Friday, December 31, 2010

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2010: Part II

Last day of 2010 and my last chance to look back at what was. Here is the link to Part I, (if anyone out there actually cares to look!)

And You Thought You Were A Racer: Yeah- 2010 found me signing up for all kinds of stuff and with the winter not being conducive to outdoors riding coupled with my intense dislike of indoors training, well, let's just say I wasn't even close to being ready to do anything until June. Then when I went on a ride/race, it was invariably hot. No.....wait....super hot. No.....stupid hot!

But just before all of that, I snuck up to the Twin Cities and rode Battle Creek which was an amazing trail system and I got to do it with Gnat on a new Salsa Cycles El Mariachi. Pretty sweet!

At the Dirty Kanza 200 it was about 110 with the heat index figured in and it just cooked me. Big fail there. Then the Fargo Adventure Ride came up, which went lots better, but it wasn't crazy, stupid hot either. In fact, it was the only planned ride I would finish in the entire year. Moving on into July, the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational lived up to its name big time. I got fried again. August saw me tackle the Gravel World Championships course in another scorcher of a day, going 108 miles before I bailed out. I was on a single speed in that one. Whoa! It was a tough day.

Back To Bidness! Fall then came and much of my time was being spent riding around here on the local trails doing Twenty Nine Inches testing. There was Interbike, of course, which was........meh! Las Vegas.( nuff said.) But I did get to ride and hang out with Grannygear again. Too little of that going on, but at least we get to do some amount of time together. (And discovering a cool little bakery was icing on that cake<====HA!)

The Trans Iowa night time recon rides with my co-director, "d.p.", were happening in the Fall again, and these were some of the best rides I had all year. One particular solo recon ride was also a standout, as well. This was sort of a redemption for all the good, but unfinished rides of the summertime. Early October saw the Rawland Fall Tour happening, which if it wasn't for a flat tire, I would have gotten the whole ride in. Time constraints and the mechanical caused me to cut it short though. Still, it was a fantastic ride with great folks. Then, in late October, I did the Night Nonsense event, which was a gravel grinder held entirely in the dark. It also ended up being held during some of the most horrendous riding conditions you could imagine. Rain, lightning, and wind all figured into a very, very long and tortuous 80 miles for me. Quite the adventure for sure!

Then I had one last hurrah in Minnesota at Lebanon Hills and Murphy Hanrehan with my friends Gnat, Ben Witt, and Captain Bob. It actually was probably the last good shirt sleeve day of 2010 and the trails were perfecto! It was the first and only time I got to ride on those two off road trails all year. Gotta change that for 2011! Then I kept riding the local trails, right into December. It was a long, great Fall season for riding.

And those were my riding highlights for 2010. I will post my New Year's Resolution Ride Post Saturday, so I won't get into next year's plans just yet!

Have a safe, Happy New Year's celebration tonight, if you are so inclined.

Guitar Ted Productions Rearview 2010: Part II

Last day of 2010 and my last chance to look back at what was. Here is the link to Part I, (if anyone out there actually cares to look!)

And You Thought You Were A Racer: Yeah- 2010 found me signing up for all kinds of stuff and with the winter not being conducive to outdoors riding coupled with my intense dislike of indoors training, well, let's just say I wasn't even close to being ready to do anything until June. Then when I went on a ride/race, it was invariably hot. No.....wait....super hot. No.....stupid hot!

But just before all of that, I snuck up to the Twin Cities and rode Battle Creek which was an amazing trail system and I got to do it with Gnat on a new Salsa Cycles El Mariachi. Pretty sweet!

At the Dirty Kanza 200 it was about 110 with the heat index figured in and it just cooked me. Big fail there. Then the Fargo Adventure Ride came up, which went lots better, but it wasn't crazy, stupid hot either. In fact, it was the only planned ride I would finish in the entire year. Moving on into July, the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational lived up to its name big time. I got fried again. August saw me tackle the Gravel World Championships course in another scorcher of a day, going 108 miles before I bailed out. I was on a single speed in that one. Whoa! It was a tough day.

Back To Bidness! Fall then came and much of my time was being spent riding around here on the local trails doing Twenty Nine Inches testing. There was Interbike, of course, which was........meh! Las Vegas.( nuff said.) But I did get to ride and hang out with Grannygear again. Too little of that going on, but at least we get to do some amount of time together. (And discovering a cool little bakery was icing on that cake<====HA!)

The Trans Iowa night time recon rides with my co-director, "d.p.", were happening in the Fall again, and these were some of the best rides I had all year. One particular solo recon ride was also a standout, as well. This was sort of a redemption for all the good, but unfinished rides of the summertime. Early October saw the Rawland Fall Tour happening, which if it wasn't for a flat tire, I would have gotten the whole ride in. Time constraints and the mechanical caused me to cut it short though. Still, it was a fantastic ride with great folks. Then, in late October, I did the Night Nonsense event, which was a gravel grinder held entirely in the dark. It also ended up being held during some of the most horrendous riding conditions you could imagine. Rain, lightning, and wind all figured into a very, very long and tortuous 80 miles for me. Quite the adventure for sure!

Then I had one last hurrah in Minnesota at Lebanon Hills and Murphy Hanrehan with my friends Gnat, Ben Witt, and Captain Bob. It actually was probably the last good shirt sleeve day of 2010 and the trails were perfecto! It was the first and only time I got to ride on those two off road trails all year. Gotta change that for 2011! Then I kept riding the local trails, right into December. It was a long, great Fall season for riding.

And those were my riding highlights for 2010. I will post my New Year's Resolution Ride Post Saturday, so I won't get into next year's plans just yet!

Have a safe, Happy New Year's celebration tonight, if you are so inclined.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Paved Battlefield: Part III - Car Culture And Cycling

 This is Part III of the series "A Paved Battlefield". You can check out Part I here and Part II here.


In my last post I described how we as cyclists are misunderstood creatures out on the road by non-cycling Americans. That is certainly part of the problem, but there is another issue that is even more subtle and pernicious to the well being of all of us. I call it "Car Culture". Now, I admit to this not being my terminology. Lots of folks use the term, but in this discussion, "Car Culture" will be used to describe the subversive way our culture, our people, have been led to believe that "this is how life works". To help illustrate this point, I have employed a favorite little ditty of mine called "Cars", a "New Wave" and proto-tech song from 1980....................


"Here in my car
I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors
It's the only way to live
In cars "


From "Cars" by Gary Numan

Mr. Numan explains the basis for the song by saying it grew from an incident of road rage he experienced in the U.K. and says the following as well: 

"It explains how you can feel safe inside a car in the modern world... When you're in it, your whole mentality is different... It's like your own little personal empire with four wheels on it.": Gary Numan

A Personal Empire: I believe Mr. Numan has described very succinctly what has happened to us in America, and perhaps wherever automobiles are the most preferred mode of transportation. We didn't consciously buy into this way of life, it just sort of happened over the last 50-60 years. Everything got built around the automobile, and then, we got suckered into thinking that our car interiors were our own little kingdoms. We wield powers while inside of our vehicles that we would never imagine using outside of them, much less as violently as we do. Yet something odd overcomes our psyche when the car door latch snicks shut and we turn the key in the ignition. (Or push a button, as is becoming more common these days.)

Suddenly we are little dictators, with powers and wills that would frighten even Nero in his most morally bankrupt state. With no regard to courtesy, compromise, or manners, we bully our way down the road playing "chicken" with our cruise controls, racing to the first place at the stop light, and all the while, putting our lives and the lives of others at risk without a second thought. 

I used to work "for the enemy", as I refer to that time in my life nowadays. I was a car mechanic at an independantly owned four bay repair shop that arguably had the highest reputation for the best repairs in town. (Still does to this day, as a matter of fact.) Well, the point is that when I would inform someone that the car they just brought in to have checked out was in too poor a condition to drive anymore, and that they should stop driving it immediately, they would look like I just told them they had cancer and had 24 hours to live. They would freak out in some instances. I would watch as their whole existence crumbled underneath them as they wondered aloud how they could even live their life without the automobile. It was an enlightening thing for me. Cars = life in a lot of peoples minds. Simply amazing. Sick is really what it is.

The Rebel Forces: Now throw these two wheeled pests, these cyclists, out there on the pavement with this "Car Culture" that we have and you have a volatile mix just waiting for a spark to set off a fire. While the law says cyclists have a right to share the road, and slogans, programs, and more are out there trying to proselytize these motorists into compromise with "the enemy", the sad truth of the matter is that it isn't working. Heck, we can't even get motorists to get along with each other in many cases. Laws? ha! Even many cyclists don't obey the laws of the road, much less the car driving public. (Stop signs and speed limits anyone?) 

 The Long Road: It is my belief that this needs to change for all of our good. I think many people agree. The thing is, we're an impatient lot, and folks want to see this get fixed "yesterday". Obviously, that is unrealistic. I think getting things "fixed" in the next ten years is just as unrealistic. My feeling is that it took upwards of 60 years to get us where we are at, and it just might take that long to get things turned around. Hopefully I am wrong, but you know, it might just take decades. 

I think that our culture has to decide that cars are not "all that" and that we, as a people, want to see pedestrians, cyclists, mass transportation, and yes- automobiles as part of an educational system for our youth, and as a main directive for the reshaping of our infrastructure. That means some of our current culture will need to be torn down: spiritually, mentally, and physically, and re-shaped. As with any sort of change, there will be detractors, whiners, and people that will throw down some spectacular tantrums. Get ready for that part. That said, I believe it will be worth it, even if I am not here to see the end result. 

And I think that is the way we current cyclists have to look at this. We may see incremental change in our lifetimes that we can enjoy, but that should not be the "why" of this move to tear down Car Culture. It should be understood that we have to start a process to bring us out of this, and that for a better world sometime down the road for those who follow in our tire tracks.  

A Paved Battlefield: Part III - Car Culture And Cycling

 This is Part III of the series "A Paved Battlefield". You can check out Part I here and Part II here.


In my last post I described how we as cyclists are misunderstood creatures out on the road by non-cycling Americans. That is certainly part of the problem, but there is another issue that is even more subtle and pernicious to the well being of all of us. I call it "Car Culture". Now, I admit to this not being my terminology. Lots of folks use the term, but in this discussion, "Car Culture" will be used to describe the subversive way our culture, our people, have been led to believe that "this is how life works". To help illustrate this point, I have employed a favorite little ditty of mine called "Cars", a "New Wave" and proto-tech song from 1980....................


"Here in my car
I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors
It's the only way to live
In cars "


From "Cars" by Gary Numan

Mr. Numan explains the basis for the song by saying it grew from an incident of road rage he experienced in the U.K. and says the following as well: 

"It explains how you can feel safe inside a car in the modern world... When you're in it, your whole mentality is different... It's like your own little personal empire with four wheels on it.": Gary Numan

A Personal Empire: I believe Mr. Numan has described very succinctly what has happened to us in America, and perhaps wherever automobiles are the most preferred mode of transportation. We didn't consciously buy into this way of life, it just sort of happened over the last 50-60 years. Everything got built around the automobile, and then, we got suckered into thinking that our car interiors were our own little kingdoms. We wield powers while inside of our vehicles that we would never imagine using outside of them, much less as violently as we do. Yet something odd overcomes our psyche when the car door latch snicks shut and we turn the key in the ignition. (Or push a button, as is becoming more common these days.)

Suddenly we are little dictators, with powers and wills that would frighten even Nero in his most morally bankrupt state. With no regard to courtesy, compromise, or manners, we bully our way down the road playing "chicken" with our cruise controls, racing to the first place at the stop light, and all the while, putting our lives and the lives of others at risk without a second thought. 

I used to work "for the enemy", as I refer to that time in my life nowadays. I was a car mechanic at an independantly owned four bay repair shop that arguably had the highest reputation for the best repairs in town. (Still does to this day, as a matter of fact.) Well, the point is that when I would inform someone that the car they just brought in to have checked out was in too poor a condition to drive anymore, and that they should stop driving it immediately, they would look like I just told them they had cancer and had 24 hours to live. They would freak out in some instances. I would watch as their whole existence crumbled underneath them as they wondered aloud how they could even live their life without the automobile. It was an enlightening thing for me. Cars = life in a lot of peoples minds. Simply amazing. Sick is really what it is.

The Rebel Forces: Now throw these two wheeled pests, these cyclists, out there on the pavement with this "Car Culture" that we have and you have a volatile mix just waiting for a spark to set off a fire. While the law says cyclists have a right to share the road, and slogans, programs, and more are out there trying to proselytize these motorists into compromise with "the enemy", the sad truth of the matter is that it isn't working. Heck, we can't even get motorists to get along with each other in many cases. Laws? ha! Even many cyclists don't obey the laws of the road, much less the car driving public. (Stop signs and speed limits anyone?) 

 The Long Road: It is my belief that this needs to change for all of our good. I think many people agree. The thing is, we're an impatient lot, and folks want to see this get fixed "yesterday". Obviously, that is unrealistic. I think getting things "fixed" in the next ten years is just as unrealistic. My feeling is that it took upwards of 60 years to get us where we are at, and it just might take that long to get things turned around. Hopefully I am wrong, but you know, it might just take decades. 

I think that our culture has to decide that cars are not "all that" and that we, as a people, want to see pedestrians, cyclists, mass transportation, and yes- automobiles as part of an educational system for our youth, and as a main directive for the reshaping of our infrastructure. That means some of our current culture will need to be torn down: spiritually, mentally, and physically, and re-shaped. As with any sort of change, there will be detractors, whiners, and people that will throw down some spectacular tantrums. Get ready for that part. That said, I believe it will be worth it, even if I am not here to see the end result. 

And I think that is the way we current cyclists have to look at this. We may see incremental change in our lifetimes that we can enjoy, but that should not be the "why" of this move to tear down Car Culture. It should be understood that we have to start a process to bring us out of this, and that for a better world sometime down the road for those who follow in our tire tracks.  

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Paved Battlefield: Part II- Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemy: In the cycling world, we all get why we do what we do. You know, riding a bicycle, staying healthy, being more responsible with our resources, and well, let's admit it- having fun. 

 Trouble is, we're like the Amish. We know why we do what we do, like the Amish know why they do not have electricity, but the rest of the world thinks we're odd, at best, and at worst, they think we're stupid. 

I mean, look at me here (<==) This was taken last week when it was snowing on my commute to work by bicycle. If you are a cyclist, you understand, but we're a vast minority, and most people just do not get it. Like the other day, a family friend that knows me well told another friend of hers that I was out riding, in December, in the cold, while it was snowing. The guy thought he was being lied to. He told my friend, "No one rides a bicycle in this kind of weather!"

See what I mean?

Or how about this story published on "Cyclelicious" where a cyclist is harassed by two policemen, one of which is quoted as saying, ".....you shouldn’t be riding a bike in San Francisco. I don’t ride a bike here, it’s too dangerous!!” The story goes on to relate how the cyclist educated the police chief as to how and why she rode in the metro area, to help preserve her life. The police got educated. One small victory.

More Education: So, we just need to educate people better, right. Right. Absolutely correct. We need to start by realizing, like it or not, that most everyone that isn't a cyclist probably thinks we are freakish, weird, odd, possibly stupid, maybe insane, and that because of this, we don't know what is good for us. Maybe they think that we are so "out there", we can't be reached, so they may as well just treat cyclists like the idiots they are. We as cyclists need to be educated as to what the reality of our existence means out there on the roads.

Harsh? Unrealistic? Well, think about this: If a man walks into a pit full of alligators, willingly, and gets eaten alive, most of us are going to figure that this doofus had it coming, no? I mean, why would you think you could even do such a dumb thing and live, right? I believe this is exactly what most of non-cycling America thinks about cyclists on the roads and byways.

I don't mean to say that we as cyclists don't belong on the roads. I don't mean to say that what happens to cyclists at the hands of folks in automobiles is somehow excusable, or even remotely "right". I'm just saying this is probably the psychology of most non-cyclists out there. They don't understand the "why" of what we do. They have no basis for making a case for what we do as being sane, so they react to us in like manner, as if we were insane, and it goes down hill from there. To them, we are putting ourselves at unnecessary risk.

So, yes: the non-cyclist needs to be educated, but so do we. We need to understand that in many ways, we cyclists are "the enemy" in the minds of a lot of folks today. We need to accept that what we do isn't seen as something a normal person would do in society in the U.S. today, and hopefully we can change that perception for tomorrow. That will take some time.

Until then, we as cyclists should act accordingly.

Tomorrow: The Car Culture And Cycling

A Paved Battlefield: Part II- Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemy: In the cycling world, we all get why we do what we do. You know, riding a bicycle, staying healthy, being more responsible with our resources, and well, let's admit it- having fun. 

 Trouble is, we're like the Amish. We know why we do what we do, like the Amish know why they do not have electricity, but the rest of the world thinks we're odd, at best, and at worst, they think we're stupid. 

I mean, look at me here (<==) This was taken last week when it was snowing on my commute to work by bicycle. If you are a cyclist, you understand, but we're a vast minority, and most people just do not get it. Like the other day, a family friend that knows me well told another friend of hers that I was out riding, in December, in the cold, while it was snowing. The guy thought he was being lied to. He told my friend, "No one rides a bicycle in this kind of weather!"

See what I mean?

Or how about this story published on "Cyclelicious" where a cyclist is harassed by two policemen, one of which is quoted as saying, ".....you shouldn’t be riding a bike in San Francisco. I don’t ride a bike here, it’s too dangerous!!” The story goes on to relate how the cyclist educated the police chief as to how and why she rode in the metro area, to help preserve her life. The police got educated. One small victory.

More Education: So, we just need to educate people better, right. Right. Absolutely correct. We need to start by realizing, like it or not, that most everyone that isn't a cyclist probably thinks we are freakish, weird, odd, possibly stupid, maybe insane, and that because of this, we don't know what is good for us. Maybe they think that we are so "out there", we can't be reached, so they may as well just treat cyclists like the idiots they are. We as cyclists need to be educated as to what the reality of our existence means out there on the roads.

Harsh? Unrealistic? Well, think about this: If a man walks into a pit full of alligators, willingly, and gets eaten alive, most of us are going to figure that this doofus had it coming, no? I mean, why would you think you could even do such a dumb thing and live, right? I believe this is exactly what most of non-cycling America thinks about cyclists on the roads and byways.

I don't mean to say that we as cyclists don't belong on the roads. I don't mean to say that what happens to cyclists at the hands of folks in automobiles is somehow excusable, or even remotely "right". I'm just saying this is probably the psychology of most non-cyclists out there. They don't understand the "why" of what we do. They have no basis for making a case for what we do as being sane, so they react to us in like manner, as if we were insane, and it goes down hill from there. To them, we are putting ourselves at unnecessary risk.

So, yes: the non-cyclist needs to be educated, but so do we. We need to understand that in many ways, we cyclists are "the enemy" in the minds of a lot of folks today. We need to accept that what we do isn't seen as something a normal person would do in society in the U.S. today, and hopefully we can change that perception for tomorrow. That will take some time.

Until then, we as cyclists should act accordingly.

Tomorrow: The Car Culture And Cycling

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Paved Battlefield: Introduction

Special Series: I'm going to tackle a subject for at least a few posts that is complex, raises passions, and might be seen as a bit odd for this blog. But it isn't, really, if you stop and think about it. I'm talking about cars, bicycles, people, and how we all interact as users when we are riding on/in these vehicles.

To be honest, this subject was one I thought I might write a rant on and move along to something else the next day. However; it quickly became apparent that a conversation I had about car drivers versus road cyclists was going to become a much more multi-faceted subject than I had thought at the outset.

High Stakes: Recent newsworthy stories about cyclists being injured by car drivers, or even killed by car drivers, are becoming all too common. I wrote recently about a high profile case in which a driver struck and seriously injured a cyclist, then left him for dead on the side of the road. (The driver escaped felony charges which prompted much outrage and this Facebook site which exists to allow stories of this sort to be collected and discussed.) One has to wonder why there should even be a debate at all on such behavior, which shouldn't go unpunished, or even happen in the first place.

Obviously the stakes are high in this debate, and passions are hotter than a tin roof in the Texas sun when it comes to these stories. I do not claim to have the answers or the salve to sooth the damages done, but I wanted to explore this subject and offer up my take on it. I've started a dialogue with a few folks already on this topic and their thoughts will be influencing these posts as well.

The Problem Is You: Generally, in cases where lots of fingers are getting pointed outwards, there needs to be a realization that there are four other fingers pointing back at you, and those fingers belong to you. Yes, everyone has a lot to learn in this area, and we all could do well to look in the mirror and clean up our own acts first. As drivers, and as cyclists, we need to be reminding ourselves that we all have a right to live, to not be afraid as we are using the roads and streets, and that we all need to abide by rules and laws that exist on the books today. It is my belief that if we do our parts in being responsible as cyclists, we will garner more respect and have a stronger influence. That alone in itself won't solve the issues, but until cyclists get their own house in order, it will be hard to convince "the other side" that they need to change their ways.

What We Need To Do: Tomorrow, I will talk more about the issues and actions that cyclists need to understand and change in order to show other road users that we can play fairly and responsibly out on the pavement.

A Paved Battlefield: Introduction

Special Series: I'm going to tackle a subject for at least a few posts that is complex, raises passions, and might be seen as a bit odd for this blog. But it isn't, really, if you stop and think about it. I'm talking about cars, bicycles, people, and how we all interact as users when we are riding on/in these vehicles.

To be honest, this subject was one I thought I might write a rant on and move along to something else the next day. However; it quickly became apparent that a conversation I had about car drivers versus road cyclists was going to become a much more multi-faceted subject than I had thought at the outset.

High Stakes: Recent newsworthy stories about cyclists being injured by car drivers, or even killed by car drivers, are becoming all too common. I wrote recently about a high profile case in which a driver struck and seriously injured a cyclist, then left him for dead on the side of the road. (The driver escaped felony charges which prompted much outrage and this Facebook site which exists to allow stories of this sort to be collected and discussed.) One has to wonder why there should even be a debate at all on such behavior, which shouldn't go unpunished, or even happen in the first place.

Obviously the stakes are high in this debate, and passions are hotter than a tin roof in the Texas sun when it comes to these stories. I do not claim to have the answers or the salve to sooth the damages done, but I wanted to explore this subject and offer up my take on it. I've started a dialogue with a few folks already on this topic and their thoughts will be influencing these posts as well.

The Problem Is You: Generally, in cases where lots of fingers are getting pointed outwards, there needs to be a realization that there are four other fingers pointing back at you, and those fingers belong to you. Yes, everyone has a lot to learn in this area, and we all could do well to look in the mirror and clean up our own acts first. As drivers, and as cyclists, we need to be reminding ourselves that we all have a right to live, to not be afraid as we are using the roads and streets, and that we all need to abide by rules and laws that exist on the books today. It is my belief that if we do our parts in being responsible as cyclists, we will garner more respect and have a stronger influence. That alone in itself won't solve the issues, but until cyclists get their own house in order, it will be hard to convince "the other side" that they need to change their ways.

What We Need To Do: Tomorrow, I will talk more about the issues and actions that cyclists need to understand and change in order to show other road users that we can play fairly and responsibly out on the pavement.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Digging It

Get a good look at this image. Wonderfully white winter wackiness. Okay, so that's what it looks like now. My weekend was dominated by dealing with this stuff.

It all started on Thursday night when it started to snow again. (I'd also ridden on Tuesday last week in the snow). Friday I woke up and saw about 5-6 inches already on the ground with flakes still falling. Time to arm myself with a shovel and hit the street.

Yes- I said, "hit the street." I have to clear out the snow from around our cars out front. We do not have a snow emergency plan here. My alleyway never gets plowed out, so fah-gedda-boud parking in the garage. It's the street for us, and we need to shovel out about 10 yards from the curb.

Of course, our neighbors do not do a thing. Now- this is an optional thing I do, but in order to preserve a spot for our vehicles, I shovel the street in front of each neighbors house on either side of me. Yeah......lots of shoveling.

That ended up becoming 4 hours of shoveling which was very physically demanding work. But hey! I can park my car now, and I burned up a lot of calories.

Now, it would be nice to have my "Other Bike Project" here to ride now, (Salsa Mukluk), but it isn't here, and now I'm hearing that by the end of the week, it is supposed to get real messy and weird out there. Yeah.......and if it does, I bet the Mukluk shows up. Oh well! I knew it would go this way. Primo snow conditions and the Mukluk just were not meant to happen at the same time for me.

But that doesn't mean that I have not been messing around with what I do have. I mounted up a Larry tire on a Rolling Darryl with some red ribbon just for the fun of it.


Nice table center piece, eh? I was going to get more creative with the rim strip, but the red matches our Cinnamon scented candle better and well, truth be known, I got the ribbon for free! Works great too.

Mukluk's are blue, so the red accent deal should work okay and I have plenty of ribbon, so it looks as though this will work for now. I may even look at adding a few more red bits here and there.

And that fat Phil Wood hub? I have spun the free hub so many times I think it is well worn in by now!

Ah well. If and when I see the Mukluk I will be riding it come snow, wind, or rain, so what if this week end's weather wipes out our great snow cover? Right? I just hope it all doesn't turn into one gigantic sheet of ice and stays that way till March, that's all.

Digging It

Get a good look at this image. Wonderfully white winter wackiness. Okay, so that's what it looks like now. My weekend was dominated by dealing with this stuff.

It all started on Thursday night when it started to snow again. (I'd also ridden on Tuesday last week in the snow). Friday I woke up and saw about 5-6 inches already on the ground with flakes still falling. Time to arm myself with a shovel and hit the street.

Yes- I said, "hit the street." I have to clear out the snow from around our cars out front. We do not have a snow emergency plan here. My alleyway never gets plowed out, so fah-gedda-boud parking in the garage. It's the street for us, and we need to shovel out about 10 yards from the curb.

Of course, our neighbors do not do a thing. Now- this is an optional thing I do, but in order to preserve a spot for our vehicles, I shovel the street in front of each neighbors house on either side of me. Yeah......lots of shoveling.

That ended up becoming 4 hours of shoveling which was very physically demanding work. But hey! I can park my car now, and I burned up a lot of calories.

Now, it would be nice to have my "Other Bike Project" here to ride now, (Salsa Mukluk), but it isn't here, and now I'm hearing that by the end of the week, it is supposed to get real messy and weird out there. Yeah.......and if it does, I bet the Mukluk shows up. Oh well! I knew it would go this way. Primo snow conditions and the Mukluk just were not meant to happen at the same time for me.

But that doesn't mean that I have not been messing around with what I do have. I mounted up a Larry tire on a Rolling Darryl with some red ribbon just for the fun of it.


Nice table center piece, eh? I was going to get more creative with the rim strip, but the red matches our Cinnamon scented candle better and well, truth be known, I got the ribbon for free! Works great too.

Mukluk's are blue, so the red accent deal should work okay and I have plenty of ribbon, so it looks as though this will work for now. I may even look at adding a few more red bits here and there.

And that fat Phil Wood hub? I have spun the free hub so many times I think it is well worn in by now!

Ah well. If and when I see the Mukluk I will be riding it come snow, wind, or rain, so what if this week end's weather wipes out our great snow cover? Right? I just hope it all doesn't turn into one gigantic sheet of ice and stays that way till March, that's all.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Trans Iowa V7 Update #8: Equipment Choices

<===It's all about making the right choices.

Equipment Choices: In this update, and with the following one, (at the least), I am going to give you, (The Trans Iowa Rookie), my insights as to equipment choices for Trans Iowa V7. Some of this will be from my observations, some of it from personal experiences.  (note: This is not limited to the Rookies, but they are the ones I am primarily directing this at.)

First, before you go any further, you should review the "Safety and Supplies" section of the T.I.V7 site here.  Go on..........this can wait until you've read it!

Okay- If you have perused that section of the T.I.V7 site, we can get on with the main source of questions regarding this event, and all of gravel grinding really. That being: "What type of bicycle is best to use for Trans Iowa?" This was one of the very first questions we dealt with back in 2004 about this event, and it probably is still one of the top five questions I get about Trans Iowa.

First of all, let me just simply say that any bicycle in good, working order can be used for Trans Iowa. Okay? There is no "one special bike" that is best. There are some that won't work as well as others, but short of recumbents and time trial bikes,  I think about every kind of bicycle has been represented at Trans Iowa at some point in the six events that have been run. (Yes- even full on skinny tired road bikes!) This will be about the bicycles I have noted as being the ones that have done well, and a bit about what type of riders have been on those bikes. I will also mention a few bikes I think are on the fringes of being "good choices". That said, I will repeat that just about anything will work for you, as long as you are comfortable on that bicycle for multiple hour rides  on rough roads.

<===The "go-fast" bicycle of T.I.V5 winner, Joe Meiser.

The Cyclo-Cross Bike: The first type of bike I'll mention, and the most popular choice amongst the "go-fast" Trans Iowa competitors, is the cyclo-cross bike and its variants. These rigs are the closest approximation we have readily available today to the old road racing bikes of yore. Not the "pavement road bikes", no, no, no! I'm talking about road racing from before 1950, when many roads were poor excuses for paved by-ways, and gravel was high on the diet of any seasoned Euro pro. Tires were bigger, angles were more relaxed, and chassis were longer. Some of these things are reflected in today's cyclo-cross rig. Bigger tires and clearance for mud, slightly relaxed angles from the crit-machines seen on the roads, and drop bars for the most part. These bikes probably are the lightest Trans Iowa rigs as well. They promote higher speeds and generally speaking, the front runners will be on something like the bike pictured here.

The downfall of choosing a cyclo-cross rig is that they are not the most comfortable bikes and they are definitely more physically demanding in that sense than other bicycle choices you might make. Bloody chamois, numb digits, (for weeks after the event), and other physical maladies have been reported by riders that have chosen a cyclo-cross bike for a Trans Iowa. Probably the biggest reason for that is that cyclo-cross bikes are generally built for efficiency over a short period of time. The genre' tends to be defined by stiff, light bikes because of this. Compliance and comfort are not keywords to cyclo-cross design generally speaking. So beware of that. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule in cyclo-cross bikes, but not generally.


Cyclo-cross Variants: Some bicycles are available with cantilever brakes, bigger tire clearances, and more comfort oriented geometry. Randonnuer, touring, and some sport road bikes fall into this camp. I would suggest that as long as you can fit a 35mm tire with clearance for mud, you are good to go with a bicycle of this type for Trans Iowa. Some examples would be Salsa Cycles Vaya, Surly Bikes' Long Haul Trucker, or certain Rivendell models and Raleigh models fit into this category, amongst others makes and models.



Mountain Bikes: While it may seem a "slow" choice in a Trans Iowa bike, a mountain bike, and especially a 29 inch wheeled mountain bike, is a great choice for Trans Iowa. Not many riders choose 29"ers or 26"ers, but I have seen these bikes end up in the top five placing of finishers more than once in this event, so don't discount that type of bike for doing well. It's the motor, not the bike, after all! That said, I wouldn't bring a Turner 5-Spot to Trans Iowa and expect it to be a great ride for Trans Iowa. I would suggest a rigid mountain bike as being great, and even a front suspended model is okay as a choice erring towards the comfort side of things. That said, I have seen a full suspension 26"er finish in the first Trans Iowa, so it isn't like you couldn't do that as well. Still, an XC rig would be most likely the best bet, or something like the Salsa Cycles Fargo, pictured here, would be a good way to go.

Downfalls to a mountain bike choice would obviously be in weight. Also, some mountain bikes might actually be overbuilt for gravel roads and end up becoming uncomfortable, especially if you put skinnier tires on them. Stick with something around a 2.0" tire. That's what makes riding a mountain bike on gravel a good choice, comfortable tires that float over the rougher stuff and that may be an advantage in softer conditions. While going fast on a mountain bike is possible in Trans Iowa, generally speaking it is a slower going gravel vehicle than their skinnier tired brethren. If you want to go fast, and post a good finish or win, the mountain bike may not be the best choice. If comfort and finishing are high on your agenda, a mountain bike, properly set up,can be the best choice of all.

Single Speed and Geared: Finally, I wanted to touch upon this, although your choices have been made by class designation already. The point I wanted to make here is about gearing for singles and for geared bikes.

Single Speeders: While huge gears in the upper 60's of gear inches and higher have been pushed in Trans Iowa, I wouldn't recommend that. Probably something in the upper 50's to low 60's would make sense here. Keep in mind that you'll be mashing for hours on end, so erring to the easy side might be advisable. of course, every single speeder is different, so be sensitive to how you perform best, of course. If pressed for what I would run, I would say that on one of my 29"ers I would run a 38 X 18 or 38 X 17, but that is just me.

Geared Riders: Of course, with a triple you are well covered, but let's say that you want to run a cyclo-cross bike with a double. With something that gets you a ratio of close to 1 to 1, you would be fine. I would think 1 to 1 ratio would be overkill, actually. Running a 12-27 cassette is going to get most folks by on a double that has at least a 39T inner ring. (Assuming you are a "go-fast" guy on a cyclo-cross rig) If you aren't planning on smoking a sub-30 hour Trans Iowa, then maybe err to the lower side and put on a 32T cog out back in your cassette.

Other Points: Finally, and maybe most importantly, the other choices made for your bike are going to be critical to your success in Trans Iowa. Contact points are on top of that list, obviously. Think about your saddle, for instance. Ever been on a ride of over three hours on it? If not, you may want to seriously consider doing that before too much longer. Getting a saddle that works for an hour or two is not a big deal. Getting a saddle that works for four hours or more? Yeah- that's tough to find, and you'll need to experiment with that before you get to Trans Iowa. What you think has always worked may be your undoing at T.I.V7. Trust me. I know this! Same goes for grips, pedals, and shoes. Again, if you haven't been on multi-hour rides on your equipment, you seriously need to start doing it NOW!

This will also help you with regards to clothing, gloves, (or no gloves!), and with nutrition. However; in regards to bicycles, I will only be touching upon your water carrying capacity. If you are limited to two water bottles on your rig, the next big hurdle for you is how you want to add to that capacity. Remembering that we are advising that you carry supplies for a century ride on your bike, (or on YOU!). So, will you be adding water bottle mounts to your rig, or doing a hydration pack? Maybe both? This is something you should be working out now, and it could influence your choice of bicycle for T.I.V7.

More On Equipment Choices: In the next Trans Iowa Update, I'll hit upon other topics like lights, clothing, tires, and more.

Trans Iowa V7 Update #8: Equipment Choices

<===It's all about making the right choices.

Equipment Choices: In this update, and with the following one, (at the least), I am going to give you, (The Trans Iowa Rookie), my insights as to equipment choices for Trans Iowa V7. Some of this will be from my observations, some of it from personal experiences.  (note: This is not limited to the Rookies, but they are the ones I am primarily directing this at.)

First, before you go any further, you should review the "Safety and Supplies" section of the T.I.V7 site here.  Go on..........this can wait until you've read it!

Okay- If you have perused that section of the T.I.V7 site, we can get on with the main source of questions regarding this event, and all of gravel grinding really. That being: "What type of bicycle is best to use for Trans Iowa?" This was one of the very first questions we dealt with back in 2004 about this event, and it probably is still one of the top five questions I get about Trans Iowa.

First of all, let me just simply say that any bicycle in good, working order can be used for Trans Iowa. Okay? There is no "one special bike" that is best. There are some that won't work as well as others, but short of recumbents and time trial bikes,  I think about every kind of bicycle has been represented at Trans Iowa at some point in the six events that have been run. (Yes- even full on skinny tired road bikes!) This will be about the bicycles I have noted as being the ones that have done well, and a bit about what type of riders have been on those bikes. I will also mention a few bikes I think are on the fringes of being "good choices". That said, I will repeat that just about anything will work for you, as long as you are comfortable on that bicycle for multiple hour rides  on rough roads.

<===The "go-fast" bicycle of T.I.V5 winner, Joe Meiser.

The Cyclo-Cross Bike: The first type of bike I'll mention, and the most popular choice amongst the "go-fast" Trans Iowa competitors, is the cyclo-cross bike and its variants. These rigs are the closest approximation we have readily available today to the old road racing bikes of yore. Not the "pavement road bikes", no, no, no! I'm talking about road racing from before 1950, when many roads were poor excuses for paved by-ways, and gravel was high on the diet of any seasoned Euro pro. Tires were bigger, angles were more relaxed, and chassis were longer. Some of these things are reflected in today's cyclo-cross rig. Bigger tires and clearance for mud, slightly relaxed angles from the crit-machines seen on the roads, and drop bars for the most part. These bikes probably are the lightest Trans Iowa rigs as well. They promote higher speeds and generally speaking, the front runners will be on something like the bike pictured here.

The downfall of choosing a cyclo-cross rig is that they are not the most comfortable bikes and they are definitely more physically demanding in that sense than other bicycle choices you might make. Bloody chamois, numb digits, (for weeks after the event), and other physical maladies have been reported by riders that have chosen a cyclo-cross bike for a Trans Iowa. Probably the biggest reason for that is that cyclo-cross bikes are generally built for efficiency over a short period of time. The genre' tends to be defined by stiff, light bikes because of this. Compliance and comfort are not keywords to cyclo-cross design generally speaking. So beware of that. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule in cyclo-cross bikes, but not generally.


Cyclo-cross Variants: Some bicycles are available with cantilever brakes, bigger tire clearances, and more comfort oriented geometry. Randonnuer, touring, and some sport road bikes fall into this camp. I would suggest that as long as you can fit a 35mm tire with clearance for mud, you are good to go with a bicycle of this type for Trans Iowa. Some examples would be Salsa Cycles Vaya, Surly Bikes' Long Haul Trucker, or certain Rivendell models and Raleigh models fit into this category, amongst others makes and models.



Mountain Bikes: While it may seem a "slow" choice in a Trans Iowa bike, a mountain bike, and especially a 29 inch wheeled mountain bike, is a great choice for Trans Iowa. Not many riders choose 29"ers or 26"ers, but I have seen these bikes end up in the top five placing of finishers more than once in this event, so don't discount that type of bike for doing well. It's the motor, not the bike, after all! That said, I wouldn't bring a Turner 5-Spot to Trans Iowa and expect it to be a great ride for Trans Iowa. I would suggest a rigid mountain bike as being great, and even a front suspended model is okay as a choice erring towards the comfort side of things. That said, I have seen a full suspension 26"er finish in the first Trans Iowa, so it isn't like you couldn't do that as well. Still, an XC rig would be most likely the best bet, or something like the Salsa Cycles Fargo, pictured here, would be a good way to go.

Downfalls to a mountain bike choice would obviously be in weight. Also, some mountain bikes might actually be overbuilt for gravel roads and end up becoming uncomfortable, especially if you put skinnier tires on them. Stick with something around a 2.0" tire. That's what makes riding a mountain bike on gravel a good choice, comfortable tires that float over the rougher stuff and that may be an advantage in softer conditions. While going fast on a mountain bike is possible in Trans Iowa, generally speaking it is a slower going gravel vehicle than their skinnier tired brethren. If you want to go fast, and post a good finish or win, the mountain bike may not be the best choice. If comfort and finishing are high on your agenda, a mountain bike, properly set up,can be the best choice of all.

Single Speed and Geared: Finally, I wanted to touch upon this, although your choices have been made by class designation already. The point I wanted to make here is about gearing for singles and for geared bikes.

Single Speeders: While huge gears in the upper 60's of gear inches and higher have been pushed in Trans Iowa, I wouldn't recommend that. Probably something in the upper 50's to low 60's would make sense here. Keep in mind that you'll be mashing for hours on end, so erring to the easy side might be advisable. of course, every single speeder is different, so be sensitive to how you perform best, of course. If pressed for what I would run, I would say that on one of my 29"ers I would run a 38 X 18 or 38 X 17, but that is just me.

Geared Riders: Of course, with a triple you are well covered, but let's say that you want to run a cyclo-cross bike with a double. With something that gets you a ratio of close to 1 to 1, you would be fine. I would think 1 to 1 ratio would be overkill, actually. Running a 12-27 cassette is going to get most folks by on a double that has at least a 39T inner ring. (Assuming you are a "go-fast" guy on a cyclo-cross rig) If you aren't planning on smoking a sub-30 hour Trans Iowa, then maybe err to the lower side and put on a 32T cog out back in your cassette.

Other Points: Finally, and maybe most importantly, the other choices made for your bike are going to be critical to your success in Trans Iowa. Contact points are on top of that list, obviously. Think about your saddle, for instance. Ever been on a ride of over three hours on it? If not, you may want to seriously consider doing that before too much longer. Getting a saddle that works for an hour or two is not a big deal. Getting a saddle that works for four hours or more? Yeah- that's tough to find, and you'll need to experiment with that before you get to Trans Iowa. What you think has always worked may be your undoing at T.I.V7. Trust me. I know this! Same goes for grips, pedals, and shoes. Again, if you haven't been on multi-hour rides on your equipment, you seriously need to start doing it NOW!

This will also help you with regards to clothing, gloves, (or no gloves!), and with nutrition. However; in regards to bicycles, I will only be touching upon your water carrying capacity. If you are limited to two water bottles on your rig, the next big hurdle for you is how you want to add to that capacity. Remembering that we are advising that you carry supplies for a century ride on your bike, (or on YOU!). So, will you be adding water bottle mounts to your rig, or doing a hydration pack? Maybe both? This is something you should be working out now, and it could influence your choice of bicycle for T.I.V7.

More On Equipment Choices: In the next Trans Iowa Update, I'll hit upon other topics like lights, clothing, tires, and more.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Guitar Ted Productions!

Here's hoping you have a wonderful holiday with friends and family. 

And also that you were good and got some shiny bike bits!  

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Guitar Ted Productions!

Here's hoping you have a wonderful holiday with friends and family. 

And also that you were good and got some shiny bike bits!  

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday News And Views

The History Of The Beginnings Of The Modern 29"er Page: With the conclusion of the series the other day, I gathered all the pertinent posts, edited out the redundancies in the first two original posts, added an introduction, and edited in some comments received after the posts were published, and put that all on its own page. You can see the link to it under the header here. That will be permanent and can be referenced at any time. You'll also notice a link to my Fargo page up there as well.

Since everything has been re-arranged, you might want to dive in and see where the new info has been plugged in. 

Thanks once again for all the great comments and encouragement i received while doing the posts. Thanks also to all who contributed to making the series a lot of fun and very informative.

Trans Iowa V7: I received the first drop off the roster the other day. Please keep in mind that if you can not make T.I.V7 for any reason, we really need to know you are not coming ASAP. It really cuts down on logistical costs when we know we don't have to deal with any number of folks that let us know they can not make it. Thanks in advance. Also, we need more Volunteers for checkpoint duty. Let me know if you are interested. (You will get a free entry to T.I.V8 if you volunteer for V7)

 Maintenance Garage: I've been doing a lot of maintenance lately on "the fleet". Tubeless tire "re-charging". That's when the sealant is old, or completely dried up. I just inject some more, and I'm good to go. I repaired a broken nipple in a rear wheel, and I also got some tires swapped around on a couple of bikes. Maintenance will continue on in light of the winter months lack of optimal trail conditions. I've also been doing some tinkering on the Karate Monkey with the fender and on the rear brake. There are too many bikes down in The Lab, as always, so there is always something I could be doing!

Happy Holidays! It's Christmas Eve, and many of you will be celebrating with family and friends. Take care and be cautious as ya'all travel to and fro.

Friday News And Views

The History Of The Beginnings Of The Modern 29"er Page: With the conclusion of the series the other day, I gathered all the pertinent posts, edited out the redundancies in the first two original posts, added an introduction, and edited in some comments received after the posts were published, and put that all on its own page. You can see the link to it under the header here. That will be permanent and can be referenced at any time. You'll also notice a link to my Fargo page up there as well.

Since everything has been re-arranged, you might want to dive in and see where the new info has been plugged in. 

Thanks once again for all the great comments and encouragement i received while doing the posts. Thanks also to all who contributed to making the series a lot of fun and very informative.

Trans Iowa V7: I received the first drop off the roster the other day. Please keep in mind that if you can not make T.I.V7 for any reason, we really need to know you are not coming ASAP. It really cuts down on logistical costs when we know we don't have to deal with any number of folks that let us know they can not make it. Thanks in advance. Also, we need more Volunteers for checkpoint duty. Let me know if you are interested. (You will get a free entry to T.I.V8 if you volunteer for V7)

 Maintenance Garage: I've been doing a lot of maintenance lately on "the fleet". Tubeless tire "re-charging". That's when the sealant is old, or completely dried up. I just inject some more, and I'm good to go. I repaired a broken nipple in a rear wheel, and I also got some tires swapped around on a couple of bikes. Maintenance will continue on in light of the winter months lack of optimal trail conditions. I've also been doing some tinkering on the Karate Monkey with the fender and on the rear brake. There are too many bikes down in The Lab, as always, so there is always something I could be doing!

Happy Holidays! It's Christmas Eve, and many of you will be celebrating with family and friends. Take care and be cautious as ya'all travel to and fro.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tour Of Duty

For the past several years I have been using the Karate Monkey primarily as my winter rig. This is the same one featured in the recent history of 29"ers series. A 2003 Camp Stove Green one. Of all the Karate Monkey colors ever issued, this is still my all time favorite. The newest Battleship Gray is a close second.

My Karate Monkey has been an exercise in constant change ever since I've had it. The latest tweaks are the Cane Creek Thudbuster ST post and a Jaand Frame Pack. The little strip of white is an experiment down there by the crank.

That's a deal inspired by Geoff Apps. It is a work in progress. A chain guard that will eventually become part of the Planet Bike Cascadia fender. It is designed to keep my rear wheel from dumping "crapola" all over my chain, which then distributes said "crapola" all over my chain wheel and free wheel cog. So far, I have used a huge Tyvek based prototype and now this minimalistic prototype made from some plasticky header card material from a Geax tire. My final effort will be in black, to blend in with the fender, and will be riveted right to it.

I almost forgot to add that I have a really great Sun Lite free wheel on this thing. Basically, a Dicta free wheel, but it does seem to be made with a higher level of quality than I am used to seeing from Dicta. I know-I know.....White Industries, yada, yada, yada. Look. I will be subjecting this to wet, grit, snow, mag-chloride, and you know- "crapola"!  White Industries free wheels are too expensive to use in that environment. Besides- I get to overhaul a free wheel once in awhile, which is strangely satisfying. (Well, at least for me!)

I rode this Wednesday across town to the bicycle shop and back to pick up the Jaand Frame Pack. Oddly enough, the set up is so balanced on this bike that it handles snow amazingly well. It gets a wee upset in deeper stuff, but what bike wouldn't. Recently, a bunch of banter on heavier wheels has me thinking that perhaps it is the wheels on this thing that are helping me out.

The wheels on the KM are my "Chocolate Chips" wheel set. Custom color Velocity Deep V rims laced to Surly "Jim Brown" anodized New Hubs with some "Aerolite-ish" type spokes that I found at the shop. Nutted axles, but that really doesn't matter. What does matter is that the Deep V is a heavy rim. That and the Specialized Fast Trak Pro tires are heavy. These are the first issue Fast Traks, before Specialized even had a 29"er. They don't make them like this anymore and for good reason. Too heavy for a 2.1 and the rolling resistance is very high, since the traction is high. That's all good in snow though, so I leave them on winter after winter. Anyway, the flywheel effect of these wheels is noticeable and that carries you right through car-snow, ice, and, well, most any "crapola" that I encounter going to work and back, or wherever I ride in winter. They just do not get knocked off-line all that easily due to that. It's all good!

This bike holds another distinction for me: It is the bike I did my longest ride ever on. It was the first organized "Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational" back in 2006, I believe. That ride was 152 miles, but I did ride over to and back from the start, which wasn't recorded on my report. So, I figure I can add about an extra 10 miles to that and that makes the Karate Monkey my all time longest ride holder by far at 162-ish miles in one shot.

Which leads me to think that I ought to ready this dog for some long distance gravel duty this summer. Maybe there is something about the set up, maybe not. Oh well- I would just like to try it again, as the ol' KM has been stuck doing winter duty for far too long now. This spring, the fenders are coming off, and I'll put the KM in some different kind of "crapola"! Gravel that is!

Tour Of Duty

For the past several years I have been using the Karate Monkey primarily as my winter rig. This is the same one featured in the recent history of 29"ers series. A 2003 Camp Stove Green one. Of all the Karate Monkey colors ever issued, this is still my all time favorite. The newest Battleship Gray is a close second.

My Karate Monkey has been an exercise in constant change ever since I've had it. The latest tweaks are the Cane Creek Thudbuster ST post and a Jaand Frame Pack. The little strip of white is an experiment down there by the crank.

That's a deal inspired by Geoff Apps. It is a work in progress. A chain guard that will eventually become part of the Planet Bike Cascadia fender. It is designed to keep my rear wheel from dumping "crapola" all over my chain, which then distributes said "crapola" all over my chain wheel and free wheel cog. So far, I have used a huge Tyvek based prototype and now this minimalistic prototype made from some plasticky header card material from a Geax tire. My final effort will be in black, to blend in with the fender, and will be riveted right to it.

I almost forgot to add that I have a really great Sun Lite free wheel on this thing. Basically, a Dicta free wheel, but it does seem to be made with a higher level of quality than I am used to seeing from Dicta. I know-I know.....White Industries, yada, yada, yada. Look. I will be subjecting this to wet, grit, snow, mag-chloride, and you know- "crapola"!  White Industries free wheels are too expensive to use in that environment. Besides- I get to overhaul a free wheel once in awhile, which is strangely satisfying. (Well, at least for me!)

I rode this Wednesday across town to the bicycle shop and back to pick up the Jaand Frame Pack. Oddly enough, the set up is so balanced on this bike that it handles snow amazingly well. It gets a wee upset in deeper stuff, but what bike wouldn't. Recently, a bunch of banter on heavier wheels has me thinking that perhaps it is the wheels on this thing that are helping me out.

The wheels on the KM are my "Chocolate Chips" wheel set. Custom color Velocity Deep V rims laced to Surly "Jim Brown" anodized New Hubs with some "Aerolite-ish" type spokes that I found at the shop. Nutted axles, but that really doesn't matter. What does matter is that the Deep V is a heavy rim. That and the Specialized Fast Trak Pro tires are heavy. These are the first issue Fast Traks, before Specialized even had a 29"er. They don't make them like this anymore and for good reason. Too heavy for a 2.1 and the rolling resistance is very high, since the traction is high. That's all good in snow though, so I leave them on winter after winter. Anyway, the flywheel effect of these wheels is noticeable and that carries you right through car-snow, ice, and, well, most any "crapola" that I encounter going to work and back, or wherever I ride in winter. They just do not get knocked off-line all that easily due to that. It's all good!

This bike holds another distinction for me: It is the bike I did my longest ride ever on. It was the first organized "Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational" back in 2006, I believe. That ride was 152 miles, but I did ride over to and back from the start, which wasn't recorded on my report. So, I figure I can add about an extra 10 miles to that and that makes the Karate Monkey my all time longest ride holder by far at 162-ish miles in one shot.

Which leads me to think that I ought to ready this dog for some long distance gravel duty this summer. Maybe there is something about the set up, maybe not. Oh well- I would just like to try it again, as the ol' KM has been stuck doing winter duty for far too long now. This spring, the fenders are coming off, and I'll put the KM in some different kind of "crapola"! Gravel that is!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More On The Beginnings Of The Modern 29"er: Final Thoughts

 What It All Means To Me: First of all, thanks to everyone involved in making the 700c mountain bike tires, rims, forks, and frames a reality. What ever you might think about 29 inch wheels, they have made mountain biking more fun for a lot of people that otherwise may have given up on the sport, or never got into it to begin with. That in itself is reason enough to celebrate the history behind the format.

I know that for myself, I would not have been as deeply involved with riding mountain bikes anymore if it had not been for 29"ers. I was getting really tired of the way my 26"ers rode, and behaved for me. The 29'er made mountain biking more fun for sure. It's like Gary Fisher once told me: Buying a suspension fork buys you some "grace". The 29"er is like that for a lot of riders. It brings more "grace" and therefore you get to enjoy the ride more.
 Well, that made a lot of sense to me, at any rate, and I know it is true. The 26"ers were fun, but "hair trigger" for me. I crash a lot less often these days, and for me, at my age, that is a very good thing! (Just ask my wife!) The way the wheels roll and make trails more fun is very much appreciated by me as well.

 I could have been as happy as a pig in the mud the rest of my life just enjoying my 29"er and riding it. Trouble is, I found out about blogs and started writing about how great I thought these bigger wheels were. That got me into something I never foresaw before I started tapping on this keyboard. It took me to places and I met people I never would have dreamed I would have met before. So, I have the 29 inch wheels to thank for that privilege as well. Things started out with the now defunct site, "The Biking Hub" in 2005, and then, of course, it was on to "Twenty Nine Inches". Now I've been scribing there for over five years. I suppose you could say I've seen a thing or three concerning these 29"ers in that time. I've certainly met a lot of people, and some of them are part of the history I wrote about in this series.

Speaking Of People.... I have been reminded as I wrote these posts how blessed I am to have met many of you folks out there. I have also been privileged to have had contact with many of the rest of you. Without getting overly dramatic......thank you one and all!

Where Do We Go From Here? Ah, the inevitable question is that, isn't it? There still are some things 29"ers are not best suited for, and may never be. That said, these big wheels have gone from just a dream to places that I never thought they would. (29 inch down hill bikes? Really?) In the future, I still believe that the 29 inch wheel will eventually supplant the 26 inch wheel for beginner mountain bikers and in the hard tail category especially. Women will continue to find the 29"er to be a stable, fun, and safe feeling off road machine. Longer travel 29'ers will continue to be developed as new forks, tires, and rims develop to cater to those styles of riding that demand "big" equipment.

The 29 inch wheel is perhaps, as Wes Williams believes, the biggest advancement in mountain biking since the purpose built mountain bike was first born in Marin, California. If not, it is pretty close to that. We still have not seen the extent to which these wheels will change the sport. 26 inch mountain bike wheels will never go away, most likely, but neither will the "adult" sized wheels. They are here to stay, thanks to those passionate and visionary folks that helped make it happen with "The Tire" in 1999.

I would like to thank and acknowledge the contributions to this series by: Wes Williams, Geoff Apps, Gary Fisher, Mark Slate, Ross Shafer, Bob Poor, Bruce Gordon, Charlie Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Mike Curiak, Mountain Bike Review, and anyone else that had a hand in bringing the WTB Nanoraptor into existence.

More On The Beginnings Of The Modern 29"er: Final Thoughts

 What It All Means To Me: First of all, thanks to everyone involved in making the 700c mountain bike tires, rims, forks, and frames a reality. What ever you might think about 29 inch wheels, they have made mountain biking more fun for a lot of people that otherwise may have given up on the sport, or never got into it to begin with. That in itself is reason enough to celebrate the history behind the format.

I know that for myself, I would not have been as deeply involved with riding mountain bikes anymore if it had not been for 29"ers. I was getting really tired of the way my 26"ers rode, and behaved for me. The 29'er made mountain biking more fun for sure. It's like Gary Fisher once told me: Buying a suspension fork buys you some "grace". The 29"er is like that for a lot of riders. It brings more "grace" and therefore you get to enjoy the ride more.
 Well, that made a lot of sense to me, at any rate, and I know it is true. The 26"ers were fun, but "hair trigger" for me. I crash a lot less often these days, and for me, at my age, that is a very good thing! (Just ask my wife!) The way the wheels roll and make trails more fun is very much appreciated by me as well.

 I could have been as happy as a pig in the mud the rest of my life just enjoying my 29"er and riding it. Trouble is, I found out about blogs and started writing about how great I thought these bigger wheels were. That got me into something I never foresaw before I started tapping on this keyboard. It took me to places and I met people I never would have dreamed I would have met before. So, I have the 29 inch wheels to thank for that privilege as well. Things started out with the now defunct site, "The Biking Hub" in 2005, and then, of course, it was on to "Twenty Nine Inches". Now I've been scribing there for over five years. I suppose you could say I've seen a thing or three concerning these 29"ers in that time. I've certainly met a lot of people, and some of them are part of the history I wrote about in this series.

Speaking Of People.... I have been reminded as I wrote these posts how blessed I am to have met many of you folks out there. I have also been privileged to have had contact with many of the rest of you. Without getting overly dramatic......thank you one and all!

Where Do We Go From Here? Ah, the inevitable question is that, isn't it? There still are some things 29"ers are not best suited for, and may never be. That said, these big wheels have gone from just a dream to places that I never thought they would. (29 inch down hill bikes? Really?) In the future, I still believe that the 29 inch wheel will eventually supplant the 26 inch wheel for beginner mountain bikers and in the hard tail category especially. Women will continue to find the 29"er to be a stable, fun, and safe feeling off road machine. Longer travel 29'ers will continue to be developed as new forks, tires, and rims develop to cater to those styles of riding that demand "big" equipment.

The 29 inch wheel is perhaps, as Wes Williams believes, the biggest advancement in mountain biking since the purpose built mountain bike was first born in Marin, California. If not, it is pretty close to that. We still have not seen the extent to which these wheels will change the sport. 26 inch mountain bike wheels will never go away, most likely, but neither will the "adult" sized wheels. They are here to stay, thanks to those passionate and visionary folks that helped make it happen with "The Tire" in 1999.

I would like to thank and acknowledge the contributions to this series by: Wes Williams, Geoff Apps, Gary Fisher, Mark Slate, Ross Shafer, Bob Poor, Bruce Gordon, Charlie Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Mike Curiak, Mountain Bike Review, and anyone else that had a hand in bringing the WTB Nanoraptor into existence.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More On The Beginnings Of The Modern 29"er: Part VI

It's winter, the "off-season", and I don't have much better to do than to delve back into this whole deal again. Today I wanted to talk a bit about the early days of the "modern 29"er" as I call it. (Yesterday's post:  Part V of this series, can be found here)

<===My 2003 Karate Monkey in Campstove Green.

"The Early Days Of 29"ers": After the introduction of "The Tire", (WTB's Nanoraptor 29), a new era of  bicycling was unleashed. Not only could those who wanted a 700c based mountain bike now have a legitimate mountain bike tire on those old touring rims, but they could get an ever increasing amount of custom builders to make one for them. Many custom builders suddenly found themselves with several orders for this new type of mountain bike.

It might be argued that this ended up becoming a shot in the arm to the custom bike building craft and that things like the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, (NAHBS) maybe wouldn't have taken off without the influence of the 29"er. Certainly the lack of manufacturing 29"er brands early on matched up with the early desire for folks looking for something new and different which resulted in a lot of small builders getting very busy.

Perhaps it was a "perfect storm". The burgeoning internet forum activity also played into this phenomenon. In the 90's it was all magazine based information which was limited and mundane. By mid-decade a parade of wonky suspension designs and "NORBA" hard tails were all you would see every month. Now with the advent of relatively cheap PC's and the "world-wide web" available on a large scale, folks were circumventing the staid magazine editors and company marketing machines to find a bubbling, effervescent sub-culture going on, which included 29"ers and custom bike builders most of us had never heard about before. Put this volatile cocktail in a web based forum and you have what became "Mountain Bike Review" or "mtbr.com".

With a daily flow of news and development rumors flying, the 29"er enjoyed a small, cult following. Maybe things would have transitioned beyond this eventually, but the next "big" development in the evolution of the 29"er movement would certainly have to be the introduction of Surly's "Karate Monkey" model. Surly, a Minneapolis Minnesota based concern, was well known for being a player in the single speed movement. The introduction of the Karate Monkey at the 2002 Interbike trade show marked the first time North Americans were going to be able to "buy into" the 29"er movement without paying custom bike builder prices. The Surly site says this about the Karate Monkey:

"It didn’t create the 29er category, but it helped bring it to the masses and set the standard for what a 29er could be."

I'd go further and say that this model was copied by more manufacturers and custom builders than any other single 29"er ever made. To say that the Karate Monkey was "influential" would be an understatement. Now just about anyone with a little faith and about 800-1000 dollars could build up a sweet 29"er from the ground up. And what is more, the Karate Monkey actually, (and still does), ride quite well.

The Fisher Influence: Meanwhile, the Gary Fisher Bike company was plugging along, trying to make the 29"er thing work in the traditional bike shop category. Fisher was able to bring IRC tires into the 29"er tire market, and also managed to get Marzocchi to manufacture a couple of  suspension forks. That was all well and good, but the dealer network was having a hard time understanding the big wheeled oddities being pushed by their reps and even more shop employees had no idea what they were looking at. Times were tough at the retail level for 29"ers.

By late 2004, their was talk at Fisher/Trek of pulling the cord on the life support 29'ers were on. However; a new take on the big wheeled bikes actually saved the 29"er line, and it came in the form of "Dual Sport" bikes. Hearkening back to the original hybrid bikes of the early 90's, ironically, the Dual Sport bikes were more easily understood as hybrid bikes by shops and consumers. The Fisher company couldn't get enough of them out to dealers. By late 2007, 29"ers had entrenched themselves and were outselling 26"ers at Fisher. The tide had turned.

Fisher can also be credited with getting Rock Shox and Fox Shocks into the 29"er market, solidifying the category even further in the retail bicycle trade. Meanwhile, by 2006, more mainstream bike companies were jumping on board with 29"ers, and by 2010 it was easier to count those companies not making 29"ers than those that were. Gary Fisher Bikes had a big hand in making all that happen.

So it is that now, at the end of 2010, we have 29"ers coming from all sorts of companies in all sorts of forms. Accessory items like wheels, tires, and forks are readily available. Specific 29 inch designed stuff is commonplace now. All thanks to a few passionate individuals working the big wheeled idea for years before finally, "The Tire" was introduced and everything changed for big wheeled mountain biking afterward.

In my final post on the beginnings of the modern 29"er, I'll take a look at what it all means to me from a personal standpoint. Look for that tomorrow.