All dressed up (flak jacket optional)

January 9, 2015
We got our java on at Mangiamo Pronto in Santa Fe.

We got our java on at Mangiamo Pronto in Santa Fe.

Ah, January. My least favorite month of the year.

“Uncertainty” is the word that best describes the month named for Janus, god of beginnings and transitions. Wikipedia notes that the word has its roots in the Latin ianua (door), and come January it seems one is either slamming on my fingers or ajar and letting the cold air in.

Paychecks invariably arrive late, and I often get purged from the comp-sub list, so not only am I short of cash, I can’t even see what the editors have done to my work.

Do I still have work? The Magic 8-Ball I’m behind says “Outlook good,” but that thing was made in China, so for all I know this means management has traded me to Xinhua for an iPad Pro, a low-interest loan and some dim sum.

There are a few vacancies at Charlie Hebdo, of course. But I’ve forgotten all the French I learned during grade one in Ottawa, and I bet they make the new guy sit with his back to the door.

Happily, even an old, blind dog unearths a Milk-Bone now and then. As on Tuesday, when I got to ride my bike around Santa Fe and Madrid during a photo shoot for the Adventure Cycling Association, which will be unveiling its Bicycle Route 66 early this year.

It was the second round of a two-day shoot with Santa Fe photographer Michael Clark, and the models got java, lunch and American money for their troubles, which were few indeed.

Didn’t need my Saint Laurent flak jacket or nothin’. Just some Adventure Cycling kit, is all. La vie est belle, non?

Pen vs. swords

January 7, 2015

For the killers, on behalf of Stéphane Charbonnier, Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac.

He’s baaaaack. …

January 3, 2015

Bienvenidos, 2015

January 1, 2015


Adios, 2014

December 31, 2014


New job, new house, new roads, new trails — the way from Bibleburg to Duke City has been a long one, but I think we’re finally settling in. Thanks for coming along with us. We look forward to seeing you all again on the other side of midnight.

Gimme a brake

December 29, 2014
The TRP Spyre mechanical disc brake.

The TRP Spyre mechanical disc brake.

I spent a little time in our freezing-cold garage this morning, adjusting the cantilever brakes on my Soma Double Cross, and then said to hell with it and rode the Novara Mazama instead. It’s Monday, Christmas is over, back to work.

The outside wasn’t much warmer than the garage, so I layered up: heavy leg warmers, bib shorts, three long-sleeved jerseys, winter gloves, tuque, shoe covers, etc., et al., and so on and so forth. Then I went exploring, riding unfamiliar streets on an unfamiliar bike.

The brakes on the Mazama are of a higher order than the stoppers on my DC: TRP Spyre mechanical discs. I’ve ridden Avid’s BB5 and BB7, and Hayes CX, but this is my first experience with TRP. A couple hours of gentle cycling on forgiving terrain hardly makes me an expert, but so far, so good. Nice modulation, plenty grippy when you need ‘em to be, and they don’t screech like Ann Coulter when the laundry puts starch in her banana hammock.

I wasn’t asking much of them, I’ll admit. I’d been wanting to check out a couple of the neighborhood roads that have bike lanes attached, so I was riding them uphill and then dropping back to Tramway via a short, swoopy bit of single-track. It being the Monday after Christmas, most folks were doing their work indoors, which meant more trail for me. Yay.

Speaking of trail, someone who should be hitting same is Rep. Steve Scalise (R-You Kiddin’ Me?). The freshly elevated House majority whip claims he had no idea he was addressing a clot of neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other such cuddly types when he spoke to David Duke’s European-American Unity and Rights Organization in 2002. That’s extra-dumb, even by House leadership standards.

His enablers are trying to whitewash (har har) the escapade as an example of poor staff work done on behalf of a then-36-year-old state legislator. Honky please. I knew what Duke was in the Seventies when I was a 20-something reporter and interviewed the sonofabitch over the phone. And I didn’t even ply my trade in Louisiana.

Happily, I still don’t. So it ain’t my cross to bear. Or burn.

Double Crossed

December 28, 2014
Bigger balls or better brakes? Well, I can buy the brakes. ...

Bigger balls or better brakes? Well, I can buy the brakes. …

One of my favorite things in the whole world is the expression on the face of some dude on a double-boinger when he sees a 60-year-old man on a steel cyclo-cross bike preparing to descend the snowy stretch of north-facing single-track he just struggled up.

“Careful, man, it’s slippery back there,” the latest goggle-eyed disbeliever puffed.

“Thanks, I appreciate it,” I replied, and carried on.

Boingy Boy was right, and I took it easy, in part because my old Shimano BR-R550s were working about as well as the 113th Congress (and squealing even more loudly), and in part because the slippery descent was lousy with hikers (another look I enjoy is the one on a hiker’s face when you yield trail to him/her, apparently a rare occurrence in these parts).

Mostly I took it easy because I’ve never descended worth a damn, on road or off it. But I like climbing, even on a cold, snowy day, and as we know, what goes up must come down. So I pretend I know what I’m doing … and pray that the double-boingers don’t turn around to follow me.


St. Nicked

December 26, 2014
Mister Boo enjoys his Christmas chew.

Mister Boo enjoys his Christmas chew.

Christmas has come and gone without incident, mostly.

On Christmas Eve, at the urging of Herself, we streamed “The Interview,” because freedom, and now I consider that freedom owes me about $7 and 112 minutes of my life. Herself only gets about 90 minutes back because she fell asleep before the big denouement.

Come the big day we cooked up a mess o’ U-nited States of America American® vittles, just the way Jeebus likes ‘em (roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy,  stir-fried succotash with edamame, and raspberry cobbler). Later we rang up or emailed various friends and relatives, and parceled out tasty tidbits to all the critters.

The Turk rests up after an exhausting day of sleeping.

The Turk rests up after an exhausting day of sleeping.

We engaged in no elaborate gift-giving. The move to Duke City and the ongoing reconstruction project that is The Six Million Dollar Boo did to our Visa card what Seth Rogen did to Kim Jong-un’s head, but our executive decisions and the consequences thereof have failed to draw the compensatory attention of the White House and the media.

Then it was early to bed — but not to sleep, not right away. Just as we drifted off, The Boo somehow tumbled out of the rack and onto the deck. I leapt from the sack to see whether his sole remaining eye was skittering around the carpet somewhere like a ping-pong ball that had escaped the table.

Nope. No harm, no foul. As Herself clicked on her bedside lamp, there sprawled The Boo, with a slight list to port, peering at me through the Cone of Shame like a dimwitted Soviet cosmonaut who’d forgotten to close the visor on his helmet before launch.

I’ll call that a Christmas gift.

Mia decides to vogue a bit as Herself and I have a bite of lunch.

Mia decides to vogue a bit as Herself and I have a bite of lunch.

Hallelujah, everybody say cheese

December 24, 2014
Merry Christmas from the family.

Merry Christmas from the family.

Herself wished to take a family portrait on Christmas Eve, and as you know, her every wish is my command.

It took some doing — the specter of blood loss kept rearing its ugly head, personified by Turkish, who loathes the paparazzi — but we finally managed to get one shot in which the primates looked vaguely human, at the expense of the menagerie.

The cooperation, as per usual, was at U.N. Security Council levels. The Turk was wondering whether giving me a quick right cross would be worth the consequences (no lap time come evening); Mia was egging him on (“C’mon, do it, y’big pussy!”); and The Boo turned a blind eye (ho ho ho) to the entire endeavor.

Herself, whose idea this was, remained serene as always. Someone has to be the rock around here, and while I have certain millstone-ish properties, these are rarely helpful in moments of crisis like this.

I did manage to trip the shutter, though. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Merry Christmas from the family.


Say it ain’t so, Joe

December 23, 2014
Out near El Malpais National Monument on a shoot for the Adventure Cycling Association.

Out near El Malpais National Monument, “working” as a model during a photo shoot for the Adventure Cycling Association.

I was somewhere near Grants, New Mexico, riding a touring bike for fun and profit, when the word came that Joe Cocker had passed on.

It’s a wonder Joe made it to 70, given the way he lived his early years. John Belushi, who mocked him so well, didn’t last half as long.

And man: “A Little Help From My Friends.” “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window.” Dude out-Beatled the Beatles, is what. “The Letter.” “Delta Lady.” Hoo-lawd, he left it all out there on the stage.

“You Are So Beautiful.” “You Can Leave Your Hat On.” And “Feelin’ Alright.”

“I’m not feeling too good myself,” Joe sang, and he wasn’t kidding. But he had too much to do before he died, and thank whatever gods there are that we got to watch, and listen.

As Pat noted in comments, give our best to Frank, Joe.


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