Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tinkering Time

<====Tap, tap....face.....tap, tap!

Got out the big guns of the repair tool arsenal in The Lab the other day to get started on a couple of builds. First to go was the Dissent. I tapped and faced the bottom bracket, even though it was pretty clean anyway. Heck, with Shimano's near perfection cartridge bottom brackets of yore, this step is fairly needless anyway. (Everything is aligned within the cartridge, and doesn't rely on the BB shell faces to be parallel.) But since I have the tools, I must use them, or lose them! And who knows? Maybe someday I'll put a two piece crank on this frame, and then the facing will make a difference!

<===Look deep within for a subliminal message! (click pic to make hugeriffic!)

The next step was to slam in the UN-54 BB with Loc-Tite and tighten that ol' dog up. Then I procured a few "necessities" from the Thin Man and those will be installed on this rig and the Raleigh Rainier, which is the next rig to get the BB faced and chased. Wheels need to be built and brakes mounted. Lots of stuff to assemble now. Hopefully a couple of complete rigs will emerge from the basement Lab soon.

And then there is always the riding part, which I plan to partake in tomorrow. Hey! We're above freezing again. Almost feels good enough to go without a coat!


Friday, January 30, 2009

Trans Iowa Deadlines Tomorrow

Tomorrow is a big day in Trans Iowa V5 preparations. The tire sizes that needed to be e-mailed to me are due then for the Ritchey Designs sponsorship. Then the other big deadline is for The Waiting List. This list will be dissolved tomorrow at midnight. Here's the latest on The Waiting List.........

There have been a few last minute drops. If you are on The Waiting List, you received an e-mail from me that indicated where on the line you were approximately. So if you are one of those folks, and you know you were close, hang tight, you may be receiving an e-mail sometime late today asking if you still want on.

I may be e-mailing folks on the Waiting List for spots available as late as Saturday, so please do not be surprised if you don't get notification until then. I have some plans with Mrs. Guitar Ted for the evening, so I won't be thinking much about Trans Iowa. Sorry! But that's how it goes folks!

If you do not hear from me by Saturday night......well, I'm sorry, but you didn't get in. Hopefully there will be a chance for you in 2010's edition of T.I. To you, thanks for your interest in the event, and have a great 2009 in life and cycling!

Finally, I just wanted to say "Thank You" to those who for whatever reason found that they could not attend May 2-3rd and e-mailed me and d.p. Your thoughtfulness, your kind words, and character is well appreciated on this end. Of course, we would rather that things worked out, and that you could have attended, but we certainly understand each and every drop we have heard about so far. Again, thanks for letting us know.

One final note: Although the Waiting List is about to become history, that doesn't mean we don't need to know if you are not going to make T.I.V5. Oh no! Actually, it's more important than ever that we know. Please don't be the guy/gal that decides to "no-show" the eve of the event and waste d.p. and my time and effort. Let us know in advance, as soon as possible. It saves us a lot of energy and money generating cue sheets and race packets. Thanks for your consideration of this and in the end, hopefully it is not necessary. We hope everyone makes it for T.I.V5 on May 1st for the race packet pick up.

Okay, the weather is breaking here in the Mid-West, right? (Positive attitudes folks!) Let's start riding outside again and having some fun doing it. I'm certainly ready!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Of Cryptic Runes, Rubber, And Beer

<===After speaking in an ancient and forgotten cycling tongue, this cryptic rune started to trace itself onto our service counter top.

I suppose it doesn't have to be said, but I will: This weather sucks! Okay...........I feel marginally better!

Business hasn't totally gone away, which I find amazing actually. I mean, I don't think we spend very many hours above zero anymore, not to mention the freezing mark. Oh what a heatwave that would be! In the meantime, I was busy clearing out some clutter in the Lab and preparing the Misfit Dissent for build up. Several parts are already on hand for it, so I am ready to start assembling here soon. Riding it? Well, the forecast is looking promising, so perhaps some wet, nasty commuting is in its future. Hey, it is aluminum and I will need to make a few shakedown cruises to break everything in.

<===After a few moments, the entire rune was visible in the counter top, but no one could ascertain the meaning of it. It remains a mystery!

So, just a few more days until the data for the Ritchey Design sponsorship will be submitted for the T.I.V5 sponsorship. If I do not hear from you, (and there are more than 25 folks I have yet to hear from), you will lose your chance to name a size and you will get a 700 X 35mm tube and a rim strip regardless. If you have not yet contacted me, do it now! Let me know your tire size and I will get that info to Ritchey by January 31st. After that, it's all over.

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo News: Yes, this will be happening again.It will take place October 10th and 11th at Potter's Pasture in west central Nebraska. There will be entertainment. Likely an acoustic guitar jam around a campfire one night and a band on Saturday night. There will be some demos. There will be guided trail rides on some of the most unusual and tough trails anywhere around. Finally, there will be a beer tasting contest that will help determine the next location of the Ballyhoo. Details are being hammered out now. Look for more on this soon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Misfit Psycles Dissent: Flat Black Goodness!

The Misfit Psycles Dissent frame and fork have landed at Guitar Ted Laboratories. The frame and fork combination are both constructed from 6061 Aluminum, which is a bit of a different deal in comparison to the large amounts of steel single speeds available out there for 29 inch wheels. The frame and fork can be had for under $500.00 so that puts it squarely in the budget priced/decent frame sets out there. Let's take a quick look at what we have here. A more complete run down can be found at Twenty Nine Inches later on today.
The Dissent, a I mentioned, is a single speed frame that uses these massive sliders to tension the chain with. The disc mount on the disc only frame is also integral with the non-drive side drop out, so futzing with the caliper in terms of wheel changing and cog swaps shouldn't be an issue. The drop outs have that huge slot for the axle so that they are compatible with a Rohloff internal gear hub. A nice touch I think. If you do want to go geared, a drive side sliding drop out is available with an integral derailleur hangar. Note: There are no cable stops for geared use on this frame, a touch I happen to like. Running single speed with extra cable stop braze ons hanging out just waiting to rip something apart- nope- not my cup-o-tea! Looks cleaner too. By the way, the rear brake routes underneath the top tube for an even more stealthy appearance.
I'll be building this frame and fork up as a "budget" project to touch on what I think is a trend for 2009: Builds that will feature some nice parts selections, but maybe at a lower price level. I think a lot of guys will still be building new rigs out in 2009, but maybe the overall price points on them will reflect a more conservative take on 29"ers than we have seen before. Then again.....maybe not! You never know! That said, that is how I will be approaching this rig. look for more thoughts in the days to come. One thing is for sure. I'll be spending a heck of a lot more time in the Lab in February than I have this month! Woo Hoo! Let the fun begin!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: Day Five: Backroads and Cow Barns- Part I

The "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" fellowship had been broken up in the last entry. Now the two remaining tourists wake up to Day Five.........

When Troy and I awoke in the hotel room the next morning we quietly got ready with plans to hit up the Perkins next door for breakfast and a brainstorming session on what to do for the day. There was no sign of Steve, or evidence that he had stayed at our motel. I asked Troy what he thought we should do. Should we call his girlfriend, go look for him, or what? Troy's response was quick and given with a note of finality. "He's a big boy. He can take care of himself." By the tone of Troy's voice, I could tell that further discussion would only be futile.

So, we checked out and sauntered over to Perkins. It was cool, but partly cloudy. It looked to be an excellent day for riding. Fortunately for us, we had a Wisconsin map to plan with, but Steve had the better map with the roads marked out for traffic count that we had gotten back in Sparta. I suppose he needed it more than we did.

As we sat with our breakfast, pouring over the map, I saw something that caught my eye outside the window of the restaurant out in the road. It was Steve walking his bike across the road towards us! I suppose he spotted our bikes outside. I alerted Troy, and he said, "We're going to ride him into the ground today for what he did last night, okay?" I nodded in agreement. Although I was glad to see Steve, he did put us in a bit of a pickle the night before.

Steve came in and said hello. He didn't apologize, but then again, he may not have remembered what had transpired over the previous 18 hours. He said he had stayed in a hotel across the road that cost him $80.00. Troy chuckled and told him our room cost half that. Steve waved off breakfast, so we left and prepared to mount up and leave Steven's Point.

Troy's plan was to head out of town on the East bound highway, then catch a county road northwards. The night before, Dave the Skateboarder and his friends had warned us about our previous plans to go through Tigerton to the northeast of Stevens Point. They strictly warned us to steer clear of there because of some right wing nut jobs that they claimed would sooner "mess with us" than say hello if we were found out on the roads near there.

This would send us north out of our way, but we had already had enough trouble on this trip to last us a month. We weren't looking for anymore. So we went out of town in single file headed to the county road north bound. Troy, then myself, and then a very hung over Steve not far behind.

Not long after leaving the main road, we lost the hustle and bustle of the city. Now we were back in the bucolic, rural environs of Wisconsin. The night before seemed like a dream. A bad dream for Steve, I'm sure!

Next week: The quiet roads of Wisconsin have their own surprises!

Monday, January 26, 2009

It Only Takes One Pebble To Start An Avalanche

I think I have pretty much written off the month of January when it comes to bicycle stuff, at least personally. Besides writing about bicycles, I have hardly been able to get a ride in or had any motivation to delve into the ever shifting mass of bicycle stuff in the Guitar Ted Laboratories. But now, I'm forcing my hand and getting started on things.

I can't do much about the weather, so I went down to the shadowy depths last night and started to make my first feeble attempts at getting the ball rolling here in 2009. It's about time too.......

I've got some parts rolling in for the Raleigh Rainier any day now. That means that I had to dig out the frame prep tools, with emphasis on the bottom bracket facing tool. (Can't use the head tube reamer I have on this one- it has an integrated headset!) I also should have a project frame/fork dropping in for Twenty Nine Inches any day here as well. Gotta get things cleared aside for those things to happen.

On the ride front, I have committed to being near Waukee, Iowa on Sunday, March 8th for CIRREM. (Central Iowa Rock Road Endurance Metric) It is a 100K gravel grinder in the hilly country south of Des Moines. Maybe the single speed Raleigh Rainier will get the call for that? Hmm.....they're saying fatter tires would do better, and you know, it will be so early in the season that they just might be right. I know one thing, the weather could totally determine whether we ride in full winter gear, or ride it at all! But at any rate, it's something to look forward to, and if it does happen, it will be a great stepping stone to the Dirty Kanza 200. Honestly, it will be motivation to ride in February, if I can, and that will all be fitness in the bank for Sea Otter, which in the past has been done with zero training under my belt. Ouch! It showed last year too. Those hills they have out there are amazing. (By the way, I am not competing at Sea Otter, just demo-ing bikes.)

So, hopefully the little bit of rearranging I did last night will be the pebble that starts the avalanche of bicycle activity around here. I know one thing, I'm tired of how things are around here and ready for it to begin.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


<===There's a creek under all of that out there!

I woke up this morning to eight below! Egad! I've given up hope for this being a short winter. I think what we have here is a good ol' fashion Iowa winter. That's what it is all right.

Well, I figured it wasn't going to warm up too much, (-2 below as I type this) and the wind was not bad, so I went XC skiing again in The Green Belt. I layered up just right, and got some ragin' "beard ice" goin on. It was a good outing.

The snow was so cold, it sounded like two pieces of Styrofoam rubbing together as I skied along. Pretty cool! I got into a section where the tracks had been drifted in, and that section was so hard, my skis barely left an impression. Awesome! I haven't seen those snow conditions since 2000.

Then I just have to mention this. Some doofus went out and ran/hiked the trail right in the track. Great! Actually, I wasn't all that upset, since umpteen million wood ........I mean deer! Well, a lot of deer anyway.............they had also run up and down the track, completely obliterating it in places. I haven't seen them in there, those crafty vermin, but they leave plenty of evidence of their passing. More than just tracks. Scat, urine, rubbings, and cleared sections where they are grubbing for food. Man, wait till spring! Those varmints will have single track beaten in that you won't believe.

Until then, I'll just enjoy the scrunch-scrunch of the sub-zero snow under my skis.

Friday, January 23, 2009

48 Laps Around The Sun

Yep, today is the day I started this lap race called Life a looong time ago! It's been a great trip so far, and I plan on making many more laps yet.

Anyway, it's kind of funny really, birthdays and all. I mean, you get all hung up about certain things concerning age and what not, especially in this culture. I mean, I am over 30, so I'm not to be trusted, or dead, or both depending on your beliefs. I am over the hill, old and in the way, and irrelevant, if you pay attention to pop culture at all.

I say "Whatever!"

Heck, the other day I was thinking about my age, (Like for the first time in months probably) and I was amazed I am the age I am. I thought, "Really? I'm that old?". I know I don't feel that old! And how is that supposed to "feel" anyway? Heck, I haven't a clue!

Again, "Whatever!"

I remember back when I worked on cars, and it was my birthday. I told every person that day I saw it was my birthday. I thought, "Why not?" I'm not afraid of getting older, or what anybody thinks of it. Well, my co-workers thought I'd popped a screw loose. Oh well! I thought it was fun!

And isn't that what it's all about? Celebrating life? Having fun living it? I sure think so.

Give me bike, a long route, some friends to share it with, and I'm good. See ya down the trail on one of my future laps!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Changes and Things To Come

<===The Lynskey "Ridgeline" 29"er that is set to retail for sub 1300 clams!

It appears that the Lynskey Ridgeline 29"er will be making a limited engagement appearance on Iowa soil soon. If all pans out, a size Large will be prowling the woods in these parts, so keep yer eyes peeled for that this spring.

If you can't wait for that, Lynskey is taking orders now, so you can have your own gray metallic wonder bike. Cool!

In other bike news, that "north of the border" company is confirmed to have sent out a flat black hot rod frame and fork which should be showing up for a full on Twenty Nine Inches thrashing next week. Of course, there will be pics and news of the build up with ride details coming here as well. Look for a handle bar review on The Bike Lab to be included as well. Bonus! There will be other goodies and surprises coming with this project too, so stay tuned!

Finally, there is a newsy bit that features me! Guitar Ted is now the head cheese of the Crooked Cog Network. My spewing of screed has gotten me this far, so I figure I'll press onward through the fog to horizons unknown. Wahoo! Seriously though, I'll be the head writer of words now there and doing all of the other sundry tasks. It means that you won't see much, if any changes here, so no worries about this ol' blog.

Speaking of which, maybe its time to freshen up around here. Whatta ya think?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wednesday News And Views

Raleigh Rainier Bits: Some of you might remember that I had gotten a Raleigh Rainier single speed cyclo-cross bike awhile ago. Well, almost all of the bits and pieces are here now. Almost! A few key things are yet to arrive and then the build will commence. Documentation in photos will be provided!

Trans Iowa Tire Survey: The Ritchey Design sponsorship of Trans Iowa V5 required me to put out a call to all on the roster to get their tire size to me so the tubes Ritchey wants to provide, (one to each person on the roster) will fit the bikes they are going to use. Well, so far I have 46 people out of 75 responding and the tire size that seems to be the most popular so far is 700 X 35mm. I guess that means that if your tire blows out, chances are good that you could mug a nearby competitor for one of their wheels and it might fit!

Oddly enough, only two responders are riding 26 inch wheels.

You have until January 31st to get me the tire size you are using for T.I.V5 if you are on the roster and have not responded yet. If I do not hear from you, I will assume a size of 700 X 35mm and be done with it. Also, if you have come up against something that prevents you from coming to T.I.V5, please let me know! Hit me with an e-mail because I have a few anxious people yet on The Waiting List. Thanks!

Signs Of Slowing Down?: The buzz around the industry is that some companies are quietly laying off some employees, some are planning on cutting back a bit, and overall a general quietness blankets the cycling industry. I think that in some ways this shows that there are some smart folks running some of these companies. While cycling in general enjoyed an up year in '08, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that maybe things might not be as rosy in '09. Cutting back or at least holding course seems to be the prudent thing to do for now. perhaps this spring, when the weather breaks, we'll see how 2009 is going to go, but until then, it seems as though everyone is holding their breath.

No Slowing Down Here Though! Plans are being laid and things are in the pipeline that should prove to be the makings of a very busy spring here at Guitar Ted Laboratories. It's going to be really interesting with some of the products coming in for Twenty Nine Inches and some other changes in the making. Stay tuned! It certainly won't be boring here!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: Day Four: Wet, Wild, Wonderful! Part III

Today we rejoin the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" in Stevens Point, Wisconsin as Troy and Mark leave to look for Steve......

<====Artwork by "Dave The Skateboarder"

So, we took leave of Dave The Skateboarder and went back to that corner bar to get Steve. When we arrived, we found the bar in "full court press", full of college kids and loud music. We asked about Steve at the bar, but apparently the shifts had changed while we were gone. No one seemed to recognize his description. Finally, someone came out of the back to say that they recognized our description of Steve and that they thought he had left some time ago!

Needless to say, Troy and I were in panic mode! We rushed outside to grab our bikes, wildly throwing out ideas and theories as to what had become of Steve. Just as Troy was pronouncing some unrepeatable malediction against Steve, I spied his bike across the street in front of another bar.

Relieved, we walked across the street and entered the bar. Our feelings of relief were short lived though. As I walked in, I noticed a bar with large, powerful looking men in work clothes seated around it. One of them immediately motioned me over to himself.

<===The opposite side of Dave The Skateboarders art work.

As I approached he asked, "You know that guy?", as he pointed with his large man-paw in the general direction of an open area by the bar. I didn't need to ask him who he was talking about. I saw him immediately, wavering like a willow in the wind. It was Steve, being very loud and giving some guy some grief about something or other. Umm.........this wasn't good, not at all!

The large man spoke to me again, "You better get him outta here......NOW!" I could easily see that the request was not an optional one. The anger was palpable. I perceived that Steve was only moments away from something ugly. Really ugly!

Troy was incensed and I decided to get him out of there to wait for Steve and I outside. I tried talking Steve out, but he would have none of it. "I'm already in a bar!", he snorted, "Why do I need to go to another one?!!" Steve was apparently proud of his ability to slight these men without their reacting. What he didn't realize was that they could turn him into a wadded up mess in a heartbeat, and they knew it. It was only their strained capacity for mercy that was saving his bacon at that moment.

The patrons and the bartender started in on Steve then, telling him to get out. This only made Steve more obstinate. Things looked to be reaching a breaking point, when I suddenly had a plan. Now I'm not one to intentionally mislead folks for my own personal gain, but this situation called for desperate measures. I blurted out to Steve, "Hey, this bar has topless waitresses! The gals are naked!"

What can I say? Sex sells!

Steve backed down immediately, seemingly interested. I took the opportunity to get him out the door as fast as I could. Once I got out the door, I gave Troy the "high sign" and he caught on and played along like a champ. We escaped! Now it was back to The Mission Coffee House to see if Dave The Skateboarder could help us. When we got there, Steve wasn't going in because it wasn't the topless bar, obviously. So we had to have Dave come out and he graciously gave us detailed directions to the area where we could find the "topless bars", (Motels and Hotels!).

Now we were on our own, with a very inebriated Steve in tow. We had two or three miles on four lane streets to get there. Fortunately, the streets were quiet at this time of night. Steve was having control issues now, spontaneously swerving across two lanes of traffic without notice and miraculously not dumping it. After he narrowly missed taking us out, we put him behind us, and fretted about him the rest of the way.

Once we got out to the area where the motels were, Troy and I picked one out and rode up to it. Steve figured out what was going on now and would have nothing to do with it. He wanted to find these "topless bars" or whatever. Troy told him in no uncertain terms that he was on his own, we were going in to sleep. I tried to reason with him, but Steve mounted up and rode away. We turned our backs to him and walked into the motel, secured a room, and hauled our heavy touring rigs up the elevator to our place of rest. After some reflection on the evenings happenings, we turned in, not knowing what had become of our traveling companion.

Next week: Day Five: Backroads and Cow Barns.......

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fun In The Snow

It was as about as perfect as you could get for XC skiing on Sunday. Little to no wind, temps in the 20's, lots of powdery snow, and plenty of time on my hands.

With three days of sitting indoors waiting out the sub-zero bubble of air that had us in its grasp, I felt like a jailbird. Free baby, free!

I decided to hit up the Green Belt, since hardly anybody uses that area for XC skiing. I was right too, it looked like maybe only two or three other folks had ever been out there since the last big snow storm.

Cross country skiing makes three miles of trail seem like ten, at least from my bicycling mind's point of view. Little short chutes like the one pictured here take awhile longer to traverse on skis. On a bicycle, it's gone in an instant.

A lot of snow that was puffy meant that I sunk in pretty far in most places, but some stretches were pretty drifted in, like this one, and I didn't sink down quite so far.

I could have maybe used some gaiters, and wider skis today too. Here's a place where I cut in pretty deeply into the snow that was piled high out in the woods.

It was quiet, with a bit of snow flurries, and not a sound to be heard but the whoosh-whoosh of my ski-shuffle as I went along. Actually, I was pretty surprised by how well and how fast I went. It was my first time out this winter, and I only got out on the skis twice last year. (I think!)

The trail I was on passes under the old railroad bridge that was converted into a bike path. I stopped for a breather and fired off some shots with the camera. This one turned out fair, I thought. Kind of a geometrical maze of sorts. I am starting to like the camera thing. I spent a fair amount of time researching choices again, but I think I'm pretty sold on a Panasonic DMC LX 3.

It is waaaay more camera than I have the talent for, but its compact size, excellent lens, and low light sensitivity should prove to be an asset in my web work.

But enough about cameras. I just was super stoked to be out and getting some exercise. Happy that it felt warm, and that the wind wasn't howling anymore. (Saturday.....what was up with that!) It was fun to ski and do it as well as I've probably ever done it, albeit with plenty of rest stops! Gotta work on the engine!

I hope your weekend went well too!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A "How To" Worth Reading On Taping Drop Bars

When it comes to drop bar knowledge, you have to eventually make a stop at Matt Chester's place. The guy has delved into the history of drop bar geometry further than anybody I am aware of. He has tons of experience with riding drops, and several ideas that have been evolved through this experience are well worth checking into if you are interested in drop bars for mountain biking.
Well, I was cruising his site recently and came across this gem regarding how to make a padded drop bar set up and tape it. I have been experimenting on my own with lots of various set ups for a taping job, and ironically am super close to what Matt has going on here, which I found very encouraging.
So, I highly recommend hitting the link and copying and pasting that sucker to your hard drive, cause there is some hard won wisdom right there for the taking. Thanks to Matt for sharing that. I hope all you folks hitting up my blog for drop bar info will give a tip of your hat northward for the knowledge available from Matt.
A personal note: I was excited for three consecutive years to know that Matt Chester might be coming to do Trans Iowa, but it never panned out. One of my dashed hopes that I hope to rectify someday is to meet him and thank him. Until then, a digital high five!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday News And Views

On The Back Side? Looks like the cold is exiting stage left this morning. By Saturday we're supposed to be up near freezing. Yee ha! I think I will run around naked since I will be sweating in the overheated atmosphere. (Not! Just kidding!) But it will feel really warm after being way below zero around here for the last 48 hours. I went out and started my wife's car this morning at -24 degrees. Ya know, it really doesn't feel that much different than -10 degrees did the night before. I don't know, but it is a really weird deal when the air gets this cold.

So, yeah. What about bicycle stuff? Well, there hasn't been much to report lately. I should be getting a dump of parts needed to start building the Raleigh Ranier project soon. Once that starts I plan on documenting that and the results should show up on The Bike Lab and here. Stay tuned.... Then there is something black and ominous coming from north of the border to be built up and tested for a series on Twenty Nine Inches. What is it? Well, let's just say for now that it is something that wasn't good enough for this guy since he's a high falutin' on the grey metal machine. (Good for him, by the way. ) It's all good though. Look for the surprise to show up soon. Besides that, I got some more rotors to mount on some wheels that were missing those.

To be honest, with this weather I am not motivated at all to deal with bicycle stuff. It makes me depressed to look at the rigs and know that I can't ride them now without doing major frostbite damage and leaving my kids alone in the house for hours on end since they don't go to school in these ridiculous temperatures. Oh well.....this too shall pass...........

Trans Iowa Ritchey Sponsorship Update: As of this morning I have heard from 31 on the roster in regards to the call for your tire size that you will be running at T.I.V5. Get me your tire size if you have not done it yet here. I'll need to forward the results of the survey by January 31st, so unless you want a 700X35mm tube and a rim strip for a 700c wheel, you had better get on the stick. (Yes- that is the leading size in the survey so far)

In other T.I.V5 news, I need volunteers! If you can give up some major chunks of time on May 2nd-3rd, let me know here. I have a few souls lined up, but I could stand to have several more folks. Remember, volunteering for V5 gets you an automatic entry into V6 should it occur. You will be helping to run one or more of our three checkpoints or manning the finish line. You will be in close contact with the guys and gals in this event and get to talk to them, see what it takes to do the event, and get a feel for the atmosphere that I can't properly explain in words. I guarantee that you will enjoy it, if you are the least bit fascinated by ultra endurance events.

I'm hoping that we can have separate crews at all the checkpoints, but if you are up for the marathon. all-nighter, graveyard thing, that's cool. Just let me know. Also, if you are a photographer and want to take some killer pics of cyclists in rural Iowa in epic conditions, you are invited too. Let me know by hitting that e-mail link above and I can work through the details with you.

Normally this is the line where I encourage you to ride your bikes. I still desire that for you, but do please be careful about it with this crazy weather. Better to sacrifice a ride or two now to ride again in a month or so.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Historical 29"er Document (For Geeks Only!)

<===Click to enlarge.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for history. I guess it goes back to my love of stories, and it doesn't get anymore real than history, but anyway..........

Here we have a document that was posted up on's 29"er forum by an individual that said he dug it up out of his parts bin. It was handed out to product managers to help them understand this new category of bikes, and probably to help WTB sell off that first batch of Nanoraptors that they had made only two years before. This wasn't meant for consumers.

It is interesting to note the lack of hype in the message. It is a pretty straight forward statement on what to expect from a 29"er circa 2001/02. Beyond that, there are some things that I found rather interesting and noteworthy.

#1: Under the heading, "What Are The Design Challenges?" we learn that the image of the bike on the flyer is an image of a prototype 29"er built in 2001. I have read that WTB had a couple bikes built to have WTB people ride for testing. Perhaps this is one of those? Note the chain stay and wheelbase figures. You know, there are a lot of folks that would go nuts for those figures on a 29"er today! That's short!

#2: Under "Why Would Someone Want To Buy It?" we find a statement that skinny rubber can fit, making the bike more versatile. With recent specialization in 29 inch componentry, that is a qualified thought these days. See my recent Twenty Nine Inches post for a 2009 take on that subject.

#3: I thought the downsides portion was fair and to the point for 2001/02. Of course, advancements have been made, so a couple of those bullet points no longer are concerns.

#4: Finally, in the last statement, I thought this was very interesting: "Only time will tell, but many people have 700c Road Bikes and 26" wheel Mountain Bikes. This is something in between." Something in between, meaning part road bike, part mountain bike. That is exactly the train of thought that was pursued in the early 90's by Bianchi, Diamond Back, and a couple of other companies for their "hybrid" 700c mountain bikes. The very term "hybrid" comes from this philosophy on these early larger diameter wheeled bicycles meant for mixed terrain riding. It would seem that the author of this flyer (Mark Slate?) had still been trying to communicate to the product managers in this generally accepted way.

In a refreshing way though, I've got to hand it to whomever wrote this for the complete lack of any whiff of "zealousness" for the wheel size/tire format. Just a straight ahead take on what it was at the time. Nice. Some folks should take note of that in their own promotions of alternative wheel sizes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday News And Views

Cycling? What's That?: You may have noticed that I have not posted about riding lately. That's because- let's just get this out of the way- it has been a brutal winter. We just got dumped on again last night with at least 4-5 inches of pow-pow. Seriously.......down hill skiers would kill for this stuff. Why do we have it? I guess we have it so I can cross train. Then the cold. We're supposed to approach 20 degrees below zero tonight! Thankfully we are supposed to get into the upper 20's by the weekend.

Dirty Kanza 200: Allrighty then. I got into this dealio again. I made a family vacation plan that includes this. Unless something drastic happens, I'll be there. Otherwise, I am not going to say much about this. No "training updates", no plans hashed and rehashed on this site ad nauseum. Why? Personally, I don't want to raise my expectations to a point and have them dashed like last year, and it would be boring reading. Oh............I suppose there might be an off hand mention here and there. But now you know I'm going, and that's the main thing. Don't expect a whole lot more until I get to the event and afterwards. Over and out!

The Times They Are A Changin': Besides the obvious reference, I mentioned not long ago that there were some big changes coming for me. Well, here's a bit of an update: It's happening now. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I suspect that the changes will all be in place and then I will be free to make an announcement. Suffice it to say, it is a big deal!

Okay..........I get to stay with my kids all day. School is out due to the snow. Yahoooooo!!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: Day Four: Wet, Wild, Wonderful! PartII

Today the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" is mired in wet weather and sheltering in a college town bar. We pick up the action there, but first: Today's photo is from The Old Barn campground again. Troy and Steve are getting ready to hit the hay.

The Steven's Point Debacle. Yeah, this part of the story could stand on its own. It was the defining moment of the tour. A point where we all found out some things about each other.

It all started in that college town bar, the name of which isn't recorded. It was as different from The Cranberry Inn as night is from day. We all felt much more at "home" here, that's for sure. It was still early in the evening, so the place was pretty empty. We learned about the special where if you drank six pitchers of beer, the seventh was free. (Gotta love college town marketing!) We said we'd go for it. I'm sure that the bartender didn't think the three of us could pull it off, but he didn't know us!

About six o'clock, and well on our way to pitcher number six, it was determined that we should eat something. The kitchen was closed, however, so we asked the bartender to allow us to order in pizza from Domino's. Now I was sure that this wasn't right, not until I saw the astonished pizza delivery man drop off our steaming hot pie! Weird!

After the pizza was long gone, and we had triumphantly polished off the free seventh pitcher of brew, we decided we had better find a place to stay the night! It was getting busier in the bar by now, and Steve had a mind to hang out longer. Troy and I had concerns about lodging; however, so we set out to do our own "information gathering" without Steve. We ambled out of the door into the dank, wet night. We found our bicycles, mounted up, and headed off in the direction we thought was most likely for finding lodging.

The street was strangely devoid of traffic, quiet, and the night sky was black. Suddenly a strange higher pitched rumble could be heard in the distance. I looked up to see a figure piloting a skateboard with a backpack on. The individual was going right up the middle of the street towards us. As the skateboarder approached, I heard a voice hail us, and we stopped. It was a young college aged guy. He asked us what we were doing, and when we said that we were bicycle touring to Canada, he was impressed. Troy asked him about hotels, and he said that we should follow him to another local hangout, where he might score us free lodging. He said his name was Dave, and took off down the road with us in tow.

The joint was called The Mission Coffee House, and it was full of college aged people. Inside we were met with lots of friendly smiles and questions about our trip. Our "host", Dave the Skateboarder was busy trying to secure lodging. We were busy chatting in our alcohol induced hazes. We were oblivious to the outside world and enjoying ourselves immensely.

Now I'm not going to pretend to know the details of this time at The Mission Coffee House. I will say that for whatever reason, it was as if we had walked into a modern day Never-Never Land. We lost all semblance of responsibility and time stood still.....or it seemed to. I have no idea how long we were there, but it seemed like a very long time. Without scoring any overnight accommodations, we thought we should go get Steve and bring him back to The Mission Coffee House because it was such a cool place. So we took our leave of Dave the Skateboarder and our new acquaintances with a promise that we would be back with our traveling companion.
Next week: The final installment of Wet, Wild, Wonderful! where we narrowly avoid disaster only to lose one of the crew!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Too Much White? How About Some Green!

<===It won't be long and I'll be bashing through the vege again on my mountain bike.
photo: Gnat

Okay, I was going through some photos this weekend and came across these. Wow! I miss "green". In fact, these photos just jumped at me with their "green-ness'. I guess you don't know what you've got till it's gone.

And today we're looking at more snow and then into the deep freeze for the rest of the week.

<===photo: Gnat

It's weird to think that in just a few short months we'll be right back to this sort of scenery. Buff trails, warm weather, and blue skies. I can't wait! I guess that's what winter is for. It makes you appreciate the rest of the year all the more. I know I sure do.

In the meantime I suppose winter does have its own charm. I mean, I got out this past Saturday on a crazy bright, clear blue sky day to sled with my son. We went up and down that hill until we were both clapped out, frozen, and covered in ice and snow. Good times for sure!

<===photo: Gnat

But right about now I was wanting to think about green instead of white. About riding in the woods, and not about shoveling more snow from out around the cars again.

Oh well, I suppose when it is 90 degrees in the shade and the humidity is about 80% I'll look back on some pictures from this winter and be hoping for some white stuff!

Isn't that the way it goes?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gravel Grinder News

Dirty Kanza 200 Registration Open! The very fine event run by Heartland Racing, The Dirty Kanza 200 had its registration open at 8:00am this morning with spots available for 100 lucky folks. Hurry up and enter this late May event, as last year they filled up the roster pretty quickly.

I've done this event before and it comes highly recommended by me. The terrain is beautiful and the folks that put this on are top notch. You won't be disappointed if you go, and I personally guarantee that!

New Michigan Gravel Grinder Event: A new Michigan based gravel grinder event bows in March of this year. Called the "Barry-Roubaix", it is a two lap event over a mostly gravel based course measuring approximately 31 miles. An option to sign up for two laps exists making the total for the top classes 62 miles. The event, which takes place Saturday, March 28th, is based out of Middleville, Michigan which is located about 25 miles South-southeast of Grand Rapids. Registration is open now for this new event online. For more information, check out the website for the event here.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday News And Views

Ritchey Design Sponsors Trans Iowa: As many of you know, Ritchey Design is sponsoring T.I.V5 with tubes and rim strips for the participants. I want to thank Ritchey, and the 17 guys that have responded to my call for your tire/wheel size. The rest of you guys need to get on the stick here! Let me know by e-mail what wheel size, ( ie: 26", 700c), and what tire size you plan on running at T.I.V5 so you will have a tube and rim strip awaiting you at the race packet pick up. (Details on the pickup to be posted later.) If you don't get me your tire size/wheel size in by the end of the month, I am just going to tell Ritchey to supply the non-responders with 700X35mm tubes and rim strips to fit a 700c wheel. (That seems to be the going size so far)
Once again: Thanks to Ritchey Design!
How Low Can You Go?: Once again, the subject of low, low gears on a 29"er has been broached on Click the link and gaze at the 39T rear cog in that cassette. Yes....39T!! It is pretty amazing that the derailleur will work on that dog, but apparently it does. Although a 39T rear cog is total overkill for most Mid-West riding, I am still intrigued by this. It would be cool just to get one and make it work.
However; I can certainly see where the 36, 38, and yes, maybe even a 39T cassette cog would be worth while. Last fall riding at the Interbike Outdoor Demo, I rode a fire road back up into Bootleg Canyon which was an ever increasing grade as you went on.........and on........and on, for well over a mile! The fire road wasn't very technical, but imagine riding technical single track like that for more than a mile. How about miles? Yes, they have climbs like that out there. Apparently, so do they that live amongst the Alps. So, as "clown-bike" as it looks, this idea has legitimate reasons to be. Look for Shimano, (or someone else) to be making a 12-36T cassette sooner than later.
Save Me From The Tweakers!: Obviously, the weather sucks for riding across much of North America. How do I know this? By the increase in inner-web tweakers. The forums are full of these nincompoops that are splitting hairs and declaring their psuedo-knowledge as infallible truths. If you do not agree, you are castigated as worse than a leper and are designated as a target for unwarranted personal attacks. Nice!
While these tweakers are always there, it seems that the disease is spreading now that ice and snow have rendered much of our trails unrideable. Rain and dreary conditions have conspired to make many of us into these ogres of the net. So, let's all hope for some better weather and that folks can get out there and ride instead of pounding out inane drivel on their keyboards. It will make for a much better world. Trust me!
Okay, that's it for this week folks! I gotta go out and shovel snow. Yay me!
Ride a bike if you can!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Odds And Ends

Here are some tidbits I've got to clear outta my brain today. Have fun with this stuff!

Trans Iowa V5: Go to the Trans Iowa site and check out the post from 1/7/09 and read carefully. We need your assistance in getting a sponsor some info for your schwag bag. (I know, I know! Just yesterday I said schwaggage was going to suck this year, but not at Trans Iowa apparently!)

Big Wheel Deals: Got the itch to upgrade your wagon wheels? Building up a 29"er and need something special in some hoops? Go here and look around. Big Wheel Deals is Mike Curiak's "sale blog" where you will find wheels that need homes from overstock, show bikes, and even some super cool, proto stuff that Mike is through with from time to time. In fact, right now there is a set of cool snow goin' 29"er wheels with tires. Getcher self sum!

Ergon Introduces The BC3 Back Pack: Finally, Ergon has released the waterproof, live-outta-it-fer-days back pack for you back country bicycling adventurers. I wrote up a post on it over at The Bike Lab. I will say here that it looks pretty well thought out with better access to pockets, what looks like a redone sternum strap anchor, and they even threw in a built in emergency whistle on that sternum strap. You could even use it for commuting, especially now that the fabric is waterproof, and you can get a whole shower inside of the thing. Well, maybe not a whole shower, but a whole change of clothes and some Irish Spring for sure! . J-kove must be influencing the designs over there at Ergon now because the BC3 is in "Kerkove Nation" approved black.

Okay, that's all I got today. I hope your area is rideable and warmer than here!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Winter Blahs

<====Notice the rack? It's a hint as to what is coming in the spring....
Okay, the monkey is off my back now. I actually rode in 2009. took five days to get that done! Circumstances being what they were, it was actually my first chance to ride, and I wasn't going to pass it up, not even due to ice.
Yes, our area is covered in a thin sheet of ice, although it is receding somewhat. I did get slammed yesterday in an alley coming to work. Boy! Do I feel it this morning, Can you say "stiff"?
The Fargo has a rack now, which is a portent of things to come. I am slowly getting that plan together. More on that stuff later though.....
I see gas prices are creeping back up towards $2.00 a gallon. We didn't think it would stay cheap forever, did we? At least I didn't think it would stay there. It makes me wonder, with all of this economic turmoil, what we will see in terms of cycling for 2009. Here's a couple things I think might happen......
#1: Less attendance at races. Let's face it, a lot of people are going to "pull in their horns" this year. Cutting expenses where they can will mean less attendance at races all across America. Gas prices will have an effect here too.
#2: Less schwag in the bag: I fore see less of the goodies in race packets due to marketing budgets getting hacked. I also wonder about beer. (Yes.....I really do!) Beer gets tossed around a bit at events I go to. Less free beer and less premium brews will be seen in 2009 at events is my prediction. It'll be more like, "That'll be $2.50 for the PBR sir."
#3: More fixing up old bikes, less buying new ones: Along with the reduced spending, I see bicycle sales taking a hit too. I don't think repairs will suffer though. I think that will still be at a high level, just as it has been for the past couple of years. Repairs will be one of very few bright spots for bicycle shops this year, I think.
So those are a few things I see as distinct possibilities for '09. Well, that and Lance getting spanked on the roads of Italy this spring. I think his comeuppance is due.
You see, these are the things I think of if I don't get to ride! I suppose I need to move to Lincoln Nebraska. People are losing their technology and riding all the time. Sounds like Paradise to me!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: Day Four: Wet, Wild, Wonderful!

Now entering Day Four, The "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour" awakes to a soggy situation....
Today's picture is of Troy checking out his parking job at the Old Barn campground at the end of Day One.

Sometime during the night, I sort of realized in a sleeping stupor that I was getting rained on. I moved towards the wall of the church. Ahh! Then about an hour later, I had to move again. No big deal. Then about another hour later, I had to move again! Up against the wall now, no more room to move! I kept scooching up against the wall until it was useless, and I got up to check on Troy. Thunder could be heard in the distance. It was raining heavily now with the wind blowing steadily out of the East, right into the wall of the church.

Steve heard me stirring and stuck his head out of his tent. "Sucker!", he said sardonically as he darted back into the dry confines of his tent. Troy got up then and we went about packing up our soggy sleeping bags for our days trip. At least our bikes were dry for the moment, and our tents were too.

Finally the rain gave way, although the skies remained gray and menacing. It didn't look promising, but we decided to get going as soon as possible, since we had no idea how long we had until it started in raining again.

Well, we didn't have long to wait for that answer as it started in raining again just as we were pulling out of Nekoosa. Then before long, we were all soaked. Well, I am one to think that once you are soaked, you can't get any wetter, so I was good to go. Not so with Troy and Steve though. They were not happy campers! As soon as we entered Wisconsin Rapids, not more than seven miles up the road, we halted where Troy and Steve had spotted a shelter house in a park by the Wisconsin River. It was cold, we were wet, and not motivated to move anytime real soon. The rain fell so hard here that the sky looked all grey and we couldn't see across the river.

After awhile, the charm of the park grew old and we knew we had to move on. The rain seemed to have let up. We saddled up with the goal of finding some food. Not far up the road we found a busy little restaurant where we were seated as far back by the kitchen as the wait staff could get us. I didn't blame them at all since we were all wet and dressed rather oddly.

After some good grub, (even Troy was pleased!), and a laugh or two, we found our way to a local bike shop where Steve wanted to buy some full finger gloves for his shivering hands. At the shop we asked about our route. Green Bay would be the shortest distance, but it would also have the worst possible traffic. It was decided that we should bear north of there to Marinette which would take us through quieter back roads.

Leaving Wisconsin Rapids, we were told to go out on Highway 34 to a cut off to a County P. Then it was about 17 miles to Stevens Point. Well, we were a little fuzzy on the distance to the cut off. We got to a point that made us feel we were too far down the road, so we turned back to look for the turn off. We ended up back in town and we were getting panicky. I got separated from Troy and Steve at one point and thought I had lost them. Finally, we got turned around, went a little further up the road, and found the turn off. We were all feeling some pressure to salvage what we could of a "wasted day" in terms of miles, so we pressed on hard now. We had only put in about 20 miles. It had quit raining for the time being, and we had a clear path in front of us.

That enthusiasm was dashed when it started in raining again. Troy and Steve were dejected. I actually found myself leading them for much of this stretch. I thought it pretty amazing since these guys were seasoned cyclists. Here I was, leading them up the road, and at a pretty decent clip too. I think rain doesn't quite have the effect on me that it does on others, but who knows?

I do know that Steve and Troy were really glad to roll across that bridge into Stevens Point. They both were frustrated and were ready to stop. It was around 4pm when we spied a corner bar, and it was agreed, even by Troy, that we should stop and go in. Apparently, beer was the antidote for a bad day on the bike. We found a safe place to park our bikes and walked in hoping to assuage our sullen countenances.

Stay tuned for Part II of Wet, Wild, and Wonderful next week!

Monday, January 05, 2009

To "B" Or Not To "B"? What's Up with 650B?

This Origin 8 brand 650B prototype was reportedly scuttled due to lack of interest. Could the whole 650B movement suffer the same fate?

In a recent thread on, a poster posed the question, "What's up with the 650b movement, or lack there of?"

Noting that he hadn't seen much about Haro's Beasley 650B bike, he began poking around and found out that there wasn't much "buzz" going on with 650B at all. Well, I guess I would have to agree with his assessment.

Engaging some of the 650B proponents on the thread, I found that they had a ton of passion, enthusiasm, and reasons why 650B should be, but no one really had an answer for the original posters questions, until this was posted up by the head honcho of Spooky Bikes, who is a big proponent of the B sized wheels: "650b stuff is still super rare. There are maybe a few hundred people worldwide riding 650b stuff. Almost all of them post on Almost all of them heard about 650b stuff via MTBR. Hell, I make 650b stuff and I heard about it via mtbr!"

So the easy answer would be that you have to be a visitor of, or you will almost assuredly miss the 650B! Well, it may be said that is the "epicenter" of all that is 650B, but that would be a bit naive. There are several sites related to this wheel size and I think that the numbers of folk that have at least heard of 650B is actually quite large. Probably much larger than what is suggested by the quote above, albeit he is most likely referring to Pacenti tire equipped 650B bikes. In that case, maybe. But still doubtful.

So leaving out roadies, tourists, and whole foreign countries that have large amounts of 650B cyclists, we'll focus on the fat tired set here. And back to that question, eh? Why aren't we hearing more?

Well, it is really hard to say. 650B proponents say "'s going to happen" with fingers pointed across the ponds at companies that have promised 650B treads, including Schwalbe, Kenda, IRC, and WTB- not to mention Mr. Pacenti's own brand which is expanding its offerings. Tires are coming, so when they get here, there will be more interest. That's the line from that camp.

Hmmm.......well, I'm not convinced. I don't think a slew of new tire offerings will help that much. It certainly won't hurt the cause, but I see something here that isn't being mentioned by the 650B fans. Something that's indicating that the 650B hasn't grabbed the imagination of the mountain bikers like the 29"er did. What is it? Grassroots interest, that's what. Not that 650B doesn't have a grassroots type of interest,'s all grassroots interest! But 650B doesn't have the type of growth at a purely interest level that 29"ers enjoyed early on.

Let's just take Guitar Ted as an example, shall we? I heard about 29"ers around about 2000 on, of all places, Okay, that was just a year after "The Tire" was introduced, which launched the modern 29"er into existence. Needless to say, there wasn't anybody selling 29"ers at the local bike shop, and getting a 29"er was akin to buying a Mountain Bike in 1979. (Yes.....Mountain Bike was actually a brand name at that time!) Did that dampen my curiosity in the format? Nope! And it didn't for a lot of other folks either. Apparently there were so many of us out there, that by the time I bought my Karate Monkey in the spring of 2003- just four years after The Tire was introduced- there was a major brand distributing 29"ers and a major warehouse distributing frames and forks. Certainly there were far more than a few hundred people on board then, and certainly there were more than a few hundred people on board with the format two years earlier, which I can vouch for, having been posting on's 29"er forum at that time.

Now 650B fans will say to you that the wheel size is ahead of the curve in comparison to 29"ers, or at least they used to! Folks from Kirk Pacenti on down have stated that the 650B offerings are 3-5 years ahead of where 29"ers were at this stage in the game. Now they are backing off that a bit, but in reality, this is mostly a true statement. Where 650B is behind the 29"ers at this point is in the overall interest level. Post activity on's Alternative Wheel Size forum, if that can be used as a gauge, is nowhere near the interest level that 29ers were enjoying in 2001/2002. So, I think it is fair to say that equipment choices are not going to help a whole lot. At least not if I can use the history of the modern 29"er as a gauge.

This 650B equipped Haro Werx Sonix was a test of 650B interest by Haro at 2007's Interbike. The platform will become officially available in 650B in 2010. Will it be too late?

What is the answer then? Why isn't there more "buzz",more grassroots interest? I can not answer that question effectively. What I can say is that I am sticking to my previously held opinion that the cycling industry and cyclists will find it hard to support three mountain bike wheel sizes. I also still think that 650B will not go away, but it will most certainly not attain the popularity that 29"ers currently enjoy without unseating 26"ers or 29"ers. 650B has been and most likely always will be an "under the radar", "mtb-geek" sort of faction, much like it is in relationship to road biking on the pavement side. That's what I think until I see some convincing evidence to the contrary, and more tires ain't it.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Looking Forward To......

<===I'll be getting a new camera for work and for taking better shots than I can get now, for one thing!

Well, 2009 is here and there are several things I'm shooting for and planning for the year, some of which I want to write down here. In no particular order....

#1: Riding even more than I did last year

Last year was a record year for consistent riding for me. I want to build on that for 2009. I'm not going to commit to saying "I'll do this or that" just yet, because I want to keep my options open for the time being, but suffice it to say that more dirt is on the menu for 2009!

#2: Get better writing skills and photo skills Well, this goes right along with my work, so no surprises there, but I want to be better at what I do. Better at the blog here and better at Crooked Cog stuff. Where I write, I want to do it even better than ever and when I take a picture, I want it better than I have ever done. No matter where that is. There is a lot to learn, and I'm willing to take it all in.

#3: Revive the artist part of my talents Yeah, I play guitar, but what a lot of you do not know is that I used to do painting, drawing, and jewelry work. I've let that slip over the last 15 years. Well, there is a project I agreed to doing that will help revive that end of my interests, and honestly, the photography stuff I have done helped me realize I was neglecting something I shouldn't be. Look for some tidbits on that to start creeping in from time to time.

#4: Have fun with my family and friends This may be the most important thing of all. If I can't do this, then the rest won't matter. I am also officially declaring that I am not participating in this recession/depression either. That will only get in my way of accomplishing this goal. So, if I seem a little flippant about some stuff that others are wringing their hands about, you'll know why! I'm going to enjoy my time with friends and family to the fullest extent that I can, because someday things will be different, and the time to make memories is now. So look out!

Well, that's just a taste of what will go down in 2009, and more than half of it I don't have a clue about yet. I am excited to see it all unfold, the good and the bad. Here's to a great New Year for all of you too!