Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Planning Ahead

So where will I be riding in 2017? Image by W. Kilburg
With one month to go in 2016 I am starting to piece together a plan for 2017 rides. This will be a bit of a different look than in years past due to my business with, whose livery I will be sporting for 2017. (More on that later this December, hopefully.)

First off, I've been asked about fat bike racing and I am not going to enter any of those. They (mostly) are like XC mountain bike racing, which I also don't care for myself. It just doesn't do anything for me to do a circuit race. That's not interesting at all to me, but for those of  you who dig it, by all means..... Go for it. I'd rather do big mileage events that keep me engaged over a full day of riding that allows me to immerse myself in a place. Yes.....there are fat bike races like this. But I am not doing any fat bike racing this year, so there. Maybe next Winter.

So, that leaves gravel racing, and I am pretty sure my first solid commitment in 2017 is to doing the Renegade Gents Race on the first weekend in April. I may find something earlier than this, but I will play that by ear. I'm keeping options open there. No......not CIRREM. That is filled up already, and I have done that race once as well.

Then comes a period where I will be pretty tied up being a supporter or running an event or two. Trans Iowa v13, of course, and probably a Geezer Ride which will fulfill the director side. Then I will also be supporting at Almanzo 100 and at the Dirty Kanza 200.That takes me up to June.

June will hopefully be focused upon doing Odin's Revenge again. I had to bail on Odin's last Summer due to a family gathering I couldn't miss. So, this time I am hoping to be able to make it out there again. It is one event I really would like to complete. So that will be high on my agenda for sure.  This year really helped with figuring out a lot for my hot weather riding plan. Since Odin's is usually a pretty blazing hot deal, that should go a long way in helping me conquer this crazy event.<==UPDATE: ODIN'S HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2017. This opens June wide for doing something else, but I have not considered what it may be yet.

GTDRI time is usually in July
July will bring another Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. I will have to decide upon a venue for this one, but I have had my eye on a certain section of the country for a while that I'd like to check out.

I probably won't do 150 miles, but I'll plan on 100 plus miles for sure. Wherever I decide to do the ride will eventually be the biggest factor in figuring out how far we'll ride that day. I'm not locked in to one certain place, I just have an idea. That could change, so stay tuned.

August is Gravel Worlds. I probably will go do this again. Either in a supportive role or as a rider, I haven't decided yet. But one way or the other, I feel this will be a solid for the schedule next year. After that, I am leaving things wide open. I have penciled in the Spotted Horse Gravel Ultra, but that event isn't a done deal for '17, and that is a long way off. UPDATE:<==The Spotted Horse is a go for 2017 according to an announcement on their webpage.  Registration opens May 1, 2017

The rest is open for discussion. I am keeping Fall pretty open for anything. Otherwise, this is my plan going into 2017. Feel free to convince me to try something else out there in terms of gravel events. I'm all ears, but if it is during Spring, I probably will be too busy already.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pro "Un-Road" Racing: Old Is New Again

Man vs Nature: DK200 2015- Is this what Pro Road Racing should be?
The gravel racing genre has been what I have lived and breathed now for more than a decade. I often get asked why folks have tend to gravitate toward this sort of bicycling. I can think of a lot of reasons that it has been a growing genre of cycling. Many things are exciting about this type of riding. But what is it exactly?

Why has gravel racing become so popular?  I think if we look at the obvious, the biggest reason it has become the fastest growing form of bicycle racing is that it pits "man" against "nature" in a way that is exciting, attractive, and touches our innermost visceral core. Here is why......

I can pretty much sum it all up with one name: Roubaix. Of course, I refer to the seminal classic of Spring that road racers take on in Northern France. Oft called "The Hell of the North", Paris-Roubaix's name is the most often copied or referred to moniker for gravel road racing in the USA. Consider that "Barry-Roubaix" is the most popular gravel road event in North America. Or consider that there are at least 15 other gravel road based events in North America that currently use the word "roubaix" in their name. That's not even counting events that refer to the classic Euro event in their race descriptions or other race names that emulate the event without using "roubaix". Why? Why is it that this European clasic road event is so revered and emulated?

Grit, determination, fortitude against all odds. That's what we want to see. Image by Jason Boucher.
 Well, think about Paris-Roubaix and what image that immediately conjures up. Likely it is one of a mud covered face on a road bike traveling over cruel stones. We are drawn to such displays of the human spirit overcoming Nature's worst and the primitive roads and slots cut through the countryside. All those "sanitized" road races that happen the rest of the year seem somewhat less in comparison.

In fact, I believe that this is one reason why cyclo-cross has become such a popular sport. You all know that the cyclo-cross races we still talk about, the best ones, are contested in truly awful conditions. No one recalls that sunny day in dry weather when the grass was green and everyone was as clean at the start as they were at the end. Ho hum.......

Not many years ago, Pro Road racing took to the gravel again, if only in small bites, in an event called the Strade Bianche. It became an instant hit. With the sagging popularity of road racing in North America and in Europe, an event that strikes a cord like the Strade Bianche raises some eyebrows. So seeing that and working on revitalizing a declining event, organizers of Schaal Sels, an event in Belgium, went to the dirt. (Read about it all here) The event, once on the verge of anonymity, has become the shining example of a revitalized race and interest in dirt and gravel racing seems to be on the rise in Europe as well. Again, it seems that the primal attraction to dicing it up on dodgy roads is the main appeal.

“You don’t know what’s going to hit you next — but to be honest you can’t wait because it’s exciting and it’s just plain fun,” Dan Craven (Cycling Academy)- from an Instagram post after the 2016 event. (Via Velo News online story here. )
I think this is what riders want to ride and what we as spectators of the world's greatest cyclists would want to see. Riders riding in Paris-Roubaix type events more often. Events that have dirt, gravel, stones, or what ever types of road ways we can ride on. That's what the US gravel/back roads scene is all about. The crazier the conditions, the better, it seems. 

 At any rate, it would seem that the Pro Road scene is finally picking up on what it left behind those many decades ago. It is rediscovering what made cycling great to begin with. Even Ghent-Wevelgem is getting in on the action.  It sure isn't what we have gotten lately that is making people take notice. We have gotten team cars, totally pampered and prepped Pro Road racers, over-blown budgets, and doping in the last three decades. What really gets us to take notice?

A muddy Paris-Roubaix, some white gravel sections in one Italian based event, an obscure Belgian race that has taken its course out to the farm roads, and Froome running down a mountain road. That's about the extent of the highlights. 

When all we have to talk about is Peter Sagan riding wheelies and how he wears his hair, there is a big problem. We need dirt, dust, grit, and grime pitted against steely eyed riders on two wheels who are self supported and maybe a good ol' rain storm thrown in for good measure. That would make for some drama. That would be inspirational. I mean, how many bunch sprints or mountain top finishes do we have to endure? Everything else is fodder for the dust bin. 

That's why we ride these gravel events. It is an adventure, it makes us stretch ourselves, and sometimes parts and bodies don't hold up. But that's all part of the fun. Just like the quote from the Velo News story above. We cannot wait to see what's next because it is exciting and fun. 

I think it is high time we saw some fun and excitement like that in Pro Road Racing, but who knows......Maybe we'll see that happen. But...... I ain't holding my breath, I'll tell ya that much.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bikes Of 2016: Black Mountain Cycles "Monster Cross"

Yes..........that bike again!
The time of year has come that I will be reviewing the bikes I used the most throughout 2016 and why. The ups, downs, changes, and more will be discussed.

I know.......that bike again! But I really do use it a lot, and of course, I really like it a lot. The Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross frame and fork is Mike Varley's best selling bike.  Well, that's what I read on his site, at any rate. That's fairly surprising when you think about a cantilever brake standard, quick release type frame in 2016. It seems like a throwback frame and fork.

But apparently there are enough folks digging the ride that when Mike comes out with a new batch, sizes in the most popular range sell out lickety-split. In fact, he is even taking pre-orders on frames now. So, it isn't just me. It is a lot of folks that have found out these bikes really are a do-it-all solution for cycling. In my mind, "do-it-all" is "all-road/gravel". That's the sole reason I bought this frame and fork. While it is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it does what it does so darn well that you begin to accept its flaws as part of its personality.

Look, you folks see this bike constantly here on this blog and I have written tons of posts on it specifically and alluding to it as well. I'm sure that if you are a long time reader here, you get the song and dance. But I want you to know that if anything happened to this bike, heaven forbid, I would seek to replace it straight away. I bought this first gen one sight unseen, and it has turned out to be an invaluable tool for adventure ever since. Besides my first gen Fargo, this has to be one of my most ridden bikes these days. In fact, I have almost bought a second one several times, but as yet, I have not done that.

The BMC "Orange Crush" rig and I were out on an adventure with my friend Tony earlier this Summer.
One of the reasons I have held back from getting another BMC Monster Cross is that Mike has said he is working on a disc brake version of this bike. I have invested heavily into disc brakes for these types of bikes, and almost everything I own that is gravel/backroad/adventure bike category stuff is based around disc brakes. That said, I think cantilever brakes are just fine, and Mike has tweaked out the Monster Cross with a few geometry changes and a newer fork that I find rather tasty. It's tough not to want another Monster Cross here, but when you have as many bicycles as I do now, you have to be really picky. The whole deal would be a lot easier if I could just wear out my first BMC Monster Cross, but try as I might, I just have not been able to do that yet. I'll keep trying though!

One final thought before I stop here. I have ridden this bike more this year because my Winter shoulder injury has made riding some of my other bikes rather painful affairs. The BMC is less likely to cause issues with my shoulder, and I think the reason why is the ride quality of the frame and fork. That fork is especially active and smooths out the road tremendously. I cannot vouch for the updated fork, but you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer riding steel frame and fork than my Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Country Views: Turkey Burn Ride

I used to always hang with a few mountain biking friends and go up to Camp Ingawanis for a Turkey Burn ride after Thanksgiving. Many times it would end up being the last ride of the entire year! Usually I would not be able to ride single track due to it being covered in snow. Back in those days commercially available, complete fat bikes were not a thing yet, and gravel riding on icy gravel wasn't advisable. Boy! have things changed in the last five years!

Barren fields and dun colored ditches greeted me South of town.
Now there are no riders gathering for that Turkey Burn mtb ride, and the weather of late for this time of year has been snow-free. Fat bikes are a common place thing, and groomed fat bike trails adorn the Green Belt just a few measly blocks from my home. Cycling all year long is not only possible, but many do just that now.

Even at 3:00pm the shadows are long during this time of year in Iowa.
So, it wasn't until Saturday that I actually got out to ride. I was busy house cleaning and rearranging my workshop Friday all day long. A long overdue project, I might add! That said, I made great headway in getting organized and cleaned up. I still have a long way to go, but progress there feels good.

So, it wasn't until Saturday that the ride actually happened, but after lunch I got away for a while to see how things were out in the country.

With the fair weather we've had, farmers have many fields readied and waiting for Spring planting already. 
The barn at the corner of Griffith Road and Aker Road off in the distance.
The wind was out of the South so I left Waterloo and headed out Southwards to get the headwind portion of my ride over with first. It was sunny and in the low 50's, which is outstanding weather for this time of year. A little headwind wasn't going to ruin my attitude since a late November ride in sunshine is a rare treat. The roads were in pretty variable shape. There would be smooth, almost hard pack sections for a few miles then parts which were "normal" and then a few miles of deep, fresh chunky gravel.

I went down to a point I figured I could turn around at and still get home with plenty of time to beat the Sun going down. I had the wind at my back now, lights just in case, and a wind jacket packed away just in case the temperatures started to fall quickly.

Thankful for the great weather, my health, and an understanding family!
Well, I made it home well before the Sun set, but I realized then that I had left my keys at home, and my wife and kids had gone with a friend to catch a movie. Whoops! I sent a text explaining my predicament to my wife with the addition that I was willing to wait till they got home to be let in. How ever many hours that would be! Well, I guess I must have the best wife ever.

She borrowed the friend's car and came back to let me in!

I better not push my luck and forget my keys ever again though!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Minus Ten Review- 47

Another one that came and got away. Haro Mary XC.
Ten years ago on the blog I was writing about 29"ers coming in left and right, or so it seemed. I started out 2006 with two 29"ers, one that wasn't even built up yet, and ended the year with seven 29"ers! 

The one pictured here was my "thank you" from Haro/Mike Varley for doing that catalog writing for the Mary 29"ers. I screwed up big time when I was asked by Mike about what I wanted. The single speed version of the bike was almost an impossibility, since it was selling through and demand meant that maybe I would never see a frame and fork. I should have waited.  The other thing was that I asked for a size medium. I was such a doofus back then concerning what size bike I would need. It didn't help that I was on the cusp of either a Medium or Large size in many company's sizing schemes. I was often left to guess, and when the odds are 50-50, I typically lose. No matter what Bill Nye says about probability.

The other thing I see when I look at this image is that the frame and fork are on Jeff's old bench. We were finalizing the ideas behind Trans Iowa v3 at that time. Registration was just about to kick off at that time and recon was being done at about the same period as well. This marked a time in Trans Iowa history that was pretty critical. No more point to point courses. No more entry fees. didn't know Trans Iowa once had entry fees? Yes, for the first two years it did. We charged what we felt would cover the insurance fees to cover the event. Year one was easy, year two the fees doubled, and for year three, it was to be doubled again. We weren't prepared to charge one hundred bucks a head for the chance to ride in this crazy event. So, we went with advice we had gotten from the inception of Trans Iowa. No fee to ride.

Part of the T.I.v3 course
Speaking of Jeff, I finally got to ride mountain bikes with him during this time. I think we hit the trails twice during the Fall of '06. Both at Camp Ingawanis. It would be the only times we ever rode bicycles together, ironically. The next Spring Jeff was off to work with Ergon, where he has been ever since.

In other news, I heard solid rumors at this time in '06 that Fox was entering the 29"er fork market. This was huge. At that time, had no one like Fox jumped in with a truly legitimate option for 29"ers, the big wheeled bikes would likely have died off eventually. However; unbeknownst to me at the time, Trek put up the dollars to get a set of lowers made and an offset crown forged for their Gary Fisher line of 29"ers. Gary Fisher would have a one year exclusive on the Fox forks before everyone would be on board in the '09 model year.  

Interestingly, later on I also found out why 51mm was chosen as the offset for the Fox G2 geometry forks, and why this has been the offset that is most used on 29"er forks today. In speaking with Travis Brown at a Trek World event, he related to me that several offsets were tried in blind comparisons with riders located in several locations. In the end, all were convinced that one of the forks handled and performed the best. The one with 51mm of offset.

So, if you've ever wondered how that 51mm offset for forks on 29"ers was arrived at,now you know.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friday News And Views

Wet & Chilly
Waiting For The White Stuff:

Well, by the time you read this, we may already have some. It is in the forecast off and on nearly every day of late. Snow. It is coming sooner than later.

That said, there are 50 degree days forecast as well for the next few days. I'm planning on taking advantage of that for a few reasons. But I am not waiting for "good" weather to ride. Nope. I'm riding whenever I can.

Tuesday I rode in a cold, driving rain from work. Wednesday I rode in a chilly, wet, muddy aftermath of all that rain out on the gravel North of the city. Like the old saw goes: "There is no such thing as bad weather for cycling, just poor clothing choices." To a point, that's my philosophy. I do have my limits though! For instance, I don't ride if it is in the single digits with a double digit below zero wind chill, because, well.......that's stupid. There is no reason to do that since it becomes a huge risk to my health and even my life at that point. Plus, I don't have to ride. There are those poor souls who do tackle that stuff out of necessity. I see them from time to time.

Fall lasted so long that I am still fishing out my cold weather gear and putting summer garb aside. I suspect Winter will progress to a snowy mode sooner than it did last year, so the fat bike will soon be seeing duty.

Salsa Cycles Timberjack 27.5+ rig
Limited Time Engagement?

A certain undercurrent is rising concerning the B+/27.5+ wheels and tires for mountain biking. I've seen it mentioned in reviews and on forums, but I now see a big time media outlet saying it outright. 27.5+ is doomed.

If you pay attention to what folks are saying that have ridden these beasts, you know that tire pressure is a big, big deal. The reason for this is that big, voluminous tires will get squirmy if set too low and bouncy and hard if set too high with air pressure. Big deal, right? All tires will do that, right?

True, but when it comes to these tires, the 650B X 3 inchers, the air pressure changes are critical to getting the performance "right". A change of even 1psi can be drastic and make a wheel feel awesome, or like a marshmallow. Blame sidewall support, or to be more precise, the lack of it, for the issues being reported here. To get stiffer sidewalls, more material would have to be added to a tire's casing. That isn't desirable since it would dramatically increase the weight of the tire.

So, what's the solution? Well, it seems that the industry is wanting to pull back the 650B offerings to 2.5"-2.8" at the max. Basically, not plus sized. So, will the industry get what it wants and will there be riders that drive this? Maybe. I don't know. But it does bear watching.

Danged gizmos!
Sometimes You Get Lucky:

So, I've been dabbling in the gizmotronic side of cycling with this Lezyne Super GPS. It's okay. I'm not wowed or blown away, but it does a job and I can appreciate that. Everything so far has been somewhat trouble free. That is until last Wednesday.

I went for a ride and the Super GPS was working just fine. Speed, data, and time were being recorded. Then I got home. Whoops! Don't forget to turn it off!

See, this is the first step backward on these deals. You have to turn it on and off. Do you turn your CatEye Velo 9 on and off? No! You don't even think about that. It does that for you. So, what is the deal, techno freaks? Why should I have to suddenly start turning my device on and off? Weird.

Okay, rant over.... Kind of. See, I went to turn it off and you have to not only push a button, but you have to hold it for a couple of seconds. Again......really? This is better than before? Okay.... Back on track! I inadvertently pushed another button as I squeezed the off button. I heard an abbreviated sound, then......frozen screen! 

So, I have no idea that I had done anything wrong, and now the buttons did nothing! So, I tried hooking it up to the computer, but that resulted in nothing again. So, I was thinking maybe by running the battery down and then plugging it into the computer to recharge it might work, but who knows how long that it might take to drain the battery? I was foooling around with my son, while telling him about it, and I jokingly said, "Maybe I should just push ALL the buttons! Like this!", and I simultaneously pushed all four buttons.

It worked.

The computer turned off, and I could turn it back on again. So, I learned that much about this gizmo!

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend, y'all!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING from Guitar Ted Productions.

Here's hoping you all have a wonderful, safe, exciting Thanksgiving with loved ones, friends, and family.

Thanks for stopping by and reading here. I appreciate all of you for doing that. 

Now, get out there and pedal your bikes. It's time for some "turkey burnin'"! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Velo Orange Cigne Stem Review

My 2003 Karate Monkey with the Velo Orange Cigne Stem.
About two months ago now I bought a Velo Orange Cigne stem and stuck that on my 2003 Karate Monkey. The introductory post can be found HERE, so I won't go over a lot of that previously covered ground. Do hit that link to find out more about why this stem is important and what it does.

Right now I just want to give my overall impressions on this stem and whether or not I think it is something that should work for me in the long run. I have had plenty of time to tweak out the set up and I feel that now I have a pretty good idea of how this stem will work out for folks looking to convert a mountain bike to a drop bar set up.

First things first- I did end up swapping out the Origin 8 Gary Sweep Ergo OD Bars for the tried and true On One Midge Bars. At some point, I'll get to why that happened, but for now I am sticking to the stem. The saddle and seat post were also swapped out. With these significant changes the set up worked 100 times better. I bring this up because, as I have always thought, a bicycle is a "system" and one part change can often affect how a rider perceives other parts. The stem seems even better now than it did at first.

As far as how it works, the Cigne stem seems solid and I do not see any slippage or flex issues with the design at all. Actually, I find that somewhat amazing, given the leverage you can exert on handle bars when pushing out of the saddle, or when you are popping the front wheel up and over obstacles. The biggest benefit of this bar is how it positions the handle bar on a bike meant for a flat bar and "normal" stem. The bars end up being high enough by a long shot and definitely not too far out in terms of reach.

Conclusions: This stem is perfect for many retrofits of drop bars to mountain bikes. However; there is one type of hard tail I think this stem won't help, and that is any modern day, long front/center, slack angled hard tail. Any bike designed with this "modern trail geometry" and is meant for a stubby stem will be a difficult fit for a drop bar since even with a brilliant stem like the Cigne, the combination of reach with the stem and any drop bar will likely end up being too great for the best performance and intended handling traits.

If, however, you are working on something that was equipped with a 100mm or longer stem anyway, the Cigne Stem will benefit your drop bar conversion greatly. The rise will account for a shorter head tube and the minimal reach will allow for the reach on a drop bar to combine to be something usable and complimentary to the intended design. If you have an El Mariachi, as a for instance, you could get your Fargo type set up using this Cigne Stem. In my case, the Karate Monkey works well with this stem and handle bar conversion. Better than any other drop bar set up I have tried on this bike, and I've tried a lot of different set ups with this bike.

The stem seems to be stout enough and I don't find that it flexes in a way that is a detriment to the bike or the handling off road. So, I think it will be a keeper for my intentions and uses. Most folks should find it to be sturdy, but I probably wouldn't be putting it on a modern day hard tail or full suspension rig meant for a stubby stem. Wrong application, wrong fit. In my opinion, that isn't what this stem is for. It may also be a great choice for those with road or gravel bikes that want a tall handlebar set up without going to a stem extension.

NOTE- I bought the Velo Orange Cigne stem with my own damn money and was not paid nor bribed for this review. All statements are my own and may not reflect the opinions of Grant Petersen, Velo Orange, or anybody else on this planet. So there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Barren Days

Winter, which "officially" doesn't start for a month, is basically here now. Fall weather has left us and we are in that time that I call the "barren days". The days between Fall leaves and Winter snows where there is essentially little if anything that is still green and alive. Desert dwellers and those in arid places may not understand, but Iowa is about the greenest place you've ever seen in the growing season. In fact, if you do not like the color green, do not visit or live here. You'll hate it. There isn't much of anything here that isn't green in Spring and Summer unless you look up at the blue skies.

Black and white images actually work well this time of year.
It is hard on folk here, actually. Truth be known, I think many get depressed at this point. The scenery surely doesn't help, nor does the lack of Sunlight, or the low angle of light. It all conspires to be a big downer for many. If you are one of these people, please find someone to talk to. Please......

In the meantime, I still try to get out and ride. Following are some black and white images that convey my slightly depressed nature at this point in the year. Yes......even I get that way. 

Getting out and riding actually helps me. Sitting around the house, being moody and sullen doesn't help me. I need to get out and breathe fresh air and move. I need every ounce of Sunshine I can soak in when I have the chance.

So, if you find yourself feeling down, don't think you are all alone. We're out here feeling it too. Give someone a chance to get to talk to you. Express what you are feeling. It isn't just you.

And if you know someone that isn't being quite themselves, please invest some time to sit with them and find out what is up. Just a small effort to conect could mean so much.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sooner Or Later?

Riding into the future or off to the sunset?
I remember several years ago that I had a Facebook message-fest with a rider that had the opinion that the "gravel scene" was going to change fundamentally due to the influx of "competitive road racers" who would bring in a different feel to gravel events. There would be no more of the "gentleman's" rules and there may even come a time when "real rules" and governing bodies would wiggle into the gravel road racing scene.

I also see stories in mainstream cycling media stating that the downturn in the American road racing scene is a big issue that needs to be addressed. One of the several ways suggested to bolster that ailing racing scene is to tap into the burgeoning gravel road racing scene. It is no secret that USAC has already taken a hard look at this and is already trying to woo promoters over to their ways and means of doing things.

As I sit and contemplate these things on a chilly late November evening, I am happy to say that the predictions of the inevitable fall of the gravel racing scene into a similar morass that the road racing scene seems to find itself in has not materialized. I am happy to see that the tentacles of governing bodes and sanctioning have not reached into the heart of the gravel racing scene and ripped its heart out.  I am sure that there are those that feel it is a "sooner rather than later" situation. That at some point, yes, even gravel racing will be found to be as rotten for many as other forms of racing seem to be. Maybe for a few it already is there.

A "family reunion" at Gravel Worlds registration at Cycle Works in Lincoln, NE.
I guess I have held back from writing about this for a while, mostly because I feel a bit too close to gravel racing and riding. Of course I am biased. Why wouldn't I be? But then I am reminded that I have been around the rise of this scene since the beginning of it all and I have paid particular attention to it all along. Some folks call me names that infer that I am some sort of "father" to this deal. I don't say that about myself, and maybe I downplay it, but according to some folks I have a say in this. So here are my thoughts.......

In my humble opinion, there isn't any reason to believe that the gravel racing and riding scene will end up getting to the point that road racing finds itself in now. How can I say this? Well, there were signs, and still are signs, that gravel road racing, at any rate, is an experience that many promoters understand intimately. Because of that they offer that same experience to others. That resonates with riders and since this is the case, we see things like the Land Run 100 selling out 1000 spots to its 2017 event in two hours and twenty minutes. We see things like the Dirty Kanza 200 selling out in hours as well, with 2000 riders total. The demand to have the chance to be part of the "family" and have a social and physical experience, the likes of which is not offered by any other form of cycling, is still on the rise. Obviously it is. That much is fact.

The people involved are what makes it work like it does. (Image courtesy of C. Parsons)
This is why other forms of cycling may be seeing declining numbers. This may explain why road racing seems to be having a tough go. It is maybe why articles about USAC are being published that are stating losses in revenue. I see the gravel road rides and gravel road races being a very different experience than other forms of organized cycling events.

 People come to these gravel based cycling events and they know they will be accepted. They know that there isn't a hierarchy based upon classes, points, categories, or what have you. People understand that you can show up on a Schwinn Collegiate converted to single speed and get the same amount of respect and acceptance as a guy on the latest Open Cycles UP rig. People understand that if you need help out on the course, someone, or five, will offer you assistance. In the gravel scene, there basically is only one rule. That is, "Don't be a dick", to put it bluntly. It seems to have been a widely accepted, respected, and followed rule, as far as I can tell.

There is also a social element to the gravel road racing scene that may be as big a part for many as the riding itself. At the gravel race, you simply do not just show up and ride. You come early to mingle and stay late to swap stories over adult beverages. Many events foster this by offering pre-race events, days ahead of the riding in some cases, and often post race gatherings. Some will offer the rider both. The chance to interact with fellow riders, (I wouldn't go so far as to say "competitors", because that isn't the case), will forge new friendships and reunite old friends in a way that I haven't seen in other competitive cycling events.

 I think it also must be mentioned that gravel races or rides don't require special, hard to create, hard to get to venues. Most places have roads where the surfaces are unpaved and the traffic counts are super low. That has made the creation of routes and rides easy to do. Trying to set up a road race, criterium, or even to find a good venue for mountain bike events is much more difficult to do, in my opinion. 

As long as promoters and riders still "get it", gravel racing and riding will be around a long time.
So, while road racing seems to be in decline here, and governing bodies scramble to find ways to rejuvenate their reason for being, the gravel scene is thriving. I think if the pundits in the media and those in the industry of structured cycling governance were to be completely honest with themselves they would easily agree that the rise in gravel road riding and racing was, in part, a reaction to what they stand for by common riders. The folks that are looking to escape a multitude of rules, structure that seems arbitrary, and escaping from paying fees that seem to not bring the riders any real value, are attracted to the gravel scene. There they find no license fees, no arbitrary categories, and the rules are basic and easily understood. There is a challenge to this type of cycling that is new, exciting, and pushes riders to discover new things about themselves, others, and their world. Places to hold these events are easily obtained and easy to get to.  There is the chance to ride all day with like minded folks, enjoy camaraderie, and make new friends over a beer afterward, or beforehand. I just don't think that traditional modes of cycling offer such things.

There may come a day when the whole deal fades away, gets "ruined" by something or another, or is superseded by something else we haven't discovered yet on two wheels. But until that day comes, I don't think we need to worry too much about this form of cycling getting sullied by things like too many sanctions or what have you. As long as the promoters and the riders "get it", this scene will keep kicking up dust for years to come.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Trans Iowa v13: Special Request

A while ago I asked that all registered Rookies respond by e-mail and get me a way to contact you via e-mail for future Trans Iowa communications. I am happy to report that most of the Rookies were very prompt and considerate in responding quickly. (THANK YOU! )

However; I have seven individuals who either are not paying attention or are too busy to bother with my request. Not sure what the deal is. So, today I am asking for help in getting these seven individuals to respond to me by Thanksgiving Day this coming Thursday.

If I do not hear from these folks by then, I will be left with no other alternative but to strike their names from the roster. I really don't want to have to do that, and I am betting they don't want that either. So, if you know any of these folks, please let them know that they need to respond by Thursday this coming week or they will be out of T.I.v13. Call them, e-mail them, send a smoke signal, I don't care, but my efforts to reach them are falling on deaf (digital) ears, apparently.

 All Present And Accounted For!! THANKS!!

  • Stephen Gaston
  • Ethiene Narvaez
  • Timothy Winterlin
  • Sheldon Thompson
  • Ian Wilkey
  • Luke Brager
  • Terri Collins

Minus Ten Review- 46

Can you believe this was Ingawanis Woodlands?
Ten years ago on the blog I wrote about my experience at what is now Ingawanis Woodlands with Mike Reimer and Jason Boucher then both of Salsa Cycles. I wrote last week that it was the "second big honor" of that week back then. It was only second because of the time when it occurred, not because it was in some way less than the other thing.

Anyway, check out this image. Those of you who now ride Ingawanis Woodlands may not recognize this at all. This was a service road that ran near to the perimeter of the parcel of land which then was known as the South Side of Camp Ingawanis, and before that, it was the Girl Scouts of America camp portion of Camp Ingawanis.

All that is left of this service road is a portion that runs straight back off of the gravel road to the South end of the property. However; ten years ago, the trails crossed this road at four different points along the way. If you really pay attention, you can see where this was yet today. However; I am willing to bet that unless you've been riding there since before the big logging days, you won't know about this road, which is now choked off with underbrush.

Speaking of the "big logging days", when a company came in and took tons of trees out of both sides of Ingawanis, you also probably didn't get to ride out there when the canopy of trees was such that you were in darkness nearly 2/3rds of the time you were riding out there. I can remember one particular ride when I was out there riding as it was raining. The tree cover was so thick that I never got wet, and the trail, for the most part, stayed completely dry. You couldn't get that ride in today. You'd get soaked. So many trees were logged off, and others lost in various wind storms since then.

The '07 Mamasita from Salsa Cycles.
So, back to that ride ten years ago. That was the day that a lucky few of us got to experience the Mamasita. This was the end of what I would call the first generation of 29"er geometry and development. It was the extreme example of the cycling industries use of then current day technology in an effort to get 29"ers to "handle like 26"ers.

For instance, it was understood that the trail measurement of the front end of 29"ers needed to be "shorter" in order to get "quicker" (unstable) handling like 26"ers had. The only way to do that in 2006 was to steepen the head angle of the frame. Fork offset was "frozen" by years of dogged adherence to "NORBA geometry" for 26"ers at 38mm. Every fork manufacturer used this offset. There were no other choices. So, Salsa decided to steepen the head angle to compensate on the first Mamsitas to a whopping 73° degrees! It worked in one way. However; it made it so that the Reba suspension fork wanted to bend backward, instead of slide on its bushings and compress. The head angle was too steep.

Trek/Gary Fisher working with Fox effectively ended this nonsense the following year when the first Fox 29"er forks came out with a generous 51mm of offset for 29"ers and 46mm of offset for 26'ers. The fork crown forgings now existed to give designers more ways to utilize a better combination of offset, head angle, and wheel size to give us the "slack/long" geometries we see today on trail bikes. 29"ers brought this to reality.

That was quite a ride back in '06, and looking back on it, it was first and foremost a beginning of new friendships. It was secondly a moment in mountain biking history that I got to taste and see. Thirdly, it marked the beginnings of the riding in Ingawanis Woodlands on a regular basis and was a time that cannot again be repeated due to the changes out there.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday News And Views

Based upon Gary Cale's T.I.v4 entrance card
This Could Be A Thing:
Trans Iowa has been something that has ended up becoming a lot more than a gravel road race for many of us. Some folks are actually prompted to get creative with the event, which most generally involves the traditional post card entry, but it is not limited to that. The pictured artwork today is based upon just such an example. This was based mostly on a post card sent in for T.I.v4 by Gary Cale.

With Mr. Cale's blessing, I have been allowed to make use of this artwork for a project. In the years since T.I.v5, t-shirts celebrating the event have been produced. Not for every year, but for many of those years, I have seen or I have in my possession t-shirts depicting different T.I. headers or whatnot. In fact, I am pretty sure Mr. Cale sent me a rendition of this image, which I'll have to dig around for.

Earlier this Fall I posted the card Mr. Cale sent in on Facebook and it got a pretty big response.  So, I figured it might prove to be a popular t-shirt with the riders. This image is the plan, as of now, for the t-shirt that every Trans Iowa v13 rider will get that shows up in April. You won't be able to buy these. It will be a gift from Trans Iowa to everyone that manages to toe the line.

Maybe that will motivate y'all to train and make it to Grinnell in April?

Anyway, it is something fun and a good limited edition treasure that will tell the world at large you are a true gravel grinding nutcase. I mean that in the best possible way. Really.

Now, this could change. If I notice a big, negative reaction, I can always go with the header icon from the site. But y'all will have to let me know what ya think. Good? Not good? Indifferent? Hit me with a comment.

Stay tuned for more soon........

Grippy. Shifty. 11 speedy.
Upgrade For The Kid:

I've been slowly dealing with an upgrade for my son's fat bike. I was trying him out on a 2X 10 set up, but this whole front derailleur thing just throws his brain a curve ball. He gets the rear shifter just fine, but he has never really gotten the idea through his head that there is a granny gear and that it can make hills easier. So, why beat a dead horse? There are other ways to get him something that rewards him more than the 2X set up he has now.

So, I've had this XD Driver'ed rear wheel that I just got a GX cassette for, but I need a grip shift style shifter, because that is what the young man prefers. So I hopped online to do some investigative Grip Shifter research. What I found was a bit surprising.

I was under the impression that actual twisty shifterage for 11 speed SRAM cassettes was going to be ultra expensive. I found out that now you can get NX level Grip Shift and so that's the next big purchase for the son's fat bike.

It's all in the name.......well, that and TRACTION ACTION!

That Name:

I need a better rear tire for the Ti Mukluk and I have it narrowed down to two choices. The Bontrager Barbegazi or the Terrene Tires Wazia. As of right now, I think the Wazia looks more like what I am looking for. 

What gives with these weird names though? Barbegazi? Wazia? I know that they both have backgrounds that sorta make sense, but.....really? 


It sounds like the exhaust note of a two stroke motorcycle engine at full song to me.  Anyway, besides the odd sounding name, the Wazia looks a bit more friendly from the commuting angle and it looks to have a ton of traction, which would be handy on my varied surface commute in Winter. 

Whatever I choose, I'd better get it done soon. The weather is definitely changing. Winter is making its presence known!  

That's all for this week. get out and ride if you can!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Dinglespeed Ramble

Checking out those Jones Bars.
I usually do this ride every Fall that entails going out to the Green Belt and single speeding the length of it out and back. I've done this ride every year for........ I don't even know. Maybe fifteen years? Maybe more. I can't say.

Well, I just hadn't gotten around to it yet. I've usually bagged this ride by mid-October, but not this year, for whatever reason. Didn't have the time or, most likely, I was just into the gravel more. Then a couple things changed.

The first was that I got some Carbon Jones 710 Loop Bars. I was anxious to get out to try them. The thing that pushed me over the edge though was the recent discovery of a fire place/chimney out in the Green Belt that I didn't know was there. New York Roll, a local cyclist, found it. He posted about it on social media Monday in conjunction with a "Super Moon" ride he had planned. Well, he let on to me the location of the ruins, so I went out mainly to see that. Trying the Jones Bar was a side benefit!

The Green Belt is getting really dried out. We had that flood in late September and ever since then it has been pretty sparse on the rain. You can really tell it now as well. Black Hawk Creek is as low as I've seen it all year. The ground is so dry it is rock hard, so the trails were rough except for where there was a lot of sand.

Slow motion eating
It was a great afternoon out on the Green Belt. The Jones bars work really well for me. Great feel and a really natural fit with my hands, arms , and shoulders. I found the ruins of the fireplace. That was cool. I even ran into New York Roll and we chatted a bit. A perfect late Fall day that I am sure is near to the last one for the year. Things are forecast to take a turn for the colder this weekend and I doubt I'll be able to ride without a jacket again until late next Spring.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bikes Of 2016: Twin Six Standard Rando

Used quite a bit this year.....
The time of year has come that I will be reviewing the bikes I used the most throughout 2016 and why. The ups, downs, changes, and more will be discussed. 

 Twin Six Standard Rando: This bike was a review bike for last year and I liked it so much I purchased it. I reviewed it in this series last year here. I still really like it, but there were two rather significant changes which made the bike really special this year. 

First was the switch to 650B wheels. I had the opportunity to test the WTB Horizon 47's this year, but I lacked a proper wheel set to do that with. Velocity USA came to the rescue with a set of Aileron rims laced to their own branded hubs.  Once the wheels and tires were set up, I put them on my Raleigh Tamland Two first. However; I switched them over to the Standard Rando after a while. I then discovered that the ride feel with 650B, "Road Plus" rubber was pretty compelling. The Standard Rando got lowered, felt smoother, and spun up ridiculously fast with these wheels and tires. I really had no reason to swap out that tire until a more fully featured 650B, "Road Plus" tire came along, and it did in the form of the Terrene Elwood 650B X 47mm tires. Now I am liking this wheel/tire combo even more with this bike. 

The second thing was the swap to a Brooks Cambium C-17 saddle. I had heard mixed reviews on this newer Brooks model, but my good friend, MG, had five of them, so I knew there was something to the hype. Well, it wasn't love at first ride, by any means. 

The C-17 felt stiff and a bit unforgiving. Even after a couple of gravel outings. I was about to consider how I was going to pawn it off when after the third longer ride it suddenly became super comfortable.  The compliance was 100% better than when new. Even co-workers were surprised when I rode the bike into work and we compared another new C-17 we had in stock with my broken in C-17. Night and day difference. The saddle has been primo ever since then. 

I mentioned last year that the stem, handle bar, and seat post were apt to get changed, and I still mean to get to that. However; other than a swept bar, I cannot see those things really making the bike better. The wheels, tires, and saddle have just been a major improvement. The ride quality has been enhanced, and the only negative is that I have had a few pedal strikes due to the lowered bottom bracket. 

The Aileron rims have been really great so far. I may pick up a 700c sized set and swap the bigger diameter  tires in  from time to time. That would be nice when I need a higher bottom bracket or the characteristics of a 700c set of wheels over that of a 650B, "Road Plus" set up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ghost Rider Gear

"Vizikability" is super important
You know that as a cyclist on roads that being safe means being visible. To many cyclists, this has become an important thing to achieve. For many companies, their marketing focuses entirely on visibility for cyclists. So, you've got your blinkies, your flashing head lights, your day-glo wear, and even lasers for your rearguard. There is a bewildering array of products focused on keeping cyclists visible.

Of course, none of that really matters if the distracted driver is looking at their "device", whatever that may be. That's an entirely different deal.

When/if drivers are actually paying attention, you can do a lot of things to help yourself be more visible anytime of the day or night. I just got something which is oriented toward being visible at night. Typically, if we're focusing on garments, that means bright, "safety green" or "Day-Glo" yellow stuff with lots of ScotchBrite or other reflective panels.  Great stuff for the nighttime, but maybe you are not into looking like a DOT road worker when you are at the local watering hole, shopping at the grocery store, or when you ride in the daytime. Yeah.....some folks are "safety yellow 24-7" freaks. But I, for one, think that's just plain silly. Color of garment, in the daytime at least, isn't going to reach eyeballs like a LED flashing light will. Anywho......

This Refleckt 360° jacket I just got in on test for from ProViz is unique in that they have five "normal' colors available, but the minute light hits the fabric in the dark, it glows and you look like your are some ethereal spirit of the netherworld.

Possible para-normal activity in front of Guitar Ted Laboratories. Image by Jacob Stevenson
I think my flashy blue ghost-like visage scooting down the road might attract a bit of attention.


Anyway, it can't hurt, and as long as the jacket actually works, (not "garbage-bag-like, doesn't fall apart, wards off the precip), then I think it is a worthwhile idea. It is made well, as far as I can tell at this point. It has weather-proof zippers, a nice, high, fleece lined collar which has proven to be "beard friendly" so far. No snagging on a zipper or scratchy feelings to report there. The jacket has a "cycling cut", which is to say that it feels best when you are riding. Short front/long tail sort of cut to the hem. No hood, so there may be a negative for some of you.

The jacket was packed up with another garment, which I requested for testing. Bib tights. Man......I hate regular tights. They just do not work well, or feel comfortable to me. I gotta have me some bib tights! So, ProViz sent out the "Pixelite" bib tights with a bunch of "reflectomatic" panel construction for more high-viz action at night. Note- those are some high tech terms there from my own cranium. You may or may not be on board with that. Officially, the Pixelite bibs have a performance fit, are windproof, water-repellent, and.....highly breathable. (You knew that last one was coming, right?) Oh.....and they really do have reflective performance fabric at strategic places. That's true right there.

So, we'll see how it goes. I'll wear this stuff at night, maybe in the rain if the forecast holds up for Friday, and in the colder weather if what they say is correct for Saturday. Then we'll know what's up with this stuff.

Stay tuned.....

NOTE: ProViz sent out these garments at no charge for test/review. I am not being paid nor bribed for these thoughts and opinions.

Monday, November 14, 2016


Loaded up with clothes to donate to Goodwill
Saturday was the second time I was able to use the Big Dummy in a loaded capacity. Basically it was the same mission as before, a big ol' load of clothing we didn't need anymore that I carted down to Goodwill. This time I took along my son, Jacob, and he got to ride his new to him fat bike.

Once everything was cinched down the ride was pretty easily done. I keep coming back to my previous XtraCycle/Schwinn mountain bike experiences. The Big Dummy just blows me away with how well it rides loaded down. It handles weight easily with no hint of twist or lateral instability at all. The disc brakes are perfect for the job, obviously, so no comparison at all there.

I pumped up the tires more this time though and ran 35psi rear and about 33psi front. That seemed to be perfect. The bike was a bit of a chore to get moving initially, but all that momentum could be utilized to keep the rig moving along with little extra effort if you understand how to conserve momentum. I guess I must understand that, since I never broke a sweat riding to the Goodwill drop off, despite having to climb some hills at an interminably slow speed due to my son's lack of climbing skills.

Rest stop to feed the bonking boy.
I think he was lacking in the horsepower department due to his underestimating me as I warned him that morning about eating enough for breakfast. He didn't heed my advice and was paying the price. I decided to pull into a convenience store along the way and resupply him with something to eat. It was the right thing to do as he came alive not long afterward.

So, the clothes got dumped off and we made it back home okay. The Big Dummy will be getting more calls in the future for hauling duties, but I did do one thing on the ride Saturday that was a bit of an eye-opener.

There is a dike along the Black Hawk Creek that is pretty steep. In fact, it is the dike I have gone sledding with my son on several times in the past. Anyway, I set the crankset to "granny" and climbed right up it without spinning out the rear wheel, which I was not going to be surprised by if it did happen. Then I pointed the sled downhill and it tracked well, but for a slight tendency for the rear wheel to want to lock up. Not surprising there since I was unloaded and the rear wheel is way behind the rider.  So, this bike can do mountain biking! Well, if it weren't for the fact that you pretty much have to crawl up and over any obstacles in your way. You are not going to launch the front end up and over stuff with this rig, especially if it is loaded down.

I'm pretty stoked to have gotten this bicycle now and I think it will become a very useful tool in the stable going forward. I look forward to more "loaded" adventures in the near future!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trans Iowa v13: Announcement For The Rookie Class

Attention Rookie Riders For Trans Iowa v13:

As you know, your registration details did not include a request for your e-mail address. However; many of you thoughtfully added that anyway. To you, I say Thank You!. Your added information will be enough for now, but read on!

Those that did not include an e-mail on their card are listed below. You need to send me an e-mail @

This will be important! I will be sending out important race related information at a later date that you will need to respond to. Without an e-mail, I will obviously not be assured that you have received the upcoming important information I will have for you. So, if your name is on the list below, I will need to hear from you ASAP. As e-mails are received, I will delete names from this list.

By the way, ALL T.I.v13 riders will be getting the information I allude to above in an upcoming e-mail. So, stay tuned. I will get that out to you as soon as I can get my ducks in a row on my end.

Also: If You Cannot Attend T.I.v13 For Any Reason, Please Send Me A Note ASAP!! This is super important for me as all race related expenses come out of my pocket and I need to not waste a cent or any efforts on folks who, for whatever reasons, cannot attend Trans Iowa v13. Thanks for your consideration.

Now for the list:
  • Stephen Gaston
  • Ethiene Narvaez
  • Timothy Winterlin
  • Sheldon Thompson
  • Ian Wilkey
  • Luke Brager
  • Terri Collins

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Minus Ten Review- 45

Wow! An actual image from 2006! The first C'Dale 29"er model.
Ten years ago on the blog I was honored in two very special ways. The first was that our Cannondale Rep at the time, Evan Sayre, was kind enough to get me a demo bike which was the first Cannondale 29"er model, the Caffeine F-29. He didn't have to do that, and especially after I had given him no end of grief for C'Dale's lack of a 29"er model for a few years prior to this.

Thanks again, Evan, if you read this.

Anyway, the bike was actually pretty cool. It was my first experience with a Lefty front "strut". (Please do not call a Lefty a "fork") It worked really well. The hidden gem at the time was that the Lefty used a huge, (for the time) offset on the fork, which made the bike handle really well. It pointed to our current state of 29"ers that utilize the offset first promoted by the Gary Fisher Bikes company in their "G-2" geometry, which was 51mm. 

The Caffeine F-29 was a really great first effort, and the only real negative was rear tire clearances. Otherwise it was quite nice, actually. Look at the stem on that thing though! Looooong! Certainly not the fashion of the day now.

The second great honor I was to experience was that Jason Boucher and Mike Reimer of Salsa Cycles (at that time) coming down to ride with me. That was a messed up trip due to bad weather that came the day of the planned ride at Sugar Bottom. It started out with rain, then turning to snow. We ended up riding at the South Side of the Camp, (Now Ingawanis Woodland), and that was the first time I really explored that side of the Boy Scout Camp up there. I remember Miker saying that the place could end up having some spectacular trails. He had a clear vision of that, as today Ingawanis Woodland has become a destination riding venue for mountain bikers from the area and beyond. I'll talk about the South Side more in next week's "Minus Ten Review".

But the biggest deal coming out of that time with Jason and Miker was that I became friends with those two guys and that was a bonus that I forever will be thankful for. Looking back on 2006, it was a pivotal year for me and relationship making that lasts right up to this day.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Friday News And Views

Dang it! I hate when cool new frames are offered! (Bike Acquisition Syndrome kicking in!)
Advocate Cycles Announces Limited Edition Hayduke to Benefit IMBA:

There are some really great bicycles and frame sets out there these days. So when you see news of something new, it kind of goes without saying that much of the stuff I see is "just another bike". More "same-ol-same-ol", same deal, different day sort of feeling. However; there are those bicycles and frames that, for whatever reason, just jump out at me and make my knees go wobbly. The newest effort from Advocate Cycles has done just that.

So, what is it? This is a Hayduke with a special paint job honoring IMBA. In fact, 100% of the money from each Hayduke IMBA Special goes to support IMBA. (Side Note- Super cool, Topeak-Ergon Racing Team member and former mtb Pro racer, Dave Weins just became IMBA's new board chairman.)

I really was attracted to the wildest paint jobs on steel frames back in the early 90's. I recall Team Fat Chance bikes being some of those favorites in that vein, but there were others. This Hayduke just transports me back to the days when mountain biking was about fun and escaping reality. Not that it isn't that for many today, but that's pretty much all it was about back in the day. Anyway, that crazy paint job just takes me right back to the feelings I had about mountain biking in the early days of my enjoying the sport. Oh.......and I hear this isn't a bad riding bike as well. $800.00USD and the frame is yours. Tooooo tempting! Ahhhhhh!!!!


Gizmotron Update: 

I've been using the new Lezyne Super GPS off and on while learning the ropes behind the thing. Frankly.......I don't get the appeal. Yeah, you can do this, that, and the other thing, but it is all pretty meaningless drivel unless you have to follow a GPS track, which I'd get along just fine without.

It's probably just me. I know this because so many folks are hooked on Strava, looking at elevation gains, max speed, time over distance, power, yada, yada, yada. I guess I am really just a retro-grouch.

Okay, I suppose I should just focus on the positives. It has an accurate clock. I like that. It tracks mileage very well. It tracks your speed, which can be useful at times. (Just not under heavier tree cover, because then the speed indicator goes wonky.) You can make cool designs with the GPS bread crumb ride tracker, like geometric patterns, dog faces, or you could write someone's name, if you were industrious and so inclined. Otherwise it seems to be a big distraction from enjoying the ride for the ride that you are on. You remember riding for the joy of it, don't you? Do we really need more than that?

Well, being able to move it from bike to bike is nice. That's really the biggest reason I got it. I can swap it from one bike to another within a minute. Easy-peasy. So, I saved money in terms of not having to outfit ten bicycles with computers so I can keep track of my mileage over the course of a year. Not that I do that. I don't, but I do like to know how far a particular ride I might do is. That's all, really.

That said, I'll keep probing away and trying this new gizmotronical way of cycling. More soon......

Alternate (Easier) Paths:

Trail "sanitization" is an issue that plagues many a trail system and this local area has suffered from that sort of activity since I've been riding off road around here. Take George Wyth State Park, for example. Years of cutting corners, lenzing out low spots, and outright rerouting of trails has made that area less rad than it was back in the 90's. That's a fact. It's a constant battle, I am sure, even up to this day out there.

Well, over here in the Green Belt we've had so much erosion due to the unruly Black Hawk Creek's many out of banks experiences that trail changes are generally forced due to.......well, lack of Earth! The trail actually gets washed away.

There is one spot though that, if you remembered your Green Belt history, has always been a ditch you had to cross. Well, there was the five or so years that a cement culvert was there and covered with gravel. That got removed.....washed away? Something happened to it. Anyway, it is gone now again, and someone figured that to make it so it was easier, there would be a bit of a trail extension put in.

Bah! I'm not having anything to do with it. That ditch has been there since 1989, for sure, and probably long before that. The trail has always crossed over it at the point I show in the image above. So you have to do a little scrambling to get across?


It only adds to the adventure, in my opinion. The Green Belt is pretty much a cream puff of a trail, when it comes to technical difficulties, so why take out one of the coolest, toughest spots by making a reroute, that is across the same ditch further up, and probably will erode to depths similar to what we have had back at the original crossing spot. Heck, you already have two other spots you have to dismount and tip toe across water on stepping stones to get across, what's a bit of a ditch? Sheesh!

That's all for today. Have a great weekend and ride those bicycles!