Friday, December 31, 2010

Insanely Great Snow at Fairfield Hills

Met up with some friends whom I know through mountain biking and rather than trying to ride in the snow we went Cross Country Skiing at Newtown's Fairfield Hills Campus, which happens to be a former mental hospital that the Town took over after it's closure.  There were some tracks already made that we used and we busted some of our own.  The Green Trail up by the water tanks was awesome because quite a few people had already been through there.

We met at the cul-de-sac at the end of Cochran St took off skiing through all the fields counter clockwise with the intention of heading up towards the water tanks.  Since the Town Trail was plowed we skied through the woods on both sides of the trail and actually found an old trail that paralleled the town trail near the top of the hill.

There is a trail marked with Green Blazes that goes to the end of the ridge and then circles back.  I think this trail is a horse trail or used by horses.  It comes back to the water tanks and then it appears to fork and head down the hill towards Wasserman Way.  There were three different markings on this trail including more green blazes spray paint blazes, orange engineer tape, and reflector tabs (but not enough for mountain biking at night if that is what you are thinking).  We followed this trail till we hit the fields and then headed back up towards the tanks.

Getting back to the car the first thing I checked was my GPS to see how far we had gone but found that it had turned off.  I was pissed!  I knew I should have brought my Garmin Edge.  I am going to have to go back and redo what we skied with the Garmin to see how far it is.  Also, the next time we get a big dumping of snow, I am definitely coming back here to cross country ski!

Here is the approximate route we took.  I used MapMyRide to map it out.  There are, however, two road crossings and you also have to cross over the paved trail heading up to the water tanks.  In order to minimize the road crossings it will cut out some of the big fields that are fun to ski through.  I hope, at some point in the future to create a marked XC Ski course here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Green Addiction: Grün ist Geil!

Photo Courtesy of
After the pounding we took here in Western Connecticut earlier this week my riding plans for the week that I have off were literally blown away.  However, a buddy of mine who lives in Eastern Connecticut offered to sell me his Velocity Blunts so I drove to Old Lyme to pick up the new wheelset and to try the front wheel out.  Turns out the eastern part of Connecticut got much less snow than we did in the western part of the state and seeing that this is probably my last opportunity to ride in 2010 I was pedal to the metal!  What I didn't expect was how close the color of the rim would match the Dillinger.

Snow depths ranged from three to six inches of snow, some places were deeper due to drifting, but what made riding the hardest was transitioning between where people walked and the loose powder.  Still, it was a lot of fun and a great workout.  Thom and I met another mountain biker out on the trails, John W., but he was having a hard time pedaling and was walking more than riding.

This was also the first time riding with my new HD video camera, the Drift Inovation's HD 170.  I shot some ski vids the other day with it but I was out of power on Monday and couldn't edit any.  The files, however, are huge!  Above is an edited (shortened) clip that I loaded to YouTube.  It turns this unit takes DVD quality videos at a resolution of 1280 x 720, and that's just the medium setting!  The data file has a lot of overhead data in it, like stereo sound, and it's uncompressed, that I found from talking to Thom, if it were compressed it would be a much smaller file.  The other thing I need to ensure is that my helmet is on my head really tight.

We started riding around 3:45 pm and as you can see the sun was starting to go down but there was plenty of light for riding.  Still, it was really cold with the wind.  Initially, I was going to ride with my CT NEMBA Trail Ambassador Jacket, however, the wind was so strong I felt that wasn't going to keep my warm enough, so opted for a polar fleece North Face jacket that also acts as a zip in for another jacket.  I got pretty hot in the jacket but was able to vent most of the heat through a combination of zip pits and the main zipper.  I also had on Bib tights, and over pants.  That was a bit of overkill but combined with my lobsters, skull cap, and winter riding booties I never got cold.

Thom at the start of the Ridge Ride

Here is a slightly shorter clip of riding down the ridge towards the Pavilion at Rocky Neck State Park.  It's a really cool descent there are many rollers and rocks to roll and huck.  Of course I took it easy because of the conditions but looking forward to coming back here again when all the snow is gone.

Giant's Neck

We rode the board walk along the beach over to Giant's Neck where I will be renting a house this summer with my family.  Looks like I will be hitting Rocky Neck every morning and then doing the bike trails with my boys and daughter in the afternoons, besides lounging on the beach and building sand castles.
Photo courtesy of
We tried to find the house that I will be renting but had the wrong address.  Thom took this picture of me and you can see the camera atop my helmet.  I originally tried mounting it on the side of the helmet but it was too heavy.  Whereas with my skiing helmet, the fit is more snug and I barely noticed it there. On the Mountain Bike helmet, however, it doesn't fit as snug and I could feel it pulling to one side.

Sunset at Giant's Neck

For these kinds of conditions, the Qball would have been perfect but it's still in the process of getting rebuilt.  The Dillinger performed beautifully in the snow.  Climbed just about everything and got a tremendously good workout!  Of course the snow softened a lot of the trail and the new wheel performed beautifully.  I might have to consider some Orange Blunts for the Qball.  Below is a little 3D map of the single track riding area of  Rocky Neck.  It's not a huge place but according to Thom there are many more trails in there to ride.  I am going to try to get back here in the spring to try them all and to familiarize myself with the area better so that when I am spending my week here, I know exactly where to find the goods.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


I think I found the perfect Monster Cross (MCX) bar with all the fun of drop bars but made for mountain levers.  They are Misfit Pyscles Fme bars and I got a great deal on them during a black Friday sale last month:
A cyclo-style dirt drop bar for off-road use.  The FME was NOT designed for use as an exclusively roadie type bar.  Despite the flaming skull, you will still look ridiculous in spanx.  

The FME was NOT designed for use as a pure CX bar.  The purpose of this bar is to run DISC brakes, the worms at CX HQ do not like disc brakes.  They would also rather it if all CX competitors pedalled using only components of French origin...and we believe fries make for terribly limp cranks.

The FME was NOT designed for use as a pure XC bar.  While testing was completed as a primarily XC bar it was done so in the interest of science and morbid curiosity.  By our obvious calculations a bar with such extreme angles offering such a large amount of leverage would not only be uncomfortable for exclusively XC use it would likely have a reduced useable life...meaning what?  Not sure, lawyers for someone else made them say something so we did too.

I still plan on using the Qball as an MCXer because it's also my kid puller so these bars are perfect.  In fact, next month, I will be picking up another wheel set for rail trails and commutes but with these bars I will have the shifters and lever all in one place which will make riding off road a lot better.  Also, I think I will get better positioning, too.

I have new grips and matching cables that will give me a Halloween effect with the colors but I think it will look awesome.  That is going to me my project this week.

The Grinch pays a visit!

A quick Christmas Eve ride with Rick at Upper Paugussett State Forest, perfect lighting and temps.  We headed out on the Poly Brody and I was feeling really good after yesterday's ride at Pequonnock River Valley.  Temperatures are still below 32 degrees but still no snow.  Ice over the forest road in one section still makes it sketchy but we got off our bikes and walked around it.  I attacked the big hill and went right up it.  At the Gussy trail head we stopped for break.

Perfect day and time to be riding.  The days will start getting longer and longer which means more afternoon rides.  Rick took off leading the way and every pedal stroke just felt better and better.  I did struggle up the rock ridge but I shrugged it off and we started moving quicker.  Hit the two up-and-overs going into funnel with ease.

Hit the up-and-over coming out of the funnel nicely and then into the quick technical descent as I always do, only this time a little faster and at the bottom I discovered a new hole, or rock or both because I stopped short, went over the bars but rolled into it with practiced ease.  Picked up the bike and started to move forward but felt something rubbing the wheels.  Thinking it might be a stick but couldn't find anything and then I noticed my front wheel!  Taco'd.  Merry effing Christmas.  Tried to flatten it out so I could at least ride out but that didn't work.

I told Rick to finish his ride and that I would hoof it out.  I told him to meet me on Hanover Road but I figured I would be halfway home before we met up again.  I bushwhacked over to the blue trail and took that down to the Brody and onto Hanover Rd.  Someone driving a pickup stopped and asked if I needed a lift but I told him I lived nearby.  I met up with Rick just past Bramble Trail.  

Well the great ride Christmas Eve ride ended with a little visit from the Grinch.  Oh well, good thing I have another wheelset to fall back on!

Merry effing Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pequonnock Monster Cross

I knew the Pequonnock River Valley would be excellent Monster Cross terrain and I had a most awesome ride today.  Granted, it was a little cold and snow squalls from time to time but nothing really sticking.  Trails were really good and dry.  A few frost heaves here and there but otherwise perfect.  Riding the Qball was excellent, the all steel frame absorbed the vibrations of the rough trail running the 2.3 x 2.25 tire combination and the steel frame did the rest.  It's funny, after almost six years of riding this bike and over 1000 miles the best ride comes in the configuration when I first started out.  Granted, I must admit that back then I didn't know the difference but now I do!

I was surprised to see this up-and-over ruined.  The main section was cut into two pieces and rolled down the hill!  If anything, cut it and make a skinny!  This was perfect skinny wood and it was ruined!  It was such a shock to see this wanton stupidity, I felt like Bluto when the movers dropped the case of scotch on the ground   

Below is a picture I took last August when I found this blow down with rocks already piled on both sides to create a real nice up-and-over.  Sometimes I just don't understand people.  You could have cut it on one end and maybe on the other and pivoted it so it would be perpendicular to the trail and you would have a really nice feature.

You mean, you couldn't police up your own coffee cup?  Are you kidding me?  Ban the hikers, I say!

I put the cup in my bottle cage and rode the rest of the way with it.  Later down the white trail, some dog walker put two their business cards into a stump in the middle of the trail.  C'mon, put your cards at the Kiosk near Whitney Avenue but not in the middle of the trail.  They went into the cup, too, and into the trash bin at the Daniels Farm Commuter lot.

At Coyote Crossing this guy rolls across this Darwin Award Recipient rolled across the bridge.  He was riding like he had something else in mind.  As he road by me, it looked like he was wearing handy man dungarees and he had some sort of tool sticking out of his thigh pocket, perhaps an electric screwdriver?  I wonder if he is one of those illegal ramp builders.  If you can't build something fun with natural materials don't build it all.

I think the guy above is John Wilkins.  There were four guys riding up the red trail as I was coming down the yellow but it wasn't until I looked at this picture closer that I think I recognize the guy above.

The Qball Monster Cross

Trumbull Slick Rock takes on a whole new meaning when your tires have ice on them.  The bike slipped out from under me riding through the wave rock.  It was a really weird.

Great Video of Riding Huntington

You will see some nice riding on the NEMBA Rock & Roll Trail, South Pond Single Track, and The Big Burn.  Also some really good 29er action.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Origin 8 Cutler on West End Ave - Fauxie

Fauxie's (Faux Fixie) seem to be the rage these days in the City and here is a perfect example of one from Origin 8.  The Cutler, is touted as a new breed of bicycle for the urban jungle but it's not marketed as a fixed gear, although this bike appears to have a flip flop hub.  On the Cutler page, it's not specifically stated that it has a flip flop but it looks like it has one.  The component description states that the rear wheel is for a free wheel but the hub description is cut off so it's hard to tell.

Flip Flop?  Looks that way

The cockpit is pretty simple and it uses in-line Promax levers which seem kind of cheezy.  I think a BMX lever or an Avid would be better suited but seeing that the brakes are Promax, Origin 8 went the bargain basement route.  If you recall, the Mongoose Deception uses Lee Chi brakes, which are also made by Promax.  I guess that's what you get for an under $300 single speed commuter.

The kick stand and chain guard I get, it's an urban single speed, but one piece cranks?  THE HORROR!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flop and Chops at River Run Playground, 83rd Street, NYC

Any chance I get to go to NYC, it's always an adventure for me to see what kind of cornucopia of bikes I will see because it's a much easier form of transportation and the adaptations to bikes, especially those used by delivery people tend to be extremely interesting.  While visiting relatives this past Sunday on the Upper West Side, which is extremely residential, the selection of bikes were mostly family oriented.  After brunch we took the kids over to the River Run Playground at the end of 83rd Street and while the kids were running a muck I took the opportunity to snap a few pix of this interesting, rattle canned City bike with a Ghetto cockpit.  Of course, the owner looked at me taking pictures of his bike as some kind of kook but while our kids ended up playing together I got a chance to chat and put him at ease that I wasn't planning on steeling his bike.

Our conversation was more about the kid trailer and that he rides his kid to school, uses it for grocery shopping and general exercise.  Clearly, it's an older model, steel lugged bike, rattle can black, to make it less enticing to a would be bicycle thief but with a Shimano 105 group.

What struck me as interesting however was the cockpit.  Flop and chops with Cross levers instead of aero levers.  Side mounted Cateye - why not mounted correctly?  I don't see why it couldn't be mounted correctly in combination with the aero extension bars, in fact given arm positioning the Cateye in that position would only serve as an alternative to an arm rest.

Nice Soma saddle.  A very interesting cockpit adaptation that I will remember for my next Old Crappy Ten Speed Conversion project, which by the way reminds me, I haven't done one in over a year now.  I have quite a few frames to play with, too.