Monday, April 30, 2007

Recovery and A Bit More...........

Rest is good! Especially after 40 hours of no sleepy time! I feel disheveled but I'm on a much higher functioning level than yesterday!

I forewarned you yesterday that my post was written in a no sleep haze, so it comes off a bit gruff perhaps. It might not be wise to post in that state, but there it is. At any rate, it's interesting from the standpoint of how it is to be done with such a monumental task at the point of complete mental exhaustion. I'll add that on the drive home I went through several emotions including extreme sadness, rage, quiet reflection, relief, total mental disorientation, fear, anxiety, and happiness. That drive home certainly was one of the weirder experiences of the whole weekend. Then to top it all off, my wife had to visit the emergency room because she felt so weak and had pains in her chest! (She's okay, by the way.)

See the final overall results of Trans Iowa here.

Okay, I see the pictures are starting to trickle in. The Endurance Forum on has a new Trans Iowa thread. Check it out.

I'll be posting some stories and thoughts there later, but for now.................I'm taking a break!

Thanks for the great times and support everyone!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Preliminary Race Report: T.I.V3

Note: This was written on the 38th hour of no sleep, so be aware!

One word: Beautiful!

Beautiful as in weather, scenery, rides put in, and times had. If you were on the roster for Trans Iowa V3 and didn't come, go ahead and kick your self now. Really! It was that good!

First of all, the weather was more like late May than late April. Highs near 70 the first day, no clouds, and only a stiff wind from the North West in the afternoon, which really helped dry out the roads. Today the temps soared into the 80's before the curtain dropped at 2pm. Yes, even the B level Maintenance roads were no big deal. There was some freshly laid gravel, but that wasn't the norm.

The battles won and lost on the road were tremendous. The stories will be great, I'm sure.

64 took the start at 4am. Saturday morning. 21 finished. Ira Ryan took the prize again. Joe Kucharski won the Single Speed class, representing Michigan. (On a 29"er, no less!) We even had one fixed gear finisher!

I'd post full results, but my Race Notebook came up missing!

The event went off without a hitch, due to the great support of some fine volunteers. Thanks to Redgie, Ron, Jeff, Rob, and Marty.

A special Thanks goes out to Zach Dundas, who made the 34 hour ordeal that much more bearable.

The Awards Ceremonies were rather shoddy and poorly done. For that, I appologize. I only will say in my defence that I'd been without sleep for 35 plus hours and wasn't on a very high functioning level.

Okay, overall this was the very best of the three T.I.'s so far...............and perhaps ever!

Not going to make any rash decisions, but if I had to say now.............

That's it, I'm done with this. Let others tell the tale. I will only say that I have notes this time so history revisionists, be forewarned! (You know who you are!)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Isn't It About Time Already?!!

It's about time we got this thing over with. It's been a difficult week. I shouldn't probably comment any further on it, so I'll just say that I'm so ready to get through this to the other side.

Things are coming together, miraculously I might add. I am amazed at some of the things that have been happening.

My volunteers are awesome! If you are in this event and get to meet some of them, thank them profusely! I actually have had to turn down help! How often does that happen in this type of situation?

Our sponsors have always been there from the beginning. I am still blown away by the support we get for putting on Trans Iowa in terms of prizing and event support. Thanks a bunch! Special shout out to T-Bock's in Decorah for a last minute bail out to provide the room for the pre and post event activities.

My family: The whole clan was stuffing race bags tonight. Both my 6 year old daughter and 3.5 year old boy were in the assembly line. Child labor? Well, they did it for me, and that's awesome. I got alot further ahead because of my family's support.

Jeff Kerkove: Couldn't do it without him. He's busy with his new gig, and won't be here, but that doesn't mean that he hasn't been doing everything he can behind the scenes. Thanks Buddy!

And you guys out there in the "web-o-sphere". I got a half dozen monster cookies from Rich in NorDak for my gravel road touring this weekend today. I have recieved several kind thanks on the blog this week, and even some inspirational e-mails that have made my day. Thanks to all of you: you guys are great!

So, enough with all the credits. It's time to crank up this beast one more time. Trans Iowa V3 is about to be engraved on the minds and souls of about a hundred guys and gals. The sun looks set to shine, the moon will be holding court in the starry vault, and breezes should prove to be favorable. No excuses! It's man against gravel. Let's see what happens....................

..............shall we?

(Note: No more posts here until Sunday evening when I will give a preliminary Event Report. Until then, catch all the Trans Iowa action by listening to the live audio updates posted at Click on the link entitled "Trans Iowa Audio Update" on the front page there for the latest post. See ya on the other side!)

Late Night Printing Factory

Still up printing because of the goofed up cue sheets for the first part of Trans Iowa. I've got 20 more sheets to print and 100 more to cut and trim. Whew!

Then it's on to other small details like stuffing race bags, sorting out prizing, getting my crap together for a weekend spent inside a car and on gravel roads, and other such stuff. Can't forget the 18 pack o Red Bull!

I'm sorta loopy right now. Tedious, repetitive tasks do that to me. The brain goes into "off" mode and random thoughts and actions begin to take hold. Hey, like Mr. 24 always said, "It's all training!" I suppose he's right. I've got major sleepless time coming up so this stretch of 21 hours today is piddly winks!

Allright, don't feel bad for me, I brought this on myself! I will survive, if I can keep some shred of sanity through all of this!

On a good note: It hasn't rained in about six hours now!

Check out the preliminary race post at Click the "Trans Iowa Audio Update" link on the front page.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Deluge-Vu": Gettin' Wet Out There!

Well, if you are a typical Trans Iowa contestant, you already know that Iowa is getting dumped on with rain. I think it rained for a good 15 hours yesterday and it wasn't just drizzling either! The thing is, we're supposed to get up to two more inches in the next two days before it's over. Combined with low temperatures, (for this time of year) and no sunshine and you have the makings for a wet, sloppy start to Trans Iowa.

They are forecasting no rain after Friday morning, but with a cloudy sky and lower temps, we will be assured to have less than optimal road conditions in several places on the course. I know it won't be as bad as last year, but it won't be great either. The one thing we have going for us in North East Iowa is the hills, which help drain the roads much more quickly than the roads in Western Iowa did last year. It was pretty flat where the roads were the worst then.

Of course, there are flat sections too, so we aren't totally out of the woods yet with potentially water soaked gravel or softer road beds. On the good side, we're supposed to see sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 60's by around noon Saturday, so that will help to expedite the drying out of the gravel hopefully. Of course, if there is a healthy wind, that will dry things out even faster, but that brings a different sort of difficulty, so you trade one for the other.

Regardless, it's safe to say that the weather is playing out it's role in Trans Iowa again. It's always one of the bigger factors in deciding the fate of riders in this event. This year looks to be no different!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cannondale 29"er Rumors and More

Cannondale has a single 29"er model this year in the F-29 hardtail but that looks to change in '08. It would appear that the aluminum smiths in Bedford are actually going to do the single speed version after all. I had heard rumors that it was going to come out this year yet, but then I heard plans were scrapped on that. Now it appears the 1 FG 29"er will become a reality for the '08 model year after all.

Added to that is a newly tweaked Caffeine frame for the F-29. The '07 model had minimal clearance at the seat stay bridge for fat 29"er rubber. The '08 model has rectified that problem by having the seat stays reshaped and the bridge welded in differently to optimize clearance for up to a 2.5" tire. Nice! Plus it seems that the top tubes are going to actually reflect the lengths on the 26"er Caffeines. The '07 models all measured out too short in the effective top tube.

Look for at least the 1 FG 29"er, the tweaked F-29 frame in at least two spec levels, and possibly one other model. A Rush 29"er, perhaps? Or a Taurine carbon hardtail 29"er? Hmmm..........

More: Trans Iowa will once again be posting live updates throughout the weekend of the event. Unlike last year, you won't be getting those here, but you will get them at Karl of Ride424 has graciously invited me to post up my reports via an audio link that should appear on the front page of his site. Click on the link to hear the latest from "Trans Iowa Radio" and keep tabs on the 30 plus hours of gravel grinding mayhem. I will post up a pre-race outlook soon, so look for that before the event.

The roster attrition continues. We're down to 101 guys and gals as of this morning. I fully expect that we will be under 100 before the start, but with good weather forecasted for this weekend, I doubt we'll see the numbers of "no-shows" that we did last year. My guess is we'll have 90 plus at the start line. It all works out in the end, doesn't it? 126 guys and gals seemed like alot when we decided to let everyone in, but Jeff and I figured that we'd end up with about what we'll have. Looks like we were right. At least we're right about something! Ha ha!

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Final Lead Up To T.I.V3

This week will be focused primarily on the lead up to Trans Iowa. The situation couldn't be more intense, as a last minute snafu in the cue sheets has me scrambling to get things squared away before Friday when they are handed out. That and all the co-ordination between the various parties that are volunteering to lend me a hand on this edition. If you are helping me out and are reading this, thanks to you in advance! The help means alot to me!

I also want to acknowledge all the thanks expressed to me and Jeff for putting this event on. It doesn't go unnoticed here.

Okay, with that said, here are a few observations...........

Weather: The big "if" in the event. Right now it looks to be as about as good as it gets for late April. That is; temps in the 70's, sunny, and probably windy but not gale force as in the first T.I. Don't rejoice just yet! There is plenty of time for all of that to change in the next day or two.

The rain we got and the rain we look to get tomorrow will be a huge benefit to the riders as it will pack down the dusty powder and make for a cleaner ride. Of course, that means the "B" level roads will be a mess! Oh well!

The Route: I get a laugh out of some of you guys prognosticating where we will be taking you on this "Big ass loop". I've skimmed the web looking at some thoughts on the route and while there are some pretty good guesses, there are even more that are waaaay off! There will be surprised people, for sure.

Danger!: One thing I'll stress at the pre-race, and I'll start harping on it now is this: Dangerous Downhills! I'm not joking either. This event will have descents that I'm sure will see riders in the 40 plus mph range. To make matters more difficult, the downhills are not straight. Most have a dog leg and a cork screw effect which puts a premium on handling skills and nerves. One in particular has a nasty off camber left hander that could spell big trouble if you aren't careful.

To compound matters even further, a lot of these come in the first night section, which is a major concern to me. I know most lighting systems out there are not really set up for anything more than 20-25mph, after which you are outrunning the light and anything you see will be seen too late. For that reason I say this: It's a 324 mile event. Don't get taken out because you bombed a descent in the dark and "ate it" at mile 15! (Not that there is a descent at mile 15, but there might be!)

These descents are pretty rad, and I think there is more downhill on the first part of this T.I. than climbing. Really! Yes........there are some tough climbs, but the DH sections out number the tough climbs, at least from the seat of the "Dirty Blue Box". My favorite is the one where the road looks like it just ends on the horizon line because the descent is so steep! Makes me tense up every time I've gone over the edge in the car!

Okay, that's enough on the down hills for now. It'll be a sketchy first part for a lot of guys, and I hate to say it, but I've a feeling someone or two is going to yard sale this thing in the first couple of hours. Don't say I didn't warn you! I'll be on this subject again at the pre race meeting, so you haven't heard the end of it!

Okay, more T.I. stuff and maybe I'll manage to sneak in a 29"er bit or three this week as well!

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I was wanting to get back out to drive the final 112 miles of the Trans Iowa course this fine day, but I was entirely too exhausted. I'm still getting over a cold and today it felt as though I was in relapse mode. I got done playing at church and came home to eat. I sat down afterwards and couldn't keep my eyes open for the world. About four hours later, I woke up!

I suppose that's better than getting even sicker, and not being of any use this coming weekend. I have time to punch out the last miles on Monday or Tuesday evening at the latest and get the cues all straightened out for a last minute reprinting.

So, this week should be pretty interesting! If this all gets pulled off, I'll be soooooo relieved! This was supposed to be the easiest set up and it's turning out to be the most stressful one so far of the three I've been involved in.

Oh well! By this time next week it'll all be over with. Good or bad!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Limestone Crush

Jusy got back from driving two thirds of the T.I.V3 course and it's soooo dusty! I got covered in dust sitting in the car driving for eight hours straight. I looked like a recently unearthed mummy!

Anyway, the course is so loose and marbley that the several downhills are going to be a handful unless we see some rain this week. My Dirty Blue Box was skittering all over the place and kicking up a maelstrom of dust behind me to the point that looking out the rear view mirror was pointless. Needless to say, meeting other cars was an unnerving experience. Imagine your car on the edge of traction and not being able to see for several seconds because you were engulfed in a limestone smoke screen. was like that!

Well, another thing that came up was that I found two mismarked turns: Left instead of right on the cue, and the mileage on the first set of cues was mysteriously off within the first 10 miles of the event. Great! Now I have to redo the cue sheets! I suppose the good news is that the reast of the mileages and turns, (so far, there's still 112 miles to drive tomorrow!) are correct. The event just got 4 miles longer, in case you were wondering!

Oh well! I gotta take a short nap and then it's off to church to play in the band this weekend. More driving tomorrow afternoon. A report to follow!

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Pictures and More

I finally got a device to download my pictures from my camera. (Thanks Captain Bob!) Here we have the items that I picked up at the Trek/ Fisher product launch in Santa Cruz, California.

These are the Tubeless Ready Bontrager Dry X tires. The weight on my samples is 620 grams each, which is super light for a 2.1" 29"er tire.

The tires are mounted up and I will give a report soon.

Here is the new Rhythm Pro saddle. These are aimed at the trail rider looking for a tough, durable part that is still reasonably light weight. This saddle comes in at 260 grams, which I'd say is more than reasonable. Especially if my bum likes it, which I aim to find out soon. Stay tuned.

Here's the Rollbar multi tool that will supplant the Wrench Force one currently available. This guy is awesome! I have been using it on my bikes at home and I have instantly declared it to be the nicest multi tool in the world because it feels so good in my hands. This tool will not cause pain and feels good even when pushing hard on it while tightening various bolts on my bikes. It's got a key ring on it, which may or may not thrill you and I still wish it had a Torx tool for disc brake bolts. Other than that, I'd say it's perfect. These are due out in June. Getcher self sum! You won't use any other multi toll after using this one, really. It's that good!

Finally, here is the new Trek Incite digital computer. Digital transmission of all cycling data means no wires, stronger signal for more placement options, and no cross talk with other folks gear or interferance from high tension electrical wires.

This thing is a Pandora's box of data! It's got heart rate, altitude, cadence, and a bunch of other stuff. Better keep your eyes up the road and not on this thing! The cool feature is that the numbers, ( which I couldn't generate for the photo) are displayed in a big enough font for the speed that you can get a quick glance in and still know how fast you were going when you pipped your buddy at the stop sign. I like the temperature feature too. It's on an older Trek computer I have and that feature has tipped me off to increase water consumption more than once. I've been on rides where the starting temperature was ten degrees lower than it was an hour into the ride, and that makes a big difference sometimes in how I approach my hydration and nutrition. Anyway, this should be a fun computer to check out.

Trans Iowa course final check is going to take place tomorrow. I'll file a report on various web places. Attrition to the roster has brought us down from 126 to 108 currently. If you are not coming, please e-mail your intentions, so I don't have to lug up more than I need to Decorah. Thanks!

Next week will be mostly stuff leading up to Trans Iowa, so be prepared for some posts slanted towards that event for a bit.

Have a great weekend and ride dat bike!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fork Confusion

I've been getting messages and seeing posts on the web forums that indicate to me that there still are alot of you confused by this fork geometry thing. I thought I'd post a quick primer for you all to help remind you that this isn't as difficult as it seems at first glance. Here's the simple take on fork geometry.

It's all about fork trail. Yes, head angle does play a part, but so does wheel diameter and fork offset. The thing is, you could go nuts trying to wrap your mind around this concept. You could go on for days calculating your theoretical fork trail numbers for any given combination. Or, you could just look at it like this. Check it out.

A steeper head angle or a slacker head angle we all get. One makes your bike handle stable, slow, and floppy; like a chopper. The other makes it handle all nervous and twitchy, like a crank addict! Ha ha! No, really.......the head angle thing is easy to grasp. Now lets say you have a 29"er that was for the most part your standard issue 29"er up to now. Usually we're talking about a bike with a 71-72 degree head angle. Typically these handle somewhat sluggishly in comparison to alot of XC oriented 26"ers. The reason is that the fork offset is the same as on a 26"er and the wheel diameter, being larger, has caused the trail figure to increase over that of a 26"er XC bike.

Fork offset to the rescue! The newer crop of 29"er forks hitting the market this year have markedly longer offsets. Instead of 38-40mm, as in the past, which came from 26"er forks, we have offsets in the range of 43-50 plus millimeters. What this increase in offset does is decrease the final trail figure on your 29"er, all other things remaining the same. A smaller trail figure translates into quicker handling. Handling that closely resembles 26"er XC bikes. This happens because the less trail that you have, the twitchier the handling, and less sluggish the handling becomes. Just like increasing head angle does. The reason 29"ers don't have steeper head angles is because of toe overlap, which would be a bad, bad thing. So, offset had to be the solution to slower handling 29"ers.

Okay, got that? Any questions?

Fire away, ya'all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trek's Trail Less Traveled

The recent product launch of Trek's new "69er" line up signals a major departure from what was expected by them. Many had guessed that Trek would jump into the 29"er market to reap even more of a growing market than they could with just the Fisher brand. Instead it seems that they have struck out on a maverick course.

To be sure, the bicycles are well done. The frames are high tech marvels of aluminum, forged under hydraulic pressure into multi shaped tubes. The graphics are subtle, the paint spot on. Even one of the models drive trains reflects modern tastes in it's 1 X 9 configuration. The bikes are going to look great on dealers floors, no doubt about it.

However; these race level steeds are going to have an uphill battle right out of the box. Not only are they $1400.00 and up, but they are in a market segment that faces stiff competition from lots of traditional and big wheeled bikes. The traditional bikes; bikes that are "safe" in racers and consumers eyes and the 29"ers which have a growing number of curiosity seekers based upon years of grassroots growth and evangelism, for lack of a better term. The 69er concept enjoys none of these benefits in the eyes of the public.

Then you have the dealers, who have just barely gotten on board with the 29"er concept and are now asked to stock yet another type of mountain bike with another wheel format altogether. Getting the dealers on board will be a challenge. See Gary Fisher circa 2002 for a great example of how dealers have traditionally been slow to accept a new format in mountain bikes.

Finally, you are looking at a concept largely driven by one company that has a minimal existing support base and a huge lack of understanding by most of the mountain biking public. Not to mention the fact that history doesn't paint a very bright picture for Trek, judging from the failed attempts of the past to bring mixed wheel formats to the mainstream. All one can say now is, "what if ?" What if Trek had introduced a 29"er? I'm guessing it would have been wildly successful right out of the box.

The 69er? All I can say is, "God bless it's pointy little head!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Not Saying It Will, But....... Forecast: Days 11-15Forecast

Friday, Apr 27
High: 65 °F RealFeel®: 59 °F

RainyFriday Night, Apr 27
Low: 33 °F RealFeel®: 18 °F
Colder with rain mixing with snow and sleet

Saturday, Apr 28
High: 54 °F RealFeel®: 42 °F
Windy and turning colder with rainSaturday Night, Apr 28
Low: 31 °F RealFeel®: 19 °F
Cold with considerable cloudinessForecast Details

Sunday, Apr 29
High: 54 °F RealFeel®: 46 °F
Periods of rainSunday Night, Apr 29
Low: 32 °F RealFeel®: 30 °F
Rain at times

These things have a way of changing, so don't worry


Getting Back In Gear

While I'm back, I am not really back, if that makes any sense. You know, the whole trip thing really discombopulates the mind. Oh yeah......the body ain't so great either! "Jet legs" is how Mr 24 puts it I think. Anyway, I know I won't be right for a few days. And the cold I got isn't helping either. (groan!)

So, enough belly achin'! On with the show. I've got lots of new stuff from the trip to share with you. I wish I could post pictures, but I haven't been able to track down my cable for the digi-cam yet in all the confusion of unpacking. Wouldn't you know it, but I think I got everything else home and found but that. Ahhh.......what are you going to do? I suppose I'll just list the stuff off for now and hope I find that dratted cable later!

Tires are here for the Bontrager Tubeless Ready System. Dry X is the model name, but even the Bontrager guys groan at the moniker, since it's "pigeon holing" a fine all round type tire tread pattern. I'd have to agree. It's on par with an Ignitor, which I feel is another all arounder that works very well in lots of varied conditions/ terrain. The nice thing is, both my samples weighed in at 620 grams a piece! That's pretty light, and set up tubeless should be really light. A very noticeable weight loss should be a great thing on my 29"ers wheel performance.

Then there is a new saddle called the Rhythm Pro. It's got a modified Bontrager saddle shape, sort of an evolution of the old Selle San Marco Bontrager saddle, if you will. It has hollow CroMoly rails and weighs in at 260 grams. The edges are Kevelar to prevent scuffing and it has some nice contrasting red stiching against the black cover.

I also have a new Trek digital transmitting wireless computer. It has heart rate, cadence,altitude, and temperature besides all the other functions you would expect from a cycling computer. The transmission for all of these functions, being digital and not analog, will help the head pick up a stronger signal and allow the freedom of more mounting choices. It's not affected by high tension electrical wires and shouldn't be affected by "cross talk" from your buddies heart rate monitor, since it's transmitting on a discreet channel.

Finally, there is the Bontrager "Roll Bar" multi tool, which is really cool for one reason. It hasn't got any sharp or uncomfortable edges. This is good when you are putting maximum leverage into some pesky loose bolt on your bike. My mits say, "Thank you".

Okay, that's it. I wish I had some pictures to show you, but they are stuck in digital no man's land until I get that dratted cable back from the "Land of the Lost"!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Firmly Ensconced At The Lab Again

Okay, I made it back home. I'm tired, and beat from the day of travel. Going on hour twenty with no sleep!

Many posts to come with pictures! I haven't gotten the time to mess with that much until now, so there will be visuals!

Allright, I gotta say two things. I'm glad the snow is gone and........

............Good Night Now!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sea Otter Wrap Up

Wow! What a week. I have had a blast, but I am ready to get back home and get into the swing of things with my family, riding, and new challenges. Lots of product to talk about and experiences to share.

First off, if you want to snag some huge cans of inspiration for your next endurance outing, check into getting the DVD of this. Savor the pain, baby! This flick is a must see for you endurance freaks.

I know a lot of you will be shocked, but I actually rode a 69er while I was at Santa Cruz for the Trek/Fisher product launch. It's a bike that I've slagged here before, but I am always trying to keep the door open for discussion and though it'd be nice to take it for a spin. To be honest, I think Travis Brown, (who was there) wouldn't have had it any other way!

I thought it was great that he wanted me to test ride that rig. I did do a First Impressions on it for Twenty Nine Inches I'll have even more to say about that bike, Travis Brown, and the whole upcoming 69er thing in an upcoming post there.

And that's not all, I even rode a full suspension Hi Fi 26"er carbon rig too! What's this world coming to! I wanted to rest ride more, but between tracking down things, interviewing, and hob-nobbing between the downpours, I didn't get to. Oh well. At least Tim got a lot of quality chamois time!

Socially the trip was a blast. Did I mention the best Mexican food ever is in Watsonville, California at a tiny Mexican place where the food is guaranteed or they take your order back and give you something different?

Did I mention that the Raleigh crew is stellar at the art of conversation? Did I mention that I met and hung out with Shiggy of the famous MTB Review forums? Did I mention that I drank adult beverages with Michael Brown, now of Trek, but the former editor of Dirt Rag? Did I mention that Jeff Kerkove is a routinely recognized person at Sea Otter because of his blog? Did I mention that Mike, Chuck, and Katie at the Salsa tent were chillin' like villians? Did I mention that the Tifosi squadra was so sweet? I could go on, but I won't!

Am I name dropping? Uh Huh! You bet! All these cool people and more were at Sea Otter and super accessible to fans. It's an incredible venue and would make a super fun vacation for anybody that likes mountain bikes, road bikes, or just riding in general.

I am so glad I got to go, but now I wish I was home. Stuck in an airport in northern Kentucky all Sunday afternoon makes one homesick.

And write waaaaay too much!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

World Premeir Night

I got invited with Tim to go to the World Premier of the movie 24 Solo which documents the attempt by Chris Eatough to gain a seventh world solo 24 hour title. The event was held in a cool old theater in downtown Monterey here and was attended by all those folks that you would think should be there.

Sushi and some Indian curry/ vegetable/ nodly thing was served along with wine and margaritas. Nice! Trek also got everyone a swag bag, which was pretty cool too. I won't get into the details of the movie, you'll have to check it out for yourself. I will say that it's extremely well done, with great camera work and backround on Chris. There is even a great number of very humorous parts which make for a light hearted side to a very intense story line.

Okay, so I'm sitting there about three quarters of the way through the flick and the camera jump cuts to a silvery-gray bike with pink Industry 9 wheels cresting a rise in the course. You can't see the rider because the camera angle is so low to the ground. I got excited and turned to Karl Etzel of Ride424 and said "That's Dicky! That's Rich Dillen!" So Rich, if you read this, you have now been immortalized on film once again.

The film is great and I highly recommend it. The ending says alot, which is really the best part of the whole film. Plus, how can you not get a DVD that features a Viking with pink wheels?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sea Otter: Windy! Fun!

We made it down the coast today to Sea Otter and started doing a lot of walking. This thing is really spread out! It's sunny and looks like it should be warm, but 30mph winds full of sea air cuts right into you. I wore my new Fisher hoody all day to ward off the chills.

Lots of things to see here. I can definitely see why so many people like this venue to introduce new products. The buzz surrounding things here is palpable. People sightings are also good, as Sea Otter draws a lot of pro level athletes. Let me tell you, Ryan Trebon is a taaaalllll guy! He makes his 26"er look like a kiddie bike! I caught up with Mr. 24 and he's diggin' the Ergon thing here in Cali. He races on Sunday, but unfortunately I'm bugging out to Iowa that day, so no race cheering from me!

29"er news is big here with new CrossMax 29"er tubeless wheels from Mavic, a new 3" travel Niner FS bike called the J.E.T.9 done up in the "Official Colors of the Kerkove Nation", and several other tidbits. Find out more and see the pics on Twenty Nine Inches

I'm heading back out for round two today, so look for more Sea Otter news later!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nisene Marks State Park

Oh burns! An Iowa flatlander hit the looooong climbs of California today and, well.....something had to give!

I tried out the Trek 69er single speed first, and man! That thing was geared waaay to high for me. 32 X 16 in the mountains where you have three mile long fire road climbs to get to and out of the trails was a bit ouchy, to say the least. Then I did something really stupid and rode them again on the new carbon HiFi trail bike. Right about now I'd say that walking is an integral part of my mountain biking experience! It wasn't as bad with gears, but I'd already roached myself on the single speed, so It still hurt bad!

I'll comment on the bikes on Twenty Nine Inches, so for now let me just say that these trails were spectacular. Crazy descends, swoopy turns, jumps, berms, and general mayhem were the order of the day. I am proud to say I only bit it once when I stuck a berm a bit high and it gave way on me. So, all in all we had a great time, but my body hurts!

A little rain early on made for some muddy sections and some sketchy corners, but not enough to affect the fun in a negative way. If you ever hit Cali, this place is crazy fun!

Keith Bontrager's House Is Cool!

Keith Bontrager's House Is Cool!

Just got back from Keith Bontrager's house as part of the Trek/ Fisher '08 product launch. You can check out the actual hardware at Twenty Nine Inches Anyway, check this out.....

This is the scene at Keith's very modest single level bungalow in Santa Cruz. We have a regular house, kitchen, living room, and Keith's very jumbled home office. Stuff on the fridge held in place with magnets, you know, like regular joe's places that we've all been to.

Then you have the folks hanging out, like Gary Fisher, Travis Brown, Thanita Adams of Dirt Rag, Michael Browne formerly of Dirt Rag, (Hmmm...something strange about that?....Naaaah!), several media wonks and Trek, Bontrager, and Fisher employees. Keith cooked us up some grub that was yummy, we had all the "adult beverages", and some good conversations.

The real prize of the night was the van ride home that was piloted by two Bontrager dudes that shall remain nameless. Thanks for the speed bump jumps dudes!

Good times! More from the test rides tomorrow!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo Poster Art

Featuring The Following Fine Companies:
Niner Bikes
Raleigh U.S.A.
Salsa Cycles
Titus Cycles
Gary Fisher Bicycles
Bike 29
And several "guest appearances" from other purveyors of Big Wheeled Goodness!
Demo Rides "Poker Run" Saturday Night Entertainment Raffles And More!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Going To California......

Looks like this last week of rumors and leaks is just a prelude to what might rival Interbike '06 for cool introductions and surprises. Several things will be revealed that will be fun to see up close. I'll be there to report on it along with Tim Grahl for Twenty Nine Inches. Tim is supposed to be bringing this rad microphone that records digitally and will be doing interviews and podcasting. I will be poking my nose around and writing up some pithy commentary for your eyes to read.

Look for some pics here and some posts concerning the vibe and the folks at Sea Otter. There will be alot of mingling and some famous mugs might show up on Guitar Ted Productions that ya'all might recognize.

Posts will be made, but not at "the usual times" so please bear with me. I'm traveling all day Monday.....all day! So, Monday's post will be made from some airport layover or another. Tuesday and Wednesday are the Trek/Fisher Press Camp days and then the Sea Otter expo on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Sunday will be another travel day and then it's back at 'er a week from this coming Monday.

On another note: Secret Project #2 is nearing the final stages of frame building and is slated to be painted soon. The project has developed into just what I was hoping it would be and is looking fantastic so far. Stay tuned for more updates and a sneak peak maybe soon.

Have a great weekend! I'll probably not post again until Monday due to the Esater holiday.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday News and Views

29"er "Mart" Bikes?: I'm hearing a rumor that Schwinn, (read Pacific Cycles) will have a 29"er developed for sale in "big box" stores by '09. A hardtail and full suspension bike are slated to be produced. Price? Sub $200.00 is what I'm hearing.

This begs so many questions: Will the bikes weigh even more than the 26 inch beasts that generate their own gravitational pull?

Will there be a selection of super cheap, mondo heavy 29"er tires to go with them?

How long will it take for folks to trash these 29"er rear wheels? Nanoseconds?

How long will it take for the average NASCAR lovin' Marlboro smokin' folks to start buying more 29"ers than 26"ers? Will they even notice the difference?

Crazy stuff, I tell ya!

Giant, Where Are You?: Manufacturing "giant" ( heh heh!) Giant is curiously missing from any 29"er rumors out there. Hmmm.......and with Trek and Specialized coming on with 29"ers it makes it even stranger to me that nothing is being rumored from this company. I would think that with all this hullaballoo from their competitors the Giant dealer network would be getting restless. Hmmm...........

Guitar Ted "Lube Off" Update: Okay, so far these lubes seem to be performing their tasks quite well. Let's take a quick look at the three competitors.

Dumonde Tech: One of the lubes that got hosed in a tremendous thunderstorm while I was transporting my bikes on the bike rack. It came through the soaking all right, but interestingly where I had failed to coat the side plates in places on the chain began to rust! I ran the bike until the chain was getting noisey and re-lubed per manufacturers recommendation. Smooth sailing since, but my chain isn't very pretty! Lesson learned!

Pro Lube: This was the other lube to get drenched on the bike rack. Came through it well. I see a little bit of dirt/residue build up, but not bad. The bottle says a few applications might be necessary to clean the chain, so I will try that next. Otherwise I see no real issues with this lube so far.

Chanj lube: The Pedros escaped the rain, but it's seen some early season mud and dirt that the other two haven't...........yet! Other than a light dusty coating left from the last mudfest, the Chanj lube has left the chain really clean and gunk free. Re-application will take place before the next ride.

So far, I'm impressed with the short term performance of all three lubes, with the only nit being that I didn't get the Dumonde Tech chain completely coated the first time. Stay tuned for more later!

Trans Iowa Update!!! Get over to the Trans Iowa site and check out the Latest News section for your pre-race events lowdown. Stay tuned here for any last minute changes or further updates on this event that takes place in three weeks!

I hope to get around the course one last time before the event to scout out the roads for any construction/closures that may affect the route. Once that happens I will post a final road condition report. If the road out to my childrens daycare is any indication, the roads will be pretty torn up! We have a full on freeze condition now that will only prolong the drying out of the roads and give us another frost cycle to jumble up things even more. Should be interesting!

Have a great week and Easter if you are inclined to observe that. Ride your bike! Have some fun already.........

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Handlebar and More!

Here's another handlebar entry from Origin 8. This time it's pretty obvious that we have a knock off of another On One bar, the Mary.

This bar is called the "Space Bar" which conjures up all kinds of bad puns that I won't burden you with here. The deal is, this is intended to be a highly swept mountain bike bar that helps alleviate the need to get a different stem than you are currently using. (The stem I have it bolted to is a Salsa Moto Ace, by the way)

I'll have a ride report in a few weeks on this one, so stay tuned. The Gary Bar, which I updated on last week, has been mounted and ridden on my Karate Monkey. It's pretty nice, not a whole lot different than a Midge. The differences are subtle and probably only a really picky rider, ( such as myself!) would even notice. I'll post a more in depth review in a few weeks. Oh, and by the way, for those who wondered about bar end shifters- yes, they fit in a Gary Bar.

Here's the promised look at my Raleigh XXIX+G with the Inbred Superlight steel fork mounted on it. Again, the resulting increase in quickness of handling is noticeable. I hope to mount the Space Bar to this rig soon and then get in some real off roading aboard this bike that has quite a few things to post about. I've got WTB Weir Wolf tires, Velocity Blunt rims, the Space Bar, Ergon grips, and the bike itself to write to you about.

We need some nicer weather and to have me around here for awhile to get some progress on these reviews!

I'm looking at my calendar this morning and freaking out. I've got a week in California coming up in a few days, then two weeks later it's Trans Iowa time. I knew April would disappear like a vapor, but it still shocks me to think it'll be May before I can catch my breath again.

Oh well! Here I gooooooooooo!!!!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ergon E1 Grips: First Impressions

I was able to mount some of Ergon's other grips on my Raleigh XXIX+G thanks to Mr. 24, who as some of you probably know by now is Mr. Ergon these days! I say "other grips", because you don't see much of Ergon's E1 grips out there. Too bad because they are some pretty darn nice grips for your mits!
Like Ergon's other fine grips, the E1's are lock ons. The similarities end there though. These grips were developed for those requesting a grip they could wrap their digits around to get the all important death grip on when the "pucker factor" goes through the roof. The "standard" Ergon shape makes this sort of thing rather difficult, therefore the E1 came into existence.
A bit of explanation for the picture, so you understand better. The tallish flange of the grip goes to the inside and the lock on collar part is on the outside. The grips are left and right specific. So, pay attention when mounting!
The shape of the grip is complex, being neither round nor oval, but multi shaped. It seems rather odd at first, but when skin hits grip, the whole thing starts to make sense. The grip seems to fill your palm. I surmise this is in an effort to spread the pressure points across a greater area. Does it work?
Well, so far during some shorter jaunts......yes. The big thing for me is, no numbness. Usually round grips really bother me within five to ten minutes of riding. Not the E1's. The grips also allow more techy manouvering, like wheelies and lunges since you can really wrap your fingers around that grip and launch. The one thing that might be of concern is that these grips don't have much in the way of give, so a front suspended mount might be the best bet over a rigid fork for these grips. Longer rides will help me determine this in the near future. The grip is tacky and provides a secure interface with the gloves I am using. I haven't gone "bareback" yet, but as soon as it warms up again, I'll give that a test run.
E1 grips are available now through most local bike shops and come in a large and small size to fit most paws out there. Other pertinent information follows. Stay tuned for more to come!
MSRP: $34.95Weights...E1 Large: 182 gr.E1 Small: 146 gr. Grip Length...E1 Large: 140 mmE1 Small: 134 mm

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Breaking News Madness

Sheesh! You'd have thought yesterday was a news day from Interbike what with all the news items posted on Twenty Nine Inches and elsewhere on the net. The only reason I know it wasn't Interbike is that I got to sleep in my own bed last night as opposed to some cheap Las Vegas flop house! (Just kidding!)

I won't get into the particulars of each and every news item here, but I have some commentary on what went down yesterday:

Fox Forks For 29"ers: Yep! Hallelujah! The long awaited Fox Fork is going to finally be available for a 29"er. This thing has been wished for by more 29"er freaks than you can shake a stick at. Now let's see who will actually pony up the cash and get one. Not noted as being an inexpensive brand, we may see more "talkers than walkers". That said, Fox seems to have legions of dedicated fans, so I suspect it will be a hot item once it's available.

To be honest, I was more surprised at the RST offering for 29"ers. At a fair bit under $400.00 and offered with canti studs, this fork shouldn't be overlooked, but it will be. Too bad, it seems as though RST has really put some thought into the internals. If the fork actually works as advertised, this could be the sleeper deal of '08 on 29"er forks. I hope they also did a longer offset crown, but if not, it's still worth looking into.

Fatty 29"er Tire: Then there is the news that a heeee-yoooge 29"er tire is on it's way. A 2.6" monster that has a 2 ply casing, mondo tread, and will be aimed at the free ride/ all mountain/ DH crowd. (Huh? There is one?) ..........Anyway! This is something that has been wished for by several 29"er nutcases out there even though it won't fit any currently available frames! Oh well! At least you can say you could get one! That said, the bike for this tire is also in the works and it'll be crazy. I can't wait for the resulting sick air shots!

And Finally.......... The aforementioned Fox 29"er fork is going on a Trek bike. Yes......Trek! The thing is, Trek honches flatly deny they are going with a full 29"er platform. It seems the rumor is that they are expanding the "69er" lineup! Okay..........that is stupid! I don't believe it for a minute either.

Look, how many of those Travis Brown signature bikes have you seen posted on the web by proud owners?.....................crickets.................... Yeah, that's what I thought! So now I am to believe that Burke and Company is going to turn a blind eye to what is going on across the aisle at Fisher and walk foolishly into the White Elephant Room? I don't think so, Tim.

Look, if it's true, (and we'll know by this time next week) it'll be the most resounding thud in marketing since Ford rolled out the Edsel. Incredibly stupid, especially when you consider that arch rival Specialized is in the process of rolling out an entire line up of proper 29"ers including two full suspension bikes and a three bike line up of 29"er hard tails at $1000.00 or less.

No, I can see maybe one or two more of those abominations, (heh heh!) but not introducing 29"ers with Trek on the down tube is saying "no" to money. I can't believe Trek would be so naive.

Don't forget to check the link to Twenty Nine Inches for the particulars on today's rants! Scroll down, as there were at least four posts about stuff yesterday. And ride your bike, ya'all!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Monday News And Views

Quachita Nets 13th For Mr. 24: Jeff Kerkove races to a 13th placing at Quachita where Jason Sager takes the win. Nice result for the first test of the year for Jeff. You can read more here.

Bontrager To Release Another New 29"er Wheelset: The Bontrager Wheelworks "Rhythm" wheelset is already out for 26"ers, but now it has become known that it will also make an appearance in 29"er form, possibly on the new Fisher HiFi 29"er FS bike. Go here for a pic of the wheels. This is probably the first of many news items from Trek/Fisher regarding '08 29"er parts and bike introductions.

Fox Racing Shox To Intro Product At Sea Otter: Looks as though a bit of new product slipped through the filter at the recently held MTB National #1 races this past weekend as a new XC fork was spotted on Adam Craig's rig. You can check out a tech report here. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see at least a proto type 29"er Fox shock at Sea Otter, as it is known that Fox has been working on one. My bets are on a full on production model to not only be shown, but be available on a complete bike. Should be interesting!

Guitar Ted "Lube-Off" Update: Look for the next installment this week. I am in re-application mode on a couple of the bikes here, so an update is in order.

Raleigh XXIX+G Update, Ergon Grip Update, and Handlebar Madness: These are some of the topics for the next few days. Stay tuned! This week will be a full week of posts, but next week I am taking off for California. I will be attending the Trek/Fisher Press camp on the introduction of their new '08 mtb line up. (Can you say 29"ers?) Then it's off to Monterey California to check out Sea Otter and scour the Laguna Seca Raceway for anything having to do with the big wheels. Posts here could be erratic, but I will be posting, so bear with me there! Another heads up later this week with possibly more details.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Raleigh XXIX+G: Fork Swap Yeilds Big Result!

I had been toying with a couple of ideas for the Raleigh XXIX+G for awhile now. I wasn't really very happy with two things. One: The sluggishness in slow speed technical manouvers due to the high trail figure generated by the slacker headtube angle and shorter offset of the Reba, and Two: The Titec H-Bar with trigger shifters wasn't working out the way I wanted it to. There was only one posistion that the brake levers and triggers would work at all on the bar and it was a compromised situation for me. I didn't get on with it.

So, I remembered that I had an On One Superlight steel fork sitting in a box. It has 47mm of offset, which coupled with the XXIX+G should get the handling more in the realm of what I like than so far to the stable side as it was. The original bar and stem were still sitting on my bench, so I figured I'd return the controls back to their original places as long as I was switching out forks. Then I also had some Ergon E1 grips that Mr. 24 passed on to me to try out, so they got lined up for installation too.

I got to work yesterday, since it was raining anyway, and made all the swaps. I don't know if any of you do any tweaking on your own rigs, but I sometimes get a funny feeling when I wrench on my bikes. Either I feel like "this is going to be awesome", or I have an unsettled feeling. The first feeling was what I sensed as I made the swaps last night. I just knew it was going to be a major improvement.

I was so excited that I went out for a test ride in the dark up and down the block. I made some tight turns arond some sidewalks and in the yard. Yes! The fork made a huge improvement in the handling of the Raleigh. The bike felt alive underneath me and I was really happy. The grips also made an impression that was good initially. I'll detail those in a separate post.

The Raleigh by no means is close to the Dorothy or Mamasita in the handling department, but it now appears as though it is much more to the center of the handling spectrum. I'll have to measure out the current head angle and trail figure later, but the way it feels tells me the trail figure has dropped quite a bit. I expect that for a suspension fork, the new Manitou Minute 29"er fork with the longer offset would be just swell on this bike. I would highly recommend either that fork or for a rigid set up, any one of the two Superlight On One forks in the 29"er flavor.

Not all is coming up roses with the new set up though. The original stem is about an inch too long. I need to get a new Salsa stem to get me right in the cockpit. Then with the increased offset comes an increase in wheel base. The measurement I took last night revealed an almost limo-like wheelbase of 44.5 inches! Oh well, at least the ride should be a bit more comfortable, since I'll be between the wheels more!

I'll post some pics later. Today, it's off to Grandma and Grandpa's house so my two kids can see their grandparents. Have a great weekend!