Posts Tagged ‘sorttheride’


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!!


Cycling Ft Ancient to Corwin and meeting Project Tandem

July 19, 2009

Tonight we did a “short” ride to check out our road bikes we picked up at the shop today.  We’d had some annual service and some upgrades installed.  Things went very smoothly!

I planned a new starting point, using the parking lot at Ft Ancient (Morgan’s Canoe Livery) with the idea of riding to dinner in Corwin at the Corwin Peddler.

On the way back from Corwin, we spotted a couple of riders coming toward us with fully loaded panniers.  They were definitely traveling on a multi-day trip.  I was curious what their average speed was with the loading (his was 100#, hers was 85#).  They were nice enough to stop and chat, letting us know that they were photojournalist cycling around the U.S. using a grant.  Now that’s cool!!

Their website is Project Tandem, and blog is Project Tandem Blog.  They can be found on Twitter at

Good luck and safe cycling!!

You can also support what they are doing via T-Shirt purchases or donations.

Cycled 20 miles.

Ave Speed 15 mph
Max Speed 19 mph

Good test for upgraded chain and cassette on the Road Bike.

A couple of cool links for cycling tourists that the Project Tandem team told us about.

Couch Surfing for Cycling Tourists

Warm Showers for Cycling Tourists


Cycling 17 Miles to Loveland

May 2, 2009

Now that we have a regular exercise program, we feel that we can use cycling as more of a relaxing endeavor… more as stress relief and enjoyment of the outdoors.  Saturday was no different.  We had a productive day around the condo for most of the day, then headed out for a relaxing 17 mile ride down to Loveland and back, leaving from our favorite starting point in the Kingsview Industrial Park.

We chatted a bit with couple riding a tandem bike.  This looks like something that Penny and I need to try sometime.


Cycling from Kingsview Industrial Park to Morrow Loop

April 18, 2009

Because today was such a gorgeous day, we’d planned a much longer ride, but life gets in the way sometimes, and we had to take care of some other things that are tough during the work week…. in fact, we ended up adding something extra to the day as well.  We took a drive out into Clermont County to look at a home that come on the market.  We love the setting and have an appointment to look inside of it tomorrow… but anyway, I digress!

By the time we got all settled out for the day, it was about 5:30pm, so I told Penny that I wasn’t real spunky, but a nice relaxing ride would be in order.  Once we got loaded up, we decided to head up to Morrow and then back.  The evening was still excellent, but the clouds were starting in, hinting at the rain projected for Sunday.

The first leg of our ride was non-spectacular, aside from the small child that tried unsuccessfully to ride head-long into Penny’s path (you could hear the parental tongue-lashing of the child as we rode past).

The pace was relaxing… I think we barely got above 12mph most of the time.  When we arrived in Morrow, we stretched, enjoyed 1/2 of an energy gel packet that Penny found tucked away in her gear bag, took a couple of pics, and then lazily rode back toward the vehicle.

Somewhere around Morrow-Cozaddale Rd, I was chatting that this is a nice area to pick up the pace since we have to stop at Stubbs Mills Rd anyway.  No sooner than saying “Keep up if you can”, we were off like a shot… well… for folks in their mid-40’s anyways… lol… and were holding over 25mph with Penny tucked into a nice draft behind me.  She made some smartass comment about hardly having to work at all behind me.  Looking up, I saw the stop sign way up ahead for Stubb Mills, so I hammered it, giving it all I could in my mid range chain ring.  I felt like a hamster in a cage as I pulled steadily away from Penny.  Seeing almost 30mph on the computer, I started slowing for the stop sign, and Penny quickly caught up with me.

We sat at the sign for a minute or two before resuming our ride, and I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly we caught our breath from the “sprint”.  I guess all the CrossFit workouts are paying off!  Resuming a cadence around 100rpm in a lower gear, I figured I’d keep the blood moving in my quads, as they signaled their presence… in a dull ache sort of way.  After I zinged another smartass comment at Penny, I heard her pace quicken as she bolted past me. Fortunately I was already in a low gear and started turning even faster to mitigate her pulling away.  Before I upshifted, my calves started informing me of their presence too, but I quickly pulled even Penny.  I joked about feeling it in my calves, and she grunted in response and pushed a bit harder.  Crap!  I didn’t feel like staying beside her, so I tucked in behind as she pulled along a very slight uphill grade at between 18-19mph.  She kept up this pace until we reached South Lebanon.  That girls got some legs!!

She joked that after my smartass comment she was going to show me what to do with my “relaxing ride”, ’cause she knew she could keep the pressure up and I would be too stubborn to be dropped….lol…. Oh… she’s a gem!! 🙂

We did finish out the last mile at a benign pace so that our legs wouldn’t “setup” when we got in the vehicle…. all in all… a nice evening to go cycling on the trail!


Kingsview to Loveland on the Little Miami Trail

April 4, 2009

Today we had a great ride from our normal starting point at the Kingsview Industrial Park down to Loveland.  Penny was full of spunk today right out of the gates, so we were off the races right away.  There’s no easing into the bike season with her… she “all go, all the time”… lol

I was also experimenting a little bit.  Normally we wear our Camelback backpacks on the rides, no matter what the length, to carry different clothes for layering and such.  However, prior to Christmas, I’d purchased some waterproof  panniers.  Figured I ought to give them a try just to see how they feel.  I chose to use the left one only, and shoved a couple of jackets, gloves, and pain reliever into the bag.  The first thing I noticed was that my heel hit the pannier, so I had to adjust it back about an inch or so to get some clearance.  From there, it worked out great.

When we got to Loveland, the park was filled with parents and children getting ready for an Easter Egg hunt.  I started sneezing immediately since I’m allergic to children (just kidding!).

We noticed a lady with a recumbent bike and soon struck up a conversation.  She called herself “Wacky Macky”, was a real pistol and a hoot to talk with. We spent about a 1/2 hr chatting with her and looking at some of her cool tattoos.  She had them all over her body, but some she couldn’t show us… not because she was shy, but she said she didn’t want to traumatize the kids or the parents in the park doing the Easter Egg hunt… I was bummed… lol

A great new friend!

A great new friend!

She said she liked recumbent bikes because she had a knee replacement and it felt good on it. She’s 61 yrs old and rides several thousand miles a year, so it must work out pretty well for her!

Great day and great ride!  And it’s wonderful to meet new friends!  Turns out she’s also a member of the Friends of Little Miami State Park Group, so we’ll probably see her at the next meeting on April 26th.

17.5 miles; 1hr 20 minutes


45 Mile Ride on the Little Miami Trail

March 8, 2009

Saturday was a gorgeous day in the mid 70’s so we went for our first bike ride of the season. Probably a bit ambitious, but good nonetheless, as it was a nice “stretch attempt” for a first ride of the year. I guess we wanted to see what CrossFit workouts had done for us aerobically so far. With the exception of bike specific aches and pains (saddle, arm/hand position), things felt good.  More about our workouts can be found on our Quest for Fitness blog

My last time on the bike/rollers had been about 2 months ago to focus on other physical activities, and I was surprised how quickly my body “grew foreign” to the saddle. We biked 72k/45 miles on the Little Miami Trail up to Corwin and back, fighting a heavy headwind on the way back, but we still had a quicker time on the 2nd half.

We’d originally planned to stop for lunch in Corwin at the Corwin Peddler, especially since the place in Oregonia burned down, but unfortunately, it was closed.  I’m guessing it’s not open for the season yet.  Nor were any of the permanent restrooms open yet for the season, so we had to avail ourselves of the porta-lets we would pass at the community parks and ball diamonds that we’d pass.

Despite the carb, protein, and electrolytes we snacked on, our energy levels see-sawed up and down on the ride. We’ll have to get back in the nice groove we had going last fall to be more consistent with our energy output.

Time: 3hr 41min

Penny thinks that should be a fair substitute for the 5k run that was supposed to be the CrossFit workout today.

We wore our jersey with the pink stripe and “WIN” logo in support of Fatty’s wife who is battling terminal cancer.