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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Calm before the storm

Sunday's weather report was for snow starting at 6 AM and then turning over to rain. When I got up it was still sunny so I jumped on the Qball and headed out. Got the 'Horse back from the shop and the Bicycle Center in Brookfield did an outstanding job but I didn't feel like getting it all mucked up right now. If fact since I am going to race the Qball this season, I might as well get as much saddle time on it in the woods as possible.

Rode over to Upper Paugussett this morning and it was around 25 degrees and partly cloudy. Felt good to be out on the bike. There was an interesting little sign on the Trail Board at the Echo Valley lot. Guess someone was running their dog and lost the leash and someone found it and hung it there for the owner to find. Nice use of the band aid instead of tape.

In the map above you can see I have new loop that I think I finally perfected. It will be good for XC skiing as well. Granted I would rather try to find some way to take the white trail all the way back to the fire road. There is a big tree down in the middle of trail, right in the middle of a wet area making the trail impassable. Need to explore that area a little more and see if there something else that can happen.

While it appears that there has been more ATV incurrsions on the fire road they seem to be staying off the Gussy. The Upper Gussy looks pretty good but there were a lot downed branches and twigs making it stop and go. I cleared the big stuff off.

I noticed this downed tree earlier but didn't have time to do anything about it. Ironically how it fell where the other one is, turning it into a bigger up and over. I did a little improvement work, too to make it more rideable.

It seems someone has taken it upon themselves to block the trail by the Log Ride Short. Love how they ruined a perfectly good sapling to block something they had no right in doing. I fixed it with my collapsible saw. Granted this benched area needs a little more work and I plan on getting to it this spring.

This was an interesting thing that found along the way. I didn't go near it but first I thought it was a brick until I noticed that is appeared to disentigrating/melting. I wonder if it's a salt lick? That might explain the runoff. If it is, I think that is illegal and next time through, if it's still there I will probably kick it off into the woods.

The little off shoot loop only adds another mile to the ride.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Winter's Reprieve at the Racebrook Tract

Got out on the Qball Saturday and it was worth every minute of it even though the trails were simply dual track. Met up with a few fellow CT NEMBA Trail Ambassadors to do a Trail Recon (full write up can be found on the CT NEMBA blog) for the possibility of a new mountain biking trail at the Racebrook Tract in Orange, CT. I'd been going to the 'Horse mostly this winter but had to take her in for a tune up because I had given up on the rear derailler. After that flat tire at Dinglebrook and the subsequent man handling I think it needed some skilled attention.

The Racebrook Tract is a neat little park just outside of New Haven that has really cool history behind it. Further up Route 34 is a little lake called the Wepawaug Reservoir. It seems that in the early 1900s someone decided that they needed to draw water from this reservoir to the Maltby Lakes so they built a tunnel from reservoir to these lakes. There is very little information online on this tunnel and it only get's a mention in a state brochure of the Racebrook Tract.

The Racebrook Tract encompasses 210 acres in Orange and 181 acres in Woodbridge. The Tract was purchased from two farmers, Asa Alling and Sylvester Colburn, by the New Haven Water Company early in the 20th century. The stone walls which crisscross the Tract are the original farm fences. The two circuitous trails both start in Orange and cross over into Woodbridge. The longer trail is just over 2.5 miles. These relatively level trails generally pass through mixed hardwoods but parts of the white, purple, and red trails pass through impressive stands of white pines planted in 1909. These are a reminder that the area was originally planted in several varieties of evergreens.

Timber harvests were conducted periodically by the Regional Water Authority and firewood permits were issued. As a result the forest is delightfully open. Just off the parking lot there is a handicapped accessible board walk through some interesting wetlands. The management of this forest was put under the direction of the Yale School of Forestry early in the 20th century and continued until the early 1950’s when water company foresters took over. This was one of the first professionally managed forests in the country.

Because of its large size and its proximity to open space all the way to the Maltby Lakes this is a marvelous wildlife area. The varied habitats: streambelts, forests, wetlands, meadows, and brush make this attractive to a variety of animals and songbirds. Many species of reptiles and amphibians find the habitat to their liking and even avian predators such as the Great-horned Owl can occasionally be seen.

The Ox Shed was built and used during the construction of the Wepawaug Tunnel, parallel to the white blazed trail, built in the early 1900’s between the Wepawaug Reservoir on Route 34 and the Maltby Lakes to combine the runoff from the two watersheds. It is not in use at present. The Ox Shed was originally used a paymaster’s shed for teams hauling to and from the tunnel construction. Later it was used to shelter oxen, mules, and horses.
In the back ground of the picture below you can make out what appears to be a road bed. I think this was for the tunnel from where it must of exited the ground somewhere towards the intersection with Route 114 and 34 in order to cross over the Race Brook.

My guess is that the "Tunnel" was merely a large pipe and this water pump (below), in the middle of no where, was probably connected to it.

If you are looking for single track, this is not the place for you at this point in time, however, if need a place to take the family or want get a little taste of riding off road then this place is the ticket. If CT NEMBA is allowed to put a trail in here then it will make this place even better.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I love candy!

Got my fifth set of Crank Brothers pedals the other day. Friend of mine got a new bike but rides Shimano she sold them to me for $25. Now I have a pair of Mallet Cs, Acids, smarty, and 2 pairs of Candies! All I am missing is a pair of eggbeaters and quattros. These will look great on the Fixation when I rebuild it.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

The only thing fixed gears and XC Skiing have in common is ...

... no brakes! Still not riding because of all the snow we still have so I have gone back to XC Skiing. Went back to Upper Paugussett today. Again, perfect snow for the type of skiing I like which is basically bust your own track. The fire road is pretty well packed down and you can really get going on it.

Below are the tracks of my last three adventures in the forest. The red line represents the ride I tried last month which was an utter disaster that forced me to accept that mountain biking done for the winter in these parts. The green line is my pre Superbowl exploration and the blue is today's track.

There is some really good potential west of the fire road. I revisted that trail I found coming off the fire road and skiied to the rock wall and continued to follow it but that wasn't really a trail. Still I busted some track till I found a break in the stone wall and then looped back around to the south west following an old skidder trail. I have ridden back here a few times but the area is choked with little saplings.

I headed over to the Kissing Oak loop. Going clockwise was much better then last weekend except one westward facing slope had no snow and ever where there was snow, in order to stay on the white trail I had to side step up the hill. Took a shot of myself at Kissing Oak and then headed out to try and perfect what I am calling the Kissing Oak Loop.

Found this bottle of Flying Dog Amber hiding behind a tree with a chiped top. Before packing it out I thought a little photo op would be appropriate.

My track into the big Cut Down. I love when it's 45 degrees and the snow is so soft and slick. Even busting a new track you can still get a good glide.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Perfect snow for ...

Cross Country Skiing! Sunday warmed up to 40+ degrees and after the ride last weekend I decided it was time to try the skis instead. I think it was a wise choice because the top layer of ice from last week's storm has melded into the underlying snow. When this happens it creates corn snow conditions that are excellent for back country XC skiing because when you are busting your own track you still get plenty of glide.

It dawned on me after the ride last weekend that if I want to find potentially new trails the best way to find them would be on foot or in this case, skis, so I can cover more ground. Snow is the great equalizer. It flattens everything out and really defines trails, especially ones that have not been used in years. I found what appears to have been a side trail coming off the fire road that meets up with a stone wall and could possibly make a nice parallel trail to the fire road.

I didn't try to define that track any further, rather, I cut eastwards and wanted to check out the area between the fire road and the last area of forestry operations, where I have ridden in the past to check things out. Except for the initial opening part that eventually leads to a skidder path that ends up on the trail to the shore there isn't anything else back there.

Doesn't make any sense to lay anything down at this point because the area between Gussy Trail and Fire Road, as well as, the area east of the Fire Road has been market for forestry. Still it was worth seeing how the topography is laid out.

My first foray into the woods east of the Fire Road was educational. There are numerous plots of land surrounded by stone walls and there is a huge wet area in the section where the contour lines make a V. I think if you follow the stone walls there could be a good route through there. The only drawback is when you pick up where the forestry operations occurred there is so much slag that you can barely move freely in there.

Coming out of the forestry practises area I laid a new set of ski tracks. I wasn't really paying attention to where the tracks from last weekend led but I made my own loop and there is potential for much more.

I started out busting my own track on the Fire Road (below) but the packed down section was just as good and I made much better time.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Snack is referenced in a CList ad!

Some of you that read this blog appear to be using the Feedjit wigit and it can be really useful to see who is visiting your blog and from where.  In fact I keep it book marked on my browser and check it from time to time to see where people are coming from.  So I checked it this morning and found that I am being referenced on a bike sale for a Peugeot UO-8. on Craigslist!  I wonder if I should write the seller and ask for a percentage?  Doubt it.  Still, kind of cool.