The road to the Dirty Kanza 200

13130962_10208278559513071_5753160353656082043_o-2by Don Lee

I was riding on the Tuesday night Founder’s ride a few weeks ago and Elliot Cooper and Sally Finkbeiner were talking about the Dirty Kanza 200 gravel road race. I don’t exactly remember how it came up but I probably mentioned that I’d like to do it at some point. I’ve read many accounts, mostly from John Despres Facebook page and I was intrigued. I always like to have a story…

It turned out that Jane VanHof had an entry to burn because she had some family from out of town visiting that weekend and wasn’t going to be able to use it. Sure enough I called her and went through the transfer procedure and there I was. Four weeks out from a 200 mile gravel race and truthfully, I had no clue. No ride, no place to stay, maybe some of the gear that I need and no support.

The good news is I’ve been riding. I have about 1,000 miles in so far this year. I took it really easy this Winter so I’m feeling fresh and was ready to be back on the bike when the weather started getting nice. I guess the other piece of good news is that I like endurance racing, I’ve done a bit of it and I seem to be able to stay on the bike for long periods of time and suffer.

So, how to prepare? The nice thing about the Tuesday night Founder’s rides is meeting everybody for beers after. I was able to have a great conversation with Elliot about tire choice, gearing, difficulties of the course, parts preparation, and every other nugget of wisdom I could squeeze out of him. From the conversation we had I decided to run 42 x 11/28 on my Canondale CX-1. I’m also planning to run Clement X’PLOR MSO 700X36 Tubeless on Velocity Aileron/Industry 9 Pro-build wheelset. I’ll also bring both pairs of Clement MXP and PDX in case of inclement weather. Which from what I understand, tire choice will make zero difference anyway. Or as Chris Jensen stated, “Whatever tire you choose will simultaneously be the best and the worst choice you can make.” Options…

I also had a long conversation via FB chat with John Despres. We talked about gear, spares, contingencies and more about the difficulties of the course and logistics of support. He sent me his gear pack list and some photos of his Salsa Warbird. His list smartly consisted of what he carries in which bags on the bike and also what he packs in the feed bags that are sagged by his support. From those conversations and the list he sent me I decided to go with the Revelate Designs Tangle frame bag and Pika seat bag. You need to measure your bike for the Tangle as I discovered in a rather unfortunate way by ordering a medium and large to “try them out” only to discover that the small is the only one that will fit in my frame. So, if you’re looking for a medium or large Tangle Frame Bag, give Justin up at Alger Bikes a call.

How to get there? Facebook can be a great resource in a time of need. A simple post, albeit a little pathetic, and I had a ride and a place to stay in the DK nether-regions of remote Kansas. John Despres, who is apparently the West Michigan ambassador to the DK was literally “Johnny on the spot” not only for myself, but also Josh Duggan who was going through similar trepidation about getting there, having support and I suspect gearing up. A ride and a place to stay. Check!

So, now to get in some miles. Evan Wilson had a century ride that he’s been planning of a few months that conveniently peaked at the highest point in the lower peninsula. With DK boasting some pretty tough climbing on parts of the course, we figured a formidible day of climbing and distance would be just what we need to test our DK legs.

I packed out a CamelBak with everything I needed for a century with the idea that this is what I would kit up with for the DK. I have an old ToPeak Alien because it has EVERYTHING including a chain breaker, a Ziplock with enough Scratch Labs powder for two bottles, Serfas Micro inflater w/two COs, Cannondale AirSpeed Max mini-pump, half a dozen GUs, 70 oz. of H20 and assorted bars including Erg Bars, Clif Bar Protien, and Luna Lemonzest because – if you try it you’ll know.

Joel VanKuiken, Josh and I decided to see what we could do pace wise for 100 miles. We weren’t killing ourselves by any stretch, but with a 20mph headwind sometimes gusting to 35, we certainly earned all of the KOMs we didn’t get. It was a tough 100 miles but we managed it in about 5 and half hours with an average speed of just under 18mph. That was very much due to the tailwind we enjoyed on the return trip, which but for one flat and some really fun and fast riding, was relatively uneventful.

Up next… Support and getting the gear together.

2017 Cannondale Scalpel Si Team

Alger Bikes has been selling and servicing Cannondale Scalpel’s for a long time. We’ve been graced with the newest Scalpel launch just as Cannondale is launching this great new bike nationwide. Come get your first look starting 4/29/2016.

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This new scalpel got many of the treatments the F-Si did last year, including the new offset lefty, laid back head angle and AI rear end, all changes to help you go downhill faster and more confidently.

We’re pretty excited about it, and we’ll share more as we get a chance to ride it!

Winter Rush Fat Bike Race Series

There are still three races left in the Winter Rush Fat Bike Series.  All races are at Indian Trails Golf Course in Grand Rapids. The clubhouse is open for all races – cash bar and limited chow available. Join the FatbikeGRR Winter Rush Facebook community for additional info.

Remaining dates:

  • the Ulfberht | Sunday January 24
  • Gnarbourg | Saturday February 6
  • Arrow of Cupid | Saturday February 13

Alger Bikes Fat Bike

Memorial Day Ride or F-SI Carbon 1 (second post)

2015-05-25 15.51.51

2014 Cannondale F29 Carbon 3 on the left, 2015 Cannondale F-SI Carbon 1 on the right. On the bridge at Luton Park.

I’ve managed to get two more rides in on the F-SI this week. Don and I went out on an extended ride on Memorial Day. We met at Cannonsburg Ski Area, got rained on a bit (ok a lot), in fact enough that we wondered if we’d be forced to leave so as not to damage the trail. We ended up doing two laps as we could tell as soon as it stopped raining that it still hadn’t soaked in, so no mud. I go uphill a little faster than Don, but he goes downhill and around corners well, so we’re good at pushing each other. The rain actually made the trail conditions great, fast and decent traction. We stopped in the parking lot, cleaned up our bikes a bit, then rode over to Luton Park for a lap. We traded the lead over to Luton, again pushing each other, a lot more fun on the trail. When we dove into Luton I almost immediately caught a rock with my foot, Don was in the lead and I arrogantly told him to go and I’d see if I could catch him. He ended up waiting near the end of the Orange loop. We traded the lead through Luton and then split up at the 10 mile lot. Don is getting ready for Lumberjack so he needs the miles, I am not. Getting back to Cannonsburg, I had 32 miles in. Still getting used to the saddle, but not bad. Don Finished about 40 miles I’d guess, as he rode over to Merrell. He crashed and bent his derailleur hanger, but sounded happy with the ride. I really like this bike. It handles very predictably at speed, it accelerates very well, and I can’t quite believe it, but it’s darn comfortable. I’ve got 50 miles on it so far, and I’m starting to think I might not change anything. I was expecting to need to change from the Fabric Scoop Shallow to a Radius instead, but I’m finding reduced pressure from this saddle and I can move around on it more than the saddles I’ve been using. I think the seatpost is providing some needed suspension. I’m going to break down some more of the components in a later post. Love the bike. Oh, it’s 22 pounds. Brian

2015 Cannondale F-SI Carbon 1

2015 Cannondale F-SI Carbon 1

2015 Cannondale F-SI Carbon 1

I got out on my new F-SI May 24th, for the first time. My choice of this specific bike took some time. I have ridden A Carbon Scalpel 29 for a couple of seasons, and still love that platform. That bike just makes me faster, and it doesn’t beat me up. Last season, I found myself without a Scalpel, so I started riding my single speed rigid Cannondale Trail as my primary bike. I’ve ridden single speed before, so it wasn’t a big surprise that I enjoyed it as much as I did. I just decided this year that I wanted to have that hard tail experience again, but sans a couple of pounds and with the option of a great suspension fork. Once I’d decided on the F-SI platform, I of course had to decide on the parts kit. I like SRAM components just fine, but I really like the Shimano XT brake, Mavic Crossmax SL wheels at 1520 grams, and the carbon Lefty. The maiden voyage took place today with my family, certainly not the fastest of rides, but between enjoying them in the woods and the feel of the bike, I’m going to have a great year. More to come. Brian.

Pugsley Necromancer Update/Upgrade – Bob Hammond

I’ve decided to do a less traditional fat bike “build.”  I’m using my Pugsley Necromancer as the base. Most of the parts will still be used, but modified. I love this bike. I’ve always been a fan of steel bikes. They’re flexy, more forgiving, and the tubing has a memory. The frames will flex, and always return to their original position. And the frame geometry is perfect for all seasons of riding. This is my only bike, so I use it in the spring and summer, fall and winter. The Necro had a Shimano Deore long cage 9 speed derailleur on it. I like to jump my fat bike and I’ve been dumping the chain regularly. I also need some meatier tires for winter.

The Necro awaiting its' new parts

The Necro awaiting its’ new parts

I’m keeping my wheels the same. Rolling Daryls laced to Phil hubs. Why Phil? Why not? Phil Wood makes amazing products. Not doing anything with the frame or fork, they’re amazing the way they are. I love the bb7 brakes, they work well in all conditions and are far less expensive to fix if anything goes wrong.

I am a fan of a 9spd drivetrain. The cassettes are spaced wider so they shed debris well and I think they wear longer. It’s also a little more forgiving in the shifting. With a 10spd system I’ve found everything has to be adjusted perfectly for shifting to work well. The chains are also narrower, which means they generally wear out faster and are more prone to breaking. Case in point: Iceman this year. Not to mention that replacing a 9spd drivetrain is far less expensive than a 10spd. The thing that’s missing is a 9spd derailleur with a clutch, which should help me keep my chain in a jump. No one makes one. After some research and calculations, I think I’ve found a solution.

Notice the wide spacing and awesome-bombproof Phil hub.

Notice the wide spacing and awesome-bombproof Phil hub.


My plan is to use a 10spd Shimano SLX rear derailleur with a clutch, and a 9spd SRAM x9 rear shifter. I’m going to use a spacer to raise the pinch bolt on the rear derailleur, which changes the pull ratio. SRAM uses a 1:1 ratio and Shimano uses a 2:1 ratio. This makes it so that you really can’t mix and match the two brands because the length of the cable pull between shifts is different. By using a spacer on the rear derailleur, it should change the ratio of the cable pull, thus allowing me to use a Shimano clutched derailleur with a SRAM shifter. I’m also going to run an X9 crankset with a Wolf tooth direct mount chainring. The X9 cranks are great. They are stiff, have a spiderless mounting system and they come with a new bb at a reasonable price. They’re pretty light too, not that I really care about that.

The X9 shifter I originally intended to use.

The X9 shifter I originally intended to use.


I used a SRAM 9spd shifter that I already had. They no longer make X9 9spd shifters. You’d either have to go with an X5 ($28) or an X0 ($134) 9spd shifter if you wanted to go with a trigger shifter. A lot of people are going with the grip shift shifter on their fat bikes lately. They have fewer moving parts internally, which makes them generally last longer than a trigger shifter. They do make X9 grip shift shifters still ($41). The main thing you need is a SRAM ESP/1:1 9spd rear shifter.  I decided to try an old X7 grip shift shifter. I like the idea of being able to dump all the gears if I ever need to. There are some tight, technical trails around GR that would be perfect for this setup. Being able to go from 1 to 9 in one quick motion is pretty cool.

I then installed the cranks. There are now a bunch of different manufacturers that are offering fat bike cranks. The Surly cranks don’t really give you the option of running a single ring up front. They also don’t make a narrow wide chainring. The narrow wide chainring helps prevent the chain from falling off the front, it also reduces flex and allows me to run smaller than a 30t chainring.

X9 Crank with Spiderless Wolf Tooth ring.

X9 Crank with Spiderless Wolf Tooth ring.

I went with a Shimano SLX 10spd rear derailleur ($79.99). After I mounted the derailleur, I installed the 6mm spacer between the cable mounting surface on the derailleur arm and the pinch bolt. This, in turn, raises the cable 6mm, and pushes it out slightly. What this does is change the distance that the cable pulls. SRAM uses a ratio of 1:1, while Shimano uses a 2:1 ratio. This is why you normally can’t mix the 2 brands together. The distance that the cable pulls is different between each shift.  I then adjusted the derailleur as normal. It shifts perfectly like they were meant to work together.

Pugsley Build 1Pugsley Build 2

Special touches that only the friendliest of machinists include.

Special touches that only the friendliest of machinists include.

Custom made block (thanks LB)

Custom made block (thanks LB)

First Impressions:
This is awesome! I get to keep the 9spd, and I get a clutched derailleur. This prevents the chain from dropping off the front chainring. I could always get the chain to drop on a traditional, un-clutched rear derailleur if the conditions were rough enough. So far, I haven’t had any issue with the chain dropping. This makes me very happy. Also, I actually love the grip shifter. I haven’t had one on any of my bikes and I’ve always been skeptical. You usually only ever see them on entry level bikes. I love that I have the ability to shift through more than two gears in one quick motion. I don’t have to click multiple times to run through the gears. Sometimes it’s the little things. Speaking of shifting, it’s on point! With the new spacer added to the rear derailleur to modify cable pull, I have zero issues with shifting. It’s perfect, every time. Shifting is nice and smooth; there’s no hesitation or jumping. I kept the 11-32 gearing with a 30t front chainring, and haven’t had any issues. When I do need to replace the cassette, I’ll probably go to an 11-34 or a 12-36 to get a little lower gearing.  It’s easy and effective. It’s also awesome knowing that when I need to replace a chain, I can replace it with a tried and true SRAM PC951 chain for only $24.99 and a SRAM PG970 ($48) or a Shimano XT ($79.99) cassette. So I can replace an entire 9spd drivetrain for less than $100 with high quality parts, versus 10spd, where I’ll easily spend $50 more for the comparable parts. Oh, and I forgot to mention the Surly Nate 120 TPI tires I installed, awesome traction – I’m sure I’ll appreciate that more once it snows again.

In-Store Black Friday Sale


It’s Black Friday Sale time! 2 days only…score up to 40% off in-store purchases Friday and Saturday. You have to stop in the shop to see all the deals, but here’s a sneak peek to wet your whistle:

  • 30% off most clothing, shoes, socks, and helmets.
  • 30% off lights, saddles, hydration, bike computers, bags, tires, pumps and more!
  • Up to 40% off 2014 and older bikes as marked.
  • 10% off all 2015 bikes including fat bikes.
  • 10% off kid trailers.
  • Fitness products on sale as marked.

Click right here to see our store location.

Open Friday 10 am – 6 pm, Saturday 10 am – 4 pm. Valid for In-store products only. No web sales. Back order and special orders available on some items.


2014 Iceman Race Report – Brian Walquist

Just before the start.

Just before the start.

Iceman generated some stress for me this year that it hasn’t in quite a few years, I just don’t get nervous about the start of races anymore. Most of it came from wave assignment. I’ve done this race more years than not (think it’s 15). So I was quite surprised when I received my wave assignment and it was 34. As many of you’ve been through this process, that’s not what I was hoping for. Since the beginning of the wave assignments I don’t think I’ve started further back than 4. Fact is they couldn’t find record of my participation, probably because I took a couple of years off. I can’t believe the demanding, frustrated, sleepless jerk I became. I spent way too much time on this, in the end our QBP rep Jeff Beuerman came to my rescue at the Expo and got me into wave 4.

The weather was the same for me as everybody else, cold and rainy. I was able to hand off my jacket to my dad and Pat who also ferried my vehicle to the finish – which was a big bonus I wasn’t planning on. A start like the Iceman is in my blood. Criterium was my start into racing so I know how to move up and get a decent position into the first corner or into the woods, as is the case here. I kept moving up for probably the first 3 miles and could still see the top 3 from my wave at the 10 mile mark, but as the ground was continuing to soak up water it slowed us down and I found myself pushing a big (48-18) gear rather than turning it over as I thought I’d be able to. So they finally got away from me.

My bike of choice was a Cannondale Trail SS 29’er Single speed, and pretty basic with the exception of the wheels, which were built using Velocity Dually’s with a 3″ Knard on the front and a 2.25″ Racing Ralph on the back, both set up tubeless. Where a great many people were losing traction or sinking in, my “Mid Fat” wheels rolled fast, provided great traction, and floated like a fat bike. Additionally, because of the single speed setup and the hefty chain Bob Hammond (our head mechanic at Alger Bikes) put on my bike, I had no drive train problems at all.

I mentioned the gear I was running earlier, it calculates to about 19 mph at 90 rpm, and I like to spin. I was expecting to move pretty fast for most of the race, and run 4 to 6 hills. In fact I said openly I was going to go fast as long as I could, and maybe explode and lose lots of time near the end. That’s basically what happened. The last few hills were excruciating. I was cramping in the quad and hamstring both. I expect I lost 5 plus minutes in that last 5 miles because I couldn’t stand up and power through the hills anymore.

In the end 2:23 was a decent time, 12th in my age group, injury free and able to enjoy a few beers with 5,000 of my closest friends in the rain. Awesome. When do we sign up for next year?

One last thing. My training this year came in a very different form than it has in the recent past. I joined 8th Day Gym in Grand Rapids just over a year ago. I’ve been attempting to work out there every day for the past year. I say attempting because I’ve been trying to adapt my body to this way of training, and it’s working, but I still can’t handle it 5 days in a row. It’s different than cycling, of course. And no I don’t think you can do CrossFit alone and race bikes fast, you still have to ride. I’ve been riding 1 to 2 days a week though, and I’m pretty darn happy with the results. I woke up Sunday morning after this race without any pain. At 45, I’m pretty happy about that.

Me, post race attempting to get the feeling back in my fingers.

Me, post race attempting to get the feeling back in my fingers.


Knee & Arm Warmers For Fall Riding

Arm and Knee Warmers

Like a lot of cyclists, I’ve experimented with a lot of clothing and arrived at ways of dressing that keep me comfortable on my bike in a lot of different kinds of weather, oh and I’m the first one cold on almost any ride. As it was cool at the beginning of September, you might find you need some in between clothing. For this cooler weather I often wear a breathable layer under my jersey, arm warmers, and knee warmers. I also might add a pair of baggy shorts just to put a second layer over the core.

I like my cycling clothing to be flexible, meaning I get to use it together with other pieces as frequently as possible. I don’t like spending all that money on a piece of clothing that only gets used a few times a year. Knee and arm warmers fit this flexibility. I lead an early Saturday ride, the temperature can change a lot between 7 and 9 am in the spring and fall. So I can start my ride at 7 when it’s 40 degrees and if it’s 60 by the end of the ride I can remove the knee and arm warmers and they fit in my back pocket, they don’t take up a lot of space. Keeping your knees warm can also improve performance and keep some pain away, at least my knees hurt less when they’re kept warm.

Love the Ride!

Brian Walquist / Alger Bikes

Pearl Izumi Sale

Now’s your chance to score some killer Pearl Izumi clothing, at some killer prices. All in-stock PI items are currently 25% off and are available in-store or online – while supplies last. > Click to browse the sale items…you will like what you see!

Pearl Izumi Sale