Posts Tagged ‘Charles Pelkey’

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.

Ready, AIM, fired

October 6, 2017

AIM, the groundbreaking instant-messenger service from AOL, will be buried on Dec. 15, 2017.

I relied heavily on AOL when I went freelance back in 1991, and used its instant messenger religiously once it became a thing. It was lots cheaper than long-distance calls on our landline — remember those? — and thus the far-flung crew that assembled the Boulder-based journal of competitive cycling whose name eludes me relied upon it to stay in touch from their various corners of the globe.

Today, the only person I still “chat” with via AIM is Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey, a PC geek. Most of my chat pals these days are Mac users, and we stay in touch via Apple’s Messages app or simple texts.

And when it comes to assembling the fake news, your modern rumormonger uses an entirely different toolbox, as John Branch of The New York Times explains.

Any number of alternatives to AIM sprang up over the years, but I expect the main suspect in this murder most foul is Facebook. Just one more reason to steer clear of that outfit.

A eulogy for AIM from Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic.

Ice, ice, baby

June 29, 2017

I’ve shot this road before. It drops from near the Michial Emery trailhead to the Tramway bike path.

I’ve been preparing for this year’s (Not the) Tour de France with a series of short rides.

Trail 366, which leads to the Elena Gallegos picnic area.

This is a refreshing change of pace from the usual mad dash to figure out who’s who, and what’s what, and how in bloody ‘ell can I help Charles Pelkey make three weeks in July funny just one more time, please, God and Baby Jesus!

Whoof. ‘Scuse me, got carried away there.

Anyway, short rides, as I said. On road and off. Nine-speed drop-bar bikes and bar-end shifters, because that’s how I roll.

Work reared its ugly head today, but I punched it right between the horns and went for a damn’ ride.

This is probably why our refrigerator committed suicide. It thought I had lost my work ethic and it couldn’t face a world in which it was not filled to the gunwales with lean pork products, fresh vegetables and ice cream.

I went straight down to Home Depot and ordered up a replacement. And tomorrow I’m going on another damn’ ride.

• Late update: I forgot to mention that yesterday was Wild Kingdom Day. In just under two hours on the bike I saw one deer, one coyote and a metric shit-ton of quail. What’s with the quail this year? And nary a buzzworm so far this summer. ‘Course, now that I’ve said that, I’ll probably have to bunny-hop one today.

It’s over!

June 23, 2017

Go home, Fatso, you’re drunk.

Following in the tricksy footsteps of sneaky newsmakers everywhere, we hereby present your Friday Bad News Dump:

Live Update Guy will not be calling this year’s Tour de France.

LUG-in-Chief Charles Pelkey and I have mulled it over a time or two — should we stay or should we go? — and the simple truth of it is we’re both busy and tired and three weeks of following Le Tour would leave us only more so on both fronts.

There’s a chance we might pop up guerrilla-style to do an epic mountain stage, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

It’s been fun, and p’raps some day it will be fun again. Maybe when the robots take over.

Vuelta a Voodoo

July 1, 2016
No, this isn't deep in the Amazonian jungle. This is Trail 341, just west of the non-bikeable wilderness.

No, this isn’t deep in the Amazonian jungle. This is Trail 341, just west of the non-bikeable wilderness.

The first ride of July is in the bag — 90 minutes on the trails surrounding the Elena Gallegos Open Space — and now I will shun the singletrack until the Fourth of July weekend is over. From now until Tuesday morning the trails will look like the aisles at Interbike on day one.

I was rocking the old Voodoo Nakisi with slightly overinflated tires to avoid pinch flats and rolls (I really need wider rims) and despite my best efforts managed to (a) keep the rubber side down, and (2) avoid centerpunching a small flock of early-bird weekenders.

Tomorrow Counselor Pelkey and I commence coverage of Le Tour over to Live Update Guy. We struggled mightily with the notion of cranking up the NRRBBB® Machine again — frankly, I was advocating a LUG-free July — but in the end we decided to bite that big yellow bullet and see if it blows our heads off. See you there.

Solo break

May 28, 2016
Can't see the forest for the trees.

Can’t see the forest for the trees.

I was all on my oddy knocky for today’s penultimate stage at the Giro d’Italia. Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey had to dash off to the Wyoming state Democratic convention, which was being held in a Prius in Rock Springs, so Your Humble Narrator was flying solo.

And quite a stage it was, too. If you missed the call you can read back on it here.

Chazbo will be back tomorrow for the big finale, and then we will both be off to other pursuits for a bit. I think he’s committed to doing one final Tour. Me, I think I should be committed.

 

Well, well, well. …

May 27, 2016
"There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don'tcha know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day."

“There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day.”

Charles “Live Update Guy” Pelkey and I were discussing anniversaries the other day, and I was reminded that I’ve been working in my chosen profession for nearly 39 years now; 40, if you count the time I spent as a copy boy at the Colorado Springs Sun back in 1974.

No wonder I fail to amuse myself now and then.

This week was one of those times. Mornings spent working the Giro at Live Update Guy. Back-to-back ship dates at Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, which meant I had to crank out two “Mad Dog Unleashed” columns and two “Shop Talk” cartoons in two weeks. And two bike reviews ongoing for Adventure Cyclist. Thousands and thousands of words.

There are harder ways to earn your biscuits and beans — for example, maglia rosa Steven Kruijswijk went ass over teakettle into a snowbank coming off the Cima Coppi in today’s Giro stage — but nevertheless, now and then it feels very much like work.

Other things take a back seat. Cooking (lots of cold suppers lately). Chores (you should see the laundry pile). Cycling (I went for a 45-minute run yesterday because I was sick of bicycles).

And this blog, of course.

In “A Moveable Feast,” Ernest Hemingway wrote of a line he refused to cross:

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

I’m no Hemingway. I don’t write novels, or short stories; I don’t even do journalism anymore, not really. More of a rumormonger, actually.

But still, damn. I look in the bottom of the well lately and all I see are rusty pesos, a couple of dead silverfish, and … and. …

Say, is that the bullet that killed Vince Foster down there?

Feeling the Bern’d out

May 21, 2016
Miss Mia Sopaipilla enjoys making a cave out of the coverlet on our bed.

Miss Mia Sopaipilla enjoys making a cave out of the coverlet on our bed.

Faugh. I think I have myself a medium-light sinus infection going on here. Just the ticket for a fella staring down a whole passel of deadlines.

Herself went downtown to catch Bernie’s act last night when he visited Duke City, but I stayed home and hit the sack early. The Giro d’Italia is ongoing, and I like to log in six-ish at Live Update Guy to give Charles Pelkey some immoral support (he’s generally been on since 3 a.m. or thereabouts).

As it happens, I was up around 5 ’cause I felt more or less like I’d been et by a coyote and shit off a smallish cliff. Blaugh.

The Giro has been … interesting. Maybe things would have turned out differently had the stage-9 ITT not been something of a swim leg, but to this point none of the big GC boyos has really taken hold, perhaps in part because the race is so keister-heavy, with most of the action coming in the final week.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) was briefly flummoxed today, but bounced back. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) followed the wheels all day until suddenly he couldn’t. And now Estebán Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) and Steven Kruiswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo) are looking very good indeed, as are Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing), George Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Dimension Data).

What is not looking so good is the Tip Jar. Earnings are way down from the 2015 Giro, and it could be that we’ve finally just worn out our welcome. Either that or we need some new wrinkles, and not just the ones in our faces, either. Auuuggghhh.

 

 

 

Big stone(s)

April 10, 2016
Mat Hayman got the flowers in Roubaix. A fine ride indeed, but he can't have these. They're mine. And I didn't have to bounce over no cobbles to get 'em, either.

Mat Hayman got the flowers in Roubaix. A fine ride indeed, but he can’t have these. They’re mine. And I didn’t have to bounce over no cobbles to get ’em, either.

Mat Hayman (Orica-GreenEdge) took the flowers at Paris-Roubaix, and well done indeed.

Dude was in the break, riding his 15th Hell of the North, and just barely got ‘er done in front of four-time winner Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) and Ian Stannard (Sky).

Charles Pelkey and I called the race at Live Update Guy, and I’ll congratulate myself for mentioning Hayman as a man to watch.

OK, so I also have to take the rap for saying I thought he was doing too much work to win. But still.

Meanwhile, poor ol’ Fabian Cancellara (Trek) intercoursed the penguin on the Roubaix velodrome, dumping it while riding with a Swiss flag. That had to sting.

 

LUG-Roubaix: Behind the scenes

April 5, 2016