Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Saddle, up

September 23, 2020

Say, is it my imagination, or is that cloud flipping me the bird?

If you had told me back in January that I wouldn’t ride down to the bosque until September 22, I would’ve given you the old hee, and also the haw.

But it’s true. Between the busted ankle and The Bug® a trip to the bosque has felt either impossible or unwise.

I have a bike to review for Adventure Cyclist, though. And the Paseo del Bosque trail is one of my stock routes for these projects. So yesterday off we went, the New Albion Privateer and I, to see what we could see.

I only saw a handful of other users on the Paseo bike path.

It was a short visit —  from the Alameda trailhead to the Paseo del Norte bike path. Too many people, and not nearly enough masks. Mind you, this was around 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, not a weekend.

I felt safer on the streets. Feature that, if you can.

Once I left the bosque path things settled down considerably. The Paseo and North Diversion Channel paths were lightly used, as was Bear Canyon Arroyo.

As per usual I had one of those moments when I wonder whether I should be allowed to leave the house without adult supervision. Just west of the bike-ped bridge over I-25 I began sensing that something was not quite right about my position on the machine, and got off to have a look-see.

Well, duh. Seems somebody forgot to use some elbow grease on that saddle-clamp bolt, and the saddle had been gradually tipping skyward. Another degree or two and I might have slid right off the back and onto the rear rack.

That’s one way to carry a load, I suppose. But I doubt that Adventure Cyclist would approve.

Equinot yet goddammit. …

September 21, 2020

Me and the Voodoo Wazoo on the homebound leg.

The last day of summer? C’mon. Didn’t the Tour just wrap on Sunday, f’chrissakes?

C’monnnnnnnn. …

OK, well, then, since it is the last day of summer, with all that implies (impending winter, the ongoing cooling of the Universe, entropy galloping along unchecked toward inert uniformity), I decided to do something I haven’t done all that much this year, and that was ride the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

It practically goes without saying that I was on a rigid chromoly frame and fork, with rim brakes, 700c tubed tires, and electronic/hydraulic nothing. Unless you count the thousand-year-old Cateye Velo 8 cyclocomputer on the handlebar.

Mostly sunny, temps in the 70s, everybody in the vicinity just having a high old time. Sure, winter, entropy, and all that, but still, damn. I’ll take it.

A Grimy Handshake from Patagonia

September 13, 2020

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits
the Cibola National Forest.

I’ve somehow gotten myself on Patagonia’s mailing list, probably through buying stuff from them — and good stuff it is, too — and they sent me a note the other day linking to a piece by Mike Ferrentino.

Yes, that Mike Ferrentino, he of the Grimy Handshake. His stuff is even better than Patagonia’s.

Anyway, Mike wrote about wilderness, and why he no longer poaches trails there, and it’s worth your attention.

In other wilderness-related news:

• A forest ecologist from CSU-Fort Collins wonders whether some iconic forests might fail to bounce back after a wildfire.

• Trying to take pix of the fires? Ian Bogost says your phone’s camera was not built for the Apocalypse.

• Have the orcas finally had enough of our bullshit?

Happy trails

September 3, 2020

The Elena Gallegos Open Space was awash in goodwill on Wednesday.

Maybe it was the abrupt change in temperature from “hot as balls” to “ooh that’s nice.”

During a short ride around the Elena Gallegos Open Space yesterday morning everyone I met was in high spirits. Not a sourpuss in the lot.

Cyclists, equestrians, hikers, moms with kids, dog-walkers — everybody was smiling as though the Republic were ticking along like a fine watch instead of missing on three of eight cylinders, leaking vital fluids, and badly in need of a front-end alignment.

I haven’t been riding the trails much during the Year of the Bug because once everyone who could work from home was working from home, well … it seemed that a lot of them were not exactly working from home. Not unless their homes were on the range, where the deer and the antelope — and Your Humble Narrator — play.

With a dodgy ankle I doubted my ability to excel at “Dodge the Noob,” so mostly I abandoned the trails for the roads, though occasionally I’d hit some short, wide, low-traffic trail to cleanse the old velo-palette.

But six months later I’m more or less myself, or someone very much like him. And yesterday I didn’t have to dodge anyone. The thundering herd seemed to have thinned a bit, and those who remained didn’t give off that displaced-gym-rat vibe. Earbuds were very much not in evidence. Mostly I yielded trail, of course, even when I had the right of way. But occasionally people who had the right of way even yielded to me.

Cheery greetings were exchanged, munchkins on strider bikes applauded, horsemanship admired. Even my battered Voodoo Nakisi drew some appreciation.

“Doing some cyclocross, hey?” asked one guy after I complimented his dog, some class of burly curly black wonderpooch. I explained that my bike was a 29er with drop bars, your basic monstercrosser, just the thing for the Elena Gallegos trails, and then headed for the barn.

It was a random sample, not a scientific poll. Pundits will not cite it as evidence of a trend going into the November election. But I found it comforting. For an hour or so, anyway.

Smooth as glass

August 25, 2020

This section of Tramway didn’t get the upgrade.

I was out dicking around on the bike this morning when I thought I’d ride the recently resurfaced Tramway Boulevard, just for the hell of it.*

Nothing stays shiny and new for long around here, whether it’s bottles or boulevards.

There are other ways to get north and/or south on this side of town, and I normally use them.

But when a reader wrote to the Albuquerque Journal‘s “Road Warrior” column to praise the work that had been done on this death march of a high-speed, multilane, median-divided thoroughfare, well, shit, I figured I owed it to journalism to give it a look-see.

So I rode Tramway north from El Rancho Pendejo to just past the climb to Juan Tabo Picnic Grounds, then turned around and scoped out the southbound leg down to Cloudview before reversing course yet again for the trek back to the rancheroo.

And I’m with the Journal‘s happy reader. Well done, fellas. The new blacktop really makes the broken glass stand out.

* “Just for the hell of it.” In case you’ve never ridden Tramway, that’s a joke, son!

An example from the monkey*

August 16, 2020

Heading down Spain. If I’d had a little more tread I’d have stayed on High Desert and picked up the short stretch of dirt to the Embudito trailhead.

Well, we don’t have any fire tornadoes swirling through the neighborhood, so I’m gonna go out on a limb and call it a pretty pleasant day.

Herself was busy with this, that, and the other, so I slipped out for a solo ride on the old DBR Prevail TT, which doesn’t see much daylight anymore.

It was my road-racing bike Back in the Day®, when I still did what I called “road racing” and actual road racers called “getting shelled.” So it was a pleasant change from the usual 32-pound touring machine. Even a no-hoper like me feels frisky on a 20-pound bike.

So we climbed some hills, and then some more hills, and I didn’t even need the 34×25, because I’d left a dozen pounds of bike back in the garage.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have their own hill to climb starting tomorrow. I don’t see a virtual convention crushing it, eyeballs-wise. The traditional dog-and-another-dog show has rarely been what I’d call must-see TV. Not even the Yippies could put some zip into this mutt.

Anyway, the GOP has stolen their best bit, what with running a pig for president not once, but twice.

* “The higher it climbs, the more you see of its behind. — St. Bonaventure, “Conferences on the Gospel of John.”

Bonus non-political content

August 1, 2020

The first blue-skies shot of August.

Six months.

That’s how long it’d been since I last visited a bike shop. Until yesterday, when I popped round to Two Wheel Drive to return the Surly Disc Trucker I reviewed for Adventure Cyclist magazine.

Happily, the lads have not been wasting away, praying for a visitation by a stove-up senior citizen on a fixed income with the spending power of a junior partner in a corner lemonade stand.

They have product to sell — including a freshly scored size run of the 2021 Kona Unit X — and shortly after I lurched in, so did a couple of actual customers, while another pair queued up outside (house rules).

Manager Zach took a minute to pitch me on the joys of the Kona Electric Ute, even offering to turn me loose on the floor model. But I passed, figuring his time was more profitably spent with the paying clientele. Zach owns an E-Ute, and says it makes a fine car replacement, suitable for fetching groceries and transporting rug monkeys.

Our cars are both paid for, and we don’t use them much; we’re even getting a discount from our insurance company for letting them rot in the garage. Still, I think it would be interesting to have a go at a one-car life.

The biggest hurdle for me is (wait for it) the advancified futuristical Jetsonian technology. Sitting here at the desk I can see eight battery-powered devices without swiveling my head. I don’t really want any more.

Tell you what I do find interesting: The Soma Pescadero. Which of course is completely sold out.

Until a new run arrives sometime in November or December, I’m compelled to contemplate a cousin, the New Albion Privateer, the only other rim-brake frame available from the Merry Sales folks.

Merry’s Stan Pun says the Privateer “is like a [Soma] Double Cross with a lower BB height, longer chainstays and heavier tubes.” At a glance it seems to slot in neatly between the Pescadero and Saga. As the owner of one Double Cross and two Sagas, I’m intrigued.

And of course what we really need around here is another bicycle. N+1, baby, N+1.

Fender amped

July 27, 2020

It was cloudy around the Crest, but the real action was behind me down below, as I found out when I headed for the barn.

The monsoons have draped themselves over us like a soggy cotton shirt.

It would be nice if the Universe would rearrange its watering schedule. A little bit here and a little bit there instead of all at once, like emptying a thundermug out of a second-story window onto a warbling drunkard.

But nobody in his right mind snivels about rain in the high desert. Not when rivers are drier than a popcorn fart and even the cacti are panting.

I’ve switched bikes — from the Soma Saga (canti) to the Soma Saga (disc) — because the latter still has fenders. I pulled the mudguards and racks off the rim-brake model to make it more of a daily driver than a touring machine.

But the daily driving is different now, so, yeah. I got rained on today. Fenders are your friend.

Five months

July 22, 2020

Waiting on the “provider” at urgent care on Feb. 21. Is it just me,
or does “The Provider” sound like a third-tier Marvel superhero?

That’s how long it’s been since I broke my right ankle, getting an early jump (har de har har) on lockdown.

This one-two punch certainly restricted my movement, even without the intervention of the 101st Vanborne, which is said to be en route. Since Feb. 21, I haven’t ventured north of Tramway and Interstate 25, east of Carnuel, south of I-40, or west of Interstate 25.

In an ordinary year I would have hightailed it at least once by now, to Arizona or Colorado. At the very least I would have cycled around the bosque, ridden up to the Triangle, or even tackled a short tour. If the State is going to track me, I want the sonsabitches to work up a sweat.

But 2020 has been anything but ordinary, in terms of personal mobility, global pandemic, and creeping fascism.

Bad ankle! Bad, bad, bad! Get in that boot and stay there, thinking about what you’ve done.

Re: personal mobility. I gassed up the Forester the day before breaking the ankle, but I didn’t fill ’er up again until last Thursday.

This means that in the past five months, I’ve driven maybe 300 miles, which is what I get from a tank of gas when motoring around Albuquerque. Bum ankle notwithstanding, I’m pretty sure I’ve walked more than that.* For sure I’ve cycled more (943.8 miles).

By the way, this cycling mileage is not impressive, even for a 66-year-old gimp. My best week since the mishap saw me ride all of 80 miles. The worst? Three-point-five. Seriously. It was March 7, I was on the trainer with my Darth Bootsy footwear, and I lasted a whole half hour.

The good news is, I’m biking and hiking regularly, and the ankle continues its slow, steady rehabilitation.

The bad news is, I don’t think I can outrun one of those federales in the cammy-jammies if he catches me off the bike. And that dodgy right foot is the one I use to kick annoyances in the balls.

* OK, so I’ve only walked 123.7 miles. I had to check.

Clubbed

July 17, 2020

Your Humble Narrator working a race for VeloNews Back in the Day®, when subscription fees and advertising revenue were enough to make the nut.

Steve-O raises an interesting question:

Your thoughts (and everyone else’s) on Bicycling’s new $40/year membership model?

This seems to be the flavor of the month. VeloNews is doing something similar for $99 a year, along with most of its cousins in the Pocket Outdoor Media group.

It’s tough to get readers to pay for “content.” Most people who read a daily newspaper Back in the Day® had no idea that their subscriptions didn’t cover the cost of the ink on the newsprint, much less the tab for all the technology and people it took to make the blat land on the stoop every morning. For a reader, the daily paper was a cheap date, with the real cost borne by advertisers.

Advertising is a tough sell these days, for newspapers, magazines, and websites. So what’s left? “Memberships.”

The New York Times has had some success with digital subscriptions. Likewise The Wall Street Journal. Two real powerhouses that can serve up the goodies you can’t get anywhere else.

I see value in the NYT and The Washington Post, so I subscribe to both. I also subscribe to The Atlantic, and Charlie Pierce’s blog at Esquire. All of these outfits provide things I want and need. I wish there were some Flyover Country version of The Atlantic so I could subscribe to that too.

But when you get down to the enthusiast-publication level, the pitch for memberships gets a little tougher. What do Bicycling or VeloNews have that I want/need badly enough to pay for it?

I like reading Joe Lindsey and Andrew Hood. And I like them as people, too. But with all due respect, I’m not sure that I want to spend $150 a year with their employers. There’s a bunch of stuff in both magazines/websites that I couldn’t care less about. It would feel like signing up for cable TV. I pulled that plug back in 2006 and now we buy our TV a la carte.

Perhaps the biggest issue with hawking memberships, subscriptions, and advertising is the one that started cropping up toward the end of my freelancing career. I was fortunate to be earning steady, predictable money as a regular contributor to both VN and Bicycle Retailer. But there were lots of other hired guns who were starting to get ambushed by what we called “fans with keyboards.” People who’d work for chump change, a T-shirt, or even just the byline.

Today there are so many talented amateurs and semipros out there who are willing to create wonderful stuff for free, or for pennies, that paying for the pros — who so often find themselves consigned to following the dictates of some uninspired editor or an advertising-driven calendar of theme issues — can seem extravagant.

“OK, guys, time for the annual stationary-trainer roundup, the ‘How LeMond won using aero bars’ retrospective, and who’s doing this week’s ‘fitter/faster in 10 seconds a day’ piece?”

Everybody thinks they’re working hard, and that you should buy what they’re selling. Not everybody is right.