Friday, November 30, 2007
So far the plan is tentitively scheduled for October and would be held in Rhode Island to help draw from the major metropolitan areas on the Eastern Seaboard.
I thinl it's a great idea, coming right after Interbike, and gives the East coasters something to look forward to. The only thing I wonder is if it will draw off attendance to Interbike proper by retailers out there. Whatever......consumers should be stoked!
Upcoming Attractions: I have mentioned this earlier, but I will be posting some updates on the Fisher HiFi Deluxe 29"er soon. My feelings about this trail bike are really posistive, just so you know! I also will be working up some updates on the three sets of WTB tires with the help of Captain Bob soon. Finally, the Schwalbe Racing Ralphs should be here next week. All of this will be appearing on Twenty Nine Inches, so look over there for these updates and new arrivals.
Thread-a-licious! Disclaimer: I am a Twin Six Team member, (Why I have no idea, but they invited me.........really!) I was checking out all the new 2008 stuff from Twin Six and I am constantly blown away by these guys creativity and output. This is nuts! Please, do yourself a huge favor and check out the goods. They've even got a t-shirt designed by Jesse LaLonde, so how cool is that! The guys at Twin Six are even down with big wheels and work with some heavy hitters in the 29"er world, so they have The Guitar Ted Stamp Of Approval. Which means that Twin Six is totally safe to use while riding your 29"er and has been thoroughly tested here at the Guitar Ted Labratories for your peace of mind.
Allright, there's your Christmas gift suggestions right there! No need to go out and beat yerself up at the malls, this stuff is what you need to make your cycling folks smile 24-7/365. Getcher self sum!
Ifn' ya ain't afeard of the cold and snow, have yerself a merry little bike ride this weekend. Otherwise, good luck on your ride to nowhere indoors!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Who's First and a Retraction: The funny thing about we humans is that we like stories about history and who was first to do such-and-such. Some of us like those things so much we'll put ourselves in the story and make ourselves first. Something like this happened when Dirt Rag published a story by Don Cook about where 29"ers came from a couple of issues ago. Funny thing about that story is that it left out key elements regarding Wes Williams of Willits bikes and some other sundry bits that were highly important to the modern 29"er movement. So, enough folks complained that Dirt Rag published a "retraction" of sorts. They really didn't say they were wrong, but they did say there is "another version" of the story. Hrummph! What ever happened to investigative journalism? And another thing about retractions and corrections in print media: Ever notice how those sorts of things are buried in some unnoticeable corner with no headline? Hmm........
Big Fat Tires Are Cool! I like big fat tires and Captain Bob and I should be sporting some Schwalbe Racing Ralphs in a few days here. Looking beyond Schwalbes goofy model names, we have a 2.4" tire that is said to be so big and voluuminous that it may not fit into the back of many frames in existence now. With that in mind we have some 2.2" versions of the same model coming as well. This promises to be a great tire for our Mid-Western trails and a fantastic roller by all accounts. I am specifically going to look forward to slapping one on the front of my single speed device!
Snow, Ice, or Rain? The weather prognosticators are predicting a winter storm for our area this weekend and my locality is on the borderline between wet or frozen precipitation. I suppose if I had a choice I would vote for the snow. Ice ruins our riding around here. It would certainly put the riding season into a screeching halt until warmer weather melted the ice. I suppose I could hope for rain, but we are on the doorstep of December here, so I'm trying to be realistic about this!
Vote Your Preferances! There are a couple places asking for opinions that I think the industry will take note of, so I wanted to point out your opportunity to be heard. The first is at Salsa Cycles Amigos Blog where the question is, "Would you buy a high end mechanical disc brake?" Click over and leave a comment if you would. The other place is at Twenty Nine Inches where you can leave your comment regarding what you think a cool 29"er product intro would be. Let the industry hear your voice! Do the democratic, American thing.......Vote Today!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Continuing on with the story here........ If you missed the first part, check it out here.
Sea Otter 2007 will go down as the show where 29"ers crossed over from weird niche to legitimate mountain bikes, on par with 26"ers. Companies like Mavic, Fox, and Specialized showed their 29"er wares first here or at the Trek/Fisher Press Camp just days before. In my mind this was a huge deal for 29"ers and I was honored to be a tiny bystander when it happened.
Sea Otter was also cool from the "hanging out" standpoint. Industry people seemed a lot less rushed and were motivated to just chill out with unknown media scribes such as myself. I think I bought three meals the entire week I was there! Anyway, if you are reading this and you were one of those peeps that hung out with me, I say "Thanks!" It meant a lot to me and made the trip far better than I could ever imagined it.
After the goings on out in California I didn't get any rest. I had an event to put on called Trans Iowa! Version three was on tap and due to my partner in crime's recent hiring by some company fond of neon green, I had to do most of the pre-race prep myself. Stress reached critical levels when it was discovered that my cue sheets were incorrectly done due to some proof reading errors. I had to redo 100 sets of cue sheets by my self in three days! My whole family got involved at one point with my six year old daughter and then three year old son helping stuff race bags. Crazy stuff!
<===An unidentified Trans Iowa rider crossing a portion of flooded gravel on Day 2 of Trans Iowa V3.
The event itself was a mix of highs and lows for me. I was brought pretty low by the 30 plus no-shows and by the fact that some of the roads were flooded and I didn't know about it. The cue sheets, even after my last minute efforts to clean them up, were still off and confusing in spots. The fact that I had to slog it out for up to 40 hours without sleep was a big downer too. I'm sure I took a few years off my life there! But finally, there was one person who shall remain nameless that really soured me after the event and almost killed any passion I had for doing it again. Fortunately, that didn't happen!
There were a lot of great things about Trans Iowa this year though that helped to overshadow the negative bits. Great weather brought out the best in the field and we had a record number of finishers. Lots of pats on the back and thank yous made the efforts seem worthwhile. The smiles and laughter at the finish line were like gold to me. Team Polska brought a smile to a lot of peoples faces. Running around with author Zach Dundas was a life saver! (Thanks Zach!) And of course the people involved were a big plus. Especially my small volunteer crew which made everything possible. To you I can not repay what you have done!
After the Trans Iowa endurance event was put to bed, I had another big task: The first Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. That'll figure into the next "rearview" post Stay Tuned!
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
<===Geax is said to be getting their tubeless ready version of the Saguaro tested for UST approval. Look for it to be available soon.
Used to be that when you said "UST" that you were talking about a 26"er tire that you could mount on a UST rim and air up with no sealant. That's it, just like a car tire. Now things are a bit more complicated thanks to the advent of tubeless systems for 29"ers.
At the time of this writing their are no tires that are designed to hold air without sealant or a tube available in 29"er sizes. (Although I have gotten a Bontrager Tubeless Ready Dry X to do just this for a 24 hour period) Why is that? It is because of how a UST tire designed to work without sealant is made.
<===Bontrager Dry X Tubeless Ready Tires sans the AR casing reinforcement weigh below 600 grams a piece. Way below 600 grams!
A tubeless tire designed to work without sealant needs an extra layer of butyl rubber over the inner casing to prevent leakdown after inflation. This adds a lot of weight to a tire. In a 29"er size, a tubeless tire with this extra layer would weigh in at a mark not acceptable to most riders plus it would cost more. This is probably the best reason why you will see the majority, if not all, the 29"er tubeless tires being marketed as "tubeless ready" tires needing sealant to make them work.
Hutchinson was just recently awarded UST status for their tubeless ready concept Python 29"er tire, a tire needing sealant to work. How can it be UST, you ask? Well, many folks may not realize this, but UST has a lot more to do with the standards of rim hook/tire bead interfaces than it does with whether or not you would need sealant to make the tire hold air. Basically it is a standard that indicates the tire with UST approval and a rim with UST approval are safe to use sans tube. How the tire holds air can be accomplished in two ways: with a butyl rubber layer or sealant. Thus you will start seeing Hutchinson Python 29"er tubeless ready tires being marketed as UST.
<==Continental supposedly will release the Mountain King and Mud Queen tires in 29"er sizes in both standard and tubeless ready versions. Hmm......we wonders why, yesss my precious, we wonders!
It would seem to me then that any 29"er tire released from this point on should be tubeless ready. Why not? Get the bead interface to work as a tubeless tire would and use a standard casing. If sealant is used with the proper rim, then you could have a tubeless tire too. Tubed or not tubed, both in one tire. In fact, Geax is pursuing this very thing and calling it "TnT". (Tube no Tube) Brilliant!
I'd go so far as to say that the industry should drop wire beaded tires all together, with the possible exception of OEM tires. Why not? Get all the features anybody could generally want in one format and be done with it. Tires are going to become much more expensive due to high oil prices, so one tire that could go both ways will be seen as a smart buy by consumers too. It won't have to weigh anymore than current tires either. A win/win situation if I ever saw one.
So, look for your tubeless ready tires in 29"er sizes soon. Some will say "UST" and some won't. If you get confused, don't worry, you can always use a tube!
Monday, November 26, 2007
Well, it is time for the annual look back over the shoulder at what was and how we got here. (How did we get here anyway?) Hmm.......and so fast!
Regardless of the speedy passage of time, here is the deal. I am going to post up a retrospective of where Guitar Ted Productions has been and where it is going throughout the month of December. (Wait! It's not even December yet!) Yeah, yeah.........I know! I figured I'd just get a head start on it, for cryin' out loud.
The year started out with a bit of uncertainty. I was coming into a fundamental change in my role as a blogger and Internet poster/time waster. Gee........things were so much simpler when I was just a plain ol' time wastin' internet troll........sigh! Uhhh..........anyway! Yeah, I was now at a point where my gig with Twenty Nine Inches was going to be stepping up to the plate and throwin' down some cabbage for my efforts. I was wondering where it would lead to and how it might affect this blog. Things have changed mightily, I might add!
The first significant event of the year was Frostbike. That annual dealer only show up at Quality Bicycle Products warehouse in the 'burbs of the Twin Cities. Of course, I got to see some good friends of mine from Salsa Cycles and Twin Six. (Twin Six World Domination Headquarters actually housed my carcass overnight! Thanks Brent!) Probably the highlight of that weekend though was the riding of the 36 inch wheeled bicycle belonging to Ben Witt of Milltown Cyclery. Since that first 36"er was built two more have come into existence. Pretty cool idea and the best smile inducing cycling product of 2007 by miles!
As a side note, I picked up my first set of Industry 9 hoops that weekend too. They were to go on a Secret Project bike which I announced on my blog about this time as well. Later on, another Secret Project bike was added to the hopper and the madness would continue on right up to this point.
The next big gig of 2007: Sea Otter. Yep! Plane trips, lost luggage, and hotel livin' for a week. Sounded kind of like a slog through a week of bicycle stuff, but it turned out to be anything but that. Trek/Fisher/Bontrager had a Press Camp up at Santa Cruz for two days prior to Sea Otter and what a blast! Besides getting the scoop on all the new products in the pipeline, I got to see Gary Fisher himself, and ride his prototype automatic shifting 27 speed commuter bike. I got to eat at Keith Bontragers house and scarf a meal made by Keith himself. I got to get lost with Trek and Bontrager product managers in a rental van in Santa Cruz. I got to get up on two wheels with new hire Michael Browne (late of Dirt Rag fame) in another rental van. I had my test bike wrenched on by SSWC and Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Travis Brown. Plus I poached some sweet trail at Nisene Marks on some cool Trek and Fisher mountain bikes. I could have quit the year right there, went home and had stories to last me until now. The thing is, it wasn't even the halfway point yet!
That's it for today. I'll continue on with the Sea Otter saga in another post. Look for that in a few days. I won't make ya'all suffer through my "rearview" everday!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
<==Some onlookers at the Camp seemed a bit interested in what I was up to on Saturday.
Had a couple of photos from yesterday, but only a couple. I wasn't too interested in digging through the pack, taking off the mitts, and shooting photos yesterday. Besides, I was too busy just trying to keep up. Seems like there may have been a good reason for feeling so flat yesterday.
Cold and flu season is here and, well........I think most of our family has the flu! Just to be clear, the flu isn't vomiting and diarrhea, although those can be symptoms of the flu. No, normally you are talking about headaches, body aches, lack of energy, and just generally feeling rotten, which is what three out of the four of us here are feeling today. Well, that explains alot for me, anyway, about yesterdays performance.
So today I just casually spun around the block with my son a few times and am resting up.
<===The HiFi Deluxe in the wild.
Hopefully I can get recovered enough to go at it again next weekend for a bit. I need to keep the riding time going as long as the weather holds back from being really nasty, windy, and frigid.
This week isn't looking like there will be much going on, which is good. Next week I have T.I.V4 recon scheduled for the 6th of December. d.p. and I will be slinking around the gravel corridors of North East Iowa to verify my course of doom for 100 lucky folks next April. Well, I'm sure that number will dwindle somewhat, but we have 100 now.
Until then, lots of fluids and rest..........................
Saturday, November 24, 2007
<==Alien Technology Revealed! The Fisher HiFi Deluxe 29"er.
Today was the Turkey Burn up at Camp Ingawanis. I met up with Captain Bob, Casey, Paul, and Jeremy for some fun on the frozen tundra of the Camp's trail system.
I was sportin' the new '08 Fisher HiFi Deluxe 29"er and I let everybody ride it. Really! If'n ya wasn't there, then ya missed out! I'll be posting my thoughts on the bike on Twenty Nine Inches, (where I've already got a bunch of images and info up already on this beast), but let me just say that all that rode it gave it a big thumbs up. That was kind of nice to see the reactions from the other guys. It validates my feelings about the G2 geometry and how Fisher '08 bikes are really dialed. I've always said that you can write thousands of words about a bicycle but you can't often understand it until you ride it. Some of the guys picked up on it immediately. Pretty cool!
Anyway, the ride was good. I got lost from the main group pretty much immediately since I was futzing with my booties which weren't allowing my clean entry into my clipless pedals. More knife work will be necessary, but not today. I ended up ditching the booties and risked freezing my toes, but at least I could ride. I finally got reunited with the group, but I wasn't riding all that well. Seems to be a common thing this fall. I haven't felt "on" with a group for months. I have had flashes of great sensations on the bike, even recently while riding to work, but today I was really flat.
Still, the HiFi was making riding easier and I had a lot of fun on it. However; I had to do a test run on the SE Racing Stout too. So, I switched out and took off up the service road climb. The Stout is a single speed and I was dreading the climbs, but I was feeling a bit more spunk in the legs now and kept up just fine. I got into the first section of trail and ate it hard on a leaf strewn corner heading downhill. I heard something snap. The ground was really hard. I stopped, rolled over and stood up. I could raise my arm over my head, so I was okay. Whew! It didn't sound good, but I was okay.
Captain Bob and I were both on single speeds and we decided that it was time to head home after hitting the flats for awhile. the rest of the guys decided to head back too to start trail work . The final service road climbs were tough, but I made them all without killing myself and having to stop to rest. I was riding better and I was on a single speed. Go figure.
The trails were great, fast, hard, and sketchy with deep leafy cover in some spots. This made some spots treacherous, but still doable. Frost flew up off our tires as we sped along the trails. It was a great early winter ride. Mission accomplished, I headed home with Captain Bob's Mamasita in tow to repair her brakes. (Done, by the way!) The good Capitan will be testing the SE Racing Stout for a bit now, so he took that rig home. It's all good.
Spent the rest of the day with my kids and wife. Hope your weekend goes great! Get out and ride.
Friday, November 23, 2007
So this day, the day after Thanksgiving, is now known as "Black Friday", huh? This is just another example of mindless consumerism and how many of us become "sheeple" and fall in line with the grinding wheels of marketing. The only thing "black" about today is the skies at the stores opening time.
Well, at least the news outlets will have plenty to talk about. If you care, they will be standing outside of the malls and shopping centers documenting the carnage which will be more chaotic than a LeMans run at Moab. Headlines will predict the fall or rise of modern civilization based upon the amount of dollars transacted over the course of today and this weekend. Weary soldiers laden with bags, boxes, and baggage will scuffle home nearly destroyed by trying to find that "perfect" gift. Well, they can find solace in the knowledge that they collectively kept several media folks jobs secure and greased the wheels of commerce for a short while. Me? I've got something better in mind.
Call me "un-American", but I'm not getting anywhere close to those dens of capitalism. I am spending time with my family and riding my bicycle in the woods tomorrow with like minded friends. I won't get covered in the news, I won't help further our great economy, and I won't be bringing home any shiny gadgets to sling under a tree. I will be smiling. I will be getting sweaty and breathing in some cool crisp air. I'll be riding my bike out in a natural setting and destressing. I'll be coming home to my family and laughing and having a great time. Well, that's the plan anyway.
They can have their plan, I'll take mine above theirs anyday, Black Friday or not!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
<==While you were traveling somewhere to eat yer self silly, I had to deal with this!
My package arrived and I couldn't wait. I tore into the cardboard and wrapping like an expectant boy at Christmas time opening a present. I lifted out the contents and may I say, I was pleased.
This should be a fun trip.
Look for more later................
In the meantime we got up to 100 folks entered in for some limestone goodness today. Two folks didn't make the cut and I'm sure a few more entries will show up late on Friday and Saturday. If they really want in, they should consider themselves in, since I'm quite sure more than a few will be dropping out come February and March. It happens every year. In fact, I'm predicting a sub 75 rider field by the start time on April 26th. That's money if you are the betting type. Me? Just being realistic.
The Turkey Burn is coming up Saturday. The weather is going to be decent and some good folks should be turning up for some post holiday riding shenanigans and trail work. Mark it down as a must do and join in the fun. I'll be there too. It's good for you and Iowa mountain biking. How can you lose? (Well.......I suppose you could smash yer digit, like Mr. 24 did!)
Okay, so have yourself a great holiday and don't eat yourself silly! Ride your bike instead!
<==The '03 Karate Monkey pulls through it's fourth winter of duty.
This is my winter commuter, well.....actually it was my do everything bike! Now it's primary funtion will be winter commuting. Anyway, I have to get on the stick here and fix her up because the snow is on the way and the Monkey is in pieces.
Four winters and I thought, "Ya know, I probably should tear into this and take a look at how things are going." Well, it was about time, I'll tell ya that much! The bottom bracket is still seized up in the frame. No worries really. It's a UN-53 cartridge style BB and is smooth and knock free yet. However; I'd still like to break it free! The Cooks Brothers cranks need a new chainwheel, and that hidden chainring bolt is giving me fits. I'll have to take the spider off, but......you guessed it...the spider fixing bolt is stuck! Well, I've got a plan for that. I just have not gotten around to it yet.
So, a tear down, inspect the insides of the tubes on the frame, new headset, new cogs, and a new chain. Oh yeah! Did I mention that I robbed the brakes off of this for another project. No? Umm.......yeah........I'll be needing those too! Anyway, They will be disc units. Also, the Paul Word hubs/Alex TD-17 wheelset went to Captain Bob for a single speed project he has going on. I gave them to him since the bearings were feeling less than smooth in the hubs.
<==The "Chocolate Chip" wheel set
These are what I'm replacing the old wheel set with. Surly "Jim Brown" hubs laced to a custom powder coated Velocity Deep V pair of rims. The Deep V rims shouldn't collect a ton of snow in deeper drifts and I can run skinnys or fatties on them. 45mm studded tires or 2.1"s for slop. I'll still be going single speed, obviously.
I'll still have the drop bar set up too. Can't get away from my years of tweaking my posistion on this bike! I might even get a rack for the back of this one too. It would be nice to ditch the bags on my back everyday for a change. That's about it for the set up. Now I just have to get it completed!
I just realized that with these wheels and the Karate Monkey's Campstove Green paint it will sort of look like woodland camo. Hmm...........maybe I'll have to play off of that a bit with my components and accesories.
I'll be posting pictures of the completed rig hopefully soon. It's up on the front burner now!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
What to do? With only fifteen spots left, if I get say.......21 cards, what will I do? Well, here is the plan. The Post Office will decide. Say what? Yeah.................the U.S.P.S. !
See, the ever efficient mail carrier almost always bundles mail together while sorting it. Lots of letters going to the same address will almost certainly get bound together with that wonderful, handy little tool, the rubber band. I will accept the first fifteen cards off the top of the stack into the roster. All fifteen will have been randomly shuffled into the stack by a hard working U.S.P.S. employee insuring that I have nothing to do with which fifteen get in or which of the remaining cards go into the Waiting List.
Waiting List? Yes............a waiting list. You see, the fervor to get in on a helping of 300 plus miles of gravely goodness might seem like a great idea right now to some, but apparently later on some thinking must be done, since we get drop outs along the way. Typically for a roster of this size I would expect up to at least ten drops before the last month leading up to the event. In the case of someone dropping out, I would then contact the next card sender in the stack by e-mail to see if they are still interested. If not, I would move to the next card, and so on. So, if you really, really want to do Trans Iowa and find yourself just on the outside looking in after today, hold tight. There will be dropouts.
On the subject of dropouts: There will be a significant number of drop outs in the last days leading up to the event. Reality and perceptions will get the best of some folks. It happens everytime we run this thing. It'll be exceptionally bad if the weather is forecast to be crummy for the event. For both T.I.V2 and T.I.V3 we had 20 plus folks not show up the day of the event......without calling, without e-mailing.......just no shows! Let me state for the record that I will be making note of that if it happens this year that way. Please let us know if you are not coming. Even if it's the last day before the event. It makes a huge difference to me. Really!
Okay, enough of that! Now I suspect about 100 folks are laying winter training programs down on their computers, PDA's, logbooks, or at least in their minds eye. Some of you might be wondering if you will be able to get any outdoor training in since winter is on its way. Well here is a great tip on how to keep your tootsies warm in severe cold. Check it out!
In the meantime, look for a roster update later this evening. It might be pretty late, as I'm 'spectin' a package to arrive that'll require my full attention. More later!
Monday, November 19, 2007
I had a chance to sneak in a short bicycle ride this past weekend. It had to fit in time-wise with what I had going on with the rest of my life, which meant that I could not get away to the Scout Camp, or even over across town to a couple of other local trails. Nope, this meant one thing. I had to go visit my "Old Friend".
<==The On One Inbred taking a moments rest before she got all muddy!
The trail I rode was a trail I have ridden since 1989 and one that I have hiked on in years previous to that. It is what we in the Mid-West call a river bottom trail. The modern name for an area like this would be greenbelt, I suppose and in fact, that is the official name of the area. Well, part of the name. The Leonard Katoski Green Belt, that is the full name. The trail winds it's way along the Black Hawk Creek which is a meandering stream that changes its mind about where it is going about every six months or so. This change of direction has an effect on the trail to a large degree.
I can remember parts of the trail that are long since washed downstream and in fact, the creek is still busy taking parts away and adding other new additions. This meant that my ride there was sure to be an adventure, since I had not ridden there for several months.
Sure enough, just like an old friend you have not seen in years, the trails had evolved. There were little surprises, but the main character of the trail was still very much intact. There was a high degree of familiarity, but I was caught out by some of the new changes. This trail is fun because of that. It's always throwing you a curve ball just when you think you have it figured out. The cool thing is, it is all part of the natural ebb and flow of the river and its banks. Nothing is maintenanced on these trails with the exception of the removal of large downed trees at times and a yearly mowing or two for cross country skiers and summertime users.
So, it was good to get out for a bit and ride. It was good to catch up with my "old friend". I see things have changed a bit since I was gone, but that just adds to the attraction of the place for me.
I'll be back soon.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Today is a rest day for more reasons than that. I have been pushing the envelope in more ways than just cycling. I need to recharge the batteries for sure. Too much of the jobs (two jobs) and riding are conspiring to make me really burn out, but I'm not going to let that happen. Last weekend was the beggining of rest, I continue with some this weekend, and of course, Thursday brings another off day. Hopefully by the Saturday after Thanksgiving I'll be ready to go again.
There are a lot of things coming up that are going to require much of my energies. Trans Iowa recon is right around the corner. A date is being discussed and an all day drive planned. Then there is the late season testing of equipment that must be done, much of it in the dark, I'm thinking. Lights are a bit of a problem as of now, but I'll make do. Then there are the family obligations. Two birthdays and Christmas in the span of two weeks. A wedding anniversary and New Years Day within ten days of that.
I plan on doing a bit of a "rearview mirror" action on the blog here and on Twenty Nine Inches. I will dredge up some ideas that have been big and then take a look at next year and give you my take on what to look for in the coming months.
So, it'll be a busy December, going into the depths of winter, and a new year. Time will fly. Better get my rest while I can.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Yeah, this is another post about those renegade 650B wheels! I got this image sent to me and I found it amusing from a marketing standpoint.
First off, let me say that I have nothing against Vicious Cycles or their bikes. Great stuff and very well done. In fact I saw a 26"er last weekend that was outstanding with a Vicious Cycles down tube sticker. Nice, nice stuff!
No, this is about how 650B is being marketed, which is really an odd thing if you think about it. For starters, we wouldn't even be looking at any of this if it weren't for Kirk Pacenti and his evangelistic zeal in pushing this wheel size in front of our eyes. If it weren't for Kirk, this still would be some esoteric exercise in mountain bike experimentation by Grant Peterson of Rivendell. Secondly, all the claims made as to why the wheel size is better than either 26 inch or 29 inch wheels is largely conjecture since hardly any examples of the 650B wheeled bikes exist to even know if the claims work or not. On a purely theoretical basis, they don't seem to hold much credence either.
So why even bother? Well, there are a few things about it that make sense. That's not much the point though when it comes to the marketing side of this format. Take a look at the image here. It says, "650B is the safe choice" with it's allusion to the Goldilocks story by using the little caricature in the lower right hand corner. That's funny, because for me that's the whole message of the 650B movement in a nutshell. Another way I've heard it said is that it's "the best of both worlds". (Referring of course to 26"ers and 29"ers) All that says is that it's a compromise of either extremes attributes and not great at any of them.
Not that 650B doesn't have it's place in mountain biking, and I do not "hate" the wheel size. Again, it's the claims and marketing that I find strange and really..........rather goofy. I just do not think that the larger mountain biking community will accept or support the "B" wheels like they do the 26"ers, or even as much as they do the 29"ers. (Which in reality are still catching on) As I've said before, 650B is always going to be an oddity. A curious wheel size destined to always be in the back round and not a true front runner in the off road world.
Get out and ride this weekend. Whether it be your "B" wheeler, 26"er, 29"er, or tricycle, just ride!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The thing is, the bicycle seems to be the focus of a lot of negativity lately.
I don't know exactly what is going on. I have an idea it's got something to do with the lack of daylight hours lately. You know, people get all cranky when the sun sets at 5 o'clock. Or maybe it's just all this political stuff going on lately. That gets me a bit irritated too. All those ads getting blasted at me from every media outlet. "I'm Guitar Ted, and I approve this ad!" Whatever! I think that might make for a bit more negativity. That and all the high prices for everything. Money is tight, and monetary issues, well........you know. It gets people all uppity-tighty!
I just don't get why it's invading places like mtbr.com, Twenty Nine Inches, and other online bicycle forums lately. Whats the dealio? Some new bio/computer virus thingy? Whatever it is, it needs to stop.
It's just plain silly and you know.........maybe you should just get out and ride a bike! It's great. It's fun. It relieves stress and raises your spirits. I should know, I ride all the time and when I don't, I get cranky. Maybe the devil is in the keyboards of a million households. Maybe the idiot box is the modern day PC. (Apple users are exempt seemingly........HA!) Whatever it is, I am getting tired of it really fast.
Going out to ride to work now..........................you should be riding too!
On whatever bike you choose, just lighten up already, mmmmkay?
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Lincolnite Gets His Five Minutes: Or maybe I should say "eternal fame", you be the judge of that. When I recieved my issue of Dirt Rag yesterday in the mail I found a picture in the Riders Eye section that resembled Matt Wills. Hmm.........hey! It is Matt Wills!! Pretty cool to see Matt hit the "big time" media. Get your copy and see Matt in his long haired glory. All the more special since he sheared off the golden locks this past summer. Curiously, it doesn't appear that Matt is aboard a Soulcraft. That's strange, but congrats to you Matt, we're all proud to see a Mid-Westerner get some props in a nationwide publication. Just think: Your picture will be seen in a million bathrooms nationwide. Heh heh! (Disclaimer: I think very highly of Matt. So, read the bits here with the knowledge that I am poking some fun. Mmm-kay?)
Titanium Invades 29"er Inventories: It seems that there has been a rash of 29"er companies saying, "We do titanium!" lately. Of course there has always been Moots. Then the Litespeed folks came back as Lynskey, then you have the Dean's, Blacksheep, Voo Doo, etc..... That's not what I'm talking about though. I'm referring to these smaller companies. Carver was the first, then Vassago announces theirs the other day. Now I'm seeing that Motobecane, the "e-bay" company, is hopping in with a titanium frame for 29"ers too. Crazy! Chinese titanium must be really cheap these days!
WTB Tire Testing: The tire testing of the WTB Stout, Prowler SL, and Vulpine is still progressing along. Check out Captain Bob's first impression of the Prowler SL on Twenty Nine Inches. I'll have a Stout first impression up soon, and the Vulpine will follow. I've written about the Stout already here. The Vulpine is the other tire I'm testing and it is fast! It has some odd traits though that I will detail in my take on them coming soon. look for that on Twenty Nine Inches.
Turkey Burn: Anyone in the local area should be aware of the upcoming Turkey Burn event out at Camp Ingawanis. It's a ride/trail maintenance day scheduled on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to get your metabolism and fun levels up. Ride, work the trails, and get your end of the season punctuated with something good for you and for the local mountain biking scene.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Someone mentioned this rig on mtbr.com yesterday so I thought I'd give you all the update, or non-update as it were, on this frame and fork.
The simple fact of the matter is I don't have the cash to finish it off right now.
I have had a lot of going back and forth with what exactly I wanted to do with it, but now that has been resolved. I know what each and every part will be, but I'm not going to spill the beans just yet. You never know what might happen between now and the time this bike actually rolls out. It still will be a drop bar, geared hard tail for off road though. That much I can say.
This year has just been filled with bicycle purchases, bike builds, bike related trips, bike accessories, and bike spending way beyond anything since I bought two Klein Attitudes in the same year back in 1992.
Let's just say the budget has been way out of whack!
So, that is what is going on with the Badger.......nothing!
Not because I don't want to, but because it's winter and money is tight. Somebody advised me to start selling off some of my older stuff, which I could do, but the thing is, it still wouldn't get done a whole lot sooner that it will anyway. It is a possibility though, but I'm willing to wait things out.
I suspect that I'll be rolling this rig by spring time, and that is just fine with me. More money will be rolling in by then and better weather will be on the way. I've got the frame and fork to start with and I want to do it right. I have got some time. I can be patient.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Tubeless Ready or UST? I posted a story on Twenty Nine Inches about wheteher we need a "true UST" tire for 29"ers or not. Check out the story and post your thoughts in the comment section. I'm going to point out the story to some industry tire folks, so this will get some notice. My take? I think tubeless ready systems do 90% of what most riders are wanting with a lot less weight. I think a UST tire would be heavy, but perhaps an All Mountain sort of model would make sense from a toughness/durability standpoint.
Niner Bikes E.M.D. 9 New Color: Niner Bikes has released a new color for the Eat My Dust 9 (E.M.D.9) which is the yummy looking A&W Rootbeer color. For those of you not familiar with this, the E.M.D.9 is the least spendy of Niners offerings yet a very, very nice aluminum frame. A&W Rootbeer? Well, let's just say ya had ta be there to understand the whole A&W experience. Think car hops, intercoms, frosted mugs, and icecream and you'll come close. Lets just say the color is memory provoking for it's accuracy and looks simply delicious on a bike.
Trans Iowa Open Registration Starting Soon!: Starting Thursday anyone wanting in on the remaining spots left on the 100 person roster for Trans Iowa should send in their post cards. (Right now there are around 80 spots left) You will have until midnight on November 30th to get your post card here and be included on the roster for Trans Iowa V4. The course will be reconned soon, so look for an update on that in the coming weeks!
Friday, November 09, 2007
The course is pretty much finalized, all that remains is to recon it. d.p. and I are working out a date to do this in the next few weeks. A report will follow.
Iceman Cometh: Indeed! This years edition of Iceman Cometh should live up to it's name. Always a big 29"er event, I expect to see several top athletes aboard big wheels in the reports to follow. I'll see if I can scoop some news from this Michigan event for ya'all, stay tuned!
Out of Town: I have an out of town trip planned for this weekend that should include a bit of riding too. I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend with Mrs. Guitar Ted and seeing some good friends too. No further posts this weekend, so get out and ride if you can and enjoy the end of fall. Winter won't be far behind!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Think I'm making this up?
If you have never gone to a forum like mtbr.com and spent anytime there, I can see where you maybe have not run into this. However; before the innerweb, and all of its online goofiness got started you could detect this breed of hate in your local bike shop. You just had to hang around enough. Maybe you have never gone to racing events where cliques of certain brand haters would like to gather and espouse their kindred negativity to anyone that cared to listen.
Whatever..........I just do not get it. Some people just take things way too far without thinking, without investigating the claims, and certainly without seeing how it makes them look to most other cyclists in the community. It is rediculous to read or hear another cyclist rant about such-and-such companies bad warranties, bad bicycles, or evil plots to ruin smaller brands, destroy custom builders, or rain fire and brimstone down on the earth. I've got a suggestion for any of the folks out there that are just too tweaked: Get out and ride!
I'm not so idealistic that I think a post like this will calm the situation down. If anything, I'll probably stir up the hornets nest more. I'm just not going to sit idle and let it go either. I'm calling a spade a spade. I'm saying that this "hate" is stupid. It's a waste of time and energy and the rest of the cycling community doesn't benefit from it at all. Not one bit.
Really, it is just bicycles. A great and fun way to do lots of things that are positive. Leave the negativity at the door step. Go out and ride.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
<==One of the rare times you'll see me using a "broomstick bar". Testing the SE Racing Stout recently.
Have you ever noticed how a lot of 29"er riders tend to use "funky handle bars"? You know, something other than your traditional riser bar with a bit of sweep and rise, like most mountain bikers of the past ten years have used. Well, if you haven't you need to check things out a little more! Funky bars are all the rage these days, but especially on 29"ers where they seem like they are a standard accessory item. Why is that? Why did 29"er freaks go the funky bar route?
I have written on this before and have posted that I think it's because 29"er freaks are........well, freaks! (I mean that in the best possible way!) An open mindedness to trying things different or out of the ordinary was how I had at first thought about this. While I still think that is partially true, I am thinking that there is a reason from a mechanical viewpoint that funky bars were/are predominantly a 29"er phenomenon. An inherent reason that is so second nature that it escaped me until just recently.
It's because of the 29"ers tendency to be more stable and less "endo prone". Let's take a look here: The way I came about my theory is from riding a traditional riser bar again recently. I have not done much of any riding on what you would call a traditional bar for a long time, so the sensations were almost "new" again riding that riser bar. I was really paying attention to what most users of a riser bar don't ever think about. The key to my theory is how your shoulders are lined up in relationship to the travel of the bicycle.
A traditional riser bar puts your wrists, forearms and shoulders into a positioning that makes you rely more on your pectorals for preventing you from going forward over the front end of your bike. Lets say you were going downhill. You can mimic the same type of stress on your body by standing about two to three feet from a wall and leaning into the wall by supporting yourself with your hands. Try putting your elbows up, turn your wrists slightly outwards, and point your thumbs downwards at the floor slightly to mimic a more traditional grip on a bar. Lean in towards that wall and see which muscle group you feel working. Now try the same thing only this time point your index fingers vertically up towards the ceiling, put your wrists and elbows more in line with your fingers, and lean in towards the wall. Now feel which muscles are working.
My theory is that funky bars are more like the second exercise above than the first. They require you to hold your upper body weight more by means of your triceps than your pectorals, as a riser bar would. Why dose this have anything to do with endos and 29"ers? Well, if you are going to push yourself back into a standing position using your hands as a pushing off point in the two exercises above, the larger pectoral muscles will be easier on you to use than you triceps, especially if you repeat the motion several times. This type of movement is similar to what you must do to keep yourself back over the rear wheel on descents. Using a riser bar keeps you using that larger muscle group which won't fatigue as quickly and is stronger than the arm muscles that would have to do the same job on a funky bar. Less chances of endo-ing and more chances for control in sketchy terrain. This is why you will most likely never see down hillers using anything but a riser bar.
So, why funky bars at all? Well, 29"ers have a tendency to not endo due to the relationship between the axles, bottom bracket, and the rider. You can pitch a 29"er down hill and get on that front brake and not have the rear end start kissing your backside as easily as a 26"er. Add to this the gyroscopic stability of a larger wheel and you can see how it is harder to deflect a bigger front wheel off line on a descent. The added roll over ability of 29"ers features in as well, since the front wheel has less a tendency to stop and pop over an obstacle and more momentum is carried through. These three things keep you from having to use your upper body muscles as much to keep your body behind that front axle.
Now using a funky bar is more of an option plus you gain the ability to breathe better since your upper body muscles are not tensing up and fighting what your lungs are trying to do. I'm not saying you can not use a funky bar on a 26"er, but using them on a 29"er just "feels" better and I think this theory has something to do with that.
Call me crazy, but that's my take. Try to check it out sometime on a local trail and see if you don't notice the same things.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
First of all, before I hear from any of you, "don't hurt the animals" folks, you have to consider some facts about deer population in Iowa. These critters have very, very few natural predators, and an unlimited supply of field corn every fall at their disposal. Not to mention the vast amounts of vegetation here. Ever since widespread use of DDT was banned back in the late 60's/early 70's, the deer population has steadily grown to a point now where several areas in the state have deer population counts in the range of 40-50 individuals every square mile! The DNR estimates that a maximum sustainable square mile population should be more like 25 deer. Maximum. So, these not so little critters are invading places they really shouldn't be in, and getting tagged by automobiles left and right causing all sorts of mayhem and death. Leave that all aside though and think about how deer are going to be getting sick and dying off because there are simply too many of them for the land to support. We don't have any problems raising deer here in Iowa folks, believe me.
Since I don't think an introduction of wolves and big cats is going to go over very well here, it's up to "man" to help manage this over population. So, bow hunters and shot gun wielders are licensed every year to help manage the deer population. Whatever else you think about hunting, well, that's your problem. As for me, I can totally understand why it has to be.
So, to the point of this post: Usually bow hunters and cyclists off road don't sound like a good idea together. This was the common wisdom around here up until last year when something happened that shouldn't have, but changed the thinking of some folks.
Last year in a particular wooded area around here the trails were only open a short period of time during the weekend for cyclists, the rest of the time they were closed for bow hunting. However; as I've been told, a couple of cyclist either didn't know, or poached the trails on a weekday to ride during bow hunting season. Well, the result was that some of the hunters saw that the deer were aroused by the cyclists, and moved by their stands allowing them to take some deer that day. The overseer of this area realized that if he were to allow off road cyclists out during bow hunting season that the same successes might be repeated. This year he tried it.
And guess what? First of all, I didn't even know those bow hunters were out there, quiet and hidden as they are. Secondly, three deer were taken in one day within a few hours last time I was out there because we as cyclist were basically running the deer right by these guys stands. I know it sounds crazy, but it seems to work! The overseer of the area told me he was tickled to see how it was working and that he totally trusted the bow hunters to be careful in how they took shots, so as not to endanger anyone riding out there.
Really, I know it seems strange, but I wouldn't have even known what was going on if I hadn't had run across the guy that runs the place. Well, that and the blood on the trail in one spot! Hey! It's not maybe your cup of tea, but the fact that this is happening is unique in off roading and helps cyclists, hunters, and in the end- the deer all to enjoy a better balance.
And we cyclists can certainly understand balance.
Monday, November 05, 2007
<=The XXIX+G with "monster truck" tires!
Saturday was the first real off road test of the new WTB tires that Twenty Nine Inches received to check out, test, and review. Of the three models we were sent, the Stout 29"er was the most intriguing to me.
This big, knobby beast weighs a lot! I mean, most folks might not even consider it a choice based upon that alone. That's something I was even having a bit of trouble with going in to this. Weight, especially on the wheels usually scares the bibs off of a cyclist and makes them run for the nearest alloy nipples, double butted spokes, and lightweight tires. All in an effort to defeat that terrible monster known as Rotational Inertia. I have to say it, I was a bit worried before riding these tires.
<= I caught the Stout 29"er tire seeking to pounce on and kill small animals in the forest!
Well, let me just say that I have an experience or two with some other model of WTB tire that was lingering in my mind. The wire beaded Exi Wolf was a tire I had ridden on two different rigs and thought that it was just a horrible experience. It felt like, in both instances, as if I had been pedaling through a mud bog the whole ride. No amount of downhill grade made for any relief either. I was amazed and really bummed, because I wanted to like that tire, but it just sucked. Really, that is the only way to put it. And to think that the Exi weighed 300 grams less than the Stouts I was about to ride. Perhaps you can see where I'm coming from. So, it was with some trepidation that I mounted up the XXIX+G with the Stout tires and decided to ride them up at the Boy Scout Camp this past Saturday. I didn't even ride that bike first, choosing the SE Racing Stout single speed first to ride. I was pretty toasted after a few rounds on the Stout too, so I was looking forwards to the worst. "At least this bike has gears," I thought to my self as I pulled it off the rack.
<=Check out the blood on that center knob in the pic. The Stout doesn't miss when it attacks!
Well, the first uphill on the service road didn't feel at all bad. It rolled quite nicely, thank you. I knew it wasn't me, because my legs were still screaming over the Stout single speed thrashing. I turned to head down the service road at the top instead of hitting the technical single track in the woods. I was following some of the other riders out there and we were trying to hook up with another rider that was out on the trail wanting to ride with our group. This service road is really a primitive gravel path. Lots of undulations, ruts, big rock laid in where the road washed out, you get the idea. And it follows the contour of the land, so no level spots or nice, consistent grades. This particular road sailed down all the way to the river level. I was flying!
The guys I was with took a left hand turn ahead of me, but I was having such fun, and feeling secure on the big Stouts casing, that I let fly with no brakes. All the way to the bottom, I was bouncing and careening a bit, but the Stout took it all in stride. I knew a more XC-ish tire would have had me scrubbing the brakes way before I did at the bottom of the hill with the Stouts on.
I decided to hit the rolling terrain alone and concentrate on the tires performance. They really did well. And guess what? I thought they rolled just peachy.
<=The Stout makes this Ignitor feel insecure!
Once back at the parking lot, I met back up with the guys. I decided to roll Captain Bob's bike with the new Prowler SL on board. You know what? The wheels did accelerate better, but I didn't think it was that big a deal. Why? Because the Stout was so much fun. That's why. Fun is............well, fun! Worrying about weight, rolling resistance, what the tires measure out to, while all good things to consider, can really be fun suckers. I don't think that is what the Stout is about. I think it's a "fun hog" of a tire. (Apologies to Zap) I think the Stout was a hoot to ride, and I have not yet plumbed the lower reaches of air pressure on it yet either, which I think may make this tire even more fun.
It's almost making me think this weight thing is highly over rated. Maybe.......just maybe!
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
A personal note: If you are just toying with the idea of T.I.V4 and are not really sure you would do it, but are going to get your foot in the door just in case.......don't do it! Don't even bother registering. You'll most likely drop out, and thus waste a lot of resources and time on my end. We have had drop outs the first two years, (T.I.V2 most notably because of the weather), but nothing approaches the scale of last year/this past spring where a full 64 people dropped out after being registered! That's right, half of the registered field! 35 didn't bother at all to say they wouldn't show up last April and I had their cue sheets ready, race packets ready, and had what little swag readied for them too. I worked several hours with my family helping out to get that done and they stiffed me. Thanks! (grrrrr!!)
So, yeah.....that kinda cheeses me off and frankly was one of the reasons that T.I. almost didn't happen again. Do me and everyone else that takes this event seriously a favor, do not register if you don't know you will even show up or not. Register if you know you want to do this badly, register if you can't get it outta your mind. And by all means, if you do register and have to drop out, please let me know ahead of time and don't be a no-show! That really ticks me off.
There! Rant off!
WTB Rubber: 2008 will be another banner year for 29"er freaks in a lot of ways. WTB is contributing to that in a big way by introducing three new tread patterns for 29"ers. That's more new tires than some companies have for 29"ers in their whole line. Check out the new goodies that arrived here at the Lab on Twenty Nine Inches. I'll have some things to say about these treads in days to come here too, so stay tuned!
And Finally....... We'll be riding off into the darkness more and more here soon and especially with the clocks getting turned back an hour here Saturday with the end of Daylight Savings Time. (What a farcical concept that is!) I've still got to score some lights worthy of off roading. There was this industry dealio that I signed up for that has vaporized, so I'm going to have to start looking elsewhere. Maybe I'll homebrew something up in the Lab......hmmm. I do have some parts to start with. Anyway, suggestions from the gallery are always welcome! You never know, some night racing might just materialize out of this for next season. You know, when the weather is warm and the daylight hours are counted in the teens? Remember that? Ha ha!
Okay, ride your bikes and have fun this weekend. Whatever your flavor of bike is, just ride!
Thursday, November 01, 2007
This is the second update of the BD-2, you can find the first update here. Since getting this pack back in August, I have used it constantly for just about every bicycle ride I have done since then. I ride five days a week to work and back and several weekends where I will do more off roading. This pack has been easy to get along with and dare I say, it's conformed to me as well! The straps seem to have molded themselves to my shape and especially the lower hard "frame" of the pack.
I won't go into too much detail here about the BD-2. Please click the links if you want to know more about what I have said or what Ergon has to offer you on the details. I am just here to update what I have experienced concerning this pack.
Since the last update I have taken this pack to Interbike. I used it at the Outdoor Demo and it did an awesome job of allowing me to feel free while riding strange bikes and strange terrain. Let me tell you, the last thing you want to deal with when doing things like that is think about your gear. The Ergon BD-2 just simply was there when I needed it: hydrating me, and carrying my stuff without being noticed. I never had to futz with it, with one minor exception.
I was meeting with Mike Curiak at the Demo and while standing there talking with him POP! Hey! The anchor for the chest strap pops off! Now this is the strap that attaches one side of the shoulder harness to the other and basically it's only job is to keep the shoulder harness up on your shoulders. What had given way was the plastic end that attaches to a seam on the shoulder strap. That end kind of grips over the roundish part of that seam. Well, I couldn't seem to get it back on, and went ahead and did a couple rides without it. The straps would migrate down my shoulders and I would have to "hitch" them back up where they belonged a time or two during the ride. The thing is, it didn't end the ride, but it made the pack kind of a hassle to ride with.
Fortunately for me, the Outdoor Demo included a booth from Ergon. I sauntered over there and hit up Mr. 24, who offered me up a cold beer while he reattached the anchor for the chest strap without replacing any parts. He just simply guided the thing back onto that seam and off I went. I found out that I had the chest strap way too tight leading to the failure. That's one thing I've taken to heart since, and I have found that you really do not need to have that chest strap very tight at all. In fact, I would say mine is pretty floppy, and it still does it's job.
The second story I have relating to the Ergon BD-2 is the time I got caught out in a pretty hard rain on the way to work. It was about 15- 20 minutes of rain that I had to ride in and the contents of my pack got a wee bit moist. Not soaked, but definitely wet. I e-mailed Mr. 24 about it and suggested that Ergon make a rain cover for the BD-2. He e-mails me back with this response: "Turn your pack upside down." I think, "What the....." But I know Jeff well and I know he wouldn't just be flippant for no reason, so I did turn the pack upside down. Well, looky there! A rain cover! Ha! I had it all along. I 'm not sure if Jeff had told me about it before, but if you get a BD-2, don't be like me, there is a rain cover- use it!
Okay, so that's about it really. I like this pack a lot, it does what Ergon says it will do and it is very easy to use and live with as a constantly used piece of gear. I highly recommend one.