Saturday, January 31, 2015

Trans Iowa V11: Special Statement On E-mail

Recently I was contacted by one of the Rookie entrants in this upcoming Trans Iowa who was afraid that they had missed out on getting an e-mail or two concerning Trans Iowa. Now of course, you Veterans and Finishers of past Trans Iowas know the drill, so if you want to tune out now, please go ahead......or not. You might be interested in the "why" of what I do or do not do.

In this age of The World's History, I have found that the internet has drastically altered our lives, and much of this can be seen as "digital litter" which captures our attention and, in the end, wastes a bunch of our very limited time allotted to us on this Rock. (Facebook anyone?) So, in my inimitable way, I have decided to be less of an intrusion in your already information packed life.

That said, I did ask for your e-mail address when I had you send in a post card for Trans Iowa V11 registration. Why? It is for one reason alone, really, and that has to do with the Pre-Race Meat-Up. There will be an e-mail going out soon with all the details of the pre-event goings on and this will include times, places, and a schedule of events. There will also be a question about eating at the Grinnell Steakhouse. You should only get one e-mail, and have to respond to it. That's it.

Now- if you do not respond, or your e-mail address turns up bad, I will be doing more via social media to reach you to get an answer. Also........

If you are not going to be able to be at the start line of Trans Iowa V11, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP!!

This is very important. If I end up doing a bunch of extra work, and my volunteers stuff bags for people that don't show up for any reason, that is not cool. Please let me know if life or injury, or disinterest.....whatever it may be- prevents you from being at Trans Iowa. Thank you!

Trans Iowa V11: Special Statement On E-mail

Recently I was contacted by one of the Rookie entrants in this upcoming Trans Iowa who was afraid that they had missed out on getting an e-mail or two concerning Trans Iowa. Now of course, you Veterans and Finishers of past Trans Iowas know the drill, so if you want to tune out now, please go ahead......or not. You might be interested in the "why" of what I do or do not do.

In this age of The World's History, I have found that the internet has drastically altered our lives, and much of this can be seen as "digital litter" which captures our attention and, in the end, wastes a bunch of our very limited time allotted to us on this Rock. (Facebook anyone?) So, in my inimitable way, I have decided to be less of an intrusion in your already information packed life.

That said, I did ask for your e-mail address when I had you send in a post card for Trans Iowa V11 registration. Why? It is for one reason alone, really, and that has to do with the Pre-Race Meat-Up. There will be an e-mail going out soon with all the details of the pre-event goings on and this will include times, places, and a schedule of events. There will also be a question about eating at the Grinnell Steakhouse. You should only get one e-mail, and have to respond to it. That's it.

Now- if you do not respond, or your e-mail address turns up bad, I will be doing more via social media to reach you to get an answer. Also........

If you are not going to be able to be at the start line of Trans Iowa V11, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP!!

This is very important. If I end up doing a bunch of extra work, and my volunteers stuff bags for people that don't show up for any reason, that is not cool. Please let me know if life or injury, or disinterest.....whatever it may be- prevents you from being at Trans Iowa. Thank you!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Plunking Around

Sidewalk crusin'
Take a look at this image. If I told you I snapped this on March 29th, you wouldn't bat an eyelash. Hardly a trace of snow to be seen, grass is getting greener, and my son isn't bundled up like an astronaut going for a space walk. But no......

This was snapped yesterday, on January 29th! And this isn't just some weird, short lived "January Thaw" kind of deal. Nope! It's been like this off and on all Winter long. Oh sure......we've had below zero. We've had snow, but it never lasts for very long. In fact, we've been above freezing so much during the daylight hours, (and often through the night as well), that the ground is unfreezing in several places. This has left mud holes, standing water, and has caused the grass to start turning green already!

The last time I mentioned that we had been enjoying great, warmish weather, it snowed 4.5"s the next day or so, and it wouldn't surprise me if we had that happen again, but really, we have a month and maybe another half a month after that of possible Winter weather. Whatever comes cannot last long before the Sun wins and Spring settles in to the Mid-West.

Mud hole action up at the neighborhood cemetery.
Well, whatever the deal ends up being, right now all I know is that we have a season of "early Spring" sandwiched between bursts of Winter that last a few days to a week or so at a time. So, that has meant that we haven't had any sledding chances, no XC skiing, and Winter time fat biking chances have been fleeting. I finally figured that my son and I may as well make the best of it. So, we went plunking around in search of mud and puddles.

I directed our ride up to the neighborhood cemetery. It is an old one, (for the Mid-West), and has graves dating back to the 1850's or older, perhaps. The really old limestone grave stones are nigh to unreadable. Too weathered to make out any details now. The way I figure, this cemetery was at the outskirts of the city up on a small hill, so it wouldn't get flooded by the Black Hawk Creek, which isn't too far away from it. Now it is in the middle of the city, more or less, and since it had rustic beginnings, not many of the lanes inside the cemetery are paved. In fact, there is some dirt road and pea sized gravel lane in there, plus a sizable amount of grassy field that lies low and wasn't developed into grave sites for fear of flood waters. Perfect for a couple of plunkers like us.

We observed wind damage which was evidenced by the hulks of blown down trees laying over the chain link boundary fence here and there. Then we cruised some mud holes and puddles, finally finishing up on a couple of wet, pot holed alleyways on the way back home. I couldn't stay out too long as I am still not 100% healthy yet. But, it was good to get out with my son and fiddle around on fat bikes for a spell.

Plunking Around

Sidewalk crusin'
Take a look at this image. If I told you I snapped this on March 29th, you wouldn't bat an eyelash. Hardly a trace of snow to be seen, grass is getting greener, and my son isn't bundled up like an astronaut going for a space walk. But no......

This was snapped yesterday, on January 29th! And this isn't just some weird, short lived "January Thaw" kind of deal. Nope! It's been like this off and on all Winter long. Oh sure......we've had below zero. We've had snow, but it never lasts for very long. In fact, we've been above freezing so much during the daylight hours, (and often through the night as well), that the ground is unfreezing in several places. This has left mud holes, standing water, and has caused the grass to start turning green already!

The last time I mentioned that we had been enjoying great, warmish weather, it snowed 4.5"s the next day or so, and it wouldn't surprise me if we had that happen again, but really, we have a month and maybe another half a month after that of possible Winter weather. Whatever comes cannot last long before the Sun wins and Spring settles in to the Mid-West.

Mud hole action up at the neighborhood cemetery.
Well, whatever the deal ends up being, right now all I know is that we have a season of "early Spring" sandwiched between bursts of Winter that last a few days to a week or so at a time. So, that has meant that we haven't had any sledding chances, no XC skiing, and Winter time fat biking chances have been fleeting. I finally figured that my son and I may as well make the best of it. So, we went plunking around in search of mud and puddles.

I directed our ride up to the neighborhood cemetery. It is an old one, (for the Mid-West), and has graves dating back to the 1850's or older, perhaps. The really old limestone grave stones are nigh to unreadable. Too weathered to make out any details now. The way I figure, this cemetery was at the outskirts of the city up on a small hill, so it wouldn't get flooded by the Black Hawk Creek, which isn't too far away from it. Now it is in the middle of the city, more or less, and since it had rustic beginnings, not many of the lanes inside the cemetery are paved. In fact, there is some dirt road and pea sized gravel lane in there, plus a sizable amount of grassy field that lies low and wasn't developed into grave sites for fear of flood waters. Perfect for a couple of plunkers like us.

We observed wind damage which was evidenced by the hulks of blown down trees laying over the chain link boundary fence here and there. Then we cruised some mud holes and puddles, finally finishing up on a couple of wet, pot holed alleyways on the way back home. I couldn't stay out too long as I am still not 100% healthy yet. But, it was good to get out with my son and fiddle around on fat bikes for a spell.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Origin 8 Gary Sweep OS Bar: First Impressions

Mounted up and ready to ride on the Salsa Cycles Vaya
Tuesday I introduced the Origin 8 Gary Sweep OS Bar to you readers. Yesterday I got around to mounting everything up with some new to me Gevenalle GX levers/shifters and all that on my older Salsa Cycles Vaya. (More on the Gevenalle GX shifters on RidingGravel.com soon.)

This post will focus on the Origin 8 bar. Specs can be found in my previous post HERE.

Mounting up the bar was easy. I didn't have any issues finding the "sweet spot" for the levers to sit at. One thing I will say is that I have become spoiled by those bars, (like the Cowbell), that have graduations on each drop to better align the levers. That said, it wasn't too tough to figure it out. I did notice that due to the tight radius from the tops to the hooks, getting the brake cable to lay up on the bar the way I wanted created a bit tighter curve than I'd like, but this is not much different from the Woodchipper, which also features this issue.

From the saddle.
Getting a slight downward tilt to the extensions resulted in a bit more downward tilt to the long ramps than maybe I'd like, but since I spend most of my time in the drops, this isn't too big of a concern. The more "open radius" to the hooks causes this. The Woodchipper is "radical" in this way so that if you set the ramps up level, the extensions almost point down to the bottom bracket. For my tastes, this makes the extensions unusable. While the Luxy Bar has a more symmetrical radius to the hooks, and makes everything line up really well, the Gary Sweep isn't quite that way. Still, it strikes a middle ground and it is far better than the Woodchipper in this regard.

Reaching the brake lever from the drops is easy. That is definitely important! The extensions are nice and long. Once again- if you think they are too long, saw them off shorter. It is rather difficult to "go the other way" and add length! So, I am happy to see that the Gary Sweep accommodates both short and long extension camps. The levers certainly lean in, but not really too much- certainly not as much as the Luxy Bar would make them lean inward. I think this leaves the hoods as a very useable and comfortable perch for your hands.

The tops, which are very reminiscent of the Woodchipper's tops, are wide and provide a good place for the hands wile grinding out a long grade, or for simply just cruising to relieve your back a bit, if necessary. Once again, not having a wide, 31.8mm section makes for awkward accessory positioning. In fact, from just about where I stopped taping to about 3/4's of an inch away from the face plate is tapered, which makes secure mounting of things like a computer, lights, or aerobars nigh unto impossible. This is the only major oversight I have found with the Gary Sweep OS so far.

Initial test riding revealed a compliant nature and a good chance that these will satisfy in the ergonomic department. I'd like to put in several hours on this before I make any judgments on that though.

Note: The Gary Sweep OS Bars were purchased with my own moolah and these opinions and viewpoints are mine alone. I am not being compensated for any of this. So there......

Origin 8 Gary Sweep OS Bar: First Impressions

Mounted up and ready to ride on the Salsa Cycles Vaya
Tuesday I introduced the Origin 8 Gary Sweep OS Bar to you readers. Yesterday I got around to mounting everything up with some new to me Gevenalle GX levers/shifters and all that on my older Salsa Cycles Vaya. (More on the Gevenalle GX shifters on RidingGravel.com soon.)

This post will focus on the Origin 8 bar. Specs can be found in my previous post HERE.

Mounting up the bar was easy. I didn't have any issues finding the "sweet spot" for the levers to sit at. One thing I will say is that I have become spoiled by those bars, (like the Cowbell), that have graduations on each drop to better align the levers. That said, it wasn't too tough to figure it out. I did notice that due to the tight radius from the tops to the hooks, getting the brake cable to lay up on the bar the way I wanted created a bit tighter curve than I'd like, but this is not much different from the Woodchipper, which also features this issue.

From the saddle.
Getting a slight downward tilt to the extensions resulted in a bit more downward tilt to the long ramps than maybe I'd like, but since I spend most of my time in the drops, this isn't too big of a concern. The more "open radius" to the hooks causes this. The Woodchipper is "radical" in this way so that if you set the ramps up level, the extensions almost point down to the bottom bracket. For my tastes, this makes the extensions unusable. While the Luxy Bar has a more symmetrical radius to the hooks, and makes everything line up really well, the Gary Sweep isn't quite that way. Still, it strikes a middle ground and it is far better than the Woodchipper in this regard.

Reaching the brake lever from the drops is easy. That is definitely important! The extensions are nice and long. Once again- if you think they are too long, saw them off shorter. It is rather difficult to "go the other way" and add length! So, I am happy to see that the Gary Sweep accommodates both short and long extension camps. The levers certainly lean in, but not really too much- certainly not as much as the Luxy Bar would make them lean inward. I think this leaves the hoods as a very useable and comfortable perch for your hands.

The tops, which are very reminiscent of the Woodchipper's tops, are wide and provide a good place for the hands wile grinding out a long grade, or for simply just cruising to relieve your back a bit, if necessary. Once again, not having a wide, 31.8mm section makes for awkward accessory positioning. In fact, from just about where I stopped taping to about 3/4's of an inch away from the face plate is tapered, which makes secure mounting of things like a computer, lights, or aerobars nigh unto impossible. This is the only major oversight I have found with the Gary Sweep OS so far.

Initial test riding revealed a compliant nature and a good chance that these will satisfy in the ergonomic department. I'd like to put in several hours on this before I make any judgments on that though.

Note: The Gary Sweep OS Bars were purchased with my own moolah and these opinions and viewpoints are mine alone. I am not being compensated for any of this. So there......

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Origin 8 Gary Sweep OS Bar: A New Alt Drop Bar

The off-road drop bar market has been a small, micro-niche of cycling for years. In the earlier days you had Charlie Cunningham bending Cinelli bars to his will, and then WTB and Nitto played along for awhile. With a gap of several years with no new off road drops available, On One kicked things off again with the Midge Bar, heavily influenced by the previous WTB offering. Then things got a little crazy. WTB released a revised, but not much-loved Dirt Drop, Origin 8 came out with a Midge-like knock off dubbed the Gary Bar, and Salsa Cycles introduced the Woodchipper. Finally, a briefly available but now coveted bar, dubbed the Luxy Bar, made its appearance. So, at one time there were five off road drop bar models out there recently.

That's contracted down to three until recently. Origin 8 quietly introduced another offering in their Winter catalog to dealers. It is dubbed the "Gary Sweep OS" bar. Of all of Origin 8's Gary Bar variants over the years, this bar, in my opinion, is by far their best effort. That said, let's take a closer look at it and then I'll make some observations.......

This, by my count, is the third of the Gary Bar variants- the Gary Sweep OS.

The "sweep" in the name of this bar refers to the 15 degree swept out extensions.
Nice length to the extensions and the hooks aren't too deep.
Specs: Origin 8 doesn't give too much here in the way of spec on the packaging, saying only that the bar is made from 6060 T6 alloy, has a "flared out" grip area, is 610mm wide, and has a 31.8mm clamp diameter. Here are the measurements I took from the bar using a tape measure and an angle finder app on my iPhone:
  • Tip-to-Tip across the ends of the swept portion of the bar, the Gary Sweep measures 636mm/25".
  • Tops measure 433mm/17" between the drops.
  • Flare: The hooks are flared out at 58° to the outside.
  • Sweep: The extensions are swept outwards at 15° from a typical road bar position.
  • Reach: Approximately 85mm
  • Drop: Approximately 105mm
  • Weight: 320 grams.
Observations: My initial impressions were that the Gary Sweep OS is like a cross between a Woodchipper and a Luxy Bar. The tops are wide, the bend to the ramps is about 90° to the top, and the radius of the hook is similar to a Woodchipper. The reach, drop, and flare are more akin to the Luxy though. Sweep of the extensions is not as radical, nor is the flare as radical as the Luxy Bar.

If you have to ride the hoods primarily and love a road bike's position, do not get this bar. The ramps and flare of the hooks will cant the hoods inward and you will not get the levers to set in anywhere near the same position as a road bike's. The Woodchipper is a much better bar to choose if you want the hoods like that. While the sweep and flare are not as radical as a Luxy Bar's were, the levers will "lean in" when properly mounted on the Gary Sweep OS. If the Luxy seemed just too radical to you, these may be your bar.

I like the drop and reach, which is reminiscent of the Luxy Bar's measurements, however, the radius is slightly more "open" than the Luxy Bar's was, and the ramps are slightly different as well. We'll see how that plays out once I set these up with some levers. I do miss the tops being 31.8mm across the entire length, which I thought was a brilliant idea that Brant Richards used when he designed the Luxy Bar. The Gary Sweep OS is bar end compatible and sells for about $50.00-$70.00, give or take. (As seen quoted on Amazon.com)

I'll be mounting these up on a bike here real soon and after a ride or two I hope to come back with some impressions. Stay tuned......

Note: The Gary Sweep OS Bars were purchased with my own moolah and these opinions and viewpoints are mine alone. I am not being compensated for any of this. So there......

Origin 8 Gary Sweep OS Bar: A New Alt Drop Bar

The off-road drop bar market has been a small, micro-niche of cycling for years. In the earlier days you had Charlie Cunningham bending Cinelli bars to his will, and then WTB and Nitto played along for awhile. With a gap of several years with no new off road drops available, On One kicked things off again with the Midge Bar, heavily influenced by the previous WTB offering. Then things got a little crazy. WTB released a revised, but not much-loved Dirt Drop, Origin 8 came out with a Midge-like knock off dubbed the Gary Bar, and Salsa Cycles introduced the Woodchipper. Finally, a briefly available but now coveted bar, dubbed the Luxy Bar, made its appearance. So, at one time there were five off road drop bar models out there recently.

That's contracted down to three until recently. Origin 8 quietly introduced another offering in their Winter catalog to dealers. It is dubbed the "Gary Sweep OS" bar. Of all of Origin 8's Gary Bar variants over the years, this bar, in my opinion, is by far their best effort. That said, let's take a closer look at it and then I'll make some observations.......

This, by my count, is the third of the Gary Bar variants- the Gary Sweep OS.

The "sweep" in the name of this bar refers to the 15 degree swept out extensions.
Nice length to the extensions and the hooks aren't too deep.
Specs: Origin 8 doesn't give too much here in the way of spec on the packaging, saying only that the bar is made from 6060 T6 alloy, has a "flared out" grip area, is 610mm wide, and has a 31.8mm clamp diameter. Here are the measurements I took from the bar using a tape measure and an angle finder app on my iPhone:
  • Tip-to-Tip across the ends of the swept portion of the bar, the Gary Sweep measures 636mm/25".
  • Tops measure 433mm/17" between the drops.
  • Flare: The hooks are flared out at 58° to the outside.
  • Sweep: The extensions are swept outwards at 15° from a typical road bar position.
  • Reach: Approximately 85mm
  • Drop: Approximately 105mm
  • Weight: 320 grams.
Observations: My initial impressions were that the Gary Sweep OS is like a cross between a Woodchipper and a Luxy Bar. The tops are wide, the bend to the ramps is about 90° to the top, and the radius of the hook is similar to a Woodchipper. The reach, drop, and flare are more akin to the Luxy though. Sweep of the extensions is not as radical, nor is the flare as radical as the Luxy Bar.

If you have to ride the hoods primarily and love a road bike's position, do not get this bar. The ramps and flare of the hooks will cant the hoods inward and you will not get the levers to set in anywhere near the same position as a road bike's. The Woodchipper is a much better bar to choose if you want the hoods like that. While the sweep and flare are not as radical as a Luxy Bar's were, the levers will "lean in" when properly mounted on the Gary Sweep OS. If the Luxy seemed just too radical to you, these may be your bar.

I like the drop and reach, which is reminiscent of the Luxy Bar's measurements, however, the radius is slightly more "open" than the Luxy Bar's was, and the ramps are slightly different as well. We'll see how that plays out once I set these up with some levers. I do miss the tops being 31.8mm across the entire length, which I thought was a brilliant idea that Brant Richards used when he designed the Luxy Bar. The Gary Sweep OS is bar end compatible and sells for about $50.00-$70.00, give or take. (As seen quoted on Amazon.com)

I'll be mounting these up on a bike here real soon and after a ride or two I hope to come back with some impressions. Stay tuned......

Note: The Gary Sweep OS Bars were purchased with my own moolah and these opinions and viewpoints are mine alone. I am not being compensated for any of this. So there......

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blackborow DS: Front Brake Cable Mod

A glaring fault with 2015 Mukluks and Blackborows
I've perhaps been a bit over-enthusiastic about my 2015 Blackborow DS, and if you've been cruising around here since last November, you might agree. Most everything about the bicycle I am pretty happy about. There is one mighty glaring negative to the "happy-happy-joy-joy" though, and that is how Salsa decided to route the front brake housing/cable, or in the case of hydraulic Mukluk set ups, the brake hose.

In all cases, the cable/hose routing runs to the inside of the fork leg at a point that is within millimeters of the widest part of the tire casing. Not only that, but as the cable/hose enters the cable guide from above, it tends to come within a whisker of contacting the tire.

Only through a judicious shortening of the stock cable, or by adding an unsightly cable tie, can you avoid having the front brake housing/hose hit the tire. This would not be a "deal breaker" if the cable guide had been mounted a bit further up the fork leg, so as to avoid the widest part of the tire casing, but as you can plainly see by my images, that is not the case on the Blackborow, nor is it much different on current Mukluks. This placement causes mud, snow, ice, and dirt to accumulate right where you don't want it to, clogging the fork and in extreme cases, it can stop the front wheel from rotating freely. I know- there was this one foray into a muddy, clay filled construction site, and....... You get the picture.

Another look without the wheel in place.
Furthermore, the stainless steel guide, which is attached by a nice button head Allen bolt to a threaded boss in the fork blade, cuts into the housing as it sways around above the guide due to bumpy terrain and steering inputs. From the standpoint of being an "out of bounds", adventuring bike, this design for the brake hose/housing guide seems to be a poor one, in my opinion.

I decided to defer to the design choice for a while to see if it was just me, or if it was actually going to be a problem that I would have to be concerned with. On all fronts mentioned, I turned out to be correct in my initial analysis. That meant that I needed to make a modification, and I had a pretty good idea of what it was that would rectify the problems. This post outlines a really simple, easy solution that anyone should be able to employ to make their 2015 Mukluk or Blackborow with a rigid Salsa fork a better bike.

NOTE: Before I continue I should say that this is a modification of the brake cable housing/hose guide only. It may or may not void a warranty, and is not advocated by Salsa Cycles, so consult with your Salsa Cycles dealer ahead of doing anything before making this mod. Also- Unless you are comfortable doing some handiwork with a hammer and vice, and if you are not very skilled as a craftsman, you should defer to a more talented person or take this idea to the local bike shop.

Okee-doekee? Let's move on then..........

You'll need a plastic covered "P-clamp", a ball peen hammer, and something round, steel, and that is approximately 5mm in diameter. 
After gathering the parts and tools above, flatten the "P-clamp" out by first bending it apart by hand until you can flatten it out with a hammer on a flat steel surface, like the vice above. Then, using the rounded end with the pre-made hole as a guide, hold the flattened "P-clamp" up to the mounting bolt for the brake guide, center the bolt in the hole in the end of the "P-clamp", and holding the flattened "P-clamp parallel to the ground as the bike sits on the floor, note where the flattened end of the "P-clamp" clears the fork blade to the rear of the bike. Mark this point with a Sharpie or a small piece of tape. This is where you will want the "P-clamp" to start a loop to hold the cable housing/brake hose. The loop you will put into the "P-clamp" must clear the back of the fork leg, so measure twice- bend once!

Your formed "P-clamp" should look something like this when you are done.
 Start bending the strip of plastic covered metal at the point you determined from the step above. Using your 5mm diameter steel object, (I chose a Torx wrench, as seen above), bend the "P-clamp as closely as you can around the steel form. Once you get around past 90 degrees or so, you can start using the ball peen hammer to bend the strap further and form it more closely to conform with the radius of your steel form.

This might be the most difficult part for many of you, so if you are not comfortable wielding a hammer on a vice to form metal, you may want to seek out assistance with this step.  It is critical that the opening you, (or whomever does the work), forms is round and not ovalized. Otherwise it doesn't matter how it looks unless you are OCD about how things look. Then, well.......that's another story. You will notice that in my example the ends overlap. I needed to trim off the "shorter" tab.

Trimmed, deburred and ready to install.
I actually "over-engineered" this idea by drilling a 3mm hole into the overlapping ends, flaring the hole, tapping it, and bolting it together, thinking I didn't want the overlapping ends to be pulled apart while riding, but you will see here in a minute that this wasn't necessary. So, I have an extra hole in mine for no reason, but it is lighter this way. <===Har-har!

Anyway, I bent the overlapping, shorter tab upward and trimmed it back with some heavy duty end cutters. I then deburred that with a file, and also rounded off any other sharp edges. After I was satisfied that I had everything as good as I could make it, I went ahead and installed the new brake cable housing/hose guide in place using the same button head bolt that came with the original guide.

Hmm.....well, I shouldn't have drilled and tapped that extra hole- since it was unnecessary, but there it is.....
With the new guide installed, it became apparent that I didn't need the extra security of another fastener, since the overlapped portion is trapped under the outer part of the clamp and the fork blade. It is highly unlikely it will ever pull apart. So, if I had this to do over again, I would skip that extra part of the process and use the simpler idea instead. Above the new clamp you can see the damage done by the original guide to the brake housing. This will be impossible with my new guide since it doesn't clamp directly on to the housing and is plastic coated. But that isn't all......

Perfectly out of the way now!
By routing the cable housing behind the fork blade, the profile of the fork blade is cleaned up and clearance is enhanced. Now the only thing that can gather muck is the button head fastener and the thickness of the flattened "P-clamp" that sticks out just a bit from the inside of the fork blade.

You'll also note that the entrance from above to the guide is placed well away from the tire, not as it is with Salsa's solution, and there is no way that the cable will ever come in contact with the tire in this arrangement. One unforeseen advantage to setting up the brake cable/hose guide this way was that now I do not have to thread the Anything Cage straps around the brake cable housing, but I can route those straps underneath and directly onto the fork blade. This may help to avoid further damage to cable housings down the road.

Take away my extra hole gaff, and this solution is far superior to the stock arrangement in every way. It enhances tire to fork clearances, and it is safer, in my opinion, since there is no way the guide can damage the cable housing, nor is there any further cause for concern with the tire snagging the cable housing at some point. Plus, the cost to make this improvement is a simple "P-clamp" and a bit of time.Plus, if you use a new "P-clamp" and don't drill the extra hole, yours will look better than mine does. So, ya know- there is that to shoot for as well!

I've got to say that this detail is curious as it comes stock from Salsa. Looking at the Makwa carbon fork, or the previous steel Enabler fork shows elegant solutions that are functional and clean as far as cable routing goes. At least it is an easy to fix flaw in an otherwise great bike. If you have any questions about what I did here, feel free to e-mail me at g.ted.productions@gmail.com or leave a comment in the comments section. I'll answer your questions the best I know how.

Blackborow DS: Front Brake Cable Mod

A glaring fault with 2015 Mukluks and Blackborows
I've perhaps been a bit over-enthusiastic about my 2015 Blackborow DS, and if you've been cruising around here since last November, you might agree. Most everything about the bicycle I am pretty happy about. There is one mighty glaring negative to the "happy-happy-joy-joy" though, and that is how Salsa decided to route the front brake housing/cable, or in the case of hydraulic Mukluk set ups, the brake hose.

In all cases, the cable/hose routing runs to the inside of the fork leg at a point that is within millimeters of the widest part of the tire casing. Not only that, but as the cable/hose enters the cable guide from above, it tends to come within a whisker of contacting the tire.

Only through a judicious shortening of the stock cable, or by adding an unsightly cable tie, can you avoid having the front brake housing/hose hit the tire. This would not be a "deal breaker" if the cable guide had been mounted a bit further up the fork leg, so as to avoid the widest part of the tire casing, but as you can plainly see by my images, that is not the case on the Blackborow, nor is it much different on current Mukluks. This placement causes mud, snow, ice, and dirt to accumulate right where you don't want it to, clogging the fork and in extreme cases, it can stop the front wheel from rotating freely. I know- there was this one foray into a muddy, clay filled construction site, and....... You get the picture.

Another look without the wheel in place.
Furthermore, the stainless steel guide, which is attached by a nice button head Allen bolt to a threaded boss in the fork blade, cuts into the housing as it sways around above the guide due to bumpy terrain and steering inputs. From the standpoint of being an "out of bounds", adventuring bike, this design for the brake hose/housing guide seems to be a poor one, in my opinion.

I decided to defer to the design choice for a while to see if it was just me, or if it was actually going to be a problem that I would have to be concerned with. On all fronts mentioned, I turned out to be correct in my initial analysis. That meant that I needed to make a modification, and I had a pretty good idea of what it was that would rectify the problems. This post outlines a really simple, easy solution that anyone should be able to employ to make their 2015 Mukluk or Blackborow with a rigid Salsa fork a better bike.

NOTE: Before I continue I should say that this is a modification of the brake cable housing/hose guide only. It may or may not void a warranty, and is not advocated by Salsa Cycles, so consult with your Salsa Cycles dealer ahead of doing anything before making this mod. Also- Unless you are comfortable doing some handiwork with a hammer and vice, and if you are not very skilled as a craftsman, you should defer to a more talented person or take this idea to the local bike shop.

Okee-doekee? Let's move on then..........

You'll need a plastic covered "P-clamp", a ball peen hammer, and something round, steel, and that is approximately 5mm in diameter. 
After gathering the parts and tools above, flatten the "P-clamp" out by first bending it apart by hand until you can flatten it out with a hammer on a flat steel surface, like the vice above. Then, using the rounded end with the pre-made hole as a guide, hold the flattened "P-clamp" up to the mounting bolt for the brake guide, center the bolt in the hole in the end of the "P-clamp", and holding the flattened "P-clamp parallel to the ground as the bike sits on the floor, note where the flattened end of the "P-clamp" clears the fork blade to the rear of the bike. Mark this point with a Sharpie or a small piece of tape. This is where you will want the "P-clamp" to start a loop to hold the cable housing/brake hose. The loop you will put into the "P-clamp" must clear the back of the fork leg, so measure twice- bend once!

Your formed "P-clamp" should look something like this when you are done.
 Start bending the strip of plastic covered metal at the point you determined from the step above. Using your 5mm diameter steel object, (I chose a Torx wrench, as seen above), bend the "P-clamp as closely as you can around the steel form. Once you get around past 90 degrees or so, you can start using the ball peen hammer to bend the strap further and form it more closely to conform with the radius of your steel form.

This might be the most difficult part for many of you, so if you are not comfortable wielding a hammer on a vice to form metal, you may want to seek out assistance with this step.  It is critical that the opening you, (or whomever does the work), forms is round and not ovalized. Otherwise it doesn't matter how it looks unless you are OCD about how things look. Then, well.......that's another story. You will notice that in my example the ends overlap. I needed to trim off the "shorter" tab.

Trimmed, deburred and ready to install.
I actually "over-engineered" this idea by drilling a 3mm hole into the overlapping ends, flaring the hole, tapping it, and bolting it together, thinking I didn't want the overlapping ends to be pulled apart while riding, but you will see here in a minute that this wasn't necessary. So, I have an extra hole in mine for no reason, but it is lighter this way. <===Har-har!

Anyway, I bent the overlapping, shorter tab upward and trimmed it back with some heavy duty end cutters. I then deburred that with a file, and also rounded off any other sharp edges. After I was satisfied that I had everything as good as I could make it, I went ahead and installed the new brake cable housing/hose guide in place using the same button head bolt that came with the original guide.

Hmm.....well, I shouldn't have drilled and tapped that extra hole- since it was unnecessary, but there it is.....
With the new guide installed, it became apparent that I didn't need the extra security of another fastener, since the overlapped portion is trapped under the outer part of the clamp and the fork blade. It is highly unlikely it will ever pull apart. So, if I had this to do over again, I would skip that extra part of the process and use the simpler idea instead. Above the new clamp you can see the damage done by the original guide to the brake housing. This will be impossible with my new guide since it doesn't clamp directly on to the housing and is plastic coated. But that isn't all......

Perfectly out of the way now!
By routing the cable housing behind the fork blade, the profile of the fork blade is cleaned up and clearance is enhanced. Now the only thing that can gather muck is the button head fastener and the thickness of the flattened "P-clamp" that sticks out just a bit from the inside of the fork blade.

You'll also note that the entrance from above to the guide is placed well away from the tire, not as it is with Salsa's solution, and there is no way that the cable will ever come in contact with the tire in this arrangement. One unforeseen advantage to setting up the brake cable/hose guide this way was that now I do not have to thread the Anything Cage straps around the brake cable housing, but I can route those straps underneath and directly onto the fork blade. This may help to avoid further damage to cable housings down the road.

Take away my extra hole gaff, and this solution is far superior to the stock arrangement in every way. It enhances tire to fork clearances, and it is safer, in my opinion, since there is no way the guide can damage the cable housing, nor is there any further cause for concern with the tire snagging the cable housing at some point. Plus, the cost to make this improvement is a simple "P-clamp" and a bit of time.Plus, if you use a new "P-clamp" and don't drill the extra hole, yours will look better than mine does. So, ya know- there is that to shoot for as well!

I've got to say that this detail is curious as it comes stock from Salsa. Looking at the Makwa carbon fork, or the previous steel Enabler fork shows elegant solutions that are functional and clean as far as cable routing goes. At least it is an easy to fix flaw in an otherwise great bike. If you have any questions about what I did here, feel free to e-mail me at g.ted.productions@gmail.com or leave a comment in the comments section. I'll answer your questions the best I know how.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Gravel On The RAGBY

Did Steve Hed like gravel road riding.....?
The big RAGBRAI route announcement party happened over the weekend and normally I only cock an eye sideways at this deal, since where the route goes does affect me for several months. Close to home and we're busy, far from home......not so much. So, while I casually cruised social media to see where the route overnight towns might be, I was messaged by a fellow gravelist, ("gravelluer"?....hmm...), that the RAGBY was going to honor Steve Hed with an optional 15 mile gravel road route tacked on to the second day of the week's festivities.

"Okay, that's pretty cool", I think. Then I think...."There probably are not many typical RAGBY riders that even know why this loop was added on gravel."  Then I thought, "Only FIFTEEN miles!" Sheesh! Someone of Steve Hed's stature surely deserves a full day's gravel route option, doesn't he? If you knew that Steve was a big proponent of gravel/rural/backroad riding, then you'd probably agree. He was not only a lover of that sort of riding, but his company, HED Wheels, actively supported the gravel racing scene.

Just look at the sticker he had made for his own personal gravel sled shown at the 2013 Interbike trade show. It says, "Gravel Nation", a moniker I hadn't seen before until I saw Steve's bike. He obviously saw himself as a part of that sort of thing, and he was, in fact, a huge part of it, although most cyclists would probably have never pigeon-holed him as such a rider.

Obviously a lot of fancy-pants road bikes will be there at the RAGBY slinging HED wheels, which are coveted for their aerodynamic properties. However; while that's Steve Hed's legacy in cycling, it isn't where his heart was. (I know- he told me this himself.) He was an adventurer, raised on the dusty roads of Minnesota, and he still was looking forward to many more miles of gravel, dirt, chip seal, and wherever the path may have taken him on an adventure. Unfortunately, he left us behind on an adventure of a different kind.

The RAGBY route comes to our metro area this year, so I suppose I'll be busier than last year. I'll be stuck in the shop, cranking out repairs, I am sure. I hope to not be so busy that I can't get out and put in a good, adventurous gravel ride in the day of his memorial loop. I figure it's the right thing to do.

Gravel On The RAGBY

Did Steve Hed like gravel road riding.....?
The big RAGBRAI route announcement party happened over the weekend and normally I only cock an eye sideways at this deal, since where the route goes does affect me for several months. Close to home and we're busy, far from home......not so much. So, while I casually cruised social media to see where the route overnight towns might be, I was messaged by a fellow gravelist, ("gravelluer"?....hmm...), that the RAGBY was going to honor Steve Hed with an optional 15 mile gravel road route tacked on to the second day of the week's festivities.

"Okay, that's pretty cool", I think. Then I think...."There probably are not many typical RAGBY riders that even know why this loop was added on gravel."  Then I thought, "Only FIFTEEN miles!" Sheesh! Someone of Steve Hed's stature surely deserves a full day's gravel route option, doesn't he? If you knew that Steve was a big proponent of gravel/rural/backroad riding, then you'd probably agree. He was not only a lover of that sort of riding, but his company, HED Wheels, actively supported the gravel racing scene.

Just look at the sticker he had made for his own personal gravel sled shown at the 2013 Interbike trade show. It says, "Gravel Nation", a moniker I hadn't seen before until I saw Steve's bike. He obviously saw himself as a part of that sort of thing, and he was, in fact, a huge part of it, although most cyclists would probably have never pigeon-holed him as such a rider.

Obviously a lot of fancy-pants road bikes will be there at the RAGBY slinging HED wheels, which are coveted for their aerodynamic properties. However; while that's Steve Hed's legacy in cycling, it isn't where his heart was. (I know- he told me this himself.) He was an adventurer, raised on the dusty roads of Minnesota, and he still was looking forward to many more miles of gravel, dirt, chip seal, and wherever the path may have taken him on an adventure. Unfortunately, he left us behind on an adventure of a different kind.

The RAGBY route comes to our metro area this year, so I suppose I'll be busier than last year. I'll be stuck in the shop, cranking out repairs, I am sure. I hope to not be so busy that I can't get out and put in a good, adventurous gravel ride in the day of his memorial loop. I figure it's the right thing to do.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Trans Iowa V11: A Look At The Rules Part 18

 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 the cell phone rule HERE, now it's on to a rule about "being in it together".

20: Racers can help other racers with mechanical support. We are not doing this event to leave someone out in the boonies of Iowa.

The "self-supported" thing was something really new for most folks coming to Trans Iowa early on. What did that mean? This was why this rule was put into the original set of rules set out by Jeff Kerkove back in 2004. It was to help define how far "self-supported" went.

We were getting a lot of early questions and many assumptions that due to the nature of the event, you as a rider could not even help another rider out in case of mechanicals. Of course, we weren't wanting it to be that way. So this rule was written to make sure anyone undertaking Trans Iowa would know that assistance, as long as it came from another rider in the event, was okay. This became different things as the event matured and riders began to interpret this rule through the years.

Rule #20 in action during T.I.V8
Of course, the original intention for the rule has persisted all along. If someone flats, your riding partner at the time is kind of expected to offer assistance. It's a "gentleman's agreement", but it is in the spirit of the event and is in the spirit of Rule #20.

However; "assistance" has grown to also include other things. The first time I recall seeing this in action was at T.I.v3 when Majiec Nowak, of "Team Polska", downloaded his remaining supplies for his mates to take on as they continued after he dropped out. I then was made aware of how small enclaves of riders were forming and helping to encourage each other through the evening hours of the event. In fact, this started happening right out of the gate at Trans Iowa V1.

Later, I would hear how certain folks would rely on a single individual to navigate by the cue sheets as the rest would simply grind out the miles and follow. However; this can be quite dangerous as we have learned. On several occasions, the designated navigator would start to become so fatigued that they would make mistakes and lead several others astray. Sometimes to the tune of several miles. Although this "assistance" is not recommended, it happens every year at T.I.

The result of Rule #20, by accident really, is that by it- and the nature of the event- riders have bonded in special ways out there as they have encountered difficulties, been broken down, and somehow still forge on to finish. The friendships and special feelings that this has resulted in may be one of Trans Iowa's greatest attributes.

Next Time: Getting off-line and back again.

Trans Iowa V11: A Look At The Rules Part 18

 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 the cell phone rule HERE, now it's on to a rule about "being in it together".

20: Racers can help other racers with mechanical support. We are not doing this event to leave someone out in the boonies of Iowa.

The "self-supported" thing was something really new for most folks coming to Trans Iowa early on. What did that mean? This was why this rule was put into the original set of rules set out by Jeff Kerkove back in 2004. It was to help define how far "self-supported" went.

We were getting a lot of early questions and many assumptions that due to the nature of the event, you as a rider could not even help another rider out in case of mechanicals. Of course, we weren't wanting it to be that way. So this rule was written to make sure anyone undertaking Trans Iowa would know that assistance, as long as it came from another rider in the event, was okay. This became different things as the event matured and riders began to interpret this rule through the years.

Rule #20 in action during T.I.V8
Of course, the original intention for the rule has persisted all along. If someone flats, your riding partner at the time is kind of expected to offer assistance. It's a "gentleman's agreement", but it is in the spirit of the event and is in the spirit of Rule #20.

However; "assistance" has grown to also include other things. The first time I recall seeing this in action was at T.I.v3 when Majiec Nowak, of "Team Polska", downloaded his remaining supplies for his mates to take on as they continued after he dropped out. I then was made aware of how small enclaves of riders were forming and helping to encourage each other through the evening hours of the event. In fact, this started happening right out of the gate at Trans Iowa V1.

Later, I would hear how certain folks would rely on a single individual to navigate by the cue sheets as the rest would simply grind out the miles and follow. However; this can be quite dangerous as we have learned. On several occasions, the designated navigator would start to become so fatigued that they would make mistakes and lead several others astray. Sometimes to the tune of several miles. Although this "assistance" is not recommended, it happens every year at T.I.

The result of Rule #20, by accident really, is that by it- and the nature of the event- riders have bonded in special ways out there as they have encountered difficulties, been broken down, and somehow still forge on to finish. The friendships and special feelings that this has resulted in may be one of Trans Iowa's greatest attributes.

Next Time: Getting off-line and back again.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Boo Bicycles Visits

Prototype carbon lugged, bamboo fat bike from Boo Bikes
Yesterday we were graced by the presence of Adam Blake of Boo Bicycles from Fort Collins, Colorado. He stopped by the shop to show off this beautiful carbon lugged bamboo fat bike prototype. If you raced at Triple D, you also may have gotten a glimpse of it.

Adam also chatted us up about Boo Bicycles and what the deal is with the bamboo sections of the frame. On this fat bike, the bamboo extends underneath the carbon overlay so that the chain stays, seat stays, top tube, and down tube are all full length bamboo tubes. The carbon is then wrapped and formed over the bamboo to join the tubes and stiffen them in these critical areas. The seat tube is fully carbon, as is the head tube. This composite structure has unique ride characteristics and attributes that neither a full bamboo or carbon fiber frame can attain to. We were told the fat bike is still a work in progress and that the final iteration for production may vary from what we saw in some fairly significant ways. Stay tuned there.....

There was a lot more discussed than just this fat bike. Adam told us to watch for a shift in focus from Boo Bikes which will be revealed very soon. Also, I have some things cooking regarding Boo Bicycles and perhaps some collaboration with RidingGravel.com. The second and third sentences may or may not be related. (<====HA!)

Stay tuned for more details............

Boo Bicycles Visits

Prototype carbon lugged, bamboo fat bike from Boo Bikes
Yesterday we were graced by the presence of Adam Blake of Boo Bicycles from Fort Collins, Colorado. He stopped by the shop to show off this beautiful carbon lugged bamboo fat bike prototype. If you raced at Triple D, you also may have gotten a glimpse of it.

Adam also chatted us up about Boo Bicycles and what the deal is with the bamboo sections of the frame. On this fat bike, the bamboo extends underneath the carbon overlay so that the chain stays, seat stays, top tube, and down tube are all full length bamboo tubes. The carbon is then wrapped and formed over the bamboo to join the tubes and stiffen them in these critical areas. The seat tube is fully carbon, as is the head tube. This composite structure has unique ride characteristics and attributes that neither a full bamboo or carbon fiber frame can attain to. We were told the fat bike is still a work in progress and that the final iteration for production may vary from what we saw in some fairly significant ways. Stay tuned there.....

There was a lot more discussed than just this fat bike. Adam told us to watch for a shift in focus from Boo Bikes which will be revealed very soon. Also, I have some things cooking regarding Boo Bicycles and perhaps some collaboration with RidingGravel.com. The second and third sentences may or may not be related. (<====HA!)

Stay tuned for more details............

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday News And Views

The Sun sets on another year......
Another Trip Around The Sun:

Today kicks off another trip around the Sun for me and this one will be a potentially pretty exciting one. Leaving last year behind, with being sick on several occasions, getting hit by a truck, and with all the changes at the end of the year- well, if the coming year is just calmer, it would be better! However; I have some exciting new things to do and to learn about, some of which has already been kicking into gear here starting with the new year.

RidingGravel.com has already proven to be fun and a game changer for me. I have been less stressed in regard to having to be an editor, reviewer, and organizer, so that's been a big plus and a change I am still getting accustomed to. Riding Gravel Radio Ranch has been fun, and a learning experience. So far, the response has been very positive to it, which is quite encouraging. Now my focus is not going to be torn away from gravel riding, which I have missed doing a lot of, and which will be happening a lot more in the coming year.

There also is potential for some bigger and better things regarding RidingGravel.com, and that's encouraging for me as well. Hopefully the being sick so far this year will go by the wayside and I can get on with all of those things and more. Spending time with my wife and two children is a big priority also, and the extra time opened up by the changes made so far should help that situation out as well. So, anyway......here we go again!

2010- The last time I looked at this view from a bicycle saddle...
 Announcing......

Many of you don't know that I have thrown my hat into the ring to ride 200 miles in Kansas at the end of May. Yep.......I will be riding the Dirty Kanza 200

The last time I was there I succumbed to heat related issues at Checkpoint #1. 2010 was the year that the heat and wind was really intense and many were cooked that year, not just myself. However; I've never crossed that finish line, and I have to check that box off my list. I figured that I am not getting any younger, so........ 

Next, I want to say that I am 100% sure I am not the first person to think about this, and I am sure more than a few are going to dedicate their 2010 DK200 effort to this as well, but my ride at the Dirty Kanza will be in memory and dedicated to Joel Dyke.

Then I want to say that you can also expect me to resurrect my "Dirty Kanza 200 Chronicles", which I wrote as a training log for an aborted attempt at the 2011 DK 200, which didn't happen due to a family vacation to El Paso Texas to see family. Things will kick into gear as soon as I get my "medical clearance" from Mrs. Guitar Ted to start putting in some gravelly rides this Winter and Spring.

GTDRI 2014 course will be conquered in 2015!
Announcing Part 2......

And while I am at it, let's get this out- The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational will happen Saturday, July 25th out of backbone State Park. I have a score to settle there as well.

While it wouldn't have been pretty, I was well on my way to finishing that course last Summer when the aforementioned truck hit me at Mile 95. That obviously stopped the proceedings right then and there. I figure this needs to be put to bed the right way, so the same exact course will be run again, only this time with a much better outcome.

A Word About The Ride: I've had people come up and tell me that they would like to join this ride, but that they were not "invited". Look.........you are invited! Much like the Pirate Cycling League's "Gravel World's" is a tongue in cheek naming of a fun gravel race, so it is with the GTDRI. It is a pretentious name for a no-drop, anyone can come if they want to gravel grinder. So, don't tell me you didn't come because "I wasn't invited", because you are. Just show up at Backbone State Park ready to ride at 6:00am. Done!

And with that, I wish you all a fantastic weekend and hope you all get out and ride!

Friday News And Views

The Sun sets on another year......
Another Trip Around The Sun:

Today kicks off another trip around the Sun for me and this one will be a potentially pretty exciting one. Leaving last year behind, with being sick on several occasions, getting hit by a truck, and with all the changes at the end of the year- well, if the coming year is just calmer, it would be better! However; I have some exciting new things to do and to learn about, some of which has already been kicking into gear here starting with the new year.

RidingGravel.com has already proven to be fun and a game changer for me. I have been less stressed in regard to having to be an editor, reviewer, and organizer, so that's been a big plus and a change I am still getting accustomed to. Riding Gravel Radio Ranch has been fun, and a learning experience. So far, the response has been very positive to it, which is quite encouraging. Now my focus is not going to be torn away from gravel riding, which I have missed doing a lot of, and which will be happening a lot more in the coming year.

There also is potential for some bigger and better things regarding RidingGravel.com, and that's encouraging for me as well. Hopefully the being sick so far this year will go by the wayside and I can get on with all of those things and more. Spending time with my wife and two children is a big priority also, and the extra time opened up by the changes made so far should help that situation out as well. So, anyway......here we go again!

2010- The last time I looked at this view from a bicycle saddle...
 Announcing......

Many of you don't know that I have thrown my hat into the ring to ride 200 miles in Kansas at the end of May. Yep.......I will be riding the Dirty Kanza 200

The last time I was there I succumbed to heat related issues at Checkpoint #1. 2010 was the year that the heat and wind was really intense and many were cooked that year, not just myself. However; I've never crossed that finish line, and I have to check that box off my list. I figured that I am not getting any younger, so........ 

Next, I want to say that I am 100% sure I am not the first person to think about this, and I am sure more than a few are going to dedicate their 2010 DK200 effort to this as well, but my ride at the Dirty Kanza will be in memory and dedicated to Joel Dyke.

Then I want to say that you can also expect me to resurrect my "Dirty Kanza 200 Chronicles", which I wrote as a training log for an aborted attempt at the 2011 DK 200, which didn't happen due to a family vacation to El Paso Texas to see family. Things will kick into gear as soon as I get my "medical clearance" from Mrs. Guitar Ted to start putting in some gravelly rides this Winter and Spring.

GTDRI 2014 course will be conquered in 2015!
Announcing Part 2......

And while I am at it, let's get this out- The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational will happen Saturday, July 25th out of backbone State Park. I have a score to settle there as well.

While it wouldn't have been pretty, I was well on my way to finishing that course last Summer when the aforementioned truck hit me at Mile 95. That obviously stopped the proceedings right then and there. I figure this needs to be put to bed the right way, so the same exact course will be run again, only this time with a much better outcome.

A Word About The Ride: I've had people come up and tell me that they would like to join this ride, but that they were not "invited". Look.........you are invited! Much like the Pirate Cycling League's "Gravel World's" is a tongue in cheek naming of a fun gravel race, so it is with the GTDRI. It is a pretentious name for a no-drop, anyone can come if they want to gravel grinder. So, don't tell me you didn't come because "I wasn't invited", because you are. Just show up at Backbone State Park ready to ride at 6:00am. Done!

And with that, I wish you all a fantastic weekend and hope you all get out and ride!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Trailblazered Fargo

They fit well, are an interesting ride, but still not sold on it......
So this idea of fitting the Trailblazer B+ tires to the Fargo Gen 2 bike got started on earlier than I had wanted to, due to the illness and all. I had time I had to fill that otherwise would have been spent riding. Yesterday I was "confined to quarters" by Mrs. Guitar Ted, but I just had to do a short loop as a test since conditions were ripe for finding out what I wanted to know.

What did I want to find out? Well, I'll list out a few things that have been on my mind concerning the concept overall and these Trailblazer tires specifically.
  • Float: 29+ has a decent quality for float- well, at least the 29+ Knards do that well. Do the Trailblazers have a similar quality?
  • Stability: Would the B+ tires have lateral stability, or would they slide sideways and be hard to control?
  • Would this set up be suitable for a long, gravel/backroad event? 
  • Is the bottom bracket too low with this wheel system?


Red arrows point to the track of the B+ Trailblazers in the mud.
The advantages of going out now for testing were that there are plenty of saturated muddy places and some slushy snowy tracts to test out how the B+ Trailblazers act on these difficult surfaces. I have noted that 29+ has a tendency to float up on top and also that those wheels would tend to slide sideways a bit, making for a bit more difficult handling.

The Trailblazer has a rather flattish crown to the tread area whereas the Knard is very rounded, almost a "peaked C shaped" crown to the tread. The difference in how they track through mud is noticeable. The Trailblazer sort of "sucks" the center part of whatever soft surface it is covering and tries to pull it up as the tire rotates off the soil or snow. Note the area I have highlighted with the red arrows to the left. If you click on the image, you can get a larger image to see this more clearly.

While the Trailblazer "cut" into the soil maybe more than a Knard does, it also adhered to the slippery surfaces better and did not demonstrate such a tendency to want to lose lateral stability. So, at least in saturated soils or wet snow, you might see a better grip and handling, to a degree, which could make for a better experience.

Stability is better, but float is not quite as nice as 29+ Knards. The last two questions I will have to wait for answers to until I get a lot more riding time on this set up. I have a plan for what this might get used for now as well, but that announcement will be on hold for a bit until I have a few things confirmed.