Posts Tagged ‘Soma Double Cross’

December’s desperados

December 2, 2021

A fine December morning.

December. The relentless march through the holidays toward year’s end upshifts into doubletime. Hup hroop hreep horp.

I don’t know but I been told

Winter ain’t gonna get real cold

Climate change done stole our snow

Endless summer for New Mexico

Sorry, Sarge, but that’s how it feels when the thermometer reads 63 degrees, a dozen or so degrees above normal, on Dec. 1.

Herself went for a late-afternoon run in her summer kit. Me, I rode in long sleeves and knickers, but I got out earlier than she did and was generating a slight wind chill despite my usual torrid pace.

The Soma Double Cross, back to its dirty roots.

The mean streets did not appeal (something to do with drink-addled, lead-sneakered gunsels), so I chose the Soma Double Cross with its fat tires and we skulked around various dusty foothill trails and side streets for about 90 minutes.

The DC in its present incarnation — cantilever brakes, eight-speed drivetrain with bar-cons, etc. — is kind of an old-school cyclocross bike, if you overlook its triple crankset, long-cage XT rear derailleur, and 43mm Soma Cazadero tires. Plus its stem is too long and too low. And I wouldn’t use a wide-profile brake like the IRD Cafam II on the rear end if I were jumping on and off the bike the way I did when I was a sprightly young fellow. I carved my right leg like a Christmas turkey once and further instruction was not required.

The too-long stem makes me think about adding a set of top-mounted brake levers, but it would be simpler to just replace the stem, if I could find a replacement, which I can’t. The Great Parts Drought of 2021 continues, especially where weirdo bikes and oddball dimensions are concerned.

Later it was movie night, with pizza and salad. Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” is a beautiful, disturbing film, and we’re probably going to have to watch it again this weekend to see if what we think we saw was actually what we saw. This ain’t exactly John Wayne, pilgrim. Afterward I had to break out the old family Bible and use it as a decoder ring.

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. …

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.

Socially and vertically distancing

May 17, 2020

Herself burning up the road to the Sandia Peak Tramway
on her trusty Soma Double Cross.

Here we see Herself motoring up Tramway Road as some stove-up auld fella pauses to take a snap with his obsolete iPhone SE.

The auld fella, who was aboard a Soma Saga, may have been feeling the effects of a couple days’ worth of yardwork. But he’ll probably blame the ankle. Or Obama. Or the fake news.

How many moments in a day?

June 3, 2019

The Soma Double Cross in light-shopper configuration.

It being World Bicycle Day, I thought I’d go for a run, then do some light resistance training.

I’m funny that way. Maybe not.

Still, days, weeks, months, and years don’t much interest me. I’m more about moments.

Anyway, the run was delightful. Lots of flowers around and about, on cacti and elsewhere. Headwind out, tailwind home. It was already 71 degrees by the time I started pounding ground at 8:30 in the a.m., so when I got home and started lifting I actually had to crack a window on the shady side of the house, let a little cool air into the “gym.”

I did get out on a bike, eventually. Herself was out of rosé, and since no less an authority than the United Nations has described the bicycle as “a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation,” I decided to cycle up to the grocery to fetch some.

Rosé, not bicycles. Bicycles we got, and then some.

Didn’t see a single grizzly, but then I wasn’t on a mountain bike. Anyway, I was focused on the automobiles, which are a good deal more numerous than grizzlies and even deadlier.

Speaking of deadly, there was a time when Apple could’ve nailed me with a new Mac Pro. But this ain’t it. Doing my little bit of business with one of these bad boys would be like using Thor’s Mjölnir as a tack hammer.

Wind and water

March 29, 2019

Wisterical.

You know it’s spring in New Mexico when (a) you have to water the wisteria and (2) the wind is blowing about a jillion miles per hour.

Nonetheless, Ride Your Own Damn Bike™ continues with a vengeance. Since I ran out of review machinery I’ve been on the Voodoo Nakisi, Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, Nobilette, Bianchi Zurigo and Soma Double Cross (this last for a grocery run).

Today it was Sam Hillborne’s turn. Didn’t quite beat the wind home, but in New Mexico if you don’t ride in the wind, you’ll never leave home.

I suppose I should be following the adventures of Douche Baggins in “Lard of the Rings,” but I just can’t seem to warm up to Frodo’s ne’er-do-well cousin and his trouser stains from New Hobbiton. They make the Sackville-Bagginses look like the Kennedys.

Mirror, mirror

January 7, 2019

Mirror, mirror, on the bar; who’s the loony in that car?

I got back on the bike on Saturday for a short spin to blow the ol’ carbon out of the cylinders.

The roads were crusty and dusty, where they weren’t wet and/or icy, so I needed something with fenders (the Soma DC) plus winter tights and a truly ancient Pearl Izumi hi-viz jacket. Seriously, this Day-Glo duster must date to 1994 or thereabouts. It’s old enough to be living in our basement (if we had one) while we paid off its college loans. “B.A.” stands for “barista’s assistant?” Who knew?

There were lots of hi-viz jackets and tights traversing Tramway, so I guess everyone was as sick as I was of huddling indoors or shoveling snow. But boom, come Sunday, we were back in the icebox and I decided to go for a squishy run instead of a second ride.

This time we got rain, which was a nice change. Don’t gotta shovel no rain.

Speaking of shoveling, I see Wally O’Steele hopes to lie straight to our faces in prime time tomorrow, eliminating the middleman (the “fake news”).

I don’t believe that the networks’ news departments are obliged to broadcast fiction — that’s the purview of their entertainment divisions — so p’raps the usual filters will remain in place.

Or maybe Comedy Central could air this piece of performance art, with Garrett Morris on a split screen, riffing on an old “Weekend Update” bit from “Saturday Night Live.”

It’d be a two-fer — delivering news for the deaf from the dumb.

• Late update: The networks blew the call, from James Fallows.

Albatross!

July 3, 2018

The Soma Double Cross in townie configuration.

Lots of bikey stuff going on around here lately. It makes a welcome distraction from the news, which as per usual is mostly bad. And likewise from the weather, which is mostly hot.

Since my Voodoo Wazoo has become a kinda-sorta 700c mountain bike, I decided to turn the Soma Double Cross into a townie for short hops hither and thither, or even long ones.

The Double Cross had been rigged as a light touring bike, with XT triple crank and eight-speed XT rear derailleur, drop bar, bar-end shifters, and aero levers (augmented with top-mounted brake levers) to operate the Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis. Now it sports an Albatross bar and Dia-Compe SS-6 brake levers from Rivendell, and of course the bar-cons stuck around for the ride.

Albatross!

At 27.2 pounds it’s nearly 5 pounds lighter than either of my Soma Saga touring bikes, so it makes for a sporty little errand boy.

The Bianchi Orso 105, up against The Wall of Science.

Meanwhile, the next bike in the Adventure Cyclist review pipeline is a Bianchi Orso with 11-speed 105 STI, hydraulic stoppers and thru-axles. Quite the technological advance from eight-speed XT with bar-cons, rim brakes and quick-releases, or so the industry would have you believe. Engineers gotta engineer, marketers gotta market. Still, I wonder when we’re going to run out of 50/34 cranks and 11-32 cassettes so a brother can get a touring drivetrain up in this bitch.

All this wrenching and riding and whatnot makes a feller hungry, so last night I whipped up a mess of chicken tacos in salsa verde with a side of Mexican rice. Anybody who thinks I make a shambles as a mechanic should see what I did to the kitchen. It was worth it, though. And now we have leftovers. Huzzah, etc.

Rain, rain, go away. …

May 10, 2017

We drove out of that to ride the Paseo del Bosque and whaddaya know? I didn’t even need knickers, much less the rain jacket.

Yesterday I laid down my hammer and sickle and took time out for a refreshing spin with Friend of the Blog™ Pat O’Brien, who with his lovely bride Sandy popped round to see what’s what in the Duke City.

I didn’t document this major tourism event with photography, because frankly I didn’t think we’d get ‘er done. It was raining when Pat arrived in his manly Toyota Tacoma to pick me up for the drive to the Paseo del Bosque’s Alameda trailhead, and the forecast was grim indeed.

But my iPhone photo above depicts the worst of it. Down by the Rio the weather was warm and windy, and we did the full lollipop, riding south, then curving in a northeasterly direction to Rio Bravo before returning to the bosque trail for a (mostly) tailwind-supported return.

We were both aboard Somas, naturally. Pat rode his Saga whilst I piloted the old Double Cross, freshly equipped with SKS fenders just in case. This, and the fact that we both carried rain jackets, is almost certainly why the clouds didn’t open up during the ride.

Back at El Rancho Pendejo I learned that a deluge had struck DeeCee, washing away the stain on democracy that was Jim Comey. King Donald the Short-fingered, alas, remains perched atop his golden throne, his personal roll of Constitution toilet paper close at hand. Here’s hoping it’s a harder rain gonna fall on his crooked highway before much longer.