Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Walk of Shame

Looks like this was my final ride of 2008 and while it had its share of ups and downs, I think there were a few more downs than I expected. Had an hour to kill around lunch time so I oranged up, it's still hunting season in New England, jumped on the 'Horse and headed out to the Dinglebrook Trails. This trail system is a hodge podge of old ATV now equestrian trails connected to open space in the neighboring town (Brookfield). My friend Tom, who I teamed up to build the Gussy Trail this summer, takes care of the trails on the Newtown side.

Decided to give the helmet cam a try, well not really a true helmet cam, rather I this attachment for a Flip Camera that allows you to mount the device on a helmet or handlebars. I had a credit on Amazon so I decided to give it a try. Below is my first try with it and you will notice that towards the end of it I started to have derailer problems. I guess you could say that is where the downs of the ride started.

I had a stick get stuck in my chain and gears on Sunday that must have messed up my derailer which led to many low gear problems today. In fact, I actually had to call on Granny for the first time in order to get the same low range of gears that I am comfotable climbing with. She was actually pretty helpful and I will ask her again in the future for help.

The next part I filmed is the downhill section that runs from Burr Farm down to the Bench on the Dinglebrook brook. Clearly, I need to remount it so the perspective is looking more forwards and not as far down onto the trail.

Here I am sitting at the bench at the Brook. The 'Horse was performing well now that Granny was helping out.

Of course, nothing like another gratuitous bike porn shot at the bench by the stream.

The 15 inches of snow that we got before Christmas is almost all gone. What was left was still pretty rideable. I think I had one spot where I spun out in the snow climbing up from the bench. Speaking of which, Granny was really, really helpful climbing up from the bench. Don't know why I haven't asked for her help sooner.

The only draw back to riding equestrian trails, besides plenty of road apples, is they tend to be a lot muddier than normal single track. I had to wipe my face of blotches of mud before taking this shot. As I was riding back towards the trail head I felt my rear end feeling a lot more mushier than usual and sure enough, I flatted!

At this point I was about a mile from home. I started walking until I got to Tom's house where I figured I could quickly change the rear tube and stay warm in the sun despite the chilling winds. When I got the replacement tube in it wouldn't blow up! Either it was a bad tube, I didn't get all the prickers out of my tire, or it got a snake bite while I was putting the tire back on the rim, what ever the case I was screwed. Thankfully, Tom came out and offered me a ride home which I gladly accepted.

Kind of ironic when you think about I had the same problem with the 'Horse last year about this time. Flatted while riding at Huntington SP, in the same kind of conditions. Fortunately, I was able to fix the tire and continue riding. Below are the tracks for my two rides Dinglebrook this year. Guess I have been so busy with the Gussy Trail that I haven't really gotten to ride much of anywhere else.

Apparently there is even a continuation of the "red" track that Tom built this fall that I completely missed. I'd really like to go back and hit that trail but it will have to wait till next year!

Real men have rigid forks!

The Crazy Eddie of Framingham does it again! I wonder if this marketing technique is effective. Basically cajoling people to buy his products. If anything, it's definitely amusing.

Single spd and 8 spd 29er mountain bikes - $300 (Framingham)

Reply to: sale-970846544@craigslist.org [?]
Date: 2008-12-27, 5:09AM EST

Hey you rough, tough mountain dudes ! I see you at Lynn Woods and Viet Nam with your full-suspension, 27-speed wussie bikes.

Stop being a girly, sugar-assed puffball.!
Try one of these brand-new, steel, single-speed 29ers, - no suspension, no gears; - pure minimalism.

These are 40% off list price.

I have sizes 17 and 19 in 26 inch single-speeed for $260, - sizes 19 and 21 in single speed 29ers for $280, - sizes 15, 17, 19, in 8-speed 29er for $335 – size 17 in aluminum 29er with discs for $360.

Us single-speed mountain guys are so tough, when we go to the bathroom – crowbars come out !

Real men have rigid forks !

I wonder in if this is the same GT Peace 29er that I found on Craigslist earlier this year? Again, this could be a pretty good deal if you could get for $300 or $400. Based on Eddie's prices, you could do a day long road trip consisting of buying a new bike (because that is always fun), hitting a brew pub, and going riding. Probably a 3 hour round trip drive, hit Eddie's shop, do lunch at Post Road Brewing Company and sneak in a ride at Lynn Woods on the way home would be a great Master Card commercial.

And here is another 29er in CT up for grabs! Aesthetically, I am not sure I dig the green Chris King headset on purple bike. If the guy is ready for a new one he either realizes he is indeed a puff ball and can't stand riding rigid or he's got so many miles on this bike that it's about to fall apart. Size and miles are the two questions you might want to ask this seller.

2007 Kona Unit 2-9 29er...Chris King, DT Swiss, EXTRAS!! (North Stongington)


Cook Brothers Crank set. (Indestructible)
Chris King Green Headset
SPD pedals
Salsa Degado rear rim with XT hub
DT Swiss front wheel. with 340 hub
brand new brake levers
brand new avid front and rear mechanical disc brakes
wtb seat with seat post
brand new Kenda Nevangal rear tire
used but in good condition kenda Karma front tire
new tubes in tires
Ritchey stem and handlebar

Might be a good deal but if you are interested in this bike but don't discount Crazy Eddie, his prices are INSANE.

If I get another 29er, it will definitely have gears and it will be rigid. In fact, I would probably use it to replace the 'Goose.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Last MTB ride of 2008?

After Saturday's slushy ride on the Qball I thought it might be better to try some gears in the snow on Sunday. Looking at the temperature guage Sunday morning it was 55 degrees! Not only was the snow melting but it was foggy with the warm temps.

Decided to check out the other side of the forest road off of Echo Valley and it appeared that might have been an ATV in the snow early on. The low laying fog gave the forest an eerie look.

Riding the 'Horse makes a big difference in the snow because having the lower gears makes it easier to pedal in the snow, believe it or not.

Of course, a gratuitous bike porn shot is always called for. In the background are the two stream crossings that I call Via Roma and the Viaduct.

The combination of the warm air and rapidly melting snow made the temperature fluctuations pretty extreme. You would get blasts of cold air that felt like 30 degrees and then air that was twice as warm. I started out wearing riding jacket and longsleeve jersey but by the time I hit the forest road I had to shed the jersey. Of course, other mistake I made was not having some fenders.

Checking my SportTracks software after this ride puts me at 100+ miles over what I rode last year but if when I break it down by categories: Trail, Commuting, Greenways, Road; my biggest trail miles year was 2007. I have way more commuting miles this year

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Slush Ride

Looks like someone might have cut the lock on the gate to Upper Paugussett State Forest. Noticed the gate wide open last night so I promptly called DEP and they responded quick, however, the damage was done. If you want to see what the ATVers did to the Gussy Trail, take a look here. Today's ride was pretty brutal. Probably should have went XC skiing instead but I was jonesin to ride so I went out. Could be the last ride in 08 for the Qball.

Trail road pretty well but I should have had gears. Climbing would have been easier with a lower gears so I had to use the feet instead. Hit most of the up-and-overs and rode the Qball with the front fork set to the 80mm position. Of course a Surly Pugsley would have been beautiful for these conditions.
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Friday, December 26, 2008

The Friday Fix: Fixie 29er MTB Porn

A couple of Redlines recently appeared on FGG that are just mouth watering because they are 29ers, of course! Something that I have to try at some point. Probably not on the Qball, rather some other frameset.

I love this MC Flight with the sliding rear drops! I think if I could find one in the right size and right price that this might be the way to go!

Love seeing the TomiCog getting used! An excellent way to have your cake and eat it to!

While there are a few fixed gear bikes not much on Cyclofiend's Singlespeed Garage in terms of mountain fixies. Did find this one. Love the saddle!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back Country XC Adventure

With 15 inches of snow on the ground I didn't really feel like riding so instead I went Cross Country skiing. Near my house is a hiking right of way, which is an old farmer's road, that I figured I would climb up and see if I might find a back down into the Pond Brook Valley. I didn't find anything except some old trails that looped back onto one another. Below is a what the hiking right of way looks like. Had to veer off a few time to avoid the stream.

I headed over to Butterfield Road and skiied into another area with a plethora of old farming/logging roads. I was doing OK until I never picked up one the trail that I was actually looking for. I started bushwhacking again until I found it which brought me out to Butterfield.

Here is my obligatory, I was there shot. By the time I got home I was soaked from head to toe.

Trying to connect the areas would allow for some really epic rides!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ski Bike

Threw this together this weekend and gave it shot. Alot of fun. Needs foot rests and the ability to steer. Since this was just a prototype, the next one will be better and then I have to build one for the kids to use.

I drilled through the piece of 4x4 for the rear axle and used a 9 mm bolt on one. The 4x4 has four holding screws and glued with liquid nails.
Had to stack to atop one another to get the propert height. There is a hollow axle in the wood with the QR.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Friday Fix: Five reasons why fixie-mania is sweeping America.

The Crazy Eddie of Framingham has done it again with yet another outrageous ad on Craigslist.

Twenty-five new fixed gear and single-speed bikes in stock. 40 % off list price. 2008 closeouts. $195 to $365. E-mail for a list.

Why is fixie-mania sweeping America ? Five reasons.

1. There are still lots of great ole’ steel road bikes on the road. Fixie/ss is the best way to keep these bikes rolling for decades more.

2. Fixie/ss bikes are simple, clean, and give you a powerful stroke with a direct chain line.

3. The bicycle manufacturers are currently producing horrible road bikes The wheels are flimsy, the components, finicky. Parts are incompatible or proprietary, so it costs a fortune to fix the bike.

4. The Shimano monopoly makes garbage components – their shifters and derailleurs clatter, clink and scratch like Stockhausen’s Kitchen-Sink Concerto ! Why does Shimano make such over-priced crap ? They are a monopoly; - THEY CAN !

5. The bike industry caters to the yuppy element - The carbon cowboys, in their silly spandex fairy outfits. The profit-margins on these high-end weenie bikes are astronomical. The industry could give a flyin’ fiddlers’ f--- about producing a well-made, reasonably-priced commuter bike for ‘Joe and Joan Six-Pack’ !

Stick it up the bike industry’s keister. GO SINGLE SPEED !

This guy is a radical bordering on lunacy because how else is the industry going to stay in business? I'd say they are doing a pretty good job at producing bikes for both ends of the spectrum. Yes, there are people that will drop some heft coin on equipment they really don't need, there are those like myself that appreciate a quality bike and will try to get the biggest bang for my buck, and then there is 'Joe and Joan Six Pack' whose first thought will be to hit a big box store and buy buy something that looks cool and flashy, is really cheap, from a salesman (or woman) that doesn't know the difference between quality and crap. When you say stick it up the bike industry's keister you are really cutting off your nose to despite your face.

The question is, will they appreciate a quality bike or not? There is nothing wrong with those bikes, provided they are not pushed beyond their limits. They serve a purpose, too, and maybe that purpose is really just a way for 'Joe and Joan Six Pack' to sample the water without getting overally committed. Once they do, then they should head to their LBS and get some quality.

I think if you want the Fixie movement to grow it just has to be promoted as much as possible. There are some that are doing their best to promote and at the same time criticize all the posers like BikeSnobNYC and there are the fan sites like Fixed Gear Gallery and the Single Speed Garage. The movement is there, it just has to gain more momentum.

The other night I was watching Law & Order and one of the perps, characterized as an ex-NY bond trader who has gone from the high life to low life in the wake of the financial meltdown had a Fixie in his room as a prop. Cleary, the trend is gaining momentum if the casting people pay that much attention to detail.

The Fix has been lacking recently in gratuituous Fixed Gear Mountain Bike Porn so here is what I have found recently. Keep in mind, mountain fixies are pretty obscure so finding new material is always tough and now that it's winter in most parts of the country mountain fixies get mixed into fixed gear winter commuter bikes. Still, if it has wide tires and it's fixed gear it fits my definition of a mountain fixie.

From the Fixed Gear Gallery I found this Lotus Mountain Bike Fixie Conversion:

This is an early 80's mountain bike. I built it up to bang around town and for my annual trip to Mackinac Island. I wanted a fixed gear bike for the roads, but I also wanted a mountain bike with lower gears for the single track trails up there. Sheldon Brown provided the inspiration for the drivetrain setup. He has a couple of bikes set up similarly. This bike has a cog bolted where a brake rotor would normally go for its fixed gear. When I flip the wheel around, I have two cogs on the freehub that line up with the two front chainrings. The bike is technically a three-speed. Most of these photos were taken on Mackinac Island (which is in northern Michigan) where cars are not allowed.

I like the set up of this bike which may lead me to do something radical with the Nishiki. I have a wheel in which I can do this, too, so it might be worth a try. Looks like TomiCog, too.

This Green Hamburger Surly 1x1 is pretty unique with a left side drive train and both front and rear disc, which look like 185mm rotors. A bit overkill for road riding but still Geil!

And finally some Vimeo Fixed Gear Mountain Biking Action (drool):

Joe rides fixie through rocky trail section from ricky d on Vimeo.

Keep riding and keep it fixed!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Four Piles of Dootie at Oh Dark Thirty

Realizing I had a busy schedule at work today I decided to hit the trail before work. It's always tough, mentally, to say I am going do it when it's nice and warm in the house. I knew there was no chance to get to the gym today and Sub-rural-urbia is expecting a foot of snow tomorrow, so I had to get out and ride.

I tried another layer this time, a cheapo blaze orange fleece that I bought from the grocery store last year but haven't worn it yet. I put that on over my dayglo green riding jacket. My other two layers consisted of a long sleeve Army PT uniform shirt and nylon sport shirt. I have to say that for 27 degrees it was a good combination of layering.

Good ride up the fire road but as I was turning onto the Gussy there was an orange apparition 30 yards down from me walking up the Brody Fire Road. A Hunter! He froze when he saw me. I stopped, said good morning, he didn't respond, so I took off down the Gussy.

As the title of this post denotes I came across this specimen of animal fecal matter on the initial stages of the the trail. A hundred yards further up the trail there was another. Yet further down the trail another plopping. Finally, the last example of wild dootie was near the third stream crossing. All specimens were around the same size. At first I was thinking bear after seeing a fresh paw print the other day elsewhere in the forest but there was so much I have think that it's either a dog suffering from IBS or a pack of coyotes.

Of course, it wouldn't be right without a gratiuitous bike porn shot of the Qball.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Trail at Fairfield Hills

With my two older kids performing in a Holiday Show called Tis the Season and my wife playing Backstage Mom left Brodie and I to kill some time on Saturday afternoon. I had read about a new trail that the Town of Newtown had finally finished over at Fairfield Hills and thought this might be a good time to try it out. Got loaded up and we headed out.

I brought the Fixation because I think it is going to be the last time I ride it as a fixed gear but I probably should have ad the 'Goose because little did I know the initial part of the trail climbs up a big hill with a fantastic view of town seen below.

I zoomed in for the next picture in which you can see one of the former buildings that still stands that used to be one of the treatment centers of Fairfield Hills, a now defunct mental health facility that the town took over at great cost with the idea of converting it some sort of income producing corporate/recreation park. Of course the whole project has been one boondoggle after another and still continues to be Fuster Cluck.

Zooming in even futher you can see the center of town. The town's icon, the Flag pole flanked by Trinity Church on the right and the old Congregational Church, now town meeting house/community center, on the left.

At the top of the hill are a couple of inground water tanks that look like bunkers. I rode around them and found a few trails coming off the access road that might be fun to come back with the mountain bike and explore them further.

Here is one of the trails. Really looks like a continuation of the road that turned into the town trail.

It's marked with green paint. I didn't see that same paint on the trail that comes in behind the reservoirs so there could be a little network of trails back there.

According to the 1953 topo that road/trail does indeed extend back to Nunnawauk Road.

But not on the most recent topo. Granted these topos are in serious need of updating. They don't even show the new Mine Hill Road.

I checked on Brodie at the trail juncture and gave him a few more gummy bears. He was pretty snug inside the Burley. Not only was he wearing his winter coat and hat but I had him wrapped in really warm blanket. In the side pocket he had a sippy cup with juice in case he got thirsty.