Archive for the ‘Interbike’ Category

Cold blow and the rainy night

December 7, 2018

The transition from fall to winter is always a sketchy time around here.

I’m not a fan of shorter, colder, darker days. They remind me at a genetic level of why my people invented uisce beatha. And since I no longer indulge in that miraculous restorative I’m at sea without a paddle on these chilly gray mornings, when the hangover is outside my head, at large and in charge, and not even aspirin is of any use.

This is when I await a tot of bad news, the way I once awaited a shot of good booze. The life of the free-range rumormonger is wild and free, until it isn’t, and it’s generally around this time of year when editors count and cull their herds.

“Oh, that one’s got to go. Dumber than three mules, eats like six of ’em, and shits all over the place. Fetch my .30-.30.”

It was fall 2017 when I got the word that Bicycle Retailer and Industry News would no longer require my “Mad Dog Unleashed” column. This was not a surprise. The industry-news biz, and the industry itself, was not exactly flush. Flushed was more like it. And shortly thereafter the publisher who gave the order and the editor who carried it out were no longer with The Organization.

About the same time Adventure Cyclist guessed that they wouldn’t need me at Interbike Reno, the Last Dance in Sin City having demonstrated all the intoxicating power of a half-can of O’Doul’s, a two-wheeled version of P.T. Barnum’s This Way to the Egress. When I heard nary a word about the show afterward I assumed Management had made the right decision. A bored and sober Dog makes a poor companion indeed. Whining and snarling and pissing on things.

And an old Dog, too. Set in his ways he is. ‘Tis a wee bit late to be training him so. Is there a .30-.30 to be had somewhere, d’ye think?

Well, p’raps. But not right now. Until I hear otherwise, I’m to deliver the first “Shop Talk” cartoon of 2019 to BRAIN next week. And a fresh Adventure Cyclist review bike awaits me down at Fat Tire Cycles, one of the few Duke City shops I have yet to visit.

And thus we have this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch: “Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, or Whatever Floats Your Boat.” Give it a listen.

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. Cap’n Whitebeard used an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Into the Sunset” from Audio Hero via ZapSplat.com. Sounds of the sea courtesy Freesound.org.

• Editor’s note: The very day I recorded this episode BRAIN announced that the bell had tolled, not for me, but for Interbike, both show and staff. That shit will roll downhill — just how far and fast remains to be seen — and I feel the pain of all those who saw the business end of that .30-.30. Marc Sani, one of BRAIN’s founders and presently its interim publisher, has a few thoughts on the whys and wherefores. As for me, I wrote about the final Vegas show in 2017, and you can read that after the jump.

• Off to see the Wizard in 2017

Interbike 2018: Relax

September 21, 2018

Just a little pinprick.

The latest iteration of the Gathering of the Tribes is in the rear-view mirror.

Was it a success? I have no idea. We’ll have to wait for the numbers, which may prove elusive.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

One astute observer who is not me does not recall seeing any attendance figures from last year’s Interbike, the Last Roundup in Sin City, and thus who knows? Just as in real life, we may have to judge based on anecdotal evidence instead of cold, hard facts.

Speaking of anecdotal evidence, real life, and cold, hard facts, both Charlie Pierce and Kevin Drum are goggle-eyed at the latest plot twist in “The Adventures of Brett Kavanaugh, Boy Wonder.”

If this were real real life instead of a cheapjack “Justice League” porno knockoff, Kavanaugh’s nomination would be as dead as John Holmes. But the Senate is all Jokers and no Batmen.

Meanwhile, a tip of the Rivendell cycling cap to Darren Sherkat, who was the first and only commenter to publicly recognize the lyrics from Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” which I was using for headlines on this year’s Interbike posts. Hope you enjoyed ’em.

When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown,
The dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb.

Interbike 2018: The dream is gone

September 20, 2018

El Grande, being (ahem) gravitationally challenged, rarely participates in the Sport of Kings. Organizers grew tired of the frantic phone calls from the National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado.

The inaugural RenoCross took place last night. Alas, neither I, the Mud Stud nor the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter was in attendance.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of coverage out there at 8 a.m. New Mexico time, though cxmagazine.com has a brief report, results and pix.

My colleague Steve Frothingham had contemplated doing the Wheelers & Dealers race, but his new duties may have kept him in the Show Daily office. The Fake News never sleeps, and it rarely pins on a number.

El Grande did, from time to time. But it usually got swallowed by a roll, crease or fold, and even if he finished none of the judges could see it and thus he never got his just deserts.

Sometimes he didn’t even get beered.

• Next: Relax.

Interbike 2018: Can you show me where it hurts?

September 19, 2018

There’s a new tariff in town.

Back to the present: My man Matt Wiebe of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News serves up a piece from Interbike about whether retailers should be stocking up on product with more tariffs on the horizon.

Among the folks Matt spoke to was Friend of the Blog Stephen Newhall of Rob and Charlie’s in Fanta Se, who is taking the dire pronouncements from some suppliers with “a grain of salt.”

“What will happen is that sales that would have otherwise happened in November and December will happen sooner,” he says.

One of the big issues is what constitutes a bike made in China, notes Bob Margevicius of Specialized.

“A bike’s point of origin is not necessarily clear because it is made from components from so many sources,” he says. “It is an extremely confusing time right now.”

The whole piece is worth a read, especially since Matt isn’t just another Fake News guy like Your Humble Narrator. He’s also a small-business owner*, a pro salmon fisherman with a boat, nets, and everything.

* Note the hyphenation there. That’s an Associated Press style deal intended to avoid confusion. Matt helms a small business, but as anyone who has ever seen him will attest, he is not a small businessman.

• Next: The dream is gone.

Interbike 2018: There is no pain, you are receding

September 18, 2018

OutDoor Demo at the Northstar California resort wrapped yesterday — to rave reviews, if you believe the Fake News — and Interbike Marketweek proper opened today. There’s a Show Daily and everything.

Not everybody makes it from Demo to the show floor, though. This year, as always, a few exhibitors did the Demo and then hit the door running.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

The Mud Stud usually strives for the doubleheader, if he makes it to the Gathering of the Tribes at all. A guy who lives on SpaghettiOs and PBR is not likely to own a GPS, even at bro-deal pricing.

He has been known to confuse Las Vegas, New Mexico, for Las Vegas, Nevada. The one time he tried to fly, Homeland Security wanted to add him to its museum of curiosities, but the EPA said ixnay.

Another time the Stud found himself in Myanmar in search of Mandalay Bay. Alas, the city of Mandalay is 500km from the nearest bay, and further still from the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Sin City, Interbike’s final flop in that neon whorehouse.

You’d think the extended water crossing might have tipped our boy off, since hitchhiking and/or cycling across the Pacific can be damply sketchy. But the Stud spends a lot of time wandering around in his own head and is not always paying close attention to what transpires outside that cavernous, empty, Mohawked space.

In 2003 the Stud made both Demo and Interbike. But it wasn’t pretty. The bike didn’t let him down, but the bottle did.

• Next: Can you show me where it hurts?

Day 1: Big hair, bigger air

Day 2: What goes up, must come down.

Day 3: Speaking of coming down. …

 

Interbike 2018: This is not how I am

September 17, 2018

The Mud Stud is a top-notch wrench, but his periodic forays into entrepreneurship have rarely dollared up on the hoof.

Neither Interbike nor Bicycle Retailer and Industry News is limited to serving as a delivery system for my bullshit. There are various jobs of work being done, products being shifted, and money being made.

Or so it is to be hoped, anyway.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

But the show is not a cheap date. And as a consequence some penny-pinchers have been known to try to cut a few corners — say, by setting up outside the show and hoping to lure a few rubes away from the big tent and into their little tipis.

The Mud Stud tried that in 1999, when the show was still at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, with predictable results. At top, you’ll find the setup, a “Shop Talk” strip that appeared in the pre-show edition of BRAIN. Below are the subsequent Show Daily strips. Click the images for bigger versions.

And where was I when The Stud and Bobbi were trying to move their respective products? I was on site like a good dog, hawking copies of my first and only book, a collection of VeloNews cartoons titled “The Season Starts When?”

• Next: There is no pain, you are receding.

 

Show Daily, Day 1

 

Show Daily, Day 2

 

Show Daily, Day 3: The finale.

Interbike 2018: Just nod if you can hear me

September 16, 2018

Another of the reasons I kinda-sorta wish I was at Interbike is this: Rivendell’s Grant Petersen is bringing a new not-a-mountain-bike bike to the show on Tuesday.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

He mentioned it in his Blahg a while back (scroll down a bit) and I forgot to check back for the deets.

This morning the old 20-watt bulb flickers to life so off I go and hey presto! There it is (scroll down a bit some more). Before you do, take a moment to appreciate the permalink.

So why would I want to go all the way to Reno to clap my peepers upon the Rivendell Gus Boots-Willsen? Because, sez Grant: “We won’t submit it to magazines for review. Their standard isn’t ours.”

I think he’s mostly talking about the racing mags here, but you never know until you ask, and I haven’t asked. Yet.

But the Gus sounds like it’s right up my alley. Trail. Whatever. Again, Grant:

The Gus Boots-Willsen is NOT a mountain bike. It’s a HILL bike, which is just a mountain bike stripped of the technology necessary for survival during super aggressive riding. … Boots is for fun, travel, exploring, so it doesn’t need the spring, hinges, and hydraulics.

If you’re at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, swing by the Rivendell booth (2467) and say to Gus and Grant for me.

• Next: This is not how I am.

Interbike 2018: Hello, is there anybody in there?

September 15, 2018

My lodging for Interbike 1999 was a tad spartan.

This morning, when I should have been risking life and limb motoring to Reno via U.S. 550 and U.S. 50, a.k.a. The Loneliest Road in America, I took a little spin down Memory Lane, which is much easier on the kidneys.

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

Back in 1997, the pre-Interbike issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News ran a whopping 150 pages, more than three times this year’s 46 (and the pages were bigger back then, too).

It was an embarrassment of riches, so much so that the editors awarded me some extra space to play with, probably because they had run out of actual news to plug the holes between the ads.

Thus, my “Shop Talk” cartoon, ordinarily a simple black-and-white strip at the bottom of the Editorial & Comment page at the back of the book, took over an entire page of the September 1997 issue, and in full color, too.

The resulting CMYK image file was so friggin’ huge that I had to break the sonofabitch into segments to squeeze it through our lo-fi Innertubes outside Weirdcliffe for deposit upon the BRAIN trust in Fanta Se (click the image to see the big picture).

Back then I was drawing cartoons for the Show Daily, too. But that’s another story.

• Next: Just nod if you can hear me.

Roll of the dice

August 20, 2018

Off with your head!

Here’s your helmet, there’s the door, what’s your hurry?

Megan Tompkins, the publisher of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, “has left to pursue other opportunities,” in the parlance of our times.

Marc Sani, the semi-retired co-founder of the trade magazine, has stepped in as interim publisher. Given the present economic climate, and with Interbike Reno just around the corner, this must feel like climbing out of a hot tub and into a piranha tank, wearing a pork-chop Speedo.

I’ve done bits of this, that and the other for Sani and the gang since 1992. Alas, the mag’ has dwindled, in tandem with the trade it covers, and so I do a good deal less of it now than I once did. In fact, I’m down to drawing the “Shop Talk” cartoon at the back of the book, period, end of story.

But that’s the carefree life of the independent contractor for you. Easy come, even easier go. Happily, I also contribute to Adventure Cyclist, and I married well, so we will not lack for kibble in the dish here at El Rancho Pendejo.

The remaining full-time BRAINiacs are not breathing so easily, especially after such a high-profile departure, with so much at stake.

So here’s hoping for better days. Maybe Marc will roll nothing but sevens in his old hometown next month.

 

It’s a long, long way down to Reno, Nevada

August 15, 2018

Thirty days and counting to Interbike.

I’ll be skipping the show this year. Adventure Cyclist expects slim pickings in the touring category, and BRAIN hasn’t paid my freight in forever, a cost-benefit calculation that keeps coming up snake eyes for Your Humble Narrator. In lean times the last thing you want is an ill-mannered, off-the-leash cur snarling at the customers as you try to keep the bank from taking the bike shop.

Le Shewe Bigge has shifted north from Las Vegas to Reno for 2018, and I can’t be the only person who finds it amusing that Interbike went there to get itself a divorce from Sin City. Still, I’m curious to see how it works out.

There’s much chin music about an ongoing “Reno-ssance,” the local spin on “gentrification,” which itself is the scenic route to “get those poor people out of sight, they’re scaring the tourists and playing hell with property values.” See Bibleburg, Duke City, et al.

For instance, in The Biggest Little City in the World one may enjoy a nifty Riverwalk District that skirts the Truckee, where the John Laws have been running off homeless campers, unfortunates who may be traveling by bicycle because they have to, not because it looks like fun.

Novelist and musician Willy Vlautin has written about people like these who seem to be missing out on the “Reno-ssance,” and so has Our Town Reno, a production of the Reynolds Media Lab, part of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada-Reno. They taught me a new word: “artwashing.”

It’s been years since I last visited Reno, en route to and/or from visits to friends in Northern California. It always felt like a rest stop between Here and There, not a destination in its own right. I’d camp at the Motel 6 West, and dine at some hippie joint down off Sierra, or maybe Virginia, I don’t remember. Vegetarian fare, heavy on the garlic to ward off the vampires.

Come morning I’d grab a cup of joe and a tank of gas and get the hell out of Dodge. Which, as it turns out, seems to be mostly what all these tourist traps want from us. Howdy, partner! Got any money? Keep moving.

Before long the last place in the country without a riverwalk, legal weed and a bespoke artisanal microbrewery will be Ash Fork, Arizona. You will not see Interbike in Ash Fork anytime soon, no matter how bad the bike biz gets.