Friday, May 25, 2018

Friday News And Views

Trans Iowa v14 Video Surfaces:

The other day I received a message from my friend Ari who found the following video and posted it on his blog. It is a film concept featuring a rider in need of a "gravel fix" (Played by Nicholas McColloch) and then morphs into a music video and GoPro footage from the event itself. I've posted the YouTube link below here. 

It's a little rough in the beginning, but the event footage is telling. You get some pre-dawn riding from Grinnell, a scene of the group rolling into Hartwick which was CP#1, then some convenince store shots of Casey's in Brooklyn, Iowa and North English, Iowa. Then there is the brief appearance of a barn with a barn quilt, which is the remnants of Hinkletown, Iowa. After this you get a couple views of the chunky gravel in Johnson County, the torn up road North of Kalona, and then the fade into night. Nicholas stopped at CP#2, so there was no footage past the fall of night. 

All the while, Nicholas and his merry pranksters, including Charles Parsons and Trenton Raygor, take shots of whiskey along the way. Enjoy this unique look at a Trans Iowa!

Shimano Shows Heavy Investment Into Gravel Cycling:

Screen shot from Shimano's
I was cruising the "innergoogles" the other day and came across the new Shimano webpage all about gravel cycling. Check it out HERE.

A bit of background is in order here. First off, Shimano is a company that doesn't just "jump into stuff". They study things, do research, and test theories before announcing anything publicly. This is why a lot of people mistakenly thought Shimano was sleeping when SRAM introduced 1X. They were not sleeping, they were doing their homework. So, the "sudden appearance" of a gravel website should tell you that Shimano has been working on gravel specific components and accessories for years. In fact, if you dig into the site, you will find out that this has been in  development for two years already.

Secondly, Shimano sent over a contingent of employees from Japan to ride in the recently completed Almanzo 100. I actually saw a few of them come through Cherry Grove. Shimano also had a few of its new "Gravel Alliance" riders in the event who were supported by a Shimano course support van. (boo! Almanzo was supposedly a self-supported event at one time.) "So what?!", you say? Well, in reality, Shimano doesn't generally do this. That's why this effort to come to Almanzo was a very big deal.

You can bet that Shimano studied the riders, their gear, the needs of riders, and took in a ton of information which is going to get dissected in Japan and end up being stuff you and I can buy. They already are well on their way in terms of developing things if we are getting a "public display" (website presence, rider advocates) of their "gravel focus". Yes folks, this will be a big deal. It will also drive OEM product in the future as well. In fact, this nay be a result of OEM inquiries. Either way, gravel isn't going away, and if you thought there was a lot of product now, just wait.........

Raleigh's Tamland iE Step Over
Electric Gravel Boogaloo:

While it isn't the first e-gravel bike I've heard of, it may be the most refined version of one. Yep......electric gravel mopeds. It's coming  to a race near you, unless some wily promoters don't allow it.

Check it out on Raleigh's site HERE , but if you want the particulars, here they are. Pony up 4700 bucks and get assisted stroke that will take you to a breath taking 28mph maximum and go as far as 50-80 miles on a single charge.

Not specified- Weight. What happens when you are 20 miles out and the battery goes kaput? Maybe the gravel was fresh, causing higher resistance, or maybe you had a 20mph head wind. Well, your ride will really suck now, pedaling that heavy beast to town. Also curious: Do high profile events now have to provide charging stations at checkpoints, or do we get neutral battery support?

Seriously- I really don't care if you want an e-bike anything. But make no mistake- you are not experiencing cycling like I and many others do. Whether that is "good", "bad", or whatever is still up for debate. But what isn't up for debate is that e-cycling isn't the same as riding a human powered vehicle with two wheels. So, my take on this Raleigh is that it isn't in the spirit of cycling, or  gravel cycling in particular, where self-reliance on one's wits and athleticism is one of the tenets that I hold dear. Your mileage may vary.

MCD frame clearance with a Nano 2.1 mounted to an i23mm rim. Image courtesy of Mike Varley
 Getting Excited:

There is going to be a "new bike day" for me this year as I am acquiring a Black Mountain Cycles "Monster Cross Disc", or MCD, for short. It is a design similar to my "Orange Crush" rig, but with a bit different cut to its jib. The frame will have disc brakes instead of rim brakes, of course, and it has a much more severely sloping top tube/shorter seat tube than the original Monster Cross.

The frames are apparently quite popular. Check out the latest from Black Mountain Cycles here.  I am in for a pink one, and I am pretty excited about it too. Of course, when this frame and fork comes in, there are going to be a lot of changes in the Guitar Ted stable. Here's what I envision happening here:
  • The Twin Six Standard Rando is up for sale already. I will be transitioning the original build back onto this bike soon, but if you are interested it is on my Garage Sale Page already at a bargain price. 
  • I'm likely going to retire the Tamland. It looks as though gravel cycling is going all in on through axles and I need to swap the wheel fleet over to that direction. The frame is getting pretty beat up, so after 4 years of abuses it is time to hang it up on the wall. It is never going to get sold, as this represents a design I had an influence on, so I think I'd better keep it around. The "official" retirement ride will happen later this year. 
  • The Orange Crush will get made into a single speed. I set this bike up that way at the very first and I loved having a single speed gravel rig. The rim brake fleet of wheels will get SS'ed and be exclusively used on this bike with the possibility of one wheel set getting sold or used on a completely different bike. 
  • There may be a wheel set for sale or two.

Hey! It's Memorial Day Weekend! Stay safe and get out and ride those bicycles!


Unknown said...

There's a lot of e-bike hate going around but let's not forget who the real enemy is... e-skateboards.

Chilly Willy said...

You're being an old curmudgeon.
"But make no mistake- you are not experiencing cycling like I and many others do."
Would I ride an e-bike on a gravel ride? Hell no. But as a commuter option it's fantastic. I currently commute to work twice a week on a bike. I've done it more and less in the past. And for a while, I did it on an e-bike. Why? Because I needed to ride a longer distance that wasn't practical for me to do without help. And you know what? The experience is pretty much exactly the same. You pedal. You enjoy the world around you. You dodge cars. You sweat. All those things are the same. The motor just opens up more opportunities to do it.
I just convinced my coworker to buy an e-bike for commuting. He has a 20+ mile commute and he was jealous of my 12 mile commute that I bike. So he got an e-bike. And now he's pedaling in to work instead of driving. He's getting something that he couldn't have without the e-bike.
So I really think you need to revisit your feelings about e-bikes. They aren't bikes. Not exactly. But they aren't 4-wheeled coffins either. They're something different. But they're something a lot more in the spirit of a bicycle than they are in the spirit of a motor vehicle.

BluesDawg said...

Great news about Shimano taking such interest in gravel. I hope they are getting input from more than just the strong racing crowd so they will understand the need for smaller double chainrings.

Guitar Ted said...

!@Erik Nelson- Sorry, not convinced you would be sweating more, have a increased heart rate, and gain more benefits from actually pedaling a standard bike when you ride an e-bike. It isn't the "same" experience. It can't be, because you are being "assisted".

Is it right or wrong? I'm not going to argue with anyone about that. That doesn't matter to me. What is not defensible is that e-biking is the same as non-e-biking. The mere fact that you get assistance makes it so. No convincing me otherwise.

Chilly Willy said...

If I pedal for an hour with my heart rate at 145bpm I get a workout. Whether I do it on my Cross-Check and go 14 miles, or do it on a Raleigh e-Tamland and go 22 miles, does it really matter? My body will have still done the same amount of work in the same position and I will still have gotten to ride my bike. I've experienced both (Not on the Raleigh, but on an e-bike). It feels the same to me. You should try it.
I will admit that from an emotional point of view I prefer the non-assisted ride. So you are certainly right in that it isn't and can't be exactly the same.

Guitar Ted said...

@Erik Nelson- You state that-"So you are certainly right in that it isn't and can't be exactly the same."

Thank you.

You see, I am not saying it isn't fun, a good or bad thing, or trying to offend you because your choice is to do whatever- I'm just saying that there is no possible way the experience can be the same. You are assisted or you aren't It's pretty black & white.

Barturtle said...

Tune up the Tamland and hang it one the wall to break out for a future Tamland Reunion Ride.

Pete said...

I work in education and for many years Special Education. My view on e-bikes is a bit different because of this experience. I've spent much of my time advocating for specific accommodations for students in order to level the playing field. In some cases students do get overly accommodated and thus their playing field becomes unequal in their favor. With E-bikes some will take advantage and use them for Strava acclaim or get an edge on rides/races without having to fully apply themselves...and that's a bummer. The positive side is I've seen many people of various ages and/or physical abilities use E-bikes to access the bliss of gliding along on two wheels or enjoy previously inaccessible (to them) terrain who otherwise wouldn't be able to. In this scenario I'd say that's a win.

Guitar Ted said...

@Pete Vanderlinden- Like I said..... I am not against e-bikes for those that it makes sense for. Please understand what I am saying is that it isn't the same experience as riding a normal bike.

That's all.

blooddoc23 said...

I see these guys riding around town on these little moped things with pedals, smokin' cigarettes.

Unknown said...


It looks like the 'rough draft' of the Trans Iowa recap made it into the wild! Here's a version with an improved audio track:

Your race meant more than you realize to a lot of people!

Nick McCulloch