Wednesday, December 18, 2013

So Proud

I feel so happy today that it is difficult to put into words, but here are a few. One of my incredible sons, Marshall, joined the Iowa National Guard today. This has been a dream of his since he was in fifth grade. He wrote an essay about the value of American Veterans and poured his heart into it that year in Mr Gard's classroom. We didn't realize what had been awakened in his heart and soul then, but we saw it in its glory today as he took the oath and joined the Guard. Here is a kid who has backed up all of his plans and took the steps he needed to take to see them to reality. He has been lifting weights and running since 9th grade to ensure that he could get in as soon as possible and continue his chosen path. He has kept up outstanding grades, kept his faith in God, and made his family so proud of him! So today, with our support and a healthy bit of  hurry up and wait, he smashed a 92 on his ASVAB test and gained a position in the 186th Military Police Unit of the Iowa National Guard. And may I mention that his 17th birthday was yesterday, now that's an awesome kicker! SO PROUD!!!! Later!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Frosted Donuts

Anyone who knows me knows my penchant for junk food. It seems that I eat all of the time! If there was any justice in the world I would weigh 300 pounds, and my wife would cook all kinds of delicious, wholesome food. Thank heavens for small miracles!
It was a blessing when I heard that there was going to be a Dunkin Donuts opening in Ames. The rumors and speculation started swirling around about two and a half years ago, then an official announcement, opening date, and actual OPENING! I thought I would be there all of the time. Every day off (Tuesdays) and any chance to "happen to be going past there" would be a great reason to indulge in their particular brand of magic. It's a nice 20 mile ride each way, and about 75% gravel, so I thought I would be there frequently, but have actually only been in 3 times.
Today, however, I had some donuts in Ames, riding my bike the whole time, and didn't injest a single calorie! I rode my Ralph fat bike down Squaw Creek, and the 1/2 inch of snow we received Monday morning had created the perfect storm of ice and traction. This creek is dry as a bone right now, with the exception of a few pockets of water that naturally stay in any water way. At the confluence of the Squaw and the Skunk River, however, there is a small body of water that still flows. This has mostly turned to ice with a little snow on top. In a five mile stretch of creek I came across this 30 X 50 foot area that looked perfect, so I made my own donuts! You have no idea, unless you have turned donuts for yourself, just how much fun this is! Just stand on the pedals, weight the front wheel with about 70% of your weight, and start the rear wheel spinning. The trick, besides the balance part, is when the donut is half turned and the front wheel wants to flop in the other direction. You have to keep the counter steering locked and pedal through this part, but the front wheel wants to pop and slide out from under you. If you look carefully at the dark tracks (Rear wheel) you can see where I had one almost turned and then swung around at the moment of truth and started turning one in the opposite direction! It was so much silly fun I couldn't stand it! I crashed a few times and lay there laughing at the whole crazy thing. A guy in a garbage truck was driving over the bridge near bye and honked in approval. Or maybe he just likes donuts. Later!

                                                     Straight line donuts, "Long Johns"

                                              Donuts with sprinkles, "Frosted Donuts"

                                        The tires even look like donuts. Ralph loves 'em!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Lower 48

A few weeks ago I went out on a Tuesday and rode my birthday ride. That's 48 miles for 48 years. I decided to go for the end of my absolute favorite trail, The Heart of Iowa Nature Trail. To ensure my mileage would be accurate, I used G-maps Pedometer to back track 24 miles from Rhodes (the Eastern trail head) to a starting point. That left me with a start right on the edge of Huxley, and a super easy access point. It was a great day for a ride, as they all are, and this one did not disappoint. I had never been to Rhodes Iowa until that day. A charming small town, with two bars, a service station, a post office, and a Vietnam-era M48 Tank!!!!! Here are a few images from the day.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

These Go To Eleven!

I don't know why, but I am desperate to own one of these! Imagine the gravel you could destroy on a three wheel gravel crusher! Talk about a frame bag makers delight (AMY.) You could stash bags all over the place on one of these things. And if a person rode, say, until they fell asleep on their bike (Mike!) there would be no problem with falling off. You wouldn't even have to take the rear wheels off to fix a flat or change tires. Now that would be worth the price of admission. Fenders, well they're just cool on a road-type bike, 3 fenders... "Well, it's one louder, isn't it?"
Imagine the power slides. Positrac! Roost! Full Pull! "So much power, the ground's already shakin'!" Later!

Story County Scramble

Tuesday, I broke from tradition, and did a non-gravel ride. At the recommendation of my good friend Terry Grimes I went to Story City and rode the Greenbelt Trail down to Peterson's Pits (gravel pits, does that count as a gravel ride anyways then?) Never having been on the trail I didn't know what to expect, other than the fun and rolling trail that was described to me. Right away I picked up on a tire track that looked really fresh. It looked like an out and back set, as there were two of the same tread, almost on top of each other. I thought that I might run into Paul Varnum out there. He lives at the mid-point of this trail, but I did not see anyone else out there. This trail was a blast to ride since it is almost all flat, but with a few very minor climbs thrown in. Also, the surface ranges from black dirt, to grass, to silty powder, to deep sand. Who ever said that a Mongoose Beast is not a good trail riding bike must have their trail chosen wrong. There are right bikes for certain trail types, and this pairing was a great choice. I could spin out on some parts, and have just enough grunt to ride all but one climb. I'm not too proud to walk a climb! The whole trail is in a shallow river valley, and is dotted with some wooden bridges. Many times I have seen this woodland from the interstate and always wanted to ride it, and the gravel that snakes along side it. Now I can say that I have done just so. I rode gravel all the way back, just to get some balance for the day, and to preserve the reverse ride on the Greenbelt Trail for another time, on another bike. Later!

           Slowly returning to the earth. Nice patina on this, I guess 50+ years in the woods will do that.

          There is a glint of hope for a nice Autumn color show this year. It's underway!

     This lady, Fanny Carr, died on the same day as the date I took this picture, only in 1868.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Street Life

I had a bit of fun on Sunday at the DSMove street party, in the Drake neighborhood. They shut down University for about 13 blocks to have a giant block party. Among the activities were chances to ride "The World's Largest Bike" a 21 seater!

This thing was a beast. It has a differential from a car, a drive shaft, and 21matching seats, bars, stems, cranksets, and ding bells! It took 7 guys to push it back and forth to turn it around. It is a crazy contraption, that's for sure.

Also on the agenda was a show and shine (or don't) bike show, sponsored loosely by Ichi Bike, Dan Koenig and friends. There were some majorly sweet bikes sitting around. Black rims everywhere (the standard of cool), and these guys like their Sturmey-Archer hubs for sure too, as they were on most of the cruiser bikes and a Schwinn Scrambler too. I perved on the bikes for a while and then had to jet to get back home. I rode my lowered Schwinn and got a lot of positive comments on it. A few guys were trying to figure out how I had the front end assembled. It's not too hard to figure out after looking for a few minutes, but at first it is a head scratcher. Here are a few pics from the event.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dragoon Trail Romp

Today was a rainy day here. Not that you would hear anyone complain about that, as dry as we have been. Being that I had the day off I came up with an idea to spend some bike time, and do a good deed, at the same time. You see, each year there is an event here called The Dragoon River Romp. It is a day where some cool and concerned individuals work up and down the river, and pick up any and all garbage that other, free minded individuals are too lazy to dispose of properly. Cans, bottles, tires, freezers, -no kidding -CARS!!! This is a very cool concept, but they only do it for one day, and it's always on a Saturday, which is a day I take off only twice a year. The thought occurred to me to ride the High Trestle Trail with a garbage bag in hand and stop to pick up any garbage that I could see from the trail. I figure I could still contribute something, and this trail is too cool to be a littered up mess.
 Now I had a size minimum. I wasn't going to stop for cigarette butts (probably the most commonly littered item world wide) or gum wrappers. That's just too much on and off for me. So I set off to ride from Madrid to Woodward, stopping to pick up after the people who are too short sighted to do so for themselves and others. I found mostly plastic containers and wrappers, lots of beer cans, and some glass bottles. Styrofoam is also a common litter item, and there was plenty of it to be seen too. It worked out great to arrive at the trail head in Woodward, since there is a handy-dandy recycling center there. I simply rolled up, sorted the glass, plastic, and metal, and threw the rest in the garbage can. Turned around and rode back to Madrid while enjoying the newly improved scenery. Now this is an idea that I could easily expand upon. Like possibly combining this frame of mind with the concept of a Casey's Crawl? Ride from Woodward to, say Huxley, and pick up litter along the way. Dispose of the junk at each Casey's, grab some refreshments, and ride on. Could be fun I suppose. Must remember to ride a bike with a kickstand next time! Later!

Now that the trail has started to mature as a system it is cool to see what people want to do with it. This bench and deck was integrated into an old rail road signal station. The plaque on it says it is In Loving Memory of Ruth Ramsey. It also had this cool old concrete pole, with a small geocacheing capsule attached to it. I signed in and left my blog address. ("Hi" to you if you're here after seeing it.) 

Also, I found five small trees along the side of the trail that were unusual to me. They were only about four inches in diameter at their bases, and had these fruits hanging on the branches. The fruits look like plums inside, and have a pit too. Not sure what they are, but it was interesting.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Check Please...

Well, another Tuesday ride. Kids back in school, wife at work all day. Schedule open, might as well check another item off my 2013 Wish List.So I set off for my departure spot on the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail and aimed my counterfeit Fat Ralph for Hoy Bridge! I had to have it!!! I cannot recall how it was that I even came to know about this bridge. I suppose that I saw a picture of it on Google images. That seems to be where I learn everything these days, Google images. I'm such a basal level learner. "Me see picture, me like picture, me learn what picture mean." There should be a school curriculum based on Google learning. Home schooled, that would be easy. Anyway, back to the bike stuff. So I had a customer a few weeks ago who lives in Cambridge, a pass through town for the trail, and I asked her and her husband if they knew anything about Hoy Bridge. Stacie Link said that her parents lived a few miles from it, and she gave me some detailed directions about how to find the trail head to get to it. (Also, talked to her husband, Carl, about my Mongoose Beast and wouldn't you know, he went and ordered a green one. Good on ya, Carl!)
So the dusty trail is not continuous between the towns of Collins and Rhodes, and I had to ride about 2 miles of blacktop to get to the continuation of the trail that would eventually get me to Hoy. The day was perfect for riding a fat bike on a crushed rock trail. Plumes of dust followed me in the windless air. Silty, glorious dust peeled off of the tires and coated my legs, and the frame, and the wheels, etc with a fine coating. (Actually provides some sun block I believe..) Non-stop to the trail's continuation and I could feel that I was on the verge of discovery. Exploration, such as it is in today's society, is still alive if you go out and throw a little something at it! Cruising through this more rustic part of the trail was fun. There is more grass than gravel. It got real quiet as a result, and I could hear one of the most elusive sounds of all. Nothing. Not the same as not hearing anything, mind you. Later!
                                  Iowa: It's a magical land where vintage Volvos spit out fatbikes!
                                                         Faked out Nukeproof fat hubs.
One large arch and some vertical supports would have done, but this is a study in concrete form and function. A real cool old gem in the midst of the Iowa wilds. The bridge that is, not me!!!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Teaser Shot

I finally have my Mongoose Beast pretty much done. It will need graphics yet, and the brake lever will do something, but it is mostly done. I am completely happy with the entire bike and what I have done with it. I took it out twice last week for a couple of 25 - 30 mile gravel shakedown runs, and I was laughing and smiling the entire time. I don't remember being this happy about a bike in a very long time!
I want to do a graphic set for a counterfeit Ralph frame. Basing it on a Ralph t-shirt that I scored at our local Salvation Army store.(There is an entire post worth of story about Ralph Cycles, later...) But then today I had the idea of doing a Nuke Proof graphic. Tough choice, maybe I will do one for a year, and then do the other. Neither Ralph nor Nuke Proof ever thought of doing a fat bike, so it would be cool to have one of each.
Also, this tease shot is on the day prior to me trying for a couple more of my "Wish List" items for the year, a 12 hour gravel solo, and meteor shower viewing. (BTW, I didn't post about it, but I did Iowa Games gravel in July, substituting it for Guitar Ted's Death ride Iowa. Third in my age group, fifth O/A)) I'm calling it U.S.A.G.E., or Un-witnessed Solo All Gravel Enduro. The weather tonight is not cooperating for Perseid viewing, although the lightning show is a fair substitute. Monday night into Tuesday morning I am riding gravel for 12 hours. Because I can. Because I want to. Because the Beast is so much fun. Because the Perseids are supposed to be brilliant this year. So I will lay out a good 6 mile loop with a lot of treeless expansive views, and ride myself silly from 9pm until 9am. I will park my car out there on the route so that I have a base camp. Should be fun!!!!! Later!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Only In Iowa, But In MAY???!!!

Only in Iowa could you get a sunburn on a Tuesday ride, and tweak your back shoveling a half foot of snow on Thursday, in the same week! Enough, OK? And I hate to think what this would have done to Trans Iowa if the ride was this coming weekend, after all of this snow.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Beast Dreams

Soon, I may have a Mongoose Beast in my hot little hands, and I have a few ideas of what mods would be good for it. In no particular order, and not limited to...
1. Trim the roundish dropouts to straight, flat lines.
2.Add a brace at the seat post/top tube.
3.Drill and paint the rims. Guess what color. Black, the standard of all cool rims.
4.Add front brakes with half sleeved posts from a donor mtb fork.
5. Roll the seat post back for some cockpit room.

My neighbor has a welder and is experienced, so 2 and 4 should be easily accomplished. Payment in beer. Number 5 is going to a guy at work who races stock cars and has a tube bender. He'll do it for the heck of it. (Not as much as this picture shows, maybe 10 degrees) And since there may be some welding scars, I might as well consider a paint job. The site owner at painted his with red primer and I must say, it looks awesome. Let's see, what else.....

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chewing The Fat

After lusting silently for months over different fat bikes, seeing people posting about how much fun they're having, and generally killing myself for looking at something I cannot have, I just gave up on the idea of having one. I stopped at a point where a Surly Pugsley, yellow, would have been my ideal fat bike. Utilitarian, not too flashy, and capable. Just too expensive. After all, we have $10,000 out of pocket in braces on our oldest son, cars from the 80s and 90s, and you know trouble comes in threes!
I looked at many ways to try to make my own fatty. After all, when I wanted a single speed mountain bike I just took the derailleurs off, ghetto styled the chain on the cog set, and went out riding. SS for free! Fixed bug bit me and I got a set of wheels modified at Bike World Ames (The Store That Supports The Sport) and stripped down an old road frame. Bam! Fixed Gear. Now I have about 10 frames that share that one set of wheels. That's 10 bikes for about 40 bucks in parts and labor. And I ride them all, on gravel, at all times of the day and night. Started looking at Rat Rod style bikes. Hmm, now that speaks to me. Rusty is trusty. So I started fiddling with ways to make a cruiser frame sit real low and look Gnarly. I think I succeeded there, on four frames, each with their own wheel set. Mostly free since people love to give bikes to me. I think that out of about 8 or 10 ratty bikes I may have paid $1.00 for one of them. Now a fat bike, that has some serious tripping points for a shade tree mechanic like me. Bottom bracket width, tire clearance, chainline, wide rims.....on and on. I gave up on the idea, but not without much thought. Are there really any wasted thoughts about bikes and biking? No there are not. I even left a fat bike off of my 2013 wish list! I wasted a whole year of being "nice" since Santa didn't see fit to leave me one, so what am I to do? I did get a taste of what fat biking would be like. I have some 29er tires that I ride a lot, and got to ride the river several times over the winter with these tires. They're 2.3 width and when aired down to about 35 pounds they walk over and through a lot of snow. That was fun, so I guess I can't cry too much.
So one day I went on to look at cheap suspension bikes. I am going to make a cargo bike using a swing arm triangle from a cheap bike, and needed  to look at styles and attachment points. Well what, to my shock, was on there but a Mongoose Beast fat bike. For $200.00!!!!! OMG! I immediately loved it and wanted a green one. Looking around the innerwebs I found forums that I had been reading had picked up on this bike immediately. Bashers were the loudest voices on most of what I read. But aren't the biggest mouths always on the worst people? Yes. Seems that some people cannot "get" a $200 bike from Wal Mart. Some others can. Ah, the very nature of a forum, right? I was looking for people who had started to tweak these bikes and found a few good looking mods. had drilled rims in the first few days. site owner had his unboxed and rolling in no time. Bighit had a leather saddle, stem adapter,
and flat bar before you could say "Walgoose!" Reminds me of the USCellular commercial where the guy is fiddling with about five old cell phones, taped together, and gets the skunk eye from his wife, "I'm a man honey. You married a man." But it was the author of the thread "Pet My Beast," at forums, who really nailed it. A seriously cool bike for, well, for any amount of money. Forget me trying to explain all of the views on the forums. If you're the type who has ever read a forum on bike lust, you know. This guy got it right.
So it is within reason that I might get one of these bikes. For fun. For cheap. I have piles of parts from which to draw inspiration. Pieces to make the fit work. About a hundred paint schemes I would love to try. And miles left in my legs to ride it out. One problem, they're sold out. Waaaa waaaa....Later!

Monday, April 1, 2013


Just when I thought I couldn't stand pro cyclist Peter Sagan, like at all, he may have redeemed himself.. What could I have against him, you might ask? How about the white socks, gross. How about the quirky victory salutes, putrid.The fact that he sat, all day, on second wheel, behind the yellow jersey, then swung around at 200 meters for the day's win, classic punk ass move. And the fact that he's young...shut it!!! (Actually, I find myself enjoying middle age for one distinct quality. I am young enough to be leery of old people, but old enough to distrust young people. Life is good.) So what has Sagan done to gain favor in my eyes.....? Check it

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Silence of the Pandas

A few years ago I posted that I really hated bamboo bicycles. In fact, the thing I dislike about them is the sometimes clunky look of the lug/boo junctions. Then at NAHBS there was an explosion of bamboo bicycles, and I decided, in my world, that for every bamboo bicycle built a panda bear must be ritualistically slaughtered! Well, there must have been a bloodbath when this baby was made. I guess I will go back on my own word and say that this is one bamboo bike I would like to see more of, (like between my legs!) LATER!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wish List 2013

It started two weeks ago, all of the people who know I'm a cyclist started asking me, "Are you doing BRR?" "No"
"What?Oh, nope"
"Been there, done that"
You get the drift. How many ways can I say that it would be boring to go for that kind of bike ride. I have done it solo, done it with friends, done it with my brother, my wife, my kids, my kids and wife (she swore she would never ride it again after that one) and it never really felt like such a fun ride. Maybe I'm turning into an old retro grouch or something. A fun hater? well, I have made up a list of rides/events that I would like to lock on for the coming year. I started this compilation at work the other day after selling a bedroom group to a couple from Collins. We were discussing the bike trail that goes to/through their town (Heart Of Iowa Nature Trail) and I asked the husband if he had ever ridden over the Hoy Bridge. He smiled and whipped out his phone, started looking for a picture, and told me the story of how he had the chance to ride over it all right, on his tractor no less! You see, Hoy Bridge is a fantastic cement railroad bridge that is a seemingly impossible thing to find. Some people who live within a few miles of it have never even heard of it. Others, like my customer, have had all kinds of experiences on it. He told me that as kids, they used to go out and stand in the very center of the bridge, wait until they could see an approaching train, and then run to the other end of the bridge to beat the train. Now that sounds a little crazy, but I guess it might be fun once. So I got to thinking, I have ridden out on that trail six or seven times, and intended to find the bridge, only to turn back before finding the damn thing. So this year, I will find this jewel and spend some time crawling around on it! So, here is a list of the things I want to do with/on my bikes this year:
1. Find Hoy Bridge!!!
2. "Twelve hour personal solo gravel marathon." Loop after loop of R Avenue, to 100th, to Q avenue, to 180th. Repeat.
3. "Grotto Grinder" Ride to West Bend, to Grotto of the Redemption. A two dayer!
4."GTDRI" Gotta meet the guy and ride some of that sweet B road action up there. This is the year!
5. "Dirty RAGBRAI" Gravel miles just off the official route. Drop into town to nourish, then disappear into the grids.
6.Hit the 4 corners of Boone County, Iowa in a single ride. That should be an easy century day, and scenic to boot.
7. View the various meteor shower events from the comfort of a ditch, via the conveyance of a bike. Ride out without lights and get your dark adaptive on!
8. VERY IMPORTANT!!!! View Comet ISON from a bike!!!!! There will be no bad places to see this. There will be no prayers for a clear weather window. There will be no mistaking it! Comet ISON will be a once in a lifetime event in the late fall sky this year. ISON is a comet that will be building up a tail as the months of October and November approach. This tail will be 40,000 miles long, made of vaporizing dust and gasses from the time of the birth of our solar system!!!! This comet, not a here then gone meteor, will have a major presence in the sky, both day and night, for almost three months. In fact, the night brightness will be more than the full moon. Think about THAT light free night ride action! There are varied time tables for the peak of this two plus month event, but it looks like many models agree on a Thanksgiving time frame for the full burn. We live in a blessed time people, get out there and enjoy!
*And on a side note, a very good friend of mine, Mr. Kurt Phillips, is the Executive President of our Chamber of Commerce. He tapped me some months ago to get in on an exploratory committee looking into a route to connect Boone to the High Trestle Trail. It looked like an enticing combination of impossible dream and way cool possibilities. A trail along the winding valley ridge of The Des Moines River, through the hardwood stands of ages old trees. Ledges State Park, Iowa Arboretum, Iowa 4 H Camp, and Swede Point Park being among the wayside stops that could be linked into this trail. Well, through the diligence of a few (myself excluded up to this point, but have faith, I'm more the Lewis and Clark component) very hard working and intelligent persons, the fund raising is complete for the first phase of the plan. A contract will be drawn up with a consulting firm that will allow for monies needs to be quantified. Grants and applications of all kinds will follow, and hopefully a pristine ribbon of Portland Cement will flow along the bluffs and valley. I have ridden the river this winter on the ice, and I can say this, you will LOVE IT!!! Later!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Austin's Pity Limits

Poor Lance. Heavy on the poor! Losing it all is just the next step in the process of coming clean about it all. I still have no respect for him, but at least he is having to "pay" for it all. Too bad Oprah didn't really grill him on some points, but that's the reason he wanted to talk to her instead of someone who would hold his feet to the fire a little longer. A classic punk ass move if ever there was one.The following cartoons are a few that I have drawn up over the last year and published in "Toons weekly cartoon tabloid. Just for laughs. Pity the fool!

Monday, January 28, 2013


So winter is here, and as per the norm in Iowa, we have had frigid cold, and unusual warmth. Sometimes back to back days of each! Well, the cold produces ice, and the warmth produces the urge to ride, so I have been riding frozen rivers. A few weeks ago I rode from Ledges State Park down to the High Trestle Trail, Hiway 17 at Saylorville Lake upstream to near Madrid, and last week I rode from US 30 to about a mile past I-35 on the South Skunk River. If you ever think that there is no wilderness in Iowa, or wherever you live, go out and ride a frozen river. It was so strange to be out on a 3 hour ride on top of a river, that I spent most of the time laughing out loud! Even crashing and laughing about it. So anyway, here are some crappy cell phone pictures from the trips. And might I say, these trips were on a bike with decidedly not fat tires, at a skimpy 2.3 niner size.  Maybe a real fat bike next year? Later!