Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Guitar Ted Lube-Off: WPL Lube Update

The Gen I Fargo is running the WPL lube.
Note: the following is an update on the ongoing 2020 round of the Guitar Ted "Lube-Off" featuring aMTBer Smoothe Lube, Lilly Lube, and WPL Wet Lube. 

Okay, just to get everyone up to speed here, and to clarify a point I made earlier, the Fargo Gen I is running the WPL Wet lube. I had stated earlier this bike would have the Lilly Lube, but that went on the pink MCD instead,

Okay- So, with 3.5 hours of six on the WPL Wet Lube, I wanted to give you all a quick update on it and tell you about the conditions it has been run in up to this point. I generally have been using these lubes on my commutes to work which feature a lot of off-pavement, dirt, grass fields, mud, and some water puddles. This time of year has been good for testing the "wet" of wet lubes, that's for sure.

I will say that what I expected- that wet lubes would be "messy"- hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be with the Lilly Lube or this WPL. I mean, they aren't anywhere near the level of the dry lubes, but then again, can we really expect that? I don't. I don't think you should either. And it bears mentioning again that wax based aMTBer lube is definitely NOT good in our wet conditions. So I won't be talking about that facet for that lube.

The WPL, for a "wet" lube has been pretty surprising. It is really quiet. That's something I noted right away, that it made the Fargo's drive train quieter. Shifting has been perfect. I cannot say that I have heard any odd scrunching, grittiness, or what have you due to water or wet dirt in the chain, but I do know I have had some dirt and water on this chain. In fact, in the image below you can see some dirt on the side plates in a couple places.

WPL Wet Lube has been pretty surprising for a "wet" type lube. 
By the way, I should note that this particular 9 speed chain is not very shiny at all, and never was. It is one of those SRAM chains that starts out a gun metal grey, so it kind of looks oxidized, but it isn't. That's just how it looks. But that said, you cannot really see much gunk, globby, oily build-up, or dirt sticking to this chain. It's not bad, for a wet lube. Quite good, actually.

Now the question will be, will this wear off before I get to six hours? It is looking pretty dry in spots, but we'll see. I have 2.5 hours to go and this one will be done. But regardless, I am impressed with this lube and if it holds up, it will get a fair recommendation from me. I wouldn't use it in dry, dusty conditions, but for what it is meant for? I think it looks pretty good, so far.....

Stay tuned for more soon. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Weekend Tribute To The C.O.G.100

 The Black Mountain Cycles "Monster Cross", or as I call it, "Orange Crush"
Yesterday I posted about the happenings around the World in relation to the solo #cog100 ride and posted up some images sent to me and found on social media. Today I am going to tell you what I did to commemorate the "postponed weekend".

Friday I knew that Saturday was going to be a mess, in terms of the weather, so I rode the single speed set up Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross, serial # 49, which I call the Orange Crush. That was a fun commute on the new route which does have some alleys, dirt paths, and short cuts across some areas. So, a fair amount of non-paved surfaces. I try to get off pavement as much as possible. Usually that means less, or zero car traffic. The less of that the better! Plus the dirt and alleyways provide more challenges, adventure, and fun. So, I seek that out whenever possible.

The Saturday of the weekend was, as expected, rainy and not conducive to putting in any sort of decent bike ride. I ended up doing a long walk and then spent the rest of the day with my family. Sunday promised to be a bit better, but when the winds were gusting toward 50mph on Sunday morning, I decided to wait until the afternoon to see what would happen. By around 3:00pm, the winds had subsided to a "measly" 16-20mph with a few higher gusts, so I decided to do an urban ride.This was again down some alleyways around my neighborhood. I can literally spend a few hours just riding alleys in this city. The only bad thing about it is that I have to interrupt the fun every block to cross a paved street.

But I like alleyways anyway, despite the constant interruptions. Once in awhile I find some alleys that I can bomb since they are in really quiet neighborhoods. That may be not a smart thing to do, but hey! What is life without taking a chance once in a while? Besides, I am ready to accept any consequences. It is also worth noting I don't do that often, but sometimes......

Alleyway as far as I can see.
There is this one particular alley, it is kind of hidden and out of the way behind some old gentrified homes, that I have discovered that goes fairly steeply down, or up, and is rough, and curves at the bottom. That's one I can generally just blast down, or up, as the case may be, as the cross-street traffic is pretty much nil. Of course, I hit that one Sunday! Then I crossed the mid-Southtown hills and finally did the rustic alleyway down Baltimore Street which leads me right back to my home area. But I wasn't quite ready to be done just yet.

I then hit the Elmwood Cemetery just down from where I live. I made several laps around there, and it is quite hilly, although the hills are tiny. It definitely is not flat! So I got a decent amount of on-again-of-again efforts in a short amount of time back in there.

So, not much to write home about, but there was a ride or two and I made the most out of what I have been handed. Look for a proper "#cog100" outing in the very near future.


Monday, March 30, 2020

The Weekend That Was Postponed

Okay, so I want to say up front that I know there are a LOT bigger issues out there than a postponed bicycle event. I get it, but instead of droning on about the obvious I wanted to divert our collective (read: "my" ) thoughts toward something to take our minds off of things for a brief moment.

That diversion would be talking about the weather we had Saturday, and a few other things, that took place when we had the C.O.G. 100 planned to happen. N.Y. Roll told me last week it was probably for the best that it wasn't going to happen, because at that time they were saying we would have severe thunderstorms in the morning hours. Thankfully, that never happened.

What did happen was that we got a typical soaking rain with about 50°F temperatures which would have made the roads pretty much just about as nice as last year's C.O.G.100 event, just with wetness. So, yeah, take away the crazy wind, (there still was plenty of wind though), add rain, and get the same amount of "suck". Ha! Anyway, it would have been quite the slog/mud-fest and we all would have been shivering, wet, and pretty miserable. You know- typical epic Spring gravel racing. 

Oh! And later in the day we had a tornado warning here in Waterloo. May not have affected the event, but there was that too.....

So, if you've ever been in a situation like that, just close your eyes, remember it, and you'd be pretty close to what could have happened over the weekend. Or don't and be glad it never happened. Either way, a single speed would have been a perfect bike for those conditions.

Now, as for the solo #cog100  Yeah..... I postponed that, since things are on high alert in many areas and travel is discouraged in places where stay at home orders are in place. But that didn't stop some of our European brethren, and a couple of others, from riding. So, with names withheld to protect the innocent, I have some submissions to share. One of which is my favorite bike I've seen in quite awhile as far as gravel travel is concerned. I think many of you will agree...... (Guess which one!)

From Germany- Mr. 7-speed
"E", from the U.S.A.

From Britain- "sous le bois'" All City Nature Boy
JH from Germany sent me this shot.
From the U.S. 'kinggood shared this image of his Van Dessel
"TC", a local, shared this one.

Meet "Esmeralda", a converted 80's era roadie belonging to "FJK" of Germany who sent me this.
 One of the German submissions came with a long, interesting story, which I cannot replicate here, but something he said about our current situation resonated with me. It is something that reminds us that this is a world-wide phenomenon. Not just affecting you- but all of humanity. Check it out:

"The actual situation feels like taking involuntary part in an bad b-movie written by an misanthrope and directed by a paranoid. There is no escape from the permanent announcing of danger! Time for a solo ride!"

That pretty much summed up how I have been feeling. And yes- isn't it great if you are able to 'get away' on a solo ride? 

The person who submitted the story ended it on this fine note;

"Conclusion: Cycle more, consume less and shop locally. And keep an eye
on our rights that maintain our freedom!
"

So, there were folks out and about that were thinking of the C.O.G.100 and that's pretty freakin' amazing, if you ask me. I sure hope that y'all got in great rides but stayed safe and all that. Hopefully this passes soon so we can all forget about "virtual group rides" and sharing via digital means. In the meantime, I hope this brought a little relief from the heaviness of today's world.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Trans Iowa Stories: It's About The People - Part 1

John Gorilla at the impromptu finish line of T.I.v4 with a can of beer he found on the street.
"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!

Now that I have told many stories up through Trans Iowa v6, I thought it might be a good time to take a breather to look at a few of the important characters from the time around T.I.v5-v6. I'll be getting to what I think of as the pivotal time period in Trans Iowa history with Trans Iowa v7 memories. Before we get there though, I need to set the table with my stories about these people.  I will make a few comments about these folks, but please keep in mind- they are in no particular order.

John Gorilla. Yes- that is his given name. I'll never forget receiving his T.I.v4 post card and thinking, "this has got to be some kind of a goofy name, ya know? Like "Guitar Ted"!. Only it wasn't. At any rate...... That's the least of his impact upon Trans Iowa. John, while he contested the event, was a force to be reckoned with. A very strong rider, and very good at Trans Iowa. I mean, let's face it- Trans Iowa was odd and it had some strange things unlike other gravel events. John took to it like a fish takes to water. Plus, he was gracious, had excellent feedback from each event he was in, and overall is a really good human. I liked John. I was a bit dismayed by how T.I.v8 and v11 went for him, and he never contested the event in the latter years. Too bad. He never rode in the same T.I. as Greg Gleason, (with the exception of the ill-fated v11), but I bet that would have been an intense battle had they both shown up together. I'll always wonder about that...... My favorite memory of John will always be his T.I.v4 finish where he and his wife, Adele, walked up the street, found a can of unopened beer rolling in the gutter, dusted it off, cracked it open, and drank it while wrapped up in a blanket. That was fun!


(L-R) Joe Meiser, Charles Parsons, and John Gorilla after T.I.v6 in The Barn
John was originally living in Minnesota when he first came to Trans Iowa and John was good friends with Joe Meiser and another fellow by the name of Charles Parsons. John talked Charles into coming to T.I.v4, (I think that was the case!), and Charles then went on to become one of the biggest fans/supporters of Trans Iowa. Charles showed up to ten Trans Iowa events, only missing T.I.v10 after Trans Iowa v4. Amazing!

Charles was tough, tenacious, but he knew how to have fun despite tough conditions. He ended up being one of those riders I always knew would "rally the troops" out on the gravel. Charles actually ended up relishing this role, and he was one of several guys that I knew would be a kind of "On Course Shepherd" for the Rookies in the field each year. Charles also ended up talking his wife into being a volunteer, and so that helped me out even further. I'm not sure Patrice saw the allure of Trans Iowa like Charles did, but she was always a really great asset to the event.

Funny story about Charles as told to me by fellow Trans Iowan, Mike Johnson. Apparently, during Trans Iowa one year, Mike wasn't feeling very "positive" and he was dangling off the back of a group during the difficult overnight hours. Charles drifted back and basically told Mike that unless he was going to straighten up and be positive he wasn't welcome in the group, (No Negative Vibes!) but if he was going to try, Charles would do whatever it took to help him get to the finish. I think that made a huge impression on Mike. Charles is like that, and that story illustrates why I was so fortunate to have him ride Trans Iowa.

Of course, Joe Meiser was a big deal to Trans Iowa back in those days as well. Joe didn't immediately impress, but as time went on he got better and better at Trans Iowa until he won T.I.v5. Between he and Sean Mailen, both engineers at Salsa Cycles/QBP, they tested out several ideas for gravel bikes at Trans Iowa which helped shape what we know as gravel bikes to this day. But more than this, Joe was a steadying force. His demeanor and easy going nature brought a calm over the event, in my estimation. T.I.v6 being a prime example of that. Of course, he could go on a tear and basically ride you off the wheel anytime he liked, but you'd never know that to talk to him. Joe's last T.I. was v6, and he's another one I'd have liked to have seen have a go in the latter years of the event. But it was never to be.....


George Keslin, (L) and Wally Kilburg became friends of mine and vital assets to Trans Iowa.
Then there is Wally & George. Many riders of past Trans Iowas will recognize those names as photographers of the event, and the guys that helped me do recon for several editions of Trans Iowa. If you were fortunate enough to reach one of their remote checkpoints in T.I.v7 or v8, you'll also recall how nice those stops were. But how did I get hooked up with those characters? Well, it almost didn't happen.

Wally was the instigator. He emailed me during preparations for Trans Iowa v6 and asked if he could help. Now, you should know that I was very reticent to take on unknown volunteers. I had to put a lot of trust in volunteers, and Wally, well, I just had no clue who this guy from Illinois was. He suggested that he could try and ride a moto to help, maybe be a course sweeper. I was very skeptical. How good was this guy on a motorcycle? For all I knew this was some yahoo that had no clue what Iowa rural roads could be like. So, there was some back-and-forth on e-mails. Eventually we settled in on having Wally do a moto course sweep, but as T.I.v6 got closer, we agreed that the weather was looking too poorly for anyone to be out on a motorcycle. Good thing! Wally wouldn't have had a very good time of it.

So, it wasn't until T.I.v7 when Wally brought up the idea of he and his fast friend, George Keslin, being volunteers at our remote checkpoint for T.I.v7, that he actually came to the event. By this time, I figured out that both he and George were accomplished motorcyclists and that Wally had a photography hobby at that time.  Of course, the rest is history. But I need to say that Wally and George were vital to the success of Trans Iowa for several years. The photography was phenomenal, and the recon efforts were so helpful, and legendary fun. The time I spent with those two gentlemen will always be some of the very best times I ever had doing Trans Iowa. Thanks isn't enough......

Next: A Pivotal Version

Saturday, March 28, 2020

An Interesting, Low Key Summer In Store?

Not Memorial Day weekend? Not this year!
Let's see..... No Summer Olympics, The Tour looks like it may be run with no spectators, if they run it at all, and the Indy 500 postponed their traditional Memorial Day event to August.

Y'all know why, I won't drag you through that again....

Add in many gravel events and other cycling events to that list. The Prairie Burn 100, which is run the first weekend of June- cancelled for 2020, The Heywood Ride, postponed, and others are either postponed, or leaning that way.

Even the venerable Dirty Kanza said they will make it official one way or the other on May 1st. You have to wonder, with this thing still ramping up and it is almost April, it is hard to imagine we'll be getting any "all-clear" signals by the end of May, but who knows?

Whatever happens, it is going to be a very interesting, (or boring, depending upon your point of view), Summer in the gravel world. I saw a discussion on Facebook, on one gravel oriented page, with many voicing the opinion that this catastrophe is going to knock the corporate element out of the gravel scene. There was talk about how there would be a return to individual rides and non-competitive adventuring.

Well, not to be a wet rag, but as the kids say, "no duh!" See, many events are cancelled and/or postponed for the Spring and maybe most of the Summer. Getting into groups is frowned upon, and possibly deadly. So, yeah....of course that line of thinking is correct, for now. 

But when this whole thing is over, and it will be, we don't know exactly what will happen. I'm betting people will be itching to do something like the Dirty Kanza, or Prairie Burn, or The Heywood. They will be buying stuff again, fixing stuff again, and going out in droves in groups again because they will be allowed to. That will bring the situation right back to where we are today. Too many people remember how it was and will want it back that way again.

Or maybe something more radical will occur. Again- I don't know. But anyone who is thinking that this pandemic is going to "fix the gravel scene" is not thinking straight. Disrupting it? Sure. Absolutely. But once this passes, then what? I'm not so sure that things won't be very similar to how they were. At least in terms of the gravel riding community. In the meantime, it looks like we are in for a very strange, interesting Summer.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday News And Views

The contenders for the latest round in the Lube-Off.
Guitar Ted Lube-Off Update: 

So far I have ridden on all three of the bikes which are sporting the newest contenders in the latest round of the Lube-Off. It's still early in the going, (all lubes have just over an hour or so of time on them), but I see some early trends developing here.

As I have already reported, the aMTBer Smoothe Lube is not a lube for wet gravel travel. But the other two claim wet weather capabilities. So I didn't hold back and used my somewhat muddy, wet commute route as a test track. So far the results are what I expect from a lube that is made for 'wet conditions' use. That being they are 'messy', and they don't leave your chain dry-ish and 'clean' like the aMTBer lube does. But again- different horses for different courses here.

My new boss, Andy, actually had a great suggestion. Try the C3 ceramic Wet Lube from Muc-Off. So, after I get through with one of these others (six hours of ride time) I will strip off that lube and get the C3 Wet Lube into this test as well. hopefully we don't get all dried out and go to Summer-like conditions in the meantime. But in any case, look for another contender here and I will drop all the details on the C3 Ceramic Wet Lube as soon as I put that lube into the rotation.

C.O.G.100 Solo Ride Challenge:

Sheesh! As if things couldn't get any worse..... Many states have instituted "Stay At Home" orders and all non-essential travel is discouraged in those places. So, this weekend we were hoping to have folks go out for solo C.O.G. rides. But now that may seem to be a bad idea for some folks. For some of you- it may be okay. 

I cannot enforce decisions made by individuals out there, but in light of our current situations, I am going to propose we put this off as well. If you end up doing the challenge, so be it. Again- I cannot stop you. But 'unofficially-officially' I am postponing this until all-clear orders are given and restrictions are lifted everywhere.

Once that happens I'll post a date and we can do this thing right.

On another C.O.G.100 related note: N.Y.Roll has started mailing out t-shirts. You should start seeing these in your mailboxes and on doorsteps soon. I know they have all been sent so they should be in your hands within the next several days, and if not, let us know. Thanks for all your patience in this matter! 

 "Power Assisted Running": Wait- This Sounds Familiar!

Like many of you, I have a lot of extra time on my hands now days. I was cruising the innergoogles and found an interesting tech article explaining "power assisted running" The concept is in its development stages, and not of a lot of detail about how this works is being given, but the benefit claims are, well........very familiar sounding. 

The system is said to "reduce the energy costs of running" and they claim it will allow runners to run further with less effort than traditional runners. (Question: Do we call traditional running "acoustic running" now?) Benefits such as 'last mile commuting' and allowing less fit runners to run with their more fit friends are also listed here.  

I'm sure these developers have pulled a few pages from the HPC/motorized bicycle playbook. That would explain a lot of the claims here. Whether or not we see exoskeleton equipped people zipping up sidewalks in the future or not remains to be seen. One thing I think of that we do not see discussed much is how the prices of these sorts of motorized contraptions are marking a distinct line between economic classes. And to think of it another way, what if everybody were using these sorts of devices? Wouldn't we pretty much end up where we are at now, only with a lot more complications, danger, and a shift from one set of economic issues to another? Kind of like when society went from horses to automobiles? I don't know, but something about this motorized stuff strikes me as "less a benefit", and not so much as a positive to humankind.

But then again, like I say, maybe I'm thinking too much......

Stay safe out there folks! Stay home if you are advised to, and hopefully we all will stay healthy too.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Review Of An Old Friend

The ol' Fargo Gen I keeps pluggin along......
The Lube-Off is well underway now here and in the test is a lube I'm using on the old Gen I Fargo. This bike seems to have been done up in many configurations, so I decided I'd search the archives here and see if that was true, or if I was just thinking it had been so.

Well, as it turns out, the Fargo Gen I has been mostly in this current configuration since about 2014. Whoa! I would not have guessed that! I suppose I should have paid more attention to the signs.

One of those was when my Velocity Bottle Trap on the fork broke at Gravel Worlds last year. I mean, after almost six years, should I have been surprised? Then I started thinking here as I researched this post, "I wonder how long some of these other components have been on the Fargo?" As it turns out, they have been on there quite a long time! No wonder my red anodized Retroshift, (now Gevenalle) perches have faded to a nice, soft pink color!

The crank set had a "wobbly" middle ring last year and I thought I had "bent it back in" to being mostly straight, but the other day I looked and it was worse than ever. So, hmm.......maybe it isn't bent? It was loose chain ring bolts! I tightened them up and now that ring is as straight as an arrow. Again- no surprise after six years. Wow! Six years of abuses. I mean real bad stuff, because this bike has been through the wringer. I've had countless muddy encounters, days full of dust, and miles and miles of riding. Funny the drive train still functions.

Then there is that Luxy Bar. It has been pounded for six years going..... Probably high time I removed it and retired it to the wall of old parts in the Lab. We used to be strictly warned back in the '90's to switch out aluminum MTB bars every two years or sooner. I know some folks run old road aluminum bars forever, but these bars are getting on in age. And there are great choices I can use now to replace them with that I actually have sitting around here. In fact, some older Cowchippers I have that are newer and less abused may be going on to replace the old Luxy.

I just replaced the stem with a Redshift Sports Shockstop stem I've had around. So that's a good thing since that old Origin 8 stem was also getting on in years. I've got a newer Salsa Ti Regulator, so the seat post is fine for now. Wheels? They've been changed out several times. That said, the set I am running now is getting pretty old and I had better start thinking about new ones. Tires are fine, but I'll probably be switching those out soon too.

The last thing I've been holding out on is the upgrade on the drive train. This bike is still stuck in the 9 speed world. Could be worse. I may not change that. But look for a refresh on this old rig to be happening soon. Once I'm done, it'll be off for more adventures!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Who Said You Have To Look Like "That"?

Typical cyclists look for Spring
Working downtown now I get a great view up a street where a lot of local cyclists access the bike path. One thing that struck me is that while most of these folks are only out for a spin, they almost all look like they are geared up to do Trans Iowa or something.

Frankly, I have to say that I find it rather odd. But then again- I am a weirdo. 

First of all, I wear shorts when I commute anytime it gets near 40°F or above. Not cycling shorts either. Pffft! Why would I do that? I'm just riding a few miles to work, ya know? It isn't like it is a race, or some epic ride. So my shorts are Dickies. Oh! And when it gets colder? Dickies 874 cotton twill pants. Dickies 874's are the best, under-the-radar commuter pants ever. And Dickies makes a similar model in a short, but I typically go for the longer cut leg models for my shorts.

Up top I'll wear a t-shirt, and if it is colder, a long sleeved wool jersey and a windbreaker over all of that. Now that it is warmer I wear a synthetic blend hoodie that seems to keep the wind out pretty well. It is emblazoned with a local dairy's logo. I'm fine with that. The less I look like a cyclist the better, when commuting or cycling for recreation.

Plus, wearing this sort of garb is just easier. It's what I am wearing anyway. No need to switch into "cycling kit". What a hassle! Just give me my helmet and a pair of gloves, (maybe), and I am off. Now I have some new kicks in the house that make me look even less like a cyclist and they are clipless compatible. They are from the DZR Shoes company.

DZR S240 shoes and Dickies 874 cotton twill pants.
 They look like work boots crossed with a skate shoe. DZR call them the S240, which is code for "Sub 24 Overnighter". I just say they look like 'regular shoes' and I can mount a clip to them and ride any bike I have. flat pedals, clipless, and walk afterward with no issues. No one would ever guess they are "cycling shoes". (Note: These were review shoes for Riding Gravel.com. DZR sent them for teat and review at no charge)

The net effect of all this 'undercover' cycling garb is that I don't seem to get the angst and trouble from car and truck drivers that I do when I am "kitted up". Ya know? There is some strange psychology going on there with that. Anyway. It works.

And who ever said we all need to get all in a costume to ride in the first place? I never dressed special to ride a bike when I was a kid right up until I started mountain biking in my late 20's. I guess I bought in to the "ya gotta wear this and this" to ride a bicycle. Now, hey! I get it. Sometimes 'real bike clothes' are what you should be riding in. But wearing this costume for every ride thing? Not so much. News flash; You can ride in blue jeans and t-shirts. 

 I know, amazing isn't it?

But back to the get ups I'm seeing people ride in now. I suppose many are just getting out after a long winter off the bike and, well.......just trying to escape the madness for a bit. But face masks and full tights with booties when it is well above freezing? Maybe I'm acclimated from being out all Winter on a bike, or......maybe my brain is frozen. 

Like I said, I'm a weirdo. Don't mind me........

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Solo C.O.G 100 Riding Challenge


My single speed set up on the BMC "Orange Crush" #49
Well, this coming weekend was supposed to have been the C.O.G.100 race weekend. Obviously that won't be happening! So instead, when we postponed the event till next year, we came up with an idea. We shared that already, but this is just a reminder for those that still can be allowed out and about on bicycles.

We are suggesting that you go do a long, preferably single speed, gravel bike ride in lieu of doing the C.O.G. 100. If you can, and we realize that some restrictions on movements exist in certain parts of the world and at home here. But for those of you that still are allowed outside on bicycles, here are the ground rules:

  • Social Distancing must be practiced! No group riding!
  • Ride as little or as far as you want. No distance requirements. 
  • Get a shot of at least your bike on a gravel road. If you can take a safe selfie, or put your camera in auto timer mode, get in the picture!
  • Ride date: Saturday March 28th. Anytime Saturday you want is fine.
  • Tag your picture and post to social media with the hashtag #cog100. 
  • OR- Send you images to g.ted.productions@gmail.com
That's it! On Wednesday next week I will strive to post a page of whatever images we can get on the C.O.G.100 site and here. Hopefully we get some, but if it ends up being just me, so be it. This is not a contest, there are no "winners", and nothing will be given away. The hope is that by sharing our images we can maybe bring a little bit of community and fun to our situation here.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Country Views: Hints Of Spring

Hints of green are out there if you look for them.
Saturday I had waited for the temperatures to get into the upper 30's, then I donned my biking gear, and then I left for Prairie Grove Park. It was a mostly overcast day, a cool Southeast breeze was in the air, and I needed to clear my head. Too much stress with all this other stuff going on regarding the virus, social distancing, and with everything shut down.

I took the Noble GX5 which I had set up again with the latest Lube-Off contender. That and I had a Specialized C-GR post installed for research regarding my seat post shoot-out which will be forthcoming. Otherwise the point was just to get out and get away.

I noted several people out and about either walking (most of them) or running, (more than a few). At least people are getting exercise during this weird time in history. Everybody looked to be doing their part, doing their activities solo. Once I got to the parking lot of the park I took off for my usual loop of about an hour and a half length. Normally it takes that long. I wasn't sure how I would roll, and there was that wind I mentioned, which I would be headed straight into right away. Fortunately the roads were about as good as they ever get.

The frost is all out now, and the roads weathered the Winter very well. I saw one mud hole, and most of the roads were two-tracked in with super fast, smooth dirt with the gravel pushed off to the side. I did come across a couple of places where the gravel was all the way across, but it is easy to see that the County hasn't been out with the dump trucks and graders yet. I imagine that will happen soon unless this weirdness we are all experiencing affects gravel in some way.

Fast roads out there. Get 'em while ya can. The maintainers will be out soon, I think. 
Time for a snack and to just let this all soak in.
I managed to slog it out South till I got to Quarry Road and heading West was a nice respite. I then went with the wind, sort of, until I reached Aker Road and there I decided to take a few moments, eat some jerky I had, and just "be". Nothing like some head-clearing time for these days. The little creek I was sat over on the bridge was gurgling and there was a grove full of little song birds not far off that were chirping away in the background. It was nice just to forget about everything for a few minutes......

But then I decided I was getting a bit chilled and that I should move on. So, back at it and back North again. It didn't take long with the increasing wind, which I felt was switching around to the South, to get back to my truck and the ride was all over.

Like I said...... These roads don't get any better than this.
Rye grass, used as a cover crop, gives a lift of color to the mostly brown landscape here.
I'm guessing I'll be getting in several of these types of rides in for the foreseeable future. Solo swings with all the gear I need to survive out there. Not much new to me, as I almost always travel that way, but if you find yourself getting out on "social distancing rides", please consider all the self-support stuff you'll need so you don't have to burden anyone else because you were without means to extract yourself from the area you are riding in.

Here we cyclists are still welcome, but as anxiety and fear grip many parts of the rural areas of this nation, we are going to find pockets where we are not welcome. Ignorance of facts, and fear of the unknown will make people hostile toward "outsiders", and this is already happening in several areas. Most notably out West in Colorado and Utah. I happen to know of some touring cyclists who have noted the turn in attitude toward wandering adventurers.

Stay vigilant my friends.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Trans Iowa Stories: Help Unlooked For

A section of Level B reconned by David in 2009 for T.I.v6 which led to CP#3
 "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 end of Trans Iowa v6 was one of those deals where things were so stressful, crazy, then relieving and almost fun, that I cannot do it justice with words. It was singularly unique, and those few that were involved in it experienced something really special. The experience for me was so twisted and such a roller coaster of emotions that I was kind of on cruise mode by the end of it all. It was just that overwhelming for me on a personal level.

Things obviously got started off with my high expectations and then were slammed into a valley of darkness with the early morning severe weather worries. Then dealing with a pushy, surly spectator/support person added to my stress levels going into an afternoon of tense driving on roads that, frankly, were barely passable in David's Honda Element 4X4. Follow that with the stress of the fight to reroute the course so as to take out Level B Roads which would make getting to Checkpoint #3 on time impossible, and it was a recipe for emotional shutdown.

First of all, I do not mean to make light of anyone else's experiences out there. Obviously, stress levels were high for many T.I.v6 participants. Take Matt Wills, for instance, who commented on my blog afterward on one of the T.I.v6 recap posts: "soaking wet in a ditch, hiding from the lightning about 15miles from CP2." These are the kinds of things that keep event directors up at night, in case you ever wondered what putting on an event was like. I remember reading that and it was like a punch to the gut. I responded," @mw: Sorry you got caught out. We didn't see that lightning, but we were north of you at that point." To which Matt responded,"oh it's nothing to be sorry for or anything i regret. i wonder if i would have been with someone that i could have motivated myself thru the part of the course i was stuck in the lightning on.

TI is a monster and i'm ok that it's not always possible to complete for me or anyone."

That last line! Pulled me right back, but I have to say that Trans Iowa attracted some of the best, most stand up characters I've had the privilege of knowing. People like that and more are why the gravel scene grew to what it is now. The scene is standing on the backs of all these great folks. Because I'm telling you, if more of the riders were like the surly spectator I had to deal with, I would have quit doing the T.I. thing long before I did.  


I visited the never-used CP#3 location for T.I.v6 last Summer
Back to the story at hand- The post checkpoint #2 part of the event was marked by David and I being stressed out and in a huge hurry to find re-routes that worked, and then mark them with flags, before any riders showed up. This was, in the end, a fools errand, but at the time we were busting our butts trying to work as hard as we could.

That's an important point, because we had a LOT of rerouting ahead of us plus the fact that we knew that checkpoint #3 was impossible to reach due to three sections of some of the gnarliest Level B Roads in Tama County. They are hard to pass when conditions are perfect, as I found out last Summer, but given the unholy nature of the gravel roads we were driving on, we knew there was absolutely no passage on those steep rollers of pure clay morass.

To be honest, I'm not even sure we had contemplated fully what getting to CP#3 would entail, but in the end, it didn't matter. I recall when we were headed North and crossed I-80 on a gravel overpass, that shortly after that it started raining so hard that we could no longer see to drive! Now about this time it was getting pretty dark as well, as the Sun was low in the horizon and shrouded from view by the thick cloud cover. It basically was night time. I knew David was stressing hard, the vibe was so thick with it, and I turned and asked him if he really wanted to continue to drive through this madness. His answer came without hesitation. No. He was done.

So, I called the event with David's blessings right then and there. Checkpoint #2 had already closed, so there was no "catching" anyone there. We decided to backtrack the course once the squall we had been stopped by moved on. We headed back the way we came slowly and methodically. Suddenly I got a text from Joe Meiser asking what the status of the event was. He and John Gorilla were holed up at an ice cream shop/cafe' called the "EV Malt Shoppe" in North English, the next town out from CP#2. This would have been approximately 25 miles down from CP#2 on the T.I.v6 course. I found out that it took 2.5 hours for Gorilla and Meiser to cover that distance.

By the way, I didn't even get a chance to answer his text before he called me to repeat the same question. Meiser knew by the math that T.I.v6 was officially over. No one was going to make CP#3 on time. He wanted to know where the impromptu finish line might be, and his call was to get that info ASAP so he and Gorilla could guarantee a 1-2 finish, if I was going to do what I did in T.I.v4. Gorilla would have known this, since he won that truncated event.

The phone conversation was comical. We were both being extremely cagey with each other so as not to show our hand. In the end, I asked that he and Gorilla look out for the remaining six riders we knew about coming through there. We were ending the event right at that place they were holed up in. Meanwhile, the rain was pounding and David and I were carefully driving back to North English, now on pavement wherever possible since we knew that we weren't going to see any riders now.

What happened then at the EV Malt Shoppe is something I'll never forget. The goodness of people. Empathy. Caring. Love for fellow humans. These are the deals that give one hope, a reason to carry on. It's when we are at our very best. No politics, no grandstanding, just goodness. Pure goodness.



Matt Braun, (L) and David Pals with an unidentified rider cleaning up in the background at the EV Malt Shoppe in North English, Iowa. 
When we arrived, David and I, at the EV Malt Shoppe, Meiser and Gorilla got up and motioned that we probably had better set up operations at the convenience store down the street because the Malt Shoppe was closing at 8:00pm, which was minutes away. The owner of the shop, who had overheard this conversation, then came up and interrupted. He was having none of that. He and his employees were willing to stay as long as it took to get the six riders in and accounted for. Not only that, but his waitress and cook stayed on and opened the kitchen back up. Hot chocolates and french fries soon hit the tables and wet, cold riders we were pulling in off the course were warming their hands on the hot cups and gratefully gulping down the grub.

Not only that, but my CP#3 volunteers, and some T.I. support folks all swept in to the Malt Shoppe and we ended up with more than enough folks and vehicles to get all home safely. The owner of the shop even allowed the muddy riders to hose themselves and their bikes off with a garden hose out the side door of the place.


Clockwise from the left: Jay Petervary, Traci Petervary, Matt Braun, Charles Parsons, Joe Meiser (seated).
By 9:45 pm all was wrapped up. It was over. We dodged another bullet, but now we had to get back to Grinnell and to the Barn to see who would show up at our now, unneeded finish line. Ironically, it would take until Trans Iowa v9 before anyone would actually finish at The Barn, and then we only got to do that for T.I. v9 and v10 before weather and other life changes caused The Barn to fall off the radar of T.I. history.

I'll never forget seeing that barn from the hill on the west side overlooking the valley where it sat. I walked in a driving, cold, sideways rain with David to join the few hardy folks that actually showed up at The Barn to hear the tales of the day. It seemed like a big failure to me at that time, Trans Iowa v6. All this grand planning and sponsorship, and all the hoopla surrounding our first time in Grinnell. All washed away by a wicked storm. I felt really low walking up to that barn, like I didn't belong in this game.

Then we came out of the weather, the lights were bright, people hailed us, we were congratulated. Riders were cleaned up and in high spirits. We asked if we could make anything better, and all we got were compliments on how we were already doing things. One suggestion, by John Gorilla, was to make accommodation for folks who had actually finished the thing to get in again. Otherwise we heard no complaining at all.

I've said it before, but the reason I kept doing Trans Iowa was because of the people involved, and that night sealed the deal for another running of Trans Iowa again. But sometimes people let you down, it is true, and sometimes I let others down, which is very true as well. Sometimes you dodge a bullet, sometimes you get hit and wounded. All of this would come into play for the next Trans Iowa, which in my view is the most pivotal Trans Iowa event of all fourteen.

Next: It's The People

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Is The Un-Dark Component Era Returning?

Zipp now offers Service course level parts in silver ano.
Silver anodized parts used to be "normal". Back when I first got into working at bicycle shops, only mountain bikes used black on components and that was frowned upon as being "uncouth" by many roadies and even by some mountain bikers themselves. Heck, silver and black were often seen as "boring" while, you know "ultraviolet stems, cranks and every other bit.....well THAT was where it was at!

Then the 90's came to a close and silver stuff was relegated to road bikes, while black overtook the look of mountain bikes. By the mid-00's, even road bikes with silver bits were rare. It was black anodization or nothing. At least it seemed that way. There were a few islands in the darkness though.

There were companies like Velo Orange and Rivendell Bicycle Works holding down the old guard silver components parts, amongst some other smaller brands. But for the most part, no- you were getting blackened everything! No silver for you! But then things started to turn. Slowly, but surely, silver started popping up. Ritchey Design brought out a line of "Classic" bits, which I jumped on to outfit my Black Mountain Cycles "Monster Cross" rig. Later Salsa Cycles announced that the Cowbell and Cowchipper were available in silver. And now we see roadie stalwarts Zipp offering silver bits. It makes me wonder, "Are we turning a page and going back to silver anodized componentry?"

The ol' Orange Crush rig with silver anodized Ritchey stem, seatpost, and a rare silver non-series Shimano crankset. 
Of course, wheels have been available in silver for a while, mostly thanks to Velocity USA who do a polished silver look or silver ano on their rims, and they offer silver hubs as well. Some other companies are doing silver hubs, but there are not many rim choices, really. But, it's getting to the point again where a guy or gal can switch for some bright-work instead of the same ol' boring dark matter all over their bicycles.

All this mining of silver ano makes me wonder if we aren't on the cusp of a change. I hope that we are going to see silver make a big comeback. And if we are, can we have that pearly, glowing anodization they used to put on old Campy parts, Sugino cranks, and first generation XTR? Because THAT was silver ano done right!

A guy can wish........

Friday, March 20, 2020

Friday News And Views

The full announcement made Tuesday of this week.
Viruses and Gravel Don't Mix: 

As you all know by now, everything is cancelled that is fun. That or postponed. I don't care if I don't hear "cancelled" or "postponed" again for.......years! I'm getting pretty worn out by it all now, as I am sure many of you out there are as well.

However; there are always consequences. That's one thing we haven't looked at much yet. One of the MAJOR consequences of all these postponements and potential postponements is that the month of October, for whatever reason, is getting all the rescheduled dates I am seeing. Iowa Wind And Rock, is one of the major ones doing that here. But many other events nationwide that should be happening now, or in April, are looking to October now. Why October?

I'm going to take a stab and say that insurance is one reason why. Many policies for events let you slide a date, but only for so long. October may be as late as some can push their events back to. School starting and other concerns may also play a part here, and of course, weather plays a factor here as well. But I know from our C.O.G. 100 rescheduling choices that October is really an attractive choice, but my concern is that all these Spring events are going to essentially cannibalize the already scheduled Fall events. You know, there are only so many things a person can do, and since Spring is, for all intents and purposes, going to be devoid of events, and maybe even the beginning of Summer, (who knows?) everyone is looking to Fall to push their event to and hold it, despite what is already going to be happening anyway.

The big domino yet to fall is the Dirty Kanza. If- and I stress IF - they decide to reschedule, and IF they choose Fall to do that, (and all bets would be pretty sure if you place them on a cooler Fall day for that location), then that event will suck away a huge number of potential riders. Not to mention college football, high school football, school, and other fall activities like cyclo cross. Ya know, I don't see it working out real well if everybody chooses a Fall date. Might be better just to write off 2020 as a complete loss and go to 2021.

But we'll see.

Industry papers are reporting that Europe factory closures are further damping HPC sales.
HPC Production Further Hurt By Factory Closures In Europe:

The COVID-19 effects roll on as not only has Chinese production taken a hit, but now it is reported that the big electric Hybrid Powered Cycles (HPC) manufacturers are being affected in Europe by factory closures. While sales were expected to increase over last year by double-digit percentages, I would assume expectations are being tempered somewhat by the closures.

This news should also affect saddles and shoes for cycling, not to mention clothing, all of which comes from Northern Italy where the pandemic has hit pretty hard. What the results will be are yet to be seen, but I wouldn't be surprised to see disruptions in supply over the course of 2020 and perhaps into next year depending upon how long this lasts.

Seat post testing: Here the Noble Bikes GX5 is set up with the Specialized C-GR post.
Seat Post Testing: 

Seat posts have the potential for being a vibration absorbing component on many gravel bikes, especially with the extensions many gravel bikes require. All that bare seat post can be effective in making for a smoother ride if the post is designed correctly.

I am using a few posts now which promise to have a nice, vibration absorbing ride. The PRO Dyneema Carbon post was first. Now I've got the Specialized C-GR post cued up and I've ridden it a little bit. My impressions so far are that it is slicing hairs to compare these things. I have also been running a Whiskey carbon post along with the Ti Regulator Salsa post for some time. Really........I gotta say that they are all pretty similar. Maybe one is feeling nicer on one day and a different one feels better on another day. That's how blurry the lines are between all these posts.

I'll continue to explore the differences as the gravel roads get better and the weather warms some more. But I suspect I am going to find that there isn't a hill of beans of difference between all the carbon/titanium posts and they all will compare unfavorably to the suspension posts. There is just a huge difference in feel once you go to a full on mechanically suspended post.  Traditional passive flexing posts just don't match up here.

So, the bottom line will likely be that if you are seeking relief from vibrations and bumps in terms of gravel riding, then go suspended on the seat post. The best a passive flexing post can do is take the zing out of a hit or maybe damp a little bit of the frequency range. I'll come back with a final write up on this subject and I will also give you reasons why a suspension seat post may be a bad idea.

From last year's GTDRI
 Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational 2020 Cancelled:

In light of our new realities here, I am going to go ahead and cancel the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational for 2020. It is my belief that it would be irresponsible to hold such an event in light of the suggestions that the COVID-19 pandemic may not be 100% wrapped up by that time.

And even if it is, which right now would be a minor miracle, I am going to clear this event off people's radar so that they can make other plans, just in case I am wrong. My belief is we won't be out of the woods yet by late July.

My suggestion is that we all do our own adventure rides and get used to being alone, or maybe with another companion. But practicing social distancing in a group is not workable. Not in my opinion. (See yesterday's post)

My intentions are to ride the course to vet it out and then, if it works out, I will use this route I have planned for a 2021 ride. We will see how that all works out. Look for posts concerning this throughout Spring and Summer.

Andy's Bike Shop Video: Earlier this week I promised you all that I would post that link to the video we did reviewing a couple of Giant Revolt gravel bikes. If you care to see that, here is that link. WARNING: They tell me I have more of a "radio face", so be prepared! Ha!

Remember CIOCC?  They are back in the UK.
Italian Speakers Will Laugh Now:

When I first got into working on bicycles, the shop I worked at had a large selection of Italian made frames for sale. There were the "common" Bianchi frames, Colnago, DeBernadi, Gios, and more I cannot remember.

Among all the Italian marques though, the most mysterious one to me was CIOCC. No one seemed to know a whole lot about about them, and then ........how the heck do you pronounce THAT name?!!

Now there were a few people that had those bikes in the area back then and we tried pronouncing the name to the best of our Mid-Western ways. We arrived on something that sounded like "chee-ohch". Well, since no one I knew spoke Italian, how were we to know back in the 90's? It wasn't like we could look it up on the innergoogles, ya know!

So, the other day I get a press release for this brand announcing their return to the UK market. The press release tells how to pronounce the name! So, apparently it is like saying "church" without much of the "r" in that word. Try it. Once you say it, I think a green light will go off and it will make sense. How we used to say that name in the 90's never sat right with me.

Anyway, the bikes! They have a gravel bike, of course, which is steel and is quite fetching, as seen here in brown. But they also do steel classic road frames, titanium road frames (gorgeous, by the way), and carbon fiber. All of Italian manufacture, and all beautiful to look at. Too bad we won't see them over here.

I apologize for the bummer FN&V this week, but it is what it is now. Hopefully better news is on the horizon. Stay safe and stay positive!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Why Putting Off Gravel Events Now Is A Good Idea

The Gent's Race has been postponed to an as yet undetermined date
Lately I have seen a little push-back in regard to the postponing/cancellation of most of the Spring gravel events. The main reasoning being used, that I have observed anyway, is that gravel riders are pretty much "practicing social distancing", so what's the big deal?

Well, that's totally wrong thinking, and it smacks of selfishness and denial. Sorry.....not sorry. Here's why......

First off, the authorities in matters regarding this pandemic all say that we must maintain a distance of six feet or more from each other. Thinking that any gravel event start, just as one example, is going to be maintained in that sort of fashion- distancing each other at a start line- is unrealistic thinking. Not to mention packet pick-up, or registration practices, which could be side-stepped, but at great effort and expense. Probably not practical at any rate. And remember, this virus lives on surfaces for long periods of time. What event can guarantee all surfaces will be sanitized with up to hundreds of participants showing up? An event like my beloved Gent's Race, with well over 150 riders, just couldn't happen under such circumstances. So that event has been postponed.

Then you have food and drink. Let's say that you have a self-supported ethos for your event. Well, how about all those chances to pick up a virus at the local convenience store? Or share what you unwittingly have with a local Grandma or Grandpa? Okay- let's say you have fully stocked aid stations. How do you insure a safe food and drink supply? That's an extra wrinkle. Could be done, but again- not every event can do this.

How would you enforce a six foot separation rule? Image by Jon Duke.
 Then there is the unreality of trying to maintain social distancing during an event. Not gonna happen folks. Simple as that. I mean, it's a race, and you aren't going to see riders maintain distances. Plus, as we are learning, wind and the fact the the virus can live in an aerosol state for several hours means that even if you might be 20 feet from a competitor, if they sneeze or cough, you still could come in contact with the virus if the wind is "just right". Not safe - so not advisable. At least not with this particular virus.

These issues get bigger and exponentially harder to control as field sizes get bigger. Is your event 20-50 people? Well, maybe you could pull it off. Try doing this with 250 people. Much, much more difficult. Now try it with 1000 people. Yeah......impossible. This alone is reason number one why events have to reschedule or cancel due to this virus. We just cannot take chances like that.

This leads me to what the events in the near future should be considering, and what the difficulties in postponing or cancelling are for the big events. In my opinion, no one knows when we will get an "all clear" on the COVID-19 virus restrictions. I've been trying to read any expert opinions that I can find, and most say that we are in for a long haul in regard to this pandemic. Estimates now are in the six month area. SIX MONTHS! You know that is now pushing on toward October? In my opinion, it doesn't make any sense to hold any gravel event if this is the case until October at the earliest. Why? Why take the risk and maybe make it so this pandemic has to last longer? That's why.

We also do not know what medical science may do to mitigate any long term concerns. If we get some sort of vaccine, and it can be administered to all the population (unlikely in a very short period of time, but still...), then maybe we "get out of jail" before October, but you have to figure, "what are the chances of that?" 

Again- no one knows. 

And what if you are a bigger event with registration already sewn up and you have $$$$'s invested which cannot be liquidated? What if your host city has a big stake in benefits from your potential event? Well, then you have a very difficult decision to make. I do not envy you, if you are event directors of such events. But.....please do the right thing sooner than later. In my view, it would be better to not have the events, lose money, and be wrong about the danger than to forge ahead and expose folks to this virus. And by the way, this goes for group rides as well.  But yeah, I get it. Guitar Ted can say whatever the hell he wants and he doesn't have any skin in the game.

Right. But you'll have to make up your own mind and remember- It won't only be you that will have to live with your consequences. It will be your community, and the communities of the participants in your event. The bigger that event is, the more influence you have. That's a BIG responsibility. Wouldn't it make more sense to make a decision based on an overabundance of caution?

Tell me I'm wrong.......


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

A Little Job Update

Andy Tetmeyer in one of his vids for Andy's Bike Shop with me in the background.
Okay, so I thought I'd give you all a little update on my new job. I've been getting several questions about it from some of you out there, so I figured it was high time to let you all know how I have been doing.

Andy is my new boss. He's young, obviously you can see that. I worked with Andy for a while at the old shop I was at, so we've known each other for several years now. His shop is located at 100 East Second Street in Cedar Falls Iowa. Suite 105, if you want to know. Anyway, pop on in if you are in town and say hello. I'm there most weekdays now that the biking season has kicked in and as long as we aren't asked to shut down due to "you know what".

I started in a limited way at Andy's Bike Shop in February, but now I am being brought in more regularly and I am helping out with repairs, sales, and yes- videos. In fact Andy and I just recorded one for a quick review of a couple of Giant gravel bikes which I will post a link to when that goes live.

Like I said last year, I never spoke much about the old shop on the blog because I was not really valued there and anything I said on my blog wasn't supported by the old boss. Frankly, it wasn't a very smart thing for him to distance himself from me on social media and here, but whatever. That was what it was. Andy certainly does not see me as a threat and rather, he sees opportunity to build something along with me. So, the videos and whatnot for his shop will be featuring my commentary at times.

Now, I am not going to turn this into a sales blog, or anything resembling that. This is G-Ted Productions, after all. But I won't shy away from talking about what I have going on with my life in terms of work anymore, and frankly, many of you wanted to know what was up anyway. So, I'll be talking about work related things sometimes here.

So, it's going well. The "current situation" may change if sanctions on public businesses are clamped down tighter. However; Andy has a mobile repair van, and we do not anticipate having to shut down 100%. We will be able to pick up and drop off repairs at anytime, so we are optimistic that the shop can survive this time we are in one way or another. Hopefully this passes sooner than later and we get on with normal business. But yeah..... No one knows when that might be just yet.

In the meantime I will be doing repairs, saving my pennies, and keeping close to home. All the gravel events I had planned on going to have been postponed through May so far, so whatever! Expect a lot more "Country Views" posts, I guess!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Guitar Ted Lube-Off: Smoothe Lube 1.2 Update

Guitar Ted Lube Off Update: aMTBer Products Smoothe Lube 1.2: 

Note: If you missed the introduction to this round, please go HERE and catch up with things. 

Okay, so I wanted to bring you all up to speed with the Smoothe Lube because it has been a bit of a different experience so far. Remember, this is a lube developed in SoCal, and they typically shun wet weather riding there, although admittedly, they don't say that this is an "all weather lube" either. My point in testing it in a bit of wet stuff was that, to be fair, the last round I did featured a bit of wet, messy riding, and I wanted a bit of consistency there for references sake. So, on one occasion, I rode the Smoothe Lube 1.2 in some wet, sloppy conditions for all of about 10-15 minutes. (Only as long as it took me to realize that the splash guard I was using was a miserable failure. A wet bum put an end to that test!)

So, let me also back up a bit. I have a bit of "insider" knowledge here as my friend Grannygear in SoCal uses this stuff. The maker insists upon a rather, (in my opinion) tedious and unrealistic application/break in technique for this lube. Which, frankly, would have put me off this lube straight away because none of the others I have found which work well require a tenth as much detail. Too fiddly? Then it is not for me.

Well, Grannygear put me straight and fortunately the best results are not necessarily predicated upon following the creator's arduous application/break-in procedure. I started off- as I always do- with a stripped and cleaned chain. This time it was a Shimano XT chain for 11 speed. I applied the Smoothe Lube and broke it in with about an hour and a half use before the wet ride. I found that my quiet shifting GRX was now not so quiet. Grannygear confirmed that this was the case, but further usage of the bike would result in a quieter drive train. Unfortunately, the wet ride happened.

That's when I found out that it doesn't take much "wet" to completely wash off the Smoothe Lube 1.2. As I stated, I maybe rode in the sloppy stuff for 10-15 minutes max. The next day my chain sounded as if it had been infested with mice! I had no choice at the time but to borrow some lube to quiet it down, (Muc-Off Dry, by the way) and then I had to start this test from scratch.

A close look at the chain after about 20 minutes post application #2.
I cleaned the chain again, reapplied the lube, let it set for about an hour until it looked dry and felt pretty dry, then rode it for about 20 minutes. To the left here you can see the current state of the chain and lube.

That "dark matter" you see on the inside of the inner plates will dry up and flake off, just like last time, and then I should be good to go for this 6 hour run on this lube. One thing I know- I cannot run this lube in any kind of wet weather without immediate reapplication. That's already going to put a big "ding" on this lube's final verdict. I simply do not have to tip-toe around wet, mucky stuff with the DuMonde Tech or with the Muc-Off C3 Ceramic Dry Lube. Other lubes I have tried also resist wet riding better than I have seen with Smoothe Lube 1.2.

So, I cannot recommend this lube if you think you'll be hitting wet areas or riding on a day with predicted rain, unless you plan on applying a new coat right away after the chain gets wet. Maybe that sounds a bit strict, but in this test, I am being pretty particular. The "bar has been set pretty high" and to knock off the reigning champ and the nearest competitors, any lube I try has to meet these higher standards. So, perhaps Smoothe Lube works "just fine for you", like it does for Grannygear. (It's his go-to lube, by the way), but for me and my test? Not quite there. But still, I am willing to give this a fair shake in totally dry conditions, so onward.......

I hope to get the other two lubes up and running here soon. I will be using the pink Black Mountain Cycles MCD for one and the other lube will go on the old Gen I Fargo again. I have a new "control" bike to test these against. Well, not a new bike, just a different bike for the comparison to DuMonde Tech. That is still currently the best lube I know of for gravel riding here in the Mid-West.

The ol' Raleigh Tamland Two.
Current state of the chain. (See description below)
The Raleigh Tamland Two has DuMonde Tech on there and, to be honest, I have no idea how long it's been there! By the looks of things I would say that at some point during a ride I must have stopped and reapplied due to chain noise, and then kept riding. That's one thing about this lube, if you reapply on the fly it will attract a bit of build up. You can readily see that on the inner plates here and if you squint, on the cassette cogs as well. Typical "wrong application" but necessary when you totally neglect the chain and keep riding, as I must have been doing here. Anyway....

The "Touch Test" reveals that only the plates are dirty- not the rollers.
Where the chain hits the cogs it is clean. That was the result of the "Touch Test". What is that? Well, I run my index finger across the inner run of the chain for about two inches and whatever comes off I show you. As you can see here, only the plate's edges were dirty. The rollers didn't leave any residue and the chain felt slippery to the touch. It isn't noisy, and so I can keep on going here with no issues.

Again- I've no idea how long that original application has been there, but I'd bet it was 2018 sometime when I first applied it. And the Tamland was used for tire and other testing last year, so it got ridden a fair amount. In fact, it was filthy before I cleaned it up for these photos. This Riding Gravel article shows the underside of the bottom bracket before I cleaned it. So as you can see there, I am not kidding about the dirt! 

So, as we can see, DuMonde Tech can take a licking, and the long term results are astounding, really. This is the bar, as I mentioned earlier, which these contenders have to match or surpass. It won't be easy, as I've found out over the years, to beat the Champ.

So I have a LOT of riding to get to, and hopefully I can get to it, if the government doesn't take bicycling away from us here due to the current state of affairs. The Smoothe Lube will get a fresh "six hour clock" and I'll also start using the other two lubes in the test, (see the link at the top of this post if you want to learn more), and then I'll be back with some "mid-term" results sooner than later. Spring has been chilly and a bit wet so far, so I'm hoping for a bit more warmth and some Sun wouldn't hurt.