Monday, March 23, 2009

Breaking in the season.

We're getting quite busy here at the shop. I already have a TON of repairs to keep up on. Its been a little tough getting back into the swing of it, knocking out repairs, talking to customers, placing orders, paying bills, etc. I had such a good handle of that last year. I know I'll get it back, and soon. I love having stuff to do.

Been out riding too. Gotta get ready for the Ragnarok 105. At this point, I'm just hoping to survive. Plans were afoot to put in 60ish miles today - but radar is showing a cold rain heading this way. I don't mind cold, and I don't mind rain, but that combination? Hrm, not so much. I'll find a way to make it all up.

a barn!
For Jason. Kinda hard to find a midwest photographer that doesn't like the old barn theme. Its amazing how much they say, with out saying anything.

the road ahead
The road ahead.


We've got stickers on the way[bigish bumper style], and more Tshirts are coming too. I've been cleaned out in terms of clothes lately, so expect to see more shorts and jersey's in soon too!

We're also starting trail building sessions at Badger Camp. Last year, Ryan and I were out there doing a lot of marking, but little to no construction work. That's changed this year. We have enough marked that we decided to get out and start digging yesterday. And it felt good. We got between a 1/2 and 3/4 of a mile complete, ready to ride. We'll take the Pugsley's out to pack in the next few days, and BAM!, just like that some ridable trail. No pictures though, forgot the camera at home. I fail. Next time though! We're going to start up a regular work session day out there soon. Probably two Sunday's a month. I've got the email group set up, just have to emial all who were interested.

The season is just starting to get good, and I'm getting excited. Get out and ride!

Listening to: The Replacements//Let it Be

Friday, March 13, 2009

Things I like: the Cane Creek 100 Headset

Remember this? The first installment was on the Andrews King Cage, way back on like my third post here. I meant to keep it up more frequently than that. I think it'll just end up being one of those infrequent things that comes up when I find something that really impresses me.

Like these headsets! For a long time, if you wanted a quality headset, you had Chris King(no relation to the above cages!), then maybe highend Shimano or Campy. That was it. Nada. Sure there were upstarts back in the CNC era, but none of them really stood a chance against the King juggernaut.

Until the threadless era came about. Dia Compe(now Cane Creek) came up with a simple collar to aid in bearing compression. Everyone who makes threadless headsets licenses this split ring. Everyone save for King. And this is where King fails in my mind. Sure, nice headsets, they come in pretty colors, and they charge an aweful lot for them.
From new bikes

That green thing? Yep, thats the ring. Now integrated into my pick for the best headset on the market.

Why do I think its so good? Good enough to best the king of them all, King? King once had the market on sealed bearings. They were the first to really perfect the sealed bearing in this application. It took a long time to match thier quality. Welp, good for us consumers, sealed bearing technology has caught up. The bearings in the 100 are quite nice, moving effortlessly even under finger pressure.

From new bikes

From new bikes

The way the parts are machined are very high quality. Everything fits together just so well. Like any high quality part should. The spacers have nice collars machined into them, kind of like a nesting set. The taller one is even relieved on its interior. Nice touch.

I think my favorite part though is the fact that there's not a logo to be seen. Its a very subtle headset that doesn't scream how much you spent! Speaking of spending, that's probably the best part of this whole deal. For something with easily the quality of King(not to mention a better warranty), it retails for well under a $100! Heh, I could even have to your door for under $100.

Yep. I like this headset. A lot.

Listening to: KDEC, Decorah, IA. 100.5,

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Singular Swift = Ridden!

Muddy logo

It was one of those rare moments we have this time of year here. 99% of the snow has been melted off, leaving dirt behind in the woods. Typically, this means traveling in the woods is not recommended as the temperatures are above freezing, but not really warm enough to dry things out.

Such is not the case today. As I type its 16°f. When I rode this afternoon, temps were in the low 20°'s. With last nights single digits, I was guaranteed a nice frozen trail to ride! So I slaved away at work, eagerly anticipating my first date with the Swift.

I wasn't disappointed.

The bike handles very well. Steering is easy, almost effortless. Changing direction happens quickly, but not so fast that you can't recover from any mistakes. There really is a remarkably light touch to flipping the bike through the trees. Nice! Sam did a really fantastic job in coming up with the geometry on this bike. I know he did some voodoo with the front end trail figures. Stuff that I really haven't been able to wrap my head around quite yet. What ever he did, it works. And well.

begging for trail

Climbing was another revelation. A while back, I owned a bike that many considered a benchmark for how it rode. Specifically, how it climbed. I could never get on with that bike. It left my stable pretty fast. This bike though. Night and day difference. Scampers right up climbs easy as pie. Standing and hammering suits it well. Positioning on the bike is spot on with a flat bar and short, flat stem. Seated climbing was much the same, but I didn't really get to test that part today.

Singular Swift

Listening to: Iron + Wine//Boy With a Coin

Monday, March 2, 2009

First year down.

YES! We made it through the first year! Its hard to believe that just one short year ago, The Prairie Peddler was just getting up and running.

From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

This was what I started with. A nice empty space. A blank slate to imprint with my personality and passion.

From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

Opening day. It hasn't been this clean since.

From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

You'd have thought that starting a business in the spring would be a good idea. Then the heavy machinery moved in[yes, I knew about it!]. Nothing like having your street torn up for a few months while you're getting started! Surprisingly, that little fact didn't slow traffic down. I did twice the repairs I thought I would be doing. People found me, that's for sure!

I've sold a few really cool bikes.
From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

From The Prairie Peddler - creatin the Shop

Saturday am ride
And worked on few cool ones too. No pics though. I'll save that one for later!

I've also got a new website up for the shop. Something a bit more static that won't change a whole ton, but has good information on it. Check it out! The Prairie Peddler

So to thank everyone, there's a sale going on - EVERYTHING in the store is on sale. 15% off 2008 bikes. 10% off 2009 bikes. 15% off all accessories. Come on down and lets get the 2009 season started right!

Listening to: The Current

Cold? Bah! Its time to ride! Pugsley's out and having fun.

Its chilly here in the hinterlands of Wisconsin. Normal temps this time of year should be near 40. Thats shorts wearing territory folks. Yesterday was maybe in the 20's with a nice brisk north wind, putting temps on the decidedly cold side.

So what did we do about it? Sit inside, curled up with a hot cuppa tea and a good book? Paint? NO! We flipped off Ma nature, escaped to Iowa and road. Off road. On super hard packed snow and ice. And we had a ball.

We were all [all three of us] on Surly Pugsley's. Those 4" tired monster bikes that the creative minds of Surly have put out. I swear that thing is one of the ten greatest bikes ever made.

Dirt track.
That 4" wide footprint does absolutely remarkable things for traction. Yes, even on ice. Without studs.

yeah. the glare is ice.
Yes, you do have to be extra careful when travelling on ice, but it is utterly remarkable that you can ride on it. Even climb up hills. This bike totally defies logic.

Its all about balance. Keep the bike straight. Keep the bike upright. And be ready to tripod it!

This snow was so hard, you could have nearly ridden a 28c tire and not punched the crust. It was SO fun. And very fast with an amazing amount of traction.

Sorry. Porn moment. The Pugs found a suitable cougar to mount.

In the end, yes, we all fell. We all did several 180* spins. And no one got hurt.

And for those locals wondering - Volga River State Rec Area.