Monday, March 31, 2014

Tamlanding: Part 2

Morning bike path action
Saturday I got up early. Good thing I also went to bed early Friday night. I had plans for a big ride thwarted a couple of times by heavy winds, but Saturday was not only going to be warmer, but with low winds. I only had to make sure I got back home by noon so Mrs. Guitar Ted could go somewhere.

So, I made it out of the house by 7:15 and hit the bike trail to the South. It was a great, sunny morning, and the warbling of all the recently returned songbirds was in the air. Red Winged Blackbirds, the most courageous of the lot, were taking up positions on poles and were busy looking for mates. Later, when they've nested, the males will go after anything and everything that comes near their nests. It is pretty amazing to see these red shouldered mighty-mites go after hawks and even eagles if they get to close to their territories. Even cyclists are not immune. But today, I was left alone.

Then I hit the gravel on Aker Road going South. It starts out as a gently rolling road and with the wind at my back, it was easy to roll up the little hills. The light was great for taking some images, and it wasn't long before I hit on the section of Aker Road I'd not ridden before.

My shadow was chasing me.

New-to-me part of Aker Road South of this intersection.
The gravel was dry, cleared, and fast, fast, fast! I was in the big ring for most of this long section going South. The further South you go here, the more the rollers get bigger. Of course, Tama County gets you that! Eventually I reached a portion where I was drawing up on Wolf Creek, and then things went pancake flat for a bit until I got into Traer to refuel for the return leg.

Barns For Jason
The Tamland is working out great!
Traer has a convenience store on Highway 63 right smack dab in the middle of the town. I've stopped here a lot. It's been used for several Trans Iowas as either a pass through resupply stop, or as in T.I.V5, a checkpoint. I've used it for a couple of Guitar Ted Death Rides, and I've started lots of rides from here as well. If this place ever closes down, it'd be a shame. I'd miss it.

I got myself a breakfast sandwich here and drank down the rest of one of three bottles I brought along. I probably should have purchased some more liquids here, but I seemed to be doing okay and I wasn't thirsty. I need to just make myself drink more though. Probably would be a good thing. But anyway, the bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit hit the spot. I was hungry when I rolled in there! I should have purchased another for down the road though, as later I got hungry again with no chance of resupply.

I left the convenience store and cruised through the downtown area toward the old iron bridge that has been blocked off for years to get to a dead end gravel road that leads you to Ridge Road. When I turned the corner in town to come within eyeshot of the bridge, I was surprised to find that the old iron gabled bridge was gone! In its place a new bridge had been erected. A cement deal that had all the character of a Soviet era government structure. Bah!

Well, at least they replaced it, and now the access to town from the Northwest via gravel is guaranteed for a long time now. I figured it would be truncated someday when they finally pulled the older bridge down, but thankfully, I was wrong. Too bad the new bridge doesn't have a tenth of the good look and character of the old one. I suppose the bottom line is that it worked and got me to Ridge Road!

The long climb up on Ridge Road

Cow paths in the distance
Barns for Jason
 Ridge Road was a good section, but I needed to head back North to start getting closer to home. I nixed the idea of taking N Avenue as it didn't "feel" right and went one more mile to M Avenue, which I was pretty sure would take me a long way on my trek back Northward. Down off the ridge and over some steep rollers here, and of course, into the wind. It wasn't the super-crazy wind of the last two rides, but it slowed progress on the climbs quite a bit. I was as patient as could be, and things were going okay. However; I was feeling it in my legs now. They were getting tired and sore. So, I tried to spin more to compensate.

I looked up ahead at one point as I approached an intersection with a paved road, and I thought I saw horseback riders in the distance, but then they turned into cyclists! I knew that a group was leaving town a couple hours after me. It turned out to be the same. We stopped and exchanged pleasantries then they went on their way Southward and I struggled on Northward.

Scared sheep
Along about this time I ended up hitting the valley of Black Hawk Creek where it was dead flat and I had to earn every inch of my progress. My legs were screaming at me, and I was pretty dang tired, but I was moving. I was also getting hungry again, and even though I passed through Hudson, I couldn't stop, as I was trying to get home before noon to allow Mrs. Guitar Ted the chance to go shopping with the kids out of town. So, I was going as hard as my legs would allow for, which is to say, it was pitiful, but again, I was moving!

Finally I made the run in toward Waterloo and home. Considering that three weeks ago I was very sick, and that just recently I have straightened out and felt better, this ride has to be considered a big success. Of course, next week I have to go do the Renegade Gent's Race, so it's about time I came around! At least the Gent's Race course won't be nearly as hilly as what I did this weekend. It probably will be a bit longer, because I only squeezed out about 56 miles, and the Gent's Race course is 63 or so, but I should be okay. Looking forward to it!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Trans Iowa V10: Itenerary

You sent your post card in, trained hard all Winter, and now there are only 27 days to go. Here's the list of things you will need to remember for the event. Pay attention! These are important!

  • Pre-Race Meat-Up- Friday April 25th: This is super important that you not be late and make sure you get signed in before 6:00pm!!  The Pre-Race Meat-Up begins at 4:00pm. Get there early if you are eating. We need to get through a record number of meals by 6:30pm to keep the meeting on schedule. If at all possible, please come early! The Steakhouse is open before 4:00pm, so if you want to come right at 4:00- they will be ready. IMPORTANT! THOSE NOT EATING MUST SIGN IN BEFORE 6:00pm!! No Exceptions. I know that means you'll either (a) have to hang out, or (b) make two trips if you leave after signing in, but them's the rules and I will enforce them, no matter how far you came to do this event. If everyone else can figure it out, so can you. BE THERE! 
  • Standing Room Only: Due to the larger number of folks attending, (so far), I am quite sure the meeting room will be packed. Many of you will likely have to stand. Just a head's up there.... The dining area shouldn't be an issue. 
  • Ending: The meeting, if everything goes smoothly, should be over by 8:00pm, if not before. 
  • Trans Iowa V10 Start: Be downtown on Broad Street in front of Bikes To You by 3:30am. We will line you up behind the Truck With No Name at 3:50am, and promptly at 4:00am, your riding will commence. Remember, there is plenty of temporary parking, so if you have folks that want to see you off, it is cool to have them there and parked. However; we must request that no long term parking be attempted, since downtown businesses need those spaces for customers later on in the morning. 
  • Checkpoint #1: The first Checkpoint must be reached by 9:30am, and not one minute later. Volunteers will be instructed to not hand out any cue sheets past 9:30am. If you fail to reach the checkpoint before 9:30am, you are out of Trans Iowa v10. (Do you have a bail-out ride?)
  • Checkpoint #2: The second Checkpoint must be reached by 9:30pm Saturday evening, and not one minute later. If you miss the cut off, you are done. All volunteers will be instructed to quit handing out cues at 9:30pm sharp! (Do you have a plan in case you need help getting back to Grinnell?) 
  • Finish Line And End Of Trans Iowa V10: If the weather allows a finish-able event, (See Below), the event will end at 2pm Sunday, April 27th. Any riders rolling in past this time will be scored as a DNF. 
In case of extreme weather: As many of you know, there have been instances of weather causing an end, or such poor conditions that riders miss checkpoints and there are mass DNF's or no finishers. First off, See This and read #16 thoroughly. Notice that in any case of bad weather, It Is On You To Decide What To Do. We are not responsible for you or the weather that may affect you. If things are getting too crazy for you, be that in terms of rain, wind, cold, etc-our advice is to  stop riding, call for your support person, (you do have that arranged, right?), and get outta there. If we are pulling the plug because we think it is unfinishable, or too dangerous for us, that will be communicated at checkpoints. Otherwise, You Are On Your Own!

The Barn: There will be an announcement given soon on activities and ways that support folks and riders can use the Barn. Stay tuned......

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Trans Iowa V10: Cue Sheets Reviewed & Race Number Protocol

Josh Lederman's T.I.V9 tribute display
Cue Sheet Dtails For T.I.V10:

Over the last three Trans Iowa's I have refined the cue sheets down to a fine art, (for this event, at any rate), so if you've been in any of the last three Trans Iowas, you know the drill. Same size cue sheets as last year, same directional prompts, yada, yada, yada

But if you don't remember, need a refresher, or are all new to this, here's the details you need to know going into this deal.

Size:  Roughly 4 inches tall by 3 3/4's wide. Don't take that as gospel and I'd err to the slightly bigger side if you are making a homemade cue sheet holder.

Numbers of sheets: Four to Checkpoint #1, Six to Checkpoint #2, and eight more to the finish line. Total of 18 if you earn all of 'em.

Cues Explained: Following are the directional prompts I use for the cue sheets:
  • X = Cross:  Indicating a crossing of another road, usually a paved county blacktop or US Highway. Generally in conjunction with "!" meaning "Pay attention! This is important!" followed by either "CAUTION" or "DANGER". Essentially this tells you that the roads are not closed to regular traffic, that you need to obey all traffic laws, and that extreme caution is to be used in crossing said paved byways and highways. 
  • R = Right Turn: Obviously, when reaching the mile indicated, and seeing the sign which matches the name on the cue, you turn right. 
  • L = Left Turn: Same as above.
  • BR = Bear Right:  The road you are on either (a) turns or has a "bend" to the right, and something here may cause confusion, so the prompt is given, or (b), the intersection is such that it is not at right angles, has more than one road crossing it, or the like. 
  • BL = Bear Left: Same as above.
  • QL and QR = Quick Left  and Quick Right: If a turn happens right after a previous turn, in such a short time that giving a mileage would be less than a few tenths. Many times these are in conjunction with one another. (See Next)
  • JJ = Jig-A-Jog: A place in a road where the road may be offset at an intersection, or there is a dogleg, or "kink" in the road that may be confusing. Basically a "Quick" left and right or vice versa happening in quick succession. "JJ" is usually followed by a "QR>QL" or "QL>QR" in the description.
  • > = "To": The ">" symbol is a substitution for the word "to". So "QR>QL" is translated to "Quick Right to Quick Left" 
  • >> = Continue On: The ">>" symbols together mean "continue on". So, you may see the following: 34.5 BL >> 90th Street. Interpreted this means at mile 34,5 you "Bear Left" and "Continue On" 90th Street. 
  • (P) = Paved Road:  If a turn goes onto a paved road, you'll see the (P) symbol to indicate this. 
  • (G) = Gravel Road: Once you return to gravel, you may see the (G) or "Gravel" at the end of a cue indicating such. 
  • (C-Store) = Convenience store within eyesight: Self explanatory. 
  • O = Checkpoint or Finish
This is acceptable or
 Race Number Plate Protocol:

We are requesting that riders in T.I.V10 follow a strict protocol for wearing and displaying of numbers this time. We have reached a point where there are enough riders that it has become hard to figure out who is who by just the way you look. Number plates are an essential way for myself and the volunteers to properly track and score your progress. This year, if the following protocol is not adhered to, it can and will result in a DQ, at which point you will be scored as a "DNF" on the records.

Last year we asked nicely that you do this, but some of you did not display your numbers, and tracking riders, especially at the busy and oft times chaotic Checkpoint #1, was nigh unto impossible. So, since we cannot rely on voluntary adherence to our request, it has become a "rule" this year. Here are the acceptable ways to wear or display your race plate:
Like this or....

  • Pinned to jersey or jacket
  • Pinned to hydration back pack
  • Tied or pinned to front bag
  • Tied to handle bar

In case you have a crash, or somehow lose your race plate, (torn off, blew off in wind, etc), you must inform a checkpoint volunteer or risk DQ. We are reasonable folk, so please- work with us on this!

This always works!

At checkpoints, please state your name, and if you have the number properly displayed, you won't have to know that!

This way our volunteers can properly identify you and score you properly. It would really be great to have all of you follow this protocol!

And the number plates will all be three digit ones just like the ones you se here. I will personally hand letter your name on each, as I have the past two Trans Iowas. Thanks for your consideration on this. Any questions on cue sheets or number plates? Hit me up in the comments section!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday News And Views

Not Avid
Don't Say The "A" Word: 

Last year there was a big story in "Bicycle Retailer & Industry News" concerning the wrath of independent bicycle dealers  towards Avid's Elixir brakes. Seemed the warranty claims were through the roof. Innergoogle forums were (and still are) rife with Avid brake complaints. "Turkey gobble" has come to mean an entirely different thing since Avid rotors and calipers hit the scene.

Well, obviously SRAM had enough and designed a new brake line dubbed "Guide" and branded as a SRAM component. Apparently a total break with the Avid name was in order to help restore dealer and rider confidence in the new brakes. Interesting to say the least. What will become of the Avid name, if anything, will be seen. One thing is for sure- SRAM is taking a bath in terms of their reputation in the brake component realm. The road hydraulic fiasco really put a exclamation point on all of SRAM's brake troubles. It is hoped that with this move, and branding change, they can leave the dreaded "turkey gobble" and failures behind. We'll see.........

Interbike '13

Death Of A Trade Show?

 I've been saying it all along- The bicycle trade show model is losing its relevance. It would seem that some bigger companies are agreeing with that by deciding not to attend Interbike'14 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Trek has pulled its presence from even the Outdoor Demo, which it used to show at. They haven't shown indoors in years. Nothing new there, and one company doesn't a trend make. However; now comes news that Specialized, Campagnolo, and Shimano are either scaling way back, or simply not coming to the show at all. Shimano, which was always a landmark booth on the show floor due to its huge footprint and gigantic blue banners, will now merely be a kiosk to hand out current model year catalogs at Interbike '14.

Many companies have moved to private, "dealer only" events, but Shimano is planning on opening "Business Centers" for retailers to visit. Two are planned initially but more are hinted at in a recent dealer communique. Shimano is also sending out representatives and tech folk on a more regular basis directly to shops. Other companies have taken to doing consumer demo events at various locations, usually in conjunction with local bicycle shops. All circumvent the need for a centralized trade show held once a year.

With Eurobike commanding a worldwide audience and the Intergoogles delivering content at a moment's notice anywhere a business person may be, actually attending a North American based trade show seems less and less important as the years go by. It will be interesting to see if Interbike can reinvent itself to find new meaning for business people in this new age.

Gettin' ready to lay some tracks down

Renegade Gent's Race Update:

Tomorrow is supposed to be a glorious day here in Iowa, so I am off to do some more solitary suffering in an undisclosed county in Iowa. The plan is to reel off a good, long ride this time, and hopefully that winds won't be super-brutal, like Wednesday and last Saturday!

I think I might throw on the Revelate Designs Tangle Bag this time to see how that plays with the Tamland. I am hoping to really test out a few things, (including my motor!), this time out. Tweaking out the position is pretty much over with now that the Cowbells are on the bike. Those are the best handle bars for a more road-like set up without being obnoxiously unusable in the drops like most road bars are. Saddle height, set back, and saddle to bar drop are all really good now. So with the Tamland it is now all business and getting down some serious miles in the books.

Okay, that's a wrap! Have a great Spring weekend and hopefully some good riding!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Bar Swap: Salsa Cycles Cowbell

Stock FSA bars on the Tamland Two
The noble handle bar experiment is over. I gave them an honest shot with a few rides, but I could tell, it wasn't meant to be. So a Salsa Cycles Cowbell 2 was ordered up and now resides on the Tamland Two. No fault of the FSA bars, they are good, but they do not meet my rigid standards for what a drop bar should be. That is- "a handle bar with a downward turned "hook" that lends itself to being used in several positions for the hands to control and steer a bicycle. They also should not impinge upon the operation of shifting, (if said bicycle is geared), nor in the operation of braking, from any hand position on the hook/hood section. They also shall be wide to accommodate my jumbo jet sized torso." That's my technical definition for ya.

The FSA bars failed in two ways for me. One- they were definitely not wide enough for me. At 44cm, they felt like a juniors bar to me when riding. Worse- the lack of width was a serious hindrance to leverage. In much the same way a wider bar on a mountain bike gives better stability and control, so does a wider road bar. And of course, I looked silly and pinched in riding these narrow bars. Again- it's just me, I am sure!

However; secondly and more importantly, the brake lever was not reachable from the drop without letting loose of the drop section a bit. Not cool. Shifting from the drops was nigh unto impossible as well. Why are drop bars like this? That's easy- because you aren't supposed to use the drops anymore, silly! The drop section on road bars is a silly, unnecessary appendage only displayed so others can be sure of your "roadie-ness". I mean, otherwise you might be mistaken for a hipster with pursuit bars, right?

So anyway, something really had to be done since this wonky design was impeding the operation of the bicycle. The Cowbell 2 is a proven design, as I use it on the Black Mountain Cycles rig and have used various shifters with great results. So a 46cm bar showed up yesterday, which improved the width factor, and I got right to installing them.

Cowbell. I need more Cowbell!
The Cowbell is also slightly flared and very slightly "swept" outward in the drop section. The drop section is also longer by a bit, which I appreciate greatly. More places to put my hands is always a good thing on drop bars!

There is a Cowbell 1, and the difference is only in the material used to make the bars. The "1" is a 6000 series aluminum and slightly heavier. It costs about $30.00 bucks less than a "2" which is made from 7000 series aluminum and weighs a bit less. Both are 31.8mm clamp diameter bars only and only come in black ano. MSRP is about $75.00 for the "2". I payed for mine and am glad I have them!

Reached! FTW
The Cowbell has an entirely different shape to it and less reach and drop by a long shot versus the FSA bar it replaced. But most importantly, I can easily shift and brake from the drop position now. This will not only make quick shifting a breeze, but it will definitely be safer!

There is a hidden benefit in all of this as well, which I did not realize until I got out to ride yesterday. That is now I have another contact point which is familiar and the same as the BMC bike. Making a comparison to the BMC will now be easier, since handling and "feel" in the bars will not be colored by the inferior design of the FSA bar. (My words on the FSA bar, some may love those things.)

It was great riding the Tamland yesterday with the new bars. Much more comfortable, and obviously, easier to ride since I didn't have to contort my arms to operate basic functions. Braking was made so much better! Speaking of which, a lot of folks have been wondering about the TRP Spyre brakes on this Tamland.

The Spyre brakes have two moving pistons instead of one, like most mech brakes have, (including Avid BB-7's), so in that respect they are unique. This brake has a much better feel at the lever, especially with STI Shimano levers, which I've used with other mech disc brakes before and they were not easy to set up and didn't feel that great. Typically the Avid BB7's tend to feel too "mushy" and lack power with the STI levers, which tend to use up a lot of their travel to develop the kind of stopping power you may need. Not so with the Spyres, and this is the main difference. You get a great modulation feel, but you also do not have to pull the lever too far to get that. Power is great. Plenty of that on tap. The bonus here is that the Spyre brakes have been incredibly quiet as far. We'll see how long that goes on for.

Okay, so I have my Cowbell handle bars on the Tamland now and I think I'll be set for awhile. Bring on the training miles and the Gent's Race!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Single Is Not Necessarily Simple

The current Inbred SS set up
 I grabbed the Inbred SS rig for a quick errand yesterday and realized something.....well, actually I remembered something, but the Inbred reminded me of it.

Single speed bikes are not necessarily "simple". In fact, going single speed on a mountain bike these days might actually complicate things a bit. How? Well, in a few, irritatingly significant ways, actually. In some cases, it is almost better just running a geared bike. Almost....

Take rear drop outs for instance. At first glance, the traditional track end seems innocuous enough. But add disc brakes, a boat load of torque, and a grippy rear tire and a few things become sickeningly apparent. Slipping axles in the fork ends, fighting the caliper to remove a wheel, and just getting the wheel centered, (if you are OCD, this is the biggest issue!), can really ruin your day. Sure, you can use a chain tug, but that's another layer of complexity you are adding to a "simple drop out". Yes, you could just use nutted axles, but then you have to carry a wrench. See what I mean?

Then you have the solutions to the track end drop out. Eccentric bottom brackets, sliding drop outs, or swinging drop outs. None without their peccadilloes, and some with a big headache or two.
Why do we have to keep reinventing thru axles?

Then you have suspension forks, which have their own sets of complexities. None more baffling than the through axle. At first glance you may think all of them are like the Maxle, or Fox/Shimano's 15QR, but you'd be remiss in that notion. It seems to be a big game to see how many ways we can reinvent the through axle for mountain bikes.

Take this Manitou Tower Pro, as an example, a fine enough fork when it comes to suspension duties. However; it has a funky keyed through axle that isn't very easy to get right, and the mere fact that it can be done incorrectly, yet look right, is dangerous, in my opinion. Not only is this system less intuitive and fussy than a Maxle or 15QR, but it has a tension adjustment for the quick release lever, which if it isn't adjusted correctly will leave your wheel loose. What? You have to do two things to secure the wheel versus one, simple, easy to use method?  Let's not even get into Magura's system, or a couple of other oddball through axle deals out there.

So, you can see that on both ends of my Inbred, things are complicated. Yes- even without gears. In some ways, just popping a rear wheel into a vertical drop out, slamming the quick release over and riding off sounds kind of like a simple, sweet deal on a geared bicycle. Maybe if the industry would just give over and quit trying to be "different" for the sake of avoiding a licensing fee, we'd see some sensible results. Maybe if stupid trade mark and patent infringement deals that frustrate riders would be let go of so we could have an industry wide standard for through axles like the Maxle, we'd get rid of these wonky, one off designs.

Yeah.....I know- Dream on Ted!

But I will say that when all the goofiness works as advertised, and you hear nothing but your breathing and the tires working the trail, a single speed can give you a certain feeling that makes all those issues go away. For that time, the single speed is the greatest tool of mountain biking distilled down to its simplest form. Well......until you notice that your rear wheel is crooked again! 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cold & Hot

A spot of warmth on Friday, then......
Now more than ever I am glad I bugged out of work Friday early for that brief bit of warmth we got. Since then it's been back to the freezer for us here and we'll have another day of it yet today. Then....

Looks like a warmer bit again, but who knows how long that'll last. I sure hope it goes on for a while because it is hard to put up with the cold anymore when your mind is made up for Spring. Of course, Friday didn't help that along any, now did it?

My short term goal is to get ready for the Renegade Gent's Race coming up in 11 days. The course is relatively flat, but I need to work up some miles and this cold weather makes doing that harder, not to mention the brutal wind. Wednesday looks like a big ride day for me. We'll see how that weather holds up.

In the meantime, the past weekend and on into Monday has been a rather surprising stint for gravel road related events, news, and general hobnobbing of the sort. First there was a rash of new events discovered which I was busy compiling on the Gravel Grinder News Calendar late into the evening. Then it was a few e-mails from different areas of the country that weren't all about the same thing, but had gravel road events as their general theme. Finally, I had two phone calls concerning advice on gravel events and one interview.

The new header for the GTDRI site.
This gravel scene, what can I say? It continues to blow my mind that it is gathering more interest and events keep popping up all over. I had news this weekend of two in the planning stages that haven't even been announced yet! I know one of them I am pretty interested in myself, so stay tuned on that front.......

Finally- I've struggled with this decision all late Winter and a couple things have occurred that have pushed me to make a decision in one direction versus what I had intended on doing last Fall. It concerns the 3GR. That gravel ride I did every Saturday morning for several months the past two years.

First off, I have decided not to continue these rides in 2014. The reasons are two-fold, as hinted at above. First of all, an excellent alternative for rides has arisen in a Facebook page called Cedar Valley Velo Ride Guide. I've already seen several Saturday rides on gravel there, so that fills the void, (if you can even call it that!), with the demise of 3GR. I invite the few that showed up on my rides to check that out.

Secondly, I have a plan to get up to where I am planning on the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational in July. I should be making several Saturday treks up there to do training rides, and these will be unannounced outings. Solo. Suffering. I don't expect a lot of folks will get that, but that's okay. I have a score to settle with this course, and I plan on being ready. I will be sticking to that plan..... Other Saturdays I will be doing other rides. I may join some CVVRG rides, maybe not. I may drive somewhere I've not ridden before and ride. I may ride out my back door, but I have found that Saturday morning rides are good for me and I want the freedom to go where I please for a while. Barn hunting, seeing stuff, and getting ready for GTDRI, Odin's Revenge, and Gravel Worlds.

But first things first, and that's getting up to speed on miles and be able to pull my weight with my team at the Gent's Race. I will be using that Tamland I just got and I think that will be an excellent bike for that course the way it is set up.

I'm pretty sure I'll have to swap out those things I mentioned in my post yesterday on it, but for now I am sticking to the original set up. Tires will be a last minute call. I may be mounting up some lighter, skinnier tires than the Clement MSO 40's on it now, but that's easy enough to do the day of the event if I want to. The gravel hasn't ever been too awful down there, with the exception of that final run in two years back that left us scrabbling on the margins either side of the road for the smoother track!

Last year we got rained on. Who knows what this year will bring? Bad, rough gravel, rain, wind, or snow? This year snow wouldn't surprise me one bit! (Although I really, really hope that doesn't happen!) The thing is, we'll have fun and get a metric century in regardless of those possibilities.

Monday, March 24, 2014


The maiden voyage was to work on Friday
It was all shiny and new, but now, this Monday morning, the Tamland is all dirty from a weekend of flogging. Obviously, with the background I have with this bike's history, I was eager to find out if what I'd been hearing about it was really true. That folks were really excited about the way it rode. I'd heard from the brand manager at Raleigh that the company prez was so smitten with the bike, that after he got a pre-production sample last year he quit riding anything else and rode the Tamland exclusively for weeks. I heard that dealers that had tried it out were pretty stoked about it. That's cool, but you know, you always want to find out for yourself, especially when many of the things about the bike were influenced by your own ideas.

So, when Friday was turning out to be a glorious day, I cut outta work an hour early and headed out for the gravel roads. Not far from work I got a sinking feeling that my tire pressures were off. Too low! Especially the back, it felt so soft, so smooth, like a low tire. The thing was, it rolled fine and pedaled without extra resistance, which you would expect with a low pressure tire. But the road was gone. There was no feeling from the back end of the bike, like any bumps and vibrations were being zapped before they got to my backside. Uncanny it was, so I stopped finally and checked the rear tire.

Barns For Jason

The tire was fine! Wow! So the Tamland is smooth then? Yes. Very.

I went on out of town to the North and cut across Eastward on Bennington Road. It was super nice out. Above 50 degrees and little wind. I felt a lot better and so I was hammering the bike over every roller. I slowed to get an image of a barn for Jason, and then I rolled a bit further down to take some detailed images on the road of the bike. The roads were primo. Only a few wet spots now and no dust. All the rock, for the most part, has been scraped aside by snowplows over the Winter leaving super smooth and fast dirt in its wake. That won't last long!

Back in town
I got back into town after 20 plus miles and felt great, if not a bit tired, but that was a great ride after being so cold for so long. It wouldn't last long though. Saturday was forecast to be colder by about 20-25 degrees and a lot windier. I still purposed to get a ride in despite the forecast of doom.

As foretold, the day on Saturday was brutal. Back into layers and heavy gloves for a slog in upper 20 degree temperatures. At least the Sun was out! Had it been cloudy the day would have felt a lot worse. I had intentions of riding part of the T.I.V10 course, but I didn't go that far down, and ended up driving to Traer and unloading there for what I hoped would be a fun, 20+ miler in some big hills.

A brutal wind cut my ride short
I left Southward, with the wind, and that part was a blast. Essentially a repeat of Friday, until I turned West. Gah! I lost a lot of speed, and the wind was battling me hard. The weather said it was an 18mph wind with 24mph gusts, but it was more like a 25mph wind with 30mph gusts! I mean, if it almost stops you in your tracks when the gusts come, that is a powerful wind.

Or I am really weak now! Could be.......

Whatever it was, it sucked, and I was really going to start hurting from working so hard to keep the bike going. I thought about how I had done an unplanned for ride the day before, and decided that I didn't want to sink my ship so soon after getting it above water. Being sick so long has made me a bit wary, perhaps. At any rate, I decided to cut the ride way short, turned North, and about had a fit. I mean, the wind, now in my face, was so strong I couldn't get above 10mph. It was nuts.

Barns For Jason: A round one!
What can you do? I just decided to roll with it. Heck, I was in no hurry, and so I tried to take what the ride would give me. I stopped and photographed whatever I wanted, and took my time spinning as much as I could. It was slow going, but it was going!

Eventually I got back to the truck and made it home. A good call on cutting that ride short too. I was feeling it in my legs the rest of Saturday and Sunday. Sore! So it was a recovery day on Sunday and I decided to clean up the Tamland and see if it needed any tweaking.

So, do I like it? So far it would be a big "yes". The bike has elements of a couple bikes I love rolled into one here: Steel, compliance, low bottom bracket, and stability. I don't like absolutely everything about the Tamland. There are a few components I think I will eventually swap out, starting with the handlebar. It isn't terrible, but by its very nature, it inhibits use in the drops and I don't like that. The drop section is okay, with its progressively curved tubes, but the reach to the lever from the drop in order to brake is unnecessarily too far. I know how to fix that, and the solution is named "Cowbell". There will be one coming for this bike quite soon!

The saddle I expected to hate, but hold isn't too bad! The wheels are another thing. They are "okay", but I foresee something nicer taking their place eventually. Something a lot lighter. So, minor nits, nothing at all due to overall fit or design here. Just normal wishes and ergonomic complaints. Oh.....and one more compliant. When is it going to get warmer! Friday was such a tease!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Trans Iowa V10: Thoughts On The Roads

From this year's course.
One of my main concerns now is how the roads are coming out after this brutal Winter weather we've experienced. I must say that so far, the conditions have exceeded my expectations.

Three weeks ago we had maximum snow cover and we were experiencing the worst sub-zero temperatures of the season. Now- only three weeks later- the snow is almost completely melted. That in itself is pretty amazing.While things are looking great from that standpoint, there still is something else that will shape the outcome that has not happened as of yet.

That is the frost, which hasn't "come out" yet.

For those of you that may not understand, when Winter comes, it freezes the ground at the surface and for some depth below that. Generally speaking, that is usually about 4-5 feet down on any average Winter. However; it is estimated that the "frost" depths this year are twice that of normal. That will take  a while for the heat and energy of the Sun to "draw it out" of the ground. When it does this, we may see some spectacular road damage occur.

Minor frost damage as evidenced in the center of this road
Imagine a detachment of subterranean B-17's bombing the roads from underneath, and you might begin to understand "frost boils" and "frost heaves". These anomalies occur as frost is trying to melt, and water is pushed upward to the surface. This sometimes "boils" the ground into a fluffy texture, or it may manifest itself as a pocket of oozing mud. We had severe cases of this during T.I.v4 and again on T.I.v6.

Right now the roads look primo, and are fast and riding great. I've had reports of some county maintenance in the form of dump truck loads of fresh gravel. Holding out hope, if we do not see a tremendous amount of frost damage, and/or the weather holds out, and doesn't prevent maintenance, we may see an early start to the fresh gravel season. That would be a better situation than last year, which was pretty much smack dab in the midst of fresh gravel being put out.

Of course, this was the weekend when we had first planned to check the cues, but due to circumstances, and wanting to wait out the frost, we postponed it until our second choice, April 12th.  Hopefully by then we can see what sort of roads we will have on tap for T.I.V10.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Trans Iowa V10: Things Are Shaping Up

The T.I.V10 commemorative cap: Modeled by B. Bottke
A little over a month from now and T.I.V10 will be in full swing. Now all things are drawing together to a conclusion and the only "wildcard" left to discover is the weather. (More on that in a bit.) Sponsors are prepping things to be sent out, cue sheet checking will happen soon, and the Pre-Race Meat-Up menu choices are all, (mostly) in. Here are some tidbits on the event organization end for you to read about.....

  • Hats: Just a quick history on this first- The hats were supposed to be cycling caps originally, but due to the exorbitant costs of custom printed, (or even plain), cycling caps, we decided to go to a trucker style cap. This proved to be doable, so that's what you are getting if you show up for Trans Iowa V10. They are in production now and should be ready in plenty of time for T.I.V10. The logo for these hats was the original Trans Iowa design conjured up by Jeff Kerkove in 2004. I figured it would be a great way to tie in the 10 years of Trans Iowa with my 2013 design on the t-shirts.
  • Recon Postponed: In order to get a better read on the roads and whether or not any of them might be closed due to Winter/Spring damage, we postponed recon till mid-April. Today was our first choice, but with the frost yet to come out of the ground fully, we thought better of it. Stay tuned for updates on this....
  • Pre-Race Meat-Up: Thanks to all of you for answering the Pre-Race Meat-Up e-mail. I am submitting the data this weekend from that. Remember- the Pre-Race Meat-Up is mandatory to attend and you must sign on before 6pm Friday the 25th of April at the Grinnell Steakhouse or you will not be riding in Trans Iowa V10. No exceptions.... Some of you chose not to eat at the Steakhouse, which is fine, but that notwithstanding, the rest is still required for you to ride! Do not forget or fail to be on time! 
  • Sponsors: If you have pledged anything for Trans Iowa, I am very grateful. Now would be a great time to arrange for delivery of the products for sponsorship. If there are any questions, hit me up here. Thanks for the support of Trans Iowa!
  • Weather: As always, any forecast this far off is a crap shoot, but so far the weathermen and weatherwomen are sticking with a cooler, wetter Spring forecast. The next ten days will see cold nights below freezing and highs in the 40's-low 50's. The first 60°+ day isn't forecast until well into April with sub-freezing nights showing up until mid-month. This bodes for wetter roads and unrideable B Roads unless there is a big departure from the prognostications. Day of event forecast? Saturday morning snow flurries! Don't shrug it off, because it has happened before! 
  • Trans Iowa Radio: Just a reminder that Mountain Bike Radio will again be hosting the popular call ins by riders and myself for Trans Iowa V10.  Details are being ironed out, and I will announce them as soon as I can. I may also be supplementing that with some longer audio-blog posts here. One of the limitations to the call in last year was that the allowable time for posts was only about two minutes long max. I kind of like to ramble a bit longer than that at times, so I may do that here. We'll see......
Stay tuned- more coming tomorrow!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday News And Views

Finally got it home
Tamland Time: 

I finally got the Raleigh Tamland back to the house yesterday. A day later than I had intended, but that's okay.  Now the test riding begins! First will be today's commuting, then Saturday I have a test session for the rig at a "secret location". Look for a full report Sunday on where that is....

So, since I haven't ridden it just yet, (besides pottsing around in front of the house last night), I can only comment on a few aesthetic things and a minor comment on spec.

I have grown to like the paint job more than I did originally. Funny that I didn't catch on until my daughter saw it and dubbed it "American Flag". Well.......duh! It is red, white, and blue after all! Then there are the steel tubes. I like the thinner steel tubing look. A fine departure from the massive, swoopy carbon frames. Simpler. Easy on the eyes. That goes for the graphics as well. Raleigh really restrained themselves there.

I don't care for the black Ultegra 11 speed look. Black. Gah! Black is the color of plastic, or carbon fiber, but obviously, this isn't the latter. It's going to look horrendous once it gets gravel dust all over it too. Silver would have been so much better in this regard, like the stuff on my Black Mountain Cycles rig. Anyway, I'll be riding this a bunch soon, so stay tuned for details.....

Gravel Expo:

You've heard of the Almanzo 100, but did you know that this year there will be some "grass track racing" and a vendor expo? Yep, and it'll all go down the night before the Almanzo kicks of on Friday May 16th at the Spring Valley Minnesota Campground.  Here's a brief listing of what is going down there...
  • Almanzo 100 packet pickup
  • Grass track racing- FREE entry to race on a 225 yard grass track.
  • Rapha film festival (Starts at dusk)
  • Spaghetti dinner and oatmeal bar breakfast (Saturday morning)
  • Camping will be available onsite as well. (First come, first served)
So, could this evolve to become the "gravelers version" of Sea Otter? That might be pretentious, but it would be pretty dang cool for the Mid-West and all road riding.  Hopefully the weather cooperates and this inaugural event comes off well and is well attended. I'd love to be there myself, but I already am engaged to do something with my son that weekend and won't be able to make it. Actually, if I could make it, I'd be riding in the Almanzo 100, and would be sleeping early that night somewhere else to get a good rest!

Domahidy Designs steel single speed
Domahidy Designs Announces 27.5"ers:

 Steve Domahidy is a smart, really nice guy. Whenever I went to Interbike and Niner Bikes was there, I would get Steve off to the side and get him talking about the bikes he designed. It was very interesting, fun, and it was really easy to hear Steve's passion and caring for his work in his speech and see it in his body language. If there is one thing I love about the cycling industry it is passionate, caring cycling nerds. (I mean that in the best possible way!)

Well, Steve broke off from Niner Bikes and now he is trying to kickstart his own company. The main bunch of rigs are 29"ers, of course, but Steve, being the practical, smart fellow he is, realizes that small individuals need something other than 29 inch wheels, so he is adding some 27.5 sizes in the titanium and Reynolds Steel hard tails he is offering for such folks.

The Kickstarter campaign ends real soon, so visit the page and make up your mind soon if you want to see this thing off to reality. Either way, I'm sure Steve will land on his feet somewhere and be just as passionate and caring about bicycles as he ever was.

That's a wrap for today. Get out and kick off some Springtime miles!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Remembering The Old School

Back in the day, this was my bike. Really!
I was up at the shop yesterday to bail out a customer that needed a special cassette built up from something he had brought in. While I was assembling that, I noticed a Surly Ogre, (yeah......hard NOT to notice that box!), and it needed assembling. So I stayed and started piecing it together.

I was twiddling wrenches when I looked up and saw a "customer" approaching the counter. Suddenly I recognized the figure as a person I hadn't seen in 18 years! It was an old riding buddy of mine. What an awesome surprise.

Well, it didn't take long before we were deep into the "old daze" when we both did a lot of riding together. Trips, night time rides, and after work jaunts in Geo Wyth. For a brief look at one adventure I wrote up a few years back, see here. Those night rides were actually instigated by this old friend, which is something I just learned yesterday. It was really fun to remember those times when riding was just for fun and adventure and mountain biking was still evolving at a breakneck pace.

It's funny to look back on it all now. In some ways, the whole suspension, free ride, and racing deal back then kind of messed up what was simply a great time. We didn't let it get to us, well......not too much. But as with anything, things change and we all went our different ways. It's all good......

It was great to reconnect after all these years and catch up, and who knows, maybe someday we'll be rolling wheels together again on another adventure.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Crawling Out Of The Hole

Love that red!
The health and all is still pretty zapped, I'll tell ya. Last Friday I felt like a zombie, so Saturday, even though some folks had a big gravel ride planned, I decided I had better not go. I actually slept in! Things is, it didn't do any good, and I finally just went out for a brief ride anyway.

I saw that the flood gates were closed on Fletcher Avenue, so I went down and cruised the dike along Black Hawk creek just to see how things were coming along.

I found that the ice was already out, and the creek, which had been higher, was receding then. I missed the ice jams! However; there were still huge chunks of river ice floating in the rushing current and several large section of ice stranded up on higher ground where the water had once been.

I ambled down the bank gingerly, since there was still fairly deep snow here, and went down to the creek's edge for a closer look at the flotsam and jetsam of Winter on Black Hawk Creek that was being swept away by the coming of Spring on Black Hawk Creek.

Interesting how the creek layered up through the Winter as seen by this big chunk of at least 15"

I puttered around there for a bit then I headed back home. Sunday I felt lethargic all day, for the most part. Monday and Tuesday have been so-so. It seems as though my health is stuck in neutral for now, and I will just have to take care of myself the best I know how and be patient. Maybe as the ice takes awile to melt, so will the coming of full health and fun on the bicycle again.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Raleigh Tamland 2: In Light Of The Circumstances.....

The new sled in the shed.
 The gravel bike. Who needs a "gravel specific bike"? First off, no one needs any "specific bike", but the fact is that specialization of bicycles is not only accepted, it is seen as being necessary in several types of cycling. I could go on and on, but it is a fact of our day and age. Don't like it? Get an ordinary then and be off with you!

Specialization for gravel bikes makes just as much sense as specialization for cyclo cross bikes, because when it comes right down to it, we could ask the very valid question: Why not just use a road bike for cyclo cross racing?" Ridiculous, you say? Not the same thing, you say?

Really? Think about it.......

So, with that said, I have been bouncing around ideas for a gravel specific bike geometry for years on this blog. Apparently someone took notice, and last year sometime, I was at work and I received a phone call from Raleigh USA. A conference call, ideas were bounced around, and I downloaded a "laundry list" of ideas that, if I were a manufacturer/retailer of bicycles, I would include in designing a gravel specific bike. Phone call ends, and I pretty much shrug my shoulders and forget about it all. I'm used to being asked stuff and having it go nowhere, or come out entirely unlike anything I suggested. Why should this deal be any different?

The Tamland 1: Image courtesy of Cyclo Cross Magazine
Fast forward to mid-Summer 2013 and the Raleigh dealer camp. At that event, Cyclo Cross Magazine reports on a gravel bike from Raleigh dubbed the Tamland. I prick up my ears, because in the description I get hints of things I said Raleigh should consider for this rig.

Later in the year, more information is released and at Interbike in Las Vegas I get to see the Tamland for the first time. At that event, I was told that, indeed everything I laid down was taken to heart and implemented into the Tamland design. Pretty heady stuff. I said at the time, "Well, if this doesn't work out, I suppose it will be my fault!" Maybe I overstated the importance of my advice, but that's the impact the news had on me at the time. I was, and still am, flattered that this bike was somehow influenced by my thoughts on what a gravel bike should be. Of course, Raleigh's talented folks had a lot to do with getting this done, and they certainly deserve the lions share of credit, but knowing I had a small part is humbling.

Now, in light of this, I figured I better buy one, and I did. I mean, I figured it probably won't happen again anytime soon, that a bike would have something from my influence executed in its design, so I  had better get one now. That said, I don't even know if this would work- I just thought it should! Fortunately the early reactions have been very positive towards the bike, which is even more flattering and humbling.

And now I'll get on this red and white Tamland with the blue highlights and I'll find out if it does work. If it does or doesn't, I'll not be shy in saying so. And as I've always said, it is not going to work for everybody, or maybe for very few folks, and maybe it doesn't really work at all, (although that last choice seems highly unlikely from what I've heard), so we'll see. In the end, it may be a great all-road design. Whatever it is, I will be finding out real soon!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Reason For What I Do

The start of the return on investments
Yesterday I had a surprise visitor at the Guitar Ted Productions Headquarters. I won't get into who it was, and what the reason was for the visit, because it isn't anyone elses business. (But as long as I am mentioning this- thank you! ) However; something came out of the discussion we were having that rang true, and it reminded me of the conversation I had only a week ago with MG. I felt compelled to share something about those two conversations that maybe is obvious to some folks, but then again, maybe it isn't.

This whole gravel road cycling thing has been going on for a while now and there are a lot of events happening. Several of these are of the "free" type: Almanzo 100, (and attendant events), The Gravel Worlds, Westside Dirty Benjamin, and I could go on and on. The events that have turned gravel racing into the defacto "grassroots cycling" movement of the U.S.A. Why is that? Is it just that these events are free to enter? Partly. Yes, that is one reason, but I think there is a whole lot more depth to it than just a lack of monetary barriers.

Barriers to inclusion can be all sorts of things and a few of us out there that have been sweating the details and doing this for awhile are committed to breaking down as many of those as possible. Some of those things are obvious, like the money deal, or no license requirements. Some of these things are not very obvious- at first glance- but if you care to look deeper, you'll see what I mean.

This isn't your ordinary racing- (Image by W. Kilburg)
When I used to race XC mountain bike stuff in the 90's, it was pretty much accepted that racing off road was "friendlier" than doing road bike events, but let me tell you- those events weren't very friendly. Before I even knew what gravel racing was all about, and way before the culture of the gravel events developed, or the whole "adventure" thing connected with gravel events happened, I was pretty turned off by the "every man for himself" attitudes and the cold, self absorbed nature that many of the participants conveyed to me.

Now- that's my experience. But in comparison to what I have witnessed, been a part of, and told by others, the gravel road racing scene isn't like that, (for the most part), at all. Not even close.

Maybe it is the "all inclusive" nature of gravel events. You could show up on a real klunker of a bike, or something totally not right, and folks would be okay with talking with you and not taking you to task for being a "newb". They wouldn't look down their nose at you, but more than likely, they'd be willing to help you out, if you wanted that, and at the very least, they would be very encouraging toward you. That's what I've seen. That's what I've heard.

These are the same folks that would, after they won the event, come and pick up a DNF'er out on the course because the event director was tied up elsewhere. (Ask me how I know that!) These are the folks that after a top ten in the event offer you a cold one, and sit down and share the day's events with you, and want to hear about you and your experiences, even if you didn't finish. These are the folks that aren't bitching about what the race director didn't do for them, but are standing in line to shake his/her hand, offering encouragement, and doing unasked for things in support of said events. In other words, these are the folks you want to get to know, to ride with, and cannot wait to do that again with them.

If it weren't for gravel stuff.........
Anyway, you get the picture. I am not saying this doesn't happen at road races, mountain bike races, or whatever. I am saying that in my experience, and in that of almost anyone else I can think of that does gravel events, this has been the experience, and I've only scratched the surface.

The big point brought up by my conversations with these two folks recently was that without gravel road events, and them being the way they are, there would be so many fewer friendships, opportunities, and special memories that are associated with those events. I don't think that you can say any one thing led to this- not the "free" racing thing, not that these events are on gravel, nor that they are easy to attend. I think it runs deeper than that. It is about the people, the spirit of the events, and lasting relationships that come out of them that make the gravel racing scene so attractive and so.......powerful. 

Yes, I just said that. 

I think it is true, and if the deep, heartfelt conversations I have had in the past week are any indication, I am dead right. I know a lot of popular media types, bloggers, and talking heads will poo-poo all this, but that's okay.  I say, come on down and get dusty, look around you, and see if you don't see it as well. Then we'll talk.....

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Trans Iowa V10: Checkpoint Cutoff Times

Today the information I am laying out here is vital for all Trans Iowa V10 participants, and after the detailed time cut off info there will be a re-posted bit on why the time cut offs exist as they do. Please keep in mind, if you miss a cut off, even by a minute, your Trans Iowa is done.

Okay, so here are the times:
  •  Checkpoint #1  @ 53.65m- CLOSES @ 9:30am SHARP!!
  • Checkpoint #2: @176.65 m CLOSES  @ 9:30pm SHARP
  • Finishline @ 336.75 CLOSES @ 2pm Sunday April 27th! 
You'll notice that the time cutoff times are identical. That is on purpose so you, as a rider in Trans Iowa, only have to remember one time. Of course, the first checkpoint closes in the morning, the second in the evening, but the number you have to remember is the same for both. I figured it would make things easier on all of us.

Now for the re-posted bit, which originally was up here previous to the running of Trans Iowa V8.
There are a few reasons for time cut-offs. First, many folks may not know this but one of the co-founders of the event, Jeff Kerkove, came from a 24 hour racing background. Having an overall time cut off was normal practice for an event that he would have done, so it was that when Trans Iowa was conceived, there was a time cut-off for the entire event. Besides, we had to be back to work on Monday after the event! Seriously though, we wanted there to be a challenge factor involving time.

At the eleventh hour we sprang a time cut-off to the Checkpoint in Algona the first year. This was done because we realized at the last moments that we needed to keep me moving along the route to check out things, and that we couldn't expect Jeff's parents to be sitting there in Algona waiting on riders for however long they took. Also- and more importantly- we knew that if a rider didn't get to Algona by "X" time, they wouldn't finish by our overall cut-off anyway. (For a recap of the first Trans Iowa, see this.)

Waiting for riders at the only Checkpoint for Trans Iowa V1

How were these cut-offs arrived at?

 Subsequently, after T.I.V1, we announced what the checkpoint cut-offs were ahead of time. Checkpoint cut-offs and over all event cut-off times were determined based upon a "ten miles covered on course every hour" formula. This was arrived at by thinking about the over-all time stamp for Trans Iowa.

Obviously there would be a start time, but we determined that in order to allow for riders and support folk to get back home for a possible work assignment, school attendance, or what have you, we had to cut off the event sometime in the early afternoon of Sunday. (Given our weekend time slot for Trans Iowa) We then pushed back the start of Trans Iowa by suggestion of Mike Curiak to force riders to use their lights out of the gate. This starting time was determined to be 4am, to allow us to cut off the event at 2pm Sunday, and still give our riders the 10 miles covered every hour on course minimum.

Okay, so the over-all mileage of any given Trans Iowa fluctuates a bit, so this meant that 34 hours over all would be the parameters in which to fit the event into. Then comes the checkpoints. These are figured- by design- on a slightly different level than I used to in the early days.

Remote Checkpoint, Dennis Grelk (Image by W. Kilburg)
 So, why not make the cut-offs easier to attain?

 Okay- Trans Iowa is a challenge. It is supposed to be difficult to do, because if you all could finish it, what would that mean to anyone? Just like not everyone will win a race, not everyone will be able to finish any given Trans Iowa. Sometimes no one finishes Trans Iowa. (But that's another story.)

So, with that in mind, I usually set a slightly quicker time cut-off for the first checkpoint into the event. It usually entails riding 50-55 miles in 4 plus hours or so. Sometimes the mileage is less than 50, and sometimes the time is more than 4 hours. It all depends upon my design for the course. This year you'll have to ride about 53.65miles and you'll have 5.5 hours to do it in. If you don't make it in that amount of time, you are done. But I also believe that you wouldn't finish in 34 hours overall either. Plus- I don't want my volunteers sitting there all day waiting on stragglers. Finally, there are some intangible things, such as the challenge factor, that figure into my decision each year.

But what if I travel from a long ways away and don't even get to ride past the first 50 miles or so?

Now, perhaps this all seems arbitrary, unfair, and unnecessary to you. Maybe you are thinking the cut-offs should be relaxed to make it more attractive for those coming from afar. I have one answer to that, "Trans Iowa isn't for you." That's right. Trans Iowa isn't for everybody, and if you don't think it makes sense in one way or another, do not sign up, and do not ask me to change anything about it. I have it tweaked out to where I like it, it is easier to put on the event, and most folks that have ridden in it like it as well.

That isn't to say that I don't want, or that I do not get advice on how to run Trans Iowa. I do, and I ask for that from those that have ridden it. You might be interested to know that almost to a person, no one has had an issue with time cut-offs since the first Trans Iowa. I can count on one hand with three fingers gone how many complaints I've gotten about that. So, you see, it seems to be working for most folks that accept this challenge.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Trans Iowa V10: Miscellaneous

Moving into March now and a month and a half to go before the tenth running of Trans Iowa. Here's a brief look at a few items on my mind at the moment:

The Course:

With March comes the thaw and I and a couple of others will be getting out to do a final recon on the course in a couple of weeks. This is the time we check the cue sheets for accuracy and clarity. But it also will be a barometer for how the roads will be firming up after what has been the worst Winter on record in years. Will the roads be damaged badly by frost? What will the counties do for maintenance?

First off, I feel that where we are going on Trans Iowa this year wasn't hit as severely as we were in the Northern tier of counties in Iowa. This should make a recovery to normal gravel road conditions much easier on the course of T.I.V10. Weather will determine maintenance by the counties, but I can say that even at Trans Iowa Headquarters the copious amounts of snow have been decimated by the recent thaw we have experienced which has reduced snow cover here dramatically. It is hoped that the weather continues on its benign track and allows for a more normal time schedule for maintenance out there. 


Yep! It is time to start looking forward to what the weather may be like for T.I.V10. While it is absurd to put any credence in such long range forecasts at this point, I think that what meteorologists are calling for in the trends is worth considering.

As of now, the weather folk are predicting a downward bend in the jet stream which will put Iowa, and surrounding states, into a trough. This bodes for cool, wetter weather. However; just where, when, and if this is correct will make any final determinations on what really happens a crap shoot at this point. I've seen forecasts that agree with this, calling for a slow, gradual rise in temperatures from March to June, so perhaps a "typical" Trans Iowa forecast? Yes- I think more than likely it will turn out that way. More on this as we go forward......

The very first Trans Iowa pre-race meeting scene
Pre-Race Meat-Up:

I want to thank most riders on the Trans Iowa roster for responding to the e-mail sent out three weeks ago now. It was concerned with the schedule for the Pre-Race Meat-Up and your menu choices for that event which is mandatory to attend! You don't have to eat/spend money there, (but it would be a great gesture on your part if you do), but you must check in with me at the Meat-Up before 6:00pm, Friday April 25th, or you will not be able to ride in T.I.V10.

Here's the list of folks I have not heard from yet. I need responses from these folks by March 30th or their names will be struck from the roster and I will assume you won't be coming. So, if you know any of these folks, please put a bug in their ear about what is going on so they have a chance to respond. I need to know if these folks are coming and they need to know what the heck is going on for the Pre-Race. Thanks! Now the list:
  1. James Chidester
  2.  Gary Cale
Tomorrow I'll have some more Trans Iowa specific information for you all, so stay tuned.....