29 November 2018

Wingnut Enduro, A Five Year Review!

Back in March of 2013 I did a post on my then new Wingnut Enduro pack.  http://bikewright.blogspot.com/2013/03/wingnut-enduro-lets-take-close-look.html. Five plus years later, I believe it's time to give a true review of the pack.

*Note- I purchase this pack and this review is based on my use of the pack*

Wingnut Enduro pack

First of all, the Wingnut Enduro is a hydration guide pack that will hold a 3L bladder. It weighs in at 20 oz and is 1200 cubic inches. It has two side wing pockets and mesh on the outside of the pockets. The outside of the main compartment has a mesh pocket with an elastic draw cord system.
When riding on my local trails I normally just ride with bottles. My plan for using this pack was for epic rides and bikepacking.  I have used it many times during orienteering events.  It has been used on trail maintenance work days and a few day hikes.

It was not until I used the pack on a hot trail maintenance day did I truly appreciate and understand the lowrider system. I was reworking a small section of trail and I was bent over for long periods of time. With the lowrider system of the pack I didn't have the weight of the pack on my upper back. I also had freedom of movement and you just don't notice the pack is there.

If you have spent any amount of time doing trail maintenance you will  understand that you are working with the tools and making the same movements as a wildland firefighter. If you research wildland firefighter packs you will see they also use a type of " lowrider system".

Wingnut Enduro pack

I use a Source hydration bladder with my Wingnut Enduro pack. On the Wingnut website they sell a Platypus bladder and this bladder might be what they design the pack to be used with. So with that in mind I wish the bladder pocket was anywhere from 1/2" -1" taller. I think that would accommodate the bladders better. There is also a small plastic clip to hold the bladder in place and keep it from falling down. I wished there was a small D-ring and not the plastic clip. *So little taller bladder pocket and replace small plastic clip it small D-ring.*

As the saying goes "one is none and two is one". I don't know about you, but I have had a bladder fail before! The two times that this happened I remember it was the bite valve. Once you have a failure with a bladder there is not much you can do with it! So with that I am a little old school and still like to carry a Nalgene bottle with me. A Nalgene bottle eats up a lot of that 1200 cubic inches of space!
While writing this review I wanted to try something to see if it would work. On the outside of each wing pocket there is a mesh pocket. A standard 32 oz Nalgene bottle is too tall for that pocket. But a 32 oz Nalgene canteen is spot on. I will be doing another day hike it 2 weeks and will give the canteens a field trial.

Nalgen canteen in a Wingnut pocket

**Update** Field Trial- Picture below you can see that I have the Nalgene Oasis Canteen in my left mesh pocket. I was very pleased with how the canteen fit in the pocket. The canteen stayed put until I reached to get it out of the pocket. Had no issues to put the canteen back and could do so one handed.

Dragons Tooth Hike

If I am using my Wingnut Enduro on my local mountain bike trails I normally carry about 2 liters of water, a Gerber hand saw, tool kit, small first aid kit and mini pump. That does not come close to filling the pack up!  

But a epic mountain bike ride or a day hike where you need to carry more gear then 1200 cubic inches can be a challenge. Also remember this is a hydration pack not a 2400 cubic inch day pack. This is where knowing your gear and packing smart plays a big role. No matter if I am riding or hiking in the mountains I carry the same equipment other than the addition of a bicycle repair kit.
The elastic compression system on the back is a great place to stick a layer when you get a little warm from activity.  The only down side to the elastic compression system is that you can hook it on the front of your saddle when getting on the bike.

While no pack rules them all, I can say the Wingnut Enduro fits the bill for me. I just can't come up with anything that is a show stopper on this pack. You can get stuff out of the wing pockets without taking the pack off. Gives a great center of gravity that does not through you off while riding or crossing a stream.  Makes you pack only what you need!

There you have it, until I see how the water bottles work with it!

04 November 2018

Fall Colors

No matter your pursuit I hope you have been able to get out and enjoy the fall colors. This section of trail is one of my favorites in the fall. A forest floor covered in running cedar with a touch of yellow from the hickory trees.

I guess another thing that makes it special to me is that my friend Dartman and I built this trail. We actually cut this backwards from the direction that you ride it. It has changed a little over the last 23 years due to repairs but still has the flow that we put in it.

11 October 2018

Sherando Lake Recreational Area

Getting it in when you can get it in seems like the standard mode of operation for me these days. Days are packed working and just doing what needs to done around the house, just to set yourself up for the next work week. 

But as the saying goes "The mountains are calling and I must go".

After what seems like weeks of rain, it hits me that I need to take my bike to the mountains. Without much planning I figured I would go ride Sherando Lake Recreational Area.  As I got up Sunday morning I downloaded two GPX files to my GPS and figured I would take one of the two routes.
I also loaded the GPX files to RIDEWITHGPS.COM and shared the two routes via email to my wife and a friend to let someone know where I would be for the day. 

After a couple of hours driving I find my parking place in a small gravel lot off of fire road 42 or Coal Road.  From this point my adventure starts. Its not long before I realize that my GPX file is not quite the same route that I am taking... I have done this part of the trail before so it's no big deal.
The first part of my route follows Turkey Pen RidgeTrail which is an old road filled with big mud puddles. At some point Turkey Pen Ridge turns into Mill Creek Trail and I am greater with five stream ford's over the next couple of miles.

Mill Creek Trail 

In the picture it doesn't look deep,but each stream ford ended up knee deep at some point. I have never ford a stream here that the water was not deep or fast moving. Glad I packed a spare set of socks to change into at the top of the mountain.

Mills Creek 

After about six miles of riding I come to my first climbing challenge. A series of switchbacks which you climb 1000 vertical feet in a mile. It has always been a goal of mind to be about to climb all of this section. I am far from reaching that goal... But as I climb I see there is a cloud covering the top of the mountain and I was sure the view from the overlook would be hidden from me.


While my view was gone it was time to eat lunch and put on a fresh pair of socks. 


At this point I figured the Blue Ridge Parkway also had clouds on it and it might be too dangerous for me to ride a few miles since I did not have any red blinking lights so drivers could see me. I made the call that I work ride back on Torry Ridge. 

I am sure at sometime it my life i had ridden Torry Ridge but I don't remember it. Now I do! Yep, I think I rode as much as I hike-a-bike the trail.



There are a few trails off of Torry Ridge that will take to to the campground and lake area of Sherando. Once I got to the end of Torry Ridge (which seemed like hours) I took a left which the trail sign said would take me back to Mill Creek Trail. This park of the trail was not on my GPX file but I was heading in the right direction. Soon I came to a intersection which I had not been on. At this point I started to wonder where I was and how far I was from my car. 

This was a point that I just needed to stop and filter some water and think about which way to go. While drinking some water I pushed the page button on my GPS to the compass page and saw I was two miles out from my starting point. So I had a 50/50 shot either way I went. Back on the bike the distance starts to count down and I come out at Sherando Church which is about a mile down the rode from the car.

I roll-up back to the car only to find my friend and the guy that I purchased the Surly from. Glen from Shift Bicycles. Glen and his buddy had just finished up the Blue Ridge Wargler.  This is a route that I want to do in the spring.

It was an epic day for me and I look forward to sharing another one with you.

25 August 2018

30 Days Post New Bike Review

With all the rain we have been having in my area trail riding has been cut short. But I wanted to get out a post with my initial thoughts on my Karate Monkey. 

First up the Jones H-bar.  I get stopped on the trail more about riding with the H-bar. The best answer that I can give anyone is that I will never ride with a straight bar ever again.  Riding with your hands close to the back of the bar or closest to you gives you that quick handing that you would get from riding a 26" wheeled bike. Move your hand a little closer to the front of the bar slows things down a bit and is a good place to be for flowing single track. Bring your hands up right behind the shifter and brake mount gives you fantastic power transfer standing out of the saddle on a climb.

Instead of gripping the bar with a death grip like you do a straight bar you grip the H-bar like you hold a shovel.  This puts your wrist at a more comfortable angle and I believe the hand has more contact surface withe the bar. So I guess that puts Jeff Jones as a genius in my book.

Handling- Not totally sure if this handle bar, wheel size or wheel base or some combination. But it took a little while to get use to steering and sometimes I over shot things. What is amazing, is what seems to be a big bike while on it, can take very slow turns or very slow movements in a rock garden.

Wheels and tires- I totally forgot to have the machine built wheels checked for being true. They are not out of true but wished I had paid for this because it would be money saved in the long run. The 27.5 x 3 tire suck-up most root and rocks for the east coast riding that I do. Because of all the rain that we have the trail has a surface of sand on the top. The Dirt Wizards and sand do not get along in a turn but they never break traction.

Brakes - Disk brakes are new to me and stopping power is wonderful.  I do wish the Sram Level brakes could adjust more at the leaver. I wish I had more pressure at the leaver. This is just how it feels to me.

Drive train- The 1x11 drive train is different. While it seems to have all the low gears I would ever need. I do seem to run out of the higher gears. This does cause me to spend out. I think riding more will help me understand more how this gearing system works and I don’t think it will be much of and issue.

I ran into a fellow rider on the trail yesterday while I was removing tree from the trail. He asked about the bike as he also had a Surly. The interesting thing he said was "every bike had a story". This is something I had never thought about. That story is as interesting as the rider who rides them and together they tell stories and tales that should be shared with each other.

We rode together and talked about bikes until our ride took us to different directions. 

Share your bikes story and tell the tales that both of you make.

12 August 2018

CVOC Rockwood Park AUG 2018

This orienteering event was well attended and had 100 orienteers on one of two courses during the event. Kevin a Scout leader uses this event to help Scouts earn their orienteering merit badge and the Scouts help run the event.

Rockwood Park is a mix of sport fields, picnic areas and a spider web of trail networks in a rolling forest of mostly hard woods. It makes for a good course for the beginner because you can reference the trails signs if you get lost. For the advanced orienteer it's about speed and your route choice.

It is interesting to see what route someone takes in a score -o. Some people go for the harder areas first and save the easy ones around the sports field last. Others like myself do the easy ones around the sports field first.  I am sure there is a right and wrong in the route choices but I followed the same plan as last year. Which was easy first.

I highlight my route just to make it stand out on the map better. I find that on the move it is hard to see your next one to two controls on this map. There are a lot of things going on the map and at times the controls get lost in the map. Also if you are using the trails to use as attack points or just to travel faster you really need to pay attention. This can mess you up real quick.

I had no idea how long it would take me to get around the course. My route plan would have me pick up 19 of 23 controls. But I would be able to adjust that plan to pick up 3 more controls if I had time.

Two things that killed me on this course. I had taken a APFT two days before and my legs still had not recovered. Second which I know everyone was dealing with was the heat.

Once I got to control 103, I had more time to pickup controls that I had not plan for. I was not going to dog leg back to get 108 but move forward to get the controls in the Northwest section of the park.

It took me sometime just to find control 106 on the flipping map. This was my last control that I was going to get. I made a small error and at the bend in the trail I must have gone to the right and did not go straight.  A interesting feature that was not on the map that I found was an old ice pit. There are several ice pits in the park none of which are marked on the map.

I was glad to see the big turn out and that there were a lot of Scouts working on the orienteering merit badge. A skill that will last them a life time.

30 July 2018

New Bike Day!

It's going to be new bike day for someone!  That someone happens to be me. My first new mountain bike since 1998 and I am still riding that bike.

I had been researching to figure out what I was going to purchase well over a year. I guess the hard part was understanding my riding style and what I wanted out of a bike.Back in 2010 I went through the process to have a custom bike built  and that was something I did not want to do this time. The reason is simple. First my bike project bike that I finished last year is more comfortable than my custom bike and I used a 30 year old steel mountain bike for that build. Secondly if I could purchase a mass production bike the money I saved going that route I could use in purchasing other outdoor equipment that I need.

I wanted a bike that I could ride as my main trail bike to ride my local single track. I also wanted a bike that I could go bikepacking with. Its hard to find one thing that does two things well but that is what I was looking for. It also needed to be a bike that I could stay in the saddle for longer periods of time that i could on my current bike. It had to have the following:

•  Steel frame
•  Rigid fork -because simple is more . 
•  27.5 plus wheelset- I know the debate goes on with wheel size but since I have been riding a 26 inch wheelset I felt the 27.5 would still give me the handling 26 inch wheelset. The plus (3") tire would give me the rollover that is found with a 29er and would take the edge off and there would be no need for a squishy fork.
• Jeff Jones H-bar
• Lots of bottle mounts- for bikepacking

I called my friend Glen of Shift Bicycles and I ran by him my requirements and told him that I believe the Surly Karate Monkey was the bike that I was looking for. Glen is a good rider and has done the Trans American, biked the Swiss Alps and a few other cool routes and I valued his opinion. Glen agreed. Later that afternoon I dropped by the shop so we could talk more about what I wanted. Glen happened to have his Surly out front of the shop and it was setup with Jones bars. I took his ride around the block and I knew the Jones Bars where going to work for me.

New bike day

Fast forward to the build day. I was going to be apart of the build to make sure we had everything in the right place and height before the steer tube would be cut.  Just test riding in front of the shop I was amazed at this bike. 

Tune in a few days to get my firsthand review of what we go right and how this bad boy rides!

01 July 2018

Backpacking Shenandoah National Park Day 3

Day three my last day on the trail and G-Money and John's day five. Breaking down camp and packing up took a little while. Gear was still wet from the night before. I ended up taking a lost on my ground cloth. It was covered with  what seem like two pounds of mud and was just a waste of time to try and clean up. 

Today's mileage was about 10 miles and I had a plan pick-up time with the shuttle service between 4-5 pm.  This section of the AT from our camp to Swift Run Gap is a fast section to hike. More so than the last two days. Which lead me to thinking I would get to my pickup point way before my pickup time..

G-Money, John and I hit the trail together and it was not long before G-Money and I had our pace going. As I thought we hit the road at the entrance station around 1030ish. I took some of G-Money's gear that he did not need and gave him my Big Agnes sleeping pad. He would need the pad if it started raining again and he would need to sleep in a AT hut. We said our good bye's and I headed over to the entrance station to make my call for my early pickup.

National Park Service

This was the first time that I have used a shuttle service and I had found the guy on one of the AT forum sites. Out of the two people I contacted he was the only one to reply back and my price was at the higher than normal range, but what are you going to do right? I normally do not use any type of guide or shuttle service on any of my adventures. But in this case I had too. 

I made a call to my shuttle driver to see if I could get and earlier pickup. Luck had it that he could do that. So I sat down to get some food and drink in me and it started to rain once again. I spent the next hour and a half seeking shelter from the rain until my shuttle driver arrived.  

My driver came and he was a retired gentleman that had thru-hike the AT in his younger years. While I paid more per mile than G-Money and John did , the value added was getting picked up earlier in a new truck and some of the local history of the Shenandoah Valley. Hard to put a price on that.

G-Money and John sent another two days on the trail to finish all of the AT in Shenandoah National Park. Let's just say the G-Money had to use my sleeping pad!