A Monday mooning

A smattering of Oliphant from the Mad Dog library.

A few observations under the Wolf Moon:

• A Puck in the gob. The Albquerque Journal has a little piece on my favorite political cartoonist, Pat Oliphant, who spent 60 years pantsing the powerful before failing eyesight finally pushed him away from the drawing board. I met Oliphant in the Seventies, when the Fine Arts Center in Bibleburg hosted an exhibition of his work. He was very gracious to a dumbass hippie kid who claimed he was a cartoonist too, enduring a bit of grilling and even volunteering a few tips.

• Dave’s not here. Hal Walter’s dad, Dave, recently passed away. The two had had their differences over the years, as fathers and sons often do (see O’Grady, Harold and Patrick), but Hal took a moment to remember the good times with the man who introduced him to the great outdoors.

• And The Biggest Midget in the Room Award goes to. … The Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame. Every niche needs its shiny object, I guess. But if you can get to it via paved road it’s bullshit.

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26 Responses to “A Monday mooning”

  1. Shawn Says:

    Wasn’t it Steve Tilford who was out of Kansas? He of course passed while looking for his dog on a lonely western Colorado highway. Steve didn’t need a paved road to ride and I suspect he rode many gravel roads in Kansas. The Gravel Hall of Fame should make Steve their first inductee.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yup, he was a Kansas boy, and a member of a couple dozen halls of fame, for a couple dozen good reasons.

      I’ve seen at least one call for Chris Grealish to be first inductee. Chris promoted a ton of races around the Boulder area Back in the Day® — maybe he still does — and one of my faves was the Boulder-Roubaix. As I recall it, there were three races in the same general area, and they varied from mostly pavement to mostly gravel. Big big fun.

      Here in New Mexico, back in the late Eighties, I think it was Danny Hernandez who promoted the Watermelon Mountain Classic, which started in Bernalillo, climbed up through Placitas to just above the Sandia Peak Ski Area — over seven miles of steepish, winding, unimproved dirt Forest Circus road — then dropped down through Cedar Crest and along Old Route 66 to a finish line somewhere just short of Tramway and Central. Also big big fun, especially when it came down to gearing and tire selections for that unpaved section.

      As for me, when we lived in Crusty County in the Nineties, I pretty much rode nothing but gravel. Our house was a rough half-dozen miles from pavement, in this case a two-lane, chip-seal highway with minimal shoulder, so gravel looked pretty good, especially for a dude with a couple-three-four cyclocross bikes and a mountain bike and way too much free time on his hands. So clearly the hall should be named after me.

      • Shawn Says:

        The Watermelon Classic sounds like a great event.

        Perhaps a virtual outhouse could be built as part of the Gravel Hall of Fame to give it, you know, a little heritage. The outhouse could be given the title the DogHouse and copies of POG eloquence could be plastered on the inner planks. When they decide to erect a real Hall of Fame structure, you could be invited to drive in the first nail. In the outhouse of course.

        But if a poll of well known American cycling legends were to be asked, your name might be well remembered by one or two.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        If cycling ever sets up a Hall of Shame I’m a shoo-in.

        • SAO' Says:

          Our high school had the standard awards. Most likely to succeed. Best dressed. Class clown.

          The goody-goody award was awkwardly named Done Most for the Class.*

          My brother’s senior year, he won via a write-in campaign: Done Most To the Class.

          Almost as good as making the Hall of Shame

          * This being Fredneck, Maryland, we read it as “done did the most goodest stuff.”

    • Derek Lenahan Says:

      I second this motion.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    There is a “gravel” version of the Fanta Se Century this year. Problem is, you gotta drive what looks like a good twenty five miles outa town to get to the start at Rowe Mesa. As you say, bullshit.The regular century start/finish is less than a mile from my house, so I never have to start the car.

    Hal’s story hit close to home. That’s all I’ll say here.

    • Shawn Says:

      How about a century and a quarter? You could ride to the start of the gravel century and then do the ride. That is of course if the roads from home-to-start are safe to do so. I’ve ridden to event starts many times. It makes for a great warmup.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Actually, with the “gravel” ride being 55 miles, it would be a little over a 100 miles starting and finishing at my house. Were I a young man rather than whatever it is I am now, I might consider it.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The Hardscrabble Century offered a “gravel” (kinda, sorta) metric century in 1989, and Hal and I rode it. Same start as the 100-miler, in Florence, but we took the Siloam Road up to Wetmore, then rejoined the road course for a bit until the North Creek Road. It was mostly dirt from there until we got up to State Highway 165.

      We got off 165 and back into the dirt at Junkins Park Road, which we took to Rosita Road. And once we hit County Road 271 at Bear Basin Ranch it was pretty much dirt all the way to Cañon City, with a bit more pavement before returning to Florence.

      Nobody had “gravel” bikes then, of course. I believe we were both on mountain bikes, since I was fairly new to cyclocross then. But the Gravel Gang would dig that one.

    • SAO' Says:

      Reminded me a bit of this, hands down my favorite author:


  3. Pat O’Brieb Says:

    How much “gravel” does a dirt road need to have to ride a gravel bike on it?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      And what constitutes “gravel?” Is there a minimum/maximum gauge? We will have to consult the Gravel Committee. I’m sure there is an Official Handbook.

      • JD Says:

        Ask and ye shall receive. “Gravel is very small, irregular pieces of rock and stone. … Gravel is more rough and rocky than sand, and smaller than stones. The word gravel comes from the French word gravele, “gravel or sand,” which in turn comes from grave, “seashore or sand.” The ultimate Proto-Indo-European root may be ghreu, “to rub or grind.”

        Once the UCI and others realize the profitability of, shall we posit, a world-class level category of races on “gravel” (NOT grovel …. that’s only in politics and business deals and Olympic city-bidding), the expansion of participants, viewers (think beer and tobacco) would be ginormous. Oops …. I forgot the expansion of profits! 🙂

        Oscar Wilde: “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”

        • Pat O’Brien Says:

          Fall down on that shit and it certainly will rub and grind, kinda like chip seal. Anyway, if it’s riding, I like it! By the way, riding on railroad track cinders is a whole other thang. You’re going to need a fat tires for that.

      • khal spencer Says:

        “Gravel is classified by particle size range and includes size classes from granule- to boulder-sized fragments. In the Udden-Wentworth scale gravel is categorized into granular gravel (2–4 mm or 0.079–0.157 in) and pebble gravel (4–64 mm or 0.2–2.5 in). ISO 14688 grades gravels as fine, medium, and coarse, with ranges 2–6.3 mm to 20–63 mm. One cubic metre of gravel typically weighs about 1,800 kg (or a cubic yard weighs about 3,000 lb). ”

        Sounds like we need to define what class of gravel constitutes “gravel bike gravel”

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          O, the UCI is gonna love this. Imagine the commissaires examining a representative handful of gravel from the course on race day.

          “Not gravel. More of a coarse sand. This race may not proceed.”

          • Derek Lenahan Says:

            this rings so true it hurts my heart.

          • Shawn Says:

            Since Kansas and other locations with potential UCI specified gravel has cows, and periodically those cows are driven ahoof, or may tread onto those specified roads, and those cows will be cows and deposit their processed offerings onto designated specified roads, will the gravel roads still be considered UCI legal when it is found that they have been blessed with cow manure? Oh that’s right. We are talking about the UCI so their should be no problem with bullshit.

            At this moment we may visualize gravel racers and the Simon and Garfunkel song, Slip Sliding Away.

          • khal spencer Says:

            But think of the possibilities. Now the bike industry can market not one but three classes of gravel bikes: ISO 14688 Fine, ISO 14688 Medium, and ISO 14688 Coarse gravel bikes. Each with its own distinct geometry, shock absorbing headsets for the coarse courses, and of course, different tire specifications. Of course, the UCI will have to inspect all bikes at the start of a race to ensure the right gravel bike is riding the right gravel.

            And mixed gravel courses?

        • Patrick O'Grady Says:

          Buffalo gravel

          • Click here for a larger image.

          To whom it may concern,

          While we applaud the inclusive and historic nature of your event, we must deny a UCI sanction because it traverses no gravel.

          Also, all competitors are fined 500 Swiss francs each for failure to wear helmets.

          Yrs., etc.,

          The UCI Gravel Committee

  4. Herb from Michigan Says:

    Judging by the height of those top tubes from the ground one didn’t want to dismount suddenly straddling them flat footed. Grant P would approve

  5. John A Levy Says:

    as a kid in rural colorado, dirt roads led to all kinds of cool places. and 26 x 1.75 tires took us everywhere. Every kind of gravel from red rock to pit run and small boulders. Racing was beating your friend’s home. now people have to look for gravel. funny

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