Archive for the ‘Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’ Category

Bull in a China shop

May 10, 2019

There’s a new tariff in town.

MAGA, etc., et al., and so on and so forth. I’d speculate as to whether Art O. DeDeal is trying to croak the bike biz because of the relentless roasting I’ve given him, but he doesn’t know Schwinn from Shinola.

He apparently wants everyone else to lose money the way he did.

So. Much. Winning.

Where’s my gold watch?

April 18, 2019

Bagged and tagged: the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650.

Yesterday I drew the May cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Today I wrapped a video for Adventure Cyclist.

And now, as El Rancho Pendejo seems to be remarkably free of bikes needing review, it seems I don’t have any paying work to do for a month, when the next BRAIN ’toon is due.

That ain’t a job. That’s a hobby.

Shit. I think I’m retired.

Opening the kimono

April 14, 2019

Ray Keener opened his kimono
and left Steve Frothingham with his pants down.

Steve Frothingham is taking a pounding at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News after bike-biz poobah Ray Keener employed the business idiom “open the kimono” in a guest editorial headlined “Is the number of shops shrinking?”

That it was the April Fool’s Day issue is strictly coincidental.

I took note of the expression while reading Ray’s commentary online (it has since been scrubbed from that piece after howls of outrage from various nooks and crannies of The Trade). As a copy editor emeritus I found it odd, but I find a lot of corpo-speak puzzling and/or irksome and gave it no further thought because I’m not paid to copy-edit BRAIN.

After the phrase blew up in Steve’s face I went hunting for source material, but couldn’t really find a single definitive reference. It’s intended to convey disclosure, though of what remains unclear. A lack of weaponry? One’s naughty bits?

It has appeared in “The Office” and “Mad Men,” made a Forbes list of “Most Annoying Business Jargon,” and was added to the Macmillan Open Dictionary about eight years ago. If you need a soundtrack, The Embryos have recorded a disc with that title.

Steve Haruch went to work on the phrase for NPR in 2014, examining its ethnic and gendered dimensions, and noted, “Whatever decade it comes from, plenty of people wish it had stayed there.”

True dat.

More than a few folks think Steve screwed the pooch here, and are saying so loudly, on Twatter and Facebutt. Or so I’m told (I restrict myself to antisocial media these days). And it goes without saying that he was compelled to apologize. It’s always the editor’s turn in the barrel when something goes sideways.

But lemme just open this ol’ kimono for you here. …

Steve is the last man standing at BRAIN. Yes, a middle-aged white man, to be sure, but in any case the last editorial employee, period, end of story. It took five full-time editorial types and a handful of contractors like Your Humble Narrator to put out the April 1 issue 10 years ago. But the magazine has suffered alongside the business it covers.

BRAIN was recently sold to another bunch of middle-aged white men and moved from Laguna Hills, Calif., to the People’s Republic of Boulder. I’m told by a reliable source that the editorial staff is expected to double. So now that carbon-fiber barrel will be a two-holer. Huzzah, etc.

Here’s the long and the short of it: You can’t write and edit a magazine and website mostly solo without someone’s bête noire tiptoeing past you and into print.  Especially when contributors yank hairy bits of lingo out of their kimonos while you’re trying to wrap a magazine issue plus the Sea Otter Guide while keeping a website on life support and hiring a managing editor between jaunts from Denver to Taiwan to Denver to Monterey.

So please, give the middle-aged white man a break. There is not some vast racist, sexist, ageist conspiracy to be exposed and snuffed out here. Dude was pedaling through a tight corner and cartwheeled into the spectators. Further beatings will not improve morale, no matter what you’ve seen on the Internet.

Stand down

March 23, 2019

His Excellency scans The Compound for unauthorized personnel.

Huh. I’ve actually managed to accomplish a few things lately. Go figure.

My April cartoon has been delivered to BRAIN. And my review of the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650 — print version and its two-minute video teaser — is all but complete; I’m just waiting for some Salsoid to answer a couple of questions about spec.

Unzip over to Voler to join the team! Use the Secret Code (OLDGUYS15) to get 15% off your purchase. And no, goddamnit, for the last time, it does not come with fries!

Two other review bikes have been shipped back to their respective motherships, greatly enhancing velocipede-storage capacity in the garage.

Sue Barue, The Fearsome Furster, has passed her annual checkup and had a brace of new window gussets installed, so maybe I’ll be able to hear the stereo again.

The cats have been given a vigorous spring airing. Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) inspected the perimeter yesterday and collected samples of this year’s grass crop for scientific analysis, the results of which were displayed on the living-room carpet this morning. Miss Mia Sopaipilla took up her station in the clothes dryer, and reported that for reasons unknown the lint filter seems to be full of cat hair.

And now I have exactly fuck-all to do. Nobody’s sending me to Taiwan, or Sea Otter, I won’t have a cartoon due until mid-April, and I’m fresh out of review bikes.

So I guess I’ll just have to ride one of my own. Sucks to be me.

Life in the Fat Lane: Everything, all the time. With fries.

March 10, 2019

If you’re seeing a little more sun all of a sudden, it’s not just because it’s Daylight Saving Time. It’s because the Fat Guy is throwing a little less shade.

The Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter turned 30 today, and he’s been on one of those weight-loss programs for celebrity has-beens, the kind where you don’t look quite so porky because hardly anyone ever sees you anymore.

When I turned 30, back in 1984, I was on a weight-loss program of my own. It had occurred to me that I had problems, which included but were not limited to drugs, booze, food, voices in my head, and newspapers, and I found that vigorous bicycling helped me sweat out the cocaine, alcohol and gravy.

Didn’t do shit for the voices in my head, or the newspapers. But what the hell, a guy needs friends. And a job’s nice, too.

Five years later I finally put those friends in my head to work, when I signed on to draw cartoons for VeloNews, which was just settling into its new digs in the People’s Republic of Boulder. I was two more newspapers further on down the road, in Santa Fe, and the voices were telling me that once again my days were numbered, probably because the publisher kept saying things like “Are you still here?”

I’d been racing for a couple of years, and out of an abundance of caution and a desire for some sort of change that involved more than my ZIP code I applied for the managing editor’s job at VeloNews. Didn’t get it. But the honchos liked the cartoons, and the first one they published featured the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter, who debuted in Volume 18, No. 3, cover date March 10, 1989.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Back then the Fat Guy didn’t look at all like he does today. In fact, he looked a lot like me. Long hair and a full beard, both of which gradually went away, and a variety of undistinguished and too-tight jerseys that by the mid-Nineties had stabilized into the familiar yellow-and-red kit with the “Spare Tire Ale” logo on both sleeves, the one we still sell today over at Voler.

The shorts sponsors tended to change whenever I had a notion. Lardasche Jeans. Juan Ton’s Asian Tacos. That sort of thing.

And the dude just kept getting larger.

At one point Fais Dodo couldn’t find his bike (turns out he was sitting on it). At another he had sucked a few smaller riders into orbit around him. Almost everybody was smaller. Entire teams were.

He even tried to sue the bicycle industry for making him a great fat bastard, when it had done the exact opposite for me.

“Yep, cycling did this to me,” he tells the lawyer, hot dog in one hand, sack of pork rinds in the other. “Couple hours in the ol’ saddle and I gotta eat a 7-Eleven.”

“You don’t say,” replies the lawyer. “Sounds like a no-class-action lawsuit to me!”

Every time I revisit that particular cartoon I see and hear John Goodman, playing Walter Sobchak from “The Big Lebowski,” and not just because Goodman’s first TV appearance was in a Burger King commercial. I just like John Goodman.

I like the Fat Guy, too, and he went with me when I left VeloNews in 2012, not long after the original honchos sold it to the publishing equivalent of a chop shop run by meth-heads. We didn’t go bowling, though. We teamed up with Charles Pelkey at Live Update Guy, where Il Fattini was cast as a gender-bending Fat Lady Singing.

“It’s over!” he’d croon whenever a break got caught.

And El Grande started appearing more regularly in the “Shop Talk” strip I still draw for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, though he’s basically down to walk-ons and cameos behind that strip’s stars, the Mud Stud and Dude. He’s the kind of customer who dollars up on the wrong side of the ledger, drinking all the beer in the shop fridge and grazing the energy-bar display right down to the bedrock.

A customer once asked the Mud Stud if he had any fat bikes.

“Nah,” said the Stud. “We got a Fat Guy, though. Sell ‘im to you cheap.”

Behind him The Large One is mumbling through a cloud of hoagie crumbs. “This shop needs a deli. Maybe a brewpub. A bakery? Funny, I don’t climb so good lately. Bro’-deal me on a lighter bike?”

We’ve all ridden a few kilometers in those Sidis, eh? Any cyclist worth his kit knows that to find the shortest distance between two points you have to cut a few corners, or at least round them off a little.

And lighter is always better, amirite? Fatso is not the Road Runner, so bloody fast that his sheer velocity straightens out the curves and flattens all the hills. He’s Wile E. Coyote with an eating disorder, shopping for solutions at Acme. Or Walgreens. At least he’s out there, putting in the kilometers.

He was the guy the legendary Dong Ngo had in mind when we were discussing the 1987 Trek 2500 on display at the Denver Spoke.

“Who buys this bike?” I asked, stunned by the price.

“You wouldn’t believe who buys this bike,” he replied.

The Fat Guy, that’s who. The last guy who needs one. His eyes were never bigger than his stomach. Nothing was. Or is.

Maybe that’s why the Fat Guy struck such a chord. He wants what we want, which at rock bottom, basically, is more. Or maybe it’s because he seems so obliviously comfortable in his oversized skin.

Oddly, the jersey he covers it with seems especially popular with little skinny climber dudes, probably because people go “Oh, yeah, right,” when they see them wearing it.

But you know what’s really odd? Nearly 30 years to the day after Fatso and I pranced onto the VeloNews stage together, we’re both working for Felix Magowan again. A full circle, that is.

Yep. Felix was one of the honchos back then, and he’s one of the honchos now, ever since Pocket Outdoor Media bought Bicycle Retailer in January. I got my first check from the new owners in March. It didn’t smell like meth, and it didn’t bounce, so I guess we’re all one big happy family again.

We’ve been downsized, of course. Before this latest acquisition BRAIN published 18 issues per year, and now we’re down to 12, which accounts for Fatso’s sleeker shadow, and my slimmer paycheck.

Still, 30 years is a nice long first lap. We may be off the back, but we haven’t been pulled yet. Good thing the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter has been taking his turns on the front. It’s been like drafting the Budweiser beer wagon with a full hitch of Clydesdales.

Can’t find my way home

February 11, 2019

Good thing it doesn’t matter when a virtual press runs, because someone has been intercoursing the penguin as regards his self-imposed deadlines.

Radio Free Dogpatch is intended to be a weekly affair, scheduled for Fridays, but just ask the penguin how well that’s worked out for him (whoops, too late, he’s exploded). To date the thing has reared its ugly head weekly, semimonthly, and on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays.

After three or four goes at this most recent episode, which came this close to becoming a plain-vanilla blog post, I’m starting to think Wednesdays are the ticket. Showtime. Whatever.

In any case, and without further ado, here’s episode 19 of Radio Free Dogpatch. Too bad I couldn’t get it finished in time to win a Grammy to go along with all my Pulitzers, Reubens, Emmys and MacArthur Fellowships.

Oh, well, there’s always next year.

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

• Editorial notes: Shannon Hall wrote about the meanderings of magnetic north for The New York Times. Steve Frothingham has been following the trials and tribulations of ASE and the various media-consolidation stories for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. John McNulty wrote about super-salesman Elmer “Sell the Sizzle” Wheeler for The New Yorker way back in 1938. And Sam Dean of the Los Angeles Times gave us a peek at Zwift’s e-sports ambitions.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica AT2035 microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited in Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro, adding audio acquired through fair means and foul via Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack (no profit was taken in an admittedly casual approach to various copyrights). Speaking of which, Buck appears courtesy of the 1935 William Wellman film “Call of the Wild,” while Nick Danger took a break from his Further Adventures to ask directions to The Firesign Theatre’s Old Same Place. The background music is “Crusin” from Zapsplat.com. And Blind Faith wrapped it all up with “Can’t Find My Way Home.”

Prime time is on trails, not TV

February 6, 2019

The February wind was making the clouds skate around all over the sky yesterday.

The State of the Union (El Rancho Pendejo Edition) is as follows:

Herself is now working 10 hours a day, four days a week, so as to have a three-day weekend each and every week.

I am working not quite so much, my career having developed a slow leak at the potholed intersection of Bicycle and Journalism.

Trail time: When the bike is leaning up against the rock I’m probably not going to fall off of it.

I have a cartoon to draw for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, and a review to finish for Adventure Cyclist, and beyond that it’s anybody’s guess. Terra incognita. Here be dragons. All hope abandon, ye who scribble here.

Speaking of hope abandoned, I can’t wait to see the ratings for last night’s comedy special from Capitol Hill. Knowing that Charlie Pierce would be on the case, we gave it a miss, reasoning that if we want to watch a loon pretending to be president we can always dredge up some old “SNL” footage of Chevy Chase playing Gerald Ford.

Instead we caught up on “Crashing,” the Pete Holmes thing on HBO. It’s only so-so — Marc Maron and Bill Burr are more my style, when ol’ Freckles isn’t raving about ball sports — but you get to see some funny cameos by twisted comics like Dave Attell and Jeff Ross.

Beforehand I engaged in wheel sport, taking a quick out-and-back spin on the Voodoo Nakisi, which has been neglected while I review the Jamis Aurora Elite. My mad trail skillz have atrophied, and I was dabbing on sections a fat 4-year-old could handle on a balance bike, but it sure beat working. It beat not working too.

And in other news …

January 31, 2019

VN and BRAIN, together at last.

… we have this. More later.

Some lovely filth

December 15, 2018

Your Humble Narrator makes the masters-45 podium at the 1999 Colorado state championships. Photo: Neal McQuarie

The USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships are going on in Louisville, and some decidedly un-’crosslike weather is going on in Albuquerque.

This is nothing new. The weather, that is. I began losing my interest in ’cross about the same time everybody else “discovered” it, in part because winter was starting to seem like something you saw in old movies, or that only the graybeards talked about.

“You call this winter? Pssh! Why, back in ’98. …”

For me, getting cold and muddy was about half the fun. While all the roadies were doing squats in the gym, riding fixed gears on the street, or even worse, sitting on the trainer in front of some old Tour tapes, a select few of us were running around in the slush, wearing thick coats of goo, broad grins, and perfectly rideable bicycles.

“Ooo, there’s some lovely filth over ’ere!”

Anyway, thinking about ’cross and the lack of proper weather for same reminded me of a BRAIN column from 2002, and that constitutes the bulk of this week’s episode of Radio Free Dogpatch, which got a bum call-up and thus is a little slow getting off the start line.

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

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with a Shure SM58 microphone, Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack, and the old 2009 iMac. Background music is “Newborn,” a jingle lifted from Apple’s iMovie, which also supplied the “Medal Ceremony” opener.

Catbed scanner

December 13, 2018

“Yo, scan this.”

Miss Mia Sopaipilla proves something of an impediment to the rumormongery from time to time.