Saturday, July 31, 2010

West Hartford Mountain Bikes

When I got up to West Hartford for the MDC hearings, not only were there a plethora of commuting and road bikes secured helterskelter to anything immovable but there were quite a few mountain bikes as well. Of course, when ever I see bigger wheels and a single cog in the rear my attention is immediately drawn to these bikes over anything else.
This is Charlie Beristain's Karate Monkey.  Charlie is leading the fight to ensure the The Rez stays open for all and closes the loophole in the State's Rec Use Statutes that caused this whole problem in the first place.  News Channel 30 did good piece on the issue and interview Charlie, as well.

Apparently, there was a solidarity mountain bike ride at the Rez and then everyone rode over to the Town Hall to show their support for keeping the trails open.  Members of a loosely organized Mountain Biking Group in CT called the Black Sheep Squadron (on Facebook) were also present.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Friday Fix: What's in your office?

You might be wondering what does this post have to do with riding fixed gears.  Well, since I only commute on a fixed gear it's relevant to the Friday Fix but then again, this is more of a commuting-esque post than fixed gear.

Who uses file cabinents or credenzas anymore? I am in IT and everything we do is online and electronic so I don't need a filing cabinet. Instead, I use mine for my shower shoes, belt and dress shoes just so that I can lighten my load just a little bit. While riding to work is fun, especially riding fixed, the logistics of riding to work can be daunting. What works for me is to leave a few things at the office, including toiletries (they are in my other filing cabinet) and just carry my clothes in the garment bag pannier I have.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Improve your skill, not the trail

There is this little technical section on NEMBA's Rock and Roll Trail that for all of it's briefness always put the fear of god in me because on the big 29er wheels if I were to stall out I would be in the pond! Some A-Hole decided to smooth section out and now it's no longer technical. I would like to find out who did this and make them pick up all the road apples at Huntington.

There is always one bad apple that spoils the bunch. Over in Easton/Weston, CT at Trout Brook Valley there were reports of people poaching the trails during the off season. Turns out it was someone who lived next to the area. I hope the person who defiled the trail realizes what they have done only hurts the trail. I can see possibly why they wanted to change this because it makes this section more flowy. But, hey, if you want flowy trails then you are in the wrong part of the country.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

One Less Tooth

I finally rode the 19t cog in a condition when I knew what was going on and there is a slight difference over the 20t. Looking back on Sunday, I realize that I did not drink enough water while working on the trails at the Pequonnock River Valley and got dehrydrated. I didn't take any chances for Tuesday's training ride at Huntington. Prior to leaving the office I downed a 32 oz bottle of Powerade and then I refilled that bottle with water and drank that. En route, I hit the local 7-11 for an additional 32oz bottle of water and a Gatorade that I knew would fit in my bottle cage. Also ate 4 granola bars and a banana.

Decided to mix things up a bit and do a distance ride. Added some new trails into the mix, a lot of which was mostly single track. I wanted to finish the ride with 10 miles under my belt so I took a spin on the NEMBA Rock and Roll Trail. Probably shouldn't have done that because I was tiring and not paying enough attention and ended up endoing again (also did it Sunday) in almost the same exact spot I endoed on October 31st, 2006 in which I smashed my knee cap and from that injury probably was the reason I got a blood clott in my knee a month later.

Looks like I am going to race on Sunday. Ride once more to work this week and knock out some laps Friday after work and I will be ready to race. Finishing today's ride I still had lots in the tank. I did hit my max on the heart rate while climbing the South Pond Gravel Grinder. Funny thing is that I didn't feel like I was over doing it and despite the warnings I climbed the whole hill.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

West Hartford Bikes

I think West Hartford is the most prolific bike community in the state.  There just seems to be a polarization of cyclists here.  There are bike lanes, the Rez (hopefully it will remain open) and many events focused on cycling.  The only other place that comes close is New Haven, however, I think that is largely due to the fact that Yale pretty much makes up most of the City and there are many students using bikes for transportation.

I was up at the West Hartford Town Hall to see what was going on with the MDC hearings and the potential access issues for the Rez (West Hartford Reservoir).  I won't get into the gory details of what happened and why access is threatened, feel free to read about that over on the CT NEMBA Blog, but in a nutshell someone had a bike accident in which the cyclist ran into an obstruction that has been there for years, turned around sued the MDC and won.  The MDC thought they were immune to these kinds of lawsuits but the judge in the case felt otherwise.  Now the MDC liability insurance could sky rocket and clearly they need to figure out a way so they aren't caught like this again.

There is no doubt they need to institute some sort of pass system/liability waiver to protect them from future law suits and there definitely needs to be some changes in the rec use statutes to prevent these law suits in the future otherwise mountain biking could get seriously limited.  I got up to West Hartford towards the tail end of the Public Outcry to support continued access to the trails but was able to borrow someone's camera and get some great bike shots.  The Cargo bike above I have seen numerous times on the BeatBikeBlog.  The yellow Giant is nice, but I really dig the blue rims on the classic Special-Ed Stumpjumper.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Mid-Summer's Trail Maintenance Dream

Met up with the Trumbull Trails Coalition on Sunday to do a trail reroute on the red trail as it descends towards the second stream crossing. It was a great turn out with 8 people in total. If you ride the Pequonnock River Valley frequently you will know that the this descent is a washed out down hill run that keeps getting worse and worse as the seasons pass.  After four hours of working in the humidity we went for a little ride but found that our energy was sapped from working so long and cut the ride short.

Later during the day, after taking a nap I cramped up so bad that I thought I would have to go to hospital.  Makes me wonder if trying to train in the this heat for Hodges Village is worth it.  The new drive chain was a lot more quieter.  I think adjusting the chain line helped.  The only thing makes any noise now is the EBB.  Going to have to work more on that.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another view of Le P'tit Train du Nord

Once again, my love for fishing clashes with my love for riding.  On the way home from Deer Horn Lodge and the Cabonga Reservoir we passed through Mont Laurier which is the trail head for Le P'tit Train du Nord, which is a 200KM linear park that runs between St Jerome and Mont Laurier.  Unfortunately, no time to ride the trail but at some point I would love to spend a week riding the trail, that is two days up and two days back for a total of 400KM, or 240 miles of riding.

I would have to figure out some way to get panniers on the Qball but it would be worth it.  The Qball Monster Cross would be the perfect bike for this trail, and doing it fixed would be even better!

It was cool that I was able to get off a quick picture of people riding the trail.

At this very spot (below), 30 years ago, I recall seeing a box car.  That was on my first YMCA camp trip into Canada and now look at it.

Gearing up for the Hodges Race

Last weekend I bought a new chain because I couldn't get the right amount of tension on my current chain. After 500+ miles on it I figured it was time for a change but I didn't have time to get to the Dillinger all week due to my hectic work schedule after being on vacation for a week. Finally got to it Saturday night.

Looking at the some of the data on Garmin Connect data for previous races at the Damn it's definitely not Domnarski Farms when it comes to climbing so I am gearing up to a 19t.  I should have ridden this gear for Winding Trails and Massasoit.  It looks like I have shark's teeth now on my 20t Kick Ass Cog, so now I am going to have to replace it, too.  I think I am just going to buy 22t through 18t from Surly.  Steel cogs will probably last longer, too.

I just hope that I will get enough time in the saddle to get used to riding with this gear.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Friday Fix, I Bucked One and Timbuktu, 2

Another successful Friday Commute and in some interesting riding conditions.  When I was leaving the house in the morning it had started raining but it looked like a passing shower so I headed back in to check the weather.  It was indeed just a passing shower but looming off on the horizon was a huge rain storm.  I went to and checked their Future Cast and it said this storm was moving from west to east and just the lower tip may grace Danbury so I thought I would take the risk.  It's always a risk for me in this type of weather because I have yet to get fenders for the Stinson.

Later at work I checked the Weather Wunder Map and it showed the storm tracking towards the southeast.  Danbury would not only be graced by the storm but get a full helping of rain and lightning.  Plan B, was to have the wife come get me and then I would try to get a ride to work so that I could ride home on Monday.  Last check of the weather after my 3 PM meeting showed that it would free and clear for at least a couple of hours!

When I got the Timbuktu bag I recall reading that it was waterproof, however I only see that on the main compartment and the computer compartment hardly looks waterproof.  I realized that one of those Fedex bubble padded envelopes fits my laptop perfectly so I sealed the envelope and took off.

I set the shoulder strap a little lower and I found the ideal riding position of the bag.  Of course computer facing outward and main compartment facing inwards.  By angling the bag so that one end is higher than the other it sits perfectly and doesn't move around.

Riding fixed means your legs are always moving which means that motion is transfered to your hips, pelvis and buttocks.   If the bag isn't held tightly in place then it's going to move around and screw up your cadence and balance.  During my last attempt to ride with the bag I tried to ride with it higher up but what I found with it there is that it kept moving because I was moving.  When I descend my butt is on the seat and I am scrunched in to be more aerodynamic but for climbing I am off the seat.  Given the weight of the computer and trying to keep it up on my shoulder I find that it moves around too much.  Where I have it here (pictured below) is perfect.

I was really surprised at how clean I was riding home even though the roads were so wet.  I got barely any road splatter up front and my garment bag pannier acted as a fender for my in the rear.  I think it's time to get some fenders, though.

If you ride with a Timbuktu bag, what works for you?

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Friday Fix: I Bucked One and Timbuktu, two

If you recall, I got a new computer bag from Timbuktu so that I thought I would have a hip and cool way to get to and from work with the laptop by bike. My earlier attempts to ride with the bag failed simply because I didn't realize when wearing it over the shoulder the computer side should be facing outwards and the softer compartment side should be in towards your body. That is because that part of the bag actually molds around your hips and but and with the shoulder strap tightened will stay in place. At least that is what I found out a few months ago by accident.

So, on last Friday's ride home I applied my new found knowledge and rode with the bag this way and, OMG, it was much more comfortable. It held snuggly to the body and barely moved on me.  After descending I needed to make some adjustments because of all the hammering that takes place, but I am sure minor adjustments along the way for messengers and hipsters alike are always needed.  Still, I would rather not have to ride with the computer at all but I will take this for now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Shameless Product Plug

In the last edition of The Friday Fix that I mentioned that I dropped a chain on my way home and took a picture to show everyone my pain.  I was originally planning on taking a bike picture for this kind of post but it slipped my mind. However, I was able to crop it out from the dropped chain picture in last Friday's post. So here is my shameless product plug of the Airborne Water Bottle that I got courtesy of Greg Rides Trails.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Not bad after a week of not riding?

That's right, I was sitting in a boat for a week fishing and not riding.  While the muscle tightness is gone the power seems to still be there, at least we'll see in the next day or two when I start training hard for the next Root 66 race that is in two weeks!  

I met Rick for a loop at Upper Paugussett.  I got in a little warm activities and then left him back at the lot and did a repeat part of the Body and then down the Mulikin over to the Pond Brook Boat Ramp.  Looks there is still an ATV coming into the forest but it seems he sticking to the forest road.

The new up and over needed some clean up near it.  I almost tanked it on the first try.  Bike started making some noise three quarters into the ride and couldn't figure out where it was coming from.  Finally I found that one of my chain ring blots came out.  500+ miles and now this?  Looks like it's over haul time for the Dillinger.  Picked up a new SRAM PC-1 at the bike shop today and I am going to mount a 19t for my last two races of the season, Hodges Village and Wompatuck (all I have time for).

Here is a little video of Rick riding the new skinny.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Gone Fishing!

Heading up to Canada for a week long fishing trip at Deer Horn Lodge in the Réserve faunique La Vérendrye, which is about 4 hours north of Montreal.  My father and I have been going to Deer Horn Lodge since I was 16 years old and I will never forget the first day we were there and we asked the owner where to fish and in his broken English he simply said "Out there" and pointed to the lake.  Maybe I should have asked where is the best place to fish.  So we went out there and came back with this:

A 44 inch, 28 lb Northern Pike

The last time we were up here (2008) we did OK with catching Walleye, caught very little pike, but did pretty well going for Lake Trout. This year, however, could prove to be really interesting give the fact that the Cabonga Reservoir is down 5 feet that many of the back coves that we like to fish are now inaccessible.  I have learned that it sounds like water is being let back into the reservoir and they are no longer letting it empty out. Not sure if that means what was inaccessible one or two weeks ago will be open now.  Never the less, it will be interesting!

I am going to post daily updates on yet another one of my blogs, Eatsleepfish if you want to follow how I am doing each day fishing.  Of course, if I come across any good cycling snacks along the way there I will be sure to post them here, too!

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Friday Fix: Long Time No Commute

It's been three months since my last commute to work - man I am such a slug!  I think the lack of commuting was mainly due to my training schedule for Mountain Bike racing and my daughter's dance schedule in which I had to pick her up every day after work.  So, on the fourth day of the New England heat wave I headed out at 6:15 am on the Stinson to work.  To make the ride in a little easier seeing that I haven't done this in while I left the laptop at work and left a change of clothes at the office the day before.

It was 75 degrees when I left the house and kind of foggy which made riding pretty cool at first but then I started climbing out of the Housatonic River Valley and all notion of a nice cool ride was gone by the second mile.  I wanted to take the Lambert but it presented too many challenges that I wasn't prepared to deal with.  First of all it hasn't really been road tested, that is ridden for more than a mile.  700x23c tires means that I have to take the long way to work and avoid all dirt roads but doing that would mean risking a longer ride than what I would like to do on it for it's maiden voyage.  What I need to do is take it out on the Old Put or the Farmington Canal Greenway.

At the office, the bike serves a dual purpose as a drying rack.  I run a fan to dry off my shorts, shirt and gloves all day.  It didn't smell too bad in the office but I could smell a faint trace of workout coming from the riding kit.  I really need to get some air fresheners to just make it smell less like a gym and more like an office.

Prior to leaving the house I did check and there was hint of any rain in the forecast, however around 9 AM it started to rain.  At 10 am is pouring.  But by noon it stopped and was clearing up and partly sunny.  I still don't have fenders on the Stinson.  Leaving the office, it was a little humid and around 85 degrees.  I stopped over Route 84 to raise my seat post and enjoyed the view of the stopped cars.

I love country roads, as long as they are smooth.  The town of Newtown recently repaved this section of Obtuse Road to Currituck Rd and it's soooo smooth now!  The old farm houses that line this stretch of the road are graceful and stately.

The worst feeling on fixed gear bike, I think, is when your chain drops like mine did here on one of the big descents on the dirt portion of Pond Brook Road.  There's a little slack in my chain and this will happen from time to time when I am descending due to the way I try and control my descents by applying pressure on the up swing of the pedal rather than the down swing.  I have had this happen to me before on the big descent on the Middlebury Greenway.  I knew I should have adjusted my tension the night before but it was just so stifling hot in the garage I didn't feel like doing the work. 

On this route I use a flatter section of Rt 25 and then take Rt 6 to Stony Hill and then cut over to the office park on some back roads.  There is a wide enough shoulder on Rt 6 that I feel reasonable safe on the road.  This is the shortest route that I can do which is a little over 9 miles long.  For some reason I was thinking the profile would be a lot smoother.  

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Targeted Marketing and Mountain Biking

If you haven't figured it out already I also run CT NEMBA's blog and I find it always interesting to see the type of targeted marketing emails I get from time to time. Yesterday, I received one for the 2010 UCI Mountain Bike & Trial World Championships at Mt St. Anne in Quebec and this email from Youths For Understanding Northeast.

What is totally ironic about this piece of UCE is that I participated as a YFU exchange student right after high school, lived in Germany (and still speak the language), and I mountain bike. Now, there is no way they would have known that of me because YFU is thinking that there might be someone out there that mountain bikes that wouldn't mind hosting a student for a year, who happens to mountain bike as well.  See the connection?  YFU probably came across CT NEMBA's blog by doing Google searches for New England and Mountain Biking, and then harvested email addresses.  I wonder if they did this manually or paid someone to do it?  

Phillipp would be the perfect addition to the family and might be an easier sell to the misses than the Swedish, blonde Au Pair I have been asking for the past couple of years. Probably not going to work out, I have three kids already and a fourth might upset the family apple cart.  Any how, while I am all for supporting the sport and I am sure it would improve this potential exchange student's experience here in the US, I don't see why I or we (CT NEMBA) should help out YFU when YFU didn't contact CT NEMBA directly asking for help.  For all I know it could be just another phishing scam.