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Friday, June 28, 2013

2013 NEMBAFest at Kingdom Trails

My second NEMBAFest and I stayed once again at the workers campsite.  It was touch and go on whether we would be camping here again or have to camp at the main site.  If the Cutter Inn ever get's renovated then this could be it.  Besides being separated from the main area and having indoor bathrooms and showers, the best thing about camping here is being on a flat surface!  There was just one drawback, the pool wasn't working this year.

I learned a lot from last year which made camping out this year much more pleasant, like don't bring a ton of food and bring a great tent!  The family tent got upgraded this year to an LL Bean King Pine Dome 6.  The key thing about this tent compared to most of the other tents you see out on the market that sleep 6 or more people is the full fly!  You have to have a full fly if you are going to camp out with any potential for rain.  The last tent we had did not and when ever it rained we were miserable.  It did rain at NEMBAFest but this tent performed superbly.

Bacon, eggs, and coffee was my standard breakfast fare.  I made hot dogs the first night on the charcoal grill but it took so long to heat up when I finally got the coals going (that took awhile) I was lamenting not getting a gas grill.  Definitely going on the list for next time.

When I got to NEMBAFest on Friday, after pitching the tent, which only took me 25 minutes I had to run back to Burke Mountain Lodge to work the NEMBAFest Tent for my first shift so I never got to ride again Friday.  I made up for that on Saturday.

 I met up with Peter Finch, a CT NEMBA board member who works security at the venue and we hit the trails really early and it was awesome because there was practically no one else on the trails.  It's like we had the whole place to ourselves.

We rode the south side of Darling hill, mostly along the river with the intent of hooking around to the Chapel and ride the trails around Sidewinder.  Those trails were in phenomenal shape despite all the wet weather Vermont had been having.  

We rode up to the Chapel just as the caretaker showed up to open the place up.  It's a magnificent piece of architecture.  We were able to go inside and cool off a bit and refill our water bottles.  From there we rode down Old Webs to Sidewinder, back up on West Bench and then back towards the center of Darling Hill on Fox Run.  Peter had to head back so I went on to ride Toady's Tour, back up River Walk (awesome climb) and back down Troll Stroll.

Rather than ride back up River Walk again, I headed the other direction and rode Eager Beaver, and more along the river but then split off from the main trail and rode Charlotte's Outback to the big rest and eating area just west of the Chapel.  Had some noodle salad and banana for lunch.  

Riding back on Vast and then Bill Magill, I wanted to finish the ride with a good rip down Kitchel and great rip indeed it was!  That is of course it kind of went to crap when I wiped out on Hasp and got a nice gash on my leg.  

When I got to East Burke the shuttle had just left and since I would have to ride back to where I was staying anyway I just rode up Shellburne Falls Road.  I was surprised not to find any Strava Segements on this climb but it was worth doing it.  I finished the ride at 25 miles!  After working my shift, having dinner at the Tamarack Grill, I went to the main camping area where I met up with some friends at a wedding reception.  A couple from West Hartford got married at NEMBAFest!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thou shall ride Single Speed!

Lord, my God, Thank You for Your Blessed Creation, these mountains and open skies.  I am Your creature and I am grateful to be able to enjoy and experience Your goodness found all around me as I ride my single speed through this land. 

 Bless me as I travel these paths.  Keep me safe from danger.  Even in recreation, help be to be close to You.  Help me to know that every good thing comes from You.

Fill my life with Your mercy, hope, faith and love and may I use all that is around me with care.  Lord, bless my journey today and every day.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Millstone Rocks!

On Friday, on the way to Kingdom Trails, Glenn and I stopped off at Millstone Hill.  Millstone is an old Granite Quarry that now has a labyrinth of trails surrounding it.  Some of the trails are dual track that used to be old railroad beds that were used to haul the granite out of the quarries but it's the singletrack that we are after.     

The Map that you get is somewhat confusing and Glenn and I ended up going down some misleading routes a few times.  It was a lot hotter on Friday and there weren't as many bugs as we had in Rutland.  Still, we slathered up in bug repellent just to be safe.  

Pine Hill was cake walk compared to Millstone.  Trails are much more technical, a lot more technical and a lot more challenging.  For some reason, the Spot wasn't treating me well this day.  The only thing I could think of was the geometry being off by the White Brothers Fluid 29er fork.  It's a 110 mm fork and makes the front end really slack which I found difficult (and tiring) riding these really technical trails.

Nearing the end of the ride we stopped by one of the hill tops and climbed to the summit.  The view was outstanding!

The water was looking really inviting!

I would say this was one of the hardest rides in my mountain biking career!

Knocked back a few Sierra Nevada's in the lot

But I look forward to coming back and next time riding the singlespeed!

Don't forget to hit Lawson's general store.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Down hilling tip: Don't ride rigid, even on a fat bike!

Keith Coughlin took this Carver, Ti O'Beast fat bike for demo ride but I don't recall what he said about it or whether he liked it.  That prompted me to give it a whirl.

Now, I don't know much about what a fat bike should weigh but this O'Beast was light!  Rolling on Surly Bud and Lou, 4.8" wide tires, and it felt like the John Deere tractor my great grandfather had back in Wisconsin that went anywhere and everywhere!

One major drawback is that the O'Beast doesn't fit on the rim hooks for the chairlift so I had to carry the bike in my lap.  Thankfully, it was light enough that it was really no trouble to hold onto the bike.  My first ever down hill ride, on the fat bike was on the Rolly Grail trail.  Not terribly challenging but a good warm up for something harder.

Harder, and even more fun was Jester.  Riding the fat bike, downhill, was intense and thrilling.  Reminded me of riding in a M-60 tank where the suspension smoothed out the ride while the gun barrel smoothly tracked it's target.  Overall it was a great ride and would like to try it again with some snow on the ground.  Riding this way is not a replacement for full suspension because the following day I was very sore!

Pine Hill Park: Svelte Tiger

Monday, June 24, 2013

Singlespeeding Pine Hill Park

While it might not be a destination riding location, Pine Hill Park is still worth the trip to Rutland to ride.  While it's up on a hill all the trails are built sustainable so there is little to no hike-a-bike trails.  What you will love about Pine Hill Park is the berms.  There are few wooden ones but it's dirt berms which are fantastic. There is also some interesting bridge work including a suspension bridge, a Japanese Garden bridge, and an hour glass style bridge, plus a few board walks that get you over nasty, muddy places!

The only drawback was the bugs.  Of course that is probably pretty much the same everywhere in New England with all the rain we have had in the past month.  Hitting it midday was good because there were very few people in the park so Glenn and I basically had the place to ourselves.  Surprised there weren't more skinnies but there were plenty of other technical features spread out through the park to keep you busy.

Glenn and I rode 11 miles before heading back to the lot for some bug spray and then we went out for and 6 miles to ride the suspension bridge we missed the first time around.  I would recommend bringing a map.  All the trail intersections are marked and a map will tell you where you are going to wind up by taking the next trail.  I had a map but lost it somewhere a long the trail.

For more information, check out their website:

Pine Hill Park

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tri-Bury Gravel Grinder

I finally did it!  Riding from Exit 14 I went from Southbury to Middlebury via Larkin Bridle Trail, then Middlebury to Woodbury via the Middlebury greenway.  Down the Woodbury Trolley Trail and then on back to Southbury.

Of course riding the Larkin after the area got upwards of 8 inches of rain the past week was not the brightest of ideas.  Quite a few new blowdowns, lots water everywhere and it was axle deep at Towantic Hill Road!

It's almost half gravel and pretty good route.  If I had more time I would have added the old farming road in Flanders Nature Center which would make it half dirt and half pave.

I think the Woodbury Trolley Trail was worse.  Quite a few blowdowns and quite a bit of water running down the middle of the trail.  Out by the end there is a lot of Poison Ivy.  I won't be coming back till the fall - I hate poison ivy!

Nothing like a nice mud tan on Father's day!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Getting some more ASS...phalt

With all the rain we have had so far I have spent next to no time on the trails and most of my riding has been on roads, either commuting or actually riding asphalt.  Of course, I can't ignore the fact that I really love my Cannondale.  I love having just a little squish up front for descending dirt roads and riding trails like I did today at Fairfield Hills again.  I also found that I have to be more careful with my singlespeed riding and do that every other day.  Back to back SS'ing is not good for my knee.

I stayed up too late the night before playing Minecraft, add in that it was still raining when I woke up, and you get a pegged Give-a-shit meter.  Getting home early from work was an excellent opportunity to make up for chickening out on the commute but just as I was getting ready to leave, it began to rain.  Checking the Weather Channel online it seemed to be just a passing shower so I headed out.


The passing shower really cooled the area off and I was glad that I was actually wearing another layer under my jersey.  I am finding a sleeveless wicking shirt to be perfect for riding in most temperatures because it absorbs most of my sweat and seems to keep my cooler with the wind from the outer jersey.  Of course I am not sure I would do this in 80 or 90 degree temperatures.

Looks like we just caught the edge of the storm.  The roads by me were damp but no soaked.  When I got down towards the other end of Castle Meadow Road the roads were soaked!

Brought a few snacks for the ride, including a banana that I found troublesome to peal and pedal at the same time.  I also had a goo and a unibar and was never fatigued or lacking energy.  I think this is going to be one of my new work out courses. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Another Newtown Bike Commuter!

That was Nancy!
I am rolling out of the office park and there is a woman mounting a bike in the driving way of the Nursing Home.  I ask her if she bike commutes, and she does and from Newtown, too!  I told her about Endomondo and the local team covering the Danbury area.  I hope she joins us!

Glad I was on my bike and not sitting this traffic!
Of course I seldom drive home this way anymore because of this.

The real highlight of today's bike commute was to get a little CX action on the Monster Cross.  I took the right of way cut through to Old Farm Road.  I think I need to come back on the Cannondale and ride the "trails" that appear to have been mowed into fields I would guess are for runners.  Rode the trails behind the water tanks and then followed a mowed path that was perpendicular to the Rec Path some ways before jumping back on to the paved path.  There was some warrior run here last weekend where you have crawl through mud and jump over obstacles.  Sounds like basic training - why would anyone want to subject themselves to that I don't know.  

I have found that 42:17 is just too tall a gear for riding grass

But Pave, or hard packed dirt roads it's perfect!

After Fairfield Hills, I rode through Sandy Hook and noticed this sign on this barn.
Could this mean that a new bike shop is coming to town?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Getting some Ass...phalt

This guy should have followed my lead - say no to mud!

With Baseball canceled due to wet fields and after pouring rain yesterday and this morning there was no way I was going in the woods.  Plus, I saw the doctor today and he said stay off the mountain bike for a week due to this inflammation I have in my joints.  He said road riding was fine because it doesn't have the same kind of jarring effect that you get on a mountain bike.  I hate to say this but I am kind of liking road riding more these days.  Yikes, what's next?  Shaved legs and a Cannondale EVO 6? 

I went full Fred this evening.  Wanted to test out a fender on the Qball and just jumped on the bike in what I was wearing, t-shirt, basketball shorts and no socks.

New stem is really making this bike ride fun!

After all the rain we got Sunday night and Monday I rode down to the boat ramp at the end of Hanover Road, thinking that the water level on Lake Lillononah would have come up quite a bit from Sunday but it appears to have only risen marginally.

I don't think I have ever been this far out into the lake and not getting wet