Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday News and Views

The former Secret Project #1 is about ready to be shipped out to the Guitar Ted Labratories for build up. Right now, there is going to be some borrowing of parts from a couple of other things around here just to get this up and running. Eventually, all the parts will be replaced with new or dedicated parts so the borrowed parts can be put back on the bikes they came from.

The eventual plan is to have a mainly silver colored parts build. Thanks to dp for the Thompson post and stem to get me started! I have this designed to be a drop bar bike and geared, so there will be some interesting things going on with the shifters and brakes. You'll have to wait to find out, but it'll be cool. In the short term, a "funky bar" will probably be fitted to this to get me going.

Update on "The Creak": You might remember the post from last week regarding the noises eminating from one of my bikes? Well, I found it! It wasn't what I thought it was, and it wasn't any of your suggestions either. The creak was strange in that I found that I could get it to make the noise without my feet on the cranks. This eliminated the crank/bottom bracket area in my mind, so my idea was out of the window! I finally tried to flex different parts of the bike while the bike was still. This led me to the rear wheel and eventually the rear skewer. It was an aluminum ended skewer! I replaced it with a skewer that had a steel interface. Voila'! Noise gone! I'm sooooooo happy!

Iowa Promotes Cycling With License Plates: If you live here in Iowa, you now can get a special "Share the Road" plate. It's being promoted to help raise cycling awareness in the state, but they need to get at least 500 sold to get the go ahead to produce them. You can find out more by checking out this.

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: It's this Saturday and we look to have a great, albeit hot, day of riding. So far the group looks pretty small, but whomever shows up will be sure to have some awesome gravel goodness and cool folks to share it with. We'll be kicking it all off with a breakfast, (optional) at Doose's Cafe' in downtown Marengo at 6:00am with the riding to follow at 7:00 am. Of course, there will be a report and pics come Monday, so if you can't make it, look for that. Haven't heard of this before? Then check it out here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Passing On The Heritage

Well, my ride report for this weekend is going to be a bit different. I didn't get out on any cool single track, or gravel grinder this weekend. I did something I think is just as cool, perhaps even better than that. I rode with my son for the first time.

I've got a little guy that had a 4th birthday here and I got him a bicycle. He's always been fascinated by the rigs in the house and he even comes down into the Guitar Ted Labratories at times, grabbing an allen key and walking around "fixing bikes" like his Dad does. So, I figured since he was showing some interest, I'd take him to the bike shop a few times and see what happened.

Well, one thing led to another and he got the bike. I thought it was cool being there to see the wonder and joy on his face when he first realized that this was "his" bike. It's cool to be there to tutor him and watch him figure out stuff I take for granted while he bobbles along on the sidewalk.

I will have to say that it's been the most rewarding thing I've done in terms of cycling and promoting it. Sure, I can point to Trans Iowa, the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, and maybe even the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational as things that have "given back" to cycling, or that have influenced peoples lives in terms of cycling. But to be there to pass on my cycling heritage to the next generation...................priceless!

I don't know if cycling will stick to him or not. I don't know if he'll make anything from cycling in the future. I only know that I really look forward to that next multi lap around the block ride with my son. I'm going to enjoy every minute of it!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday News And Views

The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: Originally this was supposed to be today, but I moved it to next weekend. See the latest details on the ride and get a route preview by clicking here! Hope you can make it out to ride with me if you have been thinking about it.

Gary Fisher Superfly Preview: The 24 hour nationals are taking place this weekend up at 9 Mile Forest and Nat Ross will be doing some laps on the newest carbon fiber wonder bike out on the trails, the Gary Fisher Superfly 29"er. Check out the tons of photos we have there and see Nat and Chris Eatough hanging out and setting up Nat's frameset. Notice the Superfly pictured here is painted up in the Team Gary Fisher/Subaru colors. The stock color will be "Nude Carbon" and it will feature a white Bontrager saddle, white decals, and a white Fox F-80 RLC fork. Pretty sharp! This looks to be one of the best frames out there designed for 29"ers that should eliminate front triangle torsional flex that has haunted most frame designs that 29"ers have sported up to this point. That should translate into a snappier handling bike that goes where you point it and rails corners without getting knocked offline. I hope to be able to prove that point sometime yet this summer by riding one. Stay tuned!

27five- It's coming soon!: Lots of buzz over the 650B sized off road meats called "27five" by the main promoter of the size, Kirk Pacenti. It seems that several frame manufacturers and custom shops are taking a look and actually planning to produce the mountain bikes that will work with this wheel size. It is rumored that perhaps even I may be seen on one soon! Stay tuned for possible developements!

Okay, that's your bonus, sneaky post for Saturday! You better be riding later! Get on it!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Make It Go Away!

I don't know about you, but unnecessary noises coming from bicycles drives me nutty. You know, like the sound a squeaky chain makes as another rider passes you on the trail. I want to stop the rider and force chain lube on them. Make them take care of that irritating noise! (Of course, I don't get so aggressive) The point is, those kinds of things are like finger nails drug across a blackboard to me. I can't ride a bike that's noisy.

Enter one of my favorite bikes which has developed a noise that for the life of me I can not get rid of........yet! Oh, I will eradicate this noise, but so far it has eluded me. It's an aluminum framed bike, and the usual bottom bracket solution wasn't it. Then I tightened a couple loose chain ring bolts. Ahh! I thought I had it! But no! It came back on the next ride, although it waited until about halfway through that ride before it reared it's ugly head again.

So, I started looking at the seat post collar, the seat post clamp head, and some other places. Took things apart, greased them, cleaned them, lubed them, but to no avail. That devil noise would come and go as it pleased unabated. Squee---eek snap! squee---eek snap! Whether I pedaled hard or soft, standing or not standing. Sometimes it goes away, sometimes it's so loud it's embarrassing, like yesterday when I was caught riding with some RAGBRAI riders that were on there way out of town. I will find this noise and kill it if it's the last thing I do!

I have a sneaking suspicion it's still the aluminum chain ring bolts in the Stylo crank set. I am going to remove them all and start from scratch. I'll get you, you devil! That noise will die!

Okay, I'll have to report back on this one later, but for now, I wish all of you a creak free and glorious weekend of cycling! Get out and ride!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"It's Crazy!"

Well, I suppose about every cycling related blog, website, and publication is abuzz about the meltdown at le Tour today. The bombshells keep coming and the situation is beyond belief at the moment.

I'm not going to get into the details of what happened here. You probably have read it several times by now. What I wanted to comment on is the fallout. What this looks like to me.

You may know that I had declared that I wasn't going to get into watching or following the Tour this year, and for the most part I haven't. This situation is so outlandish though, that I did check it out somewhat. The whole mess is so far out there that a cycling friend of mine exclaimed last night, "It's crazy!" Yep. That's about all you can really say about it now.

For the future I just don't see much chance for pro road cycling to recover from this, at least in the near term. Bewilderment as to what's really going on has reached a point that sponsors are pulling out and media is refusing to cover cycling. The thing is, all of this, as depressing and sad as it is, shouldn't stop anybody from enjoying your bicycle(s).

It's like this: while you may not know what's going on in the Tour, or understand the actions of riders and organizers, you do understand the feeling of sprinting for that stop sign, for riding that favorite route, or for cleaning that daunting technical section. You probably know pain intimately, being out of breath on a regular basis, and the sound of the wind rushing by your ears is sweet music. Why let the uncontrollable actions of a few high profile cyclists, team leaders, and race promoters sully that for you? Get out and ride your bike!

Go for as many rides as you can. Ride with friends, ride in races, or ride alone. Get on with what is real about cycling that you know and understand. Let the rest of that nonsense play itself out on their stage. My "stage" is my next big ride, and I'm not going to worry about doping controls, media leaks, or about who's going to get fingered next. I don't care about it anymore. I'm going out for a ride.

Here's to cyclists that ride for the love of it everywhere. (Yes, a few of you are professional racers) I raise my bidon to you all! Let's ride!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Invading Forces

Today is the day.

RAGBRAI comes to town today. I'm really glad that today is here. Here's why......

#1. It means all the build up and hype is finally over. No more Lance Armstrong commercials, no more inane questions about tire rolling resistance, no more questions about my not going on the ride for a few days.

#2. It means that I will get to see desperate customers asking, nay.....demanding that I fix their bikes so that they can continue right now. I will probably not be able to do so since 99% of those requests fall to me after they have run out of luck with the on site repair folks and are requests for stuff we don't normally stock or are out of stock on due to the high demand from RAGBRAI. It's entertainment. It has to be, or otherwise it would be unbearably irritating.

I'll be glad when it's gone and done with. It's been a good four weeks of RAGBRAI hype and chit chat and I'm tired of it all. Yes, it's good for the business and ultimately for me, but it's really not that big of a deal folks. People need to get over the "RAGBRAI as Life" philosophy. It's skewed and bypasses a greater truth that most folks are missing out on in regards to cycling.

I'd wager most folks on the ride every year hang up the bike afterwards until preparations get underway for another late July assault on the Iowa secondary roads. That's sad. The thing is, they are not seeing any other possibilities for cycling other than RAGBRAI. They are in a vicious cycle, (pun intended) and they eventually burn out. I've seen it happen. They just never get that you can ride a bike separate from that event.

Then there is the "happy go lucky" facade that the sponsoring newspaper and other media like to paste over the slimy underbelly of this event. Anyone that has been on the ride knows exactly what I mean. The drunken debauchery, the crashes, broken relationships, and death and injury. Stuff you'll never see in the "official news" regarding RAGBRAI, at least not prominently displayed alongside all the stories of characters, marriages, and "feats of cycling prowess" that usually grace the pages of the papers this week.

So a lot of people have fun, and maybe a lot of folks get hooked on cycling through this craziness. Certainly there is a lot of cashola exchanged during the week and weeks prior to the event. There is benefit to RAGBRAI, yes. However; it's not all a bed of roses, and that's the part you don't hear about. That and the "fact" (read- myth amongst the common populace) that you can't possibly be a cyclist and not ride RAGBRAI. Which leads to the next "fact" that states that all cycling events anywhere must be measured against RAGBRAI, and usually can not compare. (I mean, "doping in cycling" has been a RAGBRAI staple for 35 years. What's the big deal with the Tour de France guys? Anybody wanna go for another round of beers?)

The "invasion" is here today and gone tomorrow. Life will go on unabated. I'll get on with my normal cycling routine and forget about this morass that awaits me at work today. It's going to pass.

Yep! Today is the day...............

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm Not Alone Anymore!

No.....this isn't some e-harmonious crap-ola testamonial! It's about riding bicycles, specifically 29"ers, so anyone checking this out based on a search engine result won't get misled. Ha ha!

This is a story about me and riding 29"ers. You see, I first started riding my Karate Monkey back in 2003 when the initial wave of Campstove Green KM's hit. I was an outcast, weird, experimentalist back then, ( still am! ) but now days I don't seem quite so strange.

As you know by now, the whole 29"er thing is pretty much a mainstream thing amongst enthusiasts. Sure, your casual cycling buddies might still be hearing about it for the first time, but even those folks will have seen, or at least heard of a 29"er before very long. This has made a change in my life that I only just now have come to realize.

I have 29"er owning riding buddies.

I know, it's a moment of "the obvious" (Doh!), but I hadn't really thought about it. I know quite a few folks now that are full on 29"er freaks. I'm not alone! Just how has this "new" revelation affected me?

Well, I think it's no big deal, really. In fact, that's why I probably didn't figure it out until now. Why shouldn't more people be riding these things? I think it's only natural, not some big "movement". Not some sort of underground, secret handshake society thing. Don't laugh! Some guys think about it that way on both sides of the debate!

Whatever......having guys and gals to ride with is alot of fun, and many of them just happen to be on 29"ers. I guess in some ways I do feel a bit more "justified" in my choice, but I'm really glad that 29"ers are making off roading more fun for more people.

And that's the bottom line, really.

p.s.: Check out the Guitar Ted Death Ride site for updates. August 4th is coming soon!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ride Report: G.T.D.R.I. Preview Details

Okay, I was pretty worried going into this one. No ride longer than 60 miles this year and that ride was on January 1st! Here I am embarking on a multi-hour day in the saddle with little to no endurance training what so ever. My July 4th ride was supposed to be a long distance training ride, but got cut short when I messed up my knee. So I wasn't very confident going into this ride. Oh well..............

I met dp about a half an hour too late, (sorry!) and we ate breafast at the local cafe', which was excellent grub. I got chamois-ed up and we set off westward out of Marengo sometime close to 8am. The opening miles were flat. Really flat! The thing is though, these roads were practically washed away during some recent gully washers and now have chunky, thick layers of new gravel laid down on them. Finding a line was tough. Bouncing around was the norm for the first twenty miles or so until we reached Belle Plaine.

Then that devil phone rang twice. Short phone conversations later, we were off. The roads went suddenly vertical after Belle Plaine. I mean from dead flat to a gradient that had to be something in the 12 to 15% range on loose, chunky, fresh gravel. I was spinning out on every pedal revolution! The opening climb was long and the gradient let up a little after the first 300 yards but it wasn't easy by any stretch! That was a wake up call to the heart!

Then we were in rolling country that had beautiful overlooks, wild flowers, and tons of hawks. It was pretty spectacular and helped take my mind off the riding. In fact, I was feeling just fine. A bit of a surprise to me. Then dp says, "This is where we alternate gravel/"B" road for awhile...." I smiled. "B" roads are something dp and I both like. I'll tell you this though, you've not seen "B" roads like the ones we were on! Full on mountain biking, granny gear climbing, rut jumping type of affairs. If it gets the least bit muddy, a skinny tire would be impossible on this type of "B" road. And let me tell you, walking the section would be no mean feat either! The "B" I took photos on in the previous post was not even a mile long, but it sure seemed like it!

After the "B" road flurry, we had more hills. Then we decided to cut off some of the route that dp was sure was okay in order to get back to Marengo at a decent hour. We headed up Highway 63 to Tama-Toledo and got some grub at a Dairy Queen. I decided on a Blizzard and some fries. Hey! The Great Divide Race winner said he ate pints of ice cream on that ride. Sounded like a good tip to me!

Off again and riding east out of Toledo through a road lined with beautiful wildflowers. We hit a "ridge road", in fact, that's what it's name was. Ridge Road meandered mostly eastwards through rolling terrain and really rural settings. The chunky gravel was still with us. We were often at the extreme edges of the road trying to find less resistence to our passage. Fresh gravel prevailed for most of the day.

We hit a bit of a check when a special "C" maintence road, (Yes! "C" maintenance!) was gated shut. We didn't wish to arouse the ire of anyone, so we bypassed that area. Since the normal "grid" nature of the roads was so broken up in this area, we eventually were stopped at an intersection debating which way to go to get back to Marengo. Oh! I forgot to mention: dp left his map for this part of Iowa at home. We were lost......kinda........sorta......

We sat there for a few minutes debating the options, chose one and went for it. It turned out just fine and it was only about a mile or two from a road we took out of Marengo earlier that day. We were now on roads we knew would take us back home. That was good, but by now a few things were beginning to get to me. My lower back and glutes were all used up from climbing. Don't get me wrong; I was thrilled at my performance, I just didn't have anything left in the tank. No surprise, as I was exceeding my previous long effort of the year with every pedal stroke now. My hands were getting "zinged" every once and a while. The Ergon P-1's I usually use for something like this ride were at home and I was riding the E-1's instead. I'll be switching that out for the Death Ride along with a different saddle. Probably my tried and true Wrights leather one.

Anyway, the last ten miles were the only miles without chunky, bumpy, deep gravel. Thank God! It was a smooth, yet painful cruise back into town. A mere eight and a half hours after setting out!

So, there you have it! Get ready for some gravel goodness on August 4th when we ride the whole thing!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

G.T.D.R.I. Preview in Photos

Well......two photos...........in the same spot!

dp checking his camera in the middle of a "B" road section.

This years route is really a product of his work and effort, so hats off to him for all the effort!

This is the same place looking the other way, uphill. It doesn't look all that bad, but when you get just beyond the view of this photo, it gets really gnarly!

Let's just say for now that you'd better have you best mtb climbing skills in your tool box if you plan on riding this years GTDRI.

I'll post up some more detail on our ride from Saturday tomorrow for your reading pleasure. Until then, enjoy your Sunday on a bicycle ride!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday News and Views

GTDRI Recon: Tomorrow I am going on the recon mission for the upcoming Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. Hopefully I can ride this thing this year! I haven't had any real long gravel grinders at all this year, so I'll be going into this one pretty green. Too many things going on this year have kept me on shorter trail rides, which isn't all bad. I mean, at least I've been doing some real dirt riding. Now it's time to get my gravel freak on, and do it in a hurry! I'll be back on Monday with a full report.

I Said No No No Nooo I Don't Inject It No More..... I haven't been watching the Tour, really! However, these headlines having to do with doping and suspicion of doping are putting another black eye on this cycling event out here where the casual observers are. I'm having a look see at what the average cyclists out there think, you know..... The folks that aren't addicted to that race. Well, it's not good, as far as the perception of things goes. Certainly, the fued between the ASO and the UCI is tearing down any support for competitive road cycling in the eyes of your average cyclist, albeit they don't even know or care about that fued. Nice! Once again, the actions of a few ruin it for everybody else.

Badger!: Yup! One of the original Secret Project Bikes, the Badger I had commissioned is done. Well........the frame and fork are done, I still have to build the thing up yet. Heck, I don't even have it here yet! So, don't get all impatient with me. Pictures and the like will be forth coming. I will say that there might be a bonus project that might just show up along side the Badger, so stay tuned!

RST M-29: I have finally gotten back to riding after a few days of down pours. I got to put the RST fork through it's first test ride yesterday and hopefully I'll be well on my way to breaking it in after this weekend. Things are good so far, but I'll not report fully just yet. Look for an update on Twenty Nine Inches soon.

Speaking of Twenty Nine Inches, you should click the link and check out all the latest info we have slammed in there lately. Cannondale, Raleigh, Bontrager, and WTB news to name a few things. Much more is coming, so stay tuned here and there for any newsy bits worth looking at.

In the meantime........ride, ride, ride!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday News and Views

Cannondale '08 Bikes and Specs: Check out the new Cannondale '08 29"er line up at Twenty Nine Inches. Some "factory gnome" squealed, so I got wind of it and posted it over there! Anyway, have a look to see what is up with some of the new rigs.

Remember The 650B Post?: I did a post awhile back about the 650B standard and how that there was an effort afoot to bring the wheel into the modern age of mountain biking. Well, it's happening! That's right, as we speak the pieces are coming together for a fully modern, front suspended, knobbly tired, wide rimmed 650B mountain bike. (Of course Rivendell is already busy with this) The "new" wheel size is being dubbed "27five" by it's main champion, Kirk Pacenti. Kirk is a maker and distributor of frame tubing and lugs to the custom bike building world. "27five" is a reference to the effective outer wheel/tire combination when using the new 2.1" rubber developed for the 584 ISO bead diameter, which has been known as "650B" for decades. Stay tuned for a more in depth look at this developing story on Twenty Nine Inches.

Guitar Ted Death Ride Update: Remember, it's on August 4th! We have defined the route, which will be about 110 miles in length. I know, I know! It's not as long as last years 152 mile slog, but we didn't fire out of the gates with a 250 foot climb either! Look for little to no flat land on this years edition. We kept the mileage lower for that reason and also to allow for some "hang out" time afterwards.

Special request for you that are thinking of joining us: Would you vote for a pre-ride breakfast at 6:00 am/ ride by 7:00am, or no breakfast/ ride by 6:00 am? Give us your feedback! Check out the site for further details.

To Wet To Plow!: We've been getting dumped on with heavy rains the past couple of days here, so no riding, no testing! Today it's supposed to clear up, so I'm hoping to get a short shakedown cruise on the new RST M-29 fork to see how my install went, how it's riding characteristics will shake out, and to adjust air pressure and rebound if need be. I'll be busy with some GTDRI details this weekend, but another short trail ride is not out of the question as long as I can find some dry ground. That might be tough locally. I probably would need to hit up "The Camp" to score any ridable dirt. We'll see!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Forks and Wheels

Well I finally got a little issue solved that was keeping me off the RST M-29 fork that I am supposed to be testing and now that will start getting ridden. Looking forwrds to that for a couple of reasons. First, it's RST's new attempt at getting a higher end product out to market. Of course, it's their first attempt at a true off roadable 29"er fork as well. (They did offer a "29"er" fork in the past, but it wasn't anything to write home about)

Secondly, the RST sports a 43mm offset to the fork. That means that it should liven up the steering just a bit from any 29"er spec'ed with the old 38mm "standard" off set. I have installed the M-29 on the Dos Niner, which was designed around the Reba/38mm off set fork. It should be an interesting experiment to see what the results are. Maybe I won't notice anything, or maybe it'll throw everything outta whack!

Then there are the wheels. I have those Mavic C29ssmax wheels and I am running Bontrager Tubeless Ready tires on them which seems to be working just great. The next step will be to trade out the pre-production wheels for actual production ones. Then there are the Hutchinson Python tubeless compatible tires coming after that. Add in the cntinuing testing and riding on the Bontrager Race X Lite Tubeless ready wheels and tires and I'm one busy guy!

The 29"er wheel, tire, and fork segments are really popping right now with a lot of new developements. There's a lot more going on and still to come in those arenas. Not to mention the new '08 stuff coming out already from Fisher, Specialized, and Cannondale. I've already seen '08 product from all three of these companies and I'll say that the 29"er market is going to be twice as busy as last year, if this is any indication. Price points are going to be coming down and reaching higher. Lots more models from companies already in it and some new guys on the block too. (Specialized, Marin)

Speaking of forks and wheels, Cannondale is expanding it's Lefty equipped 29"er line up too. I saw some pics of some of the new '08's and they look tasty! Maybe I'll be allowed to give you a sneek peak soon. Stay tuned!

And check out Raliegh's new '08's on their website. New minimalistic graphics and WTB Stout tires, which look great. Even an XXIX in an XL! (Yes, it's the "Official Color of 29"ers" blue!)

Lot's going on! And summer is going away fast! Yikes!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This Is Going To Be Good!

The summer is in full swing but reality says that the Fall trade show season is about to begin. That means things are already heating up behind the scenes. I'm starting to hear and see some things that will be pretty interesting.

New bikes and new developments will be in no short supply come September. I think a lot of eyes are going to be opened.

It's funny when you think about it. There really isn't anything new, just new ways of putting things together. You think you've seen it all, and then a new combination comes around the corner and just blows you away. It's what keeps us coming back to the trade shows every year and it's what keeps us glued to the computer during that time. Gotta see the new tech and new rigs. It's like cycling's version of that old Christmas catalog, The Wish Book.

I'm excited to be involved in the cycling industry now. Lot's of cool developments in mountain biking, road biking, and commuting. This is truly going to be good! I can't wait to see it all.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ride Report: "The Camp"

Check out the previous post for the visuals from my ride at "The Camp" Saturday. I got up there about 9:30 am and found the place deserted. All the kids were gone and I had the place all to myself. No other mountain bikers had been there that day either, which is strange since early morning rides seem popular out there. Oh well! I didn't mind it at all.

The day was perfect! Not too warm, not too cool in the woods. A slight breeze in the more open areas. Sunshine in abundance meant dappled trail conditions, but since it was later in the morning, the sun was high enough to negate most of "the strobe effect" that you can get sometimes. My Tifosi glasses really helped in that regard too. Love them shades!

I wasn't really on any agenda. I just wanted to ride where ever my tires took me. Then it happened. That devil cell phone went off! I was in a valley under a whole bunch of trees, so I couldn't get the call to come through. It was my wife, that was about all I could make out. Grr! Now I was wondering, "What is going on? Maybe..........." And my mind started to think up all these horrible possibilities. I was getting angry too. A great day possibly ruined! Ack!

I got to a clearing and tried calling back. Rats! Same thing! Then my bike tipped over and my derailluer hangar bent Gah! Going from bad to worse here! I applied an "equal and opposite force" which straightened it right back out. Whew! At least the bike would be okay. Me? Ha!

I huffed it up a climb to an open area. I tried the phone again. Good! The call is going through and I can hear my wife's voice loud and clear as she says, "Honey, I was wondering if you could stop on the way home to get some milk."

Cell phones are the devil! I hate them!

Okay, now I'm calmed down and free from the world again. The rest of the ride was fantastic. There is a pine woods section that has several criss-crosing trails that I spent probably a half an hour in. Going around and around trying to find the way out was fun. I ended up just going out the way I came in, which worked out just fine.

Lots of climbing, lots of down hill, and lots of river bottom twisty, fast single track was had. I even saw a young flock of turkeys which all scattered as I came up on them. They lighted in some trees above me and chirped to each other as I took the picture of the river. I also saw several deer, some with fawns. They are very red this year and were quite a contrast to the lush green under brush.

Two hours of fun later I was back at the truck and packing it in for the day. I can't wait to get back again!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bonus Post: Ride Report in Photos

A sun dappled day at the strangely vacant Scout Camp.

Deserts may have sharp, pointy plant life, but Iowa has it's own way of cutting you up with leaves and thorns!

An open meadow full of flowers and butterflys demanded an extended stop to admire.

Some double track that ran up to the river. Here it was mostly single track due to the vegetation.

The beginning of a sun splotched down hill. Can you say "strobe effect"?

A full on ride report will come later. See my Mavic wheel impressions here from this ride and a couple other rides before it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

From Green To Blue

Well, I'm making this official! I've been posting this on the forums and I'm stepping out here and declaring it for the web-world to see......

Pastel Blue Is The Official Color of 29"ers

Yep! It's not green anymore. It seemed like for at least the last four years that several 29"ers were following in the footsteps of the classic Karate Monkey, which was introduced in "Campstove Green" at the 2002 Interbike show. I'm not saying every bike with 29 inch wheels was green, but a lot of them were. A disproportionate number it seemed.

Then the tide started to change last year with the Dorothy from Badger Cycles and Gary Fishers Ferrous, both in a light shade of blue which in 29"ers hadn't really been seen on a production frame. Of course, you can't leave out the Karate Monkey, which also turned blue for '07, albeit a medium shade of blue, not a pastel, light, sky blue color.

Now we're hearing about and seeing more '08 bikes that are going blue, as it were. Haro, Raleigh, and the Gary Fisher Paragon to name a few. And what's more, we're seeing more custom paint jobs done on 29"ers in a lighter blue than before too.

So, get ready for that sky blue, robin's egg blue, Carolina Blue, or whatever you want to call this pastel shade to take over as the "Official Color of 29"ers". It's coming whether you like it or not!

Ride yer bikes this weekend! No matter what color they are!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Riding In The "Jungle"

"Man! It's like riding in the jungle!"

That's Captain Bob's exclamation there from yesterday afternoons ride in the GW. (That's George Wyth State Park for you non-locals) Yeah, it's high summer in Iowa and the vegetation is at it's peak right about now. Tree branches full of leaves hanging down, slapping you in the face as you speed along. Weeds with itchy oily secretions making it burn! Nice thorny scratches across your shin bones. Yep! It's a jungle out there all right!

We have this overgrown state of trails every year. This year is a bit unique though. A lot of early vege was frozen off after a really early warm spell was followeed by three days of super hard frost. I recall the temps getting down into the upper teens one of those mornings. This was after about two weeks of temps up in the 60's and 70's which spawned all the spring growth. The result was that a lot of the early plant life was killed.

That's resulted in a bit better trail condition than normal this year. Most years we all would be banished to road riding by now as the trails would be impassable due to the choking weed growth that would not allow your passage. This year it's still passable out there, so we're still riding those river bottom trails. It's nice, but don't be fooled. The vegetation that did survive that late season frost is thriving!

And then there is all the flying protein supplements that are available while you're out there in that jungle. You can't help but suck down a few of those every ride. (Just ask "Shrek"!) I could see the little insects all about me in certain places. Like a cloud of specs hanging in the air. You zip through them, gasping for air as you hammer along and gulp! You get your daily requirement of live food in an instant. No time to stop now, you've got to stay on that wheel that's in front of you, ya know. Just swallow and keep on keepin' on!

It's all part of the summer time riding experience here in the Mid West. Gotta take it while you can. It won't be long before all of this starts to die off and we are running in a sullen brown land that is fast falling asleep for another long winters nap.

Get out and ride that jungle! Don't mind the bugs. They aren't that bad, really!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Back to the Lab For Testing!

Well, tonight I've got a ride planned. The thing is, most of my rides have an important purpose since I have all this new gear to review and test for Twenty Nine Inches. Every ride is at a different "labratory". It's not just a trail, but what does this trail have to offer that will show me something about this new gee-gaw I have to test. Does it have off camber? How about some rocks and roots? Are we going to be descending for an extended period? That sort of thing.

I suppose you guys that train alot are the same way. You've got your specific routes/rides that offer up different aspects of pain to train with. Well, I have the pain too, come to think of it!

At any rate, this day I should be testing and riding some new equipment. Getting a handle on how it performs and works in the field. It's kind of a balancing act between having fun and work. On one hand I've got to be paying attention to my new gear. On the other hand I'm having fun blasting up short steeps, railing corners, or just taking in some outdoors. Sometimes the outdoors wins! That's okay. That just means I have to ride another lap to get the focus in on the parts I'm thrashing that day.

It's all bicycles in the end, and what better way to have to "work" than to have to ride out on the dirt? I can't think of any. Besides, I'm needing a distraction from all of this pre-RAGBRAI hoopla going on here. The town the bike shop I work at is in is an overnight stop for the annual ride. It's featuring a Blues Traveler concert and an appearance by The Lance. I want to be far, far away that day! Out on some solitary dirt single track, surrounded by the serene sounds of nature, and testing some new equipment. Let the others bust themselves up trying to get a glimpse of The Man With The Fading Yellow Tunic. Me? I'll be testing in my favorite local lab.

See ya on the dirt!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'm Not Watching

Okay, here it is folks. My answer to all of you to the question, "Did you see the Tour today?"


(Silent amazement) "Why not?"

Well, that's a long answer. The main thing is this. I get invested in something like the Tour emotionally, time-wise, and even physically to some extant. Then either during or most likely afterwards some scandalous plot, scheme, or other takes all the joy right out of it. All that previous investment is an embarassment. Like sending the new employee to find the left handed monkey wrench. (There isn't such a thing, by the way!) I feel duped when the punch line is read.

Then there is the "time suck" aspect, of which I alluded to above. You Tour junkies know exactly what I mean. Your whole day is rearranged around finding out how the stage of the day unfolded. "Hey! Can I talk to you in a minute. They're about to set up for the field sprint!" If you only knew what your wife was thinking when you said that!

Nope! I'm not falling into the trap this year. I'm looking the other way. And yeah...........I'll actually ride more in July. It's a good thing. No emotional attachment, no possibility for another let down. Besides, the whole pro road scene is quagmire right now. What do you believe? Is what you are watching even going to go down in the record books? Who knows.

So I'll be doing my riding, testing, and living my life sans Tour, thank you very much. That's my take. You can watch if you'd like, I've no problem with that. Just don't expect me to share when you ask the question, because I won't know.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mavic Crossmax 29"er Wheel Set, News and Views

Friday I recieved these Mavic Crossmax wheels to review for Twenty Nine Inches and they are yet another example of how the walls between 26 and 29 inch wheels are being torn down.

Just a few years ago even a 29"er specific rim was a dream, and now we have several. Not only that, but the prized tubeless moniker can now be associated with 29 inch wheels. Add these Mavic hoops to the already excellent Bontrager Race Lite Tubeless Ready wheels and the Bontrager Rhythm model line of 29"er tubeless wheels.

Now all we need are more tubeless ready tires! I know that Bontrager is working on getting a complete line out as soon as possible. Hutchinson's Python is currently the only "Mavic approved" choice for their wheels. I suspect that by Interbike the tire selection will be adding numbers rather quickly!

In Other News: I was able to get out on a couple of short, low intensity rides this weekend. The knee is doing much, much better. I think regular trail thrashing will commence once again this coming weekend.

I was able to take a "farewell" cruise on my Haro Mary which has been sold to a lucky and entusiastic new owner. I needed to come up with some cash to fund the completion of a couple bike projects going on here. I also need to plan ahead for the coming "slow season". Yes, as amazing as that sounds, I know it's just a short time until business slows down, school starts again, and "The Man" decides I don't need to be there as much at work. Gotta plan ahead!

Speaking of planning ahead: The plans for GTDRI are still being worked on. It looks as though the course is coming along. No real road re-routes need be done. We have a campground group rate possibility, and even a pre-ride breakfast at a local cafe' is being contemplated. Check the site for more updates in the coming days. Remember that the date is August 4th and not what the header says. (Mr 24 lost the artwork and can not change it!)

Blood on the Rocks! Mr. 24 became "Mr 6" for the weekend and left a sacrifice of blood on the trail to garner a first place bit o hardware at Blue Mound this past weekend. Check out the story. Crazy!

And Finally..... I was cruising the web and came across this cool report on the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo that happened two weeks ago in Decorah, Iowa. Check out the dude in the running shorts. (Yes, he rode that way and yes, that's Everclear in his flask) If you missed this years edition the good news for you is that we are putting it on again next year. Make sure you keep the last weekend in June free. Read the report and you'll get a small slice of just what it was all about.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ergon's G-Ride!

I was recently able to catch Mr. 24 in one of his increasingly rare appearances in the Cedar Valley. He's finally gotten the new wheels and it's pretty sweet.

Here you can see the tiny Ergon decal on the rear "C" pillar. (Body shop talk) Anyway, I suspect this to not last too long since the original plan was for an Ergon wrap job, ala NASCAR.

I've a feeling Mr. 24 would assume leave it in this state which is predominantly in the colors of The Kerkove Nation. (read: black!)

Here's the rig fully loaded. I don't think it'll pass through the overheads at the drive through there buddy!

If you happen to see this giant black rig festooned with bikes and boxes coming down the highway at you, never fear! It's just ol' Jeff. Give him a honk and a wave. If you see him at an event, say howdy for me, won'tcha?

He doesn't get around these parts much anymore.

Can't say I blame him either!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday News and Views

Hey ya'all! It's the weekend already! Didn't we just have a weekend? (I get thrown outta whack by this mid-week holiday stuff!)

Anyway...............here's a shot of that RST fork that didn't make the Twenty Nine Inches story. It's the new M-29 air shock with 80mm travel. So far I've got it mounted up to my Dos, but I had to order a part. A disc mount to be precise. You see, everything fork-wise from here on out is going 74mm post mount, so I had to invest in the proper Avid mount to get me up and rolling. Well, not rolling just yet! The part is on order. I'll be really rolling it by this time next week.

In other news, Specialized's newest 29"er offering that I linked to yesterday is getting mixed reviews from a looks standpoint. I don't like the way it looks, personally, but hey! Maybe it performs just fine. If so, cool! I just don't think it's going to add up to a bike that will rip Mid West single track. I'm hoping the Big Red "S" has some of these at Interbike to test ride so I can check it out for myself and see if I'm wrong.

The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational has been moved to Saturday, August 4th. If you can not make the new date, I appologize, but since it is my ride I thought it might be important for me to actually be there! The previously mentioned date was already committed to something else that I had mistakenly thought was on a different day. Whoops! My bad!

Anyway, this gives me time to get the Pofahl Custom together to ride and also gives myself and my "route finder extrordinaire" Wuzbeen, a chance to get a handle on the route. It's been a challenge so far what with all the flooding. Roads under water and whole bridges washed away! We hope to have a finalized route by next week.

Camping option: We are putting out the chance for a group rate at a local to the ride campground. We could get a rate of $25.00 if we see enough interest. That would cover us for one night, as I understand it. There is an e-mail link under the "My Events" column at the right here where you can contact me if you are interested in this option.

Well, I pretty much negated any reason for you to click on the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational site, but do it anyway so you can see Mr. 24's cool banner he did up for me!

By the way, anybody spot the FJ Cruiser yet?

Ride yer bikes this weekend and have some fun already!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Speaking of Knees

I wouldn't normally put in anything on this blog about corn. I'm surrounded by it every year and quite frankly, it's a thing taken for granted here in Iowa. However; something remarkable has been happening here, so I thought I'd mention it.

I went out for my traditional 4th of July ride, a gravel grinder, and I noticed how tall some of the corn was already. My Grandfather and his peers always used to say about the early corn crop a saying that goes like this: "Knee high by the 4th of July". That meant that if the corn was at least that high by the fourth of July, the crop was thought to be coming along quite nicely. Well, that saying has been blown out of the water in modern times. Now if it's not man high by the fourth of July it's a poor planting!

The thing that caught my eye was that this field that I have pictured here has tassles on the tops already! That means that by the end of July this field might already have ears and be "drying down" already! Yikes! That usually doesn't happen, (tassles on the corn) until the end of this month. I also noticed a lot of wild flowers are about a month ahead of schedule too. Does this mean I'll be riding in the snow in October? Crazy!

Then there was my little episode stepping down into the ditch to get into that corn field I photographed. I stepped out thinking the ditch was shallow, but it wasn't. So, where I thought my foot would hit solid ground was actually about a foot off an off camber slope. My full weight came down at that awkward angle and I felt a searing pain in my knee. Really bad! I had to cut my ride short and I went home and iced it down and hit the old ibuprofen right away. I'm not sure, but I think I tore a connective ligament to the bottom of my patella a bit. It still hurts this morning, but the swelling is down and I can at least walk without a limp.

What I won't do to get a photograph! Ha ha! Oh well, I just hope it heals up soon. I've got alot of riding to do.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

News and Views For The Fourth

Hey, it's the Nations Birthday, so I took the morning off. I'm a slacker, I know! At any rate, I hope you all reflect upon what it took to allow you your freedoms this Fourth of July if you partake of those freedoms here in the U.S.A. Enjoy what you've got, because not alot of other places have it.

Enough of that..........now on to the news!

Specialized presented it's full suspension 29"er recently in Mexico and you can catch a picture or two of it here. It's got the Brain rear shock, a new design that shares features given to the redesign of the 26"er version, and a Reba fork. Huh? I thought Specialized was into making it's own products for suspension. Apparently a 29"er fork was considered too big a risk or not feasable at this time.

An interesting thing mentioned in the text of the launch detals was that the head angle had been increased by one degree over the 26"er model for the 29"er version. Hmm.......purusing the Specialized geometry charts reveals.......confusion! At best, all I can say is that it would appear that the new Stumpjumper FSR 29"er is going to err on the slack side of the current geometry for 29"ers and will be a slower handling beast due to the Rebas 38mm offset. Great for bombing down SoCal down hill singletrack, but not so great everywhere else. The rear travel had to be reduced as well, or the chainstays would have been astronomically long, (they look a bit longish as they are). They went with a 105mm at the rear which calculates out to a shade over four inches.

It'll be interesting to see what the wheelbase and chainstay length actually are on this bike. I'm betting it's got limo-like proportions. Just judging from the pics mind you, I've got nothing against Specialized per se. I actually have fond memories of my 94 FSR S-Works bike. It's just that translating a design to 29"er dimensions is fraught with pitfalls and it looks like Specialized may have fallen into a few by the looks of it.

Finally, check out Twenty Nine Inches to see the new RST M-29 fork that I'll be putting to shame on the Dos Niner as soon as I get an adapter for the post mount brake studs on the fork. Everything is going to go post mount on forks, so I've gotta get tooled up!

Have a great Fouth of July and ride yer bikes!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Road Tech Goes Mountain Biking

I have been pondering all of the standard breaking technology coming out in the road bike market over the last few years and especially for '08 products. Cannondale, Specialized, and now Trek are smashing road bike tradition in terms of component standards with oversized bottom brackets, differentially sized head tubes/bearings, and integrated seat masts. How long could the mountain bike as we know it hold out? Well, the dam has burst just a bit!

It seems that Specialized has thrown down the gauntlet with their '08 Stumpjumper Carbon. I figured it was only a matter of time before somebody got ahold of the differentially sized head/steer tube for a mountain bike. Of course, the Stumpy has a long uphill battle in the face of all of the current suspension fork makers. Certainly Specialized with it's newly founded suspension line up can afford to take on new technology, but the other fork manufacturers won't be as quick to jump on board with this new standard. However, this is something that's not going away, and you are going to see more of it in the future. A lot more of it.

Why should it change? Well, the mere fact that these new ideas have radically changed the way road bikes perform and handle should be a clue. The ideas work, and work well. Not just the head tube/steer tube design, but the bottom bracket has seen some oversizing to a great benefit as well. The integrated seat mast is another thing all together, but even a hardtail mtb was shown at Sea Otter with this frame design.

The changes coming will some day have a positive affect on 29"ers. The head tube/steer tube idea is tailor made for 29"er use. The oversizing of the bottom bracket is a long overdue change that will help 29"ers as well in frame stiffness. Finally, I think it's high time the overlock dimensions for the rear wheel and front wheel be changed to 150mm and 120mm respectively. These changes would allow the wheels to have a wider flange spacing which would dramatically increase wheel strength.

Sure, all your "old stuff" would be obsolete, but you would get to buy new stuff! Besides, if you could ride something made in the ways I am detailing, I think you might just heartily agree to park your "old technology" anyway. The bottom line is that it just makes a lot of sense to do these things. When the headset went to 1 1/8th", we were just starting to use suspension and we still had cantilever brakes, when the bottom brackets went to European shells we were using adjustable cup bottom brackets and square taper spindles, when the overlock dimensions were set for mountain bikes we were running 7 speed systems and rigid forks. Now you wouldn't dream of using canti brakes, adjustable/serviceable bottom brackets, or 7 speed drivetrains. Why should the standards set then be kept when changing them would increase the effectiveness of brakes, wheels, drivtrains, and suspension forks?

Or maybe we should go back to the old stuff!

Something to think about...........

Monday, July 02, 2007

Weekend Ride Report

The weekend saw myself and Captain Bob make an early morning assault on the Boy Scout Camp this past Saturday. Sorry, but we both forgot our cameras, so you'll have to form your own mental imagery on this one!

The Scout Camp is, of course, being used heavily this summer. We arrived to find ourselves surrounded by scouts, tents, and vehicles in the parking lot because of the two week Jamboree going on. Since it was six o'clock when we started out, we had to go into stealth mode and steer clear of the campgrounds. Shhhh! Sleeping Scouts!

The other two things that were a bit of a challenge were the cold morning air, (63 degrees) and the dark under the trees. Night hadn't loosed hold of it's grip there yet and silly me with my shades on! The first switchback and ravine section was interesting to say the least! I was leading because Captain Bob said he didn't want me to run him over when he crashed. (Is he saying I'm fat?) He never did crash, by the way.

We managed to clear out into a slightly less dark section and then the sun started peeking through the trees, totally eliminating the sight problems. The trail was dry, rough, and even wet, soft, and muddy in some select few places. A real potpourri of conditions to test out the ACX Tubeless Ready front tire I had just swapped out to. The back was still the Dry X. Great hook up this time and really, no worries at all. Handling was spot on from the tires.

I have had a broken right shifter on the XXIX+G since my horrendous lawn dart endo of about a month ago. I do have a replacement waiting for me to pick up, (sorry Brent!) but I've been so dang busy lately I can't get over to pick it up. So I suffered single speed style on Saturday. That is until Captain Bob morphed into Captain Obvious during a rest stop and said, "Doesn't your front derailluer work?" Duhhh! And all the heinous climbing was already done! Bah! I guess I am just a single speeder at heart!

Anyway, we didn't ride all that long, but we had a great time and I learned that the Tubeless Ready set up could work really well. So, it was a good trip to make. Look for a more detailed write up on the ACX Tubeless Ready tire soon on Twenty Nine Inches along with a Tubeless Ready wheel update.