Archive for the ‘VeloNews.com’ Category

Bring out your dead

October 31, 2018

That’ll be ninepence. And a happy Halloween to you.

Back to the future

October 13, 2017

Check the date: March 10, 1989. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

That’s the cover of the first VeloNews in which a cartoon by Your Humble Narrator appeared.

It practically goes without saying that it featured the Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter.

The Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter, v1.0.

How long ago was this? Well, President Ronald Reagan had just delivered his farewell address, Ted Bundy had taken his ride in Mr. Edison’s rocking chair, the last Soviet troops were leaving Afghanistan, and Eurosport was debuting in France.

The previous year, Felix Magowan, John Wilcockson and David Walls had acquired what was then called Velo-news from founders Barbara and Robert George.

After moving the operation to Boulder they declined to hire me as managing editor (a wise move). Time passed, as it will, and then in 2008 Inside Communications Inc. sold out to Competitor Group Inc. (not so wise in my opinion, but you know what they say about opinions).

Wilcockson — who would later get a ruthless, senseless and unceremonious heave-ho, along with Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey — wrote about the history and acquisition of Inside Communications here.

Il Fattini as he came to appear further on down the road.

As for me, I quit, was coaxed into returning, and then quit again, that last time for good.

But I always kept an eye on the joint, the way you sometimes bicycle past a ramshackle house you used to live in, shaking your head at the carelessness of the new owners.

And so did one member of that Original Trio — Magowan — who has repo’d the joint, with Pocket Outdoor Media partners Greg Thomas and Steve Maxwell.

Included in the sale are VeloPress, which just published Nick Legan’s “Gravel Cycling,” and the magazines Triathlete and Women’s Running, along with their digital counterparts.

“Despite the well-known challenges in print today, our team is thrilled to have the chance to rebuild these iconic titles as well as their sister digital operations,” Magowan told Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. “We have ambitious growth plans, and want to restore these brands to their historical industry leadership positions as quickly as possible.”

Here’s hoping Friday the 13th turns out to be a lucky day for Felix, The Trio v2.0, and for VeloNews (turn that number upside down just for luck, guys). Meanwhile, for anyone with the flashback blues, here’s John Prine.

Man at work

September 2, 2016
Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

Your Humble Narrator in the salad days, covering a race in Bibleburg.

While cranking out a column and cartoon to commemorate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the launching of the good ship Bicycle Retailer and Industry News back in 1992, it struck me that I was approaching a milestone of my own — as of today, I have been a full-time freelancer for 25 years.

That is not a typo.

After quitting my seventh and final newspaper gig, at The New Mexican up Santa Fe way, I raced the Record Challenge in Moriarty on Sunday, Sept. 1, 1991 (56:43 for 40km, a personal best), and the very next day I was up north in Bibleburg, trying to figure out how a burned-out newspaperman might pay for his bacon and beans.

I had three things going for me. One, I had been freelancing cartoons and light journalism to VeloNews since March 1989, and I began doing more of that, helping cover (now-defunct) races like La Vuelta de Bisbee, the Casper Classic, and the Cactus Cup, and lending a hand with copy-editing and production up in Boulder.

Two, Marc Sani at BRAIN wanted a comic strip for his brand-new industry magazine, and before long I was writing some stuff for him, too.

And three, Herself and I were living rent-free with my mom, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and required oversight. So we’re not exactly talking Hemingway-in-Paris here; we had a roof over our heads, three hots and a cot, and a small allowance for serving as live-in help while my sister managed Mom’s finances from Fort Collins.

At first I could and did work for anyone. But eventually the VeloNews and BRAIN gigs led to other work in the bike biz, and after a while that’s all I did. It’s hard to believe, but a guy could actually earn a semi-OK living scribbling for bicycle magazines, and eventually, bicycle websites. Who knew? Not me. Not until I had 15 years of newspapering under my belt, anyway.

Today I work for BRAIN and Adventure Cyclist, period. It’s not exactly heavy lifting. I get to make shit up for the one and play with other people’s toys for the other. I should be paying them, not the other way around.

You guys, of course, get the dubious benefits of 40 years’ experience for free. You’re welcome.

 

It makes a man’s eyes damp, for sure

December 12, 2012

At times one wonders how many of the online readers of VeloNews.com were the only children of overprotective hippie parents, Montessori grads, or home-schooled by feebs who think the Bible was written in American by dinosaur-riding Christian cowboys.

Velo’s annual awards issue names the Schleck brothers the International Disappointment of the Year and the comments section fairly overflows with tears on the Luxembourgers’ behalf. I’ll bet the Suits who pay their salaries are muttering, “You fuckin’ A,” along with more than a few of their teammates and maybe even their old man.

Some of these sensitive types who think the cycling press should focus only on sweetness and light should re-examine the last 15 years of uncritical paeans to various dope fiends for a refresher on just how well that worked out. They might also skim some of our mainstream sports coverage, in which underachieving, overpaid stars are routinely power-washed with ice-cold horseshit by fat fucks whose primary athletic achievement is getting out of bed in the morning without stroking out.

Hell, Andy Schleck would hang himself over the bidet by his pantyhose if his every utterance was “enhanced” by a comments section. You give me 20 percent of his 2012 salary for riding the pine and I’ll have 15 years’ worth of my hate mail tattooed on my body. There should be just enough room if we keep the text to 5.5 point, the size sports pages once used for results.

Tour de Frags

July 6, 2012

Sean Kelly, one of the hard men of the peloton when I was first becoming interested in the sport way back in the day, implies in a chat with the working press that this modern lot is a shower of eejits — and I’m not inclined to argue with him after watching stage six of Le Show Beeg, in which pretty much everybody save the Eurosport commentators, ASO management and Paddy McQuaid found themselves on the tarmac, in the ditch or inside an ambulance.

Sean Kelly back in the day, as photographed by <a href="http://www.corvospro.com/arimages.aspx">Cor Vos</a>

Sean Kelly back in the day, as photographed by Cor Vos

“These kinds of crashes happen, but you have to ask, how did it happen?” Kelly told my man Andrew Hood over to VeloNews.com. “Nobody wants to brake anymore. Everyone is pushing to be in the top 30 riders. Everybody is taking so many risks, and they will have crashes because of that.”

From your lips to God’s ear, Sean a chara. Today’s appalling clusterfuck on a narrow section of road, which left dozens of riders on the floor and sent several out of the Tour altogether, looked as though someone from the Spandex Liberation Army had set off a roadside bomb as the peloton rode past. Andy tallies up the body count here.

Some crashes can be blamed on course designers. Others can be chalked up to ineptitude (yes, pro cyclists fuck up just like we do, only at higher speed). I don’t know whom to pin this one on, other than upon the collective mindset that everyone — sprinters, wanna-bes, winless guys fretting over next year’s contract, GC men and their minders, and anyone in a Euskaltel-Euskadi jersey — just has to be at the front, all at the same time.

There isn’t enough room. Forget about UCI regulations —  it’s a violation of the laws of physics. You can’t squeeze a thousand pounds of Lycra through a garden hose. There’s gonna be an explosion. And we saw it today.

Editor’s note: Incidentally, in case you’re wondering where I am lately, I’m helping Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey with running commentary on the 2012 Tour over at Red Kite Prayer. Well, maybe “helping” isn’t quite the word we’re looking for here. “Hindering” may be more accurate. Whatever. I’m there, and you should be too. See you.

Thorazine is on my Xmas list

November 29, 2011
Miss Mia Sopaipilla views with alarm

"You said a bad word," says Mia. "And another. And another. And another. ..."

What’s been going on around here, you ask?

Well, let me think here for a minute. Hmm. …

We had the big Thanksgiving Day U-turn from Bibleburg to Fort Collins and back on Thursday; a full day of VeloNewsery plus dinner with our across-the-street neighbors Larry, Jill and Wendy on Friday; lunch with (and saying adios to) our wonderful next-door neighbor Judy on Saturday, with an extra-large side of work; and work work work on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, culminating in yet another dinner with friends tonight, a northern New Mexican project to which I tended between bouts of pixel-pushing for the Boulder boyos.

Whew. Long week for an old dog. And it ain’t over yet.

As you might imagine, something’s had to give around here, and that something is exercise. My ass is approaching critical mass, and I ain’t talking about the traffic-snarling bicycle parade, either.

I did sneak out for a 20-minute “run” this afternoon before putting the beans on the stove. Folks probably thought they were seeing a particularly ugly, sluggish zombie on the prowl.

And I probably managed to sweat off a couple of grams running around the kitchen, chopping, mincing, slicing, sautéing and stirring bits of this and that until in desperation, running out of time, I finally dialed down the menu from cheese enchiladas in green sauce with one side of beans in chipotle and another of red chile roasted potatoes to a bare-bones platter — bean burritos smothered in green with a side of the aforementioned spuds.

The bad news is, I probably put those lost grams right back on by going back for seconds. Plus pie. Did I mention pie? Oh, Lord.

Meanwhile, we will return to our regularly scheduled snark come Thursday, when I have a day off — and the weatherman is calling for wind-driven snow and a high in the 20s. I foresee much grumbling and the first stationary-trainer ride of the season, not necessarily in that order.

That was absurd, let’s eat dead bird

November 23, 2011
Mia and Turkish

Mia and Turkish watch as Buddy (not pictured) gets a grooming from Herself.

The mighty river of VeloNews finally slowed to a trickle today. I fired off an invoice to Corporate and slipped out for a short ride.

Several impatient motorists seemed in dire need of a brisk hosing down with a fire extinguisher full of tryptophan on this day before Thanksgiving. I tallied exactly 349,392 moving violations intended to kill me before abandoning the count.

Plenty of static violations, too, my favorite being the bulbous land yacht parked smack dab in the middle of the bike lane, right under the “No Parking In Bike Lane” sign. This appalling lack of reading comprehension is not encouraging to those of us who earn our meager livings from wielding the English language.

Oh, well. At least I got my big ass out in the late-November sunshine (this is not strictly accurate, of course; it was wearing bib shorts). Herself and I took the critters out for an airing, too. Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein, Miss Mia Sopaipilla and Banzai Buddy the Japanese Wonder Chin all scored themselves a little free vitamin D, which can be hard to come by this time of year.

That’s a little something to be thankful for in trying times when we 99 percenters hear the distant ring of carving knives clashing rhythmically against sharpening steels and wonder if we’re what’s for dinner.

And if that doesn’t get your drumstick throbbing, raise a glass to longtime Friend of the DogS(h)ite Boz, who notes in comments that he’s back to working for The Man.

From our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving.

Food for thought

November 22, 2011
1, 2, 3, 4. ...

Whose peppers? OUR peppers!

There may be an upside to working five days a week, in addition to the obvious (a heftier paycheck): I spend more time reading cycling news and less time reading real news.

That’s got to be good for the blood pressure.

For example, today I got up at 7, grabbed a cup of Joe, assumed the position before the iMac and began the process of rerouting the contents of my in-box toward the sprawling server farm in Spaminacanistan that hosts the VeloNews.com website. This took the better part of quite some time but upon reflection seems very little like working for a living when compared to covering the interminable GOP “debates.”

The day’s chores included rewriting a press release; editing, augmenting and posting a few Agence France Presse wire-service stories; uploading a couple tech pieces; editing and posting a half-dozen bits from staffers and contributors; finding art to illustrate all of this; changing the marquee pic; and putting the finishing touches on a weekly e-mail newsletter The Company sends out.

I also managed to communicate electronically with distant colleagues in San Diego, Boulder, Laguna Hills, Brussels and Leon, Spain, without once using the word “fuck,” which may be a first.

So I didn’t get around to noticing that our friends at Fox News had decreed pepper spray to be “a food product, essentially,” until pretty late in the day, as I was self-administering a mild sedative that the French supply in liquid form without a prescription.

Pepper spray. A “food product.”

Well, shit. Don’t tell her momma, but it appears that I stealth-sprayed Herself last night. Slipped four dried red New Mexican chile pods into the posole I whipped up for dinner.

She never knew what hit her, the little commie.

Chilly Bibleburg, hot Vuelta

September 4, 2011

After what seemed an eternity of hot, damp weather the furnace clicked on this morning.

“It’s not even Labor Day yet. Am I gonna have to start wearing pants already?” I thought as I pushed pixels for investment capitalists who think “velo” is the French for “EBITDA.”

Nope. I closed a couple windows and surrendered to the urge for socks, but the pants remain in the closet for now. Real Coloradans don’t pull on their trousers until the snow flies, and sometimes not even then.

The heat was on during today’s Vuelta stage, too. It always is when the peloton tackles the Angliru. Bradley Wiggins collapsed like a cheap clincher full of goatheads and Juanjo Cobo peeled the red shirt right off his back with a performance that some skeptical types quickly dubbed extraterrestrial.

Who knows? As many dipshit fools as there were lining the climb today, Cobo could have been getting Madison slings that entire last 5km. At least two motos went down in the melee, including the camera bike watching the GC group, and Eurosport’s house Limey was peeing his pants trying to get word of Wiggo’s whereabouts as Cobalt blew up the Vuelta.

Meanwhile, Boom-boom Boonen hit the deck again and broke his left hand, which probably means there will be one less Belgian at the worlds in Copenhagen. Dude must think some ex-girlfriend put the mojo on his ass. He’s spent more time on the tarmac lately than the entire Euskaltel-Euskadi team, guys who are spastics without peer on anything other than a solo flyer up a 28-percent grade.

I bet Boom-boom could fall into a barrel of tits and come out sucking his thumb. Only way he’s gonna see a rainbow anytime soon is if Monaco hosts a gay-pride parade.

The VeloHerd thins

August 1, 2011

It took a while for the word to filter down to the cycling press, but it seems that even a blind dog finds a Milk-Bone now and then — Bicycle Retailer and Industry News reports today that John Wilcockson and Charles Pelkey both got the heave-ho last week from Velo (formerly VeloNews) and VeloNews.com. They followed Velo editor in chief Ben Delaney out the door shortly after the 2011 Tour de France wrapped. Ben was not pushed; he jumped.

I’m not a staffer with Velo or VeloNews.com; never have been. I’m a free-lancer — an “independent contractor,” in the parlance of our times — and my contract with San Diego-based Competitor Group Inc., now the owner of Velo, VeloNews.com and a number of other publications and events, bars me from discussing any “confidential information” that I may come across in the course of doing my little bit of business with the company.

Given that the information about the sacking of John and Charles has become generally known — throughout the industry, anyway, via BRAIN, for whom I also perform my one-ring circus act  — I no longer feel compelled to refrain from discussing it, albeit with some circumspection. Like John, Charles and Ben, I have bills to pay.

John has covered more than 40 Tours and Christ only knows how many other races in his years with VeloNews and other publications. He is a walking, talking VeloHistory book, so crucial to the chronicling of the sport that I even forgive him for having been born a Limey instead of an Irishman. He and the original Trio — the other two being David Walls and Felix Magowan — hired me as a cartoonist in ’89, and the work that they and editor Tim Johnson kicked my way when I quit my last newspaper job in 1991 helped keep food on the table, beer in the fridge and the wolf from the door.

Charles, in his 17 years with the company, not only covered a ton of races, he became a respected authority on cycling’s governance, the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs and the arcane testing/appeals process. He wrote a popular online column, “The Explainer,” and assembled a worldwide audience of devoted fans who attended his live updates from the Tour and other events as if they were papal addresses from St. Peter’s Square.

The silly sod also routinely got up at 3 a.m. to post cycling news from Europe. You might get me up at that hour to face a firing squad, but probably not. “Fuck it, just shoot me here. Bring me a cup of coffee first. And a newspaper. And Elle MacPherson. Not necessarily in that order.”

Charles and are old pals who tag-teamed the VeloNews.com op’ for a lot of years, and I always worked the late shift, because I was not born a German and have no children to interrupt my sleep. Being old newspaper guys, we have the sort of professional relationship that lets us shout “Fuck you!” at each other without anyone’s feelings getting permanently hurt.

I’d say we’ll miss these guys, but that seems kind of obvious.