Sunday, January 31, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: A Prank Entry And Registration Madness: Part 4

  "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!

This entry will show off some of the Trans Iowa post card entries I saved over the years. There are a LOT more than I am showing off here, but in order to keep this post somewhat less long than the "Iliad" , I have shaved down what I am showing here to about a dozen. I tried to show off cards by thematic means. Cards that are representative of what most cards I ever got were like. So, with no special order, here they are.....

Many cards had a theme of suffering and death. Now.....why would THAT be? (Card from B. Lichter for v10)

Ben Oney sent this macabre entry for v11. He was from Northfield MN, so.....

I got a ton of homemade cards with captions and everything. This is a compilation of the TDF 'devil', my face, and a scene from T.I.v2 from Craig Irving.

Level B roads played heavily into the subject matter for a lot of homemade cards I got. This one from Don Daly.

A rookie decides life isn't worth more than getting into Trans Iowa v8. This from A.W. Dutton.

The humor and references here make this a classic. From Maciej Nowak for T.I.v8.

This card sent in by Charles Showalter for T.I.v8 gives you a hint as to why the first artwork for v8's site was taken down due to a cease and desist letter I received.

Speaking of site headers- John Mathias made this collage of site headers for his v10 entry.

Trans Iowa was perhaps one of the most 'Lo-Fi' events around, and many sent cards reflecting that.

Jennifer Barr went the other way with this ultra-creative effort for T.I.v11

I got "cards" that weren't really cards, and therefore those never made it as an entry. None more elaborate than this solid wood plaque with engraved acrylic overlay. In fact, I got two for two different people!

Some folks, like Jim Phillips, who sent in many creative cards, made their entries look like court orders and the like.

This is - if not the #1 favorite- it is one of my favorite cards. A five layer card sent in three phases from Emily Broderson.

Okay, so that was not easy! So many great cards had to be edited out or this post would have gone epic length. I have had a lot of people ask about a showing of cards or a book of them, but after so many years I had to whittle down what I kept to a small box that I have here. Some are not anything fantastic to look at but have meaning for me. So, trust me- you don't want to see all of what I kept either. 

Next: The story of the prank card that sparked a huge debate about doping riders and Trans Iowa. 

Saturday, January 30, 2021


 Recently I got a nice email from an old friend of Trans Iowa who had listened to the "Riding Gravel Radio Ranch" podcast recently. He was remarking about a way that Andy and I were describing 'winning' in terms of how that worked out for the early grassroots gravel scene. 

I've written a lot about the differences between what has happened with the big, corporate backed gravel events, the media narratives, and the perceptions that gravel races = Pro roadie-like events versus challenges, democratic experiences, and rider engagement both socially and with the events. There is some overlap, to be sure, between these things, but what we discussed on the podcast really distills this down to a finer point. 

Basically, it boils down to a choice: Do we want singular "Winners" or do we want everyone to feel like a winner. This can be a fine balance, and even some events you'd throw under the bus, maybe, are actually pretty good at doing the right things. Or they were. Here I will bring up that event formerly held in Emporia Kansas, the Dirty Kanza 200. I know.....we aren't supposed to 'name the name', but that's what it was called. The name doesn't matter in this discussion. What matters is that Jim Cummings and his crew made everyone that they could feel like a winner. Yeah, a big hoopla, fancy-pants finish line experience may not be your cuppa, but ya gotta admit, a LOT of people responded to that treatment in a very positive way. There was a big winner overall, but that wasn't THAT big of a deal, until near the end, where I feel like things got tilted too far in the direction of catering to the Pro/Media/Corporate side. 

There are other events which feature challenges, where if you can manage to get through to the end, you are celebrated, and maybe even if you don't make it, you still feel like a winner. It was upon THAT foundation that "The Gravel Scene" was founded. This happened without any sense of organized racing, without much of any help from the cycling press, and without any support from the cycling industry early on. It didn't need those things to become wildly popular. Why? Because of what I described above- everyone was welcomed, everyone was made to feel important. Winners all. 

But now I am hearing about events being put on with big prize money to five places down, or a big purse for Pro class riders, or events with nine million age divisions, (I jest, but you know what I mean), and lotteries to even get a chance to get in some of these events, like those are good things for everybody? 

Are not these the very reasons many people grew tired of criterium racing, road course racing, XC MTB, and other highly categorized, winner take all, cut throat mentality events? I would say, YES! And yet we want to start going down that road with gravel events, eh? Good luck with that.....

We know the end of that road, and it has a "Dead End" sign on it.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Friday News And Views

Vegelatex sealant from Effetto Mariposa (Image courtesy of Cantitoe Road)
 Plant Based Sealant?

I have used Caffe Latex sealant off and on throughout the years. The sealant foams up while riding and seals punctures in a bit different fashion due to the foaming action. I always thought it worked pretty well. It is otherwise a fairly typical sealant formula using latex and a carrier, which is not ammonia in this case, by the way.

Now Effetto Mariposa, the company that makes this product, has a new sealant called "Vegelatex". is plant based. Here is what Effetto Mariposa has to say about this product.

"Most tire sealants employ slowly biodegradable liquid polymers (like natural or synthetic latex) to repair punctures; Végétalex instead contains only plant-based particles and fibers – finely ground olive stones and cellulose fibers – to deliver a tremendous puncture clogging effect. This mix, held together by xanthan gum (produced from simple sugars), fixes punctures ranging from small tire porosities to bigger cuts (up to 5 mm) fast and in a permanent way."

Huh. If it works, then I'm all for it. Effetto Mariposa says this sealant is longer lasting- up to a whole season of use- but they also said that about Caffe Latex, if I recall correctly and ah......not so much. It lasted a long time, but not a year. Anyway, it's an interesting product that - if it is even nearly as good as they say- is something to consider. 

If you want to learn more the site page is here

Image courtesy of WTB
WTB Announces Proterra Wheels:

WTB is now offering gravel and trail wheels built in California by hand called Proterra. They have models in inner rim widths for gravel at 23mm and 25mm. A trail offering comes in at 26mm inner width while a wider 30mm inner rim width 'Proterra Tough' wheel is offered as well. 

Proterra wheels in the other widths are designated 'Proterra Light'. The gravel wheels are all 28 hole drillings and the 27mm and 30mm MTB wheels are 32 hole. All are laced to WTB's Proterra hubs using "J" bend spokes and all hubs use easy, no tool maintenance. The gravel wheels are 12mm through axle 100 mm front/142 mm rear spaced while the MTB wheels are 110mm/148mm Boost spaced. 

Wheels will be available individually or as sets. A set cost is $649.90 no matter which model you get. Fronts are $294.95 and rears are $354.95 each. All wheels are going to be available via at first since WTB wants to get there wheel building facility going so they can optimize and adapt their systems before going full-tilt and supplying vendors. 

Learn more at

Fargo Apex 1. The only complete model for '21 (Image courtesy of Salsa Cycles)
Salsa Reveals 2021 Fargo Model, Frame Sets:

The pandemic has thrown a wrench in a lot of plans and so you may not be very surprised to learn that Salsa Cycles has one- yes one- complete model of the Fargo on offer for 2021.Also not surprisingly, it is a SRAM Apex model. basically 2020 with a color change. The last time Salsa had more than one complete Fargo on offer was 2019.

Other than this abbreviated range, there are no other big changes for '21. You still will be able to get a titanium Fargo frame set, and the steel frame set, but that's all. Prices have inched upward as well. The Apex 1 complete bike is $2399.00, the Ti Fargo frame w/carbon fork is $2999.00, and the steel frame with carbon fork is  $1099.00, All prices are USD. 

Comments: The Fargo is the longest running model in Salsa Cycles range and it is a model that hasn't changed since 2017's Fargos debuted as they are now, pretty much. The only notable change being the carbon fork which is now Boost spaced. So, with one complete, and only a color change, what does this say about the future?

Of course, this can only be speculated on, but there are certainly two things at play here. One- The pandemic brought a renewed vigor to sales of all bikes, but touring/bike packing bikes were a segment that saw significant interest. The Fargo fits right into that scene. However; how much longer will that last? Once things go back to 'normal', and the pandemic is declared over, what will the Fargo's appeal be then? 

It's old in the tooth, and there isn't a whole lot more Salsa can do with the current platform. It's tweaked out about as far as it can go. That is one thing. The other is that Salsa Cycles does not have an electrified mountain bike, or any model with a motor at all. With electrified HPC's all the rage, it wouldn't be a big surprise to me to see the Fargo give way to something full suspension for their MTB range. It could be a bike packing bike, but I doubt it would carry the Fargo name. 

At any rate, good things come to an end, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the end of the line for the venerable Fargo come in 2022 or '23.

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

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Townie Update

My 1978 Trek converted to single speed and 700c wheels
 I mentioned those old Dura Ace hubs and Salsa Cycles Delgado Cross rims back a week or so ago now. Well, here is where those ended up. This is an old 'barn-built' Trek that I acquired several years ago. I had tried it as a Gravel Mutt back in 2013 or so, and then it ended up on a hook shortly thereafter. so, like nearly eight years later.....

I built up those Dura Ace hubs and Salsa rims and thought about what to put them on. This bike seemed like a good place. And as I said, this will end up becoming my townie after I divested myself of the old Surly 1X1. That was my go-to errand rig for a while there.

Looking back at the back story on this bike, I realized that my intentions all along were to make this bike into a single speed. Ha! Things have finally come full-circle then. And I think that's a good thing with this bike. While I did do a gravel ride or two on this, it is a 'road bike' in the old-school, classical sense of the term. It isn't meant for anything too rowdy like a gravel road can be like. 

No, bikes built with the classic road racing ideal in mind back then all featured certain ideas about how the end user was to be sat on the thing. It was all about nose-to-the-stem, butt-in-the-air, aero type positioning. You get that feeling immediately when you sit on this bike, even though I fitted some old Origin 8 Gary Bars with a super-shallow drop. Your face is 'out in the wind' and the whole experience is one of feeling as though that if the front wheel hit a stick you'd come flying straight off the front of the thing as the bike stopped dead in its tracks. Personally, I find this feeling to be quite uncomfortable. Especially on gravel.

Maybe that's because we've grown accustomed to bikes where the front is higher, the front-center is longer, and the angles are slacker. These things all push the front end 'out there' with the front wheel way out from underneath you. Even older MTB off-road machines weren't like this, and they were a lot more like this old Trek is. The old style of positioning along with the geometry is night-and-day different than it is now. 

The old brass head badge has a nice patina on it.

But this won't be anything but an errand bike now, so I am okay with doing short rides to pick up things here and there. The simplicity of the frame- no braze ons- makes for a really clean look, although I'm not a fan of the outboard, full-run housing rear brake. 

One thing that always strikes me about older steel road bikes is that they look like they are barely here in this world. I mean, look at those skinny steel tubes! Handle bars have larger diameter tubing. The seat stays are truly 'pencil thin'. It just looks like it would be impossible to ride it. Too flexy! How can it hold up? 

But therein lies the magic of steel tubing. Strength is not measured by visual mass. But most folks would never buy into a bike built with such gossamer thin tubes anymore. It just looks too weak! But it isn't! Maybe that is inherently why these old bikes are fascinating to some people. More than any space-aged carbon doohickey, a good steel frame is far more amazing to the eye upon closer inspection. The engineering principals are honed to their finest points. The connection method- lugged and brazed- is as minimal as it can be, yet if done properly, amazingly long lasting and strong. Add in wire spokes and a relatively weak aluminum hoop that becomes another thing when tensioned and laced to a stout hub, and the package is simply mind boggling, yet so familiar we lose sight of the marvel that is a bicycle. 

So, to me this is a classic example of the bicycle as it appeared most often throughout its history. It will glide along just fine on the streets of the city. Now I need to figure out just how I want to accessorize it- or not- to aid me in my goal. I could find a rear rack and that would open up some great possibilities, or I could just use a messenger bag. I have several. I also could go the top-tube bag route, or get a frame bag. So, we'll see. 

Not a lot of room here!

I did find that I needed every bit of space here to allow for the 36mm Panaracer Pasela tire to spin freely. This may end up being swapped for a 35mm tire at some point, but for now, my brief test ride gave me some hope that it will be okay. Tons of clearance elsewhere, of course. It's always at the chain stays where things get tight. 

The gear will stay. I like the ratio for city cruising. So, the 39T chain ring and the 20T free wheel. Seems about right. Plus the added bonus of having a longer lasting set of parts versus spinning smaller diameter components is a nice thing. 

Now, the rear brake was an issue going way back, and that due to a missing, rare bit that Dia Compe had to work as a cable stop inside their levers. I had forgotten that I came up with a kludge to get myself by. It was to use a fixing nut from a linear pull brake as a cable stop. Good idea but for the fact that by pulling the lever the pressure created stripped the plastic cover off the housing and the spiral reinforcing wire pulled through the opening in the nut. There was my problem with the rear brake! 

So I fixed that by installing a step-down ferrule on the new run of housing I installed and then have that go into the nut. Perfect! Now I could set up the rear brake and have decent stopping power. Nothing like a disc brake, mind you. Brakes back then were pretty much 'speed modulators' more than they were brakes. I probably could stand to use some real pads here, but that'll come later. This is basically an effort to prove the concept. 

The brake issue has been solved.....for now

So, besides making the rear brake functional, I had to re-wrap the handle bars as well. I found a couple forgotten rolls of fizik tape I had and used that on the Gary Bar. This bar is a pretty radical take on a flared drop bar. It has extreme flare and super-minimal drop. The ramps are really steep and the extensions are short. It happens to work, ergonomically, as long as you don't ever ride on the hoods, because that position is too weird on this bar. 

This oddness makes it a really tough bar to wrap too. I had to really take my time, and fizik's faux-leather like material they use is not very forgiving. So, I had to be patient and take my time. It ended up going well. I like how it turned out for now. This may end up getting changed anyway depending on what I decide with the stem. Yeah.......that old school stem! 

Of course it is a negative rise, old forged, no face plate style bit that was once super commonplace. It is a big reason I feel so much like falling off the front of this thing. I was thinking as I test rode this that I might like a taller front with less reach in the stem, but I am going to live with this for now. That said, I have a strong desire to get a stem with some rise and swap this out. Of course, that will ruin the classic lines this bike has. I could always opt for a flat bar with a shim....... Nah! If I start messing with that I'll end up wanting to swap out the seat post for an offset head one, (I happen to have the perfect Campy Record post for this) and that will be another thing to mess with. Besides, I nailed the position on that Brooks. Why mes with a good thing? 

Let's see......There is only one other nit I would have to address if I end up going with this, as I think I am going to do. That is the head set. It is the original component to the bike and it is indexed pretty badly. That isn't a good thing for city riding. I will have to see about turning the crown race 90°, an old trick used by racers back in the day to extend the life of their head sets. If that doesn't work, I'll have to source a new head set. Maybe..... I may have a Campy head set somewhere.....

The test ride was successful, even though I had to ride on some snow.

 So, now I will have to strip this back down, clean up some bits, and then decide if I want to powder coat this jalopy or if I want to just touch up the paint job with some fingernail polish and leave it at that. The old Treks were painted with wet paint, Imron if I am not mistaken, and that is some pretty brittle paint. This could be a never ending touch-up job. That's why I am considering powder coating it for the more durable- but not original- finish. 

For now I want to get the necessities done. The head set being number one there. Then I'll go from that point and either rack this up, or whatever. Stay tuned.......

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Winter Review Of The Ti Muk 2

A recent outing on the Ti Muk 2
 Last year in May I posted my one year review of the Ti Muk 2. That is still a pretty solid overview of what I think about this bike. However; the Winter of 19/20 wasn't particularly marked by my use of that bike in difficult Winter conditions. I tended to be on my Blackborow DS for those rides. 

This year has been different though. While I have had the blackborow DS out on a few tough, trail-busting rides, the Ti Muk 2 has been used in this manner as well. I thought that with the additional time spent in severe conditions, I might give you some thoughts I have had on this bike and the components that make it up. 

First of all, I have been pleasantly surprised by the capabilities to break new trail and traverse deep snow that this bike has allowed me to do this season so far. I have two specific areas on the commute to work that are basically open, grassy fields. I have burned in a path during dry times, but typically, no one else uses the one trail and only one other fat biker uses the other. When we got the 5" snow fall here a couple of weeks ago now, I thought I'd likely have to start going around on the bike path with regard to the first 'open field' from my house. However; that first day I decided what the heck! I'd give it a whirl and just see. Surprisingly, I made it! Then I tackled the second section as well. I got through that one too. So, I kept trying and I was sometimes frustrated by heading offline or running out of leg and lung, but overall, this has been a great discovery. 

Secondly, I have found that the lower ranges which this particular Rohloff internal hub gear unit has due to its cog/chain ring combo are well low enough. In fact, I have found that even when doing the above difficult trail breaking, I only used the lowest gear once. Pretty impressive! Usually, the lowest gear is far too low, which is about where I would want the range to be. Now, on the high end I seem to be good there as well. I have used the fastest gear several times. Mostly on down hills or with a stiff tailwind, but again, this is about where I would want it to be in the range. I don't see myself spinning out the fastest gear on a regular basis. 

Finally the Cake Eater 4.0" tires have been working great in the snow. I am amazed at how these tires claw through soft snow and grip on ice, but still roll really well on harder surfaces. There is no hint of funky self-steering either. Of course, these are tubeless and that may have a lot to do with things here. But still, for only 4" tires, they have really impressed me. 

Hope that you enjoyed that review. Hit me up in the comments with any questions.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Elephant In The Room: 2021

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

 Last year I wrote about the possibilities of cancellations for 2020 gravel events in light of the then, new COVID-19 virus. Well, we can all look back with 20-20 vision and see what the results were. (Pun intended)

Also, since that time we all have kept hearing about a 'return to normal' and wondering when that would happen. Many thought that the Fall of 2020 would be that time. Nope! 

So, we rolled into 2021 with the pandemic still wreaking havoc, but now we have a vaccine! So, everyone is getting all revved up to 'get back to normal' and have events again. Some events are hesitating, waiting out to see how things go- ala last Spring- and some have bailed already. (Mid-South did this just last week)

Some are concerned about the 'most vulnerable communities' who need to be protected, and that's admirable and right, but what about the folks who are much younger who contract COVID, get sick, and in many cases do not fully recover, or worse, die. It happens. You cannot predict who will and who will not succumb, so saying, "Well, I got it and it was no big deal.", or "I just am not seeing this in my community" doesn't negate the fact that at anytime, anyone could get COVID-19 bad, have it permanently alter their life, or have it kill them. In fact, statements like this are really pretty self-serving. Pretty shallow, if you want to know what I think.

Secondly, I brought this up on the blog last week, but the vaccination of 328.2million US citizens to a 60% level, or higher, to achieve a level where we can even start to entertain returning to normal, takes a while. Experts are saying late Summer at the earliest. Things like this are why it is likely that the Summer Olympics in Japan are to be cancelled. This is why some events here have cancelled already. 

Oh, and then there is the question of just how long is a vaccination good for. Guess what? We don't know that answer yet. So, many folks getting vaccinated today? Well, guess what? They may need to get it again in late Summer. We just are not 100% sure on that, again, relying on experts I have researched. And by the way, you can check this out for yourself. The information- good information- is out there if you know where to look. 

All this leads up to something I saw yesterday on Twitter. Here's the first Tweet I want to reference. It comes from the organization responsible for the 'RAGBRAI-like' ride across Kansas, Biking Across Kansas. 

Next, I came across a Tweet from a media personality in the cycling genre' who was passing on some information concerning Unbound Gravel. Read this and contrast what it says against the previous Tweet shown:

So, one event cancels, the other is ploughing ahead headlong into the unknown. (Perhaps this is what it means to be 'unbound'?) Anyway.......................I will give you that Unbound has left themselves an 'out', or rather, shall we say, they have left themselves a possibility to make money. Let's compare and contrast organizations here a moment. 

BAK (Biking Across Kansas) started out as the facilitator of the annual ride across Kansas which started in 1976. It limits participation to 850 riders and costs approximately $275.00 each for the week. As far as I can find, is a small 'touring company' and only does this event in Kansas. Unbound Gravel, on the other hand, is owned by Life Time Fitness, who in turn were bought out in 2015 by TPG and Leonard Green & Partners LP. The Life Time Fitness business was estimated to be worth 4 billion at the time of the sale. 

Getting into the Unbound 200 costs $240.00 a head In non-COVID times about 1500 riders were in the DK200, this event's predecessor, but other distances are available and they estimate that about 4,000 folks could possibly ride the event now. (Keep in mind- Unbound has never happened yet) A quick check of the 2021 event site shows that Unbound is not offering up any clues as to if there will be any roster restrictions, or if there are no restrictions. They also are not specifying exact measures, (crowd limit numbers, distancing protocol specifics, etc) that will be taken for COVID protocol, only describing overall measures. 

You can draw your own conclusions, but one thing is very clear- Smaller organizations are much quicker on their feet than corporate behemoths. I would also imagine that motivations for the Unbound to happen are a LOT more complex and maybe not as simple like a direct, more home-grown approach event like the BAK.

That said, in one sense it shouldn't matter if you are corporate or a small organization when lives are at risk. I am just amazed at the level of disconnect that is observable from event organizations all the way through to individuals who are seemingly not seeing the seriousness of the issues we are faced with. In my opinion, making plans to go forward with any large scale event which will draw individuals from across the nation and potentially internationally before the end of Summer is pure folly and irresponsible.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Over The Weekend

An old square taper 105 crank set will be repurposed, potentially.
First of all, a big "Thank You!" is in order for all the well wishers for my birthday Saturday. Both here and on social media I was feted for my "birthday ending in a zero" accomplishment. So, again- thanks to everyone and all for the messages. 

Secondly, I wanted to take the opportunity to let you all know what I did, since I am sure many of you were hoping/thinking I'd get a ride in. Well, not so much, actually. I decided that instead of riding, I would work on a ride. You might remember the old high flange Dura Ace hubs I was lacing up into wheels. Well, I finished those on Saturday, then I mocked up the bike I am going to set up with these new wheels. 

The wheels built up really well. I used a mix of what I happened to have. DT Swiss spokes on the front wheel and Wheelsmith on the back. It worked out that I could do my half black spoke/half silver spoke idea, and I used all silver brass nipples on this set. Then I taped up the rear wheel and mounted the 700 X 36mm Pasela tire to check out my chain line, see about clearances, and to see if I might be able to mount some fenders. 

The Panaracer 700 X 36mm Pasela tires fit, but only just so...

 I have clearances all around, and fenders should work out, but I could not put a bigger tire on this bike than this 37mm one. Not if I want some modicum of clearance. Oh, and by the way, this is not necessarily a bike I would ever use on gravel, but I could. No, this is being built to serve a different purpose. 

I gave my main 'errand bike' away to Andy last year. So, ever since then, I've missed having that around. A bike I could just grab and go on. This bike would have to be set up with flat pedals, and have a lock on board along with lights, in case I need to do any night errands. Fenders would allow for wet weather errand running too. Simplicity is a big focus here, as I don't want a high-maintenance machine, but rather, just the opposite. Utility is very important, so eventually, I may rack and bag this thing up, but initially I will use some big saddle/seat post mounted bags to get the bike into service. 

So, a single speed makes sense, and the old Trek I have was made with horizontal drop outs with axle adjusters, so it will make for a great single speed. Plus, since it comes from the era when braze-ons were held to a minimum, all the cable stops are removable, even the downtube shift bosses. I cannot use the original crank set as it is an odd-ball one that has the inner ring bolted to the big ring which is- in turn- part of the crank arm. So, I cannot utilize it due to my inability to make it a single ring crank with proper chain line. The bottom bracket, a serviceable type, is in wonderful shape, but my choice of a mid 1990's Shimano 105 crank set may make me change that out. This crank can be set up to work with the chain line and still have a single ring. I'm going to see if I have a 40 or 42T ring, but the crank has a perfectly serviceable 39, so I could use that in a pinch.

The ACS Claws 20T free wheel I have to use for this project.

The final gear ratio will be determined by my only choice for a rear cog which is a ACS 20T free wheel. This is a necessary choice since the Dura Ace hub is a screw-on free wheel type. 

Other bits will include a silver Thomson seat post, probably a drop bar, (An old Origin 8 Gary Bar is on there right now), some new bar tape, some flat pedals, of course, and plastic Planet Bike "Freddy Fenders" which I have used on various bikes over the years. 

I needed a saddle, and I thought I might have an old Brooks B-17 around as there was one I had been thinking of that was unaccounted for. After a bit of searching, I found it, a green leather Brooks B-17 Special, the one with the copper rivets. It was the original saddle on the Singular Gryphon I had years ago now. It's turned a dark olive color over the years. You'd barely know it was ever green.

I'm going to have to figure out what is up with the brakes too. They are old center pull Weinmann brakes. Whatever the old levers are that I had been using are not compatible with them. They do not pull anywhere near enough cable, so I will be scavenging up something different for levers. I really think that long pull levers will work well, but that is an experiment that may not happen depending upon what I have at hand to work with. 

So, when this all comes together, I will test it out for suitability, and if it all passes muster, then I might pull it all apart to maybe get the frame powder coated. On one hand, a bad paint job makes the bike less theft-worthy. On the other hand, anything that says "Trek" on the frame is a target for thievery here. If I get it powder coated, don't put anything on it for a brand, then it becomes just a weird old single speed bike. No one will be the wiser, and the bike becomes less of a target. Actually, if I made the bike a fixed gear, it would be even better! 

So, anyway, messing about with that and then spending Sunday playing in the church band and then watching NFL play-off games with my son was what I did for my birthday weekend. Again- thanks to all who passed on well-wishes and congratulations.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Trans Iowa Stories: A Prank Entry And Registration Madness: Part 3

 "Trans Iowa Stories" is an every Sunday post which helps tell the stories behind the event. You can check out other posts about this subject by going back to earlier Sunday posts on this blog. Thanks and enjoy!

This entry in the series will feature some of the unusual gifts I was given via the registration process. Some items were meant as "sponsorship" for the ride, but were really a gift to me/Trans Iowa from individuals who wanted to give back somehow. I have also included those but actual sponsorship efforts will be covered separately. There were gifts from volunteers as well, and those will also be covered separately. Otherwise there will be commentary as necessary. The next post after this in the series will show off some of the treasured post cards I have kept over the years, so stay tuned for that next. 

Before things got complicated: An 'edible' post card for T.I.v5 (Info redacted to protect the innocent)

T.I.v9 and 10 riders, Pete Jaros and Bill Pontious gifted me this jersey after v10. This is especially poignant since Bill died shortly after I received this.

Don Daly, a Trans Iowa rider for several years, gifted the banner here for T.I.v11

Flowers were a popular item which I would receive during registrations.

Trans Iowa stickers from Kevin Wilson which were gifted for T.I.v6, but were used until the last T.I.

Probably the second T.I. inspired t-shirt was this design for T.I.v5 from rider Rusty Kay. It is from the header designed by Jeff Kerkove for the T.I. site that year.

Cigars and a cigar cutter gifted via registration by Lance Andre. I never did smoke these because I kept saving them 'for a special occasion'!

Kind of a weird one here, but these were tasty!

An example of a "flower registration" from v6

Another odd one: Petrified shark's teeth from v6's registration.

Don Daly strikes again. This was the gift he sent for T.I.12 along with hats for the volunteers.

Not pictured: A case of Northland oil from Warren Wiebe for a T.I.v6 entry, which really threw me for a loop since I thought it was for the shop owner! I received several fifths of whiskey and craft beer selections during registration over the years. I also received several small and not-so-small gifts of money to help with the gas and time put into the event.Some were outright sponsors, some were volunteers, and that will get covered later. However; some were anonymous or wanted to remain so, and I will continue to respect their wishes in the matter. Just know that there were several folks who gave cash and gift cards to help out with the event over the years. I appreciate all of you! Then there were various other gifts which slip my mind right now......

Oh! A couple more I found here.....

With the crazy T.I.v11 registration we got the most flowers and plants ever.

A gas gift card and two Red Bull energy drinks which came with a T.I.v6 registration
A gift from Jeremy Fry back when he rode in Trans Iowa. This was for v6.

Okay, well, you get the idea! Trans Iowa folks were generous and never failed to humble me with their gift ideas over the years. I was supremely privileged to have been on the receiving end of all of this attention and gift giving. It's something I'll never forget. I mean, how could I? 

Next: Some post cards I have kept over the years....

Saturday, January 23, 2021


Crusty, dusty, but still rolling.
 It's just another day, really. Lots to be more concerned about than marking another trip around the Sun for me. But, as has been pointed out to me by certain family members, the fact that I am around seems important. I guess when you stop to think about it, it is remarkable. 

There was that whole debacle of growing up in the 60's and 70's, back when, as Jerry Seinfeld says, we were like raccoons to our parents. They knew one was around, but they never really connected with it. 

Then there was that whole "Lost Decade" thing I went through in my 20's, and the depths of a divorce and two career changes in my 30's. Yeah.....things could have went a lot worse, or could have ended a long time ago.

So, while I may downplay the importance of this day, I would be remiss to not make note of it as well. I'm not the only one that matters here. No- I am connected to many others, and some care about me. So, you may want to know that today I am marking the big "Six-Oh!" Let the jokes and derogatory comments about aging commence! 

I've no big plans for this day. It's hard to make plans like some do- like riding your age in miles, or what have you- because January can be so unpredictable, inhospitable, and downright stupid to do things like that. So, I may roll wheels, I may just hang with family, or both. I am a blessed man. Very.....very blessed. 

Actually, to mark the occasion I may get my hair cut. First time in almost a year. COVID-induced long-hair-ism, you could say. It's not a good look, lets just say that. I'll likely have to talk Mrs. Guitar Ted into the shearing duties. We'll see......

Anyway, once again, I thank you all for stopping by to read here. It is much appreciated, and I hope you all have been enjoying the blog.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Friday News And Views

Image courtesy of Shimano Social Media.
 Mavic Out- Shimano In:

Tuesday it was revealed that Mavic would not be supplying neutral support cars in the Amaury Sports Organization, (conductor of the Tour de France, other major cycling, golf, and motorsports events), races going forward. Mavic had been supplying the nuetral support via their now famous "Yellow Car" since 1973. Mavic, who fell upon hard financial times in recent years, went into receivership, came out with new owners, but no longer has the means to carry on with the traditional support. 

Shimano, a robust company which is has obvious ties to cycling, has stepped in with the "Blue Car" of Shimano Neutral Support and will now serve in that capacity for all Amaury Sports Organization cycling races. 

Comments: Many reactions to this I've seen have been characterized by dismay and a question of whether or not Shimano can be a truly 'neutral' support option for ASO events. So, here's what I have to say in response to those points.....

The traditionalism which is the backbone of Pro Road Racing is not helping the sport to grow. The reaction to the exit of Mavic from its iconic position as a nuetral support in Le Tour is just a symptom of the cancer that lies underneath Pro road racing and should indicate that changes are needed. However; the infrastructure surrounding the monolith which is Pro Road Racing will be tough to move. I mean, the fight to remove the spectacle of 'podium girls' was characterized by far too much resistance by fans of the sport than a modern reading of the room in the 21st Century might indicate. Imagine what those fans would be reacting like if more pressing issues of race relations, gender equity in terms of racing, and fairness were brought to the fore. So, to see the moans of fans when Mavic goes away is to be expected, I suppose. 

And support cars? You all know what I think about that! Now, I wouldn't advocate for an immediate suspension of support cars in the Tour, but why replace Mavic at all? I mean, every team already has a team car. The whole idea of Mavic neutral support came about when in 1972 a team car went down and the principal person at Mavic then decided to loan out a Mavic car to help out. The next year, Mavic neutral support was born. But again, can't we wean these teams off that altogether? I would argue having less cars and motorcycles on route should be the goal, until you have just the Amaury Sports Organization's vehicles out there to facilitate the event. But again- you know where I am coming from with those thoughts. 

Cargo ship image courtesy of Maersk
Evidence That 2020 Might Be A Bit Tight On Parts:

I've been banging on about this for weeks now, but that doesn't mean I am done yet talking about how hard it is going to be to get parts (and complete bikes) in 2021. The shortages are real, and they will affect all aspects of cycling throughout the year. Lately I've noted several things. Specifics are kept out to protect the folks involved....

  • Big brands are allocating bikes where the bigger dealers are and/or where the money is waiting. That means that you probably will not get many, or maybe no chances, at test rides or choices to bargain against. There will be limited stock, so you may have to defer on color choices, or equipment spec. You may have to just take what is there at the time you look, because if you do not, someone else will. And no- there will be no sales. No discounts. And from what I've already had a peek at, prices are up significantly over last season. 
  • More Smaller Brands Are Going Consumer Direct:  With bikes at a premium, and bigger brands shutting out small brands on dealer floors, look for more consumer direct marketing. There is a network of delivery being set up now that will deliver bikes 100% assembled and I expect many smaller brands to start using this service. It is a nationwide service and should ease folk's fears about consumer direct sales. With this happening on the horizon I fully expect that these smaller brands will start preselling models for delivery at later dates. Prices will reflect that there will no longer be any 'middleman' or bike shop sales. 
  • Parts Are Being Rationed To Bike Shops: I've seen this already. Shops will not be able to order bits and pieces at your whim for delivery tomorrow anymore than Amazon will be able to. All across the board parts will be rationed due to severe shortages. Some niche parts, like fat bike hubs, are being found in short supply, or completely unavailable, as manufacturers concentrate on mainstream parts for common usages. So, chains, tires, cassettes, brake pads- All will be harder to get in 2021. Plan ahead! Far ahead! 
  • 2021 Models Will Have shorter Runs And Fewer Variants: With short supply of parts, brands will have to take what they can get for 2021, and in some cases I already know that choices are limited to one spec on a model which may have had three to four spec choices in the past. Again- if you see the bike in the right size- you may have to just buy it. Even if you hate the color and don't like the spec, unless you can wait until 2022. 
Here's another chunk of evidence. This from the Niner Bikes folks. Read their take on things here.

The Emporia GA Pro Silver Edition wheel.
HED Offers Polished Silver Wheels:

In a land of black anodized components, HED offering a silver edition of their Emporia GA Pro wheels is 'news'. back in 1990, that news would have been met with a solid chorus of 'So what?!!" Why? Because back then, it was black, not silver, which was the oddball anodization color for components. In fact, when Shimano got into the high end road bike market, it made a splash when it debuted with black anodized Dura Ace parts. Weirdos! Didn't they know that road bike parts are always silver? (Yes- actually that was the predominant thinking back then)

Well, that may help you understand why it is that in 2021 when silver anodized anything is seen as weird. In a sea of black anodized bits and baubles, the way to make your limited edition wheels stand out is to make them silver. And not just silver, but polished silver, for that gleaming, sparkly look. 

Actually, Velocity USA has offered polished silver as an option for years. I happen to have a nice set of A23 wheels in polished silver. But that doesn't make silver common, not by a long shot, and when you see all the modernistic design put into today's components, you most often see black, or worse, flat black. Gah! That's the worst of all. I wish more classic design and silver anodization would come back. That would be a refreshing change from the post-modern style of plastiky looking, boring black stuff that is put out there now. 

Maybe one reason we see so much black and not the silver, smooth, glowing anodization we used to see is that there has to be a lot of polishing done to the surface to gain that smooth, chrome-like look. If you are a fan of Velocity stuff, you may know they charge a not insignificant fee for the polished look. Similarly, these HED wheels cost more due to the silver polished appearance. So, from that standpoint, I get why black is all we see, but I am willing to bet that many people would be willing to pay the price if the latest stuff was offered in silver- and if it looked classy- not like some art project gone wrong. 

Public Service Announcement: 
It was brought to my attention this past week via social media that some people missed that I am no longer producing, putting on, or devising events for people to come ride. 
I decided to retire from those endeavors since I was put into a spot during 2020 where the pandemic kind of took all of those old habits of producing events off my plate. I had no choice, really. I couldn't in good conscious put on any sort of an event. 
This in turn led to many miles of riding alone, contemplating my life, amongst other things. After some time went by, I came to realize that I was enjoying riding my bicycles a lot more. I wasn't thinking about events or what they demanded from me to put on. I didn't have deadlines to meet. I didn't have loose ends to tie up. I could just ride my bicycles. turns out I had a lot more fun doing that than I had been having recently with regard to events production. 
I realized I had been doing this- putting together routes and events- for 15+ years. That's a long time to have a lot on your mind. I figured I had done my best to give a lot of folks an experience. Experiences that I hope made a difference in their lives. But I had to call an end to it once I realized that it was just time to turn the page on that part of my life. I was an event director, a 'race director', if you will. I've done that. I don't need to keep pushing into that as I've accomplished a lot of goals for myself, learned loads, and pretty much have mined that vein out. Now I will be turning to other challenges. 
So, if you missed coming to one of my events over the years, but always wanted to 'someday', well, let this be a lesson. There is no "Someday". That is a myth constructed to make you miss out on growing and doing. (See yesterday's post!) There is only "Today", and if the opportunities of Today are there, there is no guarantee that they will be in the future. Best to grab that bull by the horns and go do it. Everyone is different in this respect, so I cannot say anything specific for you. Just don't put "it" off, whatever that "it" is for you.

That's it for this week. Have a safe and active weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

You Don't Know What You Got- 'Till You Look!

Faded to a light pewter, these Dura Ace hubs are old!
 There are those things which you have laying about that, you know, when you see them you say.....'you'll get to that someday' to yourself and then you don't. Get to them, that is. Well, I aimed to knock one of those items off the "I'll get to it someday" list the other day. That item would be the rebuilding of some old Dura Ace hubs from their old place in a 27" wheel set to a brand new set of rims and spokes. 

Originally the plan was to utilize some old 650B rims I had hanging in the Lab for years, They weren't tubeless ready, nor were they of any special import. Just pedestrian, old, 650B clincher rims in silver. I figured to build them onto these Dura Ace hubs and then try to convert my 1977 Trek to 650B wheels. Maybe even going single speed. 

Well, the first order of business was to retrieve the old wheels with the Dura Ace hubs from out in the garage. Once that had been done I cut out the front hub, then I cleaned that hub up a bit since it was covered in dust. I found that the black anodization had faded to a silvery pewter color. Nice! The grease is dried up, of course, but with a little TLC these hubs will work quite nicely. 

Okay, a break from that now, time to look at these forlorn 650B rims. They were on a hook but pushed back since I had tires hanging there which I hadn't used in years. Huh! Looky there! The pair of Challenge Gravel Grinder tires I had been running in 2014. There were a pair of Panaracer Pasela 38mm tires too, which I had reviewed for my old 'Gravel Grinder News' site. That had to have been in 2013. So, those rims had been there way before those tires got hung up. Been a while, right? Yes........

You can see how much the ano has faded by looking next to the grease zert cover.
So, I get to the rims. They have never been laced, judging by the shrink wrap still on the outer circumference of the hoops. I gently removed them from the hook, looked at the label, and then my jaw dropped. These weren't what I thought they were at all! Nope! I had completely forgotten all about having these hoops. These must have been a trade or I purchased them from a co-worker back at the old shop- or I bought them new(?), not sure. They had the old shop's stickers on them. Edit: I think I remember now! I had an old LeJuene road racer for a bit that I was going to re-lace the wheels on, but I traded the bike back to my old boss before I got that far. Here's an old post from 2013 explaining it all. So, I would have purchased these rims as new.

Oh! You are wondering what they are, no doubt. Well, they are NOS Salsa Delgado Cross rims. 36 hole drillings, just like the hubs. Not 650B at all! I don't know what happened to the old 650B rim set. Must have gifted them to someone else. Anyway...

The Delgado Cross is a rim brake design, so perfect for the old Trek. I can lace these things up and have a perfect single speed set of rim brake wheels for that bike now. Cool! Even the old school 126mm spacing will be perfect as it is a match between the hubs and frame. 

I have had wider tires on this frame before, so I know that will work out. I will strip off all the original geared stuff and just keep the brakes, which also cleared the bigger tires. The old Panaracer Pasela tires will likely go on this, as they have tan wall side walls and should look good against the green frame. Which brings me to that......the color. It isn't that I don't like the green it is painted in. No, it is just that the paint is flaking off and in bad shape. This bike could use a good powder coating. 

If I do that, I think I'd opt for a nice turquoise blue, or sky blue hue. I've always wanted a bike in that shade of blue, but going the powder coat route adds costs. We'll see..... First things first! Build the wheels! 

Stay tuned......