Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Ahead At 2018

Heading toward my 14th complete year of blogging in 2018.
Well, another stellar year of posting ends today for this blog. I am amazed that anyone still cares enough to actually read this blog at all, but you do. To all of you, a hearty "thank you!" and may you all have a Happy and Joyous New Year!

As for me, I have plans! (Insert evil laugh) Many of you will be surprised by at least one of the plans I have in store. Some of you will be nodding in agreement and understanding. Some of you won't give a rip. Some will deride me and say derogatory things. Nothing new about any of that!

Things concerning the blog will stay stable as long as I am around to punch keyboards out here. So, don't expect any big changes there. The blog should live on. That's my intention for now, at any rate.

Personally I am taking a different approach to my events. In the past I had a mix of competitive and "fun" riding. This coming year I am going to cut back on the competitive bits. I will be doing the Renegade Gent's race, but for all intents and purposes that is a fun ride. So, I am not counting that event as competition. There may be an excursion in Minnesota I will be on. That isn't set in stone just yet. Trans Iowa will take up the rest of my Spring's efforts along with just riding around here for fun.

June will be left completely wide open. There was some talk about riding three days in Odin's territory, but that is not solid as of now. It could happen though. Then the GTDRI will happen again probably the last weekend in July. Somewhere in the Spring I may still do a Geezer Ride. That will happen as part of a local, "get folks out on gravel" thing.

Summer won't have any other scheduled riding other than the Gravel Worlds, which is one I won't miss. Then that's it. Nothing else competitive at all is on my radar. Everything else I am leaving wide open to interpretation. I may want to go ride in Jackson County, Iowa, as an example, or along the Mississippi River somewhere, or out in the Loess Hills. I probably will go to the Northfield area, Des Moines area, and maybe some other places where I have friends to ride next year.

So yeah, the Renegade Gent's Race, GTDRI, and Gravel Worlds. That's all I am planning on for sure. The rest will be filled in with riding for fun, with friends, hopefully, and in some different places. I hope to get my 100 mile rides in on my single speed, gravel bikes, and maybe even a fat bike century too.

I look forward to this coming year. Less stress, less "big deals", and more fun with friends. That's my outlook right now.

Goodbye 2017......

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Minus Ten Review- 52

I got sponsored by Twin Six ten years ago.
Ten years ago on the blog here I was wrapping things up for the third time for "Guitar Ted Productions". That week I received a package from Twin Six which contained all sorts of clothing and accessories. Those guys at Twin Six are all right by me. Always have been. They also make some fine gear. (I'm typing this out while wearing a wool hoodie I purchased from them.) I haven't been disappointed too many times by their stuff. There has been the occasional flop, but whenever there was something amiss, they always have been attentive and have gone way above their duty in taking care of me.

So, while I am no longer "sponsored" by T-6 I still buy stuff from them, at full pop, mind you, because it is good stuff and looks great. So, all that to say that I've been a T-6 fan since way back.

Otherwise it was a cold, icy week ten years ago and not much cycling was done. I hinted at maybe how things might change with the blog due to my involvement in the now defunct Twenty Nine Inches site. I thought and was led to believe that I would be seeing some significant income from that site, and, of course, it never materialized and well...... So much for all of that!

It's kind of funny to reflect on this now as the TNI gig did have many residual blessings and things happened to me and for me during that stint that I am forever thankful for. Things worth far more than money. However; it is hard to not pick up the bitter sword and take a stab at what caused several years of frustrations and stress. That's the danger in looking at the past! You may find out you haven't let go as much as you need to.

But I am learning to let it go. Onward to the next year's worth of "Minus Ten" reviews..... I'll begin looking back at 2008 next weekend.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Friday News And Views

It Wasn't Always On Friday:

This post, "Friday News And Views", has become one of the most popular posts on my site. Week after week the numbers for Friday are way bigger than any other day on average. It's interesting to me that these posts tend to get a lot of attention.

Since this is the last "FN&V" post for the year, I thought it might be fun to note that this regular weekly post didn't always land on a Friday. I used to publish bits as soon as I got them, so the "News And Views" posts have hit on just about every day of the week at some time or another. Since placing the newsy bits and my pithy commentary on those bits on Fridays, I have only done a few, non-Friday newsy bits. Usually it has to be a pretty big deal for me not to hold off till Friday anymore.

I don't plan on changing anything with regard to this blog in the near term, so if you are one of those folks that only comes here on Fridays, don't worry about this going away anytime soon. I'll be continuing on right into 2018.

I met Craig at Odin's Revenge in 2013. That's him up ahead grinding out his single gear.
Kind Words:

Trans Iowa has had the unique situation of having had not to call out for volunteers. I may have asked once or twice, so sue me if I have forgotten, but typically, no- I never have to ask for help and I generally end up turning people away.

I know that is very unusual for any event. I get it. I am super-blessed and I don't take it lightly. So, when I get a shout out from someone even before they have volunteered, well, that's some unprecedented territory right there! But that's just what happened when Craig Groseth figured out he could get the time off from work and family to come out and be a volunteer for Trans Iowa. He even was so stoked he wrote about it here.

I am blown away by Craig's kind words on his blog. I know he isn't the only one that feels like being a Trans Iowa volunteer is special, because others have said as much, but the way Craig has put it is very eloquent. So, a public "thank you" goes out to Craig here and I certainly hope his experience in Iowa doing Trans Iowa volunteering lives up to his lofty expectations! I have some work to do to make sure I have my end as good as it can get. That's for sure!

A mysterious package arrived the other day with this bag inside of it.
Lezyne XL Caddy Rear Seat Pack:

So the day after Christmas I got a package with this bag inside of it from Lezyne. Apparently the seat pack deal is all the rage these days. These kind of things happen like they do because of popularity and the ease of getting bags made. "Bikepacking" is all the rage now so companies that are not known for bags are jumping in "just so they have a foothold in the market". Kind of like when every rock band made a disco record in the 70's because.........well, disco! So, this isn't anything new.

Anyway, the Lezyne XL Seat Caddy is something relatively new in form, but not in name. Lezyne had a similarly named product that was nothing like this in the past. It seems pretty well built with thick fabrics, P.U. coated underneath for weather protection, and it also has some structural side panels to give it some form. The back end is a roll top type closure with a nice rubbery strip of material that has lots of horizontally placed slits for the attachment of a rear light at about any angle you want.

I'll give it a whirl on my bikes and I should have a word or two to say more about this seat pack later on in Winter.

Happy New Year! If you are bugging out for the weekend to go someplace to see in the New Year, I just wanted to say "Happy New Year" to you and thank you for your continued stopping by to check out the "Guitar Ted Productions" blog during 2017. I really appreciate all of you and hope that you all will continue to check in next year.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Rear View '17: Part 4

The look back on the year for 2017- dubbed "Rear View", is a traditional year ending series on the blog each year here. This is the final installment- Part 4. I'll have a forward looking post to end the year on. Stay tuned.....

September started off with me contracting a really bad cold/flu thing and my riding went in the tank right along with the fitness I built up over the Summer. I was hopeful it was only a 10-12 day thing, but it stretched out to two weeks. Then I was gone on a vacation for a week, which did not include cycling at all. Then I returned and so did the cold.

I called it the "Bummer Stretch". It basically killed any thoughts of doing the Spotted Horse gravel event, so I sent a note to the race director, Sarah Cooper, and asked that I be taken off the roster. That was a big downer for me.

Trans Iowa registration went off without a hitch in October, but I still hadn't worked up a solid idea on where those people were going to be riding. Meanwhile, my route finding partner of the last several years, Jeremy Fry, decided to enter the event again. That meant I was either doing the route alone, or that I needed to find a new route finding partner.

Another downer stemming from the illness was that I was planning a century ride on my single speed but with my health, it was getting postponed. Every time an open date came up I was either too weak to go or I had other things going on. Then the weather turned and that plan got shelved until 2018. I did get out for a half century on my single speed though. I did that ride with Martin who was also on a single speed.

The "Bummer Stretch" of events took another turn when in early October I learned of Christopher Van Ooyen's passing. Better known in Lincoln cycling circles as "CVO", his death was another blow to that community that had far too much bad news already in 2017. I only knew CVO a little, but he was definitely an influence on some of my experiences on gravel in the Lincoln area.

Trans Iowa recon eventually did happen
December 1st brought more bummer news when I dropped my TG-3 camera while commuting and it smashed into the pavement at about 20mph. Dead camera resulted and I had to start thinking about purchasing a new one. Well, that's when the bummer stretch started to ease up when a good friend offered a brand new TG-5 at a great price. So, camera issue solved!

Then Trans Iowa recon actually happened. I got inspiration for the route in November, my friend Tony agreed to do recon driving with me, and an open date with perfect weather all came together. The recon was not without its reroute issues, but they are minor and I think it should all go off without a hitch now.

Of course, the usual recapping of things started happening in late November. That stretch of great weather during that month saw a ton of review test riding going on which was great. I almost squeezed in everything for 2017, but I have a few things which will carry over to early 2018 when, hopefully, the weather breaks and I can get out on gravel roads again.

So, there is a quick recapping of the year here on "Guitar Ted Productions". I want to thank all of you for reading here. It means a lot to me to hear and read the comments about how this site is a favorite, or that it is a regular stop in many morning routines. I am humbled to have gained your trust and I hope that next year I can continue to do you all right.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Trans Iowa v14: Update On Recon

From December 20th's recon drive for T.I.v14
This is an update to the recon post from last week. I wanted to cover the reroutes and what they have done to mileage over all. Plus I have a tentative breakdown on the three sections, which if you were paying attention were released on the Trans Iowa site last week. 

Anyway, one of the reroutes we were forced into since a bridge had been removed. This reroute was done in the field so it is verified and it should not be an issue for the event.

The other reroute was not necessary. I could have left in the originally reconned section, but here are the reasons why I did not leave that section in. I know many of you are automatically going to think the only reason is that the section I didn't like wasn't hard enough. Well, who knows? The thing is even a really hilly section isn't too bad if the wind is raging at your back. Then again, everything could be hard if we have another T.I.v11 situation, right? So, I cannot say I don't like a section due to it being too flat, or whatever. If that were the main priority, I would have a lot more to reroute than I did. 

No, I prioritize what makes a "good section" by its usefulness in regard to resupply, technical features, visual appeal, and cultural impact. Hills could be a part of that, of course, but the other stuff weighs just as heavily. So, for instance, if a flat section with easy roads is going through a highly significant cultural or visually stimulating feature, it gets included. A good example would be the High Trestle Bridge which was on the route last time. It wasn't hilly, technical, or hard in any way. However; the visual and historical/cultural impact was huge, so it was put into the course.

The section I replaced wasn't good in any of my categories. It was just plain "blah", which isn't what I wanted to have. So, I did a little digging and placed the route on roads that should be more interesting. Of course, I still have to go out and look at them. Things may get changed even more after that recon, or maybe not. I don't know yet, but the possibility that my reroute also sucks is there.

Okay, enough about that. The pertinent information most of you want to know now has to do with mileages. I did end up having to add about 7 miles to my previously posted total. Right now I am at 345.2 miles. That's about the longest Trans Iowa ever proposed, if I am not mistaken. I may have to trim off a few miles somewhere else to get it back under 340 again. So, there is that possibility hanging out there as well.

But, if everything were to be a go the way it sits now, here are the mileages to checkpoints: From the start to CP#1 will be 44.2 miles. There will be a time limit to get there and I am thinking like last year it will be  8:30am. Then the distance from CP#1 to CP#2 as it sits now is 163.7 miles. That's about 30 miles into the event further than I traditionally have it, and maybe that's about what it was last year. So, without modification to that section we're thinking along the lines of cutting off the time to reach that checkpoint at 11:00pm. The distance from CP#2 until the finish line is set at 137.3 miles. Of course, you'll have till 2:00pm on Sunday to get there if you are in Trans Iowa.

I'm thinking sectors 1 and 3 are pretty solid. If I carve a bit out of the route to get under 340 miles total it would be from the middle section. Stay tuned on that front..... It may not happen and this may be what the final numbers are. At any rate, this is as close to gospel as it gets at this point.

Stay tuned to the Trans Iowa site for further updates.....

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Rear View '17: Part 3

The look back on the year for 2017- dubbed "Rear View", is a traditional year ending series on the blog each year here. This is Part 3.

Looking on into June of this year things seemed to dry up. No more Wednesdays full of rain! This was good, but since it got more and more dry over the Summer, into Fall, and now Winter, it is looking not so great for next year unless we see a big turn around in the weather patterns here.

But back to June!

I really didn't have a whole lot going on as far as gravel events at this time. Odin's used to fill the spot in mid to late June but with that event ending its run I no longer have any big plans during June, so I went "just riding" a lot!

Some of that was to search out the course for my "Tour of Dirt Roads" style homage to the Pirate Cycling League who do a ride every year down around Lincoln, Nebraska where the search out all the good dirt roads. With the successful ending of the Geezer Ride at the Broad Street Brewing Company in Reinbeck, I decided we'd start and stop the GTDRI there as well. Road "O" figured heavily into my route plans. A ride long ago prompted me to put that stretch of dirt roads into the route, as well as some choice gems in Tama County, plus some others I knew about but had bypassed all these years for whatever reasons.

July saw many good rides and with the GTDRI the first weekend in August I didn't have anything going on all month to worry about. I got my old Badger custom drop bar bike rebuilt up for the third, and hopefully last, time and the addition of some skin wall Soma Cazaderos were the finishing touch there.

My Badger got up and running again this past Summer
On the gizmo front, I received a new Shimano action sport camera from being selected in a Tour de France contest I didn't know I was entered in. It was part of a module I completed on Shimano's "STEC" site which is for mechanics to learn more about Shimano technology.

I hate to admit it, but I am kind of a dud when it comes to technological gizmos. I have a Lezyne Super GPS review to finish that is coming up on a year now! This camera thing has failed to capture my imagination yet as well. I finally got a memory card for it and the battery charged up enough to take a short video of my son and I riding, but I have failed to upload it yet! Ha! Maybe someday......

I wrote a piece about the hullaballo being raised about events and how they are too dangerous, and how we need to "do something about it". I still think it rings true after reading it again for the research I did for this post.

Then the GTDRI happened and it went off without a hitch. I had a great ride, and the route was spectacular. In fact, it was so good I thnk the 2018 GTDRI will be the same exact route, barring any road closings that may happen between now and then.

That left Gravel Worlds. I had actually finished the beast in 2016, but it wasn't to be this time. The heat and humidity kicked in later into the event, but my issues weren't related to that. Mine were gastrointestinal related, and basically I did as much of the route as humanly possible for me under such circumstances. I was bummed but it is what it is.

September 5th came and the announcement of another Trans Iowa. The 14th running of the event will happen next April and although I had pretty quickly sketched out a route to checkpoint #1, I was finding motivation to do anything beyond that rather difficult. The registration process wouldn't happen for another month, so I moved on to other things in the month of September. Like getting sick....

That pretty much knocked me off my training for the Spotted Horse, which I wanted to do, and the only rides I was getting in were a few shorter single track rides. It was a rough ending to the month healthwise and I ended up calling off going to the Spotted Horse altogether by the first part of October. But that's coming in the last "Rear View" post for 2017 next time.....

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and joyous holidays spent with family, friends, or doing whatever it is that brings you happiness this time of the season.  May you have safe travels and the best of times.

I'll be back tomorrow with a regularly scheduled dose of Guitar Ted musings for y'all.

All The Best From Guitar Ted Productions!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Views '17

I have been on a walking kick for fitness for well over a year now. I walk around the neighborhoods a lot and see lots of things, obviously. The Christmas lights are something I look forward to enjoying now on my walks and I figured maybe all of you might like seeing some of the humble displays we have here.

Unfortunately it didn't snow until Christmas Eve morning so I don't have any shots to share with the fresh snow. But be that as it may, here are a few humble shots, all taken with the new Tough TG-5, by the way.

And the grand finale'!

Tires I Like

Some tires, like these Vittoria Terreno Mix tires, are just plain weird.
Saturday I posted an article on Riding Gravel which was about the top gravel tires I like that are available currently. You can check that out here.

To be completely honest, most tires are pretty decent. It would be a lot easier to talk about tires that are weird, aren't very good, or just downright bad. There are fewer of those than there are tires that are so-so, and definitely fewer of those than good, decent tires.

But I am talking about aftermarket performance tires in that regard, mind you. Not the ubiquitous "replacement tire", or the cheapo tires used on "mart bikes", or tires meant for entry level bike shop bikes. Those are mostly terrible tires. No, I'm talking about tires that purport to be performance enhancing, but for whatever reason, weren't. Tires costing more than $35.00-$40.00 dollars, typically.

Those tires, in my opinion, are tires that fell short of promises and performance was lacking. But enough about those tires. I don't like them, and that isn't what this post is about. This is about tires I like. Some were listed in that post linked above. Others are not there because they are not gravel tires.

Surly Lou's are nice. I like them a lot.
There are a lot of mountain bike tires I like, or used to like since maybe you cannot get them anymore. Tires from Michelin, the "Wildgripper" series of tires, those were great tires. The GEAX tires were all mostly pretty decent, and Bontrager made some killer tires, but many of these are no longer available.

I guess I still like the ol' Nanoraptor, or as WTB calls it now, the "Nano". It does a lot of things well. The Bontrager brand still is rolling out some great stuff. Maxxis, Specialized, and others do some fine treads.

Fat bike tires, now there is some weird stuff going on there! I'll tell ya that for flotation and traction that I look for, the Surly Bud and Lou are hard to beat. Yeah, yeah.......they aren't tubeless. Okay, that isn't a huge deal to me. While having a Bud or Lou tubeless might be better, I just don't have the time to maintain that set up by keeping the sealant up to date. My fat bikes see such limited use that having them set up tubeless would be a liability more than a benefit. My fat bikes can sit around for months at a time unused, so when I do want to use one, I don't want to have to dink around refreshing the sealant.

On the other hand, if a gravel tire model comes out and it is not rated for tubeless, it is not going to be a tire I like. I insist on running tubeless on gravel anymore. It makes a big difference in ride quality, not to mention the elimination of pinch flats.  So, there are some gravel tire models I don't like for that reason. Tires like Challenge's Gravel Grinder, which would be a stellar tread pattern if it could be used tubeless.

So, there are a lot of tires I like, and I've been fortunate to have tried many so I know.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Minus Ten Review 51

Back when we used to actually get snow.
Ten years ago on the blog I was talking about the year in my now annual "Rear View" posts. But besides all that, I also was talking about commuting to work in ice and snow on my old Raleigh 29"er with what was then the widest, burliest tire we could get then.

Two things struck me as I went back to recap this week on the blog. The first was that I sure wished we had easy access to fat bikes back then. I sure could have used a Pugs or Mukluk with 3.8"s for Winter commutes back then.

But that said, I did get a long way with tires like the WTB Stout which had great traction on snow. I just lacked float, obviously. The Schwalbe Racing Ralphs from this period also were great in that regard. A pair of 2.4 Ardents on Blunt 35's was also one of the better snow tire set ups I used on a 29"er. I could imagine 29+ being really good at this as well.

The other thing I noted about things ten years ago was that Winter was actually a thing. We had snow, ice, and cold all at the same time! Amazing, right? I mean, the past several inters have really been kind of messed up as far as snow goes for the season. I kind of gauge this off how the shop I work at rents skis. Cross country skiing needs a good base of snow, so if the shop doesn't rent many days then it is indicative of a poor Winter, and we haven't rented a lot of skis the past several years.

Hmmm........ Thinking about these two things I wonder whether I shouldn't sell my fat bikes and just get a decent 29 plus rig and call it good!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday News And Views

Hey, we should lace these old XC racing rims to road hubs and call it a gravel wheel!
Enve Wheels Debuts Gravel Wheel Set:

When I started messing around with disc wheels for gravel bikes I found that old 29"er wheels which were laced with narrow-ish mountain bike rims worked really well. Many of these early 29"er rims were maybe 25mm or if they were wide, 28mm on the outside. Of course, that's positively skinny now for even XC mtb bikes.

Gravel tires have ballooned to the 45mm range now so a wider rim is totally necessary for tubeless use, and even for tubes, to be honest. The lower pressures you can use and the way the tires set on those wider rims make them more stable on rougher roads and dirt. So, I even played with 25mm inner rim widths and found that worked quite nicely. Then you hear about companies making "gravel" oriented wheel sets and you see something like the following from Enve's site:

"The M525 is a lightweight, full carbon tubeless compatible clincher that has been developed specifically for the demands of world cup cross country racing. Consequently, many of the same attributes that make for a great XC race wheel also deliver a ride quality that inspires confidence for off-road drop bar endeavors."

See? Even these wheel companies are catching on. Well, at least their marketing departments are seeing how this could work. That said, a claimed 1320 grams for the set is very attractive. Only cost ya $234.00 a month! (HA!) We used to, (and many of you still might be), riding wheel sets that cost $234.00 for the set! 

Old mtb wheels are the "new gravel wheels". 

The new camera would have been fast enough to get this shot.....O well!
  The New Camera Has Arrived!

 As I walked in the door Wednesday evening I was told by my son that about 15 minutes after I walked out of the door for Trans Iowa v14 recon my new camera showed up.

Dang it!

They say that you don't know what you got till it's gone, and boy howdy! Did I ever figure that out Wednesday! That Nikon point and shoot I used probably does okay for the family reunion and the odd image of the National Park one might be visiting, but for quick, on the fly shooting, it sucked! 

I missed quite a few shots just because the start up speed was so slow. Then the auto focus was bad as well. That caused a lot of unusable shots and the ones I kept were blurred, but I guess I have to take what I have. Had I been shooting with the TG-5, it would have all been cake. I would have nailed every shot. 

But the main thing is- I have the TG-5! I am pretty stoked. And it came to me in black, so it looks great as well. Personally I liked the red, but hey! For what I paid I cannot be choosy. So, black it is. It looks classy and more like a "serious camera guy's" camera, I suppose.  I plan on having a bit of a review up after I've used it some here.

 Merry Christmas!

Since Christmas falls on Monday this year many of you will be gone and not checking in here, so I wanted to say, "Merry Christmas!" before you all flew out for wherever it is that you may be headed to this weekend.  

I'll be around here posting, so you can always check in whenever you get a chance, but here is a challenge: "Tune out from social media this weekend!" Try it and tune in to your friends and family instead. You can always catch up on things next week. 

That includes this blog, so if you are off to see friends and family, well, be intentional and spend some good, attentive time with them. If you are just doing the "regular ol' things", well, I'll be around. Oh, and thanks for reading my scribin'.

So, with that, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Trans Iowa v14: Recon Report

Well, we did it. We drove the entire course, plus a bit of a reroute. We finished after dark, We started in Waterloo at 6:00am and I got dropped off by Tony at 6:32pm. We drove a total of just under 500 miles to, doing the route, and back home again. I actually woke up for this adventure at 4:30am, so as I write this, I am a bit discombobulated.

Okay, so with a totally new route, new first checkpoint location, 14 or 15 sections of Level B roads, and some rad historical and cultural things to see along the way, I was excited to check out the route. Tony and I were all business. We just didn't have time to dink around anywhere. We did our stops like we were in the event. Get 'er duuun! In and out in a flash.

The route was going swimmingly with Level B's checking out and all the mileage being spot on until we saw it. "Road Closed To Through Traffic". Uggh! Okay, let's go see what is up here! Well, as it turns out, the road was great right up to the closed bridge, which has a perfectly good deck but is woefully under-engineered for today's Ag equipment. So, we're going to allow the riders passage as long as everything checks out next Spring.

We got started before the Sun rose, so this is from the course.

We saw lots of "fixer-uppers" yesterday!
The weather was gorgeous and we were able to drive every Level B Road with ease. Some Tony was calling "50 mile an hour Level B's" and he really did go that fast on them!

The Level B's were dry and super fast yesterday. Will they be that way in April? Maybe. It has happened!
This is why we do recon. On every map you can find this road is shown as being open.
Once again, we were rewarded for doing recon in the field by finding an "open road" which clearly was not and had not been that way for quite a while.

GPS from three different sources, (including the guy who puts out that gravel route map), and paper maps including the State DOT maps all show this road being clear. can only trust your eyes. Putting your trust in analogue or digital technology is a fools errand. Trust in that stuff at your own risk. I do not trust that stuff. For me, it is merely suggestions and maybe they will be true. I would have been floored had we not found something like this. In fact, I expected more. Glad we found an easy reroute for this and that there were not more issues.

So, my take on the route is that it is mostly good. There are about twenty or so miles I was disappointed in. I likely will reroute that section as well, but it is in an area I think will not prove to have any weird issues. never know! Of course, it is at a point about as far away from me as you can get. Why wouldn't it be? Ha!

So, I'll have more details in a follow-up post at a later date. We identified a checkpoint #2, but the mileage may change if I reroute the aforementioned section I don't like. I will have a solid amount of miles of dirt to share with you later as well, since that all checked out. Oh! By the way, I think that there was one "bonus" section of Level B. So maybe 15 sections of dirt? I'll have the final tally for you all later.

That's it for now though. I am tired!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rear View '17: Part 2

The look back on the year for 2017- dubbed "Rear View", is a traditional year ending series on the blog each year here. This is Part 2.

March ended with the tragedy of Mike Hall's death and a few days into April and we got the news that Steve Tilford had died. What a bad couple of weeks there. But that was only a precursor to a death which would hit a lot closer to home for me on April 16th. That was Easter, and it was also the day my father in law died, which then threw life into a tizzy with only two weeks to go before Trans Iowa v13.

There was one bright spot in the midst of early April and that was the Gent's Race which had its own story once again. We missed one of our team mates but gained a new one in Steve Fuller's wife Kathy. Sam was struggling mightily, wanting to quit, but "sucking at it"so much he was going to actually finish before a tire came undone on him with three miles to go.

Three freakin' miles!

Then came Trans Iowa v13. Wow! What an epic one too. Six finishers. Rain, wind, and mud. Just a crazy time. I was wrecked again after this one, but much more in the physical sense than emotionally.

After that came a Geezer Ride which went off without a hitch in May, then it was time to get ready to go to Kansas to do the "DK My Way" ride, which turned out to be a success. Unfortunately my friend Tony had a bad day in the DK200, wrecking out and trashing his Fargo in the process so badly he had to replace the frame. At least he was okay!

We got home from that adventure for a bit more relaxing time previous to my running of another Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational in July. But the Wednesday's off were filled with rain during this time and I missed a lot of opportunities to ride due to that.

Next: Part 3

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Carbon Is Black Not Green

Carbon fiber: Ultimate frame material or environmental disaster?
Bicycling in the 21st Century is a much different affair than it has been anytime previous to this era. While much of the past in bicycling was accomplished in and on metal, today it is increasingly being done on bike frames, forks, and parts made from carbon fiber.

Most of us never think twice about this. Carbon fiber usage maybe will raise a few concerns about strength and failures, but we almost never consider the origins of our lightest, most sexy bits for cycling. When you start to dig in to this, and how the end cycle of these carbon bicycles looks, you begin to realize it isn't as sexy and cool as the industry makes it out to be.

The situation is somewhat tragically ironic. Many think of cycling as the most green and efficient means of human transportation. The impact of cycling on our world is all too often focused on the end activity and how that compares to other activities. However; we really need to take into account the origins of the bits and baubles we pedal. When one sits down to do this, it becomes apparent that carbon fiber has an ugly, black side to it.

Just the making of carbon fiber fabric is intensely unfriendly to the environment. Fabric is heated in several stages, but not burned since this process lacks oxygen. It is done in a controlled way in order to render the fabric into carbon fiber. It is an energy intensive process and it creates several gasses, including CO2, as a byproduct. Hmm....not looking so green already. But then you have the resin which binds the fabric together, more pressure and heat, and the hand labor, don't forget that part. In one resource I found, it was stated that carbon takes about 14 times more energy to produce than steel.

A sheet of carbon fiber
One of the byproducts of making carbon parts, besides the greenhouse gasses, is........left over carbon fiber bits. Sheets are cut, carbon parts are sanded and ground down, and the resulting waste, about a third of each sheet ends up so, cannot be recycled easily. In fact, according to one account, the waste is dumped into the sea!

As I stated, carbon fiber can now be recycled, but the process is expensive, energy intensive, and it isn't widespread. Waste carbon is typically dumped into landfills where it can stay in its original state indefinitely.

Of course, alternatives to carbon for cycling are not  without their own environmental issues. The making of steel, aluminum, and especially titanium, is pretty "un-green". That said, most of these bits and frames are recycled and repaired more easily than carbon fiber frames and parts are. While carbon fiber can have a long lifespan, it does fail, wear out, and when it does, it becomes a liability. Not to mention how where this stuff is made is being polluted by the processes necessary to make it. If you are a cyclist that cares about the environment, that might be a concern.

It's hard not to fall for the lightweight charms of carbon fiber, that's for sure. However; I'm not so sure most of us have considered, or even know about, carbon fiber's creation processes and end of life cycle concerns. It is definitely something to take seriously, in my opinion.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Bikes Of 2017: Twin Six Standard Rando

It is that time of year when I start reviewing the bikes that got me through 2017. Many of these bikes have been tweaked and changed so I will talk about that and why they were important to me this past year.

Another standard of 2017, (HA!), was the Twin Six rig, which sees duties as my 650B tire testing mule most of the time. I don't think I had a 700c wheel in this frame throughout 2017.

I also swapped in the Redshift Sports ShockStop stem this year from a review on Boy, did that make a big difference. I had put a Salsa Cycles Cowchipper on the bike as well, which also helped a ton. My left shoulder was a big problem during 2016 and these modifications made a huge difference in totally relieving the pain I had which caused me to not ride this bike much at all during 2016. I also swapped out the SRAM Force 22 group, keeping only the crankset on the bike, for Shimano Ultegra 11. That also was a much liked change.

I feel like I gave SRAM a shot but it just isn't for me. The shifting was slower and clunky, plus I didn't get on with the levers and hoods at all. The Shimano is an improvement in almost every way. This goes only for myself here, but I cannot imagine any way that SRAM is better for a drop bar set up. Okay........maybe E-tap. Maybe.

Depending what happens with Black Mountain Cycles disc bike for next year, which I'd like to get, this bike may go on the sale page in some form or another. But we'll see.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Bonus News And Views

Hold the presses! It's 1992 again!
All City introduces the Electric Queen:

No- it isn't an e-bike.

No- it isn't a vacuum cleaner. (Although it could Hoover all the money out of your wallet in January when it becomes available.)

No- It isn't a 1992 Park-Pre hard tail. (Although it looks like it could be from that era.)

Nope- it is the ubiquitous slack, long, and short rear ended steel hard tail that everybody and their brother is making now. Welcome to the sheep show, All City. Get to know the dozen or so like minded designers and their bikes out there.

I will say that the fade paint with splatter is dead on early 90's though. All City nailed that one. Nicely done chaps!  

Salsas does kids bikes.....again.
 Salsa Introduces Kids Bikes Again:

Back in the day, (as they say), Ross Shafer of Salsa Cycles, who started the brand,  made a serious 24" wheeled kids bike. It flopped because it cost what an adult's bike cost, and ya grow like weeds. Get them a bike that fits today and two years from now they look like a circus bear on a bike. Parents don't like making high dollar short term recreational investments. At least not in this market which I am intimately familiar with in this Mid-Western town.

That's why I am not jumping for joy about $500.00 plus kid's bikes from Salsa Cycles. I mean, yeah.......for a few folks, this is rad. But for most parents I see coming in, this is going to be a non-starter. $250.00 Trek kids bikes are one thing, doubling the money? Yeah......I don't think that's going to fly here. 

Maybe where you live it will. I don't know.  

Velocity does now indeed have fat bike wheels.
 Velocity USA Fat Bike Wheels Confirmed:

If you are a regular reader of the blog you know that a while back I came across some Velocity fat bike hubs on an online retailer's site. There had been no word from Velocity about that and I found that really odd. Plus, I wondered if Velocity would be partnering with someone to do full wheel builds.

Well, Friday Velocity announced that it will be selling wheels and hubs for fat bikes now. Huzzah! 

The rim company they partnered with is HED and they are offering the carbon and aluminum rims in a Comp and Pro build along with just hubs if you want them. Head over to Velocity USA for all the details.

I may have to see if I can lighten up my Blackborow a bit with a set of these wheels and tubeless tires.

Minus Ten Review- 50

Ten years ago on the blog I was busy doing the "Rear View" for 2007. But I did do one post IO think maybe I should try again. "The Top Ten Weird Things of 2007".

Here's the list as it appeared in 2007. Some of the things are still relevant today, but some are dated. You can guess which is which. Here we go...

The Top Ten Weird Things of 2007

1. Las Vegas. If you haven't been there, it is hard to explain this. If you have- 'nuff said!

2. Driving around Iowa for 30 plus hours with a car full of alcohol during Trans Iowa V3.

4. The feelings experienced around hour 40 of no sleep just after T.I.V3

5. Watching a Luther College athlete "breathe fire" at a campground in Decorah during the Big Wheeled Ballyhoo, then ride trail all the next day while drinking said fire.

6. Mike Curiak's personal Lenz Lunchbox 29"er. By the numbers, and for the amount of travel this machine has, it should handle like a pig. The crazy thing is, it rides and handles better than some hard tail 29"ers out there.

7. How a certain individual was allowed to sell directly on (650B stuff) and another individual was blamed for doing this, (and wasn't) and got banned not once, but twice.

8. Somebody posted a thread on on the 29"er forum regarding his loss of feelings for his wife/marriage. While sad, (if not a hoax) it is very weird.

9. That we are getting the third ice storm in 2007 and we still have 20 days left to go in the year.

10. That I have the gig writing that I do and that people still enjoy reading my scribin' Now that's weird!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday News And Views

The lottery submission process ends Saturday night.
DK200 Lottery Entries Close Saturday Night And Thoughts:

The inaugural Dirty Kanza lottery process has its first stage close on Saturday evening when all submissions must be in. The next step will be for the selection process to begin. It isn't quite clear to me how that will work, but then again, it doesn't matter. It's their event and they can do whatever they deem right for them.

I know I will not be going down this coming year. My feeling is that some others are deciding against the event as well. Prices for entry seem to be the main reason I am seeing folks make the decision not to go. Granted, it is the DK200, but prices for this event are decidedly on the higher end of the scale when it comes to gravel events nationwide. Ultimately, the riders will vote with their dollars and the resulting economy will be the deciding factor here.

Some folks like to point to "gravel cycling" as the culprit. They like to say that the "movement" is getting "too big", or it is "selling out", or they blame whatever nefarious group or nebulous movement for the reason why this is happening. This "vague blaming" is easy to do. It's non-confrontational, easy to agree with, and doesn't require any real cognitive action on anyone's part. Basically it is worthless spouting of hot air. You want to know why these kinds of things like the situation at the DK200 are happening?

It's the people who willingly buy into it. No one is prying money out of wallets and "making you spend money" or making you train, or buy a package to get a free entry, or whatever it is. No one is making anyone do that forcefully. Nope! People willingly pay these prices. 

Until people willingly do not pay these prices, nothing is going to change.

Oooo! Snow!
 Wow! What A Winter So far!

Sarcasm Alert: Gee, this fantastic cold weather with no snow has really been fantastic. And just think, next week they say it will get even colder! Awesome.

Yeah, it hasn't been maybe as cold as it should be this time of year, but the wind has more than made up for things, at least around here. Plus, the humidity levels have been high enough that this air we have just cuts right into your bones. At least the Arctic air we're supposed to get just in time for Christmas will be drier and not so bad to stay warm in.

Snow has been a rarity, and by the looks of it, that should remain the case through Christmas. Yeah, that's a risky thing to say, what with Winter weather being so hard to pin down. Who really knows. We could end up with a bunch of the white stuff here, but the weather prognosticators and my gut feeling say not so much.

The point is that Winter is going to be a slow starter if ever it does snow here. Really cold air without snow is just wrong, and for me, not really Winter. If we get very far into the New Year with no snow, well then.....I'm going to say this Winter is a major fail. But there is still a lot of time left before we can really think seriously about Spring, so this Winter still has time to redeem itself. I just know that short days, brown scenery, and cold air add up to a depressing state of affairs.

Meanwhile the rivers are already icing up and many will freeze solid they are so low, that is if we get really frigid temperatures for very long. It could make for interesting fat biking opportunities, but other than that, this situation isn't good.

Can you believe anything done when this is worn anymore?
The Latest Dope:

Occasionally I will opine about Pro road cycling here. I used to be a big fan. However; I became jaded after umpteen doping scandals and now I only casually follow this side of sport.

So, the following is from the perspective of someone that rides bicycles but doesn't really know or care about the Pro racing side of the equation anymore.

That said, the winner of the last Vuelta, Chris Froome, returned a positive for an inhaler banned by the UCI at twice the level allowed. No penalties have been issued, no sanctions declared, but the court of public opinion is already buzzing about this one. However that goes, should we be surprised anymore? 

Doping in bicycle racing goes way back. You really cannot blame salaries, modern cycling culture, or sponsors for this. It is historical. Riders have doped and died for doing it in the past. That doesn't excuse what we see today, by any means, but that it continues to this day, that is no surprise. Even in competitions that pay no money, have no prizing, or any real fame or glory to offer, even those events  have their cheaters. It is human nature to cheat. That's my opinion, and maybe a dim view, but I see no other logical explanation.

So while it is noble to believe that the Pro racers are "clean" when you watch the sport, it is naive to believe that there are no cheaters. That goes for all levels of cycling. Right down to the rank amateurs.

So, the latest scandal involving Chris Froome? I am not at all surprised.

 That's all for this week. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Myth That Stiffer Bicycles Are Faster

Recent race bike design is starting to acknowledge that stiffness everywhere in a bike isn't necessarily a good thing.
Riding Gravel just posted a great new article about how vibration isn't your best friend on gravel rides. I've been saying similar things for years. In fact, the article's author, in an e-mail to me, reminded me of how I have advocated against the use of cyclo cross bikes for gravel riding and have gotten into some "discussions" with others about this. This because I have often said that these bikes are too stiff and don't have the ideal geometry for gravel riding.

Those bikes specifically designed for that niche of riding have peculiar traits which have been honed over decades of design and with material technologies available now, they are typically very stiff bikes. They should be. Cyclo cross is a short event which demands racers have every iota of energy come out as power to the ground. Stiffness to the detriment of comfort is something which is a given in this sport of cyclo cross, which, let's be honest, is about suffering on many levels.

Anyway, the point is that cyclo cross bikes are not tuned to absorb the sort of vibrations that gravel road riding induces. This makes them not the best tool for the job. NOTE- I did not say that you should never use a CX bike for gravel. I merely am saying that these sharply defined bikes for a singular purpose are not really "gravel bikes".  And I haven't even mentioned their geometry, which also isn't ideal.

But that isn't a big deal anymore, like it was five or more years ago. Now you can buy a bicycle tuned for gravel travel from many brands, and some of those actually address the problem of vibration by allowing flex. 

Salsa Cycles Warbird was designed to absorb vibrations over gravel roads.
 The Warbird specifically is allowed to have flex in the seat stays to allow the rider to have a less jarring ride. Bicycles like Trek's Domane, (which has technology which will be applied to a new model specifically for gravel, due in March), and Specialized's Roubaix models have existed for some time now, both which allow for flex that absorbs vibrations which otherwise would impede the rider's performance.

Obviously, stiffness isn't always the over-arching goal of design, but typically we see riders responding to claims of stiffness in a frame as being "good". Not just in terms of bottom bracket stiffness, or lateral stiffness, but in the entire frame. Customers think this is "good" in a frame, and they can feel this stiffness, so it must be "good".

Carbon frames have also  made a name for themselves by being brutishly stiff, yet having the oft misused descriptor of "carbon absorbs vibrations" attached to them by unwitting salespeople and general riders. This may have been the case 25 years ago when carbon fiber frames were not as well made, (read: having more bonding component compared to actual carbon material), but that is not the case anymore. Carbon stiffness is incredible now days, and vibrations are not muted by the material. It just passes through frequencies and energy differently than metal frames, but the energy is still getting through to the rider.

One place where carbon has made ride quality worse than ever is in the area of forks.
Vibrations which are passed through to a rider make that rider fatigued and slower. Especially if the road surface is rough, as it is with gravel road riding. This is one of the reasons why Pro riders are gravitating to wider rims and tires. Those tires on wider rims allow for slightly lower pressures and help absorb these unwanted vibrations. No longer should you listen to that guy you know from RAGBRAI who says you should run 23mm tires at 110psi. He's wrong about that. Dead wrong.

One of my pet peeves is the use of carbon forks with massive, thick legs, tapered steer tubes, and thick "uni-crown" style fork crowns. These forks do not give an inch. (Again- riders can feel stiffness and think it means "I'm faster", but they aren't) These unforgiving forks may make sense to a cyclo cross racer, where high load cornering is almost always a thing. But for the general public, and especially for gravel riders, it is a useless commodity. Forks which flex and give are far more road worthy and comfortable. Straight steer tubes, while seemingly archaic, actually allow some flex which also helps keep the front triangle, and especially the handle bars, "quieter". Less vibration means more comfort and a faster ride. Think about this. Why would Specialized and Trek work so hard to design flex into the front ends of their bikes?

But flex, and the resulting smoother and more efficient ride quality, is a hard sell. Riders feel smoothness as "slowness". This was true back when suspension forks came along for mountain biking in the early 1990's. Riders tried it and hated it, saying the devices made them slower and sluggish. However; when running similar courses back to back with suspended and non-suspended bikes, it became clear that the smoother riding suspension equipped bikes were making for faster times. All that despite these bikes being heavier and "less stiff" than their non-suspended counterparts. Well, we know what happened next......

Why is it so hard for us to understand that flex, be it passive or active, as in suspension applications, make us faster and obviously more comfortable when almost any other human carrying vehicle employs suspension and flex? Vibrations are bad, most often, and as cyclists, we should be very wary of any bicycle company claiming that more stiffness is a good thing.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Rear View '17: Part 1

The look back on the year for 2017- dubbed "Rear View", is a traditional year ending series on the blog each year here. This is Part 1:

2017 started out with a Winter that was quickly failing its promise started earlier in 2016. By the New Year the snow was dismal for anything Winter related and it only got worse. By early February we were already out on the gravel roads and enjoying March-like weather.

I was fretting over a snag in the route finding for Trans Iowa which saw a complete re-writing of the opening leg that needed looking at. There were a couple of sore spots for me coming into and out of Winterset, which was a looong way away from Waterloo.

I got sick in January with a cold/flu. Again. Like about every year.....

I went to the Iowa Bicycle Expo again and it was a pretty good time. Well, except for that one vendor who shall remain nameless that pretty much did all he could do to ignore me. That was interesting.....

February dawned with a bit of a solo recon mission on the first leg of Trans Iowa v13. It went smoothly and was deemed a great success. I spent a lot of time clearing out the Lab, adding new bits to old bikes, and dreaming of making the Black Mountain Cycles rig an 11 speed one, but that last part never happened.

There was white wall tires for the Big Dummy, the resurrection of the '03 Monkey in a "green theme" and the start of the restoration of my custom Badger. News bits included the catastrophic DK200 registration, the revealing of a "gravel fork" by Fox, and the announcement of the Riding Gravel jersey and more.

Winter took an early leave in 2017
March came with the news that I was going to be back with the crew again for another Renegade Gents Race. Weather was awesome. It was no problem getting in good gravel miles and the Sun was warming things up really great. Would Spring come early? I was hard pressed to think otherwise.

Well,the weather took a turn back toward Winter about the 10th of March and right as I was able to get out and complete the Trans Iowa v13 recon. It was a huge load off my mind and just in time for the last gasp of Winter to come and sling down some wet snow on us.

That snow was on its way out a week later and I was on a mad scramble to get in some sort of fitness for the quickly approaching Gents Race. Between Trans Iowa recon and that snow, the weeks leading up to the Gents Race weren't kind to the training schedule. Of course, I was also busy behind the scenes trying to knock out cue sheets and getting the special T.I.v13 shirt order in so they could get printed up in time for the event. This also included sourcing number plates and getting those in so I could start customizing those for each rider.

March closed out with the shocking news of Mike Hall's death while participating in the Indian Pacific Wheel Race. The news took the ultra-endurance and bikepacking riding scene to a level of distress and mourning which had been unprecedented.

Coming Soon- Part 2

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Bikes Of 2017: Pofahl Custom

Back in the "greener days". The Pofahl set up for gravel slaying.
It is that time of year when I start reviewing the bikes that got me through 2017. Many of these bikes have been tweaked and changed so I will talk about that and why they were important to me this past year.

If you were reading over the weekend you would have seen my Pofahl in its original set up. I was intending for that bike to be a bit of an all-around rig that could cover gravel and single track duties. Basically what I had been doing with my original 29"er, the 2003 Karate Monkey which I had fitted with drop bars.

Interestingly, my gig with the now defunct "Twenty Nine Inches" website really disrupted my gravel leanings for years and simultaneously put off my using this bike for far too long. Now that having to test mountain bike stuff all the time is a thing of the past, I have returned to the riding of the Pofahl, and that has been a refreshing change.

Many of you may be wondering about the strange arrangement of tubes this bike sports. I don't blame you. And please- don't blame Mr. Pofahl! (Yes, there is a Mr. Pofahl) The frame design wasn't his fault or idea, it was all mine.

You see, I had a hankering for design going back to my jeweler days and I was doodling up frame configurations all the time back in the early 00's and when 29"er design was in its infancy. I also was, at about the same time, all into what was the benefits and history of drop bars on mountain bikes which eventually led me back to the very beginnings of mtb in the modern era. That in turn uncovered the Breezer V1 bikes with the twin lateral tubes and all. See, I figured it might be cool to emulate that early design, incorporate some modernized elements of the past, and get rid of those pesky seat stays, just because.

The result is what you see here.

It's been raced on gravel, and spends most of its time doing gravelly things, so it is overbuilt for the task, having been originally thought of as a single track rig . But it still rides great, and the absence of seat stays? Hmm...... The bike might be a touch more compliant, maybe. It's really hard to tell. I do know that it fits me really well and with the 1995 Race Face 180mm cranks, it can crank out a single speed gravel climb very well. It's obviously very unique and I like it. That's all that matters in the end.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Friends And Family

Celebrating on Saturday evening at my workstation
I've worked at my job I have currently over 15 years now. That in and of itself isn't all that remarkable, but when you consider that I am a bicycle mechanic, it might be. Most mechanics move around a lot, or quit the trade entirely for more lucrative and stable employment.

Also, consider that bicycle shops are closing their doors at a steady pace, so being able to work in one place, even if you wanted to, isn't always an option. My first bicycle shop job ended that way. I didn't want to quit wrenching on bicycles, but with no openings in the area, I had to move on to wrenching on automobiles for five and a half years before coming back again to wrench on bicycles.

So, while I have some part in being at the job so long now, my boss has the other important factor in hand which is keeping the shop alive these past years so that I have that place to work. That was why we gathered Saturday evening to celebrate his owning of Europa Cycle & Ski for 30 years.

Interestingly enough, invitations to past mechanics of the shop were answered and several of them showed up for the event. The mechanic who originally purchased the Surly 1X1 I have now was there and was blown away that the bike has stayed in the Europa "mechanics family" now all these years with myself being the seventh mechanic to own it. Other mechanics going back to the early days were there and we all heard some great stories of the past 30 years.

There was beer, snacks, and great conversations. I attended with Mrs. Guitar Ted and we both had a great time. After things wound down at the shop we went to a local brewery and had more conversations and got to know some nice folks connected with the shop.

"New" single track in an unusual place was scouted out Sunday with my son.
The next day I spent with my family. I had heard about a bit of new single track added in at a point I found rather intriguing, so I asked my son if he would go on a bike ride with me.

This was going to be a bit of an exploration trip, as I had no clear idea of just where this track was supposed to be taking us. It was vaguely mentioned at the shop by a customer and from his directions it was not clear as to just where the trail started. Fortunately, since I was looking for "something", I found the track.

It was on the other side of the "elbow" lake which runs along the South Riverside Trail between Greenhill Road and Ansborough Avenue. An old oxbow of the Cedar River has generally been full of water here ever since the expressway went in during the early 90's. There along the highway on the other side of the paved bicycle path there stands a bit of a grove of trees which splits the highway and the oxbow lake. I often looked across that shallow lake to those woods wondering if there were any good reasons to try riding back there. Flooding typically ravages this area, so I didn't take it very seriously when I had the urge to explore back there.

The track has all the hallmarks of a cleared deer trail. It stays relatively high and probably clear of water. Well, that is if water was there! This oxbow lake is almost dry now. I've never seen it like that before, but this impending drought we are staring at might make it so I could traverse the mud flats of the old lake bottom next year. I'm keeping an eye out for that opportunity.

Anyway, the track is very off camber in spots, and it isn't really "burned in" all that well, so that if it gets slippery, I suspect that it would be a treacherous traverse. But Sunday it was dry and easy enough to navigate. That it runs right next to the DOT fence for the expressway isn't my cup-o-tea, but I doubt I will ride this when the roads are icy anyway, so the possibilities of a car coming off the road and careening through the fencing when I happen to be there will be very low.

This new trail section gets you up close and personal with the HWY 218/27 fencing in many spots. My son is off in the distance here.
Of course, the legalities of such a trail existing are questionable, but....... It is there now. So, in keeping with my quest to have ridden all the local tracks since 1988, I had to try it at least one time. I hear I have one other to hit up, but that trip will happen another time as my son was not having anymore of this bushwhacking adventure! Seems that the "adventure gene" may not have passed down to him. But he was a trooper and indulged me on this ride anyway.

I ended the weekend by taking a four mile walk with my daughter and then we went out and viewed the Christmas lights around town. It was a great way to spend the weekend and with the weather being tranquil, it was great to add a ride in to the mix too.