Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Upper Gussy Trail

I have made various blog posts of all the different trails that I have found in the Upper Paugussett State Forest and I would like to inform everyone who reads this blog that the new trail that I have been working on for the past three years is pretty much approved and all I am awaiting is the final documentation.

In order to keep this blog focused on mountain biking and riding in general I have decided to start another blog that will chronicle the building process of the new trail. I have opened the blog with a history of what has transpired so far, a little past history of how the State Forest came to be, and what's next.

At first I was thinking of naming the new trail the Mullikin Trail after the original land owner but then a fellow mountain biker, who contacted me last week, calls the two Paugussett tracts of land Upper and Lower Gussy, I knew that had to be the name of the new trail. The new blog is going to have a lot of detail on the designing of the trail, that will include maps and photographs of all the different issues on the trail, as well as the fun stuff.

So, without further ado, I present to:

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Took the Qball out today because it does surprisingly well in the snow. Since I am essentially trail blazing on the new trail, there is no way I am going to risk the 'Horse and possibly getting a busted hanger. Done that enough with the AC, although the AC was an awesome snow bike, on account of the 2.6 inch Kenda Stick-e tires.

Here is a portion of the ride, no sense boring you with Hanover Road.

More ATV tracks in the snow. Tom thinks there is a kid that lives on Pond Brook that is responsible. I think there is a kid on Bramble Trail that is responsible and then there might be another kid who lives across from the Connector Trail Head that might have an ATV as well.

Is that a straight chain line or what?

OK, this is post is not really about mountain biking but it's related because I like single speeds for some crazy reason and here is something I am toying with, not to mention we still have snow on the trails around here, and unless you are riding a fat tired monster like a Surly Pugsley, the crusty icy snow is not fun to ride on. So, during the winter months, I find tinkering with my bikes fills in the time. At least I am doing something biking related.

There are trails in the air! Got a heads up from the DEP that my trail in the Upper Paugussett is close to being approved! Just waiting final disposition from the DEP Trails Committee. Ironically, someone contacted me last week about the Lower Paugussett, so it looks like after I am done with the Upper Paugussett, I might be setting my sights on the Lower next. I have only ridden there three times but it has some serious potential. Anyway, so this guy gave me an idea on what the name the new trail, something with Gussy in it. Maybe the Upper Gussy Trail. That way, when I build something in the Lower, that trail could be called the Lower Gussy Trail.

Back to the bike! Look ma, no tensioner! I counted the teeth on the gears and it was on a 17t sprocket, so I went out and got a 17t freewheel cog, put the chain on, applied a little elbow grease to get the axel into the vertical drops and voila! There is no sag, at all! Perfect. Before hand, I did consult with the Single Speed master himself, Sheldon Brown, and in my note I asked:
I was wondering if you could tell me whether you have any insight on a "magic gear combo" for setting up a road bike with vertical drops as a single speed? I got this 1985 Cannondale SR-300 from a buddy that is already rigged that way, at least in a funny way, by using the 6 spd cassette and manually switching the gears till you get to the tightest one, which I think is probably a 19 or 20t cog. I need to pull the wheel off and see what they actually are, but it's a six speed cassette and the chain is the tightest in the third gear out from the center. My Crank is a Campy 42t. Is this the magic number or do you have a better one?
And promptly replied with:

It varies from frame to frame, 'cause they have different lengthchainstays. On my old Cannondale T-500 it worked great with 42/15,my favorite fixed gear. I discuss this issue in some detail at:

So it worked, only with 42:17. Looking at the chain, I think the reason it's working because I found two half links in the chain. They are actually speed links, but I don't think I will have any problems (hope), it's not like I am on single track or anything, so the resistance is very light.

Seeing that I have a fixed hub, it looks like Barney, the purple Cannondale could become a fixie. I think I am going to make sure this gear combo works for now and get used to riding on a road frame before I make the next move to ultra chic, fixie stardom! I actually have started take a spinning class and given the rigors of that training, I think fixie commuting to work will be fun.
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Sunday, January 13, 2008

I could have gone Mountain Biking Sunday

Instead, my father and I took Katie to Mohawk Mountain, in Cornwall, CT to learn how to ski! Perfect weather, in the low 40s and mostly sunny. We enrolled her in the Snowhawks class as a Never Ever, meaning never ever been on skis before. The instructors did a great job and in no time at all she was riding up the "Magic Carpet Ride" and skiing down by herself. My father took a few videos with his camera - just click on the image and it should work.

After her lessons she went back up the Magic Carpet and skied some more, this time on the harder side of the beginner hill and never fell.

My new commuter

Picked up this circa 1985 from a guy from who was giving it away. Of course, if it weren't for a friend of mine, Mark, who is a real wheeler and dealer in bikes I wouldn't have known about it. Here is what it looked like before I picked it up. It was wrapped in hockey tape. I guess if I were living in NYC I would have kept the tape on.

I decided to remove it instead. In that process, where the bike had received some dings, the paint came off and initially I thought I might have to strip it but worst part was along the right chain stay. Otherwise it wasn't too shabby. In fact, I think the tape, when it go wet was causing the paint job to oxidize. I think what I will probably do is use some steel wool on those parts to get it down to it's base and then find some touch up paint that will adhere to aluminum. Might try to find a lighter shade of purple or even pink and do dots. Might look cool when it's done.

I found a Vintage Cannondale website and figured out that this bike based on the stamp on the bottom bracket being "CC" was made in 1985 and is an SR-300. I downloaded all of Cannondale's catalogs and found a few things that I still have, like my vest, sleepingbag, backpack, and some assorted pannier pieces that I got on Pulaski Street in Stamford.

In fact, I am still using the vest, the sleepingbag, and some of the pieces of the backpack. The backpack has an interesting story to it. I had been using it for Boyscout camping trips and then in my senior year me and a friend, John Reddin, set out on an ambitious over night hike up the Appalachian trail from Sharon, CT to Butternut Ski area. We got to the top of Mount Race, just past Bash Bish Falls and camped out. It was so cold that my Sterno wouldn't light. Ended up pitching the tent, getting into our sleeping bags and eating dried food. It was windy and cold that night!

Next morning we packed up and when I picked up my loaded pack the frame snapped! I did my best to jury rig it so that one of the frame pieces wouldn't dig into my back but it was extremely difficult to carry the load with just one shoulder strap. So, John and I slipped and slid our way down Sage's Ravine to the road and thumbed our way back to Butternut where we met my father.

Holy long hair and mustaches! This is how our parents looked in the 70s!

As you can tell, I haven't been riding. Wanted to ride this weekend but was just too busy. I did however work on my bikes. The Dumpgoose has been stripped down to bare components in preparation for it's transformation into a ski bike. Probably do a DIY post on that build and hopefully we will get some snow to try it out.

My Garmin Edge came back last week. This now makes the third unit. I think it's not as durable as I thought it might be. I think I am going to find some durable cyclocomputers and use those instead. I will still ride with the Edge, just keep it protected in neoprene pouch on my shoulder strap. Additionally, I am still questioning it's accuracy and want to do some comparison testing with a basic odometer. I think the one issue could be is on longer rides if you don't hit the pause it's recording every movement of the unit so when you stop to take a brake, with the constant movement of the satellites, it might be recording changes the satellite's aspect in relation to the bike/unit sitting in a stationary position.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I joined International Mountain Biking Association Today!

I figured it was time that I branch out my support for mountain biking to the national level. CTNEMBA is heavily involved with IMBA, in fact had their trail care crew come out the last two consectcutive years, 2007 to Bluff Point, and 2006 to Cockaponset. Since most of the other board members were already members, I decided it was finally time. Guess this means I am really dedicated to mountain biking!

The free socks were the icing on the cake, though:

You can never have enough biking socks.

They have some great adds, too, that I find really funny:

So, if you are an advid biker and want to do your part in the national fight to preserve moutain biking, please join IMBA.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Winter Riding Reminders

All this warm weather we are having, while great for mountain biking, is taking it's toll on the trails. The CT DEP is asking mountain bikers to be considerate of the temperate conditions and the impact that they are having on on the trails. I saw this yesterday at Trumbull and got a first hand splattering of mud, too. I am going to wait till the next freeze before I start riding again.

Additionally, keep in mind that State Forests and Parks in Connecticut close at sunset. If you are going to ride at night, you could get a ticket! I got this note sent to me by the President of CTNEMBA:

Another thing we have been having lots of NIght Riders at Huntington, coming here after 6 pm for night time rides. recently we have had to start writing tickets for hours of operation to and or simple tresspass to curb some of this. The last 6 guys were quite irate as you can imagine...also its amazing the amount of riders that come out as soon as we get a thaw, the trails are getting hammered.
Please be mindful of the trails during the thawing conditions.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Crazy CT Weather: 45 degrees in January!

Had a great ride on the Qball at Pequonnock River Valley with Rich. Couldn't pass up the balmy weather today. Expected to be in the 50s but felt like mid 40s!

This area is perfect for single speeding that I am not sure I will bring the 'Horse back unless I want to try some of these drops that I have pictured below. Of course, once the Fixation is back to being an All Mountain HT Single Speed, probably ride that instead. Never-the-less, Rich and I haven't ridden together since Nepaug because shortly after that ride he was here and as you see down below, did this jump (pictured below) and broke his scapula. Two months later he is now back on the bike and riding, slowly, but still riding.

I am thinking it's time to get a computer to atleast track the actual miles because until I get the Edge back, these two other units are driving me nuts. They work reasonably well but not as good as the Garmin Edge. The MAP60 (green track) outperformed the eXplorist (red track) today, think because of where it was in the camel, in the media pouch with the antenna sticking out.

The eXplorist was on the shoulder strap in a pouch. Still need to test the eXplorist on the stem to see how the performance is there because I read somewhere that it has to be parallel to the ground to reach it's maximum efficiency. Just have to figure out a way to hold it there. The OEM handlebar mount is horrible and the Garmin Edge is the only unit that I have seen so far made for the stem.

The report from Huntington SP yesterday was that to have a good ride you need studded tires, something I don't have, so I opted to head south. Bunch of guys from Crankfire were headed to Westwoods but that was too far for the little time that I had to ride today. Similarly, Mianus is the only other warmer weather riding area that I would think would be devoid of snow. Mianus, while often joked about by it's namesake, again too far to drive.

Took a new trail up out of the old reservoir that linked up with the yellow trail just before the picnic tables. At this one roller/drop called the lunchbox we met up with a trio of guys from Class Cycles in Southbury that were warming up for the picnic tables. The 29er rolls things alot differently and I could feel it here. It was fun.

Didn't get any names but this guy is riding a ferrous Gary Fisher and he going big everywhere.

This guy is the mechanic at Class Cycles and he was the star of the show.

This is some guy on a 2006 Specialized Enduro (?), the one with the Brain Shock.

Looking up at the Roller (with ladder) and drop that follows.

The guy on the Ferrous Fisher cleaned both stunts nicely. Steal is real!

At the roller play ground, I slipped on a root and did the lower part of this roller my side. Here is another attempt.

Here is the jump that got Rich. If you hit it too fast it turns into a gap jump and you soar through the air...

... as Rich found out two months ago. See the scrape on the tree Rich is pointing to? That is where his shoulder hit. This is at least five feet or so off the ground and ten feet from the jump.

Again, the guy on the ferrous hucking it.

This is the third guy from their group, riding a Foes Weasel with a hydraulic rear cantilever brake.

And the man of the hour, the mechanic from Class Cycles nailed both times!

Rounding a corner before the last stream crossing I hid a muddy patch and went down in the slop.

Except from the occasional splatter from mud I was reasonably clean before this latest mishap.

A good day of riding with friends and new friends is better than just about anything.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008 Rides and Trail Maintenance


Every Tuesday (May thru August)
Girlz rides at Trumbull
Contact: Jo Brooks and Paula Burton
Contact Jo or Paula to ensure the ride is still on for a particular day

Saturday 2 August: MTB Huntington
Meet at the statues off Sunset Hill Road at 9:00. We'll go to the north end of the park and play on the singletrack. Advanced novice level. Please RSVP with ride leader to assure ride is still on. Rain or really wet trails cancels. Ride leader Eric Schonenberg, 203-746-0246.


Upper Paugussett State Forest
Parking: TBA
Date: TBA (probably first weekend in July)
Mark Lurie at

George C Waldo State Park
Purchase Brook Rd, Southbury, CT

June 26, 30
July 3, 10, 17
Paula Burton at or 203-426-5369