Thursday, December 31, 2009

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2009: Part IV


<===I was rewarded with a primo fall color ride in October. The air was literally golden!
October/November/December: Well, this month started out on a somber note when my father in law had to go in for emergency open heart surgery. Not only that, but due to the circumstances, I had to cancel my participation in the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. First off- Thank you Matt Gersib for taking up the slack there. I let you and everybody down, and I felt like a total chump in the early part of the month. While it was out of my control, there it is. I felt about as low as you can back then. Thankfully I was able to get in some awesome fall color rides that picked up my spirit again. That golden color was awesome and that one ride in particular was like being in another world entirely.
The Ballyhoo itself suffered a freak snow storm but even though attendance was not what we originally had hoped for, good times were had anyway. My feeling, and this is just my personal opinion, is that the Ballyhoo idea is just cursed. At least from my end of things. I've been clubbed over the head twice now. I get the idea. Don't look for me to be involved in promoting that again.
Moving on from that personal low point, I was spending the rest of the month getting things in order to close out some testing for Twenty Nine Inches before the snows came. I also was getting the first recon of the T.I.V6 course readied. That happened and d.p. and I were really excited about the first quarter of the course we got to lay eyes on.
Besides those two huge events, I got a lot of riding in on the Salsa Big Mama, I got the Gun Kote Salsa El Mariachi back and started to build it up, and my long running "Touring Tuesdays" took it's final bow in the beginning of November. I did start up the "Trans Iowa Thoughts" posts though in October which will help keep folks in T.I.V6 up to date with how the event develops.
November kicked off with a big, big surprise from my friend George Wissell from Bike 29. I had been giving him some grief over three NOS purple anodized Chris King headsets he acquired. Well, he saw my El Mariachi, and gifted me one of the treasured purple ano headsets to install on it. (Once again- Thanks!) I was floored!
Then I started out with a new series for the replacement of "Touring Tuesdays" called "Bike Shop Tales" which is going to be my outlet for telling the story about my early shop rat days at Advantage Cyclery. I also posted a retrospective on my year with Salsa Cycles Fargo.
After a week or so into November, there was a big pow-wow in Grinnell about Trans Iowa V6 which got the ball rolling on a lot of details concerning the event. I posted the registration announcement immediately following and the madness of post cards, gifts, and people coming out of the woodwork to get into T.I.V6 began.
In between all of that I got in a great gravel ride with A-Lo, d.p., and for a short bit, mtbidwell. I also raided the Camp for the final times doing last minute Specialized 29"er testing, and did a lot of after work rides for the same reasons. Winter was coming. The fading daylight, the feel in the air, and the Turkey Burn Ride all pointed to snow and soon.
Well, we barely got a week into December and we got not just a little dump, but we got walloped with 15 inches of snow which shut down not just the off road cycling, but just about everything. So, I turned to writing to take my mind off things. I started Gravel Grinder News to chronicle all the gravel racing/culture in the nation these days. I also did a lot of stuff on the sites I write for, getting year end stuff in order.
Finally, it always amazes me, but this time of year is when a lot of gear testing opportunities crop up and I was busy with a lot of that coming right into the end of the year. The snowing, blowing, and cold still persists, and getting to ride is really tough now. Hopefully 2010 won't continue like December has!
That's a wrap on the "Rearview For 2009". I will follow this up with an outlook for 2010 in my next post.

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2009: Part IV


<===I was rewarded with a primo fall color ride in October. The air was literally golden!
October/November/December: Well, this month started out on a somber note when my father in law had to go in for emergency open heart surgery. Not only that, but due to the circumstances, I had to cancel my participation in the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. First off- Thank you Matt Gersib for taking up the slack there. I let you and everybody down, and I felt like a total chump in the early part of the month. While it was out of my control, there it is. I felt about as low as you can back then. Thankfully I was able to get in some awesome fall color rides that picked up my spirit again. That golden color was awesome and that one ride in particular was like being in another world entirely.
The Ballyhoo itself suffered a freak snow storm but even though attendance was not what we originally had hoped for, good times were had anyway. My feeling, and this is just my personal opinion, is that the Ballyhoo idea is just cursed. At least from my end of things. I've been clubbed over the head twice now. I get the idea. Don't look for me to be involved in promoting that again.
Moving on from that personal low point, I was spending the rest of the month getting things in order to close out some testing for Twenty Nine Inches before the snows came. I also was getting the first recon of the T.I.V6 course readied. That happened and d.p. and I were really excited about the first quarter of the course we got to lay eyes on.
Besides those two huge events, I got a lot of riding in on the Salsa Big Mama, I got the Gun Kote Salsa El Mariachi back and started to build it up, and my long running "Touring Tuesdays" took it's final bow in the beginning of November. I did start up the "Trans Iowa Thoughts" posts though in October which will help keep folks in T.I.V6 up to date with how the event develops.
November kicked off with a big, big surprise from my friend George Wissell from Bike 29. I had been giving him some grief over three NOS purple anodized Chris King headsets he acquired. Well, he saw my El Mariachi, and gifted me one of the treasured purple ano headsets to install on it. (Once again- Thanks!) I was floored!
Then I started out with a new series for the replacement of "Touring Tuesdays" called "Bike Shop Tales" which is going to be my outlet for telling the story about my early shop rat days at Advantage Cyclery. I also posted a retrospective on my year with Salsa Cycles Fargo.
After a week or so into November, there was a big pow-wow in Grinnell about Trans Iowa V6 which got the ball rolling on a lot of details concerning the event. I posted the registration announcement immediately following and the madness of post cards, gifts, and people coming out of the woodwork to get into T.I.V6 began.
In between all of that I got in a great gravel ride with A-Lo, d.p., and for a short bit, mtbidwell. I also raided the Camp for the final times doing last minute Specialized 29"er testing, and did a lot of after work rides for the same reasons. Winter was coming. The fading daylight, the feel in the air, and the Turkey Burn Ride all pointed to snow and soon.
Well, we barely got a week into December and we got not just a little dump, but we got walloped with 15 inches of snow which shut down not just the off road cycling, but just about everything. So, I turned to writing to take my mind off things. I started Gravel Grinder News to chronicle all the gravel racing/culture in the nation these days. I also did a lot of stuff on the sites I write for, getting year end stuff in order.
Finally, it always amazes me, but this time of year is when a lot of gear testing opportunities crop up and I was busy with a lot of that coming right into the end of the year. The snowing, blowing, and cold still persists, and getting to ride is really tough now. Hopefully 2010 won't continue like December has!
That's a wrap on the "Rearview For 2009". I will follow this up with an outlook for 2010 in my next post.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2009: Part III


Continuing on with Part III of the Rearview for 2009...........
July/August/September: July started out pretty mellow with the last plans for the GTDRI and figuring out whether T.I. should move its date or not. (It stayed the same by popular vote). The the GTDRI in the middle of the month came on a very cool, (by July standards), weekend and was a brutal, fun, epic event. Topped off by what might be the most intense weekend of cycling at the end of the month with the Second Fargo Adventure Ride/Rock Lake Trail ride weekend. Intense, but totally awesome! By the end of July I was being told I had taken another step up in terms of riding and fitness. Good to hear! All the riding was paying dividends, and so far 2009 was a high point in my cycling life, and it wasn't over yet!
Well, the dog days of August came and things did back off a bit. Much news of 2010 stuff was coming and test riding for Twenty Nine Inches was going along as usual. Behind the scenes I was prepping for Interbike for the first time as the "leader of the band" instead of the "hired gun" that I was just a few years earlier. Different feelings for sure! Also, I got invited to the Fisher Bikes Press Camp in Park City, Utah. I was floored!
The end of August brought up a competitive event in the Good Life Gravel Adventure. I was scheduled to stay in the D Street Hotel, and the next day I was slated to go check out the site of the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo at Potter's Pasture in Nebraska. Big weekend! So big that I only got about three hours of shut eye going into a 140 mile gravel grinder. Well, you know- that caught up to me in a big, big way on the ride. I was falling asleep on my bike!! I had heard of that before from Jeff Kerkove and his experiences at 24 hour events, but I didn't quite believe it really could happen. I'm here to tell ya. YES. It can happen!
Then to top that all off, MG and I, (MG comes up an awful lot in this tale of 2009, did ya notice that? In a good way, mind you.), well we took off for Brady, Nebraska and more specifically, Potter's Pasture that very night after the GLGA. Good thing Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey gifted us that case of Red Bull Cola. Man! Crack cocaine in a can! That stuff roolz! Anyway........we got there, how I can't quite recall!
The Potter's Crew was awesome, the trails were surreal, and the time spent there way, way too short. Then I had to travel all day and into the night to get home. What a wild, great weekend.
So after that it was a short ten days to fly out to Utah and partake of some fine Fisher 29"ers, meet some outstanding racers, company wonks, and media peeps, and suffer in the thin mountain air. Yeah, I got my reality check in terms of fitness when I went there! I was hangin' on to the back for dear life. So much for "taking the next step" in my fitness and riding skills! Oh well! It was fun none the less, if not a wee bit humbling.
Then right back at it to Nevada and Interbike. This time I kept it to three days and out, which worked great from a work standpoint, although socially it was pretty devastating. No nights on the town for me! No free beer at the end of show days. No schwag bags. But staying in Vegas any longer than three days isn't very appealing to me. Not at all! Maybe its just me, but it is a soul-sucking joint as far as I'm concerned. After a bit of a scare with the aircraft coming out of Chi-town, I made it home.
That closed out September and next post I'll detail out the end of a pretty amazing year.

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2009: Part III


Continuing on with Part III of the Rearview for 2009...........
July/August/September: July started out pretty mellow with the last plans for the GTDRI and figuring out whether T.I. should move its date or not. (It stayed the same by popular vote). The the GTDRI in the middle of the month came on a very cool, (by July standards), weekend and was a brutal, fun, epic event. Topped off by what might be the most intense weekend of cycling at the end of the month with the Second Fargo Adventure Ride/Rock Lake Trail ride weekend. Intense, but totally awesome! By the end of July I was being told I had taken another step up in terms of riding and fitness. Good to hear! All the riding was paying dividends, and so far 2009 was a high point in my cycling life, and it wasn't over yet!
Well, the dog days of August came and things did back off a bit. Much news of 2010 stuff was coming and test riding for Twenty Nine Inches was going along as usual. Behind the scenes I was prepping for Interbike for the first time as the "leader of the band" instead of the "hired gun" that I was just a few years earlier. Different feelings for sure! Also, I got invited to the Fisher Bikes Press Camp in Park City, Utah. I was floored!
The end of August brought up a competitive event in the Good Life Gravel Adventure. I was scheduled to stay in the D Street Hotel, and the next day I was slated to go check out the site of the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo at Potter's Pasture in Nebraska. Big weekend! So big that I only got about three hours of shut eye going into a 140 mile gravel grinder. Well, you know- that caught up to me in a big, big way on the ride. I was falling asleep on my bike!! I had heard of that before from Jeff Kerkove and his experiences at 24 hour events, but I didn't quite believe it really could happen. I'm here to tell ya. YES. It can happen!
Then to top that all off, MG and I, (MG comes up an awful lot in this tale of 2009, did ya notice that? In a good way, mind you.), well we took off for Brady, Nebraska and more specifically, Potter's Pasture that very night after the GLGA. Good thing Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey gifted us that case of Red Bull Cola. Man! Crack cocaine in a can! That stuff roolz! Anyway........we got there, how I can't quite recall!
The Potter's Crew was awesome, the trails were surreal, and the time spent there way, way too short. Then I had to travel all day and into the night to get home. What a wild, great weekend.
So after that it was a short ten days to fly out to Utah and partake of some fine Fisher 29"ers, meet some outstanding racers, company wonks, and media peeps, and suffer in the thin mountain air. Yeah, I got my reality check in terms of fitness when I went there! I was hangin' on to the back for dear life. So much for "taking the next step" in my fitness and riding skills! Oh well! It was fun none the less, if not a wee bit humbling.
Then right back at it to Nevada and Interbike. This time I kept it to three days and out, which worked great from a work standpoint, although socially it was pretty devastating. No nights on the town for me! No free beer at the end of show days. No schwag bags. But staying in Vegas any longer than three days isn't very appealing to me. Not at all! Maybe its just me, but it is a soul-sucking joint as far as I'm concerned. After a bit of a scare with the aircraft coming out of Chi-town, I made it home.
That closed out September and next post I'll detail out the end of a pretty amazing year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bike Shop Tales: Tales Of The Night

Night riding was just getting popular back in the early 90's and Advantage Cycles was on it........

Riding was getting to be a more consistent part of my life now and certainly riding with others was part of that. I wasn't, and still am not, real reliant on having to have other folks to ride with, usually due to my whacked out schedule and lack of local friends that are really into riding over the years. (Although lately this has been changing) But back then, riding with others was new to me, and was a big part of my riding at that time.

The folks at Advantage were way into riding off road, which was my preference, and they wanted to ride all the time. In light of this, they were in to night riding long before I had gotten there. Advantage had several light sets on sale and to help foster sales they set up Tuesday Night rides with Vista Light sets that you could rent for the night, or just use if you knew the right people. This helped sell a lot of Vista light sets, but it also got a lot of people into night riding and riding in general. The fact that we almost always hit Toad's Bar and Grill afterwards probably helped that along!

A side story here: It is interesting that Toad's was the choice when "Mainly Lou's" was right near the shop. Well, I came to find out that Tom and a few of the shop rats were not going into Mainly Lou's because it was a "fern bar". I didn't "get it" at first, but later on I came to understand that they meant it was a place where the local homosexual crowd hung out. Well, having been around plenty of homosexual folks in my jewelry days, I thought they were being just silly. In fact, in later years, Mainly Lou's became the preferred bar to hang out in, but Toad's has, and still does attract the lions share of cyclists. (Of course, Mainly Lou's demise a few years ago helped!)

Anyway, here we were doing weekly night rides with these hideously under-candle powered lead acid battery halogen lights, flying through some really twisty trails in the State Park, which just a year or so before had been ticketing riders for riding there. Now that the State was turning the other way, the riding, and the trail building, was taking off at a fervent pace. The lights, being what they were, helped us get into plenty of crashes. New trails helped with the crashing, since we weren't familiar with all of them yet. We had a ton of laughs, and plenty of good times.

I recall one particular ride where I was leading the group and had a rider in hot pursuit on my tail, forcing me to go harder and harder. I figured I could lose him in the really twisty turns, but he was sticking like glue. I upped the ante again, made a bit of a gap, and then....WHAM!

My front wheel washed out, and I flew off my bike to the outside of the turn trying to save it. When I landed, I hit a small sapling with my sternum, snapping it off near the base of it, and I fell with my full weight on the stump. Needless to say, I was out of breath, and motionless. The guy on my tail saw the incident in his dim lights, and to his eyes it looked like the stump had gone into my chest. He immediately jumped off his bike, leaped over to where I lay, wrapped his arms around my chest from behind and clean and jerked my entire dead body weight up to where I was standing on my feet in two seconds. Adrenaline will do that to you!

Well, I was as surprised as he was, and after I could gasp, and he understood that I wasn't impaled, we were all able to settle down and laugh, but that was a pretty tense moment there. Good times!

Night riding at Geo Wyth was and still is pretty fun, but a little back round on the park is tied into bike shops here. That is some pretty interesting history.

Next Week: Rogue Trails and Rebel Riders

Bike Shop Tales: Tales Of The Night

Night riding was just getting popular back in the early 90's and Advantage Cycles was on it........

Riding was getting to be a more consistent part of my life now and certainly riding with others was part of that. I wasn't, and still am not, real reliant on having to have other folks to ride with, usually due to my whacked out schedule and lack of local friends that are really into riding over the years. (Although lately this has been changing) But back then, riding with others was new to me, and was a big part of my riding at that time.

The folks at Advantage were way into riding off road, which was my preference, and they wanted to ride all the time. In light of this, they were in to night riding long before I had gotten there. Advantage had several light sets on sale and to help foster sales they set up Tuesday Night rides with Vista Light sets that you could rent for the night, or just use if you knew the right people. This helped sell a lot of Vista light sets, but it also got a lot of people into night riding and riding in general. The fact that we almost always hit Toad's Bar and Grill afterwards probably helped that along!

A side story here: It is interesting that Toad's was the choice when "Mainly Lou's" was right near the shop. Well, I came to find out that Tom and a few of the shop rats were not going into Mainly Lou's because it was a "fern bar". I didn't "get it" at first, but later on I came to understand that they meant it was a place where the local homosexual crowd hung out. Well, having been around plenty of homosexual folks in my jewelry days, I thought they were being just silly. In fact, in later years, Mainly Lou's became the preferred bar to hang out in, but Toad's has, and still does attract the lions share of cyclists. (Of course, Mainly Lou's demise a few years ago helped!)

Anyway, here we were doing weekly night rides with these hideously under-candle powered lead acid battery halogen lights, flying through some really twisty trails in the State Park, which just a year or so before had been ticketing riders for riding there. Now that the State was turning the other way, the riding, and the trail building, was taking off at a fervent pace. The lights, being what they were, helped us get into plenty of crashes. New trails helped with the crashing, since we weren't familiar with all of them yet. We had a ton of laughs, and plenty of good times.

I recall one particular ride where I was leading the group and had a rider in hot pursuit on my tail, forcing me to go harder and harder. I figured I could lose him in the really twisty turns, but he was sticking like glue. I upped the ante again, made a bit of a gap, and then....WHAM!

My front wheel washed out, and I flew off my bike to the outside of the turn trying to save it. When I landed, I hit a small sapling with my sternum, snapping it off near the base of it, and I fell with my full weight on the stump. Needless to say, I was out of breath, and motionless. The guy on my tail saw the incident in his dim lights, and to his eyes it looked like the stump had gone into my chest. He immediately jumped off his bike, leaped over to where I lay, wrapped his arms around my chest from behind and clean and jerked my entire dead body weight up to where I was standing on my feet in two seconds. Adrenaline will do that to you!

Well, I was as surprised as he was, and after I could gasp, and he understood that I wasn't impaled, we were all able to settle down and laugh, but that was a pretty tense moment there. Good times!

Night riding at Geo Wyth was and still is pretty fun, but a little back round on the park is tied into bike shops here. That is some pretty interesting history.

Next Week: Rogue Trails and Rebel Riders

Monday, December 28, 2009

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2009: Part II


<===Furry riffing.......
April/May/June: Boy, did things ever get crazy starting about right here in the year! First up we had the ongoing tribulations behind the scenes with what was to become of my web writing career, such as it was. It was not being resolved, and so on one hand I was planning a new website venture with an old Crooked Cog writer and on the other hand I was trying to get the Twenty Nine Inches deal done. Stacked on this was my trip to Sea Otter, planning for Dirty Kanza, and final preparations for Trans Iowa V5. I also had a family vacation to plan and my regular shop job was heating up with the weather. Cyclists were coming in with repair work which I had to stay on top of with four days of work there to do it in.
Sea Otter was bittersweet. It was my last hurrah with the old set up on Twenty Nine Inches. Tim, the former owner, was not along for the trip, and I was out on my own for the first time ever. I did get to meet up with my new contributor/web conspirator Grannygear though, so that was a highlight for sure. The Cyclist was launched with the aforementioned former Crooked Cog writer, but after a few weeks, that writer backed out due to some weirdness, and Grannygear stepped in graciously to assist. By this time I was the sole entity running Twenty Nine Inches which was a shambles on the business side, but was chugging along nicely otherwise.
Then it was Trans Iowa V5 time. That event went off really well. So well in fact that d.p. and I decided on a T.I.V6 at the finish line of T.I.V5 at the end of that event. Again, an epic time was had by all and as always, it was a special, memorable weekend for me. Things were in a bit of a slow down for a week or so now, which was a welcome thing! I got in some awesome training rides for the DK 200. I was really feeling much better about riding the full 200 miles than ever before. Even friends were commenting on my form. Well, as the event approached, I contracted a head cold and well, that about shot me in the foot.
I DNF'ed due to being sick, beating myself up in an ungodly wind, and suffering under a blistering hot sun. But after that day, we split Kansas for a friends place in Nebraska for a week and I had an incredibly good time. I rode some sweet Nebraska single track, and hooked up with my good friend, Matt Gersib for some great times. Then it was back to Iowa.
Then it was Guitar Ted Death Ride recon time, some test riding at the Camp, and general life pacing for the rest of June. The weather was fine, and summer was coming on, but it was strangely cool for this time of year. Well, the weather may have been cool-ish, but the happenings were heating up again! Next post on the Rearview for 2009 will happen on Wednesday. Stay Tuned!

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2009: Part II


<===Furry riffing.......
April/May/June: Boy, did things ever get crazy starting about right here in the year! First up we had the ongoing tribulations behind the scenes with what was to become of my web writing career, such as it was. It was not being resolved, and so on one hand I was planning a new website venture with an old Crooked Cog writer and on the other hand I was trying to get the Twenty Nine Inches deal done. Stacked on this was my trip to Sea Otter, planning for Dirty Kanza, and final preparations for Trans Iowa V5. I also had a family vacation to plan and my regular shop job was heating up with the weather. Cyclists were coming in with repair work which I had to stay on top of with four days of work there to do it in.
Sea Otter was bittersweet. It was my last hurrah with the old set up on Twenty Nine Inches. Tim, the former owner, was not along for the trip, and I was out on my own for the first time ever. I did get to meet up with my new contributor/web conspirator Grannygear though, so that was a highlight for sure. The Cyclist was launched with the aforementioned former Crooked Cog writer, but after a few weeks, that writer backed out due to some weirdness, and Grannygear stepped in graciously to assist. By this time I was the sole entity running Twenty Nine Inches which was a shambles on the business side, but was chugging along nicely otherwise.
Then it was Trans Iowa V5 time. That event went off really well. So well in fact that d.p. and I decided on a T.I.V6 at the finish line of T.I.V5 at the end of that event. Again, an epic time was had by all and as always, it was a special, memorable weekend for me. Things were in a bit of a slow down for a week or so now, which was a welcome thing! I got in some awesome training rides for the DK 200. I was really feeling much better about riding the full 200 miles than ever before. Even friends were commenting on my form. Well, as the event approached, I contracted a head cold and well, that about shot me in the foot.
I DNF'ed due to being sick, beating myself up in an ungodly wind, and suffering under a blistering hot sun. But after that day, we split Kansas for a friends place in Nebraska for a week and I had an incredibly good time. I rode some sweet Nebraska single track, and hooked up with my good friend, Matt Gersib for some great times. Then it was back to Iowa.
Then it was Guitar Ted Death Ride recon time, some test riding at the Camp, and general life pacing for the rest of June. The weather was fine, and summer was coming on, but it was strangely cool for this time of year. Well, the weather may have been cool-ish, but the happenings were heating up again! Next post on the Rearview for 2009 will happen on Wednesday. Stay Tuned!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2009


It is time again for the year end review that I've been doing on this blog for several years now. It has been a tremendous, tumultuous, and exciting 2009.
Let's get right to it........
Jan/Feb/March: The year started off in the deep freeze here and cycling was not really happening. Cycling related stuff was though, and the main thing was the announcement that I would be the head writer at Crooked Cog Network. Well, a lot changed with that. (Coming later) Also of note at the beginning of the year was the Touring Tuesdays posts, the first reference to "Gravel Grinder News", which has become its own blog now, and T.I.V5 roster and sponsorship stuff. Going into February the weather broke enough that riding commenced once again. Several muddy attempts at mountain biking, a new Raleigh Rainier, and the bike to-do at Miltown Cycles before Frost Bike happened.
When March came in we experienced several ups and downs in the weather. I got in some interesting rides on sheet ice structure from ice jams, and lots of muddy tire testing. Trans Iowa recon was done that stitched up the last loose end on the loop for T.I.V5. The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo was being planned out and lots of news was happening with that in March. A Misfit Psycles diSSent arrives for testing and also I built up a Salsa Cycles Big Mama for testing on Twenty Nine Inches.
Behind the scenes there was much wrangling about the death of the Crooked Cog Network and that was affecting me in a big, big way. It was looking more and more like I would inherit Twenty Nine Inches and the rest of the old network looked to be flotsam and jetsam, left floating in a digital sea for the foreseeable future, or killed off completely. In fact, much of the time it was teetering on the whole thing going up in smoke with no Twenty Nine Inches at all. Weirdness and stressful times for sure.
Also, I had entered, and then had to back out of CIRREM, and I entered the Dirty Kanza 200. Riding was already at an advanced state over 2008. Good stuff, but as we will see, not quite good enough for the DK 200!
Okay, that covers the first quarter of 2008. Stay tuned for the second quarter coming tomorrow.

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2009


It is time again for the year end review that I've been doing on this blog for several years now. It has been a tremendous, tumultuous, and exciting 2009.
Let's get right to it........
Jan/Feb/March: The year started off in the deep freeze here and cycling was not really happening. Cycling related stuff was though, and the main thing was the announcement that I would be the head writer at Crooked Cog Network. Well, a lot changed with that. (Coming later) Also of note at the beginning of the year was the Touring Tuesdays posts, the first reference to "Gravel Grinder News", which has become its own blog now, and T.I.V5 roster and sponsorship stuff. Going into February the weather broke enough that riding commenced once again. Several muddy attempts at mountain biking, a new Raleigh Rainier, and the bike to-do at Miltown Cycles before Frost Bike happened.
When March came in we experienced several ups and downs in the weather. I got in some interesting rides on sheet ice structure from ice jams, and lots of muddy tire testing. Trans Iowa recon was done that stitched up the last loose end on the loop for T.I.V5. The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo was being planned out and lots of news was happening with that in March. A Misfit Psycles diSSent arrives for testing and also I built up a Salsa Cycles Big Mama for testing on Twenty Nine Inches.
Behind the scenes there was much wrangling about the death of the Crooked Cog Network and that was affecting me in a big, big way. It was looking more and more like I would inherit Twenty Nine Inches and the rest of the old network looked to be flotsam and jetsam, left floating in a digital sea for the foreseeable future, or killed off completely. In fact, much of the time it was teetering on the whole thing going up in smoke with no Twenty Nine Inches at all. Weirdness and stressful times for sure.
Also, I had entered, and then had to back out of CIRREM, and I entered the Dirty Kanza 200. Riding was already at an advanced state over 2008. Good stuff, but as we will see, not quite good enough for the DK 200!
Okay, that covers the first quarter of 2008. Stay tuned for the second quarter coming tomorrow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Trans Iowa V6: Thoughts Part VIII



<===Featuring Sponsors Trek Bikes, Gary Fisher Bikes and Oakley...



Trans Iowa details are still being shaped yet. We have some good leads on motel rates and some good news being shaped in terms of the pre-race meet-up.
Let's just put it this way- The Grinnell Chamber of Commerce and specifically Sheryl Parmley, are being very, very helpful in getting us situated with some exciting stuff in terms of the pre-race and for your lodging opportunities. If you can remember it, the best way to thank these people is to buy from local merchants as much as possible when you come to town.
As for the pre-race meet up, there is going to be a check in procedure put in place. Details will be announced later, but specifically what this will do is let me know who is, and who isn't at the meet-up. This will speed up the process of the call up and bag handouts. You will be signing the release form at the time of check in, which should also help speed up the process. Finally, we may also require a head count coming into the event for the purposes of our possible pre-race meal provider.
What this means to you guys and gals is that you had better be on time at the pre-race meet-up. No late comers, no morning of the event cue sheet hand outs. Nope! If you don't check in at the pre-race, you won't be racing in T.I.V6. Once I start the meeting, that's it. The roster is going to be locked.
Don't say I didn't warn you.....
Sponsors: This week I want to spotlight a few sponsors. Oakley is going to be the main sponsor of the event this year with help from their esteemed rep- Rob Versteegh. We'll be featuring Oakley with the "Oakley O-down at The Barn", the gravel grinder for volunteers and support folks happening on Saturday the day of the event, and Oakley will be putting up prizing for the main categories that will be customized eye wear, most likely. Stay tuned for more on what Oakley is pulling out for T.I.V6.
Gary Fisher Bikes and Trek Bikes are putting forth some much needed supplies for this event in the form of number plates, course tape, and banners. The number plates are obvious, the course tape will really help us with re-routes, and planned course marking. The banners will help with marking out our check points so they are easily spotted by you riders coming in, plus we'll have some at the finish line as well. Added to this will be some as yet to be determined prizing for the event.
Important!! If there is any reason you may not make it for Trans Iowa V6 and you are aware of it between now and January 31st, It is imperative that I know as soon as possible to get Waiting List folks their chance!

The Waiting List expires on January 31st, so after that point, the roster will be allowed to shrink. The last chance for these folks is coming in just over a month, so please be considerate of that fact. Thanks!

Trans Iowa V6: Thoughts Part VIII



<===Featuring Sponsors Trek Bikes, Gary Fisher Bikes and Oakley...



Trans Iowa details are still being shaped yet. We have some good leads on motel rates and some good news being shaped in terms of the pre-race meet-up.
Let's just put it this way- The Grinnell Chamber of Commerce and specifically Sheryl Parmley, are being very, very helpful in getting us situated with some exciting stuff in terms of the pre-race and for your lodging opportunities. If you can remember it, the best way to thank these people is to buy from local merchants as much as possible when you come to town.
As for the pre-race meet up, there is going to be a check in procedure put in place. Details will be announced later, but specifically what this will do is let me know who is, and who isn't at the meet-up. This will speed up the process of the call up and bag handouts. You will be signing the release form at the time of check in, which should also help speed up the process. Finally, we may also require a head count coming into the event for the purposes of our possible pre-race meal provider.
What this means to you guys and gals is that you had better be on time at the pre-race meet-up. No late comers, no morning of the event cue sheet hand outs. Nope! If you don't check in at the pre-race, you won't be racing in T.I.V6. Once I start the meeting, that's it. The roster is going to be locked.
Don't say I didn't warn you.....
Sponsors: This week I want to spotlight a few sponsors. Oakley is going to be the main sponsor of the event this year with help from their esteemed rep- Rob Versteegh. We'll be featuring Oakley with the "Oakley O-down at The Barn", the gravel grinder for volunteers and support folks happening on Saturday the day of the event, and Oakley will be putting up prizing for the main categories that will be customized eye wear, most likely. Stay tuned for more on what Oakley is pulling out for T.I.V6.
Gary Fisher Bikes and Trek Bikes are putting forth some much needed supplies for this event in the form of number plates, course tape, and banners. The number plates are obvious, the course tape will really help us with re-routes, and planned course marking. The banners will help with marking out our check points so they are easily spotted by you riders coming in, plus we'll have some at the finish line as well. Added to this will be some as yet to be determined prizing for the event.
Important!! If there is any reason you may not make it for Trans Iowa V6 and you are aware of it between now and January 31st, It is imperative that I know as soon as possible to get Waiting List folks their chance!

The Waiting List expires on January 31st, so after that point, the roster will be allowed to shrink. The last chance for these folks is coming in just over a month, so please be considerate of that fact. Thanks!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from Guitar Ted Productions!
I hope that you all find the "reason for the season" and also that you stay safe, warm, and filled with joy this day.
I'll be back tomorrow with more 29"er non-sense, Trans Iowa thoughts, and whatever else hits my brain of import.
Have a safe and Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas from Guitar Ted Productions!
I hope that you all find the "reason for the season" and also that you stay safe, warm, and filled with joy this day.
I'll be back tomorrow with more 29"er non-sense, Trans Iowa thoughts, and whatever else hits my brain of import.
Have a safe and Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Well, I Tried......



<===Soul Cycles Dillinger- That's a big un right there it is!


So I figured it wasn't doing the blizzard thing, or the freezing rain thing, why not try going for a short ride?


Well, I needed something a bit more stable than the WTB Vulpine up front, so first a tire change was in order. It needed to happen anyway, since I was fairly certain that the sealant was all dried up in this wheel's tire. As well it should be! You see, the sealant had been in there for over a year and a half!


Yup! It was the first tubeless conversion I did using MG's "secret formula". Boy does that stuff work too! You know what? When I pulled that old tire off the DT Swiss TK 7.1 Disc rim I found a thin skin of latex that was layered over the entire inner surface of the tire and rim well. Like a latex inner tube! What that tells me is that the solution was evenly distributed throughout the wheel's inner cavity. Pretty cool stuff. And I should mention that about two months ago I could still hear sealant sloshing in that wheel, so it went dry on me only recently.


And yes, I did two wheels and the other one still has sealant sloshing inside of it. Amazing! Be that as it may, I am going to refresh it here soon. But for now, I was going for a ride. Well, after I fixed my boneheaded mistake of putting on the Geax Saguaro backwards and having it all aired up! Yeah.......back to zero, start over again!


Okay then, tire on right, held air, out for a ride. Boy! It was slick already, even with just a fine mist going. Too slick, so I had to throttle back and just plunk around. The wind was wicked! With the misty precip going sideways, it cut right to the bone. It was down right miserable. Figuring that beating myself up after doing all the car snow shoveling yesterday wouldn't be wise, I headed for the shed and parked the rig.


Well, at least I tried!

Well, I Tried......



<===Soul Cycles Dillinger- That's a big un right there it is!


So I figured it wasn't doing the blizzard thing, or the freezing rain thing, why not try going for a short ride?


Well, I needed something a bit more stable than the WTB Vulpine up front, so first a tire change was in order. It needed to happen anyway, since I was fairly certain that the sealant was all dried up in this wheel's tire. As well it should be! You see, the sealant had been in there for over a year and a half!


Yup! It was the first tubeless conversion I did using MG's "secret formula". Boy does that stuff work too! You know what? When I pulled that old tire off the DT Swiss TK 7.1 Disc rim I found a thin skin of latex that was layered over the entire inner surface of the tire and rim well. Like a latex inner tube! What that tells me is that the solution was evenly distributed throughout the wheel's inner cavity. Pretty cool stuff. And I should mention that about two months ago I could still hear sealant sloshing in that wheel, so it went dry on me only recently.


And yes, I did two wheels and the other one still has sealant sloshing inside of it. Amazing! Be that as it may, I am going to refresh it here soon. But for now, I was going for a ride. Well, after I fixed my boneheaded mistake of putting on the Geax Saguaro backwards and having it all aired up! Yeah.......back to zero, start over again!


Okay then, tire on right, held air, out for a ride. Boy! It was slick already, even with just a fine mist going. Too slick, so I had to throttle back and just plunk around. The wind was wicked! With the misty precip going sideways, it cut right to the bone. It was down right miserable. Figuring that beating myself up after doing all the car snow shoveling yesterday wouldn't be wise, I headed for the shed and parked the rig.


Well, at least I tried!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Late Wednesday Edition



<===Raleigh's upcoming limited edition XXIX 853 Reynold SS bike. (Pay no mind to that "tractor" themed rig in the back round!)


Okay, I admit it. I'm very late in posting today. Sue me! I'm off work for several days and that is going to include regular postings. Everyone needs a break now and then, ya know?
So I have been busy with digging out snow in the street out front in preparation for this big storm we're supposed to get for Christmas. Yes- I'm digging out in the street! The simple answer there is that there is a high demand for parking spots here and the snow removal system we have is.......ah...........there is a system? Yeah. Well, when the snow plow does come by, there are usually several cars parked here and well..... The berm of "car snow" has averaged two to three feet alongside the parking area, which is leaving things in worse shape than if the plows hadn't come at all.

<===Would this be a sweet gravel road rig or what? (pic from cyclingnews.com)
So given the amount of residential effort around here, (read slim and none), we are left with folks fighting for the limited spaces that did happen to get plowed out, and well, the ones I shovel out in front of my place.
So I decided to start shoveling out some spaces in front of the adjacent houses to ease up the situation. Car snow, if you are not aware, is basically snow that has been crushed into fine particles, mixed in with moisture, and added to that, grease, oil, and dirt from the underside of vehicles. The end result is a frozen concoction with a flour-like consistency that is so dense that it weighs at least four times the amount that regular snow weighs for the same volume. It also has the propensity for forming concrete-like slabs which can be next to impossible to remove if left too long in cold conditions.
Now try parking a compact car, or worse yet, a rear wheel drive car in this morass. Not pretty! So this is why I slept in late, why my back aches, and why I am writing this at mid-morning.
<===Siren Bicycles enters the drop bar centric adventure/off road touring rig market with the Sierrita frame.
Okay, now that I have that out of the way, I can tell you that tomorrow is Christmas Eve here and I might be getting a bicycle related surprise to share in the morning if the weather holds out. So if it looks like it will, I will be posting later in the morning tomorrow with that. If not, you'll see something right away in the morning, as usual.
Obviously I will be gone on Christmas, and so likely will most of you.
Until tomorrow then? Stay safe where ever you are and don't take any unnecessary risks traveling. It isn't worth the potential loss of life and limb.

Late Wednesday Edition



<===Raleigh's upcoming limited edition XXIX 853 Reynold SS bike. (Pay no mind to that "tractor" themed rig in the back round!)


Okay, I admit it. I'm very late in posting today. Sue me! I'm off work for several days and that is going to include regular postings. Everyone needs a break now and then, ya know?
So I have been busy with digging out snow in the street out front in preparation for this big storm we're supposed to get for Christmas. Yes- I'm digging out in the street! The simple answer there is that there is a high demand for parking spots here and the snow removal system we have is.......ah...........there is a system? Yeah. Well, when the snow plow does come by, there are usually several cars parked here and well..... The berm of "car snow" has averaged two to three feet alongside the parking area, which is leaving things in worse shape than if the plows hadn't come at all.

<===Would this be a sweet gravel road rig or what? (pic from cyclingnews.com)
So given the amount of residential effort around here, (read slim and none), we are left with folks fighting for the limited spaces that did happen to get plowed out, and well, the ones I shovel out in front of my place.
So I decided to start shoveling out some spaces in front of the adjacent houses to ease up the situation. Car snow, if you are not aware, is basically snow that has been crushed into fine particles, mixed in with moisture, and added to that, grease, oil, and dirt from the underside of vehicles. The end result is a frozen concoction with a flour-like consistency that is so dense that it weighs at least four times the amount that regular snow weighs for the same volume. It also has the propensity for forming concrete-like slabs which can be next to impossible to remove if left too long in cold conditions.
Now try parking a compact car, or worse yet, a rear wheel drive car in this morass. Not pretty! So this is why I slept in late, why my back aches, and why I am writing this at mid-morning.
<===Siren Bicycles enters the drop bar centric adventure/off road touring rig market with the Sierrita frame.
Okay, now that I have that out of the way, I can tell you that tomorrow is Christmas Eve here and I might be getting a bicycle related surprise to share in the morning if the weather holds out. So if it looks like it will, I will be posting later in the morning tomorrow with that. If not, you'll see something right away in the morning, as usual.
Obviously I will be gone on Christmas, and so likely will most of you.
Until tomorrow then? Stay safe where ever you are and don't take any unnecessary risks traveling. It isn't worth the potential loss of life and limb.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Drop Bars For Off Road: The Woodchipper



<===The Woodchipper in 42cm and 46cm sizes.

Well, I was able to actually lay hands on a Woodchipper and these bars are going to be pretty cool, methinks.

Of course, you have to be a drop bar for off road aficionado to appreciate the subtlties here. That said, the Woodchipper is really different.

The Woodchipper features two major points that are departures from the other off road specific drops out there. #1: Most obvious of all is the length of the extensions. They are longer then any other off road drop bar has that is available now. While longer may not be a good thing for everyone, they can be cut back, and we all know you can't make an extension longer on the others. #2: The drop section has no "slope", no "flare". The drop comes straight down from the tops, and the sweep of the extensions are how your wrists gain clearance from the bar tops on this model.



<===Here you can see how the bars have no flare. They look almost like any other road drop from this angle.

Of course there is more to these than just the obvious. The Woodchipper has minimal drop and reach, so getting an appropriate stem is easier. It also comes in two widths, a new feature in off road drop bars. The way Salsa measures these is from the drop section to drop section, so the swept extension actually adds width to the stated measurement here. Salsa will also sell these 25.4mm "Moto Ace" versions with 31.8mm "Pro Moto" versions in the two widths- 42cm and 46cm.

I'll be testing these on Twenty Nine Inches, so look for that coming up soon....

Note: This product was provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for reviewing. We are not being paid or bribed for this review. We will give our honest opinion or thoughts through out.

Drop Bars For Off Road: The Woodchipper



<===The Woodchipper in 42cm and 46cm sizes.

Well, I was able to actually lay hands on a Woodchipper and these bars are going to be pretty cool, methinks.

Of course, you have to be a drop bar for off road aficionado to appreciate the subtlties here. That said, the Woodchipper is really different.

The Woodchipper features two major points that are departures from the other off road specific drops out there. #1: Most obvious of all is the length of the extensions. They are longer then any other off road drop bar has that is available now. While longer may not be a good thing for everyone, they can be cut back, and we all know you can't make an extension longer on the others. #2: The drop section has no "slope", no "flare". The drop comes straight down from the tops, and the sweep of the extensions are how your wrists gain clearance from the bar tops on this model.



<===Here you can see how the bars have no flare. They look almost like any other road drop from this angle.

Of course there is more to these than just the obvious. The Woodchipper has minimal drop and reach, so getting an appropriate stem is easier. It also comes in two widths, a new feature in off road drop bars. The way Salsa measures these is from the drop section to drop section, so the swept extension actually adds width to the stated measurement here. Salsa will also sell these 25.4mm "Moto Ace" versions with 31.8mm "Pro Moto" versions in the two widths- 42cm and 46cm.

I'll be testing these on Twenty Nine Inches, so look for that coming up soon....

Note: This product was provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for reviewing. We are not being paid or bribed for this review. We will give our honest opinion or thoughts through out.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Trans Iowa V6: Thoughts Part VII






<====They need to do this with a gravel road in the backround, dontcha think?


Well, in the area of sponsorship, I have some really great news! Salsa Cycles stepped forward, slapped me upside the noggin, and said, "We wanna sponsor T.I.V6". (Actually, this isn't far from the truth!) So, I said yeah! They said "Yeah!" And now we're lookin' at Salsa Cycles throwin' down a frame (yet to be determined) as a prize for Trans Iowa. (Details on what exactly will be going down on this should be coming later. Like closer to the event "later". But it'll be really good!) Disclaimer: I get nuttin' outta this sponsorship other than something cool to pass on to a lucky T.I.V6 participant, so there!


Welcome aboard Salsa Cycles!


In other sponsor news we have secured some number plates, course tape, and banners from our good friends up at Trek Bicycles. There may be some more news here closer to the event, but this supply of necessities is greatly appreciated.

Thank you Trek!!

Also: Ergon has committed to being on board with some prizing, as has Banjo Brothers.

Details on their level of support will be coming closer to the event.



Thanks to Ergon and Banjo Brothers!!

Furthermore, Twin Six is onboard with Trans Iowa with some prizing. Plus Europa Cycle and Ski is also going to help out with logistics.

Thanks to Europa and T-6!!



Disclaimer: Same as the one for Salsa Cycles: It's all good for the folks coming to T.I.V6!!



There are some other sponsorship things bubbling behind the scenes. I can only say that right now we are working on some details on our Oakley sponsorship. Stay tuned for more on that as the event draws closer. But there is more...............stay tuned!

Finally, we are organizing a gravel grinder for support folks, volunteers, and curiousity seekers the Saturday of Trans Iowa. Not much in the way of solid details yet, but look for a century of limestone goodness with shorter options on tap. Perhaps a cloverleaf sort of loop in-loop out of Grinnell so you are never too far out of town. Stay tuned for more on that...........

Ride your bike this weekend or ski, or whatever. Just don't sit inside.

Trans Iowa V6: Thoughts Part VII






<====They need to do this with a gravel road in the backround, dontcha think?


Well, in the area of sponsorship, I have some really great news! Salsa Cycles stepped forward, slapped me upside the noggin, and said, "We wanna sponsor T.I.V6". (Actually, this isn't far from the truth!) So, I said yeah! They said "Yeah!" And now we're lookin' at Salsa Cycles throwin' down a frame (yet to be determined) as a prize for Trans Iowa. (Details on what exactly will be going down on this should be coming later. Like closer to the event "later". But it'll be really good!) Disclaimer: I get nuttin' outta this sponsorship other than something cool to pass on to a lucky T.I.V6 participant, so there!


Welcome aboard Salsa Cycles!


In other sponsor news we have secured some number plates, course tape, and banners from our good friends up at Trek Bicycles. There may be some more news here closer to the event, but this supply of necessities is greatly appreciated.

Thank you Trek!!

Also: Ergon has committed to being on board with some prizing, as has Banjo Brothers.

Details on their level of support will be coming closer to the event.



Thanks to Ergon and Banjo Brothers!!

Furthermore, Twin Six is onboard with Trans Iowa with some prizing. Plus Europa Cycle and Ski is also going to help out with logistics.

Thanks to Europa and T-6!!



Disclaimer: Same as the one for Salsa Cycles: It's all good for the folks coming to T.I.V6!!



There are some other sponsorship things bubbling behind the scenes. I can only say that right now we are working on some details on our Oakley sponsorship. Stay tuned for more on that as the event draws closer. But there is more...............stay tuned!

Finally, we are organizing a gravel grinder for support folks, volunteers, and curiousity seekers the Saturday of Trans Iowa. Not much in the way of solid details yet, but look for a century of limestone goodness with shorter options on tap. Perhaps a cloverleaf sort of loop in-loop out of Grinnell so you are never too far out of town. Stay tuned for more on that...........

Ride your bike this weekend or ski, or whatever. Just don't sit inside.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It's Time To Embrace The Snow



<===So whatta ya call Midnight Blue in the daytime?

So, if you can't ride much of anywhere, and there is snow everywhere, I figure it is time to embrace the snow. Live with it, love it. Yep! So I got out the cross country skis and hit the trails.

Everyone knows that XC skiing is a pretty good exercise. One thing cyclists need to remember is that it uses a few different muscles than maybe you are used to using.......if ever! Yeah.....so take it easy the first few times out. I did, and I am sure I'll be glad I did once I get out and about today.



<====Cold, blue........aluminum(?)!!! Yup!

Well, this blue beauty showed up and is going to be built up as a single speed soon for a test on Twenty Nine Inches. I have to score a crank set and bottom bracket, and then I should be good to go.

Twenty Nine Inches did a test on a Soul Cycles Dillinger before in 2008, but this is the Generation III edition, so we are taking another look at this aluminum rig. Look for more on Twenty Nine Inches soon concerning this frame, the Soul Cycles rigid fork, and the build process coming soon!

Gravel Grinder News: I'm getting a great response to this and folks are already getting me new info to put up on the site. Thanks to all who have checked it out. I hope it helps promote and grow gravel/back road type "under the radar" events all across the nation. Remember, if you have anything to share, I want to know and put it on the site. Just go to Gravel Grinder News and you will find an e-mail link in the right margin. Use it!

Speaking of gravel events: I'll have some announcements to share in my next installment of Trans Iowa V6: Thoughts...................

(Special shout out to my daughter Izabel who turns 9 today! Happy Birthday!)

Note: This product was provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for reviewing. We are not being paid or bribed for this review. We will give our honest opinion or thoughts through out.

It's Time To Embrace The Snow



<===So whatta ya call Midnight Blue in the daytime?

So, if you can't ride much of anywhere, and there is snow everywhere, I figure it is time to embrace the snow. Live with it, love it. Yep! So I got out the cross country skis and hit the trails.

Everyone knows that XC skiing is a pretty good exercise. One thing cyclists need to remember is that it uses a few different muscles than maybe you are used to using.......if ever! Yeah.....so take it easy the first few times out. I did, and I am sure I'll be glad I did once I get out and about today.



<====Cold, blue........aluminum(?)!!! Yup!

Well, this blue beauty showed up and is going to be built up as a single speed soon for a test on Twenty Nine Inches. I have to score a crank set and bottom bracket, and then I should be good to go.

Twenty Nine Inches did a test on a Soul Cycles Dillinger before in 2008, but this is the Generation III edition, so we are taking another look at this aluminum rig. Look for more on Twenty Nine Inches soon concerning this frame, the Soul Cycles rigid fork, and the build process coming soon!

Gravel Grinder News: I'm getting a great response to this and folks are already getting me new info to put up on the site. Thanks to all who have checked it out. I hope it helps promote and grow gravel/back road type "under the radar" events all across the nation. Remember, if you have anything to share, I want to know and put it on the site. Just go to Gravel Grinder News and you will find an e-mail link in the right margin. Use it!

Speaking of gravel events: I'll have some announcements to share in my next installment of Trans Iowa V6: Thoughts...................

(Special shout out to my daughter Izabel who turns 9 today! Happy Birthday!)

Note: This product was provided to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge for reviewing. We are not being paid or bribed for this review. We will give our honest opinion or thoughts through out.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Announcing "Gravel Grinder News"


Well, after seeing several requests for someplace that gave a listing of gravel road based events and races and not seeing anything really satisfying out there to recommend, I decided to take on the challenge of being the clearing house of information regarding such events with my latest blog called "Gravel Grinder News"
Check out the link and you'll see a listing on the right margin of everything I have found so far listed in a helter-skelter manner. Yes, it is hard to see anything that resembles order there, but the links all work, and you should go through each one if you visit the blog in the first place. I'm thinking you wouldn't bother going there if you weren't even a little bit interested and seeing as how no one else is doing this, (as far as I can find), you will just have to put up with my randomness!
You will find an e-mail link there to feed me with any news regarding events, questions you may have, or even if you are hosting a training ride for one of the listed events. I want to also be available to point out results, reports, or anything that is related to the said events listed.
So, let me know what you think here, (cause comments are turned off at Gravel Grinder News) and I hope you enjoy the blog and find it useful.

Announcing "Gravel Grinder News"


Well, after seeing several requests for someplace that gave a listing of gravel road based events and races and not seeing anything really satisfying out there to recommend, I decided to take on the challenge of being the clearing house of information regarding such events with my latest blog called "Gravel Grinder News"
Check out the link and you'll see a listing on the right margin of everything I have found so far listed in a helter-skelter manner. Yes, it is hard to see anything that resembles order there, but the links all work, and you should go through each one if you visit the blog in the first place. I'm thinking you wouldn't bother going there if you weren't even a little bit interested and seeing as how no one else is doing this, (as far as I can find), you will just have to put up with my randomness!
You will find an e-mail link there to feed me with any news regarding events, questions you may have, or even if you are hosting a training ride for one of the listed events. I want to also be available to point out results, reports, or anything that is related to the said events listed.
So, let me know what you think here, (cause comments are turned off at Gravel Grinder News) and I hope you enjoy the blog and find it useful.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bike Shop Tales: Learning Curve

The stint at Campus Cycles being over, it was time for some "real" training to commence.....

Now that spring was coming it was time for me to learn a thing or three about wrenching on bicycles. Tom spent a lot of time with me going over how to do things. He even taught me some good "tricks of the trade" along with some philosophy on the business side of repair work. A lot of it I picked up on fairly quickly. I had taken auto mechanics in high school and had been selected to take part in a mechanics contest back then. So, I guess I had an aptitude for such things.

I remember in particular though that I was a bit intimidated by working on wheels. Tom eased my mind by telling me in plain terms what was going on with a wheel and then had me doing several exercises in wheel repair, truing, and building wheels that built up my confidence. I thought I was ready for any wheel by the time Tom was done with me. However; there is a bit more to it than just the knowledge and skill. There is a time and place for applying that skill, and I hadn't learned that lesson yet.

One day, while doing a repair job on a low end department store bike, Tom saw me futzing with the wheel, trying to get it to be really straight. He sauntered over and said something to the effect of, "Ya know, that ain't a $3000.00 XTR rig you're working on there. Ya know that, right?" Point taken. I understood that to make a buck, you had to know how far to go with the equipment you were working on. Tom also pointed out how trying to get cheap, poorly made and designed bicycle components tuned up was going to be a matter of knowing what it took to get it functional not necessarily perfect. A fine distinction there and one I appreciate to this day.

Things like that and more were imparted to me over the period of the next month or two before the season really kicked in and we got busy. Tom wanted to make sure I was adept at basic tune ups and building bikes before that happened. Was he successful? Well......I guess so. I'm not the one to ask that of though. All I know is I was happy to be learning new things and being surrounded by bikes was cool.

Next week: The Atmosphere...........

Bike Shop Tales: Learning Curve

The stint at Campus Cycles being over, it was time for some "real" training to commence.....

Now that spring was coming it was time for me to learn a thing or three about wrenching on bicycles. Tom spent a lot of time with me going over how to do things. He even taught me some good "tricks of the trade" along with some philosophy on the business side of repair work. A lot of it I picked up on fairly quickly. I had taken auto mechanics in high school and had been selected to take part in a mechanics contest back then. So, I guess I had an aptitude for such things.

I remember in particular though that I was a bit intimidated by working on wheels. Tom eased my mind by telling me in plain terms what was going on with a wheel and then had me doing several exercises in wheel repair, truing, and building wheels that built up my confidence. I thought I was ready for any wheel by the time Tom was done with me. However; there is a bit more to it than just the knowledge and skill. There is a time and place for applying that skill, and I hadn't learned that lesson yet.

One day, while doing a repair job on a low end department store bike, Tom saw me futzing with the wheel, trying to get it to be really straight. He sauntered over and said something to the effect of, "Ya know, that ain't a $3000.00 XTR rig you're working on there. Ya know that, right?" Point taken. I understood that to make a buck, you had to know how far to go with the equipment you were working on. Tom also pointed out how trying to get cheap, poorly made and designed bicycle components tuned up was going to be a matter of knowing what it took to get it functional not necessarily perfect. A fine distinction there and one I appreciate to this day.

Things like that and more were imparted to me over the period of the next month or two before the season really kicked in and we got busy. Tom wanted to make sure I was adept at basic tune ups and building bikes before that happened. Was he successful? Well......I guess so. I'm not the one to ask that of though. All I know is I was happy to be learning new things and being surrounded by bikes was cool.

Next week: The Atmosphere...........

Monday, December 14, 2009

When Life Throws A Snowball At You......


Since we have been inundated with snow, finding anywhere to ride a bike has been pretty tough. 15 inches of fluff doesn't lend itself to be plowed through on two wheels. Even if you have a "fat bike". Snow machines? Bah! Most folks sold theirs off in the ten years of mostly brown winters around here. Not much of that going on round these parts anymore.

So I decided Saturday to make tracks of another kind. My son and I went sledding at the local dike. It's where everyone in this part of the city goes to get their slide on. I even take turns flying down the hill, to the amusement of the kids and the puzzlement of their parents, who mostly are standing on top of the dike trying to stay warm.

My son was up to his thighs walking up the hill, so after about an hour he was struggling to still stand up, but not wanting to go home. I remember feeling that way a few times. Even on some bicycle rides!

Well, that was fun, but it wasn't a bicycle ride either. So I stuck on the wheel set with the Salsa Gordo rims on my El Mariachi and shod it with the WTB Kodiaks front and rear. I ran really low pressure, (probably just over 10psi) and went for an urban ride. It is the only place that is really plowed out, and the sidewalks downtown are very good for staying out of harms way. I found out as it began to grow dark that the primo riding, (for now) is in the alleyways. Nice, grippy, packed snow was fast. There were snow banks to blast through, and sugar snow to plow through, if you could. I ran by some kids sliding down a huge pile of plowed snow. They asked me why I was riding my bike in winter.

I said, "Why not?"

When Life throws you a snowball, make the best of what you got.
On another note- I got a look at XXC Mag's fifth issue and all I can say is "Whoa!" That Jason Mahokey has raised the bar some more with that effort. I "e-paged" through it and the level of professionalism with the over all feel is high, in my opinion, and I've been looking at bicycling oriented media since 1990. The stories are great to boot. You get to see a glimpse of the endurance racer's mindset, especially with the interviews of Eszter Horanyi and Jeremiah Bishop. Even Lincolnite Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey has a write up in there.
XXC used to be a free download, but now there is a nominal charge for it. I would submit that it is well worth it. For the "real-ness" of the reading that is on tap there, you just can not find anything better, especially for endurance freaks. Add to this the excellent contributing photogs and Jason's expert editing and it makes me want to have this in a paper format to look at anywhere/anytime. That's not a knock on Jason or XXC. No- that's a compliment to how good this has gotten in five issues. I have read that Jason is contemplating a move to a "real" paper version someday. I sure hope it gets there.
At any rate- go check it out. Highly recommended reading/viewing there.

When Life Throws A Snowball At You......


Since we have been inundated with snow, finding anywhere to ride a bike has been pretty tough. 15 inches of fluff doesn't lend itself to be plowed through on two wheels. Even if you have a "fat bike". Snow machines? Bah! Most folks sold theirs off in the ten years of mostly brown winters around here. Not much of that going on round these parts anymore.

So I decided Saturday to make tracks of another kind. My son and I went sledding at the local dike. It's where everyone in this part of the city goes to get their slide on. I even take turns flying down the hill, to the amusement of the kids and the puzzlement of their parents, who mostly are standing on top of the dike trying to stay warm.

My son was up to his thighs walking up the hill, so after about an hour he was struggling to still stand up, but not wanting to go home. I remember feeling that way a few times. Even on some bicycle rides!

Well, that was fun, but it wasn't a bicycle ride either. So I stuck on the wheel set with the Salsa Gordo rims on my El Mariachi and shod it with the WTB Kodiaks front and rear. I ran really low pressure, (probably just over 10psi) and went for an urban ride. It is the only place that is really plowed out, and the sidewalks downtown are very good for staying out of harms way. I found out as it began to grow dark that the primo riding, (for now) is in the alleyways. Nice, grippy, packed snow was fast. There were snow banks to blast through, and sugar snow to plow through, if you could. I ran by some kids sliding down a huge pile of plowed snow. They asked me why I was riding my bike in winter.

I said, "Why not?"

When Life throws you a snowball, make the best of what you got.
On another note- I got a look at XXC Mag's fifth issue and all I can say is "Whoa!" That Jason Mahokey has raised the bar some more with that effort. I "e-paged" through it and the level of professionalism with the over all feel is high, in my opinion, and I've been looking at bicycling oriented media since 1990. The stories are great to boot. You get to see a glimpse of the endurance racer's mindset, especially with the interviews of Eszter Horanyi and Jeremiah Bishop. Even Lincolnite Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey has a write up in there.
XXC used to be a free download, but now there is a nominal charge for it. I would submit that it is well worth it. For the "real-ness" of the reading that is on tap there, you just can not find anything better, especially for endurance freaks. Add to this the excellent contributing photogs and Jason's expert editing and it makes me want to have this in a paper format to look at anywhere/anytime. That's not a knock on Jason or XXC. No- that's a compliment to how good this has gotten in five issues. I have read that Jason is contemplating a move to a "real" paper version someday. I sure hope it gets there.
At any rate- go check it out. Highly recommended reading/viewing there.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Trans Iowa V6 Thoughts: The Winning Bike Of T.I.V5


<====The bike that won Trans Iowa V5
It has been a long time since I felt it was okay to post this picture of the winning bike from Trans Iowa V5. The reason was pretty obvious back on that early May day.
d.p. and I were doing our usual running around, following the leaders of the event, when we made it over to North English and stopped at a convenience store. I remember how bright the sun was and how cool and crisp the air was. It seemed like it was taking an eternity for the riders to show up.
When they did, Joe Meiser was amongst them. Knowing that Joe does a lot of work on Salsa Cycles stuff, I was keen on seeing what it was he would be riding. I had been tipped off beforehand that it might be something special. Well, once he had gone inside the convenience store with the others, d.p. and I figured it out real fast.
Salsa was dabbling in titanium.
We looked in slack jawed wonder at what every bike geek recognizes as the magic grey hue that is titanium and began to speculate, take pictures, and wonder about what was plainly a prototype bike. Of course, that was all forgotten in a snap once the riders came back outside and the chaos of Tim Ek's arrival on the scene drove the bike completely out of our minds.
It wasn't until much later that I came to realize that I probably shouldn't post the pics of the bike. It was a courtesy I figured I ought to observe, especially since the bike ended up being the winning bike. Well, now Salsa has let on that they are doing a titanium El Mariachi, so now that the cat is out of the bag, I thought I'd post about the winning bike from T.I.V5.
It's pretty cool to check out all the different rigs folks use on Trans Iowa events. Everybody has their own take on what is the perfect gravel grinder. Now you never know- you might be looking at a working prototype rig at T.I.V6. It is humbling to think that this little ol' event is worthy of testing future products that cyclists will benefit from later on.
Winter is in full swing now, but that just means I'll have a bit more time to think about T.I.V6. I will be planning, and we'll be out scrounging around on Iowa back roads every chance we get. Stay tuned for more Trans Iowa V6 thoughts in the coming weeks.