Archive for August, 2009


Ft Ancient to the Corwin Nixon Covered Bridge

August 31, 2009

1hr 20min of cycling.  Toggled between high cadence (easy gears) and high effort (hard gears) to hit some aerobic, then muscle strength.  Even threw in a big hill for good measure.

The sun is setting sooner and soon every day now, so to keep things fresh, we drove up to the Ft Ancient (Morgan Canoe Livery) area after Penny got home from work.  Tonight, we used the Cannondale “Go Fast” bikes, and I was amazed how nimble and twitchy these bikes are compared to the Surly LHT’s.  Quite responsive actually.

I’d grabbed another Brooks Saddle tonight, a B17 Standard Aged Laced, to either put on my Trucker or keep on the Cannondale.

In comparing our Touring bike and “Go Fast” bikes, a couple of things struck me on the ride.

  • Top speed is very similar between the two bikes.  The difference is the acceleration.
  • The low-end gearing on the road bike is disappointing.  Lowest Gear ratio on the Road bike is 30:27, but is 26:34 on the LHT, giving a better than 1:1 ratio, and mechanical advantage on the big hills to the Surly.  Now, if I could get that mountain bike gearing on the road bike, that would be pretty sweet! 🙂

Beautifully Cool Day for a 4 Hour Ride

August 30, 2009

We’ve made some tweaks and modifications to our Surly Long Haul Truckers, so it was time for an extended test ride.

I’d gotten in the new Velo Orange seat posts that allow our saddles to move back a few additional centimeters, had raised my handle bars one spacer, trued Penny’s rear tire (the best I could), and replaced a stripped seat post bolt on Penny’s bike, so her seat should stop sinking now… lol!

We made it a good ride too…  Starting at the Kingsview Industrial Park, we rode all the way down to the Little Miami Golf Center in Newtown, then back.

The weather was pretty cool, so we layered shorts and tights, as well as 3 or so shirts (sleeveless, short sleeve, and long).  Although it remained cool most of the day, I shed the bike tights after about 10 miles, then had my long sleeve shirt on and off a couple of times for regulation.  I finally just gave up and left my outer shirt on to keep my arms warm.

At the start, I’d discussed with Penny that we wanted a nice “touring pace”, and even chose the southern route to encounter more traffic (and there was lots and lots of pedestrians/dogs/kids-on-bikes)… mission accomplished!!

All told, we pedaled for 4 hours and although getting a bit tired from not spacing our eating well… we still felt pretty decent at the end…. I think we were easily good for 15-20 miles more without pushing too hard…. but Jess called while we were on the bike and wanted to get together, so we didn’t head north of our parking spot and called it a day.

Despite having to go slow with trail congestion, it was a relaxing 45 mile ride!


More Road Miles on the Surly LHT

August 24, 2009

In order to keep practicing rolling hills and shifting on the Surly Long Haul Trucker, we took the Little Miami trail up to Stubb Mills Rd and used Mason-Morrow Rd to parallel the river on the opposite side as the trail.  We only spent just over 5 of the 20 miles on the rolling hills but it was a good variation from the flat trail.

What’s even more surprising is our average speeds are higher, even when climbing.  I’m not sure exactly why that is, but my theory is the roads are smoother, the rolling hills make you push harder.  Another possibility is that on the LHT, the heavier Surly has good momentum, and the bar end shifters force you to shift less and push harder in a gear before you finally change.

We seemed to find we push ourselves a bit harder with the LHT’s than we did with our lighter “go-fast” bikes.  It even gives us the confidence to try more road work with the potential of hills, especially after handling our local “hill of death”.

I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t list my Cannondale Synapse 2 on Craiglist… lol


Biking and Hiking

August 23, 2009

Today we started our ride at Morgan’s Canoe Livery and headed north toward Corwin.  We’d gotten a later start than we’d hoped, so we had to keep the ride short because we had planned a hike with Penny’s daughter when she got off work.

As a variation on biking the Little Miami Trail, we got off on the road and went across the Corwin Nixon covered bridge on Oregonia Rd.  As we stopped there to get a picture, several cyclists went by, so we wanted to see what road they were using.  Heading down Oregonia, we climbed the light hill and zoomed back down the other side, only to have the road end at Rt 42 near Wayneville.  Since the highway is 4 lane there, we stayed on the wide shoulder and headed up to Waynesville, then crossed over to Corwin for lunch at the Corwin Peddler, before heading back to the Ft Ancient area via the Little Miami Trail.

After Jess got off work, we headed over to Caesar’s Creek Reservoir for some hiking.  We started out near the boat ramp, but the trail we’d done before was heavily overgrown with a lot of poison ivy.  After a 1/2 mile of that we reconsidered the wisdom of this venture and tried another trail.  The second trail didn’t go far either, but had some good elevation gain/decline.  Finally, we went over to the mountain bike trails.  They had just finished a race on the trails, so they were well used with little vegetation on the sides encroaching.  We hiking around about half of the “red” trail and a “connector”, only encountering a couple of mountain bikes.

It was a great day to be outside!  We biked 20 miles on the Surly Long Haul Truckers with one pannier each,  and did about 5 miles of hiking.


Conquered My Personal “Hill of Death” with the Surly LHT

August 21, 2009

Penny got her new touring bike today, a Surly Long Haul Trucker. It’s very similar to mine, with slightly different components. I bought the complete unit ordered from Surly, whereas she got hers from a bike shop that bought the frame and added miscellaneous components from their own stock.

As a trial run on her new bike, we started out from our typical Kingsview Industrial Park starting location, but rather than head straight toward the Little Miami Trail, I suggested we head toward the Hill of Death and see if she needed any bike adjustments before we got miles away from the vehicle. We made a quick adjustment to her seat and it made a huge difference in her stroke and stability…. no more rocking side to side, but quiet on the saddle instead.

As we approached the base of the hill, I told Penny I wanted to give the hill a shot since I’d never tried it on the Surly LHT before. The hill climbs approx 125ft in a 1/4 mile. I forget exactly what grade that is, but it has kicked my butt for the past 14 months. I knew the LHT had low gearing for touring, but I had no idea just how capable it was. More out of curiosity, I put it in the lowest gear and pretended I was a hamster on a wheel. With my legs churning and making slow progress, the crest of the hill kept getting closer and closer. When I reached about 3/4 of the way up the hill, a place where I normally see purple spots and feel ready to slip into a coma, my breathing rate had increased, but mentally I’d crossed a boundary…. one where I knew this time the hill was mine!! I quickened my pace, which caused me to double time my breathing… so I relaxed again and slowed my pace, knowing the surest way to the top was a steady and maintainable pace. As I reached the top, the Rocky theme began playing in my head and I lifted both hands off the bars and shook them in success! After today, I’d never consider this the Hill of Death.

I was surprised that I was able to do this without warming up first, but the high cadence rate did a good job of cranking my cardio without toasting my legs.  I can see trying to do this in a higher gear in the future!

We rode back toward the vehicle, then toward the Little Miami Trail, basking in our hill summit!  Penny was pleasantly surprised by the stability and handling of the LHT.  The steel frame and larger tires provides good bump mitigation, making the ride more comfortable… keeping the fatigue down.

When we reached Morrow, I did a bit more tweaking on her bike, then on the way back home, we laid the hammer down a bit.  It was the first time that I’d really stood on it in the large chain ring.  Keeping the acceleration gradual, Penny was keeping pace nicely until I started muscling it more.  She said to take off because she wanted to see how it felt out of the draft, so I went to almost the highest gear and stood on it.  The acceleration is slower than our Cannondale Road Bikes, but the LHT is still quite capable.  I wish I had a computer setup on this bike, because my speed was in the high 20’s, but not sure how close to 30mph I was.

The Surly LHT could easily become my favorite bike.  It has the smoothness for long rides, but also is heavy enough that strong exertions make for a good workout.  With the way it handles even the steepest of hills, it will handle rolling hills nicely even with a touring load, and could open up some of the more scenic less travel roads in our area for some exploration!


Finally…. Some Mountain Bike Trails!!

August 15, 2009

We had been considering a nice long bike ride on the trail today, but after being reminded that the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race was going on in Colorado, we threw our mountain bikes on the back of the Jeep and headed for John Bryan State Park.

I tried to take a “shortcut” to get to John Bryan, but took the wrong exit on the Interstate and ended up taking longer to get there than the straight but slow route.  Hate it when that happens!

When we got to the park, there were few riders there, so it was easy to get around.  We decided that we’d spin around the Arboretum Trail.  The Arboretum trail (purple line on the map) is kinda like a fire road that interconnects the single-track trails and is a great warmup and tire test before hitting the trails.

After we got warmed up we hit the 2.5 mile Abracadabra trail.  Penny led out the first time around, then we stopped and rested to discuss it a bit.  I have to admit…. we haven’t been hitting the real intense exercise lately, so we had to catch our breath a bit and grabbed a quick bite.

Now that we were thoroughly warmed up, I led the next trip around, which proved to have a bit of excitement.  At one point on the trail, I saw another rider through the trees, but it looked like he was on the Arboretum trail.  Not the case… we rounded a corner and were head to head, just veering and stopping to miss each other.  The comedy part was that I couldn’t get my foot out of the pedal fast enough and toppled sideways over top of the other guy… lol.  After chatting a bit, we rode off and came up on another rider.  However, I wasn’t so deeply entranced in a zone so we stopped in time with no toppling or co-mingling of bikes.

By the time we’d finished for the day, we’d ridden about 8 miles on the trails.  Certainly a bit tired, but it was a good tired.

We headed over to Yellow Springs to stop in at the Village Cyclery because they had several Surly Long Haul Truckers in stock.  Penny test rode one of them.  The components were somewhat different than the complete Surly LHT that I’d gotten a few weeks ago, but the differences and similarities were effective.  After discussions about changes and such, she decided to get one.  After they get done prepping the bike, I’ll be picking it up for her sometime next week…. but she’ll be the proud owner of a Long Haul Trucker!

Edit: Surprisingly, with all the activities and exercise we’ve been getting, we aren’t even a hint of sore today from the mountain biking!  Woo Hoo!!


Drift Diving at Boynton Beach the way it’s meant to be done!

August 6, 2009

Today we had some kick ass drift dives!  It was just Penny and I on the boat today with crew Kevin and Wilhelmina diving also.  We thought we might give another wreck dive a try, but the current was smokin’, so we did a section of reef we’d tried to do the other day.  (There had been squirrelly currents on it).


The current was consistently north and at a nice even temperature, so we cruised down the length of the reef.  It was like floating in a menagerie’!!  There was an incredible amount of fish life everywhere…. and cruising at over 2 knots on the reef meant there was a surprise around every corner!

On the second dive we were given more of the same!  Except this time we saw our first turtle underwater (we’d seen a couple eating at the surface).  It was a small guy, maybe about the size of a TV tray.  Then there was the second one that was under the ledge.  It saw Kevin and bolted up within a foot of me as I hovered a few feet above.  Criminey!!  It was the largest turtle I’d seen underwater.  His neck alone was as big around as my leg and the shell was as big as most people’s kitchen tables…. you know… the ones that seat 5 or 6 people!


Later, there was another small one that moved away from me as I went by, and then another…. I was skimming across the top of the coral and barrel sponges… kinda felt like a crop duster, then there it was… another huge monster turtle… fewer barnacles than the first big one, but still pretty impressively sized.

I’d coasted right over top of it and then pointed… like those dogs do… then finned to hold my place and looked around.  Sure enough, Penny saw me become a pointer… or maybe it was a black lab…oh, who knows… but she did see my turtle.  The turtle started to raise it’s head and look at us so I started drifting back away from it.  It didn’t seem threatened, so Penny was able to get a picture of it.

Great way to finish up the boat diving!  Yowsa!  Small critters and nice fish communities, a few turtles… heck, even a fat barracuda!  It’s hard to ask for anything more… all while diving in trunks and a rash guard… no wetsuit… no drysuit… just casual and relaxed cruising across the reef!