Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekend Report: The Short Version

The Big Weekend is over. Here's a breif report of what went down with much more detail coming after Touring Tuesdays.
Friday: Left the house about 5:30pm with the family in tow. Drove to Bellevue, Nebraska and dropped them off to a friends house where they spent the weekend. I continued on to Lincoln, Nebraska, arriving at MG's pad to pick up a little "thermonuclear protection". After chit-chatting up Kansans Joel Dyke, Joe Fox, and MG, it was off to the "D Street Hotel", where I met up with Cornbread, who thought I was a solicitor. (If you know the neighborhood, you'd understand a bit better) It was about 11:30pm, and I stayed up to talk a bit with some of the folks and then found my spot on a hardwood floor for the very, very short night's sleep.
Saturday: Woke up at 4:30am and had some grub for breakfast. MW and Troy Krause came by to ride with us over to the MOPAC Trail to start the event. The Good Life Gravel Adventure had 42 starters, and great, coolish weather to start out in. The sunrise was beautiful, but I'll save the rest for later. Short story: Body shut down, I pulled out at the last checkpoint in Courtland with 106 miles of 140 scheduled. Afterwards, I headed back to D Street, did a bit of relaxing, and went with MG that night to Potter's Pasture. (Link takes you to some good photos!)
Sunday: Woke up, ride Potter's Pasture. AWESOME!! Scoped out for the Bigwheeled Ballyhoo.(More on that later) Then had to head back from over 600 miles away from home. (Yeah........lotso windshield time yesterday!) Got home just about 10:30pm.
I"ll post some pics and give out way more details here and elsewhere soon. Stay Tuned!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday News And Views

It's Friday, and you know what that means? It's "Friday News And Views" time!

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo News! Okay, I am finally going to the site of the Ballyhoo to check it out as part of my whirlwind tour of Nebraska this weekend. After I get done with the Good Life Gravel Adventure, it is off to a place near Brady, Nebraska to check out Potter's Pasture on Sunday. Then after a brief tour, I'll be coming back to Iowa on Sunday evening. Can you say "windshield time"? Yes......yes you can!

Eurobike: The biggest, baddest cycling show of 'em all starts next week in Germany. Eurobike is all the rage in the industry and even new 29"er stuff gets debuted there before Interbike, and Euros don't even like 29"ers. (Well, at least the Germans don't!) Anyway, things didn't start out so well for Santa Cruz who had there only ride able production Tall Boy example heisted (along with a bunch of other companies stuff) from a U.K. warehouse that was pinpointed by thieves for this robbery opportunity. Little do they know that this is one of one bikes, and if it ever shows up, it will be like sounding a gong in the industry. Hopefully the dirty pinchers get caught out. Read more about it here. Ironically, Euros don't buy 29"ers much, but apparently they will steal them. Good to know if you are travelling in the Old World with your wagon wheeler!

<===Sorry, but I don't get the step backwards here!

You know what? Technology is supposed to make my life easier! Not more complicated. Case in point is this Blackburn Nuero 6.0 computer. It costs msrp at $250.00, and it tells you all kinds of information. Okay, that's cool. I don't have a problem with information. What I have a problem with is that I have to "sync up" the sensors when I set the unit up, which includes me having to put on the heart rate monitor. Then after the fussy set up procedure, I have to "link" all available sensors every time I wake up the computer from sleep mode. Not only that, but if you stop for longer than 12-15 seconds on a ride, the computer returns to sleep mode and will not start again unless manually prompted to do so. Sorry Blackburn, (and all the other digital computer models like this), but I have a msrp $25.00 Cateye that can start itself after going into sleep mode, and I do not lose any precious data when it does. It doesn't have a fussy set up procedure, and I don't have to "link" it to anything when I go for a ride. It just works. I do not have to remember to do anything.

Okay, so when your digital computer can do that, come back and see me. Otherwise all you have here is a big, stinking pile of fail!

<====Made in the U.S.A., but at what cost???

I posted this frame from Foes Racing on Twenty Nine Inches the other day. While having more choices is good and all, and being a U.S.A. made product is cool, this frame is set to MSRP at $3,000.00!! Yup, all those zeros are correct there. 3 grand for what I am sure is a finely crafted rig, but that is a lot of coin for a single pivot, aluminum frame with 3-4 inches of travel. I don't know about this one folks, but I don't see many of these getting sold. Just my opinion.

I'd love to be wrong about that, and I'd love to see this homegrown wagon wheeler take off, but this is a bit steeply priced to get on board with.

Speaking of home grown......

Chris DeStefano of Chris King Precision Components sent me this image of his new single speed big wheeler. (He is way too kind to me, by the way) Anyway, this is kind of a special rig. Not only does it feature a new Chris King Inset head set, but it was made by Chris King's own frame building crew! You see, Mr. King was somewhat of a frame builder way back, but that part of his business didn't take off, because he got distracted by this head set thing along the way. well, now he has revived that part of his talents with Cielo Bikes. So this is an S&S travel connectored, steel 29"er that Chris D had made for himself by his boss. Weird, but cool! (Wish my boss was a frame builder!) At any rate, it is one sweet rig.

Okay, that's it for today. I'm off to the Good Life Gravel Adventure tonight and tomorrow, then Big Wheeled Ballyhoo territory Saturday night and early Sunday, and a long trip eastwards come Sunday afternoon! Reports to follow!

Go ride yer bikes already!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Single Speed Conundrum: Part II

<==The Pofahl- It's Fixed!

So I had yesterday off and decided to get after the Pofahl and figure out what the deal was with the incessant creaking. This problem has been intermittently cropping up and bugging me since the day I put the thing together. At one point I thought it was the crank set, so I swapped it out. The bearings in the bottom bracket were indeed shot, so I thought maybe I'd gotten it figured out.

Then the saddle was the culprit. Swapped and still- creaking! Then I read where some folks had creaky Chris King head sets. So, I greased the bejeebers out of mine. Still- it creaked!

<===Creak free! Oh the joy!

So I left the bike alone for a long time since I had other more pressing projects. The Pofahl lingered in the back corner of The Lab, getting dustier, and buried under more stuff.

This began to bother me earlier this year, and I silently vowed to myself that I had to start riding this bike. It was a custom design dreamt up by me and made a reality by Ben Witt and Mike Pofahl, after all. How could I just let this thing fester like a bad wound in the corner of my shop?
So I fiddled with it once in awhile. I actually rode it once earlier in the year off road. Still creaking and all. I just had to get to the bottom of it and the Good Life Gravel Adventure was a good reason to shift my mind into action and get with the program.

So, Tuesday night, I swapped out the clamp hardware on the Syncros post. Test rode, still creaked! Sat it back down in the shop for an assault on the creak Wednesday. When I got to it yesterday I tried a different wheel set first. An easy thing to swap out and it would eliminate that possibility. Nope! Still creaking!

So, Mrs. Guitar Ted said she thought it sounded like my head set was bad. Well, again, I'd heard King head sets could creak, (however- I've never had trouble before), so I swapped that out next for an Acros head set. It was one I had gotten purely because it was orange anodized, and that happened to work for this bike, so in it went. Test guessed it.......Creak!

<===Some late summer color.........

So, I knew I was never going to get to the bottom of it unless I tried to get it to creak when I wasn't riding it. I knew it didn't creak when I was out of the saddle, so I figured it had to be either something to do with the rear half of the bike, or the frame was broken somewhere. I wedged the rear wheel between my legs, and wrenched on the saddle. Sure enough, I began to find the noise. When I figured out just what tweak made the noise, I honed in on the sound, and felt for the vibration with one free hand. Aha! I pinpointed it! I was astounded, relieved, and disgusted I hadn't figured it out sooner. It was the frame. I'll explain....

The seat post is the correct size- 26.8mm- and it is 400mm long. This is part of the problem. The binder bolt worked perfectly. Never was it pinching too far, nor did the post ever slip. The problem was further down the seat tube. The inside diameter of the seat tube got slightly larger as it went down beyond the binder. Not much, maybe a few tenths of a millimeter at most. Just enough that when I pedalled in the saddle, the twisting/rocking motion of my pedalling would cause the post to rock back and forth, with the binder bolt being the "fulcrum", if you will, and allowing the post to click on the inside of the tube on each pedal stroke down.

The solution? One wrap of electrical tape at the bottom of the post, re-insert, and ride. No noise! Completely silent.

Man! I sure wish I'd have thought of that a long time ago, but at least I came to the solution to the mystery. Now I will be running the Pofahl at the Good Life Gravel Adventure and doing it creak free.......I hope!

You see, during my test ride, I got caught out in a drenching rain storm. Nice! Nothing like inducing another creak right after I figured one out that had been hounding me for almost two years!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Single Speed Conundrum

<===Looks like a possibility....

So I am all set to go for the Good Life Gravel Adventure this Saturday. It is a 135 miles of Nebraska gravely goodness served up by Trans Iowa vet and finisher "Cornbread" and his "Pirate Cycling League" (Arrrgh!).

The thing is, I went and signed up for the "solo-gear-o" class, and my first choice, the Pofahl, has had a case of the chronic creaks. I have it nailed down to the head set and the Syncros seat post. Trouble is, I can't just swap out the seat post as it is an odd sized one and I need to have it be 400mm long. The head set is easy, but I'm running out of time here. I am throwing some parts and over hauling the seat post with some cleaning and grease. Test ride tomorrow, and then I'll determine if I can ride that thing for 135 miles. Well, I probably could, but not with the noises it has been making!

........but not a single place to hang a bottle!

So I have this other bike. The Raleigh Rainier. It would be a great rig for the ride, but there are two issues that are holding me back.

#1: I haven't ridden this bike for more than an hour at a crack.

#2: There isn't any place to put water on the bike.

I really don't want to find out (a) that this bike will kill me after two hours, and (b) that having to wear a pack on this bike with water is not a good idea. But then again, I could always go to plan C.

The Blackbuck!

or Dorothy!

Stay tuned................

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour: Beginning Of The End

Day Seven of the "Race Against Death Tour" dawns clear and calm..........

August 13th, 1995, Interior, South Dakota: This was a day that was weird beyond measure, but to really understand what happened that day in western South Dakota, I think it might be a good thing to remind ourselves where I had been, and what had been happening in my life at this time.

I was just less than a month removed from the final divorce proceedings from my first wife, which were no big deal in reality, other than the fact that the break up was a soul crushing experience for me. I was on pretty shaky ground emotionally, and after riding in extremely hot, dry conditions, having bonked the second day out, and being in a setting that was rife with human despair and poverty, it is amazing that I made it as far as I had.

This day started out okay, but it didn't stay that way for long, and in the end, I can point back to this day as a milestone, a big turning point in my life personally, and from the standpoint of this particular tour, it would have a huge impact. So, with that said, here is how it went down. I know a lot of what you will be reading in the next weeks will be almost unbelieveable, but it really did happen this way.

Interior was pretty quiet this morning as we awoke and packed up to go. Before we bugged out, we had to stop at a small grocery/general store on the edge of town. It wasn't a very big place, and it really looked like a house more than a store proper, but that is all we had access to out there, so we gladly availed ourselves of the opportunity.

The watch of the bikes fell to me, and Troy and Ryan stepped inside to get more bread and peanut butter for the road. The door hadn't closed yet when I spied a Native American and it wasn't long before he approached me.

He was another young man that spoke like a hippie and was panhandling me for money. He said something about having to get a bus ticket to see his ill sister in a town far away. He wanted five dollars. I said I didn't have any money to spare him, but I wished him well.

He retorted with the following, "Hey man, that's cool. I understand. Well........could you give me. like say, $4.78?"

I did a double take. What? This guy was bartering for a hand out? I declined his offer.

Well, that's cool man. How about $4.32? , he returns.

No. Can't do it. Sorry dude!

"Well, okay man, how about $4.20?", and on and on. It seemed as though Troy and Ryan were never coming out, and they probably were in there awhile, because the guy made it all the way down under two bucks and was still bargaining with me when they did finally emerge from the store.

I bade him a final farewell, mounted my bike, and took off as fast as I could go. Troy and Ryan were laughing at my experience as I recounted it to them. I was just tired of dealing with the "V.I.P" folks on this trip.

The road out of Interior was pretty flat and was skirting the badlands to the North. Too far away to really see much, but we would see a "pile" of weird soil, or strange rocks occaisionally. Traffic was non-existant, and Troy was wanting to hit the mileage hard in the morning due to the favorable conditions. So, he got out front and lit it up once again. We were strung out behind him as he set out a furious pace to Scenic, South Dakota, the next town up the road, where we hoped we would find some refueling opportunities.

Next Week: More despair and a plague of locusts!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy To Get One In

<====A present for the Fargo......
This past weekend would have to have been the perfect weather weekend! My wife had "on call" at the hospital, so I had the kids and added to that, it was my weekend to play at church, so I was pretty strapped down at the house.
Not that this is bad, it just meant that I was thinking I would more than likely be without a bicycle ride on a beautiful weekend, that's all. Seems that's the way it goes for me most of the time. Beautiful weather means I have to do something other than ride a bike, or I am sick. Really, I shouldn't complain, and if you think I am whining, are probably right!
That said, I was wistfully thinking of riding my bicycle all weekend until Sunday afternoon, when our close family friend said she would come by to watch the kids if I needed to do anything. WooHoo!
So, a two hour bicycle ride ensued on gravel and pavement. Not too epic, but I made sure I went somewhere I hadn't been before, just to make it interesting. For the locals: I went up Sheepbarn Hill to Osage Road, turned east, went to Ordway, north to 281, one mile east to Pilot Grove Road, two miles north to Newell, and westward back to Waterloo. Nice ride, and the way back in was weird because I seemed to be coasting way more than pedalling, with a crosswind. (I'll have to remember this route!)
So, anyway, I got to ride my bike, and I am a happy camper, even if it was only for two hours! I hope you all got to ride your bicycles this weekend too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday News And Views

<===The Ergon BC3 Impresses!

I've got some more to say about this pack. It is just too good not to....

Okay, I haven't had a chance to do any single track with this pack yet, but I am totally impressed. Ergon upped their game with this thing.

While it is huge inside, it rides like the BD2 I had as far as how it feels off the back. The air flow is better around the back, and the Flink rocks....literally! It allows the pack to stay put while you move. I can't wait to do an adventure with this thing. That's probably the coolest thing about it so far. It has me scheming to do something. I don't quite know what yet, but I have a few ideas!

<===Carnegie's Bar? Yep! A real bar in Taiwan inspired the name of this...

Got wind of this new bar today from Ragley Bikes designer Brant Richards. It is sorta "Mary-like" in a "Fleegle" kind of way, if ya catch my drift.

Anyway, it will be available immediately from Ragley Bikes and you can expect to pay about $60.00 plus shipping from the U.K.

The story is up on Twenty Nine Inches. Suffice it to say that I really like it. I miss the old Space Bar I used to use, but can't anymore, since it was discovered it was too weak for off road use. I'll have more on this Carnegie's bar soon. Stay tuned.......

<===Mr. 24 outdoes hisself again!

Yes! A new Trans Iowa header by Jeff Kerkove! I am super stoked to continue to have Jeff involved in Trans Iowa, even if it is only from the design of the site standpoint. I know if it wouldn't have been for his vision and energy, Trans Iowa wouldn't have ever happened. So, thanks to Jeff for the past efforts and for continuing to be involved with this little gravel dust up we call Trans Iowa.

Now, as for the event, the next big dealio will be the Registration! Look for an announcement in late October/early November. We'll do the veterans first and rookies second, like the last two years, and all by post cards. Get yer drawing skilz on and make your own post card! It doesn't guarantee entry, but it makes life more fun for d.p. and I, that's for sure!

Sometime in the next month or two, look for a recon report to pop up. I have the route pretty much planned, but as most that follow this event know, there are always changes to the original plan! I am looking for about a 320-ish mile course. Depending on how tough d.p. and I think it is will shape how long we give you all to do it in, but figure on at least 32 hours.

We've got tweaks and plans that will all be announced in the coming months. Stay Tuned!

For now, we still have a bit of summer left, so get out and ride them thar bikes around, ya'all!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday News And Views

<===Now this is something I could learn to like!

Raleigh marketing king pin, Brain Fornes, sent me these images of the XXIX Pro the other day. Holy cow! This bike is sweet. Reynolds 853, Fox QR15, and SRAM XX? Yeah......over the top spec, but what a great looking rig. I really dig the "Mexi-Skeleton Dude" on the down tube. What? You can't see him? Go here and take a look.

There are some XXIX pics there too.

<===Mmmmm Purrrrple!

I'll have to keep a look out for anybody parting out a 2010 Haro Mary SS rig. I know purple anodized stuff is "love it or hate it", and well.........I love it!

Not too sure about those panels, but I do like paneled paint schemes.

Just that this one is ahh..........yeeah.

<====Not this P-35

Velocity released news today about a new, wide rim offering that should be decently priced, fairly light weight, and reasonably strong for XC/light trail 29"er duty.

<====Not THIS P-35 either!

It will be released in 26 inch, 650B, and 29"er sizes. Velocity's colorful palette will be applied, but at first a limited amount of colors will be available including anti-freeze green!

Maybe I'll get some to match the cranks on my Blackbuck!

<===This P-35!!

The rim is 35mm wide, and should be out by Interbike time.

Velocity says it will support a tubeless set up, and was designed with this in mind from the get-go. They are said to be doing research into which system they will recommend to buyers when the rim finally becomes available.

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo News: I have gotten confirmation that a cool set of sweet retro Oakley shades will be given away to a lucky winner that RSVP's to the event before October 10th, 2009. I have been getting a steady trickle of names so far, so dump your name in the hopper by RSVP-ing me on the site. I also added some turn by turn directions to the site of the event on the Local Info page of the site, so you can check that out.

See ya later!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Introducing The Ergon BC3 Backpack

<===What it is.
Well, just the other day I had an on-line chat with Mr. 24 and he said he wanted to send out a pack for me to try out. Previously I have been using the BD2, and while it was a great pack, it was "having a few issues". Anyway, what do you expect after the sort of abuse I put that poor thing through!
At any rate, here is the replacement. the BC3. It is a BIG pack. How big? Twice as big as the BD2 in capacity! Yeah, you could live inside of this thing. Or as J-Kove would say, "Small furry creatures can get lost in there." Yes, it has capacity, but that isn't the whole story here. No, this thing is in a whole 'nuther realm from the BD2.
<===While it can swallow alot, it is easy to get at it all.
The BC3 has a much better inner layout than my old BD2 had. Getting into the pack is simple. Zip down the big, meaty, water shielded zippers on either side and the pack opens like a clam shell. You can get at things in the smaller pockets really easily, and the bottom of the pack is in plain view. There are great places to store multi tools, pumps, and whatever smaller items you don't want bouncing around in the larger space, which is cavernous, by the way.
Plus, there is a little water resistant pouch at the very top of the bag, along with a zippered slit that resides just at the place where the pack ends and the space between it and the harness is. Kind of a vertically oriented pocket that you can access while you ride. A great place for nutritional items, small cameras, maps, or what have you.
With a pouch for a bladder of your choice, this is easily turned into a hydration pack. (Note my blue bladder in the pic above) My 100 oz bladder slid in with no issues and routed out the top and the hose went through the included loops on the shoulder straps right where I needed it to be. In fact, it went in better than it did in my BD2. This pack could easily hold three bladders in the main interior pocket, by the way. If you are thinking about being a cycling version of a camel, that is.
Finally, if you can not get it inside, (unlikely), the outside has a flap secured by straps that a helmet could be easily lashed in, or a jacket, or what have you. For instance, I dumped the entire contents of my messenger bag into the main interior area of the BC3 and lashed the rolled up messenger bag in the outer "helmet pocket". (I still had room inside to spare!)
The fit of the BC3 is far improved over the BD2 I had. It stays off the back better, and the Flink system works even better, if that is possible. I rode home with my load, and was far more comfortable than I was with the old messenger bag. Amazingly, I had the thing loaded down pretty heavy, but I wasn't feeling it much at all due to the load dispersing attributes of the Ergon design. Nice!
But the nicest part of all? It has the entire outer surface done up in water proof fabric which includes sealed zippers. Ergon says this: The BC3 utilizes a high-tech, heavy-duty water proof material (water proofed on both sides). We'll see about the water proofness later after I've used it awhile, but I like this feature.
The entire pack is "Kerkove Nation Black" (I still think Ergon should call it that!) and is pretty stealth. The straps are padded nicely, but don't pinch or restrict your movement, and are adjustable with no fuss. I had the pack fitted in five minutes and was off.
Okay, so now it is time to put this pack through its paces. I'll be wearing it many places, so if you see me about, ask to see it, or ask any questions about it. I'll do what I can to answer. I'm pretty stoked about the possibilities for this pack, and I see it as an opportunity to do some adventures. Ergon says it is even good for commuting. Hey! I do that! So stay tuned!
Thanks to Jeff Kerkove, Ergon U.S.A. and everyone associated with Ergon. (Yes, that means you too Jeffrey N.!)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour- The Side Show

After a brutal 79.13 miles of heat and dehydration, the "Race Against Death Tour" comes to an oasis on the prairie in the form of a convenience store....

Although details on just where we were are fuzzy, a couple of things remain crystal clear about the end of the sixth day of the "Race Against Death Tour". First, we had found an honest to goodness convenience store near Interior, South Dakota, and secondly, "Sturgis" motorcycle freaks were everywhere. "Sturgis" is the name given by the common folks to the big motorcycle rally held the first week of August or so every year. It has its epicenter in Sturgis, South Dakota, thus the name. It attracts thousands of motorcyclists and they were all over the place out here. The convenience store sold gas, so this was a hotbed of activity this particular afternoon.

We found some precious water and grub, spied a bench outside, and plopped our tired bodies down to consume and watch the goings on. It was so good, and so busy, that we barely took time to talk other than to say the occasional, "Did you see that?" or "Check that out!". We saw a bunch of cool Harleys and a bunch of strange characters riding them. A couple stood out for me:

First was the pair on a Harley that pulled up under the canopy for gas. They weren't all that remarkable at first: a guy driving and a gal on the back in typical Harley biker dress. Then it happened.....she got off the bike. You know how they say some folks shouldn't wear certain types of clothing? I'll just say that this was a gross violation of that piece of wisdom.

Then there was the guy that had a flat tire. A big, gruff looking mechanic was repairing the tire with a plug. He finished up the job and called the motorcycle's owner over to him. "Now listen, this is a plug. It ain't gonna hold forever, but it'll git ya down the road till you can get a new tire. Whatever ya do, do not put more air in the tire. It ain't gonna hold." Well, you guessed it, we watched as the guy rolled his motorcycle over to the air hose, checked to see if the mechanic was looking, and stuck the chuck on the valve. Poof! Psssssssssssssssssss...........

Troy laughed so hard, I thought he was going to attract the guys attention and get us in trouble. Good thing Harley's are loud! Anyway, we were having so much fun, and we were so spent, that we must have sat there for two hours. Finally, we decided we had better go get our tent set up at the campground and take a shower.

It was a good relaxing show, and the campground was just as pleasant. We all got showered, and played hacky-sack until the sun went down. It was great to be back out of the desolation and despair we had gone through the past two days. We looked forward to the next day with some eagerness. Things seemed to be looking up.

Next week: The three tourists find out about the "bad" in The Badlands.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Looks Like A Change Of Season

<===Those yellow things on the ground? is a sign from above!
I got out to the Camp this weekend and rode three laps of the trail used for the race there, which was about 15 miles, if you add in my cool down on the gravel road. Good trails, a bit greasy in spots, but fun.
As I rode along, I noticed these yellow objects fluttering down around me and littering the trail in certain spots. Yep! Signs of Fall are in the air!
On one hand, I felt I was just getting into the groove of summer, such as it is. Now I have to switch gears and start thinking fall riding already, or so it would seem. The kids start school Thursday, so it must be true, eh? It is all good though, as Fall riding is some of my favorite riding of all.
So, I was doing my laps out there and there are three steep pitches on the "inner loop" as I call it. Two have gravel/busted rock at the top. These two particular steeps had me walking on lap #1 and #2. I was trying, but not making it. So, on lap #3, I figured I would try a bit different technique to see if I could actually climb these on the bike. Well, it worked! I made both climbs. On the last one, a cold thrill of excitement went through me as I pretty much flew right over the top. I couldn't believe how easy it was.
And maybe that was my problem all along. I didn't believe I could do these two climbs, so I didn't. Well, I let myself have a chance at thinking I could, and I did, and now I believe I will next time too. Those hills didn't change, but I did. I changed my mind, just like the seasons are about to.
I have a feeling it is going to be a good fall of mountain biking.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo 2009

It is happening October 10-11th out in Nebraska. You can hook up with other 29"er freaks and camp out, ride, and hang around for the weekend. We'll be having a home brew beer taste contest, and some other tom foolery, I am sure.
A Word About Potter's Pasture: While it is a cool place to ride, it is a very primitive and out of the way place. We'll have some porta potties lined up, but do not expect any electricity, or much for showers, etc. You'll be roughing it for sure!
The closest hotel/motel is like 30 miles away, so be prepared with whatever you think you will need.
Friday will see folks arriving, setting up, and checking in. There will be a winery serving wine and possibly a keg tapped of some micro-brew. Saturday will be the riding, with a campfire in the evening, a band, and the brew tasting. Sunday we'll do some more riding, and then in the afternoon we'll clean it up and head for the shed! Hope ya can be there! For more details, check out

Saturday, August 15, 2009

We Got Your Gravel Road Races Here

Rant Mode: ON

Okay folks, here's a bit of back round for ya first. Gravel roads- they are not just in the Mid-West! Just so you know. In fact, a bit of a ride over in Italy is (truly) steeped in tradition that covers a gravel road route. It is called L'Eroica, and you can think of it as Italy's version of Paris-Roubaix. In fact, The website, Flamme Rouge, has this to say about it:

"The L'Eroica is Italy's equivalent of Paris-Roubaix. Instead of cobbles you race over the strade-bianchi, the "white roads". An intrepid band of people are fighting to keep them from being covered in tarmac. This event helps raise their profile and keep them on the map. I thought the strade-bianchi would be like our railway walk, smooth, shale covered roads. In fact, Jersey's equivalent would be El Tico's car park. Deep ruts, pot holes and industrial sized gravel. Just acceptable for a car park but a little daunting for a public highway."

"The full distance L'Eroica is a monster. It's 200 kilometres, with 110 on the rough stuff. Anyone who finishes in under 12 hours gets a massive Tuscan hamper. That's how hard it is. I was up for the 140k ride but that started at 5:30 am! Seeing as I was on holiday I decided to ride the 80k event with Dianne, 40k of which was on the dreaded white road."

Okay, so what does that remind you of? You know- it is just a coincidence that Trans Iowa is similar. Really! Jeff and I didn't even know a single word in Italian back in 2004. (Well, with the exceptions of Colnago and Bianchi!) At any rate, you have to admire the European version of this gravel passion. Pretty cool stuff!

So I had to laugh when I received this e-mail concerning a U.S. version of L'Eroica. (I don't know about you, but when I see "L'Eroica", I think I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing. Weird!) Anyway.... So, they are running a U.S. version of an event that is run in Italy to bring awareness to the "strade-bianchi" and hopefully preserve it. Save it from being paved? I like that idea. Then I read the following:

"L’Eroica Boulder is a “period” cycletourist rallye run over country roads North of Boulder, Colorado. Fashioned after L’Eroica Italy, an event conceived to preserve the “strade bianche” or white roads of Tuscany, L’Eroica Boulder is an energetic way to enjoy open spaces by bicycle in the ambiance of a bygone cycling era and of a simpler, gentler time.

Steeped in tradition, L’Eroica Boulder is unlike any organized tour. The 30-mile route taking participants over a combination of asphalt and unpaved surfaces is the perfect balance to challenge not only the experienced rider, but to afford the non-cyclist an opportunity to display his or her “heroism”."

Say what? 30 miles?! Whatever dude! The guys in Europe are doing 124.27 miles!! I got yer gravel road rides here, folks. Take a look over in the middle of the country. We've got this gravel thing dialed! And it's as real as it gets. Guts, "heroism", and feats of cycling skill and endurance that some sanitized 30 mile ride north of The Republic of Boulder will never attain to .

"L'Eroica Boulder" my.........pfffttttt!!!!

That's about as ridiculous as it gets.

So, yeah. I got a little worked up about that, but it is okay. They can have their little deal over there and it is all good, because- you know- they are riding bicycles after all.

But to say L'Eroica Boulder is "steeped in tradition"? About the only thing I can see that they would possibly be "steeped in" is hippie tea.

Have a great weekend folks!

Rant Mode: OFF.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday News And Views

Well, it is Friday already and time to clear out the bits and pieces floating about my computer hard drive. You get "Friday News And Views"! Take a look.................

First up we have this blue belt drive beauty from.....Maverick American?! That's what is on the head tube. The poster who put this up on didn't explain, so I have no idea if it is a production idea, or just a frame to show off suspension forks, which is what Maverick American is known for.

Funny how belt drive seems to be the "Hey look at me, I'm different" thing companies think will get our attention and money these days.

Ragley, the brand started by former On One designer Brant Richards, has been toying with the idea of doing a non-suspension corrected titanium race bike. Here is a prototype recently raced at an event in the U.K.

Brant is a bit of an outside the box thinker, which makes whatever he is up to interesting. This bike is no exception. The geometry is pretty different, which you can probably tell by just looking at it.

Peter Keiller is the dude that cranks out all the Misfit Psycles propaganda and some fine bits of mtb fun. Here is his latest idea. He calls this handle bar the "FME" Bar. (Don't ask, it isn't fit for publishing) Anyway, this is a "FuBar/drop bar" love child kinda thing. I've got specs on it over at Twenty Nine Inches, but suffice it to say that this will appeal to those folks wanting to be in the "drop bar club" but not liking the goofy stems nor liking the road lever/shifter idea.

These will be available in October for around $40.00-ish bucks.

I think the idea is pretty cool, given the existence of the Fargo, and other monstercross rigs, this bar should do quite well in certain circles.

Trans Iowa V6: I have contacted Jeff Kerkove about re-doing the Trans Iowa site, and he has agreed. We have a theme, which I think you will all get a kick out of. Anyway, the dates have been dictated by me, (Ha ha!) and will be April 24th-25th, 2010. Mark your calendars today!

From The Way Back Machine: A commenter on yesterday's post alerted me to a find that may make certain vintage handle bar freaks all giddy. Rivendell found a box of 50 NOS DirtDrop handle bars yesterday. Yes......yesterday! Check it out now if you want a chance at one here. $75.00 will score you one of the last new DirtDrop bars on Planet Earth.

My take on it is that the new crop of off road drop bars coming out are much better designed and useful than the ol' DirtDrop for use off road. This old design is a great piece for those into restoring and old Bridgestone, perhaps, but even though these are Nitto made, and darn fine at that, they have been passed by as far as practical bars for mountain biking by the Midge and the new Salsa and Ragley models that will be coming out soon.

Have a great weekend and ride yer bikes!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday News And Views

2010 Gary Fisher Bikes 29"ers: I got ahold of some images of the new 29"ers, and here are some I found interesting in the 2010 line up.

Of course, we've all drooled over the Superfly 100 OCLV carbon rig. Get ready to plunk down about $5300.00 to have the same rig Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski is racing on.

The HiFi line gets an all new frame this year with different tube shapes and something wonky goin on with that drive side chain stay. (Probably the whole swing arm, as it was the weak link in the design.)

I'm digging the green touches on the HiFi Pro here which is going to go for $3300.00

Of course, the "big" deal this year will be the longer travel Rumblefish line. 120mm travel rigs with tapered steer tubes and drop in bearings like the Madone. ABP brake pivot on the rear axle too.

The Rumblefish II here goes for $3800.00
There is a Rumblefish I that is a rad red and black too that goes for $2600.00

Every year my favorite hard tail in Fisher's line is the X-Cal because Fisher somehow finds a way to make the paint and graphics on that model appeal to me. This year is no different. Black and green? Oh yeah!

The X-Cal goes for $1500.00

But this year, hmmm...I dunno. I really like the Rig. Check out that silver seat post. Haven't seen that on a mtb in a long time. White and gold is cool too.

The Rig goes for $1350.00

I've got the entire 29"er line on Twenty Nine Inches if ya want to take a look see.

Blackbuck news: It's no secret I am a big fan of OS Bikes Blackbuck. Well, I heard from a certain little birdy that there will be more made at some point and that a smaller size than the current Blackbuck will be available with 29 inch wheels. Those in the know may remember that a very few Blackbucks were made that accepted the 650B wheel and were a size smaller than the 29"er Blackbuck, but it is my understanding that there will be no more 650B blackbucks offered. If you are lucky enough to have gotten one of these, it is a rare, rare piece of mtb history now.

Camp Ingawanis News: Well, it is no secret that the north side trails are a mess from the logging that is just about over with now, thankfully! My good friend Captain Bob was out yesterday to assess the situation and I am pretty sure we'll be seeing some major re-routes in a few places. I think it'll make things alot better, so stay tuned for more as I learn it.

Okay, that's all I got here. Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bike Shop Horrors: Got It Backwards

<===Prepared for the core sample on your command, Captain!

Moots never intended for this to happen, I am sure of it. Back in the '80's when the original "bar end" was made, it wasn't even mounted on the handle bar ends, but nearer to the center, and they pointed frontwards and slightly up. They were climbing aids.

The idea caught on and the "bar end" became a fashion accessory for XC oriented mountain bike rigs of the 90's. Then the average cyclist got ahold of these things and were convinced that they were band aids for poor fitness, poor bike fit, or both. What happened then was that I see things like this on a regular basis.

You can't tell them they are wrong either. No, no. They won't even listen to you. I sure hope they never break their ribs. That's all I gotta say about that.

<===The oft misunderstood head set.

Same bike. Had a really loose head set. Got to looking and hey! Whatta ya know.

Yeah, and this was on a tandem. Not a good thing either. Well, obviously a head set spacer and adjustment was in order. At least the head tube wasn't ovalized.

Sometimes I wonder why more folks don't get seriously injured. I really do.

Be careful out there folks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour:High Plains Ghetto Part III

We rejoin the story as the three weary tourers are being glared at through the crack in the door of a Native American's residence as they beg for water.....

"What do you want?"

Although our answer was swift and in unison, the moment the words came disdainfully from the lips of the old woman that memory was etched in my brain forever. For a fleeting moment, the thought of being turned down entered my mind. I saw in a flash we three wanderers going from house to house, begging for water, getting turned down, and wandering around stuck in Wanblee as Native Americans laughed at us behind closed doors. It was a weird sensation, but in a flash, it was gone......

"Can we get some water?", we three chimed at once as we held out our bottles.

"There's a hose around back!"..........BANG!

She slammed the door. We stood there dumbfounded for a second or two, trying to digest just what it was she had said, and what it meant. We were desperate, so we assumed that it was okay to go around the back of the house to find "the hose".

What we found there was not unlike what you would see behind anyone's home. Well, with the exception of the double row of thirty automobiles parked in the weeds. But that wasn't our focus. We found the typical garden hose, and the tap it was attached to. Troy ran back for the rest of our bottles as Ryan and I began the process of filling them as quickly and efficiently as possible. We didn't want to get cut short if some other resident within the home decided to over rule the elderly lady, or take the chance that she would reverse her decision. I dared to look out of the corner of my eye up at the window, half expecting to see a pair of glaring brown eyes staring at me, but all I saw were closed curtains.

We completed our task, and without hesitation moved as quickly as could be from the shadow of that home. Down the street through Wanblee, we never saw another soul, but the feelings of heaviness and darkness were palpable there. I am sure I wasn't the only one of us that was glad to take that gravel road out of town and get back onto the pavement again.

Now we were on into the afternoon, the heat was relentless, and the hills never stopped. One or two other things that were constants were steadily annoying us as we went further up the highway. One was a big bluff that actually came into view the day before. It seemed as if we would never pass. It was huge, grassy, and far off, but we could see it to our left always. It seemed to us to be a mocking presence. Then there were the grassy hills themselves. Devoid of trees, or even any weeds taller than grass. They seemed to be the willing minions of the larger bluff. Playing against our mental mindsets, they seemed to be beating us down. We toiled under their eternal gaze wishing for it to end, or at least show signs of letting up.

Finally, we saw those signs. Rocky outcroppings at the heads of some of the grassy hills. Like bony skeletal parts that were jutting through the brownish-green grass. We were elated to see this. Even to the point of rejoicing. Well, I suppose after all that toil in the sunlight, and lack of much of anything else of interest to look at, it might not be so surprising that we were so happy about a few piles of rock. At any rate, we sensed a change was coming, not only in the landscape, but in terms of the lack of civilization as well.

Then the road made a sudden right hander and started down hill. Troy was feeling it and was gone. I wasn't so sure of myself at this speed with a load on, so I used the brakes a bit more than he and Ryan, but I managed to keep Ryan in sight. We finally came down to a flatter section of country with many rocks now showing all over. The beginnings of the Badlands. Signs alongside the road let us know we were not far from Interior, South Dakota, and more importantly, a real convenience store!

We gathered up again to make our plans for the evening. Based upon what we knew from our maps and the signage along the road, we were going to be obliged to make a slight detour to a convenience store before heading towards the west again and a campground we saw signs for that featured showers. We were hot, dusty, out of water, and very, very tired. The convenience store sounded too good to pass up though, so we made the slight detour to get to it. What we saw there made it all worthwhile.

Next Week: The Sideshow.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rain Delay

Well, this weekend was a bit of a washout. I awoke Saturday to a strange feeling as if I had tied one on the night before.....but I hadn't! I was a bit baffled and the feeling never really went away all day Saturday. I figured I better take it easy, so I relaxed at home most of the day. Not that I could have ridden off road anyway, what with all the rain Friday night/Saturday morning. That pretty much dictated that it would have been a gravel grinder, but that wasn't to be.

Sunday I played in the church band and of course, we were rained on quite heavily off and on most of the day. I felt better, but still not 100%. Oh well, I hope the weather man is right and we get all that hot sunshine for the rest of the week.

So another weekend shot and I didn't really get much accomplished. Oh, yeah....I did do some writing and a bit of wrenching in the Lab, but that was all I could muster.

2010: The "Year Of The Carbon Fiber 29"er": Yep! I can't believe all the carbon fiber that has hit the big wheeled world. Here's a short list that I am sure will get added to in the coming month or two: Niner, Jamis, Fisher, and Santa Cruz. All are introducing new carbon fiber models to be available for 2010. While it may seem weird that all of these ultra-spenderiffic rigs are coming out now, keep in mind that the plans were laid long before the big recession, so it might make a bit more sense in that light. Still, I find it hard to believe that all this carbon fiber is going to get sold in 2010. Maybe I'm just being short sighted, I dunno!

It has been awhile since I declared an "Official 29"er Color" too. For a few years it was green. Every new 29"er seemed to have a green color. Then it was blue. Now, I am saying that "carbon" is going to be the "Official 29"er Color" at least for next year. For awhile it appeared that "gray" might be that color, but all the titanium rigs that were being promised sort of fizzled. Only the Lynskey Ridgeline ever really made a big impact. That could change, but for now, I'm betting on carbon fiber.

On another interesting note, I see that the Raleigh single speed cross bike, which was a Rainier Beer themed rig last season, is coming back with another "beer" oriented theme. This time it is Miller High Life that will be parodied on the head tube at least. I saw a skiff of it on Cyclocross Magazine today, so be on the lookout for that.

Now if we could just get on with riding again and get rid of this rain!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Photo Friday

I know my good friend Gnat does a "Photo Friday", but his are actually pro quality photos. These? meh! I'm just too lazy to crank out a bunch of wordage today!

So, what we have here is a pic of the Fox damper on my Big Mama. I finally understand this beast, I think. You may laugh if you want, but I never said I was a damper expert. I guess I just felt like I had to try all the variations before I went back to stock settings. (How else would I know why other settings do not work?) So now I have it back to "zero" if you will, and the thing rips! I was flying out at The Camp on the thing and it was a hoot. Oh yeah, and that bit of a drop in Geo Wyth? That was fun, although I generally am not an air kinda guy, let me tell ya!

Ah! The Blackbuck. I hadn't ridden it much of late, then I threw on some different wheels and fell in love with it all over again. Here's the deal though. I went back over some notes and decided that I need to throw on the Blackbuck fork again. I just need to score an appropriate stem so I can avoid the "stack-o-spacers" I had on it last year. (Check out the pic).

The pink Blunt wheels are cool, but I am going to have to do a special wheel set for this someday. I'm going to go with Gordo rims when I do, and those waaay fat tires again. I just love the wide track the Gordo/fat tire combo lays down. (Racing Ralph 2.4 front/WeirWolf LT rear as shown here) I'll probably spring for all Racing Ralphs though when I do it.

Oh yeah, I can't let Gnat have all the cool pic glory, ya know. Here's one I think is awesome, but then again, I am biased! You see, even though it was taken with my camera- (my "cheapo" Fuji at that)- it wasn't taken by me. Nope!

This is the work of my six year old son, Jacob Stevenson.

Amazing what kids can do if you give them the chance and a bit of latitude, isn't it? (No directions from adults, he really did this on his own) Like I said, I am biased, but I think it's pretty dang good, so sue me!

The start of the expert XC group at The Camp last Sunday. We had them go up the gravel, then down the driveway into the single track to string them out a bit.

It is really cool to see all the different bikes and riders going at it.

The riders also seemed to really enjoy the day, and the course. I've heard lots of positive feedback.

More carbon madness was revealed by Niner Bikes as they shared some pics and info that I posted over on Twenty Nine Inches yesterday.

Chris Sugai promises that this frame will have some surprises not only in the frame itself, but in terms of the vendors they are working with on the project as well. Niner often gets companies to do unusual things and gets exclusives on them, like the Reba with travel wind down, the Marz tapered steer tube 44 model 29"er fork, and WTB Kodiak tires.

It'll be interesting to see what they get cooked up in terms of the components. I can see internal cable routing, a tapered steer tube, and maybe an eccentric bottom bracket or BB30? Hmm..... Time will tell. They'll be showing a pre-production sample at Eurobike and Interbike, so it won't be long before we all know.

Okay, that's all the images for today folks. I have stepped up the riding program lately, because time is running short, and I am making a run at a few things. Maybe a Good Life Gravel Adventure, a trip possibly sandwiched in between that and Interbike, and of course, Bootleg Canyon. Shortly after that, The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. Who knows what else?

Step up your riding this weekend! Get out there folks! Summer 2009 is about shot!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Fast Camp

I was at the Camp last Sunday and helped out a bit with the XC race there. Folks seemed to have a good time, and things seemed to run fairly smoothly. Just a bunch of guys riding fast as they could, oh!.....and a few gals too!

Well, the race instigated a bunch of activity on the South side that made things very different out there! First of all, and most obviously, they had to mow and rake the whole thing out. This really cleared up the trail, but in addition, all the downed logs that interrupted the flow out there were removed. That really changed up things!

Finally, in order to get some more mileage into the loop, a bit of trail was introduced in the "bottoms" that wasn't really there before. It added about a mile to the entire loop for a total of about 4.5 miles now. The new stuff is nicely burned in now too. Very twisty and swoopy.

So what we have here now is a totally different animal. What was a bit of a stop-start-stop again course is now a "go like heck", flowy, turning, up and down fun time. It encourages speed, but speed will get you in trouble out there if you are not careful and do not know the course. I kind of have a handle on it now that I have ridden the basic stuff out there for over a year. I know what is coming up. If you don't, it might tempt you into going too fast and getting crossed up. Pretty cool stuff.

So thanks to all the trail workers that helped carve out and clean up the South Side and make it into a great chunk of single track. It's short, yes, but do two laps at the speeds it encourages and you'll be sweatin'!

Now if the North side could be cleared up again............. Someday!

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the work done in Geo Wyth State Park. Some good single track has been refurbished and cleared out there. I would name names of trails, but I realize that not many locals would even remember those names anymore. So let's just say stay on the opposite side of the bike path, away from the river, and you should be golden. Anything on the river side of the bike path is still choked with weeds and dead falls. This includes one of the best little chunks of single track out there. Maybe "the" best one, but again, I doubt anyone remembers "Tater's Trail". They would have to be there to realize what I mean. Oh well!

So, we have the classic Iowa woodland single track in great shape in a couple of places. If you ride a mountain bike at any time, now is the time to go. These trails have never been better or in better shape. Likely it'll get worse before they get cleaned up again someday. One bad windstorm, one flood, or a few months of neglect. Anyone of those or any combination of those will degrade the perfection that exists now. I highly recommend checking these out now. Don't wait!

I don't mean to sound so fatalistic, or negative about the trails, but I also have been around long enough to know how hard it is to get the trails into shape, and how dang near impossible it is to keep them that way for very long. It's a tough job, and it takes tons of man hours to maintain these places. All with volunteer help.

So ride them now while the fruits of the labors can be enjoyed to the fullest, and consider being an active member of our local off road community. If you are from outside this locale, you can do the same in your neck of the woods and be a contributor and a user, instead of just one of those. Think about it. I bet your trails could use a little help too!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

There Ain't Enough Room On These Roads Fer The Both Of Us! :Update

Well, the news about the petition to ban cyclists from Iowa roads has gained international notoriety. There is a counter petition to ban cars from farm to market roads, which is just a huge waste of time, in my opinion, and the petition to ban cyclists continues to gain steam. Even our local T.V. station picked up the story on its website:

I wrote this missive on The Cyclist about it, and I think what I said there is being bourne out in the comments made on the site against cycling on blacktops. These folks (A) think they are doing cyclists a favor by "protecting them" and (B) are not something that belongs on any road. You know it is true. Just look at how folks react to us on city streets. How they think you are "nuts" for riding on the road. Like it or not, cyclists are in the vast minority here in Iowa when it comes to the population at large. Most Iowans will have zero problem with a law banning cyclists from the county blacktops. Think I am crazy? Just wait till the legislature picks this up and the law becomes reality. There is a very good chance that it could happen.

But you might say, what about RAGBRAI? What about these other organized charity rides? Oh....they'll happen all right. With a special clause written in that they must have insurance up the yazoo and police escort/barricades and what not. Those "big" rides will happen all right with or without the proposal. These folks against the cycling on farm to market roads are not going to be against RAGBRAI. They are against the group rides, the one and two cyclists out there enjoying the road. That is who will be kicked off the road if this gets through the House and Senate.

And the "bean counters" in the gubmint will love it too. No special provisions for cyclists means less money to cyclists and more to spend on highways, which are underfunded already. There is a move afoot in the Federal branch to cut all alternative funding for transportation like cycling and pedestrians out of the new transportation bill. Yeah! For real.

Your rights to move about the country in the manner that you choose is under fire here folks. If the county roads are made "cycling free", you will see moves to ban cycling from city streets as well. Especially in budget crunched cities that can not afford potential conflicts between cyclists and cars/trucks. They'll point to the bike paths and tell you to ride there. Bicycles are like golf, and stick and ball sports that should have their own "arenas" for use, not the public roads. You don't take green practice on a street, so why should you ride a bike there? Bicycling is just another sport, another game that people play, it isn't serious transportation.

Think that sounds crazy? They are going to start asking who rides a bike as transportation and they are going to find out that very few folks that consider themselves as cyclists in Iowa actually ride to work, or for their primary means of transportation. They are going to find out that not many cyclists are writing their representatives to protect the rights of cyclists......unless you actually do write them.

If the minority (ie: Cyclists in Iowa) do not make themselves known to the representatives in government, the government is going to take away the right to ride on farm to market roads. Signing a stupid petition banning cars is a waste of time. Get the ears and eyes of State Representatives on this matter. That's where the rubber meets the road!

Click here to find your State Representative and how to contact them.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour:High Plains Ghetto Part II

After a hot, dusty lunch break, the "Race Against Death Tour" moves on down State Highway 44 towards the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation...

After our brief repose under the shade tree it was right back into the hot sun for us. We toiled along pretty much silently with the exception of the occasional outburst from Ryan. He was really the glue that kept us together alot of the time. Every so often he'd pipe up in a whiny, New York sort of accent with " Oh my achin' ass! Ohhhhh!" and the timing would be such that Troy and I would bust a gut and temporarily forget about our misery. Or at other times, Ryan would pipe up with a spot on rendition of Ren from "Ren and Stimpy" that went something like this..."Oh no! I know what you want! You coveteth my ice cream sandwich!" Yeah, that one would always about bring us to a halt due to the laughter it induced. was one of those, "you had to be there moments, for sure, but I think we can all relate to how the sun and exhaustion can contribute to scenes like this.

So it was that after many long climbs and descents we arrived at the cross roads of two state highways. This was probably one of the standout memories for me due to the oddness of the situation. Here we were at a crossing of two important roads with nothing there! No gas station, no nothing. Weird I thought. There was a guy across the road with a motorcycle parked and he was eating. Troy, Ryan, and I were going to consult the map, have some water, and eat again from our stash of peanut butter and bread. It was all we had left out here to eat.

As we sat on the shoulder, just off the roadway, a car pulled up to the stop sign going the opposite way. A Native American leaned out and looked us over. "Hey man!", he drawled in a voice more appropriate for a Haight-Ashbury resident, "What are ya'all doin?" We explained what we were up to as several small Native American children craned there necks to take a look at us. After our little story, the man behind the wheel said, "That's cool! I really respect what you guys are doin, man. That's cool." And with that blessing, he put the car in drive and rumbled away.

We were in need of more than just "being cool", we needed supplies! We were running low on the peanut butter and bread, and water was dangerously low. In fact, we were drinking our last drops at that intersection. Wanblee was the next town up the road. we were hopeful that we could re-supply there and for sure we were counting on getting water there. With that being our sole focus now, we saddled up under the unforgiving heat and slowly pedalled down the road westwards.

Wanblee came right after a quick southwards turn in the road. After some tough miles, we could see it. There were road construction signs up, but we were so focused on getting water, we didn't care. About half a mile from Wanblee the road sank into the valley. Great! A downhill that would save some energy! But to my dismay, the pavement was all gone just after that and the gravel laid down was very chunky and hard to ride on. Now we were working harder than ever, and going downhill was a slap in the face!

We saw a grocery store just before we reached the residential section of town. It was a long, low building setting all to itself by the gravel roadway. We pulled in with great expectations. What we found inside was almost nightmarish. No lights were on with the exception of the case lights in the dairy and frozen food sections. This cast an eery glow over the ceiling and walls. The lone Native American woman in the place wanted to know what we wanted in a half scared, half demanding voice. I suppose she was as startled to see three white bicyclist wander in as we were to see the odd state of the store we were in. Troy said we needed water, was there any here? She said something incredible to our ears, "No". We asked where in town we could find water, and she said in a somewhat condescending tone, "Well, I suppose you could try one of the homes here." We were dumbfounded to the point that we forgot about food for the present time and walked directly out of the place in a near frenzy.

We grabbed our bikes and looked for the nearest residence. About half a block away stood a split level ranch home, dusty, but in good repair. We settled on it as our first try at begging some water. I walked up with Ryan beside me, Troy was right behind. We knocked. The door was silent, unmoving. We knocked again. Slowly, the door opened a crack, then about two inches wide. I could barely describe the figure of an elderly native American woman glaring with disdainful eyes at us through the opening.

"What do you want!!"

Next Week: The weary tourers see signs of civilization.

Monday, August 03, 2009

How To Be A "Fargo-naut"

Step #1: Of course, you will first need to get a Salsa Cycles Fargo. Find out what size you need and other details like whether you want to build up your own from a frame and fork, or buy a complete by visiting your local bike shop. Hopefully they are a Salsa Cycles dealer. If they are not, there are work arounds, but you should tell them to work on becoming one.

After you get your Fargo, you will want to become acquainted with its ride and how to get it tweaked out for comfort, because you will need to be dialed to "go far" on your Fargo! Trust me, you will want to do this anyway! Once you have this step completed, move on to..........

Step #2: Explore your neighborhood. Heck, go on over to the next neighborhood! Check out that new addition, or the coffee house that just opened up you heard about. Go down that street you've passed a million times that you wondered where it went to.

The Fargo will handle it well. Pot holes? Rough pavement? pssshaw! Water off a ducks back to the Fargo.

Once you've got the town figured out, move on to .....................

Step #3: Hit that bike path people have been talking about. Maybe you heard about that path around the lake where you vacation. Go for it! Got a bike path that is a destination? Maybe Elroy-Sparta? Maybe something else.....whatever! Go take that path to the end, turn around and come back the other way! The Fargo is a comfortable bike that'll do cinder path, pea gravel, and paved bike paths with no problem.

Now you're gettin' it! Move on to.......

Step #4: The country! Ahh! Those quiet back roads hidden away from all the urban crazies. Beauty and peace that others most likely will never discover. But not you! You will go where a lot of bicycles dare not to. Dirt and gravel are no match for the Fargo. Got a little mud there? No biggie! The Fargo has mud clearance and disc brakes. No back road can stop you.

Now don't stop there! Oh no....go on further to..........

Step #5: Offroad! Yeah.....single track and lots of it. The Fargo eats this stuff right up. You can fly or you can saunter, but either way, the Fargo is ready and willing to thread the thin ribbon of dirt in your neck of the woods.

Now that you have made it through all five steps, you too can be counted amongst the growing legions of Fargo-nauts all over the world!

Look like fun? It is. Get on a Fargo. You won't regret it.

This unabashedly Fargo-riffic post brought to you by Guitar Ted Productions!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Sometimes I Wonder....

I was perusing some web-o-sphere sites I haunt from time to time and came across this missive on a bike I think is very intriguing. The Eastern Woods Research "OWB 29"er" is a funky monkey of a bike, but I've always been attracted to odd looking rigs and for whatever reasons, this one has always caught my attention as something that made sense in a weird, twisted sort of way. I have noticed the work of EWR since the 90's when they first came out with the 26 inch wheeled "Original Woods Bike".

Now as I settled in to read this review by Ryan LaBar, (Recently of Dirt Rag fame), I was expecting the "it's heavy" comment, the "weird water bottle placements" nit, and even something negative about 29"ers. I was floored; however, to read these lines;

"The OWB excelled on rough and steep terrain. The 70.75-degree headtube angle eased the twitchy, about-toendo feeling that plagues many 29ers. And with no seat-tube-mounted bottle cages, the saddle drops all the way to its rails."
Whoa! Three zingers right in a row! I couldn't believe what I was reading. Here I will break down each statement:
#1:The OWB excelled on rough and steep terrain: Okay, fair enough. This is said about a lot of 29"ers. The stability of the big wheels and the longer contact patch of the tires are two big reasons why. I've ridden everything from 69 degree head angle 29"ers to 74 degree head angle 29"ers and those two stabilizing factors made both ends of the spectrum totally ride able. (Of course, the bicycle is a system. You really can not derive what you are feeling from one aspect of any bike.) I will say that in the 26 inch wheeled world, you can not get away with that wide of a spectrum in geometry without some major consequences. That said, the next statement in Mr. LaBar's review must be taken in context with this statement and my comments to fully grasp the bizarre nature of the comment in #2......
#2:The 70.75-degree headtube angle eased the twitchy, about-toendo feeling that plagues many 29ers: First of all, there is a typo in the quote. I'm pretty sure it is supposed to read, "about to endo". Or in other words, Mr. LaBar often feels as though he is going over the bars on 29"ers. Now this I find rather bizarre. Most folks, myself included, ride 29"ers precisely because we do not feel as though we are going to go over the bars. Yes....I feel quite confident that Mr. LaBar is in the vast minority here. That statement is just plain odd. Not to mention that the trail figure on the bike ends up being about 86mm, which is far more telling than the head angle alone indicates. Anything with that sort of trail figure is going to feel more secure, and you know, some 29"ers have even more trail than that. Even so, I think just about any seasoned 29"er rider will tell you this statement is way off the mark.
#3:And with no seat-tube-mounted bottle cages, the saddle drops all the way to its rails: The very next statement to follow up that bizarre one in #2 is even more puzzling. Okay, as an aside, as a "hey, check out this weird thing" kind of a statement, I think it is fine, but this review is pretty short and that comment is about as mundane as it gets. With space so short, I would have edited that out for something much more useful. Like maybe why do you feel as though you are going over the bars on most 29"ers? That would have been interesting. This comment, well- it just doesn't matter to anybody looking to buy this bike.
So I was just floored that this post made it on to Bike magazine's web site. It's an odd review and there are other weird things about it that I will leave for anyone that wants to check it out to find. You know, it isn't that it is a 29"er so much as it is just crazy that this disjointed piece is there about such a unique rig. Well......I thought it was weird anyway.
And hey.....I suppose I shouldn't cast any stones since I'm in the same glass house, eh?
Have a great weekend!