Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Year - New Decade

The "Rear View" is over and out. Now with the turn of a page on the calendar, I am looking at a new year, and a new decade. It's a unique time to consider.

Ten years ago here on this blog I did the same thing. I looked ahead, set some goals, and had hopes. My life was so very different back then. There were two, now defunct, websites I worked very hard at. There was a brand new one that I had no idea would become my primary focus within the next four years. I ran one of the legendary gravel events in Trans Iowa, and I had a "day job" I never really ever talked about here for several reasons.

Now, looking at the future, I have a focus on my next stage in my family life. My two children will set off on their own adventures in life. What they do, I have no idea right now, but I want to be present in that. My wonderful wife will be by my side, I hope, all through this time coming up. Our lives are bound to change, what with my new chapter professionally which is going to happen soon. (Stay tuned)

But I want to focus now on the blog here. I've mentioned it before, but I'll have 15 years under my fingers here in May. There should be something to mark that occasion with, so I am going to come up with a few items of merch to put up for sale to commemorate the occasion. This will be a one-time, limited offering. I don't like to monetize the blog here, and I don't want to offer merch for sale on a regular basis, because, well........it wouldn't be special then now, would it?

Over the years I have found you, the readers, like the series, like the ongoing "Trans Iowa Stories" series. I'll find ways to keep stuff like that coming. I also found that you folks like the adventures I go on, the images, and the tales that go with those. So, I want to get away from home more in 2020. I want to ride in more interesting places and report on that here.

My professional life will be a part of the story, unlike in the past. There will be a shift here as well. My past at the old shop is a tale I could tell, but...... yeah..... That's touchy. Not for myself, but for the former owner of the shop, who, shall we say, is a difficult personality to portray in anything other than a dim light. I know I mentioned back when I left that shop that I might get into the details around that, but......nah. Better left unsaid. Besides, it's a very negative thing to deal with and I won't be bringing that into this blog. Which explains why I almost never spoke about my place of work here in the past.

My hope is that with a new opportunity, I won't be reticent to give out more details on my life at work. My immediate goals are to be able to get employed again and be comfortable with my employment situation, unlike before.

I'm hoping to diversify in the coming years also. I am dinking around with guitar amp servicing and repair. I want to mess about with music recording at home. I've mentioned the podcast thing. Art is another avenue I want to explore more and share here. So, the bicycle thing will always be number one, but perhaps a glimpse into other aspects of Guitar Ted might be fun to have here on the blog in the future.

As always, I am very grateful to you for reading this and my other posts here. I am always open to suggestions and ideas, criticisms, and any constructive comments you may want to share. I started out here almost 15 years ago with a lot of enthusiasm and not much knowledge. I've learned a lot along the way, and I want to continue to keep learning more.

Thanks!
Guitar Ted

Starting tomorrow will be a three part series on the "State Of The Gravel Scene - 2020". 


New Year - New Decade

The "Rear View" is over and out. Now with the turn of a page on the calendar, I am looking at a new year, and a new decade. It's a unique time to consider.

Ten years ago here on this blog I did the same thing. I looked ahead, set some goals, and had hopes. My life was so very different back then. There were two, now defunct, websites I worked very hard at. There was a brand new one that I had no idea would become my primary focus within the next four years. I ran one of the legendary gravel events in Trans Iowa, and I had a "day job" I never really ever talked about here for several reasons.

Now, looking at the future, I have a focus on my next stage in my family life. My two children will set off on their own adventures in life. What they do, I have no idea right now, but I want to be present in that. My wonderful wife will be by my side, I hope, all through this time coming up. Our lives are bound to change, what with my new chapter professionally which is going to happen soon. (Stay tuned)

But I want to focus now on the blog here. I've mentioned it before, but I'll have 15 years under my fingers here in May. There should be something to mark that occasion with, so I am going to come up with a few items of merch to put up for sale to commemorate the occasion. This will be a one-time, limited offering. I don't like to monetize the blog here, and I don't want to offer merch for sale on a regular basis, because, well........it wouldn't be special then now, would it?

Over the years I have found you, the readers, like the series, like the ongoing "Trans Iowa Stories" series. I'll find ways to keep stuff like that coming. I also found that you folks like the adventures I go on, the images, and the tales that go with those. So, I want to get away from home more in 2020. I want to ride in more interesting places and report on that here.

My professional life will be a part of the story, unlike in the past. There will be a shift here as well. My past at the old shop is a tale I could tell, but...... yeah..... That's touchy. Not for myself, but for the former owner of the shop, who, shall we say, is a difficult personality to portray in anything other than a dim light. I know I mentioned back when I left that shop that I might get into the details around that, but......nah. Better left unsaid. Besides, it's a very negative thing to deal with and I won't be bringing that into this blog. Which explains why I almost never spoke about my place of work here in the past.

My hope is that with a new opportunity, I won't be reticent to give out more details on my life at work. My immediate goals are to be able to get employed again and be comfortable with my employment situation, unlike before.

I'm hoping to diversify in the coming years also. I am dinking around with guitar amp servicing and repair. I want to mess about with music recording at home. I've mentioned the podcast thing. Art is another avenue I want to explore more and share here. So, the bicycle thing will always be number one, but perhaps a glimpse into other aspects of Guitar Ted might be fun to have here on the blog in the future.

As always, I am very grateful to you for reading this and my other posts here. I am always open to suggestions and ideas, criticisms, and any constructive comments you may want to share. I started out here almost 15 years ago with a lot of enthusiasm and not much knowledge. I've learned a lot along the way, and I want to continue to keep learning more.

Thanks!
Guitar Ted

Starting tomorrow will be a three part series on the "State Of The Gravel Scene - 2020". 


Bikes Of 2019: Raleigh Tamland Two

That old stand-by- The Raleigh Tamland 2
Raleigh Tamland 2: Okay, the last day of 2019 and so we have to roll out a classic of the blog here- The Raleigh Tamland 2.

You readers have seen this bike for years, and really, if I had to pick a "Bike Of The Decade", the Raleigh Tamland 2 from the first run of this bike would be it. To recap, let's briefly run over the history one more time, for old time's sake. (It is New Year's Eve, after all!)

So, I was at the now defunct shop where I used to work. It was a busy day and a phone call comes in for me. It was Raleigh, and they had set up a conference call with their R&D, engineers, and marketing folk. They asked me to tell them what I would do if I had free reign to design a gravel bike. Their only caveat was that "it has to be sell-able".

Keeping in mind, this was 2012. There were no gravel bikes. (Well, there was the Warbird, but it had just come out, and I wasn't impressed, much to the chagrin of certain Salsa Cycles folks.) Disc brakes weren't a slam dunk.....yet. Carbon fiber was coming, but it would be too expensive and too far outside of what the gravel riders then wanted. So, it was a steel frame then, steel fork, (because no one was making a very smooth feeling carbon fork for gravel in 2012), and yes- disc brakes. The Raleigh folks were like, "Are you sure?", and I told them to just wait- it was coming.

I asked for rack and fender mounts, a lower bottom bracket, a slacker head tube angle, a longer offset fork, room for big 700c tires (43mm w/fenders) and a braze on chain hanger. Why not? It was a fantasy at that time, and I had no idea if any of it would ever come true. Fast forward to 2013 Interbike. I was aware that Raleigh had come out with the Tamland series. I walked into the show and saw the Tamland as then head of Raleigh's marketing, Brian Fournes told me that Raleigh utilized every one of my suggestions! The geometry, the disc brakes, even the chain hangar! 

The current state of the Tamland 2
 I was floored, slightly embarrassed, and very worried that the bike would be a flop. It was definitely not a flop. The 2014 Tamland sold out, Raleigh subsequently ran the same color scheme for 2015, and the model is still being produced to this day, although Raleigh is not the company it once was.

If I screwed up here it was that I did not have the foresight to spec through axles. Flat mount brakes weren't even on anyone's radar yet in 2012, but through axles were, although we were a couple of years away from seeing that on gravel bikes. But that said, I am proud that the Tamland came out the way it did and that it is one of the modern day classics of gravel bikes. As I've said many times, I'll likely never have this much influence over a design of a bicycle again- unless I weld it up! 

The years have passed and I have had several adventures on this bike. Six seasons of riding have left their scars and six years of parts swaps have left little of the original Tamland 2 but the frame, crank set, and the rear derailleur. I keep threatening to park this thing and not ride it anymore, but it is just too good.

Many people have asked me if Raleigh gave me a Tamland 2, or if they compensated me in any way for the consultation. They did not do anything for me. I bought my Tamland 2 from Europa Cycle & Ski, (now out of business) and paid employee discount for it. (Perk of working at the shop at the time) So, I have no ties to it that way. All I have is the knowledge that I have had an influence on the design.

The future for this bike? Well, things will change on it, more than likely. The drive train needs updating, that's one thing that will likely happen. I still have the original fork for it, but this Fyxation one is actually a better fork, in my opinion. I may get it re-powder coated. Who knows! I'm sure I'll be putting more miles on it in the future though.

With this post I bring to a close my "Bikes of 2019" series. Happy New Year!

Bikes Of 2019: Raleigh Tamland Two

That old stand-by- The Raleigh Tamland 2
Raleigh Tamland 2: Okay, the last day of 2019 and so we have to roll out a classic of the blog here- The Raleigh Tamland 2.

You readers have seen this bike for years, and really, if I had to pick a "Bike Of The Decade", the Raleigh Tamland 2 from the first run of this bike would be it. To recap, let's briefly run over the history one more time, for old time's sake. (It is New Year's Eve, after all!)

So, I was at the now defunct shop where I used to work. It was a busy day and a phone call comes in for me. It was Raleigh, and they had set up a conference call with their R&D, engineers, and marketing folk. They asked me to tell them what I would do if I had free reign to design a gravel bike. Their only caveat was that "it has to be sell-able".

Keeping in mind, this was 2012. There were no gravel bikes. (Well, there was the Warbird, but it had just come out, and I wasn't impressed, much to the chagrin of certain Salsa Cycles folks.) Disc brakes weren't a slam dunk.....yet. Carbon fiber was coming, but it would be too expensive and too far outside of what the gravel riders then wanted. So, it was a steel frame then, steel fork, (because no one was making a very smooth feeling carbon fork for gravel in 2012), and yes- disc brakes. The Raleigh folks were like, "Are you sure?", and I told them to just wait- it was coming.

I asked for rack and fender mounts, a lower bottom bracket, a slacker head tube angle, a longer offset fork, room for big 700c tires (43mm w/fenders) and a braze on chain hanger. Why not? It was a fantasy at that time, and I had no idea if any of it would ever come true. Fast forward to 2013 Interbike. I was aware that Raleigh had come out with the Tamland series. I walked into the show and saw the Tamland as then head of Raleigh's marketing, Brian Fournes told me that Raleigh utilized every one of my suggestions! The geometry, the disc brakes, even the chain hangar! 

The current state of the Tamland 2
 I was floored, slightly embarrassed, and very worried that the bike would be a flop. It was definitely not a flop. The 2014 Tamland sold out, Raleigh subsequently ran the same color scheme for 2015, and the model is still being produced to this day, although Raleigh is not the company it once was.

If I screwed up here it was that I did not have the foresight to spec through axles. Flat mount brakes weren't even on anyone's radar yet in 2012, but through axles were, although we were a couple of years away from seeing that on gravel bikes. But that said, I am proud that the Tamland came out the way it did and that it is one of the modern day classics of gravel bikes. As I've said many times, I'll likely never have this much influence over a design of a bicycle again- unless I weld it up! 

The years have passed and I have had several adventures on this bike. Six seasons of riding have left their scars and six years of parts swaps have left little of the original Tamland 2 but the frame, crank set, and the rear derailleur. I keep threatening to park this thing and not ride it anymore, but it is just too good.

Many people have asked me if Raleigh gave me a Tamland 2, or if they compensated me in any way for the consultation. They did not do anything for me. I bought my Tamland 2 from Europa Cycle & Ski, (now out of business) and paid employee discount for it. (Perk of working at the shop at the time) So, I have no ties to it that way. All I have is the knowledge that I have had an influence on the design.

The future for this bike? Well, things will change on it, more than likely. The drive train needs updating, that's one thing that will likely happen. I still have the original fork for it, but this Fyxation one is actually a better fork, in my opinion. I may get it re-powder coated. Who knows! I'm sure I'll be putting more miles on it in the future though.

With this post I bring to a close my "Bikes of 2019" series. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2019

Gravel Grinder News: Land Run 100 Becomes "Mid-South"

The logo for the renamed Land Run 100, now known as "Mid-South"
Special Edition of Gravel Grinder News: Breaking Story- The Land Run 100 Becomes "Mid-South"

History is an ironic thing. You can read into it what you like, but history has an ever-changing perspective, and a great example of this is the re-naming of one of gravel grinding's classics. This was just announced today and came as a bit of a shock, but upon further reflection, it makes sense in today's world.

The Land Run - the historical, late 19th Century event - used to be portrayed as one of the U.S's final achievements in its "Manifest Destiny" philosophy. It's a very complex and difficult bit of our past to understand, and it affected millions of people, both native and immigrant alike.  Against this backdrop, it was criticism of the naming of the Oklahoma gravel event as the "Land Run 100" which ended up causing some reflection and ultimately the scrubbing of this event's name from the records.

So, moving forward the event will be known by the curious name of "Mid-South". The former name is being swept away, and you can read about why that is here and here. The event has a completely new website as well which can be seen here.

Comments: Interestingly, this new name is quite a change from before. In my opinion, it is such a neutral name that it has hardly any excitement or inspiration to it, unlike the former name, however misguided and hurtful to some folks that may have been. The logo reflects this as well. It has no "identity" to it, (at least that is obvious) but it may not matter in the end.

People were flocking to enter the "Land Run" before, with its former, now understood to be questionable, name choice, and they will likely go to the "Mid-South" event despite its uninspiring facade. This is because whatever they want to call the event, what makes the thing a "big deal" is the enthusiasm of Bobby Wintle and his crew, their style, and the myth of the legendary challenge of the red mud roads. Name notwithstanding, apparently.

Regardless of how anyone feels about the changes, this reflects how "gravel is growing up" and points to a more inclusive and less offensive face for a very popular event on the calendar. That's the real point here, and it probably was a very difficult situation for Mr. Wintle and crew to navigate through. My hats off to Mr. Wintle and crew for moving forward with this new name and I think it speaks to his and his crew's character highly.


Gravel Grinder News: Land Run 100 Becomes "Mid-South"

The logo for the renamed Land Run 100, now known as "Mid-South"
Special Edition of Gravel Grinder News: Breaking Story- The Land Run 100 Becomes "Mid-South"

History is an ironic thing. You can read into it what you like, but history has an ever-changing perspective, and a great example of this is the re-naming of one of gravel grinding's classics. This was just announced today and came as a bit of a shock, but upon further reflection, it makes sense in today's world.

The Land Run - the historical, late 19th Century event - used to be portrayed as one of the U.S's final achievements in its "Manifest Destiny" philosophy. It's a very complex and difficult bit of our past to understand, and it affected millions of people, both native and immigrant alike.  Against this backdrop, it was criticism of the naming of the Oklahoma gravel event as the "Land Run 100" which ended up causing some reflection and ultimately the scrubbing of this event's name from the records.

So, moving forward the event will be known by the curious name of "Mid-South". The former name is being swept away, and you can read about why that is here and here. The event has a completely new website as well which can be seen here.

Comments: Interestingly, this new name is quite a change from before. In my opinion, it is such a neutral name that it has hardly any excitement or inspiration to it, unlike the former name, however misguided and hurtful to some folks that may have been. The logo reflects this as well. It has no "identity" to it, (at least that is obvious) but it may not matter in the end.

People were flocking to enter the "Land Run" before, with its former, now understood to be questionable, name choice, and they will likely go to the "Mid-South" event despite its uninspiring facade. This is because whatever they want to call the event, what makes the thing a "big deal" is the enthusiasm of Bobby Wintle and his crew, their style, and the myth of the legendary challenge of the red mud roads. Name notwithstanding, apparently.

Regardless of how anyone feels about the changes, this reflects how "gravel is growing up" and points to a more inclusive and less offensive face for a very popular event on the calendar. That's the real point here, and it probably was a very difficult situation for Mr. Wintle and crew to navigate through. My hats off to Mr. Wintle and crew for moving forward with this new name and I think it speaks to his and his crew's character highly.


C.O.G. 100 registration Announcement

C.O.G. 100 Iowa Single Speed Gravel Championships: March 28th, Grinnell, Iowa. Registration opens on January 2nd, at 8:00am! 

C.O.G.100 site link

Please read the event details on the site and make sure that you understand and agree with them. If you register and complain after the fact, we are not going to put up with it. So, make sure you are onboard with ALL the rules, suggestions, and registration details BEFORE you register. 

We'll say it again- This Is A Single Speed ONLY Event. Yes.......really. This means you will have to either (a) convert your bike to fit the rules or (b) borrow a single speed, or (c) buy a single speed bike to get into the event and participate in it. We will have inspections to determine if your bike is within guidelines, so don't show up with your levers zip-tied thinking we'll just turn our heads the other way. That isn't going to happen. 

We are going to have hats as part of your entry fee, and we are going to offer an optional t-shirt in two designs. First will be the livery for the event seen here. (Maybe not the camo part.....we'll see) The other will be a simpler shirt that will say "Real. American. Gravel." Both designs will be $20.00 and you can buy one, two, or none. It's completely optional on the shirts. We decided to not offer a jersey, like we did last year. So, no jerseys. 

Preemptive Strike: So, maybe some of you are thinking, "Well, well! I thought you were all about breaking down barriers and being inclusive. So what's the deal with single speed only then?" This is a fair question. I'll go back to my original musings on this type of event, "Why not?" No one, that I was aware of, was doing anything like this. There are a rather large number of single speed fanatics in the ranks of gravel riding. I figured, hey! Let's offer a focus on those riders. 

Secondly, a single speed gravel bike is easy to come up with. It cost little to nothing to "dirt bag" up a single speed rig. If you don't know how, consult your local LBS with some knowledge in SS MTB. They will know. And speaking of mtb bikes, an SS 29"er would be a banger C.O.G.100 rig. Anyway, it is about the opposite of most of these "Big Time Gravel" events where unless you are sporting a $7K carbon rocket with carbon hoops and electronic shifting then you're off the back. Making the event single speed only kind of backs that "arms race" thing up a bit. Actually, it is more inclusive, come to think of it. 

Anyway, if you want to come but you just cannot get around the single speed hurdle, (meaning you can't come up with one to ride, not that it is "harder", or that you cannot ride it) , then get a hold of me. N.Y. Roll and I will make it happen. So.....you may not like the bike, but that won't be a hurdle. 

Questions? Hit me up NOW! 

C.O.G. 100 registration Announcement

C.O.G. 100 Iowa Single Speed Gravel Championships: March 28th, Grinnell, Iowa. Registration opens on January 2nd, at 8:00am! 

C.O.G.100 site link

Please read the event details on the site and make sure that you understand and agree with them. If you register and complain after the fact, we are not going to put up with it. So, make sure you are onboard with ALL the rules, suggestions, and registration details BEFORE you register. 

We'll say it again- This Is A Single Speed ONLY Event. Yes.......really. This means you will have to either (a) convert your bike to fit the rules or (b) borrow a single speed, or (c) buy a single speed bike to get into the event and participate in it. We will have inspections to determine if your bike is within guidelines, so don't show up with your levers zip-tied thinking we'll just turn our heads the other way. That isn't going to happen. 

We are going to have hats as part of your entry fee, and we are going to offer an optional t-shirt in two designs. First will be the livery for the event seen here. (Maybe not the camo part.....we'll see) The other will be a simpler shirt that will say "Real. American. Gravel." Both designs will be $20.00 and you can buy one, two, or none. It's completely optional on the shirts. We decided to not offer a jersey, like we did last year. So, no jerseys. 

Preemptive Strike: So, maybe some of you are thinking, "Well, well! I thought you were all about breaking down barriers and being inclusive. So what's the deal with single speed only then?" This is a fair question. I'll go back to my original musings on this type of event, "Why not?" No one, that I was aware of, was doing anything like this. There are a rather large number of single speed fanatics in the ranks of gravel riding. I figured, hey! Let's offer a focus on those riders. 

Secondly, a single speed gravel bike is easy to come up with. It cost little to nothing to "dirt bag" up a single speed rig. If you don't know how, consult your local LBS with some knowledge in SS MTB. They will know. And speaking of mtb bikes, an SS 29"er would be a banger C.O.G.100 rig. Anyway, it is about the opposite of most of these "Big Time Gravel" events where unless you are sporting a $7K carbon rocket with carbon hoops and electronic shifting then you're off the back. Making the event single speed only kind of backs that "arms race" thing up a bit. Actually, it is more inclusive, come to think of it. 

Anyway, if you want to come but you just cannot get around the single speed hurdle, (meaning you can't come up with one to ride, not that it is "harder", or that you cannot ride it) , then get a hold of me. N.Y. Roll and I will make it happen. So.....you may not like the bike, but that won't be a hurdle. 

Questions? Hit me up NOW! 

Looking Ahead: Goals

The end of the year. many of us already have some goals set, and I have been giving some thought to this as well. They say that if you write your goals down, you are more likely to achieve them. So, to that end, I have physically written down goals on a sheet of paper, but this will reflect that here.

I have two lists, actually. One is personal, and I won't share everything here that is on that list. Some of it I will. The list concerning cycling I will share completely here. Okay, in no particular order.....

Centuries: 2019 saw me riding a total of "0" century length rides. I had some planned, but failed. That MUST change for 2020. I know I didn't put in the work, and that is another goal here. To that end, I have already made some personal changes in my lifestyle and eating habits. There is much more work to do there though. The other stress I had was my old job, and that was a year-long dance of not knowing what was going to happen, and that affected me negatively in terms of riding. That part is gone, thankfully. Then the third thing was weather. We had a bad Spring here which set the tone for the rest of the year for me. So, if we have bad weather again, I have to find a way around that.

Finish Gravel Worlds Again: Pretty much related to the above, just a more specific goal. I know I can do it, I did it once in 2016, but I've a feeling this may be my last go-round with this event, so I want to cap it off with a finish.

Ride In Some Different Places: I didn't get very far from home in 2019. I would like to venture out back to Eastern Iowa, Northeastern Iowa, go see my friends in Northfield and ride there, and who knows where else. I just am a bit worn out with the local roads.

Shrink The Fleet- Clear Some Space: It's time to clear out a bunch of stuff, old bicycles, parts, and junk that I have accumulated over the last 15 years. I have already started on this, but I am going to thin out things more in 2020.

Solstice 100: I already signed up for this event again which will be held in a new area of Nebraska. Again- I'd like to finish a century. 

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: This will be the 15th GTDRI. First- I'd like to finish this as well!  

So, on a personal level I have a few things to share which are obvious. First, I need to get a job. I've been working on this, but I need to finalize details and get onboard somewhere soon. I cannot just be floating here with no job for long.

Secondly is my health, and that's related to riding, which I've already touched upon. Beyond this I want to also get a few things squared away at the house, and be present for my family.

On the blog-front, social media front, and beyond, I have some goals as well. Podcasting is something that has to be tried, at least. And it cannot hinge upon other folks or technical issues. As for the blog, well I've been doing a lot of thinking.

I have posted everyday, sometimes twice a day, for years now. I didn't always do that. In the last ten years I have posted every day, or more, for 6 years, two other years were within 4 posts of every day. That's something I've considered for the future, a thing that I may not do so often. It's hard to say though, as I like writing here, and as long as I have relevant, interesting things to share, I don't see the post count going down. Let's just say I am mulling things over, but don't expect me to post any less. I probably will post like crazy anyway. Oh well......

So, as for goals, I want to continue the "Trans Iowa Stories", maybe introduce some "other than bicycle related" content here and there, and just keep refining my writing. I am also going to go for showing more of my art here, and we will see where that leads. In 2019 I was thrilled to have had a couple drawings I did sell. So, obviously people appreciate my art, and it is bicycle related, so..... why not? 

That's a good list. So, I'll leave it at that for now. Here's to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020 for one and all!

Looking Ahead: Goals

The end of the year. many of us already have some goals set, and I have been giving some thought to this as well. They say that if you write your goals down, you are more likely to achieve them. So, to that end, I have physically written down goals on a sheet of paper, but this will reflect that here.

I have two lists, actually. One is personal, and I won't share everything here that is on that list. Some of it I will. The list concerning cycling I will share completely here. Okay, in no particular order.....

Centuries: 2019 saw me riding a total of "0" century length rides. I had some planned, but failed. That MUST change for 2020. I know I didn't put in the work, and that is another goal here. To that end, I have already made some personal changes in my lifestyle and eating habits. There is much more work to do there though. The other stress I had was my old job, and that was a year-long dance of not knowing what was going to happen, and that affected me negatively in terms of riding. That part is gone, thankfully. Then the third thing was weather. We had a bad Spring here which set the tone for the rest of the year for me. So, if we have bad weather again, I have to find a way around that.

Finish Gravel Worlds Again: Pretty much related to the above, just a more specific goal. I know I can do it, I did it once in 2016, but I've a feeling this may be my last go-round with this event, so I want to cap it off with a finish.

Ride In Some Different Places: I didn't get very far from home in 2019. I would like to venture out back to Eastern Iowa, Northeastern Iowa, go see my friends in Northfield and ride there, and who knows where else. I just am a bit worn out with the local roads.

Shrink The Fleet- Clear Some Space: It's time to clear out a bunch of stuff, old bicycles, parts, and junk that I have accumulated over the last 15 years. I have already started on this, but I am going to thin out things more in 2020.

Solstice 100: I already signed up for this event again which will be held in a new area of Nebraska. Again- I'd like to finish a century. 

Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational: This will be the 15th GTDRI. First- I'd like to finish this as well!  

So, on a personal level I have a few things to share which are obvious. First, I need to get a job. I've been working on this, but I need to finalize details and get onboard somewhere soon. I cannot just be floating here with no job for long.

Secondly is my health, and that's related to riding, which I've already touched upon. Beyond this I want to also get a few things squared away at the house, and be present for my family.

On the blog-front, social media front, and beyond, I have some goals as well. Podcasting is something that has to be tried, at least. And it cannot hinge upon other folks or technical issues. As for the blog, well I've been doing a lot of thinking.

I have posted everyday, sometimes twice a day, for years now. I didn't always do that. In the last ten years I have posted every day, or more, for 6 years, two other years were within 4 posts of every day. That's something I've considered for the future, a thing that I may not do so often. It's hard to say though, as I like writing here, and as long as I have relevant, interesting things to share, I don't see the post count going down. Let's just say I am mulling things over, but don't expect me to post any less. I probably will post like crazy anyway. Oh well......

So, as for goals, I want to continue the "Trans Iowa Stories", maybe introduce some "other than bicycle related" content here and there, and just keep refining my writing. I am also going to go for showing more of my art here, and we will see where that leads. In 2019 I was thrilled to have had a couple drawings I did sell. So, obviously people appreciate my art, and it is bicycle related, so..... why not? 

That's a good list. So, I'll leave it at that for now. Here's to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2020 for one and all!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Trans Iowa Stories: The One-Off - Rejected!

 "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 easy thing to pick out amongst Trans Iowa's fifth running was that it was held out of a new location. That town was Williamsburg, Iowa. I've told the story several times already about why it was David Pals and I decided to move Trans Iowa out of Decorah. Basically, we were rejected by one of the leading figures in cycling there at the time, and unfortunately, he was also one of Trans Iowa's earliest supporters and mentors. Getting rejected by "Deke" Gosen hurt, but we forged ahead with optimism that Williamsburg would be a great place for a fresh, new start.

Then reality set in. The town of Williamsburg thought we were fruitcakes and cycling events were weird. Cold shoulders and unfriendly looks were all we could find in that town as we hit up businesses and the City government as we went looking for help to find a venue for our pre-race meeting. I remember the meeting we had with a local sports bar and how we felt really down afterward. That pretty much characterized our entire experience with Williamsburg. It seemed that we were going to have to hold a pre-race meeting right out at the start line. And, in fact, that was the official plan as late as two weeks out from the event.

Since there was "no room at the inn" for a Trans Iowa pre-race meeting in Williamsburg, the plan was that I was going to be at a motel lobby near I-80, just North of Williamsburg, to hand out pre-race bags with the all important cue sheets. We even thought about having David sit at another motel lobby nearby to split the duties up, and catch more riders where they were staying, but that plan was put on hold till the last second. David was wanting to put in one, final effort to secure a spot where we could hold a proper pre-race meeting.

So, where were we going to hold the meeting? Well, we had found out during recon that Williamsburg had a cemetery located just on the outskirts of the village South on our way toward Checkpoint #1. We had thought about starting the event in town, but given the fact that the town fathers were so cold to our event, and that Trans Iowa had ended at a cemetery before (v3), why not start at one? Had David not accomplished the miracle he did, this is where the pre-race meeting would have been held.

That miracle was that David, somehow or another, talked someone into letting us have a meeting room in the second level of the local Municipal Community Center. I cannot recall that we had to pay anything for it, but if we did, it was a minimal amount. David pretty much handled all those details, so I am a bit foggy on that bit.

The point was, we had a room! That said, we were strictly told that there would be no allowances for food or drink whatsoever. We had some chairs, but we were responsible for the setting up and putting away of those, and we had a time limit which we had to meet in order to get the space. Any deviance or after-the-fact clean-up required by the staff of the Community Center would incur costs on our part. But, we had a room! 

While relief and happiness at the eleventh hour obtaining of the room was felt, David and I were not very pleased at all with the village of Williamsburg. Contrasted to the previous year, where we had cooks making spaghetti sauce in two flavors and reducing it all day, where we had beer and food, and a welcoming atmosphere, this austere, no frills meeting was a big let-down in our eyes. This was not David's, nor my idea of a Trans Iowa experience. This rejection and struggle with the village was not forgotten, and it pretty much guaranteed that T.I.v5 would be a one-off affair. The following Trans Iowa events would be held somewhere else, we knew that. Where that would be could wait. We had an event to put on first.

Next: The One-Off: Subterfuge At The Meeting

Trans Iowa Stories: The One-Off - Rejected!

 "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 easy thing to pick out amongst Trans Iowa's fifth running was that it was held out of a new location. That town was Williamsburg, Iowa. I've told the story several times already about why it was David Pals and I decided to move Trans Iowa out of Decorah. Basically, we were rejected by one of the leading figures in cycling there at the time, and unfortunately, he was also one of Trans Iowa's earliest supporters and mentors. Getting rejected by "Deke" Gosen hurt, but we forged ahead with optimism that Williamsburg would be a great place for a fresh, new start.

Then reality set in. The town of Williamsburg thought we were fruitcakes and cycling events were weird. Cold shoulders and unfriendly looks were all we could find in that town as we hit up businesses and the City government as we went looking for help to find a venue for our pre-race meeting. I remember the meeting we had with a local sports bar and how we felt really down afterward. That pretty much characterized our entire experience with Williamsburg. It seemed that we were going to have to hold a pre-race meeting right out at the start line. And, in fact, that was the official plan as late as two weeks out from the event.

Since there was "no room at the inn" for a Trans Iowa pre-race meeting in Williamsburg, the plan was that I was going to be at a motel lobby near I-80, just North of Williamsburg, to hand out pre-race bags with the all important cue sheets. We even thought about having David sit at another motel lobby nearby to split the duties up, and catch more riders where they were staying, but that plan was put on hold till the last second. David was wanting to put in one, final effort to secure a spot where we could hold a proper pre-race meeting.

So, where were we going to hold the meeting? Well, we had found out during recon that Williamsburg had a cemetery located just on the outskirts of the village South on our way toward Checkpoint #1. We had thought about starting the event in town, but given the fact that the town fathers were so cold to our event, and that Trans Iowa had ended at a cemetery before (v3), why not start at one? Had David not accomplished the miracle he did, this is where the pre-race meeting would have been held.

That miracle was that David, somehow or another, talked someone into letting us have a meeting room in the second level of the local Municipal Community Center. I cannot recall that we had to pay anything for it, but if we did, it was a minimal amount. David pretty much handled all those details, so I am a bit foggy on that bit.

The point was, we had a room! That said, we were strictly told that there would be no allowances for food or drink whatsoever. We had some chairs, but we were responsible for the setting up and putting away of those, and we had a time limit which we had to meet in order to get the space. Any deviance or after-the-fact clean-up required by the staff of the Community Center would incur costs on our part. But, we had a room! 

While relief and happiness at the eleventh hour obtaining of the room was felt, David and I were not very pleased at all with the village of Williamsburg. Contrasted to the previous year, where we had cooks making spaghetti sauce in two flavors and reducing it all day, where we had beer and food, and a welcoming atmosphere, this austere, no frills meeting was a big let-down in our eyes. This was not David's, nor my idea of a Trans Iowa experience. This rejection and struggle with the village was not forgotten, and it pretty much guaranteed that T.I.v5 would be a one-off affair. The following Trans Iowa events would be held somewhere else, we knew that. Where that would be could wait. We had an event to put on first.

Next: The One-Off: Subterfuge At The Meeting

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Minus Ten Review 2009-52

Ten years ago on the blog it was mostly all about the "Rear View" for that year. No particular reason to re-hash any of that here again. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you all that this will be the last "MTR" post.

I have decided that these were really about the beginnings of the blog. I started these as a kind of way to celebrate a decade of blogging in 2015. Well, it was neat to revisit those ancient posts, and to recall the way this grew. However; I have noticed with this year and last that I have taken the MTR posts as opportunities to riff on themes having more to do with "the now" than "the yesterday".

That tells me it is time to retire the series. Also, with my closing in on 15 years of blogging here, I thought it might be fun to switch gears and just have me talk about whatever random posts I find in the pile from the last decade (2010-2019) that stick out as being relevant today, or which were impactful to me/the blog, or noteworthy for whatever reason. Maybe you've got ideas? Let me know. I want to mark 15 years somehow though.

That will happen- the 15th anniversary, that is- in May of 2020. So, I've got time to dream up something, or to ponder any ideas you might have out there.

Or maybe Sundays I'll take off. Gee....... That's a thought! 

Anyway, something different is going to happen regardless. I hope that you enjoyed the past several years of looking back on Sundays at the blogging history, and thank you for reading Guitar Ted Productions, as always!

Minus Ten Review 2009-52

Ten years ago on the blog it was mostly all about the "Rear View" for that year. No particular reason to re-hash any of that here again. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you all that this will be the last "MTR" post.

I have decided that these were really about the beginnings of the blog. I started these as a kind of way to celebrate a decade of blogging in 2015. Well, it was neat to revisit those ancient posts, and to recall the way this grew. However; I have noticed with this year and last that I have taken the MTR posts as opportunities to riff on themes having more to do with "the now" than "the yesterday".

That tells me it is time to retire the series. Also, with my closing in on 15 years of blogging here, I thought it might be fun to switch gears and just have me talk about whatever random posts I find in the pile from the last decade (2010-2019) that stick out as being relevant today, or which were impactful to me/the blog, or noteworthy for whatever reason. Maybe you've got ideas? Let me know. I want to mark 15 years somehow though.

That will happen- the 15th anniversary, that is- in May of 2020. So, I've got time to dream up something, or to ponder any ideas you might have out there.

Or maybe Sundays I'll take off. Gee....... That's a thought! 

Anyway, something different is going to happen regardless. I hope that you enjoyed the past several years of looking back on Sundays at the blogging history, and thank you for reading Guitar Ted Productions, as always!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Friday News And Views

The Solstice 100 gravel grinder will be in a new location for 2020.
Solstice 100.......Again!

Last Summer I did the Solstice 100 event out of Malcom, Nebraska. This was a fun event, which I talked a bit about recently in the "Rear View '19" post for this past Summer. I didn't finish it due to getting off course, and I wanted to get back there and get a century distance of gravel under my belt.

So, on the Winter Solstice here a few days back, I signed up again. The event is moving to a new area though, and that makes it even more exciting for me, because I like checking out new areas. This time the event will be out of Beatrice, Nebraska, a city near the Kansas/Nebraska border, Southwest of Lincoln.

When I did the Solstice last Summer it was evident that this is still a "grassroots", lower key event, although track cycling phenom Ashton Lambie showed up and took top honors going away. So, it isn't like events which are low key, less flashy affairs don't have "quality competition". That's there if you want it. I am looking to just complete a gravel century again. Hopefully that will have happened before mid- Summer 2020 as well. It sure would help if it did!

I think my brother-from-another-mother,  MG is doing the Solstice again as well. Hope so. I'm sure I'll be seeing him down there either way. That will be fun. I also probably will see him and many other friends at the other Nebraska gravel event I have already signed up for, Gravel Worlds, in August.

The new site header and will become the icon for the 2020 C.O.G. 100 schwag.
 C.O.G. 100 News: 

The registration for the next C.O.G. 100 is set to occur on January 2nd @ 8:00am. There will be a link to the Bikereg.com page on the site (C.O.G. 100) that you can mark to get ready for registration, should you be willing to commit to single speed devices.

So, I came up with this new livery for the site over the Holidays. It represents a bit of what we as the event directors are passionate about. N.Y. Roll is a veteran of the military, and I wanted to highlight the fact that we are trying to be true to gravel grinding roots by keeping things simple, low key, and fun. So, the theme using the stencil, military-like font, the Bald Eagle, and the red, white, and blue colors which we are planning on using for the hats. Oh.....yes, there will be hats again this year. We noticed throughout 2019 that our very limited edition C.O.G. 100 hats were being worn proudly by many of you at various events across the country. We were very humbled and happy to see the folks who were proud to wear our livery. So, we figured since the hats were a hit, why mess with a good thing? Besides, I have a drawer full of t-shirts, but not very many hats.

We haven't devised a shorter course option as yet, nor a way to implement that for the day of the event. We want to do this, but in order to make it work, and keep an eye on everyone, it would require two separate courses, and as of now we just don't have the manpower to accomplish this feat. That may change but we set the event up just as a 100 miler with no other option at registration. Growing an event is cool, but not at the expense of what you already are doing, and that is where we are at right now with offering a shorter course option for the time being.

It sure hasn't seemed like Winter here. Christmas Eve ride at 55°F!
 So......What Have You Been Up To Lately?

Many of you might be wondering what is going on with me and my situation now that I am no longer affiliated with the old shop I worked at. Well, there is a tentative plan in place and some exciting things are afoot. I think you all will be safe in assuming that I will be still working in the cycling industry. If I have my way, that's what will happen. The time for announcing things hasn't arrived just yet. But you know that when it does, it'll be here.

Meanwhile, I have been struggling to overcome a nasty head cold I contracted at the beginning of December. I've had to be off the bike for a while and lately have only been able to do shorter rides without putting myself back into the hurt locker with this malady.

I have done some experimenting with the Nobel GX5 bike and the new HED wheels I am reviewing. I have been out on the fat bike a couple of times too. Actually, I have been doing a bit of maintenance on the old connector trail, Marky-Mark, in the Green Belt. There are three downed trees that need a bit of chainsaw work, but other than that it is in excellent shape for a trail that is 20 years old and not much used.

For me, Marky-Mark is more than just some pathway from one leg of the Green Belt Trail to another on Ridgeway Avenue. It marks a time in my life and when I ride that trail I remember those days. I was single, alone, and working at the auto shop. I went and cut in that trail after working ten hours at that shop, busting my butt. It was very difficult to accomplish what I did back then, and to see it still around and being used 20 years later means a lot to me. Actually, its been more than 20 years, come to think of it.

Okay, well, that's the last "Friday News And Views" for 2019. See ya sometime next year for the next FN&V! Happy New Year!

Friday News And Views

The Solstice 100 gravel grinder will be in a new location for 2020.
Solstice 100.......Again!

Last Summer I did the Solstice 100 event out of Malcom, Nebraska. This was a fun event, which I talked a bit about recently in the "Rear View '19" post for this past Summer. I didn't finish it due to getting off course, and I wanted to get back there and get a century distance of gravel under my belt.

So, on the Winter Solstice here a few days back, I signed up again. The event is moving to a new area though, and that makes it even more exciting for me, because I like checking out new areas. This time the event will be out of Beatrice, Nebraska, a city near the Kansas/Nebraska border, Southwest of Lincoln.

When I did the Solstice last Summer it was evident that this is still a "grassroots", lower key event, although track cycling phenom Ashton Lambie showed up and took top honors going away. So, it isn't like events which are low key, less flashy affairs don't have "quality competition". That's there if you want it. I am looking to just complete a gravel century again. Hopefully that will have happened before mid- Summer 2020 as well. It sure would help if it did!

I think my brother-from-another-mother,  MG is doing the Solstice again as well. Hope so. I'm sure I'll be seeing him down there either way. That will be fun. I also probably will see him and many other friends at the other Nebraska gravel event I have already signed up for, Gravel Worlds, in August.

The new site header and will become the icon for the 2020 C.O.G. 100 schwag.
 C.O.G. 100 News: 

The registration for the next C.O.G. 100 is set to occur on January 2nd @ 8:00am. There will be a link to the Bikereg.com page on the site (C.O.G. 100) that you can mark to get ready for registration, should you be willing to commit to single speed devices.

So, I came up with this new livery for the site over the Holidays. It represents a bit of what we as the event directors are passionate about. N.Y. Roll is a veteran of the military, and I wanted to highlight the fact that we are trying to be true to gravel grinding roots by keeping things simple, low key, and fun. So, the theme using the stencil, military-like font, the Bald Eagle, and the red, white, and blue colors which we are planning on using for the hats. Oh.....yes, there will be hats again this year. We noticed throughout 2019 that our very limited edition C.O.G. 100 hats were being worn proudly by many of you at various events across the country. We were very humbled and happy to see the folks who were proud to wear our livery. So, we figured since the hats were a hit, why mess with a good thing? Besides, I have a drawer full of t-shirts, but not very many hats.

We haven't devised a shorter course option as yet, nor a way to implement that for the day of the event. We want to do this, but in order to make it work, and keep an eye on everyone, it would require two separate courses, and as of now we just don't have the manpower to accomplish this feat. That may change but we set the event up just as a 100 miler with no other option at registration. Growing an event is cool, but not at the expense of what you already are doing, and that is where we are at right now with offering a shorter course option for the time being.

It sure hasn't seemed like Winter here. Christmas Eve ride at 55°F!
 So......What Have You Been Up To Lately?

Many of you might be wondering what is going on with me and my situation now that I am no longer affiliated with the old shop I worked at. Well, there is a tentative plan in place and some exciting things are afoot. I think you all will be safe in assuming that I will be still working in the cycling industry. If I have my way, that's what will happen. The time for announcing things hasn't arrived just yet. But you know that when it does, it'll be here.

Meanwhile, I have been struggling to overcome a nasty head cold I contracted at the beginning of December. I've had to be off the bike for a while and lately have only been able to do shorter rides without putting myself back into the hurt locker with this malady.

I have done some experimenting with the Nobel GX5 bike and the new HED wheels I am reviewing. I have been out on the fat bike a couple of times too. Actually, I have been doing a bit of maintenance on the old connector trail, Marky-Mark, in the Green Belt. There are three downed trees that need a bit of chainsaw work, but other than that it is in excellent shape for a trail that is 20 years old and not much used.

For me, Marky-Mark is more than just some pathway from one leg of the Green Belt Trail to another on Ridgeway Avenue. It marks a time in my life and when I ride that trail I remember those days. I was single, alone, and working at the auto shop. I went and cut in that trail after working ten hours at that shop, busting my butt. It was very difficult to accomplish what I did back then, and to see it still around and being used 20 years later means a lot to me. Actually, its been more than 20 years, come to think of it.

Okay, well, that's the last "Friday News And Views" for 2019. See ya sometime next year for the next FN&V! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Winter Views: An Unusual Christmas

Nearly 60°F and Sunny on Christmas day?!! WHAT?!!
Okay, I couldn't let this slip away without documenting it on the blog, because many years from now I probably won't be able to convince people this happened. I know, well, I'm pretty sure, this has never happened in my lifetime.

Anyway.....

SIXTY degrees on Christmas! WooHoo!

That was my gift I received, and I know many of you folks out there got this gift as well. How could you pass that up? Well.....to be fair, this happened on a day when many had massive plans with friends and family that, frankly, you just do not skip out on. That I understand completely.

However; I don't have that in my life anymore. We had planned on a quiet time at home, just hanging out with the immediate family members. No big hoopla, no tree, no gifts, none of that usual Christmas stuff. I'm not against that sort of thing, but Mrs. Guitar Ted and my daughter's birthdays are within a week or so from Christmas and I never liked putting up a tree or decorating before that. Added to this is our focus on staying away from the consumerism aspects of the season for various reasons, and well, anyway...... Enough about that. Point is that I had free time to get out and take advantage of that weather. So, I did.

Now, I had been out on Christmas Eve on my fat bike as well. That was the first ride I had done in well over a week, maybe closer to two weeks, because I have been battling a head cold since the first of the month. It has finally relented on its assault of my body to the point on Christmas Eve I finally felt up to doing a short ride doing an easy pace. Then on Christmas day I felt as good, maybe stiff though, and decided I just had to hit up some gravel. How could I not do that on such a historic day? I cannot remember ever in my life it being like this on Christmas Day. A good bike ride to soak it all in was in order then.

With the lower angle of light, (the lowest, I suppose), the skies looked more ominous than they were.
Sage Road looking North. The sky changed constantly during the ride.
Mt. Hope United Methodist Church on Mount Vernon Road.
And of course, no ride North of Waterloo is complete without a visit to the Big Rock of Big Rock Road.
It was glorious outside. A little Southeasterly wind, but it was just an awesome chance to get out and ride. I saw a big Bald Eagle not long into my ride that set the tone for the rest of my time out. I tried not to ride too hard, but to just go steady and take a few breaks. I need to be careful not to over-do things after being sick. I have also lost a great deal of my fitness as well. So, that needs to be built back up again. You can lose that fitness fast! Especially when you are sick and cannot really be all that active.

But I was so happy to get out again. It is good for the soul, and I miss the country. I cannot say that I have ridden gravel right around the Winter solstice, as it is usually not all that wise to be out in the whipping winds and sub-freezing temperatures during this time of the year in the country. It isn't pleasant, and it doesn't do much for your fitness or your soul. But this was a complete opposite of that. Really, really nice out there, despite everything being brown, dead, and rather quiet on the wildlife side, despite seeing the big eagle. This was so unprecedented that I needed to document it.

So, despite having all the rest of the year pre-planned on the blog, as far as posts go, I had to slip one more post in. I hope that you don't mind. And, I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was extra special this year.

Winter Views: An Unusual Christmas

Nearly 60°F and Sunny on Christmas day?!! WHAT?!!
Okay, I couldn't let this slip away without documenting it on the blog, because many years from now I probably won't be able to convince people this happened. I know, well, I'm pretty sure, this has never happened in my lifetime.

Anyway.....

SIXTY degrees on Christmas! WooHoo!

That was my gift I received, and I know many of you folks out there got this gift as well. How could you pass that up? Well.....to be fair, this happened on a day when many had massive plans with friends and family that, frankly, you just do not skip out on. That I understand completely.

However; I don't have that in my life anymore. We had planned on a quiet time at home, just hanging out with the immediate family members. No big hoopla, no tree, no gifts, none of that usual Christmas stuff. I'm not against that sort of thing, but Mrs. Guitar Ted and my daughter's birthdays are within a week or so from Christmas and I never liked putting up a tree or decorating before that. Added to this is our focus on staying away from the consumerism aspects of the season for various reasons, and well, anyway...... Enough about that. Point is that I had free time to get out and take advantage of that weather. So, I did.

Now, I had been out on Christmas Eve on my fat bike as well. That was the first ride I had done in well over a week, maybe closer to two weeks, because I have been battling a head cold since the first of the month. It has finally relented on its assault of my body to the point on Christmas Eve I finally felt up to doing a short ride doing an easy pace. Then on Christmas day I felt as good, maybe stiff though, and decided I just had to hit up some gravel. How could I not do that on such a historic day? I cannot remember ever in my life it being like this on Christmas Day. A good bike ride to soak it all in was in order then.

With the lower angle of light, (the lowest, I suppose), the skies looked more ominous than they were.
Sage Road looking North. The sky changed constantly during the ride.
Mt. Hope United Methodist Church on Mount Vernon Road.
And of course, no ride North of Waterloo is complete without a visit to the Big Rock of Big Rock Road.
It was glorious outside. A little Southeasterly wind, but it was just an awesome chance to get out and ride. I saw a big Bald Eagle not long into my ride that set the tone for the rest of my time out. I tried not to ride too hard, but to just go steady and take a few breaks. I need to be careful not to over-do things after being sick. I have also lost a great deal of my fitness as well. So, that needs to be built back up again. You can lose that fitness fast! Especially when you are sick and cannot really be all that active.

But I was so happy to get out again. It is good for the soul, and I miss the country. I cannot say that I have ridden gravel right around the Winter solstice, as it is usually not all that wise to be out in the whipping winds and sub-freezing temperatures during this time of the year in the country. It isn't pleasant, and it doesn't do much for your fitness or your soul. But this was a complete opposite of that. Really, really nice out there, despite everything being brown, dead, and rather quiet on the wildlife side, despite seeing the big eagle. This was so unprecedented that I needed to document it.

So, despite having all the rest of the year pre-planned on the blog, as far as posts go, I had to slip one more post in. I hope that you don't mind. And, I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was extra special this year.

Rear View '19 - Fall

I got the OS Bikes Blackbuck up and running again this past Fall
 Hello Readers! Once again I am doing the annual retrospective on what went down over the year of 2019. This post will focus on Fall. Previous posts have covered the other seasons for a total of four, one each week of December on Thursdays.This is the last "Rear View" post of the series. 

Fall kicked off with a ride with N.Y. Roll which went really well. We stopped in LaPorte City at Rockets Bakery and then came back via the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

I ended up doing a couple of rides in that general direction over the Fall, seeing roads and views I hadn't seen before from a bicycle saddle. The Southeastern quarter of Black Hawk County had been a mystery to me, but no longer.

There was also a chilly early morning ride at the beginning of November with N.Y. Roll and several other folks starting out of Hudson, Iowa. We rode down to the start and I came back with N.Y. Roll for a good long one to kick off the chilly part of Fall. October was pretty much shot, since it rained nearly the entire month, and then it got super cold. We even had a bit of snow for a spell at which time I got the fat bike out for a bit of a ramble in the white stuff. That has since melted and we are just brown and chilly as the year closes out.

Of course, by now you all know that my time at Europa Cycle and Ski has come to a close since the place is going out of business. This was probably the main theme for 2019 for me, because this has been coming on for a long, long time. Unfortunately, not a lot could be said while things slid downhill for various reasons. Since that was the case, I want to apologize to local customers and those that felt left out of the loop. It was not for me to "let the cat out of the bag", as it were. That made things even harder. Keeping face and trying to work through that was a big time sap on my energy. Having a far less profitable year in terms of work satisfaction and in terms of pay added to the pile. Not knowing the future of my employment status was hard. No help at all from a rudderless management, that's for sure.

As I said the other day, I think better times, and far less stressful times, are ahead. I hope to tell a much more detailed and better story for you all in 2020, but for now, that was the year that was 2019, and I am really glad to see this one go into the past for several reasons. Definitely not one of the best years of my life, but definitely not the worst either. There were good times, certainly, but the whole employment/work situation ended the year on a down note. Well, another way to look at it is that this whole mess at the end of the year was a blessing, because I can finally move on. So, that's what I'm taking away from 2019.

Onward........

Rear View '19 - Fall

I got the OS Bikes Blackbuck up and running again this past Fall
 Hello Readers! Once again I am doing the annual retrospective on what went down over the year of 2019. This post will focus on Fall. Previous posts have covered the other seasons for a total of four, one each week of December on Thursdays.This is the last "Rear View" post of the series. 

Fall kicked off with a ride with N.Y. Roll which went really well. We stopped in LaPorte City at Rockets Bakery and then came back via the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.

I ended up doing a couple of rides in that general direction over the Fall, seeing roads and views I hadn't seen before from a bicycle saddle. The Southeastern quarter of Black Hawk County had been a mystery to me, but no longer.

There was also a chilly early morning ride at the beginning of November with N.Y. Roll and several other folks starting out of Hudson, Iowa. We rode down to the start and I came back with N.Y. Roll for a good long one to kick off the chilly part of Fall. October was pretty much shot, since it rained nearly the entire month, and then it got super cold. We even had a bit of snow for a spell at which time I got the fat bike out for a bit of a ramble in the white stuff. That has since melted and we are just brown and chilly as the year closes out.

Of course, by now you all know that my time at Europa Cycle and Ski has come to a close since the place is going out of business. This was probably the main theme for 2019 for me, because this has been coming on for a long, long time. Unfortunately, not a lot could be said while things slid downhill for various reasons. Since that was the case, I want to apologize to local customers and those that felt left out of the loop. It was not for me to "let the cat out of the bag", as it were. That made things even harder. Keeping face and trying to work through that was a big time sap on my energy. Having a far less profitable year in terms of work satisfaction and in terms of pay added to the pile. Not knowing the future of my employment status was hard. No help at all from a rudderless management, that's for sure.

As I said the other day, I think better times, and far less stressful times, are ahead. I hope to tell a much more detailed and better story for you all in 2020, but for now, that was the year that was 2019, and I am really glad to see this one go into the past for several reasons. Definitely not one of the best years of my life, but definitely not the worst either. There were good times, certainly, but the whole employment/work situation ended the year on a down note. Well, another way to look at it is that this whole mess at the end of the year was a blessing, because I can finally move on. So, that's what I'm taking away from 2019.

Onward........

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Rear View '19: In Images

The 12 best images from the blog for 2019 as chosen by me, Guitar Ted. All decisions are final! (HA!) I actually do not have one from this month as it is filled with all this other garbage from looking back on the other 11 months, so you'll get a "bonus" November image instead.

So, here we go with the 12 best images from 2019. Enjoy!

January- Winter came late, around about January 15th, so gravel travel went longer into the season than usual. 
February- There wasn't much riding done in February as all I did was shovel snow. The C.O.G. 100 was a month away!
March- While it took about two weeks to melt all the snow, we were pretty worried going into the inaugural C.O.G. 100 that it wouldn't be.



April- The Renegade Gents Race day presented me with this opportunity to ride to the start from Ankeny Iowa.

June- The Solstice 100 was a fun, but strange adventure for me.
July- The Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. Dirt, rain, and heat.
August- Peace falls on Southern Black Hawk County
September- "Grandpa Flowers" on Petrie Road's Level B section.
October- A lonely dog trots down Sage Road in Black Hawk County
November- Sunrise over Grundy County
Bonus November image- Riders coming back towards Cedar Falls, Iowa on a chilly morning. 
Thanks for checking out Guitar Ted Productions!