This is going to be a long one, so feel free to break up my rambling into sections... or just give up completely, I wouldn't hold it against you. I've been in Chariton for a full month now. Things are good... I think. It is hard to determine what is a success and what is not. I won't say failure because worst case scenario the cycling community stays stagnant and people just do their own thing. I guess it is easiest to break it in the good and the not-as-good.
The good: I have had at least two other people every week on our Tuesday night road ride which heads 15 miles, gets some food, and 15 miles back. People are now riding in pacelines, and starting to understand pulling and rotating. I would guess the average is six people. Connecticut Yankee Peddaler is catching itself up. We now are carrying more cycling clothing, and have been steadily selling bikes while still staying ahead of our labor schedule. We now have the beginning of an in-town trail/path system that hopefully will provide the community 10-12 miles or safe roads/paths/sidewalks to ride on.
The not-as-good: It is the same people every week, so I am not really seeing growth of any kind. People are still far to cautious/ skeptical about going out for a ride of any kind of distance, and I can't figure out how to push them. The in-town trail has legs, but needs many more people supporting it for it to happen at all. I still can't convince people that $600 for a road bike is not "a lot of money". I have worked on more bikes that, to put it lightly need to die, than I can shake my head at.
Another month and a week or two more to go. Hopefully some strides will be made soon. I think people want to help, they just don't know how yet.
Riding has been a downer for me just like for everyone else in the Midwest. I haven't been able to get on good singletrack, or get a good gravel ride in for a few weeks. I have done a decent amount of road riding, getting 100 miles or so in a week. I tried to head out on some gravel last week and failed miserably. I rode myself into a level b road that was just too much. 90 degrees and five inch deep mud just sapped all of my energy as I trudged for 30+ minutes to cover seven tenths of a mile. I had hoped for 60, planned for 100, and covered 26... epic fail. I have a "Road to Nowhere" that I ride two or three times a week. 20 miles with 700 feet of climbing over 8 climbs. It's a good work out, and can be done in close to an hour if I am motivated... it has also successfully blown up a co-rider each of the last two rides.
Speaking of riding and gravel I finally made my choice. I am totally freaking out about this bike. If you haven't checked out my facebook lately (good for you) I have been obsessing about what cross bike I was going to get. Let's just make it clear right now that the bike is going to be my gravel bike. I want a bike for Transiowa next year, Dirty Kanza, and those other types of races. I love doing them on a singlespeed, but I would like to see what I could do if I could keep up from the beginning. That being said, I have always said that I wished I could get excited about cyclocross. I know it doesn't play to my strengths, but the environment is always awesome, and 'cross is just plain fun, so I needed a bike that could handle both. This ruled out bikes like the Salsa Vaya (too gravel oriented) or something like a carbon Ridley (very race oriented, no bottle mounts). So far I have "decided" on a: Trek XO2, Yeti Arc-x, Specialized Crux Carbon Pro, Salsa Chilli Con Crosse, Redline Conquest Team. Literally was ready to order each one of these at a specific time, but it never quite worked out. I have spent a lot of time talking to Matt Gersib, Salsa team rider, and throwing all of these ideas around. I formally met Matt at the Bone Bender race and we were on the same page immediately. Matt has been in the endurance game and does really well. We talked a few times during Dirty Kanza, and I am lucky that I get to dip into his wealth of knowledge in regards to riding, bikes, life in general. Anyways, we had been talking about how Salsa is really changing the direction of their company and seem to be catering to people who love the adventure. They are catering to people who don't consider a wrong turn wrong, its just another way. Check the line up out if you haven't. In my opinion, and for me personally, Salsa is doing more correct than any other company in the cycling industry. I don't think they have a weak link in the line-up (except those small wheel bikes, but I'll let it go). Back to focus: we talked about bikes, talked about possibilities, and talked about road blocks in the way of obtaining them. Well, thanks to Bruce at Healthy Habits and Matt for hooking it up and helping me out this is seemingly going to be the build of my new geared 'cross bike (a couple things are coming off of the road bike for now):
Frame: Salsa La Cruz Ti
Fork: Winwood Carbon (have to figure this one out)
HD: Chris King - Pewter
Bars: Deda Zero - gunmetal
Stem: Deda Zero - gunmetal
Shifters: Sram Rival
F&R Derailleurs: Sram Rival
Brakes: Avid Ultimate - gunmetal
Crank: Sram Rival
Seatpost: Thomson Masterpiece - black
Saddle: Specialized Phenom - black
Wheels: Chris King - pink, laced to DT Swiss RR 1.1 rims
Tires: Michelin Jet - GREEN
Some things will change but this will get me through the cross season this year. Eventually the plan will be to go to tubeless and then I'll just get new parts for the road bike.
I have one other thing but I'll save that for tomorrow after another 30 mile taco ride. Hopefully I'll also get to report that we had more than six people.
Also I can't figure out how to get pictures up on here when not on my Mac... Windows can suck it.
2 days ago