Archive for the ‘Bicycle travel’ Category

Indoor sports

April 3, 2014
Oak Creek Grade, between Cañon City and Weirdcliffe, where a fella is definitely gonna want something lower than 30x30.

Oak Creek Grade, between Cañon City and Weirdcliffe, where a fella is definitely gonna want something lower than 30×30.

The silver maple in the front yard at Chez Dog wearing a thick coat of snowy goodness.

The silver maple in the front yard at Chez Dog wearing a thick coat of snowy goodness.

“Man plans, God laughs,” goes the Yiddish proverb.

So, naturally, as I was contemplating the intricacies,  logistics and amusements of a bicycle tour, Management reminded me that spring is only a word, an arbitrary date on a manmade calendar.

Yesterday I was motoring around Fremont and Custer counties with the windows down, scoping out various back roads between Florence and Weirdcliffe with a Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer in the passenger seat while tugging frequently from a water bottle. Today I awakened to a few inches of heavy, wet snow on the deck, with more on the way.

No complaints here, mind you. Water from on high is water I don’t have to buy from Colorado Springs Utilities. And it sure beats being on fire.

So it looks to be a fine day for hanging around indoors, viewing with alarm. For instance, I notice that the Supremes are trying to make it less onerous for the 1 percent to run the country the way they see fit. And a Colorado judge is intent on making it harder for the 99 percent to catch them at it.

I’m starting to think Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and Alito are deserving of life terms after all. Not on the high court, mind you, but in Leavenworth, making little rocks out of big ones for their crimes against the people.

No foolin’

April 1, 2014
The Salsa Vaya, coming to an Adventure Cyclist issue near you.

The Salsa Vaya, coming to an Adventure Cyclist issue near you.

It’s New Bike Week here at Mad Dog Media, a 57cm Salsa Vaya 2 having arrived just in time for what passes for spring in these parts (37 degrees, 10-mph wind, etc., et al., and so on and so forth).

The Vaya is Salsa’s touring and “road adventure” bike — hey, all the roads are an adventure in these parts, Sparky — and it sports all the usual goodies, from braze-ons for racks and fenders and three bottle cages to a Shimano 105 10-speed drivetrain to some big ol’ honkin’ 700×40 Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires that weigh 940g (!) apiece.

The color is Smokey Blue Robinson, in case you were wondering.

We went for our maiden voyage yesterday, just an hour or so of chewing on the wind and inspecting some recently concluded work on the north-south bike path (fresh concrete, yay!). Once the temps inch up a bit we’ll do it again, because the weather wizards are calling for a chance of rain or snow Wednesday night.


Trailer trash

March 1, 2014

Your snow of snows

February 13, 2014
The Kona Sutra at Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta Park, which sits right on the North Diversion Channel trail.

The Kona Sutra at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park, which sits right on the North Diversion Channel trail.

After a few too many days of my own personal Winter Olympics (ride, try not to fall on the ice; walk, try not to fall on the ice; stay indoors, try not to fall on the ice)  I had the Subaru serviced, packed it with cycling and journalism gear, and got the hell out of a house that was starting to feel a tad too small for optimal mental health.

It was strictly a professional decision, of course. I’m reviewing another bike, the Kona Sutra, and it’s hard to evaluate a road bike if you can’t see the road for all the lumpy ice piled on the sonofabitch.

I considered Arizona, but time is short, and so is money. So I roared down to Albuquerque, set up shop in a Hilton property using Herself’s accrued points, and got to riding sans neoprene.

I shouldn’t be crowing about the lack of snow in a state so short of water, but it feels downright heavenly to ride the Paseo del Bosque Trail in shorts and short sleeves. Plus I had a small combo plate at Mary & Tito’s Cafe last night, and you just can’t find that kind of grub in Bibleburg, not even if I’m in the kitchen.

Sid Caesar got out of town, too. But he’s never coming back, more’s the pity.

Chain of fools

November 18, 2013
Hobo crossing

Riding the Rock Island Trail east, I found this sign, and the temptation proved overwhelming.

New bicycles are like strange dogs. Most are friendly, but occasionally you meet one that wants to bite you in the ass. Or worse.

While planning a minor expedition to inspect the flood-damaged southern end of the Pikes Peak Greenway, as a prelude to logging what the Adventure Cycling Association folks call a “bike overnight” before the snow flies, I put the Bootleg Hobo into the workstand for a quick chain-lube yesterday morning.

Imagine my surprise when I found a link ready to pop. I could’ve broken the chain right there in the stand using the ol’ opposable thumbs and a finger or two, no chain tool required.

I thought I’d heard an occasional clicking sound while riding the Hobo the day before, when I snapped this photo. But the thing was a demo bike that arrived with shifting issues, and I’d been dicking around with the barrel adjuster in hopes of shutting it the fuck up, so I figured it was probably a tight link somewhere. Thus the workstand, and the chain lube.


One of the washouts left over from the summer’s flooding.

So, yeah, duh. Good thing I didn’t pop that bad boy while standing to climb a hill, as I had been doing. I rarely carry a chain tool on rides, and almost never pack an extra set of testicles.

Long story short, back in the garage went the Hobo and out came the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff, which doesn’t have a chain to break. And the ride was swell, though the trail was in pretty poor repair in spots, as you can see in the other photo.

But my nuts are just fine. Thanks for asking.

Hallelujah, I’m a bum

November 10, 2013
The Cinelli Bootleg Hobo comes ready to ride, with racks, fenders and pedals.

The Cinelli Bootleg Hobo comes ready to ride, with racks, fenders and pedals.

The first review bike of the new year landed at Chez Dog on Friday.

It’s a Cinelli Bootleg Hobo, and the little bugger sorta snuck up on us as Adventure Cyclist editor Mike Deme and I prowled Interbike earlier this fall.

This Colombus Cromor bike is a nifty bit of marketing. The color is dubbed “Railway” and the Hobo motif is extended throughout, including bar tape that sports some of the coded symbols the ’bos used to communicate with each other back in the day. And the spec’ is strictly hit-the-road basic — nine-speed Shimano triple with Microshift bar-ends, Tektro cantilevers, Alex rims, and 700×35 Vittoria Randonneur Trail clinchers.

There are some nifty extras, though. The Hobo comes with bosses for three bottle cages, Tubus racks and fenders, and a pair of Wellgo pedals. When was the last time you bought an $1,850 touring bike that came with all those goodies? You could ride the sonofabitch home from the shop, is what. Check that — you could ride it away from home, which is even better.

I anticipate a steep drop in unauthorized rail traffic as soon as the hobos find out what a steal this thing is.

Smooth as Silk

August 1, 2013
Bike Friday Silk Road Alfine

All folded up and nowhere to go.

I should know better than to tempt fate with posts like that last one.  The Million-Pound Shithammer began its rhythmic rise and fall shortly thereafter, I commenced evasive maneuvers, and next thing you know it’s August and I haven’t posted some useless bit of nonsense for days.

Our tenant in the House Back East™ moved out just in time for one of Herself’s old childhood chums to move in for a short reunion that involved a road trip to Santa Fe. For the womenfolk, naturally, not for Your Humble Narrator, who had chores to perform.

I just wrapped up the last of them about 15 minutes ago — a short video review of a Bike Friday Silk Road Alfine for Adventure Cyclist. I’ve done a couple-three of these things now, and while they’re getting slightly easier, they still take me way outside my comfort zone, because at heart I’m an ink-stained wretch with a radio face and a habit of peppering every conversation with at least five of George Carlin’s fabled Seven Words, especially if I happen to be talking to myself, as is usually the case.

Like writing and cartooning, these two-minute videos are a one-man job. I write the script, shoot and edit the video, do the voiceovers, and serve as the on-camera “talent,” har de har har. If the aliens ever see one of these things, they are certain to write off the planet as a dangerous slum populated by mental defectives who never developed the internal combustion engine.

This last one was something of a rush job — an Aug. 5 deadline somehow became a figment of my imagination, and so I spent the past couple of days playing Quentin Ferrentino. But that’s all over now, the video is shipped, and tomorrow I can get back to my acting career, to wit, acting like a guy who rides a bike.

Stumble To Work Day

June 26, 2013

Java stop

The point of getting out of bed in the morning.

It’s Bike To Work Day here in Colorado, but it seemed silly to go out to the garage to fetch a bike for the 27-step slog from bed to coffeemaker to iMac. So I walked instead. Sorry ’bout that.

I don’t see a word about BTWD on either of the websites attached to the newspapers that grace our fair community, surprise, surprise. In fairness, there are other stories to be covered, like the Supremes wiping their black-robed asses with the Voting Rights Act, Fort Cartoon losing a brigade and our summer-tourism piggy bank roasting on a very big spit.

Still, if more of us were encouraged to cycle to work instead of firing up the family battlewagon, maybe we would be less inclined to build our homes 30 miles from the cube farm, up in Yahweh’s kindling pile.

Industrial tourism

June 21, 2013
Eat me

I dined at the exclusive Vitamin Cottage in Dillon, selecting a delicious potato salad and San Pellegrino from the extensive menu of shit one can eat in one’s car.

Yesterday I visited, briefly, what the late, lamented Ed Quillen once called the Interstate 70 Industrial Tourism Sacrifice Zone. Nothing wrong with the place that Peak Oil can’t cure.

It had been several years since my last visit to the Zone, and peer as I might between the rare gaps in  traffic I could detect no signs of intelligent life.

There was existence, of a sort — the Breckenridge-Frisco-Silverthorne-Dillon clusterplex remained as relentlessly active as an anthill, busily raising a bumper crop of orange road-construction cones with one pincer and separating rubes from their rubles with the other.

I was in the Zone to meet a shooter from Steamboat Springs, whose current project required the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff I’ve been evaluating for Adventure Cyclist. Time was of the essence, and shop mechanics are crushed this time of year, so we didn’t care to wait for the lengthy disassembly-shipping-reassembly process, which can involve brown-suited gorillas using the box as a trampoline in between ZIP codes.

So I drove north from Bibleburg, and Doug drove south from Steamboat, and we met in the parking lot of a Silverthorne Wendy’s, as seemed appropriate, given the locale.

We were clearly members of the same tribe — Doug was driving a black Subaru with a bike on the roof, and I was driving a silver Subaru with a bike in the back — and neither of us was overjoyed to be in the Zone, though in its defense I will note that it was not on fire at the moment.

We discussed the Divide Rohloff, cycling and our own communities’ respective revenue-enhancement models — his, a vastly enhanced network of cycling trails (Welcome to Steamboat 2013!); mine, a downtown stadium for the Colorado Rockies’ farm club and a U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (Welcome to Bibleburg 1913!).

Then we shook hands, jumped into our respective Subarus, and off we went.

Having taken the scenic route north, through Woodland Park, Hartsel, Fairplay and Breck’, I decided I owed it to science to take the interstates home. It being seven-ish I enjoyed mostly smooth sailing despite the $160 million Twin Tunnels expansion project until I approached the Air Force Academy, where I began a 40-minute crawl through three more road “improvement” projects to Chez Dog.

Those should do wonders for tourism. It certainly made me want to go somewhere. Take me out to the ball game. …

Jones’n for a ride

April 13, 2013
Diamond in the rough

Jeff Jones’ Steel Diamond bike.

The first wave of the Oregon invasion has landed: a Jones Steel Diamond.

Got the big-wheeled bugger yesterday and we’ve taken two short get-acquainted rides; call it two hours total.

As usual, I can’t say much before the paying customers get theirs, but I will tell you it’s an eye-grabber. A neighbor snatched it away from me at the end of today’s ride and went for his own short roll-around.

Tell you something else. With those wheels and tires you don’t much care what gets in your way, whether it’s a pothole in the pavement or a Prius in the bike lane. Pretty much everything just got demoted to speed-bump status.

Have a look around Jeff’s website for more on his bikes and related goodies.


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