August 2010


Last night was the last CC of the year and the second in a row to be ruined by a very precise downpour. It’s sunny at 4, sunny at 5:30, is that a cloud at 6?, 6:20 – it’s raining. And at 6:45? A bright sunset and 100 rainbows.

I have to wonder if God doesn’t have it in for the Custard Cruise, but I just can’t figure out why.

It’s a perfect idea. Perfect!

It’s family friendly and safe. It’s a short ride – attainable by even the most infrequent of riders. It’s a small independent business directly supporting another local independent business. It’s FREE! and it’s OLLIES!

This is the third year of attempting the event and we’re going back to the drawing board next season. An event with this formula (family+friends+bikes+FREE OLLIES) should attract legions. Somehow, though, we’re missing something. If you can help us figure that out, we’ll be happy to buy you some custard.

I thought I’d take a minute to clear up our current Group Ride schedule.

Believe it or not, organizing and sustaining a solid group ride is one of the trickiest parts on my job. It’s very hard to corral riders to be at the same place at the same time. Even if you do, it’s still a task to try and get everyone to understand each other. It requires an inordinate amount of communication.

But it is very, very worth it.

Riding with a group is an excellent way to expand the sport of cycling – even if you don’t compete. I’m speaking mostly about group road riding. Group rides help you excel as a rider in many ways. You become a better bike handler when riding with other people – as a matter of survival. Group riding is a good way to meet other riders of similar riding skill and interest. It is also a great way to test and increase your fitness.

Our goal in publicizing group rides is to grow the cycling community. We want riders to meet each other and inspire each other to ride more. Bring a helmet, bring a friend, and come on out.

Tuesday Nights Р5:15pm Р25-35 miles, 20mph avg. 

Tuesday nights attract avid road cyclists, most of whom are training for road racing or triathlon. The average speed when the ride is over is around 20mph, but that means the average speed is truly 22-24mph during the ride. Riders on this ride are accustomed to riding as a group and often work together in an echelon when the wind is up. (There is always wind in DeKalb). Typically the ride is “no drop” until the wind is at your back.

Thursday Nights – 5:15pm – 20mi, 17mph avg.

Thursday nights are road rides aimed at more casual or newer road riders. Experienced riders help newer riders learn the skills necessary to ride in a group. While this is not exactly a “No Drop” ride, there is an effort to keep the group together. It is more likely to have riders fall off the front of this group – which you are free to do if the pace is not to your liking.

Saturday Mornings – 7:30am – Whoever shows is how it goes

Saturday mornings are often a more relaxed ride, 18-25mi, with the occasional stop at Shaun’s Deli in Sycamore. There are days when the majority will vote for a longer, faster ride, but people will generally agree on a route and split up if they don’t.

Saturday Mornings – 9am – Ladies’ Road Ride w/ Emily

The Ladies Road Ride is hosted by Emily Anderson and is open to women riders of all skill levels. Come on out, ladies!

Despite having 8 days to plan and promote the event, I think the Salsa Cycles Preview Night was a success. Dave G had come a long way in a short time and rolled into town around 3pm. We rearranged the floor to exhibit the new goods and once again celebrated the luxury we have in a good space.

We had a good turnout of local and regional attendees. We’ve learned that good brands attract good people and this event was just another example. The environment was amiable, welcoming, and relaxed. At sunset, Fire Chief Tyler Grey McK. got the campfire going outside. Eventually the party simmered down around the coals for s’mores.

The new goods were very well received. The Mukluk was the centerpiece of the night, but the Ti models and new Casseroll were also garnering attention.

Russ and I took Dave out for a cross ride the next morning. We showed him the Hopkins course and took him down to Afton for a few loops. I’ll expand on this later, but Afton Forest Preserve is fantastic. This is a recent discovery for us. I rode there on Monday and we found even more trails riding with Dave. It is perfect training ground for cyclocross. There are probably 4 miles of mowed paths intertwined in the preserve.

Thanks to Dave and Salsa Cycles for bringing the goods. It was a blast.

Check out our Flickr gallery for all the photos from the night, courtesy of THE John Campen, Dave G, Eric S, and moi.

When Aaron had said these words, I realized I had never been so emotionally torn in my life – do I break down and weep or do I wet myself laughing? We had just tried and failed the 2010 New Glarus Eleventy ride and, due to certain legalities, were now recovering from the angriest 30 mile finish to 100 miles of good riding south of the Wisconsin border. As the title states, the inglorious end to our day could be seen as “found wanting”, but in the end, it was fantastic.

Let me step back a minute and introduce you to this fine fellow:

Gumby did not pose for this picture. I saw him standing like this for 20min w/o moving a muscle. I think it is his rest position.

This is Arik Gum. He’s a faithful Slender Fungus rider and perhaps the most loyal Saturday morning rider in DeKalb. He’s always happy to be riding and when he was drafted in get into the police car 40mi into the ride, he said “aw man, it was just starting to rain. This is my kind of weather…”

As you’ll remember, the New Glarus Eleventy is a 110 mile ride up to New Glarus, Wisconsin. To get everyone back, we have a wonderful bike bus courtesy of Corey and Team Blonde. (Author’s note: NCC does not condone the painting of women on school buses).

Bus. Corey on top.

Corey’s team has had the bus for 10 years or so and for the last two NG110’s, when asked if you need a special license for it, replies “We’ve had this bus for 10 years and never been pulled over or had any problems at all.” So this year, I thought it would be cool to recruit my father to come along and drive the bus for us. All of the NCC Crew was stoked to hear he would be on board, as he is a great character to have around. Perfect guy for the job.

This is my Pop, orating on the bumper patio of the bus.

So when he first saw the bus, he looked at me and said, “Don’t I need a special license to drive that bus?” I confidently replied, “They’ve had this bus for 10 years and never been pulled over or had any problems at all. Plus, there are so many other potentially illegal things inside the bus that the license would be the last of your worries.”

I’ve said many, many times and I feel it is a statement of my worldview when I say “God’s middle name is Murphy.” Of course my dad got pulled over. The officer even said it was a random inspection and my dad was driving perfectly. The officer said the bus wouldn’t move an inch unless we found someone with a CDL to drive it.

Enter the aforementioned Arik Gum. Arik is a full-time Trucker. He hauls loads of pigs for a living (and would do the same today). He had decided to ride the NG110 the day before and we’re very glad he did. When my dad gave the officer the cue sheet for our ride, another officer drove out to find us. He was actually a really good guy and quite accommodating to let Arik throw his bike in the back of the squad car. We particularly enjoyed the little “piggy” on his antennae:

You wonder if the cop put that there or if he hasn't noticed...

They drove back to the bus and after Corey was issued a fistful of warnings and my dad summoned to court in Rockford next month, they were on their way to meet us in Durand. The rest of us had ridden the 30 miles up and were enjoying our lunch half-naked while our clothing dried out from the rain.

The officers had told Arik his license would be enough to get us and get us home, but because it wasn’t a “passenger” CDL, he’d best not cross the state line and risk getting pulled over again. He could lose his license, which is his livelihood. So when we had all the details, we unanimously decided not to ride on to New Glarus. The majority of the riders opted to ride 3o miles back south to Rockford to knock out a century.

A few of us entertained the thought of riding all the way back to DeKalb, (140mi total) but that idea quickly dissipated when the pace ramped up on the way back. It had already been a hard ride. There were a few kicks in the first 30 miles and our legs were aching as we got back on our bikes. I’m not one to place blame, but, since he doesn’t live here anymore and came back just to tear our legs off, I will tell you that we were hammering because of this man:

Jay "I didn't take these Jawbone's off for 8 hours" Barre

Jay is ex-NCC, now WF. He’s down in Springfield riding uber-mileage and the kid’s just plain blessed with the giddyup. He posted a write-up for this ride on his blog, The Chrome Fork Chrown, but failed to admit that he was bringing the pain. I’m glad he did. It was fun. The 30mi back to Rockford was fought well. We had a stiff headwind and I think it is hillier going south. (joke). There were 15, then there were 8, and then there were 4 riders that toiled to keep the pace up. The Nevdal brothers and myself kept up with Jay, but it took everything I had.

We started to feel quite special when no other riders came in for 5 minutes. Then 10. Then 15. We thought we had just smeared them and then found out the next groups had made some wrong turns. Everyone made it back eventually and everyone was happy it was over. It was a balmy 88 degrees by the end of the ride.

So that’s what put us in the parking lot of the Road Ranger on the south side of Rockford drinking Miller High Life. A team of 20 thirsty riders can make quick work of 2 30packs, let me tell you. We pointed the bus towards Fatty’s and headed back to DeKalb.

I love that bus.

Thanks to all the riders, drivers, officers, and Road Rangers that made the Non Glarus 100 possible. It was an all-star cast of players and I was glad for every person there.

Thanks to Joel and Ryan for a handful of pics. See all the photos here.

It’s our pleasure and honor to announce a special event taking place next Wednesday here at North Central Cyclery. Salsa Cycles will be here to show off a handful of their new and never-before-seen bikes and components for the upcoming 2011 model year. The event will feature¬† product giveaways from Salsa and NCC, Test Rides (after a precursory background check and DNA sampling), Campfire,¬† Weenie Roast, S’mores, and, of course, beervezas.

The showstopping addition to the Salsa lineup is the new Mukluk.

The Mukluk is Salsa’s new snowbike and you’ll be able to see it live and in person. (Well, you’ll be in person. It will be in bicycle). We’ve already been told the Mukluk is going to be a tough bike to get a hold of, so we’ll be taking pre-orders at the event.

Another pair of beauties that are hard to obtain that will be present at the event are the Ti Mariachi and Ti La Cruz models – complete and ready for test rides.

The Ti Mariachi made a cameo here last winter. Our first Ti Salsa, the Ti La Cruz, finally arrived last week after being on order for months! The Ti family from Salsa will be growing this year, but you’ll have to stay tuned for more info on those new arrivals as they come.

Also making an appearance will be the new steel Mariachi.

Other new and never-before-seen stuff will be present at NCC. You’ll have to come and see it yourself. I truly am not at liberty to say what it will be.

Salsa will also have some prototypes of their new line of racks and “gear cages” to show off, too. These are impressive.

The festivities begin at 7pm on Wednesday night. Please feel free to send an rsvp to rideaway@northcentralcyclery.com so we can buy enough weenies, vege-weenies, and s’morestuffs.

Resident Sawdust Philosopher Brian Van finished his construction and installation of some new display pillars for our kid’s bike section.

BVan is the jack-of-all-trades who has kept NCC going in many ways. When I stop and think about it, you’d find his fingerprints in almost every creative construction element on the premises. He’s also a brilliant rider from whom I’ve garnered a wealth of knowledge and lore. Thanks, Brian, for your continuous encouragement and service.

Author’s note: I never realized this, but Brian’s actually very wily when it comes to photographs. This is the “best” photo I could muster of him, and even this one was cropped to be a photo of just him. I don’t know if this is intentional, but maybe it is a result of his years as a professional photographer in the film days. I can imaging him saying something like “I prefer my image to be captured on film; a digital me is insufficient…”

Here are a few other examples of his ability to be ever-present but never in-focus:

Gunnar Ruffian w/ Surly Karate Monkey fork painted to match. Sold!