Monday, April 14, 2008

Grinding Gravel in April Showers...

Laura and I were in Des Moines, IA. this weekend watching our nieces while our Sister and Brother and Law enjoyed their 12th anniversary in Kansas City (Here's to a happy dozen years!!). Since I was already half-way to his Waterloo, IA. abode, I took it as an opportunity to hook up with TransIowa promoter and 29-inch legend, Guitar Ted, for a sampler of some of the gravel roads around Traer, Iowa that made it onto the 2006 T.I.v3 route.
The man, the myth, the legend -- Guitar Ted, getting ready for his assault on the Dirty Kanza 200 in May. Since he's the promoter of TransIowa, he doesn't get to ride in the race itself. Bummer...

The conditions we rode in Saturday were crazy for April -- 35 degrees and steadily falling snow. What is it with this winter weather that just doesn't want to stop?!! But despite the weather, G-Ted and I had a great ride, and he showed me some incredibly scenic and topographically diverse roads in Northeast Iowa. What turned out to be only about a 2:20:00 ride, due to the conditions, I joked after the ride, seemed like it was about a 4-hour long ride -- and to my legs, it sure felt like it. The soupy, soft gravel/dirt roads were tough pedaling!

Guitar Ted rode his rad OS Bikes Blackbuck singlespeed, with nary a single Shimano bit to be found -- a distinct contrast to my complete Shimano 2x10 drivetrain. "It's one sweet ridin' rig," was his official word, and I don't doubt him one bit. Look at those seatstays -- talk about passive suspension! Amazing... The details of the frame are a sight to behold up-close too. Check out OS Bikes online.

I'll tell you frankly -- if we've got conditions like that for TransIowa, there aren't going to be any finishers this year! It's going to be like it was two years ago, when there were only a select few that made it to the half-way point by the time cut-off. The roads need drying out time, and the good news is it seems they're going to get exactly what they need this week. The weather forecast looks absolutely beautiful.

Riding with Guitar Ted got me really excited for T.I., and made me more confident that I'm zeroing-in on a solid set-up for the race too. His expert feedback was exactly what I needed to get me in the right mindset for the final couple of weeks leading up to the race. Now I know my basic bike set-up is dialed. My tires/wheels are good to go. My lights are set. But now I need to pay additional attention to where/how I'm going to carry gear. That needs to be my primary focus in the coming week.

Specifically, I need to find a rear rack solution, pronto. It doesn't need to hold a lot of weight, so I'm considering a seatpost-type rack. We'll see what materializes... I have to remember that it's a temporary solution and that the perfect is the enemy of the good. I don't think a "perfect" solution exists for me at this point, unless a beautiful Nitto R10 rack somehow finds its way to me.
The Nitto R10 rack would be perfect for the back of my La Cruz at T.I.
Image lifted from

Guitar Ted snapped this shot of our bikes at rest above a rain-swollen Wolf Creek. Gotta' love the "whitewall" effect of the reflective sidewalls on the Schwalbe Marathon Cross tires I'm running on my La Cruz. Regardless of how you feel about the look, you can't argue with the safety of reflective sidewalls during a race like TransIowa, so that's a good thing. Plus, Guitar Ted just happened to mention in the course of our conversation that most of the front-runners in last year's TransIowa were on some iteration of the Schwalbe Marathon tire, so clearly there is something good about the tires for gravel road riding/racing. Based on my direct experience, I'd have to concur.


Guitar Ted said...

Am I really that fat?! Really?

ha ha! Thanks for the good words and the fantastic ride time. We'll be hooking up again somewhere down the line I think. just a hunch.........

MG said...

I think we both had a lot of clothes on, my friend. You're not fat.

I sure hope the next time we see eachother, the weather is a lot nicer than it was Saturday! I suspect it will be, despite what that 'Fastkiguy' says on about the rain in the weather forcast! I don't think they know what the weather is gonna' do beyond about 48 hours in the Midwest! It's purely a crap shoot, and hopefully, we're gonna' hit the jackpot. I'll gamble...

Thanks again for the good times, and good conversation this weekend, Mark. I look forward to our next opportunity to hang. I just talked to MW a moment ago too, and he sends his love. You aren't the only one who speaks fondly of that Death Ride experience...

Cheers, my brother.

gNAT said...

Sweet. Wish I could have been there. I didn't get out on Saturday in the crappy weather. I did get out for a nice ride Sunday.

MG, sweet La Cruz. I love mine. I'm running the new Shimano 29er wheels on mine with some vittoria cross tires. If Ti isn't muddy, they could be the ticket.

Next time you guys plan something like this, let me know. While I can't easily get to Nebraska, Iowa isn't too far away....

GT, see you in a few days. I hope Monterey is as nice as it is here right now.

MG, talk to you soon. I know you've got a deadline pending.

millhouse said...

Looks like you had some fun out there.

I missed my opportunity to introduce myself in person tonight at MWC. I was dropping the El Mar for a tuneup and had to run. The La Cruz looked great in person though. I can't wait until I can add one to my stable.

MG said...

Hey Gnat -- I bet your La Cruz looks and rides sweet with those Shimano wheels and Vittoria tires on there! I know the wheels were a little flexy for you on the mountain bike, so they're probably just the ticket on the 'cross bike.

I'll definitely let you know next time I'm in Iowa too... can't believe that didn't occur to me in the first place!

Talk to you soon.

Millhouse -- that was you?!! Good to at least be able to put a face with a name. Hope to get to ride with you soon, but you'll definitely love the La Cruz as a compliment to your El Mariachi (which was lookin' sweet at MWC last night, even with a flat rear tire!).