Posts Tagged ‘cyclocross’

Stem education

October 28, 2018

Autumn means cyclocross, even if you’re not wearing a number.

We’re back to what passes for normal, weather-wise, in the Duke City, which is to say sunny and warmish.

The uniform of the day is knickers, short sleeves and arm warmers, with long-fingered gloves held in reserve.

On Friday I’d planned a quick outing on Steelman Eurocross No. 1, a mango-colored Reynolds 853 bike. But as I mounted up the front tire felt squishy, and sure enough, there was a slow leak in the sonofabitch.

As I get older, the stems get shorter and steeper.

Happily, we do not lack for two-wheelers here at El Rancho Pendejo, and so I snagged Eurocross No. 2, a red jobber with a couple of shaped True Temper tubes in the frameset and Brent Steelman only knows what else.

It was part of a batch of framesets Brent made for the Clif Bar team back in … 1999? He thought of me when ordering the tubes for no good reason I can think of, other than that he was and is a righteous dude, dudes. And thus I always have a solid backup in the pit, though it’s rare to have to pit before the gun goes off, or even if it never does, since I haven’t raced since 2004.

Somehow this bike wound up with a 110mm, 6° Ritchey WCS stem, which is ridiculous for an inflexible elder of the geezer persuasion, and after a steady diet of shorter, taller stems (and frankly, fatter tires) I often found myself in my own way while horsing it around and about on the local singletrack.

Happily, I didn’t have an audience, it being a workday for the plebes. I like to be laughed at for a narrow selection of reasons, one of which is not the way I ride a ’cross bike on trails.

So, yeah. Yesterday morning I found a 100mm, 25° Giant stem in the parts bin and slapped that on. Boy, did that ever make a difference. It felt like a new bike, if I overlooked the crust of filth, the death-rattle of the beat-to-shit Shimano 600 rear derailleur, and a number of other oversights in dire need of correction.

Afterward, I patched the leak in Steelman No. 1’s front tube, because as any ’crosser will confirm, a pit with no spare bike is the pits.

Running off at the mouth

October 19, 2018

Keep running, big fella. The first ton is the hardest.

Yup, it’s that time of year again.

Something about vile weather, a lack of paying work and the fact that I have all this goddamned technology cluttering up the joint drives me right into the cold mechanical clutches of podcastery.

I don’t know why. I’m a writer first, a cartoonist second, and a back-alley videographer third. An editor if nobody else is available and the pay is medium-heavy. So it’s not as though I lack for creative outlets.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never earned a dime from podcasting. It’s playtime rather than paytime.

Things might have been different had I gone into radio instead of print. Today I’d be working a couple late-night shifts a month at some whistle-stop public radio station and living in a van down by the river. For recreation I’d be pitching upper-case typos at my betters on social media, spraying graffiti on an overpass by the light of a pallet fire, and guzzling cheap gin from the bottle.

Whatevs. In any case, I was glancing back through my training log and noticed that it was full of running for some reason, so I thought it might be fun to let my pie-hole out for a short jog.

And thus, for no good reason other than just because, it’s time for another episode of Radio Free Dogpatch:

• Technical notes: I recorded this episode using a Shure SM58 mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB audio interface, plugged into a late-2009 iMac. I read my script into Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack, then edited the audio in Apple’s GarageBand, where I had already built the intro/outro music out of a bunch of Apple loops. The intro/outro telephone voice is also a GarageBand deal, one of a bunch of vocal presets you can select while recording directly into GB. The running sounds I captured on Trail 365 using a Tascam DR-10L digital recorder clipped to my waistband with a lavalier mic attached to my collar.

Interbike 2018: The dream is gone

September 20, 2018

El Grande, being (ahem) gravitationally challenged, rarely participates in the Sport of Kings. Organizers grew tired of the frantic phone calls from the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado.

The inaugural RenoCross took place last night. Alas, neither I, the Mud Stud nor the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter was in attendance.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of coverage out there at 8 a.m. New Mexico time, though cxmagazine.com has a brief report, results and pix.

My colleague Steve Frothingham had contemplated doing the Wheelers & Dealers race, but his new duties may have kept him in the Show Daily office. The Fake News never sleeps, and it rarely pins on a number.

El Grande did, from time to time. But it usually got swallowed by a roll, crease or fold, and even if he finished none of the judges could see it and thus he never got his just deserts.

Sometimes he didn’t even get beered.

• Next: Relax.

All ’crossed up

December 10, 2017

I managed to take the flowers in a one-rider field. Huzzah, etc.

There’s nothing like a little cyclocross to take your mind off pretty much everything save the few meters of the Earth directly in front of your wheel.

It was chilly in the Duke City this week, and as I revisit the old training log I see that I ran twice and ’crossed twice. Didn’t get an actual road ride in until yesterday, when the temps finally inched back up into the 50s.

Running is a useful alternative to riding the road in Michelin Man kit (or worse, riding the trainer). And cyclocross is a pleasant diversion from all of these things. So I pulled the bottle cages off my favorite Steelman Eurocross, dug up the Sidis with the Time ATAC cleats, and got after it.

The trails that loop around the Sandia Foothills Open Space’s Menaul trailhead parking lot make a pretty good circuit, albeit one without much in the way of flats for motoring, which would be nice for recovery (since I have trouble motoring in my dotage).

The first course I laid out had one too-long uphill gravel run, so I made some revisions for the second outing, awarding myself two shorter runs, one at each end of the circuit. There was too much twisty singletrack, a whole shitload of cactus in various flavors, and some deep gravel that made a couple corners sketchy with 32mm clinchers at 35 psi. And it took me a few go-rounds to remember all my mad skillz from days gone by.

But I never fell over, and I even managed to amuse a couple dog-walkers who apparently had never seen an elderly fella running around wearing a perfectly rideable bike.

That Voodoo that I do

September 10, 2017

The Voodoo Nakisi, parked up near the Pino Trail outside the Elena Gallegos picnic area.

Labor Day may be the unofficial end of summer for a lot of yis, but for me, it’s always Interbike.

In the olden days, when I was still a man instead of whatever it is that I am now, I would have already squeezed at least one cyclocross under my bibs by the time Le Shew Bigge rolled around.

Your Humble Narrator working a barrier at one of those long-ago cyclocrosses.

But my final race was in 2004, and as the Last Roundup in Sin City approaches I’m mostly rolling around to no particular purpose, on whichever bike amuses me at the moment, free of licensing, race number and organizational responsibilities (that first race of each new season was usually the one I promoted).

This aimless pedaling about keeps me out of the office, where the temptation is to overload the wagon like some dumb-ass pilgrim lugging all his proud-ofs to the frontier.

Do I want to do any podcasting from Interbike? Video? If one or the other, or both, which MacBook do I take, the 13-incher or the 15-incher? Thank God I’m down to one functional camera. That’s one equipment-selection decision successfully avoided.

Unless I want to buy a new camera. …

No, goddamnit, knock that shit off. Confine yourself to the bloggery. Avoid the hernia.

I always think it would be fun to do something different, and I always wind up doing the same damn thing — wandering around with a pad and pen, talking to people, an informal process that can be knocked all to hell by these consarned newfangled ee-lectronical comosellamas.

It’s all good fun until someone gets hurt. And that someone is likely to be me. If I wanted to carry a rucksack with a hunnerd pounds of gear for money I’d join the damn Army, is what. I got the haircut already.

In other news, Red Ryder has gone to The Big Roundup In the Sky. And no, he didn’t shoot his eye out.

Stop the machine

November 15, 2016
Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Sometimes you have to start the machine to stop it.

The ticking in my head seemed a little ominous today, so after I finished a “Shop Talk” cartoon for Bicycle Retailer, consulted with a few colleagues, and walked The Boo, I stepped away from the Mac for a short, “fast” cyclocross ride, in which “fast” was in comparison to, oh, I don’t know — continental drift?

Anyway, it was a beautiful afternoon, nearly everyone I encountered seemed to be in a good mood for no good reason, and as a skull-flusher I recommend it to you without hesitation. The world will still be there when you get back.

As my man Garrison Keillor says, “politics is not everything. Life goes on.”

Unless you’re Mose Allison, that is. Goddamn. He’s left me with my mind on vacation and my mouth working overtime.