Sunday, October 31, 2010

Teaching my son to ride

My oldest son, Elliot, has Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, which means his optic nerves are under developed and while he can see pretty good, his sight has some limitations like depth of field and peripheral but that doesn't stop him.  Last year he started skiing with the adaptive program at Ski Sundown and he loves that and he is going to do it again this winter.  

We tried riding the rail trail on a bike with training wheels and he was able to do that however he would prefer to not ride by himself and instead ride the trail-a-bike.  I kept asking him all summer whether or not he wants to learn to ride without training wheels and his answer has been flat out, no.  I offered games and various toys that he has to wait for Christmas but he has always said no.

The other day, while driving home from work there was a little bike out at the end of someone's driveway up against a doll house with a free sign on it.  I thought it extended to the bike leaning up against the doll house.  It was dark out when I picked up the bike and didn't notice the envelope attached to the handlebars asking for $5 to left in the mail box until I got it home.  Ironically, the owner of the bike is someone I work with on the Newtown Trails Committee so I emailed her telling her I owe her five bucks but I didn't tell her why.  When she wrote back asking why I responding that I picked up the bike.  She said don't worry about the money because knowing I have it for my boys was good enough for her.

So today I suggested to Elliot that he try riding without training wheels and he said, Yes!  I think what finally gave him the courage to try was the fact that there was a new bike without training wheels and that if he couldn't get the hang of it he could always go back to his bikes with training wheels (he has two choose from).  We tried the hill by the driveway because I read that the best way to get your son or daughter to build confidence in riding without training wheels was let them get used to rolling down a hill first and then tell them to start pedaling.

Initially, he had a hard time coping with the hill, so I ran behind him up and down the driveway a bit before suggesting we try the hill in front of the house, figuring if it was all grass it wouldn't be as daunting.  I think that was what did it.

After a few rolls I told him to try pedaling and he took to it right away but the grass provided too much resistance for him so we went back to the driveway.

We spent the next hour riding back and forth on the driveway.  He still needs to work on turning and braking but that will come with more practice.

Now he loves to ride!

A Gravel Grinder in the works?

While I really love riding the Qball Monster Cross riding opportunities have been non existent.  The 2010 Waterbury, VT gravel grinder happened to be on a race weekend, on vacation during the D2R2, mountain bike festival for the Tour de Roxbury (Invitation only ride, last year's ride), and the Eel (kind of an Alley Cat event but gears are tolerated) was this weekend (can't do Saturdays).  So to spread the lovin' in my stable I have been riding the Qball as a commuter mostly but vow to get it back into some dirt and to do so, I think I am going to create my own Gravel Grinder!  

New saddle on the Qball - Brooks Racer Saddle from a 1972 Peugeot UO-8

On November 11th, Veteran's Day, I am going to scout out what is to be called the Tri-Bury Gravel Grinder.  The three Burys consist of Southbury, Middlebury, and Woodbury (and there is a smattering of Naugatuck in there but we'll just ignore that for now).  The only authority on Gravel Grinders that I have found so far is a blog called Gravel Grinder News and it defines the Gravel Grinder as:

This is meant as a guide for those wondering what makes an event a "gravel grinder".
  • The route under consideration must have over half its distance un-paved. The route can consist of single track, dirt roads, or crushed rock. Pavement is okay, and sometimes it is necessary, but having an event that is predominantly pavement with a few sections of gravel or dirt doesn't cut the mustard. Even if it is like Paris-Roubaix.
  • The route under consideration must have less than half its distance consisting of single track. Just like too much pavement makes a route a road ride, too much single track and dirt makes a route a mountain bike ride. 
  • The route should be predominantly on public roads, although there can be exceptions to this rule. 
  • Ideally, the route should be predominantly crushed rock/gravel. (Obvious!) This is what makes a gravel grinder what it is. While this is true, farm roads and dirt double track, or even Jeep roads could figure into this equation. 
You'll notice I didn't say anything about competition. That's because it isn't necessary for having a gravel grinder.

So the route that I am thinking will be a combination of gravel railtrail, dirt roads, some road riding, singletrack, dirt railtrail and paved railtrail.  I have done a map reconnaissance of the route but now I am going to spend a day checking out the route.  There is one section in Woodbury that I have never ridden before that might have a nice nugget of dirt road.

Gratuitous product placement 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday Moo-rning Commute

Commuting Friday morning was a little shocking with a twenty degree difference in outside morning temperatures from just a few days ago.  Even the cows on Sugar Street were huddled up for warmth.  Still, proper preparation is always key to a successful morning commute.  I went with a warm layer between a riding jersey and jacket, cold weather riding gloves, tights, cold weather booties and an ear band.  Two days ago I was wearing shorts, fingerless gloves, long sleeve and a short sleeve riding jerseys and my summer shoes.

Despite the cold morning I was have having fun on the Qball Monster.  It's such as a solid bike and I love riding it, although it's getting a bit long in the tooth.  I almost have 1000 miles on it, 3/4s of which are trail miles and the frame is strong as ever.

After visiting the cows on Sugar Lane, the sun peaked out for a brief moment and I was able to capture some incredible fall foliage shots of the ridge line behind the Ferris Farm.  It was like the ridge was on fire.

I learned a lesson riding home.  Ride with the same kit in the afternoon as you rode in the morning with!  I guess you could say that looks were deceiving Friday afternoon.  It was sunny and 55 degrees but at 4:30 PM it started to rain, just a passing shower according to Wundermap, and so I hit the road in shorts, a long sleeve jersey, fingerless gloves and my riding jacket.  After the first mile I put my cold weather gloves on and I was thinking about adding another layer up top but I don't think I was going to be able to get the tights on.  I pressed on, caught the briefest of rain showers, saw a double rainbow

The rain delay also meant getting home later than I wanted and adding to that I took the longer way home, too.  However, looking back on that decision, it was a wise move because if I had taken the shorter way home I would have hit the rain squall that produced the double rainbow and soaked my neighborhood.  When  I got home the roads were pretty wet and slippery.  Riding that way would have been a little treacherous.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Look, there is Xar in my Car!

My eyes have been opened up to a dearth of biking information since I started playing around with Twitter.  You may have noticed that I am tweeting as well, or snackage, sneeking.  Anyway,  I am following some bike manufacturers and this one blog that tweets called BikeRumor.  One tweet I followed was on a new line of helmets from Giro. The beginning of the post talks about a an Urban Styled Bad Lieutenant type of helm (see these on kids at the slopes during the winter) which are not my thing but scrolling down the post I came across Giro's 2011 product line called the Xar.  Following in the footsteps of their other three character helmet lines (Zen and Hex), the addition of the Xar reminds me of a Dr Seuss book I read to my kids called There is a Wocket in my Pocket

The helmet looks like a blend of the Athlon and the Hex.  The only difference I can see between the Zen and the Xar is ovalized vents versus longer, thiner vents.  All three helmets are touted as All Mountain helmet with the Hex being the more economical (cheaper) of the three.

Other similarities and differences are:
Zen:  17 vents, RocLoc4 fit system, MSRP $130.
All-Mountain, MTB Trail Ride, Super D Racing
Hex:  21 vents, RocLoc5 fit system, MSRP $90
All-Mountain, MTB Trail Ride, MTB Endurance/Marathon
Xar:  17 vents, RocLoc5 fit system, MSRP $130
All Mountain, trail riding, Endurace/Marathon XC, Super D

So the Xar looks like an updated Zen and it's the only one that comes in Orange.  Hopefully, Santa will ensure there is a Xar on my Har (hair in German) around Xmas time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mountain "Commuter" Bikes

A nice collection of mountain commuters were locked up at the Bike Rack on 46th and Park, including my favorite Red Line, 29er, Dingle Speed (click link for a previous write up on this bike) Commuter,  and the third bike over is yet another Monocog, only a 26er.  These bikes are regulars here.  The last bike, I think is a Gary Fisher but I didn't have a chance to look at it closer because I was walking with a work colleague and my boss and it would have looked dorky it I was fawning over these bikes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Balmy Commute

Left the house at 6:30 AM and opted for the long route (14 miles) to work, which is ride through town and then out on Sugar Street (Rt 302).  I rode the Stinson because the Lambert is on the DL due to a stripped crank shaft.  The Stinson is a smooth ride but I can still feel the effects of a smaller frame and not being able to really let loose like I could with the Lambert.

It was pretty eerie out this morning.  In low lying areas it was foggy and quite chilly but once out of the fog it must have been around 65 degrees.  The roads were wet but I didn't feel a thing with my fenders.

The sun wasn't up so I rode with two lights this time.  The planet bike light mounted to the bars and my off road light on my helmet.  The helmet light was kind of overkill but I think it really made my presence known.

Great cycling weather!  On the way home, it was threatening to rain and in fact I think it might have been misting a bit so I took the 11 mile route home.  On Friday, I am going to ride the Qball Monster.  I need to 8 more rides to break commuting 500 miles for this year.  I am going to try and get half of them this week and next.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Buy my Fixed Gear!

1998 Marin Stinson, former comfort bike, now tried and true fixed gear commuter.  18" frame.  Origin 8 saddle and Gary Bars (flared drops), front brake, Sugino Cranks, KMC chain, new bottom bracket, 50mm RST fork, 700x38c tires.  Great commuter and rail trail bike.  $300, OBO.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hope your life insurance is paid up!

Avon, CT from the Pinnacle

CT NEMBA and REI held a joint Trail Maintenance day at Penwood State Park, which is on the Talcott Mountain Range that separates the Farmington River Valley from the Connecticut River Valley.  After working on the trails for a couple of hours and big lunch provided by the Flat Bread Pizza Company in Avon Tren, Glenn and myself headed out for a ride along the ridge over looking the Farmington River Valley.  

Paula riding a new section of the trail

We ran into Paula Burton, who was responsible for designing a trail re-route on the yellow trail in which we worked on.  She wanted to try the new trail and then headed home.  We continued on towards the Pinnacle.

Tren riding up to the Pinnacle

At the Pinnacle some walkers were kind of enough to take a picture of us.  Then I reciprocated and took one of them with their iPhone.  They were a little nervous at the cliff's edge for the photo just as Glenn was in our group shot.  It's a long drop.

Left to Right:  Glenn, me, Trenn

Approaching the Pinnacle

The Dillinger atop the Pinnacle

We rode the Yellow Trail and then took the Orange Trail.  Hooking back around we followed an old cart road but missed a turn that would have put us on some singletrack.  We also found a bootleg trail which had green spray paint blazes.  Glenn and I rode a section of it and it was laid out nicely but we figured that it must connect to the Blue Trail and didn't take it any further.  The unfortunate thing at Penwood is there is only one trail to and from the Pinnacle.  To work in a complete loop you would have to ride one of the formerly paved access roads.  We opted to ride the Yellow trail in reverse, and ride the reroute again.  It's funny how re-riding trails in the opposite direction is a whole new experience.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Friday Fix: Centurion Ghetto Fix

Had to go to NYC the other day for work and came across this Centurion right outside Grand Central. There were a few other fixed gears chained to sign posts around the station. One was black with riser bars and white letters on the downtube spelling MOTH. Half of the "H" was obscured so it could have said MOTHER but I don't the F word would have fit.

I call it a Ghetto Fix because the bars have no grips and the double chain ring.  Love the one brake.  The Moth bike was set up similarly.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Partageons le plaisir de rouler en grandes roues a la nuite!

A little RAW in the Fall with a friend from work.  He brought his dogs along and they were really well behaved.  Stayed with him and didn't really run too far away the whole time.  Felt good to get a little saddle time this evening because I am not riding much this month.  Work has me all over the place so I can't cycle commute and weekends are full of activities.  I could ride early in the morning but the thought of being in a nice warm bed as opposed to freezing my ass off in 32 degree temps is an easy battle to lose.

Good thing we had lights!  Stephen puts his on from the begging but I waited until I felt it was too dark to see the trail.  Riding this trail at night was tough because with the leaves down I lost the trail a few times.  Still it was a blast and I almost feel human again.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I love my Ho ... e!

While I could have been riding this fine, warm Sunday morning I instead chose to help Paula Burton build a new trail at Seth Low Pierpont State Park in Ridgefield.  Actually, DEP contacted Paula this spring to see if she would like to do a really large trail reroute for this one trail.  The problem being that the bridge (pictured above) needed to be dismantled after someone fell off it and not to mention this part of the trail, after crossing this stream, went through more swampy areas.

Paula, with the help of Dave Francefort redesigned the trail to bypass the dilapidated bridge.  The new trail descends along a small ridge to pick up the white trail that leads back to the main parking lot.  What I don't know at this point is whether Paula is planning connecting the white trail to the other side of the white trail so that you can complete a loop back to main parking lot.  I am sure this is the case.  

Dave and I spent a lot of time benching.  In fact, that is all we did for three straight hours!  My Rogue Hoe is an incredible benching tool.  It cuts through the duff like it was butter.  Dave showed me a new technique in which you use the McCleod not only to tamp the tread way but also on the steep angled part of the bench cut.  It really tightens up the look of the trail.