Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Achieving Tranquility...

It seems a bit crazy that the final race of the 2014 Psycowpath series just came and went, as it seems like my cycling season is just reaching full stride. I only made it to a couple events, but the ones I did attend were awesome. The race this past weekend at Tranquility Park in Omaha was no exception. On-time, professional and most importantly, fun! High five to series promoters, Ryan & Roxanne Feagan, and thank you to everyone who volunteered!
As the pack sprints from the line, I slip a pedal... A veteran move. Photo: Jennifer Greer
I raced in the Marathon (4-hour) event, and we had a pretty substantial class at Tranquility. More than 30 racers toed the line, including perennial strong men, Noah Marcus (Greenstreet Velo) and Rafal Doloto (Midwest Cycling-Trek Store), and up-and-comer, Jonathan Wait (Flatwater Cycling/Lincoln Industries). When the gun went off, I messed up clipping into my right pedal, completely slipping off its platform, so I had to sprint to get back to the front as the trail narrowed into singletrack. Fortunately, I went in second wheel behind Rafal, and we immediately set a good tempo. I hadn't planned to lead in the early going, but a slip by Rafal in a switchback corner handed the race lead to me, so I just tried to keep the pace high.

Sprinting back to the front after finally clipping into my right pedal. Photo: Jennifer Greer

Within a lap it was clear there were two contenders in this race, Jonathan and I. It was fun riding with him, as our skills were actually quite different. He comes from a road background, and on the climbs he was just tearing it up. I could pull away from him on the downhills though, so for a while it worked for me to lead. By the time he's catch me, we'd be back on a downhill and I could get again get a gap.
Jonathan Wait stalks me on the first lap. Photo: Jennifer Greer
This only worked for so long however, and eventually Jonathan's stronger legs won out over my gonzo descending. I was having to take insane risks just to keep him in sight, so eventually I saw the writing on the wall and backed it down to a more sustainable, consistent pace. I had a comfortable lead on 3rd place, so I gradually accepted my position in the race and focused on having fun riding my bike. We ended up with six laps, or 54 miles of racing in just over four hours, and I felt like I put in a good ride.

Mid-race, rockin' through "Paul's Motivator", trying to make up time. Photo: DJ Chi Wai

In the end, since Jonathan is quite a bit younger than I, we both ended up winning our respective classes in the Marathon -- he the under-40 class, and me the 40+ category. But I still know there was no denying Jonathan Wait on this day. He was the true champion and deserves all the glory and credit that goes with it.

But that said, standing on the top step of the podium is never a bad thing!
Top of the podium = top of the world. Thanks to all who made it possible!

I'd like to give a huge thank you to all who help make my cycling possible. Sam at Singular Cycles, Jon at Colorado Specialty Velo, LLC, Rob at Oakley, my incredible wife, Laura, and finally, the one and only Guitar Ted. Thank you all for your support of my cycling in 2014!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Kicking Off the 2014 Season...

The 2014 Nebraska mountain bike season got underway this past weekend with the first round of the Psycowpath series at Swanson Park in Bellevue. It was a beautiful day for a bike race, which helped bring racers out in near-record numbers.

I raced in the Marathon category, which is a 4-hour XC event, but there also was a full schedule of traditional XC events taking place as well. We had an incredible turn out in the marathon field, with 52 racers taking the start. Given the numbers, I was fortunate to receive a front-row call-up, thanks to my overall finish in the 2013 Psycowpath series.

The race started off hard from the gun, with 2013 Psycowpath Marathon series champion, Jim Winkelpleck taking the early lead. Kent McNeill went into the trees second, and I followed Kent in third. The sound of the 50+ rider pack coming behind us was very cool off the start.
Racer/photographer Mike McColgan catches me airing it out on one of Swanson's rollers.



By the half-way point of the first lap, Kent had taken the lead, I was in second and Dale Pinkelman had moved up to third. It was clear relatively early-on that the race would be decided between the three of us, but in the first four laps of the race, it was an all Kent McNeill show. He was putting the wood to us and making it look easy.
Using one of Swanson's killer berms to carry a ton of speed. Photo: Mike McColgan

Sometime around lap five, while running in third, I noticed I was gaining ground on Dale on a couple sections of the course. Eventually I was able to get up to him and wasted no time setting sail for Kent, who I caught not long afterwards. I felt comfortable as I moved into the race lead, and worked diligently in the laps that followed to solidify my lead.

That plan worked great until about lap eight (of ten), when I began to have hunger pangs from not eating enough in the early going. Unfortunately, even though I ate and drank immediately when I realized my error, the set back was enough to allow Kent and Dale to bridge back up to me. Dale went around first, then Kent came up to my wheel. We rode together for almost a complete lap before I once again went around him early in the final lap. Unfortunately, what I perceived as weakness in Kent was simply a move to mark me, as when he made his final move off my wheel with about a half-lap remaining, it was a move I couldn't counter. Given the situation, I backed off and enjoyed the fruits of my effort, which would earn me third overall for the day.

View complete results from the Swanson Shoot Out.

I rode my prototype Singular Rooster in the race and didn't feel at a disadvantage at all relative to Dale and Kent, who both rode 'standard' 29"ers. I'm excited about the potential of the29+ platform in long XC races, as the bikes are fast and offer cornering traction that's simply not available on bikes with smaller tires. I'm stoked enough about 29+ that I've actually sent a Fox fork off to Shockspital to have them make some specific modifications that will allow it to be used on the Rooster. I'm going all-in!

Look for an update on the Rooster suspension fork project soon, as I just sent the fork off to Shockspital yesterday.

Cheers,
MG

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

For Sale: 2012 Salsa Mukluk Frameset -- Large/19-inch...

With production of the new Singular Puffin approaching, I'm selling my 2012 Salsa Mukluk 3 frameset to make room in my stable for the new bike.
Seatpost, stem and headset are included (see below).

The frame is a 19-inch, or Large, and it's in very good overall condition. I'm including a number of parts in addition to the basic frame and fork, including:
  • Salsa stem -- 110mm x 8 degree rise
  • 400mm Kalloy seatpost
  •  Cane Creek 10 cartridge bearing headset
All parts came stock on the Mukluk 3 and are in either new, or very good condition.

The only real cosmetic 'flaw' in the frameset is at the rear of the top-tube -- part of the "Mukluk" graphic has peeled.

A better look at the peeling Mukluk graphic...
The frame has not been built/ridden since April 2013, when I began testing the prototype Puffin I'm riding today.

The included Salsa Enabler fork can fit up-to 4.8-inch tires.

The non-drive side Mukluk graphic is just fine.

The included Cane Creek headset has seen very little use (I used a Chris King).

The wrapped right chainstay has kept that area in great condition. I've left it wrapped, so the new owner can choose to use it, or ditch it for another solution.
I'm asking $425 or best offer, plus any applicable shipping.

Please don't hesitate to ask questions, either through the comments, or via email.

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

The Odin's Revenge Experience...

Welcome to the Nebraska Sandhills -- you get into them in the north loop of the course.
 There have been volumes written about how boring the I-80 drive through Nebraska is. So unless you're from central Nebraska, you'll probably be surprised to learn that a gravel grinder with a start and finish in Gothenburg, Nebraska, just a stone's throw from the Interstate, is one of the most scenic and challenging events of its type in the country.

In just its second year, Odin's Revenge is quickly establishing a reputation as a punisher. Last year, the 180-mile event ran on a day that saw 104-degree temperatures, so attrition was more than 50-percent.

Cornbread & I during the foggy, muggy first loop of the 2012 Odin's Revenge. This year would be much different...
This year's shortened 150-mile event featured incredible weather, with high temperatures in the mid-80s and clear skies. In the afternoon, an increasing northwest wind made the second half of the course a particular challenge on the way out, but on the way home, we flew on the wings of that same strong wind, now at our back.

I was fortunate to have a great traveling companion for the adventure -- Guitar Ted -- and he made the trip an absolute joy. G-T drove over from Iowa and then we loaded up our newly-renovated Subaru for the journey to Gothenburg. His timing worked out perfectly, as he rolled into town just as I was finishing up my pre-race grocery shopping. Excellent...
As we pulled into the Gothenburg KOA, we knew we were in the right place... Photo: M. Quigley

Chad Quigley, Lace Fraley and I talk bikes and such. Photo: M. Quigley

We hit the road for Gothenburg around 11am and were one of the first participants to arrive on-site at the KOA. The DSG crew -- Chad & Merrie Quigley, Kyle Vincent, Matt Bergen, Lane Bergen, Bob Wieck, Paul Siebert and a number of others were on-site preparing for the onslaught of racers, and my recollection from the previous year was that the Friday night "meet up" was one of the most fun parts of the event.

Paul Siebert on the hammered dulcimer. Photo: Guitar Ted

At some point, Paul got his banjo out and started singing, I cracked a new bottle of Templeton Rye and we got the party started proper. I knew we had a race the next day, so I wasn't going full-throttle, but we were also in the midst of good friends we don't get to see all that often, so we had a little partying to do. It all worked out very nicely... Lots of fun and laughs were had and Paul even played his hammered dulcimer for us. It's a beautiful instrument I rarely get to experience, and I knew Guitar Ted would be blown away at Paul's ability to make beautiful music with it. Thanks Paul...

Guitar Ted and I were some of the last to leave the KOA, and after a brief stop at the local grocery store we were back at the Quigley's house, as we'd be staying in their beautiful home for the weekend. Chad and I hung out chatting out back for a few minutes, then I was off to bed for the night.

I set the alarm on my iPad for 4:15am and was quickly asleep.

The next morning, I awoke to a surprising amount of light in the room. "What time is it?" I wondered.

I grabbed my iPad... 5:02am

"HOLY SH--!"

I jumped out of bed and immediately started digging for clothes in my bag. I had less than an hour to get dressed and out to the race course. The thoughts rushed though my mind almost too quickly to comprehend, but somehow I collected myself and got everything together in-time. It was much thanks to Merrie Quigley, really, as the breakfast casserole she made enabled me to have a solid breakfast and do it in less than five minutes. That was key...
Looking over my shoulder as we rolled toward the hills. That's Iowa gravel vet, Jeremy Fry on my wheel. He was riding strong all day.

Fortunately, once at the race start, we realized nobody was in a particular hurry and we were running right on-schedule. The start rolled out super easy too, as I was leading it out and since I hadn't ridden any sort of warm up, I didn't want to pedal any too hard in the opening miles. I was content just to spin the legs out and as long as everyone else was cool with it, life was good.
Cornbread rides toward one of the cool railroad bridges on the south side of the course.

Of course, it didn't take long before the course itself imposed its presence and some climbs started thinning out the lead pack, which pretty quickly worked down to eight or nine riders. It eventually stabilized into a six-rider lead pack, which held throughout the first, approximately 95-mile loop of the course.

I had announced my intent to stop at the McDonalds in Gothenburg on my way out on the north loop to the others in the lead group as we were about 10-miles from finishing the south loop. Last year's race winner, Mike Marchand, had stopped there and still was able to pull off the victory, and I could tell my stomach was starting to need something other than the sweet foods I had with me on the bike.
Lunch... I only eat at McDonalds a couple of times a year and this was one of them. It worked well for me.

Once we checked-in at Gothenburg, all of us went and restocked our supplies. Todd Tvrdik rode up and checked on me at the McDonalds to see how close I was to leaving. As much as I wanted to roll out with him, I was only about half done and still wanted to eat... I had my priorities, so I wished him good luck and sent him on his way.

As it turns out, seeing Todd provided me with a spark that kick started me into action. I quickly finished my food and got myself back onto the road. He was about a mile in-front of me, as best I could tell on the slight uphill climb out of town. A persistent northwesterly wind made quick progress impossible, but I spent as much time down on my aero bar as possible in an attempt to pull distance back on Todd. It worked at times, but we played a game of yo-yo until just before the checkpoint, where (I came to learn later) he'd taken a bit of a break, allowing me to ride up just as he was leaving.
Todd Tvrdik leaving checkpoint 4 as I arrive. Photo: Matt Bergen

As checkpoint volunteer, Bob Wieck attempted to hand me a beer, I somehow resisted and while thanking him, also said "I've been chasing Todd since we left Gothenburg. I still have some work to-do. Let's save that for the finish line."

And with that, I resumed my chase, now significantly closer than we'd been since my lunch stop. I was confident I'd eventually get him, but also knew Todd wouldn't go down without a fight, so I needed to be strategic about my moves.

I didn't go after him immediately, instead choosing to pull to within 8-10 seconds, and just pace him, watching how he was riding and where he was riding well. We rode like this for perhaps 12 miles, and then there was a fast two-track dirt road on a ridge that led into a fast, loose and winding downhill. On the upper two-track, Todd surprised me by opening up the gap on me substantially, but then he stood up to stretch his back at the top of the downhill, allowing me to quickly catch back up.

I sensed this was the time, as I'd been riding well on most of the loose downhills earlier in the day, while Todd and I were both riding in the lead pack. I shifted into my largest gear and moved onto the left line of the two-track. We were flying at more than 30-mph and the loose talcum conditions made steering more of a vague dirt-track sort of experience than a definitive line picking exercise, but I bet I had 6-8mph on Todd when I went around him. I was at terminal velocity... I won't lie. It was sweet.

He actually said "Holy SHIT!" as I went around.

I said, "good job, Todd," and kept pedaling.

From that point on, it was a 15-mile with the wind time trial to the finish, and I'd swear to you that it was mostly downhill too. I gave it everything I had left and rolled into the finish at the KOA completely spent. Todd rolled in a few minutes later looking notably fresher. I think the margin was I simply wanted it more on that day. He rode fantastic and looked great out there.
Finishing a long, awesome day in the third-place position. Photo: Guitar Ted

We were credited with 3rd and 4th place solo, which was good for us, as the three winners came across the line together (very cool, IMHO) and so were all credited with 1st place. In reality though, I know I was more like the 5th place finisher, and I'm cool with that. It was a solid field this year and everyone who participated, and especially those who completed the event -- from the first to the last finisher -- deserve a hearty round of applause. I was stoked to win receive a generous third place prize package that included a Mountain Feedbag from event sponsor, Revelate Designs. Thanks to Revelate's Eric Parsons for sponsoring the event.

Thanks to the incredible terrain, this is one tough event, regardless of whether it's 180- or 150-miles! But it's also an event that's incredibly fun and inviting because of its people and its beauty, so I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out. Thanks to the entire DSG crew, but especially to our hosts for the weekend, Chad and Merrie Quigley, for opening their home to us and for their incredible generosity. I know Guitar Ted and I both enjoyed the time we spent with everyone. You can read his posts by the way, here and here.
Matt Bergen captures a good shot of the setup I used on my Singular Kite during my checkpoint four stop.

For the event, I rode my incredible Singular Kite (read my review on GravelGrinderNews.com) set up with a tubeless 43c Bruce Gordon Rock N Road in the front and a tubeless 42c Continental Cyclocross Speed in the rear. The tires worked perfectly and were a competitive advantage in loose, fast sections of the course, undoubtedly. The ability to not have to worry about flats is a complete confidence booster too. I appreciate the ride quality and clearance Singular owner and designer, Sam Alison has built into the frame and fork. It was the perfect ride for Odin's Revenge.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Check Out My Dirty Kanza Recap on Gravel Grinder News...


My story from the 2013 Dirty Kanza 200 has been posted on GravelGrinderNews.com. Check it out when you get a chance...

Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend and I hope to see you out on the road or trail.

Cheers,
MG

Monday, May 20, 2013

Singular Bikes in the Wild...

Spotted this weekend in southeastern Nebraska...
The elusive Singular Gryphon... here, headed for home at mile 85 of Saturday's nearly 100-mile pre-Dirty Kanza 200 shakedown run. In a somewhat unprecedented move for me, I'll be running a singlespeed this year at the DK200. You heard it here first...

And the debut of the new Singular Osprey, and my return to owning a road bike... Well, sort of. It's got 32c tires (yes, they're tubeless) and it's just as fast on smoother gravel as it is on pavement. Clearly it's not for DK200-style riding, but for a lot of the gravel roads we have around here, it's gonna' be just the ticket. Oh, I'll ride some pavement too... Just not too much!
May is National Bike Month and it's about the best time of year to get out and ride... Hope to see you out on the roads or trails!

Cheers,
MG

Thursday, May 02, 2013

TransIowa v.9: It Just Wasn't My Year...

Sunrise over TransIowa... Photo: Gnat

Gravel road races the length of TransIowa are unique. They're long enough to require months of training, so they aren't undertaken lightly and they aren't something you drop out of on a whim. But one thing years of racing these events has taught me is that, sometimes it just isn't your day. And so it was this year at TransIowa v.9.

The morning of the race started off well enough. I was one of the first riders to show up on the line, actually leaving my hotel for the start line at 3:00am sharp. Guitar Ted had asked us to be there by 3:30 and I was ready a little early, so I decided to get going. When I arrived at the line at 3:10, just one other rider was present that I could see. It was a little eerie, as I knew within minutes a mass of people would descend on the area.

And so they did. I chatted with a number of other riders, including 2012 TransIowa winner, Eric Brunt, who was looking fit, Dirty Kanza 200 race director, Jim Cummins, who was looking equally fit, and other friends from Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and other places. Then, after a short talk from Guitar Ted, he led us out of to the edge of town, to the first gravel, in his truck.

Once we hit the gravel, the pace lit up almost immediately, and a couple of racers started attacking on the early steep climbs. I tried to stay near the front but in the pack so I was in a draft most of the time, but realized after the first couple of hours, when I stopped to remove my jacket, that I was using more energy than I'd thought. The jacket was completely soaked through with sweat... Not a good sign.

Chad Quigley catches me making a funny face at CP1. That's Lance Andre lowering the pressure on the 27c Vittoria tubulars on his Trek Madone. It was a decision he'd later regret, as he'd flat his rear tire less than 15 miles later on some chunky asphalt on a section of bike path.
I pulled into the first checkpoint with Lance Andre, who was riding a Trek Domane similar to the one Jay Thomas used to win Gravel Worlds in 2012. The difference was, here at TransIowa, the gravel was much rougher, fresher and chunkier, so Andre had a much bigger challenge on his hands. On the smooth sections, he was rocket fast, but there were times on the fresh gravel where he found himself on the losing end of the battle for control of the bike and would go careening across the road.
The section of bike path that caused Lance Andre's first flat of the day. Photo: Gnat

When we pulled into the checkpoint, Chad Quigley, a Nebraska homeboy volunteering for the event, told me the leaders had taken a wrong turn and were off-course. That meant we were very close to the race lead, but in all honesty, I didn't really care. I just wanted to get back on-course and catch up to Cornbread, who'd left the checkpoint just ahead of me, so I quickly arranged my second set of cue sheets and was on my way. I caught Cornbread and (I believe) Jay Barre about two miles later, but started having pain in my right knee on a climb shortly after and let them ride away from me while I tried to figure out what was going on.

I eventually stopped and did some stretching to try to loosen my leg up, which helped a little. While I was stopped, I had the good fortune of having a big group ride up on me that included Salsa riders, Tim Ek, Paul Errinton and Jim Cummins. Our group eventually grew to also include several members of the Cycle Works/Moose's Tooth team, eventual women's winner (and 4th place overall finisher), Monika Sattler, and others. It was a group I was stoked to be riding with, and honestly thought I'd end up finishing with.
Our group coming into the first Casey's stop (at approx. mile 80 in the event). Immediately in-front of me is Paul Errington from the UK, with Tim Ek to his left. Eventual women's winner and 4th place overall finisher, Monika Sattler, rides in-front of Tim.

But on this day it wasn't to be. At about 110 miles into the event, my body began to falter again and I quietly drifted to the back of the group. As I dangled at the back, it became harder and harder simply for me to maintain contact, even with the strong draft from the eight-strong group, and at one point I simply made the decision to cut the cord. I rode alone for about 20 more minutes contemplating my fate before I stopped on the side of the road at the entrance to a field, where I sat down and ate a few Honey Stinger waffles and drank a whole water bottle as I sent a text message to Laura warning her that the end may be drawing neigh on TransIowa v.9. But before I decided conclusively, I hopped back on to my bike for about 30 more minutes to confirm my legs weren't coming back (which they weren't).

My dusty Gryphon sits, awaiting my decision...
At that point, I decided that TransIowa v.9 was over for me. I'd simply burnt too many matches in the early going to make myself last the entire event, and the moment of reckoning was at hand. I made the call with no regrets and nobody to blame for my failure but myself. It's just one of those things that I wish I'd have done better, but I can't do over, so I can just learn from it and move forward.

I want to thank everyone who supported me with their thoughts and comments in the lead-up and during TransIowa this year. It was truly humbling and inspiring to see how many people were following our progress during the event. Thanks again to all who took time to follow along!

It was fantastic to see and ride with lots of old friends, and also meet and ride with a lot of cool new people. I was reminded once again of one of the best things about the gravel racing scene -- the people! Thanks to each of you who made this a special event.

Preparing and competing in TransIowa would not have been possible without the incredible support of my beautiful wife, Laura. Not only was she there to pick me up when I faltered, but she unselfishly allowed me the time necessary to prepare the way I needed to for TransIowa -- and any of you who've done it know that's no small undertaking! And also, thank you to Marty Larson (The Prairie Peddler) and Sam Alison at Singular Cycles, and Rob Versteegh at Oakley for the support of my riding and racing. I feel honored to represent each of you whenever I'm on my bike! And finally, thank you to Guitar Ted and all of the volunteers who made TransIowa v.9 an unforgettable, life-changing event for so many participants. Even though it didn't work out the way I'd hoped, personally, it was still an amazing experience... Thanks again!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Detailing my final TransIowa v9 Bike Setup...

It's time for the one we've all been waiting for -- TransIowa time is here -- and it looks like this year's event is set to be a good one. We're expecting weather in the mid-60s with sunshine during the day, and lows in the upper-40s during the night, but most importantly, it's forecast to be DRY, which is quite alright as far as I'm concerned. You can bet with all the rain the area's gotten over the past week, the B-roads are going to be awfully damp anyway... but the gravel, yes the gravel should be primo.

So, with all that in-mind, my steed for the Big Dance is already packed and ready. No joke. Everything is ready to go, and I wanted to show you all the Singular Gryphon I'll be riding this year. So, without further ado, here it is:
The complete bike -- fully-loaded, I'm not sure what it weighs, but it's well over 30 lbs. That said, I won't need to wear any sort of pack on my body. That was a major consideration in what I did here. 43c Bruce Gordon Rock 'N Road tires are super-stable, reasonably light and pretty darn fast. They're tubeless on my bike (they are designed to run w/tubes, however).

There's a lot going on at "bar central", with a NiteRider Cordless 600 light sharing space with a Garmin Edge 200 GPS computer (on a Tate Labs BarFly mount) and a map holder of an origin I forget (maybe Detours?) The CamelBak drink tube is mounted on a magnetic steerer-mounted retractable leash made by Veleau, which retains the hose very well, even on bumpy roads. A Planet Bike Snack Shack is stuffed to the gills with caffienated Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews. Don't kid yourself. Caffiene is good...
The Garmin Edge 200 is a recent change, and it lets me use one computer on all of my bikes -- a great change. On this bike, the BarFly mount also helps facilitate the multi-tasking necessary during 300-plus mile gravel grinders such as TransIowa. I'm running BarFly mounts on both of my drop-bar Singulars, in fact. The rest of my bikes are stuck with standard Garmin mounts, however. Due to the 16-hour battery life of the Edge 200, I had to come up with a charging solution to get through TransIowa, which is that mini-USB plug you can see in the background, behind the Garmin. It is actually a cable loosely zip-tied to the brake cable, so I can easily plug it into my Edge 200 when the battery runs down, even on-the-fly.

The lithium-ion battery unit sits in the back of the non-drive (shallow) side of my Jandd frame bag.

The cable running out the back of the frame bag, up the seatpost and onto the top of the rack bag goes to a little surprise...

... solar charing. With the capacity to take the Li-ion cell from zero-to-full in eight hours of sunlight, I figured it was two ounces of weight worth carrying, as I can charge not only my Garmin, but also my Niterider headlight with the same cable. The solar cell is always plugged-into the Li-ion cell, so it'll charge the battery anytime there's enough light.
My Salsa Minimalist rack securely carries the Arkel TailRider bag, and also offers an easy mounting point for an old Zefal clip-on fender, which I secured with zip-ties.

I also made myself up a homebrew QR nut light mount out of an old broken carbon fiber handlebar, a Bontrager QR nut and some 10-minute epoxy. I knew that carbon bar would be good for something!

Finally, in-case we end up needing to portage our bikes, I decided to pad the underside of my saddle with a piece of an old camping pad. It actually works pretty well. Since it works better to portage the Gryphon with the nose of the saddle (due to the frame design), this is a good solution. We'll see how much it ends up getting used (I hope not much).

I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of friends in Grinnell at TransIowa v.9. Thanks to my wife Laura for giving me the opportunity to attempt this again, and to Marty Larson (the Prairie Peddler) and Sam Alison at Singular Cycles, and Rob Versteegh at Oakley, for the support of my riding and racing. Also, thanks to Guitar Ted for once again putting on TransIowa -- the granddaddy of gravel grinders!

I feel good this year and believe that, with luck on my side, anything is possible. This is the type of event where to finish is to win, so when you're listening to the TransIowa Radio broadcasts, don't be surprised if you don't hear my name among the race leaders in the early going. There's a good chance you'll hear my name among the finishers though -- I'm confident of that much.


Wish me luck! And thanks for reading...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pre-TransIowa Equipment Changes...

After an incredibly dry 2012, we've resumed a more abundant precipitation pattern thus far in early 2013. This increase in moisture is of particular note for those of us planning for TransIowa v.9, as it increases the likelihood of encountering mud during the event, which will be held April 27-28.

While I can't speak for anyone else, the increased likelihood of a "moist" T.I. has caused me to completely re-think my equipment setup for the 2013 event. To that end, this past weekend I took my singlespeed Singular Gryphon and stripped it of its drivetrain, replacing it with a fully-geared setup, optimized to take on the Iowa mud. And with a 43c Bruce Gordon Rock 'n Road on the front, and a 42c Continental Cyclocross Speed on the rear, the bike has more than an inch of mud clearance at any point around both tires. I think this setup will be a key to getting to the finish this year.

Of course, my training has to be on-track, but I feel good about where I'm at there. And now, I feel great about my equipment as well. I know I'll be on a bike that can go the distance.

So, with that said, here are some shots of the evolution of my TransIowa v.9 race bikes...
The grey Singular Kite was my first choice for TransIowa. It has fantastic clearance in the fork and seatstays (for a CX bike), but lacks the massive clearance of a true 29-inch mountain bike like the Gryphon. It'll make an awesome steed for summer gravel grinders and fall 'cross races though!

With massive mud clearance, a retro 8-speed rear end and inexpensive 'parts bin' components I don't have to worry about trashing, my 'V2' Gryphon can roll into muddy conditions with confidence.

Where should we ride today? Regardless of the conditions, I'm fortunate to have a drop-bar dirt bike that's perfect for the job, thanks to Singular Cycles.