Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Schnee Wald-o

To make up for missing Monday Spin (last minute lunch time meeting) I met a colleague from work, Stephen (below) across the Housi in Southbury for a little evening snow shoe.  We weren't the first ones through and it was probably a good thing because the couple of times we bushwhacked Stephen's dogs had a hard time following us in the deep snow.

They were happy dogs and moderately well behaved, although the younger of the two, Maverick, did try to hump my leg a few times, while Merlin, the older dog wasn't so rambunctious.  But for the most part they stayed between us, usually in single file kind of like sled dogs but following very closely.  If the lead dog would stop, the trail dog got a snoot full doggy ass.

Seventeen degrees out this evening that didn't matter with the gear I was wearing.  By the time we got back to the cars I was soaked.  My new boots that got the other day are incredibly warm, maybe too warm!  This was my longest trek yet, 3 miles, and it was a blast.  

Shoeing at night is incredible.  While there was no moon, I only needed my HID on low.  I did have a flashlight on me in case my battery wasn't as charged as it should have been.  I did try a little night snow shoeing around the house last night, too, but it lasted fine.

Friday, January 21, 2011

diSSent on my third 29er

Head badge
I didn't by this frame for the head badge but it does look pretty cool.  I bought this frame after years of wanting one and finally after getting the opportunity last fall to test ride one I was convinced that this is the bike for me.  Features that sealed the deal include paragon style drops, 6061 aluminum, short chain stays and wheelbase, and price.  Normally a $450 frame, there was a special for $200 off!

Not waffling between SS and Geary this time.  This is a pure SS frame, although you can get geary drops but where you would put the cables?


Monday, January 17, 2011

Insanely great classical XC Skiing at Fairfield Hills

If it wasn't for the snow shoe tracks already in the snow Saturday afternoon would have been a slog fest.  I started out by Newtown's EOC and where the Recreation Trail starts and hooked into a nicely compressed track made by snow shoes.  There was another XC skier through here as well and I was able to really get moving.  That is of course until I hit the woods paralleling the Rec Trail.  The track got all twisty and turning which made it difficult to get a really good glide.  The track even disappeared half way up and I even crossed over to the other side to see if they went that way but they did not.  They must have taken the Rec Trail up to the Green Trail.

I was the first to bust a track on the old road that comes off the Rec Trail and connects with the Green Trail.  Skiing in three feet of snow is brutal and I was wearing my snowshoeing pants without my gaiters because they wouldn't fit and my ankles got cold pretty quick.

The Green trail on top of the ridge was really nice and through here I was able to really get moving.  It was great all the way around to the other side but then the snow shoers went an odd route that was tough to follow.  Then they went down the steep hill that I didn't want to attempt so it was back to busting my own track again.

I came out on the horse trail that goes through the fields.  It looked like another XC skier might have headed down the trail towards the base of Yahoo Hill because the daylight was waning.  It appears that the snowshoers tried to stay in snow as much as possible trying to avoid crossing the road but I didn't think I had enough time to follow that track by this time so I busted some more of my own track and then found the snowshoe track again.  I followed that all the way back to may car.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Snow Shoeing Point of Rocks Open Space

Since riding is not happening, the next best thing is to either go snow shoeing or XC Skiing. I decided to try and get two for price of one, snow shoeing at Point of Rocks and XC Skiing at Fairfield Hills. I headed over to the Newtown Open Space off of Deep Brook Road (parked at Dickenson Park) around 2 PM, got suited up and headed up the trail. It was all virgin powder.

I lost the trail a few times on the flat section between the Deep Brook Road and the power lines mainly because it's poorly marked, but once at the stonewall I knew the [proposed] trail like the back of my hand. I have been trying to get approval for a modification of the existing trail so that it's sustainable, rather than having the existing trail go up and down a fall line, but the Town Conservation Commission has been having a hard time approving it. I think the mistake I made is including the existing trail in the proposal. Once I take that out of the equation, I don't think there will be any issues.

The climb up the switch backs that I have laid out were nice. Half way up I had to shed a layer and open all the vents because I got really hot.  It was nice coming back and seeing the place equalized by the snow.  Existing trails/old paths really stand out in the snow.  While the Point of Rocks trail from Deep Brook Road to Point of Rocks Road is one 7 tenths of a mile, the idea is that the other 100 or so acres that the town now has rights to can be opened for trails.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Will we ever see the ground again?

The last time I was on my bike was the Tuesday after Christmas and it being now mid January, this is the longest I have gone without riding a bike in the past two years!  I have gotten spoiled with our past Southern New England winters being much more dryer but this year the snow fall has been incredible.  My wife gets the credit for these pictures because I was actually in Baltimore last week while New England got yet another pounding of snow.  29" on top of the 15" we got the past Friday means it could be awhile before the knobbies ever see any dirt.

Last year, we got a few snow storms that ranged between 10 to 15 inches but after a few rides down at Trumbull, riding in the snow was fantastic.  That's where I was doing most of my winter riding.  After last Friday's storm, however, Trumbull was not rideable.  But it's not all doom and gloom because I have been doing a lot of XC Skiing and snowshoeing.  I might not be riding trails but I am still enjoying them.

My kids have been loving the snow, especially with two days off from school.  We have a nice sledding run where the front walk used to be and the snow piled 7 feet high back by the garage.  Today, I had to dig through that 7 foot high pile to get into the back yard and dig a path for heating oil delivery guy.  I made a path for him but then decided to clear off a section of the back deck because he is going to be post holing regardless.  I imagine we'll have piles of snow melting until April.

My other two kids wading through the snow to the swing set

My 5 year old is standing

Sunday, January 09, 2011

M-M-M Monster Cross!

The Qball Monster Cross is finished and ready to ride!  Question is, when?  When I first put the FMe bars on the bike and sat on it, it felt like the stem was too long but after a little test ride in the driveway it felt OK.  I am going to try a shorter stem.  I am hoping by next weekend people will have ridden at some of the more popular riding areas like Huntington and Trumbull and that there will be some nice trails to try this out on.

While riding around the driveway, however, I could immediately tell the difference/advantage these bars have over the Salsa Woodchippers.  The same leverage is there but so are the brakes.

If the opportunity arises, some Orange Blunts will look really nice on this bike and mesh nicely with the style of riding I am going to be doing with this bike.  I don't like changing tires and tubes, so the other day I picked up another disc wheelset for a really nice price that I am going to rig up with my pair of KendaKross tires.  So, all I need to do is switch out the wheels and now I have a commuter, kid puller, and gravel grinders!  4 bikes in one!

That was one of the reasons why I went with the Qball frame in the first place because I knew at some point I would want to try gears on it and who knew that it would actually be so versatile!  I guess that is one of the things I love about riding the big wheels.

Right now, it's rigged as a 2x9 but at some point I may even go back to a 3x9, depends on how much of particular style of riding I am going to do on it.  What I could see happening is during race season, the only use it's going to get is commuting and pulling the kids.  Then come fall, I will be choosing it to ride off road more often.  We'll see.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Insanely light snow at Fairfield Hills

I knew that if I didn't go this morning I would be able to ski at all in the fine, fresh powder that got dumped on us here in New England.  The original forecast called fro 6-7" of snow but we ended up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 15"!  Driving home from work was fun last night but I left late enough that I barely saw anyone.

I got to the cul-de-sac at 7:30 am and quickly got ready, I got my gaiters and boots on at home to save time. Driving in XC boots is not that hard, granted there is an extra have inch of material sticking out of the front of my boot.  Yes, I still have 75mm, 3 pin bindings.  Heck, these Kneissel skis I have had since I was 16!.  However, with all the preparation, it was still a lot colder than I expected on my feet and fingers than I expected.  I planned ahead, however, by wearing liner socks and over mits but my feet and fingers still got cold.

In fact, I almost bagged it not quite into the first mile because the toes on my right foot were absolutely freezing but when I started climbing my feet warmed up and that was that.  While I was the first to bust this track it appeared that someone was out the night before.  I tried following their track in the lower fields but lost it at Keating Lane.  They probably used the roads last night because the town probably hand not come back through for another plow.

Don't go that way unless you want to ski thru some Horse Biscuits

Paralleling the Recreational Trail was haphazard again.  I followed some deer paths, made my own paths, and skied along side the paved trail, which was plowed.  Finally I got to the old trail/road that led up to the Green Trail that starts at the water tank.  Still, it was still a slosh fest being the first one through.

The whole back 40 was completely untouched save for a few deer tracks.  Following the trail was difficult, too, because I was trying to stay straight as possible.  At the cut off that leads back out to the fields, I stayed to the right and continued following the orange tape and green spray paint sploches.  It was a big descent and to back there after today, I think I would rather climb that than try to ski down through there because it's kind of steep.  

Finally, just south west of the corner of Wasserman Way and Nunnawalk Rd I found this sign for Yahoo Hill.  

Here is a panorama shot looking north over Wasserman Way.  The hills in the background is the Ridge Line where Old Green Rd passes.

Finally got a decent track with the Lowrance Sierra.  I overlapped it again with the GarminEdge 705 and it was spot on!  Red is the Garmin and Blue is the Sierra but there is hardly any variance.  Looks like batteries were the issue.  Here is an interactive view of the route that I found with this new website competitor to MayMyRide called RideWithGPS.

New home for the Blunts!

After a test ride last October at Bear Brook State Park, I got an offer I couldn't refuse on the next frame I am going to race/ride on in 2011 and maybe many years to come.  While every wannabe mountain bike racer dreams of the elusive free bike and associated gear, until you get that opportunity, the peanut gallery that I find myself in has to take any opportunity I can find.

Photo credit:  MisfitPyscles
When I saw the Misfit Psycles Newsletter in my email inbox Friday morning with the offer of getting this frame at $200 off the regular price, I said to myself Happy Birthday!  My birthday happens to be next month so I pulled the trigger!  Yes, the MK IV is the penultimate version which means the mad scientist of PsycleLabs must be planning a MK V (Go Speed Racer, Go!  Never saw the movie, but loved the cartoon when I was a kid) version soon.

While I had envisioned getting a custom paint job, price is paramount in the peanut gallery, and besides everything goes with black so seeing that the Blunts are greenish, almost chartreuse looking, I have always liked anything green on black.  I am thinking of going with the new Avid BB7s and Clark Cables (because they have a matching Green), but that's probably going to be it as far as color matching goes.  I just have to work out how I am going to buy a squishy fork.  We'll see about that, I am not sure I need two aluminum single speeds in the stable.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Are you kidding me?

I noticed two piles of Horse Biscuits on the Recreational Trail at Fairfield Hills on Monday in which one pile preceded the other pile which means the riders didn't curb their horses when they stopped for a break. Or it was while in motion which means the trailing rider surely must have seen the lead horse unload, yet do nothing about it? Come on Equestriennes! You hide behind the fact that it's just chewed up grass but what else do you feed your horse?  No matter what it is, it's still shit and I don't want to step, ride, or even have to worry about almost stepping in your shit! Get off your high horse (pun intended) and kick that shit off the trail!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Insanely Poor Snow at Fairfield Hills

Had a little time to kill today between dropping off the Qball at the bike shop and getting the kids off the bus so I thought I would bring the skis and see what all the warm weather and rain did to the snow at Fairfield Hills.  Around my house we have tons of snow, however, it's pretty well shaded and takes a while to melt but up at the old Mental Hospital Complex, it's very exposed to the sun and subject to a lot quicker melting than what we get around here.

The good snow was mostly in the woods but there were still patches in the fields that made it fun.  Being out in the open, however, meant being subject to the winds which made the conditions a lot different from last week.

I found these trail markers in the fields on the eastern portion of the property that I think are part of the last Hunter Pace to have taken place at Fairfield Hills.  It's something to think about doing for an idea I have for this place concerning XC Skiing in the future.

I couldn't find any snow that connected this lower field from where I came on the back trails so I had to pop off the skis and walk a 100 yards to the lower fields.  I felt shameful and likened the experience to riding on the road with my mountain bike.  But the lower fields were great.  I criss crossed them and snowplowed down to the bottom of the field and then cut across to where I parked.

The snow was rock hard through here.  It would have been nice to have some edge but I had to make do with what I had (30 year old cross country skis) and I made it without falling.

When I got back to the car I checked the Lowrance, didn't take any chances this time and brought the Garmin, too, and I found it off again.  Once I got home, I put new batteries in it and found that it died 3/4s of the way through the trip, so I should have checked the batteries.  Still, that doesn't explain why it didn't work the last time.  The only thing that I can think of is that quite possibly it lost signal while I was walking through the woods, they were kind of dense and mostly evergreens.  Maybe, if it loses signal and can't require it figures it shouldn't waste anymore battery so it shuts itself down.  If that is the case, then that's mega stupid.  

Above are the two tracks in comparison.  Red is the Garmin and Blue is Lowrance.  Somehow, I am not surprised at the variance between the two because the Lowrance was in my pack and more vertical on the Garmin was in cell phone pouch perched on my shoulder.  The last time I did a comparison like this the Garmin was on my stem and while the Lowrance was in my pack, when I ride I am bent over the frame, thus putting both GPS' at the same angle to the satellites..

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Cyclesnack hits 100,000!

This happened this evening, approximately at 9:57 PM on 1/2/2011

Can I be anymore Blunt?

But these wheels are hawt!

If I can't ride due to the conditions, then the next best thing is to do bike maintenance!

I put on the rear Velocity Blunt so everything matches now.