Thursday, October 31, 2013

Special Notice: Trans Iowa V 10 Registration


Just a reminder that tomorrow the registration opens for the FINISHERS of Trans Iowas to get into T.I.V10. If you are a Veteran or a first time entrant, (Rookie), then your time is later. DO NOT SEND A CARD YET!

For all the details on registraion and the Trans Iowa Clinic happening December 7th in Des Moines, see HERE.

A Misty Morning

It was misty, or was it 100% humidity, or.....
Wednesday was forecast to be rainy, and so had Tuesday, but Tuesday actually turned out to be gorgeous, and wouldn't you know- I didn't ride to work thinking it was going to rain. Bah! As my son said to me, "Well, that was a bad weather report!" I hate it when that happens!

So, Tuesday I was not to be denied. I was going to drop my son off at school and get out there as fast as could be to get in some sort of ride. The approaching wall of green masses turning to shades of orange and red on the weather radar's Doppler viewer online told me I'd better be double quick about it!

Then there was the dense fog advisory in effect until 11am. I wondered how soupy it would be out in the country. I knew a single track ride was unlikely with the wetness of the ground. I did not want to tear up any trails, so I had been eying a gravel ride. In some hills. That meant a truck transfer to the staging area.  That area would be the Ingawanis Woods lot where I could jump off into the Denver Hills area quickly.

When I arrived, the air was spitting mist/light rain. The gravel was wet to almost muddy. The winds were light out of the East, and it was dark for morning time. Fortunately, I had a blinkie tail light and my Endura soft shell jacket has a blinky mounting strap on the back. I set the light for a solid red since it is my belief that motorists respect a solid red tail light more than they do a blinking flasher.

....was it rain? Good thing I had a fender!
I was riding that Volagi Viaje bike I am testing for Gravel Grinder News. I had an SKS "S Blade" clip on splash guard to ward off the mucky-muck. Glad I did. It is a handy little mud guard that can be transferred over to another bike in a matter of a few minutes. Anyway, I was ready for the misty stuff, and the bike was working great.

I'm still not 100% sold on Volagi's philosophy that a bike like this should act like a racing bike. I mean, it's fine on pavement and anything smooth, but on looser, rougher stuff, I just don't feel  it works as well. That said, it's a bike that I think many would like. The ability to shoe horn in those big, cushy Kenda Happy Mediums makes a big difference here. I'll be getting this rig out for some more gravel riding and within a week to two weeks I should be all finished up with it. It's been a fun bicycle so far.

But yesterday it was hill riding. Big, steep hills that I would normally not find around this area unless I traveled quite a ways away. I found out what I needed to find out and then I headed for the truck again. I wasn't staying out all that long because I knew the rains were coming sooner than later. In the end, I could have ridden a bit more, but it was good. A late October thunderstorm right after I got home made me glad I wasn't still on those exposed hills waiting for a bolt of lightning to strike! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

All In On The Titanium Mukluk

Okay, it's all on this one...
With my son's bike completed, and the Snow Dog laid to rest for now, I have to look at one fat bike for my riding needs. That's not a bad thing, especially when it is a titanium Mukluk. So for starters, I am not complaining at all! In fact, it may be a blessing in disguise to only have this bike to focus on for fat biking right now.

Second of all, a big shout out to Bike Bag Dude who made all the bags you see here on my Mukluk. I've been playing with them all Summer long and figuring out just how to use all this new found versatility. These bags will be hard pressed to usage this Winter and I am looking forward to being afforded the possibility of longer self-supported riding around here in the white stuff.

Now as for the ol' Mukluk, I have to do a few things soon just to get the rig up to snuff. Chain, cassette, and possibly a big chain ring all need replacing. Then I need new tires, since these Larrys are getting long in the tooth and won't do for Winter riding. Finally, I have done one other thing already, which I should have done long ago, and that's replace the seat post. The FSA SLK post was great, but it was about 1/2" too short. I replaced it with the Salsa Shaft post from the Snow Dog, and the Ergon saddle came along for the ride. Now I am at "full extension"!

The following things are all "optional" items, but don't be surprised if some of these things actually find their way to this bike. You never know what's going to happen in the future, and of course, I can always change my mind.

Sneak peek of On One's upcoming fat bike fork in carbon.
  • Carbon Fat Bike Fork: A titanium bike deserves a nice fork. Trouble was that up until recently, the 1 1/8th straight steer tube fork standard my Mukluk uses precluded the use of some of the nicer forks that were coming out, which were all tapered steer tube only. Well, that is about to change soon, supposedly. On One has slipped out some info and this image of a carbon fiber fat bike fork with dimensions well suited to a Mukluk of this vintage. Sub-700 grams too. They are saying it will be available in straight 1 1/8th, so we'll see.....
  • Titanium Seat Post: A titanium seat post in a titanium bike? Makes sense to me. Salsa actually has one too. Could be a great upgrade from the Shaft post I am using now and would increase comfort as well. Titanium seat posts are spendy though.....
  • Crankset: My crank and bottom bracket are certainly okay and work well. However; there are lighter, higher functioning cranks out now for fat bikes. More than a few options exist as well. Again, we'll see.....
Well, that's about it, really. I will probably table the new wheel ideas I had last Summer. I am thinking along different lines these days and I will be focusing on getting some good tires for now. Tires will make more difference than anything else I am considering, so that's job #1.

Then it will be on to doing a lot more fat bike riding for the latter part of the year. I'll mix that up with gravel riding when I can, but with my choices down to one bike with the fatness, I have to get going now with the upgrades. Then who knows? I may opt to sign on for Triple D once again, and that's always a good motivator for getting out to ride in the Winter.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Surly & Tired Part 2

Taking the long way home....
I have had a chance to ride the Surly Knard 41's some and it's been interesting so far. The first ride was anyway! I generally will take a newer tire in this size range and use a 40psi baseline as a starting point. Some tires do better at slightly higher pressures, some do better at slightly lower pressures, but 40psi is where I start out riding at.

Okay, no problem, right? I get up one morning last week, set the pressures while I am in a bit of a hurry to get out the door to work, and then I am on my way. The day is clear and cool, and the winds are out of the Northwest. Precisely the main direction of travel I take going to work. Besides this, it is mostly uphill as well.

Okay, so intially I have some rougher grass and dirt to traverse, then I get down to some bike path for a bit, then onto a really badly busted up road which gets better as you go along until it is "normal" pavement. I am thinking as I go along that these tires are stiff or something. I felt like I was dragging an anchor. But, I cautioned myself by reminding myself that I was riding uphill into a headwind. It's best not to get too judgmental in these conditions, I thought, and so I pushed onward, but it just felt bad. Sluggish and slow, but the rear tire didn't look overly squatty, as if I'd missed on the air pressures. Hmmm...maybe these need more than 40psi then?

Camouflaged single track.

Well.........they certainly needed more than 20psi! Somehow I blew it and misread my gauge at home and missed the pressure by 20psi. No wonder they felt draggy! Okay, so for the ride home, I double checked that I had 40psi in there, and then I set off for the long way home.

Now.......that's waaaaay better! More like what I was expecting now. The Knard 41's felt very "Clement-ish", if that makes any sense to folks out there. They even make a sing-songy noise on pavement like the MSO's do. Maybe a bit different, but similar.

I decide to hit some single track and see what the Knards might do. Well, on the leafy, dry single track they flew along just as fast as if I had put 2.1"ers on the Orange Crush. With the higher pressure, I could distinctly see a "center ridge" of knobs that was a tiny bit higher than the low "U" shaped profile which made for a faster feel and good grip in corners. Hey.....they are still skinny tires, so don't expect a Velcro-like grip, but for what they are, they rip along in the dirt well enough.

No gravel yet. No "real" gravel, anyway, but that's coming soon.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekend Report

Out with the boy Muklukin'
Saturday was a day that I felt was a better day spent with family, so part of that included getting out with my son and getting his new Mukluk dirty. The venue was going to be the Green Belt.

The plan was to take him back out to where we had ridden out there this past Summer when he still was riding his 24"er. On that ride he complained profusely about the sand, and he struggled mightily with trying to get through the sand without dabbing. Then there was also the Prescott Creek crossing, which I wasn't letting him try with that 24"er, with those skinnier tires, which I felt would not work well on those loose, baby head rocks out there.

The light was perfect for dramatic photos and the woods were a perfect place to be with the strong winds. Our fat bikes were crunching leaves and snapping twigs. I was just hoping that one of those sneaky twigs wouldn't find their way into one of our rear derailleurs. Fortunately, that did not happen. I suppose we could have set up either bike in single speed mode had it occurred though. Both our Mukluks have Alternator drop outs.

Well, my son crushed every obstacle and rode well. I was so pumped for him, and so glad that I went the fat bike route for him instead of a 26 inch wheeled, traditional mountain bike. It was so obvious riding behind him, as I did for quite awhile, that the stability and roll over anything nature of the fatter wheels was working for him and keeping him riding instead of having to ditch off the bike or crash.

More pics from the ride...

Checking out Black Hawk Creek

Rest stop on the way back
Dirt path going under paved cycling path

Like needlepoint for Men
Sunday I spent the afternoon watching a race on the television while I studded a 45NRTH Gravdal tire. I had a pair laying around here waiting to get worked on, and I decided to just be done with as much as I could get done with in one sitting. That turned into about three hours of on again-off again tire studding.

Yeah, that's a long time for one tire, but there were 252 studs that I pushed in by hand! The Gravdal has stud pockets molded into it and you can opt to use them all, or do a minimal pattern if you want to save some weight. However; with the alloy wrapped steel studs that 45NRTH uses only weighing an extra 80 grams for all 252 studs, I figured why not just put them all in.

The Gravdal tires and the studs for them came with a 45NRTH stud installation tool that made sticking the studs into the tire pretty easy. I just probably took longer to do 252 than most folks, but that's okay.

One thing I will say about this tire so far that has impressed me. It is an Innova made tire, and I have had several examples of Innova studded tires in the past. They were effective, but dismal in terms of ride quality. The tread compound seemed hard, the casing very stiff, and of course, they were wire bead tires. These tires are very different. They have a folding bead, for one thing, and the tread compound feels worlds softer and the casing is by far more supple. With the different studs, I expect a nicer ride quality. We'll see soon enough when the snow flies. These are to be my commuter tires when the Winter finally comes, so stay tuned....

Anyway, that was my weekend!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Trans Iowa V10: Working On The Course Details

Last week's recon mission with Jeremy of the Trans Iowa V10 course was a big step forward in getting the major work done for the event's course planning. However; with our forced re-routes, which added unplanned for mileage, it became apparent very quickly to me that a revision was going to be necessary.

Instead of scrapping what we had, I made a decision on the road to add a section I had in mind anyway, and then to quit for the day so I could regroup and come up with a different ending. Well, I have done that, and barring any more road blocks in our way, I think this will be pretty close to what the course will be for the April running of Trans Iowa.

The big problem with this year's course, (as it was with last year's and some years previous), is finding convenience stores that would be open all night, or a convenience store on the route at all. However; I have worked it out where resupply options will be possible at regular intervals. The longest space between stores, at least theoretically, is 70 miles. But hold may not actually pan out that way in reality. 

If you were in last year's event, you will know what I am driving at already. If you were not, here's the deal: Convenience stores typically close up shop by 11:00pm on a weekend night. Most do not open until 6:00am Sunday mornings. So, if you were to hit a convenience store opportunity at, say 11:20pm, you would be out of luck. It may have been 70 miles since your last stop and it may be 50 to 70 more until you pass another.

It is theoretically possible, given the distances between opportunities on this course and timing of your arrival that you could get into a situation where you may have to go 150 plus miles without a resupply. Now, I doubt that will happen. But you never know, do you? I figured last year most folks wouldn't get to Brooklyn before that convenience store opened, and look what happened! The event went at a record pace so far into it that many in the event blew by Brooklyn in the middle of the night, just when that store was closed. The leaders missed making it before it closed by about an hour and a half, and most of the field that finished had gone by before it reopened at 6am. Crazy!

So, this year you could find yourself in a similar pickle. Just don't say I didn't warn ya!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trans Iowa: Ten Years Of Tales #8

In mid-November, the idea of Trans Iowa was hatched. The year was 2004. In the ten years since then there have been many stories and memories. These posts will tell of the most prominent ones to my mind. Maybe I'll even spill the beans on some things you never knew....

Just too much....
 The run up to the second Trans Iowa was exciting and stressful. I was worried that things wouldn't go so well. Not because we hadn't done our due diligence, but I suppose it was a feeling of responsibility to put on a good event. Looking back, I was pretty amped.

The other thing that was imminently obvious going in was that the race day was going to be wet, windy, and cold. It started raining Thursday and it never really quit all through the weekend. Jeff and I were ready to see a crazy, epic struggle against the course and the weather. Jeff was in pretty high spirits and didn't seem too worried, so I took that as a cue to relax a bit. However; all week leading up to the event I was sure it was going to be another low count for finishers while others were saying a full one third of the starters would cross the line in Decorah on Sunday.

Going out on Friday to Hawarden was a fun trip, as I recall. We stopped at some Walmart and I bought an 18 pack box of Red Bull to keep me awake during the weekend. Jeff got some typical endurance racer grub and we headed out to stop and check on some of the B Maintenance roads we had on the course. What we found was dirt swimming in water. But that was only one major blow we were aware of. There was something else we hadn't considered, or even knew about.That being saturated gravel. It was like riding on a beach soaked in water.

Time to stuff race bags. (Image taken by Fixie Dave Nice)
But first we had a lot to do to get ready. We made it to Hawarden and made contact with our host family where we were to spend the night. We then hit the Pizza Ranch to set up shop in their party room. There we met an amiable fellow by the name of Dave Nice. He had come out from Colorado to ride in T.I.V2. He even offered to help us with stuffing the race bags! I thought this was awesome, and the theme of meeting really great people did not cease the entire weekend.

The racers filed in and amongst that years "big names" were the LaLonde brothers, Mark and Jesse. When we did the racer call up to get the bags, Jesse was called up first. He whispered to me that when we called up Mark, to use the name "The Darkness", because he'd really like that. So, that's what I did. It was a bit awkward, but he did actually really appreciate that!

The pre-race meeting went great, we had a good turnout despite the bad weather predictions. We did have a good amount of "no-shows" though, and while it has been a long time ago, I want to say the number was around 20 folks. It was something I filed away in my mind and wanted to think about later, but at the time we weren't too surprised that we didn't see some folks show up. With everything wrapped up at the Pizza Ranch, it was time to head to our host home for a few hours of restless sleep.

It was the first year of several to follow where I would wake up early and head out to a chilly, dark start to a Trans Iowa as we had moved the start back to 4am. The event took on a new feel due to this as we witnessed the long stream of flashers and head lamps when the horn was tooted at the beginning. It was wet, a bit windy, but hopes were high that dark April morning.

Of course, Trans Iowa V2 has become sort of a byword in the history of the event, and those that were in it still tell me they will likely never forget it. Most of the field had stopped by 40 miles or so into it. There was a smaller group that soldiered onward, and for a time we thought that maybe the predicted 5-12 riders would somehow make the 6:00pm cut off in Algona, but it became apparent by about 70 miles in that this would not be the case. An impromptu gathering under the new canopies in the park in Algona was arranged for, and as several riders stopped by to pick up unused drop bags, a bit of a beer party broke out. It was a fun, social end to a miserable, muddy, rainy day.

Jeff and I were home by nightfall that day. I felt I had not finished the job I had gone out to do. Trans Iowa became a bit of a legend in endurance circles as the event you couldn't finish, it was so tough. Only 9 people had ever done it. In a way, that was kind of a good thing, but in another way, it was a big concern of mine. At the time, I was just glad I had gotten home without some angry bicycle rider punching me out for such a miserable, tough course!

Next week: I'll start talking about T.I.V3.......

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday News And Views

Tires.You gotta have them. I like tires a lot too, and I've mounted thousands of them in my lifetime as a mechanic on bicycles (14 years), and as a car mechanic, (5.5 years). One thing that I've always thought was missing with regard to bicycle tires versus the car tires I used to mount was the "slippy-slide".

Slippy-slide......that's a technical term! The "real name" of the product escapes me now- if I ever knew it- but it was indispensable for mounting car tires. You slathered on this snotty-goo substance on tire beads with a brush before mounting the tires to rims. Then when you hit the tire with an air compressor, the beads would slip into place on the rim, instead of hanging up part way. Pop-pop! The tires would seat right up every time.

Well, with bicycles, you generally go dry with the tires, and because we typically use higher pressures and lighter components than automobiles, the beads set up without any extra goo involved. But sometimes they do not, and when they do not, it can be a real hassle to get them to "bead up". (Think 27" steel wheels and tires as a for instance.) Tubeless tires are another good place where I have used various substances to help the bead seating process along. All were messy and wet. Now there is Uncle Dick's Bead Slip

It's an organic blend of non-toxic ingredients that you apply with a brush to a tire's beads and it is supposed to make things go easier. I just got some samples at the shop where I work to try out. I have only used it once on a tubeless installation just yesterday. I hit the beads with the Bead Slip and mounted up the tire. A blast from a compressor and...........silence. It was eery! I've never had a bead set up so easily and quietly. More research is necessary, but first impressions are that it is good stuff.

Trek's Farley fat bike.
Fat Bike News: 

Trek's Farley is hitting shops now and with only 500 units produced, the model is hard to come by for dealers, in fact- it is impossible to get unless your dealer pre-ordered some. Unfortunately even the extra 500 that Trek authorized to be built are spoken for as well.  (Yes- that equals 1000 Farleys.)

There are frame sets out there to get though, so if you are so inclined, the blue or black colors are supposedly order-able. The frames are hydro-formed aluminum and come with a fork as well.

As confirmed by a Trek employee, Trek did do just what I theorized earlier this year and rushed this out to market just to have product out there to compete with all the others jumping in. That totally explains the Surly rims and tires on the Farley.

Word is now that Trek will have their own tires and rims for 2015, (read next Fall), and will have "several models" in the fat bike line. Interesting...... This certainly means that Bontrager branded fat bike tires are coming, and rims as well, one would think. Bontrager does a great tubeless tire and rim strip for most types of cycling. It would stand to reason that some sort of tubeless tire and rim strip may be in the offing for fat bikes from Trek. I would also predict that it will be Trek, (and very likely Specialized), that will pay for the tooling to get suspension forks for fat bikes from Rock Shox. Next Summer I would bet that much of this speculation will either be common knowledge or disproved. I'm betting it will mostly be true. We'll see......


And finally....

The big surprise for me this season is not that carbon fat bikes are of great interest to riders, but that they are actually selling. But not that they are actually selling, it's that the best ones are selling. The really expensive ones!

While I won't get into numbers here, the shop where I work is selling these things and by "selling" I mean "sold". I gotta say that surprises me a bit. I can't put my finger on it, but there must be a few reasons why this is.

Obviously, fat bikes have captured the imagination of several folks. Of them, more than a few are thinking traditional fat bikes are heavy. (Well, they are, but that isn't that big a deal for many, or to me.) Now with weight reigned in to the point that most 29"er hard tails weigh more than a fat bike of the highest caliber, you have to wonder if that is finally enticing some folks to jump in. That or folks are just all about carbon fiber anything......I don't know. 

Whatever the motivation, a sub-23 pound fat bike with a wide range drive train is pretty unbelievable.  And with regard to the Salsa, you have to believe that it could go lighter with a tubeless set up, and maybe some lighter parts,or what have you. Updated: Word has it that the actual weights of the XX1 equipped Beargrease carbon rigs has "ballooned" to over 24lbs in reality. Still- that's darn light for a fat bike, but don't go get rid of your super-light 29"er hard tails just yet!

Okay, that's a wrap. I hope you all get a bike ride in and enjoy your weekend.....

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Started out in the Sun....
Well, well....that first snow didn't last long! It came and went yesterday but it was quite cold yet Wednesday morning. Cold, wet, and yet it was sunny, at least to begin with. A good day to go exploring in George Wyth State Park.

The park is basically right in Waterloo and Cedar Falls' back yard, nestled in between the two cities on the North side. It's super easy to ride to, but to save some time, I trucked over with the Blackbuck single speed. I had heard that there was some new single track marked out so I figured I would have some fun finding it and helping "burn it in" by riding it.

Word was that this new bit was on the eastern end of the park, so naturally I started out on the Western end! The old bits are intimately familiar to me. I don't mean to brag, but I was around and riding on those sections when they were new "bandit trails" that the State Park Ranger had no idea about. That was back in the 26"er, rigid front fork days when most of us didn't know there were anything other than thumbshifters. My how things have changed!

Well, maybe if I could go back in time with the Blackbuck, many people would not notice much different with my rig! Certainly the bigger wheels would draw attention, but other than that and disc brakes, the Blackbuck could have come from 1989 just as easily as now. In fact, my skinny steel tubes and big fat knobbies are a retro touch which I enjoy about the bike. Only skinwall tires could make it even more retro-like, and you know, those sort of tires are out there!

....then I wiped out!
The snow from the day before left a lot of moisture trapped in the fallen leaves, and in Geo Wyth, that can cause some slick spots. The silty dirt gets a greasy consistency and when hidden by leaves and warmed by the Sun, it can be a dangerous trap. A trap that closed its jaws on me once again. I slid out on a left hander and smacked my right knee pretty good on something. But that's part of cycling in the woods. Its part of the "fun" of it.

I dusted myself off, rearranged my clothes, and picked up my bike to continue onward. I found myself drawn to an old, little used fitness trail spur and followed it down until I was pretty much in the middle of the woods and not very sure about where I might come out at. I was a bit surprised, really, that there was so much untapped woodland back in there. Of course, I was hike-a-biking by this juncture, but I was okay with that. I couldn't get over how I had not been in this part of Geo Wyth before. Heck, had I known how much potential there was back there where I was walking I may have built my own bandit trail back in the 90's!

But I don't have the time nor the energy for such mischief these days. Besides, the CVAST group is doing a bang up job without my interference in those matters, and in fact, it was that new bit of trail one of the members of that group had put in that I was really back there to find anyway. So, I stopped my fantasy thoughts and focused on finding my way outta there to see if I could ascertain just where it was I was.

Still an awful lot of green for this late in the year.
It just took me to look up, and see where the open area in the trees was, and I was guided right out on to a service road, and then not much further down to the two track access road where I knew that the new bit of trail was supposed to branch off of. That's where I was!

I was plunking along through some wet  mud puddles in the road when I finally came upon the line of flags. Okay, you never know how some folks are flagging trails, so it can be a crap shoot sometimes, but the person responsible for this flagging obviously knew the "Rule of Right", wherein a flagged trail always has its flags on one side. Then if you come at it from the direction of where it had been started, all flags would be on the right. Now I could be wrong, but the description I read claimed the trail "dumps out at the gravel road", which is the end I came upon first, so I just kept the flags to my left, and all was easily found, even though it is far from being clearly scratched out into the woodland floor, it is so new. Right or wrong then, I say, "Well done folks. Well done!".

Now I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the trail proper as I am about how it was marked, but it was a short section and sort of anti-climatic after all the empty woodland I had just walked through. But never mind that, I am sure it will be a valuable way for folks coming from the East to avoid paved bike trails even more. That's a good thing.

The Cedar River at Geo Wyth State Park
At any rate, I decided to head on back to the truck. I took mostly the older way back, but there is a couple newer, CVAST built bits I like through here that I strung into the route getting me back.

On the older bits, I still can clearly see in my mind how things used to be, and I found myself murmuring out loud about how a certain section had dove down and back up a ravine back then, but now we were using the cut-off that arose from folks who weren't as brave to ride the steep banks. No one would know that unless they had been around back then. But it is still a good little trail.

I finally made it back to the truck and loaded up the Blackbuck. By that time the bright sunshine had given way to gray skies, typical of late Fall. Cold, gray, and damp. A recipe for chilling to the bone. I don't think my fingers warmed up for ours afterward!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Surly & Tired

What a small example of a Knard looks like.
Surly Bikes have many tires to sell you. One of their models is called the "Knard". Yeah.........okay, it's a name of a tire, that's all. I wouldn't go reading too much into that name.

Anyway, there is a 26" X 3.8" model for fat bikes, a 700c X 3" model that Surly calls "29 +", and now this- a skinny Knard. Underfed probably. Stunted possibly. Well, anyway.....

They call this one a 700c X 41mm. I got to ride on a pair of these at Interbike which were mounted on one of those sparkly, light purple Straggler bicycles. I rode the skinny Knards on the gravel and loose surfaces up into Bootleg Canyon a bit and was duly impressed with these tires. So, I figured I would look into buying a pair when they came out with a proposed 120TPI version with a folding bead.

Well, that happened recently, the tires became available. I put my name in to order up and buy a pair, and they are! So I have them at home and mounted up on the HED Ardennes+ wheels. Here's the numbers on them for those who care....

The pair of Knards I have weigh 490gms and 470gms each. The tires mounted to the HED rims, which are 21mm wide inside, at 40 psi measured out at 39.6mm.

Okay, so not 41mm, but these are new tires just mounted. I'll reserve judgment on width until they have had time to stretch a bit, if they do stretch at all. They probably will.

Compare and contrast: Clement MSO's are about 39.2mm wide, and Kenda Happy Mediums, marked as 40's, are measuring out at 42.2mm on the Viaje I am testing.

38mm to 42mm is a pretty good range for size for any road/all road/mixed terrain riding. can ride skinnier stuff, but I think this range is a good one for everything from dirt, rocks, roots, and busted up pavement. I was having a blast the other day, as an example, when I was launching off curbs and bashing through some branches on the aforementioned Happy Mediums. Skinnier tires would probably get pinched, or damaged. But more importantly, the bigger volume tires absorb more energy, and roll over things better, than skinnier treads. That's a big deal on some roads and trails. Bigger tires are waaaay smoother too. Far more comfortable than any skinny road tire I've ever test ridden or owned.

So the Surly tires fit the bill in that regard and should be decent, at least they seem to be well made from my view. I'll be riding them and I'll find out soon enough.......

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trans Iowa V10 Recon: The Other Images

I took something like a 170+ images during our drive on the T.I.V10 course Saturday. Here are some more featuring harvesting and some of the course as well.

Note: All images taken while averaging 36mph in a Toyota Tundra on a Fuji pocket camera circa 2007. Translation: Don't expect image awesomeness! Dust, rain, and Sun on the windshield does weird things, which I happen to embrace, so there........

Monday, October 21, 2013

Windmills For Paul: The T.I.V10 Edition

Just like "Barns For Jason", I have been doing "Windmills for Paul" but mostly on Facebook. Paul is a U.K. friend that came over and did T.I.V9 and professed a love for windmills of the sort we have here. So, this post is for you, Paul!

Note: All images taken while averaging 36mph in a Toyota Tundra on a Fuji pocket camera circa 2007. Translation: Don't expect image awesomeness! Dust, rain, and Sun on the windshield does weird things, which I happen to embrace, so there........

Wind generators, but many call these wind mills as well.
Another  of some wind generators.

Breaking In The Beast

Dialing in the fit....
Well, here is at least one project that has come to a close. My son's new Mukluk 2 rig all done and ridden. Here's the rundown on the set up...

New 2014 Mukluk frame and fork. Size XS. Rear derailleur is a SRAM X-9, front derailleur is a Shimano SLX. Crank set is an Origin 8 Sub-Compact with a 32T/22T ring set and the rear cassette is a 12-36T. The shifters are Grip shift twisters. One brake- a rear Avid BB-7 with an Avid SD-1 lever.

The head set is a Cane Creek 40 Series. Handle bar is a cut down Surly Open Bar mounted in the "drop" position. Stem is a Bontrager SST. Seat post is a 31.6mm Salsa model. The saddle......he isn't comfortable with. I'll switch it out to his favored WTB Lazer.

Tires and wheels are Surly Big Fat Larrys on Rolling Darryls laced to Salsa Mukluk 2 hubs. I also mounted two Velocity Bottle Traps on the fork to hold his water bottles. Grips are Salsa Back Country lock on grips in Metallic Glitter Gold that I cut down and mounted in reverse to work with his Grip Shifters. Pedals are Fixation Mesa pedals in white.

I got it all together and dialed in the fit by getting the saddle slid forward and setting the height where he felt comfortable and still wasn't too low. With a few rounds in the back lot of the shop, we were ready to roll out to the woods.

Back home to get into our gear and fill the water bottles. Then we rode out from the house. It was a short trip over to the dike on Black Hawk Creek where I taught Jacob about the front derailleur. (He had never used one before.) He then scaled the dike like a champ. Afterward, I had to make a small front derailleur adjustment on the bike, (good thing I packed along some wrenches!), and we were off again.

Down the dike, then over to a short section of open area where there is some sand deposited from past flooding activity. I had Jacob try riding over this to help him understand that the fat bike wasn't going to dump him like his old 24" wheeled rig used to.

With that bit of confidence instilled, we then hit a bit of rooty, rough single track, and there is also some sand back here as well. He decided to turn suddenly in sand which showed him that was not necessarily a great idea. He fell down. No big deal. We were off again in a jiffy.

Now we were going on a bit of a rough grass traverse on some steeply sloping ground along side a pond. Jacob wasn't feeling too secure about this and wanted to walk. I talked him into trying it out, and before I knew it, he high sided and launched him self headlong into some brush lining the pond! He was mostly okay, but he caught the flat pedal on the way off with his shin and punctured himself a bit. Blood, but not much, was leaking out slowly. I took a look at him and he was hurting from it, but able to continue.

Up on top of the dike we went and continued the ride all the way back to the house with no real further issues. A successful outing with a bit of adventure for him, and a new bike that is a better fit and lots more fun for him. I think this will be a good pairing until he outgrows it!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Barns For Jason: T.I.V10 Recon Edition

Hey, I know I wasn't riding my bike when I saw these barns, but these are too good to let sit on my hard drive, and I know my friend Jason will appreciate these.

Note: All images taken while averaging 36mph in a Toyota Tundra on a Fuji pocket camera circa 2007. Translation: Don't expect image awesomeness! Dust, rain, and Sun on the windshield does weird things, which I happen to embrace, so there........

 Same barn as above-different angle!