Thursday, April 30, 2009

Final Preparations

Trans Iowa is about to gear up and blast off into the Iowa hinterlands. Here are a few things that are going on.......

Check down to the post following this one for a preview of Trans Iowa radio. I give a little hint as to what the course is looking like. Trans Iowa Radio is just a fun little thing I do, not a totally serious news report. I have had folks freaking out at home thinking husbands died, or were lost in a LaBrea-like tar pit/B road when I forgot to mention a significant others name in a post. Look, I run this thing outta pocket, eat beef jerky for hours, and am buzzed out on a continuous flow of Red Bull during the course of a day and a half with no sleep what so ever. Do ya think I might not be coherent after a bit?

I try. I really do, but there is a lot going on other than my follies with audio-blogging, so please do not rely on info on your loved one from me on Trans Iowa Radio. I'll do my best reporting I can do under the circumstances, but I don't promise anything but a little entertainment and some feel for how the event unfolds.

So there is my disclaimer! You've been warned!

Prizing trickles in and tomorrow is the last delivery day I can take stuff in, 'cause Friday in the morning I'm off to inspect roads and make my way over to Williamsburg, IA. The Dirty Blue Box will be reeling under the weight of goodies and equipment, so I'll be packing light and freezing at night.

Cue sheets are done, volunteers are set, and some folks are still e-mailing in wanting in this event! (Sorry! Too late now!) Crazy stuff, and I don't pretend to understand it all.

Okay, that's all from my end. Friday will be a short post, or no post at all. I will probably let the Trans Iowa Radio posts take over at that point. Remember- oldest posts will be down the page- newest at the top!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trans Iowa Radio V5

Mobile post sent by seveneye7 using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

Trans Iowa V5 Update II

<===You in T.I.V5? You'll be getting one of these sweet t-shirts.

T.I.V2 veteran Rusty Kay is sponsoring T.I.V5 this year by donating a free t-shirt to every person in Trans Iowa. Since this whole idea was spawned just before I took off for Sea Otter, there wasn't any time to get all the racer's sizes. So we went with a gaggle of XL's and a slew of Larges to cover ya'all.

Look, someday you won't be a racer anymore, and you'll get all fat and hairy drinking Belgian beer and reminiscing about "that time you were in Trans Iowa". The t-shirt should fit you fine by then. See, we don't just focus on "the now". We have vision ya'all!

And Rusty wishes he could be slingin' mud with all of the riders this year, but you see, he's a bit tied up starting his own bike brand and all. Yep! He calls it "feepish bikes" and they will be road bikes made out of titanium right here in the U.S. of A by Lynskey Performance.

So not only will you have a t-shirt that will fit you down the road, but you'll be on the cutting edge of knowledge regarding a new bike brand. One of those side benefits of Trans Iowa and all.

Who knows? Maybe next year Rusty will be up here gridin' some gravel on a "feepish" and rockin' out like he was in this T.I.V2 clip. (He's the one on the road bike, don't ya know!)

Will T.I.V5 be like that legendary day in Iowa back in 2006? Well, it certainly will be muddy in spots! I'll say that much. Looks as though the weekend should be okay, but we'll have to see how this next storm system gets by us. If it dumps, or leaves with some scattered precip here and there.

I'll be making a recon to selected spots tomorrow and again on Friday to assess the conditions. d.p. has also been reconning some sections lately. We think there will be just enough mud and wetness to make things interesting, but not totally undoable, as they were in T.I.V2. Stay tuned for updates.

Other than that, cue sheets are done, we have last minute deliveries of schwag and prizing coming in, and details are being buttoned up. Look for a Trans Iowa Radio blast here in this space sometime tomorrow.

Preparations are almost done. Trans Iowa is about to start up once again..........

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Race Against Death Tour: The Beginnings-Part III

The "Race Against Death Tour" readies to depart from Cedar Falls, Iowa.........

So, with all the preparations done well in advance, we had nothing to do but wait for the day to arrive for our departure. As with the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour", I wanted to chronicle the event for the future. I had a lofty goal of writing as we went, and even went so far as to buy a little book to take along and write in. I got as far as the first entry! Ha ha! So much for that. Here's a little excerpt from that entry, which will help lock a few details in;

Friday, August 4th: .....Now during a typically hot, humid Iowa summer, we tourers are on the brink of a once in a lifetime experience. .........We have as a goal to reach Winter Park, Colorado, via the Black Hills of South Dakota in two weeks. 100 mile a day average for an approximate total of 1300 miles. The stage is set. On Monday, August 7th at 6:30 am we shall set forth on our journey.

That was a lofty goal, and as you might be able to tell, I was pretty confident I had the details worked out. Well, we will see later how far off the mark I was! However; until then, there is much to tell, so on with the story......

The details were not written down as I went, but I did have the foresight to make notes on each days happenings and to record the mileage. Fortunately the rest was memorable enough that I can piece this together into a coherent and (hopefully) entertaining read. The highlights and low lights are all engraved on my memory still.

So it was that this tour was setting off on a hot August in 1995. Troy on his trusty green Voyager, Ryan on a slightly too big burgundy Voyager, and myself on the old Mongoose All Mountain Pro in chrome plate. Once again, we all had loads on that would render our bikes un-liftable. I have no idea what the weight we had on those rigs was, but I assure you, they were overloaded! The six man Eureka dome tent was split into sections that we all shared in carrying. We all had front and rear panniers, handle bar bags, and seat bags. I'm sure we looked pretty special out there!

The first goal was to get beyond Fort Dodge, Iowa to a campground just west of there. 100 miles a day average was the set goal for each day. We were all going to try to hold to that. The weather sounded great for the next few days, and with much expectation, we were all pumped for this trip.

Next week: Onward Through The Fog!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wet Weekend, Tires, and Trans Iowa

Yet another mish-mash of a post. The days count down to Trans Iowa V5, and some thoughts on 29"er tires are here for your perusal...........

Anybody Got A Boat? I think it rained harder for longer yesterday than I can remember in a long time. Maybe since 1993 when we had the big floods here. I am seeing that we received well in excess of 4 inches of rain in less than a 24 hour period from Sunday morning till now. (And it hasn't been raining for several hours!) That's a month's worth of rain in a day. Yeah.....go figure that out! Needless to say, I didn't get in a window of dryness to ride my bike in. Oh well........

Tire Report and Rumor: I have several tires on test for Twenty Nine Inches and The Cyclist. I did get out to ride these last week in the dry conditions. A report is up on both sites, so check that out, plus a feature has been started by Grannygear that has to do with bikepacking on The Cyclist. Good stuff coming up on that.

The tire rumors are always swirling. Here are the latest ones I am aware of. Michelin, who have one lonely 29"er tire in their line, (The XC AT, a great mud conditions tire), are currently developing "a few" new 29"er tires "coming out soon". The individual at Sea Otter I spoke with didn't know, (or was unwilling to tell me) any specifics, but promised that there are going to be new Michelin 29"er tires. I would think Interbike, or Eurobike would be the introduction time for these. Next up we have Continental, who are rumored to be developing a 29"er Rubber Queen tire. This would be an aggressive, all mountain type tire. No width has been set yet, (as far as I know), so I voted for a 2.4 inch version. We'll see, but it is coming. Finally, Geax should be popping out a 2.35 Gato 29"er tire yet this summer, unless economic concerns have them rolling that back a bit. I haven't heard much from GEAX on it of late, but I do know it is very near to being a reality.

Yes.....You knew I couldn't end without talking about this! The weather and Trans Iowa. Like peanut butter and jelly, these two go hand in hand. The weather is always a big player in the outcome of this event. Now we have had upwards of five inches or more of rain in two days over parts of the course and you know that some of that will be making for slower going in some places, even without more rain. Trouble is, there are scattered thunderstorms predicted for Iowa on Wednesday and Thursday now. So far, the weekend forecast has flip flopped several times, but is looking to be cool, overcast to partly cloudy, windy..........and dry!

Things are piecing together quite well on all fronts now, so be prepared to see a flurry of updates on the T.I.V5 site leading up to the event. Trans Iowa Radio will also make a "test post" on this site soon, so look for that to pop up anytime here.

Stay tuned................

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Trans Iowa Roster Attrition and Musings

The roster, which so many folks want to get on becomes littered with drop outs about this time and T.I.V5 is no exception. No fault of the riders in question, just things that happen. Injuries, family problems, job losses, and financial difficulties are some of the more common reasons for missing Trans Iowa.

It is what it is.

Thankfully most folks have caught on that we need to know about the drops before hand to save us a lot of trouble stuffing bags and printing cue sheet sets. There's nothing like toting around 20 extra race bags and having printed up all the extra cue sheets and arranging them to get your water boiling. Especially when those 20 folks just decided not to show up at the last minute. (T.I.V3) I mean, you are going to have a few no-shows, but 20........

Anyway, I see we are down to 59 riders as of today. I have said all along that just above 50 is where I'd expect the roster to get to before the start. With the expected "few" no-shows, this is a stone cold lock now. We may even get below 50, which would be dipping into record low numbers for a T.I.

Does that matter? Not to me. I don't measure the success or failure of T.I. by numbers. If the event comes off safely, and folks get some satisfaction from the challenge, then that is all that really matters in the end.

More Trans Iowa thoughts in the coming days...........I warned you!

Friday, April 24, 2009

One Week And Counting.....

Sorry, Trans Iowa V5 is on my brain. You will have to indulge me my pre-occupation with this if you stick around the next week or so.

Cue sheets have been drafted and are being proof read. This is obviously a big deal. Needs to be right, so I'll be careful with that. Then bags will start to be assembled. Race numbers will be used to label them. Checkpoint cut off times need to be determined and published. Volunteers need to be directed.

Sponsorship has taken a huge hit with the economic downturn of the last quarter of '08 and this year. I'll not say more, but expect to hear the story at the pre-race meeting. To those of you that came through, we are indebted to you! Thanks!

I have gotten some comments and e-mails to the effect that there are questions about T.I.V5's basic operating mode. I posted a new missive on the site. Read it. Learn it. Live it. And don't ask me about the course. (This means you Paul J.!) I ain't sayin' nuttin'. I will be posting course condition updates though, so look for that.

Finally, Trans Iowa Radio will put up a test post next week on this blog. If it works, there will again be live updates.

Have a great weekend and please.......go ride your bike!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lots Of Loose Ends

<===Ben Witt's 36"er Pofahl.

Today I will have some disjointed but relevant info that has back logged since the beginning of the week. First up, Ben Witt dropped off his 36"er last Monday for me to cruise around on for a bit. If you have a mind, stop by the shop and see it. I'll be commuting on it most days for awhile now. It is quite the rig, and the wheels......well, they are three feet high after all! They really like to roll, and keep rolling....... It's lots of fun to ride, I'll tell ya that much!

<===El Mariachi with Race King tires from Continental.

I've been rocking these Conti Race King 2.2 inchers lately and absolutely love them. The profile is very rounded, and the tire has lots of "height" for its width. They corner great and give just right over trail debris. The little triangular knobs grip surprisingly well. I will be very curious to see how they do when things get dry, hard, and fast this summer.

<====First flowers!

I'm a big flower fan. Especially of wild flowers. The flowers are popping out all over the woodland areas right now and I am loving it. The first ones are always the tiny, fast growing ones, so I had to get off my El mariachi, and get real low to take a look-see at 'em today.

<====A couple peas in a pod!

I was really happy to have spent some time with my friend Jeff Kerkove out at Sea Otter last week. Jeff is responsible for much of where I am today with regards to blogging, internet work, Trans Iowa and cycling in general. He's doing really well for himself these days with the Ergon gig and I'm happy to see his success. He has his gal, Sonya by his side, and life is good for him. It was great catching up. See ya soon, Buddy!

<===Trans Iowa t-shirt design?

It looks as though a former T.I.V2 veteran is going to down load some special t-shirts for the upcoming T.I.V5. Special edition and all. Like we are a "real" event now since we might be having this show up in time for everyone to get one.

If ya think that is special, wait till you see the number plates that were sponsor provided. Yeah.... It looks all "official" and stuff. But keep in mind, yer on yer own out there, and responsible for your self, even though it may look a bit different this time around with all the special trappings.

Thanks to you who are providing such cool items for our little gravely ride. d.p. and I really appreciate it.

And there's more, but you'll have to wait for the details later!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Announcing "The Cyclist"

I have been writing reviews, tests, and opinions on different websites for about four years now. Last December, it came to my attention that the Crooked Cog Network would be ceasing to exist as it was without someone else taking it over. For a time, I thought it might be me. That wasn't to be. However; I seem to have inherited Twenty Nine Inches, so for at least awhile, I will be running that site.

However; it appeared to me and Arleigh Jenkins that we would probably need to be pro-active and start our own site to carry forward. That site is up and running: The Cyclist.

I have maybe plugged it a bit here before, but here is the official, blatant announcement, more so for me than you, so I can look back later and say, "Yep! I did remember to announce that!"

The Cyclist is basically an amalgam of the former Crooked Cog sites rolled into one parking place. You have separate sections that have their own RSS feeds if you don't want to sift through the front page to find specific content. We tried to cater to all of our old fans, while trying to gain some new ones.

We are all cyclists. Whatever kind of two wheeled contraption you ride, be it a recumbent, mountain bike, road bike, beater, or fixie. Whatever wheel size trips your trigger is good with us. 29"rs, B rides, twenty inch BMX? is all good at The Cyclist. We will eventually get to all of that, but for now, we're going to strike out with what we already have experience covering at the old Crooked Cog sites.

Hopefully you will all check it out and come back around for a ride now and then. We'll be writing, testing, reviewing, and doing more beyond that in the future.

Thanks for reading my scribin' wherever you catch up with me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Race Against Death Tour: The Beginnings-PartII

As the weeks wound down to our appointed time of departure, which was the week after RAGBRAI again, there were many quick developments in The Race Against Death Tour. First of all, we all got two weeks off work to give us more time. We were not going to be denied the planned finish this time around!

The other development of note was a bit more complicated. I mentioned a fellow by the name of Tim in my opening post. Well, he was another mechanic at the shop. He wanted to go, but he wasn't sure about coming, or whether he could hang, and several other excuses that he created for not coming. Well, I went into "intense mode" again on Tim, much like I did with Ryan. Tim also didn't have a bike, and he was short of stature, so finding one for him wouldn't be easy.....or so I thought!

There was a good customer that just happened to say she was thinking of getting rid of her old Trek 650 touring rig. It had racks that were painted to match and it was all there ready to roll. It was as if it was meant to be. So Tim ended up with it. Here was a fourth traveler! I was stoked.

I developed a route that went through Tim's hometown, went to the Black Hills, and then south to Colorado over the Rocky Mountain National Park and down to Winter Park. I figured that with 100 mile average days we could get there and have two "mulligans" if we needed them for bad weather or rest.

I found campsites along most of the route so we wouldn't have to "beg" for a place to stay, like we did the year before, and I even found roads with low traffic counts to ride on. I thought I had it pretty well figured out, and Troy was pleased. He signed off on the plans and we were good to go.

Things were being prepped and readied. It would be just a few days to go now before we set off westward. About two days before the tour, Tim bailed out on the trip. He really didn't want to talk about it either. I never did find out why, but he did say at the time he might recant. I said whatever he wanted would be best, and hoped he would come. It was kind of a bummer to me, since I felt bad now about twisting his arm so hard to go and he with all this gear bought, and a bike I basically pushed him into buying. But that would all work out years later.......

Next Week- "The Race Against Death Tour" begins!

Monday, April 20, 2009

One Down, One To Go!

<===The Shadowy Conspiracy behind Misfit's "Fe" hard tail stands to the left.

One of the coolest things about Sea Otter is the people you meet. I got to chat with Peter Keiller who is the Emperor Of Misfit Toys for awhile about his newest toy that is about to go to all the bad little girls and boys out there- The "Fe" version of his aluminum hard tail single speed. It will be a True Temper OX Platinum rig with the Misfit style sliders done in steel, (of a sort yet to be determined). This frame is made of American sourced steel, welded by hand in Canada, and powder coated in Canada as well. (Kind of sounds like hockey to me). Whatever! This bike is going to be cool and it should be a great addition to the Misfit family of toys. (Not recommended for children under the height of 5' 3")

Oh yeah, and Peter is a cool guy too. I was glad to have met him. It's always nice to see and hear from someone with vision and passion in the cycling industry. Gets me inspired, it does.

<===Under that classic orange paint is a skin of grey!

nother inspiring guy in the industry is Greg Matyas, owner/operator of Speedway Cycles up there in Anchorage, AK. Greg brought yet another titanium Fat Bike with him to Sea Otter. This beauty is now being produced by Lynskey Performance Design in Tennessee. Greg has a highly massaged down tube spec'ed for lateral stiffness and really cool details like a bent top tube for stand over clearance in snow, no offset in the frame, yet a totally usable range of gears, cool rack mounts, and wide tire clearance, of course! Greg has a titanium handle bar to go with this, but he sold the last example to Mike Curiak and is waiting on more to re-stock. The rims are the ever evolving Speedway Cycles rims that are drilled for lighter weight. To top it all off, the hubs are special Phil Wood high flange and custom width to accommodate this design. Trick!

Did I say that topped it all off? No......wait! Greg gifted me a "he-mans" bottle of Midnight Sun Brewery's Meltdown Double IPA. Yes! That did top off the meet up just right!

Another Sea Otter fades into memory........

So another Sea Otter is over. I made it home and I'm back in my familiar environs. But........Trans Iowa V5 lurks in the near future. Out of the frying pan, into the fire!

So, last minute details will be the order of the day. Look for thoughts and concerns to populate the blog posts in the coming days that reflect on my current deteriorating mental state.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Crazy From The Heat

<===Eye candy...

So, today was even warmer, and I could shed a layer. Great stuff! This was by far the best Sea Otter day I've experienced from that standpoint.

And then there was the ride I got in on a Specialized Stumpjumper carbon 29"er. Sweet, sweet rig there! But more importantly, it's another tick off on the "States ridden in '09" list. California: done!

Sea Otter is sponsored by SRAM, a component company, and it has a big press conference every year that is pretty well known for the media schwag that gets handed out. I missed the free gruppos this year, but I did score a sweet pair of anodized shifter paddles. Yeah!

<====Elementary, my dear Watson!

So I see Gary Fisher off and on all day today. He is cruising around with these two gals from Momentum Magazine and they are schlepping all the free dinner/lunches happening today. And I come to find out he's camping here right at Sea Otter.

That dude cracks me up!

So tonight I hung out with Team Ergon. Jeff and Sonya were there and it was great to hang out with those guys. Made up for being lost last night.

The cell phone isn't working right here. I am not getting all my calls or text messages. So much for the wonders of wireless communications. I mean, if it doesn't work in California, where will it work? I've missed calling my kids because of it, and now Mrs. Guitar Ted isn't a very happy camper. Oh well, what can you do?

Okay, one more full day of California sun and fun. Then it is back to Iowa. Really, I can't wait to get back home, believe it or not.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Got Real Lost In Carmel!

<====Advertising on the water bottles at the media center. Carlos approved!

So, it was a beautiful day at Sea Otter. It started out cool, then got progressively nicer, until it was rather sunny. Of course, I hadn't even considered being in the sun makes sunburn happen. I mean, I have been in Iowa for the winter!

So, I am red. Not really bad, but, ya know, I got burnt.

<===Ducati bikes on display

I ran around on foot all day, which makes for some really tired dogs, foot pads, earth stompers.....yeah. Tired! And hungry! So it was that Mr. 24's boss invited me out to supper. He says to meet him at the Carmel Inn and Suites and gives me some directions. I walk back to the car, look at my map. The streets he told me about were there, so off I go.

Well, I get to Ocean Boulevard, turn down it, and find myself in old downtown Carmel. If you haven't been there, it looks like a quaint, small, perfectly idyllic California movie set. Well, sorta like a movie set! The roads wouldn't pass for any wider than an alleyway in Iowa, and the vegetation is so thick and overhanging, you can't see down intersections.

<===Jeff set the Ergon tent in the wrong spot, so he, Sonya, and a couple helpers move it to the correct spot.

So I finally find myself at the ocean. Yes.....that ocean! And I have to turn so I can supposedly find my way to this motel. Well, I was in residential Carmel where the streets are even narrower and more overhung by vegetation. Slow going! I finally get out to the highway and do the unthinkable- I ask for directions. The guy said he'd never heard of the Carmel Inn and Suites, but there was a Carmel Mission Inn right near me. So, I check that out. Nope! Nobody from Ergon there! Well, by this time I am about bonked. I needed to head for the shed or be at greater risk of accident then need be. So I high tailed it back north up the #1.

<===Could this be Carlos' version of heaven?

I got back to Marina in one piece, had a couple gas station burritoes, and my remaining Negro Modelo's that were chilled in the fridge. Some Mexican dinner, eh?

Ah well! It's all good!

Tomorrow is SRAM's big press conference, and other goodies will be handed out, me thinks. Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Sea Otter Madness!

Okay, so I made it out to Sea Otter, well, actually........I'm in a Ramada Inn in Marina, CA, in case you want to stop by. The flights out were okay. two rough landings though. The one coming into Monterey was the pits! The plane was flipping around like a giant child was handling it!

So, California roads are like, totally not on a grid, doode! They are like, so whack! I am so totally glad I brought my bitchen' GPS unit, fer sure! Yaah! There's like, no way I'm going to find anything without it.

And then there is a big, big problem. I am looking out my motel window, right at it. Let me explain: Mrs.Guitar Ted is of Korean descent, okay. So she is stuck in blue collar, white bread America with almost zero Asian food choices, and what there are stink, really. So, I get here, and what do I see? A genuine Korean barbecue joint.....right across the street!

Dilemma: Do I go over and sample, or do I stay away in deference to my beautiful wife, who would probably go into a rage at the thought of me eating "real" Korean food, when she's stuck with Mickey D's. I tell just isn't fair!

, I gotta fire up Google Maps to find a way to Laguna Seca from here. Later ya'all!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm Outta Here!

Hey folks! I am prepping for my Sea Otter sojourn today, so a "lite" post for ya'all. Lots of stuff is going down though. Sea Otter is getting used by many more companies to release new product news and to demo the latest in cycling gear. I already have heard/seen the following:

Specialized Epic 29"er and carbon Stumpjumper S-Works 29"er

Rocky Mountain Bikes is expanding its 29"er line up with a FS rig and race hardtail

Niner showcases it's carbon fork, which should ship soon.

And the list will grow, as SRAM holds a huge press conference every Sea Otter, Shimano has some bits to show, and who knows what else will surprise me there.

But I have to get there first!

Anyway, I'd like to take this opportunity to also release news of my own. The Cyclist is the new site that I and Arleigh "Arsbars" Jenkins have cooked up to replace the Crooked Cog Network of sites that is going into sleep mode now that the administrator/domain owner is pulling the support for those sites and getting out of the web media business. Twenty Nine Inches will probably be up for awhile yet, but eventually it will also go into "static" mode at the will of the domain owner and everything will be over at The Cyclist from that point on.

The new gig has pages each featuring one category: Urban/Commuting, "Big Wheeled Bikes" such as 29"ers, 650B, and 36"ers, technical stuff- clothing, hardware, and the like, and finally a section for budget minded things to go in. There are RSS feeds for each page, so if you don't want to weed through the site, the feed can direct you to the articles of interest to you.

Anyway, that's all for today. I gotta get going!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Race Against Death Tour: The Beginnings

Beginnings and endings. It is what life seems to be all about. Changes can be good and almost always tough to deal with. That's what this story is all about. I called it "The Race Against Death Tour" back then for a few reasons. First- we were going to make it this time- do or die. That was pretty much Troy's take on this ride. We didn't make it to Canada the year before on the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour", and Troy wasn't about to have that happen this time. I thought "Race Against Death" was good from a humorous standpoint, but in reality, I was trying to out run my own demons that were hounding me from the recent past. It was a funny name on the outside, but on the inside of me, it was a "deadly" serious moniker.

Well, Troy thought we should have a third party. I thought so too. So I kept harassing Ryan to go with us. He didn't have a touring bike, and he couldn't afford to buy one either, being a poor "just-out-of-college-student". So, I told him that if I found him a bike, would he go? He said that he had some gear, but no tent. I said that I had a six man Eureka dome tent and we all could sleep in that. Well, it went back and forth like that until I basically brow beat him into coming with us. Oh, he was wanting it too, but I was pretty insistent that he go.

So, now I had to find him a bike. Great! Well, as fortune would have it, a fellow came in that needed to get a new bike. He was interested in a Bianchi we had. After talking to him a bit, he asked about trade in policies. I asked if he had his bike with him, and he did. Well, around the corner he wheels in a Schwinn Voyager. "Perfect!", I thought to myself. I went into big time salesman mode, made the deal, and had the Schwinn squirreled away before anybody else knew it was there. It was cheap enough that by that evening, Ryan had actually bought the thing.

So, parts swaps were made on all of our rigs while in the meantime we were thinking of a specific route. Troy had in mind two things: One was getting to his folks summer residence in Colorado which was on the other side of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Winter Park. The other was to see the Black Hills. Well, that made for some interesting route finding, but I was left to that on my own.

So I bought some road maps of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. I spent many nights pouring over roads, campground sites, rest areas, towns and villages, and roads of course. It was coming together. Soon we would be making some final preparations, setting a time to go, and setting off to the West.

Next Week: The possibilities were there, but not meant to be!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Saturday Cut Short

<===El Mariachi with the Conti Race Kings on board.

The day was great at the Camp. Sunny, cool, but very nice. I was out to test the Conti Race King 29"er tires that I have in and also the Geax Barro Race tires which I had mounted on another set of wheels. The Continentals were on the FSA wheel set in for testing. So was work mixed with pleasure!

The trails had firmed up quite a bit since Wednesday and Captain Bob had been out grooming them a bit, so the first technical part was fast and hairy! I went in to a little change up Captain Bob threw in a bit hot and about lost it, but it was all good. The Continental tires were surprising in that they gripped the loamy dirt like Velcro. Plus they were fast anyway, so speed was easily attained and that got me a bit over my head at first too.

I had to go down along the Cedar and check out the eagle's nest. Man! This thing is huge! I heard that there were a couple new eaglets there, and I did see a mature Bald Eagle sitting in the midst of the nest. Very cool. I left that spot and headed for higher ground in the Pines.

After glopping through a couple mud bogs, I got out of the Pines and went on my way to where I saw the wild turkey last Wednesday. I didn't see a turkey, but I did scare up a large Barn Owl that took to flight from a branch right above my head as I passed underneath it. Its wings moved a lot of air and I could hear that it was a large bird before I actually saw it. No pictures though. Too wary of a bird. It wouldn't sit still long enough for me to get a shot before it flew off deeper into the woods.

<===Switched out to GEAX Barro Race tires

I then made my way back to the "Dirty Blue Box" for the wheel swappage. Once done it was back out to the climb up the service road and down the switchbacks of Broken Finger Trail. This time I knew what to expect and raged the entire section. It was good. I then noticed a creaking. Rats! Eccentric bottom bracket? Crank arm? I dismounted and checked. Hmm........left arm is good. That's the one that usually comes loose on you. Checked the right side......wha..??? It was loose! Drats! I headed gingerly back to the car and ended the ride before I did any permanent damage.

I was a bit disappointed, but it all turned out for the best anyway. I got home at an appropriate time to get a few things done that I maybe wouldn't have if I had slogged onwards at The Camp. There will be other days too.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

New Webzine Debuts

Some of you may know Jason Mahokey, aka "The Soiled Chamois". Well, he started his own web-zine called "xXc" . He also has a blog to go with it. The tag line of the web-mag should give you a clue as to its content: Epic, Adventure, Solo.

Sound interesting?

I bet some of you will click the link and check it out. The rest of you should!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm Working On It!

Okay, today's post is all about things I'm working on.............

Going To Sea Otter: Next week I leave on Wednesday and spend the remainder of the week at Sea Otter, the annual mountain bike festival, race, and exposition held near Monterey, California at Laguna Seca Raceway. Too bad I don't have a motorscooter license, cause Ducati will be there demoing their Hypermotard rig. (Carlos faints with jealousy at this point!) I'll have to snag a photo of that bad boy!

Trans Iowa V5: Then less than two weeks after I get back I put on another Trans Iowa with my good buddy d.p. and a few volunteers. There's still some last minute things to pull together, but I think we'll be okay.

Riding For... I've got lots and lots of riding to do. Testing product, checking out components, and getting some longer routes in for the Dirty Kanza 200 at the end of May. Going in at this point I feel better than last year. Better fitness, better power, better recovery. I don't have a coach, a power meter, or a heart rate monitor, for that matter. But I know when I can punch the 38 X 18T gear over the dike, like I did about a month ago, that I'm better than I was last year, or for a long time, for that matter. Heck, I remember in 2003, when I started riding a 29"er, I had a 37 X 18 and it about killed me riding in to work!

And on a bit of a surprise...... Finally, we are taking the wraps off something next week that has been cooking in the back round for awhile now. Some of you out there have gotten the preview and know what I mean. It's going to be a big challenge, but I am excited going in that it is the right thing to do.

Okay, that's it for today. I hope you all have an adventurous time on a bicycle this weekend!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Camp Is Rideable! (But Barely)

<===Green moss and white snow make a contrast of Winter and Spring.

I got out to The Camp yesterday and made a two hour tour through there on the Big Mama. It was a blast! Of course, this is the first real "dirt" of 2009 for me, so I was very excited.

The trails ran the gamut from tacky and clear to muddy, choked with dead falls, or blocked by logging debris. There will be a clean up day at The Camp on April 18th, and I suggest if you are local, that you should show up. They will be needing lots of help. (I'll be in Cali that day, so I can't help, or I'd be there myself.)

<===A touch of snow here and there yet! (Probably gone by now!)

I rode through the Pines and that is still my absolute favorite spot on the trails out there. I ran into a bit of mud in one spot, but otherwise it was pure bliss there.

I saw a couple of deer, a Red Headed Woodpecker, and a huge Wild Turkey that I think was going to sit there and wait for me to fly on by. However; I stopped, and when it saw me stop, it got up and trotted away in a flash. Man! Those things can haul the mail when they want to run, and they are totally silent.

<===Big Mama= Big Fun!

So, the Big Mama was a hoot! I have the 120mm travel Reba Team with the Maxle 20mm through axle on it and that jacks up the bottom bracket pretty high. I could clear some of the smaller downed trees with ease.

I will have to see if I can tune on the suspension a bit more as it is super, couch-like soft right now. Like you are sitting on a pillow. Really! Yet it will climb as steep a pitch as you have the legs and traction for. Unfortunately for me, the greasy soil let me down in some spots and I couldn't quite clean everything yesterday that I am sure I could have, had it been drier. I did bag one climb I have a terrible time on with other rigs though, so that was a small consolation.

<===Over looking the river.

I thought I might not get along with the longer fork on this bike and the higher bottom bracket/slacker angles that it creates, but it actually behaved pretty well. I did have a wandering front wheel when I was going super slow, and climbing with the suspension set so plush required the on the nose of the saddle position to gain any altitude, but I am used to that on full suspension rigs.

Turning in was cool. I could actually "tip" the bike into slower turns, wheel it with lots of bar input, or lean and carve. Very versatile in that department, I think. I may try lowering my bar height a bit though by going with a flat versus riser bar. I found that the front end was too easy to pop up off the ground at times and the front wheel didn't seem pinned to the ground quite well enough at times in corners.

I will also definitely be tweaking on that suspension too. It's going to be a fun ride! I can't wait to go out on the Big Mama some more and ride it at different venues.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

T-6 Brent's Rule Of Single Speeding

Okay, so I like single speed riding. Alot! Many others dig it too. Why? Well, I'm not going there. This isn't about that. This is about gearing, and mental states of riding, and beer. (Well.......not really "beer", but it sounds good in this story. You'll figure it out!)

So here I was last year riding most of the time on my OS Bikes Blackbuck with a gearing set up of 34 X 20. I was spinning well all summer and it worked great for me. I could climb, I could go fast as I thought was fun, and I could limit my off the bike hikes. Good. I thought.

It was all good until Captain Bob and I had our "Sponsorship Summit" with Twin Six back last November. Ryan and Brent have had me as a "member" of the Team for awhile and it was my time to thank them, ride, and hang out a bit. I was spinning my gear on the Blackbuck when Brent says, "What gear do you have on that thing?" Well, a conversation ensued on the single track of Murphy-Hanrahan park as Brent expounded on the virtues of his "Rule For Single Speed Gearing"

Basically, "The Rule" states that you should not get too comfortable on the single speed with the gear you are running. This leads to stagnation in the performance department, lethargy, and a propensity to drink the cheapest Pilsner you can find. Not good! So what you should do, is put on a gear one to two teeth less in the back than you are running now. Performance will pick up, you will have more energy, and you will drink cool beer, like Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I said that sounded pretty painful, and that would most likely only increase my hiking time. Brent retorted with something like this: "Well, at first it sucks, ya know? You go out a few times at first, your legs are killin' ya man! You say, "This sucks!" Then you go out a few more times. Then you say, "Meh.....This isn't so bad." Then the next thing ya know, you're flying man!" Uh-huh.............riiiight! That's what I thought at first, but Brent took more time with me, ya know he is a Team Leader and all, and technically my Director Sportif, and I listened because of that. I think I finally came away with an understanding, and promised my DS that "next year" would be different!

So, we're into next year and what has happened? Well, I gave the idea a try on the Misfit diSSent. I set it up with a 34 X 18 and went out to ride. Well, it was fast, hard to deal with for awhile, and it made me want to buy imported beers. I decided that Brent must be a genius and that this was possibly going to work out for me. Then a day came that I hate to admit to. Captain Bob had something to do with this one...........

I had the Misfit at the shop, as I used it to commute into work on. Well, we were talking about this single speed gearing rule, and Captain Bob got down on a knee and said, "What have you got on hear for a gear?" (Why is it everyone asks me about "my gears"?) Anyway, he counted the big rings teeth.......36! Wow! I was pushing a 36 X 18? This was almost like doping, and it made me want to run out and buy a premium imported beer for sure! (late edit: Captain Bob says it is a 38 X 18!!!- He has the bike right now)

So, here's a public apology to Brent of T-6 saying that I'm sorry I ever doubted ya man! I hope you can still consider me as part of the Team. Thanks for the "Rule of Single Speed Gearing" I guess the most important part about it is that you just have to be blissfully ignorant of your higher gearing, mash away, and don't buy cheap beer.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Time Between Two Tours

This post doesn't really have a thing to do with touring, but it has everything to do with it. From my perspective anyway, and this is my story after all. So here's the deal..........

Lots of life altering things occurred during the rest of 1994 and into 1995. I won't get into any gory details here, but I lost my first wife to methamphetamine. Now she didn't die. She got hooked, was dealing, and one day she disappeared. It was a traumatic thing to deal with. I had to go through a weird divorce, and for a time was fearing for my life since I had dumped almost a thousand dollars worth of meth down a toilet. (Drug dealers don't take too kindly to that sort of thing.) I even had to "steal" my own truck and hide it for nine months before I could drive it. Yeah, that was a weird time in my life and yes.....the details are even weirder!

So I was what you might say "depressed" and not really thinking about any adventures going into the summer of '95. My friends were concerned and were watching me closely, I know. Fortunately, I found a source of solace that got me through this tough time. But I didn't know God as well as I was going to in a few months time. There was something brewing that was going to really rattle my cage, but in a really good way.

During all of this turmoil the shop hired a bunch of assemblers to get us through the early season builds. One of the new guys was a rider that had been hanging out a lot. Ryan was his name. A sometimes quiet, but extremely funny guy that could ride a mountain bike better than anybody I knew then. Ryan had the particularly cool ability to track stand no handed and talk to you for as long as you wanted. All the while just gently rocking his bike back and forth to keep balance. Crazy ability!

Ryan and I got to be friendly and we hung out sometimes. Of course, the story about the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" was recounted to him by Troy and I. Ryan would often say he thought it sounded like a fun thing to do. Another guy at the shop working as a mechanic, Tim, would be showing some interest as well.

I don't know who came up with the idea to go again, but it came up. In my mind, I just needed to get away from it all. The pain, the bad memories, and stuff that was still going down throughout the early summer. I was just glad some folks wanted to come along. So it was that Troy, Ryan, and myself were committed to make another touring attempt. This was going to be bigger, badder, and better right from the start.

We were going to the Rocky Mountains.

Stay tuned for the start of "The Race Against Death Tour"

Monday, April 06, 2009

It Sure Could Have Been Worse!

<===About 5pm outside my front door....
I was really hoping we'd miss the snow, and for awhile there, I thought we would. No snow yet by mid Sunday morning- But it came. And boy howdy! Mrs. Guitar Ted heard it thunder during the snow storm. I missed that. Rats! I always wanted to hear that when it was snowing by the bucket load.
Anyway, I was coming home from church in the Dirty Blue Box and it snapped loose in the rear going down a hill. Woo Hoo! (I'm one of the odd folks that actually enjoys this sort of thing!) Anyway, No harm-No foul. All came out well after about a city block's worth of fishtailing. Who knew a front wheel drive Civic wagon would drive like a half ton pick up truck in the snow?
<===Gordos make yer tires mo-betta!
In the meantime I kicked back for awhile and then got down to shoveling the evil white mush. Afterwards I went down into The Lab and swapped out some different tires on the Gordo rims. The Captains went on, which are supposed to be 2.2 inches wide. On the Gordos though, they are 57.3mm wide, or 2.3 inches. Yeah....that's what I'm talkin' about! Pump up the volume! (Well, the volume actually stays the same, it's how it is arranged that is nice!)
So, I'm keeping The Captains on for a bit. I like their overall good performance and they climb really well. Right now they are on the Big Mama. Hopefully I can get out on some "real" dirt soon. I hear the Camp trails may be lookin' good, with the exception of the logging. I might get out there, but Trans Iowa is on top of the "must do" list, so maybe not. We'll see!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

FSA Wheels: XC-290

<===The FSA XC-290 wheels: In Black!

I received these FSA XC-290 wheels for testing on Twenty Nine Inches recently. FSA may not be on the tip of your tongue for a 29"er wheel set. But they probably should be judging from what I'm seeing here.

32 spokes. Three cross. Traditional "J" bend spokes. Eyeleted rims. Smart choices that other wheel makers (I'm speaking pre-built here) are not making. All of that and they (supposedly) only weigh 1800 grams for the set. That's well within reason for $550.00 wheels.

These do have a special splined nipple though, so that is a bit odd. Although, FSA does the right thing and includes a wrench with each wheel set. (Along with skewers and rim tape.)

I am thinking that these days any wheel maker needs to consider tubeless ready benefits in their designs. There are more and more tires for 29"ers coming out that have this ability. Sadly, it would appear that the FSA XC-290's do not offer this advantage.

The wheels have a "Mavic-like" skewer, which I hope actually works like one. The look is definitely "Kerkove Nation" approved- all black with some tasteful white graphics. (Removable, if you want) Each wheel is hand built and serially numbered. That's kinda cool.

Just looking at them I think that they will perform quite well. I'll weigh 'em, ride 'em, and flog 'em for awhile. We'll see how they fare later.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Trans Iowa V5 Update

If you have not gone to see the website lately, you need to if you are in this event. Important news. Get it down! Don't forget it.

It is only a month away. One month to the fifth running of this beast of an event that will start to consume my thoughts more and more as I get closer to the the date. Everything comes to a point now. Sponsors shipping goodies, cue sheets getting printed, stuff getting double and triple checked. Late nights, too much thinking, and anxiety. (Yes, I get wound up a bit over this.)

So far, it seems as though we'll be golden. But with a month to go, anything can happen. Weather is always the untameable beast. Things seem too good in that department this year. Eerily good. I'm not holding my breath that it will stay that way.

The roads everywhere along the course are coming up as being in perfect shape. Nothing remotely close to last year's torn up roads and flooding.

It's only a month away, and that will go by fast!

Ride yer bikes and have a fine weekend folks!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Shearing Day

<===Doing my best Billy Gibbons imitation.

So, let's say you grew a beard, (and you are a male- we're not goin' the other way with this here!). Now let's say you go on for months and craft a fine patch-o-manfur.

Let's just imagine that for a moment...

So the day finally comes. It could be several things- a "look" from your significant other. A comment. Maybe you're just tired of trimming carefully. Or maybe you are looking for that last millisecond of speed. Whatever...........

The Day Of Shearing Has Come!

That means that skin that hasn't had direct contact with air for half a year gets exposed. Let me tell ya. That moment is weird. Kinda like ..........well...........I don't know quite how to put it.

Then your children see you. Maybe they screw their faces up like you are some stranger they've never seen before. The voice is right, the shape of the person is right, but that face! Maybe they point and laugh at you. Your significant other may walk by and glance at you with an air of triumph. "I told you that you'd take it off some day!" Hmm.....maybe. Or you might get from somebody that they liked the beard better. But they'd be in the minority, probably.

Then you look in the mirror. Whoa! Do I really look like THAT!

Fun stuff this Shearing Day.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Titanium News And Rumors

Lately, for whatever reason, it seems that there is all sorts of activity in the titanium frame and component areas. Downturn in the economy? Well, the "grey market" seems to be doing quite well, thank you!

So, the new venture by the former designer at On One, Brant Richards, is called Shedfire and his new brand, "tweak bikes" has punched out a new 26"er hard tail, long travel bike called the Ragsley. (See it here) So, here's a odd little sled not made from what you would think (steel) and in a time when it wouldn't seem to make any sense.

By the way, rumor has it there will be a 29"er from tweak bikes in aluminum. (But this is about titanium, so......)

It doesn't stop there, but it isn't so public. I happen to have gotten word, or should I say a second confirmation, just today of a titanium fork that will be coming out for 29"ers. It shouldn't be long now before it hits the public airwaves, but again, odd product- odd timing.

Then we have the way under the radar news that there will be a 29"er coming soon, made of the gray-ish mystery metal, that will not only be a BB-30 compatible sled, but reportedly, it'll have a Lefty on it. Sound nutty? Tell that to the factory guy that let this slip....(Hopefully he keeps his job!)

So, the times may not make sense for all of the titanium mania now, but it's happening, and coming to a trail near you.

This post is certified "Fool-Free" and not a bunch of myths and poorly crafted hoaxes. But you'll have to trust me on that one!