Archive for the ‘Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’ Category

The meaning of life

July 15, 2021

We enjoyed quite the early morning rainstorm today, with thunder and lightning. Makes for one hell of an alarm clock.

Busy, busy, busy. Even a slacker has to take hold now and then.

We have a dispersed conga line of kinfolk snaking through El Rancho Pendejo, all of them from Herself’s side of the family, come to visit Herself the Elder between plagues.

The first of four visitations occurred yesterday; some very nice folks out of Texas, who took time away from a visit to Pagosa Springs to pop down and say howdy. A bit of tidying up was mandated, because somebody around here is remarkably untroubled by clutter (not Herself).

Round two commences Sunday with more visitors from the Lone Star State (Herself the Elder was born in Nacogdoches back in 1933). Then Herself’s eldest sis pops in from Maryland for a week starting Wednesday. Finally, yet another Texican niece drops by sometime in August.

Meanwhile, The Work goes on, as it must. I banged out a cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News yesterday, learning in the process that the Outside+ Global AdventureStuff Conglomerate had snatched up a couple more properties, Pinkbike and CyclingTips.

This, as Monty Python has taught us, “brings us once again to the urgent realization of just how much there is still left to own.”

Me, I’m still a rental. And something of a fixer-upper, too. Still, I’m open to offers. …

R.I.P., Harris Cyclery

June 13, 2021

Sheldon Brown lives on at his eponymous website.

Harris Cyclery — yes, that Harris Cyclery, the place where the legendary Sheldon Brown served the cycling public — is no more.

I stumbled across the news while scanning Bicycle Retailer‘s Twitter feed (I hate to admit it, but occasionally Twitter actually serves a purpose). The folks at road.cc fear for Sheldon’s voluminous website as the shop closes its doors.

As a ham-handed, thumb-fingered dolt, I’ve relied on Sheldon’s how-to archives to solve many a problem that otherwise might cause actual mechanics to laugh at me for all the wrong reasons. It would be a tragedy of cosmic proportions if this treasure trove were to vanish into the dim mists of velo-history.

Road.cc is trying to reach Sheldon’s people for the deets. Here’s hoping they plan to survive yet another sad passing.

Yellow fever

May 27, 2021

The DogShi(r)t circa 1999, from VOmax.

Beats me how I wandered off into the garment district. But here we are, so let’s just roll with it.

I was searching various hard drives for background on my soon-to-be-history Voler jersey racket. Then I was telling someone the bee-in-the-jersey story from Back in the Day®, when we lived in Crusty County and VOmax made my team garb.

Anyway, at some point in the excavation I unearthed a Bicycle Retailer column from 1999 that discussed this very kit. And as Le Tour is due to kick off next month, I thought I’d brush off the dust and cobwebs and trot it out for inspection.

• • •

 

Maillot Jaune vs. Yellow Jersey

— The First Draws Cheers,

Bui the Other Prompts Jeers

 

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.Mark Twain

With Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich and Bjarne Riis skipping the Tour de France this year, look for yours truly to be wearing the yellow jersey.

OK, not the yellow jersey. But a yellow jersey.

Specifically, the new Team Mad Dog Media/Dogs at Large Velo jersey from VOmax Team Apparel. It just happens to be yellow. Bright yellow. A vitamin-C-megadose, kidney-stone, construction-vehicle kind of yellow, festooned with black and white graphics. Perfect camouflage for ambushing Californians from a meadow bright with dandelions.

“Bumblebee,” said my wife.

“Hope ONCE doesn’t sue you,” said VOmax’s Adam Myerson.

“Cool,” said I.

Sadly, not everyone shares my fashion sense in this rustic backwater, where “going for a ride” typically involves a hay-burning quadruped or a rusty pickup and a sixpack of Rocky Mountain brain marinade.

Trying to outrun The Man with the Hammer.

You Look … Marvelous? I badgered a couple of friends into riding with me the other day. When I rolled into their barnyard, clad in my new finery, they commenced to hooting and clutching their sides like hillbillies suffering from a bad batch of white lightning.

Mary phoned my wife, chortling, “You let him out of the house like this?” Hal, a retro-grouch prone to the literary gesture, declined to ride anywhere in the Rocky Mountain West with me unless he could wear his woodland-camo’ jumpsuit and street-hockey helmet as a counterpoint to my flashy Lycra and visored Giro.

These, mind you, are people whose idea of fun is burro racing, a form of dementia peculiar to central Colorado that causes the victim to run marathons on mountain trails while tethered to a jackass. Doesn’t matter what you wear — people are going to shake their heads when they see a guy doing that, whether he’s wearing a T-shirt and shorts or a thong bikini and spike heels.

A Jackass of a Different Color. I tell Hal and Mary that they might find a bike ride a pleasant respite from jackass rambles now and then if they’d acquire some of the new-fangled doodads that make cycling more fun — clipless pedals and shoes designed for riding rather than running; suspension forks to soften our corrugated county roads; garments that wick a little better than a beach towel. But they’d rather be uncomfortable than funny-looking.

Me, I’ve been funny-looking for years, clad in unnatural-fiber garments from Rio Grande Racing Team, Sangre de Cristo Cycling Club, Rainbow Racing and Dogs at Large Velo. Each new jersey always made me feel as though I were a part of something special, somehow set apart from the other Day-Glo geeks wobbling around on two-wheelers. A racing jersey was a garment not just to be worn, but to be lived up to.

So when my sunny new DogShi(r)ts and summery weather hit the Wet Mountains more or less simultaneously, it was if a light had clicked on in a cartoon balloon over my head: “Hey, dude … if you want to look more like a banana and less like a grapefruit in that jersey, you’d better start riding your bike.”

Here Comes the Sun. First, I got a neighbor to brush-hog my rabbitbrush-clogged cyclo-cross course and started hitting it once or twice a week. Between ’crosses, I rode laps on my favorite 10-mile circuit, half pavement and half dirt, with plenty of gradual climbing. I even dusted off the road bike, which sees less daylight than Charlie Manson, and went for a few dirt-free rides to Wixson Divide and back.

It wasn’t all golden. Headwinds and hills reminded me that I’m in OK shape for a 45-year-old libelist, but entirely unfit for racing; no point in shaving the legs for a couple thousand miles yet. A cattle-truck driver played mirror tag with me on a potholed, 45-mph descent to Mackenzie Junction. And a bee who thought I was his mama dove inside my brand-new jersey on a shoulderless plummet down Highway 96, causing me to fishtail to a halt on the gravel shoulder and start peeling like a stripper on speed.

Still, there have been moments. The other day, while I was doing some artless laps on my ’cross course, a passing sport-utility vehicle slowed, then stopped; whoever was inside stayed to watch for a couple go-rounds.

I’ll never race the Tour. But for a few minutes there on a summer’s day, I was in the yellow jersey, people were watching, and no one was laughing.

Stems, but no seeds

April 15, 2021

This “Shop Talk” cartoon appears in the April 2021 edition of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, available in fine shop bathrooms everywhere.

This cartoon from the most recent issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News seems to be eliciting a few chuckles, so I thought I’d let you civilians in on the gag.

There’s a bike boom going on, in case you hadn’t heard, and pretty much everything involved in the creation, distribution, and maintenance of our beloved two-wheelers is as scarce as Christian charity, thoughtful discourse, and mental health in the GOP.

The dope-dealer angle came to mind when it became clear that New Mexico would be green-lighting the sale of recreational weed, the only retail gig I have ever held. The Mud Stud and Dude have been pushing a legal high (bicycles) since 1992.

If I had it to do over again I’d be a little more subtle in the first panel, having the dealer say something like, “Psst, guys … want some good stuff?” But this sort of Monday-morning quarterbacking is fairly typical for me. I’m rarely satisfied with the way my stuff turns out.

Demonic

March 29, 2021

The Mud Stud will have to settle for getting sick air on his own bike.

As plague restrictions loosen their grip in some jurisdictions, some of us may be eagerly anticipating the rubbing of elbows with kindred spirits at bike festivals.

But if any of these Gatherings of the Tribes actually occur, they’re liable to be strictly BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike). Because there aren’t any demo models to be had.

As Niner Bikes’ Zach Vestal told Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, demos are designed to drive consumer demand, which is already off the charts. Why hang a giant pair of carbon-fiber tits on a bull market?

“It hasn’t made any sense for us to maintain a fleet of bikes for people to ride when people are buying bikes at a pace we’ve never seen before,” Vestal said.

Added Yeti’s Kyle Rajaniemi: “We’re really focused on making sure our dealers can maintain their sales momentum and deliver bikes to customers.”

The good news is, with the Ever Clear finally pried free of its impromptu anchorage, container ships won’t have to sail round the Horn to your friendly neighborhood IBD.

Talking about ‘Mons’

January 2, 2021

Msgr. Richard “Mons” Soseman.

Diane Jenks, a.k.a. The Outspoken Cyclist, has posted her chat with Charles Pelkey and me about the late Msgr. Richard “Mons” Soseman and his generous, thoughtful contributions to our daily coverage of the grand tours over at Live Update Guy.

Our segment kicks off about 33 minutes into the show. Steve Frothingham, editor in chief of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, gets things rolling with a discussion of the year just past in the bike biz and what we might expect in 2021.

Thanks to Diane for giving the Padre, Charles, and me a little corner of her chat room. You can give us a listen by clicking here.

All boomed out

December 18, 2020

After a long and oddly fruitful year, some bike-shop owners are deciding it’s time to step away from the table while they’re still winners, according to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

My man Steve Frothingham reports that the year was both good and bad for a lot of businesspeople. Good, in that they moved a ton of product, made a bunch of money, and dug out from under a mountain of debt; bad, in that it left them fried, dyed and whipped to the side.

“We’ve done well, I don’t want to mislead anybody,” said one retailer. “It just did start to feel like we were in the store-running business instead of the bicycle business. I realize that the store-running business is where the industry is going, but maybe our talents are better used elsewhere.

“And I have to say, we’re just exhausted.”

Some are changing their business models. Others are selling outright, in some cases to Trek. That’s the route Hill Abell and Laura Agnew took with Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin, Texas.

The two announced the sale yesterday, then spoke with Ken Herman at the Austin American-Statesman.

Bicycle Sport Shop had been suffering a downturn until The Bug® turned bicycles into a must-have item.

As a consequence, 2020 has been “absolutely phenomenal, which allowed us to pay down all of our debt and to actually pay our people more,” Abell said. “So it’s been a really good year for the biking industry if you’re a decent operator.”

Despite the banner year, Abell and Agnew were still looking for a way out, and found it in Trek. The four Bicycle Sport Shop locations will close Jan. 17 and reopen a few days later as Trek stores. The store-running business, as the fella says. So it goes.

Anybody else seeing their favorite local shop go corporate … or just go?

Zoom ’n’ shrooms

March 26, 2020

Some driveway artiste was trying to cheer up the passers-by, if any.

I had a Zoom video chat with the BRAINiacs yesterday. My first! Look at me, being all like hep to the jive an’ shit.

The meeting was late in the day, and I burned a whole lot of daylight indoors doing whatever the hell it is that I do around here lately, so instead of kitting up for a ride to the Dark Tower to resupply Herself the Elder I went out for a brisk half-hour limp around the ’hood.

You can see company coming a long ways off out here in the Sandia foothills.

Distancing was social, and I seem to be limping faster, so, yay.

After the Zoom session I test-drove a couple new recipes that met with Herself’s approval: mushroom quesadillas and arroz verde.

For the quesadillas I used flour tortillas and Monterey Jack rather than corn torts and mozzarella. Also, I baked them in the oven instead of frying them in a pan.

For the rice I went with a blend of mild/hot Hatch chile instead of poblano and jalapeño.

Them was the ingredients I had on hand. And y’know what? It did not suck. Didn’t take any pix because I was too busy eatin‘ them sumbitches.

The Zoom thing was cool, too. I got to see some people I haven’t seen in a while, and nobody sneezed on nobody.

• Meanwhile — confusion reigns over whether bike shops are “essential.”

Antisocial distancing

March 21, 2020

The outside is still there. We’re just not making as much use of it lately.

No child likes homework. And damn few adults like working from home full time, once they’ve given it a whirl.

Oh, sure, some of us are cut out for it. Truth be told, without the option to work remotely, some of us wouldn’t be remotely employable.

So as you noobs open your laptops on the kitchen counter, launch Skype, and settle into The New Normal, remember the Old Abnormal. We’re still here, in our three-day beards, unbrushed teeth, and soiled yoga pants, taking regular meetings with the voices in our heads.

We pioneered this shit. Homesteaded it, you might say. And we like it.

So, welcome to orientation.

First, the bad news: The voices in your head are not the ones you’re used to hearing around the water cooler in the office.

The good news? You can tell them to shut the fuck up and they won’t rat you out to HR.

Yes, it’s another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch!

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: It’s another bargain-basement broadcast. I used the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic, and skipped the Zoom H5 Handy Recorder in favor of recording directly to the MacBook Pro using Rogue Amoeba’s nifty little app Piezo. Editing was as usual, in GarageBand. The intro music is by Your Humble Narrator, assembled from bits and pieces in the iOS version of GarageBand on a 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Angry shouting and background music (the latter by Doug Maxwell/Media Right Productions) is courtesy of the YouTube Audio Library. Cash register by kiddpark at Freesound.org. Herself was voiced either by Elle Macpherson, Tyra Banks, or Rosario Dawson, I can’t decide.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 12

December 31, 2019

He’s back? Oh, God, no. Wasn’t it bad enough the first time around?
From the December 2019 issue of BRAIN.

Behold the final installment of the 12 Days of ’Toonsmas.

Now and then I think it would be fun to be a columnist as in days of yore, cranking out the tees, and also the hees, for fun and (very little) profit.

And then I think again.

Columning can feel an awful lot like work, and it seems that climate change is thinning everyone’s skin when you’d expect it to be doing just the opposite. Surely some of these squealing ninnies should’ve bled to death by now, the way they announce with outrage ev’ry prod with the bodkin. But no, it seems one wee prick merely arouses another.

Better to have my own little shop here on this unremarkable back alley, well off the Infobahn, where the Twitters and Facebooks roar around and about, one hand on the horn and the other out the window, middle digit extended. However do these people steer? Why, with the knees they’d like to shove in your groin, if they were ever to clamber down from the heights of their machinery, which they will not.

So here’s a toast to those of you who continued to patronize the joint during 2019 despite its lack of modern conveniences, the NO SOLICITORS sign, and general air of disreputability. It’s not easy to find, there’s not much in the way of parking, and you want to lock up your bike in this neighborhood if that’s how you roll.

Mind the Committee of Perpetual Grievance milling about there on the sidewalk. He’ll call a meeting about you if you should happen to tread on his toes.