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Sunday, August 31, 2008

50 States - 100 Bike Blogs

I like to check the Snack from time to time to see who is reading it by checking some of the back links from Feedjit and last night I found a link to a blog, 100 KM, that I have never seen before. It's pretty cool to find other bloggers who find your blog interesting and end up linking to you without your knowledge.

In a way, it's satisfying to know that someone is actually reading your blog. Without being smug, I know that I have a few readers, but it seems to be a blogging achievement to find some sort of sublime popularity that you never thought existed. Of course there are the political, news, gossip, and entertainment bloggers that have turned their blogs into full time jobs and while that may seem fun at first I imagine that it could also get old, right quick.

I think the fun of blogging is that you get to share your thoughts and experiences with others, wear your heart on your sleeve, regardless of whether anybody is reading what you are producing. In this new age of Informational Instant Gratification, a blog can be seen as an extension of getting upon the soap box at Hyde Park in London and making your thoughts or feeling known about a particular topic.

Thus, I was surprised to learn that the Snack was selected by another blogger as a blog to represent CT in the blogger's post of 50 States - 100 Bike Blogs. That's a cool honor. Apparently the selection criteria was as follows:
I did favor those that update regularly when I could. I tried to mix in some famous (dare I say canonical) bike blogs that I read regularly, with a bunch of others that I hadn't come across before. I also wanted to get a good mix of mountain bikers, bike commuters, hipsters, advocates, roadies and randos- and I think I did fairly well in that regard.
Well, the Snack definitely has good portion of the criteria covered, I am always looking for new things to write about when it comes to biking and it is of interest to me, especially in the world of Mountain Biking, Fixed Gear, and Commuting. I am honored and I thank you.

Here are some of the blogs that I recognize and I will be reading each and everyone of these to see if any of them are worth following - chances are they might be all worth following.

I like the Beat Bike Blog after a quick perusal this is definitely a blog I will start following and add to the Feed Tube! The blogger appears mainly to be a fixie hipster but also rides mountain which get's an A+ in my book. In fact, anyone that is willing to actively participate in more than one discipline shows an openness and willingness to learn and try new things. From those kinds of people you learn much more than those that tend to be myopic in their specific pursuits.

Guitar Ted Productions is very familiar to me because the other site that he manages is Twenty Nine Inches, a very popular 29er news site. With everything going on with the latter site when does he have time for the first blog? Still Twenty Nine Inches is staple for me on 29er product reviews and the latest dirt on the 29er world.

If you live in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, and CT) and you ride fixed gear then you must read the BSNYC. Even before I started riding fixie I found his blog to be thoroughly amusing and quintessential of the attitudes typical of growing up in this area. Snobby's wit and cynicism livens up the day even on topics that I have little or no interest in.

Regular readers also treat each of his posts as a race to see who can post the first comment, or get on the podium as one of the first three commentators, and the top ten commentators. I have podiumed I think three or four times, and twice in one week. The nice thing is, his posts usually pop out around lunch when I am eating mine. Of course after you haveactually read the post, the next task is to post a comment on the particular topic with the same wit. Of course, another game in itself is to unveil this person's identity, which is a closely guarded secret.

In my explorations within the blogsphere and reading cycling themed blogs nothing makes me sadder than to read about the ailments of different bloggers suffering from one type of disease or another and how their sickness is interfering with their ability to ride. Fat Cyclist, although not afflicted by any malaise himself, his spouse has breast cancer and living with a loved one with this disease can be so agonizing and yet he still finds the will to ride as much as possible is a tribute to the sport.

Cancer is affecting my family directing because my wife's father is dying from it. It's extremely hard living with this knowledge and having small children who dearly love their Pop Pop and to know that sometime in the near future you are going to have to explain to some very little and very upset that their grandfather has passed away. I deeply feel for each and everyone who are affected in some way by these diseases and that their will to keep going, especially with knowledge that their time may be limited, is truly inspiring.

If you ride a 29er and invariably need a 29er specific part or advice the first place I think of is Bike 29. To read about mountain biking, especially riding 29ers, in a state that I love visiting all season makes me long for the day that I will be living up north full time (in retirement, most likely) and riding everyday. It seems very few shops do this, blog about their products, but in a way I think it's an outstanding selling technique. I read the Bike29 Blog for their candid assessments of the products they sell, which is helpful when trying to assess whether to buy something sight unseen over the internet.

50 States - 100 Bike Blogs will certainly prove worthwhile reading for weeks to come and I am glad someone has done this.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Trail Building at Waldo

Met up with Paula this morning off of Purchase Brook Road in Southbury, CT at George Waldo State Park for some trail work on the Where's Waldo Trail. This is going to be an awesome trail! If you like riding the Rock-n-Roll trail at Huntington, you are going to love this trail even more. It's tight, it's technical, there are some really nice climbs, technical climbs, and boocoup stuntry.

While those that were supposed to show up did not, Wayne Johnson and his daughter Mandi did. The found out about it because Wayne has a Google Alert configured for Southbury and it came up when I posted the event on the Snack. I was surprise when he showed me a printed copy of the posting.

The map above doesn't really cover the trail exactly. The walk in had us doing some bush whacking to save time getting to the work areas. And then we bush whacked off the trail back to the fire road. Paula and Mandi started clipping and Wayne and I built a nice up-and-over this angled down tree in the middle of the trail.

The nice thing about building this feature was the abundance of rocks coming from a nearby outcropping. I showed the Wayne the art of splitting a rock without any tools. Found a nice flat rock but it was thick for our needs. Turns out the thicker part had a parallel crack in it. Just dropped it onto a bigger rock and it split into to really nice flat rocks that we were able to use on the feature. Can't wait to ride it.

Further up the trail, Paula said that we would want to crib this one section, however, we ended up benching it with a McCloud and a fire rake. Not the ideal tools for benching but we got the job done. This area needs much more benching but that will have to wait for a latter time.

Back at the lot, Paula handed out subway sandwiches and we all enjoyed a quick bite to eat. Wayne and his daughter took off, and I had a family committment that I had to get to, but Paula went back out to do some more clipping!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Commuting with Lucile

Yesterday's commute was with B.B. King and his Guitar Lucile. In the mornings, I like how the sun casts a shadow of me riding in the shrubs along the way and so I thought I would try to capture it.

Rode with the freewheel today but next week I am going to ride all week with the fixed gear.

The new thing at my house is waiting for Daddy to get home. If I am driving, the kids jump in the car and ride the short 40 feet to the garage. Of course Brodie has to open the garage door. When I get home now and I am on the bike, the kids want to help me walk the bike in.

Getting help from the kids on Vimeo.

Don't forget to check out my post on the Bicycle to Work blog that I am now writing for: Oooo, did you smell that smell? If you haven't already.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I am contributing to another biking blog

I am now an active contributor to another blog called Bicycle to Work! In fact I made my first post tonight about my ride commute in the post titled: Oooo, did you smell that smell?

I took some videos of my ride that I will most likely post here. Editing them and putting it to music will take some time.

I was invited to contribute through a connection via LinkedIn, which is a professional social networking community geared towards making professional contacts in the hopes of finding new business, or finding a new job. Similarly, on Facebook there are quite a few Mountain Biking and Cycling groups or pages. I started one for CT NEMBA. There is another called iBike, as well as Cranfire.com and Ridefetish.com both have a presence there. I am sure there are others but I just haven't had time to explore any further.

If you are a bike commuter yourself, I would recommend joining LinkedIn, and find the group Bicycle to Work and ask to join and then you can blog your commuter stories.

Mountain Bike Instructor?

Is this guy for real? He'll teach you how to ride a mountain bike? While it's pretty enterprising it's also hokey if you ask me. Save yourself some coin and just ride with someone who is better than you and knows what they are doing on the trail.

If you can't change a flat while on the trail, maybe you shouldn't be riding but you can go to your LBS and have them teach you how to fix a flat. Experiment yourself, too. If it wasn't for trying new things, I would have never been able to fix a flat I had commuting once and would have to hung my head in disgust and limped home.

Now, is this guy really a mountain biker or just a roadie who rides mountain bikes? I am all for spandex for races and quick workouts but come on, where are the baggies? And where is the offer to teach skinny riding, rollers, and hucks? Maybe that's part of the package deal. Of course, Long Island being flat and unchallenging might not have any of the fun stuff.

I guess it's not unheard of, paying for riding lessons, Middlesex College in Middletown, CT did something similar this past summer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It ain't no Pista but ...

... it's my Bianchi Classica Fixed Gear on Craigslist. I might even be able to sell this and move onto my next project, another SS/Fixed Gear commuter, which is a larger frame with drop bars. I traded my Magellan Explorist for a Rolf 700c wheelset. It's geared but I have a spacer kit and single Shimano styled cogs that I can use till I get find a good deal on a track wheelset. All I need for this next bike is a new set of tires, tubes, bar tape, new brake cables, and aero brake covers (forget what they are called).

It's not a 59 cm, rather 58 cm. The allure of my next MonsterCross project has motivated me into selling this bike and hopefully with the proceeds I will be able to get a decent 29er frame for the build. The other carrot of my motivation is this ad on the Long Island CList: Kona Jake the Snake 59 cm. Man, I want this bike! If I can get between $4 and $5 hundy for the Bianchi I could get it.

It won't surfice my MonsterCross needs but I have always wanted this type of bike from Kona. Not sure what the allure is but that bike speaks to me! Sent the seller an email to see if would be willing to meet in Port Jeff. Take the ferry without a bike. Buy it, ride around Port Jeff for a bit and then take the ferry home with the bike. Could be fun.

Where's Waldo Trail Trail Maintenance Event

Work on Where's Waldo Trail continues this Sat. Aug. 30. Meet 8:30am at entrance.

Possible ride after on trail plus some unexplored trails near river.
Lunch will be served.

Waldo Park is on Purchase Brook Rd in Southbury ( near Shepaug Dam).

Bring water, work gloves, and snack. Long pants probably a good idea, and so is bug spray.

Contact, peburton@aol.com, 203-426-5369 for more information

View Larger Map

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Another 29er in Fairfield County!

What's this? A Specialized 29er sitting in front of Cycle Fitness in Monroe? Another mountain biker has tasted the koolaid! I figure the owner of this bike must work at the shop because it was parked there when we drove by headed to the Trumbull Rail Trail and it was still there on the way home.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rail Trail riding with Grandpa - the Video!

Riding with Grandpa on Vimeo.

Rail Trail riding with Grandpa

Hooked up the Burley Trailer to the commuter bike and attached the Topeak Baby Seat that a buddy gave me a couple of weeks ago. We met Grandpa Larry at Whitney Avenue in Trumbull and rode off on the northern section, paved, of the Trumbull Rail Trail. Unfortunately it dead ends on this spur of the trail at the town line with Monroe. The other spur that I rode with the kids last Thanksgiving ends up at the Trumbull Landfill and continues into Monroe, however, I have yet to follow that portion of the trail all the way through.

Brody is a perfect fit for the Topeak Baby seat. It's rated to 22 Kg or 48 pounds. Elliot is on the border because he weighs somewhere around 40+ pounds, but Brodie weighing in at 29 pounds is perfect.
Brodie is such a ham!

Elliot just loves to hang!

We stopped off at the pavillion that is up the hill at Old Mine Park for a snack and a little rest. Here is the rig. Rode with the freewheel on this trip because it was the first time and didn't want to have any problems. Still, the additional 75+ pounds made for a great workout.

Nothing beats apple juice for my boys on a hot day of bike riding!

After riding the paved portion, we went down the gravel portion. Looks like the town resurfaced this portion and it made for really nice riding.

Here is the ride profile

Here is a map of the ride from MTBGuru - hope it works!

Otherwise, here is the link: Riding the Trumbull Rail Trail.

There will be a video but I am working with a new host, Vimeo, and I can't seem to find where the embedding code is at this point.

Of course, it wouldn't be a bike ride, without hitting the local ice cream shop on the way home! We stopped at Dr Mike's in Monroe.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday's Ride Statistics

This is a really cool profile because the portion of the ride along the lake is the lowest part on the elevation profile, and it gives you more detail on the climb up the connector trail and fire road to the start of the Gussy Trail.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Upper Paugussett: Gnarly Singletrack

Above is a map of today's ride after holding a Trail Maintenance Session on the Upper Gussy Trail. Before starting off some horseback riders came buy and the lead horse was ridden by Cindy, who is working with me to build the Upper Gussy Trail.

We rode up the Brody Road and before we headed down the white trail, Rich had to check his voice mail before we rode into the no cell area of Upper Paugussett. Rich was on call for work. There were quite a few walkers in the forest today, too. As we were taking this break, three popped out from the white trail. Not very well dressed for the occasion for a hike - Upper Paugussett has a lot of ticks and you should be dressed accordingly, otherwise you will get them on you.

Except for the downed tree in the swampy area, the white trail is fun to ride, there are two stone walls to ride through, and a mean little uphill climb that looks like a no brainer but unless you are in the right gear for it at the onset, you'll choke. I did, at least. Rich made it look easy. The white trail ends at the intersection with the Newtown Trailway, or Al's Trail.

This is a multi-use trail that parallels Lake Lillilohnah through most of Upper Paugussett State Forest, only at this point it cuts inland to this point that is called Kissing Oaks. There are two oak trees that grew side-by-side and have grown together at points that make them look like they are kissing. There is a little box with a log that you can sign saying that you have been there.

Then we headed north down the trailway. It's a fast down hill that snakes in and around trees, almost like a pump track and then ends at some really gnarly, technical rock gardens. There is one section that is almost unrideable due to the steepness of the trail, that is unless you want ruin it by skidding down the dirt just so that you can stay on the bike. This steep section ends at a stream crossing and then the trail descends through another gnarly, technical rock garden.

At the bottom, the trail swings west, and follows the shore of Lake Lillilohnah. All along this part of the trail it flows through sweet singletrack with more and more rock gardens to sharpen your skills and harden your wits. There was once section that I fell on two years ago and ended up cracking a rib, and since then have walked it every time. This time, however, I didn't think twice and cleaned it's clock.

The trail intersects with the lower section of the Gussy Trail, which is more of a connector trail between Pond Brook and Brody Road (fire road that cuts the park in half). It's a nice little climb, to say the least. Once you are on the Brody Road, the real fun begins with a fun, warm up climb past the old Jalopy to get the blood pumping, in case the climb up the connector trail didn't do it for you. Then there is the long climb that starts where the blue trail intersects with the forest road, passes the intersection with the connector trail for the Mulikin Trail, climbs past the intersection with the yellow trail and then flattens out at the base before steepest section.

The last climb must ascend at a pitch of 20 to 25 percent and on a bike, that is pretty steep. after the steepest section, you are not done because this portion of the climb doesn't stop until you are at the intersection with the Gussy Trail. As usual, In the video below Rich is shown ascending the second climb. He got up most of third climb, too. I did all three climbs without asking Granny for assistance, but keep in mind, I do this route a lot, on my single speeds.

All that work pays off once you hit the Gussy Trail because it flows so nicely, even through the rock gardens and up and overs (thanks trail gnomes!). We stopped off at the Three Sisters and rolled them, then rode through the new benched section. I thought we would be the first through, but there were a fresh set of waffles already in the dirt!

At Via Roma we ran into Tom Ramsdell who, like I said, was engaged in his own version of trail maintenance. We chatted for a bit and then headed off up the trail from here. He said that he smoothed out the Wet Spot and I was afraid to see what that meant. It turns out, he cut this part of the trail in half, putting all the rocks on one side for the bikes to ride atop and leaving the other side soft.

I had to adjust a few of the rocks so it was more like an armored crossing and I might have to do a little more work on it later this week. Still it rides nicely. I for one like to ride rocks but I bet as time goes on, and the Wet Spot gets some moisture in the fall, winter, and spring, the section Tom opened up is going to turn into another mud wallow. At that point, we are going to have to haul some gravel in.

The rest of the trail was business as usual. We rolled the roller at the blue trail crossing and then hammered home.

Below is my composite map of North Newtown Trails. I can't decide what I like better, though, the lighter opacity topo or no opacity. With no opacity, you need to increase the track saturation on GSP Visualizer to 100% to make it really stand out. The question is, how will it look printed out. I think for the map to be really useful, some landmarks need to be called out especially if you are not familiar with the area.

This map won't be complete until I have ridden the Dinglebrook Trails. I think it's time to take the 'Horse to Dinglebrook! Here is map of the trail system I mad a long time ago and had published Bikerag.com. It will give you some landmarks and directions on how to find this place. Newtown Bridle Lands Association has taken a greater interest in this area and apparently one there has been some blow downs in the area that some believe was the result of a micro-burst.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Friday Fix: Commuting

The Friday Fix is a little late this week because it's more of a live or after the fact post. I did my short commute on the fixed gear today and it was awesome! My short commute is 18 miles, only there was a detour today that took me a mile out of my on the route to work. The clip of me riding was made by putting the camera between the bars and my handlebar pack. Might have to try making more of these. What I really need to do is make a handlebar mount for the camera and take video/pictures while riding.

It was pretty cold this morning on the way in, 56 degrees and foggy. I wore my NEMBA TA Jacket for 3/4s of the ride but took it off when I got to Stony Hill Road. I also wore my new Tilfosi polycromatic glasses that I picked up at Class Cycles on Tuesday.

I learned something new about my riding shoes, I am using the first pair of shoes that started riding clipless with, a pair of Cannondale Roams. Mine actually look better than these, although the soles are a bit shot.

They have these loops and snaps on the outer side of the shoe.

I had alway thought they were holding your pants down but what they are really for is to secure your laces so that they don't get caught in your cranks, which happened to me and nearly yanked me off the bike this morning.

On the way home, I took a few pictures of this cute barn that is next to the road on Obtuse Rd.

Nice rack!

The two Girrafes in the window are very touching and yet very odd. You'd expect a fake horse or cow but instead it's a Girrafe, and not one but two!

I have to say, though, at the drafting of this post, my legs are tight! Riding fixed gear is a far better workout than singlespeed. I think I am smitten with fixed gear and I am going to try my distance route next week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Poop Patrol!

Rode before Work Tuesday morning at Upper Paugussett. Lots of waffle tracks on the trails, too. In fact last weekend after coming back from the Pond Brook Boat Ramp I ran into a couple for Pennsylvania that came to Upper Paugussett State Forest specifically to ride the Upper Gussy Trail! There were also quite a bit of fresh horse tracks on the Brody Road and the Gussy Trail.

I haven't ridden the 69er in over two months and I figured it was time to get out on the trail again. I can't get over how well this bikes rides. The 69er concept is awesome and never dissapoints. The one change I am going to make, though, is it's time for a gear change! I am going to to an 18t on the Fixation and I will got to a 20t on the Qball. Looking at my three mountain bikes on Sporttracks, I have the most mileage on the Fixation, 397 miles after Tuesday's ride. The Qball has 375 miles, and the 'Horse has 196 miles.

You might recall that I wrote a few posts about various samples of Equine Excrement that initially adorned the Gussy Trail. In fact it sparked the ire of the local Equestrienne club that is working with me on building the Gussy Trail. However, what they didn't seem to understand at first, it took a lot of explaining and explaining, that in order to be good trail stewards we have to be conscious of what we do on and to the trail. I think I got the point across to some of the organization's members.

Now there could be a plausible explanation for poop found in the picture above. Either the rider was not privy (no pun intended) to the earlier issue and resolution or the horse that pooped on the trail here was the trail horse and the rider didn't realize that Trigger was letting loose with a buschel of road apples. Since my human suspension system needed a break from riding by this point, I decided to clean off the trail myself.

I think I might have mentioned in a previous post that the trail gnomes were busy making tweaks to the trail, mainly by adding rocks to various obstacles along the trail. Well, there has been more work and it keeps getting better and better.

The third stream crossing needed some adjusting from the horse traffic. That is expected and it's nice to see that they can use the tiling that I installed. The bypass at Via Roma seems to be holding well, too. I can tell that quite a few bikes have crossed through here by the position of the rocks.

The mini up-and-over/rock skinny I put in the Wet Spot really makes riding through there easy. The rest of the trail from here hasn't changed much. I have added a new leg in the Echo Valley Loopy that adds almost another mile to the ride by riding down Echo Valley (paved) proper and then taking Tamarack (dirt) back to Hanover (paved). While I hate riding pavement with knobbies the dirt component makes up for that nicely.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New England Singletrack: Bennett's Pond

Bennetts Pond: One of my favorite places to ride in Fairfield County and riding the 'Horse here makes it even better. The last time I rode here was on the Qball, SS and with some new squish, when I did a whopping 9.5 mile ride. Pete and his brother Mike showed up, along with the Bennett's Pond usual suspects, Lee and Alex around 8 AM. Alex said the green trail north of the old mansion used to be was getting choked with grass from the field and overgrown with thicket before that, so we headed down the Nursery trail first.

Our intention was to get to the overlook on Pine Mountain and it was pretty good riding the ueber technical singletrack of the ridge trail. The 'Horse was definitely in it's element and all the bike commuting I did the past week helped me immensely with my climbing, and of course I never had help from Granny. I don't know why I don't just go 1x9.

At the 2.5 mile mark, we hit the hike-a-bike from hell. A quarter mile almost straight up for a 300 foot climb. Need to try the back jeep trail sometime and see how the 'Horse does on it. While I haven't called on Granny yet since getting the 'Horse, that might be a worthy cause to require her assistance. I think I might have to give in to the Granny at Little Vomit at Huntington, too.

Here is the view at the look out on Pine Mountain. This is 1000 feet above sea level and I read somewhere, maybe the Ridgefield Walk Book, that Pine Mountain was the highest point on the east coast within 20 miles of the shore. In Trumbull, it's Tashua Mountain within 10 miles of the shore.

Rest stop at the look out. Pete (left), Lee in the middle, and a Alex's back on the right.
Shot of me with my NEMBA jersey that I got at the Happening at Huntington but haven't had a good opportunity to wear it.

Down along the Ives Trail, Alex decided to do a little TM. This tree just wasn't close enough to the ground for an up and over.

When Lee showed up, it reminded me of that Bear paint commercial where everybody gathers around to watch the paint dry.

A little more maneuvering and cutting ...

... finally yielded a nice cut and no longer a rest stop. Of course, a hundred yards further down the trail is another, fatter tree across the trail. Still, it was a good team effort!

Here is picturesque view of Bennett's Pond from the east end of the valley. This part of the trail (Green) is really nice now that all the blow downs have been removed.

Close up of the valley. I think it was worth every ounce of effort that Ridgefield Open Space Association and the Town did to preserve this area.