Friday, April 30, 2010

Park City Metro North Bike Rack

The bike rack is back closer to the street which leads me to think that is must be a winter weather issue being so close to the road and that it's placed here for the spring, summer, and fall. God forbid either Metro-North or the City of Bridgeport recognized the inherent stupidity of where it used to be and how that could lead to the theft of bikes. That would be brilliant if they recognized their folly in doing so, but I strongly doubt it.

My favorite Panasonic (above) with ghetto bars was there. The bars look like they were cut down, might have been the original drops cut at the curve. Breaks must be original, too, and in stead of bar tape there is just electrician's tape.

The 26" wheeled Toponga (above) is a regular at the bike rack.

Here is a new comer to the Bike Rack (above), a not recommended for off road use full suspension mountain styled bike.

Nothing like a left over can of beer from the night crew.

On the ride home, this guy carried this folder onto the train and bungee corded it to the hand rail. I asked owner about it and he said he rides to the train in the morning and uses it instead of the subway to get to work. Just about everything folds on it, including the pedals.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

RAW Five miler

Headed over to Huntington for quickie Ride After Work. First and foremost I wanted to see whether I fixed the creaky EBB issue and it's way better but not yet SBD. I did notice that my chain tension wasn't where I like it which could be part of the reason the EBB was still making some noise. I emailed Chad at Soul Cycles and he suggested trying teflon tape so I might give that a shot next. Other changes included putting the Serfas Krest tires, which are two ply and thorn resistant. I thought that it might be good to train with a heavier tire so that when I race with a lighter a tire I will be a faster. Not sure I could really tell the difference. The difference I could tell was that I had a lot more traction.

I am really liking the triangle bag that I now have. It fits a spare tube and all the tools I need in case I get into a jam on the trail. The new fork is working out really well, too. I even tried using the lockout on the South Pond Access Road and I was amazed at how much better I climbed with the fork locked. I think I going to have to try this more often. Another day of rain and I would have gone nuts. While I didn't have much time it was still worth while getting out for a quick ride.

Russell Mills Pump Track

A little pump track action from Russell Mills. I locked my fork and tried it and it was a blast!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Riding the Burbs

Two unbelievable trail systems that I had the opportunity to ride last weekend after the Root 66 Mountain Bike race at Massasoit State Park. We started out at Great Brook Farm State Park, sampled the goods, and then headed over to Russell Mills where I rode text book singletrack.

Photo courtesy of Singlespeed Photography

Here is what we rode on Sunday in 3D. It would awesome if they could connect to the two properties such that your knobbies wouldn't have to exposed the indignity of riding upon pavement. I am sure the trail builders are working on a solution right now.

Salsa Big Mama in the rough

At Sunday's Board meeting ride, there was a guy from the Southern New Hampshire Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association with my dream bike, the Salsa Big Mama. If I had just pulled the trigger a week earlier I would be riding a mama myself right now. As some of you probably already know, Salsa is not making any more this year but rumored to be producing more for 2011. I wonder if they are addressing the chain suck issue? Let's hope. Of course, something could come along that captures my attention and is better than Big Mama and she'll be old news. Until that happens, one can only dream.

Below is a little video I shot of Matt riding this Big eFF'ing Rock roller:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Russell Mills: Text Book Singletrack

If you ever want to see the perfect example of text book singletrack, and you happen to find yourself in the northwest suburbs of Boston then head over to the soccer fields off of Mill Rd in Chelmsford, MA and ride this section of open space. All I can say is UFB! From the gate, there is 500 feet benching that runs between the access road and the water that is perfectly benched with grade reversals and rolling dips.

From this trail you can delve deeper into the trails or have a bit of fun on a pump track nestled into a small knoll between the soccer fields and a swamp.

After a few circuits on the pump track we headed off into the main trail system for some insanely twisty and flowy single track. These are truly text book trails. Skinnies galore, every rideable rock the trail accesses and technical sections are plenty.

At one point we rode up to a big rock, what I like to call a BFR. It turns out that it's a roller and two guys from our group showed us how it's done.

And of course, it wouldn't be a NEMBA ride without a few mechanicals.

A little problem of shifting one's chain into the spokes. What, no pie plate?

Great Brook Farm State Park, Carlisle, MA.

If riding 26 miles on Saturday wasn't enough, how about 4.7 miles at Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle, MA. This place is truly unique, not only does it have an actual working farm, it has trout fishing ponds, trails for hiking only, horses, and bikes. In the winter time it doubles as a cross country ski center, too.

Trails are a mix of dual track, farm roads, gravel paths, and insanely, twisty and technical singletrack that was built by New England Mountain Bike Association members. Two groups headed off into the woods. After the board meeting we split off into two groups and headed off into the woods.

The group I was with got a sampling of some really, technical and flowy single track before riding over to another location is Chelmsford called Russell Mills.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Root 66 @ Massasoit Lung Opener

I got up to Massasoit State Park in East Taunton, Mass, around 10:30 AM to ensure that I had plenty of time to pre-ride the course and it was extremely worthwhile. After registering and getting my Bib I headed out onto the course. The first part through mature pine forests was fun because it was cool and no breeze. Parts of the trail were soft in some places and there was one really long bridge. Eventually the course came out of the forest and it became sandy as you got closer to the ponds. The terrain was wonderful and my gearing selection was good because it enabled me to make most of the climbs.

Doing this pre-lap let me learn the ins and outs of the course. There was a sand pit before a little climb that I hit in the middle, that was a mistake, which took the wind out of my sails, almost forcing me walk the incline. There was another sandy climb that curved around to the right that if you were going fast and tried cut on the inside the sand would stop you cold. And there was one section that was extremely rooty, more so than others, that if tried to take it high it was worse than hitting down low.

Three quarters of the way through the Pros & CAT 1s came barreling through and man were they fast. Towards the end of the course there is a hike-a-bike that was killer. Once you got past that climb you descended some more to one last fall line hike-a-bike, a final kick in the teeth, and then there was a nice downhill and then you were out on the road to the starting point. On that last climb I ran into John Groller who was taking pictures of the carnage on the last hike-a-bike who took the two shots below.

After the pre-lap it was back to the car for a little bike maintenance, PBJs (Rs are for afterwards) and 32oz of Powerade to pre-hydrate for the race. I have finally given up on my carbon fiber seat post. I think I am too heavy for the restraining bolt that holds the seat in place because it keeps moving back on me. My bike was making an awful noise which I noticed earlier this week and I finally deduced that it was the bottom bracket. I learned later that I need an Isis crank puller, something not included in my bag of tricks, in order to get the crank off so I had to live with it.

I was surprised at the amount of port-a-johns, only 4, they had here because at 15 minutes before race time I needed one and the two by the finish line had lines in front of them. I raced up to the two outer ones and they were free. The CAT2 SS Open class started after the 40 to 49 year old group but included with us were the junior men. There were 10 racers and in the line we were all taking about our gearing. One guy came to the party at 32:14t and he must have been an animal because I never caught him. Most people seemed be geared for 32:20t like me or 32:18t. I think 32:19t would have been perfect.

At the whistle I hung towards the back but found myself with one person behind me at the first turn into the woods, I had looked at the field and thought that out of everyone there, there was guy that I could probably best. It was a really different feeling racing because the adrenalin was coursing through me and I was actually trying to keep up with those in front of me and all I was thinking was keep up, keep up. Right before the first rooty climb, one of the racers dropped due to a loose seat clamp and that put me into 8th place by the first 2 miles into the course. That was a first, people behind me and I could see people in front of me.

Into another section of climbs, which I cleaned one and walked another and I was starting to catch the guy in front of me. The guy with the seat clamp issue, on a Fetish Fixation - hey I had one of those but this was the gun metal blue one, much older than mine - was dogging my six as well. This went on for the rest of this lap and into the next. On the second lap, I lost sight of the guy in front of me and the guy behind I caught glimpses of when I would finish a climb he would be just starting. Three quarters into the second lap I started to catch the guy in front of me and finally passed him right before the second hike-a-bike. He had cramps.

When I got onto the straight away I sprinted towards the finish line. It was like spin class and I was riding that bike like I stole it! I even passed a geared rider coming into the finish line. My final time was 1 hour 39 minutes and I took seventh place. That PBR (not J) after the race was the best thing to wash down all that dust. My first lap had an average speed of 9.5 mph but I slowed down on the second lap to 8.6 mph. Pre-hydrating and carb'ing up before the ride really helps and I did hammer gels 3/4s of the way through each lap which really helped, too.

This was a great race and the first time I ever bested someone, the guy on the Fetish. Unfortunately, I won't be racing until June again so I have the whole month of may to get ready for the race in Ware, MA. Still, this is my 3rd Race for NEMBA Racing (Fbook link), one more to go! However, unlike most people who went home after the race, I stayed in Massachusetts because on Sunday I was attending the New England Mountain Bike Association's quarterly Board of Director's meeting, which I am now a member of. Of course, that meant more riding!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

4 AM Bike Build

I had intended on rebuilding the Dillinger last night but due to allergies and my son needing a little company while he drifted off to sleep, I conked early, too. Ended up waking up at 4 AM and couldn't go back to sleep so I worked on the bike so that I ride later in the after noon. The Avid Juicy 3s were a snap to install.

The new cranks from Raceface went on really quick but where I ran into problems was with the gearing. I wanted to go to a 19t but couldn't find the right chain length and ebb combination. I went back to the 20t. Later in the shower I figured out that I needed to do half link.

On the shake down ride, the only issue I had was with the front brake caliper, it was hitting the spokes. I readjusted the positioning once and then tightened the offending spoke, which seem to do the trick. As I was coming up on the completion of the first lap I flatted. I changed the tube and bagged riding another lap.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Newtown Trailway: A Railtrail to nowhere

Took my daughter out for what I had hoped would have been a two hour, 20 mile, fixed gear and trail-a-bike ride on the Monroe Rail Trail that would have included the Newtown and Trumbull sections. It didn't happen mainly because my crank came loose. My guess is the torque needed to pull my daughter and the trail-a-bike over stressed the bolt and it came loose. Of course, I did have the same problem last week but that came on the heals of riding the Middlebury Greenway with the same set up. I think I am going to have to replace the cranks.

The picture above is the Newtown section of the rail trail. The unfortunate thing about this ill fated trail is that 1600 feet will eventually be completed and then it's going to stop dead at Batchelder Property. There is an old aluminum smelter operations that went bankrupt in the 80s. Of course, back then dumping guidelines were kind of lax and it's reported that there a lot of ground contaminants. The Boy Scouts, however, have started a project to open this section up and it's a lot more open since the last time I rode that section.

There is also a problem on the Monroe section near the town line. There is a blocked culvert forcing the water from the swamp to the west to flow over the trail to the east where it is lower. What was cool was there was this turkey hanging out by one of the pools in the middle of the trail. It was odd to be pecking at the water. When we got closer, we saw what it was pecking at: tadpoles. There must have been thousands basking in the warm water and old Tom Turkey was having his own Thanksgiving dinner.

On the way back I had to pedal the last half mile with my right leg because the left crank was way too loose.

Soul Cycles Dillinger avec demi Squish!

By way of a friend I purchased a used Reba SL 100mm suspension fork for the Dillinger after the Winding Trails race on Sunday. When I got home, after cleaning the whole bike I put the fork on it. Hemming and hawing on whether I was going to get out after work today and I was able to get in one 7 mile lap at Huntington (below). As with every ride with a new part there is always some adjustments that have to take place during the ride and there were a fair share on this one so I am not proud of my time. Thursday, I am going to do two laps on the same course. Hopefully everything will be dialed in.

Riding with suspension is UFB! My descents are two or three times faster and The carbon Fiber seatpost worked fine this time around, only it's leaning just a little too far back and I need to adjust that. The BB slipped a little and didn't have the chain tension that I am accustomed to so that was throwing me off my game, too. Also, the bars were massively creaking which tells me I need to tighten them down further.

I wore a hydration pack for the first time and I positively hated it. Rather than use a seat bag I picked one of those triangle bags that sit at the juncture of the top tube and seat tube. It's big enough to fit a tube, multi-tool, chain tool, spare links, and my keys. I will keep the bottle cage on event though I might not be able to use a bottle in it with the triangle pack. I do have a shorter bottle that might just fit, though.

Seeing that Massasoit looks similar to Winding Trails in terms of climbing, I am going to throw on the 19t, which I should have had on in the first place. I think I going to race with my Nano Raptors (29x2.1) but bring the Panaracer Rampages (29x2.35) for my ride on Sunday in the Boston Suburbs. Both tires come on and off so easy that it's not trouble at all.

Brown Santa should be dropping off my hydros (Avid Juicy 3s) tomorrow and Santa's Helper (the guy in the Purple and Green truck) will be bringing my new crankset on Thursday. I am probably going to ride to work on Friday so I am not sure if I will have time to test the crankset Friday evening. Probably bring the FSA along just incase there is a problem.