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Posts tagged “surly troll

Just Riding Along… Bikepacking trip v1.0.

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.


Final destination.

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…

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Just Riding Along… Bike packing test run.

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…


End of the dock…

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Ended the week here in Lower/Northern Michigan the best way possible: With a mountain bike ride at the VASA single track, located just outside of Traverse City, Michigan.

The VASA system is a pretty awesome 15 or so mile loop, through the very interesting Michigan landscape. By interesting, I mean very sandy at times, and unfortunately sandy in the various tight and twisty corners. It took a couple times eating sand to adjust my riding style over the entire trail, but by the end I had earned my sand wings. The trail is tight and twisty, with very fast sections where you can crank out the big ring and really get some speed. Not the most technical of trails, but very enjoyable regardless.

This was a great way to end a very amazing week. Lots of time on the quiet Little Traverse Lake either swimming or kayaking, some urban exploration, lots of euchre, and lots and lots of Michigan beer. For some reason unknown to me, Michigan has some great brews going on. Breweries on our agenda were North Peak, Bell’s, Founders, and Arbor Brewing.

What a fantastic week of relaxation, now unfortunately back to the grind of reality.


Just Riding Along… Urban Exploration, with bikes…

Every family vacation, bikes are brought along for the random chance that we can sneak away for some saddle time. That was the case with today, with the four of us that brought our bikes for the trip.

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The ride started with some road riding, that had us bordering the National Lakeshore. After a few miles along the scenic route, we started to climb to the highest point of the area. Once at the top, we found ourselves at a defunct ski resort, wishing we could find a trail to the top of the former slopes. After checking the surrounding area, and not spotting any “No Trespassing” signs, my brother in law and I with our mountain bikes split from the group to follow a worn double track up the side of the mountain. At the top, we were rewarded with this:

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Surly and Trek taking in the view.

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Former ski resort.

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Overlooking a distant lake.

After spending some time at the top, it was evident that no one cares that people are exploring here, due to the random fire pits, graffiti, and empty PBR cans that littered almost every building. This would explain why there were no “No Trespassing” signs. It seems that the owners of the property just do not care.

Not a bad way to spend a couple hours on vacation, exploring with bikes.

Just keep spinning…


Just Riding Along… Landen Deerfield.

Quick ride tonight at Landen Deerfield park. Small trail, but a pretty solid one nonetheless. It is amazing how much trail that was squeezed into one small area, tucked inside a neighborhood. Definitely not a destination trail, but if you are in the area already, it might be worth your time. Only around 3 miles or so total, so it is a good system to roll some laps.

Here is a video of their tiny rock garden, next time I am there I will try to film the upper area of this section, which is a little tricky. The video makes it looks simple. Thanks to Eric for filming this spot!

Just keep spinning…


Just Riding Along… Day 1 of vacation…

Started off my vacation the only way that I know how, with a nice MTB ride. The plan for the morning was to be up and out before the sun to ride the entire system at Caesar Creek state park. Unfortunately, my alarm did not wake me. That cut out a bit of time from my riding time, so I settled for East Fork once again. Luckily, it is a great system.


Action shot, still trying to figure out my timer.

Great way to start the vacation, more riding to come…

Just keep spinning…


Just Riding Along… East Fork fun.

After work today, I decided that it would be a good time to head back to East Fork SP to ride the Lake Trail again. What a fun trail! I am always amazed at how well East Fork drains after a bit of rain, as it rained this morning, just spotty showers, which finished around 8am. Then, in typical Ohio summer fashion, the heat was cranked to 90 with a huge chunk of humidity. While uncomfortable to work in, it makes for great trail drying weather. Just a few mudholes, nothing major. It is mountain biking.

Stopped at my favorite tree in the whole trail system, this Oak is huge. I can only imagine the stories it could tell…

I am really happy with my tire setup finally. I have settled on running a Maxxis Ardent 2.6″ in the front, and a Maxxis Crossmark 2.1″ in the rear. The Ardent in the front has great traction, especially when cornering, and it’s large size gives me the ability to run a little lower air pressure to give the false feeling of suspension on a rigid frame. As for the Crossmark on the rear, it is a fast tire, but it does have it’s limits. I am feeling it wash out a tiny bit on higher speed corners, but it is nothing unbearable. It is a great combo, and way lighter than running two 2.6″ Ardents. That will be my winter setup however.

Some awesome trail time lately, quite a bit more to come this week, then it is vacation time!

Just keep spinning…