Archive for the ‘Cyclo-cross’ Category

Doppelgrinder

November 15, 2018

Me and my shadow.

The little cold snap we’ve been enjoying finally broke, so yesterday I toddled out for a trail run wearing a not-inconsiderable amount of winter wear, and actually felt slightly overdressed — until I turned around into the wind.

Today the wind was still very much with us, but so was the sun, and when the temps finally slouched into the low 50s I went out to greet it.

Holy hell, was that wind brisk. Once again I questioned my garment selection. Long-sleeve polypro henley, long-sleeve jersey, knickers, and full-finger gloves, sure, but no tuque? No tights? No brains? Eeeeeyyugghhh!

Anyway, long story short, I warmed up pretty quickly because I was riding one of Mr. Steelman’s 20-year-old Eurocrosses on the trails around the Elena Gallegos Open Space and definitely not breaking any speed records, even though I never actually jumped off and ran.

There were a few breaks for conversation. My fellow trail users were a chatty lot, and not a grump in the bunch. Hikers, bikers, joggers, doggers, all and sundry were grinning like jackasses eating yellowjackets under the blue, blue skies. Even one mountain biker who’d blown his rear derailleur took it in stride, coasting back to his starting point.

Albuquerque has its problems, to be sure. But November weather mostly ain’t one of ’em.

Stem education

October 28, 2018

Autumn means cyclocross, even if you’re not wearing a number.

We’re back to what passes for normal, weather-wise, in the Duke City, which is to say sunny and warmish.

The uniform of the day is knickers, short sleeves and arm warmers, with long-fingered gloves held in reserve.

On Friday I’d planned a quick outing on Steelman Eurocross No. 1, a mango-colored Reynolds 853 bike. But as I mounted up the front tire felt squishy, and sure enough, there was a slow leak in the sonofabitch.

As I get older, the stems get shorter and steeper.

Happily, we do not lack for two-wheelers here at El Rancho Pendejo, and so I snagged Eurocross No. 2, a red jobber with a couple of shaped True Temper tubes in the frameset and Brent Steelman only knows what else.

It was part of a batch of framesets Brent made for the Clif Bar team back in … 1999? He thought of me when ordering the tubes for no good reason I can think of, other than that he was and is a righteous dude, dudes. And thus I always have a solid backup in the pit, though it’s rare to have to pit before the gun goes off, or even if it never does, since I haven’t raced since 2004.

Somehow this bike wound up with a 110mm, 6° Ritchey WCS stem, which is ridiculous for an inflexible elder of the geezer persuasion, and after a steady diet of shorter, taller stems (and frankly, fatter tires) I often found myself in my own way while horsing it around and about on the local singletrack.

Happily, I didn’t have an audience, it being a workday for the plebes. I like to be laughed at for a narrow selection of reasons, one of which is not the way I ride a ’cross bike on trails.

So, yeah. Yesterday morning I found a 100mm, 25° Giant stem in the parts bin and slapped that on. Boy, did that ever make a difference. It felt like a new bike, if I overlooked the crust of filth, the death-rattle of the beat-to-shit Shimano 600 rear derailleur, and a number of other oversights in dire need of correction.

Afterward, I patched the leak in Steelman No. 1’s front tube, because as any ’crosser will confirm, a pit with no spare bike is the pits.

Reynolds and rabbitbrush

October 22, 2018

Blue and yeller, ’crossin’ feller. The mango Steelman Eurocross is practically camo’ in the rabbitbrush until you lamp those electric-blue Mavic Open Pros.

Interbike 2018: The dream is gone

September 20, 2018

El Grande, being (ahem) gravitationally challenged, rarely participates in the Sport of Kings. Organizers grew tired of the frantic phone calls from the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado.

The inaugural RenoCross took place last night. Alas, neither I, the Mud Stud nor the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter was in attendance.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of coverage out there at 8 a.m. New Mexico time, though cxmagazine.com has a brief report, results and pix.

My colleague Steve Frothingham had contemplated doing the Wheelers & Dealers race, but his new duties may have kept him in the Show Daily office. The Fake News never sleeps, and it rarely pins on a number.

El Grande did, from time to time. But it usually got swallowed by a roll, crease or fold, and even if he finished none of the judges could see it and thus he never got his just deserts.

Sometimes he didn’t even get beered.

• Next: Relax.

Fubo or FUBAR? You make the call!

February 4, 2018

Videocy.

It’s Super Sunday — unless you’re a cyclocross fan, in which case it’s just another day on the trackless video beach.

I don’t follow racing anymore, but a filthy cyclocross world championships is always worth a look-see, if you can get one.

Alas, it seems the only viewing option for those of us confined to the Land of the Free is a thing called Fubo TV. It got a good review last year from Boy Genius Report. You can sign up for a seven-day free trial, then pay $19.99 for your first month.

But it’s $44.99 per month thereafter and the 80-plus channels seem heavy on the usual ball-and-stick shtick.

One of the reasons we croaked the cable back in the day was that there were a gazillion channels, especially sports channels, that we never watched but got billed for just the same. So, uh, no thank you.

Best of luck to Fubo, especially if it continues to cover cycling, but I’d be happy with a pay-per-view option for the worlds. And I expect a few other cycling fans might like that, too.

All ’crossed up

December 10, 2017

I managed to take the flowers in a one-rider field. Huzzah, etc.

There’s nothing like a little cyclocross to take your mind off pretty much everything save the few meters of the Earth directly in front of your wheel.

It was chilly in the Duke City this week, and as I revisit the old training log I see that I ran twice and ’crossed twice. Didn’t get an actual road ride in until yesterday, when the temps finally inched back up into the 50s.

Running is a useful alternative to riding the road in Michelin Man kit (or worse, riding the trainer). And cyclocross is a pleasant diversion from all of these things. So I pulled the bottle cages off my favorite Steelman Eurocross, dug up the Sidis with the Time ATAC cleats, and got after it.

The trails that loop around the Sandia Foothills Open Space’s Menaul trailhead parking lot make a pretty good circuit, albeit one without much in the way of flats for motoring, which would be nice for recovery (since I have trouble motoring in my dotage).

The first course I laid out had one too-long uphill gravel run, so I made some revisions for the second outing, awarding myself two shorter runs, one at each end of the circuit. There was too much twisty singletrack, a whole shitload of cactus in various flavors, and some deep gravel that made a couple corners sketchy with 32mm clinchers at 35 psi. And it took me a few go-rounds to remember all my mad skillz from days gone by.

But I never fell over, and I even managed to amuse a couple dog-walkers who apparently had never seen an elderly fella running around wearing a perfectly rideable bike.

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.

A good example of a bad example

July 30, 2017

A break in the traffic.

Ride Your Own Damn’ Bike Week has been extended, by popular demand.

After the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff came the Bianchi Zurigo, the Soma Double Cross, and today, one of my two Steelman Eurocrosses.

This bike is isn’t totally old-school: It has eight-speed Shimano STI, not bar-end shifters; Michelin Jet clinchers, not tubies; and a RockShox seatpost.

There’s life in the old gal yet.

But it has most of the other hallmarks: steel frame and fork; 46/36 chainrings and 11-28 cassette; Ultegra derailleurs; Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantilever brakes with SwissStop VikingPro pads (and levers reversed so the left brakes the rear wheel); Dura-Ace hubs and Mavic Open 4 CD hoops; Selle Italia Flite saddle; and Time ATAC pedals.

The whole shebang goes like 22.5 pounds, which is what makes that 36×28 low end suitable on the steep bits for Your Humble Narrator, who given our national spasticity vis-à-vis health care would rather not be popping a gasket anytime soon.

Anyway, I hadn’t ridden it in the better part of quite some time, and I ordinarily shun the trails on weekends, but today I took a chance and had a wonderful time. There were lots of folks out, but I encountered zero attitude problems. Nothing but smiles and friendly greetings, with lots of the old Alphonse-and-Gaston action. (“After you, Alphonse.” “No, you first, my dear Gaston.”)

There was one down side. I was descending a narrow bit and saw a father and son on mountain bikes climbing toward me, so I pulled over to give them room to maneuver. As they approached Pop explained to Junior that a descending rider should always yield trail to one ascending, adding that I “was setting a good example.”

Thus, with a single phrase, my career was ruined. I wonder if it’s too late to get my old rim-rat job back on The New Mexican copy desk.

At ‘cross purposes

May 5, 2017

When it comes to taking a tonic for what ails you, there’s nothing like a little sand in your craw.

After yesterday’s health-care debacle I prescribed myself an antidepressant: 90 minutes on a Steelman Eurocross cyclocross bike, doing laps around the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

The old beastie still performs (I’m talking about the bike here). Reynolds 853 tubes; Shimano Ultegra eight-speed STI; 175mm RaceFace 48/36 cranks and a 12-28 cassette; Mavic Open Pro SUP rims with Dura-Ace hubs, DT spokes and Michelin Jet tires; Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis, augmented by Froggleg top-mounted levers; Cinelli Eubios bar with Off the Front tape; Ritchey stem; Time ATAC pedals; and a RockShox boingy post wearing the usual Selle Italia Flite saddle.

Riding a racing bike after a steady diet of touring machines felt seriously weird at first, but it started getting good to me after a half hour or so. Nearly slid out in one sandy hairpin — that rear Jet is starting to look like a slick — but happily, I did not require medical attention, as cyclocross and crashing are both pre-existing conditions.

Stars ‘n’ stripes forever

January 8, 2017
Your Humble Narrator, enjoying a brisk workout on his private cyclo-cross course back in the day when he could still squeeze into a skinsuit without a tire iron and some lubricant.

Your Humble Narrator, enjoying a brisk workout on his private cyclo-cross course back in the day when he could still squeeze into a skinsuit without a tire iron and some lubricant.

I haven’t watched a bike race since the 2016 Tour de France, but today I may just turn my gaze eastward to the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Hartford, Conn.

What can I tell you? It’s an addiction, like whiskey or chocolate. Shucks, I may even break out one of my own cyclocross bikes today and show these Burqueños how the sport of kings is done, har har har.

CyclingTips is carrying streaming video, and you can catch all the action there.