Saturday, February 17, 2018

Minus Ten Review- 7

My 1972 Gretsch Country Club
Ten years ago on the blog here I actually posted a ton of images! Pretty dang surprised at the stuff I had to go through for today's post, which has been unusual until now. We'll see if I was able to keep that up in future "Minus Ten Review" posts!

I posted this image of my Gretsch. Back then I didn't know what year it was or even what model guitar it was. Now through the magic of the innergoogles I have ascertained all I need to know about the thing. I still have it and it sounds pretty good when I take it out and play it. I don't use it a lot, but whenever I do, it gets way more compliments and comments than any other guitar I own combined. Something about that big ol' hollow body!

Of course, this weekend is another edition of Frostbike, the dealer only invitation show that Quality Bikes puts on. I used to go to this gig for several years, but I think this makes three years in a row that I haven't gone. I had many a good time there. Many! Too good a time some years!

2008 was not all that great, let me tell ya! Now I had been going to Frostbike regularly for five years by this point. This Frostbike was an entirely different deal. I went up with a former co-worker that was taking care of the Ergon booth for Jeff Kerkove, who had just taken on that gig the year before. The guy I went up to the show with was Carl Buchanan. He dropped me off at QBP pre-show where I hooked up with then Salsa Brand Manager, Jason Boucher. I was to "shadow" Jason all weekend and I was staying at his home while we were up there. It was a very gracious offer on his part, but it cost him dearly and I was ultimately embarrassed greatly!

Part of the gig as brand Manager was to deal with all the big dealers and international press and international dealers who were there to join in Frostbike. Back then it still was a legitimate "trade show" of sorts with a fair amount of product releases going on simultaneously. Remember, there was no Saddledrive, or anything else other than Sea Otter and Interbike for QBP to show wares at stateside. So, Frostbike was a "big deal" and it attracted a lot of dealer attention worldwide.

The "bike pile" in the basement of One On One Bike Studio in Minneapolis
So it was that I ended up in a brew pub/restaurant with Jason, the Surly Crew, the German distributors, and the Japanese distributors and their photographers. It was a wild time with food and beers flowing. Later, we were to go to the famous On On One Bicycle Studio, not far from where we were engaged in eating and drinking on a cold, snowy Minneapolis night. The Japanese contingent insisted on some kind of impromptu photoshoot with Jason and Salsa's Kid Reimer, posing them on their bicycles and filming them riding to One On One.

I was a bystander with nothing to do with any of this circus, and Jason, being cognizant of that fact, tossed me the keys to his Honda Element and told me to go ahead and drive to One On One, park the vehicle, and wait for him inside. Supposedly there was some shindig going on down there as well.

So, keep in mind that I was a total Minneapolis noob and knew nothing of the ways of the inner city. As I searched for a spot to park, I noted that there was a little used lot right across from One On One. I couldn't believe my luck as I parked the Element, locked it up, and strolled on into One On One where I saw a few folks I knew and started chatting. The conversation went to how horrendous it was to find a spot to park when I spouted off that I had found this awesome spot easily right across the street.

That's when I found out that was an impound lot- no parking or your vehicle gets towed. 

Yeah......Heart sank, felt one inch tall...... All the guilts! Anyway, I went down in the basement where the infamous One On One "bike pile" is and stayed out of the view of the crowd upstairs which was buzzing about the "idiot that got Boucher's car towed".

Obviously Jason showed up to find out the terrible news and he shot out of there to retrieve his vehicle. A couple of hours later and over $260.00 dollars poorer, I found myself in a very uncomfortably silent vehicle heading back to Jason's abode.

That was the longest car ride ever! 

And yes, we are still friends! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday News And Views

I'm Never Gonna Let You Down:

What if you never had to refresh your tubeless tire sealant? Sounds like a fairy tale? Well.......it isn't, and it hasn't been for a long time. First of all, there are a LOT of available tire sealant products that will not dry up inside of your tubes or tubeless tires. Probably the most famous of these is Slime. Heck we were using Slime back in the 90's effectively to prevent flats in our mountain bike tubes. We never gave a thought to it drying up because.......well it never dried up. That's why.

But just this week Finish Line, the bicycle lube and cleaner company, announced a "new sealant" (To the bicycle industry)  that will "... last the entire usable life of the tire".

Sounds like a bold claim, but really, this part isn't new. Like I have illustrated above. The reason many sealants dry out is because the carrier fluid, the fluid that has the coagulants suspended in it, is generally ammonia. Latex is also commonly used and dries out as well. So, you get the very effective sealing properties, but the fluid and latex dries out in a few months, on average. Now there have been other sealants I have tried which do not dry out, but their sealing properties are.....not very good. That's why you generally do not find many cyclists bantering about this fantastic sealant which never dries out AND seals punctures with awesome speed and regularity. Those traits in a sealant- never drying out and effective sealing properties- seem to be mutually exclusive characteristics, unless Finish Line has figured out how to do it.

Of course, we have to keep in mind that "sealing" doesn't just mean plugging punctures, but sealing casings as well, because your tubeless tires are not likely full on UST, no sealant necessary tires. You'd know if you had a tubeless tire like that because it would weigh a LOT. Almost all tubeless tires for bicycles now require sealant to seal off the casings, otherwise you'd lose air quickly enough that you'd be pumping your tires up more than riding. So, will this fancy-pants Finish Line sealant do a good job of that? Don't know the answer to that question just yet.

Orange, bendy, secure......
  The Glorified Zip Tie: 

The ride was awesome and the crew you were riding with wants to head over to the local coffee spot for a drink and some vittles, but you are super nervous about your rig sitting out......there! All alone, nobody watching it with protective eyes, and you cannot see it from where you are sitting. One of your friends says something to you, but you didn't catch it because your mind is.......elsewhere. 

You know, you could bring along some sort of  cable lock, but they are sort of clunky. A "U" lock? Not on your life! There are those slinky steel cable locks that are small and packable, but they look.......anemic. Easy to cut? They look like they might be. Hmm...... What to do.

So, here is a possibility to consider for those sort of rides, or if you need to just run into a store or business quick. The Ottolock. It's pretty much best described as being a "glorified zip tie". It's light, flexible, and easily stowed into a jersey pocket, seat bag, frame bag, or looped around your frame, since it has a  rubberized covered, triple stainless steel layered band. Like I say, it is light, at 152 grams for the one I was sent. It is spendy, at $65.00, but that's more than worth it for the peace of mind and security. This is supposed to be better at securing your bike than a cable lock and maybe not quite as nice as a "U" lock.

Well, it seems like it makes sense and it seems well made. It should work great as a "medium security" type device for locking your bike to a rack, pole, etc. I will be using it here and figuring out if the thing is worth it or what.

Formatting in One, Two, Three.....
Trans Iowa v14 Cue Formatting Underway:

The goal before February is through is to have all the Trans Iowa v14 cues formatted for Spring Recon. That's when I take the cues out in the field and, usually, have someone drive according to them and check that they make sense. We wouldn't want you turning left when you should be turning right, for instance.

Anyway, the process got started this week with the cues to checkpoint # 1 getting done. I should have cues through checkpoint #2 done for sure this weekend. That's the biggest section, in terms of miles, and that will take slightly longer to fill into the cue sheet format than the last section. Although, I haven't actually counted the number of prompts, which could be more for the last sector. Hmm.....

At any rate, in other T.I.v14 news, the plan is set for the special gifts to the riders this year. I have done various things in the past, most notably t-shirts, but I will be handing out completely different items to the riders this year. If you show up, they will be somethings I think you will be stoked to have. We'll see. Thanks to Lederman Bail Bonds, one of our longstanding Trans Iowa sponsors, since it is because of their generosity that this is happening.

Okay, that's a wrap for this week. Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

To Flat Or Not To Flat

These swanky Fyxation Mesa Subzero's may be seeing a lot of gravel duty
I don't know what it is exactly. Maybe I am reverting to a childhood status when it comes to riding bicycles. Maybe I am too much about having more fun these days. Whatever the reason, I just got in these new Fyxation Mesa Subzero pedals and I was thinking, why not use flat pedals for gravel riding? 

I'm sure many of you have, and many of you reading here do use flat pedals for gravel road riding, but I generally don't give it much thought. So, why now? Well, again......I'm not sure! I just know that it suddenly seems like a great idea.

So, why not?

By the way, I have used flats on gravel road riding before. I did the "Fatbike Century" over a year ago on flats. I also used street shoes! It was a successful experiment and raised not a few questions in my mind about why we insist on using specific pedals and shoes for all our riding. I don't think it is necessary and I wonder if this predilection with using specific shoes and pedals hasn't actually caused more issues than it solves.

I suppose we could debate things till the cows come home, but I have had one observation that, along with clothing choices, seems to take down a huge barrier to getting out there, for me, at least. That is that when I have a bicycle with flats installed I am more likely to want to ride that bike than I am my bikes without flat pedals. To tag along this line of thinking, I am also more likely not to worry a bunch about wearing cycling specific duds as well. Just a jersey, pop on a helmet, go ride.

Easy.

Sure, that doesn't mean that it isn't a good idea to use that specific cycling gear much of the time, but if I had only clipless pedal bikes, and if I thought I could only ride in a chamois and jersey, I would ride a lot less than I do. Sometimes I even ride without a helmet. (GASP!) Yep! And it is awesome.....

Anyway, the less barriers to getting on the bike the better, I think. Yeah.......I think I may be mashing flats a lot out on the gravel this year. At least to start out with. We'll see where it goes.......

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Mushy

All those tracks are deer tracks. They were busy down there!
Monday I rode to work in perhaps the last of the negative digit temps for the Winter. Oh......there could be another time for that yet, but the Sun is getting up higher in the sky and the Sun's rays are warming things up little by little. Spring is not far off......

We had a big dump of snow last Friday and the hope was that it would bring back the good times for fat biking. I went out with my snow shoes Sunday to beat in a bit of a path for my commute, but the bindings broke about ten minutes after I started. Anyway, it was a largely fruitless effort anyway. This snow is sooooo unconsolidated. About seven inches of sugar-snow is what it ended up being. Absolute mush.

But that didn't deter me from trying to take the long way home on Monday. The ride in wasn't very encouraging. I had to walk a lot of my "off-pavement" sections. Even the unplowed parking lot was only doable because some yahoos had been in there whipping doughnuts so I had some car/truck tire tracks to follow.

Going home the "long way" I ran into a lot of shifting, sand-like snow that saw me going a few feet then washing out the front tire. Or if that wasn't the case it was the severely "post-holed by walkers" snow that bounced me off into the more unconsolidated mush and coming to a halt.

Frustrating?

Very!

This was in the middle of a long stretch of pushing the bike.
Later into the ride I managed to pull off a stretch of riding in the snow only because the wind had blown off enough of the sugar that I could see blades of grass sticking through the mushy mess. Any deeper than this and the tires simply would not float. They would simply sink in and the bike was unrideable. It was akin to trying to ride on "thick water". Sinking was more the rule of the day than floating was.

It seems as though this snow will be gone soon enough and I am completely fine with that. The temps today are suppose to be into the 40 degree range and many subsequent days look to be above freezing with the exception of Friday which is going to be like yesterday, around 17°F for a high. But that's an outlier for the coming two weeks. We are supposed to be above freezing more often than not, and then it will be March. Fat bikes will be getting less of my attention very soon and the gravel bikes will be hitting the roads here.

I'm ready for it..........

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Got A License For That Thing?

We have licenses to allow military personnel into nuclear facilities, but can they drive?
Get a license for your vehicle, they said, you can't drive without one. But what does a driver's license actually say about your skill as a driver? Pretty much not a damn thing.

This matters to cyclists because we are at risk every day we ride in public by drivers who may, or most likely not, be very good at actually driving. It's pretty ridiculous, actually. Think about the following:
  • We make semi-tractor trailer drivers actually prove their skill at driving.
  • We actually make motor cyclist prove their proficiency at handling a motor cycle. 
  • Race car drivers are held to high standards for driving skill.
But every day drivers can pretty much waltz right into their living rooms, fire up a computer, and order up an extension on their license for years. Young people are sent through a rudimentary driver's education class, charged an exorbitant fee, and when they pass, they get a license to drive without ever having to show their skill set in driving a car. Then they are never tested again for the remainder of their lives. 

Wut, wut?!! 

So, maybe you are one of those that thinks I belong on a bicycle path. Get offa my roads! You don't want to have to "deal with me". Okay, so like the bicycle path I went by yesterday with a smashed bench where a car went right across the path? Hmm.....yeah. Bicycle paths will keep me safe from blithering idiots that cannot slow down in inclement weather. Right........

Anyway, I've said it for years, (and this article prompted me to remember) cars and trucks are too easily gotten by unskilled drivers and are too easy to drive in the first place. 

You want to license cyclists? I'm good with that if you have to prove your acumen in a car/truck every three years for the rest of your life. Not by some "pat on the back", wink-wink testing procedure either, but a Bondurant driving school type testing procedure. If you don't know how to safely make evasive maneuvers, when to use slower speeds in inclement weather, or ......pay attention, then why in the world should you be allowed a license to pilot a potential 5,000lb death machine?


The answer is that you shouldn't. Period.


 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Spring Geezer Ride 2018

The ride will start at Prairie Grove Park on the South side side of Waterloo
It's time to start thinking about the next Geezer Ride for this Spring. "Geezer Ride?", you say? Yes.....Geezer Ride!

So, at the Gravel Clinic that was dubbed the Iowa Gravel Expo by NY Roll done this past January, I made the announcement there that the next Geezer Ride would be about the beginners. Of course, if you know anything about the Geezer Ride that I put on it has always been about the beginners to gravel. 

I am going to make sure this gets pushed out on social media locally, but of course, it all depends on who actually decides to show up. Anyone and everyone with a working bicycle and the desire to ride approximately 40 miles of gravel roads is welcome to this group ride.

 It is no drop, no one gets left behind, and the focus is on fun. That said, YOU ARE  RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF! Come prepared to fix a flat, have water and food on-board with you, and a bail-out plan should you become tired of having this fun on gravel we have. The pace will be sloooooooow! Plan on FREQUENT STOPS to gather up the stragglers if there are any. There also will be a few tips on how to ride gravel doled out to any beginners there and a Q & A session mid-ride or whenever it seems appropriate, to answer any rider's questions.

Petrie Road's Level b Maintenance section will figure into the ride for sure.
Okay, so here's the date: Saturday March 31st at 8:00am

Yes.........there probably are a lot of other things scheduled for that Saturday. I'm NOT moving the date unless it rains. Then the postponed date will be April 14th. Otherwise I plan on doing this ride even if showers are in the forecast. Stay tuned to this space or the Geezer Ride site for updates to anything relating to the ride date.

The Course: The route for this Spring's Geezer Ride will be South of Waterloo and some gently rolling hills, at least one Level B Road, and then on some pretty flat terrain to wind up in Hudson Iowa where the group will have some decisions. One way we could do it would be to stop in at a tavern downtown for a "rest stop". We could also stop at the local Casey's store for refreshments, or we could just roll on homeward via paved bike trail or on gravel back to the park where the ride begins. I'm leaving those options open until we gather and see what the weather and group dynamics dictates.

There will be a few hills, but nothing too taxing. This is the corner of Mt. Vernon and Streeter Road from another Geezer Ride.


Expect the ride to be about 40-ish miles and take until perhaps mid-afternoon to complete if need be. Remember- no one gets dropped, so if we have to stop every three miles, we will. And actually, that's how the first Geezer Ride went. So, be prepared for a long, slow, easy paced ride geared to those who want to try gravel roads for the first time.

Besides this Geezer Ride, there will be another up in the Cresco, Iowa area, with details yet to be determined. That will likely be a Summer ride. Then there is talk of doing the Amish/Mennonite route from another past Geezer Ride sometime this year as well. Stay tuned to the Geezer Ride page and this spot for any future announcements.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Touring Series: A Look Back At The Horse That Got Me There

 Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

The following post is a remembrance from 2008 concerning the bike I used to get me where I was going to go on this tour. There will be a reference to the pre-tour happenings in the 1994 manuscript I am re-posting, but I found that there wasn't really a good telling of how that bicycle came together, so I wrote up something to flesh out that part of the story:

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A Guitar Ted Productions Series
   I was in the process of putting together my first touring rig from an old mountain bike traded in at the shop I started at in the early 90's. The bicycle was a 1984 Mongoose All Mountain Pro. It was in pretty good shape, all the original parts were there, even the snake belly tires were still on it. Looking back, it probably would have been smarter to keep it as it was, since it was a somewhat collectible machine as it sat, but I didn't see it that way at the time. I saw it as a cheap way to get a tour worthy machine and head out on an adventure with some new friends.

The decision to get it and modify it was largely influenced by my co-worker at the time, Troy. He had been wrenching at the shop for a few years ahead of me while he attended college. His advice was to take the chromed beast and do the following modifications: Change out the wheels, handle bar, stem, shifters, brake levers, and fork. He told me that drop bars were the way to go, and that the bike's "bull moose" stem and bar set up had to go. He also thought the plate crown fork looked too spindly and that I should get a uni-crown fork for it. The wheels looked sketchy, and of course, new tires and tubes would be in order as well.

Sheesh! I suppose I must have gotten the bike for a song, because I was making wholesale changes to the bike. I stayed late after work making changes. It proved to be a frustrating and valuable learning experience.

I found out that the Mongoose had a BMX specific head set, owing to Mongoose's BMX roots. That was a bit of a problem since I had to order in a headset special to fit it. Then the fork needed to be compatible, which severely limited my choices. I ended up finding a chrome fork with a uni-crown in the shop's basement. All good except that it was a high tensile steel fork. Not as strong as a Cro-Moly fork. I don't think I told Troy that it was "hi-ten" since I figured he would disapprove and I'd have to try and find a Cro-Moly one. I doubted that I could do that, in the less than a week's time I had to pull this transformation off, so I kept that to myself.

The Avocet touring tires I used 24 years ago on the tour.
I used a Mongoose branded steel quill stem, seemed the right thing to do there, and a Nitto drop bar with some Campagnolo friction shifters that the shop had. The aero levers were something I think Troy had. I wired those up to the front cantilever brakes and rear SunTour roller cam. I didn't have a clue how to set up that rear brake, and for the most part it really wasn't functional. I pretty much did that fist tour with only a front brake!

I think I stole the wheels from off my Klein for this tour. A hand built set of SunTour Grease Guard hubs on Ritchey Vantage Pro rims. Shod those with Avocet tires. The ones with the inverted tread. Otherwise the bike was stock with the Avocet saddle, SunTour "AR" derailleurs, and serviceable bottom bracket with Sugino cranks sporting a 48-38-28 gearing. I had an eight speed 12-32T SunTour cassette out back. (If indeed I used my Klein wheels, which I think I did)

The bike had a triple strut aluminum rack already on it. I scored a set of rear panniers through the shop, and a front set from another co-worker. A few purchases through Campmor rounded out the set up. Inflatable Therma-rest pad, 40 degree bag, and some other small items. I borrowed a tent and a couple of smaller items from friends.
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A couple of notes to clarify things: The Klein I had was a '92 Klein Attitude and the wheels were hand built for that bike. Obviously you might remember that I wasn't on this tour in the last post, but obviously I was on it. That story will get filled in with the material from the manuscript I wrote in '94 and is forthcoming here. Finally, I still have most of this bike in pieces in the Lab. Someday I'm going to resurrect it..........

Next Week on "The Touring Series": The Tour Gets A Name