Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Story Of Guitar Ted: The Estate Wagon


A Guitar Ted Productions series
Welcome to a brand new series on G-Ted Productions! This series will jump off from the time where the "Race Against Death Tour" ended and will take you up to the beginnings of Trans Iowa in late 2004. This is an eight year period where my life was transformed. You could say it was metamorphosed from the old to something quite new.

This won't have a lot of bicycle stuff in it at times, but it is all essential to the story of "Guitar Ted". This isn't about where the name came from. That's all here.  No, this is about the person. 

As with previous historical series on the blog, images will be a rarity. Cell phones, social media, and digital images were not available to take advantage of in those last days of analog living.  

In this post we will learn a bit about some of the influences on the person who became Guitar Ted
_____________________________________________________________________________

The last year I worked at Advantage Cyclery was packed mostly with work, but there were a few notable things which occurred that year which bear mentioning on this journey. One of these has to do with racing. Cross country mountain bike racing, to be exact.

Oddly enough, I became the president of the Advantage Cyclery Racing Team. I know.......weird, right? But I was trying to make a stab at "serious" XC MTB and I figured getting involved in this team was a way to do that. I ended up becoming the President since my former touring partner Troy's opening of Bike Tech had kind of sent the normal hierarchy of race folks into a tizzy. There was a bit of a schist concerning support and Bike Tech didn't have a team that first year, so everything got weird and I ended up being there. I think, really, that was all it took at that point. Just being there.

"Ears", #173- one of the Straight Edge kids that I hung out with, at Petersen Pits race, 1996
Anyway, between myself and the two Straight Edge kids I hung out with at the time, it was decided that we should hit up the XC scene together and that would be good from the standpoint of my helping to develop new racers in the area. That was one of the goals of the team.

To assist in this, I ended up finding out about a cheap station wagon for sale that Ears and his buddy thought I should look into as a race weekend vehicle we all could ride in. My truck, with it's single cab, wasn't going to cut it, and Ears' 'Scort, a beat to shit Ford Escort, wasn't going to cut the mustard either. So I purchased this enormous green Buick Estate Wagon, took it to Schuerman's Auto Repair (the place figures into my future) to get the brakes fixed, and we had a race weekend "ship" we could set sail in.

That was a choice that, in retrospect, I probably should not have made, since we only really used that sled about three times and the rest of the time that rig was mostly a liability. But, I do recall we had a memorable trip to the XC MTB race in Winona, a tough course, and a long trip to make. We also used the wagon to do an over nighter in Decorah, Iowa, to ride the mountain biking trails there. That was an awesome weekend of fun as well. The three of us also went to Decorah one other time, but I don't think we used the Buick. I had a Honda wagon by that time......anyway. 

The Estate Wagon essentially became a boat anchor, and I needed it to be towed, or it was going to be impounded, as it had died in the parking lot behind Advantage Cyclery by the Fall of '96. I had a couple of guys interested in it through my Dad who wanted it for a demo-derby rig, so I gave it to them, and that was the end of the Estate Wagon.

That Summer, I also had a co-worker at Advantage by the name of Missy. She was a perky personality, a culy haired, blue-eyed blonde that had a beaming smile. I liked her, so we became conversant on a friendly basis at work. She heard my story about my recent past, of course, since she was married and wanted to know what happened with my first marriage. Curiously, she took an interest in my well being, and more importantly, my spiritual well being. She asked me if I thought it would help me if I attended a church, and she suggested the one she went to, Heartland Vineyard, as a good one for me.

Ironically, at about this same time Ryan, who was in building bikes at the shop one Summer day, asked me if I would go to church with him sometime. Not the next week, or maybe the next month, just "sometime". I figured it wasn't a real serious ask, so why not just say "yes". Then again, somehow I knew the bill would come due. This becomes more relevant in my story later on.

I also ended my XC MTB career the following Spring. I didn't want to do it anymore, partly because a big life changing occurrence was on the horizon for me. It would affect my life in a huge way. That will be covered in my next post.

Next: A Fire Sale

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-15

The Fargo Gen 1 and an old derelict windmill on Quarry Road
Ten years ago on the blog I was talking about windy, early Spring rides. Sound familiar? Yep! Still doing this, ten years down the road. Amazing to think that I have been into riding gravel for more than ten years now.....

Well, the story of this windmill is interesting. I remember coming across it first when I was gravel grinding South on Ansborough Avenue back around 2006 or so. It was actually a working windmill at that time. I recall one foggy Fall ride on the Karate Monkey single speed where I heard this mournful groan, echoey, and far off. It sounded spooky, actually, and as I rode Southward it got more pronounced. I realized after I approached Quarry Road that it was that old windmill, groaning on its bearings in the winds of Fall. I'll never forget that.

Then one day the next Spring I saw that the vanes were all torn off. No doubt the bearings seized up in some Winter storm and the wind just tore off the old vanes and that was the end of that. I found the old windmill still standing in 2009, but not long after this, it disappeared and the vestiges of another homestead disappeared forever. I know a lot of places that are like this. Places that once told of families, of struggles and life on the farm, that are gone forever. It's hard not to feel something tug at you when you ride in the countryside and you see the decay and eventual disappearance of things like this.

I always thought it was strange when my grandpa used to drive around the country with his second wife and I. They used to go back and forth about the folks that lived on various farms we would pass. Between the two of them, they knew the history going back into the 19th Century. Once in awhile they would point at an open field and recount the families that had once lived on farms long since gone. I thought they were a special kind of crazy. That is until I started riding in the country. There are ghosts out there, whether I know them or not.......

A Salsa Big Mama- Look at that impossibly steep head angle!
Ten years ago I also got to try out a Salsa Cycles Big Mama. I really, really enjoyed that bike, but by today's standards it is a dud. The steep head angle, long chain stays, and short-ish front center would be considered a laughingstock today.

Yet this bike provided me with many an awesome ride in the North side of the Boy Scout Camp, and at Cedar Bend. It was so awesome I thought it would be a killer Texas rig, and when I took it there I expected to slay Franklin Mountain with ease. Unfortunately, it bit me. I went head over heels on a bedrock downhill and smashed my knee wide open on a sharp rock. It was then that I saw what was wrong with this bike and why it wasn't going to be a long term solution for me as far as mountain biking. That head angle! Wow!

Anyway, as far as I am concerned, the Big Mama was the best graphic design and color package for a bike Salsa Cycles has ever done since the Ross Schafer era. The new Warroad in the top of the range comes close, but this Big Mama scheme was so good it stands up to scrutiny ten years down the road.

I still have this frame in the bowels of the Guitar Ted Laboratories and I look at it once in awhile and smile. Maybe some day I'll replicate this scheme on the old Gen I Fargo........

Friday, March 29, 2019

Friday News And Views

The special one time only jerseys are IN!
Last Minute Delivery!

Okay, we weren't sure they would make it before tomorrow's inaugural C.O.G. 100, but they did come in! The C.O.G. 100 jerseys we put on one time only pre-order made it just in time despite a snafu in the initial run which required another run to be produced.

I should have these along with me today in Grinnell at the Peace Tree Taproom and they will also be at the start/finish area at Miller Park. If you pre-ordered one, just hit me up and you can pick yours up.

Those that don't make it to Grinnell, or had made arrangements for shipping, your jerseys will be going out next week. Thank you for your patience! I tried mine on and it fits, (I could stand to lose a few Winter LB's), so I am confident the sizing should be okay for everyone.

A little about the design: I worked with N.Y. Roll and we decided on something simple, yet classy. Something that had roots in older, Worlds jerseys or National Championship jerseys. The tri-stripe was a no brainer. We used "John Deere" influenced colors since that reflects the Mid-west, Iowa, and is N.Y. Roll's place of employment. The lavender was chosen since I kind of like purple, but we didn't want anything too dark, so lavender was the choice. The central "shield" was an inspiration from the Iowa Highway Patrol and their "kernel" shield design and has the name of the event versus "C.O.G 100 SS Champ" like the winner's jerseys do. Sorry! No extra jerseys were made available. We may have some extra C.O.G 100 caps and posters. Stay tuned......

And Now.......

Yes, I leave for Grinnell today to get this silly single speed only event in gear. (Pardon the pun) It will be kind of odd, since a few of the riders are old Trans Iowa regulars and are coming because I am involved in putting this on. Really, that is quite humbling and I sure hope that the C.O.G. 100 does live up to their lofty expectations. It is a compliment of the highest order that these folks have decided to come to this for those reasons.

I'll have a lot more to say once the event is over, but obvious comparisons to Trans Iowa will be drawn by many, including myself. I have pretty much summed up my feelings about things, but I will wait until my report to give that take. Stay tuned for that and an event recap Monday.

Of course, since it is early Spring, weather will be a factor. Rain is forecast for today down that way and depending upon how much Grinnell receives, it may be "quite interesting" come tomorrow. The "C.O.G." part of this event refers to "Creatures Of Gravel", of course, and if conditions are what I expect them to be, we will see exactly what "creatures" are created by the wet, muddy roads. It might be epic.

Those who are inclined can follow along on Instagram and Twitter where I will be posting images and whatnot. Search the hashtag "#COG100" for my posts and perhaps those of others.

Adding an e-bike to your household has become a concern for insurance companies.
The Latest In Fire Hazards For The Home:

The stories of e-bike fires seem to be getting more common these days. The latest big one occurred recently at an e-bike charging station for Citi Bike, a New York e-bike share concern. (Story here)

I asked a vendor who represents a company that sells e-bikes (Hybrid Powered Bicycles) recently about home owners insurance policies and HPC's. I wondered if there were any concerns that should be covered with potential hybrid powered cycle purchasers in the future. His reaction was that it is of great concern to home owners as a fault in a battery charging system could easily cause damage or great loss to a home, and that insurance companies are becoming increasingly aware of the issue. This rep suggested that e-bike (HPC) batteries be charged only in a supervised manner and that they be stored in a place, preferably not attached to a home. Furthermore, it was told to me that most, if not all e-bike batteries can be permanently damaged if they are not charged up throughout the off-season. If they are left to drain down, it would be likely that they need to be replaced, and that at great cost.

I find it odd that these sorts of possibilities are not discussed more frequently, or at all, by the cycling media. I think it behooves us all to be upfront about these things, if we're to believe that this is where cycling is going in the future. (And trust me- the cycling media and advocates of cycling are really pushing hard for hybrid powered bikes to take over the marketplace) Obviously, it is an issue that is of great concern and technologies will certainly be applied by some to mitigate the dangers, but you can bet that not all companies will have such altruistic aims.

It is definitely something that bears watching.....

Okay, I'm off do do some event promoting of the entirely human powered variety. See ya next week!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Riding On The Ocean Floor

Some pretty torn up roads out there in places.
The warmest day yet in 2019 and you know I wasn't about to let it go by without a ride. That was a given. I didn't get out right away because I was expecting a call at 9:00am which never came. Grr......

That's really annoying. But, I had gravel waiting and that put the frustration of the non-phone call out of my mind. It was time to turn my thoughts to getting kitted up and out of that door with the Noble Bikes GX5 in tow. I tossed that rig into the back of the "Truck With No Name" and headed out to Prairie Grove Park. I had decided to get started and go on South from there out of town. There were bigger things going on which made a missed phone call utterly insignificant.

There was a stiff Southeasterly wind blowing at 20-25mph constant. I figured on winching my way South against that as far as I figured it would be okay on my out of shape body to go, and then turn back and enjoy a mahoosive tailwind. It might take quite a while to get as far South as I thought I could go, but I knew it would take less than a third of what ever time that ended up being to get back. That was my plan. Sometimes you get more than you planned on........

They sang once in a play I saw that Oklahoma was where the wind came sweepin' oe'r the plain. Well, that ain't the only place it does that! I remember when I was in school, a teacher said Iowa was one of the "plains states". I scoffed at the idea, but as I grew older, and learned more, I came to realize this is correct. Iowa was once mostly covered in tall grass prairie. Agriculture has traded that natural grass for one of tall grass prairie's distant cousins- corn. That and beans, of course. While we have more trees than maybe we would have naturally here, the fact that most of Iowa is still open land means that there isn't a whole lot to stop whatever winds decide to visit here. Rushing winds? Yeah, we got that.

The remnants of huge drifts of snow now are giving over to a new view.
I also learned back in the day that the Plains States were once at the bottom of a huge, shallow, ancient sea. The deposits and sediment over the millennia eventually became our limestone. This became the very crunchy bits I was riding over. Not only that, but the age of the glaciers scraped and scoured our land, leaving behind the occasional huge "erratic", or massive stone feature. I often see these while I ride as well.

Not much breaks up our horizon unless it is man-made.
The result is a large, unbroken horizon line and a "big sky" most times. The only things that break the horizon are the farm buildings and the trees that surround them which dot the countryside. It is especially during the transitional seasons- Fall to Winter, and Winter to Spring, when it is brown, barren, and lifeless looking out there, when I notice how "prairie-like" Iowa really is. the gently rolling landscape is easily seen now. You can almost imagine tall grass bending in the wind, Buffalo and elk grazing, and being able to see nothing but those things for as far as you can see. Yeah......I can almost see it yet......

Riding on the ground up floor of an ancient ocean over what once was tall grass prairie. 
 
The life blood of the land burbles toward a larger way.
But right about then a gust of wind pushes the bike around and my attention is now on my corrective measures and then it is focusing again on measuring out the power. That wind was relentless. I have a friend, "Super Saul", and he has a philosophy for riding in the wind. He laughs if it blows hard, taunting the Wind. "Ha! Is that all ya got! I'm still moving forward!". It does help, you should try it sometime. That said, the Wind wins sometimes. It is a Force to be reckoned with when you live out on the Plains. Today it might be just flexing its muscles a bit, wrestling with you, toying with you as you pedal into its face. But there are days it will knock you clean off your bike, or be so strong that it picks up debris, precipitation, and grit which peels your skin back, or feels like it. Then there are the days it joins forces with Winter, or Storm, and you have to take cover. Yeah, laugh if you want to, but in the end, Wind is no joke. You learn to respect its powers.

Equipment set out for auction.
The Wind also brings Spring in with such force and violence that the deep set Winter belches forth from the ground where it once held a frosty grip, tearing up our roads in the process. We think these things- roads, fields, buildings, and homes- are permanent. These are all transient. They could all be gone tomorrow. Farms I once rode by for years disappear overnight. Roads and bridges close or disappear with the advance of Nature as it overgrows and takes back what was once its own. Only that long unbroken horizon and that big sky will remain someday.

Eventually I turn back North and the Wind which I struggled against now prods me along down the road at an incredible speed through the fluffed up, damaged gravel roads. The Wind doesn't care. I'm just another thing, like a leaf of a tree, being caught up in its power. Rushing along the broken bits of an old ocean floor.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

All The Wars!

Warroad Tiagra
An Opinion On The Salsa Cycles Warroad:

 NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

By now you've seen the news about the new Warroad by Salsa Cycles. It has raised a lot of questions, comments, and eyebrows. Just what is going on here? Well, you could just read the Culture Blog on Salsa's site, which, honestly, tells you everything you might want to know here. I really do not have anything to add to it. Other than the miscaptioned image of the 700c bike, which is Force 1, not Ultegra. (Note- Salsa sells only the Ultegra model with 700c wheels out of the box)

So, all you are going to get from me here about these bikes is my reactions. 

First, with only one 700c bike in the range, it is clear that Salsa has bought into the Road Plus idea first put forth by WTB, whose tires are featured on the bike. In my opinion, this is brilliant. For the intended purposes of the bike, poofy, 650B tires are just perfect for the job. Long, fun, interesting road-ish rides headed down questionably paved roads. Maybe you run out on some gravel? No problem, ride forward, get yourself righted and back on the tarmac. Note......there is nothing here for the go-fast, racer types. This isn't "that bike", so any criticisms of the design that reflect upon what a "road bike" should be like that are rooted in basic race bike design are misplaced here. This is something different altogether. An exploration rig. More pavement than not. The Byway tire choice really reflects this. 

You can put 700c wheels and tires on the Warroad, but you are limited to 35mm.
 That said, this isn't a randonnuer bike either. The front end geometry isn't the classic "low trail" type that many rando riders prefer. While Salsa did provide mounts for front Anything Cages or their low rider rack, I would tend to think any sort of weight on the front end would make the handling a bit "floppy", especially low speed handling. (Note- traditional "rando" geometry is 73° head angle with around 60mm offset) The 71° head angle is slack by gravel bike standards, and paired with the 51mm offset, it won't be bad unladen, but with two Anything Cages full of gear, or especially with low rider mounted panniers, I think it won't be ideal. But this isn't a "touring bike", per se', although the feature set tends to make it seem as though it could be. 

So, just what is it, and why not just get a Warbird? Well, click that link above. They tell you all the major differences. I get it, but I think of it this way- Back when Salsa came up with the Colossal, they told much the same "genesis" story as they have with Warroad. I remember liking the idea of the Colossal a lot, but the bike was seriously over-priced in relation to value present in the spec, and the tire clearances were too far on the slim side. Salsa fixed the tire clearance issues, made the bike in carbon, and put on their excellent Class V VRS stays and now call it "Warroad". I know Marketing will bristle at the comparison, but hey- that's what I am seeing here. It's a "better Colossal". 

So, why did they put stealth dropper post routing in this bike? That seems a bit........odd. Whatever. I do know dropping your post while coasting down a long, drawn out downhill is a hoot. But the bother and extra complexity of a dropper post on this bike seems out of place, but if you disagree, there is routing for it. Get after it!  

Also- Vaya. Umm.......doesn't that bike already do most of this Warroad stuff? Or is this a "Carbon Journeyman"? Geometry tweaks aside, (which really only matter to bike nerds, not the general populace), these are the valid questions an average shopper will have when looking at Salsa bikes. The major confusion will be with the Warbird though, and ultimately, Salsa must know this, because they spend a lot of time dissecting the differences between the Warbird and the Warroad. That Salsa chose a name which so closely mimics the predecessor's name doesn't help with this confusion either. Which one is which? That's a serious marketing issue there. 

Warroad Force 1- I really like the paint scheme on this one.
 Ultimately, I really like a lot of things about the Warroad. The top of the range has a cool "throwback paint scheme" which hearkens back to the original Mamasita 29"er. The geometry is (mostly) pretty good. I like the 650B choice to be featured in this range for the intended purposes of this design. I think it is a perfect, high end choice for RAGBRAI-type riders. 

I also think that you are going to see this model raced a lot at gravel events. It features short chain stays, a stiffer bottom bracket, and this results in the "squirt" feel that roadie-type gravel racers like to feel when they stomp on the pedals. It will be a handful in loose, rough conditions, but throw a dropper post in there and I bet a lot of top racers will be happy to throw a leg over this one. 

There is a lot to like here, but similar to the conundrum that was the Colossal, and similar to the Warbird, the asking price seems a bit whack. Warroad is going to find a lot of stiff competition in the gravel bike category. I know......It isn't a "gravel bike", but it also isn't a "road bike" in the traditional sense and with so many categories of bikes out there, and with such a strong semblance to the Warbird- both in profile and in name- there is going to be a hard road ahead for Salsa to keep this model separated from being lumped in with "gravel bikes". 

Maybe they should have done something a little more different. Like putting an electric assist motor in it. (HA!) 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

C.O.G. 100 Final Update

The inaugural C.O.G. 100 will be this Saturday at Miller Park in Grinnell, Iowa. There will be a LOT of important reminders and information here, so please pay attention if you are in the event. (My apologies to regular readers who are not part of this. I'll be back to regular posting tomorrow.)

Here we go! I have a bunch of things to cover today. first off, I should ask that you make sure you are familiar with the RULES. <===CLICK THAT. I will only add that I am quite serious about the single speed only bits. Don't even bother coming with a geared bike zip tied to be a "single speed", or any other half-baked solution. Not gonna fly here.

Secondly, I have noted a few "rookies" to my style of event that were wondering why there wasn't a course gps file, elevation gain given so they could choose the "right gear", and some qualms about cue sheet navigation. Okay, I could go on a long dissertation about why all of these things I do are good for you, but suffice it to say that I have my reasons. Secondly- if it offends you, why did you register for the event? Weird. I am not going to switch up my format to accommodate "easier living" for those who object to my "not handing you everything" ahead of time. In my opinion, we are all a bunch of spoilt brats and whiners. Myself included. Ease of life is at such a high level that we have lost sight of how good we have it. This is partly why I make my events the way they are. Nuff said....... If you get it afterward, great. If not, oh well...........

Course Conditions: The roads will be messy. It looks like we will experience some rain just before the event. This will make things sloppy. Road conditions are going to be wildly variable. You'll see patches of fresh gravel, soft, muddy spots, rutting, and probably some decent roads as well. Yes, the Level B Road will be passable on foot. No way will you be able to ride it. It is in there for a reason.

I'd suggest a clip on rear fender and possibly a front "mud deflector" type device to help with your comfort and visibility factor. You will definitely want to be layered up against damp, chilly conditions. I suspect the temperatures for the most part to be in the 30's to maybe 40°F for the entirety of the event. This coupled with stiff, Northwest winds of 17mph-25mph will make for a really challenging day to stay warm. This especially will be true if the roadways are wet and you get wet. Plan accordingly.

What riders might look like Saturday. (Image courtesy of ??)
Schedule Of Events: Friday you can check in with us at the Peace Tree Taproom Grinnell if you want to. If you do, it will make the Saturday go that much smoother for you and for us. You will sign waivers, get your schwag, and your race number. Cues will not be distributed until the morning of the event at 7:00am sharp. Come to the Peace Tree Taproom Friday between 6:00pm and 10:00pm.

Saturday: At 7:00am you can start getting inspected, get signed on, (if you haven't already), and pick up your schwag and race number. Cues will be distributed starting at 7:40am and riders will be briefed shortly before the controlled roll-out. The event starts at 8:00am SHARP!

Post event we encourage you to come to downtown Grinnell and have a beverage at the Peace Tree Taproom. We'll be hanging for a couple hours after the event to listen to your stories and just chit-chat if you'd like.

Number Protocol: We have Tyvek numbers with four holes- one in each corner. We are providing pipe cleaners to tie these to your bike on with. We expect to be able to see and read your number on the front of the bike.

Images: We have a roving photographer, Jon Duke, lined up to take images for this event. He has agreed to allow free use of all images taken by event participants only.  Any outside use of these images must be cleared by myself here at Guitar Ted Productions. Jon has been a Trans Iowa veteran, finisher, and was the T.I.v14 photographer last year.

 If you cannot make it- Please let us know ASAP. We would appreciate that.

Ride Right: Finally- Just a reminder that we are going to be enforcing the idea of "Ride Right". It's pretty simple- just keep on the right side of the roadway. Especially up hills! If you are found riding on the wrong side of the road, we will DQ you. It is unsafe and places you and the other riders in danger. Besides this you must stop and obey all stop signs, look both ways before crossing, and use extreme caution when doing so.

Thanks!!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Me And About 10,000 Other People

I needed to do this. Fresh air, BIG skies, and the smell of dirt.
Last weekend it was marginal as far as riding conditions. I am super happy N.Y. Roll got me out there though. That little taste of gravel/dirt we got didn't help as far as satisfying that "itch" though. If anything, it made that itch even more intense. Probably the same for me and about 10,000 other people!

Well, the good news is that the weather has been improving massively since last weekend and Saturday it was supposed to get into the 50's. N.Y. Roll was holding his "Bar To Bar" ride which we reconned the route for the previous weekend. I wasn't interested in doing that, but he was going down to a bakery/coffee shop earlier Saturday to grab a bite and a cuppa, so I asked to join him.

N.Y. Roll came by the house just before 9:00am and we swung downtown to Rockets Bakery where a couple of other guys going on Dave's ride were already munching on pastries and drinking the black goodness. I grabbed a cup and drained it, then bid the gents a farewell and good ride as I wanted to hit the gravel North of Waterloo. N.Y. Roll had told me that there was some fresh gravel patches on the roads up that way, and I was eager to hit something other than smoothed out, "hero gravel" from the long Winter.

I wasn't disappointed either. In fact, it was good from the standpoint of one of my goals, which was to get some good review time on something I am looking at for RidingGravel.com. There was everything from the smoothest of smooth dirt, fluffed up dirt, rutted out road, regular gravel, and the aforementioned fresh patches. There had been some grading, but there was more of the stretches of mud, rutted out sections, and just damage from the Winter than there was graded road. Amazingly, the snow is almost all gone.

The odd silo and round bales broke up the horizon line here.
There were only a couple of places left where you could see that there were really big drifts. 
I was headed North and my plan was to cross C-50, go a mile North of that, then turn West going by the old Lutheran church and German school Northeast of Denver. But along the way, I got a riff stuck in my head which I started building a song around as I rode. I crossed a blacktop and went another mile, then I figured I'd better turn. All of these signs and decisions were kind of "off in the background", because my song was raging and I didn't want to stop. Well, I went about a mile and then I realized I had no idea at all where I was!

So, I had to "hit pause" on the song, and then I had to figure out the compass directions. Easy enough, but nothing looked familiar until I came up on a cemetery which jogged my memory. I knew I was still near Denver, but I was no where near where I wanted to be. In fact, I hadn't crossed C-50 at all, and I was still in Black Hawk County!

The gate says "Pioneer", but the name was changed back to "German Burial Ground". (More on this in another post someday)

Well, I finally got back on track mentally, but I had to reform my goals and so I ended up going quite a ways West on Bennington Road until I reached Streeter Road where I turned South again. This takes you up a climb to a first summit and then down a touch, climb again to the second summit, which is right at the intersection of Streeter Road and Mt Vernon Road. There is a farm on the Northwest corner and a place that sells grain elevators with many of the implements parked on the Southeast and Northeast corners of the adjacent fields to the intersection.

Now I used to worry about dogs here. That farm had four which almost always would come out and give serious chase. Fortunately, the house is far enough back from the intersection that once you reach the downhill, the dogs had no chance. Now as I came in from the North, the farm was to my right hand, and I was listening intently for the sound of barking, or heavy panting and beating feet, if the dogs should be ambushing me in silence.

I did see some sudden, fast movement on the other side of the fence line. Whatever it was, it was being quiet and was going to easily outrun me to the opening near the intersection. "Oh man! I'm going to have to deal with these mutts!", I thought, and I was still a good 50 yards away from the corner, still going up. Then suddenly a brown creature leapt above the fence line! A deer! "What the what?!!" Well, it was obvious there were no dogs! But a deer was the last creature I expected to see coming out of that yard!

Another cemetery. Another picture.
Flock of birds straight ahead!
I turned East down Mt. Vernon Road and then went on thinking I'd turn South again on Moline Road and finish out the ride. As I approached Wagner Road, I heard a cacophony of noise of the bird variety. There were hundreds of blackbirds in the trees near this farm I was approaching. The noise of the birds as I passed was deafening!

Then I made another wrong turn! I ended up going down Burton instead of going two more miles East. Oh well! I ended up getting in three hours of good riding and another step closer to being ready for the Gent's Race coming up in two weeks. The itch for gravel was satisfied, but I definitely want more.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Story Of Guitar Ted: A Backbone Overnighter

A Guitar Ted Productions series
Welcome to a brand new series on G-Ted Productions! This series will jump off from the time where the "Race Against Death Tour" ended and will take you up to the beginnings of Trans Iowa in late 2004. This is an eight year period where my life was transformed. You could say it was metamorphosed from the old to something quite new.

This won't have a lot of bicycle stuff in it at times, but it is all essential to the story of "Guitar Ted". This isn't about where the name came from. That's all here.  No, this is about the person.

As with previous historical series on the blog, images will be a rarity. Cell phones, social media, and digital images were not available to take advantage of in those last days of analog living.

This post will tell the story about the last fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour I have done up to this point. A quick weekend get-away to a State Park called Backbone State Park. 
________________________________________________________________________

As the Summer of 1996 waned, it came to the time when I had thought at one point we'd be heading off to New Orleans to do another big tour. After two years of doing these big rides, I was still stoked about trying to do another ride, but life at the shop pretty much commanded my every ounce of energy that Summer, so I never really pushed the "go" button on the plans. However; Ryan, who had done the "Race Against Death Tour", had said we should do something. Tim, another co-worker, had said he'd like to come along, but it couldn't be anything long. A weekend was chosen in August, and we made plans to leave early on a Saturday to head approximately 80 miles to the East of Waterloo, Iowa to a State Park called Backbone State Park. It featured good camping and scenery. So, early on a Saturday, we took off.

This ride didn't have the feeling of urgency we had with the past two tours. Of course, Troy was not along, as he was running Bike Tech by this time and was "the enemy", so to speak. So, we never asked him to go. Not that he could. I say "enemy", but I really didn't feel that way about it. Anyway, without Troy's pushing the pace we didn't feel the urge to bury ourselves in trying to maintain any certain speed. So, the day was sunny, hot, and humid. Typical weather for Iowa in August. We were loose, laughing, and having a pretty good time riding over there. I don't recall anything remarkable about the ride out other than it was fun.

Once we had arrived, it was so blasted hot, it felt like we were suffocating, and there wasn't an ounce of air moving. I recall that we three were laying down on our backs in the grass underneath the towering trees on the West side of the park. Looking at the tree tops, not one leaf was stirring. It was as still and quiet as it ever gets in Iowa. Hot, stifling air was no relief, even in the shade we were miserable. So, we planned on going down to the stream that cuts through the park's middle and we waded in the cool water. Washing ourselves of the sweat and grit of the road felt wonderful. Then it was time to eat something, set up camp, and go to sleep in the big, six man tent we had used the year before.

I recall that we all were putting off getting into that dome tent until the last minute. It was still so hot and humid, even hours after the Sun set. Mosquitoes pretty much made up my mind for me, and I crawled into the tent first, with Tim not far behind. Ryan had mosquito repellent, so he bathed in that, and planned his repose to be on the top of the picnic table there where we had some gear piled at one end. Things got quiet for about an hour. I think I was sweating a river, getting drowsy, and maybe about to fall asleep when such a commotion arose outside the tent that it made Tim and I sit straight up. Apparently Ryan awoke to a raccoon licking his face! Of course, he ended up getting into the tent with us after that. He was so pissed off and excited about the encounter we didn't get settled again for about another hour. Then sweet sleep finally overtook us.

The next morning I awoke to Tim's motions as he made his way out of the tent to use the restroom down the hill a ways away from us. Maybe ten minutes later, Ryan felt the urge and was going to leave. However; when Tim left, he inadvertently zipped the storm flap of the zipper under the zipper head, effectively locking Ryan and I in the tent. Ryan was frustrated, then frantic. He was getting desperate and was nearly having a conniption when Tim finally ambled back up to the tent. Once Tim figured out what was Ryan's issue, he chuckled and unzipped the tent. At once, Ryan burst out like a jack-in-the-box, cursing up a blue streak. I had followed him out and observed a trailer maybe 50 yards away from us which had a Boy Scout troop number emblazoned on its side. As soon as Ryan finished his tirade I pointed out that the Boy Scouts probably were well entertained by his fit, at which point Ryan hung his head in shame and quickly disappeared in the direction of the toilets!

We planned on getting something to eat for breakfast at the convenience store up the road on our way back, so we packed up and rode on out Westward. It was cloudy, but stifling hot and humid when we left. The clouds parted ways eventually after we got going. It was another cooker of a day, and Ryan was riding no-handed as he searched for his Oakley sun glasses. Then he set off to cursing again. Those damn raccoons had licked his sunglasses and he couldn't see a thing. Tim and I burst out laughing so hard we almost crashed. The disgusted look on Ryan's face was priceless.

Well, it was the last fun thing that happened, as it turned out. We eventually found ourselves in a torrential down pour. Maybe ten miles out of town until we got back to Waterloo, it was just survival mode, and we were not having anymore fun. And that was pretty much our goodbyes. We each just headed our own way back once we got back to town as quickly as we could to get out of the weather.

That was the last of my efforts to tour self-supported. Not that I didn't want to do that, but I was working way too much to consider it then, and for years afterward.

Next: The Estate Wagon

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-14

A look out the back at a road grader from within the "Dirty Blue Box"
Ten years ago on the blog I was recounting a late recon for parts of the Trans Iowa v5 course. This was the first course we were able to run outside of the Northern tier of Iowa counties as we were starting the event in Williamsburg, Iowa that Spring.

The proposed route had a checkpoint in LeGrand, Iowa with the route to leave Northward and a bit Eastward with a hopeful crossing of the Iowa River somewhere.

The year before, in the Fall, David Pals, then co-director of Trans Iowa, and I had no luck forging through this area. I ended up having to stare at maps all Winter trying to figure the puzzle out, and then it hit me. It was a bit convoluted, and it included about two miles of pavement, but it was a solution. I had to wait until the roads straightened out in March that year to get out and get the deed done.

My little 1990 Honda Civic Wagon was on its last legs. I had pretty much used that old thing up running gravel and Level B Maintenance Roads, which it was not made for, as you know. The poor shocks were done for, and whatever rubber bits that held the hatchback in place were beaten down to the point that the hatch rattled something fierce when I went down a gravel road. In fact, it was deafening. Oh, and dust infiltrated the cabin rather easily. Yeah.....I didn't call it the "Dirty Blue Box" for nuthin'!

Road "furniture", Trans Iowa style.
That old car served me well though. It had been around for T.I.v3 and v4, and after this one it finally croaked when the distributor crapped out and a brand new one cost more than the car was worth. Anyway......

So, running recon and then doing cues was stressful for sure. We barely got things done in time for the event, but we did. This was before I ever did final recon checks or anything like that. We flew by the seat of our pants back then and it showed! There were things "not quite right" with cues and mileage, but for the most part it was passable back then. I'll mention a story about this come late April or May in the "Minus Ten Review", so look for that. It's a famous story that maybe you've never heard before. Definitely one of my chief T.I. memories.

But for the most part, recon was good and T.I.v5 was set to go. It was another stressful time though. I gotta say I don't miss that part of my life. This Spring has been a welcomed change!

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday News And Views

Bontrager's new "WaveCell" technology claims it is a dramatically safer helmet.
Over-Hyped Or Deserved Accolades?

A couple weeks ago Trek rolled out a mysterious social media campaign claiming that it was about to unleash a new technology that was going to be the best thing in 30 years in its category. Immediately the media pundits, keyboard jockeys, and forum crazies were yakking about what it might be. Things from wildly unreasonable fantasies to more down to earth ideas like a new carbon fiber frame technology, or more American manufacturing were thought up.

Then I saw about a week ago what it really was. Boy! Were most people waaaaay off! My reaction was a laugh, because I knew that when the word came out that many people were going to slag Trek for over-hyping a helmet, while others were just going to groan and turn their heads. I figured it would definitely be one of the most talked about marketing ploys in many a year. I wasn't wrong.

To their credit, Trek social media folks were on point the day of the launch and for the following days. They watched for every positive reaction and regurgitated it on their feeds so as to minimize the collective groans and comments of disappointment from the innergoogles. Talk about stamping out fires! They may have a bigger fire to stamp out now though.

We actually got one in at the shop where I work and I have to say that I wasn't all that impressed. First of all, (and referring to my comments about big-headed cyclists earlier this week), the size Large WaveCell roadie helmet hit my head like a medium sized helmet. No way could I use that! Others tried it on and said it was really a rounder shaped helmet and it seemed pretty wide. Hrrumph! Not that I'd get one anyway. I am not a believer in that design as far as keeping your head cool. It looks like a recipe for a sweaty, hot lid. Time will tell if that proves right. I guess in the meantime I'll just be 40 something percent more likely to have a concussion. Thanks Bontrager!

Teravail Rutland variants.
Teravail Introduces New Gravel Tire: 

The Quality Bicycles tire brand, Teravail, has announced a new tire, the Rutland, in three sizes. The Rutland will come in 700 X 38, 700 X 42, and 650B X 47mm. All are tubeless ready, and both "Light and Supple" and "Durable" casings will be offered. There are skinwall options as well.

Whoo! Another "gravel" tire. The marketplace is pretty crowded now. Amazing to think this when ten years ago there weren't any "gravel specific" tires except the Bruce Gordon "Rock & Road" (which is still available, by the way) I am grateful for all of the choices. That said, I feel that this one is highly derivative.

To my eyes, the Rutland looks a lot like a WTB Resolute with a touch of Riddler thrown in for good measure. Those are fine gravel tires to mimic if you are going to mimic a tire, I guess. It will be interesting to see if they ride as well as the WTB offerings do. I would guess that the Light and Supple variant will be the one that rides the best. By the way, that's the only casing offered in skin wall.

Interestingly, I've noted many tire brands are now recommending inner rim widths in either a range, or a specific dimension, for their tires. The Rutland is best on a 23mm inner width rim, apparently. That's a "wide" rim in terms of what was the norm only a few years ago. In fact, I am testing wheels which are narrower than that and the marketing copy reads as thought these narrower widths are "wider for gravel tires". To be sure, it wasn't all that long ago that a Salsa Delgado rim was considered a "wide" rim and that looks narrow by today's standards. Ten years ago most "road" rims were sub-20mm inner rim width. Things sure have changed.

The Women's Single Speed Champ jersey.
C.O.G.100 Jerseys Are In:

The championship jerseys for the inaugural C.O.G. 100 Iowa Single Speed Gravel Championships are in! They look fantastic too. The Bike Rags company knocked it outta the park with these jerseys and N.Y. Roll and I are stoked about the quality job that Bike Rags provided. The jerseys have a soft, in the hand feel, are full zip, and the colors pop really well. (My image here notwithstanding) The design was rendered just as I wanted it and I am happy that everyone I have shown these to has had nothing but positive reactions to them.

The Men's jersey is pink, the Women's is powder blue. The "C.O.G. 100" pre-order jerseys are lavender and will not say "Iowa SS Champ" on them, but will say "Iowa C.O.G. 100" instead. Those are not quite here yet, but they are promised by the event. If that doesn't happen I will ship jerseys to all the pre-order folks on the list, whether you chose that option during your payment or not. Hopefully they show up.....

In other C.O.G. 100 news, I have the number plates ready, and cues will be stuffed into baggies this weekend. I have to make a check in sheet and a roster sheet and then we are good to roll. Remember, N.Y. Roll and I will be hanging out at the Peace Tree Grinnell taproom from 6:00pm -10:00pm next Friday. If you are in the event, you can come down and get waivers signed, and pick up your schwag if you'd like. Cues will not be distributed until the morning of the event. Right now it looks like the weather will be cool, but clear and with no chances for rain.

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend and get some riding in!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

How I Clean My Bicycles- Answering Questions

Back in late January I posted this about how I clean my bicycles. If you missed that, please go back and read it (or re-read it if you need a refresher) before you ask further questions. I may have already answered them there. Drivetrain specific questions were answered the next day in this post. Again- go hit that link and read up before asking me anything else here. Anyway, I have a few new questions to answer since that post, so I thought I'd take the time to answer those now.

The first two are regarding chains. Here's one of them: "Do you strip the packing grease from new chains before using them?"

Answer: Yes. Longer Answer: (Because the follow-up question will be "How?") New chains are coated with......something. In the case of Shimano it seems to be some foul smelling light oil and with SRAM it seems to be a very tacky grease. Some folks will tell you to run the chain with whatever is on it from the package because, "It's the best lube the chain will ever have", or some such nonsense. Being a mechanic, I get to see the results of the "just leave it on" technique all the time. It doesn't work very well. Period.

So, strip the new chain with WD-40 bath, or parts washer fluid that is clean, or an ultra sonic cleaner if'n ya gots one. Then follow that up with a good scrubbing of water and Dawn dish soap with a brush. Make sure you scrub it so clean you'd put it in your mouth with no reservations. I mean clean! Shake the chain dry, blow dry it with a hair dryer, (if you don't have compressed air), and then immediately after drying lubricate the chain with whatever lube you choose according to label directions.

I drip one drop of DuMonde Tech on each chain roller, then I wet a rag with DuMonde Tech and wipe the chain, getting all the outer plates of the chain wet. Then I let it sit for 12 hours before installing it. Your lube choice will dictate what you do. Read the instructions.

Sound like too much work? Then pay someone to do it for you, or accept that your chain won't be the best it could be. Your choices there.

The next question was in reference to how I clean a chain when it is still on the bike. I did answer this to some degree in my first post (link above), but I will address this once again here.

Cleaning a chain is made far easier if you use a chain lube correctly. If you don't, you get a huge mess. If you don't clean your chain often enough, (you will have to use yer noggin' to determine frequency of maintenance for your bikes/riding style/conditions), you will have a mess. With that said......

First check your chain for wear. There is no reason to clean a worn out chain. Just replace it. (Check your cassette too while yer at it, and you very well may need to replace it also) Don't know how to check your chain for wear? Get a chain checker, or Google "how to measure for wear on a bicycle chain".

Now, refer to the image of the drive train here. See the run of chain that comes off the lower jockey wheel of the rear derailleur and which goes to the lower part of the crank? That's the "lower chain run". Now, shift your bike into a combination which leaves the chain as straight as possible. (Single speeders are already there) This will allow you to pedal the drive train backward without derailling the chain. Now, hold a crappy rag in one hand, cup it around the lower run of the chain, and spray on some degreaser, keeping the over-spray controlled with the rag so it doesn't get all over the place. (You maybe should put on some Nitrile gloves first before doing this. Sorry!) Spray downward through the chain allowing gravity to work for you. Backpedal the chain as you work through the cleaning procedure until you've shot the entire chain with degreaser. (Use whatever you are a believer in. I use WD-40 most often) Now set the degreaser down, clamp that rag around the lower section of chain with a light grip, but firmly, (if that makes sense), and carefully backpedal the chain through the rag. Be careful not to allow a loose end of the rag to get entangled in the chain/cassette!

Do the above a few times, then maybe work a brush through the chain links. An old toothbrush is brilliant for this job. Then I follow up with another blast of degreaser and wipe down with the rag. Wipe down the chain several times with a clean rag then lubricate with your favorite lube.

Dirtier than that? Need a cassette and crank cleaned? Stay tuned.............

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Let's Get This Ball Rolling Already! Part 2

The Noble GX5
So the weather is improving day by day. I've been readying the test fleet and items for review and have started using a few of these items already. To make matters worse, (better?), I got another piece of kit to review yesterday. Plus, I have something I purchased for personal use that I very well could review, but that will have to wait until I get this backlog of stuff ahead of it in line done and out of the way.

Anyway, I wanted to share this rig here, the Noble GX5 gravel bike. It is an evolution of the Tamland, which you long time readers here know I had some influence on when that bike was developed. However; for those who haven't heard the tale, I think it bears repeating here, so please indulge me the chance to briefly bring those who don't know about this up to speed......

In 2012, I was working at the bike shop, wrenching on repairs, when I got a call. It was the brand manager at that time for Raleigh Bikes, Brian Fornes. He had a room of people listening on speaker phone and he wanted to know what I would do if I spec'ed out a gravel bike under the Raleigh banner. Now keep in mind, I had no idea this call was coming and the information I gave Raleigh was right off the top of my head.

To be sure, I had been exploring here on the blog concerning the "ideal gravel bike for me", so the information was fresh. Still, that I was able to convey anything that made any sense to the product engineers sitting there thousands of miles away is pretty incredible. Apparently, it made sense because they used every single suggestion I made in the development of the Tamland, which debuted in 2014.

Fast forward: Mark Landsaat, one of those engineers in that room that day in 2012, started his own brand, Noble Bikes, and he took the "DNA", so to speak, of the Tamland and infused a bit of modernity and his own take on things to come up with the GX5. I know some folks will say that this bike is "just a Roker with a different name", but it isn't at all. It's VERY different from that bike.

I am pretty stoked to get out on the GX5 to see how it stacks up against the Tamland and other bikes I've tried. It is 1X........ahhh, yeah, about that.......This wouldn't be my gig of choice, but it is Force 1 and it does shift great straight out of the box. So, we'll see.........

Bell z20 Aero helmet.
The thing I bought was a helmet. A Bell helmet, to be exact. I'll let you in on a secret- no manufacturers helmets fit my head really well. Bell's come the closest. My hat size is 7 7/8ths, or if you are metric, that's about 63cm around the noggin. Not the biggest head in the world, but to compound matters, my head is long and narrow. Not round. Many helmets, if they even go on my head at all, hit me right in the front and the back with gaping gaps on the sides. Giro helmets do that. They actually hurt me to wear. Lazer, same thing, and on and on.

In fact, if I get a new Bell helmet in size Large, which almost fits me, but not quite, I have to remove all the padding and those pesky Velcro strips, and then and only then does it begin to work. I tried a Bontrager helmet, but it wasn't better than a Bell and it sat up on my head leaving the lower parts exposed and it looked weird. So, I went back to a Bell this time. An aero helmet too. We will see how it goes, but a friend who wears an older Bell aero helmet swears by them and so I figured I'd give one a try. I will say that it doesn't look as odd as the older, super spiky roadie helmets I used to get.

One more confession before I go. If it weren't for friends and my wife, I wouldn't wear a helmet. It feels so much better to not wear one, but I know. Save the "who will take care of you when you are brain injured and drooling in a cup" admonishments. I'm going to be wearing a helmet! I just wish that there were good choices in a helmet that actually fit my head, and not a compromised fit, which honestly, it may not be a whole lot better than not wearing one. Who knows...... (Don't get on me! I'm going to wear a helmet!)

More coming in the weeks ahead......Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Head East In October

Over a year ago I heard about a brand new event that was going to be getting put on in Pennsylvania dubbed "unPAved of the Susquehanna River Valley". It sounded ambitious, because the organizers were saying that they were aiming, eventually, to be the premier gravel event on the East side of the US. On the order of the Dirty Kanza, or Rebecca's Private Idaho, as examples of what they wanted to aim for.

I was skeptical at first, but after dealing with one of the organizers, Dave Pryor, it became immediately apparent that his heart was in the right place and that he respected the gravel community's feel and vibe to a high degree. Of course, coming from a background of bandit cyclo cross event promotion, it made sense, but at the time, I was none the wiser.

Anyway, fast forward to last year's Dirty Kanza. Dave was going to be there volunteering to get an inside look at how the DK200 was organized and produced. I met him as he shadowed Jim Cummings, who I have known for years. Come to find out as we spoke to one another, I had already met Dave once before. At a cyclo cross race in Las Vegas. He was the guy in the full-on bacon printed suit. I remember him being pretty cool and interesting at the time, but as it was pure mayhem at that point, I did not get a lot of time with him then. I just knew him as "Bacon Suit Guy". Now I had a name for the suit......er face! 

So, anyway, Dave twisted my arm pretty hard to come out to the inaugural unPAved, but I had already committed to too much at that point and I couldn't make it work. That seemed to change this time. I have N.Y. Roll to blame. He found out about this event separately from me and he told me this past Saturday he intended to register when registration opened Sunday. I told him that if he got in to let me know, because Dave was twisting my arm again already via an e-mail sent last week. Well, N.Y. Roll got in.

This will be me either being thankful or cursing. Come this Fall we'll find out which it is. Image courtesy unPAved
So, some strings were pulled and now I'm in the event too. So, come mid-October I will likely find myself in N.Y. Roll's Subie headed East to Pennsylvania. Never been there before, so this could be interesting. I do know that with a promised near 10,000 feet of climb over 120 miles that it should be a challenge to finish it out. But, I hope that having a bit more temperate conditions to ride in will be to my advantage. These hot, humid rides are not in my wheelhouse. That said, I'm not going to not do GTDRI and Gravel Worlds. I know.......stubborn old coot! 

Now is the time to start getting ready though. I hope to be piling on miles starting now. The weather has turned and only the roads need to catch up so I can start getting fitter and more importantly, get these test/review items that have back logged on me going forward again. That should make riding a priority, then after the glut gets cleared up I can get on with things like the C.O.G. 100 and the Renegade Gent's Race. After that my April is wide open.

First time for that since 2005!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Adventure Ride: Frozen Version

The streets of Waterloo were quiet Saturday morning.
N.Y. Roll had proposed a ride to recon a "dive bar" ride he was planning and asked if I was interested in coming along. Now it was forecast to be in the 20's Saturday morning when we were to leave, but there was supposed to be little wind. I agreed to go, hoping against hope we would be warm enough to make the jaunt enjoyable. That added with the snow melt, which was sure to be hardened ice Saturday, made bike choice critical.

I thought about throwing on the 45NRTH Gravdal studded tires, or maybe taking the Fargo with a wider mtb tire mounted, but then I remembered that I had to get to riding those WTB Venture 650B X 47mm tires I am reviewing. That would probably work, so I looked over the Black Mountain Cycles MCD- otherwise known here as The Bubblegum Princess- and went to sleep Friday with the alarm set to be ready to ride by 8:00am.

Of course, I was up and ready roll by 7:00am! I was fiddling around and thought I should text N.Y. Roll when I heard my phone ping. Wow! Telepathy is a thing, apparently! Anyway, I told him I was ready anytime he was, so he moved up the start time to 7:30am and when he arrived at the house here, we took off.

Early navigational issues. Apparently GPS units don't like the cold.
As we slow rolled through downtown Waterloo, I felt the bite of the crisp air on my ears and cheeks. Good thing I decided to swap out to Winter gloves! It was 27° and when we were moving, it was chilly! At least the downtown streets were clear of run-off ice, so we had no problems moving along.

N.Y. Roll's route connected several "dive bars" in the area. Basically these are run down buildings which house neighborhood bars that have been in existence for years. The first was near a famous restaurant in Waterloo called the DK Hickory House. It is a rib joint, but if you ever saw the exterior, you'd not believe it was a restaurant, first off, and you'd likely have a harder time believing it was once a famous place where many celebrities of the past would come to eat. Anyway, the "Park Road Inn" was right across the street from this joint and once we got un-turned around with directions, we found it and we were off to find the next "dive bar".

The next section of riding basically was taking us East through the Northern edge of Waterloo. Apparently the next bar was in Raymond and it would be several miles before we got there on paved roads. These residential streets N.Y. Roll chose to get us there were sometimes a bit sketchy with run-off ice, especially in the corners, so I was taking great care so as not to go down hard and screw myself up.

Looking back at Waterloo, we saw this flooded field with hundreds of Canadian geese. 
Anywhere near the Cedar River was flooded. Recent run-off has swollen many Mid-West creeks and rivers beyond capacity.
Once we broke free from the city proper we were greeted with the rising Sun in our faces and warming air. Well.......slight warming of air, really. It was still pretty chill and my sock choice was not on point. My tootsies were frozen by this time into the ride, but I pedaled onward despite that. The road was lined with frozen flood waters from the run-off of snow melt. These are typical areas to see flooding happen, so we weren't getting the disastrous floods like they are in Nebraska. Still, it was impressive to see just how much water was covering the flood plains.

N.Y. Roll enjoys the morning Sun as we ride the frozen shoulder coming into Raymond.
Eventually we were obliged to turn onto a fairly well used County road. Fortunately the pea graveled shoulder was smooth and frozen. It was as easy to ride as pavement. This took us into Raymond eventually and our next "dive bar" location was identified. Then it was straight on to the South to Gilbertville and the next bar location.

We stayed on the shoulder, only here it was on a strip about a foot, maybe slightly wider, of paved road on the right side of the "white line". Cars were giving us a full lane as they passed and we did not experience any close calls except for one where three cars met going opposite directions right as they passed by us. So we were all within close proximity of each other there, but no harm- no foul.

The Cedar River bridge at Gilbertville.
The first stretch of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail we tried wasn't too bad.
We made it through Gilbertville okay, but then N.Y. Roll wanted to go "off-route" and recon the CVNT (Cedar Valley Nature Trail). I figured it would be a complete waste of our time, but hey! This was an adventure ride, so...... The trail didn't look awful after we passed the depot, where it was mostly iced up due to pedestrians. We started out and N.Y. Roll promised me that if it got too bad we'd bail out at a gravel road intersection ahead.

Out on gravel! (Well......mostly dirt!) The frozen ruts were......interesting.
The trail conditions quickly deteriorated into a hard coat of frozen snow and glare ice from snowmobile traffic. I hen-pecked my way along while N.Y. Roll walked away from me with his wider, more voluminous mtb tire set up. We finally reached the promised gravel road turn off and made our way Northwestward, more or less, keeping to the CVNT as much as possible. After a few miles of gravel we were obliged to hop back on the CVNT and it was wild! The snow was much deeper here and frozen with soaked in rain which we had fall on the area earlier in the week.

If you look closely you can make out the herd of deer we saw.
Hike-a-bike for me, but N.Y. Roll cleaned most of this on his 2.25"ers.
The snow was rideable at times for me. I was amazed at how I could claw my way through at times. But there just wasn't enough "float" with 47mm of tire and N.Y. Roll walked away from me on his 29 X 2.25"s. At one point my front tire punched through a drift up to the hub! That was funny. I ended up walking a fair amount of this section.

A guy then rolled up on me riding an ancient Honda three wheeled ATV. He was amiable, and smiled at me as he started up a conversation with me. Apparently he had tried to keep this part of the trail clear with a truck and plow, but the blizzard a few weeks ago was just too much for him and his truck. He also stated that he had been busy fighting flood waters on his property and was out this morning to check on the angry Cedar River, to see if there were any ice jams.

Eventually we ended up on the bridge over the Cedar. All three of us peered at the turbulent waters rushing by. Finally the nice man bid us farewell and we turned our eyes toward Evansdale and the next "dive bar". We didn't have far to go, and once we found it, the next came fairly soon after. That was our cue to hit the recreational trail out of Evansdale toward Waterloo.
It may look peaceful, but it was anything but. The Cedar was forcast to crest later in the day Saturday.
Headed out of Evansdale on the recreational bike trail to Waterloo.
N.Y. Roll made a suggestion to stop at Rockets Bakery in downtown Waterloo for coffee. I was excited to do that, and when we got there we were greeted by a young lady behind the counter that thought it was funny that I was riding a pink bike while N.Y. Roll was wearing a pink helmet. I suppose that did look odd. Anyway, the coffee was excellent, and my stool, which had been sitting in the Sunshine, felt like a heated car seat after all that chilly riding. That made me think- are there any heated bicycle saddles? 

Coffee slurped, we remounted and headed back home. An excellent morning on the bike! I hit pavement, gravel, dirt, snow, and ice, all on the same ride. That's what I call "multi-terrain" riding, right there!