Archive for the ‘Bicycle travel’ Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. …
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.
Editor’s note: After some gentle prodding I’ve decided to post my “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns here at the blog, 30 days or so after their dead-tree publication (the folks at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News are paying good money for these things after all). Still, you can’t buy your own personal copy at the Barnes & Noble — BRAIN is a trade magazine, found near the toilet in all the better shops — and so the non-industry types among you may wonder what the hell is it that I do to pass the time when I’m not raving for free here. Speaking of which, this particular column had its roots in a blog post, so don’t be surprised if bits seem familiar.
If Bilbo had had a bike, he’d still be out there
“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their ending!”
— Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit”
In mid-November, after an overlong stretch of working for a living, I decided to treat myself to an adventure.
I had planned to head for Arizona for some sun-splashed cycling. But then I thought about the driving there and back, and all the cycling I would not be doing as I motored along, enduring various NPR pledge drives.
And frankly, the weather was not too shabby in Colorado.
So instead I equipped my Soma Double Cross with racks, panniers and about 25 pounds of things I would not need, and went for a ride. Call it “There and Back Again,” in honor of Peter Jackson’s overstuffed epic “The Hobbit,” though my trip took only three days rather than three films and cost considerably less money.
The Road goes ever on and on. The Adventure Cycling Association, for which I do a bit of work, has been promoting “bike overnights”, the idea being that not everyone wants or needs to cycle clear to the Lonely Mountain and back.
I first rode one in 2011, a simple 100-mile round trip, and I had been itching all year to do another.
There were two downsides: One, I was woefully unfit, having ridden the office chair more than the bike. And two, the first leg of my planned route, Highway 115 to Penrose, had for months been a quagmire of construction.
When a quick recon found the work nearly complete, I took a deep breath, tugged on my roomiest bibs and pedaled off.
Down from the door where it began. Day one was a rolling, 50-mile ride along the broad, winding shoulders of 115 to Cañon City, with a stop outside Penrose for a soak at Dakota Hot Springs. Rather than camp I spent the night at the Cañon Hampton — for free, thanks to Hilton Honors points.
Come morning I wolfed a complimentary hot breakfast; took note of a plump coyote trotting alongside a nearby creek as I wandered around, unkinking my legs and waiting for the temperature to rise; then kitted up for the ride east to Pueblo.
Once past the traffic signals I settled into a pleasant rhythm that eludes me on short rides around town. Highway 50′s high-speed traffic was a distraction, but so are the Internet, the telephone and the doorbell.
Now far ahead the Road has gone. Outside Pueblo I turned south toward the Arkansas River Trail. Despite the chill fishermen worked the river — one of them in shorts — and several folks were walking or cycling the trail, which was a pleasant contrast to Highway 50 in terms of traffic/noise volume.
Some uninformed contributions on this topic won me a free cookie, and thus restored I rode north through Mineral Palace Park and across Highway 50 to another Hampton (free bed, free breakfast, what’s not to like?).
And I must follow if I can. One great thing about travel by bicycle, even a short trip, is the discipline it enforces. If you skip that day’s ride, you don’t get to where you’re going. And it was a temptation to skip the final leg to Colorado Springs, which began with a few miles of Interstate 25 (yikes!) before veering east at the defunct Piñon Truck Stop onto a rough, rolling frontage road.
Still, “third time pays for all,” as Bilbo Baggins was fond of quoting. And once past the rest area, with another short stretch of I-25 behind me, I rolled through an underpass to the west-side frontage road and thence to Old Pueblo Road, which leads to the Front Range Trail and blessed freedom from infernal combustion until a few short blocks from home.
The trip was less Lewis and Clark than Martin and Lewis — old fat bastard on a bike to no particular purpose, dragging bags of superfluous doodads along the way a snail does its shell — but it was refreshing to leave all my other baggage behind for a few days.
And while no dragons were harmed during the making of this column, I particularly enjoyed giving a dope-slap to that remnant of lizard brain that likes to whisper, “You can’t do it, y’know.”
This column first appeared in the Jan. 1, 2013, edition of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.
BIBLEBURG, Colorado (MDM) — Meanwhile, back at the ranch … Herself and I went out to dinner at Nosh to celebrate the return of the prodigal. (The prodigal was hungry after 144.6 miles of cycling in three days and there was nothing to eat at the ranch.)
My old Cateye computer developed a partial paralysis somewhere between Pueblo and home, but the mileage is right; I just lost elapsed time and average speed, neither of which were worth bragging about.
That final leg from the Pueblo Hampton north is a real hodgepodge of terrain. It starts with a couple of streets that have no business existing, were it not for a couple of underused strip malls, then segues into a few miles of Interstate 25 before veering east at the defunct Piñon Truck Stop onto a stretch of what the old hands would call “heavy road” — a rough, rolling chip-seal frontage road that may be the remnants of the old Highway 85/87.
After the rest area another short run on I-25 takes you underneath and across to the west side of the interstate, and that’s the last you see of the sonofabitch — before you know it you’re on Old Pueblo Road, which leads to Fountain, the Front Range Trail, and blessed freedom from infernal combustion until just a half-dozen blocks from Chez Dog.
Now I’m typing with the right hand while the Turk’ sprawls across my lap and onto my left hand. You may recall the tale of the wise man who cut off the sleeve of his garment rather than disturb a sleeping kitten — well, the Turk’ is no kitten, and better to surrender aspects of one’s keyboard than to lose one’s left hand.
I may not be wise, but I’m not exactly stupid, either.