Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cannondale Morphis Jacket, A Review...5 STARS

"Everything is amazing and nobody's happy." ~ Louis C. K.

Ok, on to another review. Recently, I decided that I wanted a new cycling jacket that I could wear on colder days that had removable sleeves, so, when I got too hot, I could take them off quickly, which left a vest to help with the temperature control. Most jackets like this have zippers that allow the sleeves to be removed. Works great, but I found something better. Sleeves that are held on by magnets. Yup, magnets. WTF, who thought of this? Give the person an award!

Cannondale Morphis jacket. Very sweet. Believe me. It's expensive, sort of, $110 from Cannondale, if you purchase it straight up without looking for a deal. Now, who just pays the full price straight up these days? Got to be crazy to do that. Ok, I know, let's support the locals. I do, as much as possible, but often there are deals out there too good to pass up. For Christmas last year, a friend of mine gave me a $25 Amazon gift card. I'd been reading reviews on cycling jackets with removable sleeves and came across this beauty...
   Cannondale Morphis Jacket

Here's a photo that shows how the sleeves come off:

Here are a couple of videos showing how easy it is to take off and put on:

http://youtu.be/9o_WJGnbyyo

This winter, so far, has been particularly cold and snowy, so the Cannondale Morphis has come in handy. It's wind proof and waterproof, too. Recently, as it has warmed up, I've had the opportunity to remove the sleeves and to put them back on. As the videos show, it's simple. No messing with zippers and, if you're better at balancing yourself on a bike than I am, you can remove it and/or put it back on while cycling. I'd rather stop the bike and do it more safely.

I found one on Amazon, which, with the gift card from my friend, Val, allowed me to get it for $35. And free shipping. So, look around the Internet and see what price you might find it for, but, if you're after a good jacket that can keep you warm and allow for quick and easy removal of the sleeves, this is the jacket you're looking for. Several different colors to choose from. I went for the red this time. I've got too many fluorescent yellow and lime green cycling items. Time to change it up. It's a new year.

Time to exit the post, so here's a song to keep you humming for a while...David Bowie and Mick Jagger doing "Dancing In The Street" (http://youtu.be/WP7_eHNUNco). Cool video...and Bowie is the better dancer, IMHO. Happy trails out there...

Compass Bicycles Cayuse Pass 700x26 Tires Review...3 STARS

"Every thing happens for a reason, but, sometimes, that reason is because you're stupid and you make bad decisions." ~ anonymous 

Last September/2015, I finally replaced my Grand Bois Blue Cerf 700x26 tires after getting several flats on the Willcox Flyer, a 66 mile ride in Willcox, AZ. The tires had served me well with over 3000+ miles on the road. Hard to beat that. So, instead of replacing the now deceased Blue Cerf tires with the same model, which would have been the sensible, correct decision, I decided to purchase, from the same company, Compass Bicycles (http://www.compasscycle.com/), a different set of tires called the Compass Cayuse in 700x26 size. These are extra light tires at 183gms. 

Some photos of the tires:
     Compass Bicycles Cayuse Pass, $76 ea.
     Grand Bois Blue Cerf sold by Compass Bicycles, $57 ea.

Why? What would make me decide to buy an unknown tire vs. a tire that I knew could give me lots of miles of use? Stupidity. Plain and simple. While trusting a company and their products did enter into my decision, the truth is...I should have bought the Blue Cerf (or the Green Cerf...same tire, just a bit larger, 700x28) tires. Now, why am I saying this? Well, in the past month, I've had two flats with the Compass Cayuse tires. My suspicion is the extra ledger (extra lightweight) aspect of these tires is the culprit, which was the issue with the very first set of tires I purchased from Compass Bicycles that I only got about 1000 miles of use, also extra ledger tires. While great perhaps for racing, their durability for everyday riding on rough country roads is lacking. Lesson learned? Jesus, I hope so, but, over time, this has not been the case since I seem to forget the "lesson".

What makes this worse is that I cannot even blame it on "old age", which is convenient, but untrue. When I was 18 yrs old, I made the same stupid mistakes, but now, at least, I can use the "old age" excuse. But it's not why I repeat these mistakes. That I've yet to figure out... It definitely is "operator error".

So, while I highly recommend some of this company's tires, be sure to purchase the ones necessary for the riding you'll be doing with them and the roads you'll be riding on. In the meantime, I've ordered a set of the Grand Bois Green Cerf 700x28 to replace the Compass Cayuse 700x26 tires. The larger size (hopefully, they'll fit) should help with the rough roads around this area. I'll let you know what happens with these tires. For now, I'll keep the Cayuse tires to use when I need to have a lightweight tire for a road ride.
       Grand Bois Green Cerf sold by Compass Bicycles, $57 ea. 

My rating of the Compass Cayuse tires is 3 STARS. Even as an extra lightweight tire, for the money, I believe they should be better at puncture proofness than they are. The other qualities a cyclist looks for are there, but, if the tire can't get you down the road, why buy them?

Ok, time to exit this post with some music. Recently, David Bowie moved on to whatever, if anything, is next. Since he was a big part of the music I listened to in my 20's, here's a song to enjoy..."Changes" by David Bowie (http://youtu.be/j7e5HbmAccA) and one more because he's just so good, "Rebel Rebel" (http://youtu.be/U16Xg_rQZkA). His list of songs is vast, but I remember these two from way back when. At the time, Joan Fish, a woman I was mad about then, turned me on to Bowie. I owe her for that gift.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Alex Kelly, Chicago Kind Of Touring Cyclist...

"Q: What three streets in Chicago rhyme with vagina?"
"A" Paulina, Melvina, and Lunt."

A little Chicago humor for Alex. Just about 10 days ago or so, Alex contacted me via Warmshowers (https://www.warmshowers.org/) and, no, just because my wife, Eileen, thinks so, it's not a porn site. This site is for cyclists, primarily touring cyclists, from all over the world to connect with other cyclists for a place to stay, set up a tent, get a shower, have some food maybe, and maybe a beer or three. Plus, it's a good way to meet people and to have a cyclist, who's familiar with the local area, provide some good advice on where to go, what to see, where to eat, how the roads are, what traffic is like, etc. My wife and I enjoy it primarily because of the people we meet who are traveling through on the Adventure Cycling Association's (https://www.adventurecycling.orgSouthern Tier Route or their Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. We've met more people from around the world via Warmshowers here in Silver City, NM, than we have anywhere else that we've lived.

Alex is self-employed back in Chicago with his lawn care business. He also has done, maybe still does, construction work.
This winter, Alex decided to ride his bicycle across the U.S. via the Southern Tier Route, West to East. I believe that he said he was 28 yrs. old. Good time to ride across the country. Actually, any age is a good time to bicycle across country, in my opinion. One of the dicey prospects of riding across the U.S. In January/February is the weather, which can be variable, to say the least. Alex happened to hit this area during a cold spell. Because of that, we weren't able to invite him to stay more than one night because, for his riding pleasure, he needed to "get out of Dodge, pronto!" as they say out West. Alex got into town on a Friday and, on Monday, Silver City was due to get hit with a snow storm. Sucks for cycling. So, on the morning he was due to arrive at our house, I headed out on Rt. 180 West to see where he was and to see if he wanted me to take his panniers, so he'd have an easier ride in to town. Or to see if he'd like a ride into town and skip the bicycling in exchange for a few beers. 

In Buckhorn, NM, I found Alex at the RV Park, just getting his gear together so he could ride into town. On offering him the option of throwing his bike and gear into the car and taking a faster ride into Silver City, he unhesitatingly said yes. I think he had tears in his eyes, but I'm not sure...just kidding. Nights had been cool, as soon as the sun set, and the days had not been extremely warm, but tolerable for riding. He did have tailwinds, which is always good. After getting the car loaded up, we headed for Silver City and the beer. This is Alex's first long trip as a self-contained touring cyclist. He has done a century ride (100 miles) between Chicago and Milwaukee (my wife's hometown). Touring, however, is another beast altogether. He was doing fine with it except for the cold nights. His overnight stay with us was his first day off from the bike since Los Angeles, CA, where he started. When we got to the house, I got out some sandwich makings for him to fix himself something to eat...and offered him a beer. He'd been having some trouble with his rear derailleur and I offered to look at it for him. A few years back, a cyclist had shown me how to make the adjustment to the rear derailleur that was the simplest instruction I'd ever had on how to do it. So, a few quick moves and it was done. Then it was time to clean up his drivetrain, which was fairly dirty. Hopefully, it worked well for him after he left. Haven't received any death threats from him yet.

I made some homemade pumpkin pie, cooked up some rice and chicken breasts for dinner, and more beer, of course. Alex had settled in, taken a shower, got unpacked for the day and night. He seemed to be enjoying the day off the bike. I knew the next few days would be windy, colder, and potentially some snow, but a real chance for rain before he got to Las Cruces, NM. So, we enjoyed our time at the house. He was telling me that his Dad is into home brewing. Now, I'm sure he told me what work he did, too, and what his Mom did, but all I remember is the home brewing. Beer brain. Always have been. 

Here's a picture of my pumpkin pie. Didn't get any photos of the chicken breasts. Oh, and a photo of my wife and the pie. Both are good looking, eh?
    "THE WIFE" and the pumpkin pie...
   Homemade from scratch...cooked the pumpkin, made the crust, yum!

   Alex loaded up and ready to ride on Saturday morning

Here are a couple of VERY short videos with the usual "Hello" and "Goodbye" to Silver City...

I heard from Alex a few days ago via this website/blog and he's been enjoying warmer weather in Texas. With friends in Austin, he's planning to spend a few days there enjoying himself. As a touring cyclist myself, I can attest to the fact that a few days stop somewhere, particularly a place like Austin, is great fun. Friends make it even better.

So, best wishes to Alex for a safe and great journey, with more to come down the pike. For now, it's time to exit this post. Not sure if Alex is a jazz fan, but there's nothing more indigenous to Chicago than jazz. Here's a new one done the old style way..Robin Adele Anderson doing "Gangsta Paradise".

Hope you enjoy it, Alex. Come back for a visit anytime...it was a pleasure meeting you. My wife and I enjoyed your company. Happy trails...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

2016...WTF? How can this be???

"True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country." ~ Kurt Vonnegut 

"Do not go gentle into that good night, but rage, rage against the dying of the light." ~ Dylan Thomas

Goddamit, it's another year. I like the thinking my older brother, John, applies to aging...getting old does not suck; not getting old sucks. Too true. Actually, I like the concept of a new year. It's just the aging along with it that I could do without, but not dying to make it so. Life does go on.

The holidays were good and New Year's Eve was spent at home, which Eileen and I have done for many years now. My sense of New Year's Eve is a celebration for the novices out there who, once drunk, do their best to annoy the hell out of people or kill them from behind the wheel of a moving motor vehicle. Thus, either stay at home or go out to dinner early and then go home. Seems safer in our house than out on the streets.

My nephew, John David (so he's not confused with my brother, John) gave me a Silco tool kit for Christmas that is beyond cool. Finely crafted allen wrenches with a magnetic adapter that allows the use of screwdriver heads and torx heads. Here's a photo: 
John (my nephew) and I tend to exchange some pretty fine gifts and this ranks as one of the best. Here's a website where you can read about this tool kit (http://silca.cc/products/hx-one-home-and-travel-essentials). Pricey? Well, depends on how you look at it. My life experiences have taught me that good products last a long time and cost more than average because they're better than average. "You get what you pay for..." Yes, there are deals and I look for them all the time, but somethings are worth the purchase...good bikes, good gear, top rated cycling clothing, etc. While out on a bike tour, there's nothing worse than having something break or not work right. 

I had the opportunity to use the allen/hex wrenches over the holidays and they're truly superb. Easy to grip and hold on to, plus easy to find when dropped on the floor or the ground because of the red color. And long enough to get into some of those spots on a bicycle that can be frustrating. I give these a 5 Star review and highly recommend them to anyone thinking of purchasing the tool kit.

Be prepared for some posts about the upcoming Presidential election. If you don't think this is important and have decided to not vote, you're dumber than a fuckin' rock. This election is perhaps one of the most important to come along in decades. Fortunately, my hope is that the re"THUG"licans continue to shoot each other and themselves in their collective feet and, by this, assure the election of a Democrat as President. Frankly, my preferred candidate is Bernie Sanders. If we have ever needed a repeat of a Progressive President, like Teddy Roosevelt in the early part of the 20th century, now is the time. My other wish is for more Democrats to be elected into the Senate and the House, so that some needed legislation can get passed. Got my fingers crossed...

Time to exit this post with a tune for the new year. Hmmm, let's see, what would be good? Ani DiFranco doing, "Which Side Are You On, Boy?" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&persist_app=1&v=UyMGH3maB1U) Sort of sums up what this election is about. Taking care of all of us or taking care of the few. Vote...



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Memorial Ride For My Friend, Bruce Doeren...

"Most people can't bear to sit in church for an hour on Sundays. How are they supposed to live somewhere very similar to it for eternity?" ~ Mark Twain

"Life doesn't cease to be funny when someone dies any more than it ceases to be serious when someone laughs." ~ George Bernard Shaw

Having worked as a counselor with the Burn and Trauma services, as well as in the Emergency Room at several hospitals/trauma centers, I have a pretty twisted sense of humor. My wife, Eileen, says that working 12 years in Burn and Trauma and the ER did not make me a better person. I'll spare you any of my humor except through my quotes in these posts.

Last November 12th, my friend, Bruce Doeren, died suddenly at home. His wife, Eloise, was away on her job as a drug rep. Both Bruce and Eloise are/were nurses. When Eloise arrived home after being away for 3 days, she found Bruce in bed and she thought he was asleep. Turns out he had died, most likely from an aneurysm. He was getting prepared for surgery on several aneurysms he had, but did not make it to surgery.

At his funeral, a few of us spoke of doing a ride in his memory. Bruce was my riding buddy and work colleague at UNM Hospital when we both worked there. So, it seemed fitting to do this. Last weekend, Oct 3rd, a few of us managed to get together to do the ride Bruce and I often did ... up South 14 outside of Albuquerque. Neil, John, me, Eloise, Ryan (his son), Seamus (Neil's son), and a friend of Ryan's, John. As luck would have it, the wind, and weather, were changing up rapidly and, after riding but a few miles up South 14, riders who were coming down alerted us to the fact that it was pouring rain at the top. So, like Bruce and I would do when the weather turned, we headed to Eloise's house and drank some beer instead. Bruce would have approved.

Some photos...
Neil and me. The jerseys we're wearing were designed by Bruce and me for the Albuquerque Century Tour that we coordinated for UNM Hospital...
Neil, Eloise, me, and Ryan (Bruce's son)...
Ryan, John, and John...
John, John, and Eloise...
Eloise, Seamus(Neil's son), Neil, me, and Ryan...
John and Eloise...

Eloise, Ryan, and Bruce's daughter, Miquela, are all persevering. "Doing well" just never seemed the right thing to say because I know that, after my Mom and Dad died, "doing well" never fit how I felt. I just tried to deal with their deaths as best I could and persevered, as Eloise, Ryan, and Miquela are doing. Despite it's unfairness, life does go on whether we like it or not. So, moving on is the order of the day, along with a few emotional breakdowns along the way, eh? I still yell at nobody in particular when I'm out riding and I think of Bruce, feel the anger/hurt of his being dead, and I let the world know how pissed off I am.

While this ride was short, we will do it again. Next year, we'll do it a little later in October, after the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. Fall in New Mexico is beautifull and it's a great time to ride. The thoughts we were all having were about Bruce, which is what was important vs. how far we rode our bikes.

So, a tune to exit with...the Yellow Jackets doing the "Imperial Strut" (http://youtu.be/RepOlMWd510). This was a favorite band of Bruce's. He frequently took me to his "music" room in the basement of his house and put on albums of his favorite jazz bands and made me listen to them, which I liked. I'm a jazz fan, but he expanded my view. You are missed, my friend...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Wipperman Connex 10 Spd Stainless Steel Chain

"At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words "fuck off" much more frequently." ~ Helen Mirren

Now, I don't know for certain that Helen Mirren actually said this. It seems to me to be something she would say or would like to say. Also, even if this is not something she said, I love it and it's true. Additionally, I think she's a gorgeous, interesting woman and I'm glad to be old enough now to appreciate the spectrum of beauty in women that I never saw as a young man. I should have opened my eyes and mind much younger than I did. 

So, on to the Wipperman Connex chain. First, it's been a great chain. I purchased it back in December 2014 along with a new 10spd Ultegra cassette to replace the chain/cassette that had many, many miles on them. Putting the chain on was a breeze. Simplest setup I've ever done. And the cassette was the first one that I've ever removed/installed and set up the rear derailleur for it. To my utter surprise, I did it successfully. Didn't have to resort to my usual string of curse words that spill so easily out of my mouth when something is not going right...usually due to "operator error". The Wipperman Connex uses a link that is easily removeable by hand versus the usual pin seen in most chains. Makes putting it on or taking it off very easy.

My issue now is that it has been making a clicking noise that is irritating, to say the least. Not loud, but persistant. I took the chain off, soaked it in a cleaner/degreaser, and put it back on, but the noise didn't go away. I took my Phil Tenacious oil and lubricated the hell out of the chain and the noise went away, but the chain ended up greasy/dirty and transferred that to my hands any time I touched the chain. BoeShield didn't seem to help get rid of the noise like a heavy dose of Phil's oil. Today, however, the noise is back. I've removed the chain and have it soaking in a cleaner/degreaser solution. Tomorrow, I'll put it back on the bike and go for a long ride on Tuesday. If the noise is still there, I'll be replacing the chain. I put a new link on the chain, suspecting it might be the source of the clicking, but the noise is there with the new link.

Well, did the ride and the noise was there, so I ordered a new chain and cassette. Purchased the chain through Bike-Discount.com (http://www.bike-discount.de/en?currency=5&delivery_country=191) and got it for $20 less than what Amazon was selling it for. Bike-Discount is based in Germany, where Wipperman chains are made. So, I put the chain/casette on and it works wonderfully...no noise.


Wipperman Connex 10S1, stainless steel and nickel, weighjs about 260 grams with hollow pins. I'll let you know how long this one lasts.

Time to exit...now, a tune for you to enjoy. "Rock Lobster" by the B52's (http://youtu.be/ofkzvM7Skxg). An odd one, but it reminds me of my friend, Bruce Doeren. More on Bruce in my next website post. 


Friday, September 18, 2015

John Isles and Cathy Colless, Aussies On The Move...

"It may be that your sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others." ~ Anonymous

"There is nothing more Australian than spending time in someone else's country." ~ Anonymous

John Isles and Cathy Colless serve as a warning to others...that you're all slackers!! These two Australians, who presently live in Cambridge, UK, have been bicycling the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/great-divide-mountain-bike-route/) and stayed with Eileen and me while they regrouped, reorganized, and updated some worn out parts/tires on their bikes. And, like the other quote, they're spending time in several other countries. John and Cathy work in the Antarctic, doing 6 month contract work. This time, they opted to go on a trip and see what happens with the contract work. While here, they were in communication with a guy in England, trying to determine if they needed to buy airline tickets home or head into Mexico. Since nothing was finalized with their friend in England, they headed off to Mexico. They'd ridden parts of Central/South American and wanted to head to Mexico City (actually, past Mexico City) to visit friends, then continue on to where they'd left off on a prior trip. So, if you're lounging around the house or slacking on the couch, these two are not and serve as a warning to you. See what's out there. John & Cathy have a blog: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=tS&doc_id=14410&v=2J3 See what they've been up to. 

Some photos:
Their bikes had racks that were part of the bike frame...first I'd ever seen like this.
                     John in the midst of putting new tires on their bikes.
      Preparing to leave for Mexico...
                 The loaded bike...

A few videos:
John & Cathy saying "Hello, Silver City!": https://youtu.be/FCMfIk5P940
John & Cathy saying "Goodbye, Silver City!": https://youtu.be/1dP2ca84O6c

John and Cathy stayed with us 3 nights and we enjoyed their company. After much food, drink, and conversation, they headed off to the Mexican border on their way to meet up with friends. Somewhere along the way, I'm certain they'll square away their contract work plans. Hopefully, not before they get all the riding in that they hope to accomplish. In lots of ways, these folks are braver than I am. There are some countries that I have no desire to visit, for lots of reasons but mostly because of my insecurity. My travels have shown me that people are friendlier and helpful than the media portrays. One day, perhaps, I'll overcome my anxiety...

In reading their blog, I just discovered that John has a new 6 month contract and will be heading back to the Antarctic soon. So, while they got to Janos, Chihuahua, Mexico, they took a shuttle to Phoenix, AZ, to catch a flight to Frankfort, Germany, where they'll bicycle along the Rhine, making their way back home. Then, it's off to the southern most part of the planet.

So, now it's time for some music...Glen Campbell performing the Jimmy Webb song, "By The Time I Get To Phoenix": http://youtu.be/uCoUqU4gg3Q

Seems appropriate considering how their trip ended. Also, unfortunately, Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2011 and is presently in an Alzheimer's long term care facility, unable to speak. So, in his memory whatever you may think of his singing, here's one more, "Gentle On My Mind" : https://youtu.be/ETkzK9pXMio. Hope that you enjoy these songs...