Posts Tagged ‘Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’

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.

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.”

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?

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 5: From balls to nuts

December 31, 2016

• Editor’s note: As the year winds down, I’m taking a page from the mainstream-media playbook and reprinting a handful of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. Today’s final finger was published in December, the last issue of 2016.

The gang views with alarm in cinematic fashion.

The gang views with alarm in cinematic fashion.

Tour de Trump, v2.0:
Does this president
make our heads look fat?

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

“Stuck In the Middle,” by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan

By Patrick O’Grady

The day after the election a young reader emailed to say he hoped I would have a safe trip to New Zealand, adding, “With any luck we will not hear from you or the Clinton’s ever again.”

I feel confident calling him “young” because we olds know the difference between the plural and the possessive. Public school vs. home school, don’t you know.

As to whether he’s a “reader,” that’s an educated guess. I suppose his mom could have read him my column down in the basement, if he had one. A mom, I mean. Trailers don’t have basements.

But I digress.

Anyway, I’m not moving to New Zealand. Who wants a job herding hobbits? (Apologies to Hurben.) I’ll stay here, brush the fur on my own toes, and wait for the next wizard to pop round.

Mars is out, too. I’ve seen “The Martian” since that last column and I am definitely not into farming with my own poo. Better to sell it to some publisher and spend the proceeds at the Whole Paycheck, where everything is grown in unicorn milk and honey.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

Greatest Hits of 2016, Part 2: Brown Dog sleeps

December 28, 2016

• Editor’s note: As the year winds down, I’m taking a page from the mainstream-media playbook and reprinting a handful of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. This one was published in the April 15 edition.

Jim Harrison laid his Jim Hancock on my copy of "Warlock," though it was not among his favorite works.

Jim Harrison laid his Jim Hancock on my copy of “Warlock,” though it was not among his favorite works.

Brown Dog sleeps,
and a Mad Dog
tries to wake him

Just start at page one and write like a son of a bitch.—Jim Harrison, asked if he had any advice for younger writers, in a 1986 interview with Jim Fergus for the Paris Review

By Patrick O’Grady

You won’t find many bicycles in the works of Jim Harrison. He had bigger fish to fry.

In his essay “Log of the Earthtoy Drifthumper” Harrison recalled riding “a balloon-tire Schwinn 128 miles in one day in reaction to horses and cars.”

And in his first “Brown Dog” novella he wrote briefly and sardonically of a cyclist named Brad who pulled a bicycle from his van “and dressed up a bit goofy in black, shiny stretch shorts, a helmet, goggles and special shoes.”

Brown Dog observed: “He was a real ox and I asked him what the bike set him back and he said a thousand dollars. I was not inclined to believe the figure and I said for that amount they should throw in a motor. He said, ‘Ha-ha,’ asked directions and rode off at top speed on the dirt road, farting like a bucking horse.”

Brad comes to a bad end, breaking a leg in a collision with some elderly ATV riders. And I suspect both Brown Dog and his creator enjoyed a soupçon of schadenfreude at his undoing.

Harrison was a walker, an outdoorsman, and a bear for paying close attention, often quoting Zen teacher Taisen Deshimaru: “You must concentrate upon and consecrate yourself wholly to each day, as though a fire were raging in your hair.”

This tight focus is particularly useful when you’re thundering along at full tilt, as Brad reminds us.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

Greatest Hits of 2016: A Nobel cause

December 27, 2016

• Editor’s note: As the year winds down, I’m taking a page from the mainstream-media playbook and reprinting a handful of this year’s “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News. This one was published in the Jan. 1 edition.

Chez Dog, now under new management.

Chez Dog, now under new management.

Nobel? No way! Prizing
bicycle people and that
peaceful, easy feeling

“And I know you won’t let me down.” — Jack Tempchin, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”

By Patrick O’Grady

The bedside clock showed 4:20 when I woke, and I thought groggily, “Yes, please.”

It was in the realm of possibility, after all. I was in Colorado, where 420 is not just a time of day, but a state of mind.

Unfortunately, instead of stoned, I was merely rocky, awake far too early in an undistinguished hotel after a backbreaking week spent emptying and cleaning our old house for its new owners.

A little of the old whacky-tobacky might have been just what the doctor ordered for this extended hump down memory lane, which had caused me to set aside my lucrative professional career (making stuff up) for the low-rent amateur gigs of my youth (cleaning other people’s real estate and lugging their possessions around in a van).

I had brought a bike along with me from New Mexico, but this was a bit of wishful thinking on a scale that abandoned simpleminded optimism for the rarified heights of blithering idiocy.

We’re talking December here, in Colorado Springs, with leaden skies, a bitter wind and icy roads. And with the wife minding the store back in the Duke City, there was simply too much work for one person to do before our real-estate deal went down.

So the only cycling I did during the entire trip was in Albuquerque — first, to the rental outfit to pick up a big white Chevy Express van, and then home again when I dropped it off. Seven miles total. Half of it downhill.

>> Click here to read the entire column.

Rest day

November 21, 2016
The Irish should not be entrusted with any technology more advanced than the hoe and wheelbarrow.

The Irish should not be entrusted with any technology more advanced than the hoe and wheelbarrow.

Looks like I picked a good day to ignore the news in favor of fiddling with the dark corners of GarageBand (yeah, take cover, you might have to endure another podcast before much longer).

The homepage of The New York Times looks like the mounts of all Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse shat on it in a driving rain, which oddly enough is what we’re experiencing at the moment here in Duke City. The rain, not the horseshit, though that can be had aplenty too, if I am not otherwise occupied, which I am.

Even Charles P. Pierce is starting to make me nervous. When the headline is “Saddened, Angry, Sickened, Defeated,” it’s a solid tip that the guffaws will be few and far between.

Me, I’m just glad I don’t have any pressing deadlines. It was tough to bring the funny for the final Bicycle Retailer of 2016, and while delving into the mysteries of GarageBand is giving me a headache, it is in a largely unused corner of what remains of my brain.

 

Stop the machine

November 15, 2016
Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Around and around and around we go, and where we stop, nobody knows.

Sometimes you have to start the machine to stop it.

The ticking in my head seemed a little ominous today, so after I finished a “Shop Talk” cartoon for Bicycle Retailer, consulted with a few colleagues, and walked The Boo, I stepped away from the Mac for a short, “fast” cyclocross ride, in which “fast” was in comparison to, oh, I don’t know — continental drift?

Anyway, it was a beautiful afternoon, nearly everyone I encountered seemed to be in a good mood for no good reason, and as a skull-flusher I recommend it to you without hesitation. The world will still be there when you get back.

As my man Garrison Keillor says, “politics is not everything. Life goes on.”

Unless you’re Mose Allison, that is. Goddamn. He’s left me with my mind on vacation and my mouth working overtime.

 

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.