Archive for the ‘Just mumbling along’ Category

iBike 2012: Tools, not toys

September 26, 2012
2013 Bianchi Volpe

The venerable Bianchi Volpe gets another makeover for 2013, including a nifty powder-blue hue and retro decals.

BIBLEBURG, Colo. (MDM) — The times, how they do change.

Once upon a time my bicycle sprang from sound racing stock — first steel, then aluminum and finally carbon fiber and/or titanium — and the gearing was as manly as the showers at Paris-Roubaix. 52/42 and 12-21 constituted the standard until I moved to Santa Fe, where I was informed that 53/39 and 12-23 were better suited to the hillier terrain.

The fabled straight block came out for pan-flat time trials, of course, and for truly insane climbs one kept a cogset with a 25 or even a 27 handy.

Tires, naturally, were 700×25 — sewups for racing, clinchers for training — though I kept a pair of 28s around for one race that involved a half-dozen miles of dirt-road climbing, and for no good reason occasionally used 19s in a race against the clock.

But this was long ago, and that man is no longer with us.

Today if the bike is not steel it’s probably not mine. And the gearing — good Lord, the gearing! — has devolved to 46/34 and 12-28 on some machines. Two sport triple-ring cranks and mountain-bike rear derailleurs.

Tires likewise have ballooned. 700×28 is now a minimum rather than a maximum, and the max has gone all the way to 700×45, though the sweet spot lies somewhere between 32 and 38.

And the coup de grace? Racks and fenders. Got ’em on three bikes. Oh, the humanity.

There were lots of utilitarian machines like mine at this year’s Interbike show, from the likes of Co-Motion, Bruce Gordon, Yuba, Pashley, Velo-Orange, Bianchi, Opus, Volagi and others. And more companies are tooling up to hang useful bits on them, such as racks and fenders, panniers and trunks, bells and whistles.

What’s behind all this? Beats me. Maybe folks are sick of watching unrepentant dopers perform impossible feats on otherworldly machinery. Perhaps someone figured out that the Adventure Cycling Association has 45,000 members. And don’t forget Peak Oil — it might be nice to have something to ride to work when the last well starts farting dust.

All I know is, if this is a trend instead of a blip, I like it. A guy gets tired of staring up at lug nuts while inhaling a snootful of fragrant particulates.

Free at last

August 27, 2012

When a guy hasn’t had an actual job for 21 years, a long stretch of actual work comes as something of a shock to the system. I had a number of perfectly good reasons for quitting that last job, and “actual work” topped the podium.

Still, a man must earn, and thus I spent the last 11 days on the clock, and ain’t I glad that’s over. Now I can get back to viewing with alarm, peeing on various wingtips and riding the damn’ bike.

Today I played catch-up on the chores that had gone begging while I was locked to the money teat. I bought a metric shit-ton of groceries (including ice cream); treated myself to a new pair of running shoes from Colorado Running Company; went for a short jog; and got my old eyeglasses repaired while contemplating some new cheaters (I’m feeling a bit like Mister Magoo after an extended bout of pixel-pushing).

Tomorrow I’ll get back to business around here. I understand the Republicans are playing One-Handed Spit-In-the-Carpet in Florida. Won’t that be fun?



July 14, 2012

Oy. Long day on the job for a variety of reasons, and no, don’t ask.

Nice to see Bradley Wiggins try to lead out Edvald Boassen Hagen for the stage win, but I’m still having trouble warming up to ‘Is Lordship for some reason.

Maybe it’s racial memory. He is English, after all. But then I always liked the Beatles, Stones, Python, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, etc.

Maybe it’s his manner with the sporting press. Pro athletes often forget that if they didn’t get any media coverage many of them would be wearing paper hats and throwing packets of spuds at strangers through a drive-up window, or standing up to their hips in something nasty with only a shovel for company.

Nah. It’s the sideburns. That shit has to go. Wiggo’ makes Bob Roll look like James Bond, f’fucksake.

Uncurb your enthusiasm

April 7, 2012
The White Tornado

The White Tornado, a 1983 4WD Toyota long-bed pickup that I bought in 1998 and finally sold yesterday.

For the first time in nearly 35 years I am without a pickup truck.

Yesterday I sold the White Tornado, my 1983 Toyota 4WD long-bed pickup, to the auto shop that kept it and our other rice-grinders rolling long past their sell-by dates. The owner’s grandson needed something that was easier on the wallet than the giant pile of Detroit iron he’s been driving, and since Whitey needed work it seemed appropriate to let a family of mechanics adopt the auld fella.

Whitey was the sole survivor of a once-mighty Nipponese fleet, which not that long ago included another ’83 (a 2WD version with nearly 300,000 miles), a troublesome ’78 Toyota Chinook pop-top camper (dubbed the Pee-wee because it looked like something Pee-wee Herman might use to lure unwary children from a playground); and a 1998 Tacoma that was the last brand-new, showroom-floor vehicle we will ever buy.

The fleet

The fleet, docked at Weirdcliffe. Not pictured: The Pee-wee.

And yes, I had them all at the same time.

One by one they all went west on me. The Tacoma we traded for my Forester. The Pee-wee we sold to a guy whose son needed a camper for fishing trips. And the 2WD ’83 went to the same folks who bought Whitey — they fixed it up for a young construction type who needed a work truck, and I saw it around town now and then for a couple years afterward.

I’ve had a truck since I still had hair, and it feels weird to look out the window and not see one up against the curb. But I got used to not having hair, and I suppose I’ll get used to not having a truck.

Maybe I can saw the ass-end off the Forester and drop a flatbed on the sumbitch.

Give ’er a hand

January 5, 2012
Garden of the Gods

Pikes Peak peeks out from behind the Garden of the Gods.

One nice thing about quitting a pain-in-the-ass job and not being pissed off all the time is that I find myself noticing the little things again, now that the red haze of homicide unrealized no longer clouds my vision.

Case in point. Having shot a Velo-sized hole in my wallet I’ve spent a couple of days test-driving grocery stores that are not Whole Foods to gauge the extent, quality and price of their organic offerings. Yesterday it was a Safeway, today a King Soopers. Neither was particularly impressive, barring a real steal on Greek yogurt at the King Soopers.

As I walked into the Safeway some pretty young women of color were walking out, weaving around an elderly white man in a motorized wheelchair. One complained, “I’m hungry.” Another said, “So eat, nigga!” The poor old boy in the wheelchair did a slo-mo double-take, wearing the sort of expression you might expect from a pro-lifer who just saw an abortion-clinic janitor pitchforking defunct fetuses into a Dumpster.

Then today, going into the Soopers, I noticed another attractive young woman who seemed very pleased with herself, strutting along as though she were a model on a runway. I’m guessing her mood had something to do with the dusty, perfect imprint of a left hand on her right butt cheek. That’ll put some spring into the step of just about anybody, even a 57-year-old underemployed rumormonger of the cycling persuasion.

Speaking of which, between bouts of people-watching I squeezed in a nice 90-minute ride today. Goddamn shiftless disloyal Fenian bastards. Can’t hold onto a part-time job for more than 22 years and yet they have the cheek to insult the working man with bouts of casual cycling during business hours.

Slow news day

October 23, 2011
Turkish bags some rays

Turkish has almost come to terms with the New World Order, which requires him to wear a leash outdoors. Almost.

Seems like it’s either feast or famine in the ol’ VeloBarrel. Last week it was nothing but heartache; today, it’s been mostly nothing. I wrote up the men’s World Cup in Tabor (having overslept and missed the women’s race), posted some results and an Andrew Hood piece, and … well, that’s about it. Bor-ing.

There are things going on, of course. There are cyclo-crosses from coast to coast, the Pan American Games, the Japan Cycle Cup Road Race, but because we are short on staff, free-lancers and travel money my in-box remains appallingly free of dispatches from the front. Only Agence France Presse chimes in from time to time, and that lot mostly speaks Frog: Le Belge s’est imposé en solitaire lors de la seconde épreuve dimanche, à Tabor (République Tchèque). Parti très tôt, dès le quatrième tour, il a laissé derrière lui un groupe incapable de s’entendre pour refaire son retard.

C’mon — we saved you guys from the Nazis and you can’t give us a race report in U-nited States American? And who are you callin’ a retard? Merde. Where’s my big ol’ Google translation hammer?

Between bouts of doing not much Herself shaved my dome, Turkish got some quality time in the sun and I whipped up some tuna salad for lunch. And if my in-box doesn’t go ping! real soon I’m gonna grab a bike and enjoy what looks to be one of our last few really nice days before a winter storm blows in.

Sayonara, September

September 30, 2011
Fall leaves

A bit of color in the Old North End.

Judas Priest. How did September slip away so fast? Was it that week in Vegas? Confusion caused by allergy meds? Could it have been downsized along with everything else?

Whatever. Tomorrow it will be October, and I’m betting we get our first snow before Halloween. The furnace just clicked on at midday and the thermostat is set at 67 degrees. Sheesh. Close the doors, shut the windows, batten down the hatches.

It sure is pretty out there, though. Fall will always be my favorite time of year, even though it means hunting up my comfy samue pants for around the house, and arm/knee warmers for outside of it.

It’s a dog’s life

August 26, 2011
Buddy after his bladder-stone surgery

Buddy after his bladder-stone surgery.

I signed on for a couple extra shifts in the VeloBarrel during the Vuelta and (Not) The Tour of Colorado, and also have been chiming in mornings at Charles Pelkey’s newest venture,, so I’ve been scurrying about like a roach on a griddle the past couple of days.

Being a professional slacker who hasn’t had a full-time job since the fall of 1991 it always comes as a shock to my system whenever I actually have to work anything close to a full week. How the hell did I do it all those years? How the hell does anyone do it?

Every aspect of the literary and artistic life suffers as a consequence. Grocery trips become hectic affairs instead of leisurely noshing expeditions, and mealtime the equivalent of filling the tank at a Conoco. The quality and quantity of training declines. The liquor tab takes on Pentagonesque dimensions.

But at least no one has cut me, and I’m not wearing a cone. There’s an upside to everything.


May 4, 2011
Pikes Peak in May

The big hill still packs a chill, no matter what the calendar says.

We have a bad case of the brain cramp going on around here today. I had to pick up Herself at the Bibleburg Interdimensional Airport at 10 p.m. last night, we didn’t hit the rack until about midnight, and neither of us slept for shit, thanks to seasonal allergies that have triggered massive tsunamis in our respective snotlockers. So this morning we both had jet lag and I didn’t even get to go anywhere.

I tried half-heartedly to pay attention to the news, which has become even more Pythonesque lately (“And now it’s time for the Medicare card in your wallet to explode.”). But I lost interest in bad imitations of good comedy and decided to ride the bike instead, shoot a little video of some of my favorite trails in Palmer Park.

Alas, that went sideways as well — the video, not the riding — and by the time I realized that my cinematography was a few Cecils short of a DeMille I’d run down the batteries in my Flip Video, so there was no take two without plugging the bugger into the iMac back at the ranch.

So I stuffed the Flip into a jersey pocket, bagged a few more trails sans video, then headed for home, where the beer is. Was. And I feel much better now, thanks. Tomorrow is another day.

Of Flanders and fences

April 3, 2011

No ride for Your Humble Narrator today. See Tour of Flanders. Damn’ fine race. I was able to watch the last 40km live via streaming video courtesy of Eurosport, with almost-English-language commentary from Sean Kelly, and it was a nail-biter right to the finish.

When I wasn’t posting words or pictures I was wrestling with our backyard fence, which is somewhat the worse for wear after one too many windy springs. A couple uprights have gone rotten underground and the bugger flaps like Glenn Beck’s blubbery lips when the wind is from the right quarter, and last night it was a howler. Beat the living snot out of downtown and kept us awake most of the night. It was so bad that a neighbor wondered whether a plane was plummeting to earth somewhere nearby.

Anyway, the fence is a wreck, I hate fence work, and the dude we usually hire to do things I hate has hurt his back and thus is unavailable to make my cushy life even easier. So today I braced the sonofabitch with a couple of 2x3s and then guy-wired it down, using some 14-gauge looped around the uprights and thence to tent pegs pounded into the turf. That ought to keep it in the neighborhood for as long as it takes for our guy to heal up.

Meanwhile, after record-breaking heat yesterday it’s presently snowing sideways from about six different directions at once, yet things remain on fire. Springtime in the Rockies.