Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

Happy trails

January 2, 2017
Don't let the apparent solitude fool you — the Piedra Lisa/Embudo Dam trails were crawling with people trying to sweat out their hangovers.

Don’t let the apparent solitude fool you — the Piedra Lisa/Embudo Dam trails were crawling with people trying to sweat out their hangovers.

Right. New Year’s Day has come and gone, and it’s all downhill from here.

Instead of Hoppin’ John and cornbread, deadlines are on the menu — print reviews of the Trek 520 and Specialized Sequoia are due this month at Adventure Cyclist, along with video of the Sam Hillborne. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, meanwhile, wants a column and cartoon.

The struggle continues.

Bellying up to the bar on New Year's Day.

Bellying up to the bar on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, the first ride of the year is in the books. I performed a cassette transplant on the mango Steelman Eurocross to replace a 26-tooth cog with a 28 — 36×26 is too tall for some of the trails I ride around here — and went out and about for an hour.

Riding touring bikes has spoiled me for cyclocross. I need to think about rearranging the technology on this Eurocross, losing the balky old eight-speed Ultegra brifters for bar-cons and aero brake levers; shortening and raising the stem a tad; and going wider with the handlebar. Also, and too, pulling a few teeth on the chainrings, going to 46/34 from 48/36.

And while I’m at it, I could go nine-speed. Forward, into the past!

I’m probably stuck as regards tires — 32mm is what I’m rocking now, and I nearly slid off a greasy off-camber bit and into a ditch full of sharp rocks and cacti because I’m used to riding nice, fat, squishy 38s and up. But I think I’ll be lucky if I can shoehorn a 35 into that rear triangle.

And if I’m unlucky, or unfit? Well, I guess I can always ride the Soma Double Cross, which already has bar-cons and aero levers, plus a triple crank and 700x42s. Gotta look for that silver lining, don’t you know.

Along those lines, consider this: At least Mariah Carey won’t be the next president. Too soon?

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 3: A wrenching feeling

December 29, 2016

• Editor’s note: As the year winds down, I’m taking a page from the mainstream-media playbook and reprinting a handful of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. This one was published in the June 15 edition.

A mechanic: The nut behind the wrench that cannot be replaced.

A mechanic: The nut behind the wrench that cannot be replaced.

That wrenching feeling,
when the customer tries
doing his own assembly

“Men, you’ve been there. You build something like that and you’re done and you got a real little bag of important-looking shit left over.” — Tim Allen, “Men Are Pigs”

By Patrick O’Grady

The times they are a-changing, according to Bob Dylan, who should know. He turned 75 in May.

So how many roads must a man walk down? Well, for starters, there’s this one: The German consumer-direct outfit Canyon plans to bring its some-assembly-required bikes to America. Specifically, to Americans. The ones who don’t work in bike shops.

Some companies — Trek, Giant, Raleigh — have been loitering along the shoulders of this high-speed thoroughfare, allowing their customers to buy online and then pick up their bikes, fully assembled, at their local shops.

But not Canyon. They’re going Furthur, hoping to fill a big ol’ bus with customers that some companies’ lawyers don’t trust to operate the humble quick-release skewer, much less assemble a complete bicycle.

A colleague and I were joking about this the other day, as journalists are prone to do, because the only thing funnier than human suffering is profiting from it.

“Imagine all the late-night drunk internet shopping,” says my colleague. “Then a box of bike parts shows up at the door a week later. ‘Honey, did you order a hang glider?’”

Says I: “Yeah, right about the time the wife scores some goodies from IKEA. Before you know it you’re turning up at the Sunday club ride on something that’s half bicycle, half bookshelf.”

I quoted Tim Allen to him, the bit about assembling a gas grill, a small bag of important-looking items left over, and a wife with her hair on fire. Says he: “You could build a new Great Barrier Reef with all the extra parts and Allen wrenches in every kitchen junk drawer in America.”

But not a new wife. Not yet, anyway, though I’m sure somebody’s working on it.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

Stop the machine

November 15, 2016
Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Sometimes you have to start the machine to stop it.

The ticking in my head seemed a little ominous today, so after I finished a “Shop Talk” cartoon for Bicycle Retailer, consulted with a few colleagues, and walked The Boo, I stepped away from the Mac for a short, “fast” cyclocross ride, in which “fast” was in comparison to, oh, I don’t know — continental drift?

Anyway, it was a beautiful afternoon, nearly everyone I encountered seemed to be in a good mood for no good reason, and as a skull-flusher I recommend it to you without hesitation. The world will still be there when you get back.

As my man Garrison Keillor says, “politics is not everything. Life goes on.”

Unless you’re Mose Allison, that is. Goddamn. He’s left me with my mind on vacation and my mouth working overtime.

 

Cold-blooded

October 23, 2016
I think this is a Sonoran gopher snake, but s/he was fixin' to be an ex-snake if someone didn't get him off the road.

I think this is a Sonoran gopher snake, but s/he was fixin’ to be an ex-snake if someone didn’t get him off the road.

Yesterday was “Reptile Rescue Day” here at Animal Planet.

First, I was riding through the Range Rover Preserve at Fauxdobe Village (High Desert) when I saw a couple vehicles stopped cop-style at the centerline, the drivers engaged in conversation about something.

Well, they’re taking up most of the right-of-way in both directions and they’re hardly even close to each other (the one on my side of the road is blocking the bike lane), so I move to the center and slow down, figuring to ring my little bell to get their attention and then shoot the gap.

"Oh, shit, it's the REMF who thinks he's in charge around here again. ..."

“Oh, shit, it’s the REMF who thinks he’s in charge around here again. …”

Until I see the snake.

S/he was a beauty, at least three feet long, and smack in the middle of what must have been some pleasantly warm asphalt on a fall morning. So we all took a moment to admire him, or her, snapped some pix, and after the motorists moved on I encouraged the snake to find a safer spot for sunning.

After I got home I invited the cats outdoors for a bit of fresh air and during his inspection of the perimeter Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) took a lizard prisoner.

His interrogation of the POW struck me as a little too vigorous, bordering on a breach of the Geneva Conventions, and following some heated debate, as the supreme civilian authority I ordered the lizard released.

In unrelated news, Herself is running The Other Half this morning in Moab. I texted to ask if she had her war face on but haven’t heard back yet. If she doesn’t scare me I’ll have her work on it.

The high-priced spreads

October 16, 2016
Going down. Down, down, down, down, down.

Going down. Down, down, down, down, down.

More cycling, still more!

Yesterday I was riding the Nobilette through the steeps of Richie Rich country in northeastern Albuquerque. The idea is to cleanse the palate, flushing my system of everyone else’s bikes before I do a cannonball back into the deep end of the review pool beginning Monday.

No pix of the houses. Just their trees. I mean, you've seen one 12,000-square-foot house, you've seen 'em all.

No pix of the houses. Just their trees. I mean, you’ve seen one 12,000-square-foot house, you’ve seen ’em all.

The Nobilette has a Sugino triple (46/34/24), an Ultegra rear derailleur, and a nine-speed, 11-28 cassette, so spinning up the hills is a breeze, especially if that breeze is a tailwind. Plus it weighs 23 pounds, at least five pounds less than the typical review model.

I favor my Richie Rich route because it has almost zero traffic and plenty of climbing. Plus you get to see how the other half lives (large). One casita for sale along the way is listed for a million-five. Booyah.

While we’re discussing the lifestyles of the rich and famous, Insane Clown Pussy is still screeching about how the election he hasn’t even lost yet is “rigged.” Check those Florsheim prints on your little weenie, dude. I bet you find an exact match in one of your closets.

 

My (Euro)cross to bear

October 15, 2016
Blazing saddles: Not Mongo, but mango.

Blazing saddles: Not Mongo, but mango.

More cycling yesterday. I think I’ve finally broken my annual post-Interbike slump.

For some reason, probably that we’re suddenly in the middle of October, I decided to pull my favorite Steelman Eurocross off its hook, give it a bit of a wash and brush-up (plus two new Michelin Jets), and go chase myself around the Elena Gallegos Open Space for an hour or so.

I like to enjoy this sort of foolishness on a weekday, during business hours, the trails come weekends being thick with body-armored double-boingers, texting dog-walkers, the iPlod People and other impediments to forward motion. No need to have an audience while one struggles up a rocky pitch in the 36×26, with 700×30 tires.

One of these days I need to give the old beast more than some fresh rubber. Nine-speed Ultegra, maybe? That eight-speed STI is the velo-equivalent of stone knives and bearskins these days, though it seemed just the ticket back when I still had a song on my lips and a spring in my steps.

Let me forget about today until tomorrow

October 13, 2016
Though you might hear laughin’, spinnin’, swingin’ madly across the sun, it’s not aimed at anyone, it’s just escapin’ on the run.

Though you might hear laughin’, spinnin’, swingin’ madly across the sun, it’s not aimed at anyone, it’s just escapin’ on the run.

I probably should have been conspiring with my fellow journalists about how best to speed the ongoing decline and fall of Ronald McDonald McTrump, but I felt like riding a bike, so I did that instead.

Anyway, it doesn’t look to me as though this virulent orange ball of flatulence needs my help to sink slowly in the west, into a sewage lagoon of its own making.

When I got back home I cranked up iTunes and worked my way through my admittedly limited Bob Dylan collection (“Blonde On Blonde,” “Blood On the Tracks,” “Bringing It All Back Home,” and “Highway 61 Revisited”).

I’m not sure ol’ Bob merits the Nobel Prize for Literature, but right offhand I can’t think of anyone else who has it coming, either. I know that I like him, and so I’m happy for him, and shall defer in matters literary to Thomas McGuane, whose opinion on Dylan (from “Nothing But Blue Skies”) I have poached before:

No one compares with this guy, thought Frank. I feel sorry for the young people of today with their stupid fucking tuneless horseshit; that may be a generational judgment but I seriously doubt it.

 

 

Well, bust my balloons

October 2, 2016
"Where the hell are all the balloons?"

“Where the hell are all the balloons?”

Herself and I cycled over to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta yesterday to see what it was all about.

Mostly it was all about RVs. Seriously. We didn’t see a single, solitary balloon. But we did see about eleventy-bazillion dollars’ worth of houses on the hoof, taking up all the ordinarily vacant acreage for miles around.

Turns out that we arrived between shows. There’s a whole lot of not much going on between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. I saw more action during the last day of Interbike, f’chrissakes.

Still, it was a nice ride, exactly 23 miles; the bike paths there and back were not bumper to bumper; and our recreational vehicles took up less parking space once we got them home.

Later we learned via The New York Times that the increasingly deranged Agent Orange apparently pays less income tax than a freelance scribbler. So, of course, do GE, Boeing, Verizon, Bank of America, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

Lady Liberty must be feeling a bit like Lili Von Schtupp, with all these cowboys giving her the business. So … tired.

Interbike 2016: We’ll always have Parris

September 23, 2016
Masi's Adventure Series bikes.

Masi’s Adventure Series bikes.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (MDM) — Ah, so this is what it’s like to have a job. Toting that barge and lifting that bale from sunrise to dark-thirty, lots of bad noise, and no time to play with the old blogaroo.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

There’s a new sheriff in town at Adventure CyclistNick Legan, once a top wrench on the racing circuit who went bad and signed on as tech editor for some Boulder-based cycling mag, and then for us — and frankly, the man is a slave driver, marching us around the Interbike floor like maggots at Parris Island (copy coordinator Dan Meyer, another addition, actually did five years in the Marines, but that’s another story).

As a result we have seen things — many, many of them — and more than a few are suited to the adventure-cycling crowd. Seems the industry has finally discovered what the Adventure Cycling Association folks have been all about for, oh, four decades now. Who knew?

Expect a review of the Moots Baxter (not from me, call the waaaaambulance). “Think mountain-bike capabilities in a mountain-cross build,” says the marketing copy, and it’s named for a dog. Plus it’s a Moots. This is all you need to know.

Also looking good are the Adventure Series bikes from Masi. We looked at but did not review the 2016 Giramondo, but it’s in the hopper for 2017. The Speciale Randonneur looks good, too.

Appearances can be deceiving: While there were times when the show floor seemed busy, overall I'd guess attendance is down, and I'm not the only professional pessimist out there.

Appearances can be deceiving: While there were times when the show floor seemed busy, overall I’d guess attendance is down, and I’m not the only professional pessimist out there.

For some reason the Bombtrack bikes didn’t grab me when I first saw them online, but they’re mighty sharp in MeatWorld, especially the Beyond.

Marin, which did such a fine job last year with the Four Corners Elite, is back for more this year with a wide range of adventure-capable machines, from that Four Corners to the insanely affordable Nicasio.

Also priced to move: Breezer’s Radar Pro. The colors are a bit loud for a subtle fashionista like me, but it’s hard to complain about the price.

The fine folks at Panaracer have plenty of adventurous tires (check out the Gravel King SK); Ortlieb has moved into bikepacking gear; and … and … and I’m sure there’s more to report, but right now I need some breakfast and then it’s off to the show for the final day of Interbike 2016.

• Thought of the Day: Is everyone who works at Rí Rá really Irish or are they putting us on? Seriously, it sounds like “The Commitments” in there. It’ll break me heart if it turns out they’re all from Jersey or Iowa and just takin’ the piss.

 

Interbike 2016: Arizona’s not here, man

September 18, 2016
Arizona cordially invites you to piss off.

Arizona cordially invites you to piss off.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (MDM) — Arizona wasn’t very welcoming when I arrived, as you can see. And I’m a reg’lar white guy and everything.

That Sheriff Joe gets meaner every day, seems like. Maybe if someone got a hammerlock on that racist assclown and brought the legal bills down to a manageable level the state wouldn’t have to sell Geico the naming rights to its roadside shitters.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

The drive from Duke City to Flag’ was uneventful. I caught a glimpse of a few garishly attired cyclists enjoying the Tour de Acoma before I left New Mexico behind, and once I rolled into range KNAU-FM began telling me every few minutes that if only I’d give them some money right now they wouldn’t have to annoy me later.

Sorry, fellas, but Herself and I already underwrite two NPR affiliates. Have you tried Geico?

Meanwhile, the grub at Beaver Street Brewery is still tasty, though the clientele seems even more grizzled than last year (unlike Your Humble Narrator, of course).

This may explain the background music, which could’ve been pulled straight from my iPod: “Cross-eyed Mary,” Jethro Tull; “Rock and Roll,” Led Zeppelin; and “Night Moves,” from Bob Seger, who inspired this morning’s headline. What my man Charles Pelkey derides as “old man’s music.”

I should’ve washed that geezer playlist down with a little Olympia and maybe some blotter acid. But as I no longer partake of the adult beverages, I sampled a Sioux City Prickly Pear instead, and I can recommend it as a tasty alternative to the usual popskull.

• Question of the Day: Are those signs with the glyph of a bicycle and the legend “USE SHOULDER ONLY” really necessary along Interstate 40? Any of you feel the urge to throw a leg over the old two-wheeler and go mano-a-mano with a speeding Peterbilt in the traffic lane? Maybe we could ax that particular educational initiative and spend the savings on public restrooms and/or radio.