Monday, November 30, 2009

Three Things

Thing Number One: Turkey Burn Report: Saturday was the annual Turkey Burn ride at Camp Ingawanis. You just never know what you are going to get for weather on this ride being that it is so late in the season. A few times it has marked the last ride on dirt for the year. So, it is the kind of a ride I don't like to miss out on.

Well, my wife was on call for the weekend, but our close family friend saved the day and came to hang out with my kids for the morning allowing me to get to the Camp. While I was a bit late, at least I got there. The word was that the group would head out for a short lap and then rendezvous with me back at the lot when I arrived. Well, when I got there the place was deserted. Oh sure, the cars were there, but no sign of riders.

So I took my time setting up and when I was ready to ride, there was still no sign of them. I decided to head out on my own. I got a short lap in, came back and still no one. I headed out for another trail, and halfway up the climb, I ran into them finally. So, they were headed back to the cars for a break and I went with them.

Now the frost was super heavy and the ground was frozen hard. So much so that my tires were sliding across frost covered leaves. Bare ground was crunchy. It's always kind of neat to ride on bare frozen ground. However; I knew that once the sun got up, that would change in a hurry.

I found that out on the beginning of the second lap, (well, third time for me), and I went down in a greasy switchback. I got up to walk my bike a few feet to more level ground and my feet slipped out from underneath me and I went down hard again! The rest of that lap was spent riding alone and very gingerly! The grease, now turning to a layer of mud, was treacherous, but if you take it slow and steady, it can be accomplished without further drama. I figured I'd be the first back to the lot, (Not due to speed, but due to getting lost and truncating the loop), and as it turned out, I was last!

We had chili, hung out, talked, Redgie gave us free Cranksgiving t-shirts, (Thanks Redg!) and we had a great time. Thanks to Captain Bob and MTBidwell for the efforts. Oh yeah, and MoJoe even put on a sweet unicycle show by hopping and dropping off a picnic table while we cheered him on.

Thing Number Two: I am a subscriber to Dirt Rag. I've liked that magazine and have been a fairly regular reader since the mid 90's. Obviously The Rag has changed with the times, but recently I noticed something. Something less. I was missing something but couldn't put my finger on it. Well, I have a stash of Dirt Rags going back quite a ways, so I reached down into the stack and yanked out an issue from 2006, as it turned out. Well, I was immediately aware of why I was feeling that empty feeling with the newer version of The Rag. Yup! 30 less pages will do that, I suppose. Kinda funny, but I suppose they have been hit by the hard times just like the rest of us have. Let's hope that changes and Dirt Rag girths up again. (Well, if you are a fan of actually holding something you read in your hands. If not, I suppose Dirt Rag online will do for you.)

Thing Number Three: Trans Iowa V6 registration ends today. It has been pretty amazing. Over 45 people didn't get their cards in on time. Some of them past T.I. participants too. Well, as much as I'd like to let all of them in, I can't. That said, the e-mails will start going out over the next few days with all the names and their places in the line for getting in on T.I.V6 if anyone drops out that is on the roster before 1/31/10. If you are on the Waiting List, your number that I e-mail you will indicate what place in line you are. I will go through the list when needed to find replacements for drop outs by numerical order. If someone passes on an offer to get in on the roster, they are off the Waiting List. Again, this madness will only go on until 1/31/10. After that, no more transfers or replacements will be considered.

Thanks to all who considered T.I.V6 as something worth giving a shot. I am humbled by all the attention that the event gets. While it would be great to get all of you folks here to ride the event, it just isn't logistically possible for our host city, nor am I set up for that sort of riding horde. To be honest, if all 75 folks showed up that are on the roster, it would test the limits of the infrastructure I have in place. (Highly doubtful that all the roster will show up.) But again.......thank you for your efforts to get in on T.I.V6.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Musing On Search Terms

Okay, today is the Turkey Burn out at The Camp. So while you sit there with your morning coffee, or check in whenever this weekend, I will be/or have been out riding. I suggest you do exactly the same thing before this goofy post wastes any more of your time. That's right.....shut down the idiot box. Go on now............

Okay, if you chose to read on- don't say I didn't warn you!

I get webstats and I have always wanted to do a post based upon the search terms folks use to get here. I thought it would be fun, but I am not going to say it will be very interesting!

The Usual: Of course various terms relating to the blog title or me are the top search terms: "g ted", "guitar ted productions", "g ted productions", guitar ted", and "guitar ted blog" are all commonly used ones. Sometimes that is the preface for the real reason they are looking for this web-spot. An example being " g ted drop bar". Which leads me to.......

Drop Bar Madness: I get more hits besides the "guitar ted" stuff from drop bar search terms. Examples are many, but suffice it to say that anything having to do with off road drop bar use searches finds its way over to this blog. Anything from sizing of clamp diameters to specific bars are searched for. Also, I get a fair amount of "alt bar" traffic since I do get into a lot of weird handle bar stuff here. A couple of interesting terms that pop up all the time are "mountain road drop bar" and " guitar ted dirt drop bar". Okay, the first is confusing, and leads me to believe that the folks searching for "mountain road" drop bar info are not exactly sure what the heck is going on either. The second leads me to believe that some folks think I make off road drop bars. Hmm......maybe I should!

Okay, so if you take those two things out of the stats the pickens get slimmer. Here's a few things that regularly pop up in the search terms that I think are pretty weird, funny, or beyond explanation.

Bottom Bracket: I did a post early on in my blogo-sphere ramblings that had to do with certain bicycle component standards. I merely mentioned the BMX "Spanish" bottom bracket size and Pinarello's MOST bottom bracket and now I get searches related to that hitting the blog everyday. Crazy!

Blackburn Quadrant Light: Another early blog entry- I did a review on the blog here on the Blackburn Quadrant LED light and everyday I get hits on that review. Funny thing is, they don't make that light anymore! I suppose the light is getting blown out cheaply by several distributors yet, but know this: The Quadrant wasn't all that great then, and it certainly has been eclipsed by far better technology at comparable prices. Don't bother with one if you find this post and are thinking about a Quadrant. Really!

Name Dropping: If I dropped your name into a blog post here, you can bet that someone is looking for you on the internet. How do I know this? Because your name appears in my stats from time to time. Latest searched name here? Gary Cale. He of the Trans Iowa post card fame. Strange but true!

Weirdest: Of course I get a fair amount of searches related to guitar stuff, what with my handle and all, but the weirdest search term on today's stats was this: "wtb sst gravel" Okay, on one hand you have a saddle name- "wtb sst". On the other hand you have "gravel", which gets a lot of mention here as a surface I ride on a lot. But those two terms together?

Yeah, ya got me!

Okay, again, I warned you to go ride yer bike and not read this. Now you'll never get that time back!'s never too late to ride!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Slippin' And Slidin'!

I got to ride out at the Camp Wednesday on one of the new test rigs I am riding for Twenty Nine Inches. Well, it had rained a bit Tuesday and the leaf strewn trail was treacherous. To make matters worse, the tires on the tester bike were XC, minimal width, minimal tread wonders.
It took all of about 30 yards for me to find a hidden, off camber, wet, slick root that ran at a diagonal to my wheels travel on a steep downward pitch. My front got knocked off line, I wobbled, and that went okay, but when the rear tire hit, it was all over. I went sideways in the back and that pitched the front tire into an angle I couldn't maintain at the pitch I was descending. An over the bars trip was immanent. I hit pretty hard, and the bike slid up onto my legs, entangling me. So, here I was, face downward, with a bicycle all tangled up in my legs.
I was going to be okay, but it took a few minutes to get out from under the bike and investigate the damage. It wasn't too bad. Stem knocked off line, and thankfully the bar spin didn't cause the top tube and controls to clash. The front brake line was crimped over at a pretty severe angle, but after I straightened the bars out, I checked and it functioned well yet. Whew! First ride on this rig and I had already had a big biff on it and to come away unscathed was good. Really good.
So I went on, albeit at a much more measured pace. The slip outs happened numerous times. The tires were just not matched up at all to the conditions at this time. The steeps were more often than not hike-a-bikes due to the lack of grip. Then I had the trail conditions to deal with as well. I had a lot of blow downs to move. Bigger limbs in some cases. At least the loop for the Turkey Burn will be more clear than it would have been otherwise.
And those racer boy tires? Yeah, they came off and got replaced with something more in the knobular, voluminous vein. I also went tubeless with 'em too, which should allow more tire conformity over unseen branches and roots. No more OTB trips for me! Not if I can help it anyway.
Hopefully you are avoiding "Black Friday" like the plague and riding a bicycle instead. And that goes for whatever the heck they named Monday as well. Retailers. They think they can just name a day whatever stupid name they want. I just call it another opportunity to be alive. It's all good! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This image reminds me of sacrifice. I am very thankful to all that have sacrificed for this country. I am grateful to all who sacrificed to get me where I am today.

Most of all, I am thankful for that Ultimate Sacrifice.

This image reminds me of Life. Even when things look bleak all around us, we have our lives and we have much to be thankful for.
Take a minute to count your blessings today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Fallout

<===Look closer. It isn't the pic you might think it is!

Well, Trans Iowa V6 is on to the next stage now. Registration is over, and now I have some course recon, details, and paperwork/e-mails to take care of. I just wanted to point out that there will appear to be more than 75 folks on the roster for awhile due to a couple of reasons. #1: I forgot to put a guy in that was one of the first to register, and #2: Volunteers from last T.I. are eligible no matter what as long as they let me know by November 30th. (One guy has taken me up on that with a rumored two more folks coming)

<====Carbon goodness.

The Specialized Bicycle Company was kind enough to send out this stellar hardtail, a Stumpjumper HT Expert Carbon 29 model. It's a nice rig, and I'll be writing it up over on Twenty Nine Inches

So far I've only gotten a couple of rides on it, but if the weather holds out, I'll be sportin' it at the Turkey Burn at The Camp come Saturday. Hope to see a few of you locals out there.

<===Got her dirty!

The trails should be okay by then if the rain that we are getting now stops tonight, and it shows every indication of that.

Oh yeah- I'll have another cool rig along with me at The Turkey Burn you won't want to miss. If one of these two rigs fits you, you might even get a demo ride. So, there is a carrot for ya if you were on the fence about coming to the Turkey Burn Saturday morning at Camp Ingawanis.

<====Hey! I know that guy!

Well, I still want to show a few Trans Iowa entries over the next few days. Here's one I got Monday morning. It was waiting for me on my bench when I walked in the door.

It's Troy Krause's entry. He of DK 200 fame and GLGA fame. (Yes- he won GLGA and came in on the podium at DK 200)

But as far as I am concerned Troy is most famous for coming out after winning the GLGA to pick my sorry carcass up on course after I had to pull the plug. A winner picking up DNF-ers? Yep! Class act this guy, as far as I am concerned. Well, for that and this..............

<===Awwww! Ain't that sweet!

........he sent flowers with his entry. Somebody was paying attention and knew I liked flowers. Especially wild ones, and that is what it reminded me of. Thanks Troy!

I'll post more entries in the coming days, but that's all for this post.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bike Shop Tales: Big Changes

Last week I left off with the story about my Mechanics 101 class. This time we go back for a little backround.....

As was stated last time, I was a jeweler by trade. I designed custom jewelry, oversaw its production, was a trained gemologist, and wore suits and ties everyday for about ten years. Bicycling and fishing were my two hobbies. I spent tons of time in the jewelry store, so when I got outta there, I played hard. Even though I had been married for a couple of years, that didn't slow me down any, but one day that all changed in a flash.

I went into work, as usual. Then I was "asked to come into the office". Well, if you've ever had that happen to you, you know what is coming next. I was fired. Never really ever found out why, and after this long, I don't care anymore. Thing is, at that time, I was gutted. I was out on the street and didn't have a clue as to why, or where it was I was going to go next.

So I hit the ol' unemployment line, got the low down on the way to get my checks, and hit the streets. I had to "make an effort" to find a job daily. What a farce! I tried to utilize the so-called "services" available to help unemployed folks find new employment. No one at the Job Services was helping me at all. I guess it was in their best interest to keep a steady flow of unemployed folks coming in the door, because if they helped us all find jobs, they would be out of one. Great!

One of my stops in "finding a job" (read: Making sure I got my unemployment check) was the bike shop. Advantage Cycles was always my last stop of the day, since I liked hanging out there. I would soak up all I could, watch the mechanics, and shoot the breeze with the owner, Tom. They had lots of time to spend with me too, since it was the off season and all. Well, one day Tom offered me a job. It wouldn't pay as much as my old job, but I didn't care. I was super pumped to not only have a job again, but have a job at something I really enjoyed.

It had been about three months of unemployment, but now with winter waning I was going to go back to work again! I was really looking forward to this new opportunity. Tom set up a time for me to come in for my "introduction" and to start my training. I couldn't wait!

Next week: Making A "Good" Impression.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Trans Iowa V6: Thoughts Part VI

Course In Flux: Well, I just found out something tonight that is going to switch up the plans for the course. It was something that I had figured in early on that won't work out now. Bad deal. Thing is though, I just found out where some killer hills should be instead. Yay! Good deal.

That's the thing with course recon. You start to research it, go to see it, and it is forced to be different. That's why I never get my heart too set on any one feature. It always ends up that you lose one or two things you thought would be cool only to find three more things that rock to add instead.

Registration: I am pretty certain T.I.V6's roster will fill up today. If it doesn't, I'd be surprised and Tuesday I am certain will be the last day if we get that far. Here's the deal that amazes me. I wrote the rules in what I considered to be a pretty concise and easy to understand way in regards as to how rookies to T.I. were to time their entries. I said that if you sent them in too early, they would be thrown out. Guess what....

Lots of entries got thrown out.

I know I'll hear about it too. But, I won't be changing my mind. Just so you know... And no- I won't be putting those on The Waiting List either. Only entries sent in at the proper time and in the proper format and with the proper information will be considered for the roster and the Waiting List.

I'm betting I'll see the Fed Ex and overnight postal dudes early Monday morning!

Volunteers: I am getting volunteers e-mailing and calling me already, which is awesome. Keep in mind that if you get on T.I.V6 as a volunteer, you get an automatic entry for 2011, if we do a T.I.V7. (Whoa! First time I've written that, or thought about that version of T.I.) Anyway, also keep in mind that a Trans Iowa may never happen again, so don't go counting on that offer coming through. It is what it is. If you volunteered last year and want in, you can get in, but you need to send in that post card before November 30th!! (Yes- they get in even if I have 75 on the roster, but hey! They volunteered in 2009, and that was the deal I made with them.)

Off Topic: Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: d.p. was up over the weekend for a ride and we discussed the 2010 running of GTDRI. It was bandied about that GTDRI should occur on the weekend that ends RAGBRAI instead of the opening weekend of it. That way folks in the industry, or fans of RAGBRAI that want to do that could and they could bail on the final, mostly meaningless day to join us in West Union's Echo Valley State Park for GTDRI which would be on Saturday. Saturday night we are planning on a barbecue and camp over. Sunday we could all make our way home.

Anyone that cares should make suggestions in the comment section. I want to set a date for this ASAP. Dates would be 7-31/8-1 2010. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gravel Ride With A-Lo

<===A Great Blue Heron stalking in the backwaters.

My old co-worker A-Lo was back in town for a friends wedding this weekend and wanted to hook up for a gravel ride. I missed the last one he was back for. Not this time!

I was planning on some T.I.V6 recon with d.p., but I invited him to come along instead. So, if the T.I.V6 recon gets balled up, you can point back to this day and say, "ah ha!" Oh well, it probably won't affect that, and it was too nice a day to not be out on a bicycle. I mean, this late into November and to have close to 50 degrees? Yeah.........recon can wait!!

<===A-Lo and D.P.

The ride started out for me at my house. I had to traverse Waterloo and Cedar Falls to get to Bike Tech where the ride was to set off from. It was chilly and pretty dang foggy. I was almost tempted to put lights on, but the forecast called for clearing skies, so I took my chances.

I got over there just in time and there were three others besides me. A-Lo, d.p., and mtbidwell were there. After some futzing around with my air pressure with a pump borrowed from The Thin Man, we were off. It was decided to go around Big Woods Lake, then head over to Ford Road, and wherever we wanted after that.

<====I need work on my "Kerkove Shot" skillz!

The ride didn't get very far when we heard this awful screeching, scratching noise. It was emanating from mtbidwell's rig. His Coda front hub shat out it's bearings and was dying a horrible death. He had to bail out, so we bid him adieu.

Not 50 feet later, I realized my rear tubeless tire was squishy. It was going flat, and the sealant was dried up. So, out came the tube and pump. After a tube install and huff up session with the excellent Lezyne pump, I was good to go. Yes Tubes! WooHoo!

d.p. was sportin' the War Axe eagle on his legs!

After this there was no stopping us. We went north, east, north, west, north, and then ended up in Janesville where the requisite convenience store stop was made.

After a bit of refueling we took off again westwards. Trouble is, everything west and south of Janesville is pretty much pavement. We wandered around searching for limestone goodness, but were coming up empty handed. Heading westwards toward New Hartford would have solved our dilemma, but A-Lo had time constraints, and with me spinning a 34X18 on my El Mariachi with monster truck tires against two cyclo-cross rigs, it was not making me want to find a longer route either.

Gravelly Glory. It's up ahead and to the left.....

Eventually we made it back to Ford Road and went against a stiff southerly headwind back into Cedar Falls. I dropped off A-Lo and d.p. and made my way slowly and steadily back to my house in Waterloo.

It was a fantastic day out on a bike, but after three hours of ride time spinning like a whirling dervish and working those big meats, my legs were cooked!

It's all good though! I hope everyone had a great weekend and got to ride a bicycle.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Trans Iowa V6 Post Card Gallery!

Here are some more post cards from the Trans Iowa V6 entrants for your perusal. These cards come in every year, and I always have had plans to share them. This seems as good a way as any.....

Gary Cale wins every year. No...not the event. He wins the best post card sent in "award". (I know he would find this small consolation)

At any rate, as long as he enters Trans Iowa, and he has every year so far, the rest of you post card senders have a higher standard to meet!

Lincoln Crew Represents!

These guys are awesome folks. Hopefully you'll get to ride with one of them.

Oh yeah, I finally got to drive down "O" Street earlier this year. Pretty Cool!

The resourcefulness of self supported racers evidenced by things as trivial as post cards made from cardboard.

I got several of this one from different folks.
Kind of disturbing!

Another "recycled" post card.

Somewhere in Lincoln, Nebraska there is a dirty bathroom with a camera running!

Hey! A 36"er cruiser!

(Having been an art major in collage, one of my pet peeves is pictures with bad perspective and scale)

But it's a cool message!

From the T.I. V5 winner and champeen!


More Lincoln Crew goodness!

And the last card for today.....

A fitting saying to leave you with for the weekend!

This is happening in Cedar Falls, IA tomorrow!

Do It!

Ride your bikes, and ride them for a good cause.

Bonus: You will have good weather and good people to ride with.

Have a great weekend and ride yer bicycle somewhere!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trans Iowa V6: Thoughts Part V

<===Shark Teeth

As you read today's post, you will note more images of cards and stuff I got with T.I.V6 entries.

Registration Questions: I got a couple good questions regarding registration that I'd thought I would share. First off- folks are wondering exactly when first time T.I. riders can send there post cards in. It isn't clear whether they can be received on the 21st or after the 21st.

<===Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

Answer: The new, non-veteran entries will be accepted after the 21st!

The second question had to do with how I have enumerated the classes on the T.I.V6 webpage. Someone wanted to know if that was how I was limiting each category.

<===These chips RULE!!

Answer: No- the way the numbers are laid out is totally arbitrary. If we get more than 20 Single Speed/Fixed riders before the roster fills out, than I will add them, as an example.
I just broke it up the way I did to approximate the way it has broken down in years past to make it easier for me.

<===Gas card and Red Bull. I'm ready for recon!!
That's about it. The roster is just over half full with today plus two more days for vets to get in. Monday the 23rd it's a free for all!
Then I suspect it'll take two, maybe three days max to fill up, and then we'll have Waiting List folks.
Good Luck to all sending in entries!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

T.I.V6 Post Cards And Sacrificial Offerings

Okay folks! I am going to try and share a bunch of this T.I. Post card madness with you all. It's a long post! So settle in and enjoy! You can click on any image to make it bigger.

<====Soooo......I'm a doctor now? Good take on the "Vitamin G" theme. It actually has gravel inside!

<====I got one of these last year too. Something so stupid about this that it is brilliant!

Still makes me laugh!

<====Another Florida themed card.

Funny- you never see the reverse- You know, when they are getting blown away by a hurricane and we are enjoying wonderful late summer weather. Ha!

<====I like New Belgium. I like their beer. I like that they like bikes.

I also like this post card. "Redefining Folly" Perfect for Trans Iowa, eh?

<====MG, I don't know where you got this, but it is hilarious! Thanks Brother!

I'm left wondering what went wrong with models 1 through 24.

<====Been here once as a child. Funny how it looks so great on a post card!

<====You're welcome!

<===Things are still a bit fuzzy concerning T.I.V6, but they are quickly coming into focus!

<===I guess this artist is famous in the Twin Cities newspapers.

I just think it is pretty cool.

<====A few guys went down early in T.I.V5 due to mechanicals.

I'd stay out of their way if I were on T.I.V6!

I'll be sharing more in the future. One thing is for sure. You guys have been super creative and super generous this year. It is greatly appreciated. I am humbled- Thanks!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bike Shop Tales: Learning To Wrench

Last week I left off with the Klein Attitude purchase. Now it was time to learn how to take care of them....

After I dropped the big coinage on the Attitudes, I figured I'd better learn how to take care of the things. Lucky for me, Advantage Cycles had a mechanics 101 class in the evenings. I signed up and I was super stoked to find out all I could to get up to speed on maintenance.

I knew a few rudimentary things from back in my childhood. I was blessed by having been in the great tornado of 1968 in Charles City, Iowa. It was after that carnage that as a child, you could find a bike out in the weeds around the edges of town on any given day. They were like apples fallen from a tree. It was pretty amazing. We would take these things, disassemble them, reassemble them, modify them, and pretty much destroy them. Hey! They were free and a dime a dozen. At least for a few years afterwards.

That got me by with my old bike, but there was so much I didn't know about the new stuff. I wanted to find out what I could do to keep these Kleins going for a long time. It helped that they both were set up with Grease Guard stuff from SunTour, and Klein Attitudes had very forward thinking bearing set ups in the head set and bottom bracket. In fact, the Kleins were totally useless as a bicycle to learn on for the class, so I ended up doing maintenance on shop cast offs for the class. Old bikes that had what we were talking about- Serviceable bottom brackets, head sets, and quill stems.

So it was during these classes that I met a car mechanic by the name of Vance McCaw. He often came to the class still dressed in his work duds. Little did I know that years later, I would end up in the same outfit. But that's a long ways down the road yet. Vance's and my paths would cross again a few times, I just didn't know how or when.

All I knew was after the class was over, I was really interested in finding out even more. I gobbled up all the bicycle info I could get my hands on. I was "bitten by the bug", I suppose you could say. That said, I was also still very much a custom design jeweler, salesman, and gemologist. I wasn't planning on being a bicycle guy anytime in my life beyond being a rider. But even the best laid plans can go astray, and mine did one early November day.

Next Week: Big Changes

Monday, November 16, 2009

In Full View

<===The Gun Kote El Mariachi

I put up a teaser shot last week of the head set and stem, but here is the whole enchilada. The El Mariachi started out as a Superior Blue model with a matching blue CroMoto stem. I sent both in to be Gun Koted by Ben's Cycle in Milwaukee.

I gotta say, the finish is awesome! I am very impressed with the way it came out. Long term use will show how well this will stay on the frame, but I am feeling good about it now. The threaded portions didn't get taped off and I didn't need to chase any threads at all. Pretty cool! That and the pre-treatment basically coats the steel tubing inside and out, so I have rust protection that should last for years. Finally, the panel and graphic is Gun Kote, so it should hold up really well, just like the rest of the frame covering.

<===Hideous blue chain will be replaced by a purple one.

Everything you see here weighs just a shade over 23lbs too. I was pretty stoked by that fact. Especially when you look at some of the parts, which could lose some grammage pretty easily. Not that I am too concerned with that, but it is possible to get this really light- for me- and not be stupid light.

And the bike rides really well. especially with the fork and Cane Creek ThudBuster seat post. Man! Talk about smoooooth! smooth as a rigid bike gets. The rig flys, and I could probably go faster, but my front cog is a 32 here, not my usual 34T. I'll have to rectify that over the winter, but it is fine for now.

Bottom line: I am really glad I got this particular frame redone. This ol' El Mariachi is so sweet. Salsa Cycles just nailed this frame when it was in production. There aren't too many things I'd change about it, and what I would are very minor details. I'm thinking I'll have this one around for a long, long time to come.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Post Card Madness Begins!

<===Carlos da Jackal is in!!

Well, as you all probably know by now, Trans Iowa V6 registration is live. I kinda figured I would see a card or two dropped off right away the first day. It seemed inevitable since this is the third time around registration has been handled like we are doing it now. Folks catch on.

I also figured that I would get some cool, creative entries, but even one I got Friday threw me for a loop.

Carlos da Jackal stopped by and dropped off his entry. He was an "original" T.I. vet from the first one we did. I was pleasantly surprised by his entry, and he did a nice job on his handmade card. Pretty cool, and these days, fairly typical of what I get for a T.I. entry post card.

<===This will take a while to get to! I'm still workin' on T.I.V3 whiskey!!

But the honor of "first in" for T.I.V6 went to local "fat guy" Jeremy Fry. (I'd keep an eye on this critter!) He dropped off a nice whiskey with his card. By the way, take a look at the writin' he wrote. That barely passes muster. Compare yours before you send it in. If it doesn't pass "The Fry Test", you better have your entry printed at Kinkos, okay?

Then there was the one that threw me for a loop. My boss orders stuff and has it delivered to the shop often. Office supplies, car parts, and other weird items you wouldn't think of getting in at a bike shop. So I didn't bat an eyelash when a guy came in with a case of oil. I figured my boss was doing some maintenance on a vehicle he owns.

The bill was signed and the guy delivering it said he didn't see my bosses name on the stuff, but I still didn't think anything of it. I sat the oil and the invoice papers in his office, figuring that when he finished with the customer he was talking to he'd figure it out.

Well, not long after he comes out chuckling and said the box was for me, at which point I read the paper stapled to the invoice for the first time. It was a T.I.V6 entry from Warren Weibe!

Good thing my boss didn't need a case of oil! So, that one ranks right up there with the oddest T.I. entry yet.

But I'm betting I'll see more of the same in the coming week to ten days!

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

It's Your Lucky Day!

So- You Wanna A Peice Of This?: Or- Trans Iowa Registration Announcement:

It is time! If you have a hankerin' for a heapin' helpin' of Iowa limestone goodness, here's how you get some. Pay attention! The specifics are important if you want to get your name on the roster.

Veterans First! For anyone that wants to toe the line at T.I.V6 that has been in a previous Trans Iowa, you get first dibs on a roster spot. You can start sending your post cards today and Veterans Of Trans Iowa Past (VOTIP's) can be assured they will have the first rights until November 21st!! No new entrants will be accepted at this time. This is to honor those who have supported Trans Iowa with blood, sweat, and tears in the past. You new folks have to wait until after the 21st.

Leftover Spots: Whatever doesn't get scooped up from the 75 available spots after the 21st is open game for all who want to get a post card in. In the past, it hasn't taken very long to fill in the empty roster spots available, but I will entertain all comers until November 30th if spots still remain. Once I reach 75 entrants though, the Roster is filled. However, I will fill in a Waiting List with overflow post cards received up until November 30th.

T.I.V5 Volunteers: If you were a volunteer on T.I.V5 and want in, you have automatic guranteed entry, but you still need to send in a post card.

Now for the pertinent details........................

Post Cards: Post cards must be received with legible writing (judged by me) and include the following information:

  • Name
  • Class (Choose one: Open Men's, Open Women's, or Single Speed/Fixed)
  • e-mail address (make sure it is valid and working!)
  • Phone # (preferably the one you will be reachable at during the event)
  • Past Trans Iowa events you have raced in (if applicable)
  • How many support people will be with you. (This is for pre-race planning)

Again, there is no "official post card", but you must have the information listed above in legible form. I reserve the right to refuse unreadable entries or entries missing information I asked for above.

Send post cards here:

Europa Cycle and Ski

c/o Guitar Ted

4302 University Avenue

Cedar Falls, IA 50613

Fine Details: Once Post cards start coming in, I will post the names on the Trans Iowa Roster found on the T.I.V6 site every evening. Again- NO ONE BUT VOTIP's CAN ENTER FROM 11/13 to 11/21. If you are a first timer, I will disqualify your entry if I receive it before 11/21.

Available roster spots could feasibly be taken by all veterans. It "could happen", and if it does, so be it. I am okay with that, but I doubt we'll see that happen.

Available spots are taken by a first received/first posted on the roster basis. It is basically determined by the U.S.P.S. driver and how he/she arranges the mail for the day. In other words- totally random and unbiased. Other ways of receiving entries are slotted in by me as they are received. (Examples: Over night letters, pizza delivery, carrier pigeon, etc...)

Waiting List: If you do not get the spot on the roster, you will get on the Waiting List. Once Registration closes on 11/30, I will e-mail everyone on the Waiting List with their spots number. This number corresponds to your position in line. Last year we got through over a dozen names on the Waiting List before the list was terminated on January 31st. If when you receive my e-mail in early December and you want to opt off the list, just respond in kind, and I'll move folks in line behind you up. If you want to stay on and take a chance to get in, do nothing. When I get word from any Roster spot holders that they are cancelling out, I will e-mail the first in line with the opportunity to take the vacated spot.

Okay, that should do it, but if you have specific questions or concerns, e-mail me here.

Good Luck!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trans Iowa V6: Meeting Report

<===Looking westward on the T.I.V6 course.

Well, Wednesday was the big meeting day and a lot of things for T.I.V6 got dialed, filed, or were put on the table for further discussion.

In attendance were "Super Rep" Rob Versteegh, d.p., and myself. We also did a bit of chatting with Craig Cooper of Bikes To You , and Sheryl Parmley of the Grinnell Chamber of Commerce. I am pretty stoked by the level of excitement and interest taken by the folks in Grinnell. Here's a rundown of some things that are solid for T.I.V6.

<===Rural traffic jam....

- The Start Line: The starting line for T.I.V6 will be right outside the front door of Bikes To You. Same 4am start time as always. Rumor has it there may be coffee available at the start. Don't hold me to that coffee thing, but it is being put on the table for now.

-Finish Line: In a total break from past T.I. tradition, the finish line will be announced ahead of time. I can't give an exact address as of now, but here is the deal: We'll be finishing inside a barn! That's right folks- Trans Iowa V6 ends in a barn. Not only that, but plans are currently in the works to host support people throughout the night Saturday/Sunday where you will be able to get race info, food, enjoy a campfire, and hang out as Trans Iowa finishers come in off the road. It'll be a regular "Hoe Down at The Barn" sort of gig. Even if the route gets truncated, or no one makes the cut offs, this still should be a pretty good time.

-Motel Deal: I can't announce specifics as yet, but Sheryl Parmley of the Chamber of Commerce already has some deals worked out for us to work on here. I will announce specifics on the T.I.V6 motel discount- hopefully along with the Registration announcement.

<===A lonely stretch of T.I.V6 gravel....

-Sponsor News: Rob Versteegh is stepping up in a big way for T.I.V6 and along with that we can announce that Oakley will be a featured sponsor of T.I.V6. Stay tuned for details, but we want to let ya'all know that Oakley is going to be helping us out with prizing and more.

Also, Bikes To You will be our bike shop sponsor. If you all need anything last minute when you hit town for T.I.V6, Bikes To You is the shop where you'll be able to score your bits and pieces to help make your T.I.V6 a smooth one. Not only that, but "Coop", the shop's owner, is really supporting T.I.V6 with logistical help and hook ups to make our Friday pre-race meet up a good deal. Coop also said he'll be able to get your rig assembled if you ship it to him at the shop, so for folks that may be flying in, you should check him out for that service.

Okay, there is more- a lot more! That will have to wait for further discussion, fine tuning, and approval, but rest assured, this Trans Iowa is going to be FUN!! (And not just for the racers either!)

I did get in some recon as well. Looking good! I nixed a few things and connected a few dots, so things went really well today. Stay tuned for further updates............

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Big Meeting Day

<===This is where the purple King head set resides.

I'll be on the road today to Grinnell for a big meeting that I hope will clear a few things up in regards to Trans Iowa V6.

If all goes as planned, the announcement of Registration will soon follow. Then it's off to the races as far as recon goes. In fact, a little of that may happen tomorrow as well.

I probably will throw the Gun Kote El Mariachi in the "Truck Without A Name" and hopefully get some riding in on a secret surprise part of the T.I.V6 route. That way I'll kill two birds with one stone. Recon and ride a new rig. Well......not new really. Just different than it was. It's good to have the El Mariachi back and now it is a single speed. Good stuff for sure!

<===My ol' Buddy hit the glossy pages!

Take a looky here local freaks! That's Mr. 24 in Mountain Flyer Magazine. He got the lead photo on their story about the Breck Epic. Pretty cool there Jeff!

It was fun following all the travels of Jeff and the rest of Team Ergon Topeak all year. It makes it more interesting when you know a few of the people personally and have met a few of the others. Anyway, I'll be checking them out in 2010. Oh yeah.....and I'm a big fan of the grips and packs too. Check that stuff out here.

So, that's it for today. Look here tomorrow for a report on the "big meeting".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bike Shop Tales: An Introduction

Welcome to "Bike Shop Tales". This is the new series I will be writing up for awhile about my experiences as a bicycle mechanic, but won't necessarily be limited to that. In this post I want to outline what you can expect, and give you a bit of back round.

First off, this series will be mentioning real people and real events. I am running off of a 16 plus year old memory on some of this stuff, so I may not get things the way "you" remember them, assuming some of you reading this were party to these events. (Please feel free to comment in the comment section if you find motivation to correct me, or e-mail me from my link at the right).

I promise to reflect things as close to the truth as I am able. Some of the things I write may rankle a few folks, but hey- I am not going to write anything I am not ready to stand behind. So take that for what it is worth.

Okay, so enough of that. Here is the generalized back round of these tales. A context- if you will- of my life in the late 80's/early 90's. I wasn't always involved in the cycling business, and this is where I came from.

I had always been a fan of riding a bike, but found that most of the time, they wouldn't hold up to where I wanted to go. Basically, I wanted to go where I wanted to go, and usually it wasn't paved. Most of my college years were spent off the bike because of this. So when I found out more about mountain bikes in the late 80's, I thought they might just be the adventure vehicle I was searching for.

I bought a Mongoose Sycamore from Bombay Bike Shop in Cedar Falls, Iowa in 1989. That thing was awesome! I could ride it "anywhere", or so I thought, and I did. Flooded trails? Not a problem. Mud-pshaaw! Snow? That's just more fun. Well, all that "fun" was taking a great toll on that old Sycamore. It wasn't a great bike, in terms of the grand scheme of things, so its components weren't up to my abuse. Well.......probably no bike was really!

So it was that I became friendly with another bike shop in town. Bombay had closed up shop, and a co-worker of mine at the jewelry store I worked at suggested I check out Advantage Cycles, so I did. The proprietor, Tom, was a great guy. Easy to talk to, excited about my passion for mountain biking, and had sensible prices for service. I found myself stopping by at fairly regular intervals, since the Sycamore was often pretty "sick". Tom was checking out my bike one day, and after wheeling it back out to me, he carefully and tactfully explained that it was obvious my passion for cycling exceeded the ability for the ol' Sycamore to deliver. It was time for a new rig.

Well, I worked at a jewelry store as a salesman/designer at a place where we did custom jewelry and design. I suppose that was part of why I thought I needed something unique, something different. Tom loaded me up with all the catalogs: Mantis, Klein, Alpinestars, and about every off the wall, cool mountain bike company of the early 90's. I saved, scratched, and ate baked potatoes for three months, (really!) to save up the money to get the ball rolling. And not only that, but my first wife was going to get the same thing, so I was throwing down cash for two ultra cool rigs.

In the end, I ordered two Klein Attitudes. They would be the first Klein mountain bikes in the area. Very different, and with Klein's wild "Linear Fade" paint jobs, very unique looking. When the frames came in, Tom displayed them in the front window of the shop. I was pretty proud of that. I used to stop in about three times a week just to hang out and pour over catalogs deciding what to hang on these aluminum wonder bikes. That was a lot of fun, but I couldn't wait to get riding this bike, and learn how to take care of it.

Next week: Learning how to wrench.........

Monday, November 09, 2009

Weekend Report

<===I'll shoot my deer with a camera, thank you!

Wow! If you didn't drop the rake, leave the dishes unwashed, or forget about washing the car and get outside, you were daft! It was a beautiful last chance to get out and enjoy shirt sleeve weather in 2009. (I'm betting)

I got out Saturday and rode at the camp- for a short bit! My chain sucked on the Big Mama and then not 50 yards down the trail it snapped in two. Not good for prospects of forward motion by two wheels. And I without a chain tool! Bad me! I should know better. I should have been riding a single speed!! Ha! So, now a full drive train replacement will be in order. It's time, and this was a sign.

<===Wait just a gol durn minute!

The fork for then Gun Kote El Mariachi came in last week. A 100mm through axle Manitou Minute 29"er fork. This will determine the wheel set now, which will be a Bontrager Rhythm wheel set I have had in reserve for months now. That means I'll most likely set it up with some Bontrager tires, or Specialized 2Bliss, which works well on the TLR rim strip too.
This Minute has the Absolute Plus damper and lock out, which could be upgraded to the MILO remote lock out if I wanted it. The fork, with an uncut steer tube weighs a paltry 4.2lbs. It'll be less than that once I cut it down a bit.

<===A bear of a tire.

The WTB, Niner Bikes distributed, Kodiak 2.5" tire showed up here too. I've gotten them mounted and ridden a bit too.

What do I think? Well, you'll have to wait for the Twenty Nine Inches reports, but I will say that it is a very different tire from the WTB Dissent that I also am testing here. Actually, they hardly share anything at all in common! Wire beads and Inner Peace sidewall protection, and that's about it from what I can tell so far. Stay tuned!

<===Some long overdue "love" for the Fargo.

I got a Chris King bottom bracket a while ago now. I finally installed it in the Fargo the other day. I think the green goes good with the stock paint, but really, the King BB is smarter than that!

I can maintain this one by injecting grease from time to time ala the King grease tool, which I have to get yet. Hopefully the Fargo will be fine for some time to come, but I need to order that tool anyway for customers at the shop that will be wanting a fresh shot of grease in theirs soon.

<===The frame isn't tiny, the wheels are big!

I saw a thread on that showed this prototype 29"er DH rig from Intense Cycles.

This is serious folks. Intense doesn't fool around with DH. They helped define the genre', and if they are fiddling with wagon wheels for DH, they have an inkling that it might just work.

This would be revolutionary if it proves out. DH has long been thought of as an area of mountain biking that 29 inch wheels were just ridiculous for. They would never be used in that application other than by experimenters and dreamers. The debates will rage now, but if racers start showing up on these, and more importantly- winning on them- then the last barrier to big wheels will have fallen. Will it happen?

Well, it doesn't really matter in the end, but what will happen is that many new ideas will be birthed from the experiment that will benefit long travel and any full suspension 29"er bike. Rim technologies, tire technologies, and of course- fork and damper technologies all stand to be altered by these DH experimenters. It'll be interesting to watch, at the very least.