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Friday, June 30, 2006
I don't have words for this.
Going for a ride...........Have a great weekend and keep pedaling. Just keep pedaling. The joy of cycling shouldn't be predicated upon a few who do the sport injustice.
But I am really bummed right now...........
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Guitar Ted Rant Mode engaged!: I have been reading with interest about the giddy reactions and unreal expectations the Iowa public has about the news that Lance is going to "ride on RAGBRAI" I hate to be the shiny, pointed object that bursts the bubble, but Lance isn't going to "ride" RAGBRAI like "you" think he is going to "ride" RAGBRAI.
Riding RAGBRAI like most folks do includes using a bike as a means to transport yourself from one vendor stand or bar to another to over indulge yourself on home made pie and cold beer. (if you can call any mainstream American adult beverage "beer"...hrrumpf!) Not that there is any thing inherently wrong with that pursuit, it's just not really about "riding bikes" anymore. It's, well..............it's RAGBRAI! You know! It's something uniquely different that just happens to use bikes as a tool to reach some other objective. That "objective" being a variable depending upon the time of your departure every morning of the ride. (RAGBRAI'ers know what that means...it's code for something!)
Anyway, Lance isn't going to be doing any of that! Oh no! If he shows up at all, ( it's not guaranteed that he will) he will be doing highly structured, pre-planned, "spontaneous" looking public appearances. Some while riding a bike, (for a short period of time at an unannounced point on the route) or some while posing with various cancer patients, survivors, and other political people, pundits, and luminaries. He won't be sleeping in a tent, or an R.V. He'll be coming in and out of Des Moines, where the route of this years RAGBRAI scrapes the northern suburbs of that city. He won't be partying, drinking beer at a local bar, or hob nobbing with any RAGBRAI "teams". In fact, most RAGBRAI riders won't even see him, and have a better chance of doing so on the local six o'clock news reports.
Not that there is anything wrong with what Lance is doing, (there isn't, really) it's just that he won't be doing it with you, RAGBRAI rider. He'll be using the publicity generated by the rides reputation to further his agenda. You on the other hand, will be going about your merry way as a RAGBRAI rider, none the wiser.
And don't even think for a minute that this legitimizes RAGBRAI as a "real" cycling event! We're not even going to go there!
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Speaking of looong gravel rides, check this offering out. I'm not the only crazy gravel grinding looney out there! This looks good. I even have that weekend off. Hmmm............. Maybe, just maybe!
Raleigh XXIX Update: The good folks from Raleigh Bicycles have told me that the XXIX is expected to be delivered to their two new U.S. warehouses by sometime next month. Look for bikes ordered back in May/ early June to be delivered first. Raleigh says that the response to this bike has been excellent and that because of it's popularity the supply will be limited. A cool note on this frame: The company that produces this frame has two people welding all of these XXIX's and one of those two folks is the owner of the company! How cool is that? Kind of gives the Raleigh 29"er that small builder, cool, soul vibe, don'tcha' think?
And futhermore.... The XXIX will be joined by an as yet un-named geared version sometime yet this fall. The bike is going to feature the same steel frame construction with braze ons for cable guides, a hangered drop out insert, and a 80mm suspension fork. The price point that is currently being talked about is $1200.00. Look for any further details here or for the official introduction of this new model at Interbike this fall.
GDR Update: Last I saw, Matthew Lee was still in the lead with his locked out Lefty and looking to get a repair for it somwhere in Idaho..............Dave Nice, whose bike got stolen while he was napping roadside in Montana, is safely on his way home to Denver, Colorado. His close friends have sent him bus fare, and also set up a Paypal account to raise funds to get him back onboard a bike ASAP( contact: email@example.com )............Kevin Montgomery, whose knee looked bad, but rode through that semmingly, has now got a shifter issue that might be a problem. He is currently in second on the route...............The Fixie Brothers are still perpetrating their shenanigans somewhere in the wilderness of Montana or Idaho..............several other racers still on route in Montana as of yeterday. Check for more info as it becomes available.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I really could care less what Lance said or did according to all of his accusers. Here's what I find to be specious in their statements. First, if these spectacular accusations are true, then why didn't you say something WHEN IT HAPPENED! What........were you afraid that the "Lance Patrol" were going to sweep down upon your humble abode, kick your door in, and haul you off to the Postal Concentration Camp? Come on! These allegations of wrong doing that surface years after the fact are rather lame, folks. It looks more like a money grab and less like a call for justice.
Secondly: What do you hope to achieve? Are you really interested in "The Truth" or do you just want to topple the grand monument that sits in the Public Square? Look, the "Public" has moved along, thank you very much! Nothing to see here anymore since Lance has given up the Quest of the Yellow Tunic. I'm sure that in a few more years Lance will be about as well known as..........well, Greg LeMond! The once flaming Molotov cocktails the accusers had to fling look more like a kids Fourth of July sparkler these days. Lance is done and he has written his story. Quit trying to open the book to add more chapters. I don't care to read that story anymore anyway. It's old and "you" are a nuisance!
Besides, can't we just have a good ol', throw down cycling event for once? Why is it that every May we have a new policia raid and every July we have this drivel about a cycling Texan. Can we quit the dirt digging and rear view mirror gazing long enough to see the pure joy of cycling for once? Please..........
Okay, I guess maybe I'm asking for a little too much. I will leave the "Accusers" to wrestle for the Fame and Fortune while I go out and ride my bicycle. At least no one is trying to bring me down for that...........yet!
Monday, June 26, 2006
Early morning haze over the fields south of Waterloo, Iowa. The temperatures were a bit too chilly for stopping for long. Your sweat would freeze you as the wind evaporated it off you. This was as clear as the skies were all day, by the way.
From a bridge crossing Wolf Creek. About around here is where the hills of Tama County start in taking their toll on your legs.
"B" level maintenance road south of Traer. If the "B" roads were like this on Trans Iowa, folks would have been overjoyed! Look closely and you can see how the road disappears on a steep down hill and you can barely make out the climb back out in the distance. This is where the road crosses Salt Creek.
Tama County is pretty hilly. Look closely and you can see the lay of the land. Let me tell you, the roads follow it closely!
This was near the end of the recon for me. I got up the road about another seven or eight miles from this point before I peeled off north again to go back home. Notice the greater number of clouds. They were thickening and lowering as the day progressed. This is why I made the decision to get home. That and the winds, which were 15-20mph straight into my face for the remainder of the trip.
The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational is going to be a really tough course. I may have to make a few changes to the planned course so that I can actually count on someone being able to finish it before sundown!
Great Divide Race Update: For those of you who haven't already been following the unfolding of this years GDR, I have these tidbits of news for you.
......Dave Nice had his bike swiped while he was napping by the side of the road, thus putting him out of the GDR, unless support from locals is accepted. It seems that there are some kindly souls out there in Montana willing to lend Dave a bike and some gear.
........Mathew Lee is out in front, and still on schedule to be in contention to break the record. His Lefty has developed an oil leak though, forcing him to run it locked out for now.
......A few other competitors are either dropping out or are about to. The GDR is waaay tough and attempting it is no small feat! By the sounds of it, the major mountain climbs, passes and decents are taking their toll.
.......Rudi Nadler and Matt Chester are still plugging along on their fixies. Much praise from cycling luddites, romantics, and retro grouches for these two on the internet.
Follow the goings on here and here.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
I managed to hit the road around six thirty in the morning. It was rather cool with just a jersey on! I almost wished I had a wind breaker. Once I slipped the evil clutches of Waterloo, I found the gravel road I wanted and motored off. Shreds of morning fog hung in the valleys and there was a quiet peace about the land for awhile. When I stopped to see if I packed a pen in the back pack, (I didn't) I noticed that the fog was being ripped to pieces just above tree top level by a hurrying North West wind. I scowled and remounted the bike, thinking in the back of my mind that this didn't look so good.
I forgot about the wind for awhile as I rode quietly over the rollers south of Waterloo. I finally escaped Black Hawk County and turned East for a bit. Here I met the first salvos that Tama County would lob at me for most of the day. Hills that are steep up and steep down. It wasn't too much of a problem at first. I found a rhythm that carried me along just fine. I followed a road that shadowed Wolf Creek until I got to the first watering hole of Traer, a little over 30 miles in.
I stopped and watered up, and had a V-8 juice drink. Salty goodness! Speaking of salt, I consumed my first Salted Nut Roll in eons there. It's supposed to be the schiznit, and it seemed to do a trick for me.
I left Traer and headed south crossing Highway 63. I found a really cool "B" level maintenance road that was a blast to ride on. There was a really fast downhill section where I had a deer on the run in front of me. That was cool! Leaving the "B" road behind, I went south some more and I noticed that the hills were getting steeper and coming more often. Fast downhills gave me the momentum I needed to clear the top of the next hill. This was pretty fun!
There always comes a time when you have to pay the piper though, and today was no exception. After turning West, the hills got worse in that there was no rhythm to them any more. Grinding out the climbs was the order of the day. It was about then that my legs decided to play a dirty trick on me........
Right Leg: Hey, Lefty! Wanna play "Gates of Pain II"? I'm at level 12! The Curse of the Lactic Acid Queen.
Left Leg: Sure! I'm in. This cycling is boring me to tears! Always the same thing! Go around and around and around........
So, my legs go kaput right about mile 41. Great! I end up walking part of a heinously steep pitch. I went down the road to a "T" intersection, stopped, and sat down to eat, hydrate, and consult the map. By now the wind had picked up to around 15 to 20mph. The clouds were getting thicker and closer together. It was time to head home. I bagged about 45 miles of the Death Ride course, so that was cool. I packed up to go and face the wind.
And what a wind! It was one of those it never stops blowing kind of winds right at my face! This was going to be hard, but I had no idea how hard it really was going to be. I had about 15 miles of road that ran pretty much straight north to get me out of Tama County. I didn't think it would be so bad, but it was! Once I crossed Highway 63, things took a turn for the worse.
Have you ever been on a ride where you crested a hill, looked across the bucolic abyss before you and seen a wall? You know.....one of those earthen things with a ribbon painted down it's face that is supposed to be a road? Yeah......I saw about four of those today. My legs were screaming! I think I walked parts of all four of those, I can't remember..........the memories are repressed! Too much pain!
About the time that I reached the Tama/ Grundy County line, I noticed thunder and big black clouds. Fortunately, I missed out on that, but I did get nailed just about three miles west of Hudson by a downpour that lasted about five minutes. Oh well! I passed Hudson and scooted up the flat, wind protected bike trail. Ahh! A little shelter! Gimme a little shelter. And it'll be all right!......Sorry! I digress!
I thought I was home free when some dude on a department store bike stops me by waving his sausages at me. Oh wait! Those are fingers! On a hand! (Dang! I musta been hungry!) Anyway, he starts with the 96 questions about cycling and penile numbness and all sorts of gibberish! Wow! Where do they come from? I thought I might be bonking, but no........he was real all right! After politely answering all his cycling questions I pedalled the final seven miles home.
Stats: 80.3 miles. Time gone: 6:30am to 2:30 pm. Hills walked: approximately 5. Village Idiots: 1. Fluids consumed: 7 water bottles, one V-8, and three gel flasks. Nutrition: Petersen's Salted Nut Roll: 1, Power Gel: 2, Carb Boom gel: 1, Hammer Nutrition Organic Bar, in the yummy Almond Raisen flavor: 2, Various pills: Enduralytes and Ibuprofen, and last but not least, my trusty Elete electrolyte add in- getcher self sum!
Look for a course update on gtdri.blogspot.com soon and some pictures here tomorrow.
Friday, June 23, 2006
. . . Mr. 24 as he goes up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the 12 hours of Metro. This is a race that you could say he's done rather well at in the past couple of years. (ahem!.........winner!) Here's a shout out to him for a good result again this weekend!..........
..........My recon mission on the planned course for the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. I hope to get at least halfway into it and back home again. I haven't had a super long ride since the Dirty Kanza a month ago. Hopefully I'll be good to go. My tweaks to the Inbred have come out well, so I may ride that bike. It's got the most reliable computer on it, for mileage checks, so that also is a plus in it's favor. The Karate Monkey has those Midge bars though, so it' s a tough choice. Look for a report on the recon this weekend.........................
.................The Great Divide Race starts at noon today! It looks like Matthew Lee made it into the Port of Roosville late last night, so he is on schedule, so far. Check out his progress here, and other race reports can be found here. ..........
So, yeah! It's a big weekend for all of this and more. Hopefully you have a bike ride or race planned for your weekend. If not.....why not? Just go around your neighborhood a couple times if nothing else. Bike riding = good.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Boy, does it ever look to be coming true!
I have documented several entries or upcoming entries into the fray including Cannondale, Fishers new full suspension model, Flyte, Astrix, Redline, Raleigh, Haro, and the new full suspension model from Niner. Added to this impressive array of new comers is a solid rumor of a bike from KHS, maybe two bikes from Marin, and something from Specialized. That's alot of companies jumping in since I made that prediction about a year ago!
What does it all mean, other than a wider choice of bikes? Well, I think that now with so many manufacturers of bikes on board we will start to see the 29"er specific parts choices start to proliferate. Things like forks, shocks, and wheels will start showing up from companies that now can afford to tool up to make these products and offer them as original equipment on new bikes. The original equipment market is a big deal to these companies as that's a big chunk of money for them when someone like Specialized orders up a bunch of Fox forks, (as an example) for a 29"er bike. That paves the way for aftermarket sales to happen, and that's where the 29"er enthusiast will reap the benefits of all these new entries into the 29"er market.
Of course, that's assuming that the new bikes actually sell on bike shop floors! If the whole endeavor falls flat on it's face, we could be seeing nothing more than what we have now, and maybe less. I do not think that will happen. But, it could!
For now, I'm hopeful for the fall trade show season, where I think we will be seeing a story written about the 29"er hitting the market in a big way. Will it be the bicycle industries "holy grail" - the "next big thing"? Who knows? I'm guessing that it won't be anything near what the mtb boom of the 90's was or even close to the now waning road bike boom of this decade. It's just going to be another niche market that will be around for awhile, maybe on the scale of the "free ride/ all mountain" kind of thing. We'll see.
One thing is for sure. This 29"er thing is snowballing into something much bigger than it was before!
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
G-Ted: "Europa Cycle and Ski, how can I help you?"
Voice: "Hello, Is this Mark?"
Voice: "Hello! This is Matthew Lee......" (!!!!!!)
Yeah! That Matthew Lee. The one that was just about to set off on an epic adventure/ race called the GDR! I was floored. He called me with about an hour and a half to spare before he had to depart from Banff, Alberta Canada. He wanted to discuss some details concerning his GDR blog. Anyway, I just was amused and so surprised by that call. Matthew really wants to get the word out about the event, so as a favor to him, I encourage all of you to not only check out the blog, but to pass it along so others can enjoy what Matthew and the others are doing. Matthew seems to really care about the GDR and the efforts he has gone to to get the word out show it, at least I think so.
That phone call still makes me smile!
You think he'd have more important things to be thinking about an hour and a half before depart!
If you care to follow Matthews adventure, you can do so at his own blog for the event, which features audio blog entries for each day he is out. He sets off at around noon today, so he can join the others at the border on Friday for the "official launch".
Another good place to follow the goings on would be the "official" blog for the race. Check it out for other viewpoints gathered from event participants and past veterans of this grueling grind over the Rocky Mountains spine.
Matthew is riding on a specially built Cannondale 29"er for this attempt and he is hoping to keep a pace that will see him to the U.S. - Mexico border in record time. I'm excited to see how things will pan out over the next two to three weeks for all the folks involved. Good luck and Good Journey to all who are brave and bold enough to accept this awesome challenge! I salute all of you!
This long and winding road that these guys are on makes Trans Iowa or GTDRI look like a cruise around the block! ..............sheesh!
I'll be watching as things unfold, will you?
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Initially when I set up the Inbred, I took measurements off of my Karate Monkey, to mimic the same seated position, height, and saddle to handlebar length. The biggest difference was that I was running the stem on the Inbred in a positive rise which put the handle bar slightly higher than the KM's. Should be good I thought, just wanted to see if a more relaxed posistion on the upper body would work for me. With the exception of the Salsa seat posts slipping, the answer seemed to be yes at the Dirty Kanza. I felt great all day riding that bike. However; when I got back and started the swapping between the KM and the Inberd, something was really off on the Inbred.
I felt more in the bike on the KM instead of on top of the bike as I was on the Inbred. Another thing was the saddle height and posisition. They were feeling way off from the KM. Even though I had set up the Inbred off of measurements from the KM, I was not getting the same sensations on both bikes.
So, I disregarded the previous set up on the Inbred and made some minor changes based upon feel. I felt the saddle was too low, so up it went about 5mm. That was better, but about two weeks later it went up another 5mm. Ahh! Much improved! Then I was chatting with Mr. 24 at work and he mentioned reposistioning his Arione, making it feel much better. Oddly enough, I had just decided to try the same thing. I did the change yesterday and it looks to be a winner. The last change was to flip over the stem to negative rise, which places my hands in about the same posistion as they are on the KM. Looks like that one will work too!
The point is that the changes are slight, and the sensations that they give on the bike are huge! I am much happier with the Inbred after a short single track ride yesterday afternoon than I have been previously. In fact, I was about to condem the Inbred to the sales block the other day, that's how unhappy I was with it!
So, if you are not quite happy with your current bike, it might not be a bad idea to tweak a few things first before you run out and spend a bunch of money on a new bike. My changes didn't cost me any money. Just some thought and time to effect the desired changes. The results were fantastic for me. Maybe you won't be so fortunate, but at least you'll know what you like, and that alone makes tweaking worth it.
Just remember small changes will make big differences on the bike. Do not do anything radical right out of the box! A little bit here and there might be all you'll need to change a so-so ride into your favorite rig!
Monday, June 19, 2006
It seems that the former director of North American sales for Answer Products, Joel Smith, ( who himself has been a sort of icon over at Answer) is from Lincoln, Nebraska. He licensed the Tomac Bicycles name and plans on relaunching the line. Tomac Bicycles had originally been started as a joint venture between John Tomac and Doug Bradbury,( who was responsible for starting the Manitou line of bikes and front suspension components, which later was bought out by Answer Products). Then the Tomac line was purchased by the American Cycling Group, which also handled Litespeed bikes. What a tangled web!
Anywho, this whole new venture being based out of Nebraska is great. Like the linked article explains, lots of folks have no idea that there is good mountain biking in Nebraska, or anywhere in the Mid West for that matter. Coupled with that is the fact that you have a living legend in John Tomac being affiliated not just in name only makes it even cooler. You gotta remember for us old codgers, Johnny T. was the schiznit! Him and Deadly Nedly..........and Tinker. Anyway, I digress!
Finally, the thought lit on my mind while pondering this news. Hmm.......Lincoln, Nebraska has a pretty good population of 29"ers, I think...........Hmmm.........maybe, just maybe........
Congrats and good luck to Joel Smith, Johnny T. and Doug Bradbury. I hope the re-launch is sucessful!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
The series is rather timely in light of the recent dust up over the cyclingnews.com 26 versus 29 test. It's important to see that the two wheel formats have entirely different geometry requirements. This in turn makes riding a 29"er a wholly different experience than riding a 26"er. They both must be handled differently and are not at their best until you learn how to unlock their potential. Those hopping onto a 29"er for the first time are probably not going to experience the very best performance that 29"ers can offer. It takes awhile to gain the knowledge of the nuances of the wheel format.
Having this series will start to help you to see why these differences are so important. One thing I can say is that any small change on a bike that you are used to can be felt immediately and feels much "bigger" than it really is. For instance: I can really tell the difference in power and feel if my seatpost slips just a couple of millimeters! Or if my handlebars rotate just a smidgen, my hands get uncomfortable. Just think what adding all the differences a 29"er brings to the party will do to a rider that has always ridden 26"ers. You can get your contact points all lined up, sure......you'll be comfy that way, but the handling characteristics will be so different that it might just seem un-doable for you. Just hang in there! Help is on the way. Read the rest of the series and hopefully it will unlock the ideas that will lead you to understanding the 29"er and it's peculiar traits.
Look for updates about every week.....or less.......whenever I decide to submit the copy to Twenty Nine Inches, that's when you'll see it!
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Note: Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational link has finally been added in the right side bar. Check it out if you are interested in the ride.
Kona has released photos of their 2007 29 inch wheeled range. Go check 'em out at Twenty Nine Inches . I thought the Kula was a bit too feminine for my tastes. Just me maybe......
Stans No Tubes has finally come out with the first tubeless compatible 29"er tire. Called "The Crow" the tire is a low tread, race oriented tire that should cut some significant grammage off current race tire set ups. Check out a review in this thread by a fellow Iowan, Bruce Brown. (That's his screen name as well)
A nice batch of studio shots of the new Niner R.I.P. Niner full suspension bike have surfaced with some commentary on this thread on mtbr.com. Or you could check out all of Niners offerings at their official website: www.ninerbikes.com
That's it for today!
Friday, June 16, 2006
"If you were stranded on a desert island with only one choice of bicycle tool that you could have with you, what would it be?"
Hmm........... I thought for a minute and answered, "A chainwhip. That way I could bludgeon small animals to death and be able to eat." (Yep, typical man! Thinking with his stomach!)
Jeff said he'd have a multi tool. What? A multi tool?!! What are you going to do with that? He never really explained himself, so I voted him off the island!
Mecahnics! A strange lot we are!
So............ what tool are you bringing to the island? (Keep it above the waistline, okay?)
Have a great weekend!
Go for a ride!
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I can get out there, even on my commute to work, and get alot of crap unloaded. The longer the ride, the better though. That's why I like the longer rides. You get to download and then re-load. The smells, the sights, and the sounds of nature are something that can re-charge you. Inspiring the mind and spirit. Forgetting about...........well, what ever you need to forget about. Feeling real pain, you put the percieved pains into perspective, and things don't seem quite so bad.
Anyway, words are pretty useless to describe what "it" is. All I can say is, "it" works. I feel so much better after a ride. That's why bicycles are the perfect machine for dealing with "junk". Yep, the internet is the perfect newspaper and the bicycle is the perfect way to dispose of that "paper".
Are you spending too much time on the "digital paper"? It's a Love Removal Machine!
Go ride your bike!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
From now on, all communications regarding the Death Ride will be facilitated through The Death Ride Channel. Any of you guys or gals wanting in on the fun will need to go there for your latest news and views. Kapiche?
All righty then...........
After some of the information came out on the new Raleigh XXIX, I got kind of curious. Why no suspension corrected fork? Why the shorter than normal seat tubes? I sent in a request for some answers to our trusty Raleigh rep. He forwarded my questions to the product engineering wonks, they answered him, and he forwarded it to me. Still following? Anyway.......here is the answer to "Why the non-suspension corrected fork?"
"The actual fork being used is a 40mm offset. The information that got printed was a typo. And that stuff happens.
The actual axle to crown height is 430mm. Not quite suspension height but not too low either. And we kept it this way to keep it as a true single speed and not have look abnormal. And like Mark pointed out…it does allow for more people to fit the bike. And that is why the seat tube actuals are shorter than normal. It’s to compensate for the larger tires. We didn’t want it to be too high with the bigger wheels and with a suspension fork with sag; the geometry is not much different. This is how our completely built samples, with and with out suspension, have measured out. Please note this is with an 80mm travel Reba compensated with 20mm of sag.
Rigid 70degree HA 315mm BB height
Suspension 69.5 degree HA 328mm BB height
And we are in the works with a geared version using an 80mm travel Reba."
So, that's the answer? They wanted it to fit shorter people? This is sort of strange, and I have noticed that alot of production 29"ers have leaned this way. Raleigh is at the extreme in this, however. The only companies 29 inch wheeled offerings that will accomodate larger riders is the upcoming Haro Mary, due out in August. I'm talking about complete bikes available at bike shops, not frame sets or custom jobs. I suppose you could make an exception for Niner and Surly, but they are not really availble on a nationwide scale on bike shop floors.........yet!
Anyway, these numbers on the head tube and fork offset are kind of weird. I'm not sure they will inspire those looking for quick handling. I might still be getting my hands on one of these, so I hope to report some real world test results. I just wish the seat tubes were longer. I'd have to run at least a 400mm post for the top tube measurement that would accomodate me!
So, it seems that the "mainstream" bicycle companies must be looking at their large and extra large sales figures for mountain bikes and saying, "well, these 29"ers better fit the medium and small sized riders, or we'll be sitting on a lot of Larges and XL's in the 29 inch sizes." So, maybe that is why we are seeing "large" sized 29"ers that would be "mediums" from custom builders. Perhaps these product managers ought to check out the mtbr.com poll that was run showing the vast majority of respondants wanting large and extra large sizes. Hmm............
These strange numbers are coming from strange ideas, me-thinks!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Look, if you own a company that relies heavily upon an independant retail outlet model for sales and you would like them to be informed, supportive, and enthusiastic about selling your products, you probably shouldn't have a prohibitive entry fee to come and see the product at your own expo. Just a thought, guys. I mean, $200.00 a head to just come up and gaze upon your bikes? Last year, we practically had to pull someones teeth to even get our questions answered, because the Trek work force was sooo tired after four days of expo madness. I'm sorry, but the customers at our bike shop expect the same level of service whether we've been at the job for ten hours a day for a whole week. I'm not interested in shelling out my hard earned dough just to get ignored, and wander around a fancy convention center filled with shiny bikes when I can sit home and catch it all on the net for free.
Then there is this whole hierarchy thing with Trek where the best dealers in the country, ( the top 100 or so) get to look first, then the rest of the schmucks get in later to be coddled or ignored based upon how big they are or are not. Nice! Thanks for tossing us some crumbs dudes. We may be a small shop, but we sell Trek bikes that wouldn't get sold if we were not here. The decision to charge this rediculous fee to come and see their bikes isn't very encouraging, by the way.
Well, it all really doesn't matter since I scheduled the Guitar Ted Death March Invitational on the same weekend as the Trek Show in Madison.
Let it be known that I'd rather be riding a bike than getting charged $200.00 to look at some bikes.
Monday, June 12, 2006
Okay, that's the pertinent information. Here is what has been happening on the course developement and a little tidbit or two of information on it. I had originally sat down and planned a route through places I wanted to ride through, but the distance was far too great at 170 plus miles. I had to do some editing! I sat down this weekend to hash it out over some maps, (thanks to b.d. sahib!) and I came up with some major modifications. Right now, the course is estimated at 148 miles. I will have to confirm that for you all that are interested later. I have also found a way to pull maps off of the Iowa D.O.T. site that will work nicely for the navigation needs of anyone that decides to ride along.
The course will start in Black Hawk County, pass southwards and slightly eastwards to Tama County making a "U" shaped turn to the West and then straight North. Entering the southern portion of Grundy County we will turn west into Hardin County. We will follow the Iowa River valley for a short spell then peel off straight to the east out of Hardin and into Grundy County again. Cutting straight across Grundy County, we will arrive back into Black Hawk County and Cedar Falls hopefully before the sun sets. The towns passed through will be Traer, Gladbrook, and Steamboat Rock. Don't let the proximity of the towns fool you! I have at least 50 miles between Traer and Gladbrook, for instance.
Well, that's about it for updates now. I have to start riding the course now to verify that all the roads are there, so more updates will be posted as they become available. In the meantime; read about a real endurance event and be inspired! It's one of the best ride re-caps I have read. It's long, but well worth it. See if the closing paragraphs hit you like they did for me.
And speaking of re-caps, go check out Mr. 24's re-cap of the Ponca XC......er Marathon event that took place this past Saturday in a warmer climate than Iowa has had lately. 48 degrees this morning! Brrrr! I thought I was done with jackets for awhile!
Ride your bike today.......OUT!
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Looks a lot like Trans Iowa V2. It also felt alot like T.I.V2! 43 degrees and 25 mph winds with gusts up to 40mph!
This was the campground scene. The "team" busses from the sponsoring teams of the R.A.S.H. Ride are lined up with no activity visible. The campground had about half a dozen tents where they had expected several hundred.
Well, cold, wet, and windy about sums up the 4th annual R.A.S.H. Ride. This is an event for seriously recreational cyclists that use their bicycles as a means to get from bar to bar. I usually do the ride support from the start and then move on up the route to a few of the other bar stops. This year, when I got to the start area I was told to hold off setting up, as the promoter was not expecting much of a turn out. That stuck a fork in things for me, as the start is traditionally where I get the best tip money. Not that I expected anyone to show up either!
In the end, about 80 people took the start and made their way down the road. I actually went up the road and set up at the first town out, but did not get any action at all. Not good. I was coming up on four hours of standing around in sub 50 degree weather, getting rained on intermittently, and chafing my cold, blue hands. No tip money made things even worse. I packed it in after sitting in Jesup, which was the second town out, for about half an hour with hardly any cyclists coming through. Last year, I was busy repairing several bikes at the same time, at the same spot. I wasn't about to waste anymore of my time.
Last year 500 people were on this ride and I did really well. This year, much like T.I.V2, the weather kicked me to the curb. No tip money and cold to the bone. I can't remember a June day in my life being this cold in Iowa, or having as much Esat wind as we have had all this year. Simply incredible!
Oh well. At least there's next year!
I was kindly informed by my racing cohorts at the shop that 24 hrs of 9 mile (National Championships) is being held a week before I was planning on having the G.T.D.R.I. So, in order for them and alot of other like minded folks that would be blown up yet a week after 9 mile to attend, the date needed to be later. It works out on my schedule to do this on the 19th of August, which the enduro freaks heartily supported. What say you? I'm thinking it's going to be the 19th.
The route was initially planned out and tallied to give me a rough estimate of 172 miles. Too much! I have to go back and do some changing. The route is ideally going to be sub 150 and at least 100. Probably something closer to the 150, as there are a few "must ride" choices that I'm not willing to forego. Wuzbeen, a frequent commentator on this blog, got me hooked up with some elevation maps, so there will be hills! Right now, plan on spending your day in the following counties: Black Hawk, Tama, Grundy, and Hardin. Locals will probably already be able to guess what the route will be like!
Going to do ride support for the R.A.S.H. ride today. It's a RAGBRAI "tune up" ride, so not so serious cyclists, if ya know what I mean! Looks to be a bit wet this morning, so there may not be too many folks out. We'll see! I'll have a post ride report from a mechanics view point later today!
Friday, June 09, 2006
I haven't even touched on the fact that the tester is relying on heart rate data to guage his performance in conjunction with GPS data. What? No power out put data? Wouldn't it make sense to see if it takes more power to turn a 29"er wheel over varied terrain? Hmmm.............guess not! Never mind that it is one of the key points in the debate over 26" vs. 29" wheels.
However, the real kicker for me is what is written in the first paragraph of the accompaning article.
"James Huang takes an in-depth look at the issue through an engineering lens to figure it out once and for all in Part One of this two-part feature."
Ummmm.........So you are saying that you are going to figure it out once and for all for everybody? For every type of rider on every type of terrain?
Then there is this gem that appears as a caption on the first picture you see: "Two options, but which is best?"
So, you are saying that one is "best"? For what? Over all riding anywhere? That's the implication here. Are you guys serious?
It's these statements that I find ludicrous. It makes whatever else the tester does be examined in light of those initial statements. It's a recipe for failure and derision, because there is absolutely no way to answer those questions raised by the statements made. There is not enough money behind this study to cover all the possible variables, and especially when you have one tester, the whole project becomes a laughing stock.
What we have here is...........failure to communicate!
I'm sure that if questioned, the tester would agree that this is not the premise he wishes to explore, but then again, the article says what it says.
What will we learn from this comparison? I think we already have something to learn from it that is very valuable.
Be careful of what you say!
Thursday, June 08, 2006
G.T.D.R.I. (or the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational) has recieved some actual outside interest! It would appear that I'm not the only nutty one out there!
Anyway.......since there seems to be a desire on the part of some of you to attend, I will breifly give you some details, as they stand at the moment.
As I mentioned yesterday, the idea is to be able to ride the course completely sans lights. This is going to limit the distance and make this a single day event, albeit an all day one. To help those that may need to have a low budget place to shack up for the nights previous to and following the grinder, I am trying to arrange the start at or near to the campgrounds at the local State Park. Camping is pretty cheap, or you can always sleep ghetto style in your vehicle, I suppose.
The course is still in flux at the moment, but once I nail it down I will produce maps based on the Dirty Kanza template. There will be a few cues included, mostly for town passages, but that's it- no course markings. That's too much work for one guy. Hey, if I can negotiate the course with my map, you can too. I may even post the route beforehand, if that helps anyone out. By the way, the photo above is from part of the course, if that matters to anyone. It was taken in August, so that'll give you an idea of what it might look like out there.
On another note......
Cyclingnews.com has arranged a test of two "identically equipped and set up" mtb's in 26 and 29 inch wheel formats to test "scientifically" to see "which wheelsize is best" Already there are some holes here in the testing procedure and equipment that are going to affect the outcome of the test. I will delve more into that tomorrow. Suffice it to say that they have already pre-determined some of the outcome and alot of this is going to come as no surprise to me. In short, we aren't going to cover any new ground with this test, but you never know, maybe there will be a surprise or two. My suggestion is to go for a bike ride. It's far more entertaining than this comparo will be!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
..............................but I'm planning a ride.
Let me explain. See, ever since I got my feet wet in the endurance event scene by being one of the organizers of Trans Iowa I have had this thing.....this problem with staring at maps for hours on end coming up with new cycling routes through Iowa's backroads. Then I got my feet even wetter by actually riding in the Dirty Kanza 200. Well then I wanted to ride longer events, but there just isn't anything quite like T.I. or the D.K.200 coming up for a while. Soooooo............
To accomodate both of my sicknesses in one balled up, goofy effort, I am in the process of concocting another long gravel grinder for myself. Yep! This one's all about me and what I want. I know, I know..........that sounds so selfish. Well, it probably is and that's not the worst of it.
Right now the details of the course are being worked out. It probably will be 100 to 150 miles in a loop. The start and finish will be in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The tentative date is August 5th, on a Saturday. There will be "Curiak Rules" in effect: No entry fee, No swag, No race numbers, No support of any kind, and No pre-ride meeting. Just show up if you want to and be prepared to ride self supported. If nobody else comes but myself........I don't care. I'm doing this for myself, remember? I'm just putting this out for anyone of like mind that may want to hop on for the ride.
I'm going to need to know if you are coming just to have a map ready for you at the start. Otherwise, that's it. I will post more details at a later date, but the idea will be that at 10mph on course average, you will have plenty of sunlight to finish, so lights are not really necessary. Oh yeah.................I'm calling it the "Guitar Ted Death March Invitational" So, you've been invited!
Yep, I must be crazy! But I don't care. I'm going for a long gravel ride in early August and if anybody else shows up, well that'd be just peachy, but not necessary. In the meantime, I'll be staring at maps and riding lots and lots of gravel roads to get ready.
Maybe I'll see ya out there....................
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
A Counter-Point to Riding with Music By Guitar Ted
I have issues with this practice of riding with music. I won’t touch on everything here such as how music can distract you from being aware of other trail users, or how wearing ear buds to hear your tunes is dangerous to your hearing. I will just cut to the basics here. The opportunity that awaits each and every mountain biker out on the trails that is wasted by listening to your music is too good to miss. That you would never even consider giving yourself a chance to experience that opportunity is sad at best, and downright offensive at worst.
The thing I am talking about is not man made. It’s bigger than anything ever imagined and to think that some random tune getting blasted up into your head is going to enhance that experience is short sighted. I’m talking about nature. The sounds of the animals, the wind, and the water in the stream. These things that could inspire you, or even suggest an appropriate song from your memory, are negated by whatever tune the iPod has up next.
I know that for some, the whole idea is to take your mind off of the pain of a climb, or some such thing. I just do not understand how when you are surrounded by something as awesome as nature that you can’t lose yourself in it. How can a mere song compare? Perhaps we just aren’t tuned in since we have the tunes piped into our heads. Maybe I’m just a neo-hippie; tree hugger, (not likely!) but I’d rather get my inspiration from a more natural source, thank you very much!
Ultimately, it really doesn't matter if you ride with or without music. The point is, you ride.We all have our reasons, schedules, agendas, motivations, escapes. How do you feel about it? Be heard. Are we full of it? Let's see what the thin side of the coin has to say!
Monday, June 05, 2006
Riding In Tune
There are a lot of mountain bikers riding today to the beat. You can find them everywhere. Just look for the tell tail wires dripping off the ear lobes. It’s such a popular thing to do that even hydration pack makers are sewing in ports to accommodate the digital music players. Is this a good thing? Does a fine ride not exist without your personal soundtrack? Mountain bikers George Wisell and Guitar Ted tackle the subject from two different angles in this Point- Counterpoint.
Point: Riding With Music
By George Wisell
I have been riding bikes with headphones for a very long time. As a kid growing up in England, I used to ride my bike everywhere. I rode to and from school, 6 days a week (seriously), to rowing practice 3 towns away twice a week, to the BMX track every Sunday 4 towns away. The rail system was never convenient for me, and you can forget about the buses. The one thing that made all my various trips easier to deal with was to listen to music. Back then it was a giant walkman and tapes. Nothing used to get me more fired up for going to school on dark, cold and blustery December mornings than Iron Maiden. In fact, it gave me the ability to take my mind off of the task at hand. As you can imagine, besides driving on the wrong side of the road, there are many other things at work that make getting anywhere in England on the road a challenge. I was always vigilant, safety was always a huge concern of mine, and being aware of one's surroundings is the difference between life and death in my book. I never fully tuned out the outside world. But the music allowed me to focus, to get the best line through traffic, to seamlessly go from pavement to woods and back again. It was always fun. I got to ride, and listen to my favorite tunes.
Now with the advent of the iPod, I can carry more music than I know what to do with.I don’t always ride with it. I tend not to use it unless I'm specifically going to be on the road versus the woods, I like to know if I am rolling up on a bear or a moose. I only use it when I'm alone too.Now, I always put the pod on shuffle when I ride. Sometimes it's great, often times it's not. 30gigs of music is a LOT of music, and I have several different genres. You never know when Clifford Brown is going to be followed by Slayer.
The whole reason for me to even write this is that the last big ride I did with my iPod was off road. I was trying to meet up with some friends on the trail, and I had a much longer way to go before I could catch them. The iPod somehow knew what to play, every song. I left my house and started grinding up the hill to catch them. You basically gain about 800ft in elevation the first 1.5 miles, before it flattens out again for a mile or so, before it goes up another 800ft in 3 miles. When it turns to dirt, I pull one of the earphones out (in case of bears) and grind all the way to the top. I recognized tread patterns; I knew my friends were a short ways ahead of me. We had all agreed to take a particular trail down, so it would be easy for us to connect.I was determined to catch them. By the time I have reached the summit, there is still no sign of them, so I'd better get moving. The Pod gives me Dick Dale's, “Misirlou”. I was going to catch them.
The instant the trail points down, Dick Dale delivers his signature "jgdjgdjgdjgjdjgdjdjggjjgjdjgjdgjd" (think Pulp Fiction). I rode my ass off trying to catch my friends. I rode so hard in fact that my Karate Monkey actually felt like an IF, lively, snappy, responsive. It was dancing to the music that was coming through my ears. It's true. It became a musical lightning rod. Now, these are trails we ride on all the time, so I know them VERY well, but the tunes helped me focus on getting the best line. Once the Monkey came alive though, new lines appeared, speed increased. I was catching air.I was railing berms at speeds I never had previously attempted on my 6" travel 26er (now parted out and up for sale).I caught them at the bottom. Totally beat potato chips for wheels, but with the biggest grin on my face. They had left 30 minutes before they said they were going to leave.We laughed all the way back to my friend's house and talked about the ride we just did, iPod cooling off in my jersey pocket.I added 6 miles and 1600 extra feet of climbing, and did the ride in the same time as my friends, all with the help of a few randomly selected tunes.
Tomorrow: Counterpoint with Guitar Ted
Sunday, June 04, 2006
I alluded to the action part at the end of yesterday's post. I know that it might seem a bit hypocritical of me to complain about the Green Belt getting overgrown and then to make these comments, but for the sake of brevity and non-self promotion, I will just say that I've been paying my dues all along. There's been alot of sweat equity put in out there, I'll tell you that much!
So, the point is that we had an event planned and now it's done before it started. That's a bit disappointing for alot of folks out there that were planning on coming to share in what we all love to do: Ride our bikes. It's a bit disappointing for me, because here it looked as though we might have an opportunity to get more local folks jazzed up about riding and trail maintenance. I'm sure it's disappointing for the folks that are on the race team that had their name on this too. All for the lack of passionate people that take action?
Hmm.............I don't know the whole story behind the cancellation of the 12 Hours of Cedar Valley, but I'll bet that's close to the mark!
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Now a word to you locals: I already know who most, if not all of you are. I'm not writing this as an indictment of you. Just telling it like it is. You are welcome to comment if this rubs you wrong in any way!
The thing is, there are so few of us and so many miles of trail. Last fall, a local race team and a couple of the more passionate mountainbikers got together to help clear out a small portion of the State Parks trails. A great job was done by all, but they didn't get around to maintaining all the trails out there. It was too big a job for a couple days work. And that doesn't include the municipal trails in Ulrich Park, or the Green Belt. We're talking miles and miles of trail that would require several days each month on each system to maintain. With the amount of dedicated, pasionate mountain bikers that we have in this area, that's asking alot.
We just need more people that live and work in this area that are passionate about their off roading. Perhaps there is a little hope here from two things that I have noticed. The first is the resurgence in sales of mountain bikes in this area. The second is the rise in interest in the trails up at Camp Ingawanis. These trails are a bit more inspiring, shall we say, and invoke a little more passion for the developement and maintenance of them. There is an organized effort developing to maintain those fine trails. Perhaps a little of that will carry over to the local trails, which the governing bodies have no money to spend on maintenance of these trails.
In the mean time I pick up the blow downs and ride out in the Green Belt whenever I can. That is, until the weeds get too high, then I wisely retreat and wait until fall. It's just too much for one guy to take care of on his own.
Let's see, the city should mow the trail the one and only time they do it all year about late August or so............
So, if you have a trail maintenance group in your area, you should consider lending them a hand if you love mountain biking. Those people are a rare quantity of folks that care enough about riding trail to actually do something about it. Shouldn't you? All it takes is a few hours of your time one or two days a year to make a big difference.
If you don't have a trail group in your area, then consider being the first member of one. Maybe you'll be the only one, for awhile. One person can make a difference too. And you might be surprised to find someone joining you someday. Action- not words. Hmm.....that reminds me!
Friday, June 02, 2006
I've been doing some back to back rides on the Karate Monkey and the Inbred 29"er, so I thought I would pass on some more of my thoughts, praises, and concerns to you all that might be considering one of these two frames.
I must say a couple of things regarding the Inbred's sliding dropout system. The first is that I absolutely love being able to open the quick release and have the rear wheel in my hands within seconds! The Karate Monkey's dropouts are solid, reliable as the day is long, and easy to tension the chain with but take waaay too long to let you remove the rear wheel, especially with the rear disc brake. The Inbred is the bike to ride when quick rear flat repairs are a high priority for me. Secondly; the concerns of many Inbred riders for the rear tensioners not being sufficiently strong/ tight enough to hold the tension on the chain is not that big of a deal to me. Some folks have pestered Brant of On One to come up with a solution, and he has. A beefier chain tensioner is now available from On One's website. I had some concerns at first, but I think I know what was causing my problem.
I noticed that the sliding drop out was flush to the shiny pearlescent paint job covering the frame where the two parts interface. My belief is that it just took a little while for the sliding drop to get some bite on the frame, due to the paint being so smooth. When higher torque was applied to the pedals, the sliding drop out would....er, slide......and the chain tensioner would bend outwards due to the movement in the drop out. This is not a chain tensioner problem, but a drop out problem. If the drop outs face and matching surface on the frame had a rougher surface from the get-go, the interface would be more secure, and the sliding drop out would stay put where you want it to be. At any rate, mine has quit slipping, but if it does it again, a little surface manipulation on the drop outs and frame may be in order.
I have ridden my Karate Monkey far more miles than the Inbred and since I am a tinkerer when it comes to fitting parts to a bike, the Karate Monkey has a much more refined ergonomic feel than the Inbred at this time. The Karate Monkey has seen several handlebar, stem, and saddle changes over the course of three years. I now feel I have achieved the almost perfect fit/ feel that I can with this bike. The Inbred has a ways to go in this department. I feel okay on the Inbred, and can ride it for extended periods of time, but the Karate Monkey is almost dead on. I can sit on that bike and say that everything.....well almost everything, is perfect on that bike. As far as the contact points, only the peadals are of any concern now, an easy thing to rectify. I may experiment with crank length next, so it's not just perfect yet, but darn near so!
So, it's really not a disadvantage to having one bike over the other here. It's mostly about what parts are going to make it fit and function better for me as a rider. The frames are both really nice, but I think that the difference in frames might become more pronounced if the fit issues with the Inbred were to be fine tuned like they are on the Karate Monkey. Then again, if both bikes fit the same, the frames might not matter? Hmm...............time to look for another Midge Bar perhaps?
Stay tuned! I'll update this again when I have more to write.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
So, here I am on a favorite bit of trail. One that I rode on just a few days ago, and I notice how much more overgrown with weeds the track is. Just since last weekend! Arrrgh! I dread this time of year because it's fast becoming an impassable jungle out on the trails. Soon I'll be relegated to the road bike.
Oh yeah, I know, I know! Go out and maintain some trail, go ride on it anyway......la-di-da! Listen......I've done all of that over the years. Perhaps you folks just do not understand. Iowa trails become jungle! Tangled, twisted, mosquito infested, itchweed laden jungle! It about kills you to either ride in it or try to clear some of it when it's like this. Either you get bitten by a thousand mosquitos, or you get into the itchy nettles and poison ivy. You get intwined in tall foxgrass, as tall as you are on the bike, or you faint from the humidity and temperature which is magnified above and beyond what it is out on the streets. It's a never ending battle, too, because once cut down it comes back again within a week or so. Things grow fast out there in the woods at this time of year!
There are exceptions, of course. Places that have organized trail maintenance, for instance, can keep up with the Green Monster. However; the trails on municipal property in this area don't have that benefit. Nope. It's best to wait until late summer, when all of this jungle vege starts to mature and die off. Then things start getting alot better. Then the first frost comes and everything is glorious once again.
Yeah, the answer is road biking, gravel grinding, or loading up the bike to ride in a more friendly environment. So, the nice after work ride is going to get changed due to the overgrowth of the single track soon. Ah well, I'll enjoy it whilst I can!