Archive for the ‘Bicycle racing’ Category

Cup check

March 9, 2018

The state of affairs back in 1999, when the Cactus Cup was on its way out and the Sea Otter was on its way up.

The Innertubes are a marvelous thing.

I was noodling around online, checking the availability of campsites at McDowell Mountain Regional Park (no room at the inn), when I noticed an alert about “a special event” taking place there this weekend.

It’s the Specialized Cactus Cup.

No, really.

The Granite Trail rises and falls through a basin that was pretty lush when I last visited in February 2016.

I think I last covered a Cactus Cup back in 1999. Once the unofficial kickoff to the mountain-bike season, an all-hands-on-deck deal for staff and contractors from VeloNews and Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, it had been eclipsed by the Sea Otter Classic (which I also attended that year) and devolved into more of a regional gathering of the tribes.

It was still a giggle, though, and I expect it remains so, especially with temps in the mid-70s and a bit of cloud cover in the forecast.

The Competitive Track, built for the Cup when it moved from Pinnacle Peak to McDowell in 1998, is big fun, and the rest of the more than 40 miles of trails in the park are top-shelf, too. You can ride most of them on a cyclocross bike, if you’re insane, but a mountain bike works pretty well too for anyone who suffers from mental health.

It’s nice to see that the Cup runneth over again, even if I can’t be there, dammit.

A winner

March 3, 2018

I got your kiss right here, Dopey.

No podium girls? What about podium puppies? Everybody loves puppies.

Hey, maybe they could double as drug-sniffing dogs. As long as we’re making changes, I figure the Sky’s the limit.

Fubo or FUBAR? You make the call!

February 4, 2018

Videocy.

It’s Super Sunday — unless you’re a cyclocross fan, in which case it’s just another day on the trackless video beach.

I don’t follow racing anymore, but a filthy cyclocross world championships is always worth a look-see, if you can get one.

Alas, it seems the only viewing option for those of us confined to the Land of the Free is a thing called Fubo TV. It got a good review last year from Boy Genius Report. You can sign up for a seven-day free trial, then pay $19.99 for your first month.

But it’s $44.99 per month thereafter and the 80-plus channels seem heavy on the usual ball-and-stick shtick.

One of the reasons we croaked the cable back in the day was that there were a gazillion channels, especially sports channels, that we never watched but got billed for just the same. So, uh, no thank you.

Best of luck to Fubo, especially if it continues to cover cycling, but I’d be happy with a pay-per-view option for the worlds. And I expect a few other cycling fans might like that, too.

Recycled 4: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

December 29, 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 four, a little attaboy to my old Live Update Guy comrade Charles Pelkey, who is alive and well in Laramie and contemplating a comeback in 2018.

Johnny and Ed (Hey-o!) decided the show must not go on for 2017.

LUGging out: Live Update Guys were DNS for Tour

“He shook his head, and as he shook his head, I heard someone ask him, ‘Please, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles … dance.”—Jerry Jeff Walker, “Mr. Bojangles”

By Patrick O’Grady

This July marked the first time in years that I haven’t been required to follow the Tour de France.

So I didn’t. And it was swell.

Well, mostly.

I’ve spent nearly three decades paddling my little canoe along the bright yellow revenue stream of the Tour without ever having to visit its source in France, which I hear is quite a drive from Albuquerque, even in a Subaru.

The Tour got me into bicycle racing in the Eighties, and bicycle racing got me out of the newspaper business in the Nineties, before The Suits declared open season on copy editors.

Fight or flight? Flight, I thought as I hit the door running, and when does the beverage cart come around? Make mine a double. Anybody who thinks a pan-flat, 200km sprinters’ stage in the Tour is dull never edited a school-board story at 10:30 p.m., when sensible people are already half in the bag.

But even the Tour loses its kick after a while. And so, after Charles Pelkey and I agreed to leave his Live Update Guy project parked for 2017, I celebrated by stuffing part of a bike and all of my left hand into a trailside cholla.

Funny money. Of all the things I’ve done for money, Live Update Guy scores way up there on the fun meter.

This odd little enterprise came about in “Let’s put on a show!” fashion, a la Busby Berkeley’s “Babes in Arms.” Or maybe Monty Python’s “The Crimson Permanent Assurance” would be closer to the mark.

Charles had been handling live updates and other chores for a Boulder-based cycling enterprise until he got a pink slip and a black diagnosis more or less simultaneously in 2011, two days after the Tour wrapped.

The one-two punch of unemployment and breast cancer couldn’t keep him down, though. He put his University of Wyoming law degree to work full time, eventually becoming a co-founder of the Laramie firm Neubauer, Pelkey and Goldfinger, LLP.

But Charles still enjoyed following pro cycling, and while undergoing chemotherapy he hung out another shingle, LiveUpdateGuy.com, and called the 2011 Vuelta a España—supported not by advertising, or vulture capitalists, but by his readership.

Like Mr. Bojangles, Charles was dancing for tips.

Hey-o! I joined the show in 2012, but Charles was the star, and rightly so.

For starters, he had actually been to all three grand tours, performing feats of journalism. In this new role, he arose at stupid-thirty for the start of nearly every stage of nearly every GT, and generally carried on till the bitter end, then popped back in later to add results for the data-obsessed.

I generally clocked in late to make fart noises, get things wrong, and make people crazy. In other words, same as I do here.

This has its limits, as you know. If Charles had lawyering to do and left the keys to the joint with me, eyeballs and donations dropped off accordingly. Nobody turned on the “The Tonight Show” to watch Ed McMahon. They wanted Johnny.

Spare change? We said LUG operated on the NPR model—light on commercials, heavy on beggary—but it was more like busking next to an upturned hat on a downtown sidewalk.

When the act was good, we got paid. Not so good, not so paid. It was an astoundingly libertarian business model for two old commies, though there was a Marxist overlay; we didn’t bounce anyone who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

We got a big assist from the audience, which included an actual monsignor at the actual Vatican who proved a prodigious daily essayist; a generous East Coast equestrian with a crush on Peter Sagan; and a poet laureate who affected the guise of a herring-mad penguin.

“I’d say that some of my favorite memories involve the family that we created out of that site,” said Charles. “They are a wonderful group of people. It’s been a privilege to get to know a lot of them.”

It’s … Monty Liggett. When action was slow on the road, LUG served up running gags (Monty Python and various Liggettisms were in heavy rotation).

So, too, were clubby and impenetrable acronyms like HWSNBN (“He Who Shall Not Be Named,” for a certain Texan), and NRRBBB (“Non-Race-Related Blah-Blah-Blah”), in which some critics argued we indulged too freely.

But when you have the effrontery to provide live commentary on a grand tour from start to finish, and from the wrong side of the pond, with few resources beyond unreliable video feeds and your equally dubious wits, it’s hard not to tumble into the ditch of digression now and then.

Some days trying to keep it between the ditches felt an awful lot like work. So, with Charles now a legislator as well as a lawyer—he won election to the state legislature in 2015—and me wanting to ride a bike in the early morning before the Duke City desert starts to smoke, it seemed wise to take a break this time around.

Maybe not, though. Because if we had been calling the Tour, safe in the ever-lovin’ arms of the LUG Nuts, I might not have stuck my hand into that damn’ cactus.

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the Aug. 1, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

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.