Ah, New Brunswick spring. I ordered some bike swag to send out to homies from a local merchant and of course bike swag should be picked up by bike. So I saddled up the Troll on the day of our usual spring snowstorm and got on with it.
Hovering at 0ºC, alternately snowing, raining and sleeting, it made for messy and interesting goings. Exactly the conditions that my buddy Matt spec’d this Troll for because he somehow had the prescience to know that it would be here one day. Not a thing out of place, it did not disappoint. 2″ of wet snow/slush on the ground and the Troll was eating it up. The SKS Blumens fenders are game-changers in conditions like this. Terminally groovy.
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.
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 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.
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.
Sunday morning Dirt Church solo ride. Early morning a small black bear jumped out and ran in front of me on the trail for about 100 metres before jumping in the bushes. I thought it was a cub, and waited for others or Mama to pass, but after I stopped, made a ridiculous amount of noise talking to them, no one else materialized, so maybe he was actually a young bachelor bear returning from a rough night and wasn’t sure which way home was. Well, we’ve all been there. It was a tough day for handlebar accessories. First my @quadlockcycle mount stripped (probably due to my OCD over tightening) then, on a particularly bumpy and rocky downhill section, the silencing arm of my Incredibell Trail Bell that was Death Star customized, seems to have flown off. I didn’t notice at first as I had the Beastie Boys’ ‘Check Your Head’ bumping in the Air Pods. After going back and searching for like 15 minutes, I couldn’t find it and gave up. It was a long downhill. So much carnage in one ride.
Got out for the usual weekend ride. Some beavers had felled a tree across the trail, so I followed their drag marks down to the river and sat there for a bit. Took a bunch of pictures at few minute intervals of the same ridge of trees trying to catch the sun lighting them up. Did some yoga and stretching in-between. The little white speck in the bottom left corner of the photos that looks like dirt is a reflection of the Moon in the river. Then basically followed the sun coming up down the Nashwaak River to the Saint John before meeting up with Titus for a trip out to Oromocto and back. Post-ride root beer in the Clubhouse was sublime.
Universal Truth #1,437: when you are chasing the sun coming up down the Nashwaak River to its confluence with the Saint John, it really doesn’t matter that you never get to know who wins. (Note: Your results may vary. Can be applied to other rivers, trails, alleys. Test on a piece of scrap wood to ensure desired results. Offer not valid with any other offer. Proof of purchase required. Don’t try this at home, use only in a well ventilated area and only under hip-hop supervision. -Ed.)