Recycled 2: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

• Editor’s note: Since my Bicycle Retailer and Industry News column won’t survive into the New Year, I’ve decided to resurrect a six-pack’s worth of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” screeds between now and then. This is round two. Read ’em and weep. Or giggle, or roar, whichever you prefer.

Fresh air (Terry Gross not included).

It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you change the game

“I changed the conditions of the test. …”—Admiral James T. Kirk, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”

By Patrick O’Grady

I was just riding along the other day when my trusty Steelman’s rear tire went soft on me. And without so much as a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee, mind you.

It’s the sort of thing that makes a guy want to take up golf, which my sources tell me is the new cycling, only with whiter participants, uglier clothing and fewer punctures.

Naturally, I suspected terrorism, the infamous Tribulus terrestris, and immediately considered erecting a wall. But this bike spends most of its time surrounded by four of them, and with a stout lid on top, too. It’s a secure location, which we call “the garage.”

(Cue the crowd, screaming: “Lock it up! Lock it up! Lock it up!”)

Could Devin Nunes have had a hand in this unauthorized leak? The GOP congresscritter has a habit of going places he has no business being to do things he should not be doing, and between you and me I’m not looking forward to screening the security-camera footage.

But it seems unlikely. The only Californian of Portuguese descent I know who might come calling is a retired newsman up Hopland way, a lifelong Democrat, and living as he does on a vineyard he’s even harder to rouse to action than this Nunes bozo.

Lord, how the Koch brothers must regret throwing good money away on that particular tool. They could’ve ordered up a bag of hammers, which would have been cheaper, smarter and useful.

Plus, once you’re done doing whatever with your bag of hammers, you can sell them on eBay. Good luck unloading a used Nunes, at any price.

Psst, you’re a pedestrian. This untimely flat, my first in months, seemed an inauspicious prelude to my annual birthday ride, which was scheduled for the next day.

These expeditions never get any shorter, and so for a variety of perfectly indefensible reasons I quit logging them in miles after 2015. Last year I rode for 62 minutes, which was feeble even by my relaxed standards, and so this year I thought I’d man up a tad and go for 63 kilometers.

There was a time when I considered 63km a suitable warmup for an actual ride. But that was when I still measured my body weight in pounds instead of kilograms.

Tears (of laughter) in heaven. I try not to get too serious about planning these outings, reasoning that (a) man plans, God laughs, and (2) a birthday present should be something of a surprise, even if you’re giving it to yourself.

I really gave it to myself in 2015, when what had been planned as a 61km ride sort of got away from me (there goes God, laughing again) and I wound up doing 61 miles, with only two water bottles and a single tube of strawberry Clif Bloks.

Classify it as just another instance of “I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway.” My longest ride so far that year had been just a hair over 30 miles, but I figured muscle memory would take over once actual memory failed me, and if it all went to hell I could always blame Obama.

Nine-speed or nine holes? Obviously I made it home OK in 2015, and again in ’16—if I hadn’t, this column would have been written by somebody else, probably with more of an emphasis on bicycle retailing and industry news.

But you’ve been bad, and I’ve been lucky, and so here we are again.

This year I was even less well-trained, if you can imagine such a thing. Instead of going for a ride I probably should have tried to shoot a 63 for nine holes. But none of my clothes were ugly enough, my clubs are for correcting editors, and the only thing that’s weaker than my backswing is my frontswing.

So come the big day I struggled into my fading Mad Dog Media team kit, confirmed that the Nobilette had goo-filled tubes in both tires (seal tubes, not borders), undertook a quick visual threat assessment of my secure location for Republican congressmen, and got off to the traditional late start.

Numbers game. I punished myself for months of sloth and torpor by starting and finishing with climbs. Well, kinda. As in life, there was a short, sharp descent to the end.

But in between it was all good. The arm warmers came off, the knickers stayed on, and the Tribulus terrestris stood down, probably because I was carrying two spare tubes, a pump and a cellphone. (These constitute a wall that actually works.)

I’m not saying it was pretty. But it was the kind of ugly I can do something about. Ride longer and more often. Ride up grades instead of buying upgrades. Insist that all the bikes sign loyalty oaths and submit their computers for inspection until we identify the source of the leak.

Either that or I could start measuring these birthday rides in millimeters. Shoot, I figure I can do 64mm off the couch. Maybe even on it.

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the April 15, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

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13 Responses to “Recycled 2: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017”

  1. Sharon Says:

    “Psst, you’re a pedestrian.” The saddest feeling of all…especially when you are having a great ride. And then…psst.

    But remember, a bad day on a bike, is still better than a good day at the office!

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Goat heads, puncture vine, or nature’s caltrops, whatever you call them I hate ’em. We even have had to pull them out of our shoes and hiking boots. We carry a fine tooth comb to get the odd one out of Duffy’s paw, although our new neighborhood doesn’t seem to have many. Don’t try to pull them out of anything, especially a tire, with your fingers. I carry a pair of tweezers on the bike for that.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve been seeing more of them lately, probably because I’ve been wandering off the beaten path on occasion. Prickly little bastards. I dearly hate getting one in a foot. Ow, yow, wow, zow, etc.

  3. Dale Says:

    Coming into the new year, I just had to go to the Wyoming website of legislation that is in the pipe. Our former LUG (Mr. Pelkey) seems to be quite busy. I read the results of the bills he offered and was not surprised by the results.

    Perhaps that is why he has no time to cover the Chris Froome difficulties with an adverse test for Salbutamol, or maybe he has seen it all before and is too fricking tired of it.

    I know that I am – but it is like slowing down on the interstate to gawk at a bad crash.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Mister P is indeed a busy feller. I just spoke with him this morning. His health is good, and he continues to keep one eye on doping in sport, to the point of doing a little consulting with a fellow scribe in that regard. He also may resurrect Live Update Guy for Le Tour in 2018.

  4. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    Another great piece and further evidence for my theory of the demise of your BR&IN gig. We sponged off the in-laws in SB for a couple of (thank gawd) smoke-free cycling daze before decamping for SLO until years end. We enjoyed (well, at least the way out) a vineyards to the sea ride today under warm, sunny skies. 50 kms was enough for this time of year though we might try something more ambitious tomorrow.

  5. khal spencer Says:

    Have to agree with Larry that the demise of your gig at BRAIN might have been at least in part political. You are our hero, O’G, but some folks out there are a little too politically twisted up in the U-trow for this sort of thing, eh?

    Meanwhile, the City Different seems to be on a bicycle bashing bender. Jeeze, Luise….

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Oh, no doubt politics played some role. Marc Sani delighted over the years in telling me what a fiscal pain in the ass I was, and while I never heard much from Megan Tompkins, who replaced him as publilsher, I can’t imagine much changed for the better over the years. Money is tight, and so are many sphincters. Some humor-impaired types really disliked that column.

      • larryatcycleitalia Says:

        Whether you watch Fox or MSNBC, if the political commentary doesn’t reinforce your beliefs it’s very easy to ask why there’s political commentary in a bike industry rag.
        Rather than can you they should have run a right-wing column to alternate. But that would require an equally witty scribe from the right, a critter that doesn’t exist…or does he/she?

  6. Libby Says:

    I’m enjoying these essays.

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