Thursday, September 23, 2021

Fall Views: GTDR/ToBHC - Part Four

Headed North to end this loop.
 With the end of the Level B dirt road section on 110th, I was now taking a right hand turn to go North to finish off circumnavigating Black Hawk County.  This road turned into Grundy Road, the Black Hawk County border, within about a mile. So it would be straight up this for thirteen miles before I would turn left on Ridgeway. 

I tried to count off ten miles to get me to my first rest stop, but with a few sections not having gravel crossings at every mile, and with Black Hawk Creek cutting across my path, I lost count and I ended up going to a point seven miles up the road and resting by the bridge. Then I got back on and saw something that gave me a bit of concern. A "Road Closed Ahead" sign!

I didn't come all this way to be thwarted by a road being out!

This was about as bad as it got, so I made it through.
I decided to forge ahead and see if I could finagle my way around or through whatever it was that was going on out here. I then vaguely recalled that some development for a warehouse or something was happening out this way, but I don't recall the details anymore. Whatever! I made it through, although it looks as though we stand to lose several miles of gravel due to whatever is happening out there. 

Now I was at Ridgeway, a busy section of paved road due to its connections and proximity to HWY20, and I had pretty much run out of gas again. I needed a rest stop, but not at that insanely busy corner with cars and trucks rushing by. I needed to go one mile West to take in the 'notch' in Black Hawk County's border with Grundy County. Then I rode about a half mile North and took another break. My legs were shot by this point. Resting helped, but after six to seven miles, I felt my legs screaming and they were weak. So, another six or so miles later, I stopped near the intersection with Beaver Valley Road. 

Of course, the gravel was unrelenting toward the end.

I was having to stop more than I wanted to, and the temptation to take a nap was overwhelming, but I didn't do that. I resisted as best I could. I had come this far and I was going to push through, no matter what. Eating some pretzels didn't seem to help at this juncture. Water wasn't a concern. I had plenty right up until the last miles. Fortunately, I never cramped, but I was tired. Really tired! 

And even though I was stopping more, I still had 'time in the bank' too. I was going to probably come in well ahead of 5:00pm, so I could take my time here and just do what I could in smaller chunks. It was tough to accept that I had so few miles to knock out but I did not have the energy to attack it and knock them out in one sitting anymore.

Cows at pasture.

Getting close now! That's the water tower for Waverly, Iowa off in the distance.

At one point,after dragging myself off the grassy ditch, I saw two cyclists approach me on fat bikes. I gave a wave and they returned it, but they turned to head East down some pavement and never did go by me. Probably a good thing. I was not in any condition for cheery conversations just then!

Off up another hill and now through Finchford, which seemed desolate. I had to stop for a 'nature break' on the West Fork road, but soon I was off again and up into Bremer County as I had to navigate around the Shell Rock River. I reached a corner, just down from a picturesque farm, and threw myself into the grass. I was spent. Down the road, at the farm, a dog was going berserk because of my presence. 

Finally I said out loud to the dog,(but of course, the dog could not hear me), "Okay, okay! I'm going to move on!", as if this dog was urging me on to finish. I actually trudged up the road about a quarter of a mile by foot, pushing my bicycle. I figured moving was better than sitting, or worse, sleeping. Finally I shook myself to my senses thinking that it was madness to walk when I had a perfectly good biccyle to ride. So, I mounted up.

Crossing the Shell Rock River- almost done!

Crossing the Cedar River and to the finish!

There was something that happened right then. I have heard it described as 'the horse smelling the barn'. The sense that I was almost there conjured up every last bit of power I had and I completed the ride without stopping from that point. It didn't even really hurt that much!

I rolled in with a time of ten hours, twenty minutes for the 112.1 mile route. The circumnavigation of Black Hawk County was complete! It was ten after four in the afternoon. (Note- I started at 5:50am) So, I beat my goal and despite a not very pretty end, I was finished. 

I know that is not very 'fast' as racers could probably do this route in far less than ten hours, but that wasn't the point. I was not out for a race. I was out for the challenge and the idea of riding 'around' the county by bicycle. Did it live up to my 'death ride' ideals? Totally. I felt completely 100% spent afterward. So, in terms of my goals and desires for this ride, it was 100% success. 

Thank you for putting up with this tale this week. Tomorrow I return with my traditional 'FN&V'.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Fall Views: GTDR/ToBHC - Part 3

A field of harvested corn off Mc Chane Road.
Now I was headed, mostly, West as the North and East sides of Black Hawk County had been traversed. I decided on the 'North' route option instead of the South one to get from Black Hawk/Buchanan Road to La Porte City. The two options were similar, but the North route had .3m more gravel and was 1.3m shorter in distance overall. The main thing for me was the route staying inside Black Hawk County instead of getting into Buchanan and Benton Counties. 

I rolled into La Porte with 55 miles under my wheels at 10:30am. Pretty good time and an hour in the bank against my time limitation of 5:00pm. I decided not to go to the convenience store and instead I stopped at the gazebo on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail to rest and swap out clothing. 

By this time it was pretty warm, and a vest wasn't needed. I took that off and rolled it up and stowed it in the frame bag. Then I sat down to munch another half of a PB&J along with a few Dot's pretzel sticks and water. Meanwhile a group of cyclists came up the CVNT and rolled into the gazebo where I was sitting. These were recreational cyclists out for fun. Some of them recognized me as that "legendary gravel guy". I retorted back saying, "Well, I am either legendary or an idiot. One or the other!". This brought a round of "Oh no! You aren't an idiot!", until one of them piped up and said, "Maybe you are just a legendary idiot". 

Fair enough. 

All in good jest there, no offense taken or given. I then packed up my stuff, popped on my helmet, and headed off to hit up Reinbeck Road and a big push Westward. The Sun was riding high now, and the wind, which had come up before I started going West, was out of the Southeast. So it was a quartering tailwind. That was nice! 

Head West. Looking up Reinbeck Road.
Some bridge construction on Kimball Avenue near the intersection with Reinbeck Road.

Unfortunately Reinbeck Road was a complete mess of fresh, deep gravel. It was as bad as it was when I started the ride back near Janesville. The deep gravel was taxing my legs and the heat was getting hotter. I also had been distracted by the group back in La Porte and I had forgotten to take some ibuprofen and electrolyte tablets I meant to take. The ibuprofen to deaden my left shoulder pain, brought on by the rough, deep gravel, and the electrolyte tabs because I was sweating a lot by this point into the ride. 

I knew there was a good place to stop at the intersection of Reinbeck Road and Ansborough Road. That's where I stopped and downed the pills and took a bit of a rest from the hard pedaling through all the fresh gravel. Once I left that spot the gravel let up a bit and it was more typical roadway for several miles, which I welcomed. Now I was getting into the Southwestern corner of my route. Here I had to make a detour into Tama County so as to avoid some paved roads. This allowed for a trek through the three straight miles of Level B Road on 110th. 

 A field harvested and worked up already- and there is the rig doing the work off in the distance!
Near to the end of the three miles of Level B Road on 110th in Tama County.

The plan was to stop and eat my last half of peanut butter and jelly sandwich on one of those three miles of dirt. I also ended up taking off my bandana from my head and my Sun-sleeves. It was beastly hot by this point. Like Summer-time, really hot! Worse than Gravel Worlds had been this year. I didn't bother to look at my phone to check the weather then, but later on I found out it had reached the 90's! From 40° to over 90°! No wonder I was cooking! What a wild swing in temperatures. 

But the good news was that I had reached this end of the course by noon. I had 35 miles to go and five hours to get it done before my time limit! I must have been pushing it really hard on Reinbeck Road and not realized how hard I was going. I had bagged another 30 minutes since leaving La Porte City. Crazy! No wonder I felt cooked.

So, I came up with a plan. I needed to break this down into chunks. I decided I would go ten miles and rest. That meant I would have three chances to stop before the end. Okay, let's put this to bed then! 

Next: Part four, and the final chapter to the GTDR/ToBHC story.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Fall Views: GTDR/ToBHC - Part 2

Stopped for a 'Nature Break'
 Now with the Sun up, there was that time which many call 'The Golden Hour' when you get that fantastic light for taking images. With zero cloud cover, I was snapping off pics like crazy. It was just too good not to be doing that. 

I also had to find a suitable place for a 'nature break'. Finally I found a secluded area once I got off the first stretch of pavement I had to insert into the route. While I don't like having to deal with traffic, I had gotten an early enough start that the paved roads were fairly desolate. 

At this point I was fairly concerned about making good time, so I quickly ate the half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I packed for myself, (one half of three halves), and I moved onward after a few minutes. It was still cold, and everything was covered in dew, so now my feet were soaked too. Great! Freezing feet and damp socks. Perfect! But there was nothing I could do about that except to get back on my horse and work again. 

Thousands of these migrating birds were everywhere around at one point on the route.

Just down the road from where I had stopped for my break, near the corner of Pace Road and East Gresham Road, I saw thousands of birds. I am not sure what kind they were. They sounded like red winged blackbirds, but I couldn't tell in the low angle of early morning light. At any rate, it was an amazing experience to see flocks numbering in the thousands as they flew all around me for the space of a half mile or so. 

Now I was working the route South and I knew the roads around here well. The gravel was better too, so I started to put more time in the bank. It wouldn't be long before I would get to Jesup and my first planned resupply stop of the day. 

This barn is worse off than last yer. It won't be there for long.

Another 'nature break' stop provided this view.

I made it to Jesup and stopped at the Casey's General Store there to resupply on water and grab something to eat. I ended up with a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese breakfast sandwich and water. I also snagged a bag of Dot's Pretzel sticks for the road later on down the line. I made pretty quick work of the stop and was out of there in less than ten minutes. 

Then it was a big section of pavement to get to Spring Creek Road, which itself was paved for a couple of miles before it went to gravel. Spring Creek Road would get me down to where I had to cross Interstate 380 on pavement, which just so happened to be on the Black Hawk/Buchanan County line.

People that leave heaters on the ledges outside of convenience stores- Stop it already!

The Shady Grove store on Spring Creek Road

I decided to take the "Northerly Route" once I had the East side of Black Hawk County traversed instead of taking road out into Buchanan County which was paved. Then I would have had a gravel South to the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and I would have then gone Westward to La Porte City. Instead, I went down the paved portion of Black Hawk/Buchanan Road till it went left and I continued straight on the gravel portion of Black Hawk/Buchanan until I reached the intersection with McChane Road and thus ended my Southward crossing of Black Hawk County. 

These semi-tractor trailers were off-loading freshly picked corn. The harvest has started!

A roadside marker on Black Hawk/Buchanan Road

So by now the Sun was fully up and it was much warmer than it had been. I was thinking of stopping to get off my vest but I was so near to La Porte City that I just wanted to get the section over with and deal with all the clothing swapping out there. This would also bring up the next, and final, resupply chance, but I wasn't blasting through the water and I probably wouldn't need any by the time I reached town, a mere 22 miles down the road. 

Next: The South border traverse on my GTDR/ToBHC in Part 3

Monday, September 20, 2021

Fall Views: GTDR/ToBHC - Part 1

Getting an early start
 I had been planning on a big ride for quite some time. I wrote about the route here before, calling it "The Tour of Black Hawk County". That was back in July, but those plans had to be put on hold when I decided I needed to focus in on Gravel Worlds preparations. 

Of course, I would need to recover from the 116 miles I got in at Gravel Worlds, so I planned on maybe getting at this ToBHC idea in a couple of weeks after that. But things didn't pan out for me to get to the route until this past weekend when everything came together for an attempt. I also decided that this would be my "GTDR" for the year. (Guitar Ted Death Ride)

When I say "everything came together" to get this done, I mean that. In the sense of getting the time away from the family, which was foremost of the things I needed to have happen, and in the sense of some testing for as well. Then there was the weather. Leading up to last weekend the forecast looked great. Not too hot, decent winds, and most importantly - no rain. So about a week and a half ago I pulled the trigger on September 18th as being the target date for the GTDR/ToBHC ride. 

I was excited. I really had been looking forward to getting this route done for a long time and I had a certain disquiet in my soul over not having gotten around to it in July and August. But I suppose that only forged my resolve deeper and stronger for actually getting the entire route completed. I am thankful for that, because, as you will see, it took everything I had to make the day a success. 

As the day approached, I made final preparations. I was going to take the Noble Bikes GX5 and a couple of test items for Riding Gravel showed up in time to get installed on the bike. Then I looked at the weather. What?!! The low temperature at around the time I wanted to get going was to be 40 degrees?!! It hadn't been that cold for months! But to compound matters, the temperature was to rise up into the low 80's by afternoon. Wow! Did that ever change my plans for what I was going to wear! I would need to ward off early morning cold and be prepared for Summer-like afternoon temperatures! 

With all of that lead-up to this 'event', I did the best I could and I set a start time of 6:00am, which meant I would need lights for the first hour of the ride. My goal was to finish by 5:00pm or sooner. So, with all of that, I set the alarm for 5:00am and laid my clothes out the night before so I could vamoose as soon as possible the next morning. 

Morning blushes as I head East on the GTDR/ToBHC route

Not a cloud in the sky. It would remain this way all day.

I ate a small breakfast and got going early as I ended up waking up at 4:40am instead. I made it to my starting point, which was the City Park in Janesville, Iowa, at the Northwestern end of Black Hawk County. The plan was to take the county line road East, and in this way I figured that I would get a treat of watching the Sun rise. 

There is something about getting up and starting a ride before dawn that I love. I don't do this enough, but I was sure glad I did for this ride because the morning was about as perfect as one could ask for visually. Not a cloud in sight, no wind at all, and the only 'bad' thing was how cold it was. It was really cold! I barely had enough on and riding hard would be the only way I would get warmth in the body. The County maintainer made sure I had plenty of adversity to force me to ride hard too, because the opening miles were on deep, fresh gravel. It was really tough sledding in the dark. 

Eventually there was enough light to grab some scenery shots

The anticipation of the Sun coming up was high. I needed warmth!

The roads were tough. I had a big problem finding any line, and this loose, deep gravel was really working my legs. Fortunately, as I said, there was zero wind to contend with at this point. Had there been any wind at all, especially a headwind of some sort, I would have been in deep trouble as far as finishing the route. I had to burn a lot of matches just to keep up an average speed which would get me to Janesville again by 5:00pm. 

Juuust about there!

And there She is!

By the time the Sun had come up I was working the Northerly bits and was now getting closer to the Northeastern reaches of the county. Finally the roads out here relented with the fresh stuff and I was starting to find some good lines. The route had gone pretty much straight East by this point with only one turn South of a mile, then off Eastward again. Now I would find myself on some pavement for a bit as I worked around the disruptions to "The Grid" caused by the Wapsipinnicon River. 

After a slow-ish start, due to the fresh, deep gravel, I was starting to gain some 'time-in-the-bank' towards my goal of finishing by 5:00pm. I had no computer on my bike, by the way, since my GPS has been smashed. So, I was navigating by my cue sheets I had made and paying attention to the signs on the corners. I knew the roads well enough from having done "The Quest" last year, so mileage to turns wasn't all that important. I did have mileage listed on the cues though, so I could mark my progress against time, which I had available via the Apple Watch on my wrist. 

Finally I started moving South, as I had reached, pretty much, the far Northeastern corner of Black Hawk County. One side of the county was done! Now onward.......

Tomorrow: Part two of my GTDR/ToBHC

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Saturday Randomonium

 NOTE: Okay folks, if you haven't been around long enough here to know what a "Randomonium" post is, then here is the deal. I ramble, rant, and randomly moan about all things cycling in one, incohesive, bizarre post. "Randomonium", okay? (Although it could be argued that today's post is more about gravel stuff than anything resembling 'randomness'.)

Whiskey Parts Co. Spanos Bar:

Wednesday of this past week we found out about the new Whiskey Parts Co. Spanos drop bar. It is carbon fiber with a flattened tops section for comfort and a unique compound flare in the drops section. 

The bar will be offered in 40cm, 42cm, 44cm, 46cm, and 48cm widths and will cost $280.00USD. The unique compound flare is 12° at the brake hoods mounting area but then kicks out to a 20° flare below that for greater rider control and wrist clearance. 

Comments: This is a prime example of using carbon fiber to its best benefits. Metal forming would not allow for such complex shapes and tight radius bends which the Spanos Bar has. Yes, carbon fiber can be light, but to my mind, that particular characteristic of carbon fiber componentry has been too oft relied upon to sell stuff made from it. Using carbon fiber to do what metal cannot do, or do very well? That, to my mind, is more interesting for the average cyclist. 

The lay-up of carbon can also be exploited to provide vibration damping benefits as well, or maybe stiffness is desired? Carbon can be made to be that as well and that doesn't necessarily mean lightweight. If the weight is competitive with aluminum, or slightly lighter, I'm of the mind that - as long as the other benefits are exploited - a carbon component can be worth the extra expense. 

Some Updates On The Trans Iowa Book Of Tales & More:

So, this idea is being discussed more and different people are seemingly interested in being a part of things. This on the one hand, is helpful. On the other, it complicates things as I am going to have to pick a direction, (and therefore people) to go in before any real work gets done. 

The basic idea as of now is to do a Patreon, which is a way to generate income for the project while allowing folks the opportunity to see some of the interviews and listen to audio which hopefully will be a part of the 'fact finding' for the book. Benefits other than that would be determined at a later point, but special T.I. commemorative t's, art, stickers, or such stuff might be a part of this. 

I also was surprised by a request to look at a website project which was made by a former T.I. rider as a way to gather the pertinent stuff from the historical blog and the old T.I. site into one place with updated functionality and looks. This came out of left field and I was not expecting anything along these lines to occur now. 

So, this actually may become a thing. There are a few tweaks and some details to work through, but I think once it happens, it will be a nice site to show folks and those of you who had done Trans Iowa should enjoy it. It is a heck of a lot better than anything I would have ever done! Stay tuned on that for now....

So, besides the new site idea and how I may use Patreon I am planning on getting the ball rolling this Fall on this idea and as things get on I will give periodic updates here. Perhaps that may migrate to the site I was shown, perhaps that may end up elsewhere, but for now, just tuck that in your hat if you are interested and keep your eyes peeled here for further announcements.   

Gravel Worlds® Is A Registered Trade Mark:

Earlier last week Gravel Worlds announced that one of its folks, Jason Strobehn, had become full-time on the event and that the event name, "Gravel Worlds" was now an officially recognized trade mark in the United States. 

Comments: Whoa! Now back when we were dinking around putting on these 'events' for like-minded gravel freaks, no one in their right mind saw this coming. I mean not one person. It was the furthest thing from anyone's mind, with the possible exception of Jim Cummings of the Dirty Kanza. He was a bit more 'promotionally minded' than many of us ever were. 

So, now I guess no one else can say 'gravel worlds' in their event marketing. That's kind of interesting, when you think about that. On the one hand it sounds all anti-grassroots, but it keeps others from grabbing that and running with it too, so the guys behind Gravel Worlds can kind of steer that any which way they want to in the future. It'll be interesting to see where it goes from here, but in my humble opinion, that event has already turned the corner and is one of the 'big productions' going forward.  

Mid-South To Require Proof Of COVID Vaccination For '22 Event:

Friday it was revealed that a decision to require everyone attending and riding in the Mid-South gravel event to have a proof of vaccination for the COVID-19 virus was being implemented. This was communicated via their website and on their social media. 

"We will ask everyone to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival to the event at check in."  

Many people commented positively on the announcement; however, a few were wondering why there would not be testing for everyone regardless of vaccination status since vaccinated people can still contract and shed virus, (albeit those 'breakthrough' cases are statistically quite low according to most experts.) 

Comments: The Mid-South was arguably the last 'pre-COVID' ran gravel event, although it probably falls within the COVID era in reality. Some commenters were critical of that decision to run the event in mid-March of 2020. So, it stands to reason that the Mid-South organizers would be, perhaps, a bit more on the conservative side this time. 

As far as making everyone attending the Mid-South take a COVID test? I see the validity in that, but practically speaking, it would be difficult to enact such a measure. Besides, it would likely cause the event entry price to be raised significantly. On the other hand, it probably would be the fairest, most safe way to do a big event like Mid-South. 

But with sporting events, concerts, and colleges not doing anything- for the most part - does any of this end up mattering? That's not a question I have an answer for, but upon first glance, the whole "we're wide open vs we're testing/requiring proof" scene is baffling and it would seem that everyone is pretty much on their own in terms of taking risks. I'm not sure a proof of vaccination does anything to reduce risks other than to those who are vaccinated 'if' they contract the virus at Mid-South, or on the way to and back from there. Presumably you won't be welcome, and will not go, if you are a vaccine hold-out. Those unvaccinated people who live there? Pfft! I don't have an answer. 

That's a wrap for this Randomonium. Thanks for reading! 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Friday News And Views

 Ride With GPS Debuts New Technology:

This week Ride With GPS debuted a new "Surface Types" technology for route finding and planning that, in many ways, is the pinnacle of what many riders will want out of technology for route finding. 

What is most impressive, to my mind anyway, is that Ride With GPS thought this through and realized that the information necessary to make this work would largely need to be tweakable by the users themselves. This is because, as I have preached on for years, due to the fact that there is no currently available information which you can rely upon 100% for surface data. 

This is due to the fact that most all of the GPS road data to date is focused on where people will most likely be wanting information- namely paved highways and interstate highways. NOT on gravel and dirt roads, which, let's face it, only a very small percentage of people even care about. So, as a result I have found blockages of roads which occurred decades ago which are still listed as through-roads, or as having bridges, etc. That this misinformation on roads and surface types exists should be no surprise then. This is also why, when I have seen people touting 'route surface type resources' in the past who relied purely on data focused on and for pavement users, I cried foul. 

This new Surface Types feature on Ride With GPS will be similarly handcuffed- at first- But if users take the opportunity to edit and make suggestions, as Ride With GPS says they will be able to do, then all the other sector features, elevation data, and mileage splits for paved/unpaved bits will suddenly start to become what we've dreamed of having as a resource. A dream since the times of the earliest modern-day gravel grinder events. 

I have checked the routes I have saved (private) on Ride With GPS to see how it does. On some it is spot on. The gravel to pavement ratio is correct. But on some older routes it isn't picking up on the gravel that is really there in many spots. This is where the rider input will be critical. 

I believe Ride With GPS, due to its oft used integration with GPS navigation head units widely in use by cyclists and events now, will be successful where others were not. Time will tell....

The Search Continues:

Which brings me to GPS units for my uses. I've been doing a bunch of research, and THANK YOU to the readers here for your valuable suggestions, by the way. I really appreciate those and I have been informed greatly by what you have shared. 

So, where am I on all of this? Well, I have it slightly narrowed down to a Garmin 830, a Garmin 130, or the Karoo 2 from Hammerhead. Disparate choices, I know....

The Garmin 130 does more of what I want and less of what I do not want, but it is tiny, harder to see, (old eyes here!), and it doesn't have a color screen. Honestly, that all may not matter if prompts are audible during the turn by turn navigation. (I don't think that they are audible, but I cannot confirm this via the web so far) It also happens to be the least expensive option I am looking at as well. This makes buying the mounts it doesn't come with less of a pain. 

The 830 is bigger, has color screen display, and audible turn by turn navigation prompts. It also has alerts for help if I get into trouble, (something Mrs. Guitar Ted would like) and it has rerouting/back to start functions which would be kind of nice to have sometimes as well. It is more expensive though, and that is a concern. Along with it comes a slew of stuff I'll never use also. Maybe a 530 here?

Pretty much the same story with the Karoo 2 from Hammerhead. I like this one because it seems to be backed by a company that is trying to update the unit with newer features on a regular basis, (thus giving me more value for the money spent, potentially) and that perhaps bodes well for issues which Garmin and Wahoo seem to have which are not being addressed for their users. Should a Karoo 2 start 'locking up', I would hope that their aggressive plan to update their units in the field would address such an issue quickly. But again- it has lots of stuff I'll never use and it also is spendy to purchase. 

Still looking and researching.......

Mosaic Cycles Announces GT-X Series:

If you are a well heeled cyclist with a penchant for adventure cycling off-pavement then the new Mosaic Cycles GT-X series might be for you. Offered in a full custom, double butted titanium version or as a stock geometry, single wall version in titanium, the bikes are capable of being drop bar or flat bar, depending upon rider preference, due to the geometry having a longer front center than a standard drop bar bike would. 

Tire clearances are 29" X 2.25" or narrower, but keep in mind that the bottom bracket drop is 75mm, so a 650B set may not work, and Mosaic does not give any indication that it would either. However; while it does not give the 650B fans any love, this bike does go the non-sus corrected route, and I like that simplicity and aesthetic. 

But you'd better open the credit limits up. The base GT-2X is $4500.00 for the frame only, and a GT-1X frame and fork are nearly 7G!! Don't look at me to be one who will be getting one of these rigs. I don't make anywhere near the kind of income to be looking at such bikes!

Riding Gravel Radio Ranch Episode #91:

Keeping things local, Andy and I interviewed Dan Roberts of the Snaggy Ridge 105 gravel event recently. That event takes place October 2nd in Tipton, Iowa. 

I met Dan first at one of the Iowa Gravel Expos that N.Y. Roll and I put on a few years ago. He showed up to promote his event and has been to a couple of these since to do the same. It sounds like a great event and if you can get in, you should. I realize a LOT of stuff is going down in the Fall, but this event deserves your attention. 

Plus, is sponsoring it, and I am sending over some schwag to help support the event. So if you go you could score a few items and have a great day in the saddle to boot. Check it out!

Plus, you can listen to our podcast with Dan here. We had a lot of fun talking with him and playing our game called "Function or Fashion" as well. You can hear that podcast wherever you get your podcast feed from as also. Thanks!

This Wentworth tire comes in a 700 X 40 or 50mm and in 650B
American Classic Is Back! With Tires?!

 American Classic, the brand started by Bill Shook in 1982, was well known as a wheel and component company for years until slow sales in the business for them caused them to shutter the company in 2018

The assets of the company were offered for sale at that point along with all intellectual properties, but as of now no official industry news has been announced as to whether or not that sale has happened. Although this news article about the brand relaunch states that the sale did occur, but offers no clear details.

At any rate, now the brand appears to be back and with tires. Of course, they are selling gravel oriented tires and they offer quite a wide range from a mostly smooth treaded type to full-on, aggressive MTB-like tires. All offerings in their gravel range are available in 700c X 40mm, or 700c X 50mm widths along with 650B X 47mm sizes in black or tan wall sides. Prices are all the same, a paltry $35.00 per tire!

Comments: Wow! Tires? That pricing! Okay, here's the thing, with tire prices on the rise and many tires being out of stock, and with American Classic being a brand off the radar for a few years, this is probably an attention getting move - an introductory offer, if you will.  I am guessing the pricing, and stock of tires, will be gone rather quickly. Once the brand is established, (if it ever is as a tire brand), I suspect that you will see pricing increase dramatically. 

That 35 buck price - if the tires are decent - is basically at retail cost. I would be immensely surprised if they are making any money at that price, again- if the tires actually measure up to what the competition is offering. Normally gravel tires with high quality casings and rubber compounds are sold is at nearly double that 35 dollar price and even higher in some instances. I mean, you could be getting what you pay for here, which could be not-so-great.

As a brand relaunch, sticking to the gravel category, (with a small nod to the past with some road tires), and going with tires, (a BIG talking point on forums and websites), is a smart move. The buzz created by this launch is a good start. If the product is worthy, and if American Classic can sustain the force of this launch over the long haul, then they may have life for the long term. However; if the product turns out to be lackluster and their stock lists are depleted with no quick restocking? Ooof! It could be the greatest time to relaunch or the worst possible time to relaunch the brand. We will see....

But I have to give American Classic credit for this eye-opening relaunch. It is a pretty bold move. Also- they promise more components to come. Now we will see if it sticks.

And that's a wrap for this week! Have a fantastic weekend and thank you for reading G-Ted Productions!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Preparations For A 'Long Ride'

This Craft Cadence Handlebar Bag is going to be a part of the set up.
 I have plans and I am acting upon them of late. This is going to be a 'big ride', and no- I am not saying what it is until it happens. So don't ask me. Just know that I've been working on this for a while now and the time is coming that I have a window to do this in. 

So, the bike is going to be the Noble Bikes GX-5, (Standard Disclaimer) and I have just about gotten things where I need them to be to use this bike on this particular ride. The biggest issue is water, and now with this new Craft Cadence Handlebar bag I have here on test for (see the link above), I now have the capacity to have enough water for this attempt. 

This bag on the handle bar can hold two large sized water bottles and more. I plan on using it to increase the capacity on the bike to five bottles total. This is important for this attempt because there is one long stretch on this route that has 54 miles with no services. I need to insure that I have enough water to span that distance, and I believe five bottles is enough. 

Here is the bike as it will be for this 'long ride' from the side

The bag has more capacity to hold stuff, so I believe I am going to be putting nutritional items in there like drink mix packets and maybe some convenience store fare for that longer sector. The other bags will be used for tools, tubes, extra clothing, and the top tube bag will be for quick eats on the ride. 

Sharp eyed readers will note the lights and yes- this is going to start in the dark. I may have a helmet light to spot signs with, but I believe my cues for the route should suffice. It is not a race anyway, so time can be spent where I need to spend it. Anyway, if things go as planned, I'll be done before Sunset. So, these lights are really all I should need. 

There are a couple of other items yet to come here, and I have to devise a smaller cue sheet holder, but things are coming together for this ride and soon I hope I can share what I am doing with you all here. 

Stay tuned.....