Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday News And Views

The FS-i hard tail in throwback 90's Team Edition colors.
Cannondale Issues Throwback Scheme:

Throwbacks. You know, NFL jerseys, NASCAR paint schemes, reissue vintage shoe designs, etc.... Everyone is doing the nostalgia trick these days. So, bicycle companies were ripe for jumping in, and why not? Some of these old liveries were pretty classy.

Take the heyday of the 90's NORBA era Cannondale Team frames. That simple, yet classy looking red with yellow lettering was easily recognized back then as being Cannondale's colors. Cannondale decided to reissue this classic scheme on their top end hard tail 29"er frame with a painted to match Ocho Lefty fork. You can squint your eyes and see Tinker Juarez big ringing it up a climb, right?

All it needs to finish it off is a Magic Motorcycle crank and a negative rise stem. Boom! Don't forget the skinwall tires.

There is another color available on this frame, which is the late 90's/early 00's Team Blue, which I never liked all that much. Too bad they didn't stick with red. Oh, yeah.......this is very limited and very expensive. But you probably figured that out already.

12 speed, Eagle compatible bar end and thumb shifters. Image courtesy of
Eagle Compatible Microshift Bar End And Thumbshifters Debut:

I get that some of you out there are big fans of Eagle wide range 1X set ups. I came across this story at and figured I would share it here. Basically it is the Microshift bar end and thumbshifter models tweaked to be used with 12 speed Eagle cassettes or Microshift's own cassette.

The story goes that you can use these as index shifters or as a friction shifter. Not sure how that would go as a friction shifter, but hey! In a pinch, it would get you back to the shed. Plus, these sorts of shifters are the kind of component that would survive in the worst sorts of conditions where others might fail more easily. I'm a big fan of this sort of thing myself.

As of now there are no prices or availability on these components. They were shown at the recently held Taipei Cycle show which is a show for the industry to get a handle on what is available to spec on future models. These likely will be offered separately and perhaps even a company like Gevanelle will get on board and do a version with the TRP brake lever.

It's really PINK!
There's A New Sealant In Town:

Tubeless tire sealants come and go. I've tried so many that I cannot remember them all. Probably every type you have heard about and some that you haven't heard about. Anyway, most of them are not worth the bother. Some were really good, but for whatever reason, they never got off the ground. One in particular I liked was GEAX sealant. It came in an aerosol can kind of like a mini whipped cream can. It sealed punctures like nobody's business. But many people never heard of it.

Of course, you have your Stan's. The stuff all sealants are judged against. The upstart Orange Seal is probably #2 on the list, and then there is........everybody else. That Finish Line stuff? Pfffft! Don't even try it. Not even close to being as good as Orange Seal.

But I tried a new sealant to me recently that has impressed me. Muc-Off is the brand name and No Puncture Hassle Tubeless Sealant is in the game now. You can read my linked review for the details.

But here we go again- will this even ever get on people's radar? Sealants are "not to be messed with", so folks just default to Stan's. Ya gotta hand it to them. They have really cornered the market on sealant, and Orange Seal, while a big contender, is still a long ways away from dethroning Stan's. To get a foothold in the door isn't easy, but I sure hope folks give Muc-Off sealant a try, if only because they have a nice packaging set up which is reusable and a couple other neat tricks.

The Almanzo 100 and concurrent events are changing venue.
Bombshell Announcement On Venue Change:

Friday night at midnight the Almanzo (Read: Chris Skogen) events announced a venue change was in store. Citing the philosophy embodied in the statement "......we don’t go where we’re not wanted.", Skogen let on that the city of Spring Valley had an exchange with him that was "...less than welcoming". He then went on to say that he had contacted Preston, Minnesota, a town on the course for the last nine years, about hosting. Apparently they already do a town festival on the weekend of May Skogen has chosen to run the Almanzo and they were not capable of providing enough support for an event the magnitude of Almanzo. Apparently, negotiations are underway at this point to hold the event in Northfield, Minnesota. This would be approximately 80 miles away from Spring Valley.

Comments: This is a major shift in the Almanzo. It has traditionally always been a Southeast Minnesota event, which started originally in Rochester, Minnesota, and moved to Spring Valley after about four years.  The move means that assuredly almost none of the original courses for the Almanzo 100 will be in use again. No mention was made regarding the Royal 165 or the 380 mile Alexander courses which also originated out of Spring Valley. It would be pretty incredible if all three courses were changed before next May, but again- no word on this yet.

What is interesting is that now the starting town, assuming that all negotiations and plans go forward with Northfield, will only be about 40-50 miles from the Twin Cities, which always was Almanzo's biggest draw as far as riders which attended the event was concerned.Attendance will probably be higher as long as the weather is not heinous, given that Skogen continues with his "no limits" roster, which he has doggedly held to for quite some time.

Northfield stands to benefit greatly. At the time Almanzo happens, the two local colleges should be done with classes. (Or close to it), and there shouldn't be any issues with filling all the spots in the local motels. Camping is being discussed and the local economy stands to benefit greatly from the weekend. How the locals will take it is quite another thing, but we'll stay tuned on that and see how it goes....

That's all I have this week for FN&V. Have a great weekend! Enjoy Global Fat Bike Day, if you are so inclined.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fittings And Fat Bikes

The ped/bike bridge across HWY 58 in Cedar Falls
It was sometime last week. I was driving "The Truck With No Name" in downtown Waterloo when it happened. All of a sudden like. A crack. Right in front of my very eyes. A crack in my windshield twelve inches long.

No rocks, nothing..... Weird!

So, that precipitated my having to source a company to repair this. I know some folks would "just let it go", but not I. It isn't safe anyway. So, I was thinking this was gonna hurt financially, but thanks to Cedar Valley Auto Glass, I was able to get it done for a little more than $200.00.  Nice! I love small, local businesses.

So, anyway, I had to drop it off and I decided to ride back home, which also meant I had to ride back over when it was finished later that day. This afforded me the opportunity to see some of the bike paths over on the West end of this area I never had checked out before. The big highlight was the pedestrian/bicycle bridge over Highway 58, not far from where I had the work on the truck done. So let it be written- let it be told! If you cities and towns out there build the infrastructure, it will get used. All year long. I'm a good example of that. Plus, even on a cold, blustery November day, others were out on the paths too.

People who think bike paths are only used in Summer think that because they don't go out there once the temperatures drop below 60°F. don't see us, so you don't get it. Rant over. I just love it when people think they have it all figured out about how this sort of stuff is "wasted money". Whatever.............

700 X 2.1"ers in there, with room for mud!
After that 20 mile fat bike ride was over I fitted the Breezer RADAR Expert I have here for a bit with bigger shoes. Breezer says this bike will take 29"er X 2.1" tires. Well.......whatta ya know! It just so happens that I had these Michelin Wildgripper 29" X 2.1" just laying around. So, I figured we'd put Breezer's claim to the test. And guess what? already can see it worked. 

There is proper room for mud here, but you aren't going to shoe horn in a bigger tire. The frame design really wouldn't allow it. But yeah...... That's rad. Almost Gen 1 Fargo "rad". To my mind, the Gen 1 Fargo is this bike's distant cousin.

Some might call it "monster cross", and some may say, "Well, it is a 29"er after all." is a drop bar off-roader adventure vehicle. It kind of defies classification. Just like that original Fargo did. But trying to classify this rig as something or another is really a waste of time. Just ride it! It is a fun bike, despite some of its "lower end-ness". If this were my rig to play with, well........ You folks that read this blog know exactly what would happen, don't you?

There would be different wheels, a new seat post, a different stem, different tires, an upgrade to Gevenalle shifters/brake levers, and who knows what else. It would end up becoming a gravel rig, and basically "another Gen I Fargo" in my stable. Yep.......

But back to reality. This rig fits 2.1's and that makes me smile. I like that versatility. The next mad experiment will be to see how this rig does with 650B X 47's......... Stay tuned......

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Message: Part 2

There's a new Radio Ranch podcast up! Can you believe it?
A few weeks back I posted "The Message", a post about what one magazine was saying about the "future of gravel grinding". Well, it seems this topic is a hot one right about now. Not only was there that aforementioned online article, but Ben and I recently posted another Riding Gravel Radio Ranch podcast, #34, in which we also elaborate on where some events are going in this scene.

Things come and go, and I kinda figured as the Winter came in this topic would subside for something else, but no. I was asked to give my opinion again regarding this topic, and a few others, in a recent interview conducted by Spencer Powlison of "Velo News". In fact, I was told it may be a podcast, so look for that in the future. I'm not privy to when it might be published/posted, but whatever. It doesn't matter. What matters is that "The Message" the media is starting to ponder is "When Is Gravel Going To Die?" Basically, that's it. That's what I am getting the vibe for from these folks.

And let's face it- I've already said my piece on this in the first post about this subject. But apparently the folks from the bigger media outlets do not read my blog, because if they did, they wouldn't have to interview me. It's all right there in digital form. Read it.........

Anywho, I only have a bit more to add to this, and it was talked about, in part, in that post I linked yesterday regarding a reaction to the C.O.G. 100. (Miss it? See here) There was a bit of banter going on in a Facebook thread regarding this blog post I linked and some interesting comments about what "real gravel" is versus "corporate" feel was expressed.

Look...... Many folks say what I have done, and am doing with the C.O.G. 100 is more about "earning the experience" and not "buying one". You know, I get that. I can certainly see that there is a difference between the two things. But here's the deal from my viewpoint- there isn't anything wrong with either way. Both are valid reasons to do events and both are solid ways to get an experience. I will say the experiences are definitely not similar, though. I think that's fairly obvious to those who have done several different gravel events.

So, let the "big dogs" come and play. They will race for money and the events will bring in attention of media and industry, but in the end, that doesn't matter. The other end of the spectrum is what carried this genre' to prominence and will sustain it long after the big demo trucks, fancy finish lines, and big money are gone and forgotten. We don't need that stuff to grind gravel, but if ya want it- go for it. Now's your time.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

C.O.G. 100 Update: News On The Course & Single Speed Cranks/Gearing

Today I am going to give you some news about the course and then delve into my personal opinions and observations on single speed set up for an event such as this. Many of you dedicated single speeders will already have a lot of this stuff figured out, but some "rookies" to single speed are rumored to be considering this event and I thought I'd pass along my thoughts.

Course Update: I have re-routed the course to avoid a bridge that we discovered was out during recon a week or so ago. The mileage will be 111.87 miles. There will be an option to hit a convenience store at Mile 43 where you could leave the main course, and take a little over two mile detour to a convenience store. So, out and back to the course again you're looking at almost 5 bonus miles to make a pit stop. That would bring your total to approximately 117 miles for the day, barring any off course mistakes, etc...

Otherwise you'll have to pack water and food to make it to Mile 87 where there will be a convenience store just a few paces off the route. That will be a store that is pretty obvious as you are riding along, so there shouldn't be any issues finding it. But, those are the only suggested resupply options. Remember- There Will Be NO AID STATIONS- NO OUTSIDE SUPPORT ALLOWED- YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU! 

We'll have more details on the event coming soon....

Okay, so I had a couple of topics I wanted to cover which I will discuss using knowledge I have gained doing single speed riding in gravel events. First up is crank length. I am pretty convinced that you should use the longest crank set you can get and is reasonable for your size/height. I am a bit over 6' tall and with pretty long legs, I have found 180mm length cranks to be the bomb for a steady cadence up and over the rollers. Shorter cranks seem to put me into a situation where I loose momentum and end up working harder because the part of the arc I am making power in during my pedaling is shorter than it is with a longer crank. Dead spots in the pedaling arc can cause you to lose momentum. That's my theory. Your mileage may vary.

180mm Race Face cranks, 38 X 17 gear.
The next is concerning gearing. I always shot for something in the neighborhood of 38T chain ring and an 18T rear cog, sometimes a 17T.  That's in the high 50's for gear inches with a skinnier tire. (Gear inch calculator here) Keep in mind that 29" tires will increase your gear inches since the diameter of the wheel/tire combination is larger. So, since I used a 2.1" tire, typiclly on my 29"er single speeds that I used on gravel rides/events, my gear inch figured out in the low 60's. If I ran a 42mm tire, I'd likely bump up to a 40T chain ring to keep the gear inch in the low 60's. Again- your mileage may vary. This is what worked for me in 100 mile rides/events. I used this gearing in Nebraska on their rolling hills and in Iowa on hills similar to what the C.O.G.100 will have.

So, you may have to experiment, but in talking with other gravel single speed freaks, I seem to be on the lower end of the gear inch chart. Many are running mid to high 60's for gear inches. So, play around with the combinations to see what works best for you. I would hesitate to recommend anything "higher" than this since you're going to build up a lot of fatigue running the non-stop climbs on this course. A "big" gear will wear you out faster. Plus, March is a windy month in Iowa, and added into this is the very real possibility that the roads will be softer or that there will be precipitation which could increase rolling resistance dramatically.

Finally, if you have the choice, use the biggest diameter gear and chain ring combination that you can. So, instead of using a, let's say, 32 X 12, I'd opt for the larger 38 X 18. Bigger cog/chain ring combinations are more efficient, but you will have to see if your particular bike is compatible with bigger chain rings.

A very nice and very complimentary post concerning the C.O.G. 100 was published by Craig Groseth. Read it HERE.

Stay tuned for more on the C.O.G. 100 in the coming weeks.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Solo Turkey Burn

A woodchuck caught sunning itself.
Whoa! We didn't even get a flake! Dodged that bullet. I'm speaking, of course, about the big snow storm I mentioned last Friday in my post which was supposedly going to bring an end to the gravel riding season around these parts.

The whole mess went South and messed up their gravel season, so, yeah...... That sucks, but I am rejoicing that maybe December gravel travel will be a thing yet this year. We'll see.....

At any rate, on Saturday it was very nice for late November. Friday it had rained, and rained pretty steadily, all day long. I wanted to get out for a sort of "turkey burn" ride. You know....a post feasting caloric burn. People usually eat turkey here on Thanksgiving, thus the "turkey burn" name. Anyway, it technically doesn't fit for me since we had ham. Okay, so maybe "hamburn"? Maybe I try to hard........

There was a history for the term here though. Every year for several years in the 00's we'd gather the Saturday after Thanksgiving and do the "Turkey Burn" ride. The last mention of this ride I can find on my blog was back in 2012, but I missed it due to having to get my son's hair shorn. The first reference I found for it was back in 2005, but it may have been going on as an unorganized group ride activity before then. Not sure. Anywho......

Those rides were always up at Camp Ingawanis' North Side, which was always the preferred area to ride in before it was abandoned to the "horse people" around 2014 -15 or so. I've done my own, solo "burn" rides ever since, mostly on gravel roads though. The year I missed the last "official" "TB" ride I went out the very same afternoon and did my own ride in town on the local single track.

An old "flyer" for a Turkey Burn ride
The "turkey burn" thing caught on with me, at least, and I've been at it, pretty much every year since these started, and since that first 2012 solo ride, on my own. Saturday was too nice to stay inside anyway, so I just had to keep the streak going.

I decided to use the Breezer RADAR Expert here on test for a while for That bike lends itself to the "multi-surface" approach, so I linked up some of my "dirt home from work" routes and alloted a couple of hours to get it done.

The winds were out of the Northwest, and since I was basically following the Cedar River, I was headed straight into that with the promise of a tailwind back home. The air temperature was hovering right around 40°F or so, and keeping warm wasn't an issue. Even headed into the wind I was fairly comfortable. I was layered up mostly in wool stuff. I did use some thermal Trek branded tights, and those things drive me bonkers. They always sag in the crotch and then you know what happens..... snag on the nose of the saddle! I hate it when that happens!

I gotta get over to Goodwill and see if I can score some old wool trousers and convert them into riding pants, or find some real wool tights, or...... I actually have pretty decent luck in Winter riding in Dickies or just any ol' blue jeans I find that are comfortable. I'm not too picky, that is, unless my shorts or pants, or tights snag. Then I get testy! Anyway, sorry about the mini-rant about clothing. I just was reminded on this ride how I hate saggy tights.

The plan took me down alleys and then over toward the Hartman area where Shirey Way awaited me. Now, with that rain the previous day, I had no ideas whether or not I'd even be able to get through. I know I got turned back a few weeks ago, I think it was, when I found that it was still too muddy after the Fall flooding.

Shirey Way. The "in town" Level B Road, essentially, but in reality a service road now for Lower Hartman Reserve

It was actually passable. I had to tip-toe the RADAR through a couple of "iffy" areas, but I actually didn't have too bad of a time. The mud down along either side of the Cedar is pretty "greasy" when wet, so there were a few exciting moments while trying to find traction at the limits of what the WTB Riddler 45s were able to give me. Once off that I hopped over to the Riverside Bike Trail to get to the Pfieffer Park bridge, then over to George Wyth State Park.

Checking out some single track in Geo Wyth
I stopped after crossing the bridge, because I needed to check the time. My original, ambitious plan was to go to Black Hawk Park, get in a bit of that fire road access trail up to the Ford Road cut off, back on Ford Road, then back along the river toward home. But I had no where near that kind of time. Typical "me". Over achieving plans and not enough time to implement them.......

So, I figured I'd try a bit of Geo Wyth single track on and see how the RADAR Expert did on that. Unfortunately, it was a wee bit too greasy to really get a good read on what the bike could do.  What wasn't too wet to ride on without balling up a ton of mud on the tires was not really secure enough to go hard on, especially into turns. I gingerly made my way over to the campground and stopped for a nice photo opportunity by the banks of the Cedar River. After that I went on the old, old fitness trail, (whatever name they have given that, I don't know, as I must have missed the sign), and out the other end to go around "East Lake". (Again, the lake has a different name too, but I'll be danged if I know what they changed it to.)

Then it was onward toward home going through Exchange Park and eventually back over the Cedar River to my neighborhood. It was an easy, fast trek, what with the wind at my back pushing me right along. Then I veered off into the old Elmwood Cemetery for a lap. They have almost finished eradicating the ash trees in there. Unbelievable how infested they were with the Emerald Ash Borers. You can walk up to any bit of log or limb they still have sitting about, peel back the bark and see the bored in tracks. Such a shame all those trees had to go. The cemetery looks positively naked to the sky now.

Back at home I declared it a good turkey burn ride and a fun outing on the Breezer. It probably would be a bit better at this point if I put on some 2.0" 29"er treads on it now. These conditions are going to be gone, but the rougher, frozen trails and gravel necessitate some voluminous comfort in the form of a bit bigger tires. I'll have that swapped in soon. Then we'll see how the weather comes along this coming week.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Touring Series: Prairie Town Horror: Part 2

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. This post is the remainder of an original post which I broke up into two parts. The first part posted last week. This post is also supplemented with new material. 

We pick up the story as the tour is stopped in White River, South Dakota where Ryan has asked Guitar Ted to come out of the laundromat for assistance......

I went out through the opening where a door should have been, and here was Ryan with wild, open eyes staring into the face of a Native American who was very close to him, leering over him. The man had long, stringy black hair, he was thin and wiry, and looked disheveled in appearance. The Native American seemed to be pressing him for something. I said, "Hey! What's up?", and the man wheeled around to his surprise to see me standing there. The tone of the conversation on his part suddenly became much more pleasant.

It turned out that he was trying to pan handle us for money, although if I hadn't have come out, he may have just tried taking something from Ryan, who didn't seem to be a match for this man's overbearing countenance.  The man seemed to be drunk in my estimation, or under the influence of something, and wasn't too coherent. As I spoke with him I deftly made the correct answers and statements to calm him down. This directed him on down the street without further confrontation, but not before he managed to hurl an insult at a passing girl, which about made her cry. Nice guy!

Well, not wanting to have Ryan have to face that guy if he came back, I took the duty of being the watcher for the remainder of laundry time. As I sat there, I heard the wailing of a woman from across the street, I discerned some of the words she wailed. Apparently, she was pleading with someone to "not go and do it again." Not many seconds later, a stumbling Native American came out and weaved his way to a bar a couple of doors down. The woman's crying could be heard plainly across the street. It was surreal. Like some scene out of a movie, but I was actually seeing this.

After the laundry had been done, we wandered up the street. I noticed something odd- it was a well dressed man approaching us. He seemed shockingly out of place in his slacks, white dress shirt, which was neatly tucked in, and with a nice belt and shiny black shoes.  I noticed he had a rather large scar across his forehead. The old wound appeared to have slightly disfigured one of his eyes.

He hailed us and asked the usual, "what are you guys up to" questions. We politely told him what our trip was about, and of course, the lions share of the conversation from our part was relegated to me. So, I engaged this man in some conversation about this strange town. He told me he was a Korean War veteran, and had lived there all his life. That explained the scar, which he had told me was a war wound. He went on to explain that the street had been torn up three years previous to our visit to fix the underlying infrastructure. The city couldn't afford to get the street repaved, so there it was. Dirt!
SD State 44 near White River, South Dakota. Image courtesy of "Arizona-Gerd"

We took our leave of him and went to get some groceries, but not until he had given us an idea of where we could spend the evening. He motioned us over toward the way we had come into town where there was an old race track and a large area which was a park of sorts. He said there were pit toilets and to make sure we camped as far away from the road as possible. That way the Native Americans would be less likely to mess with us.

We then headed over to a low, sloped roof wooden structure. It reminded me of a house more than a business building. It was the local grocery store. It was an uneasy place, as the locals, many of them Native Americans, looked askance at us with disdainful looks. I felt very unwanted in this place. We hurriedly picked out some dried food packets, some more oatmeal, and made our way out of there. 

After the groceries were purchased, we headed over to the race track/park the man had told us about. We took our spot as far back from the road as we could. Cars were circling through the park on a fairly regular basis, which made us uneasy. While setting up the tent, I decided to check out the bathroom facility there. When I turned the corner in the cinder block building to enter, I stopped short. Glass was busted up everywhere. And to make matters worse, there was excrement smeared all over the walls and floor. Yeah.....great! I ended up squatting along the fence line instead.

The war vet had told us that even as a child the Native Americans and whites were not on the best of terms, but that now it was worse than ever. We went to sleep very uneasily that night. Car lights would make us tense up, and thoughts of violence were on all our minds. My cavalier attitude the day before about not being afraid of the Native Americans was now replaced with an uneasy fear. Morning, and the escape from White River, couldn't come soon enough for us.

 White River, South Dakota. A place I shall never forget. That was a really unsettling evening, and I am not sure any one of us slept all that well that night. Thankfully five hard days on the road made it so we could fall asleep despite being afraid......

Next week: Hopes Dashed

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Minus Ten Review - 47

You get this instead of a big, blank white square.
Ten Years ago on the blog here I was chugging along doing all sorts of things. I was testing product for "Twenty Nine Inches". I was riding a lot. There was Trans Iowa v5 recon going on. There were topics discussed.....

But forgive me if I sound bitter. This period was the height of my trust in the former owner of the "Crooked Cog Network" who had me dumping all my images into a hosting site which he pretty much insisted that I use. He was paying the fee to the hosting company to hold all our images. Unfortunately, it was at about this time that he stopped paying the hosting site and unbeknownst to me one day that hosting site pulled their support of our images and my stuff was gone since it was linked back to that site.

My bad for not backing up my stuff on my own hard drive. It literally showed how naive I was about anything to do with the "innergoogles". Remember, I had only just begun to do anything regularly on the internet just a few short years before this. Basically, I had no real experience doing anything on the computer. In fat, Jeff Kerkove, who pretty much insisted I start blogging, did a lot of my "behind the scenes" formatting in the earlier years here. Once he had left for Ergon, and Colorado, I relied on Tim Grahl for technical assistance.

Then that failed me. This was a pretty big turning point in my life. December and January of 2008/09 were very stressful times for me. I had been hung out to dry by my "employer", who never did come through on any of his promises of paying me. I had no backend support on the site, or for my blog. I didn't know anyone well versed in the things I needed to know that could find time to help me out. In fact, I nearly walked away from all of it back then.

But I didn't, obviously. That story will play out in the coming weeks and months.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Friday News And Views

What does this term even mean anymore?
Retail Burnout:

This last couple of weeks, was bad. Then on Wednesday it got waaaaaay worse, and Thanksgiving Day? No breaks for e-mail bots, apparently. I guess they don't observe familial traditions. Whatever......

I don't know about you, but I didn't even look at the 30+ "Black Friday" e-mails I got and I pretty much tuned out from any media. It's just too damn much anymore and I don't have to listen to it. So, forgive me my little mini-rant here, but retail has gone to the dogs. It is ridiculous. No wonder people shop online. If the traditional retail stores weren't so obnoxious and unceasingly shrill, I'd maybe pay attention. If they weren't offering, mostly, what is going to end up being junk in a couple of months, I'd consider their products. If it all just went away....... Well, that isn't going to happen, now is it?

To be fair, I remember when I was a child that it wasn't really much better. It was just that there were only so many channels of info coming at you, (easily ignored), and it didn't start at all until post-Thanksgiving and went away after December 25th.

Here's hoping you can find peace and wholeness despite the onslaught of garbage info being slung everywhere this season. My advice? Get outside and leave the cell phone off. Good luck.

Decent day for late November. Looks like this will be about it for gravel for a bit though.
Get Out And Ride:

So, continuing on with the escape from madness theme I have going today, I wanted to report that I actually did heed my own advice and went out for a pre-meal ride on Thanksgiving Day.

I took out the Breezer RADAR Expert I have here to test. I figured that with the forecast of "impending doom" that has been issued for Sunday, I had best get my behind on that bike's saddle. It figures. I get a bike to test on gravel and it brings a blizzard. sigh..... I mean, yeah, I have a fat bike, so part of me rejoices. We haven't had decent snow for that activity in quite some time. So, if the forecast 6"-8" of white stuff materializes, I'm ready. Bring it on!

The ride Thanksgiving day was toward the South because the wind was out of the Southeast. I didn't push things too hard since I had been pretty under the weather the weekend before. The roads to start out were still frozen, but as I went things got sloppier. The RADAR Expert was stable and sure-footed on the icy and snowy patches I ran into on the way out. It was smooth on the few rough patches I ran across on the gravel. I ended up putting two hours in on this bike which was enough for Thanksgiving Day. Hopefully y'all had a wonderful day, whatever you did.

Maybe next week will look like this?
Fat And Ready:

Like I said above, if the snow does come, I'm ready. The ol' Blackborow DS will be seeing a lot of action. Maybe you didn't know it, but the Blackborow wasn't always a "cargo/fat bike", or "longtail fat bike", or whatever that thing is they have now. At first it was a cool fat bike and it was offered in a 2 speed, "Parallel Single Speed" drive train option. Some call it "dingle speed". I call it "fun".

The Blackborow DS solved a problem I had which was that I was not getting the kind of flotation I wanted in the 4" tires that I had been on before. Traction was also a big issue. Finally, roaching drive trains in Winter "car slop" commuting back and forth to work was also solved by getting this "rust resistant" drive train on the Blackborow DS. Okay, that's more than one problem this bike solved. 

Anyway, some of my friends have said I need to get that new, longer Blackborow. I'm sure it is good, but it isn't better than what I've already got. My rig pops the front end as high as I need it whenever I want to do that. My rig carries exactly enough, and that's without a frame bag. My drive train is "just enough" and it has lasted four years without any part of it needing replacement. That includes the PressFit bottom bracket. (I know! It is even quiet! Will miracles never cease!) My rig can be easily portaged downstairs into my shop, over logs, or whatever. It's just flat out better.......for me.

There is only one way I'm ever replacing this bike, sans any tragic accident or breakage, and that's if they make it in titanium. I know I could score a custom version in titanium, and maybe someday...... I might just do that, but this bike refuses to let me down, and besides swapping the handle bar for a Carbon Jones Loop Bar, the bike is bone stock. That's a very unusual thing for me to leave a bike alone. I just don't think it can be improved upon.

That's it for this week. Hopefully you get a chance to get out on two wheels this weekend and "Turkey Burn".

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Today is the day when we in the USA try to get together with family and loved ones to celebrate and remember to be thankful.

Actually, in my opinion, everyday should be thanksgiving day. I am pretty blessed to have a family, a wife, a house, a job, and bicycles to mess around with. I've been overwhelmed with good things, and if I don't stop to remember that, and give thanks, well, then I am headed for big trouble.

Anyway, I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I would encourage you, wherever you are, to count your blessings today and everyday. It will make a change in your life, and I bet it will be for the better.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Swing Low, Sweet Bottom Bracket

Scribblin' to illustrate bottom bracket drop. Ahh.....hope that helps!
Sometimes I get comments on the posts I do that are great questions. Questions that deserve to be answered out in the open as opposed to being "just another comment" on a post you won't look at again. (Likely)

So, today I wanted to address a great question that I got on yesterday's post and today I am posting the answer. The Question:

"G-ted, it would be great to hear your thoughts on bb (bottom bracket) drop. I know you have mentioned it before, a refresher would be good or links to your older posts on the topic would be helpful" 

Okay, so first things first. What is bottom bracket drop? This is a feature of geometry that has to do with the relationship in space between the wheel axles and the center line of the crank spindle, (which goes through the bottom bracket shell).  Bottom bracket drop can be "negative", (think BMX bikes where the bottom bracket is higher than the wheel axles) and it can be "high" or "low". The image here, by the way, has my chicken scratches showing a line through the wheel axles and a line through the bottom bracket center line. The distance between the two, (red chicken scratches) is the bottom bracket drop.

This dimension will determine where your pedals describe a circle when you pedal -or not when you coast- in relation to the axles. Why does that matter? Well, it makes a bicycle feel different. "What?!", you may exclaim, "How can a few millimeters one way or the other make any difference at all in bottom bracket drop? You're loony." Well, I would answer by saying, "How about we drop you saddle 5mm and you get back to me after a 100 miles.". Yeah...... That 5mm may mean the difference between trashed knees or a great ride. You can feel that 5mm. You can also feel a 5mm lower bottom bracket. So yes- millimeters matter. 

Twin Six's Standard Rando has a 75mm bottom bracket drop. You can feel that.
 Okay, so here is the big question: What does a lower bottom bracket do for a rider?

Whoa buddy..... Hold on a min. The first thing we need to define is What is "Lower"? We need a base line. So, I will give you one. It's subjective, and my opinion here, but hey! We gotta draw a line somewhere, right?

Before there were "gravel bikes" we had road bikes, touring bikes, and cyclo-cross bikes which were the bikes that made up the majority of rigs using a "road bike standard" drive train set up. Typically road bikes in the USA used "crit geometry". This was, besides other things, a set up that allowed a rider to really lean the bike over in a turn and keep pedaling. That required that the bottom bracket be a "ceratin height" to avoid pedal strikes in corners. Touring bikes, which were not expected to be leaned over in turns and pedaled, were set up with lower bottom bracket heights than "crit geometry" (Not always. Trek being a major offender in this category). The theory being that lower bottom bracket heights put the center of a rider's gravity lower in the bike in relation to the axles, lending a feeling of more stability, among other sundry things that lower bottom bracket does. Cyclo cross bikes, on the other hand, had to be able to clear ruts while pedaling, clear rough grounds, and barriers. Higher bottom brackets were the norm.

So, from lowest to highest we had touring bikes, road bikes, then cyclo cross bikes. My theory back in the early part of this decade was that "gravel bikes", if they were ever to be made, should have lower bottom bracket height, similar to touring bikes. Why? Well, now we can answer that earlier question.....

What does a lower bottom bracket do for a rider? (On a gravel bike) Okay, again- my theory, and it was adopted by Raleigh for the Tamland, was that a lower bottom bracket height was okay because gravel riders typically were not going to pedal corners "criterium style" and we weren't hopping barriers or pedaling in ruts. (Well......Level B Roads notwithstanding) So, the typical cyclo cross bike, especially Euro influenced ones, were running 65mm drops. That is high! Road bikes were typically 70mm. Still too high in my mind. Raleigh was advised by me to go to a 72mm drop. I really wanted a 75mm drop, but I felt that was too radical for Raleigh to accept. In fact, a friend of mine, Ben Witt, and I were bandying about with the idea of a 77-80mm drop! Of course, we were dreaming of 45mm tires and the geometry would work with a big tire. However; in 2010 that did not exist.

650B tires change what you want in a bottom bracket drop
When is a lower bottom bracket a bad thing? So, how low can you go? Well, it depends. I gave a hint above. It will be dictated somewhat by tires. Especially if you want to go with 650B tires at times, or all the time.

I tried 650B tires on the Twin Six Standard Rando, which has a 75mm bottom bracket drop. It was a great bike in most every way with those tires, but I did experience a not insignificant amount of pedal strikes. Even on regular gravel roads. That was a bit of a concern.

In my experience, a 70mm bottom bracket drop is a great compromise dimension for wheel swapping between 700c and 650B. You could probably do a couple millimeters lower. My Tamland seems to be okay at 72mm drop with 650B wheels, but 70 is a figure a lot of companies use already, so that is readily available. Just know that 75 and deeper for a 700c design is going to start to cause pedal strikes when that bike is set up with the smaller 650B wheels and 47mm-ish tires.

Higher bottom brackets really make a gravel rig squirrely  on loose descents. I hate the feeling that the bike gets at speed when descending with a higher bottom bracket. It is unnerving. Lower bottom brackets quiet that down a lot. Let's face it, when you are descending at 30mph+ on loose gravel you are just along for the ride. Having a better feel can be the difference between riding that out, or scrubbing speed and crawling down the hill. I'd rather bomb the down hills, so I like a deeper bottom bracket.

It also is great when you are on the flats on looser gravel as well. I just feel like the wheels are less likely to be skittish over the marbles and that the tires track better. Now, it isn't always great to have a lower bottom bracket. Those lower bottom brackets make it marginally tougher to stand up out of the saddle and hammer, for one thing. So, on a single speed, I would opt for the higher bottom bracket and longer cranks, but that is my opinion.

Anyway, a long winded answer, but there you go. I hope that you find my opinion helpful. Try experimenting with different bikes yourself and make up your own mind. But as for me, I swing that bottom bracket low on my sweet chariot. It's my jam. It may not be for you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Kind Of Like It- But Not

This cuts a similar profile to something I've seen before. Hmmm.....
The whole "Adventure by Bike" deal really got kicked off about ten years ago when Salsa Cycles coined the term and used it as their catch phrase since then. Obviously, back in those days the term "gravel bike" was something only a few Mid-Westerners were even using, let alone aware of.

A lot has changed since those days, obviously. It boggles my mind, to be truthful about it. I never imagined a day when we would have "gravel specific" tires, let alone tubeless ready ones. I could go on........

But one thing always made me scratch my noggin in wonderment since 2008. That being that there are not a lot of Fargo-ish bikes out there. It took several years, but finally a Fargo imitator arose in the Bombtrack Beyond. You don't see many of those around, but it's about as close to a modern take on a Gen 1 Fargo as there is. In fact, I'd like to think it is what the Gen 1 could be today, if Salsa had not "mtb-ified" the concept.

Now that gravel bikes keep pushing the limits on tire sizes, I am starting to see other bikes that are getting "Fargo-ish". 650B and wider tires, knobby patterns, and more "braze-on zits" than you can shake a stick at. One bike that is a bit different than that is from a series that Breezer Bikes has dubbed "RADAR". An acronym standing for Road And Dirt Adventure Rig, this bike reminds me a lot of something that might result if you were to cross a Tamland and a Fargo together. You get the extra braze ons, tire clearance, and mtb drive train from the Fargo matched up with the skinnier steel tubes, geometry, and overall profile of a Tamland. The result here looks pretty cool to me.

While the RADAR Expert I have around for a while to test and review for isn't a Fargo, it is kind of like one. More so than anything that has come around since the Bombtrack Beyond. That's a good thing, if you ask me.

Monday, November 19, 2018

C.O.G. 100 Recon Report

This C.O.G. 100 Iowa Single Speed Gravel Championship idea requires that I follow through with some work. Gotta do my due diligence and come up with a course and then go and look at it. Stuff like actually thinking through logistics, how the roads link up, making it interesting, and of course, it's gotta have hills.

As most of you know, I have a background in doing all of the above. So, you probably won't be too shocked to hear that I scrapped my entire first draft for the course and did an entirely different route the night before recon. The night was short, as I awoke at 5:00am to get ready to be picked up by N.Y. Roll and his dog, Ella, so we could go do the course recon.

The weather was great last week, right up until late Friday night, when it snowed. Of course it snowed! We couldn't go out and recon in perfect conditions, that just wouldn't be right! Well, at least I thought we might be doing recon. I wasn't 100% sure after we passed Traer. They had a bit more snow through there and things were in bad shape as we drove Southward.

We had a bit of a respite on Highway 30, but then as we tried to go South on Highway 146, we found it was closed at LeGrand for the installation of a railway overpass. We ended up following a pick-up truck for several miles on gravel as a workaround. Then eventually, after almost two hours of driving, we made it to Grinnell and the Frontier Cafe.

Breakfast at the Frontier cafe is a must when visiting Grinnell.
After grub time was complete, we headed out to Miller Park and started recon. It was not very good out in the country. Snow was all over the roadway, but we were in a Subaru Crosstrek, so we had that going for us. As we rolled along the flat light of the washed out sky against the all white roadway made for tough conditions as there was little contrast. N.Y. Roll did a great job keeping inbetween the ditches though.

First tracks as we get going on recon.
Later on the air temperature and whatever rays of the Sun that were getting through cleared up the road a bit, but then it got muddier and softer. Just before all of that, we came up on a Level B Road I wasn't prepared for. N.Y. Roll managed to negotiate it just fine, and we considered the options. Well, seeing as how it would be the only mile of Level B in the entire 100+ miles, we are strongly considering leaving it in. We are probably going to have a contingency plan if things look way wet in the Spring where we can avoid it though.

Another thing long time readers of the blog know is that I almost always have an instance to share where I end up saying something like, "This is why we do recon......". Well, just such an instance came up again. This time it was a bridge that is out. A very recent take out which isn't indicated on any map or GPS mapping program. In fact, N.Y. Roll went to bring up an online map at the point we saw the signs and there was no cell service. If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times- You gotta put your eyes on your course to make sure it actually exists. There are no short cuts to this.

So, we will have to re-route around that, but the workaround we used Saturday, I think, will actually do just fine. It kind of throws a wrench into a plan but something else I saw may make up for it. Vague. I know, but details will come out. I'll get back to this later......

N.Y. Roll's Crosstrek got pretty trashed!
So, with the re-route and all I think we are around 110 miles at this point. My inclination is that it may actually be slightly less since the best estimate of distance we have at the moment is N.Y. Roll's odometer. Of course, we backtracked a mile or so, and that's why I feel we will see that 110 figure go down a touch more. I have to dig into the route map again here and get it nailed down.

So......I'm not inclined to make it be exactly 100 miles. It's going to be slightly over that. Now you know.

Convenience store: I had mentioned that I was going to provide an optional course for resupply choice which would make you add even more miles and take away time. Well, my original intention was taken out by the missing bridge, so I was a bit disappointed. That said, the route goes within about 5 blocks or less of a convenience store riders will see from the route while going through a small town at around the 80 mile mark. My inclination is to advise riders to carry ennough food and water to last 80 miles. I think that was always around what I had advised, on average, for Trans Iowa riders, so I think I'm probably going to stick to that.

So, from this point we are going to do another draft of the cues. These will be checked against reality later, probably next year closer to the event. Cues will get printed after final verification. We are looking into getting two "Championship" jerseys readied for the potential winners. Designs are being drawn up for that. The registration details will be finalized very soon. We are pretty sure we are going to have a $25.00 entry fee which will cover insurance. Finally, details that will be on the radar will be finalizing the roster, doing number plates, and getting some venue details finalized. Stay tuned.....

A major hurdle crossed today though. The course will be hilly! Also, we hope that we don't see as much traffic as we saw. We most likely will not, since the reason there was so much traffic was the hunting that was going on.

More soon! 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Touring Series: Prairie Town Horror- Part 1

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

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

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

 The "Race Against Death Tour" moves on from Wood, South Dakota on an extremely brutal, hot day....

Leaving Wood, we encountered some big rolling hills. The combination of the days heat and miles was taking it's toll on me. Well, that and the fact that there wasn't any water in Wood. I ran out of water somewhere on this last stretch of the day's road. I thought I was really done for. This is where one of the enduring phrases describing myself arose from. Right from this moment on this very day.

I was "Barney-ing".

A rare image from the tour of me catching back up with the guys. Image by Troy
I am pretty sure it was Ryan that coined the term. He saw my face as I toiled up a climb he and Troy were waiting for me at the top of. Ryan exclaimed, "He looks like Barney Fife when he had that long face, ya know? He's "Barney-ing"!" Troy saw the resemblance, I guess, and laughed. The term was forever cemented in my mind as what I looked like when I was bonking. Barney Fife. I suppose I could look worse.

Troy said something about the fact that we were all about out of water, but that White River was just up the road, and that we probably should cut the day short, wash clothes, re-supply, and hit it hard the next day. We all agreed to that, then just like that, Troy and Ryan were gone, leaving me to toil up the big rollers in the incessant heat.

I reached the turn off to White River and I could see Troy and Ryan up the road. I was angry, and I suppose the adrenaline helped get me the rest of the way into town. I was going to be really glad to get into a town of a reasonable size, the first since we left Winner, and get something to eat and drink. What I didn't know was that I would never forget White River for other reasons, but at this point, I just wanted this day to come to a merciful end.

As we reached the outskirts of the town we pulled off the highway to the business section of town and found that there wasn't a street. Well.......they had a street, it was just torn up. It was as if they had been doing construction, but the cars were just driving through the dirt. There were no "Road Construction" signs, just some orange netting and some sawhorses with blinking lights here and there. It was a bizarre scene, but that would be just the tip of the iceberg of the strange things that we would find in White River.

White River was an odd town not only for the dirt street in the main business area, but for its retail environment as well. We had some things we needed to do, and laundry was at the top of the list. So we asked about a laundromat, got pointed in the right direction, and headed over to an old wooden business front. At first, we thought there must have been some misunderstanding. This was a joke....right?

What we found was a building with broken out windows, lined along three sides and down the middle with washing machines and dryers, and all were filthy beyond imagination. The dirt and litter was actually drifted up in the corners and against the machines, in some places a foot deep! The watch of the bikes fell to Ryan. Troy and I set about finding a clean enough machine to use for washing. We found two that didn't take much to clean out after looking at about twenty absolutely filth ridden machines. We got change at the hair dressers next door and away we went. About this time, Ryan leans his head in through the open window and says, "I need one of you guys to come out here. NOW!" He had an odd tone to his voice. I asked what the deal was, why did I need to come out? Ryan just motioned his head sideways as if to indicate he couldn't speak in the presence of someone and whispered loudly, "NOW!"

The water situation we had in Wood, and for the rest of the day, really, was only the beginning. It also probably was the cause of the bonk, obviously, but also something else. My getting dropped by Troy and Ryan made me feel abandoned. Keep in mind I had just come out of a divorce due to my former wife getting addicted to meth and leaving me. I didn't put two and two together then, but this would foreshadow a big turning point in my life on this tour in the days to come.

The town of White River, a small town, run down, and at that time in obvious disrepair, was another example of what became a very big impression upon me. We need not go to foreign countries to help with "third world" issues. We have them right here. The disgusting laundromat was just the beginning of our experiences regarding this.......

An editorial note- This post has been combined from two separate posts and the remainder will appear next week with some further, new material. 

 Next Week: The "Race Against Death Tour", stopped at the end of Day Five at White River, South Dakota after a tough 92.14 miles of heat and climbs, continues its weird journey.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Minus Ten Review - 46

The best tasting "post card entry" I ever got for Trans Iowa
Ten years ago on this blog here I was reporting on the registration for Trans Iowa v5. It was one of the first Trans Iowas which featured "tiered" registration. We were letting "Veterans" of Trans Iowa past take first crack at the roster spots and then whatever was left over was fair game to rookies. In this case well over half the roster was opened up to Rookie Class riders. I think the limit was 75 riders back then.

Registration back then was a "controlled chaos' of an affair. I used to have fun with it bacck then. There were flowers, gifts of booze, and even a pizza. Those were the fun times of registration. From about this time till we got to v9 or so. Then it got waaaaay out of hand. But that's another story.

I was also talking about a bike I was testing. It was a Milwaukee Bicycles 29"er. The white frame on that rig was sooooooo smooth! I really loved the way that bike rode. I remember that it was one of those bikes you just wanted to ride all the time. Since I pretty much had to so I could write a good review on the bike, it made that a good problem to have.

The bike had to be shipped back, but I was offered a killer deal on it at that time to keep it. I just didn't think I could afford it, since it was Winter, I was working far less, and money was tight. But if there was one bike I regretted not keeping in all my Twenty Nine Inch reviewing days, that Milwaukee rig would be maybe number one. I can think of one other I would have loved to have kept, but it was a dual sus bike, and nothing like this bike.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday News And Views

Artwork for the special poster for the C.O.G.100
C.O.G. 100 Single Speed Championship Gravel Event Poster:

Okay, between my daughter and I we have done some final tweaking to the C.O.G. 100 poster artwork. This limited edition poster is a joint effort between my daughter, Izabel, and I, and will be printed up in a run of 75 prints. These will be signed and numbered by myself and by my daughter. They will be given away to each attending rider at the inaugural C.O.G. 100.

I posted a version of this on Twitter and someone suggested it would be a great tattoo for the winners. Ah..........yeah........While that may be true, I am not forcing anyone to do that. But, if anyone who wins wants to go get the ink done, who am I to stop them? Tattoos are kind of.......personal. Not something one just has done to them because they crossed some arbitrary finish line first. But hey......that's just me. And I happen to be running this shindig, so...... No.

Anyway.... Course recon will be happening tomorrow. Then I'll draft cues and later on we will do the whole recon thing one more time before the event to verify everything. Doing 100 miles versus over three times that much will be......easy. In relative terms, that is. So, I'm getting off easy now. Plus, I already know most of the route. It isn't like I haven't been on the gravel roads around Grinnell before,ya know?

Just to recap, the C.O.G. 100 will hold registration on January 2nd, 2019. Time TBA, fee TBA. Think around $20.00 though. Shouldn't be far from that figure. Field limit will be 75 folks. Start will be at Miller Park, Grinnell Iowa. Pre-event Meeting will take place promptly at 7:00am and the event proper will start promptly at 8:00am. Cues will be handed out just prior to the event at the pre-event meeting. NO GPS FILES FOR THE COURSE WILL BE GENERATED BEFOREHAND. Self-supported, NO PASS THROUGH TOWNS*.

*Note- I am running the course near a town with a convenience store. An "alternative route" will lead you through this town to get supplied. IT WILL ADD EXTRA MILES. So, if ya gotta resupply, you will suffer a mileage and time penalty by default. If not, well...... Then you decide to take that chance.

Ooooo! Purrrrrrrple!
New Twin Six Standard Rando Color:

While the frame and fork remain the same as they have been for a few years now, the color is new. Actually, Twin Six does fantastic colors on the Standard Rando every so often. About the only clunker in the bunch, in my humble opinion, was the white with green stripes. Otherwise...... Winning.

And the winningest color so far is the newest. Purple, of course, because.....Minneapolis. What other color could it have been?

Sometimes I wonder what may have happened if Prince had liked, yellow. Keep everything else the same, just yellow. Well........maybe not. "Yellow Rain" would not have had the same feel as it did being "Purple Rain", now would it? No. Ah......okay. 'Nuff of that nonsense.

Twin Six needs to upgrade this design though. It needs to be through axles and it needs more tire clearance. They claim 700 X 43, but trust me, this is a 700 X 38mm tire bike, maximum. 650B wheels and tires actually work really well, but here again, you should stick to 650B X 47. Lots of folks are thinking 700 X 45 and 650B X 2" now, so I think it is high time for T-6 to redesign this model. Color changes only go so far. That said, it is a fantastic riding bike. I really liked mine. 

Anyway, you should get a purple bike. Salsa Cycles is doing a super cool purple Vaya as well. so, get yer purple on and look at these rigs.

68 years ago this was new.
Radio Radio.....

And now for something completely different!

My boss at the shop collects a few oddball things. Clocks, old camera equipment, and of late he has been the recipient of some old tube radios. (For you U.K. readers, that would be valve powered radios) Anyway, he got one the other day and showed it to me yesterday. I thought it was pretty rad. So, he decided to let me have it.

It is a 1950 Crosley. It has 5 Crosley branded vacuum tubes in it, (Here is a blog post from a radio repair site about the guts of this if you want to geek out. Click here) . It is AM only, of course, and it does work. Anyway, I think it is pretty cool.

The knob on the left turns the unit on and you have to wait to let the tubes warm up before anything happens. Then the knob on the right is the tuning dial and that is connected to the pointer in the center by a rubber "O" ring type belt which rotates pointer to indicate which station frequency you are picking up. 

Of course, there are not many AM radio stations operating anymore. But this reminds me of when I was younger. You had to have patience and sit and try to "tune in" whatever you could find out there. Now days everything is more direct. If your selected web site doesn't load instantaneously, you get frustrated. Heck, with this old gizmo you might take five minutes, or more, just to fine tune in a station to get the best reception. Thunderstorms in the area? Fahgeddaboudit! You were listening to every lightning strike!

Anyway, I hope y'all enjoyed seeing this old relic of days gone by.

Have a great weekend and as always- Thanks for reading G-Ted Productions!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Like Cake, Only Grittier

Gravel roads have been "Winterized" for the most part around here.
Wednesday I waited until it warmed up about as much as it was going to for the day before heading out for a quick jaunt South of town. I used the Bubblegum Princess with the Enve wheels attached and those fancy new Northwave boots with the long name. The Sun was out and it was looking pretty outside.

It's that time of year again and the light from the Sun is......weird. I've mentioned this in years past, but I never cease to be fascinated by this phenomenon. I suppose it has something to do with the lower angle of the Sun relative to Earth where I am at. Plus, the Sun was already Westering and it was probably more like riding in twilight than what I am used to for mid-afternoon Sun.

One thing the images here won't convey and that is that the wind was up and constantly blowing right at me as I went South at 20mph. Steady. It made for a rough go because the roads going South were all freshly graveled for Winter. Big, dusty, chunky goodness. All the way across the road.

I was headed down Ansbourough and I had decided I should climb that long climb up Petrie, then maybe go down Beck Road South a bit more. But after I reached the intersection with Petrie Road, I decided I had done enough pushing into the wind for one day. I headed straight West toward the Level B section of Petrie Road. I didn't think it would be dried up all the way yet, but I figured what moisture there was had frozen by now. Of course, it was above freezing as I rode, but it hadn't been for several days. I figured I'd be okay.

Surprise! It was wall to wall mud and water almost right out of the gate.
Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. Petrie Road was not only wet, but tore all up from harvesting machinery. I had to dismount just to get around some standing water, and the tread marks, ruts, and sand were treacherous until I passed the field opening where it seemed that the heavy machinery veered off into the adjacent corn field. That field was now empty. Just like every other field around now. Bonus- now there is absolutely nothing to hold up the wind! 

I moseyed on up the hill and as I went along the roadway here was sandy and underneath that the dirt was cake-like. My tires were doing the "pizza cutter" thing and resistance was high. I ended up having to dismount for a bit and walk along in the now dead weeds to avoid a short section that was not cake-like, but outright muddy. Once around that, it was difficult to get going again due to the spongy ground, but I managed to ride up to the top of the hill where that puddle of water almost always is.

The good news was that, while the mud was bad, it wasn't overwhelming. I could bounce the bike and knock a lot off that way. My boots still engaged the pedals. Mud wasn't fouling the wheels. So, not a disaster, like I thought it might have been. adventure! Once at the top I dismounted and got out my camera to shoot a few images for the reviews and then I just looked around a bit. It's a great place to see Northward since you can see Hudson, Waterloo, and everything in between from this ridge. I spied cattle grazing in a field not far off and decided to grab that image on this trip.

Cattle grazing with the outliers of Hudson in the distance. 
Water up top and more dead ahead in the distance to deal with. 
Cue the angelic voices......
Onward now and the descent off the ridge was hairy. LOTS of ruts, softer, muddier places, and I was feathering the brakes. Being very careful not to slip up and end up dumping myself into the mud . I also didn't want to cake up the wheels any worse than I had already.

I hopped off a couple of times briefly to negotiate water and mud, and then at the bottom there was a long stretch of hike-a-bike. Oddly enough, even though I was bushwhacking a lot through tall, dead weeds, I didn't get any stickers all over my wool socks. I had expected to look like a weedy, seedy mess, but I actually came out looking just fine.

The turn North was....whoa! Fast! That wind was kicking me straight up the road and I was carrying 18-20mph with little effort. Downhill speeds were higher. The road was chunky, of course, and the handling was a bit sketchy at times due to that. So, I wasn't able to just sit there for the ride. I had to pay attention or I may have eaten dust instead.

But all was well and I made it back okay. It was a perfect ride from the standpoint of length and effort. I'm very glad I decided not to go further into the wind. My body was dead tired afterward. Time to clean up the bike and get ready for the next nice day I have a chance to ride........