Monday, May 31, 2010

Weekend Report

<===Making hay in Iowa

This weekend I wanted to put in a moderately tough ride in order to do two things. First I wanted to do a last ride on a test bike for Twenty Nine Inches.  Secondly, I wanted to get in some moderate training for the Dirty Kanza 200 this coming weekend.

Well, I didn't get much of a ride, since my back started twinging and sending me signals that it "wasn't happy" with my hard efforts of late. So, I wisely shut it down and went into "rest mode" to give it a break before the event. I'll probably do a light ride or two now in the early part of the week with the full kit to work out any last minute details and then rest, rest, rest!

I did get to play at my church this weekend, which went really well. I dug out the old Hamer Blitz, (check out a similar guitar to mine here) Mine is like the white one shown at the top of the page in the link, but mine is an '84, the trem has been blocked, and mine has a half white/half black paint job with the dividing line between the colors running diagonally from the upper bass side bout down to the lower treble side bout, basically dissecting the pointy bits! (You can see all my guitars in this 2005 photo here)

So anyway, that was fun, and I hadn't played that guitar for a while, so I'd forgotten how well it can sound.

The rest of the day Sunday was pretty mellow with a game of catch with my son, and then just kicking back and relaxing. Tomorrow I want to do the aforementioned ride and then who knows what. I'll probably obsess over what to take down to Kansas for the weekend!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dirty Kanza 200 Training Log: Another Night Time Adventure

First off, I'm sorry there are no images to go along with this. There were some great opportunities, but I have the wrong camera for them. So, you'll have to deal with that!

d.p. suggested we go to Toledo and head east from that point. So I made the trek down and we were off and running before 9pm. The sun was setting in the West, but we were watching an awesome moon-rise in the east. The ride out of town was nice and relaxed on some rolling hills. We hit up the ridge road going southeastwards that we used for T.I.V5 and went down some rollers and gently up the other side. d.p. then stopped and suggested riding up Q Avenue. Well, Q Avenue has some really steep pitches. One right after another. Then we hit a T intersection and turned left, heading back westwards. We were still going up and down some very hilly terrain until we hit a forced left hander and then down a really steep hill where we turned right.

Now here is where it got weird. We were on the exact same road we were on coming out of town, but we didn't recognize it. Toledo is hidden from view until you are right on top of it, so we had no idea we were so close. We found a road, and thinking we were still north and east of Toledo, instead of directly east, we turned southwards. It wasn't too far until we found a barricaded road, and being curious, we went around it. The road looked as though it had just been made. We were a bit perplexed, but we were going downhill, so we just went with it. Then the gravel suddenly disappeared and the road went to smooth dirt. Then the road got so wide we couldn't see the edges of it. We realized we were in a construction zone and we guessed we were in the vicinity of the new Highway 30 re-route. But where had we crossed the road we went out on? d.p. guessed rightly that we had been on it, but this was still odd.

Then we crossed over the new four lane on an incomplete concrete overpass, then back to dirt. All the while we are coasting, still going downhill. Then suddenly the dirt ended in weeds. We stopped, blinked, looked around, and suddenly realize we were about 30 yards from Highway 30. (The soon to be old highway)

We hike-a-biked down the embankment to the shoulder and road two miles past Tama and back into Toledo from the south! Boy, was I turned around! I didn't see what we had done until I got back to the house afterward and checked out a map.

It was fun and getting slightly lost was a good time. Well, since it turned out well and all!

Hopefully on this Memorial Day Weekend you'll stop to remember a soldier, airman, seaman, or other serviceman or women that has sacrificed so we can go get lost on our bikes this weekend and whenever we want to. Go for a ride, and be thankful we're free to do these nutty things on bikes that we do!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thursday News And Views

<====My patient subject poses on the Cedar Bend Trail.                                                     XXC Magazine Issue #7: I was informed that I had better download the latest issue of XXC Mag and boy, am I glad I did! Check out what you can get here, but you can check out a great recap of T.I.V6 there by Corey "Cornbread" Godfrey and a great write up concerning another gravel grinder classic, Barry Roubaix. Plus a bunch-o-other stuff! XXC just keeps getting better and still manages to escape that slick, sanctioned event aftertaste! In fact, it goes down pretty smooth, like a finely crafted home brew should. Check it out and either download a copy or order up a printed version. XXC is put out by Jason Mahokey, he of Soiled Chamois fame, and it is pretty obvious that these events and what they represent are close to his heart.

<===It's not single track, it's "Jungle Track"!

Abandoning The Green Belt: Yup! It is getting time to leave the Green Belt to the grasses of summer and the ever present mosquitoes and other biting insects. I took a short jaunt through there today and it was about choked off already in several places and of course, the mosquitoes have hatched, and they were wreaking havoc on every stop. Which there were many of due to the copious amounts of fine sand that have recently been deposited in the trail system.  See ya in the fall when the grasses have died off and the leaves are falling!

<==How To Make A Twin Six Metal Team Kit Look Bad: Give One To Guitar Ted!

Team Twin Six: Yeah, I'm on it again. Team Twin Six. The guys up at Twin Six World Headquarters once again deemed me worthy of stretching too little lycra over too much ghostly white flesh. So, I kitted up today and tried to not scare any campers at Cedar Bend today.

Seriously, if you want the best graphics and cool gear to wear on the bike or off it, Twin Six is where you need to source it from. The least I could do for these guys is pimp them on this site, since Lord knows I ain't gonna see a step of a podium anytime soon!

Things Are Cookin': Looks like some opportunities to write some different stuff have come my way. Still all bike related, but just a bit different than the ordinary blogging and review writing gigs I have been doing. Some of this will be forthcoming real soon, some of it will be coming later in the summer. It's exciting and fun, so I'll be talking more about this stuff in detail as the days go by.

That's it for Thursday. Have a good one, ya'all!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wednesday News And Views

<===The ditch flowers are awesome already. Get out and see the show on the gravel roads!

The Renegade Sportsman: In a few days time, the book that Trans Iowa V3 played a part in will be released to the public. "The Renegade Sportsman" by Zach Dundas will have a lot of cool, under the radar type sports stuff in it besides Trans Iowa, but interestingly, much of the book has cycling events in it. So, I can already recommend it to those folks looking for a good read this summer that has a cycling bent to it. (I'm getting a copy, so look for my review soon) Maybe you can get it for your significant other, have them read the bits about cycling, and try to get them to understand it all through Zach's eyes while you sneak away for a long ride somewhere. (Hey, don't say I didn't try to help ya out here!) Zach has been (understandably) teasing the book for the last few days before it is released and some of what he is saying about Trans Iowa is pretty flattering, really. Things like, "Readers will also find me half-naked on the side of an Iowa backroad at 4 o'clock in the morning, semi-insane with sleep deprivation and waiting for the leaders of the brutal Trans-Iowa endurance cycling race." (quoted from The Huffington Post) and this: "In deepest, darkest Iowa, I tracked the inspiring and insane Trans-Iowa endurance race, a 300+-mile amateur exorcism of cycling’s Lance Armstrong-ish demons.", as he describes what is in the book.

And Speaking Of Lance.... Of course, last week the "news" hit about Floyd and all the accusations. Interestingly there were convincing arguments on both sides. Look, I don't have a horse in this race, so I don't really care one way or the other, but the fear that I see when I read things like, "if Lance goes down, so will professional cycling...", well...... That's just plain rediculous. I mean, he isn't that big a deal, is he? And if profesional cycling's fate is tied to one man's fate, there is a huge problem. I don't for one second think that is the case at all, at least in a world-wide sense. So what if he is guilty. I mean, how many dopers does it take to make a sport look laughable? In my opinion, it's been that way for several years now. What is "one more" going to do, or if he isn't guilty, then what difference does that make? Lance Armstrong may or may not have doped, but there is enough goofiness going on without adding him into the pile that it really doesn't change the fact that pro road racing is screwy. And that's a fact. 

In The "They Said It Couldn't Be Done" File: I am seeing some very interesting things in the 29"er world in the last year or so. No, not carbon fiber single speeds! (Although that has some sick attraction for me, I'll admit) No, I am talking about longer travel 29"er forks and bikes. I won't say, "I told ya so", but this is something I figured would happen sooner or later despite the naysayers. And there were plenty of naysayers! (Still are) The thing is, quietly, almost without fanfare, bigger tires, rims, and forks are out. Now. You don't have to wait for "someday". Why would anyone try to make this happen with 29 inch wheels? Well, that's a great question that I am hoping to get answered in a few days here. Look, most folks probably do not need or want a seven or eight inch travel front and rear bike with 29"er wheels, but that day is coming, and 5.5 inches is already here. Some folks are stoked about it.  I hope to find out more about where this is going and why, so stay tuned for that.

Gearing Up: I have been doing some experimenting with using a bigger/tougher gear on the gravel grinding single speed. Interestingly enough, I am finding I am okay with something much tougher than I would have given myself credit for, even on steep, hilly terrain. Maybe I have a bit of Jan Ullrich in me or something.................naaah! Who am I kidding! But I am thinking I am better off pushing a big gear than spinning a small one out on the gravels. I have done a 55.48" to as high as a little over 61" with good success. These all on very hilly courses and without having to walk a hill. With big 29"er rubber, no less. Knees have been okay with it too. Hmm............. Funny thing is, I could never approach that high a gear inch off road! Nope! I like spinning there and typically am under 50". Singlespeeders- We're an odd sort! ( least I am!)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Las Vegas Interbike 1996: Part III

More tales from I-Bike 1996............

The Interbike goings on for 1996 were to be something special. Schwinn was holding its 100th Birthday Party with a parade of "Elvis Impersonators", one for every year they were around. I remember watching them march in to the Las Vegas Convention Center and it was rather like a circus. Father Guido Sarducci, of Saturday Night Live fame, was the leader and once the parade was over, the good father gave a speech. It was not much like what I would have expected a bicycle show to be, but this was in Las Vegas, afterall!

Afterwards, the GT Airshow was up. I just love the half pipe madness and skills of the 20"er riders. I don't get too pumped up about things in general, but those Airshow freaks get me going everytime. Too bad I couldn't have watched an Airshow before each one of my highschool football games!

Then there was a few guys that took Schwinn Orange Krate 20"ers with the sissy bars, high rise handle bars, and all on the halfpipe! It was pretty cool to see how far the riders were willing to take things on these sketchy rigs.

Finally, there was a trials show and for the life of me, I can not remember who the rider was, but he was incredible! The guy could straight bunny hop from the ground to the hood of a car and then in one continous motion would ride up onto the roof of the car and wheelie hop back down to the ground. I guess by now everyone has seen this stuff on You Tube or wherever, but try and recall that back in 1996, there weren't such luxuries. To be able to see this live was a real treat then. Maybe ho-hum nowadays, I suppose.

I suppose there were bicycles to be seen there as well, but I really do not remember many. The activities surrounding the show, and the nightlife were more memorable for me. The most memorable story actually came on the last night we were there.

Tom was insistent that I was going to gamble while we were there. I insisted that I would rather set my money on fire than gamble. So, the last evening we were in the Imperial's gaming room, and Tom was hitting the one armed bandits again. He looked at me, shoved a 20 in my hand and said, "Now go gamble!" I figured it wasn't my money, and that I should appease him, so I relented. I picked a likely machine and wished that I would blow through the 20 spot so I could get this over with. I figured it wouldn't take all that long. Tom had scurried off to another "hot" machine, and left me to my business.

Bing! KaChing! Boop! Boop! Boop! kaaaaachinnnggg! I had hit a jackpot. Oh crap! Now I had more money to blow through! Tom came rushing over, unable to contain himself, or form a coherent sentence. I looked at him and he scooped a bunch of the chips up and scurried away again like a child with stolen cookies. Meh! Well, at least I could just cash out what was left and not blow it in these stupid machines. I had a few quarters left too, so I went to another machine and sat down. Well, wouldn't ya know it, but I struck a small jackpot on that machine too. Probably within five minutes of getting the first one. Tom came over again, wanting to pick up the chips.

I said, "Wait a minute, didn't you just have a handfull?"
Tom replied, "Yeah, yeah, but they're all gone now, and...."
Whoa dude! I stopped him, said to him, ""Look, we've got about a hundred and fifty left, right? Let's go over to the bar, get a couple of beers, and we'll take the rest home, okay?"

Tom agreed. And you know what? We had the best time talking and hanging out on that night that I ever had with him. That's one of my chief memories of Tom right there, and how I knew that deep down inside, here was a really cool, nice man.

The next day we hit up a cheapo-buffet for breakfast and hit the airport for that doomed plane ride home. (Or so I thought) I recall when they closed the airway behind us, I said to Tom, "Do you hear that?" Tom replied with, "What? I don't hear anything." I said, "Exactly!" No more gambling machines.

Silence is truly golden!

And as we came back into Cedar Falls, I recall the gold, orange, and red of the leaves as we flew over the city. Somehow I knew there was an ending coming. More than the end of this trip. Something bigger was about to end. A change, like the change of seasons.

I was right about that on so many levels...............

Next Week: So, do you go on RAGBRAI?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dirty Kanza 200 Training Log: Wind!

Saturday d.p. and I planned a big ride on some awesome Jasper County roads. Originally, we were going to use some of the T.I.V6 course that never got used in the event, and that d.p. hadn't laid eyes on yet.  Things were left open for discussion, and we only agreed to meet in Grinnell for an early breakfast before heading out. The ride started at 7am. The first thing we saw that was cool was this old Grange north of Grinnell.

We only had one B Road on the whole route today, but it was interesting in that there was a bridge that was blocked off due to massive errosion around the bridge pilings. Still, we crossed safely. The counties are so poor with regards to road funds that we doubt this bridge will ever get fixed. Too bad! It was a cool B road.

Not long afterwards we came up on this masive line of cottonwood trees on a hill top. The wind was starting to pick up by now and this southward stretch was taxing us, so d.p. felt I ought to take a photo or two of these massive giants and we could also catch a breather.

Here is a picture of the largest of the bunch. Check out my bike at the foot of this behemoth! The top of the tree I couldn't get into the photo, (I was standing in the far ditch as it was!) and I can't show you how the top of this old giant is shattered from a past lightning strike. Yet it still lives. Awesome stuff, but I admit, I have a thing for trees!

I wanted to show d.p. a certain section where I thought the T.I.V6 course had an awesome view and some killer hilly roads. Here's a view from that part. This goes on much further than my camera had a view for. Those are cattle on the far hilside, for reference. It is a beautiful valley and the view is like looking at a live Grant Wood painting. Pretty cool.

We also rolled through Baxter, Iowa, the home of the late Phil Wood, he of bicycling fame and lore. Lots of cyclists roll components with his signature on them. This was his home in Baxter after he sold the company.

Here's another one of countless farm scenes that you could take photographs of. If I stopped to take a picture of every cool scene, we'd still be out there! Speaking of still being out there, I thought the wind was going to stop us in our tracks. By this time the wind was like a 30mph constant blast. Going south was a major energy suck. Hills that would have been no big deal on a normal day turned into monsters.

Here's another Grange. It is being restored, as you can see by the gravel piles and what not. The Granger movement was instigated after the Civil War in an effort to advance the cause of agriculture and farmers in the late 19th century. Some small percentage of the Grange still exists. Here is a bit from the Wikipedia on what the Grange represents today:
"The Grange provides opportunities for individuals and families to develop to their highest potential in order to build stronger communities and states, as well as a stronger nation."

The Grange is nonpartisan, and only supports policies, never political parties or candidates. Although the Grange was originally founded to serve the interests of farmers, because of the shrinking farm population the Grange has begun to broaden its range to include a wide variety of issues, and anyone is welcome to join the Grange."

So there is a bit of Iowa history that still lives on in the countryside. As for d.p. and I, we were about to become history! The wind increased in intensity and gustiness to the point where it was getting pretty rediculous. In fact, going down the steep grades at 35-40mph was getting positively hairball! Gusts of wind would knock you sideways a few inches and the ability to keep the bike upright and calm on loose gravel at those speeds was calling out every bit of skill and courage I had. The last two descents befor hitting Highway 6 for the three mile paved run in to town were about all I could handle.

Not only were the descents increasingly dangerous, but the wind was blowing gravel dust down the roads like snow, and going into the wind was about a 5-8mph, all you could manage affair. To say we were wishing for it to all end was an understatement. But that said, it was a great day out, and we were riding bicycles.

Afterwards we repaired to a local eatery and kicked down some well deserved burgers and 1554's. I had almost reached a point where riding again sounded good after that meal. Almost!

 The bike is ready, the legs have been tested. I will do some small maintenance on the bike and just ride normally for the next week. Then I'll start kicking it down a notch in preparation for the DK 200. I'll tell ya one thing though, if it gets as crazy windy as it was here in Iowa, I'm turning around, heading back to Emporia, and drinking a beer. That kind of wind is just too much in terms of safety and fun.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Single Speed Nation

So I am looking around down in the Guitar Ted Laboratory for something the other day, and I stopped to take stock of how many single speeds I have.

Yeah, yeah.......I get to test a lot of bikes. Like the one I have pictured today, they come and they go. But I am not talking about those bikes. I'm talking about bikes I bought for myself, or ones I salvaged into single speed rigs.

I got to thinking about why that is. Why so many single speed bicycles? Well, maybe this quote from this very blog back in 2006 will help explain it.

"There are about as many reasons people ride single speed bikes as there are people. I'm not going to delve into that subject. I do it because that's what I grew up on. I never really quite got on with gears, although, for road riding, I've got the hang of it. But that's just me! "
So there ya go. I never had a geared bicycle growing up. I just pedaled harder, or walked. I suppose that is why I gravitate towards the single speed rigs. I never was in too much of a hurry, (just ask my Mom!), and doing any sort of maintenance was kind of an unknown for me back then. I mean, you had to air up the tires once a year. Then what? Well.......I did skid through my fair share of slicks!

I certainly don't do it to be cool. The single speeding cool factor has long been gone. And I was a single speeder before it was cool anyway. I don't do it to be fashionable, because well......most of my single speeds look trashy! (The Raleigh Rainier being a notable exception) I do have a fixed gear road bike, but you wouldn't ever mistake me for a "hipster". For one thing, I don't have the wardrobe, and for another, my fixie is an early 70's Raleigh Gran Prix rat-ride. Nothing at all fashionable about it. Heck, the most I spent on it was for the Miche track cog and lock ring that I run on it. Come to think of it, that is all I bought for it!

Why do I have so many single speeds? Heck.......I dunno! It just happened that way, I guess.

Sign me: Shiftless In Iowa.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Woodland Getaway

Lately I've been burdened with a lot of stress, bad news from folks I know, and well........just being too busy in general. It kind of wears on ya after awhile and I needed to get away from everything. The chance to head to The Camp was just the ticket I needed.

It didn't hurt that it was a beautiful day either!

The Camp hosted an XC race recently and had about 80 riders, so the trails were well burned in and burnished to a pristine state. Yet, as you can see here, a horse managed to tear up the surface a bit. Mountain bikes are bad for trails.

Yeah right!

Add in the steaming piles of horse dung I had to pass on three occasions to boot. I've always said that if mountain bikers pooped on the trails people would pitch a huge hissy fit. Yet somehow a basketball sized pile of horse dung is okay. Sorry, but I just don't get it. Horse people are cool, but ya'all better be cleaning up yer own "house" before ya'all go tellin' me mountain bikers are "bad" for your trails. Oh yeah, and repair yer "divots" while yer at it!

Well, anyway, I got beyond that and actually enjoyed myself out there today. When I was finished, I was piling my stuff back into the "Truck Without A Name" when a vehicle pulls in next to me with two young "not-quite-men-yet" folks inside. The guys piled out and started kitting up, so I struck up a conversation with them.

Turns out neither of the two had been out riding at The Camp before, so I gave them the low down on the procedures and how to find the trail head. Then I looked at their bikes and smiled. I didn't say anything because, well.......we all started somewhere at the beginning. The one had a mid 90's Mongoose that looked pretty spent and the other had a department store dually in not much better shape.

As I pulled out of the lot, I imagined the two biffing and bailing, and dabbing their way through Broken Finger, arguably the toughest little section of trail anywhere in the state, and how much of an adventure they would have doing it. I thought about how they might be intimidated by that section, and how they would perhaps never forget that ride.

Good times!

I went home satisfied and relaxed. It was good to get away for a bit, but that lawn needed mowing, and it wasn't getting any shorter!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There's A New Drop Bar (Almost) In Town

<==The Singular Cycles Gryphon with Woodchippers.

Recently I finished up the review for the Woodchipper Bar from Salsa Cycles. I really like this handlebar and while it won't replace my Midge Bar on the Fargo, (because everything is perfecto on that bike, and I don't want to change a thing), I will be using the Woodchipper alot! Yes, it is that good, for those not wanting to read the review. I even bought two pair of my own, so I'm not kidding! Salsa really did a great job on this handle bar, and while not perfect, it is a great effort. I would have concurred on much of the design, had I had that opportunity. Actually, I did mention to them that the extensions needed to be tweaked a bit from the proto I saw last year, so I guess I had a wee bit of input there!
<===Image from the Ragley Bikes site of the new Luxy Bar.

There is a new drop bar for off roading coming soon though that I was asked about and had some measure of input into from the get go. Ragley Bikes, which is the brain child of former On One designer, Brant Richards, is responsible for this. Brant saw a post I made on once that listed a few things I wanted to see done in an off road specific drop bar. He asked me to draw it and send it to him. I did, and he took some of that input along with a bunch of other off road drop bar users input to come up with what he calls the "Luxy Bar" I will say up front that whatever input I had that made it through to the final version is most likely minimal, but that's the story.

I have not actually seen one of these yet, so this picture is all I really have to go on for the final production piece. What I can see here is that the hooks slope outwards more than the Woodchipper does, and I happen to know that these will be 31.8mm only and that diameter goes all the way out to the hooks before the bar sweeps forwards and down where in tapers to the traditional diameter to fit the road levers. Similar to a Woodchipper, the Luxy will also feature some sweep to the extensions which are also longer than a Midge Bar extension.

These look to have more reach than a Woodchipper does, so a shorter stem may be on tap for my purposes, but I like what I am seeing here. Hopefully I will be getting one of the first sets to check out. (One can never have too many off road drop bars!) <====Ha!

So, I am stoked to see these come out, and although they are quite different than what I had in mind, they look to be quite nice. We'll see. And maybe someday, I'll have to try out my own idea for a drop bar for giggles. I'm sure it would be a dumb idea, because, well........just look at the Luxy Bar. It's not really what I had suggested, so obviously my ideas were goofy! Much smarter people were at the controls for this bar than I, and that's a good thing!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Las Vegas Interbike 1996 Part II

More tales from the Interbike show held in 1996 in Sin City.....

Of course when you go to Las Vegas for the first time, you have to get out and check out The Strip. So, that was a high priority for us when we got there. We were staying at The Imperial, which wasn't that far from the end of The Strip............back then! In fact, they had just finished the MGM, so we thought we should check out the newest casino there, which at that time stood all by itself, for the most part. And you wouldn't believe it maybe, but we walked there!

Well, as fate would have it, Rick, the same rep that got us into the oceanside pickle we were in a year previous, was with us again. As we walked down the sidewalk that was void of buildings, we were occasionally were passed by other people with the same idea as us, going the other way. One of these people looked like a rather fanciful female. Rick quickly scooted behind Tom, and made it seem as if Tom was asking "how much for the evening?" Well, this gal was what we thought, and was much smarter than Rick gave her credit for. She called him out right on the sidewalk, much to the delight of Tom and I. She pretty much dressed him down in a serious, but fun way that made Rick cringe and turm three shades of red. Priceless!

When we reached our destination, Rick and Tom hit the blackjack tables, and finding one they could "afford", they stopped and started in to gambling. Now, I am not a gambling man, so I just stood there, watched, and soaked in the free drinks that the MGM gals were handing out. This went on for a couple of hours until they could see I wasn't going to cave in, and then we made our way out. Along the way, I saw a glass encased room, within a glass encased room, that had a long table with several well dressed men at it with an attendant behind each one. I found out that this was the "by invitation only" gambling room, and that there was a high stakes poker game going on there. Like millions of dollars poker game.


Anyway, we walked back to The Imperial, and before we reached our destination, I felt cold air surrounding me. I looked to my right to see at least 20 doors wide open and realized it was the buildings A/C coming out into the street. Holy cow! If I had just the money this place was wasting in A/C a year, I would be happy!

Needless to say, I wasn't too impressed by my first vist to Las Vegas, and things haven't improved much since!

Next Week: More Interbike Las Vegas- From The Show Floor.......

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dirty Kanza 200 Training Log: Weekend Daze

Saturday was a ride up at Cedar Bend. I was out testing a rig for the site and found out that the humididty and bugs were out in full force, turning the cool, crisp air we had been running around in into a full on summer feel. Funny thing too because just a couple days prior I was wishing I had booties on it was so cool while I was riding. I'm betting it'll be awhile before I feel that way again.

The other thing was that my legs were toast. I was feeling the fatigue of riding more with not a lot of sleep. I pretty much had to stay in plunk around mode to make the climbs and recover afterwards. It was all good though. I did some exploring, and have some ideas floating around my head that may have to be acted on someday soon.

I've been testing an Osprey Raptor 10 for The Cyclist lately. It's kind of ironic that d.p. also recently got one of the same models. So far its been working great. This is going to be part of my Dirty Kanza gear, in a departure from my past years strategy. I was trying to get all the weight off my back, and last year I did, but I discovered that I still got bit by back problems none the less, so this year is going to be a completely different set up.

Sunday I took off as a rest day. Too much running around and stressing about other stuff. So I just shut everything down for a day. Re-charge the batteries, and go at it again on Monday was my thought. I've got a big ride in the planning stages right now, and hopefully I'll be able to pull it all off and get a dry run in before going down to Kansas soon. Hopefully I can also get accustomed to this hazy air and muggy temperatures before I get there too.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Big Day On Gravel

Just wanted to give a shout out to all the guys and gals doing the Almanzo 100. The event will be starting out at 9am this morning and will be covering some awesome Southeast Minnesota gravel around the Preston-Spring Valley area. Good stuff and the stories coming out of this unprecedented field of riders should be amazing.

Gravel grinders are really beginning to become something special in the Mid-West and beyond. I know that back in 2004 when Jeff Kerkove and I cooked up Trans Iowa that the concept of racing a huge amount of miles on a point to point or loop course was an alien one to probaly 99.9% of cyclists. You can just check out Gravel Grinder News, go to the right margin, and see the number of events I have gathered there to find out just how far and wide the concept has spread.

Not only that, but now I hear that a former Trans Iowa vet has taken up doing guided tours of Colorado backroads due to an inspiration he got from Trans Iowa.

I never woulda guessed it would have gone this far, and I bet it goes even farther!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Wee Bit Of Cragganmore Under The Stars

Last week d.p. and I started to grind night time gravel, ostensibly for training for the Dirty Kanza 200, but really...........let's be totally honest here. We just enjoy riding gravel and doing it at night is fun. In fact, we plan on doing this all summer long.

So, anyway........ I made the trek down to Traer again and d.p. met me. It had rained quite a bit and the Wolf Creek was flooding. We were both a bit afraid that the gravel would be all peanut butter. We also had both noted the buffeting winds and we figured we were in for a tough night. But ya know, it didn't really matter much. We wanted to try and ride regardless.

Once we got going, the chattering began, as usual, and before we really knew it, we found out the roads were not too bad at all. In fact, they were actually dry and fast! The setting sun put on a delightful show for us as we headed westward. A couple of B Maintenance roads were avoided as they were still too wet and muddy, but we found acceptable re-routes and found the road we really wanted- K Avenue.

K Avenue is a great ride up to Ridge Road from the south. You have about three really big grunts to get up there and about four really fast, short down hills inbetween. Funny thing about it was that we both noted how much easier it was to do this bit in the dark. Weird how that works.

So we turned eastwards on Ridge Road and by this time the stars are out in force, the wind is completely gone, and d.p. and I were just about to go off the road due to our star gazing. Finally, it was just time to stop, turn off all the lights, and enjoy the scenery. The Milky way could be seen, and the stars were twinkling like I haven't seen in a long, long time. I was waiting for a troop of elves to take up singing, it was so unreal last night.

Well, we had a wee nip off the flask and then we saddled up and finished off the ride. It was awesome, and totally unexpected as far as how good the roads were and how beautiful the night was. More folks should try this gravel grinding at night. It's a good thing!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Between The Deluges, There Was A Ride

Whoa! The rain is coming in buckets and I thought that my Wednesday was going to be rained out there for awhile. Then about noon it straightened out and the radar looked good for a short jaunt in the woods near my home. So I kitted up and hit the trails.

Of course, everything was wet, muddy, and generally a mess, but the Dillinger SS was ready and had done yeoman's work in the winter already. I found the Green Belt Trail, which is positively okay to ride when it's muddy, and took off at a measured pace. It gets flooded in there so much that there is no way a bicyclist can screw up the trail, at least not for very long. As you can see above, the trail gets a fair amount of sand deposited on it, which caused one of those "Bicycling Miracles" to happen. I washed out my front tire and came to a dead halt. I dismounted, and the bike remained as you see it here. Like it had an invisible kickstand!

Okay, so here's an outflow of backwater, which happens right at this spot everytime we get too much rain. Once I plowed into this back in 1990 and lost my entire bicycle under water!

Well, it isn't that deep now, since it silted back in over the years, but it is pretty deep and the water is moving really fast here. I didn't want to risk trying to jump across because the mud here is like grease. You can barely stand, much less try to stick a landing after a jump.

So, I came up with a plan. I put the Dillinger in the rivulet parallel with the banks. I then leaned it over towards me, carefully mounted it, leaned over to the other side, and dismounted, all without getting a drop on me. I was proud of that manouever!

As I moved on I saw that the woods have reached "jungle status" already. Green everywhere you look and the weeds are nearly choking out the trails. Soon they will and the Green Belt will be left alone till the grasses begin to die out in the fall. In fact, if it had been like May today and not October temperature-wise, there would have been myriads of insects in here too. Too cold for them today, but I didn't mind their hiding.

This pool in the pic there should prove to be a great little mosquitoe factory in the coming months. That's another reason to leave the Green Belt till fall. The mosquitoes are not all that big in here, but they are so numerous that they form brown clouds of death if you dare to enter here in the summer months. Scary if you have a flat tire for sure!

Finally I reached the lake and made a slow loop around it, then I headed back home. I never did go very fast, but I didn't want to throw mud up all over me and tear things up more than I had too. I think I was successful. The thing is, it rained so hard last night that I bet all my tracks are washed away by now!

That or under water.

At least I got out for a ride, and although the weather has been fickle of late, I have been having some cool cycling adventures none the less.

Here's hoping ya'all have been getting out too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Thanks! I'll Wait For The Knock-off.

Funny thing about people. They want "the best", but they don't want to pay anything for it. Hey, I am as guilty as the next guy when it comes to this. However; I kind of get queasy when the way that you are getting "the best" is by buying a "knock-off" of someone's product.

It's one thing to get a "bro-deal", or score a product for a crazy cheap price. That's super cool, and we all aspire to that. It is the bargain hunter in us all, the way we stretch our dollars and make our hobbies and passions fit into our budgets for the necessities of life. I get that part.

But it bothers me when I see a company spend a lot of money and time to develope a product and then to have their contracted manufacturer, or another company altogether pretty much copy all the salient features of the original desgin and sell it out for peanuts. Well, I should say that it isn't the companies that are doing this that bother me. No- it is the folks voting with their dollars this way that bother's me.

I mean, how can you fault the companies that do this sort of marketing? If we as consumers don't seem to care about the "original design" and the people behind it, then the companies making the copy-cat bikes will make money. Hey- that's the whole point about being in business, making money.

I suppose there will always be those folks that just do not give a rip about supporting the folks whose ideas are being taken and sold down the river. Maybe they think the original design's makers are ripping us off, or whatever. I don't know. I don't pretend to have the answers to this snarl of an issue, but I do know it makes me feel slimy when I have done the "knock-off" product instead of the original. I guess that's my issue.

Well, I just hope we as mountain bikers utilize the information we have available and make a wiser decision. Ya know- if it weren't for the folks willing to take the initial risk, we wouldn't have more choices. I say support those folks. You can vote how you see fit.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Las Vegas Interbike 1996

In the same vein as last week, we now move on to the Interbioke show at Las Vegas in 1996......

In 1996 Tom told me I was going with him to Las Vegas to Interbike again. Who was I to argue? So it was that I found myself on another jet airplane heading to Vegas. Now, I hadn't gotten any more used to flying since the year before, so I was once again doing the white knuckle gig as we flew westward. Tom was checking out the window and said, "Hey man! Check it out! it's the Grand Canyon!"  I looked out from 30.000 plus feet and that really didn't bother me a bit, oddly enough. I mean, looking at anything from that far away just is surreal anyhow. But then, I was suddenly struck with something that my knowledge of geography brought to mind.

Grand Canyon.....Lake Mead.......30,000 plus feet......Las Vegas!  We're going down real soon real fast!! And just as that thought crossed my mind, the plane nose dived and went careening towards McCarren International Airfield. Yikes! The whole plane suddenly shuddered with a great vibration. I saw out the window that the pilot had applied the air brakes to break his free fall. I about came unglued! And it happened twice more before the pilot slammed the landing gear so hard onto McCarren's runway that I thought the wheels would surely break off. You know, the sheer terror of that flight put me off from flying for several years afterwards.

But in the meantime I was stuck in Las Vegas until the next, the last flight of my entire life. (At least that is what I thought back then) It kind of ruined the whole vibe of the trip for me because in the back of my mind I was dreading having to step onto another airplane, but it was the only way I was getting home again.

There was only one thing that ever did take my mind off the impending doom of my last ever airplane ride, and that was the ever present ding-dong, kaching,bong! of the one armed bandits that were everywhere you turned in this place. That and the screens that showed the numbers for some gambling game that I never did quite figure out while I was there.

Las Vegas was a different place back then. I know...... That sounds cliche', but it is so true. When I went back in 2007 I didn't recognize the place. (So yes, I flew in an airplane again!) It had grown so much in ten years. For instance, their was nothing beyond McCarren International back then but desert. You know, if you've been there recently, that McCarren is swallowed up in urban sprawl now. Anyway, the place was much different then, and it was definitely a snap shot in time when I was there.

Next week: More Interbike Vegas 1996............

Monday, May 10, 2010

When They Get Things Right

I went out for a test ride on Saturday over at Cedar Bend which was a lot of fun on Saturday. It was one of those rides where the bike just disappeared and my mind was focused on the trail, (and the possible trails out there!)  I'll tell ya, one of the things I can't help but notice now days is how poorly the land we get to ride on is being utilized.

<===The excellent Specialized Epic Marathon 29"er.

Too many times I see how an entire hillside is neglected, one trail running up the fall line, and that's it. We get so excited here in the Mid-West when a trail can go up that builders seem to take the fall line straight up, or a ravine, or another way that is a waste of useable space, not to mention almost always an erosion issue waiting to happen.

Cedar Bend isn't the only place. I see it in in The Camp, Ullrich Park, and down at Hickory Hills. All places that could easily have twice as much trail mileage as they do now with longer climbs and descents, and less erosion issues by far than we face now. The trails could be much more sustainable, and waaay more fun.

You might say, "Well, quit complaining and DO something about it." And that would be entirely fair to say to me. I will say that I have been putting this issue into everybody's ear that I meet that has anything to do with trail development. Trouble is that it takes a lot of concerted effort, and resources, and patience in dealing with the stewards of the land the trails are on now. And I will also say that by putting this here on my blog, I hope to bring more awareness to the issue not only locally, but wherever you are. People need help maintaining and developing trails to ride off road on. It isn't just a local Cedar Valley issue.

I also am quite busy doing all kinds of other stuff in the realm of cycling, and for this issue of local trails, I feel that I can only do so much. I wish I could quit all my jobs and just walk out there and "git er dun", but that isn't very realistic. So, I am doing what I can do. Twisting arms when I can. Putting bugs in peoples ears. Making observations while I am out riding.

One of these days I hope to see things get starightened out with the trails. To have stuff to ride on like I see in other parts of the Mid-West. When we get it right here, it'll be really good. I just hope that it gets there sooner than later.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Dirty Kanza 200: Training Log I

Okay, the next big thing on the calendar is going to be the DK 200, so for the next few Saturdays I'll be going over what I've been up to in preparation for this 200 miles of gravelly goodness.

I have been percolating some ideas on what set up I'll be running down there and I have made a big turn from my original plans. I am not quite ready to divulge what that set up will be yet, but I will say that it won't be what I rode last year, and it may really surprise a lot of folks here. Well, I think it might. Stay tuned........

I've been riding the gravel lately and things have been feeling pretty good so far. To that end I have hooked up for what I hope will be a regularly scheduled series of rides all summer with d.p. On Thursday evening we met up for the first ride in Traer and started at night. This was a great way to get some light testing in and see how I was doing with riding on gravel with the lights on.

I have the hacked up lamp I made last year for the DK 200 and it is a great "wash" type light, but it doesn't have "throw" down the road. So, I grabbed my trusty Blackburn Voyager light and used it in conjuntion with the hacked light and what do ya know? It was pretty decent. Not great, but decent enough to allow for some speedy decents without too much trepedation. I want to find a lamp/flashlight unit for my helmet though that will be better at the "throwing of light" further ahead without buying a crazy set up that costs a gazillion bucks. I just do not think it is necessary. I have been thinking about this light, which seems pretty reasonable and gets good reviews. We'll see.

Well, as far as Thursday's ride went, it was pretty fun. A couple of things of note happened. d.p. and I headed out of Traer to Ridge Road. We got out to about L Avenue when we came across a big red Dodge diesel pickup. The guy driving it was kind of acting strangely, driving very slowly and then taking off in another direction after we passed by him. Not far up L Avenue we saw some parking lights pop on just off the road. Then the headlights flashed at us a few times. (Remember, we have our bicycle lights on as it was dark) Seeing us up closer, the truck starts up and drives away after we passed. Weird! Rural drug dealers? Folks smoking grass? Waiting to "hook up" with someone? Who knows. It sure was strange though.

Then we were looking for a three mile stretch of B Road we had ridden together before. We thought we had gone far enough northward to our right hander, but we hadn't. Next thing we know, we're rolling into the backside of some little Iowa town I was unfamiliar with. Turns out we were in Dinsdale, although in the dark, I hadn't any clear idea where we were. That was kind of fun, being slightly lost.

Then d.p. and I wended our way back to P Avenue and southwards to Traer through a few sprinkles. It was all good!

We talked quite a bit about the post T.I.V6 stuff and we are bouncing ideas off each other for T.I.V7. I hope to continue these rides not only for the DK 200, but because it's a lot of fun to hang out with d.p. and ride. Next week, I hope to have another ride report for DK 200, and to have spent more time with d.p. We'll see. It's supposed to be a rainy week!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Bike Shop Horrors: Subliminal Message!

What We Have Here...  A typical Bontrager hybrid tire, by the looks of it, all innocuous and plain. nothing much to get excited over, right?

......Is Not What It Seems! Yeah. we all know "sex sells", and all that, but on a hybrid tire?

I'm sure this isn't intentional on Bontrager's part, but I thought it sure was funny!

Have a great week and get out and ride!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Domestic Duty

Today was planned to be a big riding day. Early in the day I was going to get out to the Camp and ride some bikes for testing purposes. Later on I was supposed to do some gravel training with d.p. One thing happend, the other didn't, and that all due to a happening in between the two.

I did get up to the Camp and buzzed around on the tacky trails. Even though we had rain the day before, the trails were in great shape. Of course, they'll never be in better shape due to the race being held up there this weekend. 

The weekend.............ah! That's another story, but I'll stick to this one for now. Anyway, so I have a couple of FS rigs to ride up there and what is great about Camp Ingawanis is that there are some specific features that really test a bike in certain areas of design. A twisting, steeply downhill section, for instance, that will bring out braking issues or suspension flaws. Rooty climbs, almost step ups, that test a bikes ability to grip the ground and especially tires and wheels in that vein. Off cambers that laterally load up wheels, forks, and frames, not to mention the test of a tire's grip in those situations. Big G-outs, ruts, rocks, twisty turns, and other stuff is out there, and in many cases it is isolated so you don't have to be concentrating on a lot of stuff at once. I like the Camp for that and a lot more.

The dirt was at the ultimate tacky stage where it wants to load up into a tire's lugs and make a big, sandy doughnut out of it. This is pretty tacky dirt, so if a tire can fight through that, then it gets pretty high marks from me. I also like to corner when the dirt is like this because the tire, (if it isn't all balled up in dirt), will stick like glue and you can really rail a corner. Fun! My cohort in Cali, Grannygear, says this is "Hero Dirt". Maybe it isn't quite like that here, but I'm thinking it is pretty close!

Then I got to see some wildlife. I scared up a wild turkey, and a few deer along the way. Nice to see the critters when I'm cruising down the trail.

Now about that "thing in between".! I hate doing plumbing work, but when the kitchen sink isn't working right, hear about it if you are married.  I am married, and I love my wife, so, well........I was doing some plumbing yesterday!

That took longer than I wanted it to due to the fact that I have myriads of bicycle tools and very few household tools. Those household tools get buried, and hard to find as a result. Then I had to make a trip to the hardware store, pick up the kids in the meantime, yadda, yadda....

Well, I ran out of time to meet d.p. and gravel grind. So, we're going for "take two" tonight. Hope everything works out!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


Okay, I am tired and aimless here, so I am blogging off the top of my head with no real theme here. If one emerges, it will totally be by goes!

Gravel Travel: I've been thinking of late that I need to get a "lighter" set up for gravel travels. I have been using a Fargo, and it is excellent, and I have been using various single speed 29"ers, and that is fun, but I am thinking a skinnier tire would suffice and a lighter frame would too.

Some of you are going to say, "aha! get a Vaya!", or some will say, "get a cyclo-cross bike", and some may have other suggestions. I guess I could get a Rawland Draakar, or a .........I don't know! It isn't like I need another bike, but well.........the skinnier thing is intriguing. I'll say that much, and I'd like to try that.

The night time is the right time! So tonight it begins. Night time training rides with d.p. for the upcoming Dirty Kanza 200. Well, that's what we're saying its for, but really, we just want to ride more often together. So this is a perfect excuse. I bet we do some other rides as well. Maybe even something to recon a certain event's route? Perhaps? maybe..............

It's All About The Name: When I was researching 29"ers back in the early 2000's, there were not many good choices that had a great reputation. And to even see one? Ha! Right. So I held off getting one, even though I was pretty convinced by 2002 that it was the way to go. About that time, at Interbike, a report came out that Surly was going to make a 29"er frame set and they were calling it the "Karate Monkey".

Okay, I was sold. That was, and still is the coolest name for a bicycle, ever! I got one sight unseen and it showed up in March 2003. "Campstove Green" was the name of the color. Even that was cool! I still have it and probably always will. Great bike, waaaay ahead of its time, and copied by a ton of companies. Classic in every way.

So it was that I came across a guitar amplifier company named "Three Monkeys". Whoa-ohhh! Not again! This is an awesome looking amp with an awesome name. Maybe I have something for the name "monkey", I don't know. The only problem here is that the amp costs five times as much as a Karate Monkey frame. Ouch! (By the way, the amp sounds killer too. At least from the audio files I ahve heard of it)

So Popular: Somebody has waaay too much time on their hands and decided to figure out the top, most popular blogs about cycling. Here I am listed as #29. How awesome is that! Better than #1 I would say. Well, so another guy thinks he has a better "mouse trap" for figuring out this sort of thing. He called his list the "most influential cycling blogs". Whoa! Now that sounds pretty dang serious. Better hide the children, Mildred. That Guitar Ted fellow is gunna fill thar haids wit dat big wheeled non-sense! Anyway......

Supposedly this is done in a more "scientific" manner and here you can check it out. I am #42 on that list. Well, as you can see, there is no social media evidence to back up the listing there, so I guess my "influence" is all mysterious and stuff! Who knows what the "real" reach of my influences are? Probably not much, not very far, really.

I just thought it was pretty silly. I mean.....shouldn't you be out riding your bike instead of crunching numbers? Popularity. Influence.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Bike Shop Tales: Anaheim Interbike 1995

After the hiatus for T.I.V6 coverage, I am back with quite possibly one of my favorite stories from my bike shop days.........

At the Anaheim Interbike of 1995, I was tagging along pretty closely with Tom, the bike shop owner, as I had never been to Interbike before. We were there a day or so when we ran across one of our reps, Rick. Rick was a notoriously slick dude, but he was pretty nice to Tom and I and was always up for a good time. Well, being a regional rep for several cycling related companies, Rick had an assistant along with him at the show. Rick was keen on getting out for some fun after the show closed. When he found out I had never before seen an ocean, he was insistant that the four of us were going to go get some take out and hit the beach.

So it was that a Mexican themed evening was set into motion as we got together in Rick's rental car and headed to the nearest liquor store on Beach Boulevard. We stocked up on about a case of various Mexican beers. Then a little further down we hit a Mexican resturaunt that Rick knew of that had take out. We went in and found out it was a really popular place!

The resturaunt had a long dining area that was totally packed to the gills. The only place to sit was way up by the ordering counter where there were benches for folks to wait for their take out food. Behind the counter were three cash registers and the kitchen. Inside the kitchen men were literally running to and fro, lettuce and shredded cheese flying about, and general chaotic goings on were to be witnessed. I was having fun just watching these guys rushing around and having near collisions on a near constant basis.

So while all the din of folks chattering in Spanish is going on behind me, and all the chaos of the kitchen is going on in front of me, I see a young Latino fellow grab the P.A, and in slow, sonorous broken English he says, "Nome-bear seex, yore ore-dare eeez ray-dee. Nome-bear seex!"  I thought I was going to die laughing! It was so ironic- the slow, lazy, heavily accented English against the sheer mayhem of the resturaunt. Well...........I thought it was a hoot!

So, we got this box......nay- pallet, of food, and we bugged out for the beach. We ended up at Sunset County Beach, but in the dark, we had no idea where we were at. I just knew it was dark, sandy, and I could hear the waves crashing onto the shore. A cool breeze was blowing in, and it felt nice. Little fires dotted the beach up and down the shoreline.

We ate our meals, which were excellent, and then delved into the beers. It was getting late, and we were down to the last six pack when I noticed headlights going from fire to fire on the beach. Pretty soon, a 4X4 Blazer comes up to us and shines its spotlight on us. The cops!

"Hey! What are you fellows up to?" came a demanding voice from the vehicle. Tom replied, "Ah! We're just havin' a few beers. Hangin' out. Ya know?" We held our beers up as evidence.

"Don't you boys know it's against the law to drink on a public beach?", said the officer as he exited his truck, "Let's see some ID!"

We all stood up, scrambled for our ID's and handed them over to the officer who was perusing each carefully under the beam of his D cell flashlight. "Iowa! Minnesota! Wisconsin!", he exclaimed. "You know, it's a $300.00 per person fine for drinking here, and we NEVER let anybody off." (Silent pause by the officer for dramatic effect) "But since you fellas aren't from around here, I suppose I'll just confiscate what you have left here and ask you to leave."

We agreed in a most silent, sheepish manner and shuffled off towards the car. "By the way," the officer said, "Do you guys happen to know whose rental car that is that is parked in the red zone up there?"

"Red zone?", I asked, "What does that mean?" The officer retorted back in disgust, "It's a no parking zone!" I quipped back, "Well, where we're from that's a yellow curb." "Ahhhh! Just get on outta here!", the officer raised his hands in disgust. We hurriedly complied, but when we had gotten in the car, the officer came up and apologized. He even offered up some info on a happening bar not far away from the beach.

But we looked at each other and without another word, we rolled up the windows and called it a night. We had a funny feeling we'd already burned up all our good luck. All that and I never did see the ocean that night!

Next Week: Stories from Las Vegas Interbike 1996...............

Monday, May 03, 2010

So What Do I Know?

Now that I am back from all the Trans Iowa madness, I can start talking about something else. Last week, while the rundown was being posted, I got back on my bike again. Man! Did that feel good after all the stresses of the event.

Funny thing was though that for about 4 days after T.I.V6 I would essentially shut down around 4pm in the afternoon. I would get so tired I couldn't stay awake. Weird! I also lost my voice last Monday, so maybe I was sick on top of it all. Whatever it was, by the weekend I was feeling better and not dozing off anymore. That's good, because I really don't like falling asleep in the afternoons. I've always been like that. I guess night time is the right time for sleep, for me.

<===Guitar Ted does his best Red Winged Blackbird imitation.

I was really hoping Saturday would be a nice day, since I had to get out and do my Dirty Kanza assessment. A couple of years ago I did this and found out I was woefully out of shape. I pulled the plug that year before I even went down there. Last year I was good to go, only to come down with a nasty head cold right before the event, which also was windy as all get out with temps in the 90's. No finish last year!

<====Arty Twin Six pic of bottle doing its best Red Winged Blackbird imitation.

So, I got out afterall to find out how the motor was doing. The wind, which was 20mph out of the Southwest gusting to 30mph, was right in my face to start out with. I figured I'd be smart, do the headwind thing first, tailwind thing back home. I also thought I'd just do a shorter ride. Didn't want to roach myself out of the box, since I was maybe still stressed and sick post Trans Iowa. The plan was to go a couple miles south of Hudson and "Head East" then north with the wind back to Waterloo. Okay, good plan I thought. Just one problem with that "good plan". I was on Lincoln Road, (Here's to the Lincoln Crew!), heading south and well guess what? There are no gravel roads going east two miles south of Hudson......or three miles......or four miles! Not on Lincoln Road, and not if you don't want to ride on pavement. I didn't.

<===Okay, this has nothing to do with Red Winged Blackbirds. It's just a cool picture of a country church.

Now keep in mind that I am into a headwind the whole way. Yeah......feel the burn!! Oh yeah, I was single speeding it to boot. Anyway, I finally find an Eastbound road that gets me across Highway 63 and heading back the way I wanted to go. It was Tama Road, which is just shy of the county line. Much further than I wanted to go! But....what do I know about these roads? Not much before Saturday, but much more now.  Of course, locals will know that Tama Road is paved east of 63, but I had no choice at that point, and a mile of pavement that isn't busy? pssshaw! It's all good.

Then I went into "Gnat-mode" and started taking a bunch of pictures with my point and shoot. I practiced some "Kerkove-shots", but none of them were worthy. (I need to brush up on that!) Then I stopped a few times to get some shots like the one of this babbling creek I passed by. It came right up next to the road and I could hear the water burbling as I was coming up on it. Nice!

It was a beautiful day and well......How could I not stop and take a few pictures!

<===This one came out looking like a scan of a film based image. Weird, but it came from the same camera as the others.

Anyway, I have almost no idea what I am doing, I am just pointing and shooting. So, this is no "photography buff's stuff". You should go to Gnat's blog for that, or elsewhere.

Now back to that Dirty Kanza assessment. After about 35-40 miles, (I didn't have a computer, or a working cell phone- almost a full on retro ride!), I found out I was doing okay. I felt pretty good, actually. Even after all that headwind, stopping for pictures, and whatnot, I was ahead of time cutoff status for checkpoints. A very good sign. Of course, it isn't Kansas, and things may be different then, but I figured out I was good to go for the event as long as I keep the pedal to the metal on the training.

But then again- what do I know?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Trans Iowa V6: Final Thoughts

As last weekend's Trans Iowa V6 event fades from memory and we move on, I would like to voice my thoughts coming out of this version of Trans Iowa. Some of this will be in response to reactions I have seen to the event. Some of this will be my reaction to things that happened during the event, and I will address the future a bit as well...........

Statistics: I've seen all kinds of reports varying from errant mileage for the event to various misquotes and reasons as to why we ended the event when we did. Here are the hard facts folks...........

Riders taking the start: 57. It was reported by myself and widely spread that we had 58. My fault. There were only 57 official starters for T.I.V6. Included in this were three women, one of which was part of our very first Tandem Team.

Mileage: To  Checkpoint#1- 44.18.  From Checkpoint#1 to Checkpoint#2- 87.68. From Checkpoint#2 to North English- 24.26. Total mileage covered by the final eight riders- 156.12miles. Original planned mileage for T.I.V6 was 314. Total time for those running at the end was approximately 15.5 hours

Riders In Each Section: 27 made it through Checkpoint#1. Eight made it through Checkpoint #2

"Official" Statement for ending the event: The event was called due to dangerous weather and road conditions in combination which would have put riders and the event directors at an unnecessary risk.

Concerns On T.I.V6: I had a couple of concerns, one that was not at all related to anyone in the event. Here they are...........

Last year I voiced concerns over spectating/support and I mentioned that I had a plan in mind to deal with that. Well, I implemented my plan, much to the chagrin of one individual who not only gave me plenty of"gas" about it twice during the event, but was bothering racers and also was phoning my residence and pestering my close friend who was watching my children for the weekend. Look- Trans Iowa is not a spectator sport! Never was intended as such. I make no bones about that every year I run it and to everyone who asks me about this.

I was extremely disappointed in this certain individuals actions and I have a personal challenge to this individual. I happen to know that you are quite capable as a cyclist. If you want to "cheer on" and support your rider, how about you sign up for T.I.V7 and ride with him? Otherwise, I hope not to see you again at a Trans Iowa. Nuff said.......

Next concern was the weather. Of course, we can not control that, but I want to address the lightning situation that some riders expressed concerns over. First, the situation is covered on Trans Iowa's website. Basically it says that you should take care of your own personal safety first. Of course, we would immediately shut down the event in case of severe weather, which is enforced at the checkpoints, but you are responsible for yourself! This can not be expressed enough. If you were out on a training ride, and lightning was a concern, you should do at Trans Iowa what you would do on your training ride. Whatever that is I leave up to you. We can not be your personal guardian, and we are exactly the opposite of that. You have to make the call for your own personal safety. You are there at "ground zero". We are not. Trans Iowa isn't worth your possible death. Do the smart thing.

Now as far as this year is concerned we were able to stop the event at a town which made sense to stop at. We had another bail out chance at another town up the road. As event directors we have to be careful too. But in the end, riders must control their own destinies when it comes to personal safety issues.

I also heard concerns over the truncated course and how we could call the riders at the end "finishers" of Trans Iowa V6. Well, that is a twofold answer, and I'll try to make this brief.

Trans Iowa is unique year to year. We have a different course every year, we run it somewhat differently every year, and because of this fact, Trans Iowa isn't like other races. The race for 2006 can't be compared to the race from 2009, as an example. They are completely different sets of situations, and this was intentional from the get go with Trans Iowa. The distances vary, the times vary. Sometimes we have truncated events, as in 2006 and 2008. "Winners" were declared in each case, (although it isn't widely known that Lindsey Gauld was declared the winner at 2006's T.I.) So we have a precedent set in Trans Iowa for this sort of thing.

Secondly, it is common practice at European stage races to truncate stages and delete stages all together, yet they have winners and placings regardless. We feel that we have the right to recognize great riding performances at any particlar Trans Iowa event. So we do what we do. Every year is different. Every year has its own story.

We may have a situation someday where Trans Iowa will be so truncated, or postponed/cancelled, that we will have to do something differently, but for now, this works for us and the riders we have gotten feedback from on this.

Thank You! The City of Grinnell, Iowa, The Grinnell Chamber of Commerce/Sheryl Parmley, Rob Versteegh/Oakley, Bikes To You/ Craig Cooper, The Volunteers of Trans Iowa V6, The Grinnell Steakhouse and staff, The Comfort Inn and Suites and staff, and all the wonderful riders that came out this year to race a muddy, rainy, and windy event.

Thanks To The Sponsors!: Oakley, Wilson Bicycle Consulting/Kevin Wilson, Salsa Cycles, Ergon, Twin Six/Ryan Carlson, Garmin/Gerald Hart, Hiawatha Cyclery, Epic Designs, Banjo Brothers, Gary Fisher Bikes, Trek Bikes, Guitar Ted Productions/Simple Strap/ByeKyle, Velocity U.S.A., and Europa Cycle and Ski.

Special Thanks To: The EV Malt Shop in North English and the owner/staff. You people were outstanding!

Most Valuable Person: David Pals. Couldn't do this without ya! Thank you!

That's a wrap folks. Time to move on towards other events and things for 2010. I'll just leave you with this: There will be a Trans Iowa V7 and it will be in Grinnell, Iowa................

See ya next year!