Monday, July 13, 2020

Country Views: Standard Rando Maiden Voyage

A blue-sky window of opportunity
Saturday I got out and rode during the best time of the day- between storms! It was really nice out, not too hot, not very windy, and the roads were really good. The plan was to test the brand-spanking new Standard Rando v2, the bike dubbed, "The Gravel Bus", out since I got it assembled on Friday evening late.

This was unexpected, by the way. I had not planned on having the Gravel Bus readied so soon. I had ordered the incorrect caliper for the front brake and I had re-ordered that, but the tracking on the package said it would not arrive until Monday. However, on Friday the package was in the mail box, so the assembly mode was on!

Things went together really well, to be honest. Generally there is some difficult bits during a frame-up assembly. Things unforeseen that pop up to bite you. Fortunately, the only thing I screwed up on was the caliper, and otherwise everything went according to plan. Almost too good, one might think. Even the previously unknown to me eccentric bottom bracket from Wheels Manufacturing went in and adjusted up so well it was almost child's play to do the install. Scary. Things never work like this in the 'real world' of bicycle mechanic work where several different parts come together in a way never foreseen and you are the one that gets to discover that something is not as compatible as it was sold to be.

So, I was wary of all of that success and did a pretty thorough check-over twice before going to bed Friday night. Then on Saturday, I packed an unusual tool kit, to ward against any possibility of failure or maladjustment, and a little 'fore-noon', (Official Old Farmer Jargon), I set sail on the gravel seas to see how this Standard Rando v2 would stack up against my other bikes.

Temporary wheel set here, but otherwise, this is it.
I planned on two initial stops to double check my work and to see if anything was coming loose, or if I missed anything. The previous night's smoothness of assembly was spooking me out. However; despite my worries, nothing turned up. Hrrumpf! Maybe things can go right like that sometimes? Guess so..... Onward....

I came across this field of red clover.
The wild day lilies were popping all over.
I decided to hit up the 'big rock' on Big Rock Road as a spot to stop to double check things and for a photo opp. Then it was Eastward on Big Rock Road to Crane Creek Road to go see that mysterious engraved rock, the glacial erratic, that is in the West ditch just before you cross Airline Highway's intersection with Crane Creek Road. I wanted to investigate that more thoroughly on this trip.

I met these two shy pooches along the way to seeing that big glacial erratic.
There really is nothing near this rock that would help in discovering the reason it was engraved.
A close up of the engraving in the rock's face.
I finally came up on this rock and dismounted to clamber down through a steep ditch and into man-high weeds to approach the rock. As I pushed aside some dead vines, I could discern the name "Thiltgen" easily and the date of 1875. Looking at this, I am going to say that this is some recently done work. Getting close up, it is easy to see that the lettering is pretty crisp and the engraving has some sort of black paint or other substance which makes the lettering stand out better against the pale grey rock. My educated guess is that this wouldn't be so clean looking if it had been here for a long time, but I could be wrong. 

A quick check of the records I could find online turned up Frank Thiltgen, born in Luxemborg in 1846 and records show that he had property near where this rock is. This would have been off of Crane Creek Road back toward Elk Run Creek proper to the West. It could be that this stone marks the place where the road went back to the family farm at one time. Perhaps settled in 1875? I also learned that Frank Thiltgen is buried nearby at the St. Francis Cemetery, which I have images of on the blog here from time to time. So, the whole thing may be solved by that and may no longer be a mystery to me. History, the internet, and a little searching. 

Another field full of different wild flowers.

A barn quilt on a shed? Shed quilt? Found on Crane Creek Road.
I decided to head on Southward as by this time I had received notice on my phone that severe thunderstorms were expected in the area by around 2:30pm. This also allowed me to explore some new-to-me Black Hawk County gravel. Cool! I was up for that.

Barns for Jason #1
Barns for Jason #2. This one is a real stunner!
I ended up doing bits of East Donald Street I had not been on, then I turned on Pilot Grove Road, to Newell Street, and back into town for a 2+ hour ride. I could have gone longer, but I had no idea how fast the storms would develop so better safe than sorry.

Tiiiiiin roof!...................rusted! Love shack baby!
The corn here must have been 8 feet tall.
So, how about that Standard Rando, eh? Well, I couldn't be happier. That everything stayed together for the first ride, for one thing! But other than that? Yeah, I like it. The goal was to do two things. First off- It had to be a good replacement for the Raleigh Tamland. Second- I wanted to get close to what I felt and experienced on the Stormchaser. I know the first is working out. The second? More time needed......

Another big rock- This one larger than a dump truck. 
So, yeah.... That Stormchaser was a fine bike, and I really got on with it. Of course, it was aluminum, and it had a few things that the Twin Six doesn't have. The Class 5 VRS rear end, the big tire clearances, and those rad rear sliding drop outs. But the Stormchaser was harsh up front. Really harsh. The only way I would have ever lived with that bike was with the bigger 50mm tires I ran on it at the end of the review. The Standard Rando, while sporting a burly looking carbon fork itself, is not anywhere near as harsh up front. So, that's a win right there. (More on the bike tomorrow)

And the whole single speed thing, well...... I am really enjoying it. I really believe I am a single speeder at heart. I just don't have any problems riding a single gear bike at all anywhere. It may limit me at times, for sure, but there is something about single speed riding that just makes me feel 'right', for lack of a better explanation.

But that said, I ain't givin' up any geared bikes anytime soon!


graveldoc said...

Congratulations~ Your new Standard Rando is quite a looker! An artist's palette. The simplicity of the single speed drive train befits a bike intended for gravel travel. I'm looking forward to your next words.

baric said...

Your Gravel Bus turned out really sweet and a trouble free build to boot! That's a good omen. In that one photo with the wild flowers, those handlebars look super wide across the tops. Is that just an illusion or are they some of those extra wide Salsa Cowchipper's or what? And how wide are they?

Gravelo said...

She's a beaut' Clark! The bus looks amazing. My theory about orange bikes making for more enjoyable rides may have to include school bus yellow as a fringe element. Enjoy the miles my friend.

Guitar Ted said...

@blooddoc - I apologize! I inadvertently deleted your comment. Dang-it! Anyway, Sorry!

blooddoc23 said...

No worries! Was just saying how much I enjoyed the pics and that the erratics are cool too. I was wondering if they are composed of granite.

Guitar Ted said...

@blooddoc23 - Thank you for re-posting your questions! In regard to the erratic's composition, I found the following be researching the subject; "The greatest number of giant erratics are seen on the Iowan Surface of northeastern Iowa. They were described in a 1970 Iowa Academy of Science article by Drake University professors Richard Dirks and Carl Busch, who noted that 80 percent of the giant boulders had a similar composition, a light-colored, coarse-grained granite. They concluded from the boulders’ composition and the direction of glacial striations on the underlying bedrock surface that these erratics probably originated in central and west-central Minnesota."

You can read the entire article here: This link takes you to the Iowa Geological Survey site.