Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Get. Out.

February 18, 2018

You can see company coming a long ways off from the intersection of Spain and High Desert.

“Dude: You need to get the fuck outdoors. Seriously.”

That was my man Hal Walter, who knows an attitude problem when he sees one. (He’s been observing mine since 1983.)

Thus, the getting the fuck outdoors has been gotten, and seriously, astride the Bianchi Zurigo Disc. Didn’t get run over or nothin’.

I feel better already.

R.I.P., Andrew Tilin

February 18, 2018

Former Outside editor Andrew Tilin died Saturday after being struck by a vehicle during a club ride in Austin, Texas.

He was 52, with a partner and two kids.

You can read the magazine’s report here. The Austin Statesman also has a report.

Sounds like bad weather was at least a contributing factor. Let’s be careful out there, folks. It might not help, but it can’t hurt. And my condolences to Andrew’s friends and family.

Sign of the times

February 5, 2018

The Soma Saga Disc in the Elena Gallegos picnic grounds.

It’s OK. I’m morally handicapped.

This way to the Egress

February 2, 2018

Hur-ry, hur-ry, hur-ry, see the Wild Man ride Drop Bars on the Dirt of Doom!

Today it was the red Steelman’s turn on the trails.

I’d actually planned to ride mostly road, with a bit of dirt for sauce, but wound up riding mostly trail. What can I tell you? I love me some trail.

Especially if it leads away from the “news.” Lord, what P.T. Barnum would think of the fish so eagerly nibbling on the Nunes memo.

Probably drive him right out of the promotions racket. Where’s the sport in it? Putting one over on these rubes is like shooting puppies at the pound.

• Late addendum: Speaking of the circus, cyclocross worlds starts tomorrow with junior men, under-23 women and elite women. Cyclingfans.com has a variety of ways you can watch, if that’s your thing, but I can’t vouch for any of ’em because I haven’t been paying attention to racing lately.

• Even later addendum: CyclingTips has a UCI feed that works for me. Jaysis, what a filthy course. One for a mudder, to be sure.

• Latest addendum: Nope. Only for the lesser events, it seems. The UCI continues to win hearts and minds.

Up in the air

February 2, 2018

The Steelman Eurocross on Trail 505 north of Elena Gallegos.

February took a while to get rolling.

Herself was scheduled to jet up to Colorado for a weekend with some gal pals. Being of a frugal nature she had wrangled the cheapest flight possible, which meant we had to be at the Duke City launch pad at 5 a.m., an hour I find abhorrent.

Naturally, when she got up at dark-thirty she learned that her American Airlines flight to Grand Junction via Phoenix had been canceled, and that she had been bumped to a 9:30 departure. Back to bed, if not to sleep.

When next she arose, at 5:40, she found that as she dozed AA had instead booked her on a 6 a.m. Delta flight through Salt Lake City. And had she been at the airport at that moment instead of wandering El Rancho Pendejo in her robe, why, that would have been just swell.

A call to customer service saw her flight shifted yet again, this time to an AA-Mesa tag team that sent her through Dallas-Fort Worth. Yes, to get to Colorado from New Mexico — call it 300 miles as the crow flies from Duke City to Function Junction — you have to visit Arizona, Utah or Texas first.

And thus, through the miracle that is modern air travel, a mere seven hours later, before anyone could say “You could have driven there faster,” which I did, there she was.

My day likewise featured its detours. Hal Walter and I had been planning a podcast that would take a jaundiced view of sport ahead of the Super Bowel, but like Herself we encountered a series of breakdowns, false starts and changes of direction.

When I do audio (rarely) I use the 2009 iMac, which has tons of storage, memory out the wazoo, and the best mic in the house, a Shure SM58 routed through a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB interface.

But when I cranked it up I found that Call Recorder wanted an update, and so did Skype, and once I’d made them happy Hal told me that he’d quit using Skype because his crowd was all about the Google Hangouts, Slack and whatnot.

Ay, Chihuahua.

I recalled reading that Jason Snell at Six Colors had spoken well of Zencastr, a service that occasional and undemanding podcasters like us can use to record their local audio at good quality without jumping through all the hoops that an old-school double-ender requires.

So Hal and I both signed up with Zencastr and started rooting around under the hood, banging on this with our stone clubs, and sawing on that with our flint knives, all while hooting dolefully, and before long Hal drifted off into a side project and I said fuck it and went for a ride.

Which turned out to be just the thing for a leaky brain-pan. I found a new-to-me trail that was just barely navigable on a Steelman Eurocross. My reflexes had dulled to a blunt edge that could not hurt me and I rode bits that would have confounded me had I been of sound mind.

If I’d kept going, who knows? I might have wound up in Colorado. And quicker than Herself did, too.

Making tracks

January 29, 2018

Yesterday kind of got away from me somehow. It never really did warm up as advertised. But I finally got out for a short spin, and for laughs I took a Shimano CM-1000 along for the ride.

These trails start two blocks (!) from El Rancho Pendejo, as part of the Casa Grande Linear Park, and you can take them south to within eyeshot of I-40.

They tend to crowd up pretty thick on weekends, but I must have hit the sweet spot, because there weren’t all that many other folks out and about.

The recording of the Orchestrion, a mechanical street organ at The Hague (not the album/concept by Pat Metheny), is by RTB45 at www.freesound.org.

The grand Wazoo

January 14, 2018

The Bloo Wazoo in rigid 700c trail-bike mode.

Everybody in Albuquerque was on the trails today.

And why not? It was nearly 60 degrees. Seriously. In January.

I was slouching around El Rancho Pendejo, doing bits of this and that — retaping the handlebar on my Soma Saga Disc, giving the cats a good airing, lunching on some leftover farfalle with sausage, mushrooms and peas — when I noticed the day was slipping away from me.

Or, more accurately, was reminded of it.

Remember seven-speed freewheels? They still work.

“I thought you were going to ride your bike,” intoned Herself, who was in full-on chores mode and eager to see me on my way, as filth and clutter trail me like Homeland Security.

And so I did.

I’d planned a longish ride on the Saga, but instead took the Voodoo Wazoo for a short spin on the southern foothill trails, between ERP and I-40.

Stripped of its townie regalia and sporting a pair of 700×42 Continental CrossRides the Wazoo is almost the perfect rig for these trails, even given the tallish 38×28 low end; it’s easy to forget that’s all the granny I’ve got, which can be an issue at stall point on a dusty, twisting, narrow, occasionally rocky trail packed with pedestrians bearing dogs off leash and babies in backpacks and whatnot.

But all were in an expansive mood, it being nearly 60 degrees in January, and everyone was yielding trail to everyone else, Alphonse-and-Gaston style, and we all forgot for a short, sweet while that our Republic is in the tiny hands of the criminally insane.

The stone mind

January 6, 2018

Way down there somewhere is the Duke City.

My Bicycle Retailer and Industry News column may be a thing of the past, but I still have deadlines, and Lord, how them sumbitches can fill a feller’s dance card.

I’ve been burning daylight over the Giant ToughRoad SLR 1, exchanging emails with former VeloNews comrade Andrew Juskaitis, now senior global product marketing manager for the Big G, and after an extended stretch of demonstrating my profound ignorance I decided yesterday that it was time to ride one of my own damn’ bikes for a change.

It had to be steel, of course, with drop bars, rim brakes, and tires with inner tubes. And with the weekend promising congestion on the trails I thought it might be nice to get a quick off-road ride while the gettin’ was good.

When is a rock not a rock? When it’s a Buddha.

So the Voodoo Nakisi and I set off for the usual casual loops around the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

Well, almost the usual.

Our local trail network is well marked with signs for people who like to follow maps (Trail 365, 305, etc.) and for those who don’t (Trail Closed for Rehabilitation). But there’s the occasional unmarked stretch that makes you go “Hmmmm.. …”

On a whim, I followed a couple of those yesterday, just to see where they went, and one of them meandered upward until it became frankly unrideable (by me, anyway). So I got off and wandered around for a bit, assuming I was more or less up against the wilderness boundary, taking snaps with the iPhone and just enjoying being away from the office.

I looked down at the Duke City, and snap, and then looked up at the ridgeline, and … holy shit! Check out that rock formation. It looks like a Buddha sitting zazen with his back to all of this.

Well, it does to anyone with an overactive imagination, anyway. It seemed too heavy a stone to carry around in my head, though, so I bowed to it, left it where it was, and got back about the business of avoiding business.

• Editor’s note: Further bows to “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings,” compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki.

Recycled 3: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

December 28, 2017

• Editor’s note: Since my Bicycle Retailer and Industry News column won’t survive into the New Year, I’ve decided to resurrect a six-pack’s worth of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” screeds between now and then. This is No. 3, and it fits in nicely with Khal’s comment under the previous installment.

Herself aboard one of her two remaining bikes, a Soma Double Cross, at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park.

How to sell cycling when ‘street smarts’ keep buyers indoors?

“What are you doing to create great experiences?”—Tania Burke of Trek Travel during the 2017 Bicycle Leadership Conference

By Patrick O’Grady

Herself instructed me to sell her road bike the other day.

The timing was both good and bad. The good: Sport Systems down on Montgomery was getting ready to host the 23rd annual BikeABQ bike swap.

This sounds like a craft brewery inviting the local moonshiners to set up their stills in the parking lot, only with more methodical beards and less random gunfire. But it’s a fund-raiser for BikeABQ, so good for them.

The bad: It seemed counterintuitive to surrender a perfectly rideable bike going into Bike Month, unless it went to someone who might actually ride it.

Plus this bike is a golden oldie, a 48cm Cannondale R800 2.8 from the fabulous Nineties. Made in USA, bought from Old Town Bike Shop in Colorado Springs. Eight-speed 105 group with STI. Possibly the oldest bike in the garage, which is saying something.

Still, she hardly ever rode it in the Springs, and her only contact with it here has involved bumping into it while getting into or out of the Honda.

Herself claims it was scary to ride the road in the Springs, which it was, and terrifying to ride it in the Duke City, which it can be. So off it goes, or so we hope. One more hook in the garage for me.

This won’t leave her bikeless, in case you’re wondering. She still has a Soma Double Cross that has logged a lot of hook time since we moved to Albuquerque, and a Barracuda A2T mountain bike she occasionally rides to hot yoga/TRX classes. Call it a mile each way, about half of it on a shared-use, off-street, paved trail.

I often ride there and back with her, and we both try not to think about the ghost bike we see en route.

Here be dragons. I don’t mean to pick on Albuquerque and Colorado Springs here. I’ve ridden the road in both places and lived to tell about it, if only because most motorists never get to read this column.

But experience doesn’t keep me safe from the inattentive, impaired, inept or insane. If they can get Michele Scarponi and Yoann Offredo, they can get me, and probably you, too.

The autos just keep getting larger and more complex—see Bill Vlasic’s April 12 story in The New York Times about the clamor for supersized SUVs that are smarter than their drivers—while the roads mostly stay the same size.

When and if the roads do get bigger, they attract more and bigger autos. You could be excused for thinking a 2011 Honda CR-V is a “small” SUV until you see one garaged next to an ’05 Subaru Forester. Neither is something you’d like to have parked on you while you wait for the ambulance.

There be a drag. Now Herself is a smart person, into fitness, with a goodly amount of disposable income until I figure out where she’s hidden it.

Yet here she is, selling one-third of her bikes, leaving the second third idle and the third third nearly so. And for what? Indoor exercise classes. Hot yoga. In Albuquerque, where the average high temperature is 67 degrees and we enjoy 278 days of brilliant sunshine per annum.

You’d have to point something a lot scarier than a Lincoln Navigator full of texting drunks at me to drive me into a room full of sweaty yogis on a sunny May day.

But I’m in the minority, judging from the proliferation of sweatshops like Herself’s Hot Yoga Infusion studio, Life Time Fitness, CrossFit, SoulCycle or Peloton Interactive, the last of which claims to have nearly a half-million users, according to Lauren Goode’s April 25 story at TheVerge.com.

Getting buzzed. We bicycle types do a lot of handwringing—and rightly so, given the grim stats in this magazine every issue—over how to corral that ever-more-elusive customer.

We seek out experts who bludgeon us with buzzwords like “ecosystem,” “community” and “continuum,” or chastise us for selling “products” instead of “experiences,” and damn few of them, too.

Peloton will sell you a 135-pound bike that goes nowhere for $1,995, then charge you a subscription fee of $39 per month for one year to ride it while staring into a monitor. That may be one hell of an experience, but it sounds more like exercise to me.

And I always hated gym class, with its jockstraps and Desenex and bewhistled authority figures hollering all the time.

Fly like an (AMC) Eagle. For me the most memorable experiences are to be found outdoors, where my parents told me to go whenever I was being a pain in the ass, which was most of the time, and still is.

I liked it outdoors. I still do. But it’ll take more than MarketSpeak® to sell that experience to strangers when even family isn’t buying.

Maybe we’ll get some relief once Silicon Valley gets bored with “smart” SUVs and self-driving cars and starts focusing on the newfangled flying models.

Then again, maybe not. I mean, I’ve seen the way these people drive on the ground.

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the May 15, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Giant steps

December 23, 2017

It’s not your granddaddy’s touring bike.

Ho ho ho, etc. Sanity Clause* has delivered an early gift — a Giant ToughRoad SLR 1.

Well, it’s more of a loaner than an actual present. But still.

The brain trust at Adventure Cyclist thought we were getting a little fixated on steel drop-bar bikes and thus I’m reviewing this alloy flat-bar bike, which starts our journey together with three strikes against it.

First, it has hydraulic disc brakes. Second, it rolls on tubeless tires. And finally, it has an aluminum frame and composite fork.

OK, so four strikes. When I was loading it into the Furster for the drive home I bashed my noggin on the rear hatch lid, which hadn’t opened all the way (old struts, cold weather). If I hadn’t been wearing a hat I’d probably have been scalped. As it is I look like a Giant PR flack took a swing at me with a pedal wrench.

But what the hell, it’s all baseball, que no? It will be interesting to take all my biases for a ride at once.

* And yeah, yeah, I know, I know: There ain’t no Sanity Clause.