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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Thirsty Thursdays: Iron Maiden

I got a bottle of Iron Maiden for my birthday and I was really impressed with the quality of the beer.  I know the craft beer revolution is happen else where it just seems like since the they have pretty good beer as it is why would there be craft beer?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Twenty three days till spring?

My limit for riding in cold weather, commuting and road riding, is 15 degrees so when I got up Tuesday morning and checked the thermometer it read 17 degrees.  Of course, that reading is usually off by a couple of degrees because the temperature sensor is against the house.  Doesn't seem like spring is less than a month away.  

Staying off main roads I road Castle Hill.  The view in the morning is always spectacular but it's worth the climb.  

I don't think you can really tell the difference between one or two degrees.  Whether it's 17 degrees or 13.6 degrees as the Garmin reported after Castle Hill, it's still freaking cold.  My Lake 303 did a pretty good job keeping my toes warm.  Toe heaters would have been perfect and it's something that I will have to try the next time I am riding at this temperature.

While it warmed up a bit in the afternoon it was still freaking cold.  I could tell the difference between the morning and afternoon temperatures.

I was kicking myself when I got to the office because I had left my headlight battery at home.  Yet at 5:30 PM there was still quite a bit of light left and it was enough that I didn't need to run a head light.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

First Ride ... Sort of

I don't know if you can call riding the trainer actually riding but that's what I did tonight because of the rain.  I wanted to go sledding again with the boys but the rain made that a non starter.  I changed QR axles and hopped on the bike for the first time.  It felt really good!  Shifting was a lot like the SRAM Doubletaps that I put on the XS800.  Cockpit felt perfect, too.  On the XS800 I had a 130mm stem and on the Synapse it's 100 mm and feels perfect!  Can't wait to get out on the road and really ride!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My new whip

All my mountain biker buddies say I have gone over to the dark side of cycling with purchase of this bike.  I think I was already there with all the riding that I did last year on the Cannondale XS800 but I think this bike makes it official!  I have gone roadie!

This will be my third Cannondale but as I really start this new chapter in my cycling history, this bike is my first real road ride since I bought that Univega 10 speed when I was in High School.  I have always loved Cannondale Bikes and I am so pleased with this purchase.  

When I first saw it at The Bicycle Center I was shocked at how good it looked and by that I mean the blue accents on color scheme are really eye catchy!  I never thought it would look this good but in my head I was thinking when ordering it that anything but black will be great.

It's not SRAM and it's not carbon, both of which are way out of my price range and I am not the slightest bit disappointed because it still has a great components. 

Well, it some carbon on it by way of the fork

I love the internal cable routing and the white bar tape

Even my Garmin Edge matches the color scheme

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why ride a fatbike when you can snowshoe?

The funny thing is that I have wanted a fatbike for years but initially couldn't afford one, then, couldn't really see the need to have something that you could ride only 2 or 3 months out of the year.  Of course, fatbikes are ridden year round, I know, but still until something comes along that combines the ability to run fat tires and also skinnier tires, then I might be interested.  In fact, there are a few bikes available right now that will do just that.  I probably won't get one because there are other things to do in the snow that I love to do as well.

I was hoping to have virgin powder the whole trip but what was I thinking?  With all the trails at Upper P these days and all this snow we now have, there was bound to be other snowshoers ahead of me with the same idea.  Coming up from Pond Brook that was indeed the case but those tracks continued down the Blue Trail when I branched off onto the Mulikin.  However, it appears that someone came up the Mulikin on snowshoes already.

I took a break at the top of the first Mulikin climb to remove some clothing and readjust my pack a bit.  Call me overly, over cautious to the point of OCD but I am never in the woods without a first aid kit, knife, lighter, flashlight, GPS, extra layers, water, something to eat, at least one cell phone, a camera, and of course, most importantly a can of beer!

All this gear fits nicely into my LL Bean rucksack.  I just wish the pack had a few more external pockets.  Like putting a large external compartment on the top cover flap which you could stuff a poncho or shell jacket into would be great.  Also incorporating a pocket or two on the straps to hold a cell phone/camera or GPS would be really smart.  I have my own GPS holder but it would be nice not having to get something non OEM. 

It's funny but I have ridden through here a thousand times and never once do I recall this tree down that would make a good skinny.  Guess I will have to wait until spring.

From the intersection with the White Trail, this part of the Mulikin was pristine.  It wasn't until just above the Up-and-over that I found three or four sets of snowshoe tracks coming from out of the thicket onto the Mulikin.  I thought that was interesting especially since it was coming from an area where I think someone wants to make their own trail.  I have been finding different tapes here and there that I know don't belong to the DEEP Forester.

At the intersection of the Gussy with the Poly Brody I found a pristine scene.  No snowshoe tracks!  

However, the compression of the older snow tells me that someone has been riding the trail in the snow. Nothing wrong with that in fact it's expected, after all the Upper Gussy is becoming quite popular amongst the locals.

However, Cheater Lines or Pussy Paths, that arise are somewhat disconcerting.  This new line that has developed does give this section a little better flow you miss out a really good technical section with two optional rock Up-and-Overs.  I guess this falls into the dumbing down category.  You might have to click on the image above to see the track of the previous riders off to the left.  Regular trail goes up and to the right.

Nearing the Echo Valley side of the forest I found snowshoe tracks that just stopped.  Looks like who ever came this way either didn't want to continue this way.  The stupid thing is when this person back tracked, he or she walked in their initial tracks.  I find it's much better to create a flatter track so that it becomes more uniform.  This also has an unintended consequence for grooming the trail and making it accessible for, of course, let's hear it, the one bike that I don't have, a fat bike.  This section will be good but the rest of the Gussy needs another tramping through.

At the Brew Crew Roller, the snowshoer before me rolled it on their snowshoes which tells me this person is indeed a mountain biker.  The also did the one further down.

I took the time to re-hydrate with some carbohydrates at the Brew Crew Roller.  While heading down the Gussy the wind was at my back but at this point I turned north and things got a bit chillier from here on back.  I was wearing just my overmitts on my bare hands but then needed to go back to thermals because the wind just sucked the warm right out of my hands.  Of course, drinking a cold beer didn't help either.

On the way back, I loosely followed the yellow trail bushwacking here and there with my mountain biking brain on over drive.  It's so much easier to see the lines in the snow of where the trail should go as opposed when it's not covered in snow.  I left the yellow trail where it climbs back up the blue trail and roamed around a bit still I found the trail again taking an interesting direction that I will need to come back explore again.  I did, however, find that someone moved the white trail and if I am not mistaken it appears someone might have ridden this a few snow storms ago.  I am going to have to come back and explore this some more, too!

After my first stop on the Mulikin I was halfway up the second climb when I realized my bells weren't jingling.  Rather than go back for them I just hopped onto the white trail and it lead me right to them!  

From there I took an old trail down to a rock that I call the Flight Simulator, for obvious reasons, and picked up the Mulikin Reroute that I have yet to do something with.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fear of the Dark

Ride the trainer or go snowshoeing in the moonlight?

10 degrees out and layered up

Climbing up Yahoo Hill was work!

In Nanawauk Woods I had to delayer

Back out in the fields, the wind came up and it got cold again

Walking by these buildings always gives me the shivers

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I'd pay the devil to replace her ... She's gone, and she's gone

I finally sold the Qball Sunday night!  I can't believe how quickly it went.  Put it up on Craigslist Sunday morning and sold it Sunday night in the Traders Joes Parking lot in Danbury.  In a way, the Qball was my first real mountain bike and while I had two bikes before the Qball, it was on the Qball that I developed a profound liking for the sport.  However, it's time for a new chapter in my cycling autobiography, actually this new chapter began last year with the Cannondale XS800 and pushing myself to ride more roads.  I still have the SpotBrand and will ride it exclusively.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bianchi San Jose: The Yellow and The Grey

While pink was definitely a front runner, I think yellow goes better with the grey.  Hoping to get a commute in this week but it's absolutely ueber frosty here in Southwest Connecticut and I try not to ride when it's below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  I might have to settle for a nooner on Wednesday before yet another snow storm blankets the area on Thursday!  I know this is winter but this is the first time, in many years, that winter has kept us this cold in February.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sunday XC Ski

I don't like riding below 20 degrees so I headed over to Fairfield Hills to XC Ski.  I was surprised to see very little track.  Someone braved the crusty conditions before me but I think it sucked for them as much as it did for me.  Once again, I over dressed and by the time I hit the Magic Kingdom I had to ditch the cold weather gear.

No one was in the Magic Kingdom?  There were some buried tracks from Monday's storm last week the latest snow and subsequent ice layer seems to have turned people off from these trails and they are the best!

I was hoping that the tree cover might have soften things up a bit but that seems to only be under conifers.  I did my standard loop and then headed parallel to the rec trail to cross over and head back to the fields.  I did find one plowed section of the rec trail that was ski-able but that was only good for 20 yards and then it was back to the dreaded crust.

I headed over to Yahoo Hill only to discover that one the baskets on my poles broke off which made for slower travel because each pole plant went all the way down to the ground.  The climb up from Yahoo Hill was like Napoleon's death march.  I made it but I was completely drenched in sweat and so hot that I had to drive home with the windows down just to cool off.  With Sunday evening's snow and another run at the track on Monday of Tuesday will make it nice and fast!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Apres ski on the Cross Check

After getting back from skiing at Jiminy Peak Saturday afternoon and quickly unloading the car I jumped into my riding kit and took the Cross Check out for a little ride.  I have been jonesin to test the new Brooks Salddle that I won from a Mountain Bike Clothing store called Kitsbow.  I only had an hour and light was starting to wane so I decided to do a 17 mile course that had a little climbing in it.

Turning onto Castle Hill I hit a frost heave and my front brake locked up on me.  I thought that was strange because the wheel still looked true.  I was able to overcome the situation by hitting the release pin on my Tektro brakes and continue riding.  I will have to check the true on the wheel and how it's seated in the drops.

The climb up Castle Hill was dreaded but fun, but then again all climbs start out to be dreaded but once on the hill the challenge sets in and it turns out to be fun.  Once at the top I took a few minutes for a little bike porno shoot.  The new saddle is really nice but it does need some breaking in.  Since it's not your typical Brooks hardassed leather, the break in time ought to be shorter.  

From here I rode the rest of Castle Hill to Taunton Hill and then down to Sugar Street.  Headed over to Boggs Hill and then home.  The temperature at the house said 31 degrees but out on the road it was more like 21 degrees.  Up top, I was dressed well enough to keep the cold out but I for this temperature but I think I should have had a short or something else over might tights because my legs were pretty red afterwards.  Ironically, my winter Cannondale gloves performed nicely.  Had I known that it was much colder I would have done overmits or Lobsters.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Stride Adaptive Sports Ski Team Practise

Every Saturday morning at 6:30 AM Elliot and I head up to Jiminy Peak because this year he is learning ski racing with the Stride Adaptive Sports Ski Team.  Driving  2 hours, early in the morning, has it surprises, like when we saw Bigfoot on Route 55 just after crossing the border into New York.


Elliot's coach, Jaime, teaches Elliot body control and balancing his weight for turning.  A couple of weeks ago we had a cold day but today was even colder.

After a couple of warm up runs on 180 we headed to the top the mountain and took West Way down to the practice course.

Finally, we got to the course and took our first run and Elliot did great!  I know he was tempted to do another run but his feet were cold, he was hungry and needed a break.  Next week we are going back for more!