Christmas (T)Roll

So a little less than a year ago, my internet homey Matt emailed me out of the blue to let me know he was liquidating his Surly stock. He had a Troll and a Pugsley up for sale and wanted to know if I wanted any parts or whole.

As a matter of backstory, I bought my Disc Trucker frame and fork from Matt some years ago and after going back and forth with various builds on it then almost selling it back to him or someone else, I finally got it perfectly appointed for me and it’s become a steady favorite in the stable.

Matt knew I was a fan of all things Surly and was excited to maybe have the bikes go to a dedicated Surly fan. As much as I like the Pugsleys, I already have one and since I wasn’t really bike shopping at all, couldn’t really justify adding another to the stable. The Troll was another matter. Being Surly’s 26+ platform touring rig, the way Matt had it set up really appealed to me as – among other things – a ‘shoulder season’ bike for all the nasty that was too nasty for the Disc Trucker, but not nasty enough to merit the Pugsley. Matt was open to a long-term creative financing arrangement and a plan was hatched.

Box of Troll

After many months, a large box was finally deposited on my doorstep last week, just in time for Festivus. I spent a few days building it back up and familiarizing myself with various components and thanks to the Christmas gods and global warming, the weatherman was calling for an unseasonably warm (16ºC!) day today so I made sure to have the Troll ready for it’s maiden voyage. It didn’t disappoint.

Matt’s build spec is spot on and there’s not a thing I ‘d change -I did put my own Selle Anatomica saddle on it – but that’s it. The thing is really fun to ride, fits great and all the components are great at what they do. This is my first bike with an internally-geared hub and the Alfine shifts smooth as butter and rolls smooth too. The Surly Extra Terrestrial tires are great – though I have to remind myself when it comes to wet roots they are traditional slicks – heh, don’t ask me how I know. The whole bike feels stiff and stable like it could carry 200lbs of cargo without flinching.

I’m especially excited about the front Shimano dynamo hub which continuously powers the front Busch and Müller headlight and tail light. I can’t wait to try it out in the dark. I’ve never had a bike with a dynamo hub before – it’s always something I’ve wanted to experiment with. Other notable standouts for me are the SKS Blumen fenders which are super-solid, easy to mount and silent/rattle free and the Harrier pedals with big chonking pegs to grab boots/shoes in nasty conditions. I didn’t think I was going to, but I even really like the weird Ergon cork grips.

I threw my Porcelain Rocket/Anylander panniers on the Surly front rack that Matt had and put my RandiJo Fabrications Jeff n’ Joan’s bag into the Jones loop bars and away we went.

I got the Troll out on my usual loop today and threw a little of everything at it and it didn’t flinch. It’s a keeper. Getting out for a nice long ride today means much less guilt eating all the things this holiday season. Merry Christmas to me.

Hope everyone else out there had as much fun today as I did. Ride bikes in 2021.

For a Friend

I got an email today from a friend I hadn’t heard from in quite some time. The pandemic has been rough on her. Already battling with anxiety, the stress and constant barrage of suffering online led her to drop off the internet entirely and shutter all her social media accounts. She lost a family member and then there was the ensuing familial strife that sometimes follows these events. She had a falling out with a dear and trusted friend. She was in a dark place. Having had an injury some years back, she hadn’t been on a bike in many years, but one day she got back on. She completely struggled at first due to lack of fitness, but gradually built up to longer and longer loops. Reflecting on it she said, “It was the only thing that cut through my despair.” I went out this afternoon and rode my bike like I have so many times, but this time it was different knowing what a bike ride had done for her, and the crystallization of what it has so often done for me. Her email subject line read, “I think my bike saved my life…” – I hope it keeps doing that for her – I have faith that it will, and I know – because it saved mine some years ago and still does almost every day. I don’t have to tell this to you guys though, you already know this. Perhaps though, maybe someone you know could use some saving. Or maybe it’s you – and that’s ok too.