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I’ve never liked the standard McLeod tool for trail work.  My main complaint has been the 48″ handle.  At 6’5″, that’s w ay too short and it caused me to have all kinds of soreness in my lower back.  Hell, it pained me to watch average height people use it.  The benefits of the McLeod’s head are outstanding.  It’s wide enough enough to use the corners as a significant lever when trying to pry rocks out of the ground.  The tines work great at sifting the rocks from the dirt, but they can break off if you aren’t careful.  For years I’ve used a ZAC Tools McLeod.  It came with a fiberglass handle with a wooden insert.  It was tough, but way too effing short.

A couple of years ago our club purchased some 60″ fiberglass handled Rogue Hoes.  We called them the Sarah Palin tool.  The long handle was fantastic, but the head was too small to be effective.  Women liked using them because they didn’t hang up in the rocks and roots as easily as the McLeod and the longer handle kept them from having to hunch over like Igor.

I got sick of my short handle, yanked it out, yanked out the 60″ handle on one of the Rogue Hoes, and installed it on my McLeod’s head.  Now I have a 62″ long handle on my McLeod head!  I epoxied the thing in there since I could only insert it deep enough to get the first bolt through it.  The aluminum sleeve on it really stiffens it up so you can yard the crap out of the thing when trying to unpluck stubborn rocks from the trail.

For years I’ve always wanted Rogue to make a longer handled tool with a McLeod like head.  I checked their website the other day and low and behold, they are now making a 54″ McLeod like tool.  It looked so cool, so I used some club funds to buy 2 with the intention of giving one to trail building guru Robert Newman.  He’s kind of picky, and he loved it!  I still prefer my custom McLeod, but a few minutes with the new Rogue McLeod, and I’m wishing they made a 60″ version.  It’s head is super thick and the blades are sharp.  It’s the perfect size.

Here are some pics.

L to R - Sarah Palin, custom XL handle McLeod, rock bar, Rogue McLeod

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L to R - Sarah Palin, McLeod, rock bar, Rogue McLeod

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Over the past couple of years, I’ve been pushing for more “epic” length trails in El Paso.  Robert Newman has helped my dream come true by linking up a lot of single track to form a loop around the Franklin Mountains that will be entirely inside the state park.  This loop will be about 75% single track with 2 mountain passes.  The final sections are now coming together.  Jen and I went out last weekend to hike the newest section.  He did a great job laying it out as it is much higher on the mountain than I expected it to be.  So the views are spectacular.  Hiking through the Franklins without trail is a nightmare.  I used a walking stick and my shoulders and neck have been stiff all week.  Jen’s calf got stabbed pretty good a couple times by lechugia.  Two miles of trail took us 4 hours to hike.

Here are some of the views from our hike.

Ridge line above north end of upper and lower sunset trails.  View is looking west.  Hitt Canyon is behind us.

Ridge line above north end of upper and lower sunset trails. View is looking west. Hitt Canyon is behind us.

A pretty view looking to the south.

A pretty view looking to the south.

This canyon behind me is going to be a cool place to explore during one of those all day rides.

This canyon behind me is going to be a cool place to explore during one of those all day rides.

We saw a bunch of these web traps.  Not sure what kind of spider this is and none of us were willing to stick a finger in there to find out.

We saw a bunch of these web traps. Not sure what kind of spider this is and none of us were willing to stick a finger in there to find out.

A lot of lechugia is going to have to be removed to clear this trail.

A lot of lechugia is going to have to be removed to clear this trail.

Near the junction with Hitt Canyon trail (the one used in the Puzzler) with a view to the east.

Near the junction with Hitt Canyon trail (the one used in the Puzzler) with a view to the east.

This is going to be an awesome trail, but it’s going to take many volunteer hours to get it finished in time for next year’s Puzzler.  Anyone who puts in time on this trail will definitely be rewarded with an excellent trail.

We were thoroughly impressed with Robert’s driving skills.  He took his jeep up Hitt wash past the trail.  He then came back and put his jeep on the edge of the wash at the trail junction.  For a video of him getting off the edge, click here.

The last two weeks have been CRAZY!  The IMBA crew came to town….with pretty short notice in my book.  But no biggie.  We adapted and the members that came out learned some new tricks.  We also learned that we should slow down a bit on our building and work harder to build trail better. 

The best part is that the city of El Paso wants to build trails in their city parks.  They have one park that is just primo for it.  We’re going to do some flagging this Sunday.

But tomorrow is all about making Mad Cow as fast going up as going down.  If you live in El Paso and haven’t ridden Mad Cow…..well….you’ve been missing out.  It still needs some love.  I got some new toys and I’ll be giving lots of trail love tomorrow.  I spent an evening fixing up the bob to hold the toys.  I had to bust out the tiny wheeled circus bike since my bob doesn’t have the 29er friendly attachment.  A few minutes with a jigsaw and a door knob drill bit, and I got this sucker dialed.

p3060033        p3060034       p3060035      p3060036

p3060037      p3060038      p3060039

It’s over 12 feet long all together.  I picked up an Italian Grape Hoe that is super comfortable to swing.  It will work well in softer conditions or for roots that need to be cut.  I tested it out in the garden and it’s like a hot knife in room temp butter.  I gave the handle a bit of protection with an old Nevegal.  We’ll see how that works out.  I also picked up an extra long Mattock.  My other Mattock is super burly, but it’s heavier and has a super short handle.  It works well in the steep terrain when working on bench cuts, but Mad Cow is kind of flat. 

Of course the trailer has room for the McLeod.  I also fashioned a little water bottle holder for extra fuel by cutting up a water bottle and taping it to the trailer.  The fuel bottle fits in nice and snug.  In the bag I have long pants, face shield, hat, gloves, a file, and the chainsaw attachment for the Husque.  I can’t wait to put the blade that’s mounted up now to the test.  I’m not sure I’ll use the chainsaw blade.  It’s for big stuff.  Mad Cow has mostly little stuff that likes to grab your arms and feet.  I’m just hoping my ghetto carpentry skills hold up and the back board doesn’t break.  I took it on a test ride on the trail by the house.  Everything seemed ok but I decided to put the padding in there to protect the Husque.

So tomorrow will be about 45 minutes of road to the trails….another 30 or so to Mad Cow.  I’ll spend an hour or two on Mad Cow, then ride some more.  Then head back home.  Hopefully it will hold up.  Check back for photos of either disaster or pure trail love bliss.