Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Riding with my daughter at Giants Neck

After riding Rocky Neck, my daughter and I rode Giants Neck, where we are spending the week on the beach.  In fact, the house we rented is about 20 yards from the beach and has an excellent view of the water.

Giants Neck looks like many summer vacation cottages that are slowly transforming into make overs for summer rentals.  The house that we are renting is now rented all year.  Our rental located across the street from one of three private beaches, which is only 20 yards away and basically the house overlooks the water.  Nearby is Rocky Neck State Park, where I have already been mountain biking, which has a really big beach and camping area.

This was Katie's longest ride on her bike, 4.5 miles.

Granted, it didn't have any trails but it was beautiful none-the-less.  There are some really nice looking homes on Giant's Neck.

There is something really intriguing behind the house we are renting.  It's a road cut through the ridge that makes up the peninsula that makes up Giants Neck.  It makes absolutely no sense.  There are no houses on this section of the road which led me to believe that it must have been part of a trolley line or perhaps a spur line that would bring passengers to Rocky Neck State Park.

It just looks too much like a railroad went through here!

According to the East Lyme Historical Society, there was a single track running through Rocky Neck State Park before it was a park:

 In 1852, a single track was cut through the property for the new railroad.   This was widened and realigned in 1889, and the stone excavated from the ledge to accommodate the new tracks was used to build a pier for the quarry operation.
The Railroad cut through Giant's Neck looks like it could only accommodate one track but then again trains back then, while still using standard gauge were a lot smaller back then then they are today or even in the 1930s.  I say this because if you look at the maps below, the top map is from the 1893 Groton topo, UNH LIBRARY, Government Information Dept. Historic USGS Maps of New England & NY, compared to the 1938 topo clearly shows the tracks moving further north.

Another day in Geared Paradise

Needed to stay local on Tuesday so I headed over to Rocky Neck State Park where I met Thom on the trails for another tour of Rocky Neck.  My last visit here was in about 6 inches of snow around Christmas.  On the way there from where I was staying in Giants Neck there was this bike at the trail head that looked pretty sweet, but my kids have enough bikes.

I brought the Helmet Cam and took some videos riding.  There isn't anything too difficult at Rocky Neck.  There are some great rock features, too.  Unfortunately, quite a few of the trails need to be cut back as you can see in this next video what happens to my camera after not bending low enough to go under a particularly low hanging Mountain Laurel.

Watch out for Doggers (above) and Joggers (below).  If you stick to the single track, however, you won't see a sole.

While it's hard to see, looking down, the camera really kills depth perception, but it's about a 30 foot drop down the side of this cliff.  Thom calls it the Cliff Side Ride and there are some fun rollers on this trail, too.

On one trail we found an old, rotted tree blocking the trail we got to work lowering the log so it could be a nice up and over.

If you don't have saw, use your body weight!

Or brute strength

Not being a frequent rider of these trails but enjoy their flow, I wonder if this should just be removed so you can enjoy the flow.

Great view but the slick rock is closed to bikes in the Summer - that looks fun!

Another balance rock.  There is a nice series of rollers from here down to the main trail.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why am I riding a singlespeed again?

My whole 29er experience, since 2006, has been riding singlespeeds.  For the past three years I have been racing only singlespeeds, too, but ever since CT NEMBA's Happening at Huntington a couple of weeks ago and demoing two outstanding bikes, the Lynskey Pro29er and a Carbon Fiber Gary Fisher Superfly, and now riding my own geared 29er, which used to be a singlespeed, I can't believe what I have been missing.

I used to say that riding a single speed was so much easier because you don't have to worry about what gear you are in, however, I think it's quite the opposite.  While riding a single speed, I spend a lot of time mentally planning how I am going to ride a particular trail or climb a hill, but geared you just down shift when it gets harder to pedal and up shift when it's easier, meaning you get to enjoy more of the trail!  I guess now I have to figure out how to get a full suspension 29er!

I got to really test out the Dillinger while riding Haley Farm and Bluff Point with Thom, the guy who got the Dillinger running with gears and holy cow, what a fun bike!  Riding a 29er with gears is soooo much fun!  Climbing is just insane and I am only pushing a 1x9.  The bike has so much get up and go!  I will probably keep riding SS for racing but when I am just riding for fun, the go to bike is going to to be the Dillinger!

Here is today's route.  12 Miles!  This place is AWESOME!  Buff Singletrack; technical singletrack; no fall line climbs; rollers, rollers everywhere; skinnies; just freaking awesome singletrack!

After crossing the tracks and riding along side of them this area looked like it might part of an old rail yard.  So, I went to the UNH LIBRARY, Government Information Dept. Historic USGS Maps of New England & NY, and took a look at the 1938 topo of New London (pictured above) and you can see not only was there a huge rail yard there but it even had a round house!  Now I really want to come back in the fall or winter to see if there are any old foundations, especially of the round house and the turn table.  The funny thing is one topo shows all this, and the next one from the same year does not.  The first one that shows the yard was done in 1934 and the second one was revised in 1949, my guess is all the iron for the rail yard was probably used for the war effort.

Gang Green at the Bluff

The Point

Pretty far down

Balance Rock

Looking down the roller at Balance Rock

Happy 29ers
The ride was awesome and I had so much fun that now I want to ride everything that I have been riding lately on the single speed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

29-29-20 on the Colchester Spur of the Air Line Trail

After driving all the way up to Willimantic from Niantic via Colchester looking for Friendlys to have dinner, because that was promised to the boys in order to go trail-a-biking we headed back down Rt 66 to Rt 85 where we picked up the Colchester Spur of the Airline Trail.  First ride on the Dillinger since the conversion to gears but it wasn't going to be true test, afterall this is just a rail trail.

It was a good ride with the usual brotherly infighting and tom foolery.  We did go through a wet stretch in which Brodie got a lot of mud in the face due to no fender up front and Elliot got a nice skunk strip up his back.

Of course, getting them to pose for a picture is always a challenge.

Still, any ride with the boys is fun, even in the trail is a carpenter's dream!

Gears with all the Soul Cycles Dillinger 29er

While staying in Niantic over the weekend I let the CT NEMBA Web Admin from Old Lyme go over the Dillinger since Dr Mike thought that the derailleur cage was bent.  Thom is an absolute fanatic when to comes to everything about 29ers and his bike ans since he sold me the derailleur, he wanted to take a look at it, since it was brand new.  Thom confirmed in text that it was not the derailleur that was the problem, rather the 5 speed chain I put on it.  Ooops, looks like I didn't look at it too closely.

While test riding it he found some other issues with the cables and replaced them, too!  Now my white cables have been replaced with dayglo green, too bad those radiator fluid green Ergons of mine bit the dust (warranty'ed them) because they would be a perfect match for these cables.  He did an insanely awesome job!

It's a whole new bike!

Only thing I need now is a second cage and a down tube mounted pump and I will be golden!

Ride report coming after Tuesday's ride at Bluff Point.

My first 29er with gears - yikes!  Funny, I have always ridden my 29ers as singlespeeds but after The Happening at Huntington two weeks ago, and perhaps my age, gears seam to be more appealing now.  To round out the stable all I need is a full susser and all steel, unsuspended rig.  And here I was going to sell this last month but now I have a new toy!