Mission accomplished

August 31, 2021

The backyard maple is shedding leaves, and it’s not even Labor Day yet.

’Twas a glorious day to ride the bike in ’Burque.

Nobody told me I had waited too long, or left too soon, or was just plain doing it wrong. That I had left my wife and cat behind raised nary an eyebrow among the chattering classes.

This may be because El Rancho Pendejo remained firmly under the control of said wife and cat; their autocratic ways are not exactly breaking news. Herself has been in the driver’s seat since 1990, and Miss Mia Sopaipilla has been a key member of the ruling class for nearly half that time.

In my absence they do exactly as they please, which is pretty much what they do when I’m around, the United Nations and Geneva Conventions be damned.

The only uproar arose when I returned after 90 minutes of pooting around in the foothills on the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff.

“What’s to eat around here?” they yowled. The knives were out, along with the forks. Can a call for comment from The New York Times be far behind?

Tramway to the moon

August 27, 2021

I got mooned on Thursday’s ride.

The Sandia Peak Tramway actually goes the other way, to (wait for it) the peak of the Sandias.

I usually go that way myself, from Tramway Boulevard to Tramway Road and up toward the tram’s lower terminal, before veering off on Juniper Hill Road for a bit of up and down along the foothills.

By Thursday I was sick of the same-ol’, same-ol’, so I continued down Tramway and under Interstate 25 onto Roy, 4th, Guadalupe Trail, and eventually Alameda, then spun onto the Paseo del Bosque Trail.

But I got sick of that, too, and fast.

A massive allergy attack reminded me of the bad old days on Randolph AFB outside San Antone, where there were plenty of allergens to clog the pipes. Here, too, it seems, thanks to a hot, moist summer. I was firing snot rockets right and left, from both nostrils, and trying to breathe through my ears.

So instead of enjoying a nice flat spin along the bosque, dogged by whatever it was that had me by the snotlocker with a downhill pull, I hung a left on the Paseo del Norte Trail and struggled home via the North Diversion Channel Trail, Osuna-Bear Canyon, and like that there. Felt like hammered shit all the way, too.

You can always feel worse, though. Depend on it. Some days there isn’t enough Kleenex in the world.

Satisfaction

August 25, 2021

You gotta love a guy who’d give Mick Jagger a puck in the gob.

I don’t know much about drumming, but I know what I like. And Charlie Watts had plenty of it. He was a kind of anti-Mick who just plunked down behind his minimalist kit and did his maximalist thing, without a lick of showboating.

But at least once he came unplugged. From Rolling Stone:

For all of his low-key skill behind the kit, Watts seemed well aware that he was an irreplaceable element of the Stones’ sound. As one famous story from the band’s heyday goes, Jagger once phoned Watts’ hotel room in the midst of an all-night party, asking, “Where’s my drummer?” Watts reportedly got up, shaved, dressed in a suit, put on a tie and freshly shined shoes, descended the stairs, and punched Jagger in the face, saying, “Don’t ever call me your drummer again. You’re my fucking singer!”

Ho ho ho. When I read that I immediately wondered whether Roddy Doyle had poached the bit for his novella “The Commitments,” in which the full-of-himself singer Deco Cuffe tells an audience,  “I hope yis like me group.” Drummer Billy Mooney takes exception — “It’s not your fuckin’ group,” he says — and after another miscue in which Deco botches his bandmates’ introductions Billy flogs the frontman with a drumstick and subsequently quits The Commitments.

It’s left to Billy’s replacement, Mickah Wallace, to punch Deco’s lights out.

So fair play to Charlie Watts. Total pro. Stuck it out with the Rolling Stones for a half-century. And as far as I know, he only clocked Mick once.

It’s the little things

August 23, 2021

Running a tab (that little black gizmo between the derailleur and its hanger).

For a while I’ve been considering various ways to make my single-ring Voodoo Wazoo a little less gravity-challenged.

The bike has been through some changes over the years, but it eventually settled down as a flat-bar, single-ring, 7-speed trail bike with 700×42 rubber.

One thing it’s kept throughout its various incarnations is some old-school-cyclocross gearing. The ancient Shimano 600 crank can handle a 38T inner ring, and the Shimano 105 rear derailleur a 12-28T cassette. This yields a low end just short of 38 gear inches, which is a tall order in some neighborhoods.

So I wanted to change it on the cheap. But how? Especially during The Great Parts Drought.

The only derailleurs in the parts bin are Shimano road, so no joy there. And I’m fresh out of square-taper 110×74 BCD cranksets, or I could pull four teeth out of my chainring like a crazy dentist. But then I wouldn’t have a guard to replace the outer ring. O buggah.

Rivendell has this nice Clipper double that would be just the ticket. Reasonably priced, but still a few bucks past “on the cheap,” and anyway it’s out of stock. Plus I like the simplicity of my single-ring setup.

But while I was nosing around over there I stumbled across this $10 doodad, a SunRace SP570 extender link to put a bit more daylight between that old derailleur and its hanger.

Now, the wiseguys have been using items like this for a good long while to retrofit wide-range cassettes to older bikes. The boyos at Wolf Tooth make a couple of them, the RoadLink and and GoatLink. Being an indifferent mechanic, I went with Riv’s bargain SunRace model to mitigate my shame should I achieve failure, as is often the case. Bought a nice KMC X8 chain while I was there, and then noodled on over to Soma Fabrications for a 7-speed S-Ride cassette (11-34T).

The SunRace link included exactly zero instructions, but installation seemed as straightforward as it gets. Replace old cassette with new; remove old chain and derailleur; attach link to hanger and derailleur to link; and finally size, cut, thread, and close chain.

Well, hell. A bit of fine-tuning with the limit screws and I was off and rolling. I believe I could’ve gotten a 36T to work with this rig, but I’ll settle for 34. Sixty bucks equals 30 gear inches, more or less. If you’re looking for an easier ride on an old beater, the SunRace SP570 is a cheap ticket.

What a difference a day makes

August 19, 2021

“Say, does anyone else hear gunfire and sirens?”

If this shit had gone down 24 hours earlier Miss Mia Sopapilla and I would’ve been right in the thick of it.

Miss Mia had an appointment with the veterinarian, and the only thing between her clinic and this firefight is a Valvoline Instant Oil Change shop.

I imagine it’s slightly anaerobic to low-crawl through a fusillade with a cat carrier in one hand and a mask on your mug and only a few barrels of flammable liquids for cover.

Especially if someone has pooped in your pantalones. A fresh set of drawers is not the sort of instant change Valvoline provides.

Meanwhile, a word to the wise: Shooting the John Laws is exceptionally stupid, even for Duke City pistoleros. It only makes them mad. Plus it scares the cats.

Here’s hoping the injured officers recover quickly. I’m very much not looking forward to reading about what swell fellas their assailants were and how their grammies just can’t understand what got into them.

And the uniform of the day is. …

August 17, 2021

Some faces should be covered.

Face diapers for everyone!

I’ve been wearing mine for a while now. I like to think of it as a community-beautification project.

Still, Jesus H., etc. Afghanistan’s up the spout and all its daddies are ducking for cover, the West’s faucets are running dry, and Paris Hilton has a cooking show. Truly these are Dire Portents of the End Times.

Iron Man is dead*

August 15, 2021

Sometimes you do the boom, and sometimes the boom does you.

Another superhero adventure is coming to a messy ending.

The Military-Industrial Complex’s Cinematic Universe isn’t as orderly as Marvel’s, probably because the writers aren’t as good. Neither are the reviews. But hey, that’s show business for you.

It seemed like such a simple story, too. United States is attacked. United States fights back. Boffo box office!

But some nimrod thinking sequels, spinoffs, and merchandise resurrected an old character called “Mission Creep.” The story went sideways but we kept buying the tickets, taking the ride.

“Look, there’s Stan Lee!”

“No, that’s Robert McNamara.”

Remember the old joke about the driver heading up an off ramp by mistake? “What the hell, you’ve come this far. …”

Well, 20 years later, here we are, upside down in the ditch, watching Mission Creep, Captain REMF, and The Incredible Schmuck posturing for the cameras in an endgame that isn’t one. Avengers Dissemble!

* Of course he’s not dead. We’ll keep trotting him out as long as there’s a buck in it.

But seriously, folks. …

August 13, 2021

Windscreen trumps Mac screen.

Read the news or ride the bike?

I think you know the answer to that one.

In fact, the news has been so reliably vile lately that I’ve been logging 100-mile-plus weeks. That’s not a lot for a serious cyclist, but then being serious about anything other than humor is overrated for anyone who hopes to remain (or become) happy. Or so says Arthur C. Brooks at The Atlantic.

I’d like to ask him, “Are you serious?” But I’m afraid he might not laugh.

Meanwhile, the fourth and final round of The Visitation, scheduled for next week, has been canceled. One of Herself the Elder’s nieces decided that travel was too risky since Delta started grabbing everyone by the snotlocker with a downhill pull.

And who can blame her? Not me, Skeezix. When I stroll into a retail op to do a little bidness and see two-thirds of the clientele and half the staff wandering around with their faces hanging out, despite headlines like this, I’m inclined to think that The Dumbass, like The Bug, remains very much among us.

The Dumbass just might be worse than The Bug. We have weapons to fight The Bug, if people will simply agree to use them. But our traditional defenses against The Dumbass — like the news, which under new management has other priorities — no longer seem efficacious, if they ever were.

And once you’re all eat up with The Dumbass, you’re vulnerable to any number of opportunistic infections, from Rand Paul and Marjorie Taylor Greene twerking on “Dancing with the Stars” to “More [guns, coal mines, lifted diesel pick-’em-up trucks, insert your favorite idiocy here]!!!”

Jesus H., etc. By the time Bennu finally lands like an errant tee shot from God’s one-iron there won’t be anybody left to take it seriously, or even humorously. OK, so maybe one guy. He’ll be yelling “FAKE NEWS!” as the giant asteroid comes in hot like the fabled Million-Pound Shithammer.

Smoke gets in your eyes

August 8, 2021

Where’s the fabled New Mexico wind when you need it?

The smoke has finally paid us a visit here in the Sandia foothills.

The world sometimes feels like a very small place, and never more so than when a wildfire in Northern California can make your eyes sting in New Mexico.

“Very hazy, hot, and dry,” predicts the National Weather Service. The women must be happy to be first off this morning as the criteriums wrap up masters nats at Balloon Fiesta Park. It was already 63 in the Duke City foothills as racing kicked off down below, where the high temp should be challenging the century mark this afternoon.

A tip of the Mad Dog sombrero goes out to Colorado hardman Wayne Watson, who took the 70-74 road-race title yesterday with a solo break. Wayne was hard to catch Back in the Day® and it seems that this, unlike so many other things, remains unchanged.

Fire on the mountain, lightning in the air

August 7, 2021

Weather Underground ain’t got nothin’ on us.

Hot and windy for the old folks today as the USA Cycling Masters Road National Championships continue with more road racing northeast of Sandia Park.

The forecast is for a high of 88° with winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph. And the National Weather Service advises that we might expect some elevated haze since most of the western United States is on fire. Bother, wot?

Still, it beats Colorado, where Boulder meteorologist Russell Danielson advises that Saturday should be one of the worst days of the year in terms of fine particulates in the air.

Adds colleague Paul Schlatter: “We’re expecting very poor air quality throughout the day Saturday.” Cut me off an extra-crispy piece from the end there, Paul old scout. I like my air well done.

Speaking of very poor, after all the chin music about the fat stacks masters nats is expected to bring to our fair city, the homers aren’t covering the actual gold rush as far as I can tell. So you’ll need to keep an eye on social media, particularly Twitter, if you want to know who’s doing what to whom.

USA Cycling posts the bare minimum at the end of the day, basically writing off the results — I expect that other little event in Japan has been distracting the A team — and you can find the actual results at One2Go.

Meanwhile, our informal 15-mile foothills ride yesterday was a huge success. We saw a young Cooper’s hawk working the backyard doves before departure, and en route encountered quail, a bunny rabbit, and a six-pack of antlered bucks strolling through someone’s yard.

In the finale Herself won the driveway sprint when I stopped to check the mail. She’s sneaky that way.