Bullshit, booze and ... oh, yeah, bikes.

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Friday, Oct. 1

It's wheels up in the Dogmobile. Or not.

  COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — All roads leading to Interbike can be found on the ground, where they belong. Sure, some benighted sorts fly to Las Vegas, and that's fine, if your idea of traveling in style involves strapping yourself into a seat that Torquemada wouldn't have used to bring a heretic to Christ inside a winged aluminum test tube full of screaming infants, cranky Suits and airborne viruses with only a succession of $5 cans of Coors Light for comfort.

  Me, I've had my airplane ride this century. It cost me $150 in medical exams and prescriptions and most of what's left of my sanity, and the cocksuckers didn't even serve booze on the return flight. So as usual, I am driving to Interbike 2004 in a Toyota pickup — and the good one at that, the 1998 Tacoma with cruise control, air conditioning and only 170K on the odometer. That's not it in the picture. I'm traveling incognito. I don't want any terrorists drawing a bead on me before I have a chance to vote for George W. Bush in November.

  Ho, ho. That's gonna happen. Yeah, John Kerry and I were on IM the other day and between porn downloads we decided that we'd both vote for W as a goof, because it doesn't really make any difference who wins in November, unless you're a soldier, a taxpayer or pretty much any old mammal with a pulse.

  But we were talking about Interbike and ways to get there, weren't we? And my personal fave is to take a Japanese pickup, a shitload of technology and about two days to make the trip from Bibleburg to Sin City. You need the frequencies of all the NPR affiliates between here and there, especially KRCC (Colorado-New Mexico), KUNM (New Mexico) and KNAU (Flagstaff); a box full of crucial CDs from Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett; and a long list of Earthlink dialup numbers, 'cause in far too many places in the wild, wide-open West broadband is what the little woman uses to hold her XXXL drawers up while shoplifting candy at the Wal-Mart.

  Then there are the occasional food-and-beverages stops in locales some map-twiddlers might consider out of the way, like Santa Fe and Flagstaff, where tasty food and beers worth $5 a throw are to be had. In the former, I have been known to hit the Guadalupe Cafe, Tia Sophia, Second Street Brewery and Ten Thousand Waves, and all of those places are on the itinerary this time around, so I'll check back with you later today (or early tomorrow) and let you know whether you're better off flying the unfriendly skies than eating fresh green chile, sipping locally brewed stout and eyeballing naked hippie chicks.

The side of Santa Fe you won't see in the brochures.

Saturday, Oct. 2

  SANTA FE, N.M. — Good day to get the hell out of Dodge. Fallen leaves were sluicing like water off the hood of the Dogmobile as I roared out of Bibleburg toward Fanta Se ... and come to think of it, water was sluicing like water off the hood, too, 'cause it was pissing down rain. After six years of drought, I have no objection to this, as it is preferable to catching fire. But I don't mind not being around to watch. The rain stopped as I hit the New Mexico-Colorado border, and by the time I got to The City Different, it was fair to partly cloudy, if a tad cool.

  "City Different." Ho, ho. The only difference between Santa Fe and any other burg is that the local land whores wear ponytails instead of polyester and sell property by the gram, like cocaine, only at a higher price. Like your hometown, it has too many people and not enough roads, jobs and affordable housing; unlike your hometown, you can eat yourself stupid on some great grub, as I did last night at the Second Street Brewery (massive green-chile cheeseburger and two IPAs) and this morning at Tia Sophia's (egg, sausage and spud breakfast burrito swimming in green chile, bottomless cuppa java). A man can't tackle Interbike on strong drink alone — he needs green chile, too. One chile has as much vitamin C as an orange, and slathering orange pulp over a breakfast burrito doesn't work for me, not even as a scurvy remedy or bug repellent.

  Next up: Flagstaff, where I'm gonna try to hook up with Big Jonny from drunkcyclist.com. He's manning the taps at the Tour de Fat in downtown Flag' and has promised all manner of extravagant bibulousness. Beats working.

Sunday, Oct. 3

  FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Made it to Flagstaff just in time to catch the ass-end of the Tour de Fat, where an ungodly number of people are said to have downed 80 kegs — yes, that is 80, as in eight-oh — kegs of New Belgium beer, and I helped. Not much, it's true, but I did what I could, considering my late arrival.

  The legendary Big Jonny of drunkcyclist infamy was holding court in the company of the usual suspects, including his lovely wife, along with Big Gay Randy, the Garden Gnome, the Angry Hippie and any number of off-the-charts shades of local color. I took no pictures of this unruly mob, out of concern for national security, but I did manage to snap a couple shots of bikes you will not be seeing under beer-addled tosspots at Interbike's Outdoor Demo. Then we all toddled off to the Pay and Take, where I failed to perform up to professional tippling standards thanks to a sudden gut-ache, likely the consequence of taking most of the day's nourishment in liquid rather than solid form. Age does not bring wisdom, no matter what your mother tells you.

  Next up: Sin City and a strategy meeting with the Bicycle Retailer & Industry News crew ahead of Monday's kickoff, the first day of Outdoor Demo. Guess the number of broken collarbones during the day-two demo and win yourself an official Mad Dog Media T-shirt. Send your guesses to me here; one guess per customer, please, and don't forget to include your mailing address.

Tuesday, Oct. 5

  LAS VEGAS, Nevada — "So whadja see at the Outdoor Demo? Anything?" queried The Publisher. "Tubing. Wire. Rubber," I replied. "Colorful devices that looked very much like bicycles. Yes, in fact, I will stake my reputation as a cycling journalist upon it: They were definitely bicycles." Flippant comments like this cause The Publisher to wonder why he throws fat wads of good American money down the rathole to bring me here year after year. It must feel a little like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, hoping that one day it will stop hurting.

  The Demo was a little sparse early on opening day, but had picked up some by the time we bailed at 1 p.m. Only one faceplant that we were aware of, a solid soil sample witnessed by our own John Crenshaw, who gave the lad a 9.5 for sticking the dismount. We'll fill you in as to the collarbone tally once today's Demo has concluded, and thanks for participating in our little contest.

  Our drinking to this stage has been undistinguished. We began Sunday at the Z Tejas Grill on Paradise, where they were out of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, then shifted to the Gordon Biersch up the street because The Publisher was buying. What Gordo pours is even worse than than a glass with no Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in it, so the shop talk stayed mostly on a professional level, which means nobody's mothers were mentioned. It took a couple of Scotches over at Ruth's Chris Steak House before we finally got around to who needed killing and how ("There's a big-ass lake just up the road, and concrete is cheap. Who's with me?")

  Monday's boozing was even less impressive. The Shalimar apparently remembered us from previous years and carefully rationed the Taj Mahals, conveniently "forgetting" to bring them eight and 10 at a time as we instructed and throttling back on the heat in the lamb vindaloo in hopes of keeping our collective thirst under wraps. We retaliated with loud dick jokes and raucous tales of drink-sodden naps under motor vehicles that greatly entertained the other patrons, or perhaps not. But the true nature of the conspiracy against us was not revealed until we went next door to Ruth's Chris only to find that the entire establishment was in the hands of a private party for the evening and Scotches for the likes of us would not be forthcoming.

  So it was back to the Z Tejas where we no longer cared if the Sierra Nevada was flowing as long as the Herradura was available and resumed the debate over who had to die and why ("OK, we pack him in a wooden crate stenciled 'Bibles and Whisky for the Crusaders' and air-freight him to Fallujah.").

Thursday, Oct. 7

  LAS VEGAS, Nevada — The Show Daily is shut down for another year, and we couldn't be happier, as its production was interfering with our drinking. It's tough to draw a cartoon, write a news brief or, frankly, do much of anything other than moan piteously and soil yourself if you consistently wake up under a truck in the hotel parking lot, wearing someone else's underwear on your head and not much else. That sort of horseplay smacks of a less-than-professional commitment to the high standards of cycling journalism. So we generally save it for the last night in town, which would be tonight, and I even brought my own truck to sleep under.

  Last night was the Interbash, a lot of very bad noise trying to pound its way past limitless cups of free Fat Tire beer, so we fled to the Z Tejas, where the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and the Herradura Añejo were, and watched some sales types fail to pick up fat chicks. We had watched the vice-presidential debates here, and the staff seemed to appreciate our ability to drink two-handed and still flip the bird at Big Dick Cheney whenever he cracked out another one of those lame whoppers about how Saddam was the Beast foretold in the Book of Revelation, so we graced them with our custom once more, even sampling some food as a lark.

  Today was mostly spent wandering the show floor, trying to find something fresh to look at besides the Pedros chick, talking to the one or two industry folk who don't think that I should be fed into a wood-chipper on "The O'Reilly Factor," and slipping into various free-beer lines. VeloNews had Anchor Steam on tap, and I pretended I was Graham Watson for a while, forging his autograph on various books, posters and at least one blank check (hey, what can I tell you? Beer ain't free everywhere, Bubba, not even in Vegas).

  Tonight should be what Big Jonny at drunkcyclist likes to call "a train wreck." We've learned from a reliable source that our favorite tavern wench is back serving at Ruth's Chris, and thus we should all be yodeling into the thundermug before much longer. More as it develops.

Wednesday, Oct. 13

  COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Well, I'm finally home, and my liver and the truck both have another couple thousand hard miles on them. Our favorite tavern wench-slash-bartender, Mistri (Mystri?) was indeed in the house for our final night of debauchery at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Vegas, and she treated us like the happy tipplers and heavy tippers that we are, bringing Scotches every 15 minutes until the last man slipped blearily under the table and fetching them every half-hour thereafter. If you visit Vegas and have someone else's credit card handy, drop by and give her our love and the other guy's money.

  The trip back was uneventful. I spent Friday night in Flagstaff, where I led the life sanitary, and Saturday night in Santa Fe, where I did not. Sunday thus required massive infusions of coffee, orange juice and green-chile-slathered sausage-and-cheese enchiladas from the Guadalupe Cafe, plus several hours of recovery at Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-style, clothing-optional bathhouse that has become a little less pleasing to the bloodshot eye since opening a women's-only communal tub that has turned the coed tub into something of a sausage stew.

  One of the sausages in residence this Sunday had apparently been attacked by a homophobe wielding a staple gun, not that I was looking or anything. OK, so I was looking, all right? You would've, too. The guy looked like a car-bombing survivor without health insurance who had decided to coexist with the shrapnel. I felt like the guy who'd been driving the car, so I spent the morning alternating among the hot tub, the sauna and the cold plunge, trying to sweat out a series of Guinnesses and Taliskers that had me by the brain stem with a downhill pull.

  Once home in Colorado Springs, I caught up on various tasks of lawn care and vehicle maintenance, did a bit of work and was reminded by a reader that I hadn't posted the Mud Stud's annual Interbike adventures as chronicled in the Bicycle Retailer & Industry News Show Daily. So here he is, in all his glory. Enjoy, or don't, and check back next year for more of the same.

Copyright © 2004 Patrick O'Grady/Mad Dog Media. Steal any of this shit and you're liable to get sued too.