Saturday, February 29, 2020

More On Things That Irritate People Concerning Gravel Riding

More opinionating from yours truly today.
 NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Thursday I posted about some of the terminology surrounding gravel riding and I gave my opinions on those. If you missed that, or want to refer to it, here you go. This post will be concerned with a few of the ideas and other things surrounding the gravel scene which seem to bother the people I asked about gravel terminology on Twitter earlier in the week. I will list each thing, make a comment, and move on. These things are not so much related to terminology as they are to things and entities, so I couldn't include these in a list about terms.

First though, I'd like to give a reference point to an assertion I have made for years concerning the term, "gravel grinders", which seems to irritate the heck out of some folks out there.

I have always stated that riding on gravel roads was referred to as "gravel grinding" long before riding gravel was "the cool thing the kids are doing now". The term wasn't invented by those kids, marketing departments, or "influencers" of the cycling scene. In fact, our grandfathers were calling it "gravel grinding" back in the 70's. However; no matter how many times I have related that Jeff Kerkove and I got the term "gravel grinding" from our area cycling culture in the ealy 2000's, not many people would believe it.

Well, low and behold. A Twitter user pinged me with a link to a Summer of 2004 Bike Iowa post which has a reference, right at the top, to a long held "gravel grinder" in the state. That's a solid example, but this was happening all over the Mid-West. I'm not going to tell you "I told ya so", but there it is....... Now onward.

USAC: This came up several times in answer to my Twitter question. Obviously there is still a lot of animosity toward the organization and what people feel it would do to the gravel scene. If they, as has been reported here and elsewhere, are interested in becoming a part of gravel cycling in the U.S.A., they have a 'long row to hoe' there.

Gravel Riding: To give this context, I am going to quote part of the Tweet I received here: "'Gravel Riding' itself. The fact that cycling media & a whole bunch of manufacturers were anxious to jump onto this & create a stupid trend just sucks the big one imo."

This is a problematic idea. If we are riding on gravel roads, what would you call it? "Just riding" isn't going to be a realistic answer here, so let's move on from that right away. Even people who have been riding on gravel for decades call it "something", (see above), so you are going to get served up a term regardless of what you think of having "no term" for this type of cycling. 

Secondly, and also in reference to my gravel grinding description, the cycling media and manufacturers did not create "this trend". It grew organically from the grassroots up. Now, you can accuse brands and marketers of taking advantage of that to make money. But, you know.......that is their job, right? Really, you cannot complain about them for ignoring you at first, and then get self-righteous when they try to make a buck off what we like to do after they address our needs. I, for one, am quite happy we have better tires, bikes suited for long days on rough roads, and gear acclimated to "not racing" on pavement. Your mileage may vary. 

Ted King, (L green arrow) from a Pro road racing background, won the '16 DK200

The Idea Of "Pro Road" Anything Crossing Over To Gravel: Again, the Tweet that pretty much sums this up is this one: "If not UCI or World Tour, it has to be “a former pro on a mission to _______”

Apparently y'all are not impressed by the former roadies turned gravel riders like Ted King, Peter Stetina, and the like. I get it. They are just riders like the rest of us. I think what it is that is bothersome is the hype the media, and some events, give to this idea of someone turning their back on Pro road and "turning to gravel", as if by doing this they are some sort of rebel.  Yeah..... That narrative doesn't seem to fly with a lot of you. I say don't blame the rider so much as the culture surrounding Pro racing and how the cycling pundits pander to that idea. As if by being successful in that you have reached "the holy grail" of cycling. 

That the author of that Tweet tied the riders to the World Tour and the UCI is also telling of how many in gravel cycling don't like that sort of thing, never did, and it is why they want to keep any odor of that sort of cycling out of their gravel experiences. Another take on this can be seen here on Craig Groseth's blog, which I have referenced here before. "World Tour" and "UCI" are terms that engender an idea of submission to a centralized organization with a single purpose for cycling to many gravel riders. It is pretty much the opposite of "grassroots" cycling, which is how this "gravel" cycling scene came about. 
The T.I.v6 header based on the idea of "Vitamin G".

Epic: Not really a "gravel specific" term, but a term that has been misused, over-used, and rendered pretty much meaningless due to that, in terms of any sort of adventurous activity. Cycling doesn't hold an exclusive on 'epic' either. Nuff said there. I think we all understand the over-hyping nature of many marketers and promoters. 

"Roubaix" In Reference To Any Gravel Event: (See "Paris-Roubaix" for context) Many events in the Modern Era of Gravel, (which I hold to be from 2005 onward), started identifying with the single day classic road race, Paris-Roubaix, early on. Conjuring images of cyclists battling the sections of cobbles in sometimes horrible conditions, these events were mostly held in Spring, which often brings rough weather in North America. Lately though, many gravel events boasting the "Roubaix" tag have actually been hit with far worse weather than their namesake. In fact, fans of the real Paris-Roubaix event have bemoaned the absence of such tough conditions in recent iterations of this old road racing classic. 

But how many folks even know what "Roubaix" is referring to? Not a lot, I bet. And furthermore, those who do "get it" should be able to look beyond the hyperbole, and either take part or pass on to events which have names more suitable to their sensibilities. In my opinion, this is a non-starter for something to be bent about. But, maybe that gets your goat, I don't know. One thing I do know is that Barry-Roubaix is the single largest gravel event in the U.S., so it must not bother a lot of folks to be participating in an event with "Roubaix' as part of the event name. 

Again, with well over 500 events, (in my estimation) across the U.S and nationally, I bet you can find an event any time of year without "that name" in it that bothers you. Be it "Roubaix" or otherwise. Go to those events and support them, and let others who are not pestered by an event's name have their events. There is enough to go around in 2020. Or better yet- start your own event.  Freedom y'all.

Random Bits: One commenter said "ruining". That was all. I take that to mean they are worn out by all this talk about what is going to "ruin gravel". If that was what was meant, yeah...... I can see that. I'm as guilty as anyone for propagating such stories, but being who I am, I feel I am kind of obligated to say something. (Okay....shutting up now!) Another random comment was "Alternative calendar". I am not really sure I have ever seen that term bandied about for gravel events, if that is what is meant here. So, I found that comment puzzling. Lastly, we have a term I actually used for Trans Iowa v6's page header on the T.I. site and which I had heard used a bit by some in the late 2000's. That would be "Vitamin G".

I had kind of let that one slip my mind, but a commenter on Twitter said it could have been a possibility for a really annoying term for gravel that they thought was only being used by them. And that sparingly. I agree. That could have found a life of its own and really gotten out of hand. Funny that never happened. Maybe by my using it for T.I.v6's header I helped kill that! Ha! Who knows?  

In the end, none of this stuff really matters when you are out there pedaling on a sunny day, enjoying the ride alone, or with a group of like-minded individuals. I mean, when was the last time you looked over at a riding buddy in the middle of a ride and said, "Don't you just hate the UCI?

Yeah.....probably happens a lot on group rides. Or how about when you are riding on a cool Summer morning, seeing the Sun rise, and listening to the birds sing. Do you look wistfully at the unfolding grandeur and think, "That stuff about gravel grinding drives me nuts." Yeah..... That's probably fairly common, right? 

The point is, you and I need to worry less about this nonsense, stay off the innergoogles,  and just enjoy riding more. Because we are giving this way too much energy. Energy we all could be using for cycling instead. 

Thanks for reading! 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Friday News And Views

Testing the Topeak D-Flash "muck deflectors" on the Noble Bikes GX-5
Playing In The Mud:

Earlier in the week I got a chance to "muck about", in the muck actually, with a set of front and rear Topeak D-Flash mudguards. (Link to down tube mounted version)

There are a lot of bikes that do not support fenders, and a lot more people that think fenders are not cool. They look dorky, or they are issues for muddy riding, or they are not aero, so they do not want them on their bicycles. I used to be counted amongst these folk.

Then Ben Witt, now of Whiskey Cycles, but at the time, the proprietor of Milltown Cycles, convinced me that fenders were worthy of consideration. I ended up agreeing with him, and after spending a lot of time with various different solutions, I have landed on Planet Bike Cascadia ALX metal fenders. I also use those PDW Mud Shovel fenders on my fat bikes. So, I am a fender fan, (also a Fender fan, but that's another story!)

So, getting back to these Topeak sheilds.....deflectors? They aren't really "fenders". Anyway, I've found that if you are going with a deflection type device in the rear, it had better be long. The angle at which water, mud, and debris comes off a rear tire while it is spinning means that a deflector type device has to overhang the rear wheel by at least a few inches, and four is better. Otherwise you are still going to get wet, dirty, and if that's the case, what is the point? The deflector won't keep your bike or your drive train clean, so it had better keep the rider clean!

If you take a look at my image here of the Noble Bikes GX5, you can see that rear deflector is about at the same vertical plane as the right side of the rear rotor. Ain't gonna cut it, and I can tell you that it doesn't. Tried and failed. The front, down tube mounted deflector? Brilliant. Well done. Fortunately, the D-Flash products are available separately.

Note: Topeak sent over the D-Flash devices for test and review to at no charge. I was not paid, nor bribed for this review/post.

Forecast temps for this weekend in Waterloo, Iowa
 Spring Springs- Populace Loses Their Minds:

We have had a few days in a row of chilly, 30 degree highs here, but this weekend it will nearly be 60°F on each day, and you know what that means? It means cars and motorcycles will be zooming around like people have lost their minds.

Not to mention the Winter detritus along the sides of roads and in corners, which, if you are riding on the streets and roads, will catch you out if you are not careful. Just a friendly reminder that the roads are a mess and warmer temperatures bring out "The Crazy" in Iowans when they first appear after a long Winter. I expect to hear a LOT of ambulance sirens over the weekend.

Don't let one of those sirens be for you! Watch out for "Spring Fever", and if it has been cold where you live and warmer days are about to strike, be aware!

Hope components from the UK are pretty good looking. Seem well made too.
Hope UK Introduces A New Crank Set. Guess What It Is Called: 

I like Hope UK components. I've used their hubs before, and I have installed their head sets and MTB cranks in other people's bikes. The design, execution of design, and presentation of the finished products is second to none, in my opinion.

Well, guess what? They have a (did you guess the name?) GRAVEL crank set out now. (groan) Yep! I know...... A regrettable name for such a fine component, but, it looks ace, and it comes in Hope's six standard anodized colors. One of which is.......purple. 

While they say this RX crank set is optimized for single ring set ups, you can get it to work as a double. Of course, that's what I would want. I can totally imagine this in purple with a 46T/36T set up on my Black Mountain Cycles MCD. Pink and purple!

Maybe that would be too much. Hmm...... Color? No way! I'm talking about the money! these are not cheap crank sets! For that money I could go a bit more subtle and use a White industries VBC and add a touch of purple with chain rings, or something. Dreaming..... May not ever become reality, but those components are cool.

The Warakin Ti from Otso Cycles
 It Could Be A Contender:

If you've read about my quest for a replacement for the aging Raleigh Tamland, you've seen me pass over several entrants into the gravel bike scene. Now there is a new one out there, and it is related to one I already talked about. Added to that, I've already ridden this frame's geometry, and I happen to like it just fine. The bike? the new titanium version of Otso Cycles Warakin.

The change they made for this frame makes it even sweeter than that stainless steel version I rode in 2017. The frame now can handle 700 X 50mm or 650 X 2.1" tires. Pretty impressive, and it still retains a road based drive train with a maximum double chain ring size of 50T. That's plenty. I'd only want a 46T/36T set up anyway.

But as with the stainless bike, price is a big barrier here. $2800.00 for the frame and fork. Ouch! That's outside of my price limitations now. Guess I'll just have to drool and be happy with a steel frame from someone at some point. That Twin Six Standard Rando v2 is looking mighty close to being the choice. (WARNING! Scary picture on link. Click at your own risk)

Update On T-Shirt Idea: A while back now I floated an idea for a t-shirt to celebrate the 15 year anniversary of this blog. (Miss it? See HERE) Well, I got some initial interest, then things fizzled. But y'all maybe just forgot? So, I'm pimping this here one more time to gauge interest. The plan is to give it a week and then next friday I will give my verdict on whether or not this is going to happen.

Stay tuned.....

Okay, that's a wrap for this week. Thanks for reading! Get out and ride!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Gravel Grinder News: Guitar Ted Defines Gravel Riding Terms

It's a gravel road. Period.
 NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

This whole deal with riding bicycles on gravel has generated a huge trend in cycling. No doubt it is on par with the mountain bike craze of the 80's/90's and the "ten speed", so called "bike boom" of the 70's. Along with those bumps in bicycle popularity came several terms which remain in our bicycling vocabulary to this day. Today I am going to discuss, rate, and define some terms that have sprung up around this gravel cycling scene. Some well known, some maybe not so much.

First of all, I should disclose that I asked folks who follow me on Twitter about terms for gravel riding that annoyed them. Some of their feedback has informed today's post as well. 

My system will work like this: First I will list the "Term", then a rating of that term, then my definition and discussion, which may include bits of feedback I received on Twitter. Keep in mind that this is not an unabridged version, nor is it anyone else's opinion but my own when it comes to the veracity of the terms described here. This is my version of "the facts", and it may not conform to yours, or your beliefs.

With that said......onward.

"Gravel" (As A Category Within Cycling): Rating: Really Dumb. Definition and Comments: Well, anymore it is whatever marketing says is a product for riding off-pavement. I've seen shoes that ten years ago would have been readily accepted and described as "mountain bike shoes" now done up in a different color and with the "Gravel" label plastered onto the box the shoes come in. You get the picture here. Really this is an unfortunate and lazy label that grew from how the cycling industry understood cycling. Namely- from a racing perspective, and not as an "every-man's transportation, transformative" viewpoint, which is what I was advocating for back in the day. The term "gravel" is so limiting, and the cycling industry really has fouled the waters with the use of this term. But here we are. It's what we have to work with now. Still.....really dumb.

Gravel Bike (See Above Also): Rating: Unfortunate, uninspired, short-sighted. Definition and Comments: A bike that you ride on gravel, that works for what you want and are doing, is a gravel bike. That said, the industry is trying to move this category more towards what amounts to a wider tire clearanced road racing bike. This was not what I had wanted to see ten years ago. My vision was for an "any-road" bike that most people would be better served by, rather than the racing bike derived "road bikes" of the 90's-2000's. Bottom line: Many brands within the industry are bent upon ruining this category, seemingly. Ditto for many in the current entrenched cycling media.

Gravel Grinder (See Also "Grinder"): Rating: Cool if you know the history. Dumb if you don't. Definition and Comments: Completely misunderstood and misused term. Originally anyone training on road bikes on crushed rock roads in the Mid-West of the US called what they were doing "gravel grinding". This was a term coined back decades ago, long before Trans Iowa, and long before anyone ever thought riding on gravel roads was a "good thing", which, by the way, a LOT of people still think is a crazy idea. Nowadays many events call themselves "gravel grinders" because it seems like the thing to do, or because it makes their marketing sound more "mainstream gravel". All I know is that many times when the term is used out of context and without understanding where it came from it becomes annoying to many folks. (See "Gravel Race/Event/Ride" below)

This was called "gravel grindeing" for decades before the current gravel scene started. The term makes sense when applied correctly. (Image of T.I.v14 by Celeste Mathias)
 Groad (See Also "G-Road"): Rating: Really Dumb. Definition and Comments: A conjunction of the term "gravel road" I first saw used in an "Outside Online" article by Frank Bures in 2013 which was describing the burgeoning gravel scene. Whether or not Mr. Bures came up with this term, I've no idea, but I do know I was dismayed when I saw he used it. If the reaction I got from Twitter is any indication, most folks find this term extremely annoying.  

Groadie: Rating: Juvenile. Definition and Comments: A contraction of "gravel roadie" which is kind of ironic since most gravel riders would not identify as a roadie. In the end, it just comes off as some juvenile terminology for a cyclist which just sounds dumb to outsiders and exclusionary to the casual cyclist. It should be banished from our vocabulary. We're smarter than this......

Grav-Grav: Rating: Seriously? Definition and Comments: I've seen this used for what riding on gravel roads is, or for what the activity surrounding an event is, and frankly, it's really childish. I know.....I know. Some people are just being silly out there and trying to have some fun. #OkayBoomer Yeah......

Gravel Race/Event/Ride: This is a bit different, but this is a term that I wanted to cover because some folks are saying their events are "gravel" events when....well, are they really? I used to hold a standard for events wanting to get on my old Gravel Grinder News calendar. The event had to have a course with more than 50% of its mileage in gravel. It also could not have more than 10% of its course mileage in single track.

Imagine if these two simple prerequisites were in force for events today. I'm betting there would be a LOT fewer events under the "gravel" category. And frankly, I am okay with that. There are "back roads" events that should promote themselves as such, and there are fire road events that should present themselves as such. There are events with miles and miles of dirt roads that call themselves "gravel grinders" that should not call themselves that.

 See, this is what happened when we assigned the term "gravel" to mean "off-pavement cycling". It's misleading, it causes misunderstandings, and it ultimately turns many people off. I'm all for calling events on miles of crushed rock roads "gravel events", because that's what they are, and calling them that informs would-be participants that is what they can expect. Calling a ride with mostly dirt roads and pavement sections a "gravel grinder" is not informing would be participants correctly. Nor is it good to call a mostly paved ride with unpaved sectors a "gravel event".

To wrap things up: Again- these are just my thoughts and opinions, and a few comments I gathered from Twitter which seem to support my views. You may disagree. Cool!  I'm all ears and would love to hear the reasons why I am wrong, if you think I am. I also would love to know if you have other terms for the gravel scene which you've heard that you think are silly, dumb, or irritate the bejesus out of you. List those in the comments and I may do a "Part 2" on this. Stay tuned for a follow up on some other things I learned from Twitter users that are subjects that bother them related to gravel riding.That post will publish here on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Winter Views: On The Way Out

Earthy tones against a washed out background.
Well, I am back at it again. yep! Winter is on its way outta here, despite a brief set back, and more signs of Spring are being noted out there in the country. I managed to get out North of town on Monday before the latest storm brought in colder temperatures and snow for a short time for the area.

I have been itching to get out, and seeing so many folks riding gravel already has made me a bit jealous, if I am honest. So I breathed a sigh of relief when I hit that mushy, wet, gravel road North of Waterloo Monday fore noon.

That's an interesting turn of phrase, "fore noon", which I heard my rural ancestors use when I was a little dude. It always referred to the eleven o'clock hour up till high noon. Before eleven o'clock was just "morning", but that hour from eleven to twelve o'clock got that special designation. Anyway......

A little philology for you all there.....

Flocks of dark birds, (NOT crows), were noted. Maybe starlings? I couldn't get close enough to tell. 
The roads were surprisingly firm, mostly clear of gravel, and wet and muddy where the Sun was starting to draw up the frost. This state of affairs will descend into mucky-madness once the Sun really starts to cook that frost out. Usually that takes about two weeks of good, solid 40's-50's, Sun, and warmer overnight temperatures to make it happen.

I saw two separate large flocks of small-ish black birds. Starlings? I can't say other than they definitely were NOT crows. These are birds that don't Winter here. Gotta figure the migration is on now and we should start seeing Red Wing Blackbirds, Robins, and hear the snow geese overhead soon if we're lucky.

Most fields still have a covering of snow North of Waterloo.
Interesting drifts here. Off the South side of the road instead of the North on this East-West road.
My daughter goes to a small college located just South of Waterloo a few miles. There the fields are clear, and snow is only found in the ditches. North of Waterloo almost every field still has snow covering it yet. Several early snow dumps were skirting just North of the city, and as a result, they have more snow cover up that way.

The wind was out of the Northeast, so I went that direction, North, then east, then North again, to get a tailwind push home. I ended up near Dunkerton before coming back again to Waterloo. I never really encountered anything that I was thinking made the ride worse. There were, as I already said, a few wet spots though where the frost was melting out.

Barns For Jason: I found a barn I hadn't seen yet on Raymond Road where it is gravel. 
I went the wrong way to start out my turn back toward Waterloo though. I kind of figured that taking Raymond Road would end up on pavement, and sure enough, I was right. Only a mile though to hop off on Big Rock Road. Then over to visit the big rock itself. Looked like someone had been there by the looks of a footprint I saw. Kinda looked like a cycling shoe/boot. Must have been pretty gooey when it was made since it was fairly deep into the road.

Not a barn for Jason, but a better shot of it than I had gotten before.
Then after the visit and a few images for, I was off to the "Truck With No Name" and back at home again. Tired, but feeling much better for having gotten in a gravel ride again. It's been far too long!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

One Of The Stories Of The Decade?

Ten years ago we were putting on the sixth Trans Iowa already.
You may have seen this on Facebook, because I posted about this there on Sunday, but I came across an article linked by someone else for a completely different reason on a Florida gravel page. A link which led to a "Velo News" article about a "Story of the Decade" which was about gravel grinding. It apparently had appeared in the print version of the publication in December.

Okay......"So what". you may be thinking. Well, this article named me by name. Usually, whenever that happened in the past, I was notified right away by somebody. But not this time. Weird........ I guess that tells you something about magazines these days, eh? Maybe you read the article? (HERE) If you did, and didn't say anything, I apologize, but apparently no one I know, or that knows Jeff Kerkove, read this, or told either one of us about this. Maybe it isn't a big deal.......

Anyway, that aside, the article discusses how "gravel grew up", a popular muse for many in the entrenched cycling media these days. They seem to take pleasure in pointing out the biggest thing since sliced bread that everyone, (except perhaps the writers and editors), already has known about for......a very long time now. Some of us for over a decade. Most of us for at least 5-8 years. Where these yahoos have been I don't know.

I mean, people are sick of hearing about "gravel", and yet we keep seeing the genre described as the "hottest new thing in cycling" or a hayseed trend that now has been legitimized since, you know, real races and racers are doing it now. Or something....... I dunno. I just find this whole thing really silly. But as far as this article in particular is concerned, I understand it is coming from a viewpoint of covering the years 2010-2019. So, I've no quarrel with this particular post.

And  again, it amazes me.....apparently no one I know reads these articles. Or I'd have had it forwarded to me, I would have thought, by someone. And that's the oddest thing of all in my opinion. Used to be that if you had your name in print people would let you know about it pronto. And like I say, it wasn't just me, because Jeff commented that he hadn't known about it until I posted the link on Facebook. The article said we were named in a "story of the decade". Must not have been much of a story, huh?

Monday, February 24, 2020

Spring Is Springing If You Look Close

I had to bury these a week and a half ago to keep them from getting bitten.
Last year at this time we were buried under the biggest pile of snow I had seen in years. This year? Swinging the other way, at least that's what I see. We've had snow, but not much, and there isn't much of that "not much" left. Spring is springing, but you have to pay attention to see it.

The cardinals are singing, things are trying to poke their heads above the icy crust and frozen dirt, and the Sun is higher in the sky again. February is drawing to a close and CIRREM, the late month gravel classic, is set to kick off the gravel season with a bang next weekend.

It was warm enough, for sure, this past weekend, but I felt under the weather, so I stuck close to home. I had plenty to keep me busy though, including a trip into work (!!!) on a Saturday. That's the first Saturday I have worked in.......I can't remember. Over a decade for sure. Maybe 15 years? I'm not complaining at all. I just felt odd going to work on a Saturday. It didn't last long though and I was back home doing errands and setting up the Noble GX5 for "Slop Season" with these new Topeak D-Flash fenders. Fenders? Okay......spray deflectors. Yeah, that's probably a better description for them though.

Fitting these things was a bit of a trick due to the design of the Noble GX5. It doesn't have traditional stays but rather a mono-stay design. This makes for a closer clearance between the frame and the tire. Squeezing that D-Flash deflector in between the tire, a 40mm Vittoria Terreno dry that measures 43mm, and the mono-stay was tricky and left little clearance. But I got it in there!

Another sign of Spring's arrival- Mud guards. Or....deflectors?
Fenders are on three bikes, tires are set, and gear has been readied. It's going to be time to get out there soon. But of course, we aren't quite through with Winter just yet. Tuesday into Wednesday we're supposed to get a dump of snow and it is supposed to be colder the rest of the week. But the Sun will eventually win and we'll be out there on the gravel full-time real soon.

Spring won't be held back by this last gasp of Winter!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Trans Iowa Stories: New Things - Part 2

This view is completely familiar now, but in '09 it was new and exciting.
"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!"

After a Summer of planning a new route in a new area, it was Fall and time to do recon. I had been pushing for an earlier date to get this done since we had been burned a few times by waiting too long and having Winter hit. So, this recon happened in late October, but even the best laid plans can go awry. That will be explained in a bit here.

I still remember being pumped about this route. I cannot speak for David, but I found a renewed energy after we had settled in on Grinnell and this energy was amped up even further by what we saw during the recon. Maybe I got a little too excited, because all the "highs" I was experiencing over this edition of Trans Iowa ended up being translated into many ideas which I ran with. I did these things without really consulting anyone, and in fact, looking back it is a bit embarrassing. This was not at all the direction I wanted Trans Iowa to go into, and I'm pretty certain it was not what David had envisaged either.

Things like the "acronym" crazy ideas I had were pointing more towards bigger production and slicker marketing. All the while we were still limiting the field to 75 riders, so it was a bit incongruous. The basic formula was retained- a short lead out to the first checkpoint, then a second and third checkpoints would fall at intervals across the course of about 80-ish miles. Convenience stores would be near each checkpoint, but we were careful not to choose sites where the checkpoint would interfere with normal business. New was a "no-tell" policy on the whereabouts of Checkpoints 2 and 3. We even kept the volunteers in the dark so as to short-circuit any bribing or "arm-twisting" for information. This became an issue with this event, as we will see.

From the late October recon of T.I.v6
We had a TON of sponsorship for this version of Trans Iowa as well. Coming off a year where sponsorship was basic and nearly non-existent, this was a stunning turn of events. This excited me even more and I was posting sponsorship news like crazy. Oakley, Revelate bags, Banjo Brothers, and more were onboard for this deal. Gravel cycling had caught the imagination of forward looking companies and marketing departments. Salsa Cycles, of course, was also a sponsor of T.I.v6. They were in the throes of putting together the first "gravel specific race bike", and they used events like Trans Iowa to do their "in the field" testing. Revelate Bags actually sent us prizing based upon the T.I.v5 web banner which depicted the calf I saw during T.I.v4 and which Jeff Kerkove used in his design. That featured "blood splattering" on the calf. Eric, the proprietor of Revelate, was so impressed that a gravel event would use such imagery that he told us that he just had to sponsor us!

With myself heading up all the goofy marketing, hoopla, receiving prizing, and doing all the communications, it left David out of the loop. This ended up causing a bit of a ruffle leading up to the start of T.I.v6. It was another one of those things that almost derailed Trans Iowa, but was a thing narrowly averted.

David did much of "his part" of recon by bicycle. Image by David Pals
With recon cut short by another severe Winter which lasted right into March, getting the route verified got pushed back. I was rather anxious about it and was putting pressure on to get everything lined up and completed for this edition of Trans Iowa. We had so many things lined up- a pre-race meeting at the Grinnell Steakhouse, discounted meals and motel rooms, a ride for non-competitors, and the big finale planned for the barn West of Grinnell. I had a lot of well known (in gravel riding circles at the time) competitors showing up. Even Jay Petervary and his wife, Traci, were showing up on a tandem, a first for Trans Iowa. To say that I felt pressure to get this thing sewn up and ready to put on was a great understatement.

I got a LOT of crazy gifts for v6 registration. David got nothing. It was unfair.
To boot, all the craziness of registration, the gifts and all the attention was on me. I, of course, enjoyed it and figured it was small recompense for my risk taking and efforts. But in the process, David, who lived an hour and a half away, got none of the benefits and a lot of the hassles. He was tasked with cue sheet production, and as I know, that is no fun at all and a very tedious task. Added to your daily job stress and family life, well, it can be quite a load to bear.

This all came to a head about two weeks out from the event. I was pressuring David about cues, and he responded in an angry e-mail saying he was quitting Trans Iowa and that he wasn't going to do the cue sheets. It was crisis management time for me, and I had to put away my emotions for the time being to help preserve Trans Iowa.

Sure, David could have communicated his displeasure long before it came to a head. Sure, I could have been a lot more sensitive to the situation he was in regarding Trans Iowa. We both had parts to play in the troubles, but that could all be navigated later. Maybe... At the moment, in 2010 only two weeks out from Trans Iowa, all I cared about was salvaging the event, no matter what. I smoothed things over as best I could, and David calmed himself down and put away his issues for the time being, and cues got done.

But you have no idea how close it came to all unraveling right there.

Next: Thunder And Lightning: Part 1

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Iowa Gravel Expo Pop-Up Series Reviewed

Session #1 Jen Reed presents the event, "Turds of Misery"
With last Wednesday's final pop-up for the Gravel Expo, it is time to assess how it went, and to look toward the future. When N.Y. Roll and I started this deal we were amazed by the interest and demand for knowledge and for the community to gather during the 'down time" of Winter. We went from a single event on a single evening to a two session event on a single day to this pop-up series. All within three years.  The changes made the dynamic different, and I think we learned a lot along the way. But before I get to the lessons learned and what the future of the event may look like, it is time to review the just completed series.

With the change in venue and format, we did not really have a clear idea on what to expect. So, N.Y. Roll and I were pleasantly surprised to see a nice gathering of folks for the first session. We had people from the Des Moines area and our presenter, Jen Reed, from the Bettendorf, Iowa area talking about the "Turds of Misery" event. (Yes- that is the event's name) My presentation afterward then finished up our first evening. N.Y. Roll and I were pleased with how things went and we noted several folks from the local area, (and a local bike shop employee or two), that were in attendance. A good start then.

Session #2 was marked by a Winter Weather Advisory and it was snowing pretty good right at the time of the second session. This damped the attendance a bit, but we still had a nice gathering to see Dangerous Dan's presentation for the Sterile Iowan event. N.Y. Roll then presented the "How To Choose an Event and to Train For It" talk. This was all well received by those that could make it.

Dangerous Dan at session #2
By this time we were getting feedback that we should have put these pop-up series on during the weekends when people weren't having work obligations and whatnot. Yes. We get that, but here is "our reality" when it comes to venues, business support, and being able to do this.

First thing to understand is that we have zero for a budget. We also charge no attendance fees. We are not paying anyone for appearances. N.Y. Roll and I put in all the behind the scenes work for nothing. Do you understand now that we have no money? That's the first part of the puzzle to get here.

Next is that since we cannot pay for a room, we have to provide the venue owner/manager a benefit. In the previous case of the IGE, (Iowa Gravel Expo), we were bringing in a fairly decent number of people, (80+) to a restaurant which would not have gotten those patrons otherwise. Beer and food was "seeded" by N.Y. Roll's bankrolling the event with beverage and food purchases which then were offered for free to the crowd. (Yes- we lost money the first time)

For the Pop-Up Series we went to Second State Brewing, who wanted to bolster mid-week business. We brought more people than they normally would have had on Wednesday evening for four weeks during their slowest time of the year. The IGE was a benefit monetarily to Second State Brewing. Weekends are different for them. They did not need our help for the weekends. So, with that all said, do you understand why we did Wednesdays now?

Session #3 saw Dan Roberts of the Snaggy Ridge 105 presenting.
I apologize for the economic banter and bluntness, but I feel that many folks don't understand what you have to do to get a space and to make something seemingly so simple actually happen. You come to a Pop-Up Series event and just walk right in, sit down, and consume our content and maybe have a beer or two. Big deal? Yes, a very big deal. In fact, I just described above the "deal" we brokered to get the space. Would you be able to pull that off? Get it done so you could have folks on a weekend? Right......

Let N.Y. Roll or I know your plan for that when/if you care to share it. We're all ears here, but the bottom line is that this isn't easy. By the way, thanks to N.Y. Roll, Nick of Second State Brewing, and his staff there for making this happen for us. I think we pulled our end of the deal off well, and judging by the smiles at Second State I noted, I think it is safe to say they thought it worked for them as well. So, yeah......"have it on a weekend!", we hear ya. But that wasn't a possibility, and I hope people that read this understand now why.

Now with that out of the way, the third session had better weather and maybe was our best attended session of the four. This one saw a presentation from a local fat bike race and from Dan Roberts, of the Snaggy Ridge 105, a gravel race out of Tipton, Iowa. After that we had a presentation from N.Y. Roll on his ultra-distance experience in the BC Epic event last Summer in Canada. He brought in one of his bikes all set up as he might have had it for that long bike-packing event, and talked about his reasons for his choices.

Todd Young presents his event, ICGravel, which happens near Iowa city, Iowa
The 4th session was where we saw a gathering nearly as big as session #3's, which, honestly, I was super surprised by. The reason is that locally the CVAST soft trails group decided to have their event the same evening, (despite our picking that date first and publicizing it), so I expected a worse turn out than the weather affected session #2. However; that wasn't that case, and we also had out of town representation again. This time from Iowa Falls and Alden, Iowa.

The event featured this time was ICGravel and Todd Young came up to present on behalf of that event. After Todd's excellent presentation, I got to talk about what it takes to put on a gravel event, and judging by the responses, it went over quite well. With that our four session pop-up series was a wrap. So, now it is time to take stock, assess our efforts, and look toward the future a bit.

N.Y. Roll and I have already been batting around a lot of ideas. Here's the thing- again, sorry- but we do not have a pool of money to work with. We will, if we do this again, be pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps unless we get backing from an unforeseen source. So, bearing that in mind, our ideas have to be based in that reality.

I think the dynamic of the pop-up series model is a good one, and one we'd likely stick to again. A bigger, one-off event takes a LOT more logistical and financial horsepower. Plus, each presenter gets lost in the haze of the "everything going on", which is not what we intend. We want to spotlight Iowa gravel events. The pop-up idea did just that. Plus, people can pick and choose what they want to come and hear about.

N.Y. Roll and his bikepacking rig at session #3.
So, the pop-up idea works best for that, and we will likely stick to that format. With that in mind, does it make sense to move the pop-up series to different locations? Obviously, getting venues becomes much more complicated, but this is an intriguing idea and one we will be looking at.

The IGE has been, since its inception, all about Iowa gravel events. But, every time N.Y. Roll and I talk about this, the idea of bikes and associated gear comes up. Could the Iowa Gravel Expo be like the Iowa Bicycle Expo, or even be a part of that? I think so, but N.Y. Roll and I also both believe that the event presentations and the gathering of the riders is more important, and that by mixing that in with what the Iowa Bicycle Expo is about, we feel it would dilute the product. It would become just another booth on the showroom floor. So, we never get beyond the talking stages on that idea. But that doesn't mean we couldn't show some bikes and gear at a pop-up, let's say. In the end, it isn't really that high on our "to-do list".

Speaking of venues again- We have also thought about moving the IGE to a warmer time of year and doing it outdoors. If that idea were to be pursued, it may open up a lot of venue choices and other possibilities. So, we're toying around with that too.

In the end, we feel we were successful this year. The changes made were positive and still have potential. So, if we stuck to the basic formula from 2020 and went for that again in 2021, (Second State Brewing willing), I have no problem with that. But we have a long time to work on next year, if we do it again.

Thanks To The Iowa Gravel Expo Series Sponsors: Andy's Bike Shop, Riding Gravel, Second State Brewing, N.Y. Roll, and Guitar Ted Productions.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Friday News And Views

Early "Slop Season" road from 2018
Entering The Slop Season:

Well, we're just about to the end of February and that means that "Slop Season" is just around the corner. "What is that?", you might ask. Well, it is when the roads are in the process of thawing out and the frost draws up out of the ground. This makes the roads soft, wet, muddy, and therefore, sloppy. Slop Season. Get it?

This is a hard time in the cycling season for many folks. Traditionally, roadie season cycling was about the only game in town, but with deaths, injuries, and too many close calls to name, most of us aren't going out for road rides these days. Not with distracted drivers and just plain bad, lazy drivers out on the roads. I know we like to blame electronic devices for much of the mayhem that affects us cyclists, but I'm here to tell you that just plain old bad driving skills and poor decisions are killing more than we care to admit.


The point is, the trails for off road are not suitable to ride on, road cycling is too dangerous, and gravel roads are there , but you'd better be prepared for some gooey-going.  When Winter fades and Spring edges in, the gravel roads can be pretty bad. This is when I bust out the wider tires and fenders. Remember those? British folk call 'em mudguards. That's actually exactly what they are during "Slop Season" here.

I also will ride single speeds. In fact, the old "Orange Crush" BMC is set up specifically to tackle "Slop Season" this year with a single speed set up and mudguards. Derailleur drive trains can get destroyed in the slop or the rear derailleur can be completely ripped off your bike! Single speeds get around all that, plus they are easier to maintain. But yeah....I'll also still run a fully geared bike. The BMC MCD with full mudguards will be fitted with the fatter 650B tires which allow for a bit less of a "pizza cutter" effect on the softer roads.

I'm sure Winter will make a final appearance or maybe two, but Slop Season is nigh, and there is no stopping it.

A nod to the grassroots gravel events. Where gravel gets its "realness" from.
 A Good Word;

You know I've banged on about how the entire gravel scene is basically a grassroots scene, built by the populace, not by the marketing machine. But we're becoming victims of our own, homegrown success. Now the slick, fancy messages from the traditional cycling media and the former roadie Pros turned gravel grinders have been making a raucous noise about how this is "the new thing", when in fact, it most certainly is not "the new thing", and especially not because they say it is so. There's this thing called "history". They might want to look into that.

Anyway, I welcome them regardless. I welcome them to what we've been doing for about a decade and a half now. Hope they have fun. But enough about what I think. I'm not the only one seeing this. A gravel rider and friend of mine from South Dakota, Craig Groseth, has similar thoughts, only maybe his are more concisely and clearly laid out than my ramblings are. If you care to check out what he has written, click HERE.

I met Craig while grinding away in central Nebraska at Odin's Revenge. Woo! That was some kinda tough right there, and I do miss that event, and seeing Craig also. I guess they have a new event out that way which is set to take in some of that Odin's area. I just cannot get out there this year due to the new job, but it looks tasty.

Anyway, Craig is a great guy and I just wanted to point out another take on the scene. Thank you, Craig!

Specialized CG-R seat post
 Seat Post Shoot-Out:

Several years ago MG and I ran a seat post shoot-out on the old "Gravel Grinder News" site. We had that Ergon/Canyon leaf spring deal, a Niner RDO post, and I think something titanium was thrown in the mix as well. Anyway.....

Now we have the Kinekt suspension post, the new Redshift Sports ShockStop post, and the old Cane Creek Thudbuster suspension post. I'm going to pit my experiences with these posts against some fully rigid offerings like the new PRO Discover Carbon post with Dyneema, and this guy here......a Specialized CG-R. 

I've wanted to get my hands on one of these posts for years. It has been around since at least 2012, as near as I can tell, and I remember trying to get one for our old shoot-out. Unfortunately it never materialized. But here is a used one I got my hands on, and I am going to check it out. It gets great reviews, from what I can see, but there are a few things that are nits on this post as well. One being the 25mm of setback. Not everyone is going to get along with that! Some also allude to the post's shaft being where all the comfort comes from and not so much from the funky head design, but I will try to see if I can figure out what is going on with this particular post, along with the others as well.

That's all for this week! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Deep Dive; Down The Rabbit Hole Of Tire Nomenclature

In the late 19th Century, it was all about diameter.
Okay! Today you had better be prepared to get your "nerd' on, because we're taking a deep dive into why tires have the designations that they do. Some of what I am going to share is knowledge I picked up along my journey as a bicycle mechanic. But I am going to credit a few folks right up front here. Thank you to Wes Williams, Clayton Wangbichler of WTB, and the inimitable Sheldon Brown (RIP) and his website.

I'm going to breeze through a LOT of technicalities here and focus only on a few salient points, so please bear this in mind. 

Wheels. That was what it all was about back in the late 19th Century. Wheels determined how fast or slow you could go, and this was figured out based upon a formula which required the measurement of the overall diameter of said wheel. Keep in mind that "tires' were nothing more than a steel strip over wood, or maybe a wired on rubber tube later on.  Pneumatic tires came around right around the turn of the century, but this wouldn't get sorted out until the 20th Century as tires you and I might recognize today. The point is, tires added little, if anything, to overall diameter.

Along with this tire/wheel thing, we had other factors which eventually lead to the "Safety Bike". Now wheels were not driven "directly", but by means of a crankset, chain, rear cog, and the rear wheel. This complicated things for the early wheelman, as it made figuring out your wheel development, or how far your wheel traveled with one revolution, much more of a chore. However; rear wheel diameter was still important to know so one could figure this out. Pnuematic tires also complicated things because they added to the overall wheel diameter. Now throw in bigger, or smaller volume of tires. Generally speaking, wider tires are going to add more diameter to a fixed diameter of wheel/rim. This radically changed gear development, so something had to be done to tame this cacophony of innovation and confusing tire/wheel sizes. This didn't happen for several years, thanks to two World Wars, innovations in automobiles and airplanes, and the ups and downs of economies. But eventually, it happened.

We pretty much have the French to thank for our predicament today. They helped develop a system of codification for wheels. Because the bicycle wheel was a worldwide phenomenon, we ended up with a mixed bag of Imperial and Metric measures for wheels. This really makes things hard, but we will stick to the metric side of things here.

The French made some wheels standardized around the 650mm diameter, but keep in mind, that's overall diameter. They way it was supposed to work was that if you had a skinny, low volume tire, you'd need a larger diameter rim to make the tire/rim combination equal 650mm. This was designated as 650A. Medium sized tires, with larger volume, required a smaller diameter rim, and thus the 650B designation. The largest volume tires went on even smaller rims, and these were designated 650C.

650B really doesn't tell us what size tires we are looking at anymore like it used to.
Copy and paste for 700 sized wheels. They were supposed to be 700mm overall diameter and rims varied in diameter depending upon tire volume. You now know that the "c" in 700c meant- originally- that a pretty good sized tire was supposed to be on there. But none of this applies in 2020. Obviously. That "c" in 700c is pretty much meaningless. You know this because a 29"er tire and a 700 X 44mm tire can both go on the same rim, but both result in vastly different diameters.

And of course, figuring out wheel/gear development is an arcane practice which few engage in anymore anyway. We keep saying "700c" because we need to call it something and traditions die hard. But now you know a little bit of that story. Now I want to address another letter "c".

That being the "c" people sometimes drop behind the millimeter measurement of a tire's width. Example: 700 X 44c. What is that? If we are measuring in millimeters, is the "c" for centimeters? Obviously that cannot be the case, although a 44cm wide tire would be rad on snow! No, here's what the deal is, as I have come to find out. Thanks to WTB's Clayton Wangbichler for the following.

Rims weren't always how we know them today. There were hookless rims, (Schwinn was famous for these), and there were a type of hooked bead rim called "crochet style". The "c" behind the tire designation for width would often have an upper case "C" to designate that the tire was designed for the crochet style rim bead. So, "44C" would be an example of how many companies would have designated such a thing. Eventually this important designation became meaningless as all rims became more or less standardized, and the "C" became "c", because.........tradition and marketing. It doesn't tell us anything.

In fact, Clayton from WTB told me that WTB has dropped the "c" on 700 and the "c" or "mm" from the width too. (Note the image above) So, there ya go. I've always wondered what the heck the 'c" was for on the width measurement, and now I know it doesn't really mean anything. It's just a mannerism, a vestige of days gone by. Not that you or anyone else should follow suit with WTB and stop using that, but, as Clayton told me, "We've all offended", and I think what he means is that we all were just doing what we had been seeing and not really asking "why?'. I think, given the history, it maybe will bring about a clearer way for talking about tires in the future. Not that we've gotten away from some other confusing bits. Like mixing metric and Imperial measurements!

For a bit of a visual presentation on the "A", "B", "C" French thing, here is a link to a GCN video which does a great job of explaining it.

Once again, a big thanks to all of you folks for reading.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Last Pop-Up Is Tonight!

This is N.Y. Roll. He's gonna let me talk this time!
Iowa Gravel Expo Pop-Up Series #4 Tonight!

Tonight will mark the end of the 2020 Iowa Gravel Expo series we've been putting on since mid-January every other week. This is being held at Second State Brewing in Cedar Falls, Iowa at 6:30pm - 7:30pm-ish. The topic of this session will be "How To Start And Organize A Gravel Event". 

The series has been successful so far and we hope that we get a few folks tonight despite a competing event which scheduled on the same evening after we did. It's one of those things though- there's always something else going on. 

Anyway, I thought maybe it might be a good idea to do a bit of a mini-series on this blog about how I approached putting on the gravel events I have done in the past. So, that's something I'll probably tackle coming up in March. It'll be brief, nothing huge.

To my way of thinking, in general, there are really not many bullet points to putting on an event. Details can get you into the weeds, so as a person that puts on events, you always have to keep your eyes up and on the big picture. Generally this always should go back to your core ideals and goals. So, if you are all about a loose, fun, simple, and a more organic feel for an event, then chip timing and blow-up finish line arches are probably something you want to steer clear of. If, however; you are all about ultra-competitive, high-performance, traditional racing, then you have to have those amenities I mentioned. But everything you consider has to be consistent with your vision for the event. That's just one example of this sort of decision making I give you there.

And timing and finish line hoopla is not necessarily exclusive to a loose, organic feel, so don't go reading into my examples here. I'm just trying to illustrate a point. In the end, "you do you" when it comes to an event. The worst thing one can do is try to appeal to people they do not understand. (That is- unless you are willing to bring on people that do understand the groups you want to see attending, and have THEM run the event, which isn't always possible.) Do an event that appeals to you. What would you like to see? Do that.

Of course there is a LOT more to it, but I think people forget about how their visions of things probably will appeal to a lot of folks out there. You don't have to try to appeal to things you don't understand. It's your event. Of course there will be people that don't like it, that will criticize it, and even make fun of it. That's okay. They shouldn't be coming to your event and now you know who they are. That's all. That's all you should take away from that sort of thing. The ones that do come already pretty much agree with what you have going down. Worry about their experiences. 

Anyway, more to come on this, and if you are around, head over to Second State Brewing in Cedar Falls. I'd be happy to see you!  

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

WW4M: Topeak Joe Blow Sport Floor Pump

For a purchase that was meant to just "get me by" on a vacation.....
This is another "WW4M" post. That means "What Works For Me" and it may not work for you. So, take that with the following words into consideration.....

Probably about 2007, I think it was, I was on a vacation with my family to see my in-laws in El Paso Texas. That trip included my first with mountain bikes to that area. I was doing reviews for "Twenty Nine Inches", and I could ride "real" mountains down there, only 17 miles away from my relative's home. It was a perfect combination of "work and play" from my perspective.

So, besides trying to coordinate getting everyone packed up and ready for the two day drive down, I also had to get my gear together to support myself down there. I would be riding alone, so I was concerned about water, food, and even first aid should I have a mishap out there in the desert. To say I had a lot going on would be an understatement.

The trip went well, and when I had time to unpack down there, I realized I had forgotten my floor pump, an old, barely functional Blackburn one. Well, I had to have a floor pump. So, my brother in law suggested I go see Crazy cat Cyclery in El Paso. I found the shop, and told my wife I'd only be inthere a minute. I ran in, asked the clerk for a "decent floor pump", and he handed me this mustard colored Topeak job which went for about $25.00. "Perfect! I can make that work for the short time I'm here", I thought to myself. 

The rest of that trip was uneventful, I got my test riding in the mountains done, and when it came time to leave, I offered to leave the pump with my brother in law, as he was talking about maybe getting back into cycling. I thought, ya know, it was a cheap pump and I need one better than this anyway. However, my brother in law insisted I take it home, so I did.

Battered and beaten, but still pumping after all these years.
And that pump has been used, abused, and it still is kicking. I just cannot kill this thing. What is equally as amazing as this pump's long term performance is the fact that I have never had to install a single replacement part yet. No gaskets, no seals, no hoses. Nothing.

I've taken this pump on more El Paso trips, vacations, trips for races, and trips for testing gear. It's been down in the Lab pumping up tubeless tire set ups, fat bike tires, and I've used it to pump up my car and truck tires on numerous occasions.

One day I heard a weird hissing noise coming from the pump and I thought, well......this is it. This pump is finally done. However; after a short time of inspection I found the cause. A loose fitting, and once I tightened it, I was all good to go again. That's the only issue I've ever had with this pump.

Now you gotta figure that after having this pump for 13 years that the thought that this was just a purchase to get me by for a week was selling this pump short. I mean, it was 25 bucks! I've probably pumped up well over a thousand tires with this thing in that time. Maybe a couple thousand. I don't know, but I do know that for all the times I've knocked this thing around, and for a total lack of maintenance, I am pretty sure I got my money's worth. This thing has done all my tire testing work, since I use the gauge as a relative measure for my reviews, and I have done a boatload of tire reviews. So, if you ask me if this pump was worth it?.......

Yep. Pretty sure about that!

Anyway, I see no reason that this pump won't go a handful more years at the least. I do mix it up, as far as usage, with that new fangled Silca  pump I got about a year ago or so. That will help extend the life of this pump. But even so, I would expect this pump to be around a long time here. By the way, they do make replacement parts for the high wear parts on this pump, and I have the rebuild kit, because I figured I'd need it sooner or later. But that may be a long time from now!

Also a testament to the design- Topeak still makes this model floor pump. It's about $50.00 now, but ya gotta figure that if Topeak is using similar design, that $50.00 investment will last you well over ten years. That's a LOT of tire pumping. I should know.

Note: I bought the Topeak Joe Blow sport pump with my own money. I was not paid nor bribed for this review and I strive to give my honest thoughts and views throughout.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A Little Update On Bouncy Bits

I put some more time on the Redshift Sports ShockStop post.
Well, the temperatures rose to a level where I could get out for a bit and cruise around on various surfaces to test out the Redshift Sports ShockStop Seat Post. While I didn't have time to do a gravel ride, I did find a lot of potholes, dirt, mud, snow, and paved hills to work the post over, right here in town.

In fact, the varied conditions were more than what I would have found out in the country. The pot holes alone were bigger than anything out there, for sure. The packed snow? Probably non-existent out there. So, it wasn't like I was bummed. Besides, it was a bike ride, ya know?

The packed snow was especially fun. The WTB Raddler 44mm tires were really good here. The post helps in keeping traction too. Odd to think that could be the case, but other sprung seat posts have done this for me as well. The pot holes were no big deal. Generally a sharp hit to the bum, but the ShockStop post, if you set it up right, soaks it all up.

There was one question I wanted answered about this post and that was how it handles climbing in the saddle. High cadence, medium cadence, and low, grunting pushing was all tried on a longer paved climb averaging 8%-10%. I have to say, I was impressed here as well. No excessive bobbing at all. Of course, there was some movement, you are not going to get away from that. But nothing took away from my climbing. Curiously, the more forward I sat on the saddle the less bob I experienced. Again- some movement is acceptable- for me. If you cannot deal with any movement, well then a suspension seat post isn't for you.

The longer stem is perfect now. Positioning is much better. I may lower the stem a bit later into Spring. The stiffer spring choice is okay. I have to wait until I get out on some rough gravel to see about that before making a final judgment. More soon......

NOTE: Redshift Sports sent the Shock Stop Seat Post at no charge for test and review on I was not paid, nor bribed for this post and I always strive to give my honest thoughts and views throughout