Tuesday, July 31, 2018

GTDRI '18: Report Part 2

Convenience store takeover in Traer, Iowa. We've used this store a lot in Trans Iowas.
This is the second, and final, part of my Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational report for 2018.

The riders were all outside now at the Traer convenience store, a spot we've been to before on this ride. It has also featured in at least four Trans Iowa events. So, it is a place some of us on the ride were familiar with. However; I figured that we'd been there long enough, even though it was only approaching eleven o'clock in the morning!

With a bit of a foreshadowing of the coming 27 miles to the gathered riders I eventually led us out of town up to Ridge Road and then South on "O" Avenue. In total, there would be four miles of Level B Roads on "O" Avenue, three of those miles being consecutive. These dirt roads were where we had come upon a Road Closed sign last year as the County was grading that section of dirt again. However; once we reached this section this year, it was clear that nothing had been done to those roads since that time. It was, once more, gloriously primitive.

More miles of Tama County dirt
So this stretch of dirt eventually comes out on a mile of very rolling gravel before turning West. We had gotten pretty strung out on the Level B section, so the riders stopped at the end of the dirt. As I was rolling up, Charlie, on a Cutthroat, called out that his Maxxis Ikon was going flat. It was a tubeless tire, and the sealant was mostly spewed out before it would seal up. Fortunately, Craig had some extra sealant, so the guys got to work on that.

Steve's blown out tube.
Just then, a loud "bang!" was heard. Steve was standing over his bike when his tire blew off the rim. It was a tubed tire, and with his spare tube he got to work fixing it. I didn't lend a hand, declaring to the group that I was off duty. That brought a round of chuckles.

With the repairs going on we had time to relax again. It was probably for the best, as we still were in a high pace mode after Traer. I knew that this wasn't going to be sustainable. I was a bit flummoxed too since I was doing a steady 12-13mph pace and getting dropped. You'd think it was a race or something......

But the big hills that were coming would take care of that, eventually. That and the miles. Our pace eventually did slow down some, but this was a group that was strong and eventually I was the slowpoke. Anyway, at this point I was still feeling pretty decent. Concerned, but decent. There were some monsters to overcome soon and then another wrench was thrown into the mix.

The bike I was using was a test bike for RidingGravel.com. It was equipped with a SRAM Apex 1 1X set up. I found out after we got rolling again, on a climb of N Avenue, that the three lowest gears were a no-go on the bike. I tried adjusting the cable, which seemed to clear it up, but between that and dismounting so a car could pass, well, that put me way off the back. Then having to huff it without the lowest gear, which I am sure wasn't low enough, was taxing. The guys were waiting at the top of another hill to let us stragglers catch on. That was nice.

One of my favorite Level B roads in Iowa, "II" Avenue in Tama County.
Then we had to skirt Highway 63 for a quarter mile, then cross over to the West. I was concerned a bit with such a large group that we would be safe. The sight line for cars coming from the South was okay, but still. I waited as a watchman to warn of any traffic coming from behind. Most of the group got across, but I had to stop the last few riders to allow for more cars which were almost upon us. Then we had to wait several minutes for another clear shot. Once that happened I made everyone go ahead of me and then I crossed last.

Obviously, this put me waaaaay off the back! Then the climb of "II" Avenue took forever, once again owing to the balky drivetrain I had to use. Craig and a buddy or two of his were waiting up near the climb for me. Craig rode it up with me and we traversed "II" together and found the group waiting at the end of that section of road.

Then it was onward to I Avenue. Probably the most "un-road" road we've ever used in a GTDRI. It deserves its own post, really, but here are some images:

Beginning of I Avenue
Middle of I Avenue- Image by Kyle Platts
End of I Avenue
If there weren't signs there, you'd never know this was a public road! But even though that seemed to be the highlight of the course, it maybe had its rival for the best thing of the day waiting a few miles up the road for us in Garwin. What happened next was totally unplanned! 

Residents of Garwin and GTDRI riders enjoying a little "potato water".
 When we pulled into Garwin I was still at the back and I figured on seeing a big crowd of cyclists at the Pronto convenience store, but there was no one there! One of my fellow companions shouted, "They are up there!", and pointed towards the run down, half deserted downtown of Garwin. Now, what in the world was going on! As I approached I could see what appeared to be lemonade and a lemonade stand with folks from my ride and a lot of other folks who appeared to be residents of the village.

There was a lot of chatter going on and someone asked if I'd like a little "potato water". Uh......sure, why not! I took one sip and the lights came on. It was lemonade laced with vodka. A kindly woman's voice with a distinct UK accent then asked if I would get onto the boulevard portion and out of the street. I then noted that the locals got a little tense when a car went by, as if, well......they were up to something. Well, they had a spoof of a bicycle race, ironically, which seemed to have been sponsored by the Garwin Bull Tap, and the lady with the UK accent? She was the bar owner and from Southern Wales, actually.

Apparently a couple of the GTDRI riders went into the bar and relieved them of a couple of PBR's, then they rejoined us and after a few refreshing "potato waters", we actually did go to the Pronto and resupplied and then a bunch of us had some tall boys right out in the parking lot.

Don't pass this chance up!
One might get the feeling that the rules of law are a little lax in being enforced in these parts. You'd be quite right, but then again- don't cross the locals. It's all fun and games until they feel slighted and it's best to play along and enjoy the scene, as much as one can. There are a lot of places like this in the rural areas of this country. Sometimes it is nice to visit them......

Anyway, they seemed to like us, so we were "in" and we had a great time there. Then the time was wasting away, and I figured we'd better get a move on, so I rustled up the rabble, such as they were, and the Guitar Ted Death Ride rode out of town in a cloud of dust Northward.

I actually felt pretty dang good for about.....five miles. Then I went to being really tired. Well, I wasn't bummed about that, because this had been- by far- the furthest I had ridden in one shot in a long, long time. Not how I planned the year to go, but there it is. So, I soldiered on and just took it easier. Obviously, everyone was well up the road on me and at the end of G Avenue's Level B, they were waiting on me. Then Jeremy Fry came back to escort me and we rode out the remaining miles. The Level B's of 190th being the last of the ride, then it was up the bastard hills on K Avenue to Ridge Road.

I've climbed K Avenue to Ridge Road a lot in the last, oh...12 years or so. But it sure doesn't help when your bicycle loses its three lowest gears and then you have to huff it, single speed style, in a too-high a gear. That about knocked me out right there and resulted in the opening image from yesterday's post!

Whew! I made it! Image by Jeremy Fry
So, I wandered in with a few others at the tail end of the ride, exhausted, and glad to be done. Before we finished I heard many thank you's and compliments on the route. The Level B heavy course was a lot of fun, and since conditions couldn't have been much better, it was an obvious home run of a day.

I changed out to a fresh t-shirt and hit Ambient Ales to a loud round of applause from those present. N.Y. Roll bought me my first beer, and I had a nice sit down with a few of the riders and Tony and MG were there as well. Ambient Ales is the new brew pub in Reinbeck, but they haven't quite got their feet under them yet, so they sell other Iowa craft beers and some other brands at present. We availed ourselves of the excellent Topling Goliath offerings there. I ended my time with a selection from Evil Twin Brewing, the Imperial style Biscotti something or another, and then made my way back home.

That's the final chapter in the report on the 13th Annual Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. Tomorrow I will wrap up things with my final thoughts on the weekend, a quick look at gear, and some thoughts for the future of this ride.

GTDRI '18: Report Part 2

Convenience store takeover in Traer, Iowa. We've used this store a lot in Trans Iowas.
This is the second, and final, part of my Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational report for 2018.

The riders were all outside now at the Traer convenience store, a spot we've been to before on this ride. It has also featured in at least four Trans Iowa events. So, it is a place some of us on the ride were familiar with. However; I figured that we'd been there long enough, even though it was only approaching eleven o'clock in the morning!

With a bit of a foreshadowing of the coming 27 miles to the gathered riders I eventually led us out of town up to Ridge Road and then South on "O" Avenue. In total, there would be four miles of Level B Roads on "O" Avenue, three of those miles being consecutive. These dirt roads were where we had come upon a Road Closed sign last year as the County was grading that section of dirt again. However; once we reached this section this year, it was clear that nothing had been done to those roads since that time. It was, once more, gloriously primitive.

More miles of Tama County dirt
So this stretch of dirt eventually comes out on a mile of very rolling gravel before turning West. We had gotten pretty strung out on the Level B section, so the riders stopped at the end of the dirt. As I was rolling up, Charlie, on a Cutthroat, called out that his Maxxis Ikon was going flat. It was a tubeless tire, and the sealant was mostly spewed out before it would seal up. Fortunately, Craig had some extra sealant, so the guys got to work on that.

Steve's blown out tube.
Just then, a loud "bang!" was heard. Steve was standing over his bike when his tire blew off the rim. It was a tubed tire, and with his spare tube he got to work fixing it. I didn't lend a hand, declaring to the group that I was off duty. That brought a round of chuckles.

With the repairs going on we had time to relax again. It was probably for the best, as we still were in a high pace mode after Traer. I knew that this wasn't going to be sustainable. I was a bit flummoxed too since I was doing a steady 12-13mph pace and getting dropped. You'd think it was a race or something......

But the big hills that were coming would take care of that, eventually. That and the miles. Our pace eventually did slow down some, but this was a group that was strong and eventually I was the slowpoke. Anyway, at this point I was still feeling pretty decent. Concerned, but decent. There were some monsters to overcome soon and then another wrench was thrown into the mix.

The bike I was using was a test bike for RidingGravel.com. It was equipped with a SRAM Apex 1 1X set up. I found out after we got rolling again, on a climb of N Avenue, that the three lowest gears were a no-go on the bike. I tried adjusting the cable, which seemed to clear it up, but between that and dismounting so a car could pass, well, that put me way off the back. Then having to huff it without the lowest gear, which I am sure wasn't low enough, was taxing. The guys were waiting at the top of another hill to let us stragglers catch on. That was nice.

One of my favorite Level B roads in Iowa, "II" Avenue in Tama County.
Then we had to skirt Highway 63 for a quarter mile, then cross over to the West. I was concerned a bit with such a large group that we would be safe. The sight line for cars coming from the South was okay, but still. I waited as a watchman to warn of any traffic coming from behind. Most of the group got across, but I had to stop the last few riders to allow for more cars which were almost upon us. Then we had to wait several minutes for another clear shot. Once that happened I made everyone go ahead of me and then I crossed last.

Obviously, this put me waaaaay off the back! Then the climb of "II" Avenue took forever, once again owing to the balky drivetrain I had to use. Craig and a buddy or two of his were waiting up near the climb for me. Craig rode it up with me and we traversed "II" together and found the group waiting at the end of that section of road.

Then it was onward to I Avenue. Probably the most "un-road" road we've ever used in a GTDRI. It deserves its own post, really, but here are some images:

Beginning of I Avenue
Middle of I Avenue- Image by Kyle Platts
End of I Avenue
If there weren't signs there, you'd never know this was a public road! But even though that seemed to be the highlight of the course, it maybe had its rival for the best thing of the day waiting a few miles up the road for us in Garwin. What happened next was totally unplanned! 

Residents of Garwin and GTDRI riders enjoying a little "potato water".
 When we pulled into Garwin I was still at the back and I figured on seeing a big crowd of cyclists at the Pronto convenience store, but there was no one there! One of my fellow companions shouted, "They are up there!", and pointed towards the run down, half deserted downtown of Garwin. Now, what in the world was going on! As I approached I could see what appeared to be lemonade and a lemonade stand with folks from my ride and a lot of other folks who appeared to be residents of the village.

There was a lot of chatter going on and someone asked if I'd like a little "potato water". Uh......sure, why not! I took one sip and the lights came on. It was lemonade laced with vodka. A kindly woman's voice with a distinct UK accent then asked if I would get onto the boulevard portion and out of the street. I then noted that the locals got a little tense when a car went by, as if, well......they were up to something. Well, they had a spoof of a bicycle race, ironically, which seemed to have been sponsored by the Garwin Bull Tap, and the lady with the UK accent? She was the bar owner and from Southern Wales, actually.

Apparently a couple of the GTDRI riders went into the bar and relieved them of a couple of PBR's, then they rejoined us and after a few refreshing "potato waters", we actually did go to the Pronto and resupplied and then a bunch of us had some tall boys right out in the parking lot.

Don't pass this chance up!
One might get the feeling that the rules of law are a little lax in being enforced in these parts. You'd be quite right, but then again- don't cross the locals. It's all fun and games until they feel slighted and it's best to play along and enjoy the scene, as much as one can. There are a lot of places like this in the rural areas of this country. Sometimes it is nice to visit them......

Anyway, they seemed to like us, so we were "in" and we had a great time there. Then the time was wasting away, and I figured we'd better get a move on, so I rustled up the rabble, such as they were, and the Guitar Ted Death Ride rode out of town in a cloud of dust Northward.

I actually felt pretty dang good for about.....five miles. Then I went to being really tired. Well, I wasn't bummed about that, because this had been- by far- the furthest I had ridden in one shot in a long, long time. Not how I planned the year to go, but there it is. So, I soldiered on and just took it easier. Obviously, everyone was well up the road on me and at the end of G Avenue's Level B, they were waiting on me. Then Jeremy Fry came back to escort me and we rode out the remaining miles. The Level B's of 190th being the last of the ride, then it was up the bastard hills on K Avenue to Ridge Road.

I've climbed K Avenue to Ridge Road a lot in the last, oh...12 years or so. But it sure doesn't help when your bicycle loses its three lowest gears and then you have to huff it, single speed style, in a too-high a gear. That about knocked me out right there and resulted in the opening image from yesterday's post!

Whew! I made it! Image by Jeremy Fry
So, I wandered in with a few others at the tail end of the ride, exhausted, and glad to be done. Before we finished I heard many thank you's and compliments on the route. The Level B heavy course was a lot of fun, and since conditions couldn't have been much better, it was an obvious home run of a day.

I changed out to a fresh t-shirt and hit Ambient Ales to a loud round of applause from those present. N.Y. Roll bought me my first beer, and I had a nice sit down with a few of the riders and Tony and MG were there as well. Ambient Ales is the new brew pub in Reinbeck, but they haven't quite got their feet under them yet, so they sell other Iowa craft beers and some other brands at present. We availed ourselves of the excellent Topling Goliath offerings there. I ended my time with a selection from Evil Twin Brewing, the Imperial style Biscotti something or another, and then made my way back home.

That's the final chapter in the report on the 13th Annual Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. Tomorrow I will wrap up things with my final thoughts on the weekend, a quick look at gear, and some thoughts for the future of this ride.

Monday, July 30, 2018

GTDRI '18: Report Part 1

That's me doing my beast "I'm dead" imitation.
The 13th Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational was, in a word, excellent. Maybe the best one ever. I'm going to take a couple days to cover this one, so settle in....

Friday afternoon I was hearing that the weather forecast had been changed again. Now almost all hints of rain had been removed and the temperature was only to be into the mid-70's. Winds were to be mere breaths. It would be highly unusual for all three of these things to happen in late July. But it looked as though it would.

I blame this for the six confirmations on attendance for the ride which I received on Friday afternoon and into the evening. Poor weather, or heck, even typical July hot and humid would have checked the numbers on the ride to "normal" or less. As it was, it looked like we were going to have a largish group.

My plan was to get to sleep before ten o'clock, but a late family dinner out and then an emergency run to pick up some things for the gals of the house made it so I did not get to bed until 10:30pm. My alarm clock was set for 4:00am. It was going to be an okay night of sleep, but not the long, luxurious sleep I was hoping for.

Fortunately, I did do some things right like bulk up on water the previous three days and eat better. That was felt on Saturday, but the sleep thing was worrying me Friday night. Oh well! Like I said, I did some things right. One other thing I hadn't done right was to get in longer rides previous to this. My longest ride to date had been maybe 50-ish miles. Once. That wasn't necessarily good.

The setting full Moon was spectacular on Saturday morning.
So, the alarm went off and after three trips back to the house for things I almost forgot, I was off. It was super humid! I could hardly see a thing out the truck windows for a time. But that said, it was cool. In the upper 50's. That warm blanket of humidity kept the vest I was packing in the bag though.

I arrived at the furthest away parking lot I specified to use and no one else was around. That changed in a hurry when a couple of guys showed up, and then we got geared up and slowly tooled over to the Ambient Ales address. Along the way we passed the other lot I specified to use and there were a lot of cyclists there. Then we got down to the start and there were even more! Just before we took off a couple more winged it into the street's parking slots and we ended up having something like 20 guys take the start.

Just a part of the group at the first stop of the ride in the first section of Level B Road.
We had MG from Lincoln, Kyle and Charlie from Cedar Rapids, Rick and Dan from Des Moines, and Steve from Charles City. We had quite a few from the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, and an old co-worker, Craig, and his friend from Ames. Jeremy caught us later, as did Travis, who is from Wisconsin, I believe.  I ended up figuring we had about 25 people, all told. That's a tie for the record at a GTDRI, I'm pretty sure.

Well, with all the folks we didn't get rolling until close to 6:30am, but it was okay. The group, remarkably, was sticking together. I was a bit surprised, to be honest. I figured that with so many people of varying abilities I would be having stragglers, but we didn't. Well, unless you count me, but that will come later......

I was riding up front with my friends MG and Tony amongst others. It was awesome to ride with MG again. It had been far too long. We were having fun and I suggested we stop in the first Level B to allow for a nature break. I was amazed at the turnout. Everyone seemed to be getting on and having a good time too. Plus, the weather was spectacular. No wind, Sun, but cool, and it just seemed perfect for riding. Many remarked throughout the ride about the weather, so it wasn't just me.

MG (L) and Kyle Platts lead a long group of cyclists through another Level B Road section.
The opening miles of the GTDRI course were flattish, not too difficult, and sprinkled with several flatter Level B Roads. We rode on one from T.I.v4, and then past Dysart at about Mile 25. Then the course went South and we took in that same dirt road which led to the artifacts on that old farmstead that mystified us the previous year. Here we stopped again.

I gave a little history on the place aided by Tony, who knew the folks that maintained the yard there. Then after a bit of picture taking, munching on vittles, and drinking of water, we were off again. The route now bore more Westward and skirted the Iowa version of the "Bohemian Alps", a hilly area South of Traer and East of Toledo.

By this point into the ride we were getting into the 40 mile mark and I was looking forward to getting to Traer to resupply on food and water. Then I realized that it was only 9:30am! We were burning up the road at a high pace and still the group was sticking together. I was doubly shocked. I figured this pace was not good, and I started pointing out that we needn't be in such a big hurry to finish. The whole point was to ride all day. Not "get done early". I mean, why not enjoy the scenery? It is kind of the point with courses I devise.

While wildflowers weren't as prevalent as in years past, this ditch did not disappoint.
The miles ticked away and by this point in the ride a couple of other things were evident. One was that the Sun had been out a while and it was getting hot. Not unbearably hot, but if we stopped, with no wind, it seemed really hot. The minute we'd get going again the "manufactured breeze" would chill me down again. Secondly, it was very dusty! I noted clouds of dust off our wheels and unless you were up front you were breathing in that crap. I ended up with some pretty agitated nasal passages after the ride. Thirdly- the Level B roads were a big hit with the riders!

Back in the pack it was rather dusty, as evidenced from this shot in a Level B Road just North of Clutier.
The ride was sticking together and we were rolling into Traer around a little past ten in the morning. We raided the convenience store there and then took our leisure for a while. I was in no hurry to get rolling again. One reason was that I knew what lay ahead. Besides preaching the "we don't have to be in such a hurry" line, I was telling the group that the next 27 miles were the worst for hills in the ride. Basically, the entire section to Garwin was difficult and there were no real easy parts. Conserving energy would help preserve ourselves for what lay ahead. Now I was to be helped in this area by a couple of unexpected happenings, but I didn't know that in Traer.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the 2018 GTDRI Report tomorrow.......

GTDRI '18: Report Part 1

That's me doing my beast "I'm dead" imitation.
The 13th Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational was, in a word, excellent. Maybe the best one ever. I'm going to take a couple days to cover this one, so settle in....

Friday afternoon I was hearing that the weather forecast had been changed again. Now almost all hints of rain had been removed and the temperature was only to be into the mid-70's. Winds were to be mere breaths. It would be highly unusual for all three of these things to happen in late July. But it looked as though it would.

I blame this for the six confirmations on attendance for the ride which I received on Friday afternoon and into the evening. Poor weather, or heck, even typical July hot and humid would have checked the numbers on the ride to "normal" or less. As it was, it looked like we were going to have a largish group.

My plan was to get to sleep before ten o'clock, but a late family dinner out and then an emergency run to pick up some things for the gals of the house made it so I did not get to bed until 10:30pm. My alarm clock was set for 4:00am. It was going to be an okay night of sleep, but not the long, luxurious sleep I was hoping for.

Fortunately, I did do some things right like bulk up on water the previous three days and eat better. That was felt on Saturday, but the sleep thing was worrying me Friday night. Oh well! Like I said, I did some things right. One other thing I hadn't done right was to get in longer rides previous to this. My longest ride to date had been maybe 50-ish miles. Once. That wasn't necessarily good.

The setting full Moon was spectacular on Saturday morning.
So, the alarm went off and after three trips back to the house for things I almost forgot, I was off. It was super humid! I could hardly see a thing out the truck windows for a time. But that said, it was cool. In the upper 50's. That warm blanket of humidity kept the vest I was packing in the bag though.

I arrived at the furthest away parking lot I specified to use and no one else was around. That changed in a hurry when a couple of guys showed up, and then we got geared up and slowly tooled over to the Ambient Ales address. Along the way we passed the other lot I specified to use and there were a lot of cyclists there. Then we got down to the start and there were even more! Just before we took off a couple more winged it into the street's parking slots and we ended up having something like 20 guys take the start.

Just a part of the group at the first stop of the ride in the first section of Level B Road.
We had MG from Lincoln, Kyle and Charlie from Cedar Rapids, Rick and Dan from Des Moines, and Steve from Charles City. We had quite a few from the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, and an old co-worker, Craig, and his friend from Ames. Jeremy caught us later, as did Travis, who is from Wisconsin, I believe.  I ended up figuring we had about 25 people, all told. That's a tie for the record at a GTDRI, I'm pretty sure.

Well, with all the folks we didn't get rolling until close to 6:30am, but it was okay. The group, remarkably, was sticking together. I was a bit surprised, to be honest. I figured that with so many people of varying abilities I would be having stragglers, but we didn't. Well, unless you count me, but that will come later......

I was riding up front with my friends MG and Tony amongst others. It was awesome to ride with MG again. It had been far too long. We were having fun and I suggested we stop in the first Level B to allow for a nature break. I was amazed at the turnout. Everyone seemed to be getting on and having a good time too. Plus, the weather was spectacular. No wind, Sun, but cool, and it just seemed perfect for riding. Many remarked throughout the ride about the weather, so it wasn't just me.

MG (L) and Kyle Platts lead a long group of cyclists through another Level B Road section.
The opening miles of the GTDRI course were flattish, not too difficult, and sprinkled with several flatter Level B Roads. We rode on one from T.I.v4, and then past Dysart at about Mile 25. Then the course went South and we took in that same dirt road which led to the artifacts on that old farmstead that mystified us the previous year. Here we stopped again.

I gave a little history on the place aided by Tony, who knew the folks that maintained the yard there. Then after a bit of picture taking, munching on vittles, and drinking of water, we were off again. The route now bore more Westward and skirted the Iowa version of the "Bohemian Alps", a hilly area South of Traer and East of Toledo.

By this point into the ride we were getting into the 40 mile mark and I was looking forward to getting to Traer to resupply on food and water. Then I realized that it was only 9:30am! We were burning up the road at a high pace and still the group was sticking together. I was doubly shocked. I figured this pace was not good, and I started pointing out that we needn't be in such a big hurry to finish. The whole point was to ride all day. Not "get done early". I mean, why not enjoy the scenery? It is kind of the point with courses I devise.

While wildflowers weren't as prevalent as in years past, this ditch did not disappoint.
The miles ticked away and by this point in the ride a couple of other things were evident. One was that the Sun had been out a while and it was getting hot. Not unbearably hot, but if we stopped, with no wind, it seemed really hot. The minute we'd get going again the "manufactured breeze" would chill me down again. Secondly, it was very dusty! I noted clouds of dust off our wheels and unless you were up front you were breathing in that crap. I ended up with some pretty agitated nasal passages after the ride. Thirdly- the Level B roads were a big hit with the riders!

Back in the pack it was rather dusty, as evidenced from this shot in a Level B Road just North of Clutier.
The ride was sticking together and we were rolling into Traer around a little past ten in the morning. We raided the convenience store there and then took our leisure for a while. I was in no hurry to get rolling again. One reason was that I knew what lay ahead. Besides preaching the "we don't have to be in such a hurry" line, I was telling the group that the next 27 miles were the worst for hills in the ride. Basically, the entire section to Garwin was difficult and there were no real easy parts. Conserving energy would help preserve ourselves for what lay ahead. Now I was to be helped in this area by a couple of unexpected happenings, but I didn't know that in Traer.

Stay tuned for Part Two of the 2018 GTDRI Report tomorrow.......

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Touring Series: In A Blazer Of Glory

  Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

  As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant. I will also sprinkle in any modern images of places we visited when applicable and when I can find images that convey the same look as 1995. 


This brings the first part of the series to an end. The story of the Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour comes to an end with this post. There was another tour the next year which I will continue the series with. In between there will be a few interim posts bringing you all up to speed with things which were important the year following the Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour. Thanks for reading!
________________________________________________________________________ 

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
 The tour was over, but we had one day to get back home. We were in a state park near Manistique, Michigan waiting on a ride home.  Here is what happened on Sunday, the eighth day after we had left Dewar, Iowa. 

I was awoken out of a deep sleep by the sound of the tent zipper going up. It was my wife's head that I saw poking into the door. Wow! It was still dark out and they were here already! Steve's girlfriend and my wife drove up all through the night to get us. Now it was time to start packing up the goods and cramming five people into a late 80's era Blazer. 

We were all ready to go as the gray light of dawn had just started peeking over the horizon. I thought the bikes looked naked and forlorn up on the roof rack stripped of their panniers. That was my last memory of Michigan. I climbed into the Blazer and was in a half asleep stupor for several hours afterward.

I kind of perked up as we went through the Green Bay area. I started joining in the chit-chat now and the miles went by on into the afternoon. Soon we were approaching Iowa again. I was really anxious to get back to Waterloo and get out of the sardine can like conditions I had suffered since leaving Michigan. As we got closer to Dubuque, we noticed that the Blazer smelled hot and it wasn't running so well. Steve thought we should stop and check the oil. So, after a quart of oil and some concerned looks, we were off. Steve's girlfriend, Brenda announced that we would be taking it slower, and the Blazer didn't have the power to climb the steep hills of Southwestern Wisconsin anymore at top speed. I was worried and a bit disappointed. This meant I'd get home even later than I had wished.


Steve's future wife, Brenda, and the blown up Blazer outside of Dubuque

Well, for those of you familiar with Highway 20 coming out of Dubuque to the west, (circa 1994) you know that there is a long, long climb to the top of a hill where there is a gas station perched at the crest. It was here that the ol' Blazer gave up the ghost. Blew the motor! It was a crazy, funny, sad, and depressing thing all together in one moment. Steve pronounced the rig dead by going in and buying a six pack and sitting it on top of the smoldering motor's air cleaner. 

Now we had no ride home and 90 miles to go. Brenda got a hold of her parents, who were gracious enough to come out and fetch Troy, my wife, and I and take us home. It seemed like an interminably long time for them to get there, but they finally did. Steve and Brenda stayed behind with the Blazer. I had no idea what they were going to do, and at that point, I was so tired and mentally fried, I didn't care. The westering sun was on my face, I was in a big Buick, and we were going home. That was all I cared about right then and there.

That was it. The end of the adventure. Brenda and Steve came back with the Blazer on Monday and brought my stuff along with it. I eventually got home and went back to my routine at the bike shop. Troy did as well. The old Mongoose mountain bike did well, but the saddle on it, an old Avocet touring model, had given me no end of grief on the last days of the ride. Troy said I should ceremonially burn it. I thought that was a cool idea, but I didn't do it. 
_________________________________________________________________
This was a weird day. Admittedly, and not revealed in the above text, I was pretty hung over. We drank a truckload of beer the night before and I think we were awakened at around 4:30am. So, I didn't get much sleep. Then we were all crammed into this S-10 Blazer, so five adults, gear, and bits from our bikes we couldn't let sit in the wind. It was a very uncomfortable experience. 
Knowing what I know now about S-10's, I believe the oil cooler hose was leaking badly, (a common S-10 issue) and the oil probably got too low before we discovered why the motor was loosing power. But anyway..... We were stranded and while the scene was a bit humorous and all, I was desperate to get home and sleep in my own bed. I don't really have a memory of anything past getting into the Buick and being in the back seat. After we got home, everything just became routine again. Nothing memorable about that!   

Next Week: Some final thoughts on The Beg Borrow, and Bastard Tour and a look ahead at what is in store for the Touring Series.

The Touring Series: In A Blazer Of Glory

  Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

  As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant. I will also sprinkle in any modern images of places we visited when applicable and when I can find images that convey the same look as 1995. 


This brings the first part of the series to an end. The story of the Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour comes to an end with this post. There was another tour the next year which I will continue the series with. In between there will be a few interim posts bringing you all up to speed with things which were important the year following the Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour. Thanks for reading!
________________________________________________________________________ 

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
 The tour was over, but we had one day to get back home. We were in a state park near Manistique, Michigan waiting on a ride home.  Here is what happened on Sunday, the eighth day after we had left Dewar, Iowa. 

I was awoken out of a deep sleep by the sound of the tent zipper going up. It was my wife's head that I saw poking into the door. Wow! It was still dark out and they were here already! Steve's girlfriend and my wife drove up all through the night to get us. Now it was time to start packing up the goods and cramming five people into a late 80's era Blazer. 

We were all ready to go as the gray light of dawn had just started peeking over the horizon. I thought the bikes looked naked and forlorn up on the roof rack stripped of their panniers. That was my last memory of Michigan. I climbed into the Blazer and was in a half asleep stupor for several hours afterward.

I kind of perked up as we went through the Green Bay area. I started joining in the chit-chat now and the miles went by on into the afternoon. Soon we were approaching Iowa again. I was really anxious to get back to Waterloo and get out of the sardine can like conditions I had suffered since leaving Michigan. As we got closer to Dubuque, we noticed that the Blazer smelled hot and it wasn't running so well. Steve thought we should stop and check the oil. So, after a quart of oil and some concerned looks, we were off. Steve's girlfriend, Brenda announced that we would be taking it slower, and the Blazer didn't have the power to climb the steep hills of Southwestern Wisconsin anymore at top speed. I was worried and a bit disappointed. This meant I'd get home even later than I had wished.


Steve's future wife, Brenda, and the blown up Blazer outside of Dubuque

Well, for those of you familiar with Highway 20 coming out of Dubuque to the west, (circa 1994) you know that there is a long, long climb to the top of a hill where there is a gas station perched at the crest. It was here that the ol' Blazer gave up the ghost. Blew the motor! It was a crazy, funny, sad, and depressing thing all together in one moment. Steve pronounced the rig dead by going in and buying a six pack and sitting it on top of the smoldering motor's air cleaner. 

Now we had no ride home and 90 miles to go. Brenda got a hold of her parents, who were gracious enough to come out and fetch Troy, my wife, and I and take us home. It seemed like an interminably long time for them to get there, but they finally did. Steve and Brenda stayed behind with the Blazer. I had no idea what they were going to do, and at that point, I was so tired and mentally fried, I didn't care. The westering sun was on my face, I was in a big Buick, and we were going home. That was all I cared about right then and there.

That was it. The end of the adventure. Brenda and Steve came back with the Blazer on Monday and brought my stuff along with it. I eventually got home and went back to my routine at the bike shop. Troy did as well. The old Mongoose mountain bike did well, but the saddle on it, an old Avocet touring model, had given me no end of grief on the last days of the ride. Troy said I should ceremonially burn it. I thought that was a cool idea, but I didn't do it. 
_________________________________________________________________
This was a weird day. Admittedly, and not revealed in the above text, I was pretty hung over. We drank a truckload of beer the night before and I think we were awakened at around 4:30am. So, I didn't get much sleep. Then we were all crammed into this S-10 Blazer, so five adults, gear, and bits from our bikes we couldn't let sit in the wind. It was a very uncomfortable experience. 
Knowing what I know now about S-10's, I believe the oil cooler hose was leaking badly, (a common S-10 issue) and the oil probably got too low before we discovered why the motor was loosing power. But anyway..... We were stranded and while the scene was a bit humorous and all, I was desperate to get home and sleep in my own bed. I don't really have a memory of anything past getting into the Buick and being in the back seat. After we got home, everything just became routine again. Nothing memorable about that!   

Next Week: Some final thoughts on The Beg Borrow, and Bastard Tour and a look ahead at what is in store for the Touring Series.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Minus Ten Review - 30

Ten years ago on the blog here I was getting the message out that 29"ers weren't a fad anymore, and that RAGBRAI was being affected by technology where folks were bailing on the ride due to the instantaneous availability of weather forecasts. Weather apps were in their infancy, but smart phones were just hitting the scene and notifications were becoming a thing.

But as for me, there were two things about the end of the month ten years ago that stood out for me. One was that I rode again on the South side of Ingawanis for the second time ever. Yep! It was 2008 when the trails back there finally got attention and were "properly" cleared. If you look at the image here, you'll note that "cleared" then meant a completely different thing than it does now. Anyway, the point is that this was a mark in time where riding the South side started to take over riding the North side, for all of us, and now we don't ever ride the North side, which was unthinkable ten years ago.

The second thing was that I notice that a LOT of my images are broken and don't show up now. For you that sucks. To me it marks the beginning of the end of "phase one" of my blogging career, such as it is. Promises made by Mr. Grahl, then owner/proprietor of the "Crooked Cog Network", started to be broken. By the end of the year it was painfully clear that there was going to be a huge sea change in the situation I had found myself in. But that tale will unravel here as the weeks unfold.....

Minus Ten Review - 30

Ten years ago on the blog here I was getting the message out that 29"ers weren't a fad anymore, and that RAGBRAI was being affected by technology where folks were bailing on the ride due to the instantaneous availability of weather forecasts. Weather apps were in their infancy, but smart phones were just hitting the scene and notifications were becoming a thing.

But as for me, there were two things about the end of the month ten years ago that stood out for me. One was that I rode again on the South side of Ingawanis for the second time ever. Yep! It was 2008 when the trails back there finally got attention and were "properly" cleared. If you look at the image here, you'll note that "cleared" then meant a completely different thing than it does now. Anyway, the point is that this was a mark in time where riding the South side started to take over riding the North side, for all of us, and now we don't ever ride the North side, which was unthinkable ten years ago.

The second thing was that I notice that a LOT of my images are broken and don't show up now. For you that sucks. To me it marks the beginning of the end of "phase one" of my blogging career, such as it is. Promises made by Mr. Grahl, then owner/proprietor of the "Crooked Cog Network", started to be broken. By the end of the year it was painfully clear that there was going to be a huge sea change in the situation I had found myself in. But that tale will unravel here as the weeks unfold.....

Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday News And Views

Touring Series Notes:

Every Sunday for the last several months, (with the exception of last Sunday), I have been re-posting stories from my original series, "Touring Tuesdays", which ran in 2008-2009. In these re-postings I have been adding imagery where it makes sense and tagging the ends of each post with additional remembrances and information. The series for the first tour, the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard" Tour", will end this Sunday.

I've gotten some feedback on the re-posts which has been positive and has encouraged me to continue on with re-posting the second tour's stories, which I had dubbed "The Race Against Death Tour". The interim time between tours, (they happened a year apart from each other), is also documented and I will be re-posting that material and will likely be expounding a bit more on that. If you thought you knew Guitar Ted, you will want to check that out. There are some surprises in this part of the story.

So, if you enjoyed those stories and want more, tune in this Sunday for the final "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard" tour post called "In A Blazer Of Glory". Then hang on for the continuing story coming out every Sunday after that.

GTDRI Set To Go Tomorrow:

Of course, tomorrow morning in Reinbeck, Iowa, the 13th Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational gravel grinder group ride is going to happen starting at 6:00am. The weather looks cool, maybe a shower later in the day, but actually pretty decent as late July weather can be pretty brutal.

I have about 8 guys committed via e-mail and comment that are supposed to be showing up. We may get a few to several more that just show up. There generally are a few "surprise" folks that just show up and ride. That will be fun to see if it happens again this year. Last year it was Kevin Fox who drove all night from Omaha, Nebraska to come and join us.

So, I was asked a couple nights ago, "Why do you call it the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational?" That's maybe a question you may have pondered, so here ya go.......

From February 1997 until September of 2002 I worked as a car mechanic. During that time I routinely put in 10-11 hour days and got maybe 20 minutes of break time split into two segments during a day. The rest of the time I was working hard! This place was busy and the work was the most physically demanding I have done. Therefore; there wasn't much physical energy left for anything afterward, especially cycling. I would go weeks at a pop without touching a bike.

So, once a year, during a slower weekend in Summer, I would take a Saturday off and get on my road bike, (Yes! I actually owned road bikes then!), and I would ride county blacktops all day, solo, until I bonked spectacularly. I didn't really have a handle on nutrition for long rides yet then. Anyway, I would come home looking like a rat that had been drug through a knothole and thus these rides became to be called "death rides".

So, after the first Trans Iowa in 2005 I got the gravel bug and decided to revive the "death ride" concept in 2006. Only I renamed it, and well.......you know the rest.

Look for a detailed report on the GTDRI Monday.

That's all I have for this week. Enjoy your weekend and I hope that you all get to ride your favorite bikes this weekend, whatever those might be. 

Friday News And Views

Touring Series Notes:

Every Sunday for the last several months, (with the exception of last Sunday), I have been re-posting stories from my original series, "Touring Tuesdays", which ran in 2008-2009. In these re-postings I have been adding imagery where it makes sense and tagging the ends of each post with additional remembrances and information. The series for the first tour, the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard" Tour", will end this Sunday.

I've gotten some feedback on the re-posts which has been positive and has encouraged me to continue on with re-posting the second tour's stories, which I had dubbed "The Race Against Death Tour". The interim time between tours, (they happened a year apart from each other), is also documented and I will be re-posting that material and will likely be expounding a bit more on that. If you thought you knew Guitar Ted, you will want to check that out. There are some surprises in this part of the story.

So, if you enjoyed those stories and want more, tune in this Sunday for the final "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard" tour post called "In A Blazer Of Glory". Then hang on for the continuing story coming out every Sunday after that.

GTDRI Set To Go Tomorrow:

Of course, tomorrow morning in Reinbeck, Iowa, the 13th Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational gravel grinder group ride is going to happen starting at 6:00am. The weather looks cool, maybe a shower later in the day, but actually pretty decent as late July weather can be pretty brutal.

I have about 8 guys committed via e-mail and comment that are supposed to be showing up. We may get a few to several more that just show up. There generally are a few "surprise" folks that just show up and ride. That will be fun to see if it happens again this year. Last year it was Kevin Fox who drove all night from Omaha, Nebraska to come and join us.

So, I was asked a couple nights ago, "Why do you call it the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational?" That's maybe a question you may have pondered, so here ya go.......

From February 1997 until September of 2002 I worked as a car mechanic. During that time I routinely put in 10-11 hour days and got maybe 20 minutes of break time split into two segments during a day. The rest of the time I was working hard! This place was busy and the work was the most physically demanding I have done. Therefore; there wasn't much physical energy left for anything afterward, especially cycling. I would go weeks at a pop without touching a bike.

So, once a year, during a slower weekend in Summer, I would take a Saturday off and get on my road bike, (Yes! I actually owned road bikes then!), and I would ride county blacktops all day, solo, until I bonked spectacularly. I didn't really have a handle on nutrition for long rides yet then. Anyway, I would come home looking like a rat that had been drug through a knothole and thus these rides became to be called "death rides".

So, after the first Trans Iowa in 2005 I got the gravel bug and decided to revive the "death ride" concept in 2006. Only I renamed it, and well.......you know the rest.

Look for a detailed report on the GTDRI Monday.

That's all I have for this week. Enjoy your weekend and I hope that you all get to ride your favorite bikes this weekend, whatever those might be. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Enough With The "Gravel Bikes" Already!

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Case in point- The Alex Moulton "Gravel Bike".
A week and a half ago I posted about how e-mtb and e-bikes in general were scooping up all the R&D dollars in the cycling industry. Well, what is left over is being put to work by many marketing departments in efforts to find ways to attach "gravel" to products.

It's getting bad when you get press releases for "gravel specific clothing" that is just cycling clothing done in muted colors with small details changed from full on race kits. You know......how cycling clothing should be done anyway? Yeah..... That's another subject.

But what I wanted to zero in on today was that I am seeing more and more companies jump on the gravel train with bicycles that are, well......interesting in some cases, but downright goofy in others. I've seen no less than three different e-biked gravel rigs offered. To me , that is the epitome of weird. A bike that, in all likelihood, the battery won't last for more than one ride, since, well, range is limited with many of these rigs.

Then there is the Kinesis brand out of the UK. They have had a great business doing bikes for the UK's Winter season and Audax riding for years. Suddenly these bikes became "gravel bikes" and they just introduced a new, more "road-ish" version. To be fair, these bikes get rave reviews, but the marketing..... Yeah. Also- I've nothing against those Kinesis rigs. I wouldn't mind trying one myself. They look great. Especially the titanium version, which I think would be really lovely.

The State Bicycle Warhawk
Not that there aren't legitimate entries into the genre' these days. Take for instance the State Bicycle Warhawk. Besides the militaristic name, the rig seems okay and the geo actually isn't bad. You could do worse for sub-$600.00, which is pretty great value in a single speed these days.

But the thing is, the term "gravel" is beaten to death, and I am growing weary of it. Especially when it gets tagged to everything, or so it seems, in cycling these days. I figure if it is burning me out, it is wearing on many of you as well.

What's worse, it takes energy away from what could be a liberating movement in cycling. The whole "not-roadie, not mtb" thing could be the marketing boon that cycling always has wanted. Getting away from the racing thing, or the "make it easier" thing, when it could be about something more life changing, world changing, and yes- revolutionary. 

Of course, average marketing people aren't interested in this. They look for the low hanging fruit and blast it with the "AK-47 of Advertising" until our eyes and ears bleed. Then they find the next thing to hook consumers into with, whatever seems easiest, whatever is trending, and blast away at that.

You could say I was part of the problem. I may resemble that remark, but I could also point you to several blog posts done circa 2011-2012 where I expound upon how an "all-road" approach to cycling could bridge the gap between roadie racer and mtb shredder, inviting a wider swath of the public out to cycle for adventure and fun.

But whatever.....Just stop it with the pasting of the term "gravel" on to all your products already!

Enough With The "Gravel Bikes" Already!

Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Case in point- The Alex Moulton "Gravel Bike".
A week and a half ago I posted about how e-mtb and e-bikes in general were scooping up all the R&D dollars in the cycling industry. Well, what is left over is being put to work by many marketing departments in efforts to find ways to attach "gravel" to products.

It's getting bad when you get press releases for "gravel specific clothing" that is just cycling clothing done in muted colors with small details changed from full on race kits. You know......how cycling clothing should be done anyway? Yeah..... That's another subject.

But what I wanted to zero in on today was that I am seeing more and more companies jump on the gravel train with bicycles that are, well......interesting in some cases, but downright goofy in others. I've seen no less than three different e-biked gravel rigs offered. To me , that is the epitome of weird. A bike that, in all likelihood, the battery won't last for more than one ride, since, well, range is limited with many of these rigs.

Then there is the Kinesis brand out of the UK. They have had a great business doing bikes for the UK's Winter season and Audax riding for years. Suddenly these bikes became "gravel bikes" and they just introduced a new, more "road-ish" version. To be fair, these bikes get rave reviews, but the marketing..... Yeah. Also- I've nothing against those Kinesis rigs. I wouldn't mind trying one myself. They look great. Especially the titanium version, which I think would be really lovely.

The State Bicycle Warhawk
Not that there aren't legitimate entries into the genre' these days. Take for instance the State Bicycle Warhawk. Besides the militaristic name, the rig seems okay and the geo actually isn't bad. You could do worse for sub-$600.00, which is pretty great value in a single speed these days.

But the thing is, the term "gravel" is beaten to death, and I am growing weary of it. Especially when it gets tagged to everything, or so it seems, in cycling these days. I figure if it is burning me out, it is wearing on many of you as well.

What's worse, it takes energy away from what could be a liberating movement in cycling. The whole "not-roadie, not mtb" thing could be the marketing boon that cycling always has wanted. Getting away from the racing thing, or the "make it easier" thing, when it could be about something more life changing, world changing, and yes- revolutionary. 

Of course, average marketing people aren't interested in this. They look for the low hanging fruit and blast it with the "AK-47 of Advertising" until our eyes and ears bleed. Then they find the next thing to hook consumers into with, whatever seems easiest, whatever is trending, and blast away at that.

You could say I was part of the problem. I may resemble that remark, but I could also point you to several blog posts done circa 2011-2012 where I expound upon how an "all-road" approach to cycling could bridge the gap between roadie racer and mtb shredder, inviting a wider swath of the public out to cycle for adventure and fun.

But whatever.....Just stop it with the pasting of the term "gravel" on to all your products already!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

GTDRI '18: The Rig

The Otso Cycles Waheela
So, this may seem weird to some of you out there, but the bicycle I will ride this weekend isn't even mine. Nope! It wasn't my rig last year either. Another common thread here is that both last year and this year I will be riding bikes from Otso Cycles.

Last year it was the stainless steel tubed Warakin. This year it will be the steel tubed Waheela. But this year I have suspension and dropper capabilities!

Much has been made of where gravel cycling is going in terms of style, features, and uses. There are a growing number of cyclists who are looking to do more back road stuff with an option to throw in single track. Yes......mountain biking. Look, I get it, just ride a 29"er hard tail, right. "Not so fast!", say this sort of bike's champions. They claim that a gravel bike has the aero and speed they want on gravel, two track, and dirt roads, but with a bit of suspension and a dropper you can also thread in some light single track options as well.

So, this is what I will be exploring with the Waheela. On the GTDRI course we will see a couple of places where it is nigh unto mtb territory. I also will be exploring how, or even if, high speed gravel descending is affected by having a dropper post. My initial tests show that there is a benefit. But I have to see how it plays out in the country.

Interestingly, this bike will accept a 29" x 2.0" WTB Nineline with plenty of room to spare in the back, but the front suspension lowers Fox used were from a 650B fork, so the front tire hit the arch. Bah! So, instead I will be going with the 650B x 47mm Byways I have mounted up on the carbon Aon GX 35's I have. A quick e-mail to Otso resulted in the finding that if you run a 29"er wheel up front, only the Lithic rigid carbon fork is currently compatible.

So, I will be doing some experimenting again in the Lab and the beast will arise from there today in full GTDRI regalia. It should be a scene.

Stay tuned......

GTDRI '18: The Rig

The Otso Cycles Waheela
So, this may seem weird to some of you out there, but the bicycle I will ride this weekend isn't even mine. Nope! It wasn't my rig last year either. Another common thread here is that both last year and this year I will be riding bikes from Otso Cycles.

Last year it was the stainless steel tubed Warakin. This year it will be the steel tubed Waheela. But this year I have suspension and dropper capabilities!

Much has been made of where gravel cycling is going in terms of style, features, and uses. There are a growing number of cyclists who are looking to do more back road stuff with an option to throw in single track. Yes......mountain biking. Look, I get it, just ride a 29"er hard tail, right. "Not so fast!", say this sort of bike's champions. They claim that a gravel bike has the aero and speed they want on gravel, two track, and dirt roads, but with a bit of suspension and a dropper you can also thread in some light single track options as well.

So, this is what I will be exploring with the Waheela. On the GTDRI course we will see a couple of places where it is nigh unto mtb territory. I also will be exploring how, or even if, high speed gravel descending is affected by having a dropper post. My initial tests show that there is a benefit. But I have to see how it plays out in the country.

Interestingly, this bike will accept a 29" x 2.0" WTB Nineline with plenty of room to spare in the back, but the front suspension lowers Fox used were from a 650B fork, so the front tire hit the arch. Bah! So, instead I will be going with the 650B x 47mm Byways I have mounted up on the carbon Aon GX 35's I have. A quick e-mail to Otso resulted in the finding that if you run a 29"er wheel up front, only the Lithic rigid carbon fork is currently compatible.

So, I will be doing some experimenting again in the Lab and the beast will arise from there today in full GTDRI regalia. It should be a scene.

Stay tuned......

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

GTDRI '18- Update

Fine Details:

Okay, the GTDRI, (Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational) is set to go off this Saturday at 6:00am in front of Ambient Ales in Reinbeck Iowa. These are the pertinent details you need to have in hand if you are planning on coming. I have heard from about a half dozen people with solid "yes" answers to my ride, so I expect at least a decent sized bunch to show up.

Route Details: 
 
  • There should be a solid 25% of the mileage in dirt roads on this 102+ mile length route. 
  • We will pass by Dysart, but I really do not want to have to stop there. It would add two miles- out and back- to get to the Dysart Casey's convenience store. 
  • The first planned stop will be in Traer at about Mile 49. 
  • The second planned stop will be at Mile 76 in Garwin, Iowa
  • After Garwin there will be approximately 27 miles to finish up at Ambient Ales. 
  • Start Time: 6:00am in front of  Ambient Ales
  • Finish time: Approximately 6:00pm. This will depend upon weather, the group, and winds. 
  • Plan to meet rain or shine. If it rains we are going to wing it. The dirt roads won't be rideable. The route could be completely different. Be prepared for chaos and adventure if the weather goes pear shaped.The route could be 25 miles or a century if that happens. 
  • Plot A Route gpx file  Available HERE
  • The ride has no fee, no swag, no prizes. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU!! 
  • Be prepared to ride at least 50 miles with all food, water, and repair items you think you will need to be self supported. 
  • NO SAG AVAILABLE! Plan accordingly
  • Cell service WILL BE SKETCHY!
  • There will be farm dogs and possibly wild animals. 
  • There will be deep, fresh gravel, dirt, and maybe some sand. 
  • We will cross highways and run alongside HWY 63 for a 1/2 mile total in two different places. 
  • This ride will be primarily in Tama County with short forays in to Grundy County and Benton County. 
  • YOU ARE INVITED.
Parking:

I've heard from enough folks that I feel we need to be sensitive to parking issues. There is a park on the West side of Reinbeck two blocks South of the Casey's convenience store which is on Highway 175. Turn South on College Street then Right on 3rd Ave to the parking area. It's a short ride over to Broad Street where we will start the ride.

There is also a municipal lot located on the corner of Broad Street and Clark.

NOTE: I assume no liability for your car or belongings during this ride.

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU!

Weather: 

The latest is that it should be stellar weather. Light winds and a slight chance for a pop up thunderstorm, but the temperatures will be in the mid-70's by late afternoon. It may be a bit on the chilly side to start out, so be prepared. A light wind jacket, vest, or arm warmers may be wise. If you are averse to getting wet, bring rain gear, but I suspect you won't be getting it out. Just a feeling.......

That said, there are NO PROVISIONS FOR YOUR SAFETY MADE BY MYSELF. You are going to have to make a call if the weather gets bad that is best for yourself and deal with the consequences. This is an UNSUPPORTED RIDE, and I am at the mercy of the elements and circumstances as much as you will be. If we get caught out in bad weather, it will be every man and woman for themselves. Just so you know.......

Ambient Ales should be open for business after the ride, but they do NOT SERVE FOOD! Your best bet is to get to Casey's and grab some pizza afterward.

NOTE: Please respond to this post about attendance.

Thanks!