Archive for July, 2009


Getting Some Miles on the Long Haul Trucker touring bike

July 30, 2009

Next week is vacation in Southern Florida, but before leaving, I burned a couple of vacation days to get out and ride a bit.  Since I just picked up the Surly Long Haul Trucker touring bike yesterday, it only seemed natural to take it out for an extended test.  Prior to leaving, I had to make some additions first.

I don’t feel that I’ll really need the pannier rack on the back of my Cannondale Road bike anymore, so I removed it and placed in on the LHT.  Not given to a lot of mechanical work, it seems I never quite have the right tool or part for the job however, so it took me a bit to get the mounting sorted.  I finally bit the bullet and re-bent the top bracket to make it work around the brake system on the LHT.  I’m not real good at thinking outside the box mechanically, like I do electrically or with computers.  Guess I didn’t get the mechanical aptitude gene from my father.  It was pretty satisfying though when it all came together!

What I really like about the way the pannier rack fits on the LHT is there is plenty of room behind the pedals without hitting the bags.  This is due primarily to the much longer chainstay on the LHT.  I think it’s something like 2″ longer on the chainstay and about 3″ overall on the wheelbase.

After I mounted the water bottle cages on, I loaded up the panniers and headed out for a ride.  The only problem… a train of storm cells would be racing through the area all day.  Well… it’s not like riding in the rain is new to me… lol!  Considering the possibility that I might ride from Morrow all the way up to Xenia and back, I packed lots of food, changes of clothes, large bottle of Hammer Gel, and 3 bottles of water.  In addition to the various tools and supplies that I threw in for “kicks and grins”, the extra weight was in the neighborhood of 30#.  I mean… what good is a test ride on a touring bike if you don’t load it down a bit, right?!?  In actuality, it was still way short of the self-supporting touring riders we’ve met that were carrying 85-100# of gear around, but I had to start somewhere.

My first task when I hit the road was to ride on a particularly hilly portion of Mason-Morrow Road that parallels the Little Miami Trail just prior to Morgan’s Canoe Livery.  I wasn’t warmed up yet, but wanted to see what the low range was capable of doing.  While I got my heart rate moving a smidge, I also had plenty of high RPM spinning without feeling any strain on my cold muscles what-so-ever.  I wasn’t breaking any speed records, but I didn’t have to walk the bike uphill either!.  Definitely a nice piece of kit!

I was surprise how much flexing in the frame that I could perceive when I hit bumps.  Between steel frame and the 37 mm wide tires, I wasn’t getting those butt and wristing numbing shots up into my body.  However, the balance and nimbleness still require some getting used to.  I’m still familiar with riding a “twitchy” road bike that darts and turns on a dime.  Between the loaded panniers and the longer wheel base, I had to be more cautious on the leans into the turns or turning my body to look backwards.

My overall average speed seemed to be down considerably.  While I didn’t have the computer hooked on the bike yet, the trail is clearly marked in half mile increments and I had the time on my cell phone.  My average was around 10mph, but it felt very steady, and a pace that I could pedal all day if need be.

Due to my later than expected start, I opted to turn around in Spring Valley, just 7 miles short of Xenia… so no Metric Century (62mile) rides today.  It didn’t seem prudent with the expected afternoon storms and the time I would be getting back to lengthen the ride at all.  So far, the ride was providing me with plenty of feedback, most of it quite positive.

I did have one small self-induced problem…. damned testosterone anyway… where I wanted to get back on the trail from a rest stop.  There was a short steep incline that was hard pack and cinder.  I looked at my tires, that aren’t smooth by any stretch, and figured I could “mountain bike” up the short incline to the trail…. well… that was the intention anyway… forget the fact that I was on a heavy bike… one that I couldn’t shift quickly.. and with loaded panniers… well… I didn’t really build up an adequate head of steam (although on my road or mountain bike it would have been plenty of room)… and just as I reached the apex, almost up to the grass next to the trail… I stalled… since the trail was a bit of a “cut” up the hill (or it would have been impossibly steep to consider), I did a slow motion fall into the side of the cut.  My bottom foot came out of the clipless pedals, but my top foot stayed.  So I pushed back up with my right arm and right foot into an upright position… did a quick look around to see if I’d embarrassed myself or gone undetected… and quietly headed back down trail and regained my composure… lol.

By the time I got back to Corwin, the rain was just starting to come down, so I stopped for a bite to eat.  Apparently I’d been eating enough on the trail from supplies that I had a hard time getting all the food down, but by the time I was finished, the rain was done for the moment.  However, not more than 3 miles underway, and the rain proved to be a bit more of an annoyance, so I donned my rain jacket.

Despite the rain, I took a detour off the trail to check out the Corwin Nixon covered bridge near Caesar’s Creek (across the Little Miami River).  The stop was also a nice respite from the rain.

As I got back near the vehicle, I had a nasty little surprise on the trail.  Just as I passed underneath a tree, there was a tremendously loud crack/snap like an extended rifle shot echoing through a valley.  Jerking to my left to look around, I watched a rotten tree fall down across the trail just 1-2 seconds after I passed… dang… that was close!!  Was really glad I’d put a plastic bag over my leather seat so that the “stuff” that was scared out of me didn’t ruin the seat… lol!

Getting back to the car in Morrow, I REALLY felt like continuing down the trail, perhaps to South Lebanon or Kings Mills, but looking at the time decided not to.  This was all good and well because just as I got everything loaded back into the vehicle, the skies opened back up and the rain came down with a vengeance.

I’ve gotta say… this was an excellent first serious ride on this bike, and the Surly Long Haul Trucker is looking to be everything that the reviews led me to expect.  With the addition of the Brooks saddle that I’m still breaking in, I logged about 50 miles today.  I could just as easily see doing 70-100 miles on this bike, especially after I get used to it.  Today I had several miles left in me, and it was nice to get off the bike still wanting more, compared to most of my 30-40 mile rides this year on the Cannondale road bike where I agonized some of the last miles and almost felt like walking the final distance to the end.  I expect that Penny will start getting jealous in pretty short order and want one of her own before long!

To the journey!!


Setting up the New Surly Long Haul Trucker

July 29, 2009

Picked up my new Surly Long Haul Trucker at Montgomery Cyclery-West Chester.  I’d selected the LHT because I wanted something to load up with panniers, and could take the abuse of a Clydesdale (200lb plus person).  I enjoy powerlifting and weightlifting too much to give them up, so at 230 lbs, you’ll not find me in the Tour de France anytime soon competing with the 140lb “horse-jockey” size guys… lol

I always enjoy working with Mark, Brent, and Brian there, so when I was in the market for a Long Haul Trucker, I asked Mark to special order one for me.  Once they got it in and setup, they gave me a call and I gladly rushed over to pick it up.  At the same time, I picked out some Time clipless pedals that would be compatible with my Mountain Bike shoes.  Then, because I was in a buying sort of mood, I also got some 50% off Shimano Biking Sandals….  nice open toed shoes for touring and compatible with the clipless pedals.

There was a stubborn seat bolt, so I couldn’t immediately get my Brooks Saddle over on the LHT, so I just adjusted the seat height and handles so that I could do a test ride.  The clouds were quickly darkening and I could hear thunder rumbling in the distance, so there was no time to waste!

The gear shifts on the ends of the handle bars are definitely going to take some getting used to using.  While the style of shifter is more “maintenance-friendly” when traveling, it’s less responsive to gear changes, perhaps because I’m not familiar with the positioning.

I can already tell that the steel frame and 37mm tires (compared to my road bike’s aluminum frame and 25mm tires) is much more forgiving to bumps and vibrations.

I only got a total of 7 miles on the LHT, but I’m looking forward to many more as I get used to it!

Maiden Voyage


A Beautiful Day on the Trail from Morrow to Corwin

July 26, 2009

We biked a total of 30 miles today.  It had looked like rain, and they were calling for rain around 2pm, so we kept it shorter than originally planned by starting closer to our favorite Bike Trail chow stop, the Corwin Peddler.  This gave us a nice 15 mile ride to food.  After we ate, it no longer looked like rain, so we were going to head further up the trail, but the wind was gusting pretty strong, creating a nasty headwind for our return trip, so instead we headed back to the vehicle.

We were amazed at how friendly everyone seemed today.  Lots of smiles and “Hellos” from oncoming riders!

When we got back to Morrow, were we’d started, we decided to drop into Miranda’s Ice Cream for some nice sugar-free vanilla.

My bottom was a bit less comfortable today, but there may a couple of factors: One, I was wearing my less comfortable bike shorts, Two, I felt a bit of bruising from my 40 mile ride on Friday.  Given that the Brooks saddle is far from being broken in, that’s to be expected.

We’ve also used the recent rides as practice loading some panniers for future touring.


Assisted an injured cyclist, and took a new saddle for a 40 mile ride

July 24, 2009

Today was interesting…. Inspired by the 11,000 mile adventure of the Project Tandem cyclists the other day, and after reading stories in the Adventure Cycling magazine, I again fell prey to the cycling bug  and ordered a touring bike… a Surly Long Haul Trucker (frame description).

Also, I’ve been a bit disappointed with my current saddle….. it’s not really the saddle’s fault… it’s a good one.  However, it needs to be ridden with a low profile… something akin to having the seat a bit higher than the handle bars, but I like a more upright position.  When I ride down in the drops, the saddle works well, but my shoulders and neck are really sore when I’m done riding.  If I ride in an upright position, then my backside suffers quite a bit, starting around the 25 mile mark.  I’ve tried to build up my tolerance to it, but to no avail… the discomfort remains.  So after reading many good things regarding the leather Brooks saddles in the touring articles I’ve been reading, I decided to actively seek one out.

The West Chester location of Montgomery Cyclery had the exact ones I’ve been investigating, the B17 and B67.  The B17 seemed more suitable for my current road bike, and possibly on the touring bike as well.  The B67 with it’s springs, could be good for upright positioning on a touring bike.  I got the smaller B17 and I’ll see how that works out.  My plans are to use it on my road bike, then transfer it to the new Surly touring bike when I start breaking-in that bike.

Penny had emailed me that she was too tired for a ride tonight (some neighbors wear out partying until 3am), and that I should head out on my own.  So I immediately installed the new saddle on my road bike and took it out for a test.  I figured a few miles would be good, but I was making minor tweaks to the positioning for the first 5 miles or so, so I kept adding more miles… 10… 20… 25… 30… ah heck… let’s just ride to the end of the Little Miami trail in Newtown.  Well… it seemed like a good idea… after all… the saddle needed a real test… however, it also needs to be broken in first… even so, the saddle performed incredibly well.  I couldn’t believe how great it felt.  Instead, what was suffering was my legs from the Back Squats and Deadlifts yesterday… ya see… this was supposed to be an easy day, or an active rest day… lol… I think I overshot that a bit…. but heh… 40 miles is my 2nd longest ride for this year so far…. now I know that when I decide to go for 50, 75, or even 100 miles, I’ve finally got a saddle that performs well!!

On my return leg of the ride, I came up on a rider that was down on the trail.  A car had stopped at the stop sign, and when the cyclist came up on the spot, the sight of the car startled the rider.  He apparently slammed the brakes and jerked the wheel, sending himself to the ground.  As I approached, the driver had gotten out of his car out of concern and the cyclist was laying out flat and just starting to move.  As the first cyclist on the scene, I pulled into the grass and got off my bike.  Before I could lay my bike down, the cyclist had started getting up, saying he was okay, but he quickly went out and fell like a tree, slamming his forehead into the paved trail quite hard.  Not good.  The driver responded quickly and called 911 while I tried to reassure the cyclist as he came to and keep him calm.  Eventually, he wanted to sit in the shade in the grass rather than the hot trail, so we assisted him over.

Some other cyclists left us with some tissues and disinfectant soap, so he cleaned some of the blood off his hands and such.  While waiting for the EMS, the cyclist was quite alert, so we made sure he had water and energy gel.  One of the interesting things was that he was riding a Century ride… 100 miles, and was just 8 miles from the finish.  Apparently he’d done this a few times already and drove over from Indianapolis to ride the Little Miami Trail about once a year.

We heard the EMS go by out on the main road, and the car driver mentioned that they probably would have a hard time finding us, so I rode out to the main road and helped direct them in.  After they started looking after the cyclist, the driver said he’d drive the cyclist back to his car if he was released by the EMS.  However, he had such a nasty contusion on his forehead that I was wondering if he would require observation.  There wasn’t much left that I could do, so I finished the remaining 15 miles of my own ride, conscious of the fact that I’d left my Road ID bracelet with all my contact information in my car… {roll eyes}

I was pretty toasted after the ride, and started fueling up again on my way home.  What was funny was one of the neighbor’s son was trying to talk me into going on a local 40 mile group ride tomorrow morning… well… aside from an importance Tour de France stage being on, I don’t think my legs would be real happy for a long ride… lol


Cycling Ft Ancient to Corwin and meeting Project Tandem

July 19, 2009

Tonight we did a “short” ride to check out our road bikes we picked up at the shop today.  We’d had some annual service and some upgrades installed.  Things went very smoothly!

I planned a new starting point, using the parking lot at Ft Ancient (Morgan’s Canoe Livery) with the idea of riding to dinner in Corwin at the Corwin Peddler.

On the way back from Corwin, we spotted a couple of riders coming toward us with fully loaded panniers.  They were definitely traveling on a multi-day trip.  I was curious what their average speed was with the loading (his was 100#, hers was 85#).  They were nice enough to stop and chat, letting us know that they were photojournalist cycling around the U.S. using a grant.  Now that’s cool!!

Their website is Project Tandem, and blog is Project Tandem Blog.  They can be found on Twitter at

Good luck and safe cycling!!

You can also support what they are doing via T-Shirt purchases or donations.

Cycled 20 miles.

Ave Speed 15 mph
Max Speed 19 mph

Good test for upgraded chain and cassette on the Road Bike.

A couple of cool links for cycling tourists that the Project Tandem team told us about.

Couch Surfing for Cycling Tourists

Warm Showers for Cycling Tourists


Cycling and Pullups

July 13, 2009

Cycled 15 miles from Kingsview to Morrow and back on flat trails.  I was feeling spunky, but Penny just needed an active recovery day, so I slowed down from my “bulldozer” 18mph start and focused on keeping my cadence high around 105-110 rpm.

Time: 1hr 5min
Ave Speed: 13.8 mph
Max Speed: 21 mph

35 Black Band pullups

Was tired when back from the ride, but wanted some reps on the pullups, but nothing too fatiguing, so I went with the Black Band.  Right Shoulder was already sore, and even moreso after the pullups, but my neoprene shoulder Ice Wrap quieted the shoulder nicely.


Xenia to Dayton on the Creekside Trail

July 12, 2009

I looked at Penny and asked, “so… where are we riding today?”  She asked how far away I was willing to start the ride.  I figured 45 minutes or so.  She suggested Xenia, and I offered the Creekside Trail because it’s the only trail from Xenia we hadn’t yet tried.  Xenia Station is Mile Mark Zero for several major trails in the area, including the Little Miami Scenic Trail.

Creekside Trail map for Greene County (Click Map for larger image)

I was hoping for an easy ride, especially after my stupid little “stunt of a ride” where I went ripping around the neighborhood last evening from stop sign to stop sign without any warmup.  That toasted my quads a bit and I was feeling it some today.

Checking the weather, we knew that we would have a steady headwind on the way to Dayton, but it was a bit stronger and gustier than I expected.  In fact, the section from mile marker 6 to mile marker 10 was quite a slog against the wind and steady grade.

Penny did some pulling, and was pulling away from me until I just gritted my teeth a bit and caught up.  I pulled in the section before MM10 and it was a pain.  It was nice to sit in the Gazebo at 5/3rd Gateway Park near I-675.  After water and a Cliff Bar, rather than turn around we continued on toward Dayton.

At the intersection with the Iron Horse Trail begins a very scenic portion.  It was a nice downhill grade toward Burkhardt Rd where we turned around.  We figured we’d gone far enough for the day, and there was no point in going all the way to Mad River park today.

On the way back, even the uphill sections were rather nice with the tail wind.  In fact, there was a section where we were holding 22-24 mph without putting out all that much effort.  Despite the high speed sections, we did make periodic stops to grab some pics of things we noted on the way out.

The last couple of miles of trail found my seat getting rather uncomfortable.  Even though the new bib shorts I was wearing were darn comfortable for about 21 out of 26 miles, they were still “new to my bum”, and I couldn’t wait to get off the bike when we got back.  Ouch!!

Nice ride, beautiful day, and some really cool clouds blowing overhead!

26 miles
12.3 mph Ave
24.2 mph Max

A shout out to Trail Crews and Greene/Montgomery Counties…. they’ve done a great job with trail signs, mileage, “distance to go”, directions, etc.  Very nice!!