The Surly Troll is an amazing bicycle. Quite possibly my most favorite bike ever. Yes, I just said ever. One recurring problem that I have had with it however, is that when my wheel is positioned a bit farther back in the horizontal dropout, the wheel decides to slip on the chain side. This causes the tire to shift awkwardly and pushes the tire into the chain stay, stopping your forward momentum. While running smaller rubber in the back, this is not an issue, as the wheel can ride all the way forward. But, with winter coming, and I have wanted to roll out on some larger tires, this was just not acceptable. So that said, enter the Tuggnut…
The Surly Tuggnut is a handy dandy $30 piece of stainless steel that fixes this slippage problem and also cracks open those pesky pry off bottle caps on your favorite beverage. It was so easy and straight forward, that I was surprised that it came with instructions. It’s not rocket science, took just a couple minutes to install.
Here are the two things that I do not like about it:
My first complaint is that it has a shiny sliver, chrome like appearance. I would prefer it in black, but to each his own. This one shiny part on my bike will be covered in mud anyway. Second, the bottle opener does not have much clearance with my derailleur, so to use it I will have to turn my bike over like I am changing a tube. Maybe if I would just man up and make this bike a single speed, then I wouldn’t have to worry about that…
Overall, this is a very handy piece of metal, and I am pretty glad that it ended up on my bike. I can now run larger tires without the dreaded wheel rub. And also, I can now drink more beer while on my bicycle. Well done Surly!
For all of those not paying attention, this coming model year is going to be stellar for bicycles. Need further proof of that? Check this Cross Check:
Yes, that is a Surly Cross Check. True, not a new model. Here is the kicker; this bike is now offered as a single speed complete, set up with mountain bars! This is the Cross Check that I have always wanted to build. Well done Surly!
Be sure to check out their blog this week, they are planning on dropping new products every day.
Pic from Surly’s site, also check out what looks to be a Krampus with an even fatter front…
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…
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…
Just in case you don’t read the Surly blog….
Well done Surly! Bar raised again…
Since I have been out of town for work, I have been off of single track for a couple weeks. My plan for the day was to be out before the sun rose and riding at East Fork state park. Unfortunately, there was a quick downpour that delayed my start time, but I still was on the trail by the late morning. While East Fork drains very well, and Ohio has been exceptionally dry lately, I figured that the rain would be soaked up by the extremely parched Earth which would leave primo trails. And primo they were, nice and tacky, with pretty amazing traction.
One part of the system that did not soak up the rain however, was the multiple bridge crossings. So the photo above shows the aftermath of a tight corner, taken a little faster than it should, and sliding off of the bridge. After doing a somersault off of the obstacle, checking that the bike and myself were okay, (Yes, in that order) I was back on the velcro like trails laughing to myself.
The point of all of this rambling: Do not trust wet wood.
Just keep spinning…
While out and about yesterday in Ocean Beach, I spotted this beauty chained to a post outside of a local establishment. I love to see bikes like this getting some action. Well done San Diego high wheeler!
Now if only Surly would build one of these!
Just keep spinning…