Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 5: From balls to nuts

• Editor’s note: As the year winds down, I’m taking a page from the mainstream-media playbook and reprinting a handful of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Today’s final finger was published in December, the last issue of 2016.

The gang views with alarm in cinematic fashion.

The gang views with alarm in cinematic fashion.

Tour de Trump, v2.0:
Does this president
make our heads look fat?

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

“Stuck In the Middle,” by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan

By Patrick O’Grady

The day after the election a young reader emailed to say he hoped I would have a safe trip to New Zealand, adding, “With any luck we will not hear from you or the Clinton’s ever again.”

I feel confident calling him “young” because we olds know the difference between the plural and the possessive. Public school vs. home school, don’t you know.

As to whether he’s a “reader,” that’s an educated guess. I suppose his mom could have read him my column down in the basement, if he had one. A mom, I mean. Trailers don’t have basements.

But I digress.

Anyway, I’m not moving to New Zealand. Who wants a job herding hobbits? (Apologies to Hurben.) I’ll stay here, brush the fur on my own toes, and wait for the next wizard to pop round.

Mars is out, too. I’ve seen “The Martian” since that last column and I am definitely not into farming with my own poo. Better to sell it to some publisher and spend the proceeds at the Whole Paycheck, where everything is grown in unicorn milk and honey.

They report, I deride. Elsewhere in this issue you will find a report from Marc Sani and Matt Wiebe explaining that the bike industry is taking a wait-and-see approach to the New World Ordure.

It seems to me that our supply lines are a little long and vulnerable to attack by tariff for such a casual approach. But I don’t know anything about business. If I did, I’d be out doing some, and my journalism would consist of angry tweets.

Instead, here I sit — no, not broken-hearted, although I admire the art of writing on bathroom walls. There’s not much of a payoff on the production end, but still, it’s preferable to consumption (“He who reads these words of wit. …”

A sandwich? From Mars, you say? Thanks, but I’ll pass.

The Newton’s cradle of democracy. American politics has its ups and downs, and occasionally its side to sides. At times it reminds me of a Newton’s cradle, popularly known as an “executive ball clicker.”

The device consists of five metal balls suspended from parallel rods. Draw back the leftmost ball, let it go and the rightmost ball leaps outward. Do likewise with the rightmost ball and the leftmost ball swings free. Click, click, click, click; left, right, left, right.

The three-fifths of the balls that remain inactive just sit there, taking a pounding.

All in all, It’s tough on the balls, regardless of whether you dress right or left.

Training brah. Or maybe it’s like being pack filler on a training ride dominated by two clubs.

Twenty-five percent of the bunch wants an orderly workout, a collective effort focused on building fitness, honing paceline skills, and perfecting race tactics and strategy.

Another 25 percent wants to do whatever. Attacks! Counters! Chases! Catches! Hey, city-limit sign — sprint!

Meanwhile, everyone else, the anonymous types who are just along for the ride? They’re getting their balls banged. And it serves them right. Take a pull, f’chrissakes.

Just preambling along. The folks who chant “We the people” as though it were an incantation against evil spirits often forget the rest of the preamble: “… of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Form. Establish. Insure. Provide. Promote. Secure. Not a word about not voting, or taking a wait-and-see approach. Nowhere does the Constitution recommend sitting on your ass.

Asked at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 what form of government we would have going forward, Ben Franklin famously replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

It’s a tough wheel to hold.

Look for the union label. The “more perfect union” may be the toughest part. The pestilence-elect has had trouble forming and sustaining such relationships in his business and personal lives.

We’ve all seen imperfect unions — businesses, teams, governments, marriages — and I think this will be another of them. I don’t think America is young and pretty enough for this guy, with his wandering eye and a fat roll of other people’s money. For sure he lost interest in cycling a quarter century ago, when we still looked good in Lycra.

Back then we had a term for awakening after a night on the town to find a lumpish companion pillowed on one arm: “coyote ugly.” The idea was that, like a coyote caught in a trap, one would gladly gnaw off an arm to escape.

Now we’ve made our national bed, and we all have to sleep in it. And when we finally wake up to see President Coyote Ugly in there with us, it’s going to be too late to chew off an arm. He’ll have beaten us to it, and will be taking a leg with him for the road.

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5 Responses to “Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 5: From balls to nuts”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Well it will be a good four years for political satire. Keep at it and I’ll see you in one of those camps behind barbed wire fences.

    “…This boy is Ignorance, this girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all, beware this boy!”

    –Spirit of Christmas Present, aka Charles Dickens, foreseeing this last election. Happy New Year to all, if that is in keeping with the situation.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Imagine Darth Cheeto with the Patriot Act, including PRISM, and Authorization for Use Of Military Force in his little hands. Please excuse me for about 8 years. I’m going off the net and grid for awhile.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Ignorance and Want. What a pair to draw to, eh?

      And yeah, Darth Cheeto is coming into possession of a pretty nifty state-security apparatus; he’s too dim a bulb to make much use of such a shiny object, but surely there’s a budding Himmler somewhere in the bunker.

      Jesus. That’s a cheery thought. I should start drinking again.

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