Monday, June 30, 2008

Latex Chronicles: Success!

<=== The Pofahl set up as a long distance gravel cruiser.

This past weekend saw the success of my tubeless experiment. I was able to get out for two short rides on each day.

The short ride on Saturday was to help seat in everything and spread the solution around in the tires evenly to seal them up. The Vulpines rolled fantastic without tubes. Can you really feel the difference? Absolutely yes. Without question you can. For instance, I ran these tires at nearly 40 psi for earlier gravel rides and while the tires felt fast, they also bounced around a lot more. They also felt harsher as far as ride quality went too. So, maybe on pavement they were okay, but off road the smaller casing and higher pressures worked against whatever rolling resistance reductions I was getting.

I tried them at lower pressures too, with tubes. Then you could feel the rolling resistance go up, even though you now would have a tire that wasn't bouncing around a lot. Of course, low pressure on a tire with this smaller casing wasn't all that low, really. Maybe the upper 20's psi was as low as I went, or dared to.

<=== WTB Vulpines on DT Swiss TK 7.1D rims laced to SS specific I-9's

Now with the tires as tubeless, you can run them at 30psi or slightly less and they roll just as well as they used to with tubes at 40 psi, but have the bump eating qualities of the same tubed set up at this same pressure. Ride quality is phenomenal. Smooth? In spades!

I also checked these all day on Saturday to see if they were leaking down. On Sunday, I found that the front had nearly gone all the way down and that the back had lost some air too. So, I just refilled to 30 psi front and rear. Then I did another short ride. This morning both tires are holding pressures just fine. Success!

With confidence in the system now quite high I will strip off a few of the "extras" on the Pofahl and do some off road testing with the Vulpines again. (Or I may simply transfer the wheels to the OS Bikes Blackbuck for a bit) Either way, it is time to try some off road with the Vulpines again, especially since we are coming into their prime off road conditions here. Dry hard pack is showing up, but you have to know where to look.

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational Update: I put up some new information with a link to a new course on the GTDRI site. I am not going to beat myself down trying to figure out a way through roads in the originally intended area for the course. There are still frost boils, heaves, and recent flood damage that would make the first choice rather difficult to make work, if not impossible. I'm kind of bummed, but this second choice I know is, (for the most part I know it is) clear and it is a killer route from a hill and view standpoint. I'm hoping to put in a ride this Friday the 4th, or possibly Saturday, if I'm so persuaded. (If anybody wants to come along, they can. Just let me know in the next day or so.)

And again, just to be clear, GTDRI is open to all comers. Don't wait for a special invite, 'cause there ain't gonna be one. Just e-mail me beforehand and show up if you have a mind to.

This course will be single speed able, but I think I'm going to rock the gears this year and ride my Badger. It is what that bike was made for anyway. Stay tuned to the site for further updates.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Latex Chronicles: In Search Of Tubeless Perfection

Or: A Message To MG

Or: Guitar Ted's Lab Adventures Continue...

Last night I decided to take another crack at it. I wasn't about to let this get me down, or get the best of me. I'd come too far now. So I opened the door to the lab and descended down the creaky stairs to tackle the task once more.....

It all started when I was battling the tubeless system that was "supposed to work", but was causing me to suffer failure after failure. People were commenting online that they couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I was getting pretty discouraged, but then I discovered a couple key things I was doing wrong, and I turned the corner. I got some help in overcoming the tubeless beast and one of those good folks was Matt Gersib. (Thanks Brother!) One of those good guys in the world that make you have hope for humanity, anyway......

"MG", as he's referred to on these "inner-web-o-spheres", didn't just help me, he shared a recipe for a sure fire "ghetto" tubeless system. After my success with "approved" tubeless systems I wanted to take the next diabolical step towards tubeless tire domination. To be able to set up any rim and tire tubeless.......yeah! That was my goal.

So MG set me up with a tub-o-latex goodness and I got all the other "ingredients" necessary to convert my first tube tire and wheel set to tubeless. I chose my subject: Industry 9 single speed wheels using DT Swiss TK 7.1D rims. The tire was the WTB Vulpine. I set to work making the rim tubeless compatible. Tape, sticky, sticky tape, then lots of prodding into place. Inspection showed me that I was doing well. Add the tubeless valve stems, yes.......good! It was late by this time, so I hit the hay.

Sometime later I gave it a shot by mounting the tires and mixing up my first batch of latex "goo". I had developed a way to introduce the liquid into the valve stem by using an old plastic Coke bottle with a "V" brake noodle out the top and a short piece of clear vinyl tubing over the end of that noodle to the valve stem. It worked a charm.......on the first wheel! The second wheel didn't go as planned. Something went wrong, either a chunk of latex clogged the tubing, or back pressure in the rim cavity, I don't know, but the next thing I knew, I had white liquid squirting all over. I lost a significant amount of the precious liquid on the floor. I remixed a smaller amount to put in, and as I did, I realized that I had done the measuring wrong on the first wheel. I had about half the latex I should have had in the wheel.

After the mess was cleaned up, and I had the wheels finished off, I pumped them up. The first wheel went up fine with a floor pump. The second one I couldn't air up. I tried in vain until I was a sweaty mess. I got pretty frustrated and retired (retreated is more like it) for the night. I returned the next night and fiddled with the bead interface and finally got the wheel to air up. Okay, good. Now would they hold air? I did all the Stan's prescribed "shaky-shake" maneuvers, all the checks. So far so good. Now to wait till morning to see the results.

The next morning? Not good. The tires were flat. I got frustrated again because I had been planning to attend an event and wanted to use these wheels. They weren't working, so I abandoned them to the dark corners of the shop. Eventually, the event didn't happen for me due to lack of fitness/training. All efforts in vain, or so it would seem.

Well, eventually I got to thinking about these wheels and tires again, which leads us back to the opening paragraph. Where I go back down into the Lab for another stab at it....

Well, I remixed an entirely new batch of "goo", this time using correct measurements. I introduced the "goo" using my contraption, which worked flawlessly this time, and aired up the tires. This morning? Success!

After our morning showers roll through, I'll put them on a rig for a short ride. Report to follow.....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Where Are Fuzzy And DeJay?

My buddy, Mr. 24, alerted me to this Ergon contest. Here's the skinny straight from Ergon to you:

This is the first in a series of contests called “Where are Fuzzy & Dejay?”

The real question is, how well do you know your North American single track? As Fuzzy and Dejay criss-cross the country they will be sending Ergon random photos from their riding adventures. We will then take one photo per month and post it here for you, the consumer, to guess the location. First person to correctly identify the photo riding location will receive a select pair of Ergon grips for that month.

- How to Enter -Send Entry to: Email Subject line: “Where are Fuzzy & Dejay - July”Include your name, address, and photo location

What we are looking for is the actual trail name and State.For example, Slickrock Trail, Utah or 401 Trail, Colorado. This months contest photo is posted above.

- Rules of the contest -Please, only one entry per person per month. We will continue to take entries all month. The winner will be contacted at the end of the month. We have the right to refuse any incomplete or improper entry. Contest open to residence of USA and Canada only.
This photo will be posted until the end of July. This months select pair of grips is the GR2 in either small or large.

Hint: Turn left up the canyon. Then keep an eye out for the rocks and boulders on this trail.

Good Luck!
Okay, there ya go! A chance to win some sweet Ergon grippage! Check it out and have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ten Years After.....

<==== There are some good climbs out here at Hickory Hills. Better leave yourself a couple of clicks in reserve for the top of this one!

Ten years after...(I wonder how many Google searches will end up here from that title!) Yeah, it has been at least ten years since I have ridden a bicycle down at Hickory Hills in Tama County. We used to race there back in the day, and it was a pretty fun place to check out, if only for the climbing/descending. This picture shows the top of the old "middle climb" which is just as tough as I remembered it to be. Most of the trail is "double track" wide since they use ATV's to patrol the park with now days.

<===The weapon of choice for the day. The Salsa Cycles Dos Niner.

I was wanting to do some testing with the Intense EX-2 Stickey Lite tires and the Bontrager Inform RL saddle. I was going to head up north of Waverly to Cedar Bend. That is a park Captain Bob likes to use, but as we discussed this, Hickory Hills came up and I got the bug to go and check it out after all these years. I was really glad that I did too.

<=== Free toys included with every visit! I found this in the parking lot. Bonus!

The trails were recently mown and in decent shape, although you could tell that nary a bicycle is ridden on them, especially up top. Down near the lake I saw some tracks in the softer, muddier spots. Insects were so thick that if I stopped to take a photo, all I could hear was the buzzing and whirring of tiny wings. Yes, most of these were mosquitoes!

<=== The view from up top. Check it out! You can see The Dirty Blue Box down there in the parking lot.

The day was beautiful, sunny, warm, and not windy at all in the woods. Speaking of which, there are some pretty big trees here and there out in Hickory Hills. Thick green underbrush too. I felt as though I was in a jungle here at times.

<=== Green is our featured color today.

I had fun checking out the old trails and things started out just as I remembered them. You head out across the earthen dam from the parking lot. This dam is deceptively smooth looking, but in reality is the bumpiest part of the whole trail system. I was glad to be on board the Dos Niner, I'll tell you that much! Then after that rattle and shake, I turned right to head along the bottoms next to the lake.

<=== Starting to head up!

The trail starts to wind a bit and head left and up. You reach the old familiar intersection where the trail heads back down to follow the lake to the right, or you can go left. That way started out gently upwards with some big gentle curves which then led you to a hard left and a grind straight up the fall line that was probably the toughest climb anywhere near Waterloo off road. If it was wet, you were doomed to slip out about halfway up where it pitched upwards a bit more and there was nothing but dirt and roots to claw at. That isn't the case anymore. This climb has been modified and for the better, I think.

<===Old climb on right, new climb on the left...then right...then left again....

If you check out this picture, you can see the old climb, overgrown with low vegetation, on the right going nearly straight up. The new climb snakes its way back and forth across this old climb. It makes the climbing easier, but the descending is oh so fun! Dual slalom like corners and fast! Better have some good brakes to tackle this with any speed. I liked it much better than the old route.

<=== Nope! That's not single track, its a "Deer Highway" my friend!

Once up top I looked for the old single track off the ridge on the south side. It is all overgrown and gone though. What I did find was deer paths so beaten in that they looked like bicycle single track. Really clean and just the perfect width. A bit of weed whacking and you'd be done here. Trouble is, deer do not respect property lines and don't believe in loops. Sheesh! If only these animals could be trained!

I went onwards to the big downhill at the east side of the park. You used to have a clear field of vision all the way down to your left, but not anymore. The underbrush has grown up so high that you find yourself in a tunnel of vegetation nearly all the way down now. Still, it is a fun, fast downhill.

I did some other 'splorin' and I had a great time out there. Seems that my ride lasted only a bit more than an hour, but it seemed like a lot more. Hmmm.......musta been a time warp.

I say, let's do the time warp again!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Noisey Neighbor

It is summertime and the "construction season" is in full swing. Roads are detoured all across the Mid West. Folks are busy cleaning up and starting to rebuild around here, of course. Lots of building, renovating, and........tearing down is going on.

I know that a couple bicycle shops have their streets in front of them torn up with all sorts of "construction noises" to put up with. Well, the shop I work at has a neighboring store that is moving to the other side of us. They are demolishing the building there to rebuild a new facility. The level and kinds of noise we have had over the past couple of days has been, well..........rather unique, to say the least.

They moved in one of those crane apparatuses that is fitted with a huge bucket/jaw that can crunch, tear, and bash in a building in an amazing number of ways. This machine, which looks like an angry mechanized dinosaur, has been pretty busy next door making thunderous noises, rending crashes, and even shaking our walls from time to time. It is a bit disconcerting to be truing a wheel and suddenly hear this thing which seems as if it will crash through our walls at any minute.

Then the crew over there managed to start a fire which didn't get going until they were gone on break. The resulting commotion was short lived and the fire was put out promptly, but it was certainly a bit of a concern there for a bit.

I suppose there will be more construction goodness to deal with over the next few months, but I'll bet it won't be as chaotic as the last couple of days has been. At least, I hope not!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Get Your "Tour" Fix Now!

It is summer time and that could only mean one thing: It's Tour time! If you've been an avid reader of this blog for awhile, you will know that I'm not talking about Le Tour, no....I'm talking about a different tour altogether. This year, it is two tours at once!

Okay, so here's the deal for those who are new to all of this. There has been a race along the Great Divide running from the Canadian border to the Mexican border for several years now. This event is commonly referred to as the "GDR". This year there is a concurrent (or nearly so) race/tour going on that also includes a Canadian section of the Great Divide Route called Tour Divide.

Both events feature self supported athletes on bicycles following cue sheets outlined by Adventure Cycling . The cyclists must stay on the route as it is given by Adventure Cycling and must figure out their own logistics for food and shelter. Both events have their own blogs where the athletes progress can be checked out. (See hyperlinks in the second paragraph)

Both events got started earlier this month, but there is still a lot of time to get caught up into the daily dramas that are unfolding right now out there in the Rocky Mountains. Most participants are still in Montana and Wyoming with a few of the Tour Divide leaders in Colorado as of yesterday. It's like a cycling version of soap opera, only for real!

Several interesting stories are unfolding out there including Mary Collier's attempt at Tour Divide and Jen Hopkins, a 30 year old female from the U.K. who is attempting the GDR on a single speed and killing it! There is a lot more than this, we've got a racer dealing with the sudden illness of his beloved 13 year old dog, flat tire sagas, and more. It is riveting reading and I find it all great stuff.

Check it out over the coming weeks and see if you don't feel the same way. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't pass along my respect and best wishes to all those who toed the line at both the GDR and Tour Divide events this year. Allez!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Some 29"er Stuff: The Odd and the Shady

<===A bad pic of an Eastern Woods Research 29"er prototype.

Way back in the 90's, I had this thing for Eastern Woods Research bikes. I suppose it was the fact that they looked so different in that "erector set" sort of way. I see that they are setting out on the path of big wheels.

While the design is still off the charts as far as being different, I think the form follows function and there are some cool things going on here. The first is obviously the standover height, which is plentiful. The "bent" downtube is the other, which on a 29"er design will allow fork crown clearance galore. The crossing of frame tubing near the seat tube should result in a very stiff bottom bracket area and perhaps stiffen that front triangle. That triangle might still twist a bit though, seeing as how those top and down tubes are nearly in the same plane. That's my only concern here looking at it. Of course, a ride would tell right off. I doubt I'll be anywhere near one of these anytime soon to find out, but I would love to try out my theories on this with a test ride.

<==== Look closely before saying this is a 29"er!

This showed up on Ridemonkey and was put forth as a Specialized S-Works 29"er. Look closely though and you'll see that it's a fraud.

700 X 45mm Panaracer Fire Cross tires are pretty cool meats but not a 29"er tire. The clearance at the seat stay yoke is super minimal with these tires too. Check out the bottom bracket height. Yeah..........not much drop there. It's pretty obvious that this is a 26"er. Just goes to show ya. You have to be careful on the inner-web-o-sphere. Things are not always what the first seem to be sometimes.

In other news, I am starting to put my focus on getting ready for the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. A couple of notes here. Monkeywrench Nate stopped me at the Salsa Sol Sessions last weekend and asked if it was okay for him to come to the Death Ride if he wanted to. "Heck Yeah!!" Let's clear the air here.....ya'all are welcome! The "invitational" part throws some folks I guess. It's a spoof folks. Don't take it too seriously. In fact, that's the whole point of the ride. Sorry if I led anyone down the wrong path there!

Secondly, I have to get out and verify that the roads are even passable. No joke! Bridges and roads are severely damaged and impassable in several cases. Gravel roads don't get the love from the media, so I have to find out for myself where the damage may be in terms of my chosen course. Be prepared to be flexible folks. A total course re-route is not out of the question!

Then there is the 12 Hours of Blue Mound too. Maybe even the Ponca 155. Who knows. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ghost Town

<===Most roads along the river in Decorah were closed due to flood damage.

I made the trip up to Decorah yesterday on what was to be the first day of The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. Of course, since it has been cancelled the weather has been top notch. Oh well!

I found some good things and some bad things. I'll get into that as the post unfolds here. The first thing I saw was that the campground was dry, but all the grass was matted down and covered in that dusty silt that you see when flood waters recede. Maybe it wouldn't have been a big deal, but I did notice that the ground was like cement and very rough and bumpy. Probably not a lot of fun to camp on, ya know?

<===Park road damage in the Pallisades

I started out the day by kitting up right out in the open, (hey, I have no shame!) and I noticed one other pair of riders on Niners just taking off as I was getting ready. They would be the only other mountain bikers I would see all afternoon.

I started riding up Pallisades Park road to warm up. I had the bike dialed and I was hoping for a good ride. I got started in on the trail going uphill. I started to notice that I felt out of it mentally. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't have my "A" game on. I was sloppy and I couldn't muster any motivation for tougher sections. I was starting to get a little down about myself, but I kept plugging along knowing that I'm a really slow starter. Sometimes it takes up to an hour for me to really come around.

<=== Trail damage in the Pallisades

I noticed several places on the down slopes that were washed clear of their top soil leaving behind limestone shale and plates that were loose and rather skittish. It reminded me of El Paso! Then there were several spots where the runoff had carved a deep rut just off the trail leaving a precarious drop to one side that demanded precise navigation to miss. I would have been greatly concerned had we held the event just because of these things which I found in what we were going to use as the demo loop. But things were even worse in other parts of the trail system.

I exited Pallisades and hit Larsen's Loop which I cleaned about 80% of. It's a very technical trail and one I'd like to master some day. It's also very tough getting in and out of that loop. I had one "fancy dismount" that saved me a 15 foot drop to sharp rocks that I was very proud of!

I got over to Van Peenen and found that the big main climb in was all loose rocks and was pretty dang tough. Although by this time into the ride I was finally getting my groove on. I cleaned the entire climb, thanks in part to the Fisher Hi Fi I was riding. Full suspension saved my bacon a bunch yesterday, I'll say that much!

<=== One of my favorite sections- Pines West

I headed over on a cutoff to the open meadow trail looking for signs of the local "ballyhoo-ers" but I never saw any signs of them. I even stopped to listen for "human activity", but all I heard was the gentle wind in the grass. Did I mention that it was perfect weather there?

After the Pines West section, which I love, I headed back around on Fred's Trail. I found a few more areas of concern where runoff had eaten into the trail at different points, but mainly this section was pretty fun. I felt great and things were clicking. I stopped for a Cliff Bar, since I felt hungry, and I heard some voices across the valley. Maybe some other cyclists? I scarfed the bar, washed it down with some water, and headed down into the valley.

I headed up Randy's Trail to get to the top on the other side but I was quickly off the bike and walking. I found a ton of damage here that made the trail unrideable, or at least to the point that you shouldn't ride it. The water bars were even displaced! Anyway, I soldiered on to the top to find no one.

I was thinking that I had perhaps heard the Niner riders I saw earlier, but I think what I heard were horseman. I found fresh "road apples" piled at different places as I headed west along the ridge. Great! Horse poopy on my tires. Gotta love that!

I was looking for this sweet downhill section that ended near Dunning Springs that Bobby (Shrek) from Salsa and I did last year at the Ballyhoo. I must have made a wrong turn, because what I did find was a totally sketch downhill that was so rocky and steep that I had to get off and carefully hike down. Crap! Not what I had been looking for. It dumped me right out in Dunning Springs in the middle of a family picnic. Nice! "Um....hey! Sorry for barging in, but I was wondering if you had any leftover coleslaw." Heh heh! Yeah, I surprised them as much as they surprised me!

Then I headed back on Ice Cave Road to find the Dirty Blue Box. That road had suffered mudslides and rock falls, so it was also closed to traffic. Once back at the car, I saw the two Niner riders pulling out. I got my gear down loaded and headed over to T-Bock's for some brews and onion rings before I headed back to W'loo. A good three hours of riding and saw no one.

Maybe the local yahoos were out and about, but if they were, they were being stealth about it. Whatever, it was a great ride and I was glad that I made the trip. As for the Ballyhoo, yeah.....on the one hand it looked like I made a mistake, but after I saw the trails, well...... Let's just say that they were less than prime and probably would have been the cause of concern for sure if not injury. Not the best setting for a gathering of newbies to the system. I'm not placing the blame on anyone, (certainly, the DHPT has their hands full) but I am glad we cancelled it.

Definitely, the trails were way more difficult and challenging then they were before, and they are way tougher than anything else I have ridden here in the Mid-West. I will be back to learn more and become a better rider, that is for sure.

It just seemed weird that on a weekend that should have seen a whole bunch of riding going on that I was the only guy around, (The Niner riders not withstanding) It seemed like a ghost town when it should have been a boom town. Oh well........

Saturday, June 21, 2008

You Can't Ride Here Anymore!: Part II

When I heard about the proposed ordinance in Dallas County that would force cycling events to obtain one million dollar insurance policies I had a few questions. Here they are and the answers that I got from Mark at the Iowa Bicycle Commission.

Question:"What I want to know is what types of rides are affected? Is this bill going to affect shop group rides, for instance? It seems to me that in cases like this that I have been paying attention to, the law is open ended enough that even if friends decide to meet for a group ride, and use say, the internet to arrange the ride, the law can be applied to infer that the ride was an "organzed ride" and therefore be subject to the penalty of that particular law, (whatever that ends up being in this case)"

Answer: "What types of rides? Any ride where it is advertised OR any ride withan entry fee. This includes internet and e-mail. We do not know what the number on the ordinance will be, but we have heard 10-20 people."

Question: "If there is an organized ride without insurance, and someone does get hurt and tries to sue, what happens then? Or what if no one gets hurt and the State finds out about the ride. What is the "punishment"? "

Answer: "What if someone sues and there is no insurance? The ride organizer isresponsible for the damages if they lose. If they sue the county -the county is ususally insured. If no insurance or form filed, the penalty is $750.

Mark closes out by saying this: "As I said, this is local to Dallas County, but if it passes, expect itto spread across the state, one county at a time. Also expect therules to be different in each county. They want to make it sodifficult that we have to beg for the legislature to fix this."

As you can see, if this doesn't get nipped in the bud, we can expect a time period where cycling on Iowa roadways will be difficult, if not impossible, in groups for any reason.

Friday, June 20, 2008

You Can't Ride Here Anymore!

Yesterday I recieved a comment in regards to a proposed ordinance in Dallas County that would require "bicycle events" to obtain insurance in order to hold their event/ride in that particular county. This comment was made by Mark Wyatt who is the head honch at the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. (Thanks Mark!) Here is a little back round as to why this might be happening.

If you click through that last hyperlink and read the article, the essence of it all is that the Counties are taking the stand that the roadways are "designed for intended users". This is left to interpretation to mean that cyclists are not intended to use Iowa roadways. This is clearly at odds with Iowa Code which states that bicycles are allowed on Iowa roadways.

Why would the Counties of Iowa be looking at these sorts of ordinances/laws? Simply put, it's all about money. Money that the Counties are afraid of losing due to lawsuits that might arise from a death or injury incurred during an "organized cycling event". Take a look at the comment left yesterday here:

On June 24th at 9:30 am the Dallas County Board of Supervisors will meet at the Adel City Hall, 301 S. 10th Street Adel, IA 50003, to discuss an ordinance that will require bicycle events to obtain $1 million insurance policies for bicycle events. This could effect rides as small as 10-20 people.

1. Iowa Code 321.234 gives bicyclists the same rights and duties of a motorist. The proposed ordinance is a specific requirement placed on bicycles and does not include other vehicular events that occur in the public right-of-way such as MotorIoway and the WMT Tractorcade. This proposed ordinance is in conflict with Iowa Code.

2. The requirement to provide insurance notification to the counties may actually increase the liability levels for the county by giving them notice a bicycle event will take place.

3. The requirement of additional insured certificates may only protect the counties for the actions of the organizers of the ride. The actions of the county may not be covered under the ride organizer's insurance policies.

4. Requiring insurance for small bike rides may end organized training rides, like the Dream Team, scout groups, bike clubs and other groups.Please attend the meeting on June 24th at 9:30 AM to make your feelings known.

So, as you can see, a lot of "fun" rides that take place all over the state are in jeapordy of being made to put up money to insure their events at such a high rate that in all likelyhood, the rides will cease. How do I know this? Well, Trans Iowa has dealt with this very issue of insurance before and I can tell you, it isn't cheap. The entry fee that would be necessary to cover the rides in question would ostensibly put an end to them due to the high cost to cyclists.

Then you have "interpretation" of such an ordinance to deal with as well. What does this mean for "organized shop rides", regular group rides, or just a bunch of friends who organize a ride for the heck of it? How would such an ordinance be enforced and what would the penalty for "non-compliance" be? As you can see, leaving alone the fact that this ordinance is unfair to cyclists, the very nature of the ordinance invites all sorts of other legal mumbo-jumbo and should therefore be declared of the devil and be swiftly thwarted before it gets beyond the talking phases.

And you Dallas County cyclists out there, how would it make you feel to know that you will be joining the ranks of Crawford County in that your roads will be declared "unfit for cycling"? It seems that unless cyclists begin to stand up and declare their rights, Iowa may become a state where cyclists are effectively banned from roadways because counties are misguided in their attempts to protect themselves from "possible lawsuits" and absolving themselves from maintaining the roadways in a manner that would be safe for two wheeled travelers.

What's next? A ban on motorcycles? It isn't that far fetched folks!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Something New To Play With

Note: All photos courtesy of Captain Bob.

<===The Soul Cycles Dillinger test sled

Awhile back I had hinted that Captain Bob and I would have something special built up to test out over the summer months. it is!

<===The AluScraper seat post from BBB Components

We have a full compliment of BBB Components on this rig to test out. (By the way, "BBB" stands for "Bike parts by Bikers for Bikers") BBB is a European company that sponsors a few pro road squads and makes a varied palette of cycling goodies.

This seat post is a no nonsense sort of component. 400mm in length and it looks to be pretty tough. 246 grams in weight for this 27.2 example. It's got a two bolt clamp which is pretty standard for quality posts these days.

Smallish logo looks understated and doesn't take away from the spartan appearance of this post.

<===UltraForce stem

The stem continues with the understated look. It is a very nicely made piece executed in 2014 alloy and 3D forged. It has a paltry weight of about 134 grams. It seems very smartly made though. Four bolt clamp should keep the 31.8mm SkyBar in place. It is a 6061-T6 piece with 35mm rise and 10 degree back sweep. It weighs in at 336 grams. it is pretty stout!

<===Selle San Marco saddle for Captain Bob's bum!

We also received this Selle San Marco Caymano saddle to mount up on the BBB post. It is a pretty well made Italian saddle and weighs in at 170 grams. Unfortunately, it doesn't agree with my tush at all, so Captain Bob will be putting this perch to the test, not me!

<===RoundAbout chain ring

The chain ring is also a BBB piece called the "RoundAbout" (which always makes that "Yes" tune start spinning in my head!) We're spinning the 34T version here though and it is 7075-T6 alloy ring. We will be single speeding this one, but it has some rad looking CNC'ed ramps on the back side for you shifter freaks out there.

A couple of other things to note here. We are also using a BBB TurnAround headset on this Soul Cycles Dillinger which Captain Bob and I will be test riding around these parts most of the rest of the year. Look for us and ask for a ride! Another interesting bit that should find its way onto this rig is a Spinner "2 Nine" fork which we may be getting soon to check out. It has an air spring, lock out, and rebound control. It looks much like the RST M-29 which I thought was an excellent fork last year. Perhaps we'll get the chance to put the Spinner through the wringer this summer and see if it measures up.

All of these components are to be reviewed and tested on The Bike Lab and Twenty Nine Inches. So, look for more on this stuff there in the future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Some Sol Sessions Notes

<===Who needs Leadville when you can bring home hardware like this!

Well, the Salsa Cycles "Sol Sessions" are still going on up in the Cable area of Wisconsin, but I'm back home now. What a trip! And at the perfect time too. We needed to get away and clear our minds after all that has gone down around here this spring. We had great friends surrounding us and we had a great time with them. Thank you one and all, and I know some of you read this blog, so this means you!

<===Check out the details in this buckle. It is absolutely HUGE too!

The best part of the trip? Well, that's too hard to say. I know one highlight that I can share here is that riding the new Big Mama was sooo much fun. I said to Jason that the really cool thing about it was that it was a new bike to me, but I felt totally safe and confident in letting it rip on the downhills. It had tires I had never ridden before too, so that says a lot, I think. It climbed really well too. I think it would make a perfect endurance rig, really. Jason says it's an "all day kind of bike", but I would say it's an "all day-all night" kind of bike!

<===Sheesh! 25 years already?

The bikes will come spec'ed with a pretty Shimano XT heavy spec. I got to ride the XT stuff this past weekend too and it is pretty dang nice. Hard to fault the shifting of the Rapid Fire triggers and the Shadow rear derailleur. Man! That stuff shifted whenever and where ever I wanted. Load, no load, no problems.

Jason has raved about the XT brakes to me for quite some time now. I thought they were nice, but still not quite dialed in to how well I can make my Avid BB-7's feel. Power? It had gobs of it, and it was sorta controllable. I could have gotten used to it, but I thought the "modulation window" from pad contact to full lock up was still too small for my tastes. I still was getting that "whoops!" too much brake thing from time to time where you feel the wheels start to lock up and your weight shifting forward quickly. Not fun! Again, I could have learned how to get along with them and they are fantastic brakes when your mind starts to mesh with the way they work, it's just that I prefer a little more modulation in my brakes if I can have it.

The Big Mama. is on my radar! I'm pretty sold on it. They will be available as a frame set in September. Complete bike in January. Gonna have to get myself one of these for sure!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Salsa Cycles Introduces The Big Mama!

Salsa Cycles has been working on this new full suspension platform for quite some time and now……here it is!

The new model!

The Big Mama is a four inch travel suspension platform with several important features which I’ll get into a bit later. First off, I was able to get a chance to ride this bike on Sunday at the local Murphy-Hanrahan trail system. It is a great buff, fast, tight and twisty single track loop. I was able to put in 16 miles on the new rig and I will say, it was a very satisfying ride.

My observations of 29 inch wheeled full suspension bikes is that most of them are compromises of what I like in a 29″er. They seem to be good at some things, but have lost certain handling characteristics, aesthetic characteristics, or structural characteristics in the translation from hard tail to full suspension. There are few that seem to have it dialed and look good doing it. Is the Big Mama in that rarefied air? Let’s take a look.

I have ridden a lot of full suspension bikes and the first thing one should determine is “what type” of full suspension are we talking about. Salsa head honch, Jason Boucher, says this is first and foremost an “all day trail bike”. Taking that into consideration as I rode it, I could then discern if it fit into my expectations for such a bike. I would say that such a bike should be maneuverable, respond to pedaling input in a positive way, (read “like a hard tail”), be stiff laterally, and have overall handling that is easy to navigate when the rider is tired. It should also do what the best trail bike full suspension should do, that is, keep the rider fresh and keep the wheels in contact with the ground. Finally, it should be fun and look cool. (Hey! I like my rigs to look good!)

The heart of the Big Mama is it’s detailed suspension and frame fittings. Things like the one piece forged link, (pictured above) help keep things tracking correctly. The hidden part here is the Enduro brand bearings used at all pivot points. The drive side of the swing arm is even fitted with two bearings, while the non-drive side has the traditional single bearing, which helps keep the swing arm pivot stiff and resist twisting forces from the pedaling input of a rider. Did it work? Well, all I can say is that I never once felt anything close to flex in the bottom bracket area. The huge bottom bracket forging, which includes the swing arm pivot, no doubt helps in this area. In fact, that swing arm felt pretty stout too. The reason why was evident.............

……Notice something missing? Yep! No pivot. Salsa Cycles designed the suspension with no rear drop out pivot, not because they think the rear pivot idea wasn’t any good, it just rode better than the designs that had rear pivots in their testing. So, to get around the pivot and have it ride well, Salsa designers went to the toolbox and pulled out their experiences with the Dos Niner. The soft tail classic has chain stays designed to flex up to an inch and survive trail abuse over the long haul. The flattened Scandium enhanced structure makes a return here on the Big Mama in the seat stays and only has to flex a whopping 5mm throughout the stroke of the shock. Salsa claims it helps reduce starting shock pressures needed and with the custom tuned Fox RP2, it helps achieve full travel from the damper. Did it work? Well, with the shock set to the open position on my test ride the Big Mama rode with small bump sensitivity and didn’t feel like it ramped up or stiffened in any way towards the end of it’s travel. It just reacted to bumps with no drama and made me forget all about suspension. That’s what a good suspension design should do, become invisible.

Salsa Cycles tried to maximize the weld areas on the bike and to reduce the places that required welding on the Big Mama. To do this they utilized special forged frame fittings, like the drop outs and the bottom bracket area. They also shaped the Scandium tubes, which were all specially designed by Salsa, to help combat flex where riders don’t want it. Check out that down tube/ bottom bracket junction, pictured above, or that down tube/ head tube weld area. There is some serious manipulation of tubes going on with the Big Mama. Did it work? Well, one of my biggest pet peeves about 29″ers is that many of them exhibit a torsional twist in the front triangle which leads to a vague steering feel and in bad cases a total disconnect between tracking of the rear and front wheels. I can say that I felt the Big Mama tracking a good straight line and that it didn’t feel like it had any significant torsional flex in the front end. yeah, I’d say all that tube shaping and weld area work was worth it.

<====Tube selection, design, and manipulation all work together here! It's one stiff front triangle.

Of course, this being an all day trail bike sort of rig, it would only make sense that you would be able to run big meats and still have some clearance around the tire for mud and trail debris. Salsa engineers made sure that you will be able to mount up a 2.5″ wide tire on a 35mm wide rim and have that clearance. I’ll have to take their word on that, as the samples I rode and saw all had Nevegals on them, but to my eye, it looks like a sure fit. That swing arm forging also helps solidify things laterally too. Nicely done!

Salsa’s design goals for this project were to have reliability, durability, and attention to detail. In that vein, they chose to fit the Big Mama with post mount type fittings for the rear disc brake. This is in keeping with the move by fork makers who have gone to post mounts and should give the Big Mama better braking performance given that the brake caliper is now mounted to a sturdy forged bit directly welded to the frame.

A few notes on my ride that I have not mentioned: The Big Mama was easy to wheelie, and was nimble feeling with a slight nod to the stable side of the handling spectrum. When I rode the production prototype, I had no idea about the “numbers”, since they were kept from me. I found out only later that the head angle is 71 degrees and that the Fox fork has 46mm of off set here. With this combination, I felt the Big Mama felt calm and collected on hairy fast descents through the tight single track. Climbing didn’t require any extra attention to the front end other than that I had to weight the front a bit more or I could wheelie at will. Something that could be cured if I wanted to with positioning tweaks, but frankly, I liked it this way. The bike cornered really well and what impressed me most was its ability to carve around a really tight corner with stability. This rig should help you clean switchbacks that have given you fits on other big wheelers.

The Big Mama will also be available as I got to ride it with Fox suspension, Race Face stem and seat post, and a good helping of Shimano XT parts including the brakes, hubs, and drive train. Salsa bits round out the package which will be topped off with a WTB saddle. Frame sets will include the Fox RP2 and a Salsa Flip-Lock seat collar. Look for the frame sets to become available in September with a suggested MSRP of $1435-$1500. The complete Big Mama bikes will come in January of ‘09 and will be MSRP at about $3800-$4000. (One note, the bike pictured here has the black Fox shock, which is the color for the ‘09 120mm travel F-29. The complete bike will actually be spec’ed with the 100mm travel fork and was white in our hand outs) Go to Salsa Cycles and check out the specs and information on the Big Mama. I also should mention that the very similar 26″er model, the El Kaboing, will also be available and was presented at the press release as well.

In conclusion, I felt that Salsa Cycles has done their homework and applied solutions with elegance and effectiveness to the problem of making a great 29″er trail bike. Have they come up with something that fits my definition of a 29″er trail bike? If the 16 miles I got to ride it is any indication, I would say that the Big Mama is well on it’s way to filling that rare place in my mind. Will it work for you? I know that there will be those who won’t like it, but my guess is that the Big Mama will be a very popular rig with a lot of 29″er freaks. If the design fulfills the goals that Salsa Cycles set for it, and it gives every indication that it will, I would go as far as to say that this will be its best selling 29″er rig. Time will tell on that, but for now, this bike is high on my list of full suspension 29″ers.

Edit 6-22-08: Salsa Cycles Jason Boucher has informed me that the Fox F-29 will indeed be black as shown on the pics above. He especially spec'ed a black fork. It is still the 100mm travel fork. Sorry for the confusion this may have caused.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ahhh! Refreshing Yet Tactfully Dirty!

<===If he turns sideways just a bit more he disappears!

This weekend and the first day or two of this week I am up here in Minneapolis for the Salsa Sol Sessions and to visit my friend Jason and his great family. We got into town Sunday after escaping another round of severe thunderstorms Saturday that left quarter sized hail and knocked out our power last night for three hours.

The first thing I have to say is that the weather can still be good! In fact, it was a perfect Father's Day here in the Twin Cities.

Jason hauled me out to Murphy-Hanrahan, a newer trail system up here that I had never been on. Usually I ride at Lebanon Hills whilst I'm here and I really like that place. But I gotta say, there's a new sheriff in town and I'm likin' it a whole bunch. In fact, t is soo good, I have to do that again!

<===We didn't ride so hard that we didn't stop to check out some flowers though!

The thing about "Murph", as the locals call it, is that it is the flowiest, buffest, fastest single track I've ridden in a good long while. Some grizzled old locals may recall how George Wyth Park's "Bridge Trail" used to be about the funnest stretch of single track in Waterloo/Cedar Falls. Well, I just rode 16 miles of it up here that was twice as good as that ever was. Really!

<===Shed a little blood, but I didn't even notice till later!

Of course, the "big deal" was the "what I rode", and not so much the "where I rode", but I'll get to that later. I have to hold off on that part for just a bit longer but it will be worth waiting to check out. Really........

For now I will say that a day spent riding some sweet trail, sharing it with a friend, and hanging out and chowing down some fine grub with some brew to wash it down was a perfect remedy for the last week and a half. Thanks Jason! I needed that more than you know!

Tomorrow has some lazing around, riding, and the "official product launch" on tap for me here. I'll be downloading that info for release on Tuesday, so check it out. Until then, me and my sore legs are hittin' the hay!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Watch This Space!

<===Not new.....just new to me!

Well, I got this El Mariachi from Captain Bob recently and managed to get it up and running today. The run down is as follows: 2007 El Mariachi in Superior Blue with matching fork and stem, Salsa seat post, CroMoto stem, Delgado Disc Rims, and skewers. DT Swis 340 hubs, Bontrager Race Lite crank (older ISIS model), Ultegra long cage rear derailleur with ceramic bearing BBB jockey wheels, SRAM cassette, Avid BB-7 brakes and levers. Salsa 17 degree Moto Ace bar, cut down Ergon Team Green grips with the bar ends, and SRAM Attack "grip"shifters. Salsa seat post QR and Bontrager Inform RL saddle. Tires are WTB Stouts. Cages are Profile.

It rides great, but then again, I knew that it would. I've ridden a few examples of these before throughout the last year or so. I've always admired the sweet steel ride and handling of the original El Mariachi. When salsa changed them for this year, I must admit to being a bit bummed that I never snagged one of the Tomatillo colored ones, but this chance to own a blue one will do just fine! I rode it a bit today, a shake down of the new build, and I can't wait to ride it off road!

The Baja Epic Stage Race is slated to take place in early November. Call me stupid, but this looks like fun. Not that I could ever afford to go. With things headed in the direction that they are, I suspect that travel expenses will severely limit how many folks will go to this. Still, something about this intrigues me. Maybe I have a secret death wish, I don't know. Anyway, I like the idea of the event.

Then there is the Oregon Manifest in October. It is a handmade bicycle show, cyclo cross races, and general tom-foolery on bikes located in Portland. (Where else?!) Seems that they had so much fun in March they wanted to do it all over again in October. Hmm......but maybe there is more to this. Perhaps it is really a "do over" for some of the local builders who weren't pleased with the outcome of NAHBS. Or maybe some of the builders just didn't get their rigs done on time for NAHBS, so they figured an extra six months ought to cover them. Or maybe they want to turn Portland into the defacto cultural center of the North American cycling universe. I don't know, but it seems that they have the definite possibility for turning all French on us. I mean, their has to be more portuer bikes per capita in Portland than anywhere else on the Continent.

Okay, I must also add here that I'll be away from Guitar Ted Laboratories for a couple of days now covering the Salsa Sol Sessions for Twenty Nine Inches. My blog posts might be a bit irregular for Monday and Tuesday, but stay tuned, because it will be well worth waiting to read them!

Stay safe and healthy out there. Pray for the victims here in the Mid West. Ride a bike if you can!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Riding A Bicycle Sounds Good Right About Now

It's been said that a good bicycle ride can clear the mind, reduce stress, and give you a new perspective on things.

Sounds like the antidote for what ails us about right now.

While it might seem silly to some, I think it is a perfect idea. Especially around here in Iowa. Of course, you must be very, very careful! Stay outta the water and all of that, but ride where you can.

My bike ride is coming, but not quite here just yet. Over the last several days I haven't been able to ride due to the problems here. Normal daycare for one of my children has been interupted and I have had to find an alternate choice across town in Cedar Falls. That means an hour drive, or close to it due to all of the road closures. Not conducive to bicycle riding, that's for sure!

Some good news there though: We have had some bridges re-opened and some road choices are back on the menu, hopefully easing up the craziness here in the city. I know it is a regular thing elsewhere, but it took me at least a half an hour to go about a mile on Ansborough Avenue yesterday. We're not used to anything like that!

And more good news! Captain Bob and I recieved some parts for our little project bike and we should have something to show for everyone real soon. Also, the Decorah folks decided to throw a party on the original Big Wheeled Ballyhoo weekend anyway. Looks like there will be camping out, riding, and general tom-foolery going on up there. I might have to show up for that.

So anyway, getting out for a bike ride. Sounds like a perfect idea!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What To Do? Part II

First of all, for those of you who are not aware, the situation regarding flooding here in the Mid-West, Iowa, and right here in the area I live in is intensifying. More rain, (it is raining as I type this) is hitting the area which is already suffering from the worst flooding in known history.

Add to this the threat of severe weather and more killer tornado activity where we have already suffered greatly from both. I find it hard to write anything today that is not related to what is happening all around me.

I want to take this opportunity to respond back to all of you who have reached out in the comments and through e-mail. Thank you. I greatly appreciate your thoughts and concerns. Myself and my family are safe and the home we live in is safe. I would ask that you keep the people of this area in your thoughts and prayers as many are not so fortunate here.

In regards to the announcement concerning The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, look for an official statement on Twenty Nine Inches later today. Unofficially I will say that I think it is obvious what we're going to do with that.

Okay, sorry for such a bummer post, but I really can't bring myself to write anything other than what I have this morning. Let's hope and pray for an end to all this.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What To Do?

<===The Upper Iowa River at Decorah in the area where the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo is supposed to be set at.

If you have not heard yet, we are currently experiencing the worst flooding in in Iowa and all over the Mid-West. It is affecting my town too, but for the purposes of this blog, the impact falls squarely on The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo.

The event is to happen ten days from now, so whether or not the Ballyhoo will even happen is the question that needs to be answered and answered really soon. This is a decision that has fallen squarely onto my shoulders. It seems to be the way things have gone for me this year. Big decisions that affect a lot of people. Let me tell you, it ain't easy folks!

On one hand, I can see that the clean up of the area in question, (assuming the flood recedes soon enough), will be a monumental task. And then you have to wonder if that saturated ground will recover enough in ten days to support vehicles that would have to be driven in there to set up demo rides and campers.

I'm thinking that is a tall order. Add to that the fact that we are facing another round of slow moving thunderstorms, (already in western Iowa) and you can see that this problem isn't going to go away quietly or even soon.

On the other hand I have a lot of people looking forward to seeing me and other folks. I have companies that want to debut new product here at the ballyhoo, and I have folks that want to ride some of the new 29"ers coming out. A lot of fun will be snuffed out if this doesn't happen.

See, I told you it wasn't easy being me! Ha ha!

Well, later today the axe will either fall or be held up for the Ballyhoo. I'm not too hopeful that it won't fall and cut this event off before it even happens. Stay tuned................

Update: 11:00 am The "decision" has been postponed until tomorrow morning in deference to the Decoarah folks. Once I have their input, an official announcement will be forthcoming on the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo site by noon tomorrow and later here and elsewhere.

Commenter's suggesting a fall date for the Ballyhoo must keep in mind that "trade show" season would prevent most companies from showing up, and Twenty Nine Inches staff (me included) would also be affected by this. Fall might be nice, but essentially it is already booked up and a Ballyhoo for that time period wouldn't be possible as it is formatted right now.

If the Ballyhoo is cancelled (likely at this point) there will not be one in 2008. Stay tuned.......

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bike Lust

<===If it's bigger it must be better, right?
Lately there has been an uptick in the activity in the 36"er world. Okay......."world" might be too strong a word here. Let's about "corner"? Heh heh!
Anyway, the thing is, I want one of these bikes. I haven't pulled the trigger yet because, well......there still is some figuring out to do. While I think they are cool as is, the advancements in the design and technology are still in flux. I'm waiting it out, but you may ask, "Why"? Well, let me tell you!
Fun: I don't know anbody who doesn't like fun. This bike has "fun" in spades. If you don't smile after riding this rig, you are a certified curmudgeon, and are to be avoided at all costs. Ask Carlos, who rode this very 36"er last winter and tried not to smile as he did it. Guess what? He came back with a grin despite himself. Who wouldn't want to own a contagious fun machine? I know I would!
It's a great bicycle: As bicycles go, a 36"er is pretty cool. It can carry momentum like crazy, it is super stable, and rolls over curbs like they were not there! I can see the 36"er as being a great commuter rig too. I mean, who wouldn't see those hoops rolling down the road? Plus gravel grinding would be another realm altogether with these monsterous circles rolling underneath you.
It's different: Yeah....................'nuff said!
So, someday I'm going to have to add one of these to the stable. It just makes too much sense not too! Or so I think.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Before The Monsoon

I managed to sneak a ride in Saturday before the monsoon that was Sunday set in. I decided that I would just head out on my Badger and see where things took me.

I decided to head south on the bike path to Hudson. Straight into a pretty stiff Southwesterly breeze. I was working pretty hard, and the path is dead level! Must have been a pretty decent wind, or my legs sucked!

Actually, my legs did not feel all that snappy, so it probably was a bit of both.

The ditches along the path and the fields beyond them were all full of water. They are saying that things are getting to the 1993 flood levels around here. Hmm............don't know about that, I do know that Iowa City/Coralville is pretty much there, but we've got a ways to go before I'd say it was that bad. Don't get me wrong though.....this is really bad!

That line of trees in the distance, yeah........that's where I would have normally been riding. The Green Belt dirt trails are all under a lot of water right now. I doubt we'll be able to ride there until fall. Too bad because all our local off road choices are pretty much down for the count.

I saw this looming in the distance as I went west on Ridgeway out of Cedar Falls. It's laminated wood. Hmm......about time they figured that out. I dunno, maybe they have been doing this where you live for years, but that's the first I've seen of this.

Anyway, I thought it was rusty painted steel for awhile!

You can also see the sky is getting darker. Yeah, it was about this time I decided to head for the shed. I wasn't keen on getting caught out if things got nasty, and that Southwest wind told me something was up.

I was sporting the Snappy Cap and the Twin Six look on the ride. Those are some Tifosi shades there. I like Tifosi stuff, not expensive and it works. My favorite model isn't these but the Vogel. It wraps around my face for better peripheral vision. My two examples of that model got roached though, so I'm back to wearing these!

I was riding with the wind here, so I thought it would be a great time to practice the "Kerkove Shot"

How am I doing, Blue? (He's the only local I know that has perfected the "Kerkove Shot") Well, I suppose The Jackal has it down, but he hasn't been using his skilz that way lately!

Here we have one of the most dangerous intersections in town.........for cars! We can't even measure the danger factor for local cyclists, yet in their infinite wisdom, the city has the bike path cross this intersection twice! Brilliant! Then there is that other intersection to the south of here where a bike path crosses the road again! Oh yeah, did I mention that folks get killed out here in their cars all the time?

Usually, I try and avoid this area like the plague because of this situation, but I was in a hurry to get back home, and this was the most direct route.

Just across the road on Greenhill Roads bike path I got passed by a recumbent rider and a Cannondale roadie rider as I was getting clipped in. On the slight uphill I caught them and the recumbent rider called out to the Cannondale roadie dude that I was coming through. Well, the Cannondale roadie dude clicks down a gear. You know, the cyclists signal that "I'm not gonna let you pass me. This is a race!" signal? Yeah, well I just kept on the guys wheel. I figured that if he had the motor to keep this pace up the hill then I'll let him pull me up too.

Well, about three quarters of the way up, he sat up. I pulled through and I just upped the cadence a hair and next thing I know he's gone. Off the back. Now on the down hill I just kept it on until I decided to pull off to the left for a few city back streets. (More turns = more fun) I ended up getting directed to the old Green Hill street which dead ends at cedar Heights drive. You have to pass over a bit of grass and go around the signage with a bunny hop over a curb or two thrown in. Well, I look to my right and there is Cannondale roadie dude at the corner of Green Hill Road and Cedar heights looking at me. He just rolled up as well, only he was on straight bike path and was about half a block to the south of me. He looked a bit surprised. Ha ha! That was fun.

I rolled on home just in time for lunch with my family. Perfect timing. Not only for lunch, but for a ride, since Sunday was a complete washout. Well, I hope this rain quits, or the Ballyhoo is gonna be a mess!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Origin 8 Space Bar Review

<==== The Space Bar, upside down on a geared bike.

I was asked about an On One Mary Bar yesterday and it is a fantastic bar. (Do go to the link and read through Brant Richards excellent take on why these types of bars work so well.) The thing about the Mary, Midge, and Mungo is that while they are great bars, they cost a heck of a lot more and are not as easy to get a hold of as Origin 8's Gary and Space Bar. Quite simply, it's a matter of supply and economics for me. Otherwise much of what I will be writing here could be said of the Mary bar and it would be a great bar to own. Maybe someday......

<====You can use the Space Bar with your "regular" stem.

Some folks might be a bit concerned with positioning with a Space Bar. Not to worry! I have found that by overlaying a "standard" swept bar over a mounted Space Bar, that the actual end position for the hands is virtually the same. The difference being the angle that your hands are at. The angle of the grip section is close to 40 degrees and there is plenty of room for controls of your choice. The bars do have rise (or drop) and you can gain about an inch and a half of rise if you so desire. I have run the Space Bar upside down with excellent results as well.

<===The Space Bar plays quite well with Ergon grips and becomes even more useful with them, in my opinion.

Out riding, the Space Bar puts your elbows in a more relaxed, next to your body position and aligns your wrists and fore arms in a more natural way. My riding has shown me that they work just fine in single track and turning tight corners isn't a problem. I especially like the leverage I can generate out of the saddle on climbs. Imagine hoisting a pail full of water upwards with one hand and you might see how it is while out of the saddle pulling upwards on the Space Bar. The bar is plenty stiff, no noodle bar here! That means that if you run a rigid set up, the Space Bar may not be to your liking from a comfort standpoint. It doesn't yield to trail obstacles much at all!

I will give you my thoughts on the Mary bar in comparison here. (I think I can speak on this from my Midge Bar experience) The On One product is a much finer looking piece, no doubt. I would also suspect that it is slightly lighter than the Kalloy made Space Bar. The center section of the Mary is slightly different, most notably the clamp area, which looks much cleaner and neater than the Space Bar's does. Overall, it is a better looking, slightly lighter, and probably a slightly more comfortable bar than the Space Bar. However; you will pay nigh onto three times the price of a Space bar for a Mary Bar, so it comes at a premium.

In my mind, the Space Bar wins for it's versatility, toughness, and value. The average retail price for a Space Bar is about $25.00. Not bad for a handle bar and great for something that breaks from the normal 5-7 degree flat bars and riser bars that don't have more than 10 degrees sweep. You don't have to use a different stem, and you can use non-traditional grips, like Ergon grips. All your controls will work, no special considerations there either.

Try a Space Bar out. I highly recommend them!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Yellow Is Mellow

Captain Bob and I have a little something we will be working on in the next few weeks to test for Twenty Nine Inches.

It's a single speed device.

Should be a fun little rig. We'll say more when the time is ripe, but for now all I can show you is this little teaser. Stay tuned for more coming soon!

The weather looks to be turning nasty and severe later this afternoon and tomorrow. (Again!) Stay safe and sound ya'all!