Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Abyss in ya

November 21, 2017

The high point of today’s outing, just below the Sandia Tram.

“And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”—Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, “Beyond Good and Evil”

Screw the abyss, I said, and went for a ride. And what a fine idea it was, too.

It was sunny and warmish out there, away from the Mac, and grew more so. I’m still reviewing the Fuji Touring Disc for Adventure Cyclist, and thus it’s the go-to machine for any bike rides out of El Rancho Pendejo, unless I absolutely, positively must have some dirt time.

I can’t stay gone for long. The Boo has been showing signs of the Dogzheimer’s and frequently forgets the difference between indoors and outdoors, with deleterious consequences for the brick floors and carpets. I kennel him when I leave, but that’s no guarantee that I won’t come home to a mess. And confining him to quarters means he can march around in any messes that he makes. I should get him some little Wellingtons to wear in the slammer.

So, yeah. Short rides, two hours or less. But still, it beats watching everybody in America be revealed as a perv’, fascist, false prophet, lickspittle, tinpot dictator, coward, fool or some combination thereof.

Finally, Friday

November 17, 2017

Early in the week the Fuji Touring Disc and I got our kicks on Route 66.

It’s been a productive week around the old rumormongery.

I edited and shipped two short videos for Adventure Cyclist; continued my evaluation of the latest review model, a Fuji Touring Disc; and wrote a column and drew a cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Cha-ching! Just back that armored car up to the vault, boys, and start shoveling. I’ll be on the patio contemplating my investment portfolio.

Speaking of which, I see our national leadership is dancing merrily with the ones who brung ’em. It can’t be much longer before there’s a new agency working hand in glove with the Eternal Revenue Service, the Department of Spare Change, which sends agents round to root through your pants pockets, sofa cushions and swear jars. Hand over those nickels and dimes, Gramps, you lot would just piss it away on housing, food or medicine.

Don’t worry, soon it will all come trickling back to you. Why, look, what’s that there, on your shoe? Looks like it’s raining on somebody!

Put your back into it

November 4, 2017

More fall, still more!

Two visits with the backcracker and I’m feeling more and more like a biped capable of upright locomotion. That said, I’m still not convinced it was a good idea for the Irish to come down from the trees, even though the English were kind enough to teach us how to operate the wheelbarrow.

What I need to be operating is some bicycles. The deadlines, they loom — for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, for Adventure Cyclist — and I’ve noticed that Kevin Drum’s obsession with artificial intelligence notwithstanding, these pieces refuse to write themselves.

And somebody has to pay the backcracker. ‘Cause he doesn’t accept health insurance.

Thus the temptation is to get out there right now and push those pedals around. Burn some fat, light the cranial fireworks, make a little magic.

Hmm. What would Plato do? Probably not that. Maybe I’ll just go for a walk.

Shocktober

October 25, 2017

I’m getting hungry — peel me a grape.

I hate to do this to anyone who’s already “enjoying” more seasonal weather, but it’s either this or politics.

Yes, that is me, riding a Marin Nicasio locked and loaded with racks and sacks. In late October. Wearing shorts, a short-sleeved jersey, and sunscreen. Ice in the water bottles. Blue in the sky.

The world is a cold, cruel place.

Well, not here. Here it’s just cruel.*

* OK, if it helps dull the pain, I was actually working, just like you.** This is a still from some video to support my review of the Marin Nicasio, coming to a copy of Adventure Cyclist near you in February 2018.

** Well, if you can call riding around like a bum during business hours “working,” anyway.

One Marin, hold the fire, please

October 15, 2017

Going down. …

There are days — approximately seven per week — when I’m delighted that I no longer work for a daily newspaper.

… and going up.

Instead of following fires, terrorism and ruthless, blithering idiocy for fun and profit, I get to ride my bikey bike.

Or, in this case, someone else’s bikey bike.

The Marin Nicasio is next in the review pipeline, and while product manager Chris Holmes watches copters chatter in and out of the Petaluma airport I get to pedal one of his products up hill and down dale here in the Duke City.

There will be more of this sort of thing today. I may not work for a newspaper anymore, but I still have deadlines.

The Bravo Foxtrot Hotel

October 12, 2017

Every day a little less green and a little more gold.

Thursday has its roots in the Old Norse for “Thor’s Day” (thōrsdagr), and it was definitely hammer time round El Rancho Pendejo today.

I burned a bunch of daylight polishing the penultimate “Mad Dog Unleashed” screed of 2017 for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, then scribbled a “Shop Talk” cartoon for the same outfit. No work, no eating, as the Zen master Hyakujo has taught us.

This shot makes the Elena Gallegos Open Space look a lot less active than it was.

Then it was 90 minutes on the Voodoo Nakisi, chasing myself around the dusty trails of the Elena Gallegos Open Space. Next to nobody in there yesterday and today it looked like the Big Eye at rush hour. Go figure. Are there no prisons? No workhouses?

The Boo requires a variety of medications and we were short one, so off to the vet I did go, flushing still more dinero down the medical loo that is our smelly little one-eyed pee-weasel.

And I checked in with friends in Santa Rosa to gauge the state of affairs out there. Not good, as you probably already know. Nearly 3,000 homes destroyed, 29 people dead, and both numbers expected to rise.

Among the houses incinerated was one belonging to the late Charles M. Schulz, creator of the fabled “Peanuts” strip.

My man Merrill is planning another cross-country run before settling into his new life on the Left Coast and hopes to pass through the Duke City this time around, so I’ll get a full report sometime next week from a former New York Times man. Right now he’s couch-surfing at the mayor’s digs and resting up for the final push.

And my old buddy Miz Lo is hiding from the smoke down Petaluma way but hopes to return to the Pink Palace soon. She knows many people who won’t be so fortunate.

Last Roundup in Sin City: Batter(y) up!

September 25, 2017

The Tern GSD in mango.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (MDM) — To e-bike, or not to e-bike: That is the question. …

We all know the e-bike is the latest and greatest entry in The Next Big Thing™ sweepstakes. Previous contenders include mountain bikes, cyclocross bikes, single-speeds, city bikes, cargo bikes, fatbikes, etc., et al., and so on and so forth (thanks for playing).

Some of us think you can’t sell a certain subset of Americans a two-wheeler if it doesn’t have an engine — and sometimes, not even then (Harley sales hit a five-year low last year).

That said, in comments Comrade Herb warns: “Let’s all be careful and not snark too much about e-bikes. Lord [knows], anything that gets people out of the house and out from behind their SUV’s wheel is a good thing. And if it keeps my local bike shop alive I’m more than happy to go along with the addition to the two-wheel choices.”

And Consigliere Larry adds: “I’ve boiled my e-bike opinion down to this: E-bike instead of car? Wonderful. E-bike instead of bicycle? Not so good.”

Maybe this is the ticket: When it comes to commuting or cargo, a little electrical assist is preferable to dinosaur drive.

CyclingTips tech editor James Huang said on Twitter yesterday that he’s been living the e-cargo-bike life since January 2016, adding: “No other bike in the fleet has as big an impact on my life as that one, no question.”

The bike that most recently caught his eye was the Tern GSD. James first saw it at Eurobike, and the rest of us saw it at Interbike, and I have to admit it was impressive. With MSRP starting at $4,000 the GSD can haul kids, and cargo, and it can tour — the Bosch motor with dual batteries is said to have a range of more than 250km, which is further than I plan to travel on my meat-powered machine today, or even this week.

But questions remain. Who’s gonna buy it? And who’s gonna sell it?

I’ve heard some folks say the e-bike is a natural fit for cycling’s aging demographic, which means they’re hoping to pitch it to the same faces they’ve seen under helmets since hairnets were cool. Others say the e-bike is attracting an entirely new customer.

And still others want nothing to do with the goddamn things, wary of the sales-and-service downsides of becoming an early adopter. Some of these folks might be stuck holding fatbikes they can’t unload, or worried about the rules, regulations and fees that Big Gummint might decide to tack onto these beasties should they begin turning up on America’s streets in quantity.

Are these shop owners missing out? Ceding TNBT™ to specialty e-bike retailers, or motorcycle dealerships? Yamaha’s in the game now, and the bike biz is basically a rounding error on that balance sheet.

What are your thoughts? Anyone out there own an e-bike, or sell ’em? Give us the buzz in comments.

Last Roundup in Sin City: A rendezvous of strangers

September 22, 2017

Everybody’s working for the weekend.

LAS VEGAS (MDM) — Every morning I get up a little later, and a little slower, and every morning the line at Starbucks gets a little longer, and a little grouchier.

I remember the women working this location just off the Luxor lobby. We’ve seen each other for three mornings in September for years, and I always tip massively, because nobody should have to deal with me for free first thing in the morning unless they’ve committed some outrageous sin, like saying, “I do.”

So I get my cuppa, with smiles and light banter for dessert. One asked if they’d see me tomorrow, and I said, no, I’ll be checking out, and she wished me a safe journey home.

I didn’t tell her that we’d never see each other again, because once I snap that pic of Sin City in my rear-view mirror, I will never come back to this place, not in this life. But I will remember these women working their 21st-century assembly line, building new mornings for strangers, one cup at a time.

Speaking of sunny smiles, I caught up with Larry over lunch at Rí Rá yesterday. He knows all things Italian, but had a few questions as regards the menu at this Gaelic beanery in the Shoppes at Mandalay.

“What do the Irish drink?” he enquired.

“Everything,” I replied. Hey, you gotta swing for the fences when they pitch ’em slow like that.

On Wednesday my Adventure Cyclist comrades Alex Strickland, Nick Legan, Rick Bruner and Your Humble Narrator passed a couple pleasant hours discussing the eternal verities and remembering Mike Deme over Mexican food at the El Dorado Cantina.

You may recall from our 2015 coverage that the El Dorado adjoins a “gentlemen’s club,” but as in ’15, we restricted our activities to the side of the joint where everyone was keeping their clothes on.

And the show, you ask? It’s the show. A little smaller, a little less vibrant, and surprisingly short on bikes without batteries. But we managed to find a few unenhanced models suitable for the adventurous cyclist, and we’ll discuss those in greater detail further on down the road.

Next: Leaving Las Vegas.

So much winning!

September 14, 2017

The Marin Nicasio, up against the Wall of Science here at El Rancho Pendejo.

There’s a new review bike in the queue at El Rancho Pendejo — a Marin Nicasio.

I picked it up from the fine folks at the local Performance Bicycle shop this morning, and it practically goes without saying that ever since it’s been raining on and off because of course it has.

The Nicasio (Professor Google informs me that the name* is from the Greek for “the victorious one”) is one of those affordable do-whatever machines, with steel tubes, drop bar and disc brakes. Part of Marin’s “Beyond Road” stable, it comes with skinny-ish Schwalbes but will take the fatties, and the 2×8 Shimano Claris reminds me of the good ol’ daze spent rippin’ it up with eight-speed Ultegra, which can still be found on four bikes in the fleet.

OK, so, full disclosure, one of those bikes uses a blend of eight-speed Ultegra, Dura-Ace and XT. Sue me.

Anyway, more as I learn it. And no, I haven’t ordered up a thousand-dollar iPhone X or the Apple Watch Series 3 yet, thanks all the same. Have you?

* Prof. G just told me that Nicasio is also a place in (wait for it) Marin County, Calif. Duh.

That Voodoo that I do

September 10, 2017

The Voodoo Nakisi, parked up near the Pino Trail outside the Elena Gallegos picnic area.

Labor Day may be the unofficial end of summer for a lot of yis, but for me, it’s always Interbike.

In the olden days, when I was still a man instead of whatever it is that I am now, I would have already squeezed at least one cyclocross under my bibs by the time Le Shew Bigge rolled around.

Your Humble Narrator working a barrier at one of those long-ago cyclocrosses.

But my final race was in 2004, and as the Last Roundup in Sin City approaches I’m mostly rolling around to no particular purpose, on whichever bike amuses me at the moment, free of licensing, race number and organizational responsibilities (that first race of each new season was usually the one I promoted).

This aimless pedaling about keeps me out of the office, where the temptation is to overload the wagon like some dumb-ass pilgrim lugging all his proud-ofs to the frontier.

Do I want to do any podcasting from Interbike? Video? If one or the other, or both, which MacBook do I take, the 13-incher or the 15-incher? Thank God I’m down to one functional camera. That’s one equipment-selection decision successfully avoided.

Unless I want to buy a new camera. …

No, goddamnit, knock that shit off. Confine yourself to the bloggery. Avoid the hernia.

I always think it would be fun to do something different, and I always wind up doing the same damn thing — wandering around with a pad and pen, talking to people, an informal process that can be knocked all to hell by these consarned newfangled ee-lectronical comosellamas.

It’s all good fun until someone gets hurt. And that someone is likely to be me. If I wanted to carry a rucksack with a hunnerd pounds of gear for money I’d join the damn Army, is what. I got the haircut already.

In other news, Red Ryder has gone to The Big Roundup In the Sky. And no, he didn’t shoot his eye out.