Saturday, November 18, 2017

Minus Ten Review- 46

The Badger as it appears now in 2017
Ten years ago on the blog I didn't have much up for images, but there were a few of my bare framed Badger. I had not gotten it built up yet then as I was not very flush with cash. You know, as a bike shop employee in the Mid-West, not much has changed in that regard since that time!

This year I did get the Badger built back up in much the same way as I had envisioned it being back in 2007. Mostly silver components and nice wheels and tires. But it just wasn't to be back in 2007/2008. Things were taking off with the "Twenty Nine Inches" gig and time was short. Any extra money and time I could generate was funneled toward making TNI, and the couple of other website ventures I had going on then, work at least in a minimally effective capacity. Personal build projects like the Badger or my long running efforts to bring back my Karate Monkey to life were put on the back burner. Like, for years. 

The Trans Iowa v4 registration was still ongoing at this time ten years ago. This would have marked the first year that staged registration was used. Previously anyone and everyone's cards or online registration was accepted through a pre-set time period. But for v4 and beyond, the registration was done in a manner reflecting the "Winners/Finishers first, everybody else second" method. It was our way to honor those who had accomplished the feat of Trans Iowa, which at that time was less than 34 people.

My co-director, David Pals, and I were still working out just when we both could get together to do a recon. Unfortunately it wasn't until after we had a lot of snow and the temperatures were brutal on the day we tried to make it work. It was a small baby step as far as what needed to get accomplished, but it was something, at least.

Other than those things I was just looking forward to Thanksgiving and taking a bit of time off from the bustle of Trans Iowa and testing product.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday News And Views

Another bear sighting in Iowa recently. From the Iowa DNR page on Facebook
The Bears Come And The Bears Go:

Some folks live in "bear country", so this will be no big deal to them, but here in Iowa, bears are rarely seen. Last year I believe it was, there was a black bear sighting near Janesville, which is a village I cycle in and around often. This year in Northeast Iowa black bears were spotted again, which, for Iowa, is where you would expect to see bears. The terrain up there and the proximity to Wisconsin and Minnesota, both black bear homes, makes this occurrence less spectacular.

However; when you see that a bear has been spotted in Grundy County, which is due West of here, and mostly agricultural, it raises your attention levels. Especially in Fall. Spring and Summer bear sightings are most common, if you are to see a bear at all in Iowa, but Fall? I've never heard of it before.

Actually, I've never heard of black bears in Iowa until recently. When I was young, or in my 20's and 30's, it wasn't on my radar and no one spoke of such a thing. We would see the stray moose now and again, but never bears. Maybe I just wasn't aware of them and they have always been coming through Iowa. Hmm...... I just know that if I see one out gravel grinding someday I'll think I was hallucinating!

Ibis introduces the Hakka MX gravel/adventure bike
 Hakka (Gravel) Lugi:

Cyclo Cross spawned a subset of weirdness at one time which was sort of refreshing. I remember when Ibis debuted the cross bike they made in steel back in the day. They understood cyclo cross was a totally anaerobic, pain infested form of cycling, and the name they picked for their entry into the CX world reflected this in typical Ibis humor. They dubbed the bike the "Hakkalugi", in reference to how the lung searing efforts of cyclo cross would often cause one to hack up a large wad of mucus.

Well, cyclo cross got all serious, so maybe the humorous part of Ibis' past has been lost, but they have entered a rig in the gravel/adventure category and dubbed it the "Hakka MX". That's kind of a lame name, considering Ibis' past. I mean, it's obvious we don't have "MX" to "hack up", so whatever that means is lost on me. (I cross....whatever...)

The bike seems to be pretty on point as far as geometry and the current "multi-wheel fit" mania that has taken hold of the cycling world lately. Really.....who is going to actually swap out wheel sizes? It is a selling feature more than it is a practical feature, in my opinion. But however you see that playing out, it is a cool bike. It fits pretty big tires, and should make for a lightweight platform for a racy gravel rig. Plus, (little known TI fact), a Hakkalugi rider won T.I.v8. So there is that.

A T.I.v14 Rookie started an "event page" for Trans Iowa. Funny thing- I never was asked about it!
Things Unasked For:

Back when Jeff Kerkove launched Trans Iowa (V1), he did it on his Blogger page and on the Endurance Forum. Social media wasn't a "thing" back in late 2004, so, ya know, he did what he did. It worked, and it worked really well. Discussion about the event flourished on the MTBR forum for the first four or so Trans Iowas, but after T.I.v3, social media crept in and people moved away from blogs and MTBR's endurance forum became a sort of wasteland. About around 2010, I noticed more and more gravel road event promoters were either doing actual "dot-com" sites, using Bike as a defacto event site, or even more so, using Facebook as a "free event page" platform. Now in 2017 I would estimate that 60% or more of the events we catalog on's Events Page are Facebook addressed websites.

I have doggedly avoided Facebook for Trans Iowa purposes. It has become necessary to use it to link back to the original Blogger site, or this blog, to get information out there, but I almost never announce anything directly on Facebook, and a Trans Iowa page has never been set up, until now. And I didn't do it nor did I ask for it! 

Apparently some Rookie decided Facebook should be utilized as a place for discussion about the event, and set up a page, which looks "official", (he even pinched my artwork without asking), and is set up as though you might think I had something to do with it. I don't, and honestly, I don't care other than that this is a pretty cheeky move on this rider's part. I mean, you would think he'd have had the decency to at least ask. 

I guess I'm all wrong about that!

Have a great weekend and get in some riding. Thanksgiving is coming!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thoughts On Tubulars For Gravel Road Riding

A 40mm tubular from FMB proposed for gravel racing. Image pinched from
The tubular tire has a long history in cycling going back to the 19th Century. Basically, a round "tube" makes up the tire cross section. The tube is then made circular and tread is attached to the outside circumference of the tube. That then is glued to a rim which is specifically designed for this type of tire. This process of gluing can take quite a bit of preparation and time.

Flat tires can be ridden on, (until the tire carcass shreds or comes unglued), but repairs to tubulars are not often done and then only by skilled craftsmen and not immediately in the field. Typically one either carries another tubular tire pre-glued for replacement or one has to change out wheels from a "pit" on course or from a support vehicle, as you see often in Pro road racing.

So......why would one want a tubular for gravel road riding or racing? Well, for one thing, pinch flats would be non-existent theoretically speaking, as there is no traditional tube which would be separate from the tire to pinch. However, a cut tire is much more likely, if pressures are run low. Secondly, tubular tires have famously low rolling resistance and corner very well. Finally, there is a certain faction of cyclists that would find running tubulars something that would tickle their romanticized notions of cycling. So, for them, it would be justified.

I've written about the possibility of tubular tires for gravel road riding before here. In fact, I was so curious that I had Velocity build me a set of tubular wheels to try it out on based upon a tip from the folks at Challenge Tires years ago that they, (or someone) was going to make a big, wide tubular. That didn't happen so I actually laced the hubs over to some clincher rims this past Summer and hung the rims from the rafters.

With the typical gravel here in Iowa being chunky, loose, and deep, would tubulars survive the punishment?
I think certain places would do well with tubular tires. I think about Southeastern Minnesota, as an example, or anywhere the gravel is smaller in size, not very deep, hard packed, or really mostly dirt. However; that isn't what you will find everywhere, or in most areas that have unpaved roads. So, to my mind, this idea doesn't have enough merit to convince me that it is a solution that is better than a tubeless tire. While tubulars can be fantastically light, that probably isn't a good idea for a tire that will be getting constant roughing up by loose gravel. Not to mention riding anywhere there are puncture makers like goat heads and other thorny, pointy nasties on roads.

Tubeless tires typically are pretty bombproof out on gravel these days. It isn't impossible to have a flat, cut a tubeless tire, or to have some other issue, but those instances where tubeless gravel tires fail is rare and getting ever rarer. Even tubed tire use is easier on the maintenance side, and repairs are a snap in the field. Tubulars? Not so much.

This all has become relevant again because of a company famous for making tubulars, FMB, which has come out with an idea for a tubular gravel tire. (See the article here) In my opinion, this FMB tire is a stab at seeing what the reaction to a tubular for gravel racing might be. There is really no sense in the tire shown otherwise since the casing is huge, exposed badly on the sidewalls, and the tread is simply a CX tread glued on to this bigger casing. It isn't a practical design.

If this gains favor amongst racers, and FMB actually does a design worthy of use, which this design exercise clearly is not, then what? Well, it will be one more reason for the riders who are using these to call for support vehicles. I mean, you aren't really going to expect anyone in their right mind to carry a spare tubular and rip off the damaged tire, replace it with a pre-glued spare in the field, and carry onward, are you? Of course not! This isn't going anywhere unless gravel racing becomes just like Pro road races. So, unless the UCI gets behind this, or unless gravel races open up to going in the direction of Pro road races, this idea has zero merit. Because tubeless tires are already a far better idea than this is.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Paul WORD hub- Now with Boost
Its no secret that I like hubs, spokes, and rims for bicycles. I enjoy building my own wheels and I like riding them when I do build them up. There is just something really amazing about taking a bunch of wires, brass nuts, a hub with nice bearings, and a nice rim and making all of that in to a wheel.

So Paul Component Engineering just released news about a new version of their WORD hub. This is a hub that claims to be the very first production single speed mountain bike hub. If it wasn't, then it is close to being that. I know it has been around a long time. I bought a set of the first version of the Disc WORD for mt Karate Monkey back in 2003. Those hubs are still around although I need to re-lace them to new rims.

While I don't have a Boost spaced, single speed device around, it may happen someday. Who knows? It's good to know that a hub option exists that will work for a dedicated single speed set up. And even in polished silver! That's even sweeter.

While I am on the subject of Boost spacing, I've heard a rumor that it is coming to road bikes. Gravel road bikes, actually. It seems that a "certain component manufacturer" that doesn't have a great front derailleur design and is pushing 1X wants to introduce this so they can get you to buy a 1 X12 system for your next gravel bike. This is not all that surprising, and it will be touted as a solution for the gravel people who race in the earlier Spring events with mud and what not. But here's the thing......

DK200 2015- The infamous 3 mile mud march. Image by A Andonopoulous
Front derailleurs are not the problem. It is the rear derailleurs that stop folks from finishing these muddy, wet gravel events. The Land Run 100, the 2015 version of the DK200, Trans Iowa, and various other events have seen their fare share of rear derailleur carnage due to mud and bad conditions. Maybe a clutch style rear derailleur will be more mud resilient, but then again, maybe not.

At least it will be easier to set up a damaged bike single speed with a narrow-wide chain ring......possibly....maybe.

But why Boost? Well, it seems that many manufacturers are looking to stuff 2.1" 29"er tires into these "adventure/gravel" bikes. But you might say that many mountain bikes are using the "old" dimensions and are doing fine. You would be correct. So, again- why? Well, we are going to hear all the "stiffer, stronger. lighter" arguments, of course, but that isn't really why either. Think about it- If you already have tooling for Boost 1X12 why develop it in any other format than Boost? So, you are going to see a split in gravel/adventure. More "Cutthroat-ish" bikes with Boost and the more narrow Q factor bikes we have now with compatibility with road components. Then again- I could be all wrong about that.

In the meantime, I'm thinking those Boost WORD hubs and a nice, simple steel gravel rig, set up single speed would be the ticket. Hubba-hubba!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Whoops! Must have forgotten the LocTite!
So the other day I had my son out for a fat bike ride. He's a much bigger fella than he used to be, almost "man-sized" these days, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised if he breaks something.

The ride was going well. We were in the Green Belt riding out to do Marky-Mark and then we were heading back around the lake back there. I was up ahead of my son by about 50 yards when I heard a big "crack!". Then I turned to see my son dismounting his bike and exclaiming, "You've got to be kidding me!". I figured he snapped his derailleur off.

I rode back to where he was standing beside his bike which was laying drive side up in the trail. I looked at the rear wheel but all was fine there. Then I saw it. A folded over chain ring. What?!! I had heard about such things happening but I'd never had that happen to me. wan't me, but I did build the bike. Hrrumph! I must have forgotten the LocTiite on that bolt. My bad!

So, I told my son to hit the parking lot, which was about a quarter mile away, and then I rode home as fast as I could in my"high range" on the Blackboow DS. Spinning out on a bike with 4.8" fat bike tires weird deal. Roaring tires on pavement and a bit of bouncing, despite my best efforts at trying to be smooth. It was quite a scene!

Well, I got the "Truck With No Name" and rescued him as he was sitting in the parking lot in a light drizzle. Then I dragged the wounded bike down to the Lab where it has been since waiting on a new Race Face chain ring in green ano to replace the broken one.

I think I'll hang his old one up in his room after I get it off the bike, just as a reminder of the "good times"!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Single Speed 50

The Pofahl at the meeting place.
Last week I got a text message from Martin. ".....Would you be interested in a 40-ish mile ride Saturday?" I definitely was interested, and to boot, Martin was proposing to ride a single speed. In fact, it was a bike I used to own, an '07 Salsa Cycles El Mariachi.

We discussed via text what times and about a route. Martin sketched out a loop Eastward toward Independence Iowa because the winds were forecast from the Southeast and at a forecast upper 30's temperature, we didn't want a lot of headwinds. I liked the idea, because I hadn't been out that way previously. Lots of new-to-me roads, so I was very much game to go. It was decided we would ride at 11:00am from the old Waterloo 3GR meeting spot, a swimming pool parking lot on the Northeast side of Waterloo.

My Pofahl, now with the correct 180mm rotor (!!), has those new Donnelly MSO 50's on it and I set those up tubeless. I tried to accommodate for the cooler temperatures we would be riding in by airing up to 40psi rear/38psi front, realizing that after about 15 minutes I would be at something more in the mid-30's for psi. Then it was all about donning the garb to make it around the loop. Martin said it was about 45-46 miles, and I had about 3 miles to get to the meeting place, so I had to prepare for a good 50 miles of riding.

I wore thermal bib tights, an Omniwool base layer top which was long sleeved, a Twin Six Standard Wool jersey, short sleeved, and my Bontrager windproof jacket. On my head I wore my gifted Endspurt Hamburg liveried tube buff and my Bell Super helmet. On my hands I wore a thin base layer glove and Lycra Bontrager gloves over that. My feet were covered in long, calf high "Sock Guy" wool socks, a vapor barrier made from plastic grocery sacks, and 45NRTH Fasterkatt boots. Oh, I also used Spy Optic Daft glasses with tinted amber lenses.

Okay, on with the ride!

A farmer tills the land under sullen, grey skies
Martin showed up with the old El Mar, now sporting a stout 42 X 18T gear combo and the rest as I remembered it being. The notable feature here would be the voluminous Maxxis Ardent 2.4's, tubeless on Blunt 35 rims. More of a mountain bike set up, with gravel gearing! Martin wasn't spinning much! He was grinding it out and the initial miles featured some rollers which were not giving us any quarter. The gravel was the typical chunky goodness I'm used to, so that wasn't of any concern.

First stop: Rearranging some clothing and having a quick bite to eat.
The wind was a quartering headwind as we were headed out on a 12 mile stretch straight East. I wasn't cold, except for maybe the bottoms of my feet. Perhaps I will have to consider a thin insulating layer or a heavier sock next time I ride in conditions like this. I suppose the wind chill was well into the 20's. That's a bit under the recommended range for those Fasterkatts anyway. Any colder and those boots wouldn't have been a good choice anyway.

But beyond that we were making great time. Martin said later our average speed was 12.5mph, so we weren't slouching by any stretch. I didn't pack any gizmos or traditional computer for mileage or data gathering. Martin was using a Garmin device of some kind. He didn't have the route downloaded though and about a third of the way in to the route Martin handed me the cues and he verified turns by matching up the mileage on his Garmin. That kept both of us engaged in the navigation.

Eventually we reached the roads I was unfamiliar with. Big Rock Road all the way to Buchanan County, then some meandering as we negotiated the roads around the Wapsipinnicon River valley and the river itself was crossed at Littleton. Martin was hoping to route by a resupply spot in case we needed to warm up or get food and water. Neither was necessary, so we motored on through town and took a right to round the eastern side of the loop Martin had sketched out for us.

We had a running buddy for a little bit.
We hit this narrow, tree lined road South of Littleton. Surprisingly it had a lot of car traffic!
Headed back West now.
So, here we started going West again, but the wind had laid down, or wasn't really a factor, because we weren't feeling any effects of it anymore. Just as well as the cold temperatures would have felt worse with a stiff wind. Martin said at one point as we were going back that it was 38°F. With the gray skies, it certainly looked, and felt a lot colder than that!

The roads on the Eastern swing were really smooth and fast. The gravel was chewed up to be a lot finer and less deep. We were running right on the road bed in many places. It was certainly really dusty, and it was evident that we needed rain, or lots of snow over Winter. Ironically enough, it rained all night Saturday night, but on our ride the dust was about as bad as it gets. The cars passing us by left clouds of dust which were impenetrable as far as seeing through them. Thankfully what little wind was left blew it off the roadway rather nicely.

The miles were winding down and we were thinking about cutting off a bit of a Northward turn to make the ride a bit quicker. Martin was also feeling the effects of the tall gearing, and hills were getting more difficult for him. We had stopped for our last extended time at an old country church so I could get another cemetery gate pic for the album. This was the St. Francis cemetery on Airline Highway. I had ridden past it earlier in the year going North on the road near to the church, but I hadn't ridden right past it until the ride with Martin on Saturday. This stop gave us the chance to rearrange boittles and grab our last bits to eat before we made our final push.

The Pofahl looking a bit more dusty than it was in the beginning.
A giant erratic about the size of a small house poking out of the corn stubble.
The dust was incredible for late Fall/early Winter.
The rest of the ride went according to Martin's original plan. That was because we had to use the original route. Our planned short cut turned out to be impossible since Airline Highway didn't go all the way through. It was interrupted by a pesky field. So, we turned North and went to Big Rock Road anyway.

The rest of the route then was a retracing of our route going out. That was okay because all these roads I knew quite well after so many years of running around out there. The end was back at the parking lot where I decided to hitch a ride from there to the house since Martin was going that way and he offered to give me a lift. I already had 50 miles in, so I was good with skipping the last three.miles back to the house.

I was pretty pleased with the outcome of the ride. We didn't mess around, covering the entire loop in slightly less than four hours. I felt pretty good. I am happy with how I am coming back after being ill and off the bike for the better part of a month without any real long rides. Unfortunately, with the iffy weather at this point in the year, I may not get in that SS Century Ride I wanted to do. I am pretty sure I could take a stab at it soon, but me having the time and the weather lining up is getting tougher to have work out.

But that's okay if it doesn't happen. I'll keep working on things and next year I hope to be pushing more century rides and having fun. Till then, it might happen again this year, it might not. Trans Iowa v14 is calling too. Lots to do before 2017 closes out.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Minus Ten Review- 45

Riding the North side of Camp Ingawanis on an SE Stout SS rig.
Ten years ago on the blog I was still riding and testing stuff for the old "Twenty Nine Inches" website. This was a weird time for me as I had a bunch of stuff I was obligated to test with very little time to test it out. It was November, after all, and who knew when it might snow to the point we couldn't ride anymore? This made for some stressful times.

Interestingly enough, the cycling industry was, and still is, quite interested in sending out items for testing and review at this time of year. I always was a bit taken aback by this. Don't they know it snows in the upper Mid-West? But of course, when the vast majority of companies are based in cycling-centric SoCal, or in other warm, comfortable places, then I suppose it makes sense that they might not take harsh Winter conditions into consideration. Whatever the case, I was always pressed for any time for anything outside of testing stuff from late October till whenever the snow flew or the temperatures dropped to the teens or below. That was the point at which it made any kind of riding more a game of survival than anything.

Understanding companies would sometimes allow us to hang on to bikes till Spring broke and we could ride again, which was always appreciated. But, that wasn't always the case, so I had to ride as much as I could back in '07-'10 during this time of the year. After that, I had Grannygear in SoCal and our German based rider, cg, to rely on since their weather allowed for riding in Winter with no real problems.

It was a different world back then. Once Winter snowed out the trails, it was over for riding unless the gravel was open and I could ride in the country, but sometimes that was too icy. Fat bikes weren't a thing yet. I normally would wish for enough snow to XC ski, but barring that, it was a time of rest and waiting. Trans Iowa stuff was usually done during this time, and ten years ago, I was still running registration for v4.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Book Review: "Gravel Cycling"

The copy of Gravel Cycling that I paid for has been read now. How was it?
Instead of a typical "Friday News And Views" post you are going to get my take on this new book about gravel cycling called......"Gravel Cycling".

I know, an amazing title, right? But it gets right to the point. The book is by Nick Legan, who you may remember from his stint at "Velo News". Nick is an admitted gravel cycling lover and he also has a penchant for bikepacking. Yes- he managed to squirrel that into a book called "Gravel Cycling". 

So, how's that work? Well, it does to the extent that a certain event is arguably the defining event for the bikepacking genre'. That would be the Tour Divide. The course for this event, early on known as the "Great Divide Race", has been described by one of its early promoters as "a boring gravel route". So there ya go. It fits in that vein, I suppose. Oddly enough, when you read the book it actually does fit together. This gravel to bikepacking leap is more seamless than you'd imagine at first.

And that is really a feat. Nick Legan has basically shown us that in between the go-fast, shaved leg world of road cycling and the full-face helmet wearing, knobby tired world of mountain biking, their exists a realm of cycling based more on adventure and challenges. Ridden off pavement, this realm of cycling ranges far and wide and this is where "Gravel Cycling" is aimed at. The places, people, and gear that help define this genre's place in the cycling world is what Nick Legan has attempted to show us here. Is he successful?

Well, for the answer to that you can click HERE and read my review on "Riding Gravel". What I will say here is that if you are new to gravel road riding, "gravel curious", but maybe never intending to ride gravel, or if you have been reading these Trans Iowa Rookie advice posts all week with great interest, I suggest that you get this book. It's only $24.95, and I will tell you- you'll get more good tips than $24.95 can buy you elsewhere. In other words, just the knowledge within the pages is worth the asking price. But you also get some awesome photography as well. The book is loaded with stunning images.

So, for the "real review", read my piece on "Riding Gravel". But yes- it is a good bit of work and I feel that many who enjoy gravel road cycling will enjoy this book.

Note- I bought "Gravel Cycling" with my own damn money and I was not bribed nor paid for this review.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Trans Iowa v14: A Discussion About Tires

What you want for tires in Trans Iowa can vary.Typical dry Spring conditions like this call out for one thing.
Hey, I'm back again with the last question for the series.These last few posts were generated by a Rookie's questions that I received and he graciously allowed me to share with all of you so that the answers could be a benefit to many. Thank you especially to those Trans Iowa and gravel road savvy veterans who have chimed in on the comment section for these posts which has enriched the discussion immensely. Please continue to add to the discussion in the comments again today if you are so led to do that.

Okay, with that, here is the final question:  "If it is wet are you better to run a smaller tire for more mud clearance?"

Answer: That's a more complicated question than you might imagine. First off, having some mud clearance is best. Coming in to any gravel event in the Mid-West with your tire clearances maxed out by some fatty tire choice is only asking for trouble. One sticky, gooey, muddy section will make you regret that choice! Even if 99% of the rest of the course is dry! 

Secondly- If you see muddy roads, especially minimum maintenance roads, it may be best to pick up your bicycle and walk! Mud tends to cling to everything in the Mid-West and it is tenacious! Even just rolling your bicycle on muddy dirt is a really bad idea because it doesn't matter if you have weight on the bike or not. This mud doesn't care!

About as mushy as gravel roads can get. This scene is from T.I.v6
Sometimes it rains hard enough or long enough that the roads get mushy. This won't require you to have copious amounts of mud clearance, but you should have at least 3mm-5mm around your tires where they pass under the fork crown, the "brake bridge" and seat stay area, and in between the chain stays and the tire.

This will allow your frame to pass any wet, sticky bits that might get pulled up by your tires. This is especially important on carbon fiber frames because hours of grinding muddy,  fine limestone paste will abrade a hole in your frame where it passes by the rear tire. That's right- and this has even been reported on a titanium frame as well, but it is much more common on carbon fiber frames. So, if you have to go with a skinnier tire to get mud clearances, then maybe you should do that.

Let's say that tire clearance isn't an issue for your bicycle. Then it may become a question of how wide do you go. Tire choices have been debated since even before the first Trans Iowa began, so I've been around for all of it. I've seen Trans Iowa finished on 28mm tires and fat bike tires, but either extreme will make you pay a big price. The reasonable choice is to run something in the 35mm-42mm range. This will be what the bulk of the Trans Iowa field will be running for tires, and has been since about T.I.v3 onward. (Many mountain bikes were used for the first two versions of the event.)

My personal favorite and a tire bourne out of Trans Iowa riding- The WTB Resolute
There is a tire which was conceived of and developed with Trans Iowa in mind, and that is the WTB Resolute. It has the unique characteristics of being a pretty decent mud shedder and it rolls very fast on hard surfaces like chip seal and cement. However; it is a pretty puffy tire and measures out to more like a 44mm tire. It is tubeless ready, by the way. Also, it is offered in a 650B size.

I might also recommend the Panaracer Gravel King SK, but that tire also is pretty puffy for its size. It may not fit your frame in the 40mm, tubeless ready version. (This tire goes more like 42mm in size, by the way.) There are skinnier versions of the Gravel King, but not all are tubeless rated. Tubeless is a highly recommended thing for Trans Iowa, by the way. Terrene makes a nice 40mm-ish tire in the Elwood as well which I really liked in 650B X 47mm size.

A skinnier, tubeless ready tire choice is available in the Donnelly MSO in the 36mm size and WTB has a 37mm Riddler which is pretty good as well.

Those are my top tire choices for Iowa gravel and some tips on how to choose a tire for your bike to ride in T.I.v14. Of course, many other choices exist, so feel free to use whatever you are confident in.

Tomorrow: A Bonus bit of advice and a review!

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Trans Iowa v14: Cue Sheet Holders

Old school cues (V3) and cue sheet holder- A sandwich baggie and a clip!
Continuing on with the series for Trans Iowa v14 Rookie advice, we will cover a question today about cue sheets. Also, I will discuss T.I.'s unique cues and at the end I have been authorized to announce a special offer to Trans Iowa riders. Again- If you have any great suggestions please leave them in the comments! Thanks for all the great suggestions left so far!

First let's get to this post's question!

"What is the best cue card holder you have found? Easy to use and easy to see cards"

Answer: In my humble opinion, that would be a Bar Yak Q:Pro. Why? Because this turnkey cue sheet holder encompasses everything all the good homemade ones have in a slick, good looking package. Plus the cues are held down in such a way that it takes a pretty severe wind to knock them off the clipboard. I've personally used a version of this cue sheet holder, (a modification of both the Q:Pro and Bar Yak's Expedition Complete system), on several occasions with zero troubles. In severe wind, I simply add a small bag clip, like you might find in a kitchen shop or grocery store, to tack down the loose end of my cue sheet baggie. If you were using laminated or card stock cues, you may not even have to do that. In Trans Iowa, your cues will be handed to you in a zip top sandwich bag, which I would recommend that you leave them in, or they may blow away, get damaged, or be destroyed if it is raining.

This is the cockpit of my Fargo Gen I as it was used for my DK My Way Century. The Bar Yak Q:Pro clipboard is front and center.
The Bar Yak Q:Pro
The Bar Yak Q: Pro was developed and is made by Joe Stiller, an ultra-distance cyclist, Trans Iowa Vet, and promoter of the Trans South Dakota race. Joe saw what many folks were using for cue sheet holders- all the home brew solutions good and bad- and he culled all the good ideas, added a few of his own, and has produced the Q:Pro cue sheet holder.

I have to say that it is a solution without peer. If you have to use cue sheets, this is a bomber way to get the job done without a lot of fuss, and it looks slick to boot. (Note- The clip comes covered in a carbon fiber sheet now to help cut down on glare.)

You certainly can come up with other solutions, but most will be less functional and poor copies of this one. I've seen old water bottles flattened out and affixed with a clip, I've seen cues dangling from key chain rings, and I've seen cues stuffed in bags of various types. Essentially, it comes down to how fast you want to get the route done. The Q:Pro will likely be one of the, if not the fastest ways to run through the cues without stopping. Weather will dictate some of this as well, since if it gets to be one of those gale force windy Trans Iowas, you may have to hang on to your sheets in one of your hands!

A Word About Trans Iowa Cue Sheets: I would be remiss if I also did not cover what the cues for Trans Iowa will be like here. It may affect your choices for cue sheet holders.

First of all, the cues are typically about 4" X 5", but they vary slightly sometimes. The last two years I've had them "professionally cut", so the sizes have been more uniform than in years past. The cues are made from a card stock, but it is maybe only what you would call "heavy paper". Suffice it to say that the cues sheet paper is delicate and that the ink will run at the slightest hint of moisture. Be aware and take care!

Genuine T.I.v13 cues in the baggie they were distributed in. This is what you can expect for v14.
Back when I chose this format for the cues, which was around T.I.v4, there weren't very many events and no one was sharing how they did things. I had the choice of using the typical "tulip" style cues, but I thought they were weird, so I went with what I thought was a more direct style. I found the template on an old randonneur site, so it wasn't something I made up. I borrowed it and made it my own, since basically all the other events subsequently went with the "tulip" style. Who knew back then how it would all go? I certainly did not, but now you know the "why" about the cues. As far as the "how they work" aspect, I rarely get any complaints about them. Apparently, as long as you can read them, they are just fine with 99% of the folks that have used them.

Note: I will do a long, detailed explanation post about navigation and the course later.

Now for the announcement! Bar Yak has once again agreed to be a sponsor of Trans Iowa! This is an awesome sponsor and Trans Iowa has benefited from  Bar Yak's kindness before. This time Bar Yak has promised us two Q:Pro set ups to be given away at Trans Iowa along with a special discount for Trans Iowa v14 riders. If your name is on the T.I.v14 roster, and if you want to get a Q: Pro cue sheet holder, you can avail yourself of a generous 10% discount and free shipping. Just make sure your name is on the roster which can be seen by clicking here.

Next: A discussion about tires. 

NOTE: Guitar Ted Productions was not bribed nor paid for the recommendation of the Bar Yak Q:Pro and Bar Yak is not receiving any special consideration for its sponsorship of Trans Iowa as a result of this post or the offer made solely on the decision of Bar Yak to extend the discount to Trans Iowa v14 riders. The discount and free shipping applies only to current roster spot holders on the Trans Iowa site. The discount may be revoked, changed, or the time it is offered may be set at the sole discretion of Bar Yak and its representatives.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Trans Iowa v14: Lights and Batteries

Lights are a big deal for Trans Iowa. (Image by Jason Boucher)
Continuing on with the Trans Iowa v14 advice for the Rookies, here are the next two questions. Both of these have to do with lights and batteries. Again- If you have good suggestions please consider leaving them in a comment. Thanks! So without further adieu, let's dive in here. 

"I have a handle bar light I am happy with but have not been able to find a helmet light. Any helmet light suggestions to make seeing your cockpit easy?"

Answer: One of the more recent innovations useful to night time cyclists is the explosion of LED lighting technologies. In fact, things change on a year by year, and almost month by month, basis anymore. I find it amazing, and if you dig in to the LED light market, you might come away with a glazed over look in about half an hour. There is so much out there I cannot possibly cover it all in one post, or a week's worth.

Certainly it is entirely possible for anyone to build their own lights from scratch, but prices for Asian sourced lights make it almost not worth your time to even pick up a soldering iron. Cheap lights are one thing, but getting something that works without annoying issues is another. So, thinking along the lines of what actually works in a no fuss manner, here are some features I would require in a helmet light.

  • Light weight, fully self contained system. No external bateries.
  • Fully capable of illuminating the road/cues for 9 hours with no battery changes.
  • At least 150 Lumens of power.  
That may sound like a tall order. However; it shouldn't be impossible with today's LED light choices and most will come with helmet mounts. (Be sure to check before you buy if the mount is included or a separate purchase)

 So, let's break this down- First off, 150 Lumens is what I consider the lower threshold of where a rider can use the light emitted for navigation. Any less and you'll have a difficult time seeing anything and you will certainly "outrun" the light on downhills. So, what I usually look for is a higher powered light that has a medium or low setting that is at least 150 Lumens or as high as 250 Lumens. (NOTE- I might use a higher powered light on my handle bars, but 250 Lumens is plenty there as well.) By the way, a helmet light is more than something you'll use for just seeing cues with. You'll need it to read signs on corners and to "shoot your light up the road" or side to side as you negotiate down hills and as you try to find good riding lines at night. Usually you can find a light that will run for several hours at the power levels I'm suggesting that aren't too heavy and cumbersome.

Jeremy Fry heading out into the night during T.I.v7 (Image by Wally Kilburg)
Secondly, you don't have to run that helmet light all the time. This may allow you to get a lighter light with less run time and still make it work for the entire evening. Also, and it is something else to consider, but if you are running in a pack of riders, or with a small group, helmet lights become a bit superfluous. You may as well shut them off until you hit a high speed down hill or are approaching a corner you need to turn at.

There are generator lights that are amazing, but..... That requires a special wheel, wiring, and special high end lights need to be considered here. Rain and mud could be a factor, so inexpensive generator lights may not be a good choice. A great system would also have a USB port for charging techno-gadgets, so there is that advantage to consider here. A generator system is a viable choice, but they are expensive and they aren't necessary to see well in Trans Iowa. Choose what you think is best here.

Finally, I know I haven't addressed seeing your cues, but it shouldn't be an issue with a helmet light. Generally speaking, most lights have enough "spill" that you may not have to look downward anymore than usual to get the bars illuminated to see your cues on the cue sheet holder. (More on cue card holders later)

The next question is based on power for devices and lights. Here it is: "What is the best way to keep your light and computer charged for 30 hours? Best external battery pack?  Dynamo hub?"

This Lezyne light can be purchased with an external battery pack which doubles its run times, easily encompassing a Trans Iowa.
Answer: Well, again, finding an LED light that will go for the entirety of Trans Iowa should be easy to do nowadays. The light you choose may have run times suitable to go the 9 to ten hours you'll need light without a battery pack, or you may need an extra battery, but this is getting to be less and less of an issue these days.

If you insist on using a high drain computer, (GPS), then you probably should look into an external battery charging device.  (Or the generator hub idea discussed above.) There are tons of choices out there. Dirt Bag Tip: Turn OFF your cell phone until you need it. Most smart phone batteries will hold a charge for days when turned off and do you really want to get all those social media updates while you are trying to ride 300 plus miles? Yeah.....I don't think so. 

The GPS computer on the left might last you all of TI- The one on the right will definitely do it!
 The bottom line here is that you can make choices that won't require you to worry at all about batteries or device charging. So, to answer the question in a snarky way- "Just choose components that don't need charging!". You can thank me later for this brilliant advice to avoid energy draining techno-gadgets. Sarcasm aside, the fact is, you don't need that stuff to ride Trans Iowa and it makes life a bit easier if you don't. In the end, it is your choice to make in regard to how much complexity you want to add to your stress levels.

Again to recap- Lights are amazing these days and finding great lights for the helmet or bars that would run for the dark hours of Trans Iowa without recharging or plugging in new batteries is a definite, reasonably priced reality. It wasn't always this way, even five years ago. Battery charging devices exist that will keep a Garmin running for 30 plus hours easily. (But again- you don't have to choose that head ache. A wireless Cat Eye for 50 bucks will run forever and you won't have to turn it on and off. ) Side Note- Getting exact mileage is a game that you won't win. You'll be off on mileages considering that you'll be wavering, taking side trips for resupply, and possibly making wrong turns. You should think of mileage as a "suggestion"- to be a relative cue for your eyes to look for signs that will match up with cue sheet prompts. Or......hook yourself to a veteran Trans Iowa rider and don't let go! Sooner or later you'll get the hang of it if you pay attention.

Next: Cue Sheet Holders

Monday, November 06, 2017

Trans Iowa v14: How To Plan For The Weather

Welcome to a series of posts for the Trans Iowa v14 competitors. Now, keep in mind, you may also gain something from this even if you are not in Trans Iowa, but it is mainly for these people that I am writing this time.

The inspiration for the series came from a question from a Rookie and through a few e-mails it was decided that the questions should be answered that he had openly so everyone can take advantage of the answers. (Thanks for agreeing to that, by the way!) Also- If you are a reader and have any great suggestions or ideas for these questions, feel free to pop that in a comment and submit it.

This series will kick off by answering a few questions about weather related issues and Trans Iowa. Some back ground here from one of the e-mails I received: "Here in (where the e-mailer is from) it rarely gets below  40 degrees. Typically leg warmers, socks and a light jacket will get you through the winter. I do own a pair of tights and and a med weight base layer. If it rains here we just ride in it because it is a warm rain. We have had less than 1” of snow over the last 3 years. Today it was almost 80."

It is not unusual for Trans Iowa to be wet, cold, and windy.
 So, here's the first question: "How do I dress for cold wet weather? Thermal tights? Should I look at cold and wet as the same thing?"

Answer: As with any cold weather cycling, you should think about three things: Layers, venting, and vapor barriers. If wetness is in the forecast, then waterproofness might also become a concern. However; waterproof materials aren't a totally necessary thing. I'll explain later.

Trans Iowa typically is cool to cold to start out with. We've had snow flurries at the start, rain, wind, you name it. However; generally speaking it is going to start out in the 40's somewhere and go as high as 70° during the day and back down again to the 40's. We've had a lot of night time temps into the mid 30's, and several TI's that never got out of the 50's for highs. This all means that you probably will need to think about layers and how those can work to be convertible to warmer temps and added on when it gets colder. Remember- Saturday night of Trans Iowa will come after you've been riding for 16 hours already. You are guaranteed to be sweaty and soaked, even if the atmosphere is dry. You'll want layers for the evening.

While there are freaks of nature on both ends of the "clothing needed spectrum", I am limiting my suggestions to the norms I know. Yes to thermal tights! Those are pretty much a standard TI clothing choice. Okay- if the weather is forecast to be decent, knickers. Or shorts with leg warmers. The top layers can vary, but after reading tons of rider reports, the following things have risen to the top of the mention pile. Base Layer: Light synthetic, Summer weight or light wool. Then usually a wool layer of some sort. (Note- you don't have to wear both base layers at once. You may want to save one for later)  Folks vary between tank, short sleeve, and long sleeved here. Then a jersey, usually short sleeved and made long sleeved with arm warmers. A wind jacket then is usually used over all that. A clear rain jacket or cheapo-thin rain jacket like an O2 rain jacket can be used here as well.

Following are some images from past Trans Iowas to help here.......

Start line of V8. Things were wet, windy, and cool. Note- There are some bare legs.  Image by Wally Kilburg.
Trans Iowa v10. SUPER WINDY! It was warm too. Image by Wally Kilburg.
Bruce Gustafson during the abysmal T.I.v11. It was raining, 30mph winds, and about 38°F
So, the next question or two is related: How do you keep your hands warm and mobile?  Boots or shoe covers if it is cold and wet?

Mark Johnson made use of plastic shopping bags as vapor/wind barriers for hands and feet in T.I.v13 Image by Jon Duke
Answer: Well, as can be seen above, booties/shoe covers and toe covers are rare in Trans Iowa. Some use them though. I suspect vapor barriers are common. Waterproof socks might also make the cut. Wool socks- definitely! A thin vapor barrier sock and the knowledge of how to use that is a good idea. Dirt bag tip: Use plastic shopping bags.  Weather will dictate what you will want on your feet, so bring the stuff and make a "game time decision", but in my experience, booties/shoe  covers are rare, aero shoe covers, or thin shoe covers are more common. However; if you suffer from cold toes at 50°F, then bring a pair of neoprene shoe covers or something like a 45NRTH Japanther/Fasterkatt boot. Just realize that it could go from 40 degrees to 70 and back again. Most choose the "go light-freeze at night" strategy and use the cold to motivate them to just keep moving forward. If you stop, you're toast.

Hands are another thing. I usually see a glove liner and a thicker over-glove or mitten. That way you can shed layers down to bare hands during the day and back to layered up at night. We've seen BarMitts used though, so there are those that go the pogie route. Again, bringing everything and basing the decision on what to wear based upon weather at the time of Trans Iowa is usually the go-to method for many riders.

I know it is really tempting to go for the waterproof jackets, but you will be on your bike so long that you will end up making it rain inside your jacket with sweat anyway. I've seen the packable, clear, cheapo rain jackets used more than I have any high dollar, super fabric commuter rain jacket. That is usually more for the wind than it is for the rain though. Now Goretex has that new jacket that gets rave reviews, but it is $300 plus bucks too. If you can swing it, I've heard it is amazing.

Tomorrow: Lights and Batteries

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Minus Ten Review- 44

The long discontinued WTB Sout (L) and a Maxxis Ignitor.
Ten years ago on the blog I was going through the registration process for Trans Iowa v4. Remembering how badly I wanted to stop Trans Iowa after v3 due to several reasons, I recall a post here from 10 years ago that reflects my feelings about one of the reasons why I wasn't too keen on doing another TI. Here's a snippet of what I posted back then.

"A personal note: If you are just toying with the idea of T.I.V4 and are not really sure you would do it, but are going to get your foot in the door just in case.......don't do it! Don't even bother registering. You'll most likely drop out, and thus waste a lot of resources and time on my end. We have had drop outs the first two years, (T.I.V2 most notably because of the weather), but nothing approaches the scale of last year/this past spring where a full 64 people dropped out after being registered! That's right, half of the registered field! 35 didn't bother at all to say they wouldn't show up last April and I had their cue sheets ready, race packets ready, and had what little swag readied for them too. I worked several hours with my family helping out to get that done and they stiffed me. Thanks! (grrrrr!!)

So, yeah.....that kinda cheeses me off and frankly was one of the reasons that T.I. almost didn't happen again."

Since the T.I.v3 debacle, I had figured out ways to get the riders to tell me that they weren't coming earlier than the night before the event, or worse, to not even show up at all. I had gotten things to where a two to four "no-show" rate had become the norm.

Until last year! 

I had about a dozen folks drop off the roster the last week before T.I.v13, and once again, that "really cheeses me off". Anyone on the T.I.v14 roster should take note.

I also had three sets of tires from WTB to test. Way too many for one rider to do before Winter hit, so I asked a then friend of mine, Rob, to help out with that. I used the WTB Stout, a big, burly tread with a tough, heavy casing. I thought it was an awesome tire, but once again, WTB was waaaay out in front of reality when it came to 29"ers. Today had a tire like this been offered in a TCS tubeless ready version, no one would bat an eyelash. The weight would have been seen as normal, the big, burly casing, desirable, and these would really help an all mountain/enduro 29"er rig in technical terrain.

Trouble was such bikes did not exist yet ten years ago beyond a few oddball rigs from Lenz or other small builders. So, what riders wanted then were fatter tires, but to also have them be lighter weight. A conundrum that bedeviled the 29"er tire market for years until trail riders started using wider rims and the need for burlier tires was rekindled. The result in the end was that many folks turned their backs on the three burly WTB tire choices, the Kodiak, the Dissent, and the Stout, and all three were fairly quickly discontinued. Only the Dissent found any real popularity, and that was from the few riders who were daring enough to ride longer travel 29"ers ten years ago.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Friday News And Views

Ritchey finally has their gravel road bike available.
Ritchey Announces Availability Of Their Gravel Bike:

From the company whose head honch said, "All road bikes are gravel bikes", comes a bike designed specifically for gravel road riding.

I know........I know. 

Marketing 180's and trends aside, here are a couple of things I noted about this bike now that it is out and the geometry and spec has been revealed.

First of all, it is a 1X specific bike. (Note- While the videos I saw showed the bike as a 1X I have been corrected and it is front derailleur compatible. Thanks to you commenters for being astute and pointing that out) That is certainly on trend, but it is certainly a deal killer for many folks. We can debate the 1X vs 2X for gravel all day long, but here is my take on that in a nutshell: 1X designs cater to the gravel rider with mtb leanings. Whether or not 1X for gravel makes any sense or not is another debate, but simply from the mtb side, you can see why 1X is being pushed here. It indicates to me that several companies aren't sure what a gravel bike is so they are shooting darts at a target they cannot see. In the end, they interpret the genre' from their viewpoint. Ritchey is based on the West Coast, they are a mountain bike heavy company, and their lens for seeing the gravel world is West Coast based. Taken in that light, I get it. Again- whether or not that is right is some other discussion. UPDATE: So, I got that part wrong. However; as stated all the press release stuff I've seen shows the bike as a 1X with no technical bullet points leading me to believe otherwise. But I never saw the website on the bike, and that's my fault. Sorry about the misinformation here. Perhaps, as one commenter implied on a post earlier, I am getting senile. Oh well! That said, because the bike is featured as a 1X in the promotions for this rig, I will still leave in my take on why the Ritchey folks set it up that way.

Secondly- This bike has zero braze ons. None other than water bottle mounts. This also speaks to the Ritchey design type over the years where a race focused, stripped down, purposeful bike has been the norm rather than the exception from that company. However; in my opinion, it limits the appeal of the bike. The Ritchey Ascent, another "adventure based" design, seems to have all these braze on points, but it is only offered in the Breakaway version which adds a lot of cost to the frame and fork. It looks like "Riding Gravel" is going to get a go on one of these Outbacks, so stay tuned for that if it happens.

I attended a People For Bikes Draft meeting Thursday evening.
 Let's Talk Bikes:

The organization, "People For Bikes", is well known amongst those who stay close to advocacy issues for cyclists. Recently they have helped organize "meet ups" where local cycling communities can gather for beers and conversations to get to know what is up in their area as far as cycling initiatives go. They call it "Draft"

I went to the Waterloo, Iowa event held at Single Speed Brewery. There I learned why the Park Avenue bike lanes seem so jacked up, (they are just a beginning and a work in progress), I learned about a new bike share company called "Koloni", (aiming at getting low cost bike shares at trail heads and communities outside of large metropolitan areas), and how the Cedar Valley Nature Trail needs funds to maintain and repair infrastructure that will make it a complete trail again. Plus I heard from a couple of local State legislators on issues concerning cyclists in Iowa. I met a few folks and hung out with some acquaintances.

Oh......and I had a few beers!

The meeting was well attended and received. I thought I came away from it enriched and more knowledgeable in our areas cycling culture. There will be a Draft meet-up in Des Moines on January 25th, so you folks down that way should show up and check it out. It is good stuff. Draft is also being held in other communities across the nation. Check it out here.

Fairies wear booties. Just ask Ozzy.
Okay......One More Time!

I used to wear booties, or "shoe covers", if you'd rather, all the time whenever the weather got cold. They pretty much sucked. All of them. Then came the 45NRTH boots with the "shoe cover" built in. Wow! What an improvement.

Yes, those boots had their issues, (I still rock them, by the way), but the basic premise was brilliant. While it meant that you had to buy another pair of cycling specific footwear, who doesn't like shoes and boots? Okay, maybe if you are a Hobbit, but otherwise......

So, I swore off booties and I figured as long as I could get these "tweener" season boots, I was going to go that route. Then came these Bont shoes in for review on Riding Gravel. Obviously, going deeper into Fall and approaching Winter fast, those shoes weren't going to be optimal without additional armoring against the bitter winds and cold, frosty air. That's when I figured I had better take another look at booties. (Apologies to those who say "shoe covers". For me, these will forever be "booties")

I work at a Trek/Bontrager dealer so I took home these Bontrager RXL Waterproof "booties". Well, I must admit. Things have changed a bit since I last wore these accursed booties of doom. They are actually not too bad. A big pain to draw over your shoes, but they look well designed and as long as they do not come apart, expose my toes, or get snagged in the drive train, I'll be good. Time will tell.

Okay, that wraps up another Friday News And Views. Take care and have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Slow Day At The Office

The current state of the Snow Dog
Wednesday was cold, dreary, and it rained/snowed/sleeted almost all day. It was an awesome start to November. (sarcasm alert) Yeah........soooo exciting! 

I ran an errand on the 1X1 across town, then I piddled around the house doing things I should have gotten done when it was Sunny, nice, and I wanted to get out and ride. We need the dreary days, that's certainly true, if not for anything else but for getting those "in the way of cycling" chores done. And rest. We should rest sometimes.......

I haven't been motivated enough to get out in the windy, cold weather on gravel. It has been very windy here of late, and just riding around in town has been a chore in acclimatizing oneself again to cold weather riding. I imagine once the shock of it wears off I'll be out there again. It was only a week ago I was riding coatless out in the country. Not anymore!

This colder weather has hit sooner, it seems to me, than it has for several years. I know we've had decent, snow free roads till December for several years now. I'm hoping that is the case again because not only do I need to ride more country roads, I need to get going on Trans Iowa recon!

So, I have been riding the fat bikes more again. I haven't busted out the Blackborow yet, but the Ti Muk and The Snow Dog have been in the rotation quite a bit of late. It just seems like fat biking weather to me again, what with this onslaught of cold, windy weather we've had recently.

The Ti Muk from a recent Dirt Home From Work ride on the banks of the Cedar River.
I was thinking about redoing the Snow Dog with some new bits, but instead I just popped on a new 9 speed chain, which was all it really needed. I saw that the powdercoat is bubbling off the chain and seat stay braces pretty badly. The old dog is nearly seven years old now. That frame is woefully outdated, and the components, while serviceable, are tired and old as well. The frame/fork owe me nothing. The Snow Dog has given me a good life of service.

Surly's Wednesday frame/fork- Possible Snow Dog upgrade.
I could do a new powder coat, and that would keep it going, I suppose. But I was also thinking I could just as well upgrade to something a little more modern, useful to me, and also be able to swap over all my components with the exception of the seat post and headset. That upgrade would be a Surly Wednesday frame/fork.

Yes, the Wednesday has a 150mm spaced front fork, but....My spare Ti Muk fork would go right in there and look fab, since it is black. Then that solves the issue with having to switch hubs on the front wheel. The seat post size is a dropper standard 30.9mm, so my current 27.2mm would have to be shimmed if I wanted to use it. Essentially, I could use everything I already have but the head set, and I may even have that at work in my tool box. Potentially, I may need nothing but a seat post shim. But worst case scenario, it would be what I stated previously for parts, and that isn't bad at all.

The Wednesday does have bigger tire clearances than the Snow Dog, it has all the same, expedition type braze-ons, and eventually I could upgrade to the wider front hub and have everything up to snuff with regard to "standards". Besides, the Wednesday has through axles compatibility as well, which the Snow Dog does not have at all. The head set is tapered steer tube compatible, and the Snow Dog's is not, and neither is it suspension fork compatible. Upgrading the frame from the Snow Dog makes a lot of sense. It would almost be like coming from the 90's in to the teens of the 21st Century in terms of upgrades.

Will I pull the trigger? Maybe. Probably. I don't know...... These are the things that happen when you have too much time on your hands and it is slow.