Wednesday, April 30, 2008
<===Cory Heintz commandeers a childs rig for some good laughs at Checkpoint #2.
When we arrived, we were fed some first hand info indicating that there were indeed five riders still out on course. The three leaders: Kucharski, Gorilla, and Farrow, but the remaining two were complete surprises to me. Charles Parsons and Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey were still plugging along. We recieved info that four of them had pased through Delhi, which wasn't far from Checkpoint #2. This was awesome news to d.p. and I for a couple of reasons.
First, we knew that our course re-routes had worked. We were most pleased with this fact. After all the miscues and stories of riders not seeing our course markings south of Cresco, we were really relieved to hear that the protocol seemed to be effective in getting the riders up the right path.
Secondly, we were stoked to hear that we had more than three riders up the road. Now it seemed possible to have some finishers in Decorah afterall. This was shaping up to be something good after all.
We took things at ease for awhile in Earlville. d.p, and I were bushed from all the re-routing stresses and the length of our day was fast taking it's toll. Joe and Jeremy, two of our Checkpoint #2 volunteers, fired up a grill and we all shared some steak. A few beers were consumed and we had some relaxing times mixed with good conversation for just a bit. John Gorilla's wife Adele was there, and we chatted a bit with her. She seemed confident that her husband was going to come through fine.
We left the checkpoint at the fall of dark and continued on with our recon. Immediately the roads were pock marked and frost heaved far worse than anything we had yet encountered. I was down to driving at about 20mph or less most of the time.
Then we discovered another miscue coupled with some really bad roads. Frantically d.p, and I looked over the maps, drove to a few points to check on some things, and set a plan in place. We went to work only to be checked up by a fallen tree that blocked the entire road. We needed to use this section. So d.p. went up on foot to mark the corner and I stayed behind and broke off branches by hand. I pitched branches into the ditch as fast as I could, thinking to myself, "How do you swallow an elephant? One bite at a time."
With that section marked we turned our attention to part of the course we had seen that was impassable by car, but looked all right for cyclists. We had to hoof it around two foot deep ruts and three foot high frost heaves. The road was unrecognizable at this point and felt like fluff under our feet. Weird, but rideable. We set to marking the corner as best we could.
Since we couldn't drive the actual course from this point, we decided to go around on pavement to Edgewood. Through some earlier intelligence provided to us by our other photographer, Marty Larson, we knew that the road out of Garber was under about five feet of water. We set to bypassing that and the sure to be under water crossing in Bixby State Preserve just north of Edgewood.
<===The straw that broke the camel's back in car lights.
We decided to look at an early cut from the T.I. course on Glacier Road. We had considered this stretch in our early planning but discarded the idea when we got serious about making choices back in the early winter. The road starts out as a meandering slightly downhill stretch. Then it gets really hairy!
Glacier Road takes a big dive downhill at an incredible pitch, which in great conditions would be muy dangeroso, but in the state we found it, it was death waiting to snap it's jaws on an unsuspecting cyclist. We were still willing to entertian the thought of going this way, but at the bottom, nature vetoed any thoughts of choosing this solution.
<====.....and by the light of the camera flash. Imagine using a marginal light at an approach speed in excess of 40mph!
The downhill, rutted and rip rapped by the recent rains, was about a mile and a half in length if you only included the steep section. Yeah......some fast descending! So finding this at the bottom was not good. Added to that was the fact that the big rocks you see were loose, moving, and slimy from water when you walked on them. This put the nail in the coffin. T.I.V4 ended here for us.
I suppose we could have routed the guys on pavement, but at an hour approaching midnight and on a Saturday night at that, I wasn't about to subject the remaining riders to that risk. Keep in mind, beer cans littered the roads as it was, a constant reminder of what locals call fun 'round these parts.
It wasn't even a discusion on our parts. I think we just knew it was time to do the right thing for the riders safety and to keep from having the cue sheets/re-routes spiral out of control. Riders with 200 plus miles in their legs are not usually the sharpest tools in the shed. Sorry if I offend anyone with that comment, but I have seen it for three years running. It is what it is.
We ventured back to Edgewood, picked out a likely finish line and awiated the leaders.
Next: The Endgame
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
<===The leaders make the first checkpoint.
After the West Union stop, d.p. and I motored straight to the checkpoint to see how things were there. I met Bruce, one of our new volunteers, here for the first time. A great guy and he was a huge asset to us. Also reconnecting with Redgie and Steve was good. Everything looked settled and ready for the riders arrival.
Then they came. Always a bit of chaos whenever the front runners show up at a checkpoint en-masse. The guys handled it well though.
d.p. and I had to drive up out of Wadena to get a call that wasn't coming through. Seems that Wadena is stuck in the last century when it comes to communications. Not that it is a bad thing, mind you, it just is. This would become a sore point very soon!
<===d.p. ambles off a large mudslide on course.
We decided we better high tail it outta Dodge before the troops mounted up, so off we went back out on course. Everything was clicking well until we rounded a corner and saw a huge pile of mud, grass, and tree remains blocking the roadway. Amazing! A real mudslide in Iowa.
Well, we thought about trying to head off the riders at the checkpoint, but we remembered- no cell service! So, we tried going over the top. Good footing was found so we marked out a route for riders to follow.
Just as we completed the task, here came the lead group. We yelled at them to "hike a bike! hike a bike!" and they all dismounted with wide eyes. John Gorilla approached the pile first, but at a point we hadn't marked out. He hadn't seen the flagging yet. He stepped into the gooey mud and went up above his calf in brown ooze. Brian Hannon took one look at that and was scampering off to the ditch, crossing a barb wire fence, and running down the pasture to circumnavigate the slide of earth. Team Polska and a few others including Charlie Farrow and Joe Kucharski figured out the "path" was marked and smartly shouldered their rigs and disappeared over to the other side. Gorilla followed and then they were gone. d.p. and I were left behind with our chase vehicle to find another route around the obstacle.
d.p. and I had to go way out of our way to get around this, so by the time we got back on course at Volga, the riders had already passed through. We noticed our cues were incorrect, telling riders to turn into the river when they should have gone left. Well, we didn't see anybody wandering around confused, so we thought we would investigate. We found the riders up the road, on course, south of Volga. Joe Kucharski yelled at us as we passed them by and for good reason. We screwed that cue up. Our fault, and we knew it. The one thing I regret is that we didn't go back and mark it, but it wasn't too hard to figure out you don't ride into a river, I guess!
That and a couple of other miscues were the result of the winter and the inability of us to get out on course. It just wasn't possible with ice and snow blocking roads for months on end. Lesson learned. We do another T.I.- we get this part done before fall sets in. No exceptions!
We continued on to a point where d.p, and I had been before and exchanged a "B" road for a road a mile north that we thought had some cool hills. Well, I didn't recall that they were "killer hills"! As we drove them, the steepness and the fact that they were headed straight into the unceasing wind was overwhelming, and we weren't even riding! I understood why riders were taking so long to get to Winthrop after seeing this situation on course.
We stopped in Winthrop and grabbed some eats at a convenience store just off course. It was about 4pm, and we were waiting to see how the lead group would fare. Well, after waiting for awhile, we felt the urge to go up the road and we left with the knowledge that our photographer, Rob Walters was to be staking out there. A pair of eyes that would come in rather handy a bit later.
Our big concern here was a mile and a half section of B maintenance road that we were almost sure would be flooded. We were prepared to do a re-route and we figured the rest of the course would be fine. Well, after checking out the first mile section of B road that looked just fine to us, we got an eye opening!
We crested a hill and saw a lake. A huge lake that wasn't on the map. It inundated our course at its midpoint, covering a mile section of road with its waters that glinted in the late afternoon sun. It really was a pretty sight, but it horrified us. We quickly scrambled looking at the maps and planning a re-route that would be simple to follow and avoid any flooded areas. We busied ourselves with duct tape signs and flags, following the protocol we set up in Decorah the evening before. We called Rob and asked if he had seen any riders. Strangely enough, he hadn't yet. Wow! They were taking a long time! We told Rob to forward the info about a course re-route to any riders he saw coming through. Right then, he cut us off because he saw three riders coming.
We hung up with Rob and the cell phone buzzed to life again. This time it was Brian Hannon. He was reporting his DNF due to knee issues. I asked him if he was with any other riders. He said, "I'm sure no one else is up the road on us. You haven't seen anyone else, have you?" I replied that I hadn't, explained our situation, and Brian said, "Well, the other guys were just here, I'll run out and see if I can flag them down."
I felt we had done our best to get a heads up out there. Mostly due to luck than a plan, but none the less, there it was.
<===Actually, it was quite nice here.
We finally got the course re-route taken care of and we were back on track again heading for what we were sure was to be another re-route. Well, it couldn't have turned out better.
The B road was totally passable. Dry in fact. Weird! We couldn't get around a log that had been floated across the path by high waters, so we went around to check the backside of this sector of course. As we did, we didn't notice another SUV pull in behind us. Well, the roadway was so narrow, we couldn't even turn the car around. We were backing up when we saw the other SUV with a couple inside it. The guy jammed on his accelerator, whipping up mud and dirt as if he was angry at us. I found a wide space in the path, pulled over enough to let him by, and stopped. He saw that, stopped, threw it in drive, and stomped his pedal like a oversexed teenager with a hot rod and nowhere to go. Wow! I waved as he passed by, but I doubt he noticed.
Next: The second checkpoint and a bit of satisfaction.
Monday, April 28, 2008
<===Riders bustin' a 25mph headwind with 40 + mph gusts just south of Cresco, Iowa. That's eventual third place finisher Charlie Farrow on the right.
Lying in bed on Friday night in a hotel room I could hear the wind screaming over the top of the building. "Good", I thought, "Maybe that'll dry things up a bit for us."
Well, I was right, it did, but it nearly roached the whole field of racers in the process! But I'll get to that in a minute. First we had to get this beast cranked up. So let's back up a bit and take a look.
I had told the racers that they should make sure they got to the start good and early. I figured I might help avoid the last minute arrivals to the start line like we had last year. What I didn't count on was that almost everyone heeded my warning and that the temperatures were so cold with a biting west wind. I arrived at the start with d.p. and Brother Mark at about 3:20 am and there were already several riders milling about. Apparently, several folks actually camped out at the start line. At any rate, a lot of the field was there and huddled behind some dump trucks and heavy equipment trying to shield themselves from the wind at 3:35am.
At 3:50am, I walked back behind the trucks and stuff and called the riders out to start. After a few words of caution, I honked the horn and pulled away at 3:59am. One minute of mercy shown to the bone chilled riders. Off we went up Quarry Hill Road. Team Polska and a few others tried to circumvent the neutral start by bypassing me on my left, but they quickly fell back in line and followed me out. What I didn't know until later was that one rider had sped over the last hill on Ice Cave Road just as we were pulling out. He was in such a hurry, he lost it in trying to make the corner to jump in behind us and did an awesome power slide, gathered himself up, and joined in at the tail end of the line. That rider was eventual winner John Gorilla.
I sped on ahead after I was satisfied that I had gotten the field strung out enough to avoid mishap and parked along the side of the road to wait and see the spectacle of lights and bikes pass by. it's always one of my favorite sights during T.I.
We corner marshaled the first turn onto and off of pavement just north of town without incident. The wind was still howling.
Then we went on ahead to Cresco and waited at the Kwik Star for the riders to appear. they were later than we thought. This was bad for the prospect of finishers. It was clear already that if there were to be any, they would be selected from the first bunch of about 15-18 riders that appeared on Highway 9 that morning. Only one guy peeled off to stop and the rest kept moving.
Snow was swirling in the streets and the wind kept on howling.
d.p. and I then hustled to the low water crossing to re-route the riders as we had explained at the pre-race the night before. Then we went to a point just south of there and settled in to see what we could see of the leaders coming up the road. Our photographer, Rob Walters called then and said, "Hey, what's the deal? The riders are confused because they can't go across that water." I said that they had missed the flags we put up and that they needed to turn around and go back a bit. Rob said it looked as though they were doing just that and that he would point them in the right direction. Crap! I couldn't believe our flags were that poorly placed. We had them as close to the road as we could get them.
At any rate, the leaders finally came around. Rob snapped some photos and then we chatted for a few seconds. Just then, I got a call from Paul Jacobson that explained that another large group of riders missed the flags too. I was bummed! Our idea seemed to be not working out too well.
<===The lead group powering up Main Street in Protivin, Iowa
Then we headed on down the course, checking on any thing that might be wrong, but the course was fine and we were not seeing any mistakes on the cue sheets. We got to West Union and decided we were hungry. I knew the lead pack would be too, as they had bypassed the first two convenience store stops on the route so far. West Union was a full on 80 plus miles in, and I knew they would have to stop.
And the wind never did let up.
<===Convenience Store Chaos!
T.I. always brings madness and frenetic energy when riders pull into convenience stores. Befuddled locals are left with jaws hanging open and slightly frightened teenage girls behind cash registers are just some of the more surreal high lights of these stops. It is a chance for me to check out bikes, set ups, watch strategies played out, and learn a thing or two. I get to chat with the racers and get a feel for how the event is being recieved. For me personally, it is one of the highlights of a Trans Iowa. Some of my most cherished T.I. memories are from stops just like this one. Strangely enough, it would end up being the only convenience store stop on the whole day.
And the wind still screamed..............
We left West Union and being confident in our course from there to Checkpoint #1, we decided to go directly to the checkpoint. Tomorrow, Checkpoint and Checkmate!
<===In keeping with the T.I.V4 header theme, I saw this while scouting the route Friday.
"If we don't get anymore rain, I think we'll be okay", I wrote d.p. in an e-mail Thursday afternoon. Well, those turned out to be the proverbial "famous last words" as we got a thorough dumping that night of Biblical proportions.
d.p. had so much water at his place on Friday, he couldn't get out of his driveway due to the water in the street. We both had water in our basements, (as did a lot of you out there) and we both had an event to put on that required us to be at T-Bock's in Decorah by 3pm on Friday afternoon.
Not much time to do a whole lot.
So, I did an emergency drive on the first section of the course. I figured that if we were to be able to even have a start to the event, I needed to find that out right away. Thoughts of cancelling the event all together were very real as the flood waters were spread across miles of usually dry Iowa farm lands.
I found that all of the course that I could drive was still dry. It was apparernt though that we had just barely escaped having to cancel T.I.V4, and of course, I could only look at the first quarter of the event. The low water crossing of the Turkey River was the only place I had to make a go around, and that was easily taken care of. I barely got into Decorah by 3:00pm to meet up with some of my volunteers and check in with the fine folks at T-Bock's who were preparing our pre-race meal of spaghetti with homemade meat sauce/vegetarian sauce.
The gal that made the sauce had started it that morning at 10am and had me test taste the two sauces to make sure I liked them. Huh? You'd have thought I was somebody important, or something. Weird, I thought, but the sauce was excellent, so I gave them the thumbs up.
<====Doing the pre-race. Not my favorite thing to do, but somebody has to do it, right?
I had help stuffing the race packets, the least stuff we had ever put in those bags for any T.I. , and then folks started trickling in. We had a very successful pre-race meet up, judging by the disappearing food and surprising amount of beer drank. I saw a lot of familiar faces and made some new contacts as well. The pre-race meeting was fine. I had to explain the work around at the Turkey River. I showed the guys the tape and told them how to read the signs we were going to put up. When I asked if they all understood that, I got blank stares. Silence. Well, I found out later that my specific instructions were lost on some of the folks, or completely forgotten. More on that in another post, but it would be an important part of things down the road in the story of T.I.V4.
Next: The Race Starts!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
<===No, this isn't on course!
I went out today to check up on a few loose ends regarding the Trans Iowa course. On the way up, I had an option to drive off a paved road for a mile further north and then a right for a mile back to a paved road, saving me from going out of my way and going through a small town.
Whelp......I crested the hill you see in the distance into this! (You can click on the pic to make it huge) The Dirty Blue Box slid, and I mean slid, into a full on stop. Wheels spinning. Stuck! Just great! I get trapped by a B road that I didn't even know was there.
Well, I wasn't about to give up. Honda Civics are pretty light cars and I'm......well, I'm big! I saw that I could move the car a little bit. Maybe a little bit was all I needed.
I first tried to throw the car in gear, steer with one hand while pushing with my shoulder and other hand. Some small amount of progress, but at a very painful and slow rate. So, I had to get a little radical.
I figured I didn't have anything to lose, so why not try something a little risky. I put the car in gear, turned the wheel in the general direction I wanted to go, and went around back and heaved ho. The car's tires started to roll forwards and I did the old "pulling guard" routine around the end of the car and leapt into the open door. I goosed the pedal and I was off. This was on a downhill and the car was actually skidding/sledding more than it was being driven. Be that as it may, I avoided the foot and a half deep ruts and made it out to much more solid ground. Door clattering open and shut all the way down.
<===Just after the release.
The car didn't look too bad actually. I found out soon enough though that I had compacted some nice gooey clay behind one of the wheels causing a horrendous vibration at about 50mph-60mph. So, I went faster!
On gravel, the Dirty Blue Box, (now a much dirtier blue box) wasn't dealing with the rises and ruts very well at all. I about went into the ditch several times at 35mph due to bottoming out or hitting soft spots in the road which would want to jerk the car off in an unwanted direction. After I got home and told Mrs. Guitar Ted about my adventures, she insisted that I switch vehicles. What am I gonna say, ya know? She loves me!
So, the Dirty Blue Box is staying home and the all time four wheel drive SUV is getting the call to get in the game. Sure, it gets crap gas mileage, but I'll have a much better chance at actually staying on the road! That's kind of an important thing, I think.
<===Speaking of staying on the road...
If you are doing Trans Iowa this weekend you just might come across one o these horsed carriages. They were everywhere today. Keep in mind, horses don't really cotton to cyclists to well. Think you are a predator, they do. Give 'em a wide girth on the road, or heck, stop and let them go by. Ya got 34 hours to get your business done, fer cryin' out loud!
Yeah, that's a ghost image of the Michelin Man on my dash. You aren't seein things! It's a bobble head I got at Frostbike a couple years ago. The Dirty Blue Box makes his head go all crazy at times. Pretty fun to watch! Well, if you aren't too busy trying to keep your 13 inch wheels on the gravel, that is!
Well, I'll be doing Trans Iowa this weekend so this is your last post here. Check out the T.I.V4 site for audio-blog updates on the latest from the gravely goodness. See ya Monday!
<===Not the "chainless ride" I was looking for!
I decided to roll the Raleigh XXIX+G yesterday with the excellent WTB Stout mounted up. Got some muddin' in on the ride in which the Stouts handled just peachy.
On the way home though I remembered why I hadn't ridden this rig in a while. The ISIS bottom bracket was going out. Crunch! Pop! Every once in awhile I'd feel it. Then a click started up. The chain started jumping gear and then wham!
The derailluer busted off the aluminum hanger just like it was designed to do, thankfully. Nothing wrong there, but it smacked the seat stay and took off a bunch of paint. Of course, I was left walking the last mile in to the house. Cool thing: A "regular joe" on a Huffy asked if he could lend a hand. Whelp, the damage had been done, so I just waved him on. But that was nice I thought.
So, now the questions started rising up in my head, what about doing this? I could try that. You know, scheming in my head thinking up what I could do now that I have the opportunity. One by nine it? Single speed, but how? Fix it back as is? What about paint?
I think 1 x 9 will win out and probably painting it is in it's future too. Stay tuned!
Trans Iowa final recon today. Certain situations have arisen that require it. At any rate, the folks freaking about last minute details will have something to add to the files. I'll be audio-posting some course descriptions later. Stay tuned for that.
I'll be driving The Dirty Blue Box and it'll get tested. Raining now and it looks to be doing so for a bit yet. Gritty gravely crapola should prove to be the demise of my faltering brake pads, but we'll see. I'll try to take it easy on 'em!
Late Update! I ran into Rich Kelly who blogs the Interbike Times blog at Sea Otter last week. He had the craziest idea: Put me on video. You can see it here if you dare!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
With last years unprecedented fine weather, we had a record number of finishers. That record will remain untouched, I assure you. There are several reasons why. One, the course is about 20 miles longer. It has more climbing, that I am reasonably sure of. It also has more "B" maintenance roads than last year.
We also will not see as many finish because the conditions will not be as favorable. Recent conditions bear this out. Wet weather forecasted for the next two overnights would seal that in stone. There was nary any mud/soft gravel to be found at last years T.I. That won't be the case this year. Winds were a slight factor last year, but mostly were favorable. This year that is not likely.
The roster is still in flux. I'm still getting a drop per day on average. That will likely be the case right up till Friday and we will get no shows. I'm figuring on seeing approximately the same figure for the start as last year, perhaps a few more, (which would be a record if that happens) Given the rain scenario, I think we'll see even less than last year. My guess? 65 folks will toe the line on Saturday.
Finishers? Given current conditions and knowing the course, I'd say less than half the number from last year. Worst case scenario it could be that no one will finish, depending upon winds. Without a serious wind factor I'd guess 12 will see the finish line. Those who do see Decorah on their bikes on Sunday will have earned much respect.
I am perhaps sounding a bit harsh here, but I'm trying to be realistic. I know that this Trans Iowa will be the toughest one to complete, ( that is possible to complete, outside of T.I.V2) and will most likely be the most difficult event of the year for all involved. It will require smart decision making, mental toughness, and physical stamina. It will be an event that will perhaps be harshly criticized by some because of these things. It will be highly praised by some for the same reasons. I just know that all the work and preparations are about to come to an end, and I can't wait to see it through and be finished for another year.
Here's to a safe event, a fun event, friends, and good times. I'll see you all on Friday night.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
<====With Love From Arsbars.
Arleigh Jenkins and I both worked Sea Otter together for the Crooked Cog Nation and whilst we were there the cranks she had sent me showed up at home. Vintage Cooks brothers that will go on my Pofahl single speed. The Profiles on it now will go out to Arleigh who needs 'em for some testing. Always help a bike friend in need, ya know?
While not really schwag in the purest sense, it qualifies as something pretty cool, so I put it up here anyway.
SRAM had a press conference: a two hour long press conference! They introduced a whole slew of new products including a bunch of new handlebars. Well, if you were patient and stayed the whole time you were rewarded. I got these sweet new Noir carbon bars. Yes......they came in the plush red velvet sleeve!
Elvis would be proud!
<====Once again, thanks to Arsbars!
Arleigh strikes again! Yeah, she is pretty relentless on the 650B front and while asking about the wheel size at the Intense booth she mentioned Twenty Nine Inches. The Intense guys wanted us to review the tires, so here we have a set to get aquainted with in the coming weeks.
I also got other stuff, like your t-shirts, shot glass, (may come in handy at T.I.V4!) ,stickers, water bottle, and some other sundry items. I try to only bring home the really cool stuff, cause you can get too carried away. I mean, how many water bottles do you need when your cupboard is filled already with them? Anyway, I didn't expect to be bringing home this stuff, so I am very grateful.
Look for reviews on the bars and tires soon. Plus, I actually bought and paid for some Endura Humvee 3/4's and a short sleeve Halcyon wool jersey. I'll be writing some stuff about those soon too.
Until then.......it's Trans Iowa stuff.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
<===Wind wasn't the right word to describe this!
Well, I'm back from Sea Otter and I'm bushed! Yesterday was pretty spectacular for several reasons. first and foremost, it was dang cold and super windy! Things came crashing down, poles were snapping off, and cows were seen blowing through the air. Well.......I made that last part up, but really, it was bad!
<===A view of the hills from the single track we rode at Laguna Seca.
I did actually get to ride this time around. Jason Boucher, Tim Grahl, and myself toured the 10 mile loop. It was super hilly, fast on the down hills, super tough climbs back up, and very dusty and windy. (there is THAT word again!)
I was flabbergasted while pushing up one of the steepest slopes into the crosswind when my bike flipped up off the ground due to the force of the winds. It was as if we were about to be blown into Nevada, or something. Crazy! I've ridden bikes in wind stronger than this only once and it is kind of scary. We made the best of it though and had a great time anyway.
<===Tim as we waited during a "nature break"
The ride really worked me over. I sure hope Kansas isn't this windy when I ride there in May. Strangely enough, the grassy hills bore more than a semblance to those Kansas Flint Hills.
I was glad to get a ride in California in again. That's two years in a row now for me. The riding is so different there, and I am not used to it, but I'd like to be!
<===Jason is all smiles after his little stop. How do you spell relief!
It was great to ride with Tim again, which rarely happens since he lives in Virginia. Of course, watching Jason shred is getting mind boggling. He is fine tuning his health and it is showing. I know he won't admit this, but he is super fast!
So, I'm all back home again, I think. I don't know.....maybe some of my marbles got blown outta my head there yesterday!
<===I will leave you with this image of the Sea Otter. Say Cheese!
Now it's time for Trans Iowa.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
<===It's another way to ride a Big Dummy, dummy!
Sea Otter is a big bicycle fest of the best kind. Lots and lots of really cool folks and bikes rolling around at all times. You just never know what you might see around the next corner.
I was standing at the Twin Six booth when up walks a couple of tall leggy blondes with their tops nearly undone. The one speaks up and asks Brent, (One of the Twin Six super cool dudes) if she coud get a jersey for a friend, "that was a bit locked up." British accent on top of it all. Weird! You just never know, ya know?
<===Jeff Jones talking to a festival attendee about his custom bike.
Their Are racers, famous bike people, and their bikes all over the place here. I'll be on the look out today for more, because this is our last day here. Tomorrow morning at "dark-thirty" I'll be on my way back home to Iowa.
Can someone make sure the sun is turned on when I get back? I'm getting used to it out here and I'd miss it dearly, I'm afraid, if it isn't here when I get back!
Friday, April 18, 2008
Well, it's day two of Sea Otter and last night was a pretty stellar evening with francois of mtbr.com and Jason and The Salsa Crew. We went to Hula's and had some fantastic fish tacos and great conversation.
Went back to the hotel and blogged, went to sleep, and woke up today to a covering of fog and colder temps. Looks like it'll be a woolie wear day, good thing I have my sheep's hair shirt with me!
I'll be doing some sleuthing and maybe even getting to ride later. Gotta mark off California on my Exotic Places Ridden Ridden Bingo 2008 game!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I spent most of day one getting re-connected with old aquaintences and picking up some news. I love 29"ers, but I just about ripped my head out of it's socket when I saw this Tomac 10th anniversary drop bar replica bike. Way cool details like the original drop bar, laser etched with the "JT" insignia by Cinnelli who made the bars way back in the day. Some German collector provided Tomac Bikes with them. And a Dura Ace 9spd STI lever mated to a bar end front shifter. How about vintage Manitou flat lack and lettering on the new Manitou fork. Just a super cool rig, and it's torched up by the guy that made the originals too, Chris herting, who used to weld Johhny T's bikes back in the day. Hurry if you want one, only ten will ever be produced, all custom made to order.
<===Carlos, take notice!
There are always some crazy company rigs around. Check out this Durango done up in primer green and blue belonging to Oakley.
Pretty crazy stuff.
I saw Mr. 24
He's fit and ready to rage!
More coming. I've got to run and try not to get too sunburned!
We all made it to San Francisco today, Tim Grahl, Arleigh Jenkins, and myself, for the big Sea Otter to-do tomorrow. Tim got a rental car and they were trying to get him to upgrade to a Caddy. He declined and paid regular price, and look what we got!
The thing flat out hauls the mail and has a growly exhaust note that would make any teen proud. Cool stuff.
<=== Flying down the 101.
We made it on down To Monterey eventually after goofing around here and there. We got in with the Twin Six crew and had some beers and food later on. Good times were had and lots of tall tales were told.
Tomorrow, it is all business though and I'll be a runnin' foo!
<=== Got my lunch from this joint today!
Ever had anything from this place? Lots of organic, healthy sort of stuff here. I had sushi spring rolls with wasabi sauce and some flax seed tortilla chips with olive humus. Washed down with natural fruit juice Raspberry lemonade. Good eats! When in Cali, eat like the Cali folks do, right?
Okay, more tomorrow when real work will be getting done. No, really!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Trans Iowa News: Even though I didn't get out in the Dirty Blue Box to do any Trans Iowa recon, that doesn't mean I don't have some news! Oh no! I got yer news right here: Gravel Road Conditions- soft, wet, and slow with water sitting on top of many saturated sections. Some parts of the route are still primo dry and fast, but other sections are needing some sun, wind, and time in both to recover. Fortunately the weather looks to co-operate on this one for at least the reast of this week. Volunteers have been called up. If you have contacted me about volunteering and didn't hear from me this weekend, get a hold of me! Some of your spam filters are a bit over zealous!
Sea Otter Trip: I've got one more "normal" day after today and then it is a day of travel to California to hit up Sea Otter and see the new stuff being introduced, catch up with old friends and new, and walk that long, steep hill up to the media center umpteen million times! I'll obviously be posting at odd times throughout the rest of the week, but do stop by and check out the latest. I'll have my camera at the ready and I will have wireless access everyday at Sea Otters media center and at various wifi terminals along the way to and from. Regular postings should start again a week from today.
Sunday Night Camp Rides: Bike Tech is starting up something I think is long over due for these parts: Casual Group Rides. Yep, for road and mountain bike seekers. These are going to be "no rider left behind" type of fun, skill building rides that will take riders from this area beyond the bike paths and introduce them to the next level of cycling out there if they want it. My main interest will be the Sunday evening mountain bike rides at Camp Ingawanis. You'll need a helmet, a mountain bike, and a Camp Pass to jin in. See Brent ( The Thin Man) at Bike Tech for details on this exciting new gig. Yeah, there is roadie stuff too, but don't ask me about that! Ha ha! See ya out at the Camp soon!
Sunday, April 13, 2008
<===Well, I suppose I could ride my bike...heh heh!
Sometimes even the best laid plans can go awry. Another way to say it- You can't always get what you want. But if ya try sometimes, you're gonna find. Ya get what ya need!
Saturday was just such a day.
With plans of scouting out the T.I. course out the window due to my Dirty Blue Box's work not being done yet at the shop, I graciously accepted an invitation from Matt Gersib (MG) to ride instead. Now I had never ridden with MG before but I knew him to be a great guy that is a really great rider. I was flattered that he would want to tow me around Iowa gravel roads for an afternoon.
<=== Wolf Creek, Two bikes, Lots of wet soggy gravel = FUN!
What an afternoon too. With temps in the mid thirties, a stiff Northwest wind, and sleet/snow pelting us, we took off from Traer, Iowa to do a loop of indeterminate length. I know this area pretty well, so I pretty much flew by the seat of my pants and we ended up being out for about two and a half hours.
<=== MG proved to be just the medicine the doctor ordered for getting through a miserable afternoon.
If you haven't had the pleasure of riding with MG, you are missing a great riding partner. He made what would have been a "quitting day" a succesful and fun ride despite it all.
This is one of two stops we made when I had to fix my slipping seat post. Otherwise we pretty much had to keep the pedal to the metal the whole ride as it was either wind, hills, soft gravel/mud, or a combination of all three that conspired to make our wheels stop turning. Sleet squalls would occiasionally blow up with their stinging assault and when it wasn't doing that, it was blowing snow that greeted our determined faces.
<=== This pretty much sums up what the gravel looked like all the way 'round our loop.
Generally, there were three good tracks to run in where the car traffic had made the surface compacted and rideable without too much resistance. However; this was also where all the watery slop resided on the road, so we quickly accumulated a fine spray coating of lime all over everything.
There were times when the surface deteriorated into soft mush/mud and became highly resistant to the passing of our wheels. In some turns, my semi-slick 2.0 tires were slipping and drifting around which was kind of fun, but sketchy all the same. We ended up on about a half mile of rutted out fresh gravel/stone that was the result of the road having been flooded over recently. We crossed back over the Wolf Creek and back into Traer where Matt's car was waiting. He offered me a ride back to Waterloo, so I accepted and he dropped me off at my home safe, but very tired and wet.
<=== Dirty Twin Six socks. I promised to get 'em that way!
Matt figured our two and a half was worth about four- four and a half hours of regular conditions riding. Umm........okay! I'll go along with that! It sure was a lot of work. This being my first real training ride for Dirty Kanza, I was drained. I got home, cleaned up, and took a good long nap. I got up very stiff, so a little "vitamin I" was in order.
Today I am feeling it, but in that good way. A great ride to build on and a new cycling friend. I'd say it was a stellar afternoon of cycling goodness. Say, was it cold? I can't even remember it being cold or really that bad at all. Thanks MG, that's what a good riding partner can do on a craptastic day.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Getting The Ride Together: Another thing I've been tweaking on, and that I've mentioned before, is the Dirty Kanza rig. I've got some stuff bolted together and I hope to roll it on some gravel for testing this weekend. Sunday most likely. I sometimes look at the bikes I am considering, and I probably look like I've become paralyzed. That belies all the activity going on in my brain as I assemble and re-assemble these two rigs in different configurations, adding or subtracting bits and pieces, considering nutrition and hydration, figuring out the whole and how it might work. Mike Curiak calls it thinkering. Man, it can be exhausting work.......really. I hope to start the process of elimination and hone in on a set up soon.
Trans Iowa Details: Besides the field work on T.I.V4 I have some organizational work concerning volunteers, photographers, and equipment necessary to put on the event. David Pals is working feverishly on the course turns and getting everything detailed out for cue sheet production. Prizing has rolled in with some still on the way. We have to stuff race packets yet, after the cue sheets are done. Final details on the pre-race are still to be nailed down. Gee.......it must be two weeks to Trans Iowa!
And Finally.... I leave for Sea Otter in a few days. So, packing up for that event is also on the agenda, but I might have to put that off till Monday night. I don't know, I think I've got a few things on the plate for this weeekend, so maybe I should hold off on that. (!Ha !)
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Well, we're stuck in this seeming holding pattern of crap-tastic weather lately. I wake up this morning to the sound of rain and see that the temperature is a balmy 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Great!
I suppose I could suck it up, don the rain gear, and call it tough man training. Or, I could just call it what it is. Crappy weather! I really do not see the need to run my self into the ground in this stuff. 'Causes sickness, it does. Mama always said so. Besides, I've been running myself into the ground at work anyway. Everything is traning, right? I mean, I've done over 60 repairs in three days, so it's not like I have time to sit around, ya know? Lots of walking, lifting, and wrenching. I call it base training.
I can only hope that the weekend is better, but now they are talking snow! Wet and cold, even if that is wrong. I guess I'll have fun while checking a few things out on the Trans Iowa course any way.
I've been tweaking on the Pofahl lately. Getting bits to turn it into the long hauler single speed gravel machine. Mounting bottle cages here and there. Got a top tube bag. Now I only have to have some time to test the set up. I may invest in a small frame bag if it all works out, or I'll transfer over to the Blackbuck and go from there. We'll see, but we have to have some decent weather first!
This all may have to wait until post Sea Otter and post Trans Iowa. Busy times require desperate measures. Craziness.............
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
I don't have a problem with the things Greg has said, but if you are going to make loud statements that reflect nergatively on "the hand that feeds" you had better be prepared to do it standing alone. And that is exactly where Greg is going to find himself shortly. Expect more spectacular statements from Edina, Minnesota soon......
Trans Iowa Pre-Race/Meeting Details: I am currently in talks with T-Bock's in Decorah as to the exact details of food provisions, but here is the pertinent details to you Trans Iowa freaks. Be there at T-Bock's on Friday April 25th at 5pm-7:30pm for the pre-race meet up and meeting. Race packets will be handed out later in that time period, but don't even e-mail me asking when exactly. Just get your warm body in a seat there and be on time. If you miss this, you will be not starting. No exceptions. Good times will be on tap, you'll have a chance to ask all the questions I won't answer and maybe some I will.
Afterwards you will have a chance to catch a few "z's" if ya'all are not too nervous and then wake up at "dark-thirty" to line up for the start which will be exactly at 4:00am Saturday morning. You will be required to reach the first checkpoint by 2:00pm and the second by midnight to avoid being DNF'ed. The finish line closes up shop at 2pm Sunday and that will be followed by a brief post race activity to be announced.
Any questions? Can't make it? Please e-mail me at email@example.com and let me know!
Too Wet To Plow: This dratted on again off again rain is keeping our trail networks too soggy to use. We could use a long dry spell and perhaps, if the future forecasts are correct, we'll be getting just that. Of course, I'll be in California attending Sea Otter right about then!
Oh well! At least ya'all will get a break here!
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
<===Salsa steel stem---Nice!
I got in some new bits the other day. First up we have the classic Salsa steel stem. Salsa calls it the "CroMoto" and I have several of these. They look good, don't flex torsionally and come in lots of configurations. This one is a 80mm reach X 90 degree model. (no "rise") The "Lip Lock" face plate is pretty bomber. Very secure grip on your 25.4mm bar of choice.
Next up we have this little German number from Acros. It's a very finely made headset that resembles a certain well known American made headset with a "royal" name. Light, has super smooth cartridge bearings, and comes in several smashing annodized hues. This one is going on my black Raleigh XXIX+G which is black with red accents. Brilliant!
<===It goes "clickety-click-click!"
Here we have an old name from the past with a surprisng product. This freewheel is an Onza product made under their sub-brand "Tensile". Remember Onza? Yeah, the porcupine, the white tires, those miserable clipless pedals, that Onza. (Not the mythical Mexican cat, by the way)
Onza now is into trailsin and BMX over in the U.K. of all things. These freewheels are some of the first bits to re-enter the U.S. market. This freewheel is an 18T, has 60 engagement points for quick engagement, has a hardened Cromoly case that is hard nickle plated and installs with a Shimano bottom bracket tool. Completely user serviceable too. I've got mine on my OS Bikes Blackbuck right now.
<===Gears be Gone!
I kind of miss my Raleigh XXIX which I had to sell due to its being a size too small for me. So I am going to convert my XXIX+G with this Rockwerks single speed conversion kit and review the parts for The Bike Lab.
Notice a red theme here? That's the thing I liked about this converter kit. Let's hope I like the way it works just as much!
The spacers are alloy, and it comes with two stamped steel cogs in 16T and 18T sizes. The tensioner is a "push down" only tensioner, which is okay with me as long as I get my chain length right. I'll be getting the XXIX+G together with this soon. Which raises a question: Will it then be a Raleigh XXIX-G ? Hmm........
I think I'll let my daughter re-name it. She always comes up with killer names for my bikes. Examples: Flying Pidgeon, The Crow, Oliver, Sky, Fire, and Aurora. Maybe some bike company should hire her. I like her names better than a lot of the ones that are decalled onto the frames I ride, that's for sure!
Anyway, look for updates on all these bits coming in the near future!
Monday, April 07, 2008
<===The Siren Song's siren song
I was able to get out both Saturday and Sunday for some short rides. Saturday was a special one for it's dirt content. I actually got to ride the Green Belt, which had been flooded out. Thanfully all the trash from the winter went down the creek. The trail was clear and of course a bit muddy in spots, but rideable.
It was also noteworthy as being my last ride on the Siren Song demo bike. I cleaned and packed up the Song last night for it's journey back to Idyllwild, California. It was a fun bike and I'll have a final review up on it at Twenty Nine Inches later this week.
<===Return of the Ano-Blaster!
Captain Bob knows this annodizer up in Shell Rock that will do small batches of bicycle parts, so we sent in some stuff for colorization. The way I figure, the rest of ya'all can live in your "black and white" component world, as for us- We're going color all the way!
I had a coulple things done and swapped them over to the OS Bikes Blackbuck this weekend.
I also switched over to an Origin 8 Spacebar for more comfort. We'll see how it all works on a longer ride, but as for now, it seems okay.
<=== Green- Anti-freeze green!
Here's a close up of the old Coda cranks I had anodized in an "anti-freeze" green. I was so excited to ride the bike afterwards, I forgot to wipe my greasy paw prints off the crank!
We'll see how the ano wears in the long term, but for now, I like the looks. Also of note: I went from 180mm cranks to these at 170mm. We'll see what differences I notice. I am taking a cue from some of the early Crested Butte 29"er freaks on this one. They were all big 170mm crank users. If there is anything to it, I'll post up the findings here.
Gotta have my purple ano, ya know, so off went this no-name aluminum number to get the hue. I like the way this piece came out a lot.
Here's a good look at how the Space Bar can be used in a riser position. I previously have used it in a "drop" position on my Raleigh XXIX+G and I loved it that way. We'll see if this is too high, and if it is, I'll swap it over to the drop posistion. Options are good!
Notes from Saturdays ride: If it doesn't rain much, the Green Belt should be completely rideable this coming weekend. However; we are supposed to get an all day rain on Tuesday, so that may put it off longer. Can't be long before we're riding out at the Camp, can it?
Saw the following animals in the Green Belt Saturday: A red fox, a Canadian goose, and a Great Blue heron. Awesome stuff. Most surprising to me was the fox, which was gorgeous. He was sniffing the breeze atop the dike between Ansborough and Fletcher Avenues. Crazy! Perhaps the fox are driven into the city by the coyotes, which I know are supplanting fox out in the country.
Noted: Last week was the final week Carlos worked at the shop. I'll miss seeing you there, but I'm sure we'll ride together someday soon. Take care Buddy!
Carlos was one of the "Three Amigos" that worked at the shop with Mr. 24 and myself. Now I'm the last guy there from that group. For how long, I don't know........
Saturday, April 05, 2008
I came home from work Friday and there it was! My package of goodies from Twin Six !
Now, long time readers of G-Ted Productions may remember that last year I was invited to be on Team Twin Six and this year they went and did it again.
Oh well, some things you just can't explain.....
So, anyway, here I am on my front porch, giddy and fumbling with my keys and my bike trying to get inside as fast as I can to see the goods. Believe me- I wasn't disappointed!
I liked this t-shirt so much I threw it on immediately over the one I was wearing and ran down to the school to pick up my daughter. She looked at it and said, "Skeleton faces! On Bikes!
Ha ha! Okay, yeah. I suppose gas masks kinda look like that.
I'll be wearing this little red number till it's threadbare, that's for sure.
When it comes to the jersey, Twin Six has stepped up it's game. I compared it to the one I got last year and this years versions are definitely nicer. The fit is better, at least on my tank-like carcass, and the material feels nicer. The older jersey is just killer, so you can imagine my thoughts on the new one. It's The Deluxe '08 and I got the matching socks in wool. Love those socks! The t-shirts rock, as always. If you have never worn one, you'll be in for a big surprise. They are the nicest t's that are cycling related out there. (I've noticed some others copying the fabric type lately for their cycling t's. ) The designs are really unique and the graphics are top notch.
So, Twin Six will be covering my pasty white skin again for 2008 and I'll definitely be getting it dirty and greasy! Thanks to Brent and Ryan of T-6 .
Friday, April 04, 2008
Checkpoint#1 109.26 miles You must check in by 2:00pm Saturday afternoon to recieve cue sheet set #2 to continue on. No cue sheets will be distributed past this time.
Checkpoint#2 207.25 miles You must check in by midnight Saturday to recieve your cue sheet set #3 to continue. No cue sheets will be distributed past this time.
Finish Line Decorah, Iowa: 345.00 miles You must finish by 2:00pm Sunday to be recorded as a finisher. All later than this time will be DNF'ed.
Notes: There are no convenience stores at Checkpoint #1. There is a small gas station off route near by. There are no overnight convenience stores at Checkpoint #2. There is a bar, and a small convenience store just off route that will close for the evening by about 10pm there. There are two re-supply options after the last checkpoint.
Remember, as always we will not consider you as in the event anymore if you miss a checkpoint. You are responsible for you. We will not provide a sag or come looking for you. Please be aware that you should have a way to contact your support person(s). A cell phone is highly recommended. If you are aware that you will miss a checkpoint time, or are planning to DNF, please call the provided phone number (you will get it at the pre-race meeting) to alert the event staff of your situation so we can pass on information if we are contacted by your support crew.
This is the longest, toughest Trans Iowa that has yet been devised. Plan accordingly. Make sure you have plenty of water/fluids, nutrition, and a warm jacket or covering with you at all times. Don't be caught out in the middle of nowhere unprepared! You have been warned!
The pre-race meeting details will be coming soon. Stay Tuned!
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Now if I could only type faster than 12 words a minute!
More Trans Iowa Thoughts: The laying awake at night, thinking mode has started with Trans Iowa and here is some of my initial musings.
I felt that this years course has even better scenery than last years does. Problem is, a lot of you folks will be running through these areas at night. Oh well!
Speaking of night, better get some good lights. Ones that throw some lumens up the road, 'cause you're gonna need 'em!
Checkpoints: Yes, plural. Checkpoints will be at about 100 mile intervals. Same deal as before. You reach a checkpoint, you leave, you get new cue sheets. This will cut down on the amount of sheets you carry, and help us keep track of you better.
Convenience stores: By my accounting there will be only three convenience stores open 24 hours along the route this year. There are other convenience stores, but none that do the 24-7 gig besides the three I know about. Let's just say this: You had better be prepared going into the night Saturday.
Okay, this is going to be a brutal course. Don't expect the cakewalk conditions of last year either. While there is always that outside chance that the winds will favor you, and the weather will be kind, I wouldn't bet on it. I still think last year was a fluke and that those conditions will never be repeated again for a Trans Iowa, but I could be wrong. We'll see!
More sleepless nights thoughts to come............
Dirty Kanza: Got a visit the other day from Joe Meiser of Salsa Cycles fame the other day. He and his lovely wife dropped by the shop to say hello. I was flabbergasted and I was super glad they stopped by. Not only are they cool folks, but Joe gave me some inspiration as to my bike choice for Dirty Kanza. Great to have folks that not only care enough to stop in and say hi, but also help you out with a problem. Look for the results of Joe's advice to be posted soon.
Where Did The Time Go?: Okay, I wanted to be the first to say that! I am looking at my calendar and thinking: Whoa! This month is going to be gone like THAT! And you all know what happens next. Yep! We'll be in the midst of summer next thing you know, and then I'll start seeing the leaves turn color the next moment. All this to say: Don't waste a minute this year folks! If it comes down to riding a bike or mowing the lawn this year, I know which I'm going to choose.
Anybody know of a good lawn grazing sheep that is family friendly?
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
As if my own embracing of fixed gear wasn't a sign of the end, we now have this little gem to show us that fixed gear has reached it's nadir. Courtesy of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN, as it is known amongst industry peeps) who ran the link under the heading, "Fixie Cruiser Of The Day"
The fact that BRAIN decided to use that title is a tip off that this whole fixie craze is now beyond being cool, or should I say, it has ceased being cool. Yeah............probably long before this, actually! It reminds me of an excellent article by Andy Corson about this very subject.
Kinda reminds me of disco too. Yep, disco music was cool at one time. Really! Long before the Bee Gees sang in that piercingly annoying falsetto in that one movie about a certain weekend night, disco was actually something sort of underground. Then it got ruined. I wore a "Disco Sucks" t-shirt everywhere I went back then. I hated that everywhere I went, it seemed that disco music had seeped into every nook and cranny of rock and roll. I found it all disgusting. Actually, it is part of the reason I am "Guitar Ted" today.
So it stands to reason that I should get myself a "Fixies Suck" t-shirt and start wearing it around everywhere, right? Well, I would, but at least people are riding bikes and I think somebody linked earlier has beaten me to it!
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
You know, the day when you read things in cycling news stories that are farces, but are pasted up as legit news stories.
This tired old practice needs to die. Yes, and even the site I write for, Twenty Nine Inches, fell prey to this hackneyed old ploy and has a goofy story posted for today. (Just for the record, I had nothing to do with that)
So, you may be saying, "Take it easy G-Ted! Ya ol' crusty retro-grouch!" Well, you might have a point there, except for the crusty part. I do keep myself clean!
The thing is, in an era where people are foisting all sorts of half-truths, non-truths, and out right lies, we don't need another day celebrating that kind of stuff. You say it's all in fun? I say it's a waste of time and it isn't funny anymore. I think April Fools Day is for people that are trying to be the next H.G. Wells. Sorry, but we've been there, done that. It isn't working anymore.
And for you pranksters out there, this is the day you must live for. Preying upon unsuspecting people that still think it is March and that they have at least another month till Tax Day. Yeah, you guys are really coming out of nowhere! As if we never would have guessed you would pick today to pull your silly high school level stunts on us. This isn't funny either, it is pathetic.
Come to think of it, April is really lacking for any sort of relevant, meaningful holidays. It pretty much stinks in that category and perhaps this is why we have to endure such mediocre things like April Fools Day.
Of course, there is the aforementioned Tax Day, which stinks even worse.
Ah......well, at least the trails are shaping up and I can get out in the woods soon to gain some sanity. I'm feeling a bit surly of late. Does it show? Ha ha!