Monday, May 20, 2019

A Big, Fat, Titanium Thank You

GT (L) and Sam Auen with the Ti Mukluk
Okay..... I'm not sure where to start with this, so I'll just go to the beginning of this story and hopefully it will all make sense. I'm still processing through what happened and I may never fully get my head around this, but here goes......

Several years ago, when I had my original Ti Muk, Ben Witt and I were gabbing about how "the perfect fat bike set up" would be a titanium frame and a Rohloff based drive train. Well, I already had my bike and a Rohloff is, while awesome, very expensive. That didn't stop Ben from trying though. He got a 2015 Titanium Mukluk frame and had built a rear wheel using a Whiskey carbon rim with a then new 170mm rear spaced Rohloff 14 speed internal geared hub. I remember seeing this in his basement when I stayed with him during the 2016 Fargo Reunion Ride.

Okay, fast forwrad a bit to when Sam Auen bought the partial rolling chassis from Ben and obtained another Whiskey carbon rim, (via from myself - long story), and built the bike up into rideable shape. Sam then added the bike to his fleet and did a few rides here and there on it. Then came the time when my good friend Sam realized he needed to "thin the herd". The Ti Muk was on the short list of candidates for him to shed off the fleet to someone who would use it more than he was.

Sam then posted the idea of selling the bike on social media where I jumped in and commented something to the effect that this was the "perfect fat bike set up" and that someone should own this dream bike. My intentions were to help bring some notice to Sam's trying to sell the bike because I wanted to help a friend. Then I forgot about it because it was a temptation I could ill afford anyway, even though I would have purchased it on the spot had I had the money. I figured some other lucky person would get it, and that would be that.

14 internal hub gears of doom.
Then this is where MG got involved. He texted me that very day asking about some things. One of the things mentioned was what I thought about Sam selling that bike. Did I really think that was a "dream build" for a fat bike? I responded to MG that I felt it was "the perfect fat bike set up" for me. That was that. We moved on to other things, and I went about my life, unsuspecting. MG, on the other hand, had a plan.

He contacted a list of people and got them, somehow or another, to contribute to an effort to make the bike mine. Their motivation for doing so was not, and is not, totally understood by me. MG wrote me and explained it this way

" It's funny how your influence stretches much farther than you might think. All of the people who donated have been touched by you and/or your work in one way or another....."

I still find this hard to believe.......

Anyway, it happened. I have the bike and a big list of people I need to thank, so this post is a public thank you to those folks. MG has said that these folks are okay with my publishing their names on the blog, (If you do have issue with that, let me know and I'll strike your name from the list, but I felt you all deserved recognition for this uncommon gesture). So this, in no particular order, are the folks who made it possible for me to get this awesome Ti Mukluk Saturday.

  • Bobby & Crystal Wintle
  • The Gibson family – Christy, Russ and Sofia
  • Joe Billsbach
  • Jason Boucher
  • Bruce Currin
  • Steve Fuller
  • Corey Godfrey
  • Ben Shockey
  • John Wilmeth 
  • Venny Alub
  • Rob Evans
  • Ed and Janelle Gerlach
  • Gary Little
  • Kristi and Tim Mohn
  • Errin Vasquez
  • Walter Zitz
  • Timothy Stephen
  • Todd Masters
  • Jim Phillips
  • Joe Reed
  • Joe Pahr
  • Warren Weibe
  • Ben Welnak
  • Matt Gersib
  • Sam Auen

And here it is. Thanks doesn't say enough, but THANK YOU!
 So, this past weekend my family and I visited my good brother Sam, collected the bike, and brought it home finally. This arrangement by my other good brother, MG is mind blowing. Wow...... Anyway, still wrapping my brain around what happened.

So, I cannot express my feelings. I just don't have the words to show my gratitude here. So, I'll talk about the bike, since it is unusual and I''m sure some of you are curious.

The fork is from an Advocate Watchman fat bike. It was the only 150mm spaced fork Sam could get his hands on at the time he built the bike up. He wanted that spacing for the SON dynamo hub he had someone lace the Whiskey carbon rim to.The handle bar is a Jones Carbon H-Bar with the ESI made Jones grips and the requisite Rohloff shifter. The seat post is another Salsa Regulator, which I love. The saddle is a Salsa branded WTB Silverado, (I think it is a Silverado), and that may go if it is too narrow. (Looks like it) The rims are the aforementioned Whiskey carbon ones in a 70mm width. The tires are the 45NRTH Dunder/Flowbeist models. I'll probably just run those till they are done. Brakes are simple Avid BB-5's with Avid levers.

The crank is a Race Face Turbine with a Race Face ring. Obviously, pretty basic outboard drive train stuff because the business end is all inside the 14 speed Rohloff hub.

The Rohloff is the 170mm OD model which came out a few years ago. Basically the internal gear hub is pretty bomb proof. As long as I keep changing the oil when it needs it and keep up on the maintenance of the external cog/chain/chain ring, the drive train shouldn't ever let me down either. That was why I was dreaming one day of owning a Rohloff. That and there are no "dangly bits"to get whacked off during explorations and in nasty conditions. 

I have ridden the bike for a bit. I haven't owned a Rohloff equipped bike before, but I have worked on a lot of internal geared hub bikes and they all have one thing in common- They do not like being shifted under power. Unlike a derailleur drive train, you cannot just shift while mashing the pedals. There is a bit of a special "hiccup" you have to learn to shift a IGH. (Internally Geared Hub) This is especially true with a down shift to get up a hill. I will need a lot of practice before I get this down smoothly with the Rohloff.

I also need to tidy up the wiring on the awesome Busch and Mueller IQ-X lighting system. It works fine, but there is a lot of extra wire and it needs to be routed a bit more permanently. This is also my first dynamo hub experience and so far, I totally see the appeal. I have worked on dynamo hubs before and I have a basic understanding of them, but owning/living with one is going to be a new learning experience.

Basically the entire set up will require some familiarization on my part. Just getting wheels on and off will be a bit more involved than your typical bike due to the complexities with wires, cables, and whatnot. But that said, this! Sam insisted several times when I got it from him Saturday that I have "adventures" on it, and get some good use out of it. That is the plan for sure. So stay tuned for a lot of that to happen in the coming weeks and months.

Once again...... Thank You! I am overwhelmed by this act of kindness.


Phillip Cowan said...

Wow, that is awesome in the original sense of the word. I gotta start hanging out with a better class of friends,lol.

Guitar Ted said...

@Phillip Cowan- Well, truth be told there are several people I've never met on the list, so...... Another reason the whole deal blows my mind.

Ari said...

You are so deserving of that bike! There are a lot of people that love you G.T.!

james said...

That is so awesome! Thanks for all you do Mark.

Iowagriz said...

This is an awesome way to star the week - great news! I'm sure that many others would have chipped in if they knew about it. Your help on the web has been fantastic and your curation of the gravel scene has been appreciated. Enjoy the ride!

x3speed said...

Thank you for all you've done! For Free! BTW the white on Ti is so beautiful!

Rydn9ers said...

Nice ride GT! Glad it found a new forever home with you.

MG said...

You deserve to own this bike and I’m so thankful to everyone who contributed. We are very fortunate.

Love you, Brother.

MG said...

... I would also be remiss if I didn’t add that the amazing Warran Wiebe inspired me to do this. I wouldn’t have taken up the challenge for just anyone, but you’ve given so much and asked for so little, it was something I knew I had to do, even if it failed. It’s success is thanks to so many incredible people, but I apologize for not including everyone on the invitation to contribute.

@Iowagriz: Just pay it forward, my friend... I’m sorry I didn’t think to type your name in. My bad...

john said...

What a nice story.