Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

These kids today

September 14, 2021

All tired out.

So there I was, just riding along, when the rear tire started going softer than Brett Kavanaugh’s FBI background check.

I was already heading home, so I figured I’d just head there faster. But first I stopped to pump the tire up a bit because cornering on the rim at speed is always iffy.

That worked, for a while, but it was clear I would have to stop to give the ol’ Zéfal another workout if I wanted to ride this mess home, where the floor pump, workstand, and air conditioning reside.

So there I was, just pumping along, when a couple young women on mountain bikes rolled up.

“Do you need any help?” one asked brightly.

“No, thanks, I’m good,” I replied. And off they went.

Wasn’t that nice of the younguns, to offer aid and comfort to the auld fella? Lucky for them I wasn’t a Supreme Court justice.

Mission accomplished

August 31, 2021

The backyard maple is shedding leaves, and it’s not even Labor Day yet.

’Twas a glorious day to ride the bike in ’Burque.

Nobody told me I had waited too long, or left too soon, or was just plain doing it wrong. That I had left my wife and cat behind raised nary an eyebrow among the chattering classes.

This may be because El Rancho Pendejo remained firmly under the control of said wife and cat; their autocratic ways are not exactly breaking news. Herself has been in the driver’s seat since 1990, and Miss Mia Sopaipilla has been a key member of the ruling class for nearly half that time.

In my absence they do exactly as they please, which is pretty much what they do when I’m around, the United Nations and Geneva Conventions be damned.

The only uproar arose when I returned after 90 minutes of pooting around in the foothills on the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff.

“What’s to eat around here?” they yowled. The knives were out, along with the forks. Can a call for comment from The New York Times be far behind?

Tramway to the moon

August 27, 2021

I got mooned on Thursday’s ride.

The Sandia Peak Tramway actually goes the other way, to (wait for it) the peak of the Sandias.

I usually go that way myself, from Tramway Boulevard to Tramway Road and up toward the tram’s lower terminal, before veering off on Juniper Hill Road for a bit of up and down along the foothills.

By Thursday I was sick of the same-ol’, same-ol’, so I continued down Tramway and under Interstate 25 onto Roy, 4th, Guadalupe Trail, and eventually Alameda, then spun onto the Paseo del Bosque Trail.

But I got sick of that, too, and fast.

A massive allergy attack reminded me of the bad old days on Randolph AFB outside San Antone, where there were plenty of allergens to clog the pipes. Here, too, it seems, thanks to a hot, moist summer. I was firing snot rockets right and left, from both nostrils, and trying to breathe through my ears.

So instead of enjoying a nice flat spin along the bosque, dogged by whatever it was that had me by the snotlocker with a downhill pull, I hung a left on the Paseo del Norte Trail and struggled home via the North Diversion Channel Trail, Osuna-Bear Canyon, and like that there. Felt like hammered shit all the way, too.

You can always feel worse, though. Depend on it. Some days there isn’t enough Kleenex in the world.

It’s the little things

August 23, 2021

Running a tab (that little black gizmo between the derailleur and its hanger).

For a while I’ve been considering various ways to make my single-ring Voodoo Wazoo a little less gravity-challenged.

The bike has been through some changes over the years, but it eventually settled down as a flat-bar, single-ring, 7-speed trail bike with 700×42 rubber.

One thing it’s kept throughout its various incarnations is some old-school-cyclocross gearing. The ancient Shimano 600 crank can handle a 38T inner ring, and the Shimano 105 rear derailleur a 12-28T cassette. This yields a low end just short of 38 gear inches, which is a tall order in some neighborhoods.

So I wanted to change it on the cheap. But how? Especially during The Great Parts Drought.

The only derailleurs in the parts bin are Shimano road, so no joy there. And I’m fresh out of square-taper 110×74 BCD cranksets, or I could pull four teeth out of my chainring like a crazy dentist. But then I wouldn’t have a guard to replace the outer ring. O buggah.

Rivendell has this nice Clipper double that would be just the ticket. Reasonably priced, but still a few bucks past “on the cheap,” and anyway it’s out of stock. Plus I like the simplicity of my single-ring setup.

But while I was nosing around over there I stumbled across this $10 doodad, a SunRace SP570 extender link to put a bit more daylight between that old derailleur and its hanger.

Now, the wiseguys have been using items like this for a good long while to retrofit wide-range cassettes to older bikes. The boyos at Wolf Tooth make a couple of them, the RoadLink and and GoatLink. Being an indifferent mechanic, I went with Riv’s bargain SunRace model to mitigate my shame should I achieve failure, as is often the case. Bought a nice KMC X8 chain while I was there, and then noodled on over to Soma Fabrications for a 7-speed S-Ride cassette (11-34T).

The SunRace link included exactly zero instructions, but installation seemed as straightforward as it gets. Replace old cassette with new; remove old chain and derailleur; attach link to hanger and derailleur to link; and finally size, cut, thread, and close chain.

Well, hell. A bit of fine-tuning with the limit screws and I was off and rolling. I believe I could’ve gotten a 36T to work with this rig, but I’ll settle for 34. Sixty bucks equals 30 gear inches, more or less. If you’re looking for an easier ride on an old beater, the SunRace SP570 is a cheap ticket.

But seriously, folks. …

August 13, 2021

Windscreen trumps Mac screen.

Read the news or ride the bike?

I think you know the answer to that one.

In fact, the news has been so reliably vile lately that I’ve been logging 100-mile-plus weeks. That’s not a lot for a serious cyclist, but then being serious about anything other than humor is overrated for anyone who hopes to remain (or become) happy. Or so says Arthur C. Brooks at The Atlantic.

I’d like to ask him, “Are you serious?” But I’m afraid he might not laugh.

Meanwhile, the fourth and final round of The Visitation, scheduled for next week, has been canceled. One of Herself the Elder’s nieces decided that travel was too risky since Delta started grabbing everyone by the snotlocker with a downhill pull.

And who can blame her? Not me, Skeezix. When I stroll into a retail op to do a little bidness and see two-thirds of the clientele and half the staff wandering around with their faces hanging out, despite headlines like this, I’m inclined to think that The Dumbass, like The Bug, remains very much among us.

The Dumbass just might be worse than The Bug. We have weapons to fight The Bug, if people will simply agree to use them. But our traditional defenses against The Dumbass — like the news, which under new management has other priorities — no longer seem efficacious, if they ever were.

And once you’re all eat up with The Dumbass, you’re vulnerable to any number of opportunistic infections, from Rand Paul and Marjorie Taylor Greene twerking on “Dancing with the Stars” to “More [guns, coal mines, lifted diesel pick-’em-up trucks, insert your favorite idiocy here]!!!”

Jesus H., etc. By the time Bennu finally lands like an errant tee shot from God’s one-iron there won’t be anybody left to take it seriously, or even humorously. OK, so maybe one guy. He’ll be yelling “FAKE NEWS!” as the giant asteroid comes in hot like the fabled Million-Pound Shithammer.

Sweet dreams are made of this?

July 25, 2021

Cyclocross weather. Not just in my head, either.

So last night I dreamed that I was racing the cyclocross national championships, and since I was the only competitor I felt I had a strong chance to podium.

But somehow I was managing to fuck it up.

Everybody’s looking for something.

I was missing some important bits, among them a helmet, a race number, and the faintest idea of what the actual hell was going on. Nobody in the dream seemed any wiser.

And at one point I was having a helluva time making the bike move at all, which is a familiar feeling to anyone who’s ever raced ’cross, but this bordered on the ridiculous, like I was trying to cycle through wet concrete with two flats and a dropped chain while the Klingons had a tractor beam on me.

It seemed increasingly likely that the officials would call the race due to there being no actual racing taking place, and I was looking at a DNF in a one-man nationals, when I saw a shooting star in my peripheral vision and abruptly woke up.

There was more to the dream, and I should’ve written it all down while it was still fresh in my mind, but Mia had somehow slipped into the bedroom and was yowling for my attention and grub, not necessarily in that order. Women were hatching schemes in the kitchen. The day was thrust upon me. Coffee was indicated.

I probably should’ve ridden a cyclocross bike but no. After last night it was the road for me, thanks all the same. And I barely made it home before the rain came. No medals or prizes were awarded.

Trail tales

July 20, 2021

A 2019 shot of the Paseo del Bosque trail.

A hop, skip, and a jump from the moneyed boutique community of Aspen, an abandoned coal mine with a grim history, an environmental disaster one expert called “the worst coal mine site I’ve seen in the West,” has become “a mountain biking park for the masses,” thanks to the grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

Writes Jason Blevins in The Colorado Sun:

The word “model” comes up in almost all discussions of Coal Basin, used by the landowners, trail designers, mountain bikers, land managers and locals alike. The single track trails are a model for restoring environmental danger zones. A model for Forest Service managers seeking partnerships with private entities to help build and maintain trails. A model for open space protectors offering landowners a way to marry recreational access with an easement that prevents any other type of development.

Down here in Duke City, meanwhile, just six full-time and seasonal workers strive to maintain about 160 miles of trail, including the fabled Paseo del Bosque, known to many of us here around the old burrito cart.

According to park-and-rec PR person Jessica Campbell, via D’Val Westphal at the Albuquerque Journal, our limited trail money “must also accommodate public demand for new trail segments” in addition to maintaining what we already have.

I guess the Waltons can’t be everywhere, though of course they are, especially when it comes to selling you something. Maybe we Burqueños need a new model.

If you build it, they will come, as folks are fond of saying. But don’t neglect the upkeep of your particular field of dreams.

Dome sweet dome

July 9, 2021

Headed down, down, down to the bosque.

The more I read of the news, the more I want to ride my bicycle.

That said, holy hell, it’s getting hot again. The Heat Dome must be coming back for round two.

Another day, another century.

I was out for about three hours yesterday, down to the bosque and back again, and by noon I was starting to feel like a parched lizard in need of a shady rock.

My insulated Camelbak Podium bottles will keep water cold — OK, so, cool — for about two hours. But three hours in, what remains tastes like warm flu.

Today Herself and I got out early for our weekly leg-stretcher, about 90 minutes of pooting around in the foothills, and that was fine. Afterward we finished off the last of the tasty egg salad I made yesterday, in sandwiches of homemade bread, and I am not ashamed to say that we added some hipster potato chips to the mix.

Strictly to replace lost sodium, you understand.

Elsewhere, doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s hot, cold, up, or down, Mark Cavendish just keeps winning stages at the Tour. Dude is better at finding the hole than Ben Crenshaw.

Monsoon Weekend

July 7, 2021

The Paseo del Bosque was lush and green, even humid.

That’d be a good name for a band, hey? “Monsoon Weekend.” What kind of music, do you think? Blues? Shoegaze? Emo?

We’ve had a bit of a tuneup for what is supposed to be a dampish Saturday and Sunday, so when I rolled down to the bosque yesterday for the first time in quite a while I was aboard the Soma Saga disc, which still wears its fenders.

Good call. I had to surf a few puddles. And the extra weight of themoplastic mudguards, rear rack, and dynamo hub made it good training for … for … for what, exactly? I have no idea. I am neither racing nor touring. Just riding.

Taking a break in the Elena Gallegos Open Space

It was a nice change from my usual loops through the foothills, though. It’s easy to build a 20-mile circuit with 1,500 to 2,000 feet of vertical out here, but you know what they say about familiarity and contempt.

To disrupt the monotony I’ve been switching bikes — Soma Saga disc, Saga canti, New Albion Privateer, Nobilette, Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, even the Bianchi Zurigo Disc, the only alloy-and-carbon steed in the stable — but sometimes an old cowboy needs a new trail.

Speaking of which, I was doing a casual road ride with a couple other guys today. For no particular reason I was on a Steelman Eurocross, and it goes without saying that pretty much whenever a dirty alternative to asphalt presented itself I was on it like a dog on a bone.

I never jumped off and ran, though. That would’ve been rude.

R.I.P., Harris Cyclery

June 13, 2021

Sheldon Brown lives on at his eponymous website.

Harris Cyclery — yes, that Harris Cyclery, the place where the legendary Sheldon Brown served the cycling public — is no more.

I stumbled across the news while scanning Bicycle Retailer‘s Twitter feed (I hate to admit it, but occasionally Twitter actually serves a purpose). The folks at road.cc fear for Sheldon’s voluminous website as the shop closes its doors.

As a ham-handed, thumb-fingered dolt, I’ve relied on Sheldon’s how-to archives to solve many a problem that otherwise might cause actual mechanics to laugh at me for all the wrong reasons. It would be a tragedy of cosmic proportions if this treasure trove were to vanish into the dim mists of velo-history.

Road.cc is trying to reach Sheldon’s people for the deets. Here’s hoping they plan to survive yet another sad passing.