Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Look Forward To 2015

So, it's the end of another year, and as I look forward to the next, I am pretty stoked on the possibilities. The coming year will be busy, like any other, but I hope to have a bit more streamlined and fun time ahead than I have had in the past.

I will be partaking in several events next year- some I have no idea about, yet..... These are the ones I am sure I am going to get to. First up is Frostbike in Minneapolis. I have a very fond place in my heart for this event and what it means to me. Mostly because of the people, of course, but Frostbike is also something that is interesting in its own right. Some years more so than others, but usually there is something- or many things- I was glad to have seen and learned about. This February I hope to carry that tradition onward.....

  • Then I do know that there will be another Geezer Ride in either late March or mid-April at the latest. It will happen from Grinnell, Iowa, and it will be the 40-ish mile, no drop format with a visit to a pub afterward. I'll nail down a date soon, and then ya'all that want to come can plan on it. 
  • The Renegade Gents Race in the first week of April. I wouldn't miss this for the world. My team will hopefully return intact and we will do battle with gravel roads, Budweiser, and Four Loko. 
  • Then there will be Trans Iowa Recon and the event itself- T.I.V11. It should be a scene!
  • Odin's Revenge will be visited once more, assuming I get in......
  • Another Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational? Yes. I have a score to settle in Clayton County.
That's what I know for sure now. There may be changes- additions, subtractions, or modifications to that plan. I try to stay flexible! Then there is one more thing I have to reveal.....

Since 2005 I have been a contributor to Twenty Nine I was not looking to ever run a website about 29"ers, and in the beginning, I didn't even want to become anything more than an occasional contributor. I let myself be convinced that there was something advantageous to becoming a major contributor in the Fall of '06 at a meeting at Interbike. Then as things progressed, I was made promises that were not fulfilled. By '08, even though I had no reason to stay any longer, I was neck deep in commitments to the site that, at least in a personal sense, I was unwilling to leave unfulfilled. That said, being a total "noob" to anything web related, I suddenly found myself having to pull strings and push buttons I had no idea about. The previous web designer/owner just dumped it all in my lap with almost zero support. Contacts that were previously made by the previous owner were lost, sensitive info I desperately needed, and tech support were non-existent. I was in dire straits with regard to TNI.

Well, I was super blessed to have had Grannygear, and then c_g from Germany pick me up by my bootstraps and make TNI what it is today. Seeing as how the thing is on its feet, and that my contributions are a pittance in comparison to their massive efforts, and seeing as how I am being stretched in other directions, it came time for me to let something go. TNI was the obvious choice. I am a liability to that site, if you want to know the truth of it, and those guys will be far better off without me holding them back. There are a lot of behind the scenes reasons for that which I cannot talk about openly, but that's the gist of it.

So anyway, long story short- I am ceasing day to day involvement with Twenty Nine as of today. I have one more "assignment" to fulfill for that site, but then when I file that report with Grannygear I'll be done. It was fun, it was tedious, it was rewarding, and a big learning experience. I come away from that time a better guy for the experience, but it cost me a lot in time and money lost. I hope that by cutting that loose from my life I will gain more time for family and friends. Hopefully that will be the case.

Now onward to 2015.......

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#biggrin Memorial Fund

Joel Dyke- Image courtesy of Dirty Kanza 200
A memorial fund for the late Joel Dyke has been set up to help Joel's widow Michele and his son and unborn child now and in the coming months and weeks.

If you don't know, Joel was co-founder of the Dirty Kanza 200 gravel grinder, an accomplished cyclist and a fixture of the Kansas City cycling scene. Joel is responsible for helping to kick off the gravel scene as it stands today and was a staunch supporter of grassroots, self-supported type gravel events. He has touched many of our lives and he will be deeply missed.

Joel Dyke lost his life in an accident in his workshop at home sometime late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning last weekend. Apparently he succumbed to injuries incurred when he fell off a ladder. 

Please consider helping out. Click the link and see how you can help out.

I understand that a memorial ride will be happening out of Trek Bikes of Kansas city bike shop on Saturday, if you are local to the area, maybe you could show your respect and support in this manner.

A Year End Visit

The last time I'll do that......
This past weekend was marked by a visit from my good friend, MG. He was up from Lincoln visiting relatives and we managed to hook up on Saturday morning for a late breakfast and some great conversation.

It was a good thing to see him after so long a time. No bikes were ridden on trails, but MG did take a short spin on my Blackborow and deemed it pretty nice. There was MG's dog, Amy, and she was sweet as could be. She even gave me a tiny lick. Guess I'm okay in her book!

Anyway, I was glad to have seen him and after this weekend's events I am reminded again how tenuous and precious life is. Making time for friends......well, I say don't miss the chances you get. You never know. That's all I'll say about that.

Then on Sunday I got out for a proper ride. I did something I'll never do again, (which you'll figure out after tomorrow's post), and that was kind of an interesting deal on top of what would normally have been a pretty fun ride any other time. The ground was melted in spots, and frozen and firm most every where else. This made for a ride where you weren't sure when you'd get real loose, or be railing with great traction. I did one of those diggers which always seem like they happen in slow motion. No harm done, so it was just kind of an interesting experience to have. Kind of like sliding into home plate, only on a bicycle.

Now its time for a New Year and I'm looking forward to doing a lot of cool stuff. I'll get around to detailing some of that in tomorrow's post........

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rear View 2014: Part 4

Well, as I forewarned, and as I have done about every year end now, here is my series on a look back over at 2014 before it is gone. Rear View Part 3 can be seen HERE

September came on and I was still getting over being sick and injured from back in late July, but I was out riding again. I had a box of tires to test and I had to build up two sets of wheels to test them on. I had Labor Day tradition to uphold as well, so I went to the Iowa Falls car show and had a great time with my family.

Two things were on the radar- One was Trans Iowa recon and registration, the other was not going to Interbike. One was necessary for an event next year and the other traditionally was a total pain and very disruptive to my life every Fall. Yes.....I met many great folks and had awesome experiences. Obviously none of those things would have happened had I not gone to eight straight Interbike shows. But that was enough. I am truly grateful for those times with good people and the things that came from that, but I don't like Las Vegas and the show was pure tedium by the time I went there last year. It was time for me to take a break from it all, and in regard to how I feel about the trip and being here instead, well I was super happy this Fall to stay at home. That was the right decision for me at this point.

Trans Iowa recon happened and it was a frustrating day from the standpoint of the sketched out route, which didn't pan out at all the way I had hoped it would. I came home from that very concerned and unhappy with the several reroutes we had to figure out. However; it was a fun day with Jeremy and it was good to get a jump on the process of figuring out a route for T.I.V11.

One of the cool roads we had to cut out of the route in September.
Then it was setting up for registration for T.I.V11. I announced the details in early October right after the first recon, and right on the heels of that, I announced fine details for the mid-October grinder, "The Geezer Ride". Meanwhile, the body started coming around and with the awesome Fall weather I was able to string together some great night rides on an old trail I made and on gravel roads as well.

My Fargo Gen I bike went down with a bad free hub right before the Geezer Ride and so I took the Tamland. I hadn't really ridden it much since the GTDRI crash, but I did sneak in  one longer ride just before the Geezer Ride to reacquaint myself with it. The Geezer Ride itself was an amazing success. It went over far better than I had ever imagined it would, and as it turns out, it was one of the major highlights of the year for me. Requests to hold other Geezer Rides were heard from many folks and I do plan on having one in the Springtime out of Grinnell Iowa. Look for a date on that sometime soon in the New Year.

The scene at the beginning of the Geezer Ride. I was astounded by the turnout.
The T.I.V11 registration kicked off soon after and post cards rolled in for past Winners and Finishers of the event. It was shaping up to be a stacked field just from this group alone, but the real fireworks regarding the registration were yet to come.

Fat bike musings were many, and I transferred the "ultra-fat" set up from the old Snow Dog to the Ti Muk by month's end, relegating the 29+ wheels that were on the Muk to the parts bin. I eventually sold them off in December to fund a guitar for Mrs. Guitar Ted's Master's Degree accomplishments. Honestly, I don't think I would dabble in 29+ again unless it were for a frame and fork designed around the platform. Grafting them onto the Mukluk was a good experience, but the bike didn't suit me well in that guise and so the experiment ended.

November! What can I say! It was a November to remember for sure. Way crazier and busier than ever before for me. First was the finishing touches on the Trans Iowa route, which went really well. Then the Trans Iowa registration madness with the Rookies was unprecedented. The process was amped up even more by a prank card entry supposedly sent in by a disgraced former Pro roadie. Fall officially ended on November 12th when a cold front came in and we went into the deep freeze. Then it was on to an early delivery of my Blackborow DS, which I figured wouldn't show up until maybe around now. Not only that, but after Brian left the employment of the shop where I work, I came in to find the old shop employee owned Surly 1X1 on my bench one morning.

It came just in time for the only snow we've had so far this Winter.
Bad news came in the form of Steve Hed's death and then it was Thanksgiving, which I spent with my family. This marked a warm up and the end of the snow. Oh, and the end of November as well.

The beginning of December was no less busy, as a behind the scenes plan came into the light of day on December 3rd when I announced that Gravel Grinder News was merging with Then it was on to the second Trans Iowa Clinic in Des Moines which went over pretty well, I think.

Things quieted down a lot after that, and that was okay after a whirlwind of a year. But what's new, right? Anyway, that brings us up to the moment and the end of my "Rear View" for 2014. I had mentioned a year ago that there would be changes in my life and a big one I expected never happened. Trans Iowa carries onward! Much to the delight of many riders, I am sure. The other thing wasn't planned specifically, but came along and helped provide a piece of the puzzle that was missing.

A Look Forward into 2015 will finish up the year........

Sunday, December 28, 2014


The Dirty Kanza 200 was co-founded by Joel Dyke
Got some sad news today. Joel Dyke, the affable, wiry guy that helped start the Dirty Kanza 200, was found dead this morning due to a tragic accident in his home.

I always liked Joel from the minute I met the guy. I first found out about him when he got in contact with Jeff Kerkove and I concerning how someone could put on such an event as Trans Iowa. Joel and his friend, Jim Cummings, were interested in maybe doing something similar down in Kansas. Jeff and I were really excited to find out about this and we did what we could to encourage them. In fact, Joel even came up and rode in the first and second versions of Trans Iowa.

Joel Dyke, (L) at T.I.V2
Joel was a kind, sweet soul and I will always remember that when ever he e-mailed me he would refer to me in his notes as "sexy pants". At first, that took me aback, but I came to realize it was just his sense of humor towards those he thought well of.

He also would be quick to encourage me if he sensed I was struggling with something having to do with Trans Iowa. He would often message me or e-mail me, always ending his encouragement with "big grin".

It's been a long while since I have seen Joel and now I won't ever again here. I'll miss his encouragement and all he did to encourage cycling and especially self-supported gravel rides. However; his memory and his influence will live on. Every time I see wild flowers lining a lonely stretch of gravel with a horizon of blue sky punctuated by puffy clouds, I'll look beside me and see a ghostly image of a lanky gent with a toothy grin on bike with a rug snake and think about Joel Dyke.

Ride On..............#biggrin

Trans Iowa V11: A Look At The Rules Part 15

Last year I did a historical overview of each Trans Iowa up to T.I.V9. This year I am going to revisit something that I feel many folks have overlooked for a long time; The "Race Rules".

Last week I talked about weather related stuff HERE, and now it's time to talk more about navigation:

17: No GPS Systems allowed for navigation. GPS's are allowed for personal data and recording your ride.

I'll be completely honest here, I don't know exactly where this one comes from. Be that as it may, I certainly do know how this rule has affected Trans Iowa, as it is something that pops up as a question every year. GPS units have become increasingly popular and used for all sorts of things. Not only that, but you have Strava and all kinds of odd ball applications for GPS including cell phones and cameras! Tracking an individual has become quite easy if you aren't careful. Or maybe you want to be tracked!

Whatever the case, early on in Trans Iowa we were only concerned with letting folks know we weren't going to provide a GPS track for the course, and quite frankly, it would have been impossible for us. We were on a shoestring budget and gadgets were not on our radar. We were contacted by the Trackleaders/SPOT guys and at one point I even reached out to them on the suggestion of T.I.V5 winner, Joe Meiser. It never really worked out for several logistical reasons, so that never happened. Now GPS tracking units come in several forms, and we even have some riders carry SPOT units on their own. But that doesn't help with navigation......

Navigating by GPS was our concern, but we figured out later on that if anyone were to try to download the cues given to them into a GPS tracker/Nav unit, they would have maybe 50 miles of the course, (and you probably could easily follow someone in the event anyway at that point), then you'd have a handful of cues to try to get into a GPS unit at CP#1, and then what? Yeah......logistically it just doesn't work. Plus, we just couldn't figure out how the heck folks would read their nav unit and ride, and whatever..... It probably could be done, but it would be very impractical.

So, what most folks want anyway is to have a track of their ride with stats. We made a decision for riders to be able to do that as long as the unit wasn't being used for navigation, which again, would be highly impractical anyway. As far as we know, GPS, while becoming much more prevalent, hasn't impacted Trans Iowa negatively so far.

Next Week: You Are Responsible For You......again!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Muddy Musings

Gooey mud!
I've been doing some purposeful forays into mud and clay of late with both the fat bikes I have up and running now. The reasons are many, and fun is definitely way up there on the list. I may be old, but the "boy" in me still likes playing in the mud!

The main reason for all the muddy mud puppy action is that I know some riders are showing up for next Spring's Trans Iowa on fat bikes. This has not been tried before now. Having seen first hand what the mud does to "normal" Trans Iowa rigs, I was curious as to what the Iowa mud would do to a fat bike.

The typical river silt mud I get to ride on around here is one thing, but out on the gravel roads, it typically is clay you'll run into, more often than not, and this isn't something I get to ride on around here much. Fortunately, the powers that be dug up my little stretch of the former Starlite Theater grounds I used to cut across on my way to work every day. This uncovered a swath of clay right where I can still ride through until they fence me out, do something to block my way, or make it uninteresting to ride through there.

Anyway, the temperatures and moisture have conspired twice in the past week, week and a half or so to make for a perfect trial run. It was........not very surprising what the results were. If Trans Iowa V11 is wet at all, the fat bikers will be getting schooled in the ways of Iowa dirt. I won't say that they should or should not show up on fat bikes. I will say that it could get very, very interesting out there if they do. Anyway, my curiosity is satisfied. Back to my regularly scheduled programming for now......

Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday News And Views

B+...."Mid-Fat".....or whatever you wanna callit!
On One Teases Proto "Mid-Fat" Design

First of all, "mid-fat" is the name I'm going with for any tire that is between 2.5" wide and 3.8" wide of any diameter! It is just so much easier to figure out what the heck you are talking about when it is put that way. Then you can just say, "this is a mid-fat bike that uses 27.5" rims and that mid-fat bike uses 29"er rims" and so on. Enough of this "plus" business, okay? Mid-Fat. Makes sense and communicates the idea in an easy to understand and compare way. It slots into "normal" mountain bike nomenclature well.

Now if we could only go back to calling 2.25" tires "fat" like they used to and the current fat bike tires? Obese? Nah......that's probably too offensive for tender minded types. Hmm...... Anyway.

Back to business here! This bike is .........well, it is hard to say, really. The image was staged very carefully, make no mistake. The angle of the image does not show how wide the hubs are, nor how wide the bottom bracket may be. This could be a ploy to hide a fat bike here. Or......maybe not. Hard to say. Those are 27.5" rims and Vee Tire Trax Fatty tires in the 27.5" format, which if set onto wide rims, are 3" wide tires. We can see that the rims have cut outs, indicating a wider rim. Gotta be at least a 50mm wide rim for holes that big, I would think. That means the Trax Fattys may even be measuring wider than 3" by a bit.

WARNING! HIGHLY SPECULATIVE PARAGRAPH FOLLOWS===> The frame looks to be of steel. Makes sense, especially being something from On One. NOTE: The 27.5" based 3" wide tire would come out to be 29" in diameter, or just shy of that. This would be the same diameter, or very close to it, of a 26" rim based 4" wide tire on a 65mm wide rim. Could this be a bike that can be a fat bike or mid-fat? Maybe. I'm saying that it is not the case.

Another Highly Speculative Paragraph!! ===> I think this is a specifically formatted frame for Mid-Fat wheels. It certainly will have a wider rear hub, but not fat bike wide. I am thinking it will have an 83mm bottom bracket. This does two things: (1) It makes several crank sets from SRAM, Shimano, and others immediately compatible and is a standardized width coming from the down hill mtb side of things. Heavy? Yes, but available. No need for new components. Keeps the "Q" factor within reason for many. (2) It has a mechanical advantage with the right rear hub spacing, (again, most likely DH based at 150mm, but it maybe that Boost nonsense Trek developed), which means shifting has been dialed for years already and hubs exist from many manufacturers. All that means that we could have full drive trains and the chain would easily clear the rear tires.

The 150mm wide front hub is a game changer.
Oh What The Heck! Here's Another Load Of Speculation!! ====> Look at that fork. Seriously? This bike clearly has "trail bike radness" written all over it. Why the rigid fork? Well.....I think a Mid-Fat specific fork is on the way. It will be clearanced for the 3" wide tires on wide rims and it will have wider hubs. I am betting you that Mid-Fat and Fat Bikes will share the 150mm front hub standard going forward. The Bluto proved it works well, and let's face it, the 100mm wide front fork spacing is antiquated and sub-par for any bike with larger than 26" wheels. So......yeah, I think 29"ers go this way as well. At least the longer traveled, more aggressive 29"ers. They would really benefit from that. Or.....all long travel, rad hard tailed 29"ers go away in favor of Mid-Fat. Those bikes would essentially be 29"ers, (technically speaking, and that's how 29"ers came to be anyway- It was based on overall wheel diameter), so the industry could do away with 29"ers altogether and just have one wheel size- 27.5"- in several different width formats. 29+ might be an outlier, but this bike industry likes to streamline stuff for ease of business purposes, so I feel a culling of this wheel madness coming on. I could be wrong about 29"ers going away, but I bet less of the longer traveled stuff will exist and it will be an XC dominated category instead.

All righty then! That's enough speculating for one post! I do know that the bicycle industry is going to push the Mid-Fat deal hard for 2016. You'll start seeing it pop up at Sea, Sea Otter, that is! Then the various dealer show/private roll outs will happen and then you'll be getting the idea that this Mid-Fat thing is for real. Hints are coming in from many sources already that this will be the case. It will get pushed on the enduro side, it will get pushed on the "rad hard tail bike" side, and I figure it will be the antidote to the fat bike full suspension ideas that Salsa Cycles and a few micro-companies are pushing out now.

This will mean more business. In a flat market, new ideas that require new components to be purchased are exactly where the industry will go to and hope that they get more unit sales. It will work because folks seem to gravitate to the next big thing in mountain biking like white on rice, and I see this as being no different. Besides, these bikes do look like fun! I know that between the 29+ Borealis Echo I rode and the B+ WTB Trailblazer wheels I have on the Sawyer that the fatter, more voluminous, but not quite fat bike, tires are loads of fun.

For more on where the Mid-Fat thing is coming from and going to, see this Bike Radar article I just found that was published back in October. 

Have a great weekend- the last one of 2014!!- and get outside and enjoy life!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Rear View 2014: Part 3

Leaving for the last time? I thought so here as I left T.I.V10
Well, as I forewarned, and as I have done about every year end now, here is my series on a look back over at 2014 before it is gone. Rear View Part 2 can be seen HERE

Going into May I was being slowly convinced by several e-mails and by my own inner thoughts that there would indeed be a T.I.V11. As tired as I was after T.I.V10 I didn't think it would be possible to think about doing anymore, and after all, I had decided to quit years ago after T.I.V10's completion. Well, that thought slowly died during May!

Trans Iowa thoughts continued in the form of getting things set up for the Trans Iowa Master's Program route/challenge. I also continued on with the discussion of gravel road riding and bicycles in light of many pundits negative articles about the genre. Seems that getting "hits" was more important than actually looking into the deal. I have a standing invite to any poo-pooers of gravel road riding to come out and do Trans Iowa this April.


If any pundits that have published "negative nancy" articles on gravel riding in 2014 want to check out the real deal, I'm all for it. Then we'll talk.

Anyway, back to the Rear View here..... It finally warmed up and I was on the road to getting ready for another crack at Odin's Revenge. I was going to ride the Ti Mukluk with 29"er wheels, but knee pain issues forced me to go with the Fargo Gen I and I also had an unusual Cirrus Cycles titanium suspension seat post to check out along with that. Meanwhile, the first two to finish the TIMP were Scott Sumpter and Andy Zeiner who had a pretty epic adventure with rain, mud, and late night visions all wrapped into one big ride of 380 miles.

Slick, muddy roads and big hills deep sixed my '14 Odin's attempt
My own muddy adventure to Odin's Revenge was marked by a failure to be on pace to reach the checkpoint on time, so I bailed after CP#1 and rode back to the start. It was by far the hardest 40+ miles I have ever ridden in years. Maybe the first time I did Triple D was tougher, but that only lasted 20-ish miles and then there was relief. This was non-stop tough riding in wet, mushy gravel and slick-as-snot Minimum Maintenance road mud. It was all good though as I had an awesome time with Mike, Mike, and Amy along with the other Odin's Revengers.

I went to a couple of NASCAR events with my son, which was a good time except for the epic thunderstorm we rode out in our tent at Rock Creek State Park. I never want to have to do that again! Speaking of my son, he "graduated" from elementary school and we walked home together from school for the last time ever. A big milestone, I'd say. I'll miss walking those two kids of mine to school and back! Glad I decided to commit to that up front. July brought heat and we still were having really windy days which was a theme since Spring.

Next on the menu was the Guitar Ted Death Ride invitational and I was busy getting the route dialled in for that and trying to prepare for the ride as well. I got a new camera, the Olympus Tough TG-3, which replaced the battered and beaten Fuji I busted at the Gents Race back in April. Rides happened and one of them was a fun ride at Volga Recreation Area on a Borealis Echo I was testing/reviewing. That was a great day on the bike!

The GTDRI ended with this view for me.
A not so great end of a day on the bike, but everything leading up to that end was good- The GTDRI unfortunately ended in calamity as an impaired driver veered into our group standing alongside the road and sent me sailing into the ditch at Mile 95 of our ride. I got carted to a hospital, and checked over, but no serious injuries were detected. All is well, right? Not so fast......

The crash effects were subtle, but they were definitely noticed throughout the Fall. I had messed up GI tract functions, inflammation that caused numbness in my extremities off and on throughout the following months, and every time I see a late model GMC or Chevy truck in white, I get a strange ache in my right kidney area. I may not have communicated that I found it rather difficult to even look at my Tamland Two- the bike I rode on GTDRI- for a good month and a half. I forced myself to use it for the Geezer Ride in October, which was maybe the second or third day I'd ridden it since getting hit. Oh, by the way, I got deathly ill right after the crash as well. I think I was off the bike most of September.

Speaking of September I'll get to that in my next installment.

Merry Christmas!

Are those Santa's sleigh tracks in the snow?
Guitar Ted Productions Wishes You A Merry Christmas!

Wherever you are, my hope is that you find joy in your heart, a warm hug from a loved one, and that you never lose hope.

Have a safe and wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Rear View 2014: Part 2

Well, as I forewarned, and as I have done about every year end now, here is my series on a look back over at 2014 before it is gone. Rear View Part 1 can be seen HERE.

In the last post, I left off with the end of February and the brutal grip Winter had over the area here was vice like. That extended into March. The month was marked by a lot of Trans Iowa and gravel road talk. In personal news, I was sick to the point of being incapacitated for the second time in a month and a half. To say that between the cold and the illnesses that I wasn't riding is an understatement. Somehow or another I squeezed in a few rides, and in very raw, windy conditions, for the most part. It was mostly a forgettable month with the exception of one thing.

I was informed that my close friend MG was coming up to the area to visit relatives and he wanted to know if I could meet him. I agreed and we had a great ride that day, talking, exploring, getting lost, and just goofing around. Then it was back to the deep freeze and not feeling so great for a couple more weeks. In the meantime, I got another new bicycle! This was a bit more special to me since it was a Raleigh Tamland that I had some influence on in terms of geometry and certain frame details. It showed up in late March and I was able to get enough rides in on it to dial in a fit and use it during the 4th Annual Renegade Gent's Race.

This perfectly sums up the Gents Race for me (Image by S. Auen)
Four years and eight months ago I was invited to be on a "team" for the first "Renegade Gent's Race" to be held near Ankeny, Iowa. Our "Team Captain" was the organizer of the team and invited me to be a part of the five man squad. The thing was, I didn't know anyone on the team but Steve, the Captain.

It's one of those things that could have gone very wrong, but every April since then this event has become a highlight of my year, and apparently, that of the other four as well, since the "Careless Whispers", as we've named our team, is the only intact from the beginning team to have been at every Renegade Gent's race.

I used the Tamland on this 4th running of the Gent's race and had a great time doing it. This event has grown to the point that several folks come from miles around now to get in on the action. I remember the first one where I was the odd man out coming from as far away as I did. Now that is routine. I'm already looking forward to going again next Spring and I hope the Careless Whispers can make it five straight years in a row.

That's generally the last "fun" thing I get to do until Trans Iowa is over at the end of April. The rest of the month after the Gent's Race is almost all preparation for the big event and I had a recon with Wally and George, (well......that's more fun, actually, so.....), I met Chris Skogen of the Almanzo 100, (again- more fun), and then making cue sheets and getting all the "I's" dotted and "T's" crossed before I head down to Grinnell once again. The tenth Trans Iowa would prove to be an awesome event, but an exhausting one both physically and mentally. I could go on and on about that, but I won't.......

One of the things I expected to do was quit Trans Iowa after that event was done. I didn't, and obviously, a Trans Iowa V11 will occur next Spring. I guess I'll never learn! Anyway, June was coming fast and Odin's Revenge was in my sights.

Next Up- Summertime!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Grey Sky Gravel

Sunday I left to the Northwest on a multi-terrain beginning to a gravel ride. The trails on the way over saw me run across grass, dirt, chip seal, double track, and busted up pavement. Then I hit the bike trails to get out of town to the North and the old 3GR course beginnings. My intentions were to ride that entire course.

I ran across my old neighbor on the Big Woods bike path, which was nice. We chatted a bit then I rolled onward. It was almost the same temperature and humidity as last week when I about burnt up with overheating, but this time it was strangely fine. I did ride with my jacket unzipped a bit. Otherwise it was windy from the South/Southwest and I was getting pushed along well by it. I decided I needed to get worked coming back, which is the old Jeff Kerkove way to do a ride.

Off into the gloom!
I got out there and saw that the light was not good already. Looking at the clock on the computer I ascertained that I would run out of light long before I got around the old 3GR course. Hmm......a modified route was in order then. I went straight on Mount Vernon road until I reached Sage Road. That was a long stretch into a quartering headwind, but there wasn't enough time and I probably need the harder work.

Once again the gravel wasn't really wet. It was "damp", and the wind and humidity were not letting up, so I have to assume that the roads are soaking a lot of this up now, which would indicate that they are not frozen anymore either. Either way, it wasn't very messy at all, which was fine with me. Once again, the vapors would form if I turned my head, and everything facing forward was dripping wet. It seems odd to have this cool, moisture rich atmosphere this time of the year. This is very "late Fall-ish", not at all what I would expect for a date so close to Christmas. Oh happened to be the Solstice. I didn't feel anything magical or different in that regard. Just a "day".

The legs felt a lot better this time, which was a good thing, even after a ride the day before. But that isn't to say that I was flying. I wasn't, but I was able to hold a steady tempo and I didn't bog down on the climbs.

A grain auger sales lot in the middle of nowhere.
The rural church at the corner of Mt. Vernon and Sage Road.
Visiting The namesake rock.
By the time I turned down Sage Road I was seriously running low on light. I figured out that I shouldn't spend a lot of time at the big rock of Big Rock Road, but I had to stop for just a short visit! Unzipped the coats and let some heat out. Everything was damp, but I was comfortable in my two under layers of wool clothing.

I snarfed down an Apple Cinnamon Hammer Gel packet here.'s like liquid apple pie! That was tasty. Some water to wash it all down, a couple of images snapped, zip up and take off. Oddly enough, where I turned onto Sage Road and here at the big rock were the only two places I ran into soft, wet gravel.

Now it was a race to see how soon I could get back into town before it got completely dark. I had a tail light on, but I had no head lamp. Once I reached Waterloo, the street lights would be my guide, but I didn't want to get stuck out here in the rolling hills without some light. There would be no moon, and the grey, dun atmosphere would make discerning features harder in the dark. I pedaled onward at a pretty decent clip now. My good fortune was that I reached town at the last possible moment and the street lights were all ablaze in the town so I could easily find my way back home.

It was a good ride, and I got two plus hours in. Better than sitting on the couch and another bonus gravel day at the end of 2014! I'll take it.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Anything Cage HD: Update

Carrying ....well, anything!
As stated in the previous review on these cages, (seen HERE), I have continued to use the Anything Cage HD's and I wanted to follow up on a few criticisms I have seen of them from my viewpoint. By the way, thank you to all who linked and came to read the review. It has turned out to be the #1 read post in my almost ten years of blogging here. Outpacing the previous record holder by almost twice the number of readers.....for an accessory cage/rack for a bicycle. Yeah, I couldn't believe that either, but apparently lots of folks want to "Adventure By Bike".

So, let's take on the fact that these are not of metal construction, but an impact resistant nylon instead. Part of the inspiration for the Anything Cage HD was a plastic water bottle cage that despite its cheap price, was nearly indestructible and held the water bottle very well. You can read all about that and more HERE, but this is the pertinent quote:

"A real kick in the pants to get the project moving came when Sean mentioned a cheap water bottle cage he used to have. It just so happened that for the last eight-plus years, I’ve used that same cage on my bar-cruiser bike.
This particular bottle cage was friendly to my then college budget, has been smashed and crashed about 20 different ways, and still does a great job to this day."
Andy Palmer- Salsa Cycles.

Oddly enough, I have also had great luck with a couple "plastic" cages like the old Cat Eye one I have and several Velocity Bottle Traps that I have employed. That isn't to say that all plastic water bottle cages are great. That isn't the case at all, and I can point to a couple Bontrager and Profile cages I have tried that have either failed or have been not very good. As Sean Mailen says in the Salsa article I linked, there is plastic and then there is plastic!

The nylon reinforced plastic that Salsa uses for the Anything Cage HD is compliant to a point and I can see it flex to accommodate different items I have loaded onto it. I have also wrenched on it with my bare hands, forcing it to flex in unnatural ways to see if it would fail. It didn't. However; I would say that if it fails, it will likely be at the mounting points, in my opinion. That's why I believe that it is imperative that you use the provided washers under the Allen bolt heads when mounting the Anything Cage HD.

The next thing I saw that was a "comparative complaint" was a comment on Salsa's blog about the Anything Cage HD vs Cleaveland Mountaineering "Everything Bag". Here's my take on that comment and a few points to consider....
  • The Cleaveland Mountaineering product is cool, but for over 10 extra bucks, it should work better.
  • The point made about slipping straps? Not an issue in practice with the Anything Cage HD and not an issue when tightening down cargo. It's all in the wrist. 
  • Irregular shaped objetcts, or non-round objects, can be carried on an Anything Cage.
  • You can remove and replace a water bottle of any size but not while riding, and I doubt that you could do that safely with the Cleaveland product. So, it's a wash there. 
  • The Anything Cage HD cleans up easily with a simple washing of water. My experiences with the fabric used to construct the "Everything Bag" show that this is more difficult to do. 
Both have their merits, for sure, but for ease of maintenance and versatility, I would get the Anything Cage HD for less money. My two cents there.

The water bottles issue is also a non-issue as you can easily strap water bottles to the Anything Cage HD's as seen in my images here. While it is true that you cannot grab one while riding, (in a way that I have figured out, at any rate), I don't see that as an issue with a bike you might be "hike-a-biking" with a lot, or touring on. For those travelling fast and wanting to grab a water bottle, try the Chaff Bag from Bike Bag Dude and put them up on your handle bar, as shown on my Blackborow DS here. Easy-peasy! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Trans Iowa V11: A Look At The Rules Part 14

T.I.V2 was a game changer
Last year I did a historical overview of each Trans Iowa up to T.I.V9. This year I am going to revisit something that I feel many folks have overlooked for a long time; The "Race Rules".

Last week I talked about how the cue sheet thing evolved in Rule# 14 HERE. This week I am going to hit on a subject that the rules had to be added to to cover correctly, and why that was. In fact it happened twice, if I recall correctly, that the rules were added to. Anyway, here are Rules # 15 & 16:

15: This event will happen regardless of rain, sleet, snow, drought, wind, rabbit infestation, etc. You get the idea.
16: Weather Related Stoppage and Time Cut Off Rule: In case of severe weather during the event, we will do the folowing things so you can act accordingly. Remember: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF!! If the sky is falling, or you see Dorothy's house go spinning by your head, you should take appropriate actions to protect yourself. We will not be responsible for ill advised heroics in inclement weather. Be smart, or be pig fodder! This is only given out so that you as an event participant will know what our actions will be in regards to keeping tabs on your progress and what will be done with prizing.

Weather related cancellation of the event will be enforced at the checkpoints. All participants will be directed as to where and when any prizing will be distributed at checkpoints by our volunteers. If you pull out before a checkpoint, you will need to contact the Event Director to find out if the event is being terminated. Results will not be tabulated if we have to stop the event. If cut off times to a checkpoint are not met by any event participant then the event will be terminated and all will be considered as DNF's.

Prizing will be distributed by raffle to the remaining participants in the event at the time of stoppage or when it becomes clear that the cut off times will not be met. Must be present to win. Decisions of the event's directors is final. 

Yes- that is a lot of reading! However; it was all necessary to cover the "wild card of Trans Iowa", The Weather. It didn't take long for us to have to amend the rules for Trans Iowa due to weather related issues!

Riders have to use their best judgement when it comes to the weather.
 Jeff Kerkove was no stranger to riding in poor weather conditions and this extended to events he partook of a well as training. He was adamant from the beginning that we would do Trans Iowa no matter the weather. Rule #15 reflects his attitude on that and is written in his typical style. 24 hour racing sort of reflected that kind of attitude as well, that is until a few events ran into really severe weather and caused all sorts of mayhem with regard to policy. Trans Iowa was no different in that regard, albeit we were eased into our changes somewhat. 

Trans Iowa V2 certainly was a "game changer" when it came to how we would have the rules set up. At that event, no one was on pace to make the checkpoint cut off time in Algona, Iowa that year. So, as I recall, Jeff called me and said we should call the event at Algona, and that I should announce that on Trans Iowa Radio, which at that time was an audio blog service posted to my personal blog. In other words, some riders got the message, many did not. 

That caused some disgruntled responses from a few riders that year. Jeff decided that, based on our conversations, we should amend the rules and add one that dealt with how we distributed the prizing in the event that the race wasn't doable or cut short. That's when Rule #16 became Rule #17 and we inserted a new Rule #16 to take its place. In the beginning, Rule #16 dealt with prizing, mostly, and was originally a version of paragraphs two and three of the current rule. Jeff allowed me to write the rule, and it served us well up until after T.I.V6. 

Trans Iowa V6 was greatly affected by bad weather. Image by A Andonopoulous.
 In that event, we suffered severe lightning strikes at different points in the event, and later on, a 30mph wind with heavy rains. The conditions were exceptionally bad. Not to mention scary!

So right after that one, I dug into Rule #16, added the first paragraph, and amended the second one. Things were kind of quiet on the weather front for T.I.V7, 8, and 9, but in last Spring's event, the intentions of the rule came into play once again. 

With riders already past the second checkpoint, the severe weather that blew through in the middle of the night forced several riders to take action to protect them selves. With plenty of abandoned barns and homes in the country these days, riders found shelter and rode out the worst parts of the night. Some called in the cavalry, and a few were mostly unaffected depending upon just where they were during the night. This was Rule #16 being put into play perfectly. 

 Next Week: More on navigation......

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rear View 2014- Part 1

Well, as I forewarned, and as I have done about every year end now, here is my series on a look back over at 2014 before it is gone.

Hard to believe it, but this old year is about to become history. It seems like a long, long time ago, in 2013 at the end of the year, that I hinted about some changes coming along, and some of those things are happening/will happen very soon, while one other thing almost did happen, but didn't. I'll get to all of that later....

First things first- January was all about getting ready for my third attempt at Triple D, the Winter bike/ski/run event held in the middle of January in Dubuque. I was going to ride the Ti Mukluk and shortly before the event, I went tubeless with the tires and got a Velocity Dually 26"er fat bike wheel set to try out for that event. I was pretty deep into my looking back at all previous Trans Iowas on the blog here, and Winter was kicking it down hard all month.

Triple D went well, as I had gotten very ill earlier in the month and wasn't as trained up as I wanted to be. Still, I finished for a third time in a row and got 33rd out of almost 90 riders. Not too shabby for an old guy! The rest of the month was filled up with more snow, more cold, and ramblings about gravel stuff.

One for Odin
I sent my post card off for my second Odin's Revenge attempt and decided to take the Fargo Gen I again. I also decided to use a wider range gearing than I had before and placed a triple ring set up on it that I figured would work well.

In other bicycle news I got my old Snow Dog back together finally after having had it robbed of parts to get my son's Mukluk going the previous Fall. It was nice having it back, but I also had really frustrating rides on both Mukluks due to the lack of flotation and control in the drier, blown out conditions for snow we endured last Winter. I had decided to get on board with big rims and tires and with that decision came a set of purple ano Salsa Conversion hubs that would see a totally different usage down the road.

Part of a Trans Iowa booth display at Frostbike
In the middle of this terrible Winter and of the month of February I received news of a friend's death and I played at his "Celebration of Life" ceremony. If you ever see me riding with an orange bandana on my head, it is in memory of this person. That hit me harder than I thought it might.

Then it was Frostbike. Whoo boy! Mrs Guitar Ted and I drove up to the Twin Cities in the worst weather I've driven in for years. The interstate was actually closed at one point, but we somehow got on it anyway and eventually we made it. It wasn't fun at all! Frostbike itself was another marathon session of seeing old friends and making new acquaintances.

After that it was more Trans Iowa stories and working on the t-shirts, which a few had gotten finished so I could give Jeff Kerkove one at Frostbike. Then I received the news that Grinnell had awarded Trans Iowa the 2014 Tourism Experience Award. So, in one month I see a trade show booth with a Trans Iowa theme and a city gives the event an award based on tourism. That was pretty surreal and humbling. I never figured I'd ever see the day.

More Rear View 2014 coming soon........

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday News And Views

The Soma Fab Cazadero 42mm tire
Same Song- Different Dance Partner:

Tubeless tires. Everybody wants to know about whether or not the latest tire can be set up tubeless or not. Fat bikes and gravel road going rigs that have no real good systems in place seem to be the next field where tubeless tinkering is taking off at a breakneck pace. It reminds me totally of circa 2006 29"er tubeless experimentations. Some times it worked, and other times......not so much. 

I got the Soma Fab Cazaderos recently and started the review , (here), and although I stated that since it isn't a tubeless ready tire I wouldn't be testing it this way, I am sure someone or three will say the review isn't any good without me trying them tubeless. I know this from my past experiences reviewing tires. The thing is, I cannot fairly review a tire if I use it as it is not intended.

Just like using a 23mm road slick for a cyclo cross race and then saying the tire stinks because it doesn't handle mud well is unfair, so it is with regard to "converting" any tire I am reviewing to tubeless for gravel. The Cazadero was never intended for tubeless usage, or if it was a thought during the design, Soma isn't saying so overtly. Either way, it isn't right for me to judge a tire for tubeless use and have it fail or not do well when it wasn't meant to be tested that way in the first place. Not to mention, there is no real, approved way of doing a tubeless conversion of a non-tubeless tire industry wide. Stan's No-Tubes notwithstanding, no tire manufacturer will approve of that openly.

And so it goes with the bicycle industry. We can make ridiculously light, mega-expensive bikes out of carbon fiber but we cannot have a true, standardized tubeless tire system for bicycles across the board? That's just weird. What other vehicle in existence suffers such disarray when it comes to their tires and rims? I believe a standardized tubeless system can be done, but the industry is so disconnected from what user experience is that it cannot find a way to make it happen. If the industry would come together and just make UST happen on every tire and rim, (for instance), and manufacture every tire to work tubeless, (you could always sub in a tube when you had to), then this whole dancing around with ghetto solutions to tubeless conversions and the roulette wheel riders have to negotiate to find success would not exist. But apparently what riders are doing is cheap R&D or something.........

This is just a random pic of our recently departed James in a cargo box.
End Of The Year Madness:

I'll be posting my annual "Rear View" series shortly and this has been a doozy of a year. I'll probably have to do this year in thirds, but however it comes out, look for that to start next week sometime and of course, the Holidays will bust that up some.

At the end of it all, I will make a special announcement and a few predictions for 2015. Looking ahead, there could be a lot of changes next year, or it could all just go "poof" and it could end up just being a regular year. We'll see....

Okay, that's all for today. Have a great weekend and get outside!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

On The Radio

After almost 10 years of blogging, I have added a microphone to the battered G-Ted desk
The new Riding collaboration has me doing a podcast now. That is something I have been on a few times in regard to being a "guest host" for the Trans Iowa Radio thing, but now I am a co-host with Mountain Bike Radio's Ben Welnak. Our show, centered around gravel road riding, is called the Riding Gravel Radio Ranch.

Ben sent me a podcasting microphone that showed up just the day before yesterday. With all the hullabaloo surrounding the day in regards to my family affairs, I didn't even crack open the box until yesterday, just mere hours before we were to record, and my wife, the resident techy talent, was off to work. I wasn't going to be able to lean on her for assistance if something was beyond my abilities to understand.

No worries though, as my musical background and the good instructions had me up and goofing around with mic levels before you knew it. Then we got "on air", and for the next 2.5 hours we had a great time with our guest, Bobby Wintle of District Cycles talking about his background, his shop, and his idea dubbed #unlearnpavement. The show link is HERE for those who want to check it out. Be forewarned! It's a long show so maybe it might be best to listen in when you've got a couple hours to spare! That said, it's got a lot of great stuff in it. But I'm biased!

So, a big day yesterday as we got into the first "real" Riding Gravel Radio Ranch. Hopefully folks dig it and there will be a lot more to come. I have to say that it is a bit more enjoyable than blogging!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Salsa Cycles Anything Cage HD: A Review

NOTE: I was provided these samples of the Anything Cage HD by Salsa Cycles at no charge for review. I was not paid nor bribed for this post and all of the thoughts and comments are mine alone. 

The Anything Cage HD and what you get in the package.
 Salsa Cycles has been one of the only, (if not the only), company really pushing for riders to go beyond the "normal" limits of cycling. In that vein, they have not only made bicycles useful for these varied "out of the boundaries"  cycling pursuits, but they have tried their hand at various unusual ways to accessorize these bikes. One of those has been the "Anything Cage", which originally was meant to be mounted on the "Three Pack Bosses" of forks like those found on the Fargo, Mukluk, and now the Blackborow.

Background: Original Anything Cages were made from tubing and  had a reputation for being less than successful at staying in one piece for some folks. That was back in 2010. Since then Salsa Cycles has responded by introducing a redesigned Anything Cage which became available earlier this year. However; unbeknownst to us, they were working on a new design. A heavy duty version of the Anything Cage which has become public knowledge only just today. Dubbed the "Anything Cage HD", it is obviously quite different and I was forwarded a couple samples to try out about two weeks ago.

Technical Info: The Anything Cage HD is made from injection molded impact resistant nylon. It features a new shape but still does the old job of carrying your roundish shaped objects like water bottles, Nalgene jars, dry sacks, or what have you. Basically anything that will sit well on the cage and weighs 6.6lbs or less. The new Anything Cage HD still mounts to the Three Pack Bosses found on many Salsa Cycles forks or down tubes. Each cage comes with longer bolts, three washers, and two Salsa Cycles webbing straps to lash cargo to the Anything Cage HD. Each Anything Cage HD will cost $35.00USD and the two samples sent to me weighed in on the scale at 160 grams with hardware. For comparison, the original Anything Cage, which I own, weighs 100 grams.

An original Anything Cage (L) next to the new Anything Cage HD
The Anything Cage HD mounted to my Blackborow DS and loaded with a tent and dry bag
In Use: The mounting of the Anything Cage HD is straight forward if you own a Salsa Cycles product with the Three Pack Bosses. I followed the simple instructions and they went on easily. Now to mount up some suitable dummy loads and ride! I chose a Topeak By-Camper tent, which is a heavy-ish one man tent that comes in its own dry bag, and an Outdoor Research dry bag stuffed with various items such as extra warm clothing, tubes, an air pump, and on occasion, a flask with coffee and extra water bottles. The loads in the dry bag varied, but the tent stayed on during the entire review period. NOTE: It is important to lace the webbing straps as Salsa indicates in the instructions for the Anything Cage HD for proper load bearing and cinching up of those straps.

I used the Blackborow DS with two Anything Cage HD's on rides that varied from commutes to work to single track to some bushwhacking and beach rides. I cannot go on with this review without making mention of how well the Blackborow DS rides with two loaded Anything Cage HD's on board. That was a nice surprise. You'd almost think those wily Salsa engineers thought of that ahead of time, eh? (<==HA!)

Anyway, the dry bag side was unloaded almost everyday for the two week review period to reflect how one might use this in a bikepacking set up. I changed the load occasionally as well. As Salsa Cycles indicates, using "roundish" objects will work best, and my tent was a testament to that, never getting loose or hardly shifting around in the Anything Cage HD at all. The other side featured those "not so roundish" loads, and with a bit of care and a touch of extra attention, even those stayed put. I had to wrench on the straps pretty severely, but the Anything Cage HD stood up to the task and I felt that these racks performed flawlessly at carrying loads.

With the Anything Cage's past in mind, I tried everything I could, within reason, to put the loaded racks to the test. This included ramming curbs at speed, bounding through rough, frozen, tussocky grass, riding frozen dirt churned up by heavy construction equipment, and doing the whoop-de-doos on local single track to put all sorts of forces into these cages. Nothing shook them loose, nor did they break or show any signs of doing so. I think these "Heavy Duty" cages have earned the moniker and that they should do well in the long run.

Verdict: With a solid two weeks of bouncing around fully loaded and using several various loads on the one side, I have to say that these cages are the real deal so far. They are easy to use and make any Salsa Cycles rig with the Three Pack Bosses into a mule capable of hauling around more than you could without them.

On a negative note, I will only say that they are an unlovely beast of a component. Unloaded on the bike, they look like some sort of freakish radar/ microwave receptors. It is a sure bet that the new Anything Cage HD will not win any beauty contests. Well, that is unless you decide to rely on them to pack your tent and sleep system on some long outing. Then they may be the most beautiful things you've ever seen. It's all in the eye of the beholder, as they say. Of course, you can still buy the Anything Cage in its tube constructed version if the HD is just too much for you to handle visually.

The Anything Cage HD is a worthy compliment to any Salsa fork or down tube where you may want to pack on some cargo. This rack certainly fits into the "Adventure by Bike" ethos and the new design should provide many miles of faithful service to those who decide to employ it. The ease of use and versatility make the Anything Cage HD something you could use for touring or everyday use. I'll be looking for more ways to use these in the future and I'll be back with a long term use update later on.

As noted above, these Anything Cage HD's came from Salsa Cycles at no charge and I will strive to use my honest thoughts and opinions about these products here and in the future.

Gravel Event Calendar PSA

Public Service Announcement: 

If you, or anyone you know is involved in gravel event promotions, listen up. We need to update the calendar on Riding for 2015.  Known as the Gravel Grinder News Calendar, it is the same effort I have put forth since 2008 to catalog all the gravel events across the nation and Internationally. It's completely free and gets you all the eyeballs out there involved in gravel and back road events to check out your deal.

Over the years, I have had many event promoters say that putting their event on the GGN calendar has made a big difference in attendance and enthusiasm for their events. That was fine for the old days, but with the new Riding Gravel, there are more benefits if you want them. You still get the free listing, the eyes looking at that calendar and planning on coming to your events, and the best known and comprehensive listing of gravel events anywhere, but now you can have a forum thread just for your event on the Riding Gravel Forum. You could have links to Facebook pages, and maybe even a guest spot on the podcast specifically aimed at gravel/back road events called the "Riding Gravel Radio Ranch". Don't feel like being "on air"?, no worries, we can talk about your event for you, if you want us to.

We can even do post event coverage of your race/ride with interviews on the podcast, or by having your story written up and posted on the site. If you really want to have me come out to your event to check things out first hand, that may even be possible, just give us a shout. Maybe you are the independent type? Great! You can upload your own event details on the Calendar Page, just scroll down at the bottom for the field to enter your event details. We'd really like to get your 2015 dates on the calendar, so you can even leave a comment here if you want and I'll take it from there.

As you can see, it is a way to really get the word out if you want to, and on the first and biggest calendar for gravel events anywhere with benefits. Of course, if you are a rider, just hop over to Riding Gravel and see what you are looking for, what you want to discuss with others, or for what you want to listen to, all in one site.

Thanks and I look forward to serving ya'all and seeing you out there in 2015.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Bad And The Good

Foiled by a Schrader valve
I was going to ride the 1X1 to James' going away party no matter what, and a spot of rain wasn't about to stop me. I went home from work and scrounged up my Cascadia 29"er fenders and fitted them to the 26" wheeled 1X1. So there was a little extra clearance! I didn't mind.

I took off with the intentions of stopping at the grocery store that is only a few blocks from the shop to pick up some fine brews. I was about a mile and a half into it when I felt the tell tale sign of a flat rear tire. Sure enough! Bah! It was pouring rain, of course, and I found out I didn't have a tube or an air pump. Too excited to leave the house, I guess. That was my own fault, but wouldn't ya know it? It couldn't have happened on a sunny, 60°F day, could it? Nope! It was downright miserable, and mostly my own fault too. I called Mrs Guitar Ted for a bail out. She took me the rest of the way, but not before I stepped in about eight inches of gooey mud on the side of the road trying to get into the truck. Insult to injury!

Once dumped off at work, I dug into the rear wheel and found out it was a slightly cut rear Schrader valve. It would hold air in one position, but shift it a little bit and poof! I installed a new tube and all was well, right? Well.......we'll see about that later.....

Everybody showed up to wish James well on his next chapter in life.
Lots of folks showed up to wish James well and to share a beverage to see him off. It was a really grand time in the sense that it was obvious that James was well liked and we all came together for the cause last night. That was good to see. Beers were hoisted, laughs were had, and merriment went on for several hours. However; it all had to end at some point, and I finally took my leave and grabbed the 1X1 to head for the shed.

It was not raining as hard as when I was attempting to come to the party, but it was pissing down a fine, steady rain still, and everything was either swimming in water or muddy as all get out. I pummeled the 1X1 into a mud pit and then I heard a terrible scraping sound when I hit the next section of pavement. I stopped to find out I had severed the rear fender down near to where it attaches at the chain stay bridge. Gah! Would this bike be cursed or something! I nursed it home all right, but that was certainly a star crossed maiden voyage on that bike.

So, on the one hand we had an excellent gathering at the shop to celebrate a fine fellow and send him off well, and on the other hand my 1X1 build seemed cursed from the get-go. Not at all what I wanted for a first ride experience on that bike, but maybe I have all the bad stuff out of the way now, right?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Eye Opener

Headed South out of town on the rail-trail
The weekend was a doozy, for sure. So warm for December here that I cannot remember the last time I saw two days in a row like that and now today as well, but we're back to work, of course, and tomorrow things are to return to "normal" around here.

I think the last time I recall a really warm mid-December day was waaaay back when I still had a carbon fiber road bike, (YES! I really did have one once!), and I rode it on December 15th with just a bib short and jersey on. That had to have been almost 20 years ago.

Anyway, I had to pick one day to ride because the other would be household fix-it day. I chose Saturday, since Sunday it was supposed to rain, but as far as I know, it never did. But boy howdy! Was it ever humid here! 100% they said and it definitely was foggy. While every cyclist worth their salt was out at one time or another, I rode alone since that was how it worked out.

 I wasn't feeling all that great so a late morning sleep in was allowed and I didn't get out of the house until just after noon. I saw that the temperatures were in the low 40's and that I would be riding straight into the wind. I figured a typical wet wind that would cause a chill would call for some wool layers. I put on a long sleeved wool base layer, a wool jersey, and my ever enduring Endura Stealth II jacket over all. The lowers consisted of a wool base layer, bibs, and a Endura 3/4's Humvee pant on top. Wool base layer gloves and Answer full finger Winter gloves over that. My Planet Bike beanie and the Bell Super topped it all off and on the feet went some long wool socks and the Mavic winter boots.

This is pretty much what it looked like the entire ride. Gloomy! Wet! 

At one point, the haze parted and I actually saw the Sun and blue patches of Sky! (Image rendered in B&W for effect)

Down at the crossroads.
Well, I was comfortable as I rolled down the bike path, but as I got into the steady headwind and on gravel, I was starting to burn up. Before long I was really laboring, and I could feel the sweat rolling on my skin, so I pulled off and stripped down to my base layer on top and felt........perfectly normal. It wasn't all that cold at all! Off with the wool jersey and outer gloves. Fortunately the Stealth II jacket has a cavernous zippered rear pocket in which I could stuff the unwanted layers. I briefly contemplated ditching the beanie but opted to just roll it up instead so it uncovered my ears. A shoe adjustment or two, and then I was off again, beating against that stiff Southerly wind.

It was a really weird day out. If I turned my head to one side or the other, my glasses would instantly fog over, and I could actually see vapor rushing by. It was almost as if I were like a high flying jet leaving a contrail. The gravel down South was dry, maybe bordering on flour-like in consistency as far as the dust in it went. It was obvious that the roads were mostly soaking up every ounce of moisture they could get here. However; other riders up North of town were encountering wet roads and looked like they had been sprayed with concrete afterward. I am glad I chose the Southern route! I didn't get a lick of dirt on me and the bike looked perfectly fine after the ride.

That's a patch of blue sky way up there, no?
I still was feeling like crap on the Southern leg of my ride barely able to maintain 12 mph at a steady pace. My legs hurt, and maybe this fat bike riding screwed me up for the normal bikes, because it was very unnatural and uncomfortable for the first ten miles. I almost turned around and went home, but I decided to just take what the ride was giving me and roll with it. That meant not going all that fast and suffering, I guess.

Barren fields and wide, empty expanses are the norm here for the Winter.
I decided to not go quite all the way to the county line and turned left on Reinbeck Road. Then it was about three miles to Ansborough and a right. The winds were more favorable in these directions and I picked up speed and the legs hurt less. Things felt better all the way around and I was starting to get comfortable on the Tamland again. Now I wasn't suddenly tearing it up, but at least this was semi-enjoyable now instead of being a sufferfest.

With the winds at my back on Ansborough I was starting to keep the bike in the 20's for speed and I was feeling even better than before. However; I knew it was a short lived "feel good" and I wasn't about to test myself again against that wind. I continued on into town and just before I reached the stop light on San-Mar-Nan I saw the light go green. Sprint!! I actually made it under the yellow light, and then I slowed down and felt satisfied that I had the energy left to ramp up a small sprint for a light at the end of a ride. Well, it wasn't the end exactly. I still had to go about two miles or so to get there. Along the city streets I saw a small pack of roadies. They maybe were heading out. It was a great day to hit the roads, at least for this time of year.

My ride ended and I was wasted. Flat out burned up. I actually went down for a nap I guess I have some work to do, or something to get over. At any rate, that ride was an eye opener for sure.