Posts Tagged ‘morrow’

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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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Slow and Easy Bike Ride to test the Healing… that was the plan!

September 8, 2009

Saturday we planned on doing some local riding… 20 miles or so… initially thinking we would make multiple loops close to the vehicle in case my body decided it had “had enough”…. well… that was the plan anyway…. (how come plans fairly survive “first contact” with reality?)

We took off from Kingview Industrial park on our Surly Long Haul Truckers (LHT) touring bikes.  I’d recently installed the B17 Aged Leather seat, so this was the first long ride on it.  As we reached Morrow, the designated turn-around to head back toward the vehicle, I was feeling pretty good, as was Penny, so we continued northward…. and the miles continued to add up.  I kept asking Penny if she was doing okay and wanted to turn around.  The response I got was something to the effect of “she wasn’t about to give out before the lame, and she’d fall off her bike before giving in”.  Daaaaaannnnng… talk about laying down the gauntlet!!!

Once we got up toward Oregonia, I was pretty much committed to reaching Corwin.  Since we’d planned a short ride, we didn’t have the food supplies for something longer, so a food stop at the Corwin Peddler was needed.  As we sat there eating, we started doing some calculations on our time.  The sun would be setting in a couple of hours, so we couldn’t head any further north since that would put us home in the dark (didn’t plan on riding this long, thus no lights).

Well… impending night fall gave us both a graceful way out of our stubbornness. LOL  However, we did pick up the average pace several miles per hour (we were averaging just barely over 10mph on the way up…. being prudent with my recent injuries… but were around 15mph coming back).  After we passed the south side of Morrow, there is a stretch that makes for a nice fast run, so I picked up the speed considerably, pushing up towards 20mph.  Instead of falling into the draft, Penny came screaming up next to me and I thought “Hell with that!!!” and laid down the lumber!!!  Once we got down to the stop sign, I asked her what her max speed was… somewhere around a respectable 24mph… mine was almost 29mph… I think at one point I looked back and I wasn’t even sure she was still on the same bike path she was so far behind.  So much for taking advantage of the lame and crippled!!! bwahahahaha

Well… that pretty much burned up any reserves that I had left, and my body threw up plenty of complaints, reminding me it was still “under construction”… so Penny pushed hard on the way back … around 17-18mph… and I just laid into her draft.

I was definitely tapped out by the time we got back to the vehicle….. felt good, but I was really tired!!  We ended up with something over 40 miles of riding.  Now I know that Penny will take advantage of any sign of weakness I might have, so have to be on my guard!!

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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

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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!

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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!!

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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

Pullups:
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.

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Road and Trail Cycling complete with obscenities from ignorant locals.

July 11, 2009

Today’s ride was a combination of hilly roads and flat trails.  From our normal Kingsview Industrial park starting location, we did a loop on Kingsview Drive, Columbia Rd, and Turtlecreek Rd before heading down the Lebanon and Little Miami Trail toward Morrow.

We got off and Stubbs-Mills Rd onto Mason-Morrow and paralleled the trail toward Morrow.  Around the 9 mile mark, we pulled over into Halls Creek Wood Preserve (where we hiked last week) for a quick drink and bite to eat.  As we were eating, we heard some loud honking and cursing coming up the road.  Suddenly a group of 10 or so cyclists went by in the opposite direction from what we were going, followed by a Light Gray pickup truck.  The driver was honking at the cyclists, and the ignorant drunken bastard hanging out the passenger window was shouting obscenities and telling the cyclists to “get back on the trail”.  What an asshole!!  The bikes are called “Road Bikes” for a reason… ignorant bastard!  We were just far enough off the road in the parking lot so that we couldn’t get a photo of the morons, but the vehicle looked similar to the one I’d encountered in South Lebanon last year under similar circumstances.

After watching that piece of drama from the “low end of the gene pool”, we continued on down the road toward Morrow, and as planned, returned on the trail back toward the vehicle.  It’s amazing how much slower the average speed is on the section of the trail that parallels Mason-Morrow Rd.  Part of it is due to the roots that are making the trail a series of speed bumps on the south side of Morrow.  After that section, Penny laid down the hammer and I just hung on to her wheel all the way back to the vehicle.  Just after South Lebanon, the nice weather finally evaporated, and the expected storms rushed in.  We road the last couple of miles in a downpour, but the trees along the trail provided quite a bit of relief until we hit the open sections.

As much as we hate to admit it, we seem to relish riding in the rain… lol…. now… if we can just come up with some way to eradicate the morons that somehow acquire driver’s licenses. 🙂