Saturday, August 17, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-35

The last one. The ill-fated 2009 Big Wheeled Ballyhoo poster.
Ten years ago this week on the blog there was a LOT of 29"er news. Gary Fisher Bikes, (remember that brand?) announced their new MTB's for 2010. It would be the last year that Gary Fisher would be a stand alone brand. But, of course, we didn't know that then.

I also had news of a 29" Maverick American bike with one of those Maverick American forks on it. Remember THAT brand?

Weird handle bars were still a big deal back then and several were introduced into the market. What was it about 29"ers and "alt bars"? Gotta say this- 29 inch wheeled bikes really opened up a can-o-worms not just in the wheel size realm, but in several other areas as well.

I also announced the details on the 2009 Big Wheeled Ballyhoo. While it didn't all turn out the way I wanted it to, due to a family emergency and weather, this was the version I had in mind from the beginning. No vendors. No hoopla. Just a bunch of yahoos getting together to ride 29"ers. In fact, it was still too tied to media and the industry for my tastes. But whatever..... It was what it was.

Ah! The "what ifs" about this idea still haunt me to this day. Had I not listened to Tim Grahl and just done it my way, ya know? But you cannot re-live the past. Only learn from it. In fact, the failures of the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo actually reinforced my desires to do better and to "do it my way" in regard to Trans Iowa. The lessons from this deal finally pushed me out of "Twenty Nine Inches" and into doing something else I really wanted to do. The lessons of the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo helped me to end Trans Iowa in the way I wanted to do it.

So, while on the surface of it, the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo may seem like a colossal failure, it was not. It gave me some good lessons in life. It helped me forge friendships and I owe a lot to the event for that. Yes- I have regrets. But had it not gone the way that it did, who knows what my life would be like now.

Not as good, I bet.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday News And Views

Knolly Bikes steel Cache frame which is progressive and forward thinking- NOT carbon! Image courtesy of Knolly Bikes
It's Not Carbon Fiber?!!

A new gravel bike gets introduced. Big deal, right? Probably another carbon framed, "same-as-the-last-verse" deal. Well, not this time! Not only that, but this bike is steel, and it isn't some neo-classic, rando deal either. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. But it is expected more so than this)

Nope, Knolly, who did a turn with a similar design in titanium earlier this year, have rendered this design in steel. Steel is less expensive than titanium, and while I'd love a Ti version of this bike, a steel one is more attainable. I also happen to like the Sky Blue Camo color option. (pictured here) You don't normally paint Ti, so a nice paint scheme over steel, that's kind of neat right there as well.

Of course, I don't really need another bike, but...... If I keep on with RidingGravel.com, I do need to do something about the Tamland Two. It isn't up to date with through axles and what not, where this Knolly rig is, and if I replace the Tamland, I'd rather that bike be steel than not. This Cache fits the bill. Plus it would be both 700c and 650B compatible, and it can handle 2X or 1X, which is helpful.

So, the interest is there, but right now isn't a good time for me to invest. We'll have to wait and see......

The jersey I'll be wearing for Gravel Worlds celebrates their tenth year of the event.
Gravel Worlds #10:

A decade of Gravel Worlds is about to pass by after this weekend's running of the Pirate Cycling League's tongue-in-cheek take on Pro roadie World Championships. Of course, it isn't really a Worlds of gravel. But that never stopped the PCL from just running with that presumptuous idea and poking holes at what was going on in the Pro ranks.

The event is just the PCL's irreverent, punk rock attitude put into an event which initially was designed to be a challenge, fun, and all-inclusive. The event grew out of what was the "Good Life Gravel Adventure", and for all intents and purposes, if you had attended the last GLGA and the first Gravel Worlds, you'd have noticed barely anything was different. (I happen to have done this very thing) For all intents and purposes, the Gravel Worlds of today is about as "Good Life Gravel Adventure" as it gets. Just an evolution over a decade, really, and the fact that there are more folks riding now. The first Gravel Worlds had 96 riders. This coming one? Over 300.

Signing up at "race central" (The former Oso's restaurant in Lincoln) for the 1st Granel Worlds
 Ten years is a long time to run an event. Figure 12 if you include the previous two GLGA events that preceded Gravel Worlds. The PCL is celebrating its accomplishment by offering a cool poster at the pre-Race get together, and I may have to buy one. I have the limited edition, one of 50 first GW poster on my wall right now. It needs a friend, don't you think? Ha! Well, maybe I will get that poster, we'll see.

Anyway, Gravel Worlds is still, in many ways, the GLGA it always has been, but the PCL guys have managed to bring in the more competitive, "pointy" end of athleticism and its attendant trappings. This all co-exists with the down-home, grassroots feel they always have had, but it also brought some unwanted attention back in 2017. Well, actually, myself and my partner Ben at RidingGravel.com were the ones that got the unwanted attention first. You know, when you get an e-mail with this heading: "Subject: Illegal use of the UCI Rainbow colours - gravel worlds", well, THAT grabs your attention straight away! Especially when it really is the UCI that is getting upset with you!

I won't get into details, but that e-mail eventually got directed to the proper party, and this is why the Gravel Worlds "theme" for their jerseys and merch has changed. Another pitfall of being an event promoter and being a bit subversive. Lawyers don't have a sense of humor. Trust me- I know from a T.I.v8 incident involving the mocking of a certain vegetable juice can design.


So, here we are. Ten years of Gravel Worlds and I'll be there to ride it. Expect a full report starting on Monday.

Low water crossing at the DK200 in 2015
 It's A Risky Business:

Well, you know, every so often I see stories about how gravel events aren't doing it right, and the story writer continues on to "set us all straight on how it could/should be".

sigh!

Okay, so here's my take on the linked article above from Marshall Opel, a road Pro at one time, and the guy Cyclingtips pegged for their "Endless Gravel Summer" tour of sorts, with sponsorship and some support from several industry brands.

The premise of the article is to "do away with finish lines", or some such malarkey. I have to wonder if he felt the same way when he was racing on pavement, but we do not know. Anyway..... Several misguided assertions are made here which, unfortunately, are going to lead not more than just a few folks off into the weeds. Here's the deal as I see it.

Mr. Opel, first off, got himself injured, and I wish him a speedy and full recovery. He is a fellow human, and I don't like seeing anyone get hurt. Now as for what he wrote, well, for one thing, he seems to assert that "gravel, in its current state, is not optimized for racing", and then states that without road closures most events are really just group rides.

Wow. 

Thank you for letting us in on that secret, Mr. Opel. Thousands of us had no idea we weren't racing, but were on "just big group rides taking advantage of low-traffic areas".

Mr. Opel then goes on to describe a couple of events that take the greyhound chase out of the events a bit, which is fine. Gravel events like this have existed for well over a decade. Had Mr. Opel done even just a little research, he could have informed readers that there are literally hundreds of different types of gravel events, one or two sure to suit anyone's desires for full-on competition, or all the way down to chill group rides for adventure. It would have been easy to have just written about how those choices have existed for all this time. Apparently, Mr. Opel doesn't know, or neglected to tell us these facts.

And when you know those events have existed and are available, well then- you can do what is comfortable for you to do, if "comfort" and "safety" are what concerns you.

Then, curiously, we get a somewhat detailed accounting of how Mr. Opel got injured in the heat of "racing", (I guess it could have just been "just a big group ride" if the roads weren't closed), and ended up getting some internal hardware from his mishap. He admits to making an error in judgment, then states, "... you do what you can to hedge risk while knowing full well that shit happens in races. It’s a part of the game."

And that's it, really. Full stop. It's a "risky business, this riding bicycles, and when you sign that waiver, you assume the risk." And like ol' Mike Curiak told me once, "If you don't like that, maybe this event isn't for you." Find something you are comfortable with. Those events are out there. Tons of them.

Gravel racing, (or big group rides.....whatever), are dangerous. They are not like Pro road events for a reason. Without the danger, the risk, then what is there? A fun, chill group ride? That's fine, if that is what you want. But thousands of people sign on for these "races", and yes- some of them are going to crash, some of them are in over their heads, and some of them are inexperienced riders. It's a beautiful mess where everyone gets to try to figure it all out together. You should know that going in, and if you don't, you are ill-informed. No one is making you enter these events. You do not have to ride in them.

That's why we always said "You Are Responsible For You". It means that you assume risk, that you assume research into the activity beforehand, and that you accept that sometimes, as Mr. Opel so eloquently put it, "...that shit happens in races." 

Have a great weekend, y'all. Get out and ride some bicycles!



Thursday, August 15, 2019

Remembering A Milestone

You know, it is very ironic that I became a person that writes so many things. If you'd had known me as a kid, you would have never guessed this would have happened.

My earliest memory of writing was when I was in the second grade at Lincoln Elementary School in Charles City, Iowa. Mrs Scmidt had me for a special section in English. My regular teacher was Mrs. Ruesch, who was, for some reason, not teaching this section. Anyway, the assignment for several days was to write a story about some random image given to you on the spot.

I remember having a severe case of what you might call "writer's block", although I did not know I was a writer at the time. I just have a vivid memory of staring at an image one day in class and feeling a tremendous pressure to perform which paralyzed me. Somehow I overcame it, because I remember subsequent days afterward I was able to write things.

Then there was the sophomore year in high school. We were supposed to have English taught by a teacher, but she fell victim to what was described as to us as a "nervous breakdown" just before the year started. So we had substitute teachers. One we ran out of the class room by our poor behavior. The other was so laid back nothing mattered, and so I did not learn anything at all about English in high school as that was my last English class I ever had. I guess that means the last "real" English class I had was in 9th grade. So, you are reading stuff from a guy with a 9th grade English education and no formal training in journalism, writing, or editing whatsoever.

Why go into all of this? Well, yesterday I got one of those "Facebook Memories" notifications that reminded me that seven years ago I got published in my favorite MTB magazine, "Dirt Rag". It was a feature story for that particular issue and was all about the history of 29" wheeled bicycles. Now think about that for a minute. They could have asked a LOT of other folks to write that piece. Gary Fisher? Wes Williams? (Built the first 29"er and advocated for "The Tire" to be made) Maybe even one of their own staff could have written it, say Maurice Tierney, a Mountain Bike Hall Of Fame member himself and one that witnessed the entire 29"er thing alongside of those that developed it. Maybe some others, say like Bob Poor, who was intimately familiar with 29"er development and had the first 29"er specific website.

But, for whatever reason, I got the call. Me. A poorly educated bike mechanic from Iowa. Go figure......

So, forgive me please for bothering you today with something from the past. I am still amazed and blown away that my life has taken the turns that it has taken. This memory from 2012 is another one of those milestone moments in my life that fits into the "I can't believe I did THAT!" files.

Thanks for allowing me to reminisce. Thanks for reading, as always! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Dialing In The Set Up: Part 3

Getting the dashboard set up for Gravel Worlds
Monday the course cues for Gravel Worlds were released into the wild. I did what I always do- I printed them, folded them, and covered them in packing tape. This year there are a few more cues, so not as many big, long straight sections.

I set up everything on the bike as I will have it Saturday and took a short cruise to ensure nothing is going to tick me off. I'll also do a short gravel cruise today to test out the stability of everything. Gravel is like a paint shaker. If it isn't attached securely, there will be trouble!

So, here's a good example of why I love the Luxy Bar. I really get annoyed if I have to set up my light off-center. So, the way I have my Bar Yak cue sheet holder set up means the cues have to be offset to the left side of the bar. That means the Lezyne GPS mount has to go on the right side. To allow enough room for the light and the GPS to co-exist, I had to slide the mount over to the right on the bar. Now, notice that my mount for the GPS is a 31.8mm clamp mount. See how far to the right that mount clamps? Try that with a tapered center bar from any brand. Ain't-a-gunna work. The Luxy Bar, with its full 31.8mm diameter from ramp to ramp, makes this a non-issue.

The cues are such that when I get one sheet done I just flip the card over, re-clamp it, and I'm good through the next page, then I can take that page, once front and back cues have been passed, and discard it. The funny thing about the first page is I probably won't even need to use it. I'll just follow the stream of blinky lights. Last year I think I was in the middle of the second page before I figured I probably should start paying attention to the road names. It's not an issue as long as you remember to start your computer at the start line. I forgot to do this in 2017, and it made for some "interesting" calculations out on the course that day.

I had a little bit of a scare Tuesday morning on the commute to work. I had to negotiate the presence of  a couple of construction vehicles on the "island" at the interchange with Greenhill Road and University Avenue. The position of the vehicles was such that I had a strip of ground about two to three feet wide between the curb and traffic and the vehicles. As I passed by, something flipped up and severely smacked my bottom bracket and left crank arm. It was like someone hit the bike with a ball peen hammer. Immediately afterward I felt the rear tire go all squishy. I made it to work, but when I checked the pressure it was around 10psi.

Did I destroy a brand new Schwalbe G - One? I checked the tire over and found no outward visible evidence of sealant leakage. Either I burped the tire or I had an internal failure in the rim strip which healed itself. At any rate, I pumped the tire up at 9:00am to 30psi and its been good since.

Today I go shopping for nutrition and start packing. It's very nearly go time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Ti Muk 2 Upgrade Path: Part 3

Here you can see the Salsa rear rack on the Ti Muk 2
The story on my finishing out the Ti Muk 2 is coming to a conclusion soon. It has been a while since the last update on the progress on this path, so for a refresher, click here.

Basically I was going after three things: New tubeless tires with less rolling resistance than the 45NRTH "beist" combo that I got it with was the first thing. Terrene Cake Eaters solved that problem quite nicely. The next two things were tied together and had to do with the rear tail light of the generator system the bike has.

The bike came with a Busch & Muller Secula stay mounted tail light, and honestly, I think it is a great light, but it comes in a plastic housing. I just find that to be an untenable solution for adventure biking or gravel travel since things can get pretty rough and tumble at times. Plastic housed tail light? Seems like a break waiting to happen. Added to that was the fact that a seat stay mounted light on a fat bike seems like a really bad idea when I think about mud, snow, and other trail debris that gets tossed, churned, and ground up between the rear tire and frame members of a fat bike. (At least that's been how I have observed things going. If you never run your fat bike on anything but groomed trail, please disregard this)

So, it was imperative to me that the seat stay mounted light get replaced and mounted either on the seat post, or..... as it turned out, a rear rack was an option. I decided against the seat post mounting since I may want to use a big seat pack  on this bike, and that wouldn't work well with a light that is "tethered" to a hard wired system. The rack was a better choice, and that also opens up options to use panniers, or a trunk bag/dry bag set up in the future.

So, I needed to get a rack. There were several good choices, but in the end, it was the Alternator Rack which won out. There were a few reasons for this, not least of which was the fact that it was designed for this bike. That it was one of the lighter weight choices didn't hurt matters either. So, I got that in and installed. It's been out of the way and unnoticeable when riding, so no noises, no interfering with off piste ramblings. Bonus- It has dynamo tail light mount holes at the rear. Perfect for many option out there which would work with my SON 28 hub on the Ti Muk 2.

I was shocked at how small this light is. The light shows red at night despite the clear lens.
So, I ended up landing on the SON "Tail Light For Rack" rear light. (NOTE- This also is available as a seat post mounted light) It mounts right to the rear plate on my Alternator Rack, and it is so tiny as to be really out of the way when it comes to the rough and tumble lifestyle I lead with my fat bikes.

The housing is anodized aluminum and despite its tiny size, it has some decent heft. Not that this matters, but my confidence is boosted when something has a solid, in-hand feel as opposed to a thin, plastic shell for a housing. I was pleased to see that it comes with a sturdy looking lead which is much nicer than the two flimsy looking wires the Bush & Muller tail light had. I will route the lead up along with the rear brake line on the frame and tuck the remaining distance along the rack so it will be out of the way and unobtrusive in case I decide to use panniers.

I got extra spade connectors and some shrink tubing along with the tail light, so all I have to do is route the thing carefully, connect the spades to the lead ends and connect it up. Hopefully it all comes together well and I have a functioning light system when I am finished. Once I get everything done I will have a final post on the lighting and tire upgrade which will detail out the performance upgrade each part brings to the Ti Muk 2. Then I'll be ready for some adventuring. (As if I haven't been doing some already, but, ya know........)

Monday, August 12, 2019

Dialing In The Set Up - Part 2

The Fargo Gen I set up so far. Nearly there!
Well, the tires came in that I wanted to try and they are now set up on the WTB Frequency Team i23 rims/American Classic hubbed wheels I've had for a long time. I do have some carbon rimmed wheels I could have used, but I didn't because, well......I didn't want to mess with swapping end caps and taking off some tires I would have been putting right back on after Gravel Worlds is over.

Anyway, I chose these tires when I learned that they cam in a 29" X 2.35" width. Why? Here's why.......

The gravel in Nebraska, especially around Lincoln, is sandy. Loose, inconsistent spots of roadway are not uncommon. Skinny tires + heavy guy = pizza cutter. Fatter tires are best from my experiences that I have had down there since 2009. Probably some of the best tires I ever used on Nebraska gravel around the Lincoln area were Bontrager XR-1's. The original ones, which were never tubeless rated. Anyway, finding tires like that since then has been hard to do.

I'd seen G-One tires before, of course, and I have ridden a 35mm version of them, which was not a good experience, so I never really paid much attention to G-One tires after that. However; while at work the other day it came up that these G-One tires came in a 2.35" width, and suddenly I was very interested. (See description of Nebraska gravel above)

Not much for tread there, but a LOT of volume and light weight should make for a great tire for Gravel Worlds.
I got the tires mounted Saturday and it wasn't easy. I probably should have put on fresh tape, but....I'm a bit of a skinflint, and the old tape looked good yet. That said, fresh tape in two layers would have made the setting up of these tires far easier. But since I did not use fresh tape, and the fit on the WTB rims was, well.....on the looser side, it became an issue of perseverance and eventually I won out. I was a bit skeptical about these holding air well because they weigh 553/556 grams and that is really light for 29" X 2.35" tires. Of course, they held air just fine into Sunday. I'll keep a close eye on these and I will be riding the bike as my commuter this week just to get things solidly set up.

Of course, the light weight should be no surprise when you consider that these have basically no tread to speak of. There are those tiny knobs, but whatever. Seriously.......do you think they do anything? I doubt they add anything to traction except that they do boost your psychological mind set into a false belief that these knobs can do something. Basically, these are reverse dimples on a golf ball sort of deal. They probably are more an aero thing than they are traction. These are "textured slicks" in reality.

Not much room left there.
These are the most voluminous tires I have had on the Fargo in many a year. I mentioned that I tried 2.8" 27.5 tires on this bike once, but other than that, I have used mostly 2.0-2.1 tires. These G - Ones seem to be the "real deal", and they measure out at just a shade over 59mm at less than 30psi.

Speaking of psi- I think I'll be able to run something in the 20's, but this week I will be experimenting with dialing that in. I first ran the front and rear, on the initial test ride, at 30psi. That was obviously too harsh. However, I did note straight away that these tires roll like crazy. And, of course, why wouldn't they? They better roll like crazy since they have no tread to slow them down to speak of.

In other news on my set up, I have added my Bar Yak cue sheet holder, my Lezyne GPS computer, and a Topeak saddle bag with two tubes, repair kit, and an extra bottle of sealant. The final bits will be nutrition and stashing that on the bike in my Bike Bag Dude Garage top tube bag. I'll also have a Bike Bag Dude Chaff Bag which I may use for a bottle or I may use it to store food as well. Water will be dealt with by using the six bottle cage mounts on the bike. Re-supply on water is available on route at about ten-ish miles after a 40 mile opening stretch. There is also about a 9 mile stretch to the finish after the last opportunity.

So far, so good.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: News On The Series

The logo developed by Jeff Kerkove for the event in 2004
The other day in my "Friday News And Views" post, I had a bit on Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Kutilek, USMC and it gave me a bit of an idea.

Now, I had said my stories would be more about people involved in Trans Iowa, but that thought was based upon my personal recollections, not so much from an interview, or video format of a rider, like the one from Friday. I thought that story was really compelling, and that led me to think about something.

My idea would maybe be a bit far ranging, maybe hard to pull off, but I have to try this. I just think it will add a lot to the tales of Trans Iowa. So, here's my thoughts: Why not send questionnaires, ask for interviews, do a podcast, and even maybe get a video, and post those occasionally where they make sense to. So, as an example, the story about Matthew Kutilek would make more sense while I was telling stories about v12, or v14, both of which he was involved in.

So, that's it, really, other than what I would call those, which would be "The Story Behind The Rider". These wouldn't be guaranteed on a regular basis, and it depends upon who wants to talk, and who doesn't want to. In the meantime, if this sounds like a great idea, sorta okay, or dumber than a box of rocks, let me know, please? And while you are at it, is there anyone you want to know more about?

Thanks for reading!

Trans Iowa Stories: Tales Of v2 Part 1

On a solo recon of the T.I.v2 course west of Hawarden
 "Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

Trans Iowa v2. The mere mention of this event evokes shudders and images of suffering and pain which are vivid even a decade plus after the event. (So I am told by those who were in the event) This was the Trans Iowa which set up this event as one having legendary status. But before we get to the muddy details of that weekend, we need to go back to the very beginnings of Trans Iowa.

Remember when I posted about meeting Richard "Deke" Gosen at the beginning and his question to us? That question was,"What if no one finishes? Are you prepared for that?". But there were others that day which I did not write about, and haven't for years. Mr. Gosen had another question dealing with our policies concerning weather and the running of Trans Iowa. He asked us if we were willing to run this challenge despite weather by saying, "What if it rains? Snows, or hails?"

We affirmed him that weather wasn't going to stop this deal, and he was pleased with our resolve to not shrink to the wills of those who wouldn't want to ride in inclement weather. With that thought firmly affixed into Trans Iowa's DNA, we forged ahead. The "true test" of our resolve did not come until T.I.v2 though.

Of course, we needed to have the event in order ahead of the date. Jeff had started negotiating with Ergon by the Winter of '05/'06. So, with Jeff's busy schedule, the recon, route finding, and much of being the "face" of the event on the Endurance thread on MTBR.com became my responsibility. Jeff still handled the sponsors and house finding for participants. He also facilitated the online registration for T.I.v2, which as far as I can find was $30.00, a ten dollar increase over the 2005 entry fee.

A Level B road near Britt, Iowa that was to be in Trans Iowa v2. No one got this far though.
Recon was a tedious task. I could only manage to get about 1/3rd of it done at a crack due to the distances involved in just getting up to the course. We had decided to run a completely different course this time to keep the navigation factor in the event. More detailed course notes were kept during recon, which made the going slow, to facilitate this. I did all the initial recon solo and Jeff came along for a "drive through" of the course in February of 2006.

At the behest of Mike Curiak, I included many more of the Level B Maintenance roads into the course. In fact, on the western end, I had 14 or 15 miles, sometimes two and three miles at a crack. Eastern Iowa had few, if any, Level B roads, so I figured on packing in as many as possible in the front half of T.I.v2. This became a big mistake, as we shall learn later. The T.I.v2 course actually only had about 4 miles of dirt road in it after the Algona checkpoint!

There was some banter about a "return bus" from Decorah before v1, but this talk amped way up afterward for v2. People were asking Jeff and I to charter a bus, or get an old school bus rounded up to haul riders and gear back across the state. Neither Jeff or I were into any of this talk. First of all, it would cost us a LOT of money, and we were "shop rats" on a basic pay schedule with ZERO benefits. We already were spending far too much on this as it was, and making entry fees higher to recover any costs was not where we wanted to go with Trans Iowa. Secondly, neither one of us had a CDL to drive a bus anyway. In the end, one of the T.I. pioneers, Ward Budweg, arranged for something, but it turned out not to be necessary. This was also a factor in forcing us to adopt a loop course format.

Finally, all along we were getting other "suggestions" on how we were supposed to run this event. Most were suggestions which were things that would make the event easier. Of course, Jeff and I rejected all of those suggestions out of hand. We had to make the "maybe this event isn't for you" statement several times, and then it kind of dawned on me back then what we had and what people thought we were doing. They were two different things.

What we were presenting was something maybe a bit new. A challenge more than a "race" proper. It wasn't about age groups, men, women, or who won anything as much as it was about seeing what you could do. What was possible? How far could you push yourself, and your equipment, and how well could you make critical decisions along the way. This wasn't about anything else other than each person's own goals and possibilities. That said, it was also about being very careful about whether one should take this big step.

This was also about my own journey as a person who could figure out an event, how to run it, and how to set it up. Jeff helped a ton with this in the very beginning, but as T.I.v2 drew closer, it was evident that it may not last. Trans Iowa may only be a two event deal. I just couldn't see running it without Jeff at that point. I relied on Jeff so much that I didn't see that I could run the event without him, although I think at the time Jeff was cunningly setting me up for just such a thing.

We were coming back from a Frostbike trip when we crossed the Minnesota/Iowa border. The sign welcoming us to Iowa was there and Jeff said, "Maybe someday it will say, 'The Home of Trans Iowa'". I laughed, but that moment stuck with me. I was feeling Jeff was leaving to go somewhere else in life, yet he was saying Trans Iowa might last until it became famous? I couldn't figure it out, even then. But while the state line sign never did say that, the event would go on to become a much bigger deal than I ever dreamed.

Next: Tales Of v2 Part 2

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-34

Image by Jacob Stevenson, aged 6yrs at the time.
Ten years ago on the blog I was talking about 29"er stuff, as usual. It seemed that for the upcoming 2010 season, a lot of carbon fiber framed 29"ers were being talked about. That pretty much solidified the wheel size as one that wasn't going away anytime soon.

It also bears mentioning that this was happening alongside 26" FS development in the 5" travel arena. These bikes were the focus of most MTB-entrenched brands yet at that time. Also, keep in mind that up until this point, the much ballyhooed 27.5" wheel size was largely missing in action. It had been introduced in 2007, but made barely a dent in the scene.

What we did not know, in the general public view, was that most companies were plotting the demise of 26" wheeled FS rigs and about to unleash the 27.5" "enduro bike" on the scene. When that happened, the brakes got slammed on 29"er R&D, and marketing dollars went toward the smaller sized wheels instead. Of course, that has since swapped positions in recent times.

The other thing I was mentioning was also a sea change, but a local one. At this time, the "South Side" of Camp Ingawanis became the preferred, or to be more correct, our only choice for trails not sullied by horses and destroyed by equestrian events. The Camp proper would still be the best terrain for trails, but as long as the Boy Scouts have it, that future is murky at best. But at any rate, it was in late 2009 when things got refocused on the South Side and much more trail development occurred there after this date. The North side?

Sadly, it fell out of favor due to the horse issues and hasn't been a thing in a decade.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Friday News And Views

Diamondback and a couple of other brands were sold off recently for a dollar.
I'd Buy That For A Dollar:

The bicycle business is in a tumultuous state of flux. The latest evidence being the sale of Diamonback, Redline, and Izip brands by their former owner, Accell Group N.V., to investment company Regent LP., who happen to have recently purchased Mavic.

You can read the dry details of this story here on "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News". The reported sale price for the three brands was one U.S. dollar.

The Raleigh brand, which Accell calls one of their "global cycling brands" will be distributed in the U.S. market with Regent LP on a two year agreement. The Raleigh, Diamondback, and Redline brands were sold in a separate sale in the Canadian market to Canadian Tire, according to the "BRAIN" report.

Several years ago the Diamondback brand wasn't making a killing, but it did have a separate identity and served as the mountain biking brand alongside of Raleigh, which basically stayed out of any "serious" mountain biking product. It was typically sold to dealers as a package- Raleigh and Diamondback, which made a bit more sense. Redline, for its part, mostly a BMX brand, was handled by distributor Seattle Bicycle Supply (SBS). Redline did a decent business in BMX, cyclo cross, and urban bikes back then.

When Accell stepped in, they scooped up all of these brands, homogenized Diamondback, Raleigh, and Redline, much in the same way General Motors did with their sub-brands, and basically made them so similar, one to another, that only the paint jobs and decals were different. Accell then sold Diamondback as a department store/big box retailer brand, primarily through Dick's Sporting Goods, and further muddied the waters. When both Diamondback and Raleigh circumvented their local bike shop dealers further by selling direct on-line, the North American market support from those dealers fizzled into thin air. Oh, and SBS? Accell shuttered that distribution company years ago. Again, alienating their local bike shop customers.

So, when Accell looked at North American markets for their brands recently, they saw a deficit. (duh) This precipitated the sale, and of course, after so many years of torpedoing their base customers in the US, it is no wonder the brands were sold for a measly buck. By the way, Accell is the number one distributor of HPC's (e-bikes) in Europe. So, that should give you an idea of their main focus. European stock markets and financial people were pleased that Accell, as the industry news source "Bike Europe" so succinctly put it, "....has been able to get rid of its troublesome subsidiary that showed rapidly growing losses."

It will be interesting to see what Regent LP does with Diamondback and Redline. Recent news stories suggest that they are keen on reviving Mavic as a leader in component sales and having a bicycle brand to market along side of that maybe is what they were after. One thing is for sure- times are a changin'. 


Ashton Lambie, (doubled over) speaking to MG at the Solstice 100, which Ashton won.
Gravel Grinder Wins Gold (Again)

This has been kind of a story that has shaken the traditional road racing segment. That story surrounding Ashton Lambie, a native Nebraskan and accomplished gravel racer, who set the World Record in the individual pursuit at the Pan-American Games last year, and just won a gold medal this past August 4th at this year's Pan-American Games in Peru. 

Stories pop up in mainstream cycling media from time to time with story lines about his rural upbringing and music background, which is interesting. I don't know, he seems like a nice enough guy to me. Extraordinarily talented, yes, but very down to Earth. It's pretty cool to see someone from a gravel racing/riding background break the mold set by traditionalists in road and track racing with World records and podiums on his way to the 2020 Olympics.

Check out what the local paper said about his story here.

I'll be interested to see where Mr Lambie goes from here. It'd be pretty cool to see him bring home some medals from Tokyo.

Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Kutilek in Trans Iowa v14 Image by Jon Duke

The Story Behind The Rider:

Have you ever met someone for the first time and felt that there was something special about them? Something about that person that commands your respect, even though you have just met? Well, I have had that happen. In fact, with regard to Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Kutilek USMC, I knew just from reading his name on the post card he sent in for Trans Iowa v12 that there was "something about this guy" that required my respect to be shown.

I could have just listed him as "Matthew Kutilek" on the roster, but I added his name like this: "Maj. Matthew Kutilek, USMC" (his rank at that time) and even when I called him up at the Pre-Race Meat-Up, I believe that is the name I called him up with. Was I being a smart-ass? Fair question, because, well, if you know me, I do have that gene in my make-up. But not this time, I just "knew" that's how I needed to respect him.

Well, as it turned out, Matthew finished that first attempt at Trans Iowa in 2016. At the finish line, I shook Matthew's hand and congratulated him. He responded with a breathless "Thank you, Sir! That was the most difficult thing I have done, Sir!" I was a bit taken aback by his military-type respect in his response, and I seriously doubted it was "the most difficult thing" he'd done. I thought I was correct in that assumption directly, and when his story came out later about his wounding in Afghanistan, and the radical surgical technique that saved his right leg, I was sure T.I.v12 wasn't even close to the toughest thing he'd ever done.

Then just the other day, Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Kutilek sent me a link to this video. If you dare to watch, you will learn that my respect for this man is not misplaced. I am honored to have met this man, and to have had him in my event not once, but twice. You can scroll "The Roster" and see his entry that reads: "Maj. Matthew Kutilek USMC V12, V14"

Perhaps it is high time I edited that.

 That's a wrap for this week, folks! have a great weekend and go ride some bicycles!

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Dialing In The Set Up

The Fargo Gen I on the old Shirey Way.
Yesterday I spent some time setting up the Fargo Gen I for Gravel Worlds. I added a sixth bottle cage, took off the Revelate Tangle bag, and set the bike up with an alternate set of wheels I have sitting around. The wheels I want to use will be set up with the new Schwalbe G-One tires I have coming in which should be here tomorrow.

That said, this wheel and tire combo is one I would not mind using. The wheels are generic Formula hubbed, Weinmann rimmed affairs that came stock on my Tamland Two. They are not "bad" wheels at all, but they are not tubeless either, or at least I never saw anything that said they were rated for tubeless usage. So, I have them set up with some old, out of production 29" X 2.1" tires that I have always thought should have been marketed as gravel tires, but were ten years too early to market for that.

That tire would be the Vulpine, an XC racing tire that never really caught on with the MTB crowd. I got a pair to test for the old site I ran, "Twenty Nine Inches", back in 2008, or somewhere around then. Anyway, I recognized right away that this tread pattern was/is a great pattern for gravel road use. By the time the Vulpine had arrived on the scene as a 29" tire, I had the Fargo, and I put these very tires on the bike back then. Suspicions about the tire's performance traits on gravel were confirmed, and as I moved on to other tires for the Fargo, these Vulpines went on my custom Pofahl drop bar single speed. In fact, I set them up tubeless. (They are not tubeless rated), and then after a long while I pulled them off and these tires sat dormant for several years.

As an aside, (as if I weren't going down a rabbit hole already), I kept bugging WTB to make these again and make them for gravel bikes. My contact back then was Will Ritchie, and I pretty much wore him out on this subject. Ironically, just before Will left WTB, they found a single, NOS, Vulpine in their storage facility, (shed), and Will had it sent to me. Nice guy, that Will. (Thanks again, in case you happen to see this.)

If I told you this was the latest in gravel tread design, you'd probably believe it. It is over a decade old!
I think these Vulpines would survive another Gravel Worlds, so if the Schwalbe experiment looks sketchy, I will default back to these tires. Yeah.....I'll probably replace one of those old Vulpines if that needs to happen and put it on the rear. But we will see.

I rode the Fargo loaded down with all the water bottles filled and decided I needed to tweak on the Ragley Luxy bar a bit. Lately my hands have been sensitive, so I have moved a couple of my bars of late. Just a touch more downward angle to the extensions seems to do the trick. Then I also discovered that the "jerry can" bag I have on the top tube by the seat post bothers me when I pedal. My shorts juuuust graze the bag and it drives me up the wall. Like something is tickling me between my thighs and it ain't good. So, I am taking that bag off and since it holds repair stuff, I may dig out my Topeak aerobag and stick that behind/under the saddle. That should solve that issue.

I also think I will get some new brake pads installed. I don't know when the last time it was I put pads in those calipers. Maybe never? Brakes are good, so I better take care of that. I also need to put a new battery in the CatEye Velo 9 and re-calibrate it with whatever tires I end up going with. The CatEye is deadly accurate when you use your own roll-out number in the set up. Plus, I don't have to remember to turn it on, and it gives me exactly only the info I want. Mileage and time. I also need to install my Bar Yak cue sheet holder. Otherwise I think the bike is good to go

I've got one brand new one if I need it.
So, we will get those minor things attended to and wait to see what those Schwalbe tires can do. If I am not fully impressed I won't go with them. The Vulpines, or a set of tubeless 2.1" Nanoraptors I have, would be the go-to back up tires. That will all be decided upon this weekend and then I'l have a few days to make sure I am 100% dialed then Friday next week I will be on the road to Lincoln, Nebraska.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Iowa Wind And Rock #2

Well, I don't have to tell y'all that Trans Iowa isn't happening anymore. But there is an event sorta like it, and it announced its race dates yesterday. Iowa Wind and Rock will happen April 18th-19th, 2020. Registration will open on November 11th, 2019. Keep tabs on things at their site, if you are interested, and don't ask me nuthin' 'cause I won't, and don't know.

I just thought I'd throw this information out there, because IW&R is the evolution from T.I., run by former racers of T.I., and volunteers of past T.I.'s. They have taken a lot of ideas from Trans Iowa and implemented them into their way of doing it. I like that they have done it their way and have kept something like this alive and available to anyone nutty enough to try it. So, I wanted to help spread the news. Otherwise, I have no idea about anything involving the event upcoming.

Trans Iowa traditionally used to announce the next date in August. I remember letting that announcement slide into September a couple of times, but my thought always was that an event of this magnitude, something that required a lot of preparation, needed to have a bit of "warning" as far as letting folks get that block of the year set aside for training and the event. Months of preparations went into Trans Iowa attempts, and if things went pear-shaped, well, that was always such a bummer for those in the event. All that time washed away within a few hours sometimes. (T.I.v2, v6, v11, v13)

Anyway, I think IW&R sees the same thing I saw in that regard and have announced their date now. Like I said, I don't keep tabs on much of what they do, but I have spoken a couple of times with one of their RD's and it's kind of interesting to hear the "revelations" their team experiences now that they are on the promotional/production side of an event like what I used to put on. It's like when a son or daughter has a kid and comes back and says, "Now I know why you used to get so frustrated when......" Ha! You can talk all you want about things, but until you have experienced them, well.....you just don't know. 

Anyway, nuff said. Go check out IW&R if you ever thought Trans Iowa was something you wanted to try. There isn't anything else out there quite like it.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

It's About The Tires

Schwalbe G One 29 X 2.25" - Going on the Fargo Gen 1
And Now, The Gravel Worlds Tire Choice!

Tires, tires, and more tires. The last thing to go on your wheels and the first thing that touches the surface of whatever you are riding on. Yes.....tires are important. I have tried hundreds of different tires, and while most are good, not many are great. I suppose this is why we keep searching for that "one" tire that will be "magic", whatever that might mean. I think that changes almost daily.

Anyway.......speaking of "one", I have chosen to try these new, poofy Schwalbe G One Allround tires for the Fargo Gen I bike. They are, of course, tubeless, and they are wider than anything I've had on this bike since......, I think I tried the 27.5 X 2.8" WTB tires on there but they were juuuust too big. And too small a diameter too. Anyway, big, floaty tires are going to be a good choice at Gravel Worlds because (a) I am big and need a bigger tire there, and (b), their gravel is looser and sandier than ours is here.

Wheels will be prepped and then tires will get mounted and tested out this weekend. I think I'll be using some wheels that might come as a bit of a surprise to some of you out there. Stay tuned for that....

Some Extraterrestrials will have a limited edition grey sidewall. Image courtesy of Surly
Surly Does Tubeless (Finally)

Okay, with that "exciting" news out of the way, (HA!), I have fund out just today that Surly have finally made their tire line tubeless. What'd that take? Only about five years too long, but at least they have done it. Yes folks- their entire folding bead tire line up is available tubeless now. You may find certain models "missing", and I would surmise that these have been discontinued. I had to wonder when I saw several e-commerce sites dumping certain Surly tire models at close out pricing a couple of months ago. I figured something was up and now we know. Those closed out tire models are the ones that aren't being carried over, so check out that link to find out if your favorite Surly tire model still exists.

They have the Knard 41's in tubeless now and a 42mm Extraterrestrial in tubeless as well. Both 700c, of course, but 650B variants also exist. I always liked that Knard 41mm tire but I always thought right along with that thought that this tire never should have existed non-tubeless. It was a big miss on Surly's part to not get that tire under more riders. Now? Pfft! There's a million other garvel tires these days. Getting that "foot in the door" opportunity has passed Surly by. But that said- you should try the Knard 41. 

And of all the tires to keep around, they kept the Nate? Weird. Anyway..... Another tire that always should have been tubeless- the 29" X 3" Knard. 'Bout time on that too. Ditto on Bud and Lou. Good job Surly! Hopefully not too late to matter.

Bigger EMP's:

Earlier this year I tried out some 700 X 38mm Donnelly EMP tires on my Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush" #49. In fact, I just rode on those tires again last Saturday, and don't ya know- I was wishing for wider ones? Well, wish granted. Donnelly announced a new choice in sizes for the EMP at 700 X 45mm and 650 B X 47mm.

Donnelly EMP tire
These tires are a bit more aggressively treaded than say, a Gravel King SK, or a Riddler for sure, so if you are not into that, look elsewhere, but if you run a lot of dirt roads, or if you get off on sketchier terrain often, give these a look. The 700 X 45mm size makes these a viable "MTB-Lite" sort of tire, I think.

Kind of like a WTB Nano 40, in that regard, which reminds me, I've seen a lot of bikes with Nano 40's lately, and not OEM stock ones either. Weird! The Nano 40 was one of the, if not the first tubeless ready gravel specific tire, and many folks still dig it, but as you know, you are only as good as anything else if you have the latest design in tires. Nano 40's look slow and too knobby to many, but hey! It's good to see folks still digging them and they are just fine on gravel. Especially looser, rockier stuff.

So, there is a bit of "tire news" for y'all. I know I generally keep "newsy" stuff back for Fridays, but this is specific to tires and I am sure I'll find something to jabber about Friday anyway. In fact, I already have two things waiting for Friday anyway.

As always- Thank you for stopping by today!

Monday, August 05, 2019

Country Views: A Peace Over The Land

A Little "fire" in the sky Saturday as I headed East
Saturday was going to be a ride day, mostly because I need to be getting miles in for the upcoming Gravel Worlds event in Lincoln, Nebraska. My recovery from the weekend before has been going well, but with that in mind, my idea to take a big bite of mileage had to be tempered with the realities of my physical condition. My back was a bit "barky" that morning too. So, a new idea formulated.

I have never been one to take it easy on injuries. My view has been that if you baby it, you just put off the inevitable and using your body wisely, with an eye to "keep moving", is best. I'm not advocating that anyone else should do what I do, but......it's always worked for me. So, with that in mind, a little single speed jaunt into the South of Black Hawk County was my goal. Single speed makes for some bigger efforts than the terrain might call for with a geared bike, and I wanted to put a little stress on the back, to see how it would react. Besides, I feel better on a bicycle than off one. Weird, but many times when I am hurt, that's the case.

So, I pulled out the Black Mountain Cycles "Orange Crush" rig which I converted to single speed earlier this year. Aired up the Donnelly EMP tires, and threw on some bottles of water. Ready! Off to Prairie Grove Park to park the "Truck With No Name" and get rolling on the gravel, not more than 3/4's of a mile away. It was cool, in the mid-60's, but it was supposedly going to get into the 80's, be humid, and there was little wind forecast. Sounded like a perfect August morning to ride.

Dust from a passing vehicle hangs in the air as Red Wing Blackbirds flock together for their migration South.
The air was very still. If there was a breeze, it had to be minimal. I couldn't feel it. I also could not discern any real humidity either. It was dry. That's odd for Iowa, and very odd for Iowa in August! The low humidity, under 40%, made the roads dusty. With little to no wind, the dust would hang in the air when vehicles passed. Which, thankfully, was not often at all. The only thing moving, besides me and the occasional vehicle, were the Red Wing Blackbirds which are beginning to flock together in preparation to move South for the Winter.

Yes, Winter is coming. The ditches are all hoary and devoid of flowers now. Brown weeds are commonplace as the flora have served their life and recent heat has accelerated their demise. The corn has tasseled and eared out. Fall is just around the corner.

The corn is ginormous.
This can be a time of year when peace falls across the land, and it had that morning. The sun was riding up above a cloud mass and casting a glow which is unmistakably "August" in Iowa. Things are at peace with each other, it seems. Mature, calm, evened out......it's hard to describe it. It's almost as if time is standing still for a while when Summer reaches this point.

There is just something about the light this time of year, it gives everything a certain feeling.
All I know is that I was enjoying the ride. It was very good. Well, besides the darn deep, fresh gravel. The road situation has not improved much all year. Some places- yes. Many places look as bad as they did this Spring. I'm not sure that they will ever recover this year, or maybe next! Petrie Road West of Ansborough, and Aker Road North of Quarry Road both look awful yet. I guess the County's plan is to just bury it all in about 4 inches of fresh crushed limestone, because there was miles of it out there Saturday.

Petrie Road's Level B section was especially sandy this time around.
The sand allowed for some animal tracks to be easily seen.
Speaking of Petrie Road, I decided to visit the Level B Section. It was very sandy! I had a hard time keeping Orange Crush upright as the narrow EMP tires would "pizza cutter" their way into the loose stuff and cause the bike to wash out. I tried keeping to the center ridge of the two track and that helped a lot. Much firmer ground there, but it was like riding a tightrope!

A crop duster banks into a turn over Petrie Road.
It's all down hill from here to the end of Petrie Road in the distance.
While I was on my way up to the ridge on Petrie Road, I heard a faint whistling-whine. It got louder and louder. My first thought was that it was a helicopter. They use small copters to spray crops with around here. But then I heard the motor just about the time I made out that this was a crop duster plane. It was traveling to a field just to the Northwest of me to spray. It made huge, lazy turns and dives over the field. I watched it a while. I think these people that fly these planes are the last daredevils. This plane was flying in between trees and just missing power lines. Crazy!

Fresh dump truck loads of gravel on Aker Road.
I made my way slowly down toward my turn off to gravel and my Northward trek back towards Waterloo. The gravel was pretty dense until I passed the blacktop going to Hudson, then I got about a mile or so of reprieve. But after making my right hander on Washburn Road, it was dump truck loads of gravel all the way back into town.

Well, I did say I wanted a good work out! I got what I came for, no doubt, and when I reached the truck, I was glad of it. My back had enough of that! Not too much- no. I had it in me yet to go home and do many things yet, so I didn't wreck myself out there. Goal accomplished.

It was definitely a highlight ride of the year though. It just doesn't get a whole lot better than that. No wind to speak of, comfortable temperatures. Sunshine. Great roads, even though they were full of fresh gravel. But most of all, that peace that was over the land. You cannot buy that. It is a gift. I was glad to be able to receive it Saturday morning.

Now for some more healing on the back, more training rides, and then onward to getting ready for Gravel Worlds. The last big deal of the Summer. In my mind, Fall pretty much starts after Gravel Worlds. So, that made Saturday's great ride even sweeter, that it happened yet this Summer, after so many times of missing out on getting a ride in.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Tales Of v1

The first roll out for a Trans Iowa. Image by Dave Kerkove
"Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

 Tales of the first Trans Iowa are rare. There were only 51 people in the event, first off, and since Trans Iowa kicked off in 2005, there weren't any digital, social media platforms to share anything on. It was a time when the "Analogue Era" was ending and the new "Social Media Era" was in its infancy. Any stories of heroism, tales of woe, or fascinating tidbits stayed with those individuals who were a part of those things.

And as far as Jeff and I were concerned, there were two focus points: Jeff's was competing in the event he helped to get off the ground. Mine was to facilitate the event. Taking pictures, writing reports, or sharing stories was not on our radar at all.

Of course, I did take a few images. However; I don't think I saved them! Then there was Dave Kerkove, Jeff's father, who took a roll of film, (film camera!), and shot some images up to the point of the Algona checkpoint. There were no images from there until the finish line shot. Isn't that crazy? But again- we weren't focused upon producing media for outsiders to consume. Once again, a bit of context is good to chew on at this point.

I'll say it again for emphasis: There was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Snapchat.....nothing! Digital cameras were around, but not prevalent. Cell phones typically had no camera or very, very bad ones. People weren't yet "attuned" to share every freaking moment of life. So, why would we be doing that? We wouldn't even think of it. There was no reason to, as the only outlet for it at that time would have been the MTBR.com Endurance forum, (where we did share stories and images back in the day), or on Jeff's blog. (I did not start this blog until May 11th, 2005. Well after Trans Iowa had happened.)

Jeff Kerkove (leading here) and a group of v1 riders. Image by Dave Kerkove
So, from my perspective I recall being pretty nervous that cold, clear morning in Hawarden. My task was going to be to yak at a "pre-race meeting", which I was very nervous about, to tell the truth. Here I was, just some unknown mechanic from Iowa, who was along to help the very well known Jeff Kerkove. I was speaking to the legends of the endurance cycling scene at the time- Mike Curiak, Steve "DOOM" Fassibinder, Ernesto Marenchin, and others whom Jeff persuaded to come to the event. Ira Ryan was there, a phenom of rando-ultra distance cycling on the West Coast, and an Iowa native. There were others, and I don't mean to slight anyone by omission, but my point is, I was a nobody. No one knew a thing about me with the exception of maybe having seen a guest post of mine on Jeff's blog, a post of mine on MTBR.com, or from Jeff mentioning me on his blog.

And here I was telling them what to do and not to do. It was very intimidating, but I did my best. Then I had to hop into the shop van, which we borrowed for the weekend from the bike shop both Jeff and I worked at, and I headed out ahead of the field. I remember stopping and waiting at the tops of hills to see if the leaders were catching me, then sprinting off ahead to check more roads. There was a horrifying moment when I came up at a crossing of a County paved road and saw "Road Closed" signs. What to do! I went around the sign and saw that they had crushed the pavement, but it was still passable, so I crossed and figured (hoped) the riders would come across as well.

Then there were the Level B Roads. We only had three, one mile sections of dirt that first year, all within about ten miles of each other. They were left in and we had no idea of how they might affect the event. I saw that they were too muddy to drive on, at least the first two were, but the third.... Hmm. Looked passable. I tried it. Mind you, this was in a 90's era Dodge Caravan, front wheel drive only. I got about a third of the way in when I realized I had made a very poor choice!

I had one hope. Stand on the gas and hope that I did not lose my momentum. I knew that if I did stop, I was going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere and no tow truck wasn't going to be able to help. Thankfully, I managed to steer through, but the mud was everywhere. Packed into wheel wells, all over the rocker panels, stuck all over the top of the van from flailing off the front wheels, and basically, it was trashed. Fortunately it still drove, so I forged on ahead to Algona.

(L-R) Me, Patrick Humenny, Dave Kerkove- Image taken by Linda Kerkove
Algona was a scene. It was cold, blustery with high wind gusts, and no one really knew what to expect, or what was going on for certain. One thing that I found odd were that some folks had tons of support while others were rolling in and doing everything for themselves. That was addressed for v2 with the elimination of "outside support". One thing was frightening- That was hearing about one of our riders wandering off course in a daze, angered at folks asking if he was okay. It turned out it was a person so dehydrated that they were a bit emotional and not thinking straight. Being that I had my hands full already, I couldn't go find out anything more than the bits and pieces other riders could tell me. This was one bullet dodged in the end that could have went waaaay bad. I knew then and there we needed more people running this event. 

Near the end of my time there, I felt pressured to address concerns some support people were voicing about the "unfair time cut off" announced at the onset of the event for the Algona Checkpoint. These folks wanted it abolished, or at the least, extended greatly. I ended up informing Jeff's parents that the cut off would be extended one hour. In the end, it made zero difference, but again- something to keep in mind if we ever ran this again. I was pretty stressed out at that point because I had to get to Pilot Knob State Park and mark a mile or so of single track. So, eventually I just had to leave without seeing some of the concerned folks face to face, but again- One guy running the show. Not good. Also, remember this was my first rodeo being the "RD" guy. It was pretty rough sledding.

Not many riders left Algona. We had nine finishers, but I think something like 13 left Algona. So, attrition was high and continuing on from Algona, I saw a few riders on my way out, and then I did not see anyone until well into Sunday morning. I had zero communication with Jeff, who was out of the event due to dehydration issues. I only knew he was out of the event. Other than having to call in anyone I saw at my Cresco, Iowa observation point to the Decorah Time Trials finish line volunteer, I had no reason to use my phone. So, with no DNF line, it got really weird out there in the night for me.

I cannot recall for certain, but I think I got a call from Dave Kerkove when the checkpoint closed shortly after 6:00pm that night, so that may have been one point of communication. But anyway, I was frustrated, bored to tears, and was wishing I had anyone else along to share this miserable time with. I hate to beat this point to death, but you have to keep in mind the lack of social media back then. I mean, I couldn't check a timeline, page, or anything. I think this point is now so foreign to us that we have a hard time fathoming it. So, it was boring as Hell, but most of all, the biggest issue was that I felt sleeping was out of the question, because of my charge to let the Decorah folks know when to expect a rider to finish. That was extra stress and I went through the wringer during the event's ending. The night time stretch was excruciatingly boring and difficult. It was really cold that night. I know we had a hard freeze and frost was everywhere that Sunday morning. All I had was a stocking hat and a rain jacket. Dumb!

By the time I reached my observation point just North of Cresco, Iowa, I was freezing to death and having to hop into the van, run the heater on high, and then try not to fall asleep! Back and forth like that for a few hours until at right around sunrise, a rider came through. It was Alex Dollp. Then about every hour or hour and a half, a rider would pass by till all seven had went by me. I had only seen seven because Ryan and Hannon bypassed my point in the night due to getting off course. But I didn't know that at the time.

Eventually Dave Kerkove called and said that there were likely around ten guys left and that he and Jeff were on their way to relieve me. That is the last thing I clearly remember about v1. I do vaguely recall the "award ceremonies" at Decorah, but only vaguely, and I could not tell you how I got home. Afterward, I saw that I did not even mention Trans Iowa on my blog a half a month later all the rest of the way through May. So, while it was a "big deal", it wasn't that big of a deal at the time, or so we thought.

All I know is that Trans Iowa, the first one that is, changed me fundamentally. Even without the other 13 Trans Iowas. Just doing that one really gave me confidence, inspiration, and a new viewpoint I had not had previous to it. So, thank you, first of all, to Jeff Kerkove. I owe it all to you, and without your inclusiveness, drive, and enthusiasm, I would still be "just a bike mechanic in Iowa". Then I gotta thank all those first Trans Iowans. You guys and Emily Broderson, (the lone female in T.I.v1) are to be commended, because without you, I don't become who I am today.

Next: Stories Of v2

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-33

I still have the frame and fork. I should throw this back together again!
Ten years ago this week I was out riding the South Side of Camp Ingawanis, now known as Ingawanis Woodland, or simply by "Ingie" as the locals know it now. Back a decade ago you could count how many people rode out there in a month on one hand.

There was a white board you were supposed to sign in on, and back then weeks would go by before it had to be erased because there were so many names it was full. I bet that would happen in a single day on a nice weekend now. But back then, the locals didn't want anything to do with driving ten miles to get to good single track. Too much bother!

Now it is no biggie, apparently. Times change and all......

Used to be a race out there too. The first one was ten years ago, and I helped volunteer for it. I keep getting reminded of this by my son. This race is a chief memory for him and he recalls being at "that race in the woods" that we counted bikers at. Keep in mind that he was all of six years old, and barely that. I mean, what can you recall vividly from being six years old? I know I cannot remember much. (But what's new, right? Ha!)

I know it was a big deal to him as he will bring up this memory at random times. I guess it was welded into his consciousness as a "big adventure" with his Dad. I don't know, but here's a piece of advice for any Dads out there that may be reading this that have youginz- You never know what will impact your child and be of importance to them in later years. Be wise- Be good. Keep your promises. Never dismiss a memory your child has even if you think it was no big deal. 

Nuff said.