Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

R.I.P., Michele Scarponi

April 22, 2017

The hits just keep on coming. This time it’s Astana’s Michele Scarponi, struck and killed by a van while training near his home in Italy.

The roads are getting scarier by the day, and one wonders whether it’s just the fabled “economic uncertainty” that is kicking the pins out from under the bike biz. Uncertainty about whether you’ll return alive from a ride may be playing a role, too.

Coincidentally, I’ve been practicing the Zen of Grant Petersen lately, occasionally riding the bike on short errands wearing street clothes, sans helmet. Not that a helmet would provide much protection if I got centerpunched by one of the reckless, oblivious assholes who somehow got licensed to drive in Duke City.

The trails look better every day. Out there it’s mostly operator error that does for you. Though I do know one guy who got hit by a truck on a trail once. …

Lights, camera, inaction!

April 19, 2017

The Specialized Sequoia, rigged for bikepacking, en route to a loop around the Elena Gallegos picnic grounds.

I don’t know how a dude with no visible means of support (beyond a wife who works at a national lab) manages to stay too busy to blog.

Somehow I get ‘er done, though. Or not, depending upon whether you enjoy regular bloggery.

The Co-Motion Deschutes, a made-in-Oregon touring bike that won’t break the bank.

Mostly I’ve been playing Quentin Ferrentino again, shooting video for Adventure Cyclist.

In front of the camera:

The Specialized Sequoia, which is a wrap, both print and video reviews having been shipped to the home office in Missoula;

 And the Co-Motion Deschutes, which I’m reviewing and videotaping as we speak, with a deadline of May 1.

The news I have been assiduously avoiding, though it was impossible to evade Orange Julius Caesar’s misplacement of an entire aircraft carrier attack group and his announcement that with his help the GOP triumphed in last night’s election to replace Tom Price in Georgia (one Twitter wag noted that OJC’s confusion was understandable in that the candidate with the most votes didn’t win).

But enough of that shit. Back to bikes.

The Sequoia review will be in the May issue, while the Deschutes will have to wait for the August-September edition. Once that review gets filed I get a break from velo-evaluation — unless Management unearths something interesting at the Sea Otter Classic, which starts tomorrow.

Why, I may even get to ride some of my own damn’ bikes for a change.

Threescore and three

March 27, 2017

The clouds were creeping in over the Sandias come afternoon.

Got the birthday ride in — did 63 kilometers, not miles, for anyone keeping score — and it looks like I picked the right day for it, because the weather seems to be taking a turn for the worse. I’ll be running tomorrow, if I get out at all.

A powerful tailwind added a couple miles per hour to the usual slog back from the Paseo del Bosque, and glad I was to have it, too. One of these days I need to acquire one of them comosellamas all the Kool Kidz have, whatchacall your e-lectronical whizbang that tells you how much vertical gain you’ve logged over the course of a day’s cycling. My educated guess for today’s little outing is “a right shitload.”

Anyway, pizza for dinner and a couple episodes of “Fargo” for dessert. It’s a weirdo, just like its daddy the Coen brothers movie of the same name. But you can’t go wrong with the likes of Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman and Bob Odenkirk, y’know. Yah, real good now.

 

Reel scored for pennywhistle and putty knife

March 17, 2017

It’s not as boondocky as it looks: The Trek 520 shoot took place just west of Albuquerque.

There was a time when I might have begun St. Patrick’s Day with a dollop of Irish in the coffee and ended it with a few pints of the black, playing Clannad, The Chieftains and The Pogues in between.

Not this year.

We’d been contemplating the renovation of Herself’s office, and as it happens the dude who does that sort of thing for us was available this very week, the same week during which Herself was scheduled to take a business trip to Florida.

Bejaysis.

So instead of getting my Irish on I arose early to feed and water the menagerie, swallow a bit of (unenhanced) java, and record the voiceover on my Trek 520 video (see screenshot, above) before the hooley resumed. The cats took up their positions under the bed and Mister Boo — well, nothing fazes The Boo save a late meal, so he was fine.

And I broke out the old iPod Nano, the better to hear The Chieftains by. May yis all be in heaven a half hour before the divvil hears you’re dead.

 

Rock ‘n’ roll

February 3, 2017
Some places the walls have ears. Here the trails have teefers.

Some places the walls have ears. Here the trails have teefers.

Yesterday I was out shooting snippets of video for my Adventure Cyclist review of the Specialized Sequoia when I decided it would be edifying to snap a still of some of the rocks I throw at these machines during our rides together.

Doesn’t quite give you the shark’s-tooth view I get from the saddle, does it? I need to go back and try again.

Meanwhile, I ordinarily read a bit of poetry before nodding off at night, but lately I’ve been browsing The Paris Review‘s interviews with authors and artists. If you need a break from the full-auto barrage of political news, check it out.

Happy trails

January 2, 2017
Don't let the apparent solitude fool you — the Piedra Lisa/Embudo Dam trails were crawling with people trying to sweat out their hangovers.

Don’t let the apparent solitude fool you — the Piedra Lisa/Embudo Dam trails were crawling with people trying to sweat out their hangovers.

Right. New Year’s Day has come and gone, and it’s all downhill from here.

Instead of Hoppin’ John and cornbread, deadlines are on the menu — print reviews of the Trek 520 and Specialized Sequoia are due this month at Adventure Cyclist, along with video of the Sam Hillborne. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, meanwhile, wants a column and cartoon.

The struggle continues.

Bellying up to the bar on New Year's Day.

Bellying up to the bar on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, the first ride of the year is in the books. I performed a cassette transplant on the mango Steelman Eurocross to replace a 26-tooth cog with a 28 — 36×26 is too tall for some of the trails I ride around here — and went out and about for an hour.

Riding touring bikes has spoiled me for cyclocross. I need to think about rearranging the technology on this Eurocross, losing the balky old eight-speed Ultegra brifters for bar-cons and aero brake levers; shortening and raising the stem a tad; and going wider with the handlebar. Also, and too, pulling a few teeth on the chainrings, going to 46/34 from 48/36.

And while I’m at it, I could go nine-speed. Forward, into the past!

I’m probably stuck as regards tires — 32mm is what I’m rocking now, and I nearly slid off a greasy off-camber bit and into a ditch full of sharp rocks and cacti because I’m used to riding nice, fat, squishy 38s and up. But I think I’ll be lucky if I can shoehorn a 35 into that rear triangle.

And if I’m unlucky, or unfit? Well, I guess I can always ride the Soma Double Cross, which already has bar-cons and aero levers, plus a triple crank and 700x42s. Gotta look for that silver lining, don’t you know.

Along those lines, consider this: At least Mariah Carey won’t be the next president. Too soon?

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 3: A wrenching feeling

December 29, 2016

• Editor’s note: As the year winds down, I’m taking a page from the mainstream-media playbook and reprinting a handful of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. This one was published in the June 15 edition.

A mechanic: The nut behind the wrench that cannot be replaced.

A mechanic: The nut behind the wrench that cannot be replaced.

That wrenching feeling,
when the customer tries
doing his own assembly

“Men, you’ve been there. You build something like that and you’re done and you got a real little bag of important-looking shit left over.” — Tim Allen, “Men Are Pigs”

By Patrick O’Grady

The times they are a-changing, according to Bob Dylan, who should know. He turned 75 in May.

So how many roads must a man walk down? Well, for starters, there’s this one: The German consumer-direct outfit Canyon plans to bring its some-assembly-required bikes to America. Specifically, to Americans. The ones who don’t work in bike shops.

Some companies — Trek, Giant, Raleigh — have been loitering along the shoulders of this high-speed thoroughfare, allowing their customers to buy online and then pick up their bikes, fully assembled, at their local shops.

But not Canyon. They’re going Furthur, hoping to fill a big ol’ bus with customers that some companies’ lawyers don’t trust to operate the humble quick-release skewer, much less assemble a complete bicycle.

A colleague and I were joking about this the other day, as journalists are prone to do, because the only thing funnier than human suffering is profiting from it.

“Imagine all the late-night drunk internet shopping,” says my colleague. “Then a box of bike parts shows up at the door a week later. ‘Honey, did you order a hang glider?’”

Says I: “Yeah, right about the time the wife scores some goodies from IKEA. Before you know it you’re turning up at the Sunday club ride on something that’s half bicycle, half bookshelf.”

I quoted Tim Allen to him, the bit about assembling a gas grill, a small bag of important-looking items left over, and a wife with her hair on fire. Says he: “You could build a new Great Barrier Reef with all the extra parts and Allen wrenches in every kitchen junk drawer in America.”

But not a new wife. Not yet, anyway, though I’m sure somebody’s working on it.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

Stop the machine

November 15, 2016
Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Sometimes you have to start the machine to stop it.

The ticking in my head seemed a little ominous today, so after I finished a “Shop Talk” cartoon for Bicycle Retailer, consulted with a few colleagues, and walked The Boo, I stepped away from the Mac for a short, “fast” cyclocross ride, in which “fast” was in comparison to, oh, I don’t know — continental drift?

Anyway, it was a beautiful afternoon, nearly everyone I encountered seemed to be in a good mood for no good reason, and as a skull-flusher I recommend it to you without hesitation. The world will still be there when you get back.

As my man Garrison Keillor says, “politics is not everything. Life goes on.”

Unless you’re Mose Allison, that is. Goddamn. He’s left me with my mind on vacation and my mouth working overtime.

 

Cold-blooded

October 23, 2016
I think this is a Sonoran gopher snake, but s/he was fixin' to be an ex-snake if someone didn't get him off the road.

I think this is a Sonoran gopher snake, but s/he was fixin’ to be an ex-snake if someone didn’t get him off the road.

Yesterday was “Reptile Rescue Day” here at Animal Planet.

First, I was riding through the Range Rover Preserve at Fauxdobe Village (High Desert) when I saw a couple vehicles stopped cop-style at the centerline, the drivers engaged in conversation about something.

Well, they’re taking up most of the right-of-way in both directions and they’re hardly even close to each other (the one on my side of the road is blocking the bike lane), so I move to the center and slow down, figuring to ring my little bell to get their attention and then shoot the gap.

"Oh, shit, it's the REMF who thinks he's in charge around here again. ..."

“Oh, shit, it’s the REMF who thinks he’s in charge around here again. …”

Until I see the snake.

S/he was a beauty, at least three feet long, and smack in the middle of what must have been some pleasantly warm asphalt on a fall morning. So we all took a moment to admire him, or her, snapped some pix, and after the motorists moved on I encouraged the snake to find a safer spot for sunning.

After I got home I invited the cats outdoors for a bit of fresh air and during his inspection of the perimeter Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) took a lizard prisoner.

His interrogation of the POW struck me as a little too vigorous, bordering on a breach of the Geneva Conventions, and following some heated debate, as the supreme civilian authority I ordered the lizard released.

In unrelated news, Herself is running The Other Half this morning in Moab. I texted to ask if she had her war face on but haven’t heard back yet. If she doesn’t scare me I’ll have her work on it.

The high-priced spreads

October 16, 2016
Going down. Down, down, down, down, down.

Going down. Down, down, down, down, down.

More cycling, still more!

Yesterday I was riding the Nobilette through the steeps of Richie Rich country in northeastern Albuquerque. The idea is to cleanse the palate, flushing my system of everyone else’s bikes before I do a cannonball back into the deep end of the review pool beginning Monday.

No pix of the houses. Just their trees. I mean, you've seen one 12,000-square-foot house, you've seen 'em all.

No pix of the houses. Just their trees. I mean, you’ve seen one 12,000-square-foot house, you’ve seen ’em all.

The Nobilette has a Sugino triple (46/34/24), an Ultegra rear derailleur, and a nine-speed, 11-28 cassette, so spinning up the hills is a breeze, especially if that breeze is a tailwind. Plus it weighs 23 pounds, at least five pounds less than the typical review model.

I favor my Richie Rich route because it has almost zero traffic and plenty of climbing. Plus you get to see how the other half lives (large). One casita for sale along the way is listed for a million-five. Booyah.

While we’re discussing the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Insane Clown Pussy is still screeching about how the election he hasn’t even lost yet is “rigged.” Check those Florsheim prints on your little weenie, dude. I bet you find an exact match in one of your closets.