Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween at the Paugussett

October 31st always seems to be a great time to ride and the past three years we have been lucky with nice and warm temps.  Whether that's a coincidence or global warming, I can't tell you, however, it's great for riding.  On my Echo Valley loop I keep wondering when the town is going to replace these two street signs (above) that might be from the 50s or 60s.  I thought I would capture them digitally for future prosperity.

You might recall in an earlier post I talked about a hunter taking a dump in his van, well I am pretty sure this is the van (picutred above) and the owner of the van (pictured below) I met on the Fire Road.  So meet Mr Van Dumper.

Not sure how territorial owls are but this one looks like the one I saw back in June.  Still it was great to see some wildlife other than the ocassional deer.

In honor of Halloween I wore my pumpkin shirt.  It was overkill for the temperature but it's blaze orange and that is what you need to have while riding during hunting season.

This final picture is looking down Sanford Road at the end of the Jeep Trail.  A friend of mine said that there were ATV tracks on the Jeep Road but I couldn't tell.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Friday Fix: Thursday Edition

Look Ma, no brakes! 

I rode the entire route (home-work-home) yesterday without using my brakes! A couple of times I didn't prepare soon enough and by that I mean slow down enough to where I would be able to stop in time but by standing up in the saddle and reversing my pedaling force to the pedal upswing I found that I could slowdown much quicker.  I think there was one intersection, because you come down a hill to a stop sign, where I had to cut across and ride against traffic otherwise I would have had to use the brakes.  Still, the training benefit of riding this way is enormous.

When I left the house Thursday morning it was a brisk 27 degrees Fahrenheit or -3 degrees Celsius but I planned accordingly. I put on a face mask, wicking shirt, long sleeve workout shirt, Pearl Izumi riding jacket, fleece vest, Winter MTB riding gloves, my old Army Physical Fitness Uniform pants, which are mesh lined with a Gore-Tex like outer material that has a little insulation - not sure what you would call it but what do you expect from the lowest bidder, riding shorts, wool socks and my Winter MTB riding boots.

29er with a Chain Guard?

I think it's scareligious to do such a thing and wouldn't be caught dead riding this bike. Yikes!

Another abomination in the 29er world is the Thruster 29er. If you want cheap, and by biking standards I mean big box store quality then shield your eyes on this:

If you don't believe me this is for real, just click on the image and it will bring you to the website that is actually selling these bikes. This is the first that I had heard of this bike and in fact I thought the only type of really cheap 29er are the offerings from I, myself, couldn't beleive this was for real until I Googled it. If you can get it at Modell's or Dick's then you know it is cheap. I was surprised that you couldn't find it at Walmart or Target but I guess 29ers haven't quite hit their radar screen yet.

Ever hear of a Zoom 29er fork? Neither have I. My guess is it's just a re-branded RS Dart3. It's also funny that if you click on some of the thumbnails, not once do you get a good picture of the fork. Are they trying to hide something? It lookes like 29ers are finally hitting the mainstream because now they are being carried by the big box stores.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Qballs with Gears

I have been getting many hits on the blog from people looking for information on the Qball so I had to dig deep to find some more Qballs out on the interwebs. The first one is a geared version from the Bicycle Escape, which is a bike shop in Maryland that sells Qball frames.

Scott Quiring is a Michigan frame builder that has mastered the art. His custom line (branded Quiring) is built from the ground up per customer specifications. His Qball line of frames are super high value USA crafted frames for a rider looking for the best balance of value and quality. Both of these bikes are of course available

Found these two on a QBall thread on MTBR. In fact, I think this thread was the one that convinced me to pull the trigger on this bike. Essentially the first bike I purchased without a road test. Can you guess who I am in the thread?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pulling the kids

I saw somebody do this so I had to try it. Granted, an Xtra Cycle probably would have been better, or even a KidzTandem, but since I already have both a Trail-a-bike and a Burley, this is the cheapest solution. Hooked up the Burley to the Trail-a-bike to the Mongoose. That is one of the reasons I got the Mongoose in first place, so I would have some gears to try to pull this off and it worked. Took my boys on a quick ride at the Monroe Rail Trail and we looked like a train. Kind of serendipitous when you think about it, pulling a train of bike related carriers on an old railroad bed. I had some guy take our picture but unfortunately both pictures that he took were blurry.

Brodie, the one in the trailer actually tried the Trail-a-bike while we were visiting the park but found it too wobbly for his comfort zone. Plus I told him he couldn't eat or drink while on the Trail-a-bike and he wanted to go back in the trailer.

Here is a little ride video:

The Triplet from Mark on Vimeo.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Don't Shoot Me Bro!

Riding on a Saturday in the fall always makes me nervous but with everything going on this weekend the only time I could get out for a ride was Saturday moring. I oranged up and headed out. The weather threw me for a loop. The house thermometer was showing 49 degrees but when I got to the forest it felt like 60 and I was wearing my riding pants for the first time. Hunting shirt, orange flamed helmet, and orange riding gloves. All of which for the temperature was overkill.

Still, wearing my Don't Shoot Me Bro fall riding shirt was essential because the parking lot at Echo Valley was full with cars sporting Cabelas and NRA stickers.

I was surprised there weren't more leaves down as I hit the fire road on the Echo Valley side but even more surprising was all the tire tracks in the leaves. I did a little exploring at the intersection with the fire road and the white trail - probably not the best idea during hunting season but figured it's much more open and since I looked like a cross between the Budweiser Snow Sleigh with all the bells that I was wearing and the Great Pumpkin on two wheels I figured any hunters would not only see me but also hear me.

I rode the skidder paths/swaths towards kissing oaks but didn't quite get there. Still, riding through here might make a nice alternative to get around the swampy area that the white trail traverses. There is also the potential for some great log rides, too, that I will have to explore further.

Over by the Gussy Trail head on the fire road I found this huge paper wasps nest! Never knew it was there and I have ridden past it probably a hundred times this season. Still, it's a little disconcerting to realize that it's there now and it's still active.

Yikes, that is one big wasp nest and so close to the trail. I am surprised no one has gotten stung. Cindy Miller reported in late summer there was a Yellow Jacket nest near a downed tree on west side equestrienne trail that she disturbed while riding over it. After all the run-ins I have had with wasps and yellow jackets in the past I have avoided that trail completely. I will just give this nest a much wider berth in the future.

The Short Log Ride is a blast! I took some video of me riding it back and forth but haven't edited it yet so in the meantime, here are a few stills of me on the stunt. The shot below, I am headed south.

And here I am coming back up. I had a few failed attempts, too. The trick is in maintaining the proper speed to keep you upright. Not too fast because if you turn too quickly you will never recover in time and most likely go OTB when your front wheel slides off the log. Too slow and you will fall over.

Here is a little YouTube-age:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Map Maker, Map Maker, Make Me a Map!

I found this interesting website called WhereWeRide and what I really like about it is how it lays out the ride locations for a particular area, which has re-awakened my desire to create my own local Dirt Guide.

I started poking around Google Apps and after a few hours of playing around or you might say coding I created this. I haven't figured out how to make it interactive and to imbed it into a blog post but I will get there eventually. The other thing I want to start doing is adding my ride tracks as an interactive map rather than a static map. Now that would be awesome!

What I am aiming for is to create a map for CT with all the legal places to ride and they will be numbered like the WhereWeRide map and when you click on the number, you will get a pop up window that name the location and provide links to various websites that have information on the particular place. One stop shopping for all the websites with riding information.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Open Deer Season (Bow) @ Collis P Huntington SP!

This was just brought to my attention by a fellow mountain biker and I am shocked to learn about this now.  There are not many places to ride within Fairfield County that have a complex network of trails and miles and miles of singletrack.  Troutbrook or Pequonnock River Valley (aka Trumbull) are two areas that are similar in complexity but both permit hunting.  Huntington SP, on the other hand, is so busy with equestriennes, mountain bikers, joggers, dog walkers, walkers and hikers, that I can't see why the DEP would open up hunting here.  It's insane! 

This means that there are practically no safe places to ride without the fear of either getting shot at or skewed by an arrow.  Granted, I don't recall of any hunting accidents ocurring in the last five years but knowing that there is the potential for something like that is unnerving, to say the least.  The only places that you can ride in Fairfield County where hunting is not permitted are the following locations:
  1. Mianus
  2. Wilton Woods
  3. Shelton Lakes
There is also Cranberry Park but I hear there is too much dog poo.  There could be more but these are the ones with probably the best networks of singletrack.  Sub-rural-urbia just got a lot smaller.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Friday Fix: Fixed and 29er!

Came across a brace of Fixie 29ers on Flickr and thought they would make a wonderful addition to the Friday Fix.

Jamis, Monster Cross Fixie 29er!  Drive Train on the left side, too.  

Doesn't get much better than this!  Kita-san.  Fixed and 29, with a drum brake.

Another fixie 29er, called Soiled with a drum front brake.

And here are my renditions:

Raleigh XXIX Fixed
Qball Fixed

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

29er and a Porche?

Sub-rural-urbia has it's fair share of luxury vehicles, though the quantity is diminishly less than what you'll find between Fairfield and Greenwich. However, while waiting for the bus with my daughter the other morning, I recognized a Porche driving down Hanover Road and what was peculiar about it and what really struck me as odd was that it had a roof rack and a mountain bike on it! When it passed by, it looked like the bike was a black Independent Fabrications 29er single speed!

I know a guy over in Danbury that drives a Bimmer and he has a rack atop his car for his bike but this is the first time I have ever seen a luxury sports car with a bike rack. Not to mention a single speed, 29er! Kind of overkill if you ask me but still cool to see the koolaid influence slowly creeping into Sub-rural-urbia.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peugeot UO-8

Look what the cat dragged in! Actually, a friend of mine rescued this classic if not vintage Peugeot from the breakers last week. At first I thought it might be a PX-10, which is the bike that Eddie Mercy rode to win the Tour de France in the late 1960s but after comparing the bike to various online resources I came to the conclusion that this bike is not a PX, nor a PA-10. I found a lot of information at the following site:

It resembles the PA-10 with the fact that bicycle pump mounts on the down tube, however, the Neverex lugs on the PA-10 are painted black. The lugs on this bike are trimmed in black.

The other tell tale feature that points this bike to the UO-8 model is the black bar tape and the covers on the brake levers in comparison to the picture at the top.

It actually comes with a Brooks Saddle! Not the best of saddles but it's still a Brooks and a type that is no longer made anymore. It's a padded racing saddle. Probably not worth much because of a tear in the side.

These Mafac Racer brakes are pretty unique, though, and look really cool. I think once I get everything cleaned up it will look really nice.

The front derailleur is an interesting design. It works like a piston and probably has a spring pushing against it but when you pull down on the lever it pulls the derailleur over.

Can't tell whether this is an upgraded derailluer or did it come stock. Two other bikes that I am working on from this same era have similar Suntour derailleurs but according to everything I read, the UA-8 came with a Simplex derailleur that was made of plastic and prone to breaking.

Cranks are pretty unique, rather than five bolts there are three. This will look ever better, I think when I go to a single crank and take off everything else.

To get this bike running again, all it needed was air in the front tire and a new tube in the rear. I think I am going to try 700c wheelset with 38c cross tires and I am going to either replace the bars with a pair of mustache bars and use aero levers or keep the bars and put on some Campy shifter/brake combos that the LBS might give me a good deal on. Definitely going to keep it geared for now. It will be interesting to see what it's like to commute to work geared.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Late afternoon quickie

Had the opportunity to finish up the workday at home after getting my daughter off the bus and then taking her over to her Brownie Troop outing. Temperature today was a balmy 70 degrees and the whole afternoon it looked like it was going to rain. Once I was done with work I hopped on the 'Horse wearing a dayglo green riding jersey and hammered out a quite 5 mile ride in Upper Paugussett State Forest in the waning late afternoon sunlight.

I went for the Echo Valley Loopy ride because it covers the most distance in the shortest amount of time. The other track (red) in the map above is really there to provide a little reference so that I can show where the trail reroute is from the work that was done on the Gussy Trail last weekend.
Unfortunately, the map doesn't do a good job of showing where the Short Log Ride is either. I took some pictures of it last weekend but they don't do it justice, either, however I did have plenty of before pictures so if you really want to get a sense of this area, I suggest you follow the above link and see what I mean. I hit the short log ride and cleaned it on the first try. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of time so no video this time around. I will try to shoot something this weekend.

The picture below is of no where in particular but it exemplifies the serenity of the forest during autumn. Another of layer of leaves have fallen atop the layer from the last year and the layer from the year before and the layer before that one. All these layers weigh down on the base layers decomposing the leaves and creating humus.