Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interbike 2009: It's The People That Make It Cool

<==="Trouble Makers" #1 and #2: Photo by Sonya Looney

Interbike is in Las Vegas, which makes a lot of us Interbike-a-lopers a bit tense. Vegas isn't really a very savory town, it is an icon of excessiveness and waste, and to get anything done there is expensive and maddening. Yet Interbike can't really be consistently held in a place without lots of available hotel rooms, and a viable, good weather location for the Outdoor Demo. So it goes.......
Here's my take: It really doesn't matter all that much. Why? Well, besides getting ripped off by The Sands, which I don't really see any good way around, you just focus on Interbike, and more specifically the people, and Las Vegas fades into the back round.
If you do that, and spend as little time as possible in the area of The Strip, the whole Las Vegas deal is pretty much marginalized. It's still there, hanging above your head, invisible to the eyes, but if ignored, it can be a pretty neutralized deal. It is kinda like offensive media. Just tune it out. Admittedly not easy to do in the area of The Strip, but a mere two blocks away, and your in any ol' Southwestern town for the most part.
And the people I get to see that come there, I sometimes don't get to see for an entire year until the next Interbike. In that sense Interbike is like going to a funeral. Not a fun place to go, but you get to see family you don't normally see. Sure, it shouldn't be that way, but that's how it seems to always work out.
At any rate, it's all about the people for me, and Vegas itself is just a nuisance that I have to put up with to see these folks. Still very worthwhile.
Warning! If you are easily offended, do not scroll down to see the next image! You've been warned!
I told ya to be careful..........
<===If you "get" this, your friends probably think you are one sick puppy!
xXc Mag, a webzine I highly recommend, is produced by Jason Mahokey. He of the cryptic Facebook postings. Well, he got ahold of me and wanted to know if I would sport the t-shirt you see here on the floor of Interbike. I said yes, and the wheels were put in motion to get that to happen. Unfortunately for both of us, the wheels we were relying on were those of the U.S.P.S.
Oh well! I told Jason I would try to work this shirt into as many blog posts as I can. So get used to seeing it. I figure since this blog gets about as much traffic as the main drag in Wood, South Dakota, I will have to post it about 1467 times in the next month.
Just kidding!
But do look for this to pop up in some unusual places.

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour- Day 8 This Is The End

After one of the weirdest, most incredibly tough days of cycling on the tour, "The Race Against Death Tour" hits the Black Hills.

August 14th, 1995: We awake early and pack up our stuff for our first foray into the Black Hills of South Dakota. Things were kind of glum as we made ready since Troy made an announcement right outta the sack that his knee was pretty iffy. Apparently, the previous days efforts were too much, and one of his knees was giving him fits. Even during the previous day, he knew of it, but didn't want to admit it. Troy was the guy who the year before most rued the day we had to call it quits in Manistique, Michigan. Troy was the one that wasn't going to be the reason we didn't make it this time when we set out. In fact, he wasn't going to let any of us "not make it". And here he was, admitting that he had an injury that would "possibly slow us down".

Well, I think Ryan and I both saw through his pride. We said "the right things", encouraging Troy. Saying it wouldn't be a big deal if we had to stop. So we kind of danced around the problem that we both knew was going to close out this trip. It was now just a matter of when Troy would say he was done.

So it was that we set out with a quiet, brooding mood about us. It should have been an exciting day, the sun was out, it was cool, it wasn't windy at all. By all appearances it was a great day to be on the bike. The nicest one we had experienced on tour so far. However; we set off as if we were headed into a drizzling rain on a gray morning.

The way the road was laid out didn't help. The climb started right at the door of the motel. Straight up into the Black Hills on busy Highway 16 West. At least there was a paved shoulder wide enough to insulate us from the heavy morning traffic. Troy was up the road, Ryan in second, and I followed. We were all separated by about a hundred yards. Granny gear climb all the way into the Black Hills. Probably about a five mile slog without any relief.

Oddly enough, I felt great. I found a rhythm and was able to stick to it all the way up. At the top the road entered the pines and the scenery was fantastic. We stopped near a laminated, arched wooden bridge to check the maps. We decided on a course and set off. Troy was soldiering on, and it seemed now after the huge climb was behind us that he may recover enough to keep going. However; his pace wasn't the fiery, aggressive one we were used to. His speed was about what it was going up, whether the road was flat or tilted up. Soon I found myself off the front, with Ryan hanging back with Troy. I don't really know what Ryan was doing, maybe trying to talk Troy into stopping. Maybe encouraging him to go on. Whichever it was, I never did find out. I had to wait for them several times. Finally it was obvious that Troy couldn't go on. We had to put a stop to the madness before he really destroyed his knee.

Basically Troy knew it, but he let us talk him out of it, I suppose to assuage himself somewhat of his guilty feelings for being the reason we had to quit. At any rate, the next campground we saw, we were going to stop at for the day. I rode on ahead a bit, checking all the signs. Looking at all the "post card" scenery. I was a bit excited because I knew we were in the same area I had been in when I was much younger on a family vacation. We stayed at a really cool campground/dude ranch called Rafter J-Bar Ranch. I was curious if I would see any signs of it again on this road, if this was the right road.

Once again I had to stop. Ryan came up not soon after. He was worried about Troy. He was really hurting, basically riding one legged now. He said we needed to find a place pronto. Well, Troy rolled up about then, and Ryan said, "What's up this driveway?" I said I didn't know, but not a second after the words came out of my mouth, Ryan found a sign that said "Rafter J-Bar Ranch" and an arrow pointing up the road. It was still here! The very same joint I had stayed at years ago when I was a child.

It was a nice place too. We found a camping spot right near the showers that had a laundry attached. It was time to set up camp, relax, and just goof off. We were all resigned to being done with the tour now, but what we would do with the remaining days, we had no idea just yet.

Next Week: A Different Routine.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Interbike 2009: The Hangover

<====The view out the Circus Circus hotel.

Coming back from Interbike always finds me a bit discombobulated for awhile. The city, the venue for the show, on top of air travel, and the work load all conspire to leave me a bit out of sorts for a few days.

I sure am glad I cut the trip short and got back on Thursday! Of course, because of the situation, I ended up being awake for too long a stretch, which only added to the pile.

<===Chris King, (on the left with the tongs) braved near 100 degree heat to barbeque for a bunch of dusty bike freaks. Thanks man!

That said, I ain't complainin'! I got to ride a bunch of really cool bikes at Bootleg Canyon, adding state number seven to my total for the year of states ridden off road in, and I got to meet a lot of great folks again.

Added to that were the old friends and faces which I don't get to see at all unless I go to Interbike. Too bad it takes that to get to see these folks, but then again, at least we get together. I suppose it ends up being better that we meet at all.

< ===Beef! It's whats for dinner, eh?

The plan this year was to get my rear end in gear and do what I could in the two Outdoor Demo days and one day of indoor work at Interbike. Looking back on it right now, I'd say it was successful as far as being on par with last year. I got more pictures, actually, and I got plenty of content. Trouble with the "plan" was that I had zero time to spend digging into things. It's funny though, because the readers seem to appreciate the pictures, but when you start writing more in depth stuff, they complain about not seeing the show virtually. So I took more pictures and talked and dug up stuff less.

<====Mutant muni monsters. These guys are off roading freaks of nature!

So the "plan" seemed to be fairly balanced and seemed to work. My partner, Grannygear, was a huge help. Between he and I we did more with the Outdoor Demo than ever before, and if we hadn't run into so many road blocks, we would have gotten even more done.

Example: (This one chapped my hide more than any of the situations) Cannondale had a big circus tent like deal where you walked into the front of the tent, did the required sign offs, and told them what bike you wanted to ride. Okay. No big deal, right? Well, the line was long when I stepped up. It wasn't moving very fast either. Meanwhile, Grannygear is standing there waiting, since the "normal" time to get a bike anywhere else had long elapsed and he was ready to ride. Finally! I get to a clipboard and then I see why the line was crawling. Dorel, Cannondale's parent company, had you sign your life away, asked for your mother's maiden name, and made you promise to say please and thank you in triplicate. Well, not really, but I signed more signatures and initials on their release than I did for anybody else at outdoor Demo combined. Stinkin' lawyers! Anyway.......

I walk up to the guy asking which bike I wanted. I said, "Anything with 29 inch wheels." The guy says that they didn't bring any, because they were still in production. I said, "Well, give me back my I.D. then." He looks at me with wide eyes, "You mean you won't ride anything but 29"ers?" To which I said, "Nope!" I grabbed my I.D., and I took my steaming countenance outta there before something other than "Nope" came outta my mouth.

<===Bootleg Canyon leaves an impression in more than one way.

At least they could have put up a sign that said "We didn't bring any 29"ers. Sorry!", and I wouldn't have wasted a half an hour waiting for nothing in the heat. Sheesh! Thanks Cannondale!

Anyway, that was the worst thing, and that was not that big a deal, so I wouldn't say it was a bad trip. But it does suck the life out of you somehow, some way, and that takes a bit to get over.

Well, it's over now and my next, and last, big deal for 2009 looms on the horizon.

The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo.

More on that to come, stay tuned.............

Friday, September 25, 2009

Home Again

Well, I bugged outta the Lost Wages morass Thursday in the AM. I had my associate, Grannygear, dump me off at McCarran, as I posted yesterday, and since then, I was up for 38.5 hours. Yep! Pretty much awake the whole time with a couple of plane ride cat naps.

Call it T.I.V6 training. I usually am up about that long on those events too. Speaking of T.I.V6, I got some awesome news at Interbike. I am not at liberty to discuss details right now, but somebody has stepped forward in a huge way to offer sponsorship and logistical help that, if it all works out, will be a huge step up for T.I. in terms of just about everything.

Yeah, it is that good! I am really stoked, and d.p. and I are going to have a meeting with this mysterious person and get some details nailed down. Once we have something solid, look for an announcement. This won't be for about a month, so don't get too excited just yet, but feel free to speculate!

In the interim my attention is going to be full on the Bigwheeled Ballyhoo. That's coming up October 10th-11th, so it isn't far away! (Wasn't it like just August yesterday? Weird!)

Also, I got a kick arse t-shirt in the mail that was supposed to show up before Interbike so I could sport it around the show floor. Dang it! Now that I have seen it, I am super bummed I didn't get it before hand. Awwww.........I'll just have to get it in as many blog posts as I can in the next few months. In fact, I have an idea about this shirt, so Jason, if you are reading this, expect an e-mail when my brain starts functioning correctly again.

In the meantime, go read all my Interbike scribin' at Twenty Nine Inches. Then go ride yer bicycles!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Leaving Lost Wages

<====Oakley Carbon fiber shades worn by Lance Armstrong in the Tour. All $4500.00 worth!

So, here's the deal. Instead of paying some hotel for a room that I'd have for only maybe six hours, I chose to hang out at McCarran International.......all night long!

ow before ya'all say I'm crazy, you need to know that McCarran has free internet. Free! Plus, there is hardly a soul around, and I'm getting massive amounts of work done for Twenty Nine Inches here.

really, it is a good deal. No distractions, nothing. Just me tapping out a slow, monotonous thread here in a city that seems a million miles away from me, even though the Strip is like......right there!

<====They didn't clean them. Lances sweat is still on there, I guess!

o, a word on these shades. Carved from a billet of carbon fiber, these take 96 hours to make. They are reinforced with titanium, and they are only making 200 pair. And yes, they are nearly sold out.

Oh yeah, they'll have an all aluminium version with optional anodized colors for a measly $1500.00, which they expect to disappear in a heartbeat too.

Bad economy? What?!!

expect to be hangin' here until around 5am. Then things will get all crazy, or so I am told.It is okay, 'cause I have a boarding pass. I just need to check my bag, get security to fly me through, and then board a plane about 20 minutes after six for Chi Town.

Buh Bye Las Vegas!!

I'll be home soon, if it all goes smoothly.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sights And Sounds Of Bootleg Canyon

<===Bike mechanics make the world, (and wheels) go 'round.

One thing I have noticed around here is that the bike mechanics are working their tails off. And.....they aren't getting any "love" for it. So, for all you guys and gals slugging it out at Interbike, thank you! You rock! You make the wheels go 'round.

Overheard at The Outdoor Demo:

"Well, I'm working pretty hard....some of the time." Jeff Kerkove when asked by a show attendee how it was going.

"I do all four disciplines, cross, road, and mountain bike". A show attendee trying to impress a product manager at Easton Wheels. I wonder which discipline counts for two? Hmmm........

"That's the worst tasting beer I've ever had! This beer is skunked or something!" A show attendee upon tasting a small brewery batch of IPA. Probably drinks Bud Light on weekends only or something. Bah! Kids these days!

"Well, I wasn't going to come up to the Demo, but the guy I'm with says to me, (speaks in whiny voice) "But I've never been to the Outdoor Demo before!" So I said, meh! Okay". Peter Kieller of Misfit Psycles on not wanting to come to Interbike.

In Other Goings On: I got my feet on the pedals of some sweet rigs here and had a blast riding the trails here. I will have to say that I need work on my air time. I just never seem to get the front end up. Oh well. I'm going to be working on that for awhile before I get the hang of it. When I accidentally do air it out right, it is pretty fun, I'll say that much!

Hit up a restaurant last night that was okay. Grannygear slept out on the balcony again last night. Freaked out some of the other folks crashing here. Funny, but communal living by Interbike attendees is rampant. Cheap rooms in Vegas? Ha! Make it cheaper by sleeping on the floor with a bunch of other bike freaks you've never met before. Snoring is not popular, by the way. So, I am not a popular guy here. Yeah.....I can saw some wood, okay? Oh well! Maybe I should be sleeping out on the balcony!

Coming home Thursday morning after getting dumped at McCarran International later tonight. The airport is pretty morgue-like during the wee hours, but it is free to hang out there, so I don't have to spend money on another nights stay when I'd barely get the bed warm. Oh well. I'll be good and ready for bed Thursday night!

Later folks! Hope to be writing next time from the home base.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour- The Rapid City Scene!

After a really weird, tough, and draining day, "The Race Against Death Tour" takes its leisure in Rapid City, South Dakota...........

The end of the weirdest, toughest, most emotionally draining day I have ever had on a bike was a welcomed thing. I wasn't the only one feeling this way. All three of us were ready to forget all about the day and find a great meal, a hot shower, and a restful nights sleep- not necessarily in that order!

Obviously, showers were the first order of business. As we got settled into our motel rooms, we perused any neighborhood restaurant opportunities and found a Mexican joint up the road called the Casa Del Rey. We hit the streets and walked over to this place that was oddly dark inside. It was still quite bright out and we had quit the day with plenty of daylight left to us, so the interior darkness seemed odd to me. Cool air conditioning, soft seating, and waiters were also odd things. I think we all felt like kings after foraging for peanut butter sandwiches and begging for water for several days!

Well, although we ate huge platters of wonderful Mexican grub, we were still not quite satisfied. Yes- we only rode 76 miles this day, but we worked harder for that 76- the last 40 plus in the crazy wind- than we had for anything else during the whole tour so far. Our bodies were blowing through calories at an alarming rate. So, it really isn't any wonder then that as we left Casa Del Rey we were looking for something else, and that something else was Dairy Queen!

Now the DQ in Rapid City is on a main stretch of highway going through town. There was lots of afternoon traffic here, most of which was peppered with Sturgis motorcycle goers. The DQ was hopping, and we were obliged to fall in a waiting line that was outside the front doors. As we stood there, Troy lit up all of a sudden, "Oh my God! Did you see THAT! Did you f#@king see THAT!" Well, we had to calm him down a bit, but he saw a Harley go by with two riders, a man and a woman. The woman was wearing a halter top and chaps. Period. Yes.......that was bare for the world to see. I told Troy that Sturgis was sort of a wild affair, but he still couldn't get over the woman's choice of dress.

Then Ryan pipes up with one of his Ren and Stimpy bits. Troy asked me what I was getting, and when I turned behind me to ask Ryan, he says in Ren's voice: "Ice cream.........SANDWICH! I love your oh so creamy center!" As he finishes the statement, a girl right behind him jumps back and looks at me saying, "Is he all right?"

Laughter all around while the confused girl just gets disgusted with us clowns and turns around. At any rate, I got the best tasting Blizzard I ever had that evening. I was satisfied.

Back at the room, we watched kick boxing for an hour or so before turning out the lights. What an incredible day! One I won't forget for a lifetime, that's for sure!

Next Week: "The Race Against Death Tour" Hits the Black Hills, Troy makes an announcement, and an old memory is rekindled.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Vegas, Dust, Wind, And Bikes


Okay, what is it about people on flights to Vegas? It's like they check out a license to dress and act foolishly. Criminy! What makes people think they look good in those goofy get ups anyway? Vegas disease, I guess.

So, I get here at 2am Mid-West time, then Grannygear and I have to find our room at Circus Circus. Funny. They should name the whole of the strip Circus Circus. It's definitely 3 ring madness!

Woke up to an air temperature about the feeling of the output of a hair dryer. Windy too. Good for dehydration for sure. So we stocked up on water and hit the demo.

Dusty, rocky terrain with your tires making the constant sound as if you were on gravel. Yeah, gravel. I can ride that in Iowa! We just don't have dusty, gravely mountains. Oh well!

So, we found free beer, free shots of whiskey, and the Chris King after show bar-be-que. All good stuff, but not all that many people this year and less vendors. Not much for schwag either. We got a schwag bag that was as big as a grocery bag with three flyers and one energy bar in it. Wow! Things have been cut back big time!

Okay, that's it for now. Stay tuned for more later, when I can get to it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo: Update!

Raffle News!! I just learned today that the online store Price Point is going to kick down an 18" Sette Razzo 29"er frame for our raffle to be held at High Noon on Sunday October 11th. (Must be present to win- no purchase necessary)

Pretty cool! The Razzo is a geared, aluminum hard tail that is ball burnished and is getting nice reviews from owners on mtbr.com.

In other news, we have a new schedule update that includes our list of food vendors. Remember! We have food vendors, but Saturday night yer on your own, so bring plenty to eat. Also, bring drinks as we will have water and some soda for sale, but beer, wine, coffee, and the like is on you.

See the Local Info Page for new updates on what to expect for camping at the Ballyhoo and where to stay if you are not into the camping gig so much.

I'm off to Interbike, so look for sparse updatage until I get back.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday News And Views

<===Velocity U.S.A. just picked themselves up a quality worker.

Just got word that my former co-worker A-Lo was hired on as a wheel builder at Velocity U.S.A. Nice! They got themselves a quality dude right there.

Congrats A-Lo! Build 'em true!

<===Proof that drops were meant to be ridden......in the drops!!

Take a look at this replica TDF racer made to look like a 20's era road machine. Notice anything weird? Hmm.......let's take a look. Flared drops- check! Brake levers set low so you can reach 'em from the drops- check! Bar wrap only on the drops- Check! And no way would you ride on the hoods because, well..........there aren't any!

See, back then roads were rougher, gravel, and dirt. You were better off holding on the drops, since that is what they were made for. Positioning was such that you could sit there in the drops all day........comfortably!

Some modern companies say, "Our entry level road bikes have the same geometry as our top of the line rigs!" Like that is something good. Uhh......last time I checked the average cyclist had a body geometry totally unlike the Pro cyclists. So what makes ya'all think that entry level road riders should have Pro geometry? Stupid, I tell ya. Just plain dumb.

Might as well saw off the drops on 99.5% of all recreational road bikes as the position is ridiculous for most riders. Even if they could ride there, it wouldn't be for long, and it would hurt. Badly. C'mon bike companies. Get the designs right, like they did back in the 20's, when you could use the drops easily, and it made rougher road riding fun, instead of painful. And heck, folks could use all of their handle bar, instead of about ten percent of it.

<===New, ginormous, and rumored to be coming here!

Out in Colorado lives this dude that spends a lot of time inventing stuff. He would call it "thinkering". Okay- whatever. I just say the guy is a genius of mountain biking innovation, although he would quickly dismiss this statement. At any rate, he has the good fortune of being able to pull the right strings, push the right buttons, and grease the right wheels to have things done. Needless to say, some pretty cool stuff is showing up out in his neck of the woods.

One of those things is this new meaty tire called the WTB Dissent. It is a 2 ply, 2.5 inch wide, burly knobbed tire meant for abuse and down hill chunk riding. Check out the knobs on that casing! Huge? Yes!

So, it would seem that the kindly "thinkerer" out in Colorado has seen fit to get me one of these to check out. I am to pick it up at I-Bike soon. Hopefully it all pans out since this will be the biggest 29"er tire to date, not to mention the toughest and knobbliest. We'll see if it clears my fork brace, 'cause if it doesn't, I'll be shopping for some new parts!

Speaking of Interbike, I am busy getting ready to go on Sunday. It's a short hit it fast and back sort of affair this year. I'll be back in town late Thursday and disseminating all the info I can get my grubby hands on. Till then, posts will be sparse. Hold on. It;ll be worth the interruption.

Ride those bikes and turn off the 'puters! See ya soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Near Perfect Day

<===Carnegie's Bar: It just fits!!
Got out and rode the North Side of The Camp yesterday on my Big Mama fitted with the new Carnegie's Bar. I really try not to get too emotional, or wrapped up in the "new bike part" psychology, but I can't help but admit that my Big Mama is much better now with this bar. It just flat out rocked in that I had more control, even when I got loose, than I had with the standard riser that was on it before.
Okay, I admit it. I am an "alt bar" freakazoid. Okay. I said it. I really like odd ball bars. Sometimes they are just okay, and I put up with that because, well, I am like that sometimes. (The hideous Titec H-Bar comes to mind) But it wasn't 30 yards into the first down hill section at The Camp and I could feel it. This bar was giving me feedback that said, go faster! So, I did, until I smacked my left hand on a tree going Mach 4 and was so loose in some of the sandy corners I was looking like a flat tracker going 120 into a turn. Sawing away at the bar to keep my balance and never touching the brakes. Hoo ha! That was a fun time!
So fun that I did as many techy downhills as I could, but that wasn't all. I was actually digging the climbs as well. I was really afraid that the Carnegie's Bar was going to upset my climbing, being that it effectively shortened my stem by about 20mms. That never happened though, and if anything, the climbing was unaffected by the change. Cool!
I'm going to have some fun with this handle bar. Funny how one small change can transform a rig. Not that it was bad before. It is just much better now! Potter's Pasture should be a hoot with this thing on. I can't wait! But I am going to wait on my first impressions for this bar. I might just be too giddy right now!
<===The errand machine for the day. The Raleigh Rainier.
So I didn't over do the off road thing because, well......I have a mild cold, I haven't gotten to bed at a decent hour since Park City, and I just needed to be careful. So I headed home, got cleaned up, and went to the big grocery store where my bank has an outlet to do sum bidness!
After I walked out to unlock my bike, I was standing there and looking at an old Motobecane that was hooked to a child trailer. Upturned drops, seat slammed. Guaranteed short person on a big bike here. Hmm......pretty clean looking for a 70's rig. Just then the owner came out, and I was just floored.
Here was a guy, older than I by probably 15 to 20 years, impossibly skinny, but decked out in a really cool set of duds. The clothing is what really made me smile. Okay, so here's a bit of back round.......
The cycling industry is desperately trying to "un-nerdify" cycling to the common man. John Q Public thinks "real" cyclists are dorks. (C'mon! Admit it's true! You know it is.) So John Q Public wouldn't be caught dead in Lycra, helmets, cycling shoes, etc. Okay, are ya with me?
So, the industry is developing this new cycling fashion that looks pedestrian, but is actually high tech. Trouble is, it has a high tech price to go along with it. Ever see those manpris that look like Dickie's, but are really some other stuff made by an "in" cycling company? Yeah, we're talking as much money to buy that as you can five pairs of Dickie's. Get the picture?
Well, this guy probably could have gotten everything he had on at Goodwill for less than $20.00. Everything he had on. And he looked the epitome of what the cycling industry is straining to achieve. He had on khaki shorts, a blue pin striped cotton collared shirt, (Neatly tucked in, I might add, with rolled up long sleeves.), a corduroy vest, and a bow tie! But the topper was his clog-like shoes which he was riding toe clips with. Oh! He did have a helmet on. This guy looked cool, but he didn't have to spend a bunch of cash with some "uber-cool" urban cycling clothier that was using the latest tech fabrics. So what if he sweats. I mean, people sweat. Get over it America!
I thought it was cool. And the trailer? Yeah, he had his whole shopping cart dealio folded up and set into the cheapo kids trailer, lashed down, and he was outta there in minutes. Nice! Take that you urban fashionistas!
Anyway, I just don't get the cycling industry. They have the right idea, and then price it out to where the average guy just laughs when he hears the prices. It is stupid, really. If you want the "average" Joe to get into utility cycling, it has to be gotten down to a "utility" price level. Ya know? Like Dickie's. That company "gets it". Work pants for $15.00? I'm in. Cycling pants that look like Dickie's for $80.00 to $100.00? What? Yer outta yer mind!
Anyway........I ran my errands on a beautiful day. What a great day to be alive! That's what it is all about. Ride yer bike. Have fun. Smile.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bar Time

<====Named after a real bar in Taiwan

While I was gone I got a special delivery. A brand new bar from Ragley called the Carnegie's Bar. It'll all make sense here in a minute, just hold on....

You've heard of On One, that U.K. brand that did the Inbred steel 29"er, Carbon Superlight fork, and all those nutty handle bars with weird names like Midge, Mary, and so forth. Well, the mad scientist behind all of that is a guy by the name of Brant Richards. Brant likes sheds, or so it would seem, and I guess he got tired of doing On One stuff and started out on his own with a design company called Shed Fire.

<===Nearly 28 inches wide, and a healthy sweep to boot.

Pertinent info follows: (From Brant hisself)
Width is 685mm tip to tip, but puts your hands effectively in the same
position as my old 700mm wide bar. Geometry is 25deg sweep with a 33mm forward
wiggle to keep the controls in the right sort of place. It nominally has a 38mm
rise, though this is lessened a bit when you angle the bar back and down for

<====On the Big Mama

First impressions: 310 grams is a decent weight for a bar you can hammer on. Very comfy bend. A bit less than a FuBar, but otherwise these two bars are very similar in layout. I like the 31.8mm clamp for something like this because with as much back sweep as these types of bars have, you need a great grip on that bar with the stem. Bigger clamp diameter equals more clamping surface area which gives me peace of mind. Plus Brant tests the livin' daylights out of his stuff, so I don't have to worry. Good deal.

More later on this, but for now, that'll have to do. I have Interbike looming in the headlights right now, and plans are flyin' in between work, playing in the band, and writing. Lots going on here!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour: Beginning Of The End- Part IV

The "Race Against Death Tour" is looking for water...again!

Now with about 20 miles to go to Rapid City, we had to find some water. Troy had motioned that we should stop at the next likely farm house. It wasn't very much further up the road when we came across a farm hard against the side of a steep hill at a point where the road turned straight west to Rapid City. The wind had let up somewhat, but was still a formidable force and after our hard efforts, we were not at our strongest at this point. The wind also had contributed to a much higher than expected water uptake by all of us, so we were again in a desperate state of mind as we knocked on the screen door.

A shadowy figure of a woman answered, but did not come out. She spoke to us from the relative safety she had behind the door. After explaining our situation, she was willing to help, but we couldn't come in, and we had to hand up our bottles through the door. It didn't really matter to us, because we were focused on the water only. However; we did manage to ask about the wind. The woman said it came at odd times, sometimes lasting only a few hours, sometimes for a whole day. Well, we got a closer to a full days helping, and we were not thinking it was good luck either!

As we bade the woman farewell, we took the last run into Rapid City, which seemed as though it was going to take forever. Well, I suppose we were going pretty slowly, even though the wind became less and less until just before town, it was fairly calm. No matter, the damage had been done already, and we limped into a road side convenience/tourist trap late in the afternoon about ten miles from Rapid City. Here we saw a couple of motorcyclists playing pool on the pool table as we rummaged about for good stuff to eat and for anything suitable to rehydrate with. Not really wanting to move on, we mounted up and made the last stretch into Rapid City, where it was agreed upon that we would get a hotel room for the night. We were beat, and setting up camp was quite out of the question.

Rapid City brought a slight uptick in our spirits and our tempo. A "real" city, and something we hadn't seen since Sioux City, was a welcomed thing. I saw the race track on the edge of town and thought back to the "V.I.P" I spoke with back at Witten. "200 miles to the race track at Rapid City", I could clearly hear the words being spoken in my head by the man. I smiled as I remembered and the race track disappeared behind me. We forged into the heart of downtown and found a Holiday Inn. Looked good to us, so we checked in and got cleaned up.

Next week: The Rapid City Scene!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gary Fisher Bikes Press Camp Report

<===The Goldener Hirsh Inn: Spendy digs where Fisher shacked me up.

Well, I was certainly blessed over the past few days to be able to participate in the Fisher Bikes Press Camp. Held in the very beautiful Park City area of Utah, this camp was set up to let us media wonks know what was up on all the new FS 29"er stuff coming out for 2010.

I flew out of Cedar Rapids early Thursday and got out to Park City without much drama. After getting the "tour" of my room (s) from the staff at the Goldener, (yes.....an actual tour of my room , bathroom, and its features!) , I headed out to the reception at the outdoor deck of the Silver Lake Inn. First, I met the demo truck driver, Josh, who is Trek/Fisher Western states driver. Very cool dude and of course, very helpful. (Not as cool as "Paw Paw", but who could be that cool!)

<===Rich and famous people live up here. Yes, television and movie star types!

So, with the night's festivities wrapped up, I hit the hay and awoke the next morning for the provided for breakfast. After eating and meeting my fellow media cohorts, we were escorted to an upper room of the Silver Lake Inn for the morning's presentation. In attendance were some Fisher/Trek product engineers, marketing Brand manager, Travis Ott, Fisher Subaru Team members Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, his wife, Heather Irminger, R&D honch/MTB Hall of Famer Travis Brown, and the man hisself- Gary Fisher. All were part of an excellent and informative morning of information gathering and story telling.

<====A totally drool worthy Superfly Single Speed.

Some pretty cool bikes were on display up here as well. I got to see the National Championship rigs of Heather Irminger and JHK, the new Hi Fi line up, and a super cool single speed Superfly.

Oh yeah, and Jesse LaLonde was also in attendance rockin' a rigid Superfly SS out with us during the afternoon trail riding session. That guy is amazing. But even he, and all the athletes there, were totally cool and approachable. It was a pleasure to talk to each and every one of them.

<===From left to right: Fisher Brand Manager, Travis Ott, JHK, Travis Brown, (seated) and Heather Irminger.

The first bike we rode was the Superfly 100. Awesome rig, and JHK says it will likely be replacing his hard tail for most events. That coming from an elite racer that loves hard tails....whoa! Anyway, I wasn't even in the same league as most of these folks or even the editors there, as I was sucking air for all it was worth, and dragging up the rear of the field. Oh well, its all good! Hey, a flat lander goes to 8100ft, and then up from there. Yeah.........not a surprising result! Anyway, I suffered like a dog, but had a blast doing it.

<==Room key or medieval weapon?

The end of the first day included an excellent trip to Park City proper for a dinner at the Wasatch Pub and Brewery Company. (Sorry folks! Only 3.2% beer here in Yoo-taw!) I had a great meal, and then we went back to sleep off the days effort.

Next morning brought another sweet breakfast spread. Then it was Rumblefish time, and I got to suffer the climbs in the thin mountain air once more. The Rumblefish was fun, and the Park City trails were awesome. Views? Are you kidding me? I got into a high alpine meadow that just blew me away with its beauty. Aspens groves, high mountain views, and old mining operations. Cool stuff for sure!

Then the afternoon approached and it was time to bug out of the SLC. I got into Chicago to make my connection back to Cedar Rapids when the weirdness set in. First, the airplane we were to take off in was nixed at the last minute due to a minor mechanical. We had to go to another jetway and wait for the ground crew to transfer the baggage and log books. An hour later we were ready to take off. After leaving O'Hare I thought we weren't gaining much altitude, and then the captain comes on the intercom with the following:

"This is your Captain speaking. Bad news folks. Our landing gear won't retract and we'll be returning to Chicago to land...."

Ummm.........okay....I guess. Well, I didn't freak too badly, but some folks were getting a bit unsettled. Anyway, the anxiety ratcheted up a few notches when we came back in sight of O'Hare and saw the runway lined with the flashing lights of emergency vehicles for the entire length of the air strip. Well, the landing went off without a hitch, thankfully.

But then we couldn't de-plane. The ground crews had all gone home, and no one was immediately available to drive the jetway. We had to wait for a guy from the maintenance garage to come out and get us set to get outta that tin tube!

Well, we were told after getting off that plane that we were going back to the original plane! It had been repaired, and in 45 more minutes we were to take off. That would be about 12:45 am. The plane was originally to have taken off at 9:40pm. Yeah......it was getting to be a long night! Anyway, the Captain was humorous, gracious, and very kind when he personally addressed the cabin after we got in the plane by explaining the entire situation to us. After that, everything was routine. I ended up getting home right at 3:00am Sunday morning.

So that was the big trip. All in all a very fun, informative, and exciting time. (I could have done with a little different excitement there at the end though!)

Next Sunday, I get to fly out to Vegas and do it all over again at Bootleg Canyon. Crazy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Gravel Grinder In Indiana: The Gravel Grovel

Back in 2004 when Jeff Kerkove and I decided to do this crazy gravel event called Trans Iowa there weren't any gravel events longer than 40 miles that we knew of and then that was only one event. Well, since then the "gravel culture" has exploded across the Mid-West and I ain't sayin' Jeff and I had anything to do with that, but if you look at a lot of these events' rules, they are strangely familiar to the ones laid out originally on the T.I. site by Jeff, and added to over the years by myself.

I'm not snivelin', just sayin'.

I think it is pretty cool, actually. Let the people have fun on their bikes, ya know? So with that in mind, I want to introduce ya'all to the latest show down I am aware of over yonder in Indiana called the Gravel Grovel. This one happens right after Turkey Day and will encompass a bit more than 60 odd miles of what looks to me to be very hilly terrain. I have been in southern Indiana long ago, and I can vouch for the hills. They are big and many! Check out the local mtb outfit there, the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association and a little suaree' they are throwin' down called the "Brown County Breakdown", a mtb festival that shows off the trails there. Notice the steep hills? Yeah, the Gravel Grovel is going to hurt you if you go. But that hurt is oh so good, right?

If the Brown County thing lights yer fire, you can check out more photos and videos of trail here.
Looks pretty good to me. Ya know, there are a lot of really awesome trails in places you might not think of. I find that out everyday. too many trails! Too little time!

But back to the gravel thing a moment............

The good folks behind the Good Life Gravel Adventure over in Lincoln are going to do a "Gravel Worlds" next year. That's right! An actual World Champeen-ship ya'all! Stay tuned for details, but T.I., DK 200 folk, and the GLGA are all conspiring to make this a go to gravel grindin' freak show.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bike Shop Horrors: Axle Grind!

<===Axle grindage! (Look next to the cone to see how much is missing!)

Sometimes it amazes me how far people will ride something before the little voice in the back of their head that is saying, "Hey! Something is not right here!", is heard over the din of the mental storm of life in their noggins.

This guy didn't here that voice for awhile, it would appear.

<===Friction? What friction?

Yeah, well the bearing was obviously the first thing to go. There wasn't a trace of the ball bearings on one side to be found. Even all the grease had been melted out of the hub due to the excessive friction and resulting heat.

Amazingly, the steel hub shell was relatively unscathed.

I was able to get the wheel back together with a new axle, bearings, cones, and fresh grease.

Mission accomplished.

Now go ride yer bikes folks, and check those hub bearings once in awhile!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fisher Press Camp

I am off today to fly to Park City, Utah to join in Fisher Bike's Media Camp for the 29"er line up for 2010.
I am to arrive out there this afternoon and on Friday I will be riding the new 2010 29"ers including the Rumblefish, pictured here.
I have never been to Utah and it will be cool to check out, however briefly, the awesome terrain around Park City.
I will be back really late Saturday, but in the meantime I will have some stuff posted up here and on the Press Camp specifically on Twenty Nine Inches. Look for a full report on all the travels here next week.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Different Kind Of Winner

<===My son's first trophy
On Labor Day in a little Iowa town called Iowa Falls, there is a car show. My folks live just west of there, so we like to go over, and check out all the iron.
Well, my son is six now and getting to be big enough to know what a "Chevy" is and what a "Ford" is. So it was fun showing him what they were in the past, along with some brand names he hadn't heard of that are no longer being made.
Like Studebaker, and Oldsmobile, and Pontiac! (Weird to see some of those names on that list, eh?)
Anyway, after getting a refreshment in a local coffee shop, My son and I walked outside where the owners of the cars parked along the street were sitting up against the buildings and under the canopy to stay out of the sun. One of them had a big trophy, and my son started up a conversation with him about it, and the car that won him the trophy, a '62 Chevy.
My son pointed to the top of the trophy and said, "That's a cool car. I wish I had one like that!"
A man nearby said, "Here ya go! Take this!", as he handed my son a shiny golden plastic car.
"Cool!, Thank you!", my son says.
As we walk away, the man that gave him the plastic car says, "Well, ya might as well have the rest of it! Here...", and shoves his trophy, the trophy you see pictured here, into my astonished boy's hands. Many "thank yous", laughter from the elders, and smiles all around as my son hoisted the trophy over his head and says, "This is awesome!"
I think the old guy that gave away his trophy got more out of that than he would have if he had taken the thing home and shoved it into a corner of his shelf to gather dust with his other trophies. I know my son will never forget it.
The trophy says "3rd Place" on it. I think everyone felt like "first placers" on the street that Monday afternoon.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Touring Tuesdays: The Race Against Death Tour: Beginning Of The End- Part III

We rejoin the story as the three touring cyclists are devising a plan for what to do about the massive wind....

Stopped alongside the road, with the roaring wind in our ears, we tried to come up with ideas for what to do to carry on. Running nose to tail wasn't giving any relief. The wind was so strong, there was no draft. Besides, we were afraid we would take each other out working so hard so close together. The wind couldn't last like this, or could it? There was some debate upon this point, but Troy was of a mind that any dilly-dallying would cause unnecessary delay. Finally, we decided to roll out, facing the wind mano-a-mano with what energy we could muster.

It was simply brutal. We could only manage approximately two miles at a crack before we would pull over exhausted. After resting for five to ten minutes, we would get back to it. Heads down, roaring wind all around, weaving due to the low speeds and in our lowest gears. It was borderline impossible to move forward and mentally draining.

At one point the road turned 90 degrees to cross a small river. The landscape was such that it funneled the wind down the steeply cut banks and around the steep, grassy hills rising above on either side. The wind actually intensified here. We were getting the blast from our right sides in this half mile stretch. I wobbled, got the bike steadied, wobbled, steadied.......finally I found a balancing point. The ground looked strange. I looked up and ahead for the first time after entering the crosswind. I laughed out loud at what I was seeing.

Ryan was up ahead about 50 yards. He was riding along steadily, at a 45 degree angle to the road leaning into the wind! My bags were close to grazing the pavement on the right side, and it seemed as if we were "surfing" or "flying" our bicycles rather than riding them. I felt that if the wind were to gust slightly higher, it would topple us over to the left and right into oncoming traffic. I figured we wouldn't hit the road, but the opposite ditch, if we didn't get struck by an oncoming car or truck.

Finally we turned back into the wind, and getting out of the river valley lessened the winds intensity. This was far better than the crosswind! We stopped, amazed at what we had just experienced, sheltering in some boulders next to the roadway. Troy took the opportunity to relax and stretched out on his back on the ground. Not long afterward, a motorcyclist pulled up and stopped. He wanted to know if we were okay, and then before we could answer him he cut himself short and said, "Oh, you guys are on bicycles! I thought a motorcycle went down." He bade us farewell and motored off.

So, since we weren't "motorcyclists" we were okay to have trouble and injury? We were a bit miffed about that, but also amused. I mean, how else could you react on a day like this? After a laugh and a decision to try to lengthen out each riding section to four miles, we were off.

I am not sure exactly where it was, but somewhere in the next stretch I had that moment. A pivotal moment in ones life. It just happened to be while riding a bicycle. I think riding a bicycle helped me get to this point, no doubt, but the moment was far bigger and more meaningful than a bicycle ride. I found out a lot about Life, me, and my future in about ten minutes time.

Ryan and Troy had found a rhythm, the wind had lessened a bit, and hills had kicked in that left me dangling way off the back. I finally couldn't even see them up ahead. As I became desperate, I cursed, and I yelled, and yes, I cried. I was having a fit in the middle of no where. Then I finally had what a friend of mine used to call "a come to Jesus meeting". Well, I had that meeting right there on my bike.

I suppose the epic, insane, over the top experiences I was having during this day helped. I suppose the situation my life was in was a contributing factor. I don't know if it makes any sense to anyone else out there, but for me, I finally figured out that I wasn't in charge of my life, God was. Well, all I knew at the time was that a big part of my frustration with life in general was gone that very moment. I was at peace with things by the time I noticed that up ahead, Troy and Ryan had stopped to wait for me.

After a bit of a rest, we soldiered on, but the efforts of the afternoon had started to take a toll. First thing was that we were dangerously low on water, and we had a long way to go to get to a resupply. We decided to stop at the first farm house we could find.

Next Week: Begging for water again............

Monday, September 07, 2009

Big Wheeled Ballyhoo 2009: Update

More News On The Bigwheeled Ballyhoo October 10th-11th:

The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo has a couple of newsy bits so here goes- Sponsorship of the breakfast on Saturday morning is coming from Giant Bikes and Cycle Works, Lincoln Nebraska. Thanks to these fine cycling companies for puttin' up the moolah for some killer grub that we will all need for riding the challenging Potter's Pasture trails.

Secondly, we have learned that a local winery, 5 Trails Winery, to be exact, is going to provide some wine sales and some pizza sales on site during Saturday evening.

This will be in addition to the potluck/BBQ opportunity that evening. (Bring yer own grub for this)

Also, Cycle Sport Bicycle Shop in North Platte is sponsoring the Porta Potties this time around, so thanks!

A Note About Potter's Pasture Camping: This is going to be a "back country" experience folks. No showers, no convenience stores, not much water. (There will be some available) We pack it in, we pack it out. If you can swing hanging out without every modern convenience, then this is for you.

And don't forget! RSVP now and be automatically entered to win this pair of killer, retro, very limited production Oakley Frogskins.

You'll have to be there to win, and you'll have to RSVP through the link above before October 8th, 2009. (No purchase necessary)

Okay, we're still working on some stuff, and the guys at Potter's are still grooming trails and getting it ready for us. Stay tuned for more updates soon.....

Saturday, September 05, 2009

An End And A Beginning

<===This spider was like a glowing golden orb in the middle of the trail.

Labor Day Weekend. Pretty much the "official" end of summer bash/celebration/holiday for us here in the U.S. It marks the entrance into Fall, cooler temps, less sunlight, and wool jerseys.

Kind of an end and a beginning.

XC/endurance racing, criteriums and time trials come to an end, but cyclo-cross begins.

Long, blazing hot summer rides are gone, but the crispy, crunchy fall riding is just around the corner.

The summer doldrums here at Guitar Ted Productions are over as the fall trade show season kicks into high gear.

<===The Badger Dorothy at the North side of The Camp last Wednesday. There were some muddy spots!

So this weekend is sort of that line, that marker we use to move from one thing to the other, although really- change is happening all the time.

Well, enough of that. I will be trying to get in a ride here and there this weekend between watching the kids, and then on Monday going over to visit some family.

<===It was just a short ride, but a good one...

I think I have fully recovered from the Good Life Gravel Adventure. Well, I should say that whole weekend, really. The ride at Potter's was nothing to sneeze at, and all that travel wears on ya.

We'll see. I plan on getting a bit longer ride in today to measure how things are coming along.

Oh yeah, and I need to mow the lawn!!

<===The results of being on a "cob web ride".

So, I hope you all have a great Labor Day Weekend. I hope you all have some great bicycling plans ahead. Fall is an awesome time to ride in the woods around here. I can't wait!

I'll also be doing a lot of traveling in the next month and a half. I won't have time to let the dust settle until mid-October.

Should be a crazy time.

<===Another 36"er is born.

Down under in Austrailia another 36"er is stalking the streets. This one from Kaos Custom Bikes. It is fashioned from titanium, set up with XO components, and tubeless wheels. Pretty trick set up for a 36"er!

The bent seat tube is pretty cool. I bet that wasn't easy to get right.

Okay, now get out and ride your bike!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Oakley Jawbone Review

I recently was afforded the opportunity to try out some new Oakley eyewear. The model I received was the Jawbone with the HD Polarized lenses. Before I launch into all the technology and my thoughts on using these shades, let me give you a bit of back round on my past experiences with Oakley eyewear that I think will be relevant here.

<==The Jawbones with HD Polarized lenses

Long ago, when I first became aware of Oakley eyewear, I was just starting out as a mountain biker. I had been wearing some eye protection that was cheap and barely getting me by. A friend at the time had some Oakley Mumbo shades and let me try them on. Whoa! What a difference! I wanted to know more and find out how much they were. Well, when I heard the price, I about fainted. No way was I about to spend that much on a pair of shades. But my friend said that they would be worth it, that I should think it over and give them a try. Besides, seeing well is worth the price. So, I gave it some time, ended up buying the Mumbos, and a whole lot more Oakley product afterward.

My friend was right. The Oakley Mumbos were awesome. But over time that model was phased out and some of the following models were, uh......less than good looking, shall we say? At least on my mug, at any rate. So, I went with another brand for awhile, and they were passable. Now with the Jawbones and the style that they have which is more suitable to my tastes and looks good on me, I am reminded why it was I popped for the purchase of those Mumbos years ago. These shades are fantastic!

Oakley hasn't rested on their laurels over the years either. Here's a rundown of the improvements the Jawbones have over my old Oakleys:

  • Bonded at the molecular level, Oakley doesn't have to "sandwich" in their polarization in between layers of lens material. The one piece lens gets better clarity, and the polarization can not be rubbed off or worn off. Better technology equals clearer and longer lasting performance.

  • Every Oakley polarized lens achieves 99% efficiency in blocking polarized light waves. this cuts way down on glare and sharpens your view on the world.
    Jawbone has interchangeable lenses with three optional lens shapes and a wide variety of colors.

  • Switchlock Technology: Instead of "popping" out lenses the old way, the Jawbone has a pivoting nose piece that unlocks the lower frame around the lens. This pivots downward to allow you to simply drop out the lens for an easy and no mess swap. Nice! Not only that, but the lens is easily secured back into place without stressing the lens or your nerves.

  • Lens Suspension System: The way the Switchlock works allowed Oakley to let the lens "virtually float in the orbital space". This does not cause tension on the lens like the old way of securing lenses did, which caused more distortion in the lens itself. Jawbone is free of such problems because of the new technology holding the lens in place.

  • Hydrophobic Technology: Okay, this is pretty cool. The lenses in the Jawbone resists water, sweat, and smudging. Water peels right off, leaving no trace. Sweat? No sweat!. Skin oils, residues, and lotions are easily wiped away, making your job of seeing easier. They are even anti-static, which helps repel dust.

  • High Definition Optics: The way the lenses are made allows for crystal clear undistorted vision at all angles and to the edges of the lens. Peripheral vision is enhanced, and sun protection is maximised. The lenses surpass ANSI Z87.1 standards for clarity, refraction, and prism. The lenses also block 100% UVA, UVB, and UVC rays.

Whew! That's a load of technology. But does any of it make any difference? Well, to test out the Jawbone eyewear, I took them on a brutal first ride. I was entered into the Good Life Gravel Adventure in Lincoln, Nebraska which featured 140 miles of dusty, hilly gravel and dirt roads being baked by blinding sunshine all day. After wearing the Jawbone for ten hours in these conditions, here are my thoughts:

<==Jawbone with Persimmon lenses

Comfort: Look, it doesn't matter what the technology is if you can't stand wearing the shades. Oakley has a "Three Point" contact system that is so comfortable, the glasses nearly were invisible in terms of contact. The ear pieces are usually a concern when wearing a helmet for me with other shades. I can get a soreness above my ears, which is bothersome, but not with the Jawbone. No issues at all. High marks here for comfort from me. Nearly 100% perfect in that way.

Lens Clarity/Vision: As expected, the Oakley Jawbone didn't disappoint here. The High Definition Optics really do work too. My peripheral vision was clear as a bell, vison straight ahead was crystal clear, and the polarization made finding the right line in the gravel a breeze. I took the glasses off for a moment out on course and was amazed at how much glare there was in the bright sunlight. The lenses really operated as advertised in this way.

Hydrophobic Technology: In an amazing display of technological advancement, my sweat was not able to streak, smear, or even stay on the lenses. And let me tell you, I sweat a lot that day! This was easily the most cool thing about the Jawbone in my mind. Nothing like having the distraction of a sweat streak that impedes your vision on a fast descent. Or having to stop to clean it off when you have a good groove going on. (Or having to take off the eyewear because you can't even see through the lenses anymore: The worst!) This and the fact that dust from the gravel couldn't find a hold on the lenses either was a huge plus for me as far as my performance on the course that day was concerned.

Switchlock: This is really cool! I hated changing lenses in older Oakley models and on anything that had the stressed, interference fit lenses. I always had to spend twice as much time cleaning up my finger prints afterwards than it took for me to swap out lenses. Plus, I always cringed at the thought that I might break the dang things. Nothing of the sort now with the Switchlock system. Swapping lenses is a no stress, no smudge affair. Easy-peasy! The fact that my lenses are not being distorted by a stressed fit is gravy.

Conclusions: At around $200.00, give or take depending upon the model, MSRP, the Jawbone is a heady investment in a pair of "sunglasses". But really, to refer to these as "sunglasses" is a disservice. This technical eyewear blows most sunglasses out of the water in terms of....well, almost everything! The optics are top notch, and the performance enhancements like the Hydrophobic lenses, the Switchlock, and the High Definition Optics are a boon to performance minded mountain and road cyclists alike. You can spend less, but you will also get less performance. The only nit I had with the Jawbone was that I could barely make out the edge of each lenses outer frame in my peripheral vision, but in my type of riding, this wasn't a huge issue. Road cyclists that are used to checking over their shoulders for other cyclists or traffic may want to be aware of this. Oakley has other models that don't have full frames for those this is an issue with as well.

Overall I give the Oakley Jawbone eyewear my recommendo for anyone who wants the best performance in a cycling friendly eye protection system that is at once stylish, high tech, and comfortable to use.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

More Weekend Report

<===MG lookin' over the terrain at Potter's Pasture.

The Good Life Gravel Adventure was over, but my day was not. After hanging out at D Street for a couple of hours, MG showed up, we loaded up my car, and we headed out westward toward Brady, Nebraska. (A three hour tour!) I didn't drive very far when the tireds hit again. Even though Cornbread sent along an entire flat of Red Bull Cola, there wasn't anything that was going to stop my mind from randomly shutting down at different times during the trip.

MG took over the driving duties then, and he did a wonderful job too. (Thanks Bro!!) We got out there after trying to get gas at one point and finding out almost every gas station on the interstate closes at ten pm now. Crazy!

I suppose it was my lack of sleep combined with the Red Bull Cola that started the hallucinations, but every so often, I would snap into a completely clear vision of myself riding down a gravel road on my bicycle, then snap! Back to seeing lights on the interstate. All the while MG's i-Pod is blasting these cool tunes which I can totally recall every moment of. It was like a weird sound track to a psychedelic dream.

<===Taking a short breather at the end of a long climb to the top of a ridge.

When we arrived at Potter's Pasture, we found a simple barbed wire gate with two glow sticks attached to it. Yup, this was a sign for us. We went through the gate and found a fire lit with two fellows beside it. Kyle and Chad greeted us and chatted us up a bit. We then found out we had a fifth wheeled trailer to sleep in. I took the upper bed, and MG was on a lower bed. Paul, whom we hadn't met yet, and owned the trailer was already in the sack with his two toy poodles. I was out within seconds, and apparently snoring loudly. MG, well he doesn't cotton to us snorin' folk too well! So he bailed on the trailer and cashed out on a nearby picnic table top.

<===A view of Nebraska's "Big Country" from atop the ridge.

The next morning, Chad and Kyle were startled to find a bundle on top of the picnic table with MG ensconced like a caterpillar in a cocoon inside. I heard the conversation after he arose, and I felt something warm behind my left knee. Then I lifted my head and heard a tiny yelp and felt the pitter patter of little feet over my back. It seems the dogs took to me like a kid to candy. They wouldn't let me be, and seemed rather put out when I tried to shoo them away so I could dismount from the upper bed. Oh well!

<===Our abode for the night and our hosts preparing breakfast.

Chad and Kyle had a big cast iron pan and were frying bacon over the open flame. Then some hash browns and scrambled eggs were added in. Yum! Good ballast for the belly after a long hard nights sleep!

After breakfast a couple more fellows showed up and we all kitted up for a ride on Potter's great trails. We were riding out of the camp and not more than 30 yards into the first climb I toppled over the edge of an exposed embankment and tumbled down with my Big Mama going cart wheeling after me. Quite a sight to start out the ride! After a good laugh, we all settled in to a great morning ride that lasted till about 11:30 am when MG and I had to skedaddle outta there to get me back to pick up my family in the Omaha area. Then I had to drive on to Waterloo, Iowa from there.

<==Like crack cocaine in a can!

Lucky for us we had a steady supply of the Red Bull Cola on board for the long drive back. I got back to D Street without an issue with great conversation and music along the way. (Thanks MG!) I got MG all downloaded at the D Street, picked up my gravel grinder, said farewell to Cornbread and all, and hit the road for Bellevue.

I got my family out on the road by 5:30pm and we made it home by 10:30pm. What a long strange trip it was, indeed! I was beat, obviously, but what a great adventure! I was glad to have it all under my belt with no real issues at all, which is pretty amazing if you think about it.

Thanks: Thanks go out to MG, a great and accommodating traveling buddy. Kyle, Chad, Paul, and the rest of the Potter's Crew. You guys are ace! Can't wait to see you in October. Thanks to Cornbread and D Street for letting my Pofahl and some other stuff rot in a corner for awhile! Oh....and thanks for that Red Bull, Cornbread. It was a lifesaver! Thanks to our close family friends in Bellevue for taking care of my family. And a special shout out to Mrs. Guitar Ted and the children for lettin' me escape and do this goofy stuff. You are loved!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Good Life Gravel Adventure: Race Report

First off, I do not have a single image to share regarding the race. My point and shoot needed a recharge, and well.........as you will see, I didn't have a lot of spare time!

Friday: As I have previously stated, Friday was travel day to Lincoln. Due to my late entry and having to arrange a suitable situation for the remainder of my family, I didn't have any extra time to waste on Friday. I got off work, got my check cashed, ran home and started to load up the vehicle, and made sure everyone had what they needed for the weekend. By the time we rolled out of town for the four hour trip to Bellevue, Nebraska, it was 5:30pm. With one stop added in, we arrived around ten, and I downloaded everything and everybody, and left for D Street, Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.A., Earth.

Corey was an awesome host, waiting on the door step for me to let me in. I was served a late night snack and after a bit of a chat, I hit the bedroom where I stayed the short, short night. In fact, I didn't fall asleep until 1am, most likely, and awoke at 4:30am to get dressed,and prepare for the event. Corey cooked up some awesome waffles and eggs which were a perfect pre-race meal for me. (Thanks!)

Saturday: By now other riders started to show up to ride over from D Street. MW and Troy Krause were both there. We all mounted up, and with lights blazing we made the approximately six mile trek over to the MOPAC Trail where the GLGA was to start.

After chatting with several "gravel aficionados" in attendance, it was time to go. It was still pretty dark, so lights were in order. The event was to have a controlled roll out, but if I am not mistaken, the front end of the event was gone off the gun. This would include all the top finishers, including our own Jeremy Fry, who nailed down a third place here. (No one else from the Cedar Valley showed, as far as I know)

I was on the Pofahl, of course, geared at a 37 X 18 with 2.1 Nanoraptors, and I was going at my own pace, no matter what. That meant a lot of the race went right on by me. I am okay with that, as I am not fast, nor adept at racing these long gravel events. In fact, I don't really race. I guess I just do it for the challenge to me, regardless of whatever is going on around me.

So, by about mile ten or so, I found that a few riders had settled in to "my pace", and that always happens in these events. You end up seeing certain folks and maybe riding with them most of the time. Well, for me it was Oliver and Ben. Two guys from the Lincoln area that were rolling along and seemed amiable enough. In fact, Oliver was a previous acquaintance from T.I.V5. He was supporting the rest of the Lincoln Crew at that event. So we joined in together, chatting and yo-yoing back and forth with each other. Me being on a single speed, and these two guys on geared rigs, well......you can imagine who was dangling off the back at times!

At the first check point at Valparaiso, Ben rolled in behind Oliver and I with a flat front. Between Oliver and I we had it changed out for Ben lickety split. Once more we headed out. Ben fell off the pace shortly afterwards and I didn't see him again. His day would come to an end in Denton hours later with severe cramping issues. Still, that's a heck of a ride!

Oliver and I went onward toward Malcom and checkpoint #2. Oliver was really talking up the hot food there, so I was motivated to stick to his wheel, as I was getting hungry. Well, working as hard as I was, it isn't any wonder why I was hungry.

You see, before Valparaiso, there were about 20 miles of the toughest roads I had ridden. Branched Oak Road was killer. Dirt roads were in abundance, with hilly climbs, fast down hills, and rutted bottoms that required razor sharp handling skills. North West 40th and Ashland Road followed and gave no quarter. Then after Valparaiso, the hills kicked in again. More dirt roads, and every time I went up, I was getting more drained. Malcom and a hot meal served to recharge the batteries, if only just for a while.

The climbing was oddly satisfying though. I am not much of a climber, so when that part of the ride goes well, I am happy. And even though I was over geared on the climbs, I felt great since I didn't have to walk any of them. This is really rare for me on the single speed, especially with the gear I had going. There was one reason, well........maybe two! The first reason is that I have been riding a lot better this year, and I have had some big rides too. Fargo adventures, Rock Lake Loop, Dirty Kanza, and The GTDRI all were big reasons why I have been doing better on the ups. But the clincher for me, the kicker, if you will, was a person I noticed on a single speed a few years ago, that was on this very ride. I must give the main credit to Matt Wills.

Matt had a way back then, (and still does) of just standing and calmly cranking over the gear on the steepest climbs in a very calm, relaxed manner. I was thinking of "MW" on every climb. Envisioning his even cadence in my mind, and trying to climb in a like manner. Well, this day it worked. I was really surprised at how well I was able to carry on up the steepest grades on Branched Oak, and beyond. Soon though, the fly in my ointment would rear its ugly little head and undo me.

It happened after Denton, the third checkpoint. I was getting too tired. It wasn't cramps, it wasn't nutrition, it wasn't dehydration. It was lack of rest. I started falling asleep on my bike! My mind was starting to just randomly switch off, which was dangerous, as you might expect. I would be fighting it, but when you are that tired, it doesn't matter. Your body just shuts down. I had to dismount when I couldn't control it. That started happening about every two miles before the final checkpoint of Cortland. Oliver dropped me long before, shortly after we left Denton. I told him to go on ahead, as I knew I was fading. By the time I was two miles from Cortland, I knew I was done. My back locked up in a seizure. Yeah. I was finished.

I rolled on into Cortland, made the call to Corey to DNF, and grabbed some grub and a tall boy which I drained in the parking lot in front of all of the Catholics stopping by after church. (Pretty funny, really) Corey couldn't come out to get me, but he sent race winner Troy Krause out to do the deed. How's that for service? The race winner picking up DNF'ers? These Lincoln folks got class, no matter what else you have to say about them. Thanks Troy! Thanks Corey!

I ended up back at D Street where Steph, the only female living there, set me up with another cold beer and a nice soft chair. It was all good, as MG and I had to leave that night to check out Potter's Pasture for the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo the next day. Oh yeah, that was four hours of driving time away too! (See my post on the results of that trip here.)

All in all it turned out to be a tough, but very scenic and satisfying 106 miles of Nebraska gravel.


Thanks to Ben and Oliver for your kind accompaniment along the way. Thanks again to Troy Krause for being beyond gracious in winning by picking up a "loser" DNF'er. Thanks to Corey Godfrey and the rest of the Pirate Cycling League for a most excellent time, and especially to all the residents of D Street for the use of their space! (Lincoln Crew Rocks!) Thanks to Twin Six for the awesome duds I wore. (Deluxe jersey, wool team socks) And thanks to Oakley and super doodes Rob Versteegh and Matt Gersib for the hook up with the awesome Jawbones shades. (More on those in a separate post) Easton Wheels (XC One 29"er), and Bontrager saddles (Inform RL) and Bontrager shoes (Race Mountain). Ergon for the GP-1 Leichtbau (No hand pain! Zero- Nada!)

Check out these products. They all kept me going for ten hours with no issues on a tough Nebraska gravel course.

And next time I probably should listen to fellow Lincolnite and friend MG when he tells me I should ride a geared bike!