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!