Monday, August 31, 2009

Trumbull to Newtown, Fixed!

I made a minor change to the Stinson this weekend by going back to the Brooks B66 saddle that I got with it. In a sense, the spring loaded saddle in combination with the front squishy forks makes this bike a Full Suspension Fixed Gear (sort of). I decided to test this latest modification on a greenway trail early Sunday morning. With all the rain from the latest Hurricane to past by the East Coast, while out to sea, I figured the mountain biking trails could use a break.

I managed to mount my Thule Rack on my new car, a Toyota Highlander. I wanted to get the hybrid but it was too expensive and could only pull 2000 lbs. My boat weighs at least 3000. My Isuzu Rodeo, after 10 years, was on it's last leg with parts failing and the Hyaundi dealer telling me they didn't make the parts anymore so it was time for a change. When I got the new car I put the Saris rack on it but knew not having a swing away mechanism would be a pain and it was. The rack drops down after you release the pin but it can be bothersome if you are trying to do this everyday, especially in the pouring rain.

I have always wanted to do a round tripper on the Trumbull/Monroe Rail Trail and got that opportunity on Sunday. On a geared bike, mountain or road, it would have been over kill but on a fixed gear, it's perfect. The Stinson performed beautifully although I can't say that I am really all that jazzed about the Brooks Saddle. It looks cool but I can't find the right position for it where it's comfortable for me. Still it was smooth ride. The front fork smoothed out many of the rough patches and washouts along the trail. There is even a bit of single track, so I guess I can claim this to be another adventure in off road fixed gear riding.

From Tait Road to the Monroe/Trumbull line is was 9.5 miles so when I got back to the car I was just shy of 20 miles but I still had another half hour to kill before I had to leave for New Haven to buy and sell some bike parks, so I did another pedal up to Whitney Avenue and back for another 6 miles, to make the whole trip 25 miles. Very few cyclists on the trail early in the morning but later, on the way back, there were alot more riding mostly comfort or mountain bikes. Even saw some mountain bikers heading out to Indian Ledges from the lot at Whitney Avenue and while I wanted to chastise them because I new those trails would be really soft after the pounding we got on Saturday I held my tongue. Thinking about it now, I should have stopped and asked them when was the last time they did some trail maintenance.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

RBW: Taking a Muligan

Sorry, no good MTB porn on this post. I took video using the helmet cam riding down the Mulikin Trail but it was too dark. I might try to edit the brightness settings and see if I can splice it together. Thought I was doing the same on the Gussy but forgot to turn the camera on - doh! Might ride it again tomorrow morning and take another Muligan.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

RBW: Getting Dark out there!

Sixty degrees and dark now at 6:00 AM. Riding with lightsbut only need it for the first 30 minutes of the ride. Second week of riding before work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Did another loop in Upper Paugussett and really hammered the Gussy Trail this morning.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Riding Fixed with clipless pedals and Crocks

After working on the Gussy Trail all morning and getting in a 5 mile ride afterwards, I still had time to take my daughter for a ride on the Trumbull Rail Trail before we had to be at her Grandmother's for dinner. I grabbed the Stinson and Katie's used new bike, a Giant with antler like bar ends, and headed down to Trumbull. Parking at Whitney Ave, I realized that I forgot my riding shoes, so I had to ride with my Crocks on. The soft foam of the material actually was nice on the Crank Brother Candy and made it easy to pedal.

Got down to Tait's Mill in 15 minutes and stopped for a snack.

And some pictures

We took a few water breaks on the way back

And here is a little video of Katie in action:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

1985 Centurion Sport DLX

Another Old Crappy 10 Speed and my next project is a 1985 Centurion Sport DLX. It has some rust here and there and the drop bars have duct tape holding padding to it - this bikes looks like it got a lot of use.

According to Sheldon's website, the Sport DLX was made between 1976 and 1985. It has Dia-compe, side pull brakes and Sugino cranks.

Looks like the bike belonged to Pete at one time. Well Pete when I am done with this bike, you won't recognize it.

Nice metalic pie plate and SunTour Seven rear derailleur. Frame has some rust so this might be my first rattle can experiment.

Friday, August 21, 2009

RBW: Time for a new chain?

Another Ride Before Work. Got up at 5:30 AM and realized that really meant Oh Dark Thirty now so I futzed around getting my head light hooked up to my helmet and lost about 20 minutes which barring a little mechanical later in the ride I would have completed the ride that I wanted to do. Instead, I had to cut it short and by pass another trip down the Gussy. My intention Thursday morning was to do Upper Paugussett, then the Dingle Brook trails at Brookfield Openspace and then back to Upper Paugussett.
By the time I got out, the head light probably wasn't necessary but it was still comforting to have, especially while riding on some of the back roads that I was on because people in cars tend to drive a little too fast for these one lane roads. While riding up Pond Brook, the light definitely helped because some guy in a pickup was flying down the road but slowed when he saw the light.

I haven't been on Lake George for quite some time and there are some interesting changes. There are two by passes to get around one particular difficult section in the trail but the new one was merely a drainage ditch. It looked like a trail and might have been one until it stopped and was choked by barrberries. Looks like an ATV is coming back there becasue of the tracks, either that or it's just Tom's tractor.

I almost got attached by a dog while riding down the trail towards Dingle Brook. He came from someone's house that borders the open space. I tried to make friends with him and he sniffed my hand but it must have been my headlight that was pissing him off because he continued to bark at me. Finally the dog's owner caught up to him and reigned him in.

Down at Dingle Brook is when disaster struck. My chain popped as I started to climb and then seconds later it came apart. So I fixed it with a another masterlink.

After the chain repair, I new I wasn't going to make it back to Upper Pauggussett so I headed home after climbing out of the Dingle Brook valley.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursty Thursdays: Lighthouse Ale

It tastes like Sammy's Lite, it's brewed and bottled and in Saratoga, and it costs $13.99 a six pack on Fire Island. It's produced by The Fire Island Beer Company and the significance of the dear is that there is a huge population of deer that live on the island. In fact, while surf casting early Sunday morning, this doe came prancing down the beach past me.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

RBW: Pea Schoup

I have been so consumed with work, the kids, and bike builds that I realized I hadn't been in the woods in over ten days. So I got some this morning; trail riding at Upper Paugussett and on one of my favorite bikes, the Iron Horse MKIII. Leaving the house, the fog was thick as pea soup but the moisture in the air made it ideal riding conditions. I have decided that my new standard loop is what you see in the map above which includes dirt roads, a little section of hard ball (asphalt), some forest roads, and the Upper Gussy Trail.

The Poly Brody forest road had a particular eerie feeling on it in the foggy conditions. Looks like there has been some more tree cutting in the areas that were logged out this spring. The trap rock that was laid down for the logging trucks is particularly bothersome. Now I understand why the Equestriennes aren't a fan of the forest road on the other side of the hill. I wonder what they think of this improved section? Personally, I think it stinks.

Looking at the start of the Mulikin Trail, just as eerie. It's like entering a foreboading realm in which something is lurking just beyond your periferal vision waiting to jump out of you. Good thing this is not East Hampton, CT, otherwise I would be really nervous! Just the thought of it made me turn white with fear (see picture below).

The Mulikin trail needs some cutting back. Just haven't had time to do anything because I have been so consumed with the Gussy Trail.

The run down to Pond Brook looks like it's getting a lot of traffic and the treadway is holding nicely.

Went down to the bypass I am building on the Pond Brook Connector to see if anyone decided to ignore my impromptu trail closure obstructions. The were no knobby tracks but there were hoof prints through there. Guess I now need to make it more obvious for our equestriennes friends.

This spot (below) just before third stream crossing, if you were headed north on the Gussy, needs to be rerouted again because it's just too wet here. I am going to have to bring the trail back up the incline, and bench, then run back down into the by pass. All-in-all it will actually break up this part of the trail and make it a lot more sustainable.

Sunrise at the big vernal pool, well it's not really one, it's actually a pond undergoing eutrophication. The farmers probably used it to water their sheep back in the day.

Fire Island - Adult Trikes

There were quite a few trikes on the Island but none as good looking at the one below. Obviously they are more suited for carrying than your common beach cruiser, in fact I saw one mounted with a trailer, and another that finally exceeded it's ability to function and was being used to hold flower pots.
Here is the state of the art Island Dweller cycling machine. This is a Miami-Sun Adult Trike with custom aero wheels and Kenda Flame 3 inch wide tires. The trike retails any where from the 3 to 5 hundy but these custom wheels must have pushed it to more six hundred bones!

That saddle is made for a W-I-D-E load and that is probably why it's called the Miami-Sun. I recall finding a post card of a very rubinesce woman lying on the beach suggesting that I come to Florida because the food was great. The makers of this bike definitely had her in mind.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Soooo many rusty bikes - that still work!

Spent the weekend with my family at my Sister-in-law's summer place on Fire Island. Getting off the boat, I was amazed at all the small, rectalinear streets (paths), that only support bikes! There were bikes everywhere! It was like Vauban, Germany, a community devoid of cars. The majority of the bikes ridden were beach cruisers, a fitting choice given the environment, followed by three wheelers due to their cargo carrying ability, and then a smattering of Old Crappy Ten Speeds, BMX bikes, and even a few mountain bikes. I was surprised being in such proximity to NYC and there were no fixed gears.

Bikes on Fire Island seem to serve the purpose of transportation. They get the habitants of the island to the beach, to the store, and to the docks. Most have baskets obviously for those trips to the store. And what is amazing is to see so many bikes in such horrible condition yet still functional. The salty air tends to corrode anything metalic and by the look at most of the chains from the bikes that reside on the island full time they haven't seen a drop of oil for years.

Never away any sort police activity during my stay and it seemed like this sign wasn't likely obeyed because when I rode down to store at six o'clock in the morning there were still bikes locked up here in front of the General Store. Below is the bike rack in front of the grocery store serving this community, Dunnewood. This was a busy place.

First time for me riding helmetless and for that matter in flip flops. Probably one barrier to having better bikes out here, especially if you just came for the weekend is that the passenger ferries don't allow bikes. They have come over on a separate boat, the cargo boat. Still, if I ever get a Surly Pugsley, I'd love to come back and ride the entire length of the island on sand!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Yvonne the Transsexual Craigslist Scamer

I got this email in my inbox the other day and I can't believe that someone actually would have the audacity to write such a note. Do you think people really fall for these scams in this day and age?

Do you really think Yvonne is a good guy? Of course, he would never do anything to harm anyone, except steal your money.

I didn't bother responding. I did, however, respond to Louie's note below. I figure he was just busting my balls but I countered with an offer that I felt what the bike was really worth.

According to the New York Times City Room Blog, Spokes Edition, another classification of Old Crappy Ten Speeds is the Beater Bike. According to the post, refurbished Ten speeds run between $200 and $300. I contacted Patrick Tomeny, manager of the East Village shop of the nonprofit Recycle-a-Bicycle, who I rode with last summer at Trumbull during the first annual (and last) East Coast Fetish Cycles Fest, about what he thought what the base price for Fixed Gear Conversions and his response was $350 which is largely due to replacing the existing wheelset with a Track Wheelset. That is the key to figuring what to price the bike at, what do you replace when refurbishing the bike and the quality of the components.

The Market for fixed gear conversions right now seems to be running between $300 and $400. I guess if averaged these prices you could say the "Fixie-dex" to borrow (and chop) BikeSnobNYC's Pistadex, here in CT is around $345 according to yesterday's Craiglist offerings. With the exception of the last highlighted offering, all these bikes are converts. Some are pretty good and others are, meh. Those fitting into the latter category are over priced, along with my Fuji, I admit but it doesn't hurt to test the market.

So, based on this analysis, you be the judge on whether the following bikes are worth their asking prices.

While this bike looks good I smell a rattle can paint job. Some decent parts and it sounds like the second set of bars will be thrown in but I think this bike is over priced by $100.

This bike, looks like another rattle can paint job, but if it really has a few coats of Polly, then that's a plus. My guess on the component mix is that that Cranks, brakes, and wheel are new and everything else is original. Still, I would say this bike should be priced at $400.

There are a few detractors on this Raleigh, besides the color, as well as some misleading components. The Brooks Saddle is really their racer saddle and not like the hard leather saddles everyone knows and loves. You can remove the outer chain ring on those old Raleighs so that it looks cleaner. On the plus side, nice rear wheel, but a down side at least for me is no brake. Given the mix of pluses and minuses, $300 is probably the right price.

This Shogun looks fantastic and I think you could get more for it, especially if the owner threw on some bullhorns and TT levers.

Good component mix on this bike and with the exception of the lousy pictures, seems rightly priced.

Of course, the true measure of the Fixie-dex is what the bikes actually sell for and in order to get that I would need to do a empirical analysis on the actual sales prices. Using my own score card based on my past bike sales my Fixie-dex comes in at $260. Thus, my Back to School Special is a bit overpriced and that can also be seen by the lack of responses.