Posts Tagged ‘Adventure Cyclist’

Monsoon season

April 25, 2017

My bucket runneth over.

It rained all day, which is a good thing, and not just because we live in a desert, either.

Nope, I had things to do, and still have, among them a column and cartoon for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and a bicycle review for Adventure Cyclist.

Thus it was best that I be confined to quarters and required to pay attention.

Elsewhere, the deluge — no, not the rain, but the shit monsoon that is the reign of King Donald the Short-fingered — continues unabated. His family crest should be a tiny hand stirring a golden toilet with the motto, “L’merde, c’est moi.”

So we’ll ignore that fool and link instead to an interesting read from Cormac McCarthy on the unconscious and its distrust of language. Hardly anyone gets killed horribly in it, but I’ll tell you, he makes me feel like a haunted house.

R.I.P., Mike Deme

March 30, 2017

I always snickered at the mugshot Mike Deme used when he was still in the editor’s chair at Adventure Cyclist. He always looks like, “Goddamnit, are we gonna have some fun here or what?”

My friend and colleague Mike Deme has gone west. He was 51.

Mike devoted nearly a quarter-century to the Adventure Cycling Association, winding up his tour of duty as director of design and media.

We may have first connected when he was editor of The Cyclists’ Yellow Pages — Lord, that would have been a very long time ago — but we had our first real professional how-d’ye-dos in 2009, when he emailed in his capacity as editor of Adventure Cyclist to ask:

“Ever do any touring? It’d be great to get an O’Grady story in Adventure Cyclist. Any interest?”

I confessed that I had never toured, so Mike wangled me a slot in the ACA’s 2010 Southern Arizona Road Adventure as something of a test drive. I wrote that up, and nobody threatened legal action, so next Mike shanghaied me into writing reviews of touring bikes despite another protestation of blithering and disqualifying ignorance. The rest you mostly know, because I’m still at it.

Listen you, enjoy your time,

you really don’t have very long.

You were born just a moment ago,

in another moment you’ll be gone.

—Wang Fan-chih, the Buddhist Layman, in “Cold Mountain Poems: Zen Poems of Han Shan, Shih Te, and Wang Fan-chih,” edited and translated by J.P. Seaton

Working with Mike and the rest of the Adventure Cyclist crew proved a welcome change from pretending to care about bicycle racing for VeloNews and pretending to write about the industry for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Basically, Mike yanked my cycling head out of my racing ass, reminded me that it’s not all about counting grams, going fast and cutting corners.

We tackled a bunch of Interbikes together, along with a couple of North American Handmade Bicycle Shows, and keeping pace with Mike was always a tough hustle. Short and stout, he never meandered, but always marched, to the beat of his own running commentary. There was work to be done, and a booth to staff, and liquor to drink come quitting time.

And the man was funny. On our separate ways home from NAHBS in North Carolina we texted briefly about the joys of airport travel. When I noted that I’d dodged a cavity search at the Charlotte airport Mike replied: “That place was easy. I’m in Detroit drinking a Miller Fortune. All I can say is we really needed High Life in another package with a bit of Malt Liquor Bull added to it.”

This was his professional opinion, mind you. When Mike wasn’t overseeing the magazine, golfing, or touring, he tended bar in Missoula.

He was gruff and abrupt, liked all the right music and disliked all the right people, and I never had to pester him about money. Ask any freelancer how rare a bird that is. Practically extinct, is what.

I’m sad that he’s gone, and that I never got to ride with him. All the wrong people are shoving off lately.

• Late addendum: The ACA bids farewell to Mike.

Stormy mental weather

February 28, 2017
Looks like I guessed wrong, weather-wise: I ran yesterday, which turned out to be an OK day for cycling. Today, however. ...

Looks like I guessed wrong, weather-wise: I ran yesterday, which turned out to be an OK day for cycling. Today, however. …

I’m not very interested in what I have to say lately.

There’s just something about February. It’s a short month, but marks the start of every-other-week columns and cartoons for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Too, the weather is often inhospitable, which can be a problem when shooting video for Adventure Cyclist.

And every so often we find ourselves adjusting to a New World Ordure, which can be irksome.

So, yeah. Apologies, but I’ve been taking a few continuing-education courses at good ol’ STFU.

While in residence I read a 1955 interview with James Thurber in The Paris Review. Thurber — an FBI target dubbed “prematurely anti-fascist” by Red-hunters — was discussing what he called “this fear and hysteria” of that period in American history and how it was affecting his writing:

“It’s hard to write humor in the mental weather we’ve had, and that’s likely to take you into reminiscence. Your heart isn’t in it to write anything funny.”

Speaking of stormy mental February weather, I see King Donald the Short-fingered is to address the multitudes this evening. P’raps instead of watching that excremental extravaganza we shall borrow a teenager from one of the neighbors, immerse ourselves in some novel off-the-cuff and inconsequential lies as a change of pace.

Or maybe we’ll re-read “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

Rock ‘n’ roll

February 3, 2017
Some places the walls have ears. Here the trails have teefers.

Some places the walls have ears. Here the trails have teefers.

Yesterday I was out shooting snippets of video for my Adventure Cyclist review of the Specialized Sequoia when I decided it would be edifying to snap a still of some of the rocks I throw at these machines during our rides together.

Doesn’t quite give you the shark’s-tooth view I get from the saddle, does it? I need to go back and try again.

Meanwhile, I ordinarily read a bit of poetry before nodding off at night, but lately I’ve been browsing The Paris Review‘s interviews with authors and artists. If you need a break from the full-auto barrage of political news, check it out.

Happy trails

January 2, 2017
Don't let the apparent solitude fool you — the Piedra Lisa/Embudo Dam trails were crawling with people trying to sweat out their hangovers.

Don’t let the apparent solitude fool you — the Piedra Lisa/Embudo Dam trails were crawling with people trying to sweat out their hangovers.

Right. New Year’s Day has come and gone, and it’s all downhill from here.

Instead of Hoppin’ John and cornbread, deadlines are on the menu — print reviews of the Trek 520 and Specialized Sequoia are due this month at Adventure Cyclist, along with video of the Sam Hillborne. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, meanwhile, wants a column and cartoon.

The struggle continues.

Bellying up to the bar on New Year's Day.

Bellying up to the bar on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, the first ride of the year is in the books. I performed a cassette transplant on the mango Steelman Eurocross to replace a 26-tooth cog with a 28 — 36×26 is too tall for some of the trails I ride around here — and went out and about for an hour.

Riding touring bikes has spoiled me for cyclocross. I need to think about rearranging the technology on this Eurocross, losing the balky old eight-speed Ultegra brifters for bar-cons and aero brake levers; shortening and raising the stem a tad; and going wider with the handlebar. Also, and too, pulling a few teeth on the chainrings, going to 46/34 from 48/36.

And while I’m at it, I could go nine-speed. Forward, into the past!

I’m probably stuck as regards tires — 32mm is what I’m rocking now, and I nearly slid off a greasy off-camber bit and into a ditch full of sharp rocks and cacti because I’m used to riding nice, fat, squishy 38s and up. But I think I’ll be lucky if I can shoehorn a 35 into that rear triangle.

And if I’m unlucky, or unfit? Well, I guess I can always ride the Soma Double Cross, which already has bar-cons and aero levers, plus a triple crank and 700x42s. Gotta look for that silver lining, don’t you know.

Along those lines, consider this: At least Mariah Carey won’t be the next president. Too soon?

WWFP (What Would Frank Play?), Part IV

December 15, 2016
Climbing toward the Sandia tram on behalf of Adventure Cyclist magazine.

Climbing toward the Sandia tram on behalf of Adventure Cyclist magazine.

It’s been a deadline week, and that means drawing, writing and shooting a bit of video. (Also, ignoring the news, which can lead to nothing but trouble.)

So WWFP? I’m gonna go with “Trouble Every Day.”

 

Interbike 2016: We’ll always have Parris

September 23, 2016
Masi's Adventure Series bikes.

Masi’s Adventure Series bikes.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (MDM) — Ah, so this is what it’s like to have a job. Toting that barge and lifting that bale from sunrise to dark-thirty, lots of bad noise, and no time to play with the old blogaroo.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

There’s a new sheriff in town at Adventure CyclistNick Legan, once a top wrench on the racing circuit who went bad and signed on as tech editor for some Boulder-based cycling mag, and then for us — and frankly, the man is a slave driver, marching us around the Interbike floor like maggots at Parris Island (copy coordinator Dan Meyer, another addition, actually did five years in the Marines, but that’s another story).

As a result we have seen things — many, many of them — and more than a few are suited to the adventure-cycling crowd. Seems the industry has finally discovered what the Adventure Cycling Association folks have been all about for, oh, four decades now. Who knew?

Expect a review of the Moots Baxter (not from me, call the waaaaambulance). “Think mountain-bike capabilities in a mountain-cross build,” says the marketing copy, and it’s named for a dog. Plus it’s a Moots. This is all you need to know.

Also looking good are the Adventure Series bikes from Masi. We looked at but did not review the 2016 Giramondo, but it’s in the hopper for 2017. The Speciale Randonneur looks good, too.

Appearances can be deceiving: While there were times when the show floor seemed busy, overall I'd guess attendance is down, and I'm not the only professional pessimist out there.

Appearances can be deceiving: While there were times when the show floor seemed busy, overall I’d guess attendance is down, and I’m not the only professional pessimist out there.

For some reason the Bombtrack bikes didn’t grab me when I first saw them online, but they’re mighty sharp in MeatWorld, especially the Beyond.

Marin, which did such a fine job last year with the Four Corners Elite, is back for more this year with a wide range of adventure-capable machines, from that Four Corners to the insanely affordable Nicasio.

Also priced to move: Breezer’s Radar Pro. The colors are a bit loud for a subtle fashionista like me, but it’s hard to complain about the price.

The fine folks at Panaracer have plenty of adventurous tires (check out the Gravel King SK); Ortlieb has moved into bikepacking gear; and … and … and I’m sure there’s more to report, but right now I need some breakfast and then it’s off to the show for the final day of Interbike 2016.

• Thought of the Day: Is everyone who works at Rí Rá really Irish or are they putting us on? Seriously, it sounds like “The Commitments” in there. It’ll break me heart if it turns out they’re all from Jersey or Iowa and just takin’ the piss.

 

Interbike 2016: Pain in the. …

September 21, 2016
GoPro's crew and the sporting media, brandishing technology at each other. Sort of like the hominids waving bones around in "2001," only without all that Stanley Kubrick going on.

GoPro’s crew and the sporting media, brandishing technology at each other. Sort of like the hominids waving bones around in “2001,” only without all that Stanley Kubrick going on.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (MDM) — The stabbing pain in my right calf let me know that it was time to rise and shine, if by “rise and shine” you mean “vigorously rub a cramping leg muscle while employing language you didn’t learn from your momma.”

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

It was way too early for a massage that doesn’t have a happy ending. Happily, the Starbucks just around the corner from the East Tower elevators is a 24-hour deal, and after I limped down there for a flagon of the black I was at least able to swear in English and without repeating myself much.

(Yes, I know, Starbucks bad. Starbucks evil. Starbucks also everywhere. We go to Interbike with the coffee we have, not the coffee we wish we had.)

Last night I connected with some of the Adventure Cyclist and Bicycle Retailer mobs for a media preview of a few brands’ offerings and a bite of dinner at Border Grill.

REI announced that it was dropping its Novara label for house-brand bikes, which henceforth will be called “Co-op Cycles.” And GoPro was showing its brand-new HERO 5 camera and Karma drone. That booth was the hottest spot in the room (apologies for the crappy iPhone shot).

I thought briefly about wedging myself into the crush to get the details, and then I thought again. The show hasn’t even opened yet. One cramp at a time, please.

• Deep Thought of the Day: Why do people involved in the collection and distribution of information gather in noisy bistros where they can’t hear each other speak? No wonder everyone stares at their devices all the doo-dah day. “Siri, tell Ray to message me, I can’t hear a damn’ thing he’s saying. What? Can you hear me now? How about now? NOW?”

 

Interbike 2016: Against the wind

September 18, 2016
Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Vato’s got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

That old Bob Seger tune isn’t on the playlist, but I’m on the road anyway. Just another Adventure Cyclist logging miles, and if it’s happening on four wheels, well, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Deadlines and commitments; what to leave in, what to leave out.

See you along the road.

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.