Posts Tagged ‘Adventure Cyclist’

Where’s my gold watch?

April 18, 2019

Bagged and tagged: the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650.

Yesterday I drew the May cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Today I wrapped a video for Adventure Cyclist.

And now, as El Rancho Pendejo seems to be remarkably free of bikes needing review, it seems I don’t have any paying work to do for a month, when the next BRAIN ’toon is due.

That ain’t a job. That’s a hobby.

Shit. I think I’m retired.

Stand down

March 23, 2019

His Excellency scans The Compound for unauthorized personnel.

Huh. I’ve actually managed to accomplish a few things lately. Go figure.

My April cartoon has been delivered to BRAIN. And my review of the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650 — print version and its two-minute video teaser — is all but complete; I’m just waiting for some Salsoid to answer a couple of questions about spec.

Unzip over to Voler to join the team! Use the Secret Code (OLDGUYS15) to get 15% off your purchase. And no, goddamnit, for the last time, it does not come with fries!

Two other review bikes have been shipped back to their respective motherships, greatly enhancing velocipede-storage capacity in the garage.

Sue Barue, The Fearsome Furster, has passed her annual checkup and had a brace of new window gussets installed, so maybe I’ll be able to hear the stereo again.

The cats have been given a vigorous spring airing. Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) inspected the perimeter yesterday and collected samples of this year’s grass crop for scientific analysis, the results of which were displayed on the living-room carpet this morning. Miss Mia Sopaipilla took up her station in the clothes dryer, and reported that for reasons unknown the lint filter seems to be full of cat hair.

And now I have exactly fuck-all to do. Nobody’s sending me to Taiwan, or Sea Otter, I won’t have a cartoon due until mid-April, and I’m fresh out of review bikes.

So I guess I’ll just have to ride one of my own. Sucks to be me.

Life is a Journeyman

March 16, 2019

Salsa with geezer instead of chips.

As you know, God rides steel, or titanium (if He can get a bro’ deal from Moots, which is by no means a sure thing). And what God rides is good enough for me.

But the latest review bike here in Dog Country is aluminum, both frame and fork. And thus in the pursuit of Fairness and Objectivity I must keep my metallurgical biases chained up in the attic.

That is, I would, if we had an attic. Christ, there’s not even a basement in this fauxdobe rancheroo.

The Salsa Journeyman Claris 650, up against The Wall of Science.

Just as well, too. I’d probably tumble down the stairs and break a hip, and Herself would have me put down, find some nice young fella with wavy hair and a future instead of stubbly scalp and a past. Or maybe she’d just keep me down there. Lob a sack of Taco Bell down the stairs now and then, and a plastic bucket with a roll of single-ply. It’s not like I don’t have it coming.

Anyway, the bike. It’s the latest update to the low end of Salsa’s all-road, gravel and light-touring Journeyman series, the Claris 650. And it’s not only aluminum, it’s got them funny-size tires, whatchacallem, your 650b, or 27.5, neither fish nor fowl. And more holes than Albert Hall! You can plug pert’ near anything into the sumbitch except for maybe a Fender Stratocaster. And I’d try it, if someone at Fender would just loan me a Strat’ to review.

The Journeyman Claris 650 rolls with a manly eight-speed drivetrain, so it has that going for it, which is nice. None of your one-by-whatever setups with a cassette that has more teeth than a tour bus full of Osmonds.

Charlie Ervin down at Two Wheel Drive asked me if I try to put myself in the mindset of a customer shopping for a sub-$1,000 bike when I’m reviewing one and I said hell yes. I am a Man of the People, though I notice that most of ’em don’t pick up when I call.

Especially the ones with the $8,000 titanium bikes that desperately need reviewing, and by me, right now, goddamnit. Dern Caller ID anyhow.

True grit: Rooster Cogsburn squints into the wind

March 9, 2019

“OK, try to make me look good here, you hack.”

It was so bloody windy here yesterday that when I shifted gears, in that split-second when the chain was between cogs, I could feel myself shedding forward momentum.

“Lights, camera, action!”

Happily, I was riding mostly to shoot video for another Adventure Cyclist “Quick Spin,” which meant I spent as much time off the bike, playing director and cameraman, as I did on the bike as the “talent.” The wind’s not so much of an issue when you’re jogging between takes from camera to bike and back again.

The Air Quality Division’s health alerts over airborne dust are another matter entirely. But I’ve decided to think of those as a spa treatment. A free skin peel.

These trails are just south and east of El Rancho Pendejo, and if traffic’s light on Tramway it’s easy to forget there’s a minor metropolitan area right next door — so much so that I often don’t notice the constant low-level background hum of infernal combustion until I get home and start editing the video.

I’d yell “Quiet on the set!” but it’s pointless. Everyone’s wearing earbuds and/or has the windows rolled up.

 

Vidiot at ‘work’

March 5, 2019

A man, a touring bike, and a deadline.

Have you ever noticed that whenever it’s a beautiful day, you have chores that need doing?

Happily, a fair amount of my chores today involved being outside with someone else’s bicycle.

I was dicking around with a video project yesterday, and it was not going at all well, when it struck me that I hadn’t nailed down a video review of the Jamis Aurora Elite for Adventure Cyclist. The print review will be in April’s edition.

Oopsie.

So out I went, me and my GoPro, and you would not believe how long it takes some people to come up with two minutes of footage. I certainly didn’t believe it. Jaysis. The Universe and everything in it were in cahoots against me. Allergies certainly didn’t help. They had me by the brain stem with a downhill pull.

Still, I was riding a bike in the sunshine for a couple hours, kinda, sorta, so I have nothing to complain about. Hah. As if that ever stopped me.

The Element of surprise

February 27, 2019

’83 in stereo.

Keep on truckin’? Nope.

I had four of them once, up in Weirdcliffe, all Toyotas — two 1983 longbeds, a 1998 Tacoma and a 1978 Chinook pop-top camper.

But I gradually untrucked myself and now my only four-wheeler is the Fearsome Furster, a 2005 Subaru Forester XS with 134,000 miles on the odometer.

It’s a midget SUV, reliable, unremarkable, anonymous. Decent fuel economy. Easy to lose in a parking lot full of trucks. Hard to sleep in.

That’s why the Honda Element caught my eye, and kept it. It’s a car, it’s a truck, it’s an RV for people who don’t like RVs (even a 1978 Toyota Chinook pop-top).

And I almost bought one once. OK, twice.

I talk about this and other things on this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch. A tip of the Mad Dog trucker’s cap goes out to Ursa Minor Vehicles and Ralph Spoilsport Motors, the world’s largest new used and used new automobile dealership, Ralph Spoilsport Motors, here in the City of Emphysema. I can’t wait to get away from it all.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited using Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro, adding audio acquired via Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack (no profit was taken in a casual approach to copyright). Speaking of which, that’s the late Chris Farley as motivational speaker Matt Foley saving some kids from winding up 35 years old, thrice divorced, and streaming “Saturday Night Live” in a van down by the river. The barking dog, speeding auto and background music were liberated from Apple’s iMovie audio library. The atomic wedgie is courtesy of cognitu perceptu at Freesound.org. That car starting is the Fearsome Furster its own bad self; the radio is tuned to KUNM-FM and “Performance Today,” specifically “The Lark Ascending,” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, as performed by Nurit Bar-Josef. And finally, “Ka-Ching” is performed by the one and only Herself.

Prime time is on trails, not TV

February 6, 2019

The February wind was making the clouds skate around all over the sky yesterday.

The State of the Union (El Rancho Pendejo Edition) is as follows:

Herself is now working 10 hours a day, four days a week, so as to have a three-day weekend each and every week.

I am working not quite so much, my career having developed a slow leak at the potholed intersection of Bicycle and Journalism.

Trail time: When the bike is leaning up against the rock I’m probably not going to fall off of it.

I have a cartoon to draw for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, and a review to finish for Adventure Cyclist, and beyond that it’s anybody’s guess. Terra incognita. Here be dragons. All hope abandon, ye who scribble here.

Speaking of hope abandoned, I can’t wait to see the ratings for last night’s comedy special from Capitol Hill. Knowing that Charlie Pierce would be on the case, we gave it a miss, reasoning that if we want to watch a loon pretending to be president we can always dredge up some old “SNL” footage of Chevy Chase playing Gerald Ford.

Instead we caught up on “Crashing,” the Pete Holmes thing on HBO. It’s only so-so — Marc Maron and Bill Burr are more my style, when ol’ Freckles isn’t raving about ball sports — but you get to see some funny cameos by twisted comics like Dave Attell and Jeff Ross.

Beforehand I engaged in wheel sport, taking a quick out-and-back spin on the Voodoo Nakisi, which has been neglected while I review the Jamis Aurora Elite. My mad trail skillz have atrophied, and I was dabbing on sections a fat 4-year-old could handle on a balance bike, but it sure beat working. It beat not working too.

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.

Sunset with a side of Aurora

January 19, 2019

The Big Yellow Ball returned to the sky yesterday, as did the color blue.

We had a lovely bit of color yesterday afternoon to close out the work week.

If we’re lucky we might be back to what passes for normal around here, weather-wise, for the next few days, anyway.

The Jamis Aurora Elite, ready for its closeup.

This would be useful, as I have a Quick Spin video to finish for the Adventurous Cyclists. It concerns the Jamis Aurora Elite, which I last reviewed in June 2011.

It’s surprising how little the bike has changed over the years, and that goes double for the price, which has been pegged at $1,699 for the better part of quite some time.

That ain’t bad for a steel bike with rear rack and fenders. A small bright spot in an otherwise dark time.

Cold blow and the rainy night

December 7, 2018

The transition from fall to winter is always a sketchy time around here.

I’m not a fan of shorter, colder, darker days. They remind me at a genetic level of why my people invented uisce beatha. And since I no longer indulge in that miraculous restorative I’m at sea without a paddle on these chilly gray mornings, when the hangover is outside my head, at large and in charge, and not even aspirin is of any use.

This is when I await a tot of bad news, the way I once awaited a shot of good booze. The life of the free-range rumormonger is wild and free, until it isn’t, and it’s generally around this time of year when editors count and cull their herds.

“Oh, that one’s got to go. Dumber than three mules, eats like six of ’em, and shits all over the place. Fetch my .30-.30.”

It was fall 2017 when I got the word that Bicycle Retailer and Industry News would no longer require my “Mad Dog Unleashed” column. This was not a surprise. The industry-news biz, and the industry itself, was not exactly flush. Flushed was more like it. And shortly thereafter the publisher who gave the order and the editor who carried it out were no longer with The Organization.

About the same time Adventure Cyclist guessed that they wouldn’t need me at Interbike Reno, the Last Dance in Sin City having demonstrated all the intoxicating power of a half-can of O’Doul’s, a two-wheeled version of P.T. Barnum’s This Way to the Egress. When I heard nary a word about the show afterward I assumed Management had made the right decision. A bored and sober Dog makes a poor companion indeed. Whining and snarling and pissing on things.

And an old Dog, too. Set in his ways he is. ‘Tis a wee bit late to be training him so. Is there a .30-.30 to be had somewhere, d’ye think?

Well, p’raps. But not right now. Until I hear otherwise, I’m to deliver the first “Shop Talk” cartoon of 2019 to BRAIN next week. And a fresh Adventure Cyclist review bike awaits me down at Fat Tire Cycles, one of the few Duke City shops I have yet to visit.

And thus we have this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch: “Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, or Whatever Floats Your Boat.” Give it a listen.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone, Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack, and the old 2009 iMac. Cap’n Whitebeard used an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Into the Sunset” from Audio Hero via ZapSplat.com. Sounds of the sea courtesy Freesound.org.

• Editor’s note: The very day I recorded this episode BRAIN announced that the bell had tolled, not for me, but for Interbike, both show and staff. That shit will roll downhill — just how far and fast remains to be seen — and I feel the pain of all those who saw the business end of that .30-.30. Marc Sani, one of BRAIN’s founders and presently its interim publisher, has a few thoughts on the whys and wherefores. As for me, I wrote about the final Vegas show in 2017, and you can read that after the jump.

• Off to see the Wizard in 2017