Posts Tagged ‘Interbike 2012’

Sometimes a grate notion

September 28, 2012
The bathroom grate

What a grate way to wake up on a September morning.

A scorched, musty smell and a low rumble at 5 a.m. told me that fall was indeed here, as the furnace kicked on for the first time in months.

It was something of a shock to the system, as always. It was only a few short days ago that I was motoring in a fog of my own sweat through 105-degree heat in Bullhead City, Ariz., for the dubious privilege of chasing bike parts and Scotch around Sin City, which was only a half-dozen degrees cooler.

I’m not sorry to bid adieu to a truly awful summer, but I’d sure like to hold onto sunny-and-70 for a stretch. Autumn is my favorite time to ride a bike, and I’m not ready to pull on my big-boy pants quite yet.

iBike 2012: Tools, not toys

September 26, 2012
2013 Bianchi Volpe

The venerable Bianchi Volpe gets another makeover for 2013, including a nifty powder-blue hue and retro decals.

BIBLEBURG, Colo. (MDM) — The times, how they do change.

Once upon a time my bicycle sprang from sound racing stock — first steel, then aluminum and finally carbon fiber and/or titanium — and the gearing was as manly as the showers at Paris-Roubaix. 52/42 and 12-21 constituted the standard until I moved to Santa Fe, where I was informed that 53/39 and 12-23 were better suited to the hillier terrain.

The fabled straight block came out for pan-flat time trials, of course, and for truly insane climbs one kept a cogset with a 25 or even a 27 handy.

Tires, naturally, were 700×25 — sewups for racing, clinchers for training — though I kept a pair of 28s around for one race that involved a half-dozen miles of dirt-road climbing, and for no good reason occasionally used 19s in a race against the clock.

But this was long ago, and that man is no longer with us.

Today if the bike is not steel it’s probably not mine. And the gearing — good Lord, the gearing! — has devolved to 46/34 and 12-28 on some machines. Two sport triple-ring cranks and mountain-bike rear derailleurs.

Tires likewise have ballooned. 700×28 is now a minimum rather than a maximum, and the max has gone all the way to 700×45, though the sweet spot lies somewhere between 32 and 38.

And the coup de grace? Racks and fenders. Got ’em on three bikes. Oh, the humanity.

There were lots of utilitarian machines like mine at this year’s Interbike show, from the likes of Co-Motion, Bruce Gordon, Yuba, Pashley, Velo-Orange, Bianchi, Opus, Volagi and others. And more companies are tooling up to hang useful bits on them, such as racks and fenders, panniers and trunks, bells and whistles.

What’s behind all this? Beats me. Maybe folks are sick of watching unrepentant dopers perform impossible feats on otherworldly machinery. Perhaps someone figured out that the Adventure Cycling Association has 45,000 members. And don’t forget Peak Oil — it might be nice to have something to ride to work when the last well starts farting dust.

All I know is, if this is a trend instead of a blip, I like it. A guy gets tired of staring up at lug nuts while inhaling a snootful of fragrant particulates.

iBike 2012: A body at rest

September 25, 2012
Caramillo leaves

The trees are turning big-time in Bibleburg.

BIBLEBURG, Colo. (MDM) — I’m always surprised to find myself at home after a longish road trip, because once I get that old Newtonian motion going the inclination is to keep on keepin’ on.

Why not swing down through Phoenix to McDowell Mountain Regional Park, do a bit of autumn cycling? Then drift further south to Tucson, have a bite at El Minuto. There’s some fine desert riding around Las Cruces, too, along with the High Desert Brewing Company.

Then I could head north through Socorro, refueling at El Sombrero, before pushing on to Santa Fe, where the eating, drinking and cycling opportunities are boundless. A guy can bat around there for the better part of quite some time without ever coming to rest.

Alas, I’m no longer an unencumbered twenty-something, answering only to a spindly, bad-tempered mutt and a Japanese pickup. So I took the well-worn route back to Bibleburg, picking up on an excellent set of music from the Green Chile Revival and Medicine Show on Gallup’s KGLP en route — Mary Gauthier, Stan Rogers, Fred Eaglesmith and the New Orleans Nightcrawlers — and enjoying two last norteño meals at La Choza in Santa Fe and Orlando’s in Taos before finally coming to rest back at the ranch.

It’s fall with a vengeance here, which means cool mornings and an extra blankie on the bed at night, but excellent riding weather in between. So I plan to spend as much time as is humanly possible piloting a bicycle — one with what Larry calls “after-lunch gearing” — instead of a Subaru.

iBike 2012: Leaving Las Vegas

September 22, 2012
Eastbound from Kingman at sunset.

Eastbound from Kingman at sunset.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (MDM) — Two and a half days of Interbike is just about right. Eyeball some bling, catch a bit of face time with industry cronies, drink some adult beverages and then be on your way.

Vegas is the only place I know of where one can arise in the morning without drinking heavily the night before and still feel like hammered shit. It’s a contact hangover, the parched ghosts of a billion debaucheries. That the show will move from the Sands to Mandalay Bay is only like shifting the ball-peen hammer to your left hand so you can smack yourself upside the left temple for a change of pace.

There seemed to be fewer actual bicycles at the show this year. Plenty of appetizers, side dishes and desserts, but a tad light on the main course. I wasn’t the only one who noticed this, either, though most attendees would’ve walked right past a pretty bike, eyes locked as they were onto their smartphones.

But it was encouraging to see more companies serving up transportation rather than toys — Yuba was showing some particularly interesting bikes — and more companies are offering racks, bags and other accoutrements that say “transportation” rather than “toy.”

Outside the Sands I encountered plenty of Obama supporters. You know the type: shiftless, smelly ragamuffins living on the streets, begging for alms outside shops and on street corners while awaiting the splendiferous bounty of the welfare state.

The Wal-Mart across the street from my Motel 6 in Flag’ has a scattering of folks camped in their rides despite prominent signs forbidding overnight camping. Others find nearby convenience-store/gas stations whose parking lots are big enough for a brief bivouac before pressing on.

The motel itself shelters the next step up — working-poor families packed into one room, taking the evening air with lawn chairs and coolers, enjoying a smoke. At least one room has a plant in its window. This does not bespeak a casual visitor passing through.

For me, it’s only temporary. In a few minutes I’ll be burning up the road at four smacks per gallon, bound for Bibleburg. This is a good deal easier than hoofing it like the young dude I saw as I walked back to the motel from breakfast. Equipped with haversack and dog, he asked directions to Route 66, and I provided same, warning it was a ways down the road.

“Well, it’s not like I’m not used to walking,” he said with a grin, then moved on.

iBike 2012: Bibleburg to Flagstaff

September 18, 2012
One of my favorite spots in Santa Fe. Or anywhere else, come to think of it.

One of my favorite spots in Santa Fe. Or anywhere else, come to think of it.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (MDM) — There’s nothing quite like listening to Bach’s “Art of the Fugue” while motoring through the New Mexican desert, flipping the bird to Mitt Romney billboards.

I made the usual stops en route — Ten Thousand Waves, which as usual was awesome; and Second Street Brewery, which oddly was not (I guess everyone has a bad day coming, and theirs was Sunday night).

As I barreled westward the CD player spared me the news that the RomneyBot v2.012 had managed to waffle-stomp its electronic pecker again. I didn’t catch up on that action until I came within range of KNAU just outside Flagstaff, and may I say that it’s always pleasant to have one’s worst suspicions confirmed?

The guy called slightly less than half the country a shiftless bunch of jigaboos, beaners and white-trash layabouts who while away the hours sleeping off a drunk in their Cadillacs until it’s time to cruise down to the welfare office and harvest a bale of feddle-gummint money before getting their gold tooth polished at the Mayo Clinic.

The janitors at the Republican National Committee must have had a hell of a time sweeping up all the hair on the floor after that pail of mierda hit the abanico. But I bet they were whistling while they worked.

Apple of my eye

September 14, 2012

At left, the 2012 MacBook Air. At right, the 2006 MacBook.

Well, shit. After railing against Apple in comments for relentlessly driving us toward machines we can’t repair, upgrade or otherwise alter without a visit to the Genius Bar and/or the Devil, I’ve gone and bought myself a 2012 MacBook Air, the top-shelf 11-inch model.

So, yes, I’m a hypocrite. But I’m also the new owner of a pretty cool mini-laptop.

Longtime consumers of the DogS(h)ite will know that I manage a road trip about as often as does Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Still, I do manage to slip the leash from time to time, and when I do, my companion generally is my most “modern” laptop — a 6-year-old, 13.3-inch Intel MacBook that has already blown one hard drive, smells worse than Mister Boo on a hot day and weighs as much as a WorldTour pro’s bike (with the WorldTour pro sitting on it).

I can wrench a bit on this old black MacBook. Change batteries, upgrade RAM, swap hard drives and perform other basic tasks. But it’s not exactly cutting-edge technology.

And as the road test dude for Adventure Cyclist (harumph), with Interbike looming on the horizon like a carbon-fiber meteor from Hell, I do have a certain responsibility to embrace new technology, no matter how ridiculous and/or expensive. Right? Right.

Plus I had the money and Herself said OK.

So, yeah. I have a new laptop. It’s bound to make me smarter, funnier, thinner. Ask anyone in Cupertino.

Space Horse-in’ around

September 8, 2012

The All-City Space Horse, ready to ride. I went for a 58cm this time, following a run of mostly too-short bikes, just to see what’s what.

There’s another new cayuse in the stable, albeit temporarily — an All-City Cycles Space Horse. I only have the one short ride on it so far, for all the usual reasons, but I hope to enjoy some extended saddle time next week before toddling off to Interbike to slobber over all the rest of the new toys.

All-City is one of the brands clustered under the umbrella of Quality Bicycle Products, which also covers Surly, Salsa, Foundry and Civia, among others. I stumbled across the outfit at last year’s Interbike, after a four-year absence from the show, and I liked the retro look of the Space Horse. Hey, who doesn’t pause to glance at a bike called “Space Horse?”

The bike is another one of those sturdy utilitarian steel machines I’ve grown to appreciate, like the Soma Double Cross or Surly Cross-Check. With eyelets for racks and fenders fore and aft and clearance for 700×42 rubber, it can serve as a commuter, a grocery-getter or a lightly loaded touring bike. You can also just ride the damn’ thing for the pure pleasure of riding, if that’s what blows your skirt up. But don’t expect to see any dopers riding it, penitent or otherwise, because it’s made of 4130 chromoly and a 58cm model weighs nearly 25 pounds without pedals.

The Space Horse can be had as either a complete bike or a frameset, for those of us who, like Your Humble Narrator, always seem to have at least one bike’s worth of parts cluttering up the garage, where the car wants to be. Mine arrived as a ready-to-ride bike, and beyond noting that Shimano is making the ugliest friggin’ cranksets in this universe or any other, I’ll keep my big yap shut until it’s review time.

Anybody else riding new machinery? Let us know about it in comments.