Friday, December 14, 2018

Friday News And Views

Wolf Tooth Seat Collar
The Final Piece Of The Puzzle:

Wednesday Wolf Tooth made an announcement concerning a new component that they were going to add to their line. A seat collar. Just a seat collar.........

But, this one comes in PURPLE! 

Okay, so back in June I ordered a bunch of parts for my new Black Mountain Cycles MCD which, as everyone knows now, is pink. I wanted a purple seat collar and I had a really hard time tracking one down. Salsa used to make them, but I could not find anything in a small enough size that would work on the BMC frame which is steel, of course.

I tracked down a possibility but it was just too big, and so I went with the stock one that came with the frame. I'd pretty much given up hope that I'd ever track one down. But this news that came on Wednesday was well received here. I definitely will be getting one, and in a bonus- it is from the same company my head set is from. 

Of course, they make all the other cool anodized colors as well in several different sizes. You can go HERE to see the webpage on Wolf Tooth's site. MSRP is $24.95

The Mississippi Gravel Cup flyer
Why I Never!  

There is this thing called "preconceived notions" that can lead you astray. I know I have been led astray by these notions I have had about different things in the past. Sometimes we don't acknowledge these notions because it makes us seem "weak", "wrong", or whatever. I know sometimes people like to only talk about the aftermath of their preconceived notions getting torn down by saying "mind blown!", or by using some other clever, socially current phrase. Me? I'm just going to tell you right up front.

I was dead wrong about Mississippi. 

Jason Sheerer, a resident of Mississippi, came to ride in Trans Iowa last spring. He finished well, and afterward he said something to the effect that "Iowa is boring. Nothing but empty corn and soybean fields. But the race was great!" That bothered me a bit, and I thought to myself, "Yeah, but Mississippi isn't all that great. Probably nothing but cotton fields."

And that was that. Jason went home and I went on with my business. Then this whole deal with interviewing he and his wife came about for a "Featured Event" post for RidingGravel.com. (That should post this weekend, by the way) As I was speaking with them, I was getting a completely different picture of Mississippi painted for me. One of beautiful National Forests, winding gravel roads, and fun people to ride with. Their words made me excited to go ride there.

Then they sent me some pictures.

Let's just say that I am seriously considering making the trip down to take in one of their events. Check out their site here.

The Bubblegum Princess with 650B wheels
Gimme The Big Ones:

So, this whole 650B wheeled thing has been around here at Guitar Ted Laboratories for a couple years, maybe three now. Anyway, I've given them the good ol' "college try". I have compared and contrasted them with 700c wheels on three different bikes and with a few different tires and wheel sets. I think I've come to some good conclusions.

While the 650B wheels and tires do some things pretty well, the most impressed I ever was with them was when I rode on pavement. They just can be so pillowy-smooth that it is incredibly fun. On gravel it was a mixed bag. The best tires I ever used were Terrene Elwoods or WTB Byways. In either case, I could make an argument to always run 650B. However, when it comes to good, 700c X 42-45mm wheel and tires, hands down the ride and performance is better on gravel. It's almost as nice on pavement many times, and it is neck and neck with 650B on dirt and sand.

So, unless I am testing 650B tires, I am reverting back to 700c wheels and tires 24-7. It's just better all day, every day. At least it is for me. Now, like I said, if I was doing a road tour, I would seriously consider the 650B X 47mm Horizons or Byways. Fully bagged out, self-supported road touring would make sense, to me, on wheels like that. But out on the plains, on gravel, on Level B roads, in Kansas, in Nebraska, in Minnesota, I'm running 700c wheels without question.

End Of The Year Questions:

In May of 2019 I will be entering my 15th year of blogging. (!!!!) So, I was thinking about doing something special to celebrate that fact and I had a few questions for you as readers of the blog to ponder. Basically, I am searching for feedback, and if you'd be so kind as to respond via commenting here or by e-mail, that would be awesome.

I have a few ideas I wanted to run by y'all. In no particular order.....
  • I've been thinking about a t-shirt. I could use the logo seen here, which I've used even before I started blogging, by the way. I also have the "OG" sketch for this logo which is a tiny bit different, but I've always liked it. Basically it is what you see here with a smoking skull on top of the cube. ha! Jeff Kerkove didn't like it back when he digitized this image for me. So that wasn't ever published. Anyway, a bit of blog history there. Let me know if a t-shirt would be something you'd like to see and purchase. 
  • A New Series Idea: I can tell you right now that the most popular thing I am doing here, by far, is the "Touring Series" posts. Those posts are drawing twice the views most of my other stuff is. Obviously you folks like the series! The thing is, after January, the series will be over. So, I have room for some other regularly appearing series to take its place. My mind has settled on doing Trans Iowa stories. One of my readers has suggested I write a book about Trans Iowa. Well, this could be the beginning drafts of that. You could be a part of the process. I'm not sure how it will look, but I can cross that bridge later if y'all want to see me do this. 
  • Don't Change A Thing!: I could also do nothing special. I could just keep chugging along as I always have. By the way, this year figures to be #2 on post count all time. So, yeah.......I'm keepin' busy here! 
  • Change Something! Maybe you do want to see something I haven't mentioned done. Something you've always thought I should cover, talk about, or do. This is your chance to steer the ship. Say it now or forever hold yer peace! 
Anyway, this has been a banner year here. Thank you for reading and for coming back every day. I know some of you hit this space once or twice a week and catch up on several posts at a crack. I also do know, (because I've been told by many of you) that I am your morning coffee read, or "the first thing I do" read, and for that I say, THANK YOU!

That's enough for this edition of "FN&V" Have a great weekend and I'll be out riding. Will you?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bike Iowa Pogie Lites Reviewed

A while back I mentioned that the good folks behind Bike Iowa had sent me some of their Pogie Lites. These are basically loosely based on the traditional "pogie", or handle bar covering, which keeps wind and weather off your hands to aid in keeping warm and dry. If you care to know the origins of this sort of product, Neil Beltchenko wrote a bit about the history of this product for Bikepacker.com and you can read that HERE.

Pogies for cycling have become big, stiffer, and somewhat unwieldy in some cases, making them useful only in special situations. Bike Iowa's Scott Sumpter saw this and sought to make a pogie that would be useful in other situations than Arctic type weather. A pogie that was more wide ranging in use, one that wouldn't be cumbersome to remove during a ride, or install during a ride. A pogie for four seasons and not just for flat bar equipped bicycles. Scott had a tall order, but now offers the solution he came up with called Pogie Lites.

Made in "Central Iowa", the $75.00 Pogie Lites are shaped much like traditional pogies with a cinch strap made of webbing which is on the end with the "Bike Iowa" logo. This end goes over your controls and cinches down on your handle bar. The other opening, the wider one, has a structure sewn inside, (a wire, I'm guessing) which keeps the opening, well.......open. This is important for ingress and egress for your hands during riding. This end also features a corded closure with a toggle to tighten the cord down around your wrist. This is similar in nature to what you'd find on most sporting outerwear jackets.

Pogie Lites on my flat bar Ti Mukluk
Bike Iowa claims these light weight pogies fit flat bars, drop bars, or the unusual Jones Bar, of which I have examples of all three here. First up we have a traditional flat bar set up here. I used my Ti Mukluk with the Pogie Lites.

They are super easy to install. The strap on the handle bar is easily loosened to get over the controls and easily tightened to seal out cold winds and weather. The extra strapping can be lodged in the hook and through a loop sewn into the collar. I was impressed with how quickly this all went.

The structure which holds the other end open allows you to sneak your hand in and draw up the pogie over your hand. There is a bit of a learning curve to this part, but once you get the hang of it, one handed operation is easy while the other hand is on the handle bar. While riding it is easy to pull out your hand for any reason and replace it again inside of the pogie. I have to say that you become painfully aware of how often you actually do this when you get pogies of any sort. Kind of like when you start out on a fixed gear bicycle, you are reminded how much of the time you are coasting. Anyway.....

Pogie Lites live up to their name in several ways. First off, they weigh about 3 ounces. The are made of a lightweight material, although it isn't specified on their website what it is exactly. The material is very flexible and that's where the magic of these comes in at. This lightweight, flexible material allows for a few things that typical pogies for cycling do not. One is how you can operate your bicycle's controls from outside the pogie. So, for instance, let's say that you removed your hand to swipe that pesky bit of mucus dangling from your nostril and suddenly you need to brake. You can by grasping the lever from the outside of the pogie. You simply just smash the fabric around the lever and squeeze as you would anyway. It isn't ideal, obviously, but in a pinch, yeah.....it'll work. 

The Pogie Lite on drop bars
This was very evident when I put the Pogie Lites on a set of drop bars so I could use the drops primarily. You can also put them on in the "opposite direction" so your hands would be in a primarily hoods position. But as I had them oriented, I could withdraw my hand from within the Pogie Lite and set my hands on the hoods. I could use the levers for braking and shifting, despite the fact they were covered up. Obviously, you could do this with them oriented in the other position as well, but I haven't tried them that way yet.

I also put the Pogie Lites on my Blackborow DS fat bike which has Jones carbon H-Bars. The Pogie Lites fit these bars very well and in the end, I think they actually worked the best with Jones Bars. But that was only by a slight amount. They really work great on about any bar. Well, just about any bar........

I will say that putting these on the drop bars was a challenge in the way I did it since the smaller end has to go on first, and it has to pass over the brake lever and hood. Some of these brakes with knobby hood protrusions, like SRAM Hydro levers, probably won't fit the Pogie Lites the way I had them oriented. That's only a guess right now though. We have a bike at the shop I should check this out with, but the Pogie Lites barely cleared the hoods on the Sora levers on the Breezer RADAR Expert. Obviously, they probably would be a no-go on levers with side exiting derailleur cables too. I doubt I'd like these on a Gevenalle equipped rig either. Finally, I could see where some folks just wouldn't "get it" when it comes to these as well. Like I said, there is a bit of skill involved in getting on with them and some folks just can't be arsed to figure things out. That's fine.

As far as comfort went, I kept the wind off my hands easily with the Pogie Lites. Therefore my hands were warmer. I didn't use my heavy gloves, but since the Pogie Lites are not insulated at all, I did wear some insulated gloves when I rode with temperatures varying from the teens to the 30's.

The Pogie Lites are really easy to install and remove, plus they are really very packable. You could fold them carefully and stuff them in a jersey pocket easily. Obviously there are a lot of places these could be stowed. I can see just having them along for almost any cool to cold ride in the country, for varied weather commutes, or for fat biking anytime unless it is really crazy windy, way below zero, or both. If that's the case, an insulated pogie is probably the best bet.

In the end, I think this is a very interesting, very useful product that gravel riders, commuters, racers, bike packers, or anyone that wants a bit of comfort in their cycling could make use of. It is a simple product, durable, and easy to take care of. Plus, it is made in the USA by some pretty cool folks I happen to know. That doesn't make Pogie Lites better, it's just icing on the cake, so to speak. Anyway, these are highly recommended. I like 'em.

 Note: I was sent the Pogie Lites for test and review at no charge by Bike Iowa. I was not paid, nor bribed for this review, and I always strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

More Thoughts On The Demise Of Interbike

 NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Late last week the bombshell announcement that there would be no 2019 Interbike show was dropped on the world.

No one cared but bike nerds......

I just wanted to get that out of the way first, because in reality, only diehard cycling nut-jobs give a rip about any of this stuff. (Which, in a way points out a big problem, but that's another story) Anyway, I figured that I would offer a little bit more in depth thought and analysis from my perspective now that the dust has settled a bit. My initial take can be seen here.

There were a lot of reactions ranging from "it's about time" to all sorts of hand wringing about what is going to become of cycling now that its central gathering force is now going to be absent for the foreseeable future. I have two main thoughts about this and the first stems from what I read in Emerald Exposistions' original statement on the matter, which I doubt a lot of folks have actually taken the time to read.

They (Emerald) said that their hope is to integrate, or set alongside, any future iteration of a bicycle show with any of their several outdoor sports expositions. Emerald owns and operates several sports shows, so this would perhaps make sense in the short term. Also, it was mentioned that any future bicycle show might be regional in nature. This also makes a LOT more sense than one, more or less West Coast-centric show which not a lot of shop owners and employees can get to for various reasons. Travel expenses being tops on that list, obviously.

When I look at what Emerald Expositions states in that release, I am reading that,"Since Interbike is small, and too centralized in the West, it makes more sense to us to regionalize the show in multiple places and on multiple dates to maximize attendance. It also makes more sense monetarily to combine it within other shows which will bring more eyeballs to both cycling and other outdoor sports."

Regional shows like those put on by distributor QBP and CABDA show promise
 Let's face it, bicycling is in a cycle where it is seemingly at a low point. Show attendance has been in decline at Interbike for well over a decade. In that same time, regional bicycle shows have thrived. Sea Otter being the preeminent one, but shows that distributor QBP put on- Frostbike, Saddledrive, and shows like CABDA have drawn good attendance figures for years in a regional capacity. You have to figure that the folks at Emerald Expositions are at least paying some attention to that.

However; my second "main thought" concerning the demise of Interbike has to do with something I saw very, very few folks touch upon in the reactions I saw to the announcement. That is a thing that is as plain as the nose on my face- The Information Age. 

Many of you know I refer to the internet as the "innergoogles" because between all the ways we can share information and Google's search engine, anything you want to know about you can probably find out about within seconds. Anything. Including the latest, greatest bike gear and bicycles. Not only that, but you can likely get that info these days direct from manufacturers, or brands, and if not directly, through their PR firms. Whatever the case may be, the end result is that news can be found fast. You don't really need magazines, radio, T.V., or trade shows. All you needed was someone there to upload it all to the "intergoogles" and BOOM! End of traditional business model, baby.

This cultural shift, which happened over a period of the last 20 years, has completely upended, or what current marketing likes to say has "disrupted", everything. Literally everything. Media, schools, retail, business, music....... You get it. Everything. This includes trade shows like Interbike. Even the Interbike people tacitly admitted this when in 2017 they made a big push for everyone to attend the next Interbike in Reno, Nevada because it was the only place the industry could meet face to face.

Notice- they didn't say we needed to go to "get business done", or to "see the latest bicycles and technology", or that we should even go there to ride bicycles. They harped on the "face to face", meet people angle, because, well..........that was the only reason left to go. Meanwhile industry expo attendees were left to foot the bill for a show they brought their wares to that had no relevance in the marketplace anymore. Their return on investing in the show? The meeting of other people in the industry? I'm sorry, that's all great and stuff, but the accountants aren't down with it so much. Those accountants probably would rather that you meet people on your own dime. On the other hand you had bicycle dealers who had already placed pre-season, (if that is still a thing) orders, and had already seen the latest gear and bicycles debuted, reviewed, and forum dissected to death for weeks before Interbike ever opened their doors for that particular year. Nothing to see here.......so why go? 

From my perspective, Interbike lost relevance altogether eight years ago. The last few times I went I was pretty much wasting time and money. The decision was made in 2013 not to ever go again, and frankly, I was completely justified in that decision over the years. As a person who could be said to be loosely associated with the industry in some capacity, I suppose, I wasn't missing anything that had any relevance to my sites, I was certainly saving money, and saving time. For me, it was a win-win not to go to Interbike.

Finally, I do not see anything like Interbike ever happening again. If there is another, centralized, all-encompassing bicycle convention, it won't be "Interbike". It will be something completely different.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bikes Of 2018: Raleigh Tamland Two

Yep! The ol' Raleigh Tamland Two again. It's been a perennial bike on the list since I got it four years ago. Only four years? 

It seems like I have had this bike a lot longer than that! But after so many adventures, I suppose it does seem that way. The funny thing is, things have changed so much since then that bike came out that it is almost an antique now. That's mostly due to wheel axle standards, but still. If you cannot get good wheels for it in the future, then that about puts this bike out to pasture. Wheel standards are another whole story though......

Anyway, this bike did get tweaked again in 2018. Big surprise! The first thing was that it got a new saddle. I finally switched to a WTB Pure V on the bike and that was probably what I should have had on it forever. However; that lasted only a short time before I got a WTB Silverado in to test, and that has remained on the bike since. I also switched out the seat post again. This time for another Salsa Regulator Ti post. Love those things! I own three of them now.

Finally, I swapped out wheel sets on this bike a few times, using a carbon fiber set of Irwin Wheels with their Aon GX 35's. I settled on a set of the aluminum Irwin wheels for now though. Those a 700c hoops. I also still have the set of White Industries/WTB KOM wheels, but those are not in use at the moment.

Raleigh Tamland Two. Current sitch.
The future for the Tamland is in doubt. I still am toying with a retirement for the frame and fork. The thing is, all wheel sets I will be needing to review/use/buy in the future probably will be through axle wheels. That makes this a hard bike for me to hang on to because I need to be having bikes that are current/forward looking in the stable here. It is a big reason why I let the Twin Six Standard Rando go early this year.

The Irwin wheels are convertible, and so that makes those swappable. Obviously the rest of the bike's components, for the most part, are easy to switch over too. I've already got my eyes open looking for a possible replacement. Maybe I'll just get the alternate color Black Mountain Cycles MCD.......


Rear View '18: The Winter That Came And Went

The end of the 2017-2018 Winter was odd. We had thaws which were pretty much complete ones, then it would get cold and snowy, then it would thaw, then it would get cold and snowy..... Rinse and Repeat.

We'd get tracks beat in on the trails, everything would be great for a day, maybe two, then poof! Craptastic conditions would return and fat biking suffered because of it. That didn't mean that I didn't have fun on my fat bikes. I did. Most of the time it wasn't on packed in trails is all. I had to get creative and find my own adventures.

Much of the time these rides were commutes to work and back. I had to get in whatever snow riding I could when I could get it. Otherwise it would be melting, a mess, and fat biking wasn't really any fun at all.

I'll get more into how the bikes did in my "Bikes of 2018" series, but I happen to have two main fat bikes I use most often. The Ti Muk and the Blackborow. Both got time last Winter, but I seem to have used the Blackborow most during January and February.

I sure wished we would have gotten some extended time on trails but it wasn't to be. Eventually the warm spells got nice enough I drug out the gravel bike and the fat bikes got shunted to the back of the line. Yet the sporadic snows continued off and on right up until two weeks before the last Trans Iowa happened.

Quite possibly one of my favorite images I got all year. The "Snow Light" pic.
Speaking of Trans Iowa, of course I was in the planning stages for what I knew would be the very last Trans Iowa. There were a few details about the event that I was hammering through back at the time of these fat bike rides. One was that I really didn't like last  second drops. It was painfully obvious that right before T.I.v13 the forecast for the weekend was a bit off-putting to several riders. Like about 20 of them. That got under my skin after several years of having 2-4 no shows and drops stopping well before the event. A few extra cue sheet sets and hand decorated numbers were no big deal, but 20? 

I didn't want that to happen again. The other thing was the cue sheet hand up at the start line. I was a bit stressed out about how that would go. But in the end it was a brilliant decision. I will always say that is perhaps my biggest regret about Trans Iowa- that I didn't figure that out years ago.

Stay tuned for more "Rear View '18" posts throughout December.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Winter Views: Beauty In The Brown Season

Black Hawk Creek to the left. Trail between Fletcher and Ansborough
The beginnings of Winter here looked promising after a knid of early snow, but then it got warmer. Then it never really snowed here again. That big storm went South of us a couple of weeks back, and the latest one went waaaaay South of us! This has resulted in frozen grounds with almost zero snow.

Frozen into "Brown Season" is what it is here. The other unique part of this early Winter is that just before freezing this area was flooded. That has made for some very unusual conditions out on the trails. I had experienced some of this while testing the Breezer I have here to check out, but Saturday I saw first hand what it is like in the Green Belt, which was recently cleared out by the City of Waterloo. (Thank you!)

Saturday morning there was a gravel ride a bunch of folks went on, but since my hours have been reduced severely at the shop, I have to be very careful about spending money these days. Anyway, that meant I stayed home and did other things around the house and with the family until later into the afternoon when Mrs. Guitar Ted basically chased me out of the house to get a ride in.

I am so glad that she did that!

The weather was pretty tranquil. Hardly any wind and the skies were dull and grey for almost the entire day. That is until I decided to get out and ride. Then the clouds began to part, and the Westering Sun was promising a pretty cool light show to end the day with. I was stoked and I knew just where I wanted to be when things got started.

The water crossing by the dike near the dog park. This area is NOTHING like it used to be a few months ago!
Oh yeah! I could tell it was going to be a spectacular Sunset.
First I rode out trough the tiny bit of trail from Fletcher Avenue to Ansborough Avenue along the Black Hawk. This area got rearranged a bit near to Ansborough and there will have to be a bit of a re-route done to get folks through here anymore. That or the City will have to put in some rip-rap or some barrier to the creek from cutting the bank in further toward the backwater pond adjacent to the North. There isn't much separating the two at the moment!

What was interesting is that now there is a LOT of sand piled up in almost wavelike forms in this section. The late flooding, and with no time after to dry, has left this sand very firm. Usually this river sand is so fine you cannot get flotation on it with a fat bike. It just pushes away from your tires. But with all that frozen moisture in that sand, you can ride on it very easily. It was fun to navigate, actually, and I found a good temporary work-around here.

Then I headed out to the Green Belt proper and found that everything had been cleared as far as downed trees and limbs. That was great to see. There had been a "Wednesday Night Fat Bike Ride" out there, maybe two of them, and I could see the tracks which had made a good base to ride in. Well, that is until I came across the absolutely changed section by the dike near to the creek where we used to have the deep channel I would scramble through.

That had been there for at least 30 years, as far as I can remember back to the 80's. This latest round of flooding, with the aid of the City Of Waterloo's clearing out of every root and tree that used to hang on to the soil here, has forever changed up this section. The main point being that now we have no clear way to get from one side of the drainage to the other. Hopefully the Parks and Rec has a plan for this, or we mtb'ers will figure it out for them!

Anyway, after this was crossed I did a bit of the trail South until I figured I'd better get back to the lake for the sure to be good show the Sun was about to put on. I didn't want to miss that! So I high-tailed it back North again and over on the cut-off trail to that lake.

The scene upon arrival. I could tell where I needed to be.......
This lake, the trail, and the way the Sun sets for a large portion of the season, aligns up very well for great views from the Northeast shoreline. That just happens to be a place where the trail sits high enough above the water, and close enough, that the views, generally speaking, almost never disappoint.

Oh yeah!
After just standing there and soaking it in for a few minutes, I then had the urge to do some more image taking. It was fun as I hurriedly looked for things to shoot in the quickly changing light conditions of Sunset. While I am no camera talent, I think these following images are pretty good......for a hack like me! FYI: Taken with my trusty Olympus TG-Tough 4.


The TG-4 has a cool feature called "Microscope" which is a setting that allows you to get the camera to focus very closely upon an object and get great detail. Those last two shots feature the results of that. The last image is of frozen dog tracks in the mud of the trail. I was down on my belly taking that one!

And the "Post Card" shot. This was the last shot I got before I headed back.
Well, all that fun and enjoyment had to end at some point. I decided that getting back to the house with at least some light in the sky was a better deal than going back in complete darkness, so I cut the shooting short and headed back to the house. It was a great little ride though while it lasted, and I even got to see about five or six deer right after I left the lake.

I guess one of the main things I took away from this ride was that despite it being devoid of snow out there, you can still find beauty in the Brown Season when you look for it and the conditions are right. I was very grateful that Mrs. Guitar Ted chased me out of the house for this ride. She's pretty good at reading me, ya know......

Anyway, it was all too good not to share, so I hope you all enjoyed the views.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

The Touring Series: Three Beggars

A Guitar Ted Productions series
 Thanks for joining me again on another adventure in "The Touring Series". This tour was dubbed the "Race Against Death Tour". This tour occurred in August of 1995. The three participants, Ryan, Troy, and your's truly, left from Cedar Falls, Iowa to try and get to Winter Park, Colorado in two weeks. Here I am reproducing the tale, mostly as it was posted on the blog in 2009. There are some new edits and additions. I also will add new remarks and memories where appropriate at the end of each post. 

 Once again, there were no cell phones, internet, social media platforms, or digital cameras in use by we tourers in 1995. I will post images where I can, but this tour wasn't well documented in images, so there probably will be very few sprinkled throughout. A modern image will be used only where it depicts things I want to clarify, like where we were in that part of the tour via a map image, or the like.
 

The "Touring Series" will appear every Sunday until it ends. Look for past entries by scrolling back to a previous Sunday's post, or type in "Touring Series" in the search box to find more. 

 
After a hot, dusty lunch break, the "Race Against Death Tour" moves on down State Highway 44 towards the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation...
_______________________________________________________________________________

After our brief repose under the shade tree it was right back into the hot sun for us. We toiled along pretty much silently with the exception of the occasional outburst from Ryan. He was really the glue that kept us together alot of the time. Every so often he'd pipe up in a whiny, New York sort of accent with " Oh my achin' ass! Ohhhhh!" and the timing would be such that Troy and I would bust a gut and temporarily forget about our misery. Or at other times, Ryan would pipe up with a spot on rendition of Ren from "Ren and Stimpy" that went something like this..."Oh no! I know what you want! You coveteth my ice cream sandwich!" Yeah, that one would always about bring us to a halt due to the laughter it induced. Yeah......it was one of those, "you had to be there moments", for sure, but I think we can all relate to how the sun and exhaustion can contribute to scenes like this.

So it was that after many long climbs and descents we arrived at the cross roads of two state highways. This was probably one of the standout memories for me due to the oddness of the situation. Here we were at a crossing of two important roads with nothing there! No gas station, no nothing. Weird I thought. There was a guy across the road with a motorcycle parked and he was eating. Troy, Ryan, and I were going to consult the map, have some water, and eat again from our stash of peanut butter and bread. It was all we had left out here to eat.

As we sat on the shoulder, just off the roadway, a car pulled up to the stop sign going the opposite way. A Native American leaned out and looked us over. "Hey man!", he drawled in a voice more appropriate for a Haight-Ashbury resident, "What are y'all doin?" We explained what we were up to as several small Native American children craned there necks to take a look at us. After our little story, the man behind the wheel said, "That's cool! I really respect what you guys are doin', man. That's cool." And with that blessing, he put the car in drive and rumbled away.

We were in need of more than just "being cool", we needed supplies! We were running low on the peanut butter and bread, and water was dangerously low. In fact, we were drinking our last drops at that intersection. Wanblee was the next town up the road. We were hopeful that we could re-supply there and for sure we were counting on getting water there. With that being our sole focus now, we saddled up under the unforgiving heat and slowly pedaled down the road westwards.

The red dot represents Wanbli. We'd come a long ways in less than six day's time.

Wanblee came right after a quick southwards turn in the road. After some tough miles, we could see it. There were road construction signs up, but we were so focused on getting water, we didn't care. About half a mile from Wanblee the road sank into the valley. Great! A downhill that would save some energy! But to my dismay, the pavement was all gone just after that and the gravel laid down was very chunky and hard to ride on. Now we were working harder than ever, and going downhill was a slap in the face!

We saw a grocery store just before we reached the residential section of town. It was a long, low building setting all to itself by the gravel roadway. We pulled in with great expectations. What we found inside was almost nightmarish. No lights were on with the exception of the case lights in the dairy and frozen food sections. This cast an eerie glow over the ceiling and walls. The lone Native American woman in the place wanted to know what we wanted in a half scared, half demanding voice. I suppose she was as startled to see three white bicyclist wander in as we were to see the odd state of the store we were in. Troy said we needed water, was there any here? She said something incredible to our ears, "No". We asked where in town we could find water, and she said in a somewhat condescending tone, "Well, I suppose you could try one of the homes here." We were dumbfounded to the point that we forgot about food for the present time and walked directly out of the place in a near frenzy.

We grabbed our bikes and looked for the nearest residence. About half a block away stood a split level ranch home, dusty, but in good repair. We settled on it as our first try at begging some water. I walked up with Ryan beside me, Troy was right behind. We knocked. The door was silent, unmoving. We knocked again. Slowly, the door opened a crack, then about two inches wide. I could barely describe the figure of an elderly Native American woman glaring with disdainful eyes at us through the opening.

"What do you want!!"
_______________________________________________________________________
Weirdness in spades again as we come across another village with no paved main street. That gravel was super chunky too. It really was a slap in the face after so may hard miles under a hot Sun. Then the oddness that is a reservation town can not be really described by mere words. There is a spiritual heaviness- that's the only way I can describe it- over places like that. We felt it in White River too.

As you have probably caught on to by now, water was a major issue for us on this tour and it may seem odd to you. I thought I might add in a bit of information here to help clear this up as to why this was.

First of all, in 1995, the plastic water bottles that are in every convenience store in various sizes these days were very rare. As in non-existent in South Dakota where we were riding. In fact, convenience stores were rare. It was a different age then.

By this point in the tour we weren't naive to our problem either. In fact, we ended up eventually keeping Gatorade bottles when we could get them and we used these as spare water bottles which we packed into our panniers. However; keep in mind that the last place we had been which had Gatorade bottles was Winner. We didn't have a clue yet back there as to how little water was out there beyond Winner and how badly we would be going through it. Had we been better informed we would have packed the spare empty bottles from there. White River didn't even have Gatorade in bottles, at least not that we could find. Now days I am sure there are convenience stores in many more locations which would have made our water issues less of an issue.

Finally, I have learned that Wanblee is about 11 miles from the North American "pole of inaccessibility" Essentially, the furthest point on the map away from a coastline. Were we really nearly in the "middle of nowhere"? It sure seemed like it.

Next Week: The weary tourers see signs of civilization.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Minus Ten Review- 49

From the inaugural Trans Iowa- Jeff Kerkove. (Photographer unknown)
Ten years ago here I was floating the idea about doing a historical archive for Trans Iowa events. The real story here is that I was already in the midst of putting that together. I wasn't going to release it though unless I got feedback that it was something folks wanted.

This all came at a time when I was doing some rearranging behind the scenes. First, I was in the throes of possibly not doing anything with "Twenty Nine Inches" or the "Crooked Cog Network", which was started by Tim Grahl and which he was, or had already, walked away from.

Things behind the scenes at those Grahl owned sites were in total chaos. No one knew what was going on and Grahl was unresponsive to our requests for information. I ended up getting a few short replies regarding a possibility of my buying the site "Twenty Nine Inches", but after I refused to pay anything, the site was ceded over to me sometime in the beginning of 2009.

Then there was the "Gravel Grinder News" calendar, which I had hosted on Blogger, and I was considering changing that to something else. Originally the site was the Trans Iowa site, as I nixed plans for a new Guitar Ted Productions site which I was going to move over to Wordpress. That site became the Trans Iowa History site in the end. The GGN site had "transiowahistory.blogspot.com" as its' address, (or something along those lines, I cannot find that now), and that was kind of not ideal. I had intended all along to do a proper GGN addressed site, and eventually, in 2013, it became a reality.

But anyway- the Trans Iowa History site got a big thumbs up and it still exists. But you'll notice the address is "guitarted1961" and now you know why. Well, that story and I had no clue what I was doing! I've learned a trick or two in ten years, but back then, it should be pointed out that I had only been writing and doing stuff on the internet for three years. 

 

Friday, December 07, 2018

Friday News And Views

The new Donnelly "EMP" gravel tire
Look Out Kansas! Another Tire Has Been Influenced By You!

First there was the "Official Tire of Dirty Kansas", the Teravail Cannonball. (remember that?) Then there was the Flintridge Pro, another tire from Kenda Tires which was influenced by the Dirty Kanza 200. Now you can add another tire which has taken its cues from the flinty roads around Emporia, Kansas.

Donnelly's Donn Kellogg had told me about a new tire which would be named after Emporia's airport code, (that's how all Donnelly tires are named, by three letter airport codes) and here it is, the "EMP". It is supposed to be Donnelly's "most aggressive gravel road tire". It'll be out right around now in a 700c X 38mm size and next Spring in a 700c X 45mm size. Tubeless and folding beads at $72.00 and $47.00 respectively. No word on a 650B variant or skin walls. (Boo!)

This sounded like a good time, so I signed up.
Signing On:

Over the past weekend I signed up for two events that are happening next year. The first is the brand new Prairie Burn 100 which is happening in Grinnell, Iowa on June 8th, 2019. That's a week after the Dirty Kanza 200, in case you were wondering.

The Prairie Burn is going to be a loop format/lap type event. Non-competitive too. You just go out for a ride on 25-ish mile loops which all bring you back into Grinnell so if you want to stop after, 25, 50 miles, well, you can. Music and food with beverages of different sorts will also be going down at the same time in the city park. I plan on riding a single speed, so we will see how that goes!

The other event I signed up for is Gravel Worlds which will happen on August 17th. Of course, if you have been following this blog at all, you already know what I think about Gravel Worlds. The big deal this year is that Gravel Worlds is in its tenth year, so that's a big deal and I wanted to be a part of that. So far as I know now, I will contest that one on the "Bubblegum Princess". But that's nine months from now. Who knows what might happen......

Four season pogies?
Bike Iowa Pogie Lites:

First off, if you haven't checked out BikeIowa.com and you are a cyclist in Iowa or close to this state, what the heck are you doing? All the pertinent cycling news, events, and more is there for this state. Check it out.

Bike Iowa's own Scott Sumpter helped design,  test, and manufacture these new handle bar accessory items called "Pogie Lites".  They are coverings which are supremely versatile. Tested in the worst of conditions at Trans Iowa, Land Run 100, Winter events, and more, these items are refined and ready to help riders get more riding in under adverse conditions.

Scott and his partner, Jess, make these and sell them direct, or at select bike shops. I was sent a pair to test and review for here and RidingGravel.com. (Read about disclaimer below) I've been very intrigued by this product and have watched as Scott and Jess have tweaked out the design. The Pogie Lites are wind-proof, water resistant, and will fit on drop bars, staright bars, and Jones Bars. Whatta ya know! I have all of those!

So, be on the lookout for my thoughts on this product here and at Riding Gravel. I suspect they will prove to be a valuable asset for cold weather riding, which is what we have on tap now. I'll also say up front that I am not a big fan of traditional pogies as seen on fat bikes. For me, they just get in the way, and they are bulky, clunky things. I know many of you would never consider riding without them. I get it, as I have some traditional pogies and I have ridden with them. I'll definitely be doing a compare and contrast between the two types.

And Now For A Public Announcement: You've often seen my disclaimers- The "gloppy dollops of my opinion", the "I bought this with my own damn money", or the "I received this from XYZ for test and review at no charge. I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout".

Well, I have recently learned about how You Tubers are being paid by companies to receive products in return for positive reviews, mentions, and in some cases, to denigrate competitors products. I thought that was super crazy. I also am probably naive, behind the times, and not very smart. Anyway, I was sent an e-mail by a company just the other evening about a CBD product with a proposal that would include my receiving said product free and being paid in return for a review.

I flatly refuse to ever do such a thing for anybody. 

Just so you know.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Breaking News: Interbike Show Cancelled For 2019

The Interbike trade show is not happening next year for the first time in 37 years.
In a bombshell dropped on Thursday evening, the trade paper, "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" announced that Interbike, a trade show run by Emerald Enterprises, would not be held in 2019.

Citing responses gathered from attendants to the 2018 show, Emerald representatives said that costs and the changes in the marketplace forced their hand and plans for the 2019 show were scuttled. Some hope was held out that a show in some reformatted way could be held in the future.

Meanwhile it was reported that several Interbike employees were laid off and that three major non-profits in the industry were notified that Interbike would not be honoring their commitment to funding for those organizations. One of those is People For Bikes.

Comments: My first reaction was that of surprise that the news came out now, but after reading the article from BRAIN, I could see why the timing happened as it did. But overall, I am not at all surprised by this announcement. It was obvious, at least to me, for years that Interbike was in decline, and more importantly, that it was becoming increasingly irrelevant. Long time readers here already know about how I feel about that.

But the collateral damage is what I think is the real story, and it is sad. People are going to have their lives very negatively affected by this, and especially during this time of year- I cannot think of a worse situation for those folks in terms of careers and livelihood. Those non-profits that counted on Interbike's support will have huge holes to fill, and I doubt seriously that they will be filled. That is also very sad.

But here's the deal: We are only two weeks down the road from a big announcement of a bicycle company's bankruptcy, and now this. The bicycle industry is in severe straights. I've never seen it this bad, and I am betting it gets worse before it gets better. There are rumblings of take-overs of bike shops by brands, closures of stores, and brands teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Folks, it isn't a joke. This is serious stuff.

The entire bicycle industry as we know it now is going through major changes. What comes out the other side is anyone's guess now, but one thing is for sure- it's gonna be painful to watch. For everyone.

Lots Of Talk- Little Action

"Mobility solutions" is a big talking point these days.
The debate about electric motors on two wheeled vehicles that happen to also need human power, (Hybrid Powered Cycles) is now taking a back seat to "mobility solutions".

Wha....?!!

Okay, translation: Electric powered scooters, the aforementioned "HPC's", and electric cars and motorcycles for urban transportation. NOTE- No one is talking about buses or trains anymore. It's all about "personal" mobility, because these urban planners have given up on mass transportation because, let's face it folks- we are a bunch of spoiled brats. 

Yes. All. Of. Us.

I was talking with Mrs. Guitar Ted and some other friends about this subject over the last several days. I arrived at my conclusions by way of looking at history, of course. If you know anything about me, you know I am always interested in history. Where we are today is a product of our choices and by extension, that makes up our history. The consequences of which we will be dealing with for the next several generations.

It wasn't all that long ago. Maybe 150 years ago or so. Most folks didn't have the luxury of getting up and going any time they wanted to to, anywhere they wanted to go. You could walk. For sure. That took time to get anywhere. You maybe had a horse, if you were well enough off. Those required feed and care and a place to service their needs. Not everyone had those resources. Then there were some trains. Very limited in scope. And then there were wagons. Risky. Expensive. Required a horse. Usually a trip to anywhere was a very, very big deal in those days.

Since then we have come to a place where anyone can go anywhere at any time. If, let's say, car and truck traffic disappeared tomorrow, well, taking the economic impact out of that equation, you would have a whine go up, a hue and cry that would instigate revolution. Seriously. People would contemplate murder. If you saw what happened at gas stations during 9-11, you know what I am talking about. I saw it and heard it. It wasn't pretty. It was frightening.

I bring this up because all this utopian talk of electric this, mobility that is just talk. It isn't really going to happen anytime soon, because this generation that is already in cars isn't giving that "right" up without a fight. There will be a couple of generations that follow that will, most likely, be similar. We're talking decades of change.

We've already seen failed experiments in dockless bikes, electric scooters, and now the big corporations are co-opting "mobility" so as to have a hand in it. Harley-Davidson and GM being notable here. They will be hoping to direct the narrative on "mobility" for the future. You don't think they will do it just like the bike industry has in mind do you?

I don't think so......

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Single Track Leftovers

The Breezer RADAR Expert with 29"er tires
Last week I got a couple of decent.......well, kind of decent, single track rides in locally. It was as good as it was going to get for the remainder of 2018. I was willing to put up with less than ideal conditions since, well, it was either take that or nothing for the entirety of Fall. Pretty much anyway.

I had slapped on some Michelin Wildgripper 29"er tires on the RADAR Expert and that needed to get tested, so that was another reason to get out there. Well, that and the forecast last week was for another possibility of snow. We dodged it this time, but that wasn't always going to be the case. I was staring December straight in the face. It was only going to be a matter of time before a fat bike was going to be the only bike that would make sense out there.

So I made a foray into a bit of single track I knew wasn't blocked by downed limbs and wasn't flooded. It went well, actually, except for one bit I probably should have known better about, but went through anyway. That gooped up the tires real good and then, of course, that gathered to itself leaves and sand and more debris. I was tossing up chunks of stuff like an old fashioned manure spreader the rest of the way home.

It was fun, but it wasn't. There were a lot of places where the flood debris had gathered and was just cleared off enough to make it rideable. There were a lot of greasy spots, so speeds had to be kept in check. Basically, it wasn't anything ideal. But it was single track. I got a ride in during Fall, well........kind of. I know the calendar says it is still Fall, but the weather says "Winter" and that's really what is happening now.

Hmm......looks like it's gonna be cold and dry-ish for a while yet into December. Maybe I can sneak another ride or two in. Time will tell.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Bikes Of 2018: Surly Big Dummy

An unusual January devoid of snow meant this bike got some riding time.
Surly Big Dummy:

I don't talk a lot about this bike on the blog, but it gets pulled out fairly often for service around here. More like a "tool" than a bike I'd ride for just the joys of cycling, but that said, it's a fun bike.

The Big Dummy gets used mostly as a recycling rig. I've hauled hundreds of pounds of cardboard, plastic, and glass to get recycled with this rig. It's fun, and a great excuse to get out and ride on days when I have "other duties" to attend to. Ya know......like mowing, washing clothes, cleaning the house. Non-cycling related responsibilities I tend to neglect due to riding my other bikes.

So, when this one gets pulled out it is a great day for knocking out the recycling and other duties I need to accomplish around the G-Ted Headquarters. There could be a case made that it is too fancy for a garbage skow! But it gets looks wherever I o and it rides really well. And I have used it to aul home stuff sent to me for review on RidingGravel.com.

As for changes on this rig over the past year, there haven't been any, but I did use the sideloaders once this year. That was the first time I had done that on this rig. The "sideloaders" are the extensions on the sides of the cargo area which enable you to load bigger objects down lower alongside the bike. I used them for some big pieces of cardboard I wanted to recycle.

Look for more "Bikes Of 2018" coming soon......

Monday, December 03, 2018

Rear View '18- Iowa Gravel Expo/Bike Party

From the inaugural Iowa Expo/Bike Party. Image by Izabel Stevenson
Welcome to the Guitar Ted Productions Rear View for 2018. This time I'm doing things a bit differently with this series. I am pulling images that were illustrative of important moments in 2018 and writing a bit of a story about those. Hope that you enjoy the looking back.

Iowa Gravel Expo/Bike Party:

Back in January I had some snow to ride on but the big event for the month was the inaugural Iowa Gravel expo/Bike Party, an event partly cooked up by N.Y. Roll and sponsored by Riding Gravel and the shop where I work.

I was thinking that it would be something geared toward the beginner gravel cyclist and that's how we promoted it. I figured we would be really lucky to get 35 people to attend in the upper room of Doughy Joey's Peetza Joynt in Cedar Falls, Iowa. N.Y. Roll had a feeling all along that it would pull more folks than that. We kind of had a friendly banter about this all the way up to and during the event itself. I kept saying we wouldn't have very many people, and he kept saying we would.

Just before we were to begin, N.Y. Roll and I made a friendly wager that was an "over-under" bet. I took less than 50 people, he took the over. As people streamed in, he leaned over and said, "That's 50 right there!", and I just smiled. In the end, I think we had something over 80 odd folks attend, and the event was deemed a big success. I was blown away most by how far people had come to attend. One gentleman, Gene, was driving through on his way from Michigan back to Northwest Iowa and stopped to attend. We had folks from Cedar Rapids and Des Moines attending, and of course, a bunch of locals.

Talking to gravel grinders about gravel grindin'. Image by Izabel Stevenson


Well, we're doing it again this coming year, only it will be February 9th, same place, but in two sessions to accommodate more folks. Tickets (free) will be available so we can even up attendance at both sessions. This year the focus will be on Iowa Gravel based events.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

What To Expect In December

December is here and so if you are a relatively new reader, I wanted to go over a couple of things I do regularly every year on the blog during the month of December.

Long time readers already know the drill, and I apologize, but I never know who is new or not, so please bear with me today.....

The first thing is a mini-series of posts about which bikes I used during the year. I have approximately 20 odd bicycles and the ones most used, how they were used, and where, make up the bulk of the series. I also detail any changes to these rigs made during the year and you long time readers probably can attest to the fact that I tweak my bikes a lot, generally speaking. This might result in some "mini-reviews" of products within these posts, so stay tuned...

The next thing I normally do here is called "Rear View", which is a retrospective of the year's biggest events, moments, and news on the blog here. This past year was a doozy for sure, so there will be a lot of reminiscing going on during the month. I think I will be using a different format though. I used to do a post and cover three months at a crack, but this time I am going to use images from the year then write a story behind that image. I think it will prove to be more interesting that way.  I find it amazing to go over the year like this and see just how crazy my life is. That's one thing about this blog- it helps me remember a lot of things! 

Then the last post of the year is generally a look forward into the New Year with my predictions, plans, and dreams for the blog, cycling, and my life in general. Looking back at these over the years has been somewhat humourous at times since I sometimes really blow at predicting the future!

So, stay tuned for all the series and I hope you enjoy reading!

The Touring Series: Hopes Dashed

A Guitar Ted Productions series
 Thanks for joining me again on another adventure in "The Touring Series". This tour was dubbed the "Race Against Death Tour". This tour occurred in August of 1995. The three participants, Ryan, Troy, and your's truly, left from Cedar Falls, Iowa to try and get to Winter Park, Colorado in two weeks. Here I am reproducing the tale as it was posted on the blog in 2009. I also will add new remarks and memories where appropriate at the end of each post. 

 Once again to remind you, there were no cell phones, internet, social media platforms, or digital cameras in use by we tourers in 1995. I will post images where I can, but this tour wasn't well documented in images, so there probably will be very few sprinkled throughout. A modern image will be used only where it depicts things I want to clarify, like where we were in that part of the tour via a map image, or the like.
 

The "Touring Series" will appear every Sunday until it ends. Look for past entries by scrolling back to a previous Sunday's post, or type in "Touring Series" in the search box to find more. 


After an unsettling night's sleep in White River, South Dakota, the "Race Against Death Tour" awakes to start day six......
_______________________________________________________________________________

Well, nothing happened overnight as we slept in White River, and that was the best news we had. Still, we weren't completely at ease, no- Actually far from it. It was nothing you could point at, nothing tangible, but the feeling we all were getting was that this wasn't a good place for us to be at that moment in time. We were not saying much this foggy morning. We all just wanted to get the heck outta there.

But as I said, there was fog. A really thick fog that we didn't feel real comfortable riding in. So we were being pulled one way and another. We really wanted to get out of White River, but we really didn't want to ride into a fog on a lonely state highway and get hit by some crazy person. In the end, we wasted a bunch of time and ended up riding into the fog anyway, the want to get out overcoming the fear of being hit.

In the end, it all didn't matter anyway, for as soon as we crossed the bridge over the White River on the western edge of town we climbed up the steep valley and out of the fog . It was fitting in a way. We were now shrouded from the unseen fears and unpleasantness we experienced with nothing but rolling, empty countryside before us.

The lateness of our start wasn't a concern now. We were full of joy as we rode along. We were making up lyrics to popular songs and Ryan was totally cracking us up with his Ren and Stimpy routines with various renditions of our "V.I.P."s thrown in. My favorite was his monologue impersonation of Tour de France announcer, Phil Ligget that included "Team Gypsy" on the "Tour de Pain". Too funny! As we were rolling along, we all were aware that it was still foggy and we were keeping one ear tuned to the road behind us, listening for any vehicles that might be passing our way.

When the fog wore off, the clouds could be seen hurrying along the way. There was a head wind for now, but at least this cloud cover kept the temperatures from going through the roof right away that morning. Then I heard it. A car was coming. No sooner than I had yelled "Car back!", it was upon us. A bronze colored Cadillac with a large, male Native American wearing a ten gallon hat and waving his arm about him as if he were shooing away flies. He was gone in a flash. It was the only car that would pass us all day long.

The long hills, head wind, and building heat were starting to take their early morning toll. We all stopped for a rest and we were alarmed at how were were already depleting the water supplies. We looked at the map which showed a healthy sized "dot" on the road ahead marked with the name "Cedar Butte". Visions of convenience stores and grub filled our minds. We were further encouraged when we came across a big green informational sign that gave the mileage to Cedar Butte. Surely they wouldn't do that for any ol' place on the map. Not out here, or so we thought.

So we soldiered on, pedaling our heavily laden touring bikes with high hopes that Cedar Butte would be an oasis in this grassy desert. We were very badly let down in the end. As we approached the site, all we saw was a crude building near the road with two broken down gas pumps outside. A semi-circle of broken down cars filled a lonely, dusty parking lot devoid of pavement. A low ranch style house was behind this. At various intervals, an individual would appear at the side door, open it, and dump out a five gallon bucket of dirt. Judging by the size of the pile, the fellow had been quite busy, no doubt digging a tunnel to escape this gloomy prison called Cedar Butte.

Troy standing in the midst of what was supposed to be a "town" called Cedar Butte
 Troy was livid, and Ryan was dumbfounded. Me? I just decided it was too funny. I mean, what could we do? Somehow the others came around and we all decided to have a bit of fun with the situation. We managed to refill our bottles from a pump head, but no extra water was available to carry out of Cedar Butte. Obviously, there wasn't any food either. So with that we moved on from there, now looking for a good place to eat lunch.

As we crested a hill we saw a small stream down in the valley below us. It was very sunny and hot now. We were all quietly suffering along in the never ending grassy hills. I saw a tree just off the road and I said, "...we're eating lunch under the shade of that tree." Troy and Ryan looked funny at me, but I was dead serious. I wanted shade. When we got to it we dismounted and walked across a fence into shoulder high brown grass. Dead from the heat and lack of rain, no doubt. It must have been over a 100 degrees that day.

As we sat and ate our PB&J without words, a single fly could be heard buzzing about us loudly. Like a cheesy spaghetti western, only this fly and the occasional breeze that disturbed the dry grass could be heard. Suddenly, Troy deftly shot out his hand and snagged the creature, a large horse fly. Remembering what I had said at the outset of the tour about how you could survive in the wilderness on all sorts of insects and plant life, he thrust the captured fly in front of me and said, "Here ya go Stevenson. See if ya can survive on this. I dare ya!" So without hesitation, I popped it in my mouth and chewed heartily while staring into Troy's wide eyed face. He retorted, "You sick bastard!", got up and walked away. Ryan followed suit, while I laughed quietly. I suppose this means that is the end of lunch, eh?


I took a turn hamming it up by posing with this automatic transmission in Cedar Butte, South Dakota.
___________________________________________________________________________

Leaving White River was a tough climb, as I recall, but it felt soooo good to get out of there! As we crossed the bridge over the White River, I recalled the old Korean War vet's stories about playing with other Native American children his age as they tried to escape the incessant Summer heat of the Great Plains by swimming in the mineral stained waters of the river. That was soon replaced by our silly first miles out of town. Again, another one of those joy-filled cycling moments you never forget.

It would be a fair thing to ask why this story isn't called "The Tour de Pain", taking the cue from Ryan's monologue, (which he recreated in various forms every day, sometimes multiple times a day, after this), but the original name stands and personally, it means more to me today. The "Tour de Pain" thing, while funny at the time, has no real meaning to me now. The "Race Against Death Tour"? That still has meaning to me today! 

It's strange how certain things can be burned into your memory so well that you can vividly see the images years later. The Native American in the Cadillac is one such image. I find that strange since it was a split second visage and nothing more. Seeing that shade tree off to the side of the road was another image I can see clearly to this day. Weird.

The fly eating story has been retold over the years. That was a great moment on the tour. However; the ensuing afternoon hours were once again drama, fear filled moments that fairly erased any good memories from earlier in the day at that time.   

Next week: Out of water, the "Race Against Death Tour" has found itself begging for water from unfriendly folks.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Minus Ten Review - 48

All my images from this week ten years ago- Gone! So you get me staring at you!
Ten years ago this week on the blog I had a lot of images posted. All gone now. If you've been keeping up here with the "Minus Ten Review" posts, you know why.

I won't beat that dead horse again this week.

Ten years ago, Thanksgiving was late. So there was a Turkey Burn ride at the Camp. The third one saw a great turn out and a lot of fun was had. Looking back, it seems I had a single speed, but I don't know which one since the pics are gone now. Oh well.......

Also ten years ago I was telling you all about how much of a hassle it was that there was a waiting list for Trans Iowa. People were wanting to know when there place in line was coming up, and I suppose they were trying to make decisions on whether or not they needed to get into gear to start training for 300 plus miles of gravel. The thing was, I couldn't care less about maintaining a waiting list, and all the bother was just to accommodate folks that, in the end, typically represented the biggest part of no-shows anyway. After several years of attempting to make the waiting list work, I just ended it. Wow...... That made life a lot easier on my end! Plus, no one was in limbo for weeks. You either got into Trans Iowa, or you did not. There was no "try", to borrow a turn of phrase from a famous movie character.

Finally, I had a very interesting set of tires in for review. GEAX, (now just simply Vittoria), sent over three versions of the Saguaro. A full UST version, a tubeless tire requiring no sealant whatsoever, a "TNT" version- tubeless but requiring sealant, and a standard, folding bead version which required a tube.

Between them, I could tell how much weight a tire would gain from the differering constructions involved in the casings for each. The folding version, of course, was lightest. As I recall about 600+ grams or so for the 2.1" tire. The TNT was in the mid-700's. The full UST version was something close to 900 grams. Same width, same tread pattern. Only the tubeless variants had more weight due to different techniques necessary to help them seal up on an appropriate rim.

Obviously, a 300+ gram weight penalty for full UST meant that this choice quickly went the way of the dodo bird. You cannot get full UST anything in 29"er these days. It just isn't a viable option for a human powered machine. But.......with the advent of e-mtb rigs, might we seee a resurgence of full UST tires? I would not at all be surprised, because "hybrid powered bicycles", (which is what I am calling e-bikes now, because that's what they are), have power to spare to waste on heavier weight components, and in reality- heavier weight components are necessitated by the non-human power factor anyway. 

Anyway, 2008 was quickly coming to a close. In December I ran a series of retrospective posts, which you long time readers have seen as "rearview" posts. I may go into a bit of a different mode for the last four "Minus Ten Reviews" this year. Stay tuned.......