Saturday, May 31, 2008

Salsa Cycles' New Look

<====Salsa Cycles jersey. Me likey!

I was made aware of a jersey that would be coming my way recently and today it finally arrived!

Typically Salsa Cycles jerseys are really wild and are some of the easiest to spot out there. That's not necessarily a "bad" thing, and in fact, I love that old Pepperman playing the Strat jersey from a few years ago. (Of course I would!) But this was maybe a bit surprising to me. An understated, classy Salsa Cycles jersey? Not since the ol' woolie jersey has anything come out of Minneapolis with this much class and restraint.

<===The PepperWorld logo says it all!

Yep, what can be more classy than a subtly decorated black jersey? (Unless it was wool, of course!) I gotta say, if Salsa is going down this path graphically with other product, I won't be disappointed.

Not that the other stuff isn't cool. I mean, the orange Dos Niner and the Mamasita are hot numbers, and Salsa should maybe retain some of that, but mixing this stuff in is also way cool.

In other goings on, I went to Parkersburg yesterday to help lend a hand with the disaster cleanup. Mrs. Guitar Ted did the kitchen duty at the AmVets hall where they fed 1500 people yesterday for dinner alone! I hauled debris out of a few folks yards to the curbside, along with several hundred other volunteers, where it will be hauled away soon. The clean up necessary is massive! In the area I worked there was not one square centimeter of ground that wasn't covered in layers of debris. Tiny bits of glass and nails all the way up to slabs of roof, walls, and broken tree branches mixed in with wire, insulation, and whatever. It's absolutely stunning what a tornado of this magnitude is capable of.

The stories were unbelievable! People trapped under debris being saved by other townspeople, flying dogs, cats, and cows, deer stampedes, and other just crazy stuff. I mean, you can't believe it unless you have seen the people tell the stories that saw it first hand. Then there was the frustrations with FEMA, the Red Cross, and the National Guard. Unbelievable red tape and fear of litigation literally kept help from entering the town for two days, and then these organizations hands were tied in other ways. I watched Red Cross people sitting in their cars and watching as hundreds of volunteers from church organizations and concerned individuals were sweating and laboring with all the necessary work that needed to be done. Incredible!

Well, that's going to be going on for several weeks and months ahead, but I can say that we Iowans are a pretty resourceful and resilient folk. I was proud to be a part of that.

Anyway, that was my Friday and now I'm beat and itchy from fiberglass! Maybe I'll pedal around a bit tomorrow or later tonight. We'll see. I can't wait to fly that new Salsa jersey though!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday News And Views

I got up late today since I had the day off. So sue me if this is late! ha ha! Here's some bits to think about rolling into the weekend.....

Good Luck Dirty Kanza 200 Racers!: I wish you all the very best ride and great times. Wish I was there, but I have something else lined up now, so it's not like I will be just sitting around. Looking forward to the race reports afterward.

Tornado Clean Up: Today I'll be in Parkersburg, Iowa. That's where about half the town got leveled last Sunday and they need help cleaning up. I'm going to pitch in with my local church which has been called up by the local Red Cross.

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo Update: We got confirmation that Titus Cycles will be at the Ballyhoo with their demo trailer. Also, The Prairie Peddler, operated by Marty Larson will have a few Jamis models for demo too. On camping: I am pretty sure we have the same set up as last year with the big grassy area near the river being available for free camping.

Rain Rain- Just stop it! Too much wet weather recently will be putting a damper on my off road riding. I'll probably have to stick to a diet of gravel for this weekend. I've got a Spinner "2 Nine" fork to try out, but I'm afraid most of the dirt patches will be mostly mud around here. Or under water! It's okay, because next Wednesday, the 4th, I'm going to Decorah to ride and check on some Ballyhoo stuff. I'm sure the trails will be okay up there.

Get out and ride a bike this weekend!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Road Less Traveled

I have been working on an old road bike lately in the Lab. It was my first real road bike actually, and I am trading it out for a nice '07 Salsa El Mariachi in Superior blue that used to belong to Captain Bob. (Hang in there buddy! It's coming!) Anyway, this got me to thinking.......

I can't quite recall when my last road bike ride was. I think it was in the spring of 2007, but it might have been 2006. Hmm..........anyway, the thing is, I haven't ridden a skinny tired bike in awhile now. Probably won't either. Not that I don't like them, I just am not motivated that way. In fact, I've "culled the herd" of road bikes down to one. Yep! Even that one may go out the door to the right person, we'll see.

I did think about getting a road bike, actually just the other day I did that. I wouldn't get anything that resembles todays roadie rigs though. No way! I'd probably have to search around for just the right rig, or I could just buy a Salsa Casseroll. Looking at that rig, it has just about everything I'd ever want in a roadie rig. Steel for sure. Big tire compatible. (I can't see myself ever riding 23mm tires again......ever!) Gotta have fenders? A rack? No problema! All day riding comfort in the geometry. Gotta love it.

The thing I always didn't feel right about riding my old road bikes was that I couldn't go certain places with it. Like gravel roads. You know, when your blacktop suddenly leaves you stranded for chunky limestone? I know, I know........some of you ride road bikes on gravel. Don't even start with me on that. Every single time I try it, I flat. No fun! Give me a 32mm tire and I don't even have to think twice about gravel, and road speeds are still right where I want them. Hey! You won't ever find me at a criterium on the start line, so why should I need a skinny tired racer boy rig?

Anyway, if I ever make good on that idea, I don't want to be limited to blacktop. I want freedom to roll my roadie where I want to go, and something like the Casseroll is right up my alley. Until then, I don't mind a bit if I don't ever have another road bike.

But that's just me!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday News and Views

With nothing really sticking in my craw of late, I will offer up these random bits for you all to check out.

Ouch!: Legs were super fatigued yesterday and I took the day off the bike. I will be spinning them out on the way to and from work today and aiming for another long day in the saddle this coming weekend, given that the weather isn't too bad.

Ouch #2: I see that the Giro went up a mountain in a time trial the other day. Well, it seems that some of those roads were "steratto", or gravel, with pitches of up to 24% as I understand it. Some of the riders were complaining about it being too tough after all the severity of the stages leading up to the mountain time trial. Guess they wouldn't like Trans Iowa too much then, eh? Might I suggest that they try a bit different type of bike next go 'round, (if there is one). Even Coppi and Bartoli knew enough not to ride a skinny tired TT rig up a steep gravel road!

Ouch #3: Think winter had it's icy claws into us far too long? Well, how about the Iron Horse Classic having to cancel it's event for the first time in 37 years due to a foot of snow measured at the finish line in Silverton, Colorado and daytime high temperatures forecast to only reach the upper 30's along the route. This happened just this past weekend! At least we had a glimpse of summer here, although yesterday had the distinct feeling of Fall in the air. Weird weather, I tell ya!

Ouch #4: Recently you may have heard the news that Dorel Industries purchased Cannondale Bicycles. A big dust up occurred over the thought that Cannondale was going to be reduced to a "department store brand" and other non-sensical hi-jinx mostly stirred up by a company that features a big red S in their logo. Well, at a recent stockholders meeting, company president and CEO, Martin Schwartz told the gathered crowd that Dorel intends to "...become the world's #1 IBD player." Hrummph! Another company looking for world domination? That sounds pretty crazy, like we should be calling The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or something. Anyway, the Dorel Corporation is into housing furnishings, which you can imagine is not a great market right about now. so they are throwing a lot of their 2 billion dollar a year might into this bicycle thing. Expect to see some "acquisitions" and other power moves from this Canadian giant soon!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Tough Decision

Yesterday I went out for a ride on the Dirty Kanza machine to get some miles in and see if all was ready, including me. (Sorry, no pics. Forgot the camera!) As regular readers of this blog know, I have been hard pressed to get in any riding for this event this year.

The day started out almost perfect. Hot, a bit humid, sunny, and temperatures into the low 80's. I decided to tackle the southern routes, since going north was out of the question with the recent storm damage. After tweaking a couple of things in route out of town, I was off.

Things were going all right. I didn't feel quite right though, a sensation that was niggling in the back of my mind. Not sure what it was, but I kept riding. Generally I go through a period where I feel sort of out of it before I break a sweat. Then everything is usually fine and I can ride without a problem. I went through that, just like I usually do, but I still didn't quite feel right.

Speeds were good though, so I pushed on into Tama County. I noticed a bit of Northwest wind. "Hmm.....could be trouble later coming home.", I thought. How prophetic that turned out to be! But that comes a bit later.

I slogged up a couple hills that usually get to me anyway, nothing abnormal yet. Speeds were still there, but I started feeling fatigue in the legs at this point. Thinking I just needed to eat more, I snarfed down another nutrition bar and kept going. It helped a little bit. I made the turn into Traer going west and felt the wind. Yeah, it was coming up for sure. Not a good sign for going back the other way.

I stopped into the convenience store for food and water refills. Got going again fairly quickly. I decided to take Ridge Road Northwesterly out of Traer. It was getting quite windy now, and I was headed right into it. I suffered up a few of the initial climbs and made my way to the intersection just before the water tower. There I stopped to take stock of what to do. I looked at the time for the first time on the ride. I was concerned. It was almost three o'clock and I'd been out for four hours. Speeds were down. I needed to head home on the most direct route. So, North it was, with a jog East here and there.

The wind was really blowing now to the point that my bike was getting knocked off line in the gusts. Fighting with that, poor legs, and that uncomfortable feeling in my head was really starting to take a toll. Pretty soon, I could feel the legs going away. Nothing for the uphills anymore. I ended up walking a fair bit off and on during my trek northward. My heart rate was elevated and I was out of breath at each stop. Still in Tama County too. It was a long way from home and I was really hurting.

So it was on a lonely stretch of gravel in Tama County that I decided that Dirty Kanza wasn't going to happen for me this year. I just am not ready. That is the biggest reason, and the only one that I'll share here, but there are other factors that have been piling up in the last week that made the decision a lot easier. In fact, you could say that I'm almost happy I'm not going now. It just wasn't meant to be.

That was all well and fine, but I still had to get home! So, off I would go, stopping every so often to walk out the legs until I finally made it to Hudson and another convenience store. I refueled there and got going again. On totally flat bike trail now, I was able to keep spinning. The wind was pretty bad at this point though, so it was all pedalling, no coasting. I actually started to feel a bit more snap in the legs before I got home and even sped up in the last miles. Maybe that was just getting close to home though. A mental boost for sure.

When I got home I saw I had been gone for seven hours and I figured later that I had done maybe a hair less than 70 miles. Not even good enough to make the first Dirty Kanza checkpoint. Decision sealed. I can't justify showing up unprepared. I will just use this to build off of and shoot for July. Right now, my attentions will be refocused on The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo and on product testing for Twenty Nine Inches and The Bike Lab. I'll get my longer rides in too. I'll be in better shape later than I wanted to be, but I'll get there.

That's the tough part about having two jobs, poor weather in the early season, and events to put on. It doesn't leave room for fudging things. I can't change that part. All I can say is, I'm moving forward from here.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Part Of The Deal For Living Here

<===This was my home town forty years ago. Those empty lots were filled with homes and businesses just hours before this photo was taken.

Tornadoes. You live with the possibility that you will be touched by one of these storms every year you live in the mid-section of the U.S.

They say your chances of getting a direct hit by a tornado are one in three hundred thousand during any ones lifetime. Well, if you live here in the Mid-West, your chances of getting a near miss, getting a friend or family member injured by one, or just getting some damage is almost a sure thing. This year seems especially bad.

<==== The aftermath in Parkersburg yesterday. Look beyond the car wreckage and you will see where businesses and homes once stood just hours before this photo.

Forty years have passed since I was in one of these monsters and I have been very near several others since. Technology for weather prediction has changed, the world situations, and culture have changed since then, but one thing remains the same.

Tornado's are still as vicious, unpredictable, and deadly as ever.

We were spared here in my city as the damaging storms went just north of here, but Parkersburg, New Hartford, and many of the places in this storms path were devastated. These towns and places are well known to area cyclists from our training routes and mountain biking. I think I can speak for all of the local cycling community in saying that our hearts and prayers are with all those touched by this killer tornado.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday News And Views

<=== Here's to the fantastic weather we've been having of late. Can it last?

I have to say that this last week of commuting has been some of the nicest weather and most relaxing fun I have had in a long time. A long, long time!

Somebody was telling us just the other day that the temperatures at night never got above 32 degrees for six months. Something about the daytime highs that I can't remember, but suffice it to say that weather has been an issue for far too long now. I am just relieved to be able to ride in pleasant weather!

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo Update: This is a regularly scheduled feature for awhile now. First of all, it will be a pretty cool deal again this year as we have some quality vendors showing up that will be offering demo rides. Companies like Niner Bikes, Salsa Cycles, Origin 8, and Gary Fisher Bikes. But the really cool things will be all the folks riding and all the stellar trails to ride on. The Decorah Human Powered Trails group is currently grooming trails for this event and I will personally be overseeing some of the preparations in the next couple of weeks. Make sure you attend if you are in the area because there will be some surprises. You will be the first in the nation to see some pretty cool stuff, guaranteed!

Dirty Kanza 200 Prep: Setting up a tubeless wheelset special for the event right now. I'm about a third of the way into it now. (Things take longer when you have two jobs and a family!) I also have a long training ride and some regular mountain biking fun mixed in to cap off my major preparations. (Meager at best!) Then it is a few days of commuting and off to Kansas! We'll see how it all shakes out in about a week or so. Oh yeah, audio-blogging will be happening, so stay tuned for that.

Regular Test Rides Schedule: Starting in June my "other job" will be requiring me to take Wednesdays off throughout the summer for testing of product. Look for ride updates from some of my favorite riding spots throughout the summer months. (Well, that is if gas prices don't put the clamp down on that)

Okay, it's the first big summer holiday, (seems weird to say that with the weather we've had!) get out and ride!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

So, What Are You Gonna Do?

Wow! I read the headlines today and saw the price of a barrel of oil. Nuts! I'm sure gas prices are going to be well above $4.00 a gallon for most of the summer. So, that begs a question: "What are you going to do?"

As a cyclist, I know I'm going to keep on pedaling. Going to work on a bike- no brainer! Now though, I think there will be even more trips by bicycle. Little errands, maybe even doing some shopping by bicycle. I'll definitely be using my bikes more and more. I can't afford to dump that kind of money into my car all the time. It's obscene, and I want to do something about it.

Then there are other considerations. Things like riding to the Camp trails for mountain biking. Yeah, it's 12 miles each way, but if I have the time, I'm going to ride, or choose a trail right here in town.

What about racing? I mean, event fees are pretty tough already, but if you add on travel expenses, well it gets to a point where you can hardly afford to go. I am going to the Dirty Kanza 200 in a week and that gas bill will be pretty steep. I will be taking stock after that as to what it costs to do things like that for sure. Then again, how can you just stay at home all summer? Tough decisions!

Added to that I just got my utilities bill. Holy cow! This winter is going to really suck at this rate! Anyway.......... Not to be a downer, but this is getting crazy and I don't see any signs of change around here yet. People are still flying down the road in huge SUV's and driving like mad men. I'm quite sure prices won't go down as long as the majority shows it isn't going to affect their buying habits. I just know that it affects me, and I'm going to ride more and drive even less than I already do.

To me, it's the only thing that makes sense concerning oil prices. See ya out there on my bike!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What It Is

Just a short post today about something I think about from time to time. Something that keeps me motivated some days. It gives me hope for mankind. Really........I'm not kidding.

It's the reason I do things like Trans Iowa, the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, and The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. If it weren't for this, those rides and events would never have happened. In fact, I may not even be a cyclist at all if it were not for this one important factor.

That would be all the cool people into cycling.

Here's a post to say, "Thank you!"

I just thought about it almost right after waking up today, "What a cool bunch of folks that are into bicycles. " Of course, there are the fools, charlatans, and downright bad folks that ride bikes too. You always have that in anything involving humans, but on the whole I've found that cycling has a fair amount of pretty stellar souls populating it's ranks.

So, anyway, I'm glad to just be a small part of this and I wouldn't change a thing about my experiences so far. I look forward to adding to those experiences in the future. Thanks again, and have a great ride wherever you are riding.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Skinned Knuckles

<===The Space Bar. Upside down or right side up, it's a winner!

I spent some time down in "the lab" tinkering with the Pofahl last night. I made a few changes that should really make a big difference to the positive side.

All along I and Ben Witt felt that the Pofahl needed a custom bar that was a take-off of the old "bull moose" style bars popular on mtb's from the early to mid eighties. There was a plan in place to make that happen last year, but the builder that was contacted about the project never delivered and I went forward with the drop bar idea that I originally set up the bike with.

Well, the Gary Bar is a great bar, but the Pofahl wasn't really built with one in mind. The position was okay, but "okay" isn't going to cut the mustard for 200 gravely miles in Kansas. this point was driven home to me on my training ride Sunday. So, off came the Gary Bar to be replaced by the Space Bar. The Space Bar has a 25.4mm clamp diameter and takes mtb controls, which is what makes it attractive on this project, since I can run my beloved Ergon grips. They work really well with the highly swept Space Bar and are super comfy on long rides.

Okay- So far, so good. Now I had to re-configure the other necessities for this ride. The Minoura BH-60 clamp on cage holders and SG-200 "Swing Grip" for the water bottles and lights to be mounted to. The Space Bar worked well with the bottle mounts, but the Swing Grip was a challenge. With all the angles to the Space Bar, the Swing Grip was looking to be a crooked, goofy add on. Fortunately the Swing Grip comes with a long enough band clamp that it can go around my stubby Salsa Moto Ace stem and be centrally mounted to not only look good, but get my Blackburn Voyager 4.0 pointed in the right direction. Once everything was mounted up, I re-attached the brakes to my Avid SD-1 levers and futzed with the brake adjustments.

I found out that my rear disc pad was dragging on my rotor. No wonder the bike felt dead coasting! I thought it was the wind, but after the brake adjustments, I went out for a quick round the block and the bike was fantastic. It rolled like it hadn't in awhile. No doubt, that brake had been rubbing for awhile without making any noises to alert me to the problem. The rest of the set up was waaaay better than before. Everything clicked and I was super stoked. I wanted to head out on a long ride right then and there, but I do need my beauty sleep, so I decided against that!

The conclusion: The Pofahl isn't a drop bar bike, wasn't ever really designed to be one, and is far better with the upside down Space Bar and current set up than it was before. I can't wait to ride it on a long gravel grinder soon!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Against The Wind

<====Twas a stiff wind today that met my face!

Well, I finally logged a somewhat long ride today. Not what I would have wanted to by past years standards, but it will have to do. This year, with the weather we've had and the month of April being what it is now for me, the training has been woefully missing. I am afraid it shows too!

Of course, there were some contributing factors, so I am not going to be too hard on myself. I did find out some good things, so I am at a place of being torn between being happy and being down in the dumps a bit.

<===So, this winter wasn't so hot for your plans either, eh?

The good things are really encouraging and some other things can be fixed. My fitness level? Ehh.........let's just say the suffering meter will get pegged in two weeks. I am going in with that firmly established!

The good things include the switch to a Bontrager Inform RL saddle. I think that when I get into even longer rides, it will shine even more as a great choice, but as for now, I can confidently say that it works a charm for me. The sizing thing, with the Bontrager Fit System is really a big difference maker. I had no idea I needed a saddle that wide, but now I can't even ride my narrow saddles! That Bontrager saddle has spoilt me already!

<===The gravel is loose and chunky. Add a really stiff wind and the pain cave opens wide to greet you!

I have a couple issues with the bike that need looking into. A serious creak from the ol' Syncros 26.8mm post, too low a handle bar, and a loose bearing in the rear hub. Manageable, yes. But if any one of these issues gets beyond "easy fix status" then I'll have to bail out on the bike and go to "Plan B". (There is a "Plan C" waiting in the wings if that doesn't work out!)

The thing is, time is running out, and I am a busy, busy guy, what with Big Wheeled Ballyhoo stuff coming up too.

<===One of several tractors in the field today. That's Hudson's water tower in the distance there for you locals.

Well, whatever happens, I am just going to have fun. Maybe all this stuff coming up will just flop and ya know what? I don't have any fear about it. I'll just do what I can do and have some fun doing it. There's always another bike ride just around the corner. Another trail to explore. Another chance to have some fun with like minded riders riding bikes.

Whether it is with or against the wind, it is all just about riding my bicycle. I hope you all got the joy of riding your bike, whatever it is, this past weekend. If you didn't, then get out there as soon as you can!

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo 2008

<===Get Your Big Wheeled Freak On June 21st and 22nd!

Well, it's going to be here soon. The 2008 version of the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo.
Plans are starting to come into fruition for this little celebration of 29"ers on Decorah, Iowa's great trails. There will be demo rides again and we'll be seeing some really cool things from Salsa, Niner, Fisher, and more.

There will be activities throughout the day on Saturday, a get together at a local watering hole on Saturday night, more stuff on Sunday including a raffle, and other hijinx.

Camping will be available onsite right within walking distance of downtown Decorah and the trails.

Look for this poster to start popping up here and there too to remind you.

<===Tri state distributed, the "inspire(d)" will be featuring a back cover ad for the Ballyhoo. Look for this free edition in the upper Mid-West soon!

Okay, so the really big deal about The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo is just getting together to ride trails on the excellent system up in Decorah and to have a bunch-o-fun. Bring your own mountain bike, little or big wheeled, and check out some shiny new steeds along with all the other trail rats and fun hogs around the Mid West and beyond.

You can camp right by the Upper Iowa River, hob-nob with your buddies in a cool little Iowa town and generally spend a weekend having a ball with your bicycle. Decorah also has some most excellent gravel road riding and road riding too. Even a municipal bike path that runs right through the Ballyhoo's exhibit area and campground.

I hope you'll come and have fun. I know I will!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Snappy Cap: A Fine New Lid!

<===="We're on a mission from God"
Wow! That's my first reaction to my new Snappy Cap. This thing rocks!
Let me just say for the record that other cycling caps out there are really cool too, but I'm telling ya, the custom fit aspect here is what sets Snappy Caps off from the reat of the competitors.
That's what I was attracted to here mainly, as I stated in my earlier post. However, that isn't all there is to Snappy Caps. Of course there is the totally unique look, which I happen to like alot. There also is the construction of the cap. It isn't the usual three panel hat. The Snappy Cap has eight panels plus the bill, which is a heck of a lot more sewing, for one thing. The other thing is, it fits in a totally different way than any other cycling hat I've tried on. Actually, when I envisioned what I thought would make a great hat for myself, this is how I thought it should be done.
The bill is not too stiff, nor lifeless, and true to company name, it "snaps" up rather smartly without digging into your forehead. Nice touch there.
My Snappy Cap was a "Custom" made to measure option and cost $35.00 plus shipping. For that money you get some lattitude in choosing your look as well. "Standard" Snappy Caps come in at $30.00 plus shipping. There are usually some standard, (calling them "standard" is sooo understated. They are anything but that) choices in stock at the online store, so go take a look.
GTDRI Note: Just to let you all know, the site has been updated and you can go there for updates. I'll alert you all here too when news has appeared there. My next step is to drive the course, so I'll report back when I have accomplished that feat.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Grey Matter

<===Titanium Inbred 29"er prototype. Coming soon to a trail near you.

I spend a lot of time scouring the inner-web-o-sphere for all the latest in 29"er stuff, so I've been noticing a marked uptick in titanium offerings. In some ways, I find it rather odd.

First off, these rigs all seem to be appearing at a time when the economy would seem to indicate that it's not the right time. You probably realize that titanium is a spendy frame material, (the Inbred here is rumored to be coming in at $1850.00 just for what you see there) With costs of living on the rise, a titanium frame introduction seems a bit more iffy right about now. Yet that doesn't seem to be stemming the flow of new frame offerings in the grayish metal one bit. I can think of at least four companies right off the top of my head......whoops! Make that five! ,......that have introduced, or announced plans for a new titanium frame in the last six months.

Then there is the "green" factor, which I haven't seen brought up in regards to titanium. With all of today's concerns about the environment, I am reminded of how enviromentally unfriendly refining titanium is. Titanium doesn't exist in nature as an element on it's own. It is intermingled with other elements that have to be refined out of the titanium using vast amounts of energy and some pretty nasty chemicals. Not the sort of backround any "greenies" would be proud of, I would think. But to be fair, steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber are no real gems in that regard either. Perhaps Calfee has it right and we should all be riding bamboo rigs, eh?

There are those, who over the course of the years, have touted certain "benefits" of titanium that I find amusing too. Like it's resistance to corrosion. Okay, fine. It resists corrosion. But how many of you out there have ridden the same steel bike that has rusted out from underneath you? Not many, I'm sure. Then you have to wonder, what about aluminum? Yeah, yeah....fatigue life, blah blah..... Again, I don't see mass evidence of aluminum frames breaking that would scare me into buying a titanium frame. At least not to the degree that it would overcome the cost barrier. Then you have the "it's the last frame you'll ever buy" arguement. Yeah...........right! Bikes are like Pringles, you can't just buy one!

Well, however it may be, we are going to be seeing a lot of new titanium bikes rolling out soon. And to be perfectly honest, some of them are just plain hot! I love the looks of some of these new rigs, and titanium is a great riding material. If you ever get a chance to ride one of the gray metal steeds, do it. You'll be amazed. Would I own one? You bet! And it may be sooner than later!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational 2008

The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational 2008

What: A long gravel road group ride for fun. Nobody gets left behind.

Who: For anyone that loves to ride gravel, loves a challenge, and likes to have fun.

Where: In and around the North East Iowa communities of West Union, Strawberry Point, Elkader, and Elgin Iowa, with a few smaller burgs thrown in.

When: Saturday, July 19th, 2008 We'll probably start sometime early morning, just after sunup till sundown or just after, who knows?!!

The Commentary: The GTDRI is nothing to fear, it's just a fun, yet challenging ride that anybody can come and try. The approximate distance of this years trek will be about 115 miles. Here's a look at the proposed route: You can expect lots of hills! I figured this route on another program that indicates total climbing and it shows around 6,000 plus feet overall. That's only a guesstimate though. The point is, there will be lots and lots of hills. Part of the course will take in sections of the T.I.V4 route, (including the dreaded Dove Road section) and some of it will be totally new course. Keep in mind that I have used parts of former GTDRI courses on Trans Iowa routes. (hint-hint!)

Typical modus operandi is as follows: Get up at dark-thirty, gather for a pre-event breakfast, or not. (More on that in a minute) Get riding by first light. Take an easy pace, yet keep moving as much as possible. There will be breaks to keep the group together. Stop somewhere for lunch. Continue onwards until the finish. Maybe a group supper, maybe everyone will go home, and maybe everyone will just want a cold beer! Who knows? Find out and join the fun.

Things to seriously consider: While GTDRI is a group ride that "leaves no one behind", you are still responsible for you! It is a self supported ride, so be aware that none of us are going to bail you out in the boonies. Ya gotta ride out yerself, or have a "Plan B" for getting picked up if you can't make it. Bring plenty of water, energy food, anti-cramp remedies, whiskey, or silver bullets to bite on in case of pain! Bring money, you'll need it! A cell phone wouldn't hurt either. There will be cue sheets, so if you fall off the back, or feel adventurous and racy, you can self navigate it, but most prefer the group mentality and follow the leaders.

You had better be in some semblance of riding condition since this course will be brutal. We've been known to slog it through storms, heat, and wind. We've also finished well after dark before too, so think about bringing a light. Oh! Yeah.......there will be B roads too!

Time for a Survey! This is where I'm going to ask you to comment using the comment link at the top of this post. I am considering where to start along the loop. There are two choices. Each choice has motel accomodations or camping options nearby in State Parks equipped with all the facilities. The difference being that one option has a great breakfast joint, the other......ah.......not-so-much! The decision will be left in your hands. Wanna eat before the ride with all the crazies on board for GTDRI? Then Option #1: Strawberry Point is your choice. Don't really care about getting together for a pre-event breakfast because you would rather just get on with the ride? Then Option #2: West Union is your choice. Please indicate whether you want Option #1 or Option #2 by commenting. I'll go with the majority.

Hopefully I can get a new, updated look on the GTDRI site soon and I'll strt posting news there. Stay tuned and I hope to see you on the GTDRI this coming July! Note: New site graphics by Mr. 24 are up! Check it out on the link ^ ^ ^

Not Interested? Well, for those of you that can not come to GTDRI or are just not interested, here's a bit about 29"ers that I did from Sea Otter that was posted by Rich Kelly of Interbike Times. Not often that I do interviews, so this is a rare look at Guitar Ted in action. Enjoy! (Note: Rich got the title a bit wrong- "Gutar Ted on What's New in 29'ers". That'd be an awfully big wheel!)

Thanks to Rich Kelly for taking the time to interview me and post this.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mud, Damage, and Flower Power

<===Hi Fi Deluxe in the fast growing jungle.

This weekend was going to be a tough one to squeeze a ride in because of Mrs. Guitar Ted's being on call at the hospital and Mother's Day. I figured I was pretty blessed to get an hour and a half of mountain biking in, ya know?

Anyway, it rained here again overnight on Saturday, so the trails were slop in more places than last week. Soupy sections were everywhere and after riding through, I examined them and I couldn't even tell I'd been through some of them. The slop just re-formed into one contiguous mass again after my passing. Weird! While it's not cool to do trail damage, this trail can't really be damaged in spots by riding it wet. It's kind of the nature of a riverside trail in these parts. That's not to say that the trails there can't be damaged though. There were parts I refused to ride because of this.

One newer "development" I hadn't been aware of is a new housing section at the "back end" of Ulrich (locals will know this park) that you will find if you cross over the creek and ride that little section. At the outermost curve of that trail there is signage for "Private Property". Umm......okay, you signed a ten foot section of trail that is overgrown with trees and underbrush. I suppose it's okay and the "right thing" not to encroach on someone's property, so I rode back thinking maybe I ought to re-route that section.

Well, with development comes other problems. Like kids on ATV's. Yeah, I found a section in the park proper where there had been ATV's ridden straight up the fall line from the creek to the main hiking trail and, I suppose, out onto the park road. (Although the ground is so firm on the hiking trail you can't see evidence of the ATV's passing) So, this sweet little downhill section that had never eroded before is now getting ravaged by the recent rains. The underbrush has actually been cut back widening the trail by about three feet. The section where the singletrack used to curve away from the hiking trail has been blocked off and a new cut through to the hiking trail has been made there. Nice! Now I don't feel quite so bad about riding ten feet of private property on singletrack leaving no evidence but the footprints of my Conti Mountain Kings.

Anyway, it chaps my hide even more because I'm the guy that put that trail in there in the first place. (With the help of Mr. 24, oddly enough)

<===At least I found some new flowers to help forget the scars.

I continued on my ride, with a couple grinds up to the county blacktop and back for some extended climbing action, and found some new flowers blooming in the underbrush. I figured I'd bag as many flower shots as I can this year and see what I get. The flowers are just getting going out there, so not much to find yet. The Bluebells were on last weekend, but are already going away. Now it's these little yellow guys turn. They looked like stars in the underbrush as I wheeled on by.

Tomorrow I'm making an announcement on the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational so stay tuned!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Put A Helmet On It Soldier!

<===Handmade from Lincoln, NE with love...
I haven't even gotten this yet, but I'm excited. It's a long story, and I'll spare the details. I'll just say that when you have a large melon like I do, getting something to adorn it is a challenge.
That's where Snappy Caps comes in. I sent off an e-mail recently to Susan, the Snappy Caps seamtress, and told her about my dilemma. She responded that she could indeed accomodate me and make a custom cap to fit.
Okay, I got excited. I gave her some measurements, the green light, and now this gem is about to be delivered into my grubby little hands. This is going to be cool.
I'll be posting some shots soon as I get it. Thanks to Snappy Caps for the speedy and special service!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday News And Views

<===New BBB brand grips and bar ends. Rather "Ergon-like" (photo: Captain Bob)

New Product News: Captain Bob and I are going to be testing some BBB products on our rigs this summer. BBB is a very well known cycling components company in Europe. One of the first things we'll be checking out are these ergonomic grips and integrated bar ends. I'll be posting our thoughts here and in more detail on The Bike Lab. We also have some ceramic bearing derailluer jockey wheels and a trail bell to check out which I will post about later.

Will It Rain? : The forecast for our local area isn't looking the greatest. I am still hoping to get out to test a few things here later in the weekend and perhaps do a night run on the Dirty Kanza set up to test lights and how they will function for navigation needs. Otherwise I'll be futzing down in "the lab" with my bikes since Mrs. Guitar Ted is on call this weekend!

Secret Project Revisted: Hadn't ridden the Badger in a while, so I pulled it out and did my commute to work on it yesterday. It was one of the two Secret Project Bikes from last year. (the other was the Pofahl SS) Man! Having your measurements taken and having a good builder construct a frame using those measurements can not be over rated! I get on that Badger and it's as if I have been on that bike all my life. Super comfortable. If you can find the money and a reputable builder, I'd say go for it. The fit is well worth it, especially if you've always had trouble with "stock" frames. (I'm kind of a "tweener" size-wise)

Get out and ride this weekend!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wrenching, Prepping, and Other Goings On

<====My ride with Matt Gersib earlier in April roached my freewheel!

I've been up to a lot of wrenching not only at work, but at home too. Getting all the testing arranged for parts and bikes. Swapping wheels, tires, and components. I'm only about halfway through the process!

One of the more frustrating things happened the other day when I pulled apart the freewheel that had frozen up as a result of my ride with Matt Gersib in mid April. The freewheel has six pawls and six springs inside which all can be removed. Well, one of the springs decided to take a flyer on me and dove into the parts washer at work. This parts washer has about six inches of nasty fluid in it with another inch and a half of dirty filthy silt at the bottom. As you can probably guess, I haven't ben able to come up with the spring yet!

There have been a lot of positives though. I got two bikes that were non-functional up and running last night, including the one with the frozen up freewheel. I swapped out wheelsets and swapped out gears on one and just wheel sets/tires on another with a saddle/seat post (or chair/chair post- right mw? Heh heh!) for good measure.

<===Tire testing requires setting up the product and choosing a bike suitable to the tire in question. Which bike will this end up on? Stay tuned!

I also made a chart of all the tires/wheels that I have to better co-ordinate the testing procedures and make sure I don't let anything slip through the cracks. I've got everything squared away now, so I should be ready when the weekend comes to start riding some stuff.

In other news around here, Captain Bob, (who is taking a short hiatus from blogging to ride) left me this link to some Trans Iowa pictures. There will be more coming, as Captain Bob isn't quite half way through his stash and my meager offerings yet. Thanks to Captain Bob for doing this! Some of the photos from T.I.V4 are pretty cool and amazing. I especially like that Captain Bob got not just the riders, but the roads, the skies, and some of the sights along the route. It gives you a teeny-weeny taste of what Trans Iowa is about, but a good one.

So, look for more T.I.V4 photos there and more reports on testing here, on Twenty Nine Inches, and on The Bike Lab real soon. I'll be busy, Captain Bob will be busy, and riding bicycles in the woods and on gravel roads will be getting done real soon here. Should be lots of fun!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Back

<===Shimano formally introduced it's first 29"er wheelset at Sea Otter last month.
One of the bigger complaints about 29"er wheels is that they weigh more and are harder to accelerate than a 26"er wheel. This is due to the obvious fact that there is more material to deal with than a 26"er wheel has- more tire, more rim, longer spokes.
So, in an effort to reduce the difference between 26"ers lighter weight and a 29"ers weight in wheels, many manufacturers have built wheel sets that address this in varying ways with varying amounts of success. Mostly we are talking high performance, racing type stuff here. Wheels like Bontragers Race X Lite and Mavic's Cr29ssmax wheels, which are quite reasonable weight-wise and retain a modicum of stiffness that makes them great wheel choices for 29"ers. Even lighter sets can be had like American Classics, which get down below 1600 grams a wheelset, which is pretty light for a mountain bike wheel set of any wheel diameter.
So it was with a puzzled look on my face that I examined the bike pictured here at Sea Otter fitted with Shimano's newest and only 29"er wheelset. It has many features that are related to it's 26"er XT sister, tubeless compatible, free hub improvements, and axle tweaks. The one thing it shares with it's smaller diameter sister is the spoke count, which at 24 spokes is not enough for a 29"er wheel. Then I heard the weight- 1850 grams! Okay.......color me not impressed.
Several pre-builts for 29"ers are the same or lighter with more spokes. This raises a red flag in my mind. If Shimano uses less spokes and yet their 29"er wheel weighs more than some wheels using more spokes, then where is the weight coming from? My guess is that it is most likely in the rim, which is the worst place it could be in, (for this category of wheel) and defeats the purpose of making a high performance 29"er wheel in the first place.
And speaking of the rim, it is a narrower rim- 24mm- and that is fine, but consider this: A Rhythm wheelset, which has 28 spokes and a 28mm wide rim weighs only a 100 grams more and is built to be a trail/general use wheelset! Mavic's Cr29ssmax wheels weighed in at an even 1800 grams with skewers and tubeless valve stems installed. The Cr29ssmax wheels are also 24 spokes, by the way, which again, I'm not a big fan of, but the Zircal spokes are a different animal than what Shimano uses. The point is, the weight on the Shimano wheels is going to top out over 1900 grams when you add in skewer weight and tubeless valve stems. That, as Bicycle Retailer and Industry News states in their Sea Otter Special coverage, " not super light."
I don't want this to seem like a Shimano bashing party, because it isn't. The trend seems to be going this way with pre-builts. FSA introduced it's own 29"er wheelset at Sea Otter, without much fanfare I might add, and it weighs in at 1920 grams. Again, using only a 24mm wide rim, FSA claims that it is erring on the side of durability. Well, there are choices out there with wider rims, (better for durability) that weigh less. What these companies are offering that is better, (other than their names, which is arguable) is beyond me.
Sure, 29"er wheels are going to weigh more than a comparable 26"er wheel, but with smart design and better use of materials, it doesn't have to be such a big gulf, and certainly we don't need heavier wheelsets that purport to be high performance/race category wheels. The proof is out there and companies jumping into the market would do well to examine the competition before setting out with a wheelset that doesn't measure up.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A New Perch

<=== Bontrager Inform RL saddle
I got a comment on the saddle seen on my Pofahl yesterday, (you guys must be clicking on the pics to enlarge them) and thought I'd give you my initial thoughts.
If you need to know all the technical stuff, go here. I will also be posting updates there on The Bike Lab on this saddle.
Initially, the saddle sizing system seemed a bit hokey to me. I mean, all you do is sit down on this "gel" pad and they measure your sit bones? Okay, that might be helpful, but as you all know, a saddle is much more than something that is "wide/narrow enough". I was a bit skeptical about the saddles shape and how it would work.
It's pretty flat. I usually don't go for such saddles, (with the exception of Fizik's Arione) and generally I don't find them (flat saddles) to be a good fit for me. The other thing was that when I got "fitted" I found out that I was borderline on the medium/large sizes. Bontrager advises you go to the size larger in such cases. I thought that the large size width saddle looked too wide and that it might be a chafer. I have not ridden a saddle this wide before with the exception of my Selle Anatomica saddle, but that's a leather job with rivets, so it's a whole different animal.
Well, I have a couple short rides on the Inform RL already and I can say that it makes you sit right on your skeletal structure as advertised. It seems that the pressure points are different than what I've experienced before, especially regarding the "soft tissue" areas. My only concern now is whether or not the concentration of the pressures of supporting Guitar Ted on the sit bones for a long period of time is a good thing. It doesn't seem as though, (at this point) that the stiffness of the saddles shell will be "long ride friendly". We'll see what happens after the magic three hour barrier has been passed. It seems saddles can be okay up until that time barrier, but afterwards the pain can set in.
So, that's the scoop on that saddle so far. Stay tuned for more as I can gather ride time on it.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Dirty Kanza Preparations

With Trans Iowa V4 in the books I can now turn my attention towards the Dirty Kanza 200. I guess I'd better! I have less than a month to get ready!

<===The "current state of affairs". The Pofahl being tested with some possible gear choices.

I have been fearing, to some degree. this event due to the fact that the winter training was nearly non-existent this year. Then Sea Otter and Trans Iowa ate up almost all of April, so I feel waaay under prepared physically for this event. The equipment situation is coming along pretty well. I narrowed things down to riding the Pofahl, but I am still setting it up and testing some ideas.

Mike Curiak calls it "thinkering", and I've been doing a lot of it lately. I know what I want to accomplish, I just don't know exactly what that is going to look like yet. So, that said, the image you see here will not be the set up I use at DK 200. There will be changes to this. I figure that with a couple of long slogs out training yet, I have a couple of chances to settle on the combo I'll actually use there.

So, I hope to at least be functional mechanically when I reach Emporia, Kansas later this month. The physical part? Well, that might be a little sketchy! We'll see.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Back To Just Riding Again

<====Flowers in the forest.

Got in a couple of rides today. It was great. Rode to church to make some wacko-noises on my guitar, (Peavey Horizon II- 1983 vintage, I think) and then again in the dirt this afternoon.

It's great not having anything going on for once. It's been about three weeks of mayhem and now it is "back to normal" for a spell.

<===Well, lookee there! It's green stuff!

Yeah, spring is in a big hurry after being delayed. This is the second year in a row that we haven't had flowers in April.

It'll probably swing over to hot n humid here pretty quick, I figure. Skeeters will be thick as clouds in a few weeks too. Better enjoy the woods while ya can!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Some Final Thoughts....T.I.V4

Okay, it's time for some final thoughts, some tidbits that didn't really fit into the story, to be told here, and then I'm moving on.....

The Shortened Course: I don't suppose any past T.I. finishers will argue, but some might, that there should be an "asterisk" by the names of the finishers of this years course. Here's why I don't think that is necessary: every year is different. Period. That's one of the reasons I like doing a different course every year. You can't compare one T.I. to another. Similar? Yes, but definitely not the same. that's by design, and how it should be.

As for having to do the shortened course, I am at peace with it. It was the right thing to do, and there isn't really anything else to be said.

Finish Line: Here is one real regret: That more folks couldn't have joined in the fun at the finish. That was most unfortunate. Of course, by the time I announced it on T.I. Radio, it was about what, 11:30 pm? Most folks are not going to hop in their cars for an hour drive to hang with some sweaty, tired riders at that hour. It was just a bit too far from Decorah and not easy to get to. Not that it mattered. I mean, we were on the borderline of getting into trouble as it was with the few folks we did have hanging out in Edgewood.

Of course, the next morning we were done and outta there by 8:30am, so not really a great time to come and hang out then either. Oh well, I did actually announce where the finish line was before the event, but that didn't work out obviously. Next year, (if there is a next year) it will revert back to the "secret" finish line and ya'all will have to pay attention to T.I.Radio to find out what is going on. That seems like the most workable plan as of now.

Pre-Race Hangout/Meeting: That T-Bock's meet up was pretty good. I think T-Bock's was pretty stoked about it too. They were really puzzled by the amount of beer consumed before an event like T.I. Heck, haven't they heard of carb loading? Well, whatever the case, it was a great time and I think everyone made a few new connections there. I know I did. Of course, it was the only chance I got to see some familiar faces too, but it was waaaay too short a time.

Two Checkpoints: That idea was a success. No doubt about it. And we have a lot more to do to tweak it out to be better if we run T.I. again... Cell phone coverage is one thing we didn't even consider, and that should be better by next year, but we would need to make sure. A couple more eyes on the field with the photographers was a good deal too. That saved us a few times.

Is Decorah Getting Old? I bet I could pull off at least two completely new courses outta Decorah, but even last year we were discussing "moving" T.I. around the state. Is it too good up in North East Iowa? Hmm.......I know it is hard to beat, but I also know that other places in Iowa would be super cool too. While we would probably not ever do a point to point again, I wouldn't rule it out. Also, the distance to recon the roads becomes a factor, so for now, if there is another T.I., it'll be close to home unless there is a compelling reason to take it elsewhere.

What About The Date?: Here's something that has been brought up since the first Trans Iowa. Why late April? Well, originally it was because guys are usually looking for base miles anyway, or so we thought then. Now we know that guys are training for Trans Iowa all winter long and taking it much more seriously than we had expected four years ago. But in the end, I always wanted to keep it on the last weekend of April. Now there is a "wrench" in the works that has caused me to take stock of when another Trans Iowa might take place. If there is another Trans Iowa, it will be at a different time, but not far from when it is now probably. Maybe a weekend later, maybe not. We'll see, I'm not thinking about that just yet. I just know what date it can't be on!

So....What Are You saying?: I know right now that without any reservations that I would say yes to a Trans Iowa in 2009.......but there are reservations! I love doing the event, I really do, but it's stupid. Really stupid from a financial point of view, really stupid from a time spent on it point of view, and really dumb from a family point of view. But then again, I don't care about the money, and the time invested is worth it from other standpoints. The family thing? Well......yeah, that sucks. Maybe my kids will like traveling gravel later, but I tried it with the family last year and they were non-plussed. I guess it all depends on how much I dare to be stupid again. Stay tuned!

Whatever happens I will say that I have not regreted doing a Trans Iowa with the possible exception of last year which just about killed me. Even that one turned out great and was a hoot really. I have enjoyed all the folks I have worked with- Jeff and now David- very very much. The volunteers have been fantastic, from Jeff's parents to the crew from '08. To all of you, I say a huge thanks. It wouldn't happen without any one of you.

And the folks that I have met that have participated: Wow! What can I say. You guys and gals are fantastic!

Trans Iowa V4

The End!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Trans Iowa V4 : It Blew Me Away! Part V

Note: This is the final post in my Trans Iowa recap series. There will be one more post to take a look at some odds and ends and look to the future. Then it is back to regular ol' postings!

After we had decided to end the race at Edgewood, we called the checkpoint volunteers in Earlville and asked if all the riders had gone through yet. All but Corey Godfrey had passed. We told them to let him know it was done in Edgewood, and we tried to reach the others on the road, but almost all of the guys had their cell phones shut down to conserve battery life. As we waited for the riders, a pair of law enforcement officials pulled up and asked what we were doing. We explained our situation. The befuddled look on the officers face told me that he hadn't quite expected such an answer. He then looked at me and said, "Well, I hope they aren't out there all night. There are plenty of drunks on the road around here." Then they drove away.

Which got me to thinking: If there were plenty of drunks driving, why weren't they busy catching them? Hmm.............. well, anyway!

We were wondering how we might get some sort of word to the guys to allow for them to make a race winning move, if they wanted to. About that time, John Gorilla's support crew pulled up and we had them station themselves four blocks or so away to yell at the guys as they rounded what was to be the last corner. They weren't there long when we heard them yelling and screaming at three riders rounding the corner. Mind you, this was just past midnight in a small Iowa town. I'm sure they are still talking about it!

So, here they came to the line. I could see the three shadowy figures start to reel up the cadence. Then a rider shot to the right curb and was coming on strong. I said, "That guy is flying! That's the winner!" It was John Gorilla, with Joe Kucharski second, on a single speed, and Charlie Farrow third wheel.

<===Charles Parsons makes the final run in to finish fourth at Trans Iowa V4.

We shook hands and had to explain the situation to the three finishers who were a bit surprised and maybe a bit angry that we cut the event short. After our explanation though, I think we had them convinced it was for the best.

Then we tried to arrange some transportation for the riders, as they were beginning to get chilled in the rapidly falling temperatures. Joe Kucharski sat in our chase vehicle and had the heat just blasting! I wonder if he figured out it had heated seats! Soon we had both Joe and Charlie off to Decorah. Charlie got his prizing right then and there because he was heading back to Rochester, Minnesota as soon as he got back!

<===Trans Iowa doesn't do no stinkin' champagne! Nope! We gots yer "gutter beer" though!

John Gorrilla and his support crew stayed behind since they were with Charles Parsons and were waiting for his arrival. In the meantime, John's wife Adele found an unopened Busch Light in the gutter uptown and presented him with it. Not too proud to drink it, John cracked open the can and took a long, well deserved draw. He even let me take this funny shot of him with it.

Waiting for Charles to roll in gave me some time to chat with John about the event and how his ride went for him. I learned that he had gone down twice. Once in a soft spot of gravel going uphill and the other was a blow down in the strong winds. He fell in a way that usually results in a broken collar bone, but John's fate wasn't such that day. John also related that he thought Joe Kucharski had gone down once too, or maybe it was Charlie. Hmm....can't blame him for not remembering the exact details after such a hard day in the saddle.

We started talking about his bike, a Ridley X-Nite cross rig, which John proudly proclaimed as "the only other bike to win Trans Iowa". (His phrasing, not mine!) As a matter of fact, John is the only other winner of Trans Iowa. Some pretty rare company there with Ira Ryan being the winner of V1 and V3.

<===Cornbread gets his props from Skip Cronin after rolling in about 3:30am.

Charles Parsons rolled in about an hour after the first three and then their crew quickly loaded up and sped away. It was about 1:30am, and d.p. and I were standing there alone.....for a minute or two!

Then the Lincoln Super Fan Van rolled up and staked out a claim waiting for their man Corey to make his final run in and finish Trans Iowa. We took our leisure and chatted, whooped it up, (mostly Matt Gersib!) and laughed heartily. However; even the most valiant super fan gets fatigued and one by one they trailed off to the van for some "z's". Time crawled by, the bars closed, drunks meandered up the street. Where was Corey?

Through talking with Skip I learned that Corey can be ahem!.........directionally challenged. I became somewhat concerned about 3am and d.p, finally said. "Let's go!". No more needed to be said, we were going out to search for Cornbread and bring him on in if we had to.

Of course, your mind starts to play with you at such an hour and with 24 hours on the clock already, we were really struggling to stay sane as it was. We reasoned that he should be near Edgewood, so we started the search close to town. We headed East, and then just over a rise in the road d.p, spotted the lights. It was Corey all right. We pulled up and chatted with him. I was making an assessment as to his ability to ride it on in. He seemed lucent and was reasoning well. He told us he had missed several turns and was wandering around in the hollows for awhile. Wondering if he just shouldn't lie down and sleep, he decided against it when he heard coyotes yipping near by.

Then we continued always just within his eyesight- we didn't want him to make any false turns. Actually, it seemed to me that he picked up the pace mightily at the end there. maybe it was just me and sleep deprivation, but it seemed that way.

I told d.p., "Hey, I've got an idea." I let Corey get pretty close to the rear of our vehicle, I turned on the 4-ways, and led him on in, beeping the horn Tour de France style. Ah, what the heck, I thought. We gotta have some fun since it was the end of Trans Iowa V4. So what if it was 3:30am in the morning!

<===John Gorilla hoisting the limestone block d.p. fashioned for the T.I.V4 winner.

I drove on back to Decorah in the dead of night with d.p. We couldn't say much, we were so wasted! By the time we got to our rooms, the soft glow of the coming day could be seen in the Eastern sky.

We slept for about two and a half hours and then I sprung up and met John and Joe at the Kwik Star to download their prizing to them. We took a few shots, and said goodbye. T.I.V4 was behind me. I went and filled the gas tank, washed off over 500 miles of grit and grime, and headed home.

<===Lots of gravel to be traveled......

That's it. Trans Iowa V4.

I just want to take this chance to extend my thanks to all those who made this event what it was this year. The volunteers, the riders, the support people, and anyone who has had a hand in helping make T.I.V4 a great event.

I enjoyed it. I hope you did too.

See ya'all down the trail.....................