h o m e 't o o n s w o r d s c a m s t u f f 'c r o s s
By Patrick O'Grady

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  Heard a Robert Earl Keen tune, "Merry Christmas from the Family," this morning. KRCC, the local NPR affiliate, delights in presenting oddball holiday tunes, and this one certainly fit the bill. The lyrics are below, but try to get your local station to play the bugger, 'cause it's well worth a listen. Plus he's apparently sponsored by Shiner Bock. So how can you go wrong?

Merry Christmas from the Family
by Robert Earl Keen

Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk
At our Christmas party
We were drinkin' champagne punch
And homemade eggnog
Little sister brought her new boyfriend
He was a Mexican
We didn't know what to think of him
Til he sang Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad

Brother Ken brought his kids with him
The three from his first wife Lynn
And the two identical twins
From his second wife MaryNell
Of course he brought his new wife Kaye
Who talks all about AA
Chain smokin' while the stereo plays
Noel, Noel, The first Noel

Carve the turkey, turn the ball game on
Mix Margaritas when the eggnog's gone
Send somebody to the Quik-Pak store
We need some ice and an extension cord
A can of bean dip and some Diet Rite
A box of tampons and some Marlboro Lights
Hallelujah, everybody say cheese
Merry Christmas from the family

Fran and Rita drove from Harlingen
I can't remember how I'm kin to them
But when they tried to plug their motorhome in
They blew our Christmas lights
Cousin David knew just what went wrong
So we all waited on our front lawn
He threw the breaker and the lights came on
And we sang Silent Night
Oh, Silent Night

Carve the turkey, turn the ballgame on
Make Bloody Marys 'cause we all want one
Send somebody to the Stop 'n Go
We need some celery and a can of fake snow
A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprite
A box of tampons and some Salem Lights
Hallelujah, everybody say cheese
Merry Christmas from the family

Feliz Navidad.

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  The gang at VeloNews just forwarded me a snail-mail letter to the editor from some clown who clearly needed the better part of quite some time to sound out all the big words in the annual O'Grady Awards, which can be found in the ass-end of the December issue:

  Beats me what this fool is jabbering about. Hope it's not something drippy that I caught from his mom.

  I love the way these dimbulbs assume that anyone who thinks Dubya is a poorly formed hood ornament on capitalism's FascistMobile is a large-D Democrat, no more than a genital wart on the American body politic. This is due, no doubt, to the substandard education they received as children riding the little bus to school. They waddle into a voting booth, hunt for the "R," one of the few letters they can recognize, and start pulling levers. I think I've voted for two Democratic presidential candidates in my entire life -- George McGovern in 1972 (the alternative being Richard Nixon) and the astoundly inept Al Gore in 2000 (because with the prospect of Dubya in the White House -- an Alfred E. Neuman hand puppet with Dick Cheney's arm jammed up his arse, jacking his jaws -- it was no time to be backing a third-party dark horse).

  Any more, you have to wonder whether anyone who seeks the job should be denied it, on general principle. And not just the presidency, but any of the main gigs in DeeCee. Maybe we need a draft -- not for the Army, but for government. Everybody's SSN goes into the big hopper, and if yours gets pulled, shazam: You're a senator, a representative, or God help you, the president. Hey, it couldn't be any worse than what we've got now. Shuffle the deck fast enough and maybe Big Business will have more trouble marking the cards.

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  Got stuck behind the dread Driverless Cadillac today en route to Wild Oats for some chow. You know the one: the apparently pilotless hunk of Detroit iron weaving along from curb to curb at a blistering 10 or so mph. There is a driver, of course. She's just about a thousand years old, looks something like Gollum and needs a periscope to see over the dashboard of her 10-ton land yacht. These midget bluehairs were the bane of my existence when I lived in Arizona, where the desert warmth draws them like hot horseshit does flies. You could track their progress from a distance by watching panicked cyclists and pedestrians as they dove for the ditches.

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  My man Paul Krugman at The New York Times puts the wood to the Busheviks again, while they're still chortling over netting Saddam. Maybe we could talk him into running as Dean's veep in '04? Naw, he's better off where he is, pointing out that not only does the emperor have no clothes, he's also hung like a hamster.

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  You can't beat this Colorado weather. On Saturday, I was freezing my whatsis off on an hourlong run through the Wet Mountains with my pal Hal; on Sunday, I was raking leaves and watering the lawn in shorts and a sleeveless T; and today, I was shoveling snow in full winter kit. Good day for brewing a giant vat of beef vegetable soup, which is next in line behind another project that involves taking the office back a few years in time, technologically speaking. The cheap USB scanner I bought to use with the Pismo when we moved here sucks, so I fetched my old SCSI scanner back from Weirdcliffe, which means the Wall Street now becomes my "desktop" PowerBook and the Pismo becomes the "mobile" 'Book. All the laptops now have wireless cards, which oddly enough solved the Spousal Unit's wireless-connectivity issues with her piece-of-shit Dell Latitude. Seems Windoze machines don't like connecting wirelessly to ADSL modems that also have a PowerBook Ethernetted to them, is all I can figure. Once we pulled the plug on the Wall Street, shazam: The worthless bugger found the wireless hookup just like a real computer.

  On a completely unrelated matter, it sucks to be Saddam, eh? From the palace to the pothole in one easy lesson. Getting "shot while attempting to escape" is going to be the best deal he can hope for. We could probably pay off the Iraqi debt just by running a lottery: $5 a ticket and the winner gets to light Saddam up and then piss him out. If there's a moral here, it's, "Don't let your mouth write a check that your ass can't cash." That goes for you, too, Georgy Girl. If I had bailed on the National Guard tour that kept my rich, dumb ass out of Vietnam, then spent 9/11 frantically jetting around the country from one hidey-hole to another instead of heading straight back to DeeCee to show a little class in the job the Supreme Court gave me, I'd feel a little less eager to publicly question the size of another guy's cojones. But then Saddam is in the joint in Bagdad, and Dubya is in the White House behind a wall of Secret Service, so he probably feels pretty chipper, maybe even like's he's got a pair. For a numbnuts who'd be Commander-in-Chief of a Fryolater in Midland, Texas, if it weren't for his daddy, this guy talks more shit than Chinese radio.

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  There's a little streak of redneck lurking in everyone who ever lived in Texas, including me, and gawdammit, Bubba, when you want y'se'f some chicken-fried steak and cream gravy, what you want is some chicken-fried steak and cream gravy, know what I'm sayin'? And mashed potatoes with a lake of gravy you could water ski in at dead center and some sort of green vegetable, preferably green beans, so you can pretend you're eating right. What I had at Phantom Canyon tonight was more like the thumb of a catcher's mitt, with the catcher's thumb still in it. I flagged the waitron down to send the godawful thing back and she could have cared less, like it happens all the time, which may go a long way toward explaining why the place was three-quarters empty on a Wednesday night. She breezily recommended the pot roast, which was OK if you like big chunks of meat reminiscent of a dog-food commercial slathered in brown gravy out of a 55-gallon drum from Christ knows where. Happily, the 10th-anniversary black ale was drinkable, about like New Belgium's 1554 Brussels Style Black Ale. Next time around I'll go for the Irish seven-course meal, which is six beers and a potato.

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  This just in from the What a Bunch of Bush-it Department: The prez did everything but drop to his knees and give communist robot Wen Jiabao a hummer today, warning Taiwan to stop acting as though it thinks it's, like, a real country with unrigged elections and stuff. Seems we're only interested in pushing freedom on folks without noo-cue-lur weapons. But you knew that. Meanwhile, Al Gore, the hapless rabbit who let the Texas turtle scuttle past him in the last presidential election, has passed his bunny-eared clown hat over to Howard Dean, harelipping nearly everyone in the party except for ol' Howard. Myself, if I were getting a thumbs-up from someone, I'd like the gesture to involve a thumb that didn't spend most of 2000 up its owner's ass, thanks all the same. I'd love to know just what the hell Al is working on here. A comeback in '08? Jerking the red carpet out from under Hillary, who has been making noises like a candidate of some sort lately? Or is he simply purring like a big, fat cat after more than a year of extended stroking from the guy who is looking more and more like a mortal lock for the Democratic nomination?

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  Let us all take a moment during this holiday season to shed a tear for poor Rush Limbaugh, the fascist dope fiend whose radio jabberwocky constitutes aural pollution worthy of a SuperFund cleanup. After the issuance of a few warrants alleging that the Fat Man was rotating doctors to keep his prescription-drug use flying under the medical radar — a practice I first read about in William Burroughs' book "Junky" about a thousand years ago — his shyster, Roy Black, who must've graduated summa cum lousy from the Close Cover Before Striking Institute of Studying Law at Home in Your Spare Time, pops up with this stunning bit of idiocy: "Unfortunately, because of Mr. Limbaugh's prominence and well-known political opinions, he is being subjected to an invasion of privacy no citizen of this republic should endure. Why is Rush Limbaugh the only person treated like this in America?" Puh-leeze, Roy-Bob. If Mr. Limbaugh were a black janitor in Watts instead of a rich white guy in South Florida, he'd already be working on his pen-and-ink tattoo collection in the graybar hotel instead of jabbering bullshit on a national radio hookup.

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  OK, anybody out there still believe a word the Bush administration has to say about anything? For the two or three of you who still don't get it, clap your peepers on this story from The Washington Post. Seems the golden-brown turkey that the Chickenhawk-in-Chief was "serving up" to the grunts during his in-and-out trip to Baghdad was a centerpiece. A work of art. In other words, not for eating. The troops were getting their gobbler off the steam tables, just like always. Youve got to hand it to the spin doctors running this outfit. With the collaboration of the hacks, nitwits and clock-watching time-servers in the major media, they've made an art form out of being completely full of shit to the sideburns.

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  Damn, I sure am glad Russia and the United States didn't get sucked into the Kyoto protocol by all that global-warming hoopla. It's been in the 50s and 60s here in Colorado for the past couple of weeks, and I can ride in shorts and a short-sleeved jersey. So what if every ski hill under 4,625 feet turns into unsellable real estate that dries up and blows away in the first strong wind? That means more Euro-trash and yuppie swine motoring along I-70 between DIA and Vail, and while the emissions from their rental Expeditions may smell like carcinogens to a few elderly hippies, it smells like money to the Colorado Industrial Tourism Corridor. And it means I can keep honing the geek-tan on my thighs right through Christmas. God bless us, everyone.

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  Think it's only the left-wing weirdos who have trouble getting their message out these days? Take a squint at how a proponent of the national pastime found himself swinging against the brushback pitches of MediaNews Group by reading this Bill Moyers piece at The Nation. The story aired Feb. 28 on Moyers's PBS show, "Now," and a friend told me about it as we stumbled across each other on our respective solo bike rides this past Sunday.

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  Well, well, well. It seems the next stop on Dubya's Rolling Blunder Tour is right here, today, in Bibleburg. The Conman-in-Chief will be paying a call on Fort Carson, and the local antiwar crowd is planning a protest along Academy Boulevard near the B Street entrance to the post. Ordinarily, I wouldn't dream of skipping such a prime opportunity to flip the old banana at the Smirking Chimp in person ... but Fort Carson has lost 27 soldiers in the Busheviks' democracy lab in Iraq, and it just doesn't feel right to act the fool in front of their next of kin, friends and comrades. Dubya won't see it, anyway, and God knows he won't read about it in the paper, unless Condi tells him to.

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  Oh, yeah, I'm a big sissy. There was a 'cross race in Longmont this morning, and where was I? Sprawled in my living-room rocker, gulping hot java and surfing the 'Net with my brand-new wireless hookup and my ancient G3/250 PowerBook G3.

 It snowed lightly last night for the first time this winter, which is not an issue. But it was all of 9 degrees by the time the masters-45 crowd were toeing the start line at Xilinx, if you believed weather.com (which I did, having dashed out for a quick bout of sidewalk-shoveling). And that is an issue. I would rather drill holes in my own skull with a cheap corkscrew than drive from here to there, through Denver's never-ending TRex construction clusterfuck on a home-game Bronco Sunday, on icy roads packed with clueless eejits pirouetting into each other in their SUVs, for the dubious glory of getting my frostbitten Irish ass kicked for 45 minutes. Not when I can lounge around in the old sweats, scorching my thighs with this Stone Age PowerBook and eyeballing pix of the hard men racing in Belgium.

 The Spousal Unit and I eventually scuttled out for a half-hour run through the wind sometime after noon, wearing everything in our respective closets. It wasn't exactly the Belgian thing to do, but then I ain't exactly Bart Wellens, either.

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  We're going to keep 100,000 G.I.s in Iraq through 2006? No wonder you don't hear the Busheviks talking much about Iraq being the size of California any more. Think about this. Asking 100,000 grunts to keep the lid on Iraq, in strictly numerical terms, is like issuing an M-16 to every male resident of Bakersfield over the age of 5 and telling them to keep their fellow Californians from acting the fool, if their fellow Californians spoke a different language, worshiped a different god, packed rocket launchers as sidearms, and didn't have regular access to lattes, wireless hot spots, power, food and water.

  Meanwhile, back in the Land of the Big PX, the FBI is spying on antiwar activists. That comes as particularly welcome news here in Bibleburg, where the local gendarmes tear-gassed the last antiwar rally I attended, and thumped a few folks for good measure. Maybe we can get the feds to arrest a few of these badge-heavy coppers next time we all get together in Palmer Park to sing "Give Peace a Chance," eh? Y'think? Better wear the helmet and gas mask anyway, just in case.

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  Will someone please explain to me why the Numbnuts-in-Chief is taking his Rolling Blunder Tour to Great Britain? I'd want to get out of the country for a bit, too, if I were him — things are not going at all well for Dubya and his clique, and they're even worse for the soldiers carrying out his benighted orders — but Great Britain is the last place I'd pick for a respite from angry people calling me a fascist nitwit.

  Of course, Dubya's not going to be hanging out with any of the hundreds of thousands of noisy critics expected to turn out to protest his three-day state visit. He'll be chillin' with the world-champion welfare mom, Queen Elizabeth II, and Bonny Prince Charlie, if Chucko's not busy elsewhere administering a princely throat swab to a footman. Tony Blair will get an audience with King George as well, which should do wonders for his popularity; many of his countrymen would be delighted to see Bush's poodle put to sleep, politically speaking.

  Whaddaya suppose this little junket costs? I mean, the prez don't fly Ted, if you get my meaning, and he takes more flunkies and gear with him than Liz Taylor and Michael Jackson combined. Think he could sing that same lame Bullshit Serenade right here at home and spend his travel budget on something more worthwhile than a campaign photo op'? What are you, some sort of treasonous, Osama-loving peacenik?

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  Oh yeah, baby, the economy's coming back, big-time ... the one Herbert Hoover took the rap for. According to The Denver Post, more than 25,000 Coloradans filed for bankruptcy last year, up 24.3 percent from the previous year. Ninety thousand jobs down the toilet since December 2000. I always figured all those dudes sleeping under the bridges along the bike path weren't out there for the sheer joy of camping.

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  Be glad you're not an Iraqi, or one of the uncounted numbers of Americans who've lost a family member or friend in Bush's war. The administration that claims to pay no attention to the polls plans to accelerate its handover of power to somebody, anybody, in the country it broke, so that the Chickenhawk-in-Chief can do another aircraft-carrier photo op' just in time for the '04 elections. It seems the neocons' hand-picked stooges in the Iraqi Governing Council — perhaps taking their example from the endlessly campaigning and/or vacationing Dubya himself — have been spending their time traveling abroad and conducting personal business rather than doing any actual governing. And so, unable and unwilling to take the heat, the Bushites want to "streamline the country's transition to democracy," which translates as "get the hell out of the kitchen before it explodes."

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  Is it just my imagination, or has there been a decline in the ostentatious display of American flags, just in time for Veterans Day? You know the ones I'm talking about — the Geo Metro-sized ones flapping from the bed of a Dodge diesel pickup, and the cheap Chinese versions clipped to radio antennas or passenger windows. Could it be that the demise of so many real patriots in the chickenhawks' democracy lab overseas has finally gotten the attention of the armchair warriors back home?

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  "No one saw this coming." a National Public Radio spokesman quoted in the Washington Post.

National Public Radio has received the largest donation in its history, a $200 million cash bequest from the will of the late philanthropist Joan Kroc, widow of the founder of the McDonald's fast-food chain, according to a Post story. The windfall amounts to almost twice NPR's annual operating budget. Seems she liked NPR's coverage of events leading up to the war in Iraq and coverage of the war itself. And before you ask, no, NPR doesn't want fries with that.

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  "One caller said her dad had purposely hit a biker on the road on the way to church one Sunday and kept on going. That got laughs. Bob thought that was funny.Holly N. Proctor, recounting the Sept. 21 and 22 anti-cyclist broadcasts by radio host Bob Dumason on G105, a Clear Channel station in Raleigh, N.C.

  Well, the pootbutts at Clear Channel are at it again. This clever concept first reared its pointy head in San Jose and since has worked its way east through Houston and Cleveland to North Carolina, outraging cyclists, advocates, shop owners and nearly anyone else with an IQ above room temperature. This group, obviously, does not include the lesser primates hooting, masturbating and flinging handsful of their own dung at the unwary from the safety of Clear Channel's various morning zoos.

  Cleveland-area bike dealer Lois Cowan, the Raleigh Area Triathletes and others have launched a campaign to convince CC management that advocating vehicular assault is an unsavory use of the nation's airwaves, clueing the FCC and any number of Clear Channel sponsors in on this running gag, so perhaps we may see something other than chin music from the San Antonio conglomerate's Suits.

  In any case, I sent my own e-mail to the Clear Channel honchos and the FCC, and it's pasted below. If you want to pile on, visit the RATS site for details. And while you're stirring your own personal cauldron of bile and venom, keep in mind that Clear Channel mikes don't invariably sit in front of a slobbering psycho: Some of these folks actually support cycling.


  As a journalist for a quarter-century, I understand that the competition for an audience and advertisers is fierce and growing more so. Having worked for several smallish newspapers owned by large conglomerates, I appreciate that it's difficult for the home office to know everything that's going on throughout the corporate empire. And as a columnist and cartoonist whose meager livelihood is entirely dependent upon the First Amendment, I'm opposed to restricting the free expression of ideas.

  Still, as Oliver Wendell Holmes once noted, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." And if what I read in the newspapers and online is correct, Clear Channel radio personalities from San Jose to Raleigh, North Carolina, have urged listeners since 2001 to swing their automotive fists at bicyclists' noses. I understand this is intended to be funny. It's not, not really -- not to anyone who's been "doored," lost a round of "mirror tag" with an 18-wheeler, or gotten run over.

  I won't waste your time or mine trying to defend every cyclist on the road or trail today. Plenty of us are inconsiderate nitwits. But the majority of us are law-abiding folk who ride as far to the right as is practicable, halt at red lights and stop signs, signal turns, and in general concede that a couple hundred pounds of human and bicycle is no match for a couple tons of auto, even when the cyclist has the right of way.

  This is not just respect for the rule of law, but enlightened self-interest. Cyclists and motorcyclists alike will tell you that there is something about the sight of a two-wheeler that inflames an unfocused rage among certain deeply disturbed segments of the motoring population. Case in point: Though I obey traffic laws while cycling, I have been threatened with fists and firearms, been deliberately run off the road, had beer bottles and other objects thrown at me, and suffered innumerable close calls, minor injuries and destroyed bicycles thanks to motorists who, happily, were not actively homicidal, but merely inattentive.

  I continue to ride, nonetheless. It's fun, when someone's not trying to get you killed, and as a deskbound keyboard-pounder I need the exercise. Plus I'm cantankerous. Tell me to get off the roads and wouldn't you know? That's just where you're certain to find me. Especially since, in Colorado, the law gives cyclists and motorists the same rights -- and the same responsibilities.

  And if the rule of law isn't enough for you, consider enlightened self-interest, the way we two-wheelers do. My cycling friends and I make a point of doing business with companies we like and shunning those we don't. Have you ever seen a 40-something masters racer driving a $50,000 SUV with $10,000 worth of bicycles on the roof rack and thought, "Who needs that guy's money?" I never have. I can hear a dollar bill drop on a shag carpet two counties over, and I bet you can, too.

  So I'd appreciate it if you could pass the word to the on-air troops that vehicular assault isn't the thigh-slapper some of them think it is. And if you're stumped for amusing ratings-building PR stunts as a consequence, consider ordering the offenders to commute to work via bicycle for a month. Mike 'em and bike 'em.

  I'd tune in for that action.


  Patrick O'Grady

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  Words are women, deeds are men.George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum

  Certain aficionados of the various ball-and-stick games deride cyclists as sissified, hurling epithets at us as they motor past en route to some tax-funded park dedicated to their particular pasatiempos.

  But when the temperatures abruptly plummet after a week of unseasonable record-setters, whom do you see out of doors, relentlessly pursuing their leisure activity of choice? Dog-walkers, who know from bitter experience that Fido will pinch one off on the Berber if they don't bundle up and brave the weather, and cyclists, who fear nothing in the universe outside of logging a fat goose egg in the old training diary. The ball-and-stick sorts are huddled on their living-room couches in front of the One Big Eye, watching someone else play games while chasing bad food with worse beer. They will die young, stumbling toward a bad-hop grounder or lumbering after a wobbly, overthrown pass. Remember this the next time one of the fat bastards honks at you, and smile.

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  The great advantage of a hotel is that it's a refuge from home life.George Bernard Shaw, You Never Can Tell, Act II

  Old George got many a thing right. A hotel, and the road trip that takes you there, is the time out that gives domesticity time to catch its breath.

  I hadn't had a road trip of any significance all year, so Interbike was welcome as a diversion from the same-ol' same-ol', as I am a dog at large by nature and by nurture. Plus, as a guy who gets his beer money by trying to amuse and/or enrage a smallish national audience, I feel a duty to get out there and ramble, shake the trees, see what falls out. As John Steinbeck noted in Travels with Charley:

"I, an American writer, writing about America, was working from memory, and the memory is at best a faulty, warpy reservoir."

  Especially when you fill it with Scotch.

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  Interbike 2003: Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

  "What is it, exactly, that you do do?"Madeline Kahn to Teri Garr in "Young Frankenstein"

  OK, OK, so I screwed the pooch on filing salient updates from the show. Sue me. It happens every year, yet somehow both you and I continue to be surprised. At least one of us got to drink a buttload of free Scotch.

  To be honest, I could give a rat's ass about Interbike and its endless parade of toys. I'm as backward technologically as an Iraqi sand flea and have an abnormally low tolerance for MarketSpeak®, so I'm essentially useless as a "cycling journalist" under the best of conditions, and being all Scotched up doesn't enhance my value.

  Hey, I like riding bikes, not hearing marketing poofs jabber about them (although I did enjoy hearing Bianchi's Sky Yeager call her scandium 'cross bike "Scrotium" or "Scrotumium" or some such). Sky is the best sort of industry person, someone who will toss a pair of pedals back at an astonished Outdoor Demo rider who has just tossed them to her, explaining, "I'm not your pedal bitch," then tell the working press about the look on the sucker's face. Ho, ho.

  I don't know why Bicycle Retailer & Industry News keeps sending me, frankly. It costs them a little something in terms of American money and heartache, since all I do is wander around the show floor, chatting up old pals, pissing off the advertisers and drinking $18 snifters of Gaelic sidewalk-softener on the company dime. Oh, sure, I draw a few cartoons for the Show Daily, but I don't have to actually be in Vegas to do that, any more than I have to be in Frogland to scribble something filthy about Le Tour.

  I'm not even sure that the show itself has much value, in purely business terms, to anyone except Interbike and its owners. The big boys do their own traveling road shows to fill the bike shops in on the latest and greatest, and plenty of IBDs had '04 product on the shop floor before the first Teamster hauled the first crate into the Sands Convention Center. Many of my favorite people no longer attend, for one reason or another, and I might give it a miss, too, if I had to pay my own way, especially where the Scotch is concerned.

  But that might be a mistake. Maybe Interbike's real worth is as the annual Gathering of the Tribes — a reminder that, in a nation of motorists whose homicidal impulses regarding two-wheelers are massaged daily by Clear Channel yammerheads, we are not alone. We have comrades. Somebody else gets it.

  Especially that Scotch tab.

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  Interbike 2003: You gotta play hurt

  That food was so bad, I can't wait for it to become a turd and leave me.Thomas McGuane

  Made it to Vegas, checked into our non-Strip digs, and dashed next door to the Z'Tejas Grill for a snack and a couple of drams of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. As usual, things quickly went downhill from there. Matt Wiebe, John Crenshaw and Ben Delaney from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News joined me before I'd finished the first one, and before you could say "expense account," we had moved to the Gordon Biersch Brewing Company on Paradise for some appallingly lame beer and tasteless vittles with still more BRAIN-trusters and other assorted dignitaries.

  This subpar trough-gobbling necessitated a bit of palate-cleansing, for which Scotch is admirably suited, so it was off to Ruth's Chris Steak House, where the bartender recognized us from last year and smiled hugely, thinking no doubt that her A6 payment for the next few months was as good as in the bank.

  This sort of behavior makes morning show up early and ugly, so it was no surprise that I feld a tad sluggish wandering around the Outdoor Demo today in my Mad Dog kit with a pair of Egg Beaters, looking for bikes to ride. I found one — the Bianchi Concept Cross, which gets a carbon-fiber rear end for 2004 — and lazed around the No. 1 cross-country loop trying not to fall over. Nice bike, very stable and plenty light. Sky Yeager, who also got cruelly overserved last night, said hers runs in the 18-pound range, and I'll tell you more about it later, as I have seen earlier versions of this bike in front of me at the 'crosses in Colorado this season. But right now here comes freakin' Wiebe from a full day in the dust at the Demo, and he's sunburnt and battered and looking thirsty....

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  Interbike 2003: Westward ho!

  I can't complain but sometimes I still do/Life's been good to me so far.Joe Walsh

  Life's been good to some folks, for sure. Joe. Arnold. The guy I saw on I-40 in Arizona, driving the bus towing the Hummer towing the trailer carrying the four motorcycles. But it has not been nice to me in the runup to this year's Interbike trade show in Las Vegas.

  For starters, the good truck took a costly infarction two days before departure, so rather than pony up the dead presidents required to get it rolling, I'm driving the White Tornado, a 1983 4WD Toyota longbed with a solid front axle, a bench seat and a dysfunctional CD player. Torquemada would have sentenced heretics to long road trips in the White Tornado, if he'd had one.

  To add insult to injury, Second Street Brewery in Santa Fe was out of IPA when I rolled through town, just in time for lunch. Happily, Mogollon had plenty on hand when I hit Flagstaff for dinner. But it is a long, thirsty haul from Fanta Se to Flag in a 20-year-old truck with no musical alternatives once NPR fades to static and the Christian caterwauling takes over the left side of the dial.

  This morning it's off to Sin City via Bullhead City, a descent into Hell that will have me hanging my head out the window and panting like the dog that I am, for among the White Tornado's many other shortcomings is a lack of air conditioning. But the sonofabitch rolls like a California recall. More as it develops.

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  Governor Schwarzenegger. Good God. You bozos deserve whatever happens to you. We should chisel the entire state of California off the body of the Benighted States of America and send it sailing out to sea.

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  Another tragedy strikes the high-tech industry: The Segway scooter gets all dizzy when its battery gets low and topples over like a wino with a skinful of fresh squeeze, according to The New York Times. At long last, conclusive proof of Fudd's Law. First outlined on The Firesign Theater's "We're All Bozos On This Bus," Fudd's Law states: "If you push something hard enough, it will fall over." Now that we have empirical evidence that Fudd was on the right track, let's all try pushing hard on the Bush administration.

0 9 | 2 1 | 2 0 0 3

  "You're entering a world of pain, son." That was John Goodman in "The Big Lebowski," just before threatening a fellow bowler with a handgun and reworking a 'Vette with a crowbar. But he might have been talking about yesterday's Brecktobercross, where I felt like a crowbarred 'Vette and would have kissed ol' John on the lips if he'd been kind enough to shoot me.

  I hadn't raced in nearly three years, so a nordic-center cyclo-cross at 9800 feet was probably not the ideal venue for a comeback. But I had a free hotel room, thanks to the Spousal Unit's relentless accumulation of Holiday Inn points, and the Breckenridge Brewery is mere minutes from the course, so I figured it beat chasing myself around Monument Valley Park for an hour.

  Well, yes and no. I got to see a whole bunch of folks I haven't seen in a good, long while, and several of them aimed hands in my direction to shake one of mine, rather than punch me, which is always a pleasant surprise. But many of them subsequently rode quickly away from me, once Dean Crandall said, "Go," as though I had slipped them a palmful of smelly Limburger or a Bush-Cheney 2004 leaflet.

  I'm not big on numbers, being more of a word guy, but I thought it would be interesting to chart the different efforts demanded by a cyclo-cross training ride and an actual race, so I strapped a heart-rate monitor on for an hour of brisk training on Thursday here in Bibleburg, at just shy of 7,000 feet, and again on Saturday for the 49-minute race. Average training HR: 150 bpm. Average racing HR, futilely chasing Lee Waldman: 169 bpm. The lesson to be learned here is this: Do not chase Lee Waldman. Instead, have John Goodman shoot him, along with the five guys in front of him.

  Actually, seventh -- as close to the middle of a 14-man pack as you can get -- ain't bad for a 49-year-old wino who hasn't pinned on a number since late 1999. I started at the back, and got to pass a few people, and never got lapped or fell over, unlike the poor Cat. 3 I later saw do a header on the soft buttonhook turn leading to the short paved section. And it seems like no matter what shape I'm in, I always end up racing Lee Waldman, so it all felt very comfortable and familiar and I couldn't imagine why I had stayed away for so long.

  But it definitely was a world of pain. So, John, call me. If Hollywood ever palls, I have work for you.

0 8 | 2 2 | 2 0 0 3

  A joke from a fellow traveler in the bicycle industry:

  A man died and went to heaven. As he stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he saw a huge wall of clocks behind him. He asked, "What are all those clocks?"

  St. Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. Every time you lie, the hands on your clock will move."

  "Oh," said the man, "whose clock is that?"

  "That's Mother Teresa's," replied St. Peter. "The hands have never moved, indicating that she never told a lie."

  "And whose clock is that?"

  "That's Abraham Lincoln's clock. The hands have only moved twice, telling us that Abe only told two lies in his entire life."

  The man asked, "Where's President Bush's clock?"

  "It's in Jesus' office," said St. Peter. "He's using it as a ceiling fan."

0 8 | 1 8 | 2 0 0 3

  I've noticed an interesting trend in the hate mail I've been getting lately. Any screed of mine that makes critical mention of Dubya and his storm troopers is derided as "whining." Gosh, what would you call all that right-wing fulmination over Bubba and his relentless knob-polishing? Oh, right, pardon me, how could I have forgotten: That was the "loyal opposition." At least Bubba wasn't trying to screw us all at once. And the body count in his campaigns is still walking around above ground.

0 8 | 0 6 | 2 0 0 3

  There is something epically retarded about riding cyclo-cross in August, amid 90-degree temperatures. Still, with the season coming up in mid-September, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, especially when it inspires so many disbelieving grins from passers-by. So after a half hour of leisurely rolling around Monument Valley Park, picking a course and honing rusty skills, I put in 45 minutes of race-pace training, assuming that the racers in question all have one leg, emphysema and 40-pound Schwinn Varsities. Encountered the Spousal Unit in mid-run and gratefully paused on my final go-round in order to exchange pleasantries and squeegee a quart of sweat from the headrag, which failed to make her warm for my form. Mel Gibson never does this sort of thing. No, he's too busy making off-brand mackerel-snapper Jesus flicks in Aramaic. Well, we all have our crosses to bear.

0 8 | 0 4 | 2 0 0 3

  Shed about five pounds on Saturday by shaving my legs, then rode the 'cross bike Sunday with three Dogs on mountain bikes and one other on a Steelman, my man Michael O'Schenk. The weight loss did not help. If I wasn't sucking Karl's wheel up the single-track, water-barred climbs, I was impeding traffic on the sandy, washed-out descents, blinding all behind me with the smoke from my brake pads. I used to be able to ride these things, back when I had fitness, skills and a functional pair of testes. My one moment of manliness was cleaning the last steep, loose section of the Chutes that leads to Gold Camp Road, in my bailout gear of 36x25. A brace of mountain bikers nodded approvingly as I staggered about, wheezing and honking like an asthmatic gander. O'Schenk had to walk it, but he was fresh back from RAGBRAI, so my KoM triumph (first 'cross bike, second overall) will always have an asterisk next to it.

0 7 | 2 0 | 2 0 0 3

  These updates are coming about as frequently as good news out of Iraq. My bad. The Spousal Unit and I have been doing a little riding together of late, and it's more fun than screeching about how a clique of overconfident crypto-fascists with no military experience decided that knocking over a country would be as easy as queering an election.

  The Spousal Unit does not race (come to think of it, neither do I; at least, not lately), and thus I've come to forget that she does have a competitive streak tucked away somewhere under her Mad Dog jersey. We were riding the bike trail from Monument Valley Park to the north gate of the Air Force Academy and back today when a gaggle of Freds on garbage wagons passed us on the return leg after we'd paused for a couple Honey Stingers and a gulp or two of water. Nice folks, friendly, we exchanged pleasantries but you wouldn't call 'em fitness freaks. Just a group of pals out for a Sunday ride.

  Whatever. I'm rolling, my heart rate is right up there in double digits, and the Spousal Unit smirks at me and says, "Like they're gonna stay in front of us." And off she goes like a shot, scooting around them like a badger on meth. I pass them up and the lead guy says something like, "I guess you were just warming up, huh?" All I can do is laugh, and then click the old Steelman into the big ring. I get her onto a cyclo-cross bike and I'm gonna have trouble keeping up.

0 6 | 0 3 | 2 0 0 3

  There are days where you just know God has it in for your ass. Went on a ride with the wife this afternoon and scored two flats plus a ride home in a hailstorm - the third time this week that I've gotten a ruthless hosing down from on high. Oh, well. It beats catching fire.

0 6 | 0 1 | 2 0 0 3

  Two months have passed since I last jotted down a thought or two in this underused blog, and what a couple of months they've been. We found all those weapons of mass destruction Saddam had, the terrorists are on the run, and every American who wants a job can have one thanks to the third biggest tax cut in history. Aaaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ohhh, Christ, that's funny. Unless you're poor or jobless in America, an Iraqi who didn't spent the last 40 years hiding in Paris, or a woman in Afghanistan.

0 3 | 2 9 | 2 0 0 3

  Maureen Dowd of The New York Time has the stones to ask in public the question I've only been muttering in private, regarding the administration's surprise at the Iraqis' unconventional tactics against an overwhelming force: "Why is all this a surprise again? I know our hawks avoided serving in Vietnam, but didn't they, like, read about it?" You go, girl. Anybody who didn't get his (or her) history from John Wayne movies could have seen this coming ... a few of them did, but they were all in uniform and thus commanded no respect from the chickenhawks running the war from safety in Deecee.

  Think about it for a second: An armored division of the Iraqi Republican Guard, supported by a few squadrons of MiGs, Mi-24 attack helicopters and Tu-95 Bear H bombers, hits the beach at Corpus Christi and commences stomping the local National Guard unit like rats in a shoebox. Who in the land of the free and the home of the brave would criticize the locals for potting the sonsabitches from ambush with deer rifles when they had a chance? Someone gonna rat 'em out to the game warden for failing to wear blaze orange? Puh-leeze.

 The noisiest REMF in the Bush battalion, Donald Rumsfeld, served just three years of active duty as a naval aviator before continuing life as a pogue. The rest of them, barring Colin Powell, must have felt as the anonymous Marine did: "If God wanted me to be a Marine, I would have been born with green, baggy skin." Armchair warriors all. As Dowd notes, "Ideology should not shape facts when lives are at stake."

0 3 | 2 6 | 2 0 0 3

  "Go placidly among the noise and waste,

  And remember what comfort there may be

  in owning a piece thereof."

  - "Deteriorata," by The National Lampoon funnymen.

0 3 | 2 5 | 2 0 0 3

  Even more powerful than words (see 03.2.2003 below) is music. Especially when the words that go with it are good too. With the wife out of town on business, I was preparing an all-American meal of Mom's meat loaf, boiled spuds and salad, muttering to myself about dead grunts in the sand and Dead Presidents down the toilet, when KRCC laid a little Eugene McDaniels on me: "Compared to What," the live version from pianist Les McCann and saxman Eddie Harris, recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

  Scan these lyrics and tell me they don't have "resonance," as the flacks say, today. Even better, listen to Les and Eddie lay it down -- they had me dancing in the kitchen instead of whining into my wine.

0 3 | 2 4 | 2 0 0 3

  Hooah. Plenty hate mail off that last Foaming Rant for VeloNews. It's encouraging that the written word, even from a hack like me, can still upset a few citizens of a nation mesmerized by the One Big Eye, and I ain't talking Sauron here.

  I thought I had telegraphed the punchline about as obviously as Ali doing a burlesque rope-a-dope with Richard Pryor at a charity benefit, what with the opening Pete Seeger quote, the "Wag the Dog" reference, the "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" note, Jimi and his Fender (remember his rendition of the national anthem?), but it seems a few feebs stood there flatfooted and caught it right in the choppers. Apparently the racket I made pounding that tack with my five-pound sledge made realization impossible until the final grafs. Oopsadaisy. The shit monsoon, and no umbrellas handy. Sorry 'bout that. Not.

  I have the same problem with a few addlepated masochists who insist on reading my column in Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, even though they know it's going to give them a life-threatening wedgie. Remember the old Billy Crystal "SNL" gag about, "Ooo, I hate it when I do that. . ."? There really are people like that out there, and while they're too dim to stop this self-destructive behavior, they have access to technology and just enough gray matter to compose e-mails that would get you a remedial-English class in any elementary school in the country.

  I wonder what the reaction would have been if I had gone with my original ending to that piece, which went something like this:

  Same basic sentiment, a little less harshly expressed, blame perhaps spread more evenly between Bush and Hussein, more indicative of my despair at the murderous absurdity of it all. Maybe even preferable to what I shipped off to VeloNews, I don't know; I'm not much of a judge of my own stuff. What I do know is that the more I fiddled with the piece, the madder I got -- not at myself, but at Dubya and his goons for the imperial ambitions and imperious actions that fed the grunts into the blades.

  And now we're in the shit -- and I mean all of us, some paying with their lives, and others with their wallets (or their children's wallets). Money is the least of it; it's only pictures of dead presidents after all, and more than one of them was dead from the neck up while the rest of him was still wandering about, making a shambles of things. I abhor this sacrifice of human life on fascism's bloody altar. God told Abraham He was just yanking his chain about sacrificing Isaac, but He has been oddly silent of late.

0 3 | 2 2 | 2 0 0 3

  "A dumb joke is better than a smart bomb." - Roy Blount Jr. on the NPR quiz show, "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me."

0 3 | 2 1 | 2 0 0 3

  From The New York Times: "The White House seemed intent on retaining some air of normalcy as Mr. Bush waged the second war of his presidency. He was host to the president of Cameroon for dinner tonight. Through the week, officials said, he has stuck to his regimen of daily exercise, as well as a new diet under which he is forgoing desserts. On Friday, he is scheduled to leave for Camp David for the weekend."

  Bad president. Bad, bad president. Picking on someone smaller than you, and trying to steal his lunch money, too. You go straight to Camp David and think about what you've done. And no dessert, either.

  By the way ... I just saw an ABC bit with Barbara Walters, on an otherwise interesting evening with Peter Jennings, and I was wondering: Has anyone else noticed how much she resembles Ricardo Montalban in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?"

0 3 | 1 9 | 2 0 0 3

  It shouldn't be any surprise that on the evening Junior decided to launch his war - a war that is not, repeat not, for oil - the local ABC affiliate's "news" half-hour featured ads, in rapid succession, for various Chevys and Fords, the Hummer H2, Jeep, Hyundai, Subaru, Pontiac and Honda. Semper finance, with easy monthly payments.

Photo by Hal Walter/Out There

0 3 | 1 8 | 2 0 0 3

  Shortly after the Numbnuts-in-Chief gave Sodamn Insane his two-day deadline, winter returned to Jesusburg (right), just in time for St. Paddy's Day. But it really returned to Weirdcliffe (top), where my colleague Hal "Mr. Awesome" Walter shot this pic from his deck, looking up the hill toward his garage. Last time we got feet instead of inches in Weirdcliffe, backhoe drivers were scoring $75 an hour for clearing snowbound roads. Nothing like a little economic development to take your mind off the notion that some draft-dodging yuppie fuckstick has ordered your son to hang his 22-year-old ass out in the Iraqi wind.

Photo by Patrick O'Grady/Mad Dog Media

0 3 | 1 0 | 2 0 0 3

  Osama and Saddam must be laughing their asses off, watching Shrub and his frat brothers handle this second-UN-resolution deal like a nickels-and-dimes beer run two kegs, a gallon of vodka and a Ziploc full of Oaxacan ditch weed into a toga party. How an outfit can be so tightly run in its domestic operations -- whether you agree with them or not -- and be such a bottomless Volkswagen full of clowns in its foreign policy is a constant source of amazement to me. What fun it must be to be an E-4 in Kuwait, flossing the sand out of your teeth, thinking about what bugs, gas and radiation might do to your life expectancy and wondering why your Commander in Chief spent his "uniformed service" as the sort of Rear Echelon Mother Fucker who gives REMFs a bad name.

0 3 | 0 1 | 2 0 0 3

  Another head plunks into the big basket at the U.S. Olympic Committee. This time it's CEO Lloyd Ward, who finally bit one of the bullets that everyone from serfs to senators had been firing his way ever since it was disclosed that he and the wifey apparently saw the Olympic budget as a sort of bottomless American Excess card for powering junkets hither and thither, including one to Atlantic City for the Evander Holyfield-Chris Byrd fight, another to Geneva for a chat with Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, and the occasional jaunt to their Florida home or the odd figure-skating event. No word on how much the Wards had to spend to hire servants to screw their pants on every morning. Jesus H. Christ. Ever seen a five-ringed toilet full of hundred-dollar bills? Swing on by One Olympic Plaza one of these days. Don't wear your good shoes, though. Seven honchos have gone to the guillotine this year, more are in line, and the place is ankle-deep in blue blood.

0 2 | 2 7 | 2 0 0 3

  The more things change, the more they stay the same. Just another reason why plutocracies like the one presently running the nation failed to make Thomas Jefferson's hit parade.

0 2 | 1 6 | 2 0 0 3

  After spending a couple hours freezing my nuts off in Palmer Park at the antiwar rally yesterday, I was looking forward to today's forecast: Highs in the 40s to 50s. Perfect for a nice, long road ride. Ho, ho. This is February, Bubba. Near as I can tell, it never got above freezing, and I was wearing everything in the closet except for my sport coat and a sidearm when I tottered out the door at 9:50. It was gray, misty and colder than the other side of Michael Jackson's bed.

  A smaller-than-usual bunch of us met at Acacia Park and headed south for some didos through the foothills around the Broadmoor and the Cheyenne Mountain Conference Center instead of north to the AFA, where non-essential personnel are persona non grata under Code Orange.

  When it was starting to look like the gang was contemplating a ride down Highway 115 -- which is still about half a bridge shy of being a safe ride on a warm, clear day -- Michael Schenk and I pulled the ripcord and bailed out, futzing around on some back roads for an hour and half or thereabouts, eyeballing prospective cyclo-cross courses and pretending to train. My legs felt like Hefty bags full of medical waste, so it seemed the thing to do. Ran for 40 minutes with the wife afterward just to torture some other muscle groups for a change. What fun. I'll bet they're getting all sweaty at the Valley of the Sun.

0 2 | 1 1 | 2 0 0 3

Ron Ziegler dies, goes to Hell

By The Associated Press

  Ron Ziegler, President Richard M. Nixon's press secretary, died of a heart attack on Monday in his home in Coronado, Calif., his wife, Nancy, told The Associated Press. Mr. Ziegler, who was known for referring to the Watergate break-in as a "third-rate burglary" and for steadfastly speaking for President Nixon as his presidency crumbled, was 63.

  As the investigation into Watergate unraveled, Mr. Ziegler admitted that his previous statements had become "inoperative."

  One writer, Christopher Lasch, noted in "The Culture of Narcissism": "Many commentators assumed Ziegler was groping for a euphemistic way of saying that he had lied. What he meant, however, was that his earlier statements were no longer believable. Not their falsity but their inability to command assent rendered them `inoperative.' The question of whether they were true or not was beside the point."

  Ronald Lewis Ziegler was born May 12, 1939, in Covington, Ky. He played fullback at Dixie Heights High School, when Nancy Lee Plessinger, who later became his wife, was a cheerleader. He went to Xavier University on a football scholarship, but when his parents moved to Los Angeles, he went with them, and found a part-time job at Disneyland, where he drove the jungle cruise boat 33 times a day. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in politics and government in 1961.

  After leaving the White House, he worked for Syska and Hennessy, Inc., a consulting firm in Washington, and then served as president of the National Association of Truck Stop Operators from 1980 to 1987, then as president of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, before retiring in 1998.

  Reached in Hell, where he has rejoined his former boss Nixon, Ziegler declined comment, as he was busy having red-hot balls of iron pitchforked down his throat for being a lying sack of shit while he was alive.

0 2 | 0 9 | 2 0 0 3

  Cold, cold, cold. Colder than the airless void that keeps Dubya's ears apart. Colder than Dick Cheney's black, flabby little electronically assisted mustard seed of a heart. Colder than the smack Rummy lays down about the Euro-trash who won't bend over for Uncle Sam. We're talking cold here, in case you hadn't noticed.

  After a month or so of steady riding in mostly reasonable temperatures I declared this arctic week just past a rest period and did precisely fuck-all in the way of outdoor exercise until today. Ran on Thursday, ran on Saturday, and then today -- two hours of low-RPM mountain biking through the potholed, granular snow covering the hilly paths lacing Bear Creek Regional Park. The Beefman bailed, so it was just me and Melissa the Missile crunching through this turd-studded sno-cone for two hours.

  Oh, the pain.

  I hadn't ridden the mountain bike in months, and it was making more bad noise than Rummy when he found out the Krauts and Frogs were trying an end-run in his war game, especially once we started climbing the less-well-traveled trails. Or maybe that was me. Frankly, my brain is awash in lactic acid and I don't remember much about the day's labors, other than stomping on the pedals like a fat chick in a tub full of roaches and going absolutely nowhere.

  Thank Gawd I stifled my impulse to score big Manly Points by riding a 'cross bike. I would have been good to go everywhere but the park, which is all of 15 minutes from Dogpatch. People look at you funny when you go for a nice long run wearing a bike.

0 2 | 0 6 | 2 0 0 3

  Gahhh, hahh haaaaah, damn. Some people think running sucks, but it sure beats riding when it's 15 degrees with snow on the ground and an evil wind turning your mustache into snotsicles. I pretty much put on the whole closet, then pounded ground for 45 minutes and felt like I'd scarfed an ice-cream cone in under a second. Big brain pain. Worked on my karmic debt earlier in the morning by shoveling two neighbors' walks. Crabs on an elephant, that was. I got a lot more shoveling to do if I'm going to avoid a low rebirth, say as a Bush Cabinet official.

0 2 | 0 3 | 2 0 0 3

  How's this for scary? I appear to have created a monster here ... indeed, more than one of them, as this picture and the accompanying letter to the Velo Catalog prove beyond the shadow of a doubt:

  Dear Velo Management,

  Your 'Old Guys Get Fat in Winter' jersey is a big hit!

  Attached is a picture of me (kneeling) and buddies during the Houston-Austin MS150 2002 (10,000 riders). Our 'old guy team' is growing steadily in Arizona and Texas. Thought you would like the picture...

  We ride 4-5 MS150's (plus other fund raisers, American Diabetes Association, etc..) throughout the year and are continually asked where to get the jersey, so we pass on the website URL ... in the Phoenix MS150 (1,643 riders and volunteers) this last year, your jersey tied for "Best Dam Team Jersey". You wouldn't believe (maybe you would!) the great reaction we get to the jersey, especially from the 40-50+ crowd.

  Appreciate your fine Customer Service and look forward to hearing from you.

  Steve Fritsch

  Peoria, AZ

  Well, thanks for shopping at Dog-Mart, guys. Looks like you're getting at least as much mileage out of that jersey as I have, and in the service of better causes, too. And if you ever get tired of yellow, we have a brand-new DogShirt coming on line this March.

  Incidentally, on a completely unrelated topic, you know you've stepped deep in the doo when you're a 48-year-old poser who finds himself riding alongside Danny Pate (Prime Alliance) on the front of a double paceline rolling through the Air Force Academy. He was gentle with me. I hardly puked at all.

0 1 | 2 4 | 2 0 0 3

  Do kids ride bikes to school any more, or have pervs, minivans and thieves croaked that last bastion of youthful freedom and physical activity? After I read a newsgroup note about the lack of bikes in the racks at the schools in the poster's neighborhood, I've been eyeballing the schools as I ride around town, and not only do I mostly not see any bikes, sometimes I don't even see racks. Christ, if it weren't for bikes, I'd have had flat, achy feet the size of manhole covers, 'cause my parents refused to drive me anywhere but crazy.

0 1 | 2 3 | 2 0 0 3

Pot Calls Kettle 'Black'

  "Everything is dangerous, if you're stupid." — Noo Yawker Frank Tropea, who spent five grand for a Segway Human Transporter when he could've bought a serviceable bicycle for $300, in response to a question about the 85-pound yuppie sidewalk-scooter's risks and safety mechanisms.

0 1 | 1 9 | 2 0 0 3

  OK, so I'm a poser. Skipped the cyclo-cross in Salida, me and my garage full of high-zoot steel. But I got my ass beat like a gong right here in Colorado Springs, and didn't have to burn a few dozen gallons of desert dew to get the job done, so at least I was thinking equal parts green and yellow.

  The weather wasn't in the 50s, it was more like the 60s, so I opted for the Sunday road ride out of Acacia Park. Knickers, no tuques, and short-fingered gloves, what fun. It seemed that everyone was in an Indian-summer, fat-burning state of mind ... until we got to the intersection at Academy and Highway 83, where two-thirds of the group blew right through a solid-red light, apparently reasoning that the motorists in the left-turn lane on Academy couldn't crank up enough speed from a standing start in such a short stretch to send them all, next-business-morning delivery, straight to Jesus.

  About 10 of us are left sitting there at the light, with that look on our faces, because we know we will have to chase these evil swine up the short stretch of Academy overpass that crosses Interstate 25 and leads to the south gate of the Air Force Academy, where thanks to Osama bin Scumbag and his merry men we will have to stop to flash some ID before chasing them some more, all into a pretty stout head wind.

  So we clear the main gate and this kid goes to the front and takes a nut-crushing pull, and then another kid does the same, and I manage about three weak rotations before I go rocketing out the back as though I'd double-flatted, locked up both brakes and deployed a drag chute. Happily, Rob is there with me, looking equally bug-eyed, and we settle down to something like a January pace while watching these players dispose of the weak like bad cards in a dollar-ante round of seven-card stud.

  We collect a few of their discards and start a marginally competent rotation, lurching in pursuit after the bunch up ahead like an old cocker spaniel chasing a greyhound. What we didn't know is some Tasmanian Devil in their group was doing more or less the same thing to them that the kids had done to us, and what had started as a pleasant Sunday outing was looking like the wounded dragging themselves in twos and fews to the field hospitals during the Battle of Verdun.

  Everyone eventually regrouped at the B-52 near the north gate, where — casting a baleful eye at the incessant head wind out of the north-northwest — a few of us decided, "Screw it," and skipped the usual counter-clockwise hill repeats for a less arduous ride along the rollers east of the AFA, followed by a bit of fucking the duck on the back roads to Manitou Springs and back.

  And wouldn't you know? That's when I started to feel vaguely human. After a two-hour warmup. Anybody want to buy a shitload of bikes?

0 1 | 1 7 | 2 0 0 3

  I must've gotten overserved last night. I'm thinking about driving to Salida on Sunday to race a cyclo-cross. Here I just get settled into a routine in the Springs — a routine that normally includes a gentle, two-hour flogging on the hills of the Air Force Academy on Sundays — and I'm considering a two-hour drive to get brutally chain-whipped for an hour by Kip from Old Town Bike Shop, who's young and fit and free of the various filthy habits that put all these lines in my face .

Photo © 2003 Tom Purvis
Kip jumps off early on what looks to be the surface of the moon.

  Could be peer pressure. Big Jonny at www.drunkcyclist.com is marching bravely into his own vicious beating this weekend at a single-speed race in Arid-zona, and God knows I'm on the same training program he is (drink, rant, ride, repeat), so why not?

  The problem is it's gonna be in the 50s here, perfect road-riding weather. Cyclo-cross is supposed to happen in the fall and winter, when weather makes a bracing fat-burner on the bike an impossibility. But I do have those four 'cross bikes, and there is a question of honor to be upheld, and I didn't race a klick all last year ....

0 1 | 1 5 | 2 0 0 3

  George W. Bush on affirmative action: "I strongly support diversity of all kinds, including racial diversity in higher education. But the method used by the University of Michigan to achieve this important goal is fundamentally flawed. At their core, the Michigan policies amount to a quota system that unfairly rewards or penalizes prospective students based solely on their race." When we all know that admission to institutions of higher education, or the National Guard in wartime, should be based solely on Poppy's bank balance and political connections.

0 1 | 1 3 | 2 0 0 3

  Mousetrap Sparks Fla. Airport Evacuation


  TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- A section of the Tampa airport was evacuated Monday after baggage screeners spotted a "very, very suspicious" object on an X-ray monitor. It turned out to be a mousetrap inside a coffee can.

  The ticketing area was evacuated for about 45 minutes and several flights were delayed briefly. A bomb squad used a robot to remove the object from the bag.

  "When you looked at the monitor, it had all these wires and looked very, very suspicious," said Chris Rhatigan, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration.

  Airport spokeswoman Brenda Geoghagan said airport police and TSA officials were talking with the bag's owner. No immediate charges were filed, although an all-points bulletin was issued for Donald Duck.

  All of this is true except for the last 10 words. And people wonder why I drive everywhere.

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