Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Times They Are A-Changin': Verse Two

Tagging onto yesterdays post, I had another related thought. The appearance of more 100 mile events is interesting. As many of you may already know, there is a new national series based on existing 100 mile events. It was developed as an answer, ( a better alternative, I guess might be more accurate) to the NORBA national series Marathon events. There is something else that I find interesting about these 100 mile events though.

The old skool nature of alot of these events is not lost on me. Many riders might think of the 100 milers as some new trend. I see them as a "return to the roots" kind of event. Here's why: In the beginnings of the sport, many of the great races were long distance, point to point races. In other words, they were cross country races! You in; you ride your bike across the country? Yeah, that seemed to have gotten lost somewhere along the way and what we now know as a XC race is nothing more than a dirt criterium. Bunch of corners here, a few climbs there, short distance, and off you go! The only thing they are missing is a bell lap!

That's why these 100 milers are beautiful. They are really what "XC" races should have been all along. The "marathon" events that NORBA puts on should really be called sprint races. The XC races of today should be renamed "dirt criteriums" especially since you can get mechanical assistance, which flies in the face of what the original intents of the charter members of NORBA were in the first place. Namely that all riders should be self sufficient! How hard is that to understand? I guess that would be my one and only beef with the current 100 mile race series. They allow drop bags and aid stations. Hrrumph! Aid stations! .............whatever.

Anyway.........These 100 milers. Beautiful! I look for more of this type of event to crop up in the future. It's more all terrain riding and less of the roadie thing.

.................................not that there is anything wrong with roadies! Anybody seen those new Jan Ullrich bikes?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Hey everybody! I'm back from the Holiday and I hope all of you out there that had this holiday had a good one. Now, it's back to regular blogging!

I was reading with interest on Adam Lisonbee's blog about the feeling he had that the Solo category in 24 hour endurance events was dwindling and why he thought that might be so. I had done a little research into the team entries over the past six years or so from the top tier 24 hour races and found similar results to Adam's. Nothing concrete, but some lower numbers here and there.

The feeling is that with the increase in travel costs, the high entry fee prices for the top tier events, and the rise of local, smaller endurance races, that the endurance fields are going to be thinner. It's really a combination of all these influences that is going to make the "big time" events suffer numbers-wise in the future. Some will say that endurance racing is on the wane. I think that view is short sighted. The numbers of long distance, small, underground type of events is on the rise. That's automatically going to draw off a portion of the field right there. Add in travel expenses and you will see more folks staying closer to home. If there is a good local event, the choice is clear on where to go. Sometimes it's the cheaper entry prices that the smaller venues have that attracts riders. For instance; the Dirty Kanza was $40.00, and travel expenses don't look as bad when the entry is that low.

So, the times are changing and the endurance race landscape is going to be different. I wouldn't say it's a bad thing, just different. The rise in numbers of smaller events that offer great riding and lots of it are helping out where the larger venues with their attendant travel fees and high entry costs are causing folks to reconsider their plans. Those big events will still be popular, I just don't see them "growing" anymore, and perhaps they will shrink somewhat. We'll see.

On a side note: It looks as though the Kokopelli Trail Race is a goner! I will reserve my personal comments here and only say that it is an event that will be missed. Especially under it's former guiding hand of Mike Curiak. Perhaps someone else will be moved to pick up where he left off?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Lazy, Hot Afternoon = Special Project Time!

With mid-summer like heat and humidity today, I find myself avoiding the afternoon for riding in favor of more "cool" activities. Well, the fact that my wife has gone with a friend to see the newest X-Men film and having both my children upstairs taking naps may have something to do with that too................anyway

What we have here is a little special project for a special person. It's not everyday that I get to lace up carbon fiber hoops! These are super rare hoops and are still in proto type stage, so I'm pretty lucky to even lay hands on 'em. Normally, these would have been built up at the factory with the companies own design of hubs. Well, that's normally. We are talking about some one special here, and they require a special front hub for their special one-legged fork. Pretty special, huh?

Well, that's what I'm doing this afternoon. Maybe later I'll go out for a night ride. Should cool off by then! Have a great day, ya'all!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

What's Next?

Now that all the early season objectives/ chores have been accomplished it's time to look at the summer months and see what is coming up ahead here at Guitar Ted Labratories.

Right now testing has already commenced on a pair of Exi Wolf Race 29"er tires for an upcoming review on The Biking Hub . I also am a regular contributor to the site and you can find my latest ramblings here. You usually can catch up with the latest that has been posted there from me once a week. Check out the rest of the sites achives for some cool tips, reviews, and other mtb related things from all of the other fine contributors to that site.

Since this guy and that guy have race dates scheduled throughout the summer months, and I work with them, I will be covering for them most of the time and not picking up much in the way of racing myself. I'm planning on some things for the fall months, when the shop business slows down. Until then, I'll be doing some riding up at the Ingawanis Boy Scout Camp and trying to get up to the Decorah area, Sugar Bottom, and some other good Iowa riding spots for reports on where to ride in our state. Look for that coming up this Summer and Fall.

Of course, long gravel grinders will also figure into the mix. Can't forget that. The 12 hours of Cedar Valley is coming up, and that event should give me a chance to score another "Ted-terview" with an area or regional racer of some sort. Plus the always constant rumors. That will provide some fodder from time to time. Speaking of which, Twenty Nine Inches is the site to go to for the latest rumors and product info in regards to the world of big wheeled bikes. I'll sometimes have a post or two on there as well.

Closer to Fall we'll have the Trek Show in Madison, Wisconsin to report from, bringing you the latest in news from Fisher's '07 29"er lineup and Trek's mtb offerings. I also am looking at possibly getting to Inter Bike for even more product overload!

And if nothing else, I can always just rant about what ever strikes my fancy. I seem to find that easy to come by!

Friday, May 26, 2006

I Don't Have Time For It Anymore

The recent situations that have arisen in Italy in regards to the Giro have been recieved with a yawn here at Guitar Ted Labratories. Let's see now, it's May, there is a Grand Tour going on in Italy.........must be time for the policia to make a bust, no? I mean, how long has this been going on? Since the late nineties it would seem that this has become an annual ritual. It's as good a bet that there will be a scandal as it would be to say that your flowers will bloom in your garden. It's just a matter of which day it will occur.

You know, I just don't have time for it anymore. For the Giro, for doping, or for cheating of any type. And not only in our Grand Tours, but in our own backyards! Yep! Look around you. Cheating is happening in your local races. It's happening at high profile national events. It's disgusting and it's got to stop.

Why? What can you do about it anyway? Well.........that's sooo simple, it's stupid. The first thing you can do about it is to not do it yourself! Oh yes! It matters what you do. People are watching and learning from you everyday. Your choices influence other people. Don't believe it? Hmmm.........when was the last time you took a cue from someone else's nutrition plan, their training, their equipment choices. Yeah..........that's what I'm talkin' about!

The second thing you can do about it is to talk about cheating. The best way for a cheater to get away with what they have done is for everyone to keep their mouth shut. I'm not talking about "making a big stink" about it. Just let people know that you know. A cheater exposed is not long for this world. Let the promoters know, let the person that did the deed know, ( in as nice a way that you can) that you are aware of them. Knowledge is power, you know?

I'm not talking about being a narc here. (Does anybody even know what a narc is anymore?) I'm just saying that it's time we all started taking our sport back, and started showing an intolerance to cheating. Yes....I said intolerance. It starts with you and I on a local level. If we all start showing that we give a damn about this then it'll start to affect the upper reaches of our sport too.

And if we don't do anything, then we are doomed to things like the annual display of idiocy that we get every May in Italy. No thanks! I've got better things to do than watch that crap!

Oh yeah! I'm not going to be too quiet about any cheating that I see..........just so you know!

Have a great weekend! Ride your bike. Be fair! Have some fun. OUT!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dirty Kanza: Final Thoughts

Thanks for checking out my Dirty Kanza coverage on Audio Blogger and for reading my posts on my experience there. Today I want to wrap things up with some thoughts and comments on that event.

The Event Organizers: An event is only as good as the people behind the scenes making it happen. I can say that to a man, Dirty Kanza had the best people behind it you could ask for. They obviously took what Trans Iowa inspired them to do and made it their own. Kudos to the staff of Dirty Kanza!

The Event Itself: When you look at the way the event was set up and the course it was run on, again, you have to be impressed. It could quite possibly be the ultimate gravel grinder. With the length, the hills, and the variance in texture and quantity of the gravel road surface, Dirty Kanza has raised the bar on what an epic gravel grinder is.

Next Year: What I Would Change: This is just my opinion, but since I also help promote an epic gravel grinder, I think I can comment here with some wisdom. The course markings were so good that the riders maps were almost superfluous. You had a 200 mile course marked as well as an XC race course! The self sufficient nature of the event might be enhanced by making the riders rely more on navigational skills. Here is my suggestion: Have the riders self navigate while in the rural areas via a map, such as was provided, or by cue sheets, ala Trans Iowa. Then when riders reach a city, have the course marked with the ribbons, as was done in the rural sections this year. The cue sheet idea makes the riders have to pay attention to navigation a little more, adding another element to the challenge. Cue sheet numbers go up when you have more turns. The most turns you have in any given stretch are usually in towns. Eliminate the town cue sheets with the marking tape and the cue sheet numbers will be much more reasonable. that I think of it, maybe Trans Iowa should do that!

Next Year: What I Wouldn't Change: I wouldn't change alot of things. I wouldn't allow more competitors. Why? Because the nature of the event would necessarily have to change along with having more people in the event. In short: It either should stay small, or have 250 people on course with all the attendant hoopla that that kind of an event would require. I liked the smaller, more manageable size of the event. It was more of a close knit group, as far as the racers were concerned, and everybody was able to get something from the event, if they so chose to do. Go big and you lose all of that. I wouldn't change the venue headquarters. As long as the Travel Lodge will have you, I would continue to use them. They had a great place to stay at reasonable prices and the race organizers had a great place to base their operations from. Also, the racers themselves could all congregate there, and many stayed in the facility making the level of camaraderie high. Don't change the entry fee unless you absolutely have to go higher. These "underground" type of events should stay simple and therefore the race entry fee should reflect that. Finally: Don't let your plans become so rigid that spontaneous occurances are denied a chance to arise. What do I mean? Well, take for instance the post race gathering. The organizers didn't plan that, it just happened on it's own. I wouldn't mind it if it was the same way next year. A similar thing happened at Trans Iowa this year in Algona, excepting that it was much colder and unpleasant outside! I'm not sure how you "plan" for that, but it really lent to the low key, fun atmousphere of the event. Sometimes promoters make a big deal out of somethings that are more fun if they are simple, know what I mean?

On My Personal Experience: Now there's something I would change! Of course, I'd finish the event, first of all. However;I am not going to get too down on myself . It was only the first competition for me in almost ten years. I know what I've got to work on, and being in Dirty Kanza has shown me that. I absolutely had a blast this year. There were some parts of the course that brought out a very personal experience for me and I enjoyed that. I'm sure that if I had seen and ridden all of it, it only would have enhanced that for me. I really am excited about having been back on the other side of the fence and I look forward to doing that some more.

For now though, I see many long rides in my future this summer!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rocks, Dust, and Fun!: Part IV

Podium Kiss: Lacking any sleek Italian women, (since they were all at the Giro busy kissing Basso) The Dirty Kanza volunteers stepped up to the plate, sacrificing any dignity for the sake of proper podium procedure.

Post Race Hanging Out: The atmousphere of Dirty Kanza was really great. Almost everyone that finished and a few of us that didn't chose to hang out, eat pizza, drink beers, and generally have a great time until the skies opened up on us!

Mid Race Checkpoint Hi-jinx: After I and Cory Hientz decided to pull the plug, all we had to do was get back to Emporia. Doug at the check point told us that they had room to haul both of us back, so we stayed and hung around the check point for about an hour. There was another racer on a Niner bike hanging out when we got there. He was into the beer pretty heavily and was regaling everyone with these outlandish tales peppered with obscenities and laughter. I didn't know it at the time, but this guy was D.J. Bertch, a well known racer. I'd heard of him, but I had no idea what he looked like, so I was clueless as to his identity at the time. I just thought he was some yay-hoo on a cool proto-type AIR 9 Niner. It was fun listening to his stories and watching him fake out his Cocker Spaniel by playing fetch with him. I talked with him quite a bit while we waited for the check point to close up shop, and had a tall boy with the gang working the tent. After everything got packed away, Cory and I jumped in and got our ride back to the Travel lodge. No one else came through while we were there. Only one other rider was behind us, and he didn't reach Cottonwood Falls until past 3pm.

The Finish Line: After I got back, I showered, grabbed some Taco Bell, and went into reporter mode. (Check out the audio blogs by scrolling down) I won't get into the details of the race finish, as that's been covered already. I just want to say here that the vibe and the quality of the post-race hang out was stellar. The volunteers threw up two pop up tents in the Travel Lodge's parking lot and put out a cooler of beer. The rest, as they say, is history. As more finishers came in, Scott Capstack would ring the cowbell, we would clap, and Doug would congratulate them on an awesome ride. Then, typically, those finishers would sit down and join us. Soon, someone had pizza delivered to the parking lot, and then everyone else must have decided that was a good idea, because that pizza delivery guy was back at least five times throughout the evening! Then, at about 11:30 or so, lightining appeared in the skies to the south. Not much later the rains came, and whoa! It came down hard! Cold drops of rain slammed down on the pop ups and everyone scattered and then huddled underneath the tents for a while. Not long after that, the intensity of the wind and rain increased to the point where the party was over. The down drafts were hard. By this time, only one guy was left out on course. It was the man I drove down to Dirty Kanza with, David Pals. We were getting quite concerned for him.

The Final Chapter: Just like any good story, the final chapter should be the climax of the story, and Dirty Kanza didn't disappoint. While the torrential rain came down and time passed by, we all became more and more concerned for David's safety. Scott and Craig decided to drive the course backwards to find him. They weren't gone long before Joel got a call from them saying that David was just coming into town! That was great news. He was going to finish! Well within the time limit, and in epic fashion, having gone through that storm at the end. Then, Craig and Scott came walking up and they were obviously very agitated. It seemed that David had been struck by a car only three blocks from the finish! A young motorist, not watching very well, made a turn into the street that David was riding on and knocked him completely off his bike. Thank God the pavement was wet, as David slid across it without much damage. He remounted his bike, which was fine, and finished to a hearty round of applause and back slapping.

So, that was how it all ended at about 1:00 am. Sunday morning. Everyone went to a much deserved nights rest. The first Dirty Kanza 200 was in the books!

Tomorrow I'll give my final thoughts and commentary on the Dirty Kanza 200, and then, it's back to your regularly scheduled blog!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Rocks, Dust, and Fun!: Part III

Kansas "B" Level Maintenance Road: Here is an example of some of the roads we passed through during the event. This turned into a dirt double track for about two miles. Notice the larger, angular rocks along the edge of the old bridge. These would sometimes be all across the road! Sometimes embedded stones the size of a mans fist would rattle your eyeballs out. Sometimes there was even "moondust" and deep sand all across the road! One thing for sure, it never was the same for very long.

Mid race Checkpoint: At Cottonwood Falls there was a city park where the mid race check point was. You could meet your support people here or send ahead a drop bag to this point if you were solo. That's my bike in the fore ground and Cory Heintz's bike behind it.

After the race started, we were led through Emporia by Joel in his pick up truck to the edge of town. Once on the gravel, the first thing I noticed was that there was a bit of confusion with everyone trying to find a line through some pretty chunky gravel. The speeds then picked up and I saw a group of three lines- right, middle, and left- with about six to eight guys in each speed off the front. They were actually kicking up a cloud of dust and fine bits of sharp gravel! I had planned on pegging the speedo at about 13-14 mph and staying there. I let these guys go up the road. I have never done anything longer than a cross country race in my life, although, I've put in several long rides not under race conditions.

I looked around to see what was left around me and I saw Dan Furman on a Gary Fisher Rig single speed almost right beside me. We hooked up and were running the same pace. He was chatty, so we talked for the first 15 miles or so. In that time, we saw Rob Pennell of Badger Cycles off the side of the road. He had EBB problems and he waved us by. Next, we saw a rider on an red Cannondale hardtail with a flat. He was okay too. Then we came up on Cory Heintz and Paul Jacobson. Cory was fixing the second of his six flats on the day! He let Paul go, and Paul joined Dan and I for several miles. The gravel was still really chunky and broken off at sharp angles. I began to get "rock eyes", looking for any larger pieces standing on edge, waiting to knife into my tires.

For awhile, I was off the front from Paul and Dan as I was climbing a little faster than they wanted to go. I let them catch back on just outside of Council Grove, when I realized that I needed to switch out water bottles from my back pack. I had five water bottles full to get me to Council Grove and with ten to go, I still had two left. Not too bad , I thought. When we got to Council Grove, we all stopped at a convenience store. I felt very rushed and I wasn't just taking my time and thinking things through like I should have. This led to a mistake that I would pay dearly for later. Instead of filling back up to a maximum of five water bottles again, I only filled two, with a one and a half left over from the beginning. I was thinking it was only another 33 miles to Cottonwood Falls and the mid race check point. In reality, it was about ten more miles than that.

With my seat post slipping down, I was putting too much stress on my knees and I couldn't just raise it up using the QR, since the extra bolt on water cage I installed was now jammed against the QR lever! I had to stop and get it sorted out, so I told Paul to go on ahead with Dan at about mile 54. That was the last I'd ride with anybody the rest of the day. After I posted an audio blog and had fixed the seat post problem, I rode on. I had been carrying a pretty good average speed of around 14mph. My nutritional strategy was spot on. I had energy and felt great. At mile 63, I went down a fast down hill grade and felt a jerk on the cranks. I looked down and I had thrown my chain. A quick stop and inspection revealed no other problems, so I remounted the chain and rode on again. At mile 73, I felt like my wheel was about jerked out from underneath me and I just about dumped it on the left side. I looked down at the front tire and it was soft. Flat! I stopped and repaired it. I noticed that at this time I was just about drained out of water. Not good! In fact, I was on the last few gulps. I continued on, running out of water a couple miles later. I rode up the rode just a little further to find a table with three large jugs of water sitting by the side of the road. I stopped and filled two bottles, thinking this would surely be enough to get me in the last ten miles. What I didn't know was it was going to be more like 15 miles and I must have sucked those two water bottles down in about the next five, because everything was dry again before I knew it!

About this time, the course ran into a very flat run on mostly paved roads. No chance to coast and not much scenery to look at. This was my least favorite part of the course so far. I hate flat roads and single speeding! I also noticed that the wind had started to pick up dramatically out of the South East. Great! That's just the direction I was headed. With no water, low humidity, (45% or so) and a big 25mph head wind to contend with, it didn't take long for me to wither. My mouth got real dry, and I started having trouble thinking straight. I started up this monster paved climb and I realized that I didn't have anything left in the tank. I couldn't keep the pedals turning over fast enough to get anything beyond 7mph to show on the computer at maximum effort. I got off and walked. I tried it again after about 30 yards of walking in the face of a stiff wind. Nope! Still nothing. I rummaged through my back pack like a mad man looking for what I thought was my last gel flask. I couldn't find it! I was very agitated at this point. Then I noticed another rider coming up from behind!

I thought, "Well, I don't know who he is, but he's not gonna catch me!" I remounted the bike and pushed as hard as I could over the crest of the hill. It was one of those false summit jobs, too! I was thinking I'd gain time on the downhill side, but I had to pedal to maintain a 15mph descent in the face of that wind! Suck, suck, suck! Rollers the rest of the way into town. I pushed as hard as I could go to get to the checkpoint before the other rider. I think I got in about five minutes up on him. It was Cory Heintz! He had pushed equally as hard after spending up to an hour and a half fixing flats along the road. Amazing! Not only that, but he was holding the last gel flask of mine that he found along side of the road! I must have dropped it when I fixed my flat. A little to late to do me much good, but very appreciated! Thanks Cory! I checked the time and I was into the checkpoint with plenty of time to spare.

The volunteers warned us that the hardest part was right around the corner. I thought I might be up to it yet, but when I bent over to pick up my drop bag, I just about passed out! That's when it hit me that it might not be a good idea to continue. I wasn't thinking the best anyway. I know now that I made the correct decision, but it wasn't the one that I wanted to make. I realize that there will be other times and places, so there was no sense in doing more damage or possibly killing myself just to complete this ride. Nope! Time to re-group, learn, and try again some other time. So, I pulled the plug right there on Dirty Kanza. I had a great time riding for 90 miles. Now, it was time to hitch a ride back to Emporia with the volunteers and do some reporting on the event.

Next: The Finish Line

Monday, May 22, 2006

Rocks, Dust, and Fun!: Part II

Hotel room turned race prep area!

Pre-race tuning, and logistics planning were the order of the day, er......evening, I should say!

Friday Night Check in: Here are some of the folks checking in to pick up their race packets and sign waivers before the race start on Saturday. Lots of the competitors stayed at the Travel Lodge which made it easy to hang out and chat before and after the event.

Pre Race: David Pals graciously agreed to put up with your humble correspondent on this trip. He picked me up on Friday morning for the trip down to Emporia, Kansas. Along the way, we decided to pull off the Interstate and drive some of the roads that passed through the North Eastern part of the course. We found a beautifully rolling hill terrain that made us more excited to ride with each passing mile. The first pass through town of Council Grove was really nice, with alot of stone statuary in different places. Many of the buildings were stone or brick from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some streets were pave'. Cool stuff! The mid way check point town of Cottonwood Falls was also much the same. It had a magnificent court house that is the oldest court house currently in use west of the Missisippi.

We checked into our motel at the Travel Lodge at about the same time as Paddy Hummeny and his wife Naomi pulled in. It was great to see Paddy again and meet Naomi. Inside the motel we found the check in area set up in the court yard. I met Scott, Craig, and Joel who put so much work into this event. They were great guys and we had some good chats through out the course of the weekend. Thanks to them for putting on such a finely tuned event and for all the work involved.

On the way down, my wife Phyllis called to say that she forgot the suntan lotion. So David and I ran around town looking for a place that was still open to get what I needed. Well, we could have gotten out earlier, but we were too busy chatting and I forgot about it until about 8pm. when everything closed up in town. I finally found some at a local grocery store only to get back to our room to find the bottle my wife actually did pack when I opened up my suit case! Oh well! better safe than sorry! The weird closing times in town would return to bite us again later. After getting all of our race gear organized, our drop bags packed, and bikes prepped, David and I hit the hay for our nights sleep. Alarm was set already by a previous guest at 4:00 am. Perfect!

We both actually slept quite well, and the alarm woke us at 4:00 am as planned. We had planned on hitting up some breakfast at an all-night type place. Unfortunately, we were unable to find anything open! Even gas station/ convenience stores were closed! We finally stumbled upon a truck stop that was open for business right across from the meat packing plant. This wasn't your ordinary truck stop. Oh no! This was a old skool truck stop! Basically, it was just a cafe', but this is what all truck stops were traditionally before the mid-sixties, which this relic of a restuarant still was. We are talking time warp kind of stuff here! Anyway, we ended up wolfing down the huge pancake and eggs breakfast and busting out of there as fast as we could. The delay in finding a place to eat was causing a huge time crunch as we needed to be at the start line for the pre race meeting by 5:30am.

Once there, we were joined by the other racers. I met Garth Prosser, who is a Cannondale sponsored rider. His mount was an older Sobe' Team hardtail with a Lefty ELR fork. He said he preferred it over the newer versions of the fork. Some of the Iowa contingent were there, as well. Paul Jacobson, Matt Matthewsen, Cory Heintz, and of course David Pals and myself. Paddy H. and Joe Partridge were there. It was nice to see the familiar faces. The pre race meeting went smoothly and at 6:05 am Scott Capstack rang the cowbell for the start. We were off!

Tomorrow: The opening salvos of Dirty Kanza 200 take their toll on some of the riders! Tune in for more DK 200 reports coming your way.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Rocks, Dust, and Fun!

Well, I'm back in the cozy confines of the Guitar Ted Labratories. Dirty Kanza '06 is over and what a great time it was! I really can't say enough about the ride and the organizers that put this on. Thanks guys!

More posts to come on all the details. Tonight, my mind is too scrambled from all the travel and emotions on the day. Suffice it to say that I will have a couple of detailed reports coming that will lay it all out for you guys. The good news is that if you missed it this year, they are planning on doing this all again next year. I'll be there. Will you?

Congratulations to all 15 finishers and everyone that took part in the event. I met alot of great people and had a great time.
this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, May 18, 2006

First Leg Over

Hey everyone! My first leg of the trip is over. I'm in Des Moines, Iowa at my sister's house. Tomorrow, I hook up with the "Viking in Training" David Pals, for the ride into Emporia, Kansas.

Audio blogger was "down for maintenance" tonight, so hopefully that is rectified by tomorrow!

Nothing else exciting to post excepting the stunt my daughter tried to pull by opening the door at 65mph on the way down!


Off To Dirty Kanza!

I'm off today to start my journey to Emporia, Kansas and the Dirty Kanza 200. Thanks to the web-saavy Paul Jacobson, I found these shots of the Flint Hills area where the event will be held.

There will be 11 of these low water crossings on course!

The Flint Hills are pretty remote. Some of the last open range tall grass prarie on earth is here. Cattle free range in areas, so we may have some encounters of the bovine variety!

Not many roads through this area either. There will be stetches where we won't see anything but grassy hills for miles!

Here is a good shot of what most of the gravel should look like. Narrowish, chunky, and probably dusty. They haven't had a good soaking rain down there in over a week!

Leaving this afternoon for Des Moines. Stay overnight with my sister and then getting picked up on Friday morning by fellow racer David Pals for the trip on down to Des Moines. To all you fellow racers: Take care in getting there and I hope to see you all on the start line Saturday.

To everyone else: Have a great week end, ride your bikes, hug a loved one! I'll be posting the audio blogs as things progress along. A full race report with pictures just might appear on Monday, or so. I'm on vacation until Wednesday next week, so it depends on when I can get back here to Guitar Ted Labratories. We'll see!

Adios! See ya later.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Rainy Days and Linkage

Okay, is it monsoon season in Iowa? I think we would all agree that we could take a break from the rain now. Ever since that week before Trans Iowa, we have been deluged with rain and cloudy skies. Speaking of cloudy skies, the people I am around are showing the effects of the lack of sunshine in their lives too. Grumpy, agitated, and a bit down describe alot of the attitudes I have come across lately. Now that I'm on vacation I hope that the weather turns around, or this too will be a cause for grumpiness! Sunshine! Helloooo sunshine!

I guess I shouldn't complain. I could be getting flooded out up in the North East!

Now on to some linkage for you all to peruse.........

Single and 29: You should head on over to The Biking Hub for my article on single speeding and 29"ers. It's my take on the ever expanding selection and the culture of the 29"er single speeder.

Know Your History! The thread on the history of the developement of 29"ers on is priceless. If you have ever wondered about the beginnings of the idea, or for a different take on the beginnings of mountain biking, you owe it to yourself to check this out. It's written by the people that were there. It's a bit gruff at the start, but do not let that put you off! Getting past the first few posts will reveal gold!

Today I will put up the test post for audio blogging that I hope to use during the Dirty Kanza 200. Look for that to appear later today. Again, just click on the icon, and your computer audio should be up, so you can hear it. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

XXIX In The Future? and DK 200 Thoughts

Well, here it is! The Raleigh XXIX. Single, non-suspension corrected, steel goodness in a 29"er format. It's a pretty bold move from the standpoint of the fork geometry. I like it!

Might there be a XXIX in the future of Guitar Ted? Maybe. It's looking like that might be the case. Here's why: Going back to 1995, December, I took delivery of a Diamond Back V-Link Pro. Raleigh and Diamond Back are owned by the same outfit. Anyway, the V-Link was found to be broken earlier this spring when I was tearing it down to ship it to a new owner. Well, the bike had a lifetime warranty, which is unheard of for full suspension bikes today. Since DB nor Raleigh have anything resembling the old V-Link today, I was asked by the warranty guy at Raliegh what I wanted to do. The rest, as they say, is history! If it all pans out, the XXIX might be coming to roost at Guitar Ted Labratories later this summer! (Crossing fingers!)

Dirty Kanza thoughts: Okay, just a few weeks ago I was obsessing over the final details for Trans Iowa V2, and now it's Dirty Kanza. Only I'm on the other side of the fence this time. Riding on a bike instead of in a van! Thoughts of how the event might go, double checking the bike, double checking the gear, and staring off into space like a dazed lunatic are overtaking my time. I know that I have to just get on that bike, ride it, and have some fun. This madness of obsessing over the details is no good. Of course, I don't want to forget anything. I have all day Wednesday to checklist the bike and gear one last time. And of course, I'll forget something! Let's just hope that something is the obsessing over the situation! Ha!

Once again, I'm planning on doing the audioblog thing, so look for that while I'm gone. That should start appearing sometime Thursday night or Friday morning. I'll try to put up a test post for you all to see before that. I'ts just a "button" that you click on, which then takes you to another screen where the audio will play. Check it out! I'll try to make it fun to listen to. If it works out, I may even make a post from the event itself on Saturday. I will also have some pictures from the event, hopefully.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Failure To Yeild

I was reading with great interest the first reports trickling in from the Kokopelli Trail Race that was just held over the weekend out west in Utah/ Colorado. That epic event is held in the high, arid part of the world that can be a rather brutal but beautiful place to ride a bicycle. The "father" of the event and this years race promoter, Mike Curiak was to be at this years Trans Iowa, but for having to run this event and other reasons, he was unable to come.

I've only met Mike once, but that's about all it takes to realize that this is a no-bull, straight up, down to earth charachter. Mike has a very impressive resume' and has probably forgotten more about ultra endurance racing than anybody else knows. Let's just say he's highly respected, okay.

So, it is with great grief that I read today that apparently several people were caught cheating at this years KTR. Not only were they caught, but they denied/ rationalized thier actions right to Mike's face! Wha........What is going on here? Well, apparently it's enough to have put Mike off of the event for good, that's one thing it is!

I know that for the sake of cutting short the immenent crap he would have gotten had he pressed the subject, he just let it go, and scored the people anyway, but this is very disturbing. I feel that due to the simple rules of the event, these folks who have violated the rules cannot have been ignorant of those rules. Follow the course, and even if you get off course, for whatever reason, at least have the spine to admit it. Especially when confronted about it by the race promoter. Don't accept outside assistence. Is that hard to understand? I don't get how you cannot understand that!

I see it as a failure to yeild to what is right by the event, the promoter, and especially to the other competitors in the event. Now you have an accomplishment that is tainted. In the case of the cheaters, it's not an accomplishment! It's hollow, and it sucks the life right out of the very thing that all these ultra endurance races stand for. Yes, these cheaters failed to yeild to the good and chose what they thought was good, for themselves......selfishness!

To be fair, there may have been a few extenuating circumstances in a few of these cases, but I know Mike. I know that he's not going to pull any B.S. on anybody, so I'm feeling that this situation is as he has called it. And that's too bad! Mike is certainly feeling the emptiness that accompanies such actions at this time, so his response to this is certainly understandable. Especially by me, since I've gone through this on a smaller scale. Hopefully, time will bring healing and a new vigor and the KTR will be under Mike's guiding hand again. But I wouldn't blame him a bit if it wasn't.

What can we learn from this? Well, for one your actions affect others. Cheaters make the race a thing not known for glorious accomplishments, but for controversy. The people that worked so hard and put in so much of their time get stabbed in the heart, sucker punched by those actions and having to deal with them. The other competitors have to wonder, did I really compete against a fair competition? What can we learn?

Cheating sucks! Don't do it!

Yeild to what is right and you won't have failure!

Finally: Congratulations to all those KTR competitors that played according to the rules. If you finished, fantastic! If you didn't, at least you can hold your head high, if you played by the rules.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sunday Late Edition

Still making final plans for the Dirty Kanza 200 next Saturday. The transportation has been arranged, the nutrition plan done, and the bike is almost tweaked out. Now, if the weather holds , we'll be in for a great 200 mile event. The race roster has swelled to 40 guys, so far. The limit is still 50, but with less than a week until race day, I doubt that it fills out. That's too bad, because this is going to be a great, epic event. Well, you'll hear about it afterwards!

Speaking of hearing about it, I'll try to audio-blog while I'm gone so you all can keep up with the event. I did this during Trans Iowa this year, but I was directing the event, not participating in it! I may not be calling in as much as I did from the T.I. course, and who knows? Maybe they don't have that great of cell phone coverage down there. There might be some dead spots.

The Sugar Creek Thaw was a wet, muddy mess, but the 12 hour solo category was won by none other than Jeff Kerkove. Carl Buchanan came in third. Awesome job guys, and I am sure it's not the last time we will hear of you two getting up on podiums this summer! Read there race reports. Good stuff!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Soggy Saturday

It's been a wet couple of days here in Iowa. It's put the training run for Dirty Kanza off for a day. It's looking as though the temps are going to turn around just in time for the event, which will be the first time that I've been in humid, warm temperatures riding a bike for a long time. Hopefully it won't be a shock to the system. The training ride today would have been a cold, soggy mess, which is a far cry from what I'll be dealing with in Kansas. No sense in risking the chance of getting sick, or wrecking equipment today. Tomorrow is supposed to be a bit better, so I'll take my chances then.

It's going to be a full-on test of the ride set up I have planned. All the lights, map case, and any extra stuff like nutrition is coming along for the ride. Even though I'm not probably going to use much of it, it's coming along to see how it all works together on the bike. I can make any final tweaks to my set up and things I carry along now instead of wishing I could in the middle of "No-where-ville", Kansas. Hopefully, the set up I have planned will be really close to ideal.

My plan so far also includes riding down to the event with a fellow T.I. veteran and getting all settled in on Friday night down in Emporia, Kansas. We are expecting a small contingent of Iowans to show up, plus some other T.I. vets, so it should be a bit of a "reunion" of sorts. I am really looking forward to riding with these guys. Heck, I'm really looking forward to riding with anybody! I usually ride alone whenever I go out. Not whining here, it's just how things have always worked out for me. Most people I know are on a different schedule than I am. I never let that stop me from riding my bikes, so I usually go it alone.

I still have some minor decisions to make.

Let's see........processed beef products, or cookie dough?


Friday, May 12, 2006

Karate Monkey vs. Inbred 29"er!: The Parts

As promised yesterday, I am going to go through some of the component highlights of each bike and give you my impressions of them.

Here we have a view of one of the common parts to each of the bikes. The classic Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes. These have a super easy set up, are easy to maintain, and have incredible stopping power that is easily tunable to your liking. I would highly recommend them on the value per dollar spent alone. That they also are super low maintenance and perform flawlessly is a bonus. Also pictured: Salsa skewer, which is the best skewer in the world. No questions. Period! Also, the Nokon cable housings. Love them or hate them. They are expensive, they are sealed from the elements, they have zero compression, ( good for mechanical disc brakes), and they last for a loooong time. My Karate Monkey's set is going on four years now. Still works great. Did I say that they have gone through three winters worth of slop and crap? Worth every penny you pay for them, in my opinion.

Ahhhh! What can I say? This is hands down the most comfortable saddle I have ever sat on. You owe it to yourself to try this saddle out, or the more mountain bike inspired Nisene, which has a baggy short friendly profile. Fizik also makes the Arione in several different color combinations to suit your fashion tastes.

The seat post is the highly functional Salsa Shaft. It has independant bolts for adjustments of tilt and set back. It's ingenious, it's strong, it looks good, it's light weight while not being scary light, and it's so inexpensive for what you get. It's been hailed as a top notch product by some bike rags. Don't mind them! Guitar Ted Productions gives this it's hearty approval! That's gotta be a better endorsement, 'cause I say so! Ha ha!

Okay, that's it for today. I'll have more for you all tomorrow, and through out the weekend. Remember to get out and ride! That's what it's all about. Also, good luck to Mr. 24 and Buchanandale as they head out to race twelve hours on a soggy Ferryville course this weekend. Go Cannondale riders! Look for race reports from them come Sunday or so.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Raliegh XXIX to Hit The Trails Near You!

I just got word on the new 29"er steel single speed hardtail bike from Raliegh that was inroduced at a dealer only meeting in Chicago, yesterday. Here are the details: Double butted 4130 steel frame with CNC inserts for dropouts. (There maybe a derailluer hangar option in the future) Avid BB5 disc brakes, Alloy 32 hole, single speed cassette hub with a quick release, ( suggesting an eccentric bottom bracket, although my source did not specify this.) A straight legged steel fork will support an Easton bar and stem combo. A Truvativ Fire crank will spin a 32 X 20 gear combo. Wheels will consist of WTB Speed Disc rims shod with Exi Wolf treads. It'll all be done up with a "pretty dirty-red paint job" as quoted from my source. Retail price should be around $700 dollars. Hurry up and get yours now! My source says the first run will be sold out in a hurry, judging from dealer response. Look for a picture to come soon!

Karate Monkey vs. Inbred 29"er! Part III

After a couple posts on frame details and the like we finally get down to business! How do these two frames compare when built up and ridden as single speed bikes?

First, let's look at the Karate Monkey. When I built this bike up in 2003, it was also my first single speed and my first 29"er! Alot going on all at the same time! I have ridden this bike pretty consistently since then, though so I feel that I can give you all a good impression on it's ride quality.

I must say that it's a bit less forgiving than I had hoped. Not bad, but that spring, that magic steel feel......well, it isn't quite there with the Monkey. A couple things to remember here. First, it's not a high end tube set. It's thicker, stiffer tubes will not ride like a finer steel frame would. With that said, I bet this bike would come alive as a loaded touring bike. Secondly, the short exposure of the seat post makes for a stiffer ride. There isn't much standover for a frame this big on the Monkey. I actually am running a road seat post in mine! If it had a longer extension of seat post, the ride would feel less jarring. Again, it's not terrible, it's just not quite up to my standards of what a steel frame should ride like.

Other notable things about this frame and fork setup: The fork is pretty stiff! It doesn't flex much, so the ride is more bumpy. Handling is precise and pretty snappy. The bike as a whole turns well, gets on a different line right when you want it to, and handles single track just dandy. The bottom bracket sways noticeably under heavy pedalling. There is no chainstay brace, which might contribute to this a bit.

Track ends and slotted disc caliper mounts are a pain! Give yourself a half hour for a rear flat repair. Better have nice, long allen keys to develope enough torque to re-install your caliper when the job is finished, too. No fenders that I have found really work on this without modifications. This is especially true with the disc calipers installed. The rear braze on for the last run of housing before it would run into the rear derailluer sticks out at just the right angle to snag your heel cup on your right shoe. I ruined a perfectly good pair of Lake cycling shoes this way! Grrr!

The Inbred has that steel feel to it that the KM lacked. It springs forth in a way that makes fans of steel smile with delight. I cannot explain to you just what that is, but you ol' steel guys know. know! I think part of the smoothness of the Inbred has to be the long seat post extension that is required of the design. I am running a 400mm post on mine. This is going to give you......well, alot of give! The compactness of the rear triangle matched with a more compact bottom bracket/front triangle design makes for a more flex free bottom bracket area, even without a chainstay brace. Those little "Bontrager-esque" gussets help here perhaps?

The Inbred cuts a corner with a little less input and a bit more precision than the KM. This is no doubt in part due to the different rake on the fork that On One uses, which quickens up the steering a bit over the "standard" 29"ers out there. The fork is quite compliant, giving a smoother ride. Not noodly, not throwing you off line, just not tooth-rattling stiff. It is a rigid fork, after all. The bike carves turns and also seems to behave very well under stomping up climbs and over very rough terrain. Single track is it's home. I can't find fault with it's handling. It's very much like my old Bontrager in this respect, which is high praise. That ol' Bontrager was awesome!

Other things of note: There isn't much to recommend this to touring cyclists, commuters, or the like. It's a purpose built mountain bike! The sliding drops are a bit troublesome. I have had the drive side slip forwards, as the provided chain tug is capable of flexing outwards and allowing the wheel to cock sideways in the frame. I have used an extreme amount of torque on the two allen bolts that fix the slider to the frame, but to no avail! I believe On One has a beefier tug coming out which should solve this problem for future owners of an Inbred. It also will be available separately for those of you already burdened with this problem.

Tomorrow, I will detail some of the parts highlights of these two bikes. Thanks for reading!

Please continue to give us feedback on the question I raised concerning Trans Iowa. Your feedback is very valuable to us! Thanks!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Karate Monkey vs. Inbred 29"er! Part II

Yesterday I introduced you to the two frames in question in this comparison. Today, I would like to give you my initial impressions that I gained from both bikes. I also will get into how they ride and handle tomorrow.

The bike that I had before I got my Karate Monkey in 2003 was a Bontrager Race hardtail. A Santa Cruz manufactured model. That was one sweet riding steel frame! So, the Karate Monkey and the Inbred had alot to live up to in terms of ride quality and handling.

When the Karate Monkey arrived, I was a bit dis appointed that the frame material was so heavy. Even though it's double butted steel, it was obviously thick walled steel. Giving the bike the old "ping" test, the sound was a lower, denser note. Not the high pitched "ting" of a fine steel tube set. (You old-skoolers will remember the "ping" test!) The weight on the scale beared this out. I won't give you an exact weight, since that really isn't what this is about. It's about the ride quality.

The Inbred, on the other hand, had that high pitched "ting" and was obviously lighter in the hand than the Monkey was. Another obvious difference was the gussets welded on the top tube/ down tube/ head tube junctions and the chainstay/ bottom bracket junctions. Very reminiscent of Bontragers work. The segmented seat stay arrangement was also a retro touch, being first noted on old De Kerf frames from back in the day. The most noticeable thing abot the Karate Monkey's frame was the bent seat tube, which tucks the rear wheel up under the rider more. Otherwise it's a pretty straight forward design, for a 29"er.

As far as braze ons, the Inbred has two bottle mounts, an interesting bolt on arrangement for rear brake studs that I left off because I run disc brakes, and not much else. The Monkey, on the other hand, has the brake studs, water bottle mounts, and rack and fender mounts.

The rear drop outs were different on each frame. The KM having track ends with slotted disc mounts, and a derailluer hangar. The Inbred has aluminum sliding dropouts with dual chain tensioners, integrated disc mount to the seat stay, and a derailluer hangar on the slider.

Once each frame was built up as a single speed with rigid forks, it was obvious that they cut two entirely different profiles. The Monkey has a decidedly old school flavor with the higher top tube/ less standover look. The Inbred is a severely sloping top tube, low standover design. This affects the way each frame rides. More on that later. Also noted that built up with similar parts, the Inbred was lighter, as expected. Not by a whole bunch, mind you, but it's noticeably lighter than the KM.

Okay, now you know the details on each frame. Tomorrow, I'll get into the ride quality, and how these frame details affect the way the frames handle and how they affect the usage of each frame.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Karate Monkey vs. Inbred 29"er!

As promised, here is the first post on the comparisons between my Karate Monkey single speed and my On One Inbred 29"er single speed. Although both these bikes are set up as single speed bikes, they are very different from each other as far as the way they are spec'ed and in the geometry of each frame. I will not detail out every single difference in order to not bore you to tears. I will; however, take an opportunity to flesh out some of the highlights of specific parts on each bike. Parts that I feel I have performed admirably and deserve attention.

With that said, let's delve into the basics today. Here are our subjects submitted for your approval.

The Inbred 29"er: Steel hardtail frame with several interesting details. This one measures out to be an 18" frame, measured from the cnter of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube. The horizontal measurement of the top tube is 23.5". The frame tubing sticker says it's got "Multi Butted Steel Tubing" Hmm........okay! The frame is painted in a pleasant white with a slight hint of pearlescence.

The Karate Monkey: Steel hardtail frame with multi-purpose braze ons galore. It measures out to be a 22" frame if you use the same method for measuring as I did with the Inbred. (Surly calls this their 20" size, stopping their measurement at the top tube/ seat ube junction.) The top tube, measured like I did the Inbred's, is 24.5" long. The frame tubing sticker says "Double Butted 4130 Natch" mmmm.........riiiigggght! This frame is painted in the now out of production Camp Stove Green color.

Okay, you've been introduced to the two contenders. Next time I'll detail out the set up on the Karate Monkey. Then we'll look at the Inbred's set up. Finally, we'll get on to my impressions of both bikes. Thanks for stopping by today! Now, shut off this time sucking idiot box and go for a ride. (And if you are at work reading this......get back to work, slacker!) Ha !

P.S. The informal T.I. poll results are interpreted to say that you guys don't really care if we run T.I. every year or once every two years as long as we run it! Right?

Well, that's how I read it, anyway.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The People Have Spoken: T.I.V2 Fallout

Okay, here it is. The responses have been read and considered. The truth has been ferreted out. All this and a question from your humble race directors for you to consider.

On possible changes to the race format, rules, etc... It's been a pretty overwhelming vote for no changes. This was carefully looked at but in the end it was obvious to me that of the people who said that they would definitely come back, the vote was for no changes. If all Jeff and I did was listen to you: the racers, and implemented what you wanted, the majority of the responses would carry the day. Well, we do value your input, but we also have our own feelings on the matter. We just so happen to agree with the majority of the responses so far.

The T.I.V2 story: What really happened! It's always fun to get all the racer responses and get the pieces of the mosaic together so you can get a true read on the story of Trans Iowa. Last years event didn't get cleared up for me until just a couple of months ago! This time, I think it is pretty clear already. That is mostly due to the transparency of the racers responses this time. My main aim was that the true tail of the end of the event get straightened out, and it has been. I think everyone knows by now that Dallas Sigurdur and Lindsay Gauld were the furthest up the road at 7pm. when Lindsay called me from Mallard. After Lindsay found out from me that we were sending everyone home, he took that to mean that Paddy would be the only one in Algona waiting on them. He was wanting there to be a crowd of people to see their accomplishment. So, he decided to pull the plug, although I had said that Jeff and I would wait. Apparently, Lindsay didn't catch that, and in the end, Dallas and Lindsay made it to West Bend where Paddy picked them up. Of course, none of that mattered in the scheme of things concerning Trans Iowa, as that was over at 6pm. when no one showed up on time riding their bike to make the cut off. My guess is that Lindsay and Dallas were within about 50 miles of Algona at the cutoff.

A question for anyone considering Trans Iowa: Jeff and I are wondering if it might not be a bad idea to let the race lay dormant for a year. The thought being that perhaps the event has lost it's shine with an "annual approach" and that maybe we should be semi-annual so that people don't get burned out trying to make it every year. You know, coming to T.I. every year might be a bit much for folks and if it were run semi-annually then folks have a break to try other things and have excitement to try T.I. again when it's date comes around again. Kind of like Paris-Brest-Paris, which is once every four years if I'm not mistaken. What do ya'all think? No changes to the event itself! Just when the event is run is being looked at here.

Okay, that's it! Sound off! All of your input is considered and welcomed even if it's negative or if we don't agree with it. If'n ya don't speak up, then that's on you!

We still have not decided if we will run the event next year or not. T.I. is a huge undertaking for Jeff and I. Also, you just don't know where life is going to take us next. There is a certain "perfect storm" about this that could be upset by the slightest change. Stay tuned! Keep commenting if you want it back and we'll talk more about it in the fall. Thanks to all the racers and all the sponsors! You guys are awesome.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunday Morning Edition

Local XC Race Today: The Camp Ingawanis XC race is being held today. The event, which is part of the State of Iowa's XC series, is promoted and produced by Carl Buchanan and a few other volunteers. Great job, Carl, on getting the Camp trails readied for this event! Look for reports on today's goings on at Jeff Kerkove's blog and Carl's blog later.

Karate Monkey vs. Inbred 29"er: I own both of these very popular, budget priced, steel hardtail 29"er frames. I have both set up as single speeds. I thought it might be fun to run a comparison on the two bikes here on my blog. Look for that coming up in a few days.

Some of the specific parts that I have fitted to each of these frames will get special mentions as they may be of interest to some of you out there. I will probably be giving some breakdowns on those parts as well.

Raliegh Introduces It's 29"er: On May 10th, Raliegh will be introducing it's '07 lineup to dealers at a show/ meeting in Chicago. During the intro, we should get our first glimpse of the rumored 29" single speed steel hardtail. Their might even be news of another 29" wheeled model, as well. The shop I work for just happens to be a Raliegh dealer, so who knows.....I may be getting a closer look at one of these!

Trans Iowa Fall-out: Seems that there was just a bit of confusion about the way Trans Iowa ended this year. Also, a certain faction of the riders had a suggestion for a change to the format of the event to deal with inclement weather. I will address both issues in one post coming up this week.

Also, some of the bikes of this years Trans Iowa V2 were pretty interesting. Look for a breakdown of that either here or on (If I can get all the pics re-sized for mtbr's format)

Speaking of T.I.V2, does anybody notice how the weather the week before the event and the weather the week after the event has been perfect? Hmm.................

Dirty Kanza Preparations: I'll be getting ready to go to participate in the Dirty Kanza 200 on May, 20th. Look for a couple posts related to that in the next couple weeks. The "Sea of Green, Grassy Hills" is what this area should be called! I've driven through the area a couple times, and the hills are impressive. It's the only other place on earth, besides the Serengeti Plains, where tall grass prarie is to be found. It's true, they have alot of grass and zero trees! That means wind, my friends and that along with some 10,000 feet of climbing should prove to be super tough!

Okay, that's it for today! Have a great ending to your weekend, and ride your bike! Don't like gas prices? Ride your bike some more! See you all later!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Salsa Introduces The Production El Mariachi

Oh crap! I hate it when companies introduce fine steel hardtail 29"ers. Especially when they are geared compatible, non-goofy drop out frames. So what does Salsa do? They come up with this, the El Mariachi. Thanks! Now I've got that to drool over!

Okay, here are the details. Bushnell EBB for single speeding. True Temper OX tubing for that classic steel feel. Disc only to keep it clean looking. (Sorry traditionalists!) Hose guides on the fork and seat stay to keep things all neat and tidy. Oh, and this color, which you will note is not a shade of green! ( Green being the unofficial 29"er standard color, but wait!) .........yes! It's also available in a shade of green! It's called Tomatilla Green, which is pastel green for all you reg-lur folks out there! I only show you the Superior Blue hue as an example to point out that you do not have to have a green production 29"er. (Thanks to Haro for some creative color choices on the Mary 29"ers, as well)

Price? $880 American doe-lars amigo! Available in late June/ July. Hmm............maybe I can start making some extra moo-lah by mowing some lawns, eh?

Thanks Salsa Crew! You just trashed my budget plans! Crap!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Caught Speeding

I've been having a struggle lately that some of you might just be able to relate to. Speeding. Yep! Things going too fast........waaay too fast! (And you thought I was talkin' about cars!) Nah, just the speed of life, you's spring, you get busy........hey! It's fall again already! Where did the time go?

So, I was contemplating all of this when it occurred to me. Maybe the reason I'm getting excited about this 200 mile torture rack called Dirty Kanza is because I know that things will slow down a bit. They will slow down too much, probably. The moments of head wind and hill climb, over and over again, will become so focused and seem so long. It will drive away all else and become a sort of twisted place of peace from all the mayhem of normal life. Life that flashes by and leaves you sucked dry. Like a wrinkled skin of a mouse after a tarantulas feasting. Nothing but an empty sack!

That focused pain. The suffering that is so "loud" and intense that it becomes everything for a moment or two. It's the only thing you've got to overcome. The one thing. Not a million other things like mowing the grass, fixing the window, getting bills paid on time, or worrying about what your spouse might think. No, it's just you and that familiar pain. Can you deal with it now. Just that one thing and that's all that matters. No speeding. Life stands still for one glorious moment.

Is this what it is that makes my mind focus on this event and nothing beyond that? I don't know for sure, but I know why I'll be sad when it's over, whether I finish the course or not.

It'll be as though it went by too fast. Here and gone. Speeding!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Gary Fisher 29"er Race News

The Fisher brand of bikes has been on the 29"er forefront for years now, but the race team that is sponsored by Fisher has not been seen on 29"ers very often. That is about to change now.

Here is a picture that has appeared on a few blogs already, showing Jeremy Horgan-Kolbelski on his new 29"er hardtail. The cool thing about this is that now the 29"er format will be piloted by a top notch elite racer at marquee events. Well, at least some of those events! JHK is going to go back and forth between 29"ers and 26"ers depending on the makeup of each course he races at. Wise thing to do as far as I'm concerned.

Another new developement for the Fisher squad is the arrival of the 29"er Race Day full suspension platform. The team mechanics are building up the race bikes now, and soon Cameron Chambers, Nat Ross, and perhaps even JHK himself will be seen racing the new bike. A prototype weighed by a bike shop employee is said to weigh just a bit over 26lbs. That's pretty impressive. Now we'll just have to see how the bikes actually ride, and we'll go from there!

All of this should get 29"ers in front of a lot more peoples eyes and get more people interested in finding out more about the larger wheel format. It will really get crazy if somebody like JHK should happen to win a race on one of these!

Thanks go out today to Mr. 24 for the idea to post about this.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Turning The Page

It's time to turn the page and move on to a new chapter. Trans Iowa was an epic, wet, muddy event and it came and went waaay too quickly! I mean, it was over before it really got started, and that's too bad. I don't think I'm the only one that thinks this way about it. It would seem that for more than a few, the Dirty Kanza 200 is looking like an event that will bring either redemption or closure for folks that were in Trans Iowa V2. Heck, maybe it's working in both ways for them, I don't know. For me, it is the first event of it's kind and the first race that I've entered since 1997. I wish that there would have been things like this to do back in those days. I would have really enjoyed it, but XC was king and endurance racing was in it's infancy back then. I'm sure that there were events to do in the 90's, but I never heard about them. Anyway..........

So, it looks as though this will be a pretty exciting event. Not just for you guys that are in this with me, but for me personally, it'll be a big, big challenge. I have done some long distance, fully loaded touring madness in my day, and that's kind of how I am looking at this event. I won't be riding a bike that is so heavy that I can't lift it off the ground, so that'll be a bonus! I will be riding a single speed in a very hilly event, which might be crazy, but then again, I never shifted much when I had the gears anyway. Raised a single speeder, always a single speeder, I guess. I will be turning to a new page in the story of my cycling life. That's going to be pretty cool. I know that it's going to be tough, but it wouldn't be worth anything to me if it wasn't.

I think this sort of thing is going to be right up my alley, or I wouldn't have signed on in the first place. I was tested at the local university back in the late 90's to see how I stacked up as a cyclist against other cyclists in my area. We were hooked up to all sorts of wonky machinery that measured all the gas intake and exhaust that the human body deals with while cycling under stress. We were tested to exhaustion. What the results showed were pretty eye opening, for me.

The rest of the cyclists showed a sharp uptake of oxygen when the load was applied to the trainer. Me? My oxygen uptake went down. That's right, down. My oxygen uptake stayed down and the amount then rose at a consistent level as more load was applied, but always at a level far below the other cyclists. I asked what that meant and was told that I was more adept at long, slower speed, endurance type efforts than the other guys. They were all in the go fast, short distance category. You know.....XC stuff. Exactly what I was trying to do. I didn't know of anything that suited my body make up at the time, so I sort of lost interest in the racing scene for this, and other reasons.

Now things are different. Thanks to Jeff Kerkove, and Trans Iowa, and all you other nutcases out know who you are! Well, I am about to write a new chapter in my cycling life. I'm not going to blame anyone but myself if it doesn't work out like I think it will. I just want to tell all of you guys thanks for your inspiration. I'll be looking forward to riding, and riding a long way, with you all.

More Dirty Kanza 200 stories and updates to come.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Trans Iowa: Some Pictures! Part II

Today's Trans Iowa photos will focus on the two Canadian riders that ended up being the ones that got the closest to Algona Checkpoint.

The first picture is of Lindsay Gauld on his Scalpel coming off the "B" road section just before Sutherland. If I was told correctly, Lindsay is a 57 year old bicycle courier in Winnepeg. I heard he puts in about 80 miles every day at work. It probably helped him that his work makes him ride in all sorts of conditions!

This picture is of Dallas Sigurdur who was riding a Norco hardtail. All Canadian baby! Dallas is into running and did most of his training by doing ultra long runs. It seemed to pay off for him in this event. Dallas switched his bike choice three times before settling on this Norco!

The thing that I believe really helped these two and a few of the other riders up in the front of the race was their mental attitude about what they were experiencing. I remember Dallas smiling and laughing as he was walking his bike down the ditch in that picture above. Others were doing similar things. Smiling, laughing, and having a great attitude about the situation. I learned alot from their examples.

Really, overall the event was dominated by everyone having a great attitude and not getting frustrated to the point that they outwardly showed it, at least in my sight and hearing. I was quite honestly amazed by this. I fully expected there to be some serious bitching from folks not happy about the conditions, the way the event was run, or by decisions that Jeff and I made. There was none- zero- nothing of the sort to be found.

In fact, even in the blog posts that I have read and in the online forums that I have visited there has been no negative commentary. I haven't found a single recounting that didn't say in some way that the individual got alot out of their experience at Trans Iowa V2. Some even saying that they want another crack at it!

So, will Jeff and I run it again? We'll decide later in the year, after all of this hoopla dies down and ya'all have time to re-think this. If it's that important to you, please sound off in the fall to let us know that your still thinking about it. We take all your comments to heart!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Trans Iowa: Some Pictures!

I thought I'd share with you all some of my favorite images from Trans Iowa V2 this week. I also will be making some commentary on these.

This was at the start in the parking lot at the West Sioux High School in Hawarden, Iowa at about 3:55 am. I had all the riders lined up behind the lead out van. All the lights and bicycles made for quite a beautiful spectacle!

There was excitement in the air and everybody was looking forward to getting to Algona before six at night. Of course, that didn't happen, but at this time it looked like it was anyone's race to win. The misting rain was light, the winds were light, and it was about 50 degrees at this point.

By the time that I snapped this photo, things had changed radically! This was about 45 miles into the event. These guys were the only ones that had any chance at all to get to Algona before 6pm. Everybody else was mathematically out of it. The sun had barely come up and that was it for most of the field!

This scene is the same one you'll find on the video that Jeff made 0f the event. These were the eight guys that were out front for the entire event until most of them pulled the plug in Sutherland and Pederson, Iowa. Then a few other guys had caught up and about another eight fellows, including a couple from this group made it past Pederson to get anywhere from 80 to just over a hundred miles up the road. The "last men standing" were Dallas Sigurdur and Lindsey Gauld who made it to the 119.5 mile mark in Mallard, Iowa by about seven in the evening!

A couple of notes on that second picture. Jeff was at the other end of that mile section of "B" road where a blacktop road intersected the course. He was ferrying Lindsey Gauld's van for him. Jeff got the thing stuck in the mud when he slipped a little too far off of the pavement trying to park the van for a meet-up with me. He got out, but just barely!

While I was waiting for the riders at this spot, Jeff joined me, but before he did, I was approached by a lady who was jogging by herself in the rain. She was wondering if I needed help. I was wondering the same about her, as she was running in the rain in 48 degree temperatures with a t-shirt and jogging pants on! Hardy lady, I'd say!

After Jeff showed up at this spot, a fellow on a quad runner came by to see how we were doing, and if we'd "lost a pet or something". When Jeff told him that there would be cyclists coming up that "B" road, he said, "You can't do that! They can't ride up that road!". Jeff replied, "Oh yes, they are coming!" To which the guy said, "No, they can't make it......." He shook his head in disbelief and rode off. I secretly hope he sees Jeff's video!

Don't forget to read the race recap here for all the details on this years event from my perspective! I'll have more linkage to other great T.I. stories soon!