Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Decade Of Nonsense: Part 4

2007 marked the first time in ten years that I had raced a mtb event
 2007 continued on with the insanity of activity on the blog here and in my life. In many ways, it was a watershed year.

This was the year that I had two custom 29"er frames done. Both were conceived at nearly the same time and to this day stand as the only two custom frames I've ever had done for me. I still have both of them as well. One I have had rolling since this time, the other has been built and torn down again at least three times and is currently a bare frame and fork. These were both things that were results of the blog, initially here.

Of course, a lot of the first part of the year was spent getting ready for T.I.v3, and saying goodbye to Jeff Kerkove, privately, and alone. He wasn't really "leaving" at the time but he was obviously going on to Ergon, and was not around much after Spring hit. Frostbike that year saw me staying with Brent of Twin Six in the then "World Headquarters" of the fledgling company, which at that time was in his basement.

Plans were also being put together for a "Big Wheeled Ballyhoo", which was supposed to be this "festival" of riding and industry demos of 29"ers that was originally just an idea by me to "get together" and ride 29"ers. However; I let myself get convinced by my Twenty Nine Inches "boss" that it should/could be this "really big deal" someday. Let me just say that the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo ended up becoming a huge thorn in my side for three years, and never really ever was what I wanted it to be. The last year, it would have been but for a freakish snow storm, but by then I was burnt out on the idea. All that to say that I regret where I let this idea go in the beginning of '07. I sure have learned a lot since then!

The Big Wheeled Ballyhoo in '07 was the only one that actually happened in full.
 Later in Spring I was to go to a "press camp" and I reported on that and my going to Sea Otter in Monterey California. Here I was less than two years from starting this blog being jetted out to California, staying at a beachfront motel, eating at Keith Bontrager's home, and going to Sea Otter. It was crazy stuff that I never had envisioned happening to me at all at that time.

Bam! I get back to home from this surreal California experience and then I find out the cue sheets for T.I.v3 are way off and need to all be redone. This and the fact that I was left to organize the event on my own was overwhelming. On top of all of this, I had a guy from Portland, Oregon coming out to write a story about Trans Iowa to be part of a book he was going to do about "Renegade Sports". All this and Trans Iowa was a bit too much, but there was no rest for the wicked and I had another Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational coming, which was basically saved by David Pals doing all the groundwork, or that never would have happened, most likely.

More bike review craziness, I was on a mtb 12 hour four man team at the Iowa 24 hr race, dubbed "Team Stoopid", because we were all on single speeds, and Interbike came and went again. Summer went by fast!

Jeff Kerkove's last "Friday Night Lights" gravel grinder ride announcement.
Jeff made his final ride here a Friday night gravel grinder before he moved off to Colorado, and thus ended an era of my blogging/work career here. It just hasn't been the same since. In fact, before Jeff left, I was rudely reminded of how things were changing when his replacement left in the beginnings of July, just as the RAGBRAI work load increased. It was even worse due to the fact that the ride was coming to our area, so repair jobs were at an all time high, and I had no one at the shop to help bear the burden. It was a tough Summer at work! Not having Jeff there was crudely pushed into my face and I had to make a major adjustment in my ways at work, which has lasted right up till this current time.

Well, the end of the year finally approached, and promises were still being made on the front, so I was sure that '08 would see less blogging here. Not only that, but I made an ill conceived decision to become a contributor to another site with another individual that didn't work out. It was good that I tried, but I think it was ill-advised and I wasn't very experienced at the time. It didn't seem to trip me up here though, so that was good. 

The interesting thing about '07 was how many that I knew locally and regionally quit blogging, or curtailed their postings severely and I thought it odd. At the time I did anyway. Now looking back, maybe they were the brilliant ones! In the end, I was forging ahead and I had good intentions and hopes for a different future. We'll see how in '08 and '09 that all fell apart.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday News And Views

"Crudflap"- Not Mud Flap!

Okay, so I got the green light to let the cat out-o-the bag here by "Mr. K", the inventor of this lil' gizmo dubbed the "Crudflap". "What the heck is a Crudflap?!", you ask? Well, maybe I should start with the reasons why, then it will make more sense.

Mr. K sent me an e-mail several months ago asking for my assistance in prototyping an idea he had that would "shield" the chain and chain rings from the near constant dumping of "crud" off the fat bike's enormous front tire. His idea was that if the dirt, spooge, and slush generated by the front wheel could be kept off the chain and chain rings that the drive train would work better, longer, and maybe shifting performance at the front derailluer could be enhanced. I agreed and soon we were sending measurements and images back and forth along with plastic molded bits for me to try out.
Piles of broken dreams

There were several failures and near misses, but eventually we hit upon a couple prototypes that worked well enough that I have field tested them and, in my opinion, the ideas actually do have some merit. First off, it is nice not to hear that "scrunch-crunch" of grit on the chain after running through dirt, mud, and sand on trails or slush infested streets. I also think that this device does indeed improve chain life and shifting quality.

Right now it is still an idea in its infancy, but you never know. I think it's something worth pursuing. It isn't without its faults, (fitment for various bikes/drive train set ups would need to be figured out, for one thing), but it is a viable idea that I feel improves the fat bike riding experience.

Dunderbeist- New Fat Rubber from 45NRTH
Weird Names- New Tires:

Also from Frostbike 2015- New weirdly named fat bike tires from 45NRTH. Two new "tweener" sized tires dubbed "Flowbeist" and "Dunderbeist" have emerged and I got a really close look at them. Think widely spaced knobs, really open tread patterns here that are optimized for front and rear specific duties.

My impressions are that these are really for snow or soft conditions. Maybe small, rocky stuff, if it is loose. The lateral side knobs are impressive and look to aid in stability in cornering and for just keeping a bike on the line you want to be on. I saw these tires mounted on 70mm rims and on Clown Shoes. The tire takes on a really crowned, rounded look on the 70's and on the hundies they flatten out noticeably. The volume of 4.8's is not there. Not even close, but these tires should fit a wider variety of bikes than Bud and Lou does.

Of course, these are tubeless just like the Vanhelgas are. When I suggested that these might really be best suited to snow, the fellows of 45NRTH shot right back with "All our tires are best on snow." Going further, they seemed to think that none of their tires are really very well suited to "normal single track", which kind of took me by surprise. Take that for what it is worth.....

The Blackborow DS dominates in the deep stuff
 Late Winter Punch:

Winter was kind of.........not Winter for the longest time, but February came and it kicked in. First we got about ten inches on the first day of the month, then that kind of, well.....evaporated, for lack of a better explanation for it. By the time it snowed again the day before yesterday, the old, ten inches of snow was a sparse, barely there three to four inches, and with a lot of bare ground showing. Now we're back up there again. Maybe to about seven inches, or more, but the biggest difference is the moisture content of this snow, which is a lot higher than it has been in a long time.

The nicer snow consistency means that I have been riding into and through stuff that has been really surprising me a lot. I expect to wash out, get bogged down, or knocked off line, losing my momentum, but many times I just keep going! A good example was yesterday when I traversed a good section of deep snow that had been post-holed by ped traffic and I was expecting to lose it and have to push. I went right through the entire section instead, and the Lou tires just tractored on through. I had to keep a steady cadence, but it worked and it was fun to be able to clean these sections that have always thwarted me before.

Okay, that's a wrap for today. Get out and enjoy the end of Winter or beginning of Spring, wherever you are in the Northern Hemisphere!

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Just a quick pit stop to fool around with the camera.
It isn't often that you get to ride on clear, mostly clean pathways and roads to work, and then come home on five inches or more of snow that has just fallen. Not only that, but this snow had plenty of moisture in it and actually was decent to ride on/through. I was a day of contrasts.

The highlight of the ride home was perhaps the BMW 730i driver that couldn't negotiate the water tower hill and spun around sideways. Good thing some big truck wasn't blasting up the hill or there would have been trouble. Those low profile, sporty tires are cool in Summer, but kind of like a pig on ice in winter.

Traction action was no problem with the Blackborow DS though. Those Lou tires on Clown Shoe rims spread out to lay down a really big patch through the newly fallen snow. I only had an issue on a steep ramp where I had to push and across the empty field near my home since there was a bunch of underlying icy snow patches. Otherwise I was surprised by the amount of places I was able to ride on. I attribute part of this to having some "real" snow for once instead of fluff or sugary snow granules that make riding nigh unto impossible. It looks to be cold and snowy again this weekend, so maybe another late Winter push in deep snow is in order.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Frostbike 2015: Salsa Cycles' New Tandem

Finally! Salsa is going to unleash the Powderkeg
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

Tandems- You can't live with 'em, and you can't live without them. At least from the standpoint of the cycling industry, I feel this is true. I get why people like them. I mean, if you are going to ride together, why not work together? No one gets dropped and you both experience the scenery together. If you have compatibility issues, tandems can be a nightmare, but for the right team, it can be awesome.

Tandems, in my opinion, are also one of the least understood machines in cycling by the non-tandem riding public. To design a tandem the right way, tons of R&D and testing should be done. Components are stressed far more than on traditional bikes, so wheels, forks, and drive train parts have to be up to the abuse. That's why good tandems cost a lot of money. The cost of entry to try a tandem is at odds with most people's commitment level. Most folks are just curious, but tandem bicycles demand a strong commitment. Well....the good ones do. 

 Salsa went with a mountain bike tandem, which I know is going to disappoint many folks looking for "road bike" tandems, but c'mon! 90% of tandems that come through my stand in a year are not being raced or being ridden in group rides. They are mostly recreationalists that want a tandem to ride on for fun, recreational rides. Most never use the drops on drop bars, so why even demand that you get a "road bike tandem". It's silly.

Take off the Schwalbe mountain bike tires on this, slap on some fun lovin', fast, comfortable Big Apples and cruise pavement till the cows come home in comfort. Go ahead, mount a set of aero bar clip ons if you must, but don't hate on this bike because it isn't a road racing tandem. Besides, the Powderkeg can be far more versatile than any road bike tandem. It can be a RAGBRAI fun machine, (and the color helps there for certain!), and it could be your fire road exploration bike, or it could be the perfect rig to explore any unpaved road anywhere. Try that on a "road racing tandem".

The Powderkeg was perhaps the least well kept secret in the Salsa line up for years. Prototypes were wielded right out in the open, and Salsa Cycles even showed one in their booth a couple of Frostbikes ago. Everyone knew it existed, but you couldn't buy one. Now you can buy this highly refined, battle tested rig for 4G. That isn't bad at all when you consider that many Salsa bikes easily eclipse that figure and are not tandems. Would I get one? Yes- if I can scrape up the cabbage. In my little world it would solve several issues, like getting my son out on gravel, my wife on a quick recreational ride, and my daughter on a bike at all. (That's right, she's never ridden a bike at 14 years old because she doesn't want to crash.) We will see.....

Bottom line is that this is a rare bike in a world where "good" tandems cost at least this much and far more. Too bad that this rig was overshadowed by the massive interest in the new Warbirds, because this bike is cool, really, and I think it deserved more attention than it got.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Frostbike 2015: The New Warbird

A new, aluminum framed Warbird
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

During Saddledrive 2012, Salsa Cycles released news of a gravel road specific design dubbed "Warbird". I remarked with a post that was not much loved by some folks at Salsa Cycles, (seen HERE), and afterward, I heard from many who had similar opinions on this bike.  While the Warbird was a great concept, I felt it was not fully realized as the "gravel bike" it could have been.

Obviously, Salsa Cycles has realized this as well and went back to the drawing board and have produced a second generation Warbird so different from the first, that in many ways, it seems like a brand new model rather than a ground up redesign. Let me say right up front- I am very impressed with this new Warbird. 

First things first- There is tire clearance and to spare on this new version. Any gravel rider will be stoked on the options for rubber with the Warbird, short of doing a "monstercross" bike. You say you don't need big meats? Fine- you'll have copious amounts of mud clearance then. That's great too, right? Especially so in Springtime gravel events featuring potentially wet dirt roads.  The Warbird has better clearance than most cyclo cross bikes do, and I find that fact to be odd, but again, I think it is a fantastic idea. Options for the end user are better than limitations.

The Al frame is both lighter and more compliant than the outgoing Ti model.
The grandiosely named "Class 5 VRS" is really a marketing term that refers to how the new Warbird is designed to absorb high frequency, low amplitude vibrations. In other words, it is a clever new way to say "laterally stiff-vertically compliant", only this time there may actually be something to the claim.  I saw how the stays actually do flex and with the design being totally controlled by Salsa right down to a new carbon lay-up for a fork, I can see how this bike may be the new benchmark in ride quality for gravel road bicycles. (Admittedly- there are few of these, but still.) The thing is, absorbing the constant "paint-shaker" vibrations that we experience on gravel roads should be a big focus for these bikes. Salsa seems to think so, and this was one of the main features about this bike I am attracted to.

The fact that Salsa managed to produce an aluminum frame that is lighter and more compliant than the outgoing titanium model was really most impressive. I would like to try that bike just because I find this claim so intriguing. If that bike does out do the titanium Warbird, it would be one smoove ride fer shure! I know how the titanium bike felt, and it wasn't bad.

Claimed room for up to 44mm tires here.
Yes, this is a better Warbird, but I was disappointed in the fact that Salsa didn't dare to tweak the geometry at all. Look, I know most readers here cannot see what the heck a few millimeters of bottom bracket drop does, and that's fine, but I can guarantee that anyone who might find a bike with a decently low bottom bracket would be able to discern that the bike they were on was more stable feeling on gravel. The Warbird's got an almost cyclo cross-ish 70mm of BB drop, and why is that exactly? Last time I was at a gravel race, it was hours long, had no barriers, and most folks aren't leaning into corners and pedaling at 25 mph. I just don't get the fascination with high bottom brackets for these bicycles because they just don't need them. The other thing is head angles, which vary across the line up of Warbirds, while fork offset remains the same across six sizes. That just seems odd as well, and I still think they are too steep on the bigger sizes of Warbirds, but I could maybe live with that. Maybe.

Then there will be those that don't like any bike without rack and fender mounts. Ya know, I don't necessarily disagree with Salsa's choices here. I've seen and personally experienced what a wet B Road can do to a bicycle, and I don't think fenders are a good choice there. Racks? Look....just frame bag it, or seat bag it. No rack mounts on a bicycle these days is not the deal killer it once was. However, in a compromise, I could see a hidden fender mount sort of deal ala Trek's Domane bike, which has these. I mean, it would be an option to those who use the Warbird as a commuter, road bike, or for select gravel events where sticky, gooey mud isn't an issue. So yeah.....maybe they could have at least given you that option. 

Out of the six color schemes, this was the only one I thought was a bit too garish.
In the end analysis, the new Warbirds are head and shoulders above the first ones, in my opinion. Spec is better. Function is better. Colors are killer, (with the possible exception of the black one), and graphics are really subdued, which I like. Would I ride one? Yeah, and probably the aluminum one, just because I am so intrigued by the claims of a nice ride quality there. Although, you have to love that a carbon road bike frame can handle up to 44mm tires, right? I wouldn't discount that bike. However; it is spendy, and that's a consideration for a bike I know will see some rough treatment.

And what about dropping the titanium model? Well, the new one kills that bike on ride quality and weight, so I see why Salsa is dropping it, but perceptions being what they are, I can also see why many folks will shy away due to preconceived notions. Salsa's GM, Justin Julian was non-committal when I asked what would be the future of titanium at Salsa Cycles. In my opinion, I think they are moving away from the material, and I understand their reasons why, if they do. It's a tough deal to keep moving along with titanium when the material is limiting you in respects to design compared to carbon and aluminum. Steel? Yeah......then there is that nut to crack. I still think a steel Warbird would make sense, but, I guess Salsa doesn't see it that way.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Frostbike 2015: A Frozen Walkathon

El Presidente' Speaks! Steve Flagg addresses the crowd Friday night
Frostbike 2015:

The Frostbike 2015 was.........interesting. Not in the way you might expect, nor in the way you've come to know if you've been reading here over the past several years when I have reported upon my experiences. No "Mike's Bikes" shenanigans, no gnarly weather happenings, and no car impoundments. (Really! That happened one time.)

Nope! This time it was something entirely different, but perhaps no less weird. It started Friday when we woke up here at Guitar Ted Laboratories spaciously rundown headquarters. None of us were staying home as the entire family was to make the trip to the "TC" to have various kinds of fun. The family needed a breakway since we've been mostly holed up here with sicknesses and weather not conducive to outdoor fun. Anyway, we all woke up feeling particularly rotten on Friday. Really rotten. In fact, we almost pulled the plug on going at all........twice! I decided finally that we didn't need to pile another disappointment on top of nearly two months of "the blahs" and we were going.

Mrs. Guitar Ted was particularly stricken and the getting going was slow. I was planning on meeting my partner, Ben, downtown and I was supposed to get there before 4:00pm, but as we were traveling it was increasingly apparent to me that getting there even by 5:00pm was going to be a challenge. So, I texted Ben and told him I would have my wife drop me directly off downtown, and then we'd meet up.

Downtown Minneapolis is a bee's hive of activity at anytime during the day, and Friday afternoon was no exception. We were able to find the Marriott City Center on 7th easily enough though and I jumped out curbside, waved goodbye to my family, and set off to find the front door to the joint. As I did, I got the weird feeling that I was "on my own" in a strange place. Not that this should be an odd feeling given the time and place, but it was a particularly strong feeling this time.

Waiting to get into something I wanted out!
So I find the door, where I was supposed to go, and saw a bunch of folks I know really busy with conversations packed into this tiny room. I decided not to add to the "cattle in a livestock truck" atmosphere and waited out in a spacious lobby room. There I spied an antique bicycle and struck up a conversation with a lovely young lady who was very sweet to me and explained the bike was a part of a hoped for museum and what not. She slipped me a business card and then I ended up talking to the owner of the bike shop that represented this proposed museum for a bit. After this, I ran into some other folks I knew and met a few new folks as well. Ben spied me and I went in the line for the evening meal along with Ben and Andy of Pedal of Littleton, a past Trans Iowa vet.

Okay, I don't know if it was a failure of logistics, or maybe that a bunch of party crashers showed up unexpected, but the lines to get something to eat were sloooooow! I got to the "taco station", grabbed two tacos and ate them standing up, since there was nowhere obvious for me to sit. I ditched off my dirty plate with a food service person, grabbed a plastic cup of Fat Tire, and headed for the exit. But just before I left, Jim Cummins grabbed me and said there was a seat at a table I could use where he was and that Ben was there as well. Okay then!

We sat and listened to some poorly amplified gab from the podium while 60% of the crowd brazenly ignored all that was going on. It was a bit disconcerting, and I wasn't sure this gig fit the pre-event billing, but ya know.....whatever. It was what it was. I still don't quite get what all the fuss was about.

Then it was off to the "All-City Party" which was being held upstairs in an old theatre building. We had to wait to be screened at the door. They checked our ID's even, which, ya know, if ya can't tell I am old, maybe you shouldn't be working at a bar. I thought it was all pomp and circumcision. I mean, it was a free party, and so, why all the "LA club scene hoopla"? Again......whatever. The joint was made up of some scant tables, a cement floor which was already sticky and stinky from spilled beer, and loud, poorly mixed music which made it nigh unto impossible to chat with anyone further than kissing distance from your face. Ben and the rest of us stayed too long there, but we did eventually bail.

South Vincent Ave @ 50th- 3:30am, 2-21-15
Then we went to a bar that had slightly less loud music and maybe a better sound system as well. Anyway, it was tolerable and the five of us could actually hold a conversation. I was past having a beer after one or so and switched to water, since I knew I had something big to do soon. What that was didn't become clear until a few hours later when closing time at the bar came.

I realized then that a plan to get me back to my family at the motel had not been clearly communicated, or maybe even formulated. I knew by the time the bar lights popped on, and we were to be getting out of there, that these fellows were way beyond being capable of passing a drunk driving test, so asking any of them for assistance was futile. On the way out of the bar, Ben made a hard right turn to check in with some visiting Canadians and never was seen again. I kinda figured he would eventually emerge from the bar, but he didn't. I grabbed my bag after everyone said goodnight and I hopped on an elevator to the lobby. Still no sight of Ben, but what could he have done anyway. So I found a restroom, did my business, and made for the exit. Once I got there, I was fumbling for something or another, and someone said, "Hey! Aren't you Guitar Ted?".

I acknowledged in the affirmative, and a Canadian fellow asked about my Tamland jacket and if I had helped in the design of that bike. Again, I affirmed the fellow, and then he and his two companions also professed their love for the bike, which was flattering and cool. After a few niceties, they bid me farewell and I burst onto the cold, snowy, Minneapolis streets. I had a plan, and I was about to execute it.

I set off to walk to my motel, since I wasn't exactly about to try to test the Minneapolis Minnesota public transpo system, out of pure ignorance of how it worked, and I was on an adventure! It was going to be a long walk, but hey! How bad could it be? The temperature was in the upper teens, the wind was nearly indistinguishable, and I had no gloves or mittens! Gah! Oh well. Off I went. (For those familiar with the city.) I followed my route Southward on Nicolette Mall to it's truncation and zigged around Eastward and South again to Lake Street, then West over to Lyndale, and Southward again all the way down to 50th. I went West on 50th through Lynnhurst and Fulton to Edina, then South on France Avenue all the way down to Highway 62. By the time I was approaching this part of the trek, I was feeling it in the hips and my feet! Past Highway 62 and down to 76th. Here I made a critical error. I should have went straight, but in my mind as I read my dimly lit and tiny iPhone map, it looked like going West was a better option, so I did and went over to 100th, crossed over a major road, which I thought was I 494, (and it was), and checked my map again. Only I became very confused.

I did eventually get there! Salsa's new Powderkeg tandem shown along with other goodies!
It had gotten colder, the wind had come up, and my wonderful iPhone was sputtering in such extremes. It wasn't tracking me correctly, and was randomly shutting down. I was poking around on foot, obviously, and trying to make sense of things, but unfortunately by this time my feet and legs were having none of it. The Sun had risen, or looked to have. At least I could see things much more clearly, and I decided to throw in the towel and call my wife if I could get the phone to work one more time. I ducked into a convenience store to warm it, and me, up. It worked, and she finally located me and fetched me back to where we were staying. Four hours, 12.2 miles and a short car ride later, I was where I belonged. By the way, she was NOT amused! Oh well, I made it almost all the way without pestering anyone at 2:00am and besides being wrecked from the effort, I was fine. I made it to a warm room, a soft bed, and slept for ten hours

Yes- I totally missed everything on Saturday, but what the heck. I got to see Minneapolis in a way I wouldn't have otherwise. Analog style, if you will, and on a beautiful, calm, snow covered Winter's night. It was super peaceful, and the city I saw was really nice. Ironically enough, I saw at least six different bicycles chained up to poles along the way, as if to taunt me. But I was okay. I resisted temptation and getting frustrated by it. In fact, I think I laughed out loud by the third one I saw. Irony not lost on this wandering soul.

Of course, I did go to the show. Sunday was short and sweet. I saw and spoke with many and missed out seeing more than a few, I am sure, but that's the way it goes. So yeah......Frostbike 2015- A Frozen Walkathon, new Warbirds, and NASCAR is bereft of both Busch brothers in a matter of two days. What? The last thing wasn't about Frostbike? Well.......anyway. 

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Decade Of Nonsense: Part 3

The stable of bikes expanded in a big way in '06!
2006 represents the year when things blew up with regard to this blog and with my "other" related activities. I cannot really say why that happened, even looking back on things now, it doesn't make any sense to me. All I know is that I worked hard to "get my voice" and write better. Then......holy cow! 2006 was a whirlwind of activity.

I started out with getting an On One Inbred frame and fork which I built up and was going to use as my Dirty Kanza 200 rig. I then did several comparisons to that and my '03 Karate Monkey, which turned out to be a very popular post series for several years, according to the stat meister machine I have on this site.  Then I "Ted-terviewed" a few Trans Iowa and local endurance nuts. That was quite well received. So much so that I actually got a Ted-terview with Steve and Chris of Niner Bikes. Apparently, they were stoked to the point that they gave me some exclusive news on their then brand new RIP-9 frame which debuted at Sea Otter that year. I also was getting some inside scoop from Ryan Atkinson of Fisher mtb fame on some new developments at Fisher with 29"ers. This sparked a redoubled interest on the part of Tim Grahl to get me on board with Twenty Nine, which I was very reluctant to do for "free" or at all. I that time, I didn't need TNI. I was busy enough doing what it was I had going on, and I was still affiliated with "The Biking Hub". Actually, the further 2006 went on the odder that affiliation got until I found out later that the site was going to be scuttled.

I got "published" in a Haro catalog in '06
 Earlier on in the blog, I was contacted by Mike Varley, who was then in charge of all things MTB at Haro Bicycles. He asked me to write a couple paragraphs on 29"ers. One specifically about the new Haro Mary bikes which were coming out, and another on 29"ers in general. He didn't know if either would make the cut. Maybe they'd just use one.

Well, I came to find out they used both of them! I was floored. This was my first "paying gig" in a sense that Haro decided to give me a frame and fork in turn for the write up. At any rate, here I was published on paper in a catalog. This was probably my most momentous accomplishment related to the blog in those early days. So......Thanks again, Mike! 

Well, that wasn't all. For whatever reason, it would seem that despite there being a site called Twenty Nine, I was getting lots of news and product review chances as '06 cranked along. I got the first On One Carbon Superlight fork to test. I got a Raleigh XXIX as a warranty replacement for an old Diamomd Back V Link I had that broke. The write ups on this rig precipitated my getting the chance to demo and write up some stuff on Cannondale's first 29"er, the Caffeine.  Then a chance came up which has been probably one of the most rewarding things that has come out of this blog- the Badger Dorothy review.

The bike and subsequent model run planned was an utter disaster in the end, but the friendship I struck up with the then owner of Milltown Cycles, Ben Witt, was most rewarding and I still call him a friend to this very day. Like I always say- "It's all about the people you meet and the relationships you build." Nothing else matters. Not the bicycles, the travel, or anything else here. I am super grateful for having met Ben through these digital pages. 

Riding in the very first Dirty Kanza was another good deal in '06.
Another relationship was struck up when I met Salsa Cycles then GM, Jason Boucher. I was able to review a Dos Niner and actually got a sneak peek at the then new Mamasita carbon/aluminum hard tail 29"er when Jason and Kid Reimer came down on a snowy Fall day to ride at Camp Ingawanis on that new steed.

With the promise of a financial reward from Twenty Nine Inches and a free ticket to Interbike, I finally agreed to write for in the fall of '06 on a regular basis instead of only occasionally. It was there that I met many folks in the industry, not the least of which was Gary Fisher himself. During Interbike I was shocked to have people I didn't even know coming up to me and telling me they were reading the site. It was all a bit much, going from zero to 100mph in a little more than a year of blogging, but it was real. Again- I have no idea why, but there ya go. By October I was full on writing for, and review items were coming my way. I was going to be a very busy man for several years. In fact, I figured that if what I was told  while at the meeting in Vegas concerning TNI would happen, I might have to shut down the blog here, or curtail my postings severely. I didn't know if I could sustain this, Trans Iowa, and all at the same time while holding down a job at a bike shop and being a father and a husband.

By the end of '06, the gig with the "Biking Hub" was done, but I had been integrated into Tim Grahl's "Crooked Cog Network", which included, a site called "Blue Collar MTB", and another site dubbed "Commute By Bike". 2006 was a watershed year, but things maybe got even crazier in 2007......

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday News And Views

Last year traveling on a closed I-35 to Frostbike
Frostbike 15:

Well, it's time for the annual Frostbike gathering. Funny thing. It used to be just the two days- Saturday and Sunday. Then it crept over to Friday. Now things start Wednesday night and Thursday.  Well, my gig isn't really "on" until tonight. Then Saturday is obviously a huge day. Look for some "big" news to be splattered all over the web come Saturday morning. Yes.......there will be some interesting new stuff to talk about. 

Speaking of talking about stuff, I'll also be meeting up with my partner Ben to discuss planning and direction for the remainder of 2015. There may be some pretty exciting stuff coming along. Plus- we'll be doing something for a new Riding Gravel Radio Ranch podcast if things pan out.

I'm sure there will be something surprising, impromptu, or goofy happening as well. Maybe all three at once. Hey! It's Frostbike after all, and if the past is any indication..........

Great tubeless experience so far.
Nano 40 TCS:

So, I have a quick update on the Nano 40mm TCS tires, which are UST based in dimension. As I stated earlier, I went ahead and mounted these tires on my TCS Frequency i23 rims. The sealant I used is the "MG" formula I have been using for about seven years now. Otherwise everything here is a system- all TCS designed WTB product.

Okay, let's get this out of the way first- this is the easiest tubeless tire set up I have ever tried. The WTB TCS system I've used before is already easy. However; the Nano 40 TCS is just a wee bit better in terms of being able to be mounted totally by hand with no tools. It's not an "easy" fit, but totally doable without levers. The thing is, the tires fit so perfectly on the rim I could use a battered, dilapidated Blackburn floor pump to seat the beads. No air compressor, no fancy dance. Just a simple airing up.

Now that's impressive, but check this out- after 48 hours, the tires are still at the pressures I set them at. And that's with zero riding to seal up the casings. I have just spun the wheels a bit but otherwise, this has been the best at air retention as well. Oh......and the tires both measure out at exactly 40mm. Now hopefully that my health is almost there, I may get out on these very soon since the weather looks to make an upturn soon.

From the last 3GR in '13.
Announcing The Return Of The 3GR

Okay, after a year hiatus, I am ready to bring back this weekly ride. I have discussed it with the boss at the shop and he's in favor of supporting this in some way. How that looks is yet to be determined. However; you can expect this ride to be on Saturday mornings, just like in the past. The "jumping off point" is also yet to be determined. I really liked the Waterloo starting point, but suggestions will be sought out for any ideas on the starting point. I would also like the ride to include a stop post ride for coffee and conversations.

Okay- for anyone local that doesn't get this, it is a "gravel grinder group ride"- 3 g's and an "r" make "3GR". Usually about 40-ish miles in length, and about 15-18mph in speed. Friendly, no drop, and mildly difficult, I would say.

Now, if that isn't your cup of tea, I have another ride for you that will happen locally for the first time and will be great for any first timers. Yep! A "Geezer Ride" will happen in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area sometime later this Summer or early Fall. Maybe in August, but I haven't decided yet.

Okay- that's a wrap on this one. Look for any cool Frostbike nonsense to be reported on here throughout the weekend and for sure on Monday.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Foundry Overland: A Nice Cyclo Cross Bike

It sure ain't no "gravel road bike"!
NOTE: Large doses of "my opinion" will be handed out in gloppy dollops today. You've been forewarned.....

The Foundry brand released details on their new rig yesterday, and sure 'nuff- it's a metal bike! Hooray! I applaud the brand for straightening out it's marketing and product offering with this model. To my mind, "Foundry" and "metal" framed bicycles seem like a no-brainer, but apparently it took a few years for that to come around up in Bloomington, Minnesota. Glad it finally did, and I look for more of the same/similar with regard to future product offerings from the brand.


In their marketing of this new "Overland" model, they say the following....

"The Overland was developed to be the only bike you need when it comes to gravel and cyclocross."

The quote should have read as follows:

"The Overland was developed to be the only cyclo cross bike you need when it comes to gravel and cyclocross". 

Why? Because what we have here is a hard core, no compromises, mean, nasty cyclo cross bike. The geometry says so. High bottom bracket, steepish angles, and low trail all add up to what every cyclo cross racer wants in a bike. That's awesome. Love it for the cyclo cross guys, but don't tell me you designed this for gravel road riding. 

First of all, there really is nothing at all in the Overland, besides a bigger tire clearance, that calls out "gravel road bike" to my way of thinking here. I am not going to re-hash all the reasons why that is, but long time readers can all tic off the reasons for themselves, I am sure. Secondly, and maybe most importantly, Foundry took the "safe route" by gunning for classic CX geometry rather than something "untested', (although the Raleigh Tamland/Willard models seem to be faring well with their more daring take on geo), and......ya know.....cyclo cross bikes are good enough for gravel racing/riding. So they say..... Heck, if ya listen to Tom Ritchey talk, you don't even need a cyclo cross bike for cyclo cross, because a road bike is a "gravel bike" and ergo, a road bike is a cyclo cross bike, a mountain bike, etc...  Whatever.

Regardless- it is a good looking bike.....for a cyclo cross bike!
In the end, it won't matter, most likely, because this will appeal to those who want a "do-it-all" cyclo cross bike. It will do cross really well, and since most folks probably won't care about the geometry for gravel, it will suit them fine. I will say that calling a dyed in the wool cross bike "the only bike you need" for gravel and cross isn't saying this bike is "new" in terms of geometry though. It really isn't saying anything "new" because this thought is the majority opinion for many when it comes to cyclo cross geometry and the bikes made specifically for cyclo cross racing. the way....isn't anything like gravel road racing, nor like the geometry for which gravel road riding would be best served. That would be more like classic road bike geometry with a slacker head angle thrown in for good measure.

But hey! It's a good turn for Foundry and the bike looks great.......for a cyclo cross bike!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Trans Iowa V11: WTB Sponsorship

Lots of Nano 40 TCS tires right there!
Trans Iowa V11 Sponsored By WTB:

Trans Iowa V11 is coming up this April and as in other years, we have some sponsors of the event. However; this year I think this may prove to be the "biggest" sponsorship Trans Iowa has ever received. I have to say that I didn't think WTB could top last year's efforts when they shipped us five sets of Nano 40 folding bead tires that should have went to OE customers instead. A rare, rare thing these days for an event to have that kind of precedence. But......those WTB guys found a way. 

Those boxes you see in the image? Stuffed with 10 WTB Nano 40 TCS tubeless ready tires in each for a total of 40 tires!!

 Why? Because some folks at WTB think Trans Iowa is rad and want to reward those who finish. Each official finisher of Trans Iowa V11 will receive a set of TCS Nano 40's. Needless to say, you must be on the roster now and finish the event within all time constraints and within the limits of the rules.

Okay, so big deal, right? These are just tires., these are actually pretty darn special tires. The reason why is that they represent probably the only component in a true tubeless system for gravel road riders. Match this tire up with a suitable TCS WTB rim, and add sealant, and you have a bombproof, no worries tubeless system for gravel roads, back roads, bandit CX, or for whatever you want to do on a bicycle with these mounted to it. I already know.....

A review set of TCS Nano 40's for
WTB also sent me out a set to review. Yes, I have already used Nano 40's, and they make a fine choice for gravel roads, especially if the roads are loose gravel. They also fly on plain old dirt as well. However; my experiences were with tubes, and these tires won't need those durn things!

I also have a set of TCS Frequency i23 rims laced up and that's what I mounted these new TCS Nano 40's to. The i23 designation means that the inner width of the rim is 23mm. That's about 4mm wider inside than most "average" cyclo cross rims or road bike rims. This will allow me to run lower pressures for faster, more stable gravel road riding while still supporting the tire in an excellent way so it shouldn't roll off, burp, or pinch against the rim. Obviously, being that the Frequency i23 rims and the Nano 40's are both TCS tubeless compatible, they should be a match made in heaven. I can tell you that they mounted up with the greatest of ease. I used an old, tired, Blackburn floor pump and the beads set with a nice, convincing snap. I look forward to many miles of great rides with these tires, but.........we shall see! 

Anyway- that's what anyone that finishes T.I.v11 can expect from these tires mounted on TCS rims. They should be a great reward for overcoming 331+ miles of Iowa dirt and gravel roads. 

Thanks to WTB for supplying the Trans Iowa V11 event with this prizing and for the set of tires sent out for review. WTB did not pay, nor bribe me for this post and I will strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Another Stab At It

Gettin my art on
2013 Odin's Revenge- Hotter n blazes. Did a 100 miles of a 180 mile course and parked it for the day. Just wasn't up to snuff. 2014 Odin's Revenge- Rains hard the evening before. Copious amounts of muddy Minimum Maintenance Roads in the first 40 plus miles puts me too far behind to make cut off times for the checkpoint. I decide to "self-extract" and ride back from CP#1. 80 miles or so later, back at the start and done again.

That has been my Odin's history so far. I'd like to add the words "finished the course" to that history, so I am going back to give it another try. To get into the event, you enter by post card. I have drawn my own post card all three times I have attempted to enter. This is my card that is "in the mail" right now. My idea for this year's card was inspired by my previous two attempts.

Obviously the "road" is soupy. That's a reference to last year. The Sun in the upper right hand corner, casting it's "rays" down onto the road is a reference to the year before. What will this year be like?

Tough. Odin's is just a tough course. It won't matter if it is hot or cold, it will be tough. It won't matter if the Sun shines or it rains, Odin's Revenge will be a big challenge. I just have to get as ready as I can before I get out there. I will have had the Renegade Gent's Race and the Dirty Kanza 200 before this, so I should have a handle on my fitness by this time, I would think.

Following are some images from my first two Odin's Revenge attempts, in case you were thinking Nebraska is flat or something.......

Rider: Craig Groseth
Probably my favorite gravel road shot of all time. At least in my top five. Rider: Matt Wills
So, isn't what you might expect out there. They have some mighty tough, beautiful. raw terrain and the roads are fantastic. Anything from traditional Mid-West gravel to crazy, almost-not-there type roads. I can't wait to throw myself at these again and take another stab at Odin's Revenge.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Decade Of Nonsense: Part 2

Continuing on with the celebration of my tenth year of blogging, and in this post, I am going to try to portray what it was like in those days to be blogging with no expectations and little to no exposure.

Jeff Kerkove doing some product testing circa 2005
The first post I ever made on this blog was titled "Welcome Wagon" and was indicative of most of my posts during my first year of blogging. Here's the entire text of that post:

"Welcome to the Freakshow that is Guitar Ted Productions! It is here that I will be at liberty to espouse my verbiage in an unbridled, yet entertaining fashion. I have previously been a guest on Jeff Kerkove's site, and I would like to thank him for his incredible generosity. Look for further upgrades to this site as they become technically possible for me to execute!"

The date was May 11th, 2005, and in another example of how things would go in '05 here, I actually posted twice that day. That accounts for how I was able to crank out 300 plus posts in '05 despite not starting until well into the fifth month of that year. Most of my posts had to do with local stuff, because I knew the audience was mostly local, or would be. 

Back in '05, there was no shortage of blogging cyclists. In fact, it seemed as if you had to blog or you weren't a serious cyclist. The landscape was littered with professional, semi-professional, and regional hot shots of the racing scenes who were blogging. A small shop's mechanic's blog? Yeah right! Who would even notice that, ya know? Well, I think once again, that a tip of the hat has to go to Jeff Kerkove, who immediately linked my blog, and by doing so brought a little bit of a light to my efforts. His blog was a very well read one and was becoming increasingly popular. A bit of that rubbed off on me in the beginning. 

Then there was my subject matter, which began to turn to more popular topics, like endurance racing, 29"ers, and of course, anything to do with Trans Iowa. I did a couple of series posts on suspension, a multi-post report on Interbike, and various opinion pieces on cycling. I was digging up a lot of stuff on 29"ers, and that even brought my blog under the spotlight of cycling companies. They were "lurking" and I only knew about it from Jeff teaching me to use a blog stat program. I did a couple of serial posts like "Friday Rants & Raves" which eventually became "Friday News And Views". An end of the year post in '05 was dubbed "A Look Over The Shoulder", which became "Rear View" in recent years.

Go West! And he did..........
 My style was heavily influenced by Jeff in my first year of blogging, but a couple of things happened right away that were big changes in what would happen in '06 and beyond. 

First of all, I was contacted by the owner of a Canadian based blog/cycling site called "The Biking Hub" that was mostly dealing with trail and All Mountain stuff. Cory, the guy in charge there was wanting me to write about 29"ers. I decided to give this a try, as the man wanted to act as my editor. I would submit content, and he would suggest changes, edits, and finally help me craft the posts into a finer written product than I ever would have on my own. This arrangement was a big learning experience for me. Probably the number one influence this man had, (and I wish I could remember his full name, but I lost all my old archives for this), was his take on how to do a cycling product review. I'd never seen anything or read anything like it before in my life. You all reading this today probably don't realize that at least 75% of online reviews and product news was influenced by this man's design for cycling reviews online which I copied. See if you've ever heard of the following:

  • An "On Test" article inroducing a review.
  • An "Out Of The Box" post about technical features of a product.
  • A "First Impressions" post concerning the first uses of a product.
  • The concept of "Mid-Term" and "Final Reviews". 
  • The "First Look" posts which were about seeing something for the first time at a show, race, or from a press release. 
I never saw any of this previous to my experience in '05 but these days you cannot count the number of sites that either use these terms and concepts directly, or have borrowed heavily from this structure for reviews and product news. I feel I was a big part of why that happened. But it wasn't from being a part of this long defunct Canadian based site. 

 No, that all was because I was starting to get offers to write for a competing online site called "Twenty Nine". It was run by a guy by the name of Tim Grahl who started and, but he was looking for a writer/contributor that knew more about 29"ers. I actually submitted some pieces for the site, but in those days I had zero intentions of writing for anything but that Canadian site and my own blog, which was taxing my extra time as it was. Still, Mr. Grahl was very persistent. By 2006 I was being drug into more conversations about contributing to TNI. Meanwhile, the Canadian site was fizzling out. All along the blog was getting more attention from industry folk, but my numbers didn't suggest that my audience was all that big. It was a strange deal. I had just started blogging and here were all these things starting to happen. 

Next time I'll talk about where this blog went in '06-'07 and how things got kind of crazy.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Dirty Kanza 200 Chronicles V2: Bumping The Needle

Well, not a whole lot has happened since last week. I took the week off for healing, as stated yesterday, and only got in one ride. That said, I was doing more off the bike in terms of planning and altering my diet now to try to cut some weight. More water, less snacking, lowering portions again. Hopefully by the time I am healthy enough to hit things harder it will all come together. Right now my focus is still on gaining back fitness and not digging myself back into a hole again where I need to recover again.

I already have identified the tire I am going to use at the Dirty Kanza 200 this year, and I know from my past observations and experiences that a bigger volume tire that is tough is going to be a better choice than some tires that are lightweight and have supple casings. Flint will shred a tire like that, and my past DK 200 attempts were all done on 2.0+ sized 29"er tires, and I had but one flat in three attempts. Back in the day, there weren't many good 40-ish millimeter sized tires to choose from unless you went with the favorite of many in those days- the Schwalbe Marathon series tires.

But I am sure you don't really care about the past, and you want to know what I am using, so here you go. I will be riding a set of WTB Nano 40 TCS tires on WTB Frequency i23 rims tubeless. Well, that's the plan. I have a few months to dial it all in and make sure it works for me. So far, that is the only equipment choice I have dialed in with any surety. Everything else is still on the table. The bike choice included. The Vaya shown is certainly in the running for the steed I might be seen on in Kansas. We'll see, but I am holding out for a couple of other possibilities here.

Well, I hope to have more actual training reporting to share, but for now I have only just bumped the needle off of zero. There's a long, long way to go.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Back On It

Thursday evening I found out something new, Friday was going to be "Winter Bike To Work Day". Now I'd never heard about it before, and I don't know how big of a deal it is, but it did provide a bit of motivation. Let me explain.....

Last weekend I defiantly stated I would ride this week no matter what. However; I finally came to my senses and decided that maybe I needed to fully recover. You know.....get healed up? I think I was being over-zealous in my attempts to begin riding the past weeks and then I would set myself backward into sickness again because I hadn't fully recovered. I decided to take several days off, and wait until I was really feeling better.

It was working, and every day this past week I felt better and better. Incremental gains everyday were noticed. Thursday morning was a very slight setback, with a bit of a head ache, but I figured that even though I had purposed to stay away from the bike until Saturday or Sunday, pushing things up for Winter Bike To Work Day might be okay, as long as I felt well. Not just "okay", but healthy and well. Of course, Friday dawned and I felt okay, so the ride was on.

I did decided to take my time and not overdo it going uphill, (mostly), to work. I was a bit taxed when I got there, but the ride home was awesome and I felt really great. Now let's hope I can start doing regular rides again soon, eh? I think I'll ay low over the weekend and kick things back into gear Monday, but we'll see how it all pans out.

By the way......Happy Valentines Day everyone.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday News And Views

Hey there folks! it has been a while since I've done a "News And Views" post, but I had other things to talk about, so.....ya know, I just went with that. Now I have some interesting tidbits to share this Friday with a theme! That would be Frostbike. This annual dealer only open house has turned into a trade show over the years, and has become my favoritist industry event of all. Really! I wouldn't miss it for the world.

A "narrow-wide" chain ring made out of steel (Image courtesy of Surly's facebook page)
Surly Bikes: 

The "1X", (Say "One-By"), drive train phase is coming on strong with riders of all disciplines and there has been a cottage industry that has developed from this phenomenon built solely on the 1X chain ring concept pioneered by SRAM dubbed "narrow-wide" in which teeth on the cog alternate between narrow in profile to wide to accommodate the narrow and wide chain links in a bicycle chain. The concept has been proven to retain the chain on the chain ring so well, that in some cases the more extreme down hill riders have even eschewed the use of a chain retention device on their crankset/bottom bracket area, which was unheard of previous to "narrow-wide". 

Surly Bikes, who have been purveyors of finely crafted stainless steel rings for several years now, have added their take on the "narrow-wide" rings and I am sure this will be something talked up more at Frostbike. But that won't be all those crazy boys and girls will have on tap. Oh no! You can bet on that.

Is it Ginormous, or just a mirage? A cropped image from Surly's Facebook page)

The "innergoogles" went berserk yesterday when Surly posted a goofy image of the staff. In the background there is an Ice Cream Truck fat bike, (or at least what appears to be that), with what appears at first glance to be a HUGE tire and double wide rim. it?

Upon further inspection it would appear that the image is a trick of the eye and not the hoped for, even larger than life, big fat bike tire and rim.

Yes.....people still seem to want even larger fat bike tires and rims! That said, I have heard rumors of a 120mm wide rim floating around out there in the wilds. I also happen to know of one individual that told me two years ago now that he was having a set of 120mm rims custom made. Is it going to be Surly that pushes rim size even wider? I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was. If that happens, will there be a bigger, wider tire as well? That I doubt very much, but then again, I was floored when they made the Bud and Lou, so who knows?

Seen on the Foundry Cycles Facebook page: A metal drop out?!!!
Wut-The-Wut!! (Part Two)

Foundry Cycles- The brand with the ironic name. They have a name that conjures up an image of molten metal, forged in the fires of Mount Doom by the dwarves......ummm....wait a minute! 

No, I am sorry. They do plastic bikes! A company by the name of "Foundry" that does carbon fiber only?


Then the other day on my Facecrack feed I get this image that is said to be coming to me via Foundry Cycles of what for all the world looks to be a metal drop out. 


Could it be? Is Foundry Cycles going to introduce a metal framed bicycle at Frostbike? Indications seem to point to that, judging solely by this image. We'll see when we get to the show. If that happens then I think it will mark a big shift in focus for this brand. Again......we will see. I'll tell ya one thing- it will make a lot more sense from the brand strategy/marketing perspective than an all carbon fiber line up.  Then there is the following dichotomy involving both Foundry and Surly that I found interesting....

From a Surly blog post in December '13

From Foundry Cycles Facebook page

So.............which is it? I'm thinking that the big meetings in the Q "Borgroom" with these two brands must be pretty entertaining. Either way, coming or going they've got you, it would seem, eh? And speaking of going, it is my turn to do just that, so until next time.......

Have a great weekend and get out there and ride if ya can!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Decade Of Nonsense: Part 1

The header since early 2007- Design by Kerkove Media
Last year I made mention in my "Rear View" series that I was going to be celebrating ten years of blogging in May of 2005. Well, that's not quite technically correct, as I was doing guest blogging on Jeff Kerkove's blog back in late 2004. The celebration then is starting now and will be ongoing- off and on as I come up with something to say about all of this- through the Summer months. I hope to take some of you back to the days when getting 50 people to look at this deal was considered by myself to be "really amazing" and perhaps give you some insight as to the highs and lows the blog has gone through throughout these years here. Most of all, I want to thank all of you out there that stop in to read. Without you, this is all just blathering into the wind. Meaningless. Nonsense.

Well, maybe there still is some nonsense here! 

Above is the first, generated header the site used. 

Things started out pretty simply here. I didn't have any real sense of how this medium worked at all. Not that I am a whole lot better now, but at least I know how to post a picture! Jeff Kerkove was instrumental in getting me on the internet. Without his daily cajoling back around 2004, this never would have happened. So, a first, and huge, thank you goes out to Jeff for never letting up on me and finding a way to edge me into the water of blogging by allowing me to sully his page for a bit. That bit of guest blogging was a lot of fun, and it opened my eyes up to something I became, (or maybe already was and didn't know it), very passionate about, namely writing. In fact, I felt compelled to tell stories that, quite honestly, didn't fit the mold of Jeff's then freewheeling banter on endurance training, so along about April of 2005, I started looking into doing my own thing, and how that might work out.

The first design for the blog header, circa 2006, by Jeff Kerkove
Well, obviously April of 2005 was a busy month, as Jeff and I put on our first ever event, Trans Iowa. So, this whole blogging thing didn't get going until I decided to pull the trigger one evening in May of 2005 and there it was! When I set up my template, I chose a Blogger generated one and it asked for a "description of your blog", so I came up with the now infamous "A bicycle and guitar oriented elixir that some find intoxicating. Others...well, let's just say they are sick of it!". Which was ironic, because at the time no one had ever heard of me, so why would they be sick of it? Well, I was being somewhat of a smarty pants in that I figured no one would ever read this stuff anyway, so why not just have fun with it? At any rate, after ten years, maybe some of you are sick of it! 

Apparently Jeff, when he found out about my new blog, wasn't too enamored of my "plain clothes look" on the blog, so he asked for permission to get into my template one day in the latter part of 2005 and came up with the "cardboard & fly" header. I was pretty dang stoked to have a custom made header, and I figured that would be that. However, sometime between the Summer of '06 and early '07, Jeff got into the back room and swapped out the header to what you see everyday here now. Of course, in '07 Jeff left for Ergon, and I never tinkered with that code again.

Okay, that's a look at, well.........the look of this blog over the years and how that happened. Thanks to the internet Wayback Machine for the images of this site as it evolved. Until next time.......

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Some Good News

Trans Iowa got the first Nano 40's last year.
Last year I was contacted by WTB about possibly sponsoring Trans Iowa. This was shortly after WTB had surprised the cycling community by introducing the Nano 40, a 40mm wide version of the iconic Nanoraptor, at the 2014 Frostbike show in Bloomington, Minnesota. The representative of WTB told me at that time there was one shipment, a small one, of Nano 40's coming into the U.S. for "evaluation by vendors and manufacturers" that "maybe" they could cull five sets of Nano 40's out of for Trans Iowa.

Well, needless to say, I wasn't holding out much hope that Trans Iowa, a measly little gravel road event, was going to trump the traditions of the cycling industry. However; a white box showed up one day and sure enough, there were those fresh sets of Nano 40's looking me straight in the eye. This was something unprecedented, that an event at the level of Trans Iowa would get this sort of special treatment. I tried to convey that over the coming weeks before T.I.v10, but I am not sure I really ever communicated the level of uniqueness that this gesture by WTB had. It really was something, and I was stunned by that, and still am, really.

Well, a few days ago, I was once again humbled to find out that Trans Iowa V11 will once again be graced by WTB and the new plan for sponsorship is something I am really excited about. See, WTB is planning on giving away a set of the new Nano 40 TCS (tubeless ready) tires to every official finisher of T.I.V11! That's just crazy talk right there, but they assured me they are on board with this deal, because they really think pretty highly of Trans Iowa.

So, if you think that is some good news, and that WTB is pretty rad for doing this, why don't you give them a shout and tell 'em so, would you? It would mean a lot to me and it would make an impact on WTB, letting them know that we're out here and thanking them for this outstanding gesture.

And finally..... I wanted to thank all of you that shared advice and gave me positive vibes concerning my lengthy illness. I wanted to let you all know that I felt that I was my own worst enemy, and was trying to ride too soon without letting things run their course. I vowed last weekend to stay off my bike, gets lots of rest, and drink plenty of water all of this week. It hasn't been easy, but I have stuck to the plan and I am getting progressively better as the days go by. So, there's a bit more good news as well.