides and his mom in “Dune.”

Yep, we watched Part I on HBO Max, and it was a’ight, pretty damn fine actually, not bad atall atall. Made the 1984 David Lynch flick look even worse than it actually was, which was pretty fucking bad.

Denis Villeneuve’s take on the Frank Herbert novel might’ve worked better as an HBO series; then he could’ve used a scalpel instead of a cleaver to move things along over the course of a season or two. But only a geek like myself, a science-fiction dweeb who’s read the book 1,207,275 times, is liable to grouse about the subtleties steamrollered to make the narrative march.

Too, if a series proved successful, there would be the temptation to milk the rest of the “Dune” tales. (We may have to deal with this in any case.) Me, I lost interest after trudging through “Dune Messiah” and “Children of Dune,” which is a very short trek indeed through the vast Duniverse.

Anyway, Rebecca Ferguson is the best of the bunch as Lady Jessica, and Timothée Chalamet is a whole lot better than I expected as Paul. He brings a whiff of Nic Cage and maybe a soupçon of Christian Bale to the role. Meanwhile, Javier Bardem as Stilgar is definitely channeling Anthony Quinn’s Auda abu Tayi from “Lawrence of Arabia.”

And the Hans Zimmer score is a character all its own, though digging it through our obsolete surround-sound system was like listening to the London Philharmonic performing Metallica over a walkie-talkie.

Still, it beat squeezing into the old stillsuit, flagging down a passing sandworm, and crossing the Duke City desert to the Harkonnen IMAX. We got beverages around here ain’t even been drunk once yet.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!

October 12, 2021

A big ol’ storm gives us a love-tap en route to punching someone else out.

O, ’tis of a class of a wind out there this morning would peel the decals off your down tube.

Yesterday was the first truly chilly ride of this fall. With our weather widget spitting out a wealth of contradictory data I dithered for a while — “What will the style-conscious velo-fellow be wearing this season?” — before finally settling on tuque, short-sleeve jersey over long-sleeve jersey (augmented by arm warmers), long-fingered gloves, bib shorts, some lightweight tights, and wool socks.

Naturally, I was overdressed.

Bell lap.

The arm warmers came off first, followed by the tuque. Knee warmers would have been just the thing — tights were overkill — but the wool socks were spot on.

Still, fashion failures aside, the thing is to get out the fuggin’ door, amirite? Don’t just sit there at the desk, letting the stink-tide of the Innertubes wash over you like a sewer backup, glancing out the window now and again to see if summer plans an encore. Get out there and take your beating.

That being said, I am not a fan of cycling in the wind. I’ve been blown off highway shoulders and rock gardens, spun around like a weathervane while running a cyclocross course, and shot-peened smoother than a baby’s butt while grinding squint-eyed into various gales.

But as you know, I will never be smart, so I went right back out in it again today. Kerchief, long-sleeve jersey over sleeveless undershirt, long-fingered gloves, knickers, and cotton socks.

Naturally, I was underdressed.

The wind gave me a welcome assist on the climbs, but when the rain auditioned for a part in my little passion play I said to hell with it and turned around. All the world’s a stage, but we needn’t be overly dramatic.

Sea Notter

October 9, 2021

We have a sea, but it’s grass. No otters in sight.

I’m not at Sea Otter. Can you tell from the pic?

Being parked at home and mildly bored, I’ve been awarding various neglected bikes some outside time. The DBR Prevail TT, Soma Double Cross, Voodoo Nakisi, and Jones all have been granted furloughs from their hooks this month, while the New Albion Privateer takes a well-deserved break.

Today’s clouds: Not that ominous.

On Thursday I was riding the Nakisi, and not well. The trails are deep sand in some spots and gullied in others, the 700×43 Bruce Gordons were probably pumped up a tad too hard, and my mad skillz — well, the less said about them the better. I was dabbing everywhere.

So yesterday I took the Jones out for a spin on the same trails, and it was mucho bettero, as we say south of the border. Still rolling a wee bit overinflated, but since the tires were big ol’ 29×2.4 muthas at least I wasn’t embarrassing myself. Not much, anyway.

And there’s still quite an audience out there enjoying this fine fall weather instead of putting nose to grindstone for The Man. Hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, and cyclists, most of the latter astride your consarned dadblasted newfangled whizbangs with the 1x drivetrains, boingy bits front and rear, hydraulic discs, dropper posts, and what have you.

Cain’t even fit a proper water bottle in there anywheres. Gotta wear a backpack with a sack in it, suck on a hose like a deadbeat siphoning gas from a workin’ feller’s car.

Speaking of the ol’ suckee-suckee, the WaPo warns that fall might be turning a tad winterish for some of yis. Get the chimbley swept and keep your snow shovel and long johns where you can find ’em in the dark. Don’t want to be caught with your drawers down and your arse in the wind when Thor starts swinging his hammer.

Cheap dates

October 6, 2021

If you had seen this sky yesterday, your first thought would not have been, “Bet it’s gonna rain tomorrow.”

I was lazing in the bed this morning, contemplating the day ahead.

“Maybe I’ll ride the Jones down south, check out the trails below Menaul,” I mused. “Or I could take the New Albion Privateer out east past Tijeras. Haven’t ridden the Voodoo Nakisi in a while — I wonder how crowded it’ll be around Elena Gallegos.”

Then, I stretched, got up, and headed for the reading room, where I heard the pitter-patter of … raindrops on the skylight?

Raindrops? Who ordered the raindrops?

Well. Shit. What a delightful gift. Maybe the skeeters will all catch pneumonia, or drown. Sonsabitches made an amuse-bouche of my ankles last evening as I chatted with a neighbor. Go bite a Republican, you disease-spreading bloodsuckers. Wouldn’t you be happier dining on your own kind?

No, not you, neighbor. The skeeters.

In other news, friend and colleague Nick Legan blazed through town on Monday. He was motoring down from Colorado to oversee a video shoot for Shimano, and hollered at me from the road, so we had him over to the rancheroo for some medium-heavy refreshments before he had to get down to business supervising the artistes.

Afterward Nick asked for a tour of the garage, where he complimented me on The Fleet, observing cannily that clearly I favored the “affordable bike.” Which is true.

The Soma Double Cross, back to its dirty roots.

It’s possible to spend a great deal of money on bicycles, or even a bicycle, or at least look as though you have (cough, cough, bro’ deal, cough). But it’s not necessary. So there’s a lot of old steel in my armory, where modernity has to make do with representation by nine-speed Ultegra STI.

Lately I’ve been riding bikes from Merry Sales — either a Soma Saga (now discontinued) or the New Albion Privateer — and if I had to drastically thin my herd these two would probably make the cut.

For sure the Privateer would. It’s a versatile, affordable, eye-catching beastie and up for just about anything, from cross-town to cross-country.

All told we have five Merry Sales machines in The Fleet — two Soma Sagas, two Soma Double Crosses, and the New Albion Privateer. It all started with me buying a Double Cross for Herself. I was so impressed that I bought another for myself. Over the years it’s been a cyclocross bike, a light-touring bike, and a townie-slash-grocery bike.

It’s been the latter for a while now, and I found I was rarely riding it, in part because I’ve been making fewer and heavier grocery trips during the Plague Years, and in part because I never really warmed up to that configuration (swept-back bar, bolt-upright position, flat pedals).

So the other day I turned it back into a cyclocross bike, kinda-sorta, with eight-speed Shimano bar-end shifters, a vintage XT FC-M730 triple and newer XT/Ultegra derailleurs, PD-M540 SPDs, battered Shimano 600 brake levers and IRD Cafam cantis, 700×42 Soma Cazadero tires, Deda Elementi 215 handlebar, and a Ritchey WCS stem that’s just a hair too long and too low.

I even resurrected a beat-to-shit Selle Italia Flite saddle and some Off the Front handlebar tape for the project. Remember Off the Front? Bruce and Jodie Ruana? Started out cutting up shower curtains in SoCal, then set up a small home factory in Nevada, and finally fled the bike biz altogether for straight jobs so they could live to tell the tale.

Anyway, all of a sudden I’ve been riding the shit out of my Double Cross. And what fun it is, too. I did a three-day credit-card tour on it back in 2012 and had a delightful time. Lately I’m just pooting around town, on and off pavement as the spirit moves.

Your modern Double Cross has taken a distinctly gravelish turn, with disc brakes, more bottom-bracket drop, and more mounts for this and that. Different strokes, as the fella says. I bet it’s just swell, for those of you who demand all them consarned newfangled whizbangs, whatchamacallits, and comosellamas.

Me, I’ll stick to my old-school DC, thanks all the same. But that Soma Pescadero sure looks interesting. …