Archive for the ‘Road trips’ Category

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.

 

Interbike 2016: An Ash Fork in the road

September 20, 2016

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.

 

Interbike 2016: Against the wind

September 18, 2016
Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Vato’s got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

That old Bob Seger tune isn’t on the playlist, but I’m on the road anyway. Just another Adventure Cyclist logging miles, and if it’s happening on four wheels, well, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Deadlines and commitments; what to leave in, what to leave out.

See you along the road.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em

July 12, 2016

 

Yes, I shot it through the windshield. No cyclists were harmed in the making of this image,

Yes, I shot it through the windshield. No cyclists were harmed in the making of this image,

“Do not scorn day trips. You can use them to avoid nervous collapse.” — Jim Harrison, “Going Places”

We had a rest day in Le Tour on Monday, and Tuesday’s stage looked like a snoozer, so I abruptly decided to get the hell out of the scorching Duke City for a short road trip, the idea being to scout out a post-Interbike tour.

Mister Boo requires a bit of oversight, and I don’t like to impose on the neighbors, who have other things to do besides baby-sit a geriatric dog, so I wanted to keep my excursion short and sweet. Salida, I thought. Good cycling town, serviceable eats, haven’t visited in a while, not too far away.

Naturally, as soon as I pulled the trigger on the hotel room, the Hayden Pass fire erupted.

I will never be smart.

Sand bagging: Drifting through the desert

February 23, 2016

As promised, here are a few more shots from my all-too-brief sojourn in the Lower Verde Basin. I always intend to shoot more, but once I get into the saddle a certain mindset takes over and the camera stays parked in its jersey pocket. Clicking any image will open the whole shebang in gallery mode.

Tell me, who are you?

February 22, 2016

mcdowell-sunset

I took the Tube back out of town

Back to the Rollin’ Pin

I felt a little like a dying clown

With a streak of Rin Tin Tin.

—”Who Are You,” by The Who

When the machinery starts acting up, what’s the first thing the IT guy asks?

“Have you tried turning it off and then turning it back on?”

Well, I turned it off last Monday, but I didn’t get around to turning it back on until today. Sorry ’bout that.

I hadn’t had a good old road trip in far too long, so I took one. And I mean a road trip for me, one in which it was not necessary for me to be me for a few days. One must shut the fuck up from time to time, give the old pie-hole (and everyone else’s ears) a little R&R. Turn it off.

mcdowell-camp-dog

Camp Dog.

I suppose I could have taken a napping tour of Soho doorways, but that sounded a bit extreme, so instead I pissed off to McDowell Mountain Regional Park outside Fountain Hills, Ariz.

The park is a bolt hole I used for years, but hadn’t visited in a while, and it was a pleasure to return. The weather was stellar, neither too hot nor too cold; there were some brand-new trails to explore; and while plugging into the Innertubes is possible out there among the cacti and coyotes, it remains something of a pain in the arse, so I didn’t bother trying. I did check mail once, using my phone, to see if anything demanded my immediate attention. It didn’t.

Nobody gave me an Airstream Interstate Grand Tour EXT for solstice, so I used my old North Face Expedition-25 tent and a new REI sunshade for shelter. And as regards cooking mostly I did not, as like the daily parade of conspiracies on the Innertubes it had become something of a nuisance.

Instead, I noshed on bits of this and that — baby greens with avocado and tomato slathered in olive oil, Creminelli salami and Barber’s cheddar on crackers, fruit, yogurt, granola, LaraBars, rice and whatnot.

I did, however, brew the obligatory pot of powerful black coffee first thing every morning. After a cuppa and a LaraBar I went for a run, and after that it was another cuppa, some yogurt and granola, and a ride on one of the two bikes I’d fetched along. Lunch was either out of the cooler or at DJ’s Bagel Cafe, which to my surprise was still open — and still good — after all these years. For dinner it was back to the cooler.

Come evening I enjoyed the sunset, the moonrise and a brief coyote concert, then turned in, listened to a little Mozart from the Academy of St. Martin In the Fields, read a bit of poetry, and nodded off. Next day I did it all again, but on different trails.

It wasn’t all fun and games. There were notes and pictures taken, and video shot. But I did not publish, until today. And as you see, I have not perished.

marin-bags-granite

The Marin Four Corners Elite, tricked out with Revelate bikepacking bags.