Sunday, January 24, 2016

Minus Ten Review- 3

This is Project 1X1 loooooong before I got it! J. Kerkove's mess from '06
Ten years ago here on the blog this week I was thinking about what might happen at T.I.v2 if the gravel roads were messy like they were back then. My  co-worker at that time, Jeff Kerkove,  had done a training ride for his 24 hour solo stuff coming up that year. He rode my Project 1X1 Surly, which was just another old bike at the time that Jeff was treating like a farm animal during Winter. I think Jeff was third in the line to have this steed. Anyway....

I was speculating on how people might come out looking had they been on a wet, messy Trans Iowa version 2, which wasn't to happen for another three months. Turns out that it was really wet and messy! Maybe I shouldn't speculate on such matters...........

The thing that strikes me about this image now is that Jeff treated this 1X1 horribly for at least two Winters, and then it went through three other owners before I got my hands on it. This is amazing to me- that the bike is still in one piece. It has not rusted, nor been damaged severely through more than 17 years of abuse. A true testament to Surly's early efforts. I have cleaned the frame and I have really looked it over with a fine toothed comb and it doesn't show 17 years of abuse, in my opinion. Really, this is quite extraordinary, for how badly this bike was abused over all those years. Hopefully I haven't jinxed myself........

Big kitty tracks? I found these down near Hickory Hills in January of '06.
 Back in January of 2006 I was riding a single speed a lot as well. Mine was a Surly, but with bigger wheels! The Karate Monkey was my steed, and I was doing a lot of rides on gravel now, having been bitten by the bug when we had done the first Trans Iowa in 2005.

That week in January ten years ago was not too bad temperature wise. We had gone through a bit of a thaw, and snow was rare except in ditches where drifts had been thick. I was on a ride down Ansborough Avenue to Tama County, where that turns into "U" Avenue, and to where that tees off into an East-West gravel. There I took a break to have a bit of Hammer gel and water.

I was just casually looking around when I finally noticed these huge animal prints in the snow. A big kitty? I looked around, but saw no other evidence. I laid my gel flask next to one of the prints, took my picture that I wanted, and perhaps rode away a bit more hastily than I might have otherwise. This was near to Hickory Hills, a large, heavily wooded rural county park which had a lot of small game and deer within its boundaries. I suppose a bobcat wouldn't be out of the question, but in all my country travels, I have never seen evidence beyond this that they haunt our environs.

These were also the rides I missed doing for the next seven years or so, since I had to place more effort into riding review stuff for Twenty Nine Inches. I think I really got the gravel bug bad, because I always wanted to get back to doing these rides after '06-'07 when that faded out of my repertoire. 

And here she is! The Karate Monkey from the ride I saw the cat tracks on.
Then there is that bike- the Karate Monkey. My first 29"er. By this time, after three years of owning it, I had it dialed in about as well as I could get it for the technology of the day.

Most notably, I had fitted On One Midge bars and an old Wright's English made saddle I got from an early 70's Raleigh. The bike had Cooks Brothers cranks in the 177.5mm length, and I ran a 37 X 18T gear on it, as I recall. Lots of folks were curious, at the time, as to what brake levers I was running with mountain BB-7's, which were what I had for disc brakes. I used old Shimano aero levers with the SLR cable pull. These were likely late 80's/early 90's levers. They pulled just enough cable more than standard aero levers that I could get the disc brakes to work pretty well, actually. It was a tricky, tricky set up to get it that way though.

It looks like I have Bontrager XR tires on the bike here. This would have been one of the first tires Bontrager made for 29"ers, and they were really quite good. I remember how supple they were, and on hard pack they were fast, grippy, and never let me down. I'm pretty sure this is possibly the only set of 29"er tires I have worn completely out. All those miles on gravel too, for the most part. By the time I had accomplished that, Bontrager had dropped the original XR folders for a TLR version made in a different factory. They were never quite the same tire.

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