Last night, Mike and Jeff came out to the garage for some bike maintenance action. Mike's bike was thrashed in a full-day massive torrential downpour ride and Jeff was tuning up his old Trek Antelope to sell on Craigslist. I love working on bikes. And I especially love when you can take a bike that is nearly 100% inoperable and get it back to perfect working order by the end of the night.

Mike got new brakes, trued wheels and derailleur and shifter tune-up. And Jeff's shifter went from about 20% to 100%.
I recently bought the Park Tool TS-25. It's a truing stand(ish) mount that attaches to my Park Tool work stand. It's pretty minimalistic.  But it makes truing a wheel easier than not having a stand at all. And at $25, it's totally worth it. The TS-25 only gives you a reference point on one side of the wheel (thus making it minimal) but at least allows you to have a constant gauge. If you've got a Park Tool work stand, I would highly recommend it.

But these guys now have bikes worthy of riding (or selling) and we had fun doing it. I love working on bikes almost as much as I love riding them.

Get out there.



Shelltowee Trace Trail Bikepacking

This past weekend, the Troll got called into bikepacking duty for a journey along the Shelltowee Trace Trail. I emailed the director of the trail and got his tip on the best place to go bikecamping and riding. He sent me to London, Kentucky (about an hour drive from Lexington).
There was a total of four guys on this trip. Justin, Jeff and Dock joined in for some sweaty camping fun.
I wish I had a good photo of Justin's framepack he made the night before the trip. He stayed up late on the sewing machine making a custom bag for his GT. He did a great job. I will certainly commission him to make one for the Troll.
The heat was intense but we found a couple waterfalls to cool off under. It made all the difference in the world. Temps were in mid 90s. There was certainly a benefit from the thick tree coverage, though. The trade-off, on the other hand, was that there was zero air flow. The air was thick when the trail hugged those rock cliffs or dipped into deep valleys.
After a good bit of riding we were starting to get desperate for a place to set up camp. In a last ditch effort, we found this suspension bridge and thought it may lead to our oasis. We were correct.
The bridge opened up to a huge campsite with plenty of flat ground for the two guys sleeping on the ground and plenty of trees for the two of us in hammocks. It was perfect. We set up camp as the sun set around 9pm and were eating dinner in no time.
 The wood was a little damp for a fire, but we made it work.
Lots of sitting, joking, laughing and goofing off around the campfire. I love times like this.
The next morning wasn't something we were looking forward to. Our journey to the campsite was primarily downhill. It was a couple hours of riding the brakes and navigating our momentum through tough rocky terrain. That meant our return trip was a climbing.

It went much faster than I expected, though. We stopped a lot and drank lots of water. All of my weight on the bike was pretty much food and water. So the return trip was much lighter being that I had consumed most of my cargo. But it certainly wasn't easy.

This is my second trip riding the Shelltowee and we had a blast but it may be my last on this trail system. It's a great trail for hiking and camping. But the conditions for riding are less than desirable. Perhaps I'm not a skilled enough rider. But the climbs and descents are littered with huge rocks that make it almost impossible to stay upright. The photo above shows one of a few sections you could just ride outright. Sections like this may last for 20 yeards before you'd have to get off the bike for trail debris or rocks. For this trip, I barely had a load. I ran small panniers with food and hammock, so my load didn't really affect my riding ability at all. But there was still quite a bit of walking the bike. My last trip was about 100 miles away, too. So I probably got a pretty good look into how the trail varies. But I wouldn't recommend it for bikepacking. If anyone has a better spot on the STT, be sure to let me know.
Lots of bikes on my poor little Subaru. It struggled with all those men and bikes :)

Get out there.



Today I noticed that I've been riding with a lot of stuff in my panniers. It doesn't take long for laptop, clothes, Kindle, shoes, backpack full of various and sundry cables, cords, adapters and other junk to build up in your bags before you're really loaded down. I don't think too much about the load I'm carrying when I'm loading it, but today I noticed I was climbing really slowly. Then I looked back and saw that giant pannier stuffed and busting at the seams. Oh, yeah.

It's actually a good thing, though. I've got an over-nighter bikepacking trip coming up soon. With these summer temperatures, I won't need much gear. I'm just taking hammock, food and cooking supplies. So riding the Troll through the woods with minimal camping gear will feel a lot better than these recent commutes. At this point, the big debate is whether or not I'll throw it in a backpack or put on the rack and use my smaller panniers. Right now I'm leaning towards panniers for the sake of keeping heat off of my back.
The photo above is from my last bikepacking trip. It snowed that night. So we had a whole lot of cold weather gear with us. This trip coming up will feel a whole lot lighter.

Either way, this is one other reason I love bike commuting. It gets you (and keeps you) in shape for the real adventures.

Get out there.


Off Roading

Still rocking the Troll for my commute bike. It's been fun to dart off the road here and there while on the way in. It's well-rounded enough to be a fun commuter and MTB. I think I'm going to throw the rear rack back on there there and run panniers. It's just too inconvenient to ride with a backpack. But I'm still loving this new build!

Get out there.


Ride to Danville

The church I work for has a campus in Danville that I head to every Wednesday. That's my car day when I drop off the boys at school and have four wheels available if I ever need to drive to Danville myself (most times I hitch a ride). But yesterday I had an early meeting and the temperature was just going to be way too perfect to pass up a longer bike commute into Danville. So I mounted the bike just before 6am and headed south.
Fog was incredibly heavy yesterday morning. The camera always does something strange with fog. It never quite captures it right. But you can see the dense fog sitting beyond this tree line. And that darkness in the sky is actually another tree line in the distance.
This was the most intense part. The fog was thick and this is about a half mile drop towards the river. I bet I was rolling 30mph with a five foot visual in front of me. It was pretty wild.
It was about a 28 mile ride with two river crossings. This is the second one. There was a big difference in light and temperature by the time I hit the second crossing. In the previous pic, I couldn't even see the water from the bridge. This one here is clear as ever.
All in all it was a good ride... but a bit boring at times. Lots of what we see in Kentucky is beautiful farmland and wilderness. Not on this route. I stopped and shot this farm because it was one of very few. The rest of the ride was remotely industrial, one might say. It's a lot of wannabe development.

It was great to begin my day with nearly two hours of solitude outdoors. I'll certainly make the ride again. Yesterday had the unique opportunity of having another guy with a bike rack driving to campus that day. So I was guaranteed a ride home. Not a bad deal.

Get out there.


New Ride - Surly Troll

Yesterday, I picked up the newly built Surly Troll from the bike shop. Everything is finished. It is a complete bike.
For now I'm running the Schwalbe Marathon Cross tires on it. I've got fatter, more aggressive tires for actual MTB stuff. But I knew I'd want to commute on it and get in as many miles as possible for a while on the new rig.

There's plenty to share about the ride. It shifts better than ever. It brakes better than ever. It's so nice to have a bike that works properly. I'll begin to play with minor adjustments with stem, seat and whatnot now. It's worth perfecting now that I've got everything in working order.

Today's ride in felt sublime. Nice, cool weather. Heavy fog sitting on the ground. It was a great day to ride a new bike.

Get out there.


Troll Work

Last night I stripped the Troll down to it's naked form. I threw on the new wheels, disc brakes and levers, shifters, crankset and derailleur and called it a night. I knew my timeframe was growing short and I wanted everything done but the cabling.

After all was put together (but not quite in working order), I loaded the Troll onto the Xtracycle so that I could get it to Riley at the shop for finishing touches. I've never run disc brakes before. So I'm going to have him tune them up to perfection for me. That way, when I've got a repair to do, I will learn from how things are actually supposed to be, not how I think they're supposed to be.

This morning's commute was a windy one. And when you add the extra weight of an extra bike on top of an already slow bike, it puts you at a crawling pace. But the total time for the commute was only five minutes longer than normal... but it felt like quite a haul/crawl.
The Subaru was parked at work so at some point today I'll just drive the rest of the way to the bike shop and have this baby back fully functional soon enough. I'm incredibly excited.

Get out there.


As Close as it Gets

This is as narrow as the road gets on the worst turn on my commute. People say I'm crazy for riding roads like this. In all honesty, when a car is passing you, they give plenty of room for safety. This is a shot of Justin on this morning's ride. That truck has given him plenty of room and he's not even completely crossed the yellow lines (again, on the most narrow part of the road). No worries on our end.

Now I'll admit that some drivers don't know what to do and they swing much further out than is necessary. And some get closer than what's comfortable, too. But that's no more true here than it is in the neighborhood streets I ride. For the most part, I feel equally safe all every road.
On an unrelated note, the roads were very wet this morning and we got caught in the rain for the last quarter mile. I was happy to have those fenders!

Get out there.


When a Plan Comes Together

I couldn't be more excited about my recent purchase from my bike shop, Bike Green Lexington. Friday afternoon, I borrowed my buddy's car and picked up new wheels, brakes and drivetrain for the Troll. My plan was to buy the frame last year, build it up with junk from the garage and finish it some time this year after saving for real components. That plan is finally nearing it's finish.
Here's the Troll in it's current state. But some time this week, I'll strip it down to nothing but frame, seatpost, seat, headset, stem and bars. I'll be putting on some Handpun DP20 wheels, Avid BB7's, FSA triple crankset and a SRAM X7 drivetrain and shifters (I'll include more spec details on here when I build it up. But that's the basic gist of it all).

Mad props to Riley at Bike Green Lexington for helping me spec this thing out. I had a tiny budget for such a project and he had to work at finding a combination that fit all my needs. He and Jason are great help over at the shop.

The next full shot of the Troll will look like a brand new bike. It'll run nicer than it ever has and will finally be the bike I planned for when it all started last year. I can't wait.

Get out there.


I Love to Bike Commute

Probably 80% of my mileage is bike commuting. I don't have a ton of extra time in my life with four kids, a wife I want to be around all the time and doing pastoral work. But I certainly make time to commute by bike. In reality, it doesn't take too much time away. My alternative is to ride in the car and shorten things a bit. But it wouldn't be worth it. I could save time at the sacrifice of mental stability. The last couple days of bike commuting have offered me such peace before and after work. My brain decompresses. My emotions settle and my spirit gets lifted so that I'm 100% when I put on my dad and husband hat. I absolutely love it.
I forgot to post yesterday. It felt good to forget. I ride to ride. I don't ride to post on this blog. Yesterday was a good reminder. Being that I forgot to post, I decided I'd take an identical photo this morning since I was on a different bike (today has a chance of rain, so I rode the single speed).

So this post has no point. It's me rambling about how I like to ride. But I could ramble for hours.

Get out there.


Reveal the Path Trailer

This looks awesome. Reveal the Path comes from the guys who gave us Ride the Divide (which I watch about once a month). I'm looking forward to it.

Get out there.



The other day I told Angie that I've been needing more time outside. Sometimes I just start to get jittery and crave a long period of no walls. This was one of those mornings that feels like a remedy to that discomfort.

It had just rained. The skies were gray and the air was dense. But the coolness of morning and odors that come with the rain covered summer foliage were perfect. It felt open and easy going for the entire ride. It was a great reminder of why I commute by bike.

Get out there.