Monday, December 29, 2008

Mid winter blues.

It happens to us all. Just when the world is literally at its darkest, and warmth seems all to far away, it turns around. We had our longest night of the year back on the 21st. And already things are brightening up. On the looooong drive home last night from Minnesota, Lisa and I noticed that the sunset was later, prettier, and warmer 'feeling' than any we had seen in a while. Seemed like it lasted for ever too. I know we certainly enjoyed watching as we drove along Hwy 52.

Now we have to get through New Years, and this Holiday madness will be behind us, and life can get back to 'normal'. I'm simply looking forward to getting back on the bike! I've got this new Pugsley in the store to play with. The most riding its seen has been to ferry the kids around town so far. Soon, VERY soon, it will see trails. I can't wait.

From Pugsley

From Pugsley

I promise to come back with some shots from the trail too.

Here's to every ones happy new years events. Take care out there, and we'll see you in the store soon, eh?

listening to: The Flaming Lips//In The Morning of the Magicians

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New bike in the stable.

A few years back, I had what has amounted to the best bike I've owned. It did everything 'right'. It climbed easy and stable. It carved singletrack like there was no tomorrow. Descending on it was an absolute pleasure. It went exactly where you pointed it, and stayed on track.

From Vassago y Haro

Taken at the trail head of the Dyke Trail near Crested Butte CO.

I loved that bike. And now it has a new happy home near its birth in NorCal. Mike is always sure to let me know how much he likes the bike. And that is a good thing.

I've got something to replace that loved old bike now. It comes from the same mind that the first one did. Its heart is from the same trails. I can't really refer to it by its given name, so it'll juyst be called the Mountain Cruiser. Its all built up now, but I have yet to get a chance to really ride it. Oh sure, its been up and down the block a few times. You can't tell a thing about a bike with just a few hundred feet under its tires though.

From The Bikes

There is this: It looks pretty cool. See, I've never been a fan of cruiser styled mountain bikes. Stuff I've seen from companies like Black Sheep, Merlin and Spicer. I DO like the RetroTec's, but then they started the whole cruiser thing back in the 90's. This one is different. It try to mimic as much as it tries to emulate. Anyways. The lines are clean, cable routing is very smooth. The look is just right.

From The Bikes

From The Bikes

Listening to: Clutch // Burning Beard

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Holiday Deals!

Holiday Greetings to everyone out there! We do hope that this winter has been treating everyone well this far. Hasn't been too bad quite yet! We may not be riding as much any more, but we still get outside and stay active, whether it be hiking, running, snowshoeing, skiing, or even snow biking (nutters!). Here at The Prairie Peddler, we have some great cool weather jersey's for both Men and Women. We have some wind proof/water gloves. There's even some wool liner/hand warmers here that would make great stocking stuffers!

Its hard to think about biking in conditions like this for normal people. But warmth is just around the corner, and biking season will be upon us again! Don't get caught out with out some new wheels! ALL of the 2008 model bikes by Jamis and Redline are on sale. Prices have been slashed from 15% to 20%! Can't make a whole payment yet? We'll be happy to set up a payment plan that works for you. We're also working on setting up a store credit card program that will make big purchases easy to deal with, with terms better than 'same as cash' set ups.

Lastly, we'd like to remind every one that we DO have gift certificates and gift cards here to get to your loved ones for the holidays. If you are the giftee, let your gifter know what you want!

Thank you SO much for a great first season! We can't wait to get out riding with you all again next year!

oh, and a teaser.
From Vassago y Haro

To be revealed soon. So very soon!

Listening to: Last FM; Loose Fur station

Monday, December 8, 2008

Surly Pugsley in the shop.

From Pugsley

So what's a Surly Pugsley? Well, for the uninitiated, its a bike designed to be ridden nearly anywhere. Soft conditions are its natural habitat with its 4" wide tires. Normally, a bike tire will be half that width and run pressures anywhere from 25 to 45 psi. Because of the sheer volume in these tires, one can easily run down into the single digits for tire pressure, making the effective footprint HUGE, creating a bike that flaots rather than sinks in sand and snow. These are very capable bikes, and very versitle.

And this guy is here for ALL to use. I've purchased this bike for you, the customer to come in and check out. See what the weirdness is all about. Of course there are limitations. You should be fairly tall. At least 5'10" to ride it. See, I got it so it'd fit me too. Kind of. Its a bit small for me, but will suffice.

In fact, its already been reserved by Colin on January 10 so he can attempt the Triple D down in Dubuque. Good luck Colin! I see him riding by the shop almost daily, even in the cold we've been having, so I think he'll do just fine.

From Pugsley

For those familiar with the Pugsley, you'll notice that it doesn't have the Endomorph tires[yet]. They're still out of stock at QBP, but should be in this week. The tires on there now are 2.7" Maxxis Minion DH tires. Big Heavy Beasts of tires. Gripped pretty dang well this morning though. I think I let pressure down to near 10psi. They do tend to climb up the sides of ruts though. These will make good ice tires in the end I think. Nice flat profile [talk about edgy!], and a thick casing should make getting screws in easy. I'll have to try to make it up to Mpls for the ice races....

So when I get the tires in, it'll be ready to go. I've got it set up with a smart package of parts. The SLX shifters and derailleurs are working quite well right now. I like the double action on the 'trigger' shifters now. Makes shifting with gloved hands pretty easy to do. The action of the shifters is no where near as sensitive as the SRAM version either. This is very good news.

From Pugsley

From Pugsley

The thing that's going to be the oddest to get used to is the 100mm wide BB. The pedals are waaaaaayyyy far apart. After riding it, I feel kinda bow legged.

Again, if you're curious about these monster bikes, please do come in and schedule a time to take this creature out. Yes, even in this cruddy winter weather. I'm sure you'll like it!

Listening to: SOMA fm; groove Salad.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New forkitude.

I picked up a new fork for the Jamis Exile on Monday. Darrel up at Bluedog Customs built it for me. Why did I get a new fork? Well, the reason's are pretty simple. Looking at it, the stock fork on the Jamis is not very confidence inspiring. The legs are skinny. Very skinny. The dropouts are even skinnier. Its veerrryy long. The disc tab is thin, especailly for the 7" rotor I use. All this sveltness under a 220lb agressive rider just isn't very confidence inspiring. Not to mention the fact that this one(the others in the store are fine) has its legs welded on of kilter. It ain't straight.

From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

So what we have here is the Jamis fork on the left. The Bluedog fork in the middle, and for comparisons sake, a Salsa Cromoto(a fork I like a lot.) on the right. The differences between the Jamis and the BDC fork are stunning, no?

From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

Details on the BDC fork: Columbus legs, Paragon drop outs/disc mount. Fillet Brazed construction. 480mm tall, with a 40mm rake. Haven't mounted/ridden it yet. Bikes too dirty, and I'm busy cleaning the shop. Once cut, I bet we're looking at a fork near the 2lb mark.

From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

If you're in the market for a new fork, be it road, cyclocross or mountain, give me a shout and I'll be able to hook you up with one of these. Price will be right about $280 for one like mine, bit less for road/cross. So far, I'm impressed, I can't wiat to ride it!

Listening to: Dan Bern/Soul Coughing/Arcade Fire = iTunes mix-a-lot

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rawland Oalf 650b DONE.

Eric is a very happy man. He has a bike back in the stable. One of several to come for sure. This one turned out great. During the process of getting it all together, he thought he was going to go with a more....basic build. As you can see, that didn't really happen.

From The Prairie Peddler

Parts are about as shiney as they come. White Industries hubs, cranks, bottom bracket and freewheel add up to a seriously blung out bike[even more so with the double/double set up]. Not to mention the Thomson Stem and Seatpost. And the Ti railed WTB Silverado with Salsa Bell Lap bars. Avid BB7 front brake, and Paul Touring Canti rear. Nice stuff.

And the best thing? The first words out of his mouth when seeing it: "This'll be the cleanest it'll ever be." Awesome.

Drool on.

From The Prairie Peddler

From The Prairie Peddler

From The Prairie Peddler

From The Prairie Peddler

From The Prairie Peddler

For those curious about the whole 650b thing, feel free to ask away. I've got this bike done, and am currently working on a Surly 1x1 that will be B'd out too[if ever there were a perfect bike, I think the 1x1 is it folks! It can do anything!]. I like the platform, and think that it makes sense.

If you're in the market for a bike like this, I am able to sell Rawland via the interwebs, and will be happy to set you up! My prices are more than fair.

And lastly, lets ALL be thankful tomorrow, and the in the days to come. Be thankful for what we have, and the lives that we're blessed with. We've all got it pretty damned good. Dig in and enjoy the meal tomorrow! I know I will.

And then I'll be back here on Friday, selling away. For the locals out shopping, I most certainly DO have Gift Certificates for your loved ones. If you're in the market for a bike, ALL of the 2008 bikes are 15% off right now. Gotta clear 'em out and make room for 2009!

Listening to: Modest Mouse; The Moon and Antartica

Monday, November 24, 2008

Short one today.

And there's a reason.

From The Prairie Peddler

I got work to do! Eric will soon be a very happy man.

I did manage to get out and ride this weekend to. Ryan and I are both signed up for the Ragnarok 105 on April 18. We'll be doing this 'training' thing all winter.

One mountain ride in a dusting of snow.
From C1X

And one gravel ride in a dusting of lime.
From C1X

Good stuff! Off to wheel building.

Listening to: The Pixies; Surfer Rosa

Friday, November 21, 2008

Testing. Is this thing on?

testing a new format. Something wider. Shows pictures better. After all, this is mostly a visual thing.

From YR GRinder

Thanks to Ed and Jason for the inspiration.

Listening to: Steve Earl Copperhead Road

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

daily [almost] reading

Welcome to the interwebs. Land of frustrated writers and writing frustratedly [me]. Everyone who spends any amount of time surfing knows that there seems to be no end to to this thing. One thing we bloggers typically do is post little links to other blogs we read. I've done that down to the right there. Yep, yust right down there. I do go to almost all of them on a regular basis. I've found a few though that have been garnering more of my attention.

The best of these is pdxcross. If there's one thing you do today, click this link. Especailly if you like photography. And Cyclocross. The two are combined in this photo blog of the Portland cyclocross scene. For the unintiated, Portland OR is what many would consider the center of the US cyclocross world. I'm sure there are some out there who would debate that, but when you look at what they pull in for registered riders, especailly this year, its kinda hard to argue the point. Nearly every race they have held this year has had over 1200 riders in all classes. Yeah, One Thousdand Two Hundred riders. awesome. Lets spread some love to the rest of the country for what could be the most perfect cycling discipline, eh?

Sorry, got distracted there. pdxcross has what I think are some of the most arresting images of the cross world. There are some brilliant shots to be had there. I suggest starting from the very beginning, and working your way to the present. the coolest thing though is that they're publishing a coffe table book. I'm there.

Another blog I read with a regularity reserved only for bowel movements is How to Avoid the Bummer Life. Its full of juvenile humor, bacon, pbr, Danzig and hijinks on bicycles, and could mostly be considered an arm or leg of the marketing juggernaut of Swobo. This is the blog where I've seen possibly the most awesome rawk band to date. Red Fang. YouTube Prehistoric Dog. Srsly.

Fat Cyclist is one I get to about every two weeks. This one is hard. FC is one funny dude. Just thinking about it, I chuckle. Lately though, the funny's have been replaced by something a bit...more harrowing. Click through and read it. Its very hard to NOT get all wrapped up and sobbey. And dammit if I'm not going to support what's happening there. Win Susan!

I like pictures. Alot. I take them [meagerly]. I look at lots. And these are some of the best out there. Anthony was a regular at MTBR not too long back, but tragically [?] left the place. Not really tragically. Its all for the better. He's happy to not have random haters coming down on him. Read/look at his pictures and see if you can't be inspired to either go ride or take that shot you've been thinking about.

Best run. Read and enjoy folks.

Listening to: Miles Davis//Kind of Blue

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday Morning dirt!

The last few Monday's I've been lucky to be getting out and getting some dirt under my tires. With the weather being mostly ok, its been nice to get out and enjoy the woods.

I feel pretty lucky to be based where I am. Sure, its not Colorado with its epic trails laced through ever more scenic mountains. Its not California with its hallowed ground trail systems. Nor is it rock infested technical single track like out east. I get a little bit of all of it. Well, minus the hallowed ground stuff....

As I ride out of my driveway, I have 4 miles to get to trails that are anywhere from easy to down right nasty. I still feel like I haven't gotten a full grasp on how long the network is up in those hills. I think I've hit at least 15 miles so far, with maybe another 10 or so to find.

From Backyard Trails

From Backyard Trails

There's lots of ^^^^^roots^^^^ and lots of \/\/\/rocks\/\/\/

From Fall riding

From Backyard Trails

In between there are lots of sections of utter butterly smooth bliss.

From Fall riding

From Backyard Trails

And occasionally, you do get to break out the thick woods and onto an open vista:

From Backyard Trails

The best thing, and the worst thing, about these trails, is that I am almost always the only person out there. Sure a few of the shots above have riders in them, but they're now college kids off doing their own things elsewheres. That leaves me to leading guests through the system, showing them what's up. I'd sure like to show some [more] locals what we have out our back door. It really is some of the best stuff going. Some day, we'll get more out there. Some day. Until then, I'll be happy know at least I can get out there!

Listening to: blessed silence. No screaming girls. No trains. No sirens. No panting dogs. Just an annoying computer hum. oh wait. Now its off too. Yay!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Eric is looking at: Bike #1

You all probably remember the story I posted about a few weeks back. Bad things: fire + bike storage = melted bicycles.

We've been working here to get Eric back up and running. This is his first rig to come through. A Rawland Olaf SS. This is a pretty unique bike. Its designed around 650b wheels, a standard brought upon us mountain bikers by Kirk Pacenti. Its been around the road scene for a while now, initially with the french as touring bikes in the 50's and 60's, but more recently from Rivendell.

Anyways. This bike is unique. If these wheels look big, it because they are. That's a WTB 2.55" tire on the front. About as big as they come. And it fits this bike. Barely. By like 3mm barely. Awesome. I know it doesn't look like it from the angle of this shot, but that wheel DOES go 'round! We were also playing with bars, seeing what looked like what. Drops, yeah. Low risers, yeah. H-bars? nah. Don't really look right on this bike.

From TPP
The rest of the parts for Eric's bike have been ordered. He was originally going to set it up modestly bling...but shiney parts got the better of him, and it'll be fully kitted out with White Industries(yes, I am a dealer now. If you want some swanky WI stuff, let me know!) and Thomson. This'll be a looker when all is said and done.

From TPP

Hopefully, by the end of the week, we'll have a runner here.

I've got another one here to go on about too. Wayne is a regular customer, and general all around good guy. One of the types that you're happy to have around riding with you. Besides being an enthusiastic bike rider, he's also a fervent hunter. He wanted to combine the passions, and came up with this:

From TPP

Bow mount for the Pugsley. He's really enthusiastic about getting to his hunting spots with this bike. What was a 20-30 minute walk now takes him 5 minutes.

From TPP

From TPP

Sand, snow, thick leaves, farm fields, trail, road, mud. This bike simply floats over all of that in pursuit of game. I love the concept Waynes got here, and will be purchasing a Pugsley for the store and set it up in the window to catch the wandering eye's of local hunters looking for a better way to get out there. A quick google search shows that there just may be something to this. Hmmmm. What about fishing? Ohh. There just may be something to this.

Speaking of H-bars, Jeff Jones created these Ti wonders a few years back. Its taken a while, but they're really catching on now. They're firmly entrenched in the alt bar wars.
From C1X

Titec came out with a licensed aluminum version a couple years back to ease entry into the alt bar world. While that low entry price worked, the bar was admitedly....ugly.

Fast forward to this years interbike show, and Titec done made us all proud and introduced a 'straight' version!

Clamp diameter is 31.8, but the rest is all standard 22.2 fair for mountain bike parts. Nice to see this out there. I have one in the store now for $90, and can easily get more. Stop down and check it out, eh?

Listening to: Tom Waits; Franks Early Years Vol. 1

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Of racing and riding and training.

I've never been a hard core racer type. I'm certainly competitive though. I just don't like driving to all the races, and paying the entry fees. Call me cheap.

But I do get out and race. And have a good time doing it too. I'm maybe a top-of-the-mid-pack-fodder for the most part, but occasionally have a good day. That makes it all worth it in my mind. When everything fit together.

Everything fit together pretty well last weekend at what has now become the traditional 'end' to the season in the area. Decorah hosted the something-ith annual nightshift bike race. A very low key, very fun event. What makes it fun is the people it draws. You'll find shop rats from LaCross, Viroqua, Plattville, Dubuqe, and now, PdC. Kinda cool. Anyways.

I headed over with Ryan after running the shop all day. He generously lent me his Light & Motion Stella light. A small, helmet mounted (THE way to go) LED light. Man that thing just blows away the lights I ran years ago. Halogen? Phhhpyt. Those things are a joke now. So we got there in plenty of time but fiddlefarted around in teh parking lot too long. Long enough to miss the start by about two minutes. So I didn't start exactly where/when we were supposed to. We went the wrong way looking for the start so that ate up more time than it should have. We waited for a few riders to go by, then we jumped in. I felt surprisingly good considering my knee is still acting up from the hyperextension back on the cross race weekend. I ended up riding behind Ethan Hartig from Dubuqe for most of the race. Ethan is a 13(14?) year old ripper of a rider. The kids good. The course opened up a bit and I was able start passing folks on the way to the finish. Ended up 16th over all, and 'first' in class. Both Ryan and I are honest guys though, and gave up our places to those who actually started where they were supposed to.

So that was that. And coming up in the future is this. Probably going to be one of the hardest, if not THE hardest race I've attempted. I sent a psotcard to Issac, the organizer of the Ragnarok 105 race held up in Red Wing MN. The course is 105 miles of gravel road goodness. Like the TransIowa, the coruse isn't marked. At the start meeting, you're handed tulip sheets, or cue cards, with directions printed on them. Getting lost is a distinct possibility. Seeing as how the race date is April 18, getting cold is almost garanteed. Hell, it could even snow. There will be for sure be snow on the north slopes.

So now I have to get a training plan in order. Something to keep me in shape thorugh the winter. Training for a specific event isn't something I've done before, so this'll be interesting.

To that end, I'm looking at doing the unthinkable. Having trainer rides in the shop all winter. Nothing too serious, but something to keep the wheels spinning.

listening to: MPR, The Current.

PS: VOTE! Please. Find time in your day tomorrow to cast your vote.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tragedy and Pain or Whats Eric looking at now?

I've got a customer, Eric, who like any true bike geek values his steeds highly. They're all personalized and unique to their owners riding nature. And, like any bike lover, he's equipped for nearly any riding situation, be it snow, trail or road. And of course each of these rigs was put together painstakingly slowly, bit by bit as he found what worked for him and what didn't. The more interesting part is that Eric and his wife moved here(he's originally from this area) from Austin TX about a year and half ago. Since then he hasn't been riding a ton for a few reasons. Since finding my shop though, he's been a regular, and enthusiastic attendee for the rides, and I can count on him showing up in the shop on Friday and uh doing what bike guys do.

But all that passion and effort literally went up in smoke a few weeks back. Eric kept his bikes in a tool shed along with other stuff you'll find on a working farm. This includes lots of flammable fuel. Most certainly something that any of us would never want to have happen to our own collections. Receiving the call from Eric telling me what had happened was hard enough. Going through it would've been tougher for sure.

From The Prairie Peddler

Pugsly, Karate Monkey, and Raliegh road.

From The Prairie Peddler

What's left of a Pinarello Surprise.

From The Prairie Peddler

Thomson stem that WAS black and a cardon bar.

From The Prairie Peddler

Yeti FRO and bits.

From The Prairie Peddler

The barn.

Thankfully, insurance is doing what it actually should for once. The whole kit'n kaboodle is being covered. This is proving to be fun for Eric, and benefiting the shop. Both of us are getting to play with build options that are....unusual.

So what IS Eric looking at? The first bike coming into the store is a Rawland Olaf.

These are sold primarily as a 650b or 27.5" mountain bike. As my friend Ben has happily discovered, they will also accept 2.1ish 29" rubber, making for a very versitle bike. Eric will be setting his up initially as a 650b, testing the waters. This will be a fun build up to document(as will all of these), so check back, eh?

Now I just have to get a camera... Yes, BOTH of my camera's took a dump on me. At least the Nikon is repairable. Having fun looking for a point-n-shoot though.

Listening to: RadioHead Weird Fishes/Arpeggi from Itunes Genius mix based on Iron + Wine; Boy with a Coin.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The First Prairie Cross is in the Bag!


First a BIG thank you to all the volunteer help. I don't think I said it enough yesterday. All you volunteers did a tremendous job. Couldn't have done it with out you.

Second, thanks to ALL the riders who came over. Turnout was good with about 40 riders total. Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and of course Wisconsin were represented. From all the talking I did with racers afterwards, every liked the course, even though it ended being harder than anticipated. Was it the lenght? Or was it the soul sucking long gradual climb right in the middle of the loop? Or was it the heat? MAN was it hot out there! 80+ degrees hot. Talk about unseasonable...And there I was wearing black. Go figure.

My race went uh...poorly. I was off the back almost immediately. I foolishly let out too much air from my tires at the start line. I thought it would make the bumpy course a bit smoother. Not so. I had to ride SO gingerly that first lap. I was waaaay off the back almost immediately. Oh well, I'll jut suffer along and hope I can catch some one by the last lap. Well, I DID catch someone [Dale] who promptly pulled a Benken[long standing inside joke from the 'kato scene] on me. Completely took the wind outta me and my effort. I fell back again and suffered through the heat of the last lap.

I need to give a big thanks to Renee and her crew from Madison for supporting us and coming over. She's the brains behind MadCross, and puts a ton of effort into expanding the 'cross world here in WI.

Will I do it again next year? You betcha! And I sure hope to get even more riders here. For a first year event, I'm glad that 40 showed. Lets me find the errors while they're small and unobtrusive. Will I go for full WCA series calendar status? Probably not. I like keeping this affordable and fun. Should bring out more racers/riders that way.

Some photos: credit for them to Dale. Thanks for coming up from Ill-noise Dale.






In other news, it appears that Mike and I are working on the same bikes. Odd that, since he's in Northern California, and I'm here in Wisconsin. His last two posts in particular are eyebrow raising. I swear I've had this conversation about bar tape with Gita as she's ambling about the shop babbling about babies and puppies.

There must be something in the air with camera's too. Jason seems to be having issues with his stuff too. As any photographer will know, it sucks being with out your gear at any time. If that time happens to be now though. During autumn. With out. a. camera. hurts!

Listening too: The Current. In the mug: black gold from McGregor Coffee Roasters.