Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday News And Views

"Crudflap"- Not Mud Flap!
Prototyping:

Okay, so I got the green light to let the cat out-o-the bag here by "Mr. K", the inventor of this lil' gizmo dubbed the "Crudflap". "What the heck is a Crudflap?!", you ask? Well, maybe I should start with the reasons why, then it will make more sense.

Mr. K sent me an e-mail several months ago asking for my assistance in prototyping an idea he had that would "shield" the chain and chain rings from the near constant dumping of "crud" off the fat bike's enormous front tire. His idea was that if the dirt, spooge, and slush generated by the front wheel could be kept off the chain and chain rings that the drive train would work better, longer, and maybe shifting performance at the front derailluer could be enhanced. I agreed and soon we were sending measurements and images back and forth along with plastic molded bits for me to try out.
Piles of broken dreams

There were several failures and near misses, but eventually we hit upon a couple prototypes that worked well enough that I have field tested them and, in my opinion, the ideas actually do have some merit. First off, it is nice not to hear that "scrunch-crunch" of grit on the chain after running through dirt, mud, and sand on trails or slush infested streets. I also think that this device does indeed improve chain life and shifting quality.

Right now it is still an idea in its infancy, but you never know. I think it's something worth pursuing. It isn't without its faults, (fitment for various bikes/drive train set ups would need to be figured out, for one thing), but it is a viable idea that I feel improves the fat bike riding experience.

Dunderbeist- New Fat Rubber from 45NRTH
Weird Names- New Tires:

Also from Frostbike 2015- New weirdly named fat bike tires from 45NRTH. Two new "tweener" sized tires dubbed "Flowbeist" and "Dunderbeist" have emerged and I got a really close look at them. Think widely spaced knobs, really open tread patterns here that are optimized for front and rear specific duties.

My impressions are that these are really for snow or soft conditions. Maybe small, rocky stuff, if it is loose. The lateral side knobs are impressive and look to aid in stability in cornering and for just keeping a bike on the line you want to be on. I saw these tires mounted on 70mm rims and on Clown Shoes. The tire takes on a really crowned, rounded look on the 70's and on the hundies they flatten out noticeably. The volume of 4.8's is not there. Not even close, but these tires should fit a wider variety of bikes than Bud and Lou does.

Of course, these are tubeless just like the Vanhelgas are. When I suggested that these might really be best suited to snow, the fellows of 45NRTH shot right back with "All our tires are best on snow." Going further, they seemed to think that none of their tires are really very well suited to "normal single track", which kind of took me by surprise. Take that for what it is worth.....

The Blackborow DS dominates in the deep stuff
 Late Winter Punch:

Winter was kind of.........not Winter for the longest time, but February came and it kicked in. First we got about ten inches on the first day of the month, then that kind of, well.....evaporated, for lack of a better explanation for it. By the time it snowed again the day before yesterday, the old, ten inches of snow was a sparse, barely there three to four inches, and with a lot of bare ground showing. Now we're back up there again. Maybe to about seven inches, or more, but the biggest difference is the moisture content of this snow, which is a lot higher than it has been in a long time.

The nicer snow consistency means that I have been riding into and through stuff that has been really surprising me a lot. I expect to wash out, get bogged down, or knocked off line, losing my momentum, but many times I just keep going! A good example was yesterday when I traversed a good section of deep snow that had been post-holed by ped traffic and I was expecting to lose it and have to push. I went right through the entire section instead, and the Lou tires just tractored on through. I had to keep a steady cadence, but it worked and it was fun to be able to clean these sections that have always thwarted me before.

Okay, that's a wrap for today. Get out and enjoy the end of Winter or beginning of Spring, wherever you are in the Northern Hemisphere!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Contrasts

Just a quick pit stop to fool around with the camera.
It isn't often that you get to ride on clear, mostly clean pathways and roads to work, and then come home on five inches or more of snow that has just fallen. Not only that, but this snow had plenty of moisture in it and actually was decent to ride on/through. I was a day of contrasts.

The highlight of the ride home was perhaps the BMW 730i driver that couldn't negotiate the water tower hill and spun around sideways. Good thing some big truck wasn't blasting up the hill or there would have been trouble. Those low profile, sporty tires are cool in Summer, but kind of like a pig on ice in winter.

Traction action was no problem with the Blackborow DS though. Those Lou tires on Clown Shoe rims spread out to lay down a really big patch through the newly fallen snow. I only had an issue on a steep ramp where I had to push and across the empty field near my home since there was a bunch of underlying icy snow patches. Otherwise I was surprised by the amount of places I was able to ride on. I attribute part of this to having some "real" snow for once instead of fluff or sugary snow granules that make riding nigh unto impossible. It looks to be cold and snowy again this weekend, so maybe another late Winter push in deep snow is in order.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Frostbike 2015: Salsa Cycles' New Tandem

Finally! Salsa is going to unleash the Powderkeg
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Tandems- You can't live with 'em, and you can't live without them. At least from the standpoint of the cycling industry, I feel this is true. I get why people like them. I mean, if you are going to ride together, why not work together? No one gets dropped and you both experience the scenery together. If you have compatibility issues, tandems can be a nightmare, but for the right team, it can be awesome.

Tandems, in my opinion, are also one of the least understood machines in cycling by the non-tandem riding public. To design a tandem the right way, tons of R&D and testing should be done. Components are stressed far more than on traditional bikes, so wheels, forks, and drive train parts have to be up to the abuse. That's why good tandems cost a lot of money. The cost of entry to try a tandem is at odds with most people's commitment level. Most folks are just curious, but tandem bicycles demand a strong commitment. Well....the good ones do. 

 Salsa went with a mountain bike tandem, which I know is going to disappoint many folks looking for "road bike" tandems, but c'mon! 90% of tandems that come through my stand in a year are not being raced or being ridden in group rides. They are mostly recreationalists that want a tandem to ride on for fun, recreational rides. Most never use the drops on drop bars, so why even demand that you get a "road bike tandem". It's silly.

Take off the Schwalbe mountain bike tires on this, slap on some fun lovin', fast, comfortable Big Apples and cruise pavement till the cows come home in comfort. Go ahead, mount a set of aero bar clip ons if you must, but don't hate on this bike because it isn't a road racing tandem. Besides, the Powderkeg can be far more versatile than any road bike tandem. It can be a RAGBRAI fun machine, (and the color helps there for certain!), and it could be your fire road exploration bike, or it could be the perfect rig to explore any unpaved road anywhere. Try that on a "road racing tandem".

The Powderkeg was perhaps the least well kept secret in the Salsa line up for years. Prototypes were wielded right out in the open, and Salsa Cycles even showed one in their booth a couple of Frostbikes ago. Everyone knew it existed, but you couldn't buy one. Now you can buy this highly refined, battle tested rig for 4G. That isn't bad at all when you consider that many Salsa bikes easily eclipse that figure and are not tandems. Would I get one? Yes- if I can scrape up the cabbage. In my little world it would solve several issues, like getting my son out on gravel, my wife on a quick recreational ride, and my daughter on a bike at all. (That's right, she's never ridden a bike at 14 years old because she doesn't want to crash.) We will see.....

Bottom line is that this is a rare bike in a world where "good" tandems cost at least this much and far more. Too bad that this rig was overshadowed by the massive interest in the new Warbirds, because this bike is cool, really, and I think it deserved more attention than it got.


 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Frostbike 2015: The New Warbird

A new, aluminum framed Warbird
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

During Saddledrive 2012, Salsa Cycles released news of a gravel road specific design dubbed "Warbird". I remarked with a post that was not much loved by some folks at Salsa Cycles, (seen HERE), and afterward, I heard from many who had similar opinions on this bike.  While the Warbird was a great concept, I felt it was not fully realized as the "gravel bike" it could have been.

Obviously, Salsa Cycles has realized this as well and went back to the drawing board and have produced a second generation Warbird so different from the first, that in many ways, it seems like a brand new model rather than a ground up redesign. Let me say right up front- I am very impressed with this new Warbird. 

First things first- There is tire clearance and to spare on this new version. Any gravel rider will be stoked on the options for rubber with the Warbird, short of doing a "monstercross" bike. You say you don't need big meats? Fine- you'll have copious amounts of mud clearance then. That's great too, right? Especially so in Springtime gravel events featuring potentially wet dirt roads.  The Warbird has better clearance than most cyclo cross bikes do, and I find that fact to be odd, but again, I think it is a fantastic idea. Options for the end user are better than limitations.

The Al frame is both lighter and more compliant than the outgoing Ti model.
The grandiosely named "Class 5 VRS" is really a marketing term that refers to how the new Warbird is designed to absorb high frequency, low amplitude vibrations. In other words, it is a clever new way to say "laterally stiff-vertically compliant", only this time there may actually be something to the claim.  I saw how the stays actually do flex and with the design being totally controlled by Salsa right down to a new carbon lay-up for a fork, I can see how this bike may be the new benchmark in ride quality for gravel road bicycles. (Admittedly- there are few of these, but still.) The thing is, absorbing the constant "paint-shaker" vibrations that we experience on gravel roads should be a big focus for these bikes. Salsa seems to think so, and this was one of the main features about this bike I am attracted to.

The fact that Salsa managed to produce an aluminum frame that is lighter and more compliant than the outgoing titanium model was really most impressive. I would like to try that bike just because I find this claim so intriguing. If that bike does out do the titanium Warbird, it would be one smoove ride fer shure! I know how the titanium bike felt, and it wasn't bad.

Claimed room for up to 44mm tires here.
Yes, this is a better Warbird, but I was disappointed in the fact that Salsa didn't dare to tweak the geometry at all. Look, I know most readers here cannot see what the heck a few millimeters of bottom bracket drop does, and that's fine, but I can guarantee that anyone who might find a bike with a decently low bottom bracket would be able to discern that the bike they were on was more stable feeling on gravel. The Warbird's got an almost cyclo cross-ish 70mm of BB drop, and why is that exactly? Last time I was at a gravel race, it was hours long, had no barriers, and most folks aren't leaning into corners and pedaling at 25 mph. I just don't get the fascination with high bottom brackets for these bicycles because they just don't need them. The other thing is head angles, which vary across the line up of Warbirds, while fork offset remains the same across six sizes. That just seems odd as well, and I still think they are too steep on the bigger sizes of Warbirds, but I could maybe live with that. Maybe.

Then there will be those that don't like any bike without rack and fender mounts. Ya know, I don't necessarily disagree with Salsa's choices here. I've seen and personally experienced what a wet B Road can do to a bicycle, and I don't think fenders are a good choice there. Racks? Look....just frame bag it, or seat bag it. No rack mounts on a bicycle these days is not the deal killer it once was. However, in a compromise, I could see a hidden fender mount sort of deal ala Trek's Domane bike, which has these. I mean, it would be an option to those who use the Warbird as a commuter, road bike, or for select gravel events where sticky, gooey mud isn't an issue. So yeah.....maybe they could have at least given you that option. 

Out of the six color schemes, this was the only one I thought was a bit too garish.
In the end analysis, the new Warbirds are head and shoulders above the first ones, in my opinion. Spec is better. Function is better. Colors are killer, (with the possible exception of the black one), and graphics are really subdued, which I like. Would I ride one? Yeah, and probably the aluminum one, just because I am so intrigued by the claims of a nice ride quality there. Although, you have to love that a carbon road bike frame can handle up to 44mm tires, right? I wouldn't discount that bike. However; it is spendy, and that's a consideration for a bike I know will see some rough treatment.

And what about dropping the titanium model? Well, the new one kills that bike on ride quality and weight, so I see why Salsa is dropping it, but perceptions being what they are, I can also see why many folks will shy away due to preconceived notions. Salsa's GM, Justin Julian was non-committal when I asked what would be the future of titanium at Salsa Cycles. In my opinion, I think they are moving away from the material, and I understand their reasons why, if they do. It's a tough deal to keep moving along with titanium when the material is limiting you in respects to design compared to carbon and aluminum. Steel? Yeah......then there is that nut to crack. I still think a steel Warbird would make sense, but, I guess Salsa doesn't see it that way.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Frostbike 2015: A Frozen Walkathon

El Presidente' Speaks! Steve Flagg addresses the crowd Friday night
Frostbike 2015:

The Frostbike 2015 was.........interesting. Not in the way you might expect, nor in the way you've come to know if you've been reading here over the past several years when I have reported upon my experiences. No "Mike's Bikes" shenanigans, no gnarly weather happenings, and no car impoundments. (Really! That happened one time.)

Nope! This time it was something entirely different, but perhaps no less weird. It started Friday when we woke up here at Guitar Ted Laboratories spaciously rundown headquarters. None of us were staying home as the entire family was to make the trip to the "TC" to have various kinds of fun. The family needed a breakway since we've been mostly holed up here with sicknesses and weather not conducive to outdoor fun. Anyway, we all woke up feeling particularly rotten on Friday. Really rotten. In fact, we almost pulled the plug on going at all........twice! I decided finally that we didn't need to pile another disappointment on top of nearly two months of "the blahs" and we were going.

Mrs. Guitar Ted was particularly stricken and the getting going was slow. I was planning on meeting my RidingGravel.com partner, Ben, downtown and I was supposed to get there before 4:00pm, but as we were traveling it was increasingly apparent to me that getting there even by 5:00pm was going to be a challenge. So, I texted Ben and told him I would have my wife drop me directly off downtown, and then we'd meet up.

Downtown Minneapolis is a bee's hive of activity at anytime during the day, and Friday afternoon was no exception. We were able to find the Marriott City Center on 7th easily enough though and I jumped out curbside, waved goodbye to my family, and set off to find the front door to the joint. As I did, I got the weird feeling that I was "on my own" in a strange place. Not that this should be an odd feeling given the time and place, but it was a particularly strong feeling this time.


Waiting to get into something I wanted out of.....fast!
So I find the door, where I was supposed to go, and saw a bunch of folks I know really busy with conversations packed into this tiny room. I decided not to add to the "cattle in a livestock truck" atmosphere and waited out in a spacious lobby room. There I spied an antique bicycle and struck up a conversation with a lovely young lady who was very sweet to me and explained the bike was a part of a hoped for museum and what not. She slipped me a business card and then I ended up talking to the owner of the bike shop that represented this proposed museum for a bit. After this, I ran into some other folks I knew and met a few new folks as well. Ben spied me and I went in the line for the evening meal along with Ben and Andy of Pedal of Littleton, a past Trans Iowa vet.

Okay, I don't know if it was a failure of logistics, or maybe that a bunch of party crashers showed up unexpected, but the lines to get something to eat were sloooooow! I got to the "taco station", grabbed two tacos and ate them standing up, since there was nowhere obvious for me to sit. I ditched off my dirty plate with a food service person, grabbed a plastic cup of Fat Tire, and headed for the exit. But just before I left, Jim Cummins grabbed me and said there was a seat at a table I could use where he was and that Ben was there as well. Okay then!

We sat and listened to some poorly amplified gab from the podium while 60% of the crowd brazenly ignored all that was going on. It was a bit disconcerting, and I wasn't sure this gig fit the pre-event billing, but ya know.....whatever. It was what it was. I still don't quite get what all the fuss was about.

Then it was off to the "All-City Party" which was being held upstairs in an old theatre building. We had to wait to be screened at the door. They checked our ID's even, which, ya know, if ya can't tell I am old, maybe you shouldn't be working at a bar. I thought it was all pomp and circumcision. I mean, it was a free party, and so, why all the "LA club scene hoopla"? Again......whatever. The joint was made up of some scant tables, a cement floor which was already sticky and stinky from spilled beer, and loud, poorly mixed music which made it nigh unto impossible to chat with anyone further than kissing distance from your face. Ben and the rest of us stayed too long there, but we did eventually bail.

South Vincent Ave @ 50th- 3:30am, 2-21-15
Then we went to a bar that had slightly less loud music and maybe a better sound system as well. Anyway, it was tolerable and the five of us could actually hold a conversation. I was past having a beer after one or so and switched to water, since I knew I had something big to do soon. What that was didn't become clear until a few hours later when closing time at the bar came.

I realized then that a plan to get me back to my family at the motel had not been clearly communicated, or maybe even formulated. I knew by the time the bar lights popped on, and we were to be getting out of there, that these fellows were way beyond being capable of passing a drunk driving test, so asking any of them for assistance was futile. On the way out of the bar, Ben made a hard right turn to check in with some visiting Canadians and never was seen again. I kinda figured he would eventually emerge from the bar, but he didn't. I grabbed my bag after everyone said goodnight and I hopped on an elevator to the lobby. Still no sight of Ben, but what could he have done anyway. So I found a restroom, did my business, and made for the exit. Once I got there, I was fumbling for something or another, and someone said, "Hey! Aren't you Guitar Ted?".

I acknowledged in the affirmative, and a Canadian fellow asked about my Tamland jacket and if I had helped in the design of that bike. Again, I affirmed the fellow, and then he and his two companions also professed their love for the bike, which was flattering and cool. After a few niceties, they bid me farewell and I burst onto the cold, snowy, Minneapolis streets. I had a plan, and I was about to execute it.

I set off to walk to my motel, since I wasn't exactly about to try to test the Minneapolis Minnesota public transpo system, out of pure ignorance of how it worked, and I was on an adventure! It was going to be a long walk, but hey! How bad could it be? The temperature was in the upper teens, the wind was nearly indistinguishable, and I had no gloves or mittens! Gah! Oh well. Off I went. (For those familiar with the city.) I followed my route Southward on Nicolette Mall to it's truncation and zigged around Eastward and South again to Lake Street, then West over to Lyndale, and Southward again all the way down to 50th. I went West on 50th through Lynnhurst and Fulton to Edina, then South on France Avenue all the way down to Highway 62. By the time I was approaching this part of the trek, I was feeling it in the hips and my feet! Past Highway 62 and down to 76th. Here I made a critical error. I should have went straight, but in my mind as I read my dimly lit and tiny iPhone map, it looked like going West was a better option, so I did and went over to 100th, crossed over a major road, which I thought was I 494, (and it was), and checked my map again. Only I became very confused.

I did eventually get there! Salsa's new Powderkeg tandem shown along with other goodies!
It had gotten colder, the wind had come up, and my wonderful iPhone was sputtering in such extremes. It wasn't tracking me correctly, and was randomly shutting down. I was poking around on foot, obviously, and trying to make sense of things, but unfortunately by this time my feet and legs were having none of it. The Sun had risen, or looked to have. At least I could see things much more clearly, and I decided to throw in the towel and call my wife if I could get the phone to work one more time. I ducked into a convenience store to warm it, and me, up. It worked, and she finally located me and fetched me back to where we were staying. Four hours, 12.2 miles and a short car ride later, I was where I belonged. By the way, she was NOT amused! Oh well, I made it almost all the way without pestering anyone at 2:00am and besides being wrecked from the effort, I was fine. I made it to a warm room, a soft bed, and slept for ten hours

Yes- I totally missed everything on Saturday, but what the heck. I got to see Minneapolis in a way I wouldn't have otherwise. Analog style, if you will, and on a beautiful, calm, snow covered Winter's night. It was super peaceful, and the city I saw was really nice. Ironically enough, I saw at least six different bicycles chained up to poles along the way, as if to taunt me. But I was okay. I resisted temptation and getting frustrated by it. In fact, I think I laughed out loud by the third one I saw. Irony not lost on this wandering soul.

Of course, I did go to the show. Sunday was short and sweet. I saw and spoke with many and missed out seeing more than a few, I am sure, but that's the way it goes. So yeah......Frostbike 2015- A Frozen Walkathon, new Warbirds, and NASCAR is bereft of both Busch brothers in a matter of two days. What? The last thing wasn't about Frostbike? Well.......anyway. 

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!

 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Decade Of Nonsense: Part 3

The stable of bikes expanded in a big way in '06!
2006 represents the year when things blew up with regard to this blog and with my "other" related activities. I cannot really say why that happened, even looking back on things now, it doesn't make any sense to me. All I know is that I worked hard to "get my voice" and write better. Then......holy cow! 2006 was a whirlwind of activity.

I started out with getting an On One Inbred frame and fork which I built up and was going to use as my Dirty Kanza 200 rig. I then did several comparisons to that and my '03 Karate Monkey, which turned out to be a very popular post series for several years, according to the stat meister machine I have on this site.  Then I "Ted-terviewed" a few Trans Iowa and local endurance nuts. That was quite well received. So much so that I actually got a Ted-terview with Steve and Chris of Niner Bikes. Apparently, they were stoked to the point that they gave me some exclusive news on their then brand new RIP-9 frame which debuted at Sea Otter that year. I also was getting some inside scoop from Ryan Atkinson of Fisher mtb fame on some new developments at Fisher with 29"ers. This sparked a redoubled interest on the part of Tim Grahl to get me on board with Twenty Nine Inches.com, which I was very reluctant to do for "free" or at all. I mean.....at that time, I didn't need TNI. I was busy enough doing what it was I had going on, and I was still affiliated with "The Biking Hub". Actually, the further 2006 went on the odder that affiliation got until I found out later that the site was going to be scuttled.

I got "published" in a Haro catalog in '06
 Earlier on in the blog, I was contacted by Mike Varley, who was then in charge of all things MTB at Haro Bicycles. He asked me to write a couple paragraphs on 29"ers. One specifically about the new Haro Mary bikes which were coming out, and another on 29"ers in general. He didn't know if either would make the cut. Maybe they'd just use one.

Well, I came to find out they used both of them! I was floored. This was my first "paying gig" in a sense that Haro decided to give me a frame and fork in turn for the write up. At any rate, here I was published on paper in a catalog. This was probably my most momentous accomplishment related to the blog in those early days. So......Thanks again, Mike! 

Well, that wasn't all. For whatever reason, it would seem that despite there being a site called Twenty Nine Inches.com, I was getting lots of news and product review chances as '06 cranked along. I got the first On One Carbon Superlight fork to test. I got a Raleigh XXIX as a warranty replacement for an old Diamomd Back V Link I had that broke. The write ups on this rig precipitated my getting the chance to demo and write up some stuff on Cannondale's first 29"er, the Caffeine.  Then a chance came up which has been probably one of the most rewarding things that has come out of this blog- the Badger Dorothy review.

The bike and subsequent model run planned was an utter disaster in the end, but the friendship I struck up with the then owner of Milltown Cycles, Ben Witt, was most rewarding and I still call him a friend to this very day. Like I always say- "It's all about the people you meet and the relationships you build." Nothing else matters. Not the bicycles, the travel, or anything else here. I am super grateful for having met Ben through these digital pages. 

Riding in the very first Dirty Kanza was another good deal in '06.
Another relationship was struck up when I met Salsa Cycles then GM, Jason Boucher. I was able to review a Dos Niner and actually got a sneak peek at the then new Mamasita carbon/aluminum hard tail 29"er when Jason and Kid Reimer came down on a snowy Fall day to ride at Camp Ingawanis on that new steed.

With the promise of a financial reward from Twenty Nine Inches and a free ticket to Interbike, I finally agreed to write for TNI.com in the fall of '06 on a regular basis instead of only occasionally. It was there that I met many folks in the industry, not the least of which was Gary Fisher himself. During Interbike I was shocked to have people I didn't even know coming up to me and telling me they were reading the site. It was all a bit much, going from zero to 100mph in a little more than a year of blogging, but it was real. Again- I have no idea why, but there ya go. By October I was full on writing for TNI.com, and review items were coming my way. I was going to be a very busy man for several years. In fact, I figured that if what I was told  while at the meeting in Vegas concerning TNI would happen, I might have to shut down the blog here, or curtail my postings severely. I didn't know if I could sustain this, Trans Iowa, and TNI.com all at the same time while holding down a job at a bike shop and being a father and a husband.

By the end of '06, the gig with the "Biking Hub" was done, but I had been integrated into Tim Grahl's "Crooked Cog Network", which included TNI.com, a site called "Blue Collar MTB", and another site dubbed "Commute By Bike". 2006 was a watershed year, but things maybe got even crazier in 2007......

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday News And Views

Last year traveling on a closed I-35 to Frostbike
Frostbike 15:

Well, it's time for the annual Frostbike gathering. Funny thing. It used to be just the two days- Saturday and Sunday. Then it crept over to Friday. Now things start Wednesday night and Thursday.  Well, my gig isn't really "on" until tonight. Then Saturday is obviously a huge day. Look for some "big" news to be splattered all over the web come Saturday morning. Yes.......there will be some interesting new stuff to talk about. 

Speaking of talking about stuff, I'll also be meeting up with my RidingGravel.com partner Ben to discuss planning and direction for the remainder of 2015. There may be some pretty exciting stuff coming along. Plus- we'll be doing something for a new Riding Gravel Radio Ranch podcast if things pan out.

I'm sure there will be something surprising, impromptu, or goofy happening as well. Maybe all three at once. Hey! It's Frostbike after all, and if the past is any indication..........

Great tubeless experience so far.
Nano 40 TCS:

So, I have a quick update on the Nano 40mm TCS tires, which are UST based in dimension. As I stated earlier, I went ahead and mounted these tires on my TCS Frequency i23 rims. The sealant I used is the "MG" formula I have been using for about seven years now. Otherwise everything here is a system- all TCS designed WTB product.

Okay, let's get this out of the way first- this is the easiest tubeless tire set up I have ever tried. The WTB TCS system I've used before is already easy. However; the Nano 40 TCS is just a wee bit better in terms of being able to be mounted totally by hand with no tools. It's not an "easy" fit, but totally doable without levers. The thing is, the tires fit so perfectly on the rim I could use a battered, dilapidated Blackburn floor pump to seat the beads. No air compressor, no fancy dance. Just a simple airing up.

Now that's impressive, but check this out- after 48 hours, the tires are still at the pressures I set them at. And that's with zero riding to seal up the casings. I have just spun the wheels a bit but otherwise, this has been the best at air retention as well. Oh......and the tires both measure out at exactly 40mm. Now hopefully that my health is almost there, I may get out on these very soon since the weather looks to make an upturn soon.

From the last 3GR in '13.
Announcing The Return Of The 3GR

Okay, after a year hiatus, I am ready to bring back this weekly ride. I have discussed it with the boss at the shop and he's in favor of supporting this in some way. How that looks is yet to be determined. However; you can expect this ride to be on Saturday mornings, just like in the past. The "jumping off point" is also yet to be determined. I really liked the Waterloo starting point, but suggestions will be sought out for any ideas on the starting point. I would also like the ride to include a stop post ride for coffee and conversations.

Okay- for anyone local that doesn't get this, it is a "gravel grinder group ride"- 3 g's and an "r" make "3GR". Usually about 40-ish miles in length, and about 15-18mph in speed. Friendly, no drop, and mildly difficult, I would say.

Now, if that isn't your cup of tea, I have another ride for you that will happen locally for the first time and will be great for any first timers. Yep! A "Geezer Ride" will happen in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area sometime later this Summer or early Fall. Maybe in August, but I haven't decided yet.

Okay- that's a wrap on this one. Look for any cool Frostbike nonsense to be reported on here throughout the weekend and for sure on Monday.