Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Qball on the Gussy

Went for a quick spin this afternoon on the Gussy with the Qball and cleaned every climb on the Brody Road, including the steepest one. Decided to put a tag at the start of the Gussy Trail from the Brody Road because the last two riders who rode the trail said they weren't sure where the starting point was. Now I think it's pretty clear - just look for the tree with the yellow spot and the two green ribbons tied to it. Hopefully, no one will mess the ribbons.

At the fir up-and-over, it appears that someone may have taken it upon themselves to divide the run up to the stunt by going to the right of the tree (in the picture below) when I had it going around that tree. Looking at it again, this made much more sense so I clipped some branches and opened it up some more.

There was some fresh blow downs blocking the trail that I cleared out of the way.

The yellow on the blow up of the map below highlight's two things, the sequence of pictures following this image and the trail clearing that I did this evening. Seems Rich Coffey took it upon himself to add some improvements through here and I really like them. So, I got out my portable clippers and cleared the new path. It's twisty and a little technical but the big wheels of the Qball handled it easily.

After the clearing work and the photo op session, I jumped back on the Qball pedaled all the way to the first stream crossing. Just need one or two flat rocks there and a little benching and that crossing will be a no brainer. From there I hammered all the way to hairpin turn before traverse near the vernal pool overlook. Without stopping I pedaled all the way to the EEDR point that was no longer there and I was amazed how the Qball rolled through the rock garden/wet spot crossing. Without stopping, I just rounded the corner, picked a line and went for broke and the bike just sailed right through!

EEDR, Final Report

Looks like someone took care of the road apples that were in the middle of the trail. Looks like they were kicked off the trail. I think the best way to deal with the road apples is to ask the horseback riders to curb their horses if they are going to take a stop along the trail. That way, if they are off the trail and Trigger decides to let loose, it won't create a new up-and-over in the coming weeks. I have been talking to some of the other riders and they have told me that their horses also just go while they are walking along. We'll have to build into the TM schedule a knock the doodoo off the trail day.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Someone else riding the Gussy?

Didn't get on the bike today but as I was heading out on a family outing there was a mountain biker heading up Hanover Rd and turned off onto Tamarack Road. He looked pretty clean so my guess is that he was headed to Upper Paugussett. He wasn't Frank, because this guy was on a blue Specialized. I hope he had a nice ride.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rolling Rigid!

Rolled out today on the Fixation sporting a slightly used Bonty 29x2.2 front tire and it barely fits within the 1x1 fork. By barely, I mean there are a few knobby edges that are hitting the bottom of the fork and making an intermittent rubbing sound. At the bottom of my driveway, I decided that I would take care of it when I got home.

As you can see, it's a tight fit. I think there is half a millimeter clearance, if that.

Once on the trail, rubbing noise aside, this bike rides so nicely that I keep asking myself, why do we need suspension bikes? The answer came to me about three hours later with a little soreness in the back and shoulders.

Rode the Upper Gussy from south to north, mainly because I really wanted to finish the re-route. After studying the track from the ride a week ago, which is the red track on the map below, I decided that the new section wasn't flowy enough and had too many sharp turns and by looking at the contours I figured if I swung the trail out a little more there wouldn't be much additional climbing.

Now, instead of making the sharp right turn as you can see in the blow up below where the red track goes off on it's own and then hooks back up, the new route continues the upward climb and then makes a more sweeping turn and hooks up to where I left the old bucket. The cool thing about this change is that there are many more features the trail passes by including more rollers and a few baby heads, one right even in the middle of the trail. This section of the trail is marked but it's not cleared.

Speaking of clearing, the trail is almost 100% cleared of leaves! Tom and his back pack blower did a tremendous job and it seemed that he might have done some this work this week even!

Found another pair of gloves, this time work gloves, that probably belong to Paula. They were on the side of Sanford Road where the Jeep Trail intersects.

Below is the up and over and where Tom stopped blowing the leaves. Not sure of that water bottle is his or someone else's but I bought it out with me. I did one stupid thing here. I paused the Edge and then forgot to turn it back on till I was just about out of the forest so I probably lost a half mile on my miles tally.

That is the one thing I don't like about the Garmin Edge, is that it only records where you have been if the stop watch is running, otherwise it does nothing. I have done this before and usually I just turn it back on back track to where I started and re-ride the part I have missed. Only this time I wasn't going to climb all the way back to the up and over just to turn around and come back down again. If I had more time, maybe I would have.

I wanted to take a trail shot of the Fixation and I think I got a really good picture of it above. With the glow of the setting sun in the background it almost looks surreal. A few seconds later, I took another of me and the Fixation below and that mystical lighting had all but faded.

And what better way to end a ride than to have a nice, fresh BBC. I figured I might as well kill that last bottle of Drayman's Porter and maybe the last one that had was from a bad batch or something because this was one was awesome! Granted, the Imperial Stout is still better, but the Drayman's was perfect for a post ride libation!

Ghost Chain Vid

I have been getting a lot of visits lately from people looking for Ghost Chain examples. Found a little clip on YouTube that I thought I would share. Watch what happens towards the end - next time put that bike in a clamp!

I think I am going to try this with my 69er and my Atomblast wheelset!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

EEDR, Day 13

It's been almost two weeks and that lump of road apples appears to be still pretty solid. I don't think it's rained at all in the past week and it does appear to be drying out but not as fast as I was told it would. This weekend it might get a little assistance during the trail building session - someone could move it deeper into the woods.

The presence of road apples on trails does bring to light an issue that has plagued many trail users and that is horse poop management. I get the feeling that the equestriennes feel that it's natural and part of being out in the woods. One analogy that was offered somewhere was look at deer, they poop all over place. The only difference with deer is their poop tends to be the size of chocolate covered almonds and horse dootie is more like the size of an apple. I guess if you find something round on the side of the road, it's a road apple.

I followed one of the hits that the live usage tracker recorded to some site called Gates of Gold in which somebody referenced my initial EEDR post:

Rocking H : I understand what your saying . I have talked to you on the phone even. I am not knocking heads with you and we both want the same things :) I do feel trying to hold any form of government accountable isn't going to happen and I hope i am wrong. But how many others in other states see what is going on as far as horse back riding is going ? I am hoping others here will join in and give us there perspectives.

Just look at how some of these people think. I for one do not think the first few pictures are of horse droppings
Dude, are you blind? Of the four pictures in my Road Apples post, one of them was of bear dootie and the other three are indeed road apples. The funny thing about his comment is that he/she thinks that I think horses on trails are bad because of the fact that they poop. That wasn't the point of my post and I actually created an account and posted up that forum and chided him/her about the off handed remark. Of course, no one seems to have a poop management plan. If you want to see my reply, just scroll down till you see the post by "Iron Horse."

I am thinking that once the Upper Gussy Trail is finished and seeing that the local horse community has clear interest in the trail, they are after all helping to build it, that we may need to consider some sort of poop mitigation plan. Once a month, the trail is walked and any road apples that are in the tread way get kicked, brushed, or shoveled deeper into the woods. I wonder if this will work?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Where's Waldo Trail, Southbury, CT

New trail in Southbury- All folks interested in volunteering to build a new trail in Southbury are invited to attend a presentation at Class Cycles at 6pm on Thurs. May 1. Pizza will be served and everyone who preregisters will receive an IMBA "Trail Solutions" book worth $35. Space is limited. Work on the trail will begin on Sunday May 4. or 203-426-5369.

Trail Building on the Upper Gussy, Saturday, April 26th

If you are popping in for the first time, live in the area and interested in getting involved, why not come to the trail building event this weekend in Newtown, CT on the Upper Gussy Trail!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Bug, bug, buggy!

Another successful Thursday night RAW (ride after work) ride. Kept it to the standard 4 mile loop: Down Hanover to the Brody Forest Road; up the Brody, down the Gussy, onto Sandford, then Tamarack, back onto Hanover and then home. While on the Brody, I choked on the steepest climb, went back for a second helping and got 3/4s of the way up before stalling. Also did a little clearing and finished up re-routing the new section. Forgot to look for my glasses, in fact I just hammered through that section now that it's open.

The new section that I have spent the last three or four rides and part of one work session re-routing is finally finished as I mentioned earlier. In fact, I shifted a few rocks around at the stonewall and cleaned it on my first try. Of course that section needs to be cleared out some more, especially around all the rock outcropping so they can be ridden more fluidly. Also the section past the stone wall on both sides needs more clearing work.

As I was approaching the ROW I could hear a leafblower off in the distance and guess who should ride up on blowing the leaves on the ROW? Tom! The ROW is nice and open now, however the trail is going to stay on the west side of ROW. The center will be drainage. The re-routed section after the first climb from the jeep trail over by Sanford Road, that I did on Sunday rides, nicely now. Just need to go in and take care of the leaves now and establish a treadway.

Worst thing about the ride though was the bugs! Unbelievable how many there were and I was covered head to toe in bug juice and they were still all over me. Seems the warm weather has brought them out in droves. It was so bad talking to Tom that I couldn't stand it and had to take off.

The 'Horse rode nicely. Can't wait to try a fully 29er sometime or for that matter a hardtail with gears.

EEDR, Day 6

The horse poop is starting to dry out. If I get over here on Sunday with the rake I will ensure that it's not disturbed when the treadway gets raked.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Where are these trails at?

At the Trails workshop last month one of the members of NBLA mentioned during Laurie Giannotti's talk about Greenways that Newtown, CT is an official State Greenway. I wasn't really sure what that meant until I came across this the other day, a Map of the State Greenways. On the DEP's Greenway Homepage, Official Connecticut Greenways, there is a description for Newtown (although the description appears to be out of synch with the map):

29) Newtown Greenway System -The four primary corridors being designated include the Pootatuck River Greenway, the Lake Zoar Greenway, the Lower Paugussett State Forest Greenway, and the Huntington State Park Greenway. These corridors form an interconnected system of multi use trails radiating out from the center of town, linking many open space resources.
What I would like to know is what are "these corridors from an interconnected system of multi-use trails" all about? Multi-use sounds like bikes (and horses of courses). I would like to try and ride all these trails and see what they are like.

I have blown up the map below and taken a few educated guesses and what's what but it still raises a lot of questions. The Housi I know about, great river to canoe and fish on. Wondering how they address portaging over the Shepaug Dam. The Stephenson has a portage.

Another given is Housi RR bed. Too bad that terminates at the townline (sort of). Trail (rail bed) actually continues on into Newtown but enters into a superfund cleanup site that isn't getting cleaned up anytime soon so I am wondering what this "Greenway" connects to. I know there is a river that parallels the active Housatonic RR tracks that flows into Lake Zoar, could that possibly the continuation of the greenway? Seems kind of stupid if you ask me. Am I supposed drag my canoe behind my bike?

Another given is the Newtown Trailway (aka Al's Trail) which is probably part of the Pootatuck Greenway. If the Newtown Trailway is a multi use trail, which the Town often refers to it as, then does that mean it's open to bikes and horses? The Huntington Greenway, while not highlighted comes out of Bethel and Redding, but what I would like to know is what and where are these trails?

I am also wondering whether the Pond Brook Greenway makes any mention of the old RR bed that follows the stream? Looks like Upper Paugussett State Forest is a hub for a lot of these greenways, however, I wonder what that one connector is between Al's Trail and Pond Brook? Hanover Road?

Does anyone have a map of these trails? I have the Newtown Trails Book. I am going to dust it off and see how it corresponds to these greenways and possibly start creating my own Trails Map for the Town, once I am done with the Upper Gussy, that is.

Bike Parts Swap Meet in May?

Pete over at iBike posted on his blog the question of whether an informal Bike Parts Swap Meet was is in order for the second weekend in May. Offer up some parts, get some different parts. Maybe a new ride ... who knows?

Then, when it's all said and done, go for a ride at Trumbull!

Location: Daniel's Farm Commuter Lot off of Route 25 in Trumbull. I think it may also be called the Park Street Commuter Lot.

Have to see what kind of interest the local biking community has. Also, I wonder if it might spark additional swap meets further out.

I am surprised they don't do this at Blue Mountain. NEMBA does a bike swap at their season closer. I might propose this for CT NEMBA's Fall Fiesta and see if gets any traction at tonight's board meeting.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rigid 69er's in the Blogsphere

Noticed somebody surfed in through this search portal the other day, so I back tracked and found the Google Blog Search engine. Pretty nifty and if you want to see the actual search just click on the Google image above and it should automagically transport you to the search page, otherwise, click this: Google Blog Search Rigid 69er. If you run this search there are approximately 58 references so it's pretty cool to see this catching on. There are some good pix of different bikes out there. In fact, check this KHS softie out! I think if I ever get a softtail in the 26er variety I would build up one of these, and with gears!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Equine Excrement Decomposition Report (EEDR), Day 2

It's been two days since I first reported on the sighting of this massive example of Equine Excrement and while there is some question on the date of it's laying, my NBLA counterpart for building the Upper Gussy Trail, has said to give it a week for decomposition. We did have a good down pour early Saturday morning that appears to have sped up the process but it's still looking pretty solid

Reversal of Fortune

Rode the Upper Gussy today from Sanford Road northwards and there is a lot of climbing in this direction! Come to think of it, I don't think I have ridden the whole trail in this direction in quite some time and it was challenging! Of course, I couldn't have picked a better bike for the job, my Iron Horse MKIII. This bike is dialed in and climbs like a mountain goat. Granted there were two climbs I choked on only because the trail still needs better definition.

I did a little more re-routing and clearing along the way. Riding it this way was like riding an entirely different trail. You can look at that the details of the re-routing on my Upper Gussy Blog. The nice thing is that the entire trail is pretty much open. Need to do a little more pruning by the Rock-n-Roller and finish routing through there, which I will try to take care of this week.

Above is a shot looking back towards the second rock ridge. I pruned out this section yesterday.

Took a shot at the new Up-and-Over that Tom and I built yesterday but didn't have enough speed and fell off. Need to think about the approach and test it a little more. Might look at branching the trail further back so that you have straight line into the stunt. Also, I think the ramp on the back side needs to be changed so that you can hit from the north. I think I might try flipping it over to the cut side.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Road Apples

To kick off the first post for the new blog (really just a name change) I thought I would share this tasty morsel found on the Upper Gussy Trail, which embodies the true meaning of Multi-Use.

In comparison to the Qball, this is quite a hunk of Equidae Excrement! The trail at this point is only defined by the impressions that people have made by walking it and the numerous times I have ridden this trail but I do have to applaud the horse for it's aim, right in the middle of the trail.

What I don't get is, did the horse stop to take a dump or did the rider stop to get his or her bearings and horse thought to itself, hmmm, wouldn't this be an excellent time to take a dump? By the size of that mound that looks like a big horse! Can you tell by the size of an animal's dootie how big it is? The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has a pretty good example of bear scat. Looks bigger than a dog, although I have seen dogs drop pretty big turds before. I guess it's all in what they eat.

Since bears are foragers and opportunists, their poop size is probably relative to the amount food they intake. Compared to domesticated animals like dogs and horses, who get their their three squares a day. Those big poops are signs of living high on the hog! I think it's safe to make this comparison because just look at Deer poop. That's a pretty big animal but look what it eats all day, basically what ever it can find, and it's droppings are pretty small in comparison to it's body size.

I couldn't tell whether there was more than one horse on the trail because of all the hoof prints from Cindy's ride two weeks ago but it does appear that the big horse had a little horse companion by the additional poop found further up and to the right of the trail. I consulted an Equestrienne about poop and trail etiquette and he said that in a week or so it will be mostly gone. So we will monitor the big pile and see what happens over the next few weeks. Of course it might get taken care of during the next trail building session.

What amazed me the most, however, was the rider's tracking abilities. These riders followed the trail expertly. I would like to get his or her's impression of the trail in terms how it rides for a horse.

Rode the Qball again. It's such a sweet riding bike especially for exploring uncharted terrain where I don't have to worry about my rear derailleur snapping off.

Ride Map

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Blog Name

Like my handles on various mountain biking forums, which I have also changed repeatedly, I think it's time for a change to the blog name. Not sure why I have changed my handle names a few times, maybe it's some latent insecurity I have about myself and the image that I project, and I am sure there is some sort of pyscho-babble explanation for it. However, in the case of this blog, I think it's metamorphosizing into something bigger than me just blogging about where I have ridden and what I have seen along the way.

For one thing, I am taking my passion for single speeds to the road now and I am finding many aspects of biking in general very interesting and I like to write about them. I think the divergence from strickly mountain biking issues to cycling in general should be reflected in the name of this blog. Therefore, the new name of this blog is Cycle Snack. I got the idea from the index page on the Swedish Cycling Forum, Swebikers. Of course Cykelsnack probably translates to Cycling Talk. So, by Americanizing the Swedish version of talking about cycling, I am further defining the meaning of snacks about cycling. Afterall, my posts tend to be little morsels of cycling related topics for everybody to consume and enjoy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Swedish Translation

The author of iBike's father speaks and reads Swedish and he translated the post:
I have a problem getting the chain tight enough I don't have vertical dropouts and will drive without chain tensioner, have 26/14 now and a half link chain, cannot tighten it properly, do you think it will improve with 13 in the rear? Will it not be uneven to ride 12 that certainly will be the same. I know it's a dam hard question to answer!! If anyone has experience of these, please share?
My first thought is who rides 26/14? I wonder if this is a trials rider? I wonder if he took the advice of the guy who visited my blog and tried a ghost chain. Speaking of which, I should have tried that on Barney the Purple Cannondale. Have to try that out on something else at some point.

Talar du svenska?

I know this has nothing to do about mountain biking but since adding the FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed applet it's interesting to see what people are looking for or how they came across my blog.
This morning I decided to look at the link from Sweden and it points to a specific post that I made about the Ghost Chain tensioner I found described on NEMBA's forum. If anyone speaks Swedish, maybe you can tell me what they are talking about in this Swedish Cycling Forum.
Jag har problem att få kedjan tillräckligt spänd, jag har inte vertikala droppouts och vill köra utan kedjespännare, har 26/14 nu och half link kedja, får inte till det riktigt, tror ni det blir bättre med 13 ibak? blir ju ojämt ist för å köra 12 som nog blir lika dant.Vet jävligt svår fråga att svara på !! men om nån har erfarenhet om detta så dela me gärna
Well, I don't speak Swedish but I can speak German and I see many similarities:

I have problem with ... chain length ... I have verticle drops. I am running 26t by 14t with a half link and I can't get it right ... is there a solution for my dilemma?
The second answering post references my blog and the Ghost Chain post. Looks like they weren't looking for my secret meatball recipie.

The next visitor led me back to a Google Search about the Paugussett Trail in Monroe and Shelton and I came across a very interesting article in today's NYTimes, Online Edition: Who Keeps 600 Miles of Trail Blazed? The article talks about the Paugussett Trail and Connecticut Forest and Park Association, as well as some mentions for DEP and biking in the the way of Greenways.

Pretty entertaining.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Look what a Dremel can do!

Ground out the drops! Obviously, it's not pefect but now I there is just enough tension on the chain and it no longer makes that grinding noise when I first got it. Below I have a SRAM PC-1 chain on it but I think that chain is overkill (and heavy) for this bike. I put on a lighter 5 speed Z chain which is much better. So, after 3 months of screwing around, Barney the Purple Cannondale has a new lease on cycling. Of course, now I need to take it out for a real ride.

As for my first fixed road bike, I have something in the works on a frame that is older than this but I will let the suspense build as I build this bike up.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A pure hand needs no glove to cover it ...

... not if you are a mountain biker. Found this near the end of the Brody Road, about 100 yards up from Hanover Road. This wasn't there on Sunday morning when I rode through. I wonder who lost it and what were they doing? If I had to venture a guess it was trail runner because it was pretty cold Monday morning and no self respecting mountain biker would take off his (or her) gloves before a ride was finished. So, it must belong to a runner who started their run with the gloves on but towards the end of the run, hands got hot, off they came, but this one wasn't very secure and onto the trail it landed.

Wasn't able to workout during lunch today so as soon as I got home, I did a superman in the garage, into my riding duds and hit the Upper Gussy on the Qball. Since I rode the Fixation on Sunday and the 'Horse last weekend it was time for the Qball to get a work out and it was a great choise for the Upper Gussy. As I mentioned in Sunday's post about riding the Fixation as rigid mountain bike and noticing the difference between having a 26er wheel up front as opposed to a 29er wheel and I could really feel the difference in the stuff I was rolling over - especially since I was riding rigid. Well, the Qball was pure heaven.

The Qball handled everything on the trail nicely today. In fact I rolled through things that I chickened out on before while riding the 'Horse. Did I ever mention how well this bike climbs? I cleaned every stage on the Brody Road leading up to the Upper Gussy main trail head. Hmmm, I wonder what a geared 29er would be like?

Didn't have much time to do any trail work but I did take a stab at re-routing the trail to incorporate the new stream crossing. There are some nice features in that new section including some cool rollers incorporated into the trail, as well as a nice new climb that will require quite a bit of benching, but it fits with the new stream crossing nicely and adds some more distance to the trail. Check back tomorrow on the Upper Gussy Blog for more trail analysis on the re-routing effort.
And what better way to finish the day but grill steaks and a nice stout from BBC.

I have to say that I love Imperial Stout, much better than the Drayman's Porter. In comparison, the porter has too much fru-fru flavoring like coffee and chocolate. Where as, the Imperial Stout has merely a hint and no bitter aftertaste like what you get in a Guiness. Of course my favorite is now Lost Sailor India Pale Ale, and in third place is the Black and Tan.

The title of this post is a quote by Nathaniel Hawthorne.