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.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fat Amy has Kung Fu Grip

 

Woo Hoo, snow!  I didn't think I was going to see any snow until next winter and this morning we got a couple of inches of snow when I headed out at about 6:30 AM and it was still snowing.  I rode over to Upper Paugussett State Forest, and headed in from the Echo Valley Lot.  The Poly Brody was pretty sloppy for the first 100 yards but then got better.  Climbing up the back side of the hill was no problem with these big meats and running 20 psi there was absolutely no issue with traction.


The Gussy was really smooth in the snow.  This time I remembered to unlock the fork but it almost seemed like it wasn't needed.  No one has done anything with the blowdown yet.  If someone does bring in a chainsaw I hope they cut the top piece because the larger part of the trunk would make a real nice skinny.  I rode all the way down to the Jeep Trail and then came back up the Gussy.


I stopped at the same vantage point on Double Secret Probation and took a picture so I could compare it to the one that I took the other day of the Gussy.


I purposefully stayed off the Upper Mulikin because after the rain earlier this week and today's wet snow it's going to be really sloppy.  I noticed some people had ridden it the previous evening and I am trying to get the word out. I might have to make some closure signs. Coming back down the mountain I took the Mr Ed Trail but stopped at this Widow Maker to make a bit of a go around and open a nice little roller on the side of the trail.  Mr Ed turns into the Purple Nurple Trail which then runs into the Lower Mulikin trail which I followed almost all the way down.


Right before the blue trail my eye caught a line of the Old Jalopy Trail that I rode last week so I took it. It's not marked and the only way you will know it's there is if you can still make out my tire tracks. This is my snowshoe route that I like to take when the snow is a lot deeper and it makes a great by pass of the blue trail.


If you want to see an interactive map of the trails at Upper Paugussett State Forest, check out the page on TrailForks.com.


Thursday, March 09, 2017

Ride after work: Happy Hour

I wanted to ride to Ovens of France this morning but it was raining.  Seeing that the expected high temperature was going to be pushing almost 60 degrees by 5 PM I brought the bike to work and decided I would stop on the way home and get a little riding in. 


I think had I gotten to Aspetauk Part 30 minutes earlier I would have donned shorts but as I was getting ready it just didn't feel warm enough for shorts.  In fact I was going to just wear a long sleeved jersey and then changed my mind and when with a riding jacket instead.


It was a shorter route on roads that I have ridden before but since it was rush hour I tried to minimize my exposure to those that were heading home (North and East).  I switched from flashing light to steady beam on Park Street because it had finally gotten dark.  I will have to go back and see what I can tweak in this route to get a little more mileage out it.


Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Sunset stroll with Fat Amy

Initially, the Newtown Lunartics were going to make a late morning spin to Ovens of France (aka OOF), however by 10 AM it was still 15 degrees out and everyone, including myself bailed. After our midday guests took off I hopped on Fat Amy and headed down to the Pond Brook Boat Ramp.  I headed up the connector trail and instead of taking the blue trail to the Mulikin Trail, I decided to try my snowshoe trail.


The snowshoe trail is more of a bushwhack that uses some old trails that I found between the blue trail and the Poly Brody Forest Road.  One of the trails is probably an old skidder path, it comes from where the Mulikin Trail turns east and runs past the Flight Simulator, a natural rock ramp that makes a four foot drop.  I lost the path a few times but eventually made my way down to the blue trail.  It wasn't pretty.


I then jumped on the Mulikin and was enjoying the trail up until it turns east off the old cart road and begins it's fall line ascent.  That section of the trail tends to get muddy during the spring thaw and it appears some mountain bikers didn't really consider what happens when it warms up because it was pretty rutted out. I wish people would stay off this part of the trail when it gets warm.


After the Mulikin, I jumped straight into Double Secret Probation and was surprised at how smooth the trail was and how it seems to be getting better and better every time I ride it.  It still needs a few tweaks here and there, and a major reroute to by pass a wet area.



By the time I hit the Brew Crew Roller it was dark enough to warrant turning on the light.  The rustling off in the woods further motivated me to do so, too.


I finished off the Gussy and took the Reach Around to the Jeep Trail and then out to Sanford Road.  By this point the Garmin 705 said I had gone 4 miles and it was already on low battery.  I guess the battery has finally gone out on it.  I think I want to get a 520 and use my 800 as a back up.  Before I do that though, I think I going to have the 705 refurbished unless it's too expensive and just get the 520.  Instead of just riding home, I cut back through the forest on the Poly Brody and finished the ride down the Mulikin and out the connector to Pond Brook.







Monday, March 06, 2017

Cannondale Cujo 1: I stand corrected, it's a Midfat Bike

My Facebook Friends (reminds me of the Prejudice Commercials on Sunday mornings back in the 1970s) pointed out that what I am riding is a MID FAT bike and not a FAT BIKE.  Well, EXCUSE MEEEEeeee! I don't care if there is a difference, it still has fatter tires and therefore it's a fat bike for all I care. Semantics aside, this was the first Saturday in three months that I wasn't skinning up and telemark skiing down Windham Mountain in the Catskills because my son was still recovering from the flu. So I took Fat Amy across the river to play Where's Waldo.


It must have been somewhere between 15 and 20 degrees when I started out and probably colder with the wind.  Wearing my Lake MXZ303 boots, blaze orange Columbia hunting jacket, and lobster gloves I couldn't fee the cold.  In fact, mid ride I had to open my jacket because I was getting pretty hot.  


I think it's been almost two years since I last rode here and a lot has changed.  All the new trails on the north side of park are finished, there are new features, including a nice boardwalk with some up and overs in the middle of it that reminded me of the Moose Alley trail at Kingdom Trails, and some nice bridges.  I rode down to the lake and then started climbing up the main Waldo Trail.


The one thing that I noticed off the bat is when I get up to speed and turning through corners, Fat Amy turns like my old 29" mountain bikes which always had a tendency to swing out wider.


For the most part, the trails at Waldo were frozen but there were still some frost heaves that I crunched through.  On today's ride I remembered to unlock the fork and the ride was totally plush.  In fact, I would just point the bike on a line through a rock garden and just blaze through it.  A 29er tire never felt like this.  Looking forward to more rides in the near future.



Sunday, March 05, 2017

Cannondale Cujo 1: It's 10 PM, do you know where your children are?

From the first time I saw a fat bike on a Route 66 bike race series almost 10 years ago, I have always wanted a fat bike but couldn't justify getting one because I don't want further competition of my wintry activities.  However, in a 1 to 3 inch snowfall, I will still ride my mountain bike and having a wider tire makes a lot of sense.


With the introduction of the 27+ wheel size or what we came to learn after the post 29" craze, 650b wheel rim, a whole new market of making fat bikes a lot more feasible for year round riding came to being.  Rolling a 3 inch tire at 20 to 30 psi not only will give you an extra grippy tire, but just enough cushion to make the ride a little smoother.


I decided to thin my herd by selling the Spot and Surly and depending upon the proceeds from those two sales purchase a Mid Fat bike.  Originally, I was targeting a Bad Habit but that was just too far out of my price range so I spent some time with Shawn at the Bicycle Center to get his opinion on what I should get and he recommended the Cannondale Cujo 1.  It comes as a 1x11 with a Rockshox air fork and a decent component group, Hayes disc brakes and Sram XG rear derailleur.  Since it comes tubeless ready I had Shawn make the conversion.


After adding pedals and a carbon seatpost, removing the reflectors and adding my Brooks saddle it was 9:30 PM and figured, lets throw some lights on and go for a test ride.



Headed out to Upper Paugussett for the basic loop which consists of riding up the Poly Brody Forest Road to the Upper Gussy trail head and then down the Upper Gussy and then out on Jeep road to Sanford Road.  It was really windy earlier that day there were a few blow downs here and there but no trail blockages, that is until I came upon this one right after the Snowtober Reroute.



I took this opportunity to get a good side view shot of the Cujo when I discovered that I left the wheel reflectors on the bike - DOH!  


Further down the trail I found more blow downs but nothing really impeding the trail until that is one at this stream crossing.  A tree came down parallel to the trail but knocked a sapling down perpendicular to the trail.  Fortunately, the root structure came up with it and it was easy to move out of the way.


First ride impressions:

The 1x11 gearing is perfect for trail riding.  I never felt like there wasn't enough gear for any of the climbs and on the descents and flats I was able to keep up a good pace with what I had.  

I might have ridden the Gussy with the fork locked out but with the lower tire pressure I never felt like I needed more squish.  In fact, I blasted through the rock gardens like they weren't even there.

I am still getting used to the cornering.  It's like riding a 29er tire only the tread is stuck to the trail like a gastropod on a leaf.  

I can't wait to ride more!