Sunday, April 20, 2014

Elliot and the Ice Tunnel

The plan was to go riding and then hit Friendly's for dinner.  After dropping of his sister at a friends house I decided we should head over to Steep Rock Reservation and check out the old Shepaug Rail Road tunnel because I saw pictures from winter showing a lot of ice and it would be cool to see if there was any left.  I gave Elliot one of my many hydration packs I had laying around so he wouldn't have to stop to get off his bike to pull his water bottle out just to have a drink.  This way he could drink anytime he wanted.  He loves it and it was nearly drained by the time we were done riding.

Riding along the dirt road was fine for him but the rail trail was another story.  The bed is a lot softer and there are some muddy sections that we had to walk around.  I kept emphasizing how important it was to keep his speed up and try to concentrate on what was in front of him rather than just looking down the trail.  The rocks were proving troublesome and he hit a rut which sent him to the dirt.  He wanted to give up but I told him he can't because he needs to see this tunnel.  Somehow a shoe came off in the process so we shook off the dirt, got his shoe back on and continued pedaling.  After that, he sped up a little and it helped.

3rd Saturday of April means opening day of fishing season!

The north portal of the Shepaug Rail Road Tunnel was really damp and come to think of it, it's like this even in the summer to a lesser degree.  We parked our bikes at the mouth and ventured in.

The first thing you notice is the drop in temperature.  Must have been around 40 degrees in the tunnel compared to the 60 degrees outside.  About midway in there is a big flow of ice that stretches to both sides of the tunnel.  The picture I saw from the winter showed huge stalactites of ice coming down from the ceiling on both sides of the tunnel walls.  Now, the only thing left is a steady drip of water from whatever is percolating down from the Clam Shell above.  

I brought flashlights so Elliot could explore and see the ice better.

He was amazed at how solid it was and the shapes on both sides where it was the thickest.

We are now wondering how much longer will it last.

I think it could be around for another month.  
We are going to come back in a couple of weeks to see.
If there is no ice, then we'll ride the rest of the trail down to Tunnel Road.

Elliot pushed his bike and I rode up above the tunnel.

It was no bikes past this point to the Clam Shell so we walked a bit but Elliot wasn't prepared for a hike so we headed back to the bikes and started back towards the car.

I like how the No Bike sign is covered in wire mesh so it doesn't get torn down.  That must have happened a lot in the past because back in the day Steep Rock was a popular mountain biking destination and when the association took over they outlawed bikes on the trails for some stupid reason.  Too bad they did this because they could get a lot more help with their trails because mountain bikers understand that it's important to do regular maintenance in order preserve access as opposed to hikers and walkers who just take the trails for granted.

There are few remnants of history still lying around, like this stream tunnel under neath the rail bed.

While it was a short ride, it was still fun to see a part of history and mother nature in action.
Awesome day to be out on the bikes!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

But, grandmother, what big eyes you have!

Originally, I was planning on riding with some folks down in the New Haven area for what would be my first group ride, albeit a small group because it was Good Friday, however, I wanted to try making breakfast for the family with a cool new recipe that found on the internet.  Turns out half the family got sick with some stomach flu leaving my daughter and I to sample the fruits of my labor and she wasn't even feeling well.

Heading out in 44 degree weather I think I got the cycling costume right for this ride with a short sleeve riding shirt, arm warmers, ear band, cold weather riding shoes, tights, and my riding jacket.  I was tempted to wear my three season riding gloves with the pull overs, but went with a slightly thinker pair of gloves.  Out of the gate it was all good except for my hands but they eventually warmed up, too.  Today's route was a mirror of last weekend with one caveat, I was going to head further south and loop around the Easton Reservoir and then stop off at my kid's Grandmother's house and take a selfie.  I called her and asked if she could make me a PBJ and she of course thought I was crazy until I told her I was outside.  

I confirmed with her that Judd Road was paved because I didn't want to take the Cannondale on Stanley Road because it's unpaved.  Judd turned into a really nice route although I didn't like the descent down Madison Ave to get there, I don't like big descents.  Once on Judd it's basically a straight 15 mile route home with the option of an additional 5 miles if I go through Sandy Hook, which I did in order to get a 50 mile ride in.

Of course, the homeward leg has me passing by Gurske Pond.  I love stopping here, taking a few pictures and eating the rest of my snacks before the final push home.

The reward at home was chilling in the Beer Fridge, a Berkshire Brewing Company Russian Imperial Stout! I really like a good tasting stout (don't care for Guiness) or porter after a good long ride.  Each swig is rejuvenating.

This was the first ride with replacement seat bag, an old crappy bag from Bike Nashbar that someone gave me awhile back.  This makes bag #3.  What I like about it is flatter and not as wide.  The Rando Nerd in me also likes it because it can hold two tubes, levers, and a multi tool.  Unless, I can find something newer with the same profile I will just have to suck it up and ride with this for awhile.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mother Nature is truly a Dominatrix

On Monday, it was 70 degrees so Elliot and I rode the Trumbull Rail Trail in short sleeves and shorts.

Truly a wonderful day to be out.  I happened to take my water bottle out for Elliot and left in on a park bench where we stopped at Old Mine Park but forgot to put it back on my bike.  Realized that I left it up there, so on the way home, stopped by the park and there it was!  Of course that led to a lesson of trying to make the 10 year old understand Sentimental Value and why we had to make an unscheduled stop.

Elliot loves to ride!

Can't wait to get him on the Tandem!

Tuesday, it poured and I didn't ride to work and Tuesday night it snowed

And again, I didn't ride to work because the roads weren't plowed.  Guess the town put away the snow plows thinking that winter was over.  I can hear Mother Nature's whip crack and feel the humiliation on the Town's Highway Department. Just saying.

Mother Nature's whip cracks again, only this time it's across my ass as I am leaving the house on my only bike commute this week and it's 25 degrees out!

I had grandiose plans to try and do a 40 mile commute but that fell short in the morning as I dawdled getting ready for a colder ride than I expected.  The give-a-shit meter was nearing the red zone but I shrugged it off because if I didn't ride today, I probably wouldn't hit my 100 mile weekly goal.  I suited up for a 25 degree commute and based on the time I had left to ride and start my work day, I did my 15 mile, climbing route over Castle Hill.

That is the water bottle I went back for on Monday, my Single Speed A-Palooza bottle.  Even though I don't have a single speed mountain bike anymore, I am taking a year off, this bottle has enormous Sentimental Value to me.

I haven't been on the Surly since the Foolish Classic and I made a few changes in the bag departments.  I put my enormous, Cannondale trunk bag on the back to hold my rain jacket and my blinky, and yet I am not sure I like it.  What I really want is a Banjo Brother's Trunk Bag because it's waterproof, has an extra pocket, a blinky mount, and an external strap for a jacket!

The other thing I added was my Topeak handlebar bag.  The reason for it is I wanted something that would hold a Cue Sheet after the ill fated Foolish Classic where I had to actually use the Cue Sheet and my Rube Goldberg version wasn't cutting the mustard.  My Topeak bag is perfect for that, except for a few things. Given the positioning of my Garmin, I can't see enough of it for my usual data fix while riding.  Thinking about the next Rando and not being able to see the turn by turn would drive me nuts.  Granted, I do want to ride more events using the Cue Sheets, I still want the Garmin to back me up.  

The other thing driving me nuts with this set up is there is no place for lights.  In order to have a light I need a front rack.  If I am going to have a front rack then I might as well get a proper rando bag.  The only other option I am exploring right now is looking for an old school Cannondale Handlebar bag where the mount is a thick piece of wire that goes over the stem and under the bars so the top of the bag is not above the bars.  Finding one in blue will be next to impossible.  In the meantime, I am ditching the bag, going back to my original set up and will just use my top tube bag.

What my commuter looks like at the office, it also serves as a drying rack 

The ride home was still chilly, 45 degrees is not warm.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Riding the Gussy, again!

My skiing plans were a washed out so what's a cyclist to do?  
Go mountain biking!

It's been three months since I have ridden Upper Paugussett and there some big changes.  More logging on the south side of the forest and the loggers created this huge mud pit in the middle of the Poly Brody as a result of their staging operations.  


I guess they ran out of room in the parking lot to store their logs. Somebody started making a corduroy but you could tell it wasn't a mountain biker because the approached sucked.  I had to shift some of the logs to make the approach less drastic and it turned into a really nice feature.  

Further up the Poly Brody I came a across a new Hippy Stack.
I don't get it.

I caught up to Tom and George.  Tom (yellow jacket) I have ridden with before on a Class Cycles ride here last year.  This was George's first trip.  Apparently they rode some of the blue trail and then took the white trail up from the blue and found it to be all hike-a-bike.  Not surprising.  Whoever is taking it upon themselves to re-open this trail is clearly doing it without the State's permission and is a crappy trail builder, to boot.  In fact, the absurdity of this trail is that after crossing Poly Brody it continues into the forest, co-opting part of the yellow trail, crossing the blue trail and then just ending.  

I do want to give a big thanks to whoever cut end off of this tree that was sticking out in the trail.  I had brought my hand saw and was going to start cutting it, only to find it had been cut for me.  So, thank you mysterious log cutter!  Rest of the trail is looking pretty sweet.  There has been a little more foot raking to the Three Bears roller but what is really needed is Baby and Mama Bear re-opened.  Next time I am in there I will try to move the logs.


George tried the Saddle Roller (still don't have a good name for this one yet) and then I took them on the loop around trail.  The section of the jeep trail that it comes out to was pretty wet and muddy.  We parted company and the southern terminus of the Gussy.  They wanted to head back to the cars so I pedaled back up the Gussy do that section in reverse and then dumping out on the ROW, riding past Sidney's place and then back home.  The Spot was spot on!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

UFB Riding Day

Hard to believe that last week I was riding to work in the morning and it was still in the 20's.  Temperature gauge at the house read 65 degrees and I went out wearing an extra layer that I should have bagged and instead used my arm warmers.  Oh well, wasn't that much extra and eventually I took it off when I got down to Easton.

Shorts and fingerless gloves felt great.

I really wanted to go mountain biking today, however, I still needed to hit my 100 mile weekly riding goal.  All I needed was 30 miles and for that I have perfected a good route.  The route is 34 miles and accumulates 3,300 feet of climbing but once I get on Poverty Hollow it seems like it's all down hill from there.  What I like about this route is that I know I have options to extend it for more distance, time permitting of course.

Speaking of Poverty Hollow, took this picture of this couple in front of me riding the comfort bikes and unbeknownst to me got a really good picture of the scenic road sign.  

The dude wasn't wearing a helmet and I was about to go all Helmet Nazi on him but he was going so slow and I didn't want to slow down so I ignored it.

Stopped off at Clark Kent's Connecticut Country home for water and gels.  He wasn't around but maybe I will catch him next time.  You'd think with all those powers he has he would do something with his front yard landscaping.

All my southerly routes include a ride by of Gurske Pond when coming back north.  It was looking particularly serene today so I had to stop and take a few pictures.

When I got home, I switched bikes, got Elliot and we went over to Fairfield Hills for some more cross training.  He finally climbed the back hill on the rec path without stopping!  He still has to stop to have a drink of water in the parking lot so I don't quite have him doing a complete lap yet.  I am going to try a hydration pack and let him drink on the go.

After riding we got a little ice cream at Holy Cow in Newtown.

Awesome day!