Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So.....What's Next?

Okay, June is shot, so what's next? Plenty! That's what! Here are some things that I will be focusing on in the immediate future.....

Getting Torqued Off: I have recently received a "D-Torq" wrench from Topeak to check out for The Cyclist  and Twenty Nine Inches. With the high tech gizmos and ultra-lightweight bits and pieces we are playing with on our bicycles these days, it is becoming more and more imperative that we pay attention to proper torque on fasteners. I've been reading about stem/steer tube failures, and other cracked bits and snapped parts. Maybe some of this could have been prevented by applying proper torque protocol, maybe not, but we really should be doing our part where we can. I'll be writing up some posts which I'll link to later. These posts will focus on proper torque wrench use and the D-Torq in particular.

The Tale Of The Tape: I also have a proper Velocity approved rim tape and valve stem kit for the P-35 rims I have on test at Twenty Nine Inches. Once I get this kit installed and ridden, I'll be doing a write up on the strips, stems, and a final review on the wheels/rims.

DynaSys XT 10 speed: I also have a DynaSys 10 speed group that is starting to show up at the shop. It will be put on a test sled and flogged within an inch of its life and then I will put up the results here and on the sites.

10 speed mtb stuff has a lot of folks questioning things, bemoaning another standard, and drooling, depending upon who you are and your point of view. I am not a fan going in, but I have talked to the principals involved in the testing of this group and I have delved into the Shimano marketing pool to see what is up with this stuff. We'll see. So far, the group shows some very meticulous engineering and manufacturing prowess, so I am expecting a lot from this move to 10 speed. 

When The Scout Comes In: Hopefully soon I will be swapping over some single speed parts onto one of these Origin 8 Scout 29 frames. I've reserved one to get in and check out which I will also be doing a review on for Twenty Nine Inches. This frame features revised clearances from the original steel Scout 29"er and still retains the super-short chain stays. I'll have to see how those short chain stays work out on our trails here.

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: My annual, stupid-long, crazy hilly, in the hottest time of the year, gravel grinder is coming up soon. Check out the details here.  I have to double check the course out, but we'll be doing the same loop as last year which will be 118 miles of loopy, crazy gravel roads with a total elevation gain just six feet shy of 10,000 feet. If you add in the climb back into the campground, it easily goes over that figure! We'll be camping out afterwards too, so plan on staying late. Unfortunately, this falls on the same date as the Ponca 155 in Nebraska, so I doubt we'll be seeing any of the Lincoln crew, but I'm sure they'll have a great ride over there. One of these days I'd like to do that one!

And I am sure I am missing some other details of the summer which have slipped my mind. This is going to make summer feel very short!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Blowing Off Steam

Welcome back to "Bike Shop Tales". I received a lot of positive comments last week encouraging me to continue the series. Today, I would like to dedicate this post to my friend, "Ears", who got this ball rolling again.

Back in the mid-nineties we had quite the "crew" hanging around at Advantage Cyclery. I suppose the big, open area we had for repairs was partly to blame. Folks could gather in there and not be in the way of normal everyday activity. It also didn't hurt that this area was somewhat closed off from the main selling area. The conversations didn't need to be "edited" for public consumption due to that arrangement. I suppose us shop rats were also somewhat to blame too! We certainly didn't chase anyone out of there!

Well, it wasn't long into my tenure at Advantage when I saw two high school aged kids coming in on a fairly regular basis.  They were from a nearby town called Shell Rock and were asking about all sorts of high end mtb parts. Obviously, they were very well read (Mountain Bike Action) younginz. At first I figured that they were just pulling our chains, but then one of them actually popped for a new, gold colored Rock Shox Judy fork. We hadn't even seen one in the shop yet when this dude bought it. So, instant "cred" was afforded this guy and his friend. Turns out that I would become rather familiar with both of them in time. But at that time I knew them only as two punk kids from Shell Rock named Matt and the other one with the curious name of "Ears".

Fast forward a bit to when we were regularly riding with and seeing Ears and Matt in the shop. One of the features of Advantage was that there usually was an industrial trike or two sitting around with various busted up wheels and parts laying around for them. Now- You have to understand that an industrial trike is one of the crudest wheeled vehicles you'll ever see. Really ancient technology rendered in heavy mild steel. The wheels weigh a ton, are chromed, and very poorly made. A local industry made use of these trikes as a way to get around their manufacturing plant. Well, they routinely were getting mangled by fork trucks and we ended up picking up the pieces afterward.

So- What does this have to do with two high school dudes into mountain biking? Plenty! Ears and Matt would often come in with the usual "teenage angst" and we had a way for them to blow off some steam. We would hand them wheels from these busted up trikes and tell them to "have at it". Matt wasn't to into it, but Ears........oh yeah! He would go totally bonkers on those wheels until they were folded up into pretzels. It was a beautiful thing to watch!

Ears ended up having to go out back into the alley to do this most of the time, because the rage was so intense, you never knew what might get destroyed in the ensuing melee'. I remember one particular time when a trike wheel was seen bouncing up off the pavement about ten feet into the air, narrowly missing a parked car. I looked out, but couldn't see Ears. Where the heck was that maniac?

Turns out that he had scaled an outdoor stairway on the side of an adjacent building for a better effect. Throwing from a height increased the level of damage he could inflict upon a wheel, but it also vastly increased the danger factor! I had to go out and put a stop to that! A 25lb wheel launched from a second story landing, and ricocheting off in whatever direction, helter-skelter, was not cool!

Dang kids!

Next Week: More Bike Shop Tales on Tuesday! Look for it!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Inspiration To Ride "Something"

Wow! Is it like wet out there, or what?!! Two nights in a row and we got pounded by inches of rain. Now it is flooding. And yep!........almost all the single track is too wet, or under water!

Well, Saturday I figured that I would wait until later in the day to ride, figuring that Cedar Bend might be good to go by then. I threw the Lynskey in the truck and went up about 4:30pm to find that it was very humid, hot, and the air was still in the woods up there. It was a real cooker!

I had put a full charge of water into the Osprey Raptor 10 and I was prepared to try and do at least two laps of the trails. Unfortunately, the Cedar River truncated a lot of my choices that were lower in elevation! I still managed to put together a decent loop including the service road, and two big, steep climbs. I stopped to take the photo here, and was being swarmed by insects. I didn't stick around in one place too long!

What a pressure cooker out there! I was drenched in sweat after the first loop, and I did another, faster loop the second time through. I was starting to feel the heat in a bad way. Maybe I should bail outta here? But after a bit of service road, I dove back into the woods for lap #3. I figured I would back off a bit to settle down and just have fun. Ya know what? I ended up going faster! Should I do a lap #4 Nah! I bagged it and went back home before I did any damage. Probably a wise thing, seeing how profusely I was sweating! It was just running off me!

Saturday Night/Sunday Morning: Big, big thunderstorms roll through again, dumping inches more rain down. Crap! No way that Cedar Bend gets better after this, and that was all I had for anything off road around here. I stuck around the house, took the kids on a hike, and then................I got inspired!

 <===A "Fendered" Karate Monkey

 I remembered an e-mail from Mike Curiak where he admonished me to "just go for a ride". I thought about that, and how he had all these really cool places to ride, some right out of his back door. I didn't have that cool stuff to ride, but I had something to ride, or better said, "somewhere". I had also been perusing a site by mountain bike pioneer Charlie Kelley. He often just rides in blue jeans and a t-shirt. I figured that not only did I have somewhere to ride, but I didn't have to make a big fuss and change my duds out just to ride it.

And ya know what? I went out for a ride. On my Salsa Cycles Fargo, in my jeans and t-shirt, on gravel. Yup! That stuff Mike Curiak once described as something he couldn't figure out why anyone would want to ride miles and miles of. (I think he was just trying to get a rise outta me when he said that) Well, I rode about twenty miles of it, and it was great.

I saw deer, I saw rabbits, I saw a baby bird learning to fly, and whose very concerned mama gave me a quarter mile escort out of the area! I saw the sun setting on waves of green topped with "green caps" of trees waving in the wind. And by the way, the corn is fixin' to tassle already!

So what if I didn't have primo single track that was easily accessed. I had something to ride,  and I rode it.

I hope you got your ride on this past weekend too.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fork Flip Friday

Maybe you don't pay attention to these sorts of things, but I do. Fork lengths on 29"er hard tails are getting longer. Used to be you went with the ol' original Reba at 80mm travel and you were all good. Then Fox got into the game with an 80mm travel fork. Okay, yippee! Manitou was there with an 80mm fork, life was good.

100mm forks were for FS rigs. Nice! Works well there. But guess what? Now all the new hard tails have 100mm forks. Ever see a 2010 with an 80mm front end? Not too many are set up that way anymore.

So it was that when Lynskey sent over this bike, it had a 100mm Fox fork up front. Nice fork and all, but the front end of the bike was so tall, that the handle bars were higher than the tops of my Fargo drop bars! Umm............'scuse me, but that's tooooo upright folks! Not only that, but the longer lever arm the 100mm fork presented was playing havoc with the front triangle of the bike. I wasn't really digging it, ya know?

So I figured that I'd try a suspension corrected for 80mm travel rigid fork, like the Salsa CroMoto Grande' Ahhhh! It is just the right spicy additive to this titanium stew! Man, the bike is just really a whole heckuva lot better than it was. Better steering, better stiffness in the front end, better seated position, better weight distribution on the front wheel, and oh is lighter too. 

But what about that rigid, stiff steel fork? Ya know what? Funny thing is that it rides just about as smoothly as it did before. Oh sure, big hits will rattle yer eyeballs a bit, but the frame is working now like it hasn't before because of the rigid fork. The little stuff I'm hitting feels about the same as it did before. Titanium. Nice. Smooth. I wasn't getting that so much from the front suspendedness I had going on before.

Front end lowered to a reasonable height, lighter, better steering, nice titanium feel. It's like I have a different bike to test now. Too bad I didn't swap it out earlier! It's a Twenty Nine Inches test rig, so it won't be here much longer. I just know that now I'll need to stock an 80mm travel suspension fork for these longer legged hard tails that the industry is foisting on us now. Ya know, sometimes "more" isn't really "better".

Have a great weekend and ride yer bicycles!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Opportunity Knocked And I Downloaded!

One of the biggest nits I have about my work area is that it is so cramped and cluttered. Being in an old basement in an old house, well.........I shouldn't expect much! The thing was that I had collected so much bicycle stuff since the mid 90's that it was beyond ridiculous down there. It made it so that I dreaded having to even set foot in the place, actually.

There were a lot of reasons for that mess. One was that during my time as a car mechanic I had felt the need to grab on to all the spurned bike parts I could because that helped me in my fixing up of other peoples bikes on the side. I had no inside hook up for cheap parts, but I could make do with lightly used ones and still do a tune up or two for some extra pocket change back in the day. 

Then I got back into a shop job and things just went crazy. Well, by 2010 I am sitting in a veritable bicycle rats nest. I was of the mind to download a lot of it, but to whom? Most of the stuff I wouldn't want was, well.......pretty much junk.

Then I heard about the plan someone in Parkersburg, Iowa had to make a "bicycle tornado" sculpture to decorate the town for the arrival of RAGBRAI next month. Opportunity was a knocking! So today I downloaded a whole pickup load of stuff and I even drove it all the way to Parkersburg myself, (approximately 30 miles from my house), just to see it off. Man!  What a difference!

I now have some "breathing room" in The Lab, and I am excited to do some sprucing up down there now so I can actually move around without smacking my head on something or knocking a bicycle over. Really! You folks have no idea how crazy it is down there. (Well, actually, Captain Bob does, but not many other folks do!)

 Okay folks. This is for those that were on the Fargo Adventure Ride. Last weekend we were reported to have 9 riders. Okay, something about the math isn't adding up for me, and I need help here. (I admit not being good at math, but just entertain me here for a minute)

Here's our pile of Fargos at the end of the day. I count six bikes: Three across the far side, two in the middle, and one in the foreground, right?

Okay, besides these Fargos, there was one Vaya, a Redline 29"er, a Kona cross bike, and a Surly CrossCheck. That equals four bikes, right? Okay, who was the "ghost rider" if there were only nine of us?

I'm not being sarcastic, I'm just confused. Help a brother out here Fargo Adventurers!

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When It Becomes "Just Another Bike"

<===Breezer's 2011 Jetstream Comp

Seems like everybody is coming out of the woodwork this year and saying that they will, or are introducing a 29"er. Kind of reminds me of 2007 again! The thing is, this time it is different.

In 2006 there only were a handful of companies doing 29"ers. Surly was still selling a lot of Karate Monkeys, custom builders were still making a lot of Karate Monkey knock-offs, and everyone was waiting to see when single speed, do-it-all bikes would stop being introduced in favor of some full suspension and hard tail specific bikes. Then during 2006 and on into 2007 a lot of companies started selling 29"ers that hadn't before. It was a welcomed thing, and helped elevate the "niche" to a full on "sub-category" of mountain biking. 29"ers were not going to fade away!

Now in 2010 we have seen companies that swore they would never, ever do a 29"er introduce one, (Yeti), and companies we thought would never, ever do one make some, (Canfield), to seeing more and more companies expanding their lines and introducing their first 29"ers in some other cases. So what's up? Why all the fuss?

It seems that the market is feeling that 29"er mountain bikes are primed for expansion, and are the "hottest category" in mountain bikes right now. Expansion seems imminent- In Europe, where 29"ers are just starting to crawl out from under the rocks there, to marketing numbers that point to big wheel mountain bike sales that are increasing, while others stay stagnant, or are in decline, it seems that now it is time to......well, to excrete or get off the crapper, to put it bluntly.

What is going to start happening is that with all the choices coming down the pike, the average aficionado of  big wheeled-ness is going to start glazing over while the younginz just coming up are not going to differentiate between the two sizes of wheels so much. It will all combine to make 29"ers "just mountain bikes" as we move forward from this point. Some will have big wheels and do this and that well while others will have smaller wheels and do that and this well. It'll be just like the choices between 100mm of travel or 120mm of travel. Big, fat tires, or faster skinnier ones. Jumping in the air bikes, or XC race weapons. Big wheels or small ones. See what I mean?

It always has been "just another bike", and I've always said so, but it really will be down the line as time goes by.

Note:In regards to the "Bike Shop Tales" it looks as though I will pick that back up due to the few, but very encouraging comments from yesterday. Thanks to all who took the time and effort to replay. I appreciate it very much! Look for a new "Bike Shop Tales" next Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Where Have You Been?

Hey! it's Tuesday and this is the day I usually post "Bike Shop Tales" posts. If you are a regular reader, you've noticed that I haven't been doing any of those stories since May. Things got off track, and actually, I completely forgot about "Bike Shop Tales" altogether!

I was reminded of all of this by my old friend, "Ears", who called me up yesterday and actually asked me about starting this all up again. (Yes Dude! I mentioned you on the blog. Chill out! It'll be okay!) I contemplated all of that he said, which was very complementary and encouraging. (Thanks, bro!)

But I need to hear from more of you. Is this something that anyone else out there actually finds interesting? Let me know by posting a comment in the comment section. I will gauge the interest I see from the comments that are generated here and let ya'all know my verdict on Wednesday. (Yes! One day to vote!)

Here's my personal feelings on the matter, if anyone needs something to go on here: First of all, there is a wealth of awesome material that I could comment on, tell stories from, and describe to all of you from my past work at "Advantage Cyclery" The only thing is, a lot of it would embarrass, offend, or otherwise tweak off a lot of local folks that I still see and that read this blog. (You know who you all are, I'm betting!) That makes telling stories here about those days difficult, and in some cases, impossible.

Some things are better left unsaid, in other words! (Maybe a lot of things!)

So, it wouldn't break my heart to let it go, but if there are enough votes in favor of doing this again, I'll continue. Make sense?

 Okay, so let me have your feedback, please. Thanks!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fargo Adventure Ride 2010: Part III

This will conclude my report on the Fargo Adventure Ride 2010. Once again, these will be photo highlights of the ride with a concluding commentary at the end.

After leaving the U-More area and doing some more traditional gravel sections, we pulled into Farmington, Minnesota for a re-supply and rest at about 30 miles. We invaded the convenience store, and the, (for me), usual stares from the locals started in earnest. Women hurriedly shuffled children by us before they could ask questions. Grown men stared at our "outlandish" dress. Had we ridden up in leathers on Harleys we would have garnered little attention, but you'd have thought that Marlon Brando was staging a ghostly reprise of "The Wild One" by the looks on the faces of the townspeople.

Actually, I find this sort of reaction almost anywhere I end up with a bunch of cyclists in a rural convenience store setting. I find it rather humorous, and I'll admit, it appeals to a certain facet of my weird personality. It may not be for everyone!

After the lengthy stop in Farmington, and a nice roll out into the countryside, Jason led us down some two track leading to a turn into this farm field and what amounted to an access road. Grass overgrown and barely recognizable as two track in many places, this path wound up, down, around, and over the contours of the Minnesota farmland in a serpentine fashion. I was losing my sense of direction in this twisty, turny track, and getting my kidneys punched out by the unseen potholes, horse hoof tracks, and general bumpiness of this section. What I wouldn't have given for a dually about right then!

By now it was hot and humid. I was getting cooked down in the valley where there was no breeze and our speeds were pretty low due to the bumpy track and, by now, the sandy traps that started showing up. It was pretty obvious that these hills were sand dunes at one time or another back in history.

Jason told us that these hills and vales were XC ski territory during the winter months and horse trails during the rest of the year, for the most part. He said he'd never seen another cyclist out there since he had discovered the place. Hey, maybe we were the first group of cyclists to ever have ridden those hills. Who knows for sure? It was certainly beautiful out there, and definitely very brutal! I suffered the worst during this portion of the ride, that's for certain.

 Immediately after leaving that sector, one of the riders with us named Josh had recollected that there was a big rock outcropping not far off the other side called "Lone Rock". He said it would be fun to check it out, but we'd be obliged to hike to the exact spot, if his memory served correct. I think we were still too whacked from the previous beat down we'd all just survived to say yes or no, and before I knew it, here we were parking our bikes in the remote woods and hiking up some steep, sandy trail towards what, I had no idea.

Hey, they don't call it "adventure" for nothing! So I figured it fit into the game plan alright. We probably hiked in about a half a mile at most, and then we found what Josh was looking for. I climbed up to almost the summit, but being a person that doesn't take kindly to exposed high places, I went down and around the base for.......

.........the shot from the bottom!

It was a pretty tall feature out in the middle of nowhere. I suppose at one time, before the trees got so tall, it was much easier to spot this landmark. Given about another 15-20 years though, with no fires to threaten them, the trees will have pretty much taken over this spot and finding this rock will be even more challenging!

One of the benefits of this side track was finding wild raspberries growing all over the place. They were just shy of primo, and in a couple of weeks, these all will be ripe for the taking, but we still managed to find plenty of tasty, sweet treats.

Someone mentioned that there had been a bear sighting just south of here around Northfield, Minnesota. I can't imagine a more "bear friendly" place than this one, and if that bear finds it, I bet it won't be moving anytime soon from it!

After getting back on track, two track, that is, we were heading north with a tail wind. The road here we had ridden in on, but since we had been on it, the moisture content had gone way down, and the sandy, loose nature of the road was giving us fits. It was making riding much more difficult!

We then went by these installations which were connected with the abandoned munitions plant. They were shelters where shells were filled with gunpowder and armed. If something went wrong, the concrete walls prevented the blast from causing any further damage outside of the barriers. Funny thing was that all of these installations were never put into production or used at all. Now they stand as silent reminders of a World At War.

Not long after this, we hit some grass covered two track that was shoulder high to us on our bikes! You couldn't see the ruts or holes, so a couple guys went down in this section, albeit softly! We also had some fun trashing our bikes in some big mud puddles here and there as well.

The wind sort of shifted around from the Southwest, which ended up being right in our faces most of the way back in, but still, we persevered to our appointed finishing spot, the Lebanon Hills Campground. Approximately 60 miles, and many a laugh and good times were had by all.

We had six Fargos on the ride and they showed why they are the perfect all terrain adventure rig. We had everything from pavement, gravel, grass, dirt, a wee bit of mud, and water thrown at us and we made mincemeat of all of it aboard the Fargos we had. Kudos to Salsa Cycles once again for making the Fargo and opening up a whole new way to explore the world by bicycles.

A big shout of thanks to Jason Boucher also for taking the time to scout out a really challenging, fun, interesting, and flexible course. Thanks for setting up the structure for all of the Fargo Adventure Ride and your efforts were appreciated by all in attendance. Super job of hosting!

I was supposed to travel up to the Chequamegon area that evening, but I had forgotten about Father's day, and I was beat by the Fargo Adventure Ride, so I decided to be with my family instead. Good thing too, because Saturday I was in a zombie-like state from the effort on Saturday.

The Fargo Adventure Ride never fails to disappoint. If you ever get a chance to join one, make time for it! Thanks to everyone on the ride for making it a great time. See ya down the trail!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fargo Adventure Ride 2010: Part II

When I awoke at something like 4:30am to the sounds of robins, cardinals, and other various song birds going nuts, I knew it was still too early to get rolling. But.........try as I might, I couldn't fall back asleep. So I kitted up, rode down to the bathrooms, charged my cell phone up, and just hung out for a bit. The other two lazy bones, (read: Jason and MG) were sound asleep until about 7am. Lucky dawgs!

Another rider or two showed up right about 8am, and Jason headed out to the Lebanon Hills parking lot to check on others who may have shown up. We ended up having 10 riders total. A nice sized group for a ride like this one. Jason led the way out of town on a combination of pavement and bike path, but it wasn't long at all before we got into the gravely goodness.

The rest of this post will be highlights from the first part of the ride which mainly featured the munitions plant, U-More Park, and some sweet double track "b road".

The opening stretches of gravel were in and around Rosemount,  Minnesota. These were fast, smooth sections that were packed down perfectly by the previous nights rain.

There were a few turns here and there and each section was short-ish, flat, but fun, as we got a chance to chat with each other and get to know one another.

So here it is. This is the old, abandoned munitions plant that you see often on Gnat Likes... This is what it looks like as you approach from the north.

Jason was a great ride leader, giving us the history and background behind the installation and the land surrounding it. Very cool stuff. Thanks Jason!

During one of Jason's informational stops, the chatter turned to what to eat on rides. MG brought up his list of packed goodies which included Dum-Dums. Someone guffawed and called his bluff, MG proffered the goods, and promptly spilled all the contents of his zip-loc bag of candy on the road. It was like a 4th of July parade! We scrambled to grab a few of the confectionery goods to consume for ourselves. Sorry MG! One of you "secret weapons is "out of the bag" now. (<====Ha!)

During the time we were in the vicinity of the munitions plant, we were serenaded by repetitious spurts of gun fire. The staccato rat-a-tat-tat could be heard consistently, seemingly without end. Someone mentioned it and another rider said there was a firing range in the area. Well, we saw this sign, and then it all made sense. Your "gubmint dah-lahs" hard at work here!

Salsa Cycles engineer, Pete Koski, said the "FBI" part stood for "Fargo Bike Invitational" We liked that!

The road through U-More is a B-road-ish double track punctuated by a few gates which we were obliged to dismount and hop over.

Somewhere along the way here someone noted clouds of gnats along the ditches and in the woods which marched alongside the roadway. They were definitely thick!

After leaving the U-More area we were back onto more traditional gravel again. Coming up to an intersection with a paved area, a rider along with us had a flat. So we all lounged around, chatted, and ate food we had brought along as we waited.

The day so far had been warm with mostly overcast skies and light breezes. Perfect for riding bicycles!

The spot where we stopped was adjacent to a pasture with sheep grazing in it. Pete Koski was "talking to the animals", and his "sheep whisperings" enticed one of the male sheep to come over and check us out. Here MG gives the critter a little attention, which the sheep seemed to enjoy.

That's a wrap on Part II. Look for the final installment of my report on the Fargo Adventure Ride tomorrow.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fargo Adventure Ride 2010: Part I

This year's Fargo Adventure Ride was based out of the same campground as last year, the Lebanon Hills Campground, which is a really great camping area right in the heart of the Twins Cities suburban sprawl. It would be even better if not for the constant drone of traffic and the occasional roar and whine of jets coming into and out of the airport, but hey! It works and you do get a feel for nature in this beautiful setting. My favorite oddity about the campground is that it is located just off a street called "Johnny Cake Ridge Road". Sounds like something out of a fantasy novel to me.

So I left for this destination on Thursday, taking my time and not in too much of a hurry, since I didn't want to arrive too soon before anyone else. I had reserved a camping space, but I didn't know where I would end up in relation to the others, so that was going to be a mystery until I got there. 

When I arrived Jason and Matt were already there and curiously, they hadn't set up any tents or anything. They were just hanging out talking with the bikes leaning up against a picnic table. I found my spot just up the path from them, so I was pretty close to their spot after all.

Jason informed me that it probably would be a good idea to not set up camp just yet. He said that a strong line of thunderstorms were bearing in on the Twin Cities from the Southwest. It was then decided that if Jason could swing it, we would retire to a local brew pub and wait out the impending doom. Jason's situation was resolved, and with darkening skies threatening rain, we hopped into the cars and hit up the brew pub for eats and beers.

Watching the television with the closed captioning, we could see that tornadoes, large hail, and high winds were going to be a very real possibility for us. Video from storm chasers showed a couple big tornadoes and some images of large, softball sized hail stones. Great! Maybe we would be having a different kind of adventure!

Well, by some miracle we were spared because the storm line broke up and went around the Twin Cities to the north and the south. After we felt all was clear, we went back to the campground where we met up with Ben Witt from Milltown Cycles.

While we walked up to get Ben his visitor pass, we noted the strange clouds in the skies around us. There was distant lightning, weird colors, and odd shapes. We all sat around and watched the "show" unfold while Jason was taking a bunch of pictures of the bizarre spectacle. (Look for something on his blog later on that).  After the sun started to fade in the West, we went back to the camping spot in awe of what had just happened. It was pretty cool, and I had never seen such clouds in the sky before. I know you all will think I'd been smoking something when you read this, but we actually saw clouds that were sky blue in color. Really!

Then we built a fire with the skills of Matt Gersib and Ben Witt, which we enjoyed far into the night. Oddly enough, we noted that we were the only cyclists there. Jason was puzzled a bit because he knew that the camping area was totally booked up and that there were several empty spots that night. Perhaps the reports of severe weather had scared away potential Fargo riders?

Whatever it was, we were having fun and enjoying some great conversation.

Unfortunately, Ben wouldn't be joining us either, as he had just come off a very bad bout with food poisoning  and he was still in a pretty weak state yet as he hadn't fully recovered. It was great to hang out with Ben though, and I am really glad he made the effort to come out to hang with us Fargo Adventurers.

We all then hit our tents with a plan to roll out by 8am the next morning. Who would show up? Would we be a threesome? Check out my next post to find out the answers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Requiem For Gary Fisher Bikes

Unless you were under a rock somewhere yesterday you probably heard about the end of the Gary Fisher Bike brand. It is dead.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, Trek Bicycle Corporation announced that "effective immediately" the Gary Fisher Bikes brand no longer exists. Wow! I don't think anyone saw that one coming. (Unless they worked for Trek, of course!)

So what? Many would ask this question and would point out that Trek has owned Gary Fisher Bikes since 1994. It hasn't been the same company since then. Maybe. (and of course!) But Gary Fisher Bikes did have some autonomous creations from Trek, some engineering ideas separate from Trek, and marketing and branding, of course. Of all of Trek's acquisitions during the 90's, Gary Fisher Bikes was the first and longest lasting of them. Think about that for a minute.

Now it is the "Gary Fisher Collection", and will be branded with Trek's head tube badge and logo on the bikes.  How long before even that token marketing ruse is over is anyone's guess, but I would submit to you that it is already pretty much a completely assimilated brand. Even Gary Fisher himself is calling the 2011 29"ers, "Trek 29"ers".

Sure, there will be a "Fisher influence" for years to come, but let's face facts: It makes more sense in the long run for Trek to focus its resources on one brand instead of splitting them amongst two. Dealers were said to have been clamoring for Trek to give them Trek 29"ers and Dual Sport models and now they have them without Trek having to split more resources and duplicate product with another brand. Makes sense from a business standpoint for sure.

<===The awesome Sawyer 29"er from......(gulp!) Trek? (!!)

But even though it makes sense from a business standpoint, you have got to wonder how Trek will carry out things from this point. I liked how Fisher seemed to fly in the face of Trek's conservative, Mid-Western pragmatism. It was a great foil to what Trek had on offer on the other side of the aisle.

I am just afraid that will all disappear now that Fisher Bikes as a stand alone brand is gone, and I lament this possibility. Hopefully I am very wrong about that, and in fact, Gary Fisher himself assured me that it would not happen in a telephone conversation I had with him yesterday. Time will tell, of course, but if the huge marketing and consumer perception issue can be overcome, I would bet that Gary Fisher would find some sort of way to get that message across. Say what you will about the man, but he has made a lot of inroads along the years in cycling, and continues to be an influence. How many other cycling personas can you say that about? Not many.

So, this weekend I will raise a toast to the brand that is gone, and then another to the man that carries on with his passion for cycling of all stripes, Gary Fisher.

It'll be an interesting ride from this point onward, that's for sure!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Salsa Cycles Fargo Changes

<==Current State Of Affairs

I mentioned earlier that I had to get the Fargo back together after robbing parts from it for the Dos Niner. Here is photographic proof of said retro-grades!

In training for the Dirty Kanza 200, I found out that the 2 X 9 gearing was really appealing to me for gravel grinding. I liked being able to stay in one ring up front and just shift the rear, with an occasional bail out to the small ring up front for steep stuff, or when I blow up, (often), or when there is a head wind and I blow up, (more often than not). Actually, to be quite honest, I think of it as a 1 X 9 with a bail out gear. Works for me, and it is closer to my single speed nature than a triple.

 Here is a close up. How I got here is a round about story. I had an old Specialized touring bike that was a cast off. The frame was waaaay too big for most folks, but the bike was hung with some cool, vintage bits and I saved it from going to the dumpster for those bits. The bike hung in the corner of the Lab for years until recently when this project came up. I thought I could use the original Sugino AT cranks which had that glowing, pearl-like ano finish. (A beautiful look that is way under rated, in my opinion.) The AT cranks were set up with "half step" gearing, which meant that the big ring and middle ring were close ratio and the granny was waaaay smaller. I figured on using the middle and granny rings which were 44T and 28T respectively. That almost matches the 44T/29T on the Dos Niner. If the bottom bracket and crank would clear the Fargo, I would be in business.

<=== Need some bottle cages for the fork blade mounts? Get these Velocity Bottle Traps. You will not lose a bottle from these!

Okay, so I pulled apart the Specialized to find out the bottom bracket had some strange-to-me interface for the tool to remove it. I improvised with a Park pin spanner tool and it came right out. Huh! Whattya know! A SunTour sealed bearing bottom bracket. Well, I got it into the Fargo, but when I got the AT crank and test fit it I was dismayed to see that it wasn't going to work. Back to the drawing board!

The SunTour BB had a ginormously long spindle and still, the chain rings were hitting the chain stays. So, a "Plan B" had to be formulated. I found a 110/74BCD crank, (an old Shimano Altus), and pulled the rings I wanted off the AT crank. Then I rummaged through my collection of salvaged Shimano cartridge bottom brackets and found a 122mm spindle UN 54 that did the trick nicely. Everything went together well, and with a slight re-adjustment to the height of the front derailluer, (anybody wonder why they don't make derailleurs horizontally adjustable?), I was up and running again.

The shifting was great. The chain doesn't drop off to the inside, but I probably should put that Third Eye chain watcher on the Specialized had, just in case. Interestingly, the Specialized was a six speed rear geared bike, so these chain rings shouldn't work with a 9 speed chain, right? Well, they do just fine, actually, and I don't see any issue with the set up in that manner. 

The big test will be the Fargo Adventure Ride on Friday. We'll see then, but for now, I can't see why things won't go smoothly. A last, night time, gravel road test ride will be done hopefully tomorrow, and then it is on to Minnesota with this rig.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Green Light

<===Heading north bound with this on Friday......

Green lights.  The signal for "going".

I've been waiting for a "green light" for months now. When you are married, and have a family, it isn't all about what you want to do. So, when the Fargo Adventure Ride was announced, I penciled it into the calendar and  conferred with Mrs. Guitar Ted about it. She figured that it might work out to see a friend that she has up there and that our kids may go to see their grandparents at that time.

Then there were wrenches. You know......the things that can change your plans. 

First off, my wife's friend moves away from the Twin Cities. Then her boss at work starts meddling in her plans, telling her she won't tell my wife whether or not she can get the time off until the week of. (!!) Yeah........nice!

Well, we got around that major hurdle, and now my good friend that watches our kids and my wife are taking the kids to the Twin Cities for an overnight-er themselves. Everything worked out after all. 

So, the "green light" is on. I'm going to The Fargo Adventure Ride on Thursday/Friday, and then onward to the Sol Sessions in Wisconsin Friday till Sunday morning. Big riding , big miles in the car, and big fun with friends. I am excited.

Maybe we'll even run into some Trans Wisconsin riders, eh? That'd be cool!

In other news, The Renegade Sportsman author, Zach Dundas, does a bit of an article for Good magazine online here. Zach is exploring the rising popularity of these events, which to the average citizen may seem bizarre, twisted, and insane. He quotes Tim Ek, posts the T.I.V2 video made by Jeff Kerkove, and has a bit of a Q&A with me as well. Check it out for a perspective that comes from outside the little niche of gravel grinder freaks.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Maintaining Part II

More rain, more maintenance! I got to looking at the frozen titanium pinch bolts for the eccentric bottom bracket and broke two 5mm wrenches before saying 'no mas!

Dang! I guess all that snow riding froze the little buggers into place......forever! Galvanic corrosion is like that. I suppose I could try the "hot wrench", but that doesn't appeal to me on several levels.

34 X 20T gearing is what I am stuck with for single speeding now. Not the end of the world, mind you, but it does go against "T-6 Brent's Rule Of Single Speeding". I'm supposed to be on to an 18 tooth cog out back now, (actually, a seventeen tooth cog!), and this gear I originally set the Dillinger up with was with snow riding in mind. Well, what can ya do? I guess I'll have to make up for it by taking the Dillinger to somewhere with steeper, or longer climbs.

Actually, that sounds quite fun. 

More maintenance to be done yet, so back down to The Lab!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


This is a weekend where I have to stick close to home, so I am not going on any adventures this weekend. This is becoming a weekend that I am spending on some maintenance. Not like I don't have a slew of bicycles needing it!

So project #1 was to get the Fargo back together, since I robbed parts off of it to get the Dos Niner up and running for last weekend. I decided to leave the Dos as is and I went ahead and scavenged an old Shimano cartridge bottom bracket, old Shimano five arm 110/74BCD crank, and some old touring bike chain rings to cobble up a 2X crankset. I found a 44T ring and a 28T granny that I matched together, slapped on the Fargo, and whattya know? It seems to work just fine, (field test still needed), and that old cartridge BB spins like a champ.

This nearly matches what I was running on the Dos Niner, which is a 44T/29T set up. My chainline is juuuust about there on the Fargo, but I think the slight bit that it is off shouldn't be an issue. It is going to be used mostly for gravel pursuits this summer, so that gearing should be fine. That done, I threw on the next bike to be worked on, the Dillinger.

I had taken the big, 120mm fork off, slapped the Dillinger fork back on, and put on a different wheel set. Trouble arose as I needed to tension the the eccentric, which I found had frozen pinch bolts. Gah! Penetrating oil applied, I had to leave it for another session. Most likely tomorrow.

There is more needing attention. Things like switching out a tire to another rim for tubeless use, hack another light mount, and clean up the Gryphon which has dried up limestone goo all over it. (Joy!)

It's gotta be done sometime or another! 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Peanutbutter Roads

David Pals and I did another stint of night time gravel grinding and despite the heavy rain earlier in the day, it wasn't too bad out there.

We headed out of Toledo again, and I had a route sort of planned in my head, but once again it was foiled. Oh well! We found some pretty cool roads though.

The one thing about riding in Tama County is that you don't get that leisurely pace where conversation comes easily. Too many hills one right after another! We're either huffing it up a steep hill, or we're hanging on as we fly down the other side, catching our breath before huffing it up one more steep hill and starting the process all over again!

That's why we have the "art of the stop" down pat. We will stop, catch our breath, turn off the lights, and just soak it all in. The fire flies are spectacular right now, by the way, and the night time sky is always awe inspiring.

Then it's decision time on what way to go. We pick a direction, sometimes talking it over, others with no verbalization at all, and we go on for awhile, huffing, coasting, repeating, until another stop.

The roads seemed to get progressively worse on this ride. We found a B road, and that was actually ride able, but we found a gravel road afterward that was so thick and sloppy, we had to pedal going downhill! Now that just ain't right!

The road was so slow, and energy sapping, I thought I must be paying penance for T.I.V6 or something! I at least got a taste of the flying mud on the downhills, and the grinding, slow going everywhere else.

Well, we cut the route short a bit, since we were working so hard anyway. David and I chatted for awhile afterward, and then we made our separate ways home. I'll miss the night rides for a bit. David is doing Trans Wisconsin, and I'll hopefully be in Minnesota. Might be a bit before the night time gravel grinders get going again, but we'll get back to it.

I just hope the roads are drier next time!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bluebird Skies

After the weekend's blast furnace ride it was nice to enjoy a beautiful, warm, breezy summer day in Iowa. I headed up to the Camp and hit the trails which were a mix of small muddy patches, tacky dirt, and cool air under the thick, lush trees.

The bugs were even somewhat absent this finest of days and I thoroughly enjoyed the sweet little window of time I had to ride.

I rode the Blackbuck single speed with the 34 X 18 gear. I was a bit afraid that I was going to suffer mightily because of the weekends madness and my not being used to that tall a gear on steep stuff. Well, happily I was able to climb a lot more than I thought I would be able to, and without back pain. Good stuff. Sure, I had to walk a couple steeps, but I was more than pleased with my abilities especially after frying my legs in Kansas. 

I've got the Blackbuck set up now with the big, monstrous Specialized Purgatory 2.4's. The tires are mounted on Gordos, which make them look like monster truck tires against the svelte steel tubing of the Blackbuck. It really looks like a "fat tire flyer"!

Adding to the retro-look is the new Mountain Goat Cycles "Goat Horns" handle bar I am checking out. These are much like the Rawland Elgokse I also checked out last year, only the bar is permanently attached on the Goat Horns in the traditional manner. Chromed, "Bull Moose" style, and solid. These make the cruiser-ish lines of the Blackbuck even more neo-klunker-style. Almost made me want to polish up a set of old SunTour ratcheting top mounts and run gears on her. Almost!

Anyway, after playing cat and mouse with a deer for a bit, I high tailed it back home to do some chores. Ended the day grilling out with my family.

Hope your day was as good as mine!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Renegade Sportsman Book Review

I recently received my copy of the Renegade Sportsman by Zach Dundas for a Father's Day gift from Mrs. Guitar Ted who purchased it on-line. I had mentioned earlier that I would be reviewing the book here on the blog. So, that is what this is all about. First though, there needs to be a bit of explanation..........

Why Review A Book? Great question! This blog is mostly bicycle related, so reviewing books of any sort is weird, and especially so since it doesn't appear on the surface that this book is cycling related at all.
Actually, there is plenty of cycling related material between its covers.

Ground Rules: Secondly, I will admit up front that I am not even a casual book reader. I barely register on "bookworm radar". Heck, I think I've only read three books in my time as an adult, including college! So I do not purport to be any sort of expert on authors, styles, or what is good, bad, or ugly in the book world. I am reviewing this book for two simple reasons: One- Trans Iowa "figures heavily", (Zach's own description, not mime), into the book. Secondly, there are other notable cycling references here including the messenger alley cats, bike polo, and the Single Speed Cyclo-Cross World Championships.

The Review: The Renegade Sportsman starts out by giving me a very tactile feel of paper. In an age of digitized press and i-Pads, this was almost shocking to me. It's kind of a rough looking package, which given the title is appropriate, I guess. Also, in a sort of renegade move, there is no table of contents either. I looked several times to no avail. This sort of assailed my retro-book tendencies. I guess "back in the day" tables of contents were a given. Maybe this is the "new math" for publishers these days concerning books, I don't know! The cover, (as shown above), is a garish yellow and red affair, so it's easily spotted amongst the usual fare consisting of the Dirt Rag, Guitar Player, and Entertainment Weekly magazines that litter the reading stand in the bathroom. A nice touch, I thought, by whomever was in charge of the marketing department.

Inside the book you will find what author Zach Dundas refers to as "renegade sports". These are what we would think of as the seamy underbelly of populist sports culture. Mr. Dundas weaves his tales of his observation and participation in these "sports" while pitting them against the massive mega-sports complex and the machinations thereof. His basic contention is that these oddities of American participatory "sports', these "renegade" ideas, are where the "real deal" is. Sports as we know it, the leagues and the divisions, and the colleges, and the gobbledy-gook that surrounds it, has careened off into a realm the likes of which is so unimaginable and unwieldy that the average citizen is left to forming "fantasy" leagues to somehow feel a part of it. Video unreality is packaged as a way to become "part of the action" and to feel any sort of connection with what is going on with "The Big Leagues" these days. Mr. Dundas seeks to find redemption in the actions of the protagonists in his book which range from drunken running clubs to crazed single speed cyclo-crossers, female roller bladers, and yes.....even Trans Iowa.

Is Mr. Dundas' mission accomplished? He does make a strong case, that is for sure. The book is entertaining, vulgar, spectacular, droll, and certainly funny enough. As a theory, it might fall a bit short, but in the end, who cares? The stuff between the bright yellow covers of "The Renegade Sportsman" is a good read. I am somewhat doubtful that things like the Hash House Harriers, or Trans Iowa is going to score any sort of coup against the modern day titans of sport, but maybe the stories of the "Renegade Sportsman" will inspire more folks to become their own movers and shakers instead of bland observers being force fed marketing driven, made for television muck that passes for sports in the 21st Century.

A Word About The Trans Iowa Chapter: I think I would be remiss if I didn't comment directly on the Trans Iowa chapter of the book, since, well.......I am a main character in it! Yes, it is rather unsettling to read something somebody else wrote about you. Rather surreal, actually. I will say that after three plus years it brings back some details of the event for me into sharp focus, while others are glossed over or omitted entirely that I thought would make for good copy. It's like that when you deal with impressions folks have. Something my Mom reminds me of from time to time. Things she thought would be of paramount significance in my life are often things I don't even remember. So a little of that is to be expected with something I am so close to.

Beyond this, Mr. Dundas' rendering of Trans Iowa is both entertaining, (waay more fun to read about than it was to go through!), and accurate. Well, with the exception of one glaring detail, not really having to do with the event at all. I am reported to be a bicycle mechanic, (true), in an Iowa City shop, (not true). My apologies if that offends the sensibilities of any of the bicycle shop employees and owners in Cedar Falls and Iowa City! Other than this minor gaff, the entire chapter is more than I could have ever hoped for. Since the book is wide ranging in it's scope concerning what types of sports are covered, it would have been easy for Trans Iowa to be just a minor aside. In my opinion, it seems to be what Zach Dundas claimed to me it would be, a chapter that figures heavily in the overall book. Even "Outside" contributor/author, Jon Billman tracked me down at the Dirty Kanza 200 and told me that I needed to read the June issue of "Outside" for his review of "The Renegade Sportsman". He told me his favorite chapter in the book was about T.I. and that he says so in the piece he wrote. It is humbling for sure, but I won't hide the fact that I am proud of it too.

Conclusions: I would give the book a thumbs up for a lighthearted, thought provoking look at alternative sports in America. There are really good chapters with direct cycling connections and even some cycling advocacy can be found here. I would give caution for the explicit language, sexual innuendo, and for the off beat ideas the book may spark in fertile minds. (Not sure I would like a Hash House Harrier kennel tramping through my back yard, for instance!) That said, I had fun reading it, and of course, I liked the Trans Iowa chapter best!

So, there ya go. That's my review of the book. If you would like to check it out for yourself, you can get it on Amazon here.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Hot, Dry, And Nasty! The Dirty Kanza 200 Report!

Note: Due to a Blogger technical issue, this post is going up very late. I am going to let it run for Tuesday as well because of this. Thanks for your patience in this matter. I now restore you to the previously scheduled post!

<===My companions for the weekend were the very gracious Mike Johnson and Amy Jardon. (Thanks ya'all!)

My Dirty Kanza 200 experience for 2010 could be totally summed up in this statement: "Same day, different year", but that doesn't really explain it all that well, so here is the full tale in brief with some other notes on others performances.

Friday was a travel day and the pre-race meeting. It was a pleasant trip down with great company. Nothing too rushed either, we made a couple well timed stops along the way which broke up the miles nicely.

Conversation was mainly targeted on the weather and course. We knew it was forecast to be about 90 degrees and windy, but it had sounded as though the winds would be favorable, coming from the South/Southwest to begin with and then throughout the day. The nightime would bring a switch to West, then Northerly winds. If a rider could time things correctly, there would be very little head wind, and a mostly tail wind to push you throughout the day. Wishful thinking? Yes, but Mike and I were hopeful all would go well for us.

Emporia had the welcome mat out for the riders this year with signs and recognition by the townspeople. The event had moved from the old venue near the interstate on the west side of town to downtown at the old Granada Theatre which was a restored grand old place. The main motel was changed to The Best Western near the southwest edge of the city. Typically well organzed, the Dirty Kanza promoters, Joel Dyke and Jim Cummings, had things running like a well oiled machine this year too. Thanks go out to those two fine gents and all their awesome volunteers, of which there were many.

Joel and Jim announced a cool new award to go out to the "rider with the best attitude" in honor of my Trans Iowa co-director, David Pals, (referred to here most often as "d.p.") It was a huge, vivid picture taken by an awesome photographer by the name of Eric the Adventure Monkey. David is well known for his ever present smile and even keeled attitude no matter the circumstances on rides. He handily displayed these attributes during his DK 200 attempts in years past and Jim and Joel felt inspired to make an award that wouldn't necessarily be for a winner, or even a front runner in the Dirty Kanza 200. This was what they came up with, and it was a really cool gesture on their part, in my opinion.

<===Local yokel, Jeremy Fry, in front of the Granada Theater before the start.

The event kicked off in front of the Granada Theatre at a minute or two past 6am. Things went pretty smoothly on the way out of town considering there were 160 starters. Everybody was cool and calm. The front runners shot off like they were coming out of a cannon, and once they hit the gravel outside of town, it was an awesome site to see. Gravel dust in their wake, the tightly knit pack wound out of my sight, nere to be seen again by me. I was doing my own measured pace. I knew the opening salvo of this event from last year where I managed to crawl in to the first checkpoint in Cottonwood Falls with a spasming back and a swimming head from a bad head cold. This day I felt great, and I was looking forward to making it further down the course.

Everything seemed to be working out great in the opening part of the event for me. I was taking in food and water on a regular basis and the wind had not picked up yet. I noted the first guy fixing a flat at mile seven. Two more by mile eight. Mile nine saw a mountain bike rider with a flat. Then I saw local Ron Saul with a flat at mile 11. Whoa! The flats were kicking in hard and early. It was a constant theme that I heard throughout the rest of the event. Thankfully, my 2.1 WTB Vulpines were rockin' like Dokken! (<===Ha!) The bike, my Salsa Dos Niner, was doing great. No problems mechanically. It was going well, but it was early.

The course was its typical beautiful, awesome, and brutal self. The roads were more eroded and rutted than last year, which caught out the lead pack at mile 25 or so when all the guys were trying to funnel down to two tracks. Something went wrong, and a lot of riders piled up. Troy Krause and Dennis Grelk got the worst of it. The flinty stone tore up and punctured flesh, battered their equipment, and caused much blood flow. Fortunately, Lincolnite Butch Johnson came up on the scene and was packing a full medical kit. He cleaned up and patched up the boys the best he could while someone bashed Troy's wheel back into ride-able shape. The two casualties of the DK's unforgiving nature wobbled onward. Troy ended up pulling out quite a respectable finish afterward,(8th place!), but I do not think Dennis fared as well. I was told he required stitches to his chin and elbow at a local hospital.

<==High up on the Open Range!

As for me I was rolling up on the high open range when I came upon Omaha local Eric Brunt. He was fixing his third flat of the day already! But you know what? Eric was smiling and having a great time despite it all. What a great guy! I was happy I stopped to chat a few minutes with him.

Onward I went as the course now started to turn more westwards and I started feeling the wind coming up stronger and stronger. The heat was also being ratcheted up along with the wind. Soon I found myself running straight on into it on a southwards push into Texaco Hill. It was downright brutal, and as confirmed by several of my fellow sufferers, things were as bad as last year at this point. Wow! I couldn't believe how similar it was. The wind was whistling and moaning in the overhead wires making me look at times thinking I was being overtaken by some spirit of the prairie. It was surreal to say the least. I was forced into walking a couple of stretches of Texaco Hill just because my leg muscles were so fried. It helped a bit to alternate between walking and riding for sure.

<===Dirty Kanza's unique spectators along the course.

I got past that big climb and looked forward to getting turned back northwards and being pushed by a tailwind for once. Unfortunately, as cyclists know, when you get a tailwind, you get hotter. Boy did I ever! I cooked and had to stop and douse myself with a half a bottle of precious water to knock down the core temp before it got out of hand. I was really hurting now. I stayed standing on the side of the road a bit until I regained my composure.

Once I got going again things came back to me a bit. I now had a mostly downhill course with a wind at my back. I was hitting speeds of close to 40mph, having fun, and cruising along. But it wasn't long before I had sucked down the last of my water, ironically at about the same part of the course as last year. I had gone through threee liters of water and a bottle and a half of water bottles, (the other half being poured on myself to knock down my temperature). I was about 9-10 miles out yet, and the heat was oppressive.

<==The Dos Niner did me well.

So I ran into the checkpoint at Cottonwood Falls with some strong pedaling, but I was tapped out. I could hardly stand up when I got off the bike, and shade and water were definitely on the menu. I ate some pre-made sandwiches I had to refuel too. Mike Johnson's wife Amy was there to crew for us and she did an awesome job attending to me, something I am definitely not used to while bike riding! Thanks Amy! I told her that if things didn't get better in an hour, I was probably done for the day. Well, they didn't get better, and I pulled the plug at noon, or there abouts.

The event was bittersweet for me for sure. I know I do not do well in a combination of wind, lower humidity, and heat, that's for sure! Race director Jim Cummins said the humidity was "high", and maybe it was for Kansas' Flint Hills region, but here in Iowa, it doesn't get that dry very often with that much heat. I just am not wired for that! No excuses though, I just didn't have what it takes to do a Dirty Kanza 200 in those conditions. Hats off to all the finishers! I am amazed by each and every one of you!

Speaking of finishers, the local boys did well. Mike came in with Ron Saul and Jeremy Fry at 12:45am. Jeremy looked like he was paying the price for having been in the lead group till a flat took him down, but Ron and Mike looked rather fresh, considering the day. Congratulations to you three local hard cores!

Corey, "Cornbread" Godfrey won the event in an amazing time of just over 13 hours. I have watched Corey ride well for a few years now, always snooping around the front of these events. He seemed to get snake bitten by something every time, but it all came together for him this year at the Dirty Kanza, and it couldn't have happened to a better guy! Congratulations Corey!

There were a lot of other amazing stories at this year's Dirty Kanza 200, and those are well worth seeking out. My tale isn't anything much, but, there it is. I guess I could always try it again, but I am left questioning whether this time of year in Kansas will be anything other than a windy, dry, and hot blast furnace that I am not suited for. We'll see.

Once again, I would have had this up earlier, but technicalities prevented me from doing so. Hope ya'all don't mind the late report.