Saturday, May 30, 2009

DK 200: Brootal!

I'll have a full recap coming with pics, but the race was brootal! Winds in some sections were in excess of 40mph and the temperature was in the mid 90's. I made it to the first check point before sickness and back spasms said, "No Mas!"

As of 11:00pm there had been only three finishers.


I was happy to be part of it, I just wish I could have gone further. I gave everything I had to get to where I did though, so no shame in pulling the plg.

Stay tuned.....

Friday, May 29, 2009

DK 200: Pre-Race

Made it down okay and have done the pre-race meet up. Fatty stole my pink water bottle, but he gave it back right away. Some "usual suspects" and new faces here. Looks like the event brought in about 70 folks.

Record temps here forcasted for tomorrow. Hydrate, eat, hydrate, hydrate, eat, pedal, pedal, pedal!

I'll post more probably Sunday.

Have a great weekend ya'll!

Going, Going.........

Sorry about the late post today, but I'm busy packing to go to Kansas today. It's Dirty Kanza 200 time! I'll likely update things once we get down there, then the event is tomorrow. Look for a short recap on Sunday or Monday from somewhere out on the road.

Till then, ya'all have fun, stay safe, and ride yer bikes!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

This Or That

<====Lets see, replaceable rings that are reasonably priced, solid construction, cheaply priced, standardized BCD and interface. What's not to like?
Wednesday the inner-web was a twitter about the SRAM XX group. Okay, we all knew it was coming. 10 speed mtb stuff. Ugh! Okay, the good thing is they had the sense to do a lower gear rather than fill in a gap inbetween 11 and 34T. The ten speed cassette goes to 36T. Okay, that part is smart, but the rest is just waaaay out there and unnecessary. For instance, SRAM created a new BCD of 120/80 for the XX crankset. Wha?........ Why?? The crank I have pictured above is 104/64 BCD. We have been working with this standard for many years now. It would support SRAM's chain ring sizes. It would be stiff enough, so I ask you: "Why?" (I think you all can figure out two reasons, both starting with "m", ending with "y" and symbolized by "$" and "$") There isn't any other good reason for it. Period.
Then you have the fact it is the first. That always makes it tough on the "rule" breaker. So you have to wonder why they would want 10 speeds. What good is it?
Well, I suppose for racing it might be something that you could argue for. Racers want to have the jumps between gears be minimal. Or so we're told. I dunno.........I've seen guys smoke courses on 8 speeds, 7 speeds, heck..........single speeds! Whatever. 10 speeds? Really?
Then you have all 10 cogs jammed into the same space that we made available for 7 speeds back when it went from six to seven the 80's? how does that work exactly? Well, wheels were compromised and parts got thinner. Chains got narrower, cogs don't wear as long, breakage happens more. 10 speed? Guess what will happen? And those 10 speed parts cost what? Yeah, open the wallet, and open wide.
Don't worry though, more 10 speed stuff will be coming, and it will trickle down into lower end groups. Shimano will do it sooner than later. Then 9 speed will become the realm of Alivio, Acera, and Tourney. Folks will flock to e-bay to find and trade for ancient, retro 9 speed stuff.
Sheesh! I sure am glad I figured out single speeding!
But hopefully other companies will step in to fill the void. Maybe somebody like Origin 8, who are doing the 2 X 9 crank above. Sensible 29 X 44 tooth rings in the 104/ 64BCD, and all for a MSRP of $100.00. That's smart. While it isn't super light weight, or "blingy", it just works. Maybe more companies will see the madness, and step in to do more "sensible" components that work off tried and true standards. I figure the first company that does a spit polish, finely tuned, lightweight 8 speed group is going to have a hot seller on their hands. That's what I think.
This, or that............
I know which I'd rather have!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

DK 200: Training Ride Report

<===The final Dirty Kanza 200 set up.

I went on a final DK 200 training/shakedown cruise last Monday. This is the set up I am going with. I had the full load on, just so I would be ready. I even dressed like I will for the event, just in case.

The basic foundation, of course, is the Salsa Cycles Fargo, which I feel is a perfect rig for the person that wants to complete an event like Dirty Kanza. It isn't the fastest rig you could take into an event like this, but it definitely would be the most efficient and comfortable rig for the rider, when you take all the factors into consideration. Just one thing that quickly comes to mind is the fork. Salsa Cycles has obviously put a lot of effort into this fork, and it shows. I haven't ever really said much about it, because, well.....the rest of the bike sort of overshadows it. However; last Monday, I could literally see the fork working like crazy and I wasn't feeling anything at the bars. Nothing. Nada. Zip! That's awesome, because normally this isn't what you would expect from a tough, braze on laden steel fork. It's just one of the reasons that the Fargo is a supremely comfortable rig for the long hauls.

<===Banjo Brothers top tube bag thingie.

I chose this Banjo Brothers bag for the top tube because it isn't too big, and it rides on the rough gravel without moving. It has a clear flap that Velcros over as a cover, so you can see what is or isn't left inside. I will be putting my head light's external battery pack, a cell phone, a camera, some wet wipes, and a bit of nutrition in there.

The piping is reflective too. A bonus if I end up riding into the night. (I probably will!)

<=== From the Land of Misfit Bags....

I had a nice old Kangaroo seat bag on my Fargo for a bit, and it would have worked, but I wanted a rain jacket that would work as a cool weather covering. I found that in the Endura Stealth jacket, but it isn't the most packable jacket in the world. So I was pondering what to do, when I came across this red beauty in the "long forgotten" department at work. It was a take off from a trade in, I imagine. It doesn't have any identification as to the maker, but it looked to be really solidly made with double gnarly Velcro seat post straps and nylon strapping for the back end that slipped through the snap down brackets on the top of the bag. What is even better is that I can get the Stealth jacket in with the entire contents of the old bag, plus another tube, patch kit, and multi tool with room to spare. Would it stay stable on rough gravel? Well, after 40 miles, it showed no signs of slipping, movement, or anything negative to put me off from taking it, so I am taking it. We'll see how that works out.

<=== The hoops of high techy-ness.

The wheels will be the carbon fiber rimmed, American Classic hubbed, Edge Composites set up. I will admit that these wheels are crazy expensive, but they ride really nicely on gravel by reducing vibrations a ton. Stuff that would normally rattle me enough to cause fatigue will take a lot longer to get to me with these wheels on board. They are pretty light and strong to boot, so I thought a 200 mile ride in the Flint Hills would be just the ticket for these.

<==== Probably one of my favorite things about the Fargo: The water bottle mounts!

Five bottle mounts, (I could have set it up with six!) should get me from check point to check point with plenty of water- none of which will be on my back- which will also reduce fatigue on my body that would cause me to not be as comfortable on the bike. The bottles all stay put, are easy to reach, (yes, even the fork mounted ones) , and do not mess with the handling of the bike to any great degree. The Fargo also has a pump peg, so my favorite Blackburn frame pump comes along. (Note the zip tie rear peg!) The tires are the WTB Vulpines which roll really well on gravel, have a pretty thick tread area, and the WTB tough side walls that will hopefully repel the flint rock down there. I will inject the tubes with a bit of Caffelatex for good measure.

Well, that's the main set up. I will give a report afterward on the performance of these things and a rundown on my performance on the flinty roads of Kansas next week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Race Against Death Tour: Day Three- Over The Border

After a brutal 83 miles on Day Two, the "Race Against Death Tour" riders depart Correctionville, Iowa to cross the border.....

Wednesday, August 9th, Correctionville, Iowa: We awake to cloudy skies and warm, humid air. Getting packed up and ready to go doesn't take too long. I am informed that until I can show that I am recovered, Troy and Ryan will carry one of my front panniers each. We get settled in without much conversation and try to get back on track with the tour route.

Troy was getting a bit frustrated with the route and with the direction we were heading in, so he made a call to stop at Moville, Iowa to wash clothes and figure out some alternative route. Originally we were going to go slightly north to include Tim's hometown on the ride, but since he wasn't with us, it didn't make sense anymore. Troy suggested running straight into Sioux City on Highway 20, which was a four lane at this point with a wide paved shoulder. I wasn't too keen on it, but Ryan didn't think it would be too bad, so after the clothes were dry, we were off again on the road.

Of course, we didn't get in too much conversation on this busy, noisey road. Troy led at his usual fast pace up the long grades. This was actually a good route from the standpoint of the grade of this road versus the county roads, which would have been steeper and had more climbing.

Once we reached the outskirts of Sioux City, the intensity level went way up. Adrenaline caused about a five to ten mile an hour increase in our already fast speed. Shouts and responses were given as commands and suggestions were made in haste to avoid traffic and get us downtown where we hoped to find food. Once off the main highway, we were all breathless and needed a stop. We wandered a bit to come right by a Godfather's Pizza at about the noon hour. Troy used to work at a Godfather's and knew about the noon buffet that they had. It was cheap, we were right there, so we went in.

It was quite a sight, as we three grubby travelers were rubbing shoulders with businessmen and office girls on their lunch hours. Lots of weird sideways glances, but we took it all in stride. We figured on being a bit different, on sticking out, so it wasn't any big deal.

Upon leaving Sioux City, the intensity level shot back up for a bit. The road we took was a major highway across the Missouri. We were out of Iowa, but no time to take note of that right then. We had our hands full with getting through traffic, navigating, and trying to keep up maximum speed right after plowing through a buffet line.

We got across the river, off on a side street, and we were lost. Consulting the maps a bit, we decided we were in South Sioux City, and that we needed to resupply our grub at the next supermarket. So we opted to head up a major through way to see if we could find something. On the way, we had to stop for the passage of a rather long freight train. Troy was nonplussed. After the train went by, we got to a grocery store within a few blocks.

After resupply, I was getting mounted up and as I started rolling away, I noted a fine looking lass at the vending machines, so I impersonated Butthead, from the then popular "Beavis and Butthead Show", and spouted out, " Hey Baby! uhh....heh heh!" To which a flabbergasted Ryan responded with a burst of laughter. This started a theme for the rest of the trip: Comedic relief, which would rear it's head at the oddest of times.

Next Week: Leaving the city for the small towns.......

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

<===The results of Saturday's "high speed cable" run in. (It is going to be fine, it just looks bad!)

I hope all of you readers have a respectful, fun, and safe Memorial Day. I'll be going out for a Dirty Kanza 200 training ride and will have a report posted tomorrow.

Thanks for reading and have go ride your bikes!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

High Speed Cable: Photo Blog

<====MTBidwell's ride: SE Racing Stout disguised as a PK Ripper. Cool K&N decal too!

We were at The Camp for an 8:00am ride.

<=====El Redg's Specialized Rockhopper 29"er.

One of two gearies out of the five of the bicyclists.

Six total folks......more on that in a bit!

<====Captain Bob's sweet Teesdale custom SS.

He had the fork crown and drop outs on this fork painted to match.

<====Teesdale's new font? I don't know, but I'd never seen it before on one of his bikes. Nice!

I rode the Lynskey Ridgeline 29"er SS, but ya'all don't want to see that, now do you?

<====At the end of the ride we all got caught out in the rain coming back from the South Side. Nobody cared, and we all had huge perma-grins from our little single track feast.

<===The Mighty Casey was riding the only 26"er in our group, but that's okay. We play with all mountain bikers!

TMC has a 29"er, by the way, and he's fast no matter which one he's on!

<===Jeremey making sure we are documented on Facebook and the amazing Andrew, who ran with us the entire first loop! He kept up too. He is training for an off road marathon in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota later in the year.

I've a feeling he'll do rather well!

<===El Redg! He was riding only the North side and then the gravel to and from the South side. He bailed early, and was the only one of us that had the sense enough not to ride in the rain!

He's smart like that. Crazy smart!

<=====And this blurry, out of focus pic is the highlight of the story today. You see, El Redg was turning around at our entrance to the South Side trails. Captain Bob, The Mighty Casey, and MTBidwell were all ahead and didn't hear El Redg say he was going back. I stopped to thank him for the ride and wish him well. So, as I turn around and look down the service road, (a service road I had never ridden in on, mind you), I could see the three others up the trail and thought it would make a great shot if I could get my dang point and shoot outta my jersey pocket, flip the cover, and take a shot in time. Okay, now look real carefully at the photo. See that small pole on the extreme right hand side just about half way up from the lower right hand corner? Yeah.......tough to see? Uh huh.........sure is.

Well, that pole, and its mate across the service road, which you can not make out in this pic, are strung together with a steel cable about 3/4's inch in diameter. You might guess at my speed by the blurring of the photo, and yes..............I had no idea the cable was there!

So I got clothes lined, miraculously right across my midsection with my left bicep taking the brunt of the impact. My right hand was still holding the camera up to take another shot after this one here, but I never got that chance.

Somehow, the cable which hangs only about two feet above the ground in the middle, slipped up over my front wheel, up over the head tube of the bike, grazed the handle bars, and went across me, stopping me dead in my tracks in the space of about two foot of distance. Can you say "deceleration"? It was like an aircraft landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Whoa there!

No harm done to the bike, I didn't fall off, and no broken bones. I got a seriously heinous bruise on my bicep, and my upper body is all sore already. But as you might expect, I finished out the ride!

The guys felt bad after hearing my loud exclamation as I hit the whatever-it-was that stopped me. (I had no clue at the time!) They came rushing back, but thankfully, not to a seriously injured rider. It could have been bad. Really bad!

But I ride to live another day! ( it "live"..............erm..............ah, whatever!)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gravel Grinder News

Hey ya'all! This is a Gravel Grinder News edition for your upcoming gravel adventures. Ya'all take note now, ya hear?

Dirty Kanza 200: Wahoo! Only 7 days till this dust up happens in the flint Hills of Kansas. Here's the great deal for the rest of ya'all. They have an official (sort of) blog. Check it out here. Personally, I have been tweaking my set up further and I'm about set to go. One more test session on some gnarly hills in an undisclosed location in Iowa and I'll be set to go.

Pirate Cycling League: Hey, if you haven't seen what the Lincoln Crew has been cookin' up, then you haven't seen nuthin' yet! Check out the good adventures on cracked up limestone and dirt here. The calendar is half over, but the good thing about that is that there is half a calendar of events left. Sweet!

Kansas Cyclist: Hey, Iowa isn't the sole gravel kingdom, ya know? Check out these Kansan Kats! They got it goin on. A whole page devoted to gravel rides right here.

Minnesota Scene: I would be remiss if I didn't mention our Minnesota Gravel Grinders. The Almanzo 100, which happened just last weekend, and the Ragnorok 105, which was in April.

And In Our Little Corner Of The World.... Besides Trans Iowa, there are several gravel events happening. Local race team, Bike Tech Racing has some stuff up their sleeve, as I understand, so check out their site here for updates coming soon. 1200 Miles And A Cup O' Dirt is a kind of "do-it-yerself" gravel grinding adventure that lasts all year long! Just click on the link for limestone lunacy of the highest order. Then we move on to a little event held this past early spring called CIRREM which is held in the mucho hilly area south and west of our fair capital city. Moving on into summer, we have the infamous Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, which is a highly misunderstood event, (unless you've been to one). It's just about fun, gravel, and fun. In that order. Anyway.......

Here's a dusty salute to all you gravel adventurers wherever you may be. Michigan, Missouri, and points beyond...........keep on grindin!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Weekend When It Always Rains

Memorial Day weekend. Yeah....the opening salvo of summer. That weekend that signals the start of camping out doors, bar-b-cues, the opening of swimming pools, and school about to end for the summer. Oh yeah..........and one other thing.........rain!

I can't think of a better "rain magnet" than to declare a late May weekend as Memorial Day. Since I've been a kid, (a long, long time ago........) this weekend gets rained on more than not. Weird, but true.

Of course, if you take time to think about it, the rain may be appropriate. The whole idea of Memorial Day isn't for what I started this post out with. No, Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. In that sense, maybe a solemn gray rainy day is a reminder. A way for us to be prodded into stopping for a moment to recall the sacrifices of those who gave all. (If you want to find out more about the true meaning of this weekend, then check out this.)

So maybe while you are out on a ride this weekend, maybe you could stop for a moment, and remember. It is because of the sacrifices of many men and women that we can enjoy the freedom we have. One of those freedoms being the enjoyment of riding a bicycle.

I hope you all enjoy your weekend, ride your bicycles, and remember.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Camp Ride And Inner-Web Woes

<===The trusty El Mariachi. Now if they could only cross this with a Dos Niner, what would that look like?

Well, I got three hours of riding in at The Camp yesterday. Parts of the Camp are primo. Awesome riding, but parts are ravaged by the d#@n loggers out there and are unrecognizable. Just plain bad. It's no in between either, which is really frustrating. especially so since much of the trail network is going to have to be constructed from zero again. I'm beginning to think I really don't like logging. Yep! I'm pretty sure about that right now.

I'm thinking I really like these tires. Weird, but good stuff. Especially the front.

So, I ride for three hours out there. Man! Was the wind crazy, or what? Trees were fixin' ta throw branches at me all around. I could here 'em snappin' and crackin' and falling through the canopy with bangs and crashes. It was getting downright dangerous around noon. Lots of stuff already blown down too. Amazing!

I got to say that there are a lot of roots out there, which is obvious, I mean, it is forested and all. But I mean to tell you, it's worse than ever, or better than ever, which ever way you want to look at it! (I happen to think it's cool.) That brings me to the El mar/Dos cross idea. Steel front, soft tail rear. Or at least something that feels like that. Man! My back was aching after that ride, but it was sure fun.

I get home and no internet. Nothing. All afternoon till about 8:30pm. Put me waaay behind with posting and writing and such. At least the riding part of the day went super good.

I think the ride shows I am getting better fitness. It was super hot out, and I went easy at times, but afterward I didn't feel destroyed, so I think I'll recover well. It should be a good building block towards the DK 200. Okay, that's all I got today. Get out and ride, ya'all!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This Sounds Familiar....

In a recent story on Bike Radar about Santa Cruz's 29"er FS project, (which I also reported on for Twenty Nine Inches) there was some nice hints dropped about the future rig. However; as exciting as that might be, the really juicy bit was about something else entirely.

While comtemplating the story on the Santa cruz 29"er, I'll admit that the thought had crossed my mind about the 650B wheel size. It seemed a bit odd that since all these Nomads are out there getting converted over to the B wheels that Santa Cruz wouldn't hop on board with something along those lines. Well, there is the lack of a mainstream fork choice, which isn't good for marketing, and then there is very limited tire availability, but still. I wondered to myself, "Why?"

Well, I have my reasons why it wouldn't be, but that is just me, or so I thought. Take a look at what the article says here from Bike Radar on the Santa Cruz 29"er:

"BikeRadar asked Roskopp (owner of Santa Cruz) about his thoughts on the burgeoning 650B movement, and like many, shook his head as he wondered out loud about why the industry 'needs another wheel standard to monkey with.'

This was corraborated with What Mountain Bike's technical editor and multi-wheel-size-loving Steve Worland.

"There's a long term test feature on 26" vs 650B vs 29er waiting in the wings," Worland said.

"The main part of my conclusion was 'from a purely personal point of view, I’ll happily admit that I would like to have been convinced that a classy 650B build is the best of both worlds. But I wasn’t. There just didn’t seem to be enough real world advantages over 26-inch wheels'.

"The Pacenti tamed the bumps very slightly better than a 26er, but quite noticably better when I slotted in a 29-inch wheel up front," he added. "And when I slotted a 26-inch wheel with a 2.55-inch tyre in the back it felt better than with a 650B wheel with a 2-inch tyre. A big tyred 26er would be a far cheaper and more choice-happy solution too.

"At the end of the test, and after a lot of conversation, we were left thinking that a 650B bike is a great choice for riders who are too short to fully benefit from a full blown 29er… in other words sub 5ft 11in riders who like the idea of the rolling advantages of a 29er but find them a bit gawky to ride, or look at."

This, coming from a guy who's tested nearly 3,000 bikes in his time."

And this sounds eerily familiar to me. Seems like I've written much the same before. From a July 14th, 2008 post I wrote the following:

"650B: Here we have a real conundrum of a wheel size. Dubbed as something "halfway" between 26 and 29 inch wheels, the reality of 650B is that it is far more like a 26 inch wheeled bike than most devotees of the size would have you believe. I have ridden a few of these rigs and my take is that they are quite nice bikes, but they sure are not anything like a 29"er. Not even close. Are they better than a 26"er? Incrementally at best. At worst, you can't tell the difference, and on a long travel bike, (the very thing that proponents say 650B will shine at), you just can not tell at all that they are anything bigger than a 26 inch wheel. 650B spins up fast and loses momentum just as quickly. It's tire contact patch is incrementally bigger than a 26"ers and at that, a big 26 inch tire will equal that contact patch easily. In fact, a big 26 inch tire has the same outer diameter as a 650B NeoMoto, (currently the only game in town for "real" off roading in multi-condition terrain in 650B size*) For my money, it makes more sense to stick with 26"ers for choice of equipment, compatibility of fork/frames, and performance."

*Note: Since this was written a couple more suitable tire choices have hit the market.

So it would seem that maybe there is a wider agreement on this than I once thought. The B wheels probably won't go away, but they are also not going to be anywhere near as influential on mountain biking as a whole as 29 inch wheels are.

Santa Cruz, and many others seem to agree.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour- Day Two- Hamburgers and Heat! Part II

The "Race Against Death Tour" leaves the small town of Nemeha, Iowa headed westward on a hot August day........

As we left in the early afternoon, the heat started to really kick in. The temperatures were heading into triple digit territory and in a big hurry. As we went further west, conversation ceased and all three of us plodded along at a decent clip, but certainly no where near our fastest cruising speed. The road headed dead straight now. No turns, and not much to look at.

As I was rolling along it became very apparent that there were super heated pockets of air that you would run into coming up off of the now melting black top road. Suddenly running into these would raise the temperature 10 to 15 degrees from where they already were. We are talking dangerous heat. And it finally did me in. About 16 miles after leaving Nemeha, and just north of Galva, Iowa, I called out that I was stopping. I ghost rode my bike into the ditch and collapsed into darkness.

The next thing I recall is Troy yelling out my name from far away. Then he became clearer. Then I came to. I realized then he was standing right over me, and I was surrounded by tall grass. I sat up as Troy returned to his shaded seat next to Ryan and they were quietly discussing something. What to do about me, no doubt. I was severely dizzy and my head ached, really hurt! All through that though, I was intensely embarrassed about the situation. I resolved to get on the bike again, but I was very wobbly and really slow.

Later I learned that I was completely out for 20 minutes. Troy and Ryan were beside themselves wondering if they should call for emergency help and leave me behind. Troy yelling at me was a last ditch attempt to get me going before they called in for help, but I didn't know any of that then. I just hurt. Bad.

We limped into Galva, and then just west of there into Holstein. There was a pizza joint we stopped at that Troy and Ryan ate at. I had zero appetite. I was just glad to be in some A/C and not move. We passed a bank with a thermometer sign that read 101 the shade.

Troy wanted to make the border, but as we went along, it became apparent I couldn't do much more than 10 mph and almost had to crawl up the long, grinding grades that were the outliers of the Loess Hills. There was a stop in Correctionville late in the afternoon. We sat a long time outside a convenience store as Troy and Ryan did some asking around about a place to stay. I finally got some food and drink down in me here as we waited. The sun was westering, and we needed a place to stay.

Much to Troy's chagrin the only good option was off route a couple miles in a county park. We rolled in, and I ate another meal, finally starting to feel better, much to the other guys relief. We sat around and conversed for awhile, told some stories, and generally joked around. Things seemed okay, but inside I was feeling terrible about letting the guys down and being a nuisance. At any rate, I learned that my front panniers were no longer my concern, as Troy took one and Ryan the other. They insisted I was going to make it. I thought of it as a demotion at the time, but in reality, I should have seen it as a positive sign. Ah.....the way time changes your perspective on things!

All I knew then was that I felt terrible, physically, but far worse mentally. I hit the hay hoping the next day would be much better.

Next week: Over The Border

Monday, May 18, 2009

DK 200: Training Ride

<===The Salsa/Twin Six Fargo for the Dirty Kanza 200.

Coming in to the weekend I was e-mailing back and forth with d.p. about a possible night time training run. I thought it would be a great time to make a full run of the set up, fully loaded as it will go for the event. Well, I almost have everything ready. Two things I needed at that point: Lights and a bigger seat bag. I got the light thing figured out on Saturday. The bag thing? Not yet. I just need something to stuff my soft shell jacket into, and I should be good. Anyway, the light thing was pretty interesting, since I basically had no idea what I was going to do when I put my two children in the car and headed out to the retail black hole of death that is out near an area we call "Crossroads" here in Waterloo.

<===Post modification. The light set up will make the grade for the event.

So I decided to go to Target to see what I could find. Some pre-Trans Iowa banter had mentioned that Target had a pretty cool little LED head lamp that was being modded into a decent light for night riding. So I go in, take a look around, and I found a suitable subject for modification. An Eveready product rated at 100 lumens and that was rated to run on high power for 11 hours. More than enough time to get me through any night time riding on Dirty Kanza's flinty gravel. The light was in a head lamp format with an external battery pack that holds three AA batteries. The unit comes with three lithium AA batteries too. (I used standard AA's for my test, saving the lithiums for DK. ) The unit has an aluminum housing, a red "night vision" mode, a Cree LED with three modes and flash, and a short, heavy duty lead to a plastic box that contains the batteries. Cost was $40.00

Once at the Lab, I busted out the tools and went to work on modding the light to mount on the handlebars. I used an old CatEye computer mount and modded the back plate of the light to slide into the CatEye mount. I cut the strapping off the light and battery pack but left about two inches on either side of the battery pack for a future install of Velcro and a buckle. For now, the battery pack went into my top tube bag.

The mod worked great and I had a light. Now all there was left to do was to meet d.p. and try it in real conditions.

<=== The sunset from Ridge Road going northwest.

I met d.p. at 8:00pm at "Checkpoint #3" (Traer) and we got suited up for a bit of a night ride. We decided to ride out northwest of town to Ridge Road. Going this way meant a big, long climb. I was huffing and puffing right off the bat as I hadn't warmed up or anything, just took off. Once up on the ridge, we were treated to a small herd of deer that popped out of the grass in the ditches in front of us and bounded away down the valley. Then the sunset was awesome. I got a few shots while riding, "Kerkove style" and that thanks to the new Endura Stealth soft shell jacket I got at Sea Otter from the kind folks at Niner. Having well designed pockets made getting the shots really easy.

It was cold when we started- 55 degrees- and the temperatures dumped after sunset and that even faster when the wind, which had been right in our faces before the sun went down, totally disappeared. I'm betting some of the valleys we rode through were into the upper 30's. Mostly the temps were hovering in the low 40's as we rode silently through the Iowa countryside.

To stay warm I used a wool base layer long sleeved shirt, my new Twin Six team "Metal" jersey, and the aforementioned Endura jacket. On the bottom I wore my matching Team Twin Six Metal bibs with a pair of the Endura Humvee 3/4's length pants over the top (Sans liner). Throw in a pair of Swiftwick socks in black and my Bontrager Race shoes and I was warm enough the whole ride. My Snappy Caps lid and Bell helmet were the "crowning" accoutrement's.

<=== The sunset just got better as we went along.

Well, that's enough pimping to last a lifetime, eh? So about that ride, yeah.......we had fun! Other than one jerk in a pick up truck that dusted us unnecessarily, we had no issues. Halfway out we stopped for a "nature break" and a "nite-cap". Then it was back at it for the dark portion of the ride. The stars came out and we were cocooned in a halo of LED light. My mod was good. I'll need to supplement with a head lamp to really be good with signs and course markings, but here's the lowdown on the Eveready lamp.

The lamp has a focus-able beam. I started out at the widest setting, thinking that the dispersal pattern for LED lamps isn't usually all that great. Well, I was surprised to see that I had ditch to ditch coverage and even could see in the ditches! I turned the lens ring to tighten up the beam, and actually ended up the ride tightening the focus all the way and still had total road coverage.

The beam is very even with no discernible hot spot. The beam doesn't throw up the road far enough for anything over 20 mph, but for cruising it is more than enough light to see with. The beam also has a lot of height, which isn't useful until signs come into play. Even the "street" signs at corners were easily read without aiming the light up to see them.

d.p. was using an LED that he mounted to his helmet. His light threw a beam further up the road and had an intense "hot spot". The combination of his head lamp and my bar light was primo! I just need a head lamp that does what d.p.'s light does and I will be set.

Well, we road chunky, fresh gravel, powdery smooth gravel, three miles of B roads, and a tiny bit of pavement. All in all, we saw every condition in the short 23 mile ride you can see on gravel. The light mount stayed put, and everything went smoothly. I was stoked at the end of the training ride. d.p. and I hung out for a bit, then we went our separate ways, agreeing that this night time riding needed to happen more often. Look for some night time gravel grinding news in the future!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bike Shop Horrors: Disc Wheel Explosion!

<===These used to be one piece. Not anymore!

Apparently the situation here was that a lady, who was sitting on the bicycle this wheel was mounted to, heard a big explosion, looked down, and saw her front wheel in pieces.

As you can see, the rim blew completely apart in two halves around its entire circumference.

Maybe the spoke tension was too high, maybe the disc brake caused the warping at the nipples, or it may be that the damage occurred at the time of failure. It's really hard to say here.

Oddly enough, it was a front wheel too. I also noted that the rotor bolts were not Torx head fasteners and the Allen heads were coated with something that made it so that my 3mm wrench would not fit into the Allen sockets correctly. I had to remove some of them with a locking pliers. Also, some of the rotor bolts were loose.

I still find it absolutely amazing that one of these low end companies hasn't been sued from here to next Tuesday over one of these bicycle shaped objects.

I think its just a matter of time.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Weekend Links

If you have time between bicycle rides this weekend, here is some recovery time linkage to check out.

Captain Bob's Review Gets Props: Captain Bob decided that the writing gig wasn't for him and let me know recently he wanted to bow out. I asked if he could do one last piece on the Misfit Psycles diSSent. So he did it and you can check that out here. Then the Emperor of All Misfit Bicycle Toys declared from his Digital Scroll that Captain Bob "nailed it" when describing the Misfit as being a ferrous impersonator. Now The Emperor has another Misfit that is supposedly a beer can impersonator in steel clothing. Maybe we could write about that one for The Empire too. We'll see.........

Anyway, Captain Bob went out on top, that's for sure!

Trans Iowa Gets Compared To "Real Races": Trans Iowa isn't usually compared to anything resembling a "real race" since it is ............well, Trans Iowa! That said, we were accused of putting on a "real-ish" event this year since we had actual number plates and had folks sign a waiver. But still, we can't really be considered a "real race" since, well.......the guy that runs it is called Guitar Ted. That and we don't charge the requisite exorbitant race fee that guarantees us stature as an "Event" that gets on website race calendars and therefore we don't attract folks that have matching bikes and race kits. So could we be considered a "real race"? (I'm okay with that, by the way. In fact- I prefer it this way!)

That said, we got compared to "real" ultra-endurance events on George Vargas' website recently. George rated Trans Iowa on his own personal "toughness scale" (scroll down the page a bit) Pretty interesting number crunching here that shows Trans Iowa to be a tough nut to crack. But then you could probably ask any of the 158 individuals who have ever toed the line at a Trans Iowa and gotten similar responses. (Sans the numbers and science)

Anyway, I am humbled and I thank George for all of the attention he has lavished on this event. In fact, the outpouring of reports and the words contained within have been really appreciated this year. Thank you! (Perhaps things won't be quite so "sunny and warm" next year, if ya catch my drift!)

So, that should keep you occupied for a bit while you catch your breath before you hit the road or trail again this weekend. Stay safe and have a great ride!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday News And Views

It is the end of another week. (The middle of May already!!) Here are some things to check out and chew on before you run out for the weekend to ride your bicycle.

You are going to ride your bicycle.......right??

Bike To Work Day: Yeah......that's today! I hope you did it, but if you didn't know, then make your own "Bike to Work Day" next week. Heck, the whole month of May is "Bike Month", so do something good for yourself and the world by pedaling somewhere you normally don't go by bicycle to. Renting a movie? Go by bike. Getting a gallon of "moo-juice"? Go by bike. You get the picture.

Single Speed Nation: I get to test bicycles for this site and this one too, but I've noticed a trend to getting involved with single speed bikes since last year. First it was the Soul Cycles Dillinger (which ended up being Captain Bob's, admittedly) , then it was the Milwaukee Bicycle Company 29"er, and followed closely by that was a Misfit Psycles diSSent. Now I have a Lynskey Ridgeline single speed in for testing plus I obtained another rare single speed 29"er for the stable. I already have to Karate Monkey, and the Raleigh Rainier. Whew! That's a lot of one geared love!

I do have geared bikes too, and of course, almost all of these bicycles I mentioned can be set up geared, but I thought this was a bit weird when I stopped to think about it the other day.

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo Update: I had linked to the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo site the other day, but now I have obtained the original Big Wheeled Ballyhoo site too. I got that updated with some info and also added a clickable trail map to Potter's Pasture on both sites. Check it out. Now there are two sites to "catch flys" with, so hopefully the word will get spread. Keep in mind that the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo is on for October 10th-11th, so there is lots of time to get that on your schedule if you want to ride around with some big wheeled freaks!

I'll have more updates on this and GTDRI coming soon. Until then, keep pedalling!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wet Ride With The Captain

Woke up Wednesday to wet, drippy conditions and overcast skies. The forecast was calling for the rains from overnight to clear out of the area by late morning with a window of opportunity for a ride happening by lunchtime. Okay, that works for me. I had some stuff I could do before then around The Lab and on the innerweb. I wasn't too worried about not getting in a ride.

Getting in a ride on a bicycle, other than commuting, (which I do not mean to belittle in any way), was rare lately what with the ill timed rains since Trans Iowa. I just have been hard pressed to find the time off that coincides with riding conditions that are better than "duck's weather".

So when I heard the pitter-patter of rain drops mid-morning, my heart sank. I thought that this rain was going away, not redeveloping. Meh! But just then, Captain Bob sent me an e-mail that indicated he had some time to scoot over for a visit. He had some bicycle parts and bikes that he needed to get back to me since they were on loan, and he just wanted to stop by. So I threw on a pot of this awesome organic coffee from a co-operative in Madison, Wisconsin called "Bike Fuel", (Thanks Craig!!!) and waited for the Captain to show up.

We had a nice chat, and when he was about to leave he says, "Hey, if you are going to pop out for a ride at Cedar Bend give me a call." I said I would. So, I made some lunch after he left and checked the radar. No shower activity, the rain was leaving!

So, I threw my riding gear on, popped the new Lynskey Ridgeline into the Dirty Blue Box, and hit the road for Cedar Bend. I called Captain Bob as I pulled out. He said he'd meet me there. I was stoked that I might get a ride in and have Captain Bob there to share it with. Cool.

Well, the skies didn't look so accommodating as I pulled out of Waterloo. Clouds were everywhere. I saw a few sprinkles on the windshield from time to time. "Thick humidity", I thought to myself as I tried to stay optimistic. It went away, but then the drops formed on the windshield again as I pulled into Cedar Bend.

Captain Bob wasn't there yet, he said he would probably get there a bit after I did. So I pulled the featherweight Ridgeline out of the car, put on my helmet and started off. The trails were tacky. Just right. I went in for a ways until I hit the first steep climb, then I heard what every single speeder dreads. "Snap!!!" Came in the direction of the chain. Gah! I stopped. Yep.......loose chain! Checked for my Allen wrenches to tension the chain. Rats! They are back at the car. I soft pedal back, make the adjustment to the sliders, and get set to go. Hmm......I notice that the "thick humidity" is getting "thicker". Ahh.........who am I kidding? It is a full on sprinkly-misty rain now. Nothing that a tree canopy can't stop though, and thankfully the canopy was out now. No Captain yet. Hmmm.........I am a bit concerned, but I speed off into the woods again, expecting the cell phone to ring any second.

I get all the way through the trails on the lower end, work my way up a longish climb, and come out on the gravel service road heading back to the campgrounds. It is raining a bit heavier now, and I am wet. The trails are getting greasy, and I am thinking I am done. I'll just call Captain Bob to let him know not to bother. Of course, just at that precise moment, you can guess what happened.

"Hey! Where are you at? I just pulled in.", says an excited Captain Bob. Realizing he knows it is raining just as much as I do, I figure a lap won't hurt. So we go out for a leisurely lap, trading bikes for a bit, and having a great time.

We get back soaked, muddy, and grinning. Man! It is great to be out riding again!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday News And Views

Wow! A post not about T.I.V5? Yes, really...........

What's Coming Up: There are lots of things on the radar here at Guitar Ted Productions. Here's a small sampling of what I'm up to now that the "big event" is over.

--Big Wheeled Ballyhoo: Yes, it is going to happen and yes- it will be very different. Here's the deal: I wanted to go to Lincoln, Nebraska with it. Lincoln Nebraska folks said, "Hold on there a minute! We gotta better idea!" So they pointed me in the Westward direction- all the way to Potter's Pasture. (Scroll through the site, you won't believe the terrain) So we all decided to do up a righteous event in the fall. Check out the details here.

Dirty Kanza 200: I booked my room and the family is coming out. I got the time off work, and I'm all in. The Fargo will be the weapon of choice, and I will throw myself at the Flint Hills, ready or not. So look for more DK 200 related banter here in the coming weeks.

Titanium 29"er: I just recieved a Lynskey Performance Ridgeline 29"er SS to test for Twenty Nine Inches and also appearing on The Cyclist. I will be posting some glamour shots here soon, so stay tuned. (Yes! It is light!)

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: Yes, this will happen again too. I have a course, (actually two) in mind, so recon will be happening soon. Probably a good excuse to get some DK 200 training in. Anway, if my idea works out, it will be an epic hilly, B Road fantastic, Amish/Mennonite, culture crossin' fun time. Stay tuned as this unravels for all to see. Look for updates too on the site.

Okay, that's all for now, but I am sure I forgot something!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour- Day Two- Hamburgers and Heat! Part I

The "Race Against Death Tour" leaves Barnum, Iowa on Day Two.........

Tuesday, August 8th- Barnum, Iowa: We awoke from the labors of our first days riding to a very humid, warm, and uncomfortable morning. Having spent most of the night warding off mosquito attacks, setting up our tent, and tossing and turning trying to get comfortable in the stifling air of the enclosure, we were all a bit slow to get going. The day looked to be starting out overcast, with a heaviness from the humidity and temperature that made moving through the air seem like a greater effort than it should have been.

Once packed up, we found our way along a highway headed directly west. This road was a State highway, but seemed to have little traffic. After agreeing upon our route, Troy took the job of setting the pace once again. I found his early morning pace a bit fast, but Ryan seemed to be okay with it, so I just kept to myself and dug in. The road was mainly flat with a few rollers thrown in, but I was not fully rested from the day before and I felt tired yet.

Soon the State highway took a turn, but a county blacktop continued onward in a direction we wanted. Namely- due west! The road was a bit boring. The only thing we found that broke up the monotony was a huge grain bin that was being constructed near an intersection we passed by. The weather was clearing up and heating up. This was going to be a hot day. A hot, humid day with little to no wind.

As noon approached we reached the little town of Nemeha, Iowa which was halfway to Sioux City. We were hungry and hoping for a convenience store. We turned off into the small town but were disappointed to find only a small cafe' named "Hazel's" that seemed to be run out of a residence with a "business addition" in a white clapboard building. Having no other choice, we dismounted and walked inside.

It was a small cafe' with maybe five booths, some of which hadn't seen use in a long time judging from the piles of boxes and things in their seats. We found an elderly lady there and she asked us to be seated and "What would you guys want?". We politely asked if she had any menus to look at. Instead she explained that she'd have to check and see what she had on hand to cook. She dug around and told us all she had were some hamburgers. Well.......hamburgers all around then!

As Hazel cooked up our burgers the story had to be told of what we were up to. Hazel listened and asked a few questions, marveling that we would be taking on such a challenge. She also gave us some back round on her little town. As we munched our burgers, she went about doing some tidying up. Afterwards, we payed our bill, but we couldn't go until Hazel had her picture taken with all of us. We obliged her. It was a kind of quirky lunch, but I think we were amazed as much as Hazel was by each others oddness.

As we left town, Hazel bade us farewell, and we turned our faces westward into the sweltering heat and incessant sunshine.

Next week: Hamburgers and Heat!, Part II

Monday, May 11, 2009

T.I.V5: Last Thoughts Before I Go

<===The gravel dust of T.I.V5 will be with me for a long time, but this is my last post about it.

Here are some random thoughts as I leave T.I.V5 in the rear view mirror.

That wasn't so bad now was it? To say things went smoothly is an understatement. We had some bobbles, to be sure, but they were very minor. Nothing that remotely affected the outcome of the event, and so were very minor concerns.

The dogleg issue. We will have to pay more attention to what will be seen in the dark now. Things get weird in the night, and maybe we could improve upon some things in this area.

Outside support was happening. I wasn't too pleased about it, but it came in a form I had not considered before and hasn't been addressed in a fair manner to racers before, so I withheld any judgements during the event. More on this in a bit.

That was about it from a critically important viewpoint. There's more, but it is mere fluff in comparison.

The social side: Here's where we felt this T.I. suffered a bit. The venue where we started was not conducive to larger public gatherings without spending money for spaces. Then other restrictions applied that wouldn't cater to our type of folks either. It was just a difficult situation. To be honest, the pre-race meeting was figured out only within a mere couple of weeks before the event took place. That's cutting it too close, but that wasn't for lack of trying. There just were not many options there. We won't even delve into anything post race! We are going to move the event, and one of the priorities for locating the event in 2010 will be in regards to pre and post race activities and where they can be held cheaply.

Trans Iowa Radio: Ya know.......This is just a bonus dealio I do. I sent out a disclaimer on, my site, and the T.I. site prior to T.I.V5 saying as much, yet certain folks bagged on me afterwards for doing things all wrong, or were being disappointed, (once again) that I didn't mention their folks and that the posts were not coming up with audio. So, I see where this is going. I have to either make this a professional news casting/tracking/social media deal.......or I quit doing anything at all. You know- if you've been around Trans Iowa enough- that I don't like adding extra work. So you might be able to figure out what happens next time. Trans Iowa Radio isn't necessary. It isn't integral to the event. It doesn't seem to enhance my experience of it, and again- if I don't have fun, it gets axed. (I "pay" for Trans Iowa, so I get what I want) Sound selfish? Well, then you just don't get it. If I was charging $250.00 entry fee per person for this, then the tables would be turned. I may change my mind, if it can be done easily and in a fun way. If not, so be it.

The Date: I liked the date falling two weeks after Sea Otter. I had to go to cover that event. If I didn't have to, I'd maybe go back to the last weekend in April. Had we done that this year, we wouldn't have had the event. Five and a half inches of rain and severe lightning will shut you down. But I can't control that weather thing, so I can't worry about that. The date will be in discussion with d.p. and I and other promoters, most importantly, the DK 200 folks. We want to space out the dates so folks can consider doing both events. Plus I may not be going to Sea Otter next year. We'll see.

Technology: The issue of technology used for and during Trans Iowa has come up. Mostly in reference to GPS units. I am not very concerned about the GPS thing since our cues are vague enough and road names are often repeated enough from county to county that doing anything in a timely manner with a GPS that might aid you in navigation is going to be difficult, if not near impossible. d.p. brought up a great point that screen size is so small that trying to read the screen while riding is not only difficult to do, but dangerous as well. So, GPS units, be they Garmin-type, stand alone units, or part of a cell phone app, are going to not only be hard to keep off the route of future Trans Iowas, but in reality also be nearly useless. That said, they still are against the rules!

No, my concern about technology isn't so much the GPS unit, but rather the cell phone. Let's take a look at this nuggett from Charlie Farrow's T.I.V5 race report (Found on his blog) as an introduction to where I am coming from.

"Note: In this era where a spontaneous life-line communicative capacity is available to anyone anywhere, this dogmatic approach to autonomy may seem rigid to some or antiquated to others; to me itz just the way I was raised and I am sure that I like it better than the new way, so I don’t plan on changing…"

So, Charlie isn't a believer in using the cell phone from a self sufficiency standpoint, regarding its use as somewhat of a diluting influence upon the experience of tackling a challenge like Trans Iowa. Maybe he casts caution to the wind, and doesn't carry a cell phone at all, preferring to take the risks involved should he get injured, or seriously hurt, I don't know, and I am not saying you should not carry a cell phone either. No, I want to focus upon the idea that a "life-line" of support is being established by some riders and that concerns me.

I witnessed this from several points along the course of Trans Iowa. People were off and on their cell phones talking to the person on the other end into going on, to keep pushing, and to not give in. I don't know about you, but a clear headed cheerleader on the cell talking into my ear is support and a help in finishing the event. Outside support. Period.

I know this is outside support because of what competitors write year in and year out in regards to riding with others in the event along the route. Mentally this support is huge. Ask them. I am not making this up. The people suffering in the event together is one thing, but having some one available at anytime that isn't a rider, that is entirely different. So if another rider is a support mentally to a rider in the event, (and that by pure chance) then what is a person on the cell that is talking to a competitor at various intervals, at any time one desires, throughout the event? You tell me.

This may sound harsh, but this is my gut feeling. If you had this cell phone "life-line" going on during T.I.V5, then you did the route with outside support. The people that accepted that support will have to live with that thought. Folks like Charlie Farrow will not. You decide which way is "right".

That said, I don't know what can be done about it, if anything, other than to say that this sort of thing better not be happening in my prescence next year or there will be DQ's. I don't like to have to say that, but I know that some will do anything to finish this silly event, and others will abide by the spirit of the event without admonishments from me. I want to support those folks in the latter group. Those that choose the harder road.

To this end I think we may consider changing up the way we do checkpoints as well. At least we will not be freely giving out checkpoint locations, that's for sure. It creates an unfair playing field for those who can not, or do not have the possibility of getting folks they know to checkpoints. I'm not sure how this may play out. Maybe having checkpoints in remote locations will be what we'll have to do.

Whatever happens, it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

T.I.V6: It will happen, it won't be anywhere near the same location it was this year, and it will be tweaked in a few ways compared to the previous years. We were really encouraged by the outpouring of thanks immediately after the event. We were super encouraged to forge ahead and do another one. That said, Trans Iowa will not happen forever, and an astute observation to this very point was made by Charlie Farrow. Again from his T.I.V5 race report:

"My message to all those that did not finish, for what itz worth, is to go for it again next year, but with an eye on using all that is given to you. One reason to make another attempt next year stems from the simple fact that guyz like Guitar-Ted and D.P. are a rare treasure to the cycling community and consequently, certainly, it would be unfair to simply assume that they will indefinitely be willing or even capable of providing us with this truly novel cycling experience year after year."

So, I do not know when that day will come that I will say, "No mas!", but rest assured that it will. I do know that I have treasured the experiences and people along the way so far. I expect that I will be adding to that treasure in the near future. I want to say THANK YOU to all that have contributed to my Trans Iowa experience. I can't ever thank you all , or thank you all enough.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

T.I.V5: A Different Kind Of Report- Part V

<===This man at the finish line was a miracle in my mind. Charlie Farrow had an incredible finish to what should have been a DNF.

Sunday May 3rd, 1:00am: d.p. and I are running the last bit of gravel that comes just east of Marengo. Things are going so smoothly that we decide to park it at d.p.'s house and sleep. Yes........sleep! Something I have not considered doing while running a Trans Iowa since T.I.V1. We get to his casa about 1:30am and I collapse on the air mattress and go out like a light.

1:53 am: The cell phone is ringing next to my head. I answer it. It's Tim Ek's wife wondering about his progress. I chat with her for a few minutes and then end the call. I try to go back to sleep, which isn't all that difficult.

2:12 am: The cell phone is ringing again next to my head. I pick it up and answer. "Hey, it's Joe. Did I wake you up?" Me: "Just a little." Joe: "I was wondering if you could clarify something for me on the cue sheets."

I smiled. Here's your race leader calling me at "dark-thirty" in the morning, lost, and being super polite. I don't know why exactly, but that made me smile. Right then, I was feelin' really great. I got Joe straightened out on what was going on. (The very corner d.p. mentioned to me earlier and said we'd been lost on twice before) Then I tried to get back to sleep. However this time I was uneasy because I was afraid more racers were getting lost, or that Joe, Dave, and Tim were wandering around because our cue cards sucked or something. (Hey- it was late and I hadn't hardly gotten a wink in 24 hours.)

2.22am: The cell goes off again. I don't think I actually ever fell asleep after Joe's call. This time it was Checkpoint #3 volunteers giving a final report. They tell me Charlie Farrow made it through and that Paul Jacobson had barely gotten there before the cut off and had just left. Awesome!

Well, after that I was awake. I wasn't going back to sleep again. d.p. awoke minutes later after a full solid hour of sleep. Good for him. Not so much for me! We left with d.p. driving his own car to the finish area. We didn't bother driving the rest of the course, we went straight to Williamsburg. That's the first time I have not seen the entire course during the event since T.I.V1. (You could say T.I.V4- but I saw everything we ran.)

<===Matt Wills bags a second T.I. The look here says it all.

When we arrived we were the only ones there, but before long others started showing up. First it was Katy and Cale, our great volunteers. Then other support folks. Finally, at 4:52 am, we saw three sets of lights crest the final hill of T.I.V5. Meiser comes in with Ek and Pramann side by side.

Others come in at long intervals. More folks start showing up. T.I.V5 was winding down, but not before a few notable things occurred.

Early in the morning yet, one of the local residents, whose driveway we were basically blocking, rolls up in a white Escalade with bling 20 inchers and blacked out windows. I approach the vehicle as it stops just outside the driveway on the road and the drivers window comes down. Inside, a retired gentleman and his wife are staring at me incredulously. I state that we are running a race and that their mailbox is the finish line. He stares at me, looks me up and down, and then smiles. His wife suddenly leans over and starts to ask questions. A good sign! We pass "the test" and the couple drives away. Another possible conflict averted.

<===M.G. bags his first T.I. and then stretches out on the pavement to sleep. Fortunately he was drug off to proper sleeping quarters and didn't become road kill!

Charlie Farrow made it in. Amazing! I still am in awe of what he went through and that he still finished it off. No one- and I mean no one- would have second guessed him had he pulled the plug, and to be honest, I am sure a lot of us would have. Not Charlie! This was the greatest ride of T.I.V5 in my mind, without a doubt.

Then there are so many other great stories. Meiser's crushing dominance. Pramann and Ek gutting it out with Meiser all the way. Shockey on a fixed gear! And my sentimental favorite, Paul Jacobson, who got his long desired T.I. finish at last.

Single speeders split with gearies almost evenly. 15 finishers in all. (Earlier I had been reporting 14, sorry about the misinformation!) Great times had by all. Awesome volunteers, and an event that ran so smoothly it was scary. Thank you one and all.

So, finally everyone left and it was d.p. and I standing there at a non-descript intersection just north of Williamsburg. Just the two of us on a bright, sunny early May afternoon. We talked about some things. Laughed. Got teary eyed. Then d.p. stuck his hand out........


I stuck my hand in his, grasped it firmly, and as I shook it I said, "Sure! Why not?"

Then I crawled back in the Dirty Blue Box, drove home, and saw my family waiting for me at home. My finish line. I made it! I crossed the finish line of T.I.V5.

What a ride!

Next: Final thoughts on T.I.V5 and some potentially controversial comments about self support!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

T.I.V5: A Different Kind Of Report- Part IV

<===The leaders pulling out of Checkpoint #3- L-R: Meiser, Pramann, Ek. (Photo: Blue Colnago)

Saturday May 2nd: When d.p. and I pulled into Traer, it was late afternoon. We grabbed some grub, and then hung out waiting to see where our volunteers were. I got a text from one of them: "We're in Traer." I texted back, "So are we. We are at the Checkpoint. Where are you?" Well, it was about two minutes later when Scott and Ken rolled up on their bikes. Ken on a beautiful Rivendel and Scot on a very cool Pake' Townie. We ogled the rigs for a bit, and chatted the time away. Soon I got another phone call. "Hmmmm......I wonder who is DNF-ing now", I thought as I answered the call. It was the Blue Colnago! (aka Paul Buchanan) He wanted to know how long we'd be sticking around Traer and exactly where we were. Well, I told him, and about 20 minutes later, there he was with his wife.

Well, "Blue" chats us up for awhile, and then the leaders came in. Meiser, Pramann, Ek..............where's Charlie?? Well, we learn from a sad Tim Ek that Charlie got dropped. Seemed something was wrong nutritionally and he fell off the pace. Dave Pramann just shook his head in sadness and said, "We dropped him about 20 miles out from Checkpoint #2". Then they all went inside to raid the store while we were dumbfounded at the news.

It wasn't too long before the Three Minnesota Musketeers were back out and readying to ride. As they pulled out, Meiser says loudly, "Ahh! Fresh cream in the shorts!!" Gah! I didn't need to know that!

Well, d.p. and I waited for a bit to see if anybody else would show up. It was getting rather dark now. Blue said something about some Guinness and next thing ya know, we're all popping dark beers and Blue is inside getting more beer. This was getting to look like a place where we could get sideways with our duties real quick! Blue was talking about a bike purchase that got him sideways with his wife, and then she came out and told us "the rest of the story" to a rousing round of laughter from all the boys. Blue was red, if ya know what I mean, but it was all good!

Well, pizza was being talked about, and beers, and well........ d.p. and I figured we'd better skeedaddle before we got in trouble. So we politely excused ourselves and headed out down the trail.

<====Cornbread ended his quest of T.I.V5 right here. Someday this guy will win T.I., I got a feelin! (Photo: Blue Colnago)

So we wound our way down and over and across Tama County until we found ourselves at a point that the route was a bit confusing for us, and later on we found out- for the racers as well. Just outside of Toledo we made a wrong turn and ended up in some Mesquakie land. Not good. We backtracked and got out of there and then somehow found the road into Toledo we were supposed to be on anyway. How I have no idea. Delirious and tired, the mind starts to play tricks on you and it was starting to happen to us as we closed in on a full 24 hours of being awake.

<===Charlie Farrow's darkest hours. He somehow rallied to finish an amazing 6th place. (Photo: Blue Colnago)

We were a bit amazed that we had not yet passed the Three Minnesota Musketeers yet, but we figured that they couldn't be too far up the road. Just east of Toledo we saw evidence of their tire tracks in the fresh gravel. It was enough to keep me interested in driving instead of falling asleep. Ridge Road was running out and we still had not found them. Then d.p, said abruptly, breaking a long silence, "There they are!!"

I saw the blinkies, and then the car lights washed over them as I tried to give them room. They looked to be in a steady pace line, nose to tail. Meiser, Pramann, Ek. Motoring at an amazing pace for this late into the event. D.P, and I were shocked at the speed they were carrying in this marbley, chunky gravel. We passed them, rounded a corner, and they were lost to view. We wouldn't see them again until the finish.

<====Jeremy Fry getting ready for the last leg of T.I.V5 at Checkpoint #3 after the convenience store had closed. (Photo: Blue Colnago)

d.p. and I made our way into the segment that went straight south towards Belle Plaine. I hated this section as it was all chunky, loose gravel and it made the Dirty Blue Box skitter and creak and rattle till my mind was about to freak. When we hit a B road, it was like heaven. Peace and relative quiet. Nice. Then the noise would pick back up again as we hit the rocks. Arrrgh! I was about to lose it.

Belle Plaine came and we checked out the convenience stores. One was closed and the other was going to, or so we were told, at 2pm. At any rate, we tried to find something to eat and drink. Nothing looked remotely good. The selection sucked! Then I finally chose some nutritional bars and a Rockstar energy drink, went to the counter and plunked them down, interrupting a conversation amongst some late teen/early twenty-ish something "boys". (And I use the term "boys" loosely!) One says to another, "Hey, you got some money! Buy me my stuff." To which the one with the cardboard box on his head (Really!) retorted back saying, " Aww! I ain't got any money, especially since I have to pay all those fines now. They took my car away this mornin', ya know!"


So d.p. and I took our meager food and drink choices and blasted outta there headed into the hills east of town. At 16th Street Trail d.p. says, "Remember this turn? We got lost out here twice on different rides." I did in fact remember getting lost out here. In broad daylight, no less. I hoped that it wouldn't trip up any T.I.V5 folks.

Next: "A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest "--

Friday, May 08, 2009

T.I.V5: A Different Kind Of Report- Part III

<===The Trans Iowa V5 Volunteers were awesome! Thank you guys and gals! You rock!!

Saturday Afternoon, May 2nd: So the afternoon was getting hot, breezy, and dusty. d.p. and I rolled along in The Dirty Blue Box and everything seemed pretty good. Then I got word that the audio was not coming through on Trans Iowa Radio. Bummer! I was without any way to rectify it, since it was all working from my end. I felt a bit frustrated about it, but what can a guy do?

We got to Checkpoint #2 with plenty of time to spare before it opened officially at 2:00pm. d.p. and I got some grub inside the convenience store, hung out with Oliver from Lincoln and a couple of other support folks. We had Matt Maxwell, a former T.I. vet ride over on his bicycle from the Ames area to help out here in LeGrand. He rolled in not long after we arrived, so d.p. and I decided to recon the Northwestern side of the loop and return to see how things were coming along.

That all went without a hitch except that we marked another dogleg in the course having learned earlier from the darkness that doglegs can be confusing, and this one would be passed by in the dark too, we figured. Once we marked it we were on our way.

We arrived back at Checkpoint#2 and racers were there shortly afterwards. The leaders were all inside grubbing out some food, others were just arriving, and the place was a hoppin'. This caused a bit of trouble. The convenience store had two employees working. One at the register and a young lady in back making pizzas. Well, the older lady came storming out, demanding guys move their bikes off the sidewalk and not to block the doorway, and on and on she went, waving her arms around and sounding authoritative.

Now I have been around Trans Iowa since day one, I have seen road group rides descend upon convenience stores, I have seen things like the BRR ride, RAGBRAI, and the RASH ride, and never....never have I seen a convenience store clerk shoo bicyclists away. Never! Why would they? It's big money to them. We figured a modest estimate of $500.00 was added to this place that day, but no. They didn't want us. Great. I suppose this would go on till 7pm until we were all gone. I was a bit worried, but d.p. and I couldn't stay for the outcome. We were moving on.

After picking the course back up after Checkpoint #2 where we left off, we drove on into Traer. Along the way, we were getting DNF reports from riders and the numbers of drops was stacking up. It wasn't hard to see that Checkpoint #2 was where all the DNF action was going to be centered around.

About this time we received a phone call from one of the volunteers giving us some info on a "lost soul". Apparently our cheeky gal from Friday night that snatched her chance at getting into T.I.V5 was off course. Like waaaay off course. Apparently she was reading the cue sheets incorrectly and was on the correct road on the cue sheet, but couldn't find the next turn. Our volunteers were out for a leisurely road ride and happened upon her. Fortunately, one of them had a smart phone with Google maps. After a bit of confusion, it was determined she was 50 miles off course on a road with the same name as the one she should have been on far westward of her position. Needless to say, she was done at that point!

<====Things that make you go "Hmmm......" And that's all I'm going to say about that!

So we had a bit of a conundrum outside of Traer on just how to mark that turn before going into town. The street sign wasn't correct, and so we co-opted a sign that was there that said "Road Closed" and pasted a sign on it and used some red duct tape to name the road with. I guess it worked okay. d.p. and I recalled that we had done the same thing in T.I.V4 as well. Gotta be resouceful!

<===Making do with what we had!

We arrived at the Checkpoint in Traer and no one else was there yet. I got a text from a volunteer that said Trans Iowa Radio was still not working, so I decided I'd give it one more try. I gave it a half hearted attempt, thinking it wouldn't come out anyway. After I did it, a text came through just minutes later. "It worked!!" it said. Then folks thought I was about ready to die of exhaustion when they heard it, but in reality, it was frustration they were hearing. The next post, I was back to the old self.

Next: Hanging out in Traer and being bad boys!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

T.I.V5: A Different Kind Of Report- Part II

<===The scene at the start line. (Photo: Cornbread)

We were supposed to get up by 2:30am and head out to the start line in Williamsburg from Marengo. d.p. woke up at 2am to take a shower, so I woke up as well. Brother Mark and Daryl took a bit longer, but we were all on our way to the start on time. I had a full tank of gas that I purchased in Marengo and was raring to go.

The start was deserted when we got there, but after about ten minutes, and some ham shots of David Nice, who came along with us, we saw a twinkling light come up the road. Soon that turned into mini-streams of light and reflective clothing until the whole area around the cemetery where we started began to look like the stars had fallen to the earth. I gave a bit of a talk on dogs and the usual blather before I hopped into the Dirty Blue Box and honked the horn to get a move on. I looked over at d.p, and said, "Well, this beast is on the road!" He just said "yep" and smiled.

The mode of operation we employ, which really hasn't changed since T.I.V1, is to follow the same cues the racers have and to make sure there are no wrong turns, confusing spots, or roads that are impassable. So d.p. read the cues and I drove. We were heading due south at the time and just 11 or 12 miles into the event. d.p. was nose down in the map when I said "T intersection, which way do we go?" d.p. looked up and said "Oh s#i@!" I said, "What?" (Thinking , Oh no! Not again this year!") Well, it turned out that d.p. had always reconned this section in the light of day, when the dogleg in the south bound road was obvious. Not so in the dark! After a bit of confusion we got marshaled and grabbed the tape, lathe boards and signs. Hammer......where's the dang hammer? Oh yeah! I lent it to the Checkpoint #1 volunteers so they could hang the Hammer Nutrition banner. Crap! How am I going to pound in these stakes?

<===Racing towards the first sunrise in Trans Iowa V5. Photo: Cornbread

With apologies to eventual race winner Joe Meiser, I admit that I took some liberties with the trophy! I found it laying in the back of the Dirty Blue Box and used it, cave man style, to pound in my stakes. Works like a charm, in case you ever wonder Joe!

d.p. found an ingenious use for duct tape and stuck directional arrows right on the road. We were just finishing up when d.p. yelled, "Here they come!" I turned to see the lead pack motoring towards us at a pretty good clip. d.p. figured they were holding a 24mph average speed over the opening miles. That got me a bit worried, so we sped off and I prayed we'd have no more directional snafus.

Fortunately, we didn't. We found ourselves in Washington, Iowa and located our spot with the volunteers there. We were to have Cafe' Dodicci's opening soon, and the prospects of a hot cup o java were appealing. As soon as they opened the doors, d.p. and I walked in and bought our steaming cups of black goodness. And I mean it was good! Best coffee I've had in a long time!

We wished the lady at the counter good luck and hoped that they would see a benefit to our coming through there, since they opened three hours early for us! Later I found out that they had indeed fared well, and that our racers stopped by and purchased some good stuff. All worked out well there seemingly.

Anyway, it wasn't long before a huge lead group swarmed into the checkpoint. Gladly I witnessed our volunteers do such a great job that the racers were through and fiddling with the new cue sheets before they could catch their breath. It was awesome and a relief to my mind, as this was one of my concerns going into the event.

Now we were headed out of town and we saw that the smaller lead group had escaped up the road with chasers strung out behind. A decisive move? Hard to tell, but early break aways tend to stay out in Trans Iowa events since organized chases never happen. At least not involving large numbers of riders.

So we checked out the roads going into North English. The first B road was muddy, but I almost got all the way through it. I could have made it too, but d.p. was advising caution, and I decided that stunts with the Dirty Blue Box were ill advised at this point. So I back tracked and went around it. Soon we were in North English on a bright, sunny, and quickly warming day.

We were there a good 45 minutes before we saw two riders coming in. Charlie Farrow and.......Joe Meiser? Yep! Joe Meiser. I figured him to be a contender, but to be up the road on a two man breakaway? Hmm.....seemed risky. Anyway, I was plying Joe for some race info when he mentioned a tree down in a B road section. Brains addled by lack of oxygen, he said something about it falling, as if it fell while they were riding by. I was extremely concerned, because something was also mentioned by Charlie that Charly Tri had fallen and broken something. Something what? Was the "tree" down on the B road Charly "Tri" or was it a real tree? Well, you can't get into a racers face while they are in the heat of competition, but I pressed Joe for a clear answer when a screaming mad man rolls up on a black bike.

The guy was screaming at Charlie Farrow, "Lets go! Let's go!" He peeled a banana with one swift motion, inhaled it in a millisecond, and started right in screaming again, "Let's go! C'mon! Now!" Charlie offered some water, but the mad man in black would have none of it. Soon Dave Pramann came out and sensing something was up, hopped on his bike straight away and took off with the tall, thin, black clad man. Charlie took one last glance at the water and turned and hopped on his green Kelly cross rig and was away. Joe Meiser chased on by the end of the parking lot. And then it was peaceful........for a minute or two! And I never did find out about the "tree".

Soon other chasers were showing up. We decided to split and get ahead of the main four leaders and try to find out who that screaming black fellow was. As it turned out, it was Tim Ek, who had fallen way back when he flatted earlier. He chased on with a huge effort and caught the leaders at the North English convenience store. He told me later that the adrenaline just made him crazy, and that he normally wasn't that way. Sounds fair enough. At any rate, these guys were getting a sizable lead up the road now, and the hills were just kicking in.

<====Checking out more B roads

d.p. and I continued checking the course. I made occasional Trans Iowa Radio broadcasts. We checked B roads, and drove about 35 to 40mph all the way to the Checkpoint #2 in LeGrand, Iowa.

Things were going smoothly. Too smoothly I thought. When was the hammer going to fall? I didn't know, but this T.I. was almost too easy so far.

Next time: Going into Checkpoint #2 and hanging out a bit.