Friday, April 30, 2010

Trans Iowa V6 Race Report: Seven Bikes- Eight People

As d.p. and I raced backwards on the course, we got a text message from Joe Meiser, "Who is still in?" I was in the process of tapping out my reply when the cell rang. It was Joe. He repeated his question. I knew his ruse right away.

<===John Gorilla with d.p. at the finish.

He was really saying, If anyone is still in the race, we're rolling. If not, we're done too. I told Joe besides he and Gorilla there were six people and five bikes still going. But..............we were calling the event.

"So, you're calling the event, right?", came Joe's reply. I confirmed that indeed we were. I asked him where they were at and Joe told me they were at the "EV Malt Shop" in North English. It was just after seven in the evening.

<===Corey, "Cornbread" Godfrey at the finish.

We took off now on blacktops to cut the time into North English. Our concern now was that riders may pass by the EV Malt Shop and that we would be left scrambling around in the dark tracking folks down. It was raining steadily now, and the winds were picking up more, just like the forcast we heard said that they would.

We got to North English about 7:30pm. Joe and John confirmed that they had not seen anyone else come up the street, which was on the route. We had made it in time! It was only 25 miles past Checkpoint#2, and Joe told us that it took he and John 2.5 hours to get there. Brutal!

<===Matt Braun was the only single speeder to get this far.

Joe mentioned that we would have to go to the convenience store to finish the event since the malt shop was about to close. However; the proprieter
overheard our conversations, and offered to stay open to allow us to get the riders off the road! We were floored by the offer, and gladly accepted.

Once we had all seven bikes and eight people off the road, d.p. and I got our wet, cold selves inside where we found that the owner had re-opened the kitchen and his help was serving food and hot chocolates to the weary riders! This was amazing!

<====Free hot chocolate re-fills anyone?

Not only that, but the riders were guided out back where the owner had hooked up a garden hose to hot water for the riders to de-mud themselves and their bikes with.

Iowa is an amazing place with amazing people!

I was floored by all of it and I thanked the owner several times. He was extremely humble and even offered to be open for a future Trans Iowa should we ever come around again! I don't think he quite understands that he may have more than eight people though! At any rate, it was a heartwarming scene and I was totally grateful to these kind folks at the EV Malt Shop in North English, Iowa.

<===Eric Brunt enjoys a recovery meal of ice cream, fries and hot chocolate at the EV Malt Shop.

By this time, several folks had arrived to assist in getting the riders back to Grinnell. Our Checkpoint#3 folks were there along with some others to help out. By about 8:45pm, we were heading back to Grinnell in a driving rain and wind that was sketchy on pavement. d.p. and I knew we had made the right decision and we were glad to have everyone safe and sound.

That was it for the most part. Trans Iowa V6 was in the books. It is always bittersweet to have this event end, and especially so with a shortened course. However; there was really nothing else for it. Riders we pulled were showing early signs of exposure, the roads were treacherous and would only grow worse. Navigating in the dark around our re-routes would prove to be a sketchy prospect, and we didn't want riders getting lost in that terrible weather. Besides, we thought we wouldn't make it! Driving on these roads was proving to be downright dangerous in its own right!

So we felt bad about it, but we also felt very, very relieved and we believed we were doing the right thing. In the end, riders we have had contact with confirmed this. It just is what it is. But we still had time left in the weekend and we knew what we were going to do. To the barn!

Next: The Post-Race Events.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Trans Iowa V6 Race Report: The Unravelling

As the afternoon wore on we were more concerned with the potential weather situation. d.p. and I knew that it was only a matter of time before too much rain would make the roads so bad that we would see riders missing cut offs. 

<===Ditch to Ditch mud hole on the way to Checkpoint #2

When we arrived back at Checkpoint#2 we saw all the volunteers and they had the tent set up, ready to go. This checkpoint closed at 5pm and on a normal day with normal roads, the lead group would have been there and gone by 2pm. Not today! It was closing in on 4pm and we hadn't seen anyone show up yet when d.p. and I decided to head out to do some re-routing. 

We knew we had to remove about 4 miles of B road to speed things up going into Checkpoint#3. The time allotment was originally longer for this section anyway due to the tough nature and amount of the B roads in that section. With the rain and road conditions we had, they would be a killer on time. Fortunately we had learned a thing or two putting on 5 previous Trans Iowas!

<===Making a Trans Iowa Radio post at Checkpoint#2: image by Kevin Wilson

d.p. and I left word with our volunteers to let folks coming through know to look for re-routes and then we bugged out. It wasn't long afterwards that we were caught in a downpour. It rained really hard! We found out later a lot of the riders were also caught in the same shower. We were extremely concerned, but it let up and quit, so we forged ahead. The roads actually were some of the best we had run across all day in the sector we had to re-route onto. We were encouraged for a time by this. The winds were picking up out of the East-Northeast though, and the feeling was ominous

Meanwhile we were getting word that something big was going on at Checkpoint#2. Meiser, Gorilla, and the rest of the chase group had arrived sometime after 4pm and were having a debate under the tent in What Cheer. It was raining pretty steadily there and the riders seemed to be considering dropping out of the race en-masse. That would have been an unprecedented event, and d.p. and I wondered at this news.
<===The debate at Checkpoint#2: image by Kevin Wilson.

Still, we had a job to do and we had to get going up the road. We had just completed the first re-route sector and we were re-fueling the Element while I made another Trans Iowa Radio update. Then it was off to the B road sectors closer to Checkpoint#3. We were in constant communication with volunteers from both Checkpoint #2 and #3 during this time and we were also getting reports on the weather from various sources. We were really busy!
The news wasn't very good either, on the weather front anyway. The winds were forcast to increase to 30mph with higher gusts and the rain was going to kick back in and stay all night. We were very concerned, and then it happened.

<===Charlie Farrow @ Checkpoint#2: image by Kevin Wilson.

Rain. No.......not just any rain. Rain of biblical proportions. We couldn't even see to drive and had to park the Element on the gravel and wait it out. The rain bounced up off the gravel in sheets it was hitting the ground so hard. It was amazing!  I looked at d.p. and asked if he really wanted to continue to drive in these conditions. He said no, of course. We had been fighting to stay on the road all day. Several times we were nearly stuck and a couple of other times we narrowly missed going into the ditch. It was harrowing in the daytime, we couldn't imagine doing it in the driving rain, with high winds, in the dark. No. We were ending the event. It was madness to keep going not only for us, but for the riders as well. We debated a couple of scenarios to end with, the d.p. advised that we should backtrack the course to see where the riders were. 

We had heard that the chase group had indeed dropped out of the event in What Cheer and were getting rides to Grinnell arranged for themselves. Gorilla and Meiser continued, of course. But then we heard something we were quite amazed by. A few riders that we thought had no chance of making the Checkpoint#2 cut off not only made it but rolled right on through and were still on the road! We had eight riders and seven bikes to worry about now. 

Next: Eight Riders- Seven Bikes


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Trans Iowa V6 Race Report: A Ray Of Sunshine

Hope rises in the morning, they say, and we certainly were feeling more hopeful as we saw the leaders come into Checkpoint#1. They were later than we imagined. The rain and B Road really put a dent into the their progress and time left was slim. d.p. and I knew that there would be many that wouldn't make the cut off.

That said, the sun was out, the winds had died down somewhat, and it looked as though it might allow for the roads to firm up later on in the day. We stuck around for a bit after the leaders took off and then we set out to chase them down and continue our check on the roads and directions.

Here is the lead group on their way out of Checkpoint#1. (Click on the pic) Notice the tire tracks? Yeah........soft, soupy, and like peanut butter.  d.p, and I could see that this was going to be a really tough Trans Iowa.

We passed the leaders and then we were on to the western reaches of the course. The hills were many, the roads were really soft and bad here, and the views........incredible. There is something about a rain washed sky, wet landscape, and springtime that is really beautiful. But, I doubt the racers were looking longingly at the bucolic countryside of Iowa. Something told me that there was a lot of grinding of teeth about now.

The roads were so bad that we were wondering in some spots how to negotiate the mud holes that had developed from the mutitudinous dust holes we saw here just weeks ago. The Element pitched, swayed, and spat mud high into the air. At one point I remarked that if we continued to have spring road conditions in Iowa like this, we should promote a rally car race! It would be epic.

Well, we weren't doing a rally car race, although it felt like it at times. We were checking out roads and trying to gather information. We were getting DNF calls and texts. I knew we would, but when Checkpoint#1 volunteers told us 30 riders failed to make the cut off, I was a bit stunned. The gravity of how tough this event was this time settled in, and d.p. and I knew that another blow from "Mother Nature" would knock Trans Iowa down for the count this time. The event was teetering on the edge of collapse, and only a respite from clouds and rain were going to salvage something from what we had to deal with. Of course, we had dealt with bad situations before, so we soldiered on content in knowing we had experiences to draw from that would perhaps be valuable once again. It didn't help the bad feeling in the pit of my gut that had been there for hours though!

<====Jeremy Fry and Joe Mann refueling at Pella.

We raced ahead all the way to Checkpoint#2 and confirmed that almost all the sections we had chosen were doable. We only needed to re-route around one really bad B Road just outside of Pella Iowa that was an all clay mire which would be a bit treacherous to walk due to the grade of the road. We marked it off on the way out to Checkpoint #2, but we had thought we should get back to man the corner where the re-route started to make sure the riders saw the flagging.

As we approached the corner, we saw the chase group just behind Meiser and Gorilla taking the "wrong turn", only they didn't know it. We chased them down and set them straight. Whew! Now what about Meiser and Gorilla? Well, we saw the tell tale footprints in the mud, indicating that we were too late. We found out later that by the time we saw those footprints they were already gone down the road.

<===Jay and Tracey Petervary's "Love Shack"

Afterwards, d.p, and I went to Pella to find any riders we thought would make the cut off at Checkpoint #2 and warn them of the re-route. When we saw that time was running out on the riders coming into town yet, we high tailed it back to Checkpoint#2 to watch what might happen with the event. By this time the clouds were building back in, and I think we both knew it was a matter of time before the skies unleashed their fury on the hills and dales of Iowa's countryside again. By 2:00pm we were getting into some drizzly showers. Hope against hope, we waited to see what we would be dealing with, and how far the riders would get before the inevitable happened.

Next: The Unravelling

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Trans Iowa V6 Race Report: The Start And The Beginning Of The End

I probably slept better than I had before any Trans Iowa, but that isn't saying that I got a great nights rest either! Any way you slice it, 2:30am is pretty early.

d.p. and I along with Daryl Pals and Mark Pals made our way down to the start area in front of Bikes To You. On the way down, we saw Steve Fuller riding to the start with a heavy bag he was carting down for another racer. We stopped and offered to carry it for him, which he gladly let us do. Then we were off again. When we arrived at a little after 3:00 am there were bikers there already! Guess some people are like d.p. and I and can't sleep well before a Trans Iowa, eh? At any rate, we were able to spend some time with those who were hanging out before the start.

Craig Cooper of Bikes To You and Rob Versteegh of Oakley spent the night in the bike shop's trailer and after everyone got down there Craig fired up the generator and we had great lighting at the start area which was really nice. (Thanks Craig!!) Bikes To You also allowed us to use some pop up tents for our checkpoints which turned out to be a really good thing!

Well, it wasn't long before we had everyone down there and ready to go. I had to have everyone sign the waiver at the last minute, which was unplanned because I had originally wanted that done at the Pre-Race, but I had forgotten about it! (Whoops!) That put us about three minutes in arrears on time, but it wouldn't matter in the end. While everyone was trying to sign on, I had a bit of a warning to the racers about the downhills. After I finished, Odia, the wife of Salsa Cycles Tim Krueger, said that I sounded like a father leaving his sons in charge of the house for the weekend. Ha! I resemble that remark too!

Well, once d.p. hit the horn on the Element we were off. The roll out was longish, due to the fact we were in the heart of Grinnell and had to get the riders to the first gravel road before we pulled off.

Once we did, the lights and commotion of the start were replaced by the tomb-like darkness and a thick blanket of fog. We could only see what the headlights illuminated, otherwise we were bouncing down the road in solitude and silence.

The roads were pretty sticky and gooey for the first miles. Worse than we had seen the night before. d.p. reckoned that a lot of riders had torn the beginning sector up reconning it after the pre-race. It looked to be true, as after a few miles the roads got a bit better. That was soon forgotten though when we started seeing flashes of light. Trying to believe it was just micro-wave towers went out the window when we saw an obvious big flash which couldn't be mistaken for anything other than lightning. The worry level went way up!

Then after waiting on an overpass for any signs of the leaders, we took off and found a car parked backwards on the course with a bike rack on it. uh-huh.......hmmmm..... Then a text comes on my phone from Paul Jacobson, " that was me". So that turned out to be our pair of "eyes" to watch for the leaders. Paul texted not long after when they came by him. They were doing close to an 18mph average over the first 20 hilly, gooey miles. Amazing!

It wouldn't last though. The rain unleashed its fury upon the course with strong, amazing blasts of lightning all around, but not on the course. It was getting pretty close to shutting us down though, and as we crawled along some discussion was had to what we would do about ending the event. About that time we noticed that the fog disappeared. Shreds of blue sky could be seen coming our way, and the rain was stopping. Maybe we would get this event in after all!

But the damage had been done. We were told that the thunderstorms had dumped up to an inch of rain in that short time. Water was standing on the roads, and of course, the B Maintenance roads would be unrideable.

<===image by Steve Fuller.

T.I. vets knew not to even try and ride these sections, but others not so well versed ended up with a real time sucking situation on their hands. Unfortunately, fully over a half of the field was wiped out before Checkpoint #1  due to the conditions which prevented them from making the 8am time cut. So it was that the event started to take on the look of T.I.V2. Would anyone make Checkpoint#2? Would the weather improve enough for the riders to make up time? These were the questions on our minds as we drove off on into the section between Checkpoint"1 and Checkpoint#2.

Next: A Ray Of Sunshine

Monday, April 26, 2010

Trans Iowa V6 Race Report: Pre-Race Meat-Up

Getting There: The story of Trans Iowa V6 started off with a drive in the "Truck Without A Name" to Grinnell in the rain. I was doing okay, blasting some tunes, when a van tried to pass me and then slip between myself and the feed truck/semi in front of me at 60mph. Yeah, they about put me in the ditch! Nice!

<===Pre-race scene: image by Kevin Wilson

Well, without further trauma I got there and when I pulled into town, d.p. called me and we met in Bikes To You in Grinnell's downtown area. We hung out and talked to Coop, the owner, and then we hit up some grub. Finally we decided to go to the motel and get our room. There we met Kevin Wilson who has a bicycle consulting business, and we all chatted for a bit.

We three then went out and checked on a bridge over I-80 that was in question. It turned out that it was not a bridge, but an underpass and it was fine. After purchasing a new rain jacket back in town at Bikes To You, it was on to getting set up for the Pre-Race Meat-Up. The volunteers were great and we had more help than we needed. Things were going smoothly, really.

The gig was at The Grinnell Steakhouse which was an awesome place. Very nice inside, with our own room which was quite perfect and the service was incredible. Everyone was to "grill yer own" vittles which was a great way for the racers to meet each other.

<====Kill it and Grill it! : image by Ryan Carlson

The meeting was fun and went well. Afterwards we hit the motel and got some short but sweet shut eye.
Much of the talk was about the weather, of course, and we felt sure that with forecasts calling for minimal amounts of rain on Saturday that we'd be okay. As we left the Meat-Up, we noticed that the air temperature was rather warm for that time of year, and there was much fog, even with a stiff breeze. Something felt odd about all this, but at the time, we were more concerned with rest.

Tomorrow: The Start and The Beginning Of The End.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"Mother Nature Wins!"

It's all over. Trans Iowa V6 was epic, crazy, and a total blast from beginning to weather shortened end. I'll have detailed reports coming in the following days, but for now, here are the folks that were still running when we made the cut off at North English, Iowa:

Joe Meiser
John Gorilla
Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey
Matt Braun
Eric Brunt
Jay & Tracey Petervary
Charles Parsons

Congratulations to these riders and all who gutted out even one mile on this crazy, wet, wind blown event this time. Unfortunately, the conditions worsened on Saturday evening to the point that d.p. andI felt it was best for everyone's safety to get off the roads. I'll check in tomorrow with my first report on the event.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

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Friday, April 23, 2010

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Trans Iowa V6: Pre-Race

Today will begin my series of reports to be found here on Trans Iowa V6. Today is the staging day. I will be loading up the "Truck Without A Name" and then driving to meet d.p. in Grinnell for some last minute prep before the big shindig at The Grinnell Steakhouse where we will be reuniting with many old friends and meeting a few others for the first time.

This is always the funnest part of the event, in many ways. We all look forward to this "excuse" to get together, hang out briefly, and pedal some bicycles for a really long time the next day or two. The pre-race is really too short, in many ways, but it is what it is. You can always sense the cameraderie, the nervousness, and the excitement in the air at these gatherings. It's just the tip of the iceberg though.

For those who wonder, I usually get up and say a few words, then we "call up" each racer individually, hand them their race packet, and then most will rush out of the room to peel out the first cues and look at their maps to see where we are headed. Then they look at the weather for the umpteenth millionth time, futz with their equipment, and second guess their set ups until it is time for lights out.

The alarm always comes too early to signal that your fitful nights "sleep", (if it can be called that), is over and it is time to suit up and toe the line. Then you see them coming. A few at first, then by bunches. Blinking lights, red and white. Twinkling off in the distance as they stream towards the start line. Some will be dropped off by car, no doubt, especially this year if it is raining. Then I will call for them to line up behind the truck. I'll give them some last minute "blessings", toot my horn at 4am sharp, and d.p. and I will lead out the throng of riders to the first gravel road sector.

That's a spectacle that few ever get to see, but is well worth it. One of my favorite parts of Trans Iowa.

That's it in a nutshell. Everything that leads up to the start of Trans Iowa V6.  For updates on what I see out there, you might check into Twitter @ guitated1961, or search for Tweets with the #tiv6 tag. There probably won't be any audio-blogging since all the free sites are defunct. So if you were looking for me to do that, I won't be. Sorry! If you are racing in Trans Iowa, we encourage you to Tweet up your experiences and to hash tag the messages you Tweet with #tiv6 . It'll be fun, and a great way for folks to follow along from several vantage points.

Otherwise ya'all will have to wait patiently until Sunday night for a very brief report, or be lucky enough to be hanging out at The Barn where occaisional feeds will be phoned in to the folks there.

See ya on the other side!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

One More Day!

Okay, the e-mail has been flying back and forth. The workers are working, and the bits are coming into place for T.I.V6 .

Here are a few more thoughts from my wearied brain.........

As I have mentioned, there will be a barn where the event will host the finish line, the awards, and also will play host to support folks Saturday evening through to the end. It will be where we are phoning in updates, and this will be the only source of info during the event. Okay, just to let you know, the place will be warm, dry, and it has electricity, but................. IT IS A BARN. Basically it has wooden walls and a concrete floor with a ton of open space.

This means you will need to bring chairs to sit in, if you plan on hanging out. There will be refreshments and munchies, but you can bring whatcha want to eat and drink. There will be a campfire, (weather permitting), and some other fun. Bring a guitar. Sing dirges in the dark. Wonder at the spectacle that is Trans Iowa!
Finally, the barn has NO RESTROOM. The Jacb Krumm Nature Preserve, just about a quarter mile away, where you will be parking your cars, does have a restroom that will be unlocked and at our disposal. By the way, the road to the barn may not be driveable if it is wet, so please do not attempt to park near the barn.

There will be instructions on how to get there in each racers packet that will be distributed at the Pre-Race Meat-Up.


Weather Update: Some folks are crying, "Remember T.I.V2!!" already. The rain factor has them freaked out through and through.'s the deal: That year it rained for several days prior to the event. It didn't rain the day before, but the rains had done the damage already. Today is Thursday. It hasn't rained on the course yet. It isn't supposed to rain on the course until Friday, and it really needs to be rained on!! We've been on it, and the extent of the dust holes is unimaginable until you've seen them. Rain could pack it down. Saturday is forcast to be hit and miss thunder showers. Saturday night the rain chances increase a bit. How fast you go will determine much of your success or lack thereof. One good thing: The winds are forecast to be less than previously thought.
Okay, that's all for today. A final word before I go to T.I.V6 will be on tap for tomorrow...........

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Trans Iowa V6: Mid-Week Update: Final

Lots of important things to cover today so please pay attention.

Dining Dollars/Welcome Bag: Sheryl Parmley of the Grinnell Chamber Of Commerce told me today that your racer welcome bag is already at the Comfort Inn And Suites in Grinnell. Amongst the information in the packet, you will find an envelope. Note! This is your Dining Dollar certificates!  The Chamber has allotted some of their tourism budget to subsidize your meals while you stay in Grinnell. Two ten dollar certificates are within the envelope. You can use the Dining Dollars at The Grinnell Steakhouse, or any other member of the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce that sells food. Note: These are also for support people and volunteers.

IMPORTANT!! YOU MUST PICK UP THE WELCOME BAG YOURSELF!! We will not be bringing the bags with us to the Meat-Up. You forget, you pay up full price for your meal. Make sure you get the bag at The Comfort Inn and Suites front desk BEFORE you come to the Meat-Up.

Thank You!! Thanks to all who promptly answered my 11th hour question about what you wanted to eat. I appreciated the prompt responses, (from most of you!!)

Cue Sheets: d.p. has feverishly been working, hunched over some micro-sized print on maps, trying to make the cues make sense. A dizzying job of tediousness of the highest order. He has gotten the first draft to me, and I have sent back my suggestions/corrections already. The final major hurdle is almost cleared. What a relief that is!!

Weather And A Word On The Course: Okay, this has been on everyone's minds of late. Rain and wind look to be bearing down on this weekend, just in time for T.I.V6. Here are the factors going in and how poor weather may or may not affect the course.

Roads are dry. REALLY dry! The course has seen no appreciable rain for weeks. The roads really could benefit from some precipitation that would settle the dust and perhaps help to make the dusty holes that have cropped up set up into something less like a sand dune. Rain is forecast to hit on Friday. This looks to be the day that could have the heaviest amounts of precipitation, but it sounds as though it may come in as a hit or miss thing. Saturday and early Sunday look to have a much lesser chance for rain, with only showers on tap both days, and low amounts of total precip are expected. Friday will be the wild card then. As of now, it looks as though close to an inch may fall "if" it falls on course.

The real kicker is going to be the wind, which is forecast to be out of the Southeast to begin with and then turn Northeasterly at the end of Saturday night into Sunday. The winds are expected to be in the 14-20mph range with gusts up to 35mph. Rain may make things difficult, but to my mind, the wind will be what turns out to be the beast that everyone must face this year.

Course re-routes will be a consideration around some B Roads. We do have options to avoid some of them, but not all of them, and we will make on the fly determinations based upon current conditions and with consideration of how the riders are progressing on course. But here is one truth about T.I.V6: You will have to traverse a B Road. It might be unrideable. There may be no ditch to ride in, (most likely not). Be prepared for the worst. In fact, we may not take out any B roads at all! Even if it does rain.

Be Careful! Be Smart! The course we have laid out will have some speedy, fast descents right out of the box. It will be dark. People may be nervous to be up front, or in packs to avoid wind/weather. The roads are not the greatest and with the descents in the dark, it will make for a potentially dangerous situation. Be smart! Don't take unnecesary chances at mile 15 that will end your race. (Like what happened to a guy in T.I.V3)

Be At The Pre-Race Meat-Up On Time! Doors open to our meeting space at 5:00pm Friday and the meeting starts at 6:00pm!! You can't start unless you come to the meeting on time.

Be At The Start On Time! We Start At 4am sharp in front of Bikes To You in downtown Grinnell!!

Can't Come? E-mail me and let me know ASAP! It will save d.p. and I a lot of pre-race effort.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Going To The Show

The recently completed Sea Otter expo and cycling races reminded me of the Big Show and the first time I went......

Being in the cycling industry, or working at a shop back in the 90's meant that the biggest, most sought after "ticket" was the chance to go to Interbike. I had heard about Interbike, read the stories, and knew about the "schwag" to be had by simply walking into the showroom floor. So it was with great excitement and intrepidation that I learned that I was going to my first Interbike at Anaheim, California in 1995.

Intrepidation was a big feeling for me then not only because I hadn't been to a show before, but also because I had never flown anywhere in an airplane before. I wasn't to keen on that aspect of the trip at all! Tom made all the arrangements, and then all I had to do was show up, which was weird, but nice. Heck, I wouldn't have known what to do anyway! One thing is for sure, flying was a whole lot less of a hassle back then!

So, we had to fly out of Cedar Rapids to Minneapolis and then on a straight shot to Anaheim and John Wayne International Airport. Well, we were detained on the runway in the Twin Cities for awhile. The pilot was worried they would close JWI before we got there, as we would be pressing up against their 11pm shutdown time. Well, we made it, barely! I was petrified the whole way, not able to take my grip off my arm rests for the entire 3.5 hour flight. When we finally got to our little hotel room, Tom ran up to a nearby liquor store and got me a 12 pack, which I drained in record time. I was so nervous, I still wasn't drunk, and I couldn't get to sleep until 4am in the morning!

Well, the show was fantastic. I got to see all the latest and greatest stuff, which was amazing. Back then there was no internet coverage, no "instant" access to images or stories. Everything I was seeing and hearing would be "insider info" for at least the next two months, as that was about how long it took for the magazines to get their coverage to print. I felt really priveledged to have been there. It really made the trip special for me, and I am sure for others. Interbike has certainly lost that aspect!

The Anaheim Convention Center was a sprawling complex of several buildings that seemed to go on forever. The big booths and set ups were cool, but my favorite part was the basement where all the weird, marginal, and up and comers were relegated to show their wares. The vendors down there were creative and the weirdness was fun and off the charts. Really nothing that made much of a dent in reality, with a few exceptions, but it was like cycling's version of a circus side show. You knew it was a trainwreck of an idea that was being shown, but you couldn't help but look.

Next Week: I'll be taking the week off next week to use Tuesday for T.I.V6 wrap up. Come back in a couple weeks for some more stories on the Anaheim Interbike of 1995.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Trail Time

This past weekend started out poorly, I'll tell you that, but then it got better, and better, and then it turned out pretty dang good!

I was supposed to go ride at The Camp for a trail work day and for testing purposes. I loaded up two bikes, gear, and headed out. I drove all the way there, parked the Truck With No Name, and reached for my.........ahhh! No helmet!

So, I had to drive all the way home and with limited time on my hands, I decided I couldn't afford another round trip to the Camp. So I headed to Ullrich Park.

Now back in the day, Ullrich had zero trails. None! So Jeff Kerkove and I decided to do something about that back when he and I wrenched together at the shop. We were joined by a couple of local riders and we opened up a small, technical trail system in there. Well, with the benefit of about 8 years of running all around the U.S.A. and checking out some very well thought out and very well built trails, I think I can say with some authority that Ullrich Park's trails are terrible! Really. They are super poorly laid out. I was just looking around there and I could totally see how we screwed that up in there. Hopefully someday that will get rectified, but it would mean scrapping about everything out there and starting from ground zero. Besides this, it was muddy there!

So with this bummer on my mind I left there and headed to Geo Wyth State Park. It was okay for the most part. At least I got some decent riding in for the testing I needed to finish up. I also spied a few cool routes that could be implemented in there, but that isn't going to happen anytime soon! It's just hard to have ridden on excellently designed trails and then not look at your own backyard and think, "This could be soooo much better!"

Well, that was followed up by some excellent Sea Otter work by my buddy Grannygear for the site, which kept me pounding out the keyboard for hours last Saturday evening. Sunday was started by an excellent time with my family, church, and then I got another great test session in. So now things seem to be catching up in that regard, and T.I.V6 is the next big hurdle for me to leap over.

And it looks like it will be a wet one! Does anybody wish T.I.V6 woulda been this past weekend?  I bet some of you do!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trans Iowa Thoughts: The Countdown! 1!

<===Better have a good bail out plan or you might become an an indentured servant on an Iowa pig farm!

Your Fair Warning!! Okay folks, one more nail biting week until Trans Iowa V6! We're excited to get this underway, but I have a few admonishments to make, which will be reiterated at the Pre-Race Meat-Up, just to make sure.

The nature of the course we use now is a "big assed loop", as Jeff Kerkove put it once a few years back. Due to the nature of how things lay out, you folks will be getting in deeper and deeper as you progress from one checkpoint to another this time around. This comes into play as you consider your bail out options. Especially if you were silly enough to come without a support person. I know a lot of you are planning to do this solo, so here's what you need to put into your "thinkrerer".

Further and Further From Home: The nature of this loop leads you further and further away from Grinnell as you progress into the event. It really is a big loop without a good bail out option for solo riders the further you get into this. In fact, you won't start back towards Grinnell until you are truly about half way into the mileage. Think about that for a minute: You are 150 miles into T.I.V6 and you are cooked and have no support person? That's going to be a long trek back to Grinnell over hilly roads no matter how you slice it. Maybe you are willing to deal with that, but trust me, it won't be very easy. What's more, the furthest point out comes after Checkpoint #2. So keep that in mind as well.

Nobody Knows, So Don't Ask! In an effort to squelch the outside support I observed and heard about last year, We have set up my checkpoint volunteers so that Checkpoint #1 folks do not know where Checkpoint #2 is, Checkpoint #2 people do not know where Checkpoint #3 is, and therefore, they can not tell anyone where the riders are going to next. This shouldn't be any problem at all except for control freaks. Here's the deal. Checkpoint people are not going to tell you anything about the course because they won't know. If you feel, as a support person, family member, or racer that you need to know, prepare to have your ducks in a row, because we will not be letting this info out unless it is for a dang good reason. (Most of the time, it isn't necessary at all, so you probably shouldn't bother)

This is why we have set up the Barn. You go there for your updates. We will be phoning in all pertinent data to our finishline volunteers there who will disseminate the info to all of you. We won't be putting out audio updates this year. This was totally misinterpreted as a "lifeline of personal info" on all race participants, which I never intended it to be, said several times that it never was intended to be that, but was consistently viewed as such dispite all of that. It was made to be a big pain in my arse every year I did it, and last year was the worst. If I ever do it again, I won't even tell anyone, but I probably won't do it. Again, hang out at The Barn. Have a good time, and find out what you "need to know". That's all I have to say about that.

What if your guy/gal DNF's? Well, first off, they better have a cell phone and they better call you with it. Their cue sheets will lead you to them, and if that is an issue, we will be available to answer any questions for riders DNF'ing, (they are to report to us anyway), and we can decipher exactly how you should proceed to extricate them from the course from a directions point of view if necessary. But the bottom line is as always: You are responsible for You. We are not going to bail you out, come get you, or bring you aid. You are on your own excursion and are taking part in T.I.V6 at your own risk.

That's why you'd better be taking this whole bail out option plan seriously. If you come alone, you are putting yourself at a great disadvantage should you need to DNF. Think about that for a minute.

The Weather: The wildcard of the event. Right now they are predicting that a big storm is to hit California at the beginning of the week which will progress across the country and end up here by, yep! You guessed it! Saturday morning. Saturday the winds are forecast to be gusty from the Southeast, continue that way into the evening, and then switch out of the Southwest by Sunday morning. Rain chances increase as the event continues. Hours of rain Saturday = 2 hours, Saturday night = 5hrs, and Sunday = 5hrs.

Of course, that's a week out and this can/will all change. For better or worse, I don't know at this point, but if this comes true, Trans Iowa V6 will go down as epic beyond words. Would anyone even finish? That's definitely a possibility with that forecast, and if we were to get a crazy thunderstorm, it would shut us down. Here is the skinny on bad weather straight from the T.I. site for your reference;

Weather Related Stoppage and Time Cut Off Rule: In case of severe weather during the event, we will do the folowing things so you can act accordingly. Remember: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF!! If the sky is falling, or you see Dorothy's house go spinning by your head, you should take appropriate actions to protect yourself. We will not be responsible for ill advised heroics in inclement weather. Be smart, or be pig fodder! This is only given out so that you as an event participant will know what our actions will be in regards to keeping tabs on your progress and what will be done with prizing.

Weather related cancellation of the event will be enforced at the checkpoints. All participants will be directed as to where and when any prizing will be distributed at checkpoints by our volunteers. If you pull out before a checkpoint, you will need to contact the Event Director to find out if the event is being terminated. Results will not be tabulated if we have to stop the event. If cut off times to a checkpoint are not met by any event participant then the event will be terminated and all will be considered as DNF's.

Prizing will be distributed by raffle to the remaining participants in the event at the time of stoppage or when it becomes clear that the cut off times will not be met. Must be present to win. Decisions of the event directors is final.
So in the case of this Trans Iowa, we would most likely repair to The Barn, distribute some goodies, and party. Now you know.
See ya in a week. Look for another update on Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

And You Are Doing This Bike Because.....?

Sea Otter is here and that brings all sorts of cool product introductions to the fore. I had heard rumors of a Yeti 29"er early in the year, and I had the rumor confirmed shortly after. So I started digging into it to find out just what was going on.

<==Image from Singletrack World.

Well, come to find out that the powers that be at Yeti were not very fond, (putting it mildly) of 29"ers and said, "..we'd rather close the company down.." than make a 29"er. (The quote may have been slightly different, but the meaning of it was clear.) So, what gives?

Yeti is "officially" unveiling this rig today, so expect a good "spin" on the whole deal from the top brass at Yeti. However, this sort of statement about "never making a 29"er" isn't going to go away easily. Especially when the name of the bike is "Big Top", which Singletrack World's Chipps Chippendale picked up on as he mused, "..perhaps a reference to clown bikes, perhaps not.." I'm thinking Chipps is on to something there.

If Chipps is right, and when taken in context of Yeti's distaste of 29"ers previously, you have to think he is, then one might wonder "Why?" And secondly, "What did you do to make it worthwhile to us/you to make one?"

It is a hardtail, may have convertible drop outs for single speed conversion, and has a carbon fiber rear triangle in the classic Yeti loop stay style. Of course, it is a Yeti, so there is that cache' that it has going for it. That said, I think it is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things 29"er. (If one can say that 29"ers are "grand" at all) It just seems to be a bit disingenuous and, well.......a bit of a strange marketing ploy, considering the model name and all.

Of course, Yeti is not the first company to say that they would "never make a 29"er". That distinction was squarely the realm of Specialized bikes for several years. However, Specialized softened their tone, then came news that they were exploring the possibilities of a 29"er, and finally they announced they would be doing a few, ironically enough by introducing them at Sea Otter a few years ago. Specialized then backed it up by bringing something different, (at the time), and became fans of the genre afterwards.

Okay, so you can forgive them maybe for their initial skepticism, and when taken into context, Specialized had grounds for being skeptical in 2005. But this is Yeti, and it is 2010. A lot has changed in five years, and Yeti isn't Specialized and doesn't have ignorance or lack of technical advancements to fall back on as an alibi like Specialized did back then. Maybe this will all blow over and be no big deal in the end, (likely), but I find it very strange that any company that makes such an anti-29"er stand, as Yeti has, would then turn tail and make a 29"er anyway. At the very least, it is plain goofy.

More Sea Otter Weirdness: I just wrote a peice on Trek making a 29"er someday and then this thing shows up at Sea Otter.........

<===Something doesn't "add up" here.....

Notice the head badge? Yeah........if you are going to do a good fake, you need to get the details correct. What is worse, the headtube badge is put on with an adhesive backing, so it isn't hard at all to take it off.

Nice try, but...........

Finally, I am not a "schooled journalist", so I don't often know or follow certain practices that the "elite media" follow. Things like not asking questions when the marketing guy asks for questions, for instance. Or like the time I was at a Trek Press Camp, and Tim Grahl and I were posting things up in real time with computers and cameras blazing while the "elite media" types sat around looking down their noses at us. Too funny!

So it is from this perspective that I found the following kind of interesting. Shimano releases information and images to the bigger media outlets for upcoming products with the stipulation that the information can not be released to the public until a certain date and time has been reached. This used to be not a problem before blogs and social media.

Now some media are getting twitchy trigger fingers. For instance, the latest Shimano information release is scheduled for today. 10 speed XT and SLX. Well, the aforementioned Singletrack World has had the info up since yesterday, with the post dated 4/16/10. However; the photos with the post are all dated 4/15/10. Whoops! Those pesky details again. I suppose they could say "Hey, it was 4/16/10 somewhere when we posted that Thursday night!"  Funny stuff there. They weren't the only ones to have it up a day early though. It also was posted on a couple of other sites I found, but the photos were not dated and the evidence not so blatant as on Singletrack World.

With that I bid you a good weekend and miles of smiles on your bicycles.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not Feeling It

Wednesday. Testing day for Twenty Nine Inches stuff. The day I usually go to The Camp and wring out the equipment while getting in a fun ride.

The day was beautiful. Hot even. The sky was clear and the signs of Spring were everywhere to be seen.

But I just wasn't feeling it.

<===Big wheels, big tires.

No snap, no life in the legs at all today, and I am pretty sure I know exactly the reason why that was.


I had a rough start to the week with the situation my family was in, trying to secure a second car for our immediate needs. Sure, The Truck With No Name was running great, but being a standard cab rig, it doesn't seat four. So, we were needing a car and that was stressing out everyone. Then there is Trans Iowa V6, which imparts its own stresses at this time of year anyway. Add in a slew of work on the web side of things and was all just a bit too much.

The car thing got worked out in a whirlwind yesterday, which was basically the climax of the whole stressful deal. I think today my body just wanted to rest. But I had more work to do, and the lawn desperately needed mowing for the first time this year.

<===The Big Mama back where it belongs.

Oh well. I'll be taking it kind of easy today and tomorrow. Good thing I decided not to go to Sea Otter! Man! I think I would have blown up.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trans Iowa V6: Mid-Week Update

<===Everybody gets a sticker!

This is the first of two Trans Iowa V6 Mid-Week updates I am doing to keep everyone up to date on what is going on with the last minute prep for this event. Waiting for Saturday and the usual update doesn't cut it anymore as there is information here that is vital to your preparations. You need this info now!

Pre-Race Meat-Up Details: This is the latest on the mandatory meeting for Trans Iowa V6 which will take place on April 23rd at the Grinnell Steakhouse, 2110 West Street, South. Their phone number is 641-236-0555. Here are the times for your consideration:

5:00pm: Arrival time at the Grinnell Steakhouse. Check in with Guitar Ted, make sure you get a raffle ticket, and make sure your name is ticked off on the call up sheet. Very Important! If you are not checked in, you won't get called up, and you won't recieve your race packet with the cue sheets. Meet and greet your fellow competitors. Beer will be available for purchase. (Must be 21 years of age or older) Begin eating as soon as you get there if you would like.

6:00pm Sharp!! Meeting starts over dinner. Once the meeting starts no one else will be allowed entry to the roster. Don't be late or you will not be in Trans Iowa! I will greet everyone and make some acknowledgements. I will give you the final words on the course, any "heads up" things to be aware of, and answer any questions from you racers. There will also be some items raffled off at this time.

6:45-7:00pm: Sometime in this slot I will begin the "Call Up". You will sign a waiver, pick up your race packets, and be free to leave at this point.

7:00pm - 7:30pm: We will clear out our stuff and allow the Grinnell Steakhouse folks to clean up. Note: The Steakhouse is open until 9:00pm if you want to hang out there longer.

Here are your menu items for the Meat-Up:

"Grill Your Own" Beef - $15.99 and Chicken or Pork - $13.99.
Veggie Kabobs - $10.99
Salad Bar also available upon request.

This will allow you to bump elbows with your fellow riders as you grill yer own critter to eat, or singe yer own veggies. We thought it'd be fun anyway!

Remember to pick up your Dining Dollars at the Comfort Inn and Suites before you come to the meeting!

A Note On Prizing: Yeah, we have some prizes, but they are neither bling-bling or going to help you find a mate. If you are looking to get rich by winning this event, I am sorry, but you better look elsewhere. Some prizing will be given to the top finishers in these 3 fields...

Open Men

Open Women

Open Singlespeed / Fixed Gear

Plus, there may be some Special Prizing given at the discretion of the Event Directors and Sponsors. 

That said, you can expect prizing "packages" which are assembled at the discretion of the Event Directors which will include Oakley eyewear custom engraved for Trans Iowa, Ergon product including a back pack and grips, Twin Six jerseys, t-shirts, and socks, and some other "as yet to be determined" prizes to the top finishers.

There will be some Special Prizing as follows:

Salsa Frame/Tubus Rack: Salsa Cycles has offered a frame to one of the finishers of Trans Iowa, (Note: Not one of the top category finishers), that the Event Directors shall choose at random to have their choice of either a Fargo or Vaya frame. (Winner will recieve the correct frame size by dealing with Salsa Cycles directly after the event). Along with this, Wilson Cycles is offering a Tubus Rack to go along with your frame of choice.

Oakley "Lanterne Rouge" Prize: We thought it would be fun to honor the guy or gal that gutted it out to finish T.I.V6, even though they were in last place. Oakley thought so too. They are offering a special red pair of eyewear to the last place finisher that comes in within the time limits at this year's Trans Iowa.

Special Raffles: We will be doling out some special prizes at the Pre-Race Meat-Up and after the event from Trek, Bontrager, Twin Six, Banjo Brothers, Hiawatha Cyclery, and more.

And everyone gets something.... Every racer that gets to the Pre-Race Meat-Up in time gets a race packet with a Velocity water bottle cage, a Simple Strap by ByKyle, and stickers, buttons, and more!

The Numbers! Here are your mileage breakdowns for T.I.V6:
Grinnell to Checkpoint #1:            44.25 miles       Cut Off Time: 8am
Checkpoint #1 to Checkpoint #2: 87.2 miles         Cut Off Time: 5pm
Checkpoint #2 to Checkpoint #3: 75.8 miles         Cut Off Time: 1am (Sunday)
Checkpoint #3 to The Barn         107.1miles         Cut Off Time: 1pm (Sunday)
Total miles for T.I.V6 = 314.85 miles

Okay, that's a wrap for this report. look for more Trans Iowa Thoughts on Saturday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Back In The Shop

Now for another look back in the shop area of Advantage Cycles............

Probably one of the lesser know pursuits of a bike geek is that of rummaging through an old bike shops parts bin area. You bike geeks know exactly what I am taliking about! Usually the older shops have either been picked through, or the owner knows what he has and won't let it go. Sometimes you can run across the odd, out of the way, older shop where deals that will blow your mind can still be had in this day and age. Advantage Cyclery really wasn't that kind of shop, but it had parts laying around that even some old skool shops would have found to be odd and valuable.

Advantage wasn't all that old a shop, so you wouldn't expect to find anything much in its parts bin at all. However; Tom was a parts junky, and he knew a classic part when he saw it. There was treasure in them thar shelves and I was privy to all of it.

Campagnolo stuff was one of Tom's favorites, and he even had some of the odd mountain bike parts made by the company. Euclid brake lever sets, the twist shifters, and some other odds and ends. He had a huge stash of Campy mountain bike rims too. Of course, the road stuff was on the shelves there. That's where I scored my Campy friction bar end shifters that I still use to this day.

You know, it's funny how some of that stuff was seen as pretty worthless back then that I wish that I had been smart enough to grab. Tom had a set of 7spd XT cassette hubs in black ano that were in the box he would have practically given to me had I expressed interest in them. That hubset would be worth some bucks to a vintage mtb collector now, but that's how it goes sometimes.

It was a unique place because of that, for sure. I learned a lot about cycling's past hardware while working on the latest and greatest new stuff. And there was a ton of that as well. The old stuff and new stuff lived side by side in those days. We were going through tons of serviceable bottom brackets, for instance. We had a machinists cabinet stuffed with DN-6 and every other kind of spindle. Cups and bearings from Tange, Sugino, SunTour, and others. At the same time the cartridge bottom bracket was prevalent and we were doing UN-52's all day long with the occaisional UN-72 and the 90 series on a rare occaision.

We had standard headsets of all sizes. We overhauled them all the time, while at the other end we were working on the new Aheadset standard and thinking it was super cool. Stuff like that was what made that time special. It was a transitional time in componentry that was fun to be a part of.

Next week: Going To The Show.........

Monday, April 12, 2010

Of Hope And Promise

<===That white patch out there isn't snow, it is flowers!

Spring has sprung and all that cliche' stuff. Yup! And I am really enjoying it. Maybe it was the unusually snowy, long, cold winter, but something seems special about this past week and being able to witness the opening of spring.

Sometimes it seems as though it is like one of those fading neon signs, you know.....the ones that change color. The ground kind of fades from brown to a light shade of green. Then the green intensifies. Nothing else has really changed since fall but the greening of the ground cover. It's kind of neat. Now the ground-scape will really start to change shape as plants begin their annual shooting up. Before long, the green will take over, and the contours of the landscape will be lost in a cacophony of wild plants and trees which will screen off the views through the woods.

<===The confluence of Quarter Mile Section Creek and the Cedar River.

I was taking lots of brief opportunities to spy out the places that would later be too difficult to get to later in the spring and summer. I went down along the bank of the Cedar and saw the eagle's nest on the west side bank. Nobody was home today, and later I saw one of the pair soaring over the south section of the Camp.

I wasn't out long today, as I had only a brief amount of time to spend on this glorious day. And it was a glorious one. Just about perfect in temperature, no bugs, (yet!), and being out in the woods sheltered me from the wind. Good stuff and I was glad to get out even just for a bit.

<===Stars In The Grass

The bonus was that the first little flowers of the year were opening all over the floor of the woods and I got the chance to ride here when they were in bloom. I may seem a bit odd to some folks, but I really like flowers, and I have zero talent to grow them, so when I get to see them in the wild, I feel like it is something special. I like them anyway.

I hope that you were able to enjoy some time out on a bicycle too.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

T.I.V6 Recon Report And Course Conditions

<===This is heading to Checkpoint #2

Well, the recon is DONE! Yes!!! A big load off my back this past weekend as d.p. and I met up at "dark-thirty" to go finish off the recon of the T.I.V6 course. We trashed about 50 miles of the pre-planned route and re-did about 40 to replace it on the spot.

We found some tremendous views. a ton of hills, some really cool B Roads, and a course that will give you a challenge unlike any other Trans Iowa we've ever put on before. One thing I will tell you out there is that the section from Checkpoint #1 to Checkpoint #2 is the flattest part of the course. (See the first photo for reference) As for exact cut off times, I should have those this week. Stay tuned! d.p. is compiling the info on the course and will be feverishly working on the cues now, so much of the info is in his hands at the moment.

<====Rotting corpse!

The course conditions are as weird as I've seen since T.I.V4. d.p. and I therorized that due to the early snow cover, the prolonged nature of the snow cover, and that the real cold weather didn't come until well after the snow fell, that the ground really didn't freeze up as usual. This lead to a lot of roads that we are using to become "sand-like". The heavy vehicular traffic due to planting and grain hauling has turned many of these "sand-like" spots into pits of loose, shifty, momentum-sucking patches that can occur on climbs, on down hills, and even on the flats. The passage of skinnier tired vehicles will be affected most by this since I fear that wash outs will be somewhat of a problem with bicycles shod with less than 35mm rubber, and in some spots, any bicycle short of a Pugsley will be affected!

<===Don't shoot me, I'm only the piano player!

Other areas of concern include the loose gravel being thrown down to cover up these spots in places. The counties know that the majority of the seasons planting should occur within the next two weeks. They are not about to grade and repair these ripped up roads just to have them trashed again immediately. So, I think we're going to see these bad spots in a lot of places yet in two weeks. Expect big patches of marbley gravel. Some gravel we encountered was so deep the Truck With No Name was skittering about on it. This will also want to knock your bicycle off track and will suck away your momentum. A quick eye and a good read on the gravel will need to be maintained at all times to find the most efficient line through the morass. It won't be easy!

<===Looks like this one went into "the rough" on this B Road!

The course was especially dry when you take into consideration that the entire area we checked out was doused with a lot of rain just four days ago. You'd never know it though. The ground must have soaked it completely up. Even the B Roads showed minor evidence of the recent torrential down pours. That's a good thing for now.

The weather will play some sort of role in the final outcome, as always. Either good, (unlikely) or bad, the weather could change what we saw in a heartbeat. A rain just before or during T.I.V6 could radically affect how things go down for each rider.

<=== They say the bridge on this road is unsafe......

Speaking of weather, it has been an unusually good spring so far. We dodged a huge bullet by getting the massive snow cover melted with minimal flooding and not having big rains on top of that. In fact, this spring's precipitation has been pretty light so far.

Winds are something that will most likely affect T.I.V6, and of course, with a loop course, you are going to get a headwind at some point, most likely. Will it be an epic head wind? Will it be a light breeze? Who knows? One thing for certain: There will be wind! The wind wasn't noticeable today from the seat of the truck, and it was about seasonal for temps- upper 50's to low 60's. Late afternoon cloud cover caused the temps to dip back towards 50 in a hury though. dress accordingly! Oh yeah, by the way, it frosted Friday night too!

<==..........but we found it to be a pretty sturdy structure if traveling by bicycle!

I've said it before, and I'll say it here: We have not ever had a Trans Iowa where it went from nice weather to crap and back again. It is going to happen someday. We'll get a day where some rain blows in, it cools down, and then the sun comes back again afterward. (In fact, it did that today to a degree!) Where you are out on course will be part of how that affects you, so be prepared for any circumstance.

I'll chime in with more updates, but right now I am excited about this course and I can say that it does show another side to Iowa that many that live here may not be aware of. I saw some sights and things today that were new to me, and were very cool to drive through. I know riding a bicycle through this course will be a great adventure. I just hope that the weather co-operates and allows you folks to experience a bit of what d.p. and I have cooked up for you in T.I.V6.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Trans Iowa Thoughts: The Countdown! 2!

Recon Extravaganza! This weekend brings the recon to a close, (hopefully!), and then it will be on to the finer details of cue sheets and mileage crunching for time cut offs. I'll be on the road today with d.p. doing a ton of gravel travel.

Thoughts On The Course So Far: I am aware that the T.I.V6 roster is about as stacked as it ever has been with some stout riders. Not since T.I.V1 has a roster this potent been gathered, (asuming everyone shows up). I also know that these guys haven't been laying low and taking things easy. (That's right, I hear about you guys!) Mileage totals have been getting piled up, tactics have been refined, and plans made for alliances to dominate and demoralize the other competitors. The "carrot" of the sub-24 hour Trans Iowa finish is dangling out there too, and many would like to attach their name to "first" on that list.

But regardless of all of these things, I will make public a comment I made to a good friend just this past week: "I will be super surprised if anyone can tame this course in less than 24 hours." So, there ya go. I think it would be a near miracle for any rider to pull it off.

I have many reasons as to why this is, not least of which is the fact that I know most of the course. But let's think this through a minute:

Last year the course was just over 320 miles. The weather was near perfection. The gravel conditions were above avaerage. The B Roads were nearly a non-factor. Only a navigational error stopped three guys from nipping the 24 hour barrier. Will all those things that went right go right this year? I do not believe they will.

There is more to it than this, but suffice it to say, the sub-24 hour Trans Iowa is going to be really, really hard to accomplish. Everything would have to go 100% perfectly for it to happen.

Pre-Race Meat-Up: If you are reading this, and have not responded, or even seen the e-mail that I sent out, here it is in its entirety. Please skip over this if you've seen this to the end:
Hello All!

I am writing to you all who are listed on the Trans Iowa V6

If this has reached you in error, I apologize. If you are on the roster, but will be unable to attend the April 23rd Pre-Race Meat-Up at The Grinnell Steakhouse, please indicate that *you will not be racing in Trans Iowa* by e-mailing me back a reply saying that. If you plan on attending, and thus racing in T.I.V6, read on............

If you will be at the meeting, *which is mandatory to race in T.I.V6*, you must reply to this e-mail with the number of people you will be attending the meeting with. Please include yourself in this number. I need a head count for The Grinnell Steakhouse and for the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce who will be giving each racer a pair of Dining Dollars gift certificates worth $10.00 each which can be redeemed at The Grinnell Steakhouse, or at any Chamber member resturaunt in Grinnell Iowa. (Yes- this means your support people could use the Dining Dollars on Saturday or Sunday)

You will be able to pick up a Welcome Bag with the Dining Dollars and other promotional materials at The Comfort Inn And Suites Grinnell Iowa upon your arrival on Friday.

So, to recap: I need to know if you are coming to the Pre-Race Meat-Up and if anyone else will be attending with you. So, if you are racing, and you are bringing a person to the meeting with you, indicate "2" in your reply.

If you will be the only person there, indicate "1" in your reply.
For details on the Pre-Race Meat-Up go to the T.I.V6 site

If you have not seen this or replied to this, I need to know by the 17th what your answer is to give the resturaunt a head count. Please respond here if you need to.

Look for a recon report and course conditions update coming next week. Weather updates will also be on the way. It's getting close! T.I.V6 is nearly here!

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Big Mama Is Back.

Wow! Is it Friday already? I had such a great week that it seems that it went by in a whirl of activity without any rest. Crazy!

Well, even though that seems to be the case, I did manage to "hen peck" my way through a drive train replacement and freshening on the Big Mama.

It really needed it too! Last time I rode it was out at The Camp in the fall with the big, meaty WTB Kodiaks on it and the drive train was skipping and barking back at me like crazy after a year of abuse. The cassette was shot along with the chain, and the lower jokey pulley in the X-9 derailluer froze up! It was a sorry mess.

I actually overhauled the cartridge bearing in the jockey wheel and got it re-greased. Spins like a champ now. New 9 speed chain, new "Tango" X-0 cassette, and back in bidness!

I never intended for the Big Mama to get all pimped out in white components, but there ya go. Things worked out that way. I bought the Manitou Minute thinking it was a 100mm fork, and it was for another project entirely. Well, when it came, it turned out to be a 120mm fork. Oh well! On the Big Mama it went! Then these Sun Ringle' Charger Pro wheels came in for testing on Twenty Nine Inches. Hmm.......well, on the Big Mama with ya! May as well go white with the wheels too!

I just slapped on some Bontrager FR3 tires on this, which are pretty aggressive but great rolling far.....and they are tubeless, of course. Now I am ready to tear it up on some trails, but first......

T.I.V6: Saturday will be a big day in T.I.V6 preparations. You'll get your regular dose of T.I.V6 Thoughts, and I'll be out driving a bunch of gravel with d.p. figuring out the last bits of the course. If it is actually there and useable. Once we have that part put to bed, d.p. will take over on the cues. We should have mileages dialed in a few days later, and I can announce the time cut offs and distances.

So, it's going to get crazy and this blog will be all Trans Iowa-all the time, seemingly for a while. Sorry! That's the way it goes in April here!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Day On The Bike With A Good Friend

So "Super Secret Mode" was still on all of Wednesday morning, but I can reveal that I was able to hook up with my good friend Jason Boucher and get in some dirt on a bright, clear, cold morning.

Our destination was St. Paul, Minnesota. We stopped along the river downtown where it didn't take long for Jason to whip out a camera and start hunting for a shot of the city in the early morning light.  Downtown is a beautiful area, and the image capturing opportunities are many. The fact that it was so clear and bright this morning only made the images more tempting to grab.

I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off this particular morning and spaced off the all important clipless pedals for the ride Jason brought for me to use. So, we hopped back into the car and ran back to where I had the pick'em up truck parked to grab that necessity.

 Just before we sped off we were treated to a train pasing by that had nine engines! Pretty cool!

I see a lot of cool trains on the way to El Paso everytime I go, but the backdrop is always the sage and scrub of the Southwest. To get this train in an urban setting was pretty cool, or at least I thought so.

Jason must have thought so too, as he was snapping off shots of it going by.

If you turned about 180 degrees from the train, this is what you would see. Bridges and a swollen river from the snow melt of recent weeks. Jason said the river crested last week, but it still looked pretty high Wednesday.

Even though it looks nice here, the temperature was 34 degrees with a stiff Northerly breeze which made it feel pretty dang cold! Jason forgot to bring any gloves, and he gutted it out anyway, I don't know how. It was freezing at the start by the time we got going.

We had to traverse some paved bicycle path for a mile or so, and then we hit the single track at a place called Battle Creek. (I think!) At any rate, MORC is doing their magic here and that means that these trails, which are already awesome, are only going to get better.

With the steep climbs that were also long-ish, I was getting pretty gassed. Of course, the rig I was using was a 1X9, which was tough for me and this sort of terrain, but I did my best. Jason was kind and stopped a few times to let me get my wits about me and chase away the pink elephants. (I swear they were real!)

The rain from the day before had made the trail fall into all sorts of conditions from bone dry to greasy. We had some excellent, rippin downhills at times and at others we were picking our way carefully so as to not wipe out. Sometimes we had excellent climbing, other times it was too greasy and slick. Either way it was good times and it kept us on our toes for sure!

This trail is also an old trail system. I was surprised to hear Jason say that he had helped create several of them. I know one thing, I will go back to ride here for sure!

Here's a view from part way up a long, long climb. We started this section at the paved road and immediately started grinding upwards all the way to the top of the bluff. You can see the thin ribbon of the single track as it comes into the central part of the image and then it sweeps to the right as we look at this, just out of view. Then back up to the left, as you can see. It looped back around to the point where this shot was taken. (Click on the pic!)

This is in "flatlander Minnesota" ya'all!

At the top, you could see way out over the river and the Twin Cities, which lay below. The views were awesome from several other places which were more secluded as well.

After this we started the way back down, but not all at once! No, no! There were several other shorter, but tough climbs that demanded our attention. For sure, the park here was far, far more difficult than the others I have ridden in the Twin Cities area. I blew a few cobwebs out today, that's for certain!

Then I jumped in the car and headed back home. The Super Secret Mode is over, but the secrets will be told. Just not now. I have been sworn to secrecy by several different "entities".

One thing that can be told, there isn't anything better than riding dirt with a good friend, no matter what else can't be told!