Chicago Critical Mass 11.24.06

Since Critical Mass fell on the day after Thanksgiving, I had a feeling that we were in for a big treat. I was not let down.
Initially, the Mass was supposed to start at Daley Center as per usual. I had already trained into the City on Metra and ridden the Dahon to meet at Quisp's gf's apartment. The pictures above and below show the nonsensical scene at Daley Plaza. There were so may people attending some German village fest there that there was absolutely no place for bikers.

We ended up getting the word that the Mass would start from Federal Plaza, Below you can see the typical sights of a Chicago Mass.

The Mass seemed to be a celebration of anti consumerism, so with the biggest shopping day of the year with one of the most expensive cities laying in wait, hilarity was destined to ensue.

Above is a shot looking back on Michigan Avenue looking north. The plan was to head north on State weave around the Rush Street area and of course cause havoc on the Magnificent Mile. There was quite a decent turnout and lots of laughs. "Buy some more $#it!" was one of the more amusing comments used again and again with the "Ye AH!" pointed at some out of state shoppers that were so startled that they dropped their bags. At one point the token rollerbalder was going down Mich Ave, and I heard a loud scream. He had jumped onto the windshield of a minivan. I asked him later why he did that. He yelled, "Because they were getting too close!!!"
What stupid fun.

The ride itself wound south through the Loop down to Roosevelt and then out west on Taylor, et al. We did not make it all the way to the destination of 24th Street and Marshall. (There was a party there.) The thought of going all the way north again was too much.

Instead we went north up Damen or something to Elm Street and refueled at the Edwardo's Pizza that is in the neighborhood. All that grease combined with a couple of St Pauli Girls, I was ready for the next phase of the evening- a ride 9 miles north to Rogers Park.

We headed north through Lincoln Park and then eventually up through Uptown, up up up to Roger's. I caught a bit of a breather at the end for some more water, then I sprinted on the Dahon to the train. I made it home to tea and bed by midnight. My knees were killing me from all the distance on the wee bike.



It is 50 degrees or so today with an abundance of sun, so I decided to get the Mustang out of the garage for some speed trials on the streets.

The tank was down to a quarter of a tank, so I went to the local filling station and put 10 gallons of high test in and added 5 oz of STP lead substitute- not for road use it says on the bottle. Yeah, right, want to keep the original seals in the 289 happy. Gimme some more lead.

I warmed up the powerplant on some 30 and 35 mph stretches of road before I got to my favorite mile stretch, which I find out from my neighbor has been a speedway since at least the 70s.

I cross the stop sign zone and turn north rolling at a couple of miles an hour. Then I pointed the coupe northwards.

I hammered the gas and sidestepped the clutch. The new tires that I put on earlier this year made nary a squeal nor emitted the slightest amount of smoke, I was a bit disappointed.

I rode 1st, dumped the clutch and dropped into 2nd and rode it to what seemed the redline. I then short shifted 3rd, and then wound in 4th a bit. The FOMOCO gauge said 65 mph...

Just then I look in the rearview, which I had neglected as I enjoyed both the rush of acceleration as well as the fumes of unspent high test (coated with lead). I see the tell tale lights of johnie law.

I take the right foot to the rest position. I look in the mirror and the Man gives me a wink and a tilt of the hat. Then he hammers his Crown Vic, and speeds by.

I was only doing about 20 mph over the posted, but incidents like the one relayed above, make me realize that I shouldn't push my luck when putting about in the Civic.

As I relaxed my pace on the rest of the am drive, I spent more time looking around. In the distance, I heard the sound of a fierce modern motor. Then I saw the metallic blue paint and the white stripe of the new Shelby GT500. I clicked my headlights on and off and gave the driver the high sign as he roared towards me.

He saw me and waved and then just buried the accelerator. (Remember this is in traffic on a public road in the weekday morning.)

I hope that johnnie law feels generous when he sees this new Stang. This guy was doing some serious damage both speed and soundwise.


Sonics Busy Body

Could this be the reissue single of 2006?

I am not real sure of the provenance of this record. It is a live recording from The Tacoma Sports Arena 11.27.64. Our friends took the R&B flavor and brewed it to an exceptionally strong elixir. Tim "Back From The Grave" Warren mastered this monster and it appears as Norton 133.

The front side is an instro workout with the horns pushing it along and the drums anchoring it down. They took a song that garage afficionadoes are familiar from The Jolly Green Giants, and threw it in the NW R&R blender and came up with something entirely new.

The mastering is extremely loud. The kick drum is very prominent on the mix on the flip, "The Witch," my fave Sonics track. Gary Roslie's vocal is buried in the mix. But hey, I can't imagine the source tape was all that pretty being a live rock and roll tape from 42 years ago.

The guitar brak is tough. This is one that I continue to hit the play button on the Beogram. Repeat!



I made it out to lunch to a place called Beyond Bread for an early lunch. I had a pretty good sandwich, that had olive paste, goat cheeze and carmelized onions.

After these preparations, we headed to Sahauro Monument West. We made our way west out of town on Speedway. The drive is quite exhilierating, but since you cross over the ridge, you really forget that a town of 1 million population is very near.

For fun after the hike we took a drive to see one of Tucson's more classic sites-- The Notel Motel. This place is super creepy. As we pulled in to the parking lot to get some shots in the Honda, I got pretty creeped out. This place is for the Bates Motel school of hospitality. It also reminded me of a Manson family preferred stay property. I don't think anyone had been in the pool since 1968.



I got up early and hit Macy’s before leaving Flagstaff for Tucson. I rolled with Pass the Caviar, Captain Beefheart Lick My Decals Off, Baby, and then a couple volumes of Prae Kraut Pandemonium. I saw a few highway patrols, but nothing was too weird even as I had to slow down for no apparent reason to the direct north of the cancer known as Phoenix.

As I drove down Grant on the north side of town, heading east, I once again realized why I like Tucson so much. It is dirty and everything seems old and worn out- not recycled, just being in constant use. Seeing a 67 Mustang daily driver just all clapped out, but still moving under its own power is a great thing.

We also made a trip out to the Ventana Trail for an afternoon jaunt up the drainage. It is quite evident on that trail that Tucson has had much more rain than normal due to the change in overgrowth on the trail.

Trip interuptted for THE TROGGS

Apparently, Spinal Tap was inspired by this set of tapes, where "during a session and display, according to The Penguin Encyclopaedia of Popular Music, "instrumental incompetence, mutual recrimination and much foul language". They inspired the sequence in which Tufnel and St Hubbins have their row in the Rainbow Trout Recording Studio."




Today was the Grand Canyon.

We made it to the South Rim at about 9:30. Prior to leaving Flagstaff, we grabbed coffee and breakfast at Macy’s. A simple 2 room cafĂ© where they roast their own beans. The Americano and the breakfast croissant were very good.

When we got to The Grand Canyon, we decided to take the Grandview trail to Horseshoe Mesa. It is roughly 3+ miles from the trail head and it approximately 3000 feet lower in elevation from the parking lot where we parked the Path Finder. I borrowed some hiking sticks.

The views directly below my feet, had at some points 1000-foot drops. The trail is roughly 110 years old and was originally used for hauling copper ore up on donkey back. That said, some of the trail sections are simply old tree trunks mounted into the canyon wall. Behind the dam formed by the attached tree trunks, dirt and ravel comprise the footpath. Pretty bizarre, especially on the return hike.

Going down, was extremely difficult on my knees, even using the hiking sticks. I cannot imagine how much more difficult it would have been without the sticks.

We made it to Coconino Saddle, which is one mile from the trailhead, and stopped for a trail bar.
After this intermission, we quickly came upon an area called The Cobbles, stones were arranged by humans at some point. They must be on at least 20% grade, and there were some many switchbacks, I lost count. The Cobbles are very slippery and conducive to ankle twisting.

After two miles, we made it to Horseshoe Saddle It is very flat, shaped like a horse shoe and I believe that it has 2000 foot drops on some of its many sides. We also came upon what must heave been a cabin 100 or so years ago. It was made with red rocks arranged like bricks. It ended up looking like a primitive Hogan.

We moseyed along past Horseshoe Mesa and down into a drainage. Following the drainage we found a well used trail that was nearly non-existent at some points. At the end of the scary trail that overlooked a 1000 foot or so drop to the Cottonwood River. This lead us to the Cave of Domes.

The Cave of Domes has an entrance where there used to be a door, the surrounding brick work looked identical to the structure at Horseshoe Mesa. Once inside, there was a series of low openings with the roofs opening up to standing height. The first domes had graffiti going back to 1800. When I got to the end (for me) we were in a room that had a 30 foot ceiling.

We got back to the car at about 4:30.
I have never kicked it as hard on any hike in my life.




In the afternoon, We took out the ATVs. I rode a fully auto 700 cc Yamaha. This thing had unending torque. We rode up into the hills, At one point I got the beast up to 60 mph. I would say that we went up to 40 miles away. We had made our way to the Lava Tubes. The Lava Tubes are a cave that goes straight into the earth. We clambered into the ground. Physically, I was fine with the descent, but I started to wig out a bit with the absence of sunlight. Jon worked my mind a bit and we made it a bit deeper into the ground. I would say that in 10 minutes we made it to the main room where the ceiling goes up to 12 feet of so.

the Trip 11.11.06


I left the house with a modicum of damage after last night’s City expedition. The trip on the Dahon, has yet to be matched in my bike riding experience. The rain was coming down so hard that I felt as if it combined with the wind was working to push me backwards.

The night was fun, punctuated by a Delerium tremens and a couple of Laguenista Bruns.

I fell asleep on the train ride home however, and I had to walk 5 miles to the Dahon that was parked at the Depot in the middle of the night. That was a lot of fun.

Today, I worked on getting packed and took a jaunt to the city. I checked out some folding bikes at Rapid Transit, I rode an aluminum framed five speed internal shifting beast called the Vitesse. It was noticeable more stiff than the Picolo that I am currently riding. It seemed a bit lighter, too. The 20 inch wheels seemed to allow a better coasting experience as well.

The flight was an experience, I watched part of that Nascar movie that Will Farrell put out, it sucked, but what stopped me from watching it was the person that went face down in the aisle in 1st class.

I rented a mighty Chevy Cobalt from Avis, the drive from PHX to Flagstaff was different for me. First of all, I 17 seems to be in great shape, I also was not piloting a broken down car. I felt naked as I did not have a weapon on board.

I abused the stereo by playing Wyld Canada v.1n at top volume.

Two typical AZ events unfolded on my journey. North of PHX, I got caught in a pack of 6-8 Civics. They were going pretty fast and after they surrounded me, they slowed down. It was a bit of a white knuckle, but they got off at Deer Valley.

South of Prescott (”Presskit”), I 17 is a 4 lane divided highway, that is 2 lanes of traffic, going in the same direction are separated by a large stone and tree median. I was shocked to see a set of high beams coming right at me. Some tweaker was heading south in the slow north-bound lane. The limit is 75 mph there, and I was struggling to keep the mighty Cobalt under 90. If I didn’t swerve onto the shoulder, I shudder to think what may have happened.


It is one of those nights

Where you don't really know if it is night or day. The wind is out of the north gusting at 40mph. It is inky black out, the rain is coming down in sideways sheets, it is 40 degrees.

Even the dog doesn't dig it.

So it is a spin of the Dahon, a ride of the train and the consumption of a couple of Belgians in preparation of the trip.

Maproom expedition, here I come.


Check out these posts

Coop has some excellent travelogue pics going right now of the coming La Carrera race in Mexico. I can't do justice to what will happen and what is currently happening.

50s cars ridding like the wind in Mexico. Sounds like quite the Neal Cassidy adventure...

Just read this and I will do the right thing and shut up.


Getting ready for a trip

I have been starting to get ready for an impending trip to the desert and to the high country for visit.

I went through the basement and started rounding up all of the supplies that I will require.

I will need to use the samsonite bag that I got as part of my purchase of the used Dahon folding bike off of craigslist.

I have been consulting various hiking books as well. It has been some time since I have been up in the high country. Methinks even Seth was somewhat jealous.

Time to start puttting together a list-- Northface bag, water bottles, pack pack...