Miles to go

August 15, 2016
Holy bike-ped bridge, Batman! This one crosses I-25 near Paseo del Norte.

Holy bike-ped bridge, Batman! This one crosses I-25 near Paseo del Norte.

The last month has been mildly productive, cycling-wise. I’m actually logging something like mileage.

(Cue the sound of frantic knocking on wood.)

The North Diversion Channel Trail as seen from the saddle of a Rivendell Sam Hillborne.

The North Diversion Channel Trail as seen from the saddle of a Rivendell Sam Hillborne.

Despite the liberal application of SPF-30 sunscreen I’ve developed one of the ugliest farmer tans in Christendom. And I’m thinking about adding another bike to the fleet just because I can.

More riding means less news-reading, although some bits are unescapable, as is the notion of having my next bike built by General Dynamics Land Systems. I’ll need a few more miles under the bibs to pedal an Abrams touring bike, though.

I’m not going anywhere — just spinning my wheels, as per usual, doing laps around Albuquerque. But if the weather holds it would be nice to do a bike overnight to Santa Fe, along the Turquoise Trail.

All I need to do is wire a rear-facing GoPro to a dynamo hub and then wi-fi the video to a bar-mounted iPhone. They say you’ll never see the one that gets you, but it sure would be nice to have some exciting footage for the funeral.

 

Starry, starry night

August 13, 2016
The skies of Weirdcliffe, as seen from the Walter ranch. Photo courtesy Hal Walter

The skies of Weirdcliffe, as seen from the Walter ranch. Photo courtesy Hal Walter

The old hometown came in for a little press yesterday as city folk tried to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower through all that neon.

The Dark Sky movement is serious business in Weirdcliffe, as well it should be. It’s one of the area’s natural resources, and thus a natural draw. Sayeth The Old Gray Lady, “Four out of five Americans live in places where they can no longer see the Milky Way.” This, frankly, is a national tragedy.

When we lived east of town, Herself and I spent an evening stretched out on the deck, marveling at the Perseids. It was like getting caught in a celestial hailstorm, or maybe standing on the bridge of the starship Enterprise, boldly going where plenty of folks can’t go no mo’.

Trump card

August 10, 2016

The 2016 pestilential election is turning into one of the less-than-hilarious Monty Python sketches.

“You’ve got a nice representative democracy here, citizen.”

“Yes.”

“We wouldn’t want anything to happen to it. …”

“What?”

Even the dumbest casino guy knows a Smith & Wesson beats four aces.

Even the dumbest casino guy knows a Smith & Wesson beats four aces.

What indeed. Ronald McDonald McTrump has clearly let the fat in his fast-food diet go straight to his head, where a .25-caliber brain struggles to govern a .50-caliber mouth.

I wonder what his Secret Service detail thinks about his quip about a Second Amendment solution to a president’s constitutionally derived authority (Article 2, Section 2) to nominate judges, given that their colleagues protect the other candidate for the job.

The candidate whose back Der Trumpenführer just decorated with a red-white-and-blue bullseye.

Ridesharing

August 9, 2016
A three-seater?

A three-seater?

So, like any good gabacho hipster, I’m riding my Rivendell Clem Smith Jr. to the coffee shop when I encounter a couple of vatos trying to negotiate the pedestrian signals at the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk without getting centerpunched by a speeding SUV.

They missed their east-west opportunity, so they pivot to the north-west crosswalk, and the older of the two, sporting a cane and a limp, says to me, “Hey, can you give us a lift to Taco Bell?”

“Sorry, man, I forgot my basket,” I quip.

Unfazed, he replies, “That’s OK, he can ride on the handlebars and I’ll ride in back.”

Ay, Robot

August 8, 2016
I'm up on the tight wire, linked by life and the funeral pyre, putting on a show for you to see.

I’m up on the tight wire, linked by life and the funeral pyre, putting on a show for you to see.

Electricity is your friend, until it isn’t.

We were watching the finale to season one of “Mr. Robot,” the one in which Eliott awakens in Tyrell’s SUV to discover that his hack has taken down the global financial system and all is chaos, when the lights first hiccuped and then went out altogether.

Bzzzzt. Game over.

The culprit wasn’t FSociety or any other anonymous (har de har har) hacktivist collective. Seems a bolt of lightning drilled a West Side Public Service Company of New Mexico substation, starting a fire and turning out the lights from Santa Fe to Los Lunas — affecting some 135,435 customers, including our little cul-de-sac. PNM said later it was the worst power outage in years.

After a bit, everyone in the ‘hood wandered into the street, exchanging quips about who tripped over the cord, passing out candles to the light-deprived, and generally just catching up on idle chitchat. Nice and dark it was, and cool, with just a soupçon of rain.

About the time we decided we’d better eat all the ice cream before it turned into ice-cream soup, click, the power came back on. Civilization — or the feeble substitute we’ve all agreed to settle for — marches on.

The Bernalillo Triangle

August 4, 2016
At the Triangle you can ride up to the Sandia Crest, if that's your idea of a good time. I haven't done it in about a quarter century.

At the Triangle you can ride up to the Sandia Crest, if that’s your idea of a good time. I haven’t done it in about a quarter century.

Remember that training ride I was contemplating, the one based on the old Watermelon Mountain Classic?

I rode the tail end of it yesterday on the Soma Saga (cantilever edition) and remembered one of the reasons I usually did poorly at the ‘Melon: inconsiderate motorists hogging the descent through Sandia Park-Cedar Crest to Tijeras.

There’s not much in the way of shoulder, and what there is is mostly covered with debris, and the traffic lanes are mostly covered with assholes. Plus there’s that one surprise climb just south of the Triangle that I always forgot about. But other than that, yeah, good times. Maybe not.

I did my recon as part of a 36-mile out-and-back from El Rancho Pendejo, and a mighty nice ride it was, too. There’s a sidewalk-slash-bike path on the climb from Interstate 40 to the Triangle, so a cyclist needn’t endure any buzzing on the way up. And since I was rocking 700x38mm Schwalbe Little Big Ben tires with goopy tubes the debris mostly wasn’t a problem. But damn, some folks need to get theyselfs reacquainted with they manners.

Anyway, now all I need to do is scope out the 25-mile section from Bernalillo to the Triangle and I’ll be ready to ride, just as soon as I get a rear-view mirror, a Glock G26, and some climbing legs.

 

Not the campaign trail

August 2, 2016
The Joe Appaloosa enjoying a bit of dirt time north of El Rancho Pendejo.

The Joe Appaloosa enjoying a bit of dirt time north of El Rancho Pendejo.

How’s your August so far?

Mine’s been great. I got 90 minutes of trail time on Rivendell’s Joe Appaloosa today, and two and a half hours on their Sam Hillborne yesterday.

The Sam Hillborne rolls northbound along the Paseo path.

The Sam Hillborne rolls northbound along the Paseo path.

This is loads more fun than waiting for Ronald McDonald McTrump to shit out of his mouth again. Dude erupts more consistently than Old Faithful. But if you keep the iPhone locked away in a Ziploc bag, and stuff the bag into a jersey pocket, you don’t get drenched until you get home.

Speaking of drenched, the weather wizards advise that a “sustained monsoon moisture plume” is working itself into a Trumplike frenzy, which is good news in a place that just wrapped up a scorcher of a July and was seeing its third-driest year ever.

It would be nice to see less rain more often — flash floods are about as much fun as droughts, as the homeless dudes hunting for their belongings along the I-40 trail will tell you — but like the GOP, we’ll take whatever we can get.

Working like a (mad) dog

July 30, 2016
Does this bike make my ass look fat?

Does this bike make my ass look fat?

Real life — well, “real life” as it is around Chez Slacker, anyway — reared its ugly head yesterday and I never had a chance to comment on the Hilldebeast’s coronation in Philly.

There was critter entertainment and maintenance to perform;  brief yet healthful outdoor exercise (a couple hot laps of Trails 365/365A over by Embudo Dam, on the Jones 29er); video to shoot, edit and voice for Adventure Cyclist (the Rivendell Joe Appaloosa); dinner to prepare (orecchiette with cherry tomatoes and arugula); travel arrangements to make for Interbike (already?); technical difficulties (Amazon Prime got sideways somehow and we couldn’t watch episode two of “Mr. Robot”); and a Great and Powerful Ozlike thunderstorm that started out with great sound and fury but in the end signified … eh, not much.

So, yeah. No time for deep thoughts on Hillary’s Big Day.

Looking back, I thought it was a pretty fair speech for someone who’d clearly rather be doing The Work instead of chatting with thee and me. “The service part has always come easier to me than the public part,” she explained, and I can dig it. I’d rather pull off my own head than deliver a speech to a mob like that; as you already know, I have plenty of days when some two-bit bloggery seems unduly onerous.

But she fell short of the mark set by Khizr Khan, father of Capt. Humayan Khan, killed by suicide bombers in Iraq. That dude crushed it, delivering a fierce beatdown to the chickenhawk Ronald McDonald McTrump, and as I understand things, he was speaking from the heart, not from a teleprompter or notes. Well done indeed.

I don’t see the Hilldebeast becoming an inspirational speaker anytime soon, no matter who’s writing the checks, Wall Street or Main Street. But I really don’t care, as long as she’s willing to buckle down and do The Work.

There’s some heavy lifting ahead. As David Corn wrote in Mother Jones, “She is … the only chance to stop Trump’s takeover of America — and her job is to persuade voters that for now she is indeed the last best hope.”

Old race, new race

July 28, 2016
Looking east at the Sandias from NM 313, en route to Bernalillo.

Looking east at the Sandias from NM 313, en route to Bernalillo.

It sure is nice to spend mornings riding the bike rather than writing the bike.

Yesterday I rode out to Bernalillo on NM 313, inspecting the first leg of what would be a fun training ride — basically an extended version of the old Watermelon Mountain Classic that I used to race back in the Eighties.

That race started in Bernalillo and climbed through Placitas on NM 165 to the Sandia Peak Ski Area, then dropped through Sandia Park and Cedar Crest before finishing on NM 333 just east of Albuquerque.

What made it interesting was a stretch of unimproved dirt Forest Service road — about seven miles of switchbacks, if memory serves — that climbed to the Sandia Crest Road just below the ski area, which used to host an occasional mountain-bike race.

After that it was mostly the old zoom-zoom, down, down, down to the Duke City. I was usually pretty aggressive on the climb, but whatever I gained on the uphill I lost on the downhill, suffering as I did from an overactive imagination and a feeble health-insurance plan.

My version of the Watermelon would start at El Rancho Pendejo, which adds 20 miles to the front end of the ride. The backside would be augmented by a half-dozen miles or thereabouts, from the old finish line back to the rancho. Eating the whole ‘melon would involve about 63 miles, many of them uphill. Good times. Maybe not.

Speaking of races and good times, Ronald McDonald McTrump came in for a vigorous thumping last night at the DNC. Even the prez got in on the act, which MoJo’s Kevin Drum summarized in 17 words:

Michael Bloomberg: Trump is a con man.

Tim Kaine: Trump is a liar.

Joe Biden: Trump is a sociopath

Barack Obama: Trump is an asshole.

Drum qualified that last by noting that it was his translation “from the original Obamish.” Pretty accurate translation, I’d say.

 

Grrl power

July 27, 2016
Gracie Allen ran strictly for laughs, as opposed to Donald Trump, who doesn't seem to realize that he's comical. Photo by CBS via Getty Images

Gracie Allen ran strictly for laughs, as opposed to Donald Trump, who doesn’t seem to realize that he’s comical. Photo by CBS via Getty Images

Nearly a century after women won the right to vote in this country, a major political party has finally picked one to be its candidate for the presidency.

Others have had a go, of course.

In 1964, Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination by a major party (the GOP).

Too, the Green Party and various socialist parties have regularly put women at the top of their tickets.

And Gracie Allen — yes, that Gracie Allen — ran in 1940 under the auspices of the Surprise Party. Her platform? “Redwood, trimmed with nutty pine.”

“My opponents say they’re going to fight me ’til the cows come home,” she said in a campaign speech. “So, they admit the cows aren’t home. Why aren’t the cows home? Because they don’t like the conditions on the farm. The cows are smart. They’re not coming home ’til there’s a woman in the White House.”

Gracie was (mostly) kidding, of course. But Hillary isn’t. Neither is Sarah Silverman, a supporter of Comrade Eeyore who told the Bernie or Bust faction that they were “being ridiculous,” which they were.

And definitely not kidding was the other Clinton, the Big Dog, who brought his gift for rambling discourse to the rostrum last night.

Ol’ Bill freestyled a lot of his speech, ’cause he likes to and ’cause the teleprompter was acting out (Ber-NIE! Ber-NIE!). I always appreciated the way the man could shoot the shit (his mendacious Monica Lewinsky chatter not included). But I never voted for him, because I didn’t trust him out of my sight, and I said more than once that his old lady was smarter, tougher and meaner than he was.

Well, Bill seems to agree with me. And so does the works faction of the party, because they gave her the nod.

Now, I don’t trust the Hilldebeast any more than I do her old man. Peas in a pod, those two. The Clintons seem all too typical of our political elites, many of whom think rules are for rubes. That said, there’s no denying that they’ve done the work, unlike the other fella in the contest, who won’t even pay for it, much less perform it.

Herself and I placed our faith in Bernie. But clearly faith wasn’t enough. Works will have to do. Say g’night, Gracie.