Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Walk of Shame

We have all experienced it. Something breaks out on the trail and you can't fix it so you have to schlep back to the parking log. Fortunately, for this individual, Dr Mike's Mobile Bike Shop happened to be on station at last Sunday's New England Mountain Bike Association's Mountain Bike Adventure Series Ride: The Happening at Huntington.

Snapped the hanger on a rock!

Soon to be right as rain!

Thanks Dr. Mike!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Ride Map from the Happening at Huntington

Forgot to include this in a previous post. This route basically follows the marked trail for the intermediate ride at the Happening at Huntington this past Sunday. Did one little outtake and rode into the section of the Chimney Trail to the overlook for the group picture, and of course spent a lot of time at the Big Burn hitting rollers and drops.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Planning and executing a successful Mountain Biking Event

The Happening at Huntington is the New England Mountain Bike Association, Connecticut Chapter's, initial introduction to the summer riding season and this year was a tremendous success. It's part of the Kona-Fox Shox Mountain Bike Adventure Series that the New England Mountain Bike Association runs every year. While the Happening has been happening for years prior, the past three years it has been in this program.

Planning for this event began 6 months ago and in the past I have helped out but this year I ran the show. Everything went smooth: Permitting; Food; Parking. There was a little hiccup with the marked trails, not enough people showed up the day prior to mark the trails and the only let down was that someone from Cycling Sports Group (fka Cannondale Corp) had heard about the event and offered to have their demo van present and then to learn 3 days prior to the event that they were just at some event out west and the bikes wouldn't be back in CT in time.

It's funny how things work out, while we didn't have the demos, I happen to run into someone who works at GT while setting the trails on Saturday and he was the one who told me where the bikes were. He felt bad and offered to come buy on Sunday with a box of swag that included T-Shirts, hoodies, chainstay protectors, tires, and a bunch of other things that mountain bikers like to get for free.

There will be another Mountain Bike Adventure Series Ride in CT this year at Cockaponset State Forest in Chester, CT and I can't wait for that event because I haven't ridden Cockaponset in years and look forward to riding there again.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Meet my new friend Chris

Chris King that is. Finally gave up on the headset last weekend and took the Dillinger in to Brookfield Bike to have them tell me what is wrong. Turns out the CC S-3 was shot and I needed a new headset. Shawn happen to have this Chris King laying around that he had gotten for another customer but didn't end up using it so he offered it to me at an attractive price that I couldn't say no to.

Rode Huntington Saturday morning and did some Trail Marking for the Happening At Huntington that will be taking place tomorrow. It's a charity event for Collis P Huntington State Park for building more trails, replacing broken boardwalks, and other trail improvement projects throughout the park. And there was no more noise! Oh, what joy.

And this is my other friend Chris, who I met on the trail and rode with me while I was redoing some of trail markers that I laid incorrectly earlier this morning. Then I showed him some singletrack that he had never seen before and then we headed over to the Big Burn. This is his first roller.

More Monster Cross on the NCR Trail

On Wednesday evening, after work, I rode from the hotel to the trail head and then 13 miles up the trail and back. It was a lot hotter than the previous day and again I prehydrated with 32 oz of diluted Powerade.

I attacked this part of the trail much harder than the day prior and while I made really good time the warmer weather took it's toll on me. It was still cool to see bits of railroad history sprinkled here and there - that stuff never gets old with me.

At the point I decided to turn around at, 13 miles north of the trail head at Ashland and 6 miles past Monkton where I started out the previous day I nearly drained one of bottles and had a few Guu Blocks.

I realized by the time I got back to Ashland that I should have eaten more because when I got back to the start of the trail I was feeling kind of nauseous.

I had absolutely no energy to ride back to the hotel, so I sipped what was left of my other water bottle and liesurely pedaled back to the hotel. Along the way I passed PayPal! I couldn't believe they were located in Hunt Valley, MD and not out on West Coast.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mason-Dixon Monster Cross

I happened to be down in Maryland on business this week and brought my Qball with the intention of riding the NCR Trail, a 20 mile rail trail that starts in Cockeysville, MD and ends at New Freedom, PA, which is also considered the Mason-Dixon Line. The railtrail follows the North Central Railroad Right of Way.

I knew I wouldn't have enough time to ride the whole trail and back so after work I headed up Rt 83 to Hereford and then over to Monkton where I picked up the trail. Monkton is a little antique town with Federal styled architecture. It's also a popular place to park to go rafting on the Big Gun Power Falls.

The architecture in Northern Maryland is a mix of various styles, including old manor houses, Federal styled architecture and a little Germanic influence sprinkled here and there, due to the close proximity with Pennsylvania. The building below reminded me of buildings I saw in Southern Germany. Along the way are many farm houses and old building stretching back to the 1800s.

The northern part of Maryland is horse country and I saw quite a few signs that horses had been through lately, until I came across a woman walking a horse on the trail. She was acclimating him to people and bikes on the trail.

Not much fan fare for the Mason-Dixon Line, in fact there was no big sign saying Welcome to Pennsylvania. Just this little wooden sign welcoming you to the town of New Freedom.

I thought I would take a picture of the start of the PA section of the trail, by this red gate which is beginning of the Heritage Rail Trail County Park. Of course, if I had more time, I would have delved into this section but it would have been hard to concentrate on riding because this part of the trail is actually side by side an active working railroad.

These two guys were smoking cigarettes and riding. I just don't get it, exercise and smoking. Reminds me of the time I was in Quebec and saw a guy running down the road, obviously a long distance runner in way he was dressed, smoking a cigarette.

In the waning hours of daylight and for fear of having my car locked into the parking area I didn't spend any more time taking pictures and headed back down the trail towards Monkton. While the trail is primarily flat, heading south was much easier and I got up to speeds of 20 to 25 mph. There were a lot bridges along the trail that still had wooden ties on them where the rails were laid. Since this line had both north and southbound tracks, there was plenty of room for the trail and bits of railroad history sprinkled along the way.

At each road crossing there was a brown gate to prevent cars from accessing the trail. You knew you were coming up to a crossing because 100 yards out you would see a Whistle Sign.

Old crossing guards still marked some of the more busier road crossings, while other crossings had the steel poles with the old fashioned Rail Road Crossing, criss cross signs, sprinkled here and there.

There were a few train signals still left on the trail

I got back to Monkton around 8 PM after being out on the trail for two hours and rode 25 miles. I loaded my GPS data to Garmin Connect. It was 55 minutes up and 42 minutes back. When I was leaving Connecticut I had it in my mind to grab some fenders thinking with all the hot weather that was expected afternoon thunder showers are generally the norm for east coast, thanks to global warming.

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my fenders and paid the price because on the northern section of the trail it rained. I heard thunder when I was getting ready in Monkton and on the other side of Rte 83 it had rained and I got dirty!

While I brought a bottle of Powerade in my official Airborne water bottle and another containing just water, the passing thunder shower and shade of the trees kept conditions really cool and I barely drank anything. Of course I had a 32 oz diluted powerade right before I went out on the trail, which probably helped my hydration levels. That is the magic of prehydrating!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On the Starting Line

photo: Matt Domnarski

Found some more pictures from the Domnarski Farm Race on FaceBook. Not sure if you need a FBook account to view but try the link and see if it will work for you. Here I am with Fabian Esponda (Bib 101) at the starting line. Not a very big field for the CAT2 Singlespeed Class, still it was a fun race and I can't wait to do it again next year.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What trails was this guy riding on?

While hanging out at the Jump Hill parking lot at Troutbrook Valley on Saturday for a joint Aspetuck Land Trust/CT NEMBA trails advocacy day I didn't encounter any mountain bikers wanting to use Troutbrook but I did see this one riding down the road.
I was truly amazed to see a guy riding 29er on the road. When I ride at Upper Paugussett State Forest, I live close enough that I can ride to one of the trail heads from my house. This guy riding on a major road like this was truly bewildering though. There must have been at least 100 roadies passing through here in the span of 2 hours and this guy zooms through.

There are no biking trails between Jump Hill and Huntington State Park (10 miles up the road) so I wonder where he was riding. I doubt he was doing a road workout.

Even more surprising was the fact that it appears this guy was actually riding off road by the evidence of the dirt and blood on his left leg. But where? I found out later that this guy rode Huntington State Park, then road down to the Bradley Road Lot and then did a loop at Trout Brook and then rode back to Huntington for another ride there. He must be training for the VT 50.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sweaty Palms at PValley

Headed over to Pequonnock River Valley in Trumbull for a Father's ride I forgot my gloves! I have been riding 6 years and not once have I ever not ridden without gloves. I was able to ride but I had to keep drying my hands on my shorts, otherwise my hands often slipped off the grips. It was a little disconcerting but eventually, I got used to it.

I met up with Tren at the Whitney Avenue lot in Trumbull and after a short sprint down the rail trail we descended into the Valley, crossed Coyote Crossing and headed down the Blue Trail. I think it has been over three months since I have ridden PValley and there are some interesting changes taking place. The Trumbull Trails Coalition has been really active and definitely made some good improvements to the trails and I think there is more to come. In the picture below, you can see where they nicked this low spot so that the water would drain rather then sit and thus get muddy. Although it may need another between the nick and the up-and-over.

Up on the red/trail over near the highway we found this tree that was struck by lightening. The bark was shredded in a line starting from the top and running down to the base. Not the tallest tree in the forest either.

More evidence of the TTC's handiwork. As you come down Mullholland Drive (yellow trail) and cross over the stream, which by the way has been re-armored, there was this log sticking into the trail. The log has been moved over a bit and this section has been re-armored making it better to traverse.

At the intersection of the Yellow and Red Trails over by the access road from the highway there is this big roller that I have been meaning to try. It starts out flat, goes steep, but has a smooth tranny.

Here is a quick little video of me rolling it. Looking at it retrospectively it didn't feel right going down and think that was because I should have had more weight over the back of my rear tire.

At the intersection of the Yellow and Red Trails at an area that is called the lunchbox because there is a rock there that you can roll on one side or drop on the other. The heat and humidity was having an effect on Tren and I think we was borderline heat exhaustion. I made him drink from my extra water bottle, pour some water on his head and him drink some of my Powerade. After a long break he was feeling a little better but none-the-less decided to head out of the park and back to the cars. Unfortunately, we were still about 2 miles from the lot.

This is why on hot and humid days it is so important to pre-hydrate your body by drinking a lot of fluids before you ride and then take sips along the way. It must have been 85 degrees and extremely humid. By this point we were both soaking wet in sweat.

The Yellow trail splits off and goes into the area that we call Bastone because of all the cedars and exposed rock and in the winter time reminds me of the forest where Band of Brothers was shot. Or you can take the Red Trail over to the Picnic tables. Both trails meet up at the Rusty River.

Riding through the Hemlock forest of Bastone helped Tren because it was cool and shady. The exposed rock on the Yellow Trail is really fun to ride and we call this section the Slab Rock Trail.

Bastone is labyrinth of trails going all over the place without much rhyme or reason. There is a really big roller in the middle somewhere that I often stumble across when I am trying to make sense of where all the trails go in this section of the park. Below is a map with some highlights. My problem is that I want to ride all the trails in this section without overlapping any that I have ridden already.

At the intersection with one of the connector trails that goes over to the roller, You've Got Mail, we ran into this rider that we had seen at the spot where the trail nick was done. He wasn't all that chatty when most people that I run into here usually are.