Posts Tagged ‘Adventure Cyclist’

Rock ‘n’ roll

February 3, 2017
Some places the walls have ears. Here the trails have teefers.

Some places the walls have ears. Here the trails have teefers.

Yesterday I was out shooting snippets of video for my Adventure Cyclist review of the Specialized Sequoia when I decided it would be edifying to snap a still of some of the rocks I throw at these machines during our rides together.

Doesn’t quite give you the shark’s-tooth view I get from the saddle, does it? I need to go back and try again.

Meanwhile, I ordinarily read a bit of poetry before nodding off at night, but lately I’ve been browsing The Paris Review‘s interviews with authors and artists. If you need a break from the full-auto barrage of political news, check it out.

Happy trails

January 2, 2017
Don't let the apparent solitude fool you — the Piedra Lisa/Embudo Dam trails were crawling with people trying to sweat out their hangovers.

Don’t let the apparent solitude fool you — the Piedra Lisa/Embudo Dam trails were crawling with people trying to sweat out their hangovers.

Right. New Year’s Day has come and gone, and it’s all downhill from here.

Instead of Hoppin’ John and cornbread, deadlines are on the menu — print reviews of the Trek 520 and Specialized Sequoia are due this month at Adventure Cyclist, along with video of the Sam Hillborne. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, meanwhile, wants a column and cartoon.

The struggle continues.

Bellying up to the bar on New Year's Day.

Bellying up to the bar on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, the first ride of the year is in the books. I performed a cassette transplant on the mango Steelman Eurocross to replace a 26-tooth cog with a 28 — 36×26 is too tall for some of the trails I ride around here — and went out and about for an hour.

Riding touring bikes has spoiled me for cyclocross. I need to think about rearranging the technology on this Eurocross, losing the balky old eight-speed Ultegra brifters for bar-cons and aero brake levers; shortening and raising the stem a tad; and going wider with the handlebar. Also, and too, pulling a few teeth on the chainrings, going to 46/34 from 48/36.

And while I’m at it, I could go nine-speed. Forward, into the past!

I’m probably stuck as regards tires — 32mm is what I’m rocking now, and I nearly slid off a greasy off-camber bit and into a ditch full of sharp rocks and cacti because I’m used to riding nice, fat, squishy 38s and up. But I think I’ll be lucky if I can shoehorn a 35 into that rear triangle.

And if I’m unlucky, or unfit? Well, I guess I can always ride the Soma Double Cross, which already has bar-cons and aero levers, plus a triple crank and 700x42s. Gotta look for that silver lining, don’t you know.

Along those lines, consider this: At least Mariah Carey won’t be the next president. Too soon?

WWFP (What Would Frank Play?), Part IV

December 15, 2016
Climbing toward the Sandia tram on behalf of Adventure Cyclist magazine.

Climbing toward the Sandia tram on behalf of Adventure Cyclist magazine.

It’s been a deadline week, and that means drawing, writing and shooting a bit of video. (Also, ignoring the news, which can lead to nothing but trouble.)

So WWFP? I’m gonna go with “Trouble Every Day.”

 

Interbike 2016: We’ll always have Parris

September 23, 2016
Masi's Adventure Series bikes.

Masi’s Adventure Series bikes.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (MDM) — Ah, so this is what it’s like to have a job. Toting that barge and lifting that bale from sunrise to dark-thirty, lots of bad noise, and no time to play with the old blogaroo.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

There’s a new sheriff in town at Adventure CyclistNick Legan, once a top wrench on the racing circuit who went bad and signed on as tech editor for some Boulder-based cycling mag, and then for us — and frankly, the man is a slave driver, marching us around the Interbike floor like maggots at Parris Island (copy coordinator Dan Meyer, another addition, actually did five years in the Marines, but that’s another story).

As a result we have seen things — many, many of them — and more than a few are suited to the adventure-cycling crowd. Seems the industry has finally discovered what the Adventure Cycling Association folks have been all about for, oh, four decades now. Who knew?

Expect a review of the Moots Baxter (not from me, call the waaaaambulance). “Think mountain-bike capabilities in a mountain-cross build,” says the marketing copy, and it’s named for a dog. Plus it’s a Moots. This is all you need to know.

Also looking good are the Adventure Series bikes from Masi. We looked at but did not review the 2016 Giramondo, but it’s in the hopper for 2017. The Speciale Randonneur looks good, too.

Appearances can be deceiving: While there were times when the show floor seemed busy, overall I'd guess attendance is down, and I'm not the only professional pessimist out there.

Appearances can be deceiving: While there were times when the show floor seemed busy, overall I’d guess attendance is down, and I’m not the only professional pessimist out there.

For some reason the Bombtrack bikes didn’t grab me when I first saw them online, but they’re mighty sharp in MeatWorld, especially the Beyond.

Marin, which did such a fine job last year with the Four Corners Elite, is back for more this year with a wide range of adventure-capable machines, from that Four Corners to the insanely affordable Nicasio.

Also priced to move: Breezer’s Radar Pro. The colors are a bit loud for a subtle fashionista like me, but it’s hard to complain about the price.

The fine folks at Panaracer have plenty of adventurous tires (check out the Gravel King SK); Ortlieb has moved into bikepacking gear; and … and … and I’m sure there’s more to report, but right now I need some breakfast and then it’s off to the show for the final day of Interbike 2016.

• Thought of the Day: Is everyone who works at Rí Rá really Irish or are they putting us on? Seriously, it sounds like “The Commitments” in there. It’ll break me heart if it turns out they’re all from Jersey or Iowa and just takin’ the piss.

 

Interbike 2016: Pain in the. …

September 21, 2016
GoPro's crew and the sporting media, brandishing technology at each other. Sort of like the hominids waving bones around in "2001," only without all that Stanley Kubrick going on.

GoPro’s crew and the sporting media, brandishing technology at each other. Sort of like the hominids waving bones around in “2001,” only without all that Stanley Kubrick going on.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (MDM) — The stabbing pain in my right calf let me know that it was time to rise and shine, if by “rise and shine” you mean “vigorously rub a cramping leg muscle while employing language you didn’t learn from your momma.”

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

It was way too early for a massage that doesn’t have a happy ending. Happily, the Starbucks just around the corner from the East Tower elevators is a 24-hour deal, and after I limped down there for a flagon of the black I was at least able to swear in English and without repeating myself much.

(Yes, I know, Starbucks bad. Starbucks evil. Starbucks also everywhere. We go to Interbike with the coffee we have, not the coffee we wish we had.)

Last night I connected with some of the Adventure Cyclist and Bicycle Retailer mobs for a media preview of a few brands’ offerings and a bite of dinner at Border Grill.

REI announced that it was dropping its Novara label for house-brand bikes, which henceforth will be called “Co-op Cycles.” And GoPro was showing its brand-new HERO 5 camera and Karma drone. That booth was the hottest spot in the room (apologies for the crappy iPhone shot).

I thought briefly about wedging myself into the crush to get the details, and then I thought again. The show hasn’t even opened yet. One cramp at a time, please.

• Deep Thought of the Day: Why do people involved in the collection and distribution of information gather in noisy bistros where they can’t hear each other speak? No wonder everyone stares at their devices all the doo-dah day. “Siri, tell Ray to message me, I can’t hear a damn’ thing he’s saying. What? Can you hear me now? How about now? NOW?”

 

Interbike 2016: Against the wind

September 18, 2016
Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Vato’s got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

That old Bob Seger tune isn’t on the playlist, but I’m on the road anyway. Just another Adventure Cyclist logging miles, and if it’s happening on four wheels, well, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Deadlines and commitments; what to leave in, what to leave out.

See you along the road.

Man at work

September 2, 2016
Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

While cranking out a column and cartoon to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the launching of the good ship Bicycle Retailer and Industry News back in 1992, it struck me that I was approaching a milestone of my own — as of today, I have been a full-time freelancer for 25 years.

That is not a typo.

After quitting my seventh and final newspaper gig, at The New Mexican up Santa Fe way, I raced the Record Challenge in Moriarty on Sunday, Sept. 1, 1991 (56:43 for 40km, a personal best), and the very next day I was up north in Bibleburg, trying to figure out how a burned-out newspaperman might pay for his bacon and beans.

I had three things going for me. One, I had been freelancing cartoons and light journalism to VeloNews since March 1989, and I began doing more of that, helping cover (now-defunct) races like La Vuelta de Bisbee, the Casper Classic, and the Cactus Cup, and lending a hand with copy-editing and production up in Boulder.

Two, Marc Sani at BRAIN wanted a comic strip for his brand-new industry magazine, and before long I was writing some stuff for him, too.

And three, Herself and I were living rent-free with my mom, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and required oversight. So we’re not exactly talking Hemingway-in-Paris here; we had a roof over our heads, three hots and a cot, and a small allowance for serving as live-in help while my sister managed Mom’s finances from Fort Collins.

At first I could and did work for anyone. But eventually the VeloNews and BRAIN gigs led to other work in the bike biz, and after a while that’s all I did. It’s hard to believe, but a guy could actually earn a semi-OK living scribbling for bicycle magazines, and eventually, bicycle websites. Who knew? Not me. Not until I had 15 years of newspapering under my belt, anyway.

Today I work for BRAIN and Adventure Cyclist, period. It’s not exactly heavy lifting. I get to make shit up for the one and play with other people’s toys for the other. I should be paying them, not the other way around.

You guys, of course, get the dubious benefits of 40 years’ experience for free. You’re welcome.

 

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.”

Back in the saddle again

February 25, 2016
Miss Mia Sopaipilla inquires whether I plan to stick around for a few head bumps before pissing off again to God knows where.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla inquires whether I plan to stick around for a few head bumps before pissing off again to God knows where.

Nose, meet grindstone.

I pretty much plugged right back in after my little sojourn in the desert. Cranked out a column and cartoon for Bicycle Retailer, edited pix and video for Adventure Cyclist, bashed out a post and gallery for all y’all, delivered myself of a few quips on social media, replenished the larder, and got the Subie serviced.

The old rice rocket is still ticking along nicely after 11 years and 117,000 miles, and a few inexpensive repairs — replacing the cracked moon roof, reupholstering the driver’s seat and buffing the haze out of the headlights — should keep me off the car lots for a while yet.

The critters’ separation anxieties have all been soothed (I haven’t told them Herself will be pissing off to Hawaii here directly). And if I haven’t had a lick of exercise in three days, well, at least I’ve gotten a few things done.

After a heavenly week of shunning radio, TV and the Innertubez, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed catching up on the news, save for a bit of heehawing at Jeb (!) finally noticing all those loafer prints in his ass. How pleasurable it was to finally see a head roll in that dime-store dynasty, even with The Donald serving as executioner.

And speaking of The Mouth That Roared, that tale has pretty much stopped being funny. Over at MoJo, David Corn reminds us that the Rethugs have no one to blame but themselves for this billionaire buccaneer who sailed right into the middle of their tony fleet and let fly with broadsides to port and starboard.

At The Guardian, Jeb Lund distributes the credit a little more widely, observing that the courtier press is a bit too comfy in its own box seat at the opera to notice that the peasants outside are revolting (oy, are they ever).

Me, I think we all had a hand in the phenomenon that Charlie Pierce calls “He, Trump.” Or off it, as in abandoning control of our electoral processes to the pros, fixers and wizards.

This is one of the reasons I’m not sanguine about the idea of self-driving cars. If you’re not in the driver’s seat, you can be certain that someone else is. And they may be taking you somewhere you’d rather not go.

Turning Traitor

December 19, 2015
The Traitor Wander parked at the northern end of the Tramway bike path. They can still run you over on this thing, but they can't claim they never saw you.

The Traitor Wander parked at the northern end of the Tramway bike path. They can still run you over on this thing, but they can’t claim they never saw you.

The temps finally inched above 40 yesterday afternoon so I kitted up and got out for a short ride on the Traitor Wander, the next bike in line for review in Adventure Cyclist.

I’m no longer equipped for nor inclined to those long subfreezing training rides we used to enjoy Back In the Day®, when everyone dressed up like the little brother from “A Christmas Story.”

But 40-something I can handle, especially since I’m no longer afeared of fenders. The new Shimano XM7s help keep the toes toasty, too.

I briefly considered running, but I already had all that heavily loaded legwork under my belt from emptying Chez Dog, and I hadn’t been on a bike since returning to El Rancho Pendejo, so off I rolled.

I saw a few other desperadoes out there pedaling, a couple of them wearing shorts. That’s way past Manly Points and deep into Dummy Country.

Today the weatherperson is predicting a high in the low 50s, which is my idea of the perfect December day. So I’ll be out for more than an hour. So will everybody else, but as the Buddha has taught us, life is suffering. They’ll just have to suck it up and learn how to share the road with my fat ass.