Thursday, January 31, 2008
And just what is that phenomenon, you ask? Well, it doen't really have a name. Not in the clinical, official sense. It has been something that has haunted, motivated, and frustrated hundreds of cyclists that I am aware of. Just recently I have finally found the most succint, and true definition of "it" I have ever read. It comes to us from the inimitable Mike Curiak:
"Voluntarily quitting something that is so dear to you leaves a hole that is unfillable by anything other than that which you have quit. There can be no substitution--you simply have to go back and do it. "
Mike was relating one of his experiences on the Iditarod Trail, but it may as well be anybody that has had to "pull the plug" on any endurance event, ultra-endurance event, or long self supported tour. I have seen it first hand from the outside, watching Trans Iowa "dnf'ers" deal with their decisions. I have experienced it first hand, as I have mentioned, and this quote from Mr. Curiak seems to sum up my motivations for going back to Kansas again this coming May rather well. I suspect it does that for many of us.
Just why it is "dear" to us, is left out of Mike's quote and rightly so. He is talking from a deeply personal place, obviously, but I like that it leaves that open to interpretation for each of us. That said, I'm betting the interpretations of that are more similar between us than different.
I think it crosses over to other parts of life too, but something about an attempt at a challenge that seems to stretch us to our limits physically, mentally, and spiritually leaves a mark that is indelible. If that "mark", that change is cut short, left incomplete, I think it sets off an almost irrational longing for it to be completed. Not until every "i" is dotted and "t" is crossed do we let it go. Maybe you've been there and can relate to what I'm so inept at trying to explain here.
It's just hard to explain. But just like that old ELO hit, "Can't Get It Out Of My Head", it is a siren call to keep trying until the end has been reached. If you are there in the middle of it yet, I wish you well, and I hope you reach that goal soon.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I found one comment particularly poignant and humorous at the same time. It was left by a fellow that I happen to have met before and that I respect highly for his vast knowledge of the cycling industry. His name is Mike and here is the snippet from his comment that I found so interesting:
"A couple of years ago, I talked to the German owner of an American bike company who mentioned that one of the reasons he sees why Americans don’t ride to work is they are afraid of sweating and getting dirty. American culture has deemed it that thou shalt not stink and that you shalt have a sweet perfumey aire about them. There’s nothing wrong with a little human smell. "
At first read I laughed out loud. I mean, that is hilarious! Then it began to sink in. Maybe I'm laughing because it is true too. Think about it. How many of you would consider going without a shower for a day? Hmm? I think this strikes at something that is at the core of a lot of our deep set beliefs on "how life should be lived" that maybe need to be reviewed, but I digress.
The point is that there are deep set cultural values that are a huge hindrance to cycling for purposes of transportation and utility. Heck, we even bring our phones and video into our cars now. What's next? A microwave oven that doubles as a glove box? We are addicted to comfort and cleanliness. Until those things are addressed a lot of folks won't consider for a minute riding a bike to work, or using it for transportation to accomplish tasks like getting a gallon of milk, or running to the post office.
You know this is true if you bicycle in a city. Think about it. That look you got shot at you by that lady in the Suburban. The scowls you see behind windshields as you pass by the other direction. You know in the back of your mind those folks are thinking, "What's that person doing on a bike at this time of year? Probably a DWI, or worse. Dirty cyclist loser!" You really know it's true if you ride in street clothes and not a cycling kit.
In fact, I think it is one of the reasons cyclists wear "cycling clothing". They do it to say "I'm out here recreating. I'm a serious cyclist. I'm going home and taking a shower!" Sound goofy? Think about it. Try riding around downtown in your Levis and a t-shirt some day. Take a look at the people watching you. Tell me you don't feel it.
So, to get back to "the question", a big area of resistance is a subliminal fear of being dirty and being thought of in a negative manner, I think. Some of us don't give a rip what people think (hand goes up), but a lot of people that could ride a bike and don't do. That's a big hurdle. That's going to keep a lot of folks in their cars even with high priced gas.
That's my take anyway.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I guess that the real problem lies in the fact that we have not experienced such a winter since that notorious snow fest of 2000-2001 around here. It seems that in between then and now we could count on a "winter" lasting all but a month- month and a half maybe. A short period of time that you might not bicycle much, if at all outdoors. This winter is dragging on for what seems like forever, in comparison.
I might sound like a whiner to some of you who have been piling on the miles in places like Minneapolis or Alaska. I don't know why folks in the Omaha/Lincoln area have been having group rides every weekend seemingly all year long, but around here, we just seem to be in the Vortex of Suck, to coin a new weather term.
The whole Vortex of Suck came into play here on the first weekend in December when we got slammed with four inches of sleet that quickly turned into a sheer slab of ice. Yeah, that stuff was like an icy version of Quick-rete, and it has closed down the off road trails since then. After that, the Vortex of Suck dumped various amounts of snow on us at even intervals making sure that the brief moments of melting in between didn't deplete the snow cover. Then, as already mentioned, The Vortex of Suck put us in the deep freeze for about a week.
Yeah, it relented for a spell, but the Vortex of Suck returns with a vengeance again, sucker punching us for believing for a moment that warmth and melting snow were going to reveal dirt. Dirt that I have not set tires to since November. That is waaaay too long to go without dirt.
I suppose I am at that latitude and longitude that promotes this mess, this Vortex of Suck phenomenon that haunts this area and causes cycling to be driven indoors where it ought not to be. I refuse to retreat to such haunts. Others may ply their roller skills and sweat their brains out at spin classes, but I am not cut from such cloth. Nope. I am riding outdoors or not riding at all. I am committed. Vortex of Suck or no.
It ain't easy, but that's the path I've chosen. Winter blahs and all.
Monday, January 28, 2008
<===All done and ready to ride! Now.......where is the dirt?
One down: The Blackbuck is ready to roll. I finished it off at work on Friday. No clipless yet, I'll actually have to buy a pair since all of my toss off sets have been installed on other rigs. Salsa CroMoto stem and carbon 17 degree flat bar are coming as well. Otherwise she's good to go.
Of course, I haven't got a place to really throw this into a true off road situation. All the trails are socked in with snow now. I left the WTB Vulpines on it for now. I may do a bit of gravel road riding on it to start out with and the Vulpine should prove to be an excellent gravel road tire.
You'll notice two silver "thingies" on the seat post. Those are an extra water bottle mount. I have them there for the really long days out on the gravel.
The disc brake mount is really a cool feature on this bike and keeps things looking "sano", as the old hot rodders would say.
The quick little spin around the shop confirms that the steering and fit are much like the old Inbred these parts used to be on.
The way the rear end flows into the top tube is another cool little detail I like about the frame.
But enough gawking. I want to ride it in the dirt! It is going to be tough waiting out this long winter we're having this year!
One last shot. Here you can see the downtube route on the rear brake. Also, you can spot the the only other decal on the bike, other than the head tube badge. Not a lot of graphic treatment to the Blackbuck, which I find refreshing. Just a lot of "Kerkove Nation Black" (yes....that is an official color!)
One thing you can't see and that is the upside down King headset cups and stem face plate on the Easton stem. (I'm a bit of a rebel!)
Okay, so that's one build. The Badger is only needing one crucial part to be complete. I'm hoping it will be here this week!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Finally, after several days of weather unfit for man or beast we got a nice day. I didn't hesitate to grab my bike and ride.
The plan was to get in about two to three hours worth of base level riding. So I tooled around town for a bit.
<===I was super stoked to be riding outside. There's a smile there, you just can't see it. My face was frozen!
At the start it was 15 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind was out of the west-Northwest at about 20-25mph. Yeah.........windchill! I made my way over to the Greenbrier district of Waterloo, over onto Wagner Road, and turned onto Diagonal Road. Before I got there I had to battle a bunch of car snow plowed up onto the sidewalk along Conger. Slow going!
Anyway, once past Diagonal, I turned west on Airline Highway and straight into the wind. Yikes! It was super cold and a slow grind. I was trying to keep things low on the effort and just spin it. I was successful, but it took awhile to get to the turn off to Aikey's dump/car salvage/death yard.
Funny how people get bent because you are riding a bike. I had a guy waving his arms wildly, ( yes....both of them. No hands at 35mph.....nice!) gesturing at me as if I was violating some cosmic law because I was riding my bike in January. Whatever dude!
So, I got into the Big Woods Road area and found that the bike path was cleared at some point, so I made a rest stop there before continuing. By this time the temperature was rising and I could tell. I wasn't freezing anymore since I wasn't shivering when I stopped. I remounted after some photos and hit the trail back home.
<===The Blue Colnago gets his temperature shots here, I think. No temp on the sign today, but another sign not far off said 23 degrees.
So I wandered around the back roads going towards Waterloo and made it home in time for some lunch. (Good timing, huh?) It was a great day on the bike, especially so since I hadn't ridden in over a week. The roads were getting a bit messy by the time I got home and I was glad I was off the slush. Two hours and twenty minutes of ride time. Yeah, that'll work.
<===Normally there is a lot of traffic out this way. The bitter cold chased folks off all last week. Not many tracks out here except those of the ever present deer.
I rode the Diamondback Overdrive on this ride. It is a really decent rig for the money that I am testing/reviewing for Twenty Nine Inches. I also am testing a new (to me) lube on the chain of this bike which so far has been fairly impressive. I will be detailing that in another round of the Guitar Ted Lube-Off coming soon.
I hope to be getting back to commuting again here. Miss that ride! Driving cars isn't my gig so much. Let's hope this super bitter cold leaves us alone for the rest of the winter!
Friday, January 25, 2008
Completion Of Builds Soon: I have posted a bunch on the OS Bikes Blackbuck recently and it is going to be ride able this weekend. Final details like cables and brake tuning are all that remain there. Beyond that it is about getting out to ride it and then start tweaking with the addition of some nicer parts here and there and swapping forks. That will come later. For now I will be happy just to ride any bike! This insane weather has all but shut down out of doors biking, but the good news is the weather is set to turn around. Anywho........this was about finishing bikes up. Yeah............... The Badger, that long, long ongoing build will finally see the end of that process this weekend also. Stay tuned next week and I'll post up final build pics of both rigs.
RAGBRAI Announces Route: Yes, that annual summer bicycle bacchanalia is set with a route for 2008. We already had a customer in looking for a new RAGBRAI bike too. I guess it is time to start hearing about " how epic" RAGBRAI is from all the clueless masses. You know, for them it is, but it is for all the wrong reasons. Most of which are conjured up in their heads. Heck, a monkey can ride RAGBRAI. It isn't that tough. Mindsets like these are why no one wants to ride their bike to work, or on errands because, well........you know, only nutcases that do RAGBRAI can handle that sort of riding. (This kind of spew coming from folks that actually do ride bits of RAGBRAI) Reality is created for these folks, believe me. So, I was ruminating on all of this yesterday and came up with a truly sick, evil idea. Like the Grinch, when he thought of a plan to stop Christmas from coming, my face curled up in a devilish smile. I hurried over to the computer and tapped out a message to d.p., my partner in Trans Iowa. My idea? Read on!
I call it GrRBRAI. (Gravel Road Bike Ride Across Iowa) It would consist of riders that would be totally self sufficient, self contained, riding across Iowa on a route that ran in close proximity to the RAGBRAI route. Each day would be a stage that would be raced beginning at 6;00am. The winner of each stage will have self navigated the gravel road course using cue sheets ala Trans Iowa style racing. Then when each stage is finished at a RAGBRAI overnight town, riders would simply avail themselves of the ammenities already placed there for the cyclists coming into town. A seven day gravel road stage race with infrustructure already in place to accomodate cyclists. Brilliant! At least I thought so. Anyway.........it was just a thought, so don't go off making any plans!
Oh yeah. The RAGBRAI route? Whatever! This gravel road idea is where you'll really see Iowa. Not that I am doing it. Just sayin', ya know?
Thursday, January 24, 2008
<====The Of Spirit Blackbuck in "bicycle form"
I was able to start the transfer of parts over from my old single speed race frame to the OS Bikes Blackbuck yesterday. It looks pretty nice so far, I think.
I wanted to get it dialed in position-wise as close to the old set up as I can get, ( which looks like it will be easy to do) before I start tweaking with the different forks and what not. This is the Superlight Carbon fork from On One that is on it now. I will derive a "baseline" of handling from this point, since it should be the most similar to the old bike. Then after I get a handle on this set up, I'll start the mad scientist fork swapping.
A couple of tech notes, for those curious about such things: The Avid BB-7 calipers fit fine on the chain stay. No interference with the actuation arm of the caliper. Also, the frame with seat collar and EBB installed weighed 5.6lbs. I figure the completed bike should weigh in at about 25-26lbs when I'm finished. I could cut that down with a different bar/stem combo. (That is in the plans as of now. Salsa carbon bar and a Salsa stem are on the radar)
As for racing this beast, I have already committed to doing the Dirty Kanza 200 on May 31st. There are still spots open to get on board with this long gravel grinder, and I recommend it highly! Good times! Many Iowans are already on the list and several other well known area enduro-freaks are too. Anyway, that will be the first real test of the rig planned so far in terms of racing conditions. I may find another local event before that to test the waters. We'll see.
Of course, it will be getting ridden for the fork tests all along. Also on the radar is the 24 Hours of Seven Oaks which will see the re-appearance of Team Stoopid. The all rigid, all single speed team of four that won their category at the event last year. Now all I have to do is to convince the team leader to acquire a set of adult wheels for the campaign. It'll help keep him upright, I think.
More on the racing scene as it becomes pertinent.
<====Not normally found on my training table!
Had a little celebration last night and I wanted to say Thanks!
Having my little ones sing "Happy Birtday" to me was the best present I could get.
Oh yeah.........I like me chocolate!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I arrived at work yesterday and took a bit of time to snap off some images of the OS Bikes Blackbuck. Pretty cool that a company decided to go the subtle, classy route instaed of doing the huge "billboard" company graphics
Of course, it'll be hard to escape notice with those arched seat stays!
<===The Blackbuck comes with a quick release seat collar.
The intersection of tubes here is cool. Captain Bob said it reminded him of a GT. I think it is reminiscent of what that triple triangle seat stay weld looked like.
I am swapping over parts from my Inbred to this frame. The 27.2mm seat post worked out as did the nicer quick release seat collar I had on it. Both are Salsa items, by the way.
<===Dainty looking drop outs.
The caliper mount is on the chainstay instead of the seat stay, a unique touch. This keeps the frame looking clean with nothing on the top of the seat stay to break up that graceful arching line. No extra bracing necessary.
Notice the two holes in the drive side drop out? Those are for mounting the pin mount derailluer hangar, which comes with the frame in case you are wanting gears.
<===Split shell EBB here.
The old split shell EBB. I have worked on old tandems that utilized this type of eccentric bottom bracket. No pinch bolts to distort the shell and no fancy wedges requiring special tools or force to bang loose. Simple and effective. We'll see if the creaks come or if there are any other problems after I ride it in dirt and mud.
Of course, I'll be greasing this baby up but good!
<====Big external butt on the lower end of the head tube. Beefy!
So, you may be asking yourself, "where's the fork?" Well, I did get the rigid Blackbuck fork for this too. The really cool thing about the frame is how Mark Slate, the designer of the Blackbuck, designed the bike to be ridden with both a non-suspension corrected fork, with suspension forks, or with rigid suspension corrected forks. The Blackbuck rigid fork is really interesting in that it has a 440mm axle to crown measurement and 51mm offset! Mark sent me pictures of his rig with the rigid fork on it all muddied up. He said it rides quite well in this configuration. The Blackbuck also is available as a complete bike and in this configuration it comes with a Reba. I happen to have a spare Reba, so I'll also test it with that fork.
I will be trying out two other forks on it that I have here. The RST M-29 80mm travel/44mm offset fork and my On One Superlight Carbon fork that is suspension corrected and has 47mm offset. In fact, the On One fork will go on this first so I can dial in my cock pit and get some stems to help fit the Blackbuck properly.
I'll have this together soon and I will post some pics then. Be forewarned though! The Inbred has quite the menagerie of annodized parts which will be seeing duty on the Blackbuck. I can't say it'll be a classy, subtle build! That's what I have though, so that's what I'll use.
In related news, the Badger drop bar bike is nearing total completion, so I'll be posting pics of that very soon. Stay Tuned!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Had a wreck today. Someone plowing out a driveway with a Ford Super Duty backed out in front of me on Baltimore. Too slippery, couldn't stop.
Took on the five foot pile of snow on the side of the road in an effort to miss, but caught the sand spreader mount.
Had the SUV at a 45 degree angle climbing up that snow drift/pile. To no avail!
No one got hurt, the plow truck didn't get a scratch, and no tickets.
Now I get to have more insurance fun!
Happy Birtday to me, huh?
Oh well, cars and trucks are replaceable. Thank God my son and I weren't injured.
Be careful out there folks!
Well, anyway.............about that bike thing! Yeah, I basically got a deal I couldn't refuse on a new frame and fork that I will be replacing the On One frame and fork with....sort of. (I'll explain further) The bike is something you may never have heard of out of California by way of Taiwan. It's called "Blackbuck" and it's by a company called OS Bikes. The Blackbuck is the only model and it only comes in one size for now. Low and behold, that size fits me to a "T".
It is a single speed bike with a eccentric bottom bracket and about the only thing going for it at first glance is the highly arched seat stays. But that's just the most obvious thing, there are a lot more details that make the Blackbuck quite an interesting bike. I won't get into that right now. I'll be detailing all the subtleties on Twenty Nine Inches. I'll post some of that here too. For now suffice it to say that it is mostly painted in "Kerkove Nation Black" and we'll let it go at that. (Seems odd to say "black" in reference to Jeff these days though, since he is festooned in Ergon's neon pea green.)
This bike replaces the Inbred, as I stated. I'll be throwing on most of the gear from that bike over to the Blackbuck for racing purposes in '08. (Although I'll probably just ride it around a fair bit too) Here's where it gets interesting. The fork choices play a huge part in how the OS Bikes Blackbuck handles. It was designed with this in mind too. For instance, the bike comes with a non-suspension corrected rigid fork with 51mm offset. (!!!) The bike can also be mounted up with a standard 80mm travel Reba. To add to all of this, I am retaining the On One Superlight Carbon fork to use as a test on this bike which has 47mm offset and is suspension corrected. It'll be a fun test to see just what types of handling will result, since I have all three fork options at my disposal, plus I could play with a 44mm offset RST M-29 just to make it even more interesting.
Ahh! Mad scientist type experimenting! So.............like when is all of this snow going to be gone? And like, Get it warmer out there already, mmmmkay! I gotta ride!
Stay tuned! More to come..........
Monday, January 21, 2008
Check out this page on the web. I was tipped off to its existence by d.p. this past weekend while we were, (ironically) doing research on the T.I.V4 course. I am a bit flattered, and confused as to just what to think of this.
First off, let me say that I am happy for Ira Ryan. He's taken his two wins at Trans Iowa and gone on to greater things. He is the only winner of the event and since we don't pay much for that honor, (as in zilch, nada, nuttin'!) at least he is making hay out of that fact and I am glad to see it. As for Rapha, I have heard nothing but raves for them from cycling's elite. The reason I haven't heard anything from elsewhere is because their products are stratospherically expensive. A "Ferrari" amongst Chevrolets. (Or Fords, Toyotas, and Hondas.......you get the idea!)
So I see this connection and I can understand it on one level, but the irony is not lost on me. For some reason, (call me mad if you must) I just don't see a Rapha kitted cyclist doing Trans Iowa. At least not somebody who actually paid for their kit. It certainly isn't anywhere near the description of what the first winner of T.I. was wearing during his turn as T.I. champion. Weathered Atlas Racing kit, cobbled leg warmers, and minimal protection against the elements. That's my memory of a gritty, unmatched, and functional cycling kit worn by the winner. It fit the event perfectly.
The dichotomy of this dusty, rural, and barely noticed event seems at odds with the ultra-chic cycling duds that Rapha puts out. Yet this company draws a parallel with it. I don't know, maybe I'm the only one that finds this strange. I just think it's weird.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
<===Required Trans Iowa Recon nutrition!
Well, d.p. and I decided to do a truncated version of recon today. Just to see about our check point sites and maybe toodle around here and there. I will say that the check point sites were more than we could have asked for. We were really pleased!
The course? What we could see of it is super exciting!
<===Ambient air temps were sub zero for the entire outing.
We saw some pretty outstanding scenery, roads, and cool stuff in the little bits that we took in. This course should be at least as fun as last years, if not more so.
<===Read the bottom line on the road sign. Low slung vehicle and this scene means we will have to come back later.
As you can see, there are B Maintenance sections on the course this year again. I have no idea how "bad" they are with the blanket of snow over the road bed.
<===A wilder corner of Iowa.
d.p. and I are "B" road connoisuers, I suppose you could say. Nobody gets as excited as us at the prospect of checking these out as we do. We stopped to look at every one we went past!
<===Is this Iowa? No, this is........
Some say T.I. should venture into Minnesota territory. What do you think?
All I can say is that this road wasn't passable in d.p.'s Beetle, so we had to hoof it down a piece to take a look in sub-zero weather.
We'll be back for another peek at what's going on with the T.I. course after the roads clear off. That might be a bit with the way that this weather/winter has been going. All I can say is that we are super pumped about the way things are shaping up so far. We can't wait to see the whole course in one uninterrupted drive. That should give us a clearer picture of what to expect time-wise from the course. That will help us determine checkpoint cutoffs and volunteer timing. But really, we just want to check out more B roads!
Friday, January 18, 2008
The good news is that because of the data we were able to glean by the means of modern technology, we are well ahead of the curve in terms of getting our cue sheets prepared. Here is the reality of what that means. In the past, I would look at maps and come up with a proposed course. Because of the unreliability of the source materials I was using, I would have to do a physical reconnoitering of every turn and verify that roads were in fact passable. ( All of that being done in hand writing no less! ) For example: During the T.I.V3 recon, a road that had been on every single map I could find, including the D.O.T.'s online map of this particular county, was in fact closed due to a bridge being gone over the Shell Rock river. It was obvious, (once I laid eyes on the place) that the bridge had been removed several years ago. (Trees don't spring up to a height of 20 feet overnight, ya know?)
Typically maps available to the public can have data that is up to 20 years old. That doesn't cut it for me, so physical recon was necessary first before doing the cue sheets could be considered. Now with the availability to us of fairly up to the minute satellite derived maps we can do the cues pretty accurately and the mileage will be spot on. Cues may have to be slightly modified here and there, but overall we shouldn't have to drive the course first, and we are not this year. It should also be noted that because everything is sourced in the digital realm that hand writing all the cue sheets can be completely avoided now. This not only saves an enormous amount of time, but increases accuracy as well.
Actually, we really don't have to drive the course until much closer to the events time to make sure that certain features haven't been made impassable by recent actions in regards to weather and government. Still, our excitement to see the course drives us to get this done as soon as possible. You never know too, something might crop up that even the latest in mapping technology can't reveal.
We'll get out there sooner than later!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Disclaimer: The following is my take on each of these quotes. The author of each quote may have a bit different intent than what I have drawn from their quotes. With that understanding, let's proceed, shall we?............
"...........too many people ride on paper instead of the trail."
This gem was the closing statement in an e-mail to me regarding fork trail and geometry of a "certain 29"er" that shall for now remain nameless. The point is that their is a lot........nay, an over abundance of speculation on geometry and its effects on 29"ers. Real world riding experience and its descriptions are often overlooked when some folks get blinded by science. Too much focus on numbers and not enough time spent actually riding what they are speculating on.
This salient point was dropped in on me when I rode Mike Curiak's personal LenzSport Lunchbox during the Outdoor Demo at Bootleg Canyon this past year. Mike sent me an e-mail after the fact telling me the trail figure, head angle and other pertinent numbers from his bike as he had it set up for me. Let me say that I was stunned. Mike put it best when he wrote me, "......but for what the numbers are it’s surprisingly capable. Much more so than most (raises hand) would guess." So it's more about how the bike rides in the "real world" and maybe the numbers are just an indication of how it might ride, not a definition of how it will ride. Food for thought for sure!
The next quote dovetails into my last comments perfectly, I think.
"29ers don't need lower gearing, 29ers need people that actually ride!"
This was pulled from the comments section of yesterday's post and I think it is okay to say that George Wissell was the writer of that. I happen to agree. It gets old reading "stories" concocted by authors you can tell have never ridden the bike they are writing about. Or that have never ridden the "theoretical geometry" that they deem as being worthy/unworthy of consideration. I know......I know.........it is the innerweb-o-sphere way to pose as an expert. You get what you pay for there, and I suppose I ought to leave it alone, since I make some gravy offa this digital realm. The thing is, the place would be much better off if people would turn off this digital black hole and ride more, (or get back to work, as the case may be!)
At any rate, I think my words might be distracting from what George wrote there, so I'll let that speak for itself. It's pretty self explanatory, really.
And I guess that's the theme of this entire post, isn't it?
Go ride yer bike already!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I posted a story on these cranks on Twenty Nine Inches because of the hue and cry I have seen over the last couple of years regarding the "gearing discrepancy" between 26"ers and 29"ers. Other than to say That I think the Campy Record OR crank set was awesome, I'm not going to get into the details of this lost gem.
I'll just chime in here to say that I don't quite understand the 20-30-42 crank set that folks want on their 29"ers. I know some will swear that it is totally necessary, and I wouldn't begrudge them having a choice in that regard, but I just do not think it is necessary for all 29"er crank sets or that it is a "29"er specific" problem.
I have ridden a 20T granny on a 26"er with a low cog out back of 32T. A rediculously low gear that I could never hook up with. Way too much torque and quite honestly, barely faster than walking. In the situation "required" for using such a low gear, I would probably be walking no matter what. Also, I have ridden a mountain in Colorado, Vail mountain to be exact, where the switchbacked climb was counted in miles. Yes, I was using a granny gear, but it was a "standard" crank with a 24T low. Yes, I was barely going faster than I could walk, but I figure that it was more me and not so much the bike. More me as in fat me, outta shape me, never had ridden in Colorado before me. Get the picture?
To add to this, I have also ridden HWY 16 west out of Rapid City, SD on a loaded touring bike that weighed so much with all it's gear I could barely lift it up. Gearing? Campy Icarus crankset (26Tgranny) with a 28T low gear out back. Yes, I was in granny for , what is that climb, like five miles? I was clipping along fairly well, as I recall. I had about five days of riding that rig at 100 miles average a day under my belt. A bit better shape than I was in at Vail. Anyway, it worked well, never wanted a lower gear.
So, I'm not really convinced that 29"ers need lower geared cranksets. I am convinced that certain people do. Whatever wheel size they ride on. That crank idea from Campy is a good one and something like it should be available so you can run low, low gears.
It just isn't a 29"er specific problem though.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Fixie #1: The classic fixie "rat ride". I am not sure what goes on in other areas of the country with the "fixed gear culture", I only know what rolls out of our shop and around this area when it comes to coast free living. So this rig fits the bill for a "on the cheap" fixie 'round these parts. Your mileage may vary. Here is what I've got: Old Raliegh Grand Prix, 70's vintage. No braze ons, horizontal drops, and a cottered crank. Converted to 700c and fixed by using an old spin on free hub compatible wheel, respaced and redished. Fixed with a Miche' 17T cog and an old bottom bracket lock ring. I won't be able to do any cool "fixe tricks" especially skids, because the fixed cog could back off. Just toodling on this one. I have brakes on it and studded tires for the ice. Pics soon, although she ain't much to look at.
Fixie #2: The re-birth of the Campstove Green Karate Monkey! Yes........off road fixed! This one is a little more serious. I'll have my Chocolate Chip wheels on it. These are the ones that have the Surly Jim Brown hubs laced to Velocity Deep V rims that are powder coated chocolate brown. Nutted axles! Tomi Cog on one side, freewheel on the other in case I get sketched out or way tired. (Yes.......this means no rear brake! I hardly ever use the rear brake any how.) The front will be a disc braked, normal wheel. I'll be getting the Tomi Cog soon and the rest of the bike will be coming together slow but sure. I'll probably be getting it done, oh say about the time the sun is out till 8pm 'round these parts. Soon, but not soon enough!
So, I've probably just signed a death sentence for my knees, but I have been curious for awhile about all of the fixed gear stuff and how I might do riding one, especially off road. No knickers, no "fancy messenger bag" (mine has real use commuting stains, by the way) and no latte's at some cafe' I can't pronounce the name of. If this guy comes around to make fun-o-me, he's barkin' up the wrong tree. I don't give a rip whatcha do out there in fashionista land, I just want to try this thing out before I get any older and see if I can hack it. So there!
I'll be riding the Raliegh soon. Reports to follow.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Other bike related stuff was a happening too. Trans Iowa recon was scheduled for Saturday the 19th. I think Mr. 24 and I did a bit of winter recon once, I seem to remember a bit of drifted in B road once upon a time. I've seen so many miles of gravel they all start to blend together at some point! Anyhow, we are going out and I can not wait to see the lay of the land. I've gotten some GPS generated map turns and some other data from d.p. Man! Is it ever helpful to have him on board this go 'round. We practically have cue sheets done without ever going out of our doors! I've been pouring over the data and so far it is looking great. Checkpoints have been designated, at least in the general sense. Specific locations in each city will be identified as we roll through next weekend. Look for an update next week on the T.I.V4 website.
I was also busy considering an offer over the weekend for a new single speed device. I have decided to replace the ol' Inbred with something a bit more, shall we say, stylish. I won't give too much away here, but I can say that this will be a frame and fork that will have the Inbred's parts transferred over to. That means I'll have something just sitting around the Lab and that isn't a good thing for me. It might be for you, maybe. Get the picture? More on the mystery machine later.
Okay, so that was my biking related stuff from the weekend. The rest was all family stuff and playing guitar, which I get to do a little more of tonight. Yeah..........I like that! I noticed a lot of blogging cyclist are now putting a subtext or a sidebar on their blogs/posts that tells us all what they are listening to. Well, I figure I'll go a similar route, but instead of putting on a note about what I'm listen to musically, I'll put a note up on what I'm playing music on. Here is the first one....................
What I'm Pickin' On: 1988 Fender Stratocaster "Strat Plus" with Wilkinson tremolo and Lace sensor pickups. Antique White with a maple fretboard.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
"You drop a guy out in the wilderness naked with some basics to survive. If he walks out with a dead animal and some clothing, he's a hunter!"
You know, that got me to thinking. Are we really mountain bikers? Are we true off road cyclists? (Hint: Go read Gnat's post for his take on what hunting has become)
I'm left thinking about this dual suspension this and the 27 speed drivetrains. I'm thinking of the heart rate monitors, the GPS, the nutritional glop, and the latest lycra kit. I don't know about all this stuff. Is it really necessary? Does it make it too easy? Too safe?
I am not saying I have all the answers here, but I do know a few things. I love to just jump on a bike and ride it. Yes.......with no helmet, no riding shorts, and no extra gee gaws! Just me and a bike. I love that feeling. Of course, it isn't really cool to do that, but I'm just being honest here.
Another thing I know: I like my single speed with a rigid fork. It is harder, it hurts more, and it doesn't allow me to go super crazy fast over rough terrain. But I am okay with that. I like going a bit slower. Having to get off up a climb allows me to pay attention more to my surroundings. I listen and look. I like looking at the clean lines of a single speed. I like the simplicity of maintenance.
I know I like to ride in the woods with no heart rate monitor, no computer, and no "nutritional items". I like to just drink some water. I'll eat when I get home, ya know?
I don't have the answer to whether or not we make it too easy. I do enjoy a great FS bike, having no cramps, and a high quality chamois in my shorts. Being comfortable after hours of rough terrain, having my helmet, and a map. It's just that I think we are missing something, and Gnat's quote made me think about those things.
I'll have to go out for a ride and think that one over.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Soon enough it will all be revealed. It all hasn't got to do with me directly either, but some of it does.
I can say that I am getting really excited about what Trans Iowa is going to be this year. The route is going to be spectacular from a challenge standpoint. I'm hoping it is good from a riders perspective too, but that will be seen as soon as d.p. and I get out there and verify it. The event has several volunteers so far, which is amazing from the standpoint that I have not actively seeked out anybody. They have all stepped forward on their own. (By the way, we could use one or two more folks to help, if you are so inclined)
So, details have to be ironed out yet, but the 2008 version of T.I. looks to be falling together quite nicely as of now.
And as for gravel, I will be getting some in this weekend, (hopefully) and I will be very busy playing in the church band on electric guitar and running some side projects down in the lab.
Hopefully you can get a bike ride in too! Have a great weekend.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Generally you might see an athlete with some sort of pedigree being asked to join a team, or even a retired professional racer. Our research into this "Guitar Ted" figure is a bit shadowy, at best, but from what we know, he doesn't seem to fit the mold. We are still trying to get a fix on just what is going on with this. As of now, all we can say is that it's stranger than Rock and Republic's racing team. At least Twin Six has better looking jerseys!
Speaking of racing..... Here's the updated list of events. Dirty Kanza 200- May 31st, 12 Hours of Blue Mound, July 12th, 24 hours of Seven Oaks, September(??), and one more event yet to be determined. I may see about getting into some other events here and there, but these four, ( with one mystery event) are for sure events in 2008 for me.
Then there's always Trans Iowa: Then there is the event I help put on. Trans Iowa looks to be a bit shorter than last year at 312 miles or so. That means the time to complete will be modified downwards too. I'm looking at going to 31 hours with three check points on the route. Stay tuned, this is all still in flux yet. More on the course details will be released after the recon.......coming soon!
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
I only know that it is.
So we lost all of our ski-able snow and have reduced the once white covering of snow to a rock hard, slippery coating of grayish ice/crap that you can't really do much of anything with. It looks like that will be the state of affairs out on the trails for some time to come since the forecast temperatures are going to slip back into the freezing zone by the weeks end. Shoot! I was hoping the weather would stay warm enough, long enough to clear out a path through the woods. Hrrumph!
Then there is the gravel. Well, I'm glad to say that at least that has cleared off to the point we can ride it without fear of getting hurt by falling on slippery ice covered rock. So it looks as though we can roll that for the time being.
Then there is this phenomenon called "ice fog". Huh? When I first heard about this, I thought it was a joke. Yesterday I found out it was real. Real slippery, that is. Everything was coated in a fine layer of black ice. Great! My commute to work, while fall free, was about as tense a ride as you would have if you were threading a narrow section of single track with a 500 foot drop on either side of you. Well, except that the visual wasn't near as good!
Anyway, ice fog is something new to me. If you had said that when I was a kid, I woulda smacked you upside the noggin and said you were loony. No such thing. Never ever saw it in Iowa. How do I know? Well, for one thing, my Dad's 66 Dodge Coronet would never have been able to drive in ice fog conditions what with it's bias ply tires and pre-historic traction. We never saw such conditions back then. We always got around. Mud and snow tires saw to that. Chains if it was really bad. Ice fog woulda killed that car, and us with it.
Just goes to show ya. There's always something new 'round the next corner.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
<===Stainless steel goodness
I got a couple more bits in for the Badger build. I decided to go with a silver theme on the cable housings using some leftover Nokon housing for the shifters. I only had enough to take care of shifting duties though, so something else had to be used for the brakes.
I considered Nokons again.....for a nano-second! They are just sooo expensive and.....well, it takes two kits to do one disc brake bike. I could have held out and saved up for it, but I figured something a bit different would look just fine. I saw these Clark Clim8 cable systems in stainless steel and thought I'd give them a try. The braided stainless housing is almost white in appearance and it looks pretty cool on the bike so far. Stiffness of the casing looks good so I think the braking feel should be excellent. The price for a kit isn't bad but it still takes two kits to do one disc brake equipped bike. Manufacturers need to put longer housing runs in these kits for disc brake bikes. Buying two kits, while good for business, is bad for the consumer and it's kind of a waste. Although I'll find a use for the left over bits, I'm sure. On the plus side the ferrules are lightweight aluminum, well........it's a plus if you are a weight weenie! I'm not, so it is just a mildly amusing curiosity.
<===A new shade of cool
Silvery theme continues with these Origin 8 Gary Bars which originally came out in a shot peened black anodized finish. Now they are available in this bright, silver shot peened finish. Yeah, it isn't a high polish, but for a retail of $25.00, whaddya 'spect?
Funny thing is that I was all giddy about getting these for the Badger since it has a silver Thomson stem and seat post. Well, after some careful consideration I have decided on putting my black Origin 8 Gary Bar on the Badger after all. I think it looks better since I have some black anodized wheel components and crank set. It all kind of ties together better that way.
Oh well! The Gary Bars are cheap, as I said, and I'll find another use for it. In fact, it will probably end up on the Karate Monkey. (That's another whole project!) Now I am going to save up for my mechanical disc brakes. That'll be a bit down the road yet, but when I get those this Badger will be done quite soon after. It's the last piece o the puzzle.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Well, this article in Bicycling Retailer and Industry News caught my attention this morning. Sound familiar? It looks like a perfect "Tyranny of Choice" candidate to me. Too many models on sales floors that look similar and are spec'ed similarly just confuses customers. You end up with no choice made and a lost sale in many cases. This point was driven home for me several years ago.
I used to be a bench jeweler and jewelry salesman. (Yes.........really!) I was trained by an old sage jewelry salesman that told me to always continue to take away choices from a prospective client until only three choices remained. It was at three items, he reasoned, that people would be able to make a considered choice that they would be comfortable with. You may not agree with his theories, but I can tell you, it worked a trick every time.
I think this phenomenon also can extend to mountain bike wheel sizes. This "Tyranny of Choice" is why I believe things like 29"ers and especially 650B bikes will have harder times on sales floors alongside similar 26 inch steeds. Now it can easily be demonstrated how a 29"er is different than a 26"er. The looks and the ride of a 29"er distinguish themselves from 26"ers quite readily. This gives 29"ers some reason for being in the retail environment. 650B doesn't enjoy this marked difference or the ability to show it. A fine, subtle difference is certainly distinguishable to the seasoned rider, but new riders will be hard pressed to feel anything different from 26"ers on a bike ride back to back. (Yes, I have ridden all three wheel sizes and can attest to this)
My conclusion has always been that 29"ers have a "retail advantage" and it can be used to sell more product where the 650B does not hold this sort of quality and therefore will be a difficult choice for manufacturers and retailers to get behind. "Tyranny of Choice" in wheel sizes in the retail world can not be tolerated, and this for me is the biggest reason 650B will always be a very small niche market in the off road bike segment.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Planet Bikes Hires the Sun:Madison, Wisc.- January 3, 2008 - Planet Bike, a leading manufacturer of innovative, high quality, and practical bicycle accessories, is proud to announce the addition of a new member of the staff – and this is no ordinary employee. Each morning, he begins work at the crack of dawn and never takes a day off. And, during the height of the summer, he will put in 15 hour days.
Well, if you guessed the newest super employee is the Sun, then you guessed right. On January 3, Planet Bike’s newly commissioned 10 kilowatt solar power system began generating electric power atop the company’s headquarters in Madison, WI. Projections estimate that the 48 panel system will more than offset the company’s energy needs. In fact, Planet Bike plans to sell nearly 2/3 of the sustainable electric power back to the city’s power grid.
The photo voltaic power array on the roof of Planet Bike offices is the third largest of its kind in the Madison area and will help Planet Bike reduce its carbon emissions by 15 tons annually. According to Niels Wolter, the Solar Electric Program Manager at Focus on Energy, Planet Bike’s estimated annual output will be around 12,000 kWh per year.
As a proponent of the bicycle as a sustainable and carbon-light form of transportation, the company’s decision to go solar goes hand in hand with the company’s commitment to creating positive change for people, their communities, and the environment. Owner Bob Downs also feels that it is important to show other business leaders that conducting business in a sustainable way is not only the right thing to do but is, in fact, good for business.
Since its inception in 1996, Planet Bike has believed that the bicycle can improve our environment and our quality of life. Therefore, each year it has donated at least 25% of profits to causes that promote and facilitate the use of bicycles. Since its founding, Planet Bike will have donated more than $500,000 to the grassroots advocacy movement.
###(Thanks to Planet Bike for that press release. I thought it was pretty cool)###
Oh! Woe Is Me!: Mr. 24 is now a Colorado resident and is having a hard time with wind lately. Huh? I thought we had winds like that in Iowa all the time. (How soon one forgets) Then I see him saying he's been riding lots of gravel out there too. Looks like you can take the boy outta Iowa, but you can't take the Iowa outta the boy! What was that he used to tell us here? "The winds are our mountains", wasn't it? Well, he's still got wind for mountains it would seem, and he's also got......uhhh.......mountains! Sounds like paradise to me. I don't know what he's complaining about!
Speaking of Gravel..... I think it is high time to start grinding some, as in long rides. Now that the warmer air will have got rid of the icy coating, I think I should be safe from casing it miles away from home and not being able to get back. Also in gravel news is the upcoming plans to recon the T.I.V4 course. A report will happen once d.p. and I get the deed done. This is a sore spot with me, since I wanted this done earlier, but the weather started earlier than usual this year and ruined my plans. Oh well!
Friday, January 04, 2008
Then there are the Holidays which fell in the middle of the week. I'm not even sure what a "work week" is anymore. The coming week of work will seem like a marathon compared to the last few weeks. It's all good though. The "normal" routine will be good for a change and maybe I can get back to a normal rhythm of life once again. Don't get me wrong! I appreciated the recent time off, but there is a certain comfort in a daily routine too.
That said, I'll be changing up my routine just a bit, in hopes of getting into a bit better shape. I was a bit embarrassed last year on a few group outings and I want to race a few times this year too. I think I made it through the Holidays relatively okay, with the exception of my Moms traditional goodie platter she sends home with me. Gotta have the ginger bread cookies!
So, no New Years resolutions here, but just an effort to get into shape for some fun riding and a few races. I figure since I am on Team Twin Six and with the promised reappearance of Team Stoopid lingering on the horizon I might as well get cracking. Time for a one man team training camp! Nothing glamorous, just some long, slow gravel grinders to start out with.
Have a great weekend and ride if ya can!
Thursday, January 03, 2008
The thing is, "quiet" is the operative word now. Yep, that's right, I can't say a word specifically about any of it. I know, I know.......why did I even bring it up! Well, just to say that there will be several things on many fronts that will be revealed in the coming days.
Some of these "things" are professionally related, some of these "things" are personally related, and some of these things are tied together both professionally and personally. I can't wait to reveal them to all of you, but I can't yet. I have to be "quiet". Ahhh..........patience! They say it is a virtue!
One thing I can talk about is the recent press release concerning Fox Shox and their "no-no" to mountain bike's experimentalists out there. Especially concerning the 650B and 29"er DH freaks out there. On one hand, it can be seen as a legalistic maneuver to head off any possible litigious activities stemming from the (mis) use of their products by the aforementioned tinkerers. On the other hand, it looks like an opportunity for making some money is being missed here. I would think that a small tweak to a production run of F-100's would solve the problem for the "B" freaks. The DH guys? well, there are too few of them to mess with. They are still out on their own on that front, I'm afraid. However you see it, it is an interesting development, and it certainly doesn't help the "Pacenti-ists" out there looking to extend the kingdom.
My take on it is that there are guys doing this and they know up front it is un-approved territory. I think the Fox lawyers were just looking for a reason to be and found this to crow about. Not that it is a dumb idea on their part, but hey! What mountain bike part doesn't get experimented with, ya know? It all seems a bit strange, doesn't it?
Oh well, at least life in Big Wheeled Land isn't boring right now. That's a good thing! You'll see!
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
<===Chris King hubs. King Cycle Group stuff figures prominently in the build.
So the weather man was right and the temps were in the single digits with a howling Northwest wind putting the windchill way below zero. Nope! I wasn't going to go riding and risk dragging myself into another New Years Day sickness like last year. (Although I heard some local 29"er freak did actually ride yesterday)
<===See, I told ya so! A King head set over a sterling silver Jen Green "head badger".
I opted for spending one last day off with my family and puttering around The Lab tinkering with the components for the Badger off and on during the day.
<===Campy bar end shifters. Yes, friction only! These have seen duty on thousands of road miles on board an old mountain bike converted to touring use.
Some of the older components were in need of some serious "TLC". I took my time getting them functional, but not spit polishing them since this is a mountain bike/gravel grinder after all.
<===Mr. 24 is responsible for downloading these cable housings to me. Thanks Buddy!
I figure the patina gives the bike an automatic license to be used as intended instead of feeling the guilt of getting stuff trashed that I just put a lot of elbow grease into getting it all "purty" and such.
<===For Bobby at Salsa- Purple anodized Avid Rolla-ma-jig, original version, on a mid nineties XT derailleur.
I'm using some stuff I know will work and a couple of items that are purple, well.........because they are purple! I love the color and after seeing my old Curve titanium purple ano skewers on this rig, I thought a little bit here and there would be kind of cool. FYI: The rear derailleur also sports some blue anodized "Shift Biscuits". Anybody remember those? Yeah, I raided the old parts stash again. Thing is, I'm plumbing the depths of what there is left. I doubt I'll ever be trotting out anymore old 90's stuff anymore since I'll be using almost all that is left on this project.
Looking at acquiring some brakes in the near future and then some silver braided Jagwire brake housing to finish it off with. Maybe in the meantime I can score that silver Origin 8 Gary Bar too. That would be super cool.
Well, that's what I did on a cold, cold January 1st. I'll post another update on the Badger when I get some more stuff installed.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Yesterday I took the kids sledding. Man! The snow was so fast! Packed down and shiny like glass. I didn't have a sliding device of my own, but I commandeered one of the kids saucers and went down twice. Actually caught some air! It doesn't look as though the snow will be good for this kind of stuff much longer though, or that it will even be around. It appears as though an early January thaw is going to be upon us by the weekend. I hope the trails get cleared out, but that is a lot to hope for! At least the gravel roads should clear out enough to make for some good long training rides.
Oh yeah, the bike I was working on last night? The Badger. I figured out a gearing system for it. I used some really old stuff, some used stuff, stuff downloaded from a friend, and I'll be using something coming to me third hand on a brand new piece of equipment. Sound mixed up? Well, let's just say it will certainly be interesting, and I'll probably be accused of being a retro-grouch! I will tell you that it will be a 2 X 9 set up with a 12-34 cassette and a 32 X 42 front chain ring set up. The crank I got a hold of dictated the 2 X 9, which I was strongly leaning towards anyway, and I never really use the granny gear. Almost never. So a 2 X 9 should be just fine for me.
I'm kind of excited about the new silver option on the Origin 8 Gary Bar. It will work out perfectly with the silver Thomson stem I have on the Badger already. I have to see when that becomes available. For now I have the black Gary Bar on there, so at least I can continue on with the project. Next up for acquisition, the brakes!