Sunday, September 30, 2012

3GR Report: Fat Bike Edition

This edition of the 3GR was going to be the second fat bike edition. The first, run back in early August, was hot, humid, and a lot of fun. The weather on this one would turn out to be perfect, albeit a bit cool and crisp to start out with. In addition, the Fall colors were in full swing.

I wasn't sure if perhaps I wouldn't be the only guy on this one. I knew some of the guys had other events, and some were going to be putting their own event on that were at the last Fat Bike Edition of the 3GR. Then I had to turn back after leaving since I had forgotten my tube and a pump. Now maybe I would be late as well!

Craig takes in the fall colors
My fears were unfounded though, as I made it to the Island Park meeting spot well ahead of the 8:30am start time. Not long after I arrived, Craig showed up, which surprised me, actually. See, Craig was the one who was putting on the "Moonshine Metric", a gravel ride that was to start later that day. (More on that ride tomorrow. )

Craig and I took off toward Black Hawk Park, and ultimately the fire road to Washington/Union Access. The Fall colors continued to look spectacular. On the way out, I ran into Paul and his son, Carl, both of whom I haven't seen in a long time, so I stopped to chat a bit with them.

The gravel sections were fairly smooth and fast, and Craig and I talked about the upcoming ride that evening. Craig told me enough about the course that I almost decided not to bring along the BMC Orange Crush and to bring my Fargo instead, but I didn't do that in the end. Eventually Craig and I made it back to Cedar Falls, and he took his leave of me.

I stopped for a coffee and scone to replenish the tank, then I went off toward the house and to make final preparations for going to the Moonshine Metric.

The ride over and back, plus the ride proper, gave me a 48 mile head start on the day, and with that being on a fat bike, I wasn't sure how the evening would go, but I was game to find out.

Next up: Ride #2 for the day- the Moonshine Metric report. Stay tuned for that tomorrow.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Trans Iowa V9: Update, Thoughts

The Latest:

Not a whole lot of earth shattering news here, but this is the latest on the event I have to share with you. Some of these things have already been mentioned on the Trans Iowa site.

In no particular order, here are the tidbits....

  • Sponsors: So far we have commitments from Oakley, Banjo Brothers, and Tacopocalypse. If you are reading this and want to sponsor Trans Iowa, drop me a line and let me know what ya have in mind.
  • Course: As of now, I have about 325 miles on tap. There are two checkpoints scheduled so far. The first is at about 53 miles and the second at about Mile 170. That will leave approximately a 150m slog to the finish line of T.I.V9.
  • Speaking of the Finish Line, there is a solid chance this will be back to where we wanted to finish T.I.V6 at, and if it works out, there will be several related announcements that tie into this. Stay tuned for details. 
  • Roster Limit: I threw it out there, but heard nothing, concerning raising the roster limit to a possible 120-ish riders. While that sounds good on the face of it, I would bet it won't make much of a dent in actual racer numbers come time for the event. But I could be wrong. Then again, if the airwaves remain silent on this, I won't even bother with it. Something else to think about- Whatever the roster limit is this time, I am not going to maintain, mess around, or waste my time on a Waiting List, as I have in the past. It doesn't make much of an impact other than to cause me a lot of extra work.  
That about does it for right now.....oh! Almost forgot this.... Registration will start for Trans Iowa V9 on November 5th. Forget about the Election! Get yer post cards fired up for a chance to ride in Trans Iowa V9 instead. Finishers will have the luxury of simply e-mailing me some specific info, but Rookies and Veterans will be required to send in the traditional post card with some specific information.

A detailed post on just what you need to do will be forthcoming, but for now, circle that date! It all will start then.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday News And Views

Yak Attack: 

I was asked by Mountain Bike Radio to be a guest and talk about Interbike, 27.5"ers, fat bikes and more. If you want to hear the almost hour long chat with host Ben Welnak, you can check out that right here

There is a rumor that I may be on Mountain Bike Radio every two weeks or so. Hmm.....stay tuned.

Krampus: Ancient language term meaning "fun"!
29+ Is Pretty Fun: 

This Surly Krampus with the enormous 3" tires on it was, in a word, a heck of a lot of fun.  The more I think about this, the more I see where it has a use for ultra-long riding and bikepacking.

As is typical with a Surly, this bike is solidly built, but due to the really long fork, big tires, and longer top tube, the ride is an order of magnitude smoother than my Karate Monkey's. So, let's say you are going to do some long bikepacking deal, maybe Tour Divide. Yeah.....this would be that bike. Of course, it'll be great for horsing around on too, but I think the touring aspects of this bike off road would be really appealing.

Finally, I was told recently that there is some misinformation floating about concerning the Krampus. It was being said that frame only Krampus' would be black. This is not true. All Krampus frame onlys will initially be the sparkly green seen in my image here. Another thing- these are insanely popular, so you know what that means.....

Mason: Another fun machine
This Could Be Fun Too: 

Another bike I was impressed by, since it pushed the fun meter pretty high, was this Diamond Back Mason 140mm travel hard tail.

It has sub-seventeen inch chain stays. Yeah...16.77", to be exact. While I am not a fan boy of short chain stays necessarily, this bike seemed pretty dialed.  The slack 66° degree head angle wasn't bad at all, and you can pop the travel adjust Fox Talas fork down to 110mm, which noticeably lowers the front, and quickens up the handling a bunch as well.

Normally I wouldn't consider such a rig as this for around here, but since the travel adjust is there, it begins to make some sense. It definitely would be a fun, "play bike" sort of rig. By the way, it also comes as a frame only.

Fat bike 3GR!

And I know This Is Fun...

Fat bike 3GR last happened in early August when it was blazing hot, dry, and crispy. This Saturday it won't be quite so hot, but it is still pretty dry out there.

If you want to ride along on your fat bike- or any ol bike- show up at Island Park at 8:30am. We'll do the Union Access fire road from Black Hawk Park, then find our regular route back to Cedar Falls.

Then on Saturday afternoon, I'll be leaving town to go ride the Moonshine Metric down in Mt. Vernon. 63 miles or so of night time gravelly goodness. I'm pretty pumped about this one, especially since I let myself down and didn't do any gravel grinding at night this year. Well.....once.  I did a "Super-moon" ride that month they said the moon was in its closest orbit to earth.

But I am going this time, and I will be stoked to ride on parts of the Moonlight Madness course I did a couple years ago in the driving rain. This time I'll get to see this area in much better weather. Well, it will be moonlit, so I will see something! Not totally dark, anyway. So, there will be 100 miles of riding or more in less than 24 hours.

That should make for some healthy appetites and good stories!

Hope that ya'all are getting out and riding too. Have a great weekend. Ride a bicycle!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall's Magic

I noticed something in a Facebook post of a barn picture my friend Gnat posted up the other day. The tell-tale colors of Fall in full glory. Seemed a bit early, but this was 200 miles North of me. Still....

I went out and loaded up the truck to go ride the single speed at the Camp. I hadn't been up that way for quite some time, and figured Fall, if it was down here, would be making a decent show in the woods there. I was a bit less expectant than in years past though, since we've had some really bad, dry weather most of the summer. I wasn't sure how that might affect the trees and Fall colors, but I was sure it probably wasn't a good thing.

Turns out that the colors were coming on quite nicely. Leaves were trickling out of the branches, and the light, that magic Fall light! My favorite part of Fall is the way the colors of the woods, even the air, seems tinted with gold, orange, and yellow.

Things seem about two weeks to maybe three weeks ahead of schedule out there, so get on out and enjoy the Fall colors before they are gone. I've a feeling they will be short lived this season.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Some Cool Things I Saw At Interbike: Part II

Yesterday's post got a wee bit long, so here is another installment of the coolest things I saw at Interbike......

Keeping up with the Jones's...
Alt Bar Action: I should start a magazine called "Alt Bar Action". That'd be cool..... Okay, maybe not, but this bar looked pretty cool to me. Surly's new "Moloko" Bar.

It may or may not have certain attributes of "that other alt bar", but Surly's copy says it is a version of the Open Bar with a closed front loop. It'll be offered in a rise or no rise version.

These bars are cool because you can use the front part to mount accessories, or carry your best bud home from school. I'll be thinking about these for one of my fat bike setups, possibly.

Notice anything different?
Hey! Whatta 'Bout Me? Here's a bike you've seen before, but there is something different now. Can you guess what it is?

This bike was shown in the Phil Wood booth at Eurobike. But due to a few details, no one really connected the bike with Phil Wood & Co, who did the custom drilled hubs and custom triple clamps for the fork.

Lots of folks thought it was a new Santa Cruz model. many figured out pretty quickly that the rear swing arm was built by Sycip.  But that isn't so obvious now that the bike showed up in the Phil Wood & Co. booth at Interbike.

Can you see it now? (Or shall I say, Can you see what's not there?)

That's right, all the logos have been painted over, and even the trademark Sycip coins were painted over, with Phil Wood livery added instead. I guess the attention was focused elsewhere at Eurobike, and PW wanted to fix that. Funny stuff right there.

Too bad it was another one of those, "Oh yeah.....I've seen that already" deals at Interbike. The marketing damage already done.

Canadian Gambling?

Handbuilt Freshie: Interbike had a downstairs again this year, and this time I actually got down there. In a main central aisle there were several spotlighted products and a few custom bikes. This one hails from Canada's own DeKerf.

While I am not partial to the theme of this rig, (gambling), I will say that it was well done. Very well done. The paint detail was stunning on this rig, as was the typical segmented fork/seat stay arrangement, which is a signature DeKerf frame joinery technique.

Also noteworthy here is the triple "Bullmoose" style stem/ handle bar construction. The bike is a stand out example of a DeKerf, but it was weird seeing it in the lower level of Interbike's show.


Polished Goods: It isn't that I dislike black anodized parts, but for years it was about the only thing you could get in components, especially rims. Now, more and more, it seems manufacturers are getting stuff out that is polished aluminum.

Velocity USA is one of the rim makers leading the charge for polished rims and silver polished hubs. I have a set of A-23 wheels that are done up in a classy looking polish. Now Velocity is also offering it's 3rd generation tubeless compatible Blunt rims in a polished look. (Plus various anodized hues as well)

Get these and some classic White Industries hubs and you'll have a sweet, classic looking wheel set. Or....go crazy and get anodized bits from Chris King, Industry 9, or others, and bling yerself out. Either way, it's fun to have a choice other than black these days. Even stems, seat posts, and other items are showing up polished and in color. I love it.

Titanium goodness
Wait.....Is This Interbike, Or NAHBS?

 In another weird juxtaposition, I found this sweet titanium rig thanks to Chad of FSA, and was blown away by the fact this was in the basement, and that it was at Interbike at all. Definitely hand made, and way custom, this hard tail was simply stunning.

It is a Cysco Cycles rig built by Richie Moore of Tennessee. He used to work for Litespeed and Lynskey, and you can see it in his work.

The down tube is shaped three ways to Sunday, and the integrated seat mast is expertly crafted. It is a single speed rig, and Mr. Moore said he was paying special attention to getting a good, solid feel without sacrificing the titanium ride.

Well, I may never know how it rides, but I can say it was one classy looking rig stuck down in the nether regions of Interbike's oddities. This and the DeKerf really should have been upstairs, where more folks could have witnessed their artful designs.But then again, Interbike isn't a handmade bicycle show. Hmmm....come to think of it, why doesn't Interbike have a hand made bicycle show concurrent with the trade show? It sure would be fun to see all the great craftsmanship of the handmade guys in Vegas.

I was down stairs for a good hour, and I thought I'd plied every aisle, but I missed this rig somehow. If it hadn't been for Chad, I would have. Glad I didn't, because this was a very interesting bike, and Mr. Moore was a super nice guy to us as we gawked at his workmanship.

And Finally.....

This one is from the Outdoor Demo, obviously. Former Downhill Champion, Greg Herbold works for SRAM these days, but back in mountain bike's hey day, when he was still competitive, H-Ball squirreled away lots of cool, vintage mtb stuff. His garage contents are stuff of legend.

Well, this one is something from the dark recesses of that garage, no doubt. A Foes built, small wheeled trail bike. This comes replete with dual suspension and early Rock Shox cable actuated hydraulic disc brakes.

Conclusion- Well, Interbike was kind of a ho-hum deal from the perspective of a gear freak. But we have only ourselves to blame for that, since the internet and the "instant coverage" it provides of any company's releases pretty much allows any company its own time in the spotlight. By the time Interbike bows, the curtain raises to reveal stuff we've all seen multiple times, and read about ad nauseam.

But otherwise it was easy to see that attendance, (at least for the indoor portion), was higher than last year, and every vendor I spoke to was pleased. The Outdoor Demo seemed more empty, especially the first day, than last year, (although Interbike claims a 10% rise in attendance), and there were definitely less bikes to demo for sure.

That all just made the order of the day business, and really, isn't that what a trade show is for anyway? If business was done, I guess you have to say Interbike truly was a success this year. My take is that is exactly what happened.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Some Cool Things I Saw At Interbike

I realized I hadn't posted anything I saw that was somewhat impressive to me from Interbike. Here's some eye candy from the show then (and a few other things from Vegas)......

Super-Suit: This was right out of the "Incredibles" as far as I was concerned. But let me back up just a bit...

Alpinestars is an Italian company heavily into NASCAR, F-1, and Moto GP, amongst other motorsports, and cycling as well. We got to go to a fancy suite in the Venetian to look at some cycling duds, but this Moto GP suit is what got my jaw to drop.

It has micro-processors, accelerometers, armor, and air bags built into it. Riders are protected when the electronics discern a crash is occurring and it then sets the air bags off to protect the rider. The suit self arms when it detects motion from acceleration on the motorcycle. It can even re-arm itself after an initial crash in case the racer gets back going again after a first crash.

We asked if this sort of thing might make its way to down hill cycling, and the answer was it is being looked at, but no specifics were available as to how, when, or what the product might look like.

What we did get to see was maybe less "wow", but Alpinestars does have some pretty cool cycling gear for mountain bikers. In the future, there may be some tests on Twenty Nine Inches of Alpinestars clothing.

So, after that I saw some cool shorts, jerseys, gloves, and even some urban/commuter gear that was pretty high tech. Definitely things I was impressed by. Okay, now for some trivia: Anyone remember what Alpinestars was famous for in the cycling world in the 90's? (I'm thinking of two things. Let's see if anyone guesses both.)

Rolling Ad for "babes".
Sex Sells: I've told folks about this before, but I finally caught this on camera. Rolling trucks with billboard ads for female "escorts".  (Click image to make it bigger- and it is safe for work, by the way.)

This happens 24-7 on the Strip and at night, the trucks have their own spotlight systems to light up these things so you can't miss them. Of course, the rolling ads are not the only way women are reduced to less than dirt in Vegas. (Well, all humanity, really, is degraded by this.) There also are the people hawking escort service cards on the sidewalk that they want you to take. These generally have pretty racy pictures on them. They flip the cards, making a "snap" noise to get your attention and then they shove them at you when you look. Other ads are in newspaper dispensers and of course, there are the traditional billboards on the street.

Great place to take the kids, apparently. It never ceases to amaze me every time I go to the Strip. I always see mothers pushing babies in strollers, holding toddlers, and walking their kids down here. Weird.

Pinarello Dogma XC 29"er
Italian Carbon Wonder-bike: This  thing was outrageous. The Italians are said to be all about style, and this bike certainly did nothing to dispel that notion.

Crossed seat stays, a unique seat post binder, a steering stop integrated into the down tube, and "Onda-like" chain stays were just a few of the things I noticed when I looked closer at this black and white themed rig.

But it was obvious that this wasn't all just show-boating either. The down tube was shaped to get the maximum width at the bottom bracket for stiffness. The tire clearances were huge, and the geometry looked dialed in.

I could be wrong about the price, but I remember it being somewhere well north of 3G for the frame alone. What price style? I guess it's pretty high! Still, I wonder how it rides with all these out of the box ideas. You also have to hand it to Pinarello. They are not known for their mountain bikes these days, but this sure got my attention!

TommiSea Fat Bike tire
Fat Bikes For The Beach: I saw the TommiSea booth at Interbike, and they have been making fat tired beach cruisers for quite a while now. They introduced a new tire last year, but it was pretty rare, by all accounts, so when I saw it at Interbike it caught my eye.

It reminds me a bunch of a Big Fat Larry, and on the 100mm rim it was shown on, it looked pretty close to a BFL in width too . Not only that, but the tire probably acts a lot like a BFL as well.

The continuous center  strip obviously is similar to a BFL, and instead of "darts" along each side, it has rounded knobs, but they are similar in height. Unlike a BFL this tire has those goofy skulls in the tread though. Ah well.......a bit of fun thrown in for extra measure, I suppose.

This was mounted to a titanium frame, by the way, so apparently there are some fairly serious beach cruisin' folk out there. TommiSea also displayed a pretty rad camouflaged beach cruiser fat bike with rims to match.  This one even had a handle bar mounted gun rack. (Is there an option for a rebel flag sticker too?) The bike also features dual front disc brake caliper mounts on the fork, cause, you may have to stop real quick like from 90 mph, or something.

That one was dubbed the "Beast Stalker" and comes with a Shimano Alfine drive train for about $1349.00. Not too bad, really, when you consider that it weighs about 36lbs, (claimed), which is reasonable for undrilled rims and an internally geared hub set up.

I think the only thing that rivaled this was the whitewall tired fat bike cruiser in the J&B booth which sported the new Vee Rubber tires.

Velo Orange's "Campeur" frame/fork
Retro-Gravel Grinder: Of course, way back when, gravel roads, dirt roads, and stone paved paths were the norm, rather than the exception, and the bikes used then reflected the nature of these rougher paths.

Velo Orange has a frame and fork they dubbed the Campeur which harkens back to such times. This particular one I found interesting in that the tires were similar to something a lot of gravel grinder guys are using.

The handle bar mounted water cages only make the theme work even more for me, as one could easily mount a frame bag on this and go run the Dirty Kanza 200 or some other self supported long haul gravel event just as it is set up.

I'm not real big on non-aero levers, nor do I like the traditional deep drop, Belgian style handle bar, but this bike is pretty classy and it probably would still get someone down the road quite nicely despite the retro take on the set up here.

Well, I could go on, but this post is getting a bit into "epic-length" already, so I'll shut it down right here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Resetting The Controls

Image credit: Sonya Looney
One week ago I was burning up in 100°F heat, and now it's freezing in the mornings and I am wearing my woolen stuff back here in Iowa. What a weird transition.

Not to mention that I spent an entire week off from work in a city that is so unreal, it hardly seems as though any of it happened. But....of course, it did. Now it's time to reset the controls to "normal" and get back into the groove.

Of course, that means getting back to work where I have some Salsa Cycles Mukluks to assemble, and I suppose some emergency repairs that were held back until I got there. It also means that my projects I put on hold for a bit are going to get taken care of and I've already started doing that.

I spent much of Sunday in recovery mode from the 3GR and the long slog without sleep before that. I also got down into the Lab and straightened out a couple of bikes, swapped out a handle bar and stem, a seat post and saddle, re-charged a tubeless set up, and most importantly, fixed the Orange Crush. It had the rear tire go down last weekend just before I left to go to Interbike.

Back to riding shape.
I took a look at the inside of the tire, since I had a sneaking suspicion that there may be no sealant in the tire. Well, there almost was none! The inside of the casing was wet, but that was about it. Not enough to seal up a small cut.

I figured out that through my efforts to get the tire to seal up, I blew most of the sealant out in atomized form. But however that happened, I only got enough sealant in the tire at the end of it all to seal up the bead and no more. So, when the casing sprung a small leak, there was no reserves in the tire to deal with it.

I mixed up a nice, big thick batch and reapplied the sealant to the tire. A shot of air from my small compressor set the bead, and no more leakage. Now I have a reserve to deal with any future issues too. Roll on! Next up for this rig is some longer rides, maybe one of which will be a recon mission for the next Trans Iowa.

Then I also have a long term goal and it may or may not involve the Orange Crush.

Call of Duty
That goal is to finish the Dirty Kanza 200. I have attempted this event three times and never gone further than halfway. I ain't gettin' any younger, so now it is time to buckle down and get this outta the way. That's another post, but for now, I have to start considering which bike to use, and I think the ole Fargo Gen I is the front runner here.

The past GTDRI was a rehearsal tryout for this rig. Even though I have taken it to Kansas before, I wanted to figure out how I could utilize my vast array of water bottle cages to get rid of a hydration bladder and still ride in extreme heat. I want to go as minimalistic as possible into this event, but still be self-supported. (Yes- I know that the DK 200 allows support, but I don't do things that way.) The GTDRI showed me it is possible to get the job done on the bike, but I still need to think a few things through.

I'll detail out how things go in future blog posts, but for now, this, the S24O, and a couple of other things along with Trans Iowa V9 recon are on the menu. Getting back to a steady schedule is too.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

3GR: Fresh Gravel And Headwinds

Joe, (L) and Robert (R)
I had thought about not doing a 3GR right after Interbike, but then again, not having ridden a bicycle for several days makes me antsy to get out, and I needed a soul cleansing after the Vegas trip. That said, the trip home forced me into a 38 hours of no sleep stretch which had me a bit worried going into this.

Of course, I had gotten to sleep in my own bed the night before for 9 hours, but still. I was thinking I may have to go into survival mode, and having Robert show up, along with Joe, made me even more worried about this.

The recent cold front showed up on the dawn of the first day of Fall with a stiff Northwest wind and chilly temperatures to boot. Yeah.....nice! This had all the earmarks of a suffer-fest for me, anyway. Well, I managed to find some suitable cool weather gear and met Robert and Joe at Gateway Park. We hit the road and faced into the wind for the first half of the ride.

Things started out at a 17mph pace on the bike paths through Big Woods Park. Yikes! This wasn't looking good for me, but so far, I wasn't redlining yet. I was considering what I was going to say to them as we sped through the park. I figured those two were on pace to shed me off as soon as we hit the gravel.

Wind, chunky goodness, open roads.
But I held in there, and I aided myself by talking with Joe, who was content to chat and this moderated the pace to open things up. We hit the Bennington Road hill and I was feeling okay. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.

Then we discovered that the county had laid down several long patches of deep, fresh gravel. This obviously combined with the wind to make the going even tougher. Robert was pushing the pace into his usual speed, but the fresh gravel checked him up a shade. Joe was bouncing around quite a bit through here on his skinnier tires as well.

Since I had a flat after last week's 3GR due to a cut sidewall, I switched to the Fargo Gen I for this ride. Shod with the Bontrager XR-1's, set up tubeless, I had a bit of an advantage through here with my wider tires. The wind was brutal, but we were all plugging along, and the pace wasn't fierce with all the factors together. On smoother sections I was okay, since these tires roll so well.

The good thing was that this part of the loop is fairly flat, and the hills are in a portion of the course where the wind would be aiding us, and not push us back. But even better than that, the roads became far smoother just as we passed the South side of the Camp.

Fargo Gen I- Ready for a cleansing
Robert then said I was "stomping along rather well", so I guess I had nothing to worry about all along. In fact, I was feeling far better than I could have ever imagined I would be after the  travel ordeal from Thursday/Friday.

Joe peeled off to go to his home and Robert and I finished out the loop with a stop at the Lamp Post for some coffee right afterward. (Thanks for spotting me, Robert!)

I eventually got in 43 miles after a day where I was delirious with sleep and could hardly function. I was feeling pretty good about that part anyway.

The next 3GR will be a Fat Bike Edition. So you have been forewarned! We'll probably go out the Union Access fire road from Black Hawk Park again, and most any cross bike should be fine for that if you want to join in the fun.

As for me, I'll be on a fat bike, and the Gen I Fargo will be getting cleaned up after a long summer of dusty gravel duties.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday News And Views

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Leaving Vegas and by the time you read this, I'll likely be home. The "red eye" flight from Sin City. A beautiful thing.

So, how was it? The show did well, I think. Booth vendors were pleased as of Thursday with the traffic and business opportunities. Thursday may have been a bit off of Wednesday, but I thought attendance was on par with last year, if not above that a bit. Good for business.

Bad for "Bike Porn": The show did lack that distinct "wow" product, or trend. There was no, "Did you see that _______in _____'s booth?" going on at all this year. No "buzz" that I detected. Lots of questions about 27.5"ers, and what I felt about that. It seems manufacturers are even hedging their bets on that wheel size, what with the ones having them still carrying 26 and 29 inch wheeled offerings. No one is willing to bet the house on the middling wheels just yet, or so it would seem.

Bummer Doode! We had a technical difficulty of a first order magnitude Thursday when we awoke to a broken website. Gah! That ate up half of the day, and made for some frayed nerves for a bit. However; we got back up, albeit with some lost work, which I now get a "do-over" on. Let's see if I can do better with a second chance!

So Friends, We Meet Again! Ergon invited me to a semi-private wine tasting Thursday afternoon. German Pinot Noir. Nice. Well, anyway.....I saw Jeff, and then Ernesto walked up, Dave was there again, and suddenly here comes Eddie. All were there last year at the same spot, same time, 365 days later. Weird.

Of course, there were others. Let's not forget Sonya, and new people too, like Karen, who was charming. (Nice to finally meet you!) Such a strange thing to see so many great folks only once a year. least I get to see them once a year, right? Thanks Ergon, and everyone I saw at Interbike. Good times, ya'all.

3GR:  Well, after all this non-sense, I am taking a bike ride, I suppose. Want to come? You know the drill if you know what 3GR is. See ya there......

Have a great weekend everyone. Ride those bicycles!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Resounding Thud?

Or: "What Happens When You Are 64 Stories High In Vegas".

The Empire Suite at Trump Tower
 I wasn't sure about this deal. I mean, it was in one of the fancier hotels in Vegas, and a lot of these events and shindigs have dress codes, which, you know......I don't really go in for. I still have trouble with zip codes, much less a dress code.

But I was not to worry, Grannygear said. No dress code. Okay, cool! I threw on some Twin Six gear and we went on over to Trump Tower. The place was high zoot for sure, and we scooted by the security peoples eyes and were directed to the decidedly wooden elevators to go up to the 64th floor!

I'm kind of wondering how long this might take, because, you know......I've ridden in vators before, and they are kinda slow. However; I hadn't accounted for the "high performance" elevator I had just stepped into. Yeah, I about had my legs buckle underneath me when the thing took off. Next thing ya know, my ears are feeling a distinct air pressure change. The altitude was rapidly increasing here, and then the vator slowed, which hit my legs again with some G force. Ding! A soft, female voice announced "Sixty.....fourth floor."

We stepped out and followed the signage to the "Empire Suite". My, my, my......definitely a room with a view!

Bright lights-Big City

 The large window, which took up most of the western wall in the room, overlooked the twinkling lights of Vegas. It appeared as though I was looking from an airplane's viewpoint. Weird.

The shindig was about BMC Bikes vision for becoming a major player in the U.S./North American market. The CEO spoke, and he was actually quite good to hear. He spoke of humble farm beginnings in Switzerland to becoming a bike maniac, to becoming an executive in charge of a growing bicycle group. Yeah....a Swiss dream come true.  We used to have those in America too....

Anyway, there was Swiss cheeses, fine  hors d'oeuvres, wine, and plenty of chit-chat. One of the topics put to a Swiss engineer for BMC was whether the 27.5"er wheel size was going to be considered in BMC's future mountain bike line up. He responded with something along the lines of "..we've already tested it, and it makes so little difference from 26 inch that we decided it wasn't worth pursuing." (Note- not an exact quote, but the meaning was the same.)

Huh......wouldn't have guessed by what some are saying out there. But what if? A resounding thud? Might be, or maybe it's the "new shiny object" that some companies need to perk up sales? We'll see.

The Fall Of Rome Is Nigh...

 Then we had the indoor portion of Interbike kick off today. Usually, there is the excitement of new releases, or some new product innovation to get excited about. A lot of "Did you see....?", but not so much this time.

In fact, I would submit everybody was a bit taken aback by the lack of excitement in the air at the show. at least of those I polled. Oh sure- there was some traffic, and folks getting re-connected, or  introduced for the first time, but as for products?

It was more like a "(yawn), Seen that already..." Makes one wonder if folks like myself are even needed anymore at this "show". Maybe I am not, or maybe I am. Don't really know, but it was a very odd experience this year.

Perhaps I have a more "romantic" vision of Interbike, as it was once, when you were waiting with baited breath for the news of what was going to be new for the coming year. But with all these dealer shows, Eurobike, and press camps before Interbike, there really isn't much to "show and tell" these days that ya'all haven't had crammed down yer eyeballs up to this point anyway. another resounding thud? Maybe. I gotta say that for people connecting, it's been much better though, and maybe on the business side, it has helped as well. I'll have to see about that later. For now, there's one more day in this town, then I'm outta here!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Two Sides Of Vegas

Sparse crowd this year
If you are a regular reader here, around this time of year, anyway, you know what I think about Vegas. (Hint- not much!) That has to do with where I go when I am here, for the most part, which is right around the Sands Convention Center, obviously, since that is where Interbike has been held of late.

But there is more to Vegas than The Strip. The last few years here I have gotten over to the Northeast and Eastern sides of the city, far from The Strip. Things are more "normal" over there.

You get the feeling there are more good things over there than over here on The Strip. More "realness" to life. Less "circus freak" stuff. And maybe there isn't anything wrong with that for you, but the whole vibe of The Strip isn't about being real, I think we can all agree on that, and I for one think it wears thin. Fast. So, all of Vegas isn't a soul sucking pig on crack in a constantly noisy, never dark part of town.  No, just that one part of the city is.


Vee Rubber Speedster 3.5"er
 Okay, nuff of that nonsense. On to some more fun here. This tire I saw was interesting. A tire claimed at 3.5 inches on the hot patch. Looked like it might come in narrower, but wasn't mounted. Anyway, it may be a great choice for those looking for summer rubber for their fat bikes. No details for ya here. I didn't talk to the guys since they were busy at time.

Many folks are looking for smaller sized stuff for their fat bikes, but I am not seeing it out there.....yet. This was the only thing I saw that may be coming out.

I did see what a Marge Lite rim does for a Kenda Slant Six tire, and honestly, it's pretty impressive. I can see why tire manufacturers aren't in a big hurry to satify this very niche "need" for closer to 3" wide tires for fat bikes.

The Marge Lite thing also dials up my idea for the Big Dummy once again. Man.....too many bikes, too little time!


45NRTH Dillinger studded fat bike tire
I got a first hand look at the Dillinger, a new fat bike tire from 45NRTH. It seems to be a flattish crowned tire, so those miniature studs should get a great grip on ice and frozen snow. The widely spaced knobs should also prove to be good at clearing snow and mud. I liked the way it looks. I think it'll do well, as long as those studs don't come flipping out right away.

In fact, these may be the first tires with studs I'll like since the old IRC Blizzards I used to use. Those were okay, but every studded tire I've tried since was no good. Hopefully I can say differently with these.

Finally, there was one thing I saw and rode I might want to get for myself because it does two things really well. #1- This thing rolls over and smooths out stuff like crazy. #2- Because of #1, I think this product will be a great bikepacking rig, and stuff like normal single tracking will be FUN like crazy.

What is "it"? The Krampus, that is what it is. Big, fun, and bass boat green sparkly goodness.

There is some other stuff, but that will be spoken of later.

Monday, September 17, 2012

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gone For Awhile....

Brilliant morning....
Saturday morning dawned bright and somewhat hazy. You know....that golden/silverish haze that comes with early Fall mornings?  You don't? You should get up on a clear Fall morning and go check that out sometime then.

3GR was happening again, and once more I thought I would be on my own. No one met me at the Gateway Park parking lot. I resigned myself to another solo ride when after about a mile, I ran into Mike coming back the other way to hook up with me.

So it was that we chatted and rode away the morning. A very pleasant, warm Fall morning. We remarked on how much corn had already been harvested. The recent rains have made the roads nearly dust free, and the roads super smooth. The Clement USH tires were run at a slightly lower, tubeless setting, and were dreamy smooth. The ride went off without a hitch.

Of course, the traditional, (by now), Cup of Joe's stop happened. Finally, I took my leave of Mike and made my way back home. I had a quick grilled cheese sandwich, and in the time it took to make it and eat it, the rear tire on the Orange Crush was flat!

I investigated, and I found a small-ish slit in the side wall, right on the hot patch. I tried to get it to seal up, took it off the bicycle and tried the usual things, but to no far.  I'll have to wait until after Interbike to deal with that now. Kinda disappointing, really.

Oh well, I'll be gone for awhile now, so what are ya gonna do......

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Just One More Before I Go...

Fat bike single trackin'
It was the last day I had to work before being off for a week for Interbike. In fact, it was the last day of my tenth year of wrenching at the shop.

Yep! It was just ten years ago that I left a good paying, 60 hour a week job wrenching on cars to wrench on the noble bicycle once again. I had been a mechanic for three years prior to that at my first shop job, but sandwiched in between was a five and a half year stint working on automobiles.

And now, I leave for Interbike, which will mark the beginning of a new year of wrenching on bicycles at the same place. Lots has changed since I first started where I am now.

But enough about my past. This day I took off a bit early and went out on "the long way home" route which includes some nice single track. The Snow Dog was doing great, and I even found some deep sandy stretches which the Snow Dog just laughed at. Other mountain bikes surely would have been washing out and dumping their riders, but not the Snow Dog. Not with Big Fat Larry's on Rolling Darryl's. Nope.

It was great to get in a short, but sweet ride. I get the 3GR gravel ride today, then two days of dusty desert riding out West, but afterward is a stretch of three days off the bike, which will seem like forever to me. Can't wait to get by all of that and get back to riding regularly again soon.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday News And Views

The "Tweeners" are coming!
Interbike 2012:

As I posted a couple of days ago, Interbike is on the radar here and I leave On Sunday to attend the yearly shindig held in Las Vegas: (pronounced- "lawst-way-jez": N. The city that sucks money, souls, and character like a Hoover.)

The "big" news will be 27.5"er mountain bike stuff, carbon fiber, electric bicycles, carbon fiber, road bikes with disc brakes, carbon fiber, and carbon fiber wheels, components, frames, and carbon fiber.

Get the picture?

So, yeah........I don't expect to see anything "mind blowing", but you just never know. There could be a through axle rear, front suspended fat bike, with or without rear suspension, at the show. Maybe. That would blow my mind a wee little bit. But other than that, you know, it probably won't be a show that gets described by the term "innovation". More like"tweakage", is what it probably will be. I could be wrong though.....stay tuned. 

Trek "Earl" fixie
Salsa Cycles Beargrease
How Fat Is "Fat"?

I saw something that struck me in a funny way today, so I thought I would share this observation.

The single gear, stripped down Earl, (left, in orange), weighs 26.7lbs. The Beargrease, on the right, with 20 speeds, and is definitely not stripped down, weighs 28.5lbs.

For a bit of levity here, keep in mind that most average hybrid bikes weigh more than either one of these two bikes, and also that the Beargrease costs a lot more than the Earl. But I was struck by how far fat bikes have come, and I think it could even get better. Not a lot better/lighter, but a Beargrease modded to what that Earl weighs stock? I think it is entirely possible.

Again, the fat bike costs way, way more than an Earl, but judging by the looks, I think the actual weights are astounding in comparison. Well, you these wheels make me look fat, Honey?

 Trans Iowa News Update: 

Okay, I have been toying with a couple of things and I am going to throw this out there for anyone that cares to comment on it....

Registration: The thought right now is to move registration forward a bit more than last year. I am thinking very early in November right now. Don't do anything just yet! I'll make a formal announcement after Interbike, but let me know any thoughts on that, if you care....

Field Limit: For reasons I am not ready to 'splain just now, I may be increasing the field limit a hair. As of now, that figure may be 115, or as high as 125 people. My thinking is that I can handle about 75-85 actual racers in the event, and as anyone knows that follows this, the roster never stays maxed and actually shrinks down come event day to much lower levels. (Last year we had 67 of a possible 100) So,  you may see a bit of my thinking there. Let me know what you think if you care to.


Yes- despite my imminent departure to western lands, I am going out on a gravel ride Saturday morning starting at the usual spot, (Gateway Park), at 8:30am. It's supposed to be sunny and quite pleasant, so come on and ride some gravel.

Next Week: Being gone at Interbike means sparse posts here normally. I may opt to Audio-blog instead, which will be easier for me, but there won't be pictures! The headings will all show up as "Trans Iowa Radio" here if I do that, so you've been forewarned!

Have a great weekend, and go ride yer bicycles!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making Plans To Go: Part V

More updates on the S24O situation today....

Stove Mod V3
Yesterday, after getting a couple of bikes shipped off, I had some time to start getting ready for Interbike. Well, in that process I stumbled into my long lost stainless steel cook set I'd been wondering about of late. The set was originally purchased to go on a self supported tour to New Orleans that never materialized in 1996.

This cook set was still in its box that I got it in and I knew I had it, but where? Well, the point is, I found it finally. It isn't light, it isn't cutting edge, but I own it. So I got it out and discovered that I would need to make some plan for a new pot stand addition to the current stove/pot stand that I posted about recently here.

Well, an idea came  upon me and I got busy modifying my original stainless steel spoke design to hold my pot above the bean can pot stand so the fire wouldn't go out when I set the pot on the stove.

Well, with some deft bending action and a test fitting, I was ready for a quick test firing of the set up outside. Fueled up the stove, lit it, slammed the penny over the fueling hole, set the pot on, and.......waited. 

This was about the same amount of water I used before, maybe a tad more. With no lid on the pot, it didn't get to the roiling boil I had before, but it did boil the water. It was very breezy out, and the stove stayed lit, the water got hot, and nothing tipped  over or went awry with this test. Okay- good. Now about some other fine details.

Sweet! It all fits.
Details like the pot, which if grabbed by the handle like to dump its contents out. It took a very deft hand to not spill my boiling hot water when I took it off. I think I will pack a pair of bent nosed Vice Grips, just because, when I finally go on this trip .

Then I had to figure out how to pack this hybrid set up. Fortunately, it all fits into the original format for the cook set, minus the cook set's plastic drinking cup and fork, knife, and spoon. That's cool. I'll figure out my own cup, and the utensils can go elsewhere. Besides, I have to use my titanium Salsa Cycles spork, right? 

Now this gets my cooking situation dialed pretty well. Next is to pack that on the bike, along with whatever else I think I may need for a S24O, and pick a date and actually go do this now. It's been over a month in the making since I purposed to get going on this project, so to finally get to a place where I feel comfortable about actually trying this is good.

Of course, Interbike will eat up an entire two weeks of my time here soon what with going there, coming back, and clearing up the aftermath. So this S24O won't happen for a bit. Having made this detail a check on the list is big progress for me though, so I am happy about that part.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's Interbike Time Again

What "home" will look like next week is Interbike time again in the cycling world. Yee-haw! (Or something, something, or another.....)

This is "show season" for the cycling industry. Eurobike already happened, and there wasn't much hoopla with regard to "the latest, greatest thing".  I suspect Interbike will follow suit there.  I have no good leads on anything "spectacular", so if something does prove to be "the shiny new object" I'll be as surprised as anyone.

Here's a brief listing of things having to do with Interbike. First, the "Negative List"

  • Las Vegas: I'm sorry if you call this place home, but it is what it is. Soul Sucking, "Love Removal Machine". Nuff said.....
  • Outdoor Demo: Dust, heat......did I say it was dusty? 
  • Expensive food
  • The Strip- It deserves it's own mention.
  • Flying:'s official. I do not like the Flying Germ Tube.
Now for the "Positive List".

  • Bicycles: Lots of them too. 
  • People: Lots of those as well. Some of them I really miss and see only here.
  • Outdoor Demo: I get to ride bikes. See people. Did I say there are lots of bicycles?
  • Leaving Las Vegas on Friday's "Red Eye Express". 
So, what else? Living in a hotel room on The Strip for five days, walking endless miles of casino and motel hallways, and smelling smoke indoors. Nine billion wild cab drivers with foreign names, hand bills for.....ah...yeah. Let's not go there. Hmm.....what else? maybe a surprise or two.

Seriously though, the industry really uses this as an excuse to hang out, see each other, and jibba-jabba about this or that. Oh yeah.....there is the hardware. But that's really secondary for industry folks, cause, know- they see this stuff all day, every day. Now maybe they have never met you, or only get to see you once in a year. People. That's what Interbike is really about.

Look for some posts to report on the goings on starting next Monday. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Retroshift Update

NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

It's getting to be cyclo cross season all across the U.S. now and one of the products I have been using all year fits right in with cyclo cross action- those being the Retroshift shifter mounts and levers. You can check out my last update on the Fargo with those shifters here.

Retroshift CXV Model
My perspective will be coming from that of a gravel grinder rider. I know cyclo cross can be a very abusive environment for components, but gravel grinding is no less so. My two sets of Retroshifters have been subjected to copious amounts of sweat and limestone dust. All with no detriment to the performance of these mechanisms.

And no wonder, when you think about it. These are dead simple, and therefore reliable, shifters and brake levers. There just isn't really much that can go wrong. The bar end shifters that mount on Retroshift levers are the ancestors of the first mountain bike thumb shifters, themselves co-opted from flat bar touring bikes. These shifters are simple, reliable, and have a friction option in case things get wonky with your rear mech alignment. That's a good thing for long, solo gravel adventures.

I  have a set of the CXV model levers, which are intended for linear pull brakes, or mechanical "mountain" type disc brakes. These would work quite nicely on your disc equipped cyclo cross bike, and leave the shift levers at your finger tips, without resorting to expensive "brifters", or having to use the less common road style mechanical calipers. They pull enough cable to make my Avid BB-7's feel really great, and at least as good as many hydraulic calipers out there. Of course, great housings, and a careful eye to the details of setting up the caliper are also key to a great brake feel on these Avids.

I also have had the pleasure of using the CX2 set on my Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush" rig. (My name for the BMC, not the official model name) These are the set for anyone using "road" mech disc brakes or the traditional cantilever brakes. I am pulling a set of old Shimano STX cantis with mine.

The Retroshift CX2 model.
Obviously these are the set for your traditionally braked cyclo cross rig. I have had great performance with my set on the steel BMC frame.

There is a difference in the feel between the CXV and the CX2 levers having to do with the shape and feel of the hoods. The hoods of the CX2 set have an "old school" feel, are more minimalistic, and smaller than the CXV's hoods.

The CXV's, in contrast, have a more modern hood feel, are girthy in the hand, and have a better transition to the bar, in my opinion. The blade on the CXV is also a bit more substantial and curves and twists more dramatically to allow for an easier reach from the drops.

My preference is for the CXV shape, but I can and do ride the CX2's for many long miles with no issues. You'll have to decide what is right for you.

Some folks will lament the lack of a big protrusion, such as the latest STI levers have, which seem to lend themselves to being used as a climbing aid when seated. I would submit that the bar end sticking out from the lever on a Retroshift lever can be used in a similar way here. In fact, that odd ball looking lever on the brake blade really comes in handy not only for climbing, but as another place to drape the hands when cruising long grinder climbs or on the flats. Leaving your hands draped around the shifter also can work as a way to shift the lever at a moments notice as well.

And speaking of shifting, it may take you awhile to get accustomed to shifting, but if you are like me, it becomes second nature soon enough, and you may even invent your own grip positions for shifting on the fly, like I have. The only negative here is that it is impossible to shift from the drops without removing your hand to shift. Bummer that, but not a deal killer here. I have found my own personal way of shifting in these instances which requires a bit more of a motion, but is swift enough for my purposes. For some who never ride anywhere but the drops, these shifters may not work for you. 

Fargo V1 w/Retroshift CXV's
So- what do I think after using these for most of 2012? I have two sets of STI levers sitting in the bin, and two sets of bar end mounts as well. If I didn't really like the Retroshift levers, I could swap out to more "standard" style shifters in a heartbeat.

These Retroshifters appeal to me for their simplicity, robustness, and ease of use. They miss the mark as far as aesthetic appeal, shifting from the drops, and you may not like the hood shapes offered. I can forgive the looks, since the functionality is high, along with the durability factor as well. Shifting from the drops? Hasn't been a big issue for me, not as much as I thought it might. Hood shapes work just fine for me, so basically, there isn't much not to like here for my riding.

I'll close out by saying I don't think these are really for mountain biking, and to be honest, I'm not sure about the cyclo cross angle, since I just don't do that activity. (They say they work just peachy though.)For gravel, back roads, back-country touring, and for a killer commuter set up that is bomb-proof, this stuff makes a ton of sense.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Box-o-Goodness Part V

This post is a follow-up to the last Box-o-Goodness post I did back in May, which concerns the Clement MSO and USH tires. (You can click here to see that.) I also did a formal review on Gravel Grinder News, (posted here), which is on the USH specifically.

Tubeless success!
This post will deal specifically on the tubeless set up on the X'Polr USH tires. As some may recall here, I had been battling getting these to stay airtight for several weeks. I was about to give up, but I didn't.

To recap-The issue was with how the bead was seating into the A-23's, and how my sealant, (MG Homebrew), was allowing thousands of small leaks around the bead seat.

The fix was to mix up the sealant thicker, add in more, and tap the wheel on the ground in a manner that would cause the sealant inside to splash up into the area of the bead seat. This worked and essentially solved the problem. I still had some leakdown, however, but now a ride of an hour's length or more ended up getting everything sealed up perfectly. Now the tires are trouble free, and I have confidence in the set up.

A list of things to note;

  • I had slowly gravitated to mixing up my solution for sealant to being less thick. I will rectify that and I should see better results in the future.
  • The Velocity tape is slightly different than Stan's yellow tape. My gut instinct is that Stan's tape probably would have worked better in this instance since it is ever so slightly thicker, and slightly less "plastic-like" than the Velocity tape. I have had really good success with Velocity's blue tape, but in this instance, I think the Stan's would have been superior. 
  • The X'Plor USH is so much better tubeless that I can not even think about running tubes in them ever, with the exception of an emergency repair in the field. I was blown away by how much improved they were tubeless. 
  • These USH tires are, without a doubt, the skinniest tires I would ever consider running on gravel roads.
Now I have to wonder how the MSO would do tubeless. That will be found out next. I have the USH's now to fall back on, so I can take my time with the MSO tires to get things correct the first time. I do have a specific plan, and I am confident I shall see success the first go round without waiting for weeks to see success.

Disclaimer: The Clement tires I am using are not tubeless rated tires and you should not set Clement clincher foldable tires up tubeless unless you are willing to assume all risks and void all warranties. I make no claims as to your results if you choose to mount Clement clinchers up tubeless. You are on your own and are responsible for your own decisions. 

 This is the first time I have attempted to set up a tire under 1.8" in width tubeless, and I have to say that I had my worries about how they would work out for me. So far, I can see nothing but positives for myself. The ride is better damped, smoother, and obviously I have all but eliminated pinch flatting from happening to me. The sealant will help with anything going into the tire, and my past experiences have shown the sealant works great in those instances. 

But I'll still be packing a tube along for rides! ;>)

I did lower the pressures to near 40psi with the rear tire at slightly above that. I think I could edge that down slightly, but a little air pressure change in a tire with little volume is going to make a bigger difference than a big, voluminous tire reduced in air pressure a tiny bit.

So, there you have it so far. I will be back with further updates on the MSO and USH in a month or so. Stay tuned....

Sunday, September 09, 2012

3GR Report: Alone Again, Naturally

Well, I had my Shadow to keep me company!
3GR Report: 

This was going to be an interesting day's ride, since we had a couple good dowsings of rain and the weather had definitely turned from Summer to Fall. The dust that had dominated the summer riding would now be settled, I thought, and when I awoke, it was 47°F outside with nary a cloud to be seen.

I wanted to wear a wool jersey, but all my lighter weight stuff is suffering from holes. Bad, all over the place holes, and so I ended up in a summer jersey with wool arm warmers. Meh! Time to place a Twin Six order, it would seem.

Well, I hit the road at 7:30am. Man! The shadows are long now in the morning. Bright sunshine dappled down through the trees made for a high contrast scene. It wasn't windy, yet, so the cool temperatures were okay, but it sure feels weird compared to the bakery oven heat we had for the last three plus months.

I made my way over the same way I had been using of late, and again- I saw several dog walkers. Seemed quieter otherwise. I got to the meet up spot and not a soul to be seen. Even the solitary pickup truck was driven away within minutes of my arrival.

Blocked by a train....
It was about then that I realized that I might end up riding alone this day. Craig had said he wouldn't be there, Mike was doing the Iowa 24, Ron was doing a stage race in Minnesota, Robert can't normally come on Saturdays, and Jeremy had said he'd be attending a wedding.

Oh.......well then! I made a plan to ride out further than our "normal" loop, and to take the ride right back to my home. No need to come back to Cedar Falls, especially if I am soloing the ride. Just before 8:30am the train whistle blew several times, and a big, tanker car train came by. That made me wait to take off until about 8:33am, so if anyone was a few minutes late, they should have caught me, but no one did. Oh on my own then!

Hero Gravel: Like pavement...almost!
It was quite plain after hitting the gravel that the roads were completely different, and much improved, than anytime before this season. The rain turned the copious amounts of dust into paste that the rocks sank into resulting in a smooth, pavement-like surface that was super fast.

That was good, because the wind had arisen out of the Northwest and was giving no quarter. It didn't seem to be a terrible hindrance, but going up hills was definitely slower going.

I got around to the Camp and where the standard 3GR route would have continued Eastward, I turned left to head up to catch one of my favorite roads. Ivanhoe Road is an odd bit of track in that it does not follow the imposed grid that most Iowa gravel roads try to stick to. No- it is obvious that Ivanhoe is an old road, something that came before the grid was laid out. Perhaps it was a stage coach trail, or a Native American trail, but whatever it was didn't follow suit with everything else for roads that surround it.

The bonus: The wind was straight at my back on Ivanhoe, so this fun, twisty, scenic road was made even more fun by the conditions yesterday.

Right through a farmstead...
The older roads that don't follow a grid are often marked by a feature I find unique. Often times the road will go straight through a farmstead, with the barn and other out buildings across from the home on the other side. Of course, Ivanhoe Road does this and passes very closely by a few others so that you feel you are nearly in the barnyard as you pass by.

Instead of turning off Ivanhoe and heading back toward Burton Road via Killdeer, I went the entire length of Ivanhoe to Highway 63. I went straight across and on East following 260thfor a couple more miles, then I turned South on Navaho, which hooks up with Sage Road in Black Hawk County.

The road is mostly flat going South, but towards Waterloo, there are a few rollers. Nothing big. I decided to go East some more at the intersection of Sage and Donald on pavement. Around the Northeast site, Tysons, and back through to town on the bike path alongside MLK. The bike path section was brutal! The headwind was the worst, and right at the end of the ride.

But it was an awesome ride. Four hours and probably about 55 miles. Over 50 easily anyway. Hey....I don't have a computer!