Thursday, March 15, 2018

A Couple Questions Answered

From time to time I get asked questions that deserve answers in a different way than I normally answer them. Usually I just respond directly in the comment section here, or if I get the question via e-mail, by that mode. However; every so often a question, or in this case- two questions, get asked that I feel are questions many of you may have. A direct answer would obviously immediately satisfy the asker, but what about everyone else that I feel may be sitting there wondering similar thoughts, but never take the time to actually ask? Well, this post is for those folks. (Hopefully I am right and you folks are actually wondering about these things!)

A fancy-pants tool roll. You don't really need anything this esoteric.
Tools For Gravel Travel:

In my post Monday I mentioned that I was happy that I had the proper tools to keep me going that day through the mucky-muck. Someone in the comments asked what sort of tools are those? So, I am going to put out what I feel is a good set of things for a solo gravel rider to have on board in case of emergency.

Of course, you can probably guess a few items straight away- tube, tire lever, spare chain links, etc. However; I often augment my kit with a few things that go beyond the basics, but for the list, I will include everything. Sometimes I actually will add and subtract items depending on where and how far I am riding. For instance, I'll carry a much more extensive kit for a foray into the Flint Hills of Kansas alone than I would for a local 20 mile ride. That said, I'll indicate the "extras" I consider here (With an asterisk) and the reason why I will should now be understood. And finally- this is my version of things. You may not agree, or you may actually carry completely different stuff than I would.

The List Of Tools For Gravel Travel:
  • A Bag: Gotta have somewhere to put the kit! This could be a seat bag, a frame bag, a top tube mounted "gas tank" style bag, or a handle bar bag or front rack bag. I use all of the aforementioned types on different bikes. 
  • Spare tube: The appropriate sized spare tube (700c or 650B or...?), with the correct valve stem length for the wheels. NEVER carry a tube without protection from a box or individual wrap of some sort. I use an old sock or handkerchief/bandana for this. If you let a tube rub on the bag on your bike or against other items in the bag unprotected you could damage the tube to the point it will have failed before you need it. That won't do anyone any good!
  • Tire Lever: I like Pedros latest, but there are a lot of good ones now. You only really should need one, but they usually nest together, so two isn't a bad choice here.  Bonus Use: Mud scraper.
  • Patch Kit*: Remo Patch kit only for me. 
  • Multi-Tool: There are a lot of good ones. Minimalist tools are......usually hard to use. Sometimes I will substitute in "real tools" like individual Hex keys, Torx keys, chain breakers, or the like. The weight is no big deal, unless you are doing Tour Divide or suffer from  "weight-weenie-ism" It's a thing!
  • Inflation Device: Sorry folks! I am not a fan of CO2 carts. (Although I've been known to have them and have used them) I'd rather use a good mini-pump with an extendable hose, thread on attachment or good quality lever lock, a BIG barrel to push a LOT of  air, (I don't normally ride anything that needs more than 50psi) and one that is built from metal, not plastic.  Best pump: Frame pump! Bonus Use: (Frame pump only) Warding off dogs.
  • Chain: Quick links AND bits of chain links is what I generally carry. I've seen chains get twisted where you would have to remove a couple links. Best not to run a too-short chain due to the possibility of shearing off your rear derailleur if you inadvertantly shift to the "big-big" combo. You may say, "Yeah, but I'd never use that combination.". I reply- famous last words! 
  • Mud Scraper: I have metal mud scrapers fashioned from barbecue skewers, one made from a plastic spatula, and the aforementioned plastic tire lever which can work in a pinch or tight spot. 
  • Derailleur Cable*: Only taken on long solo rides.
  • Pliers*: Sometimes as part of a multi-tool, sometimes separate mini-pliers. Used for cable tensioning/cable replacement, tubeless valve nut removal, and for holding a nut in a pinch. (Sorry about the pun!)
  • First Aid Kit*: Should be obvious. This can include lip balm and suntan lotion. 
  • Chain Lube: I didn't indicate this as an "extra" as I have it along for most rides and have used it often enough that it stays on the short list here. 
  • Tubeless Sealant*: An extra I carry only in remote areas on really long rides. 
I could go on, probably, but this post is getting out of control already, so...... On to the next question!

What could this mean?
Trans Iowa v14 Logo/Header Art:

I also got a question about what the background/meaning could be in regard to the Trans Iowa art for v14. Well........there is a story here. 

Trans Iowa riders have for years accused me of routing the course in such a way that it will pass by every available rural cemetery I can find.  Of course, old timers will also remember V3's ending at a cemetery and V5's starting at one. I also had V12 run through a cemetery just before the finish line.

While the three examples concerning starts and finishes for Trans Iowa were intentional, I can assure you that any rural cemetery Trans Iowa goes by is completely random and unintentional. There really are just that many of them out there. In fact, my longtime recon companion, Jeremy Fry, used to keep a tally of the number of cemeteries along each route we would explore. 

Can you see any resemblance?
 Then I also have been keeping a tally of cemeteries I ride past on gravel rides. I will take an image of my bike under the gate, if any, and generally speaking, these gates have names of the cemetery on them so I can recall where it was I found them.

These gates have a certain style and flair all their own. Generally made up of tubing and twisted flat stock metal, the ironwork is sometimes pretty incredible. This example seen here above of the St. Francis Cemetery gate East of Waterloo is a great example of what I mean.

So, I figured why not celebrate that style and the legend that I route Trans Iowa by cemeteries on purpose with a stylized "gate" based on the iconography not only of cemeteries in the rural Mid-West, but of my last several Trans Iowa artworks. (Note the "wings"?) There is also a different story with the "cross" in the center. That is something entirely different in its origin.

That pays a kind of homage to Jeff Kerkove's first Trans Iowa logo he designed in 2004. Jeff had a weird, "L" kind of "crooked cross" thing going on there in each corner. If you look at the original logo here, you can see how I pulled the image in the center of this year's logo from the upper left corner of Jeff's design.So that had a different influence than the rest of this year's artwork, but I felt it all worked together well.

Hopefully that satisfies y'all out there. I could add more but that should suffice for the time being. That said, you are always welcome to ask questions in the comments or to e-mail me questions anytime.



Oolong4Go said...

Thanks for the tip about putting your spare tube inside a sock, I never thought about it rubbing in the seat bag.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the explanation and insights about this T.I. banner along with years past. Cool to know that you utilize and respect previous designs from others and work them into current designs.