Archive for the ‘Tour de France’ Category

Recycled 4: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

December 29, 2017

• Editor’s note: Since my Bicycle Retailer and Industry News column won’t survive into the New Year, I’ve decided to resurrect a six-pack’s worth of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” screeds between now and then. This is round four, a little attaboy to my old Live Update Guy comrade Charles Pelkey, who is alive and well in Laramie and contemplating a comeback in 2018.

Johnny and Ed (Hey-o!) decided the show must not go on for 2017.

LUGging out: Live Update Guys were DNS for Tour

“He shook his head, and as he shook his head, I heard someone ask him, ‘Please, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles … dance.”—Jerry Jeff Walker, “Mr. Bojangles”

By Patrick O’Grady

This July marked the first time in years that I haven’t been required to follow the Tour de France.

So I didn’t. And it was swell.

Well, mostly.

I’ve spent nearly three decades paddling my little canoe along the bright yellow revenue stream of the Tour without ever having to visit its source in France, which I hear is quite a drive from Albuquerque, even in a Subaru.

The Tour got me into bicycle racing in the Eighties, and bicycle racing got me out of the newspaper business in the Nineties, before The Suits declared open season on copy editors.

Fight or flight? Flight, I thought as I hit the door running, and when does the beverage cart come around? Make mine a double. Anybody who thinks a pan-flat, 200km sprinters’ stage in the Tour is dull never edited a school-board story at 10:30 p.m., when sensible people are already half in the bag.

But even the Tour loses its kick after a while. And so, after Charles Pelkey and I agreed to leave his Live Update Guy project parked for 2017, I celebrated by stuffing part of a bike and all of my left hand into a trailside cholla.

Funny money. Of all the things I’ve done for money, Live Update Guy scores way up there on the fun meter.

This odd little enterprise came about in “Let’s put on a show!” fashion, a la Busby Berkeley’s “Babes in Arms.” Or maybe Monty Python’s “The Crimson Permanent Assurance” would be closer to the mark.

Charles had been handling live updates and other chores for a Boulder-based cycling enterprise until he got a pink slip and a black diagnosis more or less simultaneously in 2011, two days after the Tour wrapped.

The one-two punch of unemployment and breast cancer couldn’t keep him down, though. He put his University of Wyoming law degree to work full time, eventually becoming a co-founder of the Laramie firm Neubauer, Pelkey and Goldfinger, LLP.

But Charles still enjoyed following pro cycling, and while undergoing chemotherapy he hung out another shingle, LiveUpdateGuy.com, and called the 2011 Vuelta a España—supported not by advertising, or vulture capitalists, but by his readership.

Like Mr. Bojangles, Charles was dancing for tips.

Hey-o! I joined the show in 2012, but Charles was the star, and rightly so.

For starters, he had actually been to all three grand tours, performing feats of journalism. In this new role, he arose at stupid-thirty for the start of nearly every stage of nearly every GT, and generally carried on till the bitter end, then popped back in later to add results for the data-obsessed.

I generally clocked in late to make fart noises, get things wrong, and make people crazy. In other words, same as I do here.

This has its limits, as you know. If Charles had lawyering to do and left the keys to the joint with me, eyeballs and donations dropped off accordingly. Nobody turned on the “The Tonight Show” to watch Ed McMahon. They wanted Johnny.

Spare change? We said LUG operated on the NPR model—light on commercials, heavy on beggary—but it was more like busking next to an upturned hat on a downtown sidewalk.

When the act was good, we got paid. Not so good, not so paid. It was an astoundingly libertarian business model for two old commies, though there was a Marxist overlay; we didn’t bounce anyone who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

We got a big assist from the audience, which included an actual monsignor at the actual Vatican who proved a prodigious daily essayist; a generous East Coast equestrian with a crush on Peter Sagan; and a poet laureate who affected the guise of a herring-mad penguin.

“I’d say that some of my favorite memories involve the family that we created out of that site,” said Charles. “They are a wonderful group of people. It’s been a privilege to get to know a lot of them.”

It’s … Monty Liggett. When action was slow on the road, LUG served up running gags (Monty Python and various Liggettisms were in heavy rotation).

So, too, were clubby and impenetrable acronyms like HWSNBN (“He Who Shall Not Be Named,” for a certain Texan), and NRRBBB (“Non-Race-Related Blah-Blah-Blah”), in which some critics argued we indulged too freely.

But when you have the effrontery to provide live commentary on a grand tour from start to finish, and from the wrong side of the pond, with few resources beyond unreliable video feeds and your equally dubious wits, it’s hard not to tumble into the ditch of digression now and then.

Some days trying to keep it between the ditches felt an awful lot like work. So, with Charles now a legislator as well as a lawyer—he won election to the state legislature in 2015—and me wanting to ride a bike in the early morning before the Duke City desert starts to smoke, it seemed wise to take a break this time around.

Maybe not, though. Because if we had been calling the Tour, safe in the ever-lovin’ arms of the LUG Nuts, I might not have stuck my hand into that damn’ cactus.

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the Aug. 1, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Ice, ice, baby

June 29, 2017

I’ve shot this road before. It drops from near the Michial Emery trailhead to the Tramway bike path.

I’ve been preparing for this year’s (Not the) Tour de France with a series of short rides.

Trail 366, which leads to the Elena Gallegos picnic area.

This is a refreshing change of pace from the usual mad dash to figure out who’s who, and what’s what, and how in bloody ‘ell can I help Charles Pelkey make three weeks in July funny just one more time, please, God and Baby Jesus!

Whoof. ‘Scuse me, got carried away there.

Anyway, short rides, as I said. On road and off. Nine-speed drop-bar bikes and bar-end shifters, because that’s how I roll.

Work reared its ugly head today, but I punched it right between the horns and went for a damn’ ride.

This is probably why our refrigerator committed suicide. It thought I had lost my work ethic and it couldn’t face a world in which it was not filled to the gunwales with lean pork products, fresh vegetables and ice cream.

I went straight down to Home Depot and ordered up a replacement. And tomorrow I’m going on another damn’ ride.

• Late update: I forgot to mention that yesterday was Wild Kingdom Day. In just under two hours on the bike I saw one deer, one coyote and a metric shit-ton of quail. What’s with the quail this year? And nary a buzzworm so far this summer. ‘Course, now that I’ve said that, I’ll probably have to bunny-hop one today.

It’s over!

June 23, 2017

Go home, Fatso, you’re drunk.

Following in the tricksy footsteps of sneaky newsmakers everywhere, we hereby present your Friday Bad News Dump:

Live Update Guy will not be calling this year’s Tour de France.

LUG-in-Chief Charles Pelkey and I have mulled it over a time or two — should we stay or should we go? — and the simple truth of it is we’re both busy and tired and three weeks of following Le Tour would leave us only more so on both fronts.

There’s a chance we might pop up guerrilla-style to do an epic mountain stage, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

It’s been fun, and p’raps some day it will be fun again. Maybe when the robots take over.

Ventouxstep

July 14, 2016
Froomey, this is not cyclocross. This is the Tour. There are rules.

Froomey, this is not cyclocross. This is the Tour. There are rules.

Well, you can’t say this has been a dull Tour de France. Not when the maillot jaune is legging it up Ventoux in road cleats before being awarded a tiny yellow bike by Mavic neutral support.

There should be plenty to talk about (for a change) during tomorrow’s 37.5km individual time trial from Bourg-Saint-Andéol to La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc. I wouldn’t expect a lot of “There goes another rider. And another one. Aaannnnnd another one.”

Unfortunately, at least some of the chatter will be about what at the moment appears to be a terrorist attack in Nice. The evildoers don’t need box cutters and hijacked airliners any more. It seems a truck will do.

Wreck on the highway

July 2, 2016
Say hi to Sam Hillborne.

Say hi to Sam Hillborne.

The first day of what appears to be a very long Tour de France is in the bag. Thanks to everyone who joined us at Live Update Guy. And chapeau to Mark Cavendish, who avoided a last-kilometer pileup — one of several on the day — to win the stage and take his first yellow jersey.

Too, a special “ow, wow, yow, zow” goes out to everyone who hit the deck on Stage 1. The body count would seem to include — well, just about everyone except for Cav’, me and Charles Pelkey (office furniture and road furniture rarely become entangled).

Alberto Contador in particular looked like he’d been attacked by a deranged chef with an assault cheese grater. One wonders whether he’ll have to be strapped onto his bike, El Cid-style, in order to start Sunday’s stage.

I wasn’t strapped to a damn thing when I rolled out for my own ride, aboard a brand-spankin’-new Rivendell Sam Hillborne (see pic above). No clipless pedals on that bad boy, not even toeclips and straps — just flats. So I rode in street shoes, baggies, an emblem-free Pearl Izumi jersey and a Rivendell cap unencumbered by helmet, just to make the Safety Nazis crazy. Took ‘er out on the highway, too.

I wish I could change this sad story that I am now telling you. But there is no way I can change it. For somebody’s ride is now through.

Vuelta a Voodoo

July 1, 2016
No, this isn't deep in the Amazonian jungle. This is Trail 341, just west of the non-bikeable wilderness.

No, this isn’t deep in the Amazonian jungle. This is Trail 341, just west of the non-bikeable wilderness.

The first ride of July is in the bag — 90 minutes on the trails surrounding the Elena Gallegos Open Space — and now I will shun the singletrack until the Fourth of July weekend is over. From now until Tuesday morning the trails will look like the aisles at Interbike on day one.

I was rocking the old Voodoo Nakisi with slightly overinflated tires to avoid pinch flats and rolls (I really need wider rims) and despite my best efforts managed to (a) keep the rubber side down, and (2) avoid centerpunching a small flock of early-bird weekenders.

Tomorrow Counselor Pelkey and I commence coverage of Le Tour over to Live Update Guy. We struggled mightily with the notion of cranking up the NRRBBB® Machine again — frankly, I was advocating a LUG-free July — but in the end we decided to bite that big yellow bullet and see if it blows our heads off. See you there.

The (Tip) Jarring Truth

May 9, 2016

Sartorial Sunday

July 26, 2015
The old Old Guy kit. My new jersey, as the fella says, is in the mail.

The old Old Guy kit. My new jersey, as the fella says, is in the mail.

Got your Old Guy jersey yet? Me neither. But then I screwed up and ordered a jersey plus some bibs that turned out to be out of stock, so mine didn’t ship until Saturday.

Give us a holler when your kit arrives and tell us whether it meets your expectations, and in particular whether it fits as intended. Include a pic if you dare. Don’t worry, we won’t show it to anyone. You can trust us. We’re in the media.

Meanwhile, that little race around Frogland is finally over and done with, which means that tomorrow I can wake up without fretting about how I’m going to be funny before coffee. Thanks to Other Pat for joining us at Live Update Guy during the Tour, and for offering up a couple of pint glasses to help us keep the Tip Jar filled.

It’s hard to believe, but the end of the Tour — for me, anyway — means that the year is on the big downhill slide. La Vuelta starts August 22, and three days after that wraps Interbike kicks off in Las Vegas. Then Bicycle Retailer and Industry News goes back to once-a-month publication, and before you know it, boom! Cyclocross season.

Better start running, y’all. It may be in the 90s now, but before you know it the snow will be flying.

 

Son of Return to Beyond the Valley of Fashion Friday

July 10, 2015

coming-soonAnybody still hanging around here? Hello? (Thump thump thump.) This thing on?

It’s been a wee bit hectic around El Rancho Pendejo since last we chatted.

Le Tour started, and Le Tourists promptly started crashing right the hell out of it.

The mom-in-law popped round from Tennessee.

Deadlines for Adventure Cyclist and Bicycle Retailer arrived and departed, bearing full payloads of merde.

And poor Mister Boo surrendered 10 teeth to the doggie dentist. He is taking his nourishment in gruel form for the next two weeks and I fear for his digestive tract. Also, our brick floors.

But now, the good news: The Old Guys Who Get Fat In Winter jersey shop should be up and running sometime next week at Voler.

Once I get the green light, I’ll announce it here and add a permanent link to the online store at upper right, in the sidebar. Then I’ll just lean back in this titanium-and-carbon La-Z-Boy with a flagon of 2003 Domaine de la Romanèe Conti in one hand and a snifter of cocaine in the other and wait for the money to start rolling in. I’ve already ordered up a sixpack of courtesans, and they ain’t in business for laughs, y’know.

LUGgers, start your keyboards

July 3, 2015
The Phantom of the Opera? Naw, just some bald-headed Irish-American unemployable trying to stave off honest work as usual.

The Phantom of the Opera? Naw, just some bald-headed Irish-American unemployable trying to stave off honest work as usual.

The Tour de France starts tomorrow with a 13.8km individual time trial in Utrecht, Netherlands, and Live Update Guy will be there.

Well, not “there” so much as here (Duke City, New Mexico, where Your Humble Narrator whiles away the hours), although there will be some “there” there (mostly Laramie, Wyoming, where Charles Pelkey hangs out his shingle). And there’s MOTS in France, Mons at the Vatican, Larry in Italy, Mbugua in Kenya, Dave in Afghanistan. …

In these days of live streaming video and up-to-the-nanosecond social media it seems odd that a text-based live update like ours still attracts an audience. Still, some folks seem to like it, and we enjoy doing it, so there you have it.

It’s kind of like hanging around a neighborhood sports bar where the innkeeper is always happy to change the channel from golf to cycling, and he never cuts you off and/or throws you out.

So pop on by and say howdy when Le Shew Bigge kicks off tomorrow. It’s a time trial, for god’s sake. We’ll need all the Non-Race-Related Blah-Blah-Blah™ we can drum up.