Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

The corral-based lifestyle

May 14, 2020

As long as we’re checking in with old compañeros, say howdy to my man Hal Walter.

Hal is Bug-bound up to Weirdcliffe, in Crusty County, Colo., where he’s helping his son finish his sophomore year in high school; trying to cobble together something approximating a living (he doesn’t call his blog “Hardscrabble Times” as a party gag); and pondering the cancellation of the marquee events on this year’s burro-racing calendar.

“You know, these are weird times,” he says in the video up top. “I’ve been in the sport of pack-burro racing for 40 years, and the idea that we wouldn’t … have a season is just unbelievable to me. The important thing, I think, is for us all to stay connected — stay connected to our animals, the earth, and the sky.”

Social distancing isn’t much of an adjustment for guys like Hal and me. We’ve been home-based scribes for hire since forever (some days it seems so, anyway). And we weren’t all that cuddly when we had reg’lar newspaper jobs. Ask anyone.

But The Bug® is out to bite us all in some tender place, no matter what we do or where we do it. The sumbitch got Hal and his burro-racing buddies right in the ass. So, like the rest of us, he’s just trying to keep himself plugged in and plugging along, putting one foot in front of the other.

You can download a free copy of Hal’s latest e-book, “American Flats,” at “Hardscrabble Times.”


June 17, 2016
Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

My man Hal “Mr. Awesome” Walter, who races burros and raises an autistic son, is the subject of a profile over to, just in time for Father’s Day.

You might think that managing what Hal prefers to call a “neurodiverse” child would be heavy lifting. But like burro racing, it has more to do with endurance, which just happens to be the title of a newish short book the man is hawking between his other chores.

Like father, like son: Young Harrison has his very own burro circa 2005.

Like father, like son: Young Harrison has his very own burro circa 2005.

Hal and I first met back in the Eighties on the copy desk of The Pueblo Chieftain, where we also dealt with varying degrees of neurodiversity and as a consequence enhanced our capacities to endure just about anything.

I went on to become an extraordinarily prosaic amateur cyclist while professionally lampooning leg-shavers, dope fiends, and leg-shaving dope fiends, while Hal became a world-champion pack-burro racer and author.

But we’ve remained friends despite our class differences, and thus I recommend that you read the profile and buy the book.

Out on a limb

February 8, 2016
It was pleasant enough by afternoon to ride with knee warmers, but it ain't spring yet.

It was pleasant enough by afternoon to ride with knee warmers, but it ain’t spring yet.

We just can’t seem to get in step with mainstream America lately.

The interminable “feets ball” season came to a conclusion yesterday in San Francisco, but we did not watch, as we do not care for the “feets ball,” not even if Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson are performing “Uptown Funk” at halftime. The poor sonsabitches are doomed to do that number for the rest of their lives, or at least until their first hip replacements.

No, instead we watched “Saturday Night Live” a day late, so Herself could catch Comrade Sanders serving up his patented Kamchatka Fried Chicken (“Left Wings Only!”) to the kool kidz in the key white/50+ demographic.

Larry David was hosting, and did his spot-on Sanders impersonation, but the only real laugh-out-loud bits were his monologue and the closer about two rummies (David and Kate McKinnon) deep into the mating ritual at closing time in a bar.

OK, that’s not true. The musical guests, The 1975, were pretty funny, too. But I don’t think they had intended to be.


November 30, 2015
'Tis a bitter pill indeed.

‘Tis a bitter pill indeed.

It’s Monday, and my social-media feeds, as usual, are full of football.

Frankly, I’ve never understood how the rabidly antidoping cycling crowd can go so gaga over the NFL. It’s an inconsistency that I find amusing, like listening to a vegan extol the pleasures of watching a good cockfight on Sunday afternoon.

Apple, Samsung and Hanes

February 2, 2015
What director Quentin Ferrentino sees just before the iMac hiccups, stutters and croaks.

What director Quentin Ferrentino sees just before the iMac hiccups, stutters and croaks.

Is the Super Bowl finally over? No, I see we’re still second-guessing coaches, lip-syncing sharks and that crucial, botched call — Nationwide’s decision to run that dead-kid ad instead of throwing it into the trash.

We didn’t watch any of it here at Rancho Pendejo, not even the ads. Herself was on a mission from God to clean up the joint, and I was doing a job of work, hammering away at a video review of the Novara Mazama for Adventure Cyclist and trying to troubleshoot ongoing technical glitches with the old iMac.

At 6 years of age, this ‘puter may be nearing the end of its useful existence, though a 15-year-old G3 “Pismo” PowerBook is still ticking right along with all its original equipment. Not so the iMac. Its optical drive croaked a while back, and ever since I “upgraded” to Mavericks I’ve been enjoying occasional and inexplicable freezes that force me into an irksome hard reset that occasionally costs me a bit of work. Kindly old Doc Google tells me I’m not alone in my suffering, and this is one of the reasons I’m dragging my feet on the Yosemite and iOS 8 upgrades.

Last night after a weirdo crash that left both monitors black, but with a moveable cursor, I booted into Safe Mode, which runs a few diagnostics, then said fuck it and booted again, this time into the Recovery HD, and ran Disk Utility.

The hard drive “appears to be OK,” says DU, so I repaired permissions and called it good. This morning nothing was on fire or defunct, which is better.

Now if Samsung will get around to installing a new drain pump in our 5-month-old washing machine, we’ll really have it going on. The goddamn thing has been on the sidelines for a week and I need to upgrade my undies to something a little, um, fresher.


Wide world of sports

April 7, 2014
The scene out the front door this morning. All gone now.

The scene out the front door this morning. All gone now.

“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity,” wrote Robert A. Heinlein, who may have been anticipating the Darwin Awards. And it seems we have a couple early contenders this year.

The first is a woman spectator at Sunday’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, who was standing on a traffic island when for reason(s) unknown Johan Vansummeren T-boned her at speed. Vansummeren came away with a black eye, some stitches and a case of mental anguish, but the spectator was said to be in an induced coma after a couple of surgeries to address a brain trauma.

My takeaway from the incident is, never stand anyplace where a 6-foot-6, 168-pound Belgian can knock you out of your shoes and into a hospital.

The second is the videographer who was theoretically in charge of a drone that injured a competitor just meters short of the finish line at the Geraldton Endure Batavia triathlon in western Australia. Dude says someone took control of his toy — apparently it could have been anyone with a smartphone, which hardly narrows the field of suspects — and it didn’t really hit her anyway, so there. Apparently this was a surgical strike, as stitches were required to close the victim’s head wound.

The lesson here is that smartphones and dumb people make a hazardous combination. Not exactly news.

In unrelated news, this morning it was snowing heavily until suddenly it wasn’t. Tomorrow, 65 and sunny. They don’t make jerseys with pockets big enough to carry all the shit a guy needs for an April ride, like Belgian repellent and a handheld surface-to-air missile.


A great day to be a Hobo

January 19, 2014
The Bootleg Hobo and I visited one of my former neighborhoods south of downtown today.

The Bootleg Hobo and I visited one of my former neighborhoods south of downtown today. Turns out my former $75-per-month squat on Mill Street is for sale.

It’s easy to forget how many people ride bikes in this town until we get a sunny, 60-something day in January.

I slipped out for a 90-minute ride at midday and Holy Mary, Mother of God, you’d have thought we’d hit Peak Oil and left it bleeding out at roadside. Everybody and his grandma, from itty-bitty kids to grizzled graybeards, was gaily flogging a two-wheeler from Hither to Yon, no doubt hoping to burn a few calories before ingesting many, many more during the Broncos-Patriots feetsball game.

Despite a short stint as an assistant sports editor at The New Mexican in Santa Fe, I am not a fan of the feetsball, which is the polite way of saying that I don’t give two runny shits about a multibillion-dollar industry that temporarily shifts Americans’ homicidal instincts away from actual warfare and toward commerce by encouraging young gladiators to mutate their bodies with drugs and scramble their brains with high-speed collisions.

Cycling has its own issues in that regard, of course. But not the way I do it.

And at least you can watch televised pro cycling for more than 15 commercial-free seconds at a stretch (on a pirated Belgian feed, anyway). That’s how I spent my morning before throwing a leg over the Bootleg Hobo’s top tube. Plus you can be pretty certain the Organization is selling (and the spectators drinking) a higher-quality beer.

Soccer to me

December 6, 2013

RFD-Logo-12062013I’ve put my foot in it again — this time, the target is a pro soccer franchise that needs a million-dollar kiss on the lips before it will screw the sports fans here in Bibleburg.

Yes, yes, yes — it’s your Finally Friday installment of Radio Free Dogpatch.

• Editor’s note: I’m in the process of moving Radio Free Dogpatch from its home at the old Mad Dog website to the podcast host Libsyn. Once the transition is complete, if you’re interested — as I appear to be, for no justifiable reason — you should be able to subscribe to RFD via iTunes. I think. I hope. I’ll keep you posted.

Torch song, scored for tuba

July 26, 2013

This is from The Onion, right?

I had an Olympic movement once, but it never made the paper. Unless Charmin counts.


July 25, 2013
uisce beatha

There stands the glass. …

Outrage repeated ad infinitum is like an overlong intervals session. At some point you come up off the saddle and then sit right back down.

I’m not even in the saddle for the news about Stuart O’Grady and the rest of them from 1998. I’m back at the house, with the bike on its hook, and looking longingly at that unopened bottle of Bushmills in the kitchen. My performance-enhancer of choice for longer than I care to remember, even if I could.

So, instead of me struggling to gin up an anemic burstlet of apoplexy, how ’bout we take a trip down memory lane to August 2007, when “Friday’s Foaming Rant” still bestrode the narrow cycling world like a Colossus?