Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday News And Views

TRANS IOWA v13 T-Shirt Design:

This is what it will look like. Artist approved!
Last Sunday I sent out an e-mail to all of the T.I.v13 entrants which gave a bunch of pertinent info and asked each rider for a t-shirt size. Well, here you can see an example of why I was asking that. This rendering is the design for the proposed t-shirt.

So, a little background here. Back in the earlier daze of Trans Iowa's history, I would get post card entries for the event from a guy named Gary Cale. He always had these awesome cards with a certain style that was unmistakable. One year, for T.I.v4's entry, he sent in a version of a design he had rendered that was reminiscent of the design for T.I.v13's shirt, seen here. He has done some other really cool cards to get into Trans Iowa as well which are all some of my all-time favorites.

Anyway, I asked Gary if we could use his artwork for a Trans Iowa v13 shirt and he agreed that we could. So, here is the result. We had to take some liberties with the colorization, font, and wording to make it work for this year's t-shirt, but the basic idea remains. Trans Iowa is a "good kick in the junk". I think it looks great and this is the idea I was hoping would work out.

I have gotten all but about 27 people still on the roster to respond to my e-mail sent out almost a week ago now. If you haven't responded, do so, or you will not be getting one of these t-shirts at the Pre-Race Meat-Up for Trans Iowa v13.

In other T.I.v13 news, I will be out doing some recon again this weekend and the hope is that I can wrap up the investigations into the options at hand. Once the course is finalized I can then begin to draft the cue sheets and get a time for the cutoff to Checkpoint #2 soon.

Co-Motion Klatch model to be displayed at NAHBS
Get Ready To Get Sick Of "Gravel Bikes":

Ya know, about six years ago or so I was thinking the only way I was going to get a bicycle designed to do what I wanted it to do in fine detail was going to be by getting a custom made frame and fork. Well, now it isn't it an irony that seven years later we are about to be pummeled by "gravel bike" designs?

 The NAHBS custom bike show will be rife with such bikes, and just wait until next month at Sea Otter. You won't believe the deluge of "gravel this-gravel that" you are going to hear about.

Now you might think I'd be really happy about all of that. Well, you'd be mistaken. See, just about 3/4's of what is labelled as "gravel specific design" is anything but that. It is almost all warmed over cyclo cross offerings. There isn't anything at all different about a lot of these frames and forks which are really repainted and renamed bits from 5 years ago when everyone thought the US was going to go ga-ga for cyclo cross.

The thing is that unsuspecting folk will buy this repainted/renamed cyclo-cross stuff and think they have something specifically designed for gravel riding which will be better than a plain old cyclo cross bike. Sorry. You will have been duped.

Sure, there are some bikes which really do have different geometry, (lower bottom brackets than 70mm drop, slacker than 72.5° head tube angles, fork offsets of greater than 45mm), and really do have a fork and frame which were designed to absorb the "paint shaker" effects that gravel roads impart on riders hands and bums. But most won't, and they will fit right in with cyclo cross geometry and riding characteristics.

Maybe you don't care about any of that, but if that is the case, I would be surprised that you are reading this at all. Anyway.... Just be aware that "gravel" is the new "enduro". And it will be run right into the ground.

Just Like Trans Iowa, only in Oklahoma for the Land Run 100
Land Run 100 This Weekend:

This weekend kicks off the big run of gravel events which lasts throughout the Spring. The first big event is the Land Run 100 in Stillwater Oklahoma.

I've been a bit amused by the chatter pre-event about what folks expect to experience there due to the weather that is forecast to be rather like what one might expect at a certain Iowa based event. Stillwater is much further South than Iowa, and generally has very comfortable temperatures by this time in the year. However; despite having a forecast high of 80°F yesterday, the event will see a high of maybe 48°F and stiff Northerly winds mixed in with periods of rain. I don't doubt that this will feel a lot less like "Land Run" and a lot more like "Trans Iowa".

In fact, the social media person in charge of Panaracer/Stan's NoTubes p/b Bicycle X-Change Team's feed said that the forecast conditions for Land Run were very "Trans Iowa-like". I think that is the first time I've seen a reference to Trans Iowa weather conditions outside of personal/private conversations. It is apparent that Trans Iowa has a reputation amongst gravel riders and this statement seems to prove that. At any rate, those Land Run people are in for 1/3rd or less of what Trans Iowa dishes out on occasion and it will be interesting to see how that goes down this weekend.

 Finally: Perhaps the ultimate irony is that all of today's subjects are having to do with gravel riding, and I am saying you will get sick of all of the gravel stuff being shoved down our eyeballs soon enough. Well, long time readers know I have been talking about gravel stuff since forever. It isn't a fad for me. It isn't a potential source of income or revenue that will lift last year's sagging sales results back to the flat line. (Because I don't sell "gravel bikes") I don't have a "horse in the race" in that manner. I just really like riding bicycles and doing that out in the country, which just so happens to have a lot of gravel roads. I like the people who also like doing that with me or without me.

People say, "What's the big deal? It's just riding bikes on gravel.", and they are right, but they are wrong. It is a big deal to ride a bicycle, and especially for me. It is just riding bicycles on gravel, but that is my passion in life, so yeah..... It may not float your boat, and that's cool. There are more than a few ways to enjoy riding bicycles. Go do it your way.

And with that said, you should go do just that- Ride your bicycles this weekend. Peace!


Irishtsunami said...

Regarding the gravel bike discussion, as humans, we destroy what we love. This goes for events and industry/market over-saturation.

Smithhammer said...

I think there are two things that will/could lead to the demise of what is supposed to simply be a fun, exploratory type of riding:

1) The inundation of marketing-drive BS and bikes that are simply capitalizing on the 'gravel' trend without really understanding or, nor having any real commitment to it.

2) The opposite end of the spectrum, with uptight 'gravel snobbery' and unnecessarily narrow views of what "proper" gravel bikes should be and look like.

Frankly, I see a fair bit of both these days. And I believe that if this niche of the sport is to have any real longevity, it needs to find that happy medium that stays well clear of both of the pitfalls above. said...

Having ridden all over New England and now lots of the PNW all I can say about your "proper" gravel bike concept is that gravel roads differ wildly depending on where you live. Your concept of gravel in Iowa, Kansas, etc is a lot different than how the gravel roads here in Oregon/Washington shape up and way different than the gravel roads in New Hampshire and Vermont for example. Also having ridden a fairly large route from Colorado to Moab last summer there are different too. If you look at where some of these bikes are coming from you can pretty much tell a lot of them are being built for the gravel roads in the designers back yard.....just my 2 cents.

Jeb said...

I ride dirt roads in NY and Vermont and own a 7 Evergreen and an Origin8 CX 700. Both work well for me but neither one is perfect so I'm curious: What would be considered an ideal gravel bike?

Irishtsunami said...

I am not sure there is a perfect bike. I tend to agree with Smithhammer, I think if you define it too strictly it won't work everywhere or fill every need. I move frequently and I find that my needs change from region to region. The bike I bought and rode in the Mid-West (Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri) was not suitable for what I am riding in Florida. Fortunately the bike (a Giant Revolt) will take a wide range of tires, up to 700x50c. The canal roads I am currently riding are as unforgiving in places as some of the Forest Service roads I used to MTB on while growing up in Montana and a 29er tire that is 2 inches is nice.

In this case, I was able to swap out to a larger tire (I could ride a 35-40c no problem in most places) to compensate for the large imbedded chunks of coral that do not move when hit. Many "gravel" bikes will limit out at 700x40c which I think is a mistake and made for a specific market. I think geometry is important but for me as I travel the continent and hopefully the world with my bike, a wide range of tires is more desirable than head tube angle or bottom bracket drop. That was my complaint about the earlier Warbird, it is limited in tire size though it has gotten better. It works well in very specific environments but not all.

My .02 cents, for what it is worth. I just bought a 2017 Fargo and it will become my go to since I really don't foresee riding anything smaller than a 700X45c in the future.