Posts Tagged ‘Cycling’


Light Road Riding around East Fork State Park

July 10, 2011

Penny and I loaded up our bikes on the bike rack of our Honda Accord around 7pm Sunday, and went out to East Fork State Park to ride around, and also scope out some low traffic roads that we can ride together in the future.

The “highlight” was the 100 ft drop in elevation from the top of the plateau to the boat ramp and then a climb back up.  Penny powered up it, but I tend to “hamster wheel” it in low gear.  My cardio endurance seems better than my strength endurance although neither are all that great.  It was a nice 8 mile ride though.  I expect we’ll be doing more of the roads around the State Park the next time, if we start earlier before sunset.


The new bike rack that we purchased is a Saris.  I noticed that the straps were loose when we got home.  I probably didn’t tighten them down enough, and the weight of two Surly LHT bikes probably caused a lot of twisting and pulling.  Took the rack off until the next time I need it so it wouldn’t fly off on my trip to work.  Will keep tinkering with it until I figure it out.  Otherwise, it seemed to hold the bikes very solid for the 15 mile round trip from home to the park and back.



Nope… I haven’t forgetten about this blog

January 29, 2010

While we had a couple of nice hikes over Thanksgiving (Caesar Creek SP and East Fork SP) as well as a mountain bike ride at East Fork SP on the easy trail, which I failed to record, most of our activities have moved indoors and resulted in a multitude of entries in our Quest for Fitness blog, which has entered it’s 2nd year.  Staying physically active, whether its cycling, hiking, Olympic Weightlifting or other, has been our most significant focus.

On January 23rd, we had a fortuitous break in the weather for January…. 50F and even a spot or two of sunshine…. so I threw the bike hitch back on and we loaded up to go over and ride on the Little Miami Trail.

Cycled 15 miles, 1:15, average pace was quite low, but leisurely.

Nice gentle ride… just out enjoying the wind in our face and the fresh sights after doing exercise indoors for the past few months.. even saw a deer and couple of small ani-mules.  There were over 20 cyclist out on the trail and road taking advantage of a rare January day suitable for riding.

Just as quickly as the nice weather appeared, it disappeared, and we’ve been mired in below freezing temps for the past week.  I’m glad I had the foresight to take the bike hitch back off the Jeep while it was still warm.


First Night Ride of the Season

November 1, 2009

The time change occurred last night, so it got dark at 5:30pm tonight.  Given the limited daylight, we chose to start our ride at dusk and ride down to Loveland and back in the dark.

We parked at Kingsview Industrial Park and headed down the Lebanon Trail toward the Little Miami Trail.  The temperature was dropping quickly as the daylight disappeared.  We had our cycling tights on, full finger gloves, wool shirts, wind breakers, and even a light polypro skull cap under our helmet.  Things were still a bit nippy as the temp dropped to the low 40’s.  Penny is going to use her warmer full finger gloves next time, and we are both going to go with warmer tights and slip on the shoe covers to keep the toes warmer.

This was an incredibly peaceful 20 mile ride, and the maiden night ride on our Surly Long Haul Truckers.  Much of the trail was covered in leaves, the moon was full, the wind was still, and there was basically no traffic.  It just doesn’t get better than that.  It was kinda odd that the only traffic was two law enforcement officers in cars, a ranger and a local policeman, investigating reports of a deer down on the trail.

Hopefully we can continue to fine tune our layering and get in a couple more night rides before the weather prohibits any more…. in fact… we’ve been toying with the idea of getting a Surly Pugsley built up with 4″ fat tires for riding in many additional conditions than we can with our standard mountain bikes.



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!


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


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!


Screaming Descent, Taxing Climb and a Steady Ascent Back

September 15, 2009

Tried again to catch the bike shop open in Yellow Springs.  It was actually closed, but the manager was standing outside chatting and had me come in to discuss stems for the handlebar.  They have a nice selection for comparison, so I got one that was close to my adjustable stem angle and took it out for a spin.

I didn’t really feel like riding the trail again, so I took Grinnell Road down past the back entrance to John Bryan State Park.  This is a screaming descent I max’d out at 34mph.  I could have pushed harder, but near the beginning of the descent, I startled a large deer on my side of the road.  Fortunately as it looked at me, it darted back into the woods rather than across the road into me.  At 30mph, it wouldn’t have been pretty!!  That took some of the steam out of my descent, especially as I stayed up high on the handlebars rather than in the drops for aerodynamics.   I reached the bottom and looked ahead at the twisting ascent, realizing that my legs were going to be PISSED when I reached the top.  I pushed as hard as I could, but my legs were toasting pretty quickly.  Eventually, only half way to the top, I was in my lowest gear ratio of 30:27 and spinning my way to the top.  My lungs were screaming and my legs were yelling, and all I could think was… Bob… you’re still a WUSS!!! What I would have given to be at least 50# lighter… LOL!  Hauling my 230# frame to the top was no treat!   Really… I was just glad to reach the top of the hill and the stop sign to turn onto Clifton Road.  Not knowing the topography ahead of me, I chose to stop here and eat a Cliff Bar, chug some water, and let my heart rate settle back down.

The caution was for naught.  Clifton Road, back toward the Little Miami Trail, is a pleasant series of rollers, so my cruising speed was pretty good.  I can’t believe how glass-smooth the road surface was!

Once I got to the trail and headed back to Yellow Springs, the pace slowed considerably.  I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t seem that the trail is conducive to maintaining a decent average pace.  It doesn’t help that the return was a steady 200ft climb for that last 4 miles… not taxing… but I wasn’t flying either as I used it as a chance to cool down and relax my legs.

This is one of those routes that I need to endeavor to do more often.  Steeper hills are still my enigma, and I just need to keep churning through them until my legs and lungs grow sufficiently strong and can say “Bring on the Rockies!!!”

Even though the new bike stem is a slightly different angle and a bit shorter, it worked out pretty well.  My arms noticed the difference, but they’ll quickly adjust.

12 miles, 40 minutes.

Tomorrow is definitely a rest day for my legs!!!