Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Put on your sailin’ shoes

February 22, 2019

Everyone will start to cheer when you put on your sailin’ shoes.

Man, it seems I’m not the only person with a bad case of the Februaries.

Bicycle Retailer’s Steve Frothingham is at Frostbike in Minnesota, but it’s not a social call, and seems unlikely to break a streak of two weeks without exercise.

“S’what’s on the menu this evening?” I asked yesterday. “Partying with industry leaders?”

“Typing,” he replied.

Adventure Cyclist‘s Nick Legan, meanwhile, was riding that fabled Road to Nowhere in Colorado and looking forward to the Roll Massif, which will be conducted outdoors, with any luck at all in warmer weather.

Ooo, datsa baaaaaaad ol’ puddy tat.
| Photo by Hal Walter

“I was on the trainer myself,” he said. “Tried distracting myself from the misery with intervals and a movie. Worked in some respects, didn’t in others.”

Up Weirdcliffe way, Hal Walter was dealing with single-digit temps, wind, and writer’s block in what he called “the worst winter in recent memory.”

He was also keeping a weather eye out for unwelcome company. When I asked what made those tracks, he replied, “Something that could eat you.”

Me, I was making my own tracks. I put on my sailin’ shoes — along with fleece-lined tights, two Patagucci long-sleeved shirts, an old ShaverSport wind jacket, tuque, and gloves — and lumbered off into a strong southerly wind that bore nary a whiff of sun-splashed desert.

I hit some sort of weirdo thermocline just past the turnaround and set about unzipping this and unbuttoning that. But by the time I’d left the trail and hit the short paved stretch leading home I was freezing my huevos off again.

It wasn’t what I’d call fun, but it was exercise, and some days that’s enough. Still, if you must run, don’t forget to take your Little Feat with you.

Doctor, doctor, well, I feel so bad
This is the worst day I ever had
He said, Have you this misery a very long time?
Well, if you ill, I’ll lay it on the line
You’ve got to put on your sailin’ shoes
Put on your sailing shoes
Everyone will start to cheer
When you put on your sailin’ shoes

Quaddammit

February 16, 2019

The 36th Mount Taylor Winter Quadradthlon is today.

Don’t look for me in results — it’s been years since I raced the Quad, but I was pretty OK at it a time or two. The bike and run legs, anyway.

Hal’s wife, Mary, and I used to race it as a mixed pair, and we won in 1990, 1992 and 1993.

I was usually in decent shape, being tanned, rested and ready following a long cyclocross season. And Mary was always tip-top, living at altitude up Weirdcliffe way and running around with jackasses, some of them four-legged (ho, ho).

Quadware included Nambé medals and platters.

Hal, of course, did the whole thing solo, which always looked a bit too much like work to me. I was only so-so on snowshoes and an outright hazard on cross-country skis.

This was and remains a toy-heavy pasatiempo, and Hal’s truck would be stuffed to the topper with bikes, wheels, tires, skis, shoes, snowshoes and a ridiculous amount of clothing suited to any and all weather conditions.

Running shoes were augmented with sheet-metal screws in the soles for traction, in case there was ice on the run leg (there usually was).

Clip-on aero bars? Sometimes. Once I used a set of Scott Rakes to good effect, aero bars giving me The Fear on the descent back to Grants.

The bike was usually standard road. In 1990 I was rocking an aluminum Trek 1500 with 53/39 rings and a 13-24 freewheel.

I know I’ve written about the Quad before, but whatever I cranked out is squirreled away on a Zip disk somewhere or in an actual magazine, and I don’t feel like diving down those rabbit holes this morning.

However, I did find a reference to my first Quad in my 1990 training diary, and that reads as follows:

“Big-time pain. I don’t think I’ve felt this bad since I got the shit kicked out of me at Alamogordo last year. Bike leg was slower than I’d hoped for … and my uphill run was fucking awful. Downhill run was better — but not much — and the downhill bike was spiked by the Headwind from Hell.”

Yeah, good times. The Quad will never be the new golf.

• Editor’s note: Hal “Mr. Awesome” Walter notes that I lifted his faux curse “Quadammit” from one of his own works. This explains why a Spotlight search failed to turn it up on any of my hard drives; that, and an admittedly casual approach to petty theft. Give it a read.

Can’t find my way home

February 11, 2019

Good thing it doesn’t matter when a virtual press runs, because someone has been intercoursing the penguin as regards his self-imposed deadlines.

Radio Free Dogpatch is intended to be a weekly affair, scheduled for Fridays, but just ask the penguin how well that’s worked out for him (whoops, too late, he’s exploded). To date the thing has reared its ugly head weekly, semimonthly, and on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays.

After three or four goes at this most recent episode, which came this close to becoming a plain-vanilla blog post, I’m starting to think Wednesdays are the ticket. Showtime. Whatever.

In any case, and without further ado, here’s episode 19 of Radio Free Dogpatch. Too bad I couldn’t get it finished in time to win a Grammy to go along with all my Pulitzers, Reubens, Emmys and MacArthur Fellowships.

Oh, well, there’s always next year.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Editorial notes: Shannon Hall wrote about the meanderings of magnetic north for The New York Times. Steve Frothingham has been following the trials and tribulations of ASE and the various media-consolidation stories for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. John McNulty wrote about super-salesman Elmer “Sell the Sizzle” Wheeler for The New Yorker way back in 1938. And Sam Dean of the Los Angeles Times gave us a peek at Zwift’s e-sports ambitions.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited in Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro, adding audio acquired through fair means and foul via Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack (no profit was taken in an admittedly casual approach to various copyrights). Speaking of which, Buck appears courtesy of the 1935 William Wellman film “Call of the Wild,” while Nick Danger took a break from his Further Adventures to ask directions to The Firesign Theatre’s Old Same Place. The background music is “Crusin” from Zapsplat.com. And Blind Faith wrapped it all up with “Can’t Find My Way Home.”

No groundhogs here

February 2, 2019

You’d think these dudes had engines, the way they stay aloft forever. But they’re just riding the thermals like big ol’ hawks.

Well, there was me. These daredevils may have been tooling around above the Sandias like Icarus and Daedalus, but yours truly kept his landing gear on the deck. I saw my shadow, too, and you know what that means. Bundle up.

But for today, temps hit the mid-50s, and basically anyone who wasn’t chained to a concrete bunk in the Graybar Hotel was out and about, doing something.

“I’m trying to get my bike legs on!” wailed one rider as I yielded a narrow section of trail.

“I feel your pain,” I replied. I’ve been running the trails, but riding the road; this was my first trail ride of 2019.

Ordinarily I shun the trails on sunny weekends, reasoning that I get to play pretty much whenever I please while the cube farmers have a limited window of opportunity. But it’s been a long week and I felt I needed a change of pace.

Speaking of which, there will be no Radio Free Dogpatch this week, for a number of perfectly defensible reasons. I had a notion, but it ran off with one of the voices in my head. I hope they didn’t get married. We don’t need any children from that quarter.

Degrees of difficulty

January 22, 2019

It wasn’t what I’d call warm on Saturday, but the Big Yellow Ball was out in a blue, blue sky, so I had that going for me, which was nice.

Hmph. After six consecutive days of healthful outdoor exercise I thought I’d award myself a day of rest yesterday.

Should’ve kept an eye on the weather wizards. ’Cause today, it’s snowing again. Bah, etc.

Happily, I wrapped and shipped the latest “Quick Spin” video to Adventure Cyclist on Sunday, so I won’t have to check the integrity of those Jamis fenders today. Instead, I can go for a short run in the snow, see if I can find a new place to fall down.

And it could be worse. It could not be snowing in January, and come June I would be bitching about being on fire.

Or I could be an unpaid federal employee standing in line near the Trump International Hotel in DeeCee, waiting for some free food.

Radha Muthiah, president of the Capital Area Food Bank, tells The New York Times that her organization has had to reassess its targets, which now include people “making upward of $60,000 a year.”

“What was more interesting than the number were the types of calls: individuals who had never had to request food,” she said of those contacting the food bank. “Many had donated, but had never expected to be on the receiving end.

“What this experience is showing them is that so many of us live paycheck to paycheck. Any time of emergency — whether a medical emergency or something else — how quickly one can become vulnerable.”

Some federales are hunting other work, whatever they can find — babysitting, driving for Uber, substitute teaching. This may or may not keep other Americans from landing those jobs.

Notes FDA employee David Arvelo: “Who’s going to hire me not knowing how long I’m going to stick around?”

One common thread running through all these stories involves infernal combustion: people who suddenly can’t afford gas, insurance, car payments, whatever. The humble bicycle looks awfully good by comparison. Unless, of course, it’s snowing.

Sunset with a side of Aurora

January 19, 2019

The Big Yellow Ball returned to the sky yesterday, as did the color blue.

We had a lovely bit of color yesterday afternoon to close out the work week.

If we’re lucky we might be back to what passes for normal around here, weather-wise, for the next few days, anyway.

The Jamis Aurora Elite, ready for its closeup.

This would be useful, as I have a Quick Spin video to finish for the Adventurous Cyclists. It concerns the Jamis Aurora Elite, which I last reviewed in June 2011.

It’s surprising how little the bike has changed over the years, and that goes double for the price, which has been pegged at $1,699 for the better part of quite some time.

That ain’t bad for a steel bike with rear rack and fenders. A small bright spot in an otherwise dark time.

Mirror, mirror

January 7, 2019

Mirror, mirror, on the bar; who’s the loony in that car?

I got back on the bike on Saturday for a short spin to blow the ol’ carbon out of the cylinders.

The roads were crusty and dusty, where they weren’t wet and/or icy, so I needed something with fenders (the Soma DC) plus winter tights and a truly ancient Pearl Izumi hi-viz jacket. Seriously, this Day-Glo duster must date to 1994 or thereabouts. It’s old enough to be living in our basement (if we had one) while we paid off its college loans. “B.A.” stands for “barista’s assistant?” Who knew?

There were lots of hi-viz jackets and tights traversing Tramway, so I guess everyone was as sick as I was of huddling indoors or shoveling snow. But boom, come Sunday, we were back in the icebox and I decided to go for a squishy run instead of a second ride.

This time we got rain, which was a nice change. Don’t gotta shovel no rain.

Speaking of shoveling, I see Wally O’Steele hopes to lie straight to our faces in prime time tomorrow, eliminating the middleman (the “fake news”).

I don’t believe that the networks’ news departments are obliged to broadcast fiction — that’s the purview of their entertainment divisions — so p’raps the usual filters will remain in place.

Or maybe Comedy Central could air this piece of performance art, with Garrett Morris on a split screen, riffing on an old “Weekend Update” bit from “Saturday Night Live.”

It’d be a two-fer — delivering news for the deaf from the dumb.

• Late update: The networks blew the call, from James Fallows.

Wheeling to the Roundhouse

December 10, 2018

Rep. Rubio (bicycle not included).

There’s more than one way to Santa Fe from Las Cruces, and Rep. Angelica Rubio has found a lively one.

The Las Cruces Democrat will be riding her bike to the City Different for the upcoming legislative session, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Rubio hopes to use the ride in part “to raise awareness about a proposal to create a new state office of outdoor recreation, an idea that’s supported by Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham,” according to the Journal.

No word whether she’ll be on an e-bike, the flavor of the moment. But she will be riding gravel whenever possible, so she’s got that going for her, which is nice. Follow along via www.rubiosride.com.

Cold blow and the rainy night

December 7, 2018

The transition from fall to winter is always a sketchy time around here.

I’m not a fan of shorter, colder, darker days. They remind me at a genetic level of why my people invented uisce beatha. And since I no longer indulge in that miraculous restorative I’m at sea without a paddle on these chilly gray mornings, when the hangover is outside my head, at large and in charge, and not even aspirin is of any use.

This is when I await a tot of bad news, the way I once awaited a shot of good booze. The life of the free-range rumormonger is wild and free, until it isn’t, and it’s generally around this time of year when editors count and cull their herds.

“Oh, that one’s got to go. Dumber than three mules, eats like six of ’em, and shits all over the place. Fetch my .30-.30.”

It was fall 2017 when I got the word that Bicycle Retailer and Industry News would no longer require my “Mad Dog Unleashed” column. This was not a surprise. The industry-news biz, and the industry itself, was not exactly flush. Flushed was more like it. And shortly thereafter the publisher who gave the order and the editor who carried it out were no longer with The Organization.

About the same time Adventure Cyclist guessed that they wouldn’t need me at Interbike Reno, the Last Dance in Sin City having demonstrated all the intoxicating power of a half-can of O’Doul’s, a two-wheeled version of P.T. Barnum’s This Way to the Egress. When I heard nary a word about the show afterward I assumed Management had made the right decision. A bored and sober Dog makes a poor companion indeed. Whining and snarling and pissing on things.

And an old Dog, too. Set in his ways he is. ‘Tis a wee bit late to be training him so. Is there a .30-.30 to be had somewhere, d’ye think?

Well, p’raps. But not right now. Until I hear otherwise, I’m to deliver the first “Shop Talk” cartoon of 2019 to BRAIN next week. And a fresh Adventure Cyclist review bike awaits me down at Fat Tire Cycles, one of the few Duke City shops I have yet to visit.

And thus we have this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch: “Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, or Whatever Floats Your Boat.” Give it a listen.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone, Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack, and the old 2009 iMac. Cap’n Whitebeard used an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Into the Sunset” from Audio Hero via ZapSplat.com. Sounds of the sea courtesy Freesound.org.

• Editor’s note: The very day I recorded this episode BRAIN announced that the bell had tolled, not for me, but for Interbike, both show and staff. That shit will roll downhill — just how far and fast remains to be seen — and I feel the pain of all those who saw the business end of that .30-.30. Marc Sani, one of BRAIN’s founders and presently its interim publisher, has a few thoughts on the whys and wherefores. As for me, I wrote about the final Vegas show in 2017, and you can read that after the jump.

• Off to see the Wizard in 2017

Who shot a man in Reno …

December 6, 2018

“C’mon, walk it off, y’sissy. …”

… just to watch him die?

Hint: It wasn’t Johnny Cash. Not this time.