Monday, September 30, 2019

Barns For Jason: The N.Y. Roll Ride

A shadowy Barns For Jason in the early morning twilight Saturday.
Saturday I went for a bicycle ride very early in the morning with New York Roll. I typically don't get up this early for a ride, and that's a shame, because riding into the morning is an awesome thing to do. I highly recommend doing it.

This ride started at 5:30am and the route was by N.Y. Roll on some roads he had been eying to do in the Southeastern part of Black Hawk County. We also made a short foray into Benton County as well. Since this ride consisted of about 55% new-to-me territory, I saw a lot of new-to-me barns. You know what that means if you've been reading this blog for any amount of time. It means it is time to share more "Barns For Jason".

I'm not going to assume that everyone knows what this is, so please bear with me as I give a brief recap on what this post refers to.

"Barns For Jason" started out as a "barn find challenge" between myself and Jason Boucher, a friend of mine from Minnesota. He laid out the rules which are as follows; 1: ALL images must be taken during a bicycle ride. 2: Once a barn has been shared, it cannot be used in the challenge again. Pretty basic rules. Jason found out though that I could find a lot more barns than he was finding on his routes, so he bowed out of this challenge years ago. But I still do it, according to these simple rules. I still do this, mostly to document the barns in rural Iowa and elsewhere that I ride, because they represent a time gone by in history.

Okay, with that said, here are the barns I saw on our ride Saturday.


Fall Views: N.Y. Roll Ride

It's a jungle out there!
Saturday was a planned, very early morning ride with N.Y. Roll. I figured that we should get our ride in early, while my family slept in. My son was in a high school football game Friday night and that meant that nobody at the palatial Guitar Ted Productions headquarters got to sleep before 12:30am. Yeah.....I did not get a lot of sleep either. 

The alarm went off at 04:30 am and I rubbed my bleary eyes and jumped to it. I met N.Y. Roll at the Stone Castle Estates, where I was greeted by his dog, Ella, at the door. After a short chat, we were off in the direction of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail (CVNT), going Southeast out of town, so we could explore some roads that N.Y. Roll had been on and a few he had not been on.

Fall air was in play as it was about 52°F at the beginning of the ride, and it dipped down a bit from there. There was a mostly cloudy sky, (although we couldn't see anything at first), and a light breeze out of the Northwest. All in all it was pretty pleasant, actually. I wore my base layer, my Twin Six Standard Wool jersey, wool arm warmers, a vest, Showers Pass shorts, Zion liner, Twin Six wool socks, and I cut up a couple plastic shopping bags which I wrapped around my toes and then I put on my Shimano RX8 shoes over that. I wore a tube sock (or "Buff", as they are called) under my helmet. I was warm all ride long and never was really uncomfortable. Temperatures probably dipped into the upper 40's at some points, and it got up to 58°F by rides end.

I rode the Noble Bikes GX5 with a clip on rear fender fitted, and a Revelate Tangle Bag, along with an old Carousel Designs bento bag. I used the Giant Recon HL 1600 front light and a Bontrager tail light. Equipment was spot on for this ride.

A ghostly N.Y. Roll rides alongside me South of Waterloo, Iowa.
N.Y. Roll wanted to head over to the CVNT and take that to Foulk Road which would lead us South to gravel, eventually. Once we hit gravel, it was readily apparent that the previous day's soaking rain had not been fully absorbed here. I couldn't really see it, but it was more about how the gravel sounded and felt. It was still to dark to make out much, even with our bright LED torches leading the way.

N.Y. Roll advised me that we were looking for Miller Creek Road and there we would go left. It wasn't long and we had made the corner and when we did the dead flat road, on a river valley floor, was not very well drained or solid. In fact, it was in classic, "Trans Iowa condition", being mushy, muddy, and it was causing a lot of extra effort and concern for my drive train. While I never heard any crunchy, snappy weirdness from the chain ring or cassette while it integrated with the chain, I did get a bit of skipping at a couple of points. Mud was flinging off my front tire in the light beam, and I could hear the maelstrom of grit pounding off the carbon down tube and off the back of the seat tube. Not a pleasant sound! I was sure hoping this was an odd situation and that the rest of the roads were going to be better.

N.Y. Roll wanted to turn onto Cotter Road eventually, and when we made that turn South, we found that the road trended upward in elevation and the road was much firmer and faster than what I had been on before. Of course, now the light was growing as the Sun, somewhere behind those clouds in the Eastern sky, mounted up and brought forth day.

Up and into drier territory on Cotter Road. 
Stopping for a nature break.
N.Y. Roll's plan was to show me a set of rollers with a big drop off on Cotter Road, and then to head into Benton County a bit, before coming back North and eventually into LaPorte, Iowa. There the plan was to hit the original Rocket's Bakery and have a pastry and coffee.

Pushing further South.

Eventually we went South past LaPorte a bit and then circled back around and North a hair to catch HWY 218 North into LaPorte. Oddly enough, while several cars went out Southward, we were never passed by a car or truck all the way into town and on to Rocket's, it was free and clear. Riding pavement was a bit different, but sometimes I actually do this, and I haven't forgotten how.

Drafting into LaPorte from the South on HWY 218.
Someone carved what was left of an old tree into a corn cob. 

Once we got rolled into town it was on to get a pastry. I was hungry for the last six miles or so before LaPorte and I was ready to have that and a nice cup of coffee. The temperatures never did really warm up much, despite the Sun peeking out.

Highly recommended if you are ever in LaPorte, Iowa. The Rocket's Bakery blueberry fritter was great!
Heading out of LaPorte, the Sun actually shone for a bit.
After a bit of coffee and an excellent blueberry fritter, it was back on the CVNT toward Waterloo and home again. It was a good ride and I got 46+ miles in the legs by 10:00am. It was nice to be back and spend the day with the family.

Riding along the mighty Cedar River in Waterloo, Iowa.
The Noble GX5 after I returned home.
The bike worked great, and so did I! Ha! But seriously.... I did have to modify the seat tube water bottle mount with a B-Rad rail to get the bottle mounted lower than stock so it would clear the Tangle Bag. Then the SKS clip on fender was a Godsend. Without it I would have been plastered with mud and wetter than I was, and therefore colder too.

I am looking forward to more early morning rides! Thanks N.Y.Roll for getting me out there.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Tales Of v3

The "Dirty Blue Box" as seen on a recon of v4's course.
"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!

 The memories I have that are most vivid about the first part of v3 are those of relief over getting the cues squared away, then the assembly line bag stuffing deal I did with myself and my two young children. That was a memorable family time for me, but I was also a bit angry that I was so desperate to get the job done that I felt I had to recruit them. Fortunately, they were willing subjects and I tried to make it as fun as I possibly could.

Then the day of the pre-race, loading up that ridiculously small Honda, with a ton of crap to put on the race, and heading up there to Decorah......alone. See, this was the very first time I had done this without Jeff. The year before was a stellar experience with him. We had fun, the camaraderie was unforgettable, and I cherished that experience, and still do. This time? Wow! Was that a pit-in-the-gut, lonely drive facing a task I was not sure I was prepared for. Plus, I had the deal with Zach, who wanted to meet me to brief him on the event. Uggh! I felt very uncomfortable.

To top all that off, I only secured the upper level of the sports bar in town a short time before this event as the meeting spot for T.I.v3's pre-race. It was an ancient Odd Fellows hall above T-Bock's in downtown Decorah. The building was old, and the space hadn't been occupied in decades, judging from the run down appearance of things. The T-Bock's folks had told me that they had intended on renovating the space, but had never gotten around to it. The venue was reached by going around the back into a separate entrance, and then up a steep, wide staircase. There you found a short entryway, an old, wooden bar, and beyond that, a big empty room with a few tables and chairs which we could use as a meeting room. This was in the same space we used for the first Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, later that Summer.

The pre-race meeting for v3. Image by Cale Wenthur.

I remember hauling up all the stuff I had which took several trips up and down that steep staircase. It was tiring. Then, off to meet Zach and get him up to speed. That actually was enjoyable. Despite my never having had any contact with him besides e-mail, we hit it off pretty well, I thought, and I took him out on course to give him a view of what to expect there. In speaking with Zach, he revealed to me that his whole investigative trip was made possible by an advance the publisher had sent to him. He felt a deep responsibility to deliver a good book, so I think he was feeling as nervous and under pressure as I felt I was. Maybe that was where our connection started. Anyway....

With that under my belt I was set to do the pre-race. I saw a few T-Bock's folks and they wanted to know if I needed any beer or soft drinks up there. Hmm..... Did I? What did I need? These details were things I never dreamed of having to deal with. I was unsure, but in the end, the beer flowed and people started showing up.

Questions, questions, and more questions. I recall getting a bit annoyed by that. Then I started the meeting and out of the slightly over 100 bags I had made up and cue sheet sets I worked my ass off making, only 64 people showed up to claim them. 64! Fully half of the registered riders originally, and fully over 40 no-shows! (Previously I had thought it was maybe 35, but I found where I had taken nearly 110 bags to the event, so...) It was extremely embarrassing, angering, and I was fit to be tied. The riders seemed nonplussed, happy, and excited to ride the next day. I was pissed off. I don't remember saying much to anyone post-meeting. I was a bit surprised by those that offered a helping hand to get stuff out of there that night though. That was a nice gesture. If you were one of those folks and you are reading this, I am very thankful for your assistance that evening! Finally, I went back to my motel room immediately to grab some shut eye.

At least I slept like a baby. Probably the best night of sleep pre-Trans Iowa I ever had in the 14 years of doing it.

Next: More Stories of v3

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-39

Jeff Kerkove (R) and myself at Interbike 2009. (Image taken by S. Looney)
Ten years ago here on this blog I was telling Interbike stories from my short trip the week previous. Again, as I stated last week, I think this was the last, "good" Interbike show I attended. 2010 wasn't bad, but we'll get to that about a year. 

Anyway, this Interbike trip was always a HUGE pain to me but also a HUGE blessing in that I got to see certain people only at that show. If there is a negative to not having Interbike, this would be the only one, in my mind.

Humans, at least North American ones, seem to only get together if "forced to" by an occasion. You know.....weddings, funerals, class reunions, etc. Otherwise we're not tuned into just "making the time" just to see a friend, relative, or acquaintance. I am as guilty of this as anyone. I'm just making the observation. This image of Jeff Kerkove and I is a prime example of that.

Anyway, that is a time gone by, Interbike, that is, and I am glad I attended those years that I did. I always tried to make it something of an adventure, because if it wasn't, then why bother? The walks down the Strip, riding bikes down the Strip, or wandering around in the seamy back alleys of the casinos. Whatever it was I did there, I tried to keep it all above board and fun. But always the main thing remained. That was the people. Interbike was always about the people I met.

Interbike, ultimately, was taken down by technology. The reasons the trade show existed back in the Analog Era were all circumvented by the dawning of the Digital Age. You can virtually see components and bikes via the computer in your hand at a moments notice, and marketers go direct to that device now. Even the buying of stock for stores is all done on-line. The days of signing an order and getting a handshake are long gone, supplanted by faceless technology.

And in a way, cycling is going down that same path. You don't have to join a group ride anymore, or get on a trail. You can Zwift anytime you like. Scenery passes by on your big screen device safely, and everything is digitized- Right down to the post ride data which goes up on your social media immediately. Just sit back and count "the likes". Whoopee!

Someday I'll probably hear some young person ask me what it was like when we could feel the wind in our hair.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday News And Views

Low profile lock ring (L) and typical Shimano style (R)
A Close Shave:

I decided it was high time to get a move on and check out some stuff I have in for review and testing for . I had been waiting on the wheels I was supposed to be getting, but there are delays, and then shipping, and yada,yada,yada....... Time is getting short in the review world in the Upper Mid-West when it comes to gravel road travel. Soon we will have ice and snow, or one would think, and then that's that for doing anything meaningful with regard to this gig on for me.

Anyway.... I digress as usual. The thing is, all this other stuff I had was waiting on those wheels and it's been weeks now. So, an executive decision was made and I swapped out to my Irwin Cycling carbon wheels to stand in for the wheels I was supposed to be getting. That unlocks a dam of accessory stuff I used to set up the tires tubeless and the tires themselves are a review as well.

Everything went well except for when I dumped the entire cassette/free hub assembly right off the hub onto the floor as I was doing the tubeless set up. Doh! Fortunately it fell in such a way that the free hub wasn't damaged, but......a couple of those itty-bitty pawls came out!  Where did they go?!! A full blown freak-out was averted when I almost immediately found the two rascals. Then it took 15 minutes to coax it all back together and finally, I was able to get back to what I had intended on doing. NOTE: The Irwin Cycling Aon GX 35 Carbon Wheels have a free hub that has a tool-less removal. (Got it!)

Next up was to fit the wheels into the test bike, the Noble Bikes GX5. Well, the back wasn't a problem. A little derailleur adjustment and "bingo!". Spot on. I put the front in, screwed in the through axle bolt, and tightened it. The wheel would barely turn. "Ah!", I thought, "Probably needs a caliper adjustment." I loosened the caliper and.....what? The wheel wasn't turning. But the brake pads are not even touching the rotor??

Then it dawned on me. Something is dragging on a stationary part. I've had IS adapter bolts drag on rotors, and similar issues, but this was a new one on me. The lock ring for the center lock rotor was dragging on the "bulge" which accommodated the threaded insert to accept the lower flat mount caliper fixing bolt. (See image above for differences in lock rings.) The original wheels had a low profile lock ring while the Irwin ones used a traditional Shimano style lock ring.

The green arrow points to the minuscule amount of clearance for the lock ring on the rotor.
Okay, so swap lock ring, done, bing,bam,boom! Right? Not so fast....... The low profile lock ring on the Irwin wheel would not engage the Center Lock rotor unless I used a spacer. (By the way, I see now looking at my own picture that the spacer isn't centered. Yeah.... Still works, but I'll likely fix that.)

Once spacer and low-pro lock ring are on there I have a freely spinning wheel. Yay! I look at the clearance. What?! A close shave there, but it worked. All it has to do is clear that part of the fork. I maybe could look for a thinner spacer(s), and I probably will, but at least I got the thing to work now.

So, when your mechanic says that there was an issue swapping wheels on your fancy-pants bike, maybe you might recall this, and then think twice about it before you let him/her have what for. Standards? HA! It's always something, I tell ya........

C.O.G. 100 Course Drawn Up:

So, a little news today on the course for the C.O.G. 100 coming up in March of next year. I got a preliminary course drawn up and now we will see about reconning it. That is, if it ever stops raining around here. 

So, here's the deal. You C.O.G. 100 freaks weren't too pleased when I gave you 11 bonus miles for your single speed pleasure last Spring, so I've cut the bonus miles down to three.  THREE! That means the course, tentatively speaking, will be 103 miles in length. We may be able to shave it closer to 100 after we recon the thing, but I doubt it.

The next thing I recall folks getting all screwed up about was where the resupply point was. So, guess what? It is- again, this is tentative, subject to change without warning, and all that- at about FORTY EIGHT MILES INTO THE COURSE! Can you believe it? Now watch......someone will say that doesn't work for them. Just wait. Someone will complain about this. Anyway.......

So, there is ANOTHER chance to resupply- albeit off course on a hard top road about 3/4's of a mile from the course- at about 67 miles in. How about that? TWO chances to resupply. I don't know, but that sounds pretty good to me. Oh! And if you avail yourself of the second chance at resupply, YOU GET MORE BONUS SINGLE SPEEDING! (No charge, completely free and optional!)

Now, there will be Level B Road sections. Yes, plural. BUT.....the total should be 1 mile. The first section is really pretty short. Maybe a quarter mile. The next one looks to be about , (you guessed it!), 3/4's of a mile. Unlike last Spring, these will be later into the course, within the last third, I'd say now. Again, that could change. We haven't done ANY recon yet, so keep your mind open to possible changes.

Oh yeah.....there will be a few hills. I wouldn't worry much about that part.

That's it for today folks! Get out and ride those bicycles!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Fall Views: Harvesting Just Beginning

Despite threats of showers, I went on a ride South of town.
The season of Fall officially started, in terms of the solar system, but Fall generally is really already happening by now anyway. Even the corn fields and bean fields are being cleared by this time, which, if that isn't fall, I don't know what is. This year has been quite odd in this regard though.

Due to a cold, wet Spring, fields weren't planted until late, and this has caused the harvest to have only juuuuust started now. Many fields are a long way out from being ready. To give you somewhat of an idea of how wacky this growing season has been, I saw a large local farm's truck selling fresh sweet corn on a street corner yesterday. It's almost October! Usually sweet corn is all done by the time school starts.

Farmers are worried that we will have a killing frost before the corn dries down, and if we do..... Well, let's not think about that. A couple more weeks and most of the corn and beans should be fine. But it is getting down into the 40's at night on occasion already.

Anyway, so it's been kind of a weird Fall so far, with all this green-ish corn and bean fields only now just getting dried out to the point that they can be harvested around here. I saw one or two bean fields that had been cleared on my ride. Speaking of riding, I started riding one of the bikes in the "Guitar Ted Lube-Off" challenge, the Noble Bikes GX5, to be exact, and I decided to run South of town to get away as far as I could from some occasional spitting rain. I decided to ride out of that Lichty Park I mentioned earlier, down in Orange.

Clouds were variable, but it felt a LOT like Fall yesterday.
I came across this County maintainer on Quarry Road.
The wind was pretty stiff out of the West/Northwest. Much like a Fall wind, and while it was not cold, it wasn't warm enough for just a jersey either. I was super glad I had a vest. Just right! 3/4 length Twin Six pants and wool socks made the 60's and the chill in the wind feel okay.

The gravel was chunky South of town and there were no lines for smoother travel until I got about four or five miles out. Then it smoothed up a bit, but last night's rain made much of the road surface soft, and it was even muddy in places. I avoided the mushy bits, but even then, sometimes my wheel would get sucked in and man! What a reminder that soft roads take so much more energy to ride! It didn't help that I wasn't really feeling my best on the bike either. The "I'm dragging an anchor" feeling wasn't helped by those mushy bits of road!

Barns For Jason
Despite the presence of heavy clouds at times during my ride. I only got sprinkled on once for a short time. 
Going South felt...normal, going East felt okay, but I could swear that I was bucking a tiny bit of wind in either direction. Maybe it was my legs, because when I turned back North, there it was! The headwind was definitely a quartering one, but I was now pushing against it, no doubt at all. The bits going West were just brutal! Uggh! New roads to me though, and that made it a bit less of a slog. I just didn't like the one mile of pavement I had to ride to make my loop work. Oh well! Roads bagged. Don't have to ride them again.

Barns For Jason- Part 2
Barns For Jason - Part 3- This is a rare one made of brick and wood.
To get the loop in I actually had to go back South one mile after trying to get North, then over three miles, and back up that mile I went South. Roads are fairly gridded out in Iowa, bit things like creeks, ponds, and other natural things. So, sometimes you have to "go round" and add a mile here and there to get where you want to go.

I'm pretty sure there used to be a barn here. Now all that is left is the silo.
The steed for the day: The Noble Bikes GX5
The rain stayed away, for the ost part. I did get sprinkled on right at the end there, but I got the ride in and no drama with weather. So, that was a good deal. two hours in on one of the three chain lubes now. Next up- one of the other bikes/lubes I will be testing. 

In the meantime, I am hoping to get a chance to ride the C.O.G. 100 course for recon Saturday, weather pending. Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

PSA: Change Your Drop Bar Tape (More) Often

This is a roll of handle bar tape. You need to get used to seeing this more.
There is a strange undercurrent in the bicycling world where cyclists seem to want to be frugal and not spend money on maintenance when in reality it is in their best interests to do so. I could name several areas of concern, but possibly one of the most concerning is where people insist on making their handle bar tape last, well.......apparently forever. 

This isn't just me saying some cyclists have poor taste, (although one could make that argument here), no- It is much more than that. It is unsanitary, and potentially unsafe from a catastrophic failure standpoint. Let's take a closer look......

When you ride, you sweat. That sweat goes .......somewhere. It either evaporates into the air, gets absorbed by your clothing, or it drips off on to several different places. One of the most common places on a drop bar bike that sweat ingresses is at the hoods/handle bar area. Your bar tape absorbs this sweat, generally, and keeps that sweat trapped against the (usually) aluminum bar where it starts to corrode the bar. This causes what is known as "crevice corrosion" of the aluminum. If left unchecked, this corrosion can cause catastrophic failure of aluminum handle bars. What happens when your handle bar suddenly fails? You don't want to find out. This is especially troublesome with those who use indoor cycling training apps and ride stationary for much of the cooler weather months.

Recently N.Y. Roll had his bike worked on and it required that he have his bars unwrapped. This revealed some nasty corrosion, and in fact, his bar fell in two pieces during this unwrapping! I actually saw the bar and it was about the thickness of a pop can at the point where it had corroded away. N.Y. Roll was lucky, and I bet he will be wrapping his bars more often now.

So, why do people get upset when their handle bar tape doesn't last two years? (Unless they ride only a couple hundred miles a year, then, yeah) I don't get it. Cheapo handle bar tape is actually not too bad these days and you can get a set of rolls to cover your bars for less than three fancy IPA's at a bar. I dunno..... I just don't see the logic in trying to make it over a year on one roll of tape. It just isn't sanitary, (think of wearing the same underwear for a year!), or safe. Why take the risk?

Oh, you say you can't wrap your bars? If you want to learn, it isn't that hard to do. Don't want to bother? Have someone you know that has the skill do it, or, ya know.....your local bike shop could do this. But at any rate, just don't run the same tape for more than a season. It's gross if you do and potentially not safe. Besides, you can change up the look of your bike, use different colors, or, ya know, just be the same-ol-same-ol and use black. Whatever you do, change that bar tape more often!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Ti Muk 2 Upgrade Path: Part 5

Fendered rear Ti Muk 2- Will be doing the front soon.
The modification of parts is something I kind of like doing sometimes. Well, I had wanted a fender on the new-to-me Ti Muk 2. But, with a rack on the bike, it kind of precluded using the clip on fender I've had for a while. So, I had an idea, but I just waited until Monday to get it done. Of course, it required some modding.

I used a Dave Grey's Mud Shovel for the rear mount. One of the things I thought was a little goofy about this rear, seat post mounted fender was that it tapered to a smaller width in the back. That spray from a rear fat bike tire always bypassed the rear edges of the fender and got stuff all over the place regardless of having that fender there. Of course, it was better than not having a fender, but it was silly, I thought.

Well, thinking this deal over, what with a rack on there and the light with the wiring harness and all, I was thinking that there may be some way to get that rear specific piece of Mud Shovel plastic to sit so it protected the dynamo tail light's wiring harness and still gave decent clearance for the rear tire. I took the flat black sheet and held it in various ways and then it dawned on me that I could literally get two benefits in one by orienting the Mud Shovel "backward" under the rack top.

With some consideration given to clearance the rack stays, a bit of guesswork, and a pair of scissors, I managed to fit it underneath the rack. Mounting was accomplished by using a dental tool to poke several holes in strategic places to allow for cable ties to be strung up. These wrapped around various points of the rack, drawn up tight, and clipped to length and were enough to secure the now reverse mounted Mud Shovel into place.

Rear view of the modded fender. Note the cable tie mounts.
So, it's on there and with the reverse mount, the widest part of the fender is now at the tail end where the spray is wider off the rear wheel. I expect better coverage for myself and anything I have onboard the rack top. But I'm not done yet.

First off, I have to do a little edge work to completely encompass the rack stays, which will give the fender a bit more rigidity and eliminate those "saw tooth" edges which are now protruding out and could snag on things, potentially, like weeds, clothing, etc. The plan here is to take some point of sale packaging from tires, (typically a hard, thick plastic material, not unlike the Mud Shovel), and form it into a piece that I can bond to the Mud Shovel. I don't plan on ever taking this "fender" off, so a permanent mount is okay.

Secondly, I want to add a bit in front of the back tire to keep spray from coming off the rear tire forward and mucking up my frame bag. That will likely either be another rear Mud Shovel, or maybe the matching front Mud Shovel, or something I completely fabricate from plastic, to be sourced from, as of now, an unknown source. (Maybe milk jugs?) Anyway, I think at first I will mock up something out of cardboard to get an idea of what to do from that point.

The front will likely be a combination of one of those fork crown mounted "fenders" and a front Mud Shovel mounted very low on the down tube, which I experimented with last year and found that it works well. The low mounted front Mud Shovel, placed juuust right, will protect your chain and chain ring from most of the crap flying back from your front wheel. I did this on my Blackborrow DS last year. Since this bottom bracket is a bit narrower, I may actually have to do some trimming, but we will see.

Once the fender sitch is squared away, I will put the frame bag back on and this rig will be ready for Fall and Winter riding. Bring on the muck and mire!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Guitar Ted Lube-Off: The Contenders (So Far)

Muc-Off "Dry" version of their C3 Ceramic lube. (With UV gizmo)
The weekend was the pits as far as getting any riding in for me. Saturday was sketchy and I had errands. Then on Sunday, it rained a lot of the day and I woke up with a splitting head ache. (No alcohol involved) I have had a mild head cold of late and it kind of kicked into gear Sunday. No matter. It wasn't a great day for riding anyway.

So, in the meantime I dug into maintenance and some projects down in the "Lab" here at Guitar Ted Production's headquarters. One of those tasks was to get the three bikes I had in mind to use for the test set up with the lubes for the new "Guitar Ted Lube-Off" challenge, which I mentioned in the "FN&V" on Friday, of course. So, here we go, the three challengers, the bikes, and news on something that I just became aware of Friday.

Muc Off C3 Ceramic Lube/ Noble Bikes GX5: The new contender, Muc Off, with the C3 Ceramic lube, is on the Noble Bikes GX5 for this test. This bike has a SRAM Force 1X 11 drive train. The chain and the rest of the drive train is in pretty good shape.

Squirt Lube/ Fargo Gen I: The well known Fargo Gen I is the bike I chose to use the Squirt lube on. The drive train on the Fargo Gen I is a 3 X 9 and it is in a pretty worn state, but not out of spec......yet! I am expecting to find that I will need to be upgrading the bike with new parts soon. That said, it has shifted great and I have experienced no issues with it since I began riding this set up this year again.

DuMonde Tech/ Black Mountain Cycles MCD: Finally, the last bike in the test is the BMC MCD, otherwise known as the "Bubblegum Princess". The drive train on this bike is a 2X 11 set up and it has a ton of life left in it yet. This bike started out with DuMonde Tech lubricant and the chain is still the original one I started with last year when the bike was new.

The "Bubblegum Princess", as seen at the Solstice 100 earlier this year.
How The Chains Were Prepared: The BMC MCD was originally set up with DuMonde Tech on a brand new chain by stripping off the stock grease/coating and then applying the DuMonde Tech lube as prescribed by DuMonde Tech. I think I have re-applied a couple of times. DuMonde Tech recommends that when you hear chain noise that you put a drop on each roller and then continue use. So, currently the chain hasn't been lubed in a LONG time but until I hear anymore noises, I am not re-applying lube.

The Muc Off instructions were to strip the chain of any lube and dirt, dry it off, and apply a liberal dosage of the C3 lube to the chain. Muc Off says that it is recommended to let the lube set up for several hours before riding, but I am letting these all sit for a day+ at least, so no worries there. Muc Off also supplies you with what looks like a little key fob/key ring dealie. In reality, this is a tiny UV light emitter. Muc Off advises the end user to use the UV light to see if your lube application got the C3 down into the rollers and pins of your chain.

Muc Off C3 chain lube UV's out to a light blue color, which you can see by using the supplied UV emitter that comes in the box with the lube. 
In the image above you can see how the C3 has penetrated the pin/plate interface somewhat. This is kind of interesting since it seems like 80% of what I put on is......gone. If the UV thing is any indication, that is. Hmmm.... It feels like it has tons of lube on it, but we'll see. I'll get around to talking about the "touch test" in a second......

For the Squirt lube I did a similar clean-dry-lube procedure as I did for the Muc Off. Oh! By the way, I used Muc Off's Bio Chain Degreaser to clean these followed up with a water rinse, according to Muc Off's instructions. Okay, with that out of the way, Squirt recommends one drop of lube per roller, but that it is okay if you go a little bit more liberally than that. I did something toward the "little more liberal" approach. Squirt then recommends that you let the bike sit overnight. I did this.

Touch Test: The "Touch Test" is what I do to see if (a) a chain has any lube on it, and how much, (b) to see the condition of the lube, If it is dirty, and how much "grit" is in it, and (c) to see if the chain is "dry", rusty, or has a lot of friction. So, we can eliminate "c", somewhat, from consideration here, but the other two points are valid to look in to here. The test is performed by taking my index finger tip, "rolling" the rollers of the chain from the side that engages the teeth of the drive train components, and then observing any residue that is left behind on my finger tip. Sometimes I also focus on what the "feel" is, as I roll those rollers, since, as with dry lube, you often don't get any residue off on your finger tip.

Results: Muc Off C3 felt slick, but left no residue on my finger after a day. I did get some after 3 hours. This was a bit of a surprise seeing as how the UV test revealed very little lube there, at least from what I could see. Hmm..... My recommendation would be to let the Muc Off C3 sit overnight after an application. The Squirt Lube felt dry. Like a dry chain, but maybe a bit less friction? No residue to speak of there either. Impressive. Squirt says an application of their standard lube, which is what I am using here, should last up to 6 hours of road riding. (They haven't seen the "roads" I am gonna ride though!) DuMonde Tech generally doesn't feel like anything is on the chain, and after dusting mine off on the BMC, I found this to be true again. No residue after wiping down with a dry cotton cloth.

Okay, Squirt says to go 6 hours before a re-application of their lube, so I think that should make for a good time to check back in on things. That means I have 18 hours of riding to do! Oh! And about that bit of a surprise I mentioned from Friday- I have heard from Grannygear that there is a new lube that someone wants to test, so if that comes in time to insert that into this Lube-Off, there will be a fourth contender. Stay tuned......UPDATED 2/4/20: That lube mentioned in this paragraph didn't show up until late December of last year. I have a few hours on it, but it did not make the test. I plan on doing an updated "Lube Off" post in 2020 once I have six hours on that lube. It's Winetr now, so hang on.....

NOTE:  I was not asked to do this test, and I am doing it out of my own curiosity. There is no "prize" for coming out on top. No sponsorship, no personal connection with Squirt, Muc-Off, or DuMonde tech here.  The products used for this "Lube-Off" came from various events, or were sent to me to try at no charge. I am not being bribed, nor paid for this "Lube-Off", and any thoughts and opinions are only my own. Your results may vary.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: It Was The Third - But It Was The First

An old iron bridge over the Volga River which I reconned for the Trans Iowa v3 route
"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!

 The Trans Iowa v3 story, from my viewpoint, transitioned Trans Iowa as the event it would be until the end. In that sense, T.I.v3 was the first, or maybe a prototype, of what was to come for the next eleven years for the event, and for me.

Since Jeff was obviously leaving- eventually- I was going to be doing everything on my own by 2007. Well, not quite everything. There was one thing I thought I was going to be getting help with, and that was the cue sheet checking and printing. Now, originally, my understanding was that Jeff and I would run the course to double check the cues before the event. I kept hoping that would happen, but as the event drew nearer, it was increasingly clear that Jeff wasn't going to be able to do that. Then I thought he might actually double check the cues against a map, but he didn't, and he simply printed them, left them to me at the shop, and that was his last direct effort in putting on a Trans Iowa. I did ask him in subsequent years to do the graphics for the header on the site. So, in that way Jeff was a part of Trans Iowa up through T.I.v9, after which I took over the designing of the headers.

Anyway, the cues. Well, I had a "last chance" to check the cues the weekend before Trans Iowa. I didn't get very far. Several miles outside of Decorah, in the rambling hills of Northeast Iowa, I became panicked. I pretty much lost it, because the cues were completely off and unusable. Due to an early mistake which compounded itself further into the cues, the mileages were unreliable and several turns were incorrect. I was going to have to scrap this cue set and start completely from scratch with six days to go before Trans Iowa v3.

I had last minute details to attend to besides this. Prizing, number plates, volunteers, organizing the finish line, detailing events for the pre-race event, post race events, and communicating with racers. Top it all off with Zach Dundas' requests, my family's demands on my time, and working at the bike shop, and well...... How I ever got through that week I haven't a clue.

T.I.v3 complete cue set. (Image courtesy of Cale Wenthur)
First, I rushed home with the correct information in hand and a plan. I rewrote the cues immediately after getting home, and then every evening I stayed up late printing the cues for three straight days. I used a home printer that could do maybe 30 sheets at a crack, and ink cartridges were dying at an alarming rate. I had to go out and buy them two times. Paper was another thing I had to purchase. Then they all had to be cut and bagged by hand with scissors and using sandwich baggies.

I would be up until 1-2am doing this, then getting the cues organized took a bunch of time. Finally, on Thursday, I had that all redone and my family, including my six year old daughter and three year old son, stuffed race bags, and placed everything in boxes and tubs for transport the following day.

It was a big relief to have those cues finished, obviously, but I was also worried to death something later into the course might still be off since I had no chances to recon that against the cue sheets. The other thing was that this cue sheet crisis caused me to worry less about the "other stuff". I just didn't have the time to worry about anything else. But the energy expended to get the extra work done on top of being the only mechanic at the shop during a busy Spring made my wife unhappy. She could see what this event was doing to me, and she didn't particularly like it. Keep in mind that the previous two Trans Iowas were half as much worry and work for me. Now it was all on my shoulders.

Also, interestingly enough, we never made any "big announcements" that Jeff wouldn't be there, or that he was no longer helping to put on the event. We never even thought about doing that. It just evolved and next thing ya know, it's a "Guitar Ted" deal. Jeff? Well, it was as if he had slipped out the back door. Even Zach Dundas, in his excellent write up on Trans Iowa in the book, "The Renegade Sportsman", never brought Jeff's involvement in the event into the story. It was portrayed as if I was the only guy behind it. And at the time of the eve of T.I.v3, that was true.

And I didn't even have time to think about that. I just dove straight in, because what else could I have done? I felt like I had just dodged a huge bullet in getting the cue sheet debacle taken care of, and with no time to catch my breath, I was headed to Decorah to do things I had never done before on my own.

Next: The surreal set up and anger at being stiffed.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-38

Dusty kicks in Circus-Circus. I-bike 2009 trip memories.
Ten years ago this week I attended the Interbike trade show again for the fourth year in a row. This time in the company of Grannygear, not with the old "Crooked Cog Network" gang leader. That ship had sailed. Now it was me and Granny, against all odds we were putting out content about 29"ers while the "big league guys" were finally starting to come around to the whole big wheeled way of thinking.

We had some contributions from Germany in the form of articles by "CG", but when I think back on how we were able to carve out the little niche in the media that we did, well..... It's pretty amazing we could even get one reader! I mean, there are so many more popular, more well known, and far better funded sites and publications from those times that for us to even be heard was just unreal to me. I still cannot believe we pulled off the things we did, and trust me, we busted our butts for no monetary gain. It was pretty dumb, financially, but we maximized our resources and did a LOT with a little bit. Take for instance the '09 Interbike show.

I flew out to meet Grannygear on Sunday night. Monday we hit the Outdoor Demo, same thing Tuesday. We went from morning till evening, only taking time to eat before the demo and afterward. Then it was decompress, talk over things, maybe make a few posts, and to bed we went. Wednesday we hit the indoor show hard. That was it. We skipped out on the last two days of the indoor show deeming it all wasted time. We got all the content, no social hanging out, and WAY less spending on room and board. The savings were significant, and I was home by Thursday evening.

Afterward we reflected on our mission. Grannygear and I determined that we didn't miss much by skipping two days of the show. By '09 Interbike already was showing signs of dying, and we could see it. Less vendors, less "new" stuff to report on. Of course, this all was during the Big Recession, so go figure, but socially and media-wise things were on a fast track of change. Interbike never got its feet under itself to keep up.

Eventually brands just took their messages and their goods direct to consumer, bypassing the show, which had lost its relevance as a place to do business for the same reasons. Businesses took their deal making direct to the shops, not waiting for some "show" to sell their wares. Eventually, it became increasingly clear that even by using a meager budget to go to Las Vegas every year, it just wasn't worth it from the standpoint of content generation. By 2013 I was begrudgingly going to the show and after that dismal experience, Grannygear and I decided not to attend it again. I was out of "Twenty Nine Inches" by the end of 2014 and Interbike died in 2018. Now there is no North American trade show, and I doubt those days will ever come back again.

Maybe I'll be proven wrong......

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday News And Views

Rain- Lots of it. (Radar image from Thursday morning)
Rain Seeks To Dampen Spirits:

We went a long time in July and most of August without any rain to speak of. The creeks were nearly depleted, and some small ones actually were dried up. The state climatologist was talking about drought conditions just two weeks ago. Now? Ha!

There is a flash flood warning and the rivers are closing in on flood stages again. Feast or famine, it would seem. But the main thing from my perspective is that this raining constantly nonsense is getting on my nerves. I don't like it when I have to drive to work. I don't like it when I have to modify my rides to keep myself from becoming a potential lightning rod.

Today and tomorrow are looking like "more of the same" in terms of thunderstorms, but the good news is that looking ahead it appears that some cooler, drier weather is on tap. Farmers, cyclists, and the general population here will, no doubt, be rejoicing. Well.....maybe the cyclo cross racers will be digging the rain. Hard to say. Otherwise, I am looking forward to some actual Fall weather riding conditions here. Some of my favorite times to ride are in the season of Fall and typically that doesn't last too long.

Cranking up the G-Ted Lube-Off challenge again. These are the contenders.
Guitar Ted "Lube-Off" Challenge Cranks Up Again:

It's been quite some time since I have had a "Lube-Off Challenge" on the blog, but this is going to happen again this Fall here.

"What is a "Lube-Off"", you say? Well, it is where I pit one bicycle chain lube against another and ride them on gravel (mostly) to determine whether they are worth using, actually do the job the lube claims, and ultimately, if I might recommend it. A couple new challengers are in the house currently to see if they measure up, and to see whether either can knock off long time champeen, DuMonde Tech.

To start out here, I have two versions of Muc-Off's C3 Ceramic Chain Lube. A "wet" version and a "dry" version. I'll be starting out with the "dry" version, although, judging from the first subject in today's FN&V, maybe it should be the "wet" lube! Ha! No.......I'll eventually get to the "wet" version when conditions are more favorable for that. Maybe when Winter hits? We'll see.....

The other contender here is Squirt Lube, the wax based chain lube in the water based carrier. I have several sample bottles I need to blow through anyway, so I am throwing this massively popular chain lube into the mix for the Lube-Off as well.

Stay tuned for periodic updates on how this Lube-Off is progressing.

NOTE: Muc-Off sent their lubes to for test and review, while Squirt was obtained as a schwag bag items at various versions of Gravel Worlds. I am not being paid, nor bribed to conduct the Lube-Off and any thoughts or opinions are my own. 

The C.O.G. Masters Are Watching You!
C.O.G. 100 Reactions:

Since the C.O.G. 100 announcements earlier this week, (OH! Did you miss THIS? ) , we've heard some folks are saying that they are excited about the second coming of single speed only style gravel grindin'. We're glad that you are excited about the event, although we sometimes worry about your life choices regarding the eschewing of dangly bits. But as long as you are willing to accept the consequences of creaky knees in your elder years, we cannot really say anything other than hurrah! We're happy to see that you are excited about our nutty ideas.

Now that we're all in, N.Y. Roll and I are talking about recon of the new course. Oh......yes! There will be a new course with new hills and challenges. There will be the "token Level B Road", and there will be good times. Maybe we will even cook up something special for this year's event. You never know what will come of our "think tank" sessions. Anyway, recon. Getting back to that now......

N.Y. Roll and I are talking about doing this on our bicycles. Why not? We love riding as much as anybody. Heck, I may even pull out one of my single speed devices to ride this new course on. It will make for good research and we will have a really good idea of what the route will have in store for the C.O.G. 100 posse when it is unleashed upon the gravel come March 28th, 2020. So, tentatively we are looking at doing this in October. Hopefully that works out, since N.Y. Roll is supposedly going out to ride unPaved of the Susquehanna River Valley. I was supposed to be going to that as well, but a situation has arisen which is going to keep me at home. Nothing alarming, but something I need to be around for. Anyway..... I apologize for being cagey on that point. All in due time. Anyway....

Thanks for all the support for our C.O.G. 100 event. N.Y. Roll and I are super stoked and will be coming out with details on the event soon.

That's all for this week! get out and ride those bicycles!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Unlooked For Adventure

Wednesday I wanted to go for a single speed ride in the country, but I noted that a pretty solid line of thunderstorms was moving through the state. The air was ripe with humidity, and you could tell it was going to rain in the way that the air felt. It was too iffy for me to go out and dodge potential lightning strikes. So, I waffled around and finally pulled out the Fargo Gen I as it needed to have those MSO tires ridden in some more to get the tubeless set up right.

So, I pumped up the tires, got into some riding clothes, threw on those snazzy new RX-8 Shimano gravel shoes, and headed out the door from the house to......

Yeah, where was I going? I had nothing I really was excited about, but I figured I hadn't been to George Wyth State Park for a while, so I headed over in that general direction. Along the way I hit up some good alleys. Around these parts, alleyways are everywhere and probably 98% of them are gravel. I used a bunch of these pieced together to get over to the network of bike paths, over the Cedar River, and into George Wyth. This park has been a mountain biking area for close to 30 years now. I've been around for most of that. It's a very familiar area to me.

Sure, the trails have changed, new ones added, old ones are gone, but Geo Wyth is still that twisty, mostly flat, river bottom single track that it has always been. I see now they have actually posted the names on the trails. Novel idea, that. I dove into one and went for a fair piece until I ran into lots of dead fall. We had pretty harsh winds out here last week and the leavings from the trees are still laying on the trails there, in some places to much too ride through. I cleared a little bit off, then headed in the general direction of the paved path. The thought here wasn't that I wanted to do single track. So, a little reminder was all it took to tell me I had enough of that, and now it was time to find something else to capture the mind.

That turned out to be the Canfield Access road which used to be private, but now is part of the park. It was muddy, ridden with big stretches of water, and......more of an adventure than trying to dodge a million dead branches on single track. I took this out to the boat access and then the Park road to the bike path. Then I headed back home. Along the way I actually learned a thing or two I can write about concerning the Shimano gravel shoes. Bonus. Then it was more alley ways, and eventually back home.

Bike rides are good for the soul, even if you don't know where you are going. Oh, and less than an hour after I got back it started raining. Good timing!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


 NOTE: The C.O.G.100 was ultimately cancelled. I also have retired from event productions/promotions, so any future event like this will not be something I am involved with any longer.  

I have left this post up as a reference, nothing more to it than that, since the event is now defunct thanks to COVID-19 issues.  The original post follows the jump break.

Also: There is some leftover C.O.G. 100 merch for sale. See the Garage Sale Page Here


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Servicing The Can-O-Gears

The Rohloff Hub Oil Service Kit
Most of you out there probably do not own now, or have ever owned in the past, a Rohloff 14 speed "Speed Hub". Since I have one and had to service it, I thought I'd share the process. This "can-o-gears" is pretty low maintenance, but what maintenance is required is super important.

If you can imagine all the gears, pawls, bearings, bushings, and other moving bits that having 14 internal gears requires, then it doesn't take long to realize that proper lubrication is paramount to the survival of the hub. And at around $1800,00 a pop, this is something you don't just put off. Maintenance is required and doing it makes the hub last a good long time. I don't want to find out what happens if you skip maintaining this hub.

I knew this maintenance was in my future, so I looked up what the servicing interval was, and what the suggestions for maintenance were, from the Rohloff site. Turns out that they recommend servicing the hub once a year, or at least at every 5,000Km intervals. Okay, I had no idea if this maintenance had ever been done, much less the last time it may have happened with my hub. So, I made the call to go ahead and do it now, before Winter comes, and just plan on taking this schedule Rohloff suggests into the future from this point on.

Since this was my first rodeo with servicing the Speedhub, I ordered the Speedhub Oil Change Kit. Then I watched the video on Rohloff's site which shows the procedure. It's fairly simple, but I will document it here. the Oil Change Kit comes with a cleaning oil, regular Rohloff Speedhub oil, a syringe, and a new drain plug. Instructions also come with the kit.

Removing the old drain plug with a 3mm Allen key.
First, you assemble the syringe and draw up the contents of the Cleaning oil. Then you remove the 3mm drain plug and set that aside.

The end of the hose for the syringe already has a thread-able end which connects to the Speedhub.
Then you thread in the end of the syringe hose to the Speedhub and push the plunger steadily and gently as possible, introducing all the Cleaning oil into the hub. Rohloff then recommends that you draw back the plunger to the 25ml mark to relieve the hub of any extra internal pressures. After this, you unscrew the hose, set that aside, and replace the old drain plug, being very careful not to thread it in too far. (See the instructions) Once you have that back in, you pedal the bike, switching back and forth between gears "3" and "5", while alternating in some backward pedaling. This is so that the Cleaning oil gets into all the gearing combinations and parts of the hub. Rohloff suggests doing this for three minutes in a stand, or riding the bike while shifting these combinations for 1K.

Draining the old oil and Cleaning oil from the hub.
Once the cleaning procedure has been done, Rohloff recommends setting the hub so that the drain plug is at a "six o'clock position" (pointing down ward) and letting the hub rest in this position for at least 15 minutes. This allows the oils to drain to the bottom of the hub internally. Then you unscrew that drain plug, screw in the syringe, and draw out the old oil and cleaning oil. You may not get much more than you put in depending upon when the last service was done, or due to "sweating" of the oil through the hub externally by way of seals, etc,  over time. (And yes, Rohloff hubs do this, I can attest to that)

Putting the new oil in.
Then you can turn the hub over 90° so that the drain hole faces up, and then drawing up the new oil into the syringe, screwing the hose end into the hub, and gently introducing the oil into the hub, you can then duplicate the 25ml back-draw of the plunger to relieve excess internal pressures. Put in the new drain plug, and that's it!

You don't have to use the new drain plug, but since it comes with fresh sealing dope, why not?
So, it really isn't too bad of a procedure to undertake, and now that I have the syringe, I can just purchase the oils in the future.

This should get me through the Winter easily and next year I will have to monitor the mileage, but I would imagine that getting slightly over 3,000 miles between now and next September on the Ti Muk 2 will be a big ask. I don't ride it that much! Although, I could if it were my only bicycle. The Ti Muk 2 is that comfortable to ride.

One thing I did note was that I did not see a lot more oil come out than the amount of Cleaning oil I put in. Yikes! Rohloff says that oil will "sweat" out of the hub, and I have noted that you see an oily film which collects dust and dirt on the shifter box at times. I suppose that to keep the hub from having excessive drag that the seals cannot be 100% leak proof. So,by my measure, I was at the minimum for oil in the hub! Good thing I chose to do the maintenance!

I also noted that the hub was much quieter and that it shifted very smoothly after the maintenance was accomplished. So, it's a good thing on many levels to maintain the Speedhub according to recommendations, as far as I can see.

Got any questions? I'm happy to answer them. Hit me up in the comments or send an e-mail to Thanks for reading!