Archive for the ‘Bidness’ Category

R.I.P., VeloNews

January 12, 2022

The first edition of VeloNews in which a cartoon
by You Know Who appeared.

VeloNews was found dead on Jan. 1. It was just 50 years old.

Was it murder? Suicide? Natural causes? (i.e., a slow-moving form of frontotemporal dementia?)

Nah. Darwinism. Nature red in tooth and claw, baby. Or, if you prefer your poetry in the original Sicilian, “It’s strictly business.”

• Editor’s note: A tip of the VeloNews cycling cap to Steve O. for the sharp eye on the velo-news.

Old habits die hard: A continuing saga

January 10, 2022

A quick peek at the Elena Gallegos Open Space,
where I have not been riding.

Bit by bit I’m returning components of exercise to the daily regimen.

I began with walking, the most basic form of locomotion for a biped. Unless you count crawling. This we have all done, at first while diapered, and perhaps later while suffering the side effects of our reality-management system of choice.

Next came cycling, sans hills. Then the jogging. And finally, the cautious lifting of very light weights.

Yesterday I threw caution to the winds and climbed some of the lesser hills in the ’hood, aboard the Soma Saga (canti edition), which has a low end of 20 gear inches. And yes, I used every inch, while dispatching scouts along the spinal column and down the legs to check for sleeper agents in the hamstrings.

Luna. See?

The stretching? Kinda, sorta. The yoga? Mmm, not so much. But as regular readers know, I will never be smart.

My only half-smart moves to date have been (a) to ease back into daily exercise after an extended back spasm, and (2) to avoid the off-road cycling.

When you ride singletrack using rigid steel, drop bars, rim brakes, narrow tires, and equally narrow gearing, you need to use a lot of English (or, in my case, Irish) when negotiating obstacles. If the lower back will not do The Twist you are slam-dancing with yourself in a minefield.

So, yeah. Road bikes. Broad gearing. 38mm tires at 60/65 psi. My running can be identified as “running” only because it seems slightly faster than walking. And my weightlifting? Arnold probably uses a heavier toothbrush.

Meanwhile, speaking of heavy lifting, BRAIN contributor Rick Vosper wonders whether the Bug-boosted, bike-buying bubble is ’bout to burst.

He quotes Jay Townley of Human Powered Solutions as predicting that retailers — suddenly finding themselves overstocked after The Great Product Drought while consumer interest returns to something approximating normalcy — could soon be slashing prices and running sales to attract buyers and reduce inventory, with the financial burden falling “particularly hard on bike shops and small to midsize retailers.”

Rick adds that this does not apply to e-bikes, the industry’s latest shiny object for the wandering eye. Shocking, I know.

And now for the rumors behind the news

December 5, 2021

This photo has nothing to do with the blog post. I just like it.

This morning I awakened, cracked one eye, gauged the light levels in our bedroom, and guessed the time to be 6:33 a.m.

It was 6:35. Boom. Close enough. The ol’ temple of the soul is back on track after two days of the Pfizer Pfeebles.

Coffee and the news. I see via my former employer The New Mexican that some douchebags are tearing up the Nambé Badlands. My old riding buddy Dave Kraig, who is very much not a douchebag, is on the case with the Friends of the Nambé Badlands.

Down here, meanwhile, Herself saw someone throwing an unread bundle of 20 Sunday Albuquerque Journals into the recycling bins near the Lowe’s on Juan Tabo. When I was a paperboy the idea was to throw the papers onto readers’ doorsteps so that the readers could throw them in the trash. Division of labor, don’t you know.

FInally, up in Colorado, the latest in a seemingly endless invasion of out-of-towners is trying to make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear that is the dormant Cuchara ski area. Good luck with that, fellas. I hear they’ve been in touch with my man Hal Walter about doing a burro race. How about adding a “Little 500”-style gravel race in which all the competitors have to ride Range Rover Evoque bicycles? Electrify them sumbitches to bring ’em up to date and you’ll have a little sumpin’-sumpin’ goin’ on.

A workin’ man can’t get nowhere today

September 6, 2021

Luck of the draw.

Happy Labor Day, comrades.

I’m barely a worker these days; my paying chores have dwindled to one “Shop Talk” cartoon per month for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Of course, now that BRAIN is a part of the Greater Outside Globe-Spanning Vertically Integrated Paywalled Conglomerate, I find myself negotiating a contract to keep my faded Levi’s up and buckled while I continue to do what I’ve been doing for nigh on to 30 years. So it goes.

Thus, in solidarity with all y’all still on The Man’s clock, here a few random tales culled from our workaday world:

• Hotel workers serve as an unsung pit crew for the firefighters battling the Caldor blaze.

• Job openings outnumber the unemployed. But a gulf between the jobs available and what workers want has led to a “Great Reassessment.”

• Speaking of assessments, are the bots trying to upend the MeatWorld JobMart or are we just stumbling around in the dark as per usual? Kevin Drum has some brief thoughts on the topic.

• Is the boss watching, even when you’re working from home? Maybe. Say hello to “tattleware.”

• Can a workin’ man get somewhere today? He surely couldn’t back in 1978, according to Merle Haggard.

Trail tales

July 20, 2021

A 2019 shot of the Paseo del Bosque trail.

A hop, skip, and a jump from the moneyed boutique community of Aspen, an abandoned coal mine with a grim history, an environmental disaster one expert called “the worst coal mine site I’ve seen in the West,” has become “a mountain biking park for the masses,” thanks to the grandsons of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

Writes Jason Blevins in The Colorado Sun:

The word “model” comes up in almost all discussions of Coal Basin, used by the landowners, trail designers, mountain bikers, land managers and locals alike. The single track trails are a model for restoring environmental danger zones. A model for Forest Service managers seeking partnerships with private entities to help build and maintain trails. A model for open space protectors offering landowners a way to marry recreational access with an easement that prevents any other type of development.

Down here in Duke City, meanwhile, just six full-time and seasonal workers strive to maintain about 160 miles of trail, including the fabled Paseo del Bosque, known to many of us here around the old burrito cart.

According to park-and-rec PR person Jessica Campbell, via D’Val Westphal at the Albuquerque Journal, our limited trail money “must also accommodate public demand for new trail segments” in addition to maintaining what we already have.

I guess the Waltons can’t be everywhere, though of course they are, especially when it comes to selling you something. Maybe we Burqueños need a new model.

If you build it, they will come, as folks are fond of saying. But don’t neglect the upkeep of your particular field of dreams.

Fuelishness

June 19, 2021

Keep on (not) truckin’. Photo courtesy Groendyke Transport

Here’s a fun story. My man Hal was homeward bound after a track meet in Lakewood and lo and behold, there was no gasoline to be found in either Florence or Weirdcliffe.

There’s no shortage of gasoline. But there is a shortage of tank-truck drivers, thanks in part to The Bug® and decisions made around same. And we two old newspapermen, to our everlasting shame, had to get the deets from (choke) the TV stations’ websites.

KRDO had the best piece, quoting spokespeople from AAA, the National Tank Truck Carriers, and Groendyke Transport.

Something like a quarter of tank trucks were parked in April due to a lack of qualified drivers, sez the NTTC. Older drivers decided to retire, sez Groendyke. And driver schools shut down, which kept new drivers from getting certified.

And if Circle K can’t fill its tanks, well … neither can you, Skeezix.

AAA Colorado is urging motorists not to panic-buy gasoline the way they did toilet paper. Yeah, good luck with that. They’ll be panic-buying both because right now they’re out of gas and shitting themselves.

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.

Pocket change

February 22, 2021

Pocket should’ve changed its name to Sherwin-Williams,
because they pretty much cover the Earth.

Another day, another acquisition. Pocket Outdoor Media has snatched up Outside, Peloton, and athleteReg, and will be rebranding itself as Outside.

Here’s the story from Axios. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, a POM product, has its own story here.

Robin Thurston, chairman of the new Outside, is said to dream of building “the Amazon Prime of the active lifestyle: a connected, holistic ecosystem of resources — including content, experiences, utilities, community, commerce, education, and services — that can be customized for each active lifestyle enthusiast.”

He’s certainly proven himself capable of financing his vision. Is bigger better? Is there strength in numbers? Depends on who’s crunching them, I guess.

Mall rats

December 19, 2020

The Citadel’s logo. Herself worked there during our first tour of duty in Bibleburg, at the Eagle’s Nest.

Remember shopping malls?

They were becoming a Thing about the same time that I was. Bibleburg being behind the curve on pretty much everything (“a cemetery with lights,” as one newspaper colleague would come to call it), my town didn’t get a proper enclosed mall until 1972, when I had relocated to Alamosa to lower academic standards at Adams State College.

In the late Sixties our “mall” out east of Constitution and Academy was the Rustic Hills Shopping Center, which had a small enclosed area with a typical strip mall attached on the west side, with a liquor store, a pinball arcade, Tandy’s, 7-Eleven, and like that there. Major tenants were (I think) a Gibson’s on the eastern corner and a Safeway on the western end. In between was … well, not much that I can recall. I got there by bike, via a dirt path paralleling a drainage ditch.

There was a Duckwall’s. A Roffler’s Sculpture-Kut shop where a Mexican barber told me he could cut my hair in such a way that my parents, teachers, and swim coach would never know I was turning into a faux hippie unless they took a whiff of my personal fragrance (Eau de Ditch Weed). A western-wear shop where I acquired through dubious means a black, flat-crown Resistol a la Lee “Liberty Valance” Marvin that, with the addition of a band of silver conchos, went nicely with the rest of my Woodstock-wannabe garb. No, don’t ask; just thank Cthulhu that no photographs survive.

Until 1972, when the Citadel Mall sprang to hideous life, with its acres and acres of parking that in the first heavy rain flooded residential basements for miles around, anyone wanting to experience an actual enclosed mall had to motor up to Denver, where Cinderella City was the Big Kahuna. Not just a whim, a destination, particularly around Christmastime.

The Citadel and the Chapel Hills Mall, which opened a decade later, arguably helped croak what little downtown Bibleburg had. Now, neither is exactly crushing it, the pack rats are stripping malls’ carcasses nationwide, and “everybody knows” that you can’t have a vibrant modern city without a thriving downtown. So it goes.

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?