Monday, September 25, 2006

2nd Annual Biketoberfest

This year's Biketoberfest started with a huge and enthusiastic crowd but finished with only a few and nobody went drinking besides myself. We were into the first mile when one the riders in our group was riding a plank bridge and slipped off the end and had a rock puncture her hip. We ended up walking her out of the forest but it was pretty hairy at first. She felt dizzy and queezy and she didn't hit her head, either.

At one point she blew chuncks and was feeling much better after that but we walked her out of the forest none-the-less. We did ride after all but this time it was just me at the fest tent. Kind of boring drinking alone.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Long Stem GPS Mount

If you have a gps with one of those belt clips similar to the cell phone ones, you can do this mounting in 15 minutes. It will be helpful to grind down the sides of the belt clip so that they fit between ridges on the stem for the bolts. Then use one zip tie to around the the fat tube portion of the stem. Another zip tie goes over the tube, then over the bars and then back around again. This ensures that it won't shift in place. You could add another ziptie going the opposite direction just to be sure.

Then find yourself a piece of foam rubber for cushion and a small bungee cord to hold everything in place and voila!

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bennetts Pond, Ridgefield, CT

Took the Q Ball over to Ridgefield to ride with some co-workers who live in the area. We all met up at the parking lot off Bennett's Farm Road and rode the Bennett's Pond area, which is marked as a State Park and is acknowledged by DEP as the owner but its not clearly identified as such on DEP's website. Never-the-less, the last time I was here was around last Thanksgiving, it was 20 degrees and I started riding with the wrong pair of gloves and I had to turn back to get warmer gloves. It was a good ride and I covered alot of territory.

This ride, however, was led by Alex who used to work in my office but changed jobs and is now working at my company's facility in Somer's, New York. Alex rides a FS Cannondale that he bought with the IBM discount at Hickory 'n Tweed in Armonk. Also on the ride was Ross, who works in sales at my work place. I have seen him around but never had any direct interaction with him. He rides a Kona DawgDelux. Nice bike, same geometry as my AC, only 10 to 15 pounds lighter.

A really nice map for some of the trails can be found at the Ridgefield Open Space Association's website. The map was done right after the town and State acquired the land and trails were put in by ROSA, however it hasn't been updated becasue there are even more trails in there now, marked with the same signs that ROSA initially used and there are also trails blazed Red, Yellow and Blue.

We started out on the green trail, basically going counter clockwise away from the parking lot. The green trail has a fun downhill section which leads to the edge of the pond and then the trail continues along the pond. We rode this to the white trail, which heads towards one of the tributaries to the Saugatuck River. There is a bridge there in which you have to walk your bike across.

Last time I rode there, I followed the white trail which heads back to the edge of the pond and heads up into a very narrow valley that has a few trailes branching off it. However, we heading straight up a gradual climb on a well traveled trail that wasn't marked. On the map below, this trail is the portion lying due east of Wataba Lake (aka Rainbow Lake) and goes up to waypoint 001, which is where the Purple Trail heads back down to the White Trail. We continued to follow the Purple trail till Waypoint 002. From there the trail signs stopped and Blue Blazes took over. At Waypoint 003, the trail turned due south but there was an old trail with faded Blue Blazes that headed up a draw and once atop the ridge, the Blue Blazes were picked up again. So it looks like from the point we turned off, the trail made further clockwise loop around the hill to come back to this point.

At the Y04 Waypoint is where the Yellow Blazed Trail comes in. The Yellow Blazed trail was a nice open trail that was reminiscent of an old farming road. Between that point and Waypoint 004, it is literally unrideable. One one side is sheer cliff going up and the other swamp. The trail is basically a rock scramble. I marked the next point as B05 becasue I think this is where the Blue and Yellow Blazes part company. At Waypoint 005 is where the Red comes in.

We followed this trail to where its marked Purple, which I believe indicates this is where the Purple starts. Alex went back this way, while Ross and I took the easy way back to bridge and got there a minue before Alex. It was fun hammering through here and I was able to roll right through alot of technical rocks and roots because the trail wasn't very steep and it was pretty wide. It was fun to experience the full benefit of the 29 inch wheel.

On the way back Alex turned off the farm road which heads back to the parking lot at Waypoint 006 and led us onto some groovy single track that was a fantastic ride up the hill straight back to the parking lot. It went through an area that appears to have once been a nursery because there were ridged rows where it looks like stuff was planted and there holes in the ground that appear to have been systematically dug. Like there were trees growing there at one time that were dug up to be planted else where.

Total Odometer for the ride was 6.05 miles and it was done in exactly two hours. Definitely going back there again sometime.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

After 2 lessons, my 5 yr old rides without training wheels!

I read about a method in Bicycling magazine to get your kids to ride without training wheels and it worked for my daughter. I spent to previous Saturdays, letting her roll down a grassy slope to get used to the bike staying upright and finding her balance. After the second session, she found her balance and started riding!

For the third session, we went over to one of the local school parking lots that has a big driveway, a huge lot and drop off circle. It took her a few tries to get the hang of just starting from a stopped position but she quickly mastered that and took off riding!

Now, she doesn't hesitate to just jump on her bike and start riding around our driveway and since her tires are beefy enough, I have told her to feel free to ride on the grass to give her even more riding area. It just crabgrass anyway. Up next will be the Monroe Rail Trail!

I am so proud of her! Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 15, 2006

More riding in the Upper Pauggusset

Since my last post, I rode in the forest with a fellow Newtowner that I met through last weekend. He has some of his own designs for Upper Pauggussett in the freeride arena and there is definitely a lot of potential for that there. Drops and rollers litterally abound everywhere in the forest and are awaiting the feel of a rubber tire to roll across their surface. In fact, I discovered a nice slick rock between the Polly Brody and the Mulikin Trail that might be fun to ride down.

We met up at Pond Brook, early Saturday Morning last and I took the Qball down Al's trail from Pond Brook to Kissing Oak and riding this section furthered my feelings that I really hate this trail. On a full suspension bike its tollerable but on a rigid, single speed it just sux. We did find a new trail with white blazes that comes off the trail at the point where you are not supposed to travel from Fall until Spring in order to protect the Bald Eagle habitat but I have yet to see where this trail comes out on the Polly Brody.

I did a work out ride yesterday. I guess yesterday was the start of Bow Season for Deer because I met a hunter from Stratford walking the Polly Brody. He was decked out in woodland camo and was actually using an old fashioned bow, similar to the one I got from John Muir. I still have that bow in the garage. We chatted for awhile and then went off on our separate ways. Stopped at the fallen tree that I started cutting a few rides ago. The weight of the tree had opened the cut even more since the last time I was there. I finished sawing through in about 10 minutes but it didn't simply roll away as I had hoped. It was too heavy to move and the smaller section was still somewhat attached to the root structure and I couldn't move that either.

I found a branch that had been blown down from the last windstorm that seemed strong enough to use as a lever and was able to move both sections enough to make so that a bike could get through there now. Finally! Now, you can ride through that section unimpeeded. I am thinking of also trying to find a by pass from the bypass that I am currently riding that would allow for an easier climb back up to the Polly Brody. Rather than take the road back down to Al's I decided to try to ride back up to the Polly Brody but due to the slick conditions and the uneveness of the trail it turned into a hike-a-bike.

On the bypass I thought I saw the makings of an old trail that might tie in neatly with this idea. On the the otherside, near the stone wall, I found want could either be the end of that trail or just a game trail. Either way, I think I have the makings for a nice easy climb back to the Polly Brody or if I am feeling particually ambitious go over the hump, do the big roller, coast down to the drop zone, hit that drop, and pedal back out to the Polly Brody.

Lastly, I made contact last week with DEP to reopen the new multi-use trail in the forest. There has been a turn over in Newtown Bridal Lands, in which the person I was working with is now selling her home and moving to South Carolina. The president of NBLA is doing the same so right now I am waiting to hear back from the Connecticut Horse Council representative on who my NBLA point of contact should be. Cindy mentioned there was a guy that lived near the forest and rides there all the time but I can't recall his name. Diane from CHC also mentioned this same person.

As for the new trail, the only things left are redesignating the start off of the Polly Brody, determine whether we are going to use any of the existing Blue Trail, which would be nice because it gets us to ROW trail quicker, and then finish marking the last section where I ran out of tape. Once I get my 26er working with clipless pedals, I will ride the new route and get a map online for you to look at.

Why am I waiting for clipless on my 26er you might ask? Since I have started riding clipless on my 29er I just can't get over the feeling of security that I have being clipped in. It's wierd. I feel that I have more control over the bike. A friend from CF is hooking me up with a free pair. This is just to get me through until I can get another pair of the Shimano PD-545s that I have on the Q Ball. What I like about this pedals is that they have a cage around the clip that make them platform clipless. When I am riding around the driveway with Katie, I can hop on and ride around in fliplops (although I have see sandels with clips in them) and if I am going to continue to ride XGruntry on my 26er I might as well be clipped in.

One more thing. CT NEMBA is holding its Fall Fiesta at Gay City State Park in Hebron, CT. I'll be there with the Q Ball. You can log onto the CT NEMBA website for more information. Oh, and I might as well mention my latest project for CT NEMBA. I am putting together a statewide map of all the legal places to ride in CT and calling it the CT Dirt Guide.

Nothing is up just yet but I am inspired by the map that Nate has on Crankfire and an old CT NEMBA trail guide that I found in a box of brochures that the President of CT NEMBA dropped off at my house the other day, called Open Trails. Open Minds. I am going to recreate this pamphlet into a trifold, with a map of the state, the places to ride as what is seen in the original document, information about CT NEMBA's mission, and a cut out membership application form. This way, it can be mailed out, handed out, or put on display at a bike shop as a handy guide of where to ride in CT and how to get involved.

Oh and I forgot to mention, I will be leading the second annual Biketoberfest ride again. The ride starts at 10 AM from the Bradley Road parking lot for Troutbrook. Afterwards, we will be heading to Old Heidelberg in Bethel for Octoberfest.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Q Ball and the Upper Paugaussett State Forest

Kind of sounds like the start of some children's story but its not. Now that I am all healed up from my surgery and can ride again, I am back in the forest once again. Nothing much has changed except I am noticing alot more different Waffle patterns in the dirt. There have been no new trees taken down for forestry practises. I wish the state would come in and cut down the stuff they have marked because that will be the opening of some more riding opportunities.

The Mulikin Trail is starting to get some traffic. Noticed some new tire tracks and section that I rerouted through the ferns is alot more defined now. Riding the 29er on this trail presents some different issues, the first being after the up and over making the turn onto the portion of the trail that goes through the thickets and the stone wall. The wet section which encompases the turn probably should be smoothed out into a better flowing arc. Making a hard right with little or no momentum is tough on the Q Ball.

On the graded section leading up to the first stream crossing, I have spent two sessions cutting the downed tree that is blocking the trail. It's a thick black birch. I think another 15 minutes with my hand saw will do the trick. The first stream crossing also needs some smoothing out for riding through with the Q Ball. Same goes for the third stream crossing. Trying to make a sharp right and then hit the small up and over the tree is tough on very little momentum. Of course, I think what is also needed is a fork in the ferns that makes a gradual climb back up to the trail that leads back to the Polly Brody.

I think I have met the someone who has discovered the Mulikin and I am going to ride with him this Saturday. He sees alot of potentional here, especially now that access at Ninham is pretty limited.

Singlespeed and Rigid Riding is still fantastic!

Friday, September 01, 2006

October Edition of Mountain Bike Action

Here I am featured in the October 2006 edition of the Mountain Bike Action.

It's kind of ironic that the article is about riding in New England, specifically difficult riding in New England which is kind of like skiing in New England, in that if you can ski here you can ski anywhere. Of course the irony is that where this picture is taken, most of the trails are from being difficult. The Ed (the guy behind me) are on is called the Rock and Roll Trail at Huntington State Park and it was designed and developed by Paula Burton who is a CT NEMBA chapter president and from the area.

On top of that, though, I am wearing all my armor which may tell the reader that this area is actually tougher than it looks but I am doing so because I like to try anything, drops, rollers, log rides, and while I might not do them as expertly as others and often fall off them, the armor at least keeps me from getting bloody. Even the write up on Huntington is kind of out of porportion with the article. If the editor was a little more forthcoming in the gist of the article maybe we could have gone somewhere in the state that is more fitting to article, like Middlesex.

Oh well. Posted by Picasa