Posts Tagged ‘New Albion Privateer’

Sea Notter

October 9, 2021

We have a sea, but it’s grass. No otters in sight.

I’m not at Sea Otter. Can you tell from the pic?

Being parked at home and mildly bored, I’ve been awarding various neglected bikes some outside time. The DBR Prevail TT, Soma Double Cross, Voodoo Nakisi, and Jones all have been granted furloughs from their hooks this month, while the New Albion Privateer takes a well-deserved break.

Today’s clouds: Not that ominous.

On Thursday I was riding the Nakisi, and not well. The trails are deep sand in some spots and gullied in others, the 700×43 Bruce Gordons were probably pumped up a tad too hard, and my mad skillz — well, the less said about them the better. I was dabbing everywhere.

So yesterday I took the Jones out for a spin on the same trails, and it was mucho bettero, as we say south of the border. Still rolling a wee bit overinflated, but since the tires were big ol’ 29×2.4 muthas at least I wasn’t embarrassing myself. Not much, anyway.

And there’s still quite an audience out there enjoying this fine fall weather instead of putting nose to grindstone for The Man. Hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, and cyclists, most of the latter astride your consarned dadblasted newfangled whizbangs with the 1x drivetrains, boingy bits front and rear, hydraulic discs, dropper posts, and what have you.

Cain’t even fit a proper water bottle in there anywheres. Gotta wear a backpack with a sack in it, suck on a hose like a deadbeat siphoning gas from a workin’ feller’s car.

Speaking of the ol’ suckee-suckee, the WaPo warns that fall might be turning a tad winterish for some of yis. Get the chimbley swept and keep your snow shovel and long johns where you can find ’em in the dark. Don’t want to be caught with your drawers down and your arse in the wind when Thor starts swinging his hammer.

Cheap dates

October 6, 2021

If you had seen this sky yesterday, your first thought would not have been, “Bet it’s gonna rain tomorrow.”

I was lazing in the bed this morning, contemplating the day ahead.

“Maybe I’ll ride the Jones down south, check out the trails below Menaul,” I mused. “Or I could take the New Albion Privateer out east past Tijeras. Haven’t ridden the Voodoo Nakisi in a while — I wonder how crowded it’ll be around Elena Gallegos.”

Then, I stretched, got up, and headed for the reading room, where I heard the pitter-patter of … raindrops on the skylight?

Raindrops? Who ordered the raindrops?

Well. Shit. What a delightful gift. Maybe the skeeters will all catch pneumonia, or drown. Sonsabitches made an amuse-bouche of my ankles last evening as I chatted with a neighbor. Go bite a Republican, you disease-spreading bloodsuckers. Wouldn’t you be happier dining on your own kind?

No, not you, neighbor. The skeeters.

In other news, friend and colleague Nick Legan blazed through town on Monday. He was motoring down from Colorado to oversee a video shoot for Shimano, and hollered at me from the road, so we had him over to the rancheroo for some medium-heavy refreshments before he had to get down to business supervising the artistes.

Afterward Nick asked for a tour of the garage, where he complimented me on The Fleet, observing cannily that clearly I favored the “affordable bike.” Which is true.

The Soma Double Cross, back to its dirty roots.

It’s possible to spend a great deal of money on bicycles, or even a bicycle, or at least look as though you have (cough, cough, bro’ deal, cough). But it’s not necessary. So there’s a lot of old steel in my armory, where modernity has to make do with representation by nine-speed Ultegra STI.

Lately I’ve been riding bikes from Merry Sales — either a Soma Saga (now discontinued) or the New Albion Privateer — and if I had to drastically thin my herd these two would probably make the cut.

For sure the Privateer would. It’s a versatile, affordable, eye-catching beastie and up for just about anything, from cross-town to cross-country.

All told we have five Merry Sales machines in The Fleet — two Soma Sagas, two Soma Double Crosses, and the New Albion Privateer. It all started with me buying a Double Cross for Herself. I was so impressed that I bought another for myself. Over the years it’s been a cyclocross bike, a light-touring bike, and a townie-slash-grocery bike.

It’s been the latter for a while now, and I found I was rarely riding it, in part because I’ve been making fewer and heavier grocery trips during the Plague Years, and in part because I never really warmed up to that configuration (swept-back bar, bolt-upright position, flat pedals).

So the other day I turned it back into a cyclocross bike, kinda-sorta, with eight-speed Shimano bar-end shifters, a vintage XT FC-M730 triple and newer XT/Ultegra derailleurs, PD-M540 SPDs, battered Shimano 600 brake levers and IRD Cafam cantis, 700×42 Soma Cazadero tires, Deda Elementi 215 handlebar, and a Ritchey WCS stem that’s just a hair too long and too low.

I even resurrected a beat-to-shit Selle Italia Flite saddle and some Off the Front handlebar tape for the project. Remember Off the Front? Bruce and Jodie Ruana? Started out cutting up shower curtains in SoCal, then set up a small home factory in Nevada, and finally fled the bike biz altogether for straight jobs so they could live to tell the tale.

Anyway, all of a sudden I’ve been riding the shit out of my Double Cross. And what fun it is, too. I did a three-day credit-card tour on it back in 2012 and had a delightful time. Lately I’m just pooting around town, on and off pavement as the spirit moves.

Your modern Double Cross has taken a distinctly gravelish turn, with disc brakes, more bottom-bracket drop, and more mounts for this and that. Different strokes, as the fella says. I bet it’s just swell, for those of you who demand all them consarned newfangled whizbangs, whatchamacallits, and comosellamas.

Me, I’ll stick to my old-school DC, thanks all the same. But that Soma Pescadero sure looks interesting. …

‘Story!’ cried the Editor

June 3, 2021

My last piece for Adventure Cyclist.

It’s hard to retire when you don’t have a job.

It’s even harder when you have a couple-three-four of them.

Still, I keep trying to find that hole in the fence, because I am a persistent mutt.

I successfully “retired” from my last real job in 1991, when I bid adios to The New Mexican and took up the uncertain life of a freelance cycling scribe. I like to think I beat the rush to the door. The writing was already popping up on newspaper walls from coast to coast, and I wasn’t one of the lucky few who would be offered a buyout. Mine would be more like a “Get out!”

So, rather than wait for the shove, I jumped.

Other separations have followed in the 30 years since I hit that door running, or maybe cycling. Either the magazines have gone away or I have.

This month brings my departure from Adventure Cyclist. It was an amicable separation. Deputy editor Dan Meyer asked if I wanted to review a bike; I thought about it for a bit, then replied, “No, thanks.”

It may sound impulsive, but it really wasn’t. I have outlived Mike Deme, the editor who brought me aboard. His successor, Alex Strickland, has moved on to another job, as have colleagues John Schubert, Nick Legan, and others.

It’s been 10 years. The bike biz is moving in directions that mostly don’t interest me. I’m an old white guy who doesn’t need the work or the money and should really just get the hell out of the way.

Also, my last two pieces, about the New Albion Privateer and the march of technology, practically wrote themselves. This could not continue. Call it a premonition: By the pricking of my thumbs, something banjaxed this way comes.

So I jumped.

Mike and Adventure Cyclist came around at exactly the right time. I was in something of a rut, basically just going through the motions, and reviewing touring bikes forced me into new ways of thinking. Alex and Dan continued Mike’s generosity. I had big fun and made good money, and now it’s time someone else had a taste.

A thousand thank-yous to everyone who enjoyed my reviews. And if any of yis bought a bike on my say-so, may the road rise up to meet you. With the rubber side down, of course.

If you can’t say anything nice. …

January 8, 2021

It’s not Cold Mountain, but then again I’m not Han Shan, either.

I know a lot of bad words. None of them seemed bad enough for what I saw yesterday.

So I went out to finish shooting some video for Adventure Cyclist. It was not a speaking role.

Velocirapture

October 9, 2020

I think the place is closed. Call it an inspired guess.

I took a leisurely ride to Tijeras and back yesterday, with a brief detour to Carlito Springs Open Space.

The place is shuttered for “improvements” — to wit, “roads, additional parking capacity,” etc., et al., and so on and so forth. I’m going on 67 and managed to make the trip via bicycle, but never you mind that, Captain Elitist, with your fancy-schmancy velocipede, outlandish getup, and life of socialist leisure. Some of us have to work for a living.

En route along Old Route 66 I caught up with a group of bicycle tourists bound for Las Cruces. In ordinary circumstances we might have ridden together for a while, discussed the route, gear, eternal verities, and whatnot.

Alas, the circumstances are far from ordinary, so we exchanged compliments from a social distance and went our separate ways. Mine was considerably less challenging, but someone has to be around to reheat the jambalaya while Herself brings home the bacon.

Saddle, up

September 23, 2020

Say, is it my imagination, or is that cloud flipping me the bird?

If you had told me back in January that I wouldn’t ride down to the bosque until September 22, I would’ve given you the old hee, and also the haw.

But it’s true. Between the busted ankle and The Bug® a trip to the bosque has felt either impossible or unwise.

I have a bike to review for Adventure Cyclist, though. And the Paseo del Bosque trail is one of my stock routes for these projects. So yesterday off we went, the New Albion Privateer and I, to see what we could see.

I only saw a handful of other users on the Paseo bike path.

It was a short visit —  from the Alameda trailhead to the Paseo del Norte bike path. Too many people, and not nearly enough masks. Mind you, this was around 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, not a weekend.

I felt safer on the streets. Feature that, if you can.

Once I left the bosque path things settled down considerably. The Paseo and North Diversion Channel paths were lightly used, as was Bear Canyon Arroyo.

As per usual I had one of those moments when I wonder whether I should be allowed to leave the house without adult supervision. Just west of the bike-ped bridge over I-25 I began sensing that something was not quite right about my position on the machine, and got off to have a look-see.

Well, duh. Seems somebody forgot to use some elbow grease on that saddle-clamp bolt, and the saddle had been gradually tipping skyward. Another degree or two and I might have slid right off the back and onto the rear rack.

That’s one way to carry a load, I suppose. But I doubt that Adventure Cyclist would approve.

Cast off, matey

September 20, 2020

The New Albion Privateer, in matte black.

There’s a new ship in the harbor: a New Albion Privateer.

The temptation is to load it down, saddle up, and sail away. But to where?

Lacking a passport, I’m restricted to the lower 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii being something of a long bunny-hop by bike. I don’t think Hans Rey could make either in one go, even if he started with a bean feast, a lit fart, and a tailwind.

Unfortunately, several of my preferred bolt holes are either hot as blazes or actually on fire. And if I leave New Mexico, I face a 14-day quarantine when I return.

Plus, Herself would have to rassle up her own grub in my absence, in addition to working for our living, catering to Miss Mia Sopaipilla, and assisting the assisted-living place with Herself the Elder, who recently took another digger, this time breaking her right wrist.

HtE is issued a fresh 14-day quarantine every time she leaves assisted living to see a sawbones, which is not nearly as much fun as seeing the road unfold before you from the saddle of a brand-new bicycle.

This is a review bike, of course. Merry Sales provided frame, fork, and a big box of bits, but the Great Parts Shortage of 2020 being more or less ongoing, I had to contribute a few items from my personal collection, among them a wheelset, inner tubes, saddle, and brakes.

Between us it made for a pretty tasty build, and I can’t say much more than that until the paying customers get theirs. In the meantime, I’m getting mine.

Still sticking pretty close to home, though. I’m not getting too far away from the mailbox until our ballots show up. That’s a review I can’t wait to write.

Bonus non-political content

August 1, 2020

The first blue-skies shot of August.

Six months.

That’s how long it’d been since I last visited a bike shop. Until yesterday, when I popped round to Two Wheel Drive to return the Surly Disc Trucker I reviewed for Adventure Cyclist magazine.

Happily, the lads have not been wasting away, praying for a visitation by a stove-up senior citizen on a fixed income with the spending power of a junior partner in a corner lemonade stand.

They have product to sell — including a freshly scored size run of the 2021 Kona Unit X — and shortly after I lurched in, so did a couple of actual customers, while another pair queued up outside (house rules).

Manager Zach took a minute to pitch me on the joys of the Kona Electric Ute, even offering to turn me loose on the floor model. But I passed, figuring his time was more profitably spent with the paying clientele. Zach owns an E-Ute, and says it makes a fine car replacement, suitable for fetching groceries and transporting rug monkeys.

Our cars are both paid for, and we don’t use them much; we’re even getting a discount from our insurance company for letting them rot in the garage. Still, I think it would be interesting to have a go at a one-car life.

The biggest hurdle for me is (wait for it) the advancified futuristical Jetsonian technology. Sitting here at the desk I can see eight battery-powered devices without swiveling my head. I don’t really want any more.

Tell you what I do find interesting: The Soma Pescadero. Which of course is completely sold out.

Until a new run arrives sometime in November or December, I’m compelled to contemplate a cousin, the New Albion Privateer, the only other rim-brake frame available from the Merry Sales folks.

Merry’s Stan Pun says the Privateer “is like a [Soma] Double Cross with a lower BB height, longer chainstays and heavier tubes.” At a glance it seems to slot in neatly between the Pescadero and Saga. As the owner of one Double Cross and two Sagas, I’m intrigued.

And of course what we really need around here is another bicycle. N+1, baby, N+1.