Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Evil Wheels

Goin down the highway to Hell.
I've got this Surly 1X1 and it has been nothing but a frustrating machine since I've gotten it rolling. The issue is flat tires. I cannot ride this bike much over a mile without the valve stems failing, (mostly), or having the tube fail mostly in the front wheel, although I have gotten a flat in the rear finally now.

Punctures? Nope. Never have the tubes ever punctured. Not once in the seven flats I've gotten has any of them been caused by a puncture.

The cause is the evil wheels that are on it. To be even more precise, it is the Mavic rims. I've tried every trick in the book I've learned in my 16 years of being a mechanic on bicycles and all to no avail. These evil wheels must die! I have not ridden this bike once over the distance of one mile very far without getting a flat tire. The wheels are cursed, I say, cursed!

So they will be torn apart and the rims will be replaced. Perhaps even the hubs, and then the wheels can stay in one piece, but who would want such a cursed wheel set? Not I. I am done with these circles of doom. These evil wheels of doom!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Saturated Fat, Fat Tubeless And More

When brands like Ellsworth start making fat bikes, you know the market is saturated.
With Interbike firmly in the rear view mirror, we can safely assume that most all of the fat bike related news has been sprung for 2016. I've been looking at all the introductions and following is my own analysis of the recent weeks of news.

First of all, with the fat bike market flattening off last year after several years of stratospheric growth, it was quite a surprise to see more brands introduce fat bikes. Brands like Raleigh and Ellsworth, companies you might not think about at all when it comes to fat bikes, entered the fray. Out of all of these new introductions, I recognized that most were either on the high end of the pricing scale, or they were on the lower end. "Mid-level" priced bikes were also introduced, but not like we have seen in previous years. Interestingly, most current brands in the segment seem to have softened their retail prices, some by a little, others by a lot. Even components, which are fat bike specific, are coming down slightly in price.

This all points to a market, in my view, which is getting pretty saturated. This might sound a bit harsh, but with bicycle sales flat to shrinking, and retail outlets becoming fewer by the year, it seems to me that this would point to many of these brands cutting back on fat bike production in the future. Then you have to ask the question, do fat bikes ever become the "ordinary man's mountain bike"? Because if they don't, then I cannot see how they will sustain the offerings currently available into the future.

Heller Bikes Bloodhound
Then their is Heller Bikes. I mentioned them before a couple of times, but this new brand has a compelling story, as it turns out. The brand is trying to lure the internet buyer who shops "direct from China" with its lower pricing enabled by Heller Bikes use of "catalog frames and forks", also known as "Open Mold" frame and forks. These are designs that Asian manufacturers make to entice potential buyers from the biggest brands all the way down to the bargain shopping consumer with an internet connection.

This has been a growing segment of the bicycle economy for the last five to six years. The only issues people have with these lower priced options are parts compatibility issues, warranty issues, some failures, and return issues which are complicated by distance to the Asian sources and language and culture differences. Heller Bikes seeks to give the consumer a tested product with a warranty, and seamless customer service based in the USA, while still offering attractive pricing, albeit not as low as direct from China. Still, that warranty, parts compatibility, and service have to be worth something. It looks like the Heller Bikes Bloodhound fat bike frame and fork in carbon fiber will run about $1250.00. More than direct from China, but about a grand less than many carbon frames and forks run.

This could turn out to be a revolutionary tactic. A "middle man", as it were, doing the behind the scenes testing of product and streamlining of the interfacing process with consumers for direct from China products. Sort of like what On One/Planet Bike Planet X does in the UK now.

My Other Brother Darryl rims by Surly are tubeless ready!
I've given Surly the raspberries in the past for charging high prices for ordinary, non-tubeless technology in rims and tires. Well, I came across this podcast recently, and within the banter, there is an interview with Surly's Thor, a product engineer, and he lets on about much of what we can expect from Surly soon.

First off, the new OBD rims, (seen at the left here), are tubeless compatible. The design was fussed over to give riders the optimum profile for mounting the tire yet being able to seat the beads of a tubeless ready fat tire, presumably with a hand held pump! This is fantastic news, and what must be in the future for all of Surly's rims. But these tubeless ready fat bike tires they speak of? Is this coming from Surly?

According to the information in the podcast, they are already out there! At least all the 4.8 Big Fat Knards are sporting Surly's new tubeless bead design. Apparently, this will be a running change with all their fat bike tires, and I would assume the "plus" sized fare will also become tubeless ready in the future. But that's not all.....

Surly is reportedly going to offer a tubeless kit, with a new design, nylon reinforced rim strip, valve stems, and sealant. So, a complete system from Surly is in the works, and we can finally have the kind of tires, rims, and tubeless bits that I felt Surly should have had all along. This is a big, big deal, especially if it works as well as Surly's Thor seemed to describe in the podcast. Kudos to Surly! I'll gladly be paying for these parts when they are out .

That's my take on thing fat now. Again, it's just my opinion, and you need to think things through for yourself. However; I don't see or hear anything at this point to make me feel differently about these subjects. Got another opinion? Hit me up in the comments.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Harvest Begins

Well, after getting a bunch of work done on and in the house on Saturday, all the while chomping at the bit to go riding, I finally got out there on Sunday. I had heard the harvest was starting up from some other gravelluers, so I was anxious to witness that for myself.

The day couldn't have been much more picturesque. It was Sunny with big puffy clouds and the sky was that blue color that can only be seen during the Fall here. Intense and deep, I would say. Only a stiff South wind was going to be a nuisance, but I wouldn't have to deal with that till towards the end of my ride. I had a new route that I wanted to try out. A circumnavigation of Cedar Falls by gravel. Only the Eastern end of the loop would be paved. I sat with a map, jotted down some quick cues, and I was out of the door by noon.

Someday I will have to figure out if I can do this around the entire metro area, but I know that route will run way over 100 miles, so I am going to have to wait on that for another time. This one was going to be longish, but I didn't sit around and figure up the mileage before I left. I just grabbed my cues and went for it.

There were a lot of fields ripe for the picking. 
I headed out West first toward Dike, Iowa, but before getting there I cut Northward towards New Hartford. I was obliged to actually go through New Hartford, as I needed to cross the Beaver Creek. Then I had to go even further North to clear the confluences of the Cedar, Shell Rock, and the West Fork of the Cedar River. It was all new to me road and I was having a good time riding with the wind.

There were some fields that had already been harvested.
There are not many of these old, gabled steel bridges left. This one is over the West Fork of the Cedar River.
Barns For Jason
I had hand written cues for most of the first half of the loop. I had gotten through most of that list, but one of the last cues struck me as being a wrong turn. So, I had to stop and consult my "electronic device" to confirm my suspicions. I was right, the list was wrong. I should have just gone with my hunch. Anyway, I looped around the Northernmost side and started into the wind. It was really kicking about this time of the day. It was also rather warm, probably in the 80's, and the humidity was low. My jersey was white with dried salt from my perspiration. It looked rather dramatic on my black Pirate Cycling League jersey!

I was getting hungry, more so than my gels could satisfy, so a planned stop in Janesville was just what I was looking forward to. I crossed the Cedar River by way of a new pedestrian bridge and went straight up the following street to a convenience store to grab some grub.

The new ped bridge across the Cedar in Janesville. 
Refuel lean.
I went in to the convenience store to grab a resupply of water, a sandwich, and some salty chips. (Crisps for you UK folks reading here) I was only there for ten minutes and then I slowly headed out East and then South, straight into the heart of the wind.

I was really kicking up the dust by this time, and with my "food baby" on-board being digested, I tried to throttle it back to keep moving, but the wind was really working me. I ended up stopping to relieve myself by a tree near the roadside and took my sweet time doing so, to try and allow my guts to do their thing. Back on the bike, it was a struggle to go 12mph since the winds were so strong. I decided to go two miles South, then two miles East to ease the effort and break up my stints into the wind.

That worked pretty well, and I only had to stop once more to take a break. That stop was marked by an oversight by myself. I didn't scan the roadside before I plopped down. It wasn't long before I felt something amiss. Well, I looked down and I had sat myself on a few thistles! what!?

I managed to brush out the little stickers rather easily, which was quite a surprise. I was thankful for that! Next time I want to recline in the grass along the roadside, I might be a bit more observant! It might help prevent a bit of unpleasantness. The good thing about it all was that the extra bit of time it took to clear up all the thistle needles allowed my guts to catch up and I felt much better after remounting and heading off into the wind again. I still tacked the wind by zigzagging my way back home though, as I was really feeling the effort in my legs on this hot, dry, (for Iowa), and windy day.

Stand clear!
As I neared Waterloo again, I saw a cloud of gravel dust and flashing lights heading my way. By the size of the thing, I could tell I needed to dismount and get to the very edge of the road. It was a wise move, as an enormous combine went by, then a pick-up truck pulling the grain head, followed by a tracked tractor pulling a big grain wagon. The pieces were being moved into place! Soon all these golden brown fields will be reduced to stubble and the drab look of late Fall and Winter will take over the landscape.

It was good to get a look at the start of the harvest and ride one more time amongst the fields of corn and beans.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

It's Getting To Be That Time Of The Year

Me with "medium fur"
Beards. Love 'em or hate 'em, it's getting to be that time of year when I typically start to cultivate a fur piece on my chin, at the least, or all over my face, which is what I did last year. Now, I have to make another decision on what to do, or maybe even not do, with regard to a beard.

The reasons why I would even do this at all are several, but mainly, the beard is there to ward off the cold Northwest Winds as I commute to work. It works pretty well, and it doesn't take a lot to make a difference. There is also the whole "not shaving" thing, but that is kind of a myth, if you want something on your face that doesn't look like a snarled wad of cat hair. While you may not use the razor much, you will be trimming, washing, and grooming that thing on your face, and that all takes at least as much time as shaving. Maybe more. So, not shaving isn't really a reason to have a beard. For me, it's staying away from a razor because it irritates mt skin in Winter, which is a good reason to grow the growth.

Now, Mrs. Guitar Ted is definitely not in favor of a beard, and she will let me know that on a regular basis. Usually, I have to negotiate a "cut off" date to even grow one. The "cut off" date is when I promise the beard will come off. Of course, she'd rather I didn't grow it at all, and that's one reason against this.

With my Renegade Gents teammates. This is the "massive beard" look. 
During Trans Iowa recon. Minimal beard growth.
There is also the aforementioned "beard maintenance" routine, which is a pain in the rear if the beard gets really big and massive, like mine did last Winter. There is also the whole, "Hey Santa Claus! ha ha ha! snicker...How was Christmas this year?", and other such great barbs I heard when I had the big beard. Trust me, that gets old really fast. 

Finally, there is the whole "hipster" thing with regard to beards. Now I never went in for the whole "slicked down", beard oiled, pointy mustachioed look, but if you have a beard, you get lumped in with the crowd. I know.....big deal, but it is there none the less. To make matters worse, I ride fat bikes. Let's not even get into that scene and beards.

Anyway, one way or the other, I'll probably grow the fur again and be glad I did when the cold winds begin to howl. I may not go whole hog with the super big beard again, but there will probably be something, and cycling will be the better for it as far as I am concerned. Besides, I can't let my Renegade Gents Race team mates down, can I? No. I can't.

So, I better start laying off that razor soon. The days are getting shorter....

Friday, September 25, 2015

Trans Iowa v12: Course Draft

We'll be out looking at the roads again soon.....
Wednesday was my day off and I had intended to go for a long gravel ride. I hopped on-line to check a map and the next thing I knew I was knee deep in doing my Trans Iowa v12 course draft. So, I figured as long as I was hot on the trail I may as well just keep pushing on. I did get it all finished up too.

As the title suggests, this is just a course draft, so many things could change. I am pretty stoked about this course though, and I sure hope it works out. Now, I know many of you Trans Iowa fans are thinking, "Heck, he's just gonna use what we didn't see last year. This will be easy for him this go round." 

Well, you'd be dead wrong if you think I'd do that. It isn't how I roll.

Nope, this course is brand new. Sure, there are a few roads in and out of Grinnell that we've used a bunch of times. That's unavoidable. There are also a few sections I am using that we haven't been on for years. However; for the most part, this is all new territory we're headed into this year, and I cannot wait to get to it. Course recon may be a little harder this time, but it will be totally worth it.

Okay, enough gab. Here are some tidbits to chew on for now if you are gearing up for an attempt at v12:
  • Total mileage is set at 333.5 miles for now. 
  • Checkpoint #1 will be at 53 miles or so, and the cut off will be 8:30am. 
  • The distance to Checkpoint #2 will be shorter than we've been having it of late, so expect a cutoff time before the Sun sets for CP#2. 
  • There will be two 24hr/7 day a week convenience stores during the "night time" sections of the event Saturday night/Sunday morning, so resupply at night should not be an issue this year. Plus, there is another convenience store shortly after CP#2, so with the earlier cutoff time, everyone that makes it through that point will be able to get into that store well before it closes. That makes three stores to get through the night. You can thank me later........
  • There will be level B roads and while we won't have as many as we've had planned before, the ones we do have will be doozies. Well......almost all of them will be! Expect about 8-9 Level B's. Again, this can change once recon happens. 
A Note On Registration: The registration for Rookies starts October 4th. SEE DETAILS HERE!! Finishers and Veterans will send in post cards the last week of October. Stay tuned for fine details on your registration coming soon.....

Have a great weekend and go ride those bicycles!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Why You Should Have A Fat Bike

THIS is a fat bike.
The fat bike phenomenon is nothing new anymore. Almost every cycling company worth its salt has one in their line up already. The thing is, many folks don't know what they are for. There is the understandable misconception that these were made only for snow going cyclists, but that is just a tiny bit of what a fat bike can do, and pigeon holes them into a niche that is easily dismissable by many cyclists. You know, if you cannot stand cold, or if you never have snow at all, why would you want one? 

Hopefully this post will help expand your mind as to the potential uses of a fat bike. My personal example is but one of a ton of reasons why you may want to consider one of these, but I want to keep this to a personal example for the sake of authenticity. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of other uses for a fat bike. These are not just for snow! 

My example features one of the crop of newer, "trail ready" style of fat bikes, in this case, a Salsa Cycles Blackborow DS. It has a "dual single speed" drive train which features a "high range" set of cogs and a "low range" set of cogs for some real crawling action! I kept mine in the "high range" for the entire ride. In this range it can be ridden at a fairly quick pace, but is still a low enough gear that I can tractor through some muck. I'll show you some examples here......

These examples are all from my ride yesterday in the "Green Belt" which is a trail system that runs along a creek here and has many sandy areas with some wet, mucky spots after rains. I typically would never ride a bicycle through here from late Spring until Fall was well under way for many reasons, but two of those being the sand, which was nearly impossible to ride through until the sands were covered by leaves, and the mud pits which were impossible to get through with a normal mountain bike.

Sand would normally bog you down here, but not with a fat bike. 
This mud hole would stop a normal mtb in its tracks. Nothing a fat bike can't handle though!
The mud hole behind the bike here was another place only a fat bike could tractor through. 
Okay, so what? Why would anyone want to ride through that stuff? Yeah....I get that, but if this is you, I don't think you would really want to mountain bike anywhere. Mountain biking is not a "clean" sport, and anyone that engages in it knows that. We do these rides for the adventure, to get out into nature and engage with it. Getting slimed and muddy, well.....that's a good thing. 

Secondly, making it through, over, or around obstacles is a basic tenant of the mountain biking experience. So, mud holes, sand, and soft grounds are things to be ridden through without "dabbing" a foot, or walking through, or avoiding. Well, as long as it doesn't adversely affect trails and doesn't damage the environment. Which here in the Green Belt isn't an issue. The Black Hawk Creek does waaaaay more damage than any mountain biker ever could if they tried. So, if you are one of these cyclists that wants to get out into nature, are not afraid of getting a little nature on you, and like a challenge which some area of your trails might present, a fat bike might just be right up your alley.

I used to avoid this area because of the difficulties and grimy mud which made it really hard to impossible to ride back there. However; now that I have a fat bike, its not only doable, but it is really fun to ride back here. Instead of waiting until Fall was in full swing and the dry weather brought down enough leaves to make the sandy areas rideable, I can ride back there pretty much whenever I want to. That's one reason, (amongst tons of others), why you may want a fat bike.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fargo Gen 1 Update

I still get compliments on the old girl.
"Wow! That's a sweet bike!", said the guy out back of the local Goodwill store. I wasn't expecting him to say anything at all, really, but when I got this compliment on the old Fargo, I was floored. I reflected my thanks and agreed, and rolled on home.

Maybe it was the Becker Design frame bag, or perhaps it was that swoopy Garage Bag from Bike Bag Dude on my top tube, (Congrats on the baby boy, by the way!), but whatever it was, it got me noticed. There is one thing for certain, and that is there really isn't any other bike out there quite like a Salsa Cycles Fargo, and especially the first generation ones. Designed as a drop bar bike with no provisions to allow you to mount a front suspension fork, the first Fargos were a "red headed stepchild" in a world of front suspended and fully suspended 29"ers.

I hooked up with mine in November of 2008 on the very day that history was made when Barack Obama was elected our President. I think it was the only presidential election I ever missed in my adult life, but since I have such a sweet bike for being absent from the polls that day, I'll not regret it. This bike and I bonded right from the get-go, and I don't think I'll ever get rid of it as long as I can swing a leg over a bike and ride.

Anyway, things have evolved with this bike since then, and now have been honed to a fine point. One of the more recent changes has been to a used, out of production Luxy Bar. It has been the single most important change on this bike since I got it. This is the handle bar for this bike without a doubt. Too bad they don't make these anymore. It beats a Woodchipper for comfort, usable hand positions, and control by a country mile.

I may be on the lookout for some new tires and I was thinking yesterday how sweet a titanium seat post would be on this bike. Other than that and regular maintenance, this one is right by me. Here is another post I did about a month and a half ago on this generation of the Fargo. You can click that link for my overall likes and dislikes on this generation of this storied model.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Salsa Cycles Warbird Tiagra: Quick Impressions

I test rode this 56cm Salsa Cycles Warbird
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned..... 

Today I'm going to offer some of my opinions on the Salsa Cycles Warbird Tiagra model. Long time readers will remember my take on the original Warbirds, seen HERE, and I will refer back to those thoughts for these impressions on the new Warbird.

Secondly, I am going to copy and paste a paragraph here which I wrote in those initial impressions back in 2012, which is as relevant today as it was back then:

"This is not a review: I don't believe that ride tests, demos, or whatever you want to call them are in any way, shape, or form a "review" of a bicycle or component. This is merely more of an impression of mine regarding this Warbird rig. Want a review? See the guy that has ridden the bike in the heat of a race, or done significant time with a component for a long time, (my thinking is more than a couple months), and get his take. Obviously, there are very few that can say this about a Warbird now, and they are all Salsa Cycles sponsored riders and employees. (Not that they wouldn't know, but.....) I don't typically ever do a review here. I will give my opinion though. You may find something different, but be that as it may...."

Okay? So on with the impressions....

The rig I rode yesterday is a stock, 56cm Warbird Tiagra model with test ride pedals installed. It is for sale on the floor of the shop I work at, Europa Cycle & Ski. I did this test ride for a potential customer, who wanted my opinion on it. I figured I may as well share my opinion on it here as well. This is purely my opinion and that's all. Read into this what you will........

Salsa Cycles did a complete, ground up redesign of the Warbird and the crowning jewel of that design, if you will, is their "Class 5 VRS" feature. This "Class 5" part refers to the typical gravel size on Mid-West gravel roads and the "VRS" part stands for "Vibration Reduction System". Salsa's engineers used accelorometers to discern how much vibration was being damped along the way during the design phase and what they came up with was actually more compliant than the titanium frame they used to have. The new, aluminum frame tested out 6% better in terms of damped vibrations than the old titanium frame, and while no figures were given for how much better it is than the old aluminum Warbird, I can tell you it is much, much more smooth. That old aluminum frame was not a nice riding frame. Very stiff!

So, I took the new Warbird out for an hour on various surfaces ranging from smooth tarmac to heaved pavement, busted up pavement, sandy tracks, gravel, and dirt. I only missed getting into more "typical" gravel which abounds around here only because this is a new bike, and I didn't want to risk chipping the frame up. I climbed steep hills, bombed down a couple, and ground out some fast paced miles as well, just to get an overall feel for the rig.

The tires were aired to 40psi rear and 38psi front. The stock tires are 35mm Schwalbe Sammy Slicks and this was my first introduction to them. They were tubed, of course. Off I went, and my immediate thought was that the Class 5 VRS system has something to it for sure. This bike is so much smoother than the original aluminum Warbird frame it isn't even comparable. Okay, great so far. Now off to zip around on some gravel and busted up pavement. Hmm.... A concern came up when diving around some quick corners. I felt something give in the rear. Was it the tires on the narrow-ish WTB SX-17 rims? Maybe it was the 28 hole spoke lacing? Perhaps it was due to the Class 5 VRS stays? Hard to say in a quick, hour long ride, but I felt this a couple of other times, so something needed looking into there. 

 Okay, who makes swervy moves in gravel races or rides, right? I went onward, and as things got bumpier, it was apparent that the Class 5 VRS deal is the real deal. My only observation was that if you hit a sharp edged bump, it would rebound you out of the saddle. Pretty dramatically at times. I also felt that while the back end was working, the rest of the bike was more, well.......not as smooth. I don't want to say it was harsh, but the front end wasn't in concert with the rear end. That said, this is the best riding aluminum bike I've tried. 

It climbs well, and the Tiagra shifters and derailleurs were snapping off shifts just fine. Gearing was great. But I couldn't get away from the feeling that something was off......draggy, if you will. I'm blaming these unfamiliar Schwalbe tires for that. I rechecked the bike afterward and all was well mechanically, so I feel it was those Sammy Slicks. Perhaps a bit different pressure would have made them come alive, but alas! I had no time to mess with that. 

The fit was "okay" for what I would have considered a too small of a size up front. I would use a set back post here and maybe a hair higher handle bar position, but it wasn't bad, really, for a guy that normally rides 58's. Of course, those Cowbell handle bars were perfect, and the WTB Silverado saddle wasn't too bad. I could tweak this out, if it were mine, and make it mine, but given the choice, I'd likely opt for the 58cm for my 6'1" frame. I always seem to be a "tweener" in Salsa's sizing! 

I compared and contrasted with my steel Raleigh Tamland.

After my quick hour long ride, I went back over the same ground with my Raleigh Tamland Two. I wanted to see how the smoother Warbird was in contrast to a fine steel tube set, like the Reynolds 631 that the Tamland is built with. 

What I found out was that the feel of both bikes is very similar, but certain nuances stood out quite plainly. The aluminum had a "higher frequency buzz" that I could feel easily through the handle bars and the saddle. The steel, while also vibrating, was a "rounder, lower frequency" feel. It was "quieter" versus the Warbirds "nervous" jittering which maybe makes the Warbird "feel faster", but that's all that is. Feelings that I have that others may not. Read into that what you will. 

The biggest difference was how the Tamland handled bigger depressions and sharper hits. It was definitely rounding those off, and not "bucking back" at me like the Warbird did. Yes- the Tamland is set up with bigger tires, but I tried to compensate somewhat by using 50psi front and rear. I think in terms of "smoothness", the Tamland was edging out the Warbird aluminum frame, but the differences are much, much closer than they were with the older Warbird design. 

Final Thoughts: Again, the Warbird Tiagra ride was a short one, but a telling one. I would have enjoyed being able to tweak this bike out, put wider rims on it, bigger tires, and have a correct fit, not one that is "close". I think the Schwalbe Sammy Slicks needed attention, and maybe the wheels are a bit flexy on this spec level, but otherwise this bike is a solid choice for gravel racing. Versatility isn't in its wheelhouse. Meaning that if you want racks, fenders, the ability to commute with bags, or do light touring, this isn't the bicycle for that. However; that isn't the main focus of the Warbird's misson, and Salsa Cycles has set this bike up with a singular focus: Go fast on any surface for a long way, if you want. In that light, they have succeeded. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

There And Back Again

The day's first rest stop
Saturday there was a cyclo-cross race in town. Well, not in my town, really. It was in the next town up the river, Cedar Falls, Iowa. Waterloo and Cedar Falls run right into each other these days, much like a mini version of the Twin Cities. Only......smaller, and not as cool, and....well....

The point is that it was about seven miles or so to the race. I convinced my son, who hasn't been on the bike in a loooong time, to make the trip over. So, I made preparations with the thought in mind that this should be looked at as a major, long, long ride, for my son's sake. I packed food and plenty of water, and decided right up front that we'd likely have to take the easiest route and stop a few times.

His bike is a Salsa Cycles Mukluk, so I rode my Blackborow DS to make it something of an even playing field. It worked, especially since the Blackborow has such great slow speed handling. It was no problem to ride slow, or even slower, to help my son feel like he was "keeping up". We made it a couple of miles or more before he was wanting a break, so I aimed for Castle Hill Park and we stopped under a shady area and watched some striped gophers busily packing away food for the Winter coming up.

We then got back underway, and my son was doing much better than I expected, so we only had to stop once more, and that only briefly before we got to the venue and sat down to eat my previously prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Taking the "back way"
My son and I whipped out our cameras and captured some of the action.
My co-worker, Leif Lujan, second wheel here, pipped the guy on the pink bike at the line for the win in his class.
The race venue was strewn out over a long, vast stretch of grassy park land that was at one time a golf course. Tiny pockets of people were spread around all over, so the crowd vibe was pretty low key. Racer turn out was decent though, and there was some good action here and there if you were at the right spot on the extended loop course. I positioned myself at the Europa truck which was on hand and being manned by another co-worker, Joel. I saw a few folks I hadn't seen in a long time. That was fun to catch up with people. I also saw a few new acquaintances, and my son was having fun with his camera.

I also was on hand to witness one of my co-workers take the win in his class, which was a good time. He was pretty cagey, for a young guy, and stuck on the leader's wheel to come around him at the line and pip him for the win.

Resting. It was a bit of a trial for my son to make it home!
Well, with that we took our leave and headed over to get some more grub and a bite to eat in a nearby convenience store. Then it was a long, slow ride home. My son, after having been out running around all afternoon, was on the grumpy side, but I managed to help coax him home.

Afterward, I was surprised to find out we had been gone six hours and then I kind of figured out why it was that it was a struggle for the boy. Besides the riding, he's in his growth spurt now and doing football at school. So, I suppose a couple peanut butter sandwiches may have been a bit too light a lunch! I know that for me, it was plenty of food. In fact, I had only one sandwich. Maybe I should have beefed up his allotment a hair.

The cross race was well attended by racers, but it was kind of a disappointment from a spectator's viewpoint. Joel mentioned maybe the course was too spread out, but I think it is just that cross racing is such an unknown up here and the race was just one of about a zillion things going on that weekend. Plus, it was a glorious, sunlit Fall day, and that means folks are probably busy doing Fall activities, like getting ready for Winter! Oh well, they missed a cool spectacle. Maybe this will happen again next year and the word will get out. I know my son and I had a great time.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Trans Iowa v12: Rookie Registration Announcement!!

"Typical" postcards. A small sized water bottle for reference.
PAY ATTENTION!! Get any of the following wrong and your entry will be void!!

Okay folks! Here is how you get into Trans Iowa if you are a "Rookie", which means you have never toed the line at a Trans Iowa event ever!  Those who have been in a Trans Iowa, you can relax for now. I'm running your registration after this deal for Rookies only!!

Starting October 4th, Rookies can send in a single post card per person. This window will be open until October 24th.

#1: So, first things first. There are post card regulations. A "post card" is the typically available post card, or handmade card on cardstock only, with the dimensions of 170mm Long  X 120mm High or less.

No 3X5 cards, no cardboard, no metal, wood, or plastic. No three dimensional cards, no "bent" cards, and no folded cards. This is to give every entrant a fair advantage in the drawing. Get this wrong and I will discard your entry and you won't be in the drawing. (NOTE: Cards damaged in the mail will still be in the pool for the drawing, but this is highly unlikely.)

#2: You MUST WRITE LEGIBLY!! Any cards I cannot make out will be discarded and you won't be in the drawing.

#3: You must have the following items clearly written on your card-
  • Your name
  • Your class you wish to enter the event in- Open Men, Open Women, or Single Speed/Fixed
  • Your CURRENT E-MAIL. I must be able to contact you via e-mail. I will confirm each card received, and if your e-mail pings back, I will discard your entry and you will not be in the drawing. 
  • An emergency contact: This can be your support person, or a person we can reach in case of an emergency.   
  • You must transcribe Rule #1 of the Trans Iowa rules in its entirety, legibly, and verbatim. You can find this HERE.
#4: You must send the regulation sized post card with all information clearly and legibly written on that post card to the following address between October 4th and October 24th. If any cards come before or after this time period, your entry will be void. Here is the address:

Europa Cycle & Ski
c/o Trans Iowa
4302 University Avenue
Cedar Falls Iowa, 50613

#5: ALL CARDS MUST USE THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE FOR SENDING YOUR CARDS. No over nighted entries, no walk ins, no UPS, FedEx, or other couriers may be employed to send a card unless it is an International entry and prearranged through Guitar Ted for delivery in another manner. This rule is being enforced to create the most fair playing field for sending in a card. If I do not receive your entry via the regular mailman we see at Europa, it will not be in the drawing for one of forty spots for the Rookies. By the way, I've never not received a card through the USPS. Of all delivery types, they have been the most consistent and reliable. That's one of the reasons for this stipulation.

#6: What You Can Expect From Trans Iowa: Once an entry has been received between October 4th through October 24th, the entry will be examined by Guitar Ted. If it passes all requirements, you will be sent an e-mail confirmation and your name will go on a temporary roster list for rookies on the Trans Iowa site. If you sent a card in, and do not get a confirmation e-mail, or you do not see your name on the temporary roster, you can and should assume that your card failed the process outlined here for some reason. If this appears to be the case for you, and there is still time, you can try sending another card, but please- do not try to find out from me directly. I will not entertain queries concerning what you did or didn't do right, or if I received your card or not. Either you get this right, or you don't. Please be very careful to get it right!

This roster of cards will represent the pool which 40 cards will be drawn from on Saturday, October 31st, 2015. (Details on the exact time of day and if the process will be available to view on-line will be forthcoming.)  I estimate that approximately 80 cards will come in, but that is purely a guess based on the past and this has not been done before in this manner. Once the 40 cards are drawn out, the on-line roster will reset to reflect those who gained entry. If you get in and your son/buddy/daughter/wife/sister/brother does not, too bad. I am not transferring in anymore past 40 rookies total. All decisions by Guitar Ted are final. Should you decide, based on another person not getting in that you will not take a spot if your card was drawn, that's fine with me. I will not be transferring in another rider to take your place for any reason, so please consider your entry carefully before sending in a card. Don't waste a spot based on whether or not someone else gets in.

Okay, that's pretty much the deal for you Rookies. Remember- this process doesn't start until October 4th! I am trying to get the word out early enough that no one misses the announcement.

Questions? Better ask now in the comments.

Veterans and Finishers will get the details on how they will enter coming soon and that process will occur later in October. Stay tuned.......

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Trans Iowa v12: As Technology Marches On

Technology that allows you to do things like never before is coming.
Trans Iowa started out over ten years ago in an era where technology for cycling applications was still, for the most part, just basic computer functions as we have known them for cycling for the past 40 years. Speed, average speed, maximum speed, and a few other staples of cycling information were all most of us had access to. Fast forward to 2015, and that feature set has exploded. What are the implications for an event like Trans Iowa?

Right now, it is a murky view, but the technology is changing as fast as the weather in Iowa. The GPS data that will be available soon from a company called Wahoo Fitness is, I think, just the forebearer of things to come. Check out the upcoming ELEMNT GPS unit they have coming out that can track other ELEMNT users and will download their track right to your unit. Think about the implications of that sort of technology for a minute!

Will riders be able to "follow the leader" by communicating via GPS units? Their tracks being downloaded instantly and that enabling the followers to use the turn by turn alerts to ease navigation? Will smart phones be able to communicate with these GPS units, allowing even those without the base GPS units to join in the navigating fun? This may be an impossibility now, but it doesn't seem very far fetched as it would have been ten years ago.

Back in the earlier years of Trans Iowa, we banned GPS units, and then later on, we allowed them as long as they were kept in a ruck sack or frame bag as a way of recording data only. Then recently we acquiesced and allowed the GPS units to be used as a computer straight up. The thinking being that the route couldn't be uploaded to the units easily, or at all, which still made the rider rely on their own navigational skills and the cue sheets.

Doing things the old fashioned way
Ah! Those cue sheets! Some see them as a dreaded, stupid, old fashioned way to navigate a course. Some wish for a Trans Iowa GPS course download, such as is being provided for by other events like the Dirty Kanza 200, or Gravel Worlds. It may even anger some folks that Trans Iowa will never do this for them.

I'm okay with that, by the way.

See, the thing is, as much as Trans Iowa is a physical challenge, it also is a mental one. Making decisions for the entirety of a 25-34 hour long ride is part of this challenge. Navigation skills are highly esteemed by myself, and are expected to be part of the challenge.

Without that part of Trans Iowa, it isn't a "real Trans Iowa" experience, in my opinion. So, when I see things like the ELEMNT GPS device, it raises my eyebrows in concern, because I know many of you want to make Trans Iowa as easy as possible. That's a natural, human thing to desire for any task or challenge we face as a species. That's what drives inventions and propels us forward. However; in the process, sometimes we lose essential skills for survival that are now being tasked to electronic devices or machines, which I find sad. Just think about your life in terms of what it would be like without electricity, as an example, for a day. I think it would become radically apparent what skills we have let atrophy or what skills we have lost altogether.

Well, I don't have an answer today for what the devices of the future may have as an impact upon navigation for Trans Iowa. However; I am watching this closely, and you can bet that if it could be used as an aid to ease the navigational aspect of Trans Iowa, I won't be for it. Maybe I am being a bit "old fashioned" in my stance, but if it comes right down to brass tacks, I would rather not put forth a challenge like Trans Iowa that can be watered down by modern day electronic gadgetry. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday News And Views

Meet Advocate Cycles' Lorax
Advocate Cycles' Lorax:

Debuting at Interbike was this green machine from Advocate Cycles dubbed the Lorax. No, it isn't an animated bicycle for a mustachioed character. However, if you have a mustache, hey! That's cool. Anyway, I see that Dr. Suess said of his book, "The Lorax", that it "...came out of my being angry. In The Lorax I was out to attack what I think are evil things and let the chips fall where they might."

Okay, so get this bike and attack the things you think are evil. Or something...... Anyway, this rig is made from Reynolds 531 and will have a full carbon fork with a retail of $999.00. Full build Lorax bikes will also be available. Look for these bikes to be out fighting evil in the Spring.

Commentary: It looks to have a swinging rear drop out, which I find is a very cool gravel bike feature, as many who popped off their rear derailleurs at several mud infested gravel events this year might say as well. Single speed from the get-go would be cool, and this feature allows for that, of course, along with the bail-out feature for geared set ups.

Oh! And this green is sweet. Reminds me of my 20" high-rise handle bar "Sting Ray" style bike I had as a youth which was very nearly this color.

Heller Bikes Bloodhound
Now We Know, And Knowing Is Half The Battle....

Remember when I wrote about this Heller Bikes dealio the other day? Well, I said I needed more info, and maybe then it would make sense. I cannot say this article totally cleared things up for me, but I can say that it made things make a lot more sense.

So, take a look and see for yourself by clicking the article link there. My take-away: "Hey! We get that carbon fiber from China is a cheaper deal, and if you don't care about "Open Mold" design, but you maybe would like the peace of mind of having that design pass tests and have a warranty, here ya go." If I have that wrong, please have the Heller bike dude pick up the white courtesy phone and give me a call. (<===HA!)

Anywho...... It looks as though QBP is saying they want to fill that niche and give the local bike shops a playing field to get in on the action. Fair enough. It'll be interesting to see if things like rims/complete wheel sets, (a big time market in terms of direct from China buying by consumers), for fat bikes and triathlon wheels becomes available through the Heller Bikes channel.

Update on "The Sock":

I also wrote about this Wednesday, you know, "The Sock Debacle" at Interbike. Interbike said that "...this isn't how @Interbike rolls" in its apology on Twitter, then on Thursday, it's media partner, Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent out its "Show Daily", a rag that all attendees can get and is also sent out digitally to bike shops that receive "Bicycle Retailer & Industry News". Apparently "no we don't roll that way" really means "yes, we do!, and it's okay because we're in Las Vegas" in their parlance.

The Show Daily had a little blurb on the socks,  made a tongue in cheek commentary, finishing off the first paragraph with the following: "..some industry marketers feel a little "naughty" is a lot nice. And a little "naughty" sells. Just look around Vegas."

Then the story points a finger at the itchy trigger finger of social media, saying to the effect that no one "fact checked" anything before they started throwing stones. Then the author tried to spin it all off as being a factor of having "a gaggle of temps " tossing the socks and "a bunch of other oddball junk" into the goodie sacks without the oversight of a "Tacky monitor".

Uhh.....'scuse me, but as the bags represented the show's "goodwill" towards their attendees, and as such was representative of what the show is supposed to be about. Which, by the way, Interbike has stated profusely should be inclusive of women, and maybe should be respectful of all folk's sensitivities. So, maybe they should......ya know, be aware of what they are having themselves be represented by?  This isn't the first rodeo for this stunt either.  Interbike has had socks with this sort of message on them several times before. It isn't as if this was a first time, "whoops!" thing. I cannot believe for a minute they didn't realize this was going on....again....

Either way, an oversight is an oversight, and you cannot just brush that off as not being something you are responsible for if you have third party folks doing work for you, or if you have companies providing goods, (no matter how oddball and "junky" it may be), as gifts to your attendees. That's on the show organizers all the way.

And excusing that as being part of the Vegas culture is lame, lame, lame! 

But the author was just getting cranked up on the Vegas part:  "The Twitteratti have spoken. The blog-o-sphere has rendered its verdict. A social faux pas has been committed. The guilty must be castigated or castrated, depending upon your level of social angst. But in the grand scheme of things, we're in Las Vegas- at least along the soul-draining swamp that is the Strip. So tweeters and bloggers, feast on that thought for a while."

So, seeing as how this is a blog, and what not, I get the picture that I am, as this blog's writer, not competent or intelligent enough to figure out that this "Sock Deal" is no big deal. Am I right? Did I get that right? Maybe my "angst level" is too high? Or, maybe, just maybe, this is representative of some things that have been shoved under the rug for too long. Oh, and on that note, here is another, non-blogger outlook on this, check out this Dirt Rag on-line article here.

Well, you have the quotes and the details. I bet you folks out there are smart enough to figure this out for yourselves.  

Have a great weekend and get out there and ride those bicycles.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Single Track Hunting

Poking around George Wyth Lake on the Blackborow
Wednesday was a day of duties, but I took a break from that in the midst of the day to track down a new trail I had been hearing about. Actually, I had looked for it once before it had been flagged and Andy, (who was not late for that ride last week after all, but was actually ahead of schedule. My apologies!), and I missed the turn in and out, which are like 10 feet apart from each other as it turns out. Anyway, this time I found that rascal, rode it, and have kept up to date on my having ridden every trail that's been established in Geo Wyth since mountain biking has been allowed there.

I tooled over there on my dingle speed Blackborow, since I had heard this new trail was pretty rough. I figured the big, 4.8" tires at a bit lower pressure would do fine in erasing new trail chatter. I'm still amazed at how well those Lou tires actually roll. I am sure they have a higher rolling resistance, but it isn't what you might think. It certainly isn't what I thought or think it should be. Which is a good thing, by the way.

The dirt is really dry, cracked, and hard in most places, adding to the bumpiness. I was again glad that I had the Rock Shox Bluto on the front. I am now thinking I need a carbon fiber handle bar, so I am starting to take a look at some options there, but the fork is a definite keeper.

Super dry, cracked, and hard earth was the order of the day. 
I came across this group of turkeys, but they were unimpressed by my appearance. 
So, I was slow rolling, looking for flags, since I had heard this trail had been flagged, and I came across it finally. Oddly enough I remember this same area years ago having a trail in it. I feel like parts of this newer trail are actually very nearly on the old one, but it is impossible to say for sure. The point is, this new trail covers a lot of old ground, and if you you were around back in the day you might recognize bits of the area back there.

Taking a quick break on the new single track.
Back in the 90's, when there was a bunch of trail making going on in Geo Wyth, a guy that used to work at the shop before I did, Vance, and a few friends, built a trail in the same area as this new one. Back then, George Wyth's land terminated along a line that cut very near to the paved bicycle path that runs Eastward out of the park, and this old trail wandered "over the line" in many places. Of course, there were no fences or any way to know this. There were just woods, and they looked unkempt and unused to us. Of course, it was unused, but it was also private land.

Once the family that owned the parcel figured out what was going on, they strung up a fence that marked their border with George Wyth and set up "No Trespassing" signs. That pretty much killed that trail! The State was in negotiations to buy the parcel, but it took so long to complete the sale that the trail fell into the hands of Nature, never to be ridden again.

So, it was pretty cool to be back in there again poking around the old stomping grounds. There were a few places that looked vaguely familiar, and some stretches I am sure were part of that older trail. Again, this is from memory that is over 14 years ago or more, but it seems pretty similar in a few spots.

I also did a bit of my own explorations East of the highway on some deer trail/fisherman's trail that I found. That got shortened, because I could see it was quickly going to lead into a bushwhacking session, and I didn't have time for that! I had chores to do back at home. Maybe another time......

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Interbike '15: WTF

Is that a new Beargr....wait....what?!! (Image from the Heller site)
Interbike proper starts this morning in Las Vegas, Nevada, but surprises have already been sprung. The weird and the woeful have been witnessed already, and this might go down as one of the oddest I-bikes in many a year.

First, a bit of back story: Interbike has a "swag bag" for attendees. It is a plastic bag with various promtional materials, a schedule for the shuttle busses to Bootleg Canyon, information on the show, a water bottle, maybe, and some nutritional products, or some small trinket. It changed year to year, but one thing that was a fairly consistent item was a sock that had a tag attached to it. You could get the matching sock to it if you stopped by the vendor's booth when the indoor show opened, and showed the tag. Of course, this was going to guarantee  you a sales pitch, but for a free pair of socks!  After a year or two of that, I never bothered anymore. How many socks with weird Vegas motifs does one need?

Part two of this story is that Interbike, and the "Industry" as a whole, has been courting women cyclists and telling everyone that would listen how shops and companies needed to up their game in terms of reaching women buyers. So then this happens........

 This year's sock caused quite a ruckus.  It showed two bikini clad women laying side by side in an embrace. (See the sock, and a fantastic response to this incident here.) The image got tweeted, and social media went into hyper-mode, decrying the sexually charged promo-sock as being the antithesis of what the Industry was saying it stood for. Which, of course, is absolutely true. Interbike scrambled to de-sock the goody bags, but not before the end of the first day. For their part, Interbike had the following to say via Twitter:

"Interbike ‏@Interbike 10h10 hours ago

We are very sorry about the socks in the ODD bags. Socks were rec'd by third party & we didn't review. This is not how @Interbike rolls."
So, there ya have it. Big whoops, bad form, and an apology. Will this make it "all better"? No, and it shouldn't. This isn't a one timer. It's a pariah on this industry, and it also stinks of Las Vegas, where the show has been for far too long. I could go on and on, but I'll let this excellent post from Surly, (which I also linked above), stand as a response I can get behind 100%. Read it.  I'll maybe return to this theme again in a future post.

UPDATE: I got a peek at the Interbike "Show Daily" for the trade that is handed out at the show. It had an entire paragraph dedicated to the offending socks, glorifying them as being "naughty" marketing with a tongue in cheek tone. Nice. Tell me again how Interbike didn't know what was going on here. 

Typical Interbike extra-curricular activity announcement.
Then the other thing that happened, and will be fleshed out in a presser today, I am told, is that Quality Bicycle products has announced a new brand.

I know, I know...... big whoop. Quality does this all the time. They must have a  "Executive Brand Creator" position up there and a department full of fresh-outta-college business degree grads working overtime to come up with all the reasons to create a new bicycle brand or bicycle accessory brand. It's crazy, but a lot of the time, it makes sense, (Surly, Salsa, Problem Solvers), and sometimes it is weird, (Mechanical Threads, Cogburn, Civia), but usually I can find a reason that makes me think something they come up with is a worthwhile attempt to make it a brand.

Now we have a new bicycle brand, and to be quite honest, I don't get it......yet. Obviously, I don't have the whole story, as this is still breaking news, but Heller Bikes just debuted with a ........carbon fat bike? How this is something that compliments what Salsa Cycles already seems to have covered is beyond me at this point. Besides the fact that fat bikes are a saturated market, which makes yet another, trail geometry carbon hard tail kind of a ho-hum affair. This seems to be an odd debut bike to push out the brand with. Again, with more back story, this may all start to become a clearer picture than it is now.

All I can say now about Heller Bikes is that I once knew a girl back in high school whose last name was Heller and she filled my belly button with beer once. I know.......weird, huh?

Hey, that's no weirder than what is going down in Vegas with the cycling industry these days!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It's The Wheel

Wheels- They make the bike go around. These are from Red Bear Products
You know, I was thinking again about wheels. They are a funny thing, especially when it comes to bicycles. Without them, bicycles are impossible. Wheels are obviously super important, but they even helped define things besides the bicycle. In fact, the front wheels on the old "ordinary" rigs were so big, overshadowing the tiny rear stabilizer wheels, early riders were dubbed "Wheelmen".

Yes- it's all about the wheel. 

Wheels even tick people off for no other reason than they are different from each other. Maybe some people feel threatened that their wheel size will disappear, while others may think you do not need a different wheel size. People get all uppity or.........whatever. 

In my opinion, they are all good as bicycles. I've always been of that mind, but I also like choices and when you have a choice, why not use the best one? Well, maybe when it doesn't fit your aesthetic, or your marketing, I guess. We've all seen that for sure.

So wheels get peoples panties all twisted up, but what's really important is that wheels- more than anything else on your bike- affect performance negatively or positively. I speak in terms of the complete wheel, by the way. Tire, tube, (if you roll that way), spokes, rims, and hubs. You can have the best bits on your frame, the greatest frame material ever, and if you have crappy wheels, it really ruins it all. Wheels are where it's at. That's why I cannot fathom why some companies put bad wheels on bikes for entry level customers.

Guitar Ted on a KOS cruiser with 26" wheels. "It was fun", he said.
You know, those bad wheels have spokes that fail, and that really harshes folks shred. Why do that to them? I'll tell ya why, because companies are cheaping out on entry level bikes where folks "won't notice" it when they shop, so they can have a lower price than the competition. Once they are hooked, then it's the bike shops that look bad because the wheels don't hold up.

They really shouldn't do things that way, because people want their wheels to be reliable, strong, and long lasting. Not cheap. It's embarrassing, really. Shops shouldn't have to deal with that at all, but the industry keeps shoving these potential failures at unsuspecting new cyclists and they seem to think there is no other way. Nice. Way to build excitement for future cycling.

There is that, and another pet peeve of mine, and that is wheels that aren't meant for overweight folks, or bigger folks. Wheels are "tune-able". You can build them to suit the needs of individual riders, or groups of riders. Yet the industry makes wheels for entry level bicycles with the same components in size extra small, small, medium, large, and XL. Really? So, a person that weighs a buck-forty rides the same wheel as someone that weighs twice as much? Which wheel will fail? You guessed it, the ones on the XL bikes. Not to mention many of the size Large bikes as well.

Then you have wheels that can be built for a purpose, you know, like touring, or commuting. Yet many of these bikes have worthless weight carrying wheel sets. Why even bother putting rack mounts on a bike if you spec it with a sub-par wheel, or a wheel meant for a racing bike? It's just so stupid, yet it happens in this industry all the time. You'd think these people would have a clue about wheels.

Maybe someday things will come around and the bike industry will place more importance on good quality wheels at all levels of the pricing spectrum. Maybe they will start pushing the marketing towards educating folks on what makes a strong, reliable, functional wheel set, instead of trying to make the cheapest wheel set to get the pricing lower than "Brand X".

Maybe I'm a dreamer.......

Monday, September 14, 2015

Guitar Ted "Lube-Off": Update

DuMonde Tech post Gravel Worlds
Okay, as promised a while back, I have a bit of an update on the Lube-Off here to give ya'all. First, a bit of an update on my DuMonde Tech experiences.

I have utilized this lube on my "primary racing bikes"- the "Fat Fargo" and my Raleigh Tamland Two, all Summer and now into early Fall. The Tamland Two got the call at Gravel Worlds, and I've done a few gravel rides and commutes since then with no lube maintenance at all since I put the new drive train on it back last June.

Gravel Worlds, while not as deep in silty dust as Odin's Revenge was, had a fair amount of sandier dust present. In fact, I had more dirt stuck on my shins from that ride than I have ever had anywhere before. So, it was a pretty severe test. Once again, as you can see, the chain doesn't look too bad. I still cannot hear any noises coming from it, so I am going onward with this until I do hear noises. By the way, I think it is worth pointing out that I used the "heavy" lube formula and not the "light", as would be recommended for gravel/dust/sand conditions. Also worth noting is the cassette, which I wiped in DuMonde Tech before mounting it, as a test. You'll notice how clean it is compared to the next test shot I post here. Finally, I will eventually measure chain wear, but so far, this has shifted and worked flawlessly since I installed the parts and lubricated them. Wear issues haven't been noticed, but I will measure things up soon.

Rock & Roll Gold after about 150 miles
Next up is the Rock & Roll Gold which has slightly less miles than my Tamland Two with DuMonde Tech.

The shifting and noise levels here are on par with the DuMonde Tech, but there is a noticeable higher amount of dust accumulation on everything on this drive train.

The Rock & Roll was applied once and not done since then, so there isn't any "layering" of dirt levels here. This is just from one application. It isn't "bad", but it isn't quite as nice as DuMonde Tech. Again, shifting performance is great. Noise is okay, nothing noticeable here in that regard. So, it is still a neck and neck contest with DuMonde Tech, with the edge to DuMonde for staying cleaner.

I'll keep running this initial application of Rock & Roll Gold until I start hearing the chain make noise, then I'll update. Right now I'd have to say that it isn't a bad choice for gravel riding. The tale of the chain checker later on may make that a different story though, so hold on to your hats on this one.....

Next up, a single speed drive train!

A little Pro Gold action. About 50 miles on this one so far.
Pro Gold lube is a wet lube, really, and it has a special way of cleaning the chain when you apply it. However; I am treating this in the same manner as I am the other lubes to keep the competition fair. So, one application, and go!

As you can see, the dust coating is thicker and consistent all over the chain. I suspected this would happen, since it is a wet lube after all. That said, I am going to run this more to see if it accumulates more dust, or if it stays the same, or if it kind of self-cleans.

Of course, it isn't a fair comparison, really, since it is a single speed drive train and all, but I thought it would be interesting to see how it turns out. Typically I would "clean" this off with a reapplication of Pro Gold lube, but as I said, that's not what I intend for this test. Obviously, I would go through more lube using this stuff as it was meant to be used, but I may be surprised by what happens if I just keep running it this way. Stay tuned.......

Okay, that's it so far, but I will be back later on into Fall with some final "dry lube" comments before things get into Winter and what I expect will be wetter conditions. Then we'll switch over to wet lube testing mode and continue onward.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Not Going

The "all-road" wall pf bikes at the shop.
I remembered that this was the day that I would traditionally go to Interbike for most of the following week. This will be the second year in a row that I have not attended. You know what? It is even more liberating than it was last year. I am really not regretting not going at all, except for that I will miss a few people I really care about.

Interbike was, for me, a huge drain on my energy. Not just the trip, but weeks before it even happened as well. Things had to be planned, money spent, schedules arranged, and all to go to a place I'd rather not see again. Sure, there were bikes, and the aforementioned people, but those things never made up for the mental and spiritual drain that planning and going to Interbike were for me.

Waiting to meet Brian for our ride Saturday. Ran into a "festival"!
See, I don't hardly even think about it now, and I am not dreading the going, stressing about money, or thinking about missing my wife and kids. I am more focused on work, actually, and we've been doing some stuff at the shop to help us redirect our efforts into what we believe is a better way to sell bikes to our clientele. These things wouldn't even be on my radar if I were going to "the show". Then there are the activities I've been doing outside of work that need doing, or that I would be missing otherwise.

One of those things is getting the house ready for Winter, which is getting done, and will be over the next days. Days I wouldn't be here otherwise. I also was able to take a nice, leisurely ride with a former co-worker Saturday which would not have happened at all had I been getting prepared for Interbike. We got out on some gravel for a nice ride and had a fantastic chat along the way which continued right into more chatting over a couple of IPA's on late into the afternoon. It was a great time with a friend that I don't get to see very often, so I was happy to have had the chance to spend that afternoon with him.

Now, I will miss some things about Interbike besides the people, but most of that is just icing on a not very tasty cake. Will I not ever go again? I wouldn't be so hasty as to think that. As long as I am into cycling, and am somehow able to make a trip to the show make sense in an important way, I would strongly consider going. That isn't the case now though.

And I am just fine with that right now.