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?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Jake At 1zero6, Charlie Kharsa on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Race, And???

"You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there." ~ Yogi Berra

A bit of a hodgepodge in this post.  While out on my bike a few weeks ago, I encountered a cyclist, who, by the looks of his bike and his appearance, was obviously a Great Divide Mountain Bike Race racer.  His name is Charlie Kharsa, he's 49 yrs old, and he's from Davis, CA, where he and his wife work and live. She's a school teacher; he's a house painter with plans to go back to college to get a degree in criminal justice and, hopefully, a job with the State Parks system in California.  Right now, he's a mountain bike racer and loves to do ultra bike racing. 

I was out for a ride down Rt. 90 when I met up with Charlie.  He was headed south to the border of Mexico to finish the race...his last day on the bike race.  Once he made the turn on to Separ Rd, he would be closing in on the last stretch of the Great Divide Race.  What made this last stretch harder for him is that he was only able to use a single gear on his bike.  Forgot when that happened, but I was impressed with how he was managing the climbing with one gear and all the stuff on his bike.  These riders are tough.  On my way home that day, I saw two other Divide racers heading towards Separ Road.
Charlie Kharsa, Great Divide Mountain Bike Racer, at Separ Road and Rt. 90.  Still smilin'...
 On a different note, this past Friday, Eileen (a.k.a THE WIFE around these parts, pal!) and I went to 1zero6 for dinner.  Our friend, Jake, is the owner/cook.  He prefers to be called a cook.  Not into pretentious chef clothes/coats nor are there tracks in the ceiling from his nose (not egotistical, like some).  Now, he is proud of his place and his cooking skills...and we're damn happy that he's in Silver City so we can hang out with him and sample his food moods.  While we talk about Jake as being a bit eccentric and not your run of the mill cook, here's some photos to back up our commentary...Jake in his summer, Kung Fu, Ninja, Karate Guy outfit...LOL!!!  We love this guy!  And we're happy to be considered friends of his.
Mr. Karate Kung Fu Guy

Mr. Karate Kung Fu Guy giving me his Mr. Karate Kung Fu Guy Ninja look...

Jake's having trouble keeping the Mr. Karate Kung Fu Guy Ninja look happening...

Jake being Jake in his "cook" outfit...
If you should find yourself in Silver City, NM, for any reason, on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, be sure to check out Jake's place and do yourself a favor...make reservations BEFORE you get to town, so you can get a table and the food you'd like to eat.  If you pay with cash, y'all get a 5% discount on your bill.  BTW, we had a great meal last Friday night.  Always good.  So, while Jake may not be in his Mr. Karate Kung Fu Ninja outfit when you show up there, have a seat and be prepared for a very good dinner.  And look around at the very cool ambiance.  Nothing like it elsewhere in town or New Mexico.

And???  Well, nothing more to add, so it's time to exit this post.  Here's a song that I never knew that Marvin Gaye had performed, "Sunny".  One of my favs way back when..

Friday, July 18, 2014

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE IN THE NAME OF GOD???

"Even a single lamp dispels the darkness." ~ Gandhi

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

FEELING THE EARTH MOVE IN NEW MEXICO...An Earthquake in Arizona???

"It's snowing still", said Eeyore gloomily. "So it is." "And freezing." "Is it?" "Yes", said Eeyore. "However", he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately." ~ A. A. Milne, The House At Pooh Corner

Last night, around 11p.m., I had just gotten in bed and was waiting for Eileen to join me.  Since we don't have A/C or an evaporative cooler in the house, it sometimes can be a bit warm when we go to bed.  Often, we'll take a cold shower before going to bed, which cools us down and allows us to fall asleep.  I'd finished my shower and was waiting for Eileen.

Seemed like I was relaxing a bit when I thought I heard Eileen come into the bedroom.  I'd felt the bed move.  I didn't look up but did open my eyes and I didn't see Eileen.  The bed moved again.  I sat up to see where Eileen was, thinking she might be crouched down at the foot of the bed, making it move to mess with me...but no Eileen.  At that moment, Eileen called out to me from the kitchen, asking if I'd heard that "noise".  No.  No noise, just movement.  Eileen came into the bedroom, scared, wondering what the noise had been.  She also thought someone was outside the house by the bay window, rattling the window.  Uh, no, don't think anyone could "rattle" the windows. She climbed into bed, still scared, and we were talking about what it might be.  Since she hadn't been the one moving the bed, her idea that it was the house "settling" didn't seem to fit.  I mentioned that the only time I'd felt a structure move was during the earthquake I experienced in L.A. when I was living there back in 1976.  Seemed to me that a house "settling" would be a single movement, but an earthquake could be a continuous movement.  Then we fell asleep.

In the morning, I turned my phone on and saw that someone had left a voice message sometime during the night.  The time of the message was 12:07a.m.  As I started the message, I was walking out of the bedroom into the kitchen.  Lo and behold, Grant County had experienced a 5.2 magnitude earthquake around 11p.m.!!!  Actually, the earthquake epicenter was south of Safford, AZ, approximately 52 miles from Silver City, NM.  Volcanoes and earthquakes are mentioned frequently in the oral history of the Navajo and the Apache in the Southwest, as well as with other native groups in this part of the country.  Having lived in the Southwest for over 30 years, this is a first for me.  And it was the first earthquake that Eileen had ever experienced.

Ok, time to exit this post with a tune.  "The Dance" by Garth Brooks.  No connection to this event, for sure, but a song, and a country singer, that I really like.  Hope you enjoy it, too...

Monday, June 16, 2014

FIX IT STICK...A Review...A 5 STARS RATING

"Opportunities multiply as they are seized." ~ Sun Tzu

"We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we have only one." ~ Confucius

As a consumer who happens to be a cyclist, I often hear/see/read about products online, in magazines, or another cyclist has an item that catches my eye.  During this year's Tour of the Gila, held annually in Silver City, NM, I happened to be in Tyrone, NM, during the Time Trial leg of the Tour.  A friend, Karl Frisch, is a professional wrench and lives down the street from me in Silver City.  He was working for SRAM during this year's Tour.  The energy of the event is palpable...and the BIKES!  Whoa!  My credit cards were weeping.  A LOT of money in bikes there!  While talking with Karl, I overheard a guy, who was riding a Lynskey bike (yes, we cyclists notice these things...sort of like women noticing other women's clothes), talking to one of the other SRAM wrenches.  He mentioned that he worked at REI and had this cool, compact, bike tool that a guy he knew was making.  Well, something along those lines.  Made a mental note of what he said: Fix It Stick.
This Fix It Stick compact bicycle tool gets a "5 Star" rating from me.
I don't get paid to review bike products, or any other product.  Nor do I get  free product to do a review.  Even if I did, I'd still review it as I see it.  Those who review products for money and/or for free product and always say good things about the product are worthless, at best, and dishonest, at worst, maybe more.  Yes, someone can like a product and someone else may not.  I get that.  Ok, not going down THAT road.  It leads to hell.  So, Fix It Stick.  A few days after the Time Trial, I searched for Fix It Sticks.  Still wasn't sure if it warranted the exemplary commentary the Lynskey bike rider/REI worker said about it, but, what the hell, take a chance!  I ordered one...the one with replaceable bits.  $36 bucks.  Fair price in the scheme of things.  It was still in production and shipping would be by June/2014.  I got mine a bit early.  And I was immediately impressed with the solid build of the Fix It Stick.  No slouch materials or crap from China.  I ran it through some basics and I liked it.  When Eileen decided she was going to start riding her bike again as adjunct training to her running, some adjustments needed to be done to her Surly Long Haul Trucker.  Headed to the shed for my full sized tools, but stopped in my tracks and thought, hey, let's give the Fix It Stick a tryout.  Better to do it at home than on the road, IMHO.

This Fix It Stick rocks, my friends.  Rocks!  It's sturdy, made of very durable, quality materials, and feels sturdy in my hands.  It can be used as a T-style wrench or an L-style wrench with just a simple move of one part.  It gets into those places that can be troublesome and provide leverage frequently missing with some of the other "all in one" bike tools.  Was it worth the $36 bucks?  Damn right!  I liked it so much that I immediately ordered one for my nephew and sent it off to him.  Told him to send it back to me if he didn't like it and I'd put it in Eileen's bike bag.


Brian Davis is the brains behind this tool.  Sent him an e-mail telling him how much I liked the Fix It Stick and that I was sending one off to my nephew.  He liked that.  It looks like the price is $35.99 including shipping.  In my opinion, well worth it.  It is, hands down, the best bike tool I've seen in my "career" as a bike rider.  I replaced the tools that I was carrying in my seat bag with this one tool.  It comes in a carrying case made from a tube.  For most riders, only a few tools are necessary when riding around where they live.  Touring cyclists, however, have a greater need for more tools, just in case, to work on things that come up and home is not nearby nor a bike shop.  The Fix It Stick allows me to have several of the tools that I need as a touring cyclist in one small package.  I can bring other tools and fit them all into one bag in my pannier.

Your experience may be different, but, if you're looking for a compact bicycle tool that really works, I think you'll like this Fix It Stick.  You won't regret having one in your seat bag...just in case.  

A tune to exit this post with...The Temptations doing, "My Girl".  Way too many memories with this tune.  I was trying to learn how to dance about this time and some guys I met in college were teaching me.  Too, too funny.  Enjoy...I still love this one.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Pope...And His Wife???

"If a kid asks where rain comes from, I think a cute thing to tell him is ‘God is crying’. And if he asks why God is crying, another cute thing to tell him is ‘Probably because of something you did’." ~ Jack Handey, Deep Thoughts

Yeah.  Yeah.  So what?  I like it.  Please, let's keep our senses of humor about us, ok?  Moving right along now...

Pius and Margrit.  Not a Pope and his wife, but a couple from Switzerland, who are friends with another couple that stayed with us a few years ago, Hannes and Analiese.  Unfortunately, these folks contacted us via Warmshowers.org to see if we'd be able to host them for a night, but we'd just finished hosting two riders, Don and Bryce, who rode in the Tour of the Gila.  A few nights off from hosting was in the cards, so I said no to them, but asked them to contact me when they got to Silver City, so we could have lunch and chat.  They're doing the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route to Canada, then heading down the West coast to Mexico, then back home to Switzerland.

Pius and Margrit outside Gila Hike & Bike with their bicycles.

Pius and Margrit outside Gila Hike & Bike with their bicycles.



Pius and Margrit at Silver City RV Park where they stayed for a couple of nights.

Pius and Margrit at Silver City RV Park.

Home on the road...
And a short video of Pius and Margrit at the Silver City RV Park that I took with my new iPhone 5S and you'll see that I'm still a novice...
Pius and Margrit are well into Colorado now and heading north.  While they managed to encounter snow in the mountains in Colorado, they managed to miss the first big forest fire of the 2014 season here in the Gila Wilderness, the Signal Peak Fire...they give names to all the fires...and were well past it before it ignited.  Or rather some dumb ass ignited it while staying in the Cherry Creek campground near Signal Peak.  Best wishes to them on their journey...

A James Taylor tune, "Fire and Rain", seems apropos, so here it is...lots of memories with this tune.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Grand Bois Cerf Blue Label Tires...A Review

"Buy the ticket.  Take the ride." ~ Hunter Stockton Thompson

I don't think Hunter was referring to bicycles when he said this.  Just a hunch.

Recently, I purchased a new set of tires for my Vitus.  Had another flat with the Grand Bois Col de la Madeleines, front tire, and, when examining both tires, the front was acceptable, but the rear had a 1 inch long area where the tread was worn through.  Taking a chance, I decided to purchase another set of the Grand Bois series of tires from Compass Bicycles despite not being overjoyed with how fast the Grand Bois Col de la Madeleine tires wore out.  This time, I purchased the Grand Bois Cerf Blue Label tires, 700c x 26mm, to help with cushioning the roads around here and to see if the larger size improved puncture proofness or not.  Decent price and weight...222 grams and $57/each. Their extra leger tires only weigh 184 grams, but cost $76/each.  Pretty lightweight, but costly.
Grand Bois Cerf (French for "deer") Tires
First thing I noticed was that, like the Col de la Madeleine tires, these Cerf Blue Label tires were comfortable and seemed to have low rolling resistance.  New sneakers phenomenon?  Don't think so, as the Col de la Madeleine tires really were faster than other tires I'd purchased.  The size of the Cerf Blue Label tires (26mm) also seems to absorb some of the rough road surfaces around here.  Taxes are low here for a reason.  Get on a bike and you'll see the effect of those low taxes.

Another aspect of these tires, both Col de la Madeleine and Cerf Blue Label, is they're made in Japan and feel very different than tires from other companies.  Much more flexible and easy to mount on rims.  The Col de la Madeleines were difficult to get off, which was a pain out on the road while trying to fix a flat.  No flats with the Cerf Blue Label tires yet.  Will let you know, if and when that occurs.

UPDATE:  It's been a few weeks now and several rides on these tires.  I am impressed.  As I was with the Col de la Madeleine tires, but these feel hardier.  Still a smooth ride, minimal resistance (to my senses anyways).  They're a bit wider and they definitely smooth out the rough roads of Silver City, NM.  There's a reason taxes are so low here.  I would give these tires, for now, a 5 star rating.  Over time, I'll see how they hold up and will do a review in about 6 months.

For now, a time to leave this post with a tune...Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, along with the Old Crow Medicine Show, doing, "The Weight".  My wife isn't a fan, but I really like Gillian and how she sings.  Hope y'all enjoy.  Time to go...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

NAKED WOMEN!! And the 2014 Tour of the Gila Stage Race!

"The edge.  There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who know where it is are the ones who have gone over." ~ Hunter S. Thompson

"Set yourself on fire.  Seek those who fan your flames." ~ Rumi

No, there aren't any naked women in this post.  Just want to see if using those words in the post heading increases the number of hits this post gets.  Sorry if I disappointed anyone!

Since we, unfortunately, weren't in Ireland again this year, we hosted a couple of CAT 4 bike racers from Austin, TX, this year.  Having riders that are taking part in this 5 day stage race in Silver City makes it more interesting and we like getting to meet the riders up close and personal.  Don Bergman, Bryce Billing, and Carey Jung (forgot to ask him if he was related to that JUNG!).  They all came over to Silver City in Carey's RV, which Carey stayed in while in Silver City while Don and Bryce stayed at our house.
Carey warming up for the Tyrone Time Trials.

Bryce and Don getting ready for the Inner Loop Stage from Pinos Altos, NM.  Brrrrrrr!
Bicyclists, in my opinion, are a rare breed in so many ways and racing cyclists are a sect all their own. Training schedules, food, warm ups, slang, language, parts, bikes, gear, clothing, cool downs, things they do to ease the pains so they can ride as well as they can the next day, and more, are what these riders are involved with daily.  Seems like a lot to me, but I do a lot to get ready for a tour, so I understand.  Beer is my preferred post-ride pain reliever and re-hydrating.  Helps me face the next day of riding.  My regular riding around here doesn't require me to go to the same extremes as these racers go to.  I'm not racing anyone except myself.

Don managed to place 6th in his category, woohooo, which was great for him since it was his first time here in a stage race.  I think he won $35.  Enough to buy something for the bike, er, his wife, Jillian, I'm sure. Bryce and Carey, while they didn't place, had fun.  Fun?  Well, I use that term loosely.  Not sure they'd have used that term at the end of the last race day, Sunday, but maybe now with a few days rest under their belts? They all got acquainted with "elevation" around here and probably won't forget what that means for a while.

Bryce managed, in just a few minutes, to give me the best, most concise description of how to adjust a rear derailleur that I've ever had in my lifetime of cycling.  I actually think I know how to do it now, so a big thanks to Bryce from a derailleur dummy!  And Carey was familiar with Michael Mosley and The Fast Diet that I did a recent post on.  We had a good chat about fasting while he was waitin' on his turn at the Time Trials down in Tyrone, NM.  Oh, and Don's wife, Jillian, is giving it a try to help her drop some post-pregnancy weight gain.  Best wishes to Jillian from a fellow struggler!!!

Most days of the race, the weather was really pretty good with minimal winds.  It was cold on Thursday at 7am-ish when I drove Don and Bryce to the start line up in Pinos Altos, NM, for their Inner Loop stage.  A brisk morning and a descent right from the start made it even colder for them initially.  Plus a headwind for about 60% of their race that day.  Welcome to the mountains of New Mexico...

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the weather was really excellent.  Couldn't ask for better considering this is Springtime in New Mexico and wind is the operative word every day.  Lots of people downtown for the Saturday Crit race.  Food, sun, beer jail (in New Mexico, people are required to stay in an enclosed area to drink any alcoholic beverages that are sold outside and we fondly refer to it as the "beer jail"), people watching, music, and fun.  A great package all on one main street.  Come to Silver City for the Criterion race some year and check it out for yourself.
Eileen having too much fun in the Beer Jail...
On Friday night, Eileen, me, Don, and Bryce headed off to 1zero6 for dinner.  Jake, the chef, always cooks up a good meal.  Should you be in Silver City, NM, for any reason, make sure it's a weekend and call Jake ahead of time to make reservations for dinner.  You'll be glad you did.
Bryce, Don, and Eileen watched over by the 1zero6 Devil outfit!!

Bryce drinking up the best post-ride pain reliever known to mankind...
After the last race on Sunday, Bryce, Don, and Carey headed out in the RV back to Austin.  Now, they're back home and those painful moments are beginning to transition into those fuzzy memories that the brain converts into "good" so that, by this time next year, they'll be convincing themselves that it wasn't TOO bad and let's "DO IT AGAIN!!" will be dancing around in their heads and and they'll say, "Why not?"...and they'll be back.  The first climb will remind them of the pain and have them asking themselves, "Why in hell am I doing this AGAIN???".  Too funny but too true.  Usually it takes two times at the Tour of the Gila for those who aren't professionals to say, "Whoa!  What am I doing?" and reconsider.  Now, their friend, Frank, also from Austin, has done the Tour 14 times!  A sick puppy, no doubt.  Who in their right mind would do this thing 14 times in a row?  Damn, Frank must be on meds.  Anyways, to my new Texas friends, ride on and keep havin' fun.

Alright, now, despite the promise of NAKED WOMEN, I'm closing this post out with a couple of good tunes from Texas, for the riders from Austin...  First, Guy Clark doing, "L.A. Freeway", one of my favs, followed by "London Homesick Blues" by Gary P. Nunn, accompanied by Jerry Jeff Walker, another fav.