Saturday, August 31, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-35

My Pofahl with straight bars. Dang! That looks good too!
Ten years ago this week on the blog I was talking about one of the crazier weekends I had done in my lifetime, and maybe the craziest thing outside of Trans Iowa. Because, well, not much is crazier than putting on a free event and staying up for 40+ hours. This trip I talked about wasn't that nutty. But it was close.

It started out by driving my family out to Omaha Nebraska after work (!) and then getting them settled in at a friends place. Then I took off for Lincoln, Nebraska in the dark, by myself, and hooked up with my brother MG to get some Oakley glasses to review, and then (I cannot remember this part, sadly) I talked with Joel Dyke and Joe Fox. Afterward, I went to the D Street Motel and shacked up with Corey, "Cornbread" Godfrey. The next morning, Matt Wills, Cornbread, and Troy Krause led me on the wildest urban ride through people's yards to the MoPac Trail head where the last Good Life Gravel Adventure started.

I rode that event until I started falling asleep on the bike going down hill at 30mph! I called it in and Corey told me to sit tight, that "someone " would be out to fetch me. It was the winner, Troy Krause!

Then I went back to the D Street where I was taken care of by a gal that was CVO's girlfriend at the time, I think, and then MG and I took a case and a half of Red Bull Cola and went to Gothenburg, Nebraska where the next day we rode at Potter's Pasture. Then we hightailed it back, I drove solo from Lincoln to Omaha, collected my family, and drove back to Waterloo, Iowa.

Crazy! 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Friday News And Views

Bigger, heavier,because- motors.
The Evolution Toward Heavier, More Durable Parts Continues;

One of the things I've been saying about HPC (Hybrid Powered Cycle) vehicles is that the parts necessary to make these things safe is the antithesis of over a century of bicycle design and engineering. The main point has been to make things lighter, stronger, and more efficient since pure human power is reliant on the maximization of those things for the betterment of the experience. However; when motors were added, these ideals were abandoned.

Now it is becoming necessary to beef up components and make things heavier, since motors introduce forces not seen on a purely human powered bicycle. Magura is the latest to announce such a component. Now they are offering a 220mm rotor and braking system optimized for motorized bicycles. Of course, tires, chains, and wheels have all been beefed up due to the forces imparted by electric motors on those components.

Again, history reflects this in the move to fit gasoline powered engines on to bicycles in the early 20th Century. Parts made for purely human powered transportation by two wheels could not withstand the forces imparted on them by motors. Heavier parts were fitted, frames got beefier, and the next thing you know, pedals were shed. You know the rest of that story.

Oh, and I saw another HPC being hawked the other day in a video where the clip lasted 3+ minutes and the rider did not pedal once. What's the message there? Yeah......it ain't about bicycling. 

Those shoes.
 Gravel Shoes? 

In a time when the industry wants to electrify or gravel "all the things", another item listed as a "gravel ____" (fill in the blank) will cause groans and raised eyebrows. That's how it goes. Marketing seems to always take things just a little bit too far, especially in the cycling industry. (This includes HPC stuff too)

So, when Shimano announced the RX8 as a "gravel specific shoe", well.....yeah right! It's a freakin' cycling shoe, yes? 

But sometimes we get jaded and lose our open mindedness to things that, upon further review, are actually legitimate ideas. Take these shoes, as an example.

We used to always use MTB shoes as our gravel biking shoes back in the day. The alternative? Road shoes. Ahhh........no! They did not have a sole to walk on, were far too stiff, and those cleats! Try walking a muddy ditch in those things. Good luck! So, no......we wore MTB shoes because we had to. The "other choice" was not tenable.

Well, there are some things about road shoes that make sense for gravel travel. They typically are lighter, have efficient soles for pedaling, and have great ventilation. MTB shoes have some great attributes. They are walkable, resist scuffing, are easily dried when they get wet, and use two bolt cleats which are minimalist, and work better in mud and grit. So.....why not mix the better attributes of both for gravel? 

 Yes- why not? And Shimano did. Now, you can miss it and throw the thought of these "gravel" shoes away like a bad newspaper, but if you do, you are going to miss some good news. These shoes are the real deal, as far as I can tell so far. They aren't cheap, and they are maybe more "race" than "good times", but they are no joke. I've got a review going up on RidingGravel.com this weekend on them. Check it out if you have the time.

It's the official pedal of the DK200, dontcha know?
LOOK- It's The Official Pedal Of The DK200:

And speaking of pedaling- LOOK has signed on to be the "official pedal" of the Dirty Kanza 200. Their X-trac pedal being the one featured, not the KEO carbon fiber roadie thing-a-ma-bob.

When I saw that news it rang a bell with me. Yes....yes indeed. RidingGravel.com reviewed this pedal. It passed with flying colors, so there is that. It's funny, but besides the KEO, you hardly hear a thing about LOOK pedals for cycling. But they are the OG of clipless pedals. They were way ahead of Shimano, and LOOK even had a pretty highly regarded MTB pedal in the early 90's, despite the fact it weighed a metric ton. As I recall, it was, (and maybe still is) Tinker Jaurez's favorite pedal. (You younginz should look up Tinker. MONSTER MTB dude.)

Anyway, I digress.....

Congratulations to the DK200 on picking up a pedal sponsor. It'll be interesting to see what they do to partner up in that relationship.

Labor Day Weekend, y'all! Get sum! (Bicycling, that is) Be safe! Thanks for reading, as always!

 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Country Views: Expert Level Gravel

This sign is at the start of one of the best sections of gravel around in Iowa.
I was out for a gravel ride Wednesday and I went to an area I've ridden in several times before, but it had been awhile since I'd been down that way. N.Y. Roll and a friend of his had done a night time grind down there recently and their social media posts gave me the inspiration to go down there again and ride.

Of course, I am talking about "Ridge Road" in Northern Tama County. This road is only about 27 miles or so from home and just outside of Traer, Iowa. In fact, you can park in Northwest Traer, be on gravel in a block's distance, and within two miles you are at the foot of the climb up which marks the start of Ridge Road.

Ridge Road, just like the name suggests, is on a high ridge running Northwest to Southeast for several miles. This gravel road meanders atop the ridge offering travelers spectacular views off either side of the road for miles. The trip is worth it just for the view, but the climb is also one of the only ones of its type in Iowa. A climb that rises steadily for over a mile, and despite a few rollers on top, never really quits climbing if you come from Traer. The "easier" passage of Ridge Road is to take it starting on the Northwestern end of it and travel toward Traer. But trust me, you don't want to do that if you want to earn your "Expert Level" Gravel Scout Badge. That's because Ridge Road can be put in a loop course in and out of Traer that, in my opinion, is one of the most physically and technically challenging loops in the State. 

I say this because when I put on Trans Iowa, I loved using this area for routes. Tama County is no joke, and the gravel travel in Tama County is awesome. I've not only used this area for Trans Iowa courses, but for Guitar Ted Death Ride courses as well. I've been around too, and I can say with some confidence that there isn't much tougher challenges out there then some of what Tama County has on offer, and this loop I did is a great sampler platter, if you will. This loop, as a matter of fact, is one I would not recommend to anyone not confident with and/or not very experienced in gravel skills. The risks are too high for folks with poor handling skills.

A twisty road sign- one of my favorites!
You can literally see for miles off either side of Ridge Road on a good day.
There is another odd fact about Tama County that is pretty consistently true- They have a slightly chunkier, gnarlier gravel than anywhere else. I don't know why their particular "grind" of rock is the way it is, but Tama County generally does not scrimp on using it. You can almost always count on there being a good layer of "chunky goodness" on Tama County roads. Just ask anyone who has ridden Trans Iowa when it went through any part of that county.

You can see this rural water tower for miles around. It takes quite an effort to go by it!
Coming down off Ridge Road on K Avenue, South. You'd better be a confident downhiller on these roads!
So, you have a ridge road with a long climb up to it. Big deal! Yes, but what goes up must eventually go back down, and in Tama County, that can mean "down fast!"  This is one of the major reasons I don't recommend this area to many folks because unless I know that they are good bike handlers I may be sending them off to a very bad deal. 30+ mph and loose rock is no joke, but those speeds and Tama County loose rock is downright sketchy. I know that folks with limited down hill skill sets have a lot of issues on gravel and it only takes one wrong move and you are going to be fishtailing, or possibly wiping out, because of the technical nature of high speed bombing on looser gravel. Having the right set up is critical too. Especially in terms of air pressures.

I rode the carbon Noble Bikes GR-5. NOTE- The "white patch" behind the telephone pole is the next hill on gravel!
Getting to see this view from atop the Wolf Creek Wall means you had to pay in some tough climbing.
Of course, what comes down has to go up again, and again, and again. Most climbs here aren't that long, but they are really steep, and they can come one after another, sometimes endlessly. This loop I did has several steep ups, and they aren't of the easy variety. Bring your climbing legs for a big section of this loop. I used to recommend a certain section on this loop as training for locals that were going to try Trans Iowa. That's how tough these are to get up. And of course, the downhill part applies every time here as well.

A lonely John Deere sits in a field near Traer, Iowa.
Barns for Jason
After a pretty intense first half of this loop you get a little relief with some 'normal" Iowa rollers. The chunky goodness of Tama County made this part no less of a grind though. At least it was nice out with a stiff Northwesterly breeze and big skies overhead. Not too hot either. Nice and comfortable in that regard. I felt bad for anyone having to work indoors on a day like it was Wednesday.

There is nothing finer than an Iowa dirt road in summer. Fast! Smooth! Fun!
Barns For Jason- Part 2
Then I got into some Level B Maintenance roads. Now these can be your worst nightmare, or the best thing you've ever ridden on. In Summer it generally is the latter. However; you still have to be on your guard. Ruts, potholes, whoop-de-dos, garbage, buried stone, shards of beer cans and bottles, and other nasties await your fragile tires and unsuspecting self. I saw a bungee cord with metal hooks, several crushed aluminum beer cans with sharp edges, and lots of embedded stone and even bricks! So, just because it looks easy and is fun, it doesn't mean it is without its own forms of peril. And of course, if it is spring or Winter, well......fahgeddaboudit. You will have a miserable time on a bike. But everyone already knows that, right? 

I remember someone remarking at this year's GTDRI that dirt road intersections seemed odd. Well, here is another one!
 
Good times on O Avenue South of Highway 63 in Tama County.
So, we have regular hills, longer climbs, fast, sketchy down hills, steep climbs, and Level B dirt roads, all in the same loop? Yes. And.......it's all within a half an hour drive of Waterloo, and it can be done in two hours. (More if you want it)

Barns For Jason- Part 3
Barns For Jason- Part 4
The scenery doesn't stop either, as you can see from my "Barns for Jason" images here. That isn't all there is to look at either. There are ample wildlife viewing opportunities, and the general goodness of rural Iowa, of course. But that said, this little nook of Tama County is pretty charming, and there are several other parts of Tama County with great views as well.

The low water crossing of the Wolf Creek on O Avenue.
Climbing up from the water crossing on O Avenue.
So, all of that and a lot of it is pretty dang difficult stuff. I would say that anyone that does that loop and can handle it all without missteps is an "expert gravel grinder" and could probably handle just about anything out there off pavement on roads and byways.

I had a good outing and felt pretty good on this ride. I need to get down there more often and ride. I can put together several variations of loops from  Traer, but the one I did is probably the most difficult and the most fun. I'd do it again in a heartbeat on a good day.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

2 650B Or Not 2 650B: That Is The Question

Last March I thought 650B tires were the bomb on this ride.
The 650B tire/wheel size seems like a bit of an odd man out in the gravel world. I see that size sometimes, but not a lot. I'm not really sure why that is either. I have a guess or two, but I don't know enough to say for sure.

I do know that I vacillate back and forth between thinking these wheels are great, and then back to not even caring if I ever rode another 650B wheel again in my life. Generally speaking, for my tastes, diameter is "king" and unless a smaller wheel is exceptional at something, I don't get too excited. That said, there have been more than a few times I thought the wheel size was rad.

I think there are a few things I need to see out of a 650B wheel before I get too excited. First of all, don't even come around here with a 650B wheel with a tire narrower than the Road Plus standard, which is 47mm. In fact, I am beginning to feel that is too small. Poofy tires, if they must exist, must be exactly that- big, voluminous, and worth their weight. Using a 42mm tire in a 650B format seems......backward, especially when most gravel bikes worth their salt can fit a 43mm tire with ease in a 700c diameter. Remember- diameter is king, and if you are going to go smaller, then you need to make up for that smaller diameter with air volume. Otherwise, why bother? 

For example, when Surly came out with the Extraterrestrial tire in 26" diameter, they did not offer it in a 26" X 2.1....noooo. They went right out to 2.5" and good for them. If you ever ride one, you'll get it. They are awesome at about 20psi tubeless. Almost makes me want to run 26"ers again it does!

Smaller diameter, but super volume and super smooth ride. Make it worthwhile if you drop down a size in diameter and go wide, or go home. I'm not at all interested in 650B X (anything less than) 47mm. Nope. Give me a big, voluminous 650B, and maybe I'll fall in love with that. So then, why not just go wide and keep it 700c? Yes indeed- why not? 

700 X 50? Why yes. Don't mind if I do.
 The trouble is that then you end up with a bike that almost cannot be anything but a Fargo or clone thereof. I was online the other night perusing Kona's line up for 2020 at the suggestion of a reader here. They make the Sutra model which sports 700c X 50mm tires, but it isn't a whole lot different than a Fargo and has limitations which a Fargo does not have regarding the drive train and tire clearances. (Or you could see that the other way around too.) The 700c X 45+ size tires start to get into a territory that road based drive trains were never meant to live in. That and the emasculation of MTB gearing choices down to a single chain ring has really pinched the rider that understands wide range gearing that promotes a straight chain line. Your choices are more limited than ever on the mountain biking side of things.

So, 650B to the rescue. I guess. There you can get that wider tire stuffed into a frame and still get away with a road based, wide range drive train. You lose that diameter component, but the choices are greater when looking at gearing and all. I'll be checking out some more tire choices and running 650B sizes in the future, and I'll probably still be going back and forth about it.

Stay tuned....

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Randomonium

NOTE: Okay folks, if you haven't been around long enough here to know what a "Randomonium" post is, then here is the deal. I ramble, rant, and randomly moan about all things cycling in one, incohesive, bizarre post. "Randomonium", okay?

The Fargo has new - old - shoes. 
 Fargo Back Up & Running:

This past weekend I got the Fargo sorted with some different tires that actually worked. The solution I found worked super easily. I forgot I had a pair of used Donnelly MSO 700 X 50mm tires. They went on the i23 Team Frequency rims with a burp from an air compressor and have been rock solid since mounted.

I tried the Schwalbe G-Ones on that wheel set that is based upon a Stan's rim dimension and, while I got them on with a plastic tire lever, they are what I would deem as being too tight. Not good if anything were to happen that required a tube to be inserted to continue going. But, that mere fact that the tire went on a Stan's dimension rim tells me it would definitely be too loose for most modern tubeless ready rims. Again- in my opinion- this is inexcusable in 2019.

My Schwalbe may have been an outlier, maybe from a bad batch? Hard to say, but for what I spent on them, I am not willing to take another shot at trying anything from Schwalbe. That brand has been struck from my "willing to buy" list. In 2019, and beyond, there will be, and are now, many, many choices in tires that will work as advertised set up tubeless easily. I know this because I get to try a LOT of tires out in my reviewing gig. If a tire takes multiple tries to get set up the first time, and then will not set up at all after one dismounting, well...... Hard pass. Nuff said.

Rendering of a Scott's Oriole
A Bird Lost? 

(NOTE: This isn't about cycling. So, it is even more random!) Sunday I walked out on the porch and I saw a flash of yellow and black. It was a bird I spooked out of the flower bed. It was so stunning and outstanding in appearance that I thought I had seen a vision. But it was real. It quickly hid in the thick cover of a tree across the street. Hmm...weird, but maybe just something I dreamed up? I still wasn't sure that I saw what I had seen. It was just so yellow and intensely colored that it didn't look real at all.

Then Monday, my wife and I walked out onto the porch and the same thing- An intensely yellow colored and black patched bird jumped out of the flower bed and quickly took cover in the same tree across the street.  Okay- this time I had a witness. I wasn't crazy. There was a weird bird and neither one of us had seen anything like it.

I did some checking online, and the closest thing I could find to what we had seen was a rendering of a Scott's Oriole. It seems to have the same pattern and intensely yellow coloring of the bird we saw. However; the range for this species is no where near Iowa. In fact, it is over a 1000 miles away from its Northernmost range to Iowa. Is this a Scott's Oriole that we had seen, or maybe something else? Is it a lost bird? Maybe.

I wish I would have gotten a picture, but as skittish as this bird was, I am lucky to have seen it twice!

Another drop bar hits the market.
The Off-Road Drop Bar Becomes Commonplace:

With over ten years of blogging here I can go back and see how things have changed over time. One of the things that's changed a ton is the amount of off-road, flared drop bars that are available.

When Trans Iowa started, and when I started riding a lot of gravel, you had about two choices for this type of bar. I used an On One Midge bar. You could get an Origin 8 Gary Bar, (the original one), and there was the odd WTB bar which had survived and were going for $150.00 a pop.

Now that gravel has become such a "thing" we have soooo many more flared drops that it is bewildering. A new one is out now from Shimano's PRO Brand which is called the Discover Big Flare Bar. It's an interesting handle bar that has some cool features- the 30° flare, the nice sweep- and some straight up roadie drop bar parts, like the weird radius to the drop and the shorter extensions. It's an unique bar in that it has such odd bits paired together.

I've yet to use it on gravel, but I'm sure it has its good and bad features there as well. The funny thing is, every bar has to be different, or it is a copy, and that won't do now, will it? No. So we get these weird things put out there at times that, well........they just do not work. And that's the thing with these flared drops. Not all of them really work, and so you get just a few that become the "standards" of the industry. Bars like Salsa Cycles' Cowchipper and Cowbell, which have spawned more than a few near-ripoffs. Or the previously mentioned On One Midge Bar, which spawned an almost perfect knock-off bar by another company, and inspired a few other bar designs. 

Once in a great while you get the super-weird bar and it works, for some reason. The Woodchipper and Luxy Bar come to mind here. But those are certainly acquired tastes, and it is easy to see why those bars are so polarizing.

Anyway, what a long way we have come! I never would have guessed that in 2019 there would be so many choices for off-road and flared drop bars as there is now. I'm still amazed by it all.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Country Views: Hints Of Fall

Back on Iowa gravel again.
The recovery from the Gravel Worlds beat down went pretty well. I had a bit of soreness in the legs, maybe for a day or two. I was tired, mostly, and I rested some instead of riding Wednesday on my day off.

I've always thought that Gravel Worlds marked the "real" end of Summer. There always are a few days here and there right after Gravel Worlds where the temperatures at night start getting down into the 50's and daytime temperatures can be down into the 70's, on occasion. Sure- you still get the 80's, humidity, and warm, sticky nights, generally speaking, every year, but this year has been very different.

It was almost as if a switch went off after Gravel Worlds this time. The air has been drier, the temps down dramatically both day and night, and the hints of Fall are everywhere if you are paying attention. The corn is starting to dry out, the flowers have all faded, with the exception of August's yellow fellows, always seen about now.

I saw that the weather was trending toward this sort of late Summer version of perfection, so a Saturday ride just had to happen. I decided to ride the Tamland Two, and so late in the morning, I decided to head out North. The temperature was down into the 50's earlier in the morning, so I waited for it to warm up a hair before I headed out. Imagine that. Last weekend in Lincoln it was in the 70's, and now we were almost 20 degrees cooler a week later here in Iowa. Like I said, it seems like a switch has flipped and signs of Fall are everywhere.

Beautiful weather over the Moline - Andersen Farm North of Waterloo on Moline Road.

I headed out from my house, which I haven't done for a while, but it was such a nice day out that I figured more riding was better than less. The wind was out of the Southeast, and it was not just a breeze, so I would have that to contend with, but otherwise it was about as perfect a day as one could ask for. Humidity levels were even low, so it was actually kind of nice not to sweat straight through all my clothing in the first ten miles.

The vineyard on the North side of Dunkerton Road on Moline Road had this green netting protecting all of their grapes. 
These tall, leggy yellow flowers and Goldenrod dominate the ditches now.
The gravel started out being rather tame, then it went chunkier the further I went North. The hard underlying road bed made for a jarring ride compared to the smoothness of Nebraskan gravel around the Lincoln area. It was dusty as well, which made for a great "welcome back to Iowa" gravel ride.

Barns For Jason
 I decided to go within sight of Denver, Iowa, then head eastward on a road I hadn't ridden before. Two miles east then I made a right turn South. Once I got back to Black Hawk County, I would be on Schenk Road. I like riding this road because it has a lot of cool, old barns. It's also almost all on a "high plateau" of sorts, for Iowa. The highest point on my ride was on this road just North of the county line and it consistently stays around or above 1000ft. (I know that doesn't sound like much, but I live in a state where the maximum elevation is a bit more than 1600ft.) Anyway, Schenk Road seems flat due to its consistent elevation.

A flock of sheep grazing
Big rollers on Airline Highway
I made the length of Schenk Road South to Airline Highway's Eastern terminus and turned West. This starts out at that same elevation as before, but then it drops and turns into a set of fast rollers downward toward Moline Road and the way I came out of Waterloo. With the aid of that Southeast breeze, it was fun to speed over the tops and coast fast down the hills until I made the left turn back into the city.

I took it easy on the paved roads back to the house and walked into the door at noon. A nice 30 miles in before lunch and I had the rest of my day to myself. It's a good thing I didn't go further or harder since by 9:00pm I couldn't stay awake anymore! Maybe I still have a bit of rest that I need to get. But I felt really good on the bike Saturday, so that was an encouraging sign.

Speaking of signs- (again!) The air, the earlier setting of the Sun everyday, the lack of songbirds, and the browning of the prairie are all telling me that Fall is nigh. While it sucks that all the green things will be turning brown and the fields will become barren again, this can be some of the best riding weather of the year. I'm hoping that it will turn out that way.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Tales Of v2 Part 3

If you look carefully, you can see riders on the left in the ditch. Image by Jeff 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!

Well, Trans Iowa v2 was the event that set the tone for Trans Iowa for several years afterward. It took until v11 until the legend of this event was eclipsed. Some versions came close, but T.I.v2 was one for the ages.

My experience is pretty much a remembrance of a few key things during the event. First off, I can not recall that the start was that big of a deal. Yes- it was the first 4:00am start, but riders were especially nervous, quiet, and hoping the mist that was falling wouldn't break out into a full on rain. Which, by the way, it would not have made any difference at all if it had not rained. The damage was done already.

But back to the start. We rolled out and this being my first rodeo with a nighttime start, I found that I was immediately into that "alone zone" which I had experienced the year before, only this was right out of the gate. I couldn't see anything but what was illuminated by my headlights. I ran across a couple of "support people" on the route. One was Majiec Nowak who was looking for his brother, Marcin. Apparently he had already called in for pick-up and the Sun hadn't come up yet! My next encounter was with the father of another racer, Joe Partridge. It didn't look good for Joe to make it in v2 as he had the year before. This deal with cars on course was going to have to be dealt with.

The first Level B Road was cause for excitement for Jeff and I. We both rendezvoused at the beginning of that section where we saw about 12-20 guys rolling in a group all head right into the muck head on. Many expletives were expressed! Then I went to the other side of that mess to time how long it might take for riders to ride through it all.

The Level B Roads killed everyone's ability to reach the cutoff time point in Algona. Image by Jeff Kerkove.
 Well, I was floored by how long it took. I never dreamed they would be walking a whole mile! This was bad, bad, bad! I had a gut feeling things were not going to go well for me that day. I assumed wholeheartedly that I would be dealing with very angry racers and maybe I would even get punched out. Seriously! I was totally ready to take a LOT of abuse for this course choice. However; as bad as it was, that fear never materialized. For years afterward I would always joke that someday someone would punch me in the face for the courses I dreamt up, and this is where that saying came from.

Unlike v1, Jeff was there and his blogging skills were such that he snapped a lot of great, iconic Trans Iowa images that day. If you have a particular image in mind from this event, chances are Jeff shot it. By this time I had a digital camera as well, but I did not get as many images as Jeff did that day, nor any as iconic as those he got. Of course, Jeff was familiar with what it took to do an ultra-endurance effort, so he kind of knew what to look for in an image.

Jesse LaLonde, staring blankly at a piece of pizza covered in Cheetos, at a convenience store in Sutherland Iowa. Image by Jeff Kerkove.
Well, there was the Paulina convenience store, where the lead group was still hoping against hope to somehow claw back enough time to get to Algona in time. It was full on raining by this point. Most of the field had, by this point, dropped out. This was what was left of T.I.v2- about ten to twelve riders.

Then the interminably long wait at the end of a three mile stretch of Level B's just terminating North of Sutherland, Iowa. This was where Trans Iowa v2 ended for most everyone else that hadn't dropped out by then. The convenience store in town was the focal point for the decision to quit for most. Most - other than two riders from Canada who carried on until about 5:00pm. Dallas Sigurdur and Lindsay Gauld were the two who went the furthest, reaching Mallard, Iowa and then holing up in a bar until they were picked up by their fellow Canadian, Patrick Humenney.

Well, that was that. Afterward, Jeff made a couple of You Tube edits featuring the end of the last mess of Level B's and then another with his van following Sigurdur and Gauld up the hill out of Wanata State Park on 125th South out of Petersen, Iowa. That last edit was a haunting one showing the windshield wipers on delay and the two riders slowly clawing their way up to the sounds of "The Verve's" Bittersweet Symphony. I must have watched that clip a thousand times. (It was pulled down eventually due to copyright issues, of course) Anyway, I can clearly see that clip every time I hear that melody.
A rider picked up a "souvenir" along the road during Trans Iowa v2. Image by Jeff Kerkove.

Jeff had a way with media and that was clearly evident in his handling of the Trans Iowa v2 imagery. He clearly made an impact afterward upon several folks with what he produced, and of course, the tales coming out of that event were legendary. The event no one could finish! It was too odd that this was happening in Iowa of all places. I know that it raised some eyebrows, and going forward, Trans Iowa had a certain "something-something" which struck fear and awe into the minds of those who tried to comprehend what we were up to.

In many ways, because we had set such a course for a gravel event, it made others do things very differently, and others were starting to offer alternatives to Trans Iowa, (and by association, Dirty Kanza), which weren't so daunting, but still were gravel based and free from restrictions set by the ways things had been done in the past. But that is a different story. This is about Trans Iowa.

Next: Trans Iowa v3 - Moving On.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-34

Check out this 2010 Raleigh XXIX Pro. Remember when head tube angles were steep?
Ten years ago on the blog I was yakking about a new rim. A really wide rim. It was called the P-35 and was going to be offered by Velocity. It was the precursor to all this wider rim stuff we all take for granted now days.

There was also a big announcement from Trans Iowa. Jeff Kerkove knocked out another of his humorous Trans Iowa headers. I enjoyed having Jeff do these and he genuinely seemed to not be bothered by my requests for his artistic talents. The header for v6 was a mostly white background with black lettering and a "spilled pill bottle" theme. It actually inspired one entrant to send me a prescription bottle filled with gravel as his "post card" for that year. Pretty crazy. (And yes- I still have that bottle filled with gravel)

Then another thing that happened annually for a few years was when Raleigh was headed up by Brian Fornes. They were arguably the coolest during his tenure at the helm of that company. The 29"ers Raleigh made, especially the XXIX Pro models, were to die for. They rode awesomely, the spec was unreal, and the frames were top notch steel.

By the time they were hitting their stride I had far too many bikes sitting around and I never could bring myself to getting one. I maybe should have, because I likely would still have it. The geometry wasn't so laid back, low, and stretched as it is today and those bikes would have been perfect for around here.

But, times changed, geometry went whacko, and now most hard tails are so slacked out and short in the rear end that they are like riding wheel barrows here. maybe someday it'll all pull back toward something that makes sense for slicing through Mid-West single track.

Oh, and you probably are yelling at the computer now wondering why I didn't post an image of that T.I.v6 header. Well, here ya go.....

Designed by Jeff Kerkove

Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday News And Views

WTB Hints At 700c Versions Of Popular Road Plus Models:

While at Gravel Worlds last Friday, my friend Tony and I visited several company's booths. One of the most intriguing stops was at the WTB booth.

Of course, WTB's main business is tires and saddles which were both on display there. Tony stepped up and asked something about them making a 700c X 50mm Byway. The rep had a very interesting answer. 

"Keep an eye on our website for the next couple of weeks."

Now, you can read all sorts of things into that remark, but here are a few facts that might help support my guess, which I will share here in a bit:

First off, WTB has already told me that a 700 X 42 and 700 X 50 Venture tire was due this Summer. (Obviously- that hasn't happened yet) At the time that was announced, there was no word about any other of the Road Plus tires being brought to 700c. However; the rep at Gravel Worlds said the Byway is their number one selling tire. Hmmm....

Also, considering the fact that Eurobike is about to happen starting on September the 4th, an announcement of something new around that time would be totally believable. Many companies announce product ahead of shows so dealers will look for it when they attend a show. That would put an announcement "in a couple of weeks" in the perfect time window for Eurobike.

Finally, WTB, who arguably single handedly made 650B tires a "thing" for gravel with the Road Plus line, have none of those models available in 700c, which is the diameter of tire most gravel bikes come stocked with. Original Equipment (OE) contracts with manufacturers are what makes new product roll into the marketplace. So, if a manufacturer says, "Hey, WTB! Make us this Byway in a 700 X 50 and we'll buy thousands of them.", what do you think WTB would say?

Put all that together and what do you come up with? I am saying that the entire Road Plus line will be announced in 700c sizes. We'll see.......

For more of what I saw at the Gravel Worlds Expo, check out my RidingGravel.com report here.

A Shimano PRO Koryak external actuated dropper post in 27.2mm.
The Dropper Post Cometh:

Have you noted that many new gravel bikes come with dropper post routing but that you almost never see the actual dropper posts on any of these bikes? Yeah.....me too, but that is about to change.

One of the big reasons why this has been is due to the size of almost all gravel bikes internal diameter (ID) on the seat tube. Traditionally this has been 27.2mm. The reason why dropper posts haven't been prominent on gravel bikes is because most dropper posts are 30.9mm and 31.6mm in size, which reflects what an MTB bike's seat tube ID is most commonly.  There are 27.2mm dropper posts, of course, but generally speaking, the dropper range is either too much, the post is too expensive, (Thomson and Fox being prime examples of 27.2mm dropper posts here), or the quality is so poor, that manufacturers are possibly avoiding spec'ing them.

However; and this has been my experience using a dropper post on gravel, the component is something that would be a huge asset to anyone that rides on gravel. Free speed is there for the taking and I, for one, will eventually own a gravel bike with a dropper post. It isn't just a little bit faster on downhills, it is dramatically faster. 

"But", you may be thinking,"a dropper post is only for off road, or racers." Think about this scenario then: My fastest downhill speed at Gravel Worlds last weekend was a tic under 40mph. There is no doubt in my mind, based upon my experience riding a dropper post on gravel, that the max speed I would have seen had I been using a dropper post would have easily been closer to 45mph. Think that might affect average speed a bit? Multiply that over tens of down hills where I reached speeds of around 30mph regularly, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that the effect on overall time and speed on course would be greatly affected in a positive way simply by using a dropper post. All that with practically zero energy expenditure to gain that speed and time.

Now with several manufacturers stepping up with quality dropper posts in 27.2mm size, and more gravel/adventure bikes coming with the internal routing for these components, my bet is that dropper posts will become very common at rides in 2020 and beyond. I saw several in use at Gravel Worlds. No longer will you have to sacrifice your nether regions to the abuses of sitting on your top tube, ala Pro roadies, on descents. (And please- don't do that on gravel. It isn't really very safe on pavement!

The fargo Gen I with the Schwalbe G-One tires mounted.
I Missed You, Knobbies, I Missed You:

One thing I wanted to cover before moving on from Gravel Worlds was the gear I used. and in particular, the Schwalbe G - One 29" X 2.35 tires. Of course, you all that have been reading along already know about the issues I had with air loss in the rear tire.

The culprit ended up being a failed rim strip over a spoke hole. That was my fault since that wheel only had one run of tape, and I should have laid down two. Most times I do it that way, but for whatever reasons I had then, I didn't when I built up that wheel set.

Now- I'll talk about the performance of the tires, because I am taking them off this wheel set, and I'll tell you why in a minute. First- these tires are very light and very fast! I weighed them in at 553 and 556 grams. They had absolutely blazing downhill speed and I was able to out-coast anyone around me. That said, I had to really be careful in Nebraska's looser, sandy corners. These tires have very little grip unless the surface is hard and smooth. So, not much to dislike there, but I would also surmise that in Iowa's looser, deep gravel these tires would also be a handful.

Now, as to why I won't be keeping them on this wheel set. First off, these are WTB i19 rims you see in the image and they typically fit tubeless tires from several manufacturers really well. I've used these rims for at least 7 years, I think it has been, and all sorts of different tires have been mounted on these. And.....they all mounted pretty easily. Not so these G - Ones. They were utter Hell to mount because they were too loose! I had to take eight stabs at mounting one of them last week. Eight! I almost gave up. The other one took a few tries. Now that they have been on there, and that I had to dismount the one that gave me the most trouble, it- of course - is looser than when it was new. It's silly. I cannot mount it, nor would I leave it on,  if it would go, because of fear of blowing it off at some point. Of course, I tried it, it will not mount, and there is just no way I am going to fight to make that work. Not in 2019.

So, I have a Stan's based wheel set, a Sun Ringle' pre-built wheel set, and I'll try mounting them on there, but I am in no hurry to do this. Despite the speed and the size of these, I think I wasted my money if all they will securely fit is a Stan's based rim.  I think that is despicable these days. There is no reason for a tubeless tire manufacturer of Schwalbe's stature to have such poor tolerances in their product on the market. Bottom line- If the G - One 29" X 2.35" tires are all like mine, and unless you use Stan's rims, these tires are not recommended.

Note- I spent my own damn money on this product and was not paid, nor bribed for this opinion. 

Thanks for reading. have a great weekend!


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ti Muk 2 Upgrade Path: Part 4

The current look of the Ti Muk 2
In my last update, I mentioned getting the SON "Tail Light For Rack" rear light. Then I was going to install that and hopefully get to cleaning up the wiring situation a bit. Well, last week before Gravel Worlds I got to do all of those things. In this post I am going to detail what I did, how, and why I did these things. There are still many details left to attend to, but this is a rideable, durable, and pretty much worry free set up, in my opinion. With a few minor details tidied up, it should be about bomb proof.

The first thing I did was to remove the old Busch & Muller stay mounted tail light. That light is a good light, but it is just the wrong application for an adventure bike such as the Ti Muk 2. That old tail light may get repurposed, but that is another project for another time.

During the process of dealing with the tail light, I also delved into the rats nest of wadded up wiring which had been zip tied to the front cable housing. The connections were just twisted together and the leads were waaaaay too long! I had enough wiring from the tail light and the head light to wire up two bikes. Of course, I was going to have to shorten all of that. Then I had to sit down and give some serious thoughts to how I wanted to have the new wiring done. There were several points which guided my decision making process. Instead of laboriously going through each one, here is a bullet point list instead. If anyone has questions about these points, feel free to comment or e-mail me.
  • First- The wiring had to be really durable. Able to withstand rain, mud, snow, and rocks. 
  • The wiring had to be clean looking, short as possible, and not interfering with frame bags and pannier mounting. 
  • I did not require any provisions for rack removal or travel which might require boxing up the bike, etc. This isn't going anywhere unless it gets ridden there, transported by my truck, or via a bicycle car rack. This meant I didn't need to consider adding additional connectors to facilitate breaking the bike down. 
  • I wanted to reduce stress on wires wherever possible to prevent internal breakdown of the copper strands, and ultimately, failure due to that. 

That SON light is TINY!
The first thing I did after removing the old wiring was mount up the tail light. I've found that by doing bicycle computer wiring, and full run cable housing, it sometimes is best to wire from the back to the front, instead of the other way around. This ensures you don't cut your wire too short!

With the light secured to the back of the Salsa Alternator Rack, I then had to sit down and figure out not only where I wanted the wire to run, but how I was going to protect it. This area was going to be getting mud baths, snow/slush thrown around in there, and rocks from gravel roads could easily be flying around back here. While the lead provided by SON is about 20 times better than the flimsy plastic covered wires most dynamo systems use, I wasn't convinced it would survive my brand of fat biking. What to do?

After much deliberation and looking through the enormous piles of bicycle detritus I have, I came upon a great solution. I have, for whatever reasons, about three dead Blackburn floor pumps. (Why do we keep this stuff?!) If I could push the wire through an old hose from a floor pump, then mount that to the bike, it would be ultimate protection for the wire, and I could zip tie that hose without stressing the copper strands inside the lead dress. Cool! So, that is what I did with the tail light lead. It fit in with a bit of room to spare, and my new "rubber conduit" now could be routed from back to front. It would not only protect the lead wires from the elements, but from a rubbing frame bag as well.

This was going to work out well. I was excited to get going on this project, so instead of going to bed early, as I should have in preparation for Gravel Worlds on Wednesday evening, I stayed up until almost midnight wiring the bike up!

Wiring under the rack and to the top tube of the Ti Muk 2
I decided I needed to make sure I could use the rack with panniers, and I wanted to clear the rear tire as much as possible, so I chose the routing you can see above here. NOTE: I am planning on modifying a Dave's Mud Shovel rear fender to go in here permanently as another layer of protection to the wiring.

A view of the business end of all this wiring and cable housing. There is still much to do here.
I had to use a second bit of hose from one of the other dead pumps to make the distance from the rear of the rack all the way up to the head tube of the bike. This left me with a good sized chunk of pump hose and got me to thinking, "Why not do this to the front wire lead as well?" So, I undid the wiring for the front light, which was miles too long anyway, and pushed that even more fragile wire lead through the old pump hose, then "Boucher Routed" it along the back of the right fork leg, behind the fork crown, and exited the wires on the left side of the bike. Conveniently, the hole drilled through the fork crown can then be used as a zip tie mount. I use this same routing for rigid fork disc brake hose/cable routes as well.

I used brand new crimp-on spade connectors and shrink tubing on the connections to the lights and for the connection between the fork wire and headlight. There is a nifty little coaxial connector which looks very robust for the hub to fork wiring, which is available from Peter White Cycling, and at some point I may get that. But from stem to stern otherwise, the new wiring scheme should be very robust.

I did make one minor mistake the first time I got everything back together. This had to do with the light itself. Many readers will remember that when I got this bike that the head light was mounted on the outermost bar of the Carbon Jones Loop Bar. This was fine from a lighting standpoint, but it wasn't good from my perspective when it comes to adventure biking, bashing around in the woods, and the like. That thing cantilevered off the bar, as it was, could have been knocked off easily in a tumble. So, my friend Tony suggested I "hang it down" from the bracket in between the outer "loop" of the Jones Bar and the inner part of the bar.

The light is oriented correctly and much less apt to be damaged in a tumble in this placement.
I did this, but when I went out for my test ride last week, I was baffled by how bad the light was shining ahead of me until I realized what it was I had done. By simply "flipping" the mount and hanging it down, I had put the headlight in an upside down orientation. It is designed to be one way, and not upside down! The light was spilling in the completely wrong way, thus my dissatisfaction with how it looked that night.

Now instead of simply pointing the mount down, I re-oriented the light correctly with the bracket pointing forward and down. That made all the difference in the world, and actually gets the beam up and out of the cable housings.

So, everything functions as it should, the wiring is far more robust, stable, and better looking. The SON tail light is bright, even without a reflector, and it can be seen from the side quite well also. When I get that Dave's Mud Shovel fender in there, the plan is to have it extend out enough to protect that tail light from splash and flying debris. That should do it for the rear end. I may also get one of those minimalist "fenders" as a splash guard of sorts for the front wiring as well.

When I have ridden the bike several times and I am satisfied with it all, I will then heat shrink the tubing where I have it over connections and seal off the open ends of the old pump hose/conduit with silicone gasket material or the like. Then I should have the "upgrade path" completed.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Gravel Worlds '19: Part 3

Rolling into the high country of the "Bohemian Alps" at Gravel Worlds
My plan was working excellently. I felt great so far after 30 miles in, and I almost had an hour "in the bank" to spend on stops, if need be. My first planned stop was going to be at Loma which was about 40 miles into the course.

While on my way there I ran into a couple of folks giving me props on this blog and for RidingGravel.com. (Sincere thanks again to anyone who mentioned my work while we were riding. I totally appreciate it.) I cannot remember everybody, but I remember Shane, and of course, Warren. I do also remember seeing Ben Petty who is from my area and he quipped, "I think I see you more in Nebraska than back home!" I generally run into Matt Wills, a former Trans Iowa finisher and GTDRI veteran at some point during every Gravel Worlds I do, and this one was no exception. Matt took notice of my square taper crank set and said, "Square taper! How do those arms even stay on the bike?!" He was being sarcastic, of course, as he was spinning a set of square taper White Industries cranks!  Anyway, the interactions with other riders was fun and much appreciated.

As I was chatting with Warren, we ended up in Loma. Warren pushed on riding his black single speed, and I pulled up for my first stop. I needed to use a restroom, get more water, and maybe look for some suitable road food to take away with me when I decided to leave. By the time I reached Loma, the Sun had cleared the clouds and it was bright and sunny. Of course, it was also getting hotter. That didn't matter to me. I was having a great ride so far. But I also new that there was a long way to go.

The scene outside the Loma Tap. Free water fill up at the red pick-up truck. That's Pell Duval in the orange tutu. 
The owner of the bar plugging in some coins to get the music rolling. Mostly country music from the 60's and 70's here.
Upon entering the bar I did a double take. There was a woman working there, probably into her 60's, and in good shape for that age, with a raging beehive hairdo, heavy eye make-up, and a shirt that said "Loma Is My Second Homa". She looked like a brunette version of Tammy Wynette. Anyway, I was floored because I don't think I've seen a beehive hairdo in the wild since I was a younginz.

I didn't spend a ton of time there, but I moved on with a full compliment of water and a couple of granola bars for the road. Next stop on the course was going to be Valparaiso. I didn't plan on stopping there, but instead I thought I'd put in another 20 miles and stop next at the first checkpoint at Mile 60. The roads were very hilly, but since we had passed the highest part of the course, it was mostly downhill to Valpo. I think it was in this section where I hit 39.8 mph at one point, which was my max speed for the day.

Valparaiso, Nebraska
I was cruising along when I saw a couple of cyclists as we were about to make a right hand turn. One was a smaller woman on an Ice Cream Truck fat bike and the other was a guy on a nice looking red bike. I almost missed the turn and kind of cut off those two in the process. It wasn't intentional, but I felt bad about that. Anyway, the guy on the nice looking red bike came up alongside on my right and I noted that it was a Singular. Now, those are rare bikes, and so I thought, "Hey! Maybe I know this guy!" Upon more scrutiny, I found out it was Scott, and it was his old red Singular he's had for years. We chatted a bit and then I moved on down the road. I saw Pell ahead of me, and I eventually passed him as well and went right on through Valpo on my way to Branched Oak Farms which was about another ten miles down the road.

In this section I was passed by a young woman on a bike and I thought I recognized her from breakfast earlier at the hotel. I sprinted up to her and sure enough, it was her. We had a fantastic conversation and I was duly impressed with her personality. She suddenly said, "By the way, my name is Meg. What's your name?" Well, of course I answered, but having such a direct question like that was attention getting. Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Meg. Thanks, if you ever read this. That made my day better.

So, Meg finally outpaced me and disappeared up ahead. I plugged along feeling okay as the heat got hotter and the Sun rode up into the sky. It was getting to be about 11:00am and I had a good hour plus in the bank time-wise. I was looking forward to a bit of a rest at the checkpoint. I thought I wouldn't spend much time there and then just push onward to Malcolm, another ten miles up the road, and rest a bit more there since there is shade in Malcolm, not so much at Branched Oak.
The Branched Oak Farms volunteers were awesome.

Eventually I pulled into Branched Oak Farms and I was tired, but I was feeling like I had more miles in me yet. The weather had gone hot and humid with a good stiff wind. That's always a tough deal for me. But I had time in the bag and my plan at this point into the ride was to take it easy and rest when I needed it. At this point I was just interested in getting water, maybe eating, and then getting out and back into some kind of rhythm.

As I was getting something to eat, (a handful of Fritos, a plain hot dog, and a Coke), I ran into Meg again as she was just getting ready to head back out on the course. We chatted a bit, then I went around the backside of the small outbuilding there to get into some shade while I sipped my soda. I spoke a bit with Steve and Kathy who were doing a tandem class ride. After I sipped the last of the soda. I grabbed my bike to head out. Just as I did I saw Meg take off. I wouldn't see her again, but I heard she finished strong.

WooHoo! A MMR in Gravel Worlds!

I hadn't gone up the road far when I realized something wasn't right. My guts were churning and I was starting to feel like I was not "running right", for lack of a better term. I turned onto a dirt road then and this was where the course was two-way. The 75 mile course riders were going against us and so on these rutted out tracks on the dirt road, I had to watch carefully as I climbed a steep hill and the others were bombing down the same. Yeah......ahhh....Frankly I wouldn't have ever considered doing that in one of my events. It just sounds like trouble in the making, but I made it with no issues. That is, other than breaking off a water bottle cage!

Wait a minute! Something is missing here!
It was comical, actually. I was thinking I needed to get more water down the hatch and climbing slowly was as good a time as any to start hydrating. I grabbed my right fork mounted bottle, and as I did, unbeknownst to me, the cage pulled through the bolts that were holding it. It was a Velocity Bottle Trap, so a plastic cage, not metal.

I took several swigs as I kept an eye on any traffic that might be speeding downhill toward me. Then I tried to replace the bottle in the cage, while not looking, and kept missing the cage, which was frustrating. I have had this bike so long, I can "no-look" a bottle in that fork mount cage any day. What the heck!...... 

So, finally I bend down to look and no cage! What?!! I stopped and looked 20 yards down the trail and there it was laying in a rut. So, I fetched it and stuffed the bottle in my Chaff Bag after rearranging some other stuff. Then I was back on the bike. By this time the heat was raging on that dirt road and I was feeling not so great. I climbed slowly up and finally back on gravel. It was becoming quite the slog and my gut wasn't getting better, it was getting worse. The legs felt fine, I didn't have any dizziness, no sleepy feelings, just a big, bloated gut feeling and churning in the intestines.

Well, my power was being sapped since my guts were shutting down. It wasn't far to Malcom now. I figured on cruising into town, finding some shade, and just giving myself some time. I had a lot of "time in the bank", my average speed was above 12 mph, and it wasn't even noon yet.


As I was assessing my options, Pell Duvall caught me again and asked how it was going, as I tried to answer I just about belched up my dinner. I probably should have. Maybe it would have been gross, but maybe it would have made me feel better. Anyway, Pell gave me some thoughts to chew on and then he rolled on. I made it into town and sat down besides the Post Office in the shade on some cool concrete. I felt awful by this point. My gut was not happy. It was getting painful now. Things weren't fun anymore.

Well, I gave myself until 12:30pm to make a call on whether to go on or to cut the course where the return loop of the next 75 miles came back to Malcom. Rob Evans and his crew were in the car wash building and invited me over. I walked over, a bit light headed and sore in the gut, and by 12:30pm, despite feeling kind of okay, but weak, I had to say no more. I knew what lay ahead. Some of the biggest hills, the hottest part of the day was yet to come, and this would be the furthest point away from the start which I would be headed into.

Crash landing site back at Fallbrook neighborhood.
I made the prudent decision, as I was responsible for myself, to get myself back to the start without encumbering anyone else. I knew it wasn't going to be easy to ride about ten more miles, or whatever it was, but I figured the last drops in the tank needed to be about making sure I got back.

I set off, bidding Rob and his merry men farewell. I felt awful. Not just physically awful, but I felt shame and a lot of disappointment. This last section was going to be populated by guys finishing. Fast guys. I had heard that the winning lead packs were about finished up, and had gone by Malcom already, but surely more were coming. It wasn't going to be fun cutting the course back to Lincoln getting passed by the serious racer crowd, but whatever.

I did get passed by about six guys going, what I assumed was, cruising pace for them. They were guys that probably had gotten shelled out of the lead group. Now, with "nothing to gain" they were kind of like me. Just riding to get back to the finish. Only they were a lot faster at that! 

It was slow, but I slogged it out to the finish area. I stopped at one point to take my number plate off and disable my chip timer. When I made it back, I stopped well short of the finish line to inform a volunteer I was not a finisher, then I dismounted, giving the finish line a wide berth. I did not want any confusion that I was a finisher. Gravel Worlds, to my knowledge, doesn't have a "DNF Line", so this was the best I could think of at the time and in the condition I was in. I ended up walking around the SchillingBridge Tap House looking for a suitable place to sit in the shade but there wasn't anything appealing to me. So, I walked back to Tony's truck, saw some shade under a pine tree, and threw myself into the grass. Just about 77 miles down.

By the time I got back to the finish area, it felt like someone was stabbing me from the inside out. I definitely made the right decision to head back from Malcom. There was no way I was getting much further down the course without assistance later. I writhed in half awake pain and fitful napping for about an hour before the pain relented enough that I could get into Tony's truck with all the windows down and just concentrate on relaxing and recovery.

Then I grabbed my phone to pass the time and take my mind off my disappointing finish. That's when I saw that someone posted on my Facebook timeline and was congratulating me on finishing 11th in Gravel Worlds. What?!! Oh! Hold on! I figured it out. That timing and scoring loop must have picked me up anyway! I sent a message to the person who posted as a comment on that post of there's and made sure I set the record straight. Not long afterward, the guys from Gravel Worlds contacted me and we got it all straightened out. I apologize for that mess! I had no intentions of "finishing" like that!

Oh, and remember my rear tire that had gone soft the day before Gravel Worlds?

Tony ended up finishing at around seven o'clock. We met up then and were going to go out to eat when Tony discovered that my rear tire was dead flat on the bike rack on the truck. Crazy tire! It was fine all day! Well, at least as long as I needed it to be.

This ends the Gravel Worlds '19 report. Thanks to the PCL, volunteers, and riders that make this event so special. I had another awesome day with rad folks.