Archive for the ‘Bike stuff’ Category

All dressed up (flak jacket optional)

January 9, 2015
We got our java on at Mangiamo Pronto in Santa Fe.

We got our java on at Mangiamo Pronto in Santa Fe.

Ah, January. My least favorite month of the year.

“Uncertainty” is the word that best describes the month named for Janus, god of beginnings and transitions. Wikipedia notes that the word has its roots in the Latin ianua (door), and come January it seems one is either slamming on my fingers or ajar and letting the cold air in.

Paychecks invariably arrive late, and I often get purged from the comp-sub list, so not only am I short of cash, I can’t even see what the editors have done to my work.

Do I still have work? The Magic 8-Ball I’m behind says “Outlook good,” but that thing was made in China, so for all I know this means management has traded me to Xinhua for an iPad Pro, a low-interest loan and some dim sum.

There are a few vacancies at Charlie Hebdo, of course. But I’ve forgotten all the French I learned during grade one in Ottawa, and I bet they make the new guy sit with his back to the door.

Happily, even an old, blind dog unearths a Milk-Bone now and then. As on Tuesday, when I got to ride my bike around Santa Fe and Madrid during a photo shoot for the Adventure Cycling Association, which will be unveiling its Bicycle Route 66 early this year.

It was the second round of a two-day shoot with Santa Fe photographer Michael Clark, and the models got java, lunch and American money for their troubles, which were few indeed.

Didn’t need my Saint Laurent flak jacket or nothin’. Just some Adventure Cycling kit, is all. La vie est belle, non?

Gimme a brake

December 29, 2014
The TRP Spyre mechanical disc brake.

The TRP Spyre mechanical disc brake.

I spent a little time in our freezing-cold garage this morning, adjusting the cantilever brakes on my Soma Double Cross, and then said to hell with it and rode the Novara Mazama instead. It’s Monday, Christmas is over, back to work.

The outside wasn’t much warmer than the garage, so I layered up: heavy leg warmers, bib shorts, three long-sleeved jerseys, winter gloves, tuque, shoe covers, etc., et al., and so on and so forth. Then I went exploring, riding unfamiliar streets on an unfamiliar bike.

The brakes on the Mazama are of a higher order than the stoppers on my DC: TRP Spyre mechanical discs. I’ve ridden Avid’s BB5 and BB7, and Hayes CX, but this is my first experience with TRP. A couple hours of gentle cycling on forgiving terrain hardly makes me an expert, but so far, so good. Nice modulation, plenty grippy when you need ’em to be, and they don’t screech like Ann Coulter when the laundry puts starch in her banana hammock.

I wasn’t asking much of them, I’ll admit. I’d been wanting to check out a couple of the neighborhood roads that have bike lanes attached, so I was riding them uphill and then dropping back to Tramway via a short, swoopy bit of single-track. It being the Monday after Christmas, most folks were doing their work indoors, which meant more trail for me. Yay.

Speaking of trail, someone who should be hitting same is Rep. Steve Scalise (R-You Kiddin’ Me?). The freshly elevated House majority whip claims he had no idea he was addressing a clot of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other such cuddly types when he spoke to David Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization in 2002. That’s extra-dumb, even by House leadership standards.

His enablers are trying to whitewash (har har) the escapade as an example of poor staff work done on behalf of a then-36-year-old state legislator. Honky please. I knew what Duke was in the Seventies when I was a 20-something reporter and interviewed the sonofabitch over the phone. And I didn’t even ply my trade in Louisiana.

Happily, I still don’t. So it ain’t my cross to bear. Or burn.

Double Crossed

December 28, 2014
Bigger balls or better brakes? Well, I can buy the brakes. ...

Bigger balls or better brakes? Well, I can buy the brakes. …

One of my favorite things in the whole world is the expression on the face of some dude on a double-boinger when he sees a 60-year-old man on a steel cyclo-cross bike preparing to descend the snowy stretch of north-facing single-track he just struggled up.

“Careful, man, it’s slippery back there,” the latest goggle-eyed disbeliever puffed.

“Thanks, I appreciate it,” I replied, and carried on.

Boingy Boy was right, and I took it easy, in part because my old Shimano BR-R550s were working about as well as the 113th Congress (and squealing even more loudly), and in part because the slippery descent was lousy with hikers (another look I enjoy is the one on a hiker’s face when you yield trail to him/her, apparently a rare occurrence in these parts).

Mostly I took it easy because I’ve never descended worth a damn, on road or off it. But I like climbing, even on a cold, snowy day, and as we know, what goes up must come down. So I pretend I know what I’m doing … and pray that the double-boingers don’t turn around to follow me.

 

He used to cut the grass

December 7, 2014

I used to cut the grass. I should do it again today. But I’d rather take a nice bike ride, maybe dwindle off into the twilight realm of my own secret thoughts. It’s day four of Zappadan 2014, and I don’t know any nice songs for cutting the grass.

Except for this one. And no, I won’t turn it down. I’m not a very nice boy.

Vision quest

December 3, 2014
The view from an overlook atop what I think is Trail 365A, south of the Embudo Canyon trailhead.

The view from an overlook atop what I think is Trail 365A, south of the Embudo Canyon trailhead.

Yesterday was a bit overcast, and there were things to do, many, many of them, so I didn’t sneak out for a skull-flushing bike ride until 3 p.m.

With Mister Boo still on a rigorous doping schedule — jeez, you’d think he was riding for Astana or something — I can only get away from Rancho Pendejo for a couple hours at a time. So, given that, and since it was late, I just explored a couple unfamiliar trails branching off the Foothills Trail near the Embudo Dam trailhead.

I didn’t drop down the other side toward Interstate 40, but so far I haven’t found anything I can’t ride on the old Voodoo Nakisi Monstercrosser®, which has 700×43 Bruce Gordon Rock n’ Roads for traction and that nifty 22×26 bailout gear (23.6 gear inches) for emergencies and/or sloth. Had I known I’d wind up liking this bike so much I’d have ordered two framesets and built a disc-brake version with wider rims for really fat tires. Alas, the model is no longer with us, having been discontinued.

The Boo has another follow-up appointment with his veterinary ophthalmologist this morning, and I’m hoping that he’ll enjoy longer intervals between medications henceforth, for his sake and for mine. I’d like to start getting some longer rides in, and I expect he’s getting sick of me grabbing him by the skull four times a day to hose down the only eyeball he has left.

Ridge lyin’

November 7, 2014
You never saw this. You were never even here.

You never saw this. You were never even here.

This is so not a 20-minute ride from my house. No, sir. Nuh uh. Never happen. Horrible place for cycling, Albuquerque. Don’t ever come here.

One, two, tree

October 18, 2014
The big maple in Bibleburg is doing its annual thing, carpeting the block with fallen leaves.

The big maple in Bibleburg is doing its annual thing, carpeting the block with fallen leaves.

The big silver maple back in Bibleburg is quite a sight come fall. Also quite a bit of work. It’s a rare year in which we don’t get more than a dozen 32-gallon bags of leaves off the auld fella.

The maple in the backyard in Duke City is a smaller edition, but further along in its seasonal disrobing.

The maple in the backyard in Duke City is a smaller edition, but further along in its seasonal disrobing.

But it’s worth it, because that tree sits on the south side of The Old Home Place®, and keeps the afternoon sun from cooking us like a pair of rotisserie chickens.

We have some class of a maple here in Duke City, too, but a much smaller model, on the east side of Rancho Pendejo™. It’s further along in the leaf-shedding process, but tidying up its droppings should be a damn’ sight easier on the lower back.

This also suits me right down to the ground, because frankly I’d rather be riding a bike than raking leaves. I’ve been discovering the wanderings of Trail 365 north of here, and it makes for some fun riding on the old Voodoo Nakisi. I surprised a couple of mountain bikers in a blind corner the other day and one exclaimed, “Nicely done,” clearly thinking I was on an actual cyclo-cross bike instead of a MonsterCrosser® with a triple crankset and 700×45 Panaracer Fire Cross tires.

Actually, check that, I’ve dialed the front tire down to a 700×42 Continental CrossRide. So I guess I am a manly man after all.

 

Moving in, on, and around and about

October 9, 2014
The main living area at Rancho Pendejo. A couple Brangoccios will soon adorn that far wall.

The main living area at Rancho Pendejo. A couple Brangoccios will soon adorn that far wall.

Rancho Pendejo is coming together, bit by bit, inch by inch.

The Pink Room is now Livable Green, as is the master bedroom. The living room is likewise livable, but not green, with the furniture more or less arranged, some works from my old college pal Michael Brangoccio on the walls, and the home-theater setup ticking along nicely, serving up Blu-Ray, streaming video via Mac Mini, and KUNM-FM. And the kitchen is open for business whenever I’m inclined to cook, which lately is not often. Folks actually make edible grub here, and it’s been fun playing culinary explorer.

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

We’ve also been exploring the local trails, which are abundant, eclectic and accessible pretty much from the front door.

The excellent Tramway bike path can be found just a couple blocks west on Comanche Road. And there’s a bike lane on Comanche itself that runs most of the way west to the North Diversion Channel Trail. The Paseo del Norte trail will get you there, too, but there are a few hiccups along the way.

Just a couple blocks east is Foothills Trail 365, a short stretch of which makes a nice out-and-back run for Herself. I’ve been hiking around and about there, jogging the uphills to see how the knees feel, and yesterday I took the Voodoo Nakisi out for a short exploratory ride on the trails that fan out from 365 and stumbled across the entrance to a bit of local wilderness, all of three miles from Rancho Pendejo. Fat city.

We got a light rain last night, and there’s more of the same in the forecast, so I’ll probably give the trails a rest today, maybe have a whang at the Tramway instead. It goes without saying that neither of the two bikes I brought from Bibleburg sports fenders. Duh.

Bienvenido a Nuevo México

September 26, 2014
The view from Tramway, on the descent to Interstate 25.

The view from Tramway, on the descent to Interstate 25.

I managed to squeeze in my first ride as a born-again resident of New Mexico yesterday.

Nothing special, just an hour or so riding the Tramway bike path north from Rancho Pendejo, peeping out the terrain, getting a feel for things. We’re just a couple of blocks from the path, which links up neatly with the Paseo del Norte trail about 20 minutes up the hill. Other east-west feeder routes abound, and I hope to explore them directly.

I think this is Sandia Peak, as seen from the base of the road to the tram.

I think this is Sandia Peak, as seen from the base of the road to the tram.

Lots of folks on bicycles out and about, most of them roadies, though there’s also some class of mountain-bike trail network in the area that I’ll inspect at some later date. Right now, the old plate is full to overflowing with chores and annoyances.

For starters, we have no Innertubes at the new place, and won’t until Oct. 3. This forces me to play “Hipster In the Coffee Shop,” a role for which I am far too unhip.

Also, and too, the cell service is only slightly evolved beyond the log drum, smoke signals, or two tin cans linked by a waxed string, so using the iPhone as a mobile hotspot is right out. One bar on the iPhone does not a data connection make. Coupled with the dearth of Innertubes this renders communications a bit, shall we say, spotty.

Likewise, we have almost none of our shit — the movers won’t show up for another four days or so, so we’re getting by with some stuff we bought from the previous owner and whatever we could cram into the rice-grinders.

Speaking of which, two of our three critters have more or less successfully made the transition via Subaru to new quarters. The lone holdout, Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment), spends the wee hours walking the battlements, inspecting the perimeter, and issuing challenges to foes only he can see.

As did Herbie Goldfarb in “The Milagro Beanfield War,” I find my brain going all foamy, like a vanilla milkshake, from lack of sleepzzzzzzzzzzz. …

It never rains, but it pours

August 30, 2014
The Templeton Gap Trail has a fine new concrete surface east of Goose Gossage Park.

The Templeton Gap Trail has a fine new concrete surface east of Goose Gossage Park.

One of the downsides of bidding adieu to scenic theocratic Bibleburg is that I won’t be able to enjoy the new bits of bikey infrastructure the city has been laying down.

I managed to slip out for a short ride today and found that the stretch of Templeton Gap Trail that takes cyclists from the Pikes Peak Greenway to Palmer Park has a new layer of concrete (it used to be beat-to-shit asphalt and dirt).

Shiny new blacktop adorns Templeton Gap Road.

Shiny new blacktop adorns Templeton Gap Road.

Also, Templeton Gap Road has a fresh coating of shiny blacktop and a nifty new bike lane. It has yet to be stenciled as such, but hey, it’s a holiday weekend, right?

Well, for some people, anyway. What with the Vuelta a España and live blogging thereof, the pending move to Duke City, guests in and out of The House Back East™, visiting newsie pals, goggle-eyed dogs requiring doctoring, chats with roofers, landscapers, gutter guys, real-estate types, bankers and mortgage-loan officers, Herself in the first month of a new job six hours to the south, and rain rain rain every god damn day, downtime has been a rare bird around these parts, buckaroo.

That said, I have not been shot dead by the laws and left to lie in the street for hours. Nor am I beheaded by ISIS, invaded by Russians, or infected with the Ebola virus.

I do have to go to Interbike, though. I’m not certain which horseman of the apocalypse that is.


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