Saturday, October 31, 2009

Next time don't forget to charge the light

I went out early Friday morning for a repeat on the Rail Trail in Southbury because I wanted to try and do the whole thing. I got rolling at about 6:10 AM and when I was about 10 minutes into the trail my light went out! It took me a few minutes to adjust my night vision and there was just a hint of dawn I figured it would be easier to continue riding forwards than to throw in the towel and head home. Early on, there was one section that I didn't want to navigate because it's literally a free flowing stream so I went around it using roads.

I didn't make it to the end of the trail so I will have to come back and do it again. The detour around the washout was one factor that slowed me down quite a bit and then there is a section past Towantic Road that is pretty well flooded and I had to pedal slowly through that section. I probably got within a mile of it though but at the 1 hour point, give or take a few minutes I turned around. At least I have something else to shoot for. This time I brought the fender and it made a huge difference. Only the lower part of the bike got really dirty.

I am still on the fence at this point to go to a cross tire. I like the cushion you get with 29x2.1 tire and I doubt I will notice any weight difference. One thing I have to do at some point is replace the headset, not that there is anything wrong with it now but want another Cane Creek S-3 so that I can interchange forks with the Dillinger. Also, the left shifter came loose again and barely held the middle ring.

Still need to find some Cane Creek Drop V levers and cross bars. Who knows, throw on a squishy fork and I might ride this in the VT 50 next year! Though, I would rather have full squish but the only way that will happen is if I sell my 'Horse and get something used and build it up myself. Might be something to consider.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Beware of black puddles!

Took the Qball out for another Monster Cross ride Wednesday morning which turned out to be a shower and mud bath all in one go. It wasn't raining when I left but the forecast said rain was imminent so I decided to risk it. I headed over to Southbury to ride the Larkin State Bridal Trail. This is an old Rail Road bed in which a large section, approximately 10 miles of the roadbed have been converted into a linear park/Bridle Trail. The rail line ran between Danbury, Waterbury and Hartford and was called The Highland Line. I wanted to see what I could ride in an hour.

Of course as soon as got to the parking lot it started to rain and it got progressively worse as time went onl. I should have brought a rear fender but I had hoped, since my seat pack is shaped like one, it would give me some protection. I was mistaken. Some other things I should have considered were rain pants and some lighter gloves, but hey it wasn't raining when I left the house.

I rode out ~36 minutes to the power lines just past the airport and then turned around and came back in about 29 minutes according to my splits. On the way out, I went around this black puddle but I found every time I tried to avoid any kind of water it just slowed me down so on the way back I just plowed through everything, including that black puddle I went around previously. Only it was deep, over the cranks deep! I plowed through it but if there was something on some part of me that was dry it was no longer.

This picture is from Friday's ride

Hawking some Parts

Bike Parts for sale:

FSA SL-280 seatpost, 31.6 x 350 length, 20mm setback, used for 3 rides $20
Ritchey Comp Mountain Post, 27.2mm x 400 mm length, *Sold*
Ritchey Comp Stem, 110 mm, 25.4, *Sold*
Salas Moto, 100 mm, 25.4, $10
New, FSA Mega Exo Crankset with Bottom Bracket, $40
DT Swiss E540 Disc Ready Wheel (used) $40
Raceface 94 bcd, five hole, bash guard $20
Avid 160mm, New, $39

Brooks B66 Saddle $75

Cannondale Coda, Shimano Compatible, Pedals w/cleats $20
Shimano 105 Road BB, Isis, $10
Left Side STI Shifter, $5
Easton, 110mm -6 deg Road Stem, $10
Synchros, New, Inch steerer, Road Stem, $20

All prices are negoitiable. Cash, Paypal, or Trade

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thirsty Thursdays: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst Blue Ribbon, an American beer since 1844 and like many other American beers is a shadow of what it used to be. Still, the beer keeps winning awards at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

For me, it's my go to beer when I don't want something heavy or a complex taste that I can't enjoy while cutting the lawn, fishing, or after a quick ride where I need to remain lucid for the rest of the evening.

When all the micros are emptied it's always great to know that there is still at least 15 or so ice cold PBRs waiting for me in the Beer Fridge. After all, at $15 a 30 pack there is always another 30 waiting in the wings!

I like an ice cold PBR after I take the 'Horse out for a quick hammer in Upper Paugussett State Forest.

PBR is great after a three hour gravel grinder on the Qball.

A PBR is always smooth after a bone shaking, rigid ride on the Dillinger.

PBR is of course the beer of choice for fixed gear riders, the world over!

What is your go to beer?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Using a water bottle to achieve perfect chain tension!

It's unbelievable and almost Zen like but it works! Someone suggested on one my YouTube vids an easier way to achieve perfect chain tension is use a water bottle between the wheel and the seat tube so I tried it and it worked beautifully!

Now I don't have to hang my bike from the ceiling anymore and if I am out and about I can do this in the field rather easily.

I had been waiting for my LBS to get some more KMC yellow chains but their suppliers were all out so when I went in to exchange the red chain that I was going to use when I was going to convert the Dawes Galaxy for blue one for next project the sales clerk pulled out a SRAM PC-1 and I said I'll take that, too. Guess this means I am riding to work on Thursday or Friday, weather depending, of course. I can't tarnish my fair weather commuter status.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Seen on the Street: 48th & Lex

On my way to Longwoods to meet my father for lunch I came across this unknown fixed gear (probably an IRO) with some pretty horny bull horns. It was wrapped it some sort of electrical or rubber tape along the top and down tubes. Nice pair of tug nuts in the rear (horizontal) drops. Velocity Deep-Vs and Armadillo tires. Surprised that the saddle is not secured with a bike chain. Professionally secured to the sign post.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Roxbury Revisited

See more details of the ride on Garmin Connect: Roxbury Revisited.

At the last minute I bagged the Hartford 'Cross Race because I needed to do some work around the house on Sunday afternoon and instead opted to return to lower Litchfield County for another Gravel Grinder. Using and the knowledge from the Tour de Roxbury I laid out a course of 25+ miles that would take me starting in Roxbury, up through Washington, New Milford, Marble Dale, back through Washington, and back down to Roxbury Center.

Figuring out what to wear was a challenge because I didn't want to over dress for fear of over heating and obviously I didn't want to under dress because it was a windy and cold 50 degrees this morning. In fact everything I wore was perfect except for the shoes. I had a Nike running shirt, long sleeve techwick, and a riding jersey, bibs, winter riding gloves, gore tex sock liners and wool riding socks. The only mistake I made was with my shoes. My feet were warm starting out but then there was this stream crossing on one of the singletrack sections that looked shallow but turned out to be really deep and splashing through it soaked my left foot. I probably should have worn my warmer shoes.

Today was a beautiful fall day and the fall foliage was once again worth seeing. On Upper County Road in Roxbury it was windy, so windy that it was bone chilling. I think the one thing that would have really helped for these temperatures would have been a wind vest. Might have to get one with sleeves that can be removed.

The best view is from here on Upper County Road.

Riding through the Moosehorn tract I found this blow down that blocks the red trail completely. A big beech tree broke taking out another tree next to it.

On the the other side of the brook the blue trail opens up into an old cart road. Riding through here on a full susser would be fun but I don't think there is enough trails here to make it worthwhile.

From the singletrack I came out onto route 199 and took this up to Battle Swamp. This road starts out as dirt then is paved and then dirt again. Then I tool a left onto some more single track that drops down to Judds Bridge.

Then it was Judds Bridge to Walker Brook. Walker Brook is great section because it starts out flat and then begins a steady climb up. While on this section I came across a woman wondering where she was and told her the name of the road. Then her husband came up and I showed them were they were on the GPS.

Apparently they walked down South Fen Hill and were looking for a way back without having to turn around and go back the way they came. I told them to head up Walker Brook to West Church Hill but they were would be in for a climb as I found on the Tour de Roxbury. It was kind of weird for people asking for directions who lived nearby but after some chit chat I learned that usually lived in NYC.

Most of the roads in the New Milford/Marble Dale section of the ride were all paved and I stopped here to warm up my left foot. Then it was a big downhill where I got up 34 mph.
Through Steep Rock I jumped on the first section of the rail trail this time and took it through the tunnel and up to the power lines and out to Tunnel Rd. From there it was back to Judds Bridge, 109, 67 and back to Roxbury Center.

I got the most mud from Steep Rock Reservation. The down tube fender helped keep some of the mud off me but it probably should be a little further down. I don't like the new bars on the Qball when it comes to riding singletrack even though they are great every where else. I think I need to try actual cross bars because when I am riding down hill my body position is all off while trying to make sure I have at least one finger on the brakes. The only thing that makes it doable is the 29 inch tires.

Over all the bike was great and the new stem made a big difference. I finally have this bike dialed in. I mounted another GPS with maps on the bars to help with navigation and it was a big help.

Some stats on the ride: ~25 miles in 2 hours 57 minutes and 3800 feet of climbing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Secret Trail of Collis P Huntington State Park

I saw this on the CT NEMBA blog's Feedjit the other day and I had to laugh. There is no secret trail at Huntington SP in Redding. There is a trail that Paula Burton started marking and was going to call it the Chimney Trail, but then some local rapscallions came in last winter and built a trail over and through what she was trying to lay out. I have ridden the trail a few times and it's fraught with problems, like fall line climbs, no benching where benching is desperately needed, and many low spots that have since turned into mud bogs and are now in need of armoring.

So these guys who are probably really skilled riders took it upon themselves to build this Secret Trail without the land manager's approval and now who is going to do maintenance on their trail, or at least go in and fix their mistakes? I would hope the builders would at least try to take some responsibilities for their actions but seeing how they went about doing it, I strongly doubt they will make any attempt. If some other organization goes in there and does the work, I am sure there are going to be changes and reroutes, and if the builders don't like it then they should come out and clean up their mess!

If you want to build trails and you think you have a pretty good idea on how to do so, take a step back for a moment and ask yourself, do you really know what you are undertaking? Please take a trail building course, there are many organizations that put them on: IMBA, NEMBA, and AMC are all organizations with local representation that periodically put these schools on. Unless you own the property I strongly recommend you getting the land owner's approval. Especially if it's the state property like Huntington. Somebody was recently caught trail building in an area on the other side of the state was cited and had to pay a hefty fine. Sure you want to take that risk?

While the Chimney Trail isn't marked it was pretty easy to follow, that is during the summer. Not sure what it will be like with the leaves down because it isn't blazed but the best way to find it is to head south on the Red Trail and look for singletrack going off on an angle after you have reached the highest point on the trail.

Once you are on it be prepared for a technical assault of your abilities. There are steep ups, a few up-and-overs, some rock work, and even a few pussy paths around some really sick, short technical descents. Not to mention mud holes and off camber trails on really steep slopes. The other disappointment is that it's just a linear trail and not a loop.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

We are not Weenies!

The first time I heard that phrase it came from the hottest, blonde, female, US Army Military Intelligence Captain when I was at a Military Show and Tell while a cadet at Ft Lewis in the late 80s. We had just come from a two week field exercise when she appeared and of course every guy in the platoon woke up. Clearly she wasn't done by getting our attention with her looks because she wanted everyone to know that the Military Intelligence Branch were just as tough as the war fighters. Whether or not we believed what she was saying she definitely got our attention for sure. I am not going to admit at this point that I am a weight weenie instead let's just say that I am now weight conscious!

I think when first wrote about my Dillinger I said the plan was get the bike done and start riding it. Lightening it up and getting ready for next year's races comes next, and so it begins. In the 10 Phases of Single Speeding, number 2 on the list is the Weight Weenie:
2. Upgrade madness -- the weight weenie / blinglespeed side takes over and you suddenly develop a need to upgrade. A combination of an empty bank account, an upset significant other or a weight weenie part failure ensues. You have parts shipped to work, so the wife won't see the bike parts you ordered. You start looking for ideas (like the MTBR SS forum) to further your obsession of the perfect SS.
And so begins my adventure into the world of mountain bike weight reduction. First off is a Easton Carbon Fiber Seatpost. It replaces my FSA stem that weighs 12 oz with a seatpost that weighs 6 oz. I might not be much but it's a start.

Next up are Crank Brother Egg Beater pedals. I just got these and found out that they weigh the same is the Candy pedals I thought I would replace them with.

Here is the seat post mounted. It feels pretty good.

Here are the pedals. I am up in the air on whether I am going to keep them on the Dillinger. I am going to try riding with them to see what they are like. I got them off Craiglist for $20.

I found a better mount for the air pump. The previous one was a little too wimpy and I found a few mounts laying around in my spare parts bin so I mounted it. Nice and snug.

The initial build weight of the bike is 27 lbs, heavy by most Singlespeed standards, which I think is largely due to my cranks, FSA Mega-Exo SSer with bashguard, the velocity wheelset that I got with the Qball, tires and tubes. Why tubes? Well I have slime tube in the rear that weighs almost a pound in itself. The WTB 2.3 Exiwolfs and Bontrager Jones 2.2 tire probably weigh a lot more together compared to my WTB velociraptors. So, the idea is to replace everything except the saddle, headset, and frame. Might not get everything done by race day but I will try. Now the bike is 26 lbs 10 oz.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Iron Horse MKIII Comp on Craigslist, price adjusted for reality

You might recall that I found an Iron Horse MKIII on the New Haven Craigslist last month being sold for a ridiculous amount of money and it looks like he didn't get any takers because there is a new add, new pictures and a new price. A price that has been adjusted for reality!

Iron Horse MKIII comp full suspension dw-link trail / mountian bike - $1300 (Hamden)

Date: 2009-10-22, 9:02AM EDT
Reply to: **Removed**

Mint Condition IRON HORSE MKIII COMP with the DW-LINK rear suspension. The frame is an XL (21") with 5” of travel. The bike weighs about 29 pounds. The bike has:
-RockShox Recon 327 Solo Air fork 130mm travel
- RockShox Monarch rear air shock
- SRAM X7 trigger shifters, X7 rear derailleur, and X9 front derailleur
- Avid Juicy 5 hydraulic disc brakes 6"rotors front & rear
-BRAND NEW 2010 Truvativ Firex 3.3 Team crank
- BRAND NEW SRAM PG970 cassette, SRAM PC951 chain with quicklink
-DT Swiss X430 rims with champion 2.0 spokes sealed qr/thru axle hubs
-WTB Weirwolf race folding tires
- Easton EA50 handlebars, stem, and seatpost
-WTB Silverado saddle
-Shimano PD-M540 pedals.
This bike is in great shape, must see it to appreciate it, and it only weighs about 29lbs, incredible for a 5" travel all mountain bike. Paid $2,200 for bike and just had a new drive train installed and this bike was just tuned up at a bike shop. I hate to sell the bike, but it must go to pay for school. Please email me with any questions. $1,300 FIRM!!

On the previous post, a reader commented:
the bike is 1500 brand new never been touched. i wouldnt pay 1000 for his
I have to disagree with the reader, $1300 is the right price for this bike and who ever get's this bike will be getting tremendous bang for the buck! The MKIII is a great trail bike because of that DW Link and that the major reason why I haven't gotten rid of mine for a full susser 29er. Yes, there is the Pivot 429 but that move has been stalled out for now.

The Friday Fix: Marin Stinson Updates

Some updates to the Stinson include Origin 8 Gary Drop bars. I had intended to use these on the Qball for Monster Crossing but found out that my barcons wouldn't fit so I thought I might try them on the Stinson.

I also decided to put my Topeak bar bag on so that when I commuted I would have a place for camera and phone and everything else I need to have right on hand.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Monster Cross Commuter

It was 71 degrees, according to the weather channel when I left the office this afternoon. Started out with a jacket on but quickly shed it. It's always a quandary for me when road riding when it's cool out because when you get going downhill you cool off really fast but up hill the temps rise as you work harder. Still, it was a beautiful New England Fall afternoon.

I did have to stop and tighten the the left shifter. I found that if you actually tightened it enough it clicks into place for each of the gears (hmmm, LBS Mechanic, take note). Once I made that adjustment the ride got a lot better. I did try a bunny hop over a speed bump only to have my bars move a bit down making that metal on metal, fingernail scratching a chalkboard sound.

Riding a bike with essentially balloon tires is nice on the bumpy, back roads that make up my ride to and from work. On the way in, I hit a divot on the dirt road that if I were riding thinner tires I would have pinch flatted for sure. On the way home, another pothole would have taken the tire right out.

The extra cable on the front derailleur was bothering me on the way in because I was wearing baggy APFU pants, these are the best pants to commute in because they have a thick outer cover and a mesh liner inside which makes them super warm. I will take warmth over style any day.

I still want to get a stem riser and I may have to reposition the bars, more downwards for Sunday. The cockpit is perfect and I can climb out of the saddle now.

After the race on Sunday, I am going to try some actual cross tires that I have had laying around for quite some time. Might have to commute more often on the Qball.

Second Ride, better than the first!

The Dillinger felt much better this time around. The night before I did some adjustments to the headset, the front wheel and tightened the EBB to 6.5 nM, according to Chad at Soul Cycles. I started my ride at Silver City and went into the forest and rode the Pond Brook Connector, through the new section that built this past summer, through the boat ramp, a bit on the old Shepaug RR bed and then up Pond Brook (dirt) to Lake George and into the ROW.

The ROW was resplendent with fall foliage, however all those pretty, crunchy leaves made things rather slippery in the steepest of climbs. I am really starting to notice the difference between riding this bike and when I had my Fetish Fixation set up as a 69er. Rolling over stuff is much seems much easier. Also, the aluminum frame is a lot more rigid that the steel Qball and combined with the rigid fork the bike really climbs well.

After the first ride I felt pretty beat up but after this second ride I feel much better. Now, I can't wait to ride it again and a again, and again!

In my move to ride lighter, I went out and got another water bottle mount pump from Topeak.

However, I found that it doesn't stay securely in it's holder and I now hate it. I will have to switch the one from the Qball with this one.