Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’

Zoom ’n’ shrooms

March 26, 2020

Some driveway artiste was trying to cheer up the passers-by, if any.

I had a Zoom video chat with the BRAINiacs yesterday. My first! Look at me, being all like hep to the jive an’ shit.

The meeting was late in the day, and I burned a whole lot of daylight indoors doing whatever the hell it is that I do around here lately, so instead of kitting up for a ride to the Dark Tower to resupply Herself the Elder I went out for a brisk half-hour limp around the ’hood.

You can see company coming a long ways off out here in the Sandia foothills.

Distancing was social, and I seem to be limping faster, so, yay.

After the Zoom session I test-drove a couple new recipes that met with Herself’s approval: mushroom quesadillas and arroz verde.

For the quesadillas I used flour tortillas and Monterey Jack rather than corn torts and mozzarella. Also, I baked them in the oven instead of frying them in a pan.

For the rice I went with a blend of mild/hot Hatch chile instead of poblano and jalapeño.

Them was the ingredients I had on hand. And y’know what? It did not suck. Didn’t take any pix because I was too busy eatin‘ them sumbitches.

The Zoom thing was cool, too. I got to see some people I haven’t seen in a while, and nobody sneezed on nobody.

• Meanwhile — confusion reigns over whether bike shops are “essential.”

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 12

December 31, 2019

He’s back? Oh, God, no. Wasn’t it bad enough the first time around?
From the December 2019 issue of BRAIN.

Behold the final installment of the 12 Days of ’Toonsmas.

Now and then I think it would be fun to be a columnist as in days of yore, cranking out the tees, and also the hees, for fun and (very little) profit.

And then I think again.

Columning can feel an awful lot like work, and it seems that climate change is thinning everyone’s skin when you’d expect it to be doing just the opposite. Surely some of these squealing ninnies should’ve bled to death by now, the way they announce with outrage ev’ry prod with the bodkin. But no, it seems one wee prick merely arouses another.

Better to have my own little shop here on this unremarkable back alley, well off the Infobahn, where the Twitters and Facebooks roar around and about, one hand on the horn and the other out the window, middle digit extended. However do these people steer? Why, with the knees they’d like to shove in your groin, if they were ever to clamber down from the heights of their machinery, which they will not.

So here’s a toast to those of you who continued to patronize the joint during 2019 despite its lack of modern conveniences, the NO SOLICITORS sign, and general air of disreputability. It’s not easy to find, there’s not much in the way of parking, and you want to lock up your bike in this neighborhood if that’s how you roll.

Mind the Committee of Perpetual Grievance milling about there on the sidewalk. He’ll call a meeting about you if you should happen to tread on his toes.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 10

December 29, 2019

A colleague thought this one might get taped up on a few shop walls.
From the October 2019 issue of BRAIN.

As noted on Day 9, e-bikes have their ups and downs. Like any other bicycle, only more so.

They ask more of their owners — check out this article from an REI master tech in Portland — and of their friendly neighborhood mechanic.

Sometimes, a fella just longs to see one of the old bikes. V1.0. The kind that doesn’t give you much help, but doesn’t give you many headaches, either.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 9

December 28, 2019

Susan Calvin was off when these two rolled off the line at U.S. Robots.
From the September 2019 issue of BRAIN.

E-bikes present both opportunity and challenge for the IBD.

One more bike to sell to the base — the old white guy who already has 15 two-wheelers in the garage but may be slowing down a bit due to age or infirmity, and wants a little assist.

One more bike to lure new customers, who may have found old-fashioned cycling too difficult, or who have decided to replace a car with something greener.

One more bike to service, because the future requires more maintenance than the past.

Our heroes at BRAIN’s bike shop acquired an e-assistant to work on e-bikes, which raises another issue, one familiar to anyone who ever read Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.”

Artificial intelligence will not come to us from U.S. Robots, complete with a full installation of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and overseen by Susan Calvin, Greg Powell and Mike Donovan. It will come from Allied Mastercomputer via Ellison Wonderland, it will have ideas all its own, and it will not be our friend.

“They’re a cleaner better breed than we are,” Calvin said in an interview with The Interplanetary Press. Maybe so. in Asimov’s novels, anyway. But in real life our e-assistants will be made by us, in our image. Frightening.

You’ll want to keep them locked up at night, and not for fear of thieves.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 7

December 26, 2019

Just more trashy humor, from the July issue of BRAIN.

Back in June, Gloria Liu wrote a piece for Bicycling headlined, “Hey, Bike Shops: Stop Treating Customers Like Garbage.”

The article had its roots in a survey about rider experiences in shops, which found that way too many people had had a bad day at the IBD, some of them more than once.

General condescension or snobbery was the most commonly cited behavior: “The bike shop employees … made me feel stupid for not being an expert,” said one respondent. Another said, “Shop employees tend to socialize with known customers. Until you’ve been to the shop a few times and made purchases, the employees tend to ignore you.” Other comments included being pressured into purchases or feeling looked down upon for having inexpensive bikes or being beginners.

“Core/bro culture,” mansplaining, and a smirking approach to the gravity-challenged were among the issues Liu discussed with customers and shop people. So, naturally, being core/bro, a mouthy know-it-all, and a relentless Lampooner of the Large whose next cartoon collection should be titled “Moby-Dickhead,” I went straight to the cheap joke for the July episode of “Shop Talk.”

The story reminded me of a passage in my favorite Thomas McGuane essay, “”Me and My Bike and Why,” reprinted in his collection “An Outside Chance: Essays on Sport.” The essay was about motorcycles, and those who ride and care for them, but it could have been about cameras, computers, guns, guitars or bicycles.

A fascinating aspect of the pursuit, not in the least bucolic. was the bike shop where one went for mechanical service, and which was a meeting place for the bike people, whose machines were poised out front in carefully conceived rest positions. At first, of course, no one would talk to me. …

One day an admired racing mechanic — “a good wrench” — came out front and gave my admittedly well-cared-for Matchless the once-over. He announced that it was “very sanitary.” I was relieved. The fear, of course, is that he will tell you, “The bike is wrong.”

Specialty shops tend to attract a specialty employee, the sort who is deeply immersed in the product and its use, and these people are not always a pleasure to be around when they’re in the throes of their particular ecstasy. It’s like walking into an unfamiliar church and announcing you’d like to get right with the Lord, and everyone starts laughing at you.

“Which one? You look like an Episcopalian to me, Tubby.”

“That a Bible you got with you? It better be the King James Version.”

“Tired of dancing on Sundays, huh?”

And it’s the same on the group rides. Swear to Eddy, some of these bozos want to crawl into your jersey with you and tell you how to sweat.

I think there’s always going to be a certain amount of this condescension in your life unless you’re one of these Renaissance types who don’t need no help from nobody. People who know things often like making sure you know that they know. And if you have a long fuse you can learn from these people.

But it ain’t easy. One of the best copy editors I ever worked with was also the biggest asshole I’d ever met. He’s since slipped off the podium; I was young then, and my sample size was a good deal smaller than it is now.

That said, I couldn’t take more than nine months of his bullshit, and I was getting paid to do it. I can’t imagine having to pay for the privilege.

The Mad Dog in Winter

December 24, 2019

Your Humble Narrator at The Arizona Daily Star circa 1980, when his thoughts were not of retirement, but rather escape. Photo: Alan Berner

We may not have ourselves a white Christmas, but it certainly won’t be one suitable for test-riding that shiny new bike I’m not gonna be getting from Sandia Claus.

A chilly rain started falling at midafternoon on Tuesday, shortly after Your Humble Narrator got a short trail run under his tights. All in all, it feels like a marvelous evening for tamales smothered in green chile with a side of Mexican rice.

And for dessert? How about a heaping helping of deep-dish thought about who’s gonna be making it rain around here next year, when a certain somebody taps into that there Socialist Insecurity instead of working for a living?

“Working for a living.” Ho, ho. As if delivering the old hee, and also the haw, requires a strong back and a hand truck.

But deliver we do. Yes, yes, yes, it’s another thrilling episode of Radio Free Dogpatch! We’ve taken a dump right on your porch, and just in time for Christmas, too. Remember, lift with your legs, not your back.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Rode PodMic and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand on the 13-inch 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “On the Job,” from Zapsplat.com. Freesound.org contributed the typewriter (theshaggyfreak); ticking clock (straget); wind (eliasheuninck); footfalls in snow (duck37fm); traffic (edo333); and the elevator going down (LG). Eddard Stark comes to you from the late King Joffrey Baratheon’s gruesome collection of Halloween ornaments. And Darth O’Grady comes to you from the Death Star trash can via Sony ICD-UX533 recorder.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 5

December 24, 2019

I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn the price of an e-bike.
From the May 2019 issue of BRAIN.

If this one feels a bit like the last one, well, I was trying to match the ’toon with its issue’s theme, which happened to be (wait for it) e-bikes.

Plenty of people who should know better (some adventurous cyclists among them) think $1,500 is a lot to pay for a bike you don’t have to plug into a wall socket at night. And I’ve talked to more than one velo-curious person who thinks a third of that sounds about right.

So I was speculating how that sort of customer might react upon learning the price of a decent e-bike from the corner IBD.

And you know me — ever-ready with a cheap gag (rimshot).

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 4

December 23, 2019

Stoned again: From the April 2019 edition of BRAIN.

The bike business sometimes reminds me of Henri the painter in John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row.”

Regularly he revolted against outworn techniques and materials. One season he threw out perspective. Another year he abandoned red, even as the mother of purple. Finally he gave up paint entirely. It is not known whether Henri was a good painter or not for he threw himself so violently into movements that he had very little time left for painting of any kind.

Think about it. Movements, and violently. The road bike. The mountain bike. The suspension fork. Full suspension. Steel, aluminum, carbon, bamboo. The cyclocross bike. The cruiser. The fixie. The townie. The fat bike. 1x drivetrains. 8-, 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-cog cassettes. STI, ErgoPower and DoubleTap. Internally geared hubs. Belt drive. Disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes. Electronic shifting. Tubeless tires. The e-bike. The cargo bike. The gravel bike.

We can argue about whether all (or any) of these movements improve upon the basic bicycle. But I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I just want to ride the damn things. And if I have to be a quantum mechanic to work on it, I don’t need it.

Told I could have just one bicycle, I would choose a chromoly frame and fork with rack and fender mounts plus clearance for 42mm tires, a nine-speed, 11-34T cassette with a 46/30T crank, a short-reach, shallow-drop handlebar, bar-end shifters, aero levers, rim brakes, external cable routing, and 32-spoke clincher wheels (pre-tubeless “standards”).

Of course, that’s just me. One old white guy does not an industry make. But still.

In the meantime, I make fun of fads. Keep making those superhero movies, fellas. I’ll be over here, reading a fucking book.

12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 3

December 22, 2019

Moles don’t get that big, even if they drink beer.
From the March 2019 issue of BRAIN.

Felix Magowan, one of the original Trio that acquired what had been called Velo-news from founders Barbara and Robert George, had long wanted to add Bicycle Retailer and Industry News to the Inside Communications portfolio.

He never got it done. Eventually Inside Communications sold VeloNews to a passing crew of brigands, and Felix wandered off to do other things.

Episode 19 of Radio Free Dogpatch, “Can’t Find My Way Home,” from February 11, 2019.

Imagine giving Dave Stohler’s Masi Gran Criterium to your meth-addict nephew as a present for graduating from reform school. A bleak period ensued, thick with the sort of belligerent dumbassery once found only in high-school locker rooms, family trees shaped like flagpoles, and the lower houses of state legislatures in the Deep South.

I finally sat up and slipped off the back because VeloNews seemed to be careening into the sort of future in which plague-carrying aliens burst out of people’s chests while they’re battling killer robots. The Old Guy Who Gets Fat in Winter went with me, to do the occasional walk-on in Bicycle Retailer’s “Shop Talk” comic strip.

And then, shazam! Felix reappeared as part of Pocket Outdoor Media, and not only reacquired VeloNews, but snapped up BRAIN and a couple other properties as well.

The Fat Guy and I didn’t go back to the old home place. I didn’t care about bicycle racing anymore, and anyway, we weren’t invited. But it seemed like a good time to make a meta joke about how Fatso was a spy for his old bosses.

Unlike the vulture capitalists who nearly burned VeloNews down to its foundation, the “Shop Talk” dudes seem to know they’re cartoon characters.

Also, unlike vulture capitalists, they’re funny.

• Editor’s note: Today’s blast from the past includes a bonus audio component — episode 19 of Radio Free Dogpatch from February 2019.

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.