Friday, July 31, 2009

The Friday Fix: My Favorite Fixed Gear Commuter

Finally had some good lighting to take some pictures of the Stinson. I can't get over how smooth this bike rides and can't wait to ride it again. The only thing I am going to add to it is fenders.

I also have to loose the red bottle cage, just have to stop by the LBS and get a yellow one.

The FUBars are back and really fit well with the bike.

48:17, not quite a 3:1 ratio but pretty close and according to Sheldon, that's 77 gear inches! Compared to the Bridgestone (42:16) which was 68 gear inches, I can definitely tell the difference.

At first I thought the Brooks was a little hard but my butt is now getting used to it. It looks really nice on the bike.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Will a 30% off coupon buy back my loyalty?

A couple of months ago my credit card company called me about some strange charges on my credit card. I am sure they have all my purchases categorized, scored and modeled and knew right away that I probably didn't make these charges. I assumed my card got compromised when I ordered race pictures from The Credit Card company said no problem, they will block the charges and issue me a new card.

A couple of weeks ago I came across a thread on MTBR, titled Nashbar Credit Card Fraud, talking about how Bike Nashbar had their systems compromised and how a lot of the credit card information got stolen. After reading this I realized that it wasn't Snapfish, it was really Nashbar! My last charge was in January and the pieces all of a sudden came together.

After reading about the issue, and this was on the heels of making another purchase from them, I sent them a note expressing my displeasure in this situation and whether I would continue to be a customer. I got a response that they will be sending me a letter addressing the issue.

Nashbar Direct, Inc. ("Nashbar") takes the privacy of its customers very seriously. We regret to inform you that our previous website servers were recently the subject of an illegal attach that allowed unknown persons to obtain the names, addresses, email addresses, web account passowrd, and credit or debit card information of some of our valued customers, even though such information was encrypted ...
Now, what I would like to know is whether or not I would have gotten this letter if I had not sent my note into their customer service. Since they say some of our valued customers leads me to believe that they have no clue on the extent of the penetration, this also comes from reading the thread on MTBR, too. They go on to say that my identity is safe because they don't have my social security number.

Included in the letter was a FAQ and the one that seems most poignant is:

2. When did this happen?

While the attack was confirmed on May 18, 2009, it appears that the unauthorized access began in December 2008. We began received a small number of customer complaints about unauthorized charges in mid-February 2009. The outside vendor who hosted our website informed us that it could find no evidence that a breach had occurred, but we were concerned about the security of our customers' information. We shut down the compromised website environment on March 3, 2009 ...
So, Nashbar new there was a problem mid-February and it took them three weeks to shut the site down. Nice! You would think in this day and age, with the rampant spread of credit card fraud that this would have been a tell tale sign they had a problem and shut down this site upon the first notification. But they didn't because they probably doubted the claims at first. Apparently, Nashbar also shares your credit card information with third parties for marketing purposes, which means, although I am sure that they would never admit to it that it could have been an inside job.

At the bottom of the letter they tell me that they value me as a cutomer and are offering me a 30% discount on my next purchase (within a certain period of time, of course). This translates to 30 cents on the dollar to bring me back as a customer but that seems to me kind of cheap. Maybe if I spent a lot more money there I would have gotten a bigger offer. Never-the-less, I will definitely use the coupon but I will probably think twice about ordering from them in the future.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NBMC: Morning Eye Opener

Another successful ride of the Newtown Mountain Biking Collective (NMBC). I met Rick in front of his house at ten after six (he lives up the road from me) and we drove over to Collis P Huntington State Park. Wheels were in the dirt by 6:45 AM. We hit the Big Burn and then went out on some unmarked single track until we picked up the blue trail and then kept heading to the left. From there we did a section of the Lollipop trail and then hit the other two sections of the Big Burn, one of which includes the Roller.

Below is a map of Sunday's and Tuesday's tracks. I would contend that the west side of the park has way more singletrack than the other areas.

Here is a little video comprised of Rick's new Flip Video and my own camera. Music is from Rick's band.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Dream Commuter

Saw this beautiful Van Dessel Country Road Bob across from Grand Central on Friday. This is one sweet bike that is super light and super sexy. I would consider it the Green M&M of Singlespeed Commuters.

Not sure I like the cyclcross drop bars, I would prefer bull horns with TT levers, but the yellow tape makes this bike look really sweet.

Disc brakes and the option to go fixed rocks!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday Slippery Services

I had intended on hitting the trail much sooner but since I wasn't meeting anyone I got lazy and liesurely left the house around 8 AM in stead of the 6:45 AM departure I had originally planned. Wasn't sure how last night's rain was going to slick things and slippery they were. Basically all the hard surfaces (Rocks) were glazed over with New England Rock Sweat which makes riding just a bit more precarious.

I found this box turtle on the Blue Trail towards South Pond. After a few cameo shots I moved him out of the way and kept going. After hitting a section of the Big Burn I circled back on the Lollipop Trail for a second helping of single track and noticed an interesting hippy stack. The Qball rides really nice with the Brooks B66 saddle. It's like having a shock post, only springs are kind of loud.

Close up of the hippy stack.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Commuter Bikes in the Park City

Had to go to NYC for work on Friday and decided to try commuting from Bridgeport, CT (aka The Park City). Door to Door it's two hours max but can be less and there is a plethora of trains between Bridgeport and NYC. As opposed to Danbury, there are four trains in and five trains back, and door to door is two and half hours +. Travel time between Brideport and Grand Central Terminal varies between an hour and ten to an hour in thirty. Not to mention, I needed to be Hamden after work for a party. Probably do this more often, and if I plan it right I might be able to hit Trumbull for a little riding on my way home.

I was pleasantly surprised to see some commuter bikes locked up at the bike rack by the station but the quality of bike is typical for the area. Lots of cheapo, big box store, faux mountain bike styles. Alothough most of these appear to be cheapo bikes some finer details stick out that tell me that the riders use them often for commuting probably more often than not. Take the Diamond Back Topanga below. If you look closely, the rider of this bike has his (or her) fecal matter in order. Some details stand out like NYC style lockup, fenders, and looks like an upgraded drive train.

This Raleigh Sprite is impressive in it's own right because it's a mid-1970s touring bike and judging from some of the components I think it might be a model DL95 (ten speed) but it doesn't look like it hails from '76 or '77 according Sheldon's page on Retro Raleighs because of the color. I just love those classic aluminum pie plates and the pinned 160 mm cranks. If it was a later model it should have also had a Brooks Saddle and all the Sprites had fenders.

Although this Schwin, below, isn't what I would consider a quality bike, the rider appears to be a seasoned bike commuter due to presence of fenders. I think anyone who goes to the extent of adding fenders to a bike is someone who depends on this bike to get him (or her) to where they need to be in all conditions.

Of course, if anyone rode fixed gear as a commuter west of the Housitonic, then I would be really impressed but so far, I think I might be the only one.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gunshy on the Gussy

Weather report looked like crap for later on Thursday and since I didn't spin on Wednesday I decided to take a ride on the Gussy Trail before work. The night before I added another link to my chain in order to move the wheel back because I felt that the Bontrager Jones 2.2s were awfully close to the chain stays. While I was riding up Tamarack Rd I realized that my seatpost was still too low so I stopped and raised it another inch - wow! What difference that made.

Felt good to be padaling the Qball again. The Gussy trail is looking really nice and looks like it's getting a lot of traffic. One thing I noticed was that a lot of the horse poop had been removed the trail. Who ever did that, I thank you! Did a few adjustments on the various up and overs but otherwise I tried to get through there as fast possilbe.

I did walk a few places that I normally ride up. I just wasn't thinking when I hit them and couldn't finish it. I am still digging the Brooks Saddle, only the creaking sounds like a couple of hippies balling on a bed with rusty springs.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Snack in the Dacks: A Little Pedal with the Kids

We had no idea about where we would be staying and what type of riding we might be able to do around Schroon Lake but brought the bikes any way. In fact, not only did I bring the bikes for the kids that we use for Greenway riding, but I also brought Elliot and Brodie's training wheeled bikes. Unfortunately the small lane in which the rental house was on was dirt and the driveway to the house was too steep for the boys to ride on.

We did take a little pedal down Route 9 for a total of two miles. The road had shoulders that were practically the size of another road. Speed limit on Route 9 is 55 mph so we hung to the far right of the shoulder.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Snack in the Dacks: Lil' Perch

No lakers today but I did catch this Perch trolling. I think it was
swimming along side the lure and then got caught on the hook. At
least I am not skunked today!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Snack in the Dacks: Lake Trout

Cycle Snack is vacationing in the Adirondacks, namely Schroon Lake. Schroon is pronounced like Screwn, which sounds kind of funny if you ask me.

Got up at oh dark thirty and hit the lake for some down rigged trolling. Fishing for Salmon and caught Lake Trout.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ten Mile fat burner

My trip north got postponed a day on account of the kids getting sick so I went out noon for a 10 mile fat burner on the Qball. I am not sure what it is, but I think the tires are giving me a lot of rolling resistance (2.3 Exiwolf & 2.2 Bontrager Jones) that I think I might switch to my 2.1 motoraptors. Also, the rear brake was sticking, this happened two years ago, so I think I am going to give the Qball a little overhaul.

Trail Gnomes have been busy. The downed tree has a nice rock tranny on both sides now. Trail rides really nice but there are a few problem areas that still have to be addressed.

Busy day at Upper Paugussett State Forest. I haven't seen the lot off of Echo Valley this filled since I had my trail building class here. I ran into two groups of hikers and a group of mountain bikers on the Trailway. Took the Mulikin Trail to see how it's holding up and it is starting to get overgrown. Two runs down the Gussy and some ancillary trails, including some knobbies on hardball riding and you get a 10 mile ride.

Interesting little occurrence here, seems some blow downs dragged a branch with them creating a little tunnel, or bridge. Lots of horse dutie on the Gussy, too, but hey that's what you get with a shared use trail.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Friday Fix: Let's try this again

On my way home yesterday I stopped off at the Goodie Shop and asked what I should do about my bottom bracket. Linda, the shop owner, loaned me a BB tool to use with my own because she said that it was mostlikely not threaded into the BB, rather itself. Therefore, to really get it tight you need to come at from both sides. To do that required taking off both cranks. Good thing I did that too because I discovered that all the chain ring bolts were loose, too. Got everything tightened up and put it all back together. Added a Garmin Edge mount to the stem.

This morning was a cool 52 degrees (this is summer?) and there was a light fog when I took off at 7 AM. The bike felt really good. The first test would come on the first climb on Pond Brook Road. It's dirt and pretty bumpy. Coming down from the first hill I lost alignment in the rear wheel. No problems this go around and with that boost of confidence I just started to hammer. There was one sound that was giving me concern, which was a slight creak. Sounded like it might be coming from either the chain or the cranks, and then I figured out that it was actually the seat rails and how they are sitting on the seatpost.

Rode the 9.5 miles to work in 42 minutes. I think that is the fastest time for me riding a single speed, fixed or freewheel! It's that 48:17 ratio. On the way home, I detoured over to the Goodie shop to drop off the tool and still got home, riding an extra mile in 46 minutes. I checked everything again and it was all tight.

Miller Time: The Champagne of Mountain Biking in CT

Picture of yours truly doing a little roller

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Miller Time

After missing the last member's ride at Wadsworth SP I made sure that I wasn't going to miss this one. You may notice that the map below has a pretty detailed track, something that my GPSMAP60 could not produce and I would never display someone's GPX file, that to me seems unoriginal. No, the map below was made with my new Garmin Edge! It's a 205 that I got through some biking connections. Only, I had to ride with it in my pack because when I had the cyclocomputer installed last week, they took off my Edge mount. In comparison to the cyclocomputer, they were pretty much complimentary of one another in terms of measuring distance.

I posted the ride on and I wasn't really expecting it but the famous (or infamous) trail builder of Miller's Pond State Park, the Pukemaster (aka Jon Peterson, pictured below) of decided he would give us the XC Weenie tour of the place. Of course last month's wet weather has impacted Miller's Pond as well and we would not get to ride the new XC Trail.

Also leading our merry band of Trail Ambassadors (Glenn, Paula, and myself) was Jon's girlfriend, Diana, both by the way are sick, sick freeriders. I felt extremely unworthy amongst these two demi-gods of the CT Mountain Biking scene and most fortunate that they were willing to go out of their way to give us this tour. Also pictured here is Glenn Vernes, CT NEMBA's Treasurer and recent convert to the 29er club who was riding his rigid, singlespeed, Redline 29er. Now that takes balls in a place like this.

This place is full of stunts, most of which have been engineered, and I say engineered, by Jon. Take for example, this one called the Dragon's Spine.

Rock spine with a Skinny connector with line to roll (right of the drop) or just drop it, and to finish, a log skinny up-and-over. Need to think about that for the Upper Gussy Trail!

And then there is the Ten Commandments. The slab of rock you see acting as a ramp was moved Egyptian Style 30 feet from the rock jumble above using a come-along and log rollers, finally coming to a rest in this position. You can ride it in either direction.

Jon makes it look so simple riding these stunts.


Of course, these days it wouldn't be typical for an afternoon with the threat of a thunder shower.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fixed Gear Commuting with Marin Stinson

Except for a few minor distractions like the bottom bracket coming loose and not having enough chain tension the new commuter rides like a dream. On the way to work I stopped a few times to hand tighten the bottom bracket, and had to do that coming home as well. Also lost chain tension, once going to work and again coming back. Probably get rid of the aluminum nuts and get steel. The 48:17 ratio makes for slower climbs but awesome power in the flats and downhills. Also had to readjust the bars a few times but the FUBars are excellent.

A few changes might be necessary: the stem; the seatpost; the saddle. I love the look of the Brooks but it's hard on the glutes. The stem is a little too happy (to see you) which means I am riding more upright, like a comfort bike. I might try something with a shallower or no angle at all. I will have to see if that makes a difference to the cockpit or do I need to use a setback seatpost. I might even try the B66 again.

Here is a little demonstration and commentary of on the road adjustments.