Wednesday, November 30, 2011

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Have you ever wondered why it was that your old bike when you were a kid hardly ever needed air in the tires? Have you noticed lately that tubes for bicycles, (that is- if you still use tubes), are seemingly smaller than you remember? There's a reason for all of that.

First of all, tires were a lot heavier than they are today. No......a lot heavier as in waaaay more than you think. We get to repair a lot of bicycles at the shop where I work, and there are a lot of oldies being drug out of the woodwork. Not 70's bikes either, I'm talking about 1960's and previous stuff, like this Carlisle tire I have pictured here.

There is an order of magnitude to how much lighter things have gotten in the past 40-50 years in regard to many of the bicycles average folk use. The first level was achieved when we got the "lightweight" bike boom in the 70's. Remember Schwinn Continentals and Varsitys? Yes, they were "lightweights" for the day. The 80's and 90's came and things got even lighter, but that's another story, and I think you get the picture here.

The point I am trying to make is that the heavier tires didn't leak air as fast as the lighter, thinner tires of today. Then there are the tubes that go inside of these tires. Once American Made, they are also much lighter and thinner than before.

Old tube on the left...
The Carlisle tire had its original 26" X 2.125" tube inside of it. For fun, I compared it to what goes for a 26" X 2.125" tube today. See anything different here?

There is more rubber in that old tube than there is in the replacement tire I put on the old rim! The wall thickness of this old tube is just about akin to what the thicker part of a thorn-proof tube has for rubber. Obviously, what passed for 2.125" in the 50's and 60's is not what we have for that measurement today. (Gee....I wonder if my old elementary school rulers were actually longer too?)

The combination of really heavy, thick tire and really heavy thick tube resulted in a product that obviously weighed far more than similar combinations today, took more effort to ride, and had far worse rolling resistance than modern tires and tubes. The upside here was that stuff lasted forever, (to wit: This tire and tube could still feasibly be ridden), and you hardly ever had flats or needed to maintain air pressure. Bad ride quality, more effort to pedal, but dad-gummit, that stuff lasted fer-ever, and I never had ta put air in them thar tires neither!

Oh how the times have changed!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Take On "11 Lessons"

I recently came across a series of posts on endurance racer and Trans Iowa Finisher/veteran Charlie Farrow's blog that lists "11 Lessons" from endurance racing by endurance racers. (You can go here, here, here, and here. for all the posts.)

Consider The Source!
Now you should read all those links. I did and there is a lot of Wisdom there. You might ask, what else could one possibly add to that pile-o-gems? Well, probably not a whole lot. That said, I've been around this gravel ultra-endurance and long distance racing scene on both sides of the fence- As an organizer/director and a participant. I feel compelled to underscore a few points I read in those excellent links and maybe add a point or two of my own.

The rules set out by Charlie were simple: List a point briefly, then add in an explanation for it.

So, with no further adieu, here in no particular order are my "11 Lessons" for your perusal.

  1. Know Your Equipment: As a mechanic, it sometimes amazes me that guys are futzing with things or getting knocked out by simple mechanicals right outta the gate at events I've been to. It goes without saying that you need to dial in your fitness, but you also need to dial in a good, basic knowledge of your rig and how to adjust it, repair it, and maintain it. It may save you an event, and it will satisfy your need to know you can trust your steed. Definitely spend some quality time getting to know your bicycle!
  2. Know What Equipment Works For You Ahead Of Time: This was one of my earliest lessons in long distance riding. You can go to forums and ask, you can go to your bike shop and ask, and you can ask your buddies, but you need to do due diligence when it comes to finding the right saddle, grips, pedals, clothing, not to mention training, and nutrition. Definitely ask, and listen, but you'll eventually have to put in a lot of training/experimental hours/miles in to find out what works, and what doesn't. There is no "easy button".
  3. Make A List, Check It Twice: I once ran into a fella that was a self-supported road touring machine. This guy had done thousands upon thousands of miles of touring, and when he found out I was going on a long trip by bike, he suggested I look at his list. He made a list of everything that went in each bag, and checked it off twice before leaving on tour. Sound overly-anal? Well, try it. You won't forget anything, and you will also have the opportunity to make a visual check on the amount of crap you are packing. (Hint: You may want to leave some of it behind!) How can you logically add or subtract from your kit without careful analysis? The list helps.
  4. Aretha Said It: RESPECT: Like the others have said, if you are not a bit nervous, fearful, or anxious, you may be setting yourself up for a fail, and you definitely aren't up for a true challenge. Challenges should be a bit scary, really. Then there is the respect you should have for the fellow competitors, the respect you should have for the venue, and the respect you should have for the volunteers and event leaders. Respect!
  5. Only The Lonely Can Play: While some of the most rewarding times at these events is the sharing during the suffering with fellow competitors, you should be prepared to be alone. Very alone. The ebbs and flows of long events sometimes will leave you out there by yourself, with no one at all in sight. I think this hits folks hardest that train all the time with others, but either way, its gonna happen. Don't let it sink you. I would advise that this is a gift that allows you to get to places within yourself that you otherwise would never get to. It is a gift that can't be found in our crazy, fast paced culture. Embrace the loneliness and find peace in it.
  6. You Can Choose Your Attitude: This can be a part of #5 above, but it goes beyond that. Sometimes situations arise that are negative, not of your choosing, and uncomfortable. I was in a night time gravel grinder where it was raining so hard I couldn't see five feet in front of me. It was pitch black, I was wet, and it was sketchy as all get out. At first, I was annoyed, but then I chose to marvel at the situation, and I actually laughed out loud. I could have pitched a fit and decided to quit. It was my choice. The rain wasn't my choice. I changed what I could change- my attitude.
  7. Break It Down: Others mentioned this as well, but it bears repeating. Look at the event before going into it as a series of challenges. Make little things that are achievable that when they are accomplished make you gain confidence. Got to Checkpoint #1! Woot! Now what is next? Do the next little thing, and add it to the list of accomplishments. I remember one time on a long ride I looked at my computer and thought I'd like to see it read in the 40's for mileage. Okay, when I got there, I decided that I could get it into the 50's, and so forth. It can be anything, but breaking an event down into bite sized chunks is a good strategy. What was that old saw about eating an elephant again? 
  8. Have A Plan: Work The Plan: Be Free To Change The Plan!: I think having a strategy going into an event is a good thing. That could be who you want to ride with, how you want to break the event down, (see #7), or what your nutrition plan is. Of course, having a plan doesn't do you a lick of good unless you can implement it. Practice "the plan" on a training ride or three to see if it needs tweaking- or not. (See #2) Finally, don't be afraid to adjust the plan during the event to allow for circumstances beyond your control, or to take advantage of opportunities. (See #6) Holding doggedly onto a plan that no longer will work due to changes in body functions, mechanical issues, weather, or what have you isn't going to lead to success. Be free to change when it makes sense to change. 
  9. The "One Hour Rule": I saw this pop up in a few of the others lists. I agree- Give yourself an hour to calm down, assess, rest, and adjust your plan, (see #8), before you decide to pull the plug. You still may end up doing just that, but at least you can rest assured you gave it the proper amount of time to make a decision. I came to this place at the DK 200 a year ago. I came into Checkpoint #1 dehydrated, weak, and dizzy. I ate some food, drank a lot of water, and rested for an hour. I didn't feel one whit better after an hour, so I pulled the plug. Maybe I would have come around though and been able to continue. I wouldn't have known had I stopped right when I arrived at the Checkpoint though.
  10. Consider An Exit Strategy: In these ultra long, self supported events, being able to extricate yourself from the course safely without issue is a good plan to have. That may include having a person available to come pick you up. It may mean that you have to be ready and willing to ride yourself out to civilization. This not only makes you responsible for you, as it should be,  but it takes a load off other competitors, and the folks running the event. Like the commercial says: "Know When To Say When", but also be able to take care of your own business if you do say "when". I don't think this is a negative or defeatist attitude, I think it is just being courteous and thoughtful towards the ones you love and love you, and your fellow racers and the directors of these fine events. (See #4)
  11. Be Thankful: Finally, I think this is the most important lesson. Be Thankful for your health, your opportunities, your folks that love you that allow for this weirdness, the fellow racers, the volunteers, the directors, the places you get to see, the experiences, and the successes and the failures. Express the thanks in practical ways and in ways that are sure to be appreciated by others. Look around you while you are in an event and be thankful you are doing what you came to do and prepared to do.
So, there ya go. That's my list. I hope you enjoy that and get something useful out of it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Well, Now I've Gone And Done It!

The Triple D Race is a winter race where contestants either run, ski, or bike a course that goes through Dubuque, Dyersville, and Durango, Iowa in one form or another. (The bikers use a different course than the runners and skiers)

I got a suggestion to enter into the Triple D last year when folks found out I was building up a Mukluk. Well, that bike didn't come together in time, and just as well, since even if it had, a mechanical in waiting would have put me out of the event in short order.

So I escaped dealing with any sort of winter bike event, that is until I got in CIRREM, which for all intents and purposes was a winter bike race event. (Which, by the way, will take place on February 25th this year) CIRREM was cold, snowy, and the same distance as Triple D, so I have something to go on, at least, for planning. read that right, I am planning on riding the 2012 Triple D event. I got myself into this by a special invite from race director, Lance Andre, who only asks that I write about all of this for your reading pleasure. So, there is the disclaimer. The thing is, this sounds pretty fun, actually.

Everyone that reads this blog of late probably knows I have the bicycle for this deal. The Salsa Cycles Mukluk will be the rig of choice, that is unless it turns out that there is no snow. (Hey- it has happened before in Januray!)

In all likelihood, I'll be on this rig though. I have pogies, so that will be another equipment factor already in hand. Today I am picking up my footwear, some Keen boots I had already planned on getting, and Big Fat Larrys are sitting in the basement ready to be put on the Rolling Darryl rims.

I've got to work on a few more details to. Clothing being one. I have stuff, but finding a good combination for potentially waaaay below zero windchill and air temperatures must be worked on. I've got some ideas there.

Then there is the nutrition. I saw a nice recipe for some homegrown energy bars recently on a friend's blog here. I think I may have to look into that, but when cold temperatures make things hard like a brick, that may not work too well. Experimentation will be taking place.

Training is already happening. I started doing things even before this came up, just in case I decided on doing CIRREM again. Bigger rides will be happening soon.

I plan on doing my usual updates when going into something like this. So look for those coming at random intervals. I will also be doing a big ride report on this event here and on The Speaking of which, check out the buyers guide we put up for your gift giving convenience here. (Just in case you have a cyclist on your Christmas shopping list.)

Stay tuned for more on Triple D coming soon......

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Turkey Burn Ride Report

Friday was an awesome, dry, warmer day. But Saturday was the day set for the Turkey Burn ride at The Camp. I awoke Saturday to a wet, windy, colder day. It was still spitting rain as I left the house for the ride, but I had no doubt it would happen.

Captain Bob rails a turn
We've had the Turkey Burn in great weather and not so great. I remember one year when it had snowed already and it was really cold!

This time it was just grey and wet. Cooler than Friday, but seasonable, really. I ended up taking the Snow Dog, since I figured it might be greasy out there. That and the wetter soil would get packed in better by my big Larry tires.

There were those new sections of trail that needed that, and making them sustainable for next year would be a good thing to accomplish on a day like yesterday. I popped a Surly "Lite" fat-bike tube in the hydration pack and took off for the Camp.

When I got there I saw three cars. One I knew was Paul's, the other two weren't familiar to me. (Turns out one of the rigs was captain Bob's, the other was hiz Cuz!) I was late, about an hour or so. As I started to get ready, I saw another car pull in. The powder blue hard tail hanging off the back of the car tipped me off that it was Eric. Sure enough, he popped out a minute or two later. We looked at the sign in board to find out the first group left about 40 minutes ahead of us. Hmm.......they shouldn't be far out from the end. 

Eric stares down the next corner
 Eric let me lead in, and as we circled back towards the trail head, I figured we would see the front runners, but we didn't. So, I just kept my head down and kept steaming on the Snow Dog.

The trails were a bit greasy, as I had feared, but the Larry 3.8"ers were holding a line well, and I could ride about as fast as I wanted to. Traction going up the first steep climb was great, actually.

Eric and I weren't far in when I spied a Bike Tech jersey. It turned out the rider was headed in our direction, so I pulled over and Eric did as well. It turned out to be Paul.

Woodland throne and foot stool
Paul was heading back to the cars and would be taking off. We chatted for a bit, then he went back the way that we had come. I motioned to Eric that he should lead. I was getting gassed by running so hard to not slow him down, and I was already sweating a ton.

Eric took off, and I came about 50 yards behind him. We hit the new, now longer, section of trail and it adds a significant amount to the trails. (Nicely done Karmen! ) Anyway, we then hit the "bottoms" and here I started pulling Eric back to me. I could negotiate the tighter turns quicker, apparently, due to the big Larry traction action.

By this time the Larry tread was packed in fairly well with the sticky river bottom mud. At times the tires would shoot off that mud in big flattish layers which would fly around me as I rode. I felt like I was riding near the back end of an old fashioned manure spreader!

Muddy Mukluk
Eric pulled away from me in the techy, rocky section. The Larrys were just not dealing well with slippery mud on moss covered limestone outcropping. Makes me think I need a set of Nate 3.8"ers after all. I bet those would have grabbed that slick stuff and held on to it.

We so rarely get a day like that around here though. It is more likely we'd be rained off the course before we got another misty, U.K.-like day as we had Saturday.

After going by the river, climbing the switchbacks, and going through the big sweepers, I entered into the newer single track section here. It features a downhill that has lots of tight turns in it. Here I caught up with Eric again. The Larry tires doing much better in the softer grounds.

Well, we finished up the loop, and at the end of the trail we ran into Captain Bob, who was back tracking the trail to come and find us. We stopped for a bit then took off, but this time I let Eric and Captain Bob beat up on each other. I did my own pace behind them and stopped to take a few photos when I wanted to. I finished up as Eric and Captain Bob were packing away their rigs. It was time to chat for a bit, eat some muffins, and chill.

It was a great Turkey Burn, but it was too bad that more folks didn't come out to ride. The trails at The Camp are great now, and they are getting much, much better!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Trans Iowa V8 Recon #2

Yesterday I got more recon done for Trans Iowa V8 and it was a pretty successful outing, even though not everything about the day was planned. (More on that in a bit) WARNING! Mondo-long post with pics! Getcher coffee/favorite beverage and sit down fer awhile!

I'll share some images today, but not too many road images, since my favorite images weren't of roads, but things I saw along them yesterday. (Yes Jason, I have more barns in today's post!)

My favorite image from the days outing.
First of all, let me say that in no way am I trying to pretend or intimate that I am some sort of "photographer". These are images from a cheap-o Fuji point and shoot set to black and white. There they are, and I like the images. Maybe photo-zealots wouldn't, but so be it. I make no apologies for these. Hey! I'm driving a truck at 40mph, trying to keep track of a route, and shooting with an unsteady right hand......on loose gravel. 

Anyway....the day was a grey one. The skies were wrapped in a blanket of thick clouds, and everything on the Earth was somber, dead, and withered, for the most part. Black and White images seemed very appropriate.

I was so stoked to see I got the tree. I saw it coming down the road, and my camera was buried underneath some maps at the time. So- Here I am, scrambling to find the camera, driving 40mph on gravel, and then trying to open the dang camera and get a shot off. By the time all that happens I have one chance out the passenger window to try for an image and I got it. Definitely a minor miracle there!

The thing is, I am out here with very limited time available to get recon done. I cannot afford to slow down and stop to take a "proper" image. I have to keep rolling on, or I'd be taking images all day and only traveling 20 miles total. Recon ain't-a-gonna git dun like that! So it turns into kind of a game for me that keeps that recon fun.

Yes Jason.....another barn find!
The biggest goal yesterday was to go from Grinnell to Checkpoint #1. This included figuring out if my roll out in Grinnell proper was going to work. I may modify it a bit, but it would be okay the way that it is now.

I was a bit concerned about the chip seal mileage, but it ended up being just tolerable and I think I'll leave it in. You riders will appreciate that luxurious surface to start out on, no doubt!

The opening miles are kind of odd. It goes from relatively benign, to having a couple of monster rollers, and back again to benign for about 10 miles. Then it gets more hilly on a consistent level for a bit.

The roads were rough this time of year. There has not been much moisture in Iowa in the last few months, and new gravel just rolls around under the tires like marbles on the rock-hard underlying road surface.

Oddly enough, it wasn't all that dusty either. It was a bit eery actually. I was expecting it to be very dusty, but maybe the dust all blew away in the strong winds of late.

Yes- There will be at least a mile of B Road
I didn't really think I had any B Maintenance road in for the first section coming into Checkpoint #1. Well, guess what?

That's right folks, a mile section of B Maintenance road will be in the first 50 miles of T.I.V8. I know that just amazes you veterans of the event.

Obviously, I got to drive it yesterday. It is bone dry, and has two unbelievably steep hill climbs within that mile. When you are in between the  two ridges, it seems as though you are cut off from the rest of the world. It is almost like being in between two huge swells in a sea of earth.

Trust me- I highly doubt that this will be at all rideable come April 28th, 2011. If it is, well it will be a lot of fun. If not........

I am considering adding a hair more time to get to Checkpoint #1 due to this and......well, you'll see!

Not a barn- A one room school house

 Interesting to note; The route to Checkpoint #1 will be just a bit more than 50 miles. So, shorter than last year. However; it has about as much for hills, and you also will go in every compass direction getting there.

That means you will have a head wind,  if there is a wind that morning, and at least part of that time you will also enjoy a tailwind.

Okay, don't forget that B Maintenance road in there. If it is wet at all, that will be a walking mile, and it will be really tough. Those two climbs are waaay steep! Yes- so are the descents. No ditches either, so there is no escape.

Now last year, with the snafu with the B Road mix-up, the hills, and the wind, I saw where many missed the checkpoint cut-off in a 15 minute window. Had the cut-off time been 15 minutes later than it was, a lot of you would have made it through. So, with that in mind, I am considering a bit of lee-way on time coming into the first checkpoint, due to the difficulties.

At this point, I was totally lost!
Okay, so much for the first leg of T.I.V8! That is going to work out quite well, I think. That put upwards of 170 miles confirmed, (adding in the last recon I did), and in the books ready to be cue-carded this winter.

Now, I had a bit of extra time to do some checking into a snarl of a problem at one point on the return leg of T.I.V8. So, I headed on over to that section of the proposed course to have a look-see.

Essentially, it was like dealing with a three-headed monster. I had three possibilities, with one that I was hoping would be "the winner". I first checked on the two of the "lesser desired" choices.

Well, it looked possible from one standpoint for sure, although there was some construction work going on that would need to be looked into further. Since that wasn't a primo choice, I left it for a "possible later". The other choice looked sketchy. It would require a bicycle to really find out if it would work, since part of the route would be a "no motor vehicles" sort of deal. I didn't bring a bicycle on this trip. Dang!

Still lost, but the roads were rad!

Okay, no big deal, right? My "third choice" would be the winner anyway, or so I had hoped. I got closer, and I was totally stoked. It looked really great. Then, I saw where a farmer had re-claimed about a quarter mile of roadway which cut the route off. No way!

I was super bummed out. But, in the process of checking into the last choice, another, unforeseen choice, not on my maps presented itself. I decided I may as well do some on the ground research, since I was there and all.

Well, I was pressed for time by now, but I hurriedly went about my business. I figured out an approach pretty quickly, now to get out of there. What roads would link up? I looked at my maps and drove to two dead ends. No good!

I decided on adding in about a mile of pavement to solve the riddle. Not my favorite thing to do, but it would work. I was still feeling bummed about the earlier route not working, and decided to hang it up for the day and head on home.

A proper working barn with Holsteins!
 Since recon was done, I could head home on pavement. I looked at the map to find a direct way. I found the road, and followed the signs to the next town. Oddly enough, I got routed onto some gravel. Okay! Let's see where this goes now. It couldn't be far to the next town anyway.

Well, the road was totally awesome! I was immediately thinking how cool it would be to use this road in a T.I. added more pavement to get to it. Well, the further I went, the less I thought that was a negative. This road was just that good, or so I was thinking.

Then I realized I had absolutely no idea where I was! I had gotten so excited, and the road had so many twists and turns, I didn't know which direction I was heading in. There were only a couple of cross roads, and the signs gave no hints. The sun was shrouded by thick clouds, and everything was drenched in diffused light. I was going to have to stop to figure out where in the world I was, since the town never materialized.

And another barn!
 Well, I rolled up onto a cross road, looked at the signs, and got out my map. Within a few minutes I pinpointed where I was, and saw that I was actually headed in the right direction!

It wasn't the road I had thought I should have been on, and that didn't matter now. I was just stoked to see that if I wanted to, I could make the mistaken turn work out as part of the route!

A few things may make me change my mind against this though. First- A longer stretch of pavement than I'd really want would be necessary to get the riders on this section.

Secondly, there were three dogs, one of them a giant Harlequin Great Dane, that were a bit more "friendly" than I like to see. Yes, there may be other dogs on route that I did not see, but when I do see dogs get aggressive with my vehicle, I think about that a bit.

Finally, this section would more than likely be done by anyone still in the event at night. You wouldn't see any of the cool stuff, just have some really big hills to climb and descend.

The other route is definitely more "bland', but would also be expedient to use in the dark, and would deliver riders to the next part of the Trans Iowa course without the drama of extra paved road miles, dogs, and hills that would definitely put your skills to the test in the dark.

I'll be thinking about that for awhile!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday News And Views

Well, that went well....

Thanksgiving came and went with a reasonable consumption rate. Nothing too far gone went down the hatch yesterday, and I feel pretty good about the food I ate. Of course, I didn't hold off on the IPA's when I got home, but hey! I felt compelled to celebrate a few things. ya know- being thankful and all!

Hope your day was a pleasant one yesterday.

Barn for Jason
I got my gravel road ride in on Wednesday. I figured I had better just get it done, since the snowy weather can't be far off.

I was super stoked to be out there in the country again. The gravel was in great shape. Very dry and super fast. The weather was a bit chilly and gray, but at this time of year, you have to lower your expectations here a bit!

I got in a nice two hour ride and I must not wait as long between gravel rides. So many nice roads to choose from that if I wait to sneak a ride in the choices nearly paralyze me. I need to take advantage more than I have. If I keep up a steady diet of these choices, I won't be wanting to do them all with only two hours to ride!

Well, I also should add that missing out on the longer gravel rides showed up as some very stiff and sore muscles the next day! Another reason not to short shrift myself on those gravel grinders.

It has started! The registration for T.I.V8 has begun with the "Finishers" taking their crack at entering the eighth edition of the event starting today.

The list of finishers is on the site, so no cutters can be allowed! The Finishers have until December 2nd at midnight to claim a spot. If they do not do so by then, the window closes for another year.

There are 57 Finishers in all, and 100 roster spots total. Of course, not all the Finishers will take up a roster spot, so we'll have to wait and see how the rest of the remaining spots gets split up between the Rookies and Veterans. Those classes will be filled via post card starting on December 2nd as well. All registration will come to a close on December 10th. See all the details here.

Hope you all get a ride in sometime over this Holiday weekend!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

It has been shown in studies that the giving of thanks, being thankful, and having an attitude of gratitude is a healing thing for your soul, and for relationships between folks. I think about that on a day like today. However; I should think about that everyday.

Here are some things that I find myself thinking about lately. This isn't an all inclusive list, but here ya go....

I've got a lot to smile about.
First off, I've got my health, and I get to do things with that health that are a lot of fun for me. I get to enjoy my wife, and my family because of that health. Pretty thankful for that for sure.

I owe a lot to those that went before me.
I recognize that I have a lot of what I do because of the hard work, sacrifices, and love of those that went before me. A lot of those people I don't even know. Many of them are dead and gone, but some of them are still alive and with us. Better thank them while we can.

I'm thankful for where I live.
I'm also very thankful I am blessed to live where I live. Not everyone has the life, the freedom, and the opportunities we do. I'm grateful for being put here where I am.

There is more, a lot more, that I am thankful for. I hope you find some time to reflect upon those things in your life today, and everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Salsa Cycles Fargo: Gen II Ride Report

I've spent a good bit of time riding the Salsa Cycles Fargo since it came out. I have ridden it plenty on single track, and I thought it did alright. Maybe there were days I just didn't "have what it took", and then there were days I could just rip it on that Gen I Fargo. (Riding gravel was never an issue. There it always ruled.)

Single trackin' Fargo
Then Salsa revised the Fargo. They made some tweaks that my friend Ben up at Milltown Cycles said had made him want to ditch his Gen I Fargo and go with the newer version, it was that much better. Hmm.....

Ben usually has a really good handle on what I like in a bicycle, but I resisted. I was "okay" with what I had, I said. Gen I Fargo was good.

Then I rode Gen II at Interbike. That changed everything, as I stated here in this post. The new Fargo does single track very well, at least at Bootleg Canyon it did. I was intrigued enough to pick this green one up and ride it here in the Mid-West.

My first rides were hampered by a too-worn-out cassette, so hammering it was not going to happen. That is, until yesterday when I did have a good cassette on it. Did it feel like it did at Bootleg Canyon? I'm happy to report that yes: Yes it did. The same rippin', fast feeling, glued to the trail bike that I felt in Nevada was now rippin' it under me on my local trail. Good stuff!

Now I know that Salsa Cycles portrays the Fargo as the ultimate off-road tourer/adventure bike, and it is. However; don't forget that stripped down to bare necessities, this bike kills single track.

Drop Bars off-road? You betcha!
I remember when my buddy MG was telling me about his desire for Salsa to make a "drop bar El Mariachi" for their line up. The first Fargo wasn't really that bike. This new one is. The old Fargo wasn't much of a "monster-cross" bike. It was something quite unique. There are some aspects of this new Fargo that are very "road bike like", but not in a touring bike way. No- In a very racy, cyclo-cross bike way. Maybe it is the "ultimate monster-crosser".

This specific set up is really, really smooth. The steel frame, the Cane Creek Thudbuster ST seat post, and the supple Specialized Ground Control tires made the roots and rough spots much smoother. The bike feels very well weighted front to rear, and corners on rails.

Climbing, (what there is within the city limits), was good. I need to get out to the Camp on this to see about a more technical, slow speed climb up, but I am expecting good stuff here. The weight is reasonable. I know this will never beat something like the carbon frames I am testing now, but Salsa Cycles has struck a great balance between strength for touring/loaded riding and weight here.

Now, I am not ready to ditch Fargo #1 just yet, because that bike travels gravel so well. I am probably going to switch the rubber out to Vulpines on that one though, and stay away from doing much single track with it.

On Fargo for gravel, one Fargo for off-road rippin'. It's all good!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bike Shop Horrors: Gutted Part II

Once again I take you inside a bike where you normally wouldn't go. This one is a bit unusual in that it is a part of a "tri-bike", themselves being an unusual breed of bicycle in the first place. (And many times a horror to work on for bike shop mechanics for lots of reasons.)

Down under....
Here we have a view from the bottom side of a Trek Speed Concept rig. Aero/time trial type bikes are bicycles governed by the strange rules of aerodynamics and the UCI. (Which one of those is stranger is another deal altogether.) Since they are governed by these seemingly opposing forces, we get some weird, sometimes inspired designs made to cheat the wind.

In this case, we have a bicycle which has removed the rear brake from its traditional place to underneath the bottom bracket. Gets it out of the air flow alright!

In the image here you see a cover which directs whatever air is flowing around down here by the brake mechanism cleanly. (Never mind that whirling crank set and that spinning rear wheel!)

Kinda like how Charlie would have done it...

Here we have a view with the cover off. Doesn't look like a typical road brake, does it? That's because it has more in common with a mountain bike brake from about 30 years ago than it does any road brake we know from today. And that mountain bike brake is a take off from a design used early in the 20th Century.

The two pivots are easy to find here. If you follow up from there, each brake arm cants inward to the center line of the bike until the arms terminate where you see the two small circular elements at the ends of each arm. These are pins that ride the edges of the triangular shaped "cam" plate you see which has the brake cable emanating from its top, and a bolt near its base above the spring. The bolt anchors the brake cable.

When the brake is activated, the cam plate moves upward, (as we look at the view here), and forces the two arms outward along the cam's profile, which the two pins ride on that are anchored in the ends of the brake arms. The arms pivot, in turn, and like a see-saw, they push the brake pads into the rim as the arms pivot on those silver colored bushings. When the brake lever is released, the spring attaching both arms above the tire pulls the tops of the arms back in, and the brake comes to its resting state as seen here.

It is also notable here that you can see the front derailleur cable on the right, and the rear derailleur cable on the left on either side of the brake cable above the brake itself. All cables are internally routed for better aerodynamics.

This brake is very reminiscent of the 80's "under-the-chain-stay" "Rollercam" style brakes which this looks like a miniaturized version of with a cross spring instead of the two wire linear springs that Rollercams used.

And there is your look at the "guts" of a tri-bike brake.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Going To The End And Back

Getting my "fat legs" ready for winter.
Sunday I was able to scoot out for a quick ride. I haven't been on gravel for a long time, and I really wanted to do that, but I didn't have enough time.

This had to be a quick ride, and my second objective was a perfect match. I hadn't been out to the end of the Green Belt trails in a while, so I wanted to do that before the snow flew again. Now was my chance.

The Green Belt trails are close to where I live. I can easily ride over there and get on the trail that runs along the Black Hawk Creek for several miles southwestward. This is where, back in the late 80's, I learned how to ride a bicycle off road too, so I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the place, even though there is nothing very spectacular about the area, or the trails. Well......that is unless you look very closely for it.  The Green Belt doesn't smack you upside the head with a vast vista, or an engaging geological feature, but if you pay attention to details, there are a lot of wonderful things out there.

So, I hopped on board the Salsa Cycles Mukluk I have which I call "The Snow Dog", and I rumbled over towards the thin strand along the Black Hawk Creek.

Yep- No Motorized Vehicles!
I noticed those younginz have been out there on their quad recently. They made an appearance out there later in the winter months, but have been strangely absent all year since then until now. Not that the posted "No Motor Vehicles" sign means anything to them, nor that I mind all that much, but one-o-these-days, someone is liable to be walking out there, and these guys will K-O them into next week.

Hope that never happens.

Anyway, I made it beyond where I normally turn around and finish a loop, crossed the four lane, and went off to find the quad tracks gone, but the trees were laying across the trail here and there now. Normally this is a chance to bunny hop over them. So, I tried to do just that, only to have my big chain ring dig in and cause a ruckus. No- I didn't crash, but I got knocked out of whack a couple times before deciding that I shouldn't do that anymore. Sheesh! I suppose that is what bash guards are for, eh?

A feat of beaver engineering
I made it out to the end, and on the furthest end, I saw that several new "work arounds" had been made by fallen trees. Typically I don't like these sorts of detours, but in these cases, the work arounds were rather an improvement over what was otherwise a boring straight shot down the trail.

The Snow Dog was carving up the trails too. It is a unique feel on a fat-bike compared to my 29"ers though. I have to ride in a much different way than I typically do.

On the way back, I made sure I detoured to do the lake loop. I went back and did a quickie beach ride, which is really fun. I could have stayed another half an hour plunking around there, but time was getting short. I had to keep pressing on towards home.

Mrs. Guitar Ted was coming back home after a four day trip to the West Coast, so I wanted to make sure I was there to great her along with the kids, and our close family friend was making us all roast beef and potatoes for supper. Good thing I rode the fat-bike! I pushed hard enough that I was pretty tired by the time I got home.

Gotta keep riding this rig all winter. It'll sure help keep the weight down and the endorphins high!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

News Flash! Turkey Burn Ride Announced!

Annual Turkey Burn Ride: After I inquired of Captain Bob about the annual end-o-the-year shindig at The Camp, he got back to me with an affirmative on the ride for this year. 

So, here ya go locals, (and visitors!), on November 26th, 2011, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, you can head on over to the South Side of The Camp and ride your mountain bike on the fine camp trails. This will happen from 9am till 12 Noon, and Captain Bob says he's bringing some chili for the after ride hang out.

Directions: Go to Janseville, IA on HWY 218, and at the intersection of HWY 218 and 275th make a turn to the east, away from Janesville. . (Kwik Star is across the highway on same road you will turn on, but you will be driving away from it.) Go one mile to a left on Garden Avenue, gravel, and continue through to a "T" intersection. (This will come after a left and a right turn on the road you are on here at this point.) At the "T" turn right, go about a quarter mile, and we'll be on the left side of the road in a grassy parking lot in the woods, visible from the road. If you go by a house on your left, you went too far!

Hope to see ya there to burn some of that Thanksgiving meal off!

"Pretty Smart" Bike

Sun "Atlas" Cargo Bike
I didn't do my usual routine on Saturday. Typically, I wake up, spend some time with my kids, and then go do a mountain bike ride at the Camp. Not this day though.

Mrs. Guitar Ted was out of town visiting a friend, and so I had to be "Mr. Mom" for the day until our good family friend came over and took the kids to a movie. My turn to get a quick bicycle ride in, right? Not so fast......

I actually had decided that this weekend was my very last chance to get something done that I had been putting off consistently since last summer. The sidewalk leading out from the house had "decayed" just a bit, and that issue wasn't going away. In fact, it actually had been kind of gnawing away at me of late. So, I was motivated by that and the fact that outdoors construction projects were going to be a bad idea in a matter of days.

So, I played with some cement during the afternoon. Fortunately I have plenty of previous experience with cement and my helping out with the Northfield Criterium over the 4th of July weekend had provided a bit of a refresher course in patching with Qwikrete. Job done, I cleaned up just as my kids got back from the movies.

Well, I was going to make some home-made pizza for us, so I needed a bit more shredded cheese. I decided to let the kids know I'd be gone for a little bit, then I grabbed my Xtracycled Schwinn Sierra, and I pedaled off to the convenience store.

I was waiting to pay at the counter when I excused myself and made way for an employee to walk through. She was a cute young woman, and well......that was that, I figured. I walked out with my purchase and here she was standing by my bicycle. She was unsuccessfully trying to light up a cigarette, and I met her eyes and said hello.

She could have just went on flicking that Bic, but instead she dropped her arms and said, "Is that your bike? Did you make that?" I explained that it was a kit bolted to a standard mountain bike. She asked me if someone could ride "back there", and I said yes. Then she said "That's a really smart bike." 

I was chuffed.

Well, as I rode home, I thought about the ol' Schwinn and I have been contemplating the upgrade. It could be the bike in the image above. That Atlas has a lot going for it. 4130 CroMo frame, 48 spoke rear/36 spoke frt wheels with 38mm wide rims. (!!) The back is compatible with Xtracycle bags too. However; the components are pretty cheesy. I could just ride them into the ground, and upgrade later though, so maybe.......

Hard to beat a Big Dummy though. Either way.....they are really smart bikes, aren't they?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Jumping The Gun A Bit?

Too bad, really. They were nice cards.....
Every year Trans Iowa registration gets closer, (that's right- it has not started yet), I get these folks that - for whatever reason- want.....nay, need,  to get themselves on Trans Iowa's roster for sure.

I usually get e-mails explaining how the individual is sincere, is training hard, and has accomplishments. Not to belittle any of that. But.......everyone has to get in Trans Iowa by the rules. No exceptions. Oh! you didn't see the rules? (Go here) Yeah.....and read them carefully. 

Obviously I got a couple of post cards in the mail already. Yup. You can see them in the image here. And since they are early, well.......sorry, but they didn't get you in!

So, just to recap: The Finishers get first crack at the roster. That means those that have finished a Trans Iowa event before. You know.......not a new person to the event, ie: A Rookie. No- a person that has actually done this thing all the way through. (Yes- the post cards were from Rookies)

Look for more details on T.I.V8 soon.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday News And Views

Single Speed Energy Vortex
"The Belt" Update: The last few days I have been dealing with an issue that arose with my Gates Carbon Drive Center Track set up on the Fisher Collection Sawyer.

I was up at the Camp a few times with this set up and never had an issue. I've ridden it a bunch since getting it squared away last summer. No issues. No noises. Nuthin'.

So I go ride at the Camp this past week and hit this steep climb. It is a toughy too. You come off a bumpy section and start gradually going up. Then the pitch steepens right at the point where you have a few roots and lots of embedded rock sticking through the dirt, just waiting to stop your forward progress. As if the hill's pitch wasn't enough.

Well, right as I get out of the saddle at the very point where the trail pitches upward, I hear the dreaded "pop" of a belt ratcheting.


I dismounted to examine the situation, fully expecting to see that the slider had shifted, or the belt had popped off a tooth, but nothing of the sort. I did see that the belt was looser. that happened I don't have a clue. Well, I couldn't continue on with it the way it was, and tightening it trail side was not a possibility since I didn't have a 8mm box end wrench for the jamb nut on the tensioner. Bah!

Well, after a bit of a disgruntled Tweet, Gates contacted me to find out what was going on and they are administering a fix. So, I should be back up and running again soon. Stay tuned for further updates.....

When will this wintery scene happen again?
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.A. That means that within days the skies will open up and start dumping the white stuff on the area.

Well.......that is if the pattern of the last three years is any indication. 

Typically the "Turkey Burn Ride" at the Camp is the last ride on open trails for the year. Usually just after that the snow falls. Well, last year I didn't have the Snow Dog, and now I also have "Big Fat Larrys" to mount on it, if need be.

Last January I had a longer ride into the country on snowmobile trails where I was wanting for a tiny bit more float than the 3.8" Larrys were giving me. Also, truth be told, I was running maybe a couple psi too high on the air pressures. I never ever got down there to the point where the sidewalls were flexing. Maybe had I got down that low, I would have made more riding and less walking.

But no matter. Now I have bigger tires in the arsenal, and flotation will not be an issue this year. Then again.....maybe this will be a return to the brown winters of years past. 

 And if so, no big deal. I've got gravel roads to be riding. I love it. Now, short of massively thick coatings of ice, I am ready to take on winter on my bicycles. I even have thought that it may be time to bring back the KMFDM and run it this winter. don't know what "KMFDM" means?  (Not the band) It stands for "Karate Monkey Fixie Death Machine", because I probably will eat it on some day commuting since it is fixed and I can't hop curbs well riding fixed. I have a tendency just to bash over them!

One thing though- that fixed gear in winter is really much, much better on slippery surfaces. So, I am pretty sure some big, fat tires are going on that bike and the Tomi Cog as well. Ditch the rear brake, and all will be good.

Hope ya'all have a great weekend. Ride somewhere if ya can! winter is nigh!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Carbon 29"er Wheels: Black Magic Or Bad Disco? Part II

When I posted on this subject last week (seen here), I got a lot of responses. One of the things that recently came to the fore was about carbon fiber in general. Why is it that some components and frames are so expensive, while others seem so cheap in comparison. It is then assumed that somebody is making a lot of hay off of something that shouldn't be so expensive.  Carbon is carbon, after all, or is it? 

Commodity or special design?
 You see, there seems to be a viewpoint held by many that points to carbon fiber products as a commodity that certain companies are over-charging for. The "same frame as they are using" can be bought on an on-line Asian factory outlet for hundreds less. But is it really the same frame? Is it made with the same standards and quality of carbon fiber that a well known brand may specify?

I doubt consumers could actually know this data. Not with any certainty, at any rate. And do know that there are several levels of quality in carbon fiber raw materials, and that doesn't touch on the manufacturing angle.

I read an article some time ago now that detailed the enormous energy required to manufacture carbon fiber strands. (Yes- it really isn't a very "green" material to use, but that's another story altogether.) What caught my eye was the disparity in price at the raw material state for different types of carbon fiber. Prices varied from approximately 30-40% just for the raw fiber materials. Then you add resins, and then you add design requirements, labor, manufacturing costs, and final destination charges with labor to assemble the frame into a bike on top of that.

My point here is that when taken into context, carbon fiber isn't "just carbon" and there are a lot of places where prices could vary. Then you have "catalog companies".

These are Asian sources that have designs already "in the can" that product managers can look at and choose from. Sometimes there are several choices in quality that all look the same outwardly. Product managers then can specify options which differentiate their brand and specific models from other companies choosing from the same catalog. On top of this, some of these factories have set up shop on-line selling the lowest cost options direct to consumers. It's happened previously with rigid carbon forks, and now it is happening with carbon fiber frames.

Molded to very precise tolerances in Mexico.
When other companies that do their own R&D, own their own facilities for making carbon components, and use proprietary materials and techniques come along, they get unfairly bunched in with the things that are going on in the on-line world- the "carbon commodity" mentality, and viewpoints get skewed.

In the particular case of companies like Easton, or Enve, as examples, they are doing things that just are not coming out of Asia, and can not be duplicated or copied easily, or at all. Yet, they are "carbon fiber", so you know....."they are ripping us off with those ridiculous prices".

So, in a lot of ways I think folks do see carbon fiber wheels and frames as some kind of "black magic" that isn't real, because the on-line marketers of carbon components have made folks think they are getting stuff from the on-line companies at cheaper prices than what is being charged by bigger brands. But is the quality the same? Is the carbon used lower end, or upper end? Are the processes used the same, or different than the bigger brands use, and does any of that make any difference?

To some, it doesn't. It's just about saving money for something that looks expensive. That's the "bad disco" part. And it is hard for the average folks to separate the sheep from the goats.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bike Shop Horrors: Gutted

It isn't often that you get to see what is on the inside of bicycle parts, unless you are a mechanic like I am at a bike shop, or unless you are a BMX-ican.  (Because they can not live until they've torn apart their bicycle to the nth degree!)

You are one "twisted sister"!
Today's subject matter is provided to us by one White Industries Tandem Hub that suffered a defect in manufacture where-by the stamp put in the hub shell was a source for a hole/crack that developed. You can see it to the right side of the logo embossed into the aluminum shell there.

This hub was laced to a Sun rim by 40 spokes and resided in a Cannondale tandem at first, but was ultimately put to a cruel end as a loaner wheel last summer on a Co-Motion tandem.

That tandem team pulled a very loaded down trailer and the torque loading must have been pretty impressive as it twisted the entire aluminum structure, as you can see here.

Well, be that as it may, the hub was warranted, and a new White Industries Tandem Hub was sent out. So, I unlaced this destroyed hub, and figured, why not have a look-see inside o that thing!

Things that go "bzzzzzzzt"!

So, here we have the free hub body off, (you can see the cassette splines facing the table), and what you are looking at is the free wheel "pawls" and the springs that force the hardened steel pawls outward. These springs appear as flat peices of steel with curled ends that fit nicely into machined pockets in the star shaped end of the free hub body. They sit under the pawls, which themselves fit beautifully into their own machined pockets in the same star shaped end of the free hub body. Note: Neither the pawls or the steel springs are mechanically held in place. They are confined on one side by the free hub, and on the other side by the hub body, which houses the ring gear. (Coming up next!)

The blue-ish circular item in the middle is a cartridge bearing that rides on the axle, which is not shown here. One thing I find amusing, and that is all the talk you here about "points of engagement" when referencing the free turning of a hub before a pawl engages. Well, this is such a misunderstood term. Actually, there are only ever three points of engagement with this hub, because there are only three pawls. Hard to imagine all that tandem power being directed through those three hardened steel pawls, but that's how it works.

The other half of "the buzz".
 Here we see what those pawls engage into. This is the ring gear, which is another chunk of machined and hardened steel pressed into the aluminum hub body.

When you coast, those three pawls slide up the ramps, being held against the ring gear by those metal springs, and slide down off the ramps, down the vertical faces of the ring gear, and when this happens at speed, you hear the "bzzzzzt" as you coast, or the "clack-clack-clack" as you walk your bike. It's the sound of those three pawls slipping over those saw-toothed ring gear teeth in unison.

The bike is propelled forward as the gear on the cassette gets driven by the chain, and forces the pawls to rotate until the leading edge of a pawl runs against the vertical face of one of the ring gear's teeth. Since the spring is forcing the pawl outward, the pawl basically jams against the ring gear, and the force of your pedaling efforts is translated to the hub shell, through the spokes, to the rim, tire, and ultimately the ground.

How far the pawls rotate until they engage a ring gear tooth is the "free-play" in the hub that mountain bikers sometimes obsess over. It would be more accurately described in degrees of free rotation, instead of the misleading "points of engagement" that many cyclists refer to.

But at any rate, there is your inside look at the inside of a hub, and how it works!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Missing The Dusty Roads

The Long And Winding Type- My Favorite!
I've been riding a lot of single track in the Fall this year. I'm not going to complain about that one bit. It's been super weather here, for the most part, and the trails have been fantastic.

But just like when you eat too much of one thing, all one type of riding can get to be ......too much!  Like too much frosting, and not enough cake, if you will.

I'm missing the gravel roads. I'm missing the long, winding, up and down, peaceful gravel grinding we have here. Endless miles of it.

I know some of you live in the mountains, or in some really cool place like England, Scotland, or Europe. (I know because of my stat tracker widget) I know it must be really great to live where you do, and riding gravel roads probably sounds like about as much fun as flossing your teeth. Maybe you think Iowa is flat, boring, or worse- full of gnomes carrying pitchforks riding the backs of stinking pink piggies.......or something. 

I don't know, but I also know that I probably won't convince you that it is a stellar thing to do. But really, anything involving a bicycle can't be all that bad. Can it? Riding over that next hill, seeing something you wouldn't ordinarily see, and occasionally meeting a few really cool folks along the way, well that makes it totally worthwhile for me.  

Sitting- Waiting Patiently In The Wings
So anyway- I want to get out and put in a long gravel ride soon. I missed all of the Milltown Cycles rides, and for that I am truly sorry. I followed along and they looked like a ton of fun, but I had something in my way every weekend they had a ride on.

I even got the ol' Orange Crush all spruced up and ready to go. A new carbon fiber Bontrager fork and all, as yet untested on gravel. It is a crying shame too. Hopefully that won't be the case for too much longer and I'll get out there on the gravels before the snow flies. Even if it is only for a shorter ride. North of town where I live is pretty nice for gravel grinding. Maybe I can haul the rig down to Traer, which is another of my favorite jumping off points. But no matter- I gotta get some gravel ridin' in.

If that doesn't pan out, at least I get to see some gravel from the seat of "The Truck With No Name" that I will be using for Trans Iowa recon yet this Fall. That should be happening soon. I've got a solid two days of that yet in front of me. It isn't the same as riding a bike, but at least it is something close.

Not that I have not been enjoying the woods immensely, because I have, and I treasure that. I just need some balance  I guess, and I just plain miss the rural scenery.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Frolicking With The Woodland Creatures

Super Spore Station!
This past weekend was pretty terrific for riding, which is saying something for mid-November in Iowa! So, I put in a long ride at the Camp.

The trees have shed all their foliage, and the underbrush is all dead, so sight-lines through the woods are maximized now. Combine this with the annual deer mating season, and those leaping does and statuesque bucks are easily spotted.

It isn't all that unusual to see a deer or three up at The Camp while riding at any time of the year, but now activity is heightened. One deer aficionado explained it to me like this; "Imagine you are 13-17 years old once every year." Uh-huh........gotcha! 

Deer were spotted almost immediately upon my entrance to the single track, and that didn't stop until I left. I saw upwards of six doe deer at first, and they seemed to keep running in front of me, despite the twisting and turning of the trail. Every so often I would  roust them into action again and they would bound through the trails and forest floor up ahead, until I couldn't see them. Then the whole scene would repeat itself again up the loop.  

Many of the trees had this break-line. Any clues?
Lap #1 saw the smallish group of deer leaping and bounding around in front of me, which was kind of cool, but I felt bad for them. They never seemed to get that if they would go the other way, or just stay put, fer cryin' out loud,  that they wouldn't have to expend all this energy. Unfortunately, I rounded up even more deer on lap #2.

At first I saw the original bunch going off into the Western edge of the woods off toward the river. "Good!, I thought. They would stay down there and I'd go away in the other direction. But no. Then I saw the rest.

There were a lot more deer. At least twice as many, and then I saw him. 

That buck struck 'The Hartford" pose as he stood about 70-90 yards away staring me down. I tried counting points. I couldn't see him real clearly, since some branches were obscuring some of his rack, but he was at least a six pointer. Maybe bigger.

The doe herd was moving on, and I could see the buck turn his head slightly to mark the direction they were headed in. Then he briefly took another look at me, and suddenly, moved by his overpowering, teenage-like instincts, he bounded off after the girls. Pretty cool!

Where the Wizard's staffs grow....
Those crazy deer were still going round right along my path, and now I had a buck and twice as many doe in front of me. I was not liking my odds of being KO'ed by an angry buck, or blindsided by some scared deer. So, I took a break and did a bit of photographing. I figured the deer would disperse, or get outta my way!

Well, most of them did, but a small group of younger doe deer just didn't get the program. I kept seeing the same three or four running alongside me, or jumping into action just as I would come around a corner. The funniest thing happened when I was grunting, (literally), up a short, steep climb. When I reached the top, there was a sharp right hander, and as I went around it, I saw to my right, down the hill, three doe deer watching me. The grunting and heavy breathing apparently didn't scare them off and I was embarrassed to find I had an audience. (Well, actually, I thought it was funny.)

Then I entered into the newer trail sections again. These are going to be really great when they get burned in. It adds a nice bit to the original loop, but right now, it is bumpy after getting pounded in by the few riders that have been over it. It will smooth out though. Give it time....

And the ride ended just like it started. One lone doe leaping away in front of me. If only I could harness some of that grace and power.....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Trans Iowa V8: Registration Announcement!

It is time to make the details on the registration for Trans Iowa V8 known to you who are interested. Those who are familiar with how it went down last year will be up to speed quickly, as I am following the same format. Details will be slightly different, of course, so pay attention!

Registration Format: I have always given preference to folks that have done Trans Iowa before when it comes to registering for the next T.I., and as of last year, Finishers were also recognized in like manner. So, once again, the Registration will be done in three waves with the Finishers getting first crack at the roster. (For a detailed look at the formatting, go back to This Post and you will get the gist of it)

Obviously we have more than 48 finishers all time now. That number has been bumped up by last year's finishers to 57 finishers. These 57 individuals will have first crack at the roster this year starting November 25th, 2012. Go to the Race Details And Registration page starting on "Black Friday" and if you are a Finisher, your name will appear there. Simply claim your Roster spot by sending me an e-mail saying so, and please include the following info in that e-mail:

  1. Your Name
  2. Class you wish to be entered in: Open Men's, Open Women's, or Single Speed/Fixed
  3. Contact info: (E-mail if different than sent by)
Finishers will have one week, (plus a few days), to get in before I open it up to the Veterans and Rookies. Finishers have until December 2nd to claim a spot.

Registration for the Veterans and Rookies will be done simultaneously and these classes will split the remaining available roster spots evenly. Registration will be by post card. Registration for Rookies and Veterans will start December 2nd, 2011. Post cards for Veterans must include the following, easily read information:
  1. Your Name and declaration that you are a Vet with T.I. versions ridden specified.
  2. Class Desired: (Open Men, Open Women, Single Speed/Fixed)
  3. Contact Information (Email, cell phone # {for communication during event})
  4. Answer the following question: What is Race Rule #11? (Write it out on your postcard)
Rookies are those that have not ever ridden a Trans Iowa before. Your post cards must include the following, easily read information:

  1. Your Name
  2. Class Desired: (Open Men, Open Women, Single Speed/Fixed)
  3. Contact Information (Email, cell phone # {for communication during event})
  4. Answer the following question: What is Race Rule #1? (ie: "The Golden Rule"- written out on your post card)
Notice: You have until December 10th to get in your post cards. Any cards received after this date will go on the Waiting List* Any class, (Veteran or Rookie), that fills up before December 10th will  have post cards added to the Waiting List*

Note On Post Cards: As always, post cards can be standard, store bought, or created. The one constant rule here is that I Must Be Able To Read Them! I have thrown out post cards that were illegible before. You can have post cards delivered by U.S.P.S., Fed Ex, UPS, hand delivered, delivered by courier, delivered by a friend or relative, or slid under the door. Here is the address to send them to:

Trans Iowa V8
c/o Europa Cycle & Ski
4302 University Avenue
Cedar Falls, IA 50613

*Waiting List: If your class fills up before December 10th, or if your post card gets to me after December 10th, your post card will go into a Waiting List that will be "first card in-first card in line" formatted. If any T.I.V8 Roster spot holder drops before January 31st, 2012 I will contact you to see if you want in by order of reception of post cards. The Waiting List will be maintained until January 31st, 2012, after which time no transfers will be allowed.

Finally: Post cards received before December 2nd will not be eligible. Roster spots will be filled on a "first card received-first on the roster" basis. I reserve the right to not allow entry based upon illegible writing, incomplete entry, or due to missing deadlines, or preceding opening of specified registration times.

Entry to T.I.V8 is free. There are no services provided by Trans Iowa, or its volunteers or sponsors. You Are Responsible For Yourself! By entering Trans Iowa you will agree to accept all responsibility for your well-being, safety, and for getting yourself out and back to Grinnell, Iowa either on your own or by means of support you have pre-arranged for. Trans Iowa, its volunteers, sponsors, or anyone remotely connected to the event will not help you, rescue you, or do anything to provide support to your excursion. You Are Responsible For You.

If that doesn't make sense to you, please do not enter in T.I.V8, or plan on coming to Grinnell to ride your bike. 


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Less Day Light, Longer Days

This is not the droid you are looking for...
Ya know, I can only clean that tool box so many times before it seems to make me look "OCD". is that time of year. The bike shop gets to be a pretty lonely place in November.

When I had my first shop job I remember days in November when the only person through the front door on some days was the mail man. We would spend the time sprucing up the place, cleaning the nooks and crannies that had been neglected when summer was around and we were too busy for such trivial details like dusting and cleaning in places no one ever looked.

Or we would be doing things like re-arranging a tool chest, like I was doing yesterday.

Of course, I've been at the shop long enough now that I have a routine for this. It goes something like the following...

Throughout the spring and summer months, I am doing repairs, putting on accessory items, and swapping out parts on lots of bicycles. Assembling bicycles sometimes too. All this activity would produce a plethora of spare fasteners, parts, and used parts too good to just toss. So, they get tossed in the little receptacles surrounding the work top of my tool chest, or inside of it. By the end of the season, those little receptacles are brimming with bits and pieces that run the gamut from small screws, nuts, bolts, sealed bearings, head set parts, pedals, all the way to rack parts and even things I can no longer identify, nor remember the reasons why they were saved in the first place.

Then comes the day in November when I run out of stuff to do. I then go through the entire mess, sort things out, store them in "proper containers" for later use, and clean up the underlying filth. So, now that this yearly task is done.......come visit your local bike shop!

We could use the company.