Thursday, October 31, 2019

Getting My GRX On: Update

There she be! The Noble GX5 with GRX on it. (That's a lot of "G's" and "X's"!)
The installation of the new Shimano GRX components and PRO brand stuff I was sent has been accomplished. I rode the bike on its first legit gravel ride Monday for over two hours.

The 1X thing hasn't really been appealing to me for quite some time. I had to stick with it since this bike is not routed for a front derailleur. (I could use an electronic one) So 1X GRX was spec'ed and that's what you see there in the image.

So far, since I have run Force 1X and now this GRX 1X, I have "gotten used to it", but it doesn't have as deep a range as I can get with a 2X set up, and that might end up becoming an issue at some point with the current set up. Which is a 42T drive ring turning an 11-42T cassette, by the way. So "low" is 1 to 1, and you don't get to go lower than that.

Now where I live? That is likely alright. I've run across a couple of situations where less than a one to one ratio would have been nice. Usually on century rides. But for the one to five hour range of rides? I probably am fine. Going somewhere else with this bike? Maybe not so much. But I've got other bikes too, so it isn't imperative that I have 2X on the Noble GX5.

So, enough about the gearing. Here is a run down of all the new parts on the bike:

  • Shimano GRX 800 Mechanical 11 speed Right hydraulic lever.
  • Shimano GRX 800 Dummy Left Lever set up for Dropper Post actuation. (See Note below)
  • Shimano GRX 800 Hydraulic Brake Calipers F/R 160mm Rotors F/R
  • Shimano GRX 800 Crank w/42T drive ring, 172.5mm
  • Shimano GRX 800 Rear Derailleur (Mechanical 11 spd)
  • Shimano GRX Wheel set
  • Shimano XTR/Dura Ace 11 speed chain
  • Shimano XT 11spd 11-42T Cassette
  • Shimano XT pedals
  • Shimano PRO seat post
  • Shimano PRO stem
  • Shimano PRO bar tape
  • Shimano PRO bottle cages
  • Shimano Discovery Series Big Flare handle bar
  • WTB Volt saddle, medium width
  • Wheels Manufacturing BB86 Thread-together bottom bracket
The GRX rear derailleur has a clutch, like the MTB line, but it feels far different

(NOTE: Disclaimer dead ahead. Skip ahead if you don't care)

That's most of the bike! I should also note here that besides the bottom bracket, which I purchased, the rest is all sent for no charge to Riding Gravel for test and review. I am not being paid, nor bribed for this post here.

Now- with that out of the way, I got this all set up and everything went quite well, actually. The first legit gravel ride went well too. Shifting required a slight tweak from the barrel adjuster, (standard issue on the GRX derailleur- Huzzah!), and I imagine I'll have a couple more tweaks to that before it settles in. The brakes are fantastic. Probably the best drop bar Shimano hydro brakes yet. Maybe best ever? Close. Really quiet too.......so far. 

The brake hoods feel awesome too. They put some nice texturing on it for grip, and the rubber they used feels nice. The shape is excellent with a nicer, flatter radiused shape with a nice width to them. I also like Shimano's hydraulic hood shape far more than SRAM's which looks ugly in my opinion. At any rate, Shimano's shape looks a lot less weird and more like the fully mechanical levers they make. The big deal here is the lever blades. They shaped the blade and while that may seem like not such a big deal, it is when you feel them under your fingers. The shapes and contours just feel really good.

The GRX levers feel great under the hand.
So besides those stand outs, the bike was like before. Good wheels, no issues there, and everything else just worked like it should. Now I will say a bit about the saddle, the WTB Volt, because there is an interesting story.

WTB has the "Fit Right System" now where you measure your wrist and then a calculation their system does based upon some preferences and that wrist measurement spits out what saddle is right for you out of their line. I had been preferring the WTB Pure series of saddles, which measures out to be in their "wide" size range. Now I have to back track a bit to several years ago when I tried Bontrager's saddle fit system and I was measured out in their "medium" width category, which I think is something like 143mm or round about there. So, I tried that, and I just never got along with their saddles at all. I abandoned them after sitting on a Pure V and liking that. So, I pursued getting a bunch of those saddles and for a time, all was well.

Recently I have been not as pleased with Pure V's as I have been getting soreness which I cannot remember having. Age changes things. Maybe that was it? Dunno. But change in my saddle of choice was going to be necessary. Then last Summer I got the chance to try a new, medium width Silverado. I really liked it. This was a 142mm width saddle, which was interesting to me, remembering the old Bontrager measurement.

The medium width Volt from WTB
Fast forward to August and Gravel Worlds where I saw the WTB Fit Right System in operation. Later on I was asked to go through the system and WTB wanted to send me a saddle or two, write up a review, and see what I thought. I got two Volts. One in Medium and one in Wide.

One ride on the Wide one was all it took for me to realize that it wasn't right. The saddle was hitting me just like a Pure V and no wonder. They have almost identical shapes. Then I tried the Medium saddle. Goldilocks! This was really good, and again- 142mm.

So, both the Bontrager system and the Fit Right System were correct, it's just that WTB stuff agrees with me and the old Bontrager stuff never really did. Now the Silverado will get pitted against the Volt and I'll have to see which feels correct, or just better, and go with it. Or.....maybe both will be fine. Possible. Testing will be necessary.

What else? Hmm.... Oh yeah! The seat post. I have a left lever that was modified by Shimano for dropper post actuation. I didn't get the correct dropper post when Shimano sent me the stuff, but when they have the right one, I will be making the switch and checking that out as well. I remember really liking a dropper on an Otso test bike I had a year and a half ago or so now. It will be interesting to see what that does for Winter riding, as I'll likely be trying that out whenever conditions allow for it over the Winter months.

So, yeah.... So far so good. Both on the GRX and the saddle. Stay tuned here and at Riding Gravel for future updates.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Brown Season: More Harvest Action

Corn stalks round baled sitting alongside empty corn fields.
With "Brown Season" in full swing I was able to get out before we got any snow that was predicted. With time running out to get the crops out, there was a lot of activity out in the fields.

The temperature was in the upper 30's or so with a nice Northwest breeze. That probably made things feel like the upper 20's. So what did I do after I got to my launching off point? I realized I had forgotten my gloves. Doh! Good thing my Bontrager jacket was made with a sleeve length that was right for a spider monkey, because I was able to pull the sleeves over my hands- mostly- and I started riding. I knew once I got going that my hands would warm up. I knew this because I had raced Triple D in January in similar temperatures, maybe even colder, and was able to ride for miles with no gloves. So, I figured I would take the chance to try it out. I could always cut things short. But thankfully, things turned out just as I had predicted and I rode for 2 1/4 hours.

There was a variety of road surfaces ranging from pavement-like, blazing fast to rough, mile long slogs in deep, fresh white rock. I headed east this time, a bit further than I have gone in a long while. Actually I went a couple miles East of Dunkerton, so far Eastern reaches of Black Hawk County on that day. This meant that besides seeing a lot of farmers hard at work I also got to see more new-to-me barns. And you know what that means!

More "Barns For Jason", that's what that means!

Barns For Jason #1.
An older Farmall and a Brent wagon await a fresh load of corn. 
I took Big Rock Road East most of this day and it is not a particularly flat stretch. It doesn't have the super punchy roller type of hills, but longer grades which require a rhythm to tackle. I like the different feel of this area as far as climbing goes.

Coming at ya! A combine dumps freshly harvested corn into a wagon pulled by a tractor.
Wouldn't THIS old Chevy make a great vacation hot rood or a vehicle for a bike shop? It would take a LOT of $$$'s though!
I saw a lot of harvesting going on and it seemed like I saw more the further East I went. Of course, these behemoth vehicles were cruising the gravel roads as well. I was fortunate to miss having to be passed by any of them I saw though. Had I been obliged to meet one, or been overtaken by one, I would have had to have gotten off and into the ditch!

I passed a County maintainer on the way out.
Barns For Jason #2
I had another dog encounter, but this time it was actually humorous. I heard the barking, of course, and as I looked to see what sort of hound was on my tail, I saw a figure that was somewhat unexpected. A pit bull-ish thing, a bit overweight, and it was running pretty fast, but not something I couldn't outrun. She didn't draw a bead on me at first, so I played things out to see if she would stop at the "end of her territory". But she didn't. Actually, she made a sudden 90° turn right at me. So, I jammed on the brakes, came to a halt, and she reached me just about at that time. She "booped" me with her nose, immediately turned about, and ran back to her house without so much as another bark, or even a look.

Weird!

A harvester lost in a sea of corn.
Barns For Jason #3
I did a little lollipop loop out of this ride. I went a mile South on Nesbit Road, then I turned back West again on East Airline Highway. I realized immediately I was going to be pushing the wind most of the way back. It wasn't bad, so I just had to temper my expectations for speed a bit and continue grinding.

St. Francis Catholic Church on East Airline Highway.
Most soybean harvesting is over, but here we see a harvester taking out a field on Ordway Road in Black Hawk County.
I had to head back a mile North to Big Rock Road again to miss a section where Airline Highway is truncated. I passed Schenck Road where I had come up to Big Rock and went to Sage Road to see "The Big Rock" which the road takes its name from.

Wagons at the ready.
Barns For Jason #4
The ride went well, I stayed warm, even my hands, and only my feet got chilled, really. I probably should have used some "dirt bag" vapor barriers. Oh well..... No harm-no foul. I've no idea how many miles it was as my Lezyne computer would not boot up right and all I was getting was speed, elevation, and time. Dang devices!

And one more- Barns For Jason #5
A strange mix of crows and some other smaller birds here.
The ride went a bit longer than I had intended, but only going over by 15 minutes wasn't bad. I still had plenty of time left in the day to get some website work done, tackle e-mails, and write, so it went great. And I beat the snow, because Monday night the white stuff made its official arrival to kick off Winter here in Iowa. I'm sure it won't last too long, but you never know if you will get a break, so we will see.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Guitar Ted Lube-Off Update 2

A close up of the squirt lubed chain after 6 hours riding on gravel
Guitar Ted Lube-Off Update: Squirt Lube - 

 Note: For the Introduction to the contenders and procedures used in this test, please see THIS POST. Also please note that the possibility of a fourth contender never materialized, so this test is just between the three lubes mentioned in the introduction.

The second contender in the Lube-Off is Squirt Lube and it was the lube which recommended a reapplication after six hours of riding. So, since it was the only one I'm testing that gave a hard time limit, I applied that to all three lubes in the test. (Well, I am still. One more to go here.)

The first update on the Muc-Off lube can be read here.

So, Squirt Lube is a water based wax lube. Now I will say up front that I am not an advocate for any wax based lube because most folks misuse it to their own detriment. If used according to label instructions, it generally is "okay", but most folks cannot be arsed to do the chain stripping, cleaning, and re-application process. They usually just dump more wax lube on the dirty wax lube already on the chain. This is a recipe for quick death to your drive train. And this goes for a LOT of lubricants, by the way. Usually it is a great idea to clean your chain first- then apply lube. 

So, this is why I stripped the two chains which would be getting the two new lubes to the test, then applied according to the label instructions. There is no other way to do this properly than with the required amount of labor and time. No "easy button" here folks. Sorry! So, if you end up getting any lube I recommend here, you are going to have to put in the time and preparation, or your results will not be satisfactory.

The cassette on the Squirt lubed drive train.
Looking at the Squirt lubed chain and cassette, I observed that there was a fine coating of grit on all surfaces that the lubrication contacted. More so than the Muc-Off C3 Ceramic lube. The Squirt didn't get what I would call "gunk", but the fine gritty coating was definitely noticeable over the C3.

Shifting performance was fine with the Squirt lube. There was no noticeable chain noise either. I did not get this set up wet, as I did with the C3, so I cannot say whether Squirt would have kept the chain from corroding.

The "Touch Test" revealed a dry, gritty residue on my finger and a chain that was less slick than the C3 lubricated chain, but not without some slickness. So, a level less slick than the C3's. I know.......subjective. I would say that after six hours it was high time to clean and re-lubricate this drive train though. I would not want to continue past the six hour mark with Squirt. This fact will play into my final verdict, so please refer to my general lubrication practices comments above and keep this note in mind.

Again- the Squirt Lube and the Muc-Off C3 Ceramic lube are both great products and I can recommend both, but I think you can discern a difference here that separates these two, one from another. The C3, after six hours, wasn't at the point where I felt it needed re-lubing, and keep in mind that I ran that lube through a bit more severe conditions.

Residue from the "Touch Test" after six hours of use.
So, it is onward with the final bit in the Lube-Off where I am pitting an already several hours old application of DuMonde Tech against these two contenders. The DuMonde Tech will be subjected to six more hours of use before I do a comparison, and then I will declare my final thoughts on all three lubes and chose a number one.

Actually, I could end the testing now, as I am pretty sure this DuMonde tech application has more than six hours of ride time on it already. But that said, I'm sticking to my original plan here. So far, I have almost two hours of riding on the DuMonde Tech. That means a hair over four more hours of ride time and this test will be concluded.

I haven't noted this yet, but 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.

Okay, so with that out of the way, hang on for a bit and I will come back with the results of the DuMonde tech six hour run and a final verdict soon.


Monday, October 28, 2019

Brown Season

The ruins of an old barn overlook brown fields.
Saturday was a weird day at the Guitar Ted Productions Headquarters. I had awoken late, as in really late. It was all due to being up Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday waiting up for my two children/young adults.

NOTICE; Unsolicited parenting advice! So, maybe "waiting up for your kids" seems "old school", but let me tell ya something- that wasn't the "old school way" I was raised. Nope! My parents hardly ever knew where I was, and it seemed as though they didn't care either. I could come home late and no one would be around to say hello. One time I came home late from an away football game to find myself locked out of the house. I wasn't trusted with a key, so I had to shack up in our family's travel trailer on a night where it got below freezing. That wasn't much fun!

So, I waited up for my kids, and they seem happy that I and Mrs. Guitar Ted do that. I would suggest that if you have a loving relationship with your children that it isn't a bad thing to wait up for them. But to each their own........

Pardon the digression, but this waiting up deal figures into the current story. Because I didn't hit the hay till after bar time, I woke up just before noon and with half the day wasted I had not much time to get around to riding. That had to be put off till around 3:00pm, and that doesn't leave much time for daylight anymore.

Airline Highway looking West. This is a fast set of rollers.
I decided to get a little time in on the pink BMC for the Guitar Ted Lube-Off testing. I hauled the bike out to the North edge of town to save time and planned on maybe riding East a fair amount since it's been awhile since I've been out that way. once I reached Gates Park I unloaded and got kitted up. I might get two hours in, if things went well, I figured.

Well, I figured wrong......

A harvester in a corn field North of Waterloo, Iowa.
See, I forgot that the pink BMC is the bike with the new Time pedals I am testing and I had the Shimano RX8 shoes on instead of the Fasterkatts which have the Time cleats.

Doh!

With so little time available for a ride I just made do. It wasn't an ideal set up, for sure. In fact, I doubted I could trust the foot to stay on the pedal if things got a bit sketchy. So, I took it easy, went slow down the hills, and decided that two hours out was one hour too many. Definitely with that bad match of pedal and shoe. So, I cut it back to an hour of riding and that was that.

While it sucked that I had the wrong shoes on, I at least got a ride in. Riding is better than not riding any day, and so I was happy. It wasn't what I was going out for but any ride works for me. Especially after a dismal October where it rained so much there were several days I could not even get a ride in at all.

While things look possibly snowy and colder in the near term, I hope to get some decent November miles in. We'll see.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Why It Should Never Have Happened Again

 "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!

Sunday, April 29th, 2007. I was sitting staring out the front windshield of "The Dirty Blue Box", my beat to crap, metallic blue, 1990 Honda Civic 4 door hatchback. There were 20 minutes left until 2:00pm, the cut-off time for Trans Iowa v3. No one had crossed the finish line in quite some time. Most everyone that had been hanging out on that idyllic, Sun drenched hillside in front of a cemetery had already left. They went to get lunch, went home, or were hanging at the sports bar waiting for me. I was supposed to be having the awards ceremonies at 2:00pm.

I was staring out over a hill on a gravel road which lead into Decorah, Iowa behind me. I'd been sitting there a long time now. I was thinking that maybe I could pack it in and just get the post race ceremonies over with. But, I had to make sure I had accounted for everyone. Richard "Deke" Gosen, one of Trans Iowa's earliest influences, had drilled that into me over the past two years of Trans Iowa. You must account for all the riders! So, one more time, I went over the check offs and markings various folks had made, including myself, to see if anyone was still hanging. Once, twice, three times I went over that roster. There was one guy not accounted for. Meh! Maybe he actually came in, or called in, and we missed checking him off? Dang it! I really wanted to get this awards ceremony done. I was drained. Exhausted. I'd been up since 3:00am Saturday morning. Over 34 hours of being awake. No cat naps. I wanted to get this over with and go home. But.....I promised I'd wait until 2:00pm. 

15 minutes to go......

I was losing my resolve. I had to go. I reached with my keys to insert them into the ignition, and looked up. What?!!! Was I seeing things? I thought I saw a white, rounded object just over the horizon, swaying, like the movement of a cyclists head. Yes! It was the last finisher of T.I.v3.

I sprung from the car, yelling encouragement. Team Polska, who were still there, unaware of me, heard my yelling and jumped into action. Banging pots with sticks and yelling in Polish, they escorted Mike Denehy to the finish line, just as they had for 22 other finishers, except Ira Ryan. I shook Mike's hand, and jumped into the "Dirty Blue Box", hit the ignition, and headed over to the awards ceremony. Which.......I have no memory of at all. 

My contract was fulfilled after shaking Mike Denehy's hand. I had done what I needed to do and I carried out the mission that Jeff and I had set out to accomplish after T.I.v2. I promised myself I would carry this out until the end, and right at that moment, I think my mind just switched off. Later, after all was said and done, I wasn't thinking about a T.I.v4. I was done with Trans Iowa. There were several reasons why.

First, and I have said this before, this was Jeff's idea, and I always felt I was just there as a helper. Despite the perceptions of many, I understood why Trans Iowa got going. I was intimately a part of that, and without Jeff? Well, there was no way it would have ever happened. I felt it could not be Trans Iowa without him, despite the fact that I had just put on a Trans Iowa without him. But then again, I was too close to things to see it.

Secondly, this event had undone me in many ways. The stress of the cue sheet debacle, the extra responsibilities regarding the communications with riders, the venue, and volunteers. It was far more than I had expected to have to deal with.

Then there was the huge, weighty responsibility I felt for all the riders. I hadn't ever considered this facet, and to be perfectly honest, while the feelings were there, I could not comprehend in 2007 what that was that I was feeling. Then there was my wife and two young children to consider. The day I returned home from T.I.v3, my wife needed to be taken to the emergency room, and I was so out of it she ended up driving herself to the hospital. I was humiliated. I blamed Trans Iowa. This on top of the stress they had to endure the previous week watching me go through the wringer trying to get everything ready to go.

Yes, the event had 24 finishers, and LOTS of good will and feedback which was very encouraging, but deep down inside I was done. How "done" was I? Well, I took out the milk crates from the "Dirty Blue Box"with the stuff I used that year and set them in the garage. I never touched them again for probably five years. I had such hard feelings about that event, it took a long time for me to actually put everything away and deal with the mess afterward. I just wanted to walk away from Trans Iowa.

The event was done. Over. I wasn't going to say anything. Ever. I was just not going to put it on again. Privately, I shared with a few friends that I had very deep set feelings about quitting the event. This was met with some understanding. And then three big things happened which swung me the other way. This wasn't the last Trans Iowa, but it almost was.

Next: The Reasons Why It Happened Again

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-45

Ten years ago on the blog this week I was talking about Fall riding. That Fall was spectacular. The colors were intense and saturated. One particularly great place that year was Cedar Bend Park.

I had first heard about Cedar Bend from an old friend of mine at the time who used to ride a lot out there. It sounded intriguing, so around about 2007-8 or so I finally made the trip up North of Waverly, Iowa and found Cedar Bend Park.

The trails were mowed like a cross country skiing trail- wide, no weeds, and no discernible "tread" to ride in much of the time. But otherwise they were a blast to ride on due to their fast, rough nature. There was also some elevation change, and some cool short wooden bridges leaping across ravines here and there. There were really steep climbs longer than most anything in Ingawanis, and there was a lot of potential there for building on to what they had.

In general, I hardly ever saw anyone on these trails, but later on equestrians started coming in, and the horse excrement issues were really bad. The equestrians also were running their steeds on the wooden bridges, damaging them, as they weren't spec'ed to handle a horse. Finally it just got to be no fun to go there and I stopped my riding in that park about six years ago now.

Anyway, I have my great memories and images like the one shared here today from my Cedar Bend rides. Maybe I should go back and check it out again some day.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Friday News And Views

Just what is it that lurks down in the Lab?
So Far......So Good:

The project I have been working on throughout the week has been taking shape quite nicely. I have one major component and a tool to get in which are necessary for me to go any further. In fact, I will be looking at completion of this project once those bits arrive.

Of course, I am speaking of the aforementioned Noble Bikes GX5 and the 1X GRX group I am fitting to it. Things have been going well so far with this build and I think it is turning out better than I had hoped.

The biggest issue could have been the brakes. The way Shimano ships the pieces means you have to connect the caliper/hose assembly at the lever, both of which are filled with mineral oil and sealed at the factory for air-tight delivery. Your job, should you accept it, is to connect the two without introducing any air into the system and avoid having to bleed the brakes. Oh yes.....and you will have to cut the brake lines to length as well.

So, interestingly, Shimano has developed a new way to do this job, and with one tip I picked up on the Shimano tech site, the job is actually pretty easy. Well, you could use a third hand, by the way, but it isn't hard beyond juggling a few things at once. It also helps if you have proper tools too.

Anyway, Shimano pre-installs the 'olive' and the compression nut is already partially threaded into the lever body. There is a yellow plug in the back of the lever where the hose should enter into the lever. Cutting your hose to length is an easy process if you have the Shimano guide. Install the barb into the hose. Then remove the yellow plug, (it comes out sort of hard, so be careful!) and then shove the hose up in there, tighten the compression nut with an 8mm open end wrench, and done! Of course, there are little details that make this job easier and successful that you absolutely need to know, but this isn't a tutorial. Just letting you know that "big, bad Shimano" actually does do some neat things.

When the bike is finished I will do a full post on it. Stay tuned.

"Lube-Off" Nears Completion:

I finished up my six hours on the second bike for the "Lube-Off" recently. That leaves one bike to go and then the full results of the test will be revealed. I have had to pick and choose my days as we have had a spate of wet weather which isn't conducive to testing "dry" lubricants. I figured the rains would kick in once I started this testing! Figures.......

Anyway....... Past editions of this test were easy to judge. The different lubricants were so........well- different, that I had no trouble at all telling you readers which was the best. It was, as they say, "no contest". However; this round has proven to be very competitive. The three lubricants I am testing now I can recommend without hesitation, so I will let that cat outta the bag right away. That said, there are differences, and I think once I detail out the findings, a more clear picture will be revealed which might help you choose what is best for your needs. That's my goal with this, anyway.

So, I am hoping that we do not get anymore rainy days and that things get dry again. We just got a soaking rain Wednesday night, so maybe this weekend will be dry again and I can put a big dent into the final round of this "Lube-Off".

 Skin Wall Fatties:

I'm a sucker for skin wall tires because I like the look. It isn't for everybody, and that's fine. I happen to think it is cool. I have a few sets I run on gravel bikes and mountain bikes. But fat bikes? That wasn't much of an option.

Back when the Pugsley first came out, the only fat bike tire you could buy was a skin wall Endomorph. That didn't last long and then almost everything afterward was black. 100% black. Surly did a special run of Nates in skin wall, but if you like Nates, you are an oddball. They are, perhaps, one of the worst rolling fat bike tires ever made by surly, and they rank right up there in overall stature in the fat bike world in that regard as well. So, while I could have gotten my hands on Nate skin walls.......no thank you!

Now I see that 45NRTH has skin wall VanHelga tires. They probably roll a little better than a Nate, and they are tubeless ready. Yeah! According to what I have seen online, they are sub-100 bucks each. Not bad. Yes, you cannot get the 120TPI ones, 'cause those are black only, but 60TPI ain't bad. Nope.

So, will I be getting some? Probably not. I have cake eaters that I bought this past Summer, and I have Flow and Dunder from the Beist family which came on the Ti Muk when I got it. So, I am set for tires for the time being. But, maybe someday........

That's it for this week. Stay warm by riding outside!



Thursday, October 24, 2019

Fall Views: Searching For Color

Not much Fall Color
The days of Fall are running out and "Brown Season" will be here soon. However; before that happens we should get some spectacular Fall colors. At least I think we should, based upon what I see in town here. So, before everything goes to a dun color and the land is completely laid waste, I decided to head out to see if I could find any Fall color near to my usual routes.

The late October morning temperatures here are dipping into the 30's so I had to dig out more wool and thermal tights. Time for the "bootie/shoe" "transition season" footwear too. I used the Northwave boots I have, some ProViz PixElite thermal bib tights, These "feeture" socks I am trying out, A wool shirt from Showers Pass, a wool, long sleeved jersey from Bontrager, and my Riding Gravel vest. A tube sock thingie for the head with my Bell aero helmet. I took the Cuero long fingered gloves but I didn't use them. Finally, I used some old Tifosi sunglasses for the eyewear.

The winds were supposed to be out of the Southeast so Southward is the way I started out. There is a particularly good set of trees for Fall color on the corner of Griffith and Ansborough, so I thought I'd check that out first. On the way, I found that the gravel was horrendously chunky. The County was out doing road maintenance and just dumping truck loads of fresh gravel where farm traffic was highest. It made for some tough sledding, even with the Fargo's 2" wide Donnelly MSO tires. I also saw that the County was clearing ditches for snow. At one point I saw them back-hoeing out the West ditch.

The back hoe on the right was scooping out the ditch in preparation for Winter.
I got to the corner where I had hoped that I would see some good Fall color and........nuthin'! Huh! I was sure that those maples would have been on fire, like their cousins in town were, but they were still green yet! Who knows? I guess I'll have to come back in a week and check them out again.

The odd maple that actually was in color on the right here.
Barns for Jason: Looks like there are a couple maples in color over there at least.
The field work is about half done, and recent rains have put everything on hold for now. machinery sat idle in fields, and there was no activity at all that I could see. Some corn has been harvested, and by the looks of it around here, all the soybeans are in. In fact, the rye grass, a cover crop for Winter, is sprouting up in the bean fields now.

Loads of corn waiting to be binned for sale later sometime.
The Gen I Fargo handled the "super-chunk" like a champ.
Fortunately for me, I got out during what turned out to be the only Sunny part of the day. Later on it rained again, which will only post-pone the harvest later on into October, maybe even early November. We are supposedly getting a very cold stint to end the month, which will make the drying out take even longer.

I want ALL THE WHEELS on my tractor!
A nice bit of color there. That was the best I came across in my two hours of riding.
Late into my ride it became overcast and cooler, it seemed. then all of a sudden I felt warmer. Hmm... I suppose the air masses are battling yet between Fall and Winter. I saw where there was indications of snow in Northwest Iowa now. It won't be too long before we see the white flakes here, I bet.

Yep! This may be the last of the "Fall Views" posts, or one of the very last ones. Soon I will be posting black and whites and if it gets snowy early, I will be chased off the gravel roads and riding a fat bike in the woods. Hopefully we get to stay on the gravel through November. That would help me out a lot. We'll see......

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Give A Hoot!

The other day while I was cruising Twitter to see what was up in the world I came across a Tweet- and I have to say this, but some Tweets I see I have no idea how they show up in my timeline. I don't follow these folks, they aren't re-tweets, etc. Anyway...... algorithms, I suppose. 

So, yeah, I saw this oddball Tweet in my timeline but it struck me as being something gravel riders need to be conscious of. That being that we are becoming litterbugs. First, here's the Tweet:

"This really bothers me. If you have a gel while racing, make an attempt to throw it in a trash can. Don’t just drop it in the middle of the road. I get it -(It) stinks to hold a gel for a mile or two to a water stop but make an effort to get it to a trash can. It’s still littering."

How many gravel events have you been to at which you have seen gel wrappers and more on the road, obviously discarded by a rider you are behind? I bet many of you reading this that go do those gravel events know exactly that which I am talking about.

And here's the thing: It is easy to blame the other rider, go on riding, and complain about it afterward. But what does that accomplish?

Absolutely nothing. You are just adding to the noise.

I actually re-Tweeted the text and added the following quote:"While this is aimed at runners, the gravel riding community needs to clean up its act too." And by "gravel riding community" I mean everyone. Myself included. We all need to speak about this at events. Say it isn't okay. Call it out when we see it, and ultimately- we need to clean up after the offenders. 

Yup! I get it- "It wasn't me!", but that ain't how the world will see it outside the gravel riding community. Stop. Pick it up. Dispose of it properly. Who cares if it takes you 30 seconds, a minute. Nobody will ever care afterward, but you will be helping keep gravel clean and everyone will benefit.

So- here's my challenge to all of you for 2020. At any gravel event you do, if you see one gel wrapper, an energy bar wrapper, a tube- whatever came from a cyclist- stop and pick it up. Just one item at every event. If we all do that, there will never be any issues with littering accusations against this community of riders.

Call out offenders. Talk this up at events. Tell people you are doing this, and challenge them to it as well. I challenge event promoters to make this part of their events. Make a prize contest out of it. Make it "a thing". 

I'm in. Are you?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Getting My GRX On

The special gravelly derailleur of  Doom and Destruction!
The other day two big boxes showed up with a bunch of Shimano stuff inside of it. Shimano had contacted me recently to get me on a GRX group and to give my opinions on it. This was unexpected and I am flattered that Shimano wanted me to try this out and give my opinions.

So, that will all be on RidingGravel.com in the near future. That's all good, but this did create a lot of work for me down in the Lab. But first, before that, I had to pick a bike to put the stuff on and then actually pick the stuff I wanted from the GRX group.

So, I chose the Noble Bikes GR5. Since that bike is not compatible with a mechanical front derailleur, I went with the GRX 1X mechanical group. I could have gone Di2, but Riding Gravel already is reviewing that stuff. So, 1X was what was on the menu. That meant I had to go down that path which meant a 11T-42T 11 speed cassette. I got a 42T drive ring. I have hydraulic brakes there. Annnnnndddd.........the Noble GX5 has internal cable routing. 

Gah! I was not too stoked. Why did I pick the Noble GX5? I could have chosen a lot easier bike to cable up, that's for sure. Well......it is what it is, right? I figured it would be a long process and I'd likely cuss and stuff. You know the drill if you are a mechanic. Get out your magnets, fish wires, and dig down for all the patience you can muster.

I also had the unique situation where the Noble GX5, as I have posted before, was equipped with a Wheels Manufacturing thread-together bottom bracket where generally you see a press fit type style bottom bracket. The thing here is that this bottom bracket has an unusual sized 16 point tool that you need to use to install and remove it. I didn't have that, so I put one on order. That is one thing that will put the completion of the build off a bit.

Shimano hydraulic levers connect at the lever on a new build.
So, I was down in the Lab off and on all day Monday working on this build. I figured I would just get done what I could get done. I avoided the internal routing nightmare as long as I could. In my mind, the hydraulic line would be the worst thing. Shimano connects the caliper to the hose on new builds, so the hose had to be routed from the back up to  the front. So I shoved the hose into the port on the chain stay and waited to see what would happen. I had the "door" off the bottom bracket shell, and the hose popped out there. Not too surprising, since most chain stays are ported, not completely hollow. The down tube was where I figured things would get gnarly. I found the groove in the bottom bracket area, shoved the hose in, and.......it popped out no problem! Huh. How about that!

Well, the Noble GX5 has only one more cable to go. The rear derailleur cable is fully internal from near the head tube to the back of the right chain stay. Okay.....here goes nothin'! I shove the cable in, there is a bit of resistance, which I figured was the cable rolling up against the bottom bracket. Well, I ran the cable till it went into the lever, and then I looked back and.....what! There was the cable dangling out the end of the chain stay! Hallelujah! 

That was the easiest internal cable route job I've ever done. Bar none. So, the Noble GX5 just went way up on the scale of bikes I like. It is how all those internal cable routed jobs should have been all along.

Now I have to get my hand on that bottom bracket tool and I'll be pretty much on my way to finishing this rig up. I'll have a run down on the bike once I get the thing done. There might be a surprise or two for some of you when you see what I have here. Stay tuned........

Monday, October 21, 2019

Guitar Ted Lube-Off: Update

Lube-Off Update: Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Lube Dry-

Note: For the Introduction to the contenders and procedures used in this test, please see THIS POST. Also please note that the possibility of a fourth contender never materialized, so this test is just between the three lubes mentioned in the introduction. 

Okay, with the six hour limit reached on the first test lube, the C3 Ceramic Dry, by Muc-Off, I am going to take this opportunity to show you my findings. Currently I am almost done with the Squirt lube, and then I will move on to the "control" lube, the DuMonde Tech.

"Dry" lubes are a bit of an irony. Describing something as "dry" that is made to lubricate? Doesn't compute when you stop to consider it, but these lubes are also "conditions specific" as well as being "less messy", so the meaning of "dry lube" is a bit vague in terms of what to expect. I thought I would take a brief moment to give you my take, and then apply that to what I saw with regard to the C3 Ceramic lube, and then also give a quick thought on the DuMonde Tech.

In my view, the "dry" in dry lube is meaning that this lube works best in conditions where moisture in the riding environment is at a minimum, and I also expect less mess. Now, what is "less mess"? Well, I don't expect any build up of "gunk", dirt, or greasy build up at all. Lubes for chains that are "wet" lubes, in contrast, are meant for the more extreme cases where you ride in mud, through water, in snow and slush, or rain. Those "wet" lubes are harder to wash away, stay on the chain doing their job longer in severe conditions, and yes.....the chain will look a fright. I'm all good as long as there is lubrication in those cases. But for this "dry" lube, I don't want to see anything like that. With that said, let's take a look at how the Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Lube did.

Close up of the chain after 6+ hours
Close up of the cassette after 6+ hours.
Okay, so first things first. The C3 Ceramic Dry lube was run mostly on gravel roads and a big chunk of the time was on some wetter, messy gravel. (Note the seat stay on the cassette image) So, the C3 actually had some "severe level" exposure to grit, mud, and water. The cassette was new when the test started. The latter part of the six hours was on typical, Iowa gravel and it was dry and dusty.

Comments:  Impressive. This lube seems like it does pretty well in gravel conditions, and given that things got so mucky at one point my drive train was skipping and I was fearing I may rip off my derailleur at any moment for about a mile, this is doubly impressive. The chain and cassette are not 100% clean, as you might notice, but there is a distinct lack of greasy build up, and there is little to speak of here in terms of dust or dirt. The chain is not noisy. Shifting was spot on, with the exception of the extreme mucky mile, but that wasn't the fault of the lube.

The Touch Test revealed some gritty build-up.
When I did the "Touch Test" I found some gritty debris left on my finger. the chain felt mildly slick, not oily, and I did not detect anything "wet" at all. This was done in three places around the chain's length.

Contrast this to the current state of the chain with DuMonde Tech on it, (last lubricated in the Summer.....maybe?), I had none of that gritty residue and the chain felt slippery to the touch. Plus, that chain and cassette look cleaner than what I have here with the C3, and that looks great.

So, as I said- Impressive. The Muc-Off Ceramic C3 lube does what a dry lube should do. It leaves your chain slick, cleaner than you'd expect after 6 hours of gravel travel, and free from rust. I had some "outside of the parameters" conditions with this lube and it still held its own. It's got potential here to be as good as DuMonde Tech in my opinion. But let's run the entire test and then I'll make the final verdict.

Speaking of which, I have an hour and a half left to go on the Squirt l then it will be on to the DuMonde Tech lubed bike and after I run that for six hours we'll be ready for the final word. I plan on stopping by with my take on the Squirt lube here in a bit. Maybe later this week even. The C3 lubed bike is getting a complete overhaul/remake/upgrade here, so that chain will not be seeing anymore gravel travel for the near future. That bike will be the subject of tomorrow's post, along with what's happening to it. Stay tuned......

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: Hanging Out In Hawkeye

 "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!

Last week I left off with the meeting of Ira in Janesville and seeing off Marcin Nowak on his pursuit of him. I didn't stick around long as I wanted to be sure nothing fishy was going to happen during the evening.

I still hadn't heard a thing from Zach and I was beginning to think he had bailed out on me when he buzzed me on his cell phone. Now, rural Iowa in 2007 wasn't a very well covered state in terms of cell service. Zach's transmission to me was crackling, static ridden, and he cut out a bit. It was difficult to communicate with him. I tried but we decided to connect later and see if the signal would be better.

In the meantime I was leapfrogging the course again, bypassing more flooded roads which I only learned about well after T.I.v3 was over. In later Trans Iowas this event cemented in me that I had to stick to the course in the future. But for the time being, I was none the wiser. Another issue began to raise its head during this Trans Iowa also. That being that small town convenience stores were ceasing the 24hr service and closing at 10pm, 11pm, and in rare cases, midnight. This meant that the next planned service I had on course would be closed before any riders got there. Yeah......they ended up riding something like 88 miles without service. At least the front runners did. In the early days of Trans Iowa I felt that was a problem. However; I came to understand that the riders could manage longer distances between service opportunities, so later on, an 88 mile stretch between stores was nothing.

Later into the event the slower riders didn't have these issues. They actually were welcomed at 6:00am when this particular place on the T.I.v3 route opened up again. I'd guess about half the 24 finishers benefited. I was a bit upset about it back then because my gauge was to have service opportunities at 50 mile intervals or less. So, I felt a bit of a failure was suffered there on my part, but at the time I just had to let things play out. I could change this in the future. 

Only I was not sure there ever would be a future for Trans Iowa.

Anyway, one of the notable things to me about this T.I. was that I did take a camera, but I lost the files, so I have about two images that I took from it. Weird. That never happened again! But this time, Zach actually covered the event well enough in words that images are not needed as far as my part went, and David Story's awesome covering of the event in terms of images was more than enough to satisfy me. Also, a rider in T.I.v3, Cale Wenthur, took a bunch of great images, some of which I have been using to document T.I.v3 here. (Thanks Cale!)

Speaking of Zach, his take on events of that particular evening were epic. He mentioned being lost in Iowa, the gridded out roads presenting a maze which confused him to no end. He finally did call me and got back on track. By this time I was in Hawkeye awaiting leaders to come by and I was parked in front of a Lutheran Church there. Zach finally arrived a little before 2:00am, and we compared notes from the day. Ira lumbered through town then, with little more than a nod to our existence, he rode on. Then the young women in the truck scene happened:

*".....a pickup truck lumbered around the corner at the telltale pace of a DUI dodger and bumbled over the curb and into the middle of the lawn across the street. A woman jumped out and sprinted inside the house. She left the driver's side door open. She left the country music station on. Blaring. The latest Nashville hits now pound through Hawkeye's half dozen comatose streets, a twangy and tinny surrealist performance-art installation in the making. First I expect the cops to come. then I realize there probably aren't any.

 That was one of the odder things I ever witnessed during a Trans Iowa that wasn't related to the event. By the way, Zach didn't really impart how loud this was. The truck had headers and glass packs, and the stereo was blaring over that. So REALLY LOUD! I remember Zach standing there, slack-jawed, and asking me when the cops would show up. That's when I had to explain to him that there weren't any cops. Maybe a county deputy?.... nah! I told him that the only thing that would happen would be that the local residents would be talking down about it for a few days afterward. Otherwise, standard procedure for these parts!

Not long after this, Marcin came through, his jersey fully unzipped, flapping in the wind. He asked me if there were any convenience stores up the road, and I told him there were none.

" Oh boy, oh boy!", he exclaimed, and he stood up and punched his pedals, disappearing into the blackness. We then waited to see who else would follow up, but by around 3:00am, Zach was cashing out. I stayed up and kept vigil. It was cold, dark, and now eerily silent in Hawkeye. The girl in the truck had long since gone. Nothing was stirring. I had to relieve myself after having downed several Red Bulls. I found a suitable scrub pine behind the church, away from the street, and then I was anxious to get on to the finish line. We had about 40 miles to go, and I figured that Ira would be getting there around 5:00am, so we had to get a move-on.

I tapped on Zach's rental car window until he stirred. "C'mon! We gotta roll!", I said. Zach finally got his act together and we zoomed out of town to the finish. I wanted to be there to make sure I didn't miss it. On the way I rolled a huge racoon under the "Dirty Blue Box" and I was running so hard around the twisty-turny roads that Zach said he could barely hang on to my car. We met up with our two volunteers, Marty and Rob, plus a few others. Zach kind of faded into the background after this point. I was pretty out of it by mid-morning anyway, despite Zach saying that I was bouncing around full of energy. He was busy observing, speaking with others, and then he disappeared. Needed more sleep, I guess, but I don't ever remember saying goodbye to him and I never saw him again.
I've no recollection of doing the awards for T.I.v3. (Image by Cale Wenthur)

Of course, I've written about what happened at the finish a bunch of times. The epic chase of Marcin Nowak coming up ten minutes short. How Team Polska animated the entire finish line experience.  How Ira Ryan was not pleasant to me, and how his entourage was not friendly as well. It's interesting to look back on the apologists who have commented about the incident with Ira in later years, but as it stands, I have never heard from Ira Ryan since that day. And ya know, it doesn't matter. He won. Twice. He was awesome as a cyclist and certainly holds a high place in Trans Iowa history. I will never deny that he did good for the event from afar. If it hadn't been for Ira, Zach would probably never have written the book, and well......I would be poorer for that. So, in the end, despite Ira's malediction at the end of T.I.v3, I still hold that he is a champion of the event. An enigmatic champion- certainly, but a champion none the less.

*Note: Quotation in blue italics is from Zach Dundas' "Renegade Sportsman" chapter on Trans Iowa. I'll be referencing Zach's book in future editions of Trans Iowa Stories. 

Next: The Reasons Why It Shouldn't Ever Have Happened Again 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-44

The leaves of ten years ago.
Ten years ago on the blog I was chatting about Fall weather and riding some of the biggest, baddest tires for 29"ers yet made. The WTB Dissent was, if anything, a harbinger of things to come. But at the time, it was the outlier. A tire with no where to really use it, or a bike to use it on.

Ten years ago, trail riding was still dominated by 26" wheels. That's amazing when you think about that. The longest travel, mainstream suspension fork for a 29"er had 4" of travel. There were oddball efforts with longer travel, but these were rare. In fact, I was using a 120mm travel Reba, which at the time was the long end of suspension fork travel for any 29"er.

My.....how times have changed! Now days anything with two wheels going off road is available with 29"er wheels. 26"?

(crickets)

Ask anyone ten years ago if 26" wheels wouldn't be available for trail, much less DH, in the near future and you would have been run outta town. Just ask Chris Sugai of Niner Bikes. He could tell you.....

The image used today was from a mid-week ride ten years ago on Camp Ingawanis' North Side. These trails are largely unused by cyclists today, and as far as I can tell, it will remain so unless there is some movement by the Boy Scouts to invite cyclists back again. That's really a shame for the locals here. Of course, Ingawanis Woodland, the trails formerly known as "The South Side", when the BSA owned that parcel of land, is a fantastic resource, but those old North side trails were technically more challenging, faster, went "cross country", and had far more variety than anything on the South Side. Just one trail, the old "Broken Finger" section, was ten times more challenging than anything on the South Side. But, yeah...... I could talk for days. Only those who were on those trails can really understand what it is I am trying to convey here.

Obviously, I miss riding there. It was my choice to always do the North Side trails and then maybe do the South Side if I had the time. If you did all the North Side you were pretty tuckered out. There was more mileage there, (even considering today's Ingy trails which didn't exist back then), and the efforts required to do all the North Side were more taxing too. It was just all-around more fun.

Anyway....

At least I had the opportunity to taste what that was like a lot ten years ago. I am very grateful that I did get that chance.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Friday News And Views

RAGBRAI Forges Ahead:

Since Tuesday's announcement that the entire RAGBRAI staff had resigned and decided to start up a different ride called "Iowa's Ride", everyone concerned with the issue had been wondering what RAGBRAI would do. Well, on Wednesday a statement was released by RAGBRAI via its newsletter to email subscribers from a marketing person stating that RAGBRAI would, in fact, occur in July 2020.

Obviously the Des Moines Register is scrambling to get an organization set up to take care of the production of the event. No details were given that anyone had been hired or appointed as of yesterday.

Also, yesterday the Iowa Bicycle Coalition announced its support of "Iowa's Ride". Here is an excerpt from their announcement: "We believe that Iowa’s Ride will be the most successful way to continue the iconic annual bicycle ride across Iowa, not only in 2020 but for many years to come. The team that has formed Iowa’s ride and that will be organizing and managing it have unmatched experience and success in doing so. They are the best hope for continuing this proud tradition. We also believe that a cross-state ride will be best operated and most likely to succeed as a stand-alone and independent entity. This is what Iowa’s Ride offers."

On one hand you have a seasoned team in Iowa's Ride that knows how to do this deal. However; this ride has no equity with traditional RAGBRAI riders, many who won't give a rip about the Carson King Affair. They just want to do RAGBRAI, since.....well RAGBRAI. It's a religion with some folks. That said.....

RAGBRAI has a pickle to deal with, and they won't have anyone with the sort of experience that T.J. Juskiewicz and his team have. What sort of production can we expect from a rookie team? Then too, will mainstay vendors stick with the ride? There are a lot of issues with RAGBRAI, and like anything that's been around a long time, a lot of grumbling factions, some of which may want to jump ship to see their visions possibly become reality.

In fact, that's probably the underlying reason why the folks behind Iowa's Ride left RAGBRAI in the first place.

Measure Your Wrists- Find Your Saddle Size! Really!

Many of you may be aware that saddle size for your bicycle is like shoes, or gloves, or helmets. One size does not fit all. Or even most, for that matter. So, in the last ten years or so, a few ideas have been put forth to help people sort out which size saddle they could be more comfortable on. (Note- I said "could be")

Sometimes this might be effected by having a sample run of saddles that you actually tried out on your own bicycle. Several companies went that direction, including WTB, back a decade ago or so. Then Bontrager had a system which included a gel filled cushion on a small bench. You sat yourself within the center of this, and theoretically, your sit bones would push away the gel and a color coded scale would lead you to your correct saddle width choice. It was a start, for sure, and I realized when using this system that I had been using a saddle too narrow for me.

Once I had narrowed that down I still had to search for a saddle shape and padding that worked for me. Eventually I ended up on mostly WTB stuff with a smattering of Brooks saddles thrown in for good measure. Last year WTB announced new, wider widths for some of their saddle line and I got to try out the Silverado in a 143mm width. Oh! New favorite saddle!

Then at Gravel Worlds the fit system was being talked about at the WTB booth. I was......pretty skeptical. I watched as my friend Tony went through the four steps and had a width suggested to him along with a couple saddles that matched his profile. Then I went back home and pretty much forgot about it.

In that time I started experiencing some discomfort with my old standby, the WTB Pure. As we age, things change. Maybe I needed to start thinking about a new saddle. The Silverado? Maybe. Then WTB's marketing guy sent me an e-mail asking if I wouldn't go through the saddle finder system and try a saddle or would I? So, I agreed, and this new Volt is what I was sent. Stay tuned for the results.....

One sided, but made for gravel travel.
TIME Does Gravel:

TIME is a well known pedal and shoe purveyor that has been most used in the road cycling circles, but they do have an excellent MTB pedal that is shamefully under-represented in the mountain biking and gravel road segments.

Recently TIME announced a new pedal aimed at, what else, gravel riding. Well, to be fair, they are saying this was also influenced by the needs of cyclo-tourists as well. The deal here is that road pedals have a great, supportive platform, but generally use a cleat that necessitates a shoe design which is awkward to walk in. TIME solved this issue with their new Ciclo pedal.

I used road pedals and shoes once, for a short time, in the early 1990's. The ones I tried were those Shimano two bolt cleat ones, remember those? They were smallish and harder than heck to get into, at least I thought so. And those shoes! Gah! Not for me. And then I went MTB shoes/pedals and never looked back. So, I really have no reference point for this "support" you get with more of a platform pedal.

This will be newer territory for me, and I am going in with an open mind to see what, if any, real differences there are. I am quite familiar with carbon soled shoes and stiffer soled MTB style shoes, while my preference usually was for a bit more flex than not. In fact, one of my all-time favorite shoes of recent years was a pair of middling Shimano three strap MTB shoes.

I'll probably bolt these cleats to my old 45NRTH bootie shoes, since, ya know, Fall has progressed to the point that traditional shoes are not going to be a good choice. Stay tuned for how this all works out.

Note: TIME and WTB sent the items mentioned in today's post to RIDING GRAVEL for review at no charge. There was no money exchanged or promises made to include these items in today's post. 

That's it for this week. get out and ride, but be careful of all the farmers this weekend if you ride out in the country in the Mid-West.