Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday News And Views

<==Loaded up and truckin'!

Here is an image of the Xtracycle'd 80's Schwinn Sierra I recently threw together as a work bike to haul stuff when I need to and the weather allows. Things came together for a maiden voyage yesterday as I had to take a bicycle that had been reviewed on Twenty Nine Inches back to the shop to be picked up by the UPS man, (aka "Brown Santa") The "voyage" went perfectly, I might add.

This bicycle is truly thrown together as well. I literally am almost devoid of anything 26" specific these days, so finding this bicycle, which had been in storage out at Captain Bob's for a long time, and the wheels and tires was not an easy task. In the end it all came together though, and it works reasonably well. Well enough to make a good delivery sled.

No! Say It Ain't So! (Reprise) Well, if you hadn't heard yet, Alberto Contador was caught with his hand in the doping jar back in July at that big race where he ended up wearing this yellow tunic-thing. He says it was from "tainted meat". Uh-huh. Funny thing about that. When I told my wife about it, who has a Bachelor's in Nursing degree, she about spit up! Not a very likely story here folks.

Well, we'll see if the authorities give him a hall pass, but if he gets treated like Floyd Landis was, expect the yellow tunic thing to go back to the store where it came from. And even if it doesn't, once again, you have had the rug pulled out from under you if you are a Tour fan. Remember how they said, "this is the best Tour in years"? (Just like they did when Landis won) Now it all seems like just another farce in a line of farcical July events in France.

Wrapping Up Interbike: Still tapping out stories about last week's Interbike show. Looks like I have about three more posts to go before I get that all wrapped up for another year, then it's back to "bidness as usual" round these parts. Fall riding is calling and I have much to catch up on.

Fortunately I have a great opportunity to do so scheduled for Sunday when I hit up the Rawland Fall Tour. I'll have a full report on the goings on Monday, if all pans out. I am really looking forward to this one!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

T.I.V7- About That Date.....

Okay, you might be wondering what the heck I am posting these eggs for. But think about this....

Late April....


Trans Iowa dates.

Get the picture?

I only figured it out when one of the honorable "Death Before Dishonor" members of the Elite Duluthian Cycling Guard informed me that I had selected Easter weekend as the dates for Trans Iowa.  Whoops!

Well, the wheels had already been put into motion for the event, so d.p. and I made an executive decision to go down with the ship, if that is how it must go. So, yes. Trans Iowa is still going to be held on the 23rd-24th of April, 2011. Oh yeah, and by the way, not only will our pre-race be on Good Friday, but that date is also Earth Day. Go figure!

Nuggets: Here are some details on Registration and for lodging. First off, as I mentioned earlier, we have 51 past finishers of Trans Iowa. They will be listed on the T.I.V7 site soon. Once the list goes live, finishers can claim spots on the roster. This will probably happen starting Friday. I will run the list until November 1st. Remember, there are 100 spots overall, so this leaves at least 49 open spots. After the Finishers list is closed, any unclaimed spots will be added to the allotment for Vets and Rookies, and that number will be added to the 49 open spots for those two classes from the get go. (51 finishers max, 49 left over = 100) The total, whatever that may be, will then be divided as evenly as possible between Vets and Rookies. Worst case scenario: All 51 finishers claim their spots and Vets get 25 spots and rookies 24. It won't happen like that, but that is an example for ya.

Then I will have those remaining spots for Rookies and Vets be distributed by, (our by now), traditional way- by sending in a post card. You will be required to fill in some specific info, and you will have a date by which you must not have your post cards in before, and a cut off date, if need be, by which cards must be in by. Remember- No early cards. They get summarily tossed in the garbage. (I have done it before, and will again). Cards can be over-nighted, delivered in person, by carrier pigeon, or taped to a homing pig. Whatever. As long as I get them at the specified place within the specified time period, and with the specified info on them in a LEGIBLE manner. I reserve the right to refuse any illegible cards. (And I have done that before, as well)

Finally, you must agree that you are on a group ride of your own volition. You will be required to agree that YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR OWN ACTIONS.  Got that? Good.

Now, as for the lodging: It is my current understanding that we have a block of rooms set aside at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Grinnell. (The very same place we used this year) The price we agreed upon is $64.99 a night, and the dates this rate is good for runs through the 22nd-24th. Brian Scheffert is the manager, in case you run into a snag. If there are any issues, e-mail me at the link on the T.I.V7 site.

We also are working on the Grinnell Steakhouse as our meet and great/pre-race meeting site. We will announce confirmation of a pre-race site soon, hopefully.

Anybody up for coloring some Easter Eggs to hide on the course this year?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Another Anniversary

Hey all! Bike Shop tales is back after the Interbike hiatus. Here's a story about a recent anniversary...

So I had another anniversary last week while I was gone at Interbike. Those sort of things- anniversarys- are sort of a mixed feelings deal for a lot of us. Sometimes anniversarys can be good, sometimes not so much.

I don't know which way it is for this one, but I do know  it is kind of odd in a few ways.

I started working in a bike shop at an age when most folks either have moved on from being a "shop rat" and have either gone and done something else, gotten further into the industry, or went on to manage or own their own shops. Well, at age 33, I was just getting into it. I guess you could say that I never did anything when you might expect most folks would!

That first gig lasted only a little over three years, and then the shop folded in a bizarre way. I was left scrambling for employment, and ended up working on cars for awhile. Then I was drawn back into my current job, and as of last week, I've been there 8 years doing mechanic work.

8 years isn't a very long time in most vocations. Heck, in some jobs you are just barely getting started 8 years in. However; in a bike shop, 8 years is an eternity. Turnover at a bicycle shop happens at such a fast rate that it makes your head spin. I've seen so many employees go through the shop that I can't really remember them all, and the shop isn't all that big!  

How much longer will I be there? Will I see another anniversary? In a job where longevity is as rare as a Yeti C-26, you have to start wondering things like this when you've been around in one place as long as I have.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reviving The Animal

<===It lives!  Again!

I didn't have a very productive cycling weekend. Saturday it rained practically all day and Sunday, while nice, was taken up by other activities. Well, that is until evening came around. Then it was time to start wrenching.

It's been awhile since this particular bike has been up and running. I pilfered parts from the original build of it, and it was in a rag-tag state of affairs. Probably still would be if not for another bicycle I have. That bike, a Salsa Cycles Dos Niner, has been through several incarnations since I acquired it a few years back. Thing is, no matter what I did to it, I ended up not liking the end result.

The Dos was just too flexy. It really started bothering me after I started in testing a lot of other bikes and learned that things could be so much better in terms of stiffness and 29"ers. The ol' Dos just couldn't measure up, so I retired it from active duty Sunday.

Knowing I was going to do that with the Dos soon, I started to think about the shifty bits on that Woodchipper and how I liked that. That led to thoughts of reviving this other bike. The more I looked at it and the more I thought about it, I figured why not? So, I tore one down and built the other up.

There still is much to tweak out on it. I have some brake work to do. I have to adjust the handle bar a bit, and probably three other things besides. Who knows. One thing is for sure though, and that is that the ol' animal lives again!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Interbike 2010 Thoughts And Comments

Now that the show in Vegas is over, presumably for the last time, here are some thoughts, impressions, and comments about the event.

 <===There was a noticeable lack of attendance at the furnace-like Bootleg Canyon Outdoor Demo in 2010.

Something Needed To Be Done: The "big" news going into the show this year wasn't about a big introduction, it wasn't about a cycling "star" that might show up, and it didn't feature anything product-wise that was set to be "the next big thing". Nope, it was about Interbike moving to Anaheim and changing its date.

That should tell you something. Added to that, the press release said something about the show's "relevance". This should also tell you something. Now consider that attendance was noticeably down again for the third year, (despite whatever spin the Neilsen Group wants to put on the numbers), and that there were far fewer vendors showing, and I think it is fair to say that the writing was on the wall.

Interbike and Las Vegas had grown to become a flash point with vendors who didn't like the exorbitant convention center fees and with the attendees that didn't like the darkness and slimy nature of Las Vegas and what it stands for. But make no mistake, this move had nothing to do with the latter. Interbike was losing money due to poor vendor turn out and poor attendance by the bicycle dealers.

Is This The Solution? Moving the date to the second week of August and to the new location of Anaheim, California is probably being done for two distinct reasons. #1: To make Interbike relevant to dealers, manufacturers, and ultimately consumers. The thing is that as of now, Eurobike and dealer camps have effectively gutted Interbike's impact in the industry. If it wasn't for the networking opportunities, Interbike would already have moved, or done something different.  Interbike moving to an earlier date is thought to be a move to regain its former position as the prominent show on the schedule for the industry. #2: Anaheim Convention Center will (hopefully) be cheaper for the bicycle industry to operate in.

Sounds good on the surface, but I am hearing some grumblings from dealers and other sources. One dealer said to me that Las Vegas, although not a paragon of cycling culture and morality, is the cheapest flight and the cheapest stay for dealers. Anaheim will be more expensive, pricing some dealers out of coming at all. Secondly, the earlier date was pointed to as a reason that some dealers I spoke with were considering not showing up. Many are still in the meat of the selling season in August and thinning the staff at that time to send someone to Interbike is not an option.

Will It Even Matter? The biggest question still out there is "Will moving Interbike and its date even matter?" I would have to say that without the bigger companies commitment to coming to Interbike, and instead, having their own private "dealer camps", Interbike will be ineffectual as a place for the independent bicycle dealer to come to for an overview of what to expect in the coming year. The other thing is that with Sea Otter in the spring, and Eurobike located where it is, I don't see Interbike gaining back much, if any, relevance in as far as introductions of new products and innovations that would draw dealers and the media alike.

In the end, at least for now, we'll show up in Anaheim next year and find out what, if anything, really changes.

From A Big Wheeled Perspective: Interbike wasn't very noteworthy, unless you consider Salsa Cycles saving all their introductions for Interbike. (Someone at the Interbike home office should send Salsa Cycles a big fat "thank you check" for doing that for them.) Had Salsa leaked or outright introduced all they had to offer at Eurobike, (and they could have), there would have been nearly nothing to report on from my viewpoint at Interbike.

Certainly, the North American continent will always attract some attention from 29"er companies with introductions and innovations, but if Europeans start buying up 29"ers, like I think they will in 2011, you can bet that 29"er manufacturers will be lavishing attention on that market firstly, since there is a big potential for growth in that market right now. Eurobike 2011 could be very, very interesting from that standpoint.

Maybe the big wheeled party will be in Germany next year. Who'da thunk it!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Local Scene: The Kickstand

I live in an area that is a unique one with a pretty strong cycling culture. I figured that I would start a series of posts under the moniker, "The Local Scene", in which I could talk about some things we have going on here in regards to cycling and its related activities. 

I'd like to kick that off with a visit I made to a new local establishment that has tied its fortunes to the local trail scene, The Kickstand. It's a coffee shop and more....

I live in an area where there are a lot of paved bicycle paths. The oldest and most well known of these, (an image of which is shown here), runs through a State Park, but we have close to, if not over, 100 miles of paved bike paths that are really nice.

As you can imagine, these are quite a draw. In fact, we have tourism based on these paths as a destination for cyclists from around the country. Since that is the case, a local couple decided to open a coffee shop near the trail system in hopes of garnering some business from trail users and make some new friends along the way. The place is called "The Kickstand", fittingly enough.

The Kickstand is located a stones throw off the trail on 12th Street just before you cross Dry Run Creek going south away from Cedar Falls. The bike path runs about 50 yards from The Kickstand's front door, which is located on the patio behind the owner's home. It's pretty nice and intimate, and on a nice day, you can sit around at tables provided outside, or step in to the cozy confines of the coffee shop itself.

<===The Kickstand is located behind the home of Heidi and Steve Aldrich, which is located at 317 East 14th Street just off 12th, shown here. (That's their home in the image)

I decided to stop in on Friday and have a look-see. It was a beautiful early fall day and the weather was great. Heidi Aldrich, one of the proprietors, was  behind the counter and greeted me with a warm smile. I ordered up a "pour through" coffee. Yeah.....I had never heard of that before, so I had to try it out.

 <===A "pour through" happening right before my very eyes!

Well, it wasn't long before I had chosen a dark roast from about four types of coffee available for a pour through and watched as Heidi "poured through" some hot water on the grounds and then the coffee came dripping out into an awaiting cup. Cool!

And it tasted fantastic as well.

But that isn't all The Kickstand does....oh no! They had pies with your choice of whipped cream or ice cream toppings, and the pie could be heated up. They had some other pastries and sodas to wash it down with if coffee isn't your thing. Heidi also showed me some cold pressed coffee which tasted very good! I think they even had a few souvenir trinkets and what nots to sell as well.

<===The Kickstand has a cozy, warm, inviting atmosphere.

As I sat and consumed my delicious coffee, Heidi explained to me that she and Steve want to start bringing in some entertainment and grow the business as a place to go for all trail users and even those that come by car!

I figured I'd even use The Kickstand as an excuse to roll my upcoming Salsa Cycles Mukluk out for a December cruise and warm up inside with a hot, steamy cuppa-joe, then return to Waterloo afterward. (That's right, I am buying a snow bike!) 

The business is still being fine tuned, but it is well worth a stop and the coffee is black and really good! I give it a hearty recommendo. Check out The Kickstand soon, ya'all!

Friday, September 24, 2010

So, What Did You See That Was "Hot"? At Interbike?

Ahhhh! The question most on people's lips when I say I was at Interbike. Even vendors ask you this. I have a theory that it is a default pleasantry that seems better than saying, "how are ya doin'?", or the standard, "Boy, the weather sure is nice/bad!"

Be that as it may, here is your answer.............

The Salsa Cycles Spearfish is a value packed sub-6lb FS frame that should be on any privateers racers radar for 2011.

You're going to see a lot of these at events in the coming years.

The Breezer carbon (and aluminum, which are similar),  models should be a very different feel from standard fare in the crowded 29"er hard tail market for 2011.

Tight wheel base, innovations in the details, and according to Grannygear, a sweet, supple ride, should make this stand out and according to Joe Breeze, be perfect for the mid-west's "tight twisties".

I think Twenty Nine Inches is getting one to test, so we may find out soon enough.

Old news if you have attended NAHBS, but this Renovo is entirely hand crafted from laminated wood, and it is said to be a light and lively bicycle.

Reminds me of a Chris Craft boat!

Yes, even the fork is wood with wood inserts on the head set cups. Probably the most intricately designed bike at the show. 

Greg Matyas of Speedway Cycles showed this steel "Fatback" snow bike. What a sweet looking snow rig!

Note the polished rims with reflective rim tape peeking out from the drilled out windows in the rim.

Titanium seat post, specially designed crank set for Fatback by The Hive, and a Larry front/Endomorph rear tire round out this capable snow bike design.

How can you not like a 36"er?

Check it out- Belt driven, custom titanium strut fork and handle bars all by Black Sheep Cycles.

Greg Herbold's vintage time machine 1993 Miyata FS rig. He actually raced this "back in the day".

Anodized heaven!

Can you imagine what else H-Ball has in his garage?

Santa Cruz came to the Outdoor Demo in this sweet vintage bus painted in Union Pacific Railroad livery.

Definitely one of those, "Whoa! Will ya look at that!" moments.

Have a great weekend! Ride your bikes folks!

More Interbike ramblings are coming soon..........

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Road Home

<===A deserted DFW airport at 5:16am, Thursday, September 23rd...

A spooky full moon rose up in an orange haze over eastern Las Vegas, Nevada Wednesday evening as Grannygear and I sat down to a delicious Del Taco meal on a seedy stretch of Tropicana Boulevard. It would be our last hour together and the last time ever, (maybe), that we would both ever be in Las Vegas for that Interbike madness. 

Someone at the show must have read my earlier blog post because they exclaimed that I must not like Vegas all that much since I was having such a terrible time at Outdoor Demo. Well, there was a fair bit of hyperbole and sarcasm in that post, folks, so take it all with a grain-o-salt and move along. I'm just having some fun here. (That said, it was hot!)

We sauntered over to McCarran International a short way back towards The Strip after eating where Grannygear dropped me off and I went into my annual McCarran International sabbatical/endurance writing mode. Grannygear made the long trek back over the mesas, valleys, desert, and mountains back to his abode, while I prepared to bang the ends of a couple of my digits on spring loaded plastic buttons, otherwise known as a keyboard.

Endurance writing, you say? Yes, I do say. If you are quick on the uptake, you'll note that I said, "..I prepared to bang the ends of a couple of my digits...". That's right, I am whatcha call a "henpecker typist". It takes me five times as long to type anything as your Grandma can. What's that you say? Grandma is dead and buried these 20 years now? Trust me....

She types faster than I do!

So taking the time I have to wait at McCarran to write up stuff for Twenty Nine Inches is no big deal, but writing up and editing even one article can take me.......well, I'd rather not say. Somebody might decide to send over a forensic unit to see if I am decaying!

That said, I was banging away when I realized that the loud speakers in the waiting area at my gate were playing "Funky Town" and specifically the chorus, over and over and over and over, and........well, you get the idea. It must have been a dance mix because every so often a husky male voice would chime in, "He's so funky people!" Okay. It's cool for 30 seconds, then..........after two straight hours? Yeah. Two hours! I think it was a mind control thing.


 I got productive, typed and banged away for well over two straight hours, and then settled back for a 2.5 hour moonlit night ride in a germ tube to DFW. When I got there, I was met by perhaps the most sarcastic gate agent ever. A younger lady was telling people which gates their connections could be boarded at. The guy in front of me got the following:

"That's Gate number B-29 sir. You take a path to your right. There you go now. Gee, if you move any slower you'll miss the connection" 

I was pretty tired, and wasn't up to giving her a snappy intro, so I just blurted out "Des Moines" when it was my turn. She stopped, looked me in the eye, and sad, "Good morning sir." (Pause for effect)

I didn't let her jump back in, because I could see the door opening for her, and I took it back and closed it by staring her right back in the eyes and saying, "Good Morning. How are you?" (Insert slightly irritated, sarcastic tone here) She exchanged the pleasantry, and then tried to give me some witty directions as a come back, to which she received a dead pan stare into the eyes.  I shuffled off in the general direction she had indicated, only to discover two hours later that the gate assignment had changed and I had 20 minutes to get over there. No problem. I made it.

The rest was fairly uneventful, and I am back, ensconced in the Guitar Ted Laboratories once more. Oh yeah.......did I say I was "Endurance Writing"? Well, I still am, right at this very moment as I type this out, I have been up for 39.75 hours so far.

Sleep. It's what's for dinner!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's The People Ya'all

Ya know, when I go to these cycling related gatherings, (Interbike, Sea Otter, and Trans Iowa come to mind immediately), I always lament that I don't get to sit down and spend more time with the people. 

Every business has great people, but I am willing to bet that the ratio of "super cool folks" is higher in cycling than any other sport. Really. I'd almost bet the farm on that.

It really is a shame when you see someone, exchange smiles and pleasantries, and say, "Whelp, I gotta get to......." Yeah.......That sucks. In one way though, it probably wouldn't happen as often at these gatherings if people weren't going to and fro like chickens with their heads cut off. (If you had lived on a farm in the Mid-West, that last phrase would totally make sense to you. If not,'s kinda gruesome!)

Anyway, that's the part I don't like and totally relish, all at the same time. Maybe I'm a softie, I don't know, but this wouldn't be near as fun, or even worthwhile without the folks I meet, however briefly it may be for.

So, as I sit here in the airport, looking forward to getting home to see my wife and family, I will also add that I am really happy I came to Interbike, just to see the people.

I'll miss you all........till next time.

Goodbye Bootleg Canyon

<===="Shiggy" and "Francious" from fame.

Well, today was the last day of riding for me at Bootleg Canyon. I can't imagine I'll ever come up to ride here again. I think the trails are awesome, don't get me wrong, but the dust and heat are not appealing to me. Well.......maybe in February. Yeah.....probably then it would be nice!

But, this place is on the way to nowhere else I would ever go to around here, so I just don't see it happening.

To mark the occaision, I collected some genuine Bootleg Canyon dust for my Dirt Museum. Expect a new bag to be hung up at the shop, Bootleg Canyon Dirt-in-a-Bag, soon.

<=====Affordable, light, and efficient, what's not to like?

The Spearfish is going to be a popular bike, I'm thinking. Mix a low price of $999.00 for a sub six pound frame with an efficient suspension platform tailor made for Mid-West single track and you've got a recipe for some big sales. But one must know a few things going in.

To be perfectly clear, to my mind, this isn't a "plush", "comfy", or "smooth" suspension bike. It works best when you are feeling some small degree of small trail chatter. Medium to bigger hits? Okay. The suspension works much like a Big Mama at that point. But this bike, which is a racer's rig for long rides and endurance events, is definitely tuned for efficiancy and covering ground at a rapid pace.

So, there wil be more coming on the Spearfish soon, but now, it's time to say goodbye to Bootleg Canyon and hello to the Sands Convention Center.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Interbike Outdoor Demo or Dante's Inferno?

<==="The Masses" prepare to invade Hell

Well, it's the last Interbike to be held in Las Vegas for the foreseeable future. Like a spurned lover, Las Vegas is not letting go easily. In fact, it is down right nasty!

On the way out, I heard that the temperatures were into the low 100's in the Vegas area. Okay, no big, right? I mean, it's a dry heat!

Yeah............right! Dry like the air coming out of a hair dryer. In fact, if you want to know what it's like to be at Bootleg Canyon, just grab a hair dryer, put it on high, blow it at your head while tossing dust all over yourself. Yep, that's it. That's exactly it!

<===Demo Ken rockin' the Trek tent. (Here he's tellin' the "roadie" to get some "real pedals".

Okay, so on every trip, you forget something, right? Hopefully, it isn't anything significant, or necessary. In my case, I did the unthinkable. I forgot my pedals. This is as bad as forgetting clean underwear, for those that are not understanding. Fortunately, "Demo Ken" from the Trek Tent saved my bacon and set me up with a pair to use both days.

I don't care what Jon Burke says, Demo Ken rules! (Thanks man!) So, I was able to actually demo a few bikes. However; the air, if you can call it that, was making my throat so raspy I was almost losing my voice at times. Like John Mellencamp, but I wasn't singing "Pink Houses". I was sucking hot air, by the liters!

<===Vance McCaw wins the Best Footwear Award at Interferno's Outdoor Demo!

The heat was crazy. Las Vegas was hating on us to the tune of triple digits and winds gusting to at least 30mph at times that whipped the dust into a frenzy. I don't think we can get out of this place soon enough.

Vendor count was way down, the folks there were low in numbers, and it was miserable in the desert this time. Talk about brutal! I sure hope that it's nicer for Day Two. But you know, spurned lovers like Las Vegas, with no compunctions morally, well......I ain't expectin' the heat to get turned down anytime soon!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just A Few Words Before We Begin....

With Interbike on the doorstep, I wanted to give my thoughts on where I think big wheeled bikes stand going in. Of course, I may have a totally different viewpoint coming out the other side of this, but I really don't think so. Here's what I see going on from where I sit.

First things first: Anybody who doesn't think this European blast of 29"ers isn't going to amount to anything better reconsider that position. Here's a couple of reasons why. The first comes from my earlier post this month on my thoughts about Eurobike where I described the effects of World Cup racing on 29"ers and the manufacturers getting behind the wheel size in big numbers:

"It all added up to what may be a perfect storm of sorts for fans of big wheelers. Not only were the people interested and curious about 29"ers, there was plenty of product to satisfy that curiosity there at the show. (Eurobike) This will now be an interesting thing to watch: That being how the European cycling community reacts to what they have now seen and tried at the show. If the dealers sell through the hard tails they are testing the waters with for 2011, I think it will bode very well for 29'er aficionados all over the world. More components, more bicycles, and more designs will be produced. Already we are seeing several new tire designs being promised at Eurobike 2010. " 

I really believe that component choices and tire choices will proliferate due to this happening. Secondly, my contributor from Europe to Twenty Nine Inches, "c_g", recently e-mailed me his thoughts on what is happening "on the ground" there in Europe and all signs point to 29"ers not only sticking around there, but becoming a "big deal" of sorts.  The mindset of the press, the manufacturers, and even the riders has become one of encouraging and support towards the wheel size, which is a huge change from the apathy noted as recently as last spring.

So, the bottom line there is: Europe will heavily influence the 29"er scene in the coming months and years.

Next we have a burgeoning long travel/AM/DH niche that is showing stronger signs of catching some legs and growing beyond just being a curiosity. Down hill pros are starting to take a serious look at 29 inch wheels and with a few more component and tire developments, I believe we will start to see some serious usage of big wheeled DH bikes in some big events that have courses suited to 29"ers.

I'll admit two things about those thoughts up front. #1: I didn't seriously believe it would happen as recently as the beginning of this year, and #2: It will be awhile in coming. Unless we get blown away at Interbike by some new Rock Shox Boxxer 29"er or a Fox DH 29"er fork, some serious 2 ply DH tires, and a few more rim choices beyond the excellent Sun Ringle' MTX-33's, then I just think the pros will sit and wait. I don't think there is any doubt that some of the better riders are looking at 29"ers and thinking seriously about the prospects. In fact, I've read quotes to that effect already. So, it's coming, but maybe not just quite yet.

Who'da thunk it!

Then there is the already established long travel 29"er scene, which is where I believe the growth will be in big wheels as far as bikes, components, and tires in the coming year. There are a lot of rumors floating out there about single crown and dual crown forks in the 140 plus travel range that are being tested and once they hit, there are designs already in the can from the major manufacturers waiting to use them. Tires will be there, rims will follow, and long travel 29"ers with 5 + inches front and rear will soon be as commonplace as 26"er models.

Another thing "they" said "would never happen" in 2005 is coming true right before our eyes. 

And what about 650B? A well known mainstream cycling media writer recently Tweeted that he thought 650B was a "flash in the pan". Brutal? Maybe.....but that is looking to be accurate. For what ever reasons you want to bandy about, 650B just doesn't seem to be doing anything beyond the "niche of a niche" predictions I had for it going in back in 2007. (When the wheel size was heralded as the next thing in big wheeled mountain biking) Pundits proclaimed that 650B would be where 29"ers were in 2007 by 2010. Then the economy went south, and so seemingly did any hopes for the 650B wheel to take root. Again, you can tie this lackluster enthusiasm for the "B Wheels" to anything you like. But when Pro mountain bikers from the Woman's ranks go to 29"ers, and when long travel bikes with 29 inch wheels actually do work without compromising much- if anything, and when the whole of the European continent summarily disregards 650B, (the birthplace of the wheel size, for cryin' out loud), then one has to wonder if the standard really isn't just a "flash in the pan".

Interbike may breathe some life back into the 650B wheel, but unless there is some big component news, a few new 650B models shown, or a new tire or two, I will have to say that the wheel size is slipping into the shadows at a rapid pace. Sure, it will be around, but the reality seems to be that it will not be something very noteworthy in the years to come. And I want this to be clear: My thoughts are in regards to 650B mountain bikes specifically. The road side of 650B actually shows more signs of life, ironically.

Finally- will there be a belt drive 29"er that makes sense? Interbike is going to be the show where a "new development" in belt drive single speeding is set to debut that promises to fix some of the short comings of the much ballyhooed Gates Carbon Belt Drive. I am going to be looking at this very carefully, because #1: I am a skeptic when it comes to replacing anything on a bicycle with well over 100 years of successful use. (ie: The Chain). #2: I am very skeptical when something new makes claims about the "shortcomings of _____" when those alleged "shortcomings" are not at all a problem. So it will be with a very careful eye that I will look upon this "new development" and you can bet that if it does work, I'll say so. Look for my take after Interbike.

Okay, that's enough of my ramblings. I've got to finish packing! I will be in Vegas in less than 24 hours............

Friday, September 17, 2010

Recon Ride II

d.p. said it had been waaaaay too long since we had done this. He was right. It had been! I almost forgot how to get my hack job lights set up on my bike and helmet it had been so long since I had ridden at night with anybody.

My helmet light, a Coleman LED torch, was cutting out tonight, but my Eveready handle bar lamp was doing great. I think my son has been messing with my light and perhaps the switch is messed up. Oh well! It was cheap and I know where to get another in case I need to get one.

I met d.p. at an undisclosed rural Iowa town that I had never been to before for this "Vitamin G" session. It's always fun exploring new places, even if by night.

We were out for about two hours and the gravel was fast, fun, and very, very dusty! My shoes were all white when I looked at them when I got back home.

We're pretty pumped about the stuff we're putting into the Trans Iowa V7 course.  We also discussed some logistics and some protocol for registration. look for announcements on registration and how it will be different soon!

Well, that's it for this week. I'm off to Las Vegas for Interbike on Sunday, so posts will be sporadic next week, but I should find time to post some fun things and maybe a juicy tidbit or two. Have a great weekend and go ride that bike!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Leaves Of Fall

I rode the north side of Camp Ingawanis Wednesday on a great early fall day. Fall is definitely in the air. Leaves were gently falling, littering the trail. They were getting in between places on the frame and buzzing the tire. That's a sound I haven't heard in awhile.

I also have been getting into the nettles. Sticking to my socks, they are a sure sign that the season is changing.

It's a welcomed thing after such a long, hot summer that was pretty brutal on me. Not to mention all the wet weather, which came at intervals that seemed to always make riding out at the Camp a "no-go". Now it is dry, and the camp trails have been groomed. It was perfect!

That said, don't be going out there this weekend! The North side is closed to cyclists due to an archery shoot that will be going on.

There was enough water this year that there are some "perma-mud" holes out at the Camp now. They are all rideable, and nothing to be concerned about in terms of trail damage, but they are mucky-yucky! Pure black silt that feels like some sort of special beauty cream. (Probably does have some beneficial qualities for the skin, or at least my legs are hoping so!)

In fact, there is every kind of condition out there right now. Sand, mud, tacky clay, dry dirt, and rock hard dirt with a dusting of sandy dirt. It makes for a fun ride, and especially so when you add in the pine needle duff that you ride on through "The Pines" section. (What a clever name, eh? <===ha!)

One thing is certain- the trails won't be clear like this much longer! Leaves, and lots of them, will be snowing the trails under soon enough, and we'll be riding on a crunchy carpet of leaves that hides all the roots and other obstacles.

Oh yeah, and don't forget about nuts! This must be a banner year for acorns and walnuts. I have never seen so many on the ground, nor heard so many crashing down to the ground as I have so far this fall. Be careful out there! You might tick off a fat squirrel and  find yourself dealing with furry ball of fury!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bikepacking Feedback

<==image from "Outdoor Equipment Supplier"

First of all, thanks for all the great feedback that you readers supplied me regarding the "Well, That Didn't Work Part II" post I did and specifically to the bikepacking advice I got from you in comments and e-mails. I read through all the supplied links and did even more researching through links provided to me by my writing cohort, Grannygear.

I'm about tarped/bivy'ed/tented out! All the info makes my head spin, and the prices?

You're kidding me! THAT much money for a tarp?!!

Anyway, I thought I'd get back to all of you that I mentioned I would, and give you the whole premise behind this madness. Grannygear came up with this idea, and I'd said I was interested. He calls it: "Bikepacking the Dirtbag Way". (I thought it was just being "Scottish", but hey! Who am I to say!) The premise arose out of Grannygear's experience getting a whole Carousel Designs frame bag/seat bag/bar bag set up for his Lenz Sport Leviathan full suspension device. It was costly. Well made stuff, and it works well, but whoo-boy! You'd have to forfeit a lot of money to get in on the action, and that's just frame bags. Isn't there a cheaper way to jump in? That's the idea here.

Pre-requisites for me are rain protection, wind protection, and bug protection. Humidity needs to be controlled to an extent. And finally, I really won't be in any alpine conditions, so having features that fit mountaineering don't really interest me.

By nature, this whole "Bikepacking the Dirtbag Way" fits minimalism and getting by with less. Less is cheaper, and that is important. For instance, I could get by without a stove or heat source. Shocking, I know. Especially for coffee drinkers, but here, where I'll be "doing my thing", food and drink is readily available, portable, and preserved within an inch of its life. Now maybe if I go camping in winter, I'll change my tune, but until then.....

The thing is, I have all fall and winter to sort this out, and in the meantime, I could use that "coffin I call a tent", as one e-mailer put it, and "get by" for now. I just wanted to explain this whole thing a bit more clearly and thank all of you out there who cared enough to share. It helps a lot!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Illicit Activities

Weird stuff happens at everybody's jobs, but here are a few things we ran across at the bike shop back in the day.....

With the amount of people and repairs we got in through Advantage Cyclery, we were bound to run into a few odd things. Certainly these I relate here today are some of the most memorable to me.

Gun Totin' Cyclists: Believe it or not, but we actually ran across some "heat" while repairing some bicycles in the shop. I remember one bicycle in particular that was outfitted with a rack and a trunk bag. The mechanic working on the rig at the time was bellowing something about the bike weighing a ton, and how he couldn't get it into the work stand without nearly getting a hernia. I didn't pay much attention, since, well......about every other bike weighed 40-50lbs! Nothing new there.

However; this one was heavier metal than most! The mechanic had to put something into the trunk bag, a set of instructions for a computer, or some other bit, and saw something shiny and black glinting inside. It was a hand gun! Well, the word went around the shop like wildfire that "Ya better watch out for "so-and-so, because he's packin' heat!"  And of course, various comments grew out of that immediately. Well, Tom was wandering through later and caught wind of this. He wasn't at all amused.

He arranged to meet with the customer to discuss "the piece" and that he didn't really appreciate that a hand gun was left in the shop's care. The customer apologized, and explained that since he rode through what he felt were unsavory parts of the city, he needed to have some "protection", but he was not going to leave the gun in his trunk bag if he dropped the bicycle off again. He didn't either.....well, most of the time!  We always checked the bag every time he dropped the rig off after that, and he was like anybody else. He forgot once in awhile!

Ya Put Yer Weed In There! Of course, there are a lot of cyclists that smoke the "mary-jane" and of course, we would smell it on the bikes, or come across "the leavins" in bags and what not while we did repairs. We even found pills and some other funny business on rare occasions. No surprise there, as it was well known at Advantage Cyclery that certain middle aged men would gather on their bikes, hit up the shop just before closing time on Friday night, head over to "Mainly Lou's" to get a little "lubed up", and then head out to Black Hawk Park for "the illegal stuff". Funny thing about that is a couple of these fellows are now "public servants".  (No names here!) Most of that circle of miscreants were steady Advantage Cyclery customers back in the day.

Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette! The last story here isn't so much about illegal substances, or bad behavior that would land you in jail, or even about concealed weapons, but was notorious for a similar reason. We had a customer with a mail order tandem that reeked so badly of cigarette smoke we actually parked it outside the entire time we were open just to air it out and keep it from stinking up the shop. The bike earned the captain the nickname of "Smoker", as he was known to ride and toke at the same time. I don't think I can stress to much how bad this ashtray of a bike reeked. Really. It was absolutely amazing, and yes, the guy had a heart attack and still rides and smokes to this day. Weird.

Next week, I'll be at Interbike in Lost Wages, Nevada, so Bike Shop Tales will be on hiatus until the last week of this month.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Recon Ride

I got out this weekend and drove to an undisclosed rural Iowa location for some Trans Iowa V7 recon. I usually don't get to do recon by bicycle, but the weather this weekend was awesome, and I needed a ride in the country badly, so I took the Fargo and had an adventure on some roads I had never been on before.

Some of the roads I saw won't be on Trans Iowa V7, but were so cool looking I had to go down them and have a look see anyway. It is a blast to go off in any direction you want with little to no agenda. Be that as it may, I did try to maintain focus!

Some of the ride was pretty brutal. Roller coaster-like hills that made my heart rate skyrocket. I worked pretty hard up against some steep hills and some wind.

Not that I am complaining, mind you. The scenery was spectacular and the day was perfect. I didn't even get chased by a dog! Now that's saying something! The dust was all beaten down by some showers that passed through the area, and the dirt I rode was spectacularly smooth and fast.

Not that the dirt will be this way come April 2011! Maybe it will be, but it may not, and then it will suck. Who knows what the weather will be like then? It sure was the furthest thing from my mind while I pedaled away the miles.

I am excited for this section to become part of the course. It will be a big challenge. There is one wee bit o dirt, but a whole lotta hills, and great scenery. d.p. and I have discussed the course and a rough draft is being formulated. We're planning some more "recon by bike" sessions, and I will be really looking forward to that. It's a whole different way of doing things than we have done before, but changes are good, and this change is fun. I wish we could do the whole course on bicycle, but that is unlikely. Still, we have done a fair bit of it already by bicycle, so I am happy about that much. 

Stay tuned for more recon reports and registration announcements soon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

From The Fire Into The Frying Pan

<===The view from Circus Circus in '09

Interbike decided to stop going to Las Vegas.

My first reaction is "Awesome!" I am not at all a fan of Las Vegas and what it represents. Call me crazy, but I always feel slimy and spent in spirit once I leave the place. It isn't at all pleasant.

No offense to the residents there, and I will admit, if you get away from "The Strip" it becomes much like any other Southwestern desert town, but Interbike is held in the heart of "The Strip". When you attend the show, you are swimming in the cesspool of what I feel is the worst part about Las Vegas. Again, that's maybe just me, your mileage may vary.

Of course, if Interbike is leaving Las Vegas, it has to go somewhere. They were thinking of either Salt Lake City or Anaheim, California. I've been to both places. They both could work for holding a bicycle trade show. Maybe logistically SLC has a bit of a disadvantage with the demo area being so far away. (Admittedly, I don't know where the demo area is at Anaheim).

Well, they chose Anaheim. Let's just look at that for a second. Dealers didn't really warm up to being in Las Vegas, saying it was "anti-bike culture" and well, I've a feeling a lot of folks were feeling the "slime", just like I did. However; if Las Vegas isn't "bike culture, (and make no mistake, it isn't), then how can going into the heart of "car culture" be more appealing? (Shrugging shoulders) That's just odd.

Now let's look at something else they did. Interbike changed the dates for the show. Feeling pressure from Eurobike, brands holding dealer camps, and from some new start ups, (Dealer Camp, Outerbike), I think Interbike's think tank decided a date change was necessary. They went to an earlier date of August 1st-2nd for the Outdoor Demo and August 3rd-5th for the show indoors. Bottom line: Bad idea for a lot of  independant bicycle dealers. They are still in the thick of selling season at this time. Do you think an owner, managers, or staff will be able to go frolic amongst the cars and smog of the LA basin during early August?

I don't think so, and these are the folks that Interbike needs to have come to the show.

On one hand I'm glad this is the last trip to Vegas for Interbike, but on the other hand, I am not very convinced they made good moves with regards to the place and dates for Interbike 2011.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Well, That Didn't Work! Part II

<===We were extremely excited to see that the nylon sarcophagus was nearly 100% intact, even after all these hours!

Okay, here's the lowdown on my tent/bivy experience. I tried it the other night after the kids went to bed and everything had settled down. I said goodnight to Mrs. Guitar Ted and sauntered out into the back yard with my ThermoRest, down bag, and an LED torch lighting the way.

I was planning on using the empty stuff sack for my down bag and my Marmot PreCip jacket, all rolled up inside of it, as a pillow. I figured this would be the most likely scenario if I was on a "real" bikepacking trip.

<====After breaking the Eternal Seals, we were amazed at the interior of the sarcophagus. How could such a man of International Intrigue fit into such a tiny death bed? 

Anyway,  I "slid" into the tent, (and I mean slid!), zipped up, and settled in for the night. It didn't really seem all that bad at first. I had a decent flow of air over me, and I was coolish, which I took to be a good sign.

I did have a bit of trouble falling asleep though, drat that cup of late night coffee! I should know better! But, I did eventually nod off. It wasn't feeling all that great in terms of the pillow idea though. It was woefully undersized for where I like to place it and how high I like my head up. Still, I did actually fall completely asleep.

Then, at about 2:30am, I woke up with a start. I had the sensation of being under a cover and suffocating. I wasn't, but my heart was pounding and I was damp with sweat. The air in the tent was stifling and I needed to open the door up. I decided to prop the outer door up and allow the air to get in there as well. This felt much better, but by this time, I was fed up with the pillow deal, and I needed to relieve myself anyway. I bailed out at 3am and went into the house.

Okay, so I needed a better pillow and better ventilation. But here is the rub: It was 57 degrees out last night. 57! If it were summer, this tent would be waaay too hot. I can't imagine using it during a summer like we just had. High humidity, low winds, and high temps would be no good for this tent and I.

I will be trying it some more, but I am hoping for some colder weather as well. For warmer temps? I'm thinking a tarp tent. But what about bugs?

Got any recommendations folks?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday News And Views

Rawland Asks Your Opinion: Rawland Cycles is asking for input on a re-design of the Sogn. Check out the blog here and weigh in. The re-design is going to focus on a non-mountain bikish, rig that would be a different rig than the current offerings that Rawland has.

I will say that since Rawland started out as a 650B specific company, you'll run into a lot of 650B banter in the comments, but don't let that stop ya! I have to ask though, "What does a 650B tire, in any size/width, on a more road-ish bike, do better than a 700c one, other than be different for different's sake? Maybe someone could chime in here on that. It would seem that the road going brethren have chosen 700c as the optimal size, but maybe I'm reading this all wrong.

I'll say one thing, I don't know that I've ever seen one single 650B bike at a gravel event that I've put on, or attended. Mountain bikes, yeah....that's a different story, but not on a "rough road" bike.   Anyway.....

Bikepacking: So this has been too long in coming, but I have finally gotten my mitts on a proper bicycling/camping tent. This is a Topeak "Bikamper" tent/bivy dealio. It is a bit unique in that it is held up with a combination of stakes, guy lines, and bicycle tubes. (You could use a 26" front wheel on the "big" end, but I don't have bikes that fit those wheels) The thing with the tubes is kind of cool, but also a bit puzzling, since the "little" end uses a 16" tube, which you might have on a trailer, but still. Weird.

I have not spent any time to speak of in such a tiny tent since my youth when I had a "pup tent". This is, by far, even smaller than that. Very cozy! I'll do some following up on this experiment, but I may be looking into something else later.

So I will now have to do some other gear experimentation, but it is looking as though I am finally going to start doing this. It's been a long time coming. Too long!

Trans Iowa V7- Floating Some Ideas: I have been kicking around a few ideas on the course and for registration with d.p. via e-mail. We're forging a clearer picture of T.I.V7 now  and I hope to make an announcement concerning the registration process soon. We've got a lot of options on the table for completing the "big assed loop", much of it already figured out, but we also have quite a ways to go concerning the details. So far, we've got one, possibly two, checkpoints arranged and at least the first third of the route drafted out. My hope is that d.p. and I can arrange for some more night time gravel grinding "think tank-recon rides" to fine tune things further.

I think the roster size will be tried at 100 to start out with. Keep in mind that traditionally, we've been lucky to get over 50 people to show up on average for all the versions that we've done, even with T.I.V3's "unlimited" roster limit. My sincere feeling is that if we get 75-80 folks in the end it will be a miracle, and that would most likely be the most we'd ever get even if we said, "Come one, come all". (Which we are not going to do, for several reasons)

Have a great weekend and ride yer bicycle somewhere!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thursday News And Views

No Crashing Report: Sorry to report that I rode yesterday and no crashes happened. So.....move along now! There's nothing to see here!

Ha! Well, I didn't ride all that long, because my wife, who is a Registered Nurse, (Now with a Bachelor's Degree!) said that I had deep tissue bruising, and that I needed to take it easy. Boy Howdy! She was right. I could only ride for a short period before my shoulder really started to feel weakened and sore. Good thing I stopped when I did. It'll be awhile before I can put in a long, rough ride.

<==image credit: "c_g"- From Twenty Nine Inches

Eurobike reports continue to trickle in and I must say that it would seem that everybody has some sort of carbon fiber 29"er in their line up. It will be very interesting to see how these big wheeled rigs with their longer tube sections and longer forks survive over the coming, (hopefully), years.

I happen to be riding a carbon fiber hard tail from time to time, and it appears to be very robust. I had big rocks bouncing off the thing in Texas, and mud and whatever else I throw at it hasn't phased it yet, but they say that when this stuff fails, it goes all at once, and that's the part that is worrisome. Still, from the sheer numbers of examples already in use, it would appear that carbon seems up to the task.

Speaking of Eurobike, and Niner Bikes, you might want to check out "c_g"'s report on Twenty Nine Inches.

Thoughts On Trans Iowa V7: So we're thinking about the roster and how many folks we want to let in. It seems that the dynamic around a big chunk of the gravel grinding scene has changed. More folks are wanting in on many of the events these days. However; we at Trans Iowa are not fully convinced this means us. Trans Iowa is, well.........pretty dang stupid really!  Yeah, so Almanzo gets 400 plus riders, (yet it is a hundy, so..), and the Dirty Kanza 200 sold out and expanded to 200 riders, (and as the name suggests, it is a 200 miler), but Trans Iowa is 300 PLUS miles and comes really early in the year.

It is my belief that there is only a limited number of insane people out there that would willingly train their arses off all winter to slog through 300 plus miles of Iowa gravel and mud in the early spring. Maybe I'm wrong, but I need to hear some convincing arguments. Otherwise I think we will only be adding 25 to our limit, bringing it up to a nice, round number of 100.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wednesday News And Views

Bike Shop Tales: So yesterday was Tuesday, but it probably felt like Monday to a lot of you, so today I'm putting an abbreviated "Bike Shop Tales" up for your reading pleasure.

Back in 1995, I bought an old, used Schwinn Voyaguer from Advantage Cyclery that I had convinced a fellow to trade in on a new Bianchi. That Schwinn was then sold to a fellow that did one of the "big" self-supported tours I wrote about in my "Touring Tuesdays" series a year or so ago. (You can enter "Touring Tuesdays" in the search box to read some of those posts)

Anyway, the blue beauty shown here is what has become of that bike. For more on how an old, beat up maroon Voyaguer became this beauty, see my old co-worker "A-Lo's" blog here for "the rest of the story".

Getting It Dialed: The Origin 8 Scout dumped me last weekend and I figured part of the problem was me, part was the conditions, and part of it was the set up. Well, I could do something about the set up!

I swapped out the Origin 8 stem for a longer stem, lowered that stem on the steer tube, and tweaked the "attitude" of the Carnegie's Bar. Bingo! I rode it again Monday afternoon and I could feel a big change to the positive in the handling. Now with some weight on that front wheel, I'll be good to go in that department.

Some readers may also remember that I had problems with the tensioners coming loose and the wheel getting wonky on me. Well, I believe that issue was solved with a Ny-loc nut on the threaded tensioner screw which is acting as a jamb nut against the front of the drop out. So far, so good. The test ride went well. The bike is comfortable, handles well with the new set up, and did what I expected of it. Only one downer: I took the saddle's nose in the "nether regions" and suffered a bit of intense pain for a while. Not unlike biting into a habanero, only "down there". Yeah......

Wha-Ohh!: I was riding the XT Dyna-Sys equipped Specialized yesterday. I decided to roll down to Lower Hartman on my way home for a quick bit of twisty single track. The drop in to Lower Hartman is paved, but it is pretty steep and does a nice right hand to left hand curve in the middle where you gain a ton of speed.

On the way in, I saw another cyclist, and that thing I despise about myself kicked in. You know- I just had to pass this guy. I hung back about 50 yards, following him into the approach to the downhill. Then I saw that he braked going into the right hander. That was it. I never touched the brakes. I caught him and dropped him like he was standing still. I flew the rest of the way down, made it on to the gravel road, and dove into the grass trail.

I didn't realize it until later, but I was in the big ring, so I carried a lot of speed into the single track. It felt good. I was getting a little too cocky though, and I ended up getting served my just desserts.  Around a sharp left hander I saw a huge blow down blocking the trail. I was startled by it, and I stabbed my brakes. Well, XT brakes are not very forgiving! I locked the front up, and the tire slid out, knocking the bead loose from the rim. This being a tubeless set up, I lost all the air, and really hit the deck hard guessed it- on my left knee and shoulder. Three times in the span of a week!

They say bad things come in threes, right?

Well, it wasn't all over yet for me. I had a tube, I had a pump, but I didn't have a way to loosen the overtightened Presta valve nut on the tubeless valve stem. Rats! I sat in the bright sunlight thinking. Frogs leapt about all around me, I was so quiet and still as I thought. I fiddled with a couple of ideas but to no avail. Then, in a last ditch effort, I searched my cavernous messenger bag again. 

Bingo! I found a tiny end cutter tool. I applied pressure very carefully, and got a good purchase on the nut. I was victorious! Ha ha! (Funny how such a little thing can become such a huge mountain, and when you remove it, you get all euphoric.)

Well, the tire got repaired, and I made it home, albeit about 45 minutes later than I should have. Mrs. Guitar Ted re-dressed the wound I biffed again, and life was good.

But I gotta get this crashing outta my system!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Trans Iowa V7

<===It's "Official" now!

Okay all you fellow gravel grinding freaks! It is on! The new version of Trans Iowa's website has been officially unveiled as of Monday. Thanks go to Trans Iowa co-founder, Jeff Kerkove, who has had the distinction of designing all seven of the T.I. sites headers.  

Even though Jeff has been gone to Colorado, and no longer helps put on Trans Iowa, I like to keep him involved in any way that I can, and designing the header every year is something that he seems to like to do, so it works out for everyone.

Enough about that. Here are some preliminary tidbits you can file away for now regarding T.I.V7. First off, it'll be run out of and, (hopefully!), back in to Grinnell, Iowa again, as it was planned this year. We will be holding the event, starting at 4am, on April 23rd-24th. There will be a mandatory pre-race meeting on Friday the 22nd in the evening. We will be increasing the roster limit to at least 100, (perhaps more), and we will be divvying up the available spots to reflect the demand from "Rookies" to get in. There will be a chunk of spots allocated to the Rookies, the Finishers, and The Veterans of past Trans Iowa events. Just how this will be allocated has yet to be determined, but we will give you the lowdown before the traditional late November registration time. 

The route will be a new one and should entail all of 320 miles, maybe more. More course info, checkpoint data, and time cut offs will be announced later.

You have a little over seven months to prepare.


Monday, September 06, 2010

A Weekend Off

It was a weekend off the bike, but that didn't mean I was stuck inside. I got to go on a hike with my two awesome kids in the local State Park, which is right in our "back yard" here in our city.

Part of the Park borders the Cedar River, and the other part borders some back waters, man made lakes, and some oxbow lakes which all make the area a magnet for all sorts of recreational activities, including hiking.

Seeing stuff you would normally have to drive tens or hundreds of miles to see in Iowa are right here. It makes a hike with my kids really great. They got to see a lot of wildlife and cool plant life.

Unfortunately, due to the copious amounts of standing, brackish waters, the mosquito population  is about as healthy as I've seen it too. We didn't stand in one place too long.

Still, it was a beautiful late summer day with my two great kids and we all had a great time.

There is more to life than bicycles, although this blog may not give you that feeling! Hopefully this post helps a bit in that way. 

Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

Well, it is Labor Day Weekend and I will be stuck at home, not riding, as my wife is on call at the hospital all weekend. I will be out with my amazing kids doing some fun, non-bicycle related adventures though. In the meantime, here are some photos with comments. I hope you enjoy them and that you have an awesome Labor Day weekend, where ever you are.

I went to an amusement park last weekend. These places must be a mechanical engineers dreamworld.

The wooden roller coaster was a paragon of flex! The whole structure moved a foot or more to the outside of the downhill curve when the cars passed by. Amazing! I bet a lot of folks wouldn't ride the contraption if they saw how much it moved and shook while folks went around the circuit.

Some crazy European 29"er goodness. More proof that the Euros will bring more options to big wheelers everywhere. (Once it catches on there- which it is well on the way to doing.)

Most promising rubber for 29"ers coming in 2010 for the Mid-West..........

Kenda's Slant 6

Maxxis Ikon.............

Michelin Wild Racer................

And I am sure there will be others!

Have a great weekend and roll those bicycle tires for the last blast of summer 2010! (Even though it feels very Fall-like here already!)