Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rear View 2012: The Middle Third

Looking at the middle part of the year, I am reminded that I put in a lot of riding this year. The big push came from the 3GR. That is a ride I started on Friday evenings, but moved to Saturday mornings after a few Friday runs at it.

The moniker stands for "Gravel Grinder Group Ride". Three "g's" and an "r"- get it? Ha.......well then... Anyway, besides my attempt at a clever name, the ride eventually became a success, although I wasn't sure about that a few weeks into it.

It ended up proving to be more than just a way for me to get better fitness. It became a way for me to get to know some guys and gals better and I hope that they all got something out of it in that regard as well.

There were fat bikes ridden a few times, and I even got a few folks out for their very first gravel grinders. A couple folks even signed up for Trans Iowa V8 because of this ride, at least in part, so that's pretty cool. In the end, I was in a groove and looked forward to Saturday rides. I probably became a better rider for it, and I had a ton of fun doing it.

Towards the end of May one of those niggling failures in riding was put to rest when I ascended the hills, and in particular, one hill, on the way south out of Traer on an older gravel route I used to do a lot. The big fail always came at "Frank Brothers Hill", so called because of the mail box at the top of the climb with that name on it. Oh....and this had to be done on a single speed. 

Well, I overcame that challenge, finally, and on a tough day with a stiff head wind on fresher gravel. 

June came, it got real hot and dry, and I was busy trying to get ready for two things: One was a Salsa Cycles Demo Tour appearance at the end of the month, and the other was the "Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational", which would happen in mid-July.

GTDRI 2012: Image by C. Matthias

I also got the old Fargo back up and running again. It had been awhile since I had been using it on any kind of "regular" basis. In fact, some parts had been pilfered from it for other builds. That wasn't cool, because I really like that rig, so I got it back out on the gravel roads this summer.

The Salsa Demo went really well and I got a lot of good feedback from it. I think this is definitely something we'll be doing again.

The weather continued to be beastly hot, and it looked as though things were getting a bit too dry, but no end was in sight. We got progressively dirtier on every 3GR ride, which a few I did on my own in this stretch.

The real kicker came in mid-July though as we set off from Grinnell on the GTDRI. It was a 120 mile course with lots of challenges awaiting us. 9 guys showed up to start, and 6 of us finished. But not before it went from 57°F to 104°F and not before we were rained on, did a "C Maintenance Road", and many B Roads as well. It was a big milestone for me, since I don't usually do very well at all in that sort of heat. In fact, it was a very "Dirty Kanza"-like heat that day, just without the extreme of the wind thrown in.

Summertime is Saddledrive time for QBP, and their brands- Salsa Cycles and Surly. Big news came out of that, and one of the things I pontificated upon got me into some passionate discussions with certain individuals close to a certain gravel road bike project, (specifically, the Warbird). Be that as it may, (I still hold to my concerns on that rig), the news was awesome and excitement abounded for the new fat bikes and Surly's new Krampus 29+ model.

Two friends on gravel: What could be better?
In August things continued to be hot, there was a fat bike 3GR, and I went to a Salsa Cycles Demo in Minnesota while making a side trip to visit Ben and Jason on a gravel ride. It had been way too long since we all had ridden together. A memorable ride, as well, since we had to push Ben about 7 miles after he whacked his derailleur. Good times!

I had a bit of fun when I saw an article I had penned printed in "Dirt Rag". It was about the history of the modern 29"er. A longer version of the idea is available if you look under the header here and click the link to the "Beginnings Of The Modern 29"er A History" page. The page will have a lot more detail than the DR piece, but you'll get the same idea, I hope.

I started a couple of "sagas" in terms of projects. One got finished, the other got derailed. My tubeless Velocity A23/ Clement USH experiment started, and so did a bikepacking project. I'll get into those things and more in my last third of 2012 report tomorrow.

Otherwise the next big deal on the horizon was Interbike and oh early August I announced that I'd be doing this silly little event again in 2013 called Trans Iowa. Preparations started in earnest soon after...


Johann Rissik said...

That "undulating" gravel road is my idea of heaven ;)

Guitar Ted said...

@Johann Rissik: We've got a lot of that sort of "heaven" here in Iowa. :)