Finally, after quite a bit of preparations, I took the Troll on it’s maiden voyage overnight bikepacking trip. Not really having a route in mind, I set out from my family’s property in the Southeastern Ohio county of Vinton for a day long ride that would end at high point of the family lands. This kind of ride has been long overdue, so I took my sweet time with it and ended up with a 7.5 hour ride, that only covered around 40 miles. But what a sweet 40 miles they were, that completely wiped me out. The miles started in the woods, with some great mountain biking, a little bit of hike-a-bike, a rocky downhill straight out of SoCal, some back roads, some gravel grinding, and lots and lots of climbing. The Cincinnati area has nothing on this type of un-glaciated Ohio hills.
Enough with the words, I will let the pictures tell the rest…
I haven’t seen rocks like this since my trail time in SoCal… McGee Rd.
Self portrait at the end of McGee Rd.
County Rd. 17 in Vinton County.
Tar Hollow state park entrance.
Sharp turn at the top of a killer climb.
Gravel grinding on park rd. 9.
My new best friend, a Black Rat snake.
Gravel grinding continues on park rd. 39.
Black and white view of the forest firetower.
Even though it completely drained me, I wasted a set of brakes, and bashed my rear derailleur on a few rocks to push it out of line, it was a great way to spend the day. Some changes are in order for round two, when that day comes.
Almost forgot this short clip of loaded descending:
Just keep spinning…
Still have not ordered my new frame yet, but the parts that I have ordered are slowly starting to trickle in. Today welcomed my Chris King headset, hopefully tomorrow the Brooks saddle will arrive so I can start the process of treating the leather.
Photo from Brooks.
If you have ever thought about a Brooks saddle before, you might have read a little about the break in period. Some sources say 250 miles. Others say up to 1000. Some people will tell you to cook the saddle in the oven at low heat for a bit to soften the leather. Sheldon Brown (RIP) preferred to soak leather saddles in some type of oil to soften the leather. Holy crap, lots of options. What is my plan? I am going to go the safe route and follow the directions on the box. Sure, it is probably going to take longer, but it will be done right. As long as the saddle ends up with dimples for my butt cheeks, I am okay with that.
The other thing that I have been obsessing with as of late, is to order or not to order the new frame. The Troll frame comes out of the box with enough rack and fender mounts, etc. to take the bike across the country. The “new” version due in March has even more. So, the question is to wait or not? Do I need the water bottle/anything cages on the fork?
Photo from Welshridething.blogspot.
I like the idea of the anything cages on the fork. The question is: Are they necessary? I am still debating that.
As soon as I can move this, then I can really start the process at full speed. It is weird to think that at this point, I am at any speed but…
I feel that this sticker sums up my month long experiment. Kind of in a dirty way, but still sums it up.
Tonight’s ride, in the rain, was a quick little jaunt to the grocery store to buy some beer. Only around 4 miles total, but a nice quick ride, late in the night. This was also my first time loading up the T500, which it surprised me quite a bit. After riding it for a while with the flat bar setup, I had forgotten that it is a tried and true touring bike. I did not even notice the weight of the 10 bottles of beer strapped to the rack. True, not a lot of weight, but you would expect to feel something. The only time it was noticeable was when I stood and danced on the pedals while climbing. To get the beer home, I used a canvas reusable grocery bag, a ratchet tie down strap, and a bungee cord. Worked pretty well, but I think some panniers are in order for this bike!
At work, we are doing a holiday beer exchange. Six people bringing in six different holiday brews, and everyone take one of each. Pretty straight forward, and easy idea. My selection is from Clipper City brewing, their winter Heavy Seas. The other selection I have wanted to try for quite some time, North Coast’s Old Stock Ale. I really like North Coast, so I am sure this one will not disappoint.
Tomorrow is day 20, planning on a morning ride to mix it up a bit. I cannot believe how fast this month is going, 2012 is almost here.
After spending a little more time on the T500, I have already begun planning some changes to the final set up. I have decided that this bike is going to be my “poor man’s Rivendell.” Have you ever heard of Rivendell Bicycle Works? Basically, they make bikes that everyone should know about. I say should, because I doubt many people do. Their models have a retro feel, but at the same time is very classy and functional. And their frames are working pieces of art in my opinion. Take a look at some of their work:
These are just a few models to give you a feel for what they are all about. Basically, they make bicycles that will last long enough to will to your kids when you die. Before that happens though, you can ride them everywhere and back, probably while carrying enough gear to keep you comfortable. So, the changes to the T500 that I am pondering:
-First, a Brooks saddle.
-More cruiser type handlebars, or possible mustache bars.
-Tweed or canvas, older style bags for the front and rear.
-Front rack to support the handlebar bag.
I think with these minor changes, it will make a fine version of a “poor man’s Rivendell.” With these changes though, all of the parts would swap to a Rivendell frame, which start around $1000 and go up to $2000. Quite the price tag for just a frame, but factor in the fanciness, and the longevity, and that upfront price tag is not as bad as it seems. Not a bad price for a working piece of art.
Photos of Rivendell models are from their website, go check it!
Earlier this year I picked up an older Cannondale touring bike for my wife, thinking she might want to ride a bit. Normally I do not go out looking for bikes for her, but I ended up getting an amazing deal on this one. This bike has an interesting story though: My friend has had it in her basement for years, holding it for her friend who needed a place to put it while in college. But this bike was not just some recreational toy, it was ridden completely across the country! My friend’s friend, bought it only to ride across the nation, and when she came back home, she stashed it in my friend’s basement. Wow. Great history on this bike. So what am I going to do with it?
My plan from the beginning was to turn in into more of an “errands” bike. Sure I have my cargo bike, but sometimes it is just too much. This bike would fill that gap. Also I figured that my wife would like a road bike in this setup, but maybe later in life, as for the moment, no. Luckily, my wife and I share similar size bikes!
Road bars are gone, in their place is an old set of mountain riser bars. Since it was an older bike, it came equipped with a threaded fork. A stem adapter was installed to enable me to use the mountain bars and stem. New Avid FR5 brake levers, and an old Shimano friction shifter round out the bars. The friction shifter will move the Deore rear derailleur across the 8 cogs on the rear wheel. Hopefully this setup works, I do like a single chainring up front. Still more to do, so here are only teaser photos:
Spending lots of time on the Xtracycle here lately. I have been putting in quite a few miles, loaded and unloaded, trying to get ready for my upcoming bike camping trip next month. Still not too sure on my route, but it will be a 2 or 3 day journey. I have never done anything like it before, so I am really excited about it. Anyway, I have been trying to tackle all of the tough hills in the area, and last night, I conquered probably one of the best hills in the greater Cincinnati metro area. Cunningham Rd. from Camp Dennison going into Indian Hill. The photo below does not do it justice. Very steep.
Today, I scored a new bike. Technically, just half of a bike. Finally bought a unicycle! I have been wanting one for quite some time now, and I found one on the local craigslist for $25, so I bought it. Quite possibly, one of the hardest things that I have ever tried to do. Tonight, I spent around 40 minutes just trying to balance on it, to no avail. I did end up going as far as two pedal strokes, but man is this hard. I will be lucky if I can ride around the block by the end of the summer. But, that is my goal, baby steps with this bike. I will say though, in just that short amount of time, it wore me out. Crazy.