Archive for the ‘Road trips’ Category

White-line fever

February 20, 2019

Base camp at the overflow area in McDowell Mountain Regional Park, circa 2004.

It’s been a chilly, damp winter in Albuquerque, which isn’t saying much.

Still, it grates after a while, and never more so than during February, a month that is simultaneously too short and too long.

Herself has been to Costa Rica, the neighbors just fled to Mexico, and some other friends beat feet all the way to France.

And yet here I sit (no, this is not a poem, and it is specifically not that poem), rattling the bars on my window of opportunity and losing arguments with the voices in my head.

I’ve written often and at length about my irrational hatred for February, and I was getting set to do it again when I realized, “Hey, I’ve written often and at length about my irrational hatred for February. Why don’t I turn it into a podcast?”

Which I did. This is it. You’re welcome. Now hand me the snow shovel on your way out, would you? I want to smack myself in the head with it.

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

• Editorial notes: The “Mad Dog Unleashed” column headlined “On the Road Again: Frown Lines Search for a Few Tan Lines,” which is my onion at the bottom of this bitter pot of bitch stew, first appeared in the February 2004 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. My line about February having roots in the French “febrile” is, as you may already know, complete and utter bullshit. The Cactus Cup has returned to McDowell Mountain Regional Park since that 2004 column — this year’s edition is slated for March 8-10. And finally, did you know that Peter “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow, pedal steel player for The Flying Burrito Brothers, was also a visual-effects artist and stop-motion animator who worked on “Gumby?” Neither did I.

• 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, the pedal steel riff that closes the episode is from Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever,” as performed by The Flying Burrito Brothers on their eponymous 1971 album. The background music is “Trapped” from Zapsplat.com. And the rewind sound is courtesy of TasmanianPower at Freesound.org.

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.

I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon

January 3, 2019

No wonder the Chinese aren’t wasting their money on iPhones. They’ve been saving their pennies to debut a Pink Floyd space opera.

A bit of InSight

November 26, 2018

Well, now that we’ve made a mess of this place, I see we’re scoping out some new real estate.

Mars looks like a fixer-upper to me — “Kansas without the corn,” say mission scientists — so no doubt we’ll get a good price and a hell of an interest rate.

I don’t expect we’ll get the damage deposit back on this rental, though.

Hope the new neighbors are cool. Hey, look, the Welcome Wagon! Ack ack ack!

 

Tanks, but no tanks

May 25, 2018

“Goddamnit, just look at that traffic. I knew we should’ve taken that left turn at Albuquerque.”

More than 41.5 million of us will be traveling this weekend, most of us via suburban battlewagon, according to AAA.

What, you thought they were all taking the electric bus? Brother, have I got a bridge for you.

My man Hal Walter beat an estimated 760,000 of his fellow Coloradans to the exodus, motoring north on Thursday to help his mom celebrate her 80th birthday. But he should meet plenty of them on the way back to Weirdcliffe, especially if he’s late getting to Mile High and Bibleburg, the traditional pinch-points along Interstate 25.

“Plain and simple, people just aren’t worried about pump prices,” said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley, who predicted “a busy summer travel season.”

Hm. Maybe so. But Herself and I will be staying put, for this weekend, anyway. Traveling on holidays is like pub-crawling on St. Patrick’s Day — strictly for amateurs.

Thus we will be riding our bikey bikes, and pulling some weeds in the back 40, and listening to the little girls next door squeal as they run through the sprinklers surrounding the nice little bit of lawn that their parents just had installed for their summertime enjoyment.

What are all y’all up to?

California dreamin’

October 21, 2017

The mornings are a little cloudier and a little cooler in October.

Green chile stew for dinner. Oatmeal for breakfast.

Oh, yeah: It’s definitely fall in New Mexico.

Reheating the leftovers for Friday-night dinner.

My old newsie pal Merrill stopped by Thursday on the final leg of his move from Noo Yawk City to Santa Rosa. Thus the green chile stew. Merrill was in the mood for Mexican food, but the best beaneries are way over on the north side, and I figured he’d had enough driving for one day (central Oklahoma to the Duke City). So I got out in that kitchen and rattled those pots and pans.

There was some brief discussion of a bike ride. Merrill had a two-wheeler in his rig, but it was a road bike and his shoes were for the mountain variety, and while even I can handle a quick pedal swap, he had the itch to move a little faster and a little farther.

So off he went, bright and early on Friday, ticking off the 830 miles between here and his brother’s house in Simi Valley, California.

Incidentally, if anyone’s in the market for a new ride, Merrill is piloting an AWD Mazda CX-5, which seems to be getting solid reviews from all and sundry (including Merrill). The important thing: You can stuff a bike in the back without removing the front wheel.

Last Roundup in Sin City: Pipe down

September 24, 2017

A brief but fierce rainstorm welcomed me back to New Mexico.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (MDM) — I didn’t expect the bagpiper.

I was just settling into my room at the luxurious Hamster Inn & Suites in Kingperson on Friday afternoon when I heard a faint but unmistakable bleating.

“Who in billy hell would be listening to the bloody bagpipes at the luxurious Hamster Inn & Suites in Kingperson on a Friday afternoon?” I asked myself, being alone in the room save for the voices in my head, one of which may very well have been playing the pipes.

I put an ear to one wall, and then to the other, but couldn’t locate the source. And then I looked out the window.

There he was, three floors below, all kitted up and marching about, not so much listening to the pipes as playing them.

Turns out there was a firefighters’ gathering at the hotel, and also a Teamsters’ meeting, but I’m going to guess our man was affiliated with the former as I don’t believe the bagpipers have gotten themselves organized yet.

The final day of Le Shew Bigge proved uneventful, as it always does, and so after a hot lap to see if I’d overlooked anything I fled south and east to Kingperson, where I finally got a decent night’s sleep.

The rest of the trip was without incident, save for the inevitable construction slowdowns peppering I-40 and one exasperating 10-minute stop just outside Ash Fork caused by a mechanical (not mine). These were the only downsides of flying Air Subaru. All departures were as scheduled because they were unscheduled, the only person dragging me around was me, and my luggage didn’t wind up in Lesser Spaminacanistan when I reached my final destination.

“But Your Dogship!” you may expostulate. “The show! The show! Did you see anything that delighted you no end?”

Why yes, yes indeed, I did notice one thing that put a smile on my lips and a song in my heart. And here it is.

Th-th-th-that’s ALL, folks!

Last Roundup in Sin City: Kingperson

September 19, 2017

Welcome aboard, and thanks for flying Air Subaru.

KINGPERSON, Ariz. (MDM) — Yes, there it is, the obligatory shot of Ye Olde Hometowne in the rear-view mirror.

I beat it for Interbike yesterday, deciding to drive to Kingperson (“Gateway to Laughlin-Bullhead City”) instead of overnighting at Flagstaff as per standard operating procedure. Perhaps I collected an undiagnosed head injury when I stacked it into the cholla a while back.

No matter. Here I am.

As per usual I-40 was filled to overflowing with speeding asshats, aggro truckers and construction projects that made the trip through Arizona feel like motoring to the Colorado Belle Casino in Laughlin with your blue-haired granny at the wheel of her ’72 Mercury Marquis (75 mph, 45 mph, 75 mph, 45 mph).

Plenty of Florida license plates on the RVs, all headed away from the place (imagine that). And it seemed all the truckers were piloting Volvos while the civilians were herding Mercedes-Benzes. There was even one red Lotus with a vanity plate (MIAOU). I felt distinctly plebian in the rackety old Furster.

After seven hours behind the wheel I wasn’t interested in exploring Kingperson’s culinary jungle so I hoofed it down the street to a Five Guys Burgers & Fries. Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” was on the joint’s playlist, followed by “Walk of Life” By Dire Straits. Somebody had my number.

This morning I had to flee the breakfast nook at the luxurious Hamster Inn & Suites due to some horrific oinking coming from the teevee. When I returned for a second cuppa it was still going on and I was compelled to jam fingers into both ears, which made carrying the java problematical.

Nevertheless, I persisted.

Word from Rumor Control is that yesterday’s Outdoor Demo was sparsely attended and that the traditional rending of garments and gnashing of teeth awaits at the Luxor registration desk.

I think I’m gonna need more java. LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEEEEARRRRR YOUUUU!

Next: Sin City.

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.

Interbike 2016: Sucking it up

September 26, 2016
The Duke City vortex.

The Duke City vortex.

ALBUQUERQUE (MDM) — There must be something to all that vortex talk about Sedona. Something was definitely sucking there on Saturday. Mostly the drive in, down Oak Creek Canyon, on what should have been a beautiful fall afternoon.

I suppose if you have to be trapped in a traffic jam there are worse places for it. I had just left one of them, Las Vegas (“Gateway to Bankruptcy and Repossession”), and was glad of it, too.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Still, you expect all manner of inconvenience in Sin City. Sedona bills itself as “The Most Beautiful Place On Earth In So Many Ways,” but this linear parking lot was not one of them.

Right behind me were a couple little yos in a red Kia getting their smoke on, their rap music polluting the air nearly as badly as the conga line of cars. (Pro tip: A red Kia is not “gangsta.”)

Up front, a sign proclaimed “Speed Reduced Ahead.” Not possible, I thought, glancing at my speedometer, which was flirting with zero. This made driving through Taos on Memorial Weekend look like barreling down I-25 between Raton and Wagon Mound at 3 in the morning. At least nobody was hollering or honking.

I hadn’t been to Sedona in years, and I wouldn’t see much of the new-and-improved version this trip. After inching through town to my hotel, I slouched over to the inevitable Whole Paycheck, bought a mess of juice, salami, cheese and crackers, and slouched back. Thusly fortified, I reclined on a chaise lounge at poolside and set about enjoying the comparative peace and quiet of the bubbling hot tub after the clangor and din of the Luxor-Mandalay Bay Dante Alighieri Memorial Circles of Hell (Two Through Four Inclusive).

Rub-a-dub in the hot tub! Or right next to it, anyway (yes, I eventually got in).

Rub-a-dub in the hot tub! Or right next to it, anyway (yes, I eventually got in).

Just about then a couple wanders in and of course they are in a mood to chat, having just come from the annual Sedona Winefest. He was a copper miner from Globe-Miami, and she was a phys-ed teacher and coach … who just happened to have cycled with a trailer from Canada to Mexico and was a member of the Adventure Cycling Association.

(“Cue “It’s a Small World After All.” Everybody sing!)

Anyway, they told me that on any given weekend Sedona was pretty much as I had already seen it, and so bright and early the next morning I arose, loaded the Subaru and got the hell out of Dodge. Vortex. Whatever. I took the back door through the hamlet of Oak Creek, which allowed me to use fifth gear and my inside voice.

I made it back to Duke City and El Rancho Pendejo in time for a light dinner and a short walk with Herself and Mister Boo. Turkish and Mia bestirred themselves, albeit briefly. (“Oh, you were gone? We hadn’t noticed.”) We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and an early bedtime.

All this peace and quiet will be shattered by tonight’s debate and the subsequent spinning of same, of course. Some vortexes suck more than others.