Friday, August 31, 2018

Friday News And Views

Make that 2019. It's on!
DKXL On For '19:

This past week came news from the DK Promotions team regarding next year's events that they promote. The DK200 and 100 will see new routes using the "return of iconic checkpoint towns", which I would believe has to be a nod toward a route North of Emporia and West as well. They also mention roster increases, but don't give a number.

But the interesting news to me is the DKXL is now going to be opened up to the "public"....... kind of. Checking the DKXL page, it looks like the DK Promotions team is taking up to 200 applications, and then they will screen those and give permission as they see fit. Applications are opened December 1st and are open for the next 8 days, closing on the 9th. No word on what qualifications they are looking for, or how the process will be accomplished. Interestingly, in a Trans Iowa-like twist, they are not refunding entry fees if you drop and there doesn't seem to be any waiting list, nor are transfers going to be allowed.

There isn't any word on roster limitations, nor is there an entry fee specified at this time. But we can infer a couple of things from the release of this info. First, if they are taking 200 applications only, and maybe 200 won't even try to sign on, then we know the roster limit is less than that. The event, if run like this year's, would be totally self-supported in terms of water, food, etc. So- no support at any checkpoints, if there are any checkpoints. Last June they did the whole 350 straight through, and they ran riders through towns so they could resupply, but no "official" checkpoints were set up. This means that, due to the very nature of the Kansas Flint Hills, they cannot run all that many through these towns and expect the stores available to absorb the kind of pressure a couple of hundred riders would bring. That is if they do this like the first one. 

My guess would be that the roster cut off is around 100 or less, but we'll see for real later this year, I am sure. They could do aid stations set up just for this part of the event too, and that would be a totally different scenario then. Who knows? Only they do at DK Promotions right now. That and the entry fee, which I am going to guess is more than that for the 200 miler. But again, I am speculating here.

This perch is good!  WTB Siverado
WTB Siverado 142mm Width:

I just wrote up a review on two WTB saddles now offered in wider widths. One, the SL8, was "okay", but it didn't fit me great. Still, it is a very nice saddle for those who might get on with its features. I ended up giving the Silverado the nod, and I ended up really getting along with that one.

My good friend, MG, is a devotee of the OG Silverado, but it was too skinny for my behind. But I know he liked that saddle a lot because it came up in almost every conversation we had about saddles. Now I understand why. The wider 142mm width works well for me and the shape of the Silverado, sort of like a pared down Pure V, really works well underneath me. It has all those WTB saddle trademarks but maybe a bit more subtly so than the old SST and Pure V series did.

Like I said though in yesterday's post, this saddle may be "the one" for the Tamland. Time will tell. I like the light weight, it's got Ti rails, so it has a bit of give to it, and the Microfiber cover is nice. Not too grippy but not slippery either.

Will it usurp the Pure or the Brooks Cambium as my favorite saddle? Might. I don't know yet. Longer rides will tell the tale, but until then, I think the Silverado is on my short list of saddles that work for me in just about every sense.

The Sawyer out on the single track in town the other day.
Should It Stay Or Should It Go?

I've got a LOT of bicycles. No doubt about that. I do not need all of them, but some of them are special in one way or another. That gets in the way of practicality. It gets in the way of what makes sense too. It isn't an easy road to navigate for me.

Which brings me to the Sawyer. That was a two year and out model Trek did right when they folded Gary Fisher into the Trek brand. (Still one of the biggest mistakes Trek ever made, in my opinion.) I've no doubt that the Sawyer was destined to have Gary Fisher livery, but Trek deep sixed the name at the eleventh hour the year they pulled the trigger on the brand change. I was told only a small handful of Trek's highest brass ever knew that was happening until they unleashed the news one fateful Summer day.

Anyway, the Sawyer was, and to this day still is, one of the best renderings of a cruiser/paper boy style bike ever done with fat tires. That includes all custom bikes I've ever seen. To know that this was a production bike, and to see all the fine detail that went into its design and manufacture, well, it wouldn't be hard to pass off the Sawyer as a custom one-off.

That said, I've had a love-hate relationship with this bike over the years. I made the mistake of putting a too-long of a fork on it and couldn't figure out what it was that made the bike stink so bad afterward. Then I got the right length fork on it and it came back alive. A switch to 27.5+ wheels then sealed the deal. I like the bike and it rides very well. But, now what? I hardly ever ride it. Someone should be enjoying this rig. It's a shame to let it sit so much, despite the fact I think so much of its design and now- how it rides.

The thing is, if I let it go, I likely will never get anything close to it again, and I do like to ride it now and again. Just like the past few days where I have been commuting on it. But.....


First world problems.

Have a great weekend and stay safe on this Labor Day Holiday!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Starting Back Slowly

A perfect day for riding.
The post-events recovery is progressing. My legs don't feel so weak and painful all the time and everything seems to be fine when I commute back and forth to work. I rode a single speed the other day and did a "dirt home from work" ride which made me think I was finally coming around.

So, the humidity broke Tuesday evening and Wednesday dawned cool and windy from the Northwest. I had some things to take care of on the ol' innergoogles before I could ride, but just after noon I got out for a little country ramble.

Of course, the desire is to go and ride all day, but that probably wouldn't be a very good idea right now. It is best to take steps up, and not try to knock off some gigantic mileage right away. Plus, the wind was pretty stiff Wednesday. Northwesterly and probably around 15-20mph out in the open areas. I decided to grind it out into the wind first and then go home with a tailwind. That meant going North and West first.

I chose to ride up Moline Road first out there and I haven't been up Moline going North all year. So it was fun to see the old sites I used to see every Saturday morning when I was doing 3GR rides. The scenery hadn't changed much and the gravel was rough. My friend Tony warned me that it would be. He'd seen the maintainers going out a few days back, I guess. So it wasn't just the wind, but it was also the rougher gravel which always adds some resistance.

I chose the Tamland to ride this time.
The bike I was riding was the tried and true Tamland. The bike has seen so many changes over the years, but it always delivers up a smooth ride. Now that ride has been enhanced by yet another Salsa Cycles Regulator titanium post. There isn't a ton of exposed post there, but it's enough that now this bike is super smooth riding.

The latest change has been the saddle........again! I have had so many different saddles on this bike I've lost track of them all. Something or another about all of them previous to the newest contender have been a bother to the point I had to make a switch. Saddles I love on other bikes? Not working here. It's weird, and honestly, frustrating. The last saddle, a Pure V, was about as close as I've gotten to acceptable. I was pretty sure I'd stick to it, but then WTB sent out a couple saddles for me to try. One of them, a wider version of the classic Silverado, ended up on the Tamland and so good. 

Anyway, I was going up Moline Road and as I noted the first time I rode it, the hills are kind of tough. They come in one after the other for several miles, each one getting you a bit higher than the next one, This goes on until you reach Bennington Road and then the rollers calm down and are more manageable. Every road North of Waterloo does that, by the way. I just think Moline Road is the tougher route. I will say a couple of other roads are pretty close though.

So, there I was going, up, against a stiff wind, and on rough gravel. I was working myself pretty hard. I bet I was going as hard as I've done since Gravel Worlds, and that was pretty intense. I noted my speed going up and it was steady and higher than I figured I would be going. No "survival mode" climbing! It was actually fun. But I knew I needed to keep the effort in check and not over do it. So, I turned West at Mt. Vernon Road and limited myself to 20 miles. That would be enough on top of already having ridden the cargo bike to recycle stuff and afterward I had planned on mowing the lawn.

The ditches are rife with these leggy, yellow flowers which bloom in Iowa every August. Note the hungry bugs!
So, it turned out to be a high activity day and my legs were tired by the end of it all, but not cooked. That's a very good sign and I am hopeful that a full recovery is in the works so I can get on with enjoying Fall. That season is nigh upon us, and it is my favorite time of the year to ride.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

It's Dead

These gizmos and more have pretty much changed the face of "self-supported" racing forever.
Self-supported racing, for the most part, is dead. It has been for many years now. You may not have noticed it, but things are not what they used to be.

I've been keenly aware of this since I started Trans Iowa event production with Jeff Kerkove back in 2004-2005. Every year since, self-supported endurance efforts became easier and easier, at least in terms of the little corner of that which I have observed along the way. When the genre' made a final turn into a form of supported event participation on a grand scale is something I cannot pinpoint exactly, I just know it happened.

First off, let me say that the physical part remains a challenge like to that which men and women took on earlier in my time around this stuff.  I don't belittle that part at all. What I am saying is that the other major hurdle competitors face, the mental part, has changed vastly since those days when I became part of Trans Iowa. The differences are huge. Mental, emotional, and even spiritual support is so much a part of the events now that no one takes thought as to how impactful that part of riding these events is today compared to the lack of those support mechanisms ten, fifteen years ago. 

The evidence abounds, and it is right there in front of us if we pay attention. Read race reports, for example, and you will see how it works. I read one the other day for Gravel Worlds that mentioned how a rider was about to quit when a call to this person's significant other was made and this person changed the mind of the rider, offering what was called out by the author of the report as "support". You've no doubt read or heard about things like this before.

Or how about checkpoint appearances by family members eager to support a rider, or even in my report about Gravel Worlds, when I mentioned the "Trail Angels" in that small village I passed through? Then there are the "likes" and texts, and other social media connections. It all adds up. Imagine riding a long event without any possibility of any of those things I mentioned. 

That's how it used to be, at one time. Early Trans Iowa events featured zero social media. Heck, you couldn't even get a cell phone to work 80% of the time. That quickly changed though. By Trans Iowa v5, I noted that riders were using cell phones to talk to loved ones, getting encouraged, coached, and "supported" by those voices on the other end. Then it went to social media being used, texts, GPS tracking, and occasionally we were aware that there was a possibility of a support person for certain riders. This meant I had to get more eyes out on course after v8, and we were pretty vigilant about looking for odd cars and signs of support.

But it was the electronic technology that really changed the face of self-supported racing. As far as I can tell, there is no going back either. Too bad, because anyone that says their event is "self-supported" isn't really considering what that means in 2018 and beyond versus what they maybe think it means in a romanticized, nostalgic sense. To my mind, "self-supported" isn't happening anymore. It's dead.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


Lezyne side loader cage in (VERY) Purple
The BgP was used in two events and during those events I realized that there was one small detail of my build that was annoying. That being that the second bottle on the down tube, the one closest to the seat tube, was a bearcat to get out while you are riding the bike. I could get it out, but it was a struggle and mostly due to the fact that you have to pull the bottle in line with the downtube. This ends up making you run into the bottle cage mounted directly in front of this bottle you are trying to get at. Frustrating and not good.

I figured that a different type of bottle cage might work. I had heard that Lezyne might make some cages that would work and so Todd, my co-worker, and I did some internet sleuthing and came across this side loader cage from Lezyne. is offered in a purple color! 

Order placed, I patiently awaited its delivery to the shop where I work. When it came in, I was curious as to just what shade of purple I was getting. Of course, I had no expectations that it would match the Velocity Bottle Traps I already had. That would be asking too much, but I was hoping it wouldn't be too far off or weird in hue. Much to my delight, it turned out to be almost a dead ringer for the Wolf Tooth head set I used.

One other thing I noted was that this cage allowed for a slight amount of adjustment to the mounting position as the holes are slotted. Then I noted that this cage is made from some pretty beefy looking plastic. Pliable, but tough. Also- you might note that you can get this in a left or right side load version. I got the right side version. I Instagrammed my purchase and received a lot of encouraging words on how these cages worked for others. So, I'm pretty hopeful that it will do the trick.

Coming out sideways now!
I mounted it up and it really looks great. Definitely a more intense shade of purple than the Velocity cages are. So......I have to make a decision here. Maybe I leave it, run two diferent shades of purple, or maybe I get all the cages switched over to this Lezyne cage hue.

Some of that will depend upon how I like the Lezyne cage. I haven't ridden with it yet due to certain technical upgrades happening here which took me away from riding this weekend. (See yesterday's post for why that was.)

Otherwise I think this will solve my only nit with how this bike came together. Once that is tidied up I will decide about color and maybe make the switch. Another experiment I need to engage in will be swapping over to 650B wheels and tires to see what I think of that on the Black Mountain BgP. I've got to get a couple more TRP center lock rotors before I get to that though.

In the meantime the mountain bikes have been getting refreshed for the upcoming Fall season and next on the maintenance schedule are the fat bikes which need cleaning and going over before Winter arrives. So, there will be no shortage of work to do in between riding, getting the house ready for Winter, and doing whatever needs done for the website work.

Monday, August 27, 2018


Transitional phase engaged
Something happened here at Guitar Ted Productions that hasn't happened in over 10 years. I got a new PC set up.

That's right, out with the old, in with the new! Hopefully there will be no hiccups with the new set up or the transition to a completely new set up. And when I say "completely new", I mean even the desk!

The computer I used was old, but the desk was absolutely decrepit. I have a pet peeve and it has to do with pressed wood furniture. I do not like it at all. My old desk, which you can see in the image here, was pressed wood and it started decaying immediately after we got it. It got so bad that for a while it was snagging my wool garments. Not good!

So I ended up modifying the desk top using Gorilla Glue and that actually worked very well. Anyway, as you can imagine, the desk is a mess and looks horrible. I cannot wait to get this piece of slag out of the house. But before that happens my tech, (Mrs. Guitar Ted), has to do a lot of switching, rewiring, and we both will be rearranging and cleaning up stuff.

So, what can you, as a reader here, expect? Hopefully you can still expect the same content daily, (or nearly so), that I have provided for over ten years here. Barring any technical difficulties during the switch, that will be the case. Otherwise the look and feel of the blog should remain the same for the foreseeable future.

I guess now would be as good a time as any to ask for any suggestions or comments that you, as readers, would like to see changed, deleted, added, or whatever. Just hit me up in the comments here or at

As always, thank you for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Touring Series: The Race Against Death Tour Begins!

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, 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.

So, with all the preparations done well in advance, we had nothing to do but wait for the day to arrive for our departure. As with the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour", I wanted to chronicle the event for the future. I had a lofty goal of writing as we went, and even went so far as to buy a little book to take along and write in. I got as far as the first entry! Ha ha! So much for that. Here's a little excerpt from that entry, which will help lock a few details in;

Friday, August 4th: .....Now during a typically hot, humid Iowa summer, we tourers are on the brink of a once in a lifetime experience. .........We have as a goal to reach Winter Park, Colorado, via the Black Hills of South Dakota in two weeks. 100 mile a day average for an approximate total of 1300 miles. The stage is set. On Monday, August 7th at 6:30 am we shall set forth on our journey.

That was a lofty goal, and as you might be able to tell, I was pretty confident I had the details worked out. Well, we will see later how far off the mark I was! However; until then, there is much to tell, so on with the story......

The details were not written down as I went, but I did have the foresight to make notes on each days happenings and to record the mileage. Fortunately the rest was memorable enough that I can piece this together into a coherent and (hopefully) entertaining read. The highlights and low lights are all engraved on my memory still.

So it was that this tour was setting off on a hot August in 1995. Troy on his trusty green Voyager, Ryan on a slightly too big burgundy Voyager, and myself on the old Mongoose All Mountain Pro in chrome plate. Once again, we all had loads on that would render our bikes un-liftable. I have no idea what the weight we had on those rigs was, but I assure you, they were overloaded! The six man Eureka dome tent was split into sections that we all shared in carrying. We all had front and rear panniers, handle bar bags, and seat bags. I'm sure we looked pretty special out there!

The first goal was to get beyond Fort Dodge, Iowa to a campground just west of there. 100 miles a day average was the set goal for each day. We were all going to try to hold to that. The weather sounded great for the next few days, and with much expectation, we were all pumped for this trip.

 Yes, this was a much anticipated ride for me. A couple more notes to keep in mind here before this story takes off on down the road next week........

My handle bar bag was festooned with a string of "temple bells", a silver necklace, actually, which I found at a local trendy clothing shop. In fact, Troy, Ryan, and I all went to this place to get a "hacky-sack", which is another story in itself. But anyway, the bells on that silver necklace drove the guys nuts as it jingle-jangled whenever I hit a crack in the road. I figured it would be a good distraction from the monotony of pedaling. I've still got those things and the handle bar bag! I'll have to post an image of that as well.

I replaced the Avocet Touring saddle from the last tour with a rare Pirelli saddle which had rubber donuts separating the rails from their mounts under the saddle. It was very similar to an automobile's motor mounts and it worked very well.

Next Week- Onward Through The Fog!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Minus Ten Review -34

Fork swapping continued. Here is a 420mm axle to crown fork on the Blackbuck
Ten years ago here on the blog I was talking about many things that have come to pass or have been proven to be flashes in the pan. One thing I'll share today is an example to us now that history is repeating itself.

The stage racing, ultra-distance unpaved bicycle thing was really just taking off ten years ago. While there had always been events of this ilk, the social media/internet factor wasn't present and in 2008, lots of folks were looking for something other than a criterium or mountain bike race to test their mettle. (Okay, triathlon was a part of this, but that's more than just cycling) I predicted that bicycle companies would begin to cater to this trend, and of course, you know now that has happened. I was "in the know" about what Salsa Cycles was up to, but I saw that and knew it would not stop with them.

Another thing I always was sure would happen was that 29"er wheels would supplant the then dominant standard of 26 inch wheels. 27.5"ers eventually sealed the deal on 26"ers, but it was going to happen anyway. So, I was excited for the 2008 Interbike, which I felt would help propel 29"ers into the mainstream, and you know what happened after that.

Interestingly, this was also about when Interbike, and trade shows in general, took a step backward from prominence and slowly faded into obscurity within the next five years. 2007-2008 was about when the pendulum swung back, in my estimation. Those first Interbike shows I went to for "Twenty Nine Inches" were really quite crazy busy. Not so much in the years afterward.

The Blackbuck here with a rare Willits WOW fork. I traded the fork years later for fat bike rims.
Finally, I reported on a trend ten years ago which the bicycling industry was hot on which doesn't hardly move the needle now. It is a great example of what is going on right now with e-bikes. Here's what I wrote ten years ago concerning the hot trend of "urban bikes":

"With the "trade show season" upon us, there is always speculation that something really big is going to be shown that will blow us all away. You know, "The Next Big Thing". Who knows what that will be, or even if it will be.

Last year it was "urban bikes", this year it could be that again. Commuter/urban/fixie/utility rigs that people think are going to "save the planet".

And that trend died right after this. Where do you even see fixies being sold in the numbers they once were? Another great example is the QBP brand "All City". An urban, hipster moniker if there ever was one for a bike company. Well, they hit the scene ten years ago with a suite of fixie parts and then they came out with some crazy urban rigs. Good stuff, but the trend was dying. All City pretty much has abandoned their fixie roots for all-road and classic style cycling trends. 

All this to point out that there are many e-bike players and only so many customers. There will be a tipping point with e-bikes where the folks that have them won't be in the market anymore and over-production will rear its ugly head. Then......the inevitable. The cycling world will then be on the lookout for whatever "The Next Big Thing" is. You know,  instead of promoting a certain type of bicycle, the industry needs to promote a reason for riding, places to do that which are safe, and the rest will follow. Make it fun, authentic, and safe. Not centered around a type of bicycle.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Friday News And Views

The Path Less Pedaled Interviews Guitar Ted:

There is another podcast out right now that features myself yakking about the gravel scene and a bit about Trans Iowa. It was an interview conducted by Russ from "The Path Less Pedaled" and if you'd like to hear the almost one hour gab session, click here.

A couple of notes here- First off, this was recorded before Trans Iowa v14. So......I couldn't let on that T.I.v14 was the last, or the cat would have been outta the bag too early. But you may wonder about that because the podcast didn't get released until earlier this week. Well.......

I was supposed to have been video interviewed, but the connection wasn't working for video, so we just recorded the audio track and Russ said he'd make it work out. He wanted an image from me of myself, but Trans Iowa was up next, and then the DK200, and then...... I forgot all about that. I didn't know when Russ planned on releasing the audio, so I kept the news about T.I. mum during the recording.

 So, Russ grabbed some video shot during the beginning of the DKXL event at the Dirty Kanza 200 weekend. (I wrote about that moment here on the blog) and pasted that in front of the interview as a lead in. That's something I didn't know he was going to do, so I was a bit surprised by that, and the point of views he used I never had seen before. At any rate, I had no idea even if this podcast would ever get released, much less when, so the deal was a big surprise this week when I came across the mention on Twitter. Check it out if you'd like.......

The new Cannondale Topstone gravel bike
Cannondale Debuts New Gravel Rig:

Maybe you saw my post on this bike for But in case you haven't, Cannondale is now making a 700c based gravel rig. The Slate, the front suspended, 650B rig, continues in the line up as well, but this new rig ticks a lot of "standard" boxes when it comes to current gravel rigs. 42mm tire clearances, (probably a slightly bigger tire will work as well), dropper post compatibility, three bottle bosses with the down tube one being a triple, "Three Pack" type set of braze ons, rack and fender mounts, and through axles front and rear. All carbon fork on all three models. All the basics here. By the way, it has been said it will accept a 650B x 47mm tire as well. They just won't be offered in 650B.

While all that is well and fine, and the bike is aimed at the entry to mid-level buyer, what I was very impressed by was the geometry. Cannondale pushed a few models into their gravel category that were really cyclo-cross bikes and the geometry showed it. Now the Topstone will have, what in my opinion is, an aggressively slack head angle mated with an aggressively low bottom bracket. 71° and 75mm respectively. I like those numbers a lot, and in fact, that was my preferred set of numbers for the Tamland, but in 2012 I thought that telling Raleigh to do that was too radical. 

The Topstone will come in three model specs and the top is shown here in SRAM Apex 1. The other two are Shimano 105 and Sora, both with double ring chainsets. I dig that blue color, but I do not dig that drive train! The 105 is a glossy, conservative grey and the Sora is forest green, or close to that with a starting price of 1G. The others go up from there. $1650.00 and 2G actually. The bikes are available now.....
Topstone Sora

Topstone 105

The Bubblegum Princess Update:

I didn't really give a review of the pink MCD Black Mountain Cycles rig after Gravel Worlds, but I will say a few words now since I have a space to here.

First off, I am not changing a thing. I may as well saw off the steer tube now where I have the stem set and call it finished since I have zero complaints about the way I fit the bike. All the careful measuring I took off my other bikes paid off with a perfect fit the first time. Trust me, I am pretty surprised I nailed it!

The big tires are the way to go for me. The Riddlers are good. I think Resolutes would be even better. I need to try them on here sometime. But other than that, the bike is perfect. Thanks to Ben Witt and Whiskey Parts for the incredible No. 9 24 Drop Bar and the super-smooth No. 7 Seatpost. The ride of this bike is totally calm and smooth mainly due to these two components. Also, my bum left shoulder has never been happier! Well, since it's been a "bum shoulder", that is.  So, I am tickled pink, (sorry!), about these parts on this bike.

During the Gravel Worlds event I had really awesome stability due to the geometry of the bike and the tire/rim combination. The looser sand and pea gravel down there never threw me for a loop and I could even dart across the center line of the road at high down hill speeds without fear of washing out or fishtailing. The wasboard, which was all over the course, was sucked up big time by the bar, post, and my Redshift Shock Stop stem. The whole package really made it so my body wasn't beat up at all over the course of the 24hrs of Cumming or Gravel Worlds.

Finally, a word about the fork. It is really smooth. I was afraid that since the disc brake change was coming that the new fork wasn't going to feel like the old cantilever brake Monster Cross fork does. But I have no worries about that after having done two different kinds of gravel in two different states. That fork works very well, and you can see it working. Just like you can with the cantilever based fork.

In my humble opinion, both Monster Cross variants are home runs for gravel or all-road riding. Mike Varley has done it again, and now I have another bike I'll never be letting go of. I look forward to a lot of adventures on my new Bubblegum Princess and continued adventures on the Orange Crush.

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend and get out and ride!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Looking Ahead

Well, that wraps up any planned events for me for the rest of the year. That doesn't necessarily mean I won't be lining up somewhere though. I could be convinced and if the timing was right, well, who knows?

But as far as the year is concerned, I had no plans the rest of 2018, and for good reasons. First off, my son is in football and I want to attend as many games as I can. Those games may be on or close to weekends now, so going someplace for an event gets hard to do, since they usually happen on weekends.

I was asked a few times about another Geezer Ride. I didn't get to pull off the Spring Geezer Ride due to poor weather. The Fall one was supposed to be up around Cresco, but due to extenuating circumstances, that has been put on hold until next year. And to be quite honest, besides doing the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, not doing any event planning has been really nice this Summer.

So.......just what will I be up to? Hard to say. I want to go ride a few places I've had on my mind of late. Southern Minnesota somewhere, up around Strawberry Point/Volga, Iowa, and I wouldn't mind doing some more riding around South of Des Moines again. But be that as it may, I have a few cycling goals to try to squeeze in before Winter sets in. Here they are in no particular order....
  • Single Speed Century- I planned this last year and never got around to it. I have a route already laid out. 
  • More Consistent Riding- Not that I need to get into shape or anything, but consistent, longer rides are in the cards now. I'd like to put in several, (see bucket list of places above), and have them be at regular intervals. Weather dependent, so may not happen.
  • Start Work On T.I. Masters Route Additions- I have a plan to add to the Northern Tier route with a Central and Southern option. I would like to get this into the initial planning phases yet this year. 
Other than those I just need to do some thinning of the herd, some shop clean up, and then do business. Then it'll be on to 2019 and a new set of goals.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Gravel Worlds '18: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly- Part 3

It was a good day for a bicycle ride
As I crawled back into the finish area for the Gravel Worlds I was careful to make an approach that would not alert anyone that I may be a finisher. That wouldn't be cool at all. So, I came around the back side of the finish line area where riders who had just finished the 150 mile event were decompressing and spraying off their bicycles at a cleaning station. I sat myself down on the curb and texted the DNF number that I was out and okay at the finish line. I then heard a fracas. A disagreement, and foul words were being bandied at one rider, then another.

It seemed that there was some disagreement between a few riders concerning how things played out at the end of Gravel Worlds for the Men's overall. I won't name names, but there was a lot of ugliness going on. I found it extremely unprofessional, inhuman, and downright not what gravel racing was. Unfortunately, it has become this way with the fast guys and gals.

We saw it play out at the DK200 this year with the Women's overall winner, and now this ugliness. You know, in that moment it occurred to me that one of the Gravel Worlds number one rules was "Don't Be Lame". I'm all for that. It is a great rule........unless you do not enforce it. Yeah, no one else from the event was around, but maybe a few riders. I get that the organizers cannot be everywhere. So, no big deal? Uh......yeah. This is a very big deal.

This is what will ruin gravel events. Pissing matches have no place in this. Foul language and posturing is junior high stuff. These were grown men. One had the grey hair of an elder. There is no place for this bull shit in gravel events. I saw a LOT of lame right there to go around. Then there was all the litter on the course, and I saw only the back half.

I got to hang out with good guy, Kevin Fox, and his family. Image courtesy of Kate Fox.
I heard from finishers that it was worse later into the day. You know, if you invite this sort of individual that litters on your courses, and you have zero way, or inclination to do anything about the litter bugs, then whatever derision you get from the locals is on you as an event promoter. Maybe there needs to be a "Clean Gravel Worlds" a week afterward, but in my opinion, its better to shut it down during the event. A couple of immediate DQ's goes a long ways in teaching a lesson to everyone. And if they never come back, big whoop.

In my mind, saying you are against things, having rules, and then not catching the perps is just sending a message that the rules are lame. Look, I like the Gravel Worlds guys a LOT. They have their hearts in the right places, but words mean things, and rules should mean things, otherwise, why bother?

Nuff said about the ugly part.

So, I had a LOT of time on my hands waiting for Tony. He was having a great day. I got a text from him when he was at Mile 112 and he sounded pretty positive. Meanwhile, I was invited to sit down and eat a meal with Kevin Fox and his family. He was knocked out by a broken derailleur. We had a nice lunch and conversation. Then his wife took our picture and posted on Facebook. Not ten minutes later, Rob, who is from Lincoln, saw it and called Kevin, asking if he could come out to Malcom and bail him out. He was having stomach issues. So, we piled into Kevin's truck and headed to Malcom.

Salsa sponsored rider, Matt Aker, gets interviewed after his Gravel Worlds finish.
We collected Rob and headed back to Schilling Bridge where the festivities were taking place after the event. We sat outside where I got to chat with several folks and the "gravel family" concept came up during this time.

There was a lady there who had ridden and said that she came across a man near a cemetery who was in a bad way. She stopped to see how he was and offered assistance. Then she brought up other great examples of how gravel riders take care of one another. She expressed that she was very attracted to the gravel scene because of things like this, and the camaraderie afterward.

I allowed that her actions out on course were right in line with her observations, and therefore she "got it" when it came to why we were all attracted to this scene. We treat each other decently, we take care of each other out there over and above "racing". least it used to be all of us doing this. 

I'll give you a brief retelling of something that happened at the last Good Life Gravel Adventure, which was the precursor to Gravel Worlds.....

There was a back-of-the-packer single speed rider that year. Basically a non-factor in any way for a podium spot, or a top ten. This guy had trouble at about Mile 100 or so, called in his DNF to Corey Godfrey, who helps to organize Gravel Worlds to this day, and Corey gave the following message to that rider- "I'll get someone out to get you, just hang tight. It'll be a little bit."

Now, this rider knew the rule was "self-sufficiency", and wasn't expecting a bail-out ride, but accepted the offer. A while later a car rolled up and a thin man got out, offered a handshake and a smile, and said he was there to collect him. While on the ride back, it became known to that single speeder, the DNF, back of the packer, that his bail out ride was none other than the race winner.

And that single speeder was me.

The renamed Warbird of Matt Aker. Ya gotta love that!
Ask the winner of any of these "big" gravel events now days to lend a helping hand to fetch a rider, or do anything to help out? Ha! Not that this sort of thing is reasonable, but I tell that story because helping your fellow man was above and beyond winning, or whatever. It bespoke of what attracted me to the gravel scene, that someone like myself would be treated like an equal. That all riders treated each other with respect. It was how it was. Maybe those were "the good old days" and I should just shut up and go away.

But I won't and I don't plan on it.

Allison Tetrick, getting her pirate on, after winning the Women's overall.
Tony finally got in and before seven o'clock! He had a great ride and we hung out for a while longer, taking in the finish line festivities and regaling each other with our tales from the day. Finally it was time to load up the bikes and head back to the hotel for a good shower and a bed. We slept like logs that night, despite the clamor down on the street below.

Good bye, Lincoln and Gravel Worlds- until next year!
So, that's my tale. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of it all. Overall, I think Gravel Worlds is an outstanding event, but unless certain elements are kept in check, it is going to be imbalanced. It isn't going to continue that fine balance between what some races offer in feel and amenities and catering to the original philosophies which the event called Gravel Worlds was built up upon. I'll be back, if they will have me after this criticism, and I look forward to whatever it is I might experience at that event.

Personally I know I wasn't properly prepared for this. I had an awful Spring and Summer training time. Just not near enough miles, or quality rides were put in. That's on me, and I am completely at peace with my 80 miles at Gravel Worlds. My avearge speed was decent at 12.27mph, but that wasn't going to remain that high after CP#1!  I was thrilled to see the new portions of the course. I really liked that, even though it was tough riding. Of course, anytime you get to spend most of the day riding, it is a good day. I had a good day. Not what I expected, but a good day.

Thanks: To Corey, Schmitty, and the crew of the PCL who do all this work for us to come to Gravel Worlds- THANK YOU!! Thanks to all you awesome TRAIL ANGELS!! Thank you, as always, Tony, for the great companionship. Thanks to Matt Aker, MG, Kevin Fox, Ray Cunningham, MW, Rob Evans, Pell Duvall, Rafal Doloto, Karin Jones, Mike McColgan, and Scott Redd for your time at Gravel Worlds. To all of the "Gravel Family" that rode up and made a comment, said hello, stopped by at Cycle Works, saw me and said a kind word, you are all very much appreciated. Thanks to Cycle Works for hosting the pre-race again. Thanks to Schilling Bridge Cork and Tap House for hosting the event before and afterward. Thanks to the Graduate Hotel for the breakfasts and for the hospitality.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Gravel Worlds '18: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly- Part 2

Staging area for some of the riders at Gravel Worlds.
The morning was dark, humid, and cool. The day promised to be one where the temperatures wouldn't be too high, the winds would be light, and there was no chances for rain. In other words, perfect as far as one could expect for a mid-August ride in Nebraska. I've been there when it was too hot, too windy, and both on the same day. So, moral was high amongst the riders gathered at the Fallbrook Center where the start line was.

An odd thing for me happened when I got a call to answer nature, ahem! just before the start. By the looks of the length of the line in front of the three porta-potties they had, I wasn't alone in the feeling of the urge to purge. So, I got in line hoping I wouldn't miss the start. Bobby Thompson, of Gravel Guru fame, was just behind me in the line. We were nervously chatting and checking our watches constantly. Fortunately for the both of us, we cleared the line up with pretty much ten minutes to spare. Whew!

Then it was time for a final run down on things. Cue sheets ready? Yes! Lights ready? Yes! Turn on the GPS? Yes? The final countdown started, and then I said a few parting words with Tony and we were off. His blinky blended in with hundreds of others and I wouldn't see him again until much later in the afternoon.

The opening miles of Gravel Worlds are typically a scrum of faster and slower riders finding their place in line.
As we cleared the paved section and got up away from city lights, you could already see the distinct blush of the Sun arising and lots of fog hanging in lower lying areas. It looked to be another spectacular Sunrise at Gravel Worlds. It's one of my favorite parts of the riding there when you are in a long train of lights going up the road and the Sun is making its magic just under the horizon.

I should get up early to ride more often.
Soon things settled into a rhythm and I found myself trading places back and forth with single speeders and riders of similar strengths to mine. One of those folks was Pell Duval, who has been around the gravel scene for several years. He was riding a "dingle speed"- two cogs and two chain rings which you can run your chain on for different ratios. Parallel single speed, if you will. Anyway, Pell mentioned that he was on the "honor system" not to swap his chain over to his higher ratio, and that nobody was going to care about a back-of-the-packer anyway. Ha! He's a great guy and it was fun to share a bit of time on the road with him. Eventually his pace up hills was too great for me and he was gone up the road.

My usual view of the road after about ten miles in.
The riders around me eventually thinned out to the point that I was essentially alone. Oh sure.....I could see riders up ahead in the distance, but I wasn't anywhere near anyone. Occasionally some random rider, or a pair of riders, would whiz by me without a word. But I was okay. My game plan was not to go out too hard in order to get as much out of my legs as I could. I had a plan for water and eating as well. I tried to stick to it as best as I could.

The opening parts of Gravel Worlds 2018 took us Northeast of Lincoln into an area which I was unfamiliar with. The locals have always referred to this hillier, upland area as "The Bohemian Alps", which is a nod to not only the elevation, but to the area's pioneering settlers. There was a heavy Czech influx here back in the 19th Century, and some of the heritage of this area reflects this to this day. There is even a newer gravel event called the "Bohemian Sto-Mil" which celebrates this area and it's heritage.

Well, all this meant to me at the time was that we were going to go up, up, up! If you recall last year's posts on my Gravel Worlds, I was climbing "14ers", which was a tongue in cheek stab at the big climbs in the Rockies, but these were 1,400 footers. I thought that was big for the Mid-West, but we went into an area this year which took us a little higher. My GPS topped out at a little over 1600ft, so that was interesting and, of course, not easy with all the climbing up from Lincoln.

You learn to ignore these signs when doing any gravel grinding.
That group of folks there at that small building? They saved my day from being really short!
About 20 miles in I was starting to get the symptoms of a bonk. I was pretty discouraged by this. When I start to bonk, I get really sleepy. It was so bad I was having trouble seeing and I started swerving at times. Not good! Even despite downing a couple of gels previous to this, and then two more, I wasn't able to stave off the bad situation. Then I came upon Tojhy, Nebraska. (Say "two-ee") This unincorporated village is so tiny it doesn't retain its name for an address if you reside there. It is listed as part of Valparaiso, Nebraska in that way. There is a Catholic church there, Maybe a few residences, and Tuffy's Bar. It is what happened out in front of this closed bar which extended my day beyond what I thought possible at the time.

You see, Gravel Worlds, (and other gravel based events), which are "self-supported", don't mind if locals get into the game by offering free drinks and snacks. They call them "Trail Angels" at Gravel Worlds, and there was a Trail Angel or two at Tuffy's operating out of a pick-up truck. All I know is that a fine young lass with a foreign accent asked if I wanted a Coke, and I replied in the affirmative. That little 8oz can of sugary, caffeinated goodness zapped me back into the land of the living! I had a half a banana as well and then I set off for the higher heights of the 2018 Gravel Worlds course.

Some fine looking ponies and evidence of the "pea-gravel" like conditions.
 Now you probably don't have a very high opinion of Nebraska if all you've ever done is fly over it or driven I-80. But let me assure you, there's some darn fine scenery out there! And of course, hills! Yes, Martha, Nebraska is anything but flat, despite what you hear the naysayers commenting on. I saw some pretty cool stuff on the newer sections of Gravel Worlds this year, and I was having a good time doing it. The roads maybe were a bit sketchy at times, what with the softer "pea gravel" like conditions out on certain roads, but over all, it wasn't nearly as tough, or rough, as Iowa gravel which I am very used to. They do have washboard, like everywhere, but other than that, no big deal.

Loma, Nebraska. This was about as high as we climbed at just over 1600 ft.
I was feeling pretty good. I started back on the gel routine, drank up some water, and cruised. The Sun was out now, of course, and it was getting hotter, but I never really got overheated this year. That was never an issue.

I passed through Loma, and it was darn near a ghost town with its weathered, moldering buildings and dearth of activity. The local bar looked to be the bright spot in the community.

This part rode along a higher ridge and the scenery was spectacular. It was as high an elevation as we'd see for the course, so I was hopeful for a "downward trend" toward the checkpoint, which I had mistakenly drilled into my head as being Malcom. I rolled onward and turned on to Rd. 25, and that stretch had roller after roller in an unrelenting succession. They were steep too. This started me back towards the sleepy feelings, but just as I was despairing of another fight with that malady, I came across another Trail Angel, and wouldn't you know it? Another Coca-Cola. I diluted this one into a partially filled water bottle and soldiered onward.

Now the course went more down than up. I finally had a couple of directional changes, and then I came into a town. I was a bit taken aback by that, until I recognized the place, that is. I was in Valparaiso. The convenience store there is well known to me, and I cruised on up where the Boy Scout troop had a table set up with snacks and water. A young lass came out and asked what I needed and wouldn't leave me alone until I got something from her. She couldn't have been much more than 5, maybe six. I think she has a future in sales.

Onward to CP#1
I rested a bit here, used the restroom, got some gummy treats, a banana, and a young women cyclist gave me a handful of Pringles. That hit the spot! Thank you, whoever you are, for that! Next up, familiar territory as I headed out from "Valpo", as they call it, and onward toward Checkpoint #1. This section is also pretty hilly. You start out with a long grind up out of the town and then you get into some good hills.

It was approximately 16 miles to the checkpoint and when I realized it was Otto Pond, a farm out in the countryside, and not Malcom, I got a bit dismayed. But what really started to annoy me was that my legs were hurting and the power was slipping away. I ended up in "survival mode" before I reached Otto Pond, and I knew I had a tough decision to make when I reached that place.

They have a big machine shed there which you can get out of the Sun in and I availed myself of another banana and a hot dog while I was there. Matt Wills and his single speed crew, who I had been trading places with all day long, came in right behind me. They were stronger riders than I by far, but their pace was dictated by the "safety breaks" they were wont to take on occasion, and that let me catch up and pass them several times. I loved seeing "MW" out there as he is a very positive influence for my psyche and he made a big difference in my attitude Saturday as well as other times I've ridden with him.

Anyway, I asked MW if he had any recommendations for a route to bail out back to Lincoln. I doubted my legs would hold out much longer and he made a suggestion that I could simply follow the course to a point just North of Lincoln, turn South, and I would be back. It would be about 22 miles or so. I took that under advisement, and I figured that if I could somehow rally in the next few miles out of CP#1, I might continue on to Malcom. It would be an easy 15 miles or so back to Lincoln from there if I needed to bail. I decided to top off the water, just in case, and I left slowly from the checkpoint.

Barns For Jason- Gravel Worlds edition
Unfortunately, only nine more miles in I was toast. My legs were completely shot. I was very awake, not bonking, very hydrated, it was just that my legs were done. The not recovering from all the other miles in the last three weeks was taking its toll. I stopped alongside a corner in some shade and just sat there contemplating my bail out point and a ride back to Lincoln in shame.

It's never fun to not meet your goals and have your body dictate to you when you are finished. It also isn't fun to answer the questions afterward, but it is what it is. I took care of myself, and I will be fine. Going more miles until I was incapable of riding back to Lincoln was not an option with me, and I had a rough go of it as it was.

But, after I peeled off the official course, I was actually riding okay. I hit some big rollers on Raymond Road, then I went South on 27th until I reached a corner near to the end of Alvo Road, which is the paved boulevard that takes you back to Fallbrook Center. I was near to being done, but I actually was so gassed I had to stop and rest two miles out because my legs were not going to hold out. I guess I made the call at the right time. Just about this time the leaders came by in a blur to finish Gravel Worlds. Amazing!

A bit more than 80 miles on the day. Not what I signed up for, but I'll take it.

Next: I've covered the good, the bad, and next I will touch upon the ugly part in Part 3 of my Gravel Worlds report.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Gravel Worlds '18: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly- Part 1

From the roof of the Graduate Motel's parking garage 
Gravel Worlds 2018 would be the fourth in a row for me, and the sixth time I've ridden in the PCL's event dating back to when it was called The Good Life Gravel Adventure. The last few have been fun, and my friend Tony and I have been sharing in the drive and splitting costs on the room and travel, which has worked out fabulously well. So, going a fourth time in a row was a sure thing, and I am very glad that it works out so I can go.

If there is one thing I get out of any event, it is seeing all the people I get to see very few times a year. That has always been important to the gravel scene since the beginning, and it is a facet of these events that not many folks talk about in detail, but it matters more than the riding. If this people part did not matter, we'd all be doing something else rather than gathering to ride bicycles on gravel roads. These roads don't hold the scene together,'s the people you meet, and don't let anyone else tell you any different.

It isn't fancy finish lines, announcers, or trappings borrowed from road races. It isn't a "laid back atmosphere", because you can't have that without people. It isn't this nefarious thing called "grassroots gravel events", because however "privateer" and independent an event may be, without the people getting along, it doesn't matter. It's the damn people, I tell ya, and it isn't anything else. The folks I've met over the years are what makes this whole thing stick together like glue.

So, that is why I love going to Gravel Worlds. I get to rub elbows with so many folks I've met over the years and I get to see some new folks as well. The pre-event expo and social held at Cycle Works bicycle shop is an awesome time. My favorite part of the weekend, perhaps, and this year we got there early, by no planning on our part, which was a bonus to the weekend for me.

Those crazy Pirate Cycling League guys had these real swords made up for the overall Male and Woman winners.
I especially cherished this time this year because I no longer plan on doing any more Trans Iowa events, which was another great time to hook up with these folks. So, with one less chance for me to see people now, the Gravel Worlds thing becomes more important than ever. Of course, I could go to the Dirty Kanza, but that event is now so huge that it is basically a crap shoot to find anyone I know to reconnect with. The crowds essentially render the event almost ineffective at seeing folks I know from other gravel events. Well, that and the ever increasing entry fee and lottery for entry, which is another story altogether. So, while I was at the DK this year, I didn't have conversations at near the rate I did at Gravel Worlds. Somehow or another, the size, feel, and nature of Gravel Worlds just works out to bring the best, in my opinion, of experiences for me. Your mileage may vary.......

Well, anyway, we got our registration packets, saw a bunch of folks, had awesome conversations, and then Tony and I went to the Haymarket District for a burger and fries. College is just cranking back up again at the University of Nebraska, so there was no end of activity downtown. While that proved to be entertaining around the supper table, it was less desirable after we tried going to sleep at 9:00am with our motel window overlooking one of the busier streets for partying in the area. Noises persisted most of the evening and into the early morning hours. Tony and I did not sleep the best. But at 4:00am, we both jumped up, threw on some duds, and went to have breakfast which was arranged for the riders of Gravel Worlds who were staying there.

We were both excited to get to the venue where Gravel Worlds starts. I maybe a bit less so than Tony, only because I was very hesitant to believe I was in good enough shape for a 150, much less considering that my legs were still aching from my 24hrs of Cumming effort two weeks prior to this event. I was game to give it a go and to see what might happen. Tony was gunning for a faster finish, so I did not plan on riding with him much, if at all this day. So it was that we were at the start line for Gravel Worlds once again. That story will be picked up tomorrow......

Tomorrow- The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Part 2

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Touring Series: Pre-Tour Happenings

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, there were no cell phones, internet, social media platforms, or digital cameras. 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.

As the weeks wound down to our appointed time of departure, which was the week after RAGBRAI again, there were many quick developments in The Race Against Death Tour. First of all, we all got two weeks off work to give us more time. We were not going to be denied the planned finish this time around!

The other development of note was a bit more complicated.  There was a fellow by the name of Tim who was a coworker of mine. He was another mechanic at the shop. He wanted to go, but he wasn't sure about coming, or whether he could hang, and several other excuses that he created for not coming. Well, I went into "intense mode" again on Tim, much like I did with Ryan. Tim also didn't have a bike, and he was short of stature, so finding one for him wouldn't be easy.....or so I thought!

There was a good customer that just happened to say she was thinking of getting rid of her old Trek 650 touring rig. It had racks that were painted to match and it was all there ready to roll. It was as if it was meant to be. So Tim ended up with it. Here was a fourth traveler! I was stoked.

I developed a route that went through Tim's hometown, went to the Black Hills, and then south to Colorado over the Rocky Mountain National Park and down to Winter Park. I figured that with 100 mile average days we could get there and have two "mulligans" if we needed them for bad weather or rest.

I found campsites along most of the route so we wouldn't have to "beg" for a place to stay, like we did the year before, and I even found roads with low traffic counts to ride on. I thought I had it pretty well figured out, and Troy was pleased. He signed off on the plans and we were good to go.

Things were being prepped and readied. It would be just a few days to go now before we set off westward. About two days before the tour, Tim bailed out on the trip. He really didn't want to talk about it either. I never did find out why, but he did say at the time he might recant. I said whatever he wanted would be best, and hoped he would come. It was kind of a bummer to me, since I felt bad now about twisting his arm so hard to go and he with all this gear bought, and a bike I basically pushed him into buying. But that would all work out years later.......


So, this was a weird situation with regard to Tim. I never really quite understood what happened, but the bicycle which was procured for him, which fit perfectly, by the way, ended up being a bike he used for a bit regardless. Then as time went on, Tim decided to move to Chicago, and I heard that this bike was available. By this time I had married Mrs. Guitar Ted and that bike fit her to a "T". So, I ended up with it again! But that's not the end of this story.

Years went by and Mrs. Guitar Ted never did grow to like the bike. It languished in my basement until another co-worker thought it might fit his son. He purchased the bike from me, then found out immediately that it was too small! It then was sold to a local guy who cannot get a driver's license and he used it as a "daily driver" until recently when it was traded in again where I work for a new Salsa Marrakesh. So......I may have to grab an image of what is left of it for the Touring Series.

Next Week- "The Race Against Death Tour" begins!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Minus Ten Review -33

My old next door neighbor's chopper.
Ten years ago this week on the blog I reported on going to the Trek show in Madison, Wisconsin. This was back when Trek put on a typical "trade show" deal. They showed all of their latest wares and had a bit of a party atmosphere for the dealers that showed up. It was pretty cool to talk to the actual product managers, athletes, and luminaries like Gary Fisher.

Unfortunately that sort of thing is a bygone era now. "Trek World", as they call it now, is structured, educational seminars, where Trek gets to drill down their philosophy and business tactics. Oh sure, I bet they have a little fun too, but instead of this being free, you have to pay, and the atmosphere is completely businesslike. Not a good time for relationship building and brand building with lower tiered employees, such as myself. So, I haven't been to a Trek show in what? Almost ten years now. Trek relies on its outside rep for its only personal contact point now,otherwise it's all on their own web portal. Pretty soulless these days...........

I also made some pretty bold statements about where 29 inch wheels would be going. Although the burp in the timeline, which was the big push with 650B, interrupted what I thought was going to happen, the point is, it happened. That being long travel 29"ers which would dominate the trail market.

In 2008 people thought that was an absolutely crazy notion, but look at where we are at now. 29"er long travel bikes are everywhere. Sure, 650B is right there as well, but no one ever said that 650B wheels would never be a good fit for long travel full suspension bikes. They certainly said that about 29"ers though. Here is a bit of what I heard and posted back ten years ago regarding the possibility of long travel 29"ers: "No way, you will never see it. It doesn't make sense with big wheels. They are too flexy, there isn't a fork, there are no tires, the chain stays would be miles long. It is a ridiculous notion. Go back to your single speed wagon wheeler and be happy!" 

I wonder how that crow tastes in 2018? 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday News And Views

Gravel Worlds '18:

Tomorrow is Gravel Worlds and I will be lined up again for my fifth time at this event. (Sixth if you count the Good Life Gravel Adventure, which is what the event was named prior to GW's)

This year's course promises to be completely different and we're (my friend, Tony, and I ) looking forward to some different roads this time around. I am taking the BgP MCD Black Mountain Cycles rig, the same I used for the 24hrs of Cumming, and I feel pretty confident that rig will do me right. Myself on the other hand......

So, stay tuned for my typical multi-post debrief starting this coming Monday.

Morse Cage- a collaboration between King Cages and Wolf Tooth
From The "Why Didin't They Do This Before?" Files:

Wolf Tooth Components announced this week that they have done a collaboration with King Cages to bring us riders a water bottle cage that has several choices for mounting positions.

This is achieved by utilizing an alternating pattern of holes and slots. Wolf Tooth noticed that this resembled the "dot slash dot" pattern of Morse code, so they dubbed the cage the "Morse Cage".

It is available in titanium (shown here) or stainless steel. It's one of those simple ideas that makes you think, "Why aren't all water bottle cages like this?" It just makes so much sense to me. Added to that is that these are manufactured by King Cages, which in my humble opinion are the best water bottle cages anywhere, and this seems to me to be a no-brainer.

I think about those bikes that you'd like to carry a 24oz water bottle on the seat tube but your Tangle Bag doesn't allow it to clear, or maybe it's the top tube that prevents you from doing that. If you could mount that cage a bit lower..... Or maybe if you could scoot that cage down underneath the down tube toward the bottom bracket a hair more, it wouldn't interfere with the front tire. You can probably think of other scenarios where a cage like this might be a problem solver.

It's The End Of The Season And You Know It:

With apologies to REM

So, in my mind, Gravel Worlds marks the end of Summer. Yeah......I know. No one will probably agree with me on this, but right after Gravel Worlds the day light time takes a huge hit, which is really noticeable. The weather begins to cool down, if only a tic, and trees start to show signs of turning. The weeds die down, and bugs seem to be less of an issue. The woods open up, and it usually stays pretty dry during this time. That means it is prime season for mountain biking here.

Fall has always been the best time for off road here in Iowa since I've been off-roading, which.......well it's been a while, okay? I'm no spring chicken here!  But the point is, despite climate changes and all, Fall remains the best time to get your off road on with big, knobby tires. It's a well kept secret too. Many serious off road folks are done with the mtb season here by the end of August, and then, of course, it becomes cyclo cross season, so the mtb trails are generally bereft of folk. Too bad. They are missing the best riding of the year, most years.

It may be different where you live, and I get that, but around these parts, Fall is looked forward to. We were just talking at the shop about how we are ready to grab our wool stuff and breathe in some crsip, Fall air while buzzing some single track. This change of seasons thing is pretty awesome, if you ask me.

Well, that's all for this week. Have some fun on two wheels wherever you are!