‘Story!’ cried the Editor

My last piece for Adventure Cyclist.

It’s hard to retire when you don’t have a job.

It’s even harder when you have a couple-three-four of them.

Still, I keep trying to find that hole in the fence, because I am a persistent mutt.

I successfully “retired” from my last real job in 1991, when I bid adios to The New Mexican and took up the uncertain life of a freelance cycling scribe. I like to think I beat the rush to the door. The writing was already popping up on newspaper walls from coast to coast, and I wasn’t one of the lucky few who would be offered a buyout. Mine would be more like a “Get out!”

So, rather than wait for the shove, I jumped.

Other separations have followed in the 30 years since I hit that door running, or maybe cycling. Either the magazines have gone away or I have.

This month brings my departure from Adventure Cyclist. It was an amicable separation. Deputy editor Dan Meyer asked if I wanted to review a bike; I thought about it for a bit, then replied, “No, thanks.”

It may sound impulsive, but it really wasn’t. I have outlived Mike Deme, the editor who brought me aboard. His successor, Alex Strickland, has moved on to another job, as have colleagues John Schubert, Nick Legan, and others.

It’s been 10 years. The bike biz is moving in directions that mostly don’t interest me. I’m an old white guy who doesn’t need the work or the money and should really just get the hell out of the way.

Also, my last two pieces, about the New Albion Privateer and the march of technology, practically wrote themselves. This could not continue. Call it a premonition: By the pricking of my thumbs, something banjaxed this way comes.

So I jumped.

Mike and Adventure Cyclist came around at exactly the right time. I was in something of a rut, basically just going through the motions, and reviewing touring bikes forced me into new ways of thinking. Alex and Dan continued Mike’s generosity. I had big fun and made good money, and now it’s time someone else had a taste.

A thousand thank-yous to everyone who enjoyed my reviews. And if any of yis bought a bike on my say-so, may the road rise up to meet you. With the rubber side down, of course.

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24 Responses to “‘Story!’ cried the Editor”

  1. carl duellman Says:

    yours was the first article i read when the new issues of adventure cyclist arrived. i can’t say i like the magazine as much as i used to but i think i’ve drifted away from touring. i still subscribe though just because it’s a worthy cause.

  2. SAO' Says:

    All any of us can try to do is make a tiny dent in the universe. And if anyone is keeping score, every publication was a little bit better with your voice added to the mix.

    Here’s a toast to the last 30 years, and another to the next 30.

  3. si little Says:

    i join in the encomia offered. just another rude reminder the end of that white line is nigh….(credit : Sturgill Simpson)

  4. Shawn Says:

    I agree with SAO. Although your dents may have been a little bigger. I don’t know much about some of those other publications you paid to work for, but I do know that other racy style one that showed Charles the door, sure went down the road when you left – With a lot of respect for Mr. Zinn of course.

    Here’s to your future adventures. May they be fine and as interesting as those you have already experienced, in a banjaxing kind of way.

    “I knew a man
    Banjaxles and
    He’d write for you
    on worn out old bikes
    Balding Head
    A Fat Guy Jersey
    and spanks tight shorts
    The old P-Yew”

  5. Pat O’Brien Says:

    A su salad y felicidad, mi amigo! I bought a Soma Saga based on your review, and it may have been the best bike I ever owned. It was damn sure the prettiest one with that, if you remember, gorgeous BRG paint job. Do you now have time to write that mystery novel? “Death On The Bosque” perhaps?

  6. khal spencer Says:

    I’ll definitely miss the O’Grady reviews, which always combined excellent technical content with a big helping of bike humor, occasional sarcasm, and dry wit.

    Did buy a bike after discussions with the Mad Dog. Nick Legan had written up the Litespeed Gravel but he rode the Cadillac version with the nice Ultegra bits that drove the price up into a range beyond my interest. I had a long phone chat with Patrick about the lower end GRX stuff and pulled the trigger. Worked out fine.

  7. JD Says:

    PO’G: I think you underestimate your creative talents and your contributions to your followers’ and friends’ well-being. “Practically wrote themselves” to you would take me three lifetimes …. and I’d still fall short.

    Charge on … rubber side down …. Rule #1 = FUN!

    “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” (Oscar Wilde) 🙂

  8. Dale E. Brigham Says:

    Patrick, me boy-o, I joined and subscribed to the Adventure Cycling because of you, a decision I have never regretted. Your wit and wisdom made that magazine come alive. Thanks, pal!

    Ask Merry Sales to reserve a 58 cm. Pescadero for you, so that you get one when they reappear. Spring for the Paul’s centerpull brakes that fit it, and never look back. Money well spent, I think. Not that different from the New Albion you ride, but I think you will appreciate the difference.

    Kudos to you, my friend! Dale in Mid-MO

  9. Patrick O'Grady Says:

    Thanks to all of yis for the generous appraisal of my feeble efforts. It’s a rare thing, to have fun, get paid, and collect the odd attaboy, all at the same time.

    It was particularly interesting to throttle back the act a tad for the Adventure Cyclist audience. I never felt compelled to dig too deeply into my sinister old bag of tricks.

    One of the drawbacks of my columns, “Mad Dog Unleashed” and “Friday’s Foaming Rant,” was that these standing heds implied that a degree of outlandish behavior would follow below, and sometimes I just didn’t feel all that outlandish. But the show, as they say, must go on. And occasionally it felt a bit forced.

    I could try a lighter touch in the reviews, and that was terra incognita for a guy who routinely called in the B-52s to drive a thumbtack. It was a real gift that Mike Deme gave me, the chance to be something other than what I’d made of myself over the years.

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      Your written magazine reviews were great with good photography. What interested me most was how your test videos kept constantly improving, each one better than the last. I kept trying to think about how you placed the cameras and pieced the shots together. Adding the audio afterwards must have been a challenge. Seemed like a lot of careful and time consuming work that you enjoyed. By combining a digital online presence, with your videos and emailed Bike Bits with links, ACA Magazine persevered in a hostile environment trying to kill printed hard copy media.

      Most of us seem to know when it is time to move on to something different. It was a move that I have never regretted.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        The videos were definitely a challenge. I wanted to do them myself, so I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone else, hell famously being other people. Happily, modern camera gear makes pretty much anything possible, even for the completely unskilled. And the consumer-level iMovie was pretty intuitive. I avoided getting sucked into Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. Picture Mister Magoo at the helm of the USS Enterprise.

        But I still think like a word guy, and I had no formal training in video production, so I spent a lot of time getting in my own way. Keeping the videos short helped minimize the brain cramps and (I hope) kept the annoyance factor to a minimum (“Who is this eejit and why am I watching this crap?”).

        Samey same with the podcasting. Consumer-level software is likewise pretty intuitive; modern audio gear practically runs itself; but I still think like a word guy and spend way too much time twiddling all 10 thumbs and tripping over my own two left feet.

    • Shawn Says:

      I can certainly understand where you are coming from regarding the stereotypical Mad Dog image and expected literary expression. As you say, sometimes you just want to be yourself and not a highly intuitive ranting lunatic. I think most all of us who imbibe in your lore, understand that and appreciate that you offer up a plate for us to spit out words of whine, whit and wisdom. As Tom Petty kind of said, It’s good to have friends.”

  10. Charley Says:

    Good luck;good decision. I have been following you since we meet at McDowell Park. Enjoy your life.

  11. John A Levy Says:

    P.O’G I have followed you and your sense of humor and justice for the best part of 25 yrs. I purchased a copy of:”The Season starts when?” from Velopress I remember when n velonews was in a circular firing squad formation, I still had brown hair and a good sense of humor. and you kept me coming back with the fat guy and your columns. your departure from the mag was a great loss. I will miss your work in Adventure Cyclist. For those of us over 60 yrs of age, the world is changing and after seeing electric mountain bike, electric fat bikes.I see your point of knowing when the true joy of cycling is being missed by only human input. Thank you for many years n of memories and fun. Stay with the blog please? Need a tilted sense of perspective that I agree with mostly.

  12. SAO' Says:

    Kinda stinks that VeloNews has been passed through so many hands. There’s a greatest hits compilation of the cartoons at some VeloNews remnant under an Outside Online banner, but all of the cartoons are little blue boxes. Interestingly, you search for the cartoon on the Wild West web, and most of them are on some blog called LA Bikes, written by some guy named Khal. 🤪

  13. SteveP Says:

    I will miss your contributions. I enjoy tech articles much more than cycling-past-the-posies ones (although the guy who had a stroke while riding was gripping). And I see where AC is going when $5K e-bikes are reviewed.

    Tough times for a cycling boom, because what always follows a boom is a bust, and my suspicion is that current e-bike offerings are spaghetti on the wall. As in some will stick, but most will fall down behind the stove because they were never cooked right in the first place. Hard $5K lessons to learn

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I have a couple pricey bikes. But I tend to ride the least expensive ones the most. This may be why I liked reviewing the typical $1,500 touring bike, because that was one I would probably buy and actually ride. You start getting into that $5K price range, you get askeered to take the thing out on the open road.

      Couldn’t get excited about reviewing e-bikes at all. Just one more thing to plug into the wall and get mad at when it gives you the frowny-face. I could see getting rid of a car and buying a cargo model — the hills around here are a challenge with panniers full of groceries on a hot day — but the Subaru is paid off, and I can use it to go places other than the grocery without having to stop in mid-trip for a recharge.

      But then I am not exactly an early adopter. Feature this: My 2005 Forester was the first car I ever owned with power windows. And I didn’t buy it new.

  14. John Schubert Says:

    I was glad when you took over writing road tests. You brought fresh enthusiasm to that beat, and I’d gotten tired of doing it!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Enthusiasm only goes so far, though. You actually knew whereof you spoke, whereas I was all like, “Ooh, shiny.”

      The thing that still amazes me is how hard it is to get a truly bad bike. Sure, you can get one with bits I wouldn’t want to field-repair in the middle of the Mojave in August, but that’s another story altogether.

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