Sunday, November 30, 2008

Turkey Burn III Ride Report

Well, the Turkey Burn is in the bag after a successful ride event Saturday. There were 10 guys in total that showed up for some scrambling around on some frozen, leaf strewn trails. Fun was had. No fouls were committed or suffered. Thanks to Jeremy Bidwell and Casey Dean for all the efforts throughout 2008 and for this little get together. It was a lot of fun for sure!

It all started for me when I loaded up the car and met my co-worker Craig for the trip north to the trails at 7:30am. It was cold! Probably in the teens when we got there with little to no wind, fortunately. I was surprised to see a couple of guys from out of town that showed up. They had heard about the ride and came over since they were back for Thanksgiving. Cool!

We all lined up after the service road climb to get into the single track. I took last in line, since I had no idea if my body would co-operate with me or not at this point. Plus, I was on a single speed with a lot of very fit younger riders all around me. I didn't want to hold them up if they wanted to go fast!

Well, turns out that they did want to run at a fairly spirited pace. When the trail started climbing, I let them go on. Captain Bob was kind enough to hang back with me for awhile, but then he went on ahead too. I turned out to be able to only go at a "casual" pace but I was working pretty hard to do it. If the trail went up, my legs just didn't have anything for it, and in fact, they felt sore and painful the entire ride. Oh well!

I completed one big loop with the guys and headed back to the cars with Captain Bob and another young man, (Sorry! I can't recall your name!) so Captain could switch bikes and the other guy had to leave. We ended up having MTBidwell come along too. The rest of the crew went out for another shorter loop.

Back at the cars, we noticed that one of the other riders, a local- Tom K- had a flat tire on his pickem-up truck. So we called Casey D and let him know to tell him about it. Not long after, Tom K was back, and was getting his truck jacked up. A couple of the other guys showed up that were out riding by this time, and some checked out to go home. I suppose this all took about a half an hour, at least.

I had thoughts of packing it in, but I needed to get some photos, so I jetted off for "The Pines" and took some shots. I decided to go ahead an make another loop of it. Legs felt better, but still not great. At least I didn't feel as sluggish now and I had a little snap on the climbs. Still no where as good as it could be.

Once back at the car, I could see that Captain, Jeremy, and Craig from the shop all had gone out again for one last loop. The last of the Turkey Burners for '08. I loaded up and headed home. I probably got an hour and a half of riding in. Not bad, but it took a toll on me! Once I got home and changed, I ate, and then fell asleep for about two hours. Then I awoke to a very stiff, painful body. Wow! I haven't hurt that bad in a long time.

In typical Turkey Burn fashion, the ride marked the last of the "good" weather to ride in, since it snowed last night! Guess I will be taking it easy anyway to see if maybe I just need to rest a bit. Hopefully a short break will allow me to recover from this what ever it is" that is going on with me. Anyway, thanks to all that came out yesterday. It was still a great time for me, regardless of my condition.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Burn Today

Today is the "Turkey Burn III" up at Camp Ingawanis. I'm going to be riding a single speed for the better part of the day up there, which should prove to be interesting, given my latest "funk" that I've been in.
I made a change in wheel sets to the Edge Composites wheels that I had on the Badger for awhile. I figured using them in a single speed situation would put a bit more stress on them. Maybe I'll bottom out the rims here and there on some roots too, which will be good for testing purposes. We'll see. I have to survive riding a single speed first off!
I may be bringing out my El Mariachi today too. I have that set up differently now with a Bontrager Switchblade fork and Race X Lite wheels set up with Specialized Fast Trak LK's tubeless. It's a "go fast" set up for sure. Those Fast Traks are skinny and the wheels are light. Plus, it has gears! Might be a bail out solution should the single speed prove too demanding today for my weakened condition. Or whatever is going on with me.
I have been feeling better the last two days, so no alarms going off here, just not up to snuff in terms of my bodies performance lately and I am a bit concerned. I "ran" with my son around the block on Thanksgiving about three times. I call it "kid intervals", since he runs for a bit, then stops or walks, then runs again. Anyway, I felt a lot better in terms of my legs afterwards, so that was good.
I'll have a complete report from the "Turkey Burn III" with pics coming up Sunday, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday News And Views

Random ramblings today. Enjoy!

The Funk?: Lately I've experienced a couple rides in a row that have been characterized by a sluggishness, and general fatigue. Last Wednesday's ride was marked by really sore legs during and afterwards. I'm not sure if I'm just "over training" (A rather ironic term, since I am not really training for anything at the moment), or perhaps I have some low grade "funk". I hear a lot of crud is going around. Whatever it is, I wish it would just go away!

Testing, testing, testing... So the testing continues. Wednesday was the Fargo/Geax combo and more HiFi/Rock Shox riding. Even though I haven't been feeling so great, the riding has been fantastic. Dry, warm enough, and actually beautiful out there. Testing is a fun part of my gig with Twenty Nine Inches. I am blessed to be able to ride a lot of really cool stuff. Still, it's a job too, so even if I am not "feeling it" during a ride, I have to keep on keepin' on to get what I need figured out. More testing and fun will be had on Saturday when I attend the Turkey Burn III at Camp Ingawanis.

Trans Iowa Recon: If it ever freezes up, I think the final little bit of T.I.V5 recon we need to get done will happen. But not until we can safely traverse some dirt roads. I think we have about 25 miles to confirm yet and it'll be time to start working on cue sheets and after that, verifying the whole shebang again. That'll tie up all the route finding and cue sheet stuff for T.IV5 with a final run of the course to be done just previous to the event to make sure the route is good to go.

Want to Volunteer?: Now it is time to start thinking about a volunteer force to help run this gig. I'll be danged if three former volunteers aren't actually doing the event this year, so my past pool of volunteers isn't as big as it once was. And don't be fooled! It never was a very big pool! So....if yer so inclined to be standing around in weird places in Iowa on the first weekend in May, 2009, please give me a shout. I'll get you hooked up. We have three checkpoints this year, but in a stroke of pure luck, I think it may be possible to man the checkpoints with only two crews. It would give an individual a great chance to follow the event in a very unique way. I will say that being "inside" T.I. is a very rewarding experience. If you are curious, this is a great way to find out what it takes from both an organizational point of view, and a rider's point of view.

Okay, get out and ride if you can! Start burning that turkey now!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

There's a lot that I'm thankful for in 2008, so I'm busy doing some thanksgiving.
I hope your holiday is joyous and safe!
I'll be back Friday with a regular post.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday News And Views

Test Session Today: Today I've got some things planned that I hope pan out. Twenty Nine Inches has a lot going on right now and I need to get some stuff ridden today up at the Camp. The bikes are ready and so am I. I just hope the weather does what they predicted and the riding is good. Here's what is on tap........

Salsa Fargo: This bike is on test and I have "evolved" it a bit more with the conversion to a 180mm front rotor, and tubeless Geax Saguaro tires on Mavic Cr29max wheels. I want to get some "real" single track testing done. (Not that I don't already know the answer I'll get on this!) After that, the Fargo will go into commuter/touring mode where I'll rack and fender the bike up to see how versatile this bike really is.

Fisher HiFi Deluxe with Rock Shox Reba Team 120mm fork: It seems that the "natives are restless" and want to know more about the combination of the new Reba fork with the HiFi platform. They want hard numbers, they want ride performance feed back, and they want it now! Well, I aim to please, so I'll be finding out what I need to know to satisfy their desires today out at the Camp.

Turkey Burn III: Speaking of the Camp, if you are a local and can peel yerself outta the sack early enough, come on out and enjoy this little group ride planned for Saturday, November 29th at 8:00 am until Noon. I will be planning on being there testing some more product. (Most likely the Milwaukee Bicycle Company 29"er. ) This is a fun ride and may be the last hurrah of 2008 as far as any get togethers on bikes are concerned. Certainly it was last year, since after the 2007 Turkey Burn Ride we had about 3 inches of slush come down, freeze into a rock hard layer and not leave us until late March of this year. That effectively shut down the off roading here for a long time!

These Times Are A Changin': Well, you are pretty insulated, blind, and/or deaf if you don't know that the economic upheavals are going on now. Nobody likes change, but it happens every so often in this economy of ours. How does this affect cycling? Well, it probably won't much. Here's why: Traditionally cycling weathers economic storms rather well. I don't know that anyone has a definite answer as to why that is, but take a look at recent history. The 70's were marked by several economic upheavals, yet one of cycling's biggest booms occurred in that decade. The 80's started out really glum, yet a certain "new" cycling fad was introduced and flourished. It was not squashed by the economics of the day, although it was probably not the best time for it to take off in light of the economic turmoil that went on then. What was "it"? Mountain bikes.

Are we in for another boom time in cycling? Maybe. Gas prices over the last three years have helped spark a resurgence in urban cycling for sure that seems to have taken root and grown. Gas prices are now at all time lows, which hasn't seemed to slow things up much, at least not where I'm working. We'll see, but I think it's fair to say that cycling will survive, and has a great chance at thriving during this time of change and upheaval.

Which brings me to.... Tomorrow we stop to do something that maybe we all ought to take pause and really concentrate on. Giving thanks. Yeah....there are lots of reasons to grumble. Jobs lost, stocks losing value, and a general fear has gripped many. But, do you realize there are millions that would take your place in a heartbeat? Millions that are suffering far worse fates than you who may have lost part of your retirement, lost a job, or a house. We still are a rich, rich nation folks. In the overall perspective of things, we have so much to be thankful for that we should, and could go on about that all year long. If you are a cyclist, and you can get out on a ride in the next few days, clear your head of all the cultural hoopla for a bit, and give thanks for the blessings you have. Can't think of anything? Here.....let me help you out! Check out that thing you're riding, and think of your ability to ride it. There's two things to be thankful for right there, ya ninny!

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Holiday!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Touring Tuesdays: Day Two-Bluff Country Part II

We rejoin the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" as it rolls into Rushford, Minnesota.....

Here the Root River Trail ended. We were in the first "real city" we had been in all day. We could see bluffs all around us. That brought one thing straight into our minds: That the road ahead would be anything but level. For now though, we gave our full attention to the local grocery store.

Here I was instructed to get Pop Tarts, the "manna" of the tour. We once again parked ourselves on the curb in front and ate our fill. Disconcerted shoppers scurried by us, not quite knowing what to make of vagabonds of our sort.

We decided to leave town eastwards, on State 16 towards Huston. We found that the road had a paved shoulder, which was good. We also found a supply of hills. These hills were quite challenging for me and I often found myself off the back going up. Coming down though, gravity was my friend. Outweighing my companions by a good 75 pounds gave me a distinct gravity assisted boost. This allowed me to keep up with the other two; although I didn't enjoy my yo-yo pace much.

We were entering Huston, Minnesota, and we could tell, since they had a brightly painted sign at the edge of town proclaiming their burg as "the entrance to Bluff Country". Ha! The irony was not lost on us, and we stopped and took our pitures under the sign that bright, partly cloudy day. Afterwards, we found a convenience store to raid for early afternoon refueling.

As I pointed out earier, children were always very curious of us and our doings. Always willing to talk. Such was the case with Andrew of Huston. It seemed that Andrew's brother was alazy lout, as he was reported to be still sleeping, and Andrew's dad worked in a local turkey processing plant. He also informed us that there wasn't much to do in Huston, Minnesota. The one thing Andrew told us that we were particularly interested in, I didn't like hearing.

"How are the hills east of town here?", Steve asked of the young man.

He promptly replied, "They're hilly."

"That's not the right answer, son.", I told him with a smile. "Try again. I think you know a better answer!"

Actually, Andrew did say that there was one doozy of a hill just outside of town, then it was pretty much going to be okay until the halfway point to Hokah. There he claimed there was another great hill. You know what? That little shaver was right!

That second hill- the one halfway to Hokah? Oh My! But I made it okay. Overall, I wasn't a hindrance to the others as I feared. maybe just a nuisance, or possibly a pest, but I made it. In fact, I felt in a groove, going my own pace up those hills.

Well, there isn't much to say about Hokah except that we went through it and pushed onwards towards Le Crescent where we would cross the Mississippi. Troy was anxious to put in some miles now. He was regretting all the morning stops. At Hokah, we were obliged to turn northwards and into a headwind. Troy let me draft behind him, and the Steve switched off with him and led me for awhile. Our pace was fast and we did not stop at Le Crescent. Well, except for traffic lights. Traffic was heavy here, as it is around all bridges leading over the "Mighty Miss".

We pushed on now towards the bridge and we were cruising on the right hand lane of a four lane highway. No headwind and a steady downhill to the river gave some slight relief to me here. We finally reached the bridge over the main channel, a two lane affair high above the river itself. I noticed that the bridge had an adjoining sidewalk which I desired to take. I noticed that Steve took no interest in getting on it and Troy was following him on a string. I yelled out, "Hey! Aren't we taking the...." Too late! The din of traffic drowned me out.

The sound of the car tires was very distinct and brought to mind one thing- Open grating! I don't like high places at all, so I kept my gaze fixed straight ahead and pedaled like a madman. Fear is a great motivator! I sped across and actually caught up with Troy and Steve. The steel knobs sticking up at each intersection of grating was a little tough to negotiate though. Apparently they are a reverse form of studded tires. This is what accounted for the loud noise of the tires all around me.

The bridge was past us now, but it was out of the frying pan and into the fire. Traffic was thick and loud. We did not have any clear idea of where we should go.

Next time the city of La Crosse and into Wisconsin. Stay tuned.............

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday Ride Blues

Sunday and I went for a ride, but it was one of those rides I never really quite got into the groove of. I suppose I went about 25 miles before I packed it in. Just felt tired the whole time,like I could have just hung my head and slept while riding at any moment. Weird! I took the Fargo which worked flawlessly. What a comfortable frame and fork!

I took off down the bike path towards Hudson, took the Cedar Falls cut off around the Supervisors Club, Ace Fogdahl, Wal-Mart, down to College Square, past Deery's, past Pfieffer Park, through lower Hartman, (Shirey Way) along the old river road, past Cattle Congress, across the Sans Souci bridge, down the new bike path, across the river, and to the new construction along the riverfront.

I rode down along the flood wall on new bike path and then onto the fill in the river that allows the construction equipment access to the project. The Fargo was perfect for this, and my curiousity of construction sites didn't hurt either. I've been like that since I was a kid.

I rested a bit, looked around, and grabbed the camera. Ever since I've been "exposed" to Jason Boucher and Captain Bob I've gotten a bit of that shutter bug rubbed off on me. So much so that I'm going to start referring to these as my "JB" shots. (He's waaaay better than I am though!)

Waterloo is somewhat of an ironic community. Always looking like it is "under construction". Tearing down and building up. It's been that way all the 27 years I've been around here. Now the past floods have added another aspect to this. Destruction, despair, construction, re-birth.

Riding where there is supposed to be a river is cool. I always marvel at the extent humans will go to place something somewhere on the earth. All the energies and resources to do this seem sort of odd and excessive. Even though it's for recreational purposes, and is supposedly going to upgrade our living experiences. The efforts here seem out of place when just upstream there is still a complete roof jammed against a tree and flotsam and jetsam all up and down the river.

And finally, here is the shot I just had to take. I am standing on a temporary dirt path for construction equipment that put me right in the middle of where the river normally flows. This is looking downstream just underneath the 4th Street Bridge. You can see the broken down rail road bridge, still where it fell back in June. I wonder how long that will sit there and decay while all the other stuff gets built up around it. Strange I say.....Just strange!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday News And Views

UST 29"er Tires: The UST barrier has been finally crossed for 29"er tires with the introduction of the Saguaro UST. Geax also has introduced a "TNT" version, which is a tubeless ready concept tire. You can use it tubeless, but it requires sealant to keep the air in the tire. UST Saguaros will not require any sealant.
I have a set of each for testing on Twenty Nine Inches, so updates will happen over there. I will say that the TNT version fits so dang tight that I can not mount it on a Bontrager Tubeless Ready Race X Lite rim. No way! I barely got the thing on a Salsa Delgado Disc rim last night and I will let it stretch there before I try to mount it on another tubeless wheel I have. Crazy! The TNT version fits even tighter than the full UST version, which really surprised me.
The Waiting Listers Are Restless!: In Trans Iowa news, I have found that the waiting listers are restless, wanting to know their place in line, and wondering when they will get on the roster. Will I post a "Waiting List" Well, no.......I won't post a list. I might e-mail you back with your place in line later. It is not a priority for me. I'm doing it as a favor, and as always, the less work the better for me concerning Trans Iowa. Maintaining this Waiting List needs to be simple, or it won't happen. I've got waaaay too many other irons in the fire as it is. So posting a list for the world to see isn't a high priority for me, plus, it wouldn't change anything, nor help anybody. You are on the Waiting List if you do not see your name on the roster. I will confirm your post cards arrival via e-mail when I have a chance, but that is it. Otherwise, you'll have to wait to hear from me when/if a spot becomes available. If that doesn't suit you, then e-mail me and let me know that you will not want to be on the list. I'm okay with that, ' know! It makes it easier for me! Not to be harsh, but that is my reality.
Also, we are currently about to announce a new sponsor for Trans Iowa that will be supplying a killer prize for the winner overall. I can not say anything more at the moment. Trans Iowa isn't about prizing, as we have said, but his deal would certainly sweeten the pot! Stay tuned, we'll announce something when we can.
Camp Ingawanis News: For those locals that are familiar with Camp Ingawanis' mountain biking, here is the scoop for your late fall riding opportunities. From an e-mail circulated by IMBA: "The North Side of Camp is open for riding all day every day.South Side remains off limits during hunting season except for after 7o'clock pm. Bring your lights!" Also, the spring race is confirmed in the IORCA series once again, so look for updates on hat on the site linked above in the future.
Finally, the "Turkey Burn III" is going to happen up at the Camp a week from this Saturday, so you locals should make plans to show up and ride the Camp's North Side trails and enjoy some end of the year camaraderie. See you there!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Getting The Timing Right For A Change

Wednesday I had planned on hitting up the Cedar Bend Park for some test rides of equipment being reviewed on Twenty Nine Inches. I brought out the HiFi Deluxe with the new Rock Shox Reba Team fork installed first. It was really bright, sunny, and the temps were cool, but not really bad at all. I got the 20mm thru-axle Maxle Lite figured out in a heartbeat, and took off to see how the Reba would do with the HiFi. It wasn't long before I found something I didn't like.

It wasn't the fork, or even the bike, it was hunters! I just about turned around and went home because having guys walking around with guns where I am riding isn't my cup-o-tea, ya know? Well, it turned out that they were headed in a direction that left me with about half the western end of the park, so I just used that until they had left not much more than 45 minutes later.
It was getting warmer, so when I got back to the Dirty Blue Box, which is turning into Guitar Ted's Mobile Test Lab, I shed the outer layer and was comfortable with a wool jersey over a regular cycling jersey. In November? was awesome!

I then pulled out this bike, the by now very familiar Blackbuck, to test the Specialized Captain Controls I installed on it. The Blackbuck is back to rolling the original Surly/Delgado Disc wheel set. It all made for a fast, smooth ride. Well, as smooth as a hard tail gets! The HiFi was super plush and felt like I was riding up in a huge monster truck. I could go over anything and barely feel it. On the Blackbuck, I felt lower, more "in the bike", and more agile like a sports car. It was a fun ride and I was able to climb everything I did the week before on the Milwaukee Bicycle Company 29'er with one tooth less in the rear on the Blackbuck.
It was sort of ironic when I found myself chasing a doe on the trail while riding a Blackbuck. Must be the time of year! Then not ten minutes later, I run around a corner to see a nice, big buck staring me down from about 60 yards. I stopped and he ran up the hill side and stopped dead still. I positioned my self so that my line of sight to him was obscured by a tree and I sat motionless.
If you have never done this, it is a hoot, really. Playing with the buck, I sat as motionless as possible, while he tried to figure out where I had disappeared to. I was upwind of him, so perhaps he could smell me too, but not being able to see me was driving him nuts. I could tell by his head poking around enough to look for me. Once he saw me sitting there, he stared me down. I sat motionless. The buck started getting antsy, putting his head down and then looking back again at me. He was trying to figure out if I was going to eat him or eat grass. Finally, after about five minutes, he walked about 20 yards further up the hill until I couldn't see him anymore.
Well, my calf was starting to cramp from holding myself in position on my bike. So I started riding slowly. Well, that was what the ol' crafty buck was wanting to see. He ran slowly away, satisfied that I was indeed something not very friendly, but not pursuing him either. I got closer to where I had seen him and I heard a commotion. It was about half a dozen does. very smart and busy buck, I see!
I got back to the car about 10 minutes after noon and packed up my things and headed for home to eat. I was really hungry! After eating, I pulled out the next and final rig to ride for the day, my old Raleigh XXIX+G.

This bike hasn't gotten any love all year since I whacked the old SRAM derailleur off it when my chain broke. It sat torn down to the frame for most of the year. Well, now its back and in black and white! I installed some Quad brand brakes, a KORE B-52 stem, and my white Bontrager Inform saddle. I need a new red seat collar yet to match my red Acros headset. Eventually I will be getting a new front derailleur, and a few other bits before I can say it is done. I am liking the way it looks so far and the ride is okay. I mean, it is a fully rigid bike, so it has its drawbacks. I will be installing a Racing Ralph up front to ease the pain a bit!
By the time I rode the Raleigh home, the skies were darkening and the temps were going down as a strong Northwesterly wind fired up. Wow! I got the timing right on this day. Within an hour after I returned home, it was blustery and getting cold. I was done riding for the day though, so I was good with that.
It isn't often that you get a chance like this in mid November, and I got to take advantage of it. WooHoo!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Trans Iowa Post Card Madness: In Pictures!

Some examples of the Trans Iowa V5 post cards here. These are some of my favorites, and I thought it would be fun to share this with you all. Why should I have all the fun, right?

This example above is representative of the "primitive" type cards I got. I like the simple charm of them.

Here we have a good example of what I call the "artistic" type, homemade cards. The top one is a photo taken by J-Kove hisself, the originator of all this Trans Iowa madness!

Here we have examples of cards that come in with messages that show me a lot of you "get it" when it comes to things like Trans Iowa.

Once in awhile I get cards like these. Either they are a reflection of how the entrant feels about what it is like to go through a Trans Iowa, or it is a representation of what goes on inside their chamois.......or maybe it's both!

This was one of my favorites and got the "Mrs. Guitar Ted's Choice Award". Congrats!

Local rider Jeremy Fry goes by the nic-name "Fat Albert", or just "Fatty", so now you understand what the meaning here is. Oh is a real sixer of Fat Tire Ale! Purty classy for an oaf like me!

Okay, here are my nominees for the two best Trans Iowa V5 post cards. The one on the left is by Gary Cale, who did the now infamous "Kick In The Junk" artwork from T.I.V4, which I featured last week on the blog here. Michael Beck does a take off on that "kick" theme with his offering on the right, entitled "Kickin' It Hard". I'm pretty torn between these two cards, so ya'all have ta help me out here.

Who wins?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Touring Tuesdays: Day Two- Bluff Country

We rejoin the tale of the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" with the beginning of Day Two that started out at the Old Barn campground on the Root River Trail.

Day two dawned cool and overcast. We had our first breakfast on the road: oatmeal. We decided to cover the Root River Trail north eastwards. We left around 7:30 am or so and hit the trail. The trail was overgrown above with trees and was made darker by their shadows. The sumac was already turning red and the hint of fall was seen here and there in the woods as we sped on our way. Well, maybe that is too strong a word for our early morning travel. Troy complained of, "...legs that feel like lead." I should have been making that complaint, but I felt fine. Before I left I stretched out according to Steve's directions and had some ibuprofen.

Soon it became apparent that the next town would be further than I had hoped. The trail kept meandering around the feet of the tall hills. Rising slightly, then falling a little as we went. One of the guys called for a halt at a little bridge at the foot of a steep hill that we had been skirting. Here it was that Troy felt compelled to defile this most innocent of structures with his vile expectorations. I promptly admonished him to no avail, but much to the amusement of Steve, who snapped a photo of the event.

After remounting and cruising along awhile longer, we finally came upon the first small town on our mornings journey, Lanesboro. It looked very quaint, with morning hustle and bustle in high gear. We had a good pace going and did not stop to investigate further, although the town looked worthy of it.

The road to the next town was not as long but more anticipated. Steve knew of a business owner there that ran a small pie and coffee shop. The thought of a little extra fare for the belly sounded excellent at that time. However, when we reached Whalan it was as if the town was deserted. We spent about a half an hour wondering what to do when it was decided to just leave a note and depart. We left without prospects for pie and coffee being fulfilled, but our appetites demanded something. At the next town of Petersen, a concerted effort to find something to satisfy our hunger was made.

This city was at least awake and operating, if at only a slow pace. There were a few shops open, so we poked around and found out what people in these parts had to offer. It seemed that junk food was the order of the day. We managed to find a few tidbits and parked ourselves along a brick wall on a side street. My Fig Newton munching was interrupted by the appearance of three elderly gentlemen making their way slowly towards us. One of the trio looked nigh unto ancient. A man of 80 or 90 years, no doubt. He was responsible for the trios slow approach, his feet barely coming off the ground as he shuffled along in his old leather "shit kickers".

We exchanged pleasant "hellos" when the old man stopped and gazed upon us. "Why aren't you boys lookin' fer girls?", he said shortly.

I replied with, "Well, we would, but we don't see any around here."

"They're all in the bathroom!", the old man snorted, as he motioned towards the building we were leaning against.

"Oh!, Ha ha!", was our general response, being polite and all.

"Do you guys know who you are talkin' to?", one of the younger, but still elderly gents says, as he propped up the older man from behind, guiding him to their car.

"No!", we all said in unison.

"He's an old stone mason!"

"Oh, really...That's uh...great, uh......"

They were getting in their car as we all sat dumbfounded by what we had just experienced. It must have been a generation gap, perhaps, but I'd wager that the "gap" was between their ears!

We left the strange people of Petersen to ponder why all their women were in the bathroom while "Stone Masons" were about on the streets, and we hit the trail once again. Suddenly we came out of the valley we had been wandering in all morning and out into the open. We ran a straight path on towards Rushford.

In the next installment of "Day Two- Bluff Country", we will get a glimpse of what happens when Guitar Ted hits the "real hills".

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trans Iowa Post Card Madness!

<====It's a fishing lure!'s a piece of a dashboard from a gay guys '77 Trans Am!! It's a token of love from the Lincoln Crew!

Well, we're right in the middle of the registration for Trans Iowa V5 and the veteran's section of the process is over. Now we are moving on to the open registration, and with less than half the roster spots left open, I imagine the avalanche of cards received today and tomorrow will likely fill that roster out to capacity.

It is also highly likely that some more creative delivery means will be employed along with some unique cards. I have been getting hammered with e-mails concerning the ways and means of post card delivery. I'll clue you in, it looks as though the USPS is going to get a run for it's money! Speaking of money............

<==== Love: It always comes at a price it would seem!

I have also been informed that more than a few of you hopeful T.I.V5 starters have sent in post cards that are in limbo yet. Sent days ago but having not arrived at T.I.V5 Registration Central. Well, all I can say is you have today's mail, and if it doesn't show up today, well.......

That's hard, because you guys and gals out there won't get the update until late tonight, giving you only one last shot at an overnight express mailing to see if there is still room on Wednesday. That's taking a chance that the roster doesn't fill out on Tuesday. One good thing: Overnight mail ins from USPS, UPS, and Fed Ex come in before the regular mail. First come, first served. Or you could find some local willing to hand deliver a card, like a couple of Michigan dudes, or like the guy with the pizza did. I am not encouraging this, just saying: Where there is a will, there is a way. You've been advised!

Finally if the roster does fill out, you will have a shot on the Waiting List. People eventually drop off the roster throughout the winter, so it isn't out of the question that a person in the Waiting List could make it over to the official roster at some point during the next two or three months.

All I can say is that this has been the most intense registration session since the Rogue 7 incident from T.I.V2's online registration fiasco. Fun stuff for me.......nerve wracking for you!

Look for a roster update tonight, until then.......................

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shop Projects

I was working on a few projects in my "lab" down in the basement here at Guitar Ted Laboratories. I am trying to get one done, another one rolling again, and the other is pretty much ready to roll.

Project Lightweight Dos Niner: This is the project I need to get rolling on. I have to procure some parts yet, but this will be a fun project to see how light I can make this rig. I already have some carbon bits and I'll be getting more for it soon! I would like to see it go below 25lbs, but I have no idea what the lower limit will be. (Probably limited by funds!)

Project Black and White: This is the revitalization of my Raleigh XXIX+G. I am going to have this one up and running by the end of the weekend. It features an Origin 8 fork with white crown and drop outs, white Quad brake levers and calipers, and a white KORE B-52 stem. I put a red Acros head set on it as well, which goes with the red accents on the frame. Look for pics soon.

Project 20mm Thru-axle: This one is done. In combination with the Rock Shox Reba test on Twenty Nine Inches , I had to convert my Hope Pro II front hub to 20mm through axle compatibility. I got the parts in and found out the switch over was really easy. I mounted the fork up and got everything set for a first ride, which should take place on Sunday afternoon.

Pictures will follow..............stay tuned!

A note on Trans Iowa V5: The roster should pass the half full mark today after I get the mail at the shop. That will conclude the "vets only" portion of the registration. If e-mail contacts are any indication, Monday's mail bag should be stuffed with T.I. entries. Tuesday should see us approach full capacity, and I'm betting that by Wednesday the roster will be filled. You've been warned!

More T.I. info, sponsor news, and general chit-chat to come. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Wet And Muddy One

<=== Dirt. Its where it's at!

So Wednesday dawned and I didn't know if I would even be able to get out and test ride. It rained pretty good on Tuesday which eliminated most of my choices in places to go. However; I remembered something Captain Bob had told me. He said that Cedar Bend Park was always a great place to head to when it got wet. It would almost always be good for riding.

So, that is exactly what I did. I loaded up the Dirty Blue Box with the Milwaukee Bicycle Company 29"er and headed over to the park which is just northwest of Waverly.

If you have never been there it is a place that has just enough trail and variety to make things interesting for a short while. When it is dry, and if you go up with a geared bike, you could probably do all the trails three times in an hour fast. It would be a great work out, but it would be time to go, because it doesn't take long to cover everything enough times that it gets old fast.

However, I would suggest this as a place to go with your single speed. I've been there with mine several times this year. It makes for a great workout and takes a bit longer, due to the climbing, to cover all the trails at least three times. Definitely, it is more fun on a single speed in my opinion.

<=== This was my introduction to Ergon GX-1 grips. They are fantastic!

This day found the trails up there all wet, leafy, and strewn with a few branches here and there. typical late fall conditions. A little mud, a bit of standing water. Just enough to make it interesting and not enough to clog up the works or foul the bicycle. But then, I was riding a single speed, so what is there to foul up?

The riding was a bit slower due to the wet leaves mostly. I was sliding, drifting, and losing a bit of traction on climbs, which made life interesting a few times. I got caught out on a technical descent- a short, steep little chute that was leaf strewn and rocky. I went over the bars and landed in the soft dirt with a resounding thud! No worries! I had to laugh because I left a great imprint of my left arm and leg in the dirt when I got up off the ground. Soft dirt is good!

<=== Things were a bit drippy and wet Wednesday.

I had a great ride, I found out some things I needed to know about the bike, and got in some good climbing sessions. (My hips were sore the next day!) It was a hoot in the wet leaves and mud. Just enough to make it really more challenging and fun.

And I started working on Brent's Theory of Single Speed Relativity. (That's what I'm calling it anyway!) Brent is one of the main honches at Twin Six and he has this theory about single speed gearing that I am working on. I'll let ya'all know how that goes later. For now, I will say that Step #1 is in full swing and I'll be working on Step#2 come spring time, most likely.

A little Trans Iowa blurb for ya: We have been getting post cards in and have filled out 20 spots on the 75 man roster. We have two more mail days left before we go to Open Registration on Monday, where all can attempt to gain a spot on the Roster of Pain. As of now, I see all last year's finishers are back, with the exception of last year's winner, John Gorilla. (Although he told me personally that he is indeed coming back. I just have not received a post card from him yet.) A list of "usual suspects" is in addition to that, which includes the only guys that have done every Trans Iowa ever put on. (Jim Mc Guire and Endurosnob)

We'd have a strong field even if we stopped now, but we ain't stoppin' jest yet folks! I happen to know that a few really strong guys are planning to show up in a first attempt at Graveley Glory. If they all show up we'll have an event that may top all the others combined from the standpoint of competition. Possibly only the first T.I. will have been more "stacked" with "big guns". We'll see, but this is shaping up to be a stellar field behind the scenes. Then again, it may not. You never know who is really going to toe the line until the start. I've been surprised before. (T.I.V3 anybody?)

At any rate, the roster is going to be updated tonight and Saturday night with the remaining veterans that want to insure their place on the roster. Then it'll be a free-for-all starting Monday. Any bets on when the roster fills up? (My money is on Wednesday the 19th)

Have a great weekend and ride a bicycle!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

SRAM To Do A 2 X 10 MTB Gruppo?

Well, it looks as though another component maker is jumping into the 10 speed mtb group rumor wars. (Although this rumor appears to be a pretty solid one) You have read my takes on the 10 speed mtb stuff here and on The Bike Lab before. Check out what James Huang from speculates on here.

I've been saying for two years or more that a 10 speed mtb group was going to be coming. It is inevitable. Once road gruppos went 10 speed, I figured it would be a matter of time, then when 11 speed road gruppos came out, I knew it was a certainty. Look for a ten speed mtb group from SRAM or FSA next spring. Shimano won't be far behind. The next XTR will most assuredly be 10 speed.

What does this all mean for the "average" mountain biker? Most of this 10 speed off road gear madness will be directed at racers. It will be heinously expensive. won't be durable enough for everyday use! So, will 10 speed trickle down to lower groups? Will 9 speed someday be on Tourney equipped "mart-bikes"? Will my stuff be outdated in 2011?

The answers are not clear, but my feelings are as follows: Yes, yes, and no. Let me explain. First of all, there is no doubt that eventually 10 speed mtb stuff will be on XT equipped rigs and probably down to what we know as LX now. (But will be re-named most likely) SLX stuff will stay 9 speed, and parts makers will offer 9 speed as All Mountain/Free ride/ Down Hill stuff in the future. It will be a no brainer to go this route since they will still be catering to the racing crowd and not lose the "core" mtb'ers in the process. (Not to mention the fact that any AM/FR/DH'er worth his salt would destroy a 10 speed mtb group in one ride.)

I would change my opinion only if one thing happens with SRAM's new XX group and that is if they go to 140OD on axles. (Really, the smart move is to go to 150mm, but I think they would split the difference there) Why would this make a difference? Because instead of making everything thinner to stuff one more cog in there, as they have been doing for the last 20 years, the cog thicknesses could remain the same, and durability would not be affected. This obviously would be a revolutionary move that would make all your bikes obsolete in one fell swoop. Not a move to be taken lightly, so I wouldn't expect that to happen.

Nine speed "mart-bikes"? Yep! Look for ten speed mtb hardware to push 9 speed down spec to entry level parts. "Big Box" retailers would love this, because in consumers eyes they would be getting a "bike shop" level drive train at "mart-bike" prices. Not only that, but the inevitable increases in goods could be offset somewhat by adding this "benefit" to department store bicycles. I think it is a done deal once 10 speed hits the upper levels.

Will your stuff be outdated in 2011? I don't see that happening. But what will happen is that seven speed stuff will be gone, (It almost is now) and 8 speed stuff will be phased out over a period of time. So, if you are into upper level 8 speed, you'd better start hording now. The jig is up for your preferred parts. Nine speed stuff should be produced for the foreseeable future. I don't see that going away anytime soon.

Finally, I think ten speed mountain bike gear is ridiculous and will be problematic unless we go to a wider rear hub spacing. (James Huang hints at this, I think, when he reports on the nature of the cassette for the upcoming XX SRAM gruppo by saying, "......but modified for better performance in muddy conditions with a more open architecture." I mean, there isn't much "opening" one can do on a current 10 speed cassette. Especially in terms of fouling with mud or plant debris. (Did I mention that 10 speed stuff will be problematic?) A widening of the spacing is what would be effective, and widening the over lock dimension of axles would accommodate this. Either that or dish the wheels some more. (Gah! The thought of that makes me shudder! )

Well, all this will certainly pale in comparison once FSA launches their rumored 11 speed mtb stuff!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting A Piece Of The Pie!

<===The first entry for T.I.V5 came with a pizza attached!

So, there I was, trying to make the best out of an exceptionally slow November day in a bicycle shop when the front door opens. in walks a young man with one of those insulated bags held in one hand by a strap that anyone could easily recognize as a pizza bag.

I'm thinking, "Maybe the pizza joint down the strip here has an abandoned pizza." Sometimes our neighboring pizza place gives us a pie that folks order but never pick up, or one that they make wrong. It's rare, but I've seen it happen. I mean, why else is a pizza guy here? There were only three of us working, one of us was out running errands and my boss would never order pizza for the staff. Nope.......never.

Then I'm thinking maybe he did. But just then, the guy with the pizza says, "You know anything about this pizza being delivered? Anybody call you?" Of course, I didn't know a thing about it. Well, it turns out that the pizza guy was a bit befuddled too, "Yeah, some guy called in and ordered this. Said something about a race and gave us some information?...."

Oh's all coming together for me now!

<===The goods.
A public thanks for the strangest Trans Iowa entry...........yet.
Oh yeah! I shared. It was very good too, by the way. There was only one issue I had with this though.
There wasn't enough beer with it!
Stay tuned! More Trans Iowa entries should be showing up today and I'll be busy updating the roster at the site later this evening.
Thanks again Mr. Armstrong! (T.I.V4 veteran)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Touring Tuesdays: The Old Barn

This installment finds the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" in a campground with an immense barn converted for business located just northeast of Preston, Minnesota.

This was actually an old barn, but not just any old barn. No! It was a huge, immense old barn, three stories high, and long enough to store all the cows that three average farmers might have today. There was a long ramp made of earth that led us to the second story from the west. Inside we saw a rental and souvenir shop for cyclists and campers. There was an office also, and further down a long central hallway there was a restaurant. I noticed a staircase going up to the third storey. After we found out where we could camp, we went around the north side of the barn to the east end. There was another long, low building there that was modern, and much newer than the rest. This housed a pool and a bike rental shop. We found our camping spot, and in the fading light we set our tents up for the first time.

I had a traditional two man "pup" tent borrowed from Steve. Steve was using a more modern backpacker type tent, two man size with an alcove. Troy had a single man, backpacking style tent also borrowed from Steve. It reminded me of a coffin. Even though my tent was heavier, I was glad I didn't get the tent Troy was using after I saw it.

Our camping area was back in a wooded corner of the campground on top of a hill. It was very agreeable to all of us. We found out our "neighbors" were actually from Cedar Falls! They gave us enthusiastic approval on our plans to go to Canada. It made me think of that "small world" saying!

We settled in and drank our beer purchased at the little store inside the Old Barn. We made our supper from dehydrated dinners that we packed. We found this, and all subsequent dehydrated fare, to be most excellent. We all shared in carrying the food load, but Steve carried a stove and fuel to cook with. Both Steve and Troy had their own backpacker type silverware, but I had none. guessed it! I borrowed again!

After the meal, we all wandered down to find the showers located on the lower level of the barn which was exposed on the west end of the hill which it was built in to. This was originally where the cows were let in for milking. Now it is where they let in the humans for cleaning, and sleeping, and eating. The showers were located in the east end, the hostel in the middle, and the vending machines in the west end. The west end also housed a laundry and a place to use phones or watch T.V. So, I showered, got a soda out of a vending machine, used the phone, and took my weary body back to my tent where I slept very well!

Additional info: I will say that in this story, I forgot to add that Steve and Troy were a bit skeptical that I would be of much use the following day, due to this day being my first century and all. There was some discussion that evening about a plan of attack concerning my certain demise the following day. Troy suggesting that a regimen of stretching before and after sleeping would help, while Steve was just pretty much convinced I would be toast! In the final analysis, there wasn't much to be concerned about, but at this point, all three of us were seriously doubtful I would go very far the next day.

The next installment will be the beginning of "Day Two: Bluff Country"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Trans Iowa Registration To Open Tomorrow!

Well, I'm betting there are a few post cards in the USPS hopper on their way to the shop tomorrow for T.I.V5 . Registration for past participants only will be taking place starting then for a week. then on the 17th we'll take on any cards from folks wanting in until the roster is filled, (I'm betting that won't take long.) or until November 24th when registration closes. (Not likely to get that far) Oh yeah! Make sure I can read your post cards folks! Illegible cards won't make the roster and I am the judge on that. Make it look good, okay?

In other Trans Iowa news: Recon of a short section of the course had to be postponed due to last weeks storm and wetness. There is about a 20 mile section that we want to look at that might become a bit of a re-route. It won't affect the overall mileage much if at all. We're just looking for better roads and safer in this particular area than we have chosen now. Not that they are bad as is, just not up to our standards, if you will.

Otherwise the course is pretty much locked in as of now. We are considering a complete drive of the course again later on to ascertain the soundness of the roads before the event. This will happen if and when we can get out there, most likely next spring.

Work continues on sponsors for this years event. The latest sponsor to be announced is our good friends at Twin Six. Trans Iowa founder, Jeff Kerkove started rockin' The 6 about as soon as Ryan and Brent fired up their first t-shirt designs back in the day. Of course Jeff spread the love and infected me and several others back then, so Twin Six is old hat for us. We love the stuff. You should too. Click the link. Check out the latest. Did I mention that they are finally doing wool? No? (Insider tip: Want to make Brent squeal like a school girl? Give him a "dude hug". Tell him Guitar Ted sent ya!)

<=== Milwaukee Bicycle Company 29"er

In other happenings: Milwaukee Bicycle Company's 29"er is out here getting thrashed in the woods for Twenty Nine Inches. I got a chance to sneak out for a ride on Sunday in the 25 degree temperatures we experienced. I hit up the Green Belt and checked out the MBC 29"er on my "back yard" trails. It's a pretty springy, comfortable bike. I'm still dialing in the saddle yet, (Note the wonky angle of the saddle in the pic. Hey! It actually felt comfy this way!)

I'll be testing this sweet rig for a bit, so if you see something dirty and white fly by, that's me! (Some would say I'm dirty and white without the bicycle, but that's another subject!) This time out I found that my legs weren't quite with the program. I felt sluggish, not really motivated. I decided to not push the issue and just cruise. I wanted to dial in the set up on this bike, so any time I could put in would be useful to me in that way. I stopped a couple of times to adjust the saddle angle and then went on my way.

I crossed Ridgeway and dove into the "upper trail" to the left there right after entering the section south of Ridgeway. I made my way through, stopping to hike over a couple of downed trees along the way. In one spot, I actually re-routed the corner around a dead fall. It should be a better way around and will avoid dealing with a near impossible hike-a-bike over a dead fall. Not much, but I do my part where I can!

Well, all this fooling around ate into my sunlight. I only had a commuter light with me to get me home once I exited the Green Belt. I saw the first signs of fading light and put down the hammer. Strangely enough, the legs responded well and I made decent time home. Good thing too, because darkness falls real quick this time of year. Almost startingly quick!

This week is supposed to moderate in temperature up into the 40's for daytime highs. I will be testing again on Wednesday and I hope the weather holds out! Yesterday was borderline too cold to get much done, but I'll take what I can get this time of the year!

Stay tuned to the Trans Iowa site for roster updates starting tomorrow night!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Another Fargo Adventure

Okay, okay! I just got done doing a three parter about riding Fargos and here I am again posting about the Fargo. Better get used to it! This bike is that awesome!

This rig is getting the full on review/test on Twenty Nine Inches in the next few months, so look for more about the bike in particular there. I will most likely document the adventure side of it here.

Today's adventure was a trip up to the fire road through Black Hawk Park. I got through a bit of my urban commute route to get to Hartman Reserve's lower side and old Shirey Way. It is pretty much a Class B road these days and it was a bit slickery with all the precip around here lately. In fact, it sputtered snow and fine rain all the time I was out.

I got through the bike path on Riverside Trail to Pfieffer Park and crossed Krieg's Crossing over the Cedar to Geo Wyth and on to Cedar Falls. I passed another intrepid road cyclist riding a gray Specialized rig and waved hello as I passed him by on my way to Big Woods Lake. A half a lap on that path and on to Black Hawk Park in a pretty steady and tough headwind. Feel the burn!

On my way into the park, I met the same dude on the Specialized going with the wind, which he was quick to point out to me, as if I had it wrong. Guess he never read Kerkove's blog. "The wind is our mountain", right Jeff? Well, anyway, I made it into the park and went through to the old service road that goes up to Washington/Union access.

I went around to the Ford Road cutoff and took it north, as I had heard it was passable. Well, it was, barely! I had a hike-a-bike and several get offs for blow downs. I thought I might not ever see Ford Road! Finally, I saw some open trail and made it up to a tunnel of trees that was right above my head all around. Yep! Just like last year. Not much has changed except that in November the underbrush is dead. I climbed out up the steepish single track, out the dead straight access road and turned south on Ford Road.

I was out in the open again, but this time I was with the wind, so I ended up in the big ring, which on the Fargo is a 46T. Yay! I made great time on the wet, peanut buttery limestone.

Even though I only did this shortish piece of gravel on my ride, I was totally stoked on how the Fargo handled the gravel. The smallish vibrations from tractor tires and the road grader were all absorbed really well by the Classico CroMoly tubing. Nice! I can't wait to throw down some multi-hour rides on the gravel aboard this rig. It will be a good one to use for this, as the water bottle count can go up to six and there is room for my frame pump which will help keep weight off my back.

I went through Cedar Falls again, Cottage Row, the bike path by the damaged Boat House, and past down town on my way to Geo Wyth once again. This time I wanted to check out some single track in the park. The ride last Wednesday was great on single track, so I was anxious to get in some more aboard the Fargo.

The trails were a bit too slick for the Vulpines nearly treadless casing, so instead of pushing the issue, I only did one trail and bailed off to the paved path again. I'll have to throw on something a bit more knobular for my next single track attempt. After stopping at the campground to refuel, I went to grab the Fargo. Wha.....? The front tire was flat! I rolled it around just a few inches and saw the culprit. A big ol' thorn! Time to change the tube!

Well, in near freezing conditions with a steady Northwesterly wind blowing on you, it doesn't take long to freeze the life out of your fingers when they are handling metal and rubber. I took several "warm up" breaks, so the tire change took twice as long, but I retained a modicum of flexibility and feeling in my hands!

Not wanting to tempt fate any further, I high tailed it home and then found that I had forgotten my keys! Mrs. Guitar Ted was out, so I was too! Thank God it only was a half an hour later that she and the kids arrived back home and let my cold shivering body back into the warmth of the house.

So, about four hours out there today and I accomplished getting the Midge Bars into a position I am happy with. I also will now cut down that steer tube some more since the position is nearly spot on. Also of interest, the bar end shifters fit right into the Midge Bars with no problem. I had heard that they didn't, so this was a nice surprise for me. All in all, I have the major stuff dialed in for now. Later on, I will be adding a few things to try out like fenders, a rack, and a couple more water bottle cages.

So, get ready to see more of this bike. A lot more!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Owls And Otters: A Fargo Adventure Part III

After crossing Nine Mile Creek there was more fast, swoopy, twisty fun single track until we were dumped out at a parking lot just down from Bloomington Ferry Road. We had a steepish, longish climb out from the river valley to pavement that would take us to Quality Bicycle Products and Salsa HQ. The group broke up here, as a lot of us had to go to work at QBP. Captain Bob, Jason B, Miker, and I all went upstairs to the Salsa nerve center where several of The Crew were working away. Of course, our presence caused most work to come to a grinding halt! Note to Jason: Iowegians not good for productivity!

After hanging out there talking with David, Bobby, Steve, and a couple other guys, we took our leave and Miker, Jason B, Captain Bob, and myself headed back for the starting point of our adventure.

By now the weather was quite pleasant. The sun was coming through in fitful spurts and the wind was blowing, but down in the single track, that didn't matter. The trail seemed rougher both to myself and to Captain Bob. I ended up biffing again in a sandy corner. Nothing big. Just a washout.

<===Jason B and the Captain led the way all the way back while Miker and I took a more measured pace!

After we got going again I wasn't "in the groove" and I found myself making mistakes. I had to really concentrate on the trail. Finally, the "zen" feeling came back and of course, the single track petered out just then into double track road. Oh well! Chalk it up to not eating enough on the bike, (or at all, really) and not sleeping enough the night before which had followed a day of single speeding. But if you are going to have an adventure, there has to be something out of sorts, right?

<===A sampling of some huge graffiti. These letters were 20 feet high off the ground to their tops.

Coming back on the double track, we saw the coyote we heard about from Miker earlier. It saw us, of course, right away and ditched off the trail to the river side and skirted us down along the waters edge for a stealthy escape. That was a pretty cool deal though. A coyote right in the heart of suburbia!

<===The trails back to the car were much like this near the end of the ride.

We were all grinding away, chatting and cruising along for the last miles not wanting to stop. Captain Bob said later that the last five miles were pure torture, since he was starting to bonk. I was getting really hungry myself. You'll notice that we didn't stop for lunch, and it was nearing 2 pm.!

The last stretch was up an incline and I put my legs into "auto cruise" mode and spun up. I still felt good, I just needed to eat something.........soon!

<===Sibley House is a grouping of stone structures dating from the late 1800's in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Our ride started and stopped just beyond here in a parking lot.

The last bit of the ride was cool because we didn't see it in the pre-dawn darkness going out. So even though we'd "been there", we hadn't really "done that", so it was nice to see those sights.

Up around a corner and a gentle downhill to the parking lot where it all began hours before. We had gone something like 40-45 miles, seen various wild life forms, had a woodsie breakfast, hung out with some really cool folks, and rode our bikes on pavement, gravel, dirt roads, single track, and sand. We even got rained on and crossed a creek on a primitive ferry. How often does all that happen?

Well, I'll tell you, not very dang often! It was a very special day, and a ton of fun!

<=== And now, a few words about our vehicle of choice, the Salsa Cycles Fargo!

Well, I must say first that no other bicycle in recent memory has stirred such passion, interest, and controversy as this bike. For some, it is an answer to a conundrum faced for years, for some it is a revelation of "epic" proportions, and for some, it is a missed shot across the bow. Whatever it is for you, here is my take on what the Fargo is.

It is a fun machine. It is a ticket to places and experiences that maybe other bikes could manage, but the Fargo is made for. It does loads, it does roads, it does dirt, sand, and gravel. It can change direction in a catlike manner, yet it can ride like a magic carpet with a load on. Maybe it looks awkward, or gangly to some, but get beyond the looks and you can ride an adventure bike that can take you places and do things better than any other 29"er, (for sure) and better than most any other rig I know of that is mass produced.

Dollar for dollar this Fargo will "out-fun" any other bike I have hands down. That's been proven to me, and I'm betting it will be proven out for a lot of folks. Maybe they should have named this bike the "Fun-go".......nah! To close to fungi, I suppose!

Anyway, the Fargo. Fun on two wheels. go anywhere, smile!

Special Thanks: Brent and Ryan of Twin Six, Jason Boucher, Mike "Kid" Reimer, Joe Meiser, Bobby, David, Steve, and the rest of the Salsa Cycles Crew, (If I forgot your name, insert it here!_______) Quality Bicycle Products, Captain Bob, Our Lovely Wives! Thanks God!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Owls And Otters: A Fargo Adventure Part II

As Jason, Captain Bob, and I headed back to the parking lot in the pre-dawn darkness I was not sure this adventure was shaping up to be a very pleasant or enduring one. Rain was starting to pelt us pretty good at one point, and my clothes were beginning to get soaked. At least the temperature was decent at a balmy, (by November standards) 64 degrees!

As we approached the parking lot, Jason saw that there was no one there so he chose to keep right on rolling to the "drop in" to the river trails. As we did, the rain lessened and by the time we found ourselves rolling on some flat double track, it had stopped completely. We could see signs of morning light shrouded by gray, hurrying cloud cover. It was about here that Jason came to a sudden halt and said, "Owl!" as he pointed upwards just in front and above his head. There was a large Owl that was staring at us in the gloom. It took flight and disappeared into the trees further into the woods. Cool!

<==Tough to see, but these are river otters poking their heads out of the water.

Then we rolled onwards, the darkness gave way to grayish morning light and we traveled down some more double track towards the Cedar Street bridge. Not long after we saw the owl, Jason stopped again as he noticed a commotion along the river bank. Four river otters were playing, splashing, and diving in the water. We stopped and watched a minute or two until they noticed us and stopped to watch us as well. I managed a shot with my camera and then we were off again.

<===Jason takes us on a side trip to explore old Cedar Highway and to show us a bridge that will be turned to pedestrian uses. Jason expects that this will become a highly trafficked route once it is completed in 2012 or so.

As we approached the Cedar Street bridge and crossed the river, Jason showed us the old highway and gave us a bit of history and future planning all in one concerning this abandoned stretch of roadway. We also saw a Bald Eagle in a tree as we crossed here. Then we backtracked to the causeway up to the highway bridge. Most everything underneath the bridge that is concrete is peppered with graffiti. Much of it really cool. There are some pretty talented urban artists in the Twin Cities area, that's for sure!

<=== Captain Bob getting introduced to Mike Riemer and Joe Meiser as "Miker" tells us about the coyote he saw on his way over to meet us.

As we backtracked to the bridge, Jason saw the group we were to meet up with rolling down the ramp off the approach to the bridge on our side. Captain Bob gave an excellent whistle to alert them to our presence and we all hooked up and headed eastwards down the double track to an undisclosed location in the woods where Jason, Joe Meiser, Mike Reimer and about six other guys were going to have "breakfast" in the woods.
Before we got to that point; however, the double track gave way to true single track and we found ourselves weaving and bobbing through tall weeds that were so green it seemed unreal. Someone from behind me said, "This is the "Wind Chime" part of the trail." I didn't quite understand what that meant until I got into the shoulder high thick dark green shoots of what looked to be a thickly stalked grass and heard all the spokes "tinkle-tunk" as we sped on our way through. Wind chimes indeed!

<===The group stands around and chats while Jason and Joe get coffee on the boil for us all.

After a bit more twisty single track, we pulled off to the side, dismounted and parked our rigs, while Jason and Joe pulled out their cooking gear. Others made a quick ground fire to ward off the chill of the morning, although the temperature was still in the mid-sixties. Soon coffee was being doled out, espresso, oatmeal, chocolate covered raisins, trail mix, and yes.....even Miker's hard boiled eggs with hot sauce! It was an odd breakfast, but it was really fun. Some of the group were actually riding into work at QBP. I was thinking, "Man! There is no way I'm working after a ride like this!" The thing was, we weren't even halfway done yet!

<===The ferry across Nine Mile Creek.

We eventually got everything packed up and everyone back on their bikes for more single track goodness. The trails were dry, hard, and fast with a few exceptions were the moisture was coming out of the ground and the trail was wet or greasy. There were parts where it was sandy, but for the most part, the sand was packed down really well by the volume of cyclists that traverse these trails.

I saw what appeared to me was a berm and set my front wheel in the midst of the "berm" getting ready to rail it when whumpf! I went off the bike and crashed heavily on my right side. Note to self: Sand doesn't make a great berm to rail a corner on, especially the fine river bottom sand found here!

Eventually we came to a get off where we had to hike over a small creek. Then not long after that, we crossed the ferry on Nine Mile Creek. The "ferry" is nothing more than an old floating "diving platform", not unlike what you might find in any upper Mid-West woodsy resort lake area. It is tied to some pull ropes and sits between two guide ropes, so that it doesn't float off down stream. We took turns getting across to continue our way in to Quality Bicycle Products.

Next installment: We finish the ride in, see the Salsa HQ, and begin our ride back to where we came from.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Owls And Otters: A Fargo Adventure

Sorry about the lack of a Wednesday post, but the reason why will be documented here and tomorrow. Thanks for reading, as always....

<=== The only pic I got from Wednesday, since my camera was buried in my gear, the single track was too fun, and well.......the Twin Six guys are camera shy!
Well I got back from a most excellent two days of cycling goodness up north. With the absolutely fantastic weather, it was a two day trip to remember for sure!

First I picked up Captain Bob and we high tailed it up north with our gear and two single speeds in tow. First stop was Ben Witt's Milltown Cycles (Home Of The 36"ers). The Captain and I found Ben in good spirits and willing, (as always) to chat about his cycling projects and goings on. After we both took a 36"er for a short, grin inducing spin, we headed back north again to rendezvous with Brent and Ryan of Twin Six . We met up at Murphy-Hanrahan park for a lap through all of the single track offerings there. It was stellar to say the least. Plus, we got to check out "61 Skinny", but I'm tellin' ya, I ain't ridin' that thing anytime soon.

After Ryan had to split to vote, Brent, Captain Bob, and I went to Twin Six World Headquarters for a bit to hang out. When Brent had taken care of some business, we split for a local pub called the Chatterbox for some killer grub and suds. Captain Bob ordered the most amazing mac and cheese I ever saw. (Really! You wouldn't believe it unless you saw it!) After hanging out with Brent for the early part of the evening, Captain Bob and I headed over to Salsa honch, Jason Boucher's joint to get the briefing on what we were going to do the next day. Well, we found out we had some wrenching to do on the rigs we would be riding. Captain Bob and I would both be piloting Fargos with some of the rest of the QBP gang.

We wrenched in a garage with an open door like it was July or something. Weird weather! After getting everything dialed in, Captain Bob and Jason did a bit of geeking over some camera equipment, while I stood twiddling my thumbs. I mean these guys were seriously geeking out. They both have the shutterbug pretty bad!

So after a post midnight goodnight, I settled in for five hours of shut eye before our little adventure was to begin. I was awakened by the sound of my cell phone alarm at 5:20am and walked out to the garage to open the door to outside. As the door opened I thought I saw a flash. Like a camera flash. Still a bit groggy, I chalked it up to my half concious state and went about my business.However; by the time we got loaded and on our way around 6am, we were all seeing flashes of lightning. When we were gearing up and to ride in the pre-dawn dark, it started in, slight "piddles" at first, then as we began to ride it came in as a full on rain. Jason kept saying, "it's going to be fine." and then it would rain harder. We turned around in to go back to the lot we started from to see if anybody else was showing up to meet us. It was at this point I thought our day was sunk. I was getting rained on, it was windy, and I was starting to get soaked through.

Stay tuned for Part II Friday.........
<===Fargo and friends parked along the Minnesota River. Find out what these bikes and their riders were up to in the woods on a Wednesday morning tomorrow!