Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Put on your sailin’ shoes

February 22, 2019

Everyone will start to cheer when you put on your sailin’ shoes.

Man, it seems I’m not the only person with a bad case of the Februaries.

Bicycle Retailer’s Steve Frothingham is at Frostbike in Minnesota, but it’s not a social call, and seems unlikely to break a streak of two weeks without exercise.

“S’what’s on the menu this evening?” I asked yesterday. “Partying with industry leaders?”

“Typing,” he replied.

Adventure Cyclist‘s Nick Legan, meanwhile, was riding that fabled Road to Nowhere in Colorado and looking forward to the Roll Massif, which will be conducted outdoors, with any luck at all in warmer weather.

Ooo, datsa baaaaaaad ol’ puddy tat.
| Photo by Hal Walter

“I was on the trainer myself,” he said. “Tried distracting myself from the misery with intervals and a movie. Worked in some respects, didn’t in others.”

Up Weirdcliffe way, Hal Walter was dealing with single-digit temps, wind, and writer’s block in what he called “the worst winter in recent memory.”

He was also keeping a weather eye out for unwelcome company. When I asked what made those tracks, he replied, “Something that could eat you.”

Me, I was making my own tracks. I put on my sailin’ shoes — along with fleece-lined tights, two Patagucci long-sleeved shirts, an old ShaverSport wind jacket, tuque, and gloves — and lumbered off into a strong southerly wind that bore nary a whiff of sun-splashed desert.

I hit some sort of weirdo thermocline just past the turnaround and set about unzipping this and unbuttoning that. But by the time I’d left the trail and hit the short paved stretch leading home I was freezing my huevos off again.

It wasn’t what I’d call fun, but it was exercise, and some days that’s enough. Still, if you must run, don’t forget to take your Little Feat with you.

Doctor, doctor, well, I feel so bad
This is the worst day I ever had
He said, Have you this misery a very long time?
Well, if you ill, I’ll lay it on the line
You’ve got to put on your sailin’ shoes
Put on your sailing shoes
Everyone will start to cheer
When you put on your sailin’ shoes

Fixin’ to take a WIPPin’

February 21, 2019

Looking west from El Rancho Pendejo. Somewhere over the horizon Flagstaff is taking another pounding.

Yahweh is supposed to have another go at us over the next couple of days, and then the weather is expected to return to something more in keeping with late February in the upper reaches of the Chihuahuan Desert, which is to say sunny and warmish.

Meanwhile, DeeCee is getting all hot and bothered over rumors that it will be Mueller Time almost any second now, no shit, really, this time we’re not kidding, it’s for reals, duck and cover, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

Can you imagine how many Old Wise Heads will explode if he hits us with the prosecutorial equivalent of “Heckuva job, Trumpie?” Or if the Justice League buries the report down at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant with a 24/7 guard of Terminators? Maybe has China express-mail the sucker to the far side of the moon?

“The public is welcome to inspect the report there,” says Justice Department media liaison Phuq Yu. “We are nothing if not transparent.”

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.

Degrees of difficulty

January 22, 2019

It wasn’t what I’d call warm on Saturday, but the Big Yellow Ball was out in a blue, blue sky, so I had that going for me, which was nice.

Hmph. After six consecutive days of healthful outdoor exercise I thought I’d award myself a day of rest yesterday.

Should’ve kept an eye on the weather wizards. ’Cause today, it’s snowing again. Bah, etc.

Happily, I wrapped and shipped the latest “Quick Spin” video to Adventure Cyclist on Sunday, so I won’t have to check the integrity of those Jamis fenders today. Instead, I can go for a short run in the snow, see if I can find a new place to fall down.

And it could be worse. It could not be snowing in January, and come June I would be bitching about being on fire.

Or I could be an unpaid federal employee standing in line near the Trump International Hotel in DeeCee, waiting for some free food.

Radha Muthiah, president of the Capital Area Food Bank, tells The New York Times that her organization has had to reassess its targets, which now include people “making upward of $60,000 a year.”

“What was more interesting than the number were the types of calls: individuals who had never had to request food,” she said of those contacting the food bank. “Many had donated, but had never expected to be on the receiving end.

“What this experience is showing them is that so many of us live paycheck to paycheck. Any time of emergency — whether a medical emergency or something else — how quickly one can become vulnerable.”

Some federales are hunting other work, whatever they can find — babysitting, driving for Uber, substitute teaching. This may or may not keep other Americans from landing those jobs.

Notes FDA employee David Arvelo: “Who’s going to hire me not knowing how long I’m going to stick around?”

One common thread running through all these stories involves infernal combustion: people who suddenly can’t afford gas, insurance, car payments, whatever. The humble bicycle looks awfully good by comparison. Unless, of course, it’s snowing.

Mirror, mirror

January 7, 2019

Mirror, mirror, on the bar; who’s the loony in that car?

I got back on the bike on Saturday for a short spin to blow the ol’ carbon out of the cylinders.

The roads were crusty and dusty, where they weren’t wet and/or icy, so I needed something with fenders (the Soma DC) plus winter tights and a truly ancient Pearl Izumi hi-viz jacket. Seriously, this Day-Glo duster must date to 1994 or thereabouts. It’s old enough to be living in our basement (if we had one) while we paid off its college loans. “B.A.” stands for “barista’s assistant?” Who knew?

There were lots of hi-viz jackets and tights traversing Tramway, so I guess everyone was as sick as I was of huddling indoors or shoveling snow. But boom, come Sunday, we were back in the icebox and I decided to go for a squishy run instead of a second ride.

This time we got rain, which was a nice change. Don’t gotta shovel no rain.

Speaking of shoveling, I see Wally O’Steele hopes to lie straight to our faces in prime time tomorrow, eliminating the middleman (the “fake news”).

I don’t believe that the networks’ news departments are obliged to broadcast fiction — that’s the purview of their entertainment divisions — so p’raps the usual filters will remain in place.

Or maybe Comedy Central could air this piece of performance art, with Garrett Morris on a split screen, riffing on an old “Weekend Update” bit from “Saturday Night Live.”

It’d be a two-fer — delivering news for the deaf from the dumb.

• Late update: The networks blew the call, from James Fallows.

Limping into the new year

December 31, 2018

Tonight’s the last night for holiday lights.

The finish line is just around the corner. If we can just stay on our feet — never a sure thing — we’ll make it to 2019.

It’s been a week since I took my little tumble on the trail, and in that time I’d neither run nor ridden, reasoning that my crumbling temple of the soul needed a little quiet renovation.

Besides, it was cold out there. Snowy, too, and windy, with ice in the shady spots and everything. One of yis up north must have sent your miserable climate down here for a change of scenery.

Thus the cycling was right out. I’d managed a couple short, limpy walks, favoring that dodgy left knee, but skipped the resistance training ’cause my right mitt looked like a couple bucks’ worth of ground round. With a good thick bandage and heavy gloves I could shovel snow, and that was fine. Lifting weight with an actual purpose, don’t you know.

FInally, today everything seemed more or less in order, and as it started to snow again I tottered out for a short run. It felt weird at first; if you’ve ever tweaked a knee you know the feeling, the reluctance to put any serious weight on it, your stride having strayed, your mojo gone missing.

But gradually I loosened up and settled back into something like a rhythm, and while I pussyfooted around the icy patches I was able to shake off a few flakes of rust. When I got back to the ranch I even treated myself to a little quality time with the dumbbells.

No, not those dumbbells. I’m talking weights here. I’m still hoping to see the other dumbbells in the dock here directly. It’s gotta be Mueller Time one of these days.

As for the rest of yis, I hope to see you slouching around El Rancho Pendejo come the new year. Keep your heads in the clouds and your feet on the trail, and we’ll all join up on the flip side for another lap around old Sol.

Rocking out

December 29, 2018

“Would you mind either cranking up the heat a smidge or fetching me a blanket? Thanks ever so much. Also, some delicious snacks would be nice.”

Now here’s a fella who knows what to do with a 9-degree morning. A couple medium-heavy breakfasts, a bit of grooming, and then a nice long snooze.

 

Aw, fog it

December 26, 2018

A quick shot out the front door.

The weather went abruptly and lightly sideways this morning.

We’ve had a bit of everything today, from light snow to rain to sleet to fog, while up north travelers are intercoursing the penguin on a nasty stretch of Interstate 25 at La Bajada. Getting up that hill in evil weather is trouble enough. For getting down, what you want is skis. Or perhaps to stay home.

The various wounds are healing nicely, thanks for asking. Since the weather seems ill-suited to vigorous outdoor exercise I believe I shall award myself a rest day.

If the knee requires ice I have some in the refrigerator. No need to go out looking for it.

The last time I did that I wound up with my left communications digit in a bright blue splint.

Speaking of falls, Austin Murphy (you may remember his writings about HWSNBN Back in the Day®) has gone from working for Sports Illustrated to driving delivery for Amazon. He serves up a good read about how that package gets from Jeff Bezos’ magic kingdom to your doorstep. And yes, like HWSNBN, occasionally these guys have to pee in a bottle. Just not the way you think.

Santa Protection Factor

December 23, 2018

Oh, the weather outside is … frightful?

I hope jolly ol’ St. Nick remembers to slather on the SPF 50 when he brings all my toys to the Duke City. Unless he wants his snoot to get redder than Rudolph’s.