Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Ahead

Now that this year is done I am going to take stock and look at what may be happening here on the blog going into 2017. It is always a dangerous thing to do that, since from the beginning of this blog I have hinted at and predicted its end several times. Guess what? I am not saying or hinting at that again this time. But, it could all end, ya know.

Me and this cement elephant have no idea why I have a glove hanging from my mouth.
Weirder things have happened. I do agree though that I have no idea what will happen this coming year. Heck, there are a lot of things I don't know. Really. I do know that there will be endings. There will be beginnings. That much is a given, but what those might be, I have no idea.

I can only say that I have been on somewhat of a mission these past six years or so to start to let go of things. I am a firm believer that good changes won't come as long as you have a tight grip on what you have now. I have not been all that successful at letting some things go, (Trans Iowa), while I have been able to let go of some other stuff, (The Cyclistsite, Twenty Nine Inches), and that has been a very liberating thing. Letting go of some things like that and more has given me the opportunity to get on board with and that has suited me to a "T" so far.

But what of this blog? I've been at it for over a decade. Is it getting old? Has its time been here and gone? Well, if the feedback I've gotten in 2016 is any indication, then the clear answer is "no", it is not past due to go away. Not yet anyway.

So, expect a near daily dosage of blog activity just like I have been doing until further notice. Again- anything can happen, so I am not going to promise you that in 2018 I'll still be pounding the keyboard, but that is the plan as I can see it. Of course, I thank you, the readers, for giving me part of the reason to keep going. I thank you for stopping by, checking out the gab here, and I really appreciate any and all feedback. Keep it coming!

Happy New Year! I wish you all health, happiness, and love this coming year for you and yours. Thanks for reading!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Bikes Of 2016: Surly 1X1

Visiting a friend on December 22nd 2016
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.

The Surly 1X1 has been written up a bunch here on the blog over the past two years, so I won;t rehash all of that. I will say that this bike has become what I had envisioned back in 2014 when I received it as a frame a fork from its previous "keeper". That is, a "bar bike", townie, errand running, commuter rig.

I wanted a bike not easy to steal, so it has bolt on hubs and it is a single speed, which makes it less attractive to youngsters who don't know better. I installed fenders so I could ride it in crappy weather. I have fat tires set up tubeless that are easily maintained and ride very well.

It has served me in all my needs that I had envisioned for it very well. I couldn't be happier. For what it is, the 1X1 is really about as good as it gets. I could put a rear rack on it, and that might expand the capabilities a tad, but then again, I have a Big Dummy for carrying stuff, so this one gets the "light duty" jobs I can handle with a messenger bag or rucksack.

I really should get rid of the quick release seat collar and install a bolt on one, which I probably have lurking around here somewhere, but I haven't gotten around to that just yet. I also probably should look at replacing the drive train bits. I want to slap on a white industries free wheel, a new chain, and a Surly stainless steel ring. I maybe should do new brakes on this thing too. I have better ones that I can actually put "real" brake pads on.

But other than that, I have been well served once again by this bike during most of 2016, and while you don't see a lot of it here on the blog, I ride this bike a lot throughout the year.

Friday News And Views

How much longer will we see category expanding, experimental marketing bikes like this?
2016 was a rough year in the cycling industry and most of that was due to an over-supply issue in the industry coupled with a downturn in growth of the market. Pressure from various sources on the traditional bike shop retailer were also to blame for a less than good showing for the year. The fall out from 2016 will be felt well into 2017. What will we see? It is hard to say, but here is some speculations on my part. Things I feel will be the effects of what we saw going on during this past year.
  • Contraction of brands: I think we are going to see some more consolidation in the marketplace. Some brands may go away, but I think some others will be eaten up by investment firms and conglomerates eager to add a brand with a marketable name. We're going to see some radical changes in 2017 and beyond with regard to how we perceive certain brands going forward.  
  • Changes in how we buy: This has been happening for a few years, but I feel that now we are going to see it accelerate in pace. There are a couple of brands that have already shown their hand as to the future of bicycle sales for many brands and Canyon Bikes will also be a big influencer on this as well. They are supposed to be selling direct to consumer in the US starting this coming Spring. Canyon does not sell through the traditional bike shop model and is on par with the best brands we have here in the US. We haven't seen anything like this here. How will traditional retailers like Trek and Specialized react? 
  • Contraction of choices: I think part of how the market will go in 2017 and beyond is that we will start seeing certain kinds of bicycles go away. There already have been hints at this in the media. The "next best thing" style of marketing is not working, and what it has done is that it has caused a flooding of choices in a short period of time. The consumer is inundated with choices, many of which are confusing and misunderstood. Think about how long it took folks to catch on to 29"ers, as an example. The market cannot wait to find out if plus bikes or full suspension fat bikes will gradually catch on in similar fashion. Expect things on the fringes to get weeded out.
Your next bike shop?

  • More Mobile Bike Shops: There are fewer bicycle shops in "brick and mortar" form every year. This has led to an issue where many smaller villages and towns do not have service for bicycles at all. Customers often have to travel for hours to find a shop in Iowa, for example. In bigger urban areas, people are pressed for time and a service which will make your bicycling service needs more convenient may be of great appeal. Velofix, a mobile bike shop company, just sold the rights to the entire state of Minnesota to a franchisee. This is the tip of the iceberg. While I do not foresee a huge impact upon traditional bike shops in major urban areas, I think that more rural areas may see the mobile bike shop as the only option going forward. I expect mobile bike shops will become a huge force in medium to smaller sized cities and towns going forward. 
  • E-Bike marketing will increase: You are going to see a HUGE push by the industry to get you to ride an, motorcycle, in the coming year. The industry cannot imagine that you won't want one of these things. They have been getting the media to go ga-ga over e-mountain bikes all throughout 2016 and I expect more of the same nonsense to occur in the future. Sooner or later this house of cards will fall though. Look- prices for e-bikes are far more expensive than for traditional bikes. Traditional, non-pedal equipped scooters are already selling at similar prices to e-bikes and have greater range and versatility right now. Once government gets their hands on licensing these motorized bicycles, the end will come faster than a bolt of lightning. In my opinion, the only advantage to e-bikes is that they are a motorized vehicle that escapes the need for license and insurance requirements. Otherwise, a lightweight, easy to pedal, comfortable bike trumps the e-bike for ease of portability, personal satisfaction in overcoming challenges without motorized assistance, and in ease of maintenance and initial price. 
Okay folks, that's my wrap on News and Views for 2016 with a look at the future from my view. Have a Happy and Safe New Year and a healthy, fun, adventurous 2017!!

Minus Ten Review- 52

Jeff Kerkove ride announcement. These were the best!
Ten years ago on the blog I was doing then what I do now- retrospective posts on the year. Big surprise, eh? Ha! There was a ride announcement I posted though, which I know many locals might recall. The Jeff Kerkove gravel grinder rides of yore were legendary for their graphic designed announcements done by Jeff himself. The one from ten years ago is shown here at the left.

I find it ironic that Jeff is now sponsored by Gu Energy. His latest fat bike race win was written up for Gu here. I bet Jeff never dreamed that ten years after he winged out this ride announcement that he'd be where he is, still winning races and writing up a bit for Gu Energy. Crazy!

So, here's an idea for Gu, in case anyone reading this knows anyone there, or if someone from Gu Energy just happens to see this. Gu Energy should actually do a flavor called "Gravel Gu" and market it at some big event, say like the Dirty Kanza 200, where a lot of people would see it and Gu would get a big run of publicity out of it.

Why not? I think it would be awesome.

Anyway, here's another tidbit related to the altering of product labels, a thing Jeff used to do with some regularity back in the day. Trans Iowa v8 was upcoming and I had asked Jeff to render another header for the event, as he had for the previous seven. Well, he took the obvious route of altering a V8 juice can graphic to read like it was about Trans Iowa. It was absolutely fantastic.

It was up for maybe a week when I got a cease and desist e-mail from a Campbell Foods Incorporated lawyer. They were NOT amused, and asked that I pull the header or there would be legal action.

Damn fun haters!

So I rushed a quick e-mail off to Jeff requesting another header design. In the meantime, I pulled the V8 Juice header and put up a simple "V8" engine insignia from a Ford car until Jeff got the Ploughboy header which we ended up using done. So, there ya go, the only Trans Iowa to have had three different header designs.

By the way, for you T.I. trivia buffs- Trans Iowa v10 had two different designs for a header.

And that's a wrap on the Minus Ten Reviews for 2016.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Rear View 2016: Part 4

A dreary day, but we had fun despite the threatening skies.
October started out with a big ride that I wasn't sure I could pull off, but we did it. A Fat Bike Century! I even did it with flat pedals and my street shoes! I used my new 1X 11 set up with a 28T drive ring, which was a bit too low, really. If I had to do something like that all over again I would opt for a double at minimum and have a pretty good sized big ring for hauling the mail down hills and for cruising the flats. As it was, I was coasting a lot more than I would have.

But then again, maybe that was a good thing!

Trans Iowa v13 was introduced in August and registration was ongoing during October. There was lottery implications possible in the Vets class, but that turned out not to be necessary and the whole registration process was almost dull. A far cry from a few years ago when chaos was the order of the day. That was all fun, but honestly, I could do without the drama that came with it.

Then there was a bit of a diversion from all the bicycle stuff, and a bit of a throwback to earlier times in my life when a friend from the shop and a daughter of an old friend got married in Des Moines at a big, fancy mansion. That was a really great weekend. I saw folks I haven't seen in many, many years and had some great conversations.

A tandem was added to the bike stable.
I also got ahold of a tandem with which I have been able to get my daughter out on a few times with good results. She's 16 years old now and not a cyclist, but hopefully this tandem will help to change her mind about that. Thanks Bruce, once again, as this has been a very positive experience so far.

Then another great weekend happened at the end of the month as the Fargo Reunion Ride happened and I got to ride with Jason, Ben, Marty, and MG, plus various other folks from as far away as Kentucky. It was a great way to close out the month of October. In between I got in Trans Iowa recon and a Four County Tour. October was a stellar month of friends, cycling, and good times. Maybe the best month of the year.
Driving some dirt roads looking for the T.I.v13 route.
A great day on the bike for the "Four County Tour".
Jason Boucher's portrait of me from the Fargo Reunion Ride
Then November came and things slowed waaaaaay down! Trans Iowa registration ended, there were no more big events or rides planned, and the weather went to the cooler, browner side for the month. I did get a couple of components that were kind of a big deal for me. A GPS based Lezyne computer and a Carbon Jones Loop H-Bar.

Then the weather got really cold, and Winter came a bit early to Iowa shortly after Thanksgiving. Fat biking was the order of the day, and December was pretty frigid to start out with. Now we've swung back to the warmer side and all of our snow is glazed over with ice and rock hard.

And that brings us up to the present. 2016 was considered by a lot of folks as a sucky, bad year. I won't agree with that at all. It's been a great year. I saw some old friends, connected with new folks, and had successes and failures in my riding that I'll cherish for a lifetime. I have had my share of heartache, to be sure. My Dad, my Grandma, and an Uncle all died this year. My mom got a bad diagnosis, and my inlaws are struggling with their health too. There is always good and bad with every year. But I have been blessed through it all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rear View 2016: Part 3

July kicked off with hot weather, the 4th of July celebration, and some fine gravel riding. I spent a lot of July just doing fun stuff, and there was some planning for a reprise of the first Guitar Ted Death Ride course to celebrate ten years of that event.

I actually got my fat bike out and did a few rides, just to change up things a bit. I did a few upgrades on my drive train for the Ti Muk, and I finished another fat bike build, this one for my son just in time for his birthday late in July. I went on rides with some important people too. My wife and my son being tops in that category. I hadn't gotten to ride with my wife in years, so that was a really big deal for me.

My son and I did a cool cruise of the local alleyways on fat bikes and another great ride in July was with Martin and was ostensibly a partial recon for the upcoming GTDRI. But really, it was a finishing of an idea I had for a couple years to go see if the bridge that was out for T.I.v10 had ever been replaced.

Mrs. Guitar Ted's Raleigh "Coasting" bike is almost the same color as my Blackborow DS
Fat bike alley cruising with my son on his new fat bike.
Yep! They replaced the bridge after all.
Then came the big ride. The GTDRI course wasn't all that tough, but it was really long. About 150 miles or so. However; the day was marred for me by a munchie I ate in Traer which didn't agree with me at all. I had stomach shutdown shortly afterward and managed to limp to a 110 mile day before bailing out on the guys. Everyone else did finish, but I had to wait for my wife to come over and bail me out.

A wee bit of mud was the least of my worries at the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational
Well, that ride made me take stock of my normal ways of fueling. I had known about some of the fueling strategies used by my friend Tony, and I decided that based upon my observations of him, I would give his plan a go. Gravel Worlds was coming in almost a month from the GTDRI, so I had a bit of time to check out how I might react to the different strategy.

There was also a Salsa Cycles demo in our area where I got to try out a few of the new 2017 rigs. That was a fun day, and it taught me a few things. I can see why some folks are swayed by the whole "carbon" thing, but I also can see why it might not be such a great idea too. At least for me.

Then there was Gravel Worlds. I had been here before and failed. Let's see....... four times? Yeah, I think it was at least four times before, going back to when the event was called the Good Life Gravel Adventure. This time was a different story.

Knocked that one off.........finally! Tony and I seconds after our Gravel Worlds finish. Image courtesy of Kevin Fox
After the success of Gravel Worlds I made another change. I got a proper cue card holder and more with the BarYak System and tried that out, which worked really well. Then it was time to gear up for some awesome Fall gravel weather and riding. The next big ride was the second Geezer Ride of the year which I held in the Cedar Falls-Waterloo area.

It was a beautiful day for a Geezer Ride
And with that I found myself coming into October staring down one more big challenge that my friend Tony and I decided we'd try out. A fat bike century.

Next: Rear View 2016 Part 4

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Rear View 2016: Part 2

D-Corn, Sam, and Fuller (L-R) from my Renegade Gent's team in April
The period from April through June of 2016 was punctuated by three fantastic rides, putting on a twelfth Trans Iowa,  and supporting one of the most iconic gravel races ever, the Almanzo 100.

My favorite event to participate in is the Renegade Gent's Race. My four teammates and I gather every year for this ritual of laughter, fun, and sometimes pain. Every iteration of this event has featured our team, and no other team can say that. At least we can always hang our hat on that! We certainly are not the fastest team, or anything else, for that matter. Someday this streak will come to an end, but I am glad it continued for at least one more version of the "Gent's Race". This year the team experienced a unique day to say the least.

This past April the wind was absolutely ridiculous on the day of the event. We all were in pretty decent physical condition, for once, but the weather did not cooperate and when we reached the half way checkpoint we cashed in our chips. The course is pretty flat and the gravel was decent this year, but that wind! It wasn't the ride we all we desiring, but it was fun while it lasted and I got to hang out with Sam, Steve, D-Corn, and Bob which doesn't happen often enough. I've said it many a time and I'll say it again- I am so thankful Steve asked me to be on that first Renegade Gent's Race roster.

The event photographer captured us as we rounded a turn at the Gent's Race this past April. (Image courtesy of Sherman)
 The next deal on the docket was getting ready for Trans Iowa's twelfth running towards the end of the month of April. The time between the Gent's Race and Trans Iowa is always consumed with last minute preparations for Trans Iowa. The major things being cue card production, bagging cues, and the recon just before that to confirm the route. The thing was that this all went so smoothly this past Spring, it was almost a breeze!

Then the event day came and.......well, there were complications. There was a LOT of behind the scenes drama and headaches that took many days to sort through after the event. The actual event itself seemed seamless to the riders. That was important and I am very thankful for that part. In fact, it was a record setting year and one many will never forget.

I couldn't have made it through Trans Iowa v12 without my Brother. Thanks MG! 
With Trans Iowa in the rear view mirror I was not expecting anything "big" to be going down until the next Geezer Ride. But that was merely right after Trans Iowa. No big deal! Ha! Well, fortunately for me all the details were taken care of by my friend Martin, who did all the recon and what not for us. I merely showed up to ride. It was a beautiful day on the bike in the somewhat otherworldly area of the Amish near Iowa City.

Being overtaken by a horse cart on a gravel ride is not something one would expect, unless you are in Amish Country.

 Well, with that successful, fun, and very scenic ride over, I was not expecting the next event. It was not ever on my radar even a few days before it happened. However; my partner , Ben, got a hold of me on Thursday and by the following Saturday I was in a car with NY Roll, his dog, Ella, and my son to support that day's running of the Almanzo 100. We were supporting the event by manning "Checkpoint 3" in Cherry Grove.

It was a great day, as we were joined by Chris and his wife who were then with Challenge Tires and a ton of great riders who stopped by to eat and drink all we had on offer. It was good to support this iconic gravel road event and to meet a lot of great folks.

The scene at the checkpoint we manned for the Almanzo 100 back in May.

 After that great experience things settled into a groove for a couple of weeks where I got to ride around my area and enjoy the wild flowers, which were in abundance this year. I was truly blessed to see a lot of colorful flowers in the ditches. This is one of my favorite things about riding in the country.

I stopped often and got "up close and personal" with the flowers this year.

I was also surprised one day by a call from a car as I sped home from work. It was an old friend, room mate, and cycling companion from days gone by who happened to be in town. I don't often get to see him, but I was super stoked to have not missed him while he was here this time. I spent about an hour on the side of the road yakking with him. Ears, thanks for flagging me down, man! It was an awesome day that day because you took the time to find me.

One of the best surprises of 2016 was running into Ears alongside the road on my way home from work last Spring.

The final big deal for this three month span was heading down to Kansas to visit the gravel community during the Dirty Kanza "festival". I guess that "festival" really best describes this event. It is far more than a gravel road race these days. I went in support of my friend Tony. Seeing that he had his needs all tied up in a nice little package for the race proper, I went on my own expedition that day and had an awesome time on the bike.

So many roads, so little time!
My friend Tony signing at the finish. I was super stoked that he bagged a DK200 finish.
Missing this guy. #biggrin
Well, after the DK200 June went on and I found out that I had to cancel my plans to go do Odin's Revenge due to plans for a surprise birthday party for my Mom's 75th birthday. Bittersweet, for sure, but now I am so glad I went to that instead of Odin's. Things that you don't foresee make your time spent with family very important. I suggest to anyone reading here that you make time for your family first. You never know when that time will run out.

Next: Part 3

Monday, December 26, 2016

Mushing Through The Slush

This was mostly slick ice. We didn't have studs on,so we turned around.
The plan was for NY Roll and I to head up to Ingawanis Woodlands and check out the groomed single track there on our fat bikes. We headed out at 8:00am on Christmas Eve with an aim to get out of town via Burton Avenue.

On the way out the city streets were a complete mess. Most of them were hard packed, slightly icy surfaces with a good amount of outright slush to go through. Fortunately the temperatures weren't cold. It was about 34°F and the wind was very light. Getting sprayed by the slushy mess wasn't that big of a deal then.

I dressed with a base layer, which was a summer time tank style, then a Twin Six wool jersey, and then my Bontrager Lithos jacket. The bottoms were the Pixelite Winter tights from ProViz. The feet were wrapped with a long pair of thinner wool socks, a vapor barrier made of plastic grocery sacks, and then my Keen hiking boots. Hands were covered with a thin wool liner and the Planet Bike Borealis lobster mitts. I was fine for the entire ride, and in fact, I had to vent using the various zippers on the Lithos jacket for most of the ride. On my head I used a thin winter Polar Fleece cap and my Bell Super helmet.

So,anyway....... We got out to the gravel and it was icy. We did not have studded tires, and I and NY Roll both felt that it would only take one small misstep and we could be hitting the deck. I wasn't in for slamming into a rock hard, icy gravel road at (likely) a high rate of speed. So, we turned back and headed towards George Wyth State Park via Airline Highway. That's where we hit masses of slushy crap.

NY Roll wanted to ride on the pavement, but I called out to him to ride the (what looked like) snow covered shoulder saying, "C'mon! It's a fat bike!" he came over onto the slushy mess and we plowed that through at least a mile. We got a good work out, that's for sure! Then I had a brilliant idea. Instead of crawling all the way around the North side of the park to come in the back way, why not just go through the front gate? Normally this wouldn't be adviseable due to heavy, fast traffic, but on Christmas Eve, the traffic was light.

George Wyth was soft, and the track for fat bikes likely won't survive till next weekend.
So we headed down the entire length of the service road to the shelter house, then we hit up some single track. It was rather soft, slippery, and the snow was nigh unto going to slush. In fact, in several places it was slush.

At least we got to ride this before the rains on Christmas Day and the above freezing temperatures forecast for the week between Christmas and New Years Day basically take the option away from us. At least for the short term. I suppose I'd rather the tracks get all melted away instead of halfway gone, freeze hard as a rock, and then put some powdery snow on top of that. That would basically really suck!

So, NY Roll and I made our way going basically West around Alice Wyth Lake and back to the main bike path where we decided to try and find a coffee shop for a bit of a warm drink. We slogged our way over to where the two main coffee shops in Cedar Falls are but both were closed up. Hmm..... Bummer. Oh well, moving on now......

We then hit the snow covered bike paths down to the Cedar River and followed that East for a while. The constant correcting and sliding out a bit was taxing. It was pretty obvious that this was going to be the last of decent fat bike conditions for a while now. We stopped for a bit to chat, then we headed on to Lower Hartman and the trail through there. This was perhaps the best trail for fat biking we rode all day. Fairly solid snow, packed in well, and no real soft sections as we found in George Wyth. Then we exited that trail via old John's Trail and out on old Shirey Way to head up Hackett.

The bike path along the South side of the Cedar was pretty treacherous.
I decided that after three hours I needed to get back to my home, so we decided not to try any of the "Sherwood" single track, although it looked pretty good. Instead we went up the remainder of the bike trail along the Cedar and when we got to Northland Oil and the old "access" to the small park up on the ridge, I discovered the new bench cut trail which had recently been put in. NY Roll had seen it before, but I hadn't been down this way since Fall on a gravel ride when I came back into town this way.

It's a nicer, easier, and for the City of Waterloo, safer way to access the lot above where people stop to use the trail. I suppose they got a lot of complaints from users that couldn't negotiate the steeper old trail. Next thing ya know they'll be paving this. Which would be rich, since then it would become an icy, unusable ramp in Winter. I don't know what the plan is, but accommodating "everyone's needs" typically screws things up worse for everyone. We'll see how this develops..... Besides, I hate the "pave everything" ethos of most trail user groups. It is simply misguided and typically wrong. But this post is about a ride, so.......

This ride eventually came to an end. Three hours or so of fun, wet, tough riding which left me pretty whooped. I guess I was pretty happy with how it went, since I haven't been on a longer ride for a while. At least the Holidays haven't slowed me down.......much, well......maybe a little! I was a bit disappointed we didn't get to make a big country adventure out of this, but ice and fat tires don't mix well on uneven ice. I was glad to preserve my health, especially my left shoulder, as it is and not do anymore damage. Now with the weather being as wonky as it has and will be for a bit, I just might actually be able to get out on the gravel roads in the country. In between now and's gonna be a mess.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you and yours a safe and enjoyable holiday today.

As always, thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions. I appreciate it very much.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Minus Ten Review- 51

Another bike! Sheesh!
This week ten years ago on the blog here I was talking about yet another new bike for me. Crazy! I started 2006 with two 29"ers and ended the year with six! Of those six bicycles I have three in my possession. One is complete and rideable, the other two are frames only, and far from being ready to go.

Anyway, this one came to me because the then marketing wonk at Raleigh, Reed Pike, decided I had brought Raleigh a lot of positive attention, made several good suggestions for changes, and had overall helped Raleigh make the introduction of their 29"ers more successful than it otherwise might have been. I guess. Since, ya know, he called me over when I was at Interbike and commanded that his underlings send me one. 

 The XXIX+G, (what a weird name!), was an odd handling rig. At the time we had 38mm offset forks only, and as it turned out, the frame was the same geometry as the non-suspension corrected XXIX single speed. Raleigh's designer kind of fudged the geometry to work either way, suspended or not, and dialed in an enormous amount of trail which made the XXIX+G handle like a wheelbarrow.

Oddly enough, what those Raleigh guys were after- great downhill stability and decent trail manners- were only achieved within the last five years for 29"ers. My Singular Buzzard is really what Raleigh wanted to do. Short rear end, slack front end, and a big, burly fork. None of that existed in 2006.

Things sometimes do change for the better.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Rear View 2016: Part 1

The Rear View 2016 is my retrospective of the year that is about to pass. I've been doing this for about as long as I have been blogging, so many of you know the drill. With that said, here is Part 1
During the beginning of 2016 I thoroughly enjoyed the snow conditions we had. I think it was the best for fat biking that we had enjoyed since I had been riding a fat bike going back to 2011. I got out often as I could and enjoyed just about every ride. Well......there was that one time I flatted at the start of a ride when it was about 0°F with a negative degree wind chill. That kind of sucked.......

I introduced the "Minus Ten Review". A weekly look back at what I was blogging about ten years ago with some up to date commentary. I have no idea if anyone is digging that series, but I plan on continuing it into 2017, at least as long as folks don't raise a ruckus and tell me to just stop it.

Sorry! That was about the future! 

I discovered the microscope setting on my camera
 There was a fair amount of Trans Iowa stuff going on in February. I guess I had decided to get cranking up on the stuff I needed to get done.

February also was usually about half Frostbike stuff, but in an epic error in judgement, our shop employee in charge of getting us registered waited too long to try and register us. Frostbike has a limited number of folks that they let in the door, and all of us got left looking in from the outside. It was the first Frostbike I had missed in something like 13 years.

March came and I started transitioning over to gravel riding. I had tires to test and write about for, plus I had signed up for the Cup O Dirt Challenge. I actually bagged an early metric century and I figured I was well on my way to getting the Cup, but I lost track of it all in the Summer and I have no idea where I stand with regard to that now. So...... yeah. 

I'm not a very good record keeper, for the record.  That's why I write the blog, is one of the reasons why. If I didn't do this, I would lose track of a lot of stuff! So, yeah........back to being all retrospective-like. 

March brought a freakish Winter storm that sucker punched us with cold, wind, and snow one last time, but then it straightened out. Which was a good thing, since I had the Renegade Gents Race coming up right off the bat in April.

Next: Part 2

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Rear View 2016: Images

I'm going to kick off my 2016 retrospect with some of my favorite images posted on the blog during the year. I hope that you enjoy this photo-dump.......

January '16
February '16
March '16
April '16
May '16
June '16
July '16
August '16
September '16
October '16
November '16
December '16

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bikes Of 2016: Titanium Mukluk

Here shown in the tweaking stages before the "Fat Bike Century" ride.
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.

Another stalwart of the stable here. The Ti Mukluk, which I got at the end of 2011. There were a couple of notable things regarding this bike and 2016.

The first was doing a century ride on gravel with this bike. I have to be honest, I wasn't sure I could pull off 100 plus miles on this bike without severe pain or without doing some long term damage. Yes.....I had ridden it on a metric century before. I knew I could go that far, but things happen in that last 37 plus miles that make the previous 63 seem like a cakewalk sometimes. Well, that and a 100mm wide bottom bracket, a "too low" gear range, and my iffy shoulder were also reasons for some second thoughts.

But I pulled it off with no real serious side effects.

The second thing was that "too low gear range". That was a result of the switch to a 1 X 11 drive train. Which is working splendidly in snowy conditions, by the way. I've got "low enough" and one in reserve, so that is a good thing. I do need to adjust the cable a tiny bit, but otherwise, no issues whatsoever with this drive train. I can even pedal backward, which, from what I hear is a big issue with a lot of folk's 1X drive trains.

I know I ran this image a couple of days ago- Current state of the Ti Muk.
I have the Ti Muk "winterized" now, and who knows what configuration I will run it in in the future. I have plans to get Jones Bars at some point for this rig given the successful run with Jones Bars on my Blackborow. I have a "Summer" 29'er wheel set that I want to modify with new rims. Maybe I'll do something stupid and ride another century on fat tires again. If I do, this will be the bike I do that on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Beginning Of The End

Just keep moving towards the Light.
Wow! was it ever cold here over the weekend. I think that is about as cold as it has been in a few years at least. It definitely has been a long time since it was 20 below in December. I didn't venture out in it, but I know several nutters in the area did. Good on 'em!

I did ride to work yesterday. It was negative 2 below when I was out there. However; the winds have shifted and now we are forecast to be above freezing for the next two days with a lot of Sun. That will really knock down our snow here.

Not only that, but there is a good chance we will have rain and 40's on Christmas day. So much for a White Christmas! More like a "Sloppy Brown, Black, and Messy Christmas" if that forecast turns out to be correct! Whatever happens, it would appear that it is highly likely that this is the beggining of the end of good snow to ride on for the short term. Winter is a long ways from over, (heck, "officially" it doesn't even start until tomorrow), so it could be a great Winter for riding the fat bikes yet, but for now the forecast, it looks bleak.

Speaking of beginnings of endings, I will be posting my Rear View 2016 series in the coming days. I'll try to limit that to four posts. Maybe three. I have had a pretty interesting year on the bike and I cannot wait to recap it. Maybe you can. Ha!