Saturday, October 31, 2015

Trans Iowa v12: Registration Is Over

The light at the end of the registration tunnel
Registration for Trans Iowa v12 is over. Today, it will all be settled after a drawing from a pool of 73 names to determine the Rookie Class of 40 riders. That registration drawing will occur at 4:00pm today on Periscope. After that, the registration process will be done and all we have to do is wait for Spring for the next "hurdle" to be crossed when we revisit the course to verify it and our cue sheets before they get printed.

Barring any big sponsorship announcements, this will be the last post about Trans Iowa here for some time. I'm sure many of you won't mind that at all!

Comments: So with that, I have a few observations on Trans Iowa's 12th roster of riders. Obviously, the front runner in the event has to be Greg Gleason. He was the only rider to get past CP#1 last year, and of course, he won T.I.v10 handily. John Williams was running at the front of T.I.v10 when a mechanical took him out of the running on Saturday night. He has to be gunning for revenge on T.I. and I would look for him to be at the front if all goes well at T.I.v12. Another good pick to win or do well is Eric Brunt, and he has been a front runner in several T.I. events, and won T.I.v8. I would place Sarah Cooper up there as a threat to win as well. Another very strong contender for the overall, or at least the Open Womens class is Monika Sattler.

Depending upon how things shake out, we could have a Single Speed/Fixed gear rider win the overall. Troy Krause has come in second place over all two times on a single speed, and Mark Johnson did it once as well. Finally, if the Rookie drawing works in his favor, Dan Hughes, multiple Dirty Kanza 200 winner overall, has to be considered here as a threat to win the overall. But first- his name would have to be drawn out in the lottery today. We'll see........

So, anyway, that's the look at the pointy end of the event, as I see things. The rest of the crew makes up the remainder of the "Trans Iowa Family". Folks I have been seeing once a year for years in some cases. I hold them all in high regard and am sincerely humbled that they have chosen to come again to another Trans Iowa. Thank You! 


Trans Iowa v12: Registration Is Over

The light at the end of the registration tunnel
Registration for Trans Iowa v12 is over. Today, it will all be settled after a drawing from a pool of 73 names to determine the Rookie Class of 40 riders. That registration drawing will occur at 4:00pm today on Periscope. After that, the registration process will be done and all we have to do is wait for Spring for the next "hurdle" to be crossed when we revisit the course to verify it and our cue sheets before they get printed.

Barring any big sponsorship announcements, this will be the last post about Trans Iowa here for some time. I'm sure many of you won't mind that at all!

Comments: So with that, I have a few observations on Trans Iowa's 12th roster of riders. Obviously, the front runner in the event has to be Greg Gleason. He was the only rider to get past CP#1 last year, and of course, he won T.I.v10 handily. John Williams was running at the front of T.I.v10 when a mechanical took him out of the running on Saturday night. He has to be gunning for revenge on T.I. and I would look for him to be at the front if all goes well at T.I.v12. Another good pick to win or do well is Eric Brunt, and he has been a front runner in several T.I. events, and won T.I.v8. I would place Sarah Cooper up there as a threat to win as well. Another very strong contender for the overall, or at least the Open Womens class is Monika Sattler.

Depending upon how things shake out, we could have a Single Speed/Fixed gear rider win the overall. Troy Krause has come in second place over all two times on a single speed, and Mark Johnson did it once as well. Finally, if the Rookie drawing works in his favor, Dan Hughes, multiple Dirty Kanza 200 winner overall, has to be considered here as a threat to win the overall. But first- his name would have to be drawn out in the lottery today. We'll see........

So, anyway, that's the look at the pointy end of the event, as I see things. The rest of the crew makes up the remainder of the "Trans Iowa Family". Folks I have been seeing once a year for years in some cases. I hold them all in high regard and am sincerely humbled that they have chosen to come again to another Trans Iowa. Thank You! 


Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday News And Views

Rookie Lottery Drawing Time Announced:

The Rookie Lottery Drawing for the last 40 spots available in Trans Iowa will occur at 4:00pm CST live on Periscope which can be accessed through Twitter at the account @guitarted1961

73 hopefuls will be looking for their names to be moved from the pool list to their desired category in the T.I.v12 event which will take place out of Grinnell, Iowa April 23rd and end on April 24th back in Grinnell, Iowa at Arbor Lake Park after 323.3 miles of gravel. Watch it all unfold on Periscope tomorrow at 4:00pm CST or wait for the roster to be updated by 6:00pm CST to see who is in and who is not for the chance to "slay their Dragon" at Trans Iowa.


300 Miles Of Gravel Available To Stream:

The documentary on "300 Miles Of Gravel", a look at Trans Iowa v7, is now available to stream onto your devices to own for five measly American dollars. This 27 minute long look at a Trans Iowa event won a  Regional Area Emmy for Outstanding Sports Programming- One Time Special, and is often replayed on Iowa Public Television in a truncated form that includes an interview with the film's maker, Jeff Frings.

I've been told this film has been quite the motivational device for riders, and that it was a good way to start with preparations for an attempt at Trans Iowa. Not my words..... Also- a disclaimer: Guitar Ted, Guitar Ted Productions, Trans Iowa, nor RidingGravel.com gets a penny from the film. I've never benefited from this financially, so this isn't hawking my merch here. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Moar Iowa Gravel:

I've been privy to some discussion about a new gravel event coming next year, and I wouldn't say anything about this at all, but for the individual who is the creator of this idea has already let the cat out-o-the bag on Facebook.

So, this looks like it will be a 150 or 200 mile event in Central Iowa, (HILLY), in October. Think "Trans Iowa" style, self supported, cue sheet nav, etc. If it happens, and I've no doubt that it will, I am down for this gig. It will come at a perfect time for me, as I am most at home in cooler weather, and the Summer events will have been long in my rear view mirror by that time.

I know the creator of this, and its route has been reconned already by bicycle, so I am certain this will be a quality route. Stay tuned, because if I hear more about this event, I will be posting about it here. I'm pretty excited about it, and I would really like to see this take off. The Central Iowa area has been a spot I've stared at while looking at maps and while traveling past that area going West to other events.

My original run BMC "Orange Crush" rig, which is still one of my faves!
Black Mountain Cycles Announces New Monster Cross Rig:

Back when I got my Black Mountain Cycles frame and fork, there really weren't too many bicycles available that could stand up to my requirements for a gravel travel steed. I was seriously contemplating going with a custom made rig, but my poor experiences with custom made bikes wasn't helping me out and so I took a good, hard look at Black Mountain Cycles. That frame had a slightly taller head tube and a bit different geometry than a Surly CrossCheck. So, I pulled the trigger. It has been one of my all time favorite machines since then.

Now news has come that the venerable Monster Cross rig has been changed slightly to have a slightly taller head tube, more fork offset, a Pacenti fork crown, and it will come in British Racing Green or a Pink that is much like an old color Specialized used in the 80's on their Stumpjumper model. See all about it HERE.

A couple years ago, the BMC Monster Cross was offered in green and I actually asked to get one, but that somehow never worked out. I would really like to get one and set it up as a single speed. Maybe this run I will get that done. We will see.

Okay, that's it for this week. Happy Halloween and make sure you treat yourself and get in a nice bicycle ride!

Friday News And Views

Rookie Lottery Drawing Time Announced:

The Rookie Lottery Drawing for the last 40 spots available in Trans Iowa will occur at 4:00pm CST live on Periscope which can be accessed through Twitter at the account @guitarted1961

73 hopefuls will be looking for their names to be moved from the pool list to their desired category in the T.I.v12 event which will take place out of Grinnell, Iowa April 23rd and end on April 24th back in Grinnell, Iowa at Arbor Lake Park after 323.3 miles of gravel. Watch it all unfold on Periscope tomorrow at 4:00pm CST or wait for the roster to be updated by 6:00pm CST to see who is in and who is not for the chance to "slay their Dragon" at Trans Iowa.


300 Miles Of Gravel Available To Stream:

The documentary on "300 Miles Of Gravel", a look at Trans Iowa v7, is now available to stream onto your devices to own for five measly American dollars. This 27 minute long look at a Trans Iowa event won a  Regional Area Emmy for Outstanding Sports Programming- One Time Special, and is often replayed on Iowa Public Television in a truncated form that includes an interview with the film's maker, Jeff Frings.

I've been told this film has been quite the motivational device for riders, and that it was a good way to start with preparations for an attempt at Trans Iowa. Not my words..... Also- a disclaimer: Guitar Ted, Guitar Ted Productions, Trans Iowa, nor RidingGravel.com gets a penny from the film. I've never benefited from this financially, so this isn't hawking my merch here. Check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Moar Iowa Gravel:

I've been privy to some discussion about a new gravel event coming next year, and I wouldn't say anything about this at all, but for the individual who is the creator of this idea has already let the cat out-o-the bag on Facebook.

So, this looks like it will be a 150 or 200 mile event in Central Iowa, (HILLY), in October. Think "Trans Iowa" style, self supported, cue sheet nav, etc. If it happens, and I've no doubt that it will, I am down for this gig. It will come at a perfect time for me, as I am most at home in cooler weather, and the Summer events will have been long in my rear view mirror by that time.

I know the creator of this, and its route has been reconned already by bicycle, so I am certain this will be a quality route. Stay tuned, because if I hear more about this event, I will be posting about it here. I'm pretty excited about it, and I would really like to see this take off. The Central Iowa area has been a spot I've stared at while looking at maps and while traveling past that area going West to other events.

My original run BMC "Orange Crush" rig, which is still one of my faves!
Black Mountain Cycles Announces New Monster Cross Rig:

Back when I got my Black Mountain Cycles frame and fork, there really weren't too many bicycles available that could stand up to my requirements for a gravel travel steed. I was seriously contemplating going with a custom made rig, but my poor experiences with custom made bikes wasn't helping me out and so I took a good, hard look at Black Mountain Cycles. That frame had a slightly taller head tube and a bit different geometry than a Surly CrossCheck. So, I pulled the trigger. It has been one of my all time favorite machines since then.

Now news has come that the venerable Monster Cross rig has been changed slightly to have a slightly taller head tube, more fork offset, a Pacenti fork crown, and it will come in British Racing Green or a Pink that is much like an old color Specialized used in the 80's on their Stumpjumper model. See all about it HERE.

A couple years ago, the BMC Monster Cross was offered in green and I actually asked to get one, but that somehow never worked out. I would really like to get one and set it up as a single speed. Maybe this run I will get that done. We will see.

Okay, that's it for this week. Happy Halloween and make sure you treat yourself and get in a nice bicycle ride!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Project 1 X 1

It died......but it will rise again!
Announcing Project 1 X 1:

There are plans afoot and it is time to unleash my latest project bike on to the world of G-Ted Productions readers. (Admittedly, a small audience, but hey.... It is what it is!) So, anyway, here's what I can say about this deal now.

The old set up for the 1X1 was cool, but it wouldn't go a mile without eating tubes, and I tracked it down to the Mavic rims on the wheels I was using. Whatever I did to make it work backfired and I was left deflated again. (<=== HA!) Sorry! I couldn't resist that one!

Well, the solution is new wheels, of course, but not just any ol' wheels will do. These wheels need to be special in several ways. Here's a bullet point list for what I am looking for here:
  • Obviously, they should be 26 inch wheels and have rim brake capability. While folks often did shoe horn in other wheel diameters into these early 1X1's, it isn't an ideal situation. I'm sticking with the 26"ers for this old girl.
  • Wide rims- I wanted to get wider rims since the benefits of wide rims cannot be denied for mountain biking and even for urban commuting. Things the 1X1 should be capable of doing. 
  • Tubeless- This day and age, there is absolutely no reason not to have your wheels tubeless if you are running anything bigger than road racing tires. The rims and new tires need to be tubeless compatible. 
  • Meaty, multi-purpose tires- I don't really want to go with a tire that is mtb specific, but then again, this bike should be capable in dirt. It's usually hard packed around here, so I think a decent compromise tire exists. In fact, I have a special model in mind already! 
  • Hubs need to be single speed specific, maybe even fixed gear capable. I would like nutted axles for urban security and for the slight increase in rigidity they bring for wheel connections. 
  • Overall Strength- So, bottom line is strength here. I may use this bike as a hauler, a mountain bike, and I probably will be doing some bashing and thrashing on it. The wheels need to be tough, but not ridiculously heavy either. 
Now that's just the wheels! I have more in mind here, and I will unwrap this as we go, but the first and foremost component in this project will be the wheels. Stay tuned for more.....

Project 1 X 1

It died......but it will rise again!
Announcing Project 1 X 1:

There are plans afoot and it is time to unleash my latest project bike on to the world of G-Ted Productions readers. (Admittedly, a small audience, but hey.... It is what it is!) So, anyway, here's what I can say about this deal now.

The old set up for the 1X1 was cool, but it wouldn't go a mile without eating tubes, and I tracked it down to the Mavic rims on the wheels I was using. Whatever I did to make it work backfired and I was left deflated again. (<=== HA!) Sorry! I couldn't resist that one!

Well, the solution is new wheels, of course, but not just any ol' wheels will do. These wheels need to be special in several ways. Here's a bullet point list for what I am looking for here:
  • Obviously, they should be 26 inch wheels and have rim brake capability. While folks often did shoe horn in other wheel diameters into these early 1X1's, it isn't an ideal situation. I'm sticking with the 26"ers for this old girl.
  • Wide rims- I wanted to get wider rims since the benefits of wide rims cannot be denied for mountain biking and even for urban commuting. Things the 1X1 should be capable of doing. 
  • Tubeless- This day and age, there is absolutely no reason not to have your wheels tubeless if you are running anything bigger than road racing tires. The rims and new tires need to be tubeless compatible. 
  • Meaty, multi-purpose tires- I don't really want to go with a tire that is mtb specific, but then again, this bike should be capable in dirt. It's usually hard packed around here, so I think a decent compromise tire exists. In fact, I have a special model in mind already! 
  • Hubs need to be single speed specific, maybe even fixed gear capable. I would like nutted axles for urban security and for the slight increase in rigidity they bring for wheel connections. 
  • Overall Strength- So, bottom line is strength here. I may use this bike as a hauler, a mountain bike, and I probably will be doing some bashing and thrashing on it. The wheels need to be tough, but not ridiculously heavy either. 
Now that's just the wheels! I have more in mind here, and I will unwrap this as we go, but the first and foremost component in this project will be the wheels. Stay tuned for more.....

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rainy Day Fiddlin'

Once I get this plugged in, then it's on!
With hurricane Patricia's remains about to drench us, I had no alternative but to high tail it home, even though I had a bit of spare time on my hands in the afternoon. So, I started fiddlin' with this new Raleigh Roker LTD that was sent over for test/review on RidingGravel.com.

I bought some Teravail Cannonball tires to check out, and the Roker LTD has tubeless ready American Classic Argent disc wheels on it, so......why not? I got the front one done quite easily, but the back one? That will have to wait until tomorrow. Why? Because I have to plug the bike in. 

Yep. This is a Di2 equipped rig, and the battery is completely dead. It came out of the box stuck in its lowest gear in the back, so until I can get that rear derailleur shifted out of the way, the back tire remains tubed. Yeah.......I could get the wheel out, but I figure I'll wait till I get the battery charged first. So......why don't I have it charged yet? Well, you see, I didn't get the charger, which is specific to this set up, with the bike. I mistakenly thought we had all we needed at the shop, but apparently this new stuff takes a different charger. Well........of course it does. No worries. A new charger should be here today and I'll get that battery charged up, ride the bike a bit, then swap out that tire tomorrow, most likely.

Batteries, chargers, and bicycles? I never thought I'd be saying those three words in the same sentence, but that's the way things have gone now. I hear great things about the Di2 stuff, so now I will get to try it and judge it for myself. Stay tuned......

Rainy Day Fiddlin'

Once I get this plugged in, then it's on!
With hurricane Patricia's remains about to drench us, I had no alternative but to high tail it home, even though I had a bit of spare time on my hands in the afternoon. So, I started fiddlin' with this new Raleigh Roker LTD that was sent over for test/review on RidingGravel.com.

I bought some Teravail Cannonball tires to check out, and the Roker LTD has tubeless ready American Classic Argent disc wheels on it, so......why not? I got the front one done quite easily, but the back one? That will have to wait until tomorrow. Why? Because I have to plug the bike in. 

Yep. This is a Di2 equipped rig, and the battery is completely dead. It came out of the box stuck in its lowest gear in the back, so until I can get that rear derailleur shifted out of the way, the back tire remains tubed. Yeah.......I could get the wheel out, but I figure I'll wait till I get the battery charged first. So......why don't I have it charged yet? Well, you see, I didn't get the charger, which is specific to this set up, with the bike. I mistakenly thought we had all we needed at the shop, but apparently this new stuff takes a different charger. Well........of course it does. No worries. A new charger should be here today and I'll get that battery charged up, ride the bike a bit, then swap out that tire tomorrow, most likely.

Batteries, chargers, and bicycles? I never thought I'd be saying those three words in the same sentence, but that's the way things have gone now. I hear great things about the Di2 stuff, so now I will get to try it and judge it for myself. Stay tuned......

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Trans Iowa v12: Filling Up!

After noon today we will have all the Veteran spots filled for T.I.v12. As of yesterday, there were five spots for that class left available. Obviously, with handfuls of cards on Saturday and Monday, the class will fill out easily today. There will be a pile of broken dreams for T.I.v12.

So, this went as I expected. I figured lots of T.I.v11 rookies would want to get back for their second, and hopefully meaningful, chance at a Trans Iowa. I did notice a fair amount of cards bearing a single, T.I.v11 as the prerequisite T.I. attempt for their Vet qualification. I also noticed a lot of familiar names coming in. Trans Iowa "family" members. Many having multiple T.I. attempts under their belts. This is rather humbling and I want to say a "thank you" for being so dedicated to this gravel road cycling event. This was not something I ever envisioned or had any inkling about when I did T.I.v1. It is just amazing to me, and I am very grateful for the friends I have made since that humble beginning.

The other thing Trans Iowa has done is that it has created a "reason" to be active for those who have taken to it as they have. Riding in terrible, wet, cold, windy, or snowy conditions, just to get those miles in. It's rather amazing to me that this event has created this sort of reaction. Of course, you would need to train for a triple century, and that's obvious, but to the extent that the ride motivates folks, well, that is the difference. Trans Iowa has people doing big miles right now. The plans are being laid for Winter slogs already. Maybe that isn't impressive?

Okay, well how about those that come to me at the Pre-Race Meat-Up, or send me private e-mails, or come talk to me quietly at events I attend to say "thank you", to shake my hand, and express to me that without Trans Iowa, they wouldn't be where they are at in terms of fitness or mental toughness.

I am reminded of this every time I run registration. The posts on Facebook, and the e-mails, the notes on the post cards. I see and hear most of this. I really, truly am humbled and appreciative. I only wish I was as half as worthy of your thanks as you think I am. Really- the honor belongs to you folks- the riders. You folks are amazing.

Anyway, with today's mail, all we have to do is eliminate 33 names from that Rookie pool to carve out the 120 folks that will be aiming high for a finish at Trans Iowa v12. Look for a specific announcement on a time for that drawing very soon on the Trans Iowa site. This will be broadcast live on Periscope which you can see by following me on that ap, or by checking with my Twitter account which is @guitarted1961.

Trans Iowa v12: Filling Up!

After noon today we will have all the Veteran spots filled for T.I.v12. As of yesterday, there were five spots for that class left available. Obviously, with handfuls of cards on Saturday and Monday, the class will fill out easily today. There will be a pile of broken dreams for T.I.v12.

So, this went as I expected. I figured lots of T.I.v11 rookies would want to get back for their second, and hopefully meaningful, chance at a Trans Iowa. I did notice a fair amount of cards bearing a single, T.I.v11 as the prerequisite T.I. attempt for their Vet qualification. I also noticed a lot of familiar names coming in. Trans Iowa "family" members. Many having multiple T.I. attempts under their belts. This is rather humbling and I want to say a "thank you" for being so dedicated to this gravel road cycling event. This was not something I ever envisioned or had any inkling about when I did T.I.v1. It is just amazing to me, and I am very grateful for the friends I have made since that humble beginning.

The other thing Trans Iowa has done is that it has created a "reason" to be active for those who have taken to it as they have. Riding in terrible, wet, cold, windy, or snowy conditions, just to get those miles in. It's rather amazing to me that this event has created this sort of reaction. Of course, you would need to train for a triple century, and that's obvious, but to the extent that the ride motivates folks, well, that is the difference. Trans Iowa has people doing big miles right now. The plans are being laid for Winter slogs already. Maybe that isn't impressive?

Okay, well how about those that come to me at the Pre-Race Meat-Up, or send me private e-mails, or come talk to me quietly at events I attend to say "thank you", to shake my hand, and express to me that without Trans Iowa, they wouldn't be where they are at in terms of fitness or mental toughness.

I am reminded of this every time I run registration. The posts on Facebook, and the e-mails, the notes on the post cards. I see and hear most of this. I really, truly am humbled and appreciative. I only wish I was as half as worthy of your thanks as you think I am. Really- the honor belongs to you folks- the riders. You folks are amazing.

Anyway, with today's mail, all we have to do is eliminate 33 names from that Rookie pool to carve out the 120 folks that will be aiming high for a finish at Trans Iowa v12. Look for a specific announcement on a time for that drawing very soon on the Trans Iowa site. This will be broadcast live on Periscope which you can see by following me on that ap, or by checking with my Twitter account which is @guitarted1961.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dog Sprints

Most fields have been harvested. Some have been plowed already!
Saturday I decided to head out for a ride, but I did wait until afternoon when the temperatures would be better, not like last week when we hit the roads when it was still pretty chilly. This time I was on a solo mission, which, in hindsight, may have been a bad idea.

I guess I should have figured it out when I ran across a "Pit Bull Awareness Parade" when I was rolling through the downtown area. Yes.........really. It was a parade of dogs and their owners. They were really sweet dogs, by the way, and well behaved, even though the normal hustle and bustle of traffic had not been stopped for this parade, which was coming right down the sidewalk at me. As I say though, it was no big deal, and I found it rather amusing, actually. Little did I realize then these would be the nicest dogs I'd meet on this ride, by far.

A little further up the street and I saw the barricades come down with their flashing red lights and dinging bells. Bah! A train! I waited long enough to see that they were building a train in the yard, which meant a lot of back-and-forth with the cars. So, I bailed out and went over to the West to avoid the delay of my riding any further. It wasn't long before I was back on track and hitting the gravel on Moline Road.

Here are some of the many plowed over fields I saw during my ride. 
The skies cleared, it got a tad warmer, but that wind never went away. 
I knew going North out of the gate that it was going to be quite the grind. The wind was pretty stout out of the Northwest, and I was riding a fairly unfamiliar bike in the Grava Revenuer I am testing for RidingGravel.com. That all said, I found some legs and I wasn't doing all that bad. Now, it wasn't like I was lighting it up, mind you, but I was plugging along, feeling worked for sure, but I also had something in reserve despite the effort. That's where I wanted to keep the throttle- slow and steady- because I knew that I would eventually reap the benefits of riding out into the wind, and I was looking forward to enjoying that as much as possible.

Along about this time, I spied a big, furry, yellowish dog, and he spied me. Oh yeah......he's coming. Now this was a "true farm dog", not the well coifed, inside most of the time, pampered dogs. No......this mutt was big, gnarly, and had been out in the elements, likely its entire life, and wasn't playing games. I was going against the wind, the dog had a great angle of attack, so I stopped. I straddled the bike, and the big, gnarly brute was showing his teeth and barking his fool head off.

So, I started talking to it, not showing any fear, (and really, I wasn't scared at all), and the dog showed a chink in the armor. It would take a while, but this dog would eventually give over. I could see it. Then the owner came out. He started yelling at "Gunnar", and the dog got all stubborn and decided he was going to "protect and serve". The owner had to come right out on the road and grab the dog's collar, but not before the mutt nipped at my calf. No harm-no foul, but that was as close as I wanted to come to getting bit. I think the owner's agitation at the dog was misinterpreted by the dog as anger at me, but whatever. The owner apologized profusely, and I went on my merry way.

The gravel roads were primo-fast! The recent rains and traffic had beaten them into a smooth state. 
Now I had turned the corner and with the wind at my back, I was flying. It was at about this time that I saw another dog that was going to make an attempt at me. Even though I still had to crest a hill, I had that wind, and therefore speed, on my side. Give it all ya got, ya mutt! I was sprinting away and laughing. The dog gave chase for a bit, but finally stopped, realizing it was no use.

The ride South was going quite nicely, and I had decided that I would swing my route over toward Cedar Falls so I could pick up all the Trans Iowa v12 registrations I was sure were sitting there on my bench. (I was right. There were about 30!) So, I decided to go all the way to Mount Vernon Road, turn right, and then a couple miles to a left and into Cedar Falls via pavement.  I knew that at the corner with Mount Vernon Road, the house there had some black labs that liked to give chase. I was wondering if they'd be out sunning themselves on this pleasant, albeit windy, Fall day. I had the "stealth advantage" of coming with the wind, so they wouldn't see me until I was "right there". I knew all this may be true, so I was ready.

It's an uphill grind to that corner, so I was giving it all I had, in case the dogs were there. Well......of course they were there! I was level with them when I saw them on my right. I knew that having to make a right turn there gave the dogs an advantage, since that would play into their hands- er...paws- giving them a better angle of attack. So I took that corner as hot as I dared, and came out only a couple of feet ahead of the single black lab still giving chase. Into the wind, but downhill now, so I stomped on the pedals and drew away far enough the dog stopped. He stood there in the road until I was out of sight!

Not every animal I saw running was a dog. This deer sprinted across the road in front of me, here seen in the corn stubble. 

Dog sprints, animal induced intervals......whatever you want to call them. They were definitely making me work a bit harder this day than is usual. That's okay though. For as many miles as I ride out on gravel, I don't usually have many dog encounters at all. This ride was quite the unusual one, to say the least.

Dog Sprints

Most fields have been harvested. Some have been plowed already!
Saturday I decided to head out for a ride, but I did wait until afternoon when the temperatures would be better, not like last week when we hit the roads when it was still pretty chilly. This time I was on a solo mission, which, in hindsight, may have been a bad idea.

I guess I should have figured it out when I ran across a "Pit Bull Awareness Parade" when I was rolling through the downtown area. Yes.........really. It was a parade of dogs and their owners. They were really sweet dogs, by the way, and well behaved, even though the normal hustle and bustle of traffic had not been stopped for this parade, which was coming right down the sidewalk at me. As I say though, it was no big deal, and I found it rather amusing, actually. Little did I realize then these would be the nicest dogs I'd meet on this ride, by far.

A little further up the street and I saw the barricades come down with their flashing red lights and dinging bells. Bah! A train! I waited long enough to see that they were building a train in the yard, which meant a lot of back-and-forth with the cars. So, I bailed out and went over to the West to avoid the delay of my riding any further. It wasn't long before I was back on track and hitting the gravel on Moline Road.

Here are some of the many plowed over fields I saw during my ride. 
The skies cleared, it got a tad warmer, but that wind never went away. 
I knew going North out of the gate that it was going to be quite the grind. The wind was pretty stout out of the Northwest, and I was riding a fairly unfamiliar bike in the Grava Revenuer I am testing for RidingGravel.com. That all said, I found some legs and I wasn't doing all that bad. Now, it wasn't like I was lighting it up, mind you, but I was plugging along, feeling worked for sure, but I also had something in reserve despite the effort. That's where I wanted to keep the throttle- slow and steady- because I knew that I would eventually reap the benefits of riding out into the wind, and I was looking forward to enjoying that as much as possible.

Along about this time, I spied a big, furry, yellowish dog, and he spied me. Oh yeah......he's coming. Now this was a "true farm dog", not the well coifed, inside most of the time, pampered dogs. No......this mutt was big, gnarly, and had been out in the elements, likely its entire life, and wasn't playing games. I was going against the wind, the dog had a great angle of attack, so I stopped. I straddled the bike, and the big, gnarly brute was showing his teeth and barking his fool head off.

So, I started talking to it, not showing any fear, (and really, I wasn't scared at all), and the dog showed a chink in the armor. It would take a while, but this dog would eventually give over. I could see it. Then the owner came out. He started yelling at "Gunnar", and the dog got all stubborn and decided he was going to "protect and serve". The owner had to come right out on the road and grab the dog's collar, but not before the mutt nipped at my calf. No harm-no foul, but that was as close as I wanted to come to getting bit. I think the owner's agitation at the dog was misinterpreted by the dog as anger at me, but whatever. The owner apologized profusely, and I went on my merry way.

The gravel roads were primo-fast! The recent rains and traffic had beaten them into a smooth state. 
Now I had turned the corner and with the wind at my back, I was flying. It was at about this time that I saw another dog that was going to make an attempt at me. Even though I still had to crest a hill, I had that wind, and therefore speed, on my side. Give it all ya got, ya mutt! I was sprinting away and laughing. The dog gave chase for a bit, but finally stopped, realizing it was no use.

The ride South was going quite nicely, and I had decided that I would swing my route over toward Cedar Falls so I could pick up all the Trans Iowa v12 registrations I was sure were sitting there on my bench. (I was right. There were about 30!) So, I decided to go all the way to Mount Vernon Road, turn right, and then a couple miles to a left and into Cedar Falls via pavement.  I knew that at the corner with Mount Vernon Road, the house there had some black labs that liked to give chase. I was wondering if they'd be out sunning themselves on this pleasant, albeit windy, Fall day. I had the "stealth advantage" of coming with the wind, so they wouldn't see me until I was "right there". I knew all this may be true, so I was ready.

It's an uphill grind to that corner, so I was giving it all I had, in case the dogs were there. Well......of course they were there! I was level with them when I saw them on my right. I knew that having to make a right turn there gave the dogs an advantage, since that would play into their hands- er...paws- giving them a better angle of attack. So I took that corner as hot as I dared, and came out only a couple of feet ahead of the single black lab still giving chase. Into the wind, but downhill now, so I stomped on the pedals and drew away far enough the dog stopped. He stood there in the road until I was out of sight!

Not every animal I saw running was a dog. This deer sprinted across the road in front of me, here seen in the corn stubble. 

Dog sprints, animal induced intervals......whatever you want to call them. They were definitely making me work a bit harder this day than is usual. That's okay though. For as many miles as I ride out on gravel, I don't usually have many dog encounters at all. This ride was quite the unusual one, to say the least.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

In The Eye Of The Beholder

Sometimes beauty pokes you in the eye here......
I was out riding on Saturday and while I was alone, I had plenty of time to think about all kinds of stuff. Music, family, Trans Iowa, and then it crossed my mind, again, that this was a beautiful place to be.

Iowa?

See, this is what I think about living here and the beauty of this place. First of all- it isn't easy. Not like it is, say,  in places like Colorado, up in the Rockies. You pretty much have beauty punching you in the face. I mean, you'd have to be a pretty dead person not to feel it there, it is so obvious. Kind of like swimming in a pool of wine, you can't help but get drunk. This isn't so much the case here in Iowa, I think.

I was thinking on my ride that Iowa's beauty isn't like a pool of wine that makes it easy to get drunk. It is more like a sippin' whiskey. You can't toss it back, or you will hate it. It isn't obvious immediately how to even take it in. But once you get it, you take a small sip, let it linger on the palette, and then swallow. Iowa's beauty is like this, in my estimation. You have to know how to take it in, and when you find it, you let it settle in. Slowly. It isn't plainly obvious, and not just anyone will find it, but when you do, it is worth it.

Then again maybe I shouldn't think so much when I ride.......

In The Eye Of The Beholder

Sometimes beauty pokes you in the eye here......
I was out riding on Saturday and while I was alone, I had plenty of time to think about all kinds of stuff. Music, family, Trans Iowa, and then it crossed my mind, again, that this was a beautiful place to be.

Iowa?

See, this is what I think about living here and the beauty of this place. First of all- it isn't easy. Not like it is, say,  in places like Colorado, up in the Rockies. You pretty much have beauty punching you in the face. I mean, you'd have to be a pretty dead person not to feel it there, it is so obvious. Kind of like swimming in a pool of wine, you can't help but get drunk. This isn't so much the case here in Iowa, I think.

I was thinking on my ride that Iowa's beauty isn't like a pool of wine that makes it easy to get drunk. It is more like a sippin' whiskey. You can't toss it back, or you will hate it. It isn't obvious immediately how to even take it in. But once you get it, you take a small sip, let it linger on the palette, and then swallow. Iowa's beauty is like this, in my estimation. You have to know how to take it in, and when you find it, you let it settle in. Slowly. It isn't plainly obvious, and not just anyone will find it, but when you do, it is worth it.

Then again maybe I shouldn't think so much when I ride.......

Saturday, October 24, 2015

T.I.v12: Update And Comments

Today is the day I expect to get in a bunch of Veteran registration cards for T.I.v12. How many will come in? I don't know, but if Facebook is any indication, I expect to see quite a pile right off the mark.

There may be quite a pile regardless since it is also the last day the window is open for Rookies and the Winners/Finishers of Trans Iowa registration also ends today. I should have a fair amount of work to do after the morning deliveries occur. Expect to see roster updates later on in the afternoon today. I may take a bicycle ride before posting while the Sun is up.

Rookie registration numbers will likely top out at over 70. I expected about 80. Earlier it looked like it may fall short of 70. Closer to what I expected then. Interesting..... Finishers/Winners were at 25 yesterday- about what I had expected there. I bet we will add 10 spots, at the least, to the Vet pool of 40. I also bet those 10 extra spots will go up in smoke rather quickly. This has been about what I expected across the board, so no real surprises with regard to registration for this Trans Iowa.

I also was not at all surprised that some potential Rookie entrants didn't get the registration details down and this resulted in bad post cards. Some missed the prescribed info beyond their own name. Some got it right up to their e-mail, then omitted the rest. Some got their emergency contact person's name, but failed to give a way to contact them. Some got all that right, and either omitted the specified rule I wanted transcribed, or fouled up the transcription. Then there were those that got all of that, but I could not read it. Finally, one person got it all right, had it very legible, but their e-mail address was wrong. It pinged back. Bzzzt! No go.

I had some second opinions on some of these entries as well, so it wasn't just summarily tossed away. These entries, all of them, were carefully scrutinized. Even the ones that passed muster were carefully considered. I will tell you that about a half dozen were borderline no good, but I passed them anyway.

Do not ask me if I received your card and failed it and why. I won't answer you. It doesn't matter at this point. Obviously, there was something you missed. If there is another Trans Iowa then....... you can try again. 

The way I see this is that the rules are super simple. It isn't tricky at all. I plainly spell it out, link to it, and make it abundantly clear. 70 plus people got it right. I don't think I am being too harsh here.

By the way, the lottery drawing will be on Periscope and accessible via Twitter by following my account: @guitarted1961.

T.I.v12: Update And Comments

Today is the day I expect to get in a bunch of Veteran registration cards for T.I.v12. How many will come in? I don't know, but if Facebook is any indication, I expect to see quite a pile right off the mark.

There may be quite a pile regardless since it is also the last day the window is open for Rookies and the Winners/Finishers of Trans Iowa registration also ends today. I should have a fair amount of work to do after the morning deliveries occur. Expect to see roster updates later on in the afternoon today. I may take a bicycle ride before posting while the Sun is up.

Rookie registration numbers will likely top out at over 70. I expected about 80. Earlier it looked like it may fall short of 70. Closer to what I expected then. Interesting..... Finishers/Winners were at 25 yesterday- about what I had expected there. I bet we will add 10 spots, at the least, to the Vet pool of 40. I also bet those 10 extra spots will go up in smoke rather quickly. This has been about what I expected across the board, so no real surprises with regard to registration for this Trans Iowa.

I also was not at all surprised that some potential Rookie entrants didn't get the registration details down and this resulted in bad post cards. Some missed the prescribed info beyond their own name. Some got it right up to their e-mail, then omitted the rest. Some got their emergency contact person's name, but failed to give a way to contact them. Some got all that right, and either omitted the specified rule I wanted transcribed, or fouled up the transcription. Then there were those that got all of that, but I could not read it. Finally, one person got it all right, had it very legible, but their e-mail address was wrong. It pinged back. Bzzzt! No go.

I had some second opinions on some of these entries as well, so it wasn't just summarily tossed away. These entries, all of them, were carefully scrutinized. Even the ones that passed muster were carefully considered. I will tell you that about a half dozen were borderline no good, but I passed them anyway.

Do not ask me if I received your card and failed it and why. I won't answer you. It doesn't matter at this point. Obviously, there was something you missed. If there is another Trans Iowa then....... you can try again. 

The way I see this is that the rules are super simple. It isn't tricky at all. I plainly spell it out, link to it, and make it abundantly clear. 70 plus people got it right. I don't think I am being too harsh here.

By the way, the lottery drawing will be on Periscope and accessible via Twitter by following my account: @guitarted1961.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday News And Views

Raleigh Roker Limited
Something Special:

So this just happened" I was offered the opportunity to test ride the Raleigh Roker Limited. This is kind of a big deal and an honor. Here's why....

Long time readers here know the story, but for those newer here, the Roker is based off the Tamland steel bike Raleigh does, and that bike was influenced by myself. Raleigh asked my opinion on geometry and features, and that got implemented into the Tamland, and subsequently all the gravel/back road bikes Raleigh does. So, to have this, top of the range, cutting edge bike be based off some crazy ideas I have, well...... Anyway, that's pretty humbling. The other thing is that this is currently the only rideable sample Raleigh has available. So I am quite honored they felt compelled to let me check it out now. Thank you Raleigh!!

I am pretty excited about getting a chance to throw a leg over this. While it isn't "revolutionary" in terms of what I am used to with regard to geometry on the Tamland, it does have the carbon frame, and the bottom bracket is a touch lower even than what I am riding now with my Raleigh. Lighter weight, carbon, Di2..... This will be a fun ride, I think. Stay tuned here and at RidingGravel.com for updates.

Trans Iowa v12 Updates:

Okay, this has been a big deal of a week from the standpoint of registration. The Rookies window to get cards in ends tomorrow. The Finishers/Winners window also ends tomorrow. The Vets window starts tomorrow. Lots going on!

That said, things should slow down once we get past Saturday. Then the Vets slots will likely fill up rather quickly, and I am betting the registration will be mostly over by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. Then all eyes will be on the lottery for the 40 Rookie spots. I have to announce a specific time that will occur on Saturday October 31st, but there is one thing I do know. The lottery will be broadcast. I tried Periscope and it broadcasts to Twitter live. So, if you are interested in seeing the drawing live, it will be on my account which is @guitarted1961 on Twitter.

The way it seems to work with Periscope is that you can hop on at anytime during the broadcast, but if you miss something, you can watch the broadcast in its entirety afterward. I'm not an expert on Periscope, far from it, but this should prove to be fun stuff for those interested.

And before anyone hops to the next level..... No. There will be no live Periscope from the course of Trans Iowa v12. While that sounds like a good thing, I think it steps over the line in regards to the spirit of the event. Nuff said.......

The Teravail Cannonball 38mm tire
Teravail Cannonball Tires:

I just purchased some of these Teravail Cannonball tires with the tread design that is supposed to be good on "coarse gravel". That sounds like Iowa to me!

They are also supposed to be good as tubeless tires, which is what any new tire really should be these days. But what is really interesting to me is how these tires were designed. 

It used to be that tires were pretty much well thought out guesses at best, or just fashionably good looking at worst. What really worked was anybody's best guess, and typically a simple square knob, file tread, or slick turned out to be all one really needed depending upon the conditions and/or bike used. The "science" of tread was mostly not a prerequisite for coming up with something new. That isn't the case with these Teravail tires, as I understand it.

I was told by one of the product designers on the project that they studied tread design and how that interacted with gravel. The idea was to get to a tread design that caused the least amount of "squirm" on loose gravel and had the lowest rolling resistance. The tread design is definitely something unlike any other tire out there. The width at 38mm is a pretty good place to be at and I'll have to see what the tire's profile is once I get these things mounted tubeless.

Will they be the schiznit? Well, we'll find out. Stay tuned......

That's all for this week. Stay healthy, get outside, and ride those bicycles!

Friday News And Views

Raleigh Roker Limited
Something Special:

So this just happened" I was offered the opportunity to test ride the Raleigh Roker Limited. This is kind of a big deal and an honor. Here's why....

Long time readers here know the story, but for those newer here, the Roker is based off the Tamland steel bike Raleigh does, and that bike was influenced by myself. Raleigh asked my opinion on geometry and features, and that got implemented into the Tamland, and subsequently all the gravel/back road bikes Raleigh does. So, to have this, top of the range, cutting edge bike be based off some crazy ideas I have, well...... Anyway, that's pretty humbling. The other thing is that this is currently the only rideable sample Raleigh has available. So I am quite honored they felt compelled to let me check it out now. Thank you Raleigh!!

I am pretty excited about getting a chance to throw a leg over this. While it isn't "revolutionary" in terms of what I am used to with regard to geometry on the Tamland, it does have the carbon frame, and the bottom bracket is a touch lower even than what I am riding now with my Raleigh. Lighter weight, carbon, Di2..... This will be a fun ride, I think. Stay tuned here and at RidingGravel.com for updates.

Trans Iowa v12 Updates:

Okay, this has been a big deal of a week from the standpoint of registration. The Rookies window to get cards in ends tomorrow. The Finishers/Winners window also ends tomorrow. The Vets window starts tomorrow. Lots going on!

That said, things should slow down once we get past Saturday. Then the Vets slots will likely fill up rather quickly, and I am betting the registration will be mostly over by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. Then all eyes will be on the lottery for the 40 Rookie spots. I have to announce a specific time that will occur on Saturday October 31st, but there is one thing I do know. The lottery will be broadcast. I tried Periscope and it broadcasts to Twitter live. So, if you are interested in seeing the drawing live, it will be on my account which is @guitarted1961 on Twitter.

The way it seems to work with Periscope is that you can hop on at anytime during the broadcast, but if you miss something, you can watch the broadcast in its entirety afterward. I'm not an expert on Periscope, far from it, but this should prove to be fun stuff for those interested.

And before anyone hops to the next level..... No. There will be no live Periscope from the course of Trans Iowa v12. While that sounds like a good thing, I think it steps over the line in regards to the spirit of the event. Nuff said.......

The Teravail Cannonball 38mm tire
Teravail Cannonball Tires:

I just purchased some of these Teravail Cannonball tires with the tread design that is supposed to be good on "coarse gravel". That sounds like Iowa to me!

They are also supposed to be good as tubeless tires, which is what any new tire really should be these days. But what is really interesting to me is how these tires were designed. 

It used to be that tires were pretty much well thought out guesses at best, or just fashionably good looking at worst. What really worked was anybody's best guess, and typically a simple square knob, file tread, or slick turned out to be all one really needed depending upon the conditions and/or bike used. The "science" of tread was mostly not a prerequisite for coming up with something new. That isn't the case with these Teravail tires, as I understand it.

I was told by one of the product designers on the project that they studied tread design and how that interacted with gravel. The idea was to get to a tread design that caused the least amount of "squirm" on loose gravel and had the lowest rolling resistance. The tread design is definitely something unlike any other tire out there. The width at 38mm is a pretty good place to be at and I'll have to see what the tire's profile is once I get these things mounted tubeless.

Will they be the schiznit? Well, we'll find out. Stay tuned......

That's all for this week. Stay healthy, get outside, and ride those bicycles!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Vicious Cycle Of Washing

Awww! I just cleaned it yesterday!
You've heard it a million times, I am sure: "If you want it to rain, just go wash your car!" Somehow or another, I think something along these lines must work when you ride bicycles as well.

Case in point- My Singular Cycles Buzzard had been ridden in some pretty nasty stuff at one point or another back in the Spring, or maybe it was last Winter? Heck.....I can't remember, it's been that long ago. All I know is that there was this layer of grungy crap and dirt all over the frame. Not only that, the polished Velocity Dually rims were.....well they weren't very shiny anymore. If you own polished aluminum rims, it is sort of the point to have them be blindingly shiny all the time, right?

So, I finally got around to doing some much needed maintenance. Those rims! I had to break out the Never Dull and even then they were almost impossible to bring back to even a semi-shiny state. Elbow grease was applied in large doses, which finally resulted in a bit of luster. Acceptable for the time being, but I'd have to get after that again when my fingers returned to a state of having feelings. Of course, the rest of the frame was also polished up, but powdercoat has a lot lighter grip on grime than polished aluminum does, so that went a lot easier.

This all happened at work, by the way, because things have slowed down. Hey! It's the off-season, ya know, so I don't have quite near the workload I do in the Summertime. I rode my shiny, (almost) rig back home proudly. It's like my old coworker Jeff always said, "A clean bike is a happy bike." I suppose it was just glad its lazy ol' owner decide to finally do something about its state of disrespect. I was just happy to see the rims glow again!

Maybe it will take another six months.....

Wouldn't you know it, but I had to ride the Singular back from the repair shop where Mrs. Guitar Ted's car was getting serviced. While I was waiting it out at home, it rained, and things got pretty messy. Well, there ya go! Wash up the bike if you want it to rain, or something!

Anyway, I'm sure that if I don't let this dirt marinate on the bike for.....oh, six months or more, it just might come off a little bit easier. Probably will.

A Vicious Cycle Of Washing

Awww! I just cleaned it yesterday!
You've heard it a million times, I am sure: "If you want it to rain, just go wash your car!" Somehow or another, I think something along these lines must work when you ride bicycles as well.

Case in point- My Singular Cycles Buzzard had been ridden in some pretty nasty stuff at one point or another back in the Spring, or maybe it was last Winter? Heck.....I can't remember, it's been that long ago. All I know is that there was this layer of grungy crap and dirt all over the frame. Not only that, the polished Velocity Dually rims were.....well they weren't very shiny anymore. If you own polished aluminum rims, it is sort of the point to have them be blindingly shiny all the time, right?

So, I finally got around to doing some much needed maintenance. Those rims! I had to break out the Never Dull and even then they were almost impossible to bring back to even a semi-shiny state. Elbow grease was applied in large doses, which finally resulted in a bit of luster. Acceptable for the time being, but I'd have to get after that again when my fingers returned to a state of having feelings. Of course, the rest of the frame was also polished up, but powdercoat has a lot lighter grip on grime than polished aluminum does, so that went a lot easier.

This all happened at work, by the way, because things have slowed down. Hey! It's the off-season, ya know, so I don't have quite near the workload I do in the Summertime. I rode my shiny, (almost) rig back home proudly. It's like my old coworker Jeff always said, "A clean bike is a happy bike." I suppose it was just glad its lazy ol' owner decide to finally do something about its state of disrespect. I was just happy to see the rims glow again!

Maybe it will take another six months.....

Wouldn't you know it, but I had to ride the Singular back from the repair shop where Mrs. Guitar Ted's car was getting serviced. While I was waiting it out at home, it rained, and things got pretty messy. Well, there ya go! Wash up the bike if you want it to rain, or something!

Anyway, I'm sure that if I don't let this dirt marinate on the bike for.....oh, six months or more, it just might come off a little bit easier. Probably will.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Curious Case Of Onza

Back in the late 80's and early 90's, you knew, if you were into mountain biking, who Onza was. You had either seen their product, read about it, or had seen the ubiquitous porcupine sticker on a buddies rig at the trail head. You knew what Onza was. Bar ends, Porcupine tires, and those infamous HO Pedals.

But before I get to more about those pedals, I wanted to revisit the Onza juggernaut for a bit. Thinking back on that time, I cannot really say that any other company had such an over-arching success with mountain bikers. They had the bar end business locked up. You either rode Onza bar ends, or you weren't cool. The same with their tires for a time as well. Who could forget the white Porcs?

An old Onza catalog page courtesy of the "new" Onza's Facebook page.
  They also did something before anyone else did, in my opinion. Onza had a wide range of OE spec on mountain bike product and across more brands than anyone else. (English Translation: Their parts came on all kinds of mountain bikes) They made chain rings, seat posts, tires, brakes, and grips. Many higher end bikes from many companies were spec'ed out with at least something from the Onza catalog.

Added to this was the fact that Onza was a presence on race bikes of the best racers. One must understand that there was no internet to see things with. We had to actually wait to get our next monthly fix of Mounatin Bike Action, or Dirt Rag and we would disect the Pro race bike overviews to see what they were running, because, you know, that's what we should be running, right? And those guys and gals, in many cases, were sporting something Onza made on their rigs. Sponsorships for Pro mtb racers were something of a free-for-all back in the day, and racer's set ups were often rather eclectic mixes of several brand names.

Another thing we did was that we devoured everything in print in the mags, including the ads, and Onza spent a lot of bucks on adverts. Like I said, it seemed like Onza was everywhere on everyone's bikes. Plus, it didn't hurt that their product was fairly priced and worked pretty well.

So, when clipless pedals came out, and Onza introduced the HO's, riders went ga-ga over them, because their retail price was significantly less than Shimano's or Time's for their pedals, and they were actually available, unlike Graftons and some others. Consequently, tons of people bought tons of Onza HO pedals. Oh yeah.....and they were also significantly lighter in weight than anyone's pedal designs. I remember that being a big selling point as well. Shimano 747's and Time pedals, while vastly superior designs, were tankish anchors that were far heavier than our old toe strapped caged pedals. No one was interested in slapping more weight on their rigs. Then of course, some of us never did get clipless pedals because you had to buy special shoes. What? No Chuck Taylors anymore? Blasphemy!! 

An Onza HO pedal still in use as seen on my workstand the other day.
 What is more, Onza HO pedals were many folks first rodeo with clipless pedals. So, when the elastomer sprung pedals started to exhibit very unpredictable behaviors out in the field, many riders were befuddled, discouraged, or just got mad and either ponied up for another system or reverted back to toe straps and caged pedals.

I was one of these "first timers", but not for lack of trying to get into a competing system. I initially went for Grafton pedals, which were a cool, caged pedal design that had a funky, triangular cleat. I got the pedals, but I never could get the cleats, so finally, after a few months of going back and forth with Grafton, I "settled" for the wildly popular Onza pedal. Boy.....was that ever a mistake! (Both the Graftons and the Onzas!) Anyway, it wasn't long before I was crashing my brains out on just about every ride because I was a clipless pedal newbie. Or was that really why. Eventually I caught on to the fact that it was really the pedals, and I was looking like an idiot falling over after every body else had stopped safely. Eventually, my HO's came off, and I got some Shimano based Ritchey pedals instead. Funny thing happened after that........I didn't crash anymore like I had been. 

Suddenly the word got around- Onza pedals suck- and riders turned in their Onza pedals with the boxes of extra elastomers by the dozens, literally. I can remember down at the old shop where I started that we had piles of Onza clipless pedals in boxes that no one wanted anymore. Well.......that isn't entirely true. Some people actually liked Onza HO pedals, and so they eventually bought up all the piles of parts and pedals to keep theirs going. Oh- and if you are still in the market for some Onza HO pedal stuff, click here.

This all coincided with the "CNC Era" and many folks were getting burned by poor performing, high priced "chi-chi" parts, and Onza kind of got caught in the cross hairs. Plus, their OE spec went way down when other companies started doing their own branded accessory parts. Combined with the poor PR from the pedals, Onza disappeared as a major force in the mtb marketplace by the late 90's. The only thing they left behind were those silent reminders, those porcupine stickers, which seemed to be on about every used mountain bike for several years afterward.

The "new" (again) Onza is UK based and just introduced a couple of cool steel frames like this 29"er. 
Onza disappeared completely from the US scene, and from mountain biking as a whole, for years. The brand was revived in the 00's by a UK company and the brand was seen on many trailsin parts and bikes for several years. I actually had an Onza branded trails freewheel on my Blackbuck, albeit for a very short time, as it failed rather quickly. Then, later on in the 00's the brand was used by another firm for tires only. You may have noticed Onza branded tires on some BMC bikes and other Euro brands recently.

Now it seems that the UK Onza is getting back to doing mountain bike stuff again with a line of handle bars, stems, and flat pedals. I just caught on to the new frames as well, which look rather cool. So, Onza, a company once on top of the mtb hill, is back at it again, albeit in a much smaller, localized way. Will they ever be a player in the US again? Who knows, but if they decide to come over and play here again, I would advise against any elastomer based clipless pedal reprises!

The Curious Case Of Onza

Back in the late 80's and early 90's, you knew, if you were into mountain biking, who Onza was. You had either seen their product, read about it, or had seen the ubiquitous porcupine sticker on a buddies rig at the trail head. You knew what Onza was. Bar ends, Porcupine tires, and those infamous HO Pedals.

But before I get to more about those pedals, I wanted to revisit the Onza juggernaut for a bit. Thinking back on that time, I cannot really say that any other company had such an over-arching success with mountain bikers. They had the bar end business locked up. You either rode Onza bar ends, or you weren't cool. The same with their tires for a time as well. Who could forget the white Porcs?

An old Onza catalog page courtesy of the "new" Onza's Facebook page.
  They also did something before anyone else did, in my opinion. Onza had a wide range of OE spec on mountain bike product and across more brands than anyone else. (English Translation: Their parts came on all kinds of mountain bikes) They made chain rings, seat posts, tires, brakes, and grips. Many higher end bikes from many companies were spec'ed out with at least something from the Onza catalog.

Added to this was the fact that Onza was a presence on race bikes of the best racers. One must understand that there was no internet to see things with. We had to actually wait to get our next monthly fix of Mounatin Bike Action, or Dirt Rag and we would disect the Pro race bike overviews to see what they were running, because, you know, that's what we should be running, right? And those guys and gals, in many cases, were sporting something Onza made on their rigs. Sponsorships for Pro mtb racers were something of a free-for-all back in the day, and racer's set ups were often rather eclectic mixes of several brand names.

Another thing we did was that we devoured everything in print in the mags, including the ads, and Onza spent a lot of bucks on adverts. Like I said, it seemed like Onza was everywhere on everyone's bikes. Plus, it didn't hurt that their product was fairly priced and worked pretty well.

So, when clipless pedals came out, and Onza introduced the HO's, riders went ga-ga over them, because their retail price was significantly less than Shimano's or Time's for their pedals, and they were actually available, unlike Graftons and some others. Consequently, tons of people bought tons of Onza HO pedals. Oh yeah.....and they were also significantly lighter in weight than anyone's pedal designs. I remember that being a big selling point as well. Shimano 747's and Time pedals, while vastly superior designs, were tankish anchors that were far heavier than our old toe strapped caged pedals. No one was interested in slapping more weight on their rigs. Then of course, some of us never did get clipless pedals because you had to buy special shoes. What? No Chuck Taylors anymore? Blasphemy!! 

An Onza HO pedal still in use as seen on my workstand the other day.
 What is more, Onza HO pedals were many folks first rodeo with clipless pedals. So, when the elastomer sprung pedals started to exhibit very unpredictable behaviors out in the field, many riders were befuddled, discouraged, or just got mad and either ponied up for another system or reverted back to toe straps and caged pedals.

I was one of these "first timers", but not for lack of trying to get into a competing system. I initially went for Grafton pedals, which were a cool, caged pedal design that had a funky, triangular cleat. I got the pedals, but I never could get the cleats, so finally, after a few months of going back and forth with Grafton, I "settled" for the wildly popular Onza pedal. Boy.....was that ever a mistake! (Both the Graftons and the Onzas!) Anyway, it wasn't long before I was crashing my brains out on just about every ride because I was a clipless pedal newbie. Or was that really why. Eventually I caught on to the fact that it was really the pedals, and I was looking like an idiot falling over after every body else had stopped safely. Eventually, my HO's came off, and I got some Shimano based Ritchey pedals instead. Funny thing happened after that........I didn't crash anymore like I had been. 

Suddenly the word got around- Onza pedals suck- and riders turned in their Onza pedals with the boxes of extra elastomers by the dozens, literally. I can remember down at the old shop where I started that we had piles of Onza clipless pedals in boxes that no one wanted anymore. Well.......that isn't entirely true. Some people actually liked Onza HO pedals, and so they eventually bought up all the piles of parts and pedals to keep theirs going. Oh- and if you are still in the market for some Onza HO pedal stuff, click here.

This all coincided with the "CNC Era" and many folks were getting burned by poor performing, high priced "chi-chi" parts, and Onza kind of got caught in the cross hairs. Plus, their OE spec went way down when other companies started doing their own branded accessory parts. Combined with the poor PR from the pedals, Onza disappeared as a major force in the mtb marketplace by the late 90's. The only thing they left behind were those silent reminders, those porcupine stickers, which seemed to be on about every used mountain bike for several years afterward.

The "new" (again) Onza is UK based and just introduced a couple of cool steel frames like this 29"er. 
Onza disappeared completely from the US scene, and from mountain biking as a whole, for years. The brand was revived in the 00's by a UK company and the brand was seen on many trailsin parts and bikes for several years. I actually had an Onza branded trails freewheel on my Blackbuck, albeit for a very short time, as it failed rather quickly. Then, later on in the 00's the brand was used by another firm for tires only. You may have noticed Onza branded tires on some BMC bikes and other Euro brands recently.

Now it seems that the UK Onza is getting back to doing mountain bike stuff again with a line of handle bars, stems, and flat pedals. I just caught on to the new frames as well, which look rather cool. So, Onza, a company once on top of the mtb hill, is back at it again, albeit in a much smaller, localized way. Will they ever be a player in the US again? Who knows, but if they decide to come over and play here again, I would advise against any elastomer based clipless pedal reprises!