Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

It’s a long, long way down to Reno, Nevada

August 15, 2018

Thirty days and counting to Interbike.

I’ll be skipping the show this year. Adventure Cyclist expects slim pickings in the touring category, and BRAIN hasn’t paid my freight in forever, a cost-benefit calculation that keeps coming up snake eyes for Your Humble Narrator. In lean times the last thing you want is an ill-mannered, off-the-leash cur snarling at the customers as you try to keep the bank from taking the bike shop.

Le Shewe Bigge has shifted north from Las Vegas to Reno for 2018, and I can’t be the only person who finds it amusing that Interbike went there to get itself a divorce from Sin City. Still, I’m curious to see how it works out.

There’s much chin music about an ongoing “Reno-ssance,” the local spin on “gentrification,” which itself is the scenic route to “get those poor people out of sight, they’re scaring the tourists and playing hell with property values.” See Bibleburg, Duke City, et al.

For instance, in The Biggest Little City in the World one may enjoy a nifty Riverwalk District that skirts the Truckee, where the John Laws have been running off homeless campers, unfortunates who may be traveling by bicycle because they have to, not because it looks like fun.

Novelist and musician Willy Vlautin has written about people like these who seem to be missing out on the “Reno-ssance,” and so has Our Town Reno, a production of the Reynolds Media Lab, part of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada-Reno. They taught me a new word: “artwashing.”

It’s been years since I last visited Reno, en route to and/or from visits to friends in Northern California. It always felt like a rest stop between Here and There, not a destination in its own right. I’d camp at the Motel 6 West, and dine at some hippie joint down off Sierra, or maybe Virginia, I don’t remember. Vegetarian fare, heavy on the garlic to ward off the vampires.

Come morning I’d grab a cup of joe and a tank of gas and get the hell out of Dodge. Which, as it turns out, seems to be mostly what all these tourist traps want from us. Howdy, partner! Got any money? Keep moving.

Before long the last place in the country without a riverwalk, legal weed and a bespoke artisanal microbrewery will be Ash Fork, Arizona. You will not see Interbike in Ash Fork anytime soon, no matter how bad the bike biz gets.

 

Color me surprised

August 11, 2018

Looks like rain, y’say? Shoe does.

Some days, you kit up for a ride, but the Universe says, “Piss on you,” and then does. But nobody who lives in a desert complains about the rain.

Come rain or come shine

July 29, 2018

Whenever it rains this low spot fills up on Juniper Hill Road NE.

Fender weather? In ’Burque? Say it ain’t so!

’Tis so.

SKS keeps Sammy shiny.

Fanta Se got hammered the other day by what the weather wizards were calling a thousand-year storm, and we’ve had a couple doozies of our own.

They left smallish sand dunes and mud streaked across the roads, and the occasional shallow puddle, which never lasts long because this is thirsty country.

Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, because I hate that brown stripe up the keister, on Friday I rode the Sam Hillborne with its silver SKS thermoplastics. And yesterday I hauled out the Soma Saga Disc, which sports a set of black Soma mudguards.

Today we’re back to sunshine and homicide, so I’ll climb back aboard the Bianchi Orso, whose moment in the media sunshine is fast approaching.

It never rains, but it pours.

Albatross!

July 3, 2018

The Soma Double Cross in townie configuration.

Lots of bikey stuff going on around here lately. It makes a welcome distraction from the news, which as per usual is mostly bad. And likewise from the weather, which is mostly hot.

Since my Voodoo Wazoo has become a kinda-sorta 700c mountain bike, I decided to turn the Soma Double Cross into a townie for short hops hither and thither, or even long ones.

The Double Cross had been rigged as a light touring bike, with XT triple crank and eight-speed XT rear derailleur, drop bar, bar-end shifters, and aero levers (augmented with top-mounted brake levers) to operate the Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis. Now it sports an Albatross bar and Dia-Compe SS-6 brake levers from Rivendell, and of course the bar-cons stuck around for the ride.

Albatross!

At 27.2 pounds it’s nearly 5 pounds lighter than either of my Soma Saga touring bikes, so it makes for a sporty little errand boy.

The Bianchi Orso 105, up against The Wall of Science.

Meanwhile, the next bike in the Adventure Cyclist review pipeline is a Bianchi Orso with 11-speed 105 STI, hydraulic stoppers and thru-axles. Quite the technological advance from eight-speed XT with bar-cons, rim brakes and quick-releases, or so the industry would have you believe. Engineers gotta engineer, marketers gotta market. Still, I wonder when we’re going to run out of 50/34 cranks and 11-32 cassettes so a brother can get a touring drivetrain up in this bitch.

All this wrenching and riding and whatnot makes a feller hungry, so last night I whipped up a mess of chicken tacos in salsa verde with a side of Mexican rice. Anybody who thinks I make a shambles as a mechanic should see what I did to the kitchen. It was worth it, though. And now we have leftovers. Huzzah, etc.

Summertime …

June 21, 2018

Homeward bound.

… and the living ain’t easy. Not if you’re riding a bike into a stiff breeze, anyway.

Get your kicks, etc.

Bored with my usual routes, I decided to cycle to Tijeras this morning. Old Route 66 is a pleasant, rolling road with good shoulders and moderate traffic, and the ride is not particularly challenging, unless you happen to be gnawing on a stout headwind that the weather wizards didn’t bother mentioning before you left home.

The good news is that it turned into a glorious tailwind for the return leg. At one point I was coasting at 35 mph. Beat the mortal nuts off grinding along at single digits in the 24×18.

Back at the ranch, I noted that our “leaders” were still trying to transform the nation into a poor reality-TV reboot of a Marx Brothers movie:

• Migrants on military bases? I asked the Air Force a while back if I could visit Randolph AFB, where I spent five years as a mad puppy, and they said nix. And mind you, they wouldn’t even have to separate me from my parents, because they’re both dead.

• Fancy Pants Pruitt. Sounds like a character from “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” doesn’t he? Except Jimmy Breslin would never write such a shabby little mook.

• From tactical pants to tactless jackets. Guess what, Melania? We knew it already.

• A snippet of video that serves as “a brisk and complete summary of the great ship of fools that is the United States House of Representatives under the barely noticeable leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan, the zombie-eyed granny-starver from the state of Wisconsin.”

Hail, hail, FreeDumbia. Duck soup, I tell ya.

Forward, into the past (part 1,672,078 in a series)

June 18, 2018

The road to the clouds. OK, so it’s the road to the tram. But the tram is the road to the clouds, so there, smartypants.

How pleasant to enjoy a respite from summer before its official arrival.

The rain ushered in a brief spell of cooler temps, and I actually considered wearing knee and arm warmers for yesterday’s ride. But the sun eventually came out, and stayed out, so I troweled on some sunscreen instead and got after it.

The Eurocross lacks handlebar tape, but otherwise it’s all set for 1990.

What was intended as a short spin wound up taking a couple hours, and afterward Herself and I slouched on the back patio with refreshing beverages, helping the cats watch the birds.

On Saturday, while it was still raining, I continued my time travels, chucking my favorite Steelman Eurocross into the Wayback Machine for a journey to the era when aero levers and bar-end shifters ruled Velo-earth. That Shimano 600 STI was just too dern modern for me.

While I was about it I added a new, wider bar, a 44cm Soma Highway One, which has less reach and drop than the old 42cm Cinelli Eubios. The Cinelli may be as old as the bike, which says something about Cinelli quality, the luck I was pushing, or perhaps both.

Up the Wazoo!

June 14, 2018

 

I suffered an allergic reaction to advanced technology this morning and went out for a much-needed refresher course in the advantages of stone knives and bearskins.

My Voodoo Wazoo dates to 2005, but is largely a creature of the previous millennium:

• Reynolds 853 main tubes with a Tange Infinity fork.

• Shimano 600 crank with a single 38-tooth chainring and a Salsa Crossing Guard.

• Seven-speed Shimano 105 derailleur.

The Bloo Voodoo Wazoo (file photo).

• Seven-speed Shimano Hyperglide freewheel, 12-28T.

• Shimano Hyperglide Narrow chain.

• Seven-speed Shimano bar-con mounted on a Paul Components Thumbie.

• Shimano 600 hubs laced to Mavic Open Pro clincher rims.

• Continental CrossRide tires, 700×42.

• Vetta saddle liberated from a Team Crest Pinarello Prologo TT.

• Control Tech seat post from God only knows where.

• Easton EA50 stem and Cannondale Fire flat bar with cork grips.

• Real brake levers (that was actually the name of the company: Real).

• Avid Tri-Align cantilever brake (front) with KoolStop pads.

• Dia-Compe 986 canti (rear) with Dia-Compe pads.

• Actual straddle-wire-and-yoke setup for both.

• Time ATAC pedals.

There was none of your fancy “10-speeds,” nor your high-draulical brakificationist grand-doo and foofaraw, nossiree. And we had tubes in our goldurned tires, and we liked it!

Oh, to be sure, it was a little strenuous climbing in the 38×28, and I nearly got centerpunched in a blind corner by a lively young rapscallion riding one of your whatchacallem, “mountaineering bikes,” but all in all it was a pleasant reminder that “old” doesn’t always mean “useless.”

 

Mad dogs and Englishmen*

June 12, 2018

Climbing Simms Park Road on the Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1 with almost 40 pounds of gear and not nearly enough legs.

Well, a mad dog, singular, anyway. Noonday sun, to be sure. And temps in the 90s by the time I returned to El Rancho Pendejo from some weight training and videography with a fully loaded REI Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1, which is the next bike in the hopper for all you eager Adventure Cyclist readers.

Two bottles would about get me to the city limits on a day like today.

If this had been an actual tour of the parched upper Chihuahuan Desert, there would be at least one more water bottle on that bike. Maybe one of those big blue Adventure Cycling Association-label Hydro Flasks, slung underneath the down tube. And p’raps a couple of fat Ortlieb water bags in the panniers, too.

*Englishmen not included.

La Ruta Reducido

June 3, 2018

From left: Pat O’B, Your Humble Narrator and Khalil S. “The boys regret their apparel selection as they begin their prison sentences. It seems they will be targeted by the harder criminals.” | Photo and caption by Herb C.

La Ruta del Rancho Pendejo 2018 is receding in the helmet mirror, the weather gods having decreed that stage two would not proceed as scheduled.

Stage one, a pan-flat, 33-mile out-and-back on the Paseo del Bosque, went off without a hitch, unless you count hunting parking spaces at the Alameda trailhead. Hijo, madre, etc. It was like looking for honesty in DeeCee. I usually bicycle down to the bosque trail, so this was a new experience for me, and I devised my very own parking space, where I imagine no one had parked before.

With the heavy machinery docked, properly and otherwise, Pat O’B., Herb C., Khalil S. and I set sail with a few hundred thousand of our closest friends (save for you, dear readers) for what I and the weatherperson anticipated would be a hideously hot, wind-scoured ride. Not so much. It turned out right nice. Even our handlebar bells were in sync, pealing out nuggets of harmony as we overtook our brethren and sistren in heavy traffic.

From left: Pat O’B, Your Humble Narrator and Herb C. The South Diversion Channel Trail, says the city’s description of the bosque tour, “provides impressive views of an industrial portion of Albuquerque,” if you happen to be feeling industrious. | Photo by Khalil S.

For some reason I never remember to unlimber the camera on these deals, mostly being preoccupied with bullshittery, so we have no “pro” images of the four of us from the Canon PowerShot S110 and its convenient timer for hands-free photography.

Happily, Khal and Herb weren’t shy about pulling out their phones for a few snaps, so we have proof that we were on the bikes and not barstools. At these precise moments, anyway.

Afterward we lunched at Casa de Benavidez on 4th, and then I sped off to the Duke City airport to fetch Herself home from a jaunt to Colorado while the lads amused themselves elsewhere.

I had planned to snap a few candids of the crew on today’s mountain-bike ride, especially if anyone wound up plucking cactus thorns from their bibs, but the planet had other ideas.

Between fires, high winds, and impending heavy rain and/or hail, we agreed to employ the better part of valor, which is to say “discretion.”

At long last, rain. My fault: I washed and lubed the bicycle I intended to ride today.

We might have been able to pull off a quick hour on the trails — by noon, the gods had huffed and puffed to no particular effect — but there ain’t many places to hide in the upper reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert when they finally start tossing the icewater and electricity around and about.

So Pat scurried off home to Sierra Vista, Khal remained in Fanta Se, and Herb headed north to inspect The Arts so that he might tell the wife he’d done something of merit over the weekend. Me? I caught up on news and chores. The party never stops.

Next year we might shift the Ruta north to Khal’s neighborhood. There’s plenty of cycling to be done in our old hometown, lots of top-shelf grub, and The Arts aplenty in case any of yis tilt in that direction.

Finally, thanks to Pat, Khal and Herb for joining me, and another round of happy-birthday wishes to Pat, who celebrated his 69th with us.

 

 

Hot time in the old town

May 30, 2018

New Mexico must have a patent on these cloud formations. And if it doesn’t, it should.

Looks like the inaugural Ruta del Rancho Pendejo will be a warm one, with highs in the 90s and 80s, though there’s a chance of afternoon showers on Sunday.

The very latest in fluid acquisition and retention technology.

This last we will believe when we see it.

Never fear, however. Your Humble Narrator, with an assist from Adventure Cyclist editor-in-chief Alex Strickland, has acquired a number of advanced hydration-delivery devices for distribution to all participants.

We regret to announce, however, that Roseanne Barr will not be joining us for the weekend’s activities. She’s apparently decided to take a fresh direction. Some sort of gravity deal.

And it seems to be quite the show. I haven’t seen anyone go downhill that fast since Missy Giove was shredding the gnar.