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.

Epic!

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.....

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.

Epic!

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!

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!

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 back....oh......in the 80's? Yeah.....so 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!

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 back....oh......in the 80's? Yeah.....so 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.

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.......

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!

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! (or............um...........is it "live"..............erm..............ah, whatever!)

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! (or............um...........is 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!

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.

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!

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.

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, no......it 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 degrees.......in 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

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, no......it 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 degrees.......in 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!

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.