Archive for the ‘Cyclo-cross’ Category

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.

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?

‘Cross purposes

January 30, 2015
Miss Mia Sopaipilla inspects the weather outside and pronounces it frightful.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla inspects the weather outside and pronounces it frightful.

Looking a little cyclo-crossy out there today. Ordinarily I’d be right out in it, but Friday is the day I always braid my nose hair.

You should have heard the wind that blew this stuff in last night. It sounded like Sarah Palin farting through a bugle in a tin washtub full of nitroglycerin and live ferrets. I had to use some cardboard wedges to stop the bedroom kiva screen from rattling like a GoPro HERO3 Black Edition Velcro’d to a chainstay on a Duke City trail.

Speaking of cyclo-cross, the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships are coming up this weekend in the Czech Republic.

The video studio at the Rancho Pendejo Center for the Deforming Arts.

The video studio at the Rancho Pendejo Center for the Deforming Arts.

Those of you who have cable TV may be able to watch the race via Universal Sports Network, but the rest of us will have to dance around our computers in bear skins and feathers, shaking rattles and sprinkling chicken blood around and about as we try to make various pirate feeds and VPN dodges work as well as watching the fucker through opera glasses from a Land O’ the Free rooftop.

In the meantime, I’ve filed my print review of the Novara Mazama with the fine folks at Adventure Cyclist and am hard at work pushing pixels around for the video review, a chore that has been complicated more than somewhat by the weather.

Oh, well. I have my nose hair to keep me warm.

• Preview of coming attractions: I have the new Soma Saga Disc touring bike in-house and ready for review. It’s a beaut’, isn’t it?

The latest iteration of the Soma Saga touring bike, this one with disc brakes and a dynamo headlight.

The latest iteration of the Soma Saga touring bike, this one with disc brakes and a dynamo headlight.

Double Crossed

December 28, 2014
Bigger balls or better brakes? Well, I can buy the brakes. ...

Bigger balls or better brakes? Well, I can buy the brakes. …

One of my favorite things in the whole world is the expression on the face of some dude on a double-boinger when he sees a 60-year-old man on a steel cyclo-cross bike preparing to descend the snowy stretch of north-facing single-track he just struggled up.

“Careful, man, it’s slippery back there,” the latest goggle-eyed disbeliever puffed.

“Thanks, I appreciate it,” I replied, and carried on.

Boingy Boy was right, and I took it easy, in part because my old Shimano BR-R550s were working about as well as the 113th Congress (and squealing even more loudly), and in part because the slippery descent was lousy with hikers (another look I enjoy is the one on a hiker’s face when you yield trail to him/her, apparently a rare occurrence in these parts).

Mostly I took it easy because I’ve never descended worth a damn, on road or off it. But I like climbing, even on a cold, snowy day, and as we know, what goes up must come down. So I pretend I know what I’m doing … and pray that the double-boingers don’t turn around to follow me.

 

On the sunny side of the … alley

May 14, 2014
The Bianchi Zurigo Disc, coming soon to a Pikes Peak Greenway Trail near you.

The Bianchi Zurigo Disc, coming soon to a Pikes Peak Greenway Trail near you.

Colorado being Colorado, we’re cycling through a wide range of weather possibilities this week — cloudy, sunny, chance of thunderstorms, plague of toads; you get the idea.

Speaking of cycling, there’s a new bike in the garage. It’s a Bianchi Zurigo Disc, and it’s slotted in right behind the Salsa Vaya for review in Adventure Cyclist.

This is not your granddaddy’s touring bike. In fact, if you were to mistake it for a cyclo-cross bike, you’d be forgiven, in part because it’s named in honor of the 1967 ‘cross worlds in Zurich (won by Renato Longo of Italy) and in part because, well … because it’s a bloody cyclo-cross bike.

The $1,799 Zurigo has an aluminum frame and carbon fork, knobby Kenda Kwicker 700×32 tires, and a SRAM Apex 10-speed drivetrain (48/34 up front, 11-32 in back). But it also has eyelets for mounting fenders and a rear rack, so a quick-and-dirty, lightly loaded tour is not out of the question.

I hope to get one of those in here directly, if weather and work permit. We have something of a full plate here in Dog Country from May through July, and a little road trip would do wonders to flush out the headgear.

A bad day at work

February 1, 2014
I was my usual awesome self on a short ride in the snow this afternoon.

I was my usual awesome self on a short ride in the snow this afternoon.

Damn. It must be going around. Katie Compton just had one of those days at work, too.

What sucks about hers is that so many people were watching. When we lesser lights have things go pear-shaped, the audience is a good deal smaller.

I’ve never been really good at sport, so my defeats came early and often, and continue to this day, when my memory of how I used to suck a little less kicks my in-the-moment ass. It must be mind-boggling to be absolutely top shelf and suddenly find yourself rattling around in the bargain bin.

Ah, well. Homegirl has two World Cups for consolation. But she and we would’ve loved a real battle for that rainbow jersey Marianne Vos clutches so fiercely.

After watching today’s races and doing a spot of work I went out for an hour of riding the mountain bike in the snow. Also being asthmatic, I hit the inhaler before I hit the trail. And I was mighty glad that (a) there were no Marianne Voses around, and (2) hardly anybody was watching.

Roll on buddy

January 31, 2014
The back deck this evening around dark-thirty.

The back deck this evening around dark-thirty.

Jeebus. One of those days, to be sure.

I got up this morning, went straight to work, and with time outs to prepare two meals I’ve pretty much been at it ever since. If I’m so busy, how come I ain’t rich?

We got a nice little snowfall today. I moved some of it around this morning and should’ve moved some more this afternoon. What the hell, it will still be there tomorrow, and it will have company. Good for the lawn, what there is of it, and good for the trees. Good for me, too, as we have no gym membership and pushing the mouse around hardly qualifies as strength conditioning.

Speaking of wintertime activities, remember: Cyclo-cross worlds kick off tomorrow with the junior men and elite women. If you’re so inclined (and so equipped), you can stream the action at Universal Sports. Other possibilities include the various feeds at Cyclingfans.com and the UCI. Geo-restricted options may be workable using Hola — I downloaded a Firefox extension for same to the old MacBook and it seems to pull in the UCI feed just fine.

And don’t let me catch any of yis rooting for Marianne Vos. Lovely person, tremendous athlete, stout competitor, and to hell with all that. It’s time to be a shameless homer, goddamnit. Katie Compton über alles!

The mark of Z … denek?

January 30, 2014

My idea of a really good time at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships would not involve having Zdenek Stybar, tanned, rested and ready, lining up next to me.

If I’m racing, that is. If I’m watching, I’m all for it.

“I’m in good condition,” Stybar said via a press release from his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team. “I came from important training sessions in Mallorca and I’m ready to compete. I’m really looking forward to the race.”

The two-time champ is a road toad these days, but Stybar has turned up at a couple ’crosses this year, and between him and the youngster Lars van der Haar (Rabobank) they do keep the old guys huffin’ and puffin’.

My man Dan Seaton has a preview of this weekend’s big doin’s in Hoogerheide over to the VeloPlace. Expect “heavy” conditions, which is Belgian for “lovely day.” I wouldn’t bet the ranch against Sven Nys in the men’s race, and I’m rooting for homegirl Katie Compton in the women’s. Fuck a bunch of journalistic objectivity anyway.

If you have Universal Sports as part of your cable package, you can catch the races live online — juniors, women, under-23s and men. Otherwise you’ll have to fly the Jolly Roger like me, arrr.