Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mark My Words!

There will be some sweet riding opportunities coming in the next several weeks for sure. Like a lot of warmish Sundays, or some Tuesdays with light fluffy snowfall, or maybe an old friend in town calling everyone out for a group ride. Gravel scraped down to a 3 foot wide dirt ribbon with copious amounts of fresh white snow on either side. You know, the kind of riding I would love to do:) But alas, I have had to submit to the blade of a surgeon, and have a rather nasty left arm at this time, so you know I'll have to miss something cool! It's only natural. Wasn't this going to be my first year to take both of my sons on BRR, without towing either in a Burley? Yes. Wasn't it the first year in many for that guy in Napier to offer a frame building class, on Sundays no less? Yes. Did I not get a fleece facemask, Louis Garneau Lavamits, a Surly hipflask and trimmings, and a 20 pack of Michelob for Christmas? Yes. Can I drink a couple of harmless beers while on Oxycodone? No:( Oh, you know it's going to be a good couple of months of riding for the rest of you, you're welcome! The down & dirty goes like this: nerve pinched in left forearm(Pronator Terres) in June. Dr. A says, "Go see Dr.B" who says, "Go see Dr.C" who says, "Give it 6 months, and stay off of your bikes, and we'll see." Flash forward 6 months, barely a tire turned by myself except for commuting every Monday and Thursday and the odd gravel ride or six, and still no improvement. Dr.C says, "Go see Dr.D" who says, "You need me to do surgery!" (wink, cheesy smile, light glistens off of his ultra-white teeth, and a "ping" to punctuate 'surgery') Surgery day after Christmas was for decompression of the Median Nerve, and since he was in there he relieved a bit of Carpal Tunnel! What a guy! "Needles to say" I'll be off the bike for awhile, and considering that feeling anything with my fingers will only come back at a rate of an inch per month from the middle of my arm, it will take about a year to know if it was even worth it. I shouldn't get too far down though. Remember, there are people in this world who are far worse-off than me. Like the people who don't know how cool biking is! HA! Later! P.S. Now I have a reason to buy some Ergon grips! Pics to follow after the wounds are unwound. Right now they're wrapped up "tighter than a gnats ass sitting on a lemon wedge!" and that's tight!CIAO!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

This Just In...

The latest issue of Bikerodnkustom is posted and looks like a lot of good stuff will be in it this time. I have been waiting for a new issue for a long time. Go check it out! Linked in my "Good Stuff" at right. A must read, the Amsterdam coverage. Those guys blur the line when it comes to "biker" images. Taking bicycles and mashing them up with motorcycle looks. All the way down to sleevless leather vests with custom insignias. I wonder what my "Gravelo" bad ass biker vest would look like? Gotta think of a secret biker handshake too! Hmm. Later! Travel Gravel!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Headset Press

Dwight, here is a photo of the headset press I was referring to. I would suggest that if you try this you should buy a bolt with a hex head on it, not a round headed bolt like the one here. That way you can get a wrench on top and bottom. If you start the headset cups nice and level they will press in no problem. Make sure that the washers are a much bigger diameter than the cups so that they seat the cups down with more equal force. I had to use two washers on each end as the big washers have a big hole in them, so I stepped up to them with a washer that has a hole closer in size to the diameter of the bolt. Does that make sense? It went together like this:


I'm sure you'll find more creative setups on the web, but this one is easy to do also. Good Luck! Later! Travel Gravel!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How Do I Copyright This?

I will never start a post about politics on this blog, and this one is really more about a creative idea that came to me today, so RELAX if you don't get it or like it. There will come a day when you hear someone else say the term, "Obamanomics" and you will remember that you saw it here before he was even elected! For better or for worse. Later!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fixed On Gravel Part 2

Rode the same 25 mile loop today on my Schwinn Sprint fixed gear. What a beautiful day to ride! Wind was just enough to give some cooling and a slight bit of resistance.

Fresh gravel was a bit of a mixed blessing. Fun to first-track a freshly maintained surface, but there is no hard packed line anywhere, so you're always searching for firm track.

I stopped for some water and the leaves from this tree were showering down like rain. Short Add Imagepost, more later! Travel Gravel!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fixed On Gravel

What a way to travel. Rode a 25 miler a couple of Sundays ago with my buddy Sam Adams from Boston;) Started out as a coolish overcast ride in a long sleeve jersey and shorts, finished out as a rained-on, grinning all the way fun ride. I'll have to ride the same route on my Schwinn Sprint, Bridgestone RB-3, Specialized Hardrock, Mitzutani Seraph, Performance, and GT Timberline to see which fixed I like best on the gravel(so far, more bikes are always on the horizon.) I had clips and straps with an old pair of Duegi shoes for a stiff platform, haven't made the trip on clipless yet. For anyone who knows or cares, my hand issue has not corrected itself since June so I am regretfully considering surgery before the end of the year. The hand thing hasn't kept me from riding for the hell of it, but I have only raced one time this year and that has been a drag. I thought I was going to get into cross racing this year:( Maybe next year. Mindless ramble over. Later! Travel Gravel!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sastre, I Knew It!!!!

Please see my post from July 28th. Never trust anyone with a professional racing license! Also, be on the lookout for an upcoming cartoon by yours truly, to be published in 'Toons. So Dark The Con Of Lance! Later!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Thursday, September 11, 2008

One Man's Group Is Another Man's Pain Cave

With all of the talk and pseudo-legislation about group rides and bans, I was wondering why we cyclists are letting these people define what a "group" is. Who are they to say? If 10 people leave a common point on bikes and spread out, it really ceases to be much of a group almost immediately. If someone is riding even 4 or 5 feet away from another cyclist, at their own pace, spinning or grinding, busting a nut (or labia) against a wind that won't stop, then that is a SOLO ride. Send that same group of 10 out for a ride and have them each record their experience. The recounting of the ten stories will be as unique as the author of each! That singular enjoyment of essentially the same thing is one of the reasons I love cycling so much. I do my thing, you do yours, and we'll still have the shared experience to draw us together. Simple, right? Later! Travel Gravel!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

OK, OK, I'll Play!

I was tagged last week by my fast and data-driven brother in law, Mike Johnson. Since I have no bike stories to post about, I guess I will play tag instead. So here ya go!
What Was I Doing 10 Years Ago? Working through my first couple of years of sales, foolishly thinking I would get back into teaching. ENJOYING being a Dad to Marshall, who was not quite two years old. Riding way more, on only one bike! A GT Avalanche with tons of purple ano parts!
5 Non-Biking To-Dos:
1. Finish trimming out bathroom window.
2. Clean garage.
3. Wash car.
4. Iron clothes for work.
5. Survive qualifying night for Modifieds at Super Nationals, Wednesday. BRRRRR!
Snacks I Enjoy:
Little Debbie Double Oatmeal Cream Pies, Beef Raman Noodles with Kikkoman Soysauce, Diet Coke, Nachos with sharp cheddar and hot sauce! anything else that happens to get in front of me. I am a total opportunistic eater! Food diary? How much time you got?
Things I would Do As A Billionaire:
Put a million in the bank and live off the interest, then get busy giving the rest away. Nobody needs that kind of money! Think of all the people you could help.
Places I have Lived: Boone, Iowa, U.S.A., North America, Western Hemisphere, 3rd Stone From The Sun, Milky Way, Infinity!
Jobs I Have Had:
Paperboy, Walking Beans, X-Ray Orderly, Ice Cream Server (Boyd's Dairy,) Furniture Delivery, Photo Copy Technician, Wal-Martian, Substitute Teacher, Salesman.
I will tag Paul Varnum! Just play along Tall Paul! Later!
P.S. I did ride today, for an hour, on gravel. Hand felt OK:)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Chi-town Hustle

Took a trip to Chicago last week to have some time with my family and act like we are hip metropolitan coolcats. At least that's my take on it. Mostly we went because it was the most interesting place we could find that was directly East of us. One year we went to Duluth (North) then we went to the Black Hills (West) then to Branson (South) so what else were we going to do? I felt like a kid whenever we got close to downtown. Kelli hated it because she is a lilly-livered scaredy cat, and mother. I just got such a rush from all of the traffic, people, buildings, buses, and BIKES!!!! I had a minute or twenty while we were waiting for the free trolley so I walked to a bike rack and shot some bikes that were locked up. This is just one rack mind you, in a city of about 3 million people? I saw a real side to biking that I had never had a chance to experience before. I had my notion of bike messengers turned on it's ass, and saw so many lines through traffic that I would have ridden with a huge goonlike grin on my mug all day long. I was shocked that almost all of the messengers I saw were riding with a freewheel/front brake setup. This blew me away because I have spent so much time looking at all of the bikes on fgg, (I have seen every one of them) that I foolishly bought all of the B.S. that the posters there put in their writeups! You guys are full of it if you think that your pretty little spotless fixies make you something of a street rider. Crazy! Pretty bikes are for pretty boys, and don't you look cute in your Army-surplus coat and cuffed capri girl-jeans. Wow, weird that all of the messengers didn't have any RayBan Huey Lewis-era shades on as they went about their workday! Not that I have to worry, nobody will ever mistake me for cool, so no biggie right?! It was cool though to be standing or walking along and see a set of bars coming up the street with no brake hoods, then check for a front brake, then try to make out the bike brand, and call out, "YO! Fixed or free?" and have them just look at me with a totally blank face. They're like, "What the F are you talking about?" It would be like me walking down the street with a carpet sample in my hand, and some soccer mom drives by, hoists her Starbucks cup that she refills with her own home-brewed coffee, and yells out the window of her Sedona, "Berber or Saxony?!" I don't think I would have the wits about me to respond. The sad thing is, there are people out there like that! Here are some of the bikes that I saw in one quick minute of geeking:

My best guess on this one is that it's a NYC Fixed of some kind. I say that for a couple of reasons. One, it has no graphics. Two, it has a one piece crank. And C, the seat post is just a pin. No head integrated into it. It has a clamp like a department store bike. Nice though, I'd take it.
Nice clean Steamroller.
Motobecane gettin' some love with the bullhorns, and check out the ghetto singlespeed! With plastic pie plate! Respect!
An older Miyata. Running the free side of a flipflop hub. I'd take this one too.
This old raleigh looks like it could be one of my bikes! Another ghetto singlespeed, coral colored 2.1 tires, and I know you saw the bars first! Not the most ergo lever setup, but undoubtedly a workman's bike. Guess whether I would take it or not.
Fuji Gran Tour running freewheel with full brakes. Spartan but comfy. Nice.

There were a few off-the-rack fixed/freewheel bikes locked up too. This Giant is the only one worth posting though. Love the geometry and proportions on it. Plus anything army green is cool. Among the other "bought bikes" were a Cannondale Capo, a Raleigh Rush Hour, and a Schwinn Madison. There was a metric crapload of old old Schwinns in the racks around town. Duh, it is Chicago after all. I felt like a person with hoarding tendencies when I had the anxious rush to want to save them all!

Another vacation where I find myself wishing to be on a bike, and having no bike at hand. When will I ever learn? I would love to go to Osceola with my bike and enough cash for a ticket to Union Station, take Amtrak into Chi-town, ride all damn day in the traffic, and just go nuckin' futs and have fun! It would be worth it. Bounce back here soon for my delusional fantasy post about what it would take to messenger in Des Moines for a day. Later! Travel Gravel!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Let Carlos Ride...

Just my personal feeling, but I don't think he's legit. Call me jaded, but I can't even watch some of these pro races anymore. I blame Lance for my scepticism. Call me two-faced too, because I loved the Pantani years like no other. Just when I thought Ricco was going to be cool:( Richard Virenque looked great while cheating, but needed a cape or something to really work it. Put together a WWF-type league for cycling and just be above the board about cheating. No teams, directors, etc. Just character names, sequined kit, knee-high boots, maybe a couple guys in masks? I want to see Robbie Ventura interviewing Hushovdt and get knocked out of the frame by a rampaging "Thor" who charges the camera and rips into a 3 minute tirade about his shot at the belt being undermined by "The Crusher"Cavendish, and Ventura comes back into frame with his hair all messed up and throws it to commercial, "...we'll be right back!" Then, predictably, they play that SAAB commercial again!!! Hell, you could get Bob Roll back into good enough shape for some of that action. Now that would be worth seeing! Later! Travel Gravel!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A2W Bridge Pic

Here is one conceptual image of the bridge for the trail from Ankeny to Woodward, or vice versa. It's going to be so cool! I want to try to ride a wheelie across this badboy! Oh yes, it will be done! Later!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


After talking myself down to one day of riding I eventually had a great time. I also figured out the best way of riding it all on gravel. The best way is to have all of your gear hauled for you and ride only with the bike, a camelback, and some cash. That's all you would need for an easily ridden week of gravel. So next year I will try to get a REAL RAGBRAI pass, have them haul a tent, etc. for me, and try to ride the route about a mile off!

I rode over to Jefferson via 230th (gravel) and was happy to have only taken about 2 hours exactly to get there. I put on a Bob Marley/Men at Work/Jack Johnson playlist and zoned out in the fog and dew. Just enough tack to the gravel to kick up some grit.

I rode out of Jefferson with my big brother Theron and a couple of his buddies. Since Theron was wearing Crocs and camo shorts I knew this was the slow crowd, so I just hung out. I rode no-handed to Grand Junction in an attempt to stay with them, but even that was too fast. So I waited at Ferg's for a stinkin' beer, and that took too long, so I bolted to Casey's, grabbed a couple of Powerades, a Coke, and some granola bars and split. A couple of people were looking at my Diamond Back poor man's 9er, trying to figure out what the hell it was. "How did you get the brakes to reach the rims?" one guy asked(thinking that it was a 26" frame with 29er wheels;) Makes some people scratch their heads to see it, and freaks people out when they hear it coming from behind them on pavement. A good choice of bikes for the trip.

Continuing North out of GJ I rode about a mile or so on pavement before peeling off and hitting some gravel for the rest of the trip to Ogden. Along the way I ran into Jason Parkin from KCCI Weather. I remembered seeing him at the 24 hour race last year (he was walking through the pits at about midnight with his camcorder) so I stopped to chat with him. He was telling me how cool he thought Banner Lakes is, and said he was weirded out at the 24 and didn't know how people do that kind of race. I said that beer helps and he should give it a try. I don't think he is interested. Jason, if you are reading, put up a 2 person co-ed team with Matinka! That could work!

I had a good ride, got in about 60 miles of gravel, 15 or so of pavement, and got home in time to go to a movie with my wife and kids. Next year I hope I can do more, even if it means a day or two of road bikes. Crazy huh? I have to admit, it would be fun to pass people all day. Later!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How Do These Things Happen?

It has to be a far out cosmic alignment for some things to happen the way they do. And it happened on Saturday, in Woodward Iowa. I had originally taken Saturday off to have travel time to the start of Ragbrai. I talked myself into bailing on Ragbrai until Tuesday's ride into Boone, but kept the Saturday off, thinking maybe I would do the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational. Nope, bailed on that too. Nobody I know was going, it was too far to drive alone, I really should have been working, etc. etc. So I had talked to Troy Tellinghuisen on Wednesday and he wanted to get a look at some of the shirt design ideas I had worked up for this year's 24. It was agreed that I could leave them in the mailbox at his house down by Woodward and he would pick them up on Sunday, then forward them to Kyle Sedore and Ron DeGeest for their input. Since I had snatched Saturday from the jaws of work I decided that I would ride to Troy's, drop off the hard copies of the artwork, and ride home, working in a stop in Woodward for some rest and relaxation. So there I am, having an apple and a Diet Rite in front of AJ's Grocery Store, in Woodward, on a rare and almost not a Saturday off, minding my own business, when Kyle and Ron drive right down main street! Luckily they looked over as I waved so they swung around and stopped. I explained that I was on a mission to deliver the artwork, "We'll just take that!" and they were off to do even more trailwork at Seven Oaks. Those guys deserve huge thanks from anybody who ever puts a tread on those trails. Like 'em or not (the trails that is;) Also on board was a very sasquatchian Taylor Webb and dog. Good work I'm sure. Thanks guys!

So I had time to check out the newest bike trail in Iowa. It will connect Woodward and Ankeny via an old rail corridor. From the looks of it this thing will be AWESOME! The concept drawing for the bridge over the Des Moines River is enough to get me chomping at the bit!

It will span this set of pillars on a 10 foot wide deck, and feature spiraling square I-beam boxes over the top. I will try to get an image of it and post it. Those are Purple Martins swarming around the hiway bridge in front of me. Cool to watch, and none of them crapped on me!

This is a section coming out of/going into Woodward. As I rode down this mile or so stretch there were two crows chasing an owl from tree to tree. They would fly 40 yards at a time, diving down on the owl. A puff of feathers would waft gently down after each volly. Again, cool to watch, and they didn't crap on me!

Coming back into Boone I took the hill that RAGBRAI riders will be cussing on Tuesday, only I rode the shoulder (to keep it a gravel affair.) At the top was none other than my DAD! working on repainting a sign that he maintains for the Lincoln Hiway Association. He's been plugging away at this damn thing for two weeks, working only in the cool part of the day and between re-hab and naps. Ahh, retirement. Someday! Later! Travel Gravel!

Me and my Pops!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Seven Oaks Sunday

Anybody want to ride down to the trail repair day on Sunday? I'm thinking of going up to 155th, through Fraser, then south to S.O. Reply if interested. Later!

Monday, July 7, 2008

29ers Roll Over Things Better

Things like Border Collies. I was riding Sunday and took a route I have only ridden a couple of times before. As I was riding down 170th I came to a place where there were two farms directly across from each other. I didn't remember there being any chasing dogs there from prior passings, but there he was...waiting for me. As I rolled along at about 17 mph or so I could tell from his tone that he would come out to at least chase beside me for a few hundred feet. Most dogs will take a shortcut through the ditch and pop up where they meet you at a pretty shallow angle, but not this guy. He came right out of the drive at a 90 degree angle and ran full speed at me! I didn't know if he would stop, so I maintained speed and cadence, and he just flat ran into me! I managed a lunge-wheelie and turned the bars to the right just enough to miss him with the front wheel, catch him mid-back with the chainrings (I was in my middle, so he probably got some 46 tooth sharkbite) and up over him with my back wheel. It sounded like this, "ROOF ROOF ROOF ROOF ROOF ROOF YIIIIIPE...ROOF!" Luckily I didn't lay it down or I would probably have been dead meat! From the dog or the "owner" either way. I'll have to go back and give him another chance to make friends some day. Good barrier-hopping training?Maybe. Later! Travel Gravel!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I Need Feedback

I need people to input their ideas and willingness to participate in something I dreamt up the other day. I rode on the protest ride last Tuesday from the statehouse to Adel. The ride was organized to give a voice to cyclists who are facing the potential loss of our rights to ride on county roads. Crawford County is against RAGBRAI in particular, and now Dallas county is trying to put their collective foot down on "organized rides" to limit the number of riders in a "group." You know, and I know, that this is B.S.!!!!! and I wanted to ride mostly in support of cyclists rights. This piece of legislation is written so poorly, and leaves the county in a postion to be sued anyways, that it can't possibly be written into law the way it stands. This is, however, the way our rights begin to slip away. Dallas County has their target number at 20 for a "group," and they have plenty of people riding their county roads and trails. But what about a less bike oriented county like Boone County. What if my county supervisors say, "We need to ban bicyclists from riding on our county roads because we know we don't maintain them well enough, but banning bikes is easier than fixing roads, so no more. All in favor...done!" Thank goodness enough people had the drive to stand up in Adel and say, "Excuse me...." Though I did not address the county cronies myself, many people did. Their passion for cycling was awesome, and inspiring too. So I wanted to find a way for myself to say, "Bikes Belong on Iowa Roads!" and came up with this idea. Every year there is a celebration in Boone called Pufferbilly Days. We have a huge parade, which anyone can enter free! I thought if I could get enough people to commit to riding their bikes in the parade, with signs or banners, etc. stating the simple message, "Bikes Belong On Iowa Roads" that we could raise the profile of cycling and have a few thousand people see that bikes are ridden by all kinds of people, on all types of road surfaces (not just pavement.) I'm sure that if we tossed out candy, or those Bike Iowa reflective key fobs, or even hand out the maps that show bike paths in the state, that we could do some good. If it isn't too weird we could even have memorials to people who have been hit and/or killed on our roadways. Hell, Boone county has had two in the last year or so, and one was a hit and run! F that! So what do you think? I would like to know who might be interested, what other ideas some of you might have, who can pull strings to get handout stuff, etc. I will base my next moves on the responses. My kids are super stoked on the idea, and I just think it is do-able. Please respond. Later! Travel Gravel!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Where Has YOUR Blog Been Seen?

A couple of weeks ago I rode down to the river to look at the flooding, and see what was to be seen. Hiway 30 was closed at the time, so I rode slowly and checked out the sights. Lots of litter in the ditches. Pretty ugly really. 65 mph is the best way to get across that! So it occured to me (since I happened to have a black marker in my camelback;) to write my blog address on a few spots that might be seen by other gawkers, and maybe they would surf over and check out a post or two. After all, I saw 6 other people on bikes and a dozen or so walking, so the people were out. I tagged a few blogspots on various places and rode back home. Wouldn't you know it, the next damn day they opened the road back up! Oh well, at least the next time (soon?) it floods someone might see my little vandalistic scrawlings. Just hope it's not some DOT employee! Later! Travel Gravel!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008


If the price of gas follows today's jump in the price of crude, I will be riding my bike to work for more than a week! That is if it ever quits raining at will. Below are the bikes I rode to work during the week so designated. I am lucky in the fact that I only have a two mile commute each way, which allows me to come home for lunch just about every day, so I get more opportunities to ride to and from. By the second day people were waiting to see what I would show up on, it was cool!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Crushed It Today

I took my sons down to Huxley today and we rode the bike path to Cambridge and back. It was a great day and I think I had more fun on this ride than I have for years. The reason I had such a great time is that I finally scored an adult trike for my oldest son, Marshall. Thanks to the awesome generosity of one of my longest running bike buddies, Mr. Terry Grimes (not the frame builder,) I was able to get a really nice trike for Marshall, for free! 26" wheels, kick and hand brakes, a basket, and a nice loud Sturmey-Archer hub. It ratchets while pedaling and freewheeling. The kid just can not get the whole balance thing on two wheels, so I put him on three. He loves to ride and has been begging to go on errand runs, around the block, to and from school, you name it he wants to ride to it! It has been really thrilling to see him discover the joy and simple fulfillment of riding a bike. Now if I can get him some confidence and move him to two wheels before he becomes complacent and wants to ride a trike all his life! In time.
You get a sense of the talent that went in to making this mural, as well as a sense of the size of it, if you look for my Bridgestone fixed gear in the corner of the picture. We gawked at this picture (looked as real as a picture) for 15 minutes. I was proud of Mitchell when he took his helmet off "for respect." He's 8! As we walked back to our bikes a roadie was riding up the street and I waved and said "Hey" just out of habit. He turned around and came back to us and it was none other than young Jeremy Venable! We chatted for a few minutes and then he had to ride on. He and his brother Paul are strong rider/racers. I never saw anyone bust up their equipment in racing as much as those two! Just out of strength, not crashing or anything. Just overpowering their gear. Must be nice to be young. Later!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Good Reason To Watch The Road

I always zone out when I'm on the gravel, looking this way and that, watching my front tire tread appear to be blurred and then blinking my eyes rapidly until it freeze frames the tread pattern, or just not knowing what I'm doing at all! Perhaps that's why a 3 hour ride feels like 20 minutes sometimes. I found a good reason to perfect my thousand yard stare on a recent ride however! This little gem was hiding at the bottom of two rollers on R Ave. It was only about 4 feet wide, but at 12 to 14 feet deep it would have been a real trick to get out of had I fallen in. I told you the frost boils would be man eaters this year! Later!

Friday, May 30, 2008

On The Cheap

I got so bored with riding that I found a different way to spend some time. I took an old clarinet case that I found at Goodwill for a buck, combined it with some foam that I scrounged from an old Sealy display at work, and the liner from the box of my new Light & Motion Stella R, and made a carrying case for my light. A light I have yet to put to a real test on the gravel I might add. Soon as it gets hot I'm sure I will take it out. 5 hour burn time on max should be a good time. Later!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Technically, I'm Not Dead

But you may have thought so. I have been in a serious low of all time as far as giving a rat's ass about biking, and I'm talking about a bike lover from the days of the 80s! Since Marty Wickman pulled up to the swimming pool on a '83 Schwinn Sierra and I jumped to my feet and "had to have one of those new kinds of bikes." That's a long time ago and many miles behind me. I have just not been crazy about the late winter/spring weather we all went through, nor have I had a chance to put a number plate on a bike and bust my ass against kids half my age. So it feels like something of a myth that I am even a bike rider at all. I made a commitment back in September to teach Sunday School with my wife, so I felt like I had to be there for that and ended up missing a bunch of chances, but I had a blast doing it, so I'm not using it as an excuse. There have been two times on my days off that I have somehow put on all of my riding clothes, cleared it in my head that I was going to go ride, and walked to the garage and couldn't get the nerve to pull a bike out and ride. So I would go back in the house, get dressed, and sit around and wait for school to get out so I could go get the boys. That's pretty sad. I think it was that damn April Fools post that did me in. Although I did actually ride out and stop for a beer, the words surrounding that were all intended to be in jest. I guess the joke was on this fool.

Luckily I pulled through and will probably ride Tuesday. I did watch Breaking Away a couple of more times, and it spawned an idea in my head. Why not do a smaller version of the Little 500? It would be a blast, and there is a perfect location right here in Boone. It is the 4H horse arena at the fairgrounds. This is a 260' X 140' arena with a dirt/pea gravel surface. Little to no horse droppings, and I'm sure nobody would care if we rode bikes around in it. A format something like this could be a great workout and would no doubt be FUN ON A BIKE!

Race 1: 2 Lap Time Trial, use best lap time for bracket seeding.

Race 2: Bracket Race, 2 riders at a time, 2 laps, winner moves to a new bracket.

Race 3: 2 Person Teams, 10 laps, 5 each with a handoff.

Race 4: 2 Person Teams, 50 laps, open format. Rider changes at will.

Race 5: Figure 8 throwdown, anything goes?

I have daydreamed about this for a long time and still think it would be a blast to do. No need for fancy bikes. Flat pedals would be best. I want to see skids like the one Moocher rips when he hands off to Cyril. That is some bike riding right there. He skids a 40 footer, stands up over the drive-side, dismounts, and gives a smooth handoff in one fluid motion! Cyril's handoff to Mike is less fluid. Here's a look at the grounds:
The little white building is a restroom, there is a metal roof over the poles to the right of that(read shade), and Regal Liquors is a four minute ride from here. Could be a fun way to spend a Sunday. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Finally Got Out

...and rode with some real people. People other than Bob Marley, Aldo Nova, and the guys from INXS (thanks to my mp3 player:) I read that someone, anyone, would be riding around Peterson's tonight, so I cut off "date night" and went over after work. I was happy to see Paul J. there and be able to start riding with someone for a change. I learned things about the trails around there that I never knew! There's a trail that links the South end of the west side to a gravel road? Who knew? Paul, that's who! Also, I may have known about some of the trails at Mcfarland, and may have forgotten about some of them, but it was fun to ride something that was virtually new. Free beer at Varnum's and B-Bops on the drive home couldn't have wrapped it up better. Even saw Alex out riding on trails! Rare in itself! Later!

Monday, March 31, 2008

With A Heavy Heart...

...I feel compelled to share some bad news. I was out riding on Sunday afternoon and came to a realization that made me stop, sit down in a ditch, and really examine what is going on in my life. I sat there and watched the wind blow through some tall grass, watching the way that the grass would bend when the wind blew hard, but not break off. It seemed to me that my life has become brittle and unlike the grass. I am no longer able to bend instead of break, and I think that the time and energy I have wasted on riding my "big boy bike" could have been better spent working harder, or planning for things that might pop up unexpectedly, or trying to correct any of my personality flaws which have kept people from liking me. You can never be too cautious these days, and I have better things to do than ride around empty headed just looking at grass and rocks. So, that being said, I am hanging up bike riding and the bike mania that I have spent so many years crafting. It's just not fun anymore. If you guys know of anyone who would benefit from a couple of free bikes, I will take a last weekend and distribute my 25+ bikes around to different people. Just check my comments section for more details as they become available. Thanks for reading, and might I say, I have enjoyed this post more than any of the posts I have put up since I started blogging. Thanks to all who have shared their "passion" for what they believe to be a wise use of their time. Goodbye.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Here's one of those bikes...

...that seems instantly do-able, you will want it instantly, and you'll dream about having one for years, and yet seems impossible at the same time. Damn I hate that feeling! It's the Amazon Blonde by Blonde Fabrications! 36" of hard spankin' goodness. Do Not go there if you're weak about wanting things you'll never get to own! I saw it at Later! Travel Gravel!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Frost Boil Forecast

I was working in our outlet store Friday morning, nothing going on, when a guy pulls into the lot in an Aliant Energy truck. He came in and we started talking about the gravel roads. I asked him if he had seen anything getting ugly yet. He said that it was still dry, but that he was sure it would get ugly when the frost lets out. Normally, according to his experience, the dry winters let the frost get down into the ground further. He said 3 feet is about normal, but that he has dug down and hit frost as far as 6 feet this year (excessively deep.) His thinking was, even though this was a wet winter, that once the frost lets out and the frost boils set in that they will be nasty-deep! These guys generally know what they're talking about, I should know. My Grandpa "Cy" Mc Quillen was a lineman for Iowa Electric for 47 years, and told me many stories about his career in the outdoors. 47 years, that's from High School graduation to retirement, working every day in all kinds of weather! 47 years of snow, cold, ice, heat, wind, etc. I have enormous respect for the memories I have of him. Add to these factors the jobs of father, husband, and fire chief and you have one hell of a man. He told me a story once of how they used to put up power poles by hand! He was in the last days of "good" memories and remembered all kinds of details. How they dug the holes, hitched up horses, and blocks and pulleys, the whole thing. He even remembered names like "Red" and "Shorty" and guys he worked with. Sometimes when I'm out riding I'll look at a couple of miles of poles and think about his stories, and imagine the personal strength and drive it would take to raise them. Respect! Ever think about how many power/phone poles there are in this state? County? Your town? I wonder if the power companies even know. Do they number them?
I went out today and rode R Ave. to 150th, then turned for the hills of Fraser. I hit the bottom of the Devil's Backbone and could see that the river was up over the road, so I decided to hit up the Y Camp hill. Always a good time, right? Wrong! The county has dropped white rock on the top third of it and made it simply impossible to ride. These rocks are about the size of orange wedges, and 2 or 3 inches deep. I had to walk the last 100 feet. I was riding with the Budweiser twins (they're tall boys!) so I decided to stop at the top of the hill and consult with them. They were motivating enough to get me the rest of the way home. No problems with frost boils anywhere yet, but I predict a lot of misery coming our way this spring once they open up. Later! Travel Gravel!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Shortest Post Yet?

I rode the bike I call "Buffalo Soldier" down to Kum n Go tonight to pick up a DSM paper. On the way there I was singing the song of the same name. When I walked in that same song was playing on the boombox of the Goth-girl working there. Crazy. Bob is everywhere. Later! Travel Gravel!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

$6.97 Experiment

That's what I ended up putting into this contraption. I built it up for the fun of it, without a plan really. It's more fun to have a shell of an idea, a basic understanding, and just dive into it. Thanks to Varnum for his input on the centering of the rollers (28cm/83.2cm) and to Goodwill for selling used Rollerblades for $5.00, and to the Chinese for crating their furniture in solid lumber (usually better wood than the furniture inside of the crate) and to the guys in our shop at Redeker's for their tech support and just letting me use the tools and shutting up about how crazy I must be! They know...

Each roller is a pair of Rollerblade wheels screwed into the ends of a 12" piece of 3"i.d. PVC. I used washers as spacers because the wheels are only 77mm, short of the 3" inside diameter.

The two forward rollers have a granny gear bolted to a wooden spacer, which is then screwed into the solid center of the Rollerblade wheel. Added some Delrin spacers to take out the side to side slack and equalize the pressure.

Slipped the chain around the granny gears and DAMN! there's too much slack. Can't take out a complete link, so I fabbed up a chainwheel roller. Adjustable if I ever run a smaller wheel on it. Actually, there is enough off-center in the way I drilled out the wooden adapter for the grannys (like an ENO hub, kinda) that I could play around and probably get the chain tension to work, but I wanted to ride it soon, so I just did a stop-gap fix for now.

I "rode" it in my basement today and I don't know, it's pretty squirrely on this thing! I was not able to master it yet, but it works if I have something to hold myself up! I consider myself better than average in bike handling skills, and slippery mud/ice is no problem, but this is wild! I'll have to take it outside and learn to ride it where I won't brain myself on a water heater or stairwell stringer if I fall. Besides, my wife will kill me if I die in the basement!? If I master it, I will take it all apart and stain it up. Then hang it on a peg and forget about it! My next project is a replica of an 80's era "brick" cell phone shell that I can slide my Motorola into and take "Retro" to a new level (lower, but new) Later! Travel Gravel!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gotta Brag A Little

I am going to do something that I rarely ever do... BRAG. I am lucky to have been blessed with two of the nicest children ever (I know...) and my now 11 year old son has done something wonderful, again. Last year, as a 4th grader, he wrote an essay as part of the local V.F.W. Ladies Auxiliary writing contest. The kids were given a theme to consider, and then had to write an essay without any help from their teacher. The following is my son's entry from last year, which won at the county and district levels, and was placed second in the state. I have copied it as he published it, with his grammar, spelling, and structure:

What The Flag Means To Me
The flag means honor, dignity, and pride that's what the flag means to me. Thoughs three things. Honor is knowing that we are free, united, and can't be broken but bent.
Dignity is knowing that we can help other countries and not just our own.
Pride is the most important. It is knowing that the flag stands for our proud country and the men and women in Iraq. And all the good decisions that are made for the country and our rights.
God bless America the country of the free!
Pretty cool considering that it came from the heart of a ten year old! He was asked to read it at the monthly meeting at the post and brought tears to the eyes of grown men! This year he entered again, and won again:) He is so modest about it too. He encouraged six other classmates to enter too. As the awards for third and second were given out, and Marshall was still not named, he shook the hands of the other kids and told them he hoped one of them was the winner. Then they called his name and he flipped out! I must have given him the old "flip the switch" gene. Here is his entry from this year's contest:
What Loyalty Means To Me
Loyalty goes like this to me: It's just plain old loyalty. Like going to school and putting that hand on your heart and thinking...standing there and thinking of all the things America has done for us, and sticking to it, watching the news and seeing Iraq harming people and killing America's troops, but not giving up on America knowing that we are strong and can overcome the obstacles we face.
Loyalty is the key to victory!
Pretty cool I think. A bit of a run-on sentence, and a little Republican slant to both, but damn impressive. I think it was a T-shirt slogan that said it best, "It ain't bragging if you can back it up!" Later! Travel Gravel!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Is anybody out there planning to ride BRR this weekend? I am torn because I have the time off, but feel like I need to work anyways. What is wrong with this picture? It is going to be a nice day, probably in the twenties at 10:00, and thirty or so on the ride back. It would be a first for me to do it all on gravel. Maybe that would be good. So, anybody in?

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's Gonna Be Sweet

If you are reading this from under a rock then consider it a favor. If you have been around any family or friends today, then you have already fielded the question multiple times. "Have you seen the overnight towns for RAGBRAI?" I must have heard that 20 times today. I replied the same each time, "That's where we'll end up, what happens in between is anybody's guess." In case you are the person under a rock, here is the rundown.
Overnight towns:
Missouri Valley
North Liberty
Le Claire

The rest is elementary. Start the day in the host town, promptly find the first gravel road out of town, and follow it until you feel like turning. Spot a town on the horizon (church steeples and H2O towers are the easiest to see) and head for it to re-fuel. Repeat until you find the next host town. Set up camp somewhere, find a shower, eat. Repeat daily.
I have for sure the first 4 days clear, and may be able to slide into the remaining days if fate will allow. I am taking Paul J.'s advice from my attempt last year and finding someone else to haul my gear. I could do any of the following. Enter to have Reggie haul my stuff for a price:( or strike a deal with a shop that is on the route to haul it:) Or convince someone to ride with me and hope that one of their wives will find it enjoyable to set up camp and wait around for the guys to make it in?
Anybody like the sounds of riding primo Iowa gravel, away from the crowds, not once hearing about where Lancy Pants is, doing your own thing and bucking the status quo, riding Dirty RAGBRAI before the hipster-kids figure out that this is the way to do it, and telling the stories years ahead of them? Wanna ride through Templeton and stop for shots at the distillery? Wanna ride your bike where it is possible that no other bike has EVER laid tread? Lewis and Clark can kiss my ass! No map quest sheets, just turn where it feels right, spot some trees in the distance and hope for hills! Ride no-handed for a few miles! Get chased by farm dogs! Hope not to see nude hog farmers! Stop and ask strangers for water and see their faces when you explain that you have brought RAGBRAI to them! They will give you the shirt off their backs. That's the kind of people you'll find out there. Car Up? More like John Deere up!
Count on sufferage, but embrace it, you'll be making RAGBRAI history! Later! Travel Gravel!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fresh POWDER + Repaired Skibike =

First tracking the big sledding hill in our local park! I knew when I pulled up to the parking lot that I would be there all day. But knew also that I had to leave in time to get the boys from school, and with a 2 hour delay this morning, time was burning. I hiked to the top (pushing the bike is easier than carrying, ski bike or not) and carved down the face about a dozen times. Then some high school aged guys came along and wanted to try the ski bike, so I let them take a few runs each. Looks like they'll be trying to make one soon too! Soon I would have to go to pick up the boys, so I went over to the chute that I have ridden previously and ravaged it a few times. It was so icy getting back up this area though, that I soon said, "Enough for one day." I must be getting tougher in my old age because I swear that I had no idea that it was that cold out today. No idea! I think we made it to 8 degrees. I also rode to Hy-Vee for a few things Kelli needed just a half hour ago, and felt no misery. Maybe I have finally learned to ignore the cold? I consider it training for my dream job, U.S. Postal Carrier! I'm serious, one call from the HR people and I'm so gone my current employer will have to call my wife to find out what ever happened to me. The current housing slump has slowed furniture sales to a crawl at best. Throw in the "R" word that all the news outlets are batting about, add a pinch of $3.00 gas, and voila! You ain't got squat! Give me a job where I go in, prep my route, walk all day in the fresh air while making decent bank, and go home at the end of the day without a care, and you will have given me the world! Too bad there's a hiring freeze right now, but I'm still in the hiring pool.
On the bike front, I am still hoping to buy some Alien fixed wheels soon. I have so many bikes I can put them on it's just plain silly. These wheels are completely blacked out, single sided threading, and deep profile. Love at first sight. I'll add a dozen or more bikes to FGG by myself. Speaking of FGG, Dennis is closing in on 7,000 bikes posted to the site! WOW! I'm lucky to have discovered it at about #56, so I have seen every one of the bikes over the last few years.
Roller project is coming together pretty well I think. One of the guys in our repair shop gave me 6 sealed cartridge bearings that he had from some glider rockers, so my $ total will drop from about $30.00 to about $5.00! Score! Can't decide if I should go for the rails in solid Asian Pine with heart grain, or plywood turned on edge to show the layers. I think the plywood for the defined lines, plus it's probably stronger when stood on edge. Additionally, I will have to press the bearings into the wood rails, so plywood makes the most sense to me. I hope I have enough old chain around to run the front and middle rollers around some 32 tooth chain wheels. Making it a fixed gear roller set? I will probably die trying to ride them, but then, I have survived so far on the ski bike, and everyone thought I was a goner for sure! Later!
No "Bike Of The Week" lately because my super efficient wife took all of our pics off the hard drive and put them on disc! It may be a while before I find the damn disc! ARG!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Need Someone's Help

I had a crazy revelation today while standing in the plumbing aisle at Ace Hardware. With about $30.00 in materials I can make a set of rollers with some pvc, basic plumbing fixtures, and scrap wood. What I need is the center to center measurements of the roller axles. In millimeters please:) I know the front needs to be adjustable for different bikes, that's what drills are for! This will be easily do-able. Chain drive between the rollers. Varished wood. Bubble level. Maybe a brass accent or two? You'll see it in all of it's glory as soon as I get it done. Later! Travel Gravel!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'll Say It Too...

I had a blast riding with you guys today, especially after we made it to Varnum's! Thanks, Paul, for the hospitality! And please thank Christy for the snacks! I could have hung out and listened to stories all day. I wish Andrew and Chris all the best as they move along their respective paths. And remember Andrew, I want to see that Surly flask on your blog, pictured atop some big ass mountains! Later! Travel Gravel!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Flip The Switch

Not too much riding of late except for errands around town or an occasional ride to prison. Did I say prison, I meant work. I have been bringing bikes to my basement one at a time for inspection/parts swaps, so I am using my time wisely I hope. Also, I scoured freecycle for new skis for my snowbike, but came up empty handed, so I cut out the broken section on the rear ski and grafted it back together. Should hold for a few runs if I don't grab air! But now I have goggles (Smiths - Thanks Mike & Amy!!!) so I have to get rad and sick on the slopes!
I was driving to Ogden today on "Old 30" and right when I got to the top of the big hill going down to the river I caught a look at the slopes of 7 Oaks, framed in the "V" of the river valley, and realized that it moved something in me. Like a flash point. It triggered that little voice in me that says' "Go time!" when I am driving there for a race. That little jump you get in your manparts, the rush of energy throughout your body! Palms sweating and pulse climbing. Wear your HRM TO the race some time and check it out. It made me think of all of the places that I have raced over the years and what other flash points there are out there. Some of these include:
Decorah - I always come in from the West on Hwy 9, and I'm fine the whole trip until I get to the top of the hill that drops down to the four way stop. Then it hits me, and a surge just shoots up my spine! Go Time!
Iowa City - The long white fences around the horse pasture, North Liberty I believe, and BAM! Go Time!
Fort Dodge - Top of the hill by the hospital, Go Time!
DSM - Top of Euclid, westbound down the hill, Go Time! Probably not a lot of races to run there in the future, but always will be a flash point.
Webster City - Going to Kendall Young and you drive under that first railroad bridge. Go time!
Galena - Going back a few years here, but having raced the Cactus Cup twice and Chestnut Mountain Classic, I made enough trips there to know that every time I saw the sign for Fried Green Tomatoes Restaurant it was Go Time!
Millville Minnesota - Coors Light Classic. Another old race that I ran 3 or 4 times back in the day. Always a quiet ride up, but once the road started to drop out from under you in Wabasha County, it was all over but the crying! Go Time! 4+1/2 hour mud race!
There are probably more that I could name but you get the point. Welch Village, raced it twice but was lost both times so no real landmarks. Volga's Vengeance, awesome but only raced it twice (one of which was my first race ever!) Also, there are races I have never done that would surely have a flash point. Sylvan Island, Sockum Ridge, Trans-Iowa! There are many miles to go before I can rest.
I don't know much about sports psychology, but I would wager that this has something to do with the fight/flight thing. Some guys are pumped up for a week before a race, I wait until 3 miles out to get psyched?! Maybe it's the procrastinator in me( I put the "pro" in procrastinator), or denial, who knows. If you have a similar flash point please leave a comment, however long. I would be interested to hear from others. Later!