Saturday, May 31, 2014

Forked

The old Dog is getting rather colorful these days!
Last Fall when I heard that the fertile mind of Brant Richards was designing a fat bike fork for On One, my interest was piqued. Would it be something I could make use of? I knew the prices through On One were reasonable, so I was hopeful.

I found out later that it was definitely something I could use. Straight 1 1/8th steer tube, rear brake standard for the fork, and all carbon fiber light. The availability was sketchy earlier in the Winter, so I waited until a new shipment dropped to On One and then I pulled the trigger. It took almost two weeks from the UK, but I think the wait was worth it.

The Snow Dog's original Enabler fork weighed in at 1050 grams and the replacement on One Fatty Fork weighs 590 grams before I cut the steer tube! That's some serious weight reduction right there. I have to dial in the front brake a bit more, but a quick ride showed me that this fork does have some compliance, so it promises a decent ride. Obviously, the front end feels a tad lighter, but the handling seems really good yet. We'll see once things get nasty and I have more time on this rig.

This isn't the end of upgrades though, just the beginning. Next up will be a drivetrain redo with a move to 10 speed and possibly one of those ginormous 42T add on cassette cogs so I can extend the range of the 1X set up. I don't see me going to a front derailluer anytime soon on this, maybe never. There will be a new crankset as well. Possibly something that fits a 30T or maybe one of those crazy SRAM cranks with a 28T drive ring. A clutch equipped derailleur is a must.

I'll live with the wheels for a while, but those will get replaced sometime with something lighter and nicer. No hurry there though. I've a feeling a ton of new options are coming soon that will satisfy that itch.

This will then become the all-year, all-arounder fat bike for me. The titanium bike is going to get upgraded as well. That bike will get detailed later, but it will become the "expedition" class fat bike in the fleet and will wear the "bigger shoes" of the two bikes eventually. Stay tuned.......

Forked

The old Dog is getting rather colorful these days!
Last Fall when I heard that the fertile mind of Brant Richards was designing a fat bike fork for On One, my interest was piqued. Would it be something I could make use of? I knew the prices through On One were reasonable, so I was hopeful.

I found out later that it was definitely something I could use. Straight 1 1/8th steer tube, rear brake standard for the fork, and all carbon fiber light. The availability was sketchy earlier in the Winter, so I waited until a new shipment dropped to On One and then I pulled the trigger. It took almost two weeks from the UK, but I think the wait was worth it.

The Snow Dog's original Enabler fork weighed in at 1050 grams and the replacement on One Fatty Fork weighs 590 grams before I cut the steer tube! That's some serious weight reduction right there. I have to dial in the front brake a bit more, but a quick ride showed me that this fork does have some compliance, so it promises a decent ride. Obviously, the front end feels a tad lighter, but the handling seems really good yet. We'll see once things get nasty and I have more time on this rig.

This isn't the end of upgrades though, just the beginning. Next up will be a drivetrain redo with a move to 10 speed and possibly one of those ginormous 42T add on cassette cogs so I can extend the range of the 1X set up. I don't see me going to a front derailluer anytime soon on this, maybe never. There will be a new crankset as well. Possibly something that fits a 30T or maybe one of those crazy SRAM cranks with a 28T drive ring. A clutch equipped derailleur is a must.

I'll live with the wheels for a while, but those will get replaced sometime with something lighter and nicer. No hurry there though. I've a feeling a ton of new options are coming soon that will satisfy that itch.

This will then become the all-year, all-arounder fat bike for me. The titanium bike is going to get upgraded as well. That bike will get detailed later, but it will become the "expedition" class fat bike in the fleet and will wear the "bigger shoes" of the two bikes eventually. Stay tuned.......

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friday News And Views

Out here, we ride on gravel
Often times I find it sad, ironic, and downright stupid how folks get things either twisted, or just don't understand what it is they are talking about when it comes to cycling. Also, I know some of the pundits out there are just trying to attract attention for their writings so (a) their employers get more "hits" and/or sell more issues, and that (b) many folks are just being negative to troll up reactions. Most of the time I let stuff like the following go, but I figured that in this case it was either blatantly a troll, or maybe the author really thinks this stuff. Either way, here's my reaction to this "Bicycle Times" issue #29 article under the heading of "Ask Beardo The Weirdo". 

Under the thin veil of answering a reader's question, "Beardo" says this about gravel grinding: "Also, let's also,kill the gravel grinder nonsense term". and then follows that up with some movie related gibberish which leads to this,"People have been riding road bikes on unpaved roads for as long as the bike has been around." 

Ha! It's always the same ol' ruse whenever someone wants to criticize "gravel grinding" and related hardware to do that with.  The "Just ride any bike" crowd, and that ilk seems to be a group that smacks of self righteousness and is so short sighted as to think that bicycle specialization is somehow evil, bad, or undesirable. I mean, if this is the case, go ride a Madone at the next cyclo cross race in Portland. Right? Because "people have been riding road bikes on unpaved roads for as long as the bike has been around." Yeah....that'll work!

"Beardo" then makes a salient point. That being that any bike can be ridden on a gravel road, but he adds that "even that skinny-tired roadie bike will be fine with reduced speed and enough air in the tires to prevent pinch flats." Right. Obviously Beardo hasn't ridden much of the over 69,000 miles of gravel roads in Iowa. Not saying it cannot be done, but I am saying there is a much better tool for the job. Just like riding a road bike in a cross race isn't impossible, but it isn't going to be all that fun either. See what I mean?

There is a better way for gravel, so why is that such a bad thing?
Then he goes on to finish by stating that "...a bike built specifically for that use, (gravel road riding), would probably make you happy." Thank you Captain Obvious.

So anyway, back to the whole thing about "gravel grinding", which I think a lot of folks think is a marketing term made up by the bike companies to bilk you out of money in your wallet for a bike that is unnecessary. (Although even Beardo feels one would "probably make you happy".)

Nothing could be further from the truth. It wasn't made up by companies, or marketing wonks, it was coined by roadies. Road cyclists that trained on gravel roads during the early season to get better fitness, test themselves against the winds, and to "grind out the miles". This type of riding came to be known by these road cyclists as "gravel grinders". They rode the old steel bikes with tubular tires and friction shifters. Generally they rode in the Spring before the roads were maintained, so pinch flatting wasn't as bad an issue. Anyway, that's where the roots are from of gravel grinding and where the term came from.

When we started these grassroots events in the Mid-West, we called them "gravel grinders" due to that history. The idea spread, and well.......now magazine writers that don't understand the term spout off about it. But you don't have to be misinformed in kind.

Finally, I'd like to wish all the Dirty Kanza 200 riders a great time and a fantastic ride. It's a beautiful course where you probably won't see any road bikes, due to the flinty rocks, but you will see plenty of gravel grinders!

Keep the rubber side down and have a great weekend on whatever kind of bike it is you ride.

Friday News And Views

Out here, we ride on gravel
Often times I find it sad, ironic, and downright stupid how folks get things either twisted, or just don't understand what it is they are talking about when it comes to cycling. Also, I know some of the pundits out there are just trying to attract attention for their writings so (a) their employers get more "hits" and/or sell more issues, and that (b) many folks are just being negative to troll up reactions. Most of the time I let stuff like the following go, but I figured that in this case it was either blatantly a troll, or maybe the author really thinks this stuff. Either way, here's my reaction to this "Bicycle Times" issue #29 article under the heading of "Ask Beardo The Weirdo". 

Under the thin veil of answering a reader's question, "Beardo" says this about gravel grinding: "Also, let's also,kill the gravel grinder nonsense term". and then follows that up with some movie related gibberish which leads to this,"People have been riding road bikes on unpaved roads for as long as the bike has been around." 

Ha! It's always the same ol' ruse whenever someone wants to criticize "gravel grinding" and related hardware to do that with.  The "Just ride any bike" crowd, and that ilk seems to be a group that smacks of self righteousness and is so short sighted as to think that bicycle specialization is somehow evil, bad, or undesirable. I mean, if this is the case, go ride a Madone at the next cyclo cross race in Portland. Right? Because "people have been riding road bikes on unpaved roads for as long as the bike has been around." Yeah....that'll work!

"Beardo" then makes a salient point. That being that any bike can be ridden on a gravel road, but he adds that "even that skinny-tired roadie bike will be fine with reduced speed and enough air in the tires to prevent pinch flats." Right. Obviously Beardo hasn't ridden much of the over 69,000 miles of gravel roads in Iowa. Not saying it cannot be done, but I am saying there is a much better tool for the job. Just like riding a road bike in a cross race isn't impossible, but it isn't going to be all that fun either. See what I mean?

There is a better way for gravel, so why is that such a bad thing?
Then he goes on to finish by stating that "...a bike built specifically for that use, (gravel road riding), would probably make you happy." Thank you Captain Obvious.

So anyway, back to the whole thing about "gravel grinding", which I think a lot of folks think is a marketing term made up by the bike companies to bilk you out of money in your wallet for a bike that is unnecessary. (Although even Beardo feels one would "probably make you happy".)

Nothing could be further from the truth. It wasn't made up by companies, or marketing wonks, it was coined by roadies. Road cyclists that trained on gravel roads during the early season to get better fitness, test themselves against the winds, and to "grind out the miles". This type of riding came to be known by these road cyclists as "gravel grinders". They rode the old steel bikes with tubular tires and friction shifters. Generally they rode in the Spring before the roads were maintained, so pinch flatting wasn't as bad an issue. Anyway, that's where the roots are from of gravel grinding and where the term came from.

When we started these grassroots events in the Mid-West, we called them "gravel grinders" due to that history. The idea spread, and well.......now magazine writers that don't understand the term spout off about it. But you don't have to be misinformed in kind.

Finally, I'd like to wish all the Dirty Kanza 200 riders a great time and a fantastic ride. It's a beautiful course where you probably won't see any road bikes, due to the flinty rocks, but you will see plenty of gravel grinders!

Keep the rubber side down and have a great weekend on whatever kind of bike it is you ride.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Milestones

My son and classmates. He's second in from left in the middle row.
Life is full of little markers. We have our birthdays, wedding anniversarys, deaths, divorces, and the first time we kissed someone. Yesterday was a milestone for my son, and......well, for me also, I suppose. My son was promoted from 5th grade. Next year he goes to Middle School.

I and his aunt attended since they had the ceremonies just after lunch. Great job of scheduling so my wife, who works five days a week, could attend. (sarcasm intended) Anyway, at least someone was there for him. He's worked hard and this didn't come easy for him.

I suppose a 5th grade promotion ceremony could be seen as somewhat goofy. We never had such things when I was young. You simply walked out of school in the elementary building one day and walked into the Junior High School in the fall. No fanfare, well.......unless your Grandma gave you an embarrassing kiss and pinched your cheek during the Summer between semesters. It wasn't seen as a "big deal" back then.

And maybe that was a problem. You see, I never thought of school as being "important" then and for a long time afterward because no one seemed to care, or make a fuss about it. Now we do, and I think that is the better way.

Jungle time in Iowa: Riding the Milwaukee Bicycle Co Single Speed
Before all the festivities I went out for a brief ride on the Milwaukee Bicycle Company single speed. The greenery has been fast in its advance since the warm weather broke and it is full on Summer-like jungle out there already. Mosquitoes are busy looking for likely subjects, but thankfully, since it has been drier, their numbers are not what they could be.

The single track was littered still in last Fall's detritus and the contrast between new and decay was sort of jarring in places. No matter- the grip levels were up and I was flying along at pretty good speeds when I felt the need to. It was a good, twisty-turny ride in the woods, which I had all to myself once again.

However; the promotion ceremony scheduled for just past noon and the fact that I needed to install the upstairs window air conditioner meant that I had to cut things back on the riding time. Gotta keep the peace at home! I was just glad to have gotten a little more dirt time in on primo trail. It was fun, and I could have stayed all afternoon, but it wasn't to be. That was okay too, since I had a bit of a milestone to mark later. It was a good one to see pass too.

Milestones

My son and classmates. He's second in from left in the middle row.
Life is full of little markers. We have our birthdays, wedding anniversarys, deaths, divorces, and the first time we kissed someone. Yesterday was a milestone for my son, and......well, for me also, I suppose. My son was promoted from 5th grade. Next year he goes to Middle School.

I and his aunt attended since they had the ceremonies just after lunch. Great job of scheduling so my wife, who works five days a week, could attend. (sarcasm intended) Anyway, at least someone was there for him. He's worked hard and this didn't come easy for him.

I suppose a 5th grade promotion ceremony could be seen as somewhat goofy. We never had such things when I was young. You simply walked out of school in the elementary building one day and walked into the Junior High School in the fall. No fanfare, well.......unless your Grandma gave you an embarrassing kiss and pinched your cheek during the Summer between semesters. It wasn't seen as a "big deal" back then.

And maybe that was a problem. You see, I never thought of school as being "important" then and for a long time afterward because no one seemed to care, or make a fuss about it. Now we do, and I think that is the better way.

Jungle time in Iowa: Riding the Milwaukee Bicycle Co Single Speed
Before all the festivities I went out for a brief ride on the Milwaukee Bicycle Company single speed. The greenery has been fast in its advance since the warm weather broke and it is full on Summer-like jungle out there already. Mosquitoes are busy looking for likely subjects, but thankfully, since it has been drier, their numbers are not what they could be.

The single track was littered still in last Fall's detritus and the contrast between new and decay was sort of jarring in places. No matter- the grip levels were up and I was flying along at pretty good speeds when I felt the need to. It was a good, twisty-turny ride in the woods, which I had all to myself once again.

However; the promotion ceremony scheduled for just past noon and the fact that I needed to install the upstairs window air conditioner meant that I had to cut things back on the riding time. Gotta keep the peace at home! I was just glad to have gotten a little more dirt time in on primo trail. It was fun, and I could have stayed all afternoon, but it wasn't to be. That was okay too, since I had a bit of a milestone to mark later. It was a good one to see pass too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Utility Bike Dreams

It ain't much, but it gets the job done!
Here's my Xtracycled Schwinn Sierra circa 1987 or so rig that I use for errands. It really isn't anything all that amazing, excepting that it is maybe the most versatile bike I have in the stable. It hauls about anything I've a mind to try to strap to it, but that's not really what makes it so useful for me.

It is perhaps the only bike, aside from my rat-rod fixie Raleigh, that I would leave unlocked anywhere around here. The thing is too ungainly, ugly, and weird for most folks here, so it provides me with an easy solution to just hop on and go down and get some milk, a pint of beer, or whatever. I have Ergon pedals on it, which I've used barefooted, (although I don't recommend doing that regularly!), so no special footwear required here. I don't hardly ever wear a helmet when I ride it, so no special head gear required. It's got some minimalistic tail lights and a head light, so I can go out at night anytime I want to run and do something quick.

So why would I want to change that? Oh........I dunno! Maybe I'm just being a bike nerd. I really should just leave well enough alone. This thing is nearly maintenance free, I got the donor bike for free, and the Xtracycle kit I traded an old touring bike for. I bought some cables and housing, used my old rear wheel from my '92 Klein Attitude, and bought a rear tire for it for under $20.00. The front tire was a cast off from my buddy Jeff Kerkove, who was sponsored by WTB about ten years ago. It's an "EpicWolf" tire, by the way. The model that Specialized made WTB change to "ExiWolf".

Maybe someday.....
So, the old Xtracycle doesn't owe me a thing, and it just keeps on keepin' on. Still, there are times when I feel like a newer, slicker rig would get me to think about using a cargo bike more. Maybe a "real" cargo bike like the Big Dummy, which I could swap my stuff over to and what I don't have, I could source from the parts bin.

Would it really be "better"? I suppose it would function better, but then I would have a bike that I wouldn't feel comfortable just parking outside the convenience store unlocked either. Hmm.............maybe not so convenient? I would have a rig that would handle heavy loads better, with better brakes and better stiffness. But I don't hardly ever use my current rig in situations where those things come up. Maybe I don't need that level of bike?

And then if I do go with a Big Dummy, I have an old, unloved Schwinn Sierra. That's not a good thing, but you know......I suppose I could find a good home for it!

Utility Bike Dreams

It ain't much, but it gets the job done!
Here's my Xtracycled Schwinn Sierra circa 1987 or so rig that I use for errands. It really isn't anything all that amazing, excepting that it is maybe the most versatile bike I have in the stable. It hauls about anything I've a mind to try to strap to it, but that's not really what makes it so useful for me.

It is perhaps the only bike, aside from my rat-rod fixie Raleigh, that I would leave unlocked anywhere around here. The thing is too ungainly, ugly, and weird for most folks here, so it provides me with an easy solution to just hop on and go down and get some milk, a pint of beer, or whatever. I have Ergon pedals on it, which I've used barefooted, (although I don't recommend doing that regularly!), so no special footwear required here. I don't hardly ever wear a helmet when I ride it, so no special head gear required. It's got some minimalistic tail lights and a head light, so I can go out at night anytime I want to run and do something quick.

So why would I want to change that? Oh........I dunno! Maybe I'm just being a bike nerd. I really should just leave well enough alone. This thing is nearly maintenance free, I got the donor bike for free, and the Xtracycle kit I traded an old touring bike for. I bought some cables and housing, used my old rear wheel from my '92 Klein Attitude, and bought a rear tire for it for under $20.00. The front tire was a cast off from my buddy Jeff Kerkove, who was sponsored by WTB about ten years ago. It's an "EpicWolf" tire, by the way. The model that Specialized made WTB change to "ExiWolf".

Maybe someday.....
So, the old Xtracycle doesn't owe me a thing, and it just keeps on keepin' on. Still, there are times when I feel like a newer, slicker rig would get me to think about using a cargo bike more. Maybe a "real" cargo bike like the Big Dummy, which I could swap my stuff over to and what I don't have, I could source from the parts bin.

Would it really be "better"? I suppose it would function better, but then I would have a bike that I wouldn't feel comfortable just parking outside the convenience store unlocked either. Hmm.............maybe not so convenient? I would have a rig that would handle heavy loads better, with better brakes and better stiffness. But I don't hardly ever use my current rig in situations where those things come up. Maybe I don't need that level of bike?

And then if I do go with a Big Dummy, I have an old, unloved Schwinn Sierra. That's not a good thing, but you know......I suppose I could find a good home for it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Trans Iowa Masters Program: Updates

This road is on the Masters Program route.
The good news is that the entire Trans Iowa Masters Program route has been cue sheeted and is there if you want to down load those cues. The bad news, (if you are averse to dealing with challenges), is that I have not, and probably won't get around to, reconning anymore of it than I have on-line or the tiny amount of it I have driven.

That means that if there are roads out, bridges out, or construction, you'll have to deal with it. 

I think you folks can handle it. Now with that said, here are some notes on the course that those of you who may take this route on might find interesting.

  • The first sector is new until you get to the high school on the East edge of Hawarden where T.I.V1 and V2 started. Then it is all V1's route into Orange City.  
  • With a bit of "transfer" in Orange City, the route goes to V2's path until you get to Algona. 
  • From Algona to Osage the routes of V1 and V2 were close to the same. All of this sector of the Masters route is fromV2. V1's route deviated notably going from Algona to Forest City. 
  • Out of Osage until the route gets midway into Howard County the route is V2.
  • Midway in Howard County to just South of Cresco the route is mostly new with some V2 thrown in at the end. This was done for a personal reason, that being......
  • I wanted the route to pass by my family's homestead just East of "Maple Leaf", which was a tiny town at one time.
  • Going into Cresco and up until a few miles before Decorah the route is from Trans Iowa V4 running it backward.
  • Trans Iowa V3 and V4 both left Decorah going out on Quarry Hill Road just beyond the bridge over the Upper Iowa River. You will cross the "start line" of both those Trans Iowas with 47.87 miles to go to the end of the Masters route.
  • The Masters route follows T.I.V3 until the intersection of Ellingson Bridge Dr and Iverson Bridge Road where the rest of the route is all new until you reach Lansing Iowa. 
 Okay, and with that I am mostly done with setting up the Masters Program. NOTE: This route is not staying up past August 31st, so if you think you'd ever want to ride it, download it now by going here. Find the pages dedicated to the cues and get it. I am not going to ever publish this route again after August 31st when the Trans Iowa Masters Program will close. Don't ask me later, because when it is gone, it's gone for good.

Trans Iowa Masters Program: Updates

This road is on the Masters Program route.
The good news is that the entire Trans Iowa Masters Program route has been cue sheeted and is there if you want to down load those cues. The bad news, (if you are averse to dealing with challenges), is that I have not, and probably won't get around to, reconning anymore of it than I have on-line or the tiny amount of it I have driven.

That means that if there are roads out, bridges out, or construction, you'll have to deal with it. 

I think you folks can handle it. Now with that said, here are some notes on the course that those of you who may take this route on might find interesting.

  • The first sector is new until you get to the high school on the East edge of Hawarden where T.I.V1 and V2 started. Then it is all V1's route into Orange City.  
  • With a bit of "transfer" in Orange City, the route goes to V2's path until you get to Algona. 
  • From Algona to Osage the routes of V1 and V2 were close to the same. All of this sector of the Masters route is fromV2. V1's route deviated notably going from Algona to Forest City. 
  • Out of Osage until the route gets midway into Howard County the route is V2.
  • Midway in Howard County to just South of Cresco the route is mostly new with some V2 thrown in at the end. This was done for a personal reason, that being......
  • I wanted the route to pass by my family's homestead just East of "Maple Leaf", which was a tiny town at one time.
  • Going into Cresco and up until a few miles before Decorah the route is from Trans Iowa V4 running it backward.
  • Trans Iowa V3 and V4 both left Decorah going out on Quarry Hill Road just beyond the bridge over the Upper Iowa River. You will cross the "start line" of both those Trans Iowas with 47.87 miles to go to the end of the Masters route.
  • The Masters route follows T.I.V3 until the intersection of Ellingson Bridge Dr and Iverson Bridge Road where the rest of the route is all new until you reach Lansing Iowa. 
 Okay, and with that I am mostly done with setting up the Masters Program. NOTE: This route is not staying up past August 31st, so if you think you'd ever want to ride it, download it now by going here. Find the pages dedicated to the cues and get it. I am not going to ever publish this route again after August 31st when the Trans Iowa Masters Program will close. Don't ask me later, because when it is gone, it's gone for good.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Remembering....
Here in America it is Memorial Day. The day set aside to remember those who served and gave all for this country.


I hope you all take a moment to remember those who served and take advantage of our opportunity of freedom and exercise it in a positive way today and the rest of the year.

Happy Memorial Day from Guitar Ted Productions!

Memorial Day 2014

Remembering....
Here in America it is Memorial Day. The day set aside to remember those who served and gave all for this country.


I hope you all take a moment to remember those who served and take advantage of our opportunity of freedom and exercise it in a positive way today and the rest of the year.

Happy Memorial Day from Guitar Ted Productions!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Dust Devils

Yesterday I slept in pretty late. Till around 11am! That's unusual for me, but I have been pretty run down of late and I guess I needed the sleep. So I waited until after lunch, (which was really breakfast, I suppose!), to roll out and go in search of another of Black Hawk County's B Level Maintenance roads.

The target was a road near the Northeastern border of the county. The road was shown on many maps and is part of Pilot Grove Road in the last mile before it reaches the Bremer County line. I'd been out that way partially, but not as far out there as this road was. I decided to make a big loop out of it by going up to just Southwest of Denver and then cutting across on 270th in Bremer County. I then went a mile South after a while to Marquis Road where it is paved so as not to miss the exit where it dumped out to the county line, which is Marquis Road.

Unfortunately, I didn't find the Northern entrance, and I had a sneaking suspicion that it had been plowed under and was part of a farmers field now. I rode around to the East and South and then back West to see if I could find the Southern entrance to the road, and I did, but it was obvious that it had been decommissioned and was back in the hands of landowners.

You can make out the old road bed from the South side of the old B Road.
It was a bit of a disappointment as I had been hoping I could bag another B Level road in Black Hawk County. Those types of roads are rare in this County and in this area, but go South of here and you can find loads of them.

Well, with that done I turned back West and South to get myself back home again. The wind had come up and was blowing strongly from the Southeast, which was okay when going West, but was a bit of a struggle when going South. To make matters more difficult, the entire area up there is flat as a pancake too, so you have to pedal every inch. No coasting!

It was very dusty on the roads and also in the fields as well. I saw a couple of "dust devils" while I was riding. These aren't really a very common thing here, but occasionally they form. With the strong winds, they were being pushed along a pretty fair rate of speed. I was on a collision course with one when it hit the ditch and was upset to the point of dissipation. Dang! I was wondering what it would have been like to hit one on the road.

It ended up being a three plus hour ride. Maybe over 3 and a half hours total. Whatever it was, my legs were shot! A good training ride for Odin's Revenge coming up, perhaps, but not so good for finding the B Roads!

Dust Devils

Yesterday I slept in pretty late. Till around 11am! That's unusual for me, but I have been pretty run down of late and I guess I needed the sleep. So I waited until after lunch, (which was really breakfast, I suppose!), to roll out and go in search of another of Black Hawk County's B Level Maintenance roads.

The target was a road near the Northeastern border of the county. The road was shown on many maps and is part of Pilot Grove Road in the last mile before it reaches the Bremer County line. I'd been out that way partially, but not as far out there as this road was. I decided to make a big loop out of it by going up to just Southwest of Denver and then cutting across on 270th in Bremer County. I then went a mile South after a while to Marquis Road where it is paved so as not to miss the exit where it dumped out to the county line, which is Marquis Road.

Unfortunately, I didn't find the Northern entrance, and I had a sneaking suspicion that it had been plowed under and was part of a farmers field now. I rode around to the East and South and then back West to see if I could find the Southern entrance to the road, and I did, but it was obvious that it had been decommissioned and was back in the hands of landowners.

You can make out the old road bed from the South side of the old B Road.
It was a bit of a disappointment as I had been hoping I could bag another B Level road in Black Hawk County. Those types of roads are rare in this County and in this area, but go South of here and you can find loads of them.

Well, with that done I turned back West and South to get myself back home again. The wind had come up and was blowing strongly from the Southeast, which was okay when going West, but was a bit of a struggle when going South. To make matters more difficult, the entire area up there is flat as a pancake too, so you have to pedal every inch. No coasting!

It was very dusty on the roads and also in the fields as well. I saw a couple of "dust devils" while I was riding. These aren't really a very common thing here, but occasionally they form. With the strong winds, they were being pushed along a pretty fair rate of speed. I was on a collision course with one when it hit the ditch and was upset to the point of dissipation. Dang! I was wondering what it would have been like to hit one on the road.

It ended up being a three plus hour ride. Maybe over 3 and a half hours total. Whatever it was, my legs were shot! A good training ride for Odin's Revenge coming up, perhaps, but not so good for finding the B Roads!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Trans Iowa Masters Program: Update

Here's the latest on the Masters Program for anyone out there wondering about this.

Okay, the cues for the "First Semester" and the directions for the "Mid-Term" have all been posted here. You will note that the cues are arbitrarily broken up into "quarters", which approximate 1/4 of the distance for each "Semester". You can print those off an reformat them any ol way you see fit, but that's how I am presenting them.

I used the classic Trans Iowa cue formatting, so anyone that has done a Trans Iowa in the last four or five years should be familiar with the cue formatting. A special "Mid-Term" section refers to the small section of truly off road trail through Pilot Knob State Park. There is a small map and directions for reference. A note: If you should find the opening to the trail too difficult to locate, simply follow the paved road through the park, but please be aware that it is much longer and has more elevation gain!

The "Second Semester" will get posted over this weekend holiday during my down time. This will take you from the East end of Pilot Knob State Park to Lansing, Iowa. It will be split into quarters as well. This section is slightly less mileage but will have far more difficult terrain, especially the last quarter!

Finally- I have not been able to verify any of this route yet, so there may be a few discrepancies once folks get out in the field. I don't expect any, but there could be something. I am going to check on a few bits when I get time, but don't expect a "Trans Iowa" like, pristine cue sheet experience. There may be added adventure, but for this route, that's going to be part of the deal. (If you even have to do any re-routing at all)

Stay tuned for more soon......

Trans Iowa Masters Program: Update

Here's the latest on the Masters Program for anyone out there wondering about this.

Okay, the cues for the "First Semester" and the directions for the "Mid-Term" have all been posted here. You will note that the cues are arbitrarily broken up into "quarters", which approximate 1/4 of the distance for each "Semester". You can print those off an reformat them any ol way you see fit, but that's how I am presenting them.

I used the classic Trans Iowa cue formatting, so anyone that has done a Trans Iowa in the last four or five years should be familiar with the cue formatting. A special "Mid-Term" section refers to the small section of truly off road trail through Pilot Knob State Park. There is a small map and directions for reference. A note: If you should find the opening to the trail too difficult to locate, simply follow the paved road through the park, but please be aware that it is much longer and has more elevation gain!

The "Second Semester" will get posted over this weekend holiday during my down time. This will take you from the East end of Pilot Knob State Park to Lansing, Iowa. It will be split into quarters as well. This section is slightly less mileage but will have far more difficult terrain, especially the last quarter!

Finally- I have not been able to verify any of this route yet, so there may be a few discrepancies once folks get out in the field. I don't expect any, but there could be something. I am going to check on a few bits when I get time, but don't expect a "Trans Iowa" like, pristine cue sheet experience. There may be added adventure, but for this route, that's going to be part of the deal. (If you even have to do any re-routing at all)

Stay tuned for more soon......

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday News And Views

Simple, yet capable
The Singular Cycles Buzzard was a bike build I had been dreaming about for quite awhile. Ever since I had gotten the chance to try a slack angled, short stayed 29"er, I felt as though there was something to the idea. I needed to have something like the Buzzard to test the idea out long term and see if I was crazy, or crazy like a fox.

There are a few things that I feel have come together in mountain biking recently which I feel have brought the mountain bike somewhat full circle. Let's take a step back through time a minute.....

Mountain bikes were originally made to be capable going down hill at a high rate of speed, be durable, and to take you places you couldn't get to easily, or quickly by foot. The first mountain bikes of the modern era were all about exploring, adventures, and being durable and reliable enough to get you there and back again. Then racing happened.

Suddenly everyone wanted to be like Tomac, Overend, or Furtado. Flat, long stems, big saddle to bar drops, and butts in the air. Go fast or go home. Then mountain biking found "freeride", down hill, and all the extreme stuff. XC racing was dying, then 24 hour racing perked things up, but you had to have a dual suspension device. Along the way, just riding a mountain bike for the adventure was lost.

Then some things started coming together which has brought mountain biking full circle, I think. Things like wide rims, fat bikes, 29+, stable, slack geometry, and advancements in wheel size and accompanying geometry to make it all play nice. Bike packing, Tour Divide, and the whole adventure deal has come back around. It's a "perfect storm" of sorts that has produced bikes like the shorter travel 29"ers, 29+ bikes like Surly's ECR, the B+ idea, and bikes like the Buzzard.

But the Buzzard is a "play bike", right? Well.....that's the perception by many. However; I am thinking my experiences are pointing to a newer, and at the same time, old throwback version of the classic mountain bike.

The Buzzard can climb. Yes.....you have to adjust your climbing style to being "active" and not just sit there and spin. But it does climb well. Obviously, it descends really well, and with those shorter stays, it can do wheelies, and big moves rather effortlessly. With modern frame bag set ups, you could bike pack and do longer adventures easily. It is a simpler bike than a dual suspension rig, and with the big Velocity Duallys, it makes you traction and comfort issues smaller in one fell swoop.

Gravelly Goodness: 

Lots of big gravel adventures are happening this weekend and in the next month some big events are going down. I am working on deciding what to ride for Odin's Revenge.  I can do the Fargo again for sure, or the Black Mountain Cycles rig, which may be lighter, or the new Tamland. I could even do something ridiculously stupid and try a single speed Gryphon. I just have to choose and start training on it.

Saturday will be a longer ride on whatever it is I choose, so hopefully I feel good and I can pile on some miles. I also need to ride some hills. Odin's has a lot of those to tackle! Plus I am hearing that there will be a lot of dirt this time. Like up to 30 miles of a 170 mile course. Crazy!

Memorial Day Weekend. 

Well, it's a big holiday weekend here in the US and I hope everyone takes the time here to say thank you to a veteran. Yes- it is fun to go ride bicycles and be with family, barbeque, or go fishing, but for the sacrifices of the veterans past and present, we wouldn't have that privilege.  Have a good weekend and be safe, ya'all!

Friday News And Views

Simple, yet capable
The Singular Cycles Buzzard was a bike build I had been dreaming about for quite awhile. Ever since I had gotten the chance to try a slack angled, short stayed 29"er, I felt as though there was something to the idea. I needed to have something like the Buzzard to test the idea out long term and see if I was crazy, or crazy like a fox.

There are a few things that I feel have come together in mountain biking recently which I feel have brought the mountain bike somewhat full circle. Let's take a step back through time a minute.....

Mountain bikes were originally made to be capable going down hill at a high rate of speed, be durable, and to take you places you couldn't get to easily, or quickly by foot. The first mountain bikes of the modern era were all about exploring, adventures, and being durable and reliable enough to get you there and back again. Then racing happened.

Suddenly everyone wanted to be like Tomac, Overend, or Furtado. Flat, long stems, big saddle to bar drops, and butts in the air. Go fast or go home. Then mountain biking found "freeride", down hill, and all the extreme stuff. XC racing was dying, then 24 hour racing perked things up, but you had to have a dual suspension device. Along the way, just riding a mountain bike for the adventure was lost.

Then some things started coming together which has brought mountain biking full circle, I think. Things like wide rims, fat bikes, 29+, stable, slack geometry, and advancements in wheel size and accompanying geometry to make it all play nice. Bike packing, Tour Divide, and the whole adventure deal has come back around. It's a "perfect storm" of sorts that has produced bikes like the shorter travel 29"ers, 29+ bikes like Surly's ECR, the B+ idea, and bikes like the Buzzard.

But the Buzzard is a "play bike", right? Well.....that's the perception by many. However; I am thinking my experiences are pointing to a newer, and at the same time, old throwback version of the classic mountain bike.

The Buzzard can climb. Yes.....you have to adjust your climbing style to being "active" and not just sit there and spin. But it does climb well. Obviously, it descends really well, and with those shorter stays, it can do wheelies, and big moves rather effortlessly. With modern frame bag set ups, you could bike pack and do longer adventures easily. It is a simpler bike than a dual suspension rig, and with the big Velocity Duallys, it makes you traction and comfort issues smaller in one fell swoop.

Gravelly Goodness: 

Lots of big gravel adventures are happening this weekend and in the next month some big events are going down. I am working on deciding what to ride for Odin's Revenge.  I can do the Fargo again for sure, or the Black Mountain Cycles rig, which may be lighter, or the new Tamland. I could even do something ridiculously stupid and try a single speed Gryphon. I just have to choose and start training on it.

Saturday will be a longer ride on whatever it is I choose, so hopefully I feel good and I can pile on some miles. I also need to ride some hills. Odin's has a lot of those to tackle! Plus I am hearing that there will be a lot of dirt this time. Like up to 30 miles of a 170 mile course. Crazy!

Memorial Day Weekend. 

Well, it's a big holiday weekend here in the US and I hope everyone takes the time here to say thank you to a veteran. Yes- it is fun to go ride bicycles and be with family, barbeque, or go fishing, but for the sacrifices of the veterans past and present, we wouldn't have that privilege.  Have a good weekend and be safe, ya'all!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Project LTHT: Flying With Buzzards

The MRP Stage Fork on the Buzzard
Last week I wrote about how the Buzzard's Reba fork just didn't have enough clearance around the big On One Chunky Monkey/Dually set up. (See here) Well, here came a new fork via UPS on Tuesday and yesterday I mounted it and took off for the woods north of town.

Loads of clearance to be had now with the new combination. I can probably put my thumb in between the brake arch at any point around the top of the tire now. No worries in terms of tire contact with the fork anymore.

The Stage is also a 34mm stanchion fork, which is stiffer than the old Reba too. I can feel this while cornering, and when pushing the front end hard. The whole package just lifts the fun factor of the Buzzard to another level. The Q-Taper axle works well, and I didn't need a brae adapter to run the 185mm Shimano rotor either. Nice.

Those big ol' tractor tires on the Duallys also make for a plush ride. I could tell I was erasing a lot of the trail chatter just with that part of the bike. In combination with the Stage fork, I felt like I had the best tracking wheels since I tested the Diamondback Sortie Black a few years ago. It was almost dual suspension like on the Buzzard, but then I'd get thwacked up the backside by the seat by a trail obstacle reminding me I was really on a hard tail.

So, I am riding along in the woods on a nearly perfect day with nearly perfect conditions and I see a rather large bird take flight ahead of me. It was obscured by a large tree, and for a brief moment, I thought it could be an owl, as I could see that its wingspan was rather long. However; the bird veered to the right and I saw it light on a branch. Looking at it I thought it may be a turkey, but suddenly I saw that it had several of its kind accompanying it. Turkey Vultures! Or in other words- buzzards! Here I was riding a bike dubbed the "Buzzard" and I was riding right underneath some trees full of real buzzards! I'd seen these birds a lot here in Iowa, but never in the woods. I surmised that they were enjoying the cooler air under the trees while the Sun rode high in the sky and had heated up the air well into the 80's.

Well, the Buzzard I was riding wasn't flying in the air, but it was flying down the single track, and it did a great job of that. I think it is a very capable design for single track and with time, I can see where this bike will lead me to learn a few new things. I'm pretty pumped about it now, and that latest piece to the puzzle is what has unlocked the door to the potential this bike has.

Project LTHT: Flying With Buzzards

The MRP Stage Fork on the Buzzard
Last week I wrote about how the Buzzard's Reba fork just didn't have enough clearance around the big On One Chunky Monkey/Dually set up. (See here) Well, here came a new fork via UPS on Tuesday and yesterday I mounted it and took off for the woods north of town.

Loads of clearance to be had now with the new combination. I can probably put my thumb in between the brake arch at any point around the top of the tire now. No worries in terms of tire contact with the fork anymore.

The Stage is also a 34mm stanchion fork, which is stiffer than the old Reba too. I can feel this while cornering, and when pushing the front end hard. The whole package just lifts the fun factor of the Buzzard to another level. The Q-Taper axle works well, and I didn't need a brae adapter to run the 185mm Shimano rotor either. Nice.

Those big ol' tractor tires on the Duallys also make for a plush ride. I could tell I was erasing a lot of the trail chatter just with that part of the bike. In combination with the Stage fork, I felt like I had the best tracking wheels since I tested the Diamondback Sortie Black a few years ago. It was almost dual suspension like on the Buzzard, but then I'd get thwacked up the backside by the seat by a trail obstacle reminding me I was really on a hard tail.

So, I am riding along in the woods on a nearly perfect day with nearly perfect conditions and I see a rather large bird take flight ahead of me. It was obscured by a large tree, and for a brief moment, I thought it could be an owl, as I could see that its wingspan was rather long. However; the bird veered to the right and I saw it light on a branch. Looking at it I thought it may be a turkey, but suddenly I saw that it had several of its kind accompanying it. Turkey Vultures! Or in other words- buzzards! Here I was riding a bike dubbed the "Buzzard" and I was riding right underneath some trees full of real buzzards! I'd seen these birds a lot here in Iowa, but never in the woods. I surmised that they were enjoying the cooler air under the trees while the Sun rode high in the sky and had heated up the air well into the 80's.

Well, the Buzzard I was riding wasn't flying in the air, but it was flying down the single track, and it did a great job of that. I think it is a very capable design for single track and with time, I can see where this bike will lead me to learn a few new things. I'm pretty pumped about it now, and that latest piece to the puzzle is what has unlocked the door to the potential this bike has.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

So- How's That Working For Ya?

Still a work in progress- My Raleigh Tamland Two
Okay, it has been two and a half months now since I first rolled out on my Tamland Two gravel bike. I've done enough rides in enough conditions to have formulated an opinion on the design. As I stated back here, I will do my best to call out the warts as well as the beauty marks on this rig.

I'm limiting my comments here to the specifics that I feel make this bike suited better to gravel or not, so while you may want to know about the brakes or wheels, I won't be commenting on that here just yet. Stay tuned for a full review soon....

So, as usual here is my disclaimer before we continue.... NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

 Geometry: The entire reasoning I have for a specific "gravel bike design" centers around the geometry. Essentially, I think that a "gravel road" and "road" bike should have some things in common, while there are certain ideas about loose terrain handling that need to be incorporated as well. A mix of those two basic, general ideas, if you will. The Tamland borrows heavily from my thoughts on this, since Raleigh did actually take my advice on the geometry and incorporated their interpretation of that advice into the Tamland. So, the bottom line is- does it work? 

Yes. Yes it does.

Longer answer: While many may disagree on the slacker head angle and lower bottom bracket ideas here, the fact of the matter is that on loose, deeper gravel those ideas incorporated into the Tamland yield a handling that is stable and a lot less scary than most cyclo cross derived bikes used on gravel, or those that are claiming "specific gravel bike geo" and are really just CX geo bikes with big tire clearances. (Niner anyone?) My only nit is that I am left wondering if Raleigh didn't go far enough.

What You Don't Get: Looking for that "sports car snap" in your steering? The Tamland isn't your bike then. And besides- why would you want that on a gravel specific bike anyway? Cornering prowess is a different kettle of fish on gravel where a "quick", less stable geometry is going to be more of a handful, not an asset. The Tamland takes turns on pavement in big, lazy arcs unless you really lay it over and drive the front end through the apex of the corner aggressively. It definitely is not a "crit bike"!

Don't even look at a Tamland if your bike has to weigh less than 20 pounds. The Tamland is steel, has a heavy steel fork with a 50mm offset, (I haven't seen anything carbon with that long an offset), and it definitely has heft compared to the gossamer light carbon CX rigs you can get. That said, this steel frame is one of the smoothest riding steel frames I have ever ridden on any kind of a bike. I will admit that if Raleigh made a carbon version of this bike, which could be significantly lighter, I would look real hard at the savings account!

I've heard guys grouse about "long chain stays" and how they rob a bike of "snappy acceleration". I will admit that in terms of accelerating, I don't understand that statement. Maybe it has to "feel stiffer" to be "faster", and a shorter stayed bike will feel like it is rolling up under your hips when you stomp on the pedals, but that doesn't mean you are accelerating more quickly. It just means you feel something different. Horses for courses, but the Raleigh has longer stays and to my mind it goes as well as any other bike I have when it comes time to giddy-up. On a secondary note- If a bike feels "snappier" under acceleration, it generally is stiffer too. Not something I want too much of in a gravel bike. In my opinion, the Tamland strikes a good balance of stability, comfort, and stiffness.

If I Could Change Anything: 

Well, I have changed some things! But since those are components, I won't get into that here. I would maybe try a deeper bottom bracket drop by a few millimeters, and I'd like to try a half a degree slacker head tube angle, but this bike is close. Really close. It has an amazing ride quality due to the frame's tubing and the geometry package is very well suited to gravel road riding on gravel.

While that last statement may seem like a silly thing to write, I have heard and seen several comments that seem to be coming from folks that don't understand where this bike, (and other ideas I have suggested which this bike represents), is coming from. If you spend a ton of time riding all sorts of gravel roads, you already know where I am coming from here. If not, well then, maybe this would seem like non-sense then. I get that. 

On a more specific level with regard to the Tamland, I would have liked to have seen a third water bottle mount. That's the only glaring issue from my point of view that this bike has for a gravel rider. Otherwise, in my opinion, this is the "Warbird-that-should-have-been". A steel framed bike with stability and comfort that fits up to 42mm tires with mud clearance. You can nit pick about the fork material, the over-all weight, and other finer points till the cows come home, but the Tamland Two, as far as I am concerned, comes into the scene as the prototype for gravel road specific geometry in a production bike that is versatile, stable, and smooth riding. Well suited for any sort of gravel road race or riding.

Could it be improved? Sure it could, most likely. Does it only do gravel? No- it does dirt single track like a champ, by the way, but it could be a great commuter bike too. I use it in that role a lot as well. Perfect for city riding on rough, pock marked roads. Either way you look at it though, this rig is certainly dialed in for a long gravel road ride. That's just what I plan on doing with it for a long time.

So- How's That Working For Ya?

Still a work in progress- My Raleigh Tamland Two
Okay, it has been two and a half months now since I first rolled out on my Tamland Two gravel bike. I've done enough rides in enough conditions to have formulated an opinion on the design. As I stated back here, I will do my best to call out the warts as well as the beauty marks on this rig.

I'm limiting my comments here to the specifics that I feel make this bike suited better to gravel or not, so while you may want to know about the brakes or wheels, I won't be commenting on that here just yet. Stay tuned for a full review soon....

So, as usual here is my disclaimer before we continue.... NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

 Geometry: The entire reasoning I have for a specific "gravel bike design" centers around the geometry. Essentially, I think that a "gravel road" and "road" bike should have some things in common, while there are certain ideas about loose terrain handling that need to be incorporated as well. A mix of those two basic, general ideas, if you will. The Tamland borrows heavily from my thoughts on this, since Raleigh did actually take my advice on the geometry and incorporated their interpretation of that advice into the Tamland. So, the bottom line is- does it work? 

Yes. Yes it does.

Longer answer: While many may disagree on the slacker head angle and lower bottom bracket ideas here, the fact of the matter is that on loose, deeper gravel those ideas incorporated into the Tamland yield a handling that is stable and a lot less scary than most cyclo cross derived bikes used on gravel, or those that are claiming "specific gravel bike geo" and are really just CX geo bikes with big tire clearances. (Niner anyone?) My only nit is that I am left wondering if Raleigh didn't go far enough.

What You Don't Get: Looking for that "sports car snap" in your steering? The Tamland isn't your bike then. And besides- why would you want that on a gravel specific bike anyway? Cornering prowess is a different kettle of fish on gravel where a "quick", less stable geometry is going to be more of a handful, not an asset. The Tamland takes turns on pavement in big, lazy arcs unless you really lay it over and drive the front end through the apex of the corner aggressively. It definitely is not a "crit bike"!

Don't even look at a Tamland if your bike has to weigh less than 20 pounds. The Tamland is steel, has a heavy steel fork with a 50mm offset, (I haven't seen anything carbon with that long an offset), and it definitely has heft compared to the gossamer light carbon CX rigs you can get. That said, this steel frame is one of the smoothest riding steel frames I have ever ridden on any kind of a bike. I will admit that if Raleigh made a carbon version of this bike, which could be significantly lighter, I would look real hard at the savings account!

I've heard guys grouse about "long chain stays" and how they rob a bike of "snappy acceleration". I will admit that in terms of accelerating, I don't understand that statement. Maybe it has to "feel stiffer" to be "faster", and a shorter stayed bike will feel like it is rolling up under your hips when you stomp on the pedals, but that doesn't mean you are accelerating more quickly. It just means you feel something different. Horses for courses, but the Raleigh has longer stays and to my mind it goes as well as any other bike I have when it comes time to giddy-up. On a secondary note- If a bike feels "snappier" under acceleration, it generally is stiffer too. Not something I want too much of in a gravel bike. In my opinion, the Tamland strikes a good balance of stability, comfort, and stiffness.

If I Could Change Anything: 

Well, I have changed some things! But since those are components, I won't get into that here. I would maybe try a deeper bottom bracket drop by a few millimeters, and I'd like to try a half a degree slacker head tube angle, but this bike is close. Really close. It has an amazing ride quality due to the frame's tubing and the geometry package is very well suited to gravel road riding on gravel.

While that last statement may seem like a silly thing to write, I have heard and seen several comments that seem to be coming from folks that don't understand where this bike, (and other ideas I have suggested which this bike represents), is coming from. If you spend a ton of time riding all sorts of gravel roads, you already know where I am coming from here. If not, well then, maybe this would seem like non-sense then. I get that. 

On a more specific level with regard to the Tamland, I would have liked to have seen a third water bottle mount. That's the only glaring issue from my point of view that this bike has for a gravel rider. Otherwise, in my opinion, this is the "Warbird-that-should-have-been". A steel framed bike with stability and comfort that fits up to 42mm tires with mud clearance. You can nit pick about the fork material, the over-all weight, and other finer points till the cows come home, but the Tamland Two, as far as I am concerned, comes into the scene as the prototype for gravel road specific geometry in a production bike that is versatile, stable, and smooth riding. Well suited for any sort of gravel road race or riding.

Could it be improved? Sure it could, most likely. Does it only do gravel? No- it does dirt single track like a champ, by the way, but it could be a great commuter bike too. I use it in that role a lot as well. Perfect for city riding on rough, pock marked roads. Either way you look at it though, this rig is certainly dialed in for a long gravel road ride. That's just what I plan on doing with it for a long time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Mid-Fat Future? Part 2-The Evidence

 The evidence
Last week I posted here on my "totally nuts" idea that in the future we would be rolling on fat, 584ISO rim diameter wheels with voluminous tires. Dubbed "B+" by some, it is actually a reality, and I knew that going in, but I had been sworn to secrecy. Well, now the "cat is outta the bag" since I saw a story on B+ specifics published in the latest "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News". I can speak a little more freely now......

Ironically enough, (or maybe not), the B+ idea is being championed by some of the very same folks that pushed the 29"er idea forward and in 1999 produced "The Tire". Mark Slate, WTB's tire designer and mtb pioneer, has a side project called OS Bikes, which many of you long time readers here know about since I own one. Apparently, this new idea will fit my Blackbuck. Guess what I'll be doing later in the year.......?

Of course, the naysayers and "haters" will be out enforce with reasons why this is dumb, but think about this- What if you are already sitting on a 29"er hard tail, maybe a single speed, that could fit such a tire with a wide rim like WTB is going to make? You could run a standard 29"er wheel set, then swap in a "fatter" set of wheels with the big rubber and extend the capabilities of your bike. Maybe not a "true fat" bike experience, but maybe faster, more fun, and capable on softer surfaces and rocks. Sound like fun? Stay tuned..........

A Mid-Fat Future? Part 2-The Evidence

 The evidence
Last week I posted here on my "totally nuts" idea that in the future we would be rolling on fat, 584ISO rim diameter wheels with voluminous tires. Dubbed "B+" by some, it is actually a reality, and I knew that going in, but I had been sworn to secrecy. Well, now the "cat is outta the bag" since I saw a story on B+ specifics published in the latest "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News". I can speak a little more freely now......

Ironically enough, (or maybe not), the B+ idea is being championed by some of the very same folks that pushed the 29"er idea forward and in 1999 produced "The Tire". Mark Slate, WTB's tire designer and mtb pioneer, has a side project called OS Bikes, which many of you long time readers here know about since I own one. Apparently, this new idea will fit my Blackbuck. Guess what I'll be doing later in the year.......?

Of course, the naysayers and "haters" will be out enforce with reasons why this is dumb, but think about this- What if you are already sitting on a 29"er hard tail, maybe a single speed, that could fit such a tire with a wide rim like WTB is going to make? You could run a standard 29"er wheel set, then swap in a "fatter" set of wheels with the big rubber and extend the capabilities of your bike. Maybe not a "true fat" bike experience, but maybe faster, more fun, and capable on softer surfaces and rocks. Sound like fun? Stay tuned..........

Monday, May 19, 2014

Perfect Weekend?

Lookin' good, feelin' good!
Wow! Was that a great weekend or what Midwesterners? I cannot remember a weekend like this in terms of weather in recent memory. Decent temperatures, low humidity, and while it was a tad breezy, it was one of those "red letter" weekends in terms of what usually happens for weather around here.

Saturday was a four hour outing on the bike. I did all of the 3GR route, but I stopped a few times for different reasons. Once to adjust the saddle, once to relieve myself, and another two times for images. Between those stops I hammered maybe a little too hard for the shape I'm in, because I literally destroyed myself out there. I actually came home and after eating, I laid down for about three hours! I was soooo tired. I couldn't stay awake, and my legs were just weak beyond belief after that ride.

I got a late start, and I began the ride in a windbreaker since it was cool-ish to begin with and it was breezy out in the open. However; after getting warmed up I decided to pack up the wind breaker and go in my jersey alone, and that ended up being the right choice. Jersey pockets are a wonderful thing, by the way!

The gravel was quite varied this time. I saw and rode on everything from fast, smooth hard packed gravel to "normal" conditions, to gravel spread across the entire roadway, and even a bit of "freshie" gravel that was 4 inches deep on a fast down hill section right by Denver. That was sketchy at speed!

Go fast-Turn Left.
Speaking of speed, I went and took my son for a bit of a Father-Son time to Iowa Speedway on Sunday. I've been something of a racing fan all my life as I was brought up into the racing scene by my parents who used to drag me around to all the dirt short tracks in Iowa when I was but a wee lad. In fact, my father was a driver for a short time and then worked as a mechanic and pit crew member for another driver for awhile.

Anyway, I escaped being a racer somehow and ended up being a cyclist, but I do enjoy watching racers push the limits of speed, so I've been watching racing for many years. Of course, my son ended up wanting to see one of these deals and my Mom, who knew all this, bought me season tickets. Well.......what are ya gonna do? You go to the races!

I hadn't attended a race since my late teens or early twenties, I cannot remember, but the sounds were very reminiscent of my youth, and the sights were as well, minus the flying dirt clods and sideways cars. It was fun, and of course the modern race day attendee has a lot more to do and see at the track than we did back in the day, which is great for the times the cars aren't on the track. Anyway, I had a great time, so thank you, Mom!

That capped off a great weekend. Hopefully it was awesome where you were at as well!

Perfect Weekend?

Lookin' good, feelin' good!
Wow! Was that a great weekend or what Midwesterners? I cannot remember a weekend like this in terms of weather in recent memory. Decent temperatures, low humidity, and while it was a tad breezy, it was one of those "red letter" weekends in terms of what usually happens for weather around here.

Saturday was a four hour outing on the bike. I did all of the 3GR route, but I stopped a few times for different reasons. Once to adjust the saddle, once to relieve myself, and another two times for images. Between those stops I hammered maybe a little too hard for the shape I'm in, because I literally destroyed myself out there. I actually came home and after eating, I laid down for about three hours! I was soooo tired. I couldn't stay awake, and my legs were just weak beyond belief after that ride.

I got a late start, and I began the ride in a windbreaker since it was cool-ish to begin with and it was breezy out in the open. However; after getting warmed up I decided to pack up the wind breaker and go in my jersey alone, and that ended up being the right choice. Jersey pockets are a wonderful thing, by the way!

The gravel was quite varied this time. I saw and rode on everything from fast, smooth hard packed gravel to "normal" conditions, to gravel spread across the entire roadway, and even a bit of "freshie" gravel that was 4 inches deep on a fast down hill section right by Denver. That was sketchy at speed!

Go fast-Turn Left.
Speaking of speed, I went and took my son for a bit of a Father-Son time to Iowa Speedway on Sunday. I've been something of a racing fan all my life as I was brought up into the racing scene by my parents who used to drag me around to all the dirt short tracks in Iowa when I was but a wee lad. In fact, my father was a driver for a short time and then worked as a mechanic and pit crew member for another driver for awhile.

Anyway, I escaped being a racer somehow and ended up being a cyclist, but I do enjoy watching racers push the limits of speed, so I've been watching racing for many years. Of course, my son ended up wanting to see one of these deals and my Mom, who knew all this, bought me season tickets. Well.......what are ya gonna do? You go to the races!

I hadn't attended a race since my late teens or early twenties, I cannot remember, but the sounds were very reminiscent of my youth, and the sights were as well, minus the flying dirt clods and sideways cars. It was fun, and of course the modern race day attendee has a lot more to do and see at the track than we did back in the day, which is great for the times the cars aren't on the track. Anyway, I had a great time, so thank you, Mom!

That capped off a great weekend. Hopefully it was awesome where you were at as well!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tire Guts

Component parts of a tire.
The other day I received a small envelope packed with a bunch of funky fibers and strips of rubber from Challenge Tires. They are most of the component parts of a tire, minus the bead material, which would be made of flexible strands of Kevlar and whatever else they throw in there to make a tire bead!

This stuff is the casing materials and tread material. I'll go through what it all is here for you.

  • Starting from the upper left, the hairy looking bunch of strands is the fibers used to make a casing strong enough to resist blowing apart under pressure of the air and helps the tire withstand the blows received while riding. Without these nylon threads, your tire would come apart. Think of this stuff as the foundation of the casing. In this case, these are 60TPI threads. 
  • Moving clockwise to the amber looking stuff, this is more nylon thread for casing construction. In this instance, they are 120TPI, the maximum thinness for nylon threads for bicycle tire casings. You can really feel the difference when handling these samples too.
  • The white stuff is 300TPI core spun cotton. Think "Grandmas best table cloth". This is soft, luxurious feeling stuff. The cotton gives high end tires their super cushy, smooth ride feel. This is put together with the nylon threads to construct a high end tire casing. 
  • Next up we have the middle, black, shiny looking material. This is 1 ply "green", (non-vulcanized), material which has the nylon threads in it to reinforce it. This is folded two to three times and vulcanized with a tread. 
  • And finally, we have the tread strip which the rest is bonded to via vulcanization.
Obviously there is a lot of things missing here, such as processes and the aforementioned tire bead, but it is interesting to see and handle these component parts of a tire and know that tires are one of the most important parts of a bicycle.