Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cranky Musings

Egg shaped works here.
I have heard a couple of things over the years about certain components. I tend to think about claims and then if I think it is interesting enough, I'll play around with stuff to see if I can verify the claims for myself.

Egg Shaped: One of these things I've heard and have been playing with is the concept of ovalized chain rings. The claim goes something like this: The oval is aligned in such a way that when you reach a "dead spot" in your pedal stroke the oval is in the "squished" position and makes getting through that dead spot easier. Then when you reach the power section of your stroke, the oval is at the widest part where your leg power can turn the gear over. Well, something like that anyway.... 

So I got a BioPace ring, a 42T from a seven speed crank, and took it home and then analyzed the Rotor site , which pointed me to how I could align the BioPace ring to best mimic what the Rotor chain ring does. Mounted that ring up, and went riding. (Never mind that it is on a 10 speed drive train. It works fine...)

Okay, so after six months of riding, what do I think? I think there is something to this, if you are more of a power cranker/masher. It does allow you to have momentum in the dead parts of your stroke, and keeps the speed up when you are cranking up a climb, instead of loosing it when you ultimately slow down at each point where your dead stroke is. (Or "deader stroke", if you will! "Anti-power stroke, perhaps?...whatever...) If you are a spinner, I don't know if there is as much of an effect, but it probably also helps you there. I tend to be a slower grinder in cadence on gravel roads, so I think, (for me anyway), this ovalized chain ring thing has merits.

"Spin Cycle" works here.
Short Arms: Years ago, I heard the original pocket of 29"er freaks in Grand Junction, Colorado were all about using 170mm cranks. Said it was better for the big wheels, but I have never really had anyone tell me exactly why. (And I've asked the folks that were at "ground zero" in this area, and they just said, "try it, it works!")

Well, ever since 2007 I have been using a 170mm crank on the OS Bikes Blackbuck. No other crank has ever been on this bike. I have several other bikes that are single speeds with anything from 175mm to 180mm cranks on them , and all are 29"ers.

So, does it "just work"? The answer is "yes" if you like to spin a bit higher cadence. Much like the rotor-esque BioPace chain ring, the shorter arms seem to allow for less "dead stroke" rotation when you are grinding out a climb in a slower cadence, plus you can maintain momentum going up off road/single track climbs better with a spinning cadence. At least I feel this. Now keep in mind, this is all for off road, trail riding, not on pavement or gravel. There the "spin cycle" about drives me nuts, although I must say it has made me a better spinner whenever I spend time on the Blackbuck commuting or using it on gravel.

So, there are my personal thoughts on how those controversial things work for me. I suspect that there are several others who feel at 180° odds with what I've just written, but I believe there is something to the claims. I've felt it, compared it, and it is repeatable. Maybe I need to invest in a power metering device to get into this deeper.

Naw....what am I thinking! I just need to go ride and have some fun already!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday News & Views

BMC TrailFox (Image by c_g)
Eurobike 2013: 

Eurobike is done today, and there is coverage all over the place, as you would expect. So, what's the big deal? Well, 27.5"ers/650B is what is the "big deal", and of course, if you had been paying attention, you knew that was coming. The bike industry has made no secret about the swing to 27.5"ers and that it would be coming hard in 2014.

There are some longer travel 29"ers coming out though, like the BMC shown here, so it isn't like it can not be done with bigger wheels. That is not the point though. The point is all about having something "new" and "different" to market to a category that has grown stale in the last five years +, that being the long travel, (150-180mm), All Mountain/Gravity category. It is quite plain that 26 inch wheels will become a shrunken category, left only to the DH crowd, and only just barely at that.

27.5/650B will effectively become the "small wheel size" in three to five years. You will not see 26 inch performance mountain bikes by 2018. They will be dinosaurs. Extinct. Poof!

26" will live on as a kid's sized wheel, which is what it was originally to begin with. The ISO bead diameter, (559), will survive though. It will live on in the form of fat bike tires, and the so called 26+ may also extend the life of old 26"er rims for a time. We will see, but the mountain bike world is seeing a sea change now, and it is a ship steered by marketing.Hope ya'all like the show.....

Updated: Also worthy of note: Turquoise anodized parts are being shown again! (Chris King, Industry 9 wheels) It must be 1995 again! The buzz for fat bikes is now growing in Europe as well.  A few European introductions by small brands and component choices were shown at the show. This could spur more choices in tires and rims. Stay tuned....

2014 Fargo (frt) vs 2012 Fargo
Fargo Comparison:

I just built up a new 2014 Salsa Cycles Fargo the other day at the shop and I wondered what its longer, suspension corrected for 100 mm fork may have done to stand over versus my 2012 Fargo with an 80mm Reba. So I rode the Fargo in to work and did a comparison.

Accounting for perspective in the image, my Fargo is actually slightly taller at the top of the head tube than the newer Fargo. So, I think it is safe to say that the standover is unaffected in comparison to the past couple years of Fargos and adding a 100mm fork is not going to seriously change that.

I also have seen people post speculative comments regarding the front mounted braze ons on the 2014 Fargo forks. I can attest to the fact that reaching a water bottle from the saddle on a fork with front mounted bosses on a Fargo is not a big deal. If it is any more difficult than with the rear mounted bosses, the difference is miniscule at worst. Really.....this isn't even an issue. 

I am pretty stoked on my current Fargo as a mountain bike with its 80mm travel fork, and a 100mm travel Fargo would be awesome. I am currently contemplating getting a Fargo 2, but I have not pulled the trigger just yet. Gotta build the boy's Mukluk 2 frame up first, and that should arrive late September/early October. 

3GR: Unfortunately, I had a close family member die recently, and a funeral where I am to be a pall bearer is happening Saturday. Due to the required travel, I am going to have to bail on 3GR this weekend. I'll be back next Saturday though, and of course, anyone that wants to ride anyway is certainly welcome.

That's a wrap for today. It's Labor Day Weekend here, the last big Summer holiday, and the traditional "end of the Summer" blast. Be safe, have fun, and keep the rubber side down, ya'all!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Moment Of Peace

It has been very hot and humid here of late. This weather we're having now is not unheard of, but typically happens in July, not so much at the end of August. The weather prognosticators are saying that temperatures combined with humidity are making it feel like 110°F outside when it is the hottest part of the day.

That is why I high tailed it out to the woods straight away after dropping my son off at school in the morning. I figured on beating the heat by riding before noon. Off to Ingawanis Woods then.

Ingawanis Woods is about 12 miles by car, so I loaded up the truck and headed out there. The daylight was still at a low angle when I got clipped in at about 9:30am. It made trail riding a bit more difficult for the deepness of shadow versus the brilliant sunshine that penetrated in certain spots on the trail. Following the thread of single track was easy once your eyes adjusted to the darkness, only to be blinded, like when an officer of the law shines a light into your eyes at night. (Not that I would know anything about that anymore. It happened to me once as a teenager, but that's a story for another time...)

The bright white dot near the center here is a Bald Eagle

I was having a good ride and then came up on the turn off to "The Bottoms". This is an area adjacent to the Cedar River and Quarter Mile Section Creek that is easily flooded. We have been shut out of this part of the trail system until recently due to heavy spring flooding and the tendency for this area to take a long time to drain and dry up. It finally has, and so it was opened up a few weeks back.

I decided to drop in off the ridge and see how things were going. I also wanted to stop off and go to my favorite spot on the Cedar River bank just South of the confluence with Quarter Mile Section Creek. It is here that you can spy the eagle's nest in Spring and Fall across the river when the leaves are off. Of course, I couldn't make out where the nest is now, but I was hoping to catch a glimpse of some Bald Eagles.

I carefully made my way down a sandy wash to the banks of the Cedar and just as I emerged from tree cover I saw a Bald Eagle take flight from a sand bar and fly to my side of the river down past Quarter Mile Section Creek. Mission accomplished! But I stayed to just soak in the moment here.

It's as green as ever deep in the woods.....
This is about as far away from civilization as you can get in Iowa. No farm views, no signs of humanity. Just peace and quiet- truly quiet. I couldn't hear a thing but birds, water running by, and the gentle breeze in the trees. Times like these are too few in our lives, and I refuse not to grasp onto these times and soak them in when I can get the chance to. I had no idea how long I had been standing there just looking when......

Crash! I heard a loud thrashing in some underbrush. I turned to see a rather large doe staring at me from about 50 yards into the woods. I surmised she was heading down to the bank to have a sip of the Cedar River and stand looking at the same scenery I was when she finally noticed I wasn't a tree. (There were a lot of deer prints in the mud at water's edge under my feet, I noticed.) She stood, then motioned as if she was coming through despite my presence, then she stopped. It was interesting. She wanted to come up to the river, but my presence was obviously upsetting the deer. Finally, the deer made a wheezing, sneezing snort, and stomped off in retreat, making the same noise several more times on the way. Like some unintelligible deer malediction for inconvenient humans in her environment.  She eventually went far enough away that I could no longer see her, but I heard the same noise several more times and then it went silent again.

Well, I supposed I should move along as well, so I saddled up after retrieving my bicycle from its wooded parking spot, and clipped in to finish the loop. It was so silent in the woods that the sound of my free hub coasting seemed to be an egregious trespass against the solitude. Soon though I was motoring along, twisting, turning, rising and falling down the dirt ribbon that dissected the gem green under brush still all wet from the evening's dew.

I saw another, (or perhaps it was the same?), deer bounding trough the woods later, and a couple of wild turkeys to boot, but otherwise it was a great morning to be alone in the woods enjoying the cooler temperatures. It was still brutally humid though, and by the time I had finished up, my legs looked like they had been splatter painted in dirt and my clothing was dripping wet.

But I wouldn't trade that moment of peace for anything in the world.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More Tires & Wheels

You could go big.....
Yesterday I was talking poofy 29"er tires, and today I am talking about tires on gravel. It's a much debated subject. I am not going to delve to deeply into the ways to make a choice for yourself, but I wanted to compare and contrast two tires I happen to be liking a lot lately.

First up is the Rock & Road tire. There is no doubt that this tire is the "Gravelists Adventure Tire" in my mind. It can handle any chunky nasties you might encounter, but it still rolls fast on hard pack. I've even heard it sets up very nicely as a tubeless tire. So, for a "one stop shopping experience", get a Rock & Roll tire, that is- if your rig will fit it. 

The big surprise for me was that this tire rules on hard packed single track.  Grippy, fast, and smooth, up until you get into rocks or roots. Then the small volume bites you a bit. However; if you have a smooth dirt ribbon in your area and it only has a few, if any roots and rocks, you may never want to run a "true mountain bike tire" anymore. This tire is that good on dirt single track.

....or you could go skinny!
Then there is a tire at the opposite end of the spectrum. You pay more than a Rock & Road tire to get less. Less stiffness, less weight, and yes....less control. But here's the thing: It rolls very fast and smooth for its size. Very fast.

The Challenge Grifo is only 33mm wide, (versus the 42mm wide Rock & Roll), but its construction and shape make it really work well as a gravel tire for everything up to chunky stuff all the way across the road and deeper gravel. These are the tires I ran last weekend on the 3GR, and the only time I was hating them was when the gravel was fresh and spread all across the roadway.

These are probably awesome for a "go fast" type ride and for now, I can't say how they'd hold up to a constant gravel beating......but I am going to find that out! More riding into the Fall will figure that out for me. I will say that the white rubber looks kind of cool on my Orange Crush and the Vaya. Makes everything seem all cream sickle-like!

So, for me no one tire is "the" tire, but all of these have a place and of course, others do too. For a discussion on tires, gravel events, and whatever comes up, see Mountain Bike Radio today for discussion on that stuff. The "Guitar Ted Show" comes on the air at 8:00pmCST-7:00pm MST Feel free to call in and ask a question with the following #: (646) 595-4113

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wheels & Tires

Honey Badger 2.2"ers
It's kind of funny now how certain things have really changed in the span of four to five years. Back then a really wide rim and a really wide fat, 29"er tire was the hot set up. Now we have 29+ and fat bikes and Dirt Wizards coming. A big, voluminous 29"er tire on a fat rim is not news worthy anymore, or so it would seem.

Maybe that makes my excitement over the Kenda Honey Badger and my old Salsa Cycles Gordo rims a bit odd for most of you out there. I had been running the Kendas on a Velocity Blunt SL wheel set. Well.....why not? They were listed as 2.2"ers, which in tire parlance means 2.15"ers, maybe.  But lo and behold! The Honey Badger lived up to its billing, but what was even more impressive was the Kenda's "poof factor"- These are voluminous tires!

So, the Gordos, long left on a hook, were called back into "active duty" yesterday. The Blunts were just too narrow for these meats. I swapped end caps from the 20mm through axles I was using before on the Hope hubs that are laced to the Gordos. (Wait! Does anyone still roll with a 20mm thru anymore? ) I only have 9mm QR end caps to swap over to, since at the time I bought the hubs, 15QR was but a pipe dream! Oh well, that only meant that these wheels and tires would be going back on my beloved OS Bikes Blackbuck. It's almost like old home week!

OS Bikes Blackbuck, circa 2010
Back around 2008-2010 I ran these wheels pretty much exclusively on the ol' Blackbuck with big, voluminous tires. Most of that time I had an old WTB WeirWolf LT on the back and a Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4"er up front. I loved the way the bike ran with those big meats. It was awesome.

Now the Kenda Honey Badger mounted up on that old Gordo reminds me a ton of the old Schwalbe Racing Ralph and I can't wait to get out there on these wheels and tires to see if I can bring back a bit of the "good old days" and have that fast, cushy, fully rigid feel again.

Wheels and tires: They can really make or break any bike. It makes a lot of sense too, because that's what makes a bicycle roll, and we all want to roll fast, right? Fast, with grip and comfort, and that equals fun. That's what I remember best about the old Blackbuck set up. It was a hoot to ride.

I've got a little tweaking to do before I can get the rig out, but I haven't been excited about tires like this in a while. Well, there is the Rock & Roads on the BMC. Those babies are great too. Can't tell I like wheels and tires, can ya? Ha!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Learning The Ropes

Warming up in the parking lot.
I was looking at my son, who was obviously bored, sitting inside with nothing to do, and I said, "Get yer shoes on, we're going for a bike ride." He was curious as to what the agenda would be. Up until now, most of our adventures had started and ended from the front door, but this time I told him we were loading up the truck and ferrying the bikes to "ride in the woods".

The "woods" I meant were the Green Belt, which is a strip of unkempt woods on either side of Black Hawk Creek running Southwest from the city and extending up to 8 or so miles along either side. The Southeastern side has dirt trails that were originally bridle paths back in the 50's but eventually became XC ski trails and left to go wild during the summer months. Bikers and hikers basically keep the way open besides the minimal City maintenance that happens at the beginning of August and whenever a bad storm goes through and downs a bunch of trees.

This is where I learned to ride an off road bike in the late 80's and early 90's. I figured it would suffice to teach the boy some new skills on his, (now too small), 24" wheeled mountain bike.

Lots of yellow flowers lined the trails out there.
My son has been jamming in the alley, skidding sideways on the gravel, so I figured he was getting much more confident and stable with his handling. I figured the occasional root and rock would be no issue for him now.

As we got going, I had to remind him about getting out of the saddle, pedals leveled, and letting the bike bounce underneath him. He picked that back up straight away, and we were off doing quite well.

Interestingly enough, it appears that he is a "spinner", while I was and still am more of a "masher". Then again, I never had a derailleur equipped bicycle until I was almost out of my teen years. When I did get one, I didn't know, or care about how to shift the chain, so it was all lost on me! My son, however, gets the geared thing and is pretty adept at switching things to his liking, which, as I said, is mostly on the high cadence side of things. Good for him, I say!

Eventually we ran into the sand traps of the Green Belt. These are an ever changing, shifting sort of a feature along the trails where the creek sheds its sand and pushes it into big drifts whenever it is raging out of its banks, which was most of the earlier part of this year. There were some expected areas for the sand, and a few unexpected, new drifts. These sand piles are made up of very fine sand, which I liken to "hour glass" grade sand. Very fine, and it is really "clean" sand as well. I was told once that back 70-80 years ago the sand in this area was coveted by cement plants for its quality and cleanliness.

But for my son, well he couldn't care less about cement, hour glasses, or cleanliness of sand. He hates that stuff, and it was driving him nuts not being able to clean his way through the crap. I reminded him that his upcoming fat bike would help a lot with that, and he was wishing he had it NOW!

Ha! Well, he is a bit impatient, and only 10 years old, so I forgave him his little outburst, but I reminded him we needed to stay on task, or there would be no ice cream afterward. Oh cream after a hot days riding. That was the goal, after all!

He did well, and we came through pretty much unscathed, excepting my little brush up with some stinging nettles. Those things are packing a particularly intense sting this year. The key, (at least for myself), is to resist touching the affected area at all. It is hard, because it itches and stings so intensely with an almost palpable heat. It actually grows in intensity and then it is gone, as long as you just leave it alone, but that is very hard to do.Fortunately, I won!

The ice cream cones were great, by the way, and my son was tuckered out from the exertion in the very hot, humid conditions. Can't wait to get him on a fat bike!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

3GR Report: Late Summer Surge

Barns For Jason
The day was supposed to be humid and hot. I was thinking about how I have had sporadic luck on hot, humid days, but more often than not, I wilt. This year has been one of those where heat has kicked my butt, and I was concerned about the ride.

I went to bed reasonably early and got a great night's sleep. I started out the day with breakfast and several glasses of water. Felt pretty good, and after the all important bathroom visit, which was successful, I was out of the door a bit early, but I wanted to take my time and spin easy going out to the start.

I no sooner got off my bicycle when I saw Tony coming up the hill. We chatted and then here came Robert. It was a trio then, and we set off with a hazy sky and a pretty steady tailwind going out. The temperatures were not zooming up, and with the breeze, we had a relatively good roll out, actually. Later on I would hear that the Gravel Worlds folks were battling a bit more heat than we were, so I was glad for the window of less heat than we will be getting today and through the week.

In fact, I was feeling pretty good, to tell the truth, and Robert and Tony usually like a pretty stout pace, but it was no problem for me going out to match it. I figured it most likely was just the tail wind, and not me that was making things look easy.

Robert (L) and Tony (R)
When we got up around Denver, we saw a couple vintage tractors that were going to participate in a parade in Denver yesterday. They were all shined up and clean with proud owners at the wheel. I wish I'd have gotten a picture of those.

As we crossed Highway 63 north of Denver, I noted a horse grazing freely in a yard, which is odd, and said something about it to Tony, who then went back around to check. It would have been a potential disaster had the horse been able to wander down into the highway, but fears were unfounded after all. The perimeter of the area was hedged by an electric fence. So we turned and made our way along our route, still enjoying a quartering tail wind out of the Southeast.

Then we hit the hills and head wind as we were obliged to turn back South. There are some good "rollers" here. Hills that are not long, but steep and short, which you can power over, and "roll them" if you have the leg to. Apparently, yesterday was my day, and I was pushing the pace here despite the headwind. I actually had to back off a couple of times to keep the trio together. Robert accused me of having a motor on my bike, but I was just feeling good and I guess it showed. I didn't mean to be a show off! About this time, I was actually worrying that I was going to have to pay for my cheek and would bonk spectacularly, but that never happened.

Click this to enlarge and look for the wild turkeys.
Wild life spotting was excellent yesterday as well. I had seen a peacock alongside the road. Many Iowa farmers keep peacocks, but I am not really sure why. Of course, it was a male and beautiful. Then later on we came across the turkeys. I had spotted some earlier in the summer, and these were in the same area.

I also spotted some nice Red Tailed hawks, but I don't suppose my riding partners did, as they were far off the road when I saw them. The usual horses and cows, of course, were seen, and even the dogs were docile on this edition of 3GR. Above all, the critter that brings a laugh and a smile for me is the ground squirrel, a tiny mammal that has a surprising amount of speed.

Well, the ride pushed on, and Robert and I got into a nice rotation for a bit as we shared pulls. We ended that after we saw that Tony had shot out the back and I wanted us to stay together.  It all came back together and we cruised back into town and hit up our coffee shop stop for some refreshments and a rest. I looked at the time, and despite the headwinds, we beat the week's previous time, and that had been the fastest 3GR on this particular course. Sheesh! I think we all must have had motors in our bikes somewhere!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Looking Back & Looking Ahead

My teammates from the Renegade Gents Race
With the big Gravel Worlds event happening today in Lincoln, Nebraska, I sit here wistfully thinking about what might have been had I been able to get down that way to join in the festivities. No doubt, it would have been fun, and the ride would have been a hot, windy affair. Not generally my cup of tea, as far as weather, but I bet I would have had fun, despite the suffering.

Well, anyway, I figured why not run down my "season", as it were, since now I will only be partaking in a couple of night time gravel grinders, if anything, before this year closes out. Interbike generally throws a big wrench into my Fall riding plans, and I suspect this year will be no different.

So, I had a couple of successful outings, and I had a couple of really tough rides that didn't end the way I wanted them to. Let's take a look.....

Triple D: The year started out with Triple D, a fat bike event. I did well, beating my time from the year previous, despite crashing and getting lost a bit. That was fun, and I felt good. 65 miles in the middle of January on icy trails is nothing to sneeze at. So, I take a bit of pride in that accomplishment.

The Renegade Gents Race: Same team again for year 3 of my participation in this event. It was a tough wind to ride into on that weekend, but we finished well, and I felt good taking pulls with Captain Steve, who was looking uber-fit in his preparation for T.I.V9, (which he handily finished). Not that we were out there to be really competitive, but we did show character in riding in together when we had a teammate in trouble, which I felt was really cool, and showed we were not only "gentleman", but good sportsman. A win in my book.

Trans Iowa V9:, I do not ride a bicycle in this event. That said, it is "an event" for me to get right, or not, and I am up and working it for an ungodly amount of hours over hundreds of miles of roads so other cyclists can have a good experience. First let me say that without the awesome volunteers, it would have been a disaster, so on a "team" filled with great folks, I felt the event was a success and I was really stoked to have been a small part of that success.

Chasing Craig at Odin's Revenge

 Odin's Revenge: 

My favorite event of the year, (so far), and a bittersweet weekend. My buddy MG made it awesome, and my hosts, Chad and Merrie were so accommodating. The ride was stunningly awesome, and the event? I can not say enough good things about that. My performance? I guess this is where I was either beginning to fall ill, or it was the reason I fell ill, but I left it all out there and this event kicked my butt bad. I didn't finish it, and that's the only bad thing I had happen there, but it still bugs the heck outta me. So, next year, I want to return. We'll see how things shake out.

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: Here is my biggest disappointment in my riding all year. I didn't have anything in the tank that day, as I had been dealing with the fallout of Odin's Revenge for weeks, and looking back on this, I was definitely ill with a virus of some sort. How I even managed to get as far as I did, I do not know. However; it really burns me that I couldn't continue on my own ride. Oh well..........

The good news is that I have been getting better all the time since then, a month and a half ago now, and things are clicking again like they haven't since before Trans Iowa last April. So, I am looking forward to riding well at Interbike for the two days I will be able to do that out there, and then when I get back, I am maybe going to do a couple of night time gravel events, or.......well I can not say right now. There is a plan being hatched, but it isn't ripe for consumption just yet. If it looks good, I am going to be saying something soon about it, and if not, you'll never know a thing! Ha! Cryptic, eh?

Stay tuned. The future is looking better..........

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday News And Views: Gravel Goodness!

This weekend an event is happening that is close to my heart: Gravel Worlds in Lincoln, Nebraska. I will be regretting not being there all weekend long, but I made my decision to take care of some things back here at the home front, and I have to stick to my guns on that front.

Why is this such a great event in my eyes? I'll just say that it has great people behind it, a really great, accepting, down to earth vibe, and it is challenging and fun. You like competition? It's there. If you like an adventure, you'll find that as well. Do you like tough courses? There aren't many more challenging.

While some think we're just a bunch of yahoos out here wasting our time not being "real racers" or doing things "the right way", that's fine. If Gravel Worlds is "wrong" I don't wanna be right. They can have the other stuff.

For a brief look at what the folks will be riding out there, check out this little ditty....

 Last Spring I was honored to have my friend and very talented photographer, Jason Boucher come and take some images of T.I.V9. Jason spent the better part of two days soaking it all in and taking some incredible imagery out in the rural areas while T.I.V9 cyclists struggled to overcome the challenges presented that weekend.

Now Jason has decided to share his vision and work from that event. You can go here to view a slide show of 69 images he has posted. If you decide you are smitten by one or two or three, they are available to purchase from that site.

Check it out, it is a good little window on what Trans Iowa is about and even if you don't ever see yourself doing gravel, if you like cycling even a little bit, I bet you'll see something there that you think is interesting. (Thanks again, Jason!)

I'll be out there......somewhere!
I've got a job to get done soon and it involves a certain little lighting product and a whole lot of time out at night.

I've already done a few night rides with this light from wooded riding on trails to bike path and streets to gravel roads. It's an interesting and fun thing to do, but I like riding at night, so maybe I am an oddball.

My wife, well she's not so keen on me doing this alone. I used to have a night riding buddy, but lately I've been going solo and Mrs. Guitar Ted, she's not wanting me to get "run over", as she puts it. Well, fortunately I would darn near have to be blind and deaf to get run over at night on a gravel road, so not much to worry about there.

Now as for dogs, wild animals, and drunks- that's another matter altogether! However; I am willing to risk it and I have a plan for this weekend to get out there and do this deed. It should prove to be a good story, at the least. Hopefully everything comes together for this attempt. Stay tuned......

And Finally.....

Even though Gravel Worlds is happening this weekend, I will be doing the 3GR again, same time and same place as always this Summer, which is Gates Park Swimming Pool parking lot at 8:30am. See ya there if you can make it. If not.....I'll go rogue and do a solo route!

Keep the rubber side down, good luck to all the Gravel Worlds riders, and have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gearing Up For Winter

100mm of goodness
Here's my plan for getting ready for this Winter, and it is pretty ambitious. First thing- I am committed to getting my son on a fat bike. He's ten years old just this past July, and for his birthday I said I would get him a fat bike. He could just barely get on a xtra-small sized Salsa Mukluk, and I put out some feelers for a small used frame, but nothing turned up. So I placed an order yesterday for an XS Mukluk 2 in Gold Metallic for him.

Now this frame I can outfit with much of what I already have on hand. Derailleurs, brakes, crank set, head set, and seat post I have all on hand. I need wheels though, and there is where everything starts with my plans.

I have determined that I need to set myself up with some 100mm rimmed wheels. I am going to take the 70mm rims I have and those wheels will be the boy's wheels. The 100mm rims will go on the Titanium Mukluk, and I want to get a Bud for the front and a Nate for the rear. This should alleviate my washing out with the front and traction issues. 100mm rims should do the trick in the snow as well. That will do for the nasty, deep snow rig.

My other rig, the aluminum Mukluk I call The Snow Dog, that one needs a drive train update. I'm thinking it is also high time to upgrade the crank/bottom bracket as well. So, may as well suck it up and go 10 speed on that rig. It needs a fresh Big Fat Larry out back, some new rim strips, and some other TLC.

The Snow Dog in its natchurl element
While I would love to maybe go with wider rims on the Snow Dog, the Rolling Daryl's will have to do, since the clearances on this first year Mukluk won't work with the biggest tires and rims anyway.

I just think maybe the drive train update, and a few lighter parts here and there will do the trick. Once a trail is set in, this old set up worked really well, and if we would ever get some crusty snow, I bet this will do me just fine. I love the way this bike handles, actually. Plus, it was a 50th Birtday gift, so how could I ever get rid of this? That just is not going to happen. Too many reasons to just keep this one going for as long as I can, really, and why not? It's a great design.

So that's the plan. Obviously I have to get busy and build those big rimmed wheels and prepare for the gold bling frame set for my son, and then all the swapping and building will begin. It should be fun for me, and my son, you might imagine, he is very excited to be getting a bike like Dad's and one that we can share good times together with.

So, stay tuned for all these things coming up later this Fall when the boy's frame set shows up. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fat Bikes: Two Kinds

Adventure by bike or....
I like fat bikes a lot. I thought they were "just for snow", like a lot of cyclists who knew about them did back ten years ago or more. When you stop to think about it, that's pretty much all they were being used for, so why wouldn't we think that? Turns out, the durned things are more fun than we all thought they might be, and so we're seeing a splitting of the genre.

Ten years ago, the whole idea was how to make a bicycle that would traverse the trails of Alaska in winter time with relative ease. How do you keep the wheels from "punching through", and how do you keep the bike from swapping ends, or wallowing to a standstill? Essentially, every innovation in fat bikes up to about a year or two ago was all about how to make a better bike for snow going travel. Fatter tires, wider rims, and the frames and components to fit that were all developed and resulted in a capable machine that could lumber along at a reasonable pace laden with gear in a Winter setting.

But the purveyors of Fat found out that there were more folks itching to ride these beasts and they maybe don't even have snow to ride on, nor mud, nor much sand. In fact, they are basically looking at the fat tires for their "mahoosive amounts" of grip and simple suspension attributes which make riding a mountain bike like this on a mountain a lot of fun. Trouble was, the bikes were designed for loaded touring in softer terrain conditions, not for blazing down some single track in the summer, dodging rocks and trees at warp speed. The big tires bounce, and with no suspension damping, that's an issue. Plus the handling wasn't playful enough. Fat bikes were too lazy, lumbering, and hard to maneuver in the manner trail bikers seemed to prefer.

.....shredding some trail?
Now Salsa has tweaked out their geometry for a bit more "trail bike" handling, and introduced a Beargrease carbon bike that is said to be essentially a hard tail mtb type feeling rig, it just so happens to have these massive tires. Added to that, you see that the fork specs say "suspension corrected". Hmm.....yes, there will be a Rock Shox fat bike fork coming soon.

Then you have Surly and maybe you can throw Specialized and the Alaskan bikes into the "expeditionary" category where big tires, wide rims, and back country features figure in more than suspension and going ripping fast on some crazy single track in Colorado. Two schools of thought, and alraedy you will see that fat bikes are on divergent paths.

Add in On  One, the Trek Farley, and the soon to be released Singular Puffin which all take a much more "trail bike" approach to fat tires, and it becomes apparent that there are two different kinds of fat bikes now for different purposes. It's only going to become a sharper line as time goes by and suspension will hasten this change greatly.

Personally, I am more of an "adventure" type and I like going where I can't go on a 29"er or my gravel rigs. To my mind, it makes sense to tackle the worst situations on fat bikes, and leave the rest to capable machines that do the job faster, or better, or both. (Not that I don't do all season rides on a fat bike, 'cause I do.) Hitting the mud holes, the sandy edges of lakes and streams, or busting a new trail in 6 inches of fresh snow, that's fat biking's real allure for me. But I can totally see there being a reason to ride these anywhere. It is apparent others do as well.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Night Mission

Nearly a full moon
I ran out quick on Monday night to do some light testing and to try to get some decent images to use. First, I had to get out into the country and find a place to ditch the "Truck With No Name". It just doesn't work very well to politely park on the side of a gravel road at night, that is, unless you want to raise suspicions with anyone that happens to come along.

I found a suitable "dead road". That's the term we use around here when no one lives on a mile or more stretch of gravel. I looked and saw some field openings, but the one I liked best was near a stream crossing and some taller trees. I backed in to a corn field and started to unload and gear up for a quick test session.

I was testing with a Magicshine MJ-880 and the Trelock 950, which are lights that couldn't be more different than two LED based lights could be. One a high powered, heat emitting, external cell pack monster and the other an odd German design, self contained, rather cool running unit. One thing that was similar, they both have five light levels and three that really make any difference at all.

Well, the test was semi-successful. I got great comparison shots for the Trelock, but only one really good one on the Magicshine, which is okay, since there are many good ones on my site done by my friends in SoCal. What I was really happy about was that I learned some new things about my camera. That's always a good thing!

More on the lights soon......

Monday, August 19, 2013

That Annual Slimy Feeling

The Strip
Well, I did it again last evening. I booked everything to make the annual trek to Interbike. Gah.....why do I already feel slimed? 

I know people that think Vegas is awesome. Good for you, not so good for me. I am not a gambler, for one thing, and glitz and glamor are definitely not me. Not at all. I'm more like a simple man, really.

Anyhow, the deed is done, and back I go again in mid-September. There has been a change in venue there though, so I won't have to see as much of the Strip as we used to. Now we're to congregate at the Mandalay. That's not far from McCarran International either, so when I walk to the airport after all this is done, I won't have near as far to go!

So, there are a few silver linings in that stinking cloud, and added to that, I get to see many friends and acquaintances that  I only get to see once a year, usually. Plus maybe I'll make a few more friends. Hope so.

What do I think will be the "big deal" this year? Well, I bet something having to do with fat bikes, for sure, will be one of those things. Suspension forks, yes, and maybe something else as well. Maybe a 29+ thing.

Enjoying the best part
27.5"ers will be a big thing too. All the "enduro bikes", (read: this decades "free ride bike"), will be a rage. To me it is just another redressing of long travel, lift assisted bikes that have been around since the 90's. So, the wheels are incrementally a bit bigger. And.......?

Same-ol', same ol'. Just a new marketing plan and a ready made event system to go play with these things. I'm not saying it isn't cool, I am saying it has been cool for years. In other words, there is nothing really new here. Not really.

Then there will be the odd bikes. The "gravel bikes", and some other oddities that a lot of folks won't get, nor want to understand, but these are some of the most interesting bikes at any given Interbike. Things that make sense or really are innovative, or as in most cases, so bizarre that you can't believe they exist at all.

Eurobike will crank up first, we'll all see what is new from that show, and Interbike? Maybe it will be another yawner like last year in terms of "wow factor", or maybe this will be the rare show that will have something really news worthy. Stay tuned.....

Sunday, August 18, 2013

3GR Report: Gang Of Four

Another day of awesomeness
Let me see....The was Single Speed USA going on not all that far away, a mountain bike race in the "back yard", and a ride to celebrate a bridge opening on a bike path in the area. Yeah......I was pretty sure I would be on my own on this 3GR. 

But late Friday I received a text message from  Robert asking whether or not there would be a 3GR, to which I replied in the affirmative. So, on Saturday morning, I thought maybe one person might show up. I left the house with plenty of time to get there and headed off through down town Waterloo.

I was stopped at a stop light when I saw another cyclist blasting up the street. It was Tony who had joined us for the first time last week. maybe there would be two more joining me. Onward to the meeting place. Tony was pushing the speed up, and we were flying along as if we were in a hurry. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, so we started chatting. Suddenly here was Mike. Okay, maybe we would have a group of four. 

I was surprised to have two others to ride with ,quite honestly, but maybe one more would show, so we waited and sure enough, here came Robert. Four would set out then to do the loop.

Robert on point
Mike following.
Tony and I in back
It was a fast start, just as it was going to the meet up place, and conversations waxed and waned depending upon how hard we were pushing it. I could tell this was an accelerated pace from any previous 3GR and I was wondering how long I might be able to sustain it. Mike had said his knee was still bothering him from his Tour divide ride, but he certainly didn't show any weakness going out.

I battened down the hatches for a tough ride. I tried to be smart and not over do it. Fortunately I had been feeling better of late, so I was able to maintain pace without going into the red zone. Water at the proper time, and smart use of my gears really helped yesterday, as it got warmer as we went along. The other guys finally backed it down a notch when we got close to halfway through, so I was glad to see that.

The conversations went on then, since the riding wasn't so taxing. We went back around to the South and hit the hills running past the Camp when the speeds and all went back up again. At the point that was most advantageous for Mike to peel off to get himself home, he waved us goodbye and disappeared Eastward. The three remaining riders finished up the loop, now with slower speeds, thankfully. My legs were burning and I was getting really hungry from the harder efforts.

Soon we were back threading through the bicycle paths and streets of Waterloo's North side and we decided we all had time for a pit stop at the coffee shop. It was such a fine day that when we all obtained our Cottonwood Canyon coffees and treats, we sat outside, and enjoyed the perfect conditions. It was rather obvious that no one of us was in a hurry to get anywhere, but after an hour plus of great conversation and rest, I felt the tug to get a move on.

So we all drifted to our respective homes and I was beat. I had to wait a further 2.5 hours until lunch, since we were doing a late celebration of my son's 10th birthday. I was about passing out, but a good sandwich and fries revived me, and I survived!

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Welcome to the (Iowa) Jungle!
Green: If you live here in the Mid-West, you'd better like green. The landscape is predominantly this color from May through September, especially in the woods where I find single track fun. It just so happens that I like green a lot, so I am okay with this phenomenon.

Green extends to the open country as well. The crops here, predominantly corn and soybeans, paint the land in a carpet of green. this gets somewhat muted when the corn tassels out, and also when the odd field of oats ripens. But green is the order of the day for the most part.

Of course, the city follows suit with everyone's green lawns, the trees, and the golf courses which dot the landscape. Only the buildings and pavement break it up, and the sky, of course, otherwise it is all about green. Well, I should mention the rivers and lakes, but as you know, they only reflect the sky for the day, and the green trees that line those lakes and rivers.

An unusual field of flowers to break up the Green
 I had an old school mate that I grew up with who left the Mid-West for Arizona many years ago. He was back one time for our home town's Independence Day celebration. He couldn't get over how green everything was in Iowa.

Of course, he had been on a "green fast" ever since he moved to the desert Southwest, a land replete with tan, ochre, red, and the occasional dot of green vegetation here and there. When he finally came back for that visit, he saw the land in a way he couldn't before. Maybe we all take it for granted here, I don't know, but green is just the way it is here. Well, until "Brown", and then "White" comes!

I made mention of that the other day. We have four seasons: Green, Brown, White, and Mud! They all have their particular charms, which I enjoy. Not everyone here is so enamored of certain seasons, but they are what they are, and you can grouse all you want, or learn to find the good and celebrate it. I chose the latter, (most of the time!), but I am only human.

So about this green thing- I like that color a lot, as I said. Only purple trumps it for me, and anything green or purple are things I tend to be drawn to and like. So with that in mind, something happened recently that had something to do with bicycles and one of my favorite colors, which is a dangerous thing, ya know!

BMC Cross colors
Black Mountain Cycles has a new run of their Cross frames coming out, and with that a couple of color options. (See that here) There's a great story behind the green color choice, but what matters most is that it is, of course!

If you've spent any amount of time reading this blog over the last two years, you already know that I really like my Black Mountain Cycles bike a lot. That bike I dubbed "Orange Crush" because, is orange, of course! I like orange fine enough, but I don't want two Black Mountain Cycles Cross frames in the same color. There is a gray color but I am not smitten by the hue, so green it will be.

Then you might ask, "Why would you want a green one when you have the orange one, besides the color?" Fair enough question, and the answer is "single speed". I had the Orange Crush set up originally as a single speed, and I really enjoyed it, so I miss that now. There are a lot of times when a single speed cross bike like the BMC would be perfect for here, such as in Winter, (otherwise known as "White"), or during the Spring, (otherwise known as "Mud"), when things are very messy out on the country roads.

So I am looking really hard at getting another one in green, and making it my single speed green machine.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday News And Views

Night time gravel grindin'!
Gravel Adventures In The Dark:

I'm not sure why, but it seems that with the onset of Fall, the night time gavel events kick in. I know of three that are coming up, and I've done one or two in the past. These rides/races are a blast. Riding gravel roads at night is just a wholly different experience. I'd recommend it for sure.

You can check out all the details on the Gravel Grinder News calendar of events here. But here are the three I am aware of now.
You'll need a quality light that has at least 120-150 lumens, and a good tail light. That light should last long enough to get you through a metric century, (63-65 miles), and it should have a good beam pattern. Not too spotty. Look for a helmet light with a spot beam for navigation. An LED torch would do for that job.

This may be THE light, or not....
Speaking of Lights:

I am checking out this Trelock LS 950 Control Ion Bike Light for Twenty Nine Inches and Gravel Grinder News. It claims to be a very bright light with astounding run times. Like up to 45 hours on low, and six hours at the highest level. In between there are three other steps with run times from over 8 hours to 19 hours. 

The light uses an element that is reflected and therefore doesn't really need to use some blazingly hot LED array to be bright and this obviously makes it more efficient. I like the self contained, USB charger design, and it isn't too big or bulky, but don't get me wrong, it isn't as tiny as some of the LED high powered stuff I've seen. 

It's got a cool backlit LED read out that gives you a running countdown on light left in minutes. I don't know if the clock is accurate to actual energy left on tap, or if it isn't just a simple backwards counting clock set to approximates. That I will have to see during testing. If nothing else, it is a good ride timer! The unit looks well made, as you might expect a German made product to be, and has a swiveling mounting system so you can aim this where you want it to, which I find especially nice on swept back handle bars, or for mounting the light off the center line of the bike.  

I've only had it out briefly, once on city streets, and it throws a beam pattern down the road well enough. I'll be talking more about this soon. Stay tuned..... (Note: The light was sent for test and review to TNI and GGN at no charge. I am not being bribed, nor paid for saying anything about this product. I always strive to tell you my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Portland Design Works "Aether Demon"
On the tail light front, a coworker of mine showed me a Portland Design Works "Aether Demon" tail light that I was rather impressed with. It also charges up via a USB cord, but I thought it was well made, light in weight, and it has a nice set of modes that may appeal to some. 

Probably as bright as anyone would really need, the Aether Demon has two useful modes and two more that might be of interest. The two I liked were dubbed "Dance" and "Breathe". Dance is your typical blinky on steroids pattern, nicely annoying. The Breathe mode is a great, softly glowing to full brightness and back to dark again mode that I thought was cool. Think "radio tower" light and you may know what I mean.  Both these modes go a claimed 8 hours. The next two modes were things I'd likely never use, but you might like these. A low powered blinky pattern for group rides that lasts 175 hours, (claimed), or a solid red tail light that goes for up to 3.5 hours. 

Not a bad choice at a MSRP of $49.99, I'd say. If the dang thing holds up for my co-worker, (yes- he is the guinea pig!), I may try one out as well.  Note: I have only held the "little devil" and checked it out briefly. It may suck or it may be the greatest tail light ever, but all I know is that it looks well made and seems like a good deal on the surface of it. I'll chime back in if and when I learn more, or if I decide to pop for one of these things. 

Question: "If I mount an Aether Demon to my seat bag, will I ride like the hounds of Hell are chasing me?" Could be a good motivator!

3GR: Although there is a mountain bike race going on in Geo Wyth this weekend, I will be out doing my usual grind on gravel, as I don't XC race. (Retired in '97) Those that go to that XC event should have a great time, but if you aren't so inclined, I'll be at the Gates Swimming Pool lot at 8:30am once again. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

News Season: Part 9- 29+

Surly will make this 29+ too.
29+, the moniker for the 700c X 3inch wide tire format that Surly came up with, has been a very intriguing format. The thing, (like anything related to bicycle wheels), is that choice has held back the idea from going much farther than the Krampus and a few conversions and custom bike ideas. Well, that should begin to change.

The new Surly catalog is available for download and in it you will see that a 700c X 3" Dirt Wizard tire is coming at some point. This is the tire that should be on the Krampus, (in my opinion), and it also should pop open the dam a bit with regard to 29+ ideas from custom bike makers and maybe another brand or two. Well, I should say that this has already happened a bit. Check the following out...

Sam over at Singular Cycles has been toying with the 29+ idea by testing the tires and rims on a couple of his models.  It sure looks as if he's headed down the path of making something work with 29+ wheels and tires. My bet is that the news of a 29+ Dirt Wizard tire will push him off the edge and that it will happen. Stay tuned on that front....

You'll also note that Singular is getting closer to releasing the fat bike Puffin model. I've seen the prototype and it is amazing. The 100mm eccentric bottom bracket is cool, and the steel construction Singular is noted for should make this bike a nice ride for trails. Yes....the Puffin is optimized for fat tired single tracking. Much like On One's take on fat biking, Singular focused more on trail riding feel and performance instead of snow, sand, and mud, but it isn't like the Puffin won't be able to do that as well. It just means that the Puffin will be a four season fat bike, good at everything, and it should prove to be capable when the weather goes sour. Stay tuned on that front as well.....

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

News Season: Part 8- Fat Bikes & US Made Bikes?

Farley complete and Farley frame set.
Apparently folks are all about fat bikes lately. This post, which was about fat bikes from Salsa has been at the top of the heap in the stats here for well over two weeks now. I'll have more about Salsa and other QBP brands in a bit...

Right now let's take a look at Trek's fat bike entry, the Farley. More details have emerged on this bike since the U.S. version of Trek World has kicked off here Monday.

The Farley was a puzzler for me when I got wind of it because it was being shown with Surly tires and rims. Trek has the horsepower to do their own thing, and as we saw with Specialized, they are planning on doing their own rims and tires, so why not Trek?

Note: The following is purely speculation on my part. You've been warned! My thought is that the Trek Farley was rushed to market, maybe a bit sooner than Trek would have liked. Why do I think this? Because it has come to light that Trek is only producing 500 Farley's for 2014. (Presumably, this includes frame sets) Still- that's a lot of Farleys, but Trek probably can not get more tires and rims from Surly right now. (Which may explain the Knards, which are a pretty terrain specific tire, not very conducive to softer conditions.)  Add to that the fact that Trek plans on having their own tires and rims by 2015. Makes one wonder........

Next, the claims on the weight of this bike. Trek is rumored to be saying this bike will weigh 26lbs. Okay, let's think about that. The last aluminum lightweight fat bike was the Salsa Beargrease. It weighed 28+ pounds in a size medium. It was aluminum, stripped of any braze ons save for the bottle cage bosses on the frame, and had a pretty spiffy kit, including some snazzy e13 cranks.

It's hard to imagine that the Farley will out do the Beargrease of 2013 by two pounds, especially considering the fact that the Beargrease and the Farley have essentially the same wheels and tires. But, we'll see. Consider also that the price on the Farley is about what last year's Beargrease was, and I can be colored skeptical on this one. The shop where I work has one coming in. My scales are ready..... UPDATED: A Trek World attendee has confirmed that the Farley will actually be in the 29 pound range as told to him by a Trek product manager. That's what I figured....

Made in the U.S.A?
QBP Brands To Be Made Stateside?

According to a post on Cyclelicious, Quality Bicycle Products may be producing bicycle frames in Minnesota within the next few years. QBP head, Steve Flagg, is quoted in the post from an interview from Minnesota Public Radio and hints that the process to reach a goal of having Stateside frame production is in process. (See more here.)

Those are bold words there. This would be the biggest frame production and bike assembly producer in the U.S. since the days of Trek's steel frame production in the 80' and 90's. Many pundits have been saying that Asian production is getting more expensive and less profitable for U.S. based companies, and at some point the tables would turn for a favorable manufacturing climate here in the U.S. Maybe that time is nigh.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rock & Road

Looks "right & proper" now.
Tires- I've probably ridden more types of tires than most folks on a bicycle, but they keep making more! Sometimes you have to wonder, "How can they make anything really different?" I mean, what type of tread hasn't already been tried? I find it to be kind of funny how many tires actually don't work very well, especially when there are tread patterns that work really well, and could be slightly altered to be someone elses tire that works reasonably well.

Well, however that works, I don't understand, but here's something unusual in the bicycle tire world: A tread design made up by a Mountain Bike Hall of fame member in the late 80's that you can still buy today, and still gets rave reviews. The Bruce Gordon Rock & Road tire.

I was up late last week on a Facebook page for cyclists here that trade and sell components and bikes. I happened to jump to this page 13 minutes after a Nebraska friend posted two Rock & Road tires with minimal use for sale. I did not hesitate to pounce. The deal was fair, and I have always wanted to try a pair of these out. He already has another pair anyway, so these were not getting used. A win-win, you could say. 

These tires get thumbs up from many users yet, even 25 years after they were first made. Gravel riders, dirt riders, and even folks that mountain bike with these. It's a tire made by Panaracer in Japan, so the quality is top notch. Plus- it's got snazzy skin walls!  I like that myself. (For the party-poopers, there is also a black wall version.)

Funny thing about tread design. I once heard it said, (or read this somewhere), that the best design for an off road tread is one that uses square blocks. Just look at most any dirt tire from any discipline and you'll see that a squarish block pattern is predominately the favorite type. Notice the Rock & Road's pattern? Well, I've heard it said that these do quite well on dirt, and I will be finding that out soon. 

The Rock & Roads are 43mm wide and true to spec, mine weighed in at 540 grams. I mounted them to the HED Ardennes+ wheels and used tubes, but honestly, they fit so tight and snapped into place so well, I probably could have gone tubeless. Anyway, I am sure they will work just fine with tubes. I'm not going to lose any sleep over that.

So, gravel and dirt will be assaulted with these tires and I will be back with a report. Although these are not "brand spanking new" Rock & Roads, they are the next best thing to it, and I suspect I'll be using them for quite some time to come.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shifting Gears

My only hard tail w/shifty bits
My son starts school today! That's a sign. A sign that things are turning and changing. Summer is waning and Fall is right around the corner. I like Fall, but Summer waited so long to get going I feel like it was barely here and now it's almost over.

Other changes are coming too. Fall brings all the new bicycle news and people start making plans to get on new rigs or newer components. Fall brings out the cyclo cross nuts and fat bikes. Fall brings out the lights and the wool stuff. Fall is a great time to be out in the woods in the crisp air.

But Summer isn't over just yet, and who knows how long She'll stay on this year. It's been coolish here and doesn't look to be changing soon, so the "perfect weather" just keeps on rolling. 70's during the day, lower 60's and upper 50's at night.

There's going to be some changes around here as well. I have a plan to get a couple new rigs in the stable over the next six months. (Gotta plan ahead, ya know!) So, I may be parting with some stuff in the coming months. Still figuring all that out just yet. There will be some spiffing up of the fat bikes here. The Snow Dog needs some new drive train bits and By-Tor needs some new, monster wheels to accept some new rubber I've planned to install. Plus there may be a new wheel set that will be "quite interesting" for By-Tor coming also. Stay tuned....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

3GR Report: Local Knowledge

Spectacular weather
The 3GR rides of late maybe have had the very best weather for bicycle riding that I can ever remember. This last one has been another brick in that wall of goodness. Just clear skies, little to no wind, and pleasant temperatures.

Now, Mike was along once again, so what little wind there was came out of the North, because he is the "Mann av Nordavinden". Every time he's been on the 3GR this year, that's the direction the wind has originated from. Coincidence? I think not! 

We also were joined by a new rider named Tony who has been just getting into the gravel scene here and interestingly enough, knew all about the history behind our route. I'm a history fan, especially for the local scene, which is being lost to some degree around here. Tony filled in a lot of gaps with his knowledge and I came away with an even greater appreciation for the area and for Tony. Thanks man! 

We did scoot right along for all that jibber-jabber though, as we completed the route in 2.5 hours. I think that is the fastest 3GR this year. 

L-R: Mike and Tony
The ride started out about as always with a bunch of chatter, but then we all grew quiet for a bit as we found ourselves upping the pace a tick from the normal 3GR ride pace. Everyone seemed to be plugging along okay so I didn't see any need to back off. I was under a time constraint anyway, as I had to be back home by noon to allow Mrs. Guitar Ted and my daughter to head out for some "Girl Time". 

The ride for today was the Vaya. I had taken the steel fork off of it on Friday and went back to the carbon Winwood fork for now since  I am pretty sure my steel fork is a recalled one. (Gotta check on that yet.) The Vaya really shows how a lower bottom bracket makes a huge difference on a gravel bike's ride. Way, way more stable, even with the rounded Panaracer Pasela tires which I wouldn't say were anywhere near ideal for the road conditions yesterday. On the Gravel Mutt V1, these tires would be a nightmare, since that bike has a skyscraper bottom bracket height.  Gravel was loose and chunky in many spots yet, but there was some relief to be found along the edges of the roads. 

Just about the end of the line for these....
I recall seeing Tiger Lillys in the ditches back in late May. I figured flower season had come early and would have been long gone by now, but the relatively cooler summer and timely rains have kept the roadways beautified right into August. I suspect that will start to finally stop soon, but this summer has been tops for flowers. I have really enjoyed it.  

Tony helped me appreciate the route more, as I said, when he shared his knowledge of several things, including Ivanhoe Road. He says that Ivahoe was a traditional Native American path and that the settlers built farms along it. We also surmised that it served to pass goods from Waverly to Denver, since the road runs in a fairly straight line between the two, but the terminus of each end of that theorized pathway has been lost. Only the middle remains, and we get to ride on it. 

As stated, the ride went quickly, even after Mike peeled off to get himself back to Cedar Falls when we were closest to that city on the loop. I felt really good. The best I have in a long time, and even afterward I wasn't "zapped" of energy, just naturally tired and hungry. It sure is nice to be back on the upswing with regard to my health.