Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’

Interbike 2016: Tech tock

September 29, 2016
Clockwise from left: The iPod Nano with its fitness app; the Shimano Sports Cam; my iPhone with the cam app open; Garmin's VIRB Ultra 30; and the Timex Metopolitan+ watch and fitness tracker.

Clockwise from left: The iPod Nano with its fitness app; the Shimano Sports Cam; my iPhone with the cam app open; Garmin’s VIRB Ultra 30; and the Timex Metopolitan+ watch and fitness tracker.

Things are slowly returning to what passes for normal around El Rancho Pendejo.

Groceries have been bought and the lawn mowed. The Adventure Cyclist boyos and I have discussed editorial strategery for 2017. And last night I prepared an actual dinner instead of slapping together some light smorgasbord of cheese, ham, crackers, fruit and salad.

My initial impression that Interbike had lost a step or two was confirmed yesterday as organizers guesstimated that visitor count fell 10 to 12 percent while exhibition space dropped 8 percent. The outfit hopes for a good turnout at its Fall CycloFest next month in North Carolina, but you know what they say about hoping in one hand and shitting in the other. One hand fills up faster.

Vato's got a ticket to ride. Orrrrale.

Speaking of lost steps, I used an iPod Nano to track my walking during this year’s show, and I was surprised to have logged only about 20 miles. This is an approximation; I forgot to start the tracker for one longish march, from my room at the Luxor to the Boiler Room to meet some colleagues, then to the media preview at Mandalay Bay, then to the BRAIN dinner at Border Grill, and finally back to the room. If you insist on hard numbers, the way Adventure Cyclist does expense receipts, I can only document 17.5 miles.

I probably would have been better served by using the Timex Metropolitan+ I bought on a whim before heading to Vegas. A watch with delusions of grandeur, it sits on your wrist rather than in your pocket, and thus is harder to forget about. But it needed to be synchronized with my iPhone via an app, and the owner’s manual is about the size of my iPod Nano, and the online instructions seemed to have been translated from the original Feeb into Obfuscation, which is not one of my languages.

So, yeah. Didn’t get it figured out until yesterday, and I may not be completely there yet. Sucker has more hands than Avalokiteśvara, and the app is not nearly as intuitive as the Nano’s basic fitness tracker, which even a Trumpetista with a closed head injury could decode.

In point of fact it’s been something of a technology week here at the ol’ rancheroo. With more video on the horizon for Adventure Cyclist, I finally got around to installing the iPhone app to control my Shimano Action Cam (which lacks any sort of LCD monitor) and began monkeying around with Garmin’s new Virb Ultra 30 cam. You’ve seen footage from the former in my little road-trip video; look for video from the Virb in my review of the Trek 520, the next bike in the pipeline.

With all these tools in-house, and Bicycle Retailer slowing to monthly publication for the off-season, I hope to spend a little downtime honing my audiovisual chops. But you know what they say about hope.

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.

 

No foolin’

April 1, 2016
The 2009 iMac, resurrected (however temporarily) for service as a podcasting tool.

The 2009 iMac, resurrected (however temporarily) for service as a podcasting tool.

Consider this your shelter from the storm that is April Fool’s Day.

Here at Mad Dog Media we do the perpetual tee hee, 24/7 and 365. As George Carlin noted on “Carlin at Carnegie Hall”:

“I am a professional comedian. As opposed to the kind you see at work all day long.”

To be honest, it’s been something of a pro-am week here at Ye Olde Gagge Factorie. I had professional obligations to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, and despite being sidetracked by the death of one of my favorite authors I managed to, as we say out here in the West, “Git ‘er done.” It was not unlike shitting a full case of broken whiskey bottles.

During rest intervals I reacquainted myself with the ins and outs of podcasting. This was strictly amateur hour.

Longtime victims of the blog may recall that I’ve dabbled in audio a time or two, but it’s been a couple years since my last episode of Radio Free Dogpatch. I even pulled the link off the site. It felt like driving past the same shuttered storefront every day.

GarageBand '11, v6.0.5, had a dedicated "Podcast" option. The "improved" version, not so much.

GarageBand ’11, v6.0.5, had a dedicated “Podcast” option. The “improved” version, not so much.

I started out recording with Felt Tip’s Sound Studio, an application I got for free, I think, maybe with a hardware purchase from Other World Computing. Then I tried Audacity, another gratis bit of software, and finally moved over to Apple’s GarageBand, which I considered the least user-friendly of the three. But it comes with every Mac, so there you have it. And there was a dedicated “Podcast” selection in the startup menu, plus you could pull jingles and other sound effects out of the library it shared with iMovie.

Well, that’s all history. If anything GarageBand is even less user- and podcast-friendly than it was before. And I’m a couple years dumberer. So, yeah, there was a little bit of the wailing, the gnashing of teeth and the rending of the garments as we became reacquainted. It was like running into the smartypants kid from high school, the one you hated, and finding out that he had landed a job providing a service you needed.

Once I got back up to speed with recording myself as a solo act, I studied up on adding additional voices (and no, not the ones in my head).

The fun part was learning how to record a Skype call and import the audio into GarageBand. Any old scribbler has spent a fair amount of time recording phone interviews, but a painstaking transcription traditionally followed and the quotes gleaned thereby were worked into what we used to call “a story,” or “copy,” as in, “O’Grady, where the fuck is my copy? News editor has a two-inch hole on D42 and the slot man is drunk again.” Journalism 101, right there in the tar pits, next to the brontosaurus.

Here at the FutureFair a modern Bozo (or Bozoette) wants to add the actual audio from that chat to a podcast. It’s a breeze, thanks to the brainiacs at Ecamm. Their Call Recorder records both sides of the Skype call directly to your Mac, and a widget lets you split the recording into individual tracks. Another widget converts those files into mp3 and you drag them sumbitches into GarageBand for editing. It’s easier than slipping a fabricated quote past a drunk slot man.

Anyway, my man Hal Walter and I did a short test drive yesterday. The wheels didn’t fall off, and nothing exploded, so our next attempt will be an actual podcast. No foolin’. Don’t touch that dial.

 

Putting on the Dog

September 15, 2015
For today at least, Sin City is not a scorching hellhole.

For today at least, Sin City is not a scorching hellhole.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (MDM) — Early rising makes me disagreeable, even more so than usual. So rather than make my usual pilgrimage to Late for the Train, I fled Flagstaff for Vegas, where one more bad attitude is the equivalent of a mouse fart at a sewage treatment plant.

interbike-bugOddly, my arrival was completely incident-free. I checked in at the Luxor, picked up my show badge, and settled into my spacious Cycling Journalist’s Suite at the Luxor, awaiting the first of what I hope will be many meals at someone else’s expense.

The kickoff is always dinner with the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News mob. Then Adventure Cyclist takes a pounding for the duration.

That's Smirnoff, but not of the Yakov variety.

That’s Smirnoff, but not of the Yakov variety.

Throwing a few meaty bones to the old Dog is a small price to pay to keep me out of the office, and indeed across state lines. More than one of them, too, BRAIN being a California concern while Adventure Cyclist is based up Montana way.

On the way over to score my badge I noticed that someone had already had his dinner. Well, like they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Specifically, in and around the toilet at the Luxor.

Next: It’s showtime!

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.

A day in the life

June 12, 2015
Descending on Trail 365 near the Embudo Dam.

Descending on Trail 365 near the Embudo Dam.

Every now and then, when I get a check in the mail, as I did yesterday, I wonder what I did to earn it. This thing of mine is not exactly ditch-digging, after all. Mostly it seems quite a bit like play.

But I kept track of yesterday’s chores, for some reason, and so here’s a look at a day in the life of a freelance cycling rumormonger.

• Wrote an 850-word column for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, on the joys of being a one-car, 16-bicycle family.

• Drew and colored a cartoon about motors in the peloton, also for BRAIN.

• Did an hour or so of hills on the Elephant NFE, stopping periodically to shoot some GoPro footage for its video review, which will accompany its Adventure Cyclist print review, which is fighting for space in my skull with ongoing impressions of a Felt V100 and Opus Legato 1.0.

• Pulled the footage off the GoPro, dropped it into iMovie, and did a bit of planning/editing.

• Declined a couple days’ worth of copyediting, my least favorite chore.

• Reinstalled the porteur and low-rider racks on the Elephant, being extra careful to not clamp anything down on any cable housing anywhere.

• Did a little casual research on the Swift Industries and Revelate bags.

Like I said, not exactly ditch-digging. Still, I’ll take the money. And thanks.

Shark. Fin.

July 28, 2014

Laptop-OverWhew. Another Tour is in the bin, and just in time, too.

Vinnie “The Shark” Nibbles arrived in Paris with his lead and skin intact, two Frenchies made the podium for the first time since the lads raced with wooden rims, smoking cigarettes, and Charles Pelkey and I called the sumbitch from start to finish at Live Update Guy. Thanks to any and all of yis who popped round to watch us flail. If you enjoy that sort of thing, we’re gonna be doing it again for the Vuelta a España.

Now I can finally relax a bit, if your idea of downtime is immediately banging out a column and cartoon for Bicycle Retailer, shooting and editing a video for Adventure Cyclist, and wrangling a herd of tradespeople — movers, plumbers, arborists, painters, bankers, and Realtors™ — in preparation for our impending move to Albuquerque. Fuck me running, if you’ll pardon my French.

Herself will be southbound directly, taking up temporary quarters in Duke City as she starts the new gig, while I remain behind at Chez Dog, dealing with deadlines, managing the menagerie and assisting the house-hunting process from afar with my usual wit and wisdom.

“Nope. Nope. Nope. Hate it. Ug-ly. Sucks. Nope. Nope. Nope.”

It doesn’t help that we’re out of practice, having stayed put for 12 years. Too, we’ve been extraordinarily lucky as regards house purchases, having dealt exclusively with friends and relatives thus far. Still, eventually we’ll find a place we like, accumulate some soul-crushing debt, and that will be that. We’ll be New Mexicans again.

¡Que triste es la vida loca!

Throwback Thursday

April 10, 2014
The cover of VeloNews, Vol. 18, No. 3, March 10, 1989, the first issue to contain an O'Grady cartoon.

The cover of VeloNews, Vol. 18, No. 3, March 10, 1989, the first issue to contain an O’Grady cartoon.

As I was dozing off last night it struck me that I missed an anniversary of sorts last month.

On March 10, 1989, I drew my first cartoon for VeloNews.

Good God awmighty. Have I really been cracking lame bike jokes for more than 25 years?

Yup.

And my, how times have changed.

In 1989, I was still a real journalist (kinda, sorta) instead of a free-lance rumormonger, flailing away in a series of unsung editorial capacities for The New Mexican in Santa Fe, periodically shifting to a new desk in the newsroom as I wore out my welcome at the old one.

The VeloNews thing was my first real free-lance gig. I had applied for a job there, as managing editor, and happily for everyone concerned, I didn’t get it. But management liked the cartoons, and you know the rest.

Himself, in all his (ahem) glory.

Himself, in all his (ahem) glory.

Then as now, I drew in pencil, pen and ink, on Bristol board. But the ’toons were in black and white, and the originals FedExed from Santa Fe to Boulder.

At some point I scored a Mac SE, a 2400-baud Hayes modem, and an AOL account. But the early Innertubes were ill-equipped for transmitting the Old Guy Who Gets Fat In Winter from Santa Fe to Boulder, even in black and white, though VeloNews soon set up a BBS for catching incoming stories and was one of the early pioneers homesteading the World Wide Web.

I don’t draw for Velo, the slick successor to VeloNews. But I still do my “Shop Talk” strip for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. And those bad boys are digitized, colorized and shot through the Innertubes like ICBMs (Intercontinental Burlesque Missiles) to Laguna Hills, California, along with my “Mad Dog Unleashed” column.

All of which means I can have an editor mumbling, “Aw, f’chrissakes, lookit this fuggin’ thing,” in seconds instead of days.

 

"Shop Talk," the strip I do for BRAIN. Mostly it features the Mud Stud and Dude; occasionally, the Fat Guy and other characters appear.

“Shop Talk,” the strip I do for BRAIN. Mostly it features the Mud Stud and Dude; occasionally, the Fat Guy and other characters appear.

Cars don’t play

March 10, 2014
Oh, good. More people playing when they should be driving.

Oh, good. More people playing when they should be driving.

I took my gradually fading cold out for a walk yesterday afternoon, and boy, was it ever a beautiful day. Didn’t need to see that pudgy jogger airing out his man-boobs, but occasionally a fella must take the bitter with the sweet.

We’re looking at another blast of springtime today — 72! — before the rain, snow and wind play a return engagement on Tuesday. So I plan to get out again while the getting out remains good.

Friend of the the DogS(h)ite Weaksides will not be so fortunate, alas. In comments, he advises that he’s enduring in-patient therapy after getting blitzed from behind by a car, and his condition may keep him out of his own damn’ home for a while. So shoot him some good wishes in comments if you have a moment.

Meanwhile, feel free to wax wroth about Apple’s latest brainstorm, CarPlay, a setup intended to make it easier for motorists to jabber on the phone, check their email and not incidentally run us over. Released today as part of iOS 7.1 and soon to be a column coming to a bicycle-industry magazine near you.

For whom the bell tolls

February 7, 2014
It was warmer today — but not that much warmer.

It was warmer today — but not that much warmer.

Finally, the temperature crept above zero, and then above freezing, and after I shipped my “Shop Talk” cartoon for the March 1 edition of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News I was able to sneak out for my first ride in the better part of quite some time that didn’t require pulling on enough neoprene to make wetsuits for every frogman in the Chinese navy.

First I took the Bootleg Hobo out and about with a GoPro on board, so I could get some winter footage for its video review, which Adventure Cyclist wants early next month.

Then I pulled the old mountain bike out of the garage again and rode over to Bear Creek Regional Park, where the Mad Dogs used to promote cyclo-cross races back when we were men instead of whatever it is that we are now.

There was still plenty of snow and ice on the ground, plus some slush to keep it company, and the trails were thick with feckin’ eejits who were either unable or unwilling to hear the crunch of fat tires on old snow, a bell rung thrice, and a cheery voice warning, “On your left!”

I startled the mortal shit out of at least two of ’em when I passed. They jumped smack out of their shivering skins and left ’em splayed on the ground like sex dolls awaiting inflation, their internal workings exposed to the elements. Stupidity should be painful.

Speaking of which, our local fish-wrapper, which is dead set on helping politicians, developers and other shameless hoors further enrich themselves at the taxpayers’ expense by elevating The Olympic Movement to cult status hereabouts, couldn’t even be bothered to localize an Associated Press story about a new national mountain-bike series that will finish right here in Bibleburg, home to (wait for it) The U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Cycling, in the U-nited States of America.

Nope, they’re too busy pimping the Winter Games, which is all the way around the damn’ world in Red Roosha, is what.

Shit, the lazy sonsabitches didn’t even fix the typos. Looks like we lost the Cold War after all.