Man at work

Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

While cranking out a column and cartoon to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the launching of the good ship Bicycle Retailer and Industry News back in 1992, it struck me that I was approaching a milestone of my own — as of today, I have been a full-time freelancer for 25 years.

That is not a typo.

After quitting my seventh and final newspaper gig, at The New Mexican up Santa Fe way, I raced the Record Challenge in Moriarty on Sunday, Sept. 1, 1991 (56:43 for 40km, a personal best), and the very next day I was up north in Bibleburg, trying to figure out how a burned-out newspaperman might pay for his bacon and beans.

I had three things going for me. One, I had been freelancing cartoons and light journalism to VeloNews since March 1989, and I began doing more of that, helping cover (now-defunct) races like La Vuelta de Bisbee, the Casper Classic, and the Cactus Cup, and lending a hand with copy-editing and production up in Boulder.

Two, Marc Sani at BRAIN wanted a comic strip for his brand-new industry magazine, and before long I was writing some stuff for him, too.

And three, Herself and I were living rent-free with my mom, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and required oversight. So we’re not exactly talking Hemingway-in-Paris here; we had a roof over our heads, three hots and a cot, and a small allowance for serving as live-in help while my sister managed Mom’s finances from Fort Collins.

At first I could and did work for anyone. But eventually the VeloNews and BRAIN gigs led to other work in the bike biz, and after a while that’s all I did. It’s hard to believe, but a guy could actually earn a semi-OK living scribbling for bicycle magazines, and eventually, bicycle websites. Who knew? Not me. Not until I had 15 years of newspapering under my belt, anyway.

Today I work for BRAIN and Adventure Cyclist, period. It’s not exactly heavy lifting. I get to make shit up for the one and play with other people’s toys for the other. I should be paying them, not the other way around.

You guys, of course, get the dubious benefits of 40 years’ experience for free. You’re welcome.


Tags: , , ,

26 Responses to “Man at work”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    And don’t forget those Foaming Rants and your blog, buddy. Plus, I recall being one of the low lifes goading you into that Fat Guy t-shirt, which morphed into my favorite race day jersey back in the daze.

    As a faithful follower of your screeds, thank you very much for making my daily life a little more enjoyable in these tumultuous times.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      My one regret about “Friday’s Foaming Rant” is that we named it “Friday’s Foaming Rant.” Some Fridays I didn’t feel foamy or rantish, but to behave otherwise seemed contrary to the spirit of the thing.

      The blog has been around in one form or another since I can’t remember when. My handwritten journals petered out in the mid-1990s, but I think I started some basic blog back in the AOL days and then got semi-serious with an actual webpage when we moved to Weirdcliffe. Those early efforts, alas, are confetti in the shredder of history.

      The Fat Guy kit surprises me with its longevity. I still earn a dishonest dollar or two off sales through Voler, even though Il Fattini’s appearances these days are limited to Live Update Guy and BRAIN. The porky sonofabitch just strikes a chord with some folks.

  2. Charley Auer Says:

    And you are a great bargain, thanks!

  3. matlinp Says:

    Thanks for all the years of Rants, etc., though I’m still waiting for “Fear and Loathing at the Coors Classic”.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I attended the Coors on a couple of occasions, but hadn’t really gotten the racing bug yet. That I picked up in 1987, shortly before moving to Santa Fe. It was all downhill from there, and I’ve never been good on the descents.

  4. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Congratulations! Complimenti! Reminds me when folks say to me, “Wow, you are so lucky…” I am (very) but like you, they don’t know what it took to eventually become “lucky” enough to get paid to do stuff you’d gladly do for free.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      So much luck. If I’d gotten hired as managing editor of VeloNews back in the day — that was the job I applied for — I’d have been out on my ear in fairly short order and probably gone back to newspapering.

      As it turned out, Tim Johnson got the gig and did a fine job with it, eventually becoming the outfit’s first web guy, if memory serves. I, of course, got to be the cartoonist, which is a good deal easier than running either a magazine or a website.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Yep, some of those things go in the “Be grateful you didn’t get what you wanted!” category.
        Gawd, Interbike’s coming up fast now, eh?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Fast and furious, m’man. I need to get the Forester serviced, consult the dudes at Reincarnation as to the odds of getting there and back without resorting to hitchhiking.

      • Larry T Says:

        I guess I gotta hope the Southwest 737 doesn’t barf an engine on the way out there or we could end up landing on you on your way to Lost Wages.
        Quite a contrast – the wife’s flying off to Greece to hobknob with her fellow wizards of sport philosophy while I’ll be flying off to Bugsy Seigel’s sandbox to hobknob with the likes of you.

  5. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Thanks for 25 years of “heavy shit!” Especially the Foaming Rants!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      “Hey, man, ask those pigs if they can give us a push. …”

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        My favorite C&C movie. Just watched it a few weeks ago. Of course “Eddie Torres the Extra Testicle” and wrestling the invisible man bit from the “Still Smokin” are a close second place.
        Where does the time go? That is the question for this time of life. I drink my coffee, turn around and it’s 3PM. We look at each other and say, “where the hell did the day go?” I don’t mind it much if there was a ride, the longer the better, involved somewhere in the day. One thing is for sure, we aren’t bored as some predicted the day I retired.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        We just spent a rousing late afternoon/early evening sitting on the back patio, listening to a little Miles Davis and watching Agent Orange the Rufous Hummingbird chase all the other hummers away from the feeder. I got no complaints.

        Also, I got a bike ride in. This may have something to do with the lack of complaints.

  6. Sharon Says:

    The first time I read one of the Foaming Rants, I thought to myself this guy has some anger issues. Then I read it again and thought, oh I get it now…satire. After that it was one of the first things I looked for in VN, well that and the cartoon! Cheers to many, many good years of making people laugh at themselves and others in fun…the best way to get through life. We surely need as much laughter as possible these days.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      As you’ve discovered, I’m rarely angry. Peeved is about my top end. OK, so maybe irascible. Crabby? Pissy? Disgruntled? OK, it’s a fair cop. But have you ever actually met anyone who was gruntled? Damn few of those folks around these days, and no wonder.

  7. JD Dallager Says:

    PO’G: Congrats on 25 years of successful entrepreneurialism, great journalism, ingenious satire/wit, and some occasional curmudgeonry. Few, if any, of us are fortunate enough to discover our true talents…..much less share them successfully with so many. You’ve done that … good on ya!! 🙂

    S-o-o-o-o, many thanks for a great quarter century…..hopefully another to come. Ride on, brother, ride on.

  8. Herb in NH Says:

    Congrats, Patrick! Always turned first to the cartoon in VN. Still miss the Foaming Rant, ‘though the blog recaptures the spirit given sufficient provocation,and Dog knows there’s no lack of late. Keep on keepin’ on!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Oy, is there ever provocation, Herb. Sometimes too much. I feel for the poor TV comics who have to surf the shit-tide on a daily basis. Satire is having trouble holding the wheel lately.

  9. Libby Says:

    Congratulations and thank you, Patrick!
    Where does the time go?
    Yes indeed, ride on, write on, right on!

  10. khal spencer Says:

    Shit. Just found out a 48 year old riding buddy of mine collapsed and died along the side of the road up here near Chez Bombtown. Moment of silence, all?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: