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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Morning Eye Opener

Unless I have a race on a Saturday, trying to find time to ride with all the kids activities tends to be difficult to try and ride midday or in the afternoon.  Since I have been getting up early this week anyway I figured that since I will be up early on Saturday, let's head over to Collis P Huntington SP and take the diSSent out on some new trail.  I started off by hitting Rock & Roll from the North and that was a big mistake riding single speed, and probably for me on any other bike.  Needless to say, there was some walking.

I don't know what it is, whether I am still skittish from the crash at Winding Trails or just haven't ridden enough tech on the diSSent but I found myself taking it really easy through a lot of stuff that I would normally just blast through.  I rode the blue trail over to the Glacial Erratic Trail and then back to blue.  Then took the stream trail back to blue and wound my way back on the blue, white and red trails and then back to blue.

I got almost half way up Little Vomit, nothing new there, and then followed the single track that eventually hooks back up with the Blue Trail.  Never rode the Blue Trail in this direction and it turned out to be a real nice challenge with quite a bit of climbing and some nice descents.  Then it was down to the Big Burn and back towards the lot, only I had a few minutes to spare so took a speed lap on the red and back to blue.

Surprised at the amount of mud at Huntington this year, but then again, it's been rather wet.  I noted quite a few places where some board walks would be prudent.  Something to think about for my grant proposal.  Ended up riding 9 miles and I am now planning on making this a regular event, the Saturday Morning Eye Opener Ride Series.  Hitting the riding areas that are within a 20 minute drive of my house which include Huntington, Upper Paugussett, Burr Farm, Waldo, Sunny Valley, and once I am a little more accustomed to it, Mine Hill.

The Proposed HouBike Trail, a 45 mile Greenway

By Alice Tessier, Litchfield County Times
A proposal for a 45-mile “HouBike” Trail is now being con­sidered, running from New Milford to Ashley Falls in Massachusetts. And in Brookfield, due south in Northern Fairfield County, plans are already moving on another greenway project that might extend someday to New Milford.
To the north, the HouBike Trail would “connect” several communities in Litchfield County: New Milford, Sherman, Kent, Warren, Cornwall, West Cornwall, Sharon, Salisbury, Canaan (Falls Village) and North Canaan.
I had heard an inkling for this in that this trail/greenway would share the other part of the Housatonic Railroad bed, which would be the only way this could happen but in order to do something like that, you would have to fence off the trail from the tracks, if that is what they are thinking.  That means 45 miles of fencing!

Friday, April 29, 2011

I should have waited

I have lost track of what day this is in the 30 days of biking challenge.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to ride all 30 days but I thought I would get in one last commute this month knowing that Friday I had to go to NYC for work and wouldn't be able to ride.  Hopefully, though, my knobbies might see some dirt on Saturday.

Beautiful ride to work on Thursday morning but I got a lot of feedback from Facebook and Twitter saying that the ride home was going to be nasty.  NewsChannel8's forecast was for rain by dinner time so I put my trust in them.  Turning onto Pocono Rd in Newtown I felt a little wobble but figured it to be low tire pressure. Felt it again when I turned onto Old Bethel Rd but the wobble got more pronounced and I looked down to see my rear wheel wobbling something fierce.  If I had rim brakes I probably would have noticed it first off but the Commuter Cross is disc and the wobble didn't impede my braking.

Already over half way to work I figured I would chance it and it was fine.  I hit some wet places here and there and a little mud and my Timbuk2 bag got it first splash of mud.

Overheard someone talking in the hallway at the office that it was supposed pour like crazy in the afternoon so I set myself to leave the office early.  I wanted to leave at 1:00 PM but as luck would have it I got tied up with something and had to work in my kit until finally getting out of there at 1:30.  As I was leaving the building it was sprinkling so I pulled out my rain jacket and stuffed it into my rear pouch and while I started to ride I kept asking myself at what point to do you put it on.  

I found that threshold about 20 minutes later when it started to pour.  And it poured and I rode on, wobbly wheel and all.  The rain lightened up by the time I got to pond brook road but then I heard thunder.  There was a lot more thunder by the time I got home but surprisingly enough, it all but stopped raining.  In fact, 30 minutes later the sun was out and it was already becoming a nice day again.  I should have let the rain pass.

Well, my rear fender didn't do a good job keeping the crap off my back.  Not only was I soaked by Timbuk2 was soaked and dirty.  Fortunately, I grabbed a garbage liner at the office for my lap top and while none of my papers got wet some of the clothes I was bringing back from the office did.

Later that day, I discovered that I had not just one but two broken spokes so when I went out to pick up my daughter from her dance class I dropped the wheel of at the LBS to have them fix it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tandeming to the Polls

Being stuck inside all day for work, I didn't have a chance to enjoy this beautiful spring day so after dinner my daughter Katie and I rode the tandem up to town so I could vote in my town's Budget Referendum.  While I voted for the new budget, because I want to ensure that the school system stays top notch, I had a feeling that it wouldn't pass and because every year the budget gets bigger and bigger and that means taxes go up and up.  In fact by the time I got home my wife reported that the budget didn't pass.

It wasn't all for naught, though, because Katie and got a good little work out.  We got some extra protein in our diet, too, with all the bugs that were out.  We got some good Daddy, Daughter time, and we swung by the Ice Cream Shoppe and picked up a snack for her and the boys.  Not to mention saving gas!  I hope I can ride again to the polls.  This makes the second time doing so and I hop many more to come.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Not Last but Last to Finish @ Massasoit for CAT2 Singlespeed

Man was I slow.  I know what I have to do, I need to get more trail miles under my belt, get lighter, and get faster!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

2011 Massasoit Lung ... Buster

My 23d day for the 30 Days of Biking challenge was another mountain biking race.  While I can't take credit for the title of this post, that goes to MaggieMeats, a Boston mountain bike racer that I found by using #NEMBA hash tag on Twitter.  However, breathing wasn't my problem rather I think it is combination of things that led to a pitiful performance on a course that kicked ass on last year.

My pre-lap was great, cleaned all the climbs except for the last three but I knew going into this race that I would never make those climbs and I was pretty water logged by the end of the lap.  Back at the car, I changed out of my we gear and into dry gear while having lunch.  I was really thankful that I met Hal Green Windsor to pick up my NEMBA Racing Kit and the NEMBA Tent that was key to my happiness at this soggy event.

The tent made it palpable to make some last minute changes on the bike, like tighten my chain because it dropped on the pre-lab, that has never happened before.  I also increased my tire pressure to 30 lbs and I think that was my first mistake because the I didn't have as much foot print for climbing.

I should have changed my socks, too, because they were wet going into the race and only got wetter, to the point where it felt like my shoes weighed a ton and my feet were constantly swimming.  I started the race with warmer gloves and a riding jacket that I should have ditched before the race started because the mesh pocked in the back got tangled with my jersey as I was trying to change gloves.  The gloves that I started out with quickly got sodden and while I brought along a second pair, switching them out was a pain and I should have just tossed them.

Second lap was a little better but my feet were bugging me.  I did find a second wind midway through the course when I started having fun hopping the roots on one downhill section but then I started riding a little more conservatively because one landing got a little sketchy and I really didn't want a repeat of last weekend's crash.  The other problem I was having was no brakes.  I think a combination of all the water and mud was reeking havoc on them and I had to jump off a few time and adjust.  

On the last down hill, it was complete grease and I was riding the brakes and just sliding down the the hill when my front wheel spun on me and and I dumped it but jumped off without any injury.  The final run to the finish line I started spinning like a gerbil in a habit-trail only to have my chain drop, again!

Photo Credit:  Fabian Esponda
Wow, what a ride.  I finished and boy was I finished.  I knew I wasn't the last guy on the course.  There was another guy with brake problems, too, that I passed somewhere at the end of the first lap that finally came in while I was going to check the results.  Turns out my team mate, Fabian, somehow took a wrong turn and ended up in someone's back yard and after back tracking managed to get 11th, while I took 13th.  I think my problem is that I don't have enough of a base on this bike.  Riding the Gussy isn't going to do it for me, I think I need to do more rides after work at Huntington.  Just need to find a good course with a good mix of single and dual track to the tune of 7 to 10 miles.

Fabian and I stopped off in Mansfield for Chinese food and then drove home.  The three hour ride in the car too long and I don't think I will hitting a venue over two hours distant in the future, although, I won't rule out the Bikes for Bovine Race up in NH which is just the other side of Brattleboro, VT.  That's supposed to be a fun course, kind of like Domnarski Farm with a huge climb and then huge descent.  I never really had time to take any pictures myself, or should I say, I was kind of fed up once the race was over.  Getting home, my daughter suggested a snap a few because the mist and the light from the spot gave the bike an eerie appearance sitting atop my car.

Tandeming the Day before the big Race

For Day 22 of the 30 Days of Biking Challenge Katie and I had planned to do a Tandem Ride on The Housatonic Rail Trail form Trumbull to Newtown and I as I was getting the Burley ready to roll, my team mate Fabian sent me a message asking where was I riding today. Told him noon at Trumbull.  Like me, he has three kids a little older than mine so he had to find a stoker, because like me he also has a tandem.  One of his kids said he would go and he FB'd me saying he was a go!

Stokers:  Lucas (l) and Katie (r)
Riding the tandem felt really good on the legs.  I had wanted to get more trail miles in this week but a combination of busy schedule and kids activities prevented that.  This was our first practice ride for the Blumin Metric, a 20 mile round tripper on the rail trail.  We have to step it up if we are going to do 40 mile but we just need to ride some Newtown roads to get in shape for that.

The paved section between the Monroe line and Whitney Avenue is always fun, especially riding under Rt 25 but I hate the blind curve as you come down the trail and hook under the bridge.  The nice thing about riding on Good Friday is that there were barely any people out on the trail.

I put Katie in a rain coat and made sure she had some leggings because when it was sunny out, the temperature was nice but still a bit cool.  However, when the sun went away it got down right raw and the wind of course didn't help.

A little disheartening to find this tree still blocking the rail trail after two weeks and reporting it to Parks and Rec..  I am going to give the town one more chance and if they can't get it done, then I am going in with my official CT NEMBA Trail Ambassador Saw and taking care of business myself.

We stopped at the turn-around for a little snack and water and of course to pose for some pictures.

And then it was back down the trail to Trumbull.  I reversed the camera to capture what was going on with my Stoker.  She definitely shines for the audience.

It was all down hill from there.  Finally, I found an app that accurately displays the smooth display of the Rail Trail Profile using Ride With GPS.com.

We rode a total of 19.8 miles.  You can get 20+ if you ride past the turn around but technically that's property  that is part of an EPA Superfund Cleanup Brown Site, that will probably never get cleaned up.  Too bad because it's a really nice trail up to Swamp Road.  What would be really, really nice is if the "Rail Trail" occupied one side of the road bed with the rail road tracks and then you could ride from Trumbull to White Plains without ever riding on a road!  Add the Norwalk River Trail to that and you could get a mind boggling network of greenways and rail trails for cycling.

Once back home, I figured out a new way to store the tandem in the garage.  If I loosened the seatpost and spin the stoker bars it would be flatter against the wall.  After doing this I counted 14 bikes in my garage which included two fixed gear commuters, 4 mountain bikes, my wife's comfort bike, 5 kids bikes, and two Trail-a-bikes!

Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 Winding Trails CAT1 Racers on the Starting Line

Just some random pictures I took on Sunday of the CAT1 racers on the starting line

This is cool, a SSer amongst the gears!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

#BikeCommuting and @Timbuk2

Day 20 and 21 for the  30 Days of Biking challenge was spent commuting.  The Chicken Shit meter was redlined on Wednesday because of the questionable weather forecast but I rode in, somewhat later than usual.  It turned into a good ride in the morning despite the misty conditions and at times light rain.  I haven't had a chance to look at the BB on the Stinson and I still have to give the Lambert a good test ride before I commit it to commuting duties so I have been favoring the Qball and every ride on it gets better and better.

So it looks like the BMX bike in Bethel is turning into a laundry rack.  Day after day it sits there, unlocked.  If this were any of the other cities I have lived in that bike would have been gone in a day and yet here it still sits.  Amazing!

Forecast was for 66 degrees but actual temperature was actually 10 degrees less.  So I rode home with tights rather than shorts as I had planned on for the warmer weather but I did leave the jacket off and it was still kind of cold.  The Timbuk2 was behaving rather well for the ride home.

Again, got off to late start because I was futzing around with stuff in the morning.  Temperatures were much cooler, too, so I tired something different.  I added a thermal layer instead of a jacket and wore my wind vest.    It was the perfect combination but the mesh backing on the vest caused the Timbuk2 to slide a lot and I was very unhappy with the bag.  I let Timbuk2 know this through a tweet, too.


Not loving the bag!

When I got to work, I wasn't at all sweaty for once and since barely anyone was there I didn't shower.  Just threw on the work clothes worked all day and then changed back into my kit and rode home.

On the way home, however, big bag loving ride!  It was perfectly situated and never slipped out of position.  It was pure joy.

2011 Winding Trails CAT1 Cyclocrossers?

Big props to these two CAT1 racers who rode Cyclocross bikes at Winding Trails, Robert Carmen (bib # 353) and David Diviney (bib # 355).