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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Weekend Fixie Riders or Posers?

Walking down Park Avenue on Wednesday heading to my favorite Indian Restaurant on 47th between 3rd and Lex I came across a few singlespeeds.  First was this nice Dawes Track Bike but upon closer inspection the chain wasn't around the fixed gear cog, rather the free wheel?  C'mon, you are in NYC, you are riding a track bike, with one brake, and you are riding free wheel?  Where is the Vagisil?

Nice fenders

Rusty Chain yet shiny new cranks and pedals?

At least it has a break but if you only have one brake, do you really need two levers?

And then there was the Surly Steamroller.

With a tugnut even, but again, what's with the freewheel?

And a well used Brooks saddle.

And of course, one brake lever.
If it wasn't for the freewheel, this is would be perfection!
So when do they ride fixed?  On the weekends?  Might as well get a coaster brake.
Must be Weekend Hipsters!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I can't believe I almost sold this bike.

Somebody emailed me the other day interested in buying the Stinson. We met Monday for a test ride but he wasn't sure whether he wanted the Stinson or a new 27 speed Giant OCR road bike. In the end he went for the road bike, that's a nulkulturny move like picking a Coors Light over a PBR, but I am glad he did because if he wanted it Monday I would have sold it to him.  After riding to work on Tuesday ... I realized that would have been pure folly to let this bike go.  It is my all weather, fixed gear commuter and with the new gearing, it is awesome.  I am still a little slow on some of my hills but the bigger chain ring up front gives me a lot more control on descents.  

Not sure if I am going to go back to the handlebar bag.  It works nicely on the Tandem and I sort of like not having the big gaping bag upfront.  I can put my light up front rather on the fork blade and have more room to mount my camera while using this little seat bag to hold stuff that would normally go in my pockets.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Station Bike: Brewster

Saw this lovely Roadmaster at the Brewster Train Station this weekend.  Didn't get too close to it so I am not sure what the bag on the bars was for.  You would think the bag would be on the seat.  Maybe it's for the seat.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Katie's first taste of dirt!

Katie and I rode over to Upper Paugussett State Forest for her first mountain bike ride.  I figured a quick run up and down Poly Brody to get her used to riding on rough terrain and give her chance to get used to changing gears and climbing.

She got winded on the first climb so we took the rest pretty easy.  I clearly need to get her riding a lot more so she can build up her stamina.  She was very determined not to walk, sometimes it just couldn't be helped.

The last big hill, we walked it together.  This is actually a really tough section that I had trouble getting up when I started riding.  While it's dual track, the rocks are a lot bigger and there are leaves all over the place.  To clean the climb, especially on a Single Speed, you need to figure out the right lines.  She got up half way, where we posed for this picture and then finished walking to the top where we had a snack and some water.

I am getting her her own hydration pack  I will probably just give her one of the Hydrapaks that I one last year.  It's red and will match her bike nicely and I will go back to my brown one.  We road of total of 5.5 miles from the house and back, 4 of which were on dirt.  She loved it and can't wait to go again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Katie's new whip

I got a great deal on a Cannondale Chase for my daughter Katie on Saturday.  I had been eyeballing this bike for a year now.  I was ordered for a customer but it was too small.  It's perfect for my daughter!  It's her birthday present.  When she is ready for some off road riding I will have to put some grippier tires on it but for right now, it's perfect for rail trails, the yard, and the driveway.

Pretty soon Katie and I will both be riding 1x8s once I get a shifter for my Dillinger!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Friday Fix: Post Mortem

Is it still winter?  When I got up Friday morning the upstairs thermometer read 24 degrees and the downstairs thermometer is always 3 or 4 degrees less than that, so I was probably riding in temperatures initially around 20 or 21 degrees.  Since the ride tights were dirty from mountain biking earlier this week I went to my old Army Physical Fitness Uniform pants which are great for riding because they consist of a gortex like outer shell and mesh layer that comes in contact with the skin.  My legs never get cold.

I couldn't find my over booties.  The only thing I could figure out is that I left them at the office.  So, looking for something I went with my new Serfas wind covers and they were absolutely no help.  My feet froze on the way in to work on Friday.  I really think it's time to get a pair of Lake MX300s because in the 20 to 30 temperature range my feet freeze and I think my Shimano winter riding boots have just about had it.

It might be freaking cold
but riding makes me happy!

Now these are booties!  I wore them on the ride home because it was still kind of cold out Friday afternoon.  In fact, the high for Friday was 40 and when I check the local weather before leaving the office it said it was 38 degrees.

On the ride home, I wore my cold weather riding gloves, which I think have had it, too.  They have to be at least 4 or 5 years old.  I bought them at Hickory and Tweed when I still worked in Armonk.  Yikes.  They lasted a pretty long time.  Seems a lot of my kit is nearing end of life.  My tights are getting worn out, the elastic on two pairs of riding shorts are shot and the chamois is nearly falling out of one, too.

Holy Cow!  Riding with the new gearing, 44:15 or 79.2 gear inches was brutal on every climb to work Friday morning and back home.  I knew I was biting off more than I could chew with that gearing, especially after discovering that I was originally riding 38:15 or 68.4 gear inches.  While climbing sucked, hammering the flats was awesome and on my descents, the bigger ring was much easier to keep control of.  I am going to go to 44:17, or 69.9 gear inches and see what a difference that makes.  The closest I can get to 42:15, or 75.6 gear inches, is 44:16, or 74.3 gear inches.

Concluding my 5th commute, I am now 1/10th of the way towards my goal of 1000 commuting miles!  Of course once the kids are out of school, however who knows when that will be since they got so many snow days this year, I plan on increasing the frequency to 3x a week which could get me to my goal much sooner.

Sign On to NEMBA's Testimony Supporting HB 6557

Sign on to NEMBA's Testimony in favor of extending liability protections to municipalities that allow for free and public recreation or Attend Judiciary Committee Hearing

Connecitcut's Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on HB 6557, An Act Concerning Liability for the Recreational Use of Land.  This bill would extend protections to munipalities that allow for public recreation.  Importantly, the new language specifically includes "bicycling" as one of the recreational uses, something NEMBA has been arguing to include.  It is important for mountain bikers to support this legislation since it will help more recreation on muncicipal properties, such as the MDC.
The hearing is tentatively scheduled for 10am, Monday, April 4th in Room 2C of the Legislative Office Building.  We urge you to attend to show support and give testimony.

The Friday Fix: Fixing the Fixie

Last week, while riding home I had to make a little adjustment to my seatpost and I took this picture off my bars.  The 400 mm seat post and the long stem means I am now stretched out like a like to be.  Now, if the weather would cooperate and I don't have any more vagisil moments during the week I am going to get down to some serious pedaling.

The other day, I was at the Goodie Shop picking up some parts and got this crankset for $10, which I think it's off BMX bike.  Taking off my old Suginios I looked at the old chain ring and discovered that it was 38t!  And all this time I thought I was riding a 42t!  The new chainring is a 44t and to get close to the Sheldon Brown Standard (42:15) I would need a 16t.  Since I don't have one, I stuck with the 15, so we'll see what it's like later this morning.

No matter how many times I think it would be fun to coast in certain places the challenges of riding fix, for me, seem to greatly outweigh being able to coast down hills.  Not to mention the benefits of riding fix keep piling up because up until the time I started riding fixed I was always a lousy climber on my mountain bike but now I am a much better climber.

There don't appear to be many fixie riders in my area which is called the foothills of the Berkshires which includes Northern Fairfield and New Haven Counties, as well as Southern Litchfield County.  In fact the only other nearby fixie rider that I know of in this area lives down in Wilton and has a blog called iBike 29er.  I credit Pete for getting me into this type of riding.  Another fixie rider, and (semi) professional single speed, mountain bike racer, lives up in West Hartford and the author of Charlie Rides a Bike.  There might be a fixie rider or two in the BeatBikeBlog, too.  Who else rides fixed here in Connecticut?

Is it the topography that scares people?  There was a guy at the Goodie Shop eyeballin a fixie and he was asking all sorts of questions that I jumped in to answer.  He chief concern was going downhill and not being able to coast.  That is when I told him that is one of the major training benefits of riding fixed because you have to learn to control your descents  so that you don't look like a gerbil in a HabiTrail.  Do those things still exist, or have they been taken over by Zhu Zhu pests?

One thing for sure is that unless you started riding in a more metropolitan environment the chances of anyone getting into fixed gear riding seems to go way, way down.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mr Happy saves the Day!

Mr Happy Stem
After my commute last week and the ride at the Blow Hole (aka River Highlands State Park) the stem that I had on the Qball just wasn't fitting right.  I felt squished in the cockpit.  Ironically, while my kids were riding around drive way on Friday, I noticed that one of the bikes was sporting the stem that I originally had two years ago.  On Sunday, I switched out stems and on Wednesday I got to test it out.

Oh what a feeling!
This is it!  Riding the bike I don't feel squished into the cock pit anymore and the hand positions feel so natural, too.  The Fme bars fit so well and are the perfect complement for the Monster Cross.  One thing I have found is that they they don't work well for an out of the saddle climbing position but now that I think about neither did the Woodchippers.  To climb, I find myself scrunching up in the cockpit as if I were riding a full susser mountain bike.  I cleaned every climb yesterday and without asking for Granny's assistance!

The one thing I can't get over is every time I ride this bike on single track is how soft it is compared to riding the Dillinger or even the Fetish Fixation 69er as rigid bikes.  Aluminum is just so harsh and unforgiving and it's funny, when I first got the Qball I think I rode it for 6 months rigid and hated it because at the time I just couldn't appreciate it.  Now that I have been on three separate aluminum bikes, both rigid, hardtail, and even full suspension, I finally understand when some says that Steel is Real.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Damn, that felt good!

Monday night I checked Weather.com and it said snow on Tuesday so I figured I wasn't riding to work and stayed way past my bed time.  Tuesday morning it's absolutely beautiful out, now the forecast says snow on Wednesday and into Thursday.  So I blew my chances for bike commuting this week unless of course the snow we get on Wednesday turns out to be your typical southern New England spring snow, here today and gone tomorrow.

I figured if I rushed home from work I would have enough to get some saddle time on the Dillinger and it paid off.  Of course on the way home I was trying to figure out what I should wear because I don't want to over heat and at the same time I don't want to freeze.  Front brake was a little squeaky going down the driveway and as I suspected the crappy cable I used on the back brake was indeed crappy.  Fortunately, I picked some nicer to cable today at the Goodie Shop, along with a new crankset for the Marin (44t), a 20t Surly cog  and SRAM PC-1 for the diSSent.

As I had expected, the Poly Brody had some muddy sections, this one below is about 100 yards from the Echo Valley lot.  Otherwise further up the trail it was fine.  However, stay off the Mulikin Trail.  There are some blow downs I have to tend to and it was really soft.  The section from the stone wall down to the quick S turn was really soft and it was like walking in a perpetual sea of dog shit.  There is also a blow down here two making this section unrideable as well.  The back side of the Poly Brody got blasted by that last rain.

Riding up the back side of Poly I cleaned the Girl Friend and the Mistress but I couldn't get it up for the Wife.  The washout is much more pronounced and I attacked it from the right and at the cross over half way up is where I stalled out making the tranny to the left side.  She is a cold hearted climb.  I should have cut over sooner but the right side was a bit wider.  I think I am going to have to do some trail work in here.  First daliance of the season, there will be more dates to service all three.

Taco Stand
As I expected the Gussy was perfect!  That's the difference between a sustainable trail and one that is not.  I by passed the hole on the descent where I taco'd at Xmas. It's right between this stand of four trees.  I didn't stop to fix it because I was filming the ride, next time through I will do something about it.  

Log ride short
I didn't ride the Log Ride Short because it seemed wet and it can get really slippery and dangerous. 

Log Ride Huck

Then it was over to the other log ride which was a good huck.  It seems as though a blow down that I moved the last time I was in here, snowshoeing, has found it self back into the trail.  I hope that doesn't mean we have a malicious trail gnome here.

Third Stream Crossing
Again, some rocks looked out of place at the third stream crossing (first if you are coming down the trail) but it could have been a good natured trail gnome fixing this one section that often gets a little muddy.  By the looks of the banks it appears that last big rain storm really got this stream going.

From here everything looked pretty normal but the wet spot was really wet.  I think I might have to do some more armoring here this year.  There is a big tree that has to come down after the ROW.  It's leaning against another tree and until it does in fact come down I think it would be prudent to go around it until is comes down.  It will make a great skinny when it does come down though.

The Dillinger performed pretty well.  My rear brake was a little sticky but I knew that going into the ride and have a new brake cable for it.  The Blunts are nice and while the Krest 9rs are in fact a little heavy the extra grip was much appreciated.  Great start to the 2011 training season, although I am about a month late.  Damn snow!  And there is more coming today!