Monday, December 31, 2007
Yesterday I struck out and did a little cross country skiing. The snow was pretty good and the conditions were perfect. I had to keep myself from doing the "dog off the leash", go for broke and destroy myself mode and I throttled the enthusiasm back a bit. I tried to take it in moderation because cross country skiing uses some muscles that I don't normally employ so vigorously in cycling or my everyday activities. I was glad I did pull back because by the time I got back to my car, I could begin to feel those muscles start to "bark" at me.
As I took the skis and boots off in the snowy parking lot I noticed one of those plastic shopping bags, like you get at the grocery store these days, blowing around. I decided to be a good steward and pick it up. The trash can at the parking lot was across the way from me. As I approached, I saw something strange sticking out of the trash can. Four little deer hoofs! As I looked in I saw the carcass of a deer that looked as though it had been butchered and been stuffed into the can, frozen for all to see. Nice.....really nice. Good thing my kids weren't around.
Then it was off to find a sledding device..........for me! My two children have their own saucers that we got at White Sands National Monument, oddly enough. Now it was my turn to find a new board, sled, or something to fly across the snow with, gravity assisted of course. Well, after hitting up two stores in the Cedar Falls area, I came up empty handed. What? I can go into the middle of the desert in spring and find more snow sledding equipment than I can in Iowa in the middle of winter? That just is sooooooo wrong!
Then I noticed that of all the toys there were available, the vast majority were for indoors, and the outdoor toys were mostly scooters, bicycle shaped devices, or electric vehicles. Yeah.....just great! Indoctrinate the tykes into car culture while they are impressionable. Ever notice that those electric abominations are better quality than the bicycles they sell? It's evil I tell ya........EVIL!
Well, if one person can make a difference, I'm going to. I'm going to have my kids outside as much as possible, riding real bicycles, and I will find a sled! Even if I have to go back to White Sands to get it.
Happy New Year ya'all!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
About That T.I.V4.... I got my first notice of a drop............from the waiting list. Ha ha! Sorry if you were expecting a drop from the roster, well it is a bit early yet, but I bet I'll see some here and there soon enough. I'll keep ya'all informed of what is going on with that. I have gotten about an add a week to the waiting list since registration has closed back in late November. Volunteers are also being lined up now. I have at least three solid commitments and a possible fourth. I am thinking that we need at least a minimum of six bodies and eight would be even better. If you are interested, you can click the e-mail link in the right sidebar here or on the T.I.V4 website. We'll be needing these volunteers to run the checkpoints of which there will be at least three of along the course. I'll be posting details of how that will work and where they will be after the recon.
The Numbers Are Down: With all of this hi-tech stuff you can get these web trackers and keep track of your stats on things like this blog. It seems that the cyclists must be in hibernation or eating tons of Christmas candy and feeling guilty about it, because the stat numbers are down lately. Even mtbr.com seems to have fallen asleep lately. Gotta love it when the most exciting thread on the 29"er board is about punctuation! Well, I'm doing my best with it and I have been posting a Top Ten 29"er Products List of 2007 over at Twenty Nine Inches. I don't mean to brag, but it's gotta be better reading than at least 80% of the threads on that 29"er forum right about now!
So, What's Next? Well, besides T.I.V4 recon, and some planning for the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo in June, the next big deal 'round these parts is Frost Bike, the annual dealer only show put on by QBP. It used to be called an "open house" event, but that doesn't begin to touch on what it has become. It is definitely a mini-trade show and dealer meet-up. Lots of stuff to see and folks to talk to. It takes place in about a month and a half and I'll be there once again as a reporter for Twenty Nine Inches. (Why we haven't shortened that to T.N.I. yet I have no idea.) I have been informed that I will be busy, so that is definitely something to look forward to. I have got to be there on Friday night this time, so a two night stay will be happening. Woot woot! Maybe I'll pitch a four season tent on the QBP grounds and invite Dave Gray to sleep over with me. I know he'd be down for that, except he would want to use his tee pee!
Friday, December 28, 2007
Well, it is coming whether you like it or not. 2008 is almost upon us and with that said, here is how I see things going into the new year for this blog and for Guitar Ted Productions.
Much like the image I have posted today, things will be a bit vague at first, but will be coming into focus as the first few months of 2008 unfold. There will be some changes going on and I want to undertake the coming actions with the greatest care and consideration.
The crux of what will happen is all balanced upon what is about to happen concerning my gig at Twenty Nine Inches. As many of you may know, Twenty Nine Inches is part of the Crooked Cog Network that is basically a bunch of cycling sites started by Tim Grahl. I started writing for Twenty Nine Inches back in 2006 and I was basically just contributing here and there. Tim liked what he saw, (well......read I guess!) and decided to start paying me a bit. Well, that "bit" is about to become a "bit more" and will be a really important part of my life moving forward. Obviously, when you get more money there is more responsibilities involved, so I have been ramping up my involvement in Twenty Nine Inches over the past year to get ready for this coming year.
It has been tough, basically doing two almost full time jobs. So, with the coming year I am going to strike a new balance in terms of the responsibilities I have that will allow me to do a better job at being a husband and father first, and to take care of my duties with my biggest financial supporter second. That will mean I will most likely be cutting back on time at my secondary job, the bike shop, so I can do more of what needs to be done with Crooked Cog during the day instead of late at night. Money is one thing, but not at the sacrifice of my family.
This will also mean that I will be able to look at more cycling opportunities which I am really excited about. Of course I'll be investing much of that time in testing stuff for Twenty Nine Inches, but that doesn't mean I can't integrate that with the "where" I ride and the "purposes" of the ride. Look for more ride reports here and probably a race report or two.
And with that said, I better get cracking on my training! must.......resist..........the...........Christmas cookies............. Ahhhh!!!!!!!
Have a great weekend, and ride your bike indoors or out!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Guitar Ted Productions would like to wish you all a safe, peacefull, and blessed Christmas.
I'll be posting again on December 26th.
In the meantime, check out my Top Ten 29"er Products of '07 posts at Twenty Nine Inches if you are craving some reading material on 29"ers.
Otherwise, I'll see ya down the trail!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Plan Your Season: Crap weather? Don't know what to do? Here ya go! This will take you to the U.S.A.C. Endurance Racing schedule. Lots of great looking events there including Wausau 24 Nats. Check that out. Then there is the National Ultra Endurance Series of events of which The Fools Gold 100 and Festival is part of. They are even having a SouthEast 29"er Meet Up in conjunction with this gig. Sounds pretty cool to me. Late Update: I found a post on 55nine's blog that lists the whole 2008 NUE series. Thanks to 55nine for the info.
Cross Iowa On Gravel: Nope, not Trans Iowa, (we used to be point to point!), no this is something different. Paul Jacobsen, a Trans Iowa vet and gravel junkie has proposed a ride in March of '08 that will traverse Iowa from north to south on "mostly gravel roads". Check it out here if you are interested. It is not a race, but just a fun group ride. Could be a good percursor to your Trans Iowa attempt, I suppose.
Happy Holidays: I'm thinking many of you will be gone traveling, visiting relatives, and otherwise just busy over the next week. Be careful, be safe! I'll be here scribin' through the duration, so if you want to check it out, there will be something here. I'm not making any promises though on whether or not it'll be good! For those of you that will be away, See ya down the trail!
Have a great weekend! Ride yer bicycle if ya can! Happy Holidays to all!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
If you are new around here, welcome! This is the sixth in a series that is recapping my exploits from 2007. Check the search box at the top of the header and type in "rearview" to find the previous posts. To the rest of you.....here we go again!
Interbike: The word means several things to different people. To some shop rats it is The Holy Grail, to some non-industry types it is cyclings version of Heaven, to a lot of folks in the industry it is an Olympic Marathon, Hell, and a Class Reunion all wrapped in one package. Me? Hey..........I'm just happy to be there! I kind of feel like I am somewhere I don't belong doing things I really shouldn't be doing. (In a good way, not in that "What is done in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas" way!) Anywho...........
Interbike on the media side, the real, big time media side, is a whole different ball game and I get an up close and personal look at it. The thing is, I'm on the outside looking in, since Crooked Cog is non-traditional media. And boy, let me tell you, the traditional media let you know it! Ever sit down for lunch in high school at the table with the popular kids by mistake? Yeah......it was like that! The vibe is really negative towards us. Weird stuff for sure.
The whole trip this year was highlighted by my first Outdoor Demo. Now this is the stuff that I know all you cycling folks would totally geek out on! I know I did. I mean, hey! They give you this little green card and you can pick any bike you want to ride, show them this magic little green card, and you are gone! You can ride $5000.00 roadie dream bikes, full on DH sleds, all the latest mountain bike trick rigs, or recumbents...........if you really want to! It's mad, crazy mad fun. Of all the times I wished I was in better shape in 2007, (and believe me...there were lots of times I wished that!) this was the time I would have killed to be in top notch shape. I rode myself silly those two days, but hey! Wouldn't you?
<==Lost Wages at night. What's in your wallet?
Since the show for us non traditional media is a marathon from start to finish each day, we don't eat, drink, or sleep right. The end of the show each day is spent downloading, processing, and posting information. Then you find something to eat, (finally!) but you have to walk miles to get to it. That takes time and more of your already depleted energy. It's a good thing I'm fat, or I'd be in big trouble! Ha !
Once in awhile you get offered to go out, (on your guests tab, cause I ain't got no money!) A few really cool companies and industry friends helped us out that way. (Thanks! I would've had a breath mint and a glass of water otherwise!) So, it's pretty cool to have met the folks I have and hang out with them. Even if they don't buy me dinner, cycling/industry folks are some of the kindest, coolest people I've had the pleasure of meeting. It makes me glad I'm in the industry I'm in. Well.......besides the fact that it is about bicycles!
<Mike Curiak's personal LenzSport Lunchbox bike. How many folks do you know that would drag their personal rig hundreds of miles away from home just to let you ride it for an hour?
In the end it is the people in this industry that make doing Interbike so cool. (Traditional media folks aside) People like Mike Curiak, Brent and Ryan from Twin Six, Mike and Jason from Salsa Cycles, the Jenson USA crew, and so many more. I really could go on and on. Without that it would be so draining and empty, even with all the bike stuff around you. So, thanks to you cool cycling peeps! You make going to Interbike fun!
Like any big trip, going home is always the best part, (Right Mom!) and going home from this show was no different. Las Vegas is so..........weird! I just really appreciated my wife and family even more when I got back.
That was Interbike and that was the last really big deal of the year. I had a ride planned for the end of October, Trans Iowa registration, planning, and recon to think about, and planning for next years Big Wheeled Ballyhoo was also on tap. All of that in the next and final installment of the 2007 Rearview.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"I always purchase the products myself that I test so that I can give an unbiased review, unlike a lot of the magazine tests you read."
On the surface of it, it seems an innocuous statement, but really, it's pretty cheeky. Let's take a look. First and foremost it has to be said that everybody is biased. It never happens that some of us are biased but some of us are not. Sure, you can occasionally find a fairly unbiased view from time to time, but there is always some element of it in every ones opinion. I do not have a problem with bias as long as I know what that bias might be and that the reviewer knows he has it.
Secondly, to say you don't have a bias because you bought the thing with your own hard earned cash is laughable. If anything you would be more prone to be biased, since if you bought something that sucked in several ways, I'm thinking you wouldn't be very quick to let the world know that your judgement was poor. That is human nature. Of course, opinions can vary on this, but the point remains, their is bias there regardless of the exchange of money, and perhaps more so.
In defense of this statement, I can perhaps agree that an independent review could be more free from influence because of ad revenue to the reviewers company or influence in regards to favors, kickbacks, or just plain ol' friendships between reviewers and companies. Of course, this usually is pretty easy to detect these days, since if a mainstream review says something that most independent sources do not, it becomes quite transparent that something is amiss at the mainstream media outlet. You just have to do your research and use your melon. Well.........you should always do that when reading anybodies stuff in regards to equipment reviews. Mine included.
Went for a tumble: I had a good laugh yesterday on the way home. I was crossing the exit ramp from University Avenue to Green Hill Road on the Diamondback Overdrive Pro 29"er when I was faced with a transition from pavement to a three foot high frozen wall of snow and ice. I thought I would just huck that front wheel up there and hop on over. Well........I managed to stick the front wheel into the face of it! Yeah..........ugly. I found myself slamming into the back of the stem with my chest and felt the bike biff me in the back. Then the bike slams into the pavement on its side with a resounding whack! I know that was a YouTube moment there that would have provided thousands with a serious belly laugh. Well, no harm done, no foul. I collected my self and the bike and went on with my commute none the worse for wear, but a bit embarrassed perhaps.
Late Addition: I posted earlier but there was something nagging at my conscious that I knew I wanted to post about. Well........it finally came to me! (Apologies to those early morning readers that missed this!) I have been reading of sponsorships, non-sponsorships, and vague racing plans for 2008 on several blogs, so I figured I may as well post my thoughts on the subject.
Not that I'm going to have anything definite to say here. (!!) Just some thoughts......okay? So, I'm in for the Blue Mound gig, it would seem, since a certain head honch at Twin Six has unduly influenced me with his nefarious arts. Not that I wouldn't wear the apparel anyway, it's fantastic stuff and I've been a fan since Mr. 24 introduced me to the line and I actually was a paying customer. Now that I'm a member of The Team I get a bone thrown my way now and again. (Refer to bias rant above) So there is your full disclosure there. And.........I could always say no. It's not like I'm a robot or anything, ya know. But anyway...........Blue Mound, yeah.
Then there is the Dirty Kanza 200 which is a fantastic event run by some super cool folks. I'm down for this and will not be deterred in my intentions. I was frustrated last spring in not being able to go due to having to play at a friends wedding. I do not foresee any such hindrances this time. I look forward to this one with great anticipation.
Perhaps I may be seen here again, (link is to the 2007 info) if this happens again. It was a fun time and I was reacquainted with the bug to do more of this sort of thing at this event last fall. Perhaps a reunion of Team Stoopid ? Who knows?
So, that's my tentative race schedule for next season. I might sneak in another thing here or there, but this is the only vague prediction I am willing to put out there now. More as it becomes clearer to me..............
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
<===Hoarfrost on the trees Monday morning.
As I made my way to work on Monday there was new wonder around every corner. This picture is definitely the poorest scene I saw, but it was the first one and I was already late for work, so.......
It was a special day for me, as it was my daughter's seventh birthday. Thoughts were on some pretty deep things anyway, and then there was this commute.
There is awesome, and then there is awesome! Take a look here for an example of what I mean. My world takes a little more scrutiny to find the beauty, Mike's screams it at you. (Screams in a good way, mind you) Here it is a little more difficult to find that beauty, that awe inspiring feeling. It is here, you just have to look harder.
I always think that the folks bustling about in their cars are really missing it. There is a precious commodity out there that is difficult to put into words that can only be had if you slow down, get out of your car, and pay attention. Especially around here.
<===Even though I was late for work, ya just hafta stop and snap off some photos, right?
So it was that I actually took my sweet time pedalling to work today. I was so happy to be on a bike and taking all of this in. It didn't matter that it was a 29"er, geared or single speed, or that it had the latest gadgetry on board or not. It was a bike, I was on it and pedalling, and the landscape was dressed to the nines for the occasion. Why waste that by putting my head down and pedalling faster?
<===One advantage of having a white haired beard. The "beard-cicles" are camouflaged!
When I finally got to work, I just took a few minutes to drink it all in just before heading in to the mundanity of everyday life. It was as if a dream was over when I walked in that door, but what a dream!
I'm so thankful I can ride a bike and get to experience the things that I do. It is what keeps me motivated to pedal just a little further, to hop on that bike when it is cold, hot, or in between. To find that next experience. To meet like minded folks. Share the ride, or to just ride alone. I just love it.
Monday, December 17, 2007
<===Just in case you were wondering....
I figured I had better proffer evidence of my Badger for those who have been curious. Here is where I'm at so far with it.
You can see that the frame has been designed from the get go for drop bars, but what you might not be seeing is that the fork has been designed for drop bars also.
The fork? Yep! It has a longer axle to crown length than a lot of rigid forks out there. Rob Pennell's idea here was to make it so the head tube didn't have to be freaky long and the fork blades, being longer, would make for a more compliant ride. The fork also could be swapped out for a 100mm travel suspension fork without changing the geometry too much. It's a nice option to have.
This all lets me use a "standard" stem with a "normal" rise and still have my hand position be only a couple inches below my seat height while in the drops. (which is the proper way to ride off road drop bars) The bars are the Origin 8 Gary bars, which I can not really find fault with and are much less expensive than Midge Bars are. I would pick the Midge over the Gary any day if it were not for the extreme difference in price which I do not feel justifies the minute differences between the two bars. I am also going to try the Tektro linear pull compatible drop bar levers on this build too. So far I have to say that the lever shape and feel look to be very promising.
The wheels are the special Bike 29 Royale set that use King ISO disc hubs and I have the Stan's Flow rims on these. I mounted up some wire bead ExiWolf tires and they aired right up with a floor pump. Cool! The rotors are a spare set of Avid BB-7 rotors with a 185mm up front. I will be getting some Avid BB-7 calipers here sometime soon.
The head set is a silver King headset that I recently got and it matches the silver Thomson post and stem.
So that is where I am at so far, just so you all know.............stay tuned!
<===The "TDVSL" set up.
One thing I forgot to mention from yesterday was my stem/handle bar set up on the XXIX+G. I used a combination of a Salsa CroMoto stem and Moto Ace 17 degree bar to achieve what I call the "TDVSL" ideal. What is "TDVSL" you ask? Well, that would be an acronym for "Team Dicky Virtual Stem Length", that's what. You see, Rich Dillen is the consummate tinkerer. I like that about him. He does all the lab rat experiments, I read about the results on his blog, and apply knowledge where necessary. That is how I came up with "TDVSL". Dicky arrived at the ultra short stem ideal and it seems to be working for him, so I thought that I'd give it a try. Only thing is, I did it a little more stealth like with the 17 degree bar, which allows me to use a more "normal" stem length. Either way, I ended up with "virtually" the same posistion as Dicky did, thus the "V" in "TDVSL". So far it's been brilliant, so I thought I'd publicly recognize my source of new found knowledge here. Thanks dude!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
<==The highly modified Raleigh XXIX+G on the anniversary of its coming to me last year.
I took a ride this morning on the XXIX+G. Well......I'm not sure you could call it that anymore. The only thing left original on it are the frame, head set, brake levers, left shifter, cassette, rear derailleur, chain, and front derailleur. Several of the aforementioned parts are on the radar for replacement, so that original equipment list will dwindle!
Anywho.........the plan was to ride to church this morning and play on the team I'm on, and when I was finished, Mrs. Guitar Ted and the Offspring were to meet me there and get me a ride home. So I headed out the door at the crack of dawn in single digit temps.
The roads were fine. Maybe some hard pack and a tiny bit of ice. The bike trails were excellent.......at first. (More on that in a minute)
<===The bike trails in Waterloo were all swept down to the "sleet-crete" surface!
The wind was very light and was not really a factor today. I used the WTB Stout tires today for the ultimate in grippage on the crusty frozen stuff. They were fantastic. I think the pressure was in the teens on the tires too, I have not checked them since I have gotten home. All I can say is they are great at low pressure. Very slow rolling on pavement, but awesome traction in the off camber icy sections and on the packed snow. The bike trails were swept, as I have mentioned, and were down to the icy sleet mixture that we got the first go around here. The sleet kind of melded together to form a huge ice sheet on the bike trails that I have dubbed sleet-crete. It's about like riding on concrete with the exception that the tires actually find purchase on the surface.
<===The "Blue Colnago Shot"
The thing about the sleet-crete is that I love riding on it since you can ride on it. Check out the photo to the left here. Look beyond the driveway to the bank. That's Cedar Falls territory and they don't sweep their trails! (Locals will see the irony in this)
I found a patch of the old, original Green Hill Road off to the north just a quarter mile from this spot that I could ride on. Yes........a dead end street that doesn't carry car traffic anymore all plowed and sanded! So, if any of you Cedar Falls folks can 'splain that to me, I'd love to hear the reasoning. Also note worthy: My computer said 10 degrees here, the bank sign- 14 degrees. Judging the bank thermometers that I have seen, I'd venture to say that my computer was correct- not the bank's thermometer.
<===It looks like my computer doesn't agree with the tale the bank's sign is telling me! (By the way, I'm still on summer time.)
Finally, the ride went okay, albeit quite slow and steady. High resistance training for sure! I was impressed by the WTB Stout tires in the snow. Great traction on ice too. Of course, being able to run the pressures so low helps a ton. I really need to get the tires on something super gnarly and rocky though. Then I think the tires real strength will shine.
That's it for today! One birthday down and one to go, then Christmas. Warmer temps are coming they say too. I say, Bring it! I want to ride some dirt again.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The weather has turned out to be calm for now, thankfully. Hoping that a forecast trend towards warmer temperatures actually happens so that maybe I can get out on some trails again. Otherwise I'll be XC skiing and gravel grinding for the foreseeable future. Of course, with Christmas coming and birthdays in the house on tap, I am not looking to get much bicycle stuff done anyway!
<====From Tennessee with love. Thanks guys!
In the interest of full disclosure, I recieved this jersey today from somebody that is entered into Trans Iowa V4. Now I must say that I'm not sure this came to influence me in any way, not that it could, of course. But...........it is awfully nice. Wool jersey and nice socks from a killer micro-brewery/cycling team..........well....it hits me pretty close to home, 'cause....you know......I like beer and wool jerseys............alot!
Not that I could be influenced or anything....it's probably just a way to say "thanks" for doing Trans Iowa, ya know. I wouldn't read anything into it..............
And now for some actual 29"er news................
I got a headset for the Badger, a Chris King silver one, that is. This got me to sling the wheels on it with the rotors and tires mounted. I also have the Thomson seat post and stem installed. The steer tube will only need minimal trimming. I also mounted the Origin 8 Gary Bar and the Tektro linear pull drop bar levers on it. The amazing work of Rob Pennell was spot on for the use of a drop bar. He told me I'd only need a "standard 100mm stem and a 20mm spacer", and he was dead on. Very cool!
Sorry, no pics until its done! And that'll be awhile. I still need cranks, maybe a front derailluer, gotta find the shifters, and disc brakes yet. So, like I said before, it's winter, I'm poor, and yeah......I just spent a wad of money on windows!
Well.......by now if you have gotten this far you are either clicking to your next blog or you already know about parts I - IV. (And if you don't, you'll just have to search for those. I ain't linkin' 'em no more!)
Now we're into the time of the year that would have normally found me winding things down a bit. Post RAGBRAI things at the shop generally slow down to a trickle. Well, not this year. I found myself nearly as busy doing repairs as I had previous to RAGBRAI, and all still without the assistance of a second mechanic. Then I got the crazy idea to answer a call put out by The Blue Colnago to join a single speed specific 12 hour team for the Iowa 24.
Well, why not? Being insanely busy was a way of life in 2007, why stop it now? So, having not pinned a number on since the Dirty Kanza 200 in 2006 and probably ten years since I last raced any XC venue I decided to join ranks with Team Stoopid. All I had to do was ride one of my single speeds and complete what? Two to three laps? Heck, a monkey could do that!
<===The Pofahl Custom wasn't quite ready for the Iowa 24 action, but it sure was sweet!
I had the new Pofahl SS, but only just, and of course, even though I was sorely out of "racin' shape" I knew that you should never, ever ride a brand new rig in a race. So this fine new addition to the Guitar Ted Stable was passed over in favor of the On One Inbred. I started riding it everywhere. I figured that even though I wasn't really in shape to do a race, at least I would feel comfortable with my bike choice. As the event drew near, I got kind of excited about going to an event again and seeing how things had/had not changed since I last lined up with a bunch o crazies.
<===Guitar Ted striking fear in the hearts of skinny XC whippets. Large and in Charge, Baby!
Well, needless to say that the endurance/24/12 hour thing is a far cry from the rooster strutting that I was remebering from back in the day. I had a great time, Team Stoopid won our category, (We were the only entries in it! Hey! It's race strategy that works!) I had a few beers, sipped some whiskey, and had a nice chat or two with some like minded folks that were hanging about the place.
Thanks to all who attended that little gig, I think I'll be expanding my race calendar for next season, but that's another post!
After all the fun and games I went home and started prepping for the Big One. The Interbike trade show that I was to cover for Twenty Nine Inches. I had appointments to line up, stories to research, and bags to pack. I was even going to the Outdoor Demo this time. That was cool! So, I spent alot of evenings at home e-mailing and strategizing. Work was a touch less busy, but we still had daily repair schedules that were full leading right up to when I left. Busy.......the operative word for 2007 you could say.
<=====Team Stoopid would like to take this oportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
That will end todays rearview. Next I will cover the Interbike trip itself, which will probably be its own post, and then we'll wrap things up with a final Rearview of 2007.
Then it'll be time to peek into the future. Stay tuned!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Oh! These are in no particular order, by the way.
1. Las Vegas. If you haven't been there, it is hard to explain this. If you have- 'nuff said!
2. Driving around Iowa for 30 plus hours with a car full of alcohol during Trans Iowa V3.
4. The feelings experienced around hour 40 of no sleep just after T.I.V3
5. Watching a Luther College athlete "breathe fire" at a campground in Decorah during the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, then ride trail all the next day while drinking said fire.
6. Mike Curiaks personal Lenz Lunchbox 29"er. By the numbers, and for the amount of travel this machine has, it should handle like a pig. The crazy thing is, it rides and handles better than some hard tail 29"ers out there.
7. How a certain individual was allowed to sell directly on mtbr.com (650B stuff) and another individual was blamed for doing this, (and wasn't) and got banned not once, but twice.
8. Somebody posted a thread on mtbr.com on the 29"er forum regarding his loss of feelings for his wife/marriage. While sad, (if not a hoax) it is very weird.
9. That we are getting the third ice storm in 2007 and we still have 20 days left to go in the year.
10. That I have the gig writing that I do and that people still enjoy reading my scribin' Now that's weird!
Monday, December 10, 2007
What exactly happened that caused 29"ers to be transformed to "legitimate" status? Read on...
Fox , Manitou, RST, DT Swiss,and Spinner forks: Previous to this year there were only three "real" choices in 29"er forks. Rock Shox Reba, White Brothers models, and Maverick forks converted to 29"er use. (And Maverick could almost be left out since, like Cannondales Lefty, it really isn't a 29"er specific fork) Now with the stalwart brands Fox and Manitou aboard, 29"ers have "legit" choices in the eyes of the non-29"er freak mountain biker. I added RST and Spinner because, like 26"ers, this will open the doors for OE spec on bikes that will be priced below $1000.00 and will be responsible for turning on more folks than ever before to big wheelers. The forks were not available early enough to get on '08 spec, but look for '09 29"ers to be spec'ed with these two brands in the sub $1000.00 category.
Tubeless Wheel Technology: While still in it's infancy, UST tires (tubeless ready UST) and Bontragers long anticipated TLR System wheels and tires have brought to 29"ers what thousands of garage tinkerers have been trying to do for several years now. To have a tubeless 29"er tire and wheel system that is reliable, safe, and easy to work with. Sure, you have Stan's, but arguably the only tire that really works and was designed for Stan's is their Crow model. That aside, the tubeless barrier needed to be breached before 29"er wheels/tires were ever going to be looked at seriously by some mountain bikers. Look for more UST certified Tubeless Ready tires to be coming to market over this winter time. Also, Bontrager will be expanding upon their excellent TLR System as well.
Sub $1000.00 29"ers: This price has been a barrier to entry for mountain bikers seeking to find out what this big wheeled stuff was all about. While their were a few bikes that broke under a grand with 29"er wheels, there really wasn't anything available that had gears and was significantly under a grand. That changed in 2007 and that category is set to expand even more for '08 and beyond.
Sub Categories of Mountain Bikes in 29"er size: While these bikes are just on the fringes now, their mere existence indicates that these categories of 29"ers are very well poised to become more of a reality in '08 and beyond. All Mountain, Free Ride, and even Down Hill 29"ers already are pounding the trails and are making 29"ers more than just an XC category bike.
G2 Geometry: This might be the single biggest development in 29"ers since Marzocchi decided to make suspension forks for Fisher back in 2002. Now the dreaded complaint that 29"ers steer too slowly, handle like barges, and won't do tight single track, ( all complaints that really were dubious before G2 anyway) can finally be put to rest. G2 makes 29"ers handle so much more like 26"ers that the leap from 26"er to 29"er will be much easier to make for new 29"er freaks coming on board. Look for this geometry to be copied by other 29"er producers in the future.
650B Bikes: The fact that 650B mountain bikes hit the scene in 2007 legitimized 29"ers. How? By making 650B the niche size that 29"ers were before it, 29"ers were finally seen as having "grown up". In fact, it might be that the 29"er markets maturation will become 650B's undoing. It is quite likely that despite the super human efforts and zealot-like evangelism of Kurt Pacenti, 650B will forever be an anecdote to cycling. However that turns out, there is no doubt that the passing of the niche mantle has helped 29"ers be seen as mainstream.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Too Cold To Ride?: Well, I decided that at single digit temps it would be rediculous to try to go out and test bikes. Besides the ground conditions are not exactly what you would call "normal riding conditions" for many folks out there. Of course I could ride gravel or just bomb around town a bit. So that may happen. But testing stuff for Twenty Nine Inches is on hold until the weather breaks.
Busy Schedule: It probably is a good thing I can't really test anyway. I have two birthdays next week and then Christmas after that with an anniversary on January 2nd. Kind of cuts into the riding times out in the dirt anyway........if you could ride in the dirt! Maybe this winter will break early and we'll be out and about sooner than last year when the last half of January, all of February, and a lot of March was a washout for riding. Then again it could be a long, snowy slog filled with XC skiing. Hmm.......maybe some snow shoe action?(I shouldn't get my hopes too high!) Maybe I'll wish I had some super wide rimmed single speed wheels and fat, fat tires for snow biking. Who knows?
And now introducing............A new blog link! Check out this blog about a tour from Alaska to the U.S.A. in a time that seems very far away, but wasn't all that long ago. It's written by a friend of mine and should be a great ride. Check it out here! Of course, the link is at the right side of this page anytime you come back.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Welcome to Part IV of The Rearview of 2007 here at Guitar Ted Productions. If you need to catch up, here are the links to the previous parts.
Now after the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo was over I thought I would have a bit of time to relax and not sweat three things going on at once. Well, thinking that things will be one way and actually having them turn out that way are often time two different things. Call it Murphy's Law if you will, but a "wrench" got thrown into those plans right off the bat! You see, after Mr 24 left the shop the boss hired another mechanic. Well, he quit right at the beginning of July. Not good! Not good at all.
The thing is, in Iowa you are going to be busting your butt at about this time for people getting ready to go on RAGBRAI, the ritual summer festivity here in these parts that takes place on the last full week of July. If you work as a wrench in a bike shop, you know what I mean. Well, not only did we lose our second mechanic, we also were scheduled to be an overnight stop on the RAGBRAI route, which meant even more folks wanted their bike for the ride.
So I had to buckle down and do the amount of repairs that Mr. 24 and I used to do together in a day. That meant I had my nose to the grindstone five days a week for three weeks straight. It was a successful run, and I did it, but it was draining and left no energy for other activities.
That included getting ready for my second Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. That thankfully was taken over by an interested person by the name of David Pals, or d.p., as I often refer to him as here. d.p. was kind enough to take on all of the route finding, cue sheet work, and logistics for the GTDRI this past summer and let me tell you- The Death Ride woulda been cancelled if not for him! There was no way I could have done it this past summer. We did have to decide to switch the date to early August though, due to a scheduling snafu on my part. I also only got in one gravel ride previous to the GTDRI and that was a recon of the course with d.p. Well..........I suppose you cold count my July 4th debacle. I was going out for my first long gravel grinder that day and on a nature break I took a miss step into a ditch and tweaked out my knee! Not good! I recovered, but no long gravel grinders like last year when I had done several hundred miles of gravel riding previous to the GTDRI.
The day finally came for the ride and I got there pretty much as a spectator since d.p. had handled all the detail work. You can read a detailed accounting of the event here, if you care to. I will only say that it was a great time and a relief from a year of craziness up to that point. We had to cut a bit of the original loop off due to inclement weather, so we tentatively planned a fall ride to do the whole route and get a sense of completion. Hmm.....another ride? Well, at least this fall ride would be a piece of cake to plan since d.p. had it all in the bag already!
Next up: My return to racing and the lead up to the craziness that is Interbike. Stay tuned!
Thursday, December 06, 2007
<==The View: Lots of blindingly white terrain on the commute lately. This is just outside the back door of the shop.
The commute to work has been totally transformed of late. The weekend ice got rained on, then snowed on effectively laying down a crust so strong and tacky that it's like running your bike on a nicely groomed trail. Well........it's almost like that!
There still are the streets, the parking lots, and the patches of open glare ice that are a bit sketchy. I just aired down the tires and went for it. I really, really try to avoid the studded tires at all costs because they roll so terribly slow. I just can not bring my self to mount those pigs up.
Notice the light. It is the Blackburn Voyager 4. Gotta have it on now after work if it is overcast. It gets really dark at 4:00pm now if the sun is obscured from view.
<== The analog air temperature reading device on board the Pofahl single speed reading a sub 20 degree temperature.
Yes, the commutes have been chilly of late too. This is waaaaay too early for the really cold stuff to come. We get close to 30 degrees in the afternoons, so at least the ride home is better.
I just hope it either stays this cold or that it warms up enough to melt this crap off. In between will ruin the nice crust and make the ride even slower. I can traverse the snow plowed piles right now as if I'm going up over rocks. This is very unusual since your generally have to dismount and walk over that type of frozen snow. It usually is the consistency of thick mud. Not ride able. I like it this way far better!
<===The "melt area" inside the shop where we leave our commuters to shed the days grime, grit, and frozen crap.
The tires I'm riding now are perfect for the conditions. The Schwalbe Racing Ralph is so compliant that it follows irregularities in the icy surface like foot prints and ruts giving me Velcro like traction in the rear. Up front the proven WTB WeirWolf LT is very grippy too. The casing is a bit stiffer though. The Ralph is bouncy and a bit squirmy at 25psi. I think off road low pressure for this tire and my weight is going to be closer to 30psi. In contrast I can comfortably run a WeirWolf at the low 20's in the rear and slightly below 20 psi in front. After riding this Ralph I wouldn't dream of going lower in back and I think 25psi front will be the bottom end for this tire off road.
It'll be awhile before that happens though. It looks as if more snow is coming, so off road riding will probably be replaced by XC skiing, if the predictions com true for us. We'll see. For now I'll have one more day of fun snow commuting at least. I better enjoy it!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Here is the thing, there is this innerweb that provides us with a portal to information. Now it takes what........three seconds and you are neck deep in information on whatever subject your heart desires. Lets keep it on bikes here though! So, you get sucked in, and before you know it, you are probably more confused than when you started and you've wasted several minutes, ( maybe even hours!) when you could have been doing something else. I would wager that you could have figured out a clothing system in that time, gotten it on, and been headed out the door for a ride. Or maybe you could have started a long overdue clean up of that bike of yours. Perhaps you could have gone down to the bike shop and test ridden that bike that you are asking about online and found out what you think of its geometry! (Novel ideas, I'm sure) Maybe you could have even been.........training! Whatever it is, it is better than sitting in front of this screen you are staring at.
I am as guilty as anybody. I suppose I should take my own medicine. Maybe I should just be quiet and hope you stay glued to this because I get paid for that part of my time here. But the thing is, in the long run I know you and I will be better off not sitting in front of this black hole. That much I am sure of. So, I'm riding as much as I can this winter. If I can't ride, I'm going to work on projects in The Lab, and if it snows a bunch, I'll XC ski. Whatever, I am not going to spend a bunch of my time here though looking at gobble-de-gook information and driving myself nuts. Nope! Not me!
Special T.I.V4 Related Notes: Due to the poor conditions of most of the states gravel roads, (ice skating rinks) the Trans Iowa Tune Up Ride that was to take place over in the Gilbert, Iowa area has been cancelled. Also, T.I.V4 recon that was to take place Thursday has been postponed to a later date. I'll post an update when something has been decided about the recon or on any upcoming training rides.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Time again to move forward with the rearward view! Part three of my year end retrospective on what has been happening here at Guitar Ted Productions is here. Check out Part I and Part II if you missed them.
Post Trans Iowa V3 was spent getting settled back into a groove at work. Mr 24 who had been my co-worker for nearly five years and co-conspirator on all the Trans Iowas was moving on to Ergon to pimp the green. He never really indicated that he would not be working with me anymore at that time, but I knew we had worked side by side for the last time. I hated to see him go because I have never had so much fun working with someone before in my life. On the other hand, it was fantastic to see him get what he had worked so hard to achieve and I am not the only one that thinks so. In the end I am very happy for him. No one deserves it more than he.
So, with the shop down to effectively one mechanic going into the busiest time of the season, I had to buckle down and everyday was a slog. Top that with getting ready for the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo and I wasn't getting a whole lot of riding done. The Ballyhoo was an idea concocted on the fly. It all started with a suggestion that we hold a 29"er meet-up here in the Mid-West. I based the idea off of George Wissel's "Meat Up" that he held in Vermont. I was thinking low key. Just hangin' out with maybe 20 other guys and riding. Drinking and eating, just like George's idea.
Well, one thing led to another quickly. Before I knew it, I had companies wanting in and my Crooked Cog Network leader wanting to make it a part of Twenty Nine Inches. I had been steadily writing for that site since the beginning of the year and things were taking off on that end too. More stuff was hitting Guitar Ted Productions door for testing, so I was having that to do as well.
At any rate, the Ballyhoo wasn't really officially "on" until March and we were going for a June date! Added to this the fact that Tim Grahl and I were the point men and we had absolutely zero experience in putting on any festival and you can see the lunacy in this plan.
Well, as the days approached for the festival we were sweating details and wondering about the turnout. Weather was a concern and it rained heavily before the event. The sun only was forecast to be out in fitful bursts throughout the weekend. It was what it was, and we went forwards anyway.
As it turned out, we were sorely disappointed in the turnout. We didn't get anywhere near what we had hoped for in terms of numbers. Tim and I felt like we had let a lot of people down. We did get some encouraging words from the manufacturers present that were showing bikes. We got some raves from those that did show up. We all had a pretty good time, I think. Well, good enough that we decided to get this up and running again for 2008. We are shooting for June 21st and 22nd as the dates this time. We'll see if we can put together a better promotional package and get more folks out this time. But this isn't about the future! Back to the "rearview"!
I must say that through all of that experience Tim and I were so blown away by the people involved behind the scenes. People like Rich Gosen, Jeff O'Gara, All the Decorah Parks and Recreation folks, T-Bocks Bar and Grill, Decorah Bicycles guys, all the guys and gals at Salsa Cycles, Gary Fisher Bikes, Raleigh Bicycles, Niner Bikes, Titus Bikes , SlingShot Bikes , and all the other companies that showed bicycles. We were surprised that anybody like this wanted to be a part of the Ballyhoo. Thanks!
That takes us up through June. If the first part of the year sounded busy, you ain't seen nothin' yet! I had the Guitar Ted Death Ride yet to do, Interbike, and a whole bunch o repairs for RAGBRAI. Stay tuned for part IV !
Monday, December 03, 2007
Thought I might have landed hard enough to do some damage but I'm just banged up. I'm missing a little piece off the top layer of my skin there, that's all. That was through three layers of clothing!
So, my plans to do a little ride were put off until later to see if I was all right or not. Then, we had quite a squall around 11:00am. So, I put it off until after lunch. Well, by this time my wife was having none of me going out on the ice, so I didn't push the issue.
I see that ol' Blue is still running about though, and while reading about his exploits I saw a mention of his desire to put on a little fun winter time cyclo-cross race on ice and snow. I hope he does it, because I spent some of Sunday throwing together a bike for it! Studded tires and all. Well, no pressure on him. If he doesn't do this I'll still get out and ride this old rig any way, just for the fun of it. I'd like to swap out the handle bar and stem yet, so I'm not quite there, but soon!
Maybe what I really need is one of these steeds so if I get lost out in Hartman Reserve I can start my own campfire! I still can't get over a bike that carries white gas in its frame tubes. Crazy stuff! The right tool for that job though, I suppose.
If we have all of this ice, snow, and freezing temperatures already, this may turn out to be a long, dreary winter. I have some nice new trails to consider for next year though. I know a guy over in Prarie Du Chein that has uncovered a bunch of sweet single track right in his own backyard. He also has some killer gravel loops out that way. I guess I'm going to have to swing over there next year sometime for a taste. Looks fantastic.
Okay, it's looking like another day without the bike! Schools delayed two hours, sub 10 degree temps, and ice all over the streets. It's all conspiring against my demented plan to ride my bicycle! Well, there is always tomorrow, but then again......I see another storm taking aim at us! Ahhhh!!!! When will I get to ride again!
Heck, maybe it'll snow enough for XC skis and I won't have to worry about the bike for awhile!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
It's sort of like sand on my sidewalk. Cold, slippery, white sand. I suppose you could call it sleet, but whatever it is it sucks for riding. Although I know some guys that did go out today.
I wasn't one of them. I stayed indoors today and tackled a few chores. Some things I needed to give attention to. The thing is, a Saturday with out riding is not natural for me, so I felt confined and restless all day. I did take some time out to play guitar at insanely loud volumes while the family was out to a movie, so that was a little fun during an otherwise dreary day.
Well, Captain Bob at least had some fun. He got to test out the new Schwalbe Racing Ralph today. I'll be posting more on it later, but there seems to be an issue with the width of it. Not as wide as we expected. Hmm........
Tomorrow is supposed to be wicked windy and I suppose this crap on the trails will be turning to a sheet of ice within the next few days. That'll put the kabosh on any testing for awhile. Maybe we'll get some warmer temps and it will clear up soon, who knows.
In the meantime be carefull out there folks.