Saturday, December 31, 2022

Looking Forward: 2023

Now that all the "Rear View" stuff has been posted and now that 2022 is over, it is time to look forward to a new year. 2023 is coming and what will this time bring to me? As ever, one cannot really say for certain.

But before I delve into my thoughts for the coming year, I want to make sure that you understand that I am very thankful for each and every one of you that stop by to read this blog. Many of you tell me it is your first read of the day, and that is truly humbling to know. Many of you tell me that you read the blog and appreciate the work and information I provide. This means the world to me. So- Thank You! Without your reading here, and without your encouraging comments, I have to wonder if I'd have stopped doing this long ago now. I think the answer to that is "yes"- I would have stopped. So I appreciate all of you, even if you've never commented before. 

Okay, now what about this coming year? Well, I am not going to push for much new stuff on my plate because I didn't get around to doing a lot of what I wanted to in 2022. For instance, I didn't get a metric century, or a century ride in at all. That's really disappointing to me. However; I had family duties to take care of, a new job that is immensely rewarding, but one that really imposed on my times to ride, and overall, circumstances prevailed against my getting those long rides in. 

So, for 2023, as far as riding goes, my main goals are to make that long ride happen. At least once! And taking a step toward that first, perhaps I can then build upon that. I can tell you that one major event has occurred that will free up some time and that is that my son can drive now. So, there is hope for 2023. 

One of those rides I want to do is a two-day tour which I would do from my home, stay overnight in another location, and then ride back the following day. It's about a 150 mile round trip, as I have it mapped out. Stay tuned on that one...

I missed doing a Death Ride altogether in 2022. That hasn't happened in many a year! So, I'd like to pick back up on that again in 2023. But as far as events go, I am afraid that monetarily and time-wise those sorts of things are off my plate. I just cannot afford to be gone on Saturdays too much and travel expenses are not in my budget anymore, and probably won't be for the foreseeable future. So, I'll be riding pretty much "hyper-local" for the near term. 

The Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame is having the inaugural class of inductees be part of the selection process for the next class of inductees. I guess that means me! I have already been told about how the process will work and that this should be all over with soon, at least as far as my part in that goes. I think how this process looks as far as how inductees are chosen is moving forward is interesting and should help keep the future of the GCHoF relevant for years to come. There could be a trip to Emporia connected to this. We'll see.....

Looking ahead with optimism on starting my 18th year of blogging.

As for the blog, well, this year I finished the "Trans Iowa Series" and I still have not yet begun to know, or have any concept for what to do with that material. So far I have had no real inspiration for where to go with all of that stuff. Any suggestions would be appreciated, because as of now, I cannot see a resolution to my quandary there. 

Obviously the "GTDRI Stories", the tales of the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational, have taken the place of those Trans Iowa stories, and so far I am up to the fifth one out of the 14 total GTDRI's. So, it may be that this series lasts all throughout 2023. I may make it to the end before the end of the year, but I bet I won't. 

In terms of posts this was another "top-five" year in terms of numbers of posts written. Look at the side bar of this blog and you can see for yourself. Again- I cannot promise you daily scribes, but I probably will do that, as long as I can. Another 'top-five' effort? Ah.....well, you never know!

In other blog news, back in November of this year, a certain email I received kind of made me think. The person who sent the email was "amazed you haven't monetized this blog after 18 years". Ha ha! Well, for starters, they cannot count, because it has not been 18 years- yet! But this raises an important point for me to bring up concerning this blog and your enjoyment of it. 

This blog will never be monetized. You will never see sponsored posts, advertisements, or spam here. 

I promise you that, and for anyone wondering why I wouldn't grab whatever cash I could for all this work, well, you see, that was never my intention when I started this blog. So, 'nuff said. I just wanted to get that off my mind. 

Paul Jacobson standing on a road from the T.I.v5 course.
So, what exactly does keep you going all these years? That's easy- I have a need to write and share things. That's number one, most likely.

But when I receive messages, like the one from this past February from Paul Jacobson, letting me know that Trans Iowa v5 was one of his biggest lifetime achievements, and that being a thing he felt so strongly about that he actually stopped on a trip to take an image on the old course back on a cold February day? Well, that's the kind of thing I get motivated by. 

When I receive unasked for and completely unexpected monetary gifts, I get motivated to keep on keepin' on. And that sort of thing has happened in a very significant way. 

Now, I want to add that I don't expect this to make anyone feel that they have to do anything on my behalf. That's not the point here. The point is that I wanted to illustrate why I keep writing this blog for no worldly reward that one might expect me to pursue, at least some people like that e-mailer from November. But that person doesn't understand me. 

No, I don't write all this stuff for reasons of making money. I do it because I want to do it, it is fun for me, and I get encouragement to keep doing it that has deeper meaning than receiving a small amount of money because someone clicked through an ad on my blog. Not that this ever happened, or ever will, it's simply a statement for illustration. 

All that to say that you can pretty much expect 2023 on here to look a whole lot like years previous. So, no big changes are in store that I can foresee. (Note: The "State of the Gravel Scene" will be posted tomorrow and the next day as well.)

Happy New Year! 

Peace and Love!

Guitar Ted

Friday, December 30, 2022

Friday News And Views

 The Final FN&V Of 2022!

Well, take a sip of that coffee and congratulate yourself for making it through another entire year of the 'FN&V", your weekly, end-of-week review of news, thoughts, and opinions here on "Guitar Ted Productions".

I've cooked up a special one for y'all today, so I hope that you enjoy this. But first, a bit of trivia concerning this staple of my blog over the years. 

This wasn't planned to be on Fridays. In fact, I think a 'news and views' type of post has appeared on every day but Sunday here on this blog since 2005. The Friday slot wasn't a weekly thing until recently, in terms of this blog, as well, which may surprise some of you. 

But now the "FN&V" has become, on average, the most read post I do every week. There are posts that get a lot more hits than my Friday missives, but on average, more of you dear readers are here today than any other day of the week. So, a tip-o-the-cup to your reading neighbors and cheers! 

New Site Seeks To Be Gravel Event Calendar Hub:

Back in 2008 I was asked by readers of this blog to start a "gravel event calendar", which I did, hosting it on the sidebar of this very blog throughout 2008. There weren't many events back then!

But things changed, I started a calendar in 2009 on a separate site, that morphed into the Riding Gravel Events Calendar in 2014, and by 2019 I had over 600 events which I had listed on the site, most of which I had researched and found out about on my own time. That's right, I would estimate that less than ten percent of those 600+ events were submitted to be on that old calendar.

As you might imagine then, I was very busy with updating that calendar throughout the year. It took probably ten hours a week to maintain it. That's on top of doing all the other stuff I did. It wasn't tenable, and when COVID came along, I took the cue to stop and that was that. Along the way I made a great resource for many for several years. I unwittingly also contributed to some other 'gravel oriented sites' calendars as well, with many of my event descriptions getting copied and pasted word for word into these other "calendar of events".

That's why when I came across this last week that I smiled. I wish this man good will and fortunes on his efforts. It won't be easy, or very sustainable, to simply rely on submissions and word of mouth to get events put on that calendar. (Ask anyone who has compiled events about that) Especially when sites like BikeReg are a de-facto event calendar with major reach and influence. That's why I'd be shocked if this "Gravel Calendar" isn't drawing dates off BikeReg,, or the massive Gran Fondo gravel calendar of the way.

 The calendar is also probably getting data from its partners. The Gravel Calendar has partnered with the Gravel Cyclist website and the Pure Gravel site to "help bolster their calendars", which I take to mean that they are sharing information across their websites to gather more events. That should ease things a tiny bit.

Again- best of luck to all involved. 

Dream Engine in steel (Image courtesy of Wilde Bikes)

Wilde Bikes Introduces The "Dream Engine" In Steel, Titanium:

In case you missed this last week, Wilde Bikes debuted a new "Fargo-like" adventure bike dubbed the Dream Engine. The bike, available as a frame set or built to various spec, is going to be offered in steel and titanium

Interestingly, the bike uses a Cutthroat carbon fork by Salsa Cycles, further tying the comparison to the venerable Fargo, which itself is offered in steel and titanium versions. 

These Dream Engine bikes have clearance for 29" X 2.6" tires. The frames also feature stealth dropper routing, and all the accessory mounting points that you would expect on an adventure bike nowadays. Prices are $2,600.00 for the steel frame set and $4,900.00 for the titanium frame set, both coming with custom Jen Green head tube badges. 

Dream Engine in titanium (Image courtesy of Wilde Bikes)

Comments: Well, I have to admit that these are beautiful and well executed examples of a bike with the Fargo influence. They are US built, (but the presser doesn't say by whom), so the pricing is understandable. You are going to pay a premium price for what is essentially a small batch custom frame. 

My only beef with this bike's design is that it cannot be single speed due to the lack of any tensioning system being designed into the frame. (You could use an eccentric bottom bracket, I suppose.) I know, big whoop! You probably are not a single speeder. But you do not have to have a desire to be a one gear person to appreciate the ability to single speed a bike if the derailleur gets destroyed in an incident while you are miles away from anything. 

To my way of thinking, self-extraction from your situation is a prized attribute, and having that ability in a frame set which could be a single speed is a good thing to have in your back pocket, you know, just in case. You may never use that feature, but then again, you may have to. 

So, for that singular reason I would pass on this choice. You are spending a lot of coin to have a bike without a feature that, in my opinion, is a definite "must have" for an off-pavement adventure. Too bad too, it is a beautiful bike. As a gravel pounder? Yeah....I could live without that single speed thing, but not if I am going way off the beaten track. 

Big Changes In Store For Shimano Components?

 Last Thursday I noted a Tweet far down in a thread I was involved in that perked up my ears. It was written by noted cycling journalist, Carlton Reid, who is from the U.K. and has a lot of connections in the cycling business world. In that Tweet, he drops a hint that could signal big changes coming in terms of Shimano group sets in the future.

The context for this Tweet was that "model years" for bicycles are a poor idea, but Shimano, who pretty much steers the ship from behind a curtain when it comes to industry practices, dictates that a model year change shall exist. It does this by introducing new component features and new components nearly every year in March, generally speaking, although Shimano has made introductions in the Fall as well in the past. 

These announcements are years in the making. Component manufacturers and bicycle brands are privy to what is coming out, so that spec can be solidified and parts can be accumulated for production before the public knows about the "new stuff' coming. This is why Mr. Reid probably has some knowledge of what is about to be introduced in March. Someone or another passed along some rather big news along to him, which I believe Mr. Reid is hinting at in his Tweet here.

Another Piece To The Puzzle:

On Friday last week, a few news sources were showing a patent drawing filed by Shimano dated November 2022 that showed a design for a 9 tooth sprocket and lockring. Shimano currently does not support 9 tooth sprockets.  

What Could It Mean? Knowing what I know about Shimano, this has probably got something to do with a complete overhaul of either road components, mountain components, or both simultaneously. I doubt they change GRX, but..... Maybe. 

Does this signal a new standard for free hubs? I would guess that it does, but will Shimano make this compatible with MicroSpline, the newer MTB free hub format they introduced a few years ago? My inclination is that yes- All Shimano rear wheels from 2023 forward will be MicroSpline, 9 tooth cassette compatible. 

That opens up a LOT of possibilities on every front. 1X gravel, MTB, adventure wide range gearing, etc. 13 and 14 speed groups. I know Shimano has had working 14 speed prototype groups since before 2010, so it is not a pipe dream to say that we're headed in that direction.

 Shimano isn't going to produce "new-name" group sets without there being some pretty big changes in those mechanisms. GRX is a new group, relatively speaking, so it would surprise me if they rebrand that after such a short period. But if wholesale changes in either road or MTB happen I could see where that might warrant a new name(s). And Mr. Reid says "several group sets", so I expect a whole nomenclature for group-sets to be retired.

Would that mean no more Dura-Ace, or Ultegra? Or would that mean no more XT or Deore? It's hard to fathom that that sort of legacy would be retired, but reading the Tweet, I don't see any other way to interpret that. (Unless it is an additional group set, but that's not how I read the Tweet)  I guess we will find out in March, won't we? 

Well, that's a wrap on Friday News And Views for today, and for 2022! Once again, THANK YOU for reading these and I'll be back again next week with the start of another year of FN&V posts!

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Bikes Of 2022: Pofahl Custom Signature

  It's the end of the year and time to review what's up with the bikes I used over the course of 2022. You'll get a brief overview, any changes made, and what the future has in store for each bike listed. Enjoy!

The Pofahl Custom Signature single speed I have had since 2007 was a strange idea I had for a 29"er based off my Karate Monkey single speed. It never would have seen the light of day had it not been for Ben Witt who pretty much put me and Mike Pofahl together to get this project done. 

The bike was always going to be a single speed, so there are no provisions for a rear or a front derailleur. There is only a full run housing stop circuit for the rear brake. 

In recent times this has become a favorite for longer single speed gravel travels. I wish I would have had the foresight to have had Mike put on fork mounted bottle cage bosses, but I have managed to get by with a seat post mounted bottle and Chaff Bags from Bike Bag Dude used as bottle holders as well. I've been running a set of Industry 9 tubeless compatible wheels on this for several years now and other than that, not much has been swapped out on this bike. 

I did score a 27.0mm USE seat post for this bike since it has that oddball size. I don't ever expect my original 1990's era Syncros to give up the ghost on me, but you never know, and 27.00mm posts are hard to come by in anything that doesn't weigh a ton and that is not a cheap replacement grade. 

And the only thing I can add about this bike is that I really love to ride it. I am glad I got it out in the country the few times that I have this past year. Hopefully that continues in 2023.

Bikes Of 2022: Black Mountain Cycles Monstercross

It's the end of the year and time to review what's up with the bikes I used over the course of 2022. You'll get a brief overview, any changes made, and what the future has in store for each bike listed. Enjoy!

Another 'long hauler' of my bicycle fleet, the Black Mountain cycles "Monstercross" I have came out of the very first batch of frames Mike Varley made available back in 2011. Due to that fact, my bike has a bit different geometry and a bit different front fork than many Monstercross bikes that came later on. 

That made this bike not the greatest on really loose gravel on high speed descents. I mean, you could ride it, but it was sketchy and didn't feel as planted and stable as I'd like a bike to be in that situation. So, the BMC "Orange Crush", as I like to call it, became a bit of a conundrum for me. I liked the bike, but it wasn't the best at gravel in my region. 

But after reverting back to single speed use, and after installing 180mm long cranks, which made me lower the saddle a tad, effectively negating that high bottom bracket to a small degree, I think that this bike has found its niche in my stable.

Then later this past Summer this bike became a part of a handle bar swap with the Fargo Gen I bike. It also brought the BMC "Orange Crush" back full circle to its beginnings here. Here's how it all started....

In 2014, late in the year, I had a bad fall on ice which was the second bad fall on my left shoulder that year. I really did a number on it and on my left side of my rib cage. In fact, early on during the 2015 riding season I determined that I pretty much had to ride a Luxy Bar or a Midge Bar as they were the only two handle bars I could use that allowed me to ride for more than about an hour. Otherwise my shoulder would ache so badly that I had to stop riding. 

That meant a bar swap for the Fargo Gen I to a Luxy Bar and my other green Gen 2 Fargo got a Midge Bar, as those were my "long haul gravel bikes" for 2015, for the most part. (Also, come to think of it, I got hit by a truck on the 2014 GTDRI as well, which may have contributed to all of this)

Anyway, I never swapped the bars back off the Gen I Fargo and the Gen 2 Fargo was sold. I decided that the old BMC would someday get Luxy Bars again, but it did not happen until I had to review a Kitchen Sink Bar Bag on the Gen I Fargo this Summer. That freed up the Luxy Bar I needed and that ended up on the Orange Crush. Whew! Sometimes things take a long time to work out around here! 

As far as any other changes I might want to upgrade things like the brakes and get a single speed specific rear wheel going for this bike. But it is fine as it is, really. So, I may just let it go.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Rear View 2022: Top Ten Posts Of 2022

 Last year I posted concerning the top posts of the past year. I thought it was another fun way to look back over the year via the perspective of what caught the reader's attention here. 

So, I thought it would be fun to rank the Top Ten posts from the blog during the calendar year 2022. These posts are ranked according to what Blogger stats tell me were the most read posts of the year. 

I'll start with #10 and work up to #1. Each post will be linked so you can go back and read it if you so choose. Then I will comment a bit on each post. 

 #10: Two Things For Today 

This made the top ten, which really surprised me because this was just a really disjointed post about two completely different subjects. I almost dubbed it a "Randomonium" post, but I only had two things to discuss, so there ya go- That's how the post was entitled. 

The Specialized gravel bike has since been panned pretty hard by those on social media, and as far as the article I linked and discussed, well, that has been a hot topic of discussion all year. I'm not sure which part of the article drove the numbers here, but judging from the comments, I'd say it was the bike in this case.  

#9: (Tie) Country Views: Focusing On The Good & Not The Bad and Country Views: Red, White, & Blue Ride

Now this was a complete surprise to me for this year. Not only has a "Country Views" post never been on the Top Ten Posts list before, but I also have never had two posts tie each other for views. 

I guess I shouldn't be surprised though, because I have heard from several of you readers that have told me that these posts are some of your favorites that I write up. (See the end of the "Top Ten Posts of 2020" for a reference) While that may have always been true for many of you, I am guessing that many more of you are deciding that is the case as well, because the numbers of views has been going higher for these posts. 

#8: Trans Iowa Stories: Acknowledgements & Credits

Posting a single view more than the two tied at #9, this was the only Trans Iowa related post to have ever made this Top Ten List. Not all that surprising since none of the Trans Iowa Stories posts ever drew that many views. But this one? It out-did the others by six times the views on average. Why? I wondered about that for several weeks as I saw the numbers for this post climb. 

I think, and this is only a guess, that this particular post was a synopsis of the entire series. A 'condensed history', if you will, and I feel that my listing of all the important checkpoint towns was somewhat interesting for many of you. (Note: We went through many more towns and villages than what I listed there.) Obviously all the names associated with the event was another interesting point for many, I would think.

But whatever! It sticks in as the #8th most read post of 2022.  

#7: Country Views: Boulders, Flowers, & Birds 

Another Country Views post! Again, a Summer post and I noted that the the three Country View posts that made this year's list were all in the Summertime of 2022. Did that make a difference? I don't understand, really, so who knows?

This would end up being the highest drawing post of its type for 2020, but all three were within four views of each other! how odd is THAT?!  

#6: A Comparison & Contrast: GPS Computer Experiences

Uggh! Okay, I admit up front that I have issues with interfacing with 'technology'. (Just ask Mrs. Guitar Ted) So, when it comes to GPS computers for cycling, my experiences perhaps are not all that representative of the masses. That said, I feel that a lot of technology misses the boat when it comes to user experiences, and this is not limited to cycling computers. 

So, this post must have resonated with a lot of you out there as well,since it slots in at #5 for the most read posts of 2022.  

#5: Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame: The Induction & After-Party

Not much of a surprise here, as the GCHoF thing was the biggest thing that happened to me all year, and obviously it was of great interest to my readers as well. Makes sense to me that this would end up on the list somewhere. 

This day was a really surreal experience, and even after six months, I find it hard to believe it happened. I still have trouble contextualizing this deal. What does being in this organization or being recognized in this way even mean for me? I don't know. 

So, while it was indeed the "biggest thing" to have happened to me all year, I also think it is "not that life-changing" either. At least, not yet it hasn't been. So, I have mixed feelings about it all right now. But the experience's documentation ranks as #5 on the most read posts for 2022. 

#4: Guitar Ted's Massive, Huge Flared Drop Bar Review 

Flared drop bars have been a subject for posts on my blog since the early days of blogging here. I figured that there might be some interest in my collection of flared drops and the history of this type of handle bar since the year 2000.  

I had fun doing the post and it would seem that, judging by the numbers this post is still drawing, that readers find it interesting. I would not at all be surprised that later on this would end up becoming #2 or perhaps even #1 on this list in the years and months to come, but for now it resides at a solid #4 on this list.

#3: A Twofold Anniversary: The Story Of The Warbird & A Disclaimer

Appearing as the number three most read post for 2022 is this one that I had been anticipating on writing for quite sometime. The whole "gloppy dollops" thing comes up a lot when I write my opinions for this blog. I knew that the ten year anniversary of the beginning of that disclaimer's usage was coming up this year. I figured that the story behind all of that would be of interest to many of you readers. I guess I was correct in thinking that.

But I also think that a lot of people have forgotten what the original Warbird model was all about, so the telling of that part of this story may have been the actual draw here. Just think what may have happened had Salsa decided to offer a Warbird back then in steel instead of aluminum and if they had allowed for bigger tires. I think the whole trajectory of the gravel scene may have been altered had that happened.

But it didn't, so that's the story and I'm sticking to it! 

#2: More Cleaning Up & A Favor To Ask

Well, you never know what people will read here, and this post is evidence of that as it was a pretty random post to end up at #2 for 2022. I was writing about having a big scrap pile to wade through at the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective, which was my brand new job at that time in February when I posted this one. 

But apparently the donation of a Sarto carbon fiber frame and fork was the draw for this post. I have no reason to believe that it wasn't, because the first part of the post was pretty mundane. I will tell you that we ended up selling the frame and fork for a song, so if you did not contact me about that, and thought maybe you should have, should have! 

Anyway, I feel like this is a very strange post to have ended up so high on the list, or to be on it at all. Weird! 

#1: The Bicycle Retail & Service Model Is Ripe For Disruption

And with the #1 slot, this post was - by far and away - the top read post here all year long.  I'll be honest here and tell you that I am immensely proud that this post ended up #1. It also - again - points out the absurdity of the previous #2 post being #2. makes no sense to me! 

 But back to the post at hand here- This post is important, and not because I wrote it, but because it is pretty much going to be reality. I really don't think that is 'my opinion' either. Something has to give, and I feel that if all the things I detailed out in that post come true, and at the same time we take off a laser focus on automobile infrastructure and importance, we could literally change the world. 

Wouldn't THAT be cool? 

To Summarize 2022's Posts: Overall 2022 has seen bigger numbers for views here. Typically a post scores a certain amount of views, and has for several years here, but for whatever reasons, 2022 saw an uptick. I also can tell you that all the posts on this year's Top Ten List outperformed, on average, any of the rest of the year's posts by 3 to 4 times. 

Looking at all of that, 2022 was a banner year here on Guitar Ted Productions, and all of those views and successes are due to you, the readers. 'Thank you' doesn't even come close to expressing the gratitude I have for your patronizing this site throughout 2022 and for all the years this blog has existed. But that's all I have other than my promise to all of you that I will do my level best in 2023 to keep up the standards I have set, and hopefully higher, for my work here. 

Stay tuned for a look at what I think is to come for 2023.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Bikes Of 2022: Raleigh Tamland Two

  It's the end of the year and time to review what's up with the bikes I used over the course of 2022. You'll get a brief overview, any changes made, and what the future has in store for each bike listed. Enjoy!

The Raleigh Tamland Two. Yeah..... You all know this bike if you've been here any amount of time at all since 2014. 

That was when I bought mine at employee discount from a former bike shop job I had. There isn't much here that is original to the bike anymore other than the seat collar, the rear derailleur, the crankset, and the main frame. 

I just switched to a carbon set of wheels, my Irwin Aon Carbon 35's, to be exact, and I think I've swapped out the handle bar this year and installed new handle bar tape. The carbon wheels are a nice upgrade and something I should have done a long time ago. 

This bike was to have been retired three years ago now. Guess not, eh?

I probably won't be changing much on this bike besides the obvious wear items. I have a TRP Hydro braking system on there now which may end up getting retired and see me going back to TRP Spyre brakes or something cable actuated hydraulic. We'll see. No hurry on any of that.

Other than that, this bike keeps reminding me about how it represents what a gravel bike/all-road geometry is about. I see press releases a lot and many for gravel bikes that have so-called "modern" or "radical" geometry for a gravel bike. I check out the geometry charts, and unless they are designs derived from current state of the art mountain bike numbers, they are almost all very similar to, or not even as pushed forward, as the Tamland's. 

When I got this bike in 2014, it was one of the rare choices that was "gravel specific". Now in 2022/23, it still stands tall when compared against the hordes of bicycles called "gravel bikes". A bike ahead of its time?

It would seem so, and it isn't going out of style anytime soon, it would appear.

Bikes Of 2022: Noble Bikes GX5

 It's the end of the year and time to review what's up with the bikes I used over the course of 2022. You'll get a brief overview, any changes made, and what the future has in store for each bike listed. Enjoy!

The Noble Bikes GX5 started out as a review bike for back in 2019. For some odd reason it seems that I've had this bike longer than that, but there it is. 2019 was when it showed up here. 

Of course, that means that the Standard Disclaimer applies to this bike. I realize how fortunate I am to have a bicycle of this caliber available for me to ride. trust me, I think about that often as I would not have been eyeing a carbon fiber bike had it not been for this rig appearing in my life. 

Also, it is by extension, an evolution of the bike I advised Raleigh to make in 2012, as Mark Landsaat, the owner of Noble Bikes, was one of the engineers on the Raleigh Tamland project and took those ideas to use on the GX5. The Tamland and GX5 are almost identical in terms of geometry. So, it stands to reason that I'd have a liking for the GX5 and to be honest, it is probably right up there in terms of my favorites of all the bikes I've had. 

The GX5 as it stands today.

I've also swapped out everything on this bike except the head set. It was a SRAM bike when I received it, but now it is a Shimano GRX equipped bike. The seat post, bars, saddle, and even the bottom bracket are all different from when I got this bike here. 

Changes? there may be several, or hardly any at all. This kind of depends upon the whims of what comes in for review at The Noble is my "test mule" for the site, so this is why it gets all these new parts on it all the time. 

For a carbon fiber bike, it is holding up pretty well, I think, but I also know that at some point it will need replacing. I've been keeping an eye out for replacements, actually, because you just never know with a carbon bike when it might fail due to impacts from rocks, or worse! But the reality is that it probably will be here next year for this same rundown of my bikes. Because I love riding it, and I see no reason now why I would stop riding it.

Stay tuned for more Bikes Of 2022 soon!

Monday, December 26, 2022

Rear View 2022: Top 12 Images Of 2022

 The 12 best images from the blog for 2022 as chosen by me, Guitar Ted. All decisions are final! (HA!) Not that this is a contest, but I have my opinion which may or may not align with yours. Here they are listed in order from January onward and a couple may have some commentary to go with them. Enjoy! 

January: A birthday ride on my Blackborow DS

February: Drift hunting East of Waterloo on the BMC MCD

March: Visiting "The Big Rock" of Big Rock Road on the Tamland Two

April: Was this the last go-round for the "Careless Whispers"? I'm not sure yet...

May: Solo ride. Late planting.

June: N.Y. Roll organized a "Hall of Fame" ride to honor my GCHoF induction.

July: Day lillies in full-force on Young Road at Canfield Road.

August: Looking East down Bennington Road.

September: It was unusually dry

October: From the 'annual Fall Green Belt ride' I do

November: A rare day out in the country

December: Recording a podcast at N.Y. Roll's home.

That's a wrap on the images from the blog for 2022! As always, thank you for checking these out and for stopping by at Guitar Ted Productions.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas!

I hope that you all enjoy the day in Peace!

Be Blessed!

Guitar Ted

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Rear View 2022: Fall And Beginning Of Winter

Hello! it's time again to review the year on Guitar Ted Productions. The "Rear View" has been a staple of the blog since almost the very beginning. This year there will be five Rear View posts looking back on Winter's End, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter's Beginning. I'll also have a post looking ahead at 2023 near the end of the month. Enjoy the look back and thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

October: I started out the month doing a bit of camp stove testing which led to a great little ride where I stopped and made myself some coffee. I hadn't done anything like that in probably ten years or more, and it was fun. I may have to reprise that during Winter from the platform of a fat bike. 

Riding was sparse. The schedule hadn't changed and it was supposed to have done that in August, which would have opened up the possibility of using a couple other weekdays as options for longer rides. 

When I did get out I was testing/reviewing something for, so it wasn't all just for fun, besides that coffee ride and a Fall ride which I do every year to see the Fall colors in the Green Belt. They weren't that great this year, but elsewhere in the community Fall colors were spectacular for 2022. Go figure...

Coffee with a view. I'll try to do more of this in the future.

Podcasting with N.Y. Roll kept on being done and we were using his home to podcast from, which worked out well enough. Later in the month I started looking for a new light unit for the Ti Mukluk and I ended up with a new Schmidt Edelux II which I sourced from Angry Catfish in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

November: Well, due to sickness at the end of the month, a turn for the worse in weather mid-month, and the aforementioned scheduling issues, I got even less riding in than ever. The work on bicycles kind of took up some of that time I would have otherwise been riding. I got the light all buttoned up for the Ti Mukluk and later in the month I did a refresh on the Gen I Fargo. Otherwise it was all work, rest, and hardly any play for me. It made for a not-very-exciting month, in terms of riding, for the blog. I did manage to get out of town once early in the month during our first bout with snow to gather bikes from WeCycle in Ames for the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective. Again, more podcasting was done with N.Y. Roll at his home. 

A day out....finally! This was the last day of decent weather and the first day I felt well enough to ride in December.

December: The month of November ended, as told already, and the beginning of December kicked off with me having a pretty bad head cold. It was one of those deals that kept me off the bike for a good three weeks, at least as far as any adventuring was concerned. I did continue to commute by bicycle to work and back. I put on another Cold Weather Clinic at the Collective the second week of the month. I got a couple good podcast recordings up, so the new production/distribution scheme is working well so far. Finally, around the middle of the month I felt well enough to get a last ride out in the country done before Winter roared in and shut everything down for the last two weeks of the month. 

The set-up for Winter on the Blackborow DS.

In fact we reached "Deep Winter" a bit early with a big storm that sent temperatures plummeting to well below zero for over 48 hours. That hasn't happened in a while! And now it is headed to the 40's and rain? What a year in weather!

Blog Stuff: I did get a lot of good reactions from posts I wrote during this time period. I did a "How-To" for rear derailleur adjustments. I also wrote a couple of opinion pieces, on gravel racing, of course, that were well received. I shared my cold weather riding tips which was a thing prompted by a cold weather riding clinic I did in November for the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective. News was posted about the nominations for the next class of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame, which was opened for the month of November. 

I announced another Virtual Turkey Burn Ride challenge which, due to that aforementioned wicked head cold, I could not participate in! But I did get one submission from Spain, which blew me away. But only two people submitted ride reports, which kind of was a disappointment. Of course, the year closed out with all of this End Of Year nonsense! Don't worry. I'll be back on track in January again. 

GT holding Erik Mathy's camera in Emporia, KS Image by Karen Jarchow

One Final Look Back...... As I was doing all of this "End of Year" stuff I came across my post about traveling down to the induction ceremonies for the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame. Besides all of that being such a strange experience, the following quote made me think: 

 "What a crazy day! What a crazy life! What would the evening bring? Well, I was ready to get on with the thing, so I jumped up and headed out on my own two feet. All the time being alone there. It just felt really weird. Did anyone really care? I felt a little bit like this was going to be kind of a bummer ride."

 This made me think about how none of the things I do - or that anyone does - in Life mean squat without people to share it with. Had no one interacted with me that evening, it would have really been a depressing evening, I mean- who really cares about a hall of fame for gravel and whether or not I am in it?

What matters then? That we have relationships with each other. That we show we care about those people we have relationships with. It matters how we all get along and encourage each other. That happened that night in Emporia, thankfully, and I came away with a full heart.

And I need to thank all of you. Those of you that come back again and again to read this blog. I thank you and encourage you today. Without the feedback and responses I get from you dear readers, this would seem like something that didn't matter, this blog. And it doesn't, but the relationships and the ways we have connected here do mean a lot. 

Thanks for reading.

Merry Christmas!

Guitar Ted

Next Saturday: A Look Forward

Friday, December 23, 2022

Friday News And Views

SunTour S-1 Rear Derailleur. (Image courtesy of Disraeli Gears)
 Really Old Rear Derailleur Idea Gets Resurrected - Again!

Bicycle technology is a strange soup made up of really smart ideas cooked up in the late 19th/early 20th Centuries and reinvented as "new" ideas decades later. Today I have a fun one that popped up because Rene Herse came out with a "Nivex" rear derailleur recently, a design manufactured around 1935. Then it was infamously resurrected by SunTour in the early 1990's

The new RH remake looks to be made of a CNC'ed aluminum, although their site gives little information on it. The piece is manufactured partially in the USA and Taiwan. The derailleur necessitates the use of a chain stay braze-on to mount it, and a special shifter that pulls a continuous cable is also part of the system, but not included in the $729.00 price for the rear derailleur. 

Comments: I've worked on several of the SunTour examples. They were indexed at the derailleur for seven speed cassettes and free wheels, usually. This rear derailleur from RH will be friction, so it could work with many different speed systems. Its main benefit is that it remains tucked up and out of the way from trail debris and it is less likely to be bent, or cause a bent hangar due to its more robust, low profile mount. 

The Nivex rear derailleur. (Image courtesy of Rene Herse)

This particular RH example is, in my opinion, inferior to the SunTour model in that it relies on a CNC type manufacturing design which, in my experience and observation, is not as robust a way to manufacture a thing like a rear derailleur as the stamped metal construction that most S-1 rear derailleurs employed. RH says the Nivex (The name is derived from one of the original makers of this design in the early 20th Century) is rebuildable and spares will be available. Yep! That's what the 1990's CNC rear derailleurs had going for them as well. That doesn't help when you grenade a rear derailleur in the middle of nowhere. (I blew two 1990's examples up, so I know about that) 

Then there is the price tag. Considering that you may have to modify your steel frame (aluminum and carbon frame owners probably aren't going with this, but you could) and that you need a shifter to match up, this is going to send your little weirdo rear derailleur experiment over the 1K mark easily. Hmm..... Why?

You could just as easily do an old friction shifter and an old 1990's XT rear derailleur for peanuts and not have to mod a frame. Same experience, less cabbage. You decide.....

The route for the 2009 Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational
Asking For A Friend:

Recently a reader of this blog asked about the 2009 route for the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational which I spoke about in detail in this post recently. the request was whether or not there were cues or a gpx file for the route. 

Upon further inspection, I found 2/3rds of the original route, but what happened to the rest is a mystery. No matter, because I can recreate that with little problems. However; I also would modify the route to reflect the way that we did it in 2014/15 instead.

The reason being is that when the route starts out of Backbone State Park, the options for over nights and resupply make a lot more sense. Starting in the State Park allows you the option of camping there, and Backbone State Park is a very nice venue to start from, with amenities for showers, camping, cabin rentals, and stuff to do for support/family members that are not riding, if that is the case for you. 

It also puts you in Elkader around lunchtime, (if you start bright and early, as you should), and that village has several lunch options. Resupply towns fall in good places as well. You'd have Wadena, Volga, (admittedly not much there) and Elgin. Plus Garber, and just off course, Edgewood, although by that time you'd be so close to coming back through Strawberry Point you may as well stay the course. 

So, anyway... Any interest in me doing up the route again, making it available in gpx and in cue sheet forms? Let me know. I probably would do this on a free will donation basis, just so you know. Merry Christmas!

Velo Orange's eccentric bottom bracket.

Velo Orange Teases New EBB Option:

Sometimes you just have to simplify, but if that means going single speed for you, it may not be an option with your particular bike. Some companies in the past have recognized this fault of some frames to have any way to tension a chain for single speed use and have offered eccentric bottom brackets, or in the case of the ENO hub, an eccentric rear hub. 

Velo Orange sent out an email to its subscribers to their newsletter last Monday showing, amongst other future offerings, an eccentric bottom bracket. It works by utilizing outboard cups which are then set up with a pair of offset bearings. This allows for a 24mm spindled crank set, (typically Shimano), to be adjusted to tension a chain even if your bicycle has vertical drop outs or a rear through axle set up.  

I used a similar idea that was offered by Wheels Manufacturing to set up my Twin Six Standard Rando v2 as a single speed, only thing being that my bike had a PF-30 shell. The Velo Orange offering will work with a threaded BSA bottom bracket shell in 68mm or 73mm widths. So, for instance, I could get this and set up my Gen I Fargo as a single speed, or- I could use that bottom bracket to allow for a single speed bail-out option should I have a rear derailleur failure. 

This bottom bracket that VO is offering looks to be adjusted via the hexagonal shaped outer casing using a large wrench, I would assume. There seems to be what looks like a grub screw there which I would imagine sets the tension so the eccentric stays where you adjust it. No price has been revealed, but VO says that they expect these in for sale in late February, early March. 

Scott Bikes Debuts Solace eGravel Bike:

Scott bikes introduced a new electrified bicycle yesterday for gravel riding/racing called the Solace. Featuring a sleek, integrated motor and battery, the bike weighs in with zero accessories at 26.5lbs. It has great geometry, and it is claimed that it's new mid-motor has almost zero drag, so that if you had to go without the electrical assistance, it wouldn't feel draggy. It has a generous weight limitation of approximately 262lbs including rider and gear.

Comments: First, a question- Aren't electrified bicycles supposed to "get people who cannot/normally would not ride out riding? Aren't these bicycles supposedly here to improve the cycling experience for those who could not participate well, or at all, without electrification? 

Your answer to those questions should inform your opinion of this new bike. I would argue that this new Scott Solace does none of the things those questions seek to answer. 

First off, it costs over ten thousand dollars. Nuff said there, I think.

Secondly, its range for assistance, which admittedly can vary due to terrain, rider weight, etc, is very limited. One reviewer I read said that at 82K rider weight, he was only able to get twenty-seven miles before he ran out of battery, and that was with 900Ft of elevation gain. (!!!) 

Finally, the bike weighs over 26 pounds. Great for an electrified bike, but it is obvious that most of the time you are riding it won't be that sort of bike, especially if you like your rides to go for a few hours at a crack. So, spending 10k+ for that? 


That's a wrap for this week. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Bikes Of 2022: Black Mountain Cycles MCD

 It's the end of the year and time to review what's up with the bikes I used over the course of 2022. You'll get a brief overview, any changes made, and what the future has in store for each bike listed. Enjoy!

The Black Mountain Cycles MCD has been a staple on here since I got it back in 2018. I kind of thought of this bike as being my present for doing Trans Iowa all those years, and when the last Trans Iowa happened in 2018 I had this bike on order already. 

Since the initial build of the MCD, I have swapped in several other bits and accessories doing testing for Riding Gravel. (Standard Disclaimer) Much of what is on it now is from review work for the site, but the frame, fork, head set, bottom bracket, and the current handle bars are all parts and pieces I bought. 

In the relatively short time I've owned this bike I have had some great adventures on it. One adventure I was looking forward to having on this bike did not happen as planned due to scheduling conflicts, but I think that next year this bike will play a big part in a two-day adventure I have planned. Hopefully I can make that happen with some things that are happening now that should change the amount of time I should have to pull a two-day trip off like the one I have in mind.

Testing for a fully loaded gravel tour went well last Summer.

So, that will likely be a change in status for the MCD next year, at least for a while, as I reinstall the rack and perhaps I may look into putting a front rack on there as well. I tried it this past Summer with a bikepacking type handle bar roll and I wasn't digging the higher center of gravity that the weight had on the steering. I have some nice Jaand Mini Mountain panniers which would work well with a front rack, and that may end up becoming my set-up. Or not..... Anyway....

That and wheel swaps, testing and reviewing things, and just riding more is what will be in store for this bike soon. 

Stay tuned for more Bikes Of 2022 soon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Roller Cams On The Brain: Dorado Sherpa

'Nuthin' fancy! But it has roller cams!
 So, you may recall that I hinted around recently regarding the possibility of restoring/resto-modding an old mountain bike that I came across which was equipped with roller cam brakes. (You can read that post here if you want a reminder or missed it) Roller cams are odd-ball brakes but I find them fascinating and well......I just couldn't resist! 

So, I brought the thing home in pieces after inspecting it thoroughly and researching the frame and fork as much as I could. I didn't want to waste my time if it was going to be a bad foundation to work from. The bike had to have good bones first and foremost. I didn't need anything that would need major repairs or that was compromised by age and its accompanying rot and rust. 

I also did not want to be blinded to the facts that the bike had to (a) fit me and (b) have an end purpose to be worthy of working it up into a bicycle again. Roller cams are cool and all, but I don't need another bike, and roller cams are not enough to make me want to add a bike to the fleet. 

This thing seemed to pass all the test criteria I had. The frame seems to be a main triangle of 4130 CrMo steel, (or maybe its just a seat tube?) ,with high tensile stays. The fork is most likely a CrMo steel steer tube and high tensile fork uni-crown, but I could not find any specs to say one way or the other. So, it's no Ritchey, but I think it is good and high ten steel doesn't scare me. I toured on a high tensile steel fork and a frame that very likely had similar stays to this one I brought home. 

It's a true basket case!

Some of the spec on the bike will not be used in the finished product. I am leaning toward a resto-mod type build. My inclination is to convert it to a drop bar bike. But at any rate, I am not using the Sakae forged "bull-moose" stem because the OG handle bar, a steel one specially made for that stem, is pretty pitted out. 

The story here was that this bike sat in a barn for a long, long time. I had to be sure that this wasn't a bike that was rusted out or dinged up so badly from being kicked around that it had been compromised in some way. So, everything came apart and the first clue was that it came apart without a fuss. The visual inspection showed no signs of terminal damage. Just years of gronk on corners and a patina on the paint which can only be gained by sitting around for years. 

The welds and brazing all looked okay. there is paint there and it doesn't look all bubbled up or odd. It doesn't have the prettiest welds, but they are not terrible looking from what I can see. Speaking of paint, it is not in good shape. There has been a lot of scuffing, outright patches of paint scratched off, and it will need attention. 

It does have some pretty impressive investment cast rear drop outs which I found to be an oddity for a "budget" department store brand bike. (Costco, by the way). These rear drop outs have eyelets for rack and fenders, which plays into my purposes for the final build on this, by the way. 

Yes- That is a long steer tube!

The fork has low rider rack mounts, again something that plays into my designs for this project. I have my suspicions that this uses a BMX standard head set. I will have to do some finer measuring. That said, I see that good BMX threaded head sets are still a thing, so I could replace the one in this bike if need be. It's steel and pretty non-descript, so I am leaning on getting a replacement.

The triple crank set is in remarkable shape, and it looks little used, so that will probably go back on here. The free wheel is an old SunTour one, (of course it is), and so I think I will see if it can be revived, but I won't be broken hearted if I have to source a Shimano free wheel. Those old two-prong SunTour free wheels are not my favorites! 

Of course, the roller cams will be revived, it is kind of the point of the whole exercise, but not the deciding factor. Had the bike shown issues which I was not willing to, or could not address, I would have just bagged the brakes and sent the rest to the recycling bin. 

I haven't mentioned the wheels, but there were wheels with this bike. Old Suzue sealed bearing, nutted axle hubs. The bearings were pretty crappy, so those would have to be replaced. The rims are single wall, aluminum, silver anodized hoops that are not anything special. Additionally, I have a brand new Velo Orange free wheel rear hub which I can use to build a new wheel with, plus I have a set of wide 26" rims in silver waiting to be used up. I'll have to see if everything matches up hole-wise. I may end up with new rims, spokes, and a new front hub. 

 Okay, so what is my goal here? The "bones" of the bike are okay, but what would I build this up in to and how would I use it? 

Remember me mentioning the braze-ons on the fork and rear drop outs? Well, my vision for this bike is to build out the thing into a 26"er touring bike with friction shifters, a drop bar, and a leather saddle with platform pedals. I want to add racks and fenders and a nice, plump set of 26"er tires. Then I want to do a self-supported tour, over-nighter, week-long, or whatever I can. If I do this, here are a couple of other thoughts I have had.

First, I was looking at all these blinged out rides people have built up and I was thinking that's what I was going to do. Then I came to realize that this would be a huge mistake. I don't need a fancy-pants looking bike for a couple of reasons. One- If I am really going to do some self-supported, self-contained touring, my bike needs to be a tool. Not eye-candy which may cause trouble. Think about it...

Secondly, if it is more utilitarian in looks and in nature, I will use it more. I won't be afraid to drag it through the mud, ride it in the rain, or have gravel bouncing off the paint on the frame. A tough, durable finish then, with no real flash or anything to recommend it to the eye. That's going to be better than a shiny garage queen, I think. 

In fact, I thought about just sanding off the corrosion and touching it up with yellow paint from a spray can. Ha! That would be pretty "low-key" and low cost! But we'll see. This isn't going to happen quickly, I don't think. The wheels are the first big issue to tackle. 

Stay tuned....