Monday, October 31, 2005

29"ers and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

As is fitting for a day like today, I will tell a tale of cycling's "headless horseman". The 29 inch wheeled bike has, for it's short life on this orb, become something of a legend. A legend amongst it's small legion of followers, and a far off tale of wonder and amazement to the rest of the twenty six inch riding, dirt brethren. A tale of a "body of riders" without a head!

The mountainbiking world has always had it's icons. Leaders of renown that could easily be identified and pointed to as groundbreakers. Pioneers and innovators of the sport. Names like Fisher, Ritchey, Tomac, and Overend. Even the bicycles themselves are icons in some cases. The original Stumpjumper, the Breezer, and most famously, the original "clunkers" that bombed the Repack Trail.

Surely several modern bikes could be pointed to as offshoots, or actual innovations of today. Perhaps the ubiquitous 29"er falls into this category. I think not, though. It's seen as the red headed stepchild by the mainstream, and the shining messiah by it's followers. In reality it's a movement without a leader. Not one design element, not one single person, or group leads the charge. It's merely a wheel. An innocent enough object, yet full of wonder. In the 29 inch size, a terror to the established hierarchy. The knaves and peasants take up their scythes and pitchforks, attacking with lighted torches the very notion that a bigger wheel does anything but slow you down. Yet, this growing sector of the cycling world does not go away. It continues to thrive without means of sustenance by any clear leader. No shining race star, no groundbreaking new design, and no support from the entrenched industry leaders, ( aside from Trek's Fisher brand)

And so, if you are out on a lonely fire road tonight. If you are riding your trusty steed, and something appears out of the fog that has gigantic wheels and a rider with a ghoulish smile. Do not fear! It's just that 29 inch wheel rider, rolling over everything in his path. He won't hurt you, but he might just twist your arm a little! (hint-hint!)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunday: Late Edition

I got that ride in on Saturday and Ron Saul, if you are reading this, I cleaned the sand pit BOTH ways! Wahoo! That took just a little tweaking to the riding technique to master. Another good lesson learned! It's always fun when you clean a difficult section that has given you fits. Never give up. Never give in. Right Carlos?

My cold from a week ago has manifested itself as a sinus infection now. Uggh!! Well, at least my wife is an R.N., and knows what to do!

Took the kids to grandma and grandpa's house today. No riding! I missed a fun singletrack ride with the Jackal and Mr. 24. It seems that I'm forever doomed to ride by my lonesome!

Finally, there has been a pretty cool homemade mountain bike video making the rounds from right here in good ol' I-oh-way! The exact location has been with held by the author, but I know where this place is! I have always been told it was one of the sweetest trails you could poach in all of Iowa. Yes, it's illeagal trail, my friends! Sorry, but I'm not tellin'!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Local Info and Saturday in Fall

I went and checked out the "new" bit of trail scratched out in Geo. Wyth State Park yesterday, before I checked into work. You can check out the airial view on J.Y.'s October 27th post, here.

The purpose of this section is a way to make a long enough loop for a planned 6/12 hour race, next year. I am going to offer my opinion here based on the purpose of the trail.

1. "New" trail on a section where plenty of "old trail" exists, but was not utilized, is perhaps, a mistake. Many "old timers" around here might remember the fun, twisty singletrack that existed in this section 10 years ago. It got closed down because most of it was on private land, at that time. Now, the State has ownership, and trail in this area is "legal" again. I realize that special consideration for the race was given priority when this trail was put in recently, so any thoughts that the old fun was back were quickly dashed. This is pretty boring trail, people! There are a couple of interesting off-camber spots, but that's about it. About 100 yards of it is routed on the pea gravel access road.

2. The "new" trail is over alot of imbedded grass clumps, and routed through alot of nettles and other underbrush common to Iowa river bottoms. This is a very common problem that often plagues established trail here locally. This won't present itself until about late April, and then it will be nearly impossible to keep the growth at bay, unless there is a constant parade of riders grinding out the singletrack everyday. That is assuming that the area does not fall prey to flooding, which this trail is susceptable to. Then, depending on the severity of the flooding, will make a race in June or July next to impossible on any of this trail system. Even without a flood, this trail is certainly doomed unless it's constantly supervised from April through July to ward off encroachment of vegetation. It won't be easy! I have several years experience in battling this type of situation myself.

Allright, enough about that! Today is another cool, late fall day, and I plan on cruising around the Green Belt again. This will be a low key, fun ride. There won't be very many more chances to enjoy- actually enjoy- the outdoors on a bike. Pretty soon, it will be so cold, that enjoying the outdoors on a bike might be difficult at best. Hopefully, it stays warm enough for awhile to get several more rides in comfortably.

Get out and ride! Enjoy the chance you have, where ever that may be, to feel the joy of riding your bike.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Commuting By Bike = Risky Business

The topic of getting attacked by passing motorists while riding a bike is not a new one. This is a topic that really hits close to home for me, as I commute to work by bicycle five times a week. I just saw another story relating to this, and it really got me to thinking about a few things.

1. Shouldn't motorist be thanking and even encouraging us because we aren't contributing to the demand for gas, thus making it less expensive and more readily available to them? Instead, they try to kill us!

2. How courageous are you when you point your three ton SUV at me, gun the throttle, and swerve away at the last second while I'm riding on my bike? You really must be tough! Someday, one of these nutjobs is going to get out of their vehicle to confront me. Lord have mercy on that individual!

3. If I, while riding a bike to work, impede your travel by a few measley seconds, how much does that really affect your total travel time? How is it that this sort of "delay" ruins your day? Are you really that mentally fragile?

Well, there probably are no really good answers to these questions. I think that alot of it comes from our sense of entitlement. We think that if our automobile is taken away, broken down, or wrecked that our lives will come to a screeching standstill. Elderly people have been known to give up their will to live when the license is revoked, or so they say! The economy of the nation seems to be intertwined with the success, or lack thereof, of the auto industry.

I remember when I worked for the dark side, at an auto repair shop, when people would give me that look of horror when I informed them that their car would be out of comission for a few days. It was surreal! I remember 9-11, when the fear was that gas prices would skyrocket after the attacks, ( totally un-founded rumor!) when there was a line two to three blocks long at the gas station. People were screaming and cursing at each other at a time when we all needed to be coming together. It was ugly- and scary! Just because they didn't think we would have access to cheap fuel. The same scenes played out recently with the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast region.

We need to wake up! We are in need of something that gas, or money, or things can't give us. That's another story! I'm writing about commuting on a bike, so I'll get back to that!

I encourage you all to try commuting. Try running an errand or two by bike. Make a difference! We all do not have to be cell phone yakking, heater smoking, fast food guzzling H2 pilots, do we? I hope not! Here's an idea! Make a new years resolution now! Declare that you will use your bike for something other than racing or training in 2006, at least once in a while! You do like riding a bike.......right? Well......................???

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Carlos, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

Dear Carlos,

I heard your mothers story about you and I. When we used to frolick together in the Fatherland! I heard that you were ashamed of me. Why? I never did anything to hurt you. We were sooo cute together!

I have come over thousands of miles and over the raging seas to find you. Please, do not forsake me!

Your Lost Pal

It is Time!

It is time for a few things:

............time for indoor training.

............time for next season's planning

............time for Daylight Savings Time to end

Yep, it's time for a few changes! Time to not be satisfied! ( thanks Chadley!) Time to tweak on bike set-ups. Time to get the skis waxed.

It's time for a lot of things.

What time is it for you?

Thursday Special!!

Hey everybody! The shop I work at has a killer deal on this Reba Pop Lock assembly. Handlebar mount with everything you need to turn your non-pop lock Reba into a handle bar mounted lock out set up. Remember, folks, that this can also be used to alter the "platform" feel on the shock on the fly too. Just set the pop-lock lever in any desired posistion between full on, or full off to achieve this feat!

Price is $50.00 plus any tax and shipping. E-mail me, or leave a comment if interested! ( By the way, that price is wholesale!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

T.I.-V2, Clones, and Madness!

Well, just as Mr.24 pointed out yesterday, the Trans Iowa-V.2 is getting cranked up again. We are starting to see things coming together again in the most amazing ways! I think that this is all just due to the fact that Jeff and I hit upon something at the right place and the right time. Other people seem to be just as in tune to this idea- or more so- as we are. It's really fun and exciting to be a part of. Thanks to all you people out there that are putting your energies behind this!

We can't really say alot about the goings on, the sponsors, or the race fee yet. It's just too early, and alot has to be firmed up yet, but it's happening! Stay tuned!! As far as the course goes, well....... Trans Iowa V.2 is alot like poker. In poker, you have to pay to see the winning hand. You wanna see the course, or know about it? You have to "pay". In otherwords, you've got to be part of the event, run the course on your bike, to know. Kapiche? No talk of the course details will be released beforehand. That's the way it is!

Clones? Yes, clones!! There will be a new race based upon Trans Iowa in 2006!! This is not being put on by anyone in connection with Trans Iowa, so don't ask us!! I cannot say where, or what distance, or anything else right now, in deference to the actual promoters of the event. Look for info to be released very soon! It will be a grueling, tough, beautiful, and long event in a very unique area west of the Missouri river. Stay tuned! When it's okay for info to be released, you'll see it here, on Jeff's site, and on Trans Iowa V.2 site.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Danger! Bicycle Bites!!

Here is a rather graphic account of one of the unique dangers of riding a fixed gear bicycle. I knew a guy that this happened to, so it must not be that uncommon. Check it out! Don't look if you are eating, or planning on eating soon. You've been warned!

Monday, October 24, 2005

29er's Aren't Just For Tall People!

Recently, I took a little heat for suggesting that a certain sponsored team racer not consider a 29"er. He was concerned about his heigth, which was around 5'5", or so. (memory a little sketchy here!) Anyway, I told him that plenty of people ride 29"ers and are shorter than he. I did not recommend that he pursue the matter. I didn't dissuade him based upon his height, which many commenters supposed, but rather on the knowledge that he was sponsored by a brand that does not have a 29"er- yet!

This all got me to thinking. While there are plenty of shorter 29" riders out there, the prevailing school of thought is that they are only for tall people! What? Well then, explain this, 29"ers have gained a foothold in the Japanese market. Not noted for their immense numbers of tall people, the bicycle marketplace in Japan boasts many 29" production models not available in America. Why is that? Don't those companies know that 29"ers are only for tall people! Why on earth then would you market these bikes in Japan, a country not noted to have large numbers of "tall people". Could it be that there is an advantage to riding the bigger wheels that even short people can take advantage of? Hmmm...................I seem to remember that Mr. 24 even saw a few 29"ers at the Mighty Duro 24hr Race in Japan while he was there. He even saw a Karate Monkey, which I find a bit ironic, in a twisted sort of way! So, the question remains, why aren't 29"ers for shorter people? I'm listening! RE-ACT TO ME!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Carlos' Party Report

The evenings festivities at the Jackals house were quite sucessful, if I say so myself! It was a rather eclectic crowd, from all walks of life, not just a bunch of cyclists. I think that it shows that Carlos is a well rounded, and well liked person. Anyway, I missed most of the cycling crowd, as they came early and were all gone by 8:00pm. when my wife and I arrived.

The most interesting thing to come out of it all, for me, was Carlos' mom telling me about Carlos' lederhosen. That's right! Carlos was born in Germany, and was outfitted in the finest traditional native garb! The idea was bandied about that perhaps the photographic evidence of Carlos in native German attire might be made available for reproduction on fine cotton undergarments, otherwise known as t-shirts. Then we could have an honorary day for Carlos, and all things German, by wearing said t-shirts whilst polka music wafts in the backround. Whatta ya say Carlos?..................Buddy?........................(crickets)................Did I mention that the picture is cute?

Well, a good time was had, and I thank Amy, and anyone else involved in setting up the party. Great job! And- of course, good job to Carlos on your degree. Much sucess to you in the future!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Happy Accidents

Just caught a news article that stated that a student at Vanderbilt university has stumbled onto to a new way to emit light. It's a revolutionary technique that could spell the end of filament type incandescent bulbs. The interesting thing about the article for me was how it touches on the progression of LED technology. This, as you know, has had a dramatic effect already in the bicycle lighting arena. Imagine, your helmet being "painted" with these electron bundles that emit light! Cool!

Mr. 24 has got the head cold that I am getting over right now. It sucks! Headache, stiffness, and ssoooo tired! I know how he feels! Yeeeee-uck!

I had the chance to introduce a person to the Green Belt trails that I blogged about last Monday. That person would be Ron Saul. We had a great time cruising the twisty, curvy trails, and chatting each other up. An easy, liesurely ride, but fun. Thanks Ron! I got three hours in today, so that's always a good thing. I suppose most racers would call them junk miles, but I think Ron and I would beg to differ on that one today. It was a great fall day to be outside!

Got church, and then it's off to Carlos the Jackals little par-tay! Hope Mr. 24 can make it! Report to come later!

Friday, October 21, 2005

29"ers, Punk Rock, and Zealots!

Ever wonder just what is it with these 29"er freaks? Why are they so willing to take the plunge into unknown territory? Why is it that once they try it, some of them become raging, foaming at the mouth, zealots that hardly can be tolerated? Sometimes the deragatory terminology they use drives normally civil mountain bikers over the edge!

Hmm......well, it seems that there are several sides to this story. One probably sees this sort of thing happen in all sorts of movements. 29"ers are sort of like punk rock. At first, a few people understand, are inspired, or both. Then the rest of the herd says that they are weird, loathsome, and just plain stupid. Once more people begin to enjoy it, embrace it, and become enamored with it, someone usually comes along to make some money off it. Then the whole movement starts to get marketed, sold, and re-packaged, marketed, sold, etcetera, etcetera.

Then strange things start to happen. You will always have those that try it, like it, and go away quietly, reasonably, and use the product like crazy. There are those who will try to defend the product to the still non-believing heathens, who just don't seem to get it, and apparently, need to be thumped on the head, or something. Maybe they need to be justified for spending the coin on an unknown" it"? Maybe they are control freaks, or insecure, or whatever! Some of us like to be available to answer any questions that seekers may have. Some of us have answers. Some have, well.........B.S.!

Anyway, this 29"er thing has just gotten a little too serious with some folks. I do not proclaim to have all of the answers. I suspect most of you out there don't either! Look, 29"ers are a great way to enjoy trail bicycling. You could exploit several benifits of the platform.....if you want to! Hey! If you don't, that's okay. Enjoy your MTB however you see fit. Let's not be shouting each other down because one of us is riding the wrong size wheels. Whatever! Let's go RIDE!!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Hooligans in the House!

Here is Hooligan #1 about to be accosted by twin Monkeytrons! "Your Flying Monkey Chop style is strong! BUT! It's no match for Guitar Ted's Zeep-tie!

Here is Hooligan#2, Carlos the Jackal making a rare appearance on the digital reproduction box as Europa's special shiny object!

Here we have Hooligan #3. He is a well known, sponsored athlete that tends to shun the limelight. Hey! If one pair of shades works for those Hollywood stars, then three pair must be better, right?

Tifosi slut! Ha!

Changes In The Air

The following changes are on the horizon:

1. Cooler, wetter weather is forecast for our area. The heater will be running more, and the bills will get higher! (groan!)

2. Slower at the shop. Less people biking, and no snow to ski on yet. The doldrum season for this lattitude if you work in a bike shop.

3. Trans Iowa work has started in earnest now. Jeff just spruced up the website, and the e-mails have started already! We will be busy off and on with this throughout the fall and winter.

4. Daylight savings time ends soon. Darker in the afternoons. Less time to ride, unless you've got a light set. Start charging those lights! Of course, you could always resort to indoor training! (eeewww!)

I'm sure that there are more, but these are what's on the top of my head today. Keep on riding! It's still pretty nice out, least it is now!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Wednesday Linkage

I have been reading some interesting stuff on some other blogs lately. I thought I would direct ya'all to some of it. There is an awesome write up of Adam Lisonbee's experience at the recently completed 24hrs of Moab that is a must read for anybody interested in endurance events. Then there is the cyclo-cross season, which has swept all over North America. See what Paddy has been up to, north of the border! Crossin' on a fixie, yo! Then we have our local man, J.Y. tearin' up some grass here! Scroll down, cause both Paddy, and J.Y. have been doing cross stuff for awhile lately.

It's fun to see how others are challenging themselves on their bicycles. It may not be for me, ( fixie cross racing?!) but it's fun to read about, and inspiring. Here's a toast to all of you out there that won't let good enough be your satisfaction! It's an encouragement to me, and to others to pick up our bikes, and do the same!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cat Eye Triple Shot Impressions

Mr. 24 left me a Triple shot set up to show my last "Mondays With Mark" class, so that left me with no other choice than to use it to ride home with!

One of the really cool things I noticed right away is how the light mounts. The main unit mounts to the very same handlebar mount that my EL-500 uses. That would mean that I could use either light, as conditions dictated, or that I could buy extra mounts to put on other bikes. Cat Eye sells the mount seperately, if you need one.

The next thing I noticed, again, is how small the battery and light housing are. I mean, I've seen these before, but I'd forgotten just how small they really are. Well, that's a good thing, as the unit isn't clunky, and weighs less than my ancient Turbo Cat lights.
They mount up in a jiffy, with an elastic band/ cord thingy that is used to mount the switch to turn the unit on or off. I suppose you could get the switch mounted to anything round- handle bars, stem, or top tube, if you wanted! Same with the stretchy, velcro battery strap!

When it came time to ride home, I was blessed with the brightest, white light that I've had the pleasure to ride with. Absolutely no dark spots, weird reflector patterns, or lack of coverage. The beam was wide, consistent, and was powerful enough that I didn't feel sketchy on my 20 plus mph descent of "Water Tower Hill". ( along University Avenue, by Hardees, for you local-yocals!) In the darkest section of my commute, down underneath University Avenue, near it's junction with Highway 63, I found that the light would indeed be excellent for single track use. It's a little rough here, but the mount held firm, and the unit did not vibrate, or wiggle a bit.

I'd say that this has the potential to be an excellent off road trail light system. I do not know what the recharge protocall is for this system, so that may change my view of this system somewhat. However; as far as using it on the bike goes, it's a snap! This thing has great light color and output. It's waaaay more light than a commuter needs, but can you ever really have too much light? As for off road lighting goes, this unit would rock! Pair it up with a Double Shot set up as a helmet light, and go coon hunting! You'll have all the light you would ever need, in a color that is easy on the eyes!

Well that is my initial opinions on the Triple Shot light. Great light, and I look for even better stuff to come from Cat Eye in the future! Watch out! Thanks to Mr. 24 for his generousity in lending me this unit to try. Thanks Buddy!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Why 29 Inch Wheels?

Lately, there has been debate on the optimum size wheel for off roading. Some say one size for both is not even right! I find that there are alot of histrionics involved in many of the statements I've seen. I hope to present here, a somewhat opinionated yet measured response, marginally grounded in historical mythology. ( History being a somewhat moldable thing, depending upon the point of view the historian has!)

The "standard" off road size wheel has been the "26" inch sized wheel. It was adopted by the early pioneers of modern, California style off roading as a reasonably tough, cheap, and readily available choice to use. It didn't hurt that the "clunker", or cruiser style frames represented fun, youthfullness, and rugged exploration to these hardened roadie cyclists. It was as about as far away from the jaded race seen, and it's accompaning hoopla as you could get. No gears, fat tires, and heavy, somewhat durable bikes that could be ridden in serene off road settings, far away from the clamour of regular life. Then someone suggested compitition. Then the technology had to change, to keep up with the demands of compitition. Soon, the old cruiser frame was replaced by a purpose built frame. The single speed replaced by a wide range derailluer set up. Parts were sourced that had lighter, stronger, and higher performance than the old cast offs. And then......someone discovered that you could make money selling this stuff!

What's that got to do with wheels, you say? Well, check out that short history lesson again my friend, and you will notice that the wheel size was chosen not for technical superiority, but as a choice of convienience! The wheel size in question happened to work out okay from a standpoint of availability, price, and toughness. The early California pioneers of the MTB didn't have a research lab to see what would make the optimum wheel size for off road adventures. They made their choice out of necessity. However; if they had read their bicycle history books, they may have found a better way!

Years ago, the Safety bicycle was developed around two wheels of similar size, with a chain driven rear wheel. Much experimentation was done to arrive at a wheel size that was the most efficient for the rider, and the terrain of the day. This was usually unpaved, dirt roads! The tire size most regarded as being suitable for adult sized riders was approximately 28 inches in diameter. Keep in mind that the average size for an adult male at that time was well below six foot! Another interesting fact is that in order to accomodate the burgeoning youth bicycle market in the early part of the twentieth century, Arnold Schwinn Company introduced the "balloon tire" bike, which sported an approximate diameter of 26 inches. This was done to reduce the frame sizes so that any child might be able to ride the bike. The balloon tire was wider, and tubular to be run at pressures ranging from 18psi-22psi! This done in an effort to make them more durable, and withstand the rough treatment doled out by youths on not so smooth roads, and dirt paths.

Fast forward to today. Now, once again, the ability to run a more suitable, wide off road tire and wheel exists again with the "29 inch wheel" which is an approximation of the old "adult wheel size" mated to a "balloon" type, lugged tread tire. The tire mounts to the now standard 700c road bike sized rim, optimized for off road use. It's a design drawn from history. It's a wheel size that was proven to work best over other choices for rough, unpaved riding situations. It's a size that was designed for adults of the time. (Keeping in mind, the average adult male is over six foot today!) It's a better choice for trail riding than it's smaller diameter brethren. That's why 29 inch wheels are here to stay.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Sunday Ride

With Recon Plans "A" and "B" shot down in flames, I ended up doing some household chores, and then went for a ride. I love this time of year! I always make a pilgramage to the Greenbelt, along Black Hawk Creek this time of the season. It's where I first "mountain biked". I say that because I used to ride off road on a singlespeed back in the seventies. (That's before Mr. 24 was born!) Anyway, to always remember how good it was the first time I rode my ATB, I make the short trip.

The Greenbelt Trail was originally a bridle path that ran along the Black Hawk Creek. In the years since it's been there, it's been re-directed all over the place by the shifting creek channel, and resulting sand deposits. There are several places where the trail gets pretty close to the edge, like in this picture.

Motivation to stay on the established trails comes in the form of bow hunting season for deer!

The trails are relatively flat, requiring that you put it in a single gear, and hammer TT style to make it fun. There are several twists and turns, and even a bridge! It was a perfect day to ride the Karate Monkey. Dry and fast!

Here is a shot of the creek and it's easy to see how the trail is affected when the water gets high. The channel shifts, the floods knock out huge portions of real estate in one area and deposit tons of fine sand in others. The sand is super fine! Like an hour glass would have. Several "sand traps" exist to jerk your front wheel down to a stop. Fortunately, the 29 inch wheels ride right on through it!

Highlights of today's trip are the following.

1. Under a shelter is the remains of some ones picnic. Pop bottles, plates, and wrappers. It was still all there an hour later when I came back through!

2. Woman riding a hybrid mixte frame bike out in the middle of the woods with no helmet, and wearing casual flats for footwear. She probably though I was the geek!

3. On the way back, I spy a baby stroller up ahead in the middle of the trail. I slow down to sneak a look in it as I pass by. It's empty! Then, about 50 yards off the trail, on the creek shore, I see a whole family goofing around. They seemed to know me, since they called out my name, so I'll find out more someday!

4. Only saw two other bikers. I thought I'd see a lot more people, but apparently the football games were too appealing? Hmmm.......

Well, Trans Iowa recon has been re-scheduled for the second week in November, so this time, it better not get screwed up! The body shop says it's nearly done with the car. Well, they'll wish they had gotten it done sooner, because I've begun calling them every day- and I will continue to do so until I get the car back! Awesome!

A Giant Sucking Sound

Quickie Post: Car didn't get fixed on time, wife needed the one that did work= Trans Iowa recon postponed until early November! Sorry, ya'all! (suck suck suck!)

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Helmet Papers: Page Two

Continuing on with the anti-helmet comments made by our "famous" local cycling guru, I would remind you that his statements are in italics, while mine are in standard font. Read on!

Those who advocate helmet use constantly bring up anecdotal evidence of people who've crashed and whose helmets have "saved their lives" (this claim can only be proven by forensic evidence, which is never provided - a thin plastic shell cracks much more easily than a skull). They never provide anecdotes about the many cyclists who have died with their helmets on. And they neglect to mention the vast majority of cyclists who ride tens of thousands of miles without ever falling on their heads, helmeted or not.

Wow! This is just an outstanding example of bad logic, and purposeful avoidance of facts. Just check out the comments from Thursdays post to see that medical personel can judge from injuries that helmet usage reduces, or eliminates the severity of crash related injuries. But, I suppose the medical EMT's, doctors, and nurses have absolutely no idea what they are talking about! As far as people who have survived a crash not giving evidence of others who have died with helmets on, or high mileage cyclists that have never struck their heads in a wreck, that is a rediculus suggestion! "Hi, I survived a crash because of my helmet! But first, let me say that several people wearing helmets often die from injuries sustained in crashes!" Yeah, riiigggghht! That sounds like a perfectly plausible scenario! Besides, no one is suggesting that helmet usage will save all lives, or prevent all injuries. If they prevent some of that, then why wouldn't you wear one? Remember, we can't predict the future. You don't know if your helmet will save you- or not! It doesn't hurt to wear one, so....why not wear one?

The comment about the thin plastic shell is a direct attempt to dis-inform the reader at this point. Later we will see that the poster has a rather well informed knowledge of how a helmet actually works. This hypocritical stance is reprehensible, and is one of the points that raised my ire about this post.

Okay, that's all for tonight! More anti-helmet spew, and commentary later!

The Helmet Papers: Page One

As I indicated on yesterdays post, I was planning on responding to the anti-helmet posistion that a local cycling personality expouses. There is enough material to cover here, that I thought that it would be better to focus on smaller parts of the transcript, instead of trying to cover the entire piece in one sitting.

The comments recieved from yesterdays post probably reflect the majority opinion out there. However; I think it's wise to see that there are people out there actively trying to convince others that helmets are goofy, or a bad idea altogether.

Backround: This individual was hired for a time as the local papers "cycling expert". He has posted, written, and spoken on numerous occaisions on his anti-helmet posistions. This particular example, that I present, is representative of his current philosophy on the matter. This example was posted on a tandem cycling internet forum. His text is in italics, while my commentary is in standard font. Got it? Okay, let's dig in, shall we?

"My wife and I wear helmets when we go on organized bike rides, mainly to keep the "helmet nazis" off our backs.

I haven't hit my head in a bike crash since 1973- about 80,000 miles ago. and before I'd ever seen a bicycle helmet- and I didn't even have a headache after that one. My wife has never hit her head in a crash. Every time we've put on helmets, it has been a waste of time, effort and comfort."

These are the opening comments to his post. Obviously, anyone can say with clarity, ( at least some people can) what history they have with any chosen activity that they engage in. However; one cannot predict the future! His claim of the amount of miles that he has ridden without biffing his head only amplifies the fact that his probability of crashing is higher. Regardless, the event of an accident, by the very nature of it's name, implies that we do not plan on having an accident. I'm sure, given the choice, this individual, or any of us, would not want an accident to occur. Wearing a helmet is therefore wise, because it can protect you in the event of an accident. An event which is impossible to predict, no matter how many miles you may, or may not have ridden. If it were possible to predict calamities, I wouldn't even bother getting on my bike "the day of an accident", much less wear my helmet that day. Therefore; saying that wearing your helmet is "a waste of time, effort, and comfort" is rediculus. At any rate, I don't see how popping my helmet on wastes time, ( it only takes five seconds to do it) nor effort, (it's sooo simple to put on, a child can do it) or comfort. ( modern helmets being so light, I forget I have mine on!)

Okay! Enough for today. I think this is going to be interesting. I invite any comments you may have, and I would like to compile them. I may end up sending all this along to this individual, after I complete this series.

Plan B is in effect for Trans Iowa recon! (* %*& @!) I will possibly post "Page Two" this evening, as I won't be able to get out of town until very early Saturday morning now, at the earliest.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


There are some interesting, yet unrelated things on my mind today. In no particular order, I submit these for your approval.

1. SRAM secrets unvieled! The secret of how SRAM's new road brifter shifts has been released. I am not sure how this will work in practice, but I am relieved to see that the shift lever is in fact totally independant of the brake lever. No unwanted braking while shifting, which I seem to have a problem with everytime I ride a Shimano equipped bike. I know others may think this is silly, but it is a problem for some. The rest of the gruppo looks nice. Let's see if they can compete on price! If they can, and it works as well as advertised, LOOK OUT Shimano!

2. There is a certain individual living in my community that is regarded as somewhat of a source of cycling knowledge that advocates the non-usage of helmets! That's right! He doesn't think cycling helmets are of any use, and in fact, he thinks they are a detriment! Okay, I really get a little steamed whenever I see his statistics and twisted logic on this matter. I have to take a step back, calm down, and really think it over. So, that's what I'm doing now. I have recieved a transcript of his posistion on helmets, taken from a public internet discussion forum. I am going to dismantle this guy's argument in a civil manner, and it won't be hard to do. Just have to leave the emotions checked at the door on this one! Stay tuned, it won't be a "rant" per se, but a good read none the less.

3. Speaking of ranting, I may have a little of that to do if my car isn't ready today! You may have read my earlier post on a car of mine that's in the body shop. Well, it's supposed to be ready for me to go on Trans Iowa recon tomorrow! It doesn't look good, so I have a "plan B" ready to implement, if necessary. I'll just have to be more efficient!

4. He comes- I go! Speaking of that trip, I only get to see Mr.24 today, and then I'm gone until Monday. That means no posts on the Guitar Ted Productions Network until Sunday evening at the latest. You'll have to head on over to Mr. 24's site for his run down of the whole Japan trip. I'm sure it'll be a good read! Well, I might be posting tomorrow, but only if I do not get my car, which will delay me by a day! We'll see!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Bike Build Pictorial

Boxed Bike: This is a Raliegh P.U.B. bike. Well, it's inside the box, silly!

This is how bikes arrive at the shop. We just unloaded 32 Ralieghs today! They come to our door on a 53ft. semi trailer/ truck after a loooong trip from Asia! (Usually China, or Taiwan)

This is what you have when you pull it out of the box. Lots of cardboard, plastic wrap, rubberbands, and zip-ties. It takes as long to un-wrap some bikes as it does to assemble them!

Extra parts! Well, not really. The assembly process always entails some installation of whatever parts the manufacturer leaves off at the factory. Most of the time that includes the saddle, seatpost, and pedals, although there could be more than that, depending on the type of bike being assembled.

Here's a look at what the bike looks like in the box. It's amazing that they get shipped thousands of miles like this without getting destroyed, or so much as a scratch!

The Final Product: After carefully un-wrapping, adjusting, assembly, clean-up, and a quick test ride, the bike is ready to be entered into inventory. After that quick computer process, the bike goes out on the sales floor. Or, as in this case, goes into the hold area, in the back room, to be picked up by a customer.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

On-Star For Bikes?

Some of these frame stickers on department store bikes are hilarious! Check this one out from a Jeep mountain bike, "For Assistance Call, 1-877-BIKE AID" Imagine what the conversation might be...............

ring.....ring, Hello! Bike Aid. How can I assist you?

Rider: Umm...yeah, I just tried riding my bike....cough, cough! nnnnnn!

Bike Aid: Sir? Should I call for an ambulance?

Rider: Nah! Just lightin' up here. Okay! I was just riding my bike, and then....cough, cough!......and then it just folded in half! I couldn't believe that the d@#* thing just......

Bike Aid:...Sir, sir! Just calm down! Are you saying that the bike just folded in half?

Rider: Wha? Naahhh! It was the wheel. man! The wheel just folded in half! I just bought this bike yesterday, and it hasn't worked worth a s#$t since I rolled it out the door! It don't shift from 3rd to 4th, and the gooseneck was loose! The tires were low, and I don't know how to put air in those d#@* tires. I never had to put air in my ol' Schwinn when I was a kid. That was the bike that I gave to my sister when I got too big fer it. That'd been back when I.....

Bike Aid: Sir, could you please take me off your calling list, I'm not interested!

Rider: Wha? Interested? Interested in what? Hello!

(dial tone)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Mr. 24: Best In Class!

Congratulations to International Endurance racer, Jeff Kerkove on his recent domination of the Cat Eye sponsored 24 hour endurance event in Japan!

This guy is all over the place! I look here, and there he is! I look here, and there he is again! This guy is nationwide, doode!

Then again, he's not the only one with a cool Blue Collar MTB shirt! Check out the local spread, and the tiny photo! That's me in my fine T-shirt! I may not be International yet, like Mr. 24, but I'm workin' on it! (Muwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!) One thing is for sure. I'm not the ultra trim, fit, 24hr cycling machine that Mr. 24 is! (Workin' on that too!) but he says that I know everything. Well, if that's true, then his words are golden! Great job, Jeff! Now, getcher self home safe! Later!

Ultimate Repair Stand: Best In Class!

Today I noticed that posted a review of the Ultimate Pro Elite Repair Stand. This is the very repair stand that I own! I was very interested in what they would have to say about it. I have always been of the opinion that the older Ultimate Pro Repair Stand was the very best portable repair stand ever. The new version, the Elite, is even better!

Well, it looks as though that the reviewer at seems to think so too. If you have frequented that site, you know that the tech reviews are usually pretty honest, and that they rarely ever give a perfect score. (In fact, I've never seen a perfect score, but I may have missed one or two!) The Elite Pro stand got the perfect score! I agree that it is an improvement on the old one, which I thought was un-improvable!

The review is pretty thorough, and I agree with all points given. I will say; however, that the repair stand could come with better instructions. It's not obvious exactly how the clamp head works, especially to get it into place and make it rotate. Once you discover the secret, it's easy to operate, and works flawlessly. I also will add that while the way the legs slde up and down the main mast is executed with obvious precision by Ultimate, because of the extremely tight tolerances, it is rather difficult to fold or unfold the legs quickly. One needs to have a degree of patience when setting up for repairs! The precision with which the unit is made is appreciated, though. I feel this unit will definitely withstand the test of time. It also is comforting to know that the price you pay for it is returned to you by the way of a finely crafted tool, that is a joy to use. Really!

Speaking of the price, it is a little steep, compared to many other lesser repair stands. However; if you want a no fuss, quality, hard working, reliable, versatile, and good looking repair stand, go no further than the Ultimate Elite Repair Stand. It is the best, hands down, repair stand ever, and it happens to be portable! Check it out, along with some other cool stuff, here! Here is another reason I like Ultimate stuff. They make some of the best musical instrument, and sound reinforcement supports EVER! These guys know there stuff! Guitar Ted says so!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Looking Forward

Well, it's been a long weekend off. I am begining to feel better with my back. I am glad about that! I plan on doing some tougher riding at the end of this coming week while I'm doing Trans Iowa recon. Work schedules have been jumbled a bit due to Mr. 24's abscence. (Haven't heard anything yet, but as of this post, his race should be drawing to a close soon!) Tomorrow is probably the best attended "Mondays With Mark" session that I do. Modern Drivetrain Maintenance, or something along those lines. The title gets changed every year! Fortunately, I don't have to do any paper writing, or extra prep, since I've got everything I need in the can already! Carlos is posting all my written material on the Europa website, so check it out!

I was looking for a device to precisely track the amount of miles for the Trans Iowa course. I'm thinking some sort of GPS unit should do, but which one? Any body got any ideas out there? I'm going to need something that isn't stuck to sitting in a car. Some of the recon will demand that I ride a bicycle. So portability is a concern. I've looked at some Garmin units, but I'm open to suggestions. Any tips would be appreciated! (Oh! I don't need it right away! Jeff and I will re-drive the course at a later date!)

Update on the Super Caliber Prototype: Word is that members of the Fisher/ Subaru Mountain Bike Team will be putting the new bike through it's paces in Colorado somewhere next week. (It'll have to be at a lower elevation, because I think they've got snow up top recently) So, if you reside in Colorado, keep your eyes peeled for it! Maybe you can beg a ride!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Update On Fisher Super Caliber!

Well, that didn't take long! The Fisher boys have already logged some trail time on the prototype for the Super Caliber Race Day bike that I posted about a couple days ago. Thanks go out to Ryan Atkinson, Fisher Brand Manager, for posting the pics on .

Needless to say, this is looking more and more like a major hit for Fisher, and 29"ers in general. The initial ride comments by Atkinson were positive. (But, of course!) So, an independant evaluation is in order.

Might I suggest Guitar Ted Labratories? (Ha ha! I won't be holding my breath on that one!)

Keep up the good work, Fisher, and we'll be seeing one of those in my stable soon! (Appologies to the Inbred 29"er, which now has fallen from favor!......sigh!)

Friday, October 07, 2005

News of Mr. 24!

Well, he made it! Not without some close calls, though! At least the race isn't until Sunday/Monday, and he should have some time to rest up and get his head together! Go Jeff!

My back is feelin' a bit better, but still sore and stiff! Going into work at noon, and riding the bike in. It's the only time my back actually feels good!

More updates as I recieve info!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fisher Proto 29"er Super Caliber

Note: Credit for this pic goes to Timothy Grahl's secret contact within the inner workings of Trek's factory in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Thanks Tim! Okay, what we have here is not failure to communicate! That's because the members of the Fisher/ Subaru off road team provided Fisher with direct input into this new 29 inch wheeled bike. These are the first pics of the prototype for the final production model, due out this Spring. See more pictures here!

O.K.? Here are the salient features of this frame. It's purpose is to be a lightweight, XC race platform. Efficiancy is a top priority. To that end, it is a single pivot design. With this type of design, it is less likely that the frame will lose much to unwanted flex. A platform shock should dial out most of the pedal induced bob that isn't already cancelled out by the basic design itself. Also, a single pivot design is going to be lighter than multiple pivots, easier to maintenance, and be more reliable. Plans are for it to have three inches of "race" type suspension, which means it won't ride like a sofa! In all likelyhood, this will be a Rock Shox front/ rear bike, as Fisher has spec'ed all it's other 29 inchers with these components. I'm also betting on a bunch of SRAM controls, and drivetrain gear, as that is also prevalent in Fisher's other 29"er spec. Top it off with Bontrager bars, stem, seatpost, and Race Lite Disc Wheel System, and this should be one killer off road weapon! (Hint: Introduce the Bontrager Tubeless Wheel System simultaneously for an orgasmic effect amongst the 29"er afficionados!)

I'm very stoked that I was wrong in reporting back in August that this project was dead! Thanks to whomever got the project fast-forwarded to this stage! I will be saving my ducats for one of these, so look for one to hit the Guitar Ted Labratories soon! (Well, as soon as Fisher makes it available!)

This should be a watershed mark as far as the 29'er bike is concerned. A mass produced 29 inch wheeled FS XC race bike that will be( presumably) raced by the pro team. It's a matter of fact, what's raced on Sunday, sells on Monday in the XC bike world. What with the big wheels giving a ride that feels like an inch more travel than you've got, suspension-wise, I do not think having only three inches of travel out back will be a liability. I think this should be a home run for Fisher, but that is all left to the product design team now. They have it in their hands now to either step it up, and deliver, or fall on their face. I'm hoping for the home run!

Ahh! My Back!!

That stuck seat post on Jeff's NRS is exacting it's revenge on me! I must have tweaked a muscle or two in my back, because I can hardly bend over today. It really started up yesterday, and it hasn't gotten any worse, but I'm taking the day off of work, just in case. In the meantime, let's reach back into the Guitar Ted Archives for something, shall we?...........

Ahh, yes! I remember this one! If you look carefully at the picture, you will notice a "dimple" just above the spoke on the left. That is the impression left from a bolt that pierced a tire, happened to find it's way through the spoke hole in the rim bed, and nearly punctured the rim, where you see the dimple! It was an eigth inch, hex head bolt about an inch and a half long. Must have hit it just right.............or wrong! Anyway, that was one of the Tales of the Bizarre from the past summer.

Hope you enjoyed that, and now I'm going off to rest up my back! Hope to be back at it tomorrow! ...............No word yet from Mr.24, so I take it that he got a plane, and is gone! I'll post if I hear anything!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Rush And An Update

We get some field reps in from time to time at the shop. Today, it was the Raliegh rep, and he brought a treat! (How fitting! It is the month of Haloween, afterall!)

Today, he wheeled in a Raliegh Rush Hour. This is the single speed/ fixed gear track bike for the '06 model year. It's pretty cool! You've got the polished, high flange hubs, as seen in the photo with Carlos' foot in it.

You've got the front and rear brakes, which are removable, if you go full trackie! There are no braze-ons! Just like a real track bike shouldn't have! As a matter of fact, it is a real track bike, right down to the geometry. Higher bottom bracket, so you can pedal right through a corner, because you can't coast in fixie mode, ya know! Less fork rake, and steeper head angle for razor sharp steering. Finally, it is steel! Yeah, like an old skool track bike should be.

It also comes stock with a freewheel, and a fixed cog, for flip-flop duties. That's when you get in over your head running fixed, or too tired, or just need a different ratio, you can flip the wheel around and presto! You can coast! You'll need to bring along a 15mm wrench, though, as this bike has nutted axles, (you guessed it!) just like a real track bike! Get your fix on fer under $600.00!
Just check out the shop website for more details!

Now for the update! We got a call today at the shop from an automated messaging machine that said Jeff's itenerary had been changed! Long story short, they were trying to tell him that his international flight was changed to be leaving on Thursday, instead of today! This call came an hour after Jeff's connecting flight to O'Hare had left! He was probably standing there when we got the call. Weird!! I haven't heard a thing since, so hopefully, he is on his way! If I hear anything, I'll post it!

Garbage In.....Garbage Out!

Recently we got this bike in the shop to box up for shipment. Nothing really unusual about that, other than the fact that the customer will spend at least a half to three quarters of the value of the bike on shipping and handling!

The unusual part of this bike was this warning sticker. "...ONLY USE WHILE WEARING FULL PROTECTIVE GEAR-..........." Why? Maybe because throngs of snobbish bike nazis might tackle you, while you're riding, and belittle you for riding such a stupid machine? ( I hope not!!!) Maybe they are trying to protect you from being accosted by angry motorists in fat SUV's? (Perhaps that should be fat motorists in angry SUV's!), I think I know why!

It's because they know that this so-called bicycle will fold, break, or implode upon itself at any given moment! Best have that rider bundled up against the inevitable. Saves the product liability lawyer fees from piling up! It doesn't help matters any that this rig looks like it could be hucked from a 6 foot flat to flat. The only thing this should be hucked from is your hands.......straight into the garbage can! Well, maybe after a few gentle spins around the block, first. THEN...........straight into the garbage can! HA!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Rushing Around!

Mr. 24 is in a hurry! He's got to be ready to go by this afternoon to jet out to The Land of the Rising Sun! Uno el problema! Seat post stuck in one of the NRS's!!! We'll have to see if we can't un-stick it by this afternoon, or he'll have to hi-jack his old rig from Carlos as a back up bike, or go with one. We'll see.

Here we see the NEW Blue Collar MTB t-shirt, aptly modeled by the svelt, and trim Mr. 24 himself. Thanks go out to Chris and Tim for the t-shirts he gave to me and Jeff! We will wear them with pride!

Well, it's off to work now, but I wanted to encourage everyone reading this to stop by and leave Jeff a comment, and wish him well on his trip and race in Japan. It's an awesome opportunity for him and we are all excited about it down at the shop! Go Jeff!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Don't Stand So Close To Me!

While everyone is nursing thier Interbike hangovers, I thought I'd dredge out something ya'all may have missed. This comes courtesy of Jonathan Maus', from the site he runs called Bike Portland, so thanks to him!

Apparently, you can't get within 12 feet of The Lance, unless you want to get banned from any further Lance activities. Really? I wonder if Mr. 24 got too close to a certain endurance race promoter? Hmmm...............Just a coincidence, I'm sure! Anywho!..........

I really can't blame Lance, in all seriousness. I mean, wouldn't you get tired of being pressed in upon by all sorts of humanity, every time you make a public appearance? Sure, it's all part of being who he is, but I'm sure that he gets tired of it, at least once and a while. Then there is the safety factor, as well. There are those who do not appreciate The Lance. You know who you are! The mere fact that Lance has become something extra-human is also factoring into this. I mean, even I call him, The Lance!

Someday, maybe the tables will turn for Lance, and he'll long for those days of attention again. Probably not though. Look at the line at the recent Interbike for an autograph from The Cannibal, for an example. Seems like people never forget a legend!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

My Appologies!

Sometimes I screw up. Yeah! Me......I know it's hard to believe, but it's true! We are not perfect! (That includes me.......and you!) So, I am posting today to own up to a couple of oversights that may have caused a bad feeling, or inconvienience.

1. To the boys at Blue Collar Mountain Biking: I should have had you guys linked ages ago! Sorry! It's been rectified.

2. To Adam Lisonbee: I misspelled your name, like....I don't know, a thousand times! And yet you never said a thing! Good on ya! I have corrected the mistake.

3. To Carlos the Jackal, and Leans on Wood: I hadn't linked to the shop site right away. Sorry! I took care of it!

To Anyone Else: If I have screwed something up, offended you, or otherwise made a miscue, let me know. I will do what I can to rectify it, explain why I did it, or maybe I just won't do a thing. But you'll never know, unless you pipe up! So............anyone got anything? Let me know. Don't say I never let you take your shot!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Slow Saturday

Take a look at this! (Especially since there is nothing else going on today!) Yep! That's a pretty rusty chain! The owner of the bike brought it in and said "Do not lube the chain! We use that wax stuff!" Umm...okay! Whatever, doode! (Once again, wax is NOT LUBE people!)

Then there was the sign permanently attached to the side of the bike. I found out later that the bike resides at the back of a large recreational trailer. Yep, one of those gorv-ers. You know, "Go RVing", like the TV addy says. Mount up in that land-battleship cruiser, the S.S. Winnebago, suck down enough fuel to run a Prius for a year and a half, and gorv your way an hour or so away from home with your bicycles plastered on the back to the campground nearest to a town. Because, you never know, you may need more Bud-Light, or chips! Put down your self leveling, hydraulic jacks, pop out your living room and bedroom, enable your sattelite TV, start the gas powered generator, pop a tall cool one, and try to find that d@#n Nascar race that's supposed to be on. It's a pretty nice set-up, yeah. It's got just about the same floor space as our real house, and we've got everything we need! Maybe later we'll actually ride our bikes, 'cause it's good for our health, and all. But that depends on when bingo starts in town, and how much-belch!-of this stuff I drink! Ha ha! Ha ha ha!....belch!

........yeah! Gorving is cool................NOT!!!

By the way, when are they going to pave a path into that wilderness area? I should be able to gorv there too! Why should all those backpackers, hikers, and mountainbikers have all that to themselves! Bow to my corpulence! My gorving shall not be hindered!! I...belch!...I need another beer, woman! Pffffffftttttt!!! Brrrrappp! ......Oh crap! .............And another change of underwear!