Archive for the ‘Tour de France’ Category

Water under the bridge

July 27, 2019

This bridge over the Albuquerque Riverside Drain is just off the Paseo del Bosque bike trail south of Interstate 40.

There was a little water running on Thursday’s 66km ride down to the bosque and back, so I could feel the Tour’s pain when Friday’s stage got its icy wings clipped and today’s was likewise heavily edited, basically dialed down to a 33km, mass-start uphill time trial.

“See, Frenchy, if you keep your water in ditches it won’t make a mess of your bike races.”

Here in ’Merica, happily, we restrict our water to ditches so that it does not interfere with our bikey rideys. Because freedom.

Also, moreover, furthermore, and too, we have air conditioning to take the edge off those 110° days.

The “monsoons” are in session here at the moment, and so far the precip’ has been arriving around dinnertime, which is nearly as good as keeping it in ditches. Open the doors and windows and let the fresh air in.

Meanwhile, somebody else threw the doors open and then bolted right on through. Congress just beat feet for a six-week recess. And “recess” seems just the word for this cluster of kindergartners, though the exodus leaves the biggest toddler of them without any supervision, however childish.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “For Sale” sign pop up outside the White House.

Whoops. Too late.

This just in from Le Tour

July 26, 2019

I bet Katie Compton would’ve finished this stage.

Gravel is no longer a Thing®. Pass it on.

So 15 minutes ago? How about 85 years?

July 18, 2019

Don’t let the clouds fool you. That’s steam boiling off my bald noggin.

Seventy-one at 5 a.m. No, not me, the temperature.

And that’s outside, mind you. In the office, it’s 78.

We have at least three days of the roast-a-rama ahead, so it’s ride early or not at all. Hunker down in the air conditioning like we did as kids at Randolph AFB outside San Antone. You were either marinating in poisons and pee at the O-club pool or camped out in front of the Fedders window unit, playing Monopoly. Venture outside and you’d sink into the tarry streets like a dinosaur at La Brea, later to mystify alien archaeologists.

The God of the Tar People, discovered when a skeleton was unearthed by Vulcan archaeologists sometime in the distant future. Historical note: Like many a cartoonist, F.O. Alexander got stiffed for his work drawing characters for Monopoly.

“Chlorine must have been an essential nutrient for these semiaquatic creatures. And their god appears to have been this fellow with the archaic headgear and outlandish facial hair, who seems possessed of astonishing wealth.”

The Masi Speciale Randonneur review for Adventure Cyclist has been shipped, as has the August cartoon for Bicycle Retailer. I’m been thinking not very hard about an episode of Radio Free Dogpatch, but it seems podcasts are so 15 minutes ago, just like blogs. Or phrases like “so 15 minutes ago.”

In other news, Ginger Hitler has taken his song-and-dance routine to another Nuremberg rally, where he debuted a new three-syllable chant (he’s a man of few words, which is to say he only knows a few). A new low? Not for long, according to Kevin Drum at MoJo.

And finally, Le Shew Bigge is heading into the Pyrenees, just in time for Zoom-Zoom Froome — who is absent while recovering from a nasty pre-Tour get-off — to be named champion of the 2011 Vuelta a España after Juan José Cobo rang the Dope-O-Meter®.

Yes, that’s 2011. We’re not all the way back to 1934 yet, but we certainly seem headed in that direction.

 

Roof roof roof

July 15, 2019

Behind the garage the sun is working its leisurely way up the east side of the Sandias.

Otro día, otro dolár.

Bicycle Retailer wants a cartoon, and Adventure Cyclist wants reviews. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. All is well, save for … well, you know.

Swear to God, this pendejo is gonna start strolling around with his little orange dingus hanging out, because why not?

Now, the Secret Service doesn’t have anything to fear from me, because I am renowned as a man of peace. But if some itty bitty brown woman with an interest in MMA were to start slapping all the rabies out of Orange Julius Caesar on CNN at prime time, well, I’d probably watch.

Speaking of spectacles, I am not watching Le Tour, though I check in from time to time via Cyclingnews or The Guardian. However, friends are over in Frogland for a closer look at La Grande Boucle.

One couple recently relocated from ’Burque  to Lyon, which enjoyed a ride-by during stage eight, from Mâcon to Saint-Étienne. Another is just visiting, but I forget which stage they get to see. One more than me, I expect.

As far as I know, neither couple is motoring around in a Citroën 2CV. But they could be.

Phil ’er up

July 6, 2019

Another blast from the past.

Here we go again (crash, bang, shriek, ow, wow, yow, zow). …

Thousands are sailing

December 8, 2018

Hm, we seem to be on something of an Irish-music kick here.

They’re sailing in the other direction these days, at least some of them. Zio Lorenzo and The Professor are settled in Italy and not missing Sioux City one iota, unless I miss my guess.

And now our friends Mike and Liz are bidding adieu and relocating to Lyon, France.

We had them over for green-chile stew last night and caught up. They’ve bought an apartment there, the house here is for sale, and come springtime they will be well positioned to observe Le Tour in its native habitat. Stage 8 will be right in their backyard, or arrière-cour, as we say in le français.

Novelist and poet Jim Harrison thought highly enough of Lyon to write, “If I were given the dreary six months to live, I’d head at once to Lyon and make my way from bistro to bistro in a big stroller pushed by a vegetarian.”

The place suffers from a dearth of New Mexican-style green-chile stew, however, and thus we were compelled to revive them after the house-hunting excursion. We couldn’t find a vegetarian with a two-seater stroller to push them home, though.

The return of O.T.B. Jacques

July 19, 2018

A blast from the past — specifically, from the 1995 Tour. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. …

It’s a long hard road, to be sure. Especially when you’re sliding along it through clusters of howling drunkards and clouds of noxious smoke while wearing a thimbleful of Lycra. This shit keeps up and they’ll be awarding the final yellow jersey to a moto driver, a journo’ or Bernard Hinault.

 

A winner

March 3, 2018

I got your kiss right here, Dopey.

No podium girls? What about podium puppies? Everybody loves puppies.

Hey, maybe they could double as drug-sniffing dogs. As long as we’re making changes, I figure the Sky’s the limit.

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.