New Bike Day

New Bike Day.  It’s like Christmas, when you’re a kid.  And if you are one to piece together, and build your own, the fun level is even greater, up to that moment you jump on and take it for the first ride.

I was one of the ones slow to accept electronic shifting.  It seemed gimmicky, possibly pointless.  Fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.  Even 11 speed at first seemed a frivolity.  Until I noticed the ergonomics of the new levers, and the superb and effortless shifts of the new Shimano groups.  Then, on my mountain bike, I experienced hydraulic disc brakes.  So then, the big “S” decides to do Di2 and Hydraulic, in the same package.  Sounds weird and futuristic, but interesting.

So, I pulled the trigger on a Bish Bash Bosh.  It’s a Gravel/Adventure bike, from On One/Planet X.  It has through axles, disc brakes with internal routing, and is designed for mechanical or electronic shifting, if you so desire.


Initially I thought I would be just moving components onto this bike, from another.  But the lure of the ST-R785 DI2  proved too great.  Especially for this kind of bike.  Shifting that is forever spot on accurate, with no gritty cables to foul things up, a self contained brake system that is, simply, astonishingly good – a bike that can be ridden on all kinds of roads and surfaces

– tarmac, concrete, soft hard and wet dirt, gravel, agricultural access fire forest service minimum maintenance roads, all kind of dry wet rooty rocky flat and technical trails – with little to no ongoing maintenance or tuning required.  It makes sense.

So, I have to admit, even before riding I was converted, but after a few rides, even more so.  Di2 is awesome, it is fantastic.  Just like everyone has been saying.  And paired with hydraulic brakes, of which Shimano’s are the tops, it is dynamite.


And the frame – the Bish Bash Bosh?  I’m liking it, liking it alot.  This size really suits me, with a 55cm top tube, which is a big thing.  And I am really liking the handling/geometry as well.  While I appreciated the stability of higher trail bikes, I was starting to realize I wanted something with snappier handling.  And this seems to be it.  71.5 degrees plus 52 mm fork rake, yielding 62mm trail with 700×35 tires.  No white knuckle gravel downhills yet, but so far, so good.

And one more quick note about the new bike – the wheels.  I am a wheel builder, by the way.  H plus Son, maker of the popular Archetype (and other) rims, has a new offering, called the Hydra.  It is a disc specific rim, with a tubeless inner profile.  It comes with an anodized finish, in grey or black, with the same kind of good looks H+Son is known for.  The exterior width of the rim is 24.5mm, and they actually come heavier than they have been spec’ed at, about 460 grams.  And so, these rims very suitable, if not perfect, for tubeless tires in the common gravel/cyclocross/mixed surface sizes.  Which, by the way, if you ask me, if you aren’t yet running tubeless tires on your gravel bike, you really should, because you’re kinda’ missing out.

I built the Hydra rims up with Wheelsmith DB15 straight pull spokes and DT 350 Centerlock hubs.  Just over 1600 grams. Nice.  Running currently Continental Cyclocross Speed tires.  I know, they aren’t supposed to be tubeless.  Low pressures, way low, is the way to go.

I build wheels.  @customwheelsmpls on Facebook.


NE Iowa Gravel

It’s been over a week, but still it gives me happy thoughts.  Being a city dweller, riding around on quiet, picturesque, rural gravel roads is a bit of a treat.  I’ve been riding bikes purposely on gravel roads for a few years, so this is nothing new to me, but not usually with the same kind of pleasure and enjoyment I did on this day.  It was a bit of adventure, as I did not have a detailed route to follow.  I had a compass (built into my bike computer), a rough plan of a route, and a rough idea of the distance I wanted to cover, which helped me decide when to turn back.

I started in Decorah, made my way out to Freeport, then almost to Waukon.  Then I found my way back, a different way.  Along the way, I took a turn down Lower Dam Road.  It brought me here.  Cool, huh?
IMG_20160529_100915341After a brief stop, I carried on.

I had hoped to find the Sattre store, along the way.  I crested a hill, and there it was.  And not much else.  A cold Coke and a short break sitting out front of the store was exactly what I was hoping for.  Later in the day I heard some interesting tales of this place.  I wish this place and the new owners well.


A little later, I stopped at this place.  Only wide enough for one car, and I actually saw two cars almost collide.  (sort of)  There were many, many birds flying around this bridge, swooping and diving.  I don’t know what they were, but I’m sure they were chasing and catching some kind of insect.  Didn’t see any fish, though.



I saw quite a bit of wildlife.  Deer on a few occasions.  Eagles, vultures, turtles.  I came upon a mink, looking like he was laying on the road, belly down.  Like I see squirrels do on hot days sometimes.  I saw some snakes, too.

There was a pretty sight around every corner, really.  Great gravel roads for bike riding, and challenging hilly terrain.  It really couldn’t have been any better.


Mill City Cycle

I’m going to say, it’s official.  We have our tax id’s.  Officially a business in the state of Minnesota.

For now, we are going to specialize in custom hand built wheels.  We will be building some inventory, and making things available for sale through this site.

And we can take wheel orders here as well.  No problem.  We’ll be adding pages soon, and more detail.

We can make you something like this.


Or this and this

Mountain, Road, Touring, ‘Cross, Gravel.  Wheels.

We have a Facebook, too.

Planet X London Road Official Review

Well, it’s about time I said a little something more about this bike.  I’ve taken it, or it’s taken me, through two not particularly easy gravel events, and a few hundred miles of commuting, give or take, at this point.  So how is it, right?!

59466558-TMB_7071 (1)Well, it’s great.  It’s a fantastic bike.  It is superb on the gravel, on the trail, and the commute.  Though I’m currently riding mixed condition somewhat aggressive tires, it is very fast.  It is truly a bike for any road, and all conditions.  And it handles them all well.  Well done Planet X.  Great design and execution, and at an incredible price point.

Planet X

The Dickie Scramble was my most recent event, and a pretty dang good test for this machine.  There was much climbing, and seemingly endless slogging through a relentless headwind.  Some very fast and twisty descents as well, both gravel and Tarmac.  But then — a treacherous steep, muddy, and rocky descent and then a similar (except less muddy) ascent.  We call these MMR’s around here.  Minimum Maintenance Road. This could hardly be called a road.  More like a mountain goat path.  But the bike handled all of it like a champ.  It was made for this kind of stuff.


So, yeah I really like the bike.  I gave up two other bikes, both which I quite liked, but it was all worth it.  And I will say this.  For those who have avoided aluminum frame bikes, like I had, you might want to give them another look.  One of the main concerns I had about this bike was “would it be comfortable enough”.  Would the bike gently carry me through 100 mile bone jarring events, or would it beat me up the whole way?  I will say, unequivocably, the former and not the latter.

Roll OutOver the BridgeWhen I get a little more time, I’ll come back and talk about some of the build details and components.

59466557-TMB_8477 (1)

But now, I’ve got to get out there and train.  Because the only thing the London Road is missing now is a better motor!

Another London Road Post

Review to come soon.  Took a few new pictures.  A little photo gallery.


London Calling

I guess this bike (frame set) was released last year, and sold out, but I didn’t hear about it until some time this winter.  I decided I had to have one, and made a pre-order.  A bike swap was attended and items purchased, the pre-ordered frame set arrived in stock and shipped early, and a very promising looking weather forecast had been revealed, which clearly seemed like the end of winter.  And so I find myself, a few weeks later, with a completed Planet X London Road, custom build.  And riding it around in balmy Spring weather.  Awesome!

london road in stock

This is what it looks like.  How ’bout that color, huh?  Zesty!  So what is so great about it?  Well, if it isn’t obvious…


Planet X kind of pitches this bike as a full time commuter and part time cyclocross bike, and potentially a bike with which one could do some touring.  But here in the US, gravel racing is kind of a big thing.  I’m sure there must be dirt and gravel roads in England, but perhaps not to the extent of rural North America.  So calling it a “gravel bike” to an English audience would not make a lot of sense.  Fair enough.

But this is indeed a gravel bike.  And a commuter, a tourer, and a cyclocross bike.  It is a disc road bike, with rough road and off road capability.  Because of tire capacity (40mm+) it can offer a greater measure of comfort than other road bikes, if you desire or need.  But no reason it can’t go fast, too, with the skinny tire bunch.  I think it is a brilliant design, combining things in a way that I don’t think has quite been done before.  In the early days of gravel racing, people were adopting bikes that already existed, but now there are bikes and frames designed and optimized for this kind of riding, and I think this is one of the best.





Counting the Days

Punxsutawney Phil was right.  But at last, we are now days away, to a major thaw and warmer temperatures.

weather chart

The first of the European Pro Cycling Classics have come, and the first gravel event of the season arrives, for me, in less than 4 weeks.

This winter has been spent in preparation – the body, mind, and the equipment – and now it’s just a few more days, to wait for the weather – to get out there on the bike and get on with it!



Looks like Mark Cavendish is back on top of his game.  Cracking!