Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday News and Views

Shimano's new XTR designs make their "debut".
If you haven't seen it yet, here are the pictures of Shimanos new XTR least some of it.

This was grabbed from Litebikes site and is apparently a foreign publication, because I can't make out the language. At least the pictures are a little clearer than the Shimano release that's also shown, below.

Here is the "official" brochure we got at the shop yesterday. Our first reaction was, "Gee, it looks like SRAM!" Followed by, "That's the ugliest lever I've ever seen!" in regards to the Dual Control lever in the upper right of the picture.

My impressions beyond that are these: Shimano has stumbled a bit in the looks department before. Now with the re-design of XTR, they have tried to emulate the SRAM look and have failed miserably. The "X" motif is clunky, contrived, and, dare I say it, ugly. It is reported to be only 129 grams for the rear derailluer, though, so it's got that going for it! The Dual Control lever is absolutely hideous. The Rapid Fire pods com back and improved! Yea! The hydro lever can be purchased separately, double yea! The wheels lose the goofy spoking pattern, which was totally unnecessary for off road bikes. The XTR level spud better have killer bearings with awesome seals, or I don't see the point. It's for all intents and purposes the same design as the current high end SPD pedal. Not that the old design is bad, just that XTR usually meant far better, and lighter than the next step down.

Orbea Alma 29"er due at Sea Otter: The Orbea Alma 29"er is touted as one of the lightest, if not the lightest, 29"er frames to be made available for XC racing in a 29 inch format to date. Also, it's the first widely available carbon fiber 29"er frame. Although that's a bit of a misleading statement because, 1. It's not the "first" carbon fiber 29"er ever, ( Trimble, Calfee...) and 2. It isn't really available, since it's thought that the entire first production run has already been spoken for! Finally, it's only available in a size large, at least for the time being. Other sizes are rumored to be in the works. If the sell through on the first production run is any indication, I'm sure we will see further expansion of the lineup from Orbea. Interestingly, the European market is the motivation for Orbea to produce this frame in a 29 inch format. And here all we have heard is that the Europeans just do not care for 29"ers. Hmm.......

Cannondale 29"er in the works?: Our "Amish" Cannondale representative was at the shop I work at yesterday. (I say he's "Amish" because he said, "No pictures! They steal my soul!") I put forth my theory that the Lefty equipped, hardtail 29"er was already in testing to be realeased in the fall of '06. He didn't have any convincing arguments against that for me. In fact, he didn't really argue the "fact" at all. It's interesting to see that after all the reports of dealer reps canvassing the shops for theoretical 29"er sales figures, and the reports of different shop employess having seen "secret file folders" about a 29"er project that Cannondale is being so tight lipped about the whole affair. Seems almost like reverse psychology, doesn't it? It's as if they are being tight lipped to help fuel the fire of rumors, with the added stoking of the informal poll and "secret file" sightings. Hmm.............maybe I'll just stop talking about that C'dale 29"er then!

A bit more Trans Iowa Recon: I'm doing some "touch up" work on Trans Iowa course recon this weekend. I'm bringing the camera, so perhaps there will be a report filed this weekend some time! I'm taking a bike, so I can combine a little training in with it. Hopefully, tomorrow is as nice as they say it will be!

Have a great weekend! Ride hard!........err.......that didn't come out right! Have fun riding a bike this weekend! (That's better)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What's Your Motivation?

My wonderful wife, Phyllis asked me the other day, "Are you guys going to do this (Trans Iowa) next year? And you made me think. My first reaction was that I didn't know. Actually, I hadn't even thought about it, and said as much to her when she asked. I mean, we haven't even run Trans Iowa V2 yet, so thinking about doing it again hasn't crossed the radar screen for me........yet! She agreed, yes, it might depend upon how this one goes, so we'll wait and look at that later.

Well, I didn't wait too long to start thinking about it. Trans Iowa is one of those things in life that you don't do for the usual reasons. You know, like money, or fame. It's not one of those things you have to do, like a job or a moral obligation.So, why on earth would I do it? (I asked Paddy H. the same thing in his "Ted-terview") Well, I think I'm doing this one, in2006, for different reasons than I did it last year.

Last year, I did Trans Iowa (as in help put it on- not riding in it!) because Jeff had this hair-brained idea, and I jumped in, just to see what would happen. I'd never done anything like that, so I took it as a challenge and rolled with it. I was blind. I had no idea what to expect, or what to look for exactly. Now, this time, I'm a little wiser.......or maybe a little sicker........depending on your viewpoint!

This time, I challenged myself to do a better job. This meant that I had to take a good look at criticisms of last years event. I sought out advice from some of the experienced and well respected members of the endurance community. I adjusted. I put in more time. (I still am putting in time!) I tweaked everything that Jeff and I agreed to tweak. To that end, I feel like I'm meeting the challenge and am in a good posistion to overcome the challenges. We'll see how it goes at the end of April. Anyway, that's one of the reasons I'm doing this again this year, but it's not "the" reason.

No, what it boils down to is two things, really. First, it's about cycling. I wouldn't even get involved if it wasn't about riding a bike- even if I do not get to ride one in T.I. I love to see others playing out their passion for cycling, too. That's gratifying for me. Secondly, and most importantly, it's about the people.

Paddy H. spoke about this in the piece we did together. It's all about people and what relationships you build. It's about the stories, the lessons, and the inspiration you recieve and give away during the process. I know for a fact that there wouldn't be a Trans Iowa if it wern't for my relationship and respect for Jeff Kerkove. Trans Iowa wouldn't be as good as it is if it wern't for the invaluable assistance and advice we recieved from Mike Curiak in developing our idea. It really would have sucked without all of the help we recieved from the fine folks in Hawarden and Decorah. I got to meet a ton of really interesting and inspiring people through this event. I cherish that. That's why I am involved in Trans Iowa.

Of course, Trans Iowa will end some day, just like it started. Nothing like that lasts forever. Maybe it'll be this year. I don't know. I just know that I'm glad I got to do it from the standpoint of dividends that I reaped from the people involved. That's what makes it worth it. That's what could make it not worth it, as well. It's about the people. If the experience with the people goes south, then the effort won't be worth the trouble.

So, will I be doing this again next year?

....................we'll just have to see about that come about May of this year!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spring Ahead

This is the time of the year when things change and change fast! It was just last week that I was still dealing with winter hours at my job at the bike shop, getting off early in the afternoon and going in late in the morning. Yesterday, I pulled my first nine hour shift of the season. It was just a week or so ago that Mr. 24 was still out there training and shooting video on his new digi-cam, and now he is telling stories of his first event! The nut has turned. This coming weekend, daylight savings time starts here for us. Evenings will have more light. Roadies will take to the county roads for the traditional Tuesday and Thursday night training rides. Off we go again! Busy as bees with no time to get things done like we want.

Part of the wake up call for Jeff, Carl, and I is the shop's annual spring sale which starts today. Crazy! Repairs start coming in. People start getting tense. People taking in jobs get too "promise happy", and cause me grief. Work speeds up a, make that three notches! Did I mention that people start getting tense?

On a much more fun note: I took delivery of my On One Inbred 29"er fork yesterday. Wahoo! Now I can start getting more of that bike assembled. Brake order is going in today, (The rather pedestrian but effective Avid BB-7 discs) along with an order for compressionless housings. Still up in the air about handlebars as some of the ones I'm interested in are on back order or out of stock. Drat! At any rate, I'll be getting some build progress pictures up soon! ( Anybody out there got any Jones H-Bars they want to part with, by chance?)

Something that I'm interested in finding out about is how crank length is going to affect my single speeding capabilities on my 29"ers. Here are the specifics. First, I currently am running 177.5mm Cooks cranks with a 37 X 20 ratio on Bontrager 2.2 X29" tires. I am going to be running 180mm cranks on the Inbred. I also have 170mm cranks that I can swap out to for another comparison. Here's what I'm thinking of doing. I could quite easily set up the three cranksets with the same size rings, use the same freewheel out back, and the same wheelset. I then could use the different cranks on a training route, and possibly guage the difference in effort, and see how my legs and body get along with the differing crank lengths. Sound crazy? I'm thinking this might be fun, so let me know if that's an interesting thing or not.

That's today's post for ya! I hope it's spring already where you are and that your out riding more. Enjoy it while you can!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Ted-terview": Patrick Humenny Part II

Today's post is the completion of the Patrick Humenny inteview. I hope you all enjoy this, and I want to thank Paddy for being so gracious to me in participating in this. On to the text.......

G-Ted: While we're on the subject of money, some noise was made last year about entry fees for some of the larger 24 hour venues. Do you see a problem there? Should racers quit whining about this? Or, should promoters cut back on the "extras" to get entry fees down?

Paddy: Ya, I definitely agree that there are certain race organizers out there that are just out there to make a buck, ( give or take a few thou'). I think it could be a problem if it wern't for the fact that there is so many other options out there for 24 hour races....And other endurance events are put on by other organizers. Keep in mind, from what I've seen, categorically speaking, it's the solo racers that are getting the raw deal by certain 24 hour race series companies, ( rhymes with gremalin?). If you went and polled the relay crowd, you might get a different opinion. In the end, it comes down to choice. If the entry fee is too expensive, look elsewhere, it is shitty that guys are trying to monopolize the 24 hour solo racing scene, maybe that's where a "governing body" could come along and make it a fair playing field.... That's another can o' worms though.......

G-Ted: World's, endurance series, and National Championships. Does any of this make sense, or even matter? Is it a good doirection to go in for the sport of endurance racing, or is it a bad thing?

Paddy: Yes and no. I think some form of organization is a great thing for endurance cycling. That doesn't mean that every person that puts on a race has to be affiliated with some governing body. But the growth of endurance racing is at the point where if you wanna call your race the "World Championships", you just have to be the first guy out of the box to do so. It seems like a bit of a "gong show" really.... It seems that, especially in the solo racer camp, it's a bit of a mixed bag, but I think racers are wanting something different, some structure..... Or someone else to host "World's"?.... It's a loaded question, may be getting a loaded answer.... I raced "world's" two years ago, thinking it was the "cat's ass", fairly ignorant to the "politics" surrounding whether or not it was "World's". I guess in a way, I believe until some rider comes along, dethrowns Chris Eatough, with the success he has had in 24 hour solo racing, it's hard not to say that he's the best solo 24 hour racer out there. I think U.S. Nationals at 9 Mile should prove to be the big test of the solo 24 hour talent out there, ( especially in the U.S.) this year. Of course, it may also prove that you don't have to host the "world Championships" to get the best talent going head-to-head.... Perhaps Moab will be the same way.... We'll just have to see who shows up I guess. I wonder how Chris would do riding across Iowa, Kansas, or Nebraska....sans support, on the other side of that, I wonder how I'd do ina a race with full team support. If you want to make a dent in 24 hour solo racing, it's as important (more so, some might say) than your training. I am in no way comparing myself to him, simply letting my mind wander. I'll run for cover now!

G-Ted: Being a Canadian Resident, your training and racing schedules are a bit different. Do you ever have an "off season", or do you go from endurance racing to cycle cross to cross country skiing and back again every year? It seems that while you had your blog, we could see that you were rather busy!

Paddy: I'm not sure if that's because I live in Canada, maybe more because of the climate here in Manitoba, which is much like Minnesota and Wisconsin. The last few years, I've gone from XC races and endurance stuff in the spring and summer, to cyclo-cross in the fall, then to XC ski marathons in the winter months, and back again. I've also been injured more. Broke some ribs last February, messed up my L-5 vetebrae in June, a little carpel tunnel/ tendonitis post T.I.V1, a really messed up swollen knee that I had drained a few times from a bad crash in August, some ill timed food poisoning, blah, blah, blah.... Those injuries over the last yer have definitely made me re-think how much I can handle doing. This last winter, I definitely scaled back on how much skiing I did, as I only did two short races. I guess you could call that an off season.... Getting ready for the coming bike racing season had a bit to do with it..... Hard to say though. I don't feel that I'm at a level where I need to take a couple weeks off or whatever, because I don't put in silly/ crazy hours per week on the bike. If I'm sick, I rest. If I'm injured, I get bitchy....

This time last year, I was just getting back into any type of "shape" after breaking my ribs in February. Bike racing is what I enjoy the most. Classic skiing has more become cross training to keep my heart thumpin' in the winter, as has running, ( more for my dogs sake though) and downhill skiing too, I guess. It sucks, but it's hard being a grown up and not be able to play every day. I'll keep trying though. I guess riding my stationary trainer more lately makes the cycling side of my life seem more serious....specificity training, maybe..... I'm just glad the temps are closer to 0 degrees Celcius these days, nothing beats riding outside with snowbanks still taller than me......and my toes will thaw out, eventually.....I hope.

G-Ted: Speaking of the blog, you have been on, then off, then on, and now off again with that. Is it a distraction for you? Is there any value in the blog culture from an endurance racing standpoint? Maybe we should all just shut up and ride!

Paddy: Ya, computers are dangerous things, at least for me. They're time suckers. You can waste so much time on nothing but trash, and that's even without all the nud-ee stuff! I'd really like to get rid of my computer, but it's pretty hard to register for races these days without one. I think most of the blogs out there are cool, and there is value to them, that is, if you are honest about what you have to say. It really bugs me when I read a blog and I feel that I've just read an advertisement....or bullshit....or both. If you think a product is cool, great. Just quit trying to stuff it down my throat... There was times where I got sucked into that a bit, too. That bothered I killed mine, a couple times, this time for good. Sorry Mom. Plus, actions speak louder than words seven days a week, and I have some mid-pack results to get!

G-Ted: Any words of sage advice for the endurance racing freaks out there? Beer or Ale? Stout or Mead? Vikings or Ninjas?

Paddy: Sage advice?? Nothing Zen comes to mind.....I guess, stay healthy, try to kep it fun.... Egos aren't cool, and remember, there's always someone faster than you, ( just noticed Dallas touched on this on mtbr)unless you're on the sauce......and I don't mean warm Guinness.....Mmmmm......widgets.

Again, Thanks Paddy! I hope everyone enjoys that! There will be more "Ted-terviews" coming in the future, so look for those soon!

Monday, March 27, 2006

"Ted-terview": Patrick Humenny

I first met "Paddy", as he is called, at Trans Iowa in '05. Actually, I first heard of him when I saw his name on the roster and thought, "Why would a guy drive all the way from Canada to do this first time race?" So, I was intrigued right at the start. Then, Mike Curiak comes up to me at the Algona checkpoint last year and said something to me about a crazy man running a 44 X 16 singlespeed and did I know him. Add to that the fact that he was one of the nine finishers out of 51 at last years Trans Iowa, and I just had to get this guy interviewed. Well, the time is right, as they say, so without further adieu, lets dive in, shall we?

G-Ted: I know you've been in competitive skiing events along with endurance biking. How did you get into all of this? Give us some backround here!

Paddy: I've been racing bikes, ( XC, CX, a bit of road) for about 8 or 9 years. (Started in Sport, moved up to Expert/Comp and Elite when I was racing gears). Been into bikes since I could ride 'em. I'm 29 now, almost 30, dammit. The last 4 or 5 years I've been getting more and more into the longer endurance stuff, point to point enduros, 12/24 hour races, that kind of silliness. The first "endurance type" race I did was an 18 hour bike race at Roseisle back in July of 2001, (The Pan Am mtb race was there) put on by a fairly renowned adventure racer named Kurt Gibson. I remember racing the first 4-5 hours of it like it was a two hour race. I blew up hard, felt sorry for myself at my pit for about 3 or 4 hours, ate a couple of cold Whoppers and some Cokes, talked myself back on my bike, and ended up third out of a dozen guys. That race kinda was the start of it from a bike racing standpoint. I won it the next year. I've gradually tried to concentrate more on the long stuff, even organized a pretty sucessful, low key 24 hour race for a few years a while back. The ski racing part started about a year after my wife got really serious into XC ski racing. Naomi has been racing bikes almost as long as I have. She tinkered with the solo stuff, as well, but got more serious into XC ski racing five years ago. I figured she shouldn't have all the fun racing 50k's around the Mid-West. Plus, it looked like an easy way to get my ass handed to me by 60 year old Wisconsin grannies on wooden skis.

G-Ted: How did you develop your training regimen? Was it by your own design, or did you follow a certain philosophy? Nutrition strategy? Rides to nowhere? Is any of your training specialized towards riding fixed gear/ single speed?

Paddy: I don't really have a training regimen. Check my race results if you don't believe me! I've read a few books on how to eat right, train right to "peak" for events..... Maybe I haven't stuck with certain programs long enough to see if they work, maybe due to a short attention span thing, maybe I'm too stubborn, I don't know. I've talked about getting a coach, consulted with a few....... I seem to have a hard time having someone tell me what, in general, I already know I need to do....... I guess a coach would help with motivation, that said, I have my wife for that. But my thinking is, if you really wanna do well in a race, go out on a ride, do intervals, put in the time, eat, drink, and rest, and roll with it. I'm not a pro, it's a past time for me. I have a wife, a mortage, a full time job, all that stuff. Too much structure and it isn't fun anymore. You could say all my riding/ training is geared towards fixies and 1 X 1's as that's pretty much the only type of bikes I own and ride. So, my riding style and equipment is geared more that way. I do have a full squish, geared bike, but it's pretty dusty......haven't ridden it in a while.

G-Ted:I know you work in a shop. How do you balance your work during the busy times with your training needs?

Paddy: Ya, great. Just what everyone wants to hear. GTed's interviewing another bike shop lackey, ha ha! Yeah, I'm the manager at Olympia Cycle and Ski, and have been working there for five years now. The beauty of my posistion there is that I make the schedule, so I can take off whenever. .......I wish that was true. Seriously, it can be tricky with any job. ( I work 40-50 hours per week) The fun part with where I work is that we ( staff of 15 of which 6 are full time) all ride alot. Most of us race at some level, so we are always fueling each other talking about rides, races, all that fun stuff. Some days I'd love to just close shop and ride.......O.K., that's every day really. But ya, it definitely can be a bit of a juggling act, balancing work, a happy marriage, riding, and four furry "kids". Though my wife, Naomi, rides/ races too, our two dogs come with us on trail rides and our two cats could take us or leave us!

G-Ted: What is it about events you enter that attracts you to them? Severe suffering, scenic views, or is it something intangible? Why on earth would you do Trans Iowa, for instance?

Paddy: Whoa, now the hard questions start. I think what attracts me to the longish events I seem to be doing lately has alot to do with the crazy folks you meet doing them, and the stories and experiences you learn from them. Most having been positive. Like I said before, this is my past time, I'm not trying to go "pro", chasing a contract or trying to please sponsors. I just really like to ride and race my bikes, as fast as I can. Endurance races just seem to fit the bill for me. Trans Iowa is one of those races I'll enjoy doing as long as it exists.

G-Ted: Is the higher cost of fuel going to force you to cut back or make different plans in your schedule for the year?

Paddy: Cost of travel (gas), gear, Life, definitely has affected the races I've gone to in the past and will in the future as well. My truck isn't the thirstiest vehicle on the road, but it's not a TDI either. That said, there seems to be growth in endurance racing in that there is more and more "grass roots"/ "not for (much) profit" races popping up everywhere, especially in the Mid West. I'd say the hardest part for me is not so much what races can I afford to drive to, from a money standpoint, as I think you can do some pretty epic events pretty frugally these days, but how many races my life and my body will allow me to do between April and November. That seems to be my reality, and I'm sure this holds true with 99% of bike racers out there. I'll do what I can and enjoy every minute of least in hindsight!

That's the first half of the interview. I'll post the second half up for tomorrow! Look for it then!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday Morning Edition

A quick little post for your Sunday morning..............

Jeff Kerkove Races the Quachita Challenge Today! He should do quite well, as he is looking rather fit lately. Here's to Jeff having an excellent race! Look for a race report from him come Monday afternoon when he is expected to arrive home.

"Ted-terview" of Patrick Humenny: I have recieved the text of the Paddy H. interview, and let me say's gonna be good! Look for it to be posted on Monday morning!

That's it for this morning! I have a training ride scheduled for this afternoon, so maybe I'll post something from that if there is anything of note to post. Have a great Sunday, ya'all!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturday Bits and Pieces

Saturday is a lazy day at Guitar Ted Labratories. It's the only day of the week that I allow myself to sleep in, much as one can sleep in with two children! (Parents will understand that!) I also allocate Saturday mornings as family time, so not much excitement in the way of cycling around here today. Here's what I've got for you in no particular order.....

"Ted-terview" with Patrick Humenny: I sent in some e-mail questions to Paddy and he's written me back that he will co-operate with me on an interview. Look for that coming up sometime soon! I'm looking forward to seeing what he has to say from his Canadian perspective.

Sea Otter Surprise! I was contacted by a manufacturer popular with the 29"er crowds out there about doing a piece on a new product introduction that they are unveiling at the vendor show at Sea Otter in a couple of weeks. Look for more details coming soon!

More Inbred Build Progress: Last week I posted up the hoops and soon I should have the fork here to install. The brakes are going to be ordered soon along with the handlebar. I should be riding it soon, but maybe not quite by the end of the month, as I had hoped to. Oh well! Look for pictoral documentation to be posted soon!

Speaking Of On One...... Brant, the corporate head honch of On One is cooking up some more madness. They don't even have thier carbon 29"er fork or the new ScandAl frame out yet and they are playing around with something new already. Brant let it slip on today that the company that produces the ScandAl frame is tacking together a carbon and aluminum composite frame for consideration. It sounds like a Six13 kind of a frame, with the top tube, downtube, and seat tube in carbon joined by aluminum bits with an aluminum triangle rear end. Complete madness!

And Speaking Of Complete Madness...... Brant also has indicated that he might make a podcast entry from the U.S.A. available on their U.K. based podcast. Details are sketchy right now, but that might be linked to this site........somehow...........maybe!

Have a great weekend of riding! Spring is springing here!

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Component Makers Reformation?

The leaks about Shimano's new designs for the XTR group are getting bigger. It would appear that the component giant has turned a new leaf philosophically when it comes to choice. It's a bit ironic that Shimano also used XTR back in the nineties to make a statement, albeit a totally different one.

Back then, the cottage industry CNC parts manufacturers were busy replicating every part of the drivetrain imaginable in brilliant annodized colors. This was in contrast to the then top of the line XT parts group which in comparison, looked like a Quaker at a Grateful Dead concert. Sturdy and durable, but not much fun. Lots of business was being lost to the proprietors of these billet aluminium companies. Even though the parts often were no where near as functional as Shimano's mid level groups and were being sold for often times twice the price of XT stuff. In steps Shimano with the elegant, light, durable, and high functioning XTR group. (In my opinion, still the best looking crankset Shimano has ever executed!) Well, the end was near for the CNC parts slingers!

Fast forward to today. Several parts manufacturers again have stepped up to challenge the supremacy of the component giant. The difference being that this time the engineering, research and developement, and manufacturing techniques used are on par with, and in some cases better than Shimanos. This time original equipment spec is being lost by the bucketload to these challengers. Shimano tried to re-invent the shift lever, and other component pieces to a very lukewarm reception by the public. The other companies parts also allowed freedom of choice, where Shimano required a set of parts be used in concert with each other, disregarding rider preferences. Other companies were using the wonder material of the day- carbon fiber- quite liberally. Shimano once again looked boring in comparison.

Now they are promising more options, more choices. Now they are playing catch-up instead of upping the ante, like they did in the nineties. The competition of today is not inept, as it was once. Shimano is making a statement with this new XTR. I'm thinking it's not going to be seen as a very authoritative staement, like the first generation of XTR, but rather more like a conciliatory one. Is this a more humble, more consumer friendly Shimano? Time will tell.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I'm a Cyclist, Not a Marketing Trend!

I may have mentioned this before, but I am a contributor on The Biking Hub, a website dedicated to the mountain biker who is looking for information. Reviews, tech tips, and other types of stories that might interest a mountain biker can be found there. Anyway, you might enjoy poking around there a bit. The point that I wanted to make concerning that was about an article that I just did for them. In the comments section, someone made a slightly sarcastic remark regarding 29"ers as a waste of bandwidth for the site. The thought being that the 29"er was nothing but "cyclings next big thing." I guess he thought that 29"ers would be a passing fad except for the cycling industries efforts to create a new marketable trend. He couldn't be more wrong!

As it has been documented on this blog several times before, you may know that the exact opposite is true. While I'm not going to deny that the cycling industry is looking for the next big thing, they certainly don't have the marketing dollars to create a trend. The cycling industry is quick to jump onboard with a fast developing trend as evidenced by the now fading chopper bike mania. Of course, there was "The Lance Effect", which was certainly exploited. Now Lance is retired and marketing folks just might be looking for the next train to come along. The thing is, these cycling companies can certainly help a trend along, but they do not create them.

Then there is history, which alot of folks seem to forget. Remember free riding? Yeah. That was supposed to be a fad. Now it's not only alive and well,( currently masquerading around the globe as "all-mountain riding"), but it also helped spawn downhilling, and hucking as recreational sports. Take single speeding. Wasn't that supposed to be a fast fading trend? People were supposed to get tired of that and come back to geared bikes once they found out how tough single speeds were to ride off road. Riiiggghhht! Single speeding is alive and well, and not only that, but there is a larger community of fixed gear off roaders growing off that trend as well.

Of course, you are welcome to dismiss any and all of these trends as silly and not worthy of coverage in the media. It doesn't mean that it is not valid to others, though. This is what amazes me the most. Cycling is good. It's good for you physically. It's good for you mentally. It's good for the environment. Why is it that we spend so much time picking on, disrespecting, and out right fighting with other cyclists? If you ride a beat up fixed gear or a multi billion dollar all mountain, drop down, dead sexy sled, the bottom line's a bike! Have fun on whatever one you choose!

So, let the cycling industry, the media, and the web-trolls go on with their agendas. Bottom line for me is I'm a cyclist. Ride and Smile! (with a nod to Salsa Cycles!) Get out and ride whatever two wheeled contraption that makes you smile today! It'll be good for you and for me!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New Series Forms

100 Mile Races To Join Forces

The report coming from this morning might be a surprise for some. I think it's an inevitable result of the rising popularity of ultra-endurance events across this nation, and the world. It is an ambitious endeavor, none the less, with events taking place in the East and in the Rocky Mountains. Competitors that are willing to join in the fray would have to ante up alot of cash and time off to get a chance to be a top placer in the standings. Especially with the format that the promoters are using, which is based on points given for your time behind the winner of your class. Fewer points mean a higher standing in the overall series. Tough to do if you can't make a race or two. Does this mean it's really only for the elite, sponsored, full time ultra endurance athlete? Sounds that way to me.

Australians to run a "solo only" 24hr event.

Australians have their own rules for football, so why not for 24 hour races too? The solo only field idea is pretty cool. Add to that the fact that you must be out on course at the 24 hour mark to be tabulated as a finisher and I think you've got a pretty cool format. Not that you couldn't wait awhile and then run out there for a last lap, but at least the winner wouldn't be sleeping in his tent at the finish! Check it out also on scroll down a bit!

And in the world of 29"ers........

Trans Iowa V2 sponsor Badger Cycles owner Rob Pennel has a pretty cool "sketch" for a different frame going on. The discussion can be found here on Check it out! If you are the lucky winner of a custom Badger Cycles frame at Trans Iowa this year you might be able to persuade Rob to tackle one of these for you, with a couple extra bucks thrown in! That sort of frame will definitely cost you more, even if you win a free frame, since the prize is for one of Badger Cycles standard frame designs, but hey! You could always ask! Heh heh!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

29"er Racing News

JHK To Race a 29"er?

It appears that a 29"er may get raced by a top NORBA pro this year. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski of the Subaru/ Gary Fisher mountain bike team is playing around with a hardtail 29"er. It appears that he is trying to determine which courses that he and the 29"er format will be best suited for. As it stands now, it sounds as if it will actually be ridden at some venues this season. The team has also been testing the 26 inch version of the Race Day bike. The 29"er version of the "RD" (As it's being called these days) has yet to be delivered to JHK and the team. Reading the reports, it sounds as if they have high expectations for the 29" version.

This is good to see, and frankly, long overdue for the Fisher squad. Being that they have had a 29"er program for several years now, I find it a bit odd that it took so long for them to get someone on the team onboard with the concept. As far as JHK's take on the big wheels, it follows right along with what I've always said. Horses for courses. Some venues are going to favor 29"ers and some not. Well, at least for racing purposes!

Mike Curiak Drops Out of T.I.V2

I was checking the endurance forum on and I saw the post. Bummer! I was really looking forward to seeing Mike again. Not because of anything that he could "do for our event", but just because I respect him and I find him to be a very interesting and likeable guy. I'm not aware of the reason that he is not going to make our humble little event, but I hope everything is okay. I'm sure he is completely innundated with things that need his attention what with putting on the Kokopelli Trail Race, the Grand Loop, and whatever else is going on with his business, private life, etc.... I know that he wrestled with the decision to even enter this years T.I.V2 due to it's proximity to the KTR. Good Luck Mike, in whatever you do!

That's my news and views today for you all. Still trying to track down another good interview. Keep it tuned here for your 29"er and endurance news, plus whatever other itches I've gotta scratch!

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's Official

Today is the day. Spring starts here at around 12:30pm CST. Whoopee! It sure doesn't seem to be in a hurry to come in reality. The hundreds of springtime robins are standing around seeming to be waiting for spring to get started. Cold, windy, wet, and generally unpleasant conditions abound with a few sunny days thrown in for good measure. And the snow! South and west of us they are getting pummeled! Especially Kansas and Nebraska. I guess it could be worse here. O.K..........shutting up now!

It's also officially bike season in Iowa. This means that my hours at the shop will increase. Yippee! It also means that I will start getting questions about RAGBRAI again. I had a look at the route this weekend. One word........hilly! If it's a typically hot and humid summer, this ride is going to hurt people! They were trumpeting the fact that for the second year in a row there would be no gravel sections. That's okay, we got ya covered there, buddy! Last week, I attended a funeral for a very cool guy. He was a cyclist. A really good one too. Anyway.......the pastor mentioned this in his sermon and said that ,"...he really enjoyed going on that RAGBRAI race every year"! Crazy! A race! Riiiigggghhht! Unfortunately, lots of folks actually believe that.

Speaking of racing, it's officially that season in Iowa now too. Lots of events coming up. The one that Mr.24 is concerned about now isn't in this state, but down south o here a bit. Looks to be a challenging task! For me, all I'm concerned about is this one, although I might get into something shorter as a tune up.'s all dependant upon the time available. We'll see!

Now, this post is officially over! Get offa this screen and back to work, ya lazy!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Wheel Bling For The Inbred

Here is a sneak peak at the wheels that I built that are going on the Inbred 29"er. Purple Surly hubs, green Salsa skewers, purple, green, and gold alloy nipples, and Salsa Delgado Disc rims. Yummy!
Here is a close up of the rim and some of the alloy nips.

I should be getting some sort of fork for this build in a couple weeks. I'm still up in the air right now as to what it's going to be. I can get a Karate Momnkey fork any day for this, but I'm holding out for the Inbred steel or carbon fork. We'll see!

Did some hill repeats and sprints on the Karate Monkey single speed yesterday. I about got sick! Light headed and nauseous. Ouch! Must have been close to seeing the pink elephants again. You know you've gone hard when you see those guys!

Have a great weekend, ya'all!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Mr. 24's New Fashion Tip....For the Bike

It's fun to see new bikes going together at the shop! Here's a before and after of Jeff"s new Rush after he modified the reflective stickers.

Pretty cool, huh? I think it's a simple but very effective way to get the Cat Eye Team bikes differentiated from the masses. Problem is, Jeff has probably started a trend here! I look for this to become a new fad amongst not only Rush owners, but endurance freaks worldwide.

Besides, what says "I'm a Redneck" more than reflective tape and a mesh truckers cap? Now all Mr.24 and Buchanandale need are mesh trucker caps that say "Feel it!" on them! Awesome!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday News and Views: St. Patricks Day

Yesterdays post, Picking at Scabs, has drawn quite a few comments. I suspect that this is going to be a hot button subject for awhile to come. (No thanks in part to !) At any rate, there are other things to talk about and, ( believe it or not) rides to be done!

29" tire promises. Pipedreams? It seems that about every month I hear a rumor about some new 29" tire coming down the pipeline. Then months go by............hmmm....... No tires! So, forgive me if I seem a bit cynical. The latest rumors have it that Maxxis is coming out with two new treads. One based on the Advantage tread, and the other on the Cross Mark tread design. Panaracer is said to be in developement of a 2.3 inch wide "Rampage" treaded tire, which is supposed to be an all new, aggressive tire for both 26 and 29 inch tires. Kenda is said to be coming out with a Nevegal in a 29 inch size, although it's now reported that it will not be in the previously rumored size of 2.3, but something skinnier. (Dumb idea!) Time of delivery? Riiiggghhhtt! We'll let that go for now. When they are actually in shops for sale, I'll be excited then!

Small companies "weeding up" the market place: I find just about as many small start up 29" frame builders or sellers as I do tire rumors! Volcano, Mr. Bigg, and several from the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. It's crazy! Mountain Goat Route 29's are just days away from being out on the trail. Niner is still pumping out new models, with their "Zen" full suspension model on the way. The thing that this reminds me of is the late 80's/ early nineties "cottage industry" mtb companies. Remember all those old bikes? Will the same thing happen all over again with 29"ers? Could be. Once some of the other major companies like Specialized, or Giant decide to jump on this, it just might be deja vu for all of us! Hmm.......still missing all the purple anno!

New bikes, more training rides! I work at a shop where everyone is a Cannondale freak......except me. Not that I do not like them, I do! I just can't get my freak on for a company that doesn't do 29"ers. Maybe some day........? Anyway, the new rigs hitting the door at the shop for Kerkove and Buchanandale are pretty sweet. Of course that means that training rides and events are imminent. We are all itching to start logging miles on our new bikes!

Speaking of training...... If you are thinking, "I'd like to try a solo ultra endurance or 24hr race", then you need to check out Dave Harris' blogsite. He's got some great tips on what to do to prepare for your first event. What to expect from your training, all the way to the LeMans run, and what to do if you start seeing pink elephants! (I made that last part up!) Anyway, check it out, the info is found in a clickable heading in a sidebar on the left side of his blogpage under "Post Categories"

That's it for now! Have a great weekend, and get out and ride! (yes, that means you paddy and Dallas!)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Picking At Scabs

Well, they are at it again! Just when you think it's going to die down and go away, up it pops again! The debate on wheelsize just won't go away. I say it's a fruitless pursuit. I've listed my reasonings before, but here they are again. I'll try to be brief!

1. Testing procedures will require a high degree of accuracy to be acceptable. Can you say "money"? People seem to desire that this question be resolved by scientific method. How is it that journalists can be regarded as scientists, or trusted to be impartial. We are talking about cycling journos here. Cyclists have to be some of the most passionate people I know!

2. It fails to be realized that it's more than just 29" wheels. It's a specific geometry. It's a standard for suspension forks that hasn't even been worked out yet. It's about a different skill set required to ride 29"er bikes. These things have to be factored in to get good results.

3. The Human Factor. There are going to be as many possible results as there are humans for any particular set of test bikes. Think about it. Is someone going to win the Tour de France because they are riding a Trek Madone this year? How do you get a human pool of 29"er test pilots large enough to obtain a representative sample?

4. Do I even need a scientific study? I already know how 26 inch wheels work for me. I've ridden them for fouteen years off road exclusively. I have ridden 29 inch wheels for three years exclusively. I can already say without reservation that the 29"er does so many things better with me onboard that I don't want to go back to 26 inch wheels. Is a scientific study going to negate that? Not!

There are some things that readily come to mind, but there are more. Let's just leave it at that. In conclusion, I say let them test away! It'll be fine entertainment, even if it is inconclusive, which it's bound to be.

Meanwhile, I'll be out riding my 29"er if ya need me. Ride what makes you smile!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What's In A Name?

By now many of you endurance freaks have seen the long awaited announcement of "Worlds". The 24hrs of Adrenaline has for years run a "world championship" solo compitition at Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Now, the announcement says that it will be held at the former location for the Olympic mountain bike race at Conyers, Georgia. Not only that, but it will fall within a week of one of the most popular 24 hour events, the 24hrs of Moab.

Besides the obvious conflict, besides the unfortunate circumstances, and putting aside the constant bickerings between the two organizations that put on "Worlds" and the 24hrs of Moab, what's in a name anyway? I mean........worlds? C'mon! Are you kidding me? Chris Eatough has won a spectacularly tough 24hr race in Canada for several years in a row now, but is he a World Champion? Is he recognized as such by his peers? Hmm.........I think that in the "world" of British Columbia in the fall the answer is yes.

To say that anyone that wins a single race that is not supported by a world wide recognized and respected sanctioning body (there's that word again!) is a "world champion" is just empty and devoid of meaning. At least in the traditional sense of world championship events. To say that somebody won a really tough and demanding 24hr race that is highly popular amongst their peers.........a "feather in their cap" so to speak: I'll buy that. But it's certainly not a crown.

Then add to the mix this years scenario where you probably will not have a representative field of the very best that 24hr solo racing has to offer because some of them will be at Worlds West and some of them will be at Worlds East. Well.........there you go! You could have the winner of each square off at another event for a knock down, drag out, World Championship, 24hr match race! How cool would that be! Then, instead of the winner getting a tatoo like they do at the Single Speed World Championship, the winner could tatoo the loser! Ha!

Sound preposterous? No more so than some promoter calling his event a "World Championship"!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cycling Goes Electric?

In the never ending battle to have the next great thing, I am sure you are aware by now that Shimano is teasing it's electric road gruppo. Specifically the brifters, front and rear derailluers, and the battery pack that runs it all. The recently run Paris-Nice race featured the parts being used by a Gerolstiener rider by the name of Ronny Scholz. Apparently, he was rather pleased with it's performance over a multi day Pro Tour stage race. Well, I can't say that I'm as pleased as Ronny. Maybe I am out on a limb here, but I do not like the idea. Nope! Not at all.

While you are castigating me as a retro-grouch, tech-hater of the worst kind, let me say that I believe that this shift by wire technology is pretty facinating. I mean, look at all the engineering obstacles to deal with in getting something like this to work. The gear head in me sees this as pretty cool. It's the spirit of cycling side of this in me that's in mourning.

I remember when I used to be really into fishing. I was getting into the rods, reels, tackle, and all the knowledge of how to use this stuff. Then I found out about fish finders. They were crude, unreliable units back then. Now, they practically do everything but put the fish on the hook for you. Then there were those fishing shows. Yeah, you know.......the ones where they caught a fish every time? Yeah.....scuba divers! Yep! They scout out the area with scuba divers to ensure that they get a fish every time. Took the passion for fishing right out of me.

Sooooo.......what's this got to do with cycling, you ask? Well, I'm afraid that this electronic revolution in shifting is going to take the life out of cycling, too. Mr. Scholz was heard to say that he liked the electronic shifting because he never missed a shift due to pilot error. When you are tired, and fatigued, the system takes that human factor out of the equation. you see what I don't like? Where does it end? Couldn't the derailluers be controlled by reading information from a riders heart rate and power output? Couldn't the system then shift to the best gear for that particular riders cadence, power output, and desired speed without the rider initiating anything? Adding to this the virtual coaching that every pro rider is getting in his ear via radio and what do we have? Who is winning the race? The rider or technology?

I think it's fair to say that the much maligned UCI had it right when they put a lid on cycling technology in the late nineties. Why? Especially now, because it is rapidly becoming like F-1 racing in that who ever has the most money for the best research and developement will have the best team. Who is going to be able to afford to purchase this new, shiny techno-gear? Hey....wait a minute! Maybe that's the answer! It'll be sooo expensive, and sooo exclusive that only a small handfull of people will really care and the rest of us can be fast, dumb, and happy with our shift by cable derailluers. Heck, I don't know!

I just know that something smells fishy here!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Better With Age

Like a fine wine, it gets better with age, right? That's the way alot of endurance racers I've spoken with seem to think. It seems to be correct, especially when you take a look at someone like Tinker Jaurez, who seems to keep going on and on like the Energizer Bunny.

If this really is the case, for whatever reason, should there be age classes at solo endurance events? I've seen this question come up from time to time. Actually, alot of questions regarding the solo field are starting to crop up. There is the money question. You know.......should solo racers pay less and get more because they do it solo? That's a thorny question that has alot of debate going on, as well. For today, let's stick to the age issue!

My take is this: If there were to be age classes in solo endurance events, what would constitute a viable field? You know, alot of these events draw smaller amounts of solo racers, and most of them are going to be in the 25-35 year old age group. That's going to cause all sorts of weirdness in regards to competition. I mean, what if Tinker shows up? Who is likely to be in his age group? You start to see where there would have to be a pro group and an amatuer group, so you would get the sort of competition at an event that would draw interest, from a promoters standpoint. Then there is the money issue, which is going to suffer because of the amount of places a promoter would have to pay out would triple, at least. Then you open the door for a sanctioning body to oversee it all and.........well, the end would be near!

I think that you either leave it free and open to all age groups, or you lead yourself down a path of confusing rules and complicated situations all in an effort to be fair. Obviously, I would leave things as they are. What say you? Age groups, or no? It's a question that needs answering. The shape of endurance sports is still being formed, and with it's burgeoning popularity, it's getting formed faster than ever.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

It's Coming Together......Finally!

Some of the regulars that stop by here might remember something about an Inbred 29"er that I was building.......or not! Well, tax know, money? Well, they came in, so I can now proceed to get the finishing parts for the build. My frame did not come with the fork, so I was going to wait for a carbon Bontrager Switch Blade. Apparently, they are on a delayed schedule, so I found an Inbred fork online and got it coming. It ended up being cheaper by about $50.00, too! I saw on Friday that my wheel components arrived to lace up the Salsa Delgado Disc rims to my purple Surly disc hubs, so hopefully I'll have some photos to share with you all later in the week. The only major components that are still up in the air are the brakes, saddle, handle bar, and possibly the stem, depending on handle bar choice. I hope to be riding this bike before the end of the month. If it all goes well, I'll be using it at Dirty Kanza, but we'll see.

Speaking of that event, it reminds me that I have some proof reading of Trans Iowa cue sheets to do! Yesterdays wind reminded me a whole bunch of last years T.I. I can see why so many bailed out. Not only does the constant blast make you feel like you're going uphill all the time, but it dehydrates you pretty seriously. I was getting into a depleted state myself. Working so hard makes you sweat more, and then the wind is sucking you dry, as well. Major adjustments to the hydration schedule will have to be made if it's windy at Dirty Kanza. And how could it not be! They aren't real big on trees down there!

Well, the hamstrings are sore today, but other than that, I'm just tired. I spun out the legs for about 40 minutes today before the wind, cold and rain set in. It's weird to hear thunder when it's in the 30's outside! Oh well! It looks as though the blustery weather is here to stay for awhile, too. Makes me think of Belgium!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Wind + Hills = "It Burns!"

While it was a beautiful spring-like day in Iowa, it was a bit decieving. March in Iowa means wind. Powerful wind.

Here we have a couple of shots from the ride. Nothing spectacular. One showing that we have got enough rain lately to cause lots of run-off in the fields. The gravel was soft in alot of places.

The other shot is showing one of the several one-third to half mile long climbs that come one after another on this south of town route. Kerkove says these hills are nothing. Well, add in a nearly constant 25mph wind right in your face, and I'd say that they are plenty steep! You know the wind is blowing hard when you have to pedal to maintain 12mph. on the downhill side of these grades!

Nothing really spectacular to report other than my legs are fried. Major burning! I went straight into this wind until I couldn't climb anymore above 8mph near the end. That was it! Kaput! I thought about resting a little, but I did have to pedal home yet. I also didn't want to do any damage to my body, just because I wanted to go on, so around I went. I got to actually coast for the first time in an hour and a half of riding! Now there's an idea! I did try some of that Recover-Ease stuff Jeff gave me as a sample. So far, no pain, but the legs are like lead right now.

Well, here's hoping your ride was enjoyable. Maybe I'll spin around tomorrow to loosen up the legs a little. Have a great weekend!

A Good Day

Here's hoping that it's a good day for you to catch a ride today. Training? Riding just for fun? Full suspension, hardtail rigid fork, 26"er, 29"er...........tricycle? Whatever yer flava, get yerself a ride, have some fun, and enjoy the feeling that only a bike can impart. Afterall, if it wasn't all that fun, then why would you do it?

Me? I'll be pushin' the pedals on my drop barred, singled out, camp stove green, Surly Karate Monkey. I'm planning on it being fun! I hope your ride is too!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Don't Get Too Excited!

There is alot of back and forth discussions about whether or not 29"ers are all that and a bag of chips. We all know that they are not........right? Well, I guess some of the folks not committed to 29"ers seem to think the people who are committed to the wheel size do think that way. I mean that 29"er riders know that for them there is no going back to 26 inch wheels. The key here being the phrase,"for them". The folks that would debate the advantages of 29 inch wheels seem to gloss over that sentiment. It's a statement that I read over and over again in posts from new 29"er riders. "I know that for me there is no going back." You see, no one is bending your arm here, trying to make you say uncle, and ride 29"ers. Yet, I see this statement all the time too. Check this one out. This is a quote from Mike Ferrentino, in a Mouth Trap column, written and posted on Bike Magazines webpage.

"After playing around on the things for six years now, I’m still not convinced that they will make me more of a man, or cure cancer..."

He's referencing the so called "zealotry" that 29"er riders exude.......allegedly. Mr. Ferrentino also likens the 29"er crowd to the singlespeeder afficiando by saying......

"Swear to God, they are making single speeders seem almost rational and even-tempered."

Nothing like fomenting dissent between groups of cyclists, huh? Of course, I have to remember that Mr. Ferrentino is paid to entertain, and that writing that, "29"er folks are really passionate about their riding experiences", probably wouldn't sell as well as creating and encouraging more controversy. To be fair, Mr. Ferrentino brings up the Dave Harris experiments, which I will admit, have ruffled more than a few feathers. Also, Mr. Ferrentino says that he feels that 29"ers are suited more to some courses than others. Okay, good. Why did he feel compelled to say the other, well........crap!

That's the thing that lots of the non-committed 29"er folks say. That the folks that love 29"ers, that are passionate about our bikes and the way they ride say things that are irrational. First of all, as if miracles do not happen,(a whole 'nother issue!) and secondly as if we should just calm down, and go away. Look, I cannot speak for every 29"er rider, but I never claimed that it was a "miracle" for you. I don't think 29"ers are for everybody. However, I do know that I ride better than I ever did on a 26 inch wheel bike, and scientific study? I don't need no stinkin' scientific study too tell me that. ( appologies to Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Dave Harris!) I am passionate about the 29"er. I hope that you are passionate about the type of bikes that you ride. If you are, then great! I promise you that I won't feel that you are making claims of miracle cures or enhancements of manhood, or whatever!

Choose your bike based on what works for you. Based on what is fun! Choose your bike for it's color! Whatever. Get passionate about your bike and riding it. Whatever that bike is, don't let anybody put a damper on that passion. Keep on ridin' and smilin'!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

They Are Watching!

Due to a response to the "Company Man" comments I made yesterday, I feel compelled to delve a little deeper into this subject today. It is apparent to me that several employees of different cycling related companies are viewing this blog from time to time. I am not going to name names here. I just want you, (whomever the you may be) the cycling industry employee, to know that there are several of you watching these posts and that a few of you have bent my ear either by e-mail, or personally. Sometimes there is some sort of irritation involved, but I would regard my efforts as worthless if there wasn't some of that! Most of the time; however, it's all been rather pleasant, and I enjoy making contact with all of you.

This really goes to show you the impact that blogging is having on today's business world. The doors to information are many and wide so that you will find little ol' rustic bloggers like me in Iowa talking about stuff that you may be surprised to find here. My suggestion is to get involved in the conversation. It will only help you in the current state of marketing affairs. For more on this subject and a good example of what blogging can do for a brand, check out the hyperlinks.

Now: For something completely different and potentially flammable! I have to shake my head everytime I check into what Mike Curiak is up to. Just when you think he's settled down into marriage, and running a business, he pulls out this strange contraption. Maybe it's got gadgets. You James Bond or something. Rockets and flamethrowers come to mind! Check it out and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


It's that time of year for changes. You know, spring cleaning, longer days, and getting ready for that first event of the year. I've noticed several changes recently. Here are a few of them.

1. 29"ers debated and covered in the media more than ever. I read an excellent article from What Mountain Bike, a U.K. mag, that compared two identically equipped Inbred single speeds. One in a 29" flavor, the other in 26". The 29"er forum has been filled with nutty, derisive, entertaining, and mundane threads on 29"ers virtues, or lack there of. Several posts from first time riders of the big wheels as well. What does it all mean? People are starting to get ahold of the concept a little better now. I think that we are seeing the whole 29"er movement going mainstream now. Over the next year or so, look for a shift in power, from the underground, tinkerer, small builder, cultish and zealot-like 29"er world to that of, for lack of a better term, single speed-like mainstream acceptance/ tolerance. No longer will the 29"er elicit the, "Twenty nine what?" response. People still might not get it, or even want to, but at least they will be aware of it's existence.

2. Blogging cyclists getting "caught in the middle". It used to be that you had to be close friends with someone "in the company", or have industry contacts in high places to be a person that knew of "cyclings secrets". You know......those bits that are not supposed to be revealed to the general public, but are offered to those "in the know" people as a token of how deep your relationship is with company folks, or whatever! That whole social dis-function kinda freaks me out! Anyway, with todays much faster flowing, freer flowing information network, these bits get spread around a bit more, well freely! So, your local cycling blogger, or internet chatroom freak can get hold of tidbits in all sorts of new ways. Let me tell you. The Company Man is watching! ( Hello, Company Man! Hope you are enjoying todays post! Feel free to comment, by the way.) Anyway, The Company Man doesn't always appreciate his info being distributed at times and places not of his choosing. I know this because Company Man has had a word or two with me about this very thing. Believe me folks. We bloggers are kind of caught between wanting to be free with our information, but Company Man doesn't always want us to be so free. Consequently, things have changed ever so slightly. We'll see how it all shakes out in the end.

3. Team changes, new bikes, new season. Pretty self explanatory here. Cat Eye Enduro squadra gets on Cannondale mounts. Pro riders debuting in their new team kits, and the first racing of the season is underway. Hold on! Here we go on another whirlwind summer!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More News and Views

On One Scand-Al: Could On One Cycles be the British equivalant to Niner Bikes? It's looking like the company might be headed in that direction. Take a look at the photo of the aluminum frameset. These are not just any old aluminum frames;no, they are Scandium aluminum frames! That is a stronger alloy of aluminum that can be drawn into tubes that make a lighter, somewhat more forgiving frame than your standard aluminum frame. What's better is that this new "Scand-Al" frame, (That's right, On One is going to call it the Scand-Al!), is a 29"er! Geared with replaceable dropouts, that I assume will also be available in single speed mode. It appears that the photo shows an eccentric bottom bracket but I'm not sure on this! The projected price on this frame is approximately $700.00 and might be available this summer.

The other photo is of a CAD drawing of a carbon fiber fork with an aluminum crown that On One is working on. The as yet un named fork will have the same offset as the steel version of the Inbred fork. No word on availability, or price. My guess is that this fork is destined to be mated up with the Scand-Al frame- but that's only my guess! If they do this, then it surely would be one of the lightest frame and fork combos out there for 29"ers.

For more on the fork and a cool report on a direct comparison between a 26" and 29" Inbred check out this report from Twenty Nine Inches . Thanks to them for the fork image! The image of the frame comes to you from the 29"er forum at

And Finally..... I'd like to invite you all to take a gander at the article that I wrote for The Biking Hub, and for you to take a stroll through there website. Lots of good info here to check out! Enjoy!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Good Night and Good Luck!

I was just over cruising the usual mountain bike boards when I saw a post from a fellow that was saying good bye. He was having to formally write a good bye in order to make a "clean break" ( his words) from the internet discussion boards and get back outside. He claimed that he had wasted way too much time on the discussion boards and had gotten way too wrapped up in controversies. It was time for him to sign off.


The funny thing is, this guy had a low post count, a nice "on board" demeanor, and was generally a good "cyber-citizen" I could think of several better examples for "sign off" from the internet discussion world! The thing that resonated with me; though, was the comments on the discussions themselves.

It seems that there is some sort of devil in these discussions that wants to sap out all your emotional energy. It wants to take away all your time. Time that cannot be replaced. It waves the flags of information and curiosity, attracting you into a world that is frighteningly small, when it leads you into believing that it is broad, and endless.

Want to know where the end of the internet is? It's about twenty inches in front of your nose right now! It's not just the end of the internet either. It could be the end of your free time, the end of real relationships, the end of you!

Think I'm crazy? Take a break from this cybertronic black soul sucker for a week. Come back and tell me then. See if you don't rediscover a few things..........about life!

Until then.................Good night and Good Luck!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Ted-terview": Carl Buchanan: Part Four

Okay folks, hold on for the last installment of the Carl Buchanan interview! Today, I discuss with Carl the importance of athlete responsibility in regards to sponsorship, the power of blogs, Tinker Juarez, and other tom foolery! It's a long post, so grab your favorite drink, get comfy, and read on!

G-Ted: Yeah, so talk a little bit about the sponsorship thing. I mean, as far as you view your duty as being a sponsored athlete.

Carl: Well, I'm still learning, in all honesty. You know, it's one of those things, that you be completely and totally true about the product when people ask, if they've got a question about it, and I'm not going to lie to them about it. ummm.....But, basically I need to go out and I need to push that product to it's limits, you know, and if I see a problem with it, or if I come across a problem, I need to notify my sponsor that, hey! This, you know... something is not quite right here, type thing. Or, in the same aspect, when I'm out there, I need to be as professional as possible, so that, you know..... I figure I'm a finger on Cannondale's hand right now, you know? So that, I mean that I'm representing them as a company. So people, some people are going to take that, you know that, you figure especially a beginner class, or Sport class racer, it's very impressionable, you know. You take a guy like Jeff, (Kerkove) especially, I mean, his words are golden, all right? People take it, that's all there is to it, so.... I....I need to have that same stature when I'm out at the race scene, or what have you.

G-Ted: You need to be approachable, you need to be.........

Carl: Right! Right! Anything anybody wants to talk to me about when they want to talk about Cannondale or Diadora. I feed them the truth and sit down and take the time to sit there and talk to them about it, you know?

G-Ted: Right, right....yeah, there's no time to be a primadonna and............

Carl: No, it's.... It pretty much makes you a sales person 24-7.

G-Ted: Yeah...right, right.

Carl: I actually- It's kinda funny, 'cause I've actually been approached at my other job at the YMCA about Cannondale product, because of people locally that read my blog. And it's... It's caught me off guard, honestly, but it's led to some interesting conversations.

G-Ted: Now, you mention your blog, and Jeff's got a blog, and of course, I do too, but how do you feel that fits in? That's something... That's something that's fairly new.So, how do you see that as fitting in as being a sponsored athlete, and the endurance racing?

Carl: The biggest thing not only do I maintain my blog; I try to do that everyday, I'm also a frequent poster on mtbr, ( Mountain Bike Review- a website. ed.) which, you're aware of. And there's actually a ton of cyclists and racers on there. And these guys come in and they visit your blogs, you know. I...I kinda have a resource that they don't. So if they've got questions about a certain bike, or how a bike is going to come equipped, and so on and so forth.... I've actually recieved those e-mails. And I wonder.... And they got all these questions concerning say, a Rush versus a Scalpel, you know, "what's the difference?" Which, by the way, was my post on my blog today!


G-Ted: So, would you say, would you agree that it's fair to say because of your blog, and the vibe and nature of blogs, It makes you more approachable in these instances where these people have questions about a companies product? They're more apt to come and ask you, as opposed to ask somebody in a bike shop, or e-mail Cannondale directly, or.....

Carl: Yep! I mean, I toatally agree with that. Because they know that with that blog, they can..... I know there's a couple different things here. They can hide behind the internet, and so that way... they're not.... If they feel that question is maybe not a smart question, you know, they don't want to be embarassed by a "dumb question", when they go into a shop. So, they can ask me that, and even if I do think that is a bad question, they have no idea, 'cause I'm still gonna give them a straight answer, and......

G-Ted: After you're done falling and rolling on the floor you get up and.....(Laughter)

Carl: I would.... I would never do that. But I've had the questions where even I haven't been able to answer the questions. So, I just... I'll e-mail my resources at Cannondale, get the facts, and then give them the answer, and then that way, they can see me as a valuable resource to them. So, they start, kind of asking a few more questions here and there, and then eventually you have that friendship built. Even though it's a cyber-friendship, it's still there.

G-Ted: So, going back to your metaphor as being a "finger of the company": Your blog is kinda out there touching people in the digital realm.

Carl: Exactly.

G-Ted: And that's a value to the company that you represent, like Cannondale, or Diadora.

Carl: Yep! You figure, Cannondale has their own blog on their website. You know, they have their loyal customers, they have people that are Cannondale die-hards. You figure, I'm new to Cannondale. This is my first Cannondale I've ever owned. This is the first time I've ever ridden one on a regular basis. To be honest with you, I'm completely stoked about it. I mean, it's just amazing, the bike it's self. And so, you figure they're putting... They're entrusting me: a brand new person that's never even been with their company before, to take their product and go out there and sell it to the guy that doesn't know, and..... I think that says alot about the company when it takes that risk, if you will, and they are..... I think especially coming from like Cannondale, understand the value of what a racer out there, you know.... Their words are taken to heart by many, many people.

G-Ted: I think it's interesting that you see yourself in that light, because the perception that alot of non-racers, non-sponsored people have is that racers only care about themselves....

Carl: Right...

G-Ted: And all they want to do is get something for free.

Carl: Right!

G-Ted: And I think it's important for alot of people to hear your message, because I know Jeff feels the same way about it as you do.

Carl: Number one rule, when you are seeking sponsorship is, "Never expect free stuff!"

G-Ted: Right!

Carl: As soon as you expect free stuff, you're done. You'll never get it, you know. That's the kind of stuff that comes to those athletes that have proven themselves, you know. Take Tinker Juarez, you know, the guy.....He's probably sold more Cannondales just riding around in circles than any other salesman in the country.

G-Ted: He rides a Cannondale?

Carl: Of course he.....

G-Ted: I thought he rode a Klien?

Carl: He rides a....

G-Ted: Sorry, I'm a retro kind of.....

Carl: He rides a Cannondale Rush Team Replica

editors note: We discussed the amazing career of Tinker Juarez for a couple minutes, then we ended the interview with this exchange.

G-Ted: ....Well, I don't know if I can think of anything else I want to talk about right now. You got anything you want to add as a closer?

Carl: End Lefty descrimination!

G-Ted: There is some?

Carl: I don't know what it is with you people that ride those weird, two legged forks, but....

G-Ted: Mine's rigid! (Laughter)

Carl: Two legs! Whaddya need two legs for? I can stand on one leg....hop around..... You don't need two legs!

G-Ted: I'd say I'd go along with the "End Lefty Descrimination" as long as they "End Big Wheel Descrimination"!

Carl: I can't comment!

G-Ted: Viva la Big Wheels!

Carl: I can't comment! No comment! This interview is over now!

There it is folks! Be sure to read the previous installments, and remember, all of this was done in one conversation! Thanks, and I hope you enjoyed that!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Ted-terview": Carl Buchanan: Part Three

Continuing on the "All Carl Buchanan- All The Time" network.......just kidding! Today, Carl talks about his influence from Jeff Kerkove, his start in cross country racing, and how a sponsored athlete can benefit a shop.

G-Ted: Would you say you have an edge...uh..somewhat being that you have a person like Jeff Kerkove to bounce ideas off of right handy? You work with him, you can ride out on training rides with him. That kind of resource some people don't have, so......

Carl: Definitely! Definitely an advantage to me. I mean, he helps out a tremendous amount of people on his blog, you know, he gives advice and what have you. But to actually, to go and sit here with him for a five, eight, nine hour day, and that's all you talk about all day is bikes, it's.... You can bounce alot of ideas off a guy in eight hours, you know? And he enjoys it, you know, he gets off on that, he gets gratification outa that. So, if I've got questions, I have no problem asking him, because I know he's going to give me a right answer....truthfull answer, and he's gonna believe in his answer. And it's not going to be a.... He's not gonna tell you, well, "My sponsor says I should say this. I'm gonna say that." He's gonna tell me the truth, you know. That's all there is to it.

G-Ted: Yeah. His passion for the sport rubs off and gets you motivated and.....

Carl: I've.. I've never seen somebody that's more passionate about endurance racing right now.

G-Ted: Yeah.

Carl: You know, I... I truly view him as just like a "Lance Armstrong" in road racing, you know? His passion, you know, so focussed on the task that needs to be done, it's just unbelievable.

G-Ted: I think pretty much it's all his fault...

Carl: It is all his fault!

G-Ted: It's all his fault, and I got sucked into the black hole too, now!


Carl: The funny thing is, I raced one time trial and one cross country race in 2001. That was my first year racing. And I met him in the spring of '02, I believe. And he convinced me to go do the Minnesota State Championship Cross Country Series. That was before he was racing endurance. And I was like, "Okay!" So, my first cross country race in Minnesota? Yeah! AFTON!


Carl: All I can say is, PAIN! It HURT!

G-Ted: Yeah, yeah...

Carl: But I arrived there half an hour later than I had anticipated. So, I missed the cutoff to sign up for the Sport Class, which I should have been racing. So that forced me into racing for the Comp Class, and in doing so, I forced myself into buying a season number plate. So, it just kinda.... I mean, I knew I was gonna get my butt handed to me! But, I figured, you know, this is gonna be.... It's gonna be a steep learning curve, but it helped. I mean, my racing definitely improved throughout the season. Getting passed by Jeff Hall, (Sponsored by Salsa Bicycles: ed) like when he's doing mach 5, and you're sucking wind, and wantin' it to all end. It really puts things into perspective. It changes your whole viewpoint on the racing.

G-Ted: Yeah, he's ( Jeff Hall) been around a long time too.

Carl: Yeah, my entire racing career I can blame on Jeff. (Kerkove)

G-Ted: Huh? O.K. I....I can buy that! (Laughter) Yeah, well, I think that wouldn't you say that...ahh..... somebody who works in a shop that races and is passionate for the sport is a benefit not only to other people that they encourage to race, but to the clientel that comes into the shop? Would you..... Would you say that's a benefit?

Carl: I would say that's a benefit because, you figure especially you're racing onproduct that we sell at our shop. You know what the high end stuff of that shop is worth. You know how it's going to perform. And you can actually..... Instead of quoting a catalog and saying " such and such company says this about this bike and da-da-da-da daaa. You can actually flat out tell that customer the differences between this bike and this bike. This bike performs at this level. You know, so on and so forth......ummm..... So, you figure most of your entry level bikes are gonna handle pretty much the same no matter what. So, I think that any mechanic, salesperson can pretty much cover that, but I think that having racing and having a passion for that company shows when you go to sell a customer that bike. They see that in you and they take your....your word for it because they realize it means alot to you.

G-Ted: Yeah, considering it's something they can feel....

Carl: You should always try to get that emphasis apart, so that the customer can "Feel it"!


G-Ted: Pimp the sponsor!


Carl: Sorry, man! It's my everday talk!

That's it for today! Look for another Carl Buchanan installment tomorrow!

Exotic Clientel

Meet Beaker, an exotic bird that belongs to a customer of the shop. The brightly colored bird was quite content to perch here and preen it's feathers while it's master shopped.

The really cool thing about this was how the man that owns her came to be in possesion of the bird. It was a rescue. He said he went to a party where a couple of gals lived. Apparently they had purchased the bird that very day. He said he walked out onto a balcony where he observed the two women torturing the bird by holding lighters under its feet! He was so appalled that he took the creature, perched it on his shoulder for the rest of the evening, and decided to take it with him when he left, rather than to leave it to be tortured by the two women.

He said that the next morning, he called the local animal shelter, and related the story. He was told to go ahead and keep the bird, and that the animal shelter people would be visiting the two women to confiscate there dog as well! Crazy!

Beaker is safe today because this customer had not only a conscience, but the willingness to take action. Kudos! Today, Beaker and his owner are in their big rig on their way to Houston, Texas. Say hi, if you see them on the freeway!

I normally don't get off topic like this, but it's not everday you see an exotic bird in Iowa, nor do you hear such stories. Enjoy!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday News and Views

I'm going to interrupt the Carl Buchanan interview "series", ( Yes, this has become a small series! I have TWO more installments left to post!) for some news and commentary from the world of 29"ers.

Dave Harris' 29" vs. 26" Test: Dave Harris, who is an endurance racer, has had a keen interest in what wheel format is "best" for racing. He has dived into the testing of these two wheel sizes deeply enough that it would make most of our heads spin! (It does mine anyway) The results, as they stand so far, have gotten a ton of response on, and now, on My take on this study and the attention to it is this: Calm down everybody! People are way too"up in arms" about what Dave is saying. My point is, if you actually read what he says about his own study, you would realize that it is about him and how efficient he is on the two wheel sizes. Not necessarily a deal killing indictment on 29 inch wheels in general. The only "bad" thing I could possibly see coming out of this is exactly what has already happened, that is, people not being objective enough to see that this is valid stuff........for Dave Harris ( and possibly a few other people) but not everyone. Relax people!

Fisher Rumors: It has been posted on's 29"er forum that Fisher has some plans for '07 concerning some new bikes and parts for 29"ers. These rumors are reportedly from Ryan Atkinson, who is one of the top Fisher honches. It appears that Fisher may possibly introduce a steel hardtail, and another, lower priced version of it's Race Day 29"er Super Caliber bike. In the parts department, we might possibly finally see the results of Bontrager's work in the tubeless tire and wheel technology for 29 inch wheels, as well. These rumors from Trek tend to be taken with a grain of salt here at Guitar Ted Labratories. I've seen too many of them not come true when they say they will. That said, it looks like they are doing everything that they can to be the number one 29"er company at the mass market level. Cool!

Niner Bikes Keeps It Rollin': Niner Bikes, a recent start up company based in California that is dedicated to 29"er proliferation, has announced three new models to be introduced at the Sea Otter Classic. The most widely anticipated of these models is the as yet un-named 4" travel full suspension bike. Niner has been pretty aggressive in it's model introductions and has been rather sucessful, so far. I think it's pretty amazing when you realize that most of their sales are direct, internet driven ones and not so much "brick and mortar" type.

That's it for today! Gotta make an early morning meeting at the shop. Have a great weekend, go for a bike ride, (whether it be 26 OR 29 inch wheels, Right Dave?!), and look for more Carlos the Jackal interview material over the weekend! Later, ya'all!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Ted-terview": Carl Buchanan: Part Two

Today's installment of the Carl Buchanan interview focuses on Carlos' thoughts on cross country versus endurance racing.

G-Ted: What do you think about endurance racing as a force in America? Do you think it is something that is growing versus cross country racing? How do you view that?

Carl: I think that the cross country thing.....Some will tell you that the cross country thing is going to die off. I don't think it's going to die off, because that's where everybody can get a start at that. You know... Somebody that doesn't have any racing experience what so ever, diving in, doing a 24 hour race might be a little bit overwhelmed. So you figure getting into a beginner class cross country race is a good place to start. Kinda get your feet wet type thing. And then I feel that endurance racing is the way to go. You know...You just figure you start out with like...with a team, kinda figure what it's all about. Progress into racing solo and do just a standard 24 hour race on a loop course. Eventually work your way into doing the ultra craaaazy stuff, like Trans Rockies, Trans Alps, that kind of stuff.

G-Ted: okay....yeah.. So, you would say that, as you see it, cross country has it's place as a feeder for other bigger.....longer....

Carl: Well, you know....that's not a totally fair statement. I guess 'cause there are guys in the cross country field that will... that will smoke anybody in cross country, but their endurance for a 24 hour event might not be there.

G-Ted: So, would you say that......

Carl: It's a different type of racing.

G-Ted: So, would you say that cross country is geared more for a certain type of athlete versus endurance racing, which is geared for another type of athlete? There's really not a whole lot of cross over?

Carl: There is cross over. I'm not going to say that there isn't. But I would say, yes, that the person that excells.... You excell at one or the other. You don't..... I can't think of anybody off the top of my head that is a predominate, world class cross country racer that's also a world class endurance racer. You kinda.... You choose one path or the other, type thing.

G-Ted: As far as you're.... You're relatively new at the endurance racing scene How.. How has your experience been at events you've been to.

Carl: It's... It's a fun experience! It's cross country racing.... Like I said previously, I like it, I still enjoy it, but there is a totally different atmousphere there. You know, when you're racing beginner, everybody is really quiet, because you don't know what you're doing. Sport class- everybody's kinda your buddy, you know, it's like everybody's there to have fun. And once you start racing expert, it's a whole new ball game. You know? It's.. you're there to win and your results are number one. Numero uno. It's like, okay, there's Jeff Kerkove, there's Brian Eppen. These two guys I gotta watch, you know and that type of stuff. So, you really get alot more serious and the fun factor kinda dies off. Unless you're a top three athlete. Then, you know, you probably have that fun factor! ( laughter) But for a middle of the pack cross country guy, like myself, it's you know, it's..... You still try to maintain the fun factor, but it's at not quite the same level. You show up for an endurance race, man, it's just a big party! It's just a good time. Everybody's really supportive of each other. You go through the pits and everyone's cheering you on. The solo racers. The team racers, everybody. It's like, everyone there knows everyone else. It's kind of a little family.

G-Ted: So, you find the supportive atmousphere alot more...

Carl: Yeah.

G-Ted: ...attractive to...

Carl: Well, yeah.. Man, it's that whole support thing. If I feel like it actually makes it a little bit easier to get on the bike every lap and just keep going. You know, 'cause you wanna at 4 o'clock in the morning... you think about it, like can I take a break now? But, you know, you see Jeff take off again and you can't take a break, you know. He's not breakin' and if you break, he's guaranteed to beat you by four laps instaed of three laps, you know, so....... There is no rest if you want to be competitive with it.

That's it for today. Tomorrow, Carl talks about his biggest influence and how endurance race sponsorship has affected his life.