Archive for October, 2008

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Wabash Cannonball Trail (CR17 to SR-20A)

October 30, 2008

Tonight I parked next to the trail at CR17 just on the west side of Wauseon and headed west on the Wabash Cannonball Trail.  At CR 19, the trail is blocked by a trucking company that has spread across the old railbed and fenced in the property.  I headed west about a 1/2 mile and saw a semblance of a dirt path going down the side of a field.  Taking a chance, this path quickly connected to the Trail again.

This section of the trail was heavily wooded and one of the nicer sections since most of the trail borders open fields.  Once the trail got to CR21, it was in open field again, and had lots of loose rip-rap, not quite as bad as last night, but still taking more energy than the hardpack overgrown cinder.  When the trail ended at SR-20A (not far from CR22), there was no sign of it across the road.  Instead, a farmer had plowed it under.  It looks like I would have to take SR-20A west to CR22 north and re-acquire the trail.  From here I was a bit over a mile from the farthest point east I’d taken the trail when I had ridden it from West Unity to the Turnpike entrance earlier in the summer.

From here I turned around, but wasn’t keen on going back through the loose stone, so I turned my bike lights on and headed east on SR-20A until I reached CR21.  Dropping back down on the trail, I took this prettier section back until it dead ended at the Trucking Company at CR-F. I thought I was consuming enough energy gel, but felt like I was bonking, so I took the road back to the vehicle, taking CR-F east to CR17.  Here, I dropped down CR17 back to my vehicle.

Using this bike without clipless pedals is murder on the quads and leads to grossly inefficient pedaling mechanics, so I’ve considered getting a mountain bike style shoe, but I sure like the warmth of my hiking boots on the ankles.    I’ll have to weigh the options and see what I come up with.

Definitely a good workout though!

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Wabash Cannonball Trail (Rotary Park west to CR17)

October 29, 2008

Finally a day without cold rain… in fact, with the temp hovering between 32-40F the last two rainy days, today was a heat wave by comparison with a dry 48F…. LOL!

Cannondale Hardtail F5

Prepping for the ride on the Cannondale Hardtail F5

I grabbed the Mountain Bike and headed from the hotel down to Rotary Park in Wauseon, OH.  I knew the trail was paved in town, but wasn’t sure where the pavement ended at the west edge of town, so I head out for some riding.

Endless trail of loose stone

After almost a mile on the pavement, the trail abrubtly ended, and a walking path meandered up to the old rail bed.  However, instead of the hardpack cinders I was expecting, I found loosing and shifting rip rap instead.  This stuff was a serious pain in the ass to ride in, keeping me in low range in 1st, 2nd, and rarely 3rd gear.  After a 1/2 mile of this and dodging groundhog holes, I had to stop and loosen up some layers because I was getting pretty hot.

Loose Shifting Rip Rap and a deep groundhog hole

For some reason I kept plowing ahead hoping it would get easier and thinking that this trail system was in desperate need of a champion.  When I reached CR16, there was a sign laying on the ground.  Picking it up, the extremely faded letters read, “City Property: No Trespassing”.  Oops… apparently they didn’t want anyone riding on this portion of trail.  Would have been nice if a sign like this was on the other end where the paved portion ended.  No wonder it was so pathetic!

Wabash Cannonball Trail looking west at CR17

Across the street, there was a sign marking “Wabash Cannonball Trail”.  This section was definitely better with the cinder hardpack.  I put the bike into the middle range and zoomed along by comparison.  I’d eaten up a lot of time on the poor section though, so when I reached CR17, I opted to mount the front and rear lights on the bike and venture back to Wauseon via the roads.  Even with the tire pressure softened for use on the trail, I was cruising a heckuva lot faster getting back on the roads than I did heading out on the trail.

Reflecting on a day of riding

Well… I won’t be adding the miles very quickly to my training log using the mountain bike, but you can sure get a good work quicker and burn more calories than with the road bikes. 🙂

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Fun on the New Mountain Bikes at John Bryan State Park

October 26, 2008

Today we wanted to give the new Mountain bikes a workout!

Cannondale Hardtail F5

Cannondale Hardtail F5

After an easy trial ride yesterday on the new Cannondale Hardtail F5 mountain bikes, we decided to test them out on mountain bike trails today.  One place I’d been wanting to go back up to was John Bryan State Park.  We’d done the easy (Abracadabra) trail with our retail store Schwinn and Huffy mountain bikes about a month ago, but we kept things light and easy then.

John Bryan Mountain Bike Trails

John Bryan Mountain Bike Trails

The plan today was to do an easy lap on the Arboretum trail to see if tire pressures needed to be lowered.  Penny led so that I could keep with her pace.  After riding around the wide Arboretum trail, we ducked into the easy Abracadabra single track trail.  It didn’t take long for our body temperatures to come up and about half way through we pull off to the side to shed our skull caps under the helmets and change up some layering, then we were off again.

The bikes felt really good on this trail, much better than the other bikes previously had.  After we knocked off the 2.5 mile Abracadabra trail, we decided to tackle the Great Scott trail, which has an Upper and Lower segment.  We’d never been on this one, so weren’t sure what to expect.  As we started into it, we finally decided to take some pressure out of the tires to improve handling some more.  That was just what the doctor ordered because the bumps became a lot easier to deal with so we started taking the turns more aggressively.

There are some cool things on these MTB trails.  They have some nice long runs, nice ramps up and over huge logs, and also boardwalks with directional changes that challenge your balance.  Most of the time, the low gears on these new bikes kicked butt on the grades, but I was caught a bit off guard on the largest ramp that appeared around the corner.  I started pedaling to build speed, but I’d left myself in too low a gear, so I was spinning “like a hamster on meth” (too quote Penny) and I couldn’t build a head of steam.  Right at the top of the ramp (about 4 ft off the ground), my front tire went off, but fortunately I was able to land and step on the top of the log and stop myself.  I held the position until Penny caught up to me so that she’d know that this ramp might be better walked up.  She concurred. 🙂

One of the absolutely coolest things was when we were barreling down a trail and Penny comes grinding to a quick stop.  Immediately ahead of her was a Doe and her grown fawn (sporting adult coloring) that slowly walked off of the trail.  We froze in position as they took a position about 15-20 feet to the side.  When they continued to watch us, I slowly pulled a camera out of my pocket and started snapping shots.  The Doe was licking the head of the little one as they continued to study us.  Finally, since they were content to stay, we pedaled on and they didn’t budge.

Penny Doe and Fawn

Penny Doe and Fawn

Doe and Fawn next to the trail

Doe and Fawn next to the trail

It was fun to follow Penny through the trail, listening to her exclamations of glee and surprise.  It made me smile outright many times, and made the riding a joy.  At the end of the ride we came out of the woods into the parking lot area and I thought I heard Penny clank through her gearshift up to the vehicle.  As I was leaning my bike next to the Jeep, she limped her bike around to the back with her chain separated and dragging on the ground.  How could she have possibly broken a brand new chain?!?  Geesh!!!  I think her next mountain bike is going to be a tank!  LOL!!!  What better luck than to have the chain break within 50 feet of the vehicle.  Some people have all the magic!! 🙂 After stopping at the bike shop, we got the piece we needed for the chain and got everything squared away when we got home.

Penny crunched her chain

Penny crunched her chain

We had about 2.5 hours of some great riding and about 7.5 miles of riding on Arboretum, Abracadabra, and the Great Scott trails.  It was great fun… but now…. where did I put that Aleve!?!

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Bike Hiking… aka Trail Debris Clean-up

October 25, 2008

We picked up our new Cannondale Hardtail F5 mountain bikes today, so we wanted to give them a light workout.  We thought it would be fun to go down the Lebanon-YMCA trail and do some volunteer debris removal.  In the past week, the large fallen trees that had been chainsawed through had been removed off of the sides of the trail, so there was only minor debris to deal with.

We went along and either kicked sticks off the trail, stopped and picked up debris, or got off the bikes and dragged brush further off the trail.  Since the Lebanon-YMCA trail didn’t require as much effort as we thought it might, we headed on toward South Lebanon cleaning and moving debris, then on past to Stubb Rd.

Even though we only covered a total of 9-10 miles, it was a good workout starting and stopping, breaking branches, and throwing brushing.  It was a heck of a lot of fun doing this, and by going slow like this, we got a whole new appreciation for the trail and the awesome scenery along the river.

It was great to try and give back a little to a trail that has given so much to us this year!

The new mountain bikes are a heck of a lot of fun, and we look forward to trying them out tomorrow on some mountain bike trails… perhaps at John Bryan State Park tomorrow.  After that, I plan on taking my F5 up to NW Ohio with me the next couple of weeks to use on the cinder and hard pack rails to trails that aren’t suitable for my Synapse road bike.

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Cedarville to South Charleston

October 22, 2008

I needed to see some new trail, so I drove down to Cedarville, south of Springfield.  I’ve done a portion of this Ohio-to-Erie Trail before (Xenia to Cedarville), and knew it was going to be flat trail through mostly farmland.

By the time I drove down there, the sun was already setting.  This meant that most of this 22 mile ride was going to be in the dark with the cold setting in quickly.

I had a tough time getting psyched up for the ride and kept trying to talk myself into turning around before reaching South Charleston.  One of the ways I stayed interested/distracted was to attempt to ride the road bike with no hands.  It was something that I used to do all the time as a kid, but didn’t feel confident attempting with my road bike because the steering has a very nimble/twitchy response.  There was one point where I traveled about a 1/2 mile off the handles.  It was definitely a nice way to use different muscles.

As I rode along, the  urge to turn around was strong because I could tell it was going to be a clear cold night.  I was barely able to make out a water tower in the distance as the final vestiges of sunset swept over the horizon.  I didn’t realize that the water tower was actually in South Charleston a few miles away, so the extra motivation/goal worked nicely to get me there.

When I reached South Charleston it was pretty cold, but the energy bars and gels were kicking in pretty good and I felt strong.  After a visit to the park restroom, I took my pack off and changed to my balaclava to keep my neck and face warmer.  Heading back out of town, I felt really good on the return trip…. that is… until I realized that I’d left my pack with wallet, keys, and cell phone hanging on the door in the restroom…. D’oh!!!!  I sprinted back about a mile and it was still there fortunately!!

The sky seemed so clear and bright that I opted not to turn on my lights.  It was a bit thrilling to cruise down the trail with no lights… and see the rabbits zipping along on the side of the trail darting away.  This was all great until I heard a huge crash in the brush next to me as some started animal, either a deer or groundhog, scrambled away from me without regard for what was in its path.  I nearly came out of my skin and decided that I’d had enough fun for one evening and turned my lights on.  What was cool is that I’d already cruised 6 of the 11 miles back on the return leg of the trip… Sweet!!!!

My toes were toe-cycles by the time I reached my Jeep.  The last couple of miles very very uncomfortable… I’ve definitely got to solve the foot warmth issue so that I can continue riding in these Fall nights unabated!

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Her First Solo Night Ride

October 21, 2008

So on the night I decided to take a break from riding, I get a call that says she has just finished her first solo night ride.  I figured she would just go a few miles to get the hang o fit, but she traveled almost 20 miles on her own… You go girl!!!!  I guess the new lights paid off nicely.  This goes a long way to making sure we both stay active this Fall since I have to travel out of town quite a bit.

She mentioned that most of the other solo people that she saw on the trail running, riding, or skating were also women.  I never would have guessed!

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Springfield to Yellow Springs

October 20, 2008

While training in Springfield this week, I naturally took my bike along for an evening ride.  Rather than driver down to Beatty Station as a convenient staging point, I decided to ride the additional 2 miles from the hotel since I’ve gotten used to traffic… at least light traffic anyways.

This was a good evening to cash in my Smoothie card full of “punches” for a free smoothie.  It was a fairly warm day that didn’t cool off quickly, so the layers I’d chosen were adequate… no balaclava, just a helmet beanie.  Other than that, it was a relaxing 16 mile ride that ended well into the night.  In addition to the handle bar light I’ve been using, I’ve added a rear light that has a solid red, and two different flashing patterns.  The flashing pattern was a nice addition for the sections were I was on roads.