Saturday, April 22, 2017

Trail Closure: Upper Mulikin



As you know from my last post I was on the Mulikin Trail and couldn't believe how torn up and rutted it was.  I contacted the land manager for the forest and he has given me permission to close this trail and do a re-route.


Please do not ride this part of the trail. 

There are plenty of other ways to get to the Upper Gussy Trail. 
The re-route might take a month or two, faster if I get some volunteers to help out with benching and berming.

So stay tuned.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Can't get a date by eight, try ...


Fat Amy!

I got home later than I wanted to on Monday but figured there would be enough light for a quick ride in the forest. This would be an excellent opportunity try out my new helmet that I got from Brookfield Bicycle Center, a Giant Rail Helmet. Finally found a replacement for my old Giro MX & Fox Helmets. I really love it because it has plenty of vents, a goggle strap in the back (perfect for holding my headlight cable), and straps that are closer to the side of your head than my other mountain biking helmets provided. 




Why is that important? My feeling is that the helmet hold better on your head and doesn't wobble as much.  There are also plethora safety features, too, but if you want to learn about that, just ask Shawn at Bicycle Center to explain them.  That's what sold me on the helmet.


I happened to notice that a fellow mountain biker that I have known over the years recently rode Upper Paugussett and his track followed the route I like to take snowshoeing during the winter but then took an interesting turn. Instead of heading down to the Mulikin his track went up an old skidder path that I used to ride back in the day that intersects with the Purple Trail and the Mulikin.


Clearly, rather than foot rake this route someone came in with a leaf blower to initially establish this illegal trail.  However, as I continued to ride it appeared that someone had blown all the trails. While you may think you are doing everyone a solid you are actually eff'ing up the trails. The reason why the Gussy drains so well and you can usually ride it a day after a big rain is because of the leaves on the trail.  Leaves act as a moisture barrier that helps keep water from soaking into the trail.


Now that there are no leaves, it leaves the treadway exposed to soak up all the water from each rain. In the picture above, this is how the trail should look. You can still see where the trail goes by leaves that look flattened as opposed to those on the either side that aren't. So, now I would say that after any rain you should wait at least 2 days for the Gussy to dry out. Of course riders in this area won't care and don't have the patience to wait a day or two to let the trails dry out, so they are going to ride anyway and that's going to make these trails turn to mush, like what is happening on the Mulikin Trail.


Speaking of the Mulikin. First and foremost, you should stay off the Mulikin in the spring.  The only time it should be ridden is when the ground is frozen or when it's bone dry.  That means winter (only if the ground is frozen or there's at least a few inches of snow on the ground) and summer.  I put it out on all the Social Media sites that it is a closed trail but it appears that I am not getting through to everyone. I need to go in there and put up some signs now. Hopefully people still have some common sense and will stay off the trail.


In case you don't know what or where I am talking about, above is a map of what I call the Mulikin Trail. It's the single/dualtrack that everyone rides to avoid riding up the forest road to the trails.  We'll see how long they last. No matter what you used to think about Upper Pauggussett being well drained, it is no longer that way due to Mr Leaf Blower.


You guys should know better than to ride through this! This is a freaking travesty! Through your carelessness, this trail stands to get shut down by the DEEP.  It's not an official trail so the DEEP can do what they want with it. If they decide they are going to block it there is nothing anyone can do. I am currently trying to persuade the State Forester to let me do a re-route so it doesn't come to that and we can keep this trail open. What I don't need right now is to see anymore of these stupid shenanigans and mountain bikers who think they are entitled to do what they want because this is public land. Sure, its public and you can access it but it doesn't give you permission to build anything you want.


After treading lightly through this section I got back on Fat Amy and rode over to the Gussy Trail. The Gussy was blown, too, and quite a few sections of the trail were really soft.  When I got to where the Hornets Nest used to be I noticed a new development that made me even angrier.  Someone built a jump!  WTF?  Don't you guys know that you don't build that crap on State Land?  Go build in your back yard if you are looking for a quick thrill but not here on the Gussy Trail.

 

This has got to go and this crap has got to stop!  Who ever is doing this crap has to realize that you are jeopardizing the future of mountain biking at Upper Paugussett State Forest. I have already been called by the DEEP on the new trail that comes off the Gussy that I call Double Secret Probation. I have also heard through other channels that the state is concerned about whats happening here and that could lead to additional closures. This has got to stop. Next time I am in the woods I will be dismantling this jump and going to have this tree cut in half so that who ever built this can't do it again.   



On my way out, I took the horse trail off the Gussy and then rode this purple blazed trail that I think some hiker built illegally. It too has issues, namely a fall line climb and it goes through a wet area at the base of the climb and then uses an intermittent stream bed for the trail.    

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

To Hell and Back on the 2017 Ronde De Rosey



Woke up Sunday morning a little hung over and got ready for the my first Ronde De Rosey. I think overdressed a bit and while at the Washington Square Pub I dropped a layer.  The Dirty Half Dozen consisted of Greg, the team leader, his friend Derek, Scott, Mike and myself.  We left the starting point 5 minutes late and it was probably after the first single track section that we lost sight of Greg and Derek.


The first 13 miles of the ride was a mix of hard ball roads and singletrack, which slowed us down greatly.  


We stopped in the Needham Town forest for snacks and to lose a layer.  I took my jacket off and stuffed it into it's stuff pocket, then used the straps to attach it to my waist so I probably looked like a Fred riding with a fanny pack.  At that point I realized that I should have brought my seat trunk. I had brought my barrel bag but forgot to bring one of the straps so I left it in the car. Never again.


Trails through the forest were a little better and eventually we popped out onto a rail trail. It was nice to have a break from the trails while at the same time not having to ride with the traffic.


From the rail trail we rode along side the Charles River which was at a flood stage and it was quite impressive.


The next off road adventure was in the Noanet Woodlands.  Heading into this forest preserve there was some really muddy dual track and then it started to climb.  A few yards up the trail there was a stream crossing and I thought the left side had a good line.  However I didn't have enough momentum and my front tire landed in the stream I stopped short and I went down into the water.  My worst nightmare, getting wet on a ride and getting hypothermia. Fortunately, it was warm enough that I didn't think I would have a problem.  However, my knee was a different story. 


At first it didn't seem to be bleeding too much but as I rode on it really started to bleed so I had to stop and perform a little trail first aid.  Bandaged up and ready to role we pressed on until we came to field that started out dry but the further we rode, the soggier it got.   Then a little road, a wrong turn resulting in a little backtracking and then more trail that led us into Rocky Woods Reservation. We stopped at the camp store but questioned whether or not to fill bottles because they guy in charge didn't know if the water was potable.  He kept saying it was well water like it was a bad thing.


The route passed Greg's house and he had texted earlier to say that there was water and beers for us. Greg's wife offered us food, Scott and I had bananas while Mike tried some gluten free PB&J Sushi. I took the opportunity to dry out a bit, too.


After that convenient rest stop we headed down the road to the Lollipop feature of the route only ended up taking a wrong turn and bailing on the rest of the trails.  All of us, by this point were sick of trails. Back on the course we road through a cemetery and then some more trails, more roads, more trails and eventually we came to a dysfunctional mental institution.  Heading back into woods I was almost attacked by a dog.  


We rode into Medfield State Forest and it was really nice going on an old road and then more singletrack. Eventually we popped out into another field.  The field was muddy, too, along with the trail that led out to a paved road.  This ride wasn't a gravel grinder, it was more of a mud slide.


After a few more trails we eventually came out onto an aqueduct and rode that back to Waban.  At one point I was a little behind a group of riders and trail went quickly from light to dark and my eyes didn't adjust in time to see a railroad tie/water bar in front of me and I wasn't able to completely stop in time and crashed into it.  While I got a nice bump on my leg and another gash that wasn't bleeding profusely. must have been the mud. I first made sure my front wheel wasn't taco'ed.  Scott caught up to me and we eventually made our way back to Washington Square by a little before 3 PM!


While I am not a huge fan of American IPAs, this West Coast IPA from Green Lash was awesome. Definitely a great ride and I hope I can do it again next year.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ronde De Rosey 2017 - Pre Ride Festivities


When fellow Newtown Lunartics rider, Mike (aka Michelle) told me that his friend Greg from Boston, whom I met last year at D2R2, asked if I would like to join their team, the Dirty Half Dozen and ride this year's Ronde De Rosey. Of course, I couldn't say no. Since it was an 8:00 start, Mike and I planned to head up the day before and stay in Frammingham, which happens to be the home of one of my favorite breweries as of late, Jack's Abby.


We stayed at the cheapest motel we could find, the Econo Lodge on Rt 9 and then hooked up with Mike's friend Scott, who would also be riding the following day. I had previously contacted a friend from high school whom I knew lived in the area and knew all the breweries in area and had a few suggestions, too, so invited her to join us.


Mike, Scott and I took an Uber (never done that before) to Jack's Abby and after cruising the dining hall, which is what you have to do get a table in that joint, we were finally able to get a table.  My friend Megan joined us shortly thereafter.  Besides having dinner, we of course had a quite a few different beers. I finally had a Framming Hammer which you can't get outside of Boston.


After a short walk from Jack's Abby we found ourselves at Springdale Barrel Company which had a variety of ales and sours.  Not a fan of either sour beer or American styled ales I went for the German styled Alt Bier, called Ein Dussel.  


I immediately thought of Hannen Alt, a beer I drank a lot of when I lived in Germany, but something about this brew was a little off.  I couldn't pinpoint the difference it just seemed a little lighter.  I set my glass down for a minute and when I turned back to it, it was gone and I probably had a quarter to go.  The barmagdl game a fresh glass but thinking back I probably should have just let it be.


Megan took us down to Exhibit "A" where I had a real nice American Porter called Briefcase.  We struck up a conversation with this Barmaiden, who was really friendly, and learned that most of the breweries around Boston area won't fill growlers that were not exclusively their own. You won't see that out in Western Mass, though.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Faux Spring and Cold AF


My new favorite #rideafterwork area is Easton , Connecticut.  It's about 15 to 20 minutes from the office and in the direction of home so it makes perfect sense to stop off and get a few miles in.


I expanded the route a bit to push it over 20 miles and it included some new roads that I have never been on like Wilson Ave, Beers Road, and Morehouse Highway.


It was simply COLD AF!  I brought my lobsters but went with gloves with overmits and my hands didn't warm up until 6 miles into the ride.  By the time my hands were warm my chest cooled off considerably.  That's when I checked the temperature and it said 30 degrees!


My legs got cold 5 miles out from Aspetuck Park where I started.  Temperature on the Garmin read 28 degrees when I got back to the car.


A little Shabadoo from Berkshire Brewing Company helped take the edge off!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fat Amy doesn't like it deep


I got out of work on time and high tailed it home. It was so warm today I figured that the snow probably melted enough that I was hoping it would be rideable on Fat Amy.


I was grossly mistaken.  The ride was more hike-a-bike than anything. In the deeper snow there just wasn't enough traction to get keep moving at a decent pace. In the shallower stuff it was good but the bad spots out numbered the good by quite a bit.


The trail gnomes took care of the blow down by the Snowtober Reroute. They did a great job creating what looks like a pretty challenging log ride.  


Over by the Three Bears Roller my front wheel dished out in some deeper snow and I experienced my first slow mo endo in which I landed on my palms.


While the ride totally sucked the workout benefit was great.  I came home hot and sweaty, and feeling fantastic. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

RAW on the Spring Equinox


I met Gavin for a quick Ride After Work starting from Aspetuck Park and heading up to the top of Sport Hill and back.  It seems that Old Man Winter is not giving into the coming of spring to easily.


Temperatures today were in the 50s but as the sun set the mercury began to fall and by the end of the ride is was 37 degrees!


There is still quite a bit of snow on the ground but hopefully the warmer temperatures this week will cause this to melt.  The snow and the warm air cause some really interesting temperature inversions.


Once at the top of Sport Hill we rode over to North Park Ave on Stepney Road.  Not my favorite because it has two blind curves but its your only choice.  What I love about the route is how straight both Sport Hill and North Park Ave are.


By the time we neared the Easton Library it was time for lights but the spectacular sunset and clouds off in the distance made for some breath taking views.



After words I enjoyed a nice Berkshire Brewing Company Cabin Fever Ale.




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ménage et trois avec Fat Amy et Nor'easter Stella



The Blizzard of 2017, or Nor'easter Stella as it was called by some in the weather community came on gradually Tuesday morning and by the time I got dressed and ready to ride we already had 4 to 5 inches of snow.  I went for little lighter attire this time around because my orange, Columbia Windstopper Hunting Jacket is just way to warm for anything greater than 25 degrees F.  However, rather than lobster gloves, I went with my OR overmits (sans liners) and a pair of ski glove liners.


Not only getting down the driveway Tuesday morning was a challenge but the road I live on wasn't plowed yet and riding on it was tough.  By the time I hit the dirt road that leads to the state forest I thought of turning back but I was still optimistic that the riding would get better at some point. It didn't.


The section of the Poly Brody that is usually wet this time of year was a frozen sheet of ice that I had to walk.  Further up the access road I stopped near the same spot I stopped on Friday to take a few pictures.  Below is a Friday vs Tuesday.



After the intersection with the Kissing Oak Trail (aka White Trail) I realized that my back brake was frozen. I think snow had gotten into the caliper and then froze.  When I discovered that I decided that I would just ride the fire road.



Having only the front brake meant I had to hang my rear as far back off the seat as I could to prevent an endo. I stopped near the Old Jalopy for a sip of water and then headed down to the road.    


The road was finally plowed which made riding a lot easier. It was still slippery, though.


I think next time, in snow this deep I will XC skiing or snow shoeing.