Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some sweet Italian Leather for my fourth point of contact!

One of my buddies remarked when I first showed the Bianchi sporting a Brooks Saddle that I needed some sweet Italian Leather for this bike so I picked up this nice, older model Vetta saddle for the bike and this is the first opportunity I have had to show it off.  If you are a regular reader of Cyclesnack you know that I had Arthoscopic surgery on my knee two weeks ago and the healing process has been going very well.  Unlike my wife who had major knee surgery almost two months ago (she doesn't even ride) and couldn't walk for a week, I walked immediately following the procedure and have been on hobbling around ever since.

However, this morning, I threw a leg over the Bianchi and took a few strokes.  That first pedal stroke was an eye opener to say the least but after that it started to feel better.  I only pedaled for 5 minutes and it was gingerly at best, however, someone mentioned just today after hearing about this event that I should really try pedaling out of the saddle to make the hip and upper thigh muscles do more of the work.  So, I am going to have to try that, maybe later today.

Closing out 2011, there were a lot of changes in my biking.  Added some bikes to the stable, including the Bianchi, Misfit diSSent, Kona Unit, and the Ross Riveria.  Leaving the stable (see former lovers) was the Dillinger, the Death Fork (Lambert Grand Prix), and the beloved Marin Stinson.  Also picked up two frames this year that I am still in the process of acquiring parts for their builds, a Centurion Ironman Dave Scott Expert and a Spot Longboard 9.  All I need for the Spot is a Drive Train and I will start the build.  Since getting the Bianchi I am now up in the air on what to do with it.  I have fixed gear wheelset that I got last year so I am thinking this is going to be my next fixed gear project.

I didn't hit my riding goal this year, though.  I was shooting for 1000 miles commuting and 750 mountain biking, with a total goal of 2000 miles.  Last year's winter snows hampered some of that, blew my mountain bike training and I stopped commuting about summer time this year because work got too busy and then they closed the gym.  So, next year I am going to shoot for the 2000 mile mark.

Happy New Year and keeping riding!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What was I thinking?

Last week I decided to make over the Ross Riviera but first getting a new stem and putting the Gary Bars on the bike, however, none of the stems I got from the LBS would work with them so I settled for some old school Nitto 3 speed bars flipped.

The mistake I made was putting on a 44t Crank when I installed an 18t fixed gear cog on the rear wheel.  44:18t would be way to light for rail trails and regular road riding, so I put the 52t Sugino crank back on.  A little tedious but the gearing is much better as I have found.

Threw on my Brooks Saddle because I got some fine Italian leather for my Bianchi, as @MMcG recommended.  Also, removed the clipless pedals because I have to ride without them until the knee is back 100%.  I going to try and fit one last big ride in today, the 27 mile Tri-bury Gravel Grinder route but it was way too cold so I chickened out.  

After tomorrow's procedure I hope to be on the trainer by day 2 and thinking about riding the Canton section of the Farmington River Greenway next Monday while the family goes skiing at Ski Sundown.

Friday, December 16, 2011

RbW: Oh Dark 30

Last year about this time it was pretty cold and I think we had some snow but last night being in the 60s I new it would be a nice temperature for a Ride before Work so I got up at 5:30 am and hit the trail.  Not sure what time sunrise was but I never did it see it.  So, basically it was a nite ride, only in the morning.

It was sloppy seconds on the Poly Brody and that is why I rode with a rear fender.  It was marginally effective and turned into a hindrance later while riding the technical sections of the Gussy.  Fortunately, I planed ahead and brought a little bungee cord that did the trick, albeit it made the bike look like a motor bike.

Not sure the rear fender was really worth the hassle because I still got mud on my back side.  Still, it was great to be out riding knowing that after Monday I wont be riding in the woods for at least a month.

I tried something new, shoe covers.  Kept the mud off the feet and the feet never got cold.  Granted I was wearing wool sox.  As for the cleanliness aspect, shoes were already dirty but so I am not sure the covers did any good in that arena.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Randonee: French for can't Mountain Bike

After doing 20 miles and 2000+ feet of climbing on the Monster Cross this weekend on the Roxbury Randonee I figured it was time to spread the love and give the Kona a spin.  In comparisson to the Qball Monster Cross riding the Kona was heaven.  It felt so fast and nimble I was at a loss as to why I took so much time off from this bike.  Oh yeah, the knee.  The Kona just feels right as a far as a Single Speed mountain bike goes.  I think I may need to get one more spin on it before my arthroscopic surgery next week.  The good news is the doctor says I should start pedaling two or three days after the surgery.  Hello trainer, then when I can start riding again looks like I will be riding rail trails for awhile.

While riding Upper Paugussett time and time again may seem old after awhile it's nice being able to just hop on the bike and be in the woods in 10 minutes.  Granted the pedal up the Poly Brody Forest Road is not what I would call the most challenging terrain but it's better than riding pavement.  The real fun is riding the Upper Gussy Trail.  All the recent improvements to the trail are making the ride really flowy and fun.  In fact, those of you that have been riding the Gussy may have noticed that I have started taking out the log overs, like the two at the Cleavage Re-Route and that one where you have turn 90 deg to get over after the climb up from the two stream crossings.  I will probably take a few more out, basically finishing the remaining blow downs but going to keep the ones at the beginning and end of the trail, as well as those that have been around for awhile, too.

The other day a friend of mine hiked all the Blue Trail at Upper Paugussett and sent me the GPS track so I thought I would incorporate it with my ride map to give you some perspective of where the Poly Brody and Gussy Trail.  Although I know some people ride this trail, some of it's considered multi-use and others would say that you shouldn't bike at all on it, my personal feeling is that if it's on public land then it's fair game.  That is of course if it's worthy of riding, personally I think it's a really crappy trail to ride and sections that are so wet that they don't even dry out in the summer.  Apparently, after the stormy weather we had this year this trail has gotten no TM and is absolute crap with blowdowns and blockages galore.  On the other hand, the Upper Gussy and Poly Brody are clear and ready to ride!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Roxbury Gravel Grinder

I was originally planning on riding the Tri-Bury Gravel Grinder Route that encompassed the Larkin Bridle Trail, Hop Brook, Middlebury Greenway, Flanders Nature Center, Woodbury Trolley Trail and Route 6 but then @der_dachs invited me to ride with his group up in Roxbury.  I was hesitant but he convinced me that there would be a mixed bag of riders and I would be OK - they were still really good riders but very considerate and waited for me after the really big climbs.  

What I was expecting was the usual consisting of riding up Judges Bridge to Walker Brook and then cutting over to Steep Rock.  Shooting down the rail trail, through the tunnel and back on Judges Bridge.  I figured my 44:22 gearing on the Qball Monster Cross would be perfect for that ride.  Apparently, I didn't get the email last night saying that they would be riding more difficult terrain.  I wish I had brought the Misfit diSSent and had some gears because it would have been really helpful for the climbs and all the single track we rode.  

The Monster Cross came into it's own on the rail trail between "The Blue Barns" and Minor Bridge, that is until the trail was blocked and we started riding singletrack again.

The cool thing I see in this is riding the singletrack off of Minor Bridge, then ride the rail trail up to Mine Hill, ride that singletrack and then back again.  I could even do that from the house and work in some Newtown rail trail, too!  Oh the possibilities!

A Fetish Position!

One thing is for sure, if ever try this loop again I am going to do so with some better gearing, like a 32:18 or 19.  A 2:1 ratio was just way too tall for many of the climbs on this route.  Of course, maybe I will just do it on the diSSent or the Spot when I get it built.  Either bike would be awesome on this route.  I don't know why I brought the hydration pack.  I could have done with out it, not that it would have helped that much in the climbs but clothing choice was perfect for 20 deg weather.  I did, however, forget to bring my lobster gloves and ended up using my XC skiing gloves that I had in the car.  Hands were fine.  Had neoprene overbooties on, too, with my Shimano Cold weather riding shoes.  I had wicking t-shirt, long sleeve jersey, dry-fit micro fleece and then a jersey for pockets.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Morning in the Orange

Had just enough time for a quick rip at Upper Paugussett State Forest Saturday morning.  Another cold morning so I procrastinated a long time before finally heading out and even then it was still 39 deg out.  Brrrr!  Figured I would just push myself to go as fast as I could but got slowed down on the Gussy with the numerous blowdowns.  Didn't see any hunter's cars in the Echo Valley lot but I wasn't taking any chances so I wore blaze orange.  I probably should have had one more layer on but thought 3 was enough, yet it was still cold.  The one nice thing about riding right now is there is no snow here in Connecticut.  Great for riding but bad for the local ski areas.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Pedaling to Nowhere

What luck, first the new bike and now the trainer.  After learning the good news from the Orthopedist in that I should be able to start pedaling two days after the surgery (yet to come) I bought my first trainer.  I only spent around $100 and to quote popular cliche, "you get what you pay for."  Damn, it is loud!  I think I might have to try headphones next or ever pedal with the iPod but the beauty of pedaling in the mancave/garage is that I have satellite radio and can listen to Howard Stern, Liquid Metal, a football game, or a bevvy of other channels. 

DIY Bike Thong
The unit I got is from Gavin.  Never heard of them before but apparently they make bike parts, too.  I liked this one because it was a package deal and came with a wheel holder and a tensioner.  There was a spare skewer but I used one of me.  It took just a few minutes to set up and off I was pedaling like a gerbil in the Habitrail exercise wheel.

A little encouragement - the light at the end of the tunnel
There are 4 hand positions on the Mustache bars.  They are really comfortable and I plan on getting more for the next build, which will probably be a make over on the Ross once I get a stem that fits.  I worked out today with the car out of the garage but I think I can do with it in.  Which will be good when it's really cold and snowy out this winter.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

1980s Edoardo Bianchi Piaggio

I am still kicking myself for letting that mint 1981 Dawes Galaxy slip through my fingers. My original intention was to put these mustache bars on it, the barcons and red bar tape making an outstanding touring bike.  Instead, I sold it to some guy upstate that probably sold it to some college student.  So, I am making up for that blunder with this 1980 Bianchi Piaggio.

At least that is what I think it is after researching it on the web,  early 80s because model year 84 of this bike is red and all the examples I have seen with chain stays and the fork ends in chrome point to 1980.  Rather that convert it to a fixie, which what I usually would do, I decided to keep this geared so that I can use it on the trainer plus it will be fun to ride on the rail trails and with my boys.

The build was with just about everything on hand, except for the bar tape.  Levers are Cane Creek, not sure where I got them but they work nicely, in fact it's the one nice thing where the cables come out of the top to use with mustache bars.

At some point, I may get some more yellow cable housing for the front brake but for the time being it will stay orange because I ran out of yellow.  Just need to figure out what do about the pedals and get some dry weather to take it out for a spin.

Nothing beats a Brooks Saddle on a classic bike.  Below is what it looked like when I brought it home on Tuesday.  I knew this was a diamond in the rough.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

Last week, while perusing Craigslist I came across a post offering a ton of old parts for $20 and I found out someone just snagged them.  Then last Saturday when I came across an add for 1980's steel lugged road bike that was selling for a nice price but needed a front tire.  I figured this would be the perfect bike to use on the trainer that I will be riding after my upcoming knee arthoscopy.  Trading emails back and forth trying to find out the bike's pedigree I discovered that the deal included Titanium handlebars.  The seller wouldn't sell me the bars individually so I had to take the whole lot.

me:  Shoot me some high res pix?  Like to see the cranks, rear derailleur, brakes and forks.

seller:  those are the only two i have currently on my comp

me:  Do you happen to recall what the name of the bike is and what are the additional parts?

seller:  idk know the model name but it was a mid entry level and i also have the owners manual
but it's not specific about the model is talks about just regular 12 spd road bikes in general.
the extras include titanium flat bars, toe clips, and some other small things

me (to myself):  CHA-CHING!  Titanium!

me:  I am not really in the market for another bike but it has definitely peaked my curiosity because it looks like a nice frame.  

(I hope I am not sending the message that all I am interested in is the Titanium Bars)

What can you tell me about the titanium bars?  How wide are they, do you have the stem shim for it, any idea on the weight?

seller:  they have a plastic shim. they are titec 3/2.5 titanium  hellion. like 1/2 inch risers
really nice. they'd go well with the bike. idk the weight but the width is 26''

Titech Titanium Hell Raiser Bar
me:  Any scratches on the bars?  How much for just the bars?  

(Guess the cat's out of the bag now)

Although, I am thinking I might just take the whole package.  Can you meet this week? 

seller:  im available at certain times. my work schedule is all over. i live by (location) in (location) and am selling everything together. the bars are in great condition and have no scratches. the bike' is really nice especially for the price. let me know what days/time you are available and we can meet

Not a bad a deal, the bike is in really good condition and it will make a perfect trainer.  And now I have Titanium bars for my Spot Longboard build, just need to figure out the gearing:  1x10 or 1x9.  And I have to get some brakes 

Steel lugged frame with a hue of blue similar to that of my Park Tools bike stand.  Rigged as a 6 speed with a BMX 175mm crankset, Origin 8 chain ring, missing a front tire, bare bars, Tektro levers that are compatible with disc brakes!  What a haul!

So the plan is to build this up into a 1x6, maybe go to 2x6 and start doing more road riding.  The Dave Scott Ironman Expert project will take a back burner for now, still dawdling on the repaint job. 

Might go with a bigger front ring like a 52t but going to run the 44 for now with the trainer.

I am on the fence as to whether I keep the Fred Spoke Protector or not.  I think the retro look is cool.  Any guesses on what I have (if we are friends on facebook you response will be automatically disqualified).

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Monday Monster Cross

Went to a 2:1 gear ratio, 44:22t, on the Qball and decided to try it out Monday after work.  It's a lot nicer gearing than what I was pushing, 44:18t, especially in the hills.  I didn't need to climb out of the saddle on most stuff.  I was going to take a run down the Poly Brody but when I dropped my chain at the intersection of Sanford Rd and Echo Valley, I thought better of it.  The 22t I have is an aluminum cog and is pretty worn down  but wanting to try the ratio to see what's like was the real point.  Since I like 2:1 now, I am thinking of trying 32:16t and throwing the bashguard back on.  That way, I could easily go to an 18, 19, or 20t and do some drop bar mountain biking.  Monday's route wasn't very dirty, may 25% was truly non pave.

One woman mentioned to me as she was getting her mail was there was no question of seeing me.  I had front and rear flashing lights and my headlamp on.  It did, however, create some confusion because as I was riding in traffic at the Route 302 intersection with Route 25 I was slowly pedaling behind a car that was turning right onto Route 25.  The driver must have thought I was going to pass on the right so he/she stopped short nearly causing an accident with the van that was behind me.  Later, on The Boulevard some kids yelled at me.  Increadible, two douches for the price of one!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Riding with Rick

Rick met me at the Echo Valley, and like me, he rode from home. He's about 3 miles away and this morning was a little frosty.  We did the usual, start at Echo Valley, head up the Brody, and down the Gussy.  He hasn't been on the Gussy since before the October Snow Storm so all the changes to the trail were knew to him.  The new curve/rerouted section is really sweet, a little mushy on the hump though but that will settle in over time.  We took out the two logs in the cleavage reroute to give that section more flow.

I took Rick on the Loop Around.  He looked a little skeptical, especially as I was knocking down low hanging dead branches where the trail goes.  Rick left on the Jeep trail and I rode back up the Gussy, then down the horse trail and out to the Brody and down to Pond Brook.  The State cut the brush on this side of the forest but left a lot of the cuttings in the middle of the forest road.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Upper Gussy Reroute

For the longest time this turn has been bothering me especially if I am riding at night.  It's just way too sharp of a turn and with the changes in the trail further up doesn't lend itself to the flow that it should have.  So, Saturday morning I headed out with Paula Burton to do some trail work and to fix this part of the trail.  We benched the upper section as it rides along the slope and half of the bigger turn.  I figure the flatter part will mold itself after a while.  Can't wait to ride it!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Friday Night (without) Lights

While I brought the light I got out early enough that they were unnecessary.  While I rode the Poly Brody Tuesday night I didn't see anything because it was dark and raining and the last time I was on the Gussy was over two weeks ago and that was an illuminated assisted ride, as well so it's been awhile since I have actually see anything in the forest.

The entrance on Echo Valley Road and the Poly Brody Forest Road, for that matter, got some brush cutting treatment by the state so that it's now a lot more open.  Looks like there is more firewood cutting going on midday up the Brody.

The first thing I noticed on the Gussy was that someone re-opened the the fall line trail and it now routes around the tree that fell by the Taco Stand.  It has some merit but needs some work on the finish.

Just south of this section there are some nice mounds and exposed rock spines that could make a really nice skill section.  This might be a winter project.

2012 Race/Event Schedule

This schedule assumes that I will be racing next year and right now I am still planning on it, but there are some issues that I have to take care of, namely my right knee.  With arthroscopic knee surgery planned for later this month it's looking like no more riding for the rest of the year, which is only 2 weeks so in my spare time I will concentrate of more improvements to the Gussy Trail and perhaps start on my new trail at Huntington State Park.  This winter is predicted to be milder than last, at least that is what I am hearing but who knows, so I am hoping for better training conditions as opposed to last winter.

4/7 Hop Brook MTB Race - Middlebury, CT
4/22 Winding Trails MTB Race - Framington, CT
4/29 Single Speed Palooza MTB Race - Newburg, NY
5/?? Winsted Woods MTB Race - Winsted, CT
5/?? Norcross Scurry MTB Race - Ashford, CT
5/20 Bloomin Metric - Norwalk, CT (with Katie)
6/3 Domnarski Farm - Ware, MA
6/22 thru 6/24 NEMBA Fest - TBD
7/22 Wrath of Boneyard MTB Race - Meriden, CT
9/30 or 10/7 Fall Fiesta - TBD

The first thing you might notice is that there are a lot of MTB races in CT this year so I won't have to travel out of the state to get my race fix in.  I really want to try the Ashford Race because I hear it's a good Singlespeed course and of course the Wrath of the Boneyard sounds fun, too.  For some reason I really like the Domnarski Farm course because it's one lap of 10 miles, the climbs are really challenging and there is some great terrain changes that make this course one of my favorites, overall.  I have to do Single Speed Palooza and it fits nicely between the Root 66 races, but is the same weekend as Massasoit.  That's a no brainer, 3 hour drive to Taunton, MA or <1 hour drive to Newburg, NY.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Elliot Rides Again

True to his word, my son told me he didn't want to ride without training wheels this summer but he would do so in the fall.  On Saturday, he just picked up his bike and started riding!

Now it's time to increase his wheel size and give him hand brakes.