Monday, August 23, 2010

Leave it to the Spaniards...

...You catch them for massive organized doping campaigns and not long after they're making scientific proof that boozing is good for you. The result, a little recovery tip sent from a reader (yes, I have those...), that will tickle all you barfly MTBers:

Sunday, August 22, 2010

the fray...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'm goin' to Africa and I ain't got no pants

Some people might call it foolish to go wandering about foreign continents for a month with only two pairs of pants and a pair of shoes so worn out that they're alternately held together with duct tape and plastic bags (until time was made for permanent repairs). I, however, don't know those people. Nor, do I any longer have pants. Now, I know what you're thinking, 20-something guy goes to the city with "XXX" on the flag and it's no surprise that he can't keep his pants on. Well, it's totally not like that. The first pair was abducted by the hotel laundry. Then there's the other pair...

This weekend was the beginning of the Tall Ships event in Amsterdam. In keeping with the theme, the fab conference concluded with a boat building competition where a bunch of us concocted some contraptions and launched them in the canal. This was all well and good until the first person fell in and turned pirate, swamping every boat they could reach. Long story short, it's a wonder we didn't all contract the plague. We did however draw a huge crowd with our antics (easily 200 people):

Guess we're more fun than a bunch of stodgy old sailboats:

Back to Kenya a little bit freer...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Birth of the Cool

Continuing on the theme of how Amsterdam is a magical place, a little anecdote from last evening... Everyone knows that Amsterdam is something of a party city, what with its lax drug, alcohol and prostitution laws, vibrant night life and compact geography, but unlike most of the "cool" places I've been, the funk goes all the way to the top. Last night I wandered into my foofy conference hotel (the Lloyd Hotel, for those interested) at about 2am, and stepped into the elevator only to hear and elevator music version of Dr. Dre's "Bang Bang". That's right, these never forgot about Dre.
Another example of cool had to do with today's adventure, involving a homemade composite boat, a public dock and public transit. After drawing an amused crowd on the shoreline as we paddled around in the ocean with our cotton-fiber contraption, we proceeded to bring it onto the the train, whereupon the conductor started giving us a hard time (while trying hard not to laugh). We called his bluff and pushed back, asserting that it was lighter than a bike and not any bigger than the largest person that might get on, resulting not only in our admittance, but also his insistence that we didn't pay. Conclusion: Amsterdam rocks.

Possible mission for today: homemade hovercraft...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Only in the Netherlands

Can't find free Internet to save your life (I'm totally in an alley grafting off someone's wifi), but you can find stairs with a trough to roll your bike up and down. Dunno if that was deliberately engineered as such, but seems to be a popular feature nonetheless.

Oh and sorry about never finishing the New Mexico pics. Been busy :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hello from the Chama

Contrary to popular belief Pedal and Wrench are not dead. I rode with the Pedal, in fact, not two weeks ago (visual evidence is on my desktop, so you'll have to take my word for it). It's been a rough winter for the two of us though, with new "jobs" and life changes and all that, but short of packing on a few pounds we're still alive and kicking. Courtesy of some friend's nuptials, I happen to be kicking [it] at the moment in New Mexico and doing a little exploring. Here's a taste of updates to come:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From pedal to ped

If there is a place the wild things are, it certainly isn't New Jersey.

I'm missing the Zen of the holy shit moments, the rhythm of man and machine flowing through the curves and over a mountain, the hair raising descent down a stony gulch on two inch tires and a saddle slapping my chest. I even, honestly, truly miss that wretched day in BCBR where I hated the earth the sun and myself. And what I wouldn't give now for a ride with Keith and Seth in the Fells, on snow and ice, new trail ahead and uncertainty below?

Life is hard, and harder when you're at your desk looking out the window at fresh snow, thinking back on grand adventures where each moment held a lifetime. I try not to do much of it, looking out the window that is - better to focus on the work before me. If there is a way, it is for heart and mind and body to be one. As athletes, we trained our bodies to do a task and to do it well. Beautifully perhaps. We transformed ourselves to a purpose - our muscles, our dreams, our minds merged into one, a single goal, a reason for being. That reason escapes me now.

As much as I would like to try to convince Keith to take another go at the BCBR, I don't have it in me, the time or the strength. What I need is a return to a simpler way of being, with time and space for thinking and not thinking, for doing and not doing. I'm taking a hiatus from the pedal, turning to hiking - a meditation of steps through the Sierras. I don't know how far I'll go or how long I'll be. I need something simple, tangible - a hike ending at a hot springs, counting off time with a song sung a hundred times over, fighting sleep to catch one more glimpse of the vastness of the stars overhead.

I have a guide book to the Tuolumne Meadows area to think on, and a new stove, an MSR Dragonfly (you have to respect a stove that burns white gas, kerosene, gasoline, diesel and chicken fat). The seeds are sown. Here's to focus, honest work, and a dream of the wild.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kids these days

Once every year I am reminded that I am slowly but surely getting old (this year, I even get to share my day of remembrance with a deceased civil rights leader...). Though I've managed to skip the balding, the beer gut, and the wife and kids so far, year in the last few, without fail, there has been something to remind me that things aren't the way they used to be:

Everyone here remembers the early-mid 90's right? You know, when your bike wasn't cool unless every piece of aluminum on it was anodized in a different color? When bar-ends were all the rage, and michelin still made tires in iridescent green? In fact, everyone made tires in iridescent green. it was the ONLY color for a MTB tire. Yes, of course you do. Your non-cyclist friends are still questioning your sexual orientation as a result of that time period. Looking back at it, YOU might be questioning it too, but I digress...

I recently put together a bicycle with these most-decidedly vintage tires:

As I was carrying it down the stairs earlier this weekend in an undergraduate MIT dorm where my friend is resident advisor, some brazen young whipper snappers pipe up and ask, "so those tires are green, does that mean they're ECO-friendly?"

"No," I said. "It means they're from 1994"

[blank stare]

That's it, these kids were still crapping their pants as a matter of course during the real green revolution. Now, they're just pains in the ass. [opens can of sodi-pop with one remaining tooth]

(if you're in Boston on Monday and reading this, come help me celebrate not having gray hair just yet!)

The Wrench

Image credit:

The Triple is Dead

With all this being studious BS lately, I realize I haven't been posing any real "content" (read: I'm about six months behind on my cyclingnews reading). For this I apologize, and will quickly try to make amends below:

Last year I talked a bit about how much I liked the Sram XX development (though I'm not entirely sold on 10sp drivetrains given that I already blow through two chains and a cassette a year), and when Shimano dropped the triple from their DA lineup in leiu of a compact double in '09, there was considerable hubub about how the world was changing (<---read this one, it's really good), but with Shimano now offering an off-the-shelf mountain double in the new SLX line (incidentally, with the gearing I run) and the XX taking "Best New Product" honors in the annual cyclingnews poll I think it is fair to say the triple crank is officially dead. If the XX sells as well next year as everyone thinks it will, it's likely Shimano will follow suit with a double offering as well. IMO, they're waiting to see how the non-standard SRAM BCD and 10 speed shifting sorts out in the market (the first, at least, is rubbish) before throwing their hat in the ring. They've already got plenty of pros out there hacking the current XTR to run double.

What does this mean for you? If you're cool, then you might as well start throwing out chainrings now. I, for one, will no longer go on a group ride where any bike has more than two of them unless one of the three is so damaged from rolling over logs that it only functions as a bashguard. Those of you who are artistically inclined might even be able to defray the cost of switching to a new, $470, standards-ignoring dedicated double setup by making some home appliances with your newly freed hardware.

This guy, for instance has realized that both triples AND CDs are dead, combining them artfully into one ironic timepiece:

While this guy has doubled his coolness by also ditching the small ring:

Don't be a loser. Lose a ring. Everybody's doin' it.

Image credis:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

TTD Part 2: Stubborn Refusal to Yield

The first thing you get taught in therapy is that the best way to make yourself do something difficult is to tell a whole bunch of people you're going to do it so you'll be motivated by not failing and looking like an asshole in front of all your friends (read: my Masters' Thesis...). Well, last week I promised biking within the week, no matter what the conditions, and today I bring you my journey of stubborn refusal to yield.

In case you haven't noticed, winter is in full force out here in New-England town--there hasn't been a day above freezing in at least ten--and today's temperature was, well, I don't really know. It's too cold in my kitchen for the batteries in the little weather gadget to work-->

...but if the weather is tame enough for the mailman to take to the sidewalks, we must to the woods! Besides, the dog was going to be a pain in the ass all day if I didn't tire him out a little. And so, my morning...

(Thanks to the joy of copyright, the original soundtrack was not allowed by youtube, but you can do the old volume switcharoo with the intended track HERE Edit: though the replacement track ain't so bad either...)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's official. I give up.

Yeah so it snowed. A lot. Two inches was cool. Four was nbd. Six got everyone else and I felt real tough being the only guy still on a bike, but after four stoms in a row and drifts up to two feet, the hiking boots have made their way out of the basement (I even bought some AT gear, but that's another story entirely...). By no means do I endorse cross-training. On the contrary, any form of travel or exercise that involves impact or weight bearing should be avoided at all cost, even if it means withdrawal from non-cyclist social groups or rolling around your office in your chair all day to stay off your feet. But these are special circumstances, and you KNOW how I feel about trainers...

Hold your breath, here is the first ever photo proof of a pedal and wrench character NOT on a bike. His face is hidden to protect his identity and corresponding reputation, but it is nonetheless abundantly clear that this guy is in the woods and not on a bike. What you can't tell from the photo is that he's crying softly to himself and asking every five minutes (between sobs) when the trails will be rideable again.

This poor soul is not alone. It's a safe bet that you're reading this from some sort of heinous stationary exercise torture device in between motivational reruns of the biggest loser (you already finished lost, survivor, and 24). Have no fear, however, I promise that you'll be riding bikes vicariously through the wrench again within the week, whether it be well advised or no... Until then, enjoy this tasty photo of some hiker's rear end:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Place for Everything and Everything in it's Place

Pegboard 1. Disorder 0.

Where the magic happens...