Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Trans Iowa V.2 Registration Announcement!!

So let it be written!

So let it be told!



Find the link here for more info.

Geometry Class: The Historical Perspective

Today I want to start to take a look at some historical perspectives relating to bicycle geometry. Perhaps we can see where we came from, where we are at, and why. I also want to insert the notion that perhaps we've been "painted into a corner" geometry-wise.

The history of mountainbike geometry is heavily influenced, at least in the beginning, by what happened to road bike geometry from the 30's to the post war studies of geometry by the French in the 40's and 50's. After the Marin pioneers took mountain biking to the next level by building purpose built frames in the late 70's, mountain bike geometry was in a state of constant flux. This experimenting reached it's end during the heigth of the "pre-suspension" hard tail days of the early nineties. It seemed as though that the rule of thumb for off road bicycles had become engraved in stone at the following numbers: 73 degree seat tube angle, 71 degree head tube angle, and 1.5 inches (or 38mm.) of fork offset. If you varied your build much from these numbers, then you were likely to be crucified by the press that reviewed the latest XC machines. Then something happened that began to change this up a little bit. Suspension!

Now it's not uncommon for angles and measurements to be all over the place depending upon the purpose of the machine. More downhill oriented machines get "laid back" angles for "stability" while the XC machines are relatively still stuck in the early nineties mode without much deviation. Some of this can be blamed by the needs of manufacturing. It's obvious that suspension manufacturers cannot sell several different offsets for forks without making astronomical increases in production costs. Therefore, the fork offset is a figure cemented in place at 1.5 inches, or 38mm. This handcuffs designers into getting different handling characteristics by varying the head angle to affect the trail measurement, and thus everyones attention gets focused on head angle to determine steering qualities of bicycles.

Another thing that gets extreme amounts of attention is the chainstay length, as previously mentioned in another class article. It seems as though the industry has arrived at a figure to please all the hard tail folks out there, and any deviation raises eyebrows. The results of all of these factors: fashionable component choices, manufacturing constraints, and percieved notions on geometry, have all conspired to bring us in a very narrow place concerning current geometry of trail bikes. Any deviations are seen as detrimental to handling(by the riders) or to manufacturing costs by the companies.

Are the current philosophies on geometry too constrictive? Are their other ways that might be an improvement? These are some questions we will look at next time when we take a look at the 29 inch wheeled movement and what's happening with geometry there.

Class dismissed!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Geometry Class: The Long And Winding Trail: Part II

Welcome to an abreviated edition of The Long And Winding Trail. I almost had to take a "snow day" today, as we got our first chilly blast of ice and snow that's going to stick around awhile.

Yesterday I started by giving you all an example of what trail is and why it is important to how your bicycle handles. Today, I'm really going to give you a brain teaser!

Remember that trail, in the positive sense as it applies to cycling, has the effect of centering your front wheel when moving forward so that it stays in line with your rear wheel. It's called a single track vehicle, by the way. How cool is that?! Your tires contact patch with the ground is slightly behind the point where the steering axis would intersect with the ground. Now let's talk about offset.

Offset is the term used to describe the measurement from the point where your front axle is back to the imaginary line that describes the steering axis. Zero offset would be an axle inline with the steering axis. Offset can be achieved by raking out the fork, running the fork blades slightly forwards of the steering axis by using an offset crown, offsetting the axle by using forward reaching dropouts, and any other means that puts the axle slightly ahead of the steering axis.

What effect does offset have on trail on a typical mountainbike? Well, get ready! Here comes the weird part! Offsetting the hub forward reduces trail. Offsetting the hub more rearward- towards the steering axis- increases trail. Add in the head angle now. Steeper head angle, on it's own, will lessen trail, while slacker angles increase trail

Now you can play with these numbers and come up with various combinations that may, or may not work so well. Want to give it a whirl? Then check this out, but only if you are a true geek.

That's it for today! Gotta dig out the studded tire bike for the run in to work today! Class dismissed!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Monday Late Edition

I spied a couple of things I just had to let you all know about! So, here goes!

Salsa Cycles has some really cool products and frames out, but coming up in '06 they are going to blow the doors offa the sucka! Check these things out!

Surly definitely hit a home run with their Karate Monkey frame in '03. They are very hard to come by, but now Surly reports that they are once again in stock! Gitcher self sum!

Finally, not to toot my own horn or anything, but this blog has been nominated for a Best Of "05 award! Can you believe it! Thanks to Go Clipless for the nomination!!

Geometry Class: The Long And Winding Trail

Let's take on a concept that is one of the harder ones to wrap your mind around; namely, a forks "trail". Get a cuppa joe, you need to be awake for this! I'm not talking about a dirt trail, I'm talking about fork trail!

The concept of trail for a bicycle is a little tough to grasp at first, but this example lead me to the light. Let's see if it does the same for you. Okay? Think of a shopping cart wheel, or a caster on an office chair or dolly. Got that? Okay, think about what happens to that caster wheel when you push the cart/ chair/ dolly. The wheel pivots around so it "trails" the axis that it pivots on, right? Ta da! You've got trail, mate!

Your bicycle works in the same way as the caster wheel. Push your bike forwards by the saddle. The wheel wants to wobble a little, but you can go forwards without much trouble. Now try the same thing backwards. Wham! Handle bar slams top tube! This is because the bicycles front tire is trying to do what a shopping cart wheel will do. It's trying to turn negative trail into positive trail. Or in other words, it's trying to get the contact patch of the tire to the ground behind the axis which the fork spins on. This is the self centering effect that allows you to ride no-handed. If the bicycles fork geometry had no trail, or negative trail, you would find that riding the bike would be impossible, extremely difficult, and certainly not possible to do no-handed.

Well, I hope that clears up what a forks trail is and how it makes your riding experience a good one. Next up: a little math on fork trail, offset, and head angle! Class dismissed!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Geometry Class: Engine Mounts! Part III

Welcome to the third installment of "Engine Mounts". We discussed the effects of seat tube length and angle in a "bio-mechanical" sense last time. This time we are going to start looking at handling characteristics. We also will begin to understand that all facets of the frame layout are going to be affected by any changes made in one area. I touched on this a little bit last time. No less than frame building guru Matt Chester has this to say, as well: "In the real world, all aspects of frame design work in concert with one another. Adjust one, and the others are affected." Try designing a simple frame using a "stick-man" drawing approach. Try keeping your wheel base constant while you change the seat angle. See what happens? Several erasers and crumpled pieces of paper will result!

Okay, so one thing leads to another. (Hey, that's an old song....isn't it?) So, what does this have to do with handling? Well, nothing and everything! You see, you will want a certain type of handling characteristic, let's say you want your bike to climb well. Okay, steep seat angle and short chainstays, right? Well........can I say that you've been reading too many magazines! While it's possible to build a great climbing bike that way, it's not necessary to do that to get a great climbing bike. And besides, you probably would like your bike to go downhill pretty well too, right? There is more than one way to get to where you want to be, and probably better ways than you know.

What I'm trying to say is that the normally accepted geometry numbers do not necessarily mean all bikes handle poorly if they fall outside of these "norms". For instance, your "typical" seat tube angle is 73 degrees. Sometimes you see a 74 degree angle. This is supposedly the "best" angle for a mix of climbing and decending on a 26 inch wheeled hardtail. It's easy to combine this with a chainstay length that keeps the "chainstay freaks" at bay. Some people tend to obsess over this number. You see, if you keep the wheel base constant, and slack out that seat tube angle, your chainstay length gets longer. This is because you have to keep the seat tube straight and clear the rear tire. A resulting gain in length in the chainstay will raise the eyebrows of the average cyclist, who will mistakenly surmise that the bike won't climb well, when in fact, the weight of the cyclist will be over the rear axle even more, giving the rear wheel more bite. Of course, all this happens within reason, and it does affect other aspects of the frame design as well, such as the top tube length, and reach to the handle bars. Remember too that you need to consider the riders most efficient posistion in all of this. A comfortable rider in an efficient posistion will always be faster for a longer time than he would be on a "standard geometry" frame that didn't work as well for him.

Discussing chainstay length for a minute, I was always wondering how the early pioneers of the sport were able to climb anything with those 17 to 18 inch chainstays. Shouldn't have been possible! I even had a bike at one time that had parallel 72 degree seat and head tube angles. I still consider it the very best handling hardtail 26 inch wheeled bike I ever had. I don't know what the chainstay length was, but I'm sure it wasn't short by any stretch. Once again, Matt Chester has something to say on this matter: "Chainstay length is subjected to incessant analysis. "Shorter chainstays are better for climbing!", crows the internet discussion forum sage. Utter nonsense! No single aspect of frame design will enable you to predict a bikes handling characteristics." Thank you, Mr. Chester, now.....back to your torch!

The handling characteristics of a bicycle are also largely affected by the way the bike steers, obviously. The next installment will leave engine mounts behind for awhile and we will start to delve into "The Long and Winding Trail"! See you then! Class dismissed!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

All Things Canadien

Here's a little tidbit from the Trans Iowa V.2 recon mission a couple of weeks ago. I picked this up in a convienience store on route. (Yes, I check these places out for Trans Iowa too!) It came with a free "D" ring, and it said "TREK", like the bicycle company on it. I had to get it! It was pretty good stuff, too. I noticed it was made in Canada. Maybe that is why it looks like a cheap bottle of vodka?!

The second Canadien item comes in the form of news. Apparently, Paddy H has something long and gruesome to unleash on the endurance riding world. Check it out.

That's it for today! Oh, yeah! Just wanted to give a shout out to Mr.24 for the sinus headache, runny nose, and cough he shared with me! Thanks buddy!

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Friday After

Had to work today with Leans on Wood at the shop. We were moderately busy, but we weren't crazy busy. That would be Mall Wart, J-Mart, and Smears. Not the local bike shop. Anyway, it was busier than it had been before, so that bodes well for the Christmas season.

Carlos and Mr.24 came in an hour before I left. It seems that Carlos' main mission in life is to freak out Mr. 24 today. I wouldn't be surprised if I come in on Monday only to find out that they had a cat fight while they worked together over the weekend. Maybe Carlos is practicing up on his mental trickery so he can get inside his competitors heads. I don't know!

There is a ride planned for tomorrow at 8am. Outside. In the cold. Yep! Maybe I'll be there. It depends on when my son decides we should get up. Today, the little two year old determined that it would be 4:30 am. So, we'll see. It's only ten to six now and he's goin' down slow already. That doesn't bode well for me as far as getting a whole nights sleep, and I'm not riding myself into a sickness now! Speaking of being sick, someone pass Mr. 24 a hanky! His nose is running again!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Be Thankfull!

Today is the day to consider all the good things you are thankful for. As most of us ride bicycles that frequent this site, you can start there. I'm sure you have MUCH MORE to be thankful for if you stop to think about it. Well, what are you waiting for? Be thankfull!

Here is some excellent news regarding the Fisher Super Caliber 29 inch wheeled bike for you all to be thankfull for,too!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Hug a loved one! (There's another reason to be thankful, no?)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Geometry Class: Engine Mounts! Part II

Well, I'm a little late today! But, hey! This class is free, right? Okay, so last time I disscussed the importance of geometry and how it relates to the way a rider fits on the bicycle in a general sense. Let's take a closer look!

Probably without much argument, most folks would agree that the most important thing to get right in regards to "fit" is the relationship between the saddle and the bottom bracket/ pedals. This would make sense since it is the primary interface between the engine and the chassis. Kind of like the primary drive on a motorcycle, come to think of it! Anyway, the human body has been found to be most efficient on a bicycle, in regards to power output, when the legs of the cyclist can be nearly extended straight at the six o'clock position in the crank arms rotation. Of course, there is the posistioning of the foot on the pedal, which I won't get dragged into here, but it is important. Along with proper leg extension, the relationship between the riders hips and the center of the bottom bracket shell is of paramount concern, as well. Usually, the riders hips are posistioned somewhat behind the bottom bracket: more over the rear wheel than directly above the crank assembly. Just exactly where one sits is determined by the seat tube. ( in a traditionally designed double triangle type framework) The typical seat tube runs from the upper portion of the bottom bracket shell to the junction of the top tube and seat stays. Most seat tubes have a rearward lean to accomodate the proper posistioning of the hips to the crank assembly. The amount of lean is most often referred to as the seat tube angle which is referenced to in degrees, like the degrees of a circle. Geometry, get it?

It seems that when it comes to production hardtail mountain bike frames the seat tube angle that has been arrived at as being "ideal" for the "average" cyclist is 74-73 degrees from an imaginary horizontal line drawn through the center of the bottom bracket shell. Of course, if you use a seatpost with setback, you are actually somewhat slacker than that average angle. (You always knew you were a slacker, now didn't you?) You can obviously affect that even more by how you posistion the saddle on it's rails, and there is also the non-setback post for those who like the hips over the cranks even more. I suppose you could even turn your set back style seatpost around so the setback becomes a setforward, but then you are getting into multi-sport territory, and I ain't gunna go thar!

If you really do not go for the "one size fits most" philosophy of the production bike, you will find that the custom builder will go into great detail to find the proper seat tube angle for your needs. Sometimes it will fall within the the established "norms", but alot of times it won't. This is one of the reasons that a respected custom builder can make a bike feel "just right" without a lot of twiddling on the part of the cyclist. Either that, or you can buy five different seat posts trying to get the right setback! Get your hips in slightly the wrong place, and your power output suffers. Obviously, the length of the seat tube is somewhat important, as it affects the leg extension issue, but also helps determine setback to some degree, and is intimately tied into your top tube length, which we haven't even gotten to yet!

So, we can see how the proper seat tube length and angle can be important to proper posistioning of the engine. Next installment will deal with the effects that all this can have on handling. I think this is quite enough for you all to chew on over the holiday weekend, so I'll be back again with another class on Sunday evening. Till then!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Geometry Class: Engine Mounts!

Okay guys and gals! Quiet down now and get out your notebooks. It's time for class to begin! Today I will discuss the relationship between the chassis and the engine in terms of geometry. You say, "What?" Yes, I said, "chassis and engine"! Let me explain.

The bicycle can be thought of as a rolling chassis, to borrow from automobile terminology. A rolling chassis is everything you need to get down the road except the means of propulsion. In the case of an automobile, that's the engine. On a bicycle, the person riding is the engine! The way you mount the engine on the chassis is critical to the performance of the parts as a whole.

A car has what are called engine mounts to connect the engine to the chassis. Extreme care is given to the placement of the engine in the car to realize the intended handling characteristics of each automobile design. The same is true for bicycles. The engine mounts for a bicycle are the pedals, saddle, and the handlebars. Where these points fall in space will determine not only how the bicycle will handle but also how the engine will perform. It is therefore critically important to make sure that the geometry of the engine mounts not only accomodate the intended handling characteristics of the bicycle, but also keep the engine comfortable and efficient. Sound complicated? Well, it is!

Given the fact that all humans are uniquely gifted and individual in design details, it is easy to see that production bicycles are somewhat compromised when it comes to making all the contact points achieve the goals of efficiancy and comfort. It's a "one size fits most" solution, with a degree of tunability mixed in. In the next installment, we will see what the contact points do to the engine and how moving those affects the handling characteristics of bicycles.

Class dissmissed!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Geometry Class

I recently got a suggestion from Eduardo to discuss bicycle geometry and how it affects handling characteristics. He thought it might be a good topic for the blog. I say, thanks for opening up the can of worms, Ed!

Geometry of bicycles is a very important aspect of fit. If your bicycle doesn't fit you correctly, then you will be compromised in performance, and probably not as comfortable as you could be. Geometry of the bike determines where in space the contact points of your bike will be, in a general sense. Geometry of bicycles also affects how the bicycle will react to inputs such as pedaling and steering. The geometry of a bike is a huge subject. I certainly do not pretend to know all the answers. I will try to give an overview of the subject with the help of alot of outside sources in future installments.

The focus of this investigation will be on the geometry of the typical 26 inch wheeled trail bike in comparison with the geometry of the current crop of 29 inch wheeled bikes which seems to be in flux. This should give us a really good case of "Excedrin headache" for all of us to deal with!

Hopefully, we'll all have some fun in this Geometry Class!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sound Off!

Have you ever wished that you could have a say in what bicycle model would get produced by your favorite bicycle company? Well, if that bicycle happens to have 29 inch wheels , ( in the imaginings of your mind) then you should check out what Twenty Nine Inches has going on right now. Give them your opinion in a comment or two on a form that they have set up, and they will do all the footwork for you to make sure it gets into the right hands. Cool! If enough of you send in suggestions, who knows! A new model just might come out to suit you.

On another note; the mountain biking world is getting mighty sleepy of late! You can tell when the racing season is over, snow hits, and colder temperatures come along. Seems like the news, stories, and rumors have all but dried up! That's okay. We all need a rest from it, I'm sure!

Have a great Sunday!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Saturday Morning Cartoons

It's cartoon time! Remember that? I used to love Saturday morning because it was non- stop cartoons for a few hours. It's not so great now. With DVDs, cable, and whatnot, you can see cartoons anytime. Whoopee! Now, it's lost that special something. That element of being a thing looked forward to. Anticipation.............gone! Oh well!

Maybe that's what we, as cyclists, are banging on our bodies for right now. Spending all that time in the gym, on rollers, or a trainer. We are looking forward to something. A special time. With each day that goes by, the sense of anticipation grows. What could it be? Ahhh, it's that first glorious ride outside in the sun warmed air of Spring! Like Saturday morning cartoons, it only seems to last a few hours. Then, it's gone!

Enjoy your weekend, and hug a loved one!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Test Pattern II

Bzzzzzzzzzt! Huuummmmmmmmmm......................Can you here me now?

Thanks to Mr. 24 for the digitized logo. Quite a step up from the vacuum tubed version from a day ago!

Well, today we are suppose to get above freezing for the first time in a few days. Yesterday, it was 6 degrees out during my commute. No wind though, so it really didn't feel that bad. I got out the bastard bike, as Mr. 24 likes to call it. It's an old Schwinn CrissCross with 45mm. Inova studded tires on it. It wasn't too bad, ice-wise yesterday, so I'm bringing back the Karate Monkey for todays commute. Besides, the ice should be about gone by 11am. which is when I'm leaving the house today. Yep, got the late shift!

The shop was pretty slow yesterday, and tonight is bingo night next door to us, so the parking lot will be filled with cars. No room for customers of Europa! The gambling lemmings, with their heaters, Pepsi, and arsenal of highlighter blotters will take over. What really bugs me is when they send their neglected little minions over to the shop to entertain them whilst mommy wastes their college education fund in hopes of striking it rich in the Triple Blackout round. Yeah right! Whaddaya get for that.........$50.00 maybe? Wow! And to think that you could have spent some time with your kids actually teaching them something worthwhile! Ahhhhh crap! Whadda I know?!

All righty then, it's another weekend! The Trans Iowa V.2 dates been set, and now it's time to start working on some other behind the scenes type stuff. Hopefully, info will be released soon. Course recon needs to be completed. Little bits and pieces here and there to verify and document. Of course, the whole thing will have to be re-driven after the winter is over to check it one last time for all the event participants. Well, that's not going to be for awhile now, is it? Ha, ha!

Speaking of winter, we just got all stocked up with X country ski stuff. Classic stylee. Stop by at the shop and take a look-see. Mighty nice stuff from Salomon and some other sundry bits. Hopefully, the snow comes in enough quantities and for long enough that I get to ski for longer than two weeks this season!

Have a great weekend, and don't be afraid to ride outside! It's still fun!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Trans Iowa V2 Update!!

Just a quick one to announce the Trans Iowa V2 dates- April 29-30th! Mark your calendars and start training!!

Test Pattern

.......................(static).................(crackle-crackle)........................Testing 1 2 3! .....(crackle)..............................Can you hear me now? Heh, heh!

Thought I'd play around a bit with this logo. Now that I see it, it reminds me of Matt Chester's graphics. Oh well, I started something along these lines back in the 80's, and used a little Cheap Trick influence, and voila'!

Tell me something. Where does one get sublimated jerseys for a reasonable price, you know, so they don't have to cost over $50.00 each for less than 50-60 pieces. Anybody got any ideas?

More Intense Spyder 29" testing has been done. By the sounds of it, it's going into the beta stages now! Cool!

Single digits outside now, brrrr! Riding to work will be fun, well as far as the looks I'll get go!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Gales of November: Part II

Hmm.......seems like we've been through this before. And isn't today, or tomorrow the official anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald? I think so.

Driving to work today for the first time in ages. My wife doesn't like icy conditions. In fact, if this had happened in her home town of El Paso, Texas, the whole town would be shut down. By the way, we only have enough frozen, white slush that it barely covers the ground, but it is slippery.

Too bad we didn't get enough white stuff to ski on. This is only enough to be a nuisance, and it will only keep people at home, especially with this wind. I suppose dirtram, Monkeytron, shakabuku, and folks from points north are pretty happy. They are supposedly getting the real snow!

I suppose I better get back to oiling my chain and mink oiling my leather saddle! Late!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An Early Winter Commute

Big and wet snowflakes

Like a cold kiss on the cheek

Strange looks from drivers

The Magic Number

Yesterday we got a visit from our friendly Cannondale representative. (Hi, Evan! Thanks for checking the blog out!) I always pester him about 29 inch wheeled bikes and why Cannondale doesn't produce one. Well, it seems that the product wonks at Bedford need to be assured that the market will support sales of at least a thousand units before Cannondale will produce such a monster. So, here's your chance, Cannondale freaks. E-mail, call, or visit your Cannondale dealer and make some noise if you want to see a big wheeled, aluminum framed mountain bike with "Cannondale" plastered on the downtube. Maybe if they see a groundswell of support for a 29" wheeled effort, they would do it. Want to see more reactions? Go here!

Well, on a completely different note, if you are in need of some cycling related gift ideas for the up coming holiday season, check out my place of employment. I've never seen the shop so well stocked as it is now! It's almost better than the mid-summer peak! .......Almost! Out of town? Europa can ship anywhere, just check it out! We even sent a bike to Japan this year, and it wasn't Jeff's either! Kudos to Mr. 24 and Carlos for their hard work getting things out on the floor. Way to go, buddies!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Monday: Moving On

Time to get onto the next phase of the cycling year, (indoor/ cross training), the shop season, ( X-country skiing, ski and snowboard tuning), and moving on from fall to winter. Of course, many of you reading this have already transistioned to the "off-season" mode. I love that term, off-season. Do you guys realize that most people think of off-season as "no bicycle activity what so ever" season? Just try working in a bike shop in the fall and winter....................(crickets)........................Yeah. The Maytag repairman has nothin' on us shop rats! Fortunately, Europa Cycle and Ski has ski tuning kung fu! That keeps things a little interesting, at least! Also, the change of weather could have a major effect on how things go at work. A little snow can go a long ways to getting people to switch into Christmas buying mode. Thanksgiving time in a little over a week from now won't hurt either.

Trans Iowa V2 recon remnants will have to be taken care of soon, too. If not soon, then after the snow melts. I'd rather get it behind me now rather than later. Details are being worked out and plenty of info will be disseminated soon! To think that last year at this time we hadn't even hatched the idea for Trans Iowa yet, much less have any of the work that went into it done yet! Pretty crazy! Don't forget to check out Mr. 24's site for a couple of different pics regarding T.I.V-2. Here are some more! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sunday: Late Edition- Trans Iowa V2 Recon

Well, it's been a loooong weekend! Over 600 miles of driving in less than 24 hours, mostly on gravel roads! Am I nuts? Ha! No, I'm insane! Here are some highlights to whet your appetite.

In one of the photographs, you can see what it takes to fuel course recon. Processed beef products! Yummy!

Another picture shows what the B level maintenance roads look like now! Next spring, things won't look quite so tame! The last picture shows you what happens when you don't follow your cue sheets correctly. You are transported through a secret time portal, and you end up in Texas!

Stats: 275 miles from my front door at the palatial Guitar Ted Labratories to the parking lot of West Sioux High School in Hawarden...........Thirty extra miles added to the course, .............more time added to finish the first half..........actually, there is more of everything! This is going to be an exciting course and I can't wait for the race! It should be epic! Oh! The parking lot in Algona ia now a concrete, lighted paradise compared to last years primitive gravel setup.

I got practically rained and blown off recon duty by the remnants of the tornadic activity that swept across Iowa yesterday. Lightning and rain that came down sooo hard I couldn't hardly see the deer that flashed in front of me while I was driving home at 65mph! Yikes!!! No worries, though, as I only have about 35 miles to check out yet and it's all pretty close to home!

I took it pretty easy today, since I was up for about twenty hours or so yersterday. Glad to have that monkey off my back!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Rants and Raves comment on the "trail situation" in Geo. Wyth. It seems that it is possible that a good outcome might be realized by the State, mountain bikers, and some outside "trail building experts". But, I ask you this: Is it possible that the only reason any of this is happening is because "someone" is ticked off because they noticed flourescent flags, and a raked "path" through their jurisdiction? It's not like they didn't know that the majority of their "hiking trails" were created in the very same fashion, or is it? Bottom line: I do not have an optimistic view of the outcome here. I leave it at that!

The Intense Spyder 29"er bike, reported on this blog recently, has taken on some further scrutiny. The reactions are quite petty, and the discussion has taken a "left turn", but the intial impressions of the test rider is noteworthy. If this design comes through the prototype stages as is, geometry-wise, then it will mark a notable departure from the "normal" 29"er geometry- if you can even say there is such a thing! Guitar Ted Productions is keeping their eyes on this project!

Publishers Notice! Guitar Ted Productions will not be posting again until late Sunday! This is the final post until after the Trans Iowa recon has been completed. Several hundred miles of highway and gravel goodness will be covered between now and then. A short report will be filed sometime late Sunday evening, and more will be posted on the Trans Iowa site, as well!

Have a great weekend, ride the trails, and enjoy your loved ones! OUT!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Trail Work Halted In Geo. Wyth By Authorities!

I got an e-mail from J.Y. this afternoon regarding the stoppage of trail work in the Geo. Wyth State Park. Apparently, local and long time cycling honch, John Adamson; himself a member of the trail building crew, was stopped by a female park official and questioned regarding the "new" trails being put in at Geo. Wyth. She was described as being "excited" about the goings on,( not in a good way, either!) and was giving John a lecture on trail erosion, impact, and permission to build trails that was not "given" to us. Well, here at Guitar Ted Productions, we are never at a loss for words, so here goes. (Possible rant mode: BEWARE!)

Okay, given what I know, which by far is not the whole story, I'm sure, I'll grant the "Lady Official" one point. Permission to make new trail may not have been given. I do not know if J.Y. got an okay to build new trail, or just to clean up old trail. A huge distinction, I know. After all, it is a State Park, and there are regulations, rules, and on and on and on.............Ah! Yes! Okay, the matter at hand..........Anywho!

I will say this, we have some mighty fine history to stand on here. If precedent means anything at all to the "Lady Official", or anyone else in charge, then they should check this out! First of all, over 75% of trail inside of Geo. Wyth was developed by mountain bikers! That's right folks! Much of what is hiked, biked, and run on inside Park boundaries was not there previous to 1994. The Park has been enhanced greatly by these trails! Many of the most popular routes through the woods in Geo. Wyth would not exist, had not a few visionary trail builders gone in and done their deeds in secret. In 1996, the Park Ranger, Gary Duesenberry was invited by the mountainbiking community to go for a ride on the single tracks of Geo. Wyth. He had no idea that all the trails even existed! He was very impressed and excited about what had been done. (excited in a good way!)

Secondly, the trails would not stay open if it were not for the maintenance of mountain bikers! For years now, mountain bikers have taken it upon themselves to maintain, and clear trail of debris, and weeds without pay, or recognition of any kind. Ranger Duesenberry stated at one time to me that there was no way the State could do what we did due to considerable red tape and lack of funds. A great example is the lack of maintenance by mountain bikers over the past couple of years that all but closed down the Alice Wyth Lake trail, and several others inside the park. The State has shown absolutely no effort to take over the maintenance of these trails. Even the ones that were originally part of the hiking trail system are in need of repair. I mean, how long has "Glass Hill" been there? (A small rise in one of the hiking trails notable for the copious amonts of broken glass embedded all across the trail there)

Finally, this talk of erosion has got to be a joke, right? Geo. Wyth is in a flood plain last time I checked. Any given year about 25-40% of the trail system is under the swift current of the Cedar River. What is more powerfull- a flowing river, out of it's banks, or a handfull of mountain bikers? Do we need to discuss this? Is this even a question?

In conclusion, the final authority on the recent trail developement lies in the hands of people like the "Lady Official", but please! Try to make sense! Perhaps the individuals in question need some edumacation. Oh.......wait! They've probably got college degrees in biology, outdoor recreation, and business management. What do I know? Right..............fahgeddabowdit!

Thursday Special!!

Here are a couple of unrelated but interesting things I've seen lately.

1. This slapstick site is probably geared more to the masculine side of comedy, so you females can skip it. I got a 394mph slap the other day. What can you do?

2. The Blue Collar boys got their mits on one of those crazy frames that takes a 29 inch front wheel and a 26 inch rear. Dubbed a 96er, they are supposed to give the rider the best benifits of both wheel sizes. You know I don't like this idea, right?

3. Another Blue Collar review! This time on the Cateye EL-400 light. I just recently got one of these too. I really like it so far. I use mine as a helmet mount.

4. And finally. The Twenty Nine Inches crew got a Fisher Cobia in to review. It's Fishers under $1000.00 29 inch wheeled trail bike. We'll have to wait for their review, but it should be interesting.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Gales of November

Windy! Yep, pretty windy. Northwest wind means a lot more work to get to work. Uggh! The good thing is, if it hangs on through the afternoon, I get a free ride home. Downhill too. It all balances out.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fisher Full Suspension 29"er Delayed!

Bummer news today! The Fisher Super Caliber is delayed in prototype stage, and will not be available until mid-summer '06 at the earliest! Apparently, the design challenges of the 29 inch wheeled version have necessitated further developement. The 26 inch wheeled version is still due out in spring of '06.

Right now, the prototype is in the hands of Cameron Chambers. There is a possibility that another bike already exists and is being ridden by Travis Brown, but this is unconfirmed.

Well, it looks like I'm going back to the drawing board for an '06 geared choice. That new Dos Niner is starting to sound mighty fine right about now!

Trail Tools

All the recent trail activity got me to thinking. "We need some proper trail maintenance tools!" Well, it just so happens that in the latest Dirt Rag, they review some trail making/ maintenance tools. The common names for the two most useful grubbing tools are the McCleod, and the Pulaski. The unique thing about these tools is their versatility and sturdiness. The versions reviewed in Dirt Rag are called "Shulaski Custom Trail Tools" and are an updated, higher quality tool than the traditional McCleods and Pulaskis that are normally available. I am pretty serious about getting a couple of these, as it will increase the efficiency of trail building in the Cedar Valley, and make it easier to maintain them. The right tool for the job, ya know!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Tifosi Slip Eyewear: Under Scrutiny!

This is what your $49.99 gets you. Try that with your Oakley's, or your Rudy's, or.......
Guitar Ted Productions
The Central Scrutinizer at Guitar Ted Labratories has just procured a pair of Tifosi Slip eye wear that looks veddy eentah-reztink! Initial impressions are as follows:

1. The Slip model is a full coverage type eye protector that has no full frame. Good for your periphial vision, my dear!

2. The Slip is a good choice for those of you in the Melon Head Club. (You know who you are!) However; it still looks rather stylee on other "face types", as well. Let the eye of the beholder be the judge!

3. These are some lightweight eye goggles. Very comfy! The bow pieces have a rather flexible end that doesn't put a lot of pressure on the head. It's a good thing, trust me! Plus, they don't shift around alot because the ends of the bows have a nice grippy covering that keeps 'em put.

4. The optical quality of these glasses are very high. No apparent distortion of viewed objects, that I've noticed!

5. Nit pick! The Slip did not come with instructions as to how to change out the lenses properly. I was a bit tentative about possibly breaking them, but managed to figure it out. Tifosi, we need to know how to do this, especially if we are "noobies" at these interchangeable lense glasses.

6. It comes with three good lense choices, a cleaning bag, and a really nice soft case for a killer price of $49.99. (At Europa Cycle and Ski, for you locals)

More to come, but the Central Scrutinizer wants me to put these things through thier paces before I write more. Okay? LATE!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sunday: Late Edition

Had a long weekend off with the family this time, as I will be gone all next weekend on Trans Iowa V2 recon,, really! I'm going whether or not the "other car" is fixed or not! Informed my wife of that today, (ducking for cover!), and got the A-OK. So, next weekend by this time we should have the route locked in, and a very close estimate for mileage.

I saw where the Iceman Cometh race was held in Michigan this past weekend and there were reports of Travis Brown, the Trek team rider, being spotted on a non-stock '05 Fisher Paragon. That's a 29"er, by the way! A full on 29 incher, too. Not that crazy pink contraption that he rode in the Single Speed World Championships this year. No word on how he did, but perhaps this bodes well for a 29"er from Trek soon?

The trail clearing looked to be a success out in Geo. Wyth today. At least I didn't hear about anybody cutting themselves up out there! I suggest all locals get out and ride on whatever cleared, or new trail they can. It helps establish the trails when we ride them. I call it "burning in" the trail. It helps keep plant life from encroaching in on the singletrack, and it buffs out the trail surface so it's not so tooth- rattley. Now is a great time to do this, as it's late fall, and all the itchy variety of weeds have died off. Check it out! I'm anxious to see some of the newer single track, and I will be writing up my impressions on it all for you locals soon.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Rumor In The Flesh

Well, here it is. The rumored full suspension 29 inch wheeled bike that I blogged about a few days ago. It's an Intense Spyder which has the Virtual Pivot Point technology. This is the design that got the whole 26 inch world giddy a few years back. Regarded as a benchmark in cross country full suspension design, this bike, if it truly comes to fruition, will be a highly coveted XC race rig by 29"er afficiandos. This bike is a prototype, but full production models are tentatively scheduled for mass consumption by the summer of '06.

The Guitar Ted Labratories take on this developement is that if this bike catches on, it just might convince a few of the major bike companies to sit up and take notice. The 26 inch version of this bike made quite a splash and made the major players step up their game. If- and this is a pretty big if- someone makes a few podium appearances mounted on this rig, we will finally see some mainstream 29 inch bike releases. What wins on Sunday sells on Monday, as the old saw goes.

Secondly, the take here that this is a bike from a "major player", or whatever, is not really founded in reality. Well, maybe Southern California reality, but anywhere else, not so much. This is because Intense is a small, boutique company on the order of Turner, Santa Cruz, or Ellsworth. A step above the custom builder base, which has supported the 29" wheels in the past. The Intense 29 inch Spyder will be limited in it's availability due to it's small dealer base, and will certainly be very spendy. Therefore, it will be doubtful that we will see this bike in large numbers unless someone starts winning on this rig on the pro circuit. My bet is that if Fisher can pull off it's Race Day Super Caliber by springtime '06, it will have a much bigger effect on the marketplace, and have a bigger influence on the future of the sport because the bike is scheduled to be used by the Fisher/ Subaru Team. The only "if" is whether or not one of their honches will podie on one of these rigs.

Well, at any rate, it's good to see another proven design done in the 29 inch wheels by a respected player in the MTB world. It'll be interesting to see how it does. Oh! By the way, nice camo paint job!

Friday, November 04, 2005

It's All In The Timing

When should you care about YOUR trails? The time is now! I have been watching the recent rise in interest in trail maintenance amongst some of the more influential members of our cycling community here. The history of trail maintenance in this area is sketchy, to say the least. My sincere hope is that this new rise of activity and interest will be a sustained one. I also hope that this responsibility is not bourne by a few, as is all too often the case. Time will tell.

The recent rise in interest seems to be directly tied to a proposed race event for 2006 in Geo. Wyth State Park. That's all well and fine, but what happens after that is what I'm interested in. I certainly understand that doing this work will be a reward and a benefit to those participating in the event, but what about the vast majority that won't be participating? Are you people that are not racing, or helping to put on the race going to be not only using trail, but maintaining it? It's your responsibility as well. Is the racing community going to disappear from the trail maintenance detail after their event? That's not good stewardship.

I heard a plan idea, put forth by Carlos the Jackal, that really made sense to me. This is what his thoughts were. If the primary off road trail that you use happens to be close to where you live, ( and often times this is exactly the case) then why not take it upon yourself to be a trail maintainer in that area? If you know of others in the same situation that are trail users, then band together to focus on that trail system. We are talking about three or four basic trail systems here. Ullrich Park, The Green Belt, and Geo. Wyth/ Lower Hartman. Wyth and Hartman could be split up, as there is enough work/ trail on both sides of the river to make that distinction. Of course, if you do not live close to a system, but want to work on it anyway, (Ullrich) then you should do that. I live closest to the Green Belt, so that would be my choice of trail to maintain. Anybody out there with me? Let's not wait for a vote, or some one else to do it. Lets not wait for a phone call. If you are reading this, you are invited! (Well, if you are not a local, then get up and maintain your local trail!) Let's see this through, and not let up. The more we take care of it, the easier it will be to do. If we let it go, then trails get swallowed up by dead falls, grass, and other things. We lose trail, less riders will bother to come out, and the problem gets worse. It's everyones responsibility that rides off road here to pitch in. Do it!

The time for action is now!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Mr. 24 International, and Thoughts On Rumors

I saw that a certain race was catching the eye of Mr. 24. (What's the deal? He goes overseas to race, and now he's Mr. 24 International?) I think that since he is sponsored by a company that sells lights, then he should be looking at this instead. Hey, it's the same island, and everything. Why not? Besides being an international racer, he would get his mug on nation wide TV! Might as well reach for that brass ring while you can!

Regarding the post from yesterday about rumors, it seems that alot of people know stuff out there! It's really interesting that in today's "inter-connected world" that you have to be more careful than ever about what you tell someone. You never know, once you tell a "friend", the next thing you know, it's all over the world on the net! Big Brother is watching, indeed! I suspect that companies are either already aware of this, or are becoming so. Much to the chagrin of us common folk, I think this is going to draw a cloak of secrecy around corporations, and their goings on. Anyway, it's fun to see how it works now!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Keeping One Ear to the Ground

There are rumors, and then there are rumors! Is Specialized coming out with a full suspension 29 incher? Is Trek going to hit the trails with a steel, hardtail, single speed 29"er? Should be answers soon! Check out this action on for more rumor fun! Give me more if ya got any!

Evidence of Higher Intellegence

Yesterday, my boss picked up this....ahem!..."gem". It's a 19th century ladies shaft drive bike featuring more carbon fiber! The rims and the handle bars are wood on this baby! (If you're having a little trouble with yesterdays and todays refernces to carbon fiber, then let me help you out. Wood is a form of carbon fiber! That's right, natures own little version of lightweight nirvana.)

That's not the reason I show this bike to you. The real reason for this is the wheels. I took an un-official measurement of rim diameter using my trusty Stanley tape measure, and found that the rim diameter on this bike is slightly larger than 700c. That's right folks. Even though the grips, saddle, and pedals on this bike are downsized for the ladies, the wheels are big. Bigger diameter rolls over stuff better. We were able to get some air in these crusty, over 100 year old clincher tires, and I'd say the rubber on these is at least a 1.8 inch width. Yep! It's a 29"er folks! A fixed gear, shaft drive, 29"er! Just goes to show you, they really knew a thing or two back then and we are just standing on the shoulders of our ancestors.

So, next time someone says to you something about those "new 29 inch wheeled bikes" being a fad, or weird, or whatever, just look 'em in the eye and say, " 29"ers? It's old news my friend. What rock did you just crawl out from under?" Ha, ha!

History. Don't ever turn your back on history! There's higher intellegence in them thar years!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Carbon Fiber is Everywhere!

Hey! Take a look at this carbon fiber flat pedal. It's completely machined out of carbon fiber, and the only metal parts are in the spindle assembly. Traction is said to be great with a rubber soled shoe. Apparently, a mountainbike version is in the works. No word on weight, but it felt light! Durability is unknown, but be sure; Guitar Ted Labratories will stay on top of this developing component news for you!

Internet Malfunction!

My morning post got sucked into some digital blackhole! Mr. 24 said he couldn't even log in this am. Crazy! To make matters worse, I can't even retrieve any of my e-mail because my computer says I have a "bad password"! Wha? I never would change it. Did it all of a sudden get moldy, and rotten? Too many fruit flys? What? Maybe this should be today's post!.........

We are sorry! We are experiencing technical dificulties here at the palatial Guitar Ted Labratories. We appologize for any inconvienience this may cause. Please stand by for the resumption of your regularly scheduled blog entry!

Now, if only I could get that digital test pattern to post!...........................(noises of hammering and tools hitting a concrete floor).......................................ouch!.......................Later! I'm out!!