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…
Quick update on the Troll. After powdercoating, I took the frame down to my local shop, Bishop’s Bicycles, to have the frame treated with framesaver and also to have the headset installed. Picked it up this evening, and started adding parts to make the bike more complete. Here are a few pictures for a tease:
Chris King Headset.
Brooks saddle looks at home.
Avid BB5 disc brakes in the interesting dropout.
More parts being added, more parts being ordered, hope to have everything finished this week! This bike is starting to look like a tractor!
Just keep spinning…
Perfect weather today for a bike ride with my little lady. Spent the late morning on the T500 pulling the trailer on the Little Miami scenic path. Temperature hovering around 60 degrees on February 1st? Crazy, but I am not complaining.
A few more new pieces on the T500 were put into use today. Not too long ago, I picked up a couple sets of panniers from the local Craigslist. Today, I only used the smaller of the two, and they worked as a pannier should. I think though, that they will be a better fit on a front rack since they are a bit smaller, so I ordered a set of these for that purpose:
Salsa Down Under rack, pic from Salsa’s site.
Also, still relatively new is the Brooks B17 Narrow, which I am really liking so far:
I am really liking how the T500 is coming together. A couple more smaller purchases will make it more complete, and ready to hit the trail for an overnight trip. Pulling weight, and being loaded down, the bike is really stable and comfortable. That is to be expected from a tried and true touring bike. Definitely one of the better cycling purchases that I have made in my lifetime.
Not a long ride today, but it was extremely nice to be out and about. Then, with around two miles to go, I felt the familiar feeling of a rear flat tire. Normally not an issue on the trail, but definitely an issue with a toddler in a trailer and no spare, patch kit, or hand pump and it is lunch time. At least it was nice for a walk. That’s the great thing about cycling though, a small little ride turned into an adventure. That is what it’s all about.
As for an update on the Troll, I have been back-ordered. Supposedly, I will be getting my frame sometime in March. Boo.
Just keep spinning…
So the new parts are starting to come in for the upcoming build. Every time that I order something online it is like Christmas morning when it arrives. Such a good feeling, thanks postman!
The past couple days have brought in a couple important pieces. First up was my Chris King headset from eBay. Apart from the faded finish, and some unexpected “hidden” shipping costs from the seller, it was still a great deal. eBay is a gamble sometimes, for example, when an item is listed as “Like new, excellent condition!” you would not expect fading right? Neither did I. Like I said though, it is in great shape still, and was a great deal, just a tiny hassle. Buyer beware I suppose.
Next up came two different packages. One carried my new Brooks B17 Narrow saddle. After lathering it up with some Brooks Proofhide last night, I took a 10 mile or so spin on it today with the T500. Right out of the box, I was quite surprised at how nice the Brooks fit me. Maybe it is due to me riding a little stiffer of a saddle as of late, but the Brooks was not at all terrible. If I am liking it now, I cannot imagine how comfy it will be once broken in.
The last package was one of the most important for a bicycle, tires. Those came in the form of two Maxxis Ardent 26×2.6″ beasts. After installing them on my Sun Ringle Singletrack rims, I would guess that they do not measure out to 2.6″ wide, but they are big nonetheless. Not a bad tread pattern as well:
I am planning on running these front and rear for MTB duties, but I do have the thoughts of putting a Maxxis Minion DHF 26×2.7″ tire on the front. The Troll has big tire clearance, why not use it all up? I think with either of those setups it will make a nice “fatbike lite.” This is probably a bad road to start down though, because it only ends at this:
Photo from Surly’s site.
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…
So on my last post, I talked a bit about dissembling my HaroX cargo bike, and moving the parts to a new frame. What frame you might ask? This guy:
That’s right, a Surly Troll. If you have read this blog before, you know that I am a big fan of Surly’s products. As for the Troll, this is no exception. I was contemplating the Troll when it came out over a year ago, check here and here. It is an amazing frame with lots of options, and most of all, versatility. I will still be able to haul my daughter around, using the free trailer that I picked up this summer. So here is the plan:
Once the new frame is in I plan on taking it over to my father’s motorcycle shop to make some changes. First, the rim brake bosses are going to be cut off. I never plan on using them, it will make the bike look cleaner, and it will slightly increase my tire clearance. After that is done, it will be powdercoated. Not going to reveal the color choice just yet, I will keep that a surprise. Once I get the frame back, it will be parts swap time, and time to add some recently acquired purchases. Parts will look something like this:
-Sun Singletrack wheelset
-SRAM X7 shifters
-SRAM X9 rear derailleur
-Shimano LX front
-Avid BB5 disc brakes
-Avid FR5 levers
-On One Mary handlebars
-Truvativ FireX crankset and BB
-Shimano XTR pedals
And the new purchases:
Chris King headset
Brooks B17 narrow
Maxxis Ardent 26×2.6 x2
That should round it out. I am really pumped to be building this up. But the question now is: Should I order the frame now, or wait til March when the newer frame starts hitting the shops, with an extra bottle mount on the downtube and the extra mounts on the fork legs? What’s a couple more months?
Troll picture from Surly’s site
Other three pics from Google Images
Today’s ride was of a different pace. I have been putting in some miles here lately, and my tires have taken the brunt of it all. Yesterday’s rides both had flats, on both the T500 and the HaroX. So for today’s ride, Big Red got the call from the bullpen.
Not much on the mileage today, just had enough time to run a couple errands on Big Red. It has been a month or two since Big Red has seen any action, but as usual, pull the bike off of the rack and ride. Nothing ever really needs fixed or tuned, just pick it up and ride. Maybe since it is a beater bike, I just don’t care to fix it up, but it sometimes is the most reliable bike in my stable. But it always is one piece away from a total catastrophe. That is part of the appeal though.
Today’s errands had me down to the local bike shop, Bishop’s Bicycles. Picked up a couple tubes for the busted bikes, and chatted a bit about the allure of a Brooks saddle. I can see a B-17 in my future for sure. From there, it was off to pick up some photos and then back home. Only around 3 miles today, but it was still time on the bike. Tomorrow morning, back at it. Half way down…