Sunday, March 31, 2024

Caterpy Laces Review: Intro

Note: the Caterpy Laces were sent out for test and review to Guitar Ted Productions at no charge. I am not being paid, nor bribed, for this review and I will always strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Lace-up cycling shoes are starting to become more prevalent and especially in the gravel cycling scene. Their promise is that the uppers of the shoes will fit better against the contours of the rider's feet, causing less "hot spots", and being infinitely adjustable, they can end up being more comfortable than BOA, ratchet strap, or Velcro shoe closures for many cyclists.

However; you may have to futz around with loosening to get the shoe off, then re-tightening the shoes when putting them back on. And those lace keepers better work, or you are going to have laces flopping around, which could potentially cause issues. 

Caterpy has an idea which could be a better way to go. An alternative lace system that was first developed in Japan, Caterpy Laces can be used as a traditional lace replacement. They are an elastic lace alternative that needs not be tied nor do they need any maintenance. They can be adjusted in specific areas to either apply more pressure or less according to the wearers preferences and needs. Plus, you basically turn any lace-up shoe into a slip-on. 

There is a great explainer page on Caterpy's site (HERE). NOTICE: The Caterpy site visit will likely generate a ton of ads on your social feeds like it did mine, so be aware! Essentially each lace has "bumps" in it which you can use to pull through eyelets on your lace-up shoes to adjust the tension row-by-row on your shoes. Caterpy claims that their lacing system causes less undue pressure points and less overall fatigue due to pressure "hot spots" via their pressure mapping experiments. 

The Caterpy Laces come in three main lengths and a myriad of color choices. Price is $13.95 but Caterpy is running several specials right now so you can get a better deal from their site. (I am not affiliated with Caterpy in any way, just so you know)

Why I Am Reviewing These: I was contacted by a marketing agent who works with Caterpy about trying these in cycling shoes. That is not currently a market Caterpy engages with. Typically Caterpy is used in the running sports and casual wear categories. The agent was wondering if I'd give Caterpy Laces a try to see how they might work in cycling shoes. 

Shimano XC500 gravel shoes.
I have a pair of Shimano Limited Edition XC-500 gravel shoes with laces that I was never 100% satisfied with. Shimano lazer cut the holes for the laces instead of using true shoe eyelets, which meant that I never was able to get the laces tight where I wanted them to be tight. 

Furthermore; the laces are extra-long and the lace "garage" on the forefoot is not very secure. So there were times - especially on windy days - where I'd look down and see those day-glo yellow laces flopping in the wind. Not good. 

Subsequently these shoes got passed over for rides many times and not just for the aforementioned reasons. These were slower to get into than my strap, ratchet, or BOA shoes. So, they sat, barely used, that is, until I got these Caterpy Laces to try out.

The Standard length Caterpy Laces on the left.

Caterpy sent out two lengths for me to try out. I first put in the "Standard" 30" length Caterpy Laces but they were a bit long. Caterpy also sent me a "Short" , 20" pair which I subsequently swapped over to and which look a lot better than what I have in my image there. 

I have a very narrow foot, and especially in the forefoot area, it is hard for me to get a snug fit in a cycling shoe. The Caterpy Laces allowed me to get that front area tightened up where I really should have it. Then on top of the instep, I generally can get a cutting feeling because I am trying to fit my forefoot snugly. I can have both a snug forefoot and a loosened fit on the instep now making the shoe very comfortable. Plus I have no dangling laces to try to corral. 

Because I have two sets of Caterpy Laces, I decided to try out the other pair in my Chrome hi-tops which see a lot of commuter duty. So, I hope to bring two perspectives to this review on the Caterpy Laces.

Expectations: I expect that these laces will make the XC-500 gravel shoes something I will want to grab for rides more often. I expect to be able to get the shoes on and off again with relative ease and with no loosening or tightening of laces. On the commuter side I expect a similar slip-on shoe convenience, all-day comfort, and decent feel on the flat pedals of my commuter and utility bikes.

I'll be back after several rides with an update on this review.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Country Views: A Windy Outing

Escape Route: Exchange Park
 Since the snow earlier this week it has finally warmed up and it has begun to behave like Spring. That is why this is not a "Brown Season" post, although it could as well have been since there is very little that is green out there. But, it is Spring, so this is a "Country Views" post, the first of 2024. 

I have a component that I needed to get ridden for an upcoming review so you won't get to see my bike just yet. That will happen later this coming week. 

The day was Sunny, but it turned more and more cloudy as a system was rolling in that was going to bring rain late into the evening hours. This was preceded by a strong East-Southeast wind. The strongest I had ridden in yet this year, I am pretty sure. 

I was of a mind to ride North, since it had been quite some time that I had done that, and wind be damned, that is what I did. The crosswinds were wicked. I had a handful keeping the bike on-line. Good thing the roads were about as good as they ever get. Hardly any loose gravel, lots of smooth road bed, and the occasional pothole to dodge.

Heading North wasn't too bad on Burton Avenue.


Heading North I figured on getting to Gresham Road and then I thought I'd head East and cross Highway 63 and then see how I felt. Going North wasn't too bad with a quartering tailwind, but when the wind came out of more of an Easterly direction I was left to work it uphill on my own. 

At least it was warm. The temperatures were in the 50's. Any colder than that and the windchill would have factored in a lot more to make it a very unfavorable riding day. But with it nearly being April, and having some Sun to start out with, it felt warmer than it would have a month ago. 

A good looking barn on Burton Avenue. I'm sure I've used this for a "Barns For Jason" before!

Going East was brutal with the strong headwind.

Turning onto Gresham Road and heading East, I was met with a mighty gale that was roaring in my ears so loudly that I feared I may be overtaken by a vehicle and not hear it until it was too late. I therefore kept checking over my shoulder every so often, hoping to avoid such a fate. 

I had nothing to fear, by the way, as I saw nary a single vehicle during the entire gravel portion of the ride. Of course, it was mid-afternoon and on a Good Friday, so maybe everyone was settled into their farmhouses and getting ready for Easter. 

A collection.

Another nice barn, this time on Gresham Road.

The slow-grind into the wind reminded me how good I had it at Mid-South. I thought about that nearly windless ride and how, if it had been as windy as it was on this ride, how I would have suffered a lot more. Riding this with gears was bad enough, not to mention single speed! 

I was thinking about how this was going to go once I rounded the right hand turn onto Moline Road. The minimal Eastward trek was enough for me to throw in the towel as far as going that direction anymore. 

Rocks piled up from this nearby field over the years.

It is unusual to see so many old-school hay wagons like these sitting along Moline Road.

The road South was not as strenuous as going East, but the crosswind was a monster. I was very happy to have clear, hero-gravel road to ride. That crosswind on a deep, loose gravel road would have been a big problem. I was getting knocked around as it was. 

A good example of how nice the roads are this Spring.

While I was very happy to have these choice conditions as far as the roads go, I have to wonder how long it will last. I already have seen evidence of road graders out there. You have to think that the freshies are going to get laid down any day now with Spring planting nigh on the horizon. 

But I'll take this as long as we can have it. It has literally been years since the roads have been like this.  I was beginning to think that 2-3" deep crushed rock from ditch to ditch was going to be "normal riding conditions" for the foreseeable future. This clear road way is a refreshing reminder that no - that was not normal.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Friday News And Views

 Cost Of Crushed Rock At Historically High Levels:

Crushed rock, or more commonly known as gravel, is getting expensive. A recent story by, a radio station in Floyd County, Iowa, claims that Floyd County will pay an estimated 1.5 million or more in 2024 for crushed rock for their gravel road maintenance. 

The price per ton two years ago was $13.88 and the price today has risen to $15.28 per ton, the highest amount the county has ever paid for rock for their gravel roads. 

Comments: Obviously a lot of things have increased in price, but I feel as though there are some things we can point to which have caused counties to have to maintain the roads more often than in the past. 

One thing is the drought. Dry conditions seem to cause the gravel to break down more quickly, but I could be wrong about that. It just seems that way to me. Secondly, heavier agricultural equipment and the widespread use of semi tractor-trailers for grain transportation have wreaked havoc on the roads. Finally, Winter plowing grinds off gravel and pushes it into ditches. In years past such aggressive snow removal tactics were not employed. 

All this means now is that taxes extracted from residents will be stretched to cover higher priced materials to maintain the public roads. Paved roads cost even more, so paving everything is not the answer. In my opinion, farmers need to bear more of the responsibility for what their equipment does to roads. 

Image courtesy of Hayes/Manitou

Manitou Throws It Back To The 90's:

Manitou, who were there at the beginning of the suspension revelotion in mountain bikes, has announced a special edition Mattoc Pro fork all done up to look like Manitou's famous elastomeric suspension fork from the early 1990's. 

Those early Manitou forks were black and silver with a reputation for being rather flexy and having nearly no damping characteristics at all. but then again, most early suspension fork efforts were pretty dismal compared to the wild technology we have today. 

At about $1100.00, it is not cheap, but it surely is about 1100 times better than the original the fork is made to look like. 

Manitou doesn't get the "love" these days like Fox and Rock Shox, but they do make nice things which I think more folks should be taking a look at. Take this Mattoc Pro, for instance. It comes out of the box set at 140m of travel, but any user can adjust that at home with a simple procedure to go anywhere from 110mm to 150mm of travel making this 1750 gram fork versatile from XC to light enduro riding. 

Image courtesy of Esker Cycles
Houchin To Ride Esker Ti Japhy For 2024:

Ultra-distance athlete and single speeder Alexandera Houchin was announced as a sponsored rider by Esker Cycles this week. 

Houchin rides single speed a lot, but will also be using geared and possibly full-suspension bikes from Esker Cycles range in the future, according to a statement in the press release. 

Houchin is a well known and accomplished rider in the off-road ultra-distance field. She has set, or holds several records including the fastest single speed ride for Women and first woman overall at the 2019 Tour Divide, a record setting and winning ride in the Women's category at the Colorado Trail Race, plus many more wins and records. Alexandera has logged an incredible 6 consecutive Colorado Trail starts and finishes. Along with 3 consecutive Arizona Trail Race 800 starts and finishes. 

The Guitar Ted Podcast Episode #42: The Mid-South Review

I know many of you already waded through my written version of things concerning the Mid-South,
and if you did read that report, thank you

But if you are game for more, or would rather listen to two old dudes gab, the podcast version can be accessed HERE or wherever you get your podcasts from these days. 

There is a bit more content here concerning riding bandit, as well as some banter about the "fast folk" doing things that could be seen as unfair. 

Plus we do a Gravel Amplifier on two events also. What's that? Oh....well it is my opinion that mainstream cycling media thinks there are only Pro level gravel events. I don't adhere to that take, so N.Y. Roll and I search out smaller, affordably priced gravel events in places we think a lot of people would find interesting. We talk about that instead of hyping all the European and North American events the pro riders are doing. They get enough amplification.

Also, I'll throw it out here that we are always looking for events to bring to our audience's attention, so if you have any gravel events you think should get some run on "The Guitar Ted Podcast" then you can send me the information to:

Image courtesy of Race Face

Race Face Introduces ERA Carbon MTB Wheels:

Race Face introduced a new mountain bike wheel set yesterday called ERA. This is an all-new wheel with Race Face's Vault hubs and a 30mm internal rim width. The wheels are available in 29" or 27.5" sizes.

The big deal with these rims on the ERA wheel set is the compliance Race Face has tried to engineer into the wheels. Race Face believes that vertical compliance is a good thing, but that lateral compliance is also key to a successful ride off-road.

They point to how a rigid wheel with no give laterally will "ping" you off rocks and trail obstacles, knocking you off-line and causing handling to go out the window. The ERA wheels are designed to absorb some of that energy that would otherwise be sending you in a new direction.

Will it work? That's the big question here, but you have to give it to Race Face for trying. You can find out for yourself by ponying up $1599.00USD. 

That's a wrap on this week's news and views. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading the Guitar Ted Productions blog!!

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Guitar Ted Lube-Off: Flowerpower Post-Mid South Results

NOTICE: The Guitar Ted 'Lube-Off' is a comparison of different lubrication products for bicycle chains that is undertaken in 'real world' conditions in a set way. Then I compare and contrast the results with past 'Lube-Off' products to see "which one is best for me". This is done for entertainment purposes and the reader should apply their own reasoning and discernment while reading my 'Lube-Off' entries. What works for me may not work for you at all. None of the companies represented in this Lube-Off have any knowledge of this review, nor are they sponsoring me at all. 

The introduction to this lubricant can be read HERE.

The Effetto Mariposa Flowerpower Wax Lubricant has been on my King Fabrications "Honeman Flyer" now since I built up the bike. The bike was ridden briefly here on Iowa gravel, did several city commutes, and the lube went through 60+ miles of  Oklahoma red dirt roads. 

The test riding was pretty normal for dry conditions riding. Lots of dust! In fact, in Oklahoma at Mid-South it was so dusty that the red dirt was sticking to everything, including the chain. Here's a shot of my bike right after the Mid-South finish where you can see that the chain looks reddish in color.

Mid-South's red dirt roads made my chain match my bike's color scheme!

I also rode another three extra miles on the bike after the event and a little more goofing around before the start and after the finish. I figure I put on 60+ miles in Oklahoma on this bike. Total riding distance with what I've done here would be well over 100 miles. So, it is time to check into where we are at with the Flowerpower lubricant. 

What the chain looked like after I got back to Iowa.

The trip home saw the bicycle riding inside the back cargo area of a Toyota RAV 4 SUV. A lot of that accumulated red dirt was knocked off in the trip. That said, there was more than enough on the chain to cause some concern. 

First of all, I need to say that I had no negative issues with the Flowerpower wax at Mid-South. No noises, creaking, or anything like that. What I was looking for here were two things coming out of the riding so far. One - Did the Flowerpower wax lubricant actually keep things running smoothly? Secondly: Did the wax lube cause a gunk build-up? 

Added to this is the experiences I have had with SILCA Super-Secret lube and some others of this ilk where a lot of dust deposits on the chain isn't unusual. Typically a quick wipe-down with a terry cloth rag does the trick. Usually the dust comes right off and the chain looks great again.

The "Finger Test" showed only dirt. No "gunk" or other lubricant based residue.

The "Finger Test", where I wipe a portion of the chain with my index finger along the side of the chain that contacts the gears, showed only red dirt. This was good to see. Any gunky-build-up would have been a cause for alarm. The chain rollers did feel slippery and I could detect a slightly waxy feel to the chain itself. 

This gunky build-up came off the freewheel. There was some on the chain ring as well, but nothing  too concerning.

I did see a little gunky build-up on the freewheel and chain ring, but I did not clean these parts ahead of putting this Flowerpower lubricant on the chain, which was thoroughly cleaned. I noted that this residue was not reddish brown in color, which is weird. But whatever, I went ahead and wiped down the chain. This only partially cleared things up. I ended up having to very carefully wipe each link and I used cotton tipped sticks (Q-tips) to clean in between the chain links. 

The chain after a cleaning session.

I did not get every spec of red dirt off the chain, but that doesn't matter. What we have here is a higher maintenance wax chain lubricant than we would have with the SILCA product or with DuMonde Tech lube. Flowerpower isn't bad, but if it requires this level of maintenance versus the others, which require almost no maintenance, then - at least in that view - the Flowerpower lube is not measuring up to the "best". 

It did keep the chain running smoothly though, and there was no sign of gunk build-up. So, on those two points I was impressed.

That said, my intuition tells me that what Flowerpower claims may be true. That being that it has staying power in all conditions. Which tells me that this stuff would work great when it is wet. That may get tested soon as I see we are to have several rainy days in the near future. 

Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Ten Years Of Tamlanding: Part 2

The Tamland Two as it was when I purchased it in 2014
In the previous post I told the story of how the Tamland model from Raleigh came to be and my part in that story. Today I will answer the question about how I got my 2014 Tamland Two.

There was no mention ever from Raleigh, its representatives, or from anyone internally, that I would be receiving a Tamland for my advice to them. I know that in the past some folks, after hearing that from me, think that is "unfair" and that due to the Tamland's initial success that I should have been credited by Raleigh, or at least compensated in some way. 

While I can understand where those sentiments come from, I never felt entitled in that way. That said, I did seek out a Tamland Two through the shop where I worked, as they were a Raleigh dealer at that time. I was required to work through the channels for an "employee discount" from Raleigh which was usually pretty generous. 

That said, I wasn't guaranteed a Tamland by any means. Dealers got first crack at inventory, and as I stated in yesterday's post, the initial shipment of Tamlands had been completely committed to dealers via sales. So, I had to wait for the "second wave' of orders to hit which did not happen until Spring of 2014, despite the bike coming out in the Fall of '13. 

And it did, obviously, come in. So, I spent my own money on my Tamland, albeit at a nice discount, and was not "gifted" anything, in terms of the bike. I did get a nice Tamland hoodie later on as a gift from Brian Fournes for my part in helping with the design and promoting the bike in my writing for this blog and my gravel website. So, it wasn't as though Raleigh did not recognize my contribution. Brian said at the time that he thought my purchasing the bike would mean more to those thinking about the bike for themselves and that he was happy things worked out the way that they had.

Ten years is a long time to own and ride one bicycle, but obviously, this is one I'll likely not ever let go while I can still ride. And it "works" just as well today as I thought this sort of bicycle would back in 2009. It is what I would have had built, besides the brake standard, back then. So, in a way, I got the custom designed bicycle I was wanting backed by a "real company". Although now days Raleigh is a shell of its former self. 

That the Tamland still represents the bread and butter behind most gravel bicycle designs in 2024 is kind of amazing. The geometry has become something of a standard, and the features, like being able to swallow even larger tires than I had imagined, (I've had 47mm tires in this frame), is astounding. I never thought this design would be good for 650B tires and wheels, yet I've run those in this bike with great success. 

Since I spec'ed a standard bottom bracket, there will always be some way to modernize the drive train, if I want/need to. The only thing I regret was not spec'ing through axles, but that wasn't even on the radar in 2012. However; more recent Tamlands did have that feature. I also think sometimes that maybe having a 44mm head tube would have been nice, but I still think the Tamland was, and is, a classic gravel bike. 

Look for the latest on this bike in a week or so from now when I introduce a new item in for review.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Ten Years Of Tamlanding: Part 1

Ten years ago last week on March 21st, I brought home a new bicycle. It was, at that time, a rare 'gravel specific' bike. Of course, you long time blog readers may have already guessed that I am referring to the Raleigh Tamland model. 

Since it has been ten years, I thought I would celebrate the fact by sharing the back-story in one fell swoop instead of piecemeal, as I have over the years. Many of you know bits and pieces of the Tamland story, but hopefully through reading this you might learn something new. 

To tell the story properly we have to go back a few more years to around 2009 or so when I was seeing bicycles at Trans Iowa that were a bit more adept at gravel than my drop bar converted Karate Monkey. By this time I had already had two custom frames made and I had a frame builder that I was happy with. Also, I had my friend Ben Witt, who was on a similar trajectory as I. He was a bit more influenced by Rawland Bikes and was thinking of a fat-tired road bike with fenders that would have the grace to go on any road anywhere.

At this point, around 2009, Ben and I had almost fine-tuned a custom bike idea and we were about "this close" to pulling the trigger on having the bikes made by Pofahl. But then some developments occurred that put that idea on ice. 

First off, there was the crowd-sourced idea from Rawland for an "any-road" bike. The Rawland blog kept drawing ideas for a new bike from its readers but when I saw that the proposed idea, dubbed the Nortvind, was veering into rando bike territory, I bailed on that ever being a solution. 2010 rolled around and I still didn't have the bike I was envisioning. Meanwhile, I knew (because I saw the prototypes at Trans Iowa) that Salsa Cycles was well on its way to producing a gravel "racing bike" and that it probably wouldn't have the 42mm tire clearances I wanted. Well, let's be honest here. In 2010 there were no 42mm gravel tires, so I get why Salsa was not into bigger tires for that reason, plus there were other factors involved in their decision making process as well.

Prototype La Cruz Ti by Salsa Cycles as ridden by Joe Meiser at T.I.v5 in 2009.

Brands at this juncture were hedging their bets on gravel bikes by making them with cyclo-cross geometry so that they could also be sold as cyclo-cross bikes. However; this was also not my cup of tea, but until I saw the Warbird in 2012, my thoughts were that this cyclo cross thing was probably where we would land for gravel bikes and that I was stuck with that being the reality. 

Tired of waiting: I bought the Orange Crush in 2011.

By late 2010, after getting strung along by Rawland, and finding myself in tighter financial stead, I decided that I would have to get a gravel bike from a company that sold value oriented frames and forks, like Surly. The Cross Check was an early 'no-brainer' choice as it was relatively inexpensive and was already a staple on the gravel scene, as far as bike choices went. 

However; late into 2010 Black Mountain Cycles hinted at a frame and fork that would bear their brand and be pretty competitively priced. It was, of course, the Monster Cross frame. It compared very favorably to a Cross Check in may ways, but there were details I liked better than I found on a Cross Check. So, in 2011, I took delivery of the "Orange Crush" and that was my gravel bike for the time being. Done and done! Right?

Well, first of all, while I like the Monster Cross it is not what I really wanted in a gravel bike. Someday, or so I thought, that old idea Ben and I had would be something I'd have to get on and have made. But along about 2012 I received a phone call while I was at work in the old bike shop I worked at then. Strange. I never got phone calls unless one of my children were sick or Mrs. Guitar Ted had something important to relay. 

It turned out to be my contact at the time for 29"ers at Raleigh. Brian Fournes was on the line asking if it would be alright if I was put on speaker phone to speak with Raleigh's development team. They asked "If you could design a gravel bike from the ground up, what would you include. Anything is on the table as long as it is reasonable and saleable."


Off the top of my head, I repeated all the stuff that Ben and I had fine-tuned over the course of our brainstorming up an all-roads bike in 2009. I listed everything I could think of, but I did change a couple things. First, I listed that it had to have disc brakes. Originally I wanted Paul Components "Racer" brakes, but I knew that the market was heading toward disc brakes. I also stated that the bike had to have full-run brake housings as a result, which was also a change-up from the original design. But everything else I stated in 2009 with Ben's help was included including:

  • Slacker than 72° head tube angle. I hedged a bit and asked for 71.5°. 
  • 73° seat tube angle.
  • Steel, curved blade fork.
  • Bottom bracket drop of more than 70mm. (Raleigh went with 72.5mm)
  • Steel tubing. (I asked for 853 Reynolds but Raleigh said in the end 653 was a better choice)
  • No severely sloping top-tubes. 
  • Rack & Fender mounts
  • Clearance for 42mm tires with fenders
  • Standard threaded bottom bracket
  • 1 1/8th steer tube
  • A chain peg

The Raleigh Tamland breaks cover in 2013. (Image by

I got off the phone, marveled at the occurrence, and pretty much promptly forgot all about it. I mean, was any of that really going to happen? No way, right? I mean, this sort of stuff happens all the time. Bike companies ask random people what they want and something totally different ends up happening or nothing at all happens. I've had that experience before this phone call and after it with the cycling industry. No big deal.

But then in 2013 a bit of buzz happened as Raleigh showed a Tamland bike which was supposedly 'gravel specific'. Now, I had no idea if this was THAT bike. Raleigh never told me a thing about the project's name, nor did they breath a word about it after that 2012 phone call to me. So, I was completely in the dark as to which, if any, of my ideas were applied to the Tamland. 

Meanwhile a debate sprang up about whether or not gravel bikes even needed to be. "Just use a cyclo cross bike!" and my favorite anytime something new comes out, "They are just finding new reasons to make us have to buy a new bike!" I really love that one! As if the bicycle industry forces people into purchasing new stuff. Ha!

March 21st, 2014: The Tamland is on my front doorsteps.

I grabbed anything that mentioned the upcoming Tamland to see if I could learn about its features, but all that was really mentioned was that it would have 40mm Clement MSO tires on it, which were a new gravel tire at the time. It wasn't until just before Interbike 2013 that I learned that yes- at least a few of my ideas were on the bike. I was both thrilled and horrified. Thrilled for obvious reasons. Horrified because what if this flops and then people find out it was because of my ideas that the Tamland failed.

Finally, I arrived at the Interbike indoor floor show and I went to Raleigh's booth straight away. I ran into Brian Fournes just outside of their space on the floor. He asked if I had seen the Tamland yet. I replied that I was just on my way to check it out. I asked him what, if any of my suggestions Raleigh used. Brian replied, "All of them!"

The Tamland Two as it looks today

 I was instantly horrified again. I told him that if it fails it probably would be my fault and that made me feel uncomfortable. But Brain instantly reassured me by saying that the first run of Tamlands was sold out to dealers already! 

So.... At that point I was thrilled about the existence of a bicycle I had an influential part in. I was happy that it was met with acceptance and seemed to be well on its way to becoming a success for Raleigh. But how could I get one? 

That will be answered in my next post.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Catching Up

Look for a Lube-Off update soon.
Whew! Thank you for being patient as I worked through my Mid-South report. Now it is time to catch up on what has been happening since a week ago when I returned home. 

I was pretty torched after that trip. Tuesday was essentially a write-off. I was very out of sorts and very tired. Wednesday didn't start out a whole lot better either. 

The weather was very blustery and chilly on Tuesday and Wednesday, so along with my low levels of energy I just did little efforts and I tried not to overextend myself in my weakened state. Rest isn't coming as easily as I had hoped for, though, and short nights have been the norm so far.

One of the things I tackled immediately after coming home was to diagnose what was going on with the slipping seat post at Mid-South on the Honeman Flyer. The clamp was torqued as high as I dared and still no love. 

I decided to switch out the post, but before I did that, I put a caliper to the shaft and found out it was barely larger than 27mm in diameter. Okay! Now it all makes sense. The Wolf Tooth clamp probably is fine, it was the Tamer post being undersized. I put a caliper to a few other 27.2 mm seat posts and confirmed that it was an undersized seat post issue. 

So, I grabbed a PRO 27.2mm post with a slight set-back in black and put that on with the same saddle, the WTB Volt, and did a test ride. I am still fine tuning my position after Mid-South and when I get it dialed in I'll get another longer gravel ride in to confirm everything and then I hope to write up a final take on the project. 

The new seatpost is in.
I'll also have a take on the Flowerpower chain wax after Mid-South. I think you will find the results interesting. I know that I was a bit surprised. I'll contrast what I found with how SILCA Super-Secret lube works in extremely dusty situations also. 

The weather went to heck after I got back also. Really cold, blustery, and a touch of snow has greeted my return. This will keep me out of riding the country for a bit. It's probably a wise thing anyway, since I am run down and the chance of getting sick is pretty high. Plus, I have a new component in for review which I cannot talk about just yet. So, it isn't as though I don't have anything to do. 

Stay tuned, we're back on track now! 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

The Mid-South Report: Getting Home & Thoughts On The Events

Sunrise Monday morning
This will be the last report filed for the 2024 Mid-South event. I'll give a brief overview of our trip home then I'll hit up on some thoughts on the events overall. By the way, a special review of the Honeman Flyer will be done soon, but will not be a part of this post. 

Monday was a tough one for me. I did not feel 100% until we got about three hours from home, but it was a good trip home. We stopped in Kansas City at a home of some friends of Ben and Marty where I met Bob-not-Robert (yes- that is what he goes by), and we had some delicious KC barbecue. Then we stopped in Des Moines to drop off that new Salsa Cycles shirt to Steve Fuller. It was great to see Steve there for a hot minute.

We saw these lavender colored fields, but I do not know what it is that is growing here. 

At any rate, I made it home in one piece and I was wiped out from all the trip's activities and events. I was really happy to get back to my family and my own bed. 

Final Thoughts: So, Mid South.....what do I think........ Well, this is one really special event. That's very apparent. Bobby and Crystal, along with a bunch of help from all over, have crafted an experience that has to be felt to be understood. On one hand it reminds me of old-school gravel events where people concoct their own version of a bicycle event, throw in some good ol' hospitality, a little history, and fun, whip it all up, and you gotta very unique gravel experience. Many events have done this in many various ways. Mid-South does this on a larger scale, but they do it. Really, really well

Don't ask. I don't know anything.

I said that Mid South was Bobby Wintle. Obviously that is not the truth, but spiritually, yeah....I think it is true. I got to see Bobby in action at the finish line. I saw his style of leadership. I saw his pouring out of himself for the entire event. 

On Sunday Bobby took me over to his house, just he and I. It was a very kind gesture on his part, and I think it was something done to show me how much he cared about me, our relationship, and his gratitude for what I did which eventually inspired him. Bobby shared with me about his recovery from Mid-South. The inter venous vitamin injection, the massage to relieve his pain and tensions from hugging so many people. I don't know how many other event directors actually physically, mentally, and emotionally sacrifice themselves like Bobby Wintle does, but I bet most do not go this far. 

Then the event itself is really multiple events all at one time. It is a music festival, a running event, a bicycling event, and a party in various places. All in the span of about five days. I have no idea how Bobby and Crystal, and well, their entire support staff - how they live through it all. The event is a massive production and we got to see a lot of it coming down on Sunday which just reinforced the feelings I have that this is an incredible undertaking. 

The people I met were from all over. Different ideals, different cultures, different everything. I had my eyes opened. I learned a lot of things. But one thing I learned that went and cut across all those differences was that we all need each other. We need the community in gravel and elsewhere in our lives. It binds us together, but when it is good and honest, it gives us Life. 

I have to thank Erik Mathy, who, without his energetic activism and ideas, this would never have happened. I have to thank Li King for the talent and craftsmanship that went into producing the bike I rode. I wanted to thank Michael Lehmkuhl, Marty Larson, Ben Witt, and Justin Michaels for catering to me, putting up with me, and generally just for being so kind to me. I owe all these folks a lot. 

Of course, there is Bobby and Crystal Wintle, without whom Mid-South would not exist. Thank You!


It is kind of hard to put this one into words that suffice to describe what I experienced at Mid South. I recall several pivotal moments and intimate things which I don't think I can ever share outside that little community of people I was privileged to get to know. 

There were kindnesses, hugs, the look in a person's eyes that was somehow just different than your day-to-day interactions this time. People had joy. There was hope. Optimism. The gravel family really showed out for me this time. Maybe I just have not been sensitive to it before, but maybe it is just a Mid South thing. I cannot say. 

Sorry about all the vaguery and shadowy comments. I really was just struck  differently this time, and besides the obvious roads, bikes, event formatting stuff, which is blah, blah, blah... Mid South had what I think is very unique, rare, and makes one want to come back again. If there was a theme to this thing, it was that: Many people said that they wanted to come back again. I think that says a lot. 

I was told that the red dirt of Oklahoma will never truly be washed out of my clothes. Maybe, maybe not. I do know that red dirt will be part of my soul from now on.

That's the conclusion of the Mid South Report. Now back to the regularly scheduled blog postings.....

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Mid South Report: The After-Party

Sunday morning Sunrise.
 Sunday. The event was over, yet we had one more thing to participate in. It was arguably more important to Ben, Marty, and Michael than the riding was. It was the day that these guys were to cook a special home-cooked, Mid-western themed meal for the Mid-South crew including Bobby, Crystal, and their special guests. The guys told me that they expected up to 40 people. 

The venue would be a rented home about a block or so from Bobby and Crystal's home. It was a two story home with a small back porch and a huge back yard. The full kitchen was well appointed but perhaps a tic too small for three guys trying to cook a big meal. At least Ben was outside grilling the two hams in a Weber grill. 

But before all that happened we had gone down in the morning for breakfast at a Mexican restaurant. It was a good place and we all got our fill of vittles. Then it was downtown to meet up with the weary-eyed District crew. The day was a bright, Sunny day, warm, but not hot. The wind was up and it was breezy downtown. The doors to District were flung open and a few people were wandering around. 

They were tearing down the finish line arch when we got there.

The Merman bikes are really cool and ride very nicely.

This custom mountain bike had an insanely painted Cane Creek Helm fork on it.

Check out that paint! I was told it is called "Bad Magic".

That drop out insert? Anodized with a special process.

We hung out at District for a bit. Bobby came by and his voice was blown out. He sounded like an 80 year old man with a three-pack-a-day habit. We ended up going across the street to shop a bit, then over to a local brewery for drinks. 

Shopping for the special dinner later.

My photo shoot with Erik Mathy was in the late afternoon on Sunday.

There was grocery shopping and my photo shoot with Erik Mathy, which I rode to. Ben wouldn't let me out of the Air BnB without a sandwich for lunch. So, there I was, hustling to make my 3:15-3:30pm appointment with Erik out in the country with a turkey and cheese sandwich hanging out of my mouth. It's really hard to breath, eat bread, and ride hard all at the same time, by the way!

Then the guys picked me up and we went in to town to the home that was rented out for us to cook at. Well, not me, because I only barely assisted. I pretty much was a hangar-on at this deal the rest of the night. And what a night! YouTube guitar professional Rhett Shull showed up and he and Tyler from District Cycles played some tasty guitar tunes. Bobby even jumped in for a bit of finger pickin' goodness. Lots of great people showed up, maybe a little more than two dozen in the end. 

Bobby playing guitar, (back to camera) with Tyler (obscured) and Rhett Shull.

The house party was a pretty special thing. Probably the best part of the entire weekend. Out of respect for the details that were shared in that house I will leave it at that.

Suffice it to say that good food was enjoyed by some damn fine people and we all got to know each other just a bit better. I won't be forgetting that night for a long, long time, if ever. 

Towards the end of the night I wasn't feeling so hot, so I sat by myself and just listened to the people's conversations and watched as people tried to say goodbye and leave but were still wandering around the house a half an hour later.  

That wasn't some pent-up, socially awkward Mid-Western thing either. It was a genuine feeling - I think - that people that had experienced that evening did not want it to end, but, as with all things, there was an end. 

Someone or another finally took pity on me and Justin motioned that we were headed back to the house. I was happy to get back to a bed and a bathroom, and I used it, I'll just put that out there like that. I was fine afterward, but anyway, enough detail on that!

Then all that was left was to get home to Waterloo. I'll have that bit and a final take on Mid-South next.