Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Reader Mail: How To Clean Up A Tubeless Tire For Re-Mounting

Mess of old sealant to get off. How do you do it?
 Readers sometimes send in questions, sometimes I get a comment on a post, and these questions and comments are best answered in a blog post. I'll tag such posts as "Reader Mail". Here is the latest.....

This is the first in what should have been a long time running series here, but, ya know, sometimes I'm thick-headed when it comes to thinking about features for this blog. Anyway... Here is today's question from reader "S.C." (Note- The question was lightly edited for clarity)

 "I use Orange Seal for my tubeless bikes and spend a lot of time getting the old sealant off the bead of the tire. What do you use? I have used alcohol, Scotch Brite and rubbing my fingers back and forth, which works pretty good, but makes my fingers raw after a while. I have now 3 bikes with tubeless and I start to cringe when I think of replacing the sealant and cleaning the tires."

Cleaning up a tubeless tire after it has been used a while is smart maintenance. First of all, if you just keep jamming sealant into a tire when your sealant dries out, your tire is going to end up looking kind of like this one here to the left. That is not a good look! Plus it makes your set up heavier and less capable of sealing a puncture. 

So, the best call is to look at your tubeless tires at least once every six to twelve months by at least pulling a bead and cleaning things up- if necessary. Not every sealant dries up similar to another. For instance, Stan's often dries up into these clumps a lot of people refer to as "Stanimals". They are wet, slimy, and often a wet, slimy residue is left inside a Stan's sealed set up. In that case, a good cleaning with a rag and isopropyl alcohol is all you'll need to do there. Oh....and discard the Stanimal! 

An example where I probably wouldn't worry about cleaning off the old sealant.
Other sealants dry into thin, crusty skins. These are the least bothersome, and typically I don't even worry about the cleaning of those types of sealant, as long as the bead area is smooth. But you can sometimes get that sealant off with a brush and Monster Energy drink, in the the original flavor. (Yes, really. I've done it.) <===You probably can do the same thing, with less drama, using warm soapy water, by the way.

Then there are the sealants where you get a 'skin'. Kind of like peeling off a stretchy sticker, or a Sunburned patch of skin. I usually just do the peeling thing. It can be soooo satisfying! I don't know why that is. Anyway.... The bead area can be the hardest part of cleaning off a sealant like that, and our Reader Mail question today refers to just such a sealant. 

Orange Seal, when it dries out, does leave a 'skin' and you can peel it off. But as our question today reveals, getting this off from the bead to leave a clean area to seal against your rim is hard. This is important to achieve though, because leaving old sealant on a bead area invites a place for sealant to leak, or make your set up more difficult than it needs to be. A thin layer of dried sealant on the casing is really no big deal. I wouldn't even worry about that. But the bead area is a critical area to clean. So, just how do I get a bead area cleaned up? 

I decided to use this gross old sealant clogged tire as an example for today's post.

For my example today I used an old Terrene Honali tire I tested for RidingGravel.com a few years back. (Standard Disclaimer) This tire was run with my 'home made sealant' which dries up a lot like Orange Seal does. I used a ton of sealant in this tire over a fairly long period of time without cleaning it up. You can see the disgusting results! My task to answer today's question was to see how long it would take to clean up this tire to a state where I would feel comfortable using it on a new tubeless set up again. 

The main bit I had peeled out in five to ten minutes. The beads took a little longer, but I found a tool which sped up the process, and I think this will be something a lot of you can do at home which will help you get a tire cleaned up in a jiffy. 

This plumber's wire brush soldering tool worked a trick.

I had a wire brush which plumbers use for soldering, but you probably could use any wire bush made with finer gauge wire. Gently, and I mean gently, scrub the beads of the tire where sealant has built up until it balls up or an edge peels back. Then grab that and peel away as much as you can. Repeat as necessary. It is very important that you don't scrub so hard you cut into the rubber! You won't need to use much pressure as the wire will pull up the sealant easily. 

You don't need to have it 100% clean. This is good to go on to another rim now.

 I wouldn't use a motorized drill type set up either. Just go by hand and be gentle! My results were very satisfactory and the entire tire took about 15 minutes from start to finish to clean up to a point that I felt comfortable with remounting it. And you can see how mucked up it was to start out with! That went 360°, by the way. It wasn't just on one side of the tire. 

Obviously the best practice is to not let sealant dry out 100% and then it cleans up initially with a rag, then some soapy water, and a follow up with a dry rag. But sometimes you don't catch it that way and it ends up all dried up. Then you can use these tips to get that tire ready for remounting and a new dose of sealant. And by the way, while you are in there, replace your tape, valve core, or the entire valve. It isn't worth trying to reuse these things if they look even the tiniest bit 'iffy'. I replace tape before remounting any tires and I replace valve cores every six months religiously. Cheap insurance!

I hope this helps! If you have further tips, leave them in the comments. Also, I take questions for future Reader mail posts at g.ted.productions@gmail.com. 

Thanks!

Monday, October 18, 2021

Visitations

Fall color seen on my walk Sunday.
 This wasn't to be a typical weekend here for me. Andy had taken vacation and I had to tend to the shop all week long. That meant I had to work another Saturday. The week itself went better than expected. I was busier than I had anticipated I would be, which is good for business, obviously, but better for me. I really do not like standing around 'baby-sitting' a shop with nothing to work on. That drives me bonkers. 

So, having a mostly busy week was good, that is, until Friday. That was brutal! I had very few people walk in the door and a LOT of dead time to fill. I had caught up on repairs and had little else to do but clean and organize. 

So, Saturday I feared for the worst. I had worked a Saturday recently and it was pretty much like the Friday I just described. I was thinking I was going to possibly lose my mind, but a couple of surprise visitations happened which saved the day. I guess mentioning here that I would be in the shop Saturday was a good thing, because both folks who came in to see me said it was because I had mentioned I would be working that they made the effort to see me. 

So, the first individual that surprised me with a visit was someone who I hadn't seen in well over a decade. I think the last time I saw this person was at a Frostbike in 2008. So, yeah.... A LONG time had passed since I had seen this guy. I used to make mention of him a lot when this blog first began, and since that was over 15 years ago, most of you folks probably don't know or remember that.

His name is Clay. I've known him since I first was in the bicycle business back in the 90's. I used to refer to him by his nick-name here, which was Dirtram, which was a play on his surname name. Anyway, he worked at the shop where I last worked, and I think our time there overlapped maybe a few months or so, but it wasn't very long before Clay moved on and out of my reckoning. The last time I think I saw him was about five years after I saw him previously, so when he came in and visited me Saturday it was a big surprise and we had a lot of catching up to do. 

Rick Chalfant, third from left here, was the other visitor Saturday.

After a few customers came in, Clay excused himself, and then it was awhile before another surprise visitor stopped by. It was Rick, who had been up last for a GTDRI in 2016. 

He read on the blog that I would be there, and since he was up for a family function, he made some time to swing by and chat for a bit. It was great to catch up with Rick and talk about our families and riding. 

Then some more time went by and I was about an hour out from shutting the door when my wife and son dropped by and so that made the end of my day a lot nicer than I thought it was going to be. The only bummer was that I didn't get to ride my bicycle home from work. 

So, yeah......no ride out in the country. No ride in the woods, like I traditionally try to do at 'peak Fall color time', and there was another reason for that. My family has been battling head colds, with the exception of myself- so far- and so I stuck around the house to lend a hand where I could with chores and taking care of people. 

I likely missed peak Fall colors, but sometimes more important things come along, like seeing old friends and acquaintances and being there for your family when they need you to be. It ain't always all about bicycles.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: A Look At Sponsors For The Last Trans Iowas

A small craft bag maker by the name of Knickerbakken made these for v13.

"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 clicking on the "Trans Iowa Stories" link under the blog header. Thanks and enjoy! 

As Trans Iowa went on, not only were certain people enamored of the event enough to come and ride in it, certain people were attracted to it enough that they found ways to be a part of the event through other means than by direct participation in it. One of those was a man who crafted custom made cycling 'wallets' for tools and tubes. 

His company was called "Knickerbakken", and he just wanted to do some work with the T.I.v13 logo. I allowed that and he sent out about six wallets which I ended up passing on to some special volunteers of the event. I still have mine and when I look at it I am struck by the amount of work and detail that went into making this. I am truly still astounded that anyone would have done this for Trans Iowa. 

Then there were the items that my partner in RidingGravel.com made for Trans Iowa. Ben made me a flask for v13, but for v14 he went all-out and we had bottle openers made for everyone in the event out of stainless steel. I also got a few flasks made and some coffee mugs which I handed out to my dearest volunteers.

Flasks and the bottle opener that Ben Welnak made for T.I. v13 and v14

Of course, we had more 'traditional' sponsors as well. The interesting thing about sponsors, for this era of Trans Iowa or earlier, was that I almost never asked for sponsors. I admit- I am really bad at that. Not that I never asked, because in a few instances I did. No, what was unique about Trans Iowa was that, as far as I know, it was an event that businesses and people wanted to do things for. The smaller, more 'under-the-radar' sponsors really exemplify this, I think. That's why I am spending time writing about this now. 

Some of the more traditional sponsors were WTB and Velocity U.S.A. Both were multi-year sponsors which came on board in the last several years of the event. Velocity liked to do this thing where they gave away a wheel set but only to the last person to make Checkpoint #2 on time and then finished, so basically the last placed person. I always thought that was cool. 

WTB was even more egalitarian with prizing. They would give away a set of tires to every finisher! This wasn't always easy to forecast, obviously! We had no finishers, then 40+, then 6 the following year. It was a good idea that was a bit hard to implement, but they were always up for it. 

The Trans Iowa v13 t-shirt, inspired by a post card sent in by a T.I.v3 rider, and funded by Lederman Bail Bonds.

We would often get collaborative efforts that would result in cool items for the riders. The T.I.v13 t-shirt being one of those. It was, in fact, the last t-shirt done for the riders. Lederman Bail Bonds always was very generous with sponsorship monies and I allocated a big portion of that to getting these made. It was all based upon a design from a post card entry for Trans Iowa v3 sent in by Gary Cale. I ran the idea by him and he allowed us to modify the idea to fit the v13 theme seen above. Ironically, the t-shirt fit the event like a hand in glove. 

N.Y. Roll also did another volunteer's t-shirt for v13.

N.Y. Roll had done a t-shirt for the volunteers of v12 and he stepped up again for the volunteers of v13 with another design. This time he used the v13 logo and put it on an ash gray t-shirt. He did both the v12 and v13 designs without any prompting, or even with my knowledge, beforehand. Again, showing what lengths people would go to in order to show their respect and love for Trans Iowa. It was simply amazing and I know of no other event which allowed, or even asked for, such participation in an event in these unique, creative ways. 

I should also mention sponsors like Pedal of Littleton, Salsa Cycles, and Bar Yak, all sponsors in one form or another which would come alongside Trans Iowa and offer goods and merchandise for the prizing table year after year. There certainly were others, and of course, the anonymous donors of cash and pre-paid gift cards who would slip me their support at the Meat-Up, or in a letter ahead of a Trans Iowa, just to make sure that this event was well funded and backed. 

All of these things were out of respect and love for Trans Iowa. I am, now and always will be, forever in these people's and company's debt for what they have done for this event during the years it was run. It wasn't so much the things, or the money, it was what the motivations were that I find really special. A 'thank you' is all I have to give, but it just never seems like enough.

Next: Back to the route finding for v13

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Thoughts On Boxes And Bikes

Trek filed a patent on this bike box design recently.
 "NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned....." 

Friday I pointed out this article in which the author writes that he thinks there may be a coming "D2C" (Direct To Consumer) model for Trek Bikes in North America. Based upon the patent filing alone, one might be led to such conclusions. However; there may be more going on here than meets the eye. 

Many commenters on the "WhellBased.com" article mentioned that it might be odd for a D2C strategy from Trek when they have been purchasing retail outlets like crazy of late. And that seems to be at odds with this D2C thinking. 

However; there is another way to look at this. Yes, there is no doubt that Trek has bought into several retail chains and outlets over the past five years or so. They are not about to abandon retail, but that doesn't mean that they are going to continue into the future as a traditional bicycle retailer either. So, how does a consumer driven delivery system, as exemplified by the box patent, jive with a retail setting? 

Fulfillment of orders, that's how. Here is how I see this working. In the future Trek, (and probably Specialized, Cannondale, etc)  will have retail "showroom" centers where you can walk in and see samples of everything- and I mean every single bike - that they make. The thing is, they may only have a single example of, let's say a more niche bike, or their Project One line, or of a 'halo bike' they offer. But in the 'bread-and-butter' categories, you'd have one on the showroom and a full size run in the back.

Bikes with high-end spec, or that are specialty bikes, would be sized professionally and ordered. These bikes would likely be delivered at the showroom, but not necessarily. However; the more pedestrian level offerings would be sized and test ridden at the showroom with any sale made being a "D2C" delivery. (In store bikes would be samples only) The consumer would still have 'touch-and-feel' opportunity and service would be commensurate with the price of the bike. Basic offerings would be delivered to the consumer direct while high-end bikes would get the red carpet treatment with professional fitting and all of that. 

Showrooms would be stocked with all the Bontrager goodies and accessories from select brands. But as far as the basic line, most of those sales would be D2C and the customer may never see the showroom at all. Outside of areas with Trek Showrooms, the D2C model would work and service would be done by "Trek Approved" local bike shop service providers. (Who theoretically could be service providers for other brands as well) These shops would not be Trek dealers, but merely approved by Trek to do maintenance and warranty service where Trek Showroom outlets were not local to the consumer. 

Obviously, this is all conjecture, but with regard to this bike box and Trek's owning retail spaces, it would make sense. 

Now, I see all the big four brands and some second tier brands doing D2C in the next five years, or they will be pushed out of the marketplace. Retail spaces for bike shops will be owned by brands, and the independent shops won't necessarily be bike purveyors as much as they would be service centers and "Authorized Fulfillment Centers" for certain brands. Think of it like this- Some shops are already building and servicing certain e-bike brands, but are not necessarily dealers. It isn't 'just repair as usual', because it's deeper than that. I've already experienced this at Andy's Bike Shop.  

How This Will Affect Micro-Brand Bikes: There will always be those brands that are so small that they don't really trip the radar of the mid to big brands. However; with more pressure on all aspects of the retail supply chain, and with demand being what it is yet, we may see factories exert demands which may push several smaller 'micro-brands' out of the retail picture. I would describe a 'micro-brand' as one that has limited supply of bikes/frame sets, or that makes its living outside of the typical bicycle retail channels. 

I know of at least one instance of a brand being pushed to the brink of shutting down due to their factory upping the minimum order on each size, and I have to think that this is not a one time example. Many of these smaller companies cannot carry inventory in a warehouse, or a warehouse bigger than they already use, or they may not even have the monetary horsepower to pull the lever on a bigger minimum order. 

So, in these times, we may see a shrinking of 'fringe brands' and a narrowing of offerings from those that can survive. It will be a different landscape going forward for smaller companies, that's for sure.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Friday News And Views

Gravel Worlds seeks to have at least 1000 women in '22
Gravel Worlds Launches Women's Initiative:

In an effort to balance out the participation of women in Gravel Worlds with the men, Gravel Worlds is offering a 1000 spots across its various distances exclusively for women ahead of the opening of regular registration next month. 

An incentive for doing this is that Gravel Worlds will be donating a certain amount per registrant and they have a matching grant lined up to double the impact. From the press release:

"Gravel Worlds will be donating $5 per rider to the Nebraska Interscholastic Cycling League (Nebraska NICA Chapter) to their GRiT (Girls Riding Together) campaign for the first 1000 woman who sign up for the 300-mile, 150-mile, 75-mile, or 50k cycling distances. In addition, Gravel Worlds sponsor, HMH Logistics will be matching this donation for a potential total of $10,000 donated to GRiT."

Gravel Worlds also announced a gender nuetral category for their main event as well. More details can be seen at Gravel Worlds website. 

Gravel Routes Approved By Women:

I saw on social media where there is a site exclusively for women that curates routes on gravel. This is kind of Colorado/inter-mountain West-centric, but there are some rides from all across the US. 

Interest in routes has always been high and this probably will be a popular resource for those out West. However; I could see where someone might try a nationwide data base of gravel routes with information and ratings like this site has. 

It is interesting and I've been asked to drop routes I've come up with in the past, but there are a few issues with regard to providing 'curated routes' which you may not have thought of. For instance, let's say you draw up a route and give information on it with points of interest and places where you can resupply, or places you'll pass through to see and get things at. Well, let's say a bridge goes out, or a place closes that was the linchpin for resupply. Now let's say someone gets bitten by that who had planned a big vacation around 'your route' and deems their money spent and time taken off a waste due to 'your incompetent information'. You can say "Hey! I am only telling you this could be a good route to ride", but you'd be wasting your time and now you've got a ticked off person emailing you their negativity. 

You can disclaim things till the cows come home, but that won't change the hassle and the energy drain of dealing with ignorant people. I'm not saying that these women shouldn't do what they are doing, but I am saying why I won't ever do that. I know others provide routes, and you might think it is "no big deal", but after putting a gravel calendar out, (which I quit doing for reasons like I have pointed out), I know what can happen. 

PON Holdings Purchases Dorel Sports: 

A big merger in the bicycle industry happened this week when it was announced that Pon Holdings bought Dorel Sports for $810 million. This may sound like gibberish to you, so let me break it down into 'bike nerd' language. 

Essentially what this means is that A bunch of Euro bike brands owned by Pon, including the US MTB brand Santa Cruz and the Euro racing brand Cervelo, are now joined together with Cannondale, GT Bikes, Schwinn, and Pacific Cycle. 

The sale should be completed by Spring 2022, according to several reports. It is thought that this will form the world's largest specialty bicycle group, eclipsing the former top company, Giant. 

Comments:  Typical of Pon Holdings, I would expect them to make minimal changes to the brands they acquired in this sale. Santa Cruz, when it was purchased by Pon several years ago, basically continued on unchanged, as an example. What I would expect is an injection of capital with this acquisition allowing these companies to advance and grow further. It would be congruent with Pon's past historical bicycle business ventures. 

With electrified bicycles being all the rage in Europe and now in the US, I would also expect a big change in how many models some of these brands Pon acquired carries in their ranges. Anything beyond that is a mystery to me at this point, but again, most folks probably won't see a difference now, or in the near future, with regard to this sale.

The 2022 Carbon Mukluk XT (Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles)

Color Changes Highlight Salsa Fat Bike Line For '22:

Yesterday Salsa dropped the news on its 2022 line of fat bikes. It is pared down from previous years, probably due to supply chain issues. But whatever the reasons, you get basically two levels of Beargrease and Mukluk. 

Comments: It is interesting to see Salsa stick with the skinwall fat tires on the Mukluk. I like the look as it hearkens back to the original Pugsley, but I am sure it is a polarizing spec choice. The other notable thing here is that both the Beargrease and the Mukluk in current versions are pretty long in the tooth. There really hasn't been any innovation for 5 years. 

And what about the Blackborow longtail fat bike? There was nothing in the press release about that bike. I would assume it fell victim to the shortages and Salsa is only offering what it can make which sells the best for now. Clearly that is the Beargrease and Mukluk platforms. 

Parting Shot: Is Trek planning on going to a D2C model soon? This article shows why that may be true. 

That's a wrap for this week. Have a great weekend and get out and ride!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

American Classic Wentworth Update

American Classic Wentworth 700 X 50 (really 46)
 So, I finally got these bigger Wentworth tires on a bike here. The so-called 700 x 50's, which aren't 50's, but are 46's. I know.... Confusing! Let's just agree to call these 46's and get on with it, and we'll just forget about that hot patch on the tire for now, okay? 

Okay, with that out of the way, I will say that these seem a bit more reasonable as far as volume and profile for gravel then the so-called 40's are, which are really 38's, but are marked as 40's. (sigh) You get the picture....

I should have written 'for the gravel roads here where I ride'. Because I know that in Southeastern Minnesota, as an example, you can ride 700 X 38's all the day long and be as happy as a pig in the mud. However; try that same width tire down here where we often have big, chunky limestone laid down by the dump truck loads across the entire roadway at a depth of two inches or more and ,well.......38's are no fun. I mean, you can use that width, but it is a lot harder row to hoe than if you were to ride a wider tire. Pick yer poison.....

 So, back to these 50's.....er, 46's, and yeah. I like the volume, I like the flatter crown to the tire. I like how they set up on the Spinergy GXX wheel set I have here. They fit the MCD very nicely with a decent amount of clearance. These tires and wheels could stay on here all year, I think, and the clearances would be just fine. 

I have experienced a bit of a 'draggy' feeling with the smaller Wentworths and I expect that trend to continue with these bigger versions. I've only been able to get out for some neighborhood cruising so far, so stay tuned for a report on ride performance on gravel here soon. And......that may be a bit. See, I have been filling in for the missing Andy this week. (Note- Stay calm! He isn't really missing, I'm sure he is fine where he went on vacation) I have to fill in for him on Saturday as well, so I may not see gravel roads for a bit. 

That said, it won't be long before I find myself with a lot of extra time on my hands as the season winds down here. As long as the weather holds out I should get in several weeks of riding gravel roads until it (a) gets too dag-gone cold, or (b) it snows and the roads ice up. 

More soon....

Note: The Standard Disclaimer applies here to the tires, Spinergy Wheels, and a few things I did not mention, but that are on the bike shown here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Unintentional Testing

From the dank, dark confines of G-Ted HQ.
 Sometimes I discover things by accident. Probably the most easily remembered time where that occurred for me was when I figured out that on tubed tires I could pump them up and when they felt 'right' days later I would make note of that pressure that they had leaked down to and then set them up that way every time. The first time that happened was completely by accident. "Unintentional Testing", is what I call it. 

Well, another instance of that just occurred here recently. It has to do with the Raleigh Tamland Two. Now generally I don't ride the Tamland a whole lot anymore because I have moved on to other 'test mules' for RidingGravel.com. So the bike often sits for weeks and sometimes a month or two before I get back to it for some reason or another.

I cannot remember when I put the Ti Regulator post on the bike, but it's been a long time now and then that Silverado saddle has been on there a while as well. Anyway, you all probably know that I grabbed this bike to do the Tubolito review. Well, just the other day when I went for a ride I thought, "Hey! I forgot how well this bike fit me." I was feeling really comfortable on it. Well, I rode it to work and after my shift was over I sat the bike against the bike repair stand for a minute while I pulled on my helmet and got ready to go home. And I glanced at that Silverado and I noticed it then.

The saddle was slid all the way back on the rails in the saddle clamp. 

Now as a mechanic for many years this generally means one thing- that clamp on the seat post is loose. It doesn't have to be very loose. It doesn't even have to be noticeable. Just your pedaling motion, your weight, and impacts from riding are enough to get that saddle creeping backward until it cannot slide back any further due to the rails shape changing as it goes up into the saddle's nose. So, I knew something was up and I grabbed a 5mm hex key.

The drive side clamp bolt was loose! Wow..... So, here I had been riding a changing saddle position over a period of time until it stopped at its furthest point back that it could go and it felt right. Now, this is shocking to me because the Ti Regulator has a healthy set back and I almost would never set a saddle up like that. Never! Hmm.... 

I grabbed a tape measure and took a measurement thinking, well, it had to be a way longer saddle to bar length now. Right? Funny thing. It was near spot on to what I have always preferred. Weird. 

But that's cool. I found out how the Tamland feels best after all these years and I never would have found out this by trying.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Looking At The End Of The Year

Considering a century on this rig.

 Well, it's about time to start thinking about wrapping up 2021 here at G-Ted Productions. Time is running out to 'git-er-dun' this year as the season winds down and Winter approaches. I've got a couple of ideas I'd like to check out before the white stuff gets on the ground- if it does- in 2021. 
 
I've been happy to have gotten going- finally - and logging in two century-plus days on the bike so far, but I want to add one more. At least one more. Then I'd say 2021 was something of a success.  At least for me it would be. 

Last year I did a Single Speed Century. I want to do that again, and I might do that in an event here called the ICGravel. It's happening on the 23rd, so I'd be doing that pretty soon if I register here. I think N.Y. Roll is coming too. Maybe..... We will see. Anyway, that would take the issue of finding a route out of my hands, which honestly, is a good idea because I waffle about what to do too much sometimes. Just best sometimes to have someone hand me a route and say- go! 
 
And another thing I've been wanting to do is the Fat Bike Century again. I have that route already, and the bike- The Ti Muk 2 - is already set up for this. I just need to get on the horse and go do it. Maybe in November. A last-gasp ride in 2021! Ha! Anyway, the Ti Muk has the dynamo hub, so lighting is 'built-in' and I don't have to worry much about how the gravel will be with 4" wide tires. We will see. 

So, another thing: There is a route idea I've had for a couple of years to do but it would require about an hour trip to get to the start and then an hour back again, and well..... I just haven't been motivated to do the windshield time for a four-ish hour long ride. I'd really like to do the route, but it isn't a big priority at this time. Maybe if things don't pan out with the Fat Bike Century? Who knows....
 
And then there is the blog stuff which will come on at the end of November here with my 'year in review' posts, my "Bikes of 2021" posts, and more. So, all of that and regular "Fall Views" ride reports and eventually "Brown Season" posts. 
 
Stay tuned.....

Monday, October 11, 2021

Fall Views: Hazy Morning Ride

I didn't get out as early as I wanted to, but it was okay.
 These early morning rides on the weekends have been working out pretty well. I get done fairly early and have the rest of day with the family or to get other stuff done. Why haven't I been doing this all along? 

It just goes to show you- You are never too old to learn something new. 

Anyway, the spectacular weather continues on and shows no signs of letting up. I've seen it snow by this point into October, and generally it is getting pretty chilly at night, but this year? It seems like Summer just doesn't want to let go yet. Humid, hot air is still hanging around. Despite the fact that we have a lot less daylight now. Heck, it was in the low 60's when I started my ride. That's usually more indicative of the high temperatures for this time of the year. 

So, I thought I'd do a loop this time from the house. Starting South, hitting up Griffith Road, heading East, then end up coming in on Foulk Road from the South and maybe a little fiddling around before heading back on the CVNT toward Evansdale and bike paths home. That was the general idea anyway. 

The Sun arises in a sea of lava-like clouds

Oh yeah! It looked like a bit of haze was going to accompany the Sunrise on this day.

I decided to ride the Black Mountain Cycles MCD on this ride. I was testing some handle bar tape, and I was searching for an answer which had been evading me over the past few days. Specifically, where was that creak I had been hearing? It was gone. I swapped out the WTB CZR wheels from the Noble GX-5 which made the creak disappear on that bike. Would the creak follow the wheels? That's what I was after here, but so far......nuthin! 

There is nothing worse for a mechanic than to have an issue disappear without an understanding of how it went away and where it came from in the first place. It can be pretty frustrating. On the one hand- hooray! Right? The noise is gone. But on the other hand, I don't know the answer to the mystery. Unsolved mysteries are a thorn in a mechanic's side. Oh well......

Only the early risers get to see the show.

So, I pedaled onward and just enjoyed the show that the Sun and the mists were providing. It was pretty spectacular! There was zero wind. I mean it was calm! The gravel was in fantastic shape after all the harvest traffic had pounded it into nice lanes which made for fairly easy riding. The recent rains helped that along, no doubt. 

Another semi-tractor/trailer of grain heads off to be shipped out.

At times I felt as if I were cycling through a dream-world.

Washburn Road turned me into Ansborough and eventually I turned East again on Griffith. I was feeling okay, but something felt odd at times, then it would go away. I'm not sure but I think my tire pressures were set a bit too low. Of course, in my rush to get out the door, I did not check them. My bad. But whatever it was, tires, or just being distracted by the dream scape I seemed to find myself in, I don't know. I went back and forth between feeling great and feeling weird things. 


And even though I was making headway, and not going slow, the Sun seemed to be taking its time to rise. I would keep seeing these spectacular scenes and figured, "Well, this fog will burn off soon, the Sun will get up, and I can put away the camera and just ride.", but it kept going on and on, seemingly. 

I turned around for this shot.....

.....but I took this one over my shoulder as I went by.

I took Griffith Road East to the place where it "T's" out into Hammond Avenue and then headed South to Quarry Road which I then went back East on. Still there was no wind. It was just an amazing, beautiful, awesome morning!

You could see the fog layer here from a hill on Hammond Avenue looking South.

Headed back East on Quarry Road.

The Sun finally started gaining altitude and the mists were now lying in the valleys of the various streams and creeks in the area. I could finally see clearly through my Rudy Project glasses now. Earlier on the mists kept a slight fog on the lenses, which probably contributed to my issues with feeling oddly on the bike. Now things were sharper and I didn't have to second guess what it was I was looking at. 

There was a tiny bit of Fall color here, but we are about a good week away from 'peak' color peeping.

The bridge over Miller Creek on Quarry Road.

Now the Sun was up and the mists were gone. It was a blue-sky day and the temperatures were perfect. Just cool enough that I needed arm warmers, but otherwise I was in Summer riding gear. Still, no wind! Amazing day out there! 

Foulk Road looking North here.

A part of a small herd of cattle I saw. They gave me a rousing chorus of 'moos' as I rode by!

The harvest is still ongoing. I'd say about 60% is out of the fields now. There still are a lot of fields to be harvested yet, and I was a bit surprised by the lack of activity in the fields. Although, it had rained all night long in this area only a day or so ago. Perhaps it was just too wet to get the big machines out there? 

The gravel roads were pretty much dust-free. A rare treat in normal times, but especially so this year as it has been so dry and dusty all year long. It was odd seeing a layer of moist dust stuck to my tires all the ride long until I hit pavement. 

This ag sprayer machine is probably done for the year.

I finally ran across some harvesting action just West of Washburn, Iowa.

Well, eventually I did see some harvesting activity. Maybe up a little too closely! The machines these farmers use nowadays is so enormous that I considered bailing off into the ditch as one combine passed me by. Wagons are said to now hold more grain than a semi-tractor/trailer can tow away. The scale of these machines is kind of hard to convey, but that tracked wagon above? It was probably as high as a one story house. 

This combine did not leave me much room to pass by on the right. A truck wouldn't have had room to do it!

A little dirt road action on McKellar Road.

Some little traveled gravel near Washburn and South of Evansdale Iowa.

I ended up detouring off Foulk Road after crossing HWY 218 because, well, it is just a bunch of pavement. Not very interesting. A side trip down McKellar Road and then along a bit of Weidan Road was far more interesting than that! 

Then it was bike path all the way into Waterloo and eventually back to the house. About 2 3/4's hours of riding on one of the best mornings out so far. Glad that I made the effort to get out of bed!

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: Let's Talk About The Lottery

 "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 clicking on the "Trans Iowa Stories" link under the blog header. Thanks and enjoy!

 During the crazy final stage of the Trans Iowa v11 registration, I became aware that I needed to do something very different with how people were registered for Trans Iowa. The old free-for-all ways weren't going to work anymore, at least not for me. I was appalled by the lengths that people would go to get their name on the roster. I was disturbed by how people were angry with the way things went down because they could not get into a free-to-enter event with no real 'worldly' value to it. People were getting way too serious, and I needed a way to compensate for that. 

Perhaps it reflected the way things were changing in regard to gravel events overall. By this time the Dirty Kanza 200 had a crazy online registry for its 2017 event which caused a lot of grumbling. This resulted in their going to a lottery to determine who got in and who did not for 2018. Gravel Worlds was growing in numbers steadily. The Almanzo 100 would get over a thousand entrants at around this time, and the Barry-Roubaix gravel event was getting more than that. Gravel events were popping up like dandelions in a Spring lawn. People were wanting to get into the scene. The 'old guard' events were plums to have ridden, so one could say they had done the big ones. Trans Iowa was somewhat insulated by the fact that it was perceived to be 'sooo hard' and that the event was daunting. People to this day tell me that they wished that they could have had it in them to pull the trigger on entering the event, but that they just couldn't despite the attraction. 

But difficulty and reputation aside, there still were more people than I could handle wanting in. So, a lottery idea was attractive to me, but I saw some things that I had done previously that also needed addressing. I had been letting any veteran- a person that had actually started a Trans Iowa event - access to being on the roster. I used to automatically enter former winners. However; I understood that by the time that Trans Iowa v13 came around that there was a possibility that literally hundreds of veterans could swamp me with requests, via a lottery, to get in. I was piling up winners to the point that if they all showed up, as unlikely as that may seem, they could have taken up a significant portion of the 120 spots which was the hard limit. 

So, Trans Iowa v12 was done simply with only the Rookies having a lottery. The other classes were still done by having folks just send in a post card. But by T.I.v13, my thoughts concerning the numbers piling up, there were over 400 people who had done Trans Iowa by this point, forced me to make a decision. That was all based upon who was supporting Trans Iowa, and who had- seemingly- let that ship sail. I based this on participation. 

I set up a list of folks who had obviously made Trans Iowa an annual pilgrimage not to be missed. (Here is a post , and another here, explaining this from back in the day) There weren't many of those folks, but they deserved to have as little a barrier to participation as possible. I also granted this to current winners. However; any Veteran or winner who hadn't done a Trans Iowa in six years was placed on an Inactive List. Those coming off that list had to go back in as rookies. This made sense to me because Trans Iowa had been changed and tweaked several times up until Trans Iowa v7-v8, so there was enough 'new' that old riders of the event wouldn't have a 100% familiarity with how I did things. 

I guess in the end it really did not matter all that much, because for the last two Trans Iowa events I never had to instigate a lottery for veterans of the event. Only the Rookie class ever was in a lottery situation. The inactive list was only really effective in one, maybe two cases that I can remember. But the thing is, looking back, it is easy to say I never needed to go to all that trouble. At the time? Who knew? 

Finally, I guess I thought, or part of me thought anyway, that Trans Iowa was going to keep on going so this needed to be dealt with. I mean, had I really understood that I had three Trans Iowa events left, and that was it, back in 2015? I may have never had done so much thought and work for that roster stuff. I mean, had I known, why bother, right? 

Next: A Look At Sponsors

Saturday, October 09, 2021

A Word On The Classics

American Classic Wentworth 700 X 40mm* on the Standard Rando v2
 The reemergence of the American Classic name in cycling was a bit of a surprise this past September, as I stated in this "FN&V" post last month. The business model that the company chose was maybe even a bigger surprise. Going consumer direct, with distribution via Amazon, was a cheeky move in light of how traditional branding and marketing in the cycling space is handled. 

I had no idea if this meant that 'traditional marketing' was also being short-circuited. So, I took matters into my own hands and ordered a set up to test and review on RidingGravel.com. Of course, subsequently I ended up being contacted by a marketing company that works through traditional channels and ended up getting more American Classic tires to test. (See Standard Disclaimer page) In this post, I will only be talking about the tires I purchased with my own money, but I will tell you that my findings have been consistent with what was sent out to Riding Gravel as well. 

So, 35 dollar tires, eh? Yep. This in a day when - first of all - you are fortunate to even find tires. The shortages are real folks! Then you have prices, which are typically nearly twice that or more for what I would call 'name branded', well known gravel tires. The 'cheapest' tires previously being Panaracer Gravel King SK's which run about 12 bucks ,on average, more than these AmClassics, and then you get into WTB gravel tires for another ten more than that. But I am here to tell you that by next Spring those prices will be higher. But that's another story....

So, for thirty-five, what do you get?  Well, AmClassic says these are 40mm tires. Nope! Not even close. I mounted these on a pair of Irwin Cycling Aon Carbon 35 wheels and those have a 24mm inner rim width. Pretty 'average' width there and it happens to be what AmClassic recommends for their 700 X 40mm tires. So, at 40psi these measure out at 38.5-ish mm on my digital calipers. Exactly what I would have expected for a tire labeled as "700 X 38mm". But, these are 'supposedly' 700 X 40mm. Hmm.... 

I was impressed with how these were for air retention though. These tires don't leak down much, and that is kind of nice when you run tubeless. I had no issues setting them up tubeless either, other than that these tires were exceedingly tight on the wheels I chose to use with them. 

On smoother bits of gravel, the skinnier AmClassics were okay, but on pavement they felt 'draggy'.

Then the riding commenced. The casings, being undersized as they are, ride like skinny gravel tires. There is not a lot of room for bigger, sharper edged hits, like on broken pavement, to be absorbed. Higher volumes of air in a tire equals more of an ability to absorb impacts. These AmClassic tires in the 38mm width, (because that's really what they are), don't have the same ability to absorb impacts like a 700 X 40-43mm tire does, and it shows. 

On smoother gravel, these tires were 'okay'. I could likely live with them seeing as how they are so inexpensive. But on my roll-down test these tires were below average. I could maybe bump up pressures from my 'high-30's psi' but that would negatively affect their ride feel even more. And I don't think this is an issue with tread pattern. I cannot really fault the tread here. I don't think it is where the problem is with these tires in general. My take is that it is the quality of the casings which are at fault. 

When I got these tires, (and the ones I paid for came first, just so you know), the casings appeared as those I would generally associate with 'cheap' tires. The inner casings were ribbed, sort of, more so than you'd normally see. The materials over the textiles looked and felt thicker, which is another characteristic of cheaper rubber for bicycles. The inner casing's coloring was familiar in this way also. I've handled a LOT of bicycle tires going back to the mid-1990's and certain characteristics are associated with inexpensive tires and these AmClassics lean toward that end of the 'feel' and 'appearances' spectrum than not. 

Does any of that mean these tires are made cheaply? No. Not necessarily, but when matched up with the performance, observed characteristics (especially in width), and considering what you pay for, I am thinking that you are getting no more value for your dollar here than you should expect for 35 bucks. It isn't like these are on par with Gravel King SK's, or a WTB gravel tire, because clearly, this is not the case, in my opinion. I'll sum up my feelings so far with this maxim which comes to mind when I think about these AmClassic tires: "You get what you pay for".

And really, is that such a bad thing?

Friday, October 08, 2021

Friday News And Views

Old School Gravel:

Cruising the "Book Of Faces" the other day and I came across a new addition to an existing event in Kansas. It is called the Flint Hills Gravel Race and it is put on by a guy named Bobby Thompson. The new distance, which is in addition to his 30 mile and 80 mile distances, will be 120 miles. 

Okay, so that's cool and all, but what caught my eye was in the comments about the event on that social media channel. The chatter indicated that the event's new distance would only be navigated by cue sheets (!) and that the distance would be divided into three parts. Once a rider started they would only get cues to the first 'checkpoint' (!!) and then they would receive cues to the next and so on. Event timing would be based upon a 10mph average (!!!). I went to the website for the event and learned more about it (!!!!)

Where have I seen something like this before? Right? 

This definitely made my day. I cannot say whether or not Bobby was influenced by some certain other event, but no matter. Yeah, so if you know, you know. Interested? The registration opens soon and Bobby is taking on only 50 riders for this. (Maybe up to 73, you'll have to read his reasons why) Go HERE for the details. 

A rendering of the Rogue by Alchemy Bikes from the press release.
Also In The "Where Have I Seen This Before?" Files:

This is Sea Otter week and news will be hot and heavy seeing that the event hasn't happened for a year and a half. One of the newsy bits that hit my inbox was about a bike that Alchemy Bikes is releasing called the Rogue. 

Alchemy claims that the new Rogue model was "designed with a more progressive/modern geometry". Okay, that is a very common claim amongst manufacturers pushing out new gravel bikes. Sometimes it is true, and sometimes it isn't. What would the geometry chart for the Rogue show me? 

I looked and smiled. "Where have I seen THIS before?!

The Raleigh Tamland, that's where. A bike that debuted in 2014, if you want to know, and the Rogue's numbers are dead-on to what the Raleigh numbers were seven years ago. In an industry where, at times, what happened five years ago can be so outdated it may as well be antique, a company basically copying the Raleigh Tamland's numbers really are not pushing any boundaries here. 

That all said, I love it. The Rogue's geometry, that is. This geometry works. It is what I requested in 2012 when Raleigh asked me about what I'd do for a gravel bike, so yeah.....I would like that, but the Tamland was a hit when it debuted back then so a lot of folks did get on with that bike's geometry. Anyway, welcome to the Club, Alchemy! 

Handmade Bicycle Show Returns In '22:

The North American Handmade Bicycle Show returns after a two year hiatus due to COVID-19. The show often reveals new trends in cycling and is popular with cycling nerds.

The show will be held in Denver, Colorado at the National Western Complex on Denver's North side. The dates are set at September 23rd-25th. People who bought tickets to the cancelled 2020 show will be rolled over to this 2022 show in Denver. Details will be released at a later date. 

Comments: I've never been to a NAHBS show and many years it is just too far away for me to even consider going. But Denver is a place I can get to by car and, well.....maybe. It's something to consider, for sure. 

I'll be honest though, much of that show would likely be about seeing other people and less about the bikes, (but the bikes are spectacular!), so I wouldn't likely get much of anything substantial from it in terms of Riding Gravel, on the one hand. It is hard to say, but the last several NAHBS shows really did not have the impact that the NAHBS shows in the 00's had. in my opinion. 

There is a lot of time to mull it over. I'll wait and see......

Refining Product:

More news from the Sea Otter press fall-out. Kinekt (Body Float) posts are pretty rad items for those who want to take the sting out of trail, gravel, or road riding. I've used various iterations of this post for years and I have tested and reviewed others for Riding Gravel. 

In all of that time Kinekt never sat still. They have continued to take criticisms and raves and they have refined the product all along. Gotta give them props for continuing to implement better and better ideas as the years go on. The latest version of this post, (which I have not seen or handled, by the way) is said to have been improved in the following ways:

-New Bushings
-New Branding
-Improved L/XL Unit

And they have their own saddle bag which is compatible with this post now, which is nice because it was difficult to  add a saddle bag on their posts in the past without some issues. So, I thought I'd mention all this here since many of you may remember me running a Body Float post, (the predecessor to the current Kinekt posts) on a couple of my bicycles in the past. 

The Mid South and Gravel Worlds Announce Double Double Championship:

 From the press release: "The Mid South and Gravel Worlds announced they will be partnering their 2022 events to do a multi event biathlon challenge unlike any other. New for 2022, Gravel Worlds will be adding a new event called Land Ho 50k Ultra Marathon sponsored by Fleet Feet.

Gravel Worlds Promoter, Jason Strohbehn, said there will be a Gravel Worlds Double Championship that combines the time of the 50k run and their 150-mile bike race.

“We will be adding the new event to our 2021 race line-up. The Mid South has had a run/bike double option since 2017.”

According to The Mid South Promoter, Bobby Wintle, the Double Double Championships will combine the finish time from the 4 events to create one of the most unique challenges in the world of gravel."

Comments: So, take away the novelty factor, (running on gravel and racing bikes on gravel to determine a champion), this is a de facto series. Basically, Gravel Worlds and Mid-South are drawing a line in the sand by joining their events, (it really doesn't matter if it isn't ALL their events, or that it includes running/cycling), and now the door has been cracked with regard to having the straight up gravel events in this series. This quote from the press release, "Ultimately we want this to be a sign of unity in the gravel family”, by Jason Strohbehn, promoter of Gravel Worlds, says that this idea is on the table. What would say that more than having all the events in a series between these two big gravel events?

I've talked about the allure of the single big events to join together into a series which would bring together the energies of those events and propel them to even bigger things. The mere idea is a popular thing in our culture because - for whatever reasons - if it seems that you aren't growing you are failing. So, while there may be no substance to any of this, this announcement certainly opens the door to a way to bring this idea of a series about.

That's a wrap for this week! Have a fantastic weekend and thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions