Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bleriot pics- SOLD!

My esteemed first Rivendell- a "cheap" one instead of the fancier Toyo/Waterford ones- has been sold, at least parts of it. I sold the frame, fork, headset (ChrisKing), BB (Shimano), brakes (Tektro Silver) and stem (Nitto), keeping the wheels and drivetrain, along with the Noodle.  I'm sad to see it go, but the oversized QB forever spoiled me on large frames with comfy, laid-out positioning. Au revoir Sr. Bleriot!

650b is not dead upon me, though. I have more plans for this enigmatic size. At my height, this tire/wheel size makes perfect sense, so I'll keep trying.

The Tale of Three Trolls

So, I've had the Troll now for some months and I thought it was time to give my 2cents about how I've experienced it so far. I bought the frame in May after selling my LHT which was showing some rust and age. family-bike-words took it off my hands and seems to be enjoying it immensely. As for the Troll, I moved much of the gear from the LHT directly onto the new mount, including wheels, seat/post, drivetrain, fenders, tires, shifty bits and rear rack. Up front I changed out the Nitto Rando bars for the Jones Loop bars which I had experimented with before.

In out time together, I've experienced three very , if not completely different Trolls, a tri-polar personality if you will. If I focus on any of the given personalities, it very much colors how I assess the long-term viability of the Troll as it pertains to my uses and needs. For this short-term review I'm going to go from most to least enthusiastic. That way I seem a bit less negative, and I do want to start with my Trollthusiam, because in everyday terms, the Troll is a blast!

Troll #1- The Commuter:  I couldn't find a stripped-down pic, but the one below is to show the bike with one pannier chillin' on the side of the road, ready for action. After 7 years of slogging- *very* successful slogging mind you- on the LHT, the Troll is a breath of fresh air. As an everyday ride, I feel that there is nothing the Troll can't handle. And handling is the key theme here. I love the responsiveness of this machine after the labored ponderousness of the LHT. It's quick in the corners, goes where pointed and feels like a BIKE, not a metal 2x4. For city riding it's just plain fun! The Jones bars didn't agree with me for a long time until I did the trick (probably as read from Vik) of adding some Ergon grips to the wide Jones bar. Those grips transformed this bar into a real winner, with comfy hand positions in about 4 different spots and with a wide, secure, stable grip position. Now that the school year in anew and I've had several commutes under my belt, I'm very enthusiastic about the Troll with it's first personality, and I can recommend that bike without reservation.

Troll #2- The Road Tourer: This brings me to the second of my Troll faces, that of the one I experienced on the June 4-day tour we did at the start of the summer. I only experienced this personality for four, tough, hot, flat days through southern Indiana. I already expressed some Troll thoughts there, so I won't be as long-winded here. With some perspective, I remember the Troll being solid while rear-loaded. The Jones set-up gave me hand numbness after a certain number of miles, especially flat road miles. This tour provided a reasonable comparison of the LHT vs. Troll as a road tourer, and I'm afraid the LHT won out. I finished the June tour enthusiastic but not utterly convinced with the Troll at load, and I stand by my qualified trepidation in hindsight.

Troll #3- Mixed-Terrain Super Noodle- Patrick and I planned a mixed-terrain tour primarily to GET OUT OF TOWN. FREEDOM!!!! You know, sometimes you need it. And with my new Troll and his newish Fargo, we had expressly designed machines for off-road touring, a perfect opportunity to heavily test and heavily compare rigs. I made some modifications to the Troll for the trip, although I felt nothing terribly different save the Ergon grips to the Jones bar. Instant 100% improvement. Please get out and do so immediately! The rear remained roughly the same with the Ortliebs, Tubus and oddsnends.

 After experiencing an occasional noodle in the front end, I added some gear to better distribute the weight: fork water bottle cages like the all-the-rage Salsa designs and I lashed a drybag onto the front bars like all the cool bikepacker kids are doing. And I traded out the well-worn TravelContacts for 2" Schwalbes. The Long/-Short of it is that the first day of the tour, a long one of 65 miles with rollers and one absurd climb, I hated the bike, the same bike I rode to satisfaction in June. The entire frame front to back flexed side to side like a noodle. I could stand and get the rear end moving like a wave. And if I experienced a bit of interesting wobble in June, on the first day it became the dreaded 'shimmy'. When you're deep in the KY hills with gravel, terrible pavement and limited bail-outs, the dreaded shimmy is just about the worst thing you can face. Obviously, instead of weighting the front end to stabilize the bike, I unleashed a recalcitrant demon. No fun.

The next day I futzed around with the front end, basically moving the bottled and bag to the back whether in the panniers or on top, much like the first tour. The remainder of our time I was pretty unhappy with the disquiet of the bike. Super-Noodle! Yes, the shimmy faded some, but the generally floppiness of the frame did not. I became pretty frustrated riding a bike that was marketed as a "do anything" tourer/mtbike/biketruck/commuter etc. but one that didn't feel nearly as solid as my LHTank.

Once home I had my shop email Surly with my concerns. They wrote back in about a week and stated that it seemed like I had way too much weight in the rear end, and in effect, too greatly unweighted the front, something I had tried to remedy with the bottles and bag. The next step will be to try (hopefully not purchase for in excess of $100) a low-rider rack as both Surly and the shop suggested. Ok, ok. I guess. But Patrick on his Fargo had NO complaints of any sort like this. NONE. To me, the Fargo and Troll are pretty direct competitors, and the 3 tough days had me wishing for the other guy's green grass.

So, my review suggests that the Troll with moderate weight is a quick-steering fun bike with capabilities for big rubber. The Troll as loaded tourer leaves significant questions. And if the premise is to have a loaded, all-terrain tourer capable of mostly anything, I'm not sure the Troll is the right machine. To be determined, with reservations.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Nuevo transporte

I have some other ruminations ruminating, but I just came across this and wanted to share immediately. 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Heading out

It's the QB that did it. From the first moment I rode the larger-than-should-be QB, I knew the Bleriot was too small, and my decreasing miles reflected this reality. It has the second most mileage of any of my mounts since joining mycyclinglog, but only 300+m in the past 1.5 yrs.

I'm selling the frame and accouterments to a nice man but am keeping the drivetrain and wheels and some other doo-dads. The hope is to go in a low-trail, 650b direction sometime this Fall, only cheaper than some other people have done.

Monday, August 20, 2012


More activity
More veggies
More water

Less booze
Less sugar
Less caffeine

That's Life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Commute #1 1.1

First commute of the new school season. Some years I keep count for a few weeks before I get bored or confused. Fall of 2012 will start start in such a fashion. I commute, I hope to do so more, and I'm sure life will get in the way sometimes.

I've yet to do a "Troll report" because I'm waiting from some correspondence from Surly, but today it proved to be an adept short commuter. Fully loaded brings different sensations.

** I took the Troll back out about 7.30 to meet some of my former tennis players for a slice and a beverage.  It's great reminiscing about the "old days" and it's equally great to see them growing up. And the fresh, night air on two wheels wasn't too bad either.

Monday, August 13, 2012

DBNF Tour 2012 postscript

Wheel fix in hand, we first hit the Wal-Mart on the other end of Richmond for some supplies and then the road- 421 to be specific- for our drive down to S-Tree campground. From there we would camp and then have a solid Sunday ride to finish out our tour. The drive down into Jackson County and into McKee became more and more rustic as we traveled, although McKee itself reminded both of us as a true mountain town, a single strip of tenuous life harbored between the impenetrable walls of the forest. We found the entrance to the S-Tree area via yet another 1+mile climb, this one gravel, forested and rather steep, both of us imagining our arrival via our loaded bikes instead of the relative comfort of leather seats and AC. We situated ourselves at one of a few campsites left, the remainders filled with pickups and a few campers, although with virtually no one around. You see, S-Tree is noted as a starting point for ATV, 4-wheeler and moto-adventuring with the nearby Renfro ATV trail. Over a cup of evening coffee, we decided that the campground was giving us a weird vibe. Only one family was at camp, but the chatter, hollering, and moto-screeching felt assaultive after our hippie love-in at LagoLinda. We bothed desperately wanted to ride more, but the time, the scene, just didn't seem right somehow.

We loaded up to head home. First, though, we decided to do a bit of adventure driving (the SUV being a 4-wheel drive vehicle, right?), following the intended course down Racoon Creek Rd. into Dango and out Lone Oak/Horse Lick Rd. The pics that follow only begin to express how gorgeous and how tough the "roads" were. We confirmed with each other time and time again that there was no way we could have done this route as the 4th day of the tour. We needed bigger tires and maybe even suspension, much more fitness, and certainly the knowledge of what faced us. It was as similarly intimidating as the BigSouthFork route from '10, only I think the surface was more challenging, boulder-strewn, and impenetrable. FYI, our drive from the bottom creek to the paved 1955 had us at 11.5mph the car. On a loaded bike?

We will be back, though. Beautiful!

Honestly I don't know how they live there. There is nothing in the surrounding 10 miles, and the roads are a suggestion of transportation.

Similar to many creek crossings with effective concrete surfaces.

Somewhere at the bottom in Dango (no dwellings, just a name), we ran across 5 or 6 atv riders. I conferred with the "leader" who verified the way for us to get out. Impressively, my car gps and the hand-held Garmin had the necessary goat paths, both better than the county map which seems to have given up.

We exited onto 1955 and set the gps for home, still taking in a few paved roads that would've been on our Day 4 route. I don't know what to say other than I wouldn't have been able to pull it off, I think. Amazing terrain, though. Powerful. I sit here a few days later sorry that we "gave up", sorry that we had mechanicals, sorry that I didn't have the necessary fitness, and hoping for a return sooner than later.
Panorama from the car at 1955 and 1004, one of the best vistas I've seen in KY although a bit out of focus here. Sorry Michael.

DBNF Tour 2012 Day3

After a bit of discussion the previous night, we finally decided on a plan of attack that would and keep us on the bikes for the four days. We left LagoLinda a bit later than desired but within reason, and set ourselves for Irvine and then Berea. It was a bit disappointing that we were retracing some of our route, but the goal was to get to Richmond to get Patrick's wheel fixed. The morning at Lago Linda was fog-bound and ethereal. The route to Irvine was expected to be a drag, a transpo connector back to some "riding". Instead I think it was the nicest road route of the weekend. It began with a 2m descent down 52, a long, flowy, not-scary wake-up call through the fog. Once at the bottom the route was rather flat (that helped), but mist-shrouded and cool- we were both in wool long-sleeves. We decided to turn onto 1571 because it looked a bit shorter, only to find later that we missed a 2mile climb. Serendipity. 1571 rolled along between the Kentucky River and cliffsides through flood plain farms, all with virtually no traffic, morning sun and a little fog burning off. It was wonderful, actually.

Lago Linda in the fog. I literally was chasing it across the fields as it burned off.

Smallest church ever?

Typical scenery

Kentucky River in morning light

Better times in Irvine? 

Irvine bridge
We had a second breakfast at a little cafe that wasn't on google results, but the name escapes me. You can make out the facade on googlestreetview at 214 Main St. The pancakes hit the spot. From there it was time to make way towards Berea with a side trip to find a church where Patrick's father-in-law worked. After using some local advice, he found it a couple miles down 52 at Sand Hill. I found a slight route change taking Patsy Rd instead of 499 as we did coming in to town a few days ago. The only things I can say about Patsy Rd. are that I saw 3 woodpeckers there, it was hillier than 499, and it was what I would expect out of E.KY, just sort of beat up and slummy.

Up that little hill is Patrick looking for his wife's roots. I stayed below.

Patrick pulling away on Little Rock Rd.
That put us back on our original track on 499 and we rode pretty straighforwardly- and slowly- back towards Berea. At the detour from Day 1 we were able to take an alternate road of Little Rock Rd. and avoid scrambling. Somewhere in this area I began to lose power, and at that point the ride for me was a miserable crawl. Our final mileage the last day wasn't particularly long or difficult, but I just crawled those last  20 or so miles, bitching about it much of the time.One thing for sure, the roller-coaster rollers we relished on Day 1 had become all uphill at 10% on day 3.

As my dad would say, "weak!". We arrived in Berea, took on some calories and immediately headed for Richmond and its bike shop.

DBNF MT Tour 2012 Day 2

My night's sleep proved uneventful and a juficious use of the iPod drowned out the bad camp guitar down the way. Skies looked a little heavy and before we exited camp some light rain started. Our first goal was to check out a somewhat new establishment in the area, RedRiverRockHouse, which could provide us a more inspirational breakfast that freeze-dried eggs. We both had hearty breakfast burritos, mine which I couldn't even finish. The staff there was very friendly and the vibe quite nice. If in the area, check it out.

After a lengthy breakfast/coffee/wi-fi/charger stop, we headed out for the day until grey skies, but no rain. Out the door we faced a steady 3-mile acclivity and then a solid 1mile climb at around 3-6%. After yesterday's blowout it was easy, although the lack of shoulder made traffic interesting along 11. Shortly thereafter we found our highlight of the day, maybe of the weekend, on Fixer Rd.

The trip's purpose was to do mixed-terrain touring and Fixer gave us everything we were looking for. Mainly it looked like service road for the oil wells which dotted the landscape. For the first two miles we didn't see a dwelling of any type. At mile two we came across a damned lake with a strange ghost-town below. More oil? Who knows? The run continued south and the terrain changed from sandy, oil-well scrub to what you would usually find in a Nat'l Forest.

Patrick does a ballet move and avoids eating rock on a thick downhill curve. Chapeau for the dismount style!

Yes, that's the real color. Don't think I want to filter that.

Just afterwards re had to ride through it.

Meant to catch name of this random reservoir. 
ghost town below lake

Below Fixer the road ran directly next to Sinking Creek, providing us some great mountain scenery. As the pics indicate the road used the creek bed several times, making for some fun creek runs. We took one very small wrong turn but quickly righted ourselves with the gps. At some point the roads ceased being Fixer and turned into Bald Rock Rd., but I sure as heck didn't see the transition. At some point, though, the road transitioned from forest and creek run to a more proto-industrial setting with chunky gravel and an open quality, a little sunny and a little bumpy.

We came upon this sign in the chunky, sunny area and later three random youths walking down the road. Later research showed that the Pendergrass-Murray Preserve is owned by the Red River Gorge Climbers' Coalition. Apparently we were surrounded by literal world-class rock climbing on all sides and didn't even know it. Shortly thereafter we ran across two white vans full of what looked to be 13yr-old climbers looking to visit Purgatory and Motherlode. At around this town our trip took a fateful turn. Somewhere in the bounty that was Fixer/Balk Rock Patrick broke a rear spoke. Impressively his wheel was holding true very nicely, but a compromised rear wheel in this kind of terrain would be trouble. We walked the 1/2mile 15%+ climb to get out of the Bald Rock area and assessed that a) Patrick was able to roll and b) he could do a mechanical in Beatyville, our next stop.

I think this pic does a reasonable job showing the gradient. I'm holding the camera parallel to what would be considered flat ground.
We took a quick tour of Beatyville and decided on Manna Cafe on Main, which isn't even on google results (research shows that they just opened on July 24th).  Honestly it looked a little cleaner than the other local country cookin' joint down the street. We had a very nice stop there, between the two of us eating two salads, soups, egg-salad sandwiches and pie for $10.55. I still can't get over that number. After lunch we found a nice spot at the courthouse on some benches in the shade to work on Patrick's wheel. Things got more interesting when he realized that it was drive-side but that he didn't have a cassette tool, so no spoke change. Suffice to say those next minutes or hours sort of rolled by. I fell asleep at some point. He called various places, considered various options and certainly lost a couple day's sleep trying to figure out what to do. I don't want to re-hash them all there.

We were going to camp somewhere in Beatyville when his phone search found LagoLinda- duh!- which I had considered on initial route planning. Away we went up a doable 1+mile climb out of Beatyville. If the Fixer stretch was sublime, the 9mile stretch up 52 to LagoLinda was just annoying.

Didn't notice the bicycle until pulling out of town. Harbinger of a good lunch rest

Looking north from Bear Tracks, quite possibly at some of the walls the climbers are so fond of.

The route out of Beatyville was rough but Lago Linda certainly cured some wounds. It is a delightful campground up atop the hills surrounded by forest. Apparently well-known in the climbing set, we were there for a limited time so didn't take advantage of the lake, cafe, broadband, hiking or even the hot showers. We just set up our camp, ate some freeze-dried food and planned out the remainder of our trip. As night fell numerous campers were arriving as part of a large climbers' trail days session to take place the next day. Patrick and I walked over into the field across our tents and beheld what was for me the highlight of the tour.

Over our heads was a black, clear sky with every imaginable star out blazing. No light pollution. No haze. No pollution. No humidity. Perfect black, and rising above us the Milky Way. I tried to show Pat a few of the lesser constellations I learned back in the day when he cried, "I saw a shooting star!". Wow! How fortuitous. Then another. Then another. Unbeknownst to us, we had arrived atop the mountain at Lago Linda during the annual Perseid Meteor shower, coming right through the middle of the Milky Way. It was a truly magical moment, and one I won't forget anytime soon. Yeah bike touring!!

FS Bridgestone RB-1-DONATED

*Donated to a young bike-hungry friend. Good luck!* And to acquaint yourself with the Cult of the RB-1: