Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Spinning our wheels

November 27, 2019

Well, at least our green chile is better than yours.

We’re No. 44! We’re No. 44! We’re No. 44!

‘Pedal & Grunt’

November 26, 2019

Sun’s gonna shine in my back door some day.

My recent gastroinfestation kept me off the bike for a solid week, though Herself and I managed a casual jog around the neighborhood on Sunday.

Yesterday, as I checked the 10-day forecast, I was wondering whether I should’ve been riding a bike. My window of opportunity for a reasonably comfortable pre-holiday spin was rapidly spiraling down to peephole size.

I should have gone straight for the Cannondale Topstone 105, because that’s where the money is. But having just been laid low by one bug I didn’t want to risk another. 11-speed. Hydraulic brakes. Thru-axles. Tubeless-ready rims and tires, tighter than Dick’s hatband, tough on the invalid’s hands. I could feel both arthritic thumbs turning downward.

The Voodoo Wazoo’s pedal-assist unit (not pictured) fits atop the saddle.

So I took the Voodoo Wazoo down from its hook and rolled out for a gentle hour on the foothills trails.

This is not a Kool Kidz bike. Quick-releases. 7-speed. Cantilever brakes. And Mavic Open Pros wearing a pair of chunky Continental CrossRides.

In the event of a flat I could pry the offender off the rim with a stern glance. A brake goes wonky? Unhook it. And there’s only one derailleur to get the hiccups, a 105 rear that’s probably older than most of the product managers spec’ing bikes these days.

Some people enjoy navigating the intricacies of 11-speed, hydraulic brakes, thru-axles, and tubeless-ready rims and tires, and that’s fine. Some of them like a bit of electrical assist, or black-box drivetrains, and that’s OK, too.

But some of us still like to “pedal and grunt,” and Grant Petersen makes a compelling case for sweat and simplicity over at the Rivendell Blahg:

Bike makers have motor-envy. They all want to make motor vehicles. ALL. They drive the innovation in that direction, and say it’s for the good of all, because it’ll get cars off the road and help old people exercise. … Everything is going auto, like the only way to sell stuff is to make it that way. In 10 years people are going to take photos and make movies with eyeblinks. That will be sold as progress, because all animals are wired to want the easy way. That makes sense in a survival situation (cross the river where it’s slow and shallow), but when technology makes everything SUPER easy, there’s something good about holding back a bit.

Now, I won’t lie to you. There was a moment yesterday when I would have traded a healthy organ for a 20-inch granny. But it didn’t feel like I had one to offer, so I just got up out of the saddle.

Pedal and grunt.

 

‘It’s stupid not to bike.’

November 9, 2019

Grandpa John whiled away his retirement making miniature pianos, replicas of JFK’s rocker, and other lovely bits of woodwork instead of riding a bicycle. For transportation he preferred a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior.

I don’t care to live in Copenhagen. The climate seems ill-suited to a worshipper of Tonatiuh who knows why his bog-trotting, ring-kissing, pub-crawling ancestors invented the uisce beatha.

My stepgrandfather on my mother’s side was a Dane, but he didn’t want to live in Copenhagen either. He lived in Sioux City, Iowa, where he was retired from the railroad and whiled away the hours drinking beer and smoking cigars, maintaining a medium-heavy vegetable garden in the back yard, and making lovely bits of this and that in a basement full of woodworking tools.

I don’t recall ever seeing Grandpa John aboard a bicycle, though he certainly had the leisure time for cycling. He drove a stately maroon Cadillac with a cream interior, because that’s what a fella did in America.

Which is a shame, really. Because if we hadn’t built our cities around Grandpa John’s stately maroon Cadillac with cream interior, The New York Times might be writing stories about Albuquerque, the cycling capital of the Southwest, where the residents neither own cars nor care to, because the bicycle “is typically the easiest way to get around.”

Albuquerque probably has Copenhagen beat when it comes to cycling weather. Today, for example, we’re looking at mostly sunny conditions with a high in the low 60s, and more than 10 hours of daylight, while Copenhagen can expect a high in the low 40s, rain, and less than nine hours of daylight.

But if you think I’m gonna ride my cargo bike to the Sunport to fetch Herself home when she jets in from Florida, well, think again, Jens old scout.

First, the Sunport is a 25-mile round trip from El Rancho Pendejo, with a thousand feet of vertical gain. Second, Herself travels about as lightly as Hannibal crossing the Alps. And third, the roads seem to be full of cars for some reason. Not stately maroon Cadillacs with cream interiors, mind you, but suburban tanks about the size of Hannibal’s elephants. And their mahouts are all inattentive, impaired, or insane.

Anyway, I don’t have a cargo bike. Because for better or for worse, Albuquerque isn’t fucking Copenhagen.

And until we rethink our cities and how we get around and about in them, we’ll have to settle for reading about Paradise from our parking lots.

Feel the (Bourbon) burn

November 8, 2019

Oh, indeed, that’s the question right there.

Bicycle Week continues at El Rancho Pendejo with a long-distance peek at the National Bicycle Tourism Conference in my old hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

BRAIN’s Steve Frothingham, a very busy fellow indeed, is down on the scene and learning all about the bicycle tourism, including the Bourbon Country Burn, an event I might’ve leapt at a few years back when I was still a drinking man, assuming that any reputable publication’s editor would have been loopy enough to send a copper-bottomed tosspot to it in the vain hope of getting anything in return for the investment in time and treasure beyond a phone call from jail and a plea for lawyers, guns and money.

The BCB went from 200 participants to more than a thousand in three years, sez Steve to me, he sez. So they must be doing something right. (See “Which distilleries will I see,” above.)

The Adventure Cycling Association has boots on the ground, too, so look for a report in an upcoming edition of Adventure Cyclist.

When Ross was boss

November 7, 2019

Heavy metal: The Ross Mt. Rainier.

BRAIN honcho Steve Frothingham takes us on a spin down Memory Lane with a look at Ross Bicycles, then and now.

I saw my first Ross mountain bike in the mid-1980s. My man Hal Walter had one, a blue Mt. Rainier acquired from Great Divide in Pueblo, and what a beast it was. A steel burro that never needed hay.

“That was a great bike,” Hal said today via Messages. “It was almost heavy enough to get a workout.”

Oh, indeed. Ishiwata 4130 chromoly tubes, 48/39/28 Sakai crank, Suntour derailleurs, 14-34 freewheel, Dia-Compe cantis, and chromoly Bull Nose bar and stem, a heavy-metal package that tipped the scale at 31 pounds.

It encouraged me to get my own mountain bike, a 1986 Trek Antelope 830, a comparative featherweight at just 28.9 pounds. Light enough for me to throw it into an arroyo on some BLM land outside Española when it failed to climb a loose, steep pitch after several tries. Only as the bike was leaving my fingers did I recall that I would need it to get home.

Of course, this was when men were men, and so were the women, and we all rode rigid steel, with thumbshifters, rim brakes and 26-inch wheels. I will concede, however, that today’s machinery is a whole lot easier to throw when it lets you down. Which it will.

Rain, rain, go away …

November 6, 2019

The Cannondale Topstone 105.

… little Paddy wants to play.

We have a new review bike at El Rancho Pendejo, a Cannondale Topstone 105, but the weather is proving uncooperative as regards its maiden cruise.

The birds were pissed that their feeders were empty, so I had to trot out in the rain to resupply the chirpy little commies. From each according to his abilities, etc.

What a good thing that I whipped up a vast tureen of posole before this wee November squall rumbled through town.

As the cool drizzle quietly flogs the last of the leaves off the backyard maple under leaden skies, it’s looking like your basic one-pot day, meal-wise.

Cook the oatmeal, have breakfast, wash the pot.

Hm. Still raining.

Reheat the posole, have lunch, wash the pot.

JFC. Still raining.

And dinner? I may outsource that one, if only because I’m out of posole, and who wants oatmeal for dinner?

Anyway, even a one-quart saucepan needs a break now and then.

Ed Zink rides west

October 13, 2019

Ed Zink, one of the founders of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango, has gone beyond.

The Durango native died Friday of complications from a heart attack, according to The Durango Herald. He was 71.

Ed was a rancher, a retailer, and a pillar of the U.S. cycling community. He ramrodded the Iron Horse through good times and bad, helped bring the first World Mountain Bike Championships to his hometown, and was a gent when dealing with irksome cycling scribes who wished to quiz him about this, that and the other.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.

Contributions in Ed’s memory can be made to Trails 2000 and the Mercy Health Foundation. My condolences to his family and friends.

At ’cross purposes

October 10, 2019

Oh, yeah: It’s fall.

When the temps dip I head straight for the chile — green, red, or green-and-red — and the cyclocross bikes.

The eats lately have included turkey tacos with red Mexican rice; a red-chile posole; and a green-chile stew heavy on diced chicken thighs and spuds.

This bike will even work in California, because you don’t have to plug it in.

And the cycling? Lately it involves singletrack and my second-best Steelman, a red Eurocross that Brent built as part of an arrangement with the Clif Bar team back in the late Nineties or early 2000s.

It’s a snappy climber in the 34 x 28, but a little harsh on the bumpy stuff coming down, possibly because of the oversized, shaped True Temper top and down tubes, which have an aluminum vibe to them.

Yesterday, while climbing a trail that sensible people ride downhill, and certainly not on a ’cross bike, I successfully dodged a perambulating tarantula only to screw the pooch on a recently rearranged rocky bit (the trail fairies have been shifting the furniture around again). Caught between a rock and a hard place it was either plant a foot or take a dive. Bah, etc.

I need to reassess the cockpit configuration on this beastie. I half-assed it when I swapped stems a while back, grabbing an old Giant from the treasure chest; what I need is an entirely new stem and handlebar, the latter with a shorter reach and drop.

Plus I’ve always disliked this bike’s chunky aftermarket Shimano STI levers, which seem designed for the jumbo mitts of lesser primates. Oook ook ook.

Now that I think of it, what I really need is for Brent Steelman to come out of retirement and make me one of his old CCs, slightly updated for our modern world, such as it is. Now that was a go-anywhere, do-anything bike, back before any marketing smarties spitballed a few pitchable monikers for the category.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

October 5, 2019

Scott Pankratz will lead the Adventure Cycling Association, succeeding outgoing executive director Jim Sayer.

The Adventure Cycling Association has hired itself a new executive director.

My attention was elsewhere when the deal went down, and I don’t know what it means for The Organization. I may have met Scott Pankratz in the course of my wanderings, though I don’t recall doing so. I have met many people, many, many of them, and they have met some version of me.

In any case, he seems to have been involved in good works, co-founding (with wife Julie Osborn) the nonprofit Ecology Project International; serving on the boards of the Montana Community Foundation and the Montana Nonprofit Association; and riding the ol’ bikey-bikey from Hither to Yon and back again.

“My passion and enthusiasm as the incoming executive director at Adventure Cycling come directly from transformative moments in the saddle from Alaska to Mexico,” Pankratz said via press release. “I look forward to expanding our community to give everyone with a bike the confidence, community, and gratitude that is at the heart of the Adventure Cycling experience.”

Scott takes over from the departing Jim Sayer early next year. Best wishes to both.

Writer on the storm

September 29, 2019

Smilin’ Jack isn’t the only fella in there, y’know.

My man Padraig at Red Kite Prayer is having a rough go of it lately — so much so that he has turned to ketamine therapy in his ongoing struggle with depression.

In a word, this takes huevos. In my misspent youth I dabbled with various psychedelics — mostly psilocybin, mescaline and LSD — and I don’t mind telling you that any or all of these can really pop the top off your Jack-in-the-box.

Thing is, Smilin’ Jack isn’t the only fella in there. And he isn’t always the first one to hit the door running.

It’s one thing to hitch a ride on the Magic Bus when you’re young and sprightly, with your script largely unwritten. I’m not certain I’d have the guts to screen my personal in-flight movie a half-century further on up the road. A lot of that footage is on the cranial cutting-room floor for a reason.

So chapeau to Padraig for having the courage to lift the lid (or rip off the Band-Aid) and face what’s underneath. And for inviting us to join him on the trip. I wish him health and happiness.

If you’ve enjoyed his work, why not pop round to his place to say so? I think he’d like to hear from you.

• Extra-credit reading: Scientific American on ketamine therapy. And William Styron’s “Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness.”