Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lookin' Ahead

Last day of 2011. Ah........buh-bye now!  On to next year and new changes and new challenges. Here's a few things I know that fit those categories right now. I'm sure more things will pop up along the way.

Old look fading away......
In the not-to-distant future, as in, within days, there will be an update to Twenty Nine Inches. The site hasn't seen a change to the page in almost six years, so it was beyond time to do some refreshing, updating, and spruce up the place a bit.

I can't take much of any credit here for the new look coming, because I am basically computer illiterate, but fortunately, I have a great help in Grannygear. (Thanks man!). Don't know what I'd do without some smart people helping me out.

I'll  be back....
Besides the Triple D event coming in a couple of weeks, (will we have any snow?), I am now reg'd up for another shot at CIRREM. This gravelly grinder down southwest of Des Moines will be a metric century of hills on February 25th. Last year was cold and snowy. This year? I may need a snow bike, or I could be getting sprayed with peanut buttery gravel on my Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush".

Then I'll be lining up in early April for the Renegade Gents Race with four other team mates. (Hopefully all sporting some facial hair!) So that's three events in the span of three months time to kick off the season. Top that off with a tentatively planned trip for two weeks to El Paso, Texas in March. I will be a busy boy!

But right now I have some other pressing business to take care of. Like finishing a titanium Mukluk, getting recon for T.I.V8 done, and riding sometime to get ready for all of this stuff happening in the first part of the year.

Oh yeah.......Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2012! 

Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Guitar Ted Productions Rear View 2011: Part IV

Continuing on with the remembrances from the last year that impressed me, we move on to the end of 2011...

Northfield Trip #2: Labor Day weekend was another time I had a blast up in Northfield, Minnesota with Ben Witt and his lovely wife. Mrs. Guitar Ted and Ben's wife like to shop, which left Ben, Curtis, and I all day to goof off on fat bikes, and we literally did take the whole day to do just that.

In the morning I built up my new Salsa Cycles hubs to my Rolling Darryls, replacing the bad hubs I had before. It didn't take me long to find out that the Salsa hubs were vastly superior, since we were doing stunts over rocks, down cement stair cases, and up and over twisty single track right outta the box.

We did urban stuff, we did single track in the woods, we did gravel roads, and bicycle paths. We ended the day by cruising a cemetery and a few dark, dim single track trails before it was just too dark to see. It was the perfect cap off to a sultry, hot summer of riding.

I learned a few things about fat bikes that day as well. I learned that they can do a lot more than you think, (snow), and are grin inducing, fun machines. In fact, it is largely due to this experience that I now cringe when I hear people refer to these bikes as "snow bikes".  That's selling them way too short.

Weird. Rain at Interbike.
Interbike: Of course, I went out to Interbike again. Last year I thought it would be my last time in Las Vegas, since Interbike had planned to move to Anaheim, California, but noooooo!

So, we found ourselves in the desert where.....it rained! That was a new experience, and the weather seemed to have the same subdued feel to the desert that the lack of attendance at Interbike had on the show.

There was a weird, almost lackadaisical feel to the show, which was totally different from the near hyper-activity level I normally experience here. I was completely okay with this, but it definitely wasn't the same as in years past. People had more time to talk, to actually relate to you. It was a nice change, but I don't think the folks running the show could have been very happy with the overall attendance numbers.

Interbike also marked the end of Summer for Iowa. By the time I got back, I could feel Fall had settled over the land, and I was going to be super busy doing testing for Twenty Nine Inches.

Trans Iowa V8: So, along with all the bicycle riding I was doing, I had to get Trans Iowa up and chugging along again. The Registration happened, and the roster filled up, while in the meantime, I was lining up stuff in Grinnell.

I also had to get the route planned, and to actually lay eyes to it. This will be the first time in a long time that I will be the one laying eyes to the entire course. I haven't had to do that for awhile.

So, fall progressed into what should have been winter, and no snow, with above average temperatures. Trying to get ready for riding next year hasn't been an issue, and Trans Iowa preparations have not been hindered. Trouble is, in December I always have the big birthdays, Christmas, and then my anniversary right after New Years. Added to that is all the other social gatherings, and Holiday time isn't the best for recon. But then again.....who would have guessed that I could do recon at all now?!.

So there are my highlights from 2011. It has been quite a year full of goings on, great people, and some bummers along the way. But for the most part, it was a great year. Awesome really. I hope yours was just as fun filled and action packed.

And now on to "next year". I'll go over some goals and thoughts about 2012 tomorrow. Stay tuned.........

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guitar Ted Productions Rear View 2011; Part III

In the continuing process of closing out the year with my best memories from 2011, I have a few more events to talk about......

Annual Frostbike pilgrimage to Mike's Bikes
Frostbike: This "dealer only" show in Quality Bicycle Products Bloomington, Minnesota warehouse/headquarters is a fun get together where I get to hang out with several folks I get to see all too rarely. It also includes getting together with Ben Witt and making a pilgrimage to Mike's Bikes in Northfield, Minnesota.

This is always a very special time for me. This past year was no different. Ben had just gotten his Pofahl custom snow bike together, we did hot laps around Mike's Bikes shop on a modified pre-war Schwinn cruiser, and skidded fat bikes around corners to the point that we had "rubbered in" the corners in Mike's cement floor.

Mike's is a special little chunk of bicycle shop heaven that is rare and disappearing across the nation. I am honored and thrilled to have been there and to have seen the things I have. Mike was one of the original Marin "klunker" guys, and the heritage and history of mountain biking he brought back with him to Northfield is a small treasure I count myself lucky to have been able to experience. Thanks Mike! Thanks Ben!

Frostbike was fun, and a bit anti-climatic, since we ended up coming home early to beat out a wicked winter storm that stranded a lot of folks up there. (Maybe we should have stayed and gotten stranded with everyone else!)

Boo-boo.
El Paso, Texas: My summertime trip to El Paso, Texas to visit my relatives usually involves some riding in the Franklin Mountain State Park, and this year was to be a great, two week trip with plenty of opportunities to ride. I brought two bikes and gear and was all ready to do some desert riding.

On my first ride there, I endoed and smashed a rock into my knee cap, splitting open the skin down to the bone. I was alone, it was in the 90's in the desert, I was unable to see, and didn't know if I could walk. The pain was incredible. I was scared.

Well, obviously I made it back to talk about it again, but suffice it to say, I learned a thing or three about myself and about what I needed to do for the next attempt there. I also learned to appreciate what I have: Family, friends, and my own life. Seriously- this was a big eye opener, and even though I was disappointed in not being able to ride anymore down there, (or for about two weeks), I would not have learned what I did without that experience. I've got a scar to remind me too.

Summertime ride with Ben, Curtis, and Jason B.
Northfield Trip #1: In July I went up to help with a criterium Ben Witt was helping put on, and I also got to ride with Ben, Curtis, and Jason B, which was one of my favorite rides of the year.

These guys are a blast to ride with, and I count them as friends. To be out on the rural Minnesota gravel roads in such beauty only enhanced the experience more.

I also got to hang out with Ben's Dad, Mark, and we drove classic cars around in the sun, drank soda from a 50 year old vending machine dispensing 10 ounce bottles, and hung out at a beach on a lake for a bit. That and Mrs. Guitar Ted and I got lost on bicycles in Northfield, plus we stayed at a great Hotel in downtown Northfield. This was a highlight of the entire summer for me. What a great time!

So much happened in one weekend that it is hard to express how much this trip meant to me and my wife. Thanks to all who were a part of this one.

GTDRI: Toledo, Iowa stop.
Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: Well, here was a cooker of a ride! It started out foggy, wet, damp, and cool-ish, and ended up becoming a sweltering death march of a ride at the end of the day, but we (almost) all completed a dirty century.

This was a great ride from several standpoints. The people were fantastic. I had folks come in from further abroad than I had ever had- (North Dakota, Michigan), and had more folks on the ride, (13 individuals at different points in the ride), and had a spectacular course to share with them.

The hills were less brutal than they are in Northeast Iowa, but still- they were not easy! We took in the "Wolf Creek Wall", which I had in T.I.V8, and is featured in the film trailer for "300 Miles of Gravel", (see if you can spot it!), which leads into a mile and a half section of hills that suck the life out of you after 75 miles of previous hills.

At any rate, it turned out to be a killer fun ride, and I didn't make the mistake of drinking too much the night before either! Plus I made a few new friends, which is always a good time. Thanks all who came out for that ride!

Okay, look for another Rear View 2011 post tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guitar Ted Productions Rear View 2011: Part II

CIRREM: Ice Beard. Fun.
Moving on with the look back at 2011 and what I thought were some of the highlights....This time focusing on the events I was in.

CIRREM 2011: For those that are not familiar, CIRREM, (or "Central Iowa Rock Road Endurance Metric"), is a gravel road race/ social gathering on bikes in late February. It's as likely to be muddy and wet as it is cold and snowy. You just never know. Sometimes it is all of those wrapped up in one big, wet, nasty mess.

Well, coming off a disappointing 2010 where I failed to finish most every ride I attempted, the finishing of CIRREM on a cold, snowy, frozen course was imminently satisfying. (Even though I about froze my feet off that day!) I even rode the old Badger I have, squealing brakes and all, and it was fun. Lots of fun.

The event, (which is probably at its field limit for 2012 by the time you are reading this), is based out of Cumming Tap, a prototypical Iowa bar in a small town. The event has that fun, loose feel that doesn't take itself too seriously. I like that. Besides, it takes in some crazy hilly, beautiful Iowa countryside. This kind of event is right up my alley, as far as "races" go, and the people are fun and friendly. I may not get to go again in 2012, but if I do, I will enjoy the ride.

Renegade "Gentleman"
Renegade Gents Race: Not long after CIRREM, I found out about the "Renegade Gents Race", a five man team style event. Five folks had to start together, get through a checkpoint together, and finish together. In between, you could do as you liked, but it was encouraged to stick together as a team.

This was a fun set up, but more than that, I only had ever met one of my "team mates" before toeing the line! That's right- I got to know three new folks by riding in a race with them. For 60 plus miles.

Well, it could have been a complete disaster, but it turned out to become one of the best rides I'd been on in a long time. I made some new acquaintances and our team finished the event together well, albeit not as high up the rankings as we would have liked. Still, I think it was an undeniable fact that we all had a great day out on the bikes with some fantastic people. What more is there than that? (Well, other than drinking a Bud, some Four Loko, and eating a killer chicken Caesar wrap with Sam at the checkpoint). 

This event may happen again for me in 2012. Keeping that option open, and growing my beard in anticipation of this event!

David Pals speaking with Eric Brunt at T.I.V7
Trans Iowa V7: And of course, I can not leave without a mention of the seventh running of Trans Iowa. We had 18 finishers, and the weather was pretty decent this time. Can't really complain there.

We had the biggest roll out of Rookies ever, we had a nice turn out, with 76 riders total, (the biggest field to take the start in T.I. history),and we finally had a Women's Open finisher in Janna Vavre.

We had the event filmed, which should come out in early 2012, as "300 Miles of Gravel", by Jeff Frings, and Steve Fuller took some awesome images for the event which have been published in "Dirt Rag" and "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News".  Grinnell was an awesome host city again, and overall, the event was seen to be a success.

It wasn't without stress and some turmoil, but that seems to be par for the course most years I have been involved with Trans Iowa. In the end, it was a bit of a bittersweet event, looking back, as it was the last with my co-director, David Pals on board.

Okay, there are more events to talk about, so hang on for more reminiscing tomorrow as I continue the "Rear View of 2011" . 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guitar Ted Productions Rear View 2011

Yes.......the dreaded, self examination at years end!  Oh the horror! Well, this year I am going to just muse on a few things that I felt were significant to me that others might possibly be able to relate to.

That's right- no month-by-month recounting of crap you don't care about! 

Today, I am going to spout off about fat bikes. The whole fat bike thing has always intrigued me and while I thought they would be fun, I never knew how fun they really would/could be until I finally got mine last January.

I was riding in weather I never would have rode in before, and I was loving every minute of it. Fat bikes made winter fun again. Then there was that dratted Phil Wood hub.......meh! That squandered a lot of my potential riding in winter. Thanks to Ben Witt,  I got a lot more rides in on snow than I would have otherwise.

Finally though, I had to give his wheel back, and I was snow-bike-less until August. Then the whole Phil thing fell apart and I went with Salsa Cycles hubs, which have been great, and I found out fat bikes do great on lots of things besides snow. It has been a ton of fun, and to let you know how much fun it has been, I went all in on another fat bike, (the titanium Mukluk), and I hope to ride fat bikes a whole lot more in 2012.

And as long as I am talking about bicycles.....let's not forget the other one I got this past year that has been just awesome for me- The Black Mountain Cycles "Monstercross", (but I call mine "Orange Crush") which was used extensively throughout the year.

This one got me home on the Renegade Gents Race, the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, and countless gravel adventures and commutes.

In fact, this coming year, I plan on using this bike more, and it will get a few upgrades along the way. I will get a new Chris King head set and bottom bracket in this. Maybe a couple more finer details, like TRP brakes, then it should be done.

I do have to say that I may not be the biggest fan of compact doubles though. Not on gravel, anyway. I think I need a cyclocross ring set up, and that may happen here soon.

So, these two bikes were a big, big deal for me this year. I had a ton of fun on both of them, and I am still stoked that both of these are still in my stable. There are other bikes I got that are awesome as well. Like the new Fargo Gen II, but not any others that have stoked the ride fire like the Mukluk and the Orange Crush.

I'll be back tomorrow with some more Guitar Ted Productions Rear View.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Where Is The Snow?

Well, I am not going to complain too much, because there are certainly benefits to not having all the white stuff around, but when you have a fat-bike, it seems a bit of a let down.

The temperatures have been uncanny here, and i know that they have been weird elsewhere too. My relatives in El Paso, Texas have had more snow so far than we have had. Heck.....they even had a white Christmas, while we were brown all the way through.

Strange days indeed, and especially so when you consider that the last four years have been really snowy. I think we have short term memories though, because if you go further past the last four years, the winters before that were not very snowy at all.

But that was the past, and this year seems odd at best. One thing it helps is with regard to T.I.V8 recon. I hope to be out there doing that today, actually. A report to follow if I am successful. In the meantime, I will share some more on the build of the titanium Mukluk, which has been dubbed "By-Tor".


I decided to go with these SRAM TT 10 speed shifters and Paul Thumbies. The end result will be a 10 speed rear thumb shifters that are SRAM compatible with my SRAM rear derailleur and 10 speed rear cassette.

Of course, some assembly was required. You have a few bolts to mess with to get the thumb shifters you desire, but it really isn't too hard a process. Give yourself about tem minutes and you will get there. Choice of beverage is optional. I went with "The Black Goodness" for this project, as I was feeling kind of tired.

Viola! Thumb shifters!

Of course, I won't be using the front/left shifter right off. That will be held in reserve for now, but I figured I may as well just swap out both at the same time.

I gotta say that the SRAM shift action is stiff! I wonder if that will break in a bit smoother after use, but right now it is a hard lever to move and when you do, it gives a solid "ker-chunk" when it goes into the next gear position.

My next task is to prepare the crank set. I have quite a bit of cleaning to do, and then I need to source a 32 or 34 tooth chain ring that will work with a 10 speed chain. I may have something, but I may not. Some digging around down in the Lab may turn something up, we'll see.

Until next time.....


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing all you out there, where ever you are, a very Merry Christmas.

I wish you all the best, and thanks for coming around to read my scribes.

I'll be back Monday with another post, till then, have a safe, joyous, and happy holiday.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Fat, Magic Carpet Ride: Part II

Puuuurple!
The Salsa Cycles Mukluk Ti is coming together, slow but sure, and most of the parts to build it up are in, or being prepared to be installed.

Here you can see my "one of the last ones" Chris King head set in purple. Looks mighty fine on there, no? I did forget to order a new crown race, so that will get done post-Christmas. You can also see the nice re-enforcement rings on each end of the head tube here too.

The front end will also be graced by that Surly rear single speed hub in purple ano, which should bring a little "pop" to the bike in terms of color. Most of my components will be grey or black, so a few points of color will make the bike visually more stimulating. (At least I think so!)

One question came up earlier in the comments, and it had to do with the fork. I gave a lot of thought to switching the fork over to a White Brothers Snow Pack fork, but in the end there were a few considerations that made me choose to stick with the Enabler Fork instead. Here they are....

  1. The White Brothers fork is made to accept a front hub disc brake mount standard. This means you have to use a 135OLD front specific hub, like the Jones, Paul WHUB, or a couple of others. That also means that the wheel one builds for such a fork is dedicated to that fork only. Kind of limiting when you already have a fat bike with a rear hub standard front hub. 
  2. Another thing about the White Brothers fork is that it is a "one trick pony". It holds a front wheel, and that is all. No mounts for anything. The Enabler can do racks, water bottles, or the versatile Anything Cage. It also has fender mounts!
  3. The White Brothers fork is very expensive, and only saves about a half pound of weight. 
When taken in aggregate, the choice became obvious to me. Use the Enabler fork!

Moar puuuurple!
Here you go- a look at the seat post clamp. I swapped out the provided pewter clamp for this, more eye catching one, and again- it will tie into the purple theme. Three purple parts hardly makes a "Barney-bike" outta this, but it does give the bike less of a "grey scale" look had I stuck with black components.

Here also you see a glimpse of the FSA seat post from the SLK series. The unidirectional carbon fiber does catch the light and makes for some more visually stimulating places for the eye to rest on here. I was a bit anxious about this post, as it is only a 350mm one and needs 100mm of that inserted into the seat tube. At minimum insertion, I am just at my proper seat height with the WTB SST saddle.

Granted- I could go with a saddle that had a higher profile than the SST, or I could get 180mm cranks, or do both, and get a bit more insertion, but as it is, it should work! If it doesn't, I have a 12K weave Origin 8 carbon post waiting in the wings that is longer. Come to think of it, I've got an old uni-directional carbon Tamer post somewhere too. (Remember those?)

Chain guide, DH Platinum FSA BB
 Finally, we have this shot showing the FSA Platinum DH ISIS bottom bracket in the 100mm shell width, of course. The set up I will be using is a "1 X" set up, so without a front derailleur, I needed a chain guide. In with the MRP part seen here, which should tame any unwanted chain jump and keep my chain on the chain wheel.

The crank set and ring will be an older Bontrager crank, the very one I used on the Snow Dog at first, set up with a Salsa Cycles chain ring.

The reasons for this set up come from my experiences on The Snow Dog. I rarely if ever used anything but the middle ring riding everywhere I did this past year. I almost never used the two largest cogs on the cassette- a 32 and a 36T- and that leads me to believe that for most of my riding, this 1X10 set up should do me just right around the Mid-West.

This also allows me to fine tune the gearing a bit with chain ring sizes, but I think most of the time I will be using a 32T or a 34T front ring. This also makes tire clearances a non-issue with respect to ever using 100mm rims and the largest tires. (I don't necessarily plan to run rims that big, but I could.)

The crank spec could also change here at some point to a White Industries 180mm and then I would use a Phil Wood bottom bracket. This would look cooler, be a shade lighter, and be better for the aforementioned seat post insertion and single speeding.

I also may swap in a granny gear on the Bontrager crank at times for mountain rock crawling, at which point I will need to get an XT high direct mount front derailleur, but that can wait.

That's all for now. More on the build as I get to it.

Merry Christmas!


Friday News And Views

Made In The U.S.A.: I came across this article written by Bruce Gordon, he of frame building fame, on his "SOPWAMTOS" blog. He laments the fact that frame building, (and I assume components as well, since he brings up stems, etc), have been "out-sourced", or in other words- stuff isn't being made in the U.S. anymore. The main point of the piece being that if we do not support those who do make stuff here in the U.S., it will all wither and die and go away.

In terms of bicycles, one has to keep reminding themselves that a complete bicycle  is a system of parts originating from all over the place, (but yes- mostly from Asia), and that by merely making the frame in the U.S, it isn't really accomplishing all that much. It is something to be sure, but come on...... Made in the U.S.A. means "all of it made here" to most folks. That isn't going to happen anytime soon.

There was a time when a "Made in the U.S.A." drive train was done here. In the mid-90's, the 'CNC machine craze" was full on in mountain biking, and the dream of a full U.S. manufactured drive train was quickly becoming a reality. Riders were into it too, regardless of the high price of entry. Most of the parts costing 3 times what comparable Asian manufactured drive train parts cost.

However; poor quality and Shimano's introduction of XTR pretty much knocked that idea right outta the ring. U.S. made or not- the stuff needed to work well, and Shimano just killed the CNC guys with their forging technology and engineering. So it has been ever since.

I like Bruce Gordon's idea, and his heart is in the right place, but reality has a long way to go before this kind of "Made in the U.S.A", "people that make their own shit" idea ever becomes feasible for riders. Making more than just frames would be a good start. That said, support those guys that do try.

Surly "Big Dummy"
Cargo Bike Dilemma: I have been bouncing ideas back and forth concerning what I wanted to do about a cargo bike. I have an "Xtracycled" Schwinn Sierra from the 80's, and well.......I find it to be sub-optimal for my needs.

It does have all of the nice Xtracycle accessories though, so I just didn't want to switch to something that I couldn't make use of those accessories with. That meant the excellent Fisher Collection Transport was out of the running. I really, really like that bike, but it doesn't play with my stuff. So, the next apparent choice was the Sun Atlas cargo bike, but I found out that it also does not accept all of the accessories I have already.

That leaves the Big Dummy, which isn't a bad choice at all. It obviously will take on all of my accessories from Xtracycle, and it is smartly designed. I look forward to building that rig out next spring.

Image Credit: W. Kilburg
Trans Iowa V8: So, this "non-snow" event we're having looks to be playing into my hands now in regard to Trans Iowa recon. I usually am stuck just sitting around thinking about stuff this time of year. Not this year.

I haven't had the opportunity to get out yet for a couple weeks due to illness and then family obligations, but I look forward to scooting out and doing some more recon very soon.

I have a certain section to get at that should be the end of any speculation on my part for the course. A big part of the last bits I am already quite familiar with, and I only need to string it together and drive it to verify the roads. All told, there is about a 150 miles to drive yet, and then it will all be in the bag.

Then it will be all detail work. Cue sheets, getting the finish line setting squared away, number plates, or not, and drumming up some volunteers for the Checkpoint #1 duty and one other checkpoint. Want to volunteer? Give me a shout and I'll get you on my list.

Okay, that's a wrap. If you are traveling, have a safe trip, and Merry Christmas from Guitar Ted Productions! I'll be checking in here this weekend at least once, otherwise, see ya next week!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Harvesting Parts.

You will donate your parts to my Ti awesomeness!
Okay....enough with all the teasers, here is the entire frame for ya'all to look over. This is the Salsa Cycles Mukluk Ti frame. (It comes with a pewter Lip-Loc seat collar, an Enabler front fork, the Problem Solvers front derailleur direct mount,  and a spare driveside drop out that has the derailleur hangar integral to it.)

Those sharp eyed amongst you will notice that the cables are not routed down the down tube on this one. They are run underneath the top tube and underneath each seat stay. No funky rear brake route.

The down tube is bi-axially ovalized for strength and stiffness, the head tube is reinforced, and is a 1 1/8th standard diameter. (Getting rather odd to see that these days) There are three bottle mounts on this size Large, with two more on the fork. The down tube and fork can also mount Salsa Cycles "Anything Cages", which are designed for canisters and dry bags. The rear drop outs are the Salsa Cycles "Altenator Drop Outs" which allow for single speed set up, or I suppose one could fine tune their wheel base with those as well. Again- there is a derailleur compatible Altenator plate also supplied with the frame, and that isn't shown here.

Also not shown is the Problem Solvers Direct Mount Adapter for the Mukluk. This allows for the fitment of a front derailleur, if desired. I'm not planning on using a front derailleur right away, so that part will be omitted from my build initially.

Some things were sacrificed along the way...
I've got a load of parts sitting at the shop waiting for me to pay for them so I can get started on this little project. I'll get into all of that later, but I will detail the parts I "harvested" yesterday to help with the completion of this rig.

I always like to incorporate a bit of the vintage or otherwise "old" into my new bike builds, and this one is no different. The specific parts that are old here will actually be some of the most notable/noticeable ones too.

First up, I have the Surly rear hub, which was one of the super rare purple anodized ones they did several years ago. This hub will become the center piece for the front wheel, and will be part of my theme, color-wise, for this build. I like purple. It is one of my favorite colors. That said, I won't be going overboard with it. Just a few highlights will be enough. By the way, the hub was laced to one of my 29"er wheels, which I sacrificed for this build.

Bead blasted panel
The next keystone to this theme is my  Chris King head set in purple ano, so graciously gifted to me by George over at Bike 29.com. This head set was amongst the very last three purple ano head sets ever made by Chris King. This head set was in my old '07 El Mariachi, which was torn down for this project.

There will be one other purple bit, but I will cover that in the new parts later.

Another harvested part here is the WTB SST leather covered saddle, which also came from my old El Mariachi. SST's or Pure V saddles are my favorites. I like Brooks B-17's as well, but this is going to be used as a mountain/trail bike, so I don't want a B-17 on there for that reason.

The grips, Ergon Bio-Kork models, were also ripped from the El Mariachi, and will provide a nice, comfy perch for the hands that shouldn't suck any heat out in the cold, but will work great in summer too.

Finally, there are the new, never before installed FSA SLK parts. The seat post, handle bar, and stem have been sitting on the hold shelf waiting for a special project, and this is it.

I'll have more on the parts for this titanium frame coming soon, which I suppose I should name "By-Tor", since the other Mukluk is named "The Snow Dog", eh?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chasing The Next Trends

Circa 2007 Haro Sonix w/650B wheels

So, a lot of folks are going to start to wonder, "what's next" in terms of mountain biking. Why? Because we seem to get bored with the latest and greatest at warp speed anymore. You know, "that was soooo 27 seconds ago!". That attitude scares the bejesus outta marketing wonks, and the general public. So....once the newest stuff hits, the next trend is always being looked for, and here is what is going to hit you all upside the head in the coming months and years.

29"ers, once the bastard chile of da mountain bike world, is now "normal". That's bad. Bad for marketing "cutting edge" products. Long travel 29"ers are very problematic, the short chain stays/tire clearance/triple crank clearance trifecta being nigh unto impossible to achieve with big 29 inch diameter wheels. So, the marketers have decided for you that 120mm-130mm is going to be the limit for travel on 29 inch wheeled mountain bikes.

What are you going to do if you want 5" of travel and beyond with "big wheels"? You will get the "compromise wheel solution" called 650B by their supporters. (I still like 27.5"ers, but that's just me.) Why? Because the marketing wonks have latched on to this solution big time. Trust me, you will hear a lot about this wheel size starting next spring for the 2013 model year. I can't even make any hints right now, but I have actually seen some things, and it is coming. Long travel 27......er, 650B- is going to be "the next big thing" in mountain bikes.

Plug In- Charge Up- Tune Out: The other "big deal" you are going to start hearing a lot about is electronic shifting for mountain bikes. That's right- you won't have to tune your bike again, and shifting will be by buttons that won't fail you......well, that is until the power goes out. The only two cables on your bike will be hydraulic lines to your brakes. Yeah, and by the way- that will be an 11 speed set up too. I expect that the range of gearing will stay constant- 11-32/36, but the jumps between gears will tighten up even further. Shimano is really big on the tighter gear ratios right now, so look for that to happen instead of a wider gearing range.

The death of 9 speed will be hastened by all of this with Shimano and SRAM dropping 8 speeds to bare entry level rigs, and 9 speed will be the realm of cheap "mountain bike shaped objects". Real mountain bikes will all be 10 speed systems, or the aforementioned 11 speeds.

Fat-bikes: More than just for snow.
Real. Fat. Tires.: You are going to hear a lot more about "fat-bikes". Not only that, but some are going to start showing up that will be designed for tasks outside of snow/sand riding.

I expect someone will crack open a box someday soon with a fat-bike specific suspension fork. I can see dual suspension fat bikes being sold, (tinkerers are already making convincing examples from 29"er FS bikes), and more materials technology is going to be thrown at this genre' of bike to help make wheels lighter, stronger, and more fun and capable.

There may be some drive train tweaks that will make the bikes work with wide range triples, 9-10 speed cassettes, and 100mm wide rims with 4.5" rubber. I also expect to start seeing someone offer a conversion, or an outright designed 170mm internally geared hub. Belt driven too. Accessories for fat-bikes will start to appear like fenders, racks, and components designed to work in a wide range of temperatures and severe conditions. Tubeless tire systems and tubeless ready tires may even be a possibility.

Those are the things you're going to start hearing a lot more about in 2012 and beyond.......

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Fat, Magic Carpet Ride

No decals!
Well........I bet it won't take you long to figure out what this is!

I decided to take the plunge and I ordered a new Salsa Cycles Mukluk Ti, or in other words, a titanium Mukluk frame and steel Enabler fork.

Having seen other titanium Salsa Cycles products, I was quite aware of the quality of workmanship that a titanium fat-bike from them would bring to the table. When I saw that Salsa was going to do a flotation bike last year, I knew a titanium one would follow shortly. It just made too much sense. Then when the call went out for pre-orders to Salsa Cycles dealers, like the shop where I work, I jumped on the bandwagon. I didn't know exactly when it would come in, but it has now, and I will begin getting parts for this rounded up.

The Muk 1 comes with a SS dropout and a geared one.
The plan for this frame and fork will be to build up a "summer" fat bike. In essence, I will using this most of the year, and the Snow Dog will be limited to actual winter snow bike duties and outfitted accordingly.

Since most of the year is snow-free here, the titanium bike will be the non-snow rig. (But that doesn't mean I would not ever use it in snow!)

The tentative plan now is to go 1X9 or 10 with a SRAM TT shifter on a Paul's mount thumbie style. If I gear correctly, it should be just peachy for almost anywhere I go with this bike. I will be using an ISIS crank, but I have not determined what it will be just yet. For times I go to the mountains, I may swap over to a Origin 8 Sub Compact crank for even lower gear choices and then I'll use an XT direct mount 2X derailleur. But for now, it's 1X. I may even do a single speed set up at some point.

The wheels will be a bit different. I am going to use a Surly rear single speed hub as a front hub and a Salsa Cycles rear 170OLD hub. These will be laced to Fatback UMA II 70mm rims that are drilled out. No need to have the widest rims on a summer fat bike build, and the Fatback rims will be lighter than Rolling Darryls too. Tires will eventually be Husker Du's. (They are not quite available yet.) I also have spare 3.8 Larry tires to swap over to if I desire.

The rest of the build will be pretty swanky stuff, most of which I already have. Chris King head set, FSA stem, carbon bars, and carbon seat post. I'll probably get a WTB SST saddle on there, and Ergon Bio-cork grips. Brakes will be the new Elixir 9's from Avid in a pewter hue, which should go well with titanium. The blades will be carbon fiber on those as well.

It will be awhile before this one is ready to roll, but I will put up some progress reports on the build as I go. Stay tuned for the "as yet to be named" titanium Mukluk!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fat-Bike At Night

Night riding adventure!
I've made a little loop out from the house that I can take on the Snow Dog. It takes me through the Green Belt and around that little lake-pond out there, then back on the bike path towards the house.

It isn't a spectacular route. It isn't all that difficult, but it is fun, and at night the trails take on another dimension. Things get a bit tougher, and with the fat-bike it goes a little slower. Just right, really, for the training I need to be getting in right now.

Mostly, I don't have to worry about any obligations at night. My wife is doing her exercise routine anyway, or she is doing household work that I am not invited to partake in, (because I would totally screw up the laundry, as a for instance), and my children are off to bed. I may as well fit a bike ride in then as any time, right?

The big key to unlocking the potential night rides now was getting a "real" light. That Lezyne Super Drive I have been writing about lately really does alright at night in the woods. I ran it at the 300 lumen setting, and it worked really well. Now I need to remember that light I use for the helmet the next time I go out!

Spooky light in the sky
So the other thing I have been doing is messing around with my Panasonic LX-3 out there. It takes in a ton of light, and I have to get myself a tripod at some point, but for now, I have been just trying to use things like my bicycle seat to steady the camera on for these longer exposures.

The last shot here is me holding the camera on top of my head, pointing it straight into the sky. The air was full of frost coming down and that left a spooky image which I thought was kind of cool. (That bright spot is a star) Maybe its just me, but I get a kick out of messing around like this with my camera.

Well, that isn't all that is going on out there. I have a bit of an obstacle to cross. A very steeply cut bank with about a foot of ice cold water running through it at the bottom. Without a bike as heavy as the Mukluk, I could leap across this chasm, but with it I am forced to get across by using the bike as a pick.

It gets kind of sketchy at night, the ground is super slick, and the bank is very steep. Made for a few tense moments there, but I made it across. I didn't realize that I had doused my rotor with water though, and it froze over the surface of the rotor after I got back to riding. Hitting the brake the first time was a bit scary! After a few hard applications though, it went away and I was off bounding through the woods again.

I think the Lezyne light and a torch strapped to my helmet will be a killer combo for doing more of this sort of riding in the coming weeks. Well, at least until it snows! Then I may have to modify my route somewhat.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Could Take The Rest Of The Year Off Now, But...

There is always the "but", no? Well, yes, there always is that, and in my case, I am not stopping here. So what in the world is the title about?

My personal blogging "PR" for a year has now officially been smashed. Previous record for a year was 372 posts, (for those keeping track at home).

Well, now with that out of the way, here are some bits to chew on for your Sunday.....

Kingdom Bike Project Savant 140
Long Travel 29"ers: While some may scoff at the need for a really long travel 29"er, that doesn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm of others to make such products available. Here we see a rendering for a carbon fiber frame from "Kingdom Bikes Project" called the Savant.

(Note: They didn't call it an "Idiot Savant", which I find mre appealing, but that's just me.)

So, a carbon frame with carbon swing link that is convertible to a 120mm travel. The planned design has really slack angles too. Crazy slack in the 140mm mode for a 29"er at 67* head/69.5* seat angles.

Not sure how that'll work, but hey! Pre-order is available, so you can jump in and find out, presumably, next spring. With these numbers it seems that you could set the bike up with a 100mm travel and get reasonable angles and bottom bracket heights. Hmm......

Origin 8 Scout 29 V4
Origin 8 Scout 29 Updated: This is a spy shot of the Scout 29 from Origin 8 that is due for an update in the coming year. This will mark the fourth update of this model that I am aware of.

This time, Origin 8 is promising lighter steel tubing. That should make for a livelier ride quality, and obviously shed some grams.

The last generation or two of this bike was pretty porky, but handled really well with a 470mm axle to crown fork on tight single track. No word on any major changes to the design beyond the tubing change.

If that geometry stays intact, the Scout 29 with a lighter frame may just jump up the ladder as an excellent choice for a budget single track screamer.

Yes: That's really "that guys" grave site!
Ibis Ripley 29: You're looking at the only Ibis Ripley 29"er that is rideable in existence right now. It is being "real world" tested to sus out any flaws in the design, but I suspect this will be close to final production, in terms of the silhouette.

The Ripley is a much anticipated release, and with no surprise, since its 26"er sibling is a very desirable and much lauded bike. This Ripley has a lot to live up to.

The Ripley is using a similar idea to the Yeti SB 95 in that the short link pivots are so close together they were integrated into an eccentric. Whether or not this plays out to be a good idea, that has yet to be determined from a longevity/maintenance perspective. However; the indications are that it should be a really good design.

Chances are this will end up becoming Ibis' best selling bike in short order, judging from all the hoopla it generated at Eurobike when it was unveiled. Prices will be steep, but I don't think that will deter the bikes success in any way. Ibis' other high end offerings have a good track record of sales as well.

Okay, that's all for today. I'm going back to sip on my Christmas coffee and chill out for a while as I celebrate the season!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Triple D Training Update

Okay, so this event is a month away now and Christmas, New Years, my wedding anniversary, and all that goes with that stands between my training and the time of this event.

Who came up with this schedule anyway?

No snow either......yet!
Then you add in the fact that I was pretty much totally out of whack health-wise for a week. It started a week ago with a severe stomach virus and shooting fluids out of both ends until I was so dehydrated that I had a piercing head ache, and muscle cramping to the point I couldn't sleep well, if at all. This went on until Tuesday, when I was able to retain anything without spontaneous eruption, and the long road to recovery began there.

So, needless to say, my chemistry has been unbalanced for a while, and even just casually riding to work and back was a major undertaking. I did get that night ride in, and then Friday afternoon I finally got a proper training ride in again, the first in well over a week.

So, yeah.......my preparation for this event is waaaay off schedule!

That's why these Holidays are really going to mess with things. I just don't see myself getting into any kind of a groove going into this deal. So, ya know what? I'm just going to go for a ride that day. 

Did some pond circumnavigating....
Oh, don't get me wrong- I am going to triple D, toeing the line, and riding, but that is exactly it- I will be out for a ride that day.

I have zero designs on being in any semblance of "shape" or "fitness" for this deal. Not after being drug down to the edge, having my health in such disarray for over a week, and then not being able to schedule anything close to "regular" training up to the event.

Truth be told, I am still not up to 100%, and if I push things too far, to soon, I won't get back to 100%. I just had to mentally make peace with that for this event. I have to set a different goal, and for this event, it is going to be exploring a new area by bike. Others will be racing. I will be riding. For fun.

So, there ya have it. If I can even cover a majority of the miles others get in, then fine. That will be a win for me. I just have to concenterate on getting better at this point.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday News And Views

Videos To Waste Away Your Friday By: Okay, today I am going to feature a couple of things that tickled my fancy recently in the form of videos. The first is from a U.K. persona, Ed Oxley, better known on the "inner-web-o-sphere" as "Great Rock". He is a mountain bike guide and skills instructor, and generally all-around good egg, from what I know of him. And.........he has a rockin' beard!


Edventure from Whitenosugar Productions on Vimeo.


Well, recently the video above made the rounds and it is really representative of his humor and shows what you can do to just have fun and "adventure by bike". Check it out. (Note: There may be  a foul word in here, but with that dialect, I have a hard time knowing if I've been offended or not. On the whole this is harmless. I would definitely let my kids watch it, for instance.)

Next up we have this sent to me by T.I. Vet "Dr. Giggles". It is one of those electro-vox-animated deals that you see a lot of, but the subject matter, (concerning cyclist's propensity for odd, pain related activities and for excessive spending on gear), really hits close to home. I found myself laughing, despite myself, at a few points. A bit long at 7-plus minutes, and definitely Not Safe For Work due to language.

 

The "no-name" "Neck Romancer", er..whatever!
A Bit On The Surly Black...er Necro...er....Whatever! Black Pugs!

In what can only be termed as "ludicrous", a recent paint scheme naming frenzy surrounding the innocent looking fat-bike in the image here has occurred.

First shown as the "Black Ops Pugsley", this bike was basically a "murdered out" Pugs with a twist on the typical parts spec. Okay. No big deal, right?

Well, a certain "importer" has used "Black Ops" as a branding name and, (we're guessing), because of that, made Surly change the name. Surly then chose "Necromancer" as the designation for this special Pugs. Well, the "dark" nature of this name brought howls of disapproval from the peanut gallery, and apparently, to assuage them, Surly made yet another change to the name. Now called the "Neck Romancer", it has gotten to the point of being ridiculous and has gone waaay too far. How about we just call it the "Black Pugs" and be done with this madness?

Besides all of that nonsense, the bike itself seems pretty cool. It feels shorter and more nimble than a Mukluk, but doesn't weigh much different, and they both are great bikes. This is a pretty rare bird right now. The "Black Pugs" is tough to come by due to high demand. We were lucky to score this one for a customer at the shop where I work. 

At the 450L/High setting
 Update On The Lezyne Super Drive: Well, I got out on the bike the other evening with the Lezyne Super Drive attached to the Snow Dog. Here are my initial thoughts...

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!  Uh.......'scuse me! Well, you might find yerself singin' the same tune when/if you try the Super Drive. It is a commuter's dream light, I think. Bright, yes, but that beam pattern! Look at how it floods and throws light down the trail in my, (not so great, I know), shot here. Very even, not much of a hot spot at all, and no halo/ring effect from the lens. The light color is also really good.

Of course, that is on High. What about the other settings? Well, Medium/300lumens is just as impressive and boots the run time up a bit. Only when dropping off to the 150 lumen setting do you see a dramatic dip in visibility, but honestly, I could ride gravel in the country as fast as I dared to go in the day for the entire 4.5 hours of run time available on Low setting. 150 lumens is really quite enough for that sort of riding.

Again, it is the quality of the beam pattern and throw that get me excited about this light. I'll give it some more runs before offering a final opinion, but this thing is really impressing me so far.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ode To An Old Bag

The time was coming and I knew it. I couldn't put it off forever, but I wasn't quite ready to cut the ties just yet. Then, suddenly, an opportunity came and I opted to accept it. With that fateful decision made, the die was cast.

I'm sorry Old Bag, but it is time for me to move on......

The last load......
You were good. Really good, and I didn't think that we would get on as well as we did. When you came to me, I scoffed at the idea that I needed such a contraption to use for commuting, or for anything else, really. But I found that you, Old Bag, were awesome at hauling stuff I might need to repair my bike, and clothes that I needed to wear, or for other errands that I could do by bicycle. And that wasn't all. There were all the trips we went on as well.

The Old bag and I went to California and saw Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Francisco. We went to Texas, Utah, Nevada, and Minnesota.

We did events like the Dirty Kanza 200, Gravel Worlds, and The Renegade Gents Race together. We did CIRREM, a few Fargo Adventure Rides, and several Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitationals together. I don't even want to think about all those gravel road recon miles and Trans Iowas we did! 

We were in airports from Georgia to Illinois, Texas to Minnesota, and more. We went camping. We went on adventures by bicycle. Yeah.......there were a lot of memories with you, Old Bag, but now it is time to make memories with another.

 Even though you are not quite dead yet, you are showing your age. That zipper is getting worse, and the travel stained material is starting to show a lot of wear. You were good. You never complained through it all though, I'll hand that to ya.

All the times I over-stuffed you. All the times I hurriedly kicked you under an airplane seat. The bumping, the banging. The frozen slush, the wet mud. The time I left a muffin inside of you until it was pulverized to bits. (Not found until weeks later!) None of it fazed you in the least. I can only hope that your replacement is as hardy, as worthy as you are.

It isn't like I am throwing you out to the curb either. Oh no! I wouldn't do that to you, faithful Old Bag. Nope, but you've paid your dues, and now it is time for retirement. Thanks Old Bag, you done good!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lezyne Super Drive: New Generation LED Light

It's not all that big
The good folks at Lezyne sent over this new Super Drive LED light to be reviewed on The Cyclistsite. It is one of three models Lezyne is introducing for 2012.

I thought I would give everyone a sneak peek at this much anticipated light.

The Lezyne lights have been teased since Interbike and were strongly rumored before then, but details were somewhat scarce. The line up includes this top of the line Super Drive, the Power Drive, and the Mini Drive.

The range has some zap to it power-wise too. The top end Super Drive sports 450 lumens, the Power Drive has 300 lumens and the Mini Drive has a high power of 150 lumens. All are self contained units. No separate battery packs here. My first impression upon looking at the Super Drive was, "Man! That thing isn't very big."

It is about the size of a Mag Lite Mini, if you are familiar with those older Halogen bulbed flashlights. It is light in weight, and the model I have here is anodized in a nice pewter hue.


The package contains everything you need to get up and rolling. There are two mounts to match up with 25.4mm or 31.8mm bars, a thumbscrew to fasten the clamps, the proprietary battery, torch body/lens with mounting base, the USB charger cord, and the instructions.

The torch has a rear cover that unscrews to allow access to the inner cavity where the battery resides. Install the battery, hook up the USB cord to the covered port at the base of the torch body, and plug it into your powered USB port on your computer, or USB power wall wart. The instructions claim a four hour charge time, but my example was charged fully in just over three hours out of the box.

Interestingly, the light is made to flash softly as it charges. When it stops, the light is fully charged. If you want an assurance that it is done charging, the instructions say unplug the USB cord, then plug back in, and the light should flash once, indicating a full charge. My example didn't do this right off. I un-plugged and plugged back in three times before I got the "one flash then off" signal.

Once charged up, you can expect the following run times:
  • High: 450 lumens- 1.5hr
  • Medium 300 lumens- 2.5hr
  • Low 100 lumens- 4hr
  • Flash 300 lumens- 5hr
To turn on the unit, hold down the button on the top of the torch for 1.5 seconds. It illuminates at high power first. Hit the button again to tab down to Medium, and so on through to Flash mode, and then it will cycle around back to High. To power down, hold the button down for 1.5 seconds.

The light indicates low power by kicking down to the Low mode and flashing occasionally indicating approximately 15 minutes of reserve battery power. Additionally, you can re-charge from any point in the discharge of the battery without affecting the run times according to Lezyne. Leaving the battery plugged into the USB charge cable and a computer/power source after a complete charge also is not detrimental to the unit.

The light mounted up to my bars easily, and it has a swivel which allows for a few degrees of tilt side to side to adjust the beam as you like it. Of course, up and down is adjusted simply by twisting the bar mount on the bars. Sadly, there is no helmet mount included.  The Lezyne Super Drive MSRP is $109.00.

I haven't had a chance to ride this with this light yet, but my impressions are that if it can live up to its claims it will be a great little light. I'll have more to say soon after I get some rides in on it.

Note: Lezyne sent this light over to be reviewed on The Cyclistsite at no charge. They did not bribe me nor pay me for this post, and I will strive to give my honest opinions and thoughts throughout.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Righting A Wrong

Pofahl Custom 29"er
I've got a lot of bicycles. No denying that fact. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, by the way. I don't think it is a bad thing as long as I actually use each one that belongs to me when I can.

The trouble is that I have this other gig where people want me to ride their bikes and other stuff. That is also a lot of fun, but it takes time away from the personal bikes. Sometimes the old favorites get parts pinched for projects. Sometimes they just sit and linger unloved.

This gets on my nerves, as I don't like having stuff I don't use around like that. So, this feeling got to a point where I figured I'd better do something about it and I have been refurbishing and primping my older personal rigs when I can find the time. This one, my custom Pofahl 29"er, has been fixed to the point I could ride it again yesterday.

The Pofahl was designed to have a custom bar installed that never happened. So, I started out with a drop bar. The bike has seen several handle bar iterations, but now I have set it back to its "original" drop bar state. The bar here is a Woodchipper. The stem holding it up is a fairly new Bontrager Race Lite.

Looking for some back roads action

This is a single speed specific bike, so I only use disc brake capable, single speed specific wheels on it. These wheels were to go on another bike I have that ended up geared instead. These Industry 9 wheels were then bounced around from project to project for a bit until they were also just sitting around. Well, that wouldn't do!

So they went on the Pofahl- again- and with some good gravel grindin' Vulpines for tires. Everything else has been on this bike for some time now.

My favorite parts are the cranks and the seat post. The cranks are from my old Diamondback V-Link Pro, and are the venerable Race Face Turbine LP's converted to single speed use. They are 180mm ones too. The other part I like here is the Syncros post, a 410mm non-offset aluminum one. That was off my old Klein Attitude.

I threw some old white bar tape on to get it going, but now that everything seems to be happy together, I will be getting some proper bar tape on it. Then it will be off to riding gravel and B Maintenance roads somewhere.

If there is any change, I think it will be to go with a honey colored B-17 Brooks and a new bar wrap of leather bar tape to really set off the bike. Oh yeah.......and a less flashy stem!At least she's rideable. That's the main thing for me. I look forward to getting out on this bike soon.


Monday, December 12, 2011

On The Road To Recovery

You know, there are some things in most of our lives we'd rather forget. Things like that window you broke when you were seven, the time you put the car in the ditch in high school, or maybe ever asking that one person out. Whatever it is, we all have those moments. I had a weekend that was mostly forgettable on that same level.

Lincoln Stars vs Waterloo Blackhawks
Now.....don't get me wrong. There were some highlights. That said, it wouldn't take a whole lot to rise above the depths of what was Friday. Yeah....there were about four hours in there I'd rather not ever go through again!

Got kids? well, if you do, you will understand the following. My son came down ill on Wednesday night. Bad vomiting, stomach ache, head ache- the typical 24 hour deal. Well, he ended up sharing that with the entire Guitar Ted household.

And wouldn't ya know it? I got the worst end of the stick. My insides were at war with me, and they almost won. Almost. (There was a bit there where I wish they would have won, and that I could just die. Really. )

I won't go into all the gory details. Just know that when devoid of almost all bodily fluids, you really get weak, and the hurt is really bad. It has been a slow walk back from that pit the rest of the weekend. Not that I am back yet either. I'm not. You just don't bounce back at my age like you used to.

So, no bike riding for me this weekend. It was pretty darn nice out there too, for a mid-December weekend, that is. I actually was planning on doing some Trans Iowa recon, but alas. Not to be.

I did get to play my guitar at the church, make a lot of noise, and went to a hockey game with my two kids, who are almost recovered themselves. Mrs. Guitar Ted is the one sick now. She's coming along though. One of those deals.......

Hope you got to ride some roads or trails this past weekend. Me? I'm still on the Road To Recovery.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

T.I.V8: The Registration Is Done, Now What?

Registration closed last night and the roster is set for another Trans Iowa. First I'll give my thoughts on the folks that got in and then I'll give you a look at what's next in terms of Trans Iowa.

Well, it turned out to be pretty interesting at the end there! A last small slug of Vet entries took away whatever hope a few Rookies had of sliding into T.I.V8 without sitting on The Waiting List to see if they can get in. Veterans came within two of filling out their class this time, which surprises me a bit, I guess, especially considering who didn't get into the event from the Finishers and Veterans pool.

Notable Trans Iowa folks that are generally factors in the event like Tim Ek, Joe Meiser, and Sean Mailen elected not to come back. That said, there are Rookies in the event that are amongst Tour Divide finishers and premier rando events like Paris-Brest-Paris. (I'll let them introduce themselves when the time is right.)

Then there are some folks entered into Trans Iowa V8 that go waaaaay back to the beginnings of the event in '05. It's great to have finishers and vets from those early editions signing on to T.I.V8. Of course, we also have several folks back with extensive Trans Iowa experience, and most notable of these is Jim McGuire, who has been in every edition of Trans Iowa so far. (I am pretty sure he is alone in that distinction now.)

And let's not forget the 41 Rookies, most of whom I have never met, and I look forward to seeing you all in April! Last, but not least, we have 4 Women that will be toeing the line in Grinnell. I'll be rooting for all of that class to finish big time. Thanks for taking the chance!

So, what's next? This was a great question I got from one of the Rookies while Registration was still on. Here's the details of what will be happening on my end, and what you need to be paying attention to in the coming months.
  • The Waiting List: First off, it is a reality that some of you Roster spot holders will end up finding out- for whatever reasons- that you won't be at T.I.V8. If that is the case, please let me know ASAP. There are about 15 people sitting on the list that could have a shot at getting into T.I.V8 if you drop out before January 31st. After 1/31/12, the Roster will not be replenished from the Waiting List. Generally I get from 3-7 early drop outs. Most folks pop off the Roster in the month preceding a T.I., which is too little time to be prepared for a triple century plus event. 
  • On my end, I have to tidy up recon, formulate cue sheets, set time limits, get odds and ends like number plates, (or not), and find some Volunteers. Grinnell details will be hammered out, and Pre-Race Meat-Up details will be finalized. All this during the Winter and early Spring, when I can fit it in. I'll be dealing with sponsors, getting logistics squared away, and contacting you all via e-mail about the Pre-Race Meat-Up menu. 
  • Meanwhile, you all should be training, experimenting with gear choices, be making reservations for a motel, (See the site for details on our lodging deal), and making sure you are going to be at the Friday, April 27th Pre-Race Meat-Up.  This meeting is mandatory to be able to ride in T.I.V8. Don't be late, and don't miss it. You will not ride if you are either one of those. 
  • The Day of the event starts out really early! You should plan on being at the start line by 3:30am, with the controlled roll out at 4:00am sharp! You will have an allotted amount of time to travel gravel roads 51 or so miles to Checkpoint #1. If you are late- even by a minute- your day will be done. Those that get through will get another set of cues leading them to Checkpoint #2. Again, another time limit must be met. Those fortunate enough to reach Checkpoint #2 before the cut-off, and want to continue, will get another set of cues to the finish in Grinnell, Iowa. You must finish by 2pm Sunday, April 29th to be considered a Finisher. 
Okay, that's a brief and incomplete overview of the events leading up to T.I.V8 and some brief descriptions of the event itself. I'll go over more of this in detail in the coming weeks and months. If there are any questions, please leave a comment, or send an e-mail to me.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday News And Views

With Trans Iowa V8 Registration coming to a close Saturday, here is where things stand at the moment.

Finishers registration closed last week, and the Rookies filled their class last Monday. Since then, six lonely entry spots for Veterans have been dangling out there, waiting to be picked off.

As far as I know, one of those is going to get nipped by a T.I.V7 vet today. (Promised overnight letter I was alerted to should show up today) That would leave 5 entries. If those go unclaimed by Vets, then at midnight Saturday night, the first five names on my Waiting List will appear on the roster to fill them. Of course, those will all be Rookies.

That will leave at least 15 names on the Waiting List for T.I.V8. If I get anyone on the Roster that can't make it to T.I.V8 , and they let me know before January 31st, 2012, the Waiting List #1 position would get first crack at a chance to claim the spot, and so on. If your name doesn't appear on the Roster this weekend, you are on the Waiting List. Stay tuned....

Short Stay Syndrome: I got a few great comments on the post this week about short chain stay "all mountain" hard tails. Now I want to share a few more thoughts on the subject in terms of full suspension bikes.

DeVinci Atlas 29 FS: 16.9" chain stays
I saw a great example of what happens when designers try to cram a front derailleur, suspension linkage, and all with super-short chain stays into a design with 29 inch wheels at Interbike this past September.

It isn't that you can't have short chain stays, but you will have difficulties with regards to front derailleur overlap, and any decent tire clearances.

The Atlas 29 was sporting really short, (for a full suspension device), chain stays at sub 17 inches. However clever the seat tube and linkages may be, the tire clearance was limited to sub-2.3" tires, (at best), and a triple chain ring set up would probably only barely work with XC-ish tires on board. The bike was shown with a 2X set up at the show, and narrow, XC type race tires.

And the Atlas was not the only bike showing the compromises made by designers. The much lauded Yeti SB 95 with its short-ish chain stays, barely had much more room than the shown Racing Ralph 2.1"ers were taking up. On the other end of the scale, the new Salsa Cycles Horsethief, with plenty of tire clearance, room for a triple crank with ease, had almost 18" chain stays.

It's easy to see that other bikes with shrinking chain stay measurements are also making similar compromises. (Kona Satori, Rocky Mountain Element 29) So, the limitations of design seem to indicate that, (as of now), there is no easy answer for riders looking for the shortest chain stays and a full suspension design. (By the way, the same limitations exist in hard tails as well.)

About Three More Weeks: That's how long it is until 2012 and there will be some big changes coming for some things I am involved with. I can not let all the details loose right now, but I am excited to see how a project I and a colleague have been working on behind the scenes will come out. So far.......so good! I am hoping everything else goes smoothly so this can come to a fruitful ending and I think many of you will appreciate the new things coming as well.

In other news of end-o-the-year happenings, I made a goal at the end of April this past spring to set a personal record for blog posts on this site this year. You know.....just to see if I could do it. Well, I am smashing the old record to bits, and it is likely I will never post as much as I have this year again. Maybe. I don't know....maybe I will.   It isn't like I am going to shut this down, but I may return to "normal" levels for 2012. What is happening on some other fronts may affect that.

Well, that's probably not very interesting stuff to a lot of you, but thanks for reading! I appreciate it.

And get outside this weekend! Stay out of the malls, big box stores, and shop local, ya'all. Take some pics, and go on an adventure.