Friday, April 15, 2011

I Am The Bandit Cobra Verde

The little stories people concoct for themselves, the stories that are supposed to explain why they're failing--- those stories are boring. Muttered excuses, told more for themselves than for the listener, imply that it's not their fault. Although I might catch myself thinking those stories, I'm not telling them to you.

I've been rolling with some pretty strange punches that have been thrown my way. I've been making good on some long-neglected promises. I've been cutting out the negative. And I just edited the phrase "trying to" out of each of the last three sentences. Fuck equivocation. I am not just trying, I am doing.

I have gained some perspective in the past few weeks. I have stories, not excuses.

Shall I catch you up on what you've missed? This will take several posts. Part one, Cobra Verde, the gravel bike. The Cielo earned a name after a few good rides these past weeks. It is named after the bandit slavetrader Klaus Kinski plays in the Herzog film of the same name. Cobra Verde is strange, tough, intelligent, and brutal. Incognito, and confronted with evidence of his own treachery, he reveals himself calmly: I am the bandit Cobra Verde.

So it seems Bruce Chatwin's influenced my naming for another bike. Songline was intentional, but this time I completely forgot that Chatwin was the author of the book this film was based on til afterward.

Here comes Trans Iowa. Cobra Verde has some new features for this race and beyond.

New custom wheels from Bike29 mean I can finally stop swapping my road wheels back and forth between bikes. These are my idea of the ultimate endurance gravel/dirt cyclocross wheel: Gold Chris King Classic Cross hubs and Stans NoTubes Alpha road rim, with triple butted spokes and gold spoke nipples. Road tubeless keeps it light and means I can maybe not worry as much about getting lots of flats. I've been riding them around enough already to know they are really exactly what I am looking for. Thanks to George for making my weirdo perfect wheels. He pretends he only wants to build 29er mtb wheels, but look at these.

I don't have much attention span to devote to tires. Some people, however, do. Specifically, El Diablo Wisell, who seems to have memorized 75 different tread patterns, matches tire to trail like he's matching food to wine, and can rattle off the actual (not claimed) weight of a freakishly wide variety of tires. He got me some of the cyclocross Small Block Eights, which I've been riding around and like pretty well for a gravel tire. They are maybe on the skinny side at 35mm, although on these rims they seem to have a pretty wide profile.  Also, without tubes I run them a bit lower pressure, which seems to balance out ride quality. I know the Small Block Eights have been on the market for like seventy years and thus are a boring and predictable choice, but I really do like them.

I put on this ENVE carbon fork too, which is fantastic and light. This fork works great at soaking up road vibrations and at being stiff handling the bike through corners. Also, it works great at looking cool as hell, like the sharp front carbon fiber teeth of Cobra Verde.

I am still messing around with the setup for the race. I want to minimize the weight on my back, over that many miles it could be a real killer to have a heavy pack. The mtn feedbags are nice, but really take up a lot of room on a road handlebar. Still testing and tweaking the arrangements of frame packs, back packs, Awesome Straps, and other elements. This is just one of the many different aspects of this race's logistics, and every day it gets nearer and I get more focused on the task ahead.


  1. Great blog and bike! Looking forward to mixing it up with Cobra Verde next Saturday in Iowa.