Sunday, April 30, 2006

Trans Iowa V2 Re Cap

Here it is! The story of this year's Trans Iowa V2 race. Get your favorite beverage handy! This is going to be a loooong post!

To say that this year's event was going to be affected by the weather was just a mild understatement! It was dominated by the weather. To understand exactly what happened, we need to examine the situation from earlier in the month. When April started, we were getting several storms with heavier amounts of rain dropped over southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. This ended up causing widespread flooding across the state of Iowa. The week to ten day period previous to Trans Iowa looked promising for the event; however, because we enjoyed summer-like temperatures and dry days. This served to get the surface dry, but the water tables had not had time to drain down properly. At least they were not ready for what happened this weekend!

A high pressure system parked itself above the eastern U.S. and blocked the passage of weather systems for a few days. It coincided with Trans Iowa weekend, which turned out to be all of our undoings. The skies opened up over the course on Thursday night. The rain continued unabated throughout the weekend from there. By the time of the race start, the ground, which still hadn't fully recovered from the rains earlier in the month, were totally saturated with water. Rain was forming in pools, rivulets, and lakes all over northern Iowa.

This had a very negative effect on the "B" roads especially. The "B" roads are, in reality, just dirt. There often is no drainage systems in place and in a couple of instances, no ditches to gather rain water. Iowa dirt forms some of the stickiest, thickest, pastiest stuff I've ever seen. It gets stuck onto any metal or rubber surfaces and holds on for dear life! This made these sections of the course that I had intended to be hindrances to the "speedier" bikes into unrideable quagmires. In fact, you couldn't even walk in them! The mud litterally would suck the shoes off your feet!

Not only was this a race killer, but the gravel itself was so engorged with water, that it became much like riding on a beach. The rolling resistance was unreal. Western Iowa has the distinction of having a high amount of glacial till type gravel. High in granite and quartz content, it's ground up consistency being most like sand. In the eastern part of the state, we have mostly limestone gravel roads, which are more like concrete when wet. In fact, our gravel out here gets faster in many cases when it has been rained on! Unfortunately, the riders got no where near the eastern part of the state!

What this all meant was that the riders could not meet the minimum speed requirements to allow them to make it to Algona Checkpoint before six in the evening on Saturday. This was the reason the event was over yesterday. We made every effort to get the competitors something for their efforts by raffling off any of the prizes donated to us by our generous sponsors to the remaining folks that showed up in Algona to retrieve their drop bags. Everyone was very complimentary towards the event, and Jeff and I. We say "Thank You!" and we were proud to be associated with such fine atheletes. Everyone seemed to be very understanding of the plight that we were all being subjected to. That just shows me again how cool the endurance racing crowd is. I was again impressed.

The pre race meeting: Once again, the Pizza Ranch in Hawarden made out like bandits- as well they should have- by hosting our humble little pre-race meeting. I was glad to see that the racers and their supporters took advantage of the food on offer and spent their hard earned dollars there. The folks that live and work in Hawarden are some very fine people and they deserved our support for hosting this event's start. I heard similar goodwill stories from the folks staying at the various host family houses and from the folks down at the new Super 8 motel. Makes me feel proud to be an Iowan, it does! (sniff!) Ah- I digress! Anyway, a special thanks to David Nice from Colorado for lending us a hand in getting the drop bags readied before the meeting. Thanks! After everyone ate, we had a quick Q and A session, and then we called everyone up for the bags. We were a bit surprised by the 19 no shows! I knew the weather would be a detriment to people showing up, but I didn't think that many would drop out! After the end of the meeting, everyone scurried off to their beds for whatever shut eye they could muster before the early morning start.

The Race Start: Jeff and I tossed and turned all night with the jitters. We weren't helped out by the fact that our host home had the World's Loudest Toilet in the bathroom downstairs where we slept. That thing sounded like it was powered by a jet engine! Anyway, we popped out of the sack at 2:30 am, got our clothes on and bolted for the nearest convenience store so that Jeff could procure his requisite "black goodness" fix before our 3am arrival at the West Sioux High School parking lot. I haven't been so wide awake in a high school parking lot at that time of the morning since.......well..... Another story for another time! At any rate, Jeff and I were ready to go. The racers started showing up shortly afterward. The lights were kindled on their helmets and handlebars, and we lined up to head out at 4am. sharp. As I tooted the horn to signify the start of the race, I noticed that Aerosmith's song Back in the Saddle Again was blaring out of my radios speakers. How fitting! The winds that had been forcast were nothing but breezes and we had a fine mist spewing in our faces, but it seemed fine to us. Spirits were pretty high, and hope was still in good supply.

The Early Stages Until Morning: The roll out was three miles on pavement before I pulled the van off and the racers made the left hand turn onto the first gravel section. The event soon saw a small lead group go off the front containing about eight riders. In the darkness, it was quite impossible to tell who they were, but they had several minutes advantage on the main field by the 20 mile mark. The conditions were steady, and the pace that the leaders were setting was a bit torrid for a 340 mile event. It was my opinion at the time that this lead group would either disintegrate or be absorbed again by the main field later in the event. However; I hadn't seen what effect the "B" road sectors were going to have. I would change my opinion!

Attack of the Killer Bees!: I was pleased with the way the event was unfolding until I saw how long it took for the race leaders to traverse that first section of "B" road. These guys were reletively fresh and excellent riders, yet they had been slowed tremendously by the first mile of "B" road. I chalked it up to having it be so dark when they hit that muddy mess. There was another "B" road section at about dawn. I thought that this would prove to be a better guage of things to come. I was aware that there was worse to come, and the racers weren't. I was hoping the onset of dawn would help them out by allowing them to pick better lines through the "B" roads. My concerns were growing as each minute passed with no riders in sight. Finally, I saw a few guys coming up the road, but the time that had passed by was putting a finish in Algona by 6pm. in jeapordy. The lead group was about eight or nine riders strong. They still had several minutes lead on another slightly larger group. It didn't really matter though, because only the lead group had any prayer of getting to the check point in time to continue onwards to Decorah. The race was over for the other 37 riders and we were only 45 miles into the event!

The Final Cut: The end came quickly for the rest of the field. At the town of Paulina, Iowa, many riders realized that it was already over for them and they packed it in. Probably a wise choice, because the next twelve miles to Sutherland, Iowa proved to be the undoing of everyone else in the event! That twelve miles had 4.5 miles of "B" road that must have been walking speed only as it took our lead group just over two hours to cover that distance. Hope was gone. The event was, for all intents and purposes, over at this point. No one was going to make that nearly 100 miles that were left to get into Algona by six in the evening. Not with the extreme effort that had been put out already. Several of the lead group decided to try to race for Algona anyway. We agreed that we would bestow prizing upon anyone that could roll into Algona by using the course laid out on their bike.

Crazy Canadians! While Jeff and I watched the lead group plow it's way through the last "B" road sector, we noticed that there were two extra fellows tagging along in the back. They turned out to be none other than Dallas Sigurdur and Lindsey Gauld who were the Canadian counterparts to Paddy Hummeny, who had been grinding along in the front for most of the event. An amazing bridge up! Lindsey and Dallas had been no where to be seen just ten miles back and here they were! Paddy was suffering badly from a respitory ailment that he had been battling for a week, so he pulled the plug, along with three others from the lead group, in Sutherland. Dallas and Lindsey kept grinding, and soon, they were the only two left standing. At the 119 mile mark, in Mallard, Iowa, they finally pulled out. It was about seven in the evening, and no one was going to get to Algona. The Crazy Canadians gave it their all, but the course and the forces of nature conspired to beat all challengers this year!

Thoughts and Musings: I suppose that some folks would tend to look at this and think that it is all a failure. Well, that would be a tragic miscalculation on their part. If anything, this years event was a rsounding success. Jeff and I made some tweaks to the event since last year, and they worked out beautifully. The participants in the event seemed to understand fully the reasons for the way things turned out and accepted that gracefully. I met sevearl new people and got to experience several new things. I think several of the event participants would agree. Will there be another Trans Iowa- a Trans Iowa V3? Hmm........yet to be determined! Give us a rest and Jeff and I will decide later. Whatever the outcome, I have had a great time doing the previous two Trans Iowas, and I have learned alot!

Look for picture and the stories to go with them in the days ahead!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Some Reflections and Predictions

I'm ready to go do this Trans Iowa V2 thing with Mr. 24 today. We will be pulling out of the shop at around 9 ish o'clock, due to having to wait on some last minute deliveries. Not a big deal, as we are going to have plenty of time to get there. Racer meet and greet starts at 6:00 pm. , and it takes 5 hours to get there from here. I was wanting to check on some course conditions on the way out, so that's why we are leaving so early.

And speaking of course conditions! I was remembering last year. At the awards ceremonies, a couple of the finishers and other participants were saying that the conditions were tough, but it could have been worse. "It could have been raining." (!) is what was most often told to me by them. Well, guess what? This year it's going to be windy and rainy! Great. Obviously, this is going to change things immensely.

The very latest forcasts call for a very slow moving system in the central U.S. to tap into moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and dump a steady, soaking rain on the northern portions of Iowa for the next three to four days! Winds at this time are forcast to be out of the south east at about 10 to 15mph and increrase throughout the race time period to up to 35mph! Yikes!

Going back to my predictions on how many will take the start and then finish, I am about to revise those thoughts. I'm thinking one or two more folks are going to bail out before the start due to this forcast. So, I'm thinking somewhere in the upper 50's for numbers at the start. Let's say 58. I was thinking lower 60's, like 62- 63 folks. We'll see.

As far as finishers, I'm thinking more along the lines of last year. Many have told me that they expect upwards of one third of the field to finish. I never thought that the numbers would be that high. I always thought about 12- 15 would finish. Now, I'm thinking 12 or less, if it rains and blows like they say it will!

For those looking for updates, I will be calling them in and my wife will post them on's "Endurance Racing" forum under the Trans Iowa discusssion thread. Look for updates to start later tonight. As for the audio blogging, I haven't been able to get that to post yet on the Trans Iowa site, but I'll keep trying it. If it works, there will be an icon to click that will take you to a screen that will play the audio clip. Hopefully I get it working! Otherwise, a full report or two, or three! will be up coming starting Sunday night after I return.

That's all folks until Sunday night!

Have a graet week end!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Oh Crap!

Well, the big topic of discussion has been the weather for Trans Iowa. It's not looking good! Looks like the wind will be above 20mph for the duration and easterly! The absolute worst! Add to that the high probability of rain, and you have a recipe for epic riding conditions. (Dallas Sigurdur's Honda Odyssey is going to get DIRTY!)

I know that there are alot of optimists out there, but this weekend ain't gonna be pretty, even if it doesn't rain as long as there is that head wind. If it does rain, then it'll also be cold, and that means layers. I'll be definitely layering up for a long term exposure to the elements! Last year, I about froze my feet off during the long Saturday/ Sunday night slog in the van trying to keep track of Trans Iowa. I hope it doesn't get that cold!

Okay, enough of that weather talk! We ( Jeff and I) got all the cue sheets sorted last night and tonight we put together the racer bags. I have just about gathered all my course marking materials to use if need be. ( for any possible last minute detours and for "another reason" that I can not mention!) I have to get a few odds and ends at the store. A memory chip for the digi camera, bananas, apples, and that sort of thing. Pack up the meager amount of stuff I need and throw the Inbred in the van and go! Obviously, posting on the blog will be on hiatus until Sunday night at the earliest. Probably Monday! I'll sure be tired after all of this, that much I know! I might post a final goodbye tomorrow. Then, I hope to get my wife involved in posting updates of the event as they happen by calling them in to her. She will then post up the info on on the endurance thread. ( I hope!) We'll see about that!

For now it's off to work at seven am. again to slay more dragons with Mr. 24! OUT!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Got Fenders?

Whoo boy! Looks like this weekend could be shaping up to be a real epic! Have you checked the forcast lately for the weekend?

Yeah! That'd be a recipe for wet and windy weather that you are lookin' at. By the way, the "L" is right over the top of the Trans Iowa course!

This means that for me, as a race director, that I'll be wearing my rain gear. For the Trans Iowa competitor, this means misery! I can about imagine that those that have pre-packed their gear are adding and subtracting things in accordance with this forcast. This is going to be really interesting if it does actually rain. At any rate, this is typical of what April has been about this year. The storm track has been right through Iowa/southern Minnesota and we have had more easterly winds than I can remember in such a short period of time. This weekend's forcast calls for more of the same with south easterly or north easterly winds at 15- 20mph. Yep! Should be epic!

As for the preparations, I'd like to say that we are all ready to go, but we are not! It looks like we are going to be taking delivery on some things right up to the last second before we leave! Crazy! I can report that all the important elements for putting on the event are essentially in place. Cue sheets, race roster check offs, volunteers, plans, and logistics are all coming together like butt cheeks! It's just some of the extras for the event- the non-essentials if you will, that are lacking right now. Hopefully that stuff all shows up as it would enhance the participants experience a bit!

All we can do now is gather up what we have and wait. It would figure that things at work have gotten craaaazy since last week! We are trying to push through as much shop work as we can before we bug out, which is only adding to the stress levels of Mr. 24 and yours truly. We will deal with it though! Going in at seven in the morning today with our long swords in hand and a lusty Viking battle song on our tongues to slay as many repair jobs as we can before 3pm. Our goal: take no prisoners and leave no one standing! Notches on battle gear will be an extra badge of honor! (Perhaps only shop geeks and single speeders will understand the previous statements)

Speaking of single speeders...... You guys will be lovin' it if it rains! (That's not code for anything by the way!)

Well, more T.I. posts to come in the following days. I can't help that. My mind is consumed with details of it for now! Bear with me through the weekend and the posts might get interesting again!

My photography goal for the weekend: To find a mud caked racers mug. You know...... with the only skin showing around the eyes and mouth? Take close up of the face. Post it on this blog with the caption: Got Fenders?

Epic, I say epic!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm Bad. I'm Nationwide!

Let me get this straight: 29"ers are just a Mid Western thing? Yet we see how many new introductions and promised new models coming out from under the wraps? Either Mid Westerners are ditching their 26 inch bikes in droves or something else is going on. Hmm....... Could it be that the cyclist nationwide and in other countries, (Yes, that includes you Aussies!) are discovering the benifits of 29"ers and demanding more choice? Or, are the manufacturers driving this trend?

Let's see here.......We've got the Orbea "Alma" 29"er gearie, the Dean "Ace" full susser, the Salsa "El Mariachi" single speed, the Kona "Kula" hardtail, the GT "Peace" single speed, the Bianchi "Rita" single speed, the Raliegh single speed and another model to come, the Niner Bikes R.I.P.9 full suspension bike, the Haro Mary's, (geared and single speed), the Redline Monocog 29"er, the On One "Scandal" frame and carbon fork,the Intense Cycles "Spider" full suspension bike, and the Race Day Super Caliber by Fisher .

Yeah..............riiiigght! These bikes are all being introduced or being sold now because this is a Mid Western thing. Uh-huh. Yeah, that's it!

With appologies to ZZ Top, 29"ers are bad! They're nationwide!

Monday, April 24, 2006

New Rides On Dirt = It Must Be Springtime!

I got the new steed out for a quick shake down cruise on Sunday. I had thought about going to a couple other places to ride, but when you have a brand spankin' new build, it's best to stick close to the ranch. That way, if there is a failure or problem you won't have to walk as far. ( Yeah! I ride to my "rides", so no car)

Anyway, You just can't trust a new bike, at least I can't. A new bike has to proove it's trust worthy to me before I will cut loose on some epic ride or manouvers. To prove my point, my saddle ended up sliding all the way back on it's rails, and the seat QR needed tightening with an allen wrench to achieve optimum clamping force on the Salsa Shaft seat post. Problems solved! Everything else went just fine.

I saw another bike getting shaken down at the GreenBelt under the tutelage of Jeff Slade. Nice KHS soft tail single speed! "Kerkove Approved" all black paint and components. (with the exception of that offensive WTB saddle, right Slade?) Anyway, it was good to see that I'm not the only one that has a new single speed in the area. Nice ride Slade!

We talked for a bit about the Trans Iowa V2 finish line. Slade will be helping out with that, ( Thanks a bunch pal!) so any of you T.I. riders reading this, make sure you give him a shout out at the finish to encourage him. (and dirtram, Carlos, and The Cheese Queen too. They'll all be there!)

Going into work early today for a meeting. zzzzz........zzzzzz......zzzzz........ah, wah-what? Yes! I agree! ah.......great idea. umm..........zzzzz......zzzzzz........zzzzzzz........

Well, you get the idea!

Sign me: In a Frenzied Fit to Get All Ends Tied Up Before T.I.V2! OUT!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Who Made Who.

I was talking with one of our product reps the other day when he made an interesting statement. He said that singlespeed and 29"ers as movements in the mountain biking world have their roots in the Mid West. He said that the Mid West is where these ideas took hold and started to influence other riders. Is that possible?

It seems to me that any trend in any arena tends to start somewhere else and then slowly find it's way to the middle of the country about five years later. It's as if we are a sponge as a nation, and anything that gets absorbed is diluted and old by the time it soaks into Iowa or it's surrounding environs. I just find the idea that we here in the Mid West started any trend, especially in mountain biking. For that matter, I find it hard to believe that we even helped a trend along before it caught on out on the coasts.

Speaking of which; the very same rep said that you can hardly find a 29"er out on the west coast, which I happen to know is a false statement. I only mention these things here because this is a well known individual in the industry and if this is his perception of single speed and 29"ers then the influence he has is important to those two facets of mountain biking.

Does the industry really think that single speed and 29"ers, together or separately, have it's popularity base in the Mid West primarily? Could that actually be the case? I find that hard to believe.

It is true, though that alot of Midwestern cities and towns have their fair share of both types of riders. Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Omaha/ Council Bluffs come to mind. But there has to be a "hotbed" of 29"ers and single speeders that was more influential some where else. It just couldn't be a Midwestern thing, since we are generally not known as trend setters. Then again, maybe we are just a bit odd in this. Perhaps we did get the ball rolling with single speed and 29"ers. Maybe cycling trends will start forming in the Mid West on a regular basis? .................Naaah!

But then again..............there's Jason McCartney! (scroll to bottom article on the page!)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Weather Worries

The next few days will be focused mostly on making sure our "i's" are dotted and our "t's" are crossed for Trans Iowa V2. The biggest swing factor out of everybodies control is the weather.

The greatest fear is pouring down rain and massive headwinds. The best scenario would be sunny, warm temperartures with a tailwind. What will happen? Probably something inbetween.

The current forecast calls for showers, cloudy skies, and a mild headwind. Look for that to change again as we get nearer to next weekend. That's the thing that drives you nuts if you focus on it. The changing forcast. I say, just forget about it! Yep! Just let it go.

You can't control it. The weather will be what it will be, regardless of Trans Iowa, life, or death. The weather will not be the determining factor, most likely, that will stop someone from completing the course. It will be a factor, no doubt. But it's just that, a factor. One of many that will determine the outcome of 66 riders fates that weekend.

Now where did I put that rain coat.........................???

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Inbred 29"er

Here are some detail shots of my new Inbred 29"er. Once again, thanks go out to Mr.24 for his digi-pics! Here we get a good shot of the sinister set Chris King pink goodness, the Nokon cable set, Niner Flat Top bar, and the Bontrager Race stem provided by the Jackal.

Profile shot showing the more upright seated posistion I was looking for to get more comfort on longer rides. The Fizik Arione saddle is highly recommended as a comfy, swank, and well made perch. Sporting Nanoraptors and a 34 X 18 gear. Avid BB-7, Salsa Delgado Disc rims, and purple Surly single speed disc hubset round out the wheels. You can't see it, but I've got gold, green, and purple spoke nipples too!

A look from above. The Niner Flat Top bar is a nine degree swept back affair with Ergon grips, old Avenir purple bar ends, and old Avid SD 2.0 red bladed brake levers. That bar is plenty wide! I may cut it down some. It's a 31.8 clamp diameter, by the way.

The pedals are old Ritchey spd type, the crank is an old Race Face Turbine LP forged aluminum at 180mm in length. The chainring, seat post, and green annodized skewers are all from Salsa. The chain is some old Sachs chain that I had handy just to get it up and running. I will probably upgrade that to a SRAM chain that I've got hiding in my tool box at work someday soon.

My intial impressions are that the Arione saddle is waaaay comfy! The frame makes that familiar tink-tink sound when small rocks and sand bounce off the downtube. The SurlyI own must be made out of thicker steel, because it doesn't make that sound! Speaking of the Surly, it's a heavier bike than this one. I've never weighed the Surly, but it's gotta be in the upper 20's. This Inbred came in at just under 25 lbs. Not bad. There are alot lighter single speeds out there but I'm a clydesdale class fella, so I like solid parts that are sensibly made. I've had my experiences with sketchy, lightweight stuff! No thanks! Besides, the Niner bar may get trimmed, which would drop the weight some along with the abscence of the barends, which are there only for the purposes of running the Dirty Kanza. I might end up with the Ergon integrated bar end/grips someday. The grips, if they were foam, would be a good place to lose weight too. I bet I could get this down to the 23 pound range pretty easily with a few good component swaps, but that ain't gonna least not for awhile!

I can nevr leave a build the same for very long! We'll see what happens. In the mean time, I'm planning on putting some long hours on this bike. A report will follow after I've had some quality time on it!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A "Viking" and His Weapon!

Well, here is the weapon of choice for the Dirty Kanza 200.

Thanks to Jeff Kerkove for the pic!

More details and info on the build in tomorrows post. Look for it then!

Is It Time To Go Yet?

The time is getting closer and it's almost here. Trans Iowa V2! It's the main thought that runs through my mind most of the time now. To complicate things, we are super busy at work. To find the time that's not related to work or family right now is very tough to do. That makes it even harder to get in any detail work for the event that is only a week away! Yikes!

I'm anxious to get on with it, as I know most of the racers are. The thing is, I have a different motivation for this than they do. For them, it's the culmination of all that they have been training for all winter long. It's the trip into the unknown depths of their physical and mental beings which draws them into a place that they have never been to before. It's exciting for them to see what they will find. However; for me it's a task that must be done. A difficult, long, and dreary slog through the backroads of Iowa. Making sure there are no surprises. Bridges out? Road construction? Watching the front of the race develope, keeping tabs on it so I can organize volunteers over a time window that could stretch to ten hours from one end to another. Keeping track of riders. Heck, keeping awake! I just want to see folks having fun, being challenged, being smart and safe, and getting through this with no major complications, crashes, or death.

If it's anything like last year, the best part will be after the event is over. That will be true in two ways. One: I'll be able to relax. No more worrying about details, time schedules, or managing events. Secondly, I'll get to start reading the great stories that are sure to come out of this. Like a huge tapestry, all the parts will reveal a different scene, a new color to the composistion that will become the true picture of this years Trans Iowa. I can't wait for this to be over and for the stories to come in.

Of course, there will be a flood of coverage here and on Jeff's blog, along with some bits on The Biking Hub and Twenty Nine Inches. I'm sure there will be several stories related on as well as other photo sharing sites, just like last year. The thing I want to do differently this time is to write a story for release for some magazine or other. I wanted to do that last year, but I couldn't get a handle on anything to hang a narrative on. We'll see about that this time. It might happen.

Inbred Update: It's finished! Well, at least to ride, I never leave a bike set up alone for very long. I'll be shaking it down on some commutes to work, to find any hidden foibles. If it passes muster, it may get put to the test this eekend for the first time. Sorry! No pictures.........yet! I forgot my camera at my mom's house over Easter weekend! Maybe I can talk Mr.24 into taking a couple shots for me today!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Another Stupid List!

The reaction to some of the recent 29"er news from Sea Otter is a little interesting. It seems as though some folks out there are thinking that there is a shift in the place that 29"ers hold in the marketplace and that shift has some people thinking a little differently about the big wheels.

The "bandwagon" effect: Some folks think that the swell of interest not only by manufacturers, but by some potential riders, is nothing more than "trend hopping". Companies do this to make a buck with a "me too" product, (read steel, hardtail, multi-purpose drop out, single speed 29"ers) and people do this to make sure that everyone else knows they are on the cutting edge of cool. The funny thing is, once these two things happen, the 29"er movement will no longer be a trend or cutting edge cool. These two entities are their own buzz-kill, which is rather ironic.

The "more is better" camp: There are alot of riders that say more selection is good. That the parts that are 29 inch specific will grow in variety because of the growth of this market segment. I can't help but think that these are folks who long for the days of the full page, fine print advertisements chock full of reduced price 26 inch goods that used to appear in the mountain bike mags. They have a view that someday 29 inch tires, forks, and wheel sets will be as plentiful as their old 26 inch parts were and still are. Sorry! That's not going to happen. We'll get more variety, no doubt about that, but always on a smaller scale than 26 inch offerings. That's just the way it is.

The "it's ruining everything" bunch: You know these guys. The ones that bail out as soon as the "weird factor" is gone from whatever they are into. If it's "popular", then they are out. That's the bunch I expect to see on free wheeling, long travel unicycles next. You heard it here first!

The "this is lame, let's ride!" group: I like these guys the most. The ones that just don't care what the manufacturers think is the "next big thing". The ones who don't care if we think that they are in a cool niche, or a popular wave. They think lists like this post has are stupid wastes of time, are divisive, and totally unnecessary. They just want to ride and ride what works for them.

I agree with the last group. Let's ride! It's the thing that matters most. To these guys and gals I say, "To those about to ride. We salute you!.........................Bang!

Don't forget to check out the Sole Power Days report on Mr. 24's site for some manic pics of yours truly.......if you dare!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

29"er News And Views

Still getting fallout from the Sea Otter Race and Expo that was held just over a week ago. It seems that the surge in 29"er offerings is still continuing as well. Here's a look at what is catching my eye lately.

GT Bikes shows a 29"er proto type: Sea Otter news again! GT Bikes was showing a single speed 29"er in the expo area. Will they be the next to jump on the steel, hardtail, single speed 29"er bandwagon? Seems likely. The big difference in their proto was the lack of disc mounts and no goofy multi purpose drop outs. Will this see production? Not likely! Maybe we will see 29"ers in our local "MallWarts" in the future! ( GT is owned by Pacific Cycle, which sells several "department store" quality bike brands)

Intense Spyder 29"er: Somewhat overshadowed by other offerings and debuts at the Otter was the Intense Cycles Spyder 29"er. It uses the VPP type suspension system for rear boing-age and has a rather steep head angle which test pilots say makes the handling pretty snappy and definitely on par with any 26 incher out there. Some fear toe overlap problems, but so far, no problema! It'll be interesting to see what riders have to say once they are hitting the trails on these steeds. Geometry seems a little steep to me, but what do I know?

Panaracer announces a 2.3 wide meaty tire: It seems like it is a pretty solid rumor, especially when it's instigated by a supposed Panaracer employee! Apparently, the new 29 inch tire is going to be an "all mountain" type, knobular, grippy tire that should please all those fellows in the East Coast, Rockies, and Coastal Ranges that have been bemoaning the lack of tacky shoes for thier 29"ers. The tread is going to be an all new design named "Rampage". It will also be offered in a 26 inch size.

Inbred Update: The Inbred 29"er is sooo close to being done! I mounted up the brakes last night, along with cutting the steer tube to length, installing the star nut, and mounting the fork up to the bike. A recent gift from Niner Bikes, ( Apparently they liked the write up I did for them!) went on, as well. You'll have to wait for the pics! I need to mount the chain, and then do a final detailing and checkover before the first ride. That should be yet this week. As far as photos, well.......I forgot my camera at my mom's house over Easter weekend, so it'll be awhile!

Sole Power Days at our local university will see myself and Mr. 24 doing check overs on rusty, cheap, broken down college students bikes. They never take their bicycles seriously, since they are counting on their degrees to get them the latest sled available that guzzles petroleum products at alarming rates. Sad! Bicycles are soooo much better! Anyway, look for a pictorial on Mr. 24's site later today!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Put A Wrapper On That, Son!

It's that time of year when the shop I work at is busy putting together all the new bikes to be sold during the spring, summer, and fall. We get them delivered by freight trucks that we unload by hand. Recently, we were unloading a truck out back of the shop when I grabbed this bike box and heard all this rattling! Actually, we got two bikes like this that had rattling things inside!

Well, we finally got around to opening up one of these boxes, and would you believe it was full of Jelly Bellies? No? I didn't think so, that is why I took this picture. This is the strangest part of the whole thing to me. These bikes are produced in China for Trek. Why would some Chinese worker put purple Jelly Bellies in a random bike box? Then again, since the beans were loose in the box, they could have been poured into it through one of the "handles" that are in the box. Who would do such a thing and more importantly, why?

Of course, we didn't eat any of them. Totally unsanitary packaging! Perhaps they are part of a terrorist attack! You know........folks from the auto industry trying to knock us green, healthy, eco-friendly geeks off. Enticing us with a little sugary goodness laced with God knows what! Who knows?

Well, for what ever reason they were in there, I'm not biting the bait! Even though they were my favorite color, and I really like Jelly Bellies. Nope! Not gonna do it!

At least they could have used some kind of wrapped candy! Tootsie Rolls! Now there's an idea!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Nothing Lasts Forever

I was coming home after a tense day at the shop, (What was up with everybody? Weird!) Anyway.......I was riding home when I noticed my rear brake was bouncing off the rim again. Grr! So I stopped and released it. I usually use the front brake anyway. So, I continued on, wondering when I would find the time to adjust that pesky rear brake and to replace the pads again. This was probably the fourth or fifth set that I'd gone through in the last couple of years.

Well, about two blocks from my home......BOOM!.......clatter,clatter, clatter...........!!

When I dismounted I found what I have in the photo for you today. Blown out rim sidewall. I felt the edge of the ripped metal, and it was like a knife edge!

It didn't cause a wreck. That was good! I knew it was about time for these to go, but I thought it would be the front one first, since that is the brake I use 90% of the time. It's a good thing it wasn't the front, as that probably would have wrecked me.

I'd been running this wheelset since I built it back about ten years ago now on several different bikes. I suppose nothing lasts forever! It was one of those pieces of equipment that had always been trouble free for me. Nary any truing and only one broken spoke in almost ten years. That's pretty good, I'd say! I guess I got all the goody out of those wheels that I could, so I shouldn't complain.

Besides, now I have an excuse to build another set! Let's see....time to go shopping!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Why Go Halfway? Part II

Yesterday I posted some of my thoughts on the claimed advantages of the 50/50 bike and how they are not really advantages, or they are misconceptions. The advantages of using a 29 inch rear wheel far out weigh the negatives, so looking at it from that perspective, the 50/50 bike is only half as good as a full on 29"er. It's simply not, "the best of both worlds", as the proponents of the 50/50 bike would have you believe.

The other argument I have encountered regarding 50/50 bikes is that both wheels will work together giving you something that neither wheel size could on it's own.! This is not at all the case. The front wheel is going to react independant of the rear wheel as long as the geometry of the "same size wheel bike" is the same as the 50/50 bike. So, if you run a 50/50, the 26 inch rear wheel will do all the same things that your rear wheel does on your 26" front/ rear bike. The 29" front wheel does not magically make your 26" rear wheel better on a 50/50 bike. It's still a 26 inch rear wheel. It reacts to inputs like a 26 inch rear wheel. The same holds true for bumps, braking, and anything else a rear wheel encounters. Going with a 50/50 bike is only going halfway to the full benefits of a 29"er. Why only go halfway?

You would almost be better off doing a 50/50 bike with a 29" rear wheel and a 26 inch front wheel! The rear wheel is the multi-tasking wheel of a bike, driving the bike forward, carrying the bulk of the riders weight, ( in many cases) and affects rider comfort to a large degree. Since traction is better and rider comfort is better with a 29 inch rear wheel, then it makes sense to have it as a rear wheel, instead of giong with a 50/50 bike.

Of course, 29"ers are not for everybody. Shorter riders, and riders ingrained into the handling traits of 26"ers are good examples. These riders are not going to benefit from 50/50 bikes either. Shorter riders will find their handlebar, toe overlap, and cornering/ climbing techniques negatively affected by a 50/50 bike. Same for a 29"er. If you are 5'5" or under, I'd look into a full on 26 inch bike for off roading.

Finally, I keep hearing folks say to me and others that are not supporting the idea of 50/50 bikes, "you've got to ride one! Then you can talk to me about it. You will change your mind!" To which I say, ", not so much!" But to help these folks out, I have submitted to building up a 50/50 bike of my own. It is currently very near completion, but I have not gotten it out on the trails yet. There are certain ultra endurance duties that have to be attended to before I can get to testing the 50/50 bike against my full 29"ers. It will happen though, and I fully expect to put this whole notion to rest, at least for myself. The bonus is, I'll actually have riding experience to satisfy the challenges of these folks. For what that is worth!

Look for the head to head comparo sometime this summer. For now, have a great weekend, and ride your bike!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Why Go Halfway?

If you have spent any time at all reading this blog then you are aware that I, Guitar Ted, am a 29"er nutcase. I am pretty adamant that this wheel size is better on a lot of levels than a 26 inch wheeled bike for alot of people. Not all people, mind you, just alot of us. So, it always makes me shake my head when I see a "96er", or what I have settled on calling it: a 50/50 bike. You know, one of those 29 inch front wheeled, 26 inch rear wheeled half breed bikes. I saw another example of one on recently and felt compelled, again, to say something. (Perhaps I'm in need of intervention?) At any rate, this is what I have concluded about this whole 50/50 bike idea.

Here is the deal. People think that they are "getting the best of both wheel sizes" when they go with a "96er", or 50/50 bike. This notion is so misleading. Even I didn't see through it until recently. Follow the logic here for a minute. If by saying that you get the best of both wheel sizes with a 50/50 bike, then the rear wheel of a 29"er and the front wheel of a 26 inch wheeled bike are somehow deficient in comparison, right? If this is the case, it would make sense then to compare a 26" rear to a 29" rear to see what really is "better". Let's see then. The touted benefits of a 26 inch rear wheel are the following: spins up to speed faster, is lighter, is stronger, and is the accepted standard. Am I missing anything there? Let's see about the 29"er rear: better roll over, less rolling resistance, better grip, and more comfortable. Okay?

Now, let's take a few closer looks. 1. On the acceleration factor: It has been discussed on various levels that the actual acceleration/weight "advantage" of a 26 inch wheel may not be as great as once thought. Actually, there is some evidence that shows that the smaller/ lighter wheel is actually a disadvantage! Mavic has been doing extensive tests that were recently alluded to in an article on by Leonard Zinn. Apparently, Mavic found that the flywheel effect of a slightly heavier wheel may in fact increase uphill climbing efficiency! The article quoted a Mavic official as saying, "The lightest wheel doesn't always win." This is interesting for the 29"er in that the momentum saving attributes of the larger, slightly heavier wheel may in fact be an advantage versus a 26 inch rear wheel. Yes, it may be harder to get past the initial moment of inertia of the big wheels, but coming to a near dead stop is the only time that this should really be a problem. 2. Lighter/ stronger? Well, a 29 inch rear wheel might be heavier than it's similarly equipped 26 inch cousin, but the difference should only be about 10%. In fact, there are several wheel builds out currently that are on par with 26 inch wheel weights, and in some cases are super light. Strength? Look, if you can build a wheel that can survive Paris-Roubaix in a 700c format using 100 plus psi. tire pressure in skinny tubular tires, then what do you think the chances are that a wheel with a 2.1 inch wide, high air volume tire will fare in the same size? Even off road a 29"er should be quite strong enough to last if built properly. 3.While 26 inch tires are standard and are widely available in several different tread patterns, the 29"er will be on par with that in about a year or so.

Okay, so advantage #1 is dubious and #'s 2 and 3 are either false or you can disallow them because you are using a 29 inch front wheel on the 50/50 bike anyway. If 29" rear wheels are not good enough for reasons #2 and #3 then the same should apply for the fronts, no? Anyway, the advantages of the 29"er rear far out weigh these "advantages" of the 26 inch rear.

Tomorrow, I'll cover some more thoughts I have on these 50/50 bikes and reveal my plans for testing my theories.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Little Shop of (Bike) Horrors

The shop I work at is in full swing with early spring tune ups and repairs. From time to time, we will get to work on some stuff that is just amazing. Then there are the horror stories. You know.........cases of extreme neglect, components that are not right, crash damage, that sort of thing.

Todays picture, which is a bit fuzzy, sorry! Well, it's a Trek 5200 bottom bracket shell. The grease was so contaminated with water and dirt that it had turned into an awful, gooey spooge. This picture shows you what I saw after the removal of the cartridge, Octalink bottom bracket, which itself was rusty and completely shot. The crankset banged around and was so loose that I advised this customer to replace the bottom bracket, which is why I was in there in the first place.

The upshot came; however, when I leveled out the bike on the stand. There was about a pint of water that gushed out of the bottom bracket shell! It just vomited out right at my feet! Amazing stuff, I tell you. The bike is ridden in all sorts of conditions and was pretty dirty and unkempt when it came in to us. Apparently, this fellow either rides in a lot of rain or uses a high pressure washer to clean his bike. At any rate, this bike had more water in it than any bike I've worked on before. (My vote is for the high pressure washer)

So, take care of your bike by never using high pressure water spray, and take the time to clean it by hand. It's the best, least costly, and important maintanence that you can perform on your bikes. Remember: A clean bike is a happy bike! It's an easy way to avoid today's horror story!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Tale of Madness and Long Bike Rides

I've been asked several times by different folks to write a story about Trans Iowa. The thing was, where do I start? There are so many angles to a story like this. It's pretty hard to find focus when you are mired in the middle of it, like I am. When you are so close to the story, it's like having a girl friend that you think is cool, but all your friends can see that she is sooo wrong for you. (Didn't you just hate it when you found out later?) Anyway, I digress..............

So, I was finally persuaded to write about this Trans Iowa mess. Cory at The Biking Hub suggested I try it for his site. The results can be found there today. It's just the first chapter of the story, so you'll have to check back every week for more. Maybe I'll do a more narrative type of piece on Trans Iowa someday. I do have loads of stories from the racers, and my recollections on the hard drive to draw from. Hmm.......I'll have to give that some more thought after T.I.V2!

Give that a read over at The Biking Hub, and let me know what ya'all think after a couple of weeks. If there is enough interest for more, I'll be even more motivated to put out a crusty, rustic yarn on that madness called Trans Iowa.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Well, the Sea Otter race and exposistion are over again for another year. It seems that with it's perfect timing of about six months after Interbike that alot of companies are choosing to introduce new products at the popular event. Shimano unvieled it's new XTR group, SRAM unvieled it's production road groups, and several bicycle manufacturers were on hand to show some "mid-year" model introductions. The over riding theme of the weekend; however, was the slew of 29"ers that were shown. This is really interesting when you consider that the news of the weekend has Shimano competing for attention with a bunch of big wheeled bikes. Then there was the racing.........crickets.........which wasn't very well covered, or was just not that interesting- you choose. I didn't see many headlines on it.

The numbers of new introductions of 29"ers was surprising. Here is a short rundown of what got shown: Niner Bikes full suspension R.I.P.9, Orbea's Alma 29"er, Redline's Monocog 29"er, Salsa's 25th anniversary "El Mariachi" steel hardtail, and Haro with two bikes, the SS Mary single speed and geared. That's alot of big wheeled goodness all at once!

So, what does it all mean? What is going on here with all these new 29" wheeled bikes getting all the "media time"? I had posted last year about how 29"ers were about to hit the "big time". (appologies to Mr. Gabriel!) Maybe this is what is going on. Perhaps the days of people saying, "What?", when 29"ers are mentioned are coming to an end. What with all these new models, and more tires and other 29"er specific gear coming later in the year, what other pssibility is there? 29"ers are not just here to stay, but dare I say it, they are poised to become as mainstream as 26 inch wheel bikes. (!)

Your Inbred Update: My 29"er Inbred is now a "rolling chassis"! I got the wheels finished with the tires and tubes mounted to the wheel set. The saddle, seat post, temporary stem, and handle bars are mounted. I also re-strung some Nokon cable housing in blue and silver annodized colors for brake housing. Ever strung beads before? ......for full length housing? Yeah, my days as a jeweler came in handy there! It was like stringing pearls! Anyway, I've got all kinds of annodized bits going on there. With the addition of the Avid BB-7's, I should be about ready to ride the thing. That'll happen later in the week when I can pay for the brakes! (It's payday on Thursday! Wahoo!)

Trans Iowa Course Update: Well, we got some early week rains last week which made the course even worse for awhile. Since then it's been relatively dry, with high, gusty winds. That should have the gravel pretty dry and fast by now. The B roads will take a bit longer to recover. Fortunately, the weather looks to be dry and warm for at least a few more days. I hope to actually get out on course shortly before the event. I'll try to update regularly right up to the event. 19 days and counting!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

R.I.P.9 Pictures and Impressions

Here are a couple of the full profile shots that Chris Sugai of Niner Bikes sent me yesterday. This is the new R.I.P.9 full suspension 29"er that should be available mid-summer. These two bikes are production protos.

With that in mind, here are my initial impressions of the platform.

Clearly, Chris and steve have been very busy with this bike. The proto-type shown at Interbike back in October of '05 is vastly different than this bike. The overall design is similar, but all aspects of the design have been refined a great deal.

It would appear that the design is reminiscent of the recent offerings by Giant, Iron Horse, and Intense. The suspension is a multi pivot affair with cartridge bearing pivots for longevity. I can also see that the top and down tubes have been placed to give maximum clearance to the rider and suspension fork crowns respectively. The planned travel is 4.5 inches which should be right inbetween the current "XC-ish" and "All mountain" 29"er offerings. The original proto was meant for six inches of travel, but they retracted that. Perhaps when a truly long travel front fork for 29"ers becomes available we will see that idea resurrected? Hmm.......

Chris at Niner has indicated to me that they would rather not release any details on the R.I.P.9 until it's actually available. Their may be a few minor tweaks yet before actual production begins. Also, they are very concerned about piracy, which I feel is legitimate considering these bikes are breaking new ground, being 29 inch full suspension bikes and all. So, all my meanderings are merely observations, okay?

Okay, so what we have here is a great platform for all day rides and endurance events. Probably not a hucking machine. No, more of a fun trail bike, can do the minor drops, catch some air, and give you greater control over your riding experience. Hmm......isn't that the type of riding most of us do? If this bike performs as such, has a reasonable light weight, and is affordable then Niner will have hit a home run here, in my opinion. Tall order to fill, but I know that Chris and Steve are up to the challenge. I can't wait to see these bikes hit the trail! It'll be interesting to see how they perform in real world conditions.

Friday, April 07, 2006

"Ted-terview": Chris & Steve of Niner Bikes: Part II

Today I am posting the rest of the text from the Interview of Chris and Steve of Niner Bikes. Once again, I thank them for participating in this and for being class guys.

1. The new full suspension model had to be one of the more difficult models in your line to develop and get it right. Tell us why you made the choices you made and some of the challenges involved in getting a full suspension 29”er right.

Chris – Yes the r.i.p. 9 is the most difficult bike we have made so far. Steve has been working on this design for quite sometime now. We have made 3 generations of prototypes so far and are refining our final production version. Steve and I have had the luxury of riding many different suspension designs over the years so we both know what we like and dislike in suspension design. The trick is getting as many of those features in a workable design.

Steve – full suspension is TOUGH! Especially with a 29er. Chris and I have definite geometry parameters we want all Niner’s to have, and putting that into a full suspension frame and getting everything to clear is really, really difficult. Front derailleurs, tire clearance, short chainstays, shock mounting and MOST importantly, linkage angles and locations to insure that the suspension movement is dialed is really challenging. I’ve been developing this frame since we started Niner, and that might sound like a long time, but the stakes are high, and we won’t be happy until the bike is perfect. The bike we’re showing at Sea Otter should be our last prototype.

2. Tell us how you envision the future of 29 inch bicycles and how Niner fits into that.

Chris- I have ridden bikes for almost my whole life and really believe that the 29er wheel is the best thing to come to the mountain bike market in a long time. I think the market will flip and 29er’s will be the more common wheel size vs 26 wheels. Niner plans on building the best possible 29er bikes we know how and giving the consumer and bike shops the best service we can provide. There will always be a place for a company like that.

Steve – I just want to make sure Niner is on the cutting edge, always pushing the envelope in design. I want Niner to be the leaders of the 29er industry and I want our customers to know that we are there for them. It gives me great pleasure to hear firsthand how much somebody enjoys riding one of our products.

3. On your welcome page for the Niner Bikes website it says, “Our goal is to build a complete line of 29er mountain bikes and parts and everything we do is dedicated to this end”. You have almost completed your line of bikes, but do you have any plans for more 29 inch specific parts?

Chris- We have not completed our line of bikes. There will be more models to come. Steve and I are also looking at where we can make 29er parts that are beneficial to the 29er rider. We have some designs in place and are deciding if we should move forward with them or not.

Steve – Like we said, we’re never done, and we’ll never just sit back and relax. Chris and I are always asking each other “what can be done better?”

4. Several objections are raised concerning 29 inch wheeled bikes, but I’d like to focus on the sizing for smaller riders. Chris, you are a shorter rider. Does the shorter mountain bike rider need to look elsewhere for a mountain bike? Are there some changes that could be made, in your opinion, for the 29”er to better accommodate the shorter riders out there?

Chris- Yes being 5’ 6” is a little challenging to build a 29er bike around. I think riders down to 5’ 3” can still benefit from a 29er wheel. Below that a 26 inch wheel will probably be better. Some will dispute this and hey if you still want to ride a 29er more power to ya!

Steve – There is a definite cut off point to height for a 29er. Right now I would say it’s about 5’4”. If you build a dedicated frame around a non suspension corrected rigid front fork, you could probably get that height down a bit, but it’s pushing it. Everybody talks about fork rake and getting a longer rake would allow for a slacker head tube angle which would allow for shorter top tubes without having toe overlap, but the handlebar height is still an issue, and the shorter you go the worse this gets. At some point, a 26” wheel just makes more sense.

9. There are some folks who say that there are not enough choices in tires, forks, and wheels for 29”ers, so they are not interested. Do you see this changing soon? What types of products are on the horizon for those that are waiting for more choices?

Chris- There are lots of tire choices now and even more in the very near future. The tire manufactures have started to climb on board and get behind the 29er revolution. WTB and Kenda are leading the charge and have some great tires coming. There are now more companies that offer a 29er tire than those who don’t which is a big change from just 2 years ago. Forks are a big investment for the manufactures and most are busy with the big hit market at the moment. Rock Shox Reba and WB forks are as good or better than anything the others can produce so I don’t see a problem with fork selection now. We would like to see a 5 and 6 inch fork being made.

Steve – This is really turning around and as far as tires go, there are really a lot of choices. I think more fork manufactures will be climbing on board as they see this market rapidly rising. Nobody wants to be caught off the back. We aren’t really at liberty to say what’s coming down the pipeline, but let’s just say a lot of companies are approaching us about the market.

That's it for the interview! Look for some pics and my take on the R.I.P.9 in a post this weekend!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Ted-terview": Chris & Steve of Niner Bikes

The Sea Otter race and expo are in full swing at the moment out in soggy California. I was contacted by Chris of Niner Bikes who wanted me to come out and join Steve and himself to see off the debut of the new full suspension 29"er that was dubbed the r.i.p. 9. Unfortunately, being the poor shop rat that I am, I wasn't able to pony up for the trip out to the shindig. However; the fine fellows of Niner Bikes did submit to doing an interview via e-mail with me about their company, their philosophy on 29"ers, the new full suspension platform, and their love of bikes in general. They even are going to send me some "official" pictures of the new r.i.p.9, which should show up sometime tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the first half of the interview here. The full text will be appearing on The Biking Hub soon. Be sure to check that out when you can!

1. G-Ted My own introduction to Niner Bikes was through your sponsorship of the 29”er Forum on Was this your primary target for your marketing? Has your relationship with the web community been a profitable one?

Chris- We felt the best way to reach the 29er community was through the mtbr site. I (Chris) have spent a lot of time on the boards reading and learning from others. When I got my first 29er it was because of all the talk on the boards. It has worked out well for us and we hope for all those who read and contribute to the mtbr community.

Steve- This was an awesome opportunity to really hit our target audience, and we’re really proud of being able to sponsor the forum. It’s obviously a perfect match for us, since 29” wheels are the only thing we do, and we love what the mtbr posters bring to the passion of the sport.

2. G-Ted: Niner Bikes didn’t just come out of thin air. Tell us how your passion for cycling turned into a company solely focused on the 29 inch wheeled bicycle.

Chris- I have had a love affair with bikes since I was a little kid. I used to race BMX when I was a teen. I used to spend all my allowance on bike parts like Araya rims, Phil wood hubs and doing mods to my bike like filing the pedals for better starts. I went to mountain bikes after that. My first real mountain bike was a Cannondale fully rigid. It was purple and got stolen.

Steve- I’ve done a lot of things in the bicycling industry, and product managing/designing was definitely the best fit for me, but I wasn’t really happy working for ‘the man’. So as Chris and I started brainstorming about starting our own company, it just really clicked. I have to say, his passion for the 29” wheel really won me over, and it wasn’t long before I was converted in an irreversible way.

3. G-Ted: With the business savvy you guys bring to the table, wouldn’t it be fair to say that focusing only on 29”ers is quite risky, or maybe even suicidal for a new business?

Chris – Well if you believe in something you just put your heart and soul into it. I truly believe that 29er’s are better than 26er’s. I am so confident that is all we are going to focus on. We will see in 5 years if it was a suicidal decision or not.

Steve – I don’t see it as that much of a risk. Chris and I knew that this was the right time and right place for this to just LAUNCH! The way I see it, it would have been more risky to come out with another 26” wheel bike in a market that’s totally oversaturated. In the 29” world, we can really stand out as the company shaping “The Big Revolution”.

4. G-Ted: Niner Bikes has become one of the fastest growing brands in the cycling business in a very short period of time. How does one keep that momentum going over the long haul?

Chris – Well I don’t know if we are the fastest growing brand, but thank you if you think so. We are constantly working on new products for the 29er market. There are lots of areas for us to cover so I think we have our work cut out for ourselves over the next few years.

Steve – Yeah, thanks for the compliment. It’s pretty overwhelming at times, and luckily for us we love what we do. We just have to keep riding and keep innovating. I don’t think that you should ever just sit back and relax, or next thing you know, the market will blow by you.

My deepest appreciation goes out to Chris and Steve of Niner Bikes for even offering the opportunity to me to come out to Sea Otter and cover their debut of the r.i.p.9. I regret not being able to do that, but hey! ( pockets inside out) All I got here is lint, pal! I really appreciate the extra effort that Steve and Chris gave to this e-mail interview! They didn't have to do it, but they did. Thanks! (bowing low towards the west)

Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is

I saw something on awhile back that I thought was really intriguing. A fellow had posted that he was going to start a bike shop which is no big deal. However; he also was going to simultaneously launch a webstore dedicated solely to selling 29"ers and related product. He had a link in the post to a blog, so I checked it out. Being a bike shop employee myself, I was taken in by this fellows enthusiasm, so I linked him on my blog. Through commenting on his site, we exchanged e-mails and I discovered that George Wisell also likes to play guitar! ( Okay, that rates pretty high on my scale of coolness!) Well, now George is up and running in his "brick and mortar" and just recently, he publicly announced his opening of the webstore too.

As you might have read in the press release, George fell in love with 29"ers right after his first ride. Obviously, living where he does in Vermont, he has a pretty good idea of what makes a good trail bike. To see him dedicate his entire business to 29"ers is rather telling I think. Call him a zealot if you want to, but I think ol' George is on to something here. People like George are passionate about bikes. They want to have the best experience possible everytime that they sling a leg over their machine. If someone like George finds a tool that does the job better, then why shouldn't he, or anyone else for that matter, be excited about that? Now he's sharing that passion and the tools to make your experience a good one on the world wide web for all to enjoy. Zealot? I don't know about that. I prefer to think he is smarter than your average bear, but that's just me! (ha ha!)

Anyway, I'm glad to see that George's ideas have come to see the light of day and I wish him all the best in his business. I don't get paid for this, by the way, I just think it's really cool that somebody believes in the format so strongly that they stake their entire business on the idea. Being a "29"er nutcase" myself, I thought I would give you all out there a glimpse of the future, (muwah-ha-ha-ha!) and say "Good on ya mate!" to George Wisell and all at .

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Going Too Fast?

I got an e-mail from a company trying to sell me a training plan the other day. Amongst the selling points was a bit of wisdom that I thought about. It seems to ring true with me, so I thought I'd share it with you all here. (Don't worry! I won't be "spamming" you, and I promise I'm not selling anything!)

The point was being made that as Spring begins to make it more appealing to go for extended rides outdoors, you must be aware of your tendency towards over doing it. You know, it gets to be about 60 degrees out, you can shed that jacket for the first time in ages, and you've got the afternoon off. After three or four hours go by, you come home feeling great. A couple days later, it's the weekend and your buddies call. Hammerfest! As Mr. 24 would say, you ride yourself retarded! So what?

Well, you are stressing your body to a high degree in a short period of time without a proper buildup, that's what. It's possible that you will burn out later in the year. It's probably also true that you are not training in the correct zone, and that you don't have enough base miles in yet. The best thing to do is slow down, check that enthusiasm, and discipline yourself to ramp up the intensity. Don't go from zero to sixty! (If you know what I mean)

Now, granted, I'm no training guru, but this makes sense to me. Obviously, if you've been on a rigid, disciplined training regimen all winter long, (as Mr. 24 has), you can probably skip this advice. But for the rest of us knaves and peasants, it might be good advice. Take what you can from that!

Reaction to Give Peace a Chance: I wanted to acknowledge all the encouraging comments recieved from yesterdays posts. Thank you all! I was not expecting any sort of reaction of that nature. I was just merely trying to point out that, yes I was upset, but that when we are provoked by sensless comments, it might be best to not react in like manner. Anyway, I'm flattered that you all took the time to comment, and I wanted to publicly acknowledge that. Now,..............back to blogging!

Sea Otter: I'm supposed to be getting something in to post about a product introduction for Sea Otter this weekend. I haven't heard back fom my contact yet, but hopefully that will come through and I will have something to present. At any rate, the weekend looks to be a big one for new gear and of course, racing! Check here for anything worthwhile from the mountain biking world.

Well, it's almost mountainbiking! Paris-Roubaix that is. It's this weekend ( I think) and if it's wet in Europe, then it's like mountain biking on skinny tires! This has to be one of my favorite road races.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Give Peace a Chance

There are some things that I don't even really want to write about, but at times, I feel prompted to say something. This is one of those times and yes, I'm going to write some stuff that maybe I shouldn't! We'll see!

It all started when I began to start to submit articles for The Biking Hub , a website dedicated to the mountain biker. My write ups were about introducing folks to the concepts, advantages, and disadvantages of 29"ers. To be honest, my articles are probably a bit sanitized from my usual rustic flair that I use here. So, no inflammatory remarks, nothing like that. ( Which I don't think I do much of here either!) Anyway, there is a comment section after each article. I began getting comments from a certain poster over a week ago. Just one random comment, which was a little negative and provoking. Then after last weeks article, the commenter was downright nasty, referring to me as being "egotistical and pompous". (Note: the comment was deleted by the webmaster and the commenter was banned) There was more to it, but I think we all know what a troll is.

So, what's the point? Well, I could have gotten upset. I could have ranted back at him in the comment section. Both would have been wastes of my time. The thing is, you just can't respond, because that's what the commenter wants. It's like verbal terrorism. I just won't stoop to that level. Nope, not gonna do that! If someone wants to have a calm discussion about my views without resorting to childishness, I'm all for it.

What's going on here? I think it's one of two things. The commenter is bothered by what I write because it's challenging his/ her empirical viewpoint of mountain biking, or they are just picking a fight to pick a fight. Maybe both! All I know is that you aren't making a difference in life if there isn't a reaction to what you are doing. Sometimes that reaction is negative. Sometimes it's positive. At least I'm impacting someone to the point of acting, although it wasn't my intent to motivate a hater!

Well, for whatever reason, I hope you are getting something out of this blog that's a benefit to you. But please.................don't be a hater!

Nobody gets anything good out of that!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Rain Check

If you live in the Mid West, you probably had your ride shortened, rearranged, or cancelled altogether by the rains that swept through the area. I'm no different. I didn't get nearly the riding in that I had wanted to, not that my body would have put up with it. A strange soreness in the muscles was felt on Sunday, so I relaxed all day instead of riding. Not that I missed much. It was miserable here most of the day anyway. By the sounds of things outdoors right now, the wind is roaring out of the North West, which should make up for any lost riding yesterday by putting the hurt on the commute to work this morning. Thanks...........I guess?

Inbred Update: I did manage to get some progress made on the Inbred last night. I installed the Chris King pink headset sinister style, ( You'll have to wait for the pictures if you don't understand) The crazy thing was that I was able to install the headset cups by hand. Hi-yaah! One sharp blow on each and they were in! I also got some measurements taken with the wheels on her to find out what I need for a stem. Actually, I have one that would do the job, but it's a painted stem in electrical cord orange. Not going to happen! I'm ordering a black Salsa stem in the same length and rise to use instead. I've agonized over the handle bar set up way to long. I wanted to go with a Titec H-Bar, ( not available yet) or another Midge bar, ( $60.00 retail), but I decided that I'd go with a bar I already have. I've even used it last year on an eight hour ride with no complaints, so I'm going with the Old Titec 118 titanium flat bar. At least I can use it until I decide on something else, or my options open up a little more. One thing I do know, that titanium bar is smoooooth! Finally, I've been reading with some interest about saddle choices and the SLR by Selle Italia keeps coming up. I'm going to check into that, but the front runner is still the Fizik Arione right now for this bike.

Nothing too exciting today! Look for some Sea Otter product release news later in the week. If anything rant-worthy comes up, I'll be on that, too. Inbred Updates, Trans Iowa news, and local race and training news will all be featured coming up soon as well. Have a great day!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

And Now For Some "True" Stories!

Trans Iowa pictures for you. Just the "B" roads . As you can see, the roads are saturated with water. No riding here for me! The gravel was soft and squishy in spots. And to think, it rained most of the night after these photos were taken!
This gravel "B" road is like a bad driveway!
I actually drove this mile section in my car, but it was pretty sketchy! Big ruts, mudholes and lots of undulations here. The condition of most of the roads was "okay". It was wet and soft everywhere. We got more rain last night which is only compounding the situation. More traffic on these already soft roads will rut out the surfaces that were smooth most of the winter. We are forecast to get more rains throughout the week, so it's going to get ugly. After that, it's supposed to dry out a bit. It will take a week to really dry things out, ( my estimate) so if it does stay dry, then T.I. won't be too affected by all of this. Except that if it stays dry, the road graders will have plenty of time to spread the fresh gravel where ever they need too! In fact, I did see a few miles of that already.

Can we come out from hiding? Whew! I'm sure glad that it's April 2nd. All those contrived, lame, and boring "press releases" that come out are not fooling anybody. And then there's the stuff they pass off as press releases on April 1st! Give it a rest guys, nobody is laughing anymore.

Build it! I am descending into the bowels of Guitar Ted Labratories to assemble some more of the Inbred today. I hope to present an update on that soon. I originally had hoped to have this rig on the trails by now, but certain parts delays have extended the finish date out a ways. I'm still hoping to run this bike at the Dirty Kanza in May, so we'll see.

Is Tom Boonen human? The guy is the second coming of Johan Museuew, or so they say. I sure hope Tom's not an emulator of all of Johan's practices! That would be very unfortunate. However; it sure is amazing that this fellow has dominated the early spring classics like he has. The guy has rock star status in his home country, and a very powerful team behind him. I say, "Enjoy it while it lasts!" These things tend to come and go very quickly. At least he hasn't suffered the "curse of the rainbow jersey"! Whoops! Hope I didn't jinx him!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Elite Level Tri Event.....In Iowa?

I don't normally get into the subject of triathalons here, but you have to be scratching your head on this one. An elite level, full on tri event in Des Moines, Iowa? Wow! It's a World Tri championship and Olympic qualifier! That's just plain nutty. All these world class atheletes decending upon Iowa in the middle of June. Hope they like humidity and corn!

Anyway, that's pretty cool for Iowa to land that sort of event, yet it's an unbelieveable thing to a native Iowan like myself. I guess I'm just used to our rustic, rural type of viewpoint on things. I'm sure all the Iowa triathelete community is giddy this morning about the news.

.......then again, it is April Fools Day!

Who knows............