Next week I am planning my first off road bike packing trip, so this morning I was up at sunrise with the Troll fully loaded and out the door. My plan was to ride on different surfaces, and try to follow the Buckeye Trail as much as possible. If you are not savvy to the Buckeye Trail, it is a hiking trail that goes around the entire state of Ohio. Unfortunately, the trail is mostly on back roads, and very little of it is on actual single track. Furthermore, what single track there is, is usually off limits to bikes. But horses are allowed? Makes no sense to me, but I will save that rant for another day.
Luckily, the Buckeye Trail goes right through my little town of Milford, so I followed it east, towards East Fork state park. All on pavement until I came to the dead end of Ross Road, which is in the photo above. This was my first loaded off road section with the Troll, and it handled beautifully. This part of the trail appears to have been a completely usable road, that the county must have decided to let die. The trail was made up of broken pavement, dirt, and lots and lots of rocks. Very interesting downhill to say the least. This section made me realize that my brakes are very underpowered. After this off road piece, I was dropped into the town of Batavia and almost to my destination.
From Batavia I rambled along St. Rt. 222 to Elk Lick Road, which then connected to Green Briar road. The Buckeye Trail follows Elk Lick to another dead end, but I continued up the hill on Green Briar to see if I could find a campsite in East Fork state park. Green Briar dumped me onto Old Rt. 32, which connected me to Zagar Rd. which I found a single track trail that should have put me at a backpacking campsite. Unfortunately, I could not find the campsite, so I turned around and found this gem of a road:
This old dirt road off of Zagar Rd. was a broken down gem. Broken pavement, gravel, and ended as a single track, and put me back onto Green Briar Rd. Very interesting to see roads fall off of repair, and get turned into trails. Also, pretty interesting to see how quickly the marks of man gets erased off of the planet in such short time. Makes me think of the book, “The World Without Us.” Definitely worth the read if you are into that sort of thing. Anyway, once back onto Green Briar, I followed that back into Batavia, retraced some of my tracks, ended up on US Hwy. 50, then back to the comforts of home. Total saddle time of almost 4 hours.
Things learned from this ride:
1. My brakes need upgraded. I am running Avid BB5s, which I am thinking of switching to Avid BB7s. I am most familiar with BB7s, but I also am thinking of switching to hydros, but they cost way too much, with too much maintenance for my taste. Anyone have recommendations for a good, economical set of hydraulic brakes? I’m all ears.
2. I need to rethink my packing. I am only planning an overnight, but I found myself running out of room for gear. I might still have to use a backpack, which I was trying to avoid. Now that they seem to have come back into stock, I will be picking up a Salsa Minimalist rack to run on the rear to add a bit more cargo space on the bike.
3. I love my Brooks saddle.
Not a bad way to start the day, next week should be an adventure!
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…
On Wednesday, I set out on my first bike camping trip. My plan was to ride from here in the Milf, up to John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs along the Little Miami bike path. Just a basic bike path overnighter. I finally today mapped it out on the website Map My Ride, Click to see the route. Overall it was a great experience. Lots of miles, thunderstorms, friendly people, beautiful surroundings, etc. Such a great learning experience. Hopefully this is the first of many. Here are a few pictures from the trip, I didn’t take too many, forgot that I had the new camera with me…
So what did I learn from the trip?
1. Putting in this many miles for me was very humbling. My knees are a little tender as I write this.
2. Always practice setting up your gear at home before you leave, that makes setting up camp in a thunderstorm a little easier.
3. Recumbent bicycles are everywhere, and they are a little creepy.
4. People love the Xtracycle. Even if they do not understand what it is. I should get paid for how much talking about my HaroX that I did. Lots of people wanted to stop and chat to try to understand just exactly what was going on with my bike.
Cant wait to head out on trip number 2!
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.