Sunday, December 31, 2023

Looking Forward: 2024

 Well, the Rear View is in the rear view and 2023 is over. Time to take a quick look at what might be happening in the year to come. Of course, I don't really know anything, but that never stopped me before! 

So, take the following with a huge grain of salt. Except for this one thing: I have been, I am now, and forever will be indebted to you, my dear readers, for making this blog a joy to write every day, 365 days a year. 

Thank you!

Now, on with the view to next year, which will be a different year for me in at least one way for certain. That is that, as I previously mentioned, I won't be writing for any other sites for the first time since 2006. All I have on my plate now is this here blog, and that's it! At least for the foreseeable future. Honestly, I do not see that changing.

 Then there are rides. You know, I wasn't happy with 2022 as I look back on last year's "looking forward" post. I didn't get any long rides in at all. But as I looked further back, that was not an outlier for me. Most years lately I have been missing out on riding a century. Then it dawned on me that the last one I rode was in 2021 at Gravel Worlds, and before that? Sheesh! Maybe something back in 2017, or 2018's GTDRI. 

And yes- that bothers me yet. Just like it did last year. But as I said last year, I wanted to get at least one long ride in, and I did. So, I set the bar low and I made the goal. Maybe this year I can ask and hope for a true century. Let's go! 

 I'll be back in Emporia, Kansas for the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame induction ceremony again in 2024.

And until my job status changes, riding in organized events is out of the question. I have some very personal and professional reasons for that which are tied to what is going on with my job at the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective which I cannot divulge here. Good things, by the way, and if I could talk about that here, I know most of you would be supportive. So, no negative issues tied to that. But it means I just cannot be taking time off for riding in an event. 

I will only be taking time away to go do something for the next Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame induction and the Gents Race, (it looks like our team is back!). What that GCHoF thing is,'ll see! Those are the only times I am taking time off my job that I know of for 2024. 

I do plan on a Guitar Ted Death Ride sometime in the Summer. I'm going to try for earlier in the year rather than later. This year I waited until August and it almost did not happen. 

And that two-day tour is still hanging out there and I've been scheming for almost two years to get out there and do that. Gotta get that out of my system. 

Other rides will happen as they can happen. Gravel travel, of course, and maybe a dirt ribbon or two thrown in for good measure. Local more so than not. We'll see..... 

From a blogging perspective I have been blown away by what happened this year. The numbers were often times doubled from 2022. Crazy numbers! I wrote about the same amount of posts without really trying as I did in 2022. So, I suspect that - barring any major life-changing things happening to me - that 2024 will look much like 2023. At least here on this page.  

The GTDRI Stories are wrapping up. I may start another series for Sunday, or I may give it a rest and just post whatever strikes my fancy. But I do not have anything solid planned in terms of a series. Review work will be posted here, but again, I don't know how that will look or if it is a sustainable thing here due to the perception of this being a "blog". So, again - we will see.... I will do reviews as long as people want that from me. 

In May of next year this blog will start its 20th year in existence. That's a pretty big deal! I have a few things cooking to mark the occasion with. Stay tuned.....

The podcast will also continue. N.Y. Roll has been gracious enough to be my partner in that and he provides the Topo Chico and the venue, so look for more episodes to drop in the year to come. We've both heard good things from many of you who listen to the "Guitar Ted Podcast", and we are encouraged and it will propel us forward.

Myself and N.Y. Roll recording a podcast. Image by Morgan Osgood.

So, yeah.... I guess that about covers everything. Nothing "earth-shattering", but staying the course, for the most part. Listen, I am just fine with that, as the last four years have been tumultuous and there were a lot of changes going on in my life throughout that time period. 

A little stability, for now, is a welcomed thing. Maybe something will happen in 2024 that will alter the course of things here, and you know, that is entirely possible. I'll roll with the punches and do whatever I feel is necessary if something like that happens. But for now I think about those of you reading this blog every morning. maybe with a cup of coffee, and firing up that computer or device, waiting to see what I've written for you to read. That motivates me. It keeps me poking at this keyboard every day for you.

And the funny thing is, I don't know how to type! I really don't. I use two fingers, I make mistakes on every sentence which slows me down even more, and I write most of my stuff in a stream of consciousness. So, making things make sense is tougher, and I re-write several sections every day. This is a difficult thing for me to do. I say these things not to make you sympathetic towards me. I write that because I want you to know that your motivation elevates my desire to write so that I overcome my hindrances to writing. So when I say "thank you for reading", I mean it from my heart, because if I didn't feel your energy and read your encouraging words from time to time, this blog wouldn't be happening. 

Happy New Year! 

Peace and Love!

Guitar Ted

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Rear View 2023: Winter's Beginning

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 was five Rear View posts looking back on Winter's End, Spring, Summer, Fall, and this one, Winter's Beginning. I'll also have a post looking ahead at 2024 tomorrow. Enjoy the look back and thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

November came in with a cold blast and that was the end of the warmer than usual weather for Fall. Coats came out, long sleeves, and tights, and where are all my gloves at?! Typical Fall/early Winter issues here at G-Ted Headquarters! 

I got in some rambles on the single track in the Green Belt. I found Marky-Mark trail in good repair, and I even got in a few gravel rides. Temperatures bounced back up into the 60's again for a bit, but by mid-month things were cooling back down and we had some breezy days. 

My focus was set on getting in one more long ride in for 2023. The Turkey Burn was it. I had a day set aside, the bike would be the Fargo Gen I which I hadn't really ridden all year, and the route would be a version of my Four County Tour. Everything was set, but then it all went sideways. 

A view from my Turkey Burn Ride.

 The day after Thanksgiving the weather started going downhill with a big wind and the weekend was positively frigid. I got out on Thanksgiving Day only because our family all had Wednesday off and we celebrated then. Bummer! And I never did ride the Fargo either.  

The weekend right after Thanksgiving we got our first snow. A few days later it melted!

In a cruel twist of irony the weekend after Thanksgiving was Sunny and decently warm for December. The snow we had gotten was all melted, and so I could have ridden a longer ride, except that I was busy anyway. Oh well!

The blog always goes nuts  for most of the month of December with my "Rear View" posts and posts about the bikes from the year. So, as a result, I don't get in much of what is going on, and quite frankly, after deer shotgun season starts for those first two weekends in December, I really don't want to be out in the country at all. By the time that is over with I have a big birthday stretch where my wife and daughter have birthdays two days apart from each other. Then a week later it's Christmas, and January 2nd will be my 25th wedding anniversary. So, riding times get taken up by lots of other things. Then you have weather. 

I got my Pirate Cycling League Winter Jacket though, so I better be getting out there to make use of the thing. It is a nice jacket too. I am happy to have it to use. 

The urban cruising and commuting was the main form of cycling throughout the month. I used a combination of my old Ti Muk 2, the Dorado, and I rode the Fargo Gen I around a bit to test those TRP Hy/Rd brake calipers. 

Weather-wise things were mild for December after that initial snow and cold outburst. Then after mid-month it went cold and windy for a day or two, and then back into a milder pattern until Christmas. Is this going to be the Winter where it will all happen starting in February? Big snows, cold, wind, and bad roads until mid-March?

Yeah, that would not surprise me one bit. It has kind of been that way anyway the last few Winters where nothing happens until around New Year's Day. But maybe January will be clear of bad cold and snow too. I hate to root for that on one hand because we need rain and snow. 

Of course, we had 50's for Christmas and myself and the whole family had come down with the flu/head cold thing that has been going around. No riding then, and I felt well and truly awful, as did the others here. It was a Christmas without much cheer, and we went through a LOT of tissues instead of treats. Oh well! At least THAT is over with now!

That wraps up the Rear View for this year. Look for a forward look into 2024 coming up tomorrow!

Friday, December 29, 2023

Friday News And Views

It's The Last FN&V Of 2023!

My weekly post on Friday's which generally features three to five news and opinion related mini-posts in one has been going on for many years here on Guitar Ted Productions, but the format for the post idea actually wasn't always fixed to appearing on Fridays. 

There has been a "Monday News and Views" before and every day of the week as well has been used as a News and Views day. Somehow it settled in on Friday and well, there it has been ever since. You can read more about all that in a 2020 post I wrote called "The "FN&V" Story".

In terms of popularity, the FN&V is, generally speaking, the number one viewed post of most any week here. Of course, there are exceptions, which you saw with my "Top Ten Posts of 2023" which came out Wednesday.

This post also generates more views for a longer period of time than most anything else I do here with rare exceptions. So, I tend to put a lot of effort into the FN&V every week and I hope that you all enjoy reading it. Obviously, I will continue to use Friday's as the day for this post for 2024. 

Thanks, as always, for reading the FN&V and the rest of my posts here on Guitar Ted Productions!

The Guitar Ted Podcast To Resume Soon!

Just a gentle reminder that the "Guitar Ted Podcast" will be resuming recording here soon. N.Y. Roll has agreed to continue on as a co-host and is letting me use his "Stone Castle Estates" venue as a recording site. 

We have been brainstorming up some episode ideas, but we are always open to suggestions. If there is a burning desire for you to hear us pontificate on anything bicycle related, let me know in the comments or contact me as always at 

We decided to take a break during the Holiday season and recharge our batteries, so to speak, and we hope to have renewed energy and new ideas going forward into 2024. 

Until the next episode drops, consider hitting that link and listening in to any of our past episodes. If I may suggest a few, in no particular order, they would be:

  • "The Ethos Of Gravel Events": A discussion of the fall-out post-Unbound Gravel 2023 and the culture of gravel events
  • "End of the Age Of Gravel": A wide-ranging episode that speaks to where we are with gravel events/riding. There is also some good tips on cameras for gravel cyclists in this episode. 
  • "Learning From A Beginner": My sentimental favorite episode of 2023. I had the privilege of interviewing Morgan Osgood, a "rookie" gravel rider. I was fascinated to hear her takes on what made gravel attractive to her, what she experienced at her first events, and what we, as seasoned gravel riders, should know about first-timers to gravel. This also happens to be our most popular interview from 2023. 
  • "Goodbye Cross Check!": Of course, how could I not suggest our runaway number one listened to podcast episode for 2023? Obviously this is all about that venerable, recently discontinued, Surly Cross Check. 

If you have any downtime over the New Years holiday, maybe check into one of those suggested episodes or any of the other 35 episodes in Season #1 of the podcast. Stay tuned.... Season #2 will start soon. 

Job Report:

Allow me a moment to brag on my job at the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective. Our social media volunteer put this graphic together a couple of weeks ago and I thought I'd share this on the last "FN&V" of 2023. 

The image tells the tale, mostly. We have two paid employees, (myself and Carl, my assistant), but the rodeos, valets, the bike ride, and all that was done by volunteers. 

I taught the classes and Carl and I did all the builds and sales work. It is a very rewarding job, and while the numbers may seem insignificant to some, we are making a big dent in this community in several ways. Plus, there are a lot more intangibles that a chart like the one shown here can never reflect. 

In 2024 I'm looking forward to making more of an impact on the Cedar Valley and beyond.There will (hopefully) be more classes, and making more confident cyclists who can handle simple in-field repairs and adjustments should go a long way toward that goal.

This job has cut two ways for me. on the one hand it has prevented me from doing events and it has really thrown a wrench in my scheduling of rides. On the other hand, it has been the most rewarding job I've ever had. Onward towards 2024!


The LeMond eBike with drop bars was one of several that appeared in 2023.
Trends Of 2023

I thought it would be fun to take stock of a few trends I noted in 2023 here before the year closes out. There were a few things that kept cropping up all throughout the year that I will make note of here. 

In no particular order:

  •  Alternative drive trains: Everyone keeps pressing in to make an alternative to the "Two Big S's" component groups. We saw a lot of buzz around several Chinese manufactured gravel groups, but so far, they have been either panned by reviewers or haven't gained much ground yet on the popularity front. 
  • Racing Bikes With Big Tire Clearances: Are they "gravel" bikes or something else? It's getting more and more common to see brands pushing road bikes that can clear 32mm -35mm tires. Tire sizes that only ten years ago were considered "gravel bike tires". 
  • Gravel Bikes With MTB Tire Clearances: And - of course - gravel bikes have morphed into territory reserved for XC hard tail MTB's with tire clearances that are approaching 2.1"ers in many cases. Some sport slacker than ever head tube angles and longer top tubes than most road bike based gravel bikes ever did. Are these really drop bar MTB's? 
  • More Electrified Gravel Bikes: It seemed there for a while that every week I had another new electrified drop bar gravel rig to share. There were plenty of them making their debut throughout 2023. 
  • Boutique Adventure Bikes/Gear: The other thing I noted was the amount of new, small builder, chi-chi looking adventure/bikepacking rigs out there now. I guess a lot of this had been going on previous to my noting it, but Instagram is chock-full of this sort of thing to the point that memes are being generated mocking the trend. 
  • Fatigue Over The Whole Gravel Thing: I have been making an observation throughout 2023 that I feel people growing tired of "everything gravel". There are so many "bucket-list" events, reasons to care about social initiatives at gravel events, influencers, Pros, and social media surrounding "gravel" now that it has all become white noise to many people. Too much is....well, too much! This is why I feel we are entering a "post-gravel" phase now and which will intensify throughout 2024. 
Those are but a few of the trends I noted in 2023. Got anything in mind I may have missed? Hit me up in the comments and tell me what it might be.

That's a wrap on the FN&V for 2023! See ya next year!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Rear View 2023: Fall

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 2024 near the end of the month. Enjoy the look back and thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

This past Fall was one of the warmest, longest lasting Fall seasons I can remember. It was also "guest ride" season. I had three rides in September and October that saw old friends and new ask to meet me for a gravel ride. 

Of course, there was some review work to do as well, so there were rides being done to get that part of my work finished up. It was important as I had set a date of December 1st to switch off my contributions to that site. 

The weather couldn't have been a whole lot better for riding, but unfortunately, it lacked a lot in rain, which we desperately need, even now. That said, the clear skies and nice temperatures were a treat and many rides were done in the months of September and October.

September 4th looked more like October 4th due to the drought.

My first guest rider was Jason Boucher. I hadn't seen him in years and I hadn't ridden with him even longer than that. He dropped in from Minneapolis, we spent the morning riding, and then we hit up a downtown Waterloo Mexican restaurant. It was an awesome day and a highlight of my year. 

Jason Boucher's custom built flat bar gravel bike at the "Big Rock".

The rest of September went on without much of anything noteworthy happening and then early in October I was contacted by a newer friend of mine from Waterloo here who wanted to take some images of me riding on a gravel road, and to just hang out as well. Josh and I actually had already done another gravel ride back in June.

This time we did a bit of an adventure up Ford Road and I discovered that the Ford Road cut-off to the Washington-Union Access was opened up again. That's something I have to get back to and check out further. 

Following Josh up out of Ford Road Access.

The weather started to cool off more toward the end of October, but it was not unbearable and I had another guest ask to meet me for a ride later in October. This time it was a repeat visitor from about the same time last year. Ben Morris, from Madison, Wisconsin, came down and we did a foray out toward Petrie Road's Level B Road section. 

Ben Morris cruising South of Waterloo.

The end of the month came and we were still experiencing some pretty decent weather. The review work, the guest rides. and work kind of erased any chances of me getting in a big ride. I ended up putting a couple ideas on mothballs, again, but hopefully there is always next year.

As November approached I started focusing on the Turkey Burn idea and maybe, hopefully, one more chance at a long ride in 2023. 

Next: Winter Begins.

Bikes Of 2023: Salsa Cycles Titanium Mukluk

 It's another December here on the blog. You know what that means? Yep! Another round of my bikes I used in 2023. This round-up will not include some of the bikes I did not use this year much, or at all. I focus only on the bikes that played a big role in my riding during this year.  

As always, any changes or future plans for any bike I feature will also be detailed. I hope that you enjoy this year's round-up. Note; Throughout December there will be a lot of double-post days. Scroll back to make sure you haven't missed anything!

The Ti Muk 2 ready for whatever Winter throws at us.

The Salsa Cycles Titanium Mukluk, or "Ti Muk 2" as it is known as here, is in regular rotation as a commuter bike and sometimes MTB/Gravel bike around here. This is a 2015 model with a Advocate Bikes Watchman aluminum fork on it. It got the name Ti Muk 2 because it is the second titanium Mukluk I have owned. The first was a 2012 model.

Last year I upgraded the drive train and the lighting unit, so this year was basic maintenance and adding some accessories. I like the Old Man Mountain Juniper Trunk bag and the 45NRTH pogies I have on the bike now. This Winter should be a great one for getting around town with this set up. I also fashioned a new, much better looking rear "fender". More like a splash guard, I would say. I'll be interested to see if it does more than the old set up did for me. I am hopeful it will. 

There could be a gravel or off-road adventure on this bike in the coming days. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Rear View 2023: Top Ten Posts Of 2023

Every year of late I have been looking back at the Top Ten posts here on the blog. Last year's Top Ten can be seen HERE. I thought it was another fun way to look back over the year via the perspective of what caught the reader's attention here. 

 I thought it would be fun to rank the Top Ten posts again. This time from the blog during the calendar year 2023. 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: GCHoF 2023: Inductees & Comments - June 3rd, 2023 -

This was a post from my reports on going to the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. The 2023 class was an interesting one and in this post I gave my comments on each person. And then the "thing" category, which was a surprise to most there, which was the Salsa Cycles Chaise Lounge. The "Gravel Icon" category will be noted again for 2024. What will it be this time? Who knows..... Apparently a lot of you folks were interested to read my take on the GCHoF Class of 2023. You can read this post HERE

#9: Entry Fees Up - January 26th, 2023 - 

This post was done after I did some research into what gravel event fees were for 2023 events. A small survey of events was done according to my criteria. Then I showed my results and gave some commentary on them. This post stirred up the bee hive! It's probably why it got enough hits to show up on the Top Ten list this year. This post can be seen HERE

#8: Country Views: Smoke, Dogs, & Wind - April 8th, 2023 -

Last year I had a few "Country Views" posts hit this list. But this year this post from early in April was the only Country Views post to come close to being in the Top Ten. Maybe it made it because I had "Dogs" in the title. Or maybe "Smoke". You never know what "The Algorithm" will pick up on! You can read this post HERE.  

#7: A Search For "Gravel" Geometry Part 2: Myths & Traditions, September 20th, 2023 -

I ran a series of posts concerning the background and history of geometry for gravel bicycles. This particular post in the series received more than three times the hits that the rest of the series posts did. I would imagine that some ruffled feathers may have posted links on a forum somewhere that drove the numbers for this particular post higher. You can see this post HERE

#6: A Search & Rescue Mission - April 4th, 2023:   

This one was a spiritual journey aboard my Dorado Sherpa in the mist to find a pair of eyeglasses. You can see this post HERE

#5: Velo Orange Utility Bar & Utility Rack Review - June 24th, 2023:

This, along with the next two posts in the countdown, were about the Velo Orange Utility Bar and Utility Rack. Velo Orange linked to all three of these posts on their social media and on their site. Obviously it drove the traffic to those posts! You can read the review HERE

#4: Velo Orange Utility Bar & Rack - May 18th, 2023:

This short little blurb about the Utility Bar and Rack drew an unprecedented amount of views. It is a bit of a mystery why that is, but as I said, it very well may be because of Velo Orange's pushing the post on their end. You can read the post HERE.

#3: Going Flat: Velo Orange Utility Bar & Utility Rack - May 10th, 2023:

This was the initial post on the Utility Bar and Rack which came out of my deciding to run the Karate Monkey as a flat bar bike again after many years of it being fitted with a drop bar. You can read this post HERE

#2:When Gravel Was Trying To Find Its Way, The Cross Check Helped It Get There - October 4th, 2023:

If it hadn't been for the top post of 2023, this would have been the #1 cycling related post of the year by a long shot. Surly Bikes decided to discontinue the venerable Cross Check model after a 24 year run. This post details why I think this bike deserves a place in the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame. You can read this post HERE

#1: The Six String Side: Roland Jazz Chorus JC40 Amplifier - January 14th, 2023:

A huge surprise to me, but this post took on a life of its own during 2023. The links back to that post must exist on some music/gear page because the post gains about 10 - 20 views per week, right up to this very time! Heck, maybe I oughta be a music gear reviewer. Ha! This amplifier was my 2022 Christmas gift and my 2023 Anniversary gift all rolled into one. I decided to write up the review thinking it might get a few looks. I hadn't ever dreamed that anyone would find that review and spread it to wherever it got linked at. You can read the amplifier review HERE

Comments: So I think this year's posts on this list were greatly affected by outside influences. It's hard for me to peel out those influences to see what you, the actual day-to-day blog readers really liked. That said, these posts listed here represent hit counts multiple times that of the average daily count here. Not all ten were driven up by algorithms, I wouldn't think, but perhaps they all were. 

At any rate, I assume that "real" people were looking at the blog and even with a conservative view to these numbers, the views were up from 2022. Noticeably higher counts on all the posts on the list, and most days on the blog, there were more people checking in. 

What will 2024 bring? Can the end of 19th year of the blog in May and the start of the 20th year measure up against the growth over the last several years? We will see.....

As always, thank you for reading Guitar Ted Productions!

Review: Old Man Mountain Axle Pack

OMM Axle Pack on a bike. (Image courtesy of OMM)
NOTE: Old Man Mountain sent over the Axle Pack kit, a fit kit, and through axle from the Robert Axle Project to Guitar Ted Productions for test and review. I am not being bribed, nor paid for this review and I always strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

The idea of mounting accessories, bags, or water bottles from a fork is not a new one. Touring cyclists have been using brazed-on mounts for racks to hold panniers from forks for years. I first saw water bottles mounted off a fork at the first Trans Iowa gravel race in 2005. A rider had hose-clamped two cages to the fork blades of his Redline Team Conquest cyclo-cross bike. 

Now days any "adventure" or bikepacking bike worth its salt comes with fork braze-ons, those little warts sticking out with bolts that can accept a Three-Pack style rack or water bottle cages. However; many "racing" style gravel bikes and older bikes do not have such accessories. What to do?

That's where Old Man Mountain's recently developed and manufactured "Axle Pack" comes in. It allows any bike to have "three-pack" style attachments on the fork - even suspension forks. What's nice about this is that not only can you add this accessory on your bike, but it is not permanent. So, you can use the Axle Pack for the over-nighter you've got planned and then remove it for the fast-paced gravel group ride the following week. OMM have made the Axle Pack versatile by way of their famous "Fit Kits", Mounting Pucks, and through axles which are available through the Robert Axle Project.

My Noble GX5: Great bike, but no fork mounts!

The Problem: I have a Noble Bikes GX5 which is a great bike for long gravel rides but for one detail. It does not have any way to mount a water bottle to the forks. This, to my way of thinking, is a handicap in that I have to find more creative ways to go long distances on this bike and have the hydration capabilities that my body requires on a hot, Summertime gravel grinder. 

I do have other bikes, and some of those do have the mounts on the forks I desire, but none of those bikes are lightweight carbon fiber machines that have the stiffness under power that the Noble has. What if I could add water bottle cages to this bike? 

Sure, there are other ways to solve this conundrum, but I happen to think that fork mounted bottles are actually easier to access while riding than even a traditional cage placement in the main triangle, not to mention any bottle in a bag, frame bag, or jersey pocket. Hydration bladders are also an option here, but again - I like my fork mounted bottles. Your mileage may vary there.

The Solution: The Axle Pack will easily mount to this Noble GX5 and allow me to use water bottle cages, or even a larger cargo cage that might hold a Nalgene bottle, or gear for a sub-24 trip. The through axle needed to be swapped and the Mounting Pucks ordered along with that to make it all work, but the solution is there. And as I stated earlier, I can easily remove the Axle Pack with no harm done. Suddenly, the GX5 just became a lot more versatile!

The Parts: So, as stated, I received the Axle Pack, which is two long rails with slots and threaded bolt holes in it. On one end is the receiving side that mates with the special Robert Axle Project through axle. The upper portion of the Axle Pack will be cable tied to the Mounting Puck using the heavy-duty cable ties provided in that kit. Those cable ties are a special design which does not "zip", (no teeth), and they are UV resistant. That's a great quality to have for peace of mind hauling. 

The Axle Pack retails for $60.00 USD and most fit kits, which includes the proper 12m through axle and Mounting Pucks, costs $80.00 USD.

Here is what OMM has to say about the Axle Pack:

"Old Man Mountain Axle Pack is unlike any fork mount adapter you’ve seen. Rather than trying to clamp to round or tapered surfaces and just hope it doesn’t slip or spin, Axle Pack is, you guessed it: Thru Axle mounted! Attaching to the axle makes it impossible to slip or spin.

Axle Pack is lightweight, reliable, robust, and rigid. With four mounting point you can also choose to run your gear higher or lower depending on your needs.

 What I Got:
Referencing the image above, starting out in the center and then rotating counter-clockwise: We have a Robert Axle Project through axle for the Axle Pack, or any Old Man Mountain Rack as well (#1), then we have the two rails that make up the Axle Pack itself (#2). Following that we have two sheets of protective film to avoid scratching the fork legs (#3). Then in the upper right hand portion of the image you can see the two rectangular shaped objects which are the Mounting Pucks (#4). Then we have a handful of cable ties (#5) followed by the mounting hardware that comes with the through axle (#6) Finally we have the mounting hardware that comes with the Axle Pack (#7)

The OMM site has a nice step-by-step procedure to help you find the Fit Kit and axle for your bike, and they also offer "real people" contact via the phone if you have further questions. 

Next: In my next update I will go over that installation process on my Noble Bikes GX5 and show you how this will all go together to offer me a more versatile bike. I'll then go on several rides and see how the Axle Pack works in practice. Since it is cold I was thinking of strapping on an old Thermos full of chicken soup or tomato soup for a nice lunch stop on a ride. Mmmmm...... Soup

Thanks to OMM for the opportunity to review and try out these products. Stay tuned for an update soon.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Bikes Of 2023: Surly Big Dummy

 It's another December here on the blog. You know what that means? Yep! Another round of my bikes I used in 2023. This round-up will not include some of the bikes I did not use this year much, or at all. I focus only on the bikes that played a big role in my riding during this year.  

As always, any changes or future plans for any bike I feature will also be detailed. I hope that you enjoy this year's round-up.

This bike has been a real workhorse for the last couple of years.

Several years ago I had obtained an Xtra-Cycle attachment to convert my Schwinn Sierra into a cargo bike. That turned me on to cargo bike versatility and eventually that fueled the desire to get a "real" cargo bike. Then I came across a local rider at the time, Mike, who had a Surly Big Dummy, and he asked if I'd like to purchase it from him. 

The rest, as they say, is history.

The Big Dummy has found a home in my everyday cycling routine whenever I have anything pretty big to transport by bicycle. That role expanded in 2022 when I started working at the Cedar Valley Bicycle collective. Our orders from our supplier come to a local UPS Store, and I have to pick them up there. Why not do that with a bicycle? I mean, I have the perfect one for the job, right?

Well, it was made even more perfect with the addition of a Surly kickstand this past Summer. While these are expensive kickstands, they are worth every penny, as this addition makes loading and unloading the Big Dummy far easier to do. Now I can easily carry big, heavy boxes of supplies from the UPS Store to the CVBC shop and not have to have some circus act moves at the ready for the loading and unloading process.

Besides the kickstand the only future changes I can foresee here are maintenance related and at some pint I'll have to get tires, but I hope that doesn't happen for a long time. I like my XR1 whitewalls!  I could see doing a wheel set for Winter with dedicated  tires for Winter, like a studded set up. We will see....

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas


Guitar Ted Productions!

Here's hoping that you are having a safe, joyous Christmas Day wherever you are!

Guitar Ted Productions wishes you all the best and the blog will be back in swing again tomorrow. 

Sunday, December 24, 2023

The GTDRI Stories: The 14th One - Part 1

"The GTDRI Stories" is a series telling the history, untold tales, and showing the sights from the run of Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitationals. This series will run on Sundays. Thanks for reading!

Generally speaking, I usually have the worst pre-event habits ever. Then again, on this version of the GTDRI, I one-upped myself by helping a neighbor move a fiberglass pick-up topper. Yeah......

See, my old neighbor was an industrious fellow but he wasn't real good at picking his friends, and he sometimes had ambitions that outpaced his abilities to accomplish certain tasks. This pick-up topper being one of those examples of both. 

he had a wiry, thin young man as an assistant and while my neighbor was in pretty good physical shape, and was a weight lifter on the side, this thin friend of his was not only weak, but not the brightest bulb on the shelf either. I was casually keeping tabs on the two as they were unbolting the topper from the truck. Then it happened. They were trying to move it with just the two of them

And as I watched I felt compelled to lend a hand. It was all good until we were trying to lift the topper over the gate of the neighbor's privacy fence and the neighbor barked out a command to the wiry fellow. He dropped his end to move into a different position. That weighted me in a very akward way and something pulled in my back. Nothing bad, but yeah..... 

And then, of course, this was the day before I was to leave for the GTDRI, and I didn't get to bed early, and the alarm went off at 3:00am. So......  I wasn't in a very good spot right off the bat.

After two years of riding other's bikes, I had my own on this GTDRI.

The participants in the 2018 GTDRI. Image courtesy of Rob Evans.

There were 14 of us in all. (I know, there are only twelve in the image.) A few more than average, but a great showing. A really good contingent from the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area came along this time. Probably the most on a GTDRI ever. 

The weather was forecast to be typically hot, humid, and there was a 25% chance of rain. No one was very worried about the weather at the beginning, I can say that. This would change later on.

Rolling out.

The Sunrise was spectacular.

The very beginning of the ride was fantastic with powdery, dry Level B roads a plenty. This part of the course was also flatter, but not flat by any stretch. Rolling hills? Yes, let's go with that. The pace was okay. The weather early on was perfect as clouds kept the scorching Sun at bay. But then a foreboding came over me after a brief stop to gather up the crew. I had looked at a radar image and it showed a thunderstorm complex moving in from the Northwest. 

Iowa was the home of the late 19th Century Grange movement. this building is a Grange building.

While several of us thought that the system might move off to the North and East of where we were, I was worried. I knew we were going to be out in very remote parts of Powesheik County and getting under cover, if needed, might be an issue. We weren't scheduled to ride through any towns until about Mile 80. 

In fact, we had to have one of the local riders named Jon Duke to help us by having his truck and a cache of water parked at about 30 miles into the course. Not only did Jon have water for us, but he had other soft drinks, food, and candy available. It was a mini-convenience store in an old Dodge truck. 

Storm clouds were thickening all around as we were approaching our first remote rest stop.

Jon Duke's oasis saved the ride!

Chatter was heard at the stop about the weather, but still the riders were game to continue, and they were having a lot of fun. We sat there around Jon's truck for a good half an hour before we started making a move to get on our way. 

Jon, who knew these roads well, mentioned to me that the next section of the course would offer some of the most technical, fast, and difficult Level B Roads all day. This made me worry more. I hadn't reconned anything on this course, and having other riders doing really difficult Level B's with weather in the area was ratcheting up my anxiety levels. 

It was 30 miles to another planned roadside oasis. Rob Evans girlfriend was to meet us at that point with more refreshments. What happened in between Jon's stop and Rob's stop was maybe the most awesome bit of riding of any GTDRI. That said, it was also the bit where I met my undoing. 

Note: Next week the GTDRI Stories will be taking a break for a special post for the last day of 2023. Look for "The GTDRI Stories: The 14th One - Part 2 " on Sunday, January 7th.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Rear View 2023: Summer

 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 2024 near the end of the month. Enjoy the look back and thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions!  

Note; Throughout December there will be a lot of double-post days. Scroll back to make sure you haven't missed anything!

Right off the bat it was time to go to Emporia, Kansas to do the whole Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame induction, and specifically, a "Hall of Fame  Ride" where some of us were going to ride out to meet another group that was riding in from Lawrence, Kansas. I took the pink BMC MCD bike, but more importantly, I took Mrs. Guitar Ted along with me. 

I almost never have mixed my "gravel life" with the rest of my life, but I thought that this would be a good time for Mrs. Guitar Ted to see why people have made such a fuss about me and have put me in a hall of fame. So, we traveled down there with the intentions that she could do some exploring and whatever on her own while I did this ride deal. then we'd go to the induction, the after-party, and then on home. the next day. 

But once again, plans never turn out the way that you think they will. There was a big storm on one of the nights out for the Lawerence cycling group, so they bailed on the plans to stay at a remote campground and came straight to Emporia. That meant we did not have to meet anyone to go on this ride. The itinerary changed to that of being more of a group ride with a short course South of the town. This may or may not have caused a certain chance meeting between old friends.

I never would have guessed that after a decade or more I'd meet Jeff Kerkove on Commercial Street in Emporia Kansas!

I ran into my co-conspirator in Trans Iowa, my old co-worker at the bike shop, and long-lost friend, Jeff Kerkove on the street in Emporia as he had decided to show up for the Hall of Fame Ride. He was in town for the upcoming demo and race happening that week and weekend. Of course, I am speaking of Unbound. 

And what is more, I actually got to ride with Jeff again, which hadn't happened in probably fifteen years or more. So, we actually had a nice chat, and it was great to reconnect with him after all this time, and especially over a gravel event. An event which we influenced the beginning of. Kind of surreal when I think about that.....

I also was a guest on the "Gravel Family Podcast"
Anyway, the evening was fun and I think Mrs. Guitar Ted had fun meeting all the gravel crazies. The next day we were thinking about breakfast and a trip home, but then I was offered the chance to be interviewed by the hosts of the "Gravel Family Podcast", so that happened. 

This was right on Commercial Street and it was beginning to become a scene due to all the hoopla surrounding Unbound. I wasn't sad to leave, I'll be honest, because that event has grown to become a beast. Just too big - too much. Not my bag. 

Anyway, we came back from there to a spat of rain, but then it was pretty much a month of wild fire smoke. Somehow I got a few rides in, when the air cleared out on rare occasions, but I know I missed a ton of riding opportunities due to the smoke.

Once July kicked into gear we had a round of rainy days again, and I was a bit put out because we had missed so much of the riding time we normally get due to the smoke, and now rain. But I shouldn't have been cross about it because it was the last good rains we got for the rest of the year. This drought has been brutal here and we still aren't out of it yet as I write this. 

Checking the air quality monitor was an everyday thing here for about a month or so.

 July went then to a very dry, dusty scene and riding commenced again as I had the opportunities. reviewing stuff was in high gear again, and I had a few plans for some bigger rides. Only one of which ever happened. One was thwarted when Mrs. Guitar Ted had a flat tire I needed to fix, but that was probably good, since it was about 100° that day anyway. The other one I had planned did happen. That was in August when I got back to doing the 2020 GTDR ride route again. 

Gathering bikes for the Cedar Valley Bicycle Collective on a hot, smoky day.

The effects of the drought were severe. This was taken in late August near LaPorte City Iowa.

That attempt at the Guitar Ted Death Ride was a success but a modified one due to construction which sent me off-course and on to roads I was unfamiliar with. That actually made the ride more fun, to be honest. So, with 80+ miles there, that ride turned out to be the longest of 2023. 

I was hopeful that now that we had no wildfire smoke and the rains had ceased that I would get that last big ride in during September, but we will see how that panned out in the next Rear View.

Next: Fall

Friday, December 22, 2023

Friday News And Views

Paris to Ancaster To Celebrate 30 Years:

Many events in cycling have some semblance to the current gravel craze, and preceded the "Modern Era" of gravel by several years. The Flint Hills Death Ride, which was viewed as a mountain bike event by many people in the 1990's, is but one example of this.

Another prototypical cycling event that fits this theme is Paris to Ancaster. This Canadian cycling event was fashioned to mimic the Paris-Roubaix, the famous Pro road event that takes in several cobbled sections of French rural roads. 

While it never was billed as a "gravel" event, the Paris to Ancaster could fit that category in today's view. Regardless, after 30 years, it is pretty crazy to think that almost no US cycling media even mentions the event at all. Just another example of how media and the perceptions it foments amongst the cycling cognoscenti is not always a reliable measure of reality. 

For more on this April 28th, 2024 event, check out this LINK

Image courtesy of Gravel Earth Series
Gravel Earth Series: Truly A "World Series":

News broke last week about the new schedule of events for the Gravel Earth Series. The series started out as a mostly European gravel series of events, but that was not the end-vision for the organization. From their website;

"The Gravel Earth Series was born with the aim of driving Gravel to the highest standards.

Respect for the environment, love for the territory and values with a positive impact are the result of the creation of the first Gravel earth.

Comments; Ironic that the UCI Gravel World Series is not as comprehensive and inclusive as this series strives to be. But then, they have very different aims. 

Of course, since the cradle of "gravel" racing is in the USA, it hasn't gone unnoticed that the US gets only two events while Europe has several. Now, that may change in the future, but I find it rather curious that two organizations are making gravel events out to be Euro-centric, whether by design or omission, I don't know. 

The little trailer video on the site shows a lot of exotic locales and not a ton of what I would call "gravel" but that ship has sailed in terms of "what is gravel" a long time ago now. People use the term more in the vein of a "style" of an event than to help you determine what surface the event is on. 

Anyone interested in finding out more about the Gravel Earth series can go HERE for details. 


GCN+ Is Dead- Cycling Coverage To Continue On Warner Bros Max:

While many cycling fans have bemoaned the loss of cycling coverage from GCN+ news came out last week that the Warner Bros owned HBO Max will carry cycling racing and analysis as an add-on package to its sports coverage. The asking price for the add-on is reportedly $9.95 and, of course, whatever the level of Max you want to have in the first place. The report I saw mentioned that prices start at $9.99/month. 

Comments: I've got no horse in this race, because I don't stream cycling events. For my money, I'd rather be riding than watching, and many times watching a cycling event is like watching golf. Your mileage may vary there.

That all said, many that do care seem put out by the fact that GCN+ was only cycling and could be listened to in native tongues of broadcasters worldwide. Now you have to have a package of sports that you may not want, listen to "experts" from other fields try to dissect cycling events, and maybe not every race gets any coverage. I don't know, but it all sounds like a step backward from where things were with GCN+. 

Flint Hills Gravel- Old School Gravel Still Exists:

The Flint Hills Gravel event will take place next year on April 13th in Americus, Kansas, which is a small village just North of Emporia, Kansas. 

This event is right outta my playbook for Trans Iowa: A new course every year, cue sheet navigation, you don't know the course till you get there. I like all of that. Plus the field is limited to 120 riders (for the longest distance of 120 miles.) There are also 80-ish and 35 mile course options with GPX files for those who want the "modern experience".

Registration is open and can be found HERE

Comments: I love this sort of an event where the course is navigated by cue sheets and you don't have a bunch of chances for supporters to be seen out on course because the GPX files allow for that. You get a more "real" experience of being "out there", if that's what trips your trigger. That's my cup of tea, but I get that some folks would find cruising in a bigger group along roads easily navigated by the "beep" of a GPS device. 

I'd dearly love to go ride this event because I've been in those hills and it is awesome to ride there. But my job isn't conducive to doing weekend events anymore so, alas! I won't be able to go. But you should.

That's a wrap on the second to last FN&V of the year! Thanks for reading Guitar Ted Productions and I hope you all have a safe and happy Holiday weekend! 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Hy/Rd vs State Bicycle Co. All-Road Calipers: Update

NOTE: I am doing this review with some TRP Hy/Rd calipers that I sourced on my own vs some State Bicycle Co. calipers which were sent by State to me at no charge for test and review. Neither State Bicycle Co. or TRP are paying for this review and I will always strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.  Also - Throughout December there will be a lot of double-post days. Scroll back to make sure you haven't missed anything!

Recently I posted the introduction to the Hy/Rd caliper review HERE. This post will deal with my first ride impressions. The impressions on the brake calipers coming into this were that they look a little clunky and that they are heavier and more expensive than some other viable, comparable options. Specifically I am comparing these to the State Bicycle Co. All-Road Disc Brake calipers, which, in my view, are a great value and have excellent performance (so far). 

Before I get to my ride, I wanted to see how, or even if, the calipers had any adjustment features like point of pad contact, or any way to affect the strength of the actuation arm that the cable attaches to. I thought it might be nice to make a feel adjustment based on pad contact and when that happens in relationship to lever throw. I also wanted to see if that actuation arm could be made to snap back into position with more authority. This was due to the full-run housing the Fargo was designed for and that which causes more friction on the cable. 

The owners manual, (downloadable from the TRP site), doesn't give you anything in terms of possible adjustments to the caliper, not mentioning either concern I had, so no dice! I was a bit surprised by that, especially in terms of the actuation arm, which requires spring tension to bring it back into place. That means it needs to pull against the friction created by a cable sliding inside housing. With a full-run housing, it is even more critical that you have control over that spring tension. But like I said, no dice

The manual does show the bleeding process for the caliper, should you ever need to do that. I think it is highly unlikely that I will ever have to do that, but at least I know I have the instructions to do the job. Curiously, there are two small 2mm hex head bolts in the actuation arm, but if these affect anything that is an adjustment, the manual doesn't say.

The braking feel is very reminiscent of the TRP fully hydraulic brakes for drop bars.

The calipers are self-adjusting for the accounting of brake pad wear, so they will run at a certain distance from the rotors no matter what. This means lever feel is consistent. That's good....and bad, if you want a different feel than what comes with the Hy/Rd out of the box. 

The first ride was pretty much a bedding in of the brakes. I was able to accomplish that rather quickly and I found that after the pads were happy with the rotors that the calipers were quiet. The braking feel was very close to what I have come to know from riding my Tamland Two with the Gevenalle Hydraulic brake system made by TRP. So, that was not a surprise as they are designed with similar intentions. 

There is a lot going on in a tight space here.

The brakes are powerful, just like the ones on the Tamland. One-finger stops all day long, and with little effort. Modulation? Ehhh...... Not so much here. And that seems to be a TRP "feature". You have to brake with a light touch or you'll end up in a skid. Hamfisted or panic braking will result in some bad consequences. 

Are these brakes an upgrade over the old BB-7's? A definite and resounding "Yes" here. More power, less noise, and no concave/convex aluminum washers to induce caliper-creep and the resulting rotor rub later on. 

But these brakes just don't feel as good as the State brakes do. Those State calipers have a decent modulation feel and slow, technical braking is no problem there. The "window" between pad contact and full-lockup on the TRP calipers is much narrower and so that technical braking attribute you may be looking for is tougher to find. 

Power? I don't know yet. The State calipers could haul my fully loaded Singular Gryphon Mk3 down to a stop in an average manner. Would the Hy/Rd be a better brake for big loads? Possibly. I can load up the Fargo and see about that later. 

So far I think that if you want a very powerful brake with a lever feel that is more "on-off" and has NO hint of "mushiness", then you should look into this brake. I know a LOT of folks like that sort of feel. It is my opinion that it is not what is optimal for the best braking performance. (Your automobile brakes wouldn't qualify as "on-off" style brakes, now would they?) So, while that may be a feel some like, it is not my cup of tea. 

More when I get the time and weather to do testing/riding.