Archive for the ‘Bicycle racing’ Category

Back to the future

October 13, 2017

Check the date: March 10, 1989. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

That’s the cover of the first VeloNews in which a cartoon by Your Humble Narrator appeared.

It practically goes without saying that it featured the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter.

The Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter, v1.0.

How long ago was this? Well, President Ronald Reagan had just delivered his farewell address, Ted Bundy had taken his ride in Mr. Edison’s rocking chair, the last Soviet troops were leaving Afghanistan, and Eurosport was debuting in France.

The previous year, Felix Magowan, John Wilcockson and David Walls had acquired what was then called Velo-news from founders Barbara and Robert George.

After moving the operation to Boulder they declined to hire me as managing editor (a wise move). Time passed, as it will, and then in 2008 Inside Communications Inc. sold out to Competitor Group Inc. (not so wise in my opinion, but you know what they say about opinions).

Wilcockson — who would later get a ruthless, senseless and unceremonious heave-ho, along with Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey — wrote about the history and acquisition of Inside Communications here.

Il Fattini as he came to appear further on down the road.

As for me, I quit, was coaxed into returning, and then quit again, that last time for good.

But I always kept an eye on the joint, the way you sometimes bicycle past a ramshackle house you used to live in, shaking your head at the carelessness of the new owners.

And so did one member of that Original Trio — Magowan — who has repo’d the joint, with Pocket Outdoor Media partners Greg Thomas and Steve Maxwell.

Included in the sale are VeloPress, which just published Nick Legan’s “Gravel Cycling,” and the magazines Triathlete and Women’s Running, along with their digital counterparts.

“Despite the well-known challenges in print today, our team is thrilled to have the chance to rebuild these iconic titles as well as their sister digital operations,” Magowan told Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. “We have ambitious growth plans, and want to restore these brands to their historical industry leadership positions as quickly as possible.”

Here’s hoping Friday the 13th turns out to be a lucky day for Felix, The Trio v2.0, and for VeloNews (turn that number upside down just for luck, guys). Meanwhile, for anyone with the flashback blues, here’s John Prine.

That Voodoo that I do

September 10, 2017

The Voodoo Nakisi, parked up near the Pino Trail outside the Elena Gallegos picnic area.

Labor Day may be the unofficial end of summer for a lot of yis, but for me, it’s always Interbike.

In the olden days, when I was still a man instead of whatever it is that I am now, I would have already squeezed at least one cyclocross under my bibs by the time Le Shew Bigge rolled around.

Your Humble Narrator working a barrier at one of those long-ago cyclocrosses.

But my final race was in 2004, and as the Last Roundup in Sin City approaches I’m mostly rolling around to no particular purpose, on whichever bike amuses me at the moment, free of licensing, race number and organizational responsibilities (that first race of each new season was usually the one I promoted).

This aimless pedaling about keeps me out of the office, where the temptation is to overload the wagon like some dumb-ass pilgrim lugging all his proud-ofs to the frontier.

Do I want to do any podcasting from Interbike? Video? If one or the other, or both, which MacBook do I take, the 13-incher or the 15-incher? Thank God I’m down to one functional camera. That’s one equipment-selection decision successfully avoided.

Unless I want to buy a new camera. …

No, goddamnit, knock that shit off. Confine yourself to the bloggery. Avoid the hernia.

I always think it would be fun to do something different, and I always wind up doing the same damn thing — wandering around with a pad and pen, talking to people, an informal process that can be knocked all to hell by these consarned newfangled ee-lectronical comosellamas.

It’s all good fun until someone gets hurt. And that someone is likely to be me. If I wanted to carry a rucksack with a hunnerd pounds of gear for money I’d join the damn Army, is what. I got the haircut already.

In other news, Red Ryder has gone to The Big Roundup In the Sky. And no, he didn’t shoot his eye out.

It’s over!

June 23, 2017

Go home, Fatso, you’re drunk.

Following in the tricksy footsteps of sneaky newsmakers everywhere, we hereby present your Friday Bad News Dump:

Live Update Guy will not be calling this year’s Tour de France.

LUG-in-Chief Charles Pelkey and I have mulled it over a time or two — should we stay or should we go? — and the simple truth of it is we’re both busy and tired and three weeks of following Le Tour would leave us only more so on both fronts.

There’s a chance we might pop up guerrilla-style to do an epic mountain stage, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

It’s been fun, and p’raps some day it will be fun again. Maybe when the robots take over.

And now for something completely different

June 5, 2017

This is how a tech editor and former WorldTour mechanic rigs a bike for a 3,000-mile ride. Photo liberated from Nick Legan’s blog, Rambleur.

Adventure Cyclist tech editor Nick Legan is fixin’ to start the Tour Divide.

In case you were wondering, this is entirely unlike logging two-hour rides on loaner bikes around Albuquerque.

As we speak, Nick’s headed to his start in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. But before he hit the road, he posted a peek at the bike he’ll be riding and some of the gear he’s taking along.

Me? I’m still doing those two-hour loaner-bike rides around Albuquerque, thanks. This keeps me within cellphone range of Herself in case I augur in or stroke out; ensures that my food and water will be served hot and cold, respectively; and spares me the humilation of rolling up to the Tour Divide start only to drop to my knees and squeal: “Do I gotta? Maaaaaammmmmmaaaaaa!”

Rocks ‘n’ rollin’

April 8, 2017

Everybody must get stoned.

My man Charles Pelkey will be kick-starting the Live Update Guy machinery tomorrow for Paris-Roubaix, so all y’all should bounce that way to say, “Allez.”

We gave the software a bit of a test-drive today and all seems well. As for the race, it looks to be a dusty one, and while Tom Boonen seems the sentimental favorite, the cobbles have no sentiment atall atall.

Meanwhile, King Donald the Short-fingered is looking all thumbs after his Feat of Strength in Syria. We warn the Russians, the Russians warn the Syrians, and hey presto! Twenty-four hours later Assad is back to business as usual, albeit with conventional weapons.

It’s like the worst ass-kicking movie, like, ever:

Don: Hey, Vlad, it’s Don.

Vlad: What up, bruh?

Don: I’m headed over to that punk Bashar’s place to teach him a lesson. Just giving you a head’s up, I know you’re tight and all.

Vlad: No worries, bruh, thanks for the call.

(click)

(30 seconds later)

Bashar: Hello?

Vlad: Yo, Bash’, Don’s coming over to kick your ass.

Bashar: Good time for it, I was just stepping out to the Home Depot. Need some more Roundup. He’ll have to settle for pissing on my lawn or something.

Vlad: Ha ha ha, yeah. Spell his name on it or something. Probably wrong, too.

Bashar: Ha, yeah, for sure.

Vlad: OK, see you.

Bashar: Laters.

 

A lens capped

February 1, 2017

Graham Watson has hung up his camera bag to enjoy the good life (which includes not lugging a metric shit-ton of camera gear all over the planet).

He turned 60 last March, and his final outing as a pro shooter was last month’s Tour Down Under.

When I was throwing pixels at the digital wall for that Boulder-based journal of competitive cycling GW was a mainstay of our photography, as was (and still is) Casey B. Gibson. Between the two of them we pretty much covered the globe like Sherwin-Williams.

It’s a tough hustle, pro shooting, The travel is unending, and the days run 48 hours apiece. The bag weighs a ton, the pay sucks, and wankers steal your images without so much as a by-your-leave.

But the old saw about a picture being worth a thousand words is a cliché because it’s true. One good shot will tell you more about bike racing than anyone’s prose, mine included.

So raise a glass to Graham Watson, who has gone to ground in New Zealand. I’ll honor him by not lifting an image for this post.

 

 

Stars ‘n’ stripes forever

January 8, 2017
Your Humble Narrator, enjoying a brisk workout on his private cyclo-cross course back in the day when he could still squeeze into a skinsuit without a tire iron and some lubricant.

Your Humble Narrator, enjoying a brisk workout on his private cyclo-cross course back in the day when he could still squeeze into a skinsuit without a tire iron and some lubricant.

I haven’t watched a bike race since the 2016 Tour de France, but today I may just turn my gaze eastward to the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Hartford, Conn.

What can I tell you? It’s an addiction, like whiskey or chocolate. Shucks, I may even break out one of my own cyclocross bikes today and show these Burqueños how the sport of kings is done, har har har.

CyclingTips is carrying streaming video, and you can catch all the action there.

Man at work

September 2, 2016
Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

While cranking out a column and cartoon to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the launching of the good ship Bicycle Retailer and Industry News back in 1992, it struck me that I was approaching a milestone of my own — as of today, I have been a full-time freelancer for 25 years.

That is not a typo.

After quitting my seventh and final newspaper gig, at The New Mexican up Santa Fe way, I raced the Record Challenge in Moriarty on Sunday, Sept. 1, 1991 (56:43 for 40km, a personal best), and the very next day I was up north in Bibleburg, trying to figure out how a burned-out newspaperman might pay for his bacon and beans.

I had three things going for me. One, I had been freelancing cartoons and light journalism to VeloNews since March 1989, and I began doing more of that, helping cover (now-defunct) races like La Vuelta de Bisbee, the Casper Classic, and the Cactus Cup, and lending a hand with copy-editing and production up in Boulder.

Two, Marc Sani at BRAIN wanted a comic strip for his brand-new industry magazine, and before long I was writing some stuff for him, too.

And three, Herself and I were living rent-free with my mom, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and required oversight. So we’re not exactly talking Hemingway-in-Paris here; we had a roof over our heads, three hots and a cot, and a small allowance for serving as live-in help while my sister managed Mom’s finances from Fort Collins.

At first I could and did work for anyone. But eventually the VeloNews and BRAIN gigs led to other work in the bike biz, and after a while that’s all I did. It’s hard to believe, but a guy could actually earn a semi-OK living scribbling for bicycle magazines, and eventually, bicycle websites. Who knew? Not me. Not until I had 15 years of newspapering under my belt, anyway.

Today I work for BRAIN and Adventure Cyclist, period. It’s not exactly heavy lifting. I get to make shit up for the one and play with other people’s toys for the other. I should be paying them, not the other way around.

You guys, of course, get the dubious benefits of 40 years’ experience for free. You’re welcome.

 

Old race, new race

July 28, 2016
Looking east at the Sandias from NM 313, en route to Bernalillo.

Looking east at the Sandias from NM 313, en route to Bernalillo.

It sure is nice to spend mornings riding the bike rather than writing the bike.

Yesterday I rode out to Bernalillo on NM 313, inspecting the first leg of what would be a fun training ride — basically an extended version of the old Watermelon Mountain Classic that I used to race back in the Eighties.

That race started in Bernalillo and climbed through Placitas on NM 165 to the Sandia Peak Ski Area, then dropped through Sandia Park and Cedar Crest before finishing on NM 333 just east of Albuquerque.

What made it interesting was a stretch of unimproved dirt Forest Service road — about seven miles of switchbacks, if memory serves — that climbed to the Sandia Crest Road just below the ski area, which used to host an occasional mountain-bike race.

After that it was mostly the old zoom-zoom, down, down, down to the Duke City. I was usually pretty aggressive on the climb, but whatever I gained on the uphill I lost on the downhill, suffering as I did from an overactive imagination and a feeble health-insurance plan.

My version of the Watermelon would start at El Rancho Pendejo, which adds 20 miles to the front end of the ride. The backside would be augmented by a half-dozen miles or thereabouts, from the old finish line back to the rancho. Eating the whole ‘melon would involve about 63 miles, many of them uphill. Good times. Maybe not.

Speaking of races and good times, Ronald McDonald McTrump came in for a vigorous thumping last night at the DNC. Even the prez got in on the act, which MoJo’s Kevin Drum summarized in 17 words:

Michael Bloomberg: Trump is a con man.

Tim Kaine: Trump is a liar.

Joe Biden: Trump is a sociopath

Barack Obama: Trump is an asshole.

Drum qualified that last by noting that it was his translation “from the original Obamish.” Pretty accurate translation, I’d say.

 

Champs and chumps

July 24, 2016
We have clouds early, but it looks like another hot one in the Duke City. And in Paris, too? Stay tuned.

We have clouds early, but it looks like another hot one in the Duke City. And in Paris, too? Stay tuned.

The sun rises on the final day of the 2016 Tour de France. Yay, etc.

It wasn’t much of a Tour, from a GC point of view. Sky — for whatever reason — is just too damn strong. And while Zoom-Zoom Froome pulled a few new rabbits out of his hat early on, after a couple of frights he settled down into his usual act, and that, as they say, was that.

A couple of Frenchmen proved fun to watch — Romain Bardet (AG2R) and Julian Alaphillippe (Etixx-QuickStep) — and of course there was Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), who is a race unto himself.

But Fabio Aru (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) failed to mount serious challenges. Quintana may have been suffering from allergies, while Aru may have been afflicted with too many Vincenzo Nibalis. Richie Porte (BMC) had that mishap early on, and Tejay van Garderen had the usual meltdown; if he’s gonna keep fading like a cheap paintjob he should really spare us the breezy pre-Tour chatter about how Sky might buckle under pressure and how Froome is beatable. Not by you he ain’t, Sparky.

Sprinters who weren’t named Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) didn’t have much to celebrate this year, either. He won’t be banging bars on the Champs-Élysées this evening, and whoever wins the final stage will go home wondering whether things might have turned out differently if the Manxman had made it all the way to Paris.

Meanwhile, that other race — the one for the U.S. presidency — is a long way from the finish line, and I’m having trouble getting excited about pulling on my pistachio slingshot and fright wig, lighting a flare, and running alongside the field. Y’suppose we could ask the Badger to push ’em both off the stage?