Sunday, October 20, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Hanging Out In Hawkeye

 "Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

Last week I left off with the meeting of Ira in Janesville and seeing off Marcin Nowak on his pursuit of him. I didn't stick around long as I wanted to be sure nothing fishy was going to happen during the evening.

I still hadn't heard a thing from Zach and I was beginning to think he had bailed out on me when he buzzed me on his cell phone. Now, rural Iowa in 2007 wasn't a very well covered state in terms of cell service. Zach's transmission to me was crackling, static ridden, and he cut out a bit. It was difficult to communicate with him. I tried but we decided to connect later and see if the signal would be better.

In the meantime I was leapfrogging the course again, bypassing more flooded roads which I only learned about well after T.I.v3 was over. In later Trans Iowas this event cemented in me that I had to stick to the course in the future. But for the time being, I was none the wiser. Another issue began to raise its head during this Trans Iowa also. That being that small town convenience stores were ceasing the 24hr service and closing at 10pm, 11pm, and in rare cases, midnight. This meant that the next planned service I had on course would be closed before any riders got there. Yeah......they ended up riding something like 88 miles without service. At least the front runners did. In the early days of Trans Iowa I felt that was a problem. However; I came to understand that the riders could manage longer distances between service opportunities, so later on, an 88 mile stretch between stores was nothing.

Later into the event the slower riders didn't have these issues. They actually were welcomed at 6:00am when this particular place on the T.I.v3 route opened up again. I'd guess about half the 24 finishers benefited. I was a bit upset about it back then because my gauge was to have service opportunities at 50 mile intervals or less. So, I felt a bit of a failure was suffered there on my part, but at the time I just had to let things play out. I could change this in the future. 

Only I was not sure there ever would be a future for Trans Iowa.

Anyway, one of the notable things to me about this T.I. was that I did take a camera, but I lost the files, so I have about two images that I took from it. Weird. That never happened again! But this time, Zach actually covered the event well enough in words that images are not needed as far as my part went, and David Story's awesome covering of the event in terms of images was more than enough to satisfy me. Also, a rider in T.I.v3, Cale Wenthur, took a bunch of great images, some of which I have been using to document T.I.v3 here. (Thanks Cale!)

Speaking of Zach, his take on events of that particular evening were epic. He mentioned being lost in Iowa, the gridded out roads presenting a maze which confused him to no end. He finally did call me and got back on track. By this time I was in Hawkeye awaiting leaders to come by and I was parked in front of a Lutheran Church there. Zach finally arrived a little before 2:00am, and we compared notes from the day. Ira lumbered through town then, with little more than a nod to our existence, he rode on. Then the young women in the truck scene happened:

*".....a pickup truck lumbered around the corner at the telltale pace of a DUI dodger and bumbled over the curb and into the middle of the lawn across the street. A woman jumped out and sprinted inside the house. She left the driver's side door open. She left the country music station on. Blaring. The latest Nashville hits now pound through Hawkeye's half dozen comatose streets, a twangy and tinny surrealist performance-art installation in the making. First I expect the cops to come. then I realize there probably aren't any.

 That was one of the odder things I ever witnessed during a Trans Iowa that wasn't related to the event. By the way, Zach didn't really impart how loud this was. The truck had headers and glass packs, and the stereo was blaring over that. So REALLY LOUD! I remember Zach standing there, slack-jawed, and asking me when the cops would show up. That's when I had to explain to him that there weren't any cops. Maybe a county deputy?.... nah! I told him that the only thing that would happen would be that the local residents would be talking down about it for a few days afterward. Otherwise, standard procedure for these parts!

Not long after this, Marcin came through, his jersey fully unzipped, flapping in the wind. He asked me if there were any convenience stores up the road, and I told him there were none.

" Oh boy, oh boy!", he exclaimed, and he stood up and punched his pedals, disappearing into the blackness. We then waited to see who else would follow up, but by around 3:00am, Zach was cashing out. I stayed up and kept vigil. It was cold, dark, and now eerily silent in Hawkeye. The girl in the truck had long since gone. Nothing was stirring. I had to relieve myself after having downed several Red Bulls. I found a suitable scrub pine behind the church, away from the street, and then I was anxious to get on to the finish line. We had about 40 miles to go, and I figured that Ira would be getting there around 5:00am, so we had to get a move-on.

I tapped on Zach's rental car window until he stirred. "C'mon! We gotta roll!", I said. Zach finally got his act together and we zoomed out of town to the finish. I wanted to be there to make sure I didn't miss it. On the way I rolled a huge racoon under the "Dirty Blue Box" and I was running so hard around the twisty-turny roads that Zach said he could barely hang on to my car. We met up with our two volunteers, Marty and Rob, plus a few others. Zach kind of faded into the background after this point. I was pretty out of it by mid-morning anyway, despite Zach saying that I was bouncing around full of energy. He was busy observing, speaking with others, and then he disappeared. Needed more sleep, I guess, but I don't ever remember saying goodbye to him and I never saw him again.
I've no recollection of doing the awards for T.I.v3. (Image by Cale Wenthur)

Of course, I've written about what happened at the finish a bunch of times. The epic chase of Marcin Nowak coming up ten minutes short. How Team Polska animated the entire finish line experience.  How Ira Ryan was not pleasant to me, and how his entourage was not friendly as well. It's interesting to look back on the apologists who have commented about the incident with Ira in later years, but as it stands, I have never heard from Ira Ryan since that day. And ya know, it doesn't matter. He won. Twice. He was awesome as a cyclist and certainly holds a high place in Trans Iowa history. I will never deny that he did good for the event from afar. If it hadn't been for Ira, Zach would probably never have written the book, and well......I would be poorer for that. So, in the end, despite Ira's malediction at the end of T.I.v3, I still hold that he is a champion of the event. An enigmatic champion- certainly, but a champion none the less.

*Note: Quotation in blue italics is from Zach Dundas' "Renegade Sportsman" chapter on Trans Iowa. I'll be referencing Zach's book in future editions of Trans Iowa Stories. 

Next: The Reasons Why It Shouldn't Ever Have Happened Again 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-44

The leaves of ten years ago.
Ten years ago on the blog I was chatting about Fall weather and riding some of the biggest, baddest tires for 29"ers yet made. The WTB Dissent was, if anything, a harbinger of things to come. But at the time, it was the outlier. A tire with no where to really use it, or a bike to use it on.

Ten years ago, trail riding was still dominated by 26" wheels. That's amazing when you think about that. The longest travel, mainstream suspension fork for a 29"er had 4" of travel. There were oddball efforts with longer travel, but these were rare. In fact, I was using a 120mm travel Reba, which at the time was the long end of suspension fork travel for any 29"er.

My.....how times have changed! Now days anything with two wheels going off road is available with 29"er wheels. 26"?

(crickets)

Ask anyone ten years ago if 26" wheels wouldn't be available for trail, much less DH, in the near future and you would have been run outta town. Just ask Chris Sugai of Niner Bikes. He could tell you.....

The image used today was from a mid-week ride ten years ago on Camp Ingawanis' North Side. These trails are largely unused by cyclists today, and as far as I can tell, it will remain so unless there is some movement by the Boy Scouts to invite cyclists back again. That's really a shame for the locals here. Of course, Ingawanis Woodland, the trails formerly known as "The South Side", when the BSA owned that parcel of land, is a fantastic resource, but those old North side trails were technically more challenging, faster, went "cross country", and had far more variety than anything on the South Side. Just one trail, the old "Broken Finger" section, was ten times more challenging than anything on the South Side. But, yeah...... I could talk for days. Only those who were on those trails can really understand what it is I am trying to convey here.

Obviously, I miss riding there. It was my choice to always do the North Side trails and then maybe do the South Side if I had the time. If you did all the North Side you were pretty tuckered out. There was more mileage there, (even considering today's Ingy trails which didn't exist back then), and the efforts required to do all the North Side were more taxing too. It was just all-around more fun.

Anyway....

At least I had the opportunity to taste what that was like a lot ten years ago. I am very grateful that I did get that chance.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday News And Views

RAGBRAI Forges Ahead:

Since Tuesday's announcement that the entire RAGBRAI staff had resigned and decided to start up a different ride called "Iowa's Ride", everyone concerned with the issue had been wondering what RAGBRAI would do. Well, on Wednesday a statement was released by RAGBRAI via its newsletter to email subscribers from a marketing person stating that RAGBRAI would, in fact, occur in July 2020.

Obviously the Des Moines Register is scrambling to get an organization set up to take care of the production of the event. No details were given that anyone had been hired or appointed as of yesterday.

Also, yesterday the Iowa Bicycle Coalition announced its support of "Iowa's Ride". Here is an excerpt from their announcement: "We believe that Iowa’s Ride will be the most successful way to continue the iconic annual bicycle ride across Iowa, not only in 2020 but for many years to come. The team that has formed Iowa’s ride and that will be organizing and managing it have unmatched experience and success in doing so. They are the best hope for continuing this proud tradition. We also believe that a cross-state ride will be best operated and most likely to succeed as a stand-alone and independent entity. This is what Iowa’s Ride offers."

On one hand you have a seasoned team in Iowa's Ride that knows how to do this deal. However; this ride has no equity with traditional RAGBRAI riders, many who won't give a rip about the Carson King Affair. They just want to do RAGBRAI, since.....well RAGBRAI. It's a religion with some folks. That said.....

RAGBRAI has a pickle to deal with, and they won't have anyone with the sort of experience that T.J. Juskiewicz and his team have. What sort of production can we expect from a rookie team? Then too, will mainstay vendors stick with the ride? There are a lot of issues with RAGBRAI, and like anything that's been around a long time, a lot of grumbling factions, some of which may want to jump ship to see their visions possibly become reality.

In fact, that's probably the underlying reason why the folks behind Iowa's Ride left RAGBRAI in the first place.

Measure Your Wrists- Find Your Saddle Size! Really!

Many of you may be aware that saddle size for your bicycle is like shoes, or gloves, or helmets. One size does not fit all. Or even most, for that matter. So, in the last ten years or so, a few ideas have been put forth to help people sort out which size saddle they could be more comfortable on. (Note- I said "could be")

Sometimes this might be effected by having a sample run of saddles that you actually tried out on your own bicycle. Several companies went that direction, including WTB, back a decade ago or so. Then Bontrager had a system which included a gel filled cushion on a small bench. You sat yourself within the center of this, and theoretically, your sit bones would push away the gel and a color coded scale would lead you to your correct saddle width choice. It was a start, for sure, and I realized when using this system that I had been using a saddle too narrow for me.

Once I had narrowed that down I still had to search for a saddle shape and padding that worked for me. Eventually I ended up on mostly WTB stuff with a smattering of Brooks saddles thrown in for good measure. Last year WTB announced new, wider widths for some of their saddle line and I got to try out the Silverado in a 143mm width. Oh! New favorite saddle!

Then at Gravel Worlds the fit system was being talked about at the WTB booth. I was......pretty skeptical. I watched as my friend Tony went through the four steps and had a width suggested to him along with a couple saddles that matched his profile. Then I went back home and pretty much forgot about it.

In that time I started experiencing some discomfort with my old standby, the WTB Pure. As we age, things change. Maybe I needed to start thinking about a new saddle. The Silverado? Maybe. Then WTB's marketing guy sent me an e-mail asking if I wouldn't go through the saddle finder system and try a saddle or would I? So, I agreed, and this new Volt is what I was sent. Stay tuned for the results.....

One sided, but made for gravel travel.
TIME Does Gravel:

TIME is a well known pedal and shoe purveyor that has been most used in the road cycling circles, but they do have an excellent MTB pedal that is shamefully under-represented in the mountain biking and gravel road segments.

Recently TIME announced a new pedal aimed at, what else, gravel riding. Well, to be fair, they are saying this was also influenced by the needs of cyclo-tourists as well. The deal here is that road pedals have a great, supportive platform, but generally use a cleat that necessitates a shoe design which is awkward to walk in. TIME solved this issue with their new Ciclo pedal.

I used road pedals and shoes once, for a short time, in the early 1990's. The ones I tried were those Shimano two bolt cleat ones, remember those? They were smallish and harder than heck to get into, at least I thought so. And those shoes! Gah! Not for me. And then I went MTB shoes/pedals and never looked back. So, I really have no reference point for this "support" you get with more of a platform pedal.

This will be newer territory for me, and I am going in with an open mind to see what, if any, real differences there are. I am quite familiar with carbon soled shoes and stiffer soled MTB style shoes, while my preference usually was for a bit more flex than not. In fact, one of my all-time favorite shoes of recent years was a pair of middling Shimano three strap MTB shoes.

I'll probably bolt these cleats to my old 45NRTH bootie shoes, since, ya know, Fall has progressed to the point that traditional shoes are not going to be a good choice. Stay tuned for how this all works out.

Note: TIME and WTB sent the items mentioned in today's post to RIDING GRAVEL for review at no charge. There was no money exchanged or promises made to include these items in today's post. 

That's it for this week. get out and ride, but be careful of all the farmers this weekend if you ride out in the country in the Mid-West. 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Fall Views: Blustery Day Back On The Bike

Many of the roads were in fast shape.
Well, good news! Mrs. Guitar Ted's recovery is coming along really well and I was released to go out and ride again. So, I took the opportunity to head out on a grey, blustery day with the Gen I Fargo, which I needed to put time on to continue the "Lube-Off" test.

With a steady wind out of the Northwest, maybe about 15-18mph, I decided to go North first. I went the traditional way up Moline Road first and then hopping over a mile East on Airline Highway, I then headed back Northwards on Sage Road.

The goal for the day was two hours. I had a steady cadence going as I tried to keep things "spinny" going into the wind. It is a mostly uphill slog too, at least until you pass C-57, and then it flattens out more until you get to the County line where it gets positively flat. Then the plan was to head West over to Burton Avenue to check on the two rural churches out there, then back across East at some point to get back to Sage and Southwards to the starting point again.

With the temperatures in the mid-40's and that wind, it was going to be chilly. So I busted out the wool that has been stored away since last Spring and used a wool base layer, an old Salsa Cycles wool jersey, and the Riding Gravel vest over that. I wore 3/4's length Endura pants with a liner short, and wool socks from a company called Feeture. The Shimano RX8 shoes were used with shopping bag vapor barriers. My gloves were full finger jobs from Cuero, and on my noggin I used a "buff" synthetic sock and my aero helmet. Ready? Ready!

Skies looked ominous but there was zero rain in the forecast.
One of the rare times the Sun shone on me. Lots of corn still out here too!
The harvest, which on a normal year would be wrapped up by now, is just now cranking into high gear. It was postponed a couple weeks back when we got all the heavy rains in the area. As I started out my ride, I saw no movement in any field. Just a lot of rattling corn leaves in the wind and a lot of dried up soybean fields.That scene would change as the day went on though.

Methodist church on Sage Road
I surprised this dog I found trotting North on Sage Road.
Earlier in the year, I was getting pinned down by aggressive dogs on every ride. That prompted me to dub 2019 as "The Year of the Dog". and of course, as soon as I did that, the dog problems ceased to be an issue for the rest of the Summer. Going up Sage Road I came up on a black dog trotting up the road in the same Northerly direction. The dog could not hear me or smell me because I was down wind of it. I whistled and caught its ear, figuring that would be better than taking it by surprise and perhaps fomenting a bad response. However; when the dog heard my whistle, it turned toward me and started trotting back, keeping as far away to the side of the road as was possible. It had the look of a dog just caught being naughty. It never barked at me, it just shot a furtive glance at me as I passed seemingly to say, "Please don't hurt me!" Poor thing!

Farm equipment was being marshaled for the assault upon the ripened fields all across the area.
A harvester in a bean field on the Black Hawk/Bremer County line.
Eventually I started seeing trucks and farm machinery moving across the gravel roads. LOTS of pick-up trucks were flying around, and a few busted up vehicles as well. No doubt men and machines were being put into motion as the harvest gets really cooking now. I caught several weird looks, as I suppose most people would not expect a cyclist out there, especially at this time of year. I'm sure I made the albums on more than a few cell phone cameras.

East Janesville Church.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church
I cut across on the county line Westward with the aim to go check on the two rural churches on Burton Avenue in Northern Black Hawk County. After this I planned on crossing C-57 on Burton, then turning back East on Bennington Road to go back to Sage and then on back the way that I came out of Waterloo.

I was measuring my efforts after turning out of the wind, trying not to take too much advantage of that, and eventually the tailwind as I went South. I wanted to check up on my speed to make sure I didn't go too hard and to make sure I got two hours of riding in.

The light caught just right in the high tension line's insulators making them look like they were lit up.
I had to dismount for this enormous harvester. It took up the entire roadway!
I made my way back the way I had come out, which was basically no big deal, except at the corner of Sage Road and Airline Highway, where I met this gigantic John Deere harvester. It had been fitted with duallys, no doubt against the high probability of wet field conditions, and that made it so wide there was literally only two feet either side of it of open gravel road. I dismounted, considered getting into the ditch, but it turned South and so I waved and watched it move down the road. Not far behind, the cutting head, the part that cuts the bean plants and conveys them into the harvester, was being pulled behind a 4X4 truck. That vehicle made as wide a turn as possible, due to the length of the apparatus, and it barely made the turn. These machines could not be any larger! They simply could not be transferred on these gravel roads built with horses and wooden wheeled wagons in mind.

And of course- Barns For Jason!
So, I ended up with two and a half hours of good times and I sure needed that! The harvest will quickly change the look of the landscape. I am sure the next ride I do will be all about barren fields and the scenery will be sullen and brown again. But for now, I was stoked to get this ride in on the cusp of harvest.

I have an hour and a half yet on this drive train for the "Lube-Off", then it will be on to the "control bike", the DuMonde Tech lubricated one, and the conclusion of this test will then be arrived at. I better get to gettin'! The riding days are surely numbered now with November on the door step.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Former RAGBRAI Staff Look To Start New Iowa Tradition

In a bombshell announcement, former RAGBRAI director, T.J. Juskiewicz and the entire RAGBRAI team under him resigned on Tuesday. This apparently over issues regarding the kerfuffle that the Des Moines Register/Gannett/USA Today found itself in over the handling of the Carson King social media affair.

 That affair has to do with Carson King's initiative to support the Iowa Children's Hospital charities, an initiative precipitated when King, a college student here in Iowa, asked for beer money by holding up a sign on national TV. Subsequently, the prank went viral and King was flooded with dollars which he then promised to the Iowa Children's Hospital. Several large corporations and entities joined in the viral media blitz which quickly raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then, in research for a Des Moines Register article profile on King, King's social media history was mined by a Des Moines Register reporter and the reporter found racist comments King made years ago on Twitter as a teenager. These comments, when brought to light, had the effect of causing Anheuser-Busch to pull support from King's initiative. King publicly apologized ahead of the DM Register story, and public opinion, which was in support of King, was such that the whole situation blew up into what amounted to a public image fiasco for the Register. This went so far that the DM Register reporter had his social media history searched, and when racist statements were uncovered that he had made, he resigned.

Why does this matter to RAGBRAI? Well, the ride is owned by the Des Moines Register/Gannett/USA Today, and their public image handlers were, according to Juskiewicz, trying to hush the narrative since it was a negative for the business. Apparently, Juskiewicz had endured enough.

Quote posted to the RAGBRAI page by T.J. Juskiewicz which was later pulled from the site. 
 In response, Juskiewicz and his team had a ride announcement, website, and statements at the ready for this day. The new venture, dubbed "Iowa's Ride" is set to occur on the week that traditionally was RAGBRAI week, and half the proceeds from the ride are tabbed to go to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The route announcement is set for November, and further details will be released later.

Comments/Reactions: RAGBRAI, an Iowa tradition since 1973, was the largest organized bicycle ride, maybe world-wide, but certainly in the U.S. Now that string is threatened by this development. It's almost too bizarre to be true, but apparently it is- RAGBRAI just might be done. (Or not- see below.) Note that the "Iowa's Ride" website is fully developed and was obviously worked on and developed ahead of Tuesday's bombshell announcement. So, it is safe to say this move has been in the works for awhile now.

Just the other day I was remarking to N.Y. Roll, (ironically via Facebook Messenger), that "social media ruins everything". One perhaps could now say this about RAGBRAI. Had social media not existed, this whole Carson King mess would never had happened, and RAGBRAI would be chugging into its 48th edition unabated. But, in a twist of fates that could only have happened due to social media, we just may be seeing the demise of one of the greatest cycling spectacles in history.

Or......will we see litigation against the former director and his team tie up the new event so that it won't happen? Money is involved here, so don't be at all surprised to see this happen. If it does, it will likely have a negative effect on the DM Register/Gannett/USA Today which may surprise them, and cause both rides to not happen at all in 2020. From a Des Moines Register article Tuesday:

"Asked whether Gannett plans to take legal action against organizers of the proposed Iowa’s Ride, Yost said the company is exploring all legal options."

It's a big deal economically to bicycle shops in the Mid-West, and communities that host the ride are also standing to be affected negatively if the situation devolves into a litigation battle. Public opinion is not currently on the side of the Register either, so they need to be careful not to deal themselves a further blow by making the situation worse. With several people voicing support for the new ride, it would seem that the tide has already been turned against RAGBRAI.

So could there be two concurrent cross-state rides rivaling each other for the rider's time and monies? Doubtful. The RAGBRAI relies heavily on support from the State Patrol to operate, and without that support, neither the RAGBRAI or Iowa's Ride could happen. It's doubtful the State Patrol would support two concurrent rides of this magnitude, assuming "Iowa's Ride" could draw a big enough crowd. But who knows? It also will be a decision many vendors will now face. To support the old event, or the new? Again, with all the economics of the event at stake, it seems that a legal battle might be imminent.

Apparently, according to a report posted online by KCCI late Tuesday afternoon, the following statement was made by a representative of Gannett/USA Today: 

"We’ll continue RAGBRAI’s longstanding tradition in 2020 with another great bicycle ride and strong partnerships with Iowa communities to raise money for good causes. Our commitment remains to donate $50,000 to the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital. We’re proud of the good RAGBRAI has done for the state since 1973."- Andy Yost, chief marketing officer at Gannett.

So, the coming weeks and months will provide some drama in regard to what may or may not happen for next Summer where any "Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa" is concerned.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

KOM Sealant Injector Reviewed

KOM Sealant Injector. (Tire levers and core remover are in foreground)
Note: As Mrs. Guitar Ted convalesces, and "other things" transpire, I will be rolling out some reviews and other pieces until I can resume a regular riding and cycling life schedule. For background on what is happening with Mrs. Guitar Ted see this post from Monday, October 14th

Recently I reviewed the KOM Cycling Sealant Injector System on Riding Gravel. This won't be a re-hash of that review, but I am going to give you an "extended viewpoint" since I posted that review and a bit of background. 

Sealant injectors are not anything new and I have used one in one form or another for......maybe ten years? I bet it's been that long. Early tubeless valve cores did not have removable cores in some cases, so sealant injectors weren't always applicable, but now a removable valve core had better be there, or your valve is last century technology. Once those became ubiquitous, I started using a plastic syringe and a piece of surgical tubing to suck sealant into the syringe, then by placing the tubing over the nipple of the syringe and the other end over the open valve, I could seamlessly inject sealant into a tire. Well.....theoretically, I could. 

Some times the sealant would back out of the syringe and dribble. Some times the tubing would pop off the valve or the syringe with the messy result of sealant spray all over the place. Some times none of those two things would happen. However, there might be times when air was trying to get out of the tire, since it was being displaced by sealant, and it would burp sealant back out of the tire once you removed the tubing from over the valve. Messy, messy, messy! 

 So, what is different with KOM's set up? Well, a couple of big things, but really simple things. First, they developed a petcock valve that sits in-line with the syringe tubing. This allows you to shut off any chances of back flow from the syringe tubing. Secondly, they developed screw on attachment points instead of friction fittings which can come off at inopportune times. Thirdly they made a smaller diameter tube which screws on to the petcock valve and this inserts into the valve instead of fitting over it. That's an important distinction since it allows for air to escape the tire as sealant is injected into it. Less chances for mess. 

The petcock valve in shut position. You won't drip a drop.
These are seemingly minute details, but maybe I am outside the norm, as I set up and maintenance tubeless tires far more than most. That said, this system sets up as a way to make life easier, less messy, and more successful. Who doesn't want that? I know that the system I had been using for a long time is now gathering dust, and I won't be digging it out anytime soon, that is, unless I need a back-up for some reason, or if I lend that old tool out. 

This KOM Sealant Injector is not going anywhere anytime soon. For more info, see their site.  

A word about that lever/core remover deal: KOM also sent me a lever set and a core remover. The core remover is every bit as effective as the Park Tools one, and it nests into the levers, which snap together themselves.  All in all a not-so-lightweight but effective set up that makes it really hard to misplace the core removal tool. I've seen a lot of nifty core removal tools but 90% of them are so tiny that they get sucked into the Swirling Vortex of Hell (SVoH) that is inside every bag on any bike. I cannot count the times I've emptied top tube bags, bar bags, and seat packs and said, "Oh! That's where that went!", and then proceeded to send that same item into another SVoH inside another bag only to be lost again. At least when three things band together, as with the KOM Cycling lever set, they have a fighting chance to survive. And, you know, the core remover is anodized red aluminum, which is basically Kryptonite for any SVoH situation. So, there is that. 

 NOTE: KOM Cycling sent these items reviewed here for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Family Time

Squeezing in some time to do review work, but that's about it right now.
I am not real stoked on 2019, I'll tell y'all that right now. This year is going to go down as one of the most down years I've had both personally and professionally in a long time. But that will all come out later. I can't even talk about some of the stuff that is going on now.

Anyway, I wanted to say that several of you must be sensing this because I've been getting a decent amount of "Is everything okay?" messages of late. To you who have reached out. Thank you. It means a lot. But again- I am okay- it's just that several situations suck right now, and getting through this will see me doing better and being stronger. That's what I believe.

Anyway, one of the things I've had to deal with is Mrs.Guitar Ted and her knee issue. She developed pain and a "catch" in her right knee over the Summer which got progressively worse and then we decided it was time to get something done about it. Surgery to scope out what was going on was required, I think they cleaned up a tear in a ligament, (we get the full report Tuesday), and she's been laid up since Friday now. This precipitated my missing the unPAved event in Pennsylvania over the weekend, and I've been real busy doing the job of two parents since then.

So, I've had to stick close to help my wife if she needed anything. That meant I spent a lot of time cleaning the shop. Which, by the way, has been neglected for far too long anyway. So, that was a good thing. I also got my drop bar Badger back in the game, re-upped sealant on the "Orange Crush" BMC, and worked on the Noble Bikes GX5, which had developed a creaking noise.

The creaking wasn't that sort that I associate with a bottom bracket. But it was higher pitched in frequency, which lead me to think pedals, chain ring bolts, or something like that. So, I removed the crank set, a SRAM Force 1X, and checked the bolts. two were loose. So.......hopefully I put the thing back together and rode it. Still had the same creak, but quieter. Hmm..... I did clean the cranks up a bit. I don't know if my cleaning solution got into the interface of aluminum spider and carbon arm, quieting down a creak? Maybe.

At least Noble Bikes used the Wheels MFG Thread Together BB
I still do not think it is the bottom bracket since Noble Bikes had the good sense not to use standard Press Fit plastic crap for cups in a carbon frame. Nope! They used the Wheels MFG Thread Together unit, which I have installed in a few bikes at work. They seemed to quiet the bikes I put them in down quite a lot, and I was happy to see Noble using this component.

I still might remove it and clean everything up just because. It certainly wouldn't hurt. Besides......something is happening soon that will require it anyway. Stay tuned....... I am pretty stoked to have this development happening, and sooner than later I can talk about that. (So, 2019 isn't all bad!) 

So, yeah...... No big bicycle outings for me this past weekend, and probably not for several days yet. Mrs. Guitar Ted is dealing with a fair bit of pain, so far, but the hope is she'll be back going again in a couple weeks or so. In the meantime, family is priority number one here and it has been all hands on deck with me and the two kids pitching in. Oh! By the way, pardon me while I go check on the laundry...........I'll be back tomorrow.