Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trans Iowa V6: Thoughts Part III

<====Trans Iowa V6 mobile office/recon vehicle will be seeing lots of gravel miles soon.
Note: If you haven't already caught on, I'll be posting regular updates on Trans Iowa V6 of the more "non-official" type here every Friday or Saturday. Just so you know......
Spot Tracking Comments: The jury is still out on this, but I want to thank all the folks that chimed in and gave me their two cents. I really appreciate that. No......really!
You never really know quite how to take comments, since there is no "voice inflection", no emotions attached, so I find it curious how several commenters said something to the effect of, "'s your race, run it your way and we'll show up." I get that on a very simple level. T.I.V6 will be run how d.p. and I see fit and you either will come or you won't. Yes. I understand. However; I don't get how that affects you folks opinions on GPS units and specifically using Spot tracking for Trans Iowa. Especially in light of some of the very considered and passionate comments I got otherwise.
It's like if I were to say, "We're going to ram bamboo shards under your fingernails and waterboard you as a qualifier for entry.", and you guys saying, "....whatever! It's your race, etc........" I am just making observations, so don't read too much into this. I just find that part curious.
Other than that, I really do appreciate the comments, I consider all of them, and if I see a trend in thinking, or if I get a well thought out, considered opinion for or against something, I weigh that heavily into my decision making. So, it makes a difference to Trans Iowa and ultimately you- the competitors- if you do chime in.
So, what do I mean in real terms here? What about this issue?
Well, to a commenter, everyone expressed remorse about the "no T.I. Radio" thing. It seems that ya'all got a charge out of it, used it as a sort of "audio post card", or had relatives and friends that thought it was cool. Okay.....point taken.
On Spot Tracking: I didn't get a very positive response to this. I got some very well thought out reasons for not having it, and a lot of ambivalent comments. It seems that this idea is on the ropes from a competitors standpoint. I will say that from a directors standpoint, there is some reasons to desire this. It will be weighed carefully and in light of the T.I. Radio comments. I'll make an announcement around Registration time.
And what of Registration? It will be announced around mid-November. Stay tuned!
Gravel Racing Series: Well, you knew it had to happen sooner or later! Yes, some of the "under the radar" classics are banding together into a series. Mostly located in Minnesota, the Almanzo Gravel Road Series "Race For The Cup" consists of The Almanzo 100, The Ragnorok 105, "The Gentleman's Ride", The Heck Of The North, and the lone Iowa event, CIRREM. (All links can be found for these events from the AGRS site)
Of course, there has been talk of creating a "Gravel Triple Crown" series for several years now, even before a Nebraska based event existed. Now that the GLGA is up and running, the talk of the "Gravel Triple Crown" has resurfaced with Trans Iowa and Dirty Kanza 200 filling out the limestone triumvirate. Of course, it is all just talk right now, but if what I am hearing actually happens? Yeah.......... Crazy stuff!!! And throw into that mix that the GLGA is going to be the "Official Gravel World Championships" , well, things could get "big". And well........I have some reservations about that.
I'll keep it brief and just say that these developments most likely signal a slippery slope downwards. You see it all the time with stuff like this. You can call me pessimistic, crazy, and downright wrong if you want to. I say, let's revisit this in five years and see. I am not saying this is all doomed, just doomed to change, and I wonder if it'll be for the better. I'm not feeling all that great about it sitting here today. That's all I'll say.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday News And Views

<===Hey! It's sooner than ya think!

Whelp! It's the end of October, and the end of Daylight Savings Time, (turn em back Saturday night, ya'all!), and the end of fall. That means the annual Turkey Burn ride at The Camp is going to be real soon. Generally the last off road ride, (or there abouts) of the season. So if you are around, make plans to show up. Plus, you won't want to eat too much turkey, or you will miss out on the chili!

Hard to believe winter is nigh, but it is folks!

<====Thinking these would be nice on the El Mariachi Gun Kote frame.

Scouring the Globe for appropriate parts to hang on that El Mariachi I've been posting so much about in the last week. Purple stuff? Yeah....we'll see. I have started the build, but some stuff might be awhile in coming. Hopefully it'll be my Turkey Burn ride.

<====Still diggin' the Carnegie's Bar

Saw on Twenty Nine Inches where Brant Richards dropped the info on us all that three versions of the Carnegie's Bar would eventually be released. The one you see here, a version identical to it, save for the logo being inverted for those sick puppies that want to run this bar upside down, but can't deal with the logo thing, and a "flat" version. (No rise)

Also there was a hint dropped that this bar will appear in another material someday. Veeery Interesting!! I will say that this bar has become a favorite of mine, but then again, I am a bar freak. I have a ton of handle bars. Always trying to "get a grip" but never quite do! Ha ha!

<====So many things about this pic just make me smile!

Scammed this one off of Gary Fisher's Twitter feed. It is Gary in the backround on a fully modern 29"er FS rig following Charlie Kelly on a period correct clunker caught here in mid-drift. (On Mt. Tam, I hear) Old school guys, old vs new bike, birthplace of modern mountain biking, old versus new garb, and gravel!

That's just a cool shot and pretty much sums up mountain biking in one image for me. Nice!

Have a great weekend folks! Ride yer bike right into Standard Time................and beyond!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Forced Rest Period

<===Quite possibly the oddest Ergon grip set up ever.

The Pofahl is now all set up with the Antler Bar and I went ahead and put on some spanking Ergon grips. This set up is awesome comfort-wise. I can't wait to put in a multi-hour ride on this set up to see, but I am sure it will pass with flying colors. The bars? Goofy looking, but they so remind me of drop bars without the drop part. Brilliant!

<====In the "Whatever Happened To That Trend" file.....

So I was playing around with some old stuff on the computer the other day and came across the image here from T.I.V2. Notice the "prayer rug"? I remember back in the day when these were a big deal on a lot of guys bikes. Whatever happened to that trend? (Or maybe more correctly- Was it ever a trend?)

I guess I thought it was kinda funny and cool. Maybe we should have a T.I.V6 carpet sponsor that would make us about 50 of those with embroidered race numbers right on them. How cool would that be? (I know, I know........but I've had a lot of time to sit and think lately. More on that in a minute)

<===England just seems to be chock full of these "epic landscapes".

So, being a cold weather cyclist and all, I pricked up my ears when I got an e-mail the other day from a guy introducing Finisterre, a U.K. based technical clothing company. So what? Well, they are a pretty environmentally conscientious company that uses techniques that are winning them awards, getting them in seminars in front of companies like Nike and adidas, and have helped save and develop their own exclusive breed of Merino bearing sheep. All this out of a six person company located on the northeastern coast of Cornwall, U.K. If you want to see a company that is in tune with today's conscious and "gets it" when it comes to "green" and manufacturing, but still has kick butt outerwear, check this out. I was really impressed.

<===Meet "The Enabler"

When I was at Interbike, Salsa Cycles Mike, "Kid" Reimer says to me, "Hey, ya got a minute?" as he looked around like he was about to pull out some illicit drug to peddle me. Well, what he showed me was a "fat fork". Or for those of you who are uninitiated into snow bike terminology, a fork that's really wide! Wide enough to swallow a Surly Endomorph or Larry 26 X 3.7 inch tire. This fork has a wider front spacing too, so it takes a rear wheel standard (135mm) width mountain bike hub. So, your next question might be, "What is this good for?" Good question, and the Enabler fork seeks to "enable you" to find out. (Get it?) If you do, this might be right up your alley. When will you get your hands on one if you want it? Another good question, but if all goes well, I wouldn't be surprised to see this come into stock yet this winter. Maybe later in winter, but we'll see.

So, I have been kid-sitting a sick child the last three days, and I have not been doing all that well either. (Sort of fatigued, and lethargic) It's looking as though I may get out to go to work today, but we'll see. A forced five days off the bike isn't at all what I had in mind, but it might just be what the doctor ordered. At least I have a serious itch to get out and do some riding, which is going to come in handy now that I have stuff to test and ride.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Gun Kote Frame

<=== It's here! (Formerly a Superior Blue El Mariachi)
Well, the Gun Kote frame is here and I am excited to be building up another single speed rig. Now mind you- I am taking one apart to get this one together, so it is a legit "add one, take one away" sort of situation, although the one that is being "taken away" might return again someday!
Enough about that. This turned out really neat. I like it a lot. It has a sort of eggplant color in the natural light, but the camera flash brought out the purple. If it's sunny out tomorrow, there may be some glamour shots taken to see how it looks outside.
<===The Salsa Cycles CrMoto stem got the Gun Kote treatment as well.
If you haven't been schooled up on Gun Kote, check out this post on it. That should get you up to speed on this amazing frame treatment. I hear it is tough, durable, and actually keeps rust out of the frame as well.
I'll be testing the claims, but some of them are apparently true just from looking at this frame.
<===Inside the EBB shell.
One of the verifiable claims is that of the thinness of the coating. It is thin! Check out the inside of that EBB shell and you can see the scoring from the previous installment of the Busnell EBB. You can even make out the tooling marks on the shell from the manufacturing!
By the way, there was white dusty stuff from the packing that is showing on the edge there and looks like bare metal. I assure you- it is not! I just didn't notice it until after I took the pic with the flash on, which showed it up. At any rate, it is easy to see this coating is thin, yet they claim it wears like iron. Tough to believe, but I aim to find out!
<===Check out those threads!
Another claim is that you do not have to chase out threads, again because of the thinness of the coating. Looking at these derailleur drop out threads, I'd have to agree!
It is a cool product that might revolutionize the way we get frames coated someday. My understanding is that the process is still in evolution and new techniques and effects are being pulled off with this Gun Kote all the time.
<===And there will be a build going on soon....
Yes, and I will be kitting this out with some cool stuff. I have a White Industries ENO crank set, and I have a Cane Creek short travel Thudbuster seat post coming to test which will go on this initially. I am going to put a suspension fork on it, but the jury is still out on that one. A decision on that will affect wheel choice, and brakes, so I am waiting for those "dominoes" to fall yet.
I suppose a purple part or two might look at home here. That said, I am gunning for Chris King stuff, and the only known available NOS King headset in purple in the world belongs to an East Coast Evil Genius. Knowing his love for all things purple ano, I won't be seeing a purple King headset anytime soon! Not unless I pry it from his cold, dead fingers, or Chris King starts up the magical Purple anodizing machine again. Neither of which are likely to happen. (I like "G" too much to do any harm to him, ya know?)
So the build will likely head in a red ano direction instead. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour- Angel Or Devil?

With the "Race Against Death Tour" over and done with, a few days after arriving at home a party was thrown in honor of the three travelers at the home of their boss from the bike shop.....

August 19th, 1995: With the tour behind us we went back to our "regular" lives at the bike shop. It was still pretty busy, being August and all, and I slipped right back into the regular routine. Saturday after work was going to be a big party at Tom's house for our return home. More of an excuse for a party, rather than a real reason, but what the heck, ya know?

So I decided to ride my bike over since I planned on having a few beers and escaping the notice of "The Law" on my bicycle after being "under the influence" was easier on two wheels under my own power. So it was that I pedaled over and found the party just beginning. It was just like any other gathering for me. I never was too adept at being "in the flow" of a party with a bunch of people, and this time was no different. I sat around, made a few comments, and had my fair share of beer. Later in the evening, I decided to bug out. I wasn't really feeling it.

And to be honest, it was a anti-climatic deal anyway. I was done with the most exciting thing I had ever done on a bicycle with no prospects of anything around the corner, an empty house, and no one to share my experiences with. WooHoo! Yeah.....big deal and all. So I turned the ol' Mongoose towards home and waved goodbye.

Now in those days, I didn't ride much with a light. I usually went at a fairly easy pace in the dark and just took it easy. We had bike paths, so staying out of harms way was easy to figure out. Back streets and bike paths all the way home, and I'd be in the sack trying to forget about all of this. Or so I thought. Turned out that this last hurrah for the tour had a pretty weird punctuation mark!

My plan was to hit the main bike path through George Wyth State Park, link up to the East Lake Trail, which would dump me out near the San Souci bridge. Then some industrial area back streets would guide me to my neighborhood and home. About a ten mile ride in all. It started out just grand. No wind, coolish temperatures, and plenty of street lights to guide me on the way into Geo. Wyth. That's where the speeds were dropped down really low. Darkness in that canopied trail was thick and it was hard to see. That being gotten through, I figured it was a no-brainer now the rest of the way in. That is until I got to the start of the Sans Souci bridge.

I heard crying. Crying like a young ladies cry, and it was saying, "Please help me!" between heavy sobs. I stopped to make sure I was hearing this for real. Yep! No doubt about it, and I could tell it was coming from the direction of the grassy sided dike that lined the river here. I dismounted my bike in search of the source of this crying. Well, it didn't take long to find it. A young woman laying in the grass. She looked to be a teenager. Maybe in her very early 20's at best. I told her I wasn't going to hurt her as she shrank away from me at first. I said I only wanted to know if she needed help. She sat up and said yes, she did need help. She had been pushed out of her boyfriend's car and had no way home. I said, "Pushed out of a car! Are you okay?!" She said she didn't know.

I asked her to stand up if she could, and she did with little effort. Well, at least she was moving all right, and I couldn't see any outward signs of trauma. I began to suspect her of lying about the car deal. She seemed really out of sorts too. Maybe high on something. Who knows in this town! Well, things seemed odd, at best, but I figured I could at least get her home. She steadied herself on my arm as I pushed my bicycle with the other, and we started out down the side walk.

I asked her again about the car, since it seemed rather incredible that she could have been dumped out of a moving car without injury. Well, it seemed the car had been at a stop when she was shoved out. Okay.......maybe she's legit, I am thinking now. Well, apparently she had broke the news that she was pregnant. I'm upset and concerned!

I felt really bad for this gal now and was determined to see her get home. I kept telling her it would be okay- we'd get there- don't worry about me. At one point she tugged me to a stop and asked, "Are you an angel?" Hmmm.....I shrugged that off. I was taken aback. Surely this was the oddest thing anybody had ever said to me. I just wanted to keep moving, but I felt an odd feeling inside me when she asked that question. Then, in an instant, all hell broke loose.

Red lights were flashing all around us. An intercom voice said, "Put your hands where we can see them and move away from each other! Slowly!" A blinding light was in our eyes. It was two squad cars and I could see men moving cautiously towards us. Well, I was confused! What the........... And then I was answering questions. "No sir, I don't know her name. No, I have no idea why she was there. I was just trying to help her." Meanwhile, I could hear her upset pleas to not bother me. That I had nothing to do with the deal. I told the cop my story, and then he asked that I just stay put for a bit while they pieced the story together from the young women's side. I agreed to stand still and wait.

Maybe it was ten minutes, I don't know, but it seemed like an hour. I stood there and then after that excruciatingly long wait, a cop ambled back towards me. He said, "Well, it's obvious to us you had nothing to do with her and what happened to her, so we're going to let you go. But, I suggest you head straight home!" he stated firmly. I said, "Don't worry about that, Sir!" And with that, I mounted up. As I pedaled away, I heard the young lady say thanks. I waved goodbye.

As I started across the street to hit the last couple of miles to the house I was freaked, amazed, happy, and wired all at once. I swore I would get home as fast as I could. I didn't want anymore weirdness on this night, as I figured I had burned through all my "good luck cards" already that night. I passed through quiet city streets quickly, reached my house, and hit my bed still breathing hard. I was at home.

It was all over.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trans Iowa V6: Recon Starts!

<===We came across this wicked cool B-Road.'s on! The recon of the Trans Iowa V6 course has begun. On Saturday morning, I crawled out of my bed at dark-thirty, drove an hour and a half, and met up with d.p. at Grinnell. We ate a little breakfast, and then we got going while it was still dark out!

What we saw has us stoked beyond belief. The T.I.V6 course is going to be a fun, fun deal for the folks that are lucky enough to ride it.

<===Recent rains have left roads in an April-like condition.

The weather of late has been cool-ish, very rainy, and reminded us a ton of what it might be like in April. For certain, the 36 hours of straight rain left the roads in what we surmised would be the worst possible conditions we might encounter for Trans Iowa. What did we find? Totally soaked road beds, ditches full of water, and totally impassable B Roads. The gravel? What gravel? In the opening 60-70 miles of the course we encountered 80% certified peanut butter conditions. Really sloppy! Basically, if you were riding a bicycle, you had to stay in the main car tracks, which there were usually only two of. How do we know this for sure? Well, we actually found a guy riding a cross bike on a short portion of what we're using as T.I.V6 course. (Dude- if you read this, we were the guys in the burgundy truck that passed you!)

<===The cyclist we saw was working hard. Check out how his cross tires were knifing into the soft gravel. (Photo after several cars had passed over his tracks)

If Trans Iowa runs this course in the rain or really wet conditions like today, it will play into slower times for sure with riders and cause a lot of suffering. That much is plain.

That said, d.p. and I noticed marked change within just a few hours of the course being hit with bright sunshine. Add in wind, which there was little of today, and these roads look like the kind that will firm up and dry out in a hurry. The gravel road surface being much sandier than in other parts of the state. This reminded me more of western Iowa gravel and Nebraska gravel than North East Iowa gravel, if that makes sense to anyone.

<===Of course.......there will be Hills!

The hills will make their presence known, don't worry about that! There were more than a few, "Oh! Cool!" and "Yeah! Check this out!" exclamations in the cab of the "un-named truck" as we sped along that morning. Certainly we will have some flats as well, but hills will be featured heavily in the opening round of T.I.V6- and keep in mind, you'll be in the dark! Better bring a bright, powerful light for the opening of T.I.V6.

We also figured out the potential start/roll out/pull off deal, which if it pans out, will be really cool. We checked out the potential finish line which will totally be in the tradition of years past but this one just might not be one that I'll ever be able to upstage. Possibly the all time best finish line a Trans Iowa could ever have. (Now lets hope the weather co-operates and we can "possibly use it"!) The run in to the finish will also be something we've wanted to do for years, and this time it will happen.

Yep! We're excited! And we've only laid eyes on about 1/5th of the course so far!

Stay tuned for more.......................

Friday, October 23, 2009

T.I.V6 Thoughts: Part II

<==Image courtesy of the Spot website
Last week I ranted a bit on Trans Iowa Radio and how I was getting a bit tired of saying what it was, and having people expect that it would be something entirely different. One of the comments I got was in reference to Spot Tracking and how perhaps it might be used in Trans Iowa to help diffuse the situation for me and the support/loved ones out there that are wondering "where the heck is my racer at now."
I put out word that I wanted to survey the potential field for the guys/gals that already had a Spot device, or were in the market for one. I got a lot of varied reactions to this, and today's post will cover my responses to those.
First off, I can not say at this time how, or even if, the Spot Trackers will be used in T.I.V6. Obviously they cost money, and I am looking into a possibility of a service that handles events like this that would be outfitting us with tracking devices. As of now the size of our roster likely will be bigger than their fleet of trackers. Thus the survey. Okay, I hope everybody has that straight now. By the way- if this happens- it will not cost the racers in T.I.V6 a dime.
Now on to the responses and my comments...........
I'm a Luddite- I don't want a tracking device on me!!: Yes, there are folks out there that don't care, want, or need a tracking device and I get that. The thing these folks might want to know though is that as the Race Directors, d.p. and I are tracking you! So, maybe we don't know where you are at on course all the time, but we do our best to find out what progress is, and obviously the DNF line lets us know when you are done. So, the Spot devices would merely be an extension of that fact. It doesn't mean we would come and get you, because we wouldn't. It doesn't mean you are not self sufficient, self supporting- because you are. Nothing really changes in terms of the event as you techno-phobes would see it. That said, if you really do not want one, no sweat. I get that.

I Don't Want/Can't Afford A Spot Tracker-But I'd Get One If Ya Made Me: Once again, we are not going to make anyone buy a Spot Tracker. If this happens it will be funded through sponsorship, or by "other means" yet to be determined. Obviously, you are welcome to buy one if you are so inclined. Also obvious- you can bring yours if you own one. If you don't have one and don't want to buy one, we may be able to outfit you with one and then you would return it post event. Again- if it happens at all.

Will there be enough "Cell Tower" coverage for a rider to make a cell phone call if said rider needs medical assistance or completely bonks? : Here's the deal- Cell coverage in the boonies of Iowa can be hit and miss, but you can figure on these three tips to get you by 95% of the time. #1: Any paved road, especially U.S. Highways, will likely have cell coverage within a mile or so either side of that road, maybe more. #2: Valleys are your enemy, hill tops are your friend. #3: If all else fails, find the nearest farm house. You usually will be in line of sight of at least one. If not, get on top of the hill!
That said- Know your strengths and know your bodies signals. This is an ultra-endurance event. If you have never done a multi-hour event, a marathon, or a 12-24 hour event, you might want to be very careful here. If there is ever any questions in your mind about your ability to be clear minded and have the physical strength to carry on, stop. Rest awhile. Re-evaluate your situation, and don't be stupid. It's just a silly gravel road ride afterall. It isn't worth losing your life over, or causing yourself physical harm over. Make the call in to DNF and get your ride coming. There will be other chances for gravely glory down the line.
Will there be a place for a riders "Driver", essentially a spouse or buddy, to hang out with WiFi and a computer or cell phone to go save the rider if said he/she fails, gets stomped on by cows, or drowns in possible sink hole? : (Yes- this is an actual question sent in. My favorite one too.) Okay, we will be working on a cheaper deal for folks to stay at a local motel, which would have WiFi free. As for a race ending deal, we are in talks with a potential sponsor that may get us hooked up with a really cool, rustic, Iowa relevant finish line that might just work out as a great place to hang out. Cell coverage: Yes. WiFi- probably not there. We'll see.....
That said, we stress that all riders have a cell phone and know how to use it! Riders are responsible for themselves and must arrange their own communication to support people! We are not going to provide any means of contacting your riders or support folks. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN OUT THERE!
The GPS deal (if it happens) will only be there for entertainment and for folks outside of the event to follow tracks of their rider of interest. Spot trackers have a 911 button in case of an emergency, but obviously we won't be going to get them. (Or at least it should be obvious by now)

So, Are Racers Going To Be Tracking Each Other? No! This won't happen unless support people call racers with updates they are getting on their phones. I don't recommend they do that, but I also don't see that as being very helpful anyway. Probably would be more demoralizing than encouraging, but an offense punishable by DNF if I found out. At any rate, the point is that the only reasons anybody would be getting a Spot Tracker to carry at T.I.V6 is for the "audience" to follow along at any moment that is convenient to them. This means I quit getting the 3am in the morning, "How's my boy doing?" calls, the "Where's John Doe right now? Did he make it to checkpoint #2?" calls, and the all to often received "How far along are they now?" calls. Nope! These folks could just look it up on an internet page that would display every Spot trackers tracks on an overlay of an Iowa map.

But who am I kidding? I would still get all of those calls!

Like I said, this whole deal might just fall through, or not materialize anyway. And if it doesn't?
Then no T.I.Radio, no tracking, no nuthin. Just a self supported event that would leave loved ones, girl friends, wives, moms and dads, relatives, and fans chewing their fingernails until I posted the results the following Monday.

And lots of frantic phone calls in the middle of the night........

And maybe that's how it should be.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Riding In The Halls Of Gold

<====It just doesn't get any better than this!

Fall riding is so cool because it is such a hit and miss thing. You never know what day is going to be "that" day. The one that is the height of color and with most of the leaves still on the trees.

Some years it never happens due to storms and wind. Sometimes you just don't have the day off when it hits. I used to take vacation on this week or the week before in search of perfect Fall color and experiences. I just love being there on that magical day. Out in the woods riding my bike. It is the best! And ya know what? I think I scored a jack pot of a day today. Gold baby! Just look at that!

<===Kings and Queens never had such golden halls!

The light this time of year only adds to the effect. It isn't as direct as it is in the summer, so you get a filtered light from the leaves that canopy overhead. With all the gold color, everything just looked golden, or tinged with gold. A definite "glow" was in the air. Hard to describe it, but it was really cool!

<===The Big Mama was making life smoove!

The scenes here are from Cedar Bend Park near Waverly. For whatever reason, the predominate color in this forest was yellow. No browns, no oranges, and very little red.

The trails had just the right amount of leaf coverage. Not drifted in. They were wet from an early morning shower too, so they were matted down. The soil was tacky. Rocks were slippery. It was a fun ride!

<===There is a bike in the picture somewhere!

A spectacular day and just a great day for riding in the woods. I hope everyone gets at least one great Fall ride in before the chill winds blow and the leaves fall and mournful looking bare trees are all that's left. Not that you can't have a great ride then, but the certain magic in the air on the perfect Fall day is well worth chasing after.

Have a good time chasing that day down.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Long Lost Frame Set Is Coming Home!

<===I went for a stenciled, stamp kinda look

Back in the summer, or sometime so far back I can not remember, I sent in my El Mariachi frame in to be "Gun Kote" treated. It's a kind of a paint type surface coating that has extraordinary properties which make it an ideal way to cover up that ol' steel El Mariachi.
Well, it is something that Milwaukee Bikes uses and since I had reviewed the Milwaukee Bikes 29"er earlier in the year, I had made a connection with them, and they had suggested the process to me. So off the frame went along with the CroMoto stem I had for it.
<===It is really a dark purple, not black!
So normally you get one color, and pow! You get your bike back in a flash. (Like three weeks or so) But I wanted something a bit more complicated. I wanted a panel with pinstripes, and a decal. Yes, the decal is also Gun Kote. That made things a bit more complex with the process, and also getting me to approve a decal idea. (Sorry! Much of the delay was my fault!)
And just to be clear, Salsa Cycles had nothing to do with this nonsense, so don't be bothering them! This was all my crazy idea, as far as the scheme goes. You may not like it, but that's okay. I'm the one that will be putting up with it. I think it looks pretty cool!
<==The Ol' El Mar just doesn't look the same!
Well, at any rate, I am getting it back real soon. I will now have to choose components, and what not to get it rolling again.
I used to always roll this bike geared, but I may have to make it a single speed this time. What the heck! I mean, I might as well add another single speed to the stable, eh?
Or not. I don't know yet. There is much to be decided, and much to be figured out about this Gun Kote stuff so I can properly tell the whole story. Suffice it to say, I have heard some pretty incredible claims. I am very anxious to check them out for real.
Stay tuned..................
All picture credits to Ben's Cycles. Thanks Guys!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour- Day 10- The Load Out

After putting in 21.13 miles just dinking around the Black Hills on Day 9, "The Race Against Death Tour" makes its final short ride into Hill City on Day 10.....

August 16th, 1995: Today is the day. We only have to pack up one last time for a short ride into Hill City to meet Ryan's Dad at the Conoco station by 9am. As we get moving, the conversation is non-existent, other than the asking for details about the pick up. A solemn air hangs over all of us. It belies the feeling everyone around us has as it is another picture perfect day in the Black Hills.

As we roll out of Rafter J-Bar Ranch for the last time, a bittersweet feeling comes over me, as I remember all the years before when I was here as a child. Then I turn to follow Ryan and Troy down the long driveway as they have gone out of site already. It seems as though the uncomfortable feelings are better put behind them as quickly as possible.

In fact, they are motoring along at a fair clip as I dangle off the back. What's the hurry? We had plenty of time to make our rendezvous and I was enjoying these last miles for all they were worth. Watching folks getting ready for fall. Seeing the local high school football team practicing for opening day. All the little things were in sharper focus for me today. This is the day.

We arrive at the Conoco station and Troy goes to find a phone. Ryan looks for some grub to chew on, and I sit by the bikes to guard them one last time. It seemed like we were sitting there forever waiting for something that might not happen. I felt a bit of anxiety. What if we have to stay another night? Money was tight, I was almost out. I could only afford a few Cokes for the ride home. Man! It seemed like the minutes were taking hours. This was the day.

Then Ryan's Dad pulled up pulling a white aluminum box trailer. Greetings, some small talk, then we loaded the bikes in the trailer, and we sat down for a 12 hour ride back home. This is going to be a long day.

The ride was uneventful. I figured we were like a band on the road. Traveling to another show. I thought of Jackson Browne's "The Load Out". Somehow it seemed appropriate. I was wishing we could "play just a little bit longer" but we couldn't. Today was the day.

That 12 hours was like a foggy memory. It seemed surreal. Then a sharp focus when we got within sight of familiar territory. Finally, we reached the outskirts of Cedar Falls and I saw the twinkling lights of the city. The plan was to get dropped off at our bosses house. Then we were going our separate ways. Tom was there, he had a big smile, as usual. He was excited to hear about our adventures, but Troy and Ryan were ready to get home, and I was left to sip a few beers and give Tom the lowdown on the highlights. And that was the end of the day.

I turned my bike towards home. Rode it through the black of night with the promise that I would attend a "welcome home party" that Saturday night. It was pretty lonely on that ride, but not as lonely as that empty house I stepped into that night. That was the day. The day the tour ended.

Next Week: The "Welcome Home Party" and a weird encounter.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I happen to have a limited edition Raleigh Rainier SSCX bike and I get hits here on the site all the time about it. Well, TODAY, you can go here for the details on how to get one of 50 available frame sets. One of these, packed at random, will show up white, while the rest are brown. You get the white one- you win a customized finishing kit for the frame set!

So, remember- THIS IS TODAY ONLY!! The site goes live at 2:00pm PST. Hit this link to find out how to git er done!

Space: Of Bars, Wasted, and Otherwise!

<====A Blackbuck in the woods.

I got an Origin 8 Space Bar OR to test and stuck it on the OS Bikes Blackbuck to ride this past week. This bar is very much like the Misfit Psycles Fubar. The Space Bar OR is also very much unlike its similarly named street oriented bar, the Space Bar.

This new bar is beefier and heavier than the old Space Bar, plus it has a much better clamping area for your stem. It even surpasses the FuBar in this respect, which I had a devil of a time finding the right stem for. The problem with these swept bars is that your weight, while on the grips, is far enough away from the centerline that runs through the clamp area that you generate a lot of leverage that wants to cause the bar to spin.

<===Lots of backsweep here!

The FuBar was a smallish diameter in the critical clamping area and I could only find one stem that had the right combination of length, rise , and most importantly, clamping force, that would accomodate the FuBar. Fortunately, the Space Bar OR doesn't suffer from this minor flaw and I can get major clamping force using my preferred purple no-name stem! (Or any other stem for that matter)

<===Hey! If Brad Wiggins does it, than its gotta work, right?

Okay, here we have a strange tale of two men from the local area here. First we have "Fatty", who typically lays in the weeds and ambushes innocent local bloggers with "anonymous" commentary. Fortunately, most of us locals are on to this ruse, and we have taken much joy in outing him whenever the occaision presents itself.

The second man, pictured at the left, is the Blue Colnago. He's a fella that's been around the block a few times, and doesn't take too well ta young whippersnappers that are lookin' ta take a cheap shot. I mean, he's just a guy lookin' ta have a good time on a bicycle. Okay?

So, I get these two pictures from "Anonymous" (yeah....we all know who you are buddy!) and he asks me ta post that Blue is "buzzed". Well, you have ta know the rest of that story ta "git this". So, here's a short synopsis:

Blue got a pic of Fatty after he'd tanked a few and posted it on his blog saying that Fatty looked "buzzed". Well, the youginz didn't take too kindly ta the lil' bit o ribbin and had hisself a hissy fit. Posted all sorts of goofy comments. Anyway....

So, that's the reason I'm being dragged into this affair. Well, ol' Fatty has a bit of learnin' ta do. He'll figure it out. Someday.

Us older guys gotta stick together. I mean, we have enough back hair ta be Silverbacks, the Alpha males, and younginz should respect that. Not try ta make us look goofy. We can do that on our own without any help from the yoots.

<====Nya nya na-na nyaaaaaa!
So have a little reeeespect fer yer elders there Fatty!
Heck, Ol' Blue knows he's buzzed. Been that way fer the better part of oh..........thirty years now, I figger!
(Just so you know. I really like both of these guys, and I hope ya'all take it in stride. Have a good Monday! Oh! And like blue likes to say- "Peace, out!"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

T.I.V6 Thoughts: Part I

Note: In the coming weeks, I'll be posting up some of my thoughts on T.I.V6. Stuff like new sponsorship news, registration announcements, course recon stories, and bits about how things will go down in late April 2010:

Okay, so here is what's on my mind this time. Support. Specifically support by electronic means. Also "Trans Iowa Radio". Let me briefly recap what I am concerned with.

Cell Phone Support: It came to my attention last spring that some riders were receiving encouragement, racer updates, and other helpful info via cell phone from folks following along in the event as it went from check point to check point. I even eye witnessed this at a couple of points. Also, GPS is a part of cell phone aps now. I will address this.

Trans Iowa Radio: I call this "Trans Iowa Radio", but in reality it is simply my audioblog updates of the event as I put it on. I do this for fun. I realize now that some folks think it is a lifeline of information that should tell of every single competitor in Trans Iowa. Not only is this an absurd notion, but it is simply impossible. Yet every year I get criticized for not doing something somebody thinks I ought to with it.

Okay- I will address the cell phone thing first. #1: Checkpoints will not be announced beyond the first one approximately 40 miles in. This will do a couple of things. It will keep folks that are supporting a rider from tagging along and getting in situations that will encourage them to call their rider and give them "news" and get news of them. It also will keep those same folks from clogging up convenience store parking lot spots for hours.

Now of course, this doesn't prevent a rider from calling ahead to a support person and having them be at a checkpoint. That said, if I see this, your rider will (a) be obviously DNF-ing and has called the support person to be there to pick him/her up, or (b) will be DNF-ed because support people will not be allowed at checkpoints in 2010 unless they are doing (a) listed here. Period. No discussion of that point will be entertained by me.

Obviously, I can not keep folks off their phones. Encouragements will happen. But at least I won't have to witness it at checkpoints and I won't have to deal with angry convenience store clerks who think we are impeding customers from getting into their parking lot.

#2: GPS aps on cell phones: This has become a reality. The thing is, a GPS will not help you in Trans Iowa because we break down the course into three sections and you don't get cues for all of them before the event. Only the first 40-ish miles. Logging in the co-ordinates to have the GPS guide you would take too long. Plus, you can't read the thing and ride safely at the same time. So, GPS units will be allowed on T.I.V6 as long as they are not mounted on your bicycle or anywhere visible while you are riding. This means you must have them in a pouch, handlebar bag, or rucksack/hydration pack. Getting elevation, correct mileage ridden, and whatnot is cool. I get that. But I don't want the things on your bikes due to the safety factor. A simple computer for mileage to cues and your cue sheets are distraction enough. But what about GPS units that act as cyclo-computers? Nope. Not allowed. Why? Because someone will try to read the map in theirs while riding, that's why! Think I'm whacko? Well, during T.I.V1, we had a guy ask for the second half cues so he could microfiche them and have them flip automatically on a device he had mounted on his bike.

Now, as for Trans Iowa Radio, it will not happen again! I am done with it because of the constant complaints about riders I don't mention. As I have stated over and over again: Riders are responsible for themselves! It isn't up to me to give a report on any rider in Trans Iowa. But no matter what I write on forums, this site, the T.I. site, or tell folks at the pre-race meeting, I still get complaints that Trans Iowa Radio didn't work, or I didn't say something about "so-and-so" and are they dead? Okay, so I'm done with that. No more.

Riders should have cell phones and if they want you to know where they are at, and want to take the time to tell support folks, go ahead. have at it. But it will eat into their cell phone battery life, slow them down, and waste precious time. Another thing to weigh into your race strategy. It isn't my responsibility, it is the racers. So I won't give folks the pretense that I will be saying something about their racer by doing a fun audioblog. Got that?

As always, you can voice your opinions on any of this. If someone has an overwhelming reason to why I am a nitwit for thinking up something I write here, I will consider it carefully. I might even change my mind, but it better be a great reason for me to do that. Considered opinions are always accepted. Rants, or unreasonable comments are not. Now you know.

Don't want to leave a public comment? Hit me with an e-mail here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday News And Views

Space Bar Part II: At one time I had a few Origin 8 Space Bars on my rigs which were much like On One's Mary Bar, only waaay cheaper. And as it turned out, waay more breakable! (Well, for off roading- okay?) So I never had an issue with them mountain biking, but I didn't want to, so I ceased using them off road.

Now Origin 8 has a "Space Bar OR" which is "off road rated". It isn't anything like the Mary or the old Space Bar either. Nope! I'll have some pictures and info up later, but for now let's just say it has the look of another bar I am familiar with.

More Good Stuff: I have been getting more intel gathered for details concerning the course and some of the social things surrounding T.I.V6. Boy! This might be the most outlandish, coolest Trans Iowa yet devised. If half of what has tickled my ears gets to the event, than I'll be really floored. I haven't been this stoked about doing a Trans Iowa in a long time. I will be getting to it here very soon, so start looking for details to pop up and lots of hints and clues in the coming weeks and months.

More Antler/Elgokse Reports: I will be swapping over to the full on Antler/Elgokse set up here shortly and getting some reports up on how that works out on various surfaces soon. I needed to figure out how I wanted to approach the Nokon housing problem, since I was going to need to string on more of that on the Pofahl to get the brake levers to sit where I needed them to on the Antlers. I have a solution now without necessitating spending the $$$ on a full Nokon kit. (I only need a bit more, not a full kits worth) So I will be getting that set up here soon. Stay tuned!

Fall Makes A Return?: It looks as if the weather will return to more of a Fall-like feel around here starting this weekend. That's all good for me! I was getting a bit bummed that Winter would be striking sooner than later, and I was hoping we'd get an "Indian Summer" at least. Well, it looks as though we'll get a break, so I better get out while the gettin' is good. And so should you!

Have fun riding where ever your bike takes you!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Classic Fall Ride

<===You have to have a worthy bike....

So I went out Wednesday to go test out the WTB Dissent tires I had mounted up to the Salsa Cycles Big Mama out in the woods of The Camp. As I stepped outside to load up the truck, I felt a heavy drizzle.

Well, overcast skies, drizzle, and cool temperatures- what says "Fall" more than that? I figured it was appropriate, so I kept on with the preparations to leave. Once loaded up, I got into the truck and noticed that hey! I was going to need the windshield wipers to be on. Well, okay. Intermittent wipers. No big deal. It'll blow over and who knows? Maybe it isn't raining, or whatever- at all up at the Camp, ya know? So off I went.

<====.....and you gotta have leaf strewn trail in the woods....

Well those intermittent wipers became full on wipers once I hit the highway, but I figured that at 70mph, ya know, the wipers would need to be on all the way because my speed was like- you know.....making me run into more water droplets. I mean, it probably wasn't "that bad", okay.

<===....and then you have to have a heaping helping of tree color. That's a classic Fall ride!

Ahh! Who am I kidding here! This was a full on rain. Rats! And I was almost there. Okay- I figured once or twice down the big hill and I'd know enough for today. I could pack it in and come back again on the weekend. But then a strange thing happened. By the time I finished getting the tire pressure set, I didn't feel anymore rain. No mist. Nothin'!

On that note I sped off up the service road and had a blast riding the trails. I saw plenty of deer, and even chased a big ol' wild turkey up and it ran off a ways before taking flight. Later on I stopped and I could hear the sounds of the turkeys clucking and chirping to each other. Echoing off the woods and trailing off into silence. Cool!

It was slightly muddy and wet from the rain. Just enough to make it all interesting. The trail ride worked out great for testing the tires and I got in some wonderful time in the woods on a classic Fall day.

Hope that you all get one in soon too. Fall won't be around forever!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday News And Views

<===WTB Dissent 2.5" 29"er tires making the Big Mama even bigger!

So here we have the absolute gnarliest, heaviest, highest tech cased 29"er tire ever. Say hello to the WTB Dissent 2.5" tire. (Note I didn't say it was the biggest tire, more on that in a sec...)

This thing was made for aggressive riding in severe terrain. Big casing, and huge knobs! They look like motorcycle tires more than bicycle tires.

And WTB didn't scrimp on this one either. You see, normally tires made for 29"ers are standard casings, not the high tech, best available casings found on 26"er models. WTB threw their latest tech at this one. Super Duty casing, which is a ......oh heck! I'll just let WTB explain this!

This thick-ply casing resists cuts from rocks and debris
while damping impacts. Our Inner Peace sidewall reinforcement further protects
the tire from damage, reduces sidewall flex and dramatically reduces pinch

Besides this, the tire tread is siped to provide more working edges and the tread compound is a 50A which means it is sticky and grippy. And that it is! And it rolls great too. Amazingly so.

But anyway, this is the first 29"er tire that was designed to go toe to toe with your rock infested trail and come out in one piece.....oh yeah, and with air in it!

<===Big knobs, little clearance.

Now a lot of folks are going to wonder, "How big is this beast?" Well, the casing isn't as big as say, a WTB WeirWolf LT, or a Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 incher, but it isn't a slouch in that department. The casing on a Gordo at 30psi measured 57.7mm, but it is the knob width that is crazy, measured at 62.2mm at the widest point. Now add in the height of the casing, which is pretty dang tall, ( 29.5" overall diameter!)and you're talking a whisker of clearance on my Reba Team. I can get knob rub in certain side loaded situations, which is a bit unnerving. Oh well! I hear other forks clear this combination of tire and rim better, so I will either have to shop for a new fork, or put this tire on a Bontrager Rhythm wheel, which has a 28mm wide rim, which might get me just enough clearance to do the trick.

<===Drop bar freaks rejoice! The Woodchipper is coming!

The Woodchipper is coming! Salsa Cycles has released info on the ETA on this new off roadable drop bar, which is going to be awesome. I can't wait to bolt this on the Fargo and give it a whirl.

Salsa says that these should be in late November/early December. Check out the Amigos Blog for more.

Now for a bit of a side track. I get web stats and once in awhile, I get a bunch of hits from folks on some forum over in Europe wondering about us nutjobs over here that like off road drop bars. Well, I was surprised to see a bunch of hits from a forum in Greece, of all places. Crazy! Anyway, yeah. Drop bars work off road, but they need to be like the Woodchipper, which isn't anything like a road bar. Really!

<===Cold weather is upon us. Got Glove?

I just checked out these Giro "Proof" gloves which are really two gloves in one. The liner is a lycra type deal with nice rubber grippers on the palm and a nice cuff to keep the wind out. The outer is Thinsulate lined and has a great shock cord that tightens everything down that can be operated with a gloved hand. Pretty cool......well, actually- warm!

The gloves are available for about $54.00 MSRP.

<===On One does up Midge in colors!

Now the "grand daddy" of the nouveau off road drop bars has always been On One's Midge bar. You have to get these from the U.K. and they have always been black. Now, seeing a bunch of interest in colors, the On One crazies have announced the Midge in white, silver, red, gold, and probably some other colors I can't think of. So if you are into that sort of thing, hit this in a few weeks and see if they are in. (Black ones are in stock)

There is one other drop bar for off roading coming, and that is Ragley Bikes "D-62" bar. That should be coming sometime in the spring, I think. We'll see!

Okay, that's it for now. Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour- Day 9- Sylvan Lake

"The Race Against Death Tour" is camped out at the Rafter J-Bar Ranch.........

August 15, 1995: After doing a measly 27.6 miles the day before, and hanging out the rest of the day, we were all pretty refreshed and rested considering all the brutal riding and weather we'd seen so far on this trip. The weather here in the Black Hills was optimum. Cooler than we'd had, sunny, and not at all windy. In fact, you could say it was about perfect. We decided to hit up Hill City for breakfast and we rolled the short way into town to find a decent place to eat. We seemed to be oddballs, outcasts, and drifters to the local populace. I suppose "touristas" were all treated this way, but as we were from a non-tourist destination, we didn't quite "get it", and we were a bit put off by the attitudes we seemed to be attracting.

We ate our breakfasts and by now had decided that the Sylvan Lake option was our best bet especially in regards to Troy's knee. It was feeling better, but he didn't want to stress it out climbing all the hills around here and we really didn't have a lot of time. So off we went in search of the Needles Highway and Sylvan Lake.

The climb up started not far from where we had camped. It was sort of gradual for about a half mile, then we saw them. Switch backs! real, honest to goodness switch backs! It was pretty amazing to climb up this road. It went on for six miles like this, and then we saw the turn off to Sylvan Lake right as things leveled out a bit.

The turn off was lined with cars waiting to get in, so we three just fell in line. Waiting our turns, we chatted and laughed. It was a relaxing, fun time with no pressure. Not like we normally had on the bikes up to this point. When we got within eyesight of the Ranger's hut, we were waved up. We looked around like, "Who? Us?!", went around the cars of scowling faces, and were told bicycles get in for free. No need to wait in line to pay! Yes! Bicycle benefits! Me likey!

Once we entered the park, the awe inspiring landscape of Sylvan Lake took us in, and we began to cruise around checking out the place. We saw rock climbers and hikers everywhere. The spires of rock jutting straight up out of the lake were like something out of a sci-fi movie set. It was like nothing I'd ever seen before, nor since then.

Ryan had his rock climbing shoes in his pannier, just in case he saw a place in the Rocky Mountains where he could spend time trying them out. Well, we weren't going to make it out there now, but this would certainly do! Troy tried a little bit, but I was content to watch. After Ryan had his fill of that, we relaxed a bit, got some photos, and decided to head back down the mountain for the campground and supper.

The six mile screaming downhill of switch backs was pretty hairy. Ryan almost rolled a tire, and my bike was skipping across the pavement on the skinny roadie tires. I was used to fat mountain bike treads, not these 35mm Avocets! I went as fast as I could, but Troy and Ryan had better handling bikes and left me in their dust. Oh well! It only took 13 minutes to descend that 6 miles, so it wasn't long until I caught back on at the bottom.

Back at the campground, we hit up another game of hacky sack, then cooked up our last meal on the road. The next day, Ryan's Dad was heading out to meet us at 9am in Hill City to pick us up with a trailer for our bikes to ride in. The end started to settle in on our minds. This trip would be over soon, and we all retreated into silence as the night time advanced.

I suppose it is hard to explain what one feels after such an ordeal. Especially when you sense a bond with your fellow travelers that goes beyond your comfort level to express. Silence becomes your only option at that point, I suppose, because you know you are heading down a different path once the fellowship is broken.

At any rate, we hit the tent for the last time on "The Race Against Death Tour".

Next Week: The Load Out

Monday, October 12, 2009

Time To Move On....

Well, this weekend was a very strange one full of highs and lows for many reasons. That being said, The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo is over, albeit a snowy, truncated one. The participants will no doubt have stories to tell for a lifetime, and at least that part is good. Go here for a report from ground zero.

As for my part, it was extremely minor in the end. So I will leave all the story telling to those who deserve to be telling the stories. Please check the link.

I will just say that I am humbled and thankful to all who did the majority of the "heavy lifting" on this project. The event was really yours. You guys and gals deserve all the thanks and pats on the back. Awesome job!

Now it's time for me to move on..........

Next stop for me is Trans Iowa V6. The wheels will really start turning on this now that the Ballyhoo is in the rear view mirror. I hope to be getting on that before the end of the month. With the way this weather has been, who knows when we'll get too much snow, or ice to do anything for recon. I mean, did we even have a Fall?

So, look for an announcement on the early planning stages of T.I.V6 soon and of course, Registration will be happening around Thanksgiving time. Look for a special announcement concerning this just before that holiday here, on the T.I.V6 website, and on

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo 2009: Big Snow!

Just got word that the site of the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo was dumped on with 12-14 inches of snow last night. The decided to bag it and the event is off. Too bad really, a lot of work went into this. A lot of sweat equity on the part of the folks in Nebraska too.

The area is set to get a near record low tonight in the upper teens too, so it just wasn't meant to be I guess.

I'll report on any news as I get it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday News And Views

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo: Well, if you didn't know, it is too late. The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo is set to take off near Brady Nebraska starting at 3pm this afternoon and will run until 4pm Sunday afternoon this weekend. The stories coming from this little get together should be epic. I can't wait to hear what went on. What's that you say? You wonder why I write, "I can't wait to hear what went on"? Well, sad to say this, but I can not attend.

The family emergency I referenced a week ago precipitated my wife having to fly out to El Paso, Texas. That meant that to get the time off, she would have to work this weekend after getting back sometime today. So, I am watching the kids while all this goes on. Family first. For good or bad, that's the way I roll.

So, anyway, the situation has worked out. It's going to be okay for now and our lives will get back to normal, but the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo is out of the question for me right now. To all who worked so hard to get this going, I apologize for my absence, to all who went expecting I would be there, (if anybody actually did get excited about that, which to me would be amazing), I apologize. I am truly bummed that an event bourne out of my own twisted mind is now something I have to miss. Oh well.............

For Sale: I know this is the time that several "end of the season" deals are happening, but I saw a couple by some friends of mine that I wanted to point out to ya'all. First up, The Prairie Pedaler has a sweet deal on some wheels for 29"ers and some White Industries cranks. Hit the link for that and more.....

Secondly, Milltown Cycles is parting out a road bike with a complete SRAM Rival road group, some sweet tubular wheels, and other tidbits. Hit that link for more!

Then the shop I work at has a crazy cheap Raleigh XXIX and a SE Racing Stout marked down for quick sale. Hit that link to find those dealios.......

Finally, as always, Lacemine29 has some killer deals on some hoops and pedals. Check out the link and pester the man!

Don't get hold of me about any of this stuff! Hit the links. Make contact with the fine folks selling these goods, and buy yerself a bargain.

And while I am on the subject of bike shops.... I have been reading recently some commentary concerning mark ups, excessive profits, and lack of value in relation to bicycle companies, bike shops, and the like. All I have to say is, I don't know a single person in the bicycle industry that is pulling down the cash as huge as some of these inner-web dweebs claim. Certainly on the bike shop level, many of these same commenters would sputter and faint at the prospect of living on the wages that LBS owners do. (Not to mention the shop employees!)

The prospect of having direct to consumer sales on bicycles (Name with held, but we all know who I am referring to) as an industry wide practice is appealing to some of these folks. Let's think about that for a minute........

So we would have cycling goods at unbelievable prices. Great! (If that's all that matters) I'm betting that it wouldn't take long for folks to figure out that this would be a bad idea. A very bad idea. Lets about service? So you got a great price on that bike, or component, spent XX dollars on it, and it should have been XXX dollars, (more on that in a sec), so you don't want your "good deal" to get screwed up. Right? So......the LBS is out of business. Try finding a qualified mechanic that understands the tech and how to use the tools, and knows "that trick" that makes it all work so well together. Good luck!

Or how about this: A few years go by, and sure.....everyone is killing it on cheap deals, but all the bikes are the same, and only a few companies exist now. (Ya know, some folks are motivated by making money. Imagine that John Lennon!) Well, that's how it goes if all that matters is that you get over on "The Man".

Then after awhile, it wouldn't really matter would it? I mean, so what if you paid $50.00 for a $100.00 part. Everyone gets that price now, and the $100.00 price doesn't mean anything, because no one sells it for that much. Now all you have are generic brands, little choice, (because no one is motivated to sell for little to no profit) and zero support after the sale. Great!

Sounds like a world that fell apart called the U.S.S.R. to me.

And what of this company that I refer to? They surely are making a profit, no? Well, of course they are. However; they don't support you at ground zero, nor do they come around with company folks to check on how things are going, (big bike companies all do this), and they don't have a dealer network you can interface with on a human level. Besides this, their models change little year to year, they do not feature cutting edge technologies or materials, and they don't support cycling as a lifestyle, in racing, or at a grassroots level.

But then again, why would you care if you got a "great deal" on a bike, right?

There's a place for companies that cater only to price, but as with anything, there are so many layers of value that can't be directly measured that these companies simply can not, and will not provide for you. To each their own.

Have a great weekend and try to get out and ride......even if it is cold!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

That Could Have Been The Last.....

<====It might be awhile again before it's this nice out.

Not to rub it in, but I had yesterday off. (Score!) Things lined up weather-wise so that that will be the last nice day in awhile. Believe me- I took advantage of that fact!

I have just received the Rawland Cycles "Elgokse" stem/bar combo. "What the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks is that, you ask? Well, just think "modernized Bull Moose bars" and you'll get the gist of it. These are even done up in chrome too! Makes me feel like I am behind the wheel of a '53 Buick, it does! Got that chrome bumper look there. Anyway, I got these and I rode them yesterday.

<===A look from above.

The "Elgokse" (Norwegian for "moose") isn't a light weight either. I know the weight of the set up, but I ain't tellin'! Let's just say they are "phat", and leave it at that, mmmkay? I like that I can adjust the angle of the bar by loosening the two face plates and rotating the bar to get up sweep, a flat profile, or slight down sweep. Ya can't do that with your vintage Bull Moose!

It's interesting to note also that the Pofahl was supposed to have a custom "Bull Moose" type bar from the get-go, but the custom builder contracted to make them ignored me. (I ain't tellin' that name either!) Anyway, so I end up with the look I intended from Day One, so that was a nice deal.

The Pofahl is a single speed, and this bar rocks as a single speed bar. Stiff and wide! Rock the bike up a climb like a pro. You won't feel the bars give an inch. Nice! How wide? How about 700mm wide? Yeah........34mm wider than anything Surly makes. (But numbers don't mean anything, right? ha ha!) If you don't like them that wide, there are graduated marks on the Elgokse to make them narrower. I liked them at full width, so these won't be seeing the hack saw.

More later on the Elgokse, and also on the outlandish Antler Bar! (Wait'll you see this!)

The ride was great. I went on a "multi-terrain" ride through some streets, bike paths, dirt short cuts, and on back roads and single track. It was all good. I got two hours straight in on the Pofahl, then I ran an errand on my Raleigh Rainier rig to the Post Office and back. What a great day to be on the bike.

If you missed the great weather, I hope for your sakes and mine that there is an Indian Summer coming yet. I sure am not ready for "the gales of November to come early"! (Remember that one?)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Project Planning And Single Speed Sickness.

<====I only have one grody cog to give for this gnarly ride for sure man......
The single speed sickness is what I've got and it isn't going away. Nothing against gears, because I've got those bikes too, but I just have a predisposition for cranking on one gear. Don't really know why, but I have always felt comfortable just knowing I had to go with what I had on for a gear.
Take Interbike for example. I had been cruising around on geared wunderbikes at Bootleg Canyon for nearly two straight days until I got on board a nice steel single speed. I figured I'd be toast. You know, two days in the blistering heat, and wind, with little to eat. Well, I went over that demo loop probably better on that bike than I did all the others. I actually made that my last ride too. I knew it was a great way to cap off the demo rides.
But then there are times it gets me in trouble, like at the Good Life Gravel Adventure. Sure, I only had three hours sleep the night before when I drove for five hours to get there, but that didn't have anything to do with it, did it? Naw! It was the stinkin' single speed that made me tired and had me spontaneously falling asleep on 30mph downhills. Right? I mean, a geared rig would have taken less energy and I would have been fine. (Or so I like to think)
Meh.......okay! It probably was the lack of sleep then!
Whatever it was, I still like single speeds and by golly, I keep seeing more I would like to have. Like this Singular Gryphon. Psick! Psingle speed psick!
Winter Is Coming- That means it is Project Time! Well, it will for me, I hope. First and foremost, I have an old steel touring bike that will be getting refreshed. I have some parts lying about that will go on it, but basically I am not looking to set it up for touring per se'. I am looking to set it up with some fatter tires and use it as a gravel speeder. I mean, I could always hang the racks back on it and tour, but that isn't going to happen anytime soon, so I think I need to use this bike or lose it. I can't stand having it just hang there not being ridden. So look for bits on that to show up here in the future.
Oh yeah, I updated the News Section on the T.I.V6 site. Ya better go take a look at that if you are interested.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour- Day 8- A New Routine

"The Race Against Death Tour" is at a campground near Hill City, South Dakota....

With our campground set up, and plenty of day left, we set about doing some much needed laundry, taking showers, and then just kicking back. A bit of discussion was had about what to do at this point. we were not going anywhere down the road, and we didn't have enough money to stay at the campground the rest of the week. It wasn't that expensive, but it cost $20.00 a day, and that would have us tapped out in no time. Finally we decided to see about getting picked up. Ryan thought his Dad might be able to swing it, so he called him. Arrangements were made for us to be picked up in Hill City on Wednesday. Well, that left us the rest of Monday, and all of Tuesday to hang out.

This was going to be pretty different. After eight days of working our tails off, we were going to be basically doing next to nothing physically, or so it would seem. We all got into a game of hacky sack, and let the hours roll by for the remainder of the day. Laughing, joking around, and reminiscing about the past days was fun. Still, there was an air of sadness lingering as well. We knew it was over, and we really weren't quite ready for it to be.

Ryan went into another Ren and Stimpy bit right as two lovely young ladies were walking past our site. One of the lasses called out, "Is your friend all right?" Seeing that she was serious, Troy and I busted out laughing, and Ryan's face was about as red as it gets. That was how it was though for the most part. Ryan was the clown of the trip, and really was a great foil for Troy's aggressive and serious nature on the bike.

With a whole day at our disposal for Tuesday, we did a bit of research and found out we were only a few short miles from Sylvan Lake on the Needles Highway, which started not far from the exit to the campground. We also talked about checking out Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument. Maybe all of it in a day? We weren't sure, but we thought we would explore around anyway. No sense in sitting around all day long in a campground when you are so close to so many attractions, or so we were thinking.

At any rate, this day was over, and it was cooling off in a hurry with the suns setting. We made for the tent and had a wonderful nights sleep.

Next Week: Climbing Again!

Monday, October 05, 2009


<====Dramatic clouds hurrying along on the Northwesterly wind.

So after all the goings on of late, I was feeling a bit out of sorts. My wonderful wife saw that I needed to do something to clear out the cobwebs and get a reset of the mind. So, she graciously blocked out a chunk of Saturday for me to get out and ride a bit.

Seeing as how the dirt was soaked with the recent rains, it was a no brainer to hit the gravel. I took out the Pofahl but with a twist. I have just recently received a set of Elgokse stem/bars along with a Antler bar from Rawland Cycles. The Antler is basically a take off on a mustache bar. I didn't have enough Nokon housing to adapt the Antler to the Pofahl now, so for the time being, I ran the Elgokse as is. (By the way, elgokse is Norwegian for "moose". The stem/bar combo being a take off on the famous "Bull Moose" bars of yore.)

<===Self portrait. Happy Snappycap on cause it covers my ears! It was cold!

The difference from the ride this weekend to the week before was dramatic. Interbike was set in temps in the upper 90's to 100. Dry, windy, and dusty. Here I was riding in spitting rain, wind, and temps in the low 40's with a wind chill. A freaking wind chill! I had tights on and was wearing layers and the whole bit.

I better get used to it, eh?

I think my neighbor hit the nail on the head when he said, "It went from summer right into winter...." Well, maybe that's a bit extreme, but the change for me was a bit of a shock to the system.

<===The boondocks. A good place to get a reset of the mind, if you ask me.

And I'll get used to it soon enough, I suppose. Just to be able to ride at all is great. And the trails will dry out eventually.

So, the mind thing..........yeah. It helped to get out for a few hours. Nothing but me, the wind, and gravel. It was good.

Look for a report on the Elgokse and the Antler on Twenty Nine Inches soon. It's pretty cool. The perfect set up for the Pofahl, which was originally supposed to have a custom Bull Moose bar anyway. I'll be looking into some more Nokon housing now to string up for the Antlers. Stay tuned for that fun. Thanks Sean, Anna, and Ben! You guys are awesome!