Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’

Cold blow and the rainy night

December 7, 2018

The transition from fall to winter is always a sketchy time around here.

I’m not a fan of shorter, colder, darker days. They remind me at a genetic level of why my people invented uisce beatha. And since I no longer indulge in that miraculous restorative I’m at sea without a paddle on these chilly gray mornings, when the hangover is outside my head, at large and in charge, and not even aspirin is of any use.

This is when I await a tot of bad news, the way I once awaited a shot of good booze. The life of the free-range rumormonger is wild and free, until it isn’t, and it’s generally around this time of year when editors count and cull their herds.

“Oh, that one’s got to go. Dumber than three mules, eats like six of ’em, and shits all over the place. Fetch my .30-.30.”

It was fall 2017 when I got the word that Bicycle Retailer and Industry News would no longer require my “Mad Dog Unleashed” column. This was not a surprise. The industry-news biz, and the industry itself, was not exactly flush. Flushed was more like it. And shortly thereafter the publisher who gave the order and the editor who carried it out were no longer with The Organization.

About the same time Adventure Cyclist guessed that they wouldn’t need me at Interbike Reno, the Last Dance in Sin City having demonstrated all the intoxicating power of a half-can of O’Doul’s, a two-wheeled version of P.T. Barnum’s This Way to the Egress. When I heard nary a word about the show afterward I assumed Management had made the right decision. A bored and sober Dog makes a poor companion indeed. Whining and snarling and pissing on things.

And an old Dog, too. Set in his ways he is. ‘Tis a wee bit late to be training him so. Is there a .30-.30 to be had somewhere, d’ye think?

Well, p’raps. But not right now. Until I hear otherwise, I’m to deliver the first “Shop Talk” cartoon of 2019 to BRAIN next week. And a fresh Adventure Cyclist review bike awaits me down at Fat Tire Cycles, one of the few Duke City shops I have yet to visit.

And thus we have this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch: “Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, or Whatever Floats Your Boat.” Give it a listen.

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 a Shure SM58 microphone, Rogue Amoeba’s Audio Hijack, and the old 2009 iMac. Cap’n Whitebeard used an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB mic. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand on a 2014 MacBook Pro. The background music is “Into the Sunset” from Audio Hero via ZapSplat.com. Sounds of the sea courtesy Freesound.org.

• Editor’s note: The very day I recorded this episode BRAIN announced that the bell had tolled, not for me, but for Interbike, both show and staff. That shit will roll downhill — just how far and fast remains to be seen — and I feel the pain of all those who saw the business end of that .30-.30. Marc Sani, one of BRAIN’s founders and presently its interim publisher, has a few thoughts on the whys and wherefores. As for me, I wrote about the final Vegas show in 2017, and you can read that after the jump.

• Off to see the Wizard in 2017

Of wheels and wilderness

November 16, 2018

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits the Cibola wilderness.

Anyone who thinks Bicycle Retailer and Industry News has gone as dull as dishwater in the absence of my “Mad Dog Unleashed” column hasn’t been reading “Through the Grapevine.”

Interim publisher Marc Sani has taken that rascal over, and what once was originally an industry-gossip collection, and then a news-nuggets amalgamation, has become what management calls “very much an editorial and analysis column.”

It’s now going to be available online, and Sani’s latest sortie, about permitting mountain bikes in wilderness and the Republicans — yes, Republicans — who support the idea, seems to have squeezed the tender grapes of many an outraged reader.

Freelance rumormongers and publishers rarely find themselves in agreement, especially if we’re talking about matters such as prompt payment for services rendered.

But I’ve got to tip the ol’ Sangre de Cristos Cycling Club cap to The Sanitizer on this one, if only for all the trail dust he kicked up. He not only rounded up a whole herd of free-range eyeballs, he blackened ’em for good measure.

I enjoyed the fuss so much I based this week’s edition of Radio Free Dogpatch around it, prowling the Innertubes for relevant tidbits and rolling around in whatever smelled good, including:

• That Grapevine column.

• The Wilderness Act of 1964.

• The House and Senate measures to amend it.

• The Sustainable Trails Coalition.

• Two Outside columns, one from Marc Peruzzi and the other from Christopher Solomon.

Aaron Teasdale’s article in Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club.

Ashley Halsey III’s article about America’s waning love affair with the automobile, from The Washington Post.

• Smithsonian.com’s brief history of America’s complicated relationship with the wild horse.

• And last but not least, Hal Walter’s “The Crash of 1943,” from Colorado Central magazine. Hal and Gary Ziegler of Bear Basin Ranch took us to see the wreckage of that B-25 at Rito Alto Peak, and when it came to transporting camping gear I much preferred Hal’s burros to my mountain bike, or my own back. And for anyone suffering from delusions about the mountain bike’s superiority to simple bipedal locomotion in the high lonesome, Hal once ran away from me and my bike on the upper reaches of Hermit Pass. He didn’t even have a burro with him that time.

• Technical notes: This episode was recorded with an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone and a Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. I edited the audio using Apple’s GarageBand. The background music is “Looking Back Over the Hill” by David-Gwyn Jones, from ZapSplat.com. Other sounds courtesy Freesound.org, with an assist from Your Humble Narrator, with his trusty Tascam DR-10L and Sony ICD-UX533 (no longer available, alas). And finally, that faux taxonomic family you hear? Rotae mortis? That’s Dog Latin for “Wheels of Death.” I’m funny that way. Maybe not.

Days decrease, and autumn grows

October 10, 2018

Yesterday’s clouds were a harbinger of mildly unpleasant weather,
the sort one expects in October.

It’s that time of year again.

This morning, instead of going straight to The New York Times to see what deviltry Cheeto Benito has been up to while we slept, I cued up Weather Underground to find out what Thor has in store for us here in our little corner of the Duke City.

Also, I was wearing socks. And pants. O, the humanity.

I already miss my summer routine. Reveille at oh-dark-thirty as Field Marshal Turkish von Turkenstein (commander, 1st Feline Home Defense Regiment) leaps into my rack. After a brief exchange of the usual courtesies it’s up and into the Columbia shorts, guinea tee and Tevas for the trip to the kitchen, where I burn an English muffin for Herself, pour a cup of joe for myself, and top off Miss Mia Sopaipilla’s kibble.

Next, open the sliding glass doors and a kitchen window. Fresh air reminds me we have two cats who haven’t mastered the flush toilet. But the litter box will have to wait. First, the news. One foul chore at a time, please.

With the international, national, regional and local butt-nuggets exhumed, examined and expunged, and a second cup of coffee to wash down a snack of some sort, it’s time to generate a bit of bloggery and/or paying copy before embarking upon some healthy outdoor activity.

Here we have another indicator of the relentless passage of time, as reliable as falling leaves. Come autumn, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News and Adventure Cyclist reduce their frequency of publication, and my income stream — hardly a raging torrent, even in the heart of the cycling season — becomes more of a dribble, the last warm sip from summer’s water bottle.

I delivered the video teaser of my Jones Plus SWB review to Adventure Cyclist on Sunday, and yesterday the November “Shop Talk” cartoon went off to BRAIN. Now I’m fresh out of other people’s bikes to ponder, and there’s just one more ’toon to draw for 2018.

And that healthy outdoor activity? Come autumn, it’s as likely to be a run as a ride. This year I started jogging again in July; this lets me sort of sneak up on my knees, give them time to grow accustomed to the idea that we enjoy this sort of thing, before winter winnows our options.

It’s a useful fiction, one that keeps me in shorts a while longer.

Interbike 2018: Can you show me where it hurts?

September 19, 2018

There’s a new tariff in town.

Back to the present: My man Matt Wiebe of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News serves up a piece from Interbike about whether retailers should be stocking up on product with more tariffs on the horizon.

Among the folks Matt spoke to was Friend of the Blog Stephen Newhall of Rob and Charlie’s in Fanta Se, who is taking the dire pronouncements from some suppliers with “a grain of salt.”

“What will happen is that sales that would have otherwise happened in November and December will happen sooner,” he says.

One of the big issues is what constitutes a bike made in China, notes Bob Margevicius of Specialized.

“A bike’s point of origin is not necessarily clear because it is made from components from so many sources,” he says. “It is an extremely confusing time right now.”

The whole piece is worth a read, especially since Matt isn’t just another Fake News guy like Your Humble Narrator. He’s also a small-business owner*, a pro salmon fisherman with a boat, nets, and everything.

* Note the hyphenation there. That’s an Associated Press style deal intended to avoid confusion. Matt helms a small business, but as anyone who has ever seen him will attest, he is not a small businessman.

• Next: The dream is gone.

Roll of the dice

August 20, 2018

Off with your head!

Here’s your helmet, there’s the door, what’s your hurry?

Megan Tompkins, the publisher of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, “has left to pursue other opportunities,” in the parlance of our times.

Marc Sani, the semi-retired co-founder of the trade magazine, has stepped in as interim publisher. Given the present economic climate, and with Interbike Reno just around the corner, this must feel like climbing out of a hot tub and into a piranha tank, wearing a pork-chop Speedo.

I’ve done bits of this, that and the other for Sani and the gang since 1992. Alas, the mag’ has dwindled, in tandem with the trade it covers, and so I do a good deal less of it now than I once did. In fact, I’m down to drawing the “Shop Talk” cartoon at the back of the book, period, end of story.

But that’s the carefree life of the independent contractor for you. Easy come, even easier go. Happily, I also contribute to Adventure Cyclist, and I married well, so we will not lack for kibble in the dish here at El Rancho Pendejo.

The remaining full-time BRAINiacs are not breathing so easily, especially after such a high-profile departure, with so much at stake.

So here’s hoping for better days. Maybe Marc will roll nothing but sevens in his old hometown next month.

 

Recycled 6: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

December 31, 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 half dozen of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” screeds between now and then. This is the last jug in the sixer, but pulled from the middle of the pack, the June 1 issue.

His Lardship on the throne.

From the Dark Tower to the White House,
or ‘There and Back Again’

“I had a friend who was a clown. When he died, all his friends went to the funeral in one car.”—Steven Wright

By Patrick O’Grady

Forty-three years ago I was working for a daily newspaper, fretting in my journal about the deranged authoritarian in the White House, and riding my bike a ton with the goal of getting fit by summertime.

See, kids? It’s true—things do get better! For instance, I no longer work for a daily newspaper.

OK, so going one for three isn’t exactly crushing it after more than four decades.

At least I’m riding a better class of bike now.

There’s a Sam Hillborne parked in my office today. But even in 1974 I was a Rivendell kind of guy, though back then Rivendell was some elvish spa ginned up by J.R.R. Tolkien rather than a purveyor of the finest friction shifters, quill stems and rim brakes, lovingly hand-forged by ironically bearded dwarves in Middle-earth, California.

Then as now the bike was steel, a 10-speed Schwinn of low birth, a gift from my parents while I was still abusing high school and studying drugs.

It weighed about as much as I did when I was still on the swim team, before all that unruly hair fatally queered my aquadynamics. And I rode it on errands, to work, and for recreation, in street clothes—jeans, T-shirt, tennies—pretty much the same kit I wore everywhere save for the newsroom, where the standards were slightly higher than at the Tillerman Teahouse because I was paid $65 a week to be there.

If someone had told me I needed special garb before I could ride that beast for free, I’d have given them the old hee, and also the haw. Tight shorts with a pad that looks like something you’d use to wash a windshield? A plastic helmet? And special shoes?

G’wan, gedoudaheeah. What, I look like an elf or something?

I know it’s true; oh, so true. Seems there has always been some dark force crouched in a high place, up to no good, while I tried to scribble a ’toon, pound out the word count, or ride a bike.

Maybe that’s why I was so fond of fantasy. Comic books, science fiction, sword-and-sorcery—there’s a better world out there somewhere, if you can just get a grip on Anduril, the Batmobile or the USS Enterprise.

As Robert A. Heinlein’s Oscar Gordon put it in “Glory Road”:

“I wanted Prester John, and Excalibur held by a moonwhite arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they had promised me it was going to be—instead of the tawdry, lousy, fouled-up mess it is.”

‘Cause I saw it on TV. Back in ’74, when I was 19 going on 20, riding that Schwinn to the newspaper five afternoons a week, the main fantasy was that we dream-weavers were making a difference.

The Watergate hearings had been must-see TV, like “Star Trek” and “Kung Fu.” Capt. James T. Kirk and Kwai Chang Caine kicked much ass, but so did Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, along with Sam Ervin and Leon Jaworski.

And when Richard Nixon finally resigned the presidency, well, it was as though the One Ring had been unmade; “a huge shape of shadow, impenetrable, lightning-crowned, filling all the sky,” had been taken by a great wind, “and it was all blown away. …”

Talk about a five-o’clock Shadow. I don’t think any of us in that newsroom, watching Tricky Dick helicopter off to San Clemency, thought we’d ever see a bigger Shadow fall across the Republic.

We were wrong.

“Our long national nightmare is over,” said Gerald Ford.

He was wrong, too.

It wasn’t the Ring falling into Mount Doom and the undoing of Sauron the Great we had witnessed, but rather the tactical retreat of the Necromancer.

You can’t take your eye off this lot for a minute, much less four decades.

The return of the king. While we were all out riding our bikes, or doing our little bits of business, the Shadow was busy getting a Hollywood makeover.

A couple of beta models were released and recalled (“Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.” “Read my lips: No new taxes.” “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”). And the marketing got kicked up a notch (it sure helped when instead of just seven Palantír there were a bazillion of ’em).

And finally, like Pippin the hobbit, we got our brains scrambled good and dry by all that Palantír time and fell hook, line and sinker for a king, a cross between Sauron, Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and Biff Tannen from “Back to the Future.”

Now we have to gear down once more for that long climb up Mount Doom, which makes L’Alpe d’Huez look like a tall curb.

Maybe instead of dwelling on Middle-earth all those years we should have paid closer attention to Middle-america, as chronicled by Sinclair Lewis.

Who knew? Turns out it can happen here.

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the June 1, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Starting tomorrow it’s back to business as unusual here at the DogHaus.

Recycled 5: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

December 30, 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 No. 5, one of those rare columns that actually managed to elicit a comment (and a positive one, too) from one of my editors.

Harrison Walter expanding his horizons. Photo courtesy Hal Walter

The wheel goes round, whether pushing up or coasting down

“I wanta bicycle in hot afternoon heat, wear Pakistan leather sandals, shout in high voice at Zen monk buddies standing in thin hemp summer robes and stubble heads. …”—Japhy Ryder in “The Dharma Bums,” by Jack Kerouac

By Patrick O’Grady

“The Zen of Standing Around,” he called it.

Nobody would describe the Tour de France like that. But my friend Hal Walter wasn’t talking about the Tour, which isn’t even a blip on his sporting radar screen. He was talking about a stop-and-go mountain-bike ride with his son, Harrison.

“An hour and 45 minutes for four miles,” he noted. “About an hour slower than I usually run it.”

A short, slow ride with your kid, even on rugged, single-track horse trail, probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to you. And strictly speaking it wouldn’t be one to Hal, either.

His idea of a good time is the annual World Championship Pack-Burro Race out of Fairplay, Colo, a 29-mile run to the summit of 13,185-foot Mosquito Pass and back. He’s won it seven times.

Hal has some experience racing the bike, too, most of it from the Mount Taylor Winter Quadrathlon in Grants, N.M. The 43-mile Quad starts and ends on the bike, but in between competitors run, ski and snowshoe up and down 11,301-foot Mount Taylor.

So, yeah. Four-mile mountain-bike ride with your kid. No big deal.

Unless your kid is autistic—or as Hal prefers to say, “neurodiverse.”

Then every mile deserves its own milestone.

Saddling up. Hal came late to the bike. He was about 7 when he taught himself to ride his mom’s three-speed step-through, which was too big for him.

Hal recounted the experience a couple years ago in his column for Colorado Central magazine.

“I remember one day taking this hulking steel steed out to the sloped driveway behind the duplex where we lived, determined to learn to ride it. I started at the top with my feet to either side and shuffled along astride the bike while coasting down the short drive. Then I pushed it back up and tried again. Over and over.

“Each time I was able to coast a little farther between steps. It seemed like hours went by, and then suddenly I coasted the entire driveway.”

Rock and roll. Pushing it back up. Trying again. Over and over. Welcome to Team Sisyphus.

I learned how to ride early, with my dad’s help, in Canada. After the old man got transferred to Texas in 1962 we went for regular evening rides around officers’ country on Randolph AFB. It was a nice slice of family time, and remains a fond memory.

Here in Albuquerque a neighbor would like to get in on a little of that. After asking me for advice she and her husband have been bike-shopping, hoping to squeeze in some rides with their daughter before she goes back to college.

I can recommend it. And so can Hal.

Sport as medicine. I expect Hal wondered whether he’d ever be able to share his love of a good sweat with Harrison, who was late to a lot of things, not just cycling.

He’s had at least four speech therapists, but still has trouble with communication and comprehension. This frustrates him, and he lashes out, sometimes physically.

But with a little assistance, and a lot of patience, Harrison has been able to attend school like all the other kids—it helps that the Walters live in rural Custer County, Colo., near a very small town with an equally small school—and he’s inherited enough of his parents’ aptitude and appreciation for running to participate in the track and cross-country teams.

Spinning your wheels. The cycling is mostly recreational. Hal rides as a respite from the pounding of long-distance running, and he thought he might share this activity with Harrison, too.

But like his old man, Harrison took a while to master the technique, enduring failure after failure, until one day the nickel finally dropped and the music started playing.

He quickly progressed from a BMX bike to a Diamondback mountain bike, and got to where he was comfortable logging some serious gravel mileage alongside Hal as he ran one of his burros around and about.

Harrison raced the school triathlon, and started exploring the neighborhood single-track. And this summer dad gave him a nice attaboy, trading in the old Diamondback at Absolute Bikes in Salida for a used yellow Specialized Hardrock.

The truth(s) of the matter. None of this means Harrison will be chasing a famous jersey to match his new-used yellow bike.

He’s a skinny 13-year-old who’s been known to stop on training runs to call an imaginary friend on an imaginary phone. He can be loud, and occasionally unsettling. Your finish line may not be his.

The kid is doing his own race, at his own pace, and sometimes makes his own rules. Hal’s along for the ride, and if it takes nearly two hours to cover four miles, well, that’s how long it takes.

While Harrison fusses over the stickers in his socks, Hal practices the Zen of Standing Around, like Kerouac’s Ray Smith contemplating the first of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths (all life is suffering) and the third (the suppression of suffering can be achieved).

“The funny thing is he seems to have no problem pushing that thing,” says Hal. “Like it’s just part of the deal. You push the steep stuff and ride the downhills.”

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the Aug. 15, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

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.

Recycled 3: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

December 28, 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 No. 3, and it fits in nicely with Khal’s comment under the previous installment.

Herself aboard one of her two remaining bikes, a Soma Double Cross, at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park.

How to sell cycling when ‘street smarts’ keep buyers indoors?

“What are you doing to create great experiences?”—Tania Burke of Trek Travel during the 2017 Bicycle Leadership Conference

By Patrick O’Grady

Herself instructed me to sell her road bike the other day.

The timing was both good and bad. The good: Sport Systems down on Montgomery was getting ready to host the 23rd annual BikeABQ bike swap.

This sounds like a craft brewery inviting the local moonshiners to set up their stills in the parking lot, only with more methodical beards and less random gunfire. But it’s a fund-raiser for BikeABQ, so good for them.

The bad: It seemed counterintuitive to surrender a perfectly rideable bike going into Bike Month, unless it went to someone who might actually ride it.

Plus this bike is a golden oldie, a 48cm Cannondale R800 2.8 from the fabulous Nineties. Made in USA, bought from Old Town Bike Shop in Colorado Springs. Eight-speed 105 group with STI. Possibly the oldest bike in the garage, which is saying something.

Still, she hardly ever rode it in the Springs, and her only contact with it here has involved bumping into it while getting into or out of the Honda.

Herself claims it was scary to ride the road in the Springs, which it was, and terrifying to ride it in the Duke City, which it can be. So off it goes, or so we hope. One more hook in the garage for me.

This won’t leave her bikeless, in case you’re wondering. She still has a Soma Double Cross that has logged a lot of hook time since we moved to Albuquerque, and a Barracuda A2T mountain bike she occasionally rides to hot yoga/TRX classes. Call it a mile each way, about half of it on a shared-use, off-street, paved trail.

I often ride there and back with her, and we both try not to think about the ghost bike we see en route.

Here be dragons. I don’t mean to pick on Albuquerque and Colorado Springs here. I’ve ridden the road in both places and lived to tell about it, if only because most motorists never get to read this column.

But experience doesn’t keep me safe from the inattentive, impaired, inept or insane. If they can get Michele Scarponi and Yoann Offredo, they can get me, and probably you, too.

The autos just keep getting larger and more complex—see Bill Vlasic’s April 12 story in The New York Times about the clamor for supersized SUVs that are smarter than their drivers—while the roads mostly stay the same size.

When and if the roads do get bigger, they attract more and bigger autos. You could be excused for thinking a 2011 Honda CR-V is a “small” SUV until you see one garaged next to an ’05 Subaru Forester. Neither is something you’d like to have parked on you while you wait for the ambulance.

There be a drag. Now Herself is a smart person, into fitness, with a goodly amount of disposable income until I figure out where she’s hidden it.

Yet here she is, selling one-third of her bikes, leaving the second third idle and the third third nearly so. And for what? Indoor exercise classes. Hot yoga. In Albuquerque, where the average high temperature is 67 degrees and we enjoy 278 days of brilliant sunshine per annum.

You’d have to point something a lot scarier than a Lincoln Navigator full of texting drunks at me to drive me into a room full of sweaty yogis on a sunny May day.

But I’m in the minority, judging from the proliferation of sweatshops like Herself’s Hot Yoga Infusion studio, Life Time Fitness, CrossFit, SoulCycle or Peloton Interactive, the last of which claims to have nearly a half-million users, according to Lauren Goode’s April 25 story at TheVerge.com.

Getting buzzed. We bicycle types do a lot of handwringing—and rightly so, given the grim stats in this magazine every issue—over how to corral that ever-more-elusive customer.

We seek out experts who bludgeon us with buzzwords like “ecosystem,” “community” and “continuum,” or chastise us for selling “products” instead of “experiences,” and damn few of them, too.

Peloton will sell you a 135-pound bike that goes nowhere for $1,995, then charge you a subscription fee of $39 per month for one year to ride it while staring into a monitor. That may be one hell of an experience, but it sounds more like exercise to me.

And I always hated gym class, with its jockstraps and Desenex and bewhistled authority figures hollering all the time.

Fly like an (AMC) Eagle. For me the most memorable experiences are to be found outdoors, where my parents told me to go whenever I was being a pain in the ass, which was most of the time, and still is.

I liked it outdoors. I still do. But it’ll take more than MarketSpeak® to sell that experience to strangers when even family isn’t buying.

Maybe we’ll get some relief once Silicon Valley gets bored with “smart” SUVs and self-driving cars and starts focusing on the newfangled flying models.

Then again, maybe not. I mean, I’ve seen the way these people drive on the ground.

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the May 15, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Recycled 2: The best of ‘Mad Dog Unleashed’ 2017

December 27, 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 two. Read ’em and weep. Or giggle, or roar, whichever you prefer.

Fresh air (Terry Gross not included).

It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you change the game

“I changed the conditions of the test. …”—Admiral James T. Kirk, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”

By Patrick O’Grady

I was just riding along the other day when my trusty Steelman’s rear tire went soft on me. And without so much as a subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee, mind you.

It’s the sort of thing that makes a guy want to take up golf, which my sources tell me is the new cycling, only with whiter participants, uglier clothing and fewer punctures.

Naturally, I suspected terrorism, the infamous Tribulus terrestris, and immediately considered erecting a wall. But this bike spends most of its time surrounded by four of them, and with a stout lid on top, too. It’s a secure location, which we call “the garage.”

(Cue the crowd, screaming: “Lock it up! Lock it up! Lock it up!”)

Could Devin Nunes have had a hand in this unauthorized leak? The GOP congresscritter has a habit of going places he has no business being to do things he should not be doing, and between you and me I’m not looking forward to screening the security-camera footage.

But it seems unlikely. The only Californian of Portuguese descent I know who might come calling is a retired newsman up Hopland way, a lifelong Democrat, and living as he does on a vineyard he’s even harder to rouse to action than this Nunes bozo.

Lord, how the Koch brothers must regret throwing good money away on that particular tool. They could’ve ordered up a bag of hammers, which would have been cheaper, smarter and useful.

Plus, once you’re done doing whatever with your bag of hammers, you can sell them on eBay. Good luck unloading a used Nunes, at any price.

Psst, you’re a pedestrian. This untimely flat, my first in months, seemed an inauspicious prelude to my annual birthday ride, which was scheduled for the next day.

These expeditions never get any shorter, and so for a variety of perfectly indefensible reasons I quit logging them in miles after 2015. Last year I rode for 62 minutes, which was feeble even by my relaxed standards, and so this year I thought I’d man up a tad and go for 63 kilometers.

There was a time when I considered 63km a suitable warmup for an actual ride. But that was when I still measured my body weight in pounds instead of kilograms.

Tears (of laughter) in heaven. I try not to get too serious about planning these outings, reasoning that (a) man plans, God laughs, and (2) a birthday present should be something of a surprise, even if you’re giving it to yourself.

I really gave it to myself in 2015, when what had been planned as a 61km ride sort of got away from me (there goes God, laughing again) and I wound up doing 61 miles, with only two water bottles and a single tube of strawberry Clif Bloks.

Classify it as just another instance of “I knew it was wrong but I did it anyway.” My longest ride so far that year had been just a hair over 30 miles, but I figured muscle memory would take over once actual memory failed me, and if it all went to hell I could always blame Obama.

Nine-speed or nine holes? Obviously I made it home OK in 2015, and again in ’16—if I hadn’t, this column would have been written by somebody else, probably with more of an emphasis on bicycle retailing and industry news.

But you’ve been bad, and I’ve been lucky, and so here we are again.

This year I was even less well-trained, if you can imagine such a thing. Instead of going for a ride I probably should have tried to shoot a 63 for nine holes. But none of my clothes were ugly enough, my clubs are for correcting editors, and the only thing that’s weaker than my backswing is my frontswing.

So come the big day I struggled into my fading Mad Dog Media team kit, confirmed that the Nobilette had goo-filled tubes in both tires (seal tubes, not borders), undertook a quick visual threat assessment of my secure location for Republican congressmen, and got off to the traditional late start.

Numbers game. I punished myself for months of sloth and torpor by starting and finishing with climbs. Well, kinda. As in life, there was a short, sharp descent to the end.

But in between it was all good. The arm warmers came off, the knickers stayed on, and the Tribulus terrestris stood down, probably because I was carrying two spare tubes, a pump and a cellphone. (These constitute a wall that actually works.)

I’m not saying it was pretty. But it was the kind of ugly I can do something about. Ride longer and more often. Ride up grades instead of buying upgrades. Insist that all the bikes sign loyalty oaths and submit their computers for inspection until we identify the source of the leak.

Either that or I could start measuring these birthday rides in millimeters. Shoot, I figure I can do 64mm off the couch. Maybe even on it.

• Editor’s note v2.0: This column appeared in the April 15, 2017, issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.