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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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