Showing posts with label Memorial Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Memorial Day. Show all posts

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Here in America it is Memorial Day. The day set aside to remember those who served and gave all for this country.

I hope you all take a moment to remember those who served and take advantage of our opportunity of freedom and exercise it in a positive way today and the rest of the year.

Happy Memorial Day from Guitar Ted Productions!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday News And Views

Simple, yet capable
The Singular Cycles Buzzard was a bike build I had been dreaming about for quite awhile. Ever since I had gotten the chance to try a slack angled, short stayed 29"er, I felt as though there was something to the idea. I needed to have something like the Buzzard to test the idea out long term and see if I was crazy, or crazy like a fox.

There are a few things that I feel have come together in mountain biking recently which I feel have brought the mountain bike somewhat full circle. Let's take a step back through time a minute.....

Mountain bikes were originally made to be capable going down hill at a high rate of speed, be durable, and to take you places you couldn't get to easily, or quickly by foot. The first mountain bikes of the modern era were all about exploring, adventures, and being durable and reliable enough to get you there and back again. Then racing happened.

Suddenly everyone wanted to be like Tomac, Overend, or Furtado. Flat, long stems, big saddle to bar drops, and butts in the air. Go fast or go home. Then mountain biking found "freeride", down hill, and all the extreme stuff. XC racing was dying, then 24 hour racing perked things up, but you had to have a dual suspension device. Along the way, just riding a mountain bike for the adventure was lost.

Then some things started coming together which has brought mountain biking full circle, I think. Things like wide rims, fat bikes, 29+, stable, slack geometry, and advancements in wheel size and accompanying geometry to make it all play nice. Bike packing, Tour Divide, and the whole adventure deal has come back around. It's a "perfect storm" of sorts that has produced bikes like the shorter travel 29"ers, 29+ bikes like Surly's ECR, the B+ idea, and bikes like the Buzzard.

But the Buzzard is a "play bike", right? Well.....that's the perception by many. However; I am thinking my experiences are pointing to a newer, and at the same time, old throwback version of the classic mountain bike.

The Buzzard can climb. have to adjust your climbing style to being "active" and not just sit there and spin. But it does climb well. Obviously, it descends really well, and with those shorter stays, it can do wheelies, and big moves rather effortlessly. With modern frame bag set ups, you could bike pack and do longer adventures easily. It is a simpler bike than a dual suspension rig, and with the big Velocity Duallys, it makes you traction and comfort issues smaller in one fell swoop.

Gravelly Goodness: 

Lots of big gravel adventures are happening this weekend and in the next month some big events are going down. I am working on deciding what to ride for Odin's Revenge.  I can do the Fargo again for sure, or the Black Mountain Cycles rig, which may be lighter, or the new Tamland. I could even do something ridiculously stupid and try a single speed Gryphon. I just have to choose and start training on it.

Saturday will be a longer ride on whatever it is I choose, so hopefully I feel good and I can pile on some miles. I also need to ride some hills. Odin's has a lot of those to tackle! Plus I am hearing that there will be a lot of dirt this time. Like up to 30 miles of a 170 mile course. Crazy!

Memorial Day Weekend. 

Well, it's a big holiday weekend here in the US and I hope everyone takes the time here to say thank you to a veteran. Yes- it is fun to go ride bicycles and be with family, barbeque, or go fishing, but for the sacrifices of the veterans past and present, we wouldn't have that privilege.  Have a good weekend and be safe, ya'all!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

....And All I Got Was This iPhone Pic!

Finally! A ride happened.....
Well, that was a typical Memorial Day Weekend. Rain, thunder, lightning, high winds, and flooding all weekend until Monday fore noon. Then it finally dried up enough to get out and enjoy some gravel.

Saturday I awoke to grumbling skies and rain, so I didn't go out on the 3GR. Props to those who may have ridden in the rain, but I am not motivated to go out and do that. So, I waited it out to see if things would clear up, and for a time in the afternoon, it did, but I was obliged to do some family time. Not a problem for me to drop a ride to spend time with the family at all, so no big deal.

I did get a lot of work done on the Gravel Mutt, (which I will detail later), so I was pleased to get that project pushed along a little further. There will be another sanding, painting, and hopefully thread chasing session after this. Then I will move on to assembly. I also did some tire swapping on the gravel wheels and on the Project White Inbred bike.

Sunday I played bass at church, then back to the house to meet with a guy who is going to help fix our kitchen cieling, and then I watched a race. Of course, it was raining cats and dogs with high winds most of the day here anyway, so no bike riding was even contemplated for Sunday. Monday I grilled out for lunch, then I hit the gravel South of town. It was so humid I felt damp the entire ride. The gravel was correspondingly mushy and soft in a lot of places, but it was riding a bike time, and I was on it!

Both my cameras were down on battery power simultaneously, so all I got from the ride was a single iPhone pic. It shows the somber mood of the countryside well enough though. Lots of standing water everywhere. Black Hawk Creek has topped the banks and spread over the low lying farm fields adjacent to its banks making for a sight. Almost as if there were a big lake South of town now! What a contrast to a year ago when it was mid-90's, blazing Sun, and dry for weeks on end. Either way, I'll take this ride and be glad. I really needed it!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Memorial Day Message From The Way-Back Machine

Four years ago, I wrote the following post on this blog. It seemed that it is as pertinent today as it was then, so why bother re-writing something similar? Here it is in its entirety.....

The Weekend When It Always Rains

Memorial Day weekend. Yeah....the opening salvo of summer. That weekend that signals the start of camping out doors, bar-b-cues, the opening of swimming pools, and school about to end for the summer. Oh yeah..........and one other thing.........rain!

I can't think of a better "rain magnet" than to declare a late May weekend as Memorial Day. Since I've been a kid, (a long, long time ago........) this weekend gets rained on more than not. Weird, but true.

Of course, if you take time to think about it, the rain may be appropriate. The whole idea of Memorial Day isn't for what I started this post out with. No, Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. In that sense, maybe a solemn gray rainy day is a reminder. A way for us to be prodded into stopping for a moment to recall the sacrifices of those who gave all. (If you want to find out more about the true meaning of this weekend, then check out this.)

So maybe while you are out on a ride this weekend, maybe you could stop for a moment, and remember. It is because of the sacrifices of many men and women that we can enjoy the freedom we have. One of those freedoms being the enjoyment of riding a bicycle.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend, ride your bicycles, and remember.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday News And Views

Candy Smokes & Processed Beef Products!
It's the big weekend holiday and everyone will be scrambling to recreate. Lots of barbeque, beer, and whatever else trips yer trigger. But just for a moment, let's not forget why we're getting to do all these crazy things in the U.S. of A. these days.

Our folks that served in uniform, giving the ultimate sacrifice in many cases, deserve our thanks and recognition. Say thanks to a Veteran, or at least make a special note of thanks in a way that seems significant to you at some point this weekend. It's the least we can do.....

More Stories Added: Just an update to a past Friday News And Views where I listed all the T.I.V9 stories and accounts I had at the time. There are more added now, in case you want to check it out. If anyone knows of accounts that are not listed there and want to suggest adding them, just comment here or hit me with an e-mail.

A Mule Kickin' In The Stall: As most of you cycling geeks are aware of, this is the midst of the Pro Cycling season and local criteriums are on at full tilt. It is with this in mind that I would like to point out the most recent "Bicycle Times", (edition #23), which just hit my mailbox today. (I know......a paper magazine! They still exist!) Anyway, the publisher, one Maurice Teirney, of "Dirt Rag" fame, writes a letter flaming Pro Cycling and its deleterious effects on riders of the more common cloth and on the cycling industry at large. The letter starts out with "To hell with pro cycling!" and rants on from there. Definitely worth reading, if you get a chance.

I would agree with much of Mr. Teirney's points, but I also see a couple things worth noting. One: Big Maurice is a mountain bike dude from way back. (In fact, he's in the MTB Hall of Fame, if you didn't know.) There has always been a bit of "anti-roadie" in the culture of mountain biking, and I'm certain Mr. Teirney is steeped in that culture. Secondly- pro racing has paid his rent, at least in part,  for many years, so I find it interesting, and a bit ironic, that he would so vehemently go after Pro Road Cycling.

That said- I get why he's peeved too. Well......go read it if you can. That's "Bicycle Times" issue #23, page 9.


This week the ride is being moved again!  Due to high water this time, the 3GR will once again start from Gates Park swimming pool parking lot at 8:30am tomorrow. It sounds like there is a 50/50 chance there may be a thunder storm late in the morning, so I will be keeping an eye on the sky, but as of now, the ride is on.

I am not sure anyone will show up, because it is a Holiday weekend, but I will be there and likely on the BMC. I wanted to ride the Vaya, but I discovered that an odd sensation at the pedals turned out to be a slightly loose crank arm. I haven't taken it off to inspect it yet, but I fear the splines are wallowed out and that is not good.

So, I'll look into that later into the weekend, but for now it'll be the ol', reliable Black Mountain Cycles rig. Which needs a new bottom bracket, by the way. I should do something about that before it becomes "critical"! For some reason I want to put a Chris King in it and replace the head set with a King unit as well. Both silver, of course. That bike is worth that upgrade!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Check That Off My List!

It has been a few years, maybe going back to 2008, or '09, since I have even tried to do this. But it has been on my bucket list of things to accomplish on my bicycle ever since. What is that? Why, Frank Brothers Hill on a single speed, of course.

Singular Gryphon: The rig of choice for the task.
I used to do a lot of gravel riding on a single speed. The Karate Monkey was the sled back then, and I used it on some really long rides. One of those was a route that took me into central Tama County and through some mighty hilly country.

There are some real gut-bustin' climbs down that way, but one in particular always defeated my best attempts at getting up it without walking. There is a farm situated  at the top of this climb and the mail box on the road is emblazoned with "Frank Bros".  So, I named the hill "Frank Brothers Hill", naturally, and I cursed it every time I had to walk it.

One thing led to another, and I fell out of the habit of doing long gravel grinders that took all day. Twenty Nine Inches started taking up all of my free riding time too, so gravel grinders were just an occasional extra flight of fancy that I got to do over the past several years. Frank Brothers Hill was something I had on my mind to accomplish, but I wasn't making the time to get around to it.

Well, that was going to come to an end over the Memorial Day weekend, and my plan was to get out at some point to conquer that beast. Saturday Mrs. Guitar Ted had several activities planned, so that day didn't work. Sunday was a good opportunity, but due to certain events, it didn't happen. That was probably a good thing, as it was super windy and very hot. Monday looked better, as far as weather and activities were concerned.

P Avenue looked great for just having been rained on.
So Monday rolls around and I have the Singular Gryphon readied for the attempt on Frank Brothers Hill. I get clearance from the family to go, and I loaded up the truck and headed south.

Now- back in the old days- I would have done this ride from the front door. It would have added about 50 miles or more to the loop, and I knew I wasn't ready for an 80 miler all on gravel. No- not now. Not on a single speed. So, I took the Gryphon down to Traer and set off from that point.

The weather, which I had counted on being a lot better than Sunday's,was only slightly better. Winds were out of the Southwest at 20-25mph with higher gusts. The temperature was in the upper 80's too. This wasn't going to make my approach to Frank Brothers Hill very easy, as it meant I would be in a headwind all the way until I got there. 

We had gotten some rain overnight, so another concern that I had was P Avenue, which was my main route south. It has a mile and a half section of B Maintenance Road which I thought might be too wet to ride, but much to my surprise and pleasure, it was very nice and fast instead. Apparently, the recent dry weather had been enough too allow the roads to absorb every drop of rain like a sponge. I saw a man and a dog walking up the final climb from dirt to gravel and when I got close, I could see it was the farmer who lived on the hill there. He may not have remembered me from our chat during T.I.V3, but I did. He asked, "Are ya gettin' in shape fer that Rag-bree?" I said, "Well, I'm gettin' in shape for something!" We exchanged a few pleasantries  and then I kept on chugging up the hill.

Seeking shelter from sun and wind.
After the ascent from B Road to gravel again the hills kicked in with earnest. These would be "testing hills" where I was going to see how I was fairing with my body for the day, and to make sure I had decided just what I was going to do on Frank Brothers Hill when I got there.

Things were feeling pretty good, so I had a positive attitude about the outcome. That was something that was easily held on to in my mind until I turned westward.

The wind was switching to more out of the west as I went, and when I made the turn west, a turn I hadn't taken in several years, I realized that the memory of the hills had faded somewhat, and the wind was stronger than I had anticipated. Suddenly all those good feelings and thoughts were in jeopardy. I was struggling to make the climbs now already, and I had a handful of miles till I got to Frank Brothers Hill. How would I do with my reserves being taxed so heavily now?

Well, that's always been the thing about Frank Brothers Hill. It isn't so much that the hill is bad, (however, it is pretty steep), but it is all the big monsters that come ahead of it. Now I had a head wind, and many spots of fresh gravel to contend with. I decided I needed to take control of my situation with a stop to calm down. I found a nice turn in to a gate and got into some shade.

The hill's namesake mailbox.
Once I got myself calmed down, I started back on the bike. I hadn't been down this road in years, but my memories of it were still pretty good. I knew what to expect ahead, and I kept my efforts in check, when I could. I needed to conserve the most energy possible to bring to bear on that climb.

Cresting a hill, I saw it shining in the sunlight ahead. Frank Brothers Hill. I thought, "It doesn't look so bad. I've climbed hills as tough as that already today." I also tried keeping my self positive, as you can see!

Now the situation here is that there is a steep little roller preceding Frank Brothers Hill that really taxes your legs. Then a quick down, across a small bridge, and then you are going up the hill proper. The hill kicks in about half way up with this ridiculous pitch, which takes you to a small crest and a dramatic lessening of the grade with about 20 yards to go until the mailbox, which marks the end of the climb.Overall it is maybe a quarter of a mile long or so, but like I said, the grade is a killer.

In my mind, I made up a quick plan. Stay seated until crossing the bridge and for the next 20-30 yards. Then standing up out of the saddle, I would grind away, looking at the spot just ahead of my front wheel until I hit the lessening of the grade. Sitting back down again, I would crest the climb. Okay- so here's how it actually went down! (Or up, I guess I should say.)

Frank Bros Hill wasn't the last big one of the day!
I did get the seated part a bit farther up the hill then I thought I would. However; by this time I could see that Frank Brothers Hill had been overlaid with fresh gravel recently, and it was pretty deep. So when I got out of the saddle, I had to measure my efforts really closely, or I was going to spin out. Spinning out and losing momentum meant defeat. I wasn't going to go down like that if I could help it.

Of course, all of this and the wicked headwind were conspiring to make me get off and walk, but I wasn't giving in. I muttered, "This is going to hurt....", and I kept my head down and slowly walked it up the grade. I only was scanning side to side to find a better line than the deep, loose gravel I was on, but there was nothing. More grinding.....

Many years ago on a Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, I had made a wrong turn in Tama County and was leading my ride up a similarly steep grade. I was thinking of bailing off my ride and walking when Matt Wills, a rider from Lincoln, Nebraska, came slowly by me, out of the saddle, as if he was walking on his pedals. He made it all the way up. It was a lesson I never forgot. I would, in later years, try to do what Matt always did on his single speed when the climbs got tough. Generally, it works out very well for me.

This climb finds me doing the same thing as Matt- walking up slowly on my pedals, when ....rrripppp!- my rear tire lets loose. Somehow I got the other leg around and kept moving forward. That was close! About this time I saw a cleaner patch of road and I make a snap decision to swap over to it, to prevent another slip of the rear tire. One more revolution to get there and........made it! Now I afford myself a look up the road to ascertain how long this good fortune of finding a clean patch would last. It was then that I saw I was very close to the break where the grade flattened out a bit.

Well, needless to say, I was relieved and I made it, of course. It was touch and go there for a minute, but I made it. As I cruised up to the mail box to get an image of it I said to no one in particular, "Well, I can check that one of of my list now!" I snapped my camera off, pocketed it, and rolled off without another thought.

I still had about 15 miles to go, a few more big rollers, and now, a tailwind. It was a good ride. A good start to training for the GTDRI, and a good day to cross off Frank Brothers Hill as unridden. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Barns For Jason

Another round of Barns For Jason today. I hope ya'all had a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Round Barn south of Traer, IA
Abandoned farmstead, Central Tama County
Farmstead on K Ave, Tama County
Hope ya Had a great weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday News And Views

It has been a while since I've done a "News and Views" Friday post, so let's dig right in...

This Is The Reason Why: 

Still running tubes? Here is a reason why you need to stop doing that. I was riding home yesterday when I heard a "crunch-THWAK!....tic....tic....tic...." It was this pencil sized twig that was on a branch I ran over that punctured my Bontrager 29-4. Fortunately, I had sealant inside, and I was able to continue on home with no loss of air pressure.

Yeah....try that with a tubed tire. Not likely you'd make it five feet. So, instead of walking the rest of the way home, hoisting a useless titanium bike, I was able to ride home, then repair it at my leisure. (By the way, I pulled the twig out about an inch to get the image above.)

I'll probably patch this tire and re-use it tubeless again. Yay tubelessness!

Gravel Riding News:

I'll be doing another 3GR tonight from  Gateway Park at 5:30pm. Come on over and join in on some gravel road good times. Once a solid group of regulars forms, I'll introduce some new routes. UPDATE: Ride cancelled due to rain. Next week, same time, same place!

Obviously, with the big holiday weekend upon us, there will be lots of riding going on. I hope to put in a longer ride sometime this weekend in Tama County. I need to start getting some fitness for the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational coming up July 14th. That ride will be about 120 miles and there will be plenty of big hills in Poweshiek and Jasper Counties to prepare for.

Memorial Day Weekend: Okay, now for a bit of seriousness. This is the weekend we observe the honoring of our men and women that have served in the armed forces. Many of these people have made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their lives for this country to be what it is. I hope you all get out on a ride to think about that a little bit, and say "thanks" for being able to ride free. (Amongst all the other freedoms we enjoy)

To all who have served, and are serving- Thank You!

Have a safe and fun Memorial Day Weekend and I hope the rides and good times are plentiful!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Give Peace A Chance: Ride A Bicycle

<===From a recent issue of "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

You know, I was flipping through a recent issue of "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News when this picture here caught my attention. It was what was painted on the shop door- "Stop War Commute $0.00 9/10 "

Obviously, I am  for bicycle use, commuting by bicycle, and all. However; this was the first time I had seen any reference to "stopping war" connected to using bicycles. Funny thing is, I've made that connection all along.

I'm not one to get all political. I also haven't ever said much about this to anyone before, but riding a bicycle has always had a sort of meaning to me. One that was connected to "doing something" in light of the wars we find ourselves embroiled in these days. Right or wrong, I see them as being connected inextricably to our dependance as a nation on oil. I figure that every time I decide to use my bicycle instead of a car, I am distancing this nation, a tiny, tiny bit more, from its dependance on oil. I know I am only "one guy". Maybe you are laughing right now about this, thinking I am foolish. How could riding a bicycle save this country from anything? Well, here are a few facts to chew on.

Before I started bicycle commuting, I filled up my car with gas every week, and got my regular oil changes every 3000 miles, which happened a lot every year. Now? I fill my tank maybe once a month, and I don't get to 3000 miles between oil changes, because now I have to change oil less often, and do it based on time, rather than on mileage. So, in other words, I am using waaaay less oil than I used to, and I am looking for ways to lessen that even more by using a cargo bike, and running errands by bicycle, or (gasp!), by walking places.

What if we all did that? I bet it would make a huge difference. Maybe it could even end a war. Maybe. Even if it didn't end a war, it would make our country's dependance on oil a lot lower, and us as a nation a lot healthier. You and I would save a lot of money. You'll never know unless you give it a chance.

Something to consider this Memorial Day Weekend.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dirty Kanza 200 Training Log: Another Night Time Adventure

First off, I'm sorry there are no images to go along with this. There were some great opportunities, but I have the wrong camera for them. So, you'll have to deal with that!

d.p. suggested we go to Toledo and head east from that point. So I made the trek down and we were off and running before 9pm. The sun was setting in the West, but we were watching an awesome moon-rise in the east. The ride out of town was nice and relaxed on some rolling hills. We hit up the ridge road going southeastwards that we used for T.I.V5 and went down some rollers and gently up the other side. d.p. then stopped and suggested riding up Q Avenue. Well, Q Avenue has some really steep pitches. One right after another. Then we hit a T intersection and turned left, heading back westwards. We were still going up and down some very hilly terrain until we hit a forced left hander and then down a really steep hill where we turned right.

Now here is where it got weird. We were on the exact same road we were on coming out of town, but we didn't recognize it. Toledo is hidden from view until you are right on top of it, so we had no idea we were so close. We found a road, and thinking we were still north and east of Toledo, instead of directly east, we turned southwards. It wasn't too far until we found a barricaded road, and being curious, we went around it. The road looked as though it had just been made. We were a bit perplexed, but we were going downhill, so we just went with it. Then the gravel suddenly disappeared and the road went to smooth dirt. Then the road got so wide we couldn't see the edges of it. We realized we were in a construction zone and we guessed we were in the vicinity of the new Highway 30 re-route. But where had we crossed the road we went out on? d.p. guessed rightly that we had been on it, but this was still odd.

Then we crossed over the new four lane on an incomplete concrete overpass, then back to dirt. All the while we are coasting, still going downhill. Then suddenly the dirt ended in weeds. We stopped, blinked, looked around, and suddenly realize we were about 30 yards from Highway 30. (The soon to be old highway)

We hike-a-biked down the embankment to the shoulder and road two miles past Tama and back into Toledo from the south! Boy, was I turned around! I didn't see what we had done until I got back to the house afterward and checked out a map.

It was fun and getting slightly lost was a good time. Well, since it turned out well and all!

Hopefully on this Memorial Day Weekend you'll stop to remember a soldier, airman, seaman, or other serviceman or women that has sacrificed so we can go get lost on our bikes this weekend and whenever we want to. Go for a ride, and be thankful we're free to do these nutty things on bikes that we do!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Weekend When It Always Rains

Memorial Day weekend. Yeah....the opening salvo of summer. That weekend that signals the start of camping out doors, bar-b-cues, the opening of swimming pools, and school about to end for the summer. Oh yeah..........and one other thing.........rain!

I can't think of a better "rain magnet" than to declare a late May weekend as Memorial Day. Since I've been a kid, (a long, long time ago........) this weekend gets rained on more than not. Weird, but true.

Of course, if you take time to think about it, the rain may be appropriate. The whole idea of Memorial Day isn't for what I started this post out with. No, Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. In that sense, maybe a solemn gray rainy day is a reminder. A way for us to be prodded into stopping for a moment to recall the sacrifices of those who gave all. (If you want to find out more about the true meaning of this weekend, then check out this.)

So maybe while you are out on a ride this weekend, maybe you could stop for a moment, and remember. It is because of the sacrifices of many men and women that we can enjoy the freedom we have. One of those freedoms being the enjoyment of riding a bicycle.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend, ride your bicycles, and remember.