Sunday, October 02, 2022

The GTDRI Stories: How The Second One Came Together

Jeff Kerkove designed this for the '07 GTDRI from an image by David Story from T.I.v3
  "The GTDRI Stories" is a series telling the history, untold tales, and showing the sights from the run of Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitationals. This series will run on Sundays. Thanks for reading!

As I have said, 2007 was a very busy year and I was scrambling from project to project trying to keep up. The recently completed Trans Iowa v3 had really taken a toll on me as well. Yet I was being encouraged all along to keep at the gravel thing. Both in terms of Trans Iowa and the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. 

I've mentioned how an email from Jason Boucher changed my mind about stopping Trans Iowa, but continuing the GTDRI wasn't a slam dunk. Not by a long shot, and if you stop to think about this a moment, it isn't hard to see why I may have wanted to just drop the whole thing when it came to gravel riding.

From my July 4th gravel ride in 2007. I tweaked my knee during this ride causing me to be off the bike a while.

That isn't to say that I was ever going to quit riding gravel. No- I loved riding gravel roads. I likely would have kept doing those rides if I had gotten out of the scene in 2007, but I didn't. And besides the whole "being too busy" thing, why would I? Well, there was one thing I was thinking about here....

One of Jeff Kerkove's ride announcements.

You see, my feeling was that Jeff Kerkove was Trans Iowa. I was merely a helper alongside him for the event. At least that's how I viewed things for the first two events. But by 2007 I was picking up the slack that Jeff laid out, either by design or just by happenstance, and I became the de facto leader of Trans Iowa. Believe me, it wasn't my choice to be "The Man" for that event!

And when Jeff decided to take the job in Colorado with Ergon in late 2006, I kind of felt like he was also taking the gravel scene, such as it was, from the area as well. He pretty much was the instigator for any ride on gravel around here for the better part of two years. 

And me? I was 'nobody'. I was just a mechanic, in my mind, who had no business leading any ride, because I was no where near the caliber of rider that Jeff was, (and still is, by the way). So maybe I had a bad case of "Imposter Syndrome", or something, but that's the situation I was in back then. 

So, left to my own devices, between being "too busy", not being "good enough", and thinking this whole gravel thing was a bit goofy, I was ready to focus it all on my 29"er gig. But again, outside influences, like those of Jason, Jeff, and David Pals, changed all that. 

So, since I was able to rely on David as a resource for the route, there was a GTDRI in 2007. Of course, earlier I had intended for there to be a GTDRI #2, but as I said, it wasn't a done deal. After T.I.v3, I had reservations as I have stated. I didn't announce that there would be a GTDRI for sure until June of 2007. Early on I made a reference to having a course in mind, but I don't think this was the one David came up with. I think this was my idea which ended up becoming the 2009 GTDRI. 

One of three sections of Level B road that would become part of the T.I.v5 course which were in the '07 GTDRI.

Eventually David wanted to show me some of the course he had in mind for the 2007 GTDRI. I made some time in July and met David at Doose's Cafe in Marengo for breakfast. We then took to the gravel along the Iowa River Greenbelt. This was an area completely unfamiliar to me at that time, but an area I would become intimately familiar with in the years to come.

David was pretty chuffed to be able to show off some of the more rustic and gnarly roads he had discovered during his explorations on gravel. We came up on an old iron bridge not far West of Belle Plaine, which I need to go find again - if it still exists! Anyway, on from there were three short sections of some of the most crazy Level B Roads in Iowa.

David Pals checking his camera during the GTDRI recon for the 2007 ride.

I was simply amazed and excited about the roads that David was showing me. We ended up putting in a good amount of miles on a hot, sultry day, but even though I was exhausted by the end of it all, I think my passion for gravel riding was pumped up to a new level that day. Often times I wonder what I would have done had I not gotten that invitation from David to help with the '07 GTDRI. It was a pretty important time for me and my participation in the gravel scene from that point on. 

And because of that day, those sections of Level B road found there way into a future Trans Iowa. Much of the Iowa River Green Belt road system ended up becoming parts of various Trans Iowa routes as well. Belle Plaine featured in several Trans Iowa events afterward, and all because of this recon day back in 2007. 

It wouldn't be the last time a GTDRI inspired Trans Iowa routes either.

Next: The 2007 GTDRI

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Fire Testing

Back in late July I had made plans for an overnight gravel grind with my Black Mountain Cycles MCD and this rack I am testing for RidingGravel.com. I had everything ready to go. I had one week that would work for this trip. I had two opportunities that week to make a go of it, and wouldn't you know? Both times got taken out by unexpected responsibilities that took precedence over going on some gravel journey. 

That's life sometimes. Since then, my schedule has been so broken up into small bits of free time that I haven't been able to piece together a slot where an overnight trip would work out. And now it's October and time is running out for 2022.

So, I figured that since things didn't look to be changing with regard to my schedule anytime soon, nor did my responsibilities seem to be clearing up, I have to regroup and see what is actually possible. That would be an out-and-back "coffee in the woods" type of ride where I use this rack to haul out a picnic and stuff to make coffee. 

Okay, but that meant that I needed to test my penny stove out. So, I got my camp kit out, some alternative fuels, and decided to have a go at this in the back yard. The results were 'spectacular'.

Mt stove and camp cooking kit fits in this Ti cup.

The contents. That orange bag contains a Ti windshield and the stand is obscured by the bag there.

I cannot remember when or where I got this all titanium cook kit from, but it is branded "Toaks" and it seems to be pretty sweet for a minimalist kit. I only had to add my handmade from a beer can "penny stove", fuel, and fire source. 

The cup has fold-out handles and the spork is a folder too. It's all super-light in weight and obviously pretty durable. Now the system is supposed to work with thiose fire-brick doodads that you can get to use with some stoves, but I decided to use the more commonly sourced white gas fuel based stove idea which can run on various fuel sources. You may have heard about the "penny stove" idea, it is a cheap way to go and works a trick. Plus, the beer can stove I made weighs next to nothing. Actually, it might be a Coca Cola can.....whatever. It works. 

So, here's a look at the stove set up in action, and admittedly, its a bit of a kludge with that Titanium stand meant for a brick of fuel. The stand folds up nicely though, and since I have it, I'm trying to make it work. More on the whole stove/stand thing in a minute. 

First I wanted to share what I had going on for fuel here. This may sound a bit nuts, but I thought, "Why not try it?", and I went for it anyway. Here's my thought process: The pandemic made it so that hand sanitizer is everywhere, and now that we really don't use the stuff again, I've noted several places that have it sitting around their entry ways, on counters, or even for free in small sample sized containers. The stuff obviously is loaded with alcohol, so...... Hmmmm... 

I poured a bunch I had into the stove and lit it. The flame was weak and what's even more alarming, the flame was invisible. Duh! Alcohol burns that way, right? The hand sanitizer was off-gassing alcohol and that was all that was burning. Hmm.... No good!

Note: Ti windshield goes on first- THEN light the fire!
It was at about this point that I was becoming somewhat concerned for safety!

Well, I didn't have any white gas, but I did have a ton of charcoal starting fluid, so.... I put some in the penny stove, lit that sucker up, and boom! We had fire alright. Too much fire! I threw the windshield around the stove as best I could, and that concentrated the heat better. But that sanitizer stuff mixed with lighter fluid? 

Rocket fuel! 

I had a blaze going in a rage for at least five minutes. It was a bit surprising and I was concerned that things were getting out of hand for a bit there, but eventually it calmed down. 

I did get the water boiling alright!

So, success, but a measured success. I have to make a couple mods which I think might be conducive to a better, safer experience. One- That windshield needs to go on before I light the fire. I can get that thing on there so it will leave barely any space between the base and the cup on the stand. 

Secondly, I can shorten up my penny stove a bit, which would bring the cup down into the windshield more. Also- I've tried using the stand upside down, but my penny stove is jussssst too big to fit between the legs of the stand. But that would be a good set up if it worked. 

And, of course, I'll get some proper white gas for the next time! Otherwise even with this bodged set up I could have made coffee, if I didn't burn down the forest first! The water did actually boil, so there ya go! 

Anyway, there is my pyrotechnical side on display! I'll hopefully have used this set up soon and I will report again on how it all went. Stay tuned....

Friday, September 30, 2022

Friday News And Views

 The Ships Are Coming In:

I have mentioned before in this space that when the inventory hit the warehouses that we'd go from zero to overstocked in a big hurry. Well, it has started already. 

I have seen several sales promotions recently within the last two weeks, and I bet there will be many more on the heels of this starting now. (Ditto for other segments in the economy)

The image here is all taken from promotions I have seen online. 15% - 30% off is not uncommon to see, and I suspect that deals will be available throughout the Winter as bicycle season wanes in this hemisphere. The big question is, "Will there be any takers?" Inflation is eating up discretionary income at an alarming pace. Given that utilities and necessities to make it through Winter will likely be somewhat of a burden on many, I would be surprised if sales were anything but tepid. 

But I could be proven wrong there. Time will tell all.......

Apologies for making you read upside down!

New WTB Vulpine 700 X 40mm Tires;

 I guess no one noticed that the tire I used to demonstrate the tubeless mounting techniques I posted earlier this week was a new WTB Vulpine 700 X 40mm tire*. Well, I guess I slipped that one by y'all right out in the open! 

Anyway, yeah..... New tire day again and I always am excited to see how tires will turn out once they are mounted. The anticipation of the process, the outcome once I am done, and then that first ride. Good stuff! 

But I have to say that I was a bit deflated, (sorry for that pun!), by the tire as it was evident to me at the onset that the casing didn't look like a 40mm casing. It's funny when your mind and eyes can hone in on details after you've done something so many times. I just knew this tire would be a bit narrow, and once I had it on, (at 40psi, by the way), I was saddened to find that my suspicions were correct. This wasn't a 40mm tire. 

Now with a few days under the tires and a couple of short rides, one tire measures just shy of 40mm and the other just shy of 39mm. Ehhhh!  Yeah, close, but not quite. Quibbling over a millimeter? Yes. And what is more, the promise was 40mm. And maybe these will get there. We'll see. 

At least they are fast, supple, and smooth. I liked the 36mm Vulpines, and these should be a bit better. Still, I'd love a wider one of these. (*Standard Disclaimer)   

The new Litespeed Ultimate G2 frame Image courtesy of Litespeed

Excuse Me- GT Bikes Would Like To Have  A Word With You:

Litespeed made a splash this week with the introduction of a titanium ('natch!) frame which they dubbed the "Ultimate G2". A new platform which they claim is "..a bike that accelerated and climbed with the targeted stiffness found in premium carbon gravel bikes.."

Whoa! Big claim there. So what did they do? Well, Litespeed says that; "It starts with the new visual signature of the Ultimate G2: Interlock Dropped Seatstays." What's that mean? Well, just think of GT Bikes' "Triple Triangle" design and you'll be there. That's really all this is. Also- I am not claiming GT developed the design first. I realize that others did a similar thing as well previous to GT Bikes. That said, it was GT that made hay with this and put the design on the map.

Look familiar? Image courtesy of Litespeed

Comments: So, how does a triple triangle thing make a bike stiffer? It effectively shortens the top tube and seat tube, thereby making those lengths of tubing less flexible than they would have been. 

This should make the rider 'feel' faster because the tubing will be less effective at absorbing vibrations than it would have been without the triple triangle deal, and let's face it- what a rider feels has a lot more to do with 'speed' than the stopwatch does. (Cue high tire pressure believers here)

Not only does this new Litespeed bike have the ol' Triple Triangle' signature here, but they have some pretty backward geometry going on as well. Larger sizes have less than 70mm of bottom bracket drop, a 72° head tube angle, and 50mm of fork offset. Wow! Talk about a 2015 gravel bike design, this is it in spades. 

But it will sell and some folks will think it is the bee's knees. Ride on then.....

British Gravel Ride Book:

I know that this has been out a while now, but I just came across it on social media of late and thought I'd get a few opinions from my U.K. readers on what they thought about this. 

So, what does the "greatest gravel rides in the U.K." even mean? How do you contextualize this thought?  Well, for me it starts out by knowing that the U.K. is 1.7 times larger than Iowa. Okay, we have about 70,000 miles of gravel and dirt roads here. According to what I can find on Google, the UK has approximately 33.528+ miles of unpaved roads. I'm not sure that is close, but that's still a LOT of unpaved road ways. To distill that down to "great gravel rides" in one book? I don't think that's an easy task. But you folks in the U.K. know better than I.

I think it would be fun to go find out though! I'll have to see to it before I get to aged to pedal! 

That's a wrap for this week! October starts this weekend! Wow! better get out and ride before Winter comes!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Guitar Ted's How To: The Rim Taping Reference Post

Okay! You asked for it, now you got it! (Well, a couple of you asked for this) This stems from the comments from my last "How To" post. Anyway, this post will be a reference post more than anything since I have written a bunch already on tubeless tire taping procedures and how I do this.

As with anything, quality materials are everything when it comes to successful outcomes. So, make sure you use a tubeless rim and really high quality rim tape with great valves. Never assume that you can get away with using a not-for-tubeless rim, a duct tape variant, or old, used up valves. 

Want to save money? That's cool. We all do. Read THIS POST for great tips on how to get high-quality rim tape or sealant for your set up. Make sure you read the comments at the bottom for more great tips. 

Side Note: If you are re-using a tire with a lot of old sealant in it, READ THIS POST for tips on how to remove old sealant. 

For more on the preparation of you tire, rim tape installation, and valve core tips, read THIS POST. This is an over-all look at tubeless tire set-up, but the rim taping thing is in there.

More Tips:

Actually putting tape on a rim is an arduous task. My number one tip is to get prepped properly (cleaned rim, great tape, right tools) and use plenty of patience. Taping two rims is not a race. The ordinary rider should expect this to take up to and over a half an hour of your time. I know mechanics that will scoff at that, but they do things trying to be fast and efficient. People that are not mechanics don't have that constraint or need. Take your time taping and get it right.

Tools: I'll say it- a truing stand is your best friend here. You can tape a rim "free style", out of a bike, and you can tape a rim in a bike with it upside down on the floor. But a truing stand, properly affixed to a bench, makes taping a rim waaaaay easier. Obviously a truing stand is good for more than this, so seriously consider that as an upgrade to your shop. 

Technique: The next big thing to add here is technique, and what I do is almost impossible without a truing stand, that's why I recommend a truing stand for your personal shop. I pull the tape gently with my right hand and hold the starting end down with my left thumb in the inner rim well. I pull maybe three inches, carefully align it, and pull it down toward the rim well. At the same time I start sliding my left thumb downward, but this is tricky as you have to not let the wheel rotate. 

Once I lay the tape down on the rim then I use my left thumb or I'll use my right forefinger to press the tape down starting at the furthest point from the roll and working toward the roll. I only push it down in the center of the tape. I don't bother worrying about the edges until later. 

I always put two laps of tape down on a rim. This is to help the tape withstand air pressure at the spoke holes. You could also use something like these Velocity Rim Plugs which would do the same thing. Another product that aims to alleviate the same problem is the WTB Solid Strip. By using these you might get away with one run of rim strip. However; I'd still use two runs of tape, because saving whatever weight using one run would give you, it is not worth it. 

Rim tape should be wide enough that it covers up to where the bead of the tire will sit at a minimum and up to the rim's inner edge if at all possible. Never try overlapping tape to make it "wide enough". Get the right width rim tape instead. 

Other than that, I always start taping at the point 180° from the valve stem. I've seen tape jobs that start near the valve stem, but in my opinion this invites a possible failure. Tape ends are prone to lifting and letting sealant seep between layers of tape or the tape and the rim well. If this occurs near a valve stem, a perfect place for pressure to escape, then you have a big problem. So, why not avoid that possibility and start your tape end at a point the furthest away from that big hole in the rim for the valve? 

That's it. Did I miss anything you wanted to know? (Don't forget to check the links!) Hit me up in the comments.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

650B For Gravel: Dead, Dying, Or Dormant?

Back in 2016 WTB shocked the gravel world with the "Road Plus" idea. It was a 650B sized tire, but not in the traditional 42mm size. This tire was a 47mm width and brought with it more volume than the skinnier 650B tires did for road bikes. 

The first tire they debuted, the Horizon, was a slick tire, but it did okay on gravel. Then the Byway came along, and the Venture, and the Sendero. Meanwhile, other brands jumped onboard. Panaracer, Terrene, IRC, and others all started offering 650B X 47-50mm tires. 

The gravel bicycle manufacturers responded with advertising for swappable wheel sizes. Salsa Cycles Journeyman was sold with either wheel size, as an example. Other brands advertised their versatility in that they could support 650B wheels.

Wheel manufacturers came onboard, of course, and many company's press releases contained new information on wheels including that smaller diameter wheel, the 650B size. But in the last few years, the heat for 650B has seemed to cool off some. I've noted less tire news. I've noted fewer 650B alternative choices in wheel news. I've noted less talk about 650B in new bicycle introductions as well. 

My old T-6 Standard Rando with 650B Terrene tires.
Now, we have to take things in some context here. The past two-plus years we've seen economic weirdness. Supply chain issues still persist, and those issues certainly have affected the more niche categories of cycling than others. So, we can probably point to the pandemic as a reason we are not seeing more 650B news. 

That said, I still find it odd that the marketing talk has cooled way off for 650B. I'm not sure we can read a lot into that just yet, and more time will be needed to really get a handle on what is up with this wheel size. 

However; if I had to make a comment on where I thought 650B was in terms of relevancy to gravel/backroad riding right now, I would say that 650B is definitely waning in popularity. At least on the high-end, and on the OEM side. There are riders committed to the size, I am sure of that, and I don't think that this tire size will go away for gravel, but I also do not think it will be as prominent or an option many times going into the future. 

I do think 650B has a place in cycling. Rando riders like that size. Smaller statured folk need that size. So, I think the 650B wheel has its place, but I also believe that most adult humans should ride the biggest wheel available for their size, and for most of us that is 700c right now. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Guitar Ted's How-To: Mounting Tubeless Tires

 I'm going to start sharing some tips from time to time in a series I'll call "Guitar Ted's How-To". This time I am going to share with you how I mount tubeless tires. 

Now, this isn't the only way to do things. It is the way I do things. So, I'm not implicating anyone else's techniques as being "less than good", bad, or great. Nope! This is how I do it. If you can draw anything good from this, then great.

I will say that I've been a bicycle mechanic off and on for the better part of 30 years and a car mechanic for five and a half years. So, in my opinion I will tell you that this way works well. It's not the only way to mount tubeless tires, but I think it is the easiest way. 

Before You Start: I've done hundreds of tubeless tire set-ups over the last 10+ years. I've made a ton of mistakes. So, when I say "do this before you start.", it probably is me telling you, "Hey! I've tried skipping this step. Don't do it!". But - ya know- I can't make you do anything here. Just don't complain to me when things go pear-shaped on you. 

Use a quality sealant and make sure it is fresh.
Use New Tubeless Compatible Components Wherever Possible: Obviously not everyone can use new stuff, but I will tell you NOT to use non-tubeless stuff. We used to have to do this. Now there is no reason at all to use non-tubeless tires, rim strips, sealant, or rims. It's BEST not to re-use valve stems, old tape jobs, old tires, and old sealant. At a minimum, you should use NEW sealant, NEW valves, and re-tape your rims. Not doing that means a BIG chance for a failure resides in your wheel like a ticking time bomb. 

If you try to re-use old stuff, and there is a failure, you can almost bet it is because your tape failed, a stem leaks due to corrosion, or the sealant was too old. Rarely is it anything else. Well......unless you did something wrong or you punctured beyond the sealant's abilities to repair the leak. 

  • Tools & Supplies: With that out of the way, you need to use the following items:
  • Work gloves- preferably those annoying, tight fitting rubber ones. 
  • Safety glasses 
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Rags or Shop Towels
  • Plastic injector tool or a small scoop.
  • Valve Core removal tool
  • A really good floor pump (One of those tubeless compatible ones is even better)
  • Sealant
  • Tires
  • Tubeless Rim Tape (If you haven't done it already. Taping is a separate task from this post, so I won't get into it here. Skip if this is a new wheel with a new tape job..)
  • New valves, or at least new valve cores.

Not necessary, but it would make life easier: A small air compressor, a bicycle repair stand, and a truing stand. 

Procedure: I will assume that you've thoroughly cleaned the rim's inner well and that it is free from dirt, adhesive, old tape, and that you cleaned that inner rim well with isopropyl alcohol. I assume then that you installed a quality tubeless compatible rim tape that is appropriately sized for your rims. I also am assuming you are using new valve stems, or at least good valve stems with NEW CORES. 

Now that is a LOT of assuming, and you know what that makes me then right? Okay, carrying on then....

Make sure that your tires do not have big patches of dried up sealant sticking in one end of the tire, and clean off the bead seat, making sure there is no layer of dried sealant sticking to the bead area at all. The rest of the inner tire carcass? I don't care what you do there, just don't leave anything on the bead area or anything in there that could cause a wheel imbalance at high speeds. Best to use NEW tires, but again- not everyone can afford that.

Tire Orientation: This is EASY to miss and get wrong, so pay attention closely to how your tire is supposed to be mounted.  Most tires are "directional", meaning that they are intended to be rotated in one direction for best results. This will be indicated in tiny, hard to read lettering which is molded into the tire sidewall. Sometimes all you get is an arrow. Sometimes words AND an arrow. Just pay attention to this,or you may be sorry later.

For further instructions, read on and refer to the following images.... 

Here is where you start, and if you do it this way, you should not need to use a tool to mount your tires. Place the new tubeless compatible tire so that your wheel rests inside the casing. It should look like this image to the left all the way around. 

Now you can double check your correct rotating direction. Then align the branding patch, or "hot patch" as I was told to do this many years ago, so that it aligns with your valve stem. Yes.....it is a meaningless "Pro" thing to do, only it isn't meaningless and there is a very practical reason for doing this. I don't have the time to get into all of that here. You can accept that or not, but there is a reason for this to be done.

Okay, now you can start moving one side of the tire up and over the rim and into the rim well. I like to start at the valve stem to make sure the tire sits in between the butt end of valve stem and the inner rim wall. Then, look at that grip I use to the left there. This is THE grip you want to use with BOTH hands. (I had to use one to take the image, so....)

Use your thumbs to push the tire up and over, starting with your hands together at the valve stem and working outwards and downwards to the "six o'clock" position as the wheel sits. Use your grip with your other fingers and your palm as a foundation for your thumbs to work from. 

The tire bead can sit in the inner part of the inner rim well which will make this side of the tire easier to get on the rim. Now you are ready to work on the opposite side.


Using The Grip, shown in the previous step, you can again start at the valve stem, making sure the tire bead is exactly in between the valve stem in there and the rim edge. If the tire bead sits up on the valve stem, or if you get two beads on one side of a valve stem, (don't ask.) you may not notice this and setting up the tire will become impossible. So, pay attention here! 

Work the bead of that tire up and over the rim edge using 'The Grip' . You may actually now want to fold the tire over the rim, (see top image in this section), which will allow you maximum grip on the tire, and maximum leverage over that bead. You still want to use your thumbs to push up and over, but by rotating that tire carcass over the rim, you will gain an advantage. 

The next image shows how I stand and use my leg to brace off of as I use my two hands to push the tire over the rim edge. (Again, only showing one hand here as I had to take the image with the other) Now, it is important to note that I do not mount the entire tire. I leave a little bit out over the rim edge and then I inject sealant. You can go ahead and put the tire all the way on here. Sealant can be introduced through the valve with the core removed, but I've found that method to be less than satisfactory for a few reasons. So, I don't do that. 

I use this cheap but effective injection tool.

The red arrows indicate the space I leave to inject sealant into the tire.

Sealant installed and now I am ready to seat the remaining portion of the tire.

A couple of notes on the images above. First, I have gravitated to these smaller, more nimble, but very effective plastic injectors meant for veterinary usage. They have a nipple perfectly sized to fit into a valve with the core removed, fit inside wheel's space between the hub and rim well at full extension, and have excellent sealing properties as far as the plunger goes. This makes these great at sucking up sealant when I want to recover it from a tire I am removing.

The plastic tub is where I keep recovered sealant. While I recommend that you use new sealant, I switch out at least a couple of pairs of tires every month, sometimes more than that. So, it makes sense for me to keep the "old" sealant and reuse it. You? I'm guessing you don't change tubeless tires very often. 

By the way, I use about 100ml of sealant in a gravel tire. Use whatever sealant you believe in. Most are pretty darn good. I use WTB's stuff nowadays. 

Yes, I used an image twice. Deal with it!

That final bit of tire can now be pushed up and over the rim edge and you'll probably have to fold that tire over hard to get it to go. Your thumbs may hate you, but you will be successful without using a tool, and not using a tool is better because it means that you pretty much cannot damage the rim tape, tire, or rim. 

Now you can air up the tire. You may be really lucky and just be able to use a floor pump. You may need to remove the valve core and use a floor pump.These two scenarios are what I see from my experience 90% of the time now. The other ten percent I need a blast from an air compressor, but that is getting more and more rare now days. 

Once you get ALL the tire bead up and into its position on the rim, you are set to go for a short ride to help seal the tire to the rim. It takes about 15 minutes, and then you are good to go. Clean up the tire and rim with isopropyl alcohol and a rag when you are done.

Final notes: Loud snapping and popping when the tire is being aired up is normal. You may think it is a violent, scary sound, (and it is), but it is okay. This is just the bead of the tire finally snapping up into the shelf on the rim's inner wall where it belongs. You can check for this after you think you are finished by spinning the wheel and watching the line where the tire and rim edge meet. There should be a fine, molded in line on the tire sidewall visible at an equidistant point from the rim edge all the way around on both sides. If the tire is not correctly seated, this will appear - or rather disappear- as the wheel spins, as a low spot in the tire. You just need a bit more air pressure to POP! that out. 

The red arrows point to the "line" I am referring to in the previous paragraph.

Typically I find that tires will sit into place at about 40psi. However; sometimes I have had to go as high as 50+ psi, but those times are getting rarer as tubeless stuff gets more dialed in. Oh, and if you had to remove the valve core, make sure you don't let all the air out. Be like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike until you get the core snuck back up in there. Snug the core up- don't crank on it. Refill to the desired pressure. Ride.... 

Hmm.... I think that's about it. Got questions? Have ideas for other posts like this? let me know in the comments, please.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Gravel History With Guitar Ted; Night Nonsense

This event was tough on equipment
 Last week I mentioned in my last "Gravel History With Guitar Ted" that I had done an event called "Night Nonsense". It being the other night based gravel grinder that I had done. This was an event put on by then World of Bikes mechanic, Adam Blake, out of Iowa City. The event was only ever run once and that was back in 2010.

This was still back in the times where we all were eager to go try other events and especially Iowa based events, because there weren't many back then. Adam was putting this on in the traditional "grassroots" way with zero entry fee and a very homespun approach. If I recall correctly, we actually left on this adventure from his place in Iowa City. If it wasn't his place it was someone elses house, because I recall being in a garage prior to leaving on this really wild adventure. 

I used the Gen I Fargo on this ride, and as I detailed in my post about lighting, my lights were really not very effective. Add in that it rained the entire time I was out, and that was for eight hours, and you can see why this event was a testament to perseverance in many ways. Lighting was certainly one of those areas I was challenged in. 

Ron Saul and Mike Johnson prepare for some "nonsense" on gravel at night.

 I don't have any images from the actual event. I was either battling navigation issues, blinding rain, or fatigue. Fortunately, I wrote a ride report that helped me recall details and, for some reason, I have this way of remembering road names. That odd 'superpower' I have allowed me to somewhat help with this story to tell you about where I was on this ride. 

This bit of Johnson County map to the left shows some of the roads we took back then out of Iowa City to the Northwest. We used a LOT of blacktop roads. Gravel roads we used were Jordan Creek Road, Quincy Road, and then we got dumped on HWY 1 into Solon and that ended up becoming a real mess. 

By this time into the event I think I'd been off-course three times and I was dealing off-and-on with a few foreign speaking riders who were being followed around by a support car, (very uncool), and were more lost than I was. Being that this was a self-supported event, the entire vibe surrounding this group of folks was off-putting to me, so I was in a big hurry to ditch them off as soon as possible. This part of the event also marked the heaviest rain and lightning part of the event as well. I remember now, it was really crazy!

But reading my report, I had forgotton all about being on Seven Sisters Road and eventually coming into an aid station promised on the route. As far as I can figure now, in 2022, this was in an area of confusing streets in an area called "Western College". Not only that, but some police activity and an automobile accident only added to the surreal nature of things. 

Leaving the aid station, I came across a burning car! Wow! Somehow I do not recall that. (Good thing I write this blog!) That makes this likely the most wild, crazy gravel event I've done right there. But wait......it gets weirder! 

I recall a bunch more pavement crossing I-380, it seems, and then I definitely recall going right by the Eastern Iowa Airport with all of their runway lights blazing in the night. That was quite a spectacle, and this road made me feel as though I was trespassing on airport property. Whether or not that was a fact, I still do not know now. 

After the airport I recall going through Swisher, Iowa, which is a small village I lived in back in the very early 1990's. A place from which I used to ride gravel roads to the Amana Colonies and back on occasion. Well, this route took me on some of those same roads. That was a fun part of this event.

Getting to the Amana Colonies at night, after 2:00am, and with not a soul in sight, was something else I will always have a sharp memory of. All the lights were on in the streets, businesses were lit, signs were on, but no one was there. It was like an empty movie set. Actually, I was a bit creeped out by this, and since the event was in late October, all the more so. 

Then it was across the Interstate on busy HWY 151 to a hard left on 160th Street, a Level B Maintenance road which, after all the rain, was a quagmire of clay and mud. Of course, I was forced to walk the distance of approximately two miles to the next stretch of gravel. This is a remote, forsaken bit of Iowa with no residences on it until you get closer to gravel on the Eastern side. 

As I approached the first home I'd seen since leaving HWY151, a chorus of howling dog's voices split the silence asunder and scared me half out of my wits. It was closing in on 4:00am, after having left the start at 8:00pm, and I was delirious with fatigue and pain by this point in the event. So that whole road traverse and then the dogs wailing, yeah.... Just a crazy ride!

The Fargo just before we loaded it up to go home.

I found a van full of guys about this time and they were with the the event. They were out feeding riders pizza and beers and sort of doing ride recon for the event. Apparently, I had been missing on their 'radar' for a bit and was supposedly the last guy out there yet. Everyone behind me had retired and most of the others had finished. 

I bailed at this point when I found out everyone else I was with had finished already. To make them wait in wet clothing in chilly temperatures for me to finish in a couple more hours seemed pretty selfish of me. And I'd had enough adventure for the evening anyway. So, I climbed in the van and went back to the start. 

So, there's some more of the story there I hadn't told all of about this event. It was a pretty good event, which could have gotten better with refinements, but it wasn't to be. I thought we had run through some pretty interesting territory and some ideas for future Trans Iowa events were actually spawned by what I'd seen of the territory we were on. 

I thought that there were just too many paved roads, but in this part of Iowa, the I-380 corridor, it's tough to get much of the gravel to connect for a paved-free route. I recall that this was more of an issue getting into and out of Iowa City, and once we had escaped that we were in areas where gravel wasn't hard to find. 

I found traces of clay and dirt from this ride stuck on the Fargo Gen I for years after Night Nonsense was over.

This event and the "Moonlight Metric" seemed to my mind to be really unique, fun events that could have had a place in the gravel scene yet today. But for whatever reasons, I just don't see a lot of night time gravel options. Maybe I'm the weird one, but that seems off to me. 

The "Night Nonsense" and "Moonlight Metric" were two unique Iowa gravel events that disappeared far too early. 2010-2012 were years where I felt like Iowa was going to put itself on the map as 'The Gravel Road Riding Capitol", but the opposite occurred and for many years Iowa was far behind the neighboring states in terms of quality gravel event choices. That has always baffled me, because Iowa has some of the craziest, toughest, and most scenic gravel anywhere, but it is what it is. 

Fortunately Iowa has caught up in the 2020's with nice gravel events and hopefully that stays that way for years to come. But c'mon! this whole nigh time gravel deal is a thing! Let's go!