Sunday, December 31, 2006

Just Another Day?

Okay, is this just another day? A day of training, or whatever you would normally do on a Sunday? Does the change of calendars mean anything to you?

I guess for me the "traditional" kind of celebration/stupidity that accompanies this day has long since passed and now it really is pretty much another day to me. Sure, I'm looking forward to better weather and getting back out to ride longer rides in the daylight. But that isn't dependant upon the change of the calendar year, really.

All I know is that this cold I have better be a lot better tomorrow so I can take part in the Gravel Goo II that Mr. 24 has organized for us. A good long ride would be a good enough way to start a new calendar year, as far as I'm concerned.

Here's hoping you can get out and ride on New Year's Day too!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Rear View Mirror

Hey, if you're like me and don't plan on smashing brain cells to bits with an over abundance of alcohol and cigarrette smoke, check out Mountain Bike legends pod casts. Ya might just learn sumpthin' and have a laugh while doing it.

The podcasts feature yarns spun by mountain bike pioneers Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher, and early sales rep and enthusiast James McLean. Good stuff here and told in a low key, "let's have a beer and talk awhile" type atmousphere.

Find out that you are not too many steps away from the reason it all started, or maybe find out that you are, and you need to get back to that! Whatever, this is a great source of entertainment and learning that might take up oh, say.......bout an hour and a half. Time well spent, I say.

Well, at least I learned something and laughed out loud a few times! Check it out and let me know what you think!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Onward Through The Fog!

Note: Today's post is the last in the series of posts that involves retrospective looks at things involving Guitar Ted Productions. "Regular" rantings will begin again starting tomorrow.

Today I'm looking at '07 and thinking, "What in the world have I done!!?" I've got some mighty big gigs going down next year and the fun won't stop all year long, seemingly. Here's a quick rundown of events that Guitar Ted Productions is putting on, or is a part of: Trans Iowa V3: the third annual and so far, the most awesome edition of the event is coming up in April. This will take up alot of my waking hours between now and then. Sea Otter: The annual race and exposistion, also in April. Just before Trans Iowa, Twenty Nine Inches is planning on attending this event and covering the introductions of product there. April is obviously going to be a month that will make me go crackers!

In May, I plan on getting down to Kansas again for the Dirty Kanza 200, which I have some unfinished business with! June is going to be all about the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo in Decorah, Iowa. An event that centers around a gathering of 29"er nutcases and featuring demo rides and trails to check out, along with some specific fun stuff I can not mention as of yet. Oh yeah, this is a Twenty Nine Inches event, primarily.

July brings the second Guitar Ted Death Ride. The route is semi set in stone and I will be trying to get out and drive/ride it to check it out to verify it over the early spring. Look for announcements here and at the event site.

August has not been scheduled with any evnts or goings on. That's a good thing!

September is Interbike and I'll be doing the Twenty Nine Inches coverage again. Then there is the fall and early winter, but I haven't looked out that far yet.

As for this blog in particular, there might be some very big changes in store. Depending upon whether or not some serious dollars start rolling in for a certain gig I can not mention yet, you may see less or a change of content concerning this blog. And if the finances don't materialize for the other thing, then the focus here will not change, but will get even sharper. I am not sure which way things will go yet, but 2007 sure looks to be an exciting year, and many changes may happen. Right now all I can say is what I have planned and have already mentioned might just pale in comparison. Stay tuned! Whatever happens, 2007 should be alot of fun!

Oh yeah! I made a Top Ten List. Check it out. Many of the folks on the list are also highlights of my year, especially meeting these fabric-meisters from Minny-apple-puss. Listen up and be amazed!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Let's Ride!

In the end, it's all about the ride. Let's go grind some gravel together on New Years Day!

The details can be found at Mr. 24's site. (Or here if you have eyesight with electron microscope power! Look at the fine print at the bottom of the picture)

The more the merrier! Let's start out the year right and have a great time doing it!

Self Examination Time

Note: With the end of the year looming, Guitar Ted Productions is going to take a look this week at some issues affecting the 29"er scene, endurance racing, and this blog in particular.

Last year, I did a "Rearview Mirror" post. A kind of retrospective on the blog, "Guitar Ted Productions" itself. This will be a similar type of post.

My goals for the blog have largely been met. The writing has become better, (based upon feed back from folks like you, the readers) the content has been more focused, and the hit counter keeps climbing up and up. Mr. 24 contributed another design from his fertile and creative mind which has also enhanced the experience here. (Thanks buddy!)

Just to let everyone know, the blog has been beneficial to me in that I have landed writing gigs including having some catalog copy published in Haro's '07 catalog, writing articles for a few other websites, and becoming a part of the Crooked Cog Network as a contributor to Twenty Nine Inches. So, writing has been very fruitful and rewarding this year, thanks to all those who have read, commented, noticed, offered, and come through for me. You all know who you are.

Personally it was an exciting year as many new things were done and experienced. I won't bore ya'all with details here, because that's not how I am. If you've been reading all along, you probably already know in the first place.

The comments section here is extremely important to me and I try to discuss there whenever I can. Today, if you care to, my desire is to have you use that as a suggestion box of sorts for your comments regarding this blog and anything you want to say, good, bad, or indifferent about how you feel the blog has done this year, or what you would like to see in the future. I'll not get in there today to discuss, but rather let that be a free place for you to say yer piece.

Tomorrow, I'll discuss where this blog will be going, goals, possible changes, and any suggestions that come from todays post and reactions to those.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Smorgasboard of Suffering: Open 24hrs!

Note: With the end of the year looming, Guitar Ted Productions is going to take a look this week at some issues affecting the 29"er scene, endurance racing, and this blog in particular.

As the year comes to an end it's interesting to take a look at the incredible endurance racing moments that occurred during 2006. The rain outs, the severe weather effects on 24hr races, the astounding lengths that humans will go to to win a silly bike race. All these things have spurred much debate and discussion in the endurance community. It's been a wild and bumpy ride. And to think, that doesn't even begin to touch upon things like the 100 miler series, the emergence of more "under the radar" type ultra endurance races and the athletes that shone forth during the 2006 season.

First off, my hats off to all you enduro nut jobs out there. I respect all of you guys and gals immensely. For those of you that tasted sweet success, (I didn't say victory for a reason!) , congratulations. For those of you that found yourself injured, demoralized, or just generally burnt out, here's to a much better 2007!

Now we are looking at a new season and training is well under way for many of you out there. I can't wait to see what unfolds for 2007. It looks like, at the very least, to be more of the same, in terms of races and events. (Sans rain, tornadoes, and floods of biblical proportions, hopefully!) I am, of course, up to my eyeballs in the planning for Trans Iowa V3, which is looking like a record setting event for Mr. 24 and I. We expect more starters than ever before, more DNF's than ever before, and more finishers than ever before. (At least we should see finishers if the weather and time limits don't dictate otherwise!)

I'm sure T.I.V3 won't be the only event to see records fall in 2007 either. I suspect that the endurance event category will see increasing numbers of participants in 2007, much as we have seen in past years. The shift from 24hr. races to the marathons, 6/12's, and 100 milers will probably be the story in 2007 as far as events are concerned.

Personally, I am looking forwards to a successful T.I.V3, and getting back to Kansas for another crack at their 200 miler in May. I also am in the early stages of planning for another long ride (I hesitate to call this an endurance event, it's waaay too low key for that!) in the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. This edition should find the event in a different part of Iowa. I have been poking around and I currently have a 111 mile route scoped out with over 3000 feet of climbing, or so says the route finder. It's not in North East Iowa and that's pretty good climbing in a state that's known for being flat. (I can't wait for you Rocky Mountain, Ozark, and East Coasters to start laughing.........go ahead! Laugh! It's not as easy as you might think!)

Beyond this madness that I somehow got wrapped up in, I want to get in on a 4 man 24hr team, or maybe a 12 hour race somewhere along the line this year. We'll see! It's gonna be a crazy year! Not just for me, but for alot of endurance racers.

There's just so much to choose from! It's like an endurance buffet that's open 24hrs!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Let's Do The Time Warp Again!

Note: With the end of the year looming, Guitar Ted Productions is going to take a look this week at some issues affecting the 29"er scene, endurance racing, and this blog in particular.

The other day I was thinking about some of the local guys that have tried 29"ers and were not very impressed. I was considering the reasons they gave and thinking about the particular bikes they had ridden. Then it dawned on me that they were victims of a time warp!

I remembered that when I first had gotten into the sport of mountain biking that the bike we used then was a very new developement in regards to frame geometry. Head angle, fork trail, and chainstay lengths were all just getting settled in after an experimental phase where designers had taken several different approaches to the design of the mountain bike. Sure, there were a few more nuances to iron out, and suspension threw things into a tizzy for a bit, but these were just minor bumps in the road to a highly refined set of geometry numbers.

Now with the advent of 29"ers and all of the new parameters we find ourselves in a bit of a time warp. Designers are taking different approaches to the bike as it is a different beast from a 26"er. The geometry numbers and details are still changing and being experimented with. This results in a few duds, if you will, in certain aspects of handling and ride characteristics. Just like it was in the 80's for 26"ers, so it would seem to be for us as 29"er riders today.

So, my friends that haven't been too impressed by the format have experienced this and there were expectations coming from the 26 inch world, which has been pretty dialed in for years and years now. They were not expecting to be riding experimental crafts, nor were they aware that they were test pilots. They went in thinking "this is the way they all are", which I have had the pleasure to de-brief them on. It's a problem with 29"ers and it isn't going away very soon.

Next time you take some one out for a 29"er test ride, it might not be a bad idea to explain the Time Warp. It'll spare alot of trouble in the end.

It's just a step to the left.......................

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Ride

Riding the Dos Niner today. Conditions weren't good for a warp speed single track test, but severe conditions testing was primo.

The ground had about a quarter to a half an inch of wet slop on top of frozen ground. Can you say grease on a table top?

Here's a shot of what I mean. The tires would sink in until they gripped more solid ground. High speed leanin' wasn't in the cards for today. The Dos did pretty well in the sketchy handling department, though and it didn't clog up badly with mud either.

You can see what I mean here. The mud cleared really well from the Michelins, as well. I continue to be impressed by these tires.

A moment to reflect............................

May you have a joyous and peaceful Christmas holiday!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Trans Iowa Recon In Photos

Starting out in the morning the gravel was still frozen, but the ravages of the recent wet weather was plain to see. In some spots, the black earth underneath was leaching up through the gravel!

Later on in the morning this was all "peanut butter" consistency.

This is why I do the recon. This road was shown on two recent maps I have as going through. Obviously, this road has been terminated at this point for some years.
No worries though. I managed to find an even more evil route around this point!

They don't make 'em like this anymore! Iowa used to be dotted with these steel and iron bridges back when I was young. They slowly have been replaced by the cold, faceless concrete bridges over time. Very few of these relics remain. Lucky for you, (if you are in Trans Iowa) 'cause you'll get to cross this one!

A view from the road. Long horn cattle at their leisure. If you look closely to the left of the photo, you can se a rooster patolling the pasture.

Unlike Dirty Kanza, you won't have to deal with these beasts on the road, (hopefully!). However; the deer and other varmints roaming the Iowa countryside sometimes do get up on the roads.

More Recon to come! Stay tuned. This course is turning out better than I had imagined and should be a really tough, scenic, fun route.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

With the holiday falling on a Monday, this will probably be the last time alot of you will be reading the blog for awhile, so I wanted to take the opportunity to say,"Merry Christmas!"

I hope that whatever ya'all are doing that you are all safe, and that you enjoy yourselves. May your days be filled with buff singletrack and blue skies! Maybe you'll even get a shiny new bike widget or two! (Well, that is if you've been good, right?) Anyway, enjoy yourselves and if you can squeeze in a bicycle ride, all the better!

I'll still be around here posting throughout the weekend, so check in if ya can,

Otherwise, may God bless you all!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Raleigh XXIX+G: A Geared 29"er Debut

Raleigh has followed up it's successful introduction of the XXIX single speed with this geared only hardtail in steel called the XXIX+G. (What is this? Some kind of new math?)

The bike comes in a very nice shade of Mr. 24 approved black. (Honestly, I worry about that guy some times. Black, black, or black, I'm thinking he needs to expand his horizons a bit!)

While the graphics seem to be a very subtle affair at first glance, you get a whole different picture when you step behind the bike. It's a unique take on the traditional downtube branding. While I find it appealing as it is, it's a bit of a buzzkill when you mount your bottle cages, as they obscure the font

This is the other end of the spectrum, graphics-wise. Here we have the model name done up in an almost "beer bottle-like" band around the top tube. I like that it's small and out of the way, (probably not the greatest for brand recognition!). Too bad the "Raleigh" decal wasn't done in a similarly subtle and functional fashion

Okay, enough about the looks of the bike, how about the hardware? Well, it's a pretty solid package. Keeping in mind that this is a work horse type of trail bike, I thought Raleigh did a great job. The drive train consists of the ever more common SRAM parts. X-7 rear derailluer is shifted by SRAM X-5 trigger shifters. The front derailluer duties are performed by a Shimano Deore unit. The crank is a TruVativ Firex outboard bearing, two piece type. In the test ride right after build up, the shifters were almost silent and felt stealth-like in comparison to the pronounced "ker-chunk" you hear and feel with X-0 or X-9 stuff. Still, they seemed to work just fine out of the box. The brakes are Avid BB-5's activated by Avid levers sans leverage adjustment. It's a nice setup that should be trouble free. Wheels are spinning on Joy Tech disc hubs laced to WTB rims that have eyelets and are disc specific. Nothing flashy here, just stuff that'll last and do a good job out on the trail. Tires are the ubiquitous WTB Exi Wolfs. While they will be fine for 90% of the folks just getting into 29"ers, I'd have liked to have seen a lighter, snappier set of shoes spec'ed like the Maxxis Ignitors, which would have shed some serious weight off this machine and made it feel alot better to test riders. Not to mention the fact that Ignitors pretty much beat Exi's performance-wise just about anywhere for your average trail rider. Anyway, tires are an easy upgrade, so no big deal here. Up front the shock duties are handled by the excellent Rock Shox Reba, which I felt really makes the bike a great value.

I should also mention that the frame is an excellent double butted steel affair that is very similar to the XXIX single speed, only better. It's better because it's designed around a suspension fork, which the XXIX single speed isn't. (To me, one of the major downfalls of the single speed version of this bike) It also shares the modular driveside aluminum drop out insert, albeit with a derailluer hangar. The lack of an EBB on the XXIX+G means that SS'ing this bike would require a tensioner or an ENO rear hub, if you were so inclined to ditch the drive train.

The rest of the parts spec is pretty solid with the exception of one nit that I also had with the single speed XXIX. The seatpost is too short! These 29"er designs need at least a 400mm seat post to accomodate riders properly. This isn't just a Raleigh problem, but an emerging faux pas that the industry is committing concerning seat post length for 29"ers. Take a cue from the British and spec 400mm seat posts in your 29"ers, please!

This should be an excellent everyday, reliable, smooth riding hard tail, geared specific design for the average trail rider. It also should be an easily upgraded platform for those looking to throw some bling at a nicely designed steel geared specific XC bike. The price is right, and it looks pretty nice, even with the slightly goofy downtube decal. I'll have a full on ride report coming in the next month or so, weather permitting. Stay tuned!

Thanks to the Raleigh Guys for the XXIX+G!! I'll be logging some serious mileage on this bike, so stay tuned for some feedback in the coming months!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shifting The Brain Into "Think"

Lately in different places on the "blogosphere" as it relates to our tiny little corner of the cycling world, I have noticed something. Actually, it's something you can find in everyday life all around you, not just here on the "inner-net". What is it? It's people who haven't taken the time to think.

I know it might seem to be a foriegn concept for some, but if you actually take the time to use that gray matter 'tween the ears and think things through, you might not type the things you type in the comments sections on a lot of the blogs I've been reading lately. You also might just find that with a little bit of "brain engagement" the whole "transmission" of info will run a lot smoother, instead of grinding into angry bits, like it will otherwise.

Besides, these coments make the authors look like idiots.

Maybe I shouldn't be pointing this out, as it probably will detract from alot of peoples daily entertainment. I certainly wouldn't want to be a buzzkill for you guys and gals, and I must admit I've chuckled a time or two at the output of a "unfiltered" mind. However; all the knee-jerk responses and emotional outbursts have been getting a bit more mean spirited lately. Say what you will about frame builder Matt Chester, but he had a pretty cool take on all the "inner web" histrionics: "Calm down." Good advice for alot of the "trolls" out there right about now.

Anyway, if your comment count goes down for the next few days and things seem a bit more civilized, you can blame me! (Like that's ever going to happen! shuu-aahh!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I Got The Purple Ones.....

Will I get the brown ones? Not likely, as the orders going into the company that distributes these won't be placed by our shop until we get over the free shipping limit, or until after Christmas. Whichever, it'll be too late for me. These will be snapped up faster than a Guinness can be drained by Paddy.

Come to think of it, this hub color kinda reminds me of beer. Hmm.................beeeeeer!

Parts Bin Spec: Shame or Smart?

A nice shiny new rig with old drive train parts? Why do I feel a twinge of embarassment? Why shouldn't I just go ahead and use the parts bin spec? What has gotten ahold of me that is making me think I have to have the latest bits on this new frame, or I can not build it up?

It's sick, I tell you, just plain sick.

And we're not talking your downhilling, stunt riding kind of sick here, we're talking about a disgusting, insipid kind of mindset sick. The spirit of materialism has invaded my cranium, and I decided last night to give it an eviction notice.

You see, I was thinking just last night about when it was going to be that I would be able to ride that Haro Mary XC frame set I got a month ago. I'm thinking, "Gee, that SRAM X-9 stuff is sure nice, and I could get that new saddle I saw, and........." STOP!! Something clicked into gear right then. A sticky old pawl finally worked it's way loose again and dropped into engagement with a free wheeling ring gear. A thought took into view and I realized I was standing right on top of enough drive train parts to build several bikes. Nice parts.

Sure, they were parts that had become outdated, or "surpassed" (supposedly) by some new fangled this-or-that. These parts were still great, serviceable, light, and in some cases better than anything out there today. I ran down into the parts bin dungeon and began rummaging through stuff. Wow! I didn't even know I had this stuff! Well, I did, but I had forgotten..........or had been blinded to it. Which it was, I'm not sure, but I am going to use some of that stuff, and it may not be "cool", but it's gonna work!

Besides, I'll be riding that bike sooner than later, and what good is it to have that stuff if I am not going to use it, ya know?

So, while I'll have several new, shiny and cool bits on the bike, (mostly by the kindness of bike industry peeps. I'll let you all in on it when the bike comes together) I'll also have some "oldy but goody" stuff aboard that'll probably make you shake your head...............

...............................but I don't care!

I'm free from that spirit that haunted me, at least for now!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Update on Michelin AT XC 29"er Tire

I got the chance to run the Michelin 29"er tire in some true off road conditions Saturday and all I can say is "Wow!". It's a pretty darn good soft soil, loamy conditions, muddy conditions tire. I found the trails to be frozen again at the start of the ride, and then later it got warm enough to get the ground soft, then muddy.

At the start, I didn't feel that the hardness of the trail was an unfriendly element to these tires. We start out with some steep, off camber switch backs, going down hill. Braking control is everything here. I didn't think the Michelin was going to hang on here because of it's narrower width, but I had zero slippage. Then the trails get into a fast, swoopy downhill run. Again, stable, no issues. After that, we have some twisty, tight single track. The trail conditions were still hard yet, so the performance on hardpack in tight single track was acceptable. I wasn't attacking it at warp speed with a higher lean angle though, so I'm reserving judgement on that aspect yet.

We then hit up a steep climb to a ridgeline. By now the temps had risen enough that the softer, loamy to sandy trail conditions of this part of the trail could be tested. First of all, this tire has some claws! I crawled right up the steep section with nary a slip or quibble from the tires. The trail continues to climb up, occaisionally going around a tree, which of course has some exposed roots. No issues, but the roots were dry, so I'll have to see about that when it's wetter/ slipperier sometime. Sand wasn't a problem, but then again, I've not met a 29"er tire that couldn't at least do okay on sand.

Unfortunately, the trails to the rockier sections were blocked off this weekend, so no tests on the rocks. Maybe next time!

At any rate, my first impression of this tire is really good. I think for the spring, or any time the trails are slightly soft to mildly muddy, this tire will be the weapon of choice. When it got warm enough to really get tacky/ muddy Saturday, the Michelins did the best job I have seen yet in this area for muddy riding. We were drifting in the corners, it was so slippery! Almost as if we were riding on ice and snow. In these types of trail conditions, tires here will usually pack full of soil and become huge, heavy slicks. The Michelins would do there best to clear out the mud, flinging clods in the air all around me. The spiky knobs dug in corners, but not until after they slid around a bit. Still, controllable but at a lower speed than you usually would ride. Good stuff! In less sticky stuff, you should get even better results. Black dirt is the king of sticky soils, so I would think anywhere else should be better with this tire.

That's it for now. I'll be back with more findings on the tires later.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Yesterday and Today

Circa 1993: Klein Attitude, full Suntour XC Pro, Ritchey Vantage Comp rims, Sun Tour Grease Guard hubs, Dia Compe canti brakes,Smoke front tire, Joe Murray rear tire. Onza bar ends, Flite Ti saddle IRD seat post, Ringle' bottle cages, and skewers, and Suntour Grease Guard pedals with Christophe straps and generic plastic cages. Helmet by Shoei, (pre Troy Lee branding) Chuck Taylors in a lovely shade of purple, and Giordana bib shorts . No idea what jersey is on underneath the sweat top. That thing on my ankle is a wrestling knee pad that is protecting a 50 cent sized hole I tore into my ankle with the middle chainring. (For the locals, this is at the enterance to Seven Bridges Park)

Circa 2006: Salsa Dos Niner with SRAM X-9 drivetrain and TruVativ Stylo Team crank. DT Swiss hubs laced to Salsa Delgado Disc rims, Avid BB-7 disc calipers and Avid Speed Dial levers. WTB saddle, Salsa Shaft seat post, Rock Shox Reba fork, Salsa Relish rear damper, Michelin AT XC tires, and ancient Shimano clipless peds coutesy of Mr. 24. ( I gota get those back to ya pal!) The helmet in the pic is just for this pose, as it's the very same Shoei helmet from the first pic. I had handpainted it back in the day. The jersey is a Salsa Classico wool, tights by Trek, bibs underneath: Giordana, (but not the same as in the above pic!) Shoes: Lake, glasses by Tifosi. Location: Camp Ingawanis

My! How things have changed!

Hope you all enjoyed your weekend!

UPDATE: 12/9/12: Please read my comment in the comments section if you are coming to this post from the JusticeQuest site. Thank you. 

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday Dirt and Clerical Work

First the dirt! I got to put the Dos Niner through a few great dirt trails today and I had alot of fun. The softail part of the bike becomes invisible out on dirt. You don't even realize it's there, but when you don't slip out on a climb, or when you don't get jacked off the saddle on that little pot hole sized bump you didn't see, you realize something is different back there. Climbing was awesome. XC like handling on the twisties, stable 29"er wheels on the down hills, it was all alot of good times. The Michelin tires got a great work out as well. They had to handle the dry, hardpack at first, because the trails were frozen, but as the temps climbed, the trails began to un-freeze, and the mud began to creep into the equation. No sweat for the Michelins. They got a little packed up in the Iowa black dirt, but really, they handled the tacky dirt beter than I expected. The dirt was flinging off, keeping the tread blocks somewhat free to do their job and making the air around myself look pretty much like a flak field. Slipping out a bit in corners, the knobs would eventually find traction, and could be totally trusted to not dump you, within reason.

Now the paperwork! Trans Iowa roster work was done after the ride and it's a mind numbing task, but it had to be done. Mr.24 has it now, and if it passes muster, than he will post it on the site. By the way, did you check out the Special Announcement?

I should have some pictures sometime next week to share of the ride. Check back later!

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Final Cut or T.I. Day of Reckoning

The nail biting and pacing back and forth in front of computer monitors across North America has already begun. "Am I going to be in?" "Did they get my card?" "Did they get my package with 300 cards?" (yes..............Really!) "Will they miss my Dad's cards because we have the same name?" "My brother and I both want in, will they pick us together?"

And so on, and so on.

Well, it all comes to a screeching halt this weekend. Trans Iowa will have a roster set by 2pm on Saturday. Some might be included, maybe others......."will be in the outer darkness where there will be gnashing of teeth." Will there even be a lottery? That's the biggest question right now.

That will be determined at about noon today, when I will make a special announcement on the subject. I'll probably post it via the Endurance forum, since doing it on Blogger Beta from work on a ten year old computer would be asking for, well.........a huge headache for one thing! That is, if I didn't crash the thing in the process. Look for the announcement on MTBR first, that's easiest for me to do right now. Noon o'clock, CST, okay?

This is going to mess up alot of lunch times, I bet!

In other goings on, I have two very important birthdays this weekend to attend to. My wife's and my daughter's. You don't miss those! That and it's my weekend to play on the git-box at church, so this Trans Iowa stuff is going to be tough to fit in. A busy weekend in anybodies book!

Okay, so let the madness of the weekend begin!

If you can ride your bike, do it! We have no excuse here. It'll be about 50 degrees today and tomorrow, which is unheard of in the Mid-West. I'll do my best to turn some pedals over myself!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Michelin AT 29"er Tire

Michelin showed this 29"er tire at Interbike and it slipped under the radar, probably due to the fact that there was just soooo much new 29"er product. Well, that and the fact that unless your entry into 29 inch tires was heee-yooooge, you were not noticed.

Too bad, because this tire deserves alot of attention

Here you can see the widely spaced, squarish tread blocks. This makes the tire clear out mud probably better than any tire I have yet used. The next closest tire was ironically a Michelin in the old green Silicium compound.

The tread measures just a hair under two inches wide with the casing measuring just a hair over two inches wide. The "crown " of the casing is rounded, not flattish. The tire features side knobs, but not really aggresive ones and they certainly do not look to be at an angle for severe lean over traction. I suspect these will break away suddenly at a certain lean angle, but we shall see. The climbing traction is awesome, and they seem to grip onto trail and trail obstacles quite well.

The weight of mine was right at 660 grams, which for a true 2" wide tire isn't bad at all. They rolled exceptionally well on hard pack and pavement, which came as a surprise to me. I will be testing these in a variety of conditions over the next few months and I will report back with some findings soon.

Note: Today and tomorrow are the final days of registration for Trans Iowa. Have you gotten that card in yet? Stay tuned for a special announcement Friday evening concerning the lottery.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Irony of the "Governing Bodies"

I usually don't say a whole lot about road cycling, professional racing, and the like on this blog channel, but lately things concerning the professional road cycling circus and off road cycling have been weighing on my mind. Today I am going to download those thoughts......

Operacion Puerto, the Pro Tour/UCI squabble, and WADA/ anti-doping crap has dominated the pro cycling news on the road side for well over a year now. If you are not familiar with what is going on there, than I suggest you not sully your fervor and joy for cycling by wading into that morass. Suffice it to say that it's a total buzzkill for that facet of the sport of cycling and they have lost one fan in myself, who can not stomach the madness anymore.

Now I see that the thing that I have predicted and feared for off road, ultra endurance cycling is now being "officially" proposed. That being a world governing body to oversee the "growth" of the sport. (Read "growth" as "shivering, cruel death of the sport")

Okay, let me get this straight. Somebody is seriously considering oversight of all of the different facets and flavors of off road ultra endurance cycling events. we can eventually have our own fiasco, like road cycling has? Umm......lemme think about this for awhile.....NOPE!! Not going there, thank you very much for wasting everyone's time!

I can't believe that in the shadow of a knock down, drag out fist fight, that has all but brought down pro road cycling to it's knees, that this proposal of enlightened guidance would be proffered. It's rediculous, to say the least. Even if it doesn't have a thing to do with the UCI or Pro Tour entities. Look at what has happened in our own country, (U.S.A.) We have the farce that is NORBA and U.S.A.Cycling. The "governing bodies" that have made participating in cycling here such an inviting proposistion that entire rogue racing series have sprung up and thrived from without their shadow of influence.

A governing body for Ultra Endurance cycling..........puh-leeze! Hey, we're having a bunch of fun, don't try ruining it all with your idea of what we are about. No thanks.

You can bet Trans Iowa will never be part of that kind of circus!

(This brought to you in part by Mr. 24 and Guitar Ted, Trans Iowa "Dictators for Life")

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dos Niner in the House

Early Christmas at the Guitar Ted Labratories? Nah, but it would seem so, as this Dos Niner is here from Salsa Cycles for a long term test. Thanks guys!

One disadvantage to the big wheels: they don't fit underneath your standard Christmas tree!

A close up of the paint and graphics. I love orange and this design is hot, hot, hot!

It's got some nice metallic sparkle there!

The thing that sets this bike off from all the others: The Relish damper unit. The Dos Niner is a soft tail design that relies on the flex of the chainstays to act as a spring and this damper unit helps keep all that "boing" under control. You can also use the damper to add additional spring stiffness to the design to the point that it is essentially "locked out" if you wanted to, but why? Seems counter intuitive since then you have what would amount to a hardtail. With that in mind, you don't need much pressure in this unit. I will be running mine at about 0 - 20 psi for this test to see how it reacts.

The other interesting thing about this frame is that it's got a Scandium enhanced aluminum alloy through out. Meaning that it's just not the three main tubes, but the whole frame that is made of the stuff. Scandium is there to allow for better strength and lighter weight by design. I'll get into that more later.

For now I just wanted to introduce ya'all to one fine looking 29"er that'll be around for awhile. I'll be keeping you all updated as to how she rides and how it works in varying types of terrain and conditions. Thanks again to Salsa Cycles for this incredible bike and the opportunity to ride it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Post Cards Must Be In By Friday!

Okay, this is the home stretch! Your Trans Iowa chances are dwindling if you have not gotten your mail off yet. Check out the site for your registration details.

As for the possibility of a lottery, well I didn't think it was going to happen, but with the amount of new people registering on Friday and Saturday, that possibility is much more possible. As it stood on Saturday, there were 68 different names in the hat, and I know there are more coming. Now if there are 32 more individuals or not, I don't know, but it's going to be pretty close. Keep in mind that in two days we got 18 new names in the hat, so it's quite possible that folks are waiting until the last minute to get their cards off.

Don't wait too long though, we are not accepting anything past this Friday the 15th. If your mail is late, then too bad! Also, it has to be on a post card! We don't care if that card is in a huge box, an envelope, or sent regular style, but it has to be a post card. No spiral bound note book paper, no three ring binder paper entries, okay? (We actually got some of those) They are going to be rejected. Hey! All you had to do was to follow the rules people. The rules say "post card".

Okay! The suspense is building. This Friday is "D" day. It's going to get interesting!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blogger Tag?

Okay, I've heard of alot of crazy games but this is about at the top o the list: Blog Tag. Yep! Apparently it goes something like this: You get a "tag" on somebodies post, then you are supposed to post six "interesting" things about yourself. After you do this, you "tag" other known bloggers in the universe and expect them to undergo the same goofy procedure you did.


Anyway, I got "tagged" here, so I'm supposed to comply, or.......... Funny, but they never did say what might happen if I don't play, did they? Hmmm.............well, just for the fun of it, I'll post six "interesting" things about myself and see what happens. Okay?

#1. Guitar Ted: Yeah, that's probably the #1 question I get asked: "Where did this "Guitar Ted" thing come from" Well, it's a long story about heart ache and the loss of God and all, but it has something to do with Ted Nugent and my love of guitar playing. If you really want to know, I think my very first blog post tells the story. to the archives with you!

#2. And about that guitar playing....: Yes, I do indeed play guitar. I own several, and I also already posted about that. to the archives with you!

#3. Trans Iowa: Yep, you guessed it! Now, off to the archives with you!

#4. Okay smarty pants! What about something we don't know!: Okay, okay! I'll try to play nice! How about this: I used to design and make jewelery for a living for ten years. I repaired jewelery, set stones, and graded diamonds. Yep! I even wore $500.00 suits everyday and wore out at least two of them a year, since I practically lived in the things. Laundry services, shoes, ties, all cost me alot of $$$. And you guys thought cycling was expensive?.......psshaww!

#5. You? In a suit and tie?: Yeah, hard to believe, isn't it? I went from that right into being a bicycle mechanic until the shop I worked at went under, and then I spent five and a half years working for The Darkside as a car mechanic! Greasy, grimy, gritty, and generally unpleasant, I still am thankfull for the owner and the guys I worked along side of. They were great! But I am glad that part of my life is behind me now!

#6. And now you're back in a bike shop?: Yep! And lovin' it, for the most part. While the pay for a mechanic stinks and the work hours get cut in the off season, I still love working in a bike shop. Sure, I could make more money doing something else tomorrow, if I wanted to, but for right now, this is a good thing. Who knows? Maybe I'll be doing something else a year from now. Besides, I love bicycles and being around that, so a shop is a good place to be, right?

Okay, so there you have it. Six mildly interesting....or inane, depending on your viewpoint...things about me. But enough about me. What about you?

Consider yourself tagged!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

More Trans Iowa Recon

Today was more gravel road driving checking out the Version 3 course. This time I did something really different and brought along the family. I figured that we need practice being couped up in a car for hours since we have a big vacation planned for next year. You know,......typical guy thinking. Killing two birds with one stone, ya know? That sort of thing.

Well, all I can say is, we need more practice time! As for the course, it's looking really great. I traveled 3.5 miles of "B" Level maintenance road today that is the most awesome "B" road stuff we have ever used. Quite hilly terrain actually. It's going to probably be in the night time section of the event, so it should be even more epic than ever.

The gravel is, for the most part, all recently maintained and the roads were pretty much covered with chunky gravel. Lots of dust too, so hacked throats and scratchy eyes might be a problem if the weather is at all dry. It's pretty windy today, as well, so I got a feel for what that might bring to the event. One thing is for sure, if it rains a bunch, we'll most likely be good, with the exception of the "B" stuff, but even that should be better, and there is going to be far less of it in this edition than there was last year. Don't get your hopes up, I replaced all that "B" stuff with something perhaps even worse! You'll see!

No pictures today, my cameras batteries went down while I was out there. Perhaps a couple of shots might turn up later. Besides, I wouldn't want anyone to figure out where we are going, ya know?

More updates later, stay tuned!

Friday, December 08, 2006

It's All About Momentum

Many times when discussing the benefits of going with the 29 inch wheel format we talk about the differences in wheel weight, where that weight is or isn't, and acceleration. One of the things not discussed is the decelleration or loss of momentum that smaller and/or lighter wheels have.

I am aware of a study that Mavic had done concerning climbing speeds and wheel weight. The hypothesis going into the study was that a lighter wheelset would climb at a consistently higher speed than a heavier wheelset and thus would cut overall climbing times. What they actually observed was something very surprising.

The study was done on a long mountain climb on a paved road using road tires on road bikes. The test pool was a large group of cyclotourists numbering into the hundreds. (Some of these details are cloudy in my memory, but the overall point is not) At any rate, Mavic officials saw that overall speeds were not increasing as they had expected they would. What they did see was that the extremely light wheels caused the riders to lose their momentum between pedal strokes! The riders basically were having to re-accelerate the wheel with every downward push on the pedals, while the riders on the heavier wheels were able to escape this plague because their wheels held their momentum through the cyclists pedaling "dead spots". In the final results, the heavier wheelsets, (to a point) were actually faster than the lighter weight ones!

Now I see that this phenomenon has been observed again by testers concerning a lightweight set of Fulcrum carbon clinchers. Here is the pertinent paragraph:

"On the flipside, I did notice that these wheels exhibited less of a flywheel effect. Once spun up, slightly more effort was required to keep them spinning, unlike heavier wheels, whose rotational inertia tends to keep them going. An extension of this phenomenon was that the RacingLights were a little flighty on fast (60+km/h) descents, especially if the road surface was rough. This was not a nice feeling the first time I experienced it - it reminded me of skateboard death wobbles. Heavier wheels do provide more stability through the gyroscopic effect. Speaking of descending, the modestly aero spokes were also faster than I expected - noticeable faster than my conventionally spoked low profile clinchers. "

So, as you can see, having momentum, or a "flywheel effect" is not a bad thing, necessarily, and if you know your wheels have this effect, then you can use it to your advantage. This is one of the nice things about 29 inch wheels. Yes, they may be a bit harder to spin off a dead, or nearly dead start, but once up to speed, they tend to keep that speed. Couple that with the higher degree of traction and stability over 26 inch wheels and you might find that you are braking less and getting through the corners faster which will carry more momentum and save you more energy. This is also the reason why 29"ers tend to "walk away" from 26"ers on downhills.

It's all about the momentum. Get yer self some!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Reasons For "The Rule"

As I sit to post up this it is 3 degrees Fahrenheit outside. That's -16 Centigrade for you Canadians, and by the way, the windchill is -27C. I am a commuter, but I have common sense too. Here is my rule for commuting by bike. Keep in mind it's my rule. You can do what you want.

When the ambient air temperature is above zero and there is little to no wind chill, I ride. If the ambient air temperature is below 10 degrees and there is a significant wind chill, then I'm driving.

Why? Because I'm stupid, but not that stupid. I own a car. I do not have to ride. If it's dangerous to ride, then I don't. I am looking at riding well into my elderly years and cutting that short by being the "tough guy" and riding when it's 3 degrees outside with a stiff 15-20 mph. head wind is not going to further that cause.

I suppose I could get outfitted with all that specialty cold weather gear that folks use in the Artic to cycle with but honestly, I would use it so little that it wouldn't make sense to me to have it. This doesn't happen a whole lot: I might miss a handfull of commutes a year because of it, so it's no big deal to me.

Besides, my body can use the break now and then. It's good to rest. I think Mr.24 may have stole this quote somewhere, but I attribute it to him: "Rest as hard as you train." Makes sense to me! (By the way, Mr. 24 got himself a new squadra for '07. Did ya see?)

Then again, my wife is a Registered Nurse, so she is quite familiar with the effects of wind chill on the human body. She also wants me around in good health for herself and to help raise our two kids. Women can be that way, if ya know what I mean, and it's probably a good thing for me.

I suppose that's the real reason I'm not going to ride to work today...........

........and I'm good with that!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wednesday News and Views

Did I ever mention that I got to ride this bike off road and that it rules!

Look for this frame to become available next spring and then watch it become one of the top XC 29"er hardtails of '07.'s that good!

I just completed a review on the F-29 Cannondale Caffeine hardtail for Twenty Nine Inches which details my thoughts on that hardtail 29"er. Go read the review. I will only say here that it is a very different hardtail than most that I have had the pleasure to ride and it's definitely not a "me too" design. It's got a very different personality which may or may not appeal to you. I think it's a smart decision on Cannondales part because it definitely sets their bike apart from the "crowd", if you can call the geared only 29"er hardtail market a crowd.

The post card idea for entry to Trans Iowa is really a blast! (I like getting mail, by the way) The amount of effort and thought going into some of these cards is getting some play on's Endurance Forum. Check it out. Can anybody top Dr. Gary Cale's card? I don't's the front runner right now! (By the way, check out the "advertisement" on his blog. Hilarious!)

Speaking of the subject of Dr. Gary Cale's advertisement, I noticed that the long distance running Dallas Sigurdur has mentioned that a certain somebody might be along for the ride if he makes the roster for Trans Iowa V3. veddy een-tahresteenk! (Don't forget! The cutoff for post card mail ins to get in the lottery drawing for T.I.V3 is December 15th!)

Mr. 24 leaves again on a jet plane today for sunny Southern California. His mission is a secret.......for now! I suspect there will be a "big announcement" coming soon and that his current status in life will forever be changed. Lookin' forward to see what happens and hoping for good things! We'll see come this weekend, I'm thinking!

The Twenty Nine Inches 29"er Festival idea is set for June 23rd and 24th, (I do not have an '07 calendar to verify that, but I believe that's a Saturday-Sunday date) At any rate, things are moving along quite well concerning the event. It looks as though we'll have some major demo bike action from the likes of Fisher, Salsa, Raleigh, the Badger Dorothy (or two!), and a as yet un-named new 29"er manufacturer that will be showing some proto-types. We will be raffling off chances to win a Raleigh 29"er and some other goodies, so stay tuned!

Okay, that's all for today folks! Back to work!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Single Speeding For Novices?

I see that Blue Collar MTB has an interesting article up about single speeding and how it should be a prerequisite for novice trail riders. Seeing as how I am a contributor to the sister of Blue Collar, Twenty Nine Inches, I figured that I'd keep my comments here, so as not to hog up a bunch of commentary space there. I tend to go on and on sometimes, ya know?

I'm seeing two sides to this story, and I haven't quite decided which side to take.........yet, but I think this is the result of a bigger, more complex situation. If you notice what Tim Grahl reports about his conversation with Brad Quartuccio of Dirt Rag, you'll notice that the idea stems from the thought that you would get a better quality single speed at a sub $500.00 price than you would a geared mtb at that price point. So, what is this really saying here?

Are we inferring that mountain bikes at the entry level are too expensive and not high enough quality? Does a higher quality rig, single speed or geared, result in a better off road experience for the beggining off roader? Does any of this really matter at all?

I think all of those are fair questions. My gut reaction is, it really doesn't matter how good your bike is. Or isn't, for that matter. What kind of bandwidth could we fill here with all the stories of begginer mtb'ers or "regular joe" types that were/are cleaning up on folks with mega dollar rigs and more experience on junk equipment? You've all heard the stories before.

So, if it wasn't the equipment, what was it? Skilz my friend, it was da skilz! With the right amount of talent/teaching/practice, you too could be riding at an elevated level compared to most. Yes, even on a mart bike, if need be. While a better bike may enhance the chances of you reaching a higher level or have a better experience, it doesn't guarantee it. No my friend, you can't buy yourself into a great set of off roading skills, ya gots ta earn 'em the good ol' fashioned way.

Now having said all of that, I would agree that perhaps a simpler drivetrain, a rigid platform with super fatty tires, and 29 inch wheels would make the perfect begginer off road machine. Why? Well, it's like Gary Fisher explained to me once. The big wheels " you grace...", the simpler drive train is easier to shift and maintain, (I'd suggest a 1 X 7, or 1 X 8 for longevity and ease of use), and the lack of suspension simplifies things further while enhancing the chances for real trail skills to develope. Sure, a single speed drivetrain might even be better from a simplicity/ ease of use standpoint, but as Tim duly notes in his Blue collar piece, how many folks would get frustrated at having to walk huge sections of single track just because they were relegated to one gear?

So, in the final analysis, I'd say single speeding is best left to us knuckleheads that have a screw or two loose. You know who you are!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gravel Grinding: The Bikes

A Bit More Gravel Love: I had a couple more thoughts on the different aspects of gravel road riding that I wanted to share, so I thought perhaps I would just go ahead and do that now since the last couple of days have been about that subject.

The bikes that people ride on these long gravel rides are all over the place, design-wise. I've seen everything from full on road bikes to full suspended mountain bikes. Anything that has two wheels can and has been pressed into service, but here are my recommendations for what is best. This is going to work for long gravel rides. Like three plus hours.

My first choice would be a fat tired bike out fitted with 1.8 - 2.1 inch wide tires. Fully rigid, with maybe a suspended seatpost or perhaps a soft tail design for comfort on super long rides. Why? Because gravel roads can have a variety of surfaces, textures, and sometimes, no gravel at all! (In which case you might find yourself on an infamous "B" level maintenance road!) During the Dirty Kanza 200, I encountered everything from embedded bedrock, fist sized cobble stone like sections of rock, huge, chunky flint, all the way down to "moon dust" like powder. Even a 75 yard section of deep sand! And that was in the first 90 miles. (Since I didn't get any further than that! Next year!) I wouldn't bother with a suspended front fork. Just extra weight for a minimal benefit. Fat tires at reasonable pressures will do just as good a job.

Gears or not. Pick yer poison there folks. It's all good out on the gravel, although I might add that gravel does a wonderful job of chewing up drivetrain equipment at an accelerated pace. Be advised!

Some folks might argue that a cross bike is better suited to this task. I'd have to disagree there. For short rides, you can get away with it, but on longer rides the twitchy geometry, thinner tires, and seated position will all take their toll. Check out the stories from the first Trans Iowa. Sure, some guys finished well on cross bikes. They also complained of physical ailments well beyond the time of the finish. As in days beyond........weeks even. Numbness and tingling. No thanks! I'll sacrifice a bit of speed to have the comfort and the ability to ride again in a weeks time. Or in ten years time. Ya know, maybe it's got something to do with getting older, but I just do not see any wisdom in winnning an event and being physically destroyed for weeks afterwards with after effects that could last a lifetime. Just me, I guess.........

And finally, of course you would expect that I would say a 29"er is taylor made for such a task, but is! Better roll out, better angle of attack on bumps, and the generally higher handle bar posistion of most 29"ers lends itself to making a perfect gravel grinder. You'll just have to try one!

That's about it for the bike aspect of gravel grinding. Look for a couple more "gravel love" posts in the future.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

T.I. Clones and Booze

When you lead a sheltered existence like I have, only being aware of the local scene, you think you and yer buddies are the only ones insane enough to actually ride gravel roads. I mean, like really.......who else does this crap? Well, I get involved in Trans Iowa, and I find out that alot of folks like it. They like it so much, they actually copy the idea, and have their own events.

The first one I was aware of was the little ride down in Kansas that I ended up going to. The Dirty Kanza 200 wasn't the only one though. I was getting e-mails from Pennsylvania, Florida, and other parts of the nation from guys asking me how I helped do this. Then Endurosnob decided to get in on the action. Now I see Paddy is talking Canadian backroad goodness. Silly wabbits!

Now I'm finding out about all kinds of gravel rides. Rides in Nebraska, rides in Colorado, rides in North East Iowa, training rides, fun rides, and all sorts of gravel grinding goofiness. I guess you could say we all have rocks in our heads. Whatever it is, I like it. I like gravel rides and somehow knowing that a bunch of other folks partake also is kinda.......well, I don't know........ I guess I have some like minded brothers and sisters out there, and I find that to be a good thing.

So, now we come upon a new year and another Trans Iowa is in the works. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I am amazed by the support we get for this gravel grinder. This year, it's the booze. That surprised me, honestly, but in a way, why did it take until year 3 to have it happen? (I guess last years T.I. was partially sponsored by Paddy/Guinness and Stranahan's, since both were flowing freely in the park at Algona: yes, that includes Paddy!) This year we have not only the Stranahan's, but we have an Iowa product just hitting the market again after years of under the radar distribution. That and our first alcohol fueled preems, ( check out the site), that should make the event interesting. Not that the event participants will be drinking......booze, that is..........they'll be racin' for it. Kinda different. Well, this whole event is kinda different, so I guess it fits!

Gravel grinding and booze. Sounds like an enticing mix to me. All I can say is no matter how many stories that you read, ( and there will be stories, mind you), it won't compare to being there.

I'd mark my calendar for April 28th-29th if I were you! See ya there!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Trans Iowa Update

I think that I will periodacally post my thoughts on Trans Iowa up here on weekends for a bit, since that's what will be keeping me somewhat busy around here for awhile. Here's the latest hoo-hah concerning T.I.V3.............

Post Card Entries: This has been a stroke of pure genius! Why we didn't think of this before, I don't know, but Jeff and I have been getting a huge kick out of this since the first cards started rolling in last Monday.

I've got to hand it to you guys, (and one far!), you are a pretty creative bunch! The handmade cards are amongst my favorites. They range from photographs, to handmade cards of very artistic nature, to cards with Trans Iowa themes. I am thinking that these might have to be displayed somehow at the awards banquet, or on-line in a gallery. Maybe both. Really.........some of these cards are pretty cool!

Then we have the "not for public viewing" cards, which some have amazed me from the sheer fact that they made it through the Post Office! Yikes!

One last point about the post cards. You can get them here by any means that you want, but they have to be postcards, they have to have the four required bits of info on each card, and they have to arrive at Europa Cycle and Ski no later than December 15th. By "post card" I mean the size and shape has to be regulation size. You can send it in a 5' X 5' box if you like, but it has to be "post card" sized to be acceptable. Okay?

Cue Sheets: We will be employing the tried and true model for layout, direction, and distribution of the cue sheets. Yes, that means the sheets will be split into a "first half" and "second half", which you must earn the right to receive by completing the first half of the course. Just like in past Trans Iowas. There won't be a "check-in" per se', but you will have to stop to pick up the second set of cues to be able to continue.

The Course: There have been some questions, ( as there have been every year we've done this) as to what the course will be. Other than to say that the course will begin and end in Decorah, we aren't saying. If you get on the roster, and if you actually show up on the 27th of April, you will get the first half of the course on the cue sheets. There will be no map laying out the route for all to see. There will be no list of pass through towns or any hint as to where you are going until you start out on the route in the wee hours of April 28th. (Unless you decide to map out the route during the night instead of sleeping!)

That said, the overall length of the course will be approximately 320 miles. I'll have more on the length and breakdown of the first half length versus second half length later.

Time Limits: Just as in past Trans Iowas, there will be time limitations. You will be required to cover approximately ten miles in every hour to reach the pick up point for your second set of cue sheets and to finish out the event. The event will begin at 4am. on Saturday, April 28th and end at approximately 3pm. on Sunday. (the ending time will be determined by the actual course length.) I'll have more specifics on the times in a later post.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Trek 69er: A Case of White Elephant?

Back in August, I wrote a post on my reaction to the Trek "69er" that was introduced at the Trek dealer show. Needless to say, I thought then, and still do, that Trek made a huge mistake by not offering a full on 29"er, or at least a single speed more befitting the culture of single speed and the heritage of Trek and Bontrager. By forging ahead with the "69er" concept, I feel that Trek has unnecessarily limited their appeal in the marketplace and additionally made things hard on themselves with the original $1700.00 price point.

Original? Yep! They changed the price. To a whopping $2399.99!! For a single speed mountain bike? Wow! I think somebody at Trek needs to maybe re-think this model a bit. I mean, I could buy two Carver single speed 69ers for that price. What does the Trek model have that Carver doesn't? Besides a long wait time for availability, that is.

I'm thinking white elephant here folks. A seriously huge, ginormous, stinking white elephant. I'm not even going to touch upon how goofy the whole 69"er thing is. This project is crazy enough from a whole list of other angles. I still can not get over that price hike. That's the nail in the coffin for me!

Once more, I say that Trek is absolutely looney for not making a steel hard tail Single Track series 29"er, or at least a 26"er single speed. That's Trek's heritage, that's Trek's calling card, that's single speed culture. Not this "beer can" technology, bling-bling, half and half, overpriced exercise in futility called a "69er". Somebody pull this embarassment outta the catalog....please! No offense to Travis Brown, who digs on this concept, but this isn't the way to do it, and especially not for that much scratch.

Rant mode off! Now for some Trans Iowa V3 news! I am proud to announce three new sponsors to the event. Twin Six, the cycling clothing alternative, The 12 Hours of Blue Mound, and Paddy's Preem, a preem for a case of Guiness to the first competitor to reach the first town out on T.I. this year. Thanks everyone! Remember, registration ends December 15th! Get those Post cards in NOW! At the rate they are coming in, we will have well beyond 2000 post cards in the lottery. Thanks to those who have already entered!

And finally.....I am in the process of working out the details on a 29"er Meet Up ride. More details to come!

Be careful if you are riding outside! Dress accordingly and take care! But ride your bike, definitely ride!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Gears and Classics

I was just thinking a bit more about the single speed 29"er availability versus the geared only frame availability and I realized that I had forgotten something. The geared only bikes are just around the corner. As in, there are a bunch of them coming out in '07.

The following bikes came to mind that will be seen in local bike shops soon: Caffeine 29"er from Cannondale, the Raleigh XXIX+G, the Haro Mary XC ( which should be out already), Jamis' new hardtail, Kona's geared hardtail comes back for a second year, and even a Canadian bike from Norco.

Not to mention the several "boutique" brands such as Titus, Badger Dorothy, and even Salsa's El Mariachi will be available as a complete bike, albeit it does have an eccentric bottom bracket for single speed conversion. As does Fisher's new Ferrous, which should be available sometime soon.

I just wanted to mention this, as I didn't want to give the impression that there weren't any geared hardtails available. That used to be the case, but it should be rectified soon.

Finally, I wanted to address something that was brought up during a discussion the other day. The Karate Monkee. Someone suggested that it be updated, when I think what they really wanted to see was a totally new bike from Surly. Why do I say that? Because most folks don't get it when it comes to the Karate Monkee.

How soon we all forget! Take yourself back to 2002. Now, name all the 29"ers available to the public. Sound rediculous? I bet if you think about it, you could do it, and you wouldn't even use up all of your digits counting. There wasn't much of anything available to the public beyond customs and Fishers. Then the Karate Monkee came. Okay, if you wanted maximum selling potential in 2003, you would be smart to do a "do-it-all" frame. SS, geared, suspended, or not. Commuter, off road, or touring. The Karate Monkee can, and has, done them all.

So, now things are different, why not change it now? Because the Karate Monkee is a standard. It's a benchmark that other 29"ers are still measured by. Also, it still is arguably the best "do-it-all" production 29"er frameset out there.

I know it's probably too soon to nominate for 29"er Hall of Fame bikes, but I vote for the Karate Monkee, which by the way, is still the coolest name for a bicycle ever!

Okay, that's my random thoughts for today. Don't forget! Trans Iowa Registration is open now until December 15th! Get your postcards in before the deadline!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Let the Fun Begin!

Here are the very first post cards to show up at the shop for the Trans Iowa Lottery drawing to take place on December 16th.

I suspect that these will be some of the tamer and more public viewing friendly cards that we will recieve. Thatis, if all the threats we have read on the web are to be believed!

Here's our little Box of Voo Doo that all the entry cards are going to go into.

I also suspect that this box is a bit too small....

I'll have to get to work on the El Grande' Box o Voo Doo I suppose, before it's too late!

So, this is what it's all about for Jeff and I........FUN. If it isn't going to be fun for us, and hopefully for you out there, this Trans Iowa thing will be done in a heartbeat. People wonder why we do things the way we do, and honestly, it's two things. Because we believe it's the best way, and it's FUN. We are not asking anyone to buy into our ideas. We aren't even asking you to buy anything this year! We just want to provise a kick in the junk challenge that is a good time for all. Well, alot of it is up to you and your attitude, but we are doing our best provide something cool.

And speaking of providing something cool.................

Have you checked out the website? We have recieved sponsorship again from the fine folks at Surly, Cannondale, Hammer Gel, and first time sponsor, Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey. Whiskey? Yep! T.I. competitor Dave Nice got us hooked up, (Thanks!) and actually had a bit o the stuff with him this past spring. I must say, it's a smooth draw if your into whiskey at all. Much better than alot of stuff out there, in my opinion. Anyway, it's great to have them on board with the other fine sponsors, which always blows me away. I mean, we're just a couple of crazy knuckleheads out here in Iowa putting on an event that gets these guys to sponsor us? I have to pinch myself sometimes. Thanks to all of you companies and the people behind them. You're great!

So, sit back with me now and watch the post cards roll in! It should be fun, and I'll keep ya'all updated from time to time here.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Separating The Sheep From The Goats

As I get more and more involved in the testing and riding of different 29"ers and some of the proprietary parts that go along with it, I am realizing one thing. Some of this stuff is going to go away. Yep! You won't be seeing some of the bikes and some of the parts that you can lay hands on now in a year. Maybe less.

Alot of this has to do with the sheer economics of things and alot of it has to do with.......well, how can I say this?.........Stupid things. Yes, that's it,........ stupid things.

First, the economics. There are so many single speed/ do-it-all frames and complete bikes out there for '07 that I can not believe that all of them will survive to see '08 or '09 catalogs. The market for 29"ers, while growing, isn't really going in that direction. I mean, how many 26 inch wheeled single speed bikes are flying out the doors of shops? See what I mean? There has to be more 29"er single speed complete bikes available from major bike brands than 26"ers. I just can not seem to remember a time when so many single speed bikes were available.

The market won't support all of these SS 29"ers and it wants geared 29"ers that are mid-priced. And the whole she-bang is quickly going to move in the direction of All Mountain full suspension once the details of designs are worked out for 29"ers. Some bikes, like Niners R.I.P. 9 are already there. The SS 29"er glut will subside, mark my words!

Then there are the stupid things. Stupid like, Hey! Look at our new full suspension 29"er that will blow everybody else out of the water........wha?......Reba forks hit the down tube?.....uh....wait a minute.....(crap!).......Nevermind!" Yeah, stupid stuff like that is really happening out there. Tire clearance issues, fork clearance issues, and geometry that hasn't been well thought out plagues several 29"ers out there. The evolution of the species will weed out these weak examples and they will become endangered species, if not extinct, in short order. Then the engineering side will come into play a little later on. Who did their homework and who didn't? Well, it's hard to say, but the scrap pile won't lie, and it's gonna get higher before it gets figured out. 29"ers put a lot different stresses on things than 26"ers do, so the best designs that are well executed will survive. (I'm betting that the only things that'll survive a nuclear holocaust are cockroaches and Karate Monkees, but that's just me!)

Whatever happens, it'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. However, I just don't see alot of these "bigwheeled goats" making the cut. That's my take.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Back At It!

Well, that was fun while it lasted! Those big holday weekends are always a time that trips me up. I guess I am a routine kind of guy. I kind of get lost in an unstructured period of time like we just experienced over the past four days. It was good from the standpoint of getting some much needed rest though, I will say that much!

For the next couple of weeks I'll be posting a reminder that Trans Iowa registration is open. If you go to the website, you will be directed as to how to get your chance to enter the event. I'll also post any new announcements here as well. Remember, the registration post cards must be recieved no later than December 15th!

I'm getting busy with that Trans Iowa stuff again and also another event which I will be announcing as soon as some final details are hashed out. Keep your eyes peeled here and on Twenty Nine Inches for that announcement soon!

So, lets see......what else is up? Well, the Caffiene 29"er update is due soon in which I will lay out some numbers and further impressions about the bike. I will have an update on the carbon 29"er forks soon, and possibly a new introduction soon for a bike. Of course the ongoing Haro project which will be detailed when there is any action on that.

Other than that, it's just work as usual!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Trans Iowa V3 Announcement!

The details for the third running of Trans Iowa are starting to become more clear. Here's the latest scoop for those of you that are thinking about this. Be sure to check out my post below this one for a few teaser photos of the course.

Trans Iowa has been set for the weekend of April 28th-29th, 2007. The Friday before (27th) will be some sort of socializing, meet and greet sort of thing with a place and time to be announced later.

Trans Iowa will be run in a loop starting from Decorah, Iowa in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the 28th. It will be run in a clockwise direction through eleven of Iowa's counties. The riders that overcome the challenge should reach Decorah again somtime during the mid day or afternoon of Sunday, April 29th. An awards ceremony at T-Bocks Bar and Grill will follow up the event.

Registration is NOW OPEN!! Please see the Trans Iowa V3 site for further details on how to enter this event.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

V3 Recon

"Who disturbs our quiet repose?!!"

A view from the side of the road somewhere in Northeast Iowa.

It was almost foggy, and definitely overcast earlier in the day. Look closely, though, and you can see the road I'm on winding away in the distance.

Another view of some of the winding gravel roads.

I had to for go another round of single track riding at the camp for some long over due Trans Iowa recon. I was pleased with the roads I was able to check out today. It was a gray, overcast day, but dry. The roads were pretty full of gravel right now, but that might change by spring.

The one thing that surprised me was the lack of wildlife sightings, but I guess I did see alot of hunters out and the deer are pretty much nocturnal at this time of year.

Anyway, about half the course is accounted for, another bit is known to exist, but I haven't been on it yet. The rest needs to be driven. Hopefully December will be kind and allow for a day of driving!

I'll have more pictures then.........

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Tyranny of (Gear) Choice

Here's a bit of a ramble. Blame it on massive Thanksgiving calories that have jump started my brain into action. Possibly turning some gears up there that haven't been turned in awhile. Whatever it is, this is the result!

I was having an e-mail conversation with a Trans Iowa veteran who brought up the concept of "tyranny of choice". In short form it describes how having too many choices can cause depression, nuerosis, and all sorts of psychological mayhem.

For instance I have this problem when I go into a place that sells music. (On-line now, but they used to be a brick and mortar place you actually walked into called a record store. I know, I don't know what I'm talkin' about, that's okay) Anyway, I peruse all the selections until I'm numb, confused, and depressed. I usually left with nothing, well, when I went in a music it's just on-line stuff. Anywho.........Tyranny of Choice, too much choice and you can't deal with it, ya know?

So, I have been riding a singlespeed for about three and a half years exclusively and all of a sudden these geared 29"ers start showing up. I have a choice! Gears! I discovered it when I was grinding up the street on my way home from work on my inaugral ride on the Dorothy. It was pretty cool.

Then for awhile it was fun. Let's see what gear works here. How about over there! Then something started to happen that wasn't so fun. I found my self trying to figure out my gearing choice more and paying less attention to what the trail was doing up ahead. I started to not get up some things as well or as fast as I did on the single speed. I started to get into the redline more from spinning too low a gear. I started to have less fun. Maybe it's just me, but all of this gear choice was starting to become a liability at times. Then throw in the occaisional hiccup in the system, ( cable stretch, chain not interfacing with leaf covered cassette, and dry chain) and it was getting on my nerves more and more.

Then it came to me. I had too many choices! So, I eliminated the granny gear from the menu and stuck with the middle ring more and more. When the Salsa boys were in town, they had a bike with them set up as a 1 X 9. It made alot of sense to me. Less choices to futz over, more time to concentrate on fun. Not to mention, it was lighter and less complicated than a full 27 gear set up.

So, at least for me, too many gears are a drag. You could say it's a "Tyranny of Gear Choice". It screws with your head, your bikes functionality, and your pocketbook when it comes to maintenance time. Less is more. You know, I wouldn't mind going back to 21 speeds of goodness. Thicker cogs, thicker chains, better shifting for a longer duration of time. Less apt to get screwed up by the conditions at hand. But that's a whole 'nuther story.

I guess that's enough rambling for one evening. Especially seeing as how the food buzz is starting to wear off! where was that last slice o pie!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mary Comes For A Visit....

It all started like this. A box from the "Brown Santa".........

What should I find inside but a neatly wrapped and packaged frameset!

Once I got the warppings of her, I could say hello to Mary! (The XC version, that is)

Double butted chrome molybdenum goodness!

Some sexy looking chainstays on this here Mary!

Maybe she'll be a compliant ride because of this. We'll see!

I'm looking forward to getting this bike built up in the next weeks, (months!) depending upon when I can afford parts aquisitions! As I mentioned, this is the XC version of Haro's Mary 29"er series and it is geared only. I'll have to decide exactly how I'm going to go about it, but the plan is to do a 2 X 9 drivetrain on it. I'll also be keeping it rigid with the Bontrager Switchblade Race X Lite fork and a Salsa Shaft seat post, which I'll have to order in the 410mm X 31.6mm size to accomodate my long legs. Other decisions yet to be made, but I'll keep ya'all up to date on the progress!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, (to all who celebrate that holiday) and instead of pumpkin pie, how's about riding that bike!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Ultimate Gravel Grinders

Just got word in today that the Dirty Kanza route has been pre-ridden. It looks to be a great route this year, (it's supposedly a totally different route from last years). You can check out some route photos here:
(Blogger is goofy this morning, or I'd have hyper-linked that for you!)

The Dirty Kanza 200 is going to take place starting in Emporia Kansas on May 19th. More info will be posted here as it becomes available. It should be another really fun time on the sharp flint gravel of Kansas. I can not wait!

Another gravel grinder that I just happen to have something to do with is Trans Iowa, ( It will be taking place at the end of April, but we haven't decided which of two weekends that we will be using yet. Our course should be around 330- 350 miles long and will be one big loop, just like Dirty Kanza's course. We are featuring some tougher hills this year and this could quite possibly be the toughest Trans Iowa, (barring the weather) yet. Of course, any and all updates will be found here.

Finally, the last gravel event that I want to mention is my namesake event, The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, which I plan on riding in July, probably mid-month as of right now. More info on this past summers event can be found at or any future announcements can also be found here.

Gravel.....just what is it about this stuff anyway? Look for more thoughts on that to come!