Monday, March 24, 2014

Orange Seal Fat Bike Kit

The Dirty Dog Race Pack is going to try something new in the next few months. We are working on teaming up with to bring reviews of products we use for our gravel adventures. As many of you know gravel grinding is different in every part of the country that you visit, so we will try to let you know what we think works here.

Orange Seal Fat Bike Kit
and extra bottle of sealant.

Product Description: Orange Seal Fat Bike Tubeless Kit
Retail Price: $59.99-$64.99 

Product rating: 4

Product Rating Scale 1: No Way Jose
                                   2: Meh
                                   3: Gets the job done
                                   4: Kicks Ass
                                   5: I don’t know why you don’t own it already.

After a ride, a teammate was telling me about a tire that he had set up tubeless that had blown out. I had never seen anything like it so I started to ask around to see if other people had seen this issue. Eventually I got to talking with Orange Seal through their website. The conversation was about bikes in general and then my new Salsa Mukluk, that was on the way. John tells me, “Well hey. We have a fat bike tubeless kit you should try.” 
Sasquatch the test bike.

As I said the test bike is a Salsa Mukluk with Holy Roliin’ Daryl wheels and Surly Nate tires. The Orange Seal kits come with either 45 mm or 75 mm tape, an 8 oz bottle of sealant, and two 32 mm stems. There was enough tape to make two wraps on the rims. The first wrap I hugged the left side of the rim and on the second I hugged the right side of the rim. A trick I learned is to reinstall the tubes and seat the tire. Deflate the tube, but leave one side seated and remove the tube. This way you only have to try and seat one side with the sealant in there, and with a 4” tire it helps. I put the supplied stems in, put the air to it and that was it. I ended up putting about 6 oz in each tire and haven’t lost any pressure in 6 weeks and 300+ miles. I love it! You can feel a difference in ride quality. I went on a minimum maintenance road and must have got a thorn or something in there, but there was a only a little spat and it was done. No stopping and no flat. 

They now also offer a Sub Zero Sealant that retails form $61.99-$66.99 depending on tape width and is rated down to -30f, which I plan on trying out next winter.
Where I found the Hedge
and Locust thorns.

Summary: This is a really great product that I like a lot. It comes with what they tell you, the customer service is great, and it does exactly what it says it does. The only reason it didn’t get a 5 is because I don’t like the stems. It could be operator error, but every time I check the pressure some how the stem loosens on the rim and a little sealant comes out. A very minor problem that isn’t even a problem.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Arrowhead 135

This is Craig Irvings experience at the Arrowhead 135

The Iowa "team" at the Arrowhead 135 - (from left) Josh Meggitt of Iowa City, Lisa Paulos of Cedar Rapids, Craig Irving of Mount Vernon, Laurie Tulchin of Iowa City, Bonnie Busch of Bettendorf and Steve McGuire of Iowa City. (Jim Glasgow photo)
Six Iowans took the challenge of the Arrowhead 135 ultra marathon in International Falls, Minn., recently. Josh Meggitt and Laurie Tulchin of Iowa City, Lisa Paulos of Cedar Rapids and Bonnie Busch of Bettendorf attempted to complete the route on foot. Craig Irving of Mount Vernon and Steve McGuire of Iowa City rode bikes. Only Irving finished.
By Craig Irving, community contributor
I first heard of the Arrowhead 135 winter ultra endurance race in January of 2011. I was at a winter racing seminar the night before the Triple D, a 65-mile snow race that runs between Dubuque and Dyersville. Speaking at the seminar were two experienced winter ultra racers — Ames native Matt Maxwell and Triple D race director Lance Andre, both of whom had completed Arrowhead in years past. As they told stories of past attempts in the extreme cold, gear choices and tips for staying alive, I found my excitement building. By the end of the seminar, I knew this was a race I had to do.
Off and on throughout the rest of the year I would research, gear test and plan my strategy in anticipation of the 2012 version of the race. I had my doubts as to whether I’d had enough cold weather experience at that point to be accepted into the race (resumes are required for first time racers), but a week or two after mailing my entry in October, the check for my entry fee had cleared. I was in.
Excitement soon gave way to apprehension, however. The reality of the race now started to sink in. The previous year’s race had temperatures reach 40 below, and while I had plenty of winter riding experience, I had never actually ridden in subzero temperatures. As a result, the next few months became a gear geeking obsession.
As luck would (or wouldn’t) have it, the race that year ended up being relatively warm. Temperatures at the start were around 10 degrees and rose to the low 30s as the sun came up, turning the snow into a soft mush for the duration of the race. I finished that year, but it remains to this day the most difficult mental challenge I’ve ever successfully endured.
Despite the difficulties, however, I’d left the race feeling like I’d missed out on a large part of what makes Arrowhead so tough. After all, I wanted to test myself in the extreme cold. I went back the following year, but again the weather was unseasonably warm, the snow was soft and a midrace snowstorm forced me to pull out at the halfway point.
Fortunately, this was the year that I got my wish. With a starting temperature of minus-23 and a forecast promising subzero goodness for my entire time on course, this was going to be every bit the challenge I had been hoping to get.
The start of the race was a bit chaotic as everyone was huddled in the warmth of the check-in shelter until the last possible minute. I pulled up to the starting line just as the race was starting and pulled in behind my friend Don, a rookie racer from Missouri. Our plan had been to ride together, but within the first half mile I lost his wheel as he passed two other racers.
By the time I got through, I couldn’t pick him out of the stream of flashing taillights up ahead so I settled into a comfortable pace and rode my own race. To make matters worse, my front tire was losing air and I had to stop every couple miles to air it up again.
Eventually, I gave up hope of changing the tube in the warmth of the first checkpoint and pulled over to fix it in minus-15 degree temps. At least it was sunny.
After 20 minutes I was on my way again and pulled into the first checkpoint a couple hours later. My girlfriend was there waiting for me and let me know Don had already come and gone. I spent close to an hour there, warming up and eating before heading out for the second checkpoint. I was now in the hillier area and as the sun went down, the temperatures dropped. An hour past sunset my thermometer read minus-20.
I still was comfortable, but not for very long. Another hour passed and I was now having trouble regulating my temperature, sweating on the climbs and freezing on the descents. I couldn’t stop for more than a minute or two at that point, making eating and drinking a race in itself.
I guessed it was probably around 25- to 30-below at that point, but I was starting to feel a deep anxiety and was worried that verification by thermometer might put me at risk of panic. I pushed on, thinking happy thoughts of the cabin we’d rented at the second checkpoint. My margin of error had shrunk to a point I wasn’t comfortable with, so when I finally arrived I had decided to spend the night before heading out again in the morning.
Don was there waiting for me, having been evacuated from the course via snowmobile a few minutes earlier due to frostbite and clothing issues. As difficult as the first day was, the second had to be the one of the best I’ve had on the snow in a while.
I left the checkpoint shortly before 8 a.m. and dove right back into the hills. The recently groomed trail had set up hard and fast and the next 40 miles were a virtual roller coaster ride separated by the occasional flat stretch. I was all smiles as I pulled into Checkpoint 3 hours later, amid looks of alien disbelief as I gushed about how much fun the last section had been.
I stayed long enough to refill my water before taking off again, eager to knock out the last few hours of the race. Over the next 20 miles, I seesawed with another racer, Joe, who I’d invited to stay at our cabin the night before. We never rode together for more than a half mile, but as night fell it felt good to know that there was someone else nearby. Eventually, he rode off out of sight when I stopped to dig some food out of my pack.
I had the trail to myself those last few miles, which in the absence of Don was exactly how I wanted it. As I turned the final corner I saw the finish line banner stretched across the top of a short final climb. Relief washed over me as I rolled through, 36 hours after setting out on my adventure.
Not only had I finally been able to experience the Arrowhead I’d wanted, I had persevered and completed it.

ead more:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I remember early on I wondered "What the hell is SAG?" I had never been a part of an endurance race and didn't really know what people were talking about. So I just continued to train and then racing, pretending I knew what it was. Then I figured out that SAG is the people who help you during a race. Simple enough. After my 3rd gravel event, my friends and are sitting in a Mexican restaurant and someone asked, "What does SAG stand for?" Finally after years of hearing this word I'm going to find out what it means.........

Nov. 2, 2013

For some reason I can't sleep. I'm up making coffee and 3 am. Because of a bulging disc I'm not able to ride today, but I still have an important task, SAG. I start to load the car with everything I'll need. 10 gallons of water fro everyone. A cooler with snacks, soda, and rice cakes I had made for the team. Gotta have my toolbox and floor pump. Then the extra bike rack in case someone can't make it in. I go ahead and pack all of my ride gear in case one to the guys forget something. The HHR is LOADED.Then I think, "Do I use this much shit?" Who cares. The team will have anything they might need. So at 5:45 am I'm on the road.

I'm the first one at Jowler Creek Winery. The Chamois Butt'r tent is set up and Timothy Place is getting ready to start handing out race packs in the dark and cold. For his first time Tim really had things moving smoothly.  Once my teammates started showing up, I get them to the tent and get their bikes ready. Man it's cold. Like mid 30's cold. I'm a little glad I'm not going on this ride. The clothes I'm in don't feel like enough. I feel a little sorry for everyone as they line up. Looking again at the course map I remember what the riders already know, with almost 6,000 ft of climbing in the first 58 mile loop, they won't be cold for long.

Once all the riders are gone from the start, Tim and I go out for our first photo stop. We knew we would barely get there but we could barely get out of our cars before the first group was coming down the hill. So the first few shots were shaky with no tripod. To me it feels colder, but the riders are looking good. Everyone is chatting and excited when the ride by. I can tell that the guys on Dirty Dog Race Pack are getting settled into their rhythm for the day.

As soon as the last rider rolls past it is on the the next stop. The way the course was done this intersection will be a perfect place to set up. Not only is it the 25 mile mark, but it is also the 40 mile mark. As the wind picks up and feels colder I think, "I'm glad I'm not riding in this." Then tim happens to see some riders on the road behind us. Crap, they miss a turn. It's Black Coffee, (insert real name here) Bobby Smith, and Don Daly. They pull up and hang out a bit, watch and laugh as the lead pack comes through. I hear them talking about getting back on course so they head back the way they came. Man I'm starting to wish I was riding away with them.
I'd be tired too if i had just add 6 miles to and already tough course.

More riders tear ass down the hill facing us and grind it out up the other side onward Tim and I I start to smile because throughout the camera I "feel" the looks on the faces. The heavy breathing, the cold wind, the burning legs, and the loos of determination. I want that feeling. Why can't some one else be taking pictures of me? Why can't it be two other guys at the top of the hill cheering riders on?

Then my other purpose for coming today starts. The lead group is back to the intersection and turning to the last 20 miles of the first loop. Everyone up front is a strong rider. Their bodies are more efficient, and they carry plenty of food and water. They won't be out as long as some others will.

Now we are starting to get close to 4 hours on course. This is a hilly, tough course. I know a lot of the people out there and they are out longer than I thought. People are stopping to get the water brought. I quickly drop a scoop of Skratch Labs in if they want. They grab rice cakes or bananas. We add air to tires that are going low. I make sure they still have cue sheet and are feel fine. I end up with leg warmers, a backpack, a pannier, and layers of clothing. After all it is about people figuring out how to pack also. Now I'm starting feel glad that I'm not riding. Do I look that rough on hilly courses?

I pack up and start back to the winery to cheer people in. About 5 miles out I see a person ti the ditch. My job isn't done yet. A rider is just sitting there. I get out to talk with him. He tells me he's fine, has plenty of food and water. He got popped on all the hills. Man this is tough course. I go a head and offer him a ride but he refuses. It's about 5 more miles and he says he is determined to make it on his own. Thats one reason why I like this sport.

So, back to the question of "What does S.A.G. stand for?" It stands for Support And Gear, but for me, at Gravelicious, It meant so much more. Everyone has those races that change their perspective of riding and training. I had one that changed my perspective of the people who help.
Bob Cummings with the Rock Star

A huge thank you goes out to Timothy Place, Jowler Creek Winery, Chamois Butt'r, all the riders, and the little rock star. Next year I will ride with you guys but I would be more than happy to SAG for you too.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Getting Started

For most people CX season is getting into full swing. For us we are getting geared up to start longer, colder rides on the weekend, and fast rides,  mtbing, and strength training during the week. It is a very exciting transition time for us. We are coming down from a season full of long races. O.G.R.E., DK200, Alexander, and Gravel Worlds. Next year will be filled will with other, more challenging races including TI v10.

Last night of indoor training last year.
But for now we are able to enjoy just riding our bikes for a few weeks. We get to go on long rides with an easy pace. Do some rides around town without keeping track of heart rate, cadence, speed. Stop for coffee more often, do bike packs with plenty of full flasks filled with "The Sweater you wear on the inside", and stop at some of the cool places we have found along the way.

The winery on one of our loops

Yes the next few weeks is the best time to be a cyclist. Changing leaves, changing temperatures, and changing seasons. Not only for Mother Earth but for us as well.

Stealth camping at the back of a bean field

2014 will be our second year as a team and we have been working hard to get the word out. We got our website built, blog set up, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. There were/are so many things that I didn't know about managing a cycling team and have spent many hours researching and learning. Like all things now days the internet has been a wealth of information. I have learned how to build websites, how to use social media to boost your presence, and how to write and present sponsorship proposals.

Even on our honeymoon we were working on stuff.

Yes, things are changing and we hope to see you out there in 2014. So follow along or join us on this amazing journey we call endurance racing.