Showing posts with label CIRREM. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CIRREM. Show all posts

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just Wasn't Meant To Be

Too much of this...
It all started last night. I went to bed early enough, but it was one of those nights when sleep didn't come easy, and I never was really comfortable. Then, it got worse.

My son woke up at 2:30am because he had a "bad dream". Well, I dealt with that and then I never did get back to sleep. No big deal, right? Maybe I'd be okay anyway.

I got out of bed finally after sleep never came back at 4:00am. I went about getting everything together for the trip to CIRREM.

I had put 42"s on the BMC so I could fit fenders, since Friday all I saw about CIRREM on Facebook was that the roads would become a mess. The bike got done without a hitch and I thought I was good to go. Loaded up the truck and figured that I'd get going about 5:30am for the 3 hour drive to CIRREM and something to eat.

First indication something wasn't right: I blasted through Hudson, Iowa at 60mph. Whoops! Speed limit there is 40mph!  Sheesh! My mind was at about half awake status. Not good. The next issue: Ice. Lots of it off and on. The cars around me were only doing 40-45mph.

I decided to see how it would be further south, but as I got north of Toledo, it was worse yet. Okay- The Truck With No Name doesn't have the greatest tires, is a two wheel drive, and is pretty light in the back. Going fast through ice is not an option. Especially when I'm half awake. I decided it wasn't worth it. I wasn't alert, and driving on this stuff in my rig demands all of your mental sharpness.

So, it wasn't meant to be, I figured. I got home and went back to sleep for three hours and felt bad for not making the event, but at least I'm safe and sound. I definitely wouldn't have been 100% had I gotten there anyway.

Hope everyone had a good, safe ride at CIRREM!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday News And Views

CIRREM rig, for better or worse...
Snow! Yes, it snowed again, but ya is still February and all. It's just that it was all looking so good, so dry, and the Orange Crush would have been the perfect rig for the 62 mile CIRREM race. Now I probably should be bringing By-Tor The Titanium Mukluk instead, but I guess I'm going to stick to my guns. Peanut butter roads or no.

Besides, it is all for testing! I just need to get out there in something mucky and dirty to see if these Retroshift shifters are all they are cracked up to be. (You can read about the initial install and thoughts here.)

And it looks as though I'll be getting my wish. The course has been rained on, snowed on, and will have had some melting on it before the event tomorrow. Then it will be sunny and over the freezing mark, so you know it's going to be a big ol' mess out there! I suspect I'll be sacrificing my drive train and bottom bracket at the very least. Oh well! I've got a month to get it all back in order before the Renegade Gents race April 7th.

At least it should be warmer on Saturday than it was last year when I about froze my left foot off. Hopefully I'll just be warm and dirty this time. (Wait.......that didn't come out quite right!)

Kinda like this, only with wheels and stuff...
Like A Rock (star): Okay, here's a frame that is supposed to be hitting the ground here today, only it will have decals and components bolted to it!

Ya know.....kinda like one of them bicycle thingies! Right then...

Seriously, a Titus Rockstar is supposed to be on a truck to me today for a review on Twenty Nine Inches.  I've no clear idea of exactly what Titus saw fit to bolt onto this rig, so it should be fun cracking open the box when it arrives. I only know a few bits are SRAM and the wheels are pretty blingy, but I'll save all the suspense for next week on TNI. 

A couple odd things about this Titus. First- the model name. I remember when it first came out there were a lot of groans about the name "Rockstar". Well, I guess as far as I am concerned, maybe it's a bit pretentious, but I don't know that it is that big of a deal. I just know some folks were really turned off by the name. That matters too, by the way, because sometimes you buy a bike, or not, based on the name to some degree. (Really. I mean, I knew I would buy a Karate Monkey, just for the awesome name.)

Then there is the carbon rear swing arm and aluminum front triangle. Usually it goes the other way around, but Titus has gotten it backwards, or they got it absolutely right. We'll see, but no one else is really doing this on 29"ers. It's a "Horst Link" sort of deal as well, which should be okay. Otherwise, it seems a lot like a Salsa Cycles Spearfish, at least at a glance. I know someone who has ridden one or two of those besides myself, so maybe I can get a hand with how they compare. (You listening Captain?)

Seems like thre used to be a mid-90's company that did a carbon rear ended full suspension bike with an aluminum front triangle. I was thinking Dagger, or Battle. (Don't even say Cannondale. Those were two wheeled insects, not bicycles!)

Anyway, expect a full on CIRREM report soon with whatever else happens this weekend coming your way Monday at the latest. have a great weekend and have fun!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Getting Some Ride Time Logged

The post on Friday past made me think: "I'd better get a move on and ride some gravel!" That is because CIRREM is quickly approaching. That is a "metric century", so it will be the same distance as Triple D, more or less. (Likely slightly less)

Electrical wires....hrrumph!
I had to back off after Triple D for awhile on riding. That really knocked me for a loop, physically. I was fatigued for days on end afterward, and recovery took a while. I was super pleased with my result, since training ahead of that event was, well........not very intense, shall we say?

That and I got really sick there for a bit ahead of Triple D, which made me think, "If I just finish Triple D, it'll be a success." Well, obviously I did, so it wasn't just a success, but coming in 22nd overall was a fantastic result, for me.

So, at any rate, here I am afterward feeling pretty drained, and no wonder at that. I wasn't surprised. But I let the riding go a bit too long. At least serious riding. So, I got started this weekend and put in a good longer gravel road ride. I wanted to do that Saturday, but frigid temps and high winds with the resulting low wind chill factor kept me off the dusty tracks.

I decided also that I would try taking the Black Mountain Cycles bike out and make that my CIRREM rig. The Retroshift levers worked okay. (More on those later) I also used a new bib short. Not very good! They will not be getting used for CIRREM, I'll tell ya that. My posterior was not interfacing with that chamois in a happy way.

I may go sans Tangle Bag for this one.
Which leads me to this "mini-rant". I got geared up to do this ride in the "traditional garb" of a road going or mountain going cyclist. Bib shorts, base layer in wool, thick, winter weight tights, heavy long sleeved wool jersey, winter cycling jacket, "booties" over two pair of wool socks and my cycling shoes, and finally, a thick, long wristed winter glove. A hat under my helmet too, by the way.

Typically, when riding the fat bikes, it is "slip on the winter boots, grab my helmet, winter jacket, gloves, out the door. No other cycling specific gear at all, and it is enjoyable. The freedom of movement, the time saved, and I actually feel just as good and as warm as I did today with all that cycling specific stuff on.

The big difference is time saved and movement. I do not like the restrictive feelings I get when wearing tights, and most cycling winter layering stuff. That's one of the reasons I wore Dickies on almost every winter ride so far, and I almost did for Triple D too. I didn't wear bib shorts, or any cycling specific chamois at Triple D, and I am thinking I may not at CIRREM as well. Bam! Works for me, but don't take my gear as a recommendation for you. It just so happens to work for me, that's all. I'm thinking two or three layers of skin tight clothing is two or three layers too many for me.

Well, enough about that! There was one other thing I think I'll switch out before CIRREM on the bike, and that is to go back to the original Black Mountain Cycles fork. The carbon Bonty fork is waaaaay stiff! I know the steel BMC fork feels much smoother.

Other than that, the ride went off without a hitch, and I should have my set up honed in this week. Maybe I'll have myself honed in too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Retroshift Update

I found enough time this weekend to get the Retroshift levers and my Shimano 9 speed bar end levers mounted to the Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush" machine. Here's an image....

Installation: The install was pretty straight forward, but that said, you have quite a task on your hands when you swap out the levers to Retroshift.

Obviously the old levers have to come off, but so do all the cables with that, plus bar tape. You'll end up doing a tune up, so why not throw new cables and housing at your bike while you are at it? That's what I did.

So as far as the levers and adding bar ends to them, it was really easy. Retroshift sends along new bar end bases for your Shimano bar end or down tube shifters. Rivendell Silver shifters will also work. At this point there is no shifter adaptation for SRAM or older Suntour BarCons.

The only challenge I had was deciding how to route the cables for maximum flow and efficiency. I ended up going with a set up where the right shifter entered the top tube cable stop on the left side and vice versa. I ran the rear brake right down the middle of the top tube.

First Impressions: Once the brakes had been set up and the derailleurs tuned I re-wrapped the bars with my old tape, (I'm Scotch like that!), and I ran through the gears.

The default low gear position for the front is vertical/in line with your lever. As you can see in the image, the left lever is sticking out to the inboard side of the bike. That's the big ring position. The right lever is in the position where the chain is three cogs down from the lowest gear in this image.

The highest gear will put the lever on the right slightly outboard of the handle bars, so it sweeps a fair distance from low to high gear. Some folks asked about the shift lever being in line with the brake lever and how that affects braking from the hoods. Well, keep in mind that the shifter lever moves with the brake lever, so in cases where the shift lever is inline with the brake lever, simply pull back on the shift lever.  I honestly don't see this being an issue right now, but I'll reserve final judgment until after I've used these a bit.

Kind of like non-aero levers, but not really.
The switch from STI Ultegra 9 speed levers to these does a couple things. One: It saves about a 100 grams of weight. Second: It lends a totally different tactile feel to your rig's handle bars.

I think #1 is okay with about everyone. Number Two may become an issue, or it may be an improvement. I happen to think it is an improvement in feel and funtion for me, but let me explain something that affects my feelings on this.

My first road bike was a Tommasini steel bike with Campagnolo Ergo-power levers. So good! I loved the shifters, and ever since, I have found Shimano STI to be not so great for me. I won't get into all the details of that here, but since the Tektro levers Retroshift uses are more Campy-like than not, I happen to really like the feel. The other thing is that the shift motion is separated from the plane the brake lever moves in. I happen to have an issue activating the brake sometimes while shifting an STI lever. I know- I'm an unskilled STI shift operator! But, that tilts the scales to me liking the Retroshift set up.

Negatives are few. I've gone down the block and back so far, (too frigid to test ride yet), and I can easily operate the levers. The brakes work well from the hoods or the drops, but there is no way to shift from the drops. Other than this, the only odd thing is that due to the way the Retroshift mount sits against the upper body of the perch, the release button for the brakes is rendered useless. That isn't a real big deal to me, but it will make undoing the brakes more of a hassle.

So, that's the initial set up and a first impression. I'll be using these for riding and in the upcoming CIRREM gravel event in a couple weeks time. More to come later....

NOTE: Retroshift sent these levers over for test/review at no charge. I am not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday News And Views

A week ago I talked about Retroshift, a component that is a different take on shifting your drop bar bike. Instead of using STI/brifter type shifters in demanding situations like cyclo-cross, or gravel grinding, where grit, dirt, and grime are common and for which these types of integrated brake/shifters weren't designed for, these Retroshifters are suggested. They use the simple, durable, and easy to find down tube/bar end shift levers which you supply yourself.

Retroshift sent over a pair for review and testing. I am going to put these on my Black Mountain Cycles "Monster Cross" bike and give them a go. I have been surprised by the amount of interest these have generated in just a weeks time with folks asking me specific questions about these. I'll get them mounted and tried out very soon and hopefully be able to answer all your questions then.

These will definitely get the full on test when I race them at CIRREM in a couple of weeks. That will likely be a messy, gritty 65 miles of tough gravel grinding. Looking at the forecast, it should be fairly warm and dry, but the frost in the ground may provide just the messy conditions these shifters were made to be best in. Stay tuned......

Oakley "Gearbox" watch

To The Winner Goes....

Well, you know the rest of that saying. In T.I.V8, this will include an Oakley Gearbox watch. This is a pretty fantastic award to whomever manages to finish T.I.V8 first.

So, why a watch? Good question! When Rob Versteegh, the Oakley contact I have, called me up about this, he thought doing something unique was in order. Some may remember that we have had Oakley sponsor us with eyewear in the past. But Rob reasoned that most folks coming to this event would likely be good with whatever eyewear they were using.

So, since Trans Iowa has time limits, and doing whatever you do out there during a Trans Iowa is affected by your use of time in a efficient manner, Rob suggested that a timepiece would maybe be a significant reminder to the winner that Trans Iowa was partly a challenge in time use. I thought it was a great idea.

That isn't all. The plan is to have the timepiece made even more unique with some custom engraved message. We'll have to determine what that might be. Any suggestions out there?

Speeding Up: My schedule of events is heating up now going from Winter into Spring. I mentioned CIRREM above, but before that, (only a week before that!), I go to do the annual ritual that is Frostbike. This will once again include the trek over to Northfield, Minnesota's Mike's Bikes. That should be another epic late winter shindig for sure.

The next gig, CIRREM will be a metric gravel grinder, then in about two weeks time after that, I go back to El Paso, Texas, where I have some unfinished business with a certain rocky trail to attend to there. Once I'm back from that, I have a super-top secret double check on the Trans Iowa V8 course. Then about a week or so later, I go to the Renegade Gents Race. Final prep for Trans Iowa will entail most of the rest of the month of April.

Then it'll be summer before I know it! Well, time's a wastin', better get my bags packed and my ducks in a row!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

So......Now What?

This winter is.......fading fast! With the snow getting visibly less every hour during daylight, it won't take long with these 40 degree days to roach all the snow and put an end to fat biking on snow exclusively.

Fun while it lasted....
Yep! I am back to commuting on "skinny" wheels, wearing a helmet again, and using clipless pedals and shoes. I rode the "Project Two-Six" bike to work yesterday and I had to actually go looking for icy spots to test the Continental Winter Contact tires. There just wasn't any ice to be found!

So, I have been in the game of switching gears mentally to spring time. Too early, you say?, spring is coming.  I know. I heard the Cardinals start singing already, and that usually doesn't happen until mid-February. The forecast says 40's all week. I'm digging out the Gryphon and "Orange Crush" and I'm thinking long gravel rides are coming on fast.

I have an event coming up at the end of February too, so I need to get the gravel grinding done in preparation for CIRREM which is a hilly, challenging course. It is the same distance as Triple D was, so I should be okay with that part.

Single Gear Suffering?
I'm pretty sure I'll do the majority of the training on my Singular Gryphon. The gravel probably won't be too kind to a geared drive train for a while, and a single keeps the pace more constant on flatter terrain.

Plus, it has just been too long since I spent quality time aboard this bike. It certainly is a comfortable enough rig. I rode this one the last time I did Gravel Worlds in Lincoln, and spent all day on the bike. That didn't stop me that day, but the extreme heat sure did!

If I really wanted to be a goof ball I would just ride this in CIRREM. Who knows......maybe I will! Heck, it goes up hills just fine. I know that from my Nebraska trip. Just stand on those 180mm White Industries cranks and get goin! If CIRREM looks to be a peanut buttery mess, I definitely will be taking this rig.

Otherwise it'll be a Black Mountain Cycles kind of day. Either way, I will be needing to take some time plying some Iowa gravel roads and seeing what is going on out there in the country. The off road trails won't be up to snuff for quite a while yet, and the snow biking, well.......those days are done for this year. 

Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I bet not. 

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lookin' Ahead

Last day of 2011. Ah........buh-bye now!  On to next year and new changes and new challenges. Here's a few things I know that fit those categories right now. I'm sure more things will pop up along the way.

Old look fading away......
In the not-to-distant future, as in, within days, there will be an update to Twenty Nine Inches. The site hasn't seen a change to the page in almost six years, so it was beyond time to do some refreshing, updating, and spruce up the place a bit.

I can't take much of any credit here for the new look coming, because I am basically computer illiterate, but fortunately, I have a great help in Grannygear. (Thanks man!). Don't know what I'd do without some smart people helping me out.

I'll  be back....
Besides the Triple D event coming in a couple of weeks, (will we have any snow?), I am now reg'd up for another shot at CIRREM. This gravelly grinder down southwest of Des Moines will be a metric century of hills on February 25th. Last year was cold and snowy. This year? I may need a snow bike, or I could be getting sprayed with peanut buttery gravel on my Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush".

Then I'll be lining up in early April for the Renegade Gents Race with four other team mates. (Hopefully all sporting some facial hair!) So that's three events in the span of three months time to kick off the season. Top that off with a tentatively planned trip for two weeks to El Paso, Texas in March. I will be a busy boy!

But right now I have some other pressing business to take care of. Like finishing a titanium Mukluk, getting recon for T.I.V8 done, and riding sometime to get ready for all of this stuff happening in the first part of the year.

Oh yeah.......Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2012! 

Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guitar Ted Productions Rear View 2011: Part II

CIRREM: Ice Beard. Fun.
Moving on with the look back at 2011 and what I thought were some of the highlights....This time focusing on the events I was in.

CIRREM 2011: For those that are not familiar, CIRREM, (or "Central Iowa Rock Road Endurance Metric"), is a gravel road race/ social gathering on bikes in late February. It's as likely to be muddy and wet as it is cold and snowy. You just never know. Sometimes it is all of those wrapped up in one big, wet, nasty mess.

Well, coming off a disappointing 2010 where I failed to finish most every ride I attempted, the finishing of CIRREM on a cold, snowy, frozen course was imminently satisfying. (Even though I about froze my feet off that day!) I even rode the old Badger I have, squealing brakes and all, and it was fun. Lots of fun.

The event, (which is probably at its field limit for 2012 by the time you are reading this), is based out of Cumming Tap, a prototypical Iowa bar in a small town. The event has that fun, loose feel that doesn't take itself too seriously. I like that. Besides, it takes in some crazy hilly, beautiful Iowa countryside. This kind of event is right up my alley, as far as "races" go, and the people are fun and friendly. I may not get to go again in 2012, but if I do, I will enjoy the ride.

Renegade "Gentleman"
Renegade Gents Race: Not long after CIRREM, I found out about the "Renegade Gents Race", a five man team style event. Five folks had to start together, get through a checkpoint together, and finish together. In between, you could do as you liked, but it was encouraged to stick together as a team.

This was a fun set up, but more than that, I only had ever met one of my "team mates" before toeing the line! That's right- I got to know three new folks by riding in a race with them. For 60 plus miles.

Well, it could have been a complete disaster, but it turned out to become one of the best rides I'd been on in a long time. I made some new acquaintances and our team finished the event together well, albeit not as high up the rankings as we would have liked. Still, I think it was an undeniable fact that we all had a great day out on the bikes with some fantastic people. What more is there than that? (Well, other than drinking a Bud, some Four Loko, and eating a killer chicken Caesar wrap with Sam at the checkpoint). 

This event may happen again for me in 2012. Keeping that option open, and growing my beard in anticipation of this event!

David Pals speaking with Eric Brunt at T.I.V7
Trans Iowa V7: And of course, I can not leave without a mention of the seventh running of Trans Iowa. We had 18 finishers, and the weather was pretty decent this time. Can't really complain there.

We had the biggest roll out of Rookies ever, we had a nice turn out, with 76 riders total, (the biggest field to take the start in T.I. history),and we finally had a Women's Open finisher in Janna Vavre.

We had the event filmed, which should come out in early 2012, as "300 Miles of Gravel", by Jeff Frings, and Steve Fuller took some awesome images for the event which have been published in "Dirt Rag" and "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News".  Grinnell was an awesome host city again, and overall, the event was seen to be a success.

It wasn't without stress and some turmoil, but that seems to be par for the course most years I have been involved with Trans Iowa. In the end, it was a bit of a bittersweet event, looking back, as it was the last with my co-director, David Pals on board.

Okay, there are more events to talk about, so hang on for more reminiscing tomorrow as I continue the "Rear View of 2011" . 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Well, Now I've Gone And Done It!

The Triple D Race is a winter race where contestants either run, ski, or bike a course that goes through Dubuque, Dyersville, and Durango, Iowa in one form or another. (The bikers use a different course than the runners and skiers)

I got a suggestion to enter into the Triple D last year when folks found out I was building up a Mukluk. Well, that bike didn't come together in time, and just as well, since even if it had, a mechanical in waiting would have put me out of the event in short order.

So I escaped dealing with any sort of winter bike event, that is until I got in CIRREM, which for all intents and purposes was a winter bike race event. (Which, by the way, will take place on February 25th this year) CIRREM was cold, snowy, and the same distance as Triple D, so I have something to go on, at least, for planning. read that right, I am planning on riding the 2012 Triple D event. I got myself into this by a special invite from race director, Lance Andre, who only asks that I write about all of this for your reading pleasure. So, there is the disclaimer. The thing is, this sounds pretty fun, actually.

Everyone that reads this blog of late probably knows I have the bicycle for this deal. The Salsa Cycles Mukluk will be the rig of choice, that is unless it turns out that there is no snow. (Hey- it has happened before in Januray!)

In all likelihood, I'll be on this rig though. I have pogies, so that will be another equipment factor already in hand. Today I am picking up my footwear, some Keen boots I had already planned on getting, and Big Fat Larrys are sitting in the basement ready to be put on the Rolling Darryl rims.

I've got to work on a few more details to. Clothing being one. I have stuff, but finding a good combination for potentially waaaay below zero windchill and air temperatures must be worked on. I've got some ideas there.

Then there is the nutrition. I saw a nice recipe for some homegrown energy bars recently on a friend's blog here. I think I may have to look into that, but when cold temperatures make things hard like a brick, that may not work too well. Experimentation will be taking place.

Training is already happening. I started doing things even before this came up, just in case I decided on doing CIRREM again. Bigger rides will be happening soon.

I plan on doing my usual updates when going into something like this. So look for those coming at random intervals. I will also be doing a big ride report on this event here and on The Speaking of which, check out the buyers guide we put up for your gift giving convenience here. (Just in case you have a cyclist on your Christmas shopping list.)

Stay tuned for more on Triple D coming soon......

Monday, February 28, 2011

CIRREM 2011 Race Report

The 2011 version of CIRREM, (Central Iowa Rock Road Endurance Metric), is a "metric" century gravel road event. For those of you still mired in the standard measurements of the King, that makes it about 62.14 miles. (The "century" part refers to the 100 kilometer distance) This event starts outside the Cumming Tap in Cumming, Iowa.

<===The Cumming Tap in Cumming, Iowa

The day started very early at 4:30 AM so I could get up to eat a little something, pack up the final bits of gear, and be ready for the pick up by Mike Johnson and his wife, Amy. We made great time to Cumming and were there by 8AM.  Just in time for bacon, egg, and sausage burritos.

Many friends were either already there, or showed up. If nothing else, these gravel road events are a blast for the social end of things and for checking out everyone's rides. My ride for the event was determined by the weather.

I had gotten a tip from a fellow CIRREM rider on Facebook that the Des Moines area was receiving snow and maybe up to three inches. Since I haven't ridden the Black Mountain Cycles rig enough, and never in snow, to have a feel for what it would do in those conditions, I opted for a bike whose handling I fully understand in snow and mud. That would be the Badger drop bar 29"er.

Not only were those bigger tires a welcomed advantage, the gears on the bike would end up being the biggest advantage of all. I fully intend to "gear up" the BMC, but I still am in parts acquisition mode there, so it still is a single speed, and will be for some time yet.

The snow predicted did come. Probably somewhere between an inch and two inches of the brilliant white stuff had blanketed the hills surrounding Cumming and it's quiet, rustic streets were not plowed. It was also cold. Temperatures were in the mid-teens at the start, a wee bit of wind, but not much, was also wending its way through the pack of riders. We stood shivering in the street in front of the bar listening to organizer, Jed Gammell's final instructions. At 10AM we were off and rolling into the Iowa countryside.

The first thing I noticed was that I was colder than I would want to be at the start of a ride, especially my hands. I had my trusty old red Therma-fleece gloves on, so I was a bit worried if they weren't going to work in keeping my fingers toasty.  Everything else was fine for the time being.

The next think I noticed was all the mechanicals and flat tires within the first five miles. Odd that.

Then I noticed something more important- freezing rain. Or should I say "mist"? I guess mist is better. It really was a mix of snow, sleet, and frozen crystals of ice that would accumulate on any hard surface, including your eyewear. With the higher down hill speeds, the lack of vision was not appreciated. I took off the glasses several times only to get a "fork-in-the-eye" sensation from all the ice crystals stabbing my eyes as I sped down hill. Danged if I do, danged if I don't. It was just one of the things I had to deal with the entire ride. In the end, I opted for the no-eyewear route. It was just a less frustrating way to ride.

I rode with Paul Jacobson for a bit. He's been in Trans Iowa and volunteered at last year's event. We chatted for a bit before we stopped to aid a rider with a flat and I headed off for a "nature break". Paul ended up motoring onward to a 4th place single speed finish.

The course was easy to navigate, what with all the tracks of those ahead to follow by.  I never looked at the cues sheet until after the first checkpoint.

Then after a break at the top of a particularly steep grade, I ran into Steve Fuller, who will be the T.I.V7 photographer this time. We bombed a few down hills before I could see that his speed was faster than mine, and I let him ride off. It wasn't too much later that I came across the one and only check point at about 30 miles in. I was actually about a half an hour ahead of my goal so far. Bonus!

I scarfed down some of the cookies available and a Fat Tire Ale. I didn't want to stick around too long, so I was out of there in about ten minutes, which probably was still too long, given how chilled I was after I took off.

Speaking of "chilled", my left foot was practically a block of ice at this point in the ride. I stamped it back into some semblance of feeling, but not long after I took off, it was back to being a real problem. I wanted to wait to stop again until I had about an hour behind me from the checkpoint, and when that time was up, I opted for the emergency plan.

That plan was chemical warming packets that I threw in my saddle bag early that morning. I stopped and installed them, one in each shoe, and took off. Since there weren't any instructions on the packets, just a bunch of warning, I wasn't sure if they would work. I'd heard they needed to be exposed to air for a bit to activate, so I did that, but the meager warmth being produced wasn't very impressive. Hey! At least it was something.

Thirty minutes later, my foot was frozen again, and I had just under 20 miles left to go. The ride since the checkpoint was pretty much on my own. I pulled away from a smaller group I passed just after the checkpoint, but one guy on a Redline cross bike was trading places with me off and on every so many miles. Finally, I dropped a chain on a shift going into a climb and he rode away from me. It was all good. I was getting into a tough place anyway, what with my feet, (both of which were frozen by now), and I was getting really tired and hungry from all the work.

<===Matt Gersib stylin' with the Oakley's he won from the prize table at CIRREM. 

 The course had been slightly rolling to start out with, but it quickly turned into a steep climb followed by another, then another, for 64 miles. (There were a couple more miles than a metric century, apparently.) I was pleased with the way I climbed and the descending was fun, albeit sketchy with the snow covering and masking the good lines. Jed Gammell told us up front that there would be a "few sections of fresh gravel". (Translation: Mile and miles of fresh gravel that were big, chunky, and loose.) The gravel conditions and snow were reason enough for being glad I was on the Badger, but the gears that it had versus the single speed cross bike were even better, and I know I would not have done as well on a single speed on this course with the gearing I have on that bike.

With all the messing around with my feet, the dropped chain, and checking the cue sheet a couple times, I was off schedule by a bit. I finished in just over six hours, but at least I finished. I wanted to finish in six hours or less, but it wasn't meant to be this time. Still, I was pretty pleased with being able to pull off that ride in those conditions.

<===Good times with old friends and new.

I was starving coming into the finish, and by the time my sorry carcass hit the door of the Cumming Tap, (which was the official finish line, by the way), all the food for the post race had mostly been devoured. A few meager white bread rolls remained, which I snatched a couple of just to get me by. Free beer was also pouring for racers and I availed myself of this "carb replacement fluid" as well. You know you are in a nutritional deficit when three glasses of beer don't even phase you one bit!

The prizes were handed out then, (I got a sweet Planet Bike 1watt Blaze commuter light), and then Steve Fuller and his family, Matt Gersib, and my company on the ride down and back, Mike and Amy, all went to a local restaurant for grub where we had a great time. Then the long ride home, unloading the gear, and walking into my home at about 9PM in the evening. What a long, wonderful day!

I hadn't even had a chance to remove my booties in all this time since the event. As I took them off, the chemical warming packets fell to the floor. I picked them up and what do you know?

The dang things were hot! 

So much for the timing on that! Oh well, I had a successful ride, the first one I've finished in a long time. Now it's onward to working on the Dirty Kanza 200, and finishing that beast off once and for all.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday News And Views

They Should Re-Name The Show: Well, if you are any sort of bicycle geek at all, you know that today is the opening round of the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, or "NAHBS", in Austin, Texas. For the next three days, scads of bicycle nerds will be geeking out on steel, titanium, carbon fiber, bamboo, and whatever else someone decided to form into the shape of a bicycle. Already I've seen mentions of Calfee Bikes bamboo "tall-bike", which is supposedly a "show-stopper".

NAHBS is the bicycle equivalent of a Trekkie convention. Only cyclists see the imminent importance of the show and its meaning for "life-as-we-know-it". The rest of the world could give a rip. Heck, dog shows get more attention than this bicycle show does. And for that matter, what bicycle isn't hand built? Oh.......yeah- there is the "North American" thing. But even NAHBS has builders from overseas.

You know, bicycles are built by highly skilled laborers in Asia. Handbuilt indeed! While they may not sip espresso from an Italian cup, or sport a "soul patch", I really do not see any differences in what they do and what the "Hand built" guys are doing at NAHBS. You might say that the "art" of the bicycle is elevated to a higher degree. Okay, I'll give you that much, but the "art" doesn't make it ride any better.  What is more, the Asian builders have repeatability down pat. Try that with your fancy-pants bamboo tall-bike.

Look, NAHBS is cool, but lets call it what it really is: The "North American Rolling Art Show" would be more appropriate. High bicycle art commissioned by discerning bicycle connoisseurs, is what is actually happening. Of course they are hand built, but so is every other bicycle in a bike shop. Big deal.

Nothing wrong with the show in Austin, and of course, I'd go in a heartbeat, if I could have afforded to, but let's not get distracted by the "hand-built" moniker. I believe it cheapens what hard working people are doing elsewhere with bicycles, that in reality, are touching far more lives than anything you'll see coming out of NAHBS.

James Huang of  says of NAHBS that it will be the harbinger of what is to come from mainstream bike companies in the next few years. I think he's right to a point, but what NAHBS can influence is limited. Really- NAHBS is more of a proving ground and introduction for new parts by the component industry, and a showcase for how they can be used more than it is an innovator of cycling trends. In fact, you could argue that NAHBS trends are heavily influenced by mainstream cycling companies, instead of the other way around.

Well, enough of that, now go and geek yerself out!

More Monster: I noticed on the Black Mountain Cycles blog where a guy stuffed some Nanoraptors in his BMC Monster Cross rig. I also know that Kenda Karma tires have been shoe horned into that frame and fork. Well, I thought about it for a minute or two, then I remembered I had a set of Geax Barro Race tires in the TNT flavor which, as I recalled, measured about 1.85" on 24mm wide rims. Perfect candidate for the BMC!

I mounted them with tubes and they fit just fine. (By the way, they are not shown in this image, I'll get a pic later to share.) I also recalled that I was able to run crazy low pressures tubeless with these. I set them up and test rode it around the neighborhood. What a fantastic cushy feel. When I got back, I found out I had barely over 20psi in each tire! Well, I'll run a bit more than that on gravel, but these are going to be great "suspension" for gravel roads. At least I have some "monster-cross" like tires on the "Monster Cross" model from Black Mountain Cycles now. Ol' #42 is looking pretty good with those shoes on.

CIRREM: Tomorrow is the Centarl Iowa Rock Road Endurance Metric, or CIRREM, which is about a 63-ish mile slog over the hills of Madison County. I'll be taking the BMC and will get a ride report up for Monday. Look for that then. (It'll be a bone-chillingly cold ride, I know that much!)

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Good News

Two bits of good news reached me recently that made my day on Friday. The first has to do with the Snow Dog.

Ben Witt's rear wheel, (which I have been thoroughly abusing, as you can see..), will finally be going back to him soon. The Phil Wood & Co. e-mailed Friday saying that the Snow Dog's rear wheel has been repaired and was to be shipped out that day.

Hopefully this means that my wheel will be back by the latter half of this coming week. This will give me plenty of time to clean up Ben's wheel so it is all spiffy and will look good when I hand it off to him when I go to Frostbike on the 18th.

The second bit of good news has to do with the BMC cross rig.....

I hear that the frames will be received into Mike Varley's shop Monday. He'll certainly have to do a bit of scrambling, what with bookkeeping, etc, but it looks like this frame will be coming out within the next week or so, I would think.

I've been perusing parts to put on this rig and it should go together rather quickly. Afterward, it will be getting a high dosage of gravel road diet whenever possible in preparation for the Dirty Kanza 200. I also will be looking at using it at CIRREM if the roads are solid and not icy, otherwise I will be looking at using The Snow Dog, just because!

Hopefully your weekend is going well and you are getting outdoors before the next deep freeze hits Monday!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Gravel Road Dreamin' And Schemin'

It all started when I got a notification that my Woodchipper bars had come in at the shop. I ran a few errands and stopped by to pick them up. I wrote the check happily, because you know, one can never have too many Woodchipper bars around!

So, later on I went down and strated in to messing around with the drop bar rigs. I finally had my Tensile freewheel together and working again after it had frozen up solid due to a slurry infestation on a ride with MG on gravel almost two years ago now! Well, at any rate, the freewheel is working and it went on the Karate Monkey to help raise the gear inches a notch for some single speedy gravel grunge training rides. You see, the KM has fenders! Now I know the fender thing caused some folks grief at CIRREM, but not to worry. I think I'll be just fine. Can't wait to get that rig out there again. Oh yeah.......I already have Woodchipper bars on that one!

Then I started resurrecting the Badger. I swapped out a few things, found a few "parts bin" parts, and made a couple decisions on where to go with that bike. It will be a dedicated geared gravel road rig with STI 9 speed shifters. I'll have to score a few bits before I can finish it up from my parts bin horde at work, and buy some new brakes, but it should come out nicely. (No- this one isn't getting Woodchippers. It is staying with the Gary Bars I had for it already)

Then I turned my attention to the Singular Gryphon I am building up for testing. Woodchipper? Definitely! I figured out the basic set up with stems I had and now I can move forward with getting the steer tube cut, a star nut installed, and all of that. I need just a few more tiny bits to get this one done, but it will be done quite soon. And of course, it will need to be ridden out on some gravel roads to start with. Yes! Another excuse to ride gravel. Good!

Finally, I was forwarded a link to the Alaska Dispatch by Mr. 24's parents. It mentions Trans Iowa, and the story has some former Trans Iowa vets and one future one in it. Check it out here. It is a great read, and is about another epic event going on now.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday News And Views

<===T-shirt of the month.

Get yer "T-shirt Of The Month" from Twin Six starting today. This deal, the "T of the M", has been going on for awhile now, but this one is the best of the lot so far. (My opinion) It's got a snake, a crank, a four leaf clover, and it's on black. What else could you ask for?

Get it while it's hot, 'cause they don't do many of the T of the M's and you know you really need this shirt!

<====Did ya guess right?

In my "guess what this is" pic from yesterday, we got close, but no cigar. Here's what you are looking at: It's an extreme close up of a section of river ice about a foot thick,and several square feet in size, this being the top of the ice. The beige colored stuff to the right is embedded dirt, the stuff that looks like gravel and oily smears is actually where water has sweat up through the dirt encrusted ice, causing little puddles of frozen dirt to accumulate. The grayish back round is the surface of the ice itself. The snow that had been on top of this huge piece of ice was scoured off once the ice floe had run aground of the shore in the flood and the water ran over the top of it.

Yeah, so you never would have guessed it, well I know! But it is cool, at any rate.

So, no CIRREM for me this weekend. I'm recovering yet and I'm not going to push the issue. However, if you are headed down to ride the metric century, good luck. The weather should make the course interesting, and I'm sure it will be a fun time.

Speaking of gravel, I may see some this Sunday afternoon. We'll see, but if I do, I'm not saying where it will be! It might have something to do with this, or not. Stay tuned!

Have a great weekend and ride that bicycle!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wednesday News And Views

A Couple More Thoughts On NAHBS: The handmade bike world is sort of an odd thing for the common cyclist. I think it is much like the custom hot rod world, or the custom motorcycle world. You either get that, or you scratch your head and wonder why. At any rate, some interesting reactions to a post about the "Peoples Choice Award" winner can be found on my post about it on Twenty Nine Inches.

The other thing I thought was notable was the presence of the 650B mountain bike at NAHBS. There were the "usual suspects" showing rigs with the wheel size, and that was to be expected, but I could only discover one "new" player that showed a "B wheeler" and that was Shamrock Bicycles, which I heard got second place in the Peoples Choice voting for their 650B entry. Again I will say that it seems the shine is off the wheel size and if this 650B thing takes off at all, it will be a long, slow climb up from relative obscurity. The showing for the B wheelers was definitely telling in that regard.

Finally, an interesting development has occurred with several frame builders aligning themselves with each other, not unlike a "guild" from the Renaissance era. The Framebuilders' Collective is a coming together of some of that worlds most revered names to form a group that hopes to promote "ethical professional frame builder practices" amongst other ideals such as mentoring new frame builders, and acting as a resource of information on the craft.

An interesting development for sure when seen against the backdrop of several online flame outs of some custom frame builders.

New Floors: It seems that the off season is the time to re-model. My buddy Ben is getting his shop ship shape with a refurbished floor and some redecorating going on. The shop where I work is also getting a make over with a new flooring treatment going on now. It should really change the look of the joint and I am looking forward to seeing both places after the jobs are done. I can only speak for the place I work at now though when I say it is a chaotic situation to work around. But it should result in a nicer looking environment to work in, so I'm good with it.

Riding Weather: The "march" to spring (<===Ha!) is continuing and I am really stoked about the weather getting better. Hopefully the trails catch up soon! It is still a bit too muddy to really expect much yet in the way of off roading, but it won't be long now. I'll be taking it easy for a bit, as I got some sort of bug that I'm trying to kick. It just doesn't seem to want to let go though. In that regard, I am limiting my riding a bit till I can fully recover. Looks like for now, CIRREM is out for me. To those heading down there this weekend, good luck! I was looking to do this event, but I feel it isn't in my best interest with regards to my health at this point, so I'll stick close to home and do some shorter rides instead.

Monday, January 26, 2009

It Only Takes One Pebble To Start An Avalanche

I think I have pretty much written off the month of January when it comes to bicycle stuff, at least personally. Besides writing about bicycles, I have hardly been able to get a ride in or had any motivation to delve into the ever shifting mass of bicycle stuff in the Guitar Ted Laboratories. But now, I'm forcing my hand and getting started on things.

I can't do much about the weather, so I went down to the shadowy depths last night and started to make my first feeble attempts at getting the ball rolling here in 2009. It's about time too.......

I've got some parts rolling in for the Raleigh Rainier any day now. That means that I had to dig out the frame prep tools, with emphasis on the bottom bracket facing tool. (Can't use the head tube reamer I have on this one- it has an integrated headset!) I also should have a project frame/fork dropping in for Twenty Nine Inches any day here as well. Gotta get things cleared aside for those things to happen.

On the ride front, I have committed to being near Waukee, Iowa on Sunday, March 8th for CIRREM. (Central Iowa Rock Road Endurance Metric) It is a 100K gravel grinder in the hilly country south of Des Moines. Maybe the single speed Raleigh Rainier will get the call for that? Hmm.....they're saying fatter tires would do better, and you know, it will be so early in the season that they just might be right. I know one thing, the weather could totally determine whether we ride in full winter gear, or ride it at all! But at any rate, it's something to look forward to, and if it does happen, it will be a great stepping stone to the Dirty Kanza 200. Honestly, it will be motivation to ride in February, if I can, and that will all be fitness in the bank for Sea Otter, which in the past has been done with zero training under my belt. Ouch! It showed last year too. Those hills they have out there are amazing. (By the way, I am not competing at Sea Otter, just demo-ing bikes.)

So, hopefully the little bit of rearranging I did last night will be the pebble that starts the avalanche of bicycle activity around here. I know one thing, I'm tired of how things are around here and ready for it to begin.