Monday, January 30, 2006

Technical Difficulties: Update

It looks as though the computer geeks are going to get me up and running yet this week sometime. I hope to be back by Wednesday, but we'll see!

Sorry if you've come here expecting my usual rants, opinions and humor only to find nothing new. Hang on a little longer and I'll be back! It's rather hard for me to use the shop computer, as time on it is limited by Mr. 24"s web surfing! (Just kidding, Jeff!)

See you all again soon!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Technical Difficulty

Sorry for the lack of posts in the past couple of days! I am having difficulties with the home computer. I appreciate your patience while I work out this matter. Thank You!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Where The Boys Go

This past weekend, I had the rare opportunity to work on a Saturday. I was opposite Buchanondale, as we manned the shop from 9am.-5pm. The funny thing about a bike shop in the attracts the boys! We had the usual group of groupies, and a surprise too. Old Europa veteran dirtram, and his beard, graced us with his presence all afternoon. (Thanks buddy!)

It's funny how the bike shop attracts folks like that. I remember back to when I had my other shop gig. We had a crew of regulars there too. What is it that makes you want to hang out all day in a bike shop, anyway? I suppose it's got something to do with a love of cycling. Perhaps you just really enjoy the company of those who toil away at the local shop. Maybe it's just the smell.......I don't know! I suppose that's one thing we have over the on-line retailers. It's hard to hang out, or get the vibe from a website!

So, let's hear it from the bike shop groupies! What is it that you like about hanging out in a bike shop? I'd like to know. Thanks in advance and..........could you hand me that tri-allen wrench there?

Monday, January 23, 2006

It's Just Another Day....Really!

So, today is my birthday! Thought I might as well get that out of the way right off the bat! It's pretty funny how all the cards you get at my age pronounce your immediate demise, your impotence, and your uselessness to society. Gee.........thanks, I guess? I know folks mean well, but really.........this has been going on for the last fifteen birthdays now, I get it! I do not want to come off as a party-pooper, or rain on anyones good will towards me. In fact, I'm just as guilty! I guess that instead of making growing old a bitter joke, we might do well to actually celebrate life for a change.

Take for instance a couple of stories I just read about concerning "old" fellows that still "rock the bike". I love reading about those kind of guys! We even have a fellow or two from my local area that are 50 plus years young and spank guys half there age on a regular basis. That's inspiring! Then there are folks like my Mom, who in her retirement, hits the gym three times a week and rides 20-40 milers a couple times a week during "the season". That's something to look up to. Those folks aren't buying into the "birthday card culture" that says, "You're old, senile, meaningless, and fun to put down".

So, maybe I'm a little cynical. Hey, these cards are all just in fun..........right? Well, I could do without that kind of fun, so I usually choose to ignore, as best I can, the cards and their message. Fortunately, this birthday doesn't end in a zero, or the fuss would be bigger! Heck, then I might even have to deal with the black baloons, too! I just try to remind myself that these folks are really trying to extend their well wishes, and maybe I just need to get over it already!

At any rate, I got to ride my bike today, and that's saying alot, as far as I'm concerned. I am blessed, and I know it. Besides my wife and kids, its the best present I could have, today. That's something I get everyday, so everyday is a good day, really.

So, when anyone asks, "How was your birthday?". I say, "Just another day...........Really!"

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death!

Sometimes I think we take it for granted that we have it sooo good here in the ol' U.S. of A. check that!............I know we do! Take the recent news that the Dutch Cycling Union handed down the other day. 29"ers are outlawed in cross country races! Yep! Too bad if you invested heavily in the 29"er, they do not care! It's a stifling ruling, and very counter productive for a few reasons that we here in America, or elsewhere, may find a little difficult to understand.

Essentially, the cycling unions in Europe are the only game in town for organized racing at the highest levels. You do not have large, well organized, independant race series like we do here in the U.S. You either tow the company line, or go home! Unlike what happened here when several groups of race promoters decided that NORBA wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and set off on their own path. Racers here were not cowed, and came to the independant series in droves. So much so, that NORBA had to start issuing single day licenses to entice racers back into the fold. That's not happening in Europe anytime soon. Rules and proper procedure are pre-eminent, and any rebellious types, are not looked upon kindly.

Speaking of rules, the Euro's have got reams of them, and they are very confusing, to boot. Which usually means that the interpretation of the rules is really at issue. That almost always ends up being a very bad situation. But, how can you argue when they get the results? Take a look at the top place finishers in most any XC, marathon, or downhill event these days, and Europeans dominate the results. Well, whatever you may think of their results, I think it's fair to say that their policies leave a bit to be desired!

That brings us back to the grassroots level movement here in the States. It's very alive and well, thank you very much. Several cross country races are happening where the wheel size of your bike is the furthest thing from anyones mind, and everyone is having fun.....well, for the most part! Rules are there, yes, but only to keep things organized, safe, and most of all, fun!

The big thing for me, at least when it comes to wheels, and what is a cyclo-cross bike and what isn't, yadda, yadda, yadda......... is what is your course like? Is it something that you could ride fast on a cyclo-cross bike? And you do not want cyclo-cross bikes?'s a thought, your course so that they do not have an advantage! Let people ride what they have! And don't make the club so exclusive! Lighten up already, and have some fun. Sure, I like 29"ers and I think that they are better in a lot of ways to the 26" wheeled bikes, but would I exclude one or the other from competition? No way! That's just plain ignorant! Got a single speed? Bring it on! Direct drive, or gears? Okay, let's see what'cha got! Mix it all together, and have some fun. It's all about bikes and riding them in a competitive atmousphere.

If they start getting all prickly about rules and sanctions here in America.....well then, I hope racing dies!! What fun is it if you have to comply to a ream of rules, and find out that the bicycle you love is out of bounds? No thanks! I'll be riding on my own, somewhere with the wind in my face, and a long road ahead of!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Shop "Super Computer"

Allright! Here's your chance to guess what Europa Cycle and Ski's "Super Computer" is trying to do. Is it trying to solve world hunger? Is it trying to find the square root of 1? You be the judge! There is enough old, crusty, digital bits grinding away underneath that counter that something great.............nay! Fantastic!......has to be happening there., right?


Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday Bonus Post: Ride Report

Today I was supposed to work, but I didn't since I was supposed to get a stove delivered to my house today. Well, That didn't happen. But....a bike ride did! Above, check out how you navigate around Iowa's gravel goodness! Also note the ominous look to the sky. That comes in later.
I stopped to have a gel, and while looking around, I found these interesting footprints! Some say that Iowa has some cougars wandering about. I may not be any animal expert, but I think these were most likely left by a bobcat. Cool! One more thing to think about if you are in Trans Iowa!
Notice the smooth appearance of the gravel, or lack thereof, in this photo. Most of the roads I traveled today were high traffic, least for gravel roads! Some places were clean of gravel across the whole roadway. Just about pavement-like! Roads less traveled have way more gravel than these. Guess which ones I picked for Trans Iowa?
Lots of rolling hills today! I felt great, and the small tweaks I made to my set-up recently have all been very positive! Lots of Hammer gel, Elete, and Power Bar Endurance mix in the water fueled me just fine for the three and a half hour trip. I came home feeling like I could keep riding even more, so that's a good thing. Sorry that no one else was along to get a snapshot of me in my blue jacket and red tights, but hey!....maybe that's a good thing! A raccoon did give me a sidelong look though!

As for the ominous clouds: well, they started to produce some snow flakes by the time I got home. Within about two hours, we had about two and a half inches of wet, heavy snow on the ground. Glad I missed that! the way, I wonder........what happened with that stove delivery? Humph!

29"ers: It's Getting Bigger By The Minute!

Yeah, yeah! I know..........I am a 29"er freak! Okay, I admit it. Maybe it's because I pay attention to it, but it is getting to the point that just about any casual observer has to be noticing something is going on here. This is January, for crying out loud! Not your typical time for new product info to be spilling out.

Check out these news bits: Salsa has it's new and improved Dos Niner frameset in quality control at their warehouse. They will be in stock next week! A new company called Mint Cycles is introducing what is thought to be the worlds first S3 steel 29"er frameset very soon. Niner Cycles has a teaser up on concerning their four inch travel 29"er frame that is currently in testing with plans for release by late summer. Redline has quite a buzz going on over their imminently available Monocog 29"er. These are just news bits on bikes I can think of off the top of my head! That doesn't even include the components that are coming on line, like Pace's carbon 29" fork, or Salsa Cycles Delgado Disc rims. Plus, I know about a super-secret, bombshell that is about to be unleashed that includes TWO new bikes from a well known bike line!

So, I wrote a piece awhile back wondering if any manufacturers were interested in making any money on 29 inch wheeled stuff. I guess that there are! Thing is, I wonder what it's going to take to wake up folks at places like Specialized, Cannondale, or Giant? This market is growing, but in reality, it's not huge. However; the pie is only so big, and I think that if the larger corporations got into the market, two things would happen. First, the smaller custom type builders would suffer. Especially these new start-up companies. Secondly, the sheer marketing might of the larger corporations would probably expand the market, but only for themselves. I think one of the things holding them back is that they are waiting to see if 29"ers are the next big thing. I think it's time to change the way they look at things!

Here's what I think, if the manufacturers would quit looking for that magic trend and start focusing on the micro-trends they would be more diversified, and better able to react to market changes. 29"ers are part of that. They are trending! If you do not have a foot in the market, that trend just may pass you by. But, that's not the only trend in town. Have you seen oil prices lately? Yep! Goin' up again! Some say that oil is destined to go above $70.00 a barrel, which, as you know, is going to spike gas prices at the pump again. Remember what happened last fall? Got a commuter bike in your line-up? Another trend, I'd say! Small? Maybe. It might just turn out to be huge!

That's my take, and I'm sure you'll see it again when another batch of unbelievable 29"er news sweeps over my computer monitor again. Ahh! It's coming in waves!!!

Have a great weekend, and go out and ride that bike!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"Rock" Bikes At Trans Iowa?

Mr. 24 was working on his single speed training device the other day, and snapped these photos of the rig. As you can see, he is a dirty, dirty man!

I was contemplating the effects of early season gravel road riding when it occurred to me that
the participants of Trans Iowa V2 could have similar problems. Say it starts out wet, then it gets nice and windy. Voila'! "Rock" bikes, and "rock" people, for that matter!

It'd kind of be like Paris-Roubaix. You know....when the riders are pictured covered in mud, to the point that they look like alien mud creatures. Only at T.I.V2, they would be covered in limestone! I wonder if that's good for your complexion?

Then there is the effects of limestone encrusted drivetrain parts. Mr. 24's was quite squeaky the day he had it up on the rack. I suppose, since it's a singlespeed, that that is the worst thing that could occur. If you were running a geared set-up, well, that would be a completely different story. I could see where that might mess with shifting somewhat, couldn't you?

Well, it all might just be a pipe dream anyway. We haven't had significant precipatation in about four weeks now, and when the frost comes out of the ground, it'll get pretty dusty real quick. We are certainly in need of some rain! One things for certain. If it stays dry, the track for T.I.V2 will be ultra fast, dusty, and a bit easier to negotiate than intended. Oh, well! There is nothing I can do about that!

I guess if I had my wish, it'd rain every day for a week leading up to the event, and then be nice and sunny, just like last year. Wind? Well, that's at least one thing I can count on. It's just which direction it's coming from that'll make the difference!

Rock bikes at Trans Iowa? I hope so, that'd be epic!

People rockin' the bike at Trans Iowa? can count on that!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

'Cause I'm The Tax Man......

I just read this piece of news posted on Cyclelicious about a state representative who wants to require all Iowa bike shops to collect a five dollar per new bike sold tax! The reason given was that hunters, fishers, and snowmobile/ ATV users have to pay a fee that goes into a fund to maintain natural resources for their activities, so why don't bicyclists have to do the same?

Well, I see several problems with this legislation, as proposed. First, there was something mentioned that the tax might be proportional to the heigth of the bicycle! Ludicriss! I mean, can you imagine what everyone is going to do then? "Yeah, I'm 6'2" and I want a 13" bicycle. So what?!!" Yeah, like THAT'LL work! Then there is the "WalMart" problem. In the legislation proposed, bikes for children are exempt from the tax. What do you suppose WalMart, et all are going to say there bikes are for? Yup! They are all for kids! No tax. Even if your 95 andwant to ride a bike, you just say it's for your great grand kids and out the door you go. And the local bike shop...........yeah! They are the tax collectors in this scenario. NO ONE likes a tax collector, well.....except Jesus! He at least made one an deciple! Anyway.................. You can imagine how everyone purchasing a new bike is going to want an instant five dollars off, because they don't want to pay that tax! Brilliant!

You see, the other user groups have a major difference from cyclists. The one thing that drives 'em nuts is that we as cyclists are free! Free from having to pay for what we love to do! Think about it. You want to fish? Pay for a license! Want to shoot Bambi? Yup! Pay for a license! Gonna pilot yer boat, snowmobile, or ATV? License please! So, we are distinct in that we can run out our front door and ride......without paying to do it.......legally!

But what about maintenance for your bicycle trails? Hmmmm....? Yeah, good question. Make sure you ask all the pedestrians, runners, snowmobilers, roller bladers, and cross country skiers the same question, okay? I mean, are we going to charge an extra five bones to anyone that buys a pair of running shoes, roller blades, or dog leashes? Or, are we going to ban all users outside of cyclists from using the paved trail systems in our state? Try doing that! Yeah, that'll work, too!

Here's an idea. Many of these trails are built using money from the collection of taxes and government grants in conjunction with highway projects. How about setting a little aside from taxes all ready being collected to be used only for trail maintenance? The fund could be monitered by the state and municipalities could apply for monies to make repairs as necessary.

Either that, or we could make ALL bicyclists buy a yearly license. Just like rollerbladers, dog walkers, joggers, cross country skiers, and pedestrians that use the trail systems would start doing. Riggggghhhhhht!

Excuse me, sir! Taxman here! ................

Let me tell you how it will be.

There's one for you, nineteen for me.

'Cause I'm the Tax Man!

Yeah, I'm the Tax Man

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Before You Know It......

Tick....tick.....tick....... The time is slipping away fast now. Here are some things that are going to happen "before you know it". In no particular order.............

Before you know it..........

1. Your first event/ race will happen. Yep, pretty quick now, you'll be lining up for that first sufferfest that is the very first race/ event of the year. Are you ready?

2. The first 60 degree/ 70 degree/ 80 degree day, will happen. (depending upon where you live!) You know.........that first day that you can ride without a jacket comfortably, and start working on your so-pro-tan! For you that are downunder, you will be doing the reverse...before you know it!

3. You'll be trying to find a good place to put your rollers/ trainers away for the season. Yaaayyyy!!!!

4. You'll be dragging out that bike from the garage/ basement/ shed, tuning it up, pumping up the tires, and find out that you've got a flat, or some other mechanical issue that you remember saying this about: "Oh, I'll get that fixed when the weather turns bad and I can't ride anyway." Oh well! Down to the bike shop only to find out that there are 500 other people just like you that have already dropped their bikes off, causing a two week delay in your first ride of the season! Ahhhhh!!!!!!!!!

5. You'll be so giddy about riding again after winter, that you'll ride waaayyyy farther than you probably should have, and wake up the next day with muscles sore where you didn't know you had muscles!

6. Jeff will be breaking out his "Swamp-ass meter" again!

7. Trans Iowa V2 will happen and epic stories of mass sufferage will be told. Some of victory and some of defeat. Which story will be yours? (Assuming you are in Trans Iowa, that is!)

8. I'll be riding my Inbred 29"er. (hopefully waaayy before I know it!)

9. Buchanandale will podie in a 24hr event, and Mr. 24 will get the Quachita Challenge record.

10. Cannondale will acquiesce to my desire to have a Rush 29"er in Tangerine and produce them to resounding praise from all 29" devotees, and sell more bikes than they could imagine. (Hey! I have a dream, too!......and it could come true if only.............)

That's all for today. What would you say is going to happen "before you know it"?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Art Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Yes, another philosophical post.....................................

I am amused to read some of the things people write on internet forums. It's pretty amazing at times, both in a good way, and unfortunately all too often, in a bad way! Take for instance the mega-thread on recently documenting the creation of a 29"er by Jeff Jones. The person buying the bike had posted the thread and shared all the photos of the on-going build process sent to him by Mr. Jones. The tube selection, mitering, welding, wheel building, and on and on. If you haven't ever seen one of Jeff Jone's creations, then you need to check this stuff out. You won't believe it!

After the bike was built, a post was made concerning the finished bike and the term art. Whoo-boy! Did that ever start a firestorm! What is art? Can a bike be art? Is there a price range or special place that an object needs to be in to be qualified as being art? These were some of the actual questions being debated on that forum! Wow! Anyway, talk about a buzz-kill!

I was an art major in college, so I might be a little bit qualified to speak on this matter. I remember discussing this very topic, that is, "what is art?". Well, I remember that it comes down to a couple of basic things. First, does the art in question move you, or in other words, does it elicit emotions. Do you feel anything when experiencing this art? If so, then it is art. The other thing was that art is in the eye of the beholder. For instance, there are many utilitarian objects that were commonplace tools of ancient civilizations that are now considered valuable works of art. Not to be confused with their historical, and cultural value, but true works of art. Think of pottery as an example.

So, back to bikes, allright? Could a bike fall into this realm, this nebulous area called art? Why not? I think it's obvious. Look at a Hetchins intricate, handfiled lug work, or Sacha White's amazing dropouts on one of his Vanillas, or the amazing lines of a Jeff Jones bike. Art?

Yeeeew betch-ahhhh! ( as we like to say here in Iowa!)

Special Public Announcement: I'm still waiting for that Rush 29"er in Tangerine! Anyone in Bedford, PA. listening?........................hmm?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

It Was The Cyclo-Cross Bikes Fault!

I was thinking the other day how I came to be riding a 29" wheeled bike. You know, there aren't a lot of test rides available for these things! Espescially back in 2002. I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the process that brought me to the point that now, I wouldn't ever consider buying a 26" wheeled bike again.

I had just gotten hired to be a bike mechanic again in the fall of 2002 when everything kind of gelled together and the desire for a 29"er was born. The beginning of all of it actually goes back a bit further than that. I had found the wonderful time wasting attributes of a little web site called It was then, while surfing through all the different forums, that I came across the 29"er Forum. In it, I learned about this odd mountain bike wheel standard and why it was supposed to be an improvement over what I was riding at the time. Of course, the whole idea wasn't totally alien to me, as I remember seeing bikes like the DiamondBack Overdrive, and the Bianchi Project 7 bikes. I remember that they didn't take off then, but that they didn't get bad reviews from the press, or from the few riders that knew about them. Then, after I started commuting to the bike shop on my "cyclo-cross" bike, something happened!

That was when I realized that bigger wheels actually do roll better over trail obstacles than smaller wheels do. I could tell that there was a difference when I would go back to commuting on my old Bontrager Race. So, then I see at the 2002 InterBike, that Surly had introduced a 29"er frame and fork. They called it a Karate Monkey! Wow! How cool a name was that! Game over! I put the Bontrager up for sale, and used the money to buy a Karate Monkey frame and fork in March of 2003 and I haven't looked back.

How could I do such a thing? How could I go for a bike sight unseen, and un-ridden? Well, I'd done such a thing before when in 1992 I ordered up a Klien Attitude when I'd never even seen one before! That one didn't work out for me as well as the Karate Monkey did. Expensive lesson there. But the Surly was love at first ride! I'd had all those things I'd been reading about 29"ers come to life for me as I rode it. That and the feeling of a bike that actually seemed to fit right to me. The wheels didn't seem so odd, but I immediately felt they were the right size for me. I know that it's a subjective thing, and others may or may not understand, but for me, everything was spot on. I was hooked!

So, if you ever wondered how in the world a guy from the middle of Iowa got so impassioned for 29"ers, you know!

And knowing is half the battle!

(This article was written especially for my friend "The_Smackdown" in hopes that the company he works for "gets their head out", and makes a 29"er! Love ya, man! Let's do lunch!)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Just Ridin' And Smilin'

I went out for a little ride today on my Karate Monkey single speed. Just rode around for three hours. No speed drills, intervals, or any hill repeats. Just ridin' around. Looked up the boys at their meeting place before they went out on their little road excursion. Saw Mr.24, Super Saul, Mr. Fox, and J.Y. It sounded like they went for the local 50 mile loop. I hope they stayed warm! It was a balmy 21 degrees Fahrenheit when I left this morning, and by noon, when I got home, it was 34. I think Paddy H. sent us down some dry, Canadian air last night. It gets really cold in the dark but heats up fast in the sun. Anyway, it was a great ride. I'm sure there will be ride reports from some of the others when they get back! Check them out here and here.

Have a great weekend! I hope you all are having some kind of fun.........preferably on a bike!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday News Bits

Here are some news bits that have accumulated on my desk whilst I was otherwise occupied by ranting! Enjoy!

1. New Endurance Event Gets a Name!: The Kansas based endurance race spawned by the idea of Trans Iowa has been officially named. Called Dirty Kanza 200 Miler, it will be an unsupported endurance test over the very hilly Flint Hills region of Kansas. Named for the Native American tribe that inhabited the region, this event will take place on May 20th. Look for more details on this site soon.

3. Van Dessel Cycles offers 29"er parts: Not only does Van Dessel cycles offer two really cool 29"er frames at reasonable prices, but now they have a wheelset, fork, and a funky handlebar on offer. They also have some cool fixed gear hubs and a flip-flop wheelset for you direct drive freaks. Prices are really good, check it out!

4. Last years winner of Trans Iowa starts a frame building business: Ira Ryan, of Portland, Oregon has started a frame building service. No surprise to me, as his winning rig from last years 305 mile endurance slog through Iowa was built by him just prior to the event. He even ran the steel frame and fork with no paint! I thought it was titanium at first!

Updated@ 9:00am. A commenter has provided a link to a photo from Bike Portland, a great website about cycling in the Portland, Oregon area. Here's a look at some of Ira's fine lugged steel goodness!

Updated @ 9:08am!! After a little more looking around on, I found Ira's website! Congrats to Ira and I wish him all the sucess he can handle in his new venture! Check it out!

5. Trans Iowa Competitors- How Old Are You? A T.I.V2 competitor e-mailed me and wondered if I had the ages of all the people entered into this years event. I do not, but if you care to divulge that info, you can do so on this thread on Check it out, and stay young! It's all a state of mind any way. Right?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

When Are "They" Going To Learn?

Having been in some sort of retail business for 29 years or so, I sometimes have to wonder at what passes for customer relations these days. The practices employed by some companies makes me shudder. Especially when that company is in the bicycle business. Since I work at a shop, it hits a little closer to home, I guess.

Recently, there have been some not so pleasant reminders of poor company communications with their customers. One of them not directly related to the shop I work at, and one of them is. Both instances of poor customer relations are similar in these two cases. The customer wants a product. Product in question is new, and not yet available. A date is given by the company as to when to expect delivery of said product. guessed it, the product doesn't show up when promised. A new date is given to expect the product by, and...........yep! No dice! Both situations have not been resolved yet, and both go back to the fall of last year. NOT ACCEPTABLE!!

Look, there are plenty of reasons that the companies in question might have for the delays. Some legitimate ones too, I'd bet. Problem is...........the customer doesn't know that! The company didn't communicate the problem to the consumer. The consumer is left to believe that the company lied to him, because what else is he supposed to think? Why don't companies communicate the problems they are having with the consumer? I suppose one of the things they are worried about is looking bad. Huh? Is that better than looking bad because you appear to be lying? Hmm.............time to rethink things, me-thinks!

Want to see a better examples? Check out Surly, or Salsa for some. Both companies utilize blogs to keep consumers updated on manufacturing hiccups, product delays, product developements, and to tell folks when to expect things to be in stock. Salsa also has some of it's employees posting on internet forums where they can directly dialogue with consumers. There they can disseminate information and gain valuable feedback. They are able to react to consumers demands more quickly, and can keep a product delay from being seen as a broken promise by explaining the circumstances behind it.

Communication people! When are they ever going to learn!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Racing Improves The Breed

A recent article on the Gary Fisher website has some in the the 29"er circles stirred up. Written by Fisher-Subaru team member Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, it details his initial responses to riding a 29"er Rig single speed and his thoughts on using 29" wheels for short, XC type events. Not mincing his words, I see where he is coming from, and I do not disagree. I think there are some valuable things to note here, for 29"er afficiandos.

Jeremy notes that the weight of the tire and wheel was a little troublesome for him in the 29" format. He mentions that Bontrager Wheelworks have been working on the problem. Interesting. I do know that this "problem" is not insurmountable, as there already exists at least one super light, super strong wheel choice for 29"ers in the form of the Industry Nine wheelset. Bontrager Wheelworks will come up with something pretty cool, I'm sure.

Then there is the mention of Rock Shox coming up with a lighter fork for the 29"er. I suppose that could be done, but to get below 3lbs., where the 26"ers are now with their XC forks I think is not wise. As far as suspension goes, I'm not sure it's really needed for many Norba type, XC courses. With the way 29"ers roll over stuff, and as stiff as most pros run their front shocks, I'd think that the already available Bontrager Switch Blade fork would do the trick for them. But what do I know, I'm a clydesdale anyway!

Jeremy notes that he is eager to try a 29"er on a race course someday if the weight problem is addressed to his satisfaction. I think that without even having raced one, he has helped improve the breed already. Not that I would buy into anything that comes out of this at all. As I said, I'm a big dude and that lightweight, XC type stuff is a breakdown waiting to happen for me. However; I'm excited to see what comes of this, as many are swayed by what the pros do, and technology seems to be driven by racing to a certain degree. In the end, even I may find a benefit or two from the on-going developement of 29"ers as pro race rigs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

"Soul" Man

Since I have been into the ephemeral attributes of bicycles lately, how about we discuss the "soul" of a bicycle? Does that concept even make sense? You know........."That ol' Salsa Ala Carte really has soul, man!" So, what's going on here? What do people mean when they say something like that?

To straight up say that any inanimate object has "soul", or to be more accurate, posesses a soul, is a little looney. I mean, it's just a bunch of steel, aluminum, plastic, and rubber! Right? Last time I checked, BB King had soul. Heck, even you and I have a soul! So, what gives?

Let's go back to BB King for a moment. When you hear someone say, "BB's got that soul, man!" , they are not talking about the man's soul. They are talking about that elusive quality that oozes out from the man's every pore. That vibe- the feeling that he gives off, especially when he makes Lucille squeal! It's something that you can't grab and get ahold of, but it's there!

And this has what to do with bikes?................ Well, this is what I think people are talking about when they say a particular bicycle company, or bicycle has soul. The big thing here is that this version of soul is totally subjective. I mean, where do you draw the line? Take Salsa for instance. It used to be a small, independantly owned bicycle frame and component manufacturer. Everybody said they, and their products had soul. Now, Salsa is a small, corporately owned manufacturer of bicycle frames and components. Now days, people say the "new" Salsa has no soul. What?!..... I guess it has something to do with who owns it. Then take Ibis as another example. Ibis was sold to an investor group, went bankrupt, and then was brought back by a very passionate group of people, and re-introduced to the market at InterBike, last fall. They did not come back with anything resembling the old steel and titanium bikes they were known for previously, but rather carbon fiber bikes. "No soul", said the old-timers. What!? I guess you'd better not ever change the way you build, or your designs, lest you lose your soul, and go to the devil! Yeah.........whatever! So, yeah, if you want your bike to have "soul", it has to be approved by the Soul Police, I guess.

Look, you can say your bike has soul, mojo, black magic, or whatever you want. That's okay. I don't think a bike gives off any sort of vibe, well..........not like BB King does!

Now that's SOUL, man!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Inspiration: From A Bike?

I spend a fair bit of time, (too much, really!) on the forums on Once in awhile I'll come across a discussion that piques my interest. That happened yesterday. The basis for the thread was a question that was asked concerning whether or not you rode more when you bought a twentynine inch wheeled bike. That is to say, does the bike inspire you, or motivate you to ride more? Is that even possible?

Interesting, to be sure. I think that the answer is not so simple, but some others that posted on that thread thought differently. Some would say that the answer is a straight up no. That you either have desire, or not, and if the bike is a limiting factor, it has no effect on desire. It's then a question of something being wrong with the bike. Get the bike right, and then apply your desire to ride. Well, I guess that sounds a little too simplistic to me.

Here's my take: I think that the notion that you either have desire or not independant of any outside influences is dead wrong. Okay, I play guitar. It's a commonly accepted notion, at least with guitarists that I know, that a special guitar can make you want to play more than you would normally. I don't think it's a quantifiable thing. You can't put your finger on it. For instance, I have two Stratocasters and one of them I like more than the other even though they are virtually identical guitars. I will play the one more than the other because it does something for me, it inspires me, to go beyond what I would normally desire to do. I love the other guitar too. It's just that the one has something special that I can feel when I play it.

Now on to bikes. Does a bicycle have the same effect? I think that it can. I think that, for whatever reason, we as cyclists can also become enamoured of certain bikes which will motivate us. Motivate us to ride more than we would normally. I know that there have been times when I was enjoying the feeling of being on my bike so much that I kept going when perhaps I shouldn't have, and certainly more than I had originally desired to.

I'm not going to pretend that there are not practical differences between bikes that might cause you to lose your desire. Things like an ill fitting bike, saddle, or even the color of a bike can affect your desire to ride. Or should I say, cause you to not be able to implement your desire? It's a complicated issue.

Well, it may not make sense to you, but my opinion is that a bike can inspire you. It can get you to do things beyond what you had originally intended. Not because it has any power over you, but for that certain something that gets you to decide to push it a little harder. When you do, if you are rewarded, then that's where your desire is increased to do that again, the next time. Maybe not just any bike can do that................or can it?

I know that desire comes from within, but that doesn't mean that it can't be grown. What do you think?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It's That Time Of The Year

It seems like whenever I get my hopes up for a big ride, it almost never happens to work out. Most of my good, long rides happen by mistake! Anyway, what can you do when your body says no and your mind says yes? Well, I listened to my body this time. It's hard not to when everything is pouring out your backside! Nuff said!

The good news is that now I'm rested up and feeling better. The whole family has different forms of sickness right now, so it's not a very happy household at the moment. Fortunately, no one else got it like I got it!

So, speaking of rides, I see that the Mr. 24 T.I.V2 sampler went off without a hitch. Endurosnob had a little gravel party the other day, too. Sounds like the boys from Nebraska will be doing a century pass next weekend. Lots of Trans Iowa people out training on the gravel, in January! Who'da thunk it? Seems like if the weather holds out for the rest of the winter, we may have some finely honed athletes at the start line come April.

Speaking of T.I.V2, we were glad to have gotten the stuff sack situation covered. Now to get the info and order 'em up! Check that one of the list! Jeff and I have been talking about some course fine tuning. Meeting with the Decorah folks is still up in the air. Hawarden housing and pre-race meeting details coming together, check! So, a couple of checks, and a couple things left to cover. It's coming along fine!

Well, that's about a wrap from the weekends doings here! Hope you all are happy and healthy!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Inbred Build: Part I

I finally got around to starting the build on the Inbred yesterday. I've got some photos for you today showing the facing and chasing of the bottom bracket shell

The tool I'm using is a Park Bottom Bracket Facing and Chasing tool. You gotta treat these things nice! Sharp edges are your friend!

Here you can see where I have taken off some paint and metal, but still have a ways to go. Inside the shell you can see one of the chasing tools. They double as a guide for the facer.

Here you can see what the "face" of the bottom bracket shell should look like when you are done. Perfectly parallel sufaces insure that the two bottom bracket cups are in alignment. This isn't so critical as it used to be with servicable bottom brackets.

If you have chased and faced correctly, you should be able to thread your botom bracket in by hand, all the way in!

Make sure you use plenty o grease! Keeps things from siezing and creaking! Sometimes I'll use LocTite, or anti-sieze if I'm using aluminum or titanium parts.

Well, that's it for today! Next will be the facing and reaming of the headtube in preparation for the headset installation. Bummer on my seat post from the V-Link! Looks like preliminary measurements show it to be too short! Oh Well! Guess I'll have to start looking for a 27.2mm anodized seat post in some funky color! Anybody got a lead on a long one?

Have a great weekend, ya'all! Might be some ride report here tomorrow. Check back!

Friday, January 06, 2006

An Open Letter To Manufacturers


I was going through some internet forums and websites when I suddenly came to the point where I had to ask this question. So, without further adieu, here are some ideas for you manufacturers, representatives, and entreprenuers to chew on.

Does anybody really need another steel singlespeed compatible frame to fit 29" wheels? Look, we've been inundated with singlespeed, singlespeed with sliding drop out, and eccentric bottom bracket single speed frames for the past three years. Market saturation anyone? Here's an idea. Almost no one makes a simple, budget minded steel frame with verticle drop outs and with a derailluer hanger. I can't believe no one has stepped up to provide the marketplace with something like this on a mass production scale. And as far as that goes, there is only one aluminum framed bike that I would put into this category, the Fisher Cobia. I find that through my observations on the internet forums, that there are plenty of "Does anybody know of any budget frames and forks so I can get into 29"ers" threads out there.

Here's what I think would be slam dunks in this market segment. Salsa steel Ala Carte hardtail 29"er. QBP would have another "Karate Monkey out of stock" problem! How about a steel Fisher frame, rigid fork, and Deore level parts that would sell for$500-$600? Sound like a winner? Give us a Bontrager Race 29"er (and the 26" wheeled little brother to it) and Trek would be selling them so fast, it would make heads spin. Jamis Dragon 853 29"er anyone? This is where a "second level", smaller company like Jamis, KHS, or Haro might make more of a dent in the market. Make it $800 or less, complete, and I think you have a winner.

Does any tire manufacturer want to "own" a market segment? This is simple. Make a "true" 2.4" wide, fast, reasonably lightweight, folding kevelar bead 29" tire and you will own the market! Who cares if it may or may not fit any of the current frames and forks out there. The vast majority of 29" riders logging into's 29"er forum don't. Just check out any tire thread or any of the tire polls that have been run there for the numbers. Heck, there's even a "sticky" at the top of the thread now showing what they want. Don't worry about what it would fit or not. Build it, and they will come! Hey, even Surly went as far as building their own frame, fork, and rim to fit a 26X3.7 tire. It all seems to be selling fine. If that can work, then I do not see a problem with a 29" fattie!

Does anybody want to "step up" the competition in 29" forks? Another simple one. I can say it in a word......Fox! Okay? But that's not all, the rigid fork market thrives again due to the way 29" wheels negotiate trail chatter. I think that the upcomong Bontrager SwitchBlade fork should do nicely, sales-wise. I think that there is room for a finely crafted steel fork provided by a widely distributed brand to make a dent here, as well. Finally, the lower end of the suspension fork market is lacking. If Rock Shox were to make the Tora 29" fork available aftermarket, it would sell well, I believe. Manitou? These guys better get into this market, and cover it, before it passes them by. There is no way that Maverick and White Brothers survive selling to the 29" market if Manitou steps in with quality product at the top and the bottom of the marketplace.

There! That's my suggestions. Anybody else got any good ideas? Let your voice be heard!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thursday Special: Tidbits Clean-up

Here are some things that have been collecting on the front desk of Guitar Ted Labratories that need to be disseminated. Some of it is news, some of it is downright goofy. None of it deserves its own post. Kind of like leftovers night at Mom's house!

1. NYC Bikes announces a 29"er complete bike for their line. NYC Bikes has a wide variety of budget minded bikes already available and now are adding a 29"er to that long list. Tentatively called the Crosspeed II, it will be a sliding dropout bike (Yes! Another one, we have enough already, do we not?) convertible from single speed to derailluer, for those of you afraid of commitments. The fork provided will be of steel and available separately, although, from the meager information that I have, it may be a little short axle-to-crown-wise. Projected price for the "basic" spec is sub $500.00 Due out in March. See for more.

2.Quiring Cycles 29"er Fork. Not only does this Michigan based builder do a very sharp looking suspension corrected fork for a 29"er, but he also does some mighty fine steel aluminum, and titanium frames as well. The fork is a very sharp looking, tapered leg, steel unit that can be had disc specific or with canti mounts. Plenty of clearance for fat tires and has a generous axle to crown measurement of 485mm. Weight is approximately 2lbs. 6oz. and can be had for about $200.00

3. How "Dirty" Are You? Thanks to Cyclelicious for posting this link a couple of days ago. It's the "Slut-O-Meter"!! That's right! Just type in any search term or name and the Slut-O-Meter will calculate it's "dirt factor" in percent. The higher the percent, the sluttier the subject! My blog must be downright puritanical, as it registered a .47% ! Sub half-a-percent! My Karate Monkey scored a 16.54%, which is a fine figure for a dirt machine! Go on! Have some fun now at

4. From the "Foggy Memory Bank". I know I read somewhere that another company was planning a 29" wheeled bike for release that was going to be another one of those Karate Monkey clone, do-it-all bikes, but since the market is swamped already with that sort of thing......well, I promptly dismissed the thing! Oh well! If it crops up again, I'll try to remember to be a little more diligent. By the way, what's so wrong with a budget, steel, dedicated to gears 29" frameset anyway? Hmm......................

Okay, desk cleared now! Carry on!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Name Yer Poison.

I saw a post today on the Endurance forum of that was talking about the AZT 300. It's a bike/ hike through the deserts and high country of Arizona. Very tough, to be sure. The poster that got me to thinking was one that stated something to the effect that the choice between doing the AZT 300 or Trans Iowa was, perhaps, too obvious. (Based, apparently, on the scenery)

Well, if you don't already know, I help put on Trans Iowa. Promoter? Hmm......I prefer Resident Mad Scientist in charge of Course Design. Yeeeeaaaaah! Anyway............I'm not going to slag on the AZT 300, nor am I going to selfishly glorify T.I.V2. I'm just going to say these are two entirely different events! Pick yer poison. Either one is a tough challenge.

Scenery? Sonoran desert? Maybe this stuff trips your trigger. Hiking with your bike on your back in extreme dry heat. Taking a nap on a high mesa with scorpions for bunk buddies. Spending three to five days in the desert southwest. Alone. Hey, this is pretty crazy stuff. Kinda like Idita-bike in reverse!

Trans Iowa? Ride the entire less than 34 hours. No sleep- no hike-a-bike. (Well........maybe no hike-a-bike!) Could be really hot and humid, could be really cold and snowy, or it could be perfect. Farm roads, gravel, and mud. Cows staring at you. Kinda like an uncouth Paris-Roubaix.

So, you see, two entirely different types of challenges. I'm not sure you choose based on scenery. When I'm in the hurt locker, all I can see are pink elephants anyway.

On an entirely different note: Guess the date of birth for Tim Grahl's baby son and Blue Collar MTB will send you a $5.00 gift certificate to JensonUSA. It's all just for fun and you could get something you may be wanting just a little bit cheaper.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Simplified Or Just Lazy?

I was reading the last post by Matt Chester yesterday, and I was struck by several things. One of the main things that I took away from that, and always have anytime I read something from Matt, is the struggle to simplify. It's not easy! It seems that this life we live is an ant trap and we are constantly getting further in the hole the more we struggle to get out of it. Anyway, I could wax philosophical for paragraphs here, but I'll resist that temptation.

The bicycle related angle to all of this has to do with single speed bikes. Yeah.........I know! That's a philosophical ant trap in itself. I really do not want to go there. My angle is a little more practical and, well........more experiential than philosophical. Then again, maybe I'm just lazy!

You see, I grew up on one speed. I suppose alot of you did too. I never had a multi-speed drivetrain until I had a drivers license. (Things got complicated in a hurry!) I didn't get another single speeder until about three years ago. In the time inbetween, I had several derailluer equipped bikes, and many fine experiences. However, I always had that maintenance issue, and then the constant changes! You speed, then eight. Ah, that's fine! Whoops! Now my eight are obsolete? Wha?!!!.......... And the expense, the wear issues, the constant fine tuning. It wasn't like I couldn't do all of that. It was just all so complicated. Don't get me wrong. Gears are good, and I have plenty of derailluer equipped bikes. It's just that I always pull out that single speed to ride. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's just a whole lot less. Less to think about. That leaves space for some other stuff. Stuff that I enjoy.

I guess maybe it's got something to do with what Matt was trying to do when he shut down his blog the other day.


Calm down.

(Thanks for that influence, Matt.)

So, how about you? Single speed or gears? Doesn't make a difference as long as it's a bike? That's cool too. Me? I'm ridin' the ss today........................

..........................then again, maybe I'm just lazy!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Damage Control

Holidays are over. How many of you are in "damage control" mode now? You know.........too many holiday treats, like Jeff's recent binge on Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Or maybe you put down a few beers or other libations during the past couple of weeks. Whatever it was, usually now is the time that the regret/ reality sets in and you find yourself in the gym.

Now I do not go to a gym. I used to, though, and I can tell you that today, the gym population will alot! I also can tell you that the attrition rate is very high. So high, that by mid February, or possibly before, the gym population will have returned back to normal levels. The level of self scarifice exhibited here is humbling. I'm not worthy! Ha!

I saw a question on the Trans Iowa thread on wondering how many of the competitors were starting their training today. I'm guessing that all the answers will be B.S., as most of these people will be gearing up to psyche-out the other roster mates while they themselves will be in double secret training mode! Maybe something like, " Yeah, I had to take it easy during the holidays because we had to visit the in-laws in Walla Walla. Lots of rain there now, ya know, so no training for me! I'll probably start on the trainer tonight." Yeah right! That means that this guy probably has been doing core workouts for the last month, rations his food to the gram, and has at least three eight hour training rides in already. Wouldn't want to tip off the competition! You know.....say you're not training, and maybe they won't get too amped about it quite yet. That way, you'll have the upper hand, baby! (Hey, you can thank me for the tip at Hawarden in April)

Mr. 24 was out on his own gravel grinder yesterday. Looked like fun! Me? I had church band, so I was busy. Hey, I'll get my own rides in, not to worry. I usually ride by myself anyway. Most of the time, that's how it works out, and I'm okay with that. I don't think I've been on a "group ride" since 2003. I don't think I'd know how to act! Looks like it might be awhile before I get anything long in again. The weather looks to make a return to winter at weeks end.

Working on Trans Iowa course details now, anyway. There is alot to "clean up". I think we've got a meet-up with the Decorah people this month too. Things will start getting busier on that front now again. Four months away! I can't wait!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Do What "You" Do- Not What "They" Do

I saw a post on an online forum last night that reminded me of something that is a bit of a peeve to me. Have you ever done this? I'll admit, there was a time when I totally was into this! You know...........doing what the pros do! Setting up your bike just like your favorite offroader-du-jour. Wow! What a huge mistake! Yep, I did it too, can't deny that.

The big problem with setting up your rig just like a pro's bike is this; you do not ride like a "pro", you do not ride where a pro rides, and you are not sponsored! Okay, let me explain all of that!

1. Okay, if you were a "pro" rider; getting paid to ride, you'd be riding all the time. Yep! No time for drinking with your buddies, playing x-box, or checking out a little football action. No way! You are riding ALL the time! Hours and hours each day, honing your skills, fitness, riding style, and equipment to a knife edge so sharp that it will cut hardened steel. It's right for only you- you've invested all that time focusing all those things on your needs, not some "joe-schmoe" trail riders needs.

2. You probably ride some "rad" trails, okay. You might even see some "pro" out riding on your favorite loops. However, you do not ride "where" a pro rides! It makes sense two ways really. One: you do not push yourself into the bleeding eyeball, screaming nerve endings, barely in the realms of conciousness riding areas that most pros do when they compete. Nope, you do not ride "there"............and number two. Nor do you, most likely, rage the same "courses" that they do when they compete. Keep in mind, their rigs are specifically set up for that.

3. This last one should be easy for us all to grasp. Do you ever get replacements for parts you break for free, or complete race rigs for free, or all the riding togs you need.......for free? No? too. This is reflected in the way I choose my parts. Are they reliable? Are they strong? Are they within reason price-wise, so that my wife, kids, and bank account do not suffer adversely from my aquisition of said parts? Real world. Uh-huh.

That's why when I read or hear that someone or other is not going to do or ride such-and-such because "that's not what the pros do" I cringe. Hey, here's an idea! Figure out what works best for you. Yeah, yeah! I know, you will actually have to think about it, maybe even do some research. Experiment, try out some ideas, see if they work for you. Maybe your rig will end up looking un-like anbody elses rig, but that's okay if it works for you on your trails. If you do invest into your riding style, and the way you ride, you just might find out something. You might find out that riding your bike is fun. It's not a statement about how cool you are! It's not about how much you know. It's about fun, fitness, and the challenge.

Now, get rid of that goofy stretched out racer geek set up, drape yourself all comfy like on some sensible trail sled, and let's ride fools! 2006 awaits! Last one out eats my trail roost!