Posts Tagged ‘Steelman Eurocross’

Could be worse. …

August 2, 2021

August slipped in wearing its gray flannel suit.

Sixty-four degrees at 8 a.m., with a monochromatic sky and a forecast that would have Noah muttering, “Not again,” as he reached wearily for the red phone next to his spyglass and Mae West.

“Hello, San Diego Zoo? Two of everything, please, chop-chop. No, no delivery necessary. I’ll pick ’em up. Just truck ’em up to Hot Springs Mountain and keep a sharp lookout for a real big boat.”

Welcome to August.

It’s not what I expected, frankly. With The Visitation on hiatus and my calendar remarkably free of to-do items I had been pondering a brief escape from the sodden Duke City to air-dry the old brain-case.

Fewer deer, more roses.

But the weather is proving uncooperative, and it seems silly to drive somewhere else to watch it rain when I can do that right here at home.

Especially since travel involves either a cheerless motel room that was no bargain before the daily rent shot into the mid-two-hundies (plus you can’t find one anyway), or pitching a tent in a flaming puddle full of vampire bugs, shape-shifting cooties, and hobos who wish all these slumming hipster dickheads would just dig into their Hilton points and piss off so they could enjoy their mulligan stew and squeeze in peace.

Masque of the Dread Breath

Well, at least we’re back to the face panties again, hey? Some of us, anyway. The checker was not up for casual banter as I hit the Sprouts to replenish the larder, possibly because The Great Remasking seemed to be a few faces short of a full team effort at 9:30 on a gloomy Sunday morning.

I had noted some diamonds on my windshield during the drive to the grocery and was hoping the actual tears from heaven would hold off long enough for me to sneak in a quick ride without fenders or jacket.

Sure, we need the moisture. And no desert dweller should bitch about rain, unless he parks his shopping cart in an arroyo. But I’m just enough of a hipster dickhead to need the ride, too.

With the deer rustling their own grub up in the hills we were getting a rerun of roses in the yard, so, yay. But the murky mornings and low ceilings recalled Corvallis, Oregon, the only place I’ve ever lived without a bicycle.

The clouds sagged all the way down to the ground in that burg. The moist walls of my tiny apartment closed in around me like hungry freegans swarming a Whole Paycheck Dumpster and the firewood steamed before it burned in the cheap tin wood stove.

A neighbor’s ducks loved that climate, quacking contentedly outside my bedroom window. I drank a lot.

Horses for courses

Back home, with the groceries put away, I took another glance at the sky and decided to go for it. I used to race cyclocross, I thought. I’ve covered school-board meetings. I can do anything for an hour.

I felt another drizzle tuning up as I approached the base of the short climb to the tram. So I swung around and headed back south, weaving Tramway and a network of foothills avenues into a rolling 20-miler. It was just the ticket. Smoove like butter and dry as a good martini.

Today — eh, not so much. The rain started before I even left the house.

I thought about taking the day off, but I ride with a small group of graybeards on Mondays and Wednesdays, and had already committed to the meetup. I had a feeling they’d be out in it, and it was unfortunate that I had mentioned my fondness for cyclocross in their presence.

So I left the New Albion Privateer parked and pulled a Steelman Eurocross down from its hook. A cyclocross bike for cyclocross weather. A man must carry on.

Sharp-dressed man

I stuffed a jacket into a jersey pocket to make sure the rain stopped, but it didn’t work. Didn’t matter, either. The rain continued, but never turned into a frog-strangler; it was barely even chilly, though I kept my arm warmers on. The jacket stayed in its pocket.

And yes, the geezers were all there. And yes, the Steelman drew many admiring glances. So yes, I’ve fooled ’em again.

At one point as we took shelter under a tree there was a short discussion about cutting a climb and subsequent descent from the usual route. It ended when one of us (not me) observed, “Well, we’re already wet, so. …”

So on we rode, taking the downs along with the ups.

It made me wonder what I’d been missing by not riding a bicycle in Oregon. I mean, I was gonna get wet anyway.

Monsoon Weekend

July 7, 2021

The Paseo del Bosque was lush and green, even humid.

That’d be a good name for a band, hey? “Monsoon Weekend.” What kind of music, do you think? Blues? Shoegaze? Emo?

We’ve had a bit of a tuneup for what is supposed to be a dampish Saturday and Sunday, so when I rolled down to the bosque yesterday for the first time in quite a while I was aboard the Soma Saga disc, which still wears its fenders.

Good call. I had to surf a few puddles. And the extra weight of themoplastic mudguards, rear rack, and dynamo hub made it good training for … for … for what, exactly? I have no idea. I am neither racing nor touring. Just riding.

Taking a break in the Elena Gallegos Open Space

It was a nice change from my usual loops through the foothills, though. It’s easy to build a 20-mile circuit with 1,500 to 2,000 feet of vertical out here, but you know what they say about familiarity and contempt.

To disrupt the monotony I’ve been switching bikes — Soma Saga disc, Saga canti, New Albion Privateer, Nobilette, Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, even the Bianchi Zurigo Disc, the only alloy-and-carbon steed in the stable — but sometimes an old cowboy needs a new trail.

Speaking of which, I was doing a casual road ride with a couple other guys today. For no particular reason I was on a Steelman Eurocross, and it goes without saying that pretty much whenever a dirty alternative to asphalt presented itself I was on it like a dog on a bone.

I never jumped off and ran, though. That would’ve been rude.

Sanitized for your protection

April 14, 2021

The new descent.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on the Elena Gallegos trails lately. But somebody has been putting in the hours over there. And not on a bike, either.

Two rocky stretches have had the kinks ironed out of them, which is both good and bad.

The old climb out of the sand pit has been rendered impassable.

Good in that they’re much easier to ride on a cyclocross bike now. And bad in that they’re much easier to ride on a cyclocross bike now.

One I usually rode as a short descent. It was a real tooth-rattler, rocky and rutted, and I always took a good look around at the top because I didn’t want to meet anyone coming up when I was halfway down. It dumped into a sand pit and turned into a short, rocky climb with poor line of sight, so I usually hit the bell a time or two on the out of the pit.

The other I generally rode as a short climb after a longish rocky descent. It required some negotiation with medium-sized stones in tight corners, and I occasionally dabbed because it looked like it should have been easier than it was.

Well, they’re both easy now, which means people will be riding them faster, even me. No good deed goes unpunished.

Rocket Grrrls

November 23, 2020

Check the speed on the Cateye. I wasn’t that slow all day long,
but I was pretty damn close.

The weather has taken a seasonal turn. Yesterday I waited overlong to get out for a ride and the wind bullied me, getting all up in my grill no matter which direction I was headed.

The nice thing about riding a cyclocross bike on a day like this is that it gives you more options for dodging the breeze. So I swapped pavement for trail and trail for pavement as necessary for a little over an hour, jinking this way or that if the wind or some maskless eejit loomed large dead ahead.

When I got tired of playing meteorological and virological hide-and-seek I headed for home through High Desert. I had glimpsed what I thought was a pair of roadies behind me as I ground along in too big a gear past the Bear Canyon Trailhead, and figured they’d hang a right on Spain, but nope.

It was two women from the Rocket Grrrls squad on either ’cross bikes or gravel bikes, and they passed me on the short climb to Wilderness Estates, where a short connector trail leads to the Embudito Trailhead and the pavement that takes me back to El Rancho Pendejo.

They were on fire, too. Rocket Grrrls indeed. I didn’t bother to get off to check for flats or rubbing brake pads. I’ve ridden with Karen Hornbostel, Mari Holden, Dede Demet, Alison Dunlap, and Katie Compton, if only briefly and without distinction, and I know when I’ve been chicked.

Happy solstice

December 21, 2019

The Sandias, as captured by my “new” iPhone SE.

O sweet irony, that the first day of winter should be the warmest we’ve had all week.

Your Humble Narrator has been doing more running than riding lately, so once the temperature inched past 45 I scooted out the door with a Steelman Eurocross and logged a refreshing 90 minutes on mixed terrain.

I didn’t want to ride a bunch of road, because all the drivers are drunk and texting relatives about what size orthopedic socks to buy Uncle Junior for Christmas and will they fit under his ankle monitor. And I didn’t want to ride a bunch of trails because all the cyclists are using them to hide from the drunk, texting drivers. Thus, “mixed terrain.” Keep the fuckers guessing.

I took my “new” iPhone SE with me, but didn’t think to take any snaps until I got home. The transition from iPhone 5 to iPhone SE was surprisingly simple — swap SIM cards, charge and boot the SE, load it with an iTunes backup of the 5, zip and zip and zip. Mere minutes only. And everything seems to be working. Even the old Tech 21 case fits like a glove.

It goes without saying that my first two calls on the “new” phone came from bots. But I’m saying it anyway.

And I’m also saying, “A happy solstice to thee and thine.” Grianstad Sona Daoibh!

At ’cross purposes

October 10, 2019

Oh, yeah: It’s fall.

When the temps dip I head straight for the chile — green, red, or green-and-red — and the cyclocross bikes.

The eats lately have included turkey tacos with red Mexican rice; a red-chile posole; and a green-chile stew heavy on diced chicken thighs and spuds.

This bike will even work in California, because you don’t have to plug it in.

And the cycling? Lately it involves singletrack and my second-best Steelman, a red Eurocross that Brent built as part of an arrangement with the Clif Bar team back in the late Nineties or early 2000s.

It’s a snappy climber in the 34 x 28, but a little harsh on the bumpy stuff coming down, possibly because of the oversized, shaped True Temper top and down tubes, which have an aluminum vibe to them.

Yesterday, while climbing a trail that sensible people ride downhill, and certainly not on a ’cross bike, I successfully dodged a perambulating tarantula only to screw the pooch on a recently rearranged rocky bit (the trail fairies have been shifting the furniture around again). Caught between a rock and a hard place it was either plant a foot or take a dive. Bah, etc.

I need to reassess the cockpit configuration on this beastie. I half-assed it when I swapped stems a while back, grabbing an old Giant from the treasure chest; what I need is an entirely new stem and handlebar, the latter with a shorter reach and drop.

Plus I’ve always disliked this bike’s chunky aftermarket Shimano STI levers, which seem designed for the jumbo mitts of lesser primates. Oook ook ook.

Now that I think of it, what I really need is for Brent Steelman to come out of retirement and make me one of his old CCs, slightly updated for our modern world, such as it is. Now that was a go-anywhere, do-anything bike, back before any marketing smarties spitballed a few pitchable monikers for the category.

Drip grind

April 17, 2019

Welcome to the jungle.

Yesterday I rolled the dice and came up winners.

Come spring I dial the running back to once a week, usually Monday. But Monday was just too damn’ nice to pound ground, so I took Steelman Eurocross No. 1 out for a spin around the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

Don’t be gruel to a heart that’s true. (h/t the Checkered Demon
via S. Clay Wilson.)

Tuesday was a tossup. LIke Monday, it served up some prime cycling weather, but Wednesday’s forecast called for rain, and I hate a squishy trail. So I ran.

And a good thing too, because today is reminding me of my days slaving for an afternoon daily in Oregon, only without the mold, slugs, and bottomless drams of Jameson with Guinness backs.

I still get that 4 a.m. wakeup call, since Herself is an early riser. But at least I’m not the one who has to leave a warm, dry house to work. Give my umbrella to the Rain Dogs.

Riding the (temperature) range

April 15, 2019

Everything’s growing in the yard, including
the amount of time I spend mowing it.

Yesterday was one of those days when you stare into the kit drawer thinking, “Fuck it, I’ll just take it all.”

The temperature was 33 degrees when I first checked in the ayem, and topped out at 74. That’s quite a range. Had it been a song, not even Roy Orbison could’ve sung it.

Steelman Eurocross No. 1 on the high side of Tramway Lane.

Oddly, it never felt quite that warm; not to me, anyway. El Rancho Pendejo is a dark house, lodged at the bottom of a cul-de-sac, and cool morning air drifts down the hill and surrounds the joint like bad news, delivering an inaccurate perception of the actual conditions outside.

Thus I whiled away the morning serving the cats, performing domestic chores, and shouting at various websites, and didn’t start my ride until noonish.

I set out with arm and knee warmers. But while I pulled the arm bits off toward the end, the knee ones stayed on, in accordance with the Bostick Rule, which went something like “Cover your knees under 65 degrees.”

What a beautiful day for a two-hour ride on a cyclocross bike*, though. A little pavement, a little dirt, a lot of laughs. You won’t catch me crying on a day like that.

* Batteries not included.

Alto

March 18, 2019

Temps remain a bit below normal in the Duke City, but you don’t have to shovel cool.

Stop? Not me.

It was a gorgeous St. Patrick’s Day in the Duke City, and everybody and his/her granny was out and about, trying to sweat out the remnants of Gaelic brain eraser.

I awarded myself a day off from riding other people’s bikes and used one of my own, the Steelman Eurocross pictured in yesterday’s post.

The great thing about a ’cross bike — the original gravel bike, don’t you know — is that you can ride it pretty much anywhere. And that’s exactly what I did. Pavement, good and bad; singletrack; two-track, whatever.

For instance, it’s great fun to zip down Tramway Road from Juniper Hill, pull a U at the bottom, and ride back up the gullied trail that parallels it instead of grinding along next to the hordes of goggling tram-bound tourists.

It would be easier on a modern gravel bike, like Salsa’s Journeyman Claris 650, with its 2.1-inch 650b’s and low end of 30×34. The Steelman maxes out at 700×33 and a bottom of 36×28.

But if God wanted our lives to be easier He wouldn’t have given us Il Douche.

Santa Protection Factor

December 23, 2018

Oh, the weather outside is … frightful?

I hope jolly ol’ St. Nick remembers to slather on the SPF 50 when he brings all my toys to the Duke City. Unless he wants his snoot to get redder than Rudolph’s.