Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's been a spell since I've lazed through these parts and that is just plain wrong. I will tell you a short spell about a thing which happens to be a brilliant counterpart to another thing, both of which are very Soulcraft related. If you have spent any amount of time lurking on this here blurg you have no doubt heard my occasional praise of my Dirtbomb. The sad thing was however, that after Ritchey Logic stopped making their 42 Crossmax, I was stuck either cutting Panaracers to fit, or settling for 38s. That was until Captain Extremeo Fartypants dropped by my abode with a set of Papa Bruce's new Rock 'n Road all terrain bikecycle tire. My plaything has found a new mate, and in the outings we've had together, I am mightily impressed in how the new skins handle.
There's some technical mumbo jumbo that was conveyed to me about an updated compound, or lighter weight to its predecessor, but most everything goes in one ear and out the other. If you are one who doesn't mind mixing you're pave with your dirt with your gravel with your dirt, give Bruce a call. Just don't ask him any questions.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Announcing the Meet Your Maker Tour!

The Meet Your Maker Tour is your invitation to ride and hang out with some of Northern California's best bicycle frame builders and component makers. No stuffy convention halls, no dim fluorescent lighting, just a good time hanging out and talking shop while we partake in the incredible road and mountain biking we are so fortunate to have around the Bay Area. If you're in the market for custom bike, come on out and talk to the local builders in person while we spend time doing what we really love, riding bikes!

Point your internet web site browser over to www.meetyourmakertour.com, follow us on the Twitter, the Facebook, and add us to your Rolodex(tm)! Whatever. We'll be riding bikes and you should join us!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

TransIowa v8 My goal was to learn the lesson I should have learned from TransIowa v7. Don’t get lost. I devised a plan to stay on course. I would put a Sharpie mark by each cue as we completed it. Sharpie around the neck and cues close at hand. TransIowa, this year, was a 328 mile loop on Iowa’s rolling gravel and dirt roads, starting and ending in Grinnell, and to be completed in 34 hours. The course is shown to the event participator by a series of ‘cue sheets’, a written set of directions. There are minimal physical course markings. My fear was that, in the night, I would lose track of what cue we were on, which was my final hypothesis on why we failed in 2010. Hence, the Sharpie. I say we because I knew my wingman, Matt Jennings of Montana, formerly of Lincoln would be with me the whole time, unless something went incredibly wrong. We were a matched pair. I hadn’t seen Matt in a few years until when he chose to participate in v7. We talked over the course of the following year about what to do in order to finish and what we thought went wrong. This year’s version had 3 checkpoints. You only start with the cues for the first section. Cue sheets for the next section are handed out at each checkpoint if you make the time cutoffs. Time cutoffs are based on 10mph. It rained right up to start time. But, we also had the driest and warmest winter and spring in the last 15 years. The result was wet soft roads but not splattery like last year. And the roads were drying quickly with a consistent east wind. There was one ‘b’ road (minimum maintenance dirt road) before the first checkpoint and it was a walker. Actually we rode the ditch at 150% of walking speed for about 1/3 of the mile length of the road. We arrived at CP1 at 52 miles in with about 30 minutes to spare. We refueled at the convenient store 2 blocks from the checkpoint and headed back onto the course to get the next 120miles thru the countryside to CP2. With 12 hours to go 120 miles you don’t exactly keep rigid track of the time. Soon it was 1pm, then 4pm, then 6pm and we had not yet reached CP2. 9:30pm was the cutoff. We had felt great about the cues and our following of them properly, all morning, day and early evening. Then, a few road signs and landmarks stopped marking sense when compared to the cues, and we were both feeling nervous about our directions. We cruised down the face of a huge roller to find two other racers. They quickly notified us that we were 3.5 miles off course and produced a laminated paper map. I devised a quick and easy way back on course and we trudged on to CP2 arriving 30 minutes late. I was bummed, but it was painless when compared to last year. As painless as 178 miles of gravel on a single speed can be. In v7 Matt and I spend at least 3 hours getting back on course from about 12:30am on. It hurt. We had been up since 2am the following morning and our decision making was poor. Hence the Sharpie, which I had stopped using since CP1 and our feeling so good about the cues. Notice I don’t have any photos. It’s way too hard to take the time for it. I could direct you to Corey’s site where he has a nice description of a much more glorious TI. I was glad to see him and a few other Nebraskans finish. Sometimes it gets very difficult to do the simplest things in long distance bike riding events like this one. You might be riding at 80 degrees in tights just because of the added effort in removing them. You might stop using the Sharpie too. I was saving it for nightfall but we got burned before daylight was over. In the end, another lesson learned. Keep up with the Sharpie. A quicker average speed would have allowed for a greater time cushion, a cushion that would have allowed for recovery from our somewhat minor navigational error. This was my seventh attempt. I have finished twice in 2007 and 2009. I still crave that third finish for some reason. Actually the reason is easy. It’s tremendously satisfying the complete. And, it defines what I consider worthwhile and cool. I’ve been a bit bummed about failing this time, although, like I said, it was much less painful then last year. I knew hamming the keyboard would help some. I feel better already. 'Event bike' pictured after the event and after a nice warm bath.