Monday, September 26, 2016

Too Much

The 6th Street railroad bridge getting lapped by the Cedar River's flood waters- Image pilfered from Facebook
It's been tough to think about anything here lately than water. Water that we don't need and that has fallen from the sky, swelling our local rivers and creeks to overflow. And not by just a little bit either.

The Summer of 2008 was a disastrous Summer from the standpoint of severe weather and flooding. We will never forget the Parkersburg F-5 tornado that claimed lives and changed that town forever, along with the community of New Hartford. The other thing that was devastating that year was water in the form of record level flooding of many of our rivers in Iowa. They said back then that the Flood of 2008 was a "500 Year Flood" event, meaning that the event was a once in every 500 year event. Well, so much for that......

My son and I checked out the river Friday afternoon. Note the railing down below him and the bridge in the background. 
On Saturday, at approximately the crest time, you can no longer see that railing and the bridge has a lot less light under it!
The crest of the Cedar River was on Saturday in the afternoon, and while it was not a record, it came in second highest ever recorded, only eight years after a "500 Year Flood" event. Yeah........ I guess we don't know as much as we think we know.

Anyway, the point is that even though we've made improvements with regard to flood protection in eight years, this is still a devastating situation. I'll keep it focused on bicycles here. There are a lot of bike paths, and arguably the most popular ones in the region, that are under water now. There are a lot of soft trails- single track and double track- that are all under water now, and will be for about two more weeks, in many cases. Drying in this season of the year takes more time- less hours of Sunlight, lower angle of the Sun, and cooler Fall temperatures play into that.

The awesome power of rushing water is frightening to behold up this close. That's a dam under there in the background.
Not only that, but many gravel routes are cut off now North, Northeast, and West of town due to flooded gravel roads which are closed. Case in point, the Geezer Ride route, which we rode only a week ago, is cut off in at least three places. It would have been impossible to ride this weekend.

Of course, there are a lot more effects from the flooding which are far more serious, and that is why it is hard to think of riding when so many are helpless in the face of this natural disaster. All you can do is watch it and hope for the best. The National Weather Service says that the Cedar won't go back in its banks until well into next weekend. You'll all have moved on by then, but the Cedar Valley will be dealing with this for weeks and months to come.

Let's hope that this was really a "500 Year Event"! We don't need this every eight years.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trans Iowa v13: Registration Details

Okay folks, this is it. Your details on how, when, and where to send in your registration cards to get a chance at being in Trans Iowa v13. Read this very carefully, as I will not be answering questions about "how can I can get into the event ?" this year, or anything like that after this posting. Those emails will be trashed. There should be no need for them after you have this info in hand. Okay- with that stated, here we go.....

Concerning The Post Cards: Everyone will be using post cards for registration. I don't mind home made ones, but they cannot be multi-layered, or have things sticking off of them, or be anything other than paper. Size is limited to standard post card size, which is approximately 5" X 7" or smaller. All post cards from the USA must be sent by US Mail! Overseas post cards may be sent airmail to insure a timely delivery. There will be specific information required for each class, so please make note of this as you fill out your cards. NOTE: Illegible writing or missing information will disqualify you from the lottery. I threw out at least a dozen cards last year due to these two things. Don't let that be you. I don't care if you are a Pro, have done the Ironman ten times, or are a so-and-so athlete that thinks that they don't need to follow my instructions. It doesn't matter to me. Most riders figure this out fine and have for a decade. You can too, or if not, you won't get in. Period.

Plus Six & Active Winners List: <==Click that link. If your name is on that list, and you want to ride in Trans Iowa v13, simply send me a post card with your Name, e-mail address, Class entering, (Mens Open, Womens Open, or Single Speed/Fixed), and address it to:

Guitar Ted
311 Baltimore Street
Waterloo, IA 50701

Get that out to me anytime from now until October 8th when your window closes. If I do not receive your card by next Saturday, you won't get in.

Veterans And Finishers: <=== Check that link. If you find your name on it, you cannot enter Trans Iowa as a Finisher or Veteran this time. You must register as a Rookie. Sorry, but that's what I've decided. See HERE for why that is. Now, if you are not on that list, and have finished or participated in a Trans Iowa, you can register in the following manner.  Fill out a post card with your Name, Class desired, (Open Mens, Open Womens, or Single Speed/Fixed), your e-mail, and Rule #11 from The Rules. The whole thing, legible, and complete. NOTE- YOU WILL SEND YOUR POST CARDS TO:

Europa Cycle & Ski
C/O Trans Iowa v13
4302 University Avenue
Cedar Falls IA 50613

Your cards must not arrive before October 3rd and you must get your card in by October 15th to be eligible for the Lottery For Vets & Finishers which will be held October 16th live via Periscope. A link will be provided just before the lottery if you'd like to tune in. There will be a minimum of 55 spots up for grabs here.

Rookies & Inactive Rider List Folks: <==  IF YOUR NAME IS ON THE INACTIVE RIDERS LIST you will follow this procedure along with anyone new, (Rookie) that wants to try Trans Iowa v13. Rookies & Inactive Riders must have their Name, Class desired, (Mens Open, Womens Open, or Single Speed/Fixed), along with Rule #1 from the Race Rules page in its entirety, written legibly, completely, and spelled correctly. No joke. Get this wrong and your card will not make the lottery for the 40 spots up for grabs here. 

Your window for registration is October 17th to October 29th. Send those correctly sized and filled out post cards via USPS to -

Europa Cycle & Ski
C/O Trans Iowa v13
4302 University Avenue
Cedar Falls IA 50613

That lottery will be held October 31st, via Periscope. A link will be given to tune in and watch prior to the Lottery drawing.

NOTE: All decisions on legibility, content, post card size, post card deadlines, and all lottery functions are made by Guitar Ted and his decisions are final.

Good Luck!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Minus Ten Review- 38

Mr. 24 at work in '06. He's getting married here pretty soon! Congrats Jeff!
Ten years ago here on the blog things were changing. This week pretty much marked the end of what I would say was the "freewheeling, fun, rookie days" on the blog here. I was about to embark on my first trip to Interbike in ten years, and I was also about to be entrenched in to writing and reviewing product for Twenty Nine Inches.com, a job I had up until the end of 2014. I was a person hardly anyone had ever heard of in 2006, but within a year that would all be a different story.

I've written loads about my feelings about that, so I won't rehash it all now. I will just say that those days are a cherished memory, and I am glad I got the time I did to spend those days at work with some great guys. Especially Jeff Kerkove, who I have to thank for a lot in my life. Trans Iowa, gigging on this blog, and what that all has brought into my life is really all because of him and the time we had back in the day. This all has become more present in my mind as Jeff is to get married here very soon. I won't be able to attend, since the service is in Colorado, but Jeff, if you read this, Thanks! And, Congratulations to you and Karen!

In other news, there was a lot of 29"er stuff happening. Loads of new tires were being discussed and introduced. I got a Bontrager Switchblade fork to review, and some new 29"er bike news was bubbling up. It was a time when the whole 29"er thing was exploding. Pretty crazy stuff back then.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday News And Views

Not this year: Interbike Outdoor demo was a ghost town and not like this at all.
In the "Hey! Didn't I just Say this?" (Like years ago) File

Interbike suffered its worst attendance in years this week and even the press had to admit what I had been witnessing for several years back in the day when I used to trek out to Sin City. Check out this missive from Pink Bike. But like I said, I've been ringing this bell for years now.

Back in 2010, Interbike said that the '10 show would be the last in Las Vegas. It was going to go back to Anaheim California. A lot of people were stoked about that idea. Then the I-Bike wonks yanked the carpet out from hopeful vendors, media, and attendees' feet and put the show back in Las Vegas the following year where it has remained ever since. Was that its downfall? Well......maybe partly it was. However; I think it has a lot more to do with what I've said all along- and what the author of the PinkBike story finally cops to- that being that Interbike is irrelevant. Check out this bit I wrote six years ago:

"The biggest question still out there is "Will moving Interbike and its date even matter?" I would have to say that without the bigger companies commitment to coming to Interbike, and instead, having their own private "dealer camps", Interbike will be ineffectual as a place for the independent bicycle dealer to come to for an overview of what to expect in the coming year. The other thing is that with Sea Otter in the spring, and Eurobike located where it is, I don't see Interbike gaining back much, if any, relevance in as far as introductions of new products and innovations that would draw dealers and the media alike."

Yep- I wrote that last paragraph six years ago. Makes me wonder if that PinkBike guy is just ripping me off. (<===HA! Not really. ) Anyway, this isn't news, it is just inevitability finally playing itself out. Anyone paying attention could see this coming years ago.

Need a set of 29+ wheels for your fat bike?
 Plus Wheels For 197mm/150mm Fat Bike For Sale:UPDATE- THIS ITEM SOLD

Okay, I wanted everyone that reads here to know that I have added a wheel set for sale on my Garage Sale page. For $500.00 you can get this 29"er plus wheel set made to fit a Blackborrow, Surly ICT, or similar fat bike with 197mm rear through axle and 150mm spaced front fork with 15mm through axle. Not only that, but it comes with an XD driver already mounted with a 10T-42T GX cassette. NOT ONLY THAT, but you will also get a brand new set of Bontrager Chupacabra tires, 29 X 3.0" TLR and still on their retail sale cards. The wheels feature Turnagain hubs laced to Velocity Dually rims. Basically, all you'll need to add is tape, valve stems, and your bike and you can have a turnkey 29+ set up for a fat bike. Also- these components have never been used! Brand new stuff!! 

I've decided to go a different direction and I am going to sell these things off as I won't be using them. They were going to go on my Blackborrow at one point. These wheels, tires, and cassette, plus spokes, nipples and labor to build the wheels would normally cost you $1000.00 for the pair. You are getting it all for half price.

Also- I have a lightly used Bluto fat bike fork off a 2015 Salsa Mukluk for sale as well. Make me an offer. I need it to go away as well. Thanks!

I am also adding a Mukluk frame in Xtra Small Size for sale. Great shape. It is the one my son out grew. Yours for $300.00. Frame only! I have a fork which can be added if you are interested, or you could buy the Bluto with this at a package deal price.

Let me know if you need them. See the Garage Sale Page for more details. 

Here it is! The longed for Big Dummy in the flesh!
Big Dummy In The House"

Some would say that the "big dummy" is me! Anyway, I got the Big Dummy home last weekend and started using it straight away. I have to say that I was right about this bike. It is sooooo much better than the Xtra-Cycled Schwinn that there can be no comparison.

There is a bit of an odd fit to these things though. I noticed that this bike has gobs of standover, but the seat tube is still 20" in length measured from the center of the crank spindle to the top of the tube. Yet the top tube seems 1990's short. I was a bit cramped and too upright at first. So, I yanked out the Uno seat post I got with the bike and popped in the Salsa Shaft post I had because of the greater set back. It was marginally better, but still not enough, mostly due to the Brooks saddle. Those saddles are notoriously difficult to get set back far enough due to the design of the rails and undercarriage.

So, I got another seat post! This one was a Paul's Tall and Handsome post. First off, it works, it is beautifully simple, and it is beyond well made. Secondly- damn! It is expensive!! I get that it is made in the good ol' USA and all, but it clears $100.00 retail by a lot and let me tell ya folks, it isn't that special. The thing is though, it does as advertised and gets that Brooks right in the sweet spot. Perfect, as a matter of fact. What would you pay for a perfectly set up Brooks? Answer: Waaay too much money, but the results cannot be had in any other way. So, in the end, it was worth it. It made the Big Dummy work better for me, that's for sure.

Three seat posts later and now I am happier yet. I have more to say about this bike. Stay tuned......

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend! get out and ride!!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fat Bike Century Challenge

Starting to work on my set up
My fiend Tony asked me the other day to do a fat bike century with him. Challenge accepted. Hmm......now what?

I certainly am not doing this on my Blackborow DS, that's for sure! Way too low a gear and one speed. Nope. Not gonna do it. So, my only other choice right now is the Ti Muk. That's a great choice, but for one detail, and that has to do with gearing also. I changed it to 1X just recently.

That small 28T chain ring is going to get a work out! The SRAM NX cassette is as well. I tooled around a bit yesterday to try and get a feel for speed on this beast, and I think it will be okay, really. The thing is, I suspect I'll be in the highest three cogs, maybe four, all day. Yep. It can work, but ya know, bigger gears are more efficient than smaller ones are. 

So, you say, "Just change out the crank set ring!"  Ah! But the OD crank as an oddball BCD. Well......nowadays it is oddball. It didn't use to be that way. Anyway, getting a bigger "narrow-wide" chain ring for that is going to be tough or maybe impossible in less than two weeks. I'll just run what I have. It will work, but I may wear it out! We'll see.

Bar Yak cockpit set up.
There are greater concerns to be dealt with anyway. Like water. I have to not carry that on my back, so I think that light, supple On One carbon fork is coming off and the Enabler is going back on for now. That will solve the water issue. Two cages on the fork and two on the bike should suffice for this deal. The lowest, third cage on the frame will be for repair bits and tools in a bottle.

While I am at it I probably will go to a Big Fat Larry up front and a Larry out back. Lighter rubber will be a good thing and the Larry tread pattern rolls fast. Heck, I may go regular Larrys all the way around. I'll have to see what I have available to me to throw on there.

I transferred over the Bar Yak system to the Ti Muk for now as well. This will be its first big outing when we attempt this, so I will be interested to see how things work out during the ride. I tooled around a bit on the extensions to get a feel for that positioning and I like it so far. Getting down out of the wind will likely be a valuable thing at some point during the ride. I may have to spring for a GPS unit to track everything with and get mileage off of before we head out.  It would be a lot better than a wired computer! That's for sure!

Okay, so that's the plan of attack so far. I will be doing some experimenting and modifications yet that I want to try. Then I'll load up with Epic bars and Justin's Almond butter packets, throw in some flattened bananas,and head out for 100 miles of gravel on a fat bike. Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Velo Orange Cigne Stem Overview

The Velo Orange "Cigne" stem is an "LD" type stem for drop bar mtb's
Background: In the weird world of off road drop bars, one of the main issues is getting the drops up in the air high enough that the drop position becomes your primary hand position. Let's face it, there are not many hard tail mountain bikes that were ever designed around such an idea, so typically you will find yourself retrofitting drops to a flat bar hard tail mtb. When you try to do this, you will find yourself fighting against two big hurdles that are hard to clear.

The first of these two hurdles is that the reach, or in old mountain biker's parlance, the effective top tube length, is going to be a bit too long for a drop bar. Why? because unlike flat bars, a drop bar adds to the overall reach of the cockpit. The "reach" of the drops adds to the effective top tube length, so stem length is critical to a successful drop bar conversion on an old mountain bike. The stem reach needs to be very short, typically.

The second hurdle is that the head tube lengths on most mountain bikes are relatively short compared to those bikes designed for drop bars. Why? Because drop bars have depth while flat bars are on a single plane. To make the drop section useful in almost every case, you need a stem with a steep rise. Those are typically very hard to find in short reach dimensions. It's either that or you get a frame designed around drop bars which will typically have a longer head tube to alleviate that issue. See the Salsa Fargo and El Mariachi models for a perfect example of what I mean here.

Back in the 1980's, builders of mountain bikes used a stem design that was most often associated with Potts, Ibis, and Cunningham bikes to get around the two hurdles I mention above. Known as the "LD" type stem by many, it is a simple and elegant way to get around the longer top tubes and shorter head tubes of mountain bikes when drop bars are desired. The trouble was that these custom builders either became something else, died out, or stopped producing these types of stems over the ensuing years till now. The only way to get such a stem was to contract a custom builder that was amenable to the idea of making stems to make you one, which is obviously very expensive. So, most riders just "make do" with whatever stems they can get.

My Karate Monkey with a Dimension riser stem in the shortest reach and highest rise available. 
Above you can see what I mean about "making do". This is my '03 Karate Monkey with a Origin 8 "Gary Ergo Sweep OS Bar" (Velo Orange has the identical bar as the Daija Far Bar) and I am using the Dimension stem in the highest rise and shortest reach possible. Without adding a stack-o-spacers on a longer steer tube, (which is impossible since I cut that fork in '03), this is the best possible set up I could get. Well, other than a custom stem. Anyway, the drop section is a bit too low for my liking, and as you can see, the tops are about at the same level as the saddle. I also wasn't keen on the reach, which was a bit too long for my tastes.

A quick mock up using the Cigne stem. Now that is a big difference!
Above here you can see my quick mock up using the Velo Orange Grand Cru Cigne Stem. Sheesh folks! Do we really need such long names?!! Maybe we could have called it the "Tom" stem, or the "Nancy" stem and made it simpler. Anyway......

Fancy pants long name aside, this stem radicalizes my set up. Check out the reach, which is 70mm for the stem. You can get an 80mm reach Cigne stem too, but I went for the shortest option here. Obviously, the height is there as well. Check out how much higher the drop section is. Totally usable now as opposed to marginally usable before.

You can check out all the technical mumbo-jumbo here if you want to, but the bottom line is that now one can get a tested, well designed, good looking stem for converting a mtb to drop bar use. This stem will make many more set ups far more versatile and workable than before at a reasonable cost. You could also probably use this stem to raise a road bike's handle bar to more comfortable levels as well, ala Grant Petersen's preferred handle bar height and other sundry rules.

I will do a more ride performance oriented review of sorts after I get this set up squared away with longer cables and housings. Until then, this should give you a better idea how a good, proper drop stem can make drop bars work better on a hard tail mtb designed around flat bars. The Cigne stem comes in black as shown, silver, or a special nickle finish. You can get Velo Orange components from your local bike shop.

NOTE- I bought the Velo Orange Cigne stem with my own damn money and was not paid nor bribed for this review. All statements are my own and may not reflect the opinions of Grant Petersen, Velo Orange, or anybody else on this planet. So there.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trans Iowa v13: Registration Tweaks Update

A little over ten days ago I listed some ideas that I had planned to implement for the Registration for Trans Iowa v13 and I asked for feedback or you'd get stuck with my plans. Well, I didn't get much feedback, so guess what? You can't complain now. The train has left the station......

So, if I get any complaints now, or in the future, I will take them under advisement, as far as you know, but I will not address or answer any questions going forward about how registration works and why I am doing it this way. Going forward, this is the plan, so make notes. I'm only posting this once.

Okay, so there is now a "Trans Iowa Inactive List". As I stated almost two weeks ago, there are just too many folks on the Veterans and Finishers lists now to allow just anyone in via postcard. I am instituting the Lottery to help with this. That said, there are a LOT of folks that have not tried getting into Trans Iowa for several years. I put these folks on the Inactive List. It doesn't mean that these people cannot get into Trans Iowa ever again. It simply means that I am weeding out seemingly uninterested folks from the Veterans Lottery so those who really want in have a better chance at it. (Because the numbers in that lottery will be lower, so the chances are better that your card will be drawn.) The Inactives can send in a post card, but it will go into the Rookie Lottery batch. That is if anyone on the list actually bothers to try. Which, obviously, hasn't been the case for several years. So, this will, in all probability, be a moot point except in rare instances.

There is also a new "Trans Iowa "Plus Six" and Active Winners List". There are 25 folks on that list currently, and these folks are the only ones that will simply be allowed to enter by post card now. The reason for this is that they have been regular attenders and riders in Trans Iowa with their most recent ride being post T.I.v7. These riders also have to have at least six or more Trans Iowa attempts. The remaining names here are the most recent winners- T.I.v7 to the present- and of these none have done six Trans Iowas, but they have won in recent years, and have ridden in T.I.v8 or later.

So, it is simple. If you are one of the 25 on the Trans Iowa "Plus Six" and Active Winners List, you will have the opportunity to get in via a post card, with info I ask for on it and sent to a specific address. That leaves, at least, 95 spots left open.

Of those 95, there will be a Lottery for Rookies for 40 spots. Rookies are folks that have never been in a Trans Iowa before. The Rookies will have to send in a post card for the lottery. The details of how and when to send those in will be released soon. There is a possibility that a few Trans Iowa Inactive List riders will be in the batch for these 40 spots. This will leave 55 spots left open for Trans Iowa v13.

The remaining 55 spots will be for Veterans of past Trans Iowas that do not have their names on any of the above lists. There will be a lottery for the remaining 55 spots only if I get more than 55 entrants via post cards, the details of how and when to send those in will be released soon.

This is the layout if I get all 25 names on the Plus Six and Active Winners List to enter. If less than 25 enter, there will be more spots available for Veterans. If I do not, for some bizarre reason, fill out the Vet spots, then I will move those down to the Lottery for the Rookie and Inactive list folks.

Got it? Good!

Details on Registration will be announced this weekend. Stay tuned!