Archive for October, 2009

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Cycling Windy Flats, past Marshlands, and Muddy Michigan roads

October 28, 2009

My original plan for the evening was to just pedal in the hotel room with my bike on the resistance trainer, but the sun came out in the afternoon and it turned into a beautiful day.  There was a light wind from the NNW, so I headed a couple of miles west and then started a due north course (easy enough on square grid roads).  The trek took me past some marshy remnants of the Great Black Swamp.

It’s truly amazing to consider that pioneers suffered such harsh conditions to travel through and even drain most of NW Ohio to gain access to such fertile land.

On the way northward, I was stunned to see the paved road come to an end at the Ohio line and changeover to muddy roads in Michigan.  What a dichotomy!

I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but I concluded that 25mm road tires weren’t the best option for muddy roads.  Perhaps a cyclocross bike would have been more appropriate.  lol

It took a bit more concentration, but for the most part, the bike fared okay.

On the way back, most of the mud flew off, and I wiped the rest down before I brought the bike back into the hotel.

I grabbed a couple of pics on the Ohio Turnpike overpass just a short jaunt from the hotel.  This is about a mile west of turnpike exit 13.

And the obligatory self-portrait!

There was a steady 6-10mph headwind on the way north, not much, but I could feel it.  This was supposed to be an “easy spinning” night, so I had to keep dialing it back to keep cadence high and effort easy.  However, on the way back, the wind was a great boon, giving me a nice pace on the way back, so I did push it a bit harder than I should have.

My legs are yelling at me now for 5 days of cycling in a row, but there aren’t many days like this left in the year, so I had to take the opportunity!  Awesome night for a ride!

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Checking out the Colors on the Little Miami Trail

October 25, 2009

We finally had the time and temperature to get out for a nice Fall ride.    The colors are a bit past peak, and the recent rains have pulled down many of the leaves prematurely, but there was still some enjoyment to be had!

We didn’t take time for a long ride, but hit the trail between Morrow and Oregonia.  We weren’t disappointed!

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Dropped the Jeep off for Service and Cycled Home

October 21, 2009

Dropped the Jeep off for service at the dealership and rode my Touring bike home (Surly Long Haul Trucker).  I had mapped out some relatively easy routes to keep me off the high traffic roads.  However, there was one spot that was unavoidable, and quite possibly, one of the highest traffic spots in my neck of the woods, and one that I hate to go in a vehicle.  For those in the know, it’s the intersection of Mason-Montgomery and Fields-Ertel Roads, right where many suburbanites get off and on Interstate 71 for their commutes into Cincinnati.  I now have a better understanding why the Regional Bike Consortium (OKI) has these roads marked red (not recommended) and a big red dot at this intersection.

I did chose a way through that was right hand turns though, and wisely, I chose to wait until near the end of rush hour to ride home.  Even so, it was quite intense and adrenaline packed.  In fact, just getting through the one high traffic choke point left me so stoked with adrenaline, that I threw out my original “lower traffic” route and just rode all the way down Mason-Montgomery.  Actually, it was a combination of “I forgot” and “how bad can it be from here… I’m through the worst of it”…. or it could have been that semi-truck that was barreling down on me near I-71 that kept me intensely pedaling for all it’s worth.  Seemed like every time I looked down I was over 20 mph and 100rpm cadence.

It was a bit surprising to me that I could consistently out-accelerate cars from a stop at a red light…. on my steel bike, no less!  My other “take-away”… I’m much more confident about “taking” the lane at a stop light or stop sign (there were many opportunities for practice!)

So… 8 miles; 30 minutes; 28mph max; 16mph average.

What’s slightly embarrassing is that this was better than what I did on my road bike last night sitting on the trainer watching a Race DVD… LOL

I hope I get Green “karma” points for this!  A few more trips like this and casual cross-country touring on low traffic roads will be a cinch by comparison.

This was also a good opportunity to test a couple of new accessories.   My new Sunlite Trunk bag is a nice intermediate step between a seat bag and a pannier, mounting on the top of my rear rack.  It has two small rollup integrated panniers and 5 compartments built into it.  All I needed to store in it today was my bike tools/supplies, tennis shoes, fingerless gloves, and use the top bungee to hold a fleece vest.

My other goodies were a new flashing front and rear light.  I was glad I had the Cannondale bright rear flashing LED (Hindsite Plus).  One of the blink choices is a chaotic pattern that grabs your attention.  For the front light (Topeak LED), I actually clamped it onto my front fork, just below my brake.  I used this as a white flasher to grab the attention of oncoming traffic or those that might try to turn in front of me from a side rode.

Great morning for a ride!  It was crisp in the upper 30’s/lower 40’s, so I layered accordingly: Unpadded cycling shorts, unpadded cycling tights, workout sweats (loose enough to not bind my knees and not too tight to get in the chain); long sleeve wool cycling shirt, Cycling windbreaker, and full fingered gloves.  I thought I was dressed a bit light on top (so I packed a sleeveless vest), but my wool shirt was drenched when I got home.

Now don’t forget to “Share the Road”!!

Share the Road

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Picture taking at Halls Creek Wood Preserve

October 19, 2009

By the time that Penny gets home, there isn’t much daylight left anymore, but we decided to head over to Halls Creek Wood Preserve.   She wanted to test her new tripod and remote trigger on her Canon camera.

We hiked back along the semi-dry creek bed where she set up on the rocks.  She does lots of fussing and testing and …. and… and…. so I’d planned ahead and brought our little point-n-shoot.  I’ve done very little in the way of macro shooting, so I wanted to get up close and personal with some of the fauna in the area.

Here are a some of the better shots I got using Macro mode.

Samples:

Penny shoots photos in RAW mode, so she is still processing and sorting through her pics, but from the initial results,  she got some “Silky Water” using a 30 second exposure, and she’s pretty happy!

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Google Maps and Little Miami Trail

October 18, 2009

Google Maps, and MapMyRide, which uses the Google mapping engine, now has incorporated the Little Miami Scenic Trail.  What’s really cool is that on MapMyRide, the auto-route feature can be used to create routes on the trail.  For the past year I’ve had to do this manually.

Kudos to Google Maps!

Here’s an example of using Google Maps from Loveland to Corwin on the Little Miami Trail.  I had to select “Walking” and manually move from the roads to the trail, but it’s only a matter of time before the Trail is incorporated automatically into the routing for walking and/or cycling.

Google Maps is also polling for suggestions of trails to send their “camera” trike.  These pics will be added to the Street View of those trail routes.  Vote for the Little Miami Scenic Trail!

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Rolling Hills, “Hill of Death”, and Sprint Intervals… Loving the Surly LHT

October 4, 2009

After a morning workout indoors, I wasn’t real motivated to get out and ride today.  I wasn’t against it, but just had a high degree of inertia working against me.  After Penny got the Surly LHTs loaded, she cajoled me into getting ready, so off we went.

Penny had to test her rear gear changes and get used to the differences.  She actually had lower gears than before, equivalent to the stock Long Haul Trucker I ride, but her forte has never been high cadence pedaling, so it would be interesting to see if the changes would be beneficial.

We started out by taking the rolling hills of Columbia and Turtle Creek Roads.  I’m still surprised how much higher our average MPH is when on the road versus the bike trail.  There was an interesting moment where a couple with a large pickup truck pulling a trailer stopped well past a stop sign where we didn’t have to stop.  Then without looking, they started right across our path, causing us to do evasive maneuvers and a fast stop.  All we could do was glare and shake our heads.  Some people are clueless about the rights of bikes on roadways.

After we warmed up, we turned up the “Hill of Death” using the Lebanon YMCA bike trail. Penny has never made it up this hill without stopping, so today was a test of sorts./

Since I’m the “stronger” climber, I normally head up first, but I suspect that interferes with Penny’s natural pace, so she led out today.  I’d given her a summary of how I approach the hill, but it was up to her to decide what would work for her.  I started out in my lowest gear with the intent of just grinding up the hill using cardio, but Penny hit the hill like a shot and quickly left me behind.   I didn’t think she could maintain that pace, but she smartly down shifted as necessary, just using her momentum to carve out as much of the hill as possible.  Slowly closing the gap, I finally reached and passed her at about 3/4 the way up.  Yelling encouragement as I “hamstered” past, I continued on to the top and then slowly pedaled onward for keep the blood flowing.  After a bit, I looked back and there she was, pulling away from the top, her first non-stop climb of that hill!  Woo Hoo!!!

The path on toward Lebanon is a nicely rolling too, so we continued on and used it for sprinting practice, especially on the return leg.  Going back down the big hill, I had an “incident”.  A bee flew into my mouth, and fortunately I got my teeth closed before it got past.  Spitting and swatting to get it out… while continuing to ride the brakes down the hill… it stung me pretty good.  Ouch!!  By the time we got home I had a really fat lip and felt like Sly Stallone… Yo Adrianne!!

These heavy steel bikes deliver a great workout,  good momentum on the rolling hills, and great climbing ability.  We are definitely members of the “We love our Surly Long Haul Trucker” group!

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Cycling from Yellow Springs to Springfield

October 3, 2009

We needed to head up to Yellow Springs to change over a stem on Penny’s Surly LHT she bought there, and I also wanted to check availability of a trunk bag for the rear rack. Before heading to the bike shop, we stopped in to the William’s Restaurant so that Penny could try the Peruvian cuisine.

When we finally got over to the bike shop, we didn’t arrive empty handed, but came in with the shop owner’s favorite beer, Pilsner Urquell… a Czech libation.

Penny got a short handlebar stem and also got an adjustment on her rear derailleur to return it back to index mode.  Currently, it’s been jumping/missing gears, so she was using friction mode to allow incremental trim shifting.  A short time after we got underway on the trail, she found the chain jumping back and forth on her rear cassette again, so she returned to friction mode.

Although the skies were menacing and overcast, the ride up to I-70 was pretty uneventful.  Also, we mostly had the wind at our back on the way up, so we wondered if it would be a challenge on the way back.  However, the wind had shifted just enough that we didn’t need the relative protection of the trees on the trail, so we actually decided to take Rt 68 from Springfield back to Yellow Springs.  There are splendidly large shoulders on this state route, and in fact, a few signs indicating “Share the Road” with cyclists.  It was a busy stretch of highway, but never once did we feel crowded by vehicles.

Upon returning to the bike shop, the owner worked on Penny’s bike again, making adjustments, replacing the cassette, and then installing a third cassette and new chain.  We knew that some of the components installed on the Penny’s Surly LHT frame had been used when we bought it, but he was happy to replace the necessary components to “make it right” and get it working smoothly.  Perhaps the fact that we came in bearing his favorite beer today didn’t hurt either. 😀  Now, Penny has a rear cassette that is 11-32 versus the 11-28 that she did have.  This should also benefit her on any particularly difficult hill climbs in our future.

Now that Penny has had the opportunity to ride the Little Miami Trail from Yellow Springs to Springfield, she has now ridden every mile of the trail from Newtown down in Cincinnati up to Springfield, where the paved trail becomes a shared road access and connection to the other trails in Springfield, a distance of over 70 miles of paved trail.  Because I have worked in Springfield on a regular basis, I had the opportunity to ride on the entire trail last year.