Posts Tagged ‘Adventure Cyclist’

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.”

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?