Monday, June 30, 2008

Qballs: Monkey Wrench Cycles Build

This is Chad's first 29er. He bought a new frame from Mr. Quiring and the build kit from his lbs, Monkey Wrench Cycles.

  1. XT drive train (xtr front der),
  2. Thomson stem/post,
  3. Salsa bars,
  4. Avid bb 7 brakes,
  5. wheels are WTB laser disc with xt hubs, built by Eric at Monkey Wrench.

Ride Report: Chad has it dialed in fairly well.

The last picture is of a little piece that you install in the horizontal dropouts to keep the axle straight. They were around $20, but well worth it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I rejoice that there are owls ...

Henry David Thoreau writes in Walden:
I rejoice that there are owls. Let them do the idiotic and maniacal hooting for men. It is a sound admirably suited to swamps and twilight woods which no day illustrates, suggesting a vast and underdeveloped nature which men have not recognized. They represent the stark twilight and unsatisfied thoughts which all [men] have.
Why am I quoting Thoreau and owls? On the way back and hiking my bike up a pretty steep slope, a rather large, brown mottled bird swooped down in front of me and alighted in a tree pretty close to the trail At first I thought it was a redtailed hawk but then I saw those big eyes staring at me and knew it was an Owl.

Here is a close up of the owl. You are looking at his back and his head is basically turned 180 degrees back towards me.

Tried to enhance this shot. I took the picture with an ISO rating of 1600 and it turned out a little grainy. I figured if I converted it black and white, it might look better.

Rode the Qball this morning because I was a little uncertain on how the 'Horse would perform after I spent the better part of two hours yesterday trying to adjust the rear derailleur. I think I was successful - the lowest most gear now works again but since I was planning on at least a 10 mile ride I didn't want to be way out on the trail and all of sudden have a problem.

I had barely began climbing the Brody road when I met someone coming down. His name is Roger and he lives in Newtown. He told me that that he rides the Upper Gussy Trail!

In fact he told me the loop that he rides the Mulikin Trail, only he climbs up it rather than enjoy the fun down hill. Don't get me wrong, I like to climb that but there are sections of that trail that are not fun if you are heading up hill. Still, I probably should give it a try - I don't think I have ridden that section in the other direction. After he rides the Gussy Trail, he turns back north on the West Side Equestrienne Trail. I haven't been down that trail in three years. He mentioned that there was huge tree down in the middle of the trail. Based on what he told me, here is my guess on the loop that he is riding. It's probably around a 5 mile ride.

On the switchback climb after Via Roma I noticed all these spiderwebs on the ground, covered in dew and with the rising sun they really stood out this morning.

Today's ride consisted of up the Brody Road to the Gussy. Down the Gussy and out onto Sanford Road, then Echo Valley. Up onto to the old rail road bed and down (approx 2 miles) to Walnut Tree Hill. Loop back and pick up Al's Trail just before the intersection with Albert's Hill Road. Rode back on Al's trail. Decided to come back via Al's Trail as it goes back into the forest and look for the old road that comes off the Brody Road. I found it, but there were some grueling hike-a-bikes along the way.

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More Craigslist Local 29ers for sale

This is an interesting one. Seems kind of funny that one would spend almost $2K on a mountain bike for a type of frame/wheels that is known for it's superior handling in rough terrain and only ride it on the road? Why not just buy a cross bike? If you need a little a squish upfront, just hit up NYCBikes for one of their 700c fork deals. I wouldn't mind putting that Rock Shox fork for $99 on the Fixation to give the front just a little squish.

The frame size could really be an issue, 19 inch is a little small for someone over 6' 2". Just look at me, I am not comfortable unless I am stretched out and all my bike frames (that I have purchased) are 20 inches and over. Sounds like the guy is really a roadie, went into his LBS looking for something off road because everyone knows the only cool riders are mountain bikers, the LBS pushed this onto him, he scratched it up on rock, and now has buyer's remorse - thus offered up on the CList.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Friday Fix

Check this out! A fixed gear Schwinn for $4 Hundy? Anyone buying this would have to be out of their mind. I am surprised, however, that the seller didn't offer the Brooklyn Bridge for free as an incentive to buy this bike. Paid $1000? He must be really stupid if that much was paid for this bike. Invariably this is just a scam/ripoff. Hope no one falls for this. If you click on the image it will bring you to the actual posting - however by the time you are reading this post I am sure it will be pulled.

Having to dig deep lately in my pursuit to find more fixed gear mountain bikes. Found a guy with a site that specializes in fixed off road riding, his site is called the BUFFAL0B1LL BIKESITE but it doesn't seem to have been recently updated. Still, there are some interesting bikes here. For example, check out his Schwinn Snow Fixie with the Rock Shox Metro fork. I might have to try making one of these if I can get the same fork on the cheap. had a bunch of these they were selling at a good price. They have the Rock Shocks for $49 and an RST for $20, hmmmm, the possibilities!

Here is his late 80s GT conversion. Pretty nice, only one brake for off road riding would make me nervous. By the looks of things the guy might live somewhere down in Virginia or Maryland so one brake is probably sufficient because they don't have real hills down that way. J/K. Means he probably does a lot of skidding to stop.

Here is the original incarnation of this bike. It's number 992 on FGG. I thought I might have gone that deep on FGG but maybe I didn't.

If you have a fixed gear mountain bike, ATB, or cross bike, and would like to have it included in The Friday Fix, at no charge, feel free to email a good picture of it with a short description of the build and what kind of terrain you like to ride it on. To me, if it's a fixed gear and hit has knobby tires, it's an off road bike.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

There's $h!t on my leg!

I was hammering down Sanford Road when all of a sudden I felt something cold and wet on my leg (and brown). I wiped it off with my glove and then smelled it! Blech! Dog pooh! I looked at my front tire and imbeded in the knobbies was more pooh. I did my best to wipe it off on some nearby grass. Still, I still kept getting whiffs along the way.

You'd think my last week of time off before I start my new job I would be riding every day but with my daughter in a dance workshop and my wife swamped with freelance work, my role has become keeping my two sons busy. One thing for sure is that I am getting a lot of time with my kids but it's clear that I probably wouldn't make it as a stay at home Dad. Accolades go out to my wife and her ability to manage the kids!

I was planning on doing a quick Echo Valley Loop and then try some of the Newtown Trailway (aka Al's Trail) but then I figured that I should hit it first because I wasn't sure how far I would get, not to mention the pooh incident sort of had me off my game at this point. So rather than pedaling up the Brody Road, I headed down towards the water on what was probably the discontinued portion of Echo Valley Road.

Clearly people are riding this section because there were some nice up-and-overs built on some of the downed trees blocking the trail. The trail pops out onto Albert's Hill Road so it's knobbies on asphalt for bit but I detoured into some Newtown Forestry Assoication property to check it out but there was nothing special, not even a loop.

Once back on the trail, it basically follows some very old horse cart roads, essentially dual track, although there are a few sections where the trail was nicely benched into the side of a steep slope. If you went off the trail, you'd most likely slide for quite a bit. There were some nice rock gardens along the way, and the stream crossing were expertly armored.

Above is the placard for the Shepaug Dam. It's right on the trail looking upwards at the dam but with the tree cover it was tough to see the dam. Before turning onto this section, there was a side trail that headed closer to the dam. Probably an old access way for when they were building the dam. Below is the best shot of the dam.

The shot below is looking across the river. In the background you can see the bald eagle viewing shack.

This is looking back down the side trail that was probably used in the past during the construction of the dam. It appears to have continued up to the dam, however, part of the hill caved in so the original road grade was obliterated. It looked like there was a trail along the edge but you'd have to be crazy to walk that.

This shot is look back up the side trail. There is a turn off for another road grade that heads down towards the water. There is a lot of poison ivy here, so I didn't stay long.

I got to where the trail comes out on Walnut Tree Hill and decided to turn around. In fact I was running out of time and decided when I hit the gas line/old Rail Road bed, I would take that route back. Not only would it be faster but very nostalgic. This bed was the same road for the Larkin State Bridal Trail, which was the line that went between Hawleyville and Waterbury.

After coming down back from Walnut Tree Hill I was coming down a short hill and riding through some ferns when I hit something that popped my chain off the back sproket. Stopped and got the chain back on but noticed that the bike wouldn't shift to lowest gear! Looks like the 'Horse needs some work.
There was this pristine beaver pond along the right of way. I'd love to get my canoe in there and do a little fishing.

The gas line cuts through the middle of the McLaughlin winery. It looks like I am in Nappa Valley.
Here is what today's ride looks like with the rest of Upper Paugussett. If I were to do the same route with the Echo Valley Loop, I'd be easily over 10 miles! Below is the composite map.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Happening at Huntington, Part Deux

Philip Keyes, the Executive Director of the New England Mountain Biking Association also took pictures at Sunday's ride event. Here is a link to more pictures from Sunday's Happening at Huntington at NEMBA's website. From there, you can also link to his website Singlespeed Photography for even more pictures.

And check out this video compilation from NEMBA's own riding area called Viet Nam. This place is awesome and if you want to ride there, please join NEMBA today to help support it and many other riding locations in New England.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Qballs: Monster Cross

Came across this Qball on, which shows you the versatility of this frame and different build styles. This Qball is a Cyclo-Cross bike. According to Wikipedia:

A cyclo-cross bicycle is a bicycle specifically designed for the rigors of a cyclo-cross race. Cyclo-cross bicycles roughly resemble the racing bicycles used in road racing. The major differences between the two are the geometry and the wider clearances that cyclo-cross bikes have for their larger tires and mud and other debris that is picked up by them.
According to the Union Cycliste Internationale:

Cyclo-cross is a discipline run on 2.5 to 3.5 circuits, including clearings, roads, country lanes and paths through forests. The riders have to do several laps of the circuit over a period of no more than an hour. To make their way along steep paths, muddy tracks and artificial obstacles, sometimes the riders even have to carry their bikes.
Also from the wiki I found the following:

The following are rules that have been put in place by the UCI that are either specific to or have particular effect on cyclo-cross bicycles. Bear in mind that these rules are not exhaustive, are only for UCI sanctioned events and may not be enforced at all cyclo-cross events[2].

  • Handlebars must not measure more than 50 cm (19.5 inches) in width.
  • Tire width may not exceed 35 mm and tires may not feature any kind of studs or spikes.
  • Wheels shall have at least 12 spokes.
  • The bicycle must not weigh less that 6.8 kg (15 lb).
  • Disc brakes are forbidden.

In recent years, some cyclo-cross bicycles available in the consumer market are supplied with disc brakes, which violate UCI regulations, as a stock item. In general these bicycles have braze-ons to enable the use of cantilever style brakes instead. In the United States, disc brakes are now allowed for non-UCI events.

In some countries (including the United States, so long as it is not a UCI event) riders are also permitted to race in cyclo-cross events using mountain bikes (generally without bar ends), at least in low-level competition, but this is not currently allowed in events on the international calendar. It has been known for local races to be won on mountain bikes, particularly if the course is technical with little road or fast sections. However, for a traditional cyclo-cross course a cyclo-cross bicycle is the most suitable tool for the job.
According to the owner, the original intent of the build was to race cross but as a SS, then he altered then plan and added gears to make it a training bike. However, this fall he plans on altering his Qball to be a SS CX bike and race at a few CX events along the Front Range (Colorado). The current build with gears is around 26 lbs – a bit more effort needed to shoulder this beast as opposed to a CX bike.

Current Qball MonsterX build list:
Q-ball 18" Frame
Willits W.O.W fork
On-One Midge bars
Salsa Moto Ace SUL stem
Dura Ace 9spd bar end shifters
Chris King headset
Avid Road Mechanical disc brakes
Tektro RL520A brake levers
Dean Titanium Seat post
Salsa Lip lock Seat post clamp
Koobi PRS Alpha saddle
Salsa Delgado Cross rims (32H)
DT Swiss hubs
DT Supercomp spokes
SRAM X Gen Front Derailleur
Shimano XTR normal rise Rear Deraileur
RaceFace Deus 175mmm cranks
Shimano Ultegra 12-27 9spd cassette
SRAM PC-89 chain
Crankbrothers Candy SL pedals
Jagwire cable housings and adjusters
Rolf Ti skewers
Surly Monkey Nutz II
Maxxis Crossmark tires running tubeless with Stan's rim strips
Some pictures of the MonsterX:

As far as what it's like to ride, check out Calvin's ride report.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Happening at Huntington

The 2008 Happening at Huntington was a smashing success! There was quite a turn out, including Philip Keyes, the Executive President for the New England Mountain Biking Association. EMS Fairfield was on hand for mechanical assistance, and there were tons of demos from Iron Horse, Cannondale, and Kona.

Joanna Brooks (Girlz Rides Leader) and Philip Keys

Alan Stemple signing in. Heather LaPalme and Joanna helping with registrations

The weather seemed to have held off for the riding portion of the day but around a noon there was at least a passing shower. According to Paula, one of the event's organizers:
A few riders in the north end of the park "got hosed" in the words of the ride leader, but at the main entrance we were fine. We had just cleaned everything up and closed the gates when the steady rain started -- about 2:30 or so.
Not sure how the afternoon went because I had to leave early. Still, there were tons of demos, including Iron Horse, Cannondale, and Kona. Both C'dale and Kona had 29ers; Caffine and the Kula. I wish I had more time because I would have demoed one or the other.

As with every event you get some kid that shows up on a Toys-R-Us Huffy, as well as guys wanting to get into the sport but not willing to commit to a quality bike and invariably find that their bike isn't really up to the type of riding that most people were doing that day. In fact, in the video at the bottom of this post, there is a guy working on his rear derailleur because the chain popped out of it.

Besides the 29er demos, there was one other 29er, a Seven Cycles Ti rig that was pretty blinged out but it didn't look like the guy riding that rig was there for event and didn't want to be bothered. I think I was the only single speeder there as well.

The event had led rides, as well, three routes marked and I was planning on leading a bigger group but since I needed to be back by 11:30, Rich Stinchcomb (below, left) and Tren Spence (below right) decided to follow me.

I applied the route we took on the state map, below. Heading down from the parking lot we hit the blue trail which is some tight, twisty single track that goes through stone walls and some crazy rock gardens. The trail spits out onto one of the carriage roads which we took over to another section of nice single track, which I hit every time I ride at Huntington. Back on the blue to the cliffs and then hooked around them and took the little connector back to the blue.

I like this little connector because of the armored stream crossing. I took some clips of the three of us riding this section. From there we rode some more blue trail and then I took a wrong turn that led us back to the red trail so we continued back to another white connector trail back to the blue. My intention was to try riding up little vomit and see if I could do it this time. Got about half way up and then I choked.

Tren broke off from us when we got back to the Blue Trail so it was just Rich and I. Ran into Dave from Danbury who was out riding his with dog. There were some other riders that were attending the event that we encountered as well. On another section of single track came across the group that Vince Rinaldi was leading. One the riders went endo on a section of trail that Rich and I were attempting to ride up.

It wouldn't be a good day if there weren't a few mechnanicals to deal with. Vince is seen above helping out the rider in his group that went endo and subsequently got one of his cables hung up. Rich and I headed over to the roller that I learned on last year's Black Friday ride. We both took turns rolling down and captured each run on video.

Riding out of the Big Burn, took the short cut over to the Rock and Roll Trail. This is probably the most technical and challenging of all the trails at Huntington State Park and today it got a lot of attention. Rich and I stopped to help with yet another mechanical. This type, a rider's chain popped out of the rear derailleur cage.

Ran into Rich Coffey and his son. Rich has done quite a bit of work with me on the Upper Gussy Trail.

Shot some more clips of people riding the Rock and Roll Trail. I really like riding the trail in this direction. The technical climbs and rock gardens are really fun. Below is a blow up of the trail according to my GPS Track.

Here is the Trail Profile to give you an idea of the varied terrain

Here is my track from my Garmin Edge shown using GPSVisualizer

Tried something new in the video department by adding some slide shows to break up the video sequences. It makes for better transitions because you can control the sequencing better. It's not perfect but it was fun learning new things and realizing that I probably need a better video editor now.