Ohio Hikes: Blendon Woods Metro Park

Armed with a phone camera of questionable quality and the motivation that arises from the alarming realization that I weigh about 20 pounds more than I would like to be (I suspect I am not alone in this), I decided to take advantage of a nice 85 degree day and start to burn off some of the winter insulation I accrued.  Being short on time the logical choice was Blendon Woods Metro Park, located on the edge of Northeastern Columbus off 270 and 161.

Blendon Woods has a few trails that can be linked together for a decent fitness hike, running along ridges, dipping into deciduous ravines and crossing over ancient shale-bed creeks.  While the road noise from 270 and 161 means that you will never quite forget you are in the city, you couldn’t tell by looks alone.  The 653 acres of the park present a reasonable illusion of wilderness.

At the end of April, the foliage was just beginning to surge back into its prime.  With limited time to spare, I chose the Sugarbush trail, a flat two mile trail that spurs off from the parking lot by the nature center.

The Sugarbush trail has less gravel than some of the other trails, and thus softer underfoot and a little more forgiving to soft-lugged trail running shoes.  As a result, however, Spring rains can bring some mud, as shown by this rather bizarre and well-worn detour below.  Are people really that afraid of a little mud on their shoes?

Wildlife abounds, although decidedly less wild in behavior due to frequent acclimatization to human presence.  Many times I have walked along a birch-covered ridge in Summer less than 30 feet from a procession of turkeys scanning for cicadas.  (Fun fact, the plural of wild turkeys is a flock, whereas the plural of domesticated turkeys is a gang.)

There are benches along the trail for those who just want to sit for a spell and just enjoy being outside.  Ultimately, I have found that the best way to kick off the season is to just get out, get moving, and build momentum and enthusiasm.  Blendon Woods Metro Park is a great resource for that endeavor, offering a quick and easy access for those wanting to get outside and get some exercise.  Blendon Woods makes for a great after-work destination within easy reach for those on the east side of Columbus.  Give it a shot on a nice afternoon, I think you’ll like it.

Written by John T.

2017 Pedal Drive Kayak Review

2017 Pedal Drive Kayak Review

It was such a nice day to play with the new 2017 Kayak lineup! With only a few missing we felt confident we had what we needed to compare what was on the market today.

What we had to play with: Hobie Pro Angler 14, Hobie Outback, Wilderness System Radar 115, Perception Pescador Pilot 120.

We had six staff down at the water each taking the time to adjust, play, and use the kayaks.   With all hands on deck we started jumping into the kayaks. After we all had a chance to use each model we started comparing notes. It was not surprising that we came to a similar conclusion on all the kayaks; what we liked, what we didn’t, features, adjustment, ease of use, comfort, and of course price.

Who won? It depends on what you’re looking for. They are different enough that we could not agree on a true winner. We found it was dependent on what your use was and how much you could afford. We can say however why they are different.

Breakdown by Kayak:

Hobie Pro Angler 14– The Pro Angler is at the top end of price coming in at $3449-$3599. This was the best overall fishing option. You can’t beat the features of this kayak. It had the largest standing room of all the kayaks and greatest stability with most of us being able to walk front to back without falling in. Nothing was close in terms of all the built in rod storage and compartment storage. Since there are plenty of reviews on how awesome this thing is, let us explain why it wasn’t our winner. It’s big! It was noticeably slower in the water then the others, just more kayak to push. For a non-fishing environment, this would not be the one I would choose.  As for the price, it was so much more than everything else. But really those were the only downfalls we found. For purely fishing, however, it wins hands down.

Hobie Outback– At $2499-$2649 this was the sweet spot for most pedal drive kayaks this year. The Outback was much faster than the Pro Angler, and the seat was equally comfortable. Steering was also really nice compared to others. However, while the Outback comes with rod holders built in and fish finder ready, we found the standing room for fishing lacking and without installed track mounts.  I think this would win as our favorite non-fishing option only.

Wilderness System Radar 115– Coming in at $2495 with drive, the radar was also in the average price zone. The radar seat was instantly comfortable and easily adjustable. The pedal drive worked flawlessly, which was good because we had some worries since it was so new. We used the kick retracting option which brought the drive up to clear objects but since it never came up fully some of the unit was still exposed. It was nice how easy it was to drop it back down and continue pedaling. This thing was also great for fishing with plenty of standing room and aluminum track mounts on sides.  The Radar is Power Pole and fish finder-ready as well. So what didn’t we like? The steering is a forward-aft steering system, which isn’t immediately intuitive.   I didn’t like the feel of the plastic handle, but that was minor. If you are looking for both fish and rec this would probably be the best option. Also note that this system is sold separately giving you the option to buy the pedal drive system later.

Perception Pescador Pilot 120– At only $1799, this was the least expensive one we tried. While the price is less the features are all there; nice standing room and fish finder ready, it even has four rod holders built in. So easy choice for fishing. The seat is ok and has basic adjustments, and we found it comfortable enough for the price. The drive system worked great and was very easy to pedal.  The pedal drive does have to be retracted manually, but again, that’s ok for the price range. Just stay in deep water areas. The only big complaint was the steering handle; it was not as comfortable as the others. It also didn’t have the steering sensitivity the others had, but we did not think that was a deal breaker. Needless to say this surprised us, for the money it is still a contender. Great price for recreational use.

*We all agreed that we liked the Mirage drive pedal system better than the rotational pedal styles. While it was not noticeably faster than the others, it did seem smoother and required slightly less effort. At the same speed the rotational style required two rotations compared to the Mirage drive’s one stroke. The Hobie did give greater resistance per stroke, so we think for all day they might be equal in the long run. Another advantage of Mirage drive was shallow water. We could easily glide over rocks and debris when needed and then continue to pedal once clear. The Radar pedal drive did have the option to get over objects although it still required the use of a paddle. The Perception was more like the Native and others which required full stop and retraction for shallow water. The big advantage of the rotational style was an instant reverse motion.  While not as powerful while going backwards, it worked well enough. We did find the prop slowing us down as we coasted. The Hobie Mirage 180 drive has to be switched to reverse and we had issues with the timing of the pedals interfering with it, but it was a full-power reverse and did not slow us down while coasting, which was somewhat annoying with the others.


Andy Graham

Hobie Mirage Drive 180 upgrade for V2 drive systems

 This is no longer a option. Hobie has stopped selling parts needed.

This will use your existing Hobie V2 mirage drive. It will convert your V2 drive to a 180 Mirage Drive with reverse. 180MD parts will replace your lower half of Mirage Drive. It will not replace everything. Your existing drive will have to be in good working condition to use this kit. This will not work on V1 drives. Installation requires basic tools and can be done in less then a hour with one person. If you have anymore questions please call store 614-457-3620.

Parts Included in Kit: 
81499001 MD 180 Spine Assemby – One
81491001 Handle & Tendon MD 180 Reverse – One
81486001 Handle & Tendon MD 180 Forward – One
81504001 Mast MD 180 Turbo – Two
81501001 MD 180 Fin Turbo – Two

Hobie 180 Drive Parts








The tools you will need: 

7/16 wrench

Allen wrench set

Wood or plastic mallet (hammer could damage drum shaft)


Paper towels

This modification will use your existing Hobie V2 drive. The parts will swap out the lower half of your drive. I would suggest cleaning parts during your swap to get best performance from your drive.

We are going to start by locating and removing the 7/16 nuts attaching cables to the drums. Only one side needs removed and it will not matter which side it is. Take a picture or take note of how many threads are exposed below nuts for installment. Place nuts in safe place.

Pull threaded tips out of drum and pull through fins. You may remove fins to make things easier if needed.

You are now ready to remove Pedal Drum. Please be careful pulling off. Inside are small bearing rods. They can be a pain to reinstall. If they start coming out simply reach in with fingers or wrench and push back in while removing drum.

*You can take this opportunity to remove those rods and give a good cleaning and reapply lube to them. You can use the drum rod to help realign them once you have removed it from spine in next stage. Start with two or three rods then insert drum rod. This will help align reminder of rods around drum rod.

Use a marker to locate the center of the drum shaft  before removing, this will help replacing it later. Your will need a plastic or wood mallet. If you use hammer be sure to use piece of wood in between to protect drum rod. (I did not use marks in pic on right. It does make easier if you do. Otherwise you will have to measure to insure even.)

Using allen wrench remove set screw. This will allow pulley shaft to be pushed out. These parts will be reinstalled on new shaft. Please be careful, there are more rod bearings inside pulley. These can also be cleaned and lubed if desired.

Reverse procedure and reinstall pulley onto new 180 drive now. Sorry I didn’t take pictures of this part.

Now your done with old V2 drive spine. Reinstall Drum shaft into 180 Spine. Using marked lines on drum shaft carefully hammer in to new 180 Spine. If you didn’t use marked lines be sure to measure to make even on both sides.

Place Drum pedals back on shaft being careful not to disturb rod bearings. You will have to hold both sides on since the cables are only thing keeping them in place. Numbers will face the pull handles.

The most difficult part of the project is getting cables put back together. So take a breath and give it a go. I found it helpful to mark center of sprockets as well as center of chain. This helped to insure I had things lined up. It might help having a second set of hands. Wrap the two chain cables first then the pulley cable will go on last.

As you wrap first chain cable around remember moving the pedal shafts will change tension on chain. Use this to help get things placed correctly. You can opt to place 7/16 nut on a couple threads deep to hold cable. I waited till I had all three. Then place second chain cable on the other side.

When putting on pulley cable it will ride on outside of chain cables on drum. Be sure to check that all cables are around drum and not falling off. Again it might help to have an extra hand


Once the cable tips are inserted and cables are laying properly on drum install the 7/16 nuts if you haven’t already. Use earlier thread count reference or tighten till snug. NOT TO TIGHT. This will affect the drive if too tight.

When installing mast and fins you might see small plastic piece above grey thumbscrew. Remove that first. Insert mast and tighten snug. Does not need to be super tight

Once fin is inserted far enough you will start threading adjusting thumbscrew into fin. NOTE: This Grey thumbscrew is held on by LockTight. If it becomes loose it will not allow threads to screw into fin so be careful not to force on. As you tighten thumbscrew through window on fin you will add the 8-32 nut. This will help lock the thumbscrew. This will finish fins.

Last part is to install FWD/REV handles. Please be careful with these. This is the weakest link to new drive. Make sure you get tighten flush but do not over tighten.

You can now pull back on reverse/forward and see how they operate. You are ready to hit the water.

If you have any questions please feel free to give us a call 614-457-3620 or to email me at cs@theoutdoorsource.com

Andy Graham


Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area

Local Backpacker James Gant from Hillard writes,

“Located on the far Western edge of Kentucky, Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake flow into Tennessee.  At a little over 6 hour’s drive away from Columbus, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is a beautiful 170,000 acre playground.  Because the LBL is in both Tennessee and Kentucky while also being National Recreational Area it is important to call ahead of time, since they have their own hunting dates that don’t necessarily line up with state dates.

I went backpacking there the last week of October.  The leaves had not quit changed yet but early fall was a great time to visit with amazing weather low traffic.  The trails are well marked.  Finding a map for backpacking proved a little difficult but you can purchase a decent map at the trail heads for $3.  The trails are well maintained and easy to follow.  Since the LBL is surrounded by water most of the crowds spend their time on the water leaving the trails clear of traffic.  While I was there I only saw a few people for the four days I was there.  The campsites are primitive but most of them are easily accessed by car so you may have some company at night.  The main North to South Trail is great but it is not a loop trail so you will spend some time going back the way you came unless you meet up with a friend you can park at each end of the 49 mile trail.

The LBL is an amazing place to go with the family and do some car camping.  They have two large bison herds that can easily be seen from your car.  The bison areas are not near the trails at all but you can get really close to them.  There is also an old 1800’s style farm to visit and a planetarium for the family to visit.  The LBL is also fairly close to Mammoth Cave National Park along with many other caves.

The Land Between the Lakes Recreational Area is well worth a visit.”

Cooking for the Outdoors 6:30pm

Tired of freeze dried food on the trail? Learn how to eat well in the outdoors using simple multi-use recipes. Stoves, cookware, spices, bear bags, and cold weather considerations will all be discussed. The class is $5 per person.

A sample meal will be cooked, and may include the following: Dairy, Peanut Butter, Wheat Products, Peppers.

Want to Go? Join or RSVP: Click Here

Date | Time: Thursday, February 23rd, 6:30pm
Location: Kingsdale Store
Phone: 614-457-3620
Cost: $5 per person

Basic Knot Tying 6:30pm

Join us for some introductory knots for varied applications, including hanging bear bags, mooring a kayak, or setting up a clothes line. We will not be covering climbing knots. We will have small sections of cordage to practice with in the shop, and a list of the knots will be provided. All you have to bring is an open mind and a bit of patience!

Want to Go? Join or RSVP: Click Here

Date | Time: Wednesday, February 15th, 6:30pm
Location: Kingsdale Store
Phone: 614-457-3620
Cost: Free

Intro to Backpacking 1:00pm

2017 has many adventures to offer, so it’s time to pull out the boots and dust off those maps! Feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start? This event is perfect for you. Stop by and John T. will set you on the right path. Learn how to plan a trip, optimize gear purchases, bypass some beginner mistakes, and feel confident in planning and executing a memorable outdoor experience. All you have to bring is an open mind, but feel free to bring a notepad.

Due to potentially high volume attendance, outlines will be available electronically upon request in an effort to save paper. If you would like an outline emailed to you, please send John T. a message requesting a copy with your email address.

Want to Go? Join or RSVP: Click Here

Date | Time: Sunday, February 12th, 1:00pm
Location: Highbanks Metro Parks
Phone: 614-457-3620
Cost: Free

Intro to Backpacking 6:30pm

2017 has many adventures to offer, so it’s time to pull out the boots and dust off those maps! Feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start? This event is perfect for you. Stop by and John T. will set you on the right path. Learn how to plan a trip, optimize gear purchases, bypass some beginner mistakes, and feel confident in planning and executing a memorable outdoor experience. All you have to bring is an open mind, but feel free to bring a notepad. An outline will be provided.

Want to Go? Join or RSVP: Click Here

Date | Time: Wednesday, February 8th, 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Location: Kingsdale Store
Phone: 614-457-3620
Cost: Free

Cold Weather Backpacking and Camping 6:30pm

No mosquitoes, idyllic scenery, and serene solitude; these are just a few of the benefits of being outdoors in Winter! Learn how to best utilize the season with instructor John T. as he explains layering, cooking, and other Winter concerns. Preparation and wisdom can mean the difference between disaster and a favorite memory, so don’t miss out on this class!

Want to Go? Join or RSVP: Click Here

Date | Time: Thursday, November 17th, 6:30pm
Location: Kingsdale Store
Phone: 614-457-3620
Cost: Free

How to Prepare for Winter Hiking 1pm

Join the ODS staff at Highbanks Metro Park Nature Center to learn how to properly dress and prepare for winter hikes. Learn about baselayers, midlayers, shells, and other gear to get ready for the Metro Parks Winter Hike series and other winter excursions. Learn how to plan for and alter your approach to cold weather backpacking.

There will be an optional short hike following the class.

Want to Go? Join or RSVP: Click Here

Date | Time: Saturday, November 12th, 1:00pm
Location: Highbanks Metro Park
Phone: 614-457-3620
Cost: Free