Monday, June 30, 2008

Latex Chronicles: Success!



<=== The Pofahl set up as a long distance gravel cruiser.

This past weekend saw the success of my tubeless experiment. I was able to get out for two short rides on each day.

The short ride on Saturday was to help seat in everything and spread the solution around in the tires evenly to seal them up. The Vulpines rolled fantastic without tubes. Can you really feel the difference? Absolutely yes. Without question you can. For instance, I ran these tires at nearly 40 psi for earlier gravel rides and while the tires felt fast, they also bounced around a lot more. They also felt harsher as far as ride quality went too. So, maybe on pavement they were okay, but off road the smaller casing and higher pressures worked against whatever rolling resistance reductions I was getting.

I tried them at lower pressures too, with tubes. Then you could feel the rolling resistance go up, even though you now would have a tire that wasn't bouncing around a lot. Of course, low pressure on a tire with this smaller casing wasn't all that low, really. Maybe the upper 20's psi was as low as I went, or dared to.



<=== WTB Vulpines on DT Swiss TK 7.1D rims laced to SS specific I-9's

Now with the tires as tubeless, you can run them at 30psi or slightly less and they roll just as well as they used to with tubes at 40 psi, but have the bump eating qualities of the same tubed set up at this same pressure. Ride quality is phenomenal. Smooth? In spades!

I also checked these all day on Saturday to see if they were leaking down. On Sunday, I found that the front had nearly gone all the way down and that the back had lost some air too. So, I just refilled to 30 psi front and rear. Then I did another short ride. This morning both tires are holding pressures just fine. Success!

With confidence in the system now quite high I will strip off a few of the "extras" on the Pofahl and do some off road testing with the Vulpines again. (Or I may simply transfer the wheels to the OS Bikes Blackbuck for a bit) Either way, it is time to try some off road with the Vulpines again, especially since we are coming into their prime off road conditions here. Dry hard pack is showing up, but you have to know where to look.

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational Update: I put up some new information with a link to a new course on the GTDRI site. I am not going to beat myself down trying to figure out a way through roads in the originally intended area for the course. There are still frost boils, heaves, and recent flood damage that would make the first choice rather difficult to make work, if not impossible. I'm kind of bummed, but this second choice I know is, (for the most part I know it is) clear and it is a killer route from a hill and view standpoint. I'm hoping to put in a ride this Friday the 4th, or possibly Saturday, if I'm so persuaded. (If anybody wants to come along, they can. Just let me know in the next day or so.)

And again, just to be clear, GTDRI is open to all comers. Don't wait for a special invite, 'cause there ain't gonna be one. Just e-mail me beforehand and show up if you have a mind to.

This course will be single speed able, but I think I'm going to rock the gears this year and ride my Badger. It is what that bike was made for anyway. Stay tuned to the site for further updates.

Latex Chronicles: Success!



<=== The Pofahl set up as a long distance gravel cruiser.

This past weekend saw the success of my tubeless experiment. I was able to get out for two short rides on each day.

The short ride on Saturday was to help seat in everything and spread the solution around in the tires evenly to seal them up. The Vulpines rolled fantastic without tubes. Can you really feel the difference? Absolutely yes. Without question you can. For instance, I ran these tires at nearly 40 psi for earlier gravel rides and while the tires felt fast, they also bounced around a lot more. They also felt harsher as far as ride quality went too. So, maybe on pavement they were okay, but off road the smaller casing and higher pressures worked against whatever rolling resistance reductions I was getting.

I tried them at lower pressures too, with tubes. Then you could feel the rolling resistance go up, even though you now would have a tire that wasn't bouncing around a lot. Of course, low pressure on a tire with this smaller casing wasn't all that low, really. Maybe the upper 20's psi was as low as I went, or dared to.



<=== WTB Vulpines on DT Swiss TK 7.1D rims laced to SS specific I-9's

Now with the tires as tubeless, you can run them at 30psi or slightly less and they roll just as well as they used to with tubes at 40 psi, but have the bump eating qualities of the same tubed set up at this same pressure. Ride quality is phenomenal. Smooth? In spades!

I also checked these all day on Saturday to see if they were leaking down. On Sunday, I found that the front had nearly gone all the way down and that the back had lost some air too. So, I just refilled to 30 psi front and rear. Then I did another short ride. This morning both tires are holding pressures just fine. Success!

With confidence in the system now quite high I will strip off a few of the "extras" on the Pofahl and do some off road testing with the Vulpines again. (Or I may simply transfer the wheels to the OS Bikes Blackbuck for a bit) Either way, it is time to try some off road with the Vulpines again, especially since we are coming into their prime off road conditions here. Dry hard pack is showing up, but you have to know where to look.

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational Update: I put up some new information with a link to a new course on the GTDRI site. I am not going to beat myself down trying to figure out a way through roads in the originally intended area for the course. There are still frost boils, heaves, and recent flood damage that would make the first choice rather difficult to make work, if not impossible. I'm kind of bummed, but this second choice I know is, (for the most part I know it is) clear and it is a killer route from a hill and view standpoint. I'm hoping to put in a ride this Friday the 4th, or possibly Saturday, if I'm so persuaded. (If anybody wants to come along, they can. Just let me know in the next day or so.)

And again, just to be clear, GTDRI is open to all comers. Don't wait for a special invite, 'cause there ain't gonna be one. Just e-mail me beforehand and show up if you have a mind to.

This course will be single speed able, but I think I'm going to rock the gears this year and ride my Badger. It is what that bike was made for anyway. Stay tuned to the site for further updates.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Latex Chronicles: In Search Of Tubeless Perfection

Or: A Message To MG

Or: Guitar Ted's Lab Adventures Continue...

Last night I decided to take another crack at it. I wasn't about to let this get me down, or get the best of me. I'd come too far now. So I opened the door to the lab and descended down the creaky stairs to tackle the task once more.....

It all started when I was battling the tubeless system that was "supposed to work", but was causing me to suffer failure after failure. People were commenting online that they couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I was getting pretty discouraged, but then I discovered a couple key things I was doing wrong, and I turned the corner. I got some help in overcoming the tubeless beast and one of those good folks was Matt Gersib. (Thanks Brother!) One of those good guys in the world that make you have hope for humanity, anyway......

"MG", as he's referred to on these "inner-web-o-spheres", didn't just help me, he shared a recipe for a sure fire "ghetto" tubeless system. After my success with "approved" tubeless systems I wanted to take the next diabolical step towards tubeless tire domination. To be able to set up any rim and tire tubeless.......yeah! That was my goal.

So MG set me up with a tub-o-latex goodness and I got all the other "ingredients" necessary to convert my first tube tire and wheel set to tubeless. I chose my subject: Industry 9 single speed wheels using DT Swiss TK 7.1D rims. The tire was the WTB Vulpine. I set to work making the rim tubeless compatible. Tape, sticky, sticky tape, then lots of prodding into place. Inspection showed me that I was doing well. Add the tubeless valve stems, yes.......good! It was late by this time, so I hit the hay.

Sometime later I gave it a shot by mounting the tires and mixing up my first batch of latex "goo". I had developed a way to introduce the liquid into the valve stem by using an old plastic Coke bottle with a "V" brake noodle out the top and a short piece of clear vinyl tubing over the end of that noodle to the valve stem. It worked a charm.......on the first wheel! The second wheel didn't go as planned. Something went wrong, either a chunk of latex clogged the tubing, or back pressure in the rim cavity, I don't know, but the next thing I knew, I had white liquid squirting all over. I lost a significant amount of the precious liquid on the floor. I remixed a smaller amount to put in, and as I did, I realized that I had done the measuring wrong on the first wheel. I had about half the latex I should have had in the wheel.

After the mess was cleaned up, and I had the wheels finished off, I pumped them up. The first wheel went up fine with a floor pump. The second one I couldn't air up. I tried in vain until I was a sweaty mess. I got pretty frustrated and retired (retreated is more like it) for the night. I returned the next night and fiddled with the bead interface and finally got the wheel to air up. Okay, good. Now would they hold air? I did all the Stan's prescribed "shaky-shake" maneuvers, all the checks. So far so good. Now to wait till morning to see the results.

The next morning? Not good. The tires were flat. I got frustrated again because I had been planning to attend an event and wanted to use these wheels. They weren't working, so I abandoned them to the dark corners of the shop. Eventually, the event didn't happen for me due to lack of fitness/training. All efforts in vain, or so it would seem.

Well, eventually I got to thinking about these wheels and tires again, which leads us back to the opening paragraph. Where I go back down into the Lab for another stab at it....

Well, I remixed an entirely new batch of "goo", this time using correct measurements. I introduced the "goo" using my contraption, which worked flawlessly this time, and aired up the tires. This morning? Success!

After our morning showers roll through, I'll put them on a rig for a short ride. Report to follow.....

Latex Chronicles: In Search Of Tubeless Perfection

Or: A Message To MG

Or: Guitar Ted's Lab Adventures Continue...

Last night I decided to take another crack at it. I wasn't about to let this get me down, or get the best of me. I'd come too far now. So I opened the door to the lab and descended down the creaky stairs to tackle the task once more.....

It all started when I was battling the tubeless system that was "supposed to work", but was causing me to suffer failure after failure. People were commenting online that they couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I was getting pretty discouraged, but then I discovered a couple key things I was doing wrong, and I turned the corner. I got some help in overcoming the tubeless beast and one of those good folks was Matt Gersib. (Thanks Brother!) One of those good guys in the world that make you have hope for humanity, anyway......

"MG", as he's referred to on these "inner-web-o-spheres", didn't just help me, he shared a recipe for a sure fire "ghetto" tubeless system. After my success with "approved" tubeless systems I wanted to take the next diabolical step towards tubeless tire domination. To be able to set up any rim and tire tubeless.......yeah! That was my goal.

So MG set me up with a tub-o-latex goodness and I got all the other "ingredients" necessary to convert my first tube tire and wheel set to tubeless. I chose my subject: Industry 9 single speed wheels using DT Swiss TK 7.1D rims. The tire was the WTB Vulpine. I set to work making the rim tubeless compatible. Tape, sticky, sticky tape, then lots of prodding into place. Inspection showed me that I was doing well. Add the tubeless valve stems, yes.......good! It was late by this time, so I hit the hay.

Sometime later I gave it a shot by mounting the tires and mixing up my first batch of latex "goo". I had developed a way to introduce the liquid into the valve stem by using an old plastic Coke bottle with a "V" brake noodle out the top and a short piece of clear vinyl tubing over the end of that noodle to the valve stem. It worked a charm.......on the first wheel! The second wheel didn't go as planned. Something went wrong, either a chunk of latex clogged the tubing, or back pressure in the rim cavity, I don't know, but the next thing I knew, I had white liquid squirting all over. I lost a significant amount of the precious liquid on the floor. I remixed a smaller amount to put in, and as I did, I realized that I had done the measuring wrong on the first wheel. I had about half the latex I should have had in the wheel.

After the mess was cleaned up, and I had the wheels finished off, I pumped them up. The first wheel went up fine with a floor pump. The second one I couldn't air up. I tried in vain until I was a sweaty mess. I got pretty frustrated and retired (retreated is more like it) for the night. I returned the next night and fiddled with the bead interface and finally got the wheel to air up. Okay, good. Now would they hold air? I did all the Stan's prescribed "shaky-shake" maneuvers, all the checks. So far so good. Now to wait till morning to see the results.

The next morning? Not good. The tires were flat. I got frustrated again because I had been planning to attend an event and wanted to use these wheels. They weren't working, so I abandoned them to the dark corners of the shop. Eventually, the event didn't happen for me due to lack of fitness/training. All efforts in vain, or so it would seem.

Well, eventually I got to thinking about these wheels and tires again, which leads us back to the opening paragraph. Where I go back down into the Lab for another stab at it....

Well, I remixed an entirely new batch of "goo", this time using correct measurements. I introduced the "goo" using my contraption, which worked flawlessly this time, and aired up the tires. This morning? Success!

After our morning showers roll through, I'll put them on a rig for a short ride. Report to follow.....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Where Are Fuzzy And DeJay?


My buddy, Mr. 24, alerted me to this Ergon contest. Here's the skinny straight from Ergon to you:



This is the first in a series of contests called “Where are Fuzzy & Dejay?”


The real question is, how well do you know your North American single track? As Fuzzy and Dejay criss-cross the country they will be sending Ergon random photos from their riding adventures. We will then take one photo per month and post it here for you, the consumer, to guess the location. First person to correctly identify the photo riding location will receive a select pair of Ergon grips for that month.


- How to Enter -Send Entry to: jeff.kerkove@ergon-bike.com Email Subject line: “Where are Fuzzy & Dejay - July”Include your name, address, and photo location


What we are looking for is the actual trail name and State.For example, Slickrock Trail, Utah or 401 Trail, Colorado. This months contest photo is posted above.

- Rules of the contest -Please, only one entry per person per month. We will continue to take entries all month. The winner will be contacted at the end of the month. We have the right to refuse any incomplete or improper entry. Contest open to residence of USA and Canada only.
This photo will be posted until the end of July. This months select pair of grips is the GR2 in either small or large.

Hint: Turn left up the canyon. Then keep an eye out for the rocks and boulders on this trail.

Good Luck!
Okay, there ya go! A chance to win some sweet Ergon grippage! Check it out and have a great weekend!

Where Are Fuzzy And DeJay?


My buddy, Mr. 24, alerted me to this Ergon contest. Here's the skinny straight from Ergon to you:



This is the first in a series of contests called “Where are Fuzzy & Dejay?”


The real question is, how well do you know your North American single track? As Fuzzy and Dejay criss-cross the country they will be sending Ergon random photos from their riding adventures. We will then take one photo per month and post it here for you, the consumer, to guess the location. First person to correctly identify the photo riding location will receive a select pair of Ergon grips for that month.


- How to Enter -Send Entry to: jeff.kerkove@ergon-bike.com Email Subject line: “Where are Fuzzy & Dejay - July”Include your name, address, and photo location


What we are looking for is the actual trail name and State.For example, Slickrock Trail, Utah or 401 Trail, Colorado. This months contest photo is posted above.

- Rules of the contest -Please, only one entry per person per month. We will continue to take entries all month. The winner will be contacted at the end of the month. We have the right to refuse any incomplete or improper entry. Contest open to residence of USA and Canada only.
This photo will be posted until the end of July. This months select pair of grips is the GR2 in either small or large.

Hint: Turn left up the canyon. Then keep an eye out for the rocks and boulders on this trail.

Good Luck!
Okay, there ya go! A chance to win some sweet Ergon grippage! Check it out and have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ten Years After.....



<==== There are some good climbs out here at Hickory Hills. Better leave yourself a couple of clicks in reserve for the top of this one!

Ten years after...(I wonder how many Google searches will end up here from that title!) Yeah, it has been at least ten years since I have ridden a bicycle down at Hickory Hills in Tama County. We used to race there back in the day, and it was a pretty fun place to check out, if only for the climbing/descending. This picture shows the top of the old "middle climb" which is just as tough as I remembered it to be. Most of the trail is "double track" wide since they use ATV's to patrol the park with now days.



<===The weapon of choice for the day. The Salsa Cycles Dos Niner.

I was wanting to do some testing with the Intense EX-2 Stickey Lite tires and the Bontrager Inform RL saddle. I was going to head up north of Waverly to Cedar Bend. That is a park Captain Bob likes to use, but as we discussed this, Hickory Hills came up and I got the bug to go and check it out after all these years. I was really glad that I did too.






<=== Free toys included with every visit! I found this in the parking lot. Bonus!

The trails were recently mown and in decent shape, although you could tell that nary a bicycle is ridden on them, especially up top. Down near the lake I saw some tracks in the softer, muddier spots. Insects were so thick that if I stopped to take a photo, all I could hear was the buzzing and whirring of tiny wings. Yes, most of these were mosquitoes!





<=== The view from up top. Check it out! You can see The Dirty Blue Box down there in the parking lot.

The day was beautiful, sunny, warm, and not windy at all in the woods. Speaking of which, there are some pretty big trees here and there out in Hickory Hills. Thick green underbrush too. I felt as though I was in a jungle here at times.







<=== Green is our featured color today.

I had fun checking out the old trails and things started out just as I remembered them. You head out across the earthen dam from the parking lot. This dam is deceptively smooth looking, but in reality is the bumpiest part of the whole trail system. I was glad to be on board the Dos Niner, I'll tell you that much! Then after that rattle and shake, I turned right to head along the bottoms next to the lake.





<=== Starting to head up!

The trail starts to wind a bit and head left and up. You reach the old familiar intersection where the trail heads back down to follow the lake to the right, or you can go left. That way started out gently upwards with some big gentle curves which then led you to a hard left and a grind straight up the fall line that was probably the toughest climb anywhere near Waterloo off road. If it was wet, you were doomed to slip out about halfway up where it pitched upwards a bit more and there was nothing but dirt and roots to claw at. That isn't the case anymore. This climb has been modified and for the better, I think.



<===Old climb on right, new climb on the left...then right...then left again....

If you check out this picture, you can see the old climb, overgrown with low vegetation, on the right going nearly straight up. The new climb snakes its way back and forth across this old climb. It makes the climbing easier, but the descending is oh so fun! Dual slalom like corners and fast! Better have some good brakes to tackle this with any speed. I liked it much better than the old route.



<=== Nope! That's not single track, its a "Deer Highway" my friend!

Once up top I looked for the old single track off the ridge on the south side. It is all overgrown and gone though. What I did find was deer paths so beaten in that they looked like bicycle single track. Really clean and just the perfect width. A bit of weed whacking and you'd be done here. Trouble is, deer do not respect property lines and don't believe in loops. Sheesh! If only these animals could be trained!


I went onwards to the big downhill at the east side of the park. You used to have a clear field of vision all the way down to your left, but not anymore. The underbrush has grown up so high that you find yourself in a tunnel of vegetation nearly all the way down now. Still, it is a fun, fast downhill.

I did some other 'splorin' and I had a great time out there. Seems that my ride lasted only a bit more than an hour, but it seemed like a lot more. Hmmm.......musta been a time warp.

I say, let's do the time warp again!

Ten Years After.....



<==== There are some good climbs out here at Hickory Hills. Better leave yourself a couple of clicks in reserve for the top of this one!

Ten years after...(I wonder how many Google searches will end up here from that title!) Yeah, it has been at least ten years since I have ridden a bicycle down at Hickory Hills in Tama County. We used to race there back in the day, and it was a pretty fun place to check out, if only for the climbing/descending. This picture shows the top of the old "middle climb" which is just as tough as I remembered it to be. Most of the trail is "double track" wide since they use ATV's to patrol the park with now days.



<===The weapon of choice for the day. The Salsa Cycles Dos Niner.

I was wanting to do some testing with the Intense EX-2 Stickey Lite tires and the Bontrager Inform RL saddle. I was going to head up north of Waverly to Cedar Bend. That is a park Captain Bob likes to use, but as we discussed this, Hickory Hills came up and I got the bug to go and check it out after all these years. I was really glad that I did too.






<=== Free toys included with every visit! I found this in the parking lot. Bonus!

The trails were recently mown and in decent shape, although you could tell that nary a bicycle is ridden on them, especially up top. Down near the lake I saw some tracks in the softer, muddier spots. Insects were so thick that if I stopped to take a photo, all I could hear was the buzzing and whirring of tiny wings. Yes, most of these were mosquitoes!





<=== The view from up top. Check it out! You can see The Dirty Blue Box down there in the parking lot.

The day was beautiful, sunny, warm, and not windy at all in the woods. Speaking of which, there are some pretty big trees here and there out in Hickory Hills. Thick green underbrush too. I felt as though I was in a jungle here at times.







<=== Green is our featured color today.

I had fun checking out the old trails and things started out just as I remembered them. You head out across the earthen dam from the parking lot. This dam is deceptively smooth looking, but in reality is the bumpiest part of the whole trail system. I was glad to be on board the Dos Niner, I'll tell you that much! Then after that rattle and shake, I turned right to head along the bottoms next to the lake.





<=== Starting to head up!

The trail starts to wind a bit and head left and up. You reach the old familiar intersection where the trail heads back down to follow the lake to the right, or you can go left. That way started out gently upwards with some big gentle curves which then led you to a hard left and a grind straight up the fall line that was probably the toughest climb anywhere near Waterloo off road. If it was wet, you were doomed to slip out about halfway up where it pitched upwards a bit more and there was nothing but dirt and roots to claw at. That isn't the case anymore. This climb has been modified and for the better, I think.



<===Old climb on right, new climb on the left...then right...then left again....

If you check out this picture, you can see the old climb, overgrown with low vegetation, on the right going nearly straight up. The new climb snakes its way back and forth across this old climb. It makes the climbing easier, but the descending is oh so fun! Dual slalom like corners and fast! Better have some good brakes to tackle this with any speed. I liked it much better than the old route.



<=== Nope! That's not single track, its a "Deer Highway" my friend!

Once up top I looked for the old single track off the ridge on the south side. It is all overgrown and gone though. What I did find was deer paths so beaten in that they looked like bicycle single track. Really clean and just the perfect width. A bit of weed whacking and you'd be done here. Trouble is, deer do not respect property lines and don't believe in loops. Sheesh! If only these animals could be trained!


I went onwards to the big downhill at the east side of the park. You used to have a clear field of vision all the way down to your left, but not anymore. The underbrush has grown up so high that you find yourself in a tunnel of vegetation nearly all the way down now. Still, it is a fun, fast downhill.

I did some other 'splorin' and I had a great time out there. Seems that my ride lasted only a bit more than an hour, but it seemed like a lot more. Hmmm.......musta been a time warp.

I say, let's do the time warp again!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Noisey Neighbor

It is summertime and the "construction season" is in full swing. Roads are detoured all across the Mid West. Folks are busy cleaning up and starting to rebuild around here, of course. Lots of building, renovating, and........tearing down is going on.

I know that a couple bicycle shops have their streets in front of them torn up with all sorts of "construction noises" to put up with. Well, the shop I work at has a neighboring store that is moving to the other side of us. They are demolishing the building there to rebuild a new facility. The level and kinds of noise we have had over the past couple of days has been, well..........rather unique, to say the least.

They moved in one of those crane apparatuses that is fitted with a huge bucket/jaw that can crunch, tear, and bash in a building in an amazing number of ways. This machine, which looks like an angry mechanized dinosaur, has been pretty busy next door making thunderous noises, rending crashes, and even shaking our walls from time to time. It is a bit disconcerting to be truing a wheel and suddenly hear this thing which seems as if it will crash through our walls at any minute.

Then the crew over there managed to start a fire which didn't get going until they were gone on break. The resulting commotion was short lived and the fire was put out promptly, but it was certainly a bit of a concern there for a bit.

I suppose there will be more construction goodness to deal with over the next few months, but I'll bet it won't be as chaotic as the last couple of days has been. At least, I hope not!

Noisey Neighbor

It is summertime and the "construction season" is in full swing. Roads are detoured all across the Mid West. Folks are busy cleaning up and starting to rebuild around here, of course. Lots of building, renovating, and........tearing down is going on.

I know that a couple bicycle shops have their streets in front of them torn up with all sorts of "construction noises" to put up with. Well, the shop I work at has a neighboring store that is moving to the other side of us. They are demolishing the building there to rebuild a new facility. The level and kinds of noise we have had over the past couple of days has been, well..........rather unique, to say the least.

They moved in one of those crane apparatuses that is fitted with a huge bucket/jaw that can crunch, tear, and bash in a building in an amazing number of ways. This machine, which looks like an angry mechanized dinosaur, has been pretty busy next door making thunderous noises, rending crashes, and even shaking our walls from time to time. It is a bit disconcerting to be truing a wheel and suddenly hear this thing which seems as if it will crash through our walls at any minute.

Then the crew over there managed to start a fire which didn't get going until they were gone on break. The resulting commotion was short lived and the fire was put out promptly, but it was certainly a bit of a concern there for a bit.

I suppose there will be more construction goodness to deal with over the next few months, but I'll bet it won't be as chaotic as the last couple of days has been. At least, I hope not!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Get Your "Tour" Fix Now!

It is summer time and that could only mean one thing: It's Tour time! If you've been an avid reader of this blog for awhile, you will know that I'm not talking about Le Tour, no....I'm talking about a different tour altogether. This year, it is two tours at once!

Okay, so here's the deal for those who are new to all of this. There has been a race along the Great Divide running from the Canadian border to the Mexican border for several years now. This event is commonly referred to as the "GDR". This year there is a concurrent (or nearly so) race/tour going on that also includes a Canadian section of the Great Divide Route called Tour Divide.

Both events feature self supported athletes on bicycles following cue sheets outlined by Adventure Cycling . The cyclists must stay on the route as it is given by Adventure Cycling and must figure out their own logistics for food and shelter. Both events have their own blogs where the athletes progress can be checked out. (See hyperlinks in the second paragraph)

Both events got started earlier this month, but there is still a lot of time to get caught up into the daily dramas that are unfolding right now out there in the Rocky Mountains. Most participants are still in Montana and Wyoming with a few of the Tour Divide leaders in Colorado as of yesterday. It's like a cycling version of soap opera, only for real!

Several interesting stories are unfolding out there including Mary Collier's attempt at Tour Divide and Jen Hopkins, a 30 year old female from the U.K. who is attempting the GDR on a single speed and killing it! There is a lot more than this, we've got a racer dealing with the sudden illness of his beloved 13 year old dog, flat tire sagas, and more. It is riveting reading and I find it all great stuff.

Check it out over the coming weeks and see if you don't feel the same way. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't pass along my respect and best wishes to all those who toed the line at both the GDR and Tour Divide events this year. Allez!

Get Your "Tour" Fix Now!

It is summer time and that could only mean one thing: It's Tour time! If you've been an avid reader of this blog for awhile, you will know that I'm not talking about Le Tour, no....I'm talking about a different tour altogether. This year, it is two tours at once!

Okay, so here's the deal for those who are new to all of this. There has been a race along the Great Divide running from the Canadian border to the Mexican border for several years now. This event is commonly referred to as the "GDR". This year there is a concurrent (or nearly so) race/tour going on that also includes a Canadian section of the Great Divide Route called Tour Divide.

Both events feature self supported athletes on bicycles following cue sheets outlined by Adventure Cycling . The cyclists must stay on the route as it is given by Adventure Cycling and must figure out their own logistics for food and shelter. Both events have their own blogs where the athletes progress can be checked out. (See hyperlinks in the second paragraph)

Both events got started earlier this month, but there is still a lot of time to get caught up into the daily dramas that are unfolding right now out there in the Rocky Mountains. Most participants are still in Montana and Wyoming with a few of the Tour Divide leaders in Colorado as of yesterday. It's like a cycling version of soap opera, only for real!

Several interesting stories are unfolding out there including Mary Collier's attempt at Tour Divide and Jen Hopkins, a 30 year old female from the U.K. who is attempting the GDR on a single speed and killing it! There is a lot more than this, we've got a racer dealing with the sudden illness of his beloved 13 year old dog, flat tire sagas, and more. It is riveting reading and I find it all great stuff.

Check it out over the coming weeks and see if you don't feel the same way. Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't pass along my respect and best wishes to all those who toed the line at both the GDR and Tour Divide events this year. Allez!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Some 29"er Stuff: The Odd and the Shady



<===A bad pic of an Eastern Woods Research 29"er prototype.

Way back in the 90's, I had this thing for Eastern Woods Research bikes. I suppose it was the fact that they looked so different in that "erector set" sort of way. Whatever....now I see that they are setting out on the path of big wheels.

While the design is still off the charts as far as being different, I think the form follows function and there are some cool things going on here. The first is obviously the standover height, which is plentiful. The "bent" downtube is the other, which on a 29"er design will allow fork crown clearance galore. The crossing of frame tubing near the seat tube should result in a very stiff bottom bracket area and perhaps stiffen that front triangle. That triangle might still twist a bit though, seeing as how those top and down tubes are nearly in the same plane. That's my only concern here looking at it. Of course, a ride would tell right off. I doubt I'll be anywhere near one of these anytime soon to find out, but I would love to try out my theories on this with a test ride.




<==== Look closely before saying this is a 29"er!

This showed up on Ridemonkey and was put forth as a Specialized S-Works 29"er. Look closely though and you'll see that it's a fraud.

700 X 45mm Panaracer Fire Cross tires are pretty cool meats but not a 29"er tire. The clearance at the seat stay yoke is super minimal with these tires too. Check out the bottom bracket height. Yeah..........not much drop there. It's pretty obvious that this is a 26"er. Just goes to show ya. You have to be careful on the inner-web-o-sphere. Things are not always what the first seem to be sometimes.

In other news, I am starting to put my focus on getting ready for the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. A couple of notes here. Monkeywrench Nate stopped me at the Salsa Sol Sessions last weekend and asked if it was okay for him to come to the Death Ride if he wanted to. "Heck Yeah!!" Let's clear the air here.....ya'all are welcome! The "invitational" part throws some folks I guess. It's a spoof folks. Don't take it too seriously. In fact, that's the whole point of the ride. Sorry if I led anyone down the wrong path there!

Secondly, I have to get out and verify that the roads are even passable. No joke! Bridges and roads are severely damaged and impassable in several cases. Gravel roads don't get the love from the media, so I have to find out for myself where the damage may be in terms of my chosen course. Be prepared to be flexible folks. A total course re-route is not out of the question!

Then there is the 12 Hours of Blue Mound too. Maybe even the Ponca 155. Who knows. Stay tuned!

Some 29"er Stuff: The Odd and the Shady



<===A bad pic of an Eastern Woods Research 29"er prototype.

Way back in the 90's, I had this thing for Eastern Woods Research bikes. I suppose it was the fact that they looked so different in that "erector set" sort of way. Whatever....now I see that they are setting out on the path of big wheels.

While the design is still off the charts as far as being different, I think the form follows function and there are some cool things going on here. The first is obviously the standover height, which is plentiful. The "bent" downtube is the other, which on a 29"er design will allow fork crown clearance galore. The crossing of frame tubing near the seat tube should result in a very stiff bottom bracket area and perhaps stiffen that front triangle. That triangle might still twist a bit though, seeing as how those top and down tubes are nearly in the same plane. That's my only concern here looking at it. Of course, a ride would tell right off. I doubt I'll be anywhere near one of these anytime soon to find out, but I would love to try out my theories on this with a test ride.




<==== Look closely before saying this is a 29"er!

This showed up on Ridemonkey and was put forth as a Specialized S-Works 29"er. Look closely though and you'll see that it's a fraud.

700 X 45mm Panaracer Fire Cross tires are pretty cool meats but not a 29"er tire. The clearance at the seat stay yoke is super minimal with these tires too. Check out the bottom bracket height. Yeah..........not much drop there. It's pretty obvious that this is a 26"er. Just goes to show ya. You have to be careful on the inner-web-o-sphere. Things are not always what the first seem to be sometimes.

In other news, I am starting to put my focus on getting ready for the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. A couple of notes here. Monkeywrench Nate stopped me at the Salsa Sol Sessions last weekend and asked if it was okay for him to come to the Death Ride if he wanted to. "Heck Yeah!!" Let's clear the air here.....ya'all are welcome! The "invitational" part throws some folks I guess. It's a spoof folks. Don't take it too seriously. In fact, that's the whole point of the ride. Sorry if I led anyone down the wrong path there!

Secondly, I have to get out and verify that the roads are even passable. No joke! Bridges and roads are severely damaged and impassable in several cases. Gravel roads don't get the love from the media, so I have to find out for myself where the damage may be in terms of my chosen course. Be prepared to be flexible folks. A total course re-route is not out of the question!

Then there is the 12 Hours of Blue Mound too. Maybe even the Ponca 155. Who knows. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ghost Town



<===Most roads along the river in Decorah were closed due to flood damage.

I made the trip up to Decorah yesterday on what was to be the first day of The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. Of course, since it has been cancelled the weather has been top notch. Oh well!

I found some good things and some bad things. I'll get into that as the post unfolds here. The first thing I saw was that the campground was dry, but all the grass was matted down and covered in that dusty silt that you see when flood waters recede. Maybe it wouldn't have been a big deal, but I did notice that the ground was like cement and very rough and bumpy. Probably not a lot of fun to camp on, ya know?



<===Park road damage in the Pallisades

I started out the day by kitting up right out in the open, (hey, I have no shame!) and I noticed one other pair of riders on Niners just taking off as I was getting ready. They would be the only other mountain bikers I would see all afternoon.

I started riding up Pallisades Park road to warm up. I had the bike dialed and I was hoping for a good ride. I got started in on the trail going uphill. I started to notice that I felt out of it mentally. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't have my "A" game on. I was sloppy and I couldn't muster any motivation for tougher sections. I was starting to get a little down about myself, but I kept plugging along knowing that I'm a really slow starter. Sometimes it takes up to an hour for me to really come around.



<=== Trail damage in the Pallisades

I noticed several places on the down slopes that were washed clear of their top soil leaving behind limestone shale and plates that were loose and rather skittish. It reminded me of El Paso! Then there were several spots where the runoff had carved a deep rut just off the trail leaving a precarious drop to one side that demanded precise navigation to miss. I would have been greatly concerned had we held the event just because of these things which I found in what we were going to use as the demo loop. But things were even worse in other parts of the trail system.

I exited Pallisades and hit Larsen's Loop which I cleaned about 80% of. It's a very technical trail and one I'd like to master some day. It's also very tough getting in and out of that loop. I had one "fancy dismount" that saved me a 15 foot drop to sharp rocks that I was very proud of!

I got over to Van Peenen and found that the big main climb in was all loose rocks and was pretty dang tough. Although by this time into the ride I was finally getting my groove on. I cleaned the entire climb, thanks in part to the Fisher Hi Fi I was riding. Full suspension saved my bacon a bunch yesterday, I'll say that much!



<=== One of my favorite sections- Pines West

I headed over on a cutoff to the open meadow trail looking for signs of the local "ballyhoo-ers" but I never saw any signs of them. I even stopped to listen for "human activity", but all I heard was the gentle wind in the grass. Did I mention that it was perfect weather there?

After the Pines West section, which I love, I headed back around on Fred's Trail. I found a few more areas of concern where runoff had eaten into the trail at different points, but mainly this section was pretty fun. I felt great and things were clicking. I stopped for a Cliff Bar, since I felt hungry, and I heard some voices across the valley. Maybe some other cyclists? I scarfed the bar, washed it down with some water, and headed down into the valley.

I headed up Randy's Trail to get to the top on the other side but I was quickly off the bike and walking. I found a ton of damage here that made the trail unrideable, or at least to the point that you shouldn't ride it. The water bars were even displaced! Anyway, I soldiered on to the top to find no one.

I was thinking that I had perhaps heard the Niner riders I saw earlier, but I think what I heard were horseman. I found fresh "road apples" piled at different places as I headed west along the ridge. Great! Horse poopy on my tires. Gotta love that!

I was looking for this sweet downhill section that ended near Dunning Springs that Bobby (Shrek) from Salsa and I did last year at the Ballyhoo. I must have made a wrong turn, because what I did find was a totally sketch downhill that was so rocky and steep that I had to get off and carefully hike down. Crap! Not what I had been looking for. It dumped me right out in Dunning Springs in the middle of a family picnic. Nice! "Um....hey! Sorry for barging in, but I was wondering if you had any leftover coleslaw." Heh heh! Yeah, I surprised them as much as they surprised me!

Then I headed back on Ice Cave Road to find the Dirty Blue Box. That road had suffered mudslides and rock falls, so it was also closed to traffic. Once back at the car, I saw the two Niner riders pulling out. I got my gear down loaded and headed over to T-Bock's for some brews and onion rings before I headed back to W'loo. A good three hours of riding and saw no one.

Maybe the local yahoos were out and about, but if they were, they were being stealth about it. Whatever, it was a great ride and I was glad that I made the trip. As for the Ballyhoo, yeah.....on the one hand it looked like I made a mistake, but after I saw the trails, well...... Let's just say that they were less than prime and probably would have been the cause of concern for sure if not injury. Not the best setting for a gathering of newbies to the system. I'm not placing the blame on anyone, (certainly, the DHPT has their hands full) but I am glad we cancelled it.

Definitely, the trails were way more difficult and challenging then they were before, and they are way tougher than anything else I have ridden here in the Mid-West. I will be back to learn more and become a better rider, that is for sure.

It just seemed weird that on a weekend that should have seen a whole bunch of riding going on that I was the only guy around, (The Niner riders not withstanding) It seemed like a ghost town when it should have been a boom town. Oh well........

Ghost Town



<===Most roads along the river in Decorah were closed due to flood damage.

I made the trip up to Decorah yesterday on what was to be the first day of The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. Of course, since it has been cancelled the weather has been top notch. Oh well!

I found some good things and some bad things. I'll get into that as the post unfolds here. The first thing I saw was that the campground was dry, but all the grass was matted down and covered in that dusty silt that you see when flood waters recede. Maybe it wouldn't have been a big deal, but I did notice that the ground was like cement and very rough and bumpy. Probably not a lot of fun to camp on, ya know?



<===Park road damage in the Pallisades

I started out the day by kitting up right out in the open, (hey, I have no shame!) and I noticed one other pair of riders on Niners just taking off as I was getting ready. They would be the only other mountain bikers I would see all afternoon.

I started riding up Pallisades Park road to warm up. I had the bike dialed and I was hoping for a good ride. I got started in on the trail going uphill. I started to notice that I felt out of it mentally. I don't know what it was, but I just didn't have my "A" game on. I was sloppy and I couldn't muster any motivation for tougher sections. I was starting to get a little down about myself, but I kept plugging along knowing that I'm a really slow starter. Sometimes it takes up to an hour for me to really come around.



<=== Trail damage in the Pallisades

I noticed several places on the down slopes that were washed clear of their top soil leaving behind limestone shale and plates that were loose and rather skittish. It reminded me of El Paso! Then there were several spots where the runoff had carved a deep rut just off the trail leaving a precarious drop to one side that demanded precise navigation to miss. I would have been greatly concerned had we held the event just because of these things which I found in what we were going to use as the demo loop. But things were even worse in other parts of the trail system.

I exited Pallisades and hit Larsen's Loop which I cleaned about 80% of. It's a very technical trail and one I'd like to master some day. It's also very tough getting in and out of that loop. I had one "fancy dismount" that saved me a 15 foot drop to sharp rocks that I was very proud of!

I got over to Van Peenen and found that the big main climb in was all loose rocks and was pretty dang tough. Although by this time into the ride I was finally getting my groove on. I cleaned the entire climb, thanks in part to the Fisher Hi Fi I was riding. Full suspension saved my bacon a bunch yesterday, I'll say that much!



<=== One of my favorite sections- Pines West

I headed over on a cutoff to the open meadow trail looking for signs of the local "ballyhoo-ers" but I never saw any signs of them. I even stopped to listen for "human activity", but all I heard was the gentle wind in the grass. Did I mention that it was perfect weather there?

After the Pines West section, which I love, I headed back around on Fred's Trail. I found a few more areas of concern where runoff had eaten into the trail at different points, but mainly this section was pretty fun. I felt great and things were clicking. I stopped for a Cliff Bar, since I felt hungry, and I heard some voices across the valley. Maybe some other cyclists? I scarfed the bar, washed it down with some water, and headed down into the valley.

I headed up Randy's Trail to get to the top on the other side but I was quickly off the bike and walking. I found a ton of damage here that made the trail unrideable, or at least to the point that you shouldn't ride it. The water bars were even displaced! Anyway, I soldiered on to the top to find no one.

I was thinking that I had perhaps heard the Niner riders I saw earlier, but I think what I heard were horseman. I found fresh "road apples" piled at different places as I headed west along the ridge. Great! Horse poopy on my tires. Gotta love that!

I was looking for this sweet downhill section that ended near Dunning Springs that Bobby (Shrek) from Salsa and I did last year at the Ballyhoo. I must have made a wrong turn, because what I did find was a totally sketch downhill that was so rocky and steep that I had to get off and carefully hike down. Crap! Not what I had been looking for. It dumped me right out in Dunning Springs in the middle of a family picnic. Nice! "Um....hey! Sorry for barging in, but I was wondering if you had any leftover coleslaw." Heh heh! Yeah, I surprised them as much as they surprised me!

Then I headed back on Ice Cave Road to find the Dirty Blue Box. That road had suffered mudslides and rock falls, so it was also closed to traffic. Once back at the car, I saw the two Niner riders pulling out. I got my gear down loaded and headed over to T-Bock's for some brews and onion rings before I headed back to W'loo. A good three hours of riding and saw no one.

Maybe the local yahoos were out and about, but if they were, they were being stealth about it. Whatever, it was a great ride and I was glad that I made the trip. As for the Ballyhoo, yeah.....on the one hand it looked like I made a mistake, but after I saw the trails, well...... Let's just say that they were less than prime and probably would have been the cause of concern for sure if not injury. Not the best setting for a gathering of newbies to the system. I'm not placing the blame on anyone, (certainly, the DHPT has their hands full) but I am glad we cancelled it.

Definitely, the trails were way more difficult and challenging then they were before, and they are way tougher than anything else I have ridden here in the Mid-West. I will be back to learn more and become a better rider, that is for sure.

It just seemed weird that on a weekend that should have seen a whole bunch of riding going on that I was the only guy around, (The Niner riders not withstanding) It seemed like a ghost town when it should have been a boom town. Oh well........

Saturday, June 21, 2008

You Can't Ride Here Anymore!: Part II

When I heard about the proposed ordinance in Dallas County that would force cycling events to obtain one million dollar insurance policies I had a few questions. Here they are and the answers that I got from Mark at the Iowa Bicycle Commission.

Question:"What I want to know is what types of rides are affected? Is this bill going to affect shop group rides, for instance? It seems to me that in cases like this that I have been paying attention to, the law is open ended enough that even if friends decide to meet for a group ride, and use say, the internet to arrange the ride, the law can be applied to infer that the ride was an "organzed ride" and therefore be subject to the penalty of that particular law, (whatever that ends up being in this case)"

Answer: "What types of rides? Any ride where it is advertised OR any ride withan entry fee. This includes internet and e-mail. We do not know what the number on the ordinance will be, but we have heard 10-20 people."

Question: "If there is an organized ride without insurance, and someone does get hurt and tries to sue, what happens then? Or what if no one gets hurt and the State finds out about the ride. What is the "punishment"? "

Answer: "What if someone sues and there is no insurance? The ride organizer isresponsible for the damages if they lose. If they sue the county -the county is ususally insured. If no insurance or form filed, the penalty is $750.

Mark closes out by saying this: "As I said, this is local to Dallas County, but if it passes, expect itto spread across the state, one county at a time. Also expect therules to be different in each county. They want to make it sodifficult that we have to beg for the legislature to fix this."

As you can see, if this doesn't get nipped in the bud, we can expect a time period where cycling on Iowa roadways will be difficult, if not impossible, in groups for any reason.

You Can't Ride Here Anymore!: Part II

When I heard about the proposed ordinance in Dallas County that would force cycling events to obtain one million dollar insurance policies I had a few questions. Here they are and the answers that I got from Mark at the Iowa Bicycle Commission.

Question:"What I want to know is what types of rides are affected? Is this bill going to affect shop group rides, for instance? It seems to me that in cases like this that I have been paying attention to, the law is open ended enough that even if friends decide to meet for a group ride, and use say, the internet to arrange the ride, the law can be applied to infer that the ride was an "organzed ride" and therefore be subject to the penalty of that particular law, (whatever that ends up being in this case)"

Answer: "What types of rides? Any ride where it is advertised OR any ride withan entry fee. This includes internet and e-mail. We do not know what the number on the ordinance will be, but we have heard 10-20 people."

Question: "If there is an organized ride without insurance, and someone does get hurt and tries to sue, what happens then? Or what if no one gets hurt and the State finds out about the ride. What is the "punishment"? "

Answer: "What if someone sues and there is no insurance? The ride organizer isresponsible for the damages if they lose. If they sue the county -the county is ususally insured. If no insurance or form filed, the penalty is $750.

Mark closes out by saying this: "As I said, this is local to Dallas County, but if it passes, expect itto spread across the state, one county at a time. Also expect therules to be different in each county. They want to make it sodifficult that we have to beg for the legislature to fix this."

As you can see, if this doesn't get nipped in the bud, we can expect a time period where cycling on Iowa roadways will be difficult, if not impossible, in groups for any reason.

Friday, June 20, 2008

You Can't Ride Here Anymore!

Yesterday I recieved a comment in regards to a proposed ordinance in Dallas County that would require "bicycle events" to obtain insurance in order to hold their event/ride in that particular county. This comment was made by Mark Wyatt who is the head honch at the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. (Thanks Mark!) Here is a little back round as to why this might be happening.

If you click through that last hyperlink and read the article, the essence of it all is that the Counties are taking the stand that the roadways are "designed for intended users". This is left to interpretation to mean that cyclists are not intended to use Iowa roadways. This is clearly at odds with Iowa Code which states that bicycles are allowed on Iowa roadways.

Why would the Counties of Iowa be looking at these sorts of ordinances/laws? Simply put, it's all about money. Money that the Counties are afraid of losing due to lawsuits that might arise from a death or injury incurred during an "organized cycling event". Take a look at the comment left yesterday here:

On June 24th at 9:30 am the Dallas County Board of Supervisors will meet at the Adel City Hall, 301 S. 10th Street Adel, IA 50003, to discuss an ordinance that will require bicycle events to obtain $1 million insurance policies for bicycle events. This could effect rides as small as 10-20 people.

1. Iowa Code 321.234 gives bicyclists the same rights and duties of a motorist. The proposed ordinance is a specific requirement placed on bicycles and does not include other vehicular events that occur in the public right-of-way such as MotorIoway and the WMT Tractorcade. This proposed ordinance is in conflict with Iowa Code.

2. The requirement to provide insurance notification to the counties may actually increase the liability levels for the county by giving them notice a bicycle event will take place.

3. The requirement of additional insured certificates may only protect the counties for the actions of the organizers of the ride. The actions of the county may not be covered under the ride organizer's insurance policies.

4. Requiring insurance for small bike rides may end organized training rides, like the Dream Team, scout groups, bike clubs and other groups.Please attend the meeting on June 24th at 9:30 AM to make your feelings known.

So, as you can see, a lot of "fun" rides that take place all over the state are in jeapordy of being made to put up money to insure their events at such a high rate that in all likelyhood, the rides will cease. How do I know this? Well, Trans Iowa has dealt with this very issue of insurance before and I can tell you, it isn't cheap. The entry fee that would be necessary to cover the rides in question would ostensibly put an end to them due to the high cost to cyclists.

Then you have "interpretation" of such an ordinance to deal with as well. What does this mean for "organized shop rides", regular group rides, or just a bunch of friends who organize a ride for the heck of it? How would such an ordinance be enforced and what would the penalty for "non-compliance" be? As you can see, leaving alone the fact that this ordinance is unfair to cyclists, the very nature of the ordinance invites all sorts of other legal mumbo-jumbo and should therefore be declared of the devil and be swiftly thwarted before it gets beyond the talking phases.

And you Dallas County cyclists out there, how would it make you feel to know that you will be joining the ranks of Crawford County in that your roads will be declared "unfit for cycling"? It seems that unless cyclists begin to stand up and declare their rights, Iowa may become a state where cyclists are effectively banned from roadways because counties are misguided in their attempts to protect themselves from "possible lawsuits" and absolving themselves from maintaining the roadways in a manner that would be safe for two wheeled travelers.

What's next? A ban on motorcycles? It isn't that far fetched folks!

You Can't Ride Here Anymore!

Yesterday I recieved a comment in regards to a proposed ordinance in Dallas County that would require "bicycle events" to obtain insurance in order to hold their event/ride in that particular county. This comment was made by Mark Wyatt who is the head honch at the Iowa Bicycle Coalition. (Thanks Mark!) Here is a little back round as to why this might be happening.

If you click through that last hyperlink and read the article, the essence of it all is that the Counties are taking the stand that the roadways are "designed for intended users". This is left to interpretation to mean that cyclists are not intended to use Iowa roadways. This is clearly at odds with Iowa Code which states that bicycles are allowed on Iowa roadways.

Why would the Counties of Iowa be looking at these sorts of ordinances/laws? Simply put, it's all about money. Money that the Counties are afraid of losing due to lawsuits that might arise from a death or injury incurred during an "organized cycling event". Take a look at the comment left yesterday here:

On June 24th at 9:30 am the Dallas County Board of Supervisors will meet at the Adel City Hall, 301 S. 10th Street Adel, IA 50003, to discuss an ordinance that will require bicycle events to obtain $1 million insurance policies for bicycle events. This could effect rides as small as 10-20 people.

1. Iowa Code 321.234 gives bicyclists the same rights and duties of a motorist. The proposed ordinance is a specific requirement placed on bicycles and does not include other vehicular events that occur in the public right-of-way such as MotorIoway and the WMT Tractorcade. This proposed ordinance is in conflict with Iowa Code.

2. The requirement to provide insurance notification to the counties may actually increase the liability levels for the county by giving them notice a bicycle event will take place.

3. The requirement of additional insured certificates may only protect the counties for the actions of the organizers of the ride. The actions of the county may not be covered under the ride organizer's insurance policies.

4. Requiring insurance for small bike rides may end organized training rides, like the Dream Team, scout groups, bike clubs and other groups.Please attend the meeting on June 24th at 9:30 AM to make your feelings known.

So, as you can see, a lot of "fun" rides that take place all over the state are in jeapordy of being made to put up money to insure their events at such a high rate that in all likelyhood, the rides will cease. How do I know this? Well, Trans Iowa has dealt with this very issue of insurance before and I can tell you, it isn't cheap. The entry fee that would be necessary to cover the rides in question would ostensibly put an end to them due to the high cost to cyclists.

Then you have "interpretation" of such an ordinance to deal with as well. What does this mean for "organized shop rides", regular group rides, or just a bunch of friends who organize a ride for the heck of it? How would such an ordinance be enforced and what would the penalty for "non-compliance" be? As you can see, leaving alone the fact that this ordinance is unfair to cyclists, the very nature of the ordinance invites all sorts of other legal mumbo-jumbo and should therefore be declared of the devil and be swiftly thwarted before it gets beyond the talking phases.

And you Dallas County cyclists out there, how would it make you feel to know that you will be joining the ranks of Crawford County in that your roads will be declared "unfit for cycling"? It seems that unless cyclists begin to stand up and declare their rights, Iowa may become a state where cyclists are effectively banned from roadways because counties are misguided in their attempts to protect themselves from "possible lawsuits" and absolving themselves from maintaining the roadways in a manner that would be safe for two wheeled travelers.

What's next? A ban on motorcycles? It isn't that far fetched folks!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Something New To Play With



Note: All photos courtesy of Captain Bob.

<===The Soul Cycles Dillinger test sled

Awhile back I had hinted that Captain Bob and I would have something special built up to test out over the summer months. Well.........here it is!








<===The AluScraper seat post from BBB Components

We have a full compliment of BBB Components on this rig to test out. (By the way, "BBB" stands for "Bike parts by Bikers for Bikers") BBB is a European company that sponsors a few pro road squads and makes a varied palette of cycling goodies.

This seat post is a no nonsense sort of component. 400mm in length and it looks to be pretty tough. 246 grams in weight for this 27.2 example. It's got a two bolt clamp which is pretty standard for quality posts these days.

Smallish logo looks understated and doesn't take away from the spartan appearance of this post.






<===UltraForce stem

The stem continues with the understated look. It is a very nicely made piece executed in 2014 alloy and 3D forged. It has a paltry weight of about 134 grams. It seems very smartly made though. Four bolt clamp should keep the 31.8mm SkyBar in place. It is a 6061-T6 piece with 35mm rise and 10 degree back sweep. It weighs in at 336 grams. it is pretty stout!




<===Selle San Marco saddle for Captain Bob's bum!

We also received this Selle San Marco Caymano saddle to mount up on the BBB post. It is a pretty well made Italian saddle and weighs in at 170 grams. Unfortunately, it doesn't agree with my tush at all, so Captain Bob will be putting this perch to the test, not me!






<===RoundAbout chain ring

The chain ring is also a BBB piece called the "RoundAbout" (which always makes that "Yes" tune start spinning in my head!) We're spinning the 34T version here though and it is 7075-T6 alloy ring. We will be single speeding this one, but it has some rad looking CNC'ed ramps on the back side for you shifter freaks out there.

A couple of other things to note here. We are also using a BBB TurnAround headset on this Soul Cycles Dillinger which Captain Bob and I will be test riding around these parts most of the rest of the year. Look for us and ask for a ride! Another interesting bit that should find its way onto this rig is a Spinner "2 Nine" fork which we may be getting soon to check out. It has an air spring, lock out, and rebound control. It looks much like the RST M-29 which I thought was an excellent fork last year. Perhaps we'll get the chance to put the Spinner through the wringer this summer and see if it measures up.

All of these components are to be reviewed and tested on The Bike Lab and Twenty Nine Inches. So, look for more on this stuff there in the future.

Something New To Play With



Note: All photos courtesy of Captain Bob.

<===The Soul Cycles Dillinger test sled

Awhile back I had hinted that Captain Bob and I would have something special built up to test out over the summer months. Well.........here it is!








<===The AluScraper seat post from BBB Components

We have a full compliment of BBB Components on this rig to test out. (By the way, "BBB" stands for "Bike parts by Bikers for Bikers") BBB is a European company that sponsors a few pro road squads and makes a varied palette of cycling goodies.

This seat post is a no nonsense sort of component. 400mm in length and it looks to be pretty tough. 246 grams in weight for this 27.2 example. It's got a two bolt clamp which is pretty standard for quality posts these days.

Smallish logo looks understated and doesn't take away from the spartan appearance of this post.






<===UltraForce stem

The stem continues with the understated look. It is a very nicely made piece executed in 2014 alloy and 3D forged. It has a paltry weight of about 134 grams. It seems very smartly made though. Four bolt clamp should keep the 31.8mm SkyBar in place. It is a 6061-T6 piece with 35mm rise and 10 degree back sweep. It weighs in at 336 grams. it is pretty stout!




<===Selle San Marco saddle for Captain Bob's bum!

We also received this Selle San Marco Caymano saddle to mount up on the BBB post. It is a pretty well made Italian saddle and weighs in at 170 grams. Unfortunately, it doesn't agree with my tush at all, so Captain Bob will be putting this perch to the test, not me!






<===RoundAbout chain ring

The chain ring is also a BBB piece called the "RoundAbout" (which always makes that "Yes" tune start spinning in my head!) We're spinning the 34T version here though and it is 7075-T6 alloy ring. We will be single speeding this one, but it has some rad looking CNC'ed ramps on the back side for you shifter freaks out there.

A couple of other things to note here. We are also using a BBB TurnAround headset on this Soul Cycles Dillinger which Captain Bob and I will be test riding around these parts most of the rest of the year. Look for us and ask for a ride! Another interesting bit that should find its way onto this rig is a Spinner "2 Nine" fork which we may be getting soon to check out. It has an air spring, lock out, and rebound control. It looks much like the RST M-29 which I thought was an excellent fork last year. Perhaps we'll get the chance to put the Spinner through the wringer this summer and see if it measures up.

All of these components are to be reviewed and tested on The Bike Lab and Twenty Nine Inches. So, look for more on this stuff there in the future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Some Sol Sessions Notes



<===Who needs Leadville when you can bring home hardware like this!

Well, the Salsa Cycles "Sol Sessions" are still going on up in the Cable area of Wisconsin, but I'm back home now. What a trip! And at the perfect time too. We needed to get away and clear our minds after all that has gone down around here this spring. We had great friends surrounding us and we had a great time with them. Thank you one and all, and I know some of you read this blog, so this means you!




<===Check out the details in this buckle. It is absolutely HUGE too!

The best part of the trip? Well, that's too hard to say. I know one highlight that I can share here is that riding the new Big Mama was sooo much fun. I said to Jason that the really cool thing about it was that it was a new bike to me, but I felt totally safe and confident in letting it rip on the downhills. It had tires I had never ridden before too, so that says a lot, I think. It climbed really well too. I think it would make a perfect endurance rig, really. Jason says it's an "all day kind of bike", but I would say it's an "all day-all night" kind of bike!




<===Sheesh! 25 years already?

The bikes will come spec'ed with a pretty Shimano XT heavy spec. I got to ride the XT stuff this past weekend too and it is pretty dang nice. Hard to fault the shifting of the Rapid Fire triggers and the Shadow rear derailleur. Man! That stuff shifted whenever and where ever I wanted. Load, no load, no problems.

Jason has raved about the XT brakes to me for quite some time now. I thought they were nice, but still not quite dialed in to how well I can make my Avid BB-7's feel. Power? It had gobs of it, and it was sorta controllable. I could have gotten used to it, but I thought the "modulation window" from pad contact to full lock up was still too small for my tastes. I still was getting that "whoops!" too much brake thing from time to time where you feel the wheels start to lock up and your weight shifting forward quickly. Not fun! Again, I could have learned how to get along with them and they are fantastic brakes when your mind starts to mesh with the way they work, it's just that I prefer a little more modulation in my brakes if I can have it.

The Big Mama. Yeah........it is on my radar! I'm pretty sold on it. They will be available as a frame set in September. Complete bike in January. Gonna have to get myself one of these for sure!