Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Blue Trail Roller

Got back out on the Gussy with my friend Rick who lives up the street towards the center of Town this past Sunday.  It was kind of hard to get motivated Sunday morning after sleeping in a tent in the back yards.  It was our pre-camping weekend dry run to see how our little ones would take to sleeping outdoors.  Only Elliot and I made it through the entire night.  Everyone else bailed at 2 AM, mostly because of the cold.  It was 49 degrees!  

Headed over to the Echo Valley lot because the only working bike I had at the moment and I was full of intrepidation after the last ride on the Fixation which ended in a walk of shame.  Trying a different lock ring this time, as well as cranking a 20t now.  I couldn't race at Singlespeed-la-Paloosa so I had to settle for single speed ride on the Gussy.  At least I was on the bike! 

Met Rick in the lot and we headed out.  Up along the fire road where they recently logged the cleared areas looked inviting, especially along the east side of the road where some new rock outcropings were exposed but we pressed on.  Tried to do a quick loop to Kissing Oak but it was overgrown with ferns and looked like it was going to be a tick smorgasboarg, so we climbed up the back of the hill towards the Gussy Trail head.  Bike was performing nicely.

Once again, the Gussy trail rocked.  I cleaned the up-and-over that had been giving me trouble in the past I think part due to the smaller wheels this time.  I think because as you approach it the trail moves upward, then the two trees, and it drops off again.  On the 29er I sometimes hesitate and get caught up in the middle.  The Fetish just plowed through it like a bull.

Similarly, the new armoring, which needs to be dug in, by starting further out I hit the line right up the center and hammered through it.  Over to the Log Ride Short, I passed on it but Rick rode it nicely.  The trail is holding nicely now.  Oh there are a few more things that need to be fixed like in the rerouted section by the third stream crossing it needs some armoring.  That will be tough because there are no Rock Stores nearby.

We stopped off at the Blue Trail Roller and took a few rolls.  I fixed the tranny getting up onto the rock so now the run up is really nice and smooth.  Took some videos, too.

I took a shot on the new roller but found that the run up to that one still needs some work.  It was a really good ride for an early Sunday morning.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another ride on the Middlebury Trolley Trail

Finally a beautiful day this past Saturday and we only got out on the tail end of it. I took the kids over to Meadowbrook Park in Middlebury where we saddled up the bikes and took off. To keep with the schedule, ride and then play at the park and still make it home for another planned activity we did a quick four miles on the trail. Rode down to the center of Middlebury, had a little snack, and then climbed back up the hill back towards the park. While Katie climbed these hills in the past, her head wasn't in the game and she ended up walking most of them.  

Of course it wouldn't be fun riding with the kids and not have an Elliot Cam.  I have to figure out how I can do a Brodie Cam now.  I wonder what he is doing back there.  One thing is for sure he isn't complaining, in fact instead of calling out to slow down all we wants now is to go faster, go faster!  I think what I have to find is a fender to mount on the Trail-a-bike and then figure out some way to mount the camera on that.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Friday Fix: Bridgestone MB-5

First off, you might notice a considerable change in the organizational state of my bike shop, aka my garage, compared to an earlier post!  I spent Tuesday, after work, cleaning it up so I could start working on bikes again.  Fixed the Burley Canopy and the Fixation is back in business.  Now I am waiting for all this wet weather we have been having lately to pass so I can get out and ride it again.

I just finished modifying my Bridgestone Single Speed Commuter.  It's now a fixed gear commuter.  I am now using the wheel from my 'Horse with the cracked cassette body by mounting a 16t TomiCog in the disc rotor mount.

The only thing I am unsure of at this point is what to do with the open cavity where the cassette body would sit.  The logical thing to do is just mount it back on the axle but seeing that I misplaced it in the big mess that was my garage, that's not going to happen now.  I might pull a part off the old Bridgestone wheel that could cover this.
Since the rear wheel isn't machined for cantilever brakes I took off the rear brakes and this will be the first time riding with just one physical brake.  I have ridden this way before, as recent as last Friday when I found that the rear brake on the Raleigh needs to be tightened but this is the first time where there won't even be a lever to pull.  It's a strange feeling not having something to pull on that side of the handle bars.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Check this (Cassette) body out!

Thanks to the good guys over at Brookfield Bike for taking another look at the 'Horse's gearing problem and here is what they found, a cracked cassette body. Holy cow! How the heck could that happen? The only thing I can think of was it could have happened on last year's Turkey Burner when I snapped a link while climbing a hill. I could have had a little chain suck and when I laid on the cranks to climb the hill the chain snapped and my guess all that force on the chain was pulling on the cassette, which was pulling on the cassette body and it all went at once.

So, here's the really butt burner. As you may or may not know Iron Horse is out of business and so far I haven't been able find anyone that carries this part.   A former IH employee ... the guy who spilled the beans that the company was going belly up ... from MTBR,  that the manufacturer of this hub is a German company called Tune.  Turns out, after a little email correspondence it's not their hub.  It seems trying to find a replacement is no futile, and after examining the hub I can't even use my Surly Fixxer on it, the only thing I can do with it at this point is throw a TomiCog on it and use it for fixed gear riding.

June 6th, 2009 Update:

Buddy of mine with the same wheelset had a different problem and had his hub rebuilt.  Came to him bone dry, no grease and it locked up with a little moisture.  The shop said it was Hugi hub.  Sent an email to DT Swiss, who apparently makes or distributes these hubs.  Maybe I can get a replacement?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sooo many bikes and sooo much to do

As you can see my garage is full of bikes and biking gear. After yesterday's ride with the boys I have to do some canopy repairs to the Burley Trailer. I needed a spare tube for the Raleigh and the Blackburn rack, so I caniblized both from the Fuji (next fixie project). Don't have a place for the Raleigh so it's just out and about. in the background of the picture above the Qball and Fetish are sitting side-by-side. Need to fix the rear wheel on the Fetish. Hanging is the 'Horse sans rear wheel that needs to be replaced. I wanted to fix it earlier this weekend but that obviously didn't happen so I was forced to ride the Qball yesterday on some crazy technical trails at Huntingtion. I had envisioned cleaning up the garage today but that isn't going to happen. All I can say is that bikes are fun and riding them is great.

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Chased out by the rain!

After riding with the boys earlier in the day I headed over to Collis P Huntington State Park in Bethel. There was some thunder off to the north but I figured like most storms it would track from west to east and bypass where I was at. Similar to last weekend I tried riding familiar trails but from a different direction and got turned around quite a few times. When the wind picked up and the thunder got louder I knew it was time to head back to the car. Fortunately, I hit a trail that I recognized and headed back to the Dodgingtown lot as fast as I could spin the 34:19 gear. I contemplated heading down Rock and Roll but the big drops of rain splattering on my visor dissuaded that thought. 

When I got to the lot it was raining pretty good. I was all set to go when I remembered that I left my Edge attached to the bike. Now it was raining a little harder. Took the bike down, got the Edge off, bike back on the car and drove off when it really started to pour. On the way home it was raining so hard that I almost had to pull off to the side of the road due to limited visibility. The one good thing out of all this was that the Qball finally got a good washing!

It's all about the snack!

Rode with the boys on Saturday starting from Whitney Avenue in Trumbull and heading north on the Rail Trail.  I had heard that there was a section past the Trumbull town line that was open so I thought I would check it out.  The paving ends and a crushed stone trail starts again at the town line.  Of course it's not the original rail road bed but this by pass eventually leads back to it.   The 12 foot trail of the lower Monroe section abruptly ends at a bridge and a single track trail follows the original road bed till it dumps you out onto a small road a quarter mile south of Purdy Hill.

Too bad I didn't have a map with me because we could have pressed on to the Wolfe Park entrance and ridden the entire Monroe section.  I think what I might have to do is drive down to Tait Road and ride the entire Trumbull, Monroe, and Newtown sections on one trip.  Of course it will have to be a fixed gear ride and probably do it on the Bridgestone.

We took a break at the Stepney Depot.  Of course the highlight of every ride is the snack.  Today, I brough popcorn and gummi fruit snacks.  We stayed in the shade for a while noshing on popcorn and water and then mounted up and headed back south again.  I mounted the camera on the top tube extension of the Trail-a-bike and filmed the ride from the Depot back to the parking lot at Whitney Avenue.  Next time, I need to try and do one of Brodie. 

We pushed on past Whitney and headed south towards Tait road.  Got all the way down there and found that another snap on the cover of the Burley came off and Brodie was covered in sand kicked up by the Trail-a-bike.  I think I need to try and find a fender for the Trail-a-bike.  At Tait road, we had more snack and then headed back to the parking lot.

Here is a profile of the entire trip.  The "V" looking section is truly indicative of riding the actual old railroad bed and all the variation prior is the rerouting of the trail.  It was nearly 11 miles round trip.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Friday Fix: 1975 Raleigh Super Course MKII

Finally got out on the Raleigh for a work commute and all I can say is it was schweet!  This bike is so smooth and 42:15 is the perfect gearing.  There was a bump in front wheel and the brakes were a little squirrly but it pedals nicely and going downhill was a lot of fun.  Guess spin class helps afterall.  I think I am going to replace the front wheel and put on better tires.  The rear brake wasn't really working on the way home but I really only need one brake.

On the way to work, I think I used the brakes two or three times, otherwise I was able to control my decents by reversing the force on the pedals.  On the way home I needed the brakes once on Pond Brook.  One thing I find challenging is after climbing, if the route turns into a decent it's really tough to maintain a controlled speed because my legs are still recovering from the climb.

I thought about selling this bike but I think I am changing my mind.  If I do sell it it will be when I get the Fuji set up.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Upper Gussy RAW

The Fixation is working much better now so I took it out on the Gussy trail and found that it's a really fun bike. I rode the new armoring, straight down the pipe and the bike rolled nicely through all the other terrain features. I was able to mark the bypass for the horses. I posted those pictures over on the Gussy Blog.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

RBW: Unknow Squeak = Walk of Shame

This morning's ride began beautifully. Up at 5:30 AM, geared up and hopped on the Fixation at 6:00 AM, took me longer than usual on account that it was 32 degrees this morning and I needed to put on my snivel gear, too. There was a light fog in the forest giving the impression of eerieness but the crisp, cool air really made it enjoyable to be out and riding a bike in the woods.

Part way up the Poly Brody I heard a squeak, and then another, another, and then my drive train seized! Yikes! Turns out the lock ring had come undone and in my endeavor to retighten my chain this morning I didn't notice that it had unscrewed and was pinned between the cassette hub and the frame.
Fortunately, I was pretty far into the Poly Brody that all I had to do was run up the back side of the hill, which is good training for single speed racing, and then coast/bomb down the fire road on the other side. Walk up Hanover Road and then I was home! On closer inspection it appears I might have to take apart the hub to fix this.
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Mud Fetish

Driving over to Huntington State Park in Bethel early Saturday morning I was listening to the Dead Channel on Sirius when they started playing Shakedown Street. How fitting, my shakedown ride on the Fixation get's a send off by the Dead. There is some schweet single track at Huntington as seen in the picture above and then there is some not so pretty single track evidenced below.

There is a mud wallow on the blue trail and as you can see it's pretty ugly. It's something I plan to fix during a NEMBA Trail Maintenance day but it may have to wait till the winter because this area is thick with poison ivy. What I want to do is find as many flat rocks as possible and armor this section so at least bikes can get through without tearing up what is already pretty torn up.

The Fixation performed really well. I had no mechanicals and the only thing I need to work on is the chain slack. One thing I found and I think I need to play around with the gear(s) is that the underside of the chain splaps the bottom of the chain stay. I think it might be the 18t and the promiximity of the bottom of the cog to the back of the drop. The further out it is, my guess is that you will get more slap because the chain is moving closer to the stay. I will have to try a wrap first.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

RBW: Turkey Season!

Since this is week is supposed to be National Bike to Work week and I woke up late on Tuesday, and the weather man said rain in the afternoon (after all I am just a fair weather bike commuter), and my allergies are wreaking havoc on me ... excuses, excuses; I decided if I am not going to ride to work, I should at least Ride Before Work. Also I wanted to see whether or not what I did the other day to the 'Horse fixed my shifting problem. Thinking it might be the cassette, because it looked like it was wobbling I replaced it.

Rode up the Poly Brody from Hanover and cleaned the entire climb but I had to call upon Granny for assistance so I am not sure if that means anything. I only got half way up it on the Qball last weekend. Forgot to turn the Edge on and while I usually catch this sooner there was no way I was going to ride back down the hill, turn it on, and ride back up. I did that Sunday, but that was because I noticed it at the half way mark.

The up-and-over repairs paid off because despite the problems with the bike the full squish at up the trail and all the little challenges along the way. Didn't really have much time for anything else. I did pick up someone's discarded coffee cup along the way which seemed a little out of the ordinary but then I realized that it must be Spring Turkey Season and then it made sense.

What you are looking at the in the picture above could be a nice little addition to the Gussy. It's nothing really, just a little hummock/hillock but combined with the roller at the Blue Cross might make for a little pump track action.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My new Fetish

Well, not really new but new in this configuration.  The Fixation has seen just about every configuration imagineable, from road bike, to demi-Monster Cross.  In this configuration, also known as a single speed mountain bike, I have a 130mm Manitou Splice as the front fork, combined with 2.4 WTB 2.4 Motoraptors, and the beefy, boxy Fetish Fixation frame makes this basically an all mountain, huckable bike.  With a better fork it could even be used as a jumper.

I decided to use the SIC stem that I have been hanging onto all this time.  I originally purchased this stem when I was looking for a low stack height stem to fit the Surly Instigator fork that I originally purchased for the bike when I was planning on building the first Fixation 69er.  I never used the stem because I found an Avid SAAGO (Stiff As All Get Out) stem that worked better for me.

Can't have a bike without a proper bottle opener and the Surly Tugnut does the trick.  Gearing right now is 32:18 which is perfect for riding around here and besides since I have been riding the Qball at 34:19 I think I can take a few extra gear inches.

Actually, I did try this configuration out for one ride before I put gears on it and made it into a 1x9.  Unfortunately, that ride wasn't at a place where I could really put the bike through some tests and went to gears for a trip up north.  So now, I am going to put it to good, hard use and have fun with it.  Of course, now that it's together I have to figure how to store it in the garage.  This makes 6 fully functional bikes when I really only have room for four!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Yard Sale on the Gussy

Finally got back on the Qball after a two week hiatus from the 15 grueling miles at Winding Trails in 90 degree weather. I don't know what it was but I couldn't get my head in the game and I went OTB at the up-and-over pictured above and a second fly over the bars at the up-and-over pictured below. Following these two events I fixed these two sections and re-rode them successfully. Riding 19t is nice and I am not sure I will go back to anything easier.

3 Generations of Riders

After making the annual pilgrimage up to Cabelas in East Hartford where picked up our fishing boat and got it parked back at home my father and I took the boys over to Monroe to ride the rail trail.  First time out for my father on his Special-Ed Comfort bike.  Really nice ride for this type of riding.  He offered to pull the Brodie in the Burley which left me pulling only Elliot for the first time.

We headed up from the first Pepper Street crossing to the Newtown Town line and then turned around and headed for Wolfe Park.  Along the way, Brodie had to water some bushes when I noticed Elliot had mud splattered on him and I couldn't understand why.  Afterall, I have these great fenders on the 'Goose.  I can think of two things, either I went through a wet area too quickly or my tires are just a wee bit wider than the fender.
We did the usual, ride to Wolfe Park.  Run around at the Jungle Gyms.  Have a snack, use the bathrooms, and then mount up for the ride home.  My father did a great job pulling Brodie and it was nice not having the extra weight from pulling both Elliot and Brodie.

And here is a little video of the ride

Saturday, May 09, 2009

New Roller on the Gussy

I wanted to ride Bennetts Pond Friday after work but Nate, the guy riding with me yesterday felt Bennetts would be too wet so I suggested we hit the Gussy Trail for RAW because it drains pretty well. It was supposed to rain but fortunately it did not. Took Nate on the standard loop and showed him the sights.  Looks like the logging is finished and it's increadible how much they cut down but don't take with them.  I don't mind because they are just skinnys in the offing.

The Upper Gussy Trail is looking really good.  There are probably two spots on the main trail that need a little work and that's it!  Nate and rode the new roller.  There is a nice shot of it on the Upper Gussy Blog.  Met another Newtowner who lives nearby that rides to the trail head from his place does the loop and then rides home.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Got 11 minutes for a Waltz and Bike Porn?

The remainder of the pictures that I took at Winding Trails. Thought I would put into a slide show format and let you listen to a little Strauss. Enjoy!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Riding with the kids on the Middlebury Trolley Trail

The weather this past week has been so wet that I never got any time on the trails. I did however get out with my three kids on the Middlebury Greenway (aka Trolley Trail) in Middlebury, CT. Of all the old rail road lines transformed to rail trails (Greenways) this has got to be the toughest for kids to ride because it's so hilly.

Katie is still getting used to gears. I put a gel seat on her bike and she likes it much better now. I think this is already starting to out grow this bike. I think she will need a bike with 24 inch wheels for this summer. Pretty soon she'll be on a 26" wheeled bike.

An interesting igneous rock sitting along the trail. The kids climbed up and down this for awhile before we tackled the big hill and climb back to the park where we left the car. The highlight of the ride was not the ride for the kids, rather the time spent after the ride frolicking on the jungle gyms at the park.

Middlebury Trolley Trail from Mark on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

I am still not seeing the advantage in Stans

During the pro race at Winding Trails this Single Speeder rolled into the pits, hopped off the bike and started working on his front tire.

After quite some time he gave up and threw a tube into tire. You can tell he was using Stans No Tubes by all the white gunk oozing out of the bottom of the tire. What I don't see is that this guy is till carying two tubes for emergencies anyway, like this one.

Glad to see this guy got rolling again!

A couple of weeks ago I was on a Trail Ambassador Training Ride with CT NEMBA when one of the riders on a nice Voodoo Canzo FS 29er who was rolling with Stans lost his seal. I ended up giving him my spare tube so he could continue, otherwise it would have been the dreaded Walk of Shame back to the parking lot.