It’s been a quiet week at El Rancho Pendejo. …

The wind sketches clouds across the skies west of the Sandias.

It’s been a quiet week, as Garrison Keillor used to say of Lake Woebegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

Pink skies to the west.

The weather has returned to something a little more favorable for hiking and biking, and the National Weather Service forecasts a spring that should be drier and warmer than normal.

In fact, we’re already into allergy season here. Junipers and elms. Honk, snurk, hawwwwk, ptui, etc.

Two of the four people we know who have been looking for work have found it, so, yay. The jobs may not be ideal, but neither are the times. So it goes.

I am not looking for work, but it seems to have been looking for me. Adventure Cyclist asked if I wanted to dash off a little sumpin’-sumpin’ that is not a bicycle review, and we’ll see how that goes. Having been without a column for a while now, I’m kind of out of practice as regards busking for bucks.

It’s much easier to do that here, where I’m both organ grinder and monkey, all at once. Out there in the workaday world they expect you to dance to their tune, when they’re hiring at all.

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35 Responses to “It’s been a quiet week at El Rancho Pendejo. …”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Methinks you are staying quite “fit” as far as column writing with your maddog posts. Looking forward to something in the Adventure mag!

  2. SAO' Says:

    I’m picturing the good folks at AC thinking, we’re not getting the volume of letters-to-the-editor that we used to get, what can we do to rile up the readers?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’m wondering if they’re running short of interesting touring stories in The Plague Year(s). Contributors who were planning to go places and write up their journeys may have decided to stick a little closer to home.

      • khal spencer Says:

        IIRC, a few issues ago AC pretty much admitted that they were running dry on touring stories and needed to think outside the box. Given my idea of a tour lately is putting the panniers on the Trucker and riding over to the food co-op or Sprouts, I’m of limited usefulness to Alex et al.

        Speaking of panniers and food co-ops, I was at the Hippie Natural Food Store in Stony Brook back in 1986 filling up my panniers with tofu and veggies and a very pretty fellow grad student took a shine to me. Given that I was still struggling with looking myself in the mirror after finally signing off on a divorce, that bike ride was definitely good for putting a smile on my face. Filed under “a short bike ride can be good for your mental health”.

  3. SAO' Says:

    A drier spring? Didn’t know things could get much drier. Every time I hear the weather these days, I think of Hawkeye Pierce describing one of his martinis.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      Indeed. Here we go again.

    • Shawn Says:

      I recall the MASH episode but I wanted to see the dry martini scene again.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Col. O’Grady drank his vodka martinis from a 10-ounce old-fashioned glass. He considered a martini to be properly dry if there were a vermouth bottle somewhere in his area code. An olive served as dinner.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        What is it about vodka anyway? That was my Dad’s poison of choice when he was off the wagon. Drinking never made him mean; I don’t think there was a mean bone in his body,

        • Shawn Says:

          I’m not sure about vodka either. I have a mother that enjoys it. Perhaps when I take my mid-winter bike trip across Siberia I’ll really appreciate it in when I roll into those stalin-esque villages and one of the locals hands me a cast iron cup of vodka and calls me an American fool. I believe that’s the trip that AC hires a mad dog to tag along with me on his little mule to write the story and chase wind turbines.

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          There’s a lot of folk “wisdom” around tonsil polish. Some boozers think adulterating their grog (adding soda to Scotch, mixing the grain and the grape, etc.) is what causes hangovers. Some vodka types think you can’t smell it on them. Toward the end Dad was drinking the cheap shit, Popov vodka from a plastic jug, which was one step away from making squeeze using a can of Sterno and a dirty sock.

          I used to like Stolichnaya vodka myself, especially if it was fresh from the freezer and used to wash down a few bumps from a rapidly dwindling 8-ball of the fabled Peruvian Marching Powder. I didn’t have any wives, daughters, or hairy Communist sons at the time and could afford the good shit.

  4. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Well, your reviews are both entertaining and informative. That is a difficult thing to do. Perhaps you could start with why slowing down on a bike, instead of being a point A to B rider, gives you a whole new way to tour. It changes rides you have done before. Tour with a route but no planned no destination. “ A good traveler has no fixed plan and is not intent on arriving.” Tao the Ching translation by Stephen Mitchell

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Gracias, hombre. This is more of a one-off deal, not an ongoing project, and the target was selected for me; whether I hit the mark or not remains to be seen.

      I do like the idea of “wandering” rather than “touring,” as we commonly think of it. That’s how William Least Heat Moon approached his national van tour in “Blue Highways.” He knew he wanted to do a loop, but he left a lot of the details to circumstance, chance and whim. As a consequence he had some real adventures and genuine experiences rather than simply checking boxes on some itinerary.

  5. khal spencer Says:

    In today’s TCI Friday, Emlyn Lewis asks what The Cycling Independent can do to be more marketable, not to mention make some money.

    I think one needs to broaden one’s horizon beyond “serious cycling” whatever that is. This month’s Adventure Cycling mag had an article about The Pro’s Closet. I saw that site and it didn’t do much for me as it seemed to be aimed at competitive cyclists. That’s fine, but it kinda narrows the market. For example, the AC article said there was nothing about touring bikes. Well, sure….I’ve got all the racing stuff a retired and perpetually incompetent racer with a 67 year old gut needs. BFD.

    If we want to broaden the market, we have to be less stuffy and egocentric. Or, just figure it is what it is.

    • SAO' Says:

      Cant remember the specifics, but last week, or the week before, Famous Comedian gets into cycling, potentially inspires thousands, but instead of thanks gets dragged for mixing apparel styles (mountain, road, and urban all at once). Like you said, stuffy and egocentric.

      • SAO' Says:

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Pete Buttigieg just took some shit from the Twitterati over his saddle height while riding a bikeshare machine on his commute. This nonsense has been going on since, well, forever. One wonders how many newcomers have been driven back to their couches and La-Z-Boys by preening douchenozzles anointed to set the standards.

        • Pat O'Brien Says:

          Same old tribal bullshit. That is probably why my Soma hasn’t sold. It’s not cool enough, fast enough, or has enough bling components. Oh well, it happens in all endeavors in life, it seems to me anyway. I can remember traditional archers, longbow or recurve instinctive shooters, telling compound bow shooters the they didn’t need training wheels on their bows. What total bullshit.

        • SAO' Says:

          Own worst enemy.

          Song as old as time.

        • khal spencer Says:

          Twitter has made everyone a critic. We indeed are eating our own.

        • khal spencer Says:

          Nothing new about these put-downs. Its just now you can hit send and send your bad breath into the Innertubes. I recall the terms “Fred” and “Doris” from long ago and far away. Or for that matter, a certain cycling journalist writing about Invisible Cyclists. Sigh.

          • khal spencer Says:

            Oh, and that wasn’t meant as a put-down, Patrick. Actually, an acknowledgement that you actually cared about those working stiffs on their Huffys where everyone else just considered them potential road kill. Sorry if that came across wrong.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I’ve seen a lot of magazines come and go. Never ran one, just worked for ’em. And during the boom times, too. LeMond. Mountain bikes. Old Whatsisface. There was a big margin for error, until there wasn’t.

      I don’t know what cyclists want/need to read. The term “cyclist” itself is something of a problem. Are all people who ride bicycles “cyclists?” Not necessarily.

      A neighbor recently unearthed an old mountain bike and got back into cycling after jogging became too painful. Then she bought a new bike, an inexpensive model, from an IBD. She’s riding the hell out of it and having a high old time. She and her squeeze took note of some $300-$400 bikes at the Costco and wondered whether they might be any good.

      Where are people like this going to go for their information? Not to The Cycling Independent, I imagine. Even Bicycling focuses on the “cyclist” rather than the aspiring, would-be rider of a bicycle.

      If we are indeed in another of these periodic cycling booms, there are a ton of new riders out there who would like to learn more about the basics. They probably aren’t that into the racing scene, but they might enjoy a few inspirational stories from that quarter, or from touring, and commuting. More likely they’d appreciate a buyer’s guide that focuses on the low- to midrange, upgrade paths, tips and technique. The occasional story about how big-box bikes are assembled for a piecework rate that rewards speed over attention to detail, like whether the forks are on backward or the brakes actually work.

      These are not sexy stories. Bicycle Retailer‘s editors have always found it difficult to hire writers because the scribes want to write the fun stuff. Nobody at Outside wants to review the sub-$1,000 bike. Writing for Freds* — even if there are a ton of them and their money spends as well as the enthusiasts’ does — is not particularly exciting. More craft than art.

      It needs to be done, though. And I’m not sure who’s doing that sort of thing right now.

      * See what I did there? I looked down upon new riders from the rarified heights of my velo-genius. This is not helpful.

      • SAO' Says:

        FWIW, 90% of the time I see “Fred,” I assume it’s tongue-in-cheek, acknowledging that we’re all Freds, it’s just a matter of to what degree.

        Just realized I’ve been talking a mean game but not putting my money (or time) where my mouth is. So I went to FC Bikes and volunteered for every 2021 event. And I’m going to show up with road shoes and baggy pants, the wrong socks, and every other uniform violation I can think of.

        • DownhillBill Says:

          Some years ago a bike shop guy I knew scored a brand new DeRosa Signature frame, built it up with Nuovo Record. For the first big event ride he went to, he dressed it up with a rear-dropout kickstand and a fuzzy pink Furby style horn, just to flip off the bike Nazis. Wish I’d seen their faces.

  6. JD Says:

    Re broadening the cycling market/appeal, I enjoy the Education First (EF Gone Racing) videos, especially with Lachlan Morton, of UCI-level pros doing bikepacking, Dirty Kanza, GBDuro, Leadville Trail 100, etc. as “everyday riders” (albeit at an elite level) and not coming across as snobs. Youtube has a bunch of them.
    Good for the sport in my view.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Is anybody not affiliated with a team doing any worthwhile journalism on the off-road stuff? That’s gotten a bit fragmented into subcategories, hasn’t it? Trail, enduro, downhill, all-mountain, gravel, cyclocross, bikepacking, etc.

      I’ll confess that I don’t read a lot of velo-journalism these days. In my Golden Years I’m more interested in riding than reading about it.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Don’t know. Like you, I don’t read a lot of cyclo-journalism. Adventure Cycling and occasionally CI although CI, still seems too narrow. They do podcasts with Diane Jenks, to be sure.

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