Wednesday, October 31, 2018

WTB Ranger 29" X 2.4" Tires: Getting Rolling

The WTB Ranger 29" X 2.4" tire on the back of my On One Inbred
Note- I don't do 29"er reviews on Riding Gravel, so this is where this is going. Back in the day, this would have been a "Twenty Nine Inches" post. 

All righty then- With that out of the way, I will remind you that a few weeks ago I received a set of WTB Ranger 29" X 2.4" tires. The 2.4 inchers are a new width for this model. They existed in narrower 29"er sizes and in "plus" sizes before.

What It Is: The Ranger now sports a new "TriTech" rubber compound which, to simplify things, is essentially a triple compound rubber made with the softer durometer on the edges, the medium softness rubber on top with the harder, stiffer durometer rubber underneath as a supporting mechanism to help prevent knob flex. This helps produce better traction and less drag. The harder rubber actually goes half way into the knobs to really give them support.

The new Ranger also sports "Slash Guard". This is "a protective nylon insert spanning the entire sidewall to provide extra protection without the weight of a dual ply casing." (Quoted from the WTB website there) So, essentially you have a tire for all conditions and general purposes. That's pretty much what WTB says about this Ranger too. It is an "all arounder".

Weights, Widths, And Tubeless Set Up: The Ranger at 2.4" is not an unprecedented width and volume tire. Back in the old 29"er website days, I handled quite a few tires in this size. So, I can say with confidence that the Ranger at 2.4" is a heavy tire. My samples weighed 1030 grams each. In all my time at TNI, (Twenty Nine Inches), I don't think I reviewed but a couple of tires anywhere near that weight. They happened to be WTB dual ply 29"er tires too. Beefy, "All Mountain" types. So, for an "all arounder", this seems a bit much, in my opinion. But......if they are bomber, tough sons a guns, well then.......Maybe that'll be okay with some folks. Me? I think it's a bit too heavy.

The Inbred- Full Monty
Okay, so on to the tubeless set up. The wheels I used here are a unique set up. The front rim is the old Velocity P-35 (35mm outer) and the rear rim is a Velocity Blunt which is a 28mm external width rim. The Blunt, (original, Australian manufactured ones), can be set up tubeless easily with a Bontrager TLR rim strip, which is what I used. The P-35 was set up with standard tubeless tape. Both set up in the expected way with the Rangers. I had a bit of a leak down issue with the front but it eventually resolved. Nothing to do at all with the tire though. Otherwise, these hold air like a champ.

The measurements, as you might expect, are different, but not remarkably so, and not in the way you might think. . The rear measured out at 60.6 mm casing, 61.5mm at the widest point of the knobs. The front measured out at 59.5mm casing and 61.4mm at the widest point of the knobs. Yes, the casing on the narrower rim measured just a tic over 1mm wider. I think this is in part due to how the narrower rim makes the tire more of a "light bulb" shape, in profile than the P-35 does. But whatever the reason, those are the measurements I got. For you metrically challenged folks, that turns out to be about 2.4", or just what WTB claims.

Ride Impressions: With all this high tech, multi-durometer rubber and side shield protection, I wasn't sure what to expect when I rolled out the first time. I didn't feel anything remarkably odd, but I did note that the tire felt well damped and that it rolled smoothly. Actually, for all its tech, width, and knobs, the tire actually rolls better than I would have guessed. Early rides were relegated to my commuting route due to local flooding. I did eventually get out to some dirt though. Throughout this part of the test I used pressures in to 30's from high to low trying different settings. I once rolled these down into the 20's, but I didn't like the feel of the tires at that low a pressure on harder surfaces.

Okay, so WTB says this is an "all arounder", and so far, I have to agree with that. These don't roll too badly on pavement, hard dirt, grass, gravel, or single track. I actually got into mud a few times and the Ranger didn't fail me there either. I wouldn't call it the best mudder, but then again, when we are talking about an "all arounder", we are saying "Jack of all trades, Master of none", aren't we? Yes, we are. 

The bummer about these tires is the weight. You can feel it whenever things start tilting upward. Off road or on, that is something you just have to accept here. A lighter wheel set wouldn't hurt, but you cannot carve out any weight on these tires. They are what they are.

So Far....... Rangers are tough, specially trained military personnel who can handle a variety of roles. The WTB Ranger seems tough, specially built, and can handle a lot of different roles. Okay, so the name makes sense. I could see it as a bike packing tire, a rear tire on a trail rig, or a fat tire for single speed hooliganisms. I will be getting this out on some varied single track before you hear about them again here, so stay tuned.......

Note: WTB sent over the Ranger 2.4"ers at no charge for test/review. I was not bribed nor paid for this review and I strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Announcing The C.O.G. 100 Iowa Gravel Single Speed Championship

The "official logo" for the Creatures Of Gravel 100.
Okay, many of you might remember my "Single Speed Spit Ballin'" posts a few weeks ago. I proposed that there be a Single Speed Gravel Championship for gravel grinders. I bounced the idea off you, my dear readers, and you gave me some great feedback. So, here's the deal. This is going to happen. Here are some details for you to chew on now......

First off, the date and time: We're going to set this off on March 30th, 2019 and the start time will be 8:00am. The date was chosen since it fits into the Spring calendar around here, and probably won't affect anyone that is a dedicated single speeder. There probably will be an Iowa gravel crit that day, like usual, but I don't think those folks that do that event are going to be our target audience, for the most part. There may be gravel events in other states. Cool. This is about Iowa. That said, out of staters are certainly welcome to be a part of this.

The start time is set so we can have a cut-off time of 6:00pm for the event. The racers and folks with them will be encouraged to come to downtown and revel in the day's glories.

The Place: I had two venues in mind. Many of you commented one way or the other, but an offer that came through via e-mail has swung me over to having this event out of Grinnell, Iowa. This makes sense from a logistical point of view. Of course, I know the roads around there well, so a course will be easy to pick. But there is a lot more to it than that. The city is centrally located, accessible by interstate, (it's basically right off I-80), and they have plentiful motel and restaurant choices. Add in to that that the city knows me and wants us to come and do this, well....... The decision was easy.

The Rules: Single speed means single speed. No jimmied up geared rigs here. Sorry. It's easier on me to keep it to a simple SS drive train in terms of doing this event. Fixed is cool, of course, but there are no extras for you in riding fixed other than high fives and awe from your bike friends. Fat bike? Sure, as long as it is single speed. Again- no special class for this. There will be a simple Women's and Men's winner. No age groups. None of that non-sense here.

Self-supported, of course. "Trans Iowa" style rules in effect here. This will include cue sheet navigation and you won't get the cues until just before you start. Race number protocol will be in effect, just like I always had for TI.

Registration: This will open soon at a time yet to be announced. It will be on-line using Tikly, most likely. (No fees) There will be a fee to enter the event as this will have insurance. I typically never had insurance for a Trans Iowa. Anyway...... We're not going to charge for anything more other than to cover the insurance fees. That price will be announced later. No Day Of Event Registrations. Field limit? Maybe. We haven't gotten that far, honestly. Stay tuned......

Information: Most people do fancy pants "dot com" sites of Facebook for events. I won't do either of those. Nope. You're gonna get a blog page site. Future updates and info will be there. Stay tuned for the address.......

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Pedal For Karen Reynolds

It promised to be a great day
I work with a guy and he found out earlier this year his wife had been diagnosed with cancer. This past weekend he hosted a fundraising ride for her and I attended. The reasons for the ride sucked, and they didn't. I was happy that there was a common cause which brought us all together, but I am not happy about the reason for it. Ya know? 


The day was cool to start out with, but forecast rain earlier in the week for Saturday never came to fruition, and as a bonus, the wind was a mere breath. Well, if there was a wind at all. An amazing Fall day to ride. Just outstanding. Again, I was so glad there was a reason to get up early and get over to Cedar Falls to start the ride. When I reached the meeting place, it seemed that the turnout was light, but I guess people that ride bicycles are people who run late , or something, because by the time we actually got rolling there were a lot of folks there. A half an hour late, but we got rolling........

It took a while, but we finally got to gravel. Kathleen Porter takes in the scenery.
This would be one of your "mixed terrain" rides, I guess. There was a lot of pavement to start out with. But that was owed mostly to the chosen start area, which was picked to coordinate the start between the short bike trail ride, the long bike trail ride, and our gravel ride. Since the ride host deferred to the pavement riders, we had to hoof it several miles before we were out on gravel.

The pace was brisk, owing to the "roadies" in the group. Joey, a coworker of mine, being one of the instigators. We had to snake our way through down town Cedar Falls, go through a farmer's market, and negotiate busy Center Street before we got off on Lone Tree Road, and lighter traffic. Not until we were headed North on Ford Road did we finally get to gravel, and this was a good mile- maybe two- out of town. I thought maybe the pace would come down once we hit gravel, but not on this day! The gravel was about as smooth and perfect as you could ever hope with a good, solid base. Better than pavement!

I was riding up front trying to keep the pace at a manageable level for myself. Let the others drift back and start yakking with each other! I may not be a roadie, but I do know a couple of their tricks. This worked, until Joey decided to draft off a passing car. Dang it! Keith, the ride host, took off after him, and I was hoping I wouldn't be left behind at this point, but no one else gave chase, so I kept to my cadence and watched to see how far up the road they were going to pursue this mad game.

Kathleen looking to see where the rest of us were at.
Fortunately, Keith and Joey sat up and eventually drifted back to us. Then we finished out the Ford Road section which dumps riders out on County C-57. We were obliged to take about three more miles of pavement before we got to turn South and, finally, back on gravel.

This section was hilly as we had to cross the Cedar River just downstream from its confluence with the Shell Rock River. It was paved too, so I had to work a bit harder seeing as I was running the 650B Sendero tires, which are essentially mini-mountain bike tires. They definitely made me work more. Anyway, more about the tires some other time.

Getting back to the gravel was a good thing, but it was so fine, fast, and packed in it may as well have been pavement too. A complete opposite of my ride the previous Wednesday. I ran into so much fresh gravel that day I was glad to have the advantage of the wider tires. However; I wasn't gaining anything on the other riders since everyone was crushing the road because it was super smooth. I stayed up front and just worked as hard as I needed to. Having not really ever gotten my feet back under me since Gravel Worlds, I was not riding as easily as those who were with me who were in better shape than I. But at least I was able to keep up pretty well.

We did have to stop a few times to gather up those riders getting strung off the back. So there were regular breaks. But we were never going slow up front, really. It wasn't my ride so I didn't feel it was up to me to say one way or the other, but I thought we could have slowed it down some just in an effort to keep the group together more. I can't imagine how it would have gone had it been windy. That would have been quite a mess! Thankfully, it wasn't windy until toward the very end, and then it was only enough to make the flags flutter.
A stop to gather up riders at the end of our run on Mark Road.
The group crushing gravel on Butler Road.
Joe, my co-worker, and I were chatting and we were wondering why we hadn't seen any harvesters out. We were seeing plenty of standing corn and we knew farmers were anxious to get crops out. Well, as we made our way South more we started seeing them. Then we started seeing the big semi-tractor trailers they use to haul the grain away too. Then traffic got busy in an area where a lot of corn harvesting was going on. It was a bit touch and go, but we all made it through the dust!

Lots of corn in these fields yet!
Zion Lutheran Church in the distance.
We went by a farm that had a bunch of Halloween decorations out front and Keith decided he needed to get an image of what was there. After this I didn't see Keith again, except when we stopped to gather up riders just after passing Zion Lutheran Church. Then I didn't see him again at all until much later on. The route we took went East at one point where T.I.v12 had come out of Hudson, Iowa. I knew the area well enough that myself and about four others were motoring along, waiting to get into Hudson.

Once in town we waited for stragglers, but I only saw two riders across the highway, then they disappeared! We waited a loooong time, but finally one of our group needed to hit the restroom, so we moved on to the local Casey's, wondering what happened to the rest, and wondering what our next move would be.

While we were waiting, Keith texted me and said they had hit the pavement since one of the riders with him had enough of gravel for the day. We took off down the bike trail and as we approached the turn off for the trail that headed off to Cedar Falls, I could see cyclists standing. It turned out that it was not only the rest of our gravel group, but part of one of the paved trail groups.

Just as we rolled up, Kathleen pinch flatted and so we stayed there as she and another rider got that fixed. Then it came time for everyone to get going again, and I took my leave since I had to get home, eat, get cleaned up, and ferry my daughter over to her job. I ended up logging 45 miles. It was a great ride and I had a good time.

It seemed like most folks had a good time as well, so all in all it was a top notch day for late October when you just never know how nice a day you'll actually get. Thanks for the opportunity to ride, Keith!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Touring Series: Highway To Hell

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.

The "Touring Series" will appear every Sunday until it ends. Look for past entries by scrolling back to a previous Sunday's post, or type in "Touring Series" in the search box to find more. 
 We rejoin the touring trio as they head out of Nebraska and into their next state- South Dakota- on Day four from the start........

We went straight north into Spencer, and the after passing through that town we went directly west again for a spell. South Dakota was nearing, it was within reach. I think we all got a bit of a boost from that thought as the pace began to pick up a bit now. It was late afternoon, and we were rolling together at a really good rate.

Now the highway turned due north again, and we were going through a little town called Butte when just by an old closed up lumberyard, a dog came out and gave chase. It was mean and meant business. Ryan whipped out his pump, and Troy was yelling. I did what I normally do when dogs come out after me. I barked back! Well......that and I rode faster! We were a bit scared and shook up by that, but we were okay. We stopped up the road to regroup, then we forged ahead to the border.

Five more miles and we made it. We didn't stop though, and we didn't really mark the occasion. We forged ahead another mile to the meeting of Highways 12 and U.S.18. There was nothing special about this intersection. It was in the middle of nowhere really. But we needed to figure out a plan for crashing for the night. The maps came out, and our noses went into them! As we were pouring over our options, we saw a few motor bikers stop and don silly plastic helmets. It seemed that it was a way to skirt the helmet law and not wear a "real" helmet. I thought it was weird, but whatever. We were not wearing helmets, and I suppose the bikers were jealous of that, judging by the looks we got.

Troy had a plan. He wanted to see just how far we could push it. We were already at nearly a hundred miles of riding for the day, not including Jo's ride. Bonesteel looked appealing to me, but Troy thought it wasn't far enough out. He was thinking we could swing Burke if we tried real hard. That was about 20 more miles in, and the sun was westering fast. I was rather dubious of the plan, but once again, Ryan was game, so I fell in.

As we went by Bonesteel, I wistfully looked, wishing we would pull over, but Troy was up front and was hammering out an incessant pace, so I knew we were in for more miles before this day would end. The little spot in the road of St. Charles passed by, and then Herrick, just off the road to the south. Still we went on. I noticed lots of dump truck traffic and heavy equipment. I would soon find out why.

We hadn't passed Herrick by when we saw the construction signs. Road Closed. We rolled up where a construction worker told us that if we stayed to the right, we'd be okay. At first, it was. Then the hammers that bust up old pavement had crushed the surface of the road to bits, which made riding slow and difficult. Then we were obliged to walk around the very machine doing the crushing. It was loud and we were not wanted there, that was plain. We quickly moved around the machine, and the deafening din. We got on the left side of the road for a bit, and rode onward.

I still have the receipt from the campground in Burke.
Soon we had to jump back over. We saw the blacktop paving machine was busy laying down new blacktop. Dump trucks with full loads of the hot, sticky substance then came roaring by to meet us on their way to refill the paver. As each one went by, a hot shower of mini-meteorites came down upon us. Hot black top stings when it hits you, and sticks to frames and bags alike. This went on all the rest of the way into Burke. A fine welcome to South Dakota! I thought I was in Hell.

Once off the road, we quickly found a shelter in a park that allowed camping. There were showers- that was a welcome site! We each got cleaned up in succession so the bikes wouldn't be left alone. Then we were trying to figure out where to set up the tent. We had it erected under the shelter when Troy said, "Let's just leave it under here!" We all agreed to that, and started making dinner while the sun sank in the west.

Just about the time I got back from cleaning up, a local police officer pulled up. It was the Chief of Police of The City of Burke, South Dakota, no less. He tried sticking us with a $15.00 fee for camping. I politely explained that we were all in one tent, and that the sign, not more than three feet away, indicated that it was $5.00 per tent. Reluctantly, he agreed to the $5.00. I handed it to him, and he slipped it into his shirt pocket. As The Chief pulled away in his squad car, I told the other two, "Well, we just bought his beer for the night!" Troy and Ryan laughed, we crawled into our sleeping bags, and fell asleep without further adieu.

This was a tough stretch for me mentally. I was really ready to stop at Bonesteel and when Troy didn't even break his pace as we zoomed by my heart sank. It was stretching me and pushing my boundaries to keep pace both physically and mentally, but in the end, I was determined to make it to wherever we were going that night.

The black top being sprayed on us was probably the spur I needed to the loins to get to Burke. I was so pissed off! That stuff was the worst, and the hell of it all lasted after we stopped because it was stuck all over our gear and we had to meticulously pick it off piece by piece to clear it away. Everytime I see black top loaded in a dump truck I remember this day in the saddle.

In fact, the experiences of rolling into Burke, the dealing with the cop, and just being glad the day was over pretty much wiped out any remembrances of how awesome the entire day really was. We bagged 119 miles without adding in Jo's ride which propelled us much further along than I had anticipated after my debacle back in Iowa where I had heat exhaustion. We were now back on track, or so we figured, to make the tour work out.

Which reminds me, after this day I got my front panniers back from Ryan and Troy. Maybe they figured that we were on schedule again and that I was riding strongly enough that they no longer had to worry about me anymore.

Next: Day Five- Into The Wild West

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Minus Ten Review - 43

Trans Iowa v5 recon was going on this time ten years ago.
Ten years ago on the blog I was reporting on Trans Iowa v5 recon. This was a recurring subject over that week, The other thing was news about the next Big Wheeled Ballyhoo and some other various tidbits.

But Trans Iowa recon was the biggest thing going on then. This was when I figured out that September and October were the best months to get this squared away. November had too little Sunlight, and iffy weather, plus Thanksgiving took up one weekend right off the bat as far as scheduling a time to go.

I also got the idea that with a bunch, or all of, the recon done in the Fall I had a lot of stress relief going into Spring. This may seem weird, just figuring this out at the v5 edition, but keep in mind that the first two were cross state affairs and this was really only the third Trans Iowa in the loop format, plus it was in a new area. We were working out of Williamsburg, so being a good 200 miles South of where we were for v3 and v4 actually made the weather less of a factor concerning recon.

So, this brings me to an idea I was thinking about recently. After the last Trans Iowa, I was asked about doing a book. Stories about Trans Iowa. Well, I think it is a great idea, and I am going to write it as I go here on the blog to begin with as an idea I have for a series. This will run after I finish up with "The Touring Series", which should be sometime around the end of the year.

The new series will be based on imagery and words. Well, that may seem obvious, but what I mean here is that I am going to take images I feel represent important moments in Trans Iowa's history, or interesting moments, at least, and write a post supporting that image. When the series concludes I think I may try to gather up all the series posts and get a book printed.

Just an idea for now. Let me know what ya think.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday News And Views

Velocity does all these rad ano colors plus a very industrial looking "Mill" finish
A Shout Out To Velocity USA:

I've built bicycle wheels since 1994. Right from the get-go I have laced up Velocity rims. They have always been a great rim to work with, albeit a tad on the "soft" side as alloys go. But that isn't all bad. Just different.

Well, Velocity now does a rim brake model called the Quill which I got to handle recently. A friend of mine wanted a 700c set in silver laced up to go on a Rivendell Atlantis. I have to say that they were some of the best rims to build with I've ever used. In fact, most recent Velocity rims I have built with have been really stellar to build up.

The really cool thing about Velocity USA is that, as their company name suggests, they manufacture their rims right here in the USA. They even do their own anodizing, which allows them to do a rainbow of colors in many of their rims. The newest deal they have on offer now is the Quill rim brake rim in the 650B size. That's a great rim, and as I said above, I just built up a set in 700c which went together almost too easily!

 Anyway, a shout out to Velocity USA for making great product here in the States. I highly recommend their stuff.

The Trust fork, a linkage style affair, is VERY different.
Linkage Style Fork Freaks People Out, Blows Them Away With High Price:

Their have been different ways to absorb trail/road inputs to the front end of a two wheeled vehicle than your typical telescopic design since forever. Motorcycle design really was rife with various oddball forks for years. Just research vintage "Indian Motorcycles" sometime and you'll see all sorts of weirdness involving leaf springs, linkages, and odd hydraulic dampers.

So when bicycle designers went off road and were looking for a way to better manage bumps, these ideas were plumbed to see what might be best to get on a bicycle. There were air bags, elastomers, upside down telescopic forks, linkage forks, and leaf spring forks made for mtb's all during the 1990's. I own, not one, but TWO- AMP linkage forks which I rode in the 90's, so I am familiar with how they work. I also have a bit of experience with Girvin Vector linkage forks and Lawhill Leader forks.

So, why linkage? Well, they have the ability to be designed in such a way that they resist brake dive and remain constant in their trail figure throughout their travel. This is revelatory when you ride a linkage fork. So, why don't we ride linkage forks if they are so superior? 

Actually, that's an easy question to answer. It is because the focus of early linkage fork design was primarily on light weight and anti-brake dive. The attributes of durability and overall suspension performance were secondary to these goals. Therefore, linkage designs suffered from constant bushing and damper issues. Plus, they looked weird. They were hard to market to an audience that was equating off road abilities with motorcycle technologies. And as you probably know, there aren't very many linkage forks in moto cross.

So, basically the linkage fork has been a design without proper treatment, (German Answer aside), since forever. Dave Weagle, the suspension designer behind Split Pivot, DW Link, and others, has now applied his know-how to front suspension. The result is the Trust. A 130mm travel linkage design unlike the predecessors in that ALL aspects of design were addressed. Of course, it comes at a cost with such a high tech-low production model fork. You'd better sit down for this- $2700.00 clams. Ouch! 

Maybe in the future the prices can be brought down, but regardless, this is actually an innovation in tech which I find very interesting. Imagine this in a shorter travel configuration for gravel. You might say, "But we already have Lauf." I hear you, but the Lauf is undamped, has issues with independent leg movement, and is not tunable. This would solve all those issues and be just as light. Time will tell.... And yes- it is butt ugly. 

Start line- 2015 Dirty Kanza 200. Before "The Take Over".
 Debate About How Corporate Ownership Of Events Affects Participants Experiences Rages On:

The Life Time Fitness purchase of the Dirty Kanza events has prompted a lot of debate and speculation both here on the blog and elsewhere. A recent "Outside Magazine" article explores this topic which you can read here.

Author Aaron Gulley asked several event promoters and the staff of the DK200 about this subject. One of those referenced in this post by Mr. Gulley is me. I find this subject intriguing and I have wrestled with it for many years.

While the format of "Friday News And Views" is not sufficient for me to get all my thoughts down about this, I am going to make a few comments today here. Some of what I say sharp eyed readers of this blog will have read before. Some of these thoughts may be new.

First and foremost, while there is a big effort from the DK Promotions team to make this about "the future existence of the Dirty Kanza", make no mistake- They didn't need Lifetime Fitness to make that happen. The DK Promotions team has already led by example here and shown that they can make this work year after year. The idea put forth is that Lifetime guarantees the future in terms of quality of experience, but in reality, a good team, recruited and trained also could have done this within the existing DK Promotions structure.

The Lifetime Fitness deal does another important thing, which I alluded to previously and which is also pointed at in this linked article- that being that there is an equity take away for people retiring from the event production company. Jim Cummins is quoted as he speaks in the third person here as saying, " I just turned 60, and one of these years, Jim Cummins is going to decide that he wants to just go out and ride his bike....." Of course, he follows it up with the "guaranteed future" idea right afterward, but the point being is that his, (and I would assume future employees/directors) exit from the company will be one which is rewarded in some fashion. Otherwise, why bother? They could "insure the future" of the DK 200 without going the corporate route. But then again, maybe they didn't want to do it that way. 

But beyond that, the point about riders feeling like the DK200 has been "killed" by the sale of the event is only really a thing because we seem to feel that if an event experience we have is monetized, it cheapens our previous experiences and "takes away" from the event. Marketing can also be thrown in here. You start marketing the event to sponsors, corporate entities, and city businesses and it seems that this is a signal that filthy lucre is infiltrating the "purity" of  the event experience. 

This seems like a disconnect when riders applaud infrastructure and details like timing and scoring, finish line hoopla, and stuff like that. I mean, as I stated in the "Outside" article, this kind of detail costs a LOT of money. You are not going to get that for free. I think riders "get" that, but they still bitch about events "getting too corporate". Thus my take that it is a disconnect. It is an irrational, emotional issue that is very complex.

But I've gone on too much on this already. I'll have more to say later...

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Six String Side: 2011 Fender Telecaster Limited Edition

This is a new one to me. Really new......
When I started this blog over ten years ago, I stated that it was a "Bicycle and guitar oriented elixir....". Well, the "guitar" part sort of got pushed out by the bicycle stuff, but I've always been playing. In the Easter post, I mentioned playing my '90 Strat, and someone suggested I detail the fleet, so here ya go. Hopefully ya'll enjoy the change in pace. I'll post something periodically throughout the year. Here's #9

Okay, so this is really weird. I just got this guitar yesterday. 

That's right. Yesterday.

I didn't plan on it, and it was a total surprise, and this post is more about the story than the guitar. So, here goes.......

I've always wanted a Telecaster. They just have that certain sound that no other guitar can quite manage. Now, if you have a lot of guitars, you really don't need another one. (Yes- N+1 exists for guitars, but....) I resisted getting one, and in fact, I'd never ever given one a whirl. That is, until just this year. The whole situation was unplanned and the Tele I played was this very guitar. 

Many of you have seen my blog profile and know from that that I play in my church worship band. (Look up there on top of the right column for it) Well, one Sunday my guitar jack went kaput and I was going to have to call Mrs. Guitar Ted and have her bring over another guitar. But our Worship Director, Michael, said, "Hey, just grab my Tele. It's in the back." So, I got to play a Tele, and man! I really liked it. Then a few weeks later I had a cord go bad, but I thought it was the output jack I had just had repaired. We switched out to the Tele again, but then realized it was the cord. So, I was just going to swap back, but Michael said I could play the Tele again if I wanted to. I did, so I played it again. And once again- man that was good! 

Telecaster- The classic Fender design from the early 1950's.
Michael said I could play it anytime I wanted. It was a guitar he kept at the church. Of course, that was a gracious offer, and maybe if I ever needed a back up for some reason. But yeah...... That was that as far as I was concerned. I was just going to keep playing my guitars, most likely, and never play a Tele again, or I'd end up just having to buy one.

So, I was out riding yesterday when the phone goes off and it was a text alert. I pulled over thinking it was most likely my wife, but it was Michael. He wanted to come over to the house. I said I would get a hold of him when I got back from my ride. I was about ten miles or so out from the truck. When I got back to the truck I had to load up, drive across town, and unload.

So for the rest of the ride I am thinking of all these terrible things that it might be. Then I had to just tell myself to chill out. You see, I am a terrible worrier. I have a vivid imagination, and sometimes the two things can be a curse. Anyway, I got calmed down and when I got home I waited on the front porch for Michael to arrive. It was too nice outside to sit indoors.

Michael eventually pulls up and gets something out of the back of his SUV. It is a guitar case. I was puzzled. He walks up to me and we chit-chat a few seconds and then he says, "Well, I'm here because I wanted to give you this guitar."

Blown Away.

Yeah, so this is the newest addition to the stable. I didn't deserve it, and while you may not believe, I have only God to thank for this gift. Well.......and Michael too. He decided to listen........

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Seeking Balance

A gorgeous afternoon to ride.
They say that nature seeks balance. You'd be forgiven for thinking that saying is B.S. when it rains for six weeks straight. From late September to mid-October, the weather was negative. Rain came in bucket loads. We flooded. Twice. The last time it was a "major flood" category event.

So, I was thinking that we'd get cheated out of some of our usually nice Fall riding. However; it looks as though we're going to get a bit of balance back after all. The last two days have been stellar Fall days. Little wind, clear skies, comfortable upper 50's/lower 60's for temperatures. Just really nice Fall weather, and it is forecast to continue on like this for several days.

Of course, I love that news, but farmers here are overjoyed. They are out en force reaping the harvest and I cannot blame them. The recent activity in the rural areas has been intense, and I expect nothing less than totally gleaned fields next time I get out there. That should be very soon, by the way. (Probably today)

So, pretty much everyone is happier now. The Sun shining has a lot to do with it, and we did miss that a lot during those rainy weeks. But not everything is roses now. Of course it isn't. The single track is wrecked as of now. Standing water is everywhere in the woods. The rivers are still pretty high, so water drainage is slow to occur. Evaporation of the waters which are sitting in pools now is a slow affair with these temperatures and light winds. Trees and branches litter the trails. 

Standing water cuts off a single track trail in Lower Hartman here. 
Broken branches and downed trees cut off other single track routes in Lower Hartman.
So, I toodled around where I could in Lower Hartman and along old Shirey Road. Then I headed back toward the house on paved bike paths and down several Waterloo city alleyways. It never fails that when I pop down an alley that somewhere I surprise a motorist, citizen, or resident who isn't expecting a cyclist to be rip-roaring down the alley. Don't they know alleys are public and a lot of fun to bomb down?

A beautiful day for a bicycle ride.
I definitely stopped a few times to soak it all in. These days go by so quickly and I just was so happy to be out and about when the weather was so good. The leaves are still turning colors and despite the wicked weekend winds, most trees still retain their foliage. That in itself is amazing!

So, I hope to get in some good rides before the weather takes a turn for the colder and Winter hits. We'll have to see how long we get before that happens, but just several weeks is my guess. Stay tuned on that......

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

News Season: Part 2- Enve Fat Fork And Fat Wheels

The Enve Fat Bike Fork has some serious gram savings.
Enve Debuts New Fat Bike Fork and Carbon Wheel Set For Fat Bikes:

Enve Composites has been around a while now and probably are most well known for the high quality carbon rims for both mountain bikes and road bikes. But they have dabbled in components since the beginning as well. Enve has a long history with carbon forks and they have also done seat posts, stems, and handlebars.

Today Enve has announced a fat bike fork and a carbon fat bike rim/wheel set. The fork is simply called the Fat Bike Fork and it is not only lightweight, but it is compatible with 26" and 27.5" fat bike wheels.

The clever addition of a flip chip in the drop out allows for the fine tuning of the fork offset to optimize the handling for either wheel size. The obvious is here- 15mm X 150mm through axle, 1 1/4"-1 1/2" tapered steer tube, and a claimed weight of 748 grams. Axle to crown is 490mm and the offset can be set at 51mm or 42mm depending on the position of the flip chips in the drop out. Recommended rotor size is 160mm-203mm. Tire Clearance- 26" X 5.2" - 27.5" X 4.8" maximum. The fork has internally routed brake capability as well.

The MSRP on the Fat Bike Fork is $625.00 and is available for pre-order now. Shipping pre-orders should happen at the end of November.

Comments: The weight is nice, and the clearances are nice, and that dual wheel size compatibility is really nice! That was a nice touch from Enve as the fat bike market is kind of split between 26 and 27.5 wheel sizes right now. You would be good to go either way with this offering. isn't a bike packer's pick, but I've also heard a few seasoned fat bikers say that weighting the front is bad for trying to traverse softer terrain. Hmm......

I've got a carbon fork on the Ti Mukluk, and the differences in ride characteristics based on the lighter weight alone make the switch an attractive one here. A seemingly minor detail- the internal brake routing- is actually a big deal to me. Getting a fat bike, one actually used in severe conditions like ungroomed snow, mud, and sand, the sleekest and smoothest that you can makes the going easier. I can't tell you how many times I've had to pick mud, or clear snow off that was stuck to the exposed brake line. Then again- you can always run sans front brake. That's what a lot of bushwhacking fat bikers do.

Enve's M685 fat bike wheels. Also available as a rim only.
The wheels are from Enve's M Series so these are "trail rated" and not just for snow, as some other rims out there are only rated for snow riding. They also feature Enve's first asymmetric molded spoke hole design which also accommodates fat bike wheels wider bracing angles. The rim profile was designed to shed snow and not allow build up.

Using a tubeless design, these rims don't need a wide rim strip. They also have a hookless bead design. The rims feature an 85mm inner rim width which should accommodate most fat bike tires out there. The rims are being made in both 27.5" and 26" diameters and the target weight is 600 grams for each rim.

The rims are available separately in both diameters offered at $999.00 MSRP each. The rims can also be purchased built up to Industry 9 hubs with a 150mm front/190mm rear spacing. Complete wheels are set to retail at $2800.00

Comments: Enve will be Enve, so the prices on these U.S. manufactured rims is no surprise. That said, it's hard to make a case for these in terms of price unless you value the claimed durability and the specific features of the rim's design. When every gram counts and durability cannot be compromised, yeah..... I can see getting these. They are a premium product and therefore you have to pay the price. If you just want lighter fat bike wheels and don't do anything extreme, well maybe something else would trip your trigger. A Whiskey No. 9 100 rim is wider, almost as light, and costs less than half as much per rim as the Enve does, for example.

Both wheel sizes are supported again here, so that is cool. I like the thought that went into making these trail rated, because, who knows? You might end up mountain biking your fat bike someday and knowing the rims are going to handle it is a nice chunk of "mind peace" to have. 

Note: Images and information were provided by Enve Composites.

News Season Part 1: Industry Nine Announces The A 35 Stem

The new Industry 9 A 35 stem is available in a bunch of colors and several different lengths.
Industry 9 Announces The A 35 Stem:

If you have been paying attention, you know that Enduro and Downhill racers have been gravitating toward 35mm stem clamp diameter stems and handlebars. Industry 9 noticed too.

The newest product and one not related to wheels, (unusual here), they have is named after Industry 9's five axis machining centers, (The "A Axis", to be specific), and is a 35mm stem clamp diameter. It is available in four lengths and a myriad of different colors. Industry 9 will even mix a different face plate color in there for an upcharge.

MSRP for single color A 35 stems is $125.00 and two color versions are $140.00. The stems are available now. Completely designed and manufactured in Asheville, NC.

Comments: This was a bit of a surprise to me. Industry 9 is branching out here and making a cool looking component. This kind of reminds me of the mid-90's American machinists boom in the mtb world with all the in-house machining and anodizing.

Now, the whole 35mm stem and handle bar thing is an unknown to I have a set up on my Singular Cycles Buzzard in this standard, but I haven't really tested it out yet. With the season winding down, I may not get around to it either. We'll see. But back to the stem!

Yeah, so this may be your new standard going forward for mtb's. It's good to see another option and it is curious as it makes one wonder what Industry 9 might come up with next. Are they the "Paul Components" of the East? Maybe not that quite yet, but I could see it.

Note- Industry 9 provided the information and image for this post.

News Season- Explained

A new race in Madison County was announced.
A Note From Guitar Ted: Okay folks, before we dive into the post here I wanted to explain this post, and the two following it, because there are special circumstances at play that you, my faithful readers, need to understand. 

First off, I have been in the "cycling media" now for 13 years. (I know! Hard to believe it's been THAT long and that I am a part of it all)  In that time I spent most of those years covering 29"ers, mtb, and general cycling stuff. As a media member I am on a LOT of e-mail lists for marketing companies. I get forwarded a LOT of info, most of which you never know about or even see anywhere else. I believe in keeping things focused here and wherever I write. Plus, you don't want to see everything I get sent. It would likely be........annoying. That's the best way I can put it.

However; at times I get sent some cool info. I get sent stuff related to mtb, or cycling in general, that doesn't fit on  These press releases are interesting and I think you out there might think so as well. So, I sometimes share that but not until Fridays, generally. That said, some of this stuff loses its traction with me after a few days and it's best if I generate the news here right away. Both for me and for you. Otherwise I forget to get around to it, and well........that doesn't do anyone any good!

So, anyway....... The way things are done today is that the newsy bits have embargoes on them. I cannot share things until a certain time. Weird, I know, but that's how things are. So I have a post hitting at 6:00am today and another at 9:00am today with news about certain bits I found interesting. Otherwise, without the embargoes, it would all be in one, easy to consume post. But that ain't the way marketing plays these days, so...... 

MADCO100: The one newsy bit I CAN share right away is that on May 4th, 2019 there will be a new 100 mile event in Madison County dubbed the MADCO100. Details are sparse, but I have gotten the feeling that this event is coming out of, or is the folks behind CIRREM. I'm sure this will come out in the future, but anyway.......

May 4th. One hunnert miles of hills. Now you know.......

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Inbred Lives Again

Saturday night it was rideable again.
I mentioned on Friday that I had this old Inbred 29"er frame and that a new set of WTB Ranger 2.4" tires had sparked an interest in building it up again. Well, it didn't take long to get around to it.

Saturday we had massive winds out of the Northwest here. They were 30mph constant with higher gusts here in town for a couple of hours and in the 20's mph for the entire day, pretty much. Out in the country I would imagine it was far worse.

So, going out to the gravel to ride was a fool's errand as it would be in the woods. Not to mention the recent flooding, which has rendered the trails unrideable anyway. Nothing to do but go work on bicycles and write reviews. I spent much of the morning writing and then all afternoon, between doing family things, working on the Inbred. The build wasn't too tough since I had everything at hand to complete it.

A little of the build was from the "Fat Fargo" that I sold earlier in the year. (Or was that last year? I cannot remember)  I had stripped off the controls and stem in one piece which included the brake calipers. So, the entire control layout and levers were intact with wrapped bars to boot. There was one issue with this though, the stem was all wrong. I needed a riser stem and I didn't have a spare laying about which would work. But I had one on another bicycle.

The Pofahl single speed had a white Bontrager high rise stem that I had always meant to replace because it was just not "right" looking on that bike. The white would, however, look perfectly fine on the white Inbred. Swap time! I put a place holder stem on the Pofahl and took the white stem and made a test fit to the Inbred. It looked really good and measured out within reason for me to make it fit.

Final form.........for now.
Then I had a spare wheel set sitting here that was perfect for mounting up the 2.4" WTB Ranger tires. Tubeless, of course. (More on these tires later) Then I had to find the 10 speed XT derailleur that would work with the shifters. Yes- I had one in the bin. The bike came with a front derailleur when it was dropped off to me, so that was done. Now, there was a Thompson 27.2mm non-offset post on the bike but I am not a fan of Thompson posts so I swapped it out for the much better design of the Salsa Shaft post. The saddle I found was a white Bontrager Affiinity one, perfectly suited to this rig. Then I had a set of the Desert Series Mesa MP pedals from Fyxation sitting there which needed to be used. Yeah........they are brown! So what.

The chain was a bit of another touch and go deal. I needed a slightly used 9 speed chain and I found one real quick, but it was two links too short. I dug, and I dug around, and finally I found a 9 speed SRAM chain I'd used on some single speed in the past. A few minutes later I had pieced together a chain to work. Okay, so you may have noted I have a ten speed shifter, rear derailleur, and a 9 speed chain? Yep. That;s because I have a 9 speed cassette here. Don't ask. It worked on the Fat Fargo as well. That said, the plan is at some point to swap to a ten speed cassette and chain.

So, added some cages, a couple of bags, kitted it out......Boom! The Inbred lives. It will see a lot of Winter time commuting duties and if we ever get clear trails, I'll be doing single track on it too. Stay tuned........

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Touring Series: A Ride In Jo's Truck

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.

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

The three "Race Against Death Tour" riders wait for a convenience store worker named Jo to end her shift in Niobrara, Nebraska....

With our plans up in the air, and the day wasting away, we weren't too comfortable with just waiting it out to see what would happen. We fidgeted, we paced, and basically clock watched for 12:00 noon to happen. The convenience store clerk we'd met earlier, named Jo, had to assess our rigs. Only then we would learn whether we were in for some much needed assistance, or chasing smoke.

When noon arrived, we still had about a ten minute wait on our hands since Jo had to close out her register, talk to the next employee on shift, and get out of her work garb. After what seemed like an eternity, she walked out, asked to see our rigs, and we went outside. Well, as it turned out, our fears were all for naught. Jo had a truck! Not just any old pick'em up truck, mind you, but an honest ranchers truck. A three quarter ton Ford 4X4 with a crew cab and a full box. Yeah......our bikes fit fine. It was another thing to lift them six feet into the bed of that rig though!

So with that done, and our minds at ease, we piled into the cab, settled in, and Jo took us on an incredible 20 mile ride through the Niobrara River back country. It was really cool, and Jo filled us with a ton of information about the area, the struggles the ranchers were having with the Feds, and how we were lucky that we met her since this was the only road around the construction. It was lucky! These roads were crushed rock, steep, and finding our way without a detailed map would have been really hard. Jo basically saved us from losing at least a day on this tour. Not to mention the rest our tired bodies got riding in an air conditioned truck!

Well, we finally came to the end of that ride at the highway west of Niobrara. Jo pointed us in the right direction as we unloaded our rigs slowly and carefully. We were super grateful, and a little bit sad to have to part ways. Jo was an incredibly gracious help, and we wouldn't soon forget her and her big truck. But that's the way it goes sometimes. You meet for just a little bit, and life sweeps you down the road again, far away.

So we turned our faces westward. It was hilly, hot, and we had a long way to go before we got anywhere we could find a proper overnight. Troy wanted to get out of Nebraska, and we all did, really. But that would be a big effort on our route. It was time to go to work.

Our maps showed us we weren't far from a town called Verdel, but there wasn't much of anything there, and the next town was much the same. Finally we pulled into a town that had a convenience store that was called Lynch. We sat for a bit, got the tent out to dry in the southwesterly wind, and tried to cool off from the intense heat of the day. We sat for about a half an hour, then we saddled back up and headed westwards again. The road bent northwards a hair, then we joined another highway. About this time, we started seeing riders headed to Sturgis for the annual motorcycle rally. Things were getting a bit more interesting after a long afternoon of dreary heat and brutal hills.


The ride was a tour saver! Jo was a gracious host to us and as I say in the piece above, she was very informative. The struggles of the ranchers versus the government were sad to hear about. Sometimes I wonder what ever became of all of that......

Jo didn't forget about us either, I remember getting a post card from her after the tour was over. I sent her a thank you card as well. It was just one of those really cool chance meetings that you can experience sometimes on a bicycle tour. I've heard about others having similar experiences. It certainly gives you hope for humanity, that's for sure.

With Jo's gift to us now over, it was as if we were coming out of a dream. I remember when she left we were suddenly struck by the loneliness, the feeling of being nowhere near anything we were familiar with. Thoughts of the road ahead were now on our mind and the "unknown" road was intimidating. For a minute or two. Then the exertion of stiff muscles and the attention we had to pay to our situation quickly took our minds off those anxious thoughts. Back to work and the effort to escape Nebraska!

Next week: Highway To Hell

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Minus Ten Review - 42

That's THE Chris King of Chris King Precision Components barbecuing at Interbike '08.
Ten years ago on the blog I started detailing how to convert your 29"er mtb over to off road type drop bars. That became a series of sorts, and if I could ever get the page link to function on this here ol' broken down Blogger page, you could reference that material. One day.....

I also started yakking up another ""Big Wheeled Ballyhoo" event. I don't know what I was thinking after the failed 2008 event, the gas I got about it all, and whatnot, but whatever...... I decided to try it again! I won't let on how that turned out just yet, but what was very different was that this time I actually was promised help and I received it, unlike the doomed '08 event where I was left high and dry to do things myself. Of course, if you've been following along with these "Minus Ten Reviews" this year, you've already picked up on the fact that my then boss at "Twenty Nine Inches", Tim Grahl, was really causing me a LOT of headaches. The failed "Big Wheeled Ballyhoo" was just a minor bit part in that from 2008.

What I didn't share on the blog then, but was going down in the background, was that by this time it was becoming apparent that Mr. Grahl's involvement in the site, and the Crooked Cog Network in general, was becoming less and less. None of us working the various sites really knew what was going on, I don't think. All I know is that between myself and Arleigh Jenkins (now Greenwald), we had almost no communication with Grahl. Not for lack of our trying, by the way.

The loss of images hadn't happened yet, but I saw trouble coming and I was trying to get things into my hands to save as much as I could of it. The super convoluted, complex way images were hosted for TNI and this blog at that time was so......frustrating. Not to mention the money involved in it and the disconnected Mr. Grahl, which made matters just super stressful.

I guess I did a great job of not letting on back then, but in hindsight I probably should have bailed out right then and there. Unfortunately in the coming months I was led to believe more untruths and I got sucked all the way into running TNI. That tale will roll out during the rest of the "Minus Ten Reviews" this year.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Friday News And Views

Cycling makes me feel great. Now there may be some science to back up the reasons why.
Blinded Me With Science:

I don't know about you, but after I started commuting by bicycle to work, I hated having to drive that commute if the situation warranted it. I never used to be that way. I would just jump into whatever vehicle I had through the years and, ya to work. No big deal, right? I mean, there were the occasional idiots and near misses, but that's par for the course. I didn't "hate driving to work" then.

But something happened when I started commuting by bicycle. I dreaded driving after a while. Now I never quite understood what it was that switched me around, but I knew I was much more calm, at ease, and mellow after riding to work, and it just felt right. Ya know? I never really had any basis for feeling that way, but now it seems that science has some answers for me regarding this.

It's an older article called "This Is Your Brain On Bikes", and while I cannot verify that any of its claims are based on good science, I can sure find a lot to agree with in that article. Certainly there has to be something about the mood enhancements gained from cycling because I totally identify with that part of the article. Cycling does bring me a good feeling, and it really does help with being depressed. Especially this time of the year when there is little Sun and lots of cold dark time.

So, a plan has been devised..........finally!
Project Inbred:

Two and a half years ago I received my original On One Inbred back. The image today is just how I received it on my bench one day after it had been through two other owners.

Since that time the frame has hung on a hook in my Lab/dungeon/horde and nothing has been done with it. Honestly, I couldn't come up with a good reason to fix it up. I had waaaay too many single speed 29"ers any way, and setting it up geared seemed........wrong. I just wasn't into it and so it hung there.

Meanwhile the original fork also came back to me but it had been thrashed to the point of failure. I couldn't use it. Fortunately I still had the On One Carbon Super Light fork and that's what is on the Inbred now. But other than hanging that fork, I had made zero progress on this.

The mind works in strange ways and sometimes a part or component can spark inspiration. So it was when I received those WTB Ranger 29 X 2.4" tires the other day. They obviously needed to go on a mtb frame, but which one? Since quitting "Twenty Nine Inches" I have thinned the heard of 29"ers and the ones that are left I want to keep the way that they are. But there was that Inbred frame and fork.......just hanging there!  Stay tuned...............

Old Shirey Way (Lower Hartman to you younginz)
 Post Flood Mess:

Yesterday I went down to check on the conditions of the trails near the Cedar River on the South side. The river had fallen below flood stage the day before and with the super-dry air I was wondering how things were going as far as drainage of the backwater was concerned.'s a mess.

I feared as much. It isn't going to clear up soon either. With the water table as elevated as it is, that remaining water that didn't/couldn't drain back into the river is just going to sit, and sit, and sit. Obviously it will go away at some point, but by the time it does we will be nigh unto Winter and Fall will be a distant memory here. Brown season will be in full swing and will stay until/if it snows. Who knows when that will be.

In the meantime, I will be gravel riding more and waiting for the Green Belt to clear up. When it does, I'll have to go investigate Marky-Mark- that trail I put in 22 years ago, and see if it needs any touching up. Other than that bit, I'll probably just see how the lay of the land is and determine just what remained and what went down to Louisiana in the flood. Every time it floods the Green Belt changes. You never know what you'll find. Sand in new places, sometimes feet deep. Trail shooting off right into the river where it eroded the banks. Ya gotta take it easy the first time you go in after a flood!

I remember riding back in there years ago after a flood, taking a sweeper at high speed, running through a little wall of tall weeds, only to see nothing but air in front of me. Fortunately the cantilever brakes and 26 inch tires brought me to a halt mere inches from sailing off the new cut bank into the creek several feet below. Exciting, but nearly disastrous.

Now days I usually opt for the fat bike, usually the Blackborow DS, and just slow crawl the entire Green Belt. It helps with the sand and whatever mud I might find. Plus it keeps me safer. I figure on getting back in there in at least a couple of weeks from now. But like I said, for now it will all be gravel travel.

Have a great weekend and keep the rubber side down!


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Black Mountain Cycles MCD With 650B Wheels Reviewed

The "Bubblegum Princess" with 650B's mounted
Yesterday I mentioned that I was going to be testing and reviewing some 650B X 47mm WTB Sendero tires for Well, those went on the BgP Black Mountain Cycles rig and they have been ridden.

I thought it might be nice to put out there how these wheels feel on the new Monster Cross disc frame and fork, since the MCD bikes are so new and all. First, I better give a quick summary of what I used for wheels and tires here.

Both my 700c and 650B wheel sets for the MCD are Irwin Cycles Aon 35 GX wheels. (650B review linked) They are similar in every way but for the diameter. Same hubs, etc.... So, the only difference is tires. I used WTB Riddler 45's on the 700c set and the 650B have the Sendero tires, as previously mentioned. The Senderos are knobby, but on gravel it is hard to tell unless the roadway is packed in and devoid of chunk. Most of my ride was on chunky, fresh gravel, so I feel that the tires are of little concern in that regard.

Now, as for the ride feel of the MCD- It is smooth, but- I felt when I started out riding this thing that, the fork especially, wasn't as compliant as the fork on my cantilever Monster Cross bicycle. And I was not surprised by that, because the disc fork is beefier, and it is a completely different design. The disc fork rides well enough, but again- not cantilever brake bike smooth. I bring this point out because of what happened when I switched over to the 650B wheels and tires.

Another view. I think they look as "right" on this bike as 700c wheels and tires do.
As I said, the roads were mostly covered in fresh, and freshly graded, gravel. It was deep, loose, and rough. What struck me right away about the ride feel was that the fork was going nuts working over the surface. I don't recall that the fork ever worked like this with 700c wheels and tires. Why would this be?

Obviously the gravel had a lot to do with it, but I'd ridden loose, deep gravel with the other wheels as well. My guess is that it comes down to the different angle of attack and that 650B wheels do not roll up and over the top of deep, loose gravel as well as the 700c wheels and tires do. That said, the fork made short work of this and besides a bit of lateral movement every once in a while, it wasn't an issue. The bike just rode really nicely with these wheels.

While the fork's movement was a surprise, the rest of how the bike reacted with 650B wheels was not a surprise. I lost a bit of the "flywheel effect" of the 700c wheels. The trade off is that 700c wheels and tires take a bit more effort to spin up. The 650B wheels acceleration feel was snappier. That's a given on any 650B wheeled bike I've tried. No surprises there with regard to what the wheel size differences do to the ride feel.

Tire clearances are really good with 47mm tires. You could probably put a 50mm tire in there, maybe a 2.0"'er would slip in, but with every millimeter you go wider you lose mud clearances. The 650B wheels are slightly less in diameter than 700c wheels, so the bottom bracket is a touch lower. This never was an issue on my gravel ride, but I will have to report back once I get into some rutted out Level B dirt roads.

Otherwise, I think the 650B wheels and tires look great in the bike, like they belong. So, I will be swapping back and forth every so often. I really cannot say what wheel size is best. There are trade offs with either size which you have to be willing to live with. If I come to a conclusion there, I will chime back in. That said, if you get a MCD, I'd recommend either wheel size, and both if you can swing it.

NOTE- The Black Mountain Cycles MCD was bought and paid for by Guitar Ted. He was not asked, nor bribed for this review and that's that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

It Has Been A While Since I've Done This

Big, beefy, and with some fancy new tech.
I've reviewed a lot of tires in the last thirteen years or so. My first set of tires that I ever reviewed were a pair of WTB Wolverines, 29"ers, of course. That was when I learned a lot about reviewing stuff from the guy that used to run the now defunct website called "The Biking Hub".

Anyway, I reviewed a LOT of 29"er tires  subsequently for "Twenty Nine Inches". Then when I got out of that gig and into, the 29"er tire reviews were over. Or at least I thought so.....

Of course, I still review a lot of tires, they are just gravel/all-road treads now. So, when WTB sent over their newest treads to be reviewed for "Riding Gravel", they sent a pair of mountain bike tires as well to see what I thought about them. It's been a while since I've paid any attention to what is going on in that corner of the tire world with anything other than a cursory look. I mean, I only have a few mtb rigs and their tires are fine for now.

I'll be honest- WTB mtb tires have been hit or miss in my experience. I love Nanoraptors, (don't they just call them "Nano" these days?) I really didn't like the Bronsons, they were scary to corner on! The Ninelines were fantastic for what they are designed to do. The Trailblazer 27.5+ tires were fantastic. The old Wolverines were dead and heavy feeling compared to newer stuff. And on..... However; since those days WTB has made some changes in tech. Big changes....

So, in the meantime, I have to find a bike to put these on and get to riding. While WTB isn't expecting a review of these, I probably will be chiming in on these here as I get along on them. I'll also be mentioning the Sendero 650B tires I'll be testing for as well.

More soon........

NOTE- WTB sent over the Sendero and Ranger 2.4" tires for test and review at no charge. I have not been paid nor bribed for this content and I strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.