Friday, July 20, 2018

Friday News And Views

A map showing the long range plans for the state's bicycle trail network
Honorable Mention: 

It was pointed out to me by a friend on social media yesterday that the Iowa Department of Transportation's Long Range Plan for Bicycling and Pedestrians had a thinly veiled nod to Trans Iowa in it. Here is the particular paragraph in which TI was hinted at:

Unpaved road network
– Iowa has an extensive network of unpaved roads—gravel or earthen—totaling approximately 73,000 miles across the state. Many of these roads are classified as “Level B” roads by the counties, which mean they receive a very low level of maintenance and are used on an “at your own risk” basis. Iowa’s unpaved road network provides an opportunity for gravel road bicycling, a small yet growing form of bicycle riding and racing. This sport could encourage and support tourism and related economic development opportunities. A number of gravel road races and rides have occurred over the last few years and many have originated in Grinnell, which has become the de facto center of gravel road bicycling in Iowa


(Italics added for emphasis)

So, that was kind of neat. Trans Iowa, and Guitar Ted have been subjects of books, an Emmy winning documentary, has been mentioned by news and periodicals, and has been the cover story on a couple of well known cycling publications. Now it is (kind of) a part of a government report! But all that aside, I just hope that gravel cycling in Iowa stays strong and gets even more popular. 

 Bad Weather
The courthouse in Marshalltown seconds before the bell tower was ripped off. Image courtesy of KCCI TV
Tornadoes are a thing here in the Mid-West and you never know when, or if, you will be next in line to get hit. Thursday was a particulary bad day as tornadoes swept through central Iowa hitting the towns of Marshalltown, Pella, and Bondurant, Iowa along with several sightings of funnel clouds elsewhere. 


What is crazy about yesterday's storms is that they destroyed some significant businesses and damaged some important buildings. The famous historic Marshall County Courthouse got damaged, the big Pella manufacturing business, Vermeer was heavily damaged. Marshalltown's hospital was disabled and all patients had to be transferred. Another big manufacturing plant in Marshalltown was also heavily damaged. Tornadoes are very random, so having so many important structures damaged is very odd indeed. 

My thoughts are with all those affected. 

 Feedback From " Streets of Danger"-

The post the other day about how our media covers the issues surrounding cyclists safety and all brought a lot of sympathetic comments to the issue, but there were a couple that ran far deeper. I thought it was enlightening, so I thought I'd share a bit more concerning that. 

If you don't know what I am speaking of, here is that post's link. Please go back and get caught up so the rest makes sense here....

Okay, so what I got out of some of the feedback was that many of you recognized that this is really a cultural issue. This whole bicyclists getting struck down dead thing is basically a symptom of deeper issues the culture has with how our lives, especially in the US, are centered around cars. One of the things going around now is the ridiculous amount of car parking we give space for in our urban areas. That is one example of how deeply we went in for cars and how our lives are centered around these plastic, rubber, and metal cages. 

It's a really complex ship that will not get turned around easily. I think sometimes we get overwhelmed by the complexity and enormity of these issues, but in reality, all we can do is change small things now and leave it to future generations to finish up. This isn't an issue that happened overnight and it won't get solved in a week, next month, next year, or in the next decade, most likely. 
 
From Twitter yesterday. You knew it was going to happen again someday.....


  Tour Fans get Punchy, Act Like Nincompoops:

When I used to watch the Tour I was always amazed that the organizers allowed crowds to interact with the riders so closely. Obvious issues with this policy have caused troubles going way back. Most famous being the Eddy Merckx punch in 1975 and then Lance Armstrong getting taken down by an errant musette bag wielded by a fan. Now we have a rider taken out of the race due to fan interaction, another punching incident, and people spitting (again) at riders they don't like. 

The women are clamoring for their own version of the Tour. Maybe we should cancel next year's doper infested, boorish fan attended men's edition and start all over again with the women's version of the TDF. It has to be better than this circus side show. At least from what I am hearing. It's hard to ecape this stuff when you follow so many cyclists and industry folk on social media. 

Okay, so that's that for this week. I'll have some last minute updating on the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational for the 28th, and an update on the pMCD build, all coming next week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Introducing The pMCD!

The "pMCD", a Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross Disc frame and fork.
I think it's been seven years ago now that I got my first Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross frame and fork. I chose it over some other choices at the time because it was the closest thing I could find to what I thought a gravel bike should be. Turns out that it did that job pretty well. So well that many other Monster Cross bikes were hitting the gravel roads with Black Mountain Cycles livery on the down tube. You know, I don't think Mike Varley of BMC, or anyone, saw that coming!

Now fast forward seven years and here I have received my second Black Mountain Cycles frame and fork. The main difference here is that this bike will have disc brakes and through axles. There are some other subtle changes, which I will get around to sharing as well. Some now, some later.

Mike Varley had hinted for years that a disc version might become available. You never know with smaller brands if hinted at plans will ever come true, so since this one has, I wanted to say, "Thanks Mike!" I know these projects are never easy, so I appreciate this.

Mike actually had e-mailed me about Trans Iowa prizing earlier this year, (BMC sponsored T.I.v14 with a frame/fork for the "Grittiest Ride" prize), and during those discussions at some point he e-mailed to let me know pink was a color for the new MCD frame/forks which were about to be announced for sale. I put my name in the line for a pink one then and there.

The fork is all new and features rack & fender mounts
The color pink for a bicycle doesn't seem like a good thing upon first thought, but after seeing a few pink bicycles and especially after seeing Nick Legan's pink BMC Monster Cross at the Dirty Kanza a few years ago, I decided I had to have a pink bicycle someday. I knew I was going to snag a disc Monster Cross whenever Mike decided to release one, and so the combination of pink and disc was a no-brainer.

The frame and fork arrived a day early even! So, I had some time to take a few beauty shots and then it was down into the Lab for the building process. No.........it isn't done yet. I had a couple of parts coming in today that were needed first, but in a surprise, I found out my build is taking a turn from original plans. Stay tuned for that twist.........

That means that I likely won't have this built until this weekend. Maybe early next week. There already have been a few changes to the original plan, even without the aforementioned "plot twist". In searching around for the bars and the Redshift Sports Shock Stop stem I was planning on putting on here, I found that my Ultegra 11spd levers were already mounted to the bars. Hmm........I thought I sent them away on a sale or used them on something, or.... Oh well! Here they were, all ready to cable up, so why not! Actually, those levers, the TRP Spyre brakes, the front derailleur, and the rear derailleur were off my Tamland originally.

Then I found out my 32mm CroMag purple anodized seat collar needed to be a 30mm one. Doh! So, I will be using the black one that came with the bike for now. I'll have to source a new purple collar later. There is one other purple bit to consider, but that should be here now and I'll have an update next week where I will tell you about that and the news I got today.

So, until then this will be on hold and I will be doing some minor stuff like mounting tires and what not until these new things come to pass. Stay tuned.......

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Streets Of Danger


Read the article HERE
Perusing Twitter yesterday I came across a Tweet by the Kansas Cyclist about how dangerous it is to commute by bicycle in Iowa. I guess my city of Waterloo came in 7th on the list of the Top Ten Worst.

My response is seen in the image of my Tweet to the left there. I guess what I was trying to portray is that- yes- commuting by bicycle here is dangerous, but it is everywhere. 

Supposedly there was a study and all, but look, when it comes down to it, things are just as bad or worse most everywhere in the USA. I mean, Waterloo, Iowa isn't that great to ride around in but we aren't especially bad. Distracted drivers are everywhere and they do not discriminate in who they mow down by region, state, or town.

And that's the thing, really. Distraction. That's the problem. Three foot passing laws and whole lane passing laws are fine, but who cares if those laws exist if people are distracted and don't see what they are hitting. I mean, that is something that is happening in Waterloo (just last week, as a matter of fact), and all over the nation. The problem isn't that we don't have laws and bicycle lanes, or that we do have those things. The problem is that people are distracted.

Period.

Fix that, and you will have solved the problem without the other stuff. Yeah, so Waterloo is a bad place to ride a bicycle. Big whoop. Nothing new about that and nothing unique about it either. Articles like this don't help anyone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

pMCD Update: Getting Closer

The parts are accumulating on the desk at Guitar Ted Headquarters
The new rig from Black Mountain Cycles is very near to the Guitar Ted Headquarters now. I have a few more items coming yet, but things should come together very quickly once the frame and fork get here.

This has been an interesting purchase. Mike Varley has been very transparent throughout the process. He showed production images, provided shipping information, and even provided a link to follow the boat the frame and fork were in. Then he provided a FedEx tracking number with which I have been able to track the progress of the frame's travels with. Never before have I been able to follow the progress of a mass produced frame and fork like this. It's similar to how some custom builders treat their customers. The only thing better would have been if I had images of the frames being made. We probably could have had that as well.

The point is, this has been an engaging process and maybe it is a lesson for bigger companies. The "dot watching" thing for racing is a well known phenomena, but it works for bigger purchases as well which require lots of hand labor and are sourced from a far away land I'll likely never see. It makes things more "real", if that makes any sense, and I feel a more personal connection to this frame and fork than I did with my first Black Mountain Cycles purchase.

Well......anyway...... Now the thing is almost here. I have nearly very part to build it up which has drained my resources down to almost nil, but I'll have just enough gas to get 'er done. I also wanted to finally name this build/bike. Usually I will go with "Project......" something or another, but that is getting old. It is also too obvious to use "Pink" something or another, but I wanted to give a nod to the color. So, I decided "pMCD" will do. "Pink Monster Cross Disc", obviously, and it is what it is. Besides, "pee-em-cee-dee" rolls off the tongue nicely.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Truncated

Broken parts........Gah!
Well, that wasn't the weekend I was looking for! (Apologies to "Star Wars") Yeah, the recon of the Guitar Ted Death Ride course didn't happen. That was the first bummer. Of course, the wet weather we had on Friday and into Saturday pretty much made that impossible. Then I got caught up doing things with the family instead, which isn't bad. Not at all, that was good.

So, I figured Sunday might be better. Given that it is Summer and all, the heat of the day and whatever winds we may have gotten might be enough to dry out the dirt to the point I might be able to get through. I chose a piece of the beginning of the route to check out and got going in the afternoon. It wasn't a bad day, really. Not too hot and there was zero wind. That was kind of weird. But then again, we are getting into the "dog days" of Summer when it can be this way.

Things were just starting out and going well until I noticed the water bottle on the right fork leg was bouncing around violently. I stopped to find out that I had finally experienced what many others have with their Salsa Cycles Nickless cages- a break. Dang it! It broke right at the weld at the base by the lower bolt, like I have heard most of these do when they break. Well, I thought about it and decided I needed to carry that bottle in my jersey pocket and leave the cage on there. Without any weight in it, I figured it would be able to ride things out until I got back to the house.

They say we are the Tall Corn State. There might be something to that. 
I remounted and started back up the road. Then I saw it. That weird wobble in a tire that signals imminent death of the casing.......well, at some near future point. I wasn't sure I was seeing it right, so I kept going and watched it to see if it would be getting worse. I went about two more miles before I was certain I was seeing something. I decided to stop at a turning point which would take me even further away from town and make a call.

When I stopped it was evident that the casing was coming apart and the tire wasn't going to live a lot longer.How much further could I get? Well, one choice was to just take a chance that it would hold up and I'd get the ride in. Or.......it would blow out on a descent at 30+ mph, I'd cartwheel into the ditch, and well..........yeah. It might not be quite that dramatic, but I didn't want to find out. I made the turn back into town. Truncated rides suck, but catastrophic tire failures suck worse.

I made it back just fine and the tire will be removed and disposed of. But I was bummed that I didn't get out more than I did. At least I got out to pedal some!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Touring Series: Rained, Over, And Out

 

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
 Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

  As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant. I will also sprinkle in any modern images of places we visited when applicable and when I can find images that convey the same look as 1995.


We join the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" on its seventh day out from the start as they are held up by rain in Manistique, Michigan.........
_____________________________________________________________________

It wasn't too long before noon, and the rain was steadily falling. Each passing minute was a moment slipping away that was painfully palpable. The whole point of the tour had been to reach Canada, but now, so tantalizingly close and yet so far away, we all were increasingly aware that it was over. We were going to have to throw in the towel, and it wasn't anyone's fault. Not Steve's for Steven's Point, not for having stopped so many times, not for lack of effort. It was what it was.

We sat there and waited, and even when it did clear up, we all knew it was pointless to go on. Steve called his girlfriend, Troy made a phone call. We sat around waiting to find out where and when we would be picked up. I got something to eat and munched it quietly outside. Steve suddenly perked up and pointed out a bumper sticker on a pick up truck. "Shoot 'em all! Let God sort 'em out" it proclaimed. It was a bit of comic relief that somehow fit the moment and lightened the mood.

Troy came out and between he and Steve they figured out that there was a State Park just a bit back west out of Manistique up a black top road. We finally talked it over and decided to cash it in and spend the night there. As we rolled up the road, down a darkened tunnel through tall pine trees, I could sense the release of tension. Troy and Steve were joking and carrying on. It was a relief not to have a deadline anymore. We passed a rustic country store about a half mile from the park entrance that was selling beer. We made a mental note of that for later!

As we pulled in to Indian Lake State Park, we were dismayed to see that it was packed. We rolled up behind a couple of cars waiting to check in at the Ranger's Station and we thought about a possible Plan B in case we were turned away. As we reached the drive up window, (Ride up window?) we were met with wide eyes by a female park official. She stated the obvious by saying the Park was full, but then she said, "...but we will have to find you a place. Let's see what I can do." I said, "What?...." She replied, "Oh yeah, it's Michigan State law that if a hiker or cyclist asks for a camping spot in any State Park, we have to find them room." So, she looked and found that a spot had been unclaimed that was reserved. It was now ours. It happened to be directly across from the shower house!

We secured our spot. It was windy, with hurrying clouds from the north right off the lake. We set up our tents and bugged out back to that country store. Troy put two and a half cases of canned beer on the rack of his Voyager. I'm sure that exceeded his racks capacity! It was funny how Troy could wiggle the front half of his bike but the back half wouldn't move due to all the weight of the beer.

Once back at the campgrounds we drank lots of beer, laughed, played Frisbee, and kicked back for a bit. It was a lot of fun, and honestly, we should have done more of that maybe. Whatever......... The wind was wicked off the lake, and Steve's tent got zapped, so he moved his stuff in with me for the last night. We sat around and talked into the darkness, but all good things come to an end, and somewhere in an alcoholic haze I zipped my self into my sack and passed out breathing in the cold night air laced with the scent of pine trees.

That was it for the tour. But we still had to get home. The ride back would be an all day slog in Steve's girlfriends Blazer. Shouldn't be a big deal, and I was anxious to finally get back home.
____________________________________________________________________________
Yeah........kind of anti-climatic, eh? Well, we came up 120 miles short of our goal, so that is why we weren't ashamed. Yeah, we could have made it sans a rainy day mid-week, and we knew that. (I will delve into more about the way we strategized and what was good and bad about that in a separate post.)
For the time being I wanted to focus on the dichotomy between the arrival in Manistique and leaving for Indian Lake State Park. The morning was all "speed touring", as it had been most of the week. The last hours were more like what people normally think of when touring. Fun, free, and careless. Oh, we had our moments, for sure, during the week, but the aftermath of not getting our goal was so liberating it was uncanny. 
In fact, I didn't want it to end, but I was also ready for a trip back home to "normal" life. It was odd. Part of me was never the same after that week. I kind of knew this as the evening wore on at Indian Lake. I remember watching the white caps crashing into the shore and thinking about how I'd had such an adventure and that, sadly, it was over. The sight of those wind driven waves still can be seen in my mind's eye.......

Next week: In A Blazer Of Glory

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Minus Ten Review - 28

The Blackbuck, day lilies, and a muddy Cedar River
Ten years ago this week I was busy getting together the third Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. The plan was modified in the last days leading up to this one so that I could accommodate a special guest, Jason Boucher, then the head honch of Salsa Cycles. I've mentioned a few times here why this GTDRI was a special one, but since that will come out soon enough, you'll just have to wait for the full story.

Here is a little tidbit of info I posted about the GTDRI back in '08:

"Ride Intent: I sometimes wish I hadn't chosen the name I did for this ride. It has been a source of confusion and misunderstanding from the outset. Some of you got it right away though, so I know that not everyone falls into this category. Here's the two things most commonly misconstrued concerning GTDRI.

#1 It's not a race, it's not a "group ride" (using that term to describe the competitive nature generally found on such rides), and it's not a training ride. Nope! It's not any of those things at all. It's something else altogether. So, if your expectations are that we are racing, competitive, or even going to go at it at a training pace, you are barking up the wrong tree.

#2: It's open to anyone not interested in racing or training. (In the strictest sense of those terms) It's open to anyone that just wants to go on a long ride that happens to be tough. You don't necessarily need an "invite", even though I've used the term in the name. It was done tongue in cheek. It's kind of a joke, okay. So please, if you are cool with long rides more for fun than anything else, check us out."

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday News And Views

GTDRI Recon:

So, this ride is using the same 104 mile route as last year. I hope to get out and cruise some of it this weekend. I'm not too worried about road issues, but then again, with 25 miles of dirt roads, you never know what might be decommissioned or be truncated due to a short bridge being out, or the like.

That's the funny thing about Iowa rural roads. They never change, until they do, and then right when you have a mind to ride them. Take "O Ave" pictured here for instance. When I reconned it a couple of weeks out from the '17 running of the GTDRI it was a grassy, barely there two track which had rustic airs and was almost mountain bike-ish. Then, when we rode it, it had been graded out and looked like any other Iowa gravel road, with the exception of the gravel. Weird!

At any rate, I hope to get out there, if only just for the ride. I don't know though, they are predicting thunderstorms for Saturday and the percentages are high right now for that to happen. Of course, if it rains the dirt is a no-go, even if it is not raining when I try to ride. So, if it rains, I will do something else.

That's also a concern regarding the ride, so I'll reiterate- If it rains, the ride likely will be cancelled. If it rains before or during the ride, there will be major modifications to the route and plan. Just in case you are coming to the GTDRI, you'll need to be flexible. Of course, you can always ask for your entry fee back and see where that gets you!

Compass Antelope Hill tires. Still sittin on these yet.
Hesitant On The Compass:

I got these Compass tires in almost a month ago now and I haven't done a thing with them. I was pretty excited about trying them out, because I'd heard good things and , well........I'd been getting bugged to try them by folks for years now. 

So, I actually bought a set. Then about that time I was ready to set them up tubeless my good buddy MG was setting another model of Compass Tires up tubeless and was having the worst time ever getting it done.

Now, let's put this out there up front: MG managed to get them to behave eventually. I think it took him several days and tons of sealant to finally come out on the winning end of things. But here's the thing- MG is a veritable master at setting things up tubeless and if he was having that much trouble, well........

I'll be completely honest here- I am not at all interested in driving myself crazy over these tires setting them up tubeless. That's not necessary in 2018. You shouldn't have to go through any hoops at all- none- to set up a tire tubeless now. Ten years ago? Sure. I went through all sorts of hoops to set up tires back then, but I don't care if these are the best riding tires in the Universe, it isn't how it should be now. I really don't want to find out either.

I know.....I know! You Compass freaks are going to all say it is worth it, you've never had any trouble, yada, yada, yada. Even MG says they ride great. But I know MG and like I say, if it was such a hassle for him, I'm in no hurry to replicate those findings myself. I've got better things to do with my time, in my opinion. But, I did purchase them, so I still have a slight reason to give it a go. That said, the wind is completely gone out of my sails for doing these tires up, and I think I'll be letting that sit there for a while longer before I make a final decision.  

Could be that you'll see them on my Garage Sale page soon. Maybe.

 The Gravel Family Strikes Again:

I'm sure many of you recall last month when my truck let me down and I missed the Solstice 100, the gravel grinder near Lincoln, Nebraska. Well, late last week I got a package in the mail with a t-shirt and a note from Joe Bilesbach, the RD of the event.

It was a really nice gesture on his part to do this, which he did not have to do. RD's have enough crap to deal with, (ask me how I know), and handing out free t-shirts to no-shows is not very high on the to-do list. But still, here is a really great example of how most of us in the scene look out for each other. I'm sure Joe was a bit bummed about my not making it, (he did send a t-shirt, after all) and I got a nice reminder that people really do care.

So, a public thank you to Joe. I appreciate the gesture very much and I will wear the t-shirt with pride. Oh, and another thing, Joe didn't ask me to plug his event, but.....I hear the event is pretty cool too, so check it out if you can next season.

That's it for this edition of FN&V. Have a great weekend and ride those bicycles. 


Thursday, July 12, 2018

There Is Only So Much Money To Go Around

The industry is going ga-ga for these electric motorcycles with pedals.
Eurobike just happened again.

I know, right? You'd never had known that except for maybe that goofy driveshaft drivetrain that's been making the rounds lately. (That was debuted at Eurobike, but it could have been anywhere.)

I called it "Euro-snooze" last year, because the whole deal was about e-mtbs, and I guess this year it was even worse. One person commented on an industry media site that the show felt more like a "....a German e-bike dealer show with some international presence" than a traditional Eurobike.  

Now, we can debate all day about the viability of this developing dominance of e-bikes in the industry, or if they should or should not be allowed. That's a never ending debate. One thing many are not realizing though is that all the focus on attaching motors to anything you can pedal is draining the reserves of companies and little is left for the development of "traditional" bicycles. If you wonder why it is that little to no news is coming out in your bicycle feeds on social and traditional media about new stuff at Eurobike, this is the big reason why. 

Innovation costs money. The bicycle industry, down in sales and revenues for a long time now, cannot just conjure up the funds to do new projects without compromising other aspects of the business.  We've seen this recently in the past with another marketing driven saga involving 27.5" wheels.

27.5"er (L) and a 29"er (R). Image by Grannygear
Back about six years ago or so the industry decided that the sagging sales of 26" wheeled 5 to six inch travel full suspension bikes was in need of a make-over, and that was centered around 650B sized wheels dubbed "27.5"ers" by the industry. NOTE- No one was asking for these bikes to be changed. There had been examples of long traveled 650B bikes for several years prior, but the groundswell just wasn't there. That didn't matter, because changing wheel size meant that your old, tired, long travel 26"er wasn't going to get replaced by another 26"er, it was going to be the shiny, new wheel size. This also was a big part of revitalizing long traveled bikes to others as well. Subsequently, money poured into the development and manufacturing of bikes based around this "new" wheel size. 

I remember 2012-2014 well as I was editor of "Twenty Nine Inches". New product intros suddenly dried up for big wheelers. 29" stuff was in a holding pattern as monies were diverted to fast-tracking new 650B long travel "enduro" bikes to market. Ad revenue for the site plummeted, (not that we ever had much more than enough to keep the site alive). Subsequently, I believe, the development of 650B and the results of a sagging industry overall stunted the development of good, long travel 29"ers. It took a few years for everything to settle back down and then we saw long travel 29"ers take off. 

E-bikes require a lot of specialized frame design, heavier duty wheels, special components in the drive train, and the brakes are developing for these bikes to be more powerful and reliable. Note- all of these developments are also heavier.  Therefore they are not cross-pollinated into any other line of bicycles. So the dollars that are being sunk into these e-bikes are not helping your other lines. They are taking away from them. 

So, don't expect a lot of new innovations in the coming years, unless your bicycle has a motor and battery attached to it!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Pink MCD Update: Wolf Tooth Head Set

The purple Wolf Tooth head set is in my grasp now waiting for the Pink MCD
The parts are coming in now and soon the frame and fork will also be arriving. It's gonna be a scene when it gets here! The latest bit to hit my grimy paws is a Wolf Tooth 1 1/8th purple head set.

My image here of it makes it look more magenta-ish, but indoors it looks more grape-ish. It has a very deep, rich color to it which should play well off the pink of the frame. I'm pleased with it. The Wolf Tooth head set I tested for RidingGravel.com is a fine example of what I can expect here as it has been flawless so far.

Purple against the pink is the color splash I have chosen and I thought there should be another bit of purple somewhere on the bike. I had considered Paul Components Klamper brakes in the "special limited edition" purple, but there are two reasons those are out. One- they are not going to be shipping the purple stuff they get orders for now until August sometime, which is too late for my plans. Second, and more importantly, they are just too expensive for me. Wait........there is a third reason. I have perfectly good TRP Spyre brakes calipers just sitting down in the Lab. Case closed!

But I still wanted something else purple, and I finally figured it out. A CroMag purple seat collar to replace the stock BMC one that is black. That's on its way now. I think those two splashes of color will do it. I was looking for a purple outboard bearing bottom bracket that wasn't "Chris King" expensive and there wasn't anything out there better than the $75.00 MSRP Wheels Manufacturing angular contact bearing bottom bracket, which is made in the USA. The cups are anodized gray. Meh! Whatever. They will be covered in dust soon enough anyway and I wanted to test their bottom brackets for my own satisfaction. So, that is also on the way.

So, beyond cable housings, cables, crimp ons, and maybe some other small details, I will have everything here to build the Pink MCD. I need to get a cassette, probably. But that won't be hard to find. I can probably pick up something that will work from the shop. So, barring any weird delays in getting the frame and fork, I should be good to go and a new rig should be under me for Gravel Worlds, if not before.

Stay tuned.......

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

News Season:Surly Redesigned The Ice Cream Truck

The sparkly green redesigned Ice Cream Truck- Image courtesy of Surly Bikes
Well, it is that time again. Eurobike is going on and all the hoopla surrounding the Tour de France is as well, so news about new bikes is coming out all over.

I don't think we will be seeing anything radically different coming out. But this bike from Surly......well, I was kind of surprised by a few things here. 

Obviously I'm talking about a fat bike here, and the Ice Cream Truck in particular. But let's take a trip back three model years ago, (so.....Summer 2014, really), and take a quick look at the Blackborow from Salsa Cycles. That bike introduced the world to an aluminum bike that could swallow 5.1" X 26" fat bike tires on 100mm rims, had a 440mm chain stay length, a bent seat tube, a slackish head angle, and lowered bottom bracket. It also featured the lowest stand over clearance of any fat bike from QBP brands ever, so far.

I bring that old, (four year old, as a matter of fact), info up because this Surly bike is now basically a steel equivalent of the Blackborow. The old ICT was not quite as nimble and, well, shreddy, as the Blackborow and that was maybe okay. It also couldn't handle the Vee Tire 2XL tires which were slightly over 5" wide when mounted on 100mm rims. The Blackborow could do that. But now the new ICT's numbers mirror those of the old Blackborow, which doesn't exist anymore, and I think this is a good thing.

My Blackborow DS overlooking the Cedar River
 The missing Blackborow left a big hole in QBP's fat bike arsenal. (That new long tailed thing doesn't count) The short chain stays married to big honking tires is an eye opener for the snow conditions we get here and for the muddy trails that sometimes happen along the rivers around here. My Blackborow DS kills it in looser snow, powdery crap, and busts trail better than anything I've tried, plus I can easily pop the front end up and over things anytime. 

Being able to hover over the rear tire for ultimate driving traction while unweighting the front wheel is about the only way I can traverse my commute in Winter sometimes. A long tailed doohickey wasn't going to cut it. Plus, I already have a longer wheel based fat bike for times when punching through crust is an issue. The Blackborow also had the best tire clearances, better than the Carbon Mukluk, and better than the old ICT. But now the new ICT is here and I would hazard a guess that it would be one of the better Winter fat bikes around here that you can get soon. (August, they are saying.)

So, the other interesting thing is that Surly is saying this bike can handle 26 X 5.1" tires on 100mm rims. The thing is, they don't make a tire that big. Will they? Are they coming out soon? I've asked this before, and I still believe that Surly has something up their sleeve when it comes to the monster truck sized rubber. And then there is the 26" part of that equation. I was, frankly, kind of shocked Surly didn't use this new design as a way to introduce a 27.5 X 4.5" fat bike tire. They do mention that the new ICT can handle that though........ Hmm.........

Terrene Tires "Johnny 5", which is....five inches wide!
Which leads me to the news about the Terrene "Johnny 5" fat bike tire. Terrene claims this is really five full inches wide, and a claim I saw said 1700 grams, which would be right in the pocket for a tubeless ready, big lugged tire like this.

Stud pockets are there which makes this tire a bit more attractive for some, but to be honest, unless the roadway is entirely glare ice, (rare),I wouldn't need studs for 5" tires. Maybe others will find that they need the extra traction, so there ya go. Stud pockets for you.

The long, laterally placed side/edge knobs are appealing to me. That's the one area where a front tire needs stability in the powder and even in slimy mud. It could be the difference between washing out or forward progress.

Now, if they roll well, which is asking a lot here, I would totally move up to these tires. Mostly because of the width and tubelessness. Then I would need tubeless, 100mm wide rims, and that means new hubs, and......money, money, money. I may just live with what I have for now. It works and I don't need a bike like that very often. 

The bike I could use wouldn't take tires this big, but the story about that can wait. This is about "news" on 2019 stuff. I'll have more about why we won't see much innovation in bicycles for next year in my next post on new stuff for 2019. 


Monday, July 09, 2018

Shimano Debuts New Flared Drop Bars Under PRO Brand

The PRO Discovery Series "Jumbo Flare" Bar
Shimano is arguably one of the biggest cycling companies in existence. Well.......cycling is a small part of what they do, actually. The fishing side is bigger and they do some other stuff as well. But the point is, Shimano is a major player. They do not do things "quickly" or without a lot of consideration.

Taking that into mind along with the fact that Shimano has their own component/accessory brand dubbed "PRO", this new introduction of handlebars and bike packing bags announced over the weekend is very interesting.

It says to me that Shimano feels that the future, (or at least one of the plausible futures) of cycling is in the adventure/all-road category. It has not taken all of this stuff going on with gravel cycling here lightly. For instance, their press release says, "A coupling of the latest technology from its range of high-performance road and mountain bike components and rider and category research, PRO introduces its first performance product range for gravel and adventure riding, including flared handlebars, bags,and dropper seat posts."

It's probably going to be seen as "marketing BS" by many of you, but I have had some limited contact with actual Shimano employees based both here and in Japan, and let me tell you, they are serious about what they do. I've no doubt this gravel thing they are embarking on is serious. Shimano brought over several employees from Japan recently to participate and observe at the Almanzo 100. Shimano even has a gravel road riding segment on their website now. It isn't there just to "hop on the bandwagon" either. These handle bars and the shoes I just got, and the Ultegra clutch style derailleur are all part of something bigger here. I think we're just seeing the beginnings of what Shimano has in mind. 

The PRO Discovery Medium Flare
So, about the bars. The Discovery series has a Jumbo Flare at 30° flare and a wight of 280 grams in aluminum. It comes in a 42cm and 44cm size only (No 46cm?!) The Medium Flare has 12° of flare, weighs in at a claimed 270 grams, and comes in 40cm, 42cm, and 44cm.

There was no prices or ETA on availability given in the press release I got.

The mind immediately goes to Salsa Cycle's offerings in this category when you look at these bars. Obviously the Medium Flare most closely aligns with the Cowbell and the Jumbo Flare with the Cowchipper. These could be good alternatives to Salsa's offerings if they are easier to get than Salsa's products are at times.

Okay, so there are bags and a dropper seat post. Those do not impress me, in terms of the bigger picture, as much as the handle bars do. Handle bars require tooling and a lot of investment. Shimano PRO already makes a dropper post. Bags are not that big a deal to have made. But making a handle bar, that's an investment that shows a certain level of commitment to gravel/all-road bikes that isn't easy to ignore.

Of course, the bars themselves are not all that innovative, but it shows that Shimano has made a choice to be a player in this niche. As a first effort, they look to be quite serviceable, although derivative, and uninspired. But I don't think that is the point we should be making note of here.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Touring Series: Mutiny!



A Guitar Ted Productions Series
 Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

  As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant. I will also sprinkle in any modern images of places we visited when applicable and when I can find images that convey the same look as 1995. 

__________________________________________________________________________________

We join the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" on its seventh day out from the start in Escanaba, Michigan.........

We awoke the next morning chilly and refreshed. Much discussion was had just before going to sleep the night before and now again in the morning about just how we were going to get to Canada from here and still get home in time for work on Monday morning. Various theories were put forth, but the two main thoughts were (A) we weren't going to make it, so let's just see where we end up, and (B) we were going as far as we could today, which would leave a short jaunt into Sault Ste. Marie where we would have Steve's girlfriend pick us up. I wasn't quite sure just what would happen, but "B" sounded feasible, and I had never been to Canada, so I was game for it. Steve was of the mind that we should just throttle back and cruise to wherever that day, and then have his gal pick us up in the morning. In the end, Troy's will would carry the day, as far as the decision on what to do for our ride.

Well, that meant one thing: Go like the wind with minimal stops. So the morning out of Escanaba was all a hurry, going out to hook up with a big four lane highway heading northwards around an inlet on the north shore. Then it was straight east for a piece. The weather was sunny, with a bit of a head wind and hurrying cumulus clouds overhead. The terrain became that of rolling hills with long, gradual approaches and long gradual descents. Coming out of town, I found myself chasing down Troy in second wheel with Steve lagging behind.

We had to regroup at the turn off onto the big highway. It was a great road in that the shoulder was about another lane wide. We could all ride abreast of each other and still not come close to being in traffic. Steve got caught up with us and with some encouragement from Troy, we all got going again. The mood was jovial now, even though it was pressing on us to get going. On each gradual climb, I found myself sticking to Troy's rear wheel and Steve would fall behind. Strange.....Steve was riding like I had been! Troy congratulated me on my riding and went drifting back to pull Steve back on. I just kept up the pace until finally Troy would get Steve drafted back on to our wheels.

This lasted until we got back in contact with the lake again just past the turn off to Isabella, which Troy reminded us was the name of a Hendrix tune. Hmm........okay! At any rate, we had to stop for a bit. It was around this point in the day that we all took note of how every R.V. had bicycles haphazardly attached to them. It was as if they were using Velcro to just slap the bicycles on the vehicle any which way they could. After a while Troy was getting anxious about the stop, so we took off again. Troy was also losing his patience with Steve's seemingly lackadaisical riding. Troy was pushing the pace as hard as he could, trying to make as many miles as we could get to reach the goal. We didn't get a whole lot further up the road before Steve mutinied. He had been pushed too far, too hard, and announced he was stopping to rest, whether we did or not, at the turnoff into a little resort we were approaching.

Steve pedaled up ahead with a burst of speed, launched his Schwinn into a ghost ride that took it into a grassy lawn, and belly flopped himself into the grass. Troy was dumbfounded. Wrought with anger and amazement at Steve's sudden rebellion, he just sat there on his bike with his mouth hanging open looking at me. I could only shrug my shoulders for the time being and wondered what would become of our plans to reach Canada now.

Well, Troy went into diplomatic mode. It was a prudent thing to do, seeing as how he needed to get Steve back on the bike to have a shot at making the goal he had set for us. With some agreement that we would throttle back the pace, Steve got back onto his bike and we rolled back onto the highway. It was a tense situation, and reminded me of Steven's Point, only without all the alcohol.

Position of Manistique, Michigan

We turned slightly northward now and the clouds were gathering in a hurry as we went. Troy looked up with dismay and cursed. Rain! It started out cold and wind driven, which caught us off guard, as we had enjoyed pleasant sunshine up to that point. Now we were rounding a corner on the outskirts of Manistique. Troy convinced us to keep on it till we got into town and then we could stop to find some shelter.

We got to a Hardees and pulled in. We were wet, and none of us were too keen on pushing hard in a cold, driving rain. It looked like it might only be a quick shower though, so hope was yet held out that we might get back on the road quickly, but precious time was slipping away!
______________________________________________

This was a day I remembered for the stop mentioned in the story where we observed all those RV's with the crazy bike arrangements. I can still see that moment even today. Also, the moment where Steve mutinied is another standout moment from that day, for obvious reasons. But there was another moment I never did put in this story which bears mentioning, and which affected me for years afterward. You could say it changed my thinking about pollution/littering.

We had run hard up against the Lake, and there were tall stands of grass along the roadway separating us from the shoreline below and beyond us. We had stopped for a moment to gather up Steve, as I recall, and I took advantage to have a nutritional item as I waited. We were in a big hurry, so I ripped off the wrapper and tossed it into the tall grass, stuffed my face, and then heard a chorus of protest from both Steve and Troy.

That was a big no-no!

They insisted I wade into the tall grass and retrieve my waste and we weren't leaving until I did. I kind of put up a weak fight, but seeing their resolve, I dove in, searched a bit, and came out with the wrapper held high, as if I had a trophy. The guys were relieved and congratulated me on following "correct protocol" for bicycle touring and being a good steward of Earth.

I took that lesson to heart that day. Maybe we all could do with a reminder to keep the Earth clean. 

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Minus Ten Review- 27

The beginning of a lot of appearances on this blog. My OS Bikes Blackbuck single speed.
Ten years ago on the blog I was talking about how a 29"er had won a World Cup XC MTB race for the first time. That was a big, big deal back then. No one was giving the big wheels a chance to be anything but a circus side show and certainly not a serious platform for racing of any kind.

Then I also penned a post about technologies 29"ers needed to adopt ASAP. Things like tubeless tires and rims, preferably a systemic approach. I also talked about how 29"ers need tapered steer tubes and through axles. Oddly enough it was the through axles that took the longest to take hold.

I rode Cedar Bend Park North of Waverly for the first time on my OS Bikes Blackbuck. That bike became a regular on the blog from then on for several years. I haven't trotted it out a whole bunch of late, but it still abides in the stable here. Probably my favorite configuration of this bike ever is seen here. Titec H-Bar with a longer than acceptable today purple anodized stem. Salsa Gordo rims with wide-ish tires. I should get a new H-Bar and a stem the same length as that old purple one and set the Blackbuck up like this again. I still have the rims and red Hope hubs but the free hub is roasted. I probably should relace to a single speed specific one.

The other thing that was going on ten years ago was recon for the third Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. This one was run from Hickory Hills and was mostly in Tama County. It was a 100 mile course and it was a good time, but I;ll get to that later.

This GTDRI was a really big deal for another reason. I knew by this time that Jason Boucher was to show up for the event. He had a project that was coming to fruition that he wanted to ride in the event. Salsa Cycles was his ship to steer back then and he and the team were about to unleash something new on the world and the GTDRI would be its first public outing. Well.......not 100%. While we got to see and touch the bike, we couldn't know its name yet.

It was an interesting situation, and to boot, we weren't even allowed to take any images of this bike. Like I said, we will get into all of this very soon, as the 2008 GTDRI happened in mid-July. I think I was planning on running my drop bar Badger custom bike, but as we shall see, some part failure action dampened my confidence in the bike and I am pretty sure I didn't use it.

Anyway, the Summer was heating up and a LOT was going down.........


Friday, July 06, 2018

Announcing The 2018 Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational

The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational- July 28th, Reinbeck, Iowa, 6:00am in front of Ambient Ales. 

There you go. Everything you need to know right up front, but you want finer details, don't you? 

Yes, you probably do.

First and foremost- THIS RIDE IS OPEN TO ANYONE WHO THINKS THEY CAN DO IT. 

I know, I know...... The name of the ride says "Invitational", which gets people hung up every year, despite my saying otherwise for 12 years previous to this. So, just to be clear: anyone who thinks that they can pull off an unsupported, 100 mile gravel ride is welcome. 

Unsupported: That's a big deal here. You won't have a sag, you won't get aid stations, you won't see crews of film makers or photographers out on the course, and there won't be any hoopla at the start or at the finish. NO ONE IS AVAILABLE TO GET YOU IF YOU FAIL! You are on your own and YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU!

This also means that you should be prepared to have plenty of water onboard your rig, plenty of nutritional items to eat, and a repair kit including, but not limited to, a full set of wrenches for your bike, a tube, and an inflation device. I recommend a master/quick link for your chain and a chain tool as well, since you'll be doing 25 miles of dirt roads which are unmaintained and where anything is possible as far as road debris is concerned. In other words, don't show up on your sub-20lb wunderbike with two water bottles and a cute, tiny seat bag. This ain't no Euro-trash, roadie action here!

Typical rest stop on a GTDRI: Image courtesy of Rob Evans
 Which brings me to the next point....

No-Drop, Casual Pace: While I like a tough ride, (I've failed to finish at least four GTDRI's in the past), we don't leave anyone to dangle off the back and ride alone. Well, not for long, at any rate. We've had to send riders along their way, so if you can't hack it, we will route you the quickest and easiest way back to your car, but YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU. 

That said, we will be stopping often and if a few fall off the back, we stop to gather everyone up. This takes more time, also adding in the fact that we go at a casual pace, 10-12mph, probably, so plan on riding all day. I think last year we finished up around six in the evening. I don't recall for sure and I didn't document that, but it was all day.


The Route: Last year I designed a "Tour of Dirt Roads" type of ride emulating what the Pirate Cycling League does in Nebraska. It is a 100 miles, a little more maybe, of gravel with 25 of that in dirt roads. (The cues and map can be accessed from THIS LINK) We are going to ride the same course again this year because the route got rave reviews last year. However; there could be modifying concerns.....
  • Road closures- Always a threat. Bridges out are most common, but with so many Level B Maintenance roads, we might find a decommissioned road this year. 
  • Weather Concerns- Wet weather means no Level B Roads for us. With 25 miles of them, I would have to re-route the course, shorten it, or possibly cancel the ride altogether depending upon how bad things were. If you plan on coming, keep an eye to this spot and the GTDRI page for updates. 
  • Heat Related Concerns- The heat in late July is no joke and we've already had heat indices here well over 100°F. Heat could modify the route by cutting things short. It's happened before! 
So, all that to say that if you show up, be aware that the route could be modified or truncated on the fly depending upon the weather, heat, or group call, or all three!

One of the gnarlier Level B Roads we plan on riding in Tama County
Social Side: Last year we had a few "adult beverages" after the ride at Reinbeck Iowa's brew pub, Broad Street Brewery. However; that business has traded hands and is now called "Ambient Ales". They seem to have just opened for business, but I'll try to confirm that later and before the GTDRI happens. Perhaps a tasting recon mission is in order.......

Otherwise most of us will gather in front of the brewery on Broad Street in Reinbeck, Iowa to take off at 6:00am. Please park cars on the East side of Broad Street if you plan on leaving a car there all day. That seemed to work out well last year, but I cannot guarantee that you won't get ticketed or have a car towed. I only can say that we did this last year and it worked out okay. So, again, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU! 

Lodging: If you plan on coming from afar and need to stay overnight the 27th, then I suggest finding a motel on the Southside of Cedar Falls, Iowa, or in Grundy Center, Iowa. Both are short drives from Reinbeck. There is a camping area in Reinbeck, and also along HWY 20 near Dike, Iowa which is a short drive from Reinbeck.

Again, anyone that thinks they can hack this ride and do it the way I've outlined here is welcome. The terrain is hilly. There will be some steep climbs and fast down hills. Gravel can be really sketchy, so good bike handling skills are a top priority. I recommend any gravel/adventure bike, Fargo's, hard tail mtbs, or fat bikes as rigs worthy of using. DO NOT TRY A CALIPER BRAKED BIKE OR A ROAD BIKE!

THE GTDRI IS A FREE RIDE AND ALWAYS WILL BE. I do not charge a dime for anyone to come.

Further updates will be posted here and linked to the GTDRI site.

Questions? Ask in the comments or e-mail me at g.ted.productions@gmail.com

 

Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Touring Series- How We Did Things

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
In case you weren't aware, every Sunday I have been reposting a series of stories about a fully loaded cyclo-tour I did back in 1994. These were remembrances and notes I took down back in '94 and again, in 2008, when I first posted the series on the blog here. I called it "The Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour".

The posts in the series have been updated with a few images and, at the end of each post, some additional commentary or remembrances that, I hope, are enhancing what I originally wrote.

Through doing this of late it has struck me how differently we did things back then. We dressed differently, we had a completely different routine due to having to deal with technology, such as it was, in 1994. We wouldn't do a cyclo-tour like that now. I'm not sure it was possible to recreate what we did even five years later. Things changed a lot after that mid-90's self-supported tour.

So, today I wanted to go over a few points that I think are interesting to consider, especially in light of where we find ourselves in 2018. I'll touch on our gear, our daily routine, and some things we did that we probably would not- or could not do- today due to technology.

First up, I wanted to talk about our gear and especially how we dressed and what we did for personal hygiene. We did things in a way that we could rely on ourselves and whatever resources we had without weighing ourselves down with excess gear.

This is Troy from 1994 with his rig at our first overnight.
What We  Wore:

We didn't wear much bike specific gear! We had clip in pedals and shoes and bib shorts. That's it! I suppose we may have had cycling gloves. We wore t-shirts instead of jerseys. We brought helmets along but only used them going through LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Otherwise they stayed firmly attached to our racks.Why?

It was our agreement that since we were riding the open road, we would possibly get smoked by a car or truck, in which case a helmet does you no good. That was our hard and fast rule, and we stuck to it. No helmets while riding on the open road. I wore a ball cap, I think Steve and  Troy had "proper" cycling caps. We each had eyewear, but I doubt any of it was cycling specific. I know Troy's was not and certainly mine was not either.

Personal Hygiene: We did "laundry" in sinks and bathrooms along the way. We each had three day's worth of clothing. As mentioned, Troy would clip his wet stuff to his bags or cable runs on the bike and let things air dry as we rode. By week's end we were all doing likewise. It was not uncommon to have t-shirts, socks, or bib shorts fluttering in the breeze as we rode down the backroads of Wisconsin. With exception of the rainy day mid-week, of course.

On this tour we seemed to luck out on getting showers. The first, fourth, sixth, and seventh nights out we found showers. The other nights we didn't. I don't remember that being a big deal if we missed getting a shower either. Of course, we brushed our teeth maybe twice a day- morning and evening.

Daily Routine: This is something I skipped over in the original notes because I figured it was so mundane at the time no one would have missed it. However; it seems like a glaring hole in the tale now, as you don't really get the feel of what every morning and evening was like out on the road.

We had dried oatmeal packets for breakfast. I believe Steve had the stove and fuel we used on this trip. Oatmeal was eaten with water and nothing else. Generally, this was around 7:00am-8:00am in the morning. We then would find a convenience store as soon as possible after we started riding to further top off the reserves. A "second breakfast", if you will.

Mid-day meals were whatever we came across out there. We had convenience store fare, but three times we ate in restaurants and once from a local grocer's deli counter. The final day we had lunch at Hardee's. (Fast food- not a restaurant!) Evening meals were either our dried meals or a restaurant, fast food, or delivery pizza. I didn't take a whole lot of money. I believe I spent, on average, ten dollars a day. That's pretty crazy to think about now!

Lack of Technology: I don't know that anyone could do a self-supported tour these days without bringing their smart phone, a camera, and possibly a navigational device. Lights too. We did not have lights and we had some pretty weak tail lights for possiblle travel in twilight hours or during adverse weather. One of us, I can't remember who, had a camera. I may have had a disposable, one time use Kodak 35mm camera. Somehow a few shots exist of this tour, but I honestly don't recall taking them, although it almost is assuredly me that was, judging by the subject matter. But anyway- no images on social media!

My wife at the time had no idea where I was on an hourly/daily basis. Think about that. Sharing anything outside of with Steve and Troy was unheard of. I mean, it wasn't even a thought. We called home maybe twice the entire week. On land lines! My parents didn't know where I was, my friends had no clue where I was, and nobody cared. The situation sure has changed now, except that almost nobody cares.

Along with that, we had no idea what the heck was going on in the world either. And we liked it that way! Ha! I'm only half kidding. Looking back, that was an awesome part about those trips. (I took another like this one I'm talking about the following year.) No stresses about what the President was Tweeting, if the world was going to be blown to smithereens, or if we weren't getting enough "likes" on Instagram.

Yeah, it was a very different world back then, and I doubt I could ever quite recreate the way it was then on a trip today. But anyway.......that's how we did things then.




Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Happy 4th!

America, gravel roads, bicycles, and freedom
HAPPY 4th of JULY!

I'm taking the day off here so I hope that you all get to enjoy riding, family, friends, or whatever it is that you like to do.

We are free here in the US for a reason. 

Give some time to think about that today and count your blessings!

I'll be back tomorrow with a regular dose of Guitar Ted Productions. 

As always........THANKS FOR READING!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

I Don't Care

Something about doping. That's all I hear and see here.
Yesterday a big press release went out regarding a rider that is expected to win the next Tour de France and how possible cheating via doping may undermine this year's event.

I don't care.

I used to be quite enamored of le Tour years ago. I watched enthralled as Pantani beat the pants off of Big Mig on some storied climb. I was enthusiastically buoyed when a young Texan won a rainy stage in 1999 and went on to win it all. It was a hopeful sign of an American presence not seen since Greg leMond's victories in the late 80's/early 90's. 

But the huge mess in '98 wasn't the end of doping as everyone stated it would be. It kept on going, and going, and....... I finally just gave up any hope that any of what I once held so dear was even real. What's more, it became painfully evident that the money in it all was ruling the day. Why would the manufacturers, sponsors, and advertisers want it to be "cleaned up" while they were "cleaning up" the way that it was?

Answer- They weren't interested in "clean sport". Not if it meant "less money", which everyone seems to think it would.

Oh well. Whatever! This is the last time I'll be saying anything about this year's goings on in France.

Monday, July 02, 2018

I Was Naughty

My riding partner Saturday, Joe. (I know- you aren't supposed to take images looking at the Sun)
There was banter about a ride of 75 miles that was to happen on Saturday. I wasn't the planner, so the 8:00am start kind of made me pause, since doing that much mileage would mean I'd be gone most of the day. I needed to be home in the afternoon. A ride starting at 8:00am and even half that length would take too much time. Especially on a group ride with a planned stop and "no-drop" policy. Then the weather forecast came out!

I wasn't up for getting dehydrated and roasted in 100°F-plus "real feel" temperatures. The humidity was ridiculous too on Saturday. Above 70%. Plus, there was a 20mph Southerly wind forecast. Yeah......not gonna do it. 

My co-worker, Joe, was also considering this ride so we had a conversation and on Friday we made plans for a 40 mile ride. We decided starting at 6:00am, to avoid the really bad heat, would be best. I suggested the old 3GR course, and so it was set up. Joe and I would leave early Saturday morning for a casual gravel ride.

Headed North, it didn't feel too awful just yet.......
We left a little after 6:00am, headed out onto the gravel, and about two or three miles into it I realized I wasn't wearing my helmet! My already sweat soaked cycling cap wasn't letting wind through, so I felt like I had a helmet on, but I eventually realized I didn't. Joe just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I just kinda figured that you thought it was too hot for a helmet, so whatever...". And we weren't about to turn back.

I know, I was naughty! 

So, anyway, I was conversing with Joe and showing him all the landmarks he'd never seen. The "Big Rock", a rural church, the Bennington School House, and eventually Ivanhoe Road. That was when the hills kicked in.

A field of Sunflowers.
We were enjoying the natural sights too. Flora and fauna. Many flowers, butterflies, birds of several colors, and a deer and her fawn. We passed the dairy farm on Ivanhoe Road, (rare to see these anymore in Iowa), and passed under the old trestle bridge which carries a recreational bike trail now.

The hills were kicking my butt in that heat. I was finding certain times where I wasn't doing well, then inexplicably I would find my legs and be okay. It was probably into the 80's by this point in the ride and we were coming around to the headwind section of our loop. I actually embraced the wind, as it cooled us down really nicely at this point in the morning. 

Joe dusting me on another climb while riding his Santa Cruz Blur 29"er
The ride was fun from the standpoint of being able to share what I love about this area with a new-to-the-route rider. Things I kind of lost a shine for were now again somewhat exciting to talk about. That part was fun.

The "not so fun part" was getting roasted anyway. By the time we were closing out our near 40 miles I was feeling the beginnings of a headache and my legs were dead. No snap. Just spinning now. Yep....I've felt this coming on before. Heat induced fail. Fortunately we were finished before I went into a fetal position in the ditch out there somewhere!

I said to Joe that, although I didn't feel too sweaty while riding, I was betting I'd instantaneously soak out my gear when we stopped. That pretty much came true. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was being in a zombie-like state for most of the rest of the day. I was hydrated, for sure. I had to stop for a nature break 3/4's of the way into the ride, but I think I needed to have eaten something. When it gets hot like that, I just don't feel hungry. But boy! Was I hungry later in the morning!

Well, obviously, I survived this. All despite not wearing a helmet too. Not that I am particularly proud of that fact or anything, but I will tell you, I certainly didn't miss that brain bucket on that hot, humid day either!