Posts Tagged ‘Adventure Cyclist’

Giant steps

December 23, 2017

It’s not your granddaddy’s touring bike.

Ho ho ho, etc. Sanity Clause* has delivered an early gift — a Giant ToughRoad SLR 1.

Well, it’s more of a loaner than an actual present. But still.

The brain trust at Adventure Cyclist thought we were getting a little fixated on steel drop-bar bikes and thus I’m reviewing this alloy flat-bar bike, which starts our journey together with three strikes against it.

First, it has hydraulic disc brakes. Second, it rolls on tubeless tires. And finally, it has an aluminum frame and composite fork.

OK, so four strikes. When I was loading it into the Furster for the drive home I bashed my noggin on the rear hatch lid, which hadn’t opened all the way (old struts, cold weather). If I hadn’t been wearing a hat I’d probably have been scalped. As it is I look like a Giant PR flack took a swing at me with a pedal wrench.

But what the hell, it’s all baseball, que no? It will be interesting to take all my biases for a ride at once.

* And yeah, yeah, I know, I know: There ain’t no Sanity Clause.

Cooking, cameras and cutbacks

December 16, 2017

Ol’ Blue Eyes observes the paparazzi from the brick patio.

December days are like a short fuse. You light one at dark-thirty every morning and before you know it, boom! It’s bedtime.

The backyard maple crowds a shot of sunrise peeping over the Sandias.

It remains a constant source of astonishment how little a guy with no job can accomplish during one of these speed runs.

I’ve been revisiting a few recipes (among them Martha Rose Shulman’s orecchiette with basil-pistachio pesto and green beans) and sampling some new ones (a minestrone from “Dad’s Own Cookbook” by Bob Sloan was particularly well received).

I’ve also been playing with a new camera, a Sony RX100 III, after hearing nothing but raves about the series from pros and amateurs alike, including my man Hal up Weirdcliffe way, who has an RX100 base model. These shots came from the new toy.

Too, the Adventurous Cyclists and I have been chasing down review bikes for the new year, with varying degrees of success. And I just finished a “Shop Talk” cartoon for the January 2018 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, which for the first time in a couple decades will not include a snarky “Mad Dog Unleashed” column by Your Humble Narrator.

Money is tight in the bike biz these days, and I’m not the first person to feel the pinch. Nor will I be the last.

Via Twitter, a reader expressed sympathy but not surprise, to which I replied, “The surprise is that it took so long for the damn’ dogcatcher to throw his loop over me. Send Milk-Bones and plenty of ’em, they gave me a real big cellmate. Looks to be part Neapolitan mastiff, part Baskerville hound.”

 

Finally, Friday

November 17, 2017

Early in the week the Fuji Touring Disc and I got our kicks on Route 66.

It’s been a productive week around the old rumormongery.

I edited and shipped two short videos for Adventure Cyclist; continued my evaluation of the latest review model, a Fuji Touring Disc; and wrote a column and drew a cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Cha-ching! Just back that armored car up to the vault, boys, and start shoveling. I’ll be on the patio contemplating my investment portfolio.

Speaking of which, I see our national leadership is dancing merrily with the ones who brung ’em. It can’t be much longer before there’s a new agency working hand in glove with the Eternal Revenue Service, the Department of Spare Change, which sends agents round to root through your pants pockets, sofa cushions and swear jars. Hand over those nickels and dimes, Gramps, you lot would just piss it away on housing, food or medicine.

Don’t worry, soon it will all come trickling back to you. Why, look, what’s that there, on your shoe? Looks like it’s raining on somebody!

Put your back into it

November 4, 2017

More fall, still more!

Two visits with the backcracker and I’m feeling more and more like a biped capable of upright locomotion. That said, I’m still not convinced it was a good idea for the Irish to come down from the trees, even though the English were kind enough to teach us how to operate the wheelbarrow.

What I need to be operating is some bicycles. The deadlines, they loom — for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, for Adventure Cyclist — and I’ve noticed that Kevin Drum’s obsession with artificial intelligence notwithstanding, these pieces refuse to write themselves.

And somebody has to pay the backcracker. ‘Cause he doesn’t accept health insurance.

Thus the temptation is to get out there right now and push those pedals around. Burn some fat, light the cranial fireworks, make a little magic.

Hmm. What would Plato do? Probably not that. Maybe I’ll just go for a walk.

One Marin, hold the fire, please

October 15, 2017

Going down. …

There are days — approximately seven per week — when I’m delighted that I no longer work for a daily newspaper.

… and going up.

Instead of following fires, terrorism and ruthless, blithering idiocy for fun and profit, I get to ride my bikey bike.

Or, in this case, someone else’s bikey bike.

The Marin Nicasio is next in the review pipeline, and while product manager Chris Holmes watches copters chatter in and out of the Petaluma airport I get to pedal one of his products up hill and down dale here in the Duke City.

There will be more of this sort of thing today. I may not work for a newspaper anymore, but I still have deadlines.

Fire and flood

September 12, 2017

Things are just peachy here.

We seem to be dialing it down from 11, natural-disaster-wise.

The Florida branch of Herself’s kin is back home after a stint in Pensacola, and the Adventurous Cyclists in Montana reported a break in the weather over the weekend, so yay, etc. Hope you and yours are on the right side of the lawn, and that said lawn is neither under water nor on fire.

Without cute pix of dogs carrying their own survival rations or video of knuckleheads getting blown off their feet while iPhoning an incoming wave it will be tough to keep our attention from drifting to the next shiny object. The cleanup is never as much fun as the party.

For example:

There are toxins in Houston’s floodwater. The U.S. Virgin Islands are for the moment no longer a paradise for vacationers (or the people who live there). The cleanup in Florida is liable to take the better part of quite some time.

Cooler, damper weather seems to be lending a hand to firefighters in Montana and Oregon, but nobody’s cracking the bubbly just yet.

Equifax doesn’t give a shit about me or thee.

And Ted Cruz apparently “likes” porn. If anything could finally croak the porn industry, this is it.

But hey, cheer up: The new iPhones are here! The new iPhones are here!

Videocy (an ongoing series)

July 18, 2017

Just past the turnoff to Heartbreak Hill, the marquee bit in the Santa Fe Century.

Wrapped another video for Adventure Cyclist yesterday. I was sick of all my usual backdrops, so I went up to Heartbreak Hill off NM 14 and fiddled around a bit there.

Going up (but not very far).

And no, I didn’t ride the Co-Motion Deschutes there, thanks for asking. It would’ve been fun, but we’re talking a hilly 65-mile round trip from El Rancho Pendejo. Herself was serving jury duty, The Boo is very much not interested in being alone for several hours, and I had to edit the video and do the voiceover when I got home.

Also, and too, it rained like a mad bastard here yesterday afternoon, and had I been an actual touring cyclist, instead of merely playing one on TV, I’d probably have gotten caught in it. I hear you’re supposed to suffer for your art, but still, damn.

Speaking of suffering, I see the latest iteration of Trumpcare croaked on the table. Take a moment to cheer, by all means, but let’s remember the advice of kindly Doc Winston Wolf before we get too giddy. As Kevin Drum notes, the main reason the beast died is that it wasn’t tough enough on the poors.

Monsoon season

April 25, 2017

My bucket runneth over.

It rained all day, which is a good thing, and not just because we live in a desert, either.

Nope, I had things to do, and still have, among them a column and cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and a bicycle review for Adventure Cyclist.

Thus it was best that I be confined to quarters and required to pay attention.

Elsewhere, the deluge — no, not the rain, but the shit monsoon that is the reign of King Donald the Short-fingered — continues unabated. His family crest should be a tiny hand stirring a golden toilet with the motto, “L’merde, c’est moi.”

So we’ll ignore that fool and link instead to an interesting read from Cormac McCarthy on the unconscious and its distrust of language. Hardly anyone gets killed horribly in it, but I’ll tell you, he makes me feel like a haunted house.

R.I.P., Mike Deme

March 30, 2017

I always snickered at the mugshot Mike Deme used when he was still in the editor’s chair at Adventure Cyclist. He always looks like, “Goddamnit, are we gonna have some fun here or what?”

My friend and colleague Mike Deme has gone west. He was 51.

Mike devoted nearly a quarter-century to the Adventure Cycling Association, winding up his tour of duty as director of design and media.

We may have first connected when he was editor of The Cyclists’ Yellow Pages — Lord, that would have been a very long time ago — but we had our first real professional how-d’ye-dos in 2009, when he emailed in his capacity as editor of Adventure Cyclist to ask:

“Ever do any touring? It’d be great to get an O’Grady story in Adventure Cyclist. Any interest?”

I confessed that I had never toured, so Mike wangled me a slot in the ACA’s 2010 Southern Arizona Road Adventure as something of a test drive. I wrote that up, and nobody threatened legal action, so next Mike shanghaied me into writing reviews of touring bikes despite another protestation of blithering and disqualifying ignorance. The rest you mostly know, because I’m still at it.

Listen you, enjoy your time,

you really don’t have very long.

You were born just a moment ago,

in another moment you’ll be gone.

—Wang Fan-chih, the Buddhist Layman, in “Cold Mountain Poems: Zen Poems of Han Shan, Shih Te, and Wang Fan-chih,” edited and translated by J.P. Seaton

Working with Mike and the rest of the Adventure Cyclist crew proved a welcome change from pretending to care about bicycle racing for VeloNews and pretending to write about the industry for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Basically, Mike yanked my cycling head out of my racing ass, reminded me that it’s not all about counting grams, going fast and cutting corners.

We tackled a bunch of Interbikes together, along with a couple of North American Handmade Bicycle Shows, and keeping pace with Mike was always a tough hustle. Short and stout, he never meandered, but always marched, to the beat of his own running commentary. There was work to be done, and a booth to staff, and liquor to drink come quitting time.

And the man was funny. On our separate ways home from NAHBS in North Carolina we texted briefly about the joys of airport travel. When I noted that I’d dodged a cavity search at the Charlotte airport Mike replied: “That place was easy. I’m in Detroit drinking a Miller Fortune. All I can say is we really needed High Life in another package with a bit of Malt Liquor Bull added to it.”

This was his professional opinion, mind you. When Mike wasn’t overseeing the magazine, golfing, or touring, he tended bar in Missoula.

He was gruff and abrupt, liked all the right music and disliked all the right people, and I never had to pester him about money. Ask any freelancer how rare a bird that is. Practically extinct, is what.

I’m sad that he’s gone, and that I never got to ride with him. All the wrong people are shoving off lately.

• Late addendum: The ACA bids farewell to Mike.

Stormy mental weather

February 28, 2017
Looks like I guessed wrong, weather-wise: I ran yesterday, which turned out to be an OK day for cycling. Today, however. ...

Looks like I guessed wrong, weather-wise: I ran yesterday, which turned out to be an OK day for cycling. Today, however. …

I’m not very interested in what I have to say lately.

There’s just something about February. It’s a short month, but marks the start of every-other-week columns and cartoons for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Too, the weather is often inhospitable, which can be a problem when shooting video for Adventure Cyclist.

And every so often we find ourselves adjusting to a New World Ordure, which can be irksome.

So, yeah. Apologies, but I’ve been taking a few continuing-education courses at good ol’ STFU.

While in residence I read a 1955 interview with James Thurber in The Paris Review. Thurber — an FBI target dubbed “prematurely anti-fascist” by Red-hunters — was discussing what he called “this fear and hysteria” of that period in American history and how it was affecting his writing:

“It’s hard to write humor in the mental weather we’ve had, and that’s likely to take you into reminiscence. Your heart isn’t in it to write anything funny.”

Speaking of stormy mental February weather, I see King Donald the Short-fingered is to address the multitudes this evening. P’raps instead of watching that excremental extravaganza we shall borrow a teenager from one of the neighbors, immerse ourselves in some novel off-the-cuff and inconsequential lies as a change of pace.

Or maybe we’ll re-read “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”