Sunday, July 05, 2015

The LHT is dead. Long live the Straggler!

Its July in Iowa. What does that mean?
Time for the RAGBRAI

Back what seems like 100 years ago I rode the RAGBRAI.

My first two trips across the state I rode with Team Pink Floyd
On my 3rd year I was "kidnapped" (at least thats what the Floyd's would tell you) by Evil.
I rode the next 4 (5?) years with Evil using the big black "Satan's School for Little Girls" bus.


Ah the good old days...


Then the bus died.
Conveniently on the last day in the last town. We abandoned the bus (on main street where it sat for a couple weeks until a farmer pulled it home deposited it in his back 40 and it became and probably still is a club house for local teens)
At that time a plan was hatched to build up touring bikes and return the following year to ride the week self supported.

I spent the winter/spring building up a Surly Long Haul Trucker
The LHT was a relatively new model form Surly and I was pretty excited to ride across Iowa that summmer on mine.
It was a great year.

RAGBRAI 2006-066RAGBRAI 2006-011

Doing the RAGBRAI self supported was an eye opener.
No more searching over night towns for the bus.
No more worrying about going off route and not making it to the end town were the bus was.
Self supported you have all your stuff for the week with you. All week.
Its the only way to go and the only way I'd do RAGBRAI.
Well except for the following year... I was talked into getting back on a bus.
Evil returned with a new bus and a basically new crew.
In the end it ended up being a weird year and not one I would want to repeat (and I don't think I was the only one on the bus that year who felt that way... sorry gang).

Needless to say I did another 4 years self supported until I moved to Iowa.
Now I don't get to do the trip but that is a whole other story.

Back to the point... there was a point.

As much as I loved the LHT other than the RAGBRAI it didn't get ridden much.
Its great for long miles fully loaded with few stops.
Its not great for short trips or riding around town.
For me this is because when I bought the bike I bought it a little bit too big.
At cruising speed this isn't an issue. But when you are just trying to maneuver around town it just doesn't work.

I've been commuting on a Surly Cross Check for years
My current Cross Check is the 3rd of 4 that I have owned.
I commute on it. Ridden single track on it. Raced cyclocross on it.
I even rode the RAGBRAI on it (the Floyd years).
With the exception of a couple CX season when it was set up single speed (and once very briefly with gears) its always been a fixed gear.
Its has had a few different parts kits but has basically stayed the same.
I love it.

I love this bike. #crosscheck #surlybikes #fixedgear #dailydriver #commuter

Recently I started thinking about building up something similar only with gears for commuting.
I considered just changing up the parts kit on the LHT... but as previously stated its size was a factor.
So I stripped down the LHT and put the frame set up for sale (at the time this is published it is still for sale... 62cm frame set $200 OBO)

Enter the Straggler

The solution I came up with was a Surly Straggler
I purchased a 60cm frame set and a set of disc brakes.
Transferred a majority of the parts from the LHT over with a couple additions.

I've put probably close to 200 miles on the Straggler since I built it up and so far I'm very pleased.
I can add on the rear rack easily if I was to do a tour.
Drop the knobbies off for slicks if I want to add fenders.
And if I get tired of the flat bar and thumbie shifters I have several drop bar options in my parts bin along with a set of 9speed STi levers.

I've commuted on it daily since I built it up.
Have done a metric century on the paved trail.
Used it to run errands.
Even gotten in a little single track time.
I'm pretty pleased with the new rig.

Straggler build:
TRP Spyre SLC disc brake
Chris King headset
Thomson stem and seatpost
Brooks Professional saddle
Dura-Ace 9speed bar end shifters converted to bar mount with Paul Thumbies
Avid Speed Dial levers
Race Face cranks with 44/32/22 RF rings
12-28 9 speed cassette
Ultergra 6600 RD
Sora 3403 FD
UN-55 BB
Surly Nice Racks F&R
Surly Knard 700x41 rubber
Surly 1x1 Torsion Bar by Nitto
Lizard Skins bolt on BMX grips
Arundel stainless steel bottle cages
DT Swiss Onyx 36h hubs laced to Salsa Delgado Cross rims
Shimano M324 pedals
Jagwire cable/housing

The LHT is dead...

Long Live the Straggler!


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