Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Climbing on the Kona Unit

Another ride at Upper Paugussett again only this time I decided to spice things up a bit and come in from the Pond Brook Boat Ramp and climb up the fire road to the Gussy Trail Head.  Anyone familiar with this route knows these climbs are quite a workout, but the last one, pictured above, is killer.  The picture still doesn't do it justice but it's freaking steep.  I am going to have to come out with the Clinometer and measure how steep it is but I think it's at least a 20% grade.  And the kick in balls is once you clean that there is a second helping of incline following it to the Gussy Trail head.  I cleaned it all today on the Kona.

I still can't get over how much garbage I finding on the trails now.  Today I picked up this Poland Spring bottle, a Bud Light bottle cap, probably belonged to the bottle I found last week on the Gussy, and a water bottle from a bike.  After seeing five riders on the Gussy Sunday, I think Upper Paugussett SF might be becoming a new mountain biking destination.

I found some more cart roads today in the forest that when linked together will make a great loop back for the Gussy.  What that means is if you ride down Gussy and want to loop back this new route allows you to do so without having to stop and turn around.  Just have to work out one section because it's a little steep.  Seeing that I had some time and riding from Pond Brook is a little light in the mileage category, I circled back on the Poly Brody, back up the Gussy and then down the horse trail (yellow blazed).  There is a tree down blocking the trail and then another one further down.  Curse you Irene! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

RbW: 6:00 AM Curtain Call

Got home late from work Monday so I decided I would try a Ride before Work only this time I knew I was going to need some lighted assistance. The ride almost didn't happen because the my headlight wouldn't come on but I turned it off and turned it back on and it finally lighted up. Yikes, hope this doesn't mean the bulb is going.  Found another beer can, this time on the Brody.  Why is it when hunting season opens the number of cans and other offal increases?  This is in the wrong location for the Upper Paugussett Beach so I can only assume it's from the hunters.

Heading up to the Echo Valley lot, I ran into the Hunter Dumper (saw this guy taking a dump in his van a few years back), we chatted and he told me he would be east of the Brody hunting squirrels. Didn't know Squirrel season is this early. Also, it appears that the DEEP came through and took care of the blow downs on Body, too. Now, what did they do with the logs?

Hit the Gussy at about 6:39 AM and I could have ridden without the light but left it on for safety. Didn't see anyone parked on Sanford Rd but you never know if someone walked up from the boat launch. Riding with the light, my new Canari Blaze Orange riding jersey, and my bear bell, even the worms could hear me coming down the trail. Foggy and wet conditions prevailed and I slipped twice on the rocks, near the Taco Stand and tanked it in the Wet Spot. In my quest to find a good route to circle back to Gussy I found another old Forest Road that comes off the Jeep Road! Bingo!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dead Head sticker on a Mountain Bike

Jonesin' for a ride Sunday morning and I figured the only place that would be rideable after the deluge of rain that we got on Friday would be my home stomping grounds. While still pretty balmy out, this is Autumn in New England? I headed out for another installment of the view ain't changing much for the second sled dog ride at Upper Paugussett. The only thing different was today my plan was to do an up and down sticking to the Gussy rather than getting sloppy seconds on the Poly Brody.

Another thing I wanted to do is find a way to circle back onto the Gussy after coming all the way down and I found an old skidder route that could be feasible, except for the fact that in order to line up for it you have to cross through some additional wet areas that I am not too fond of, so not sure at this point whether that is going to work. As I was nearing the Gussy, about 100 meters south of the second log ride, two mountain bikers went by on the trail. That was cool. Then as I was climbing the hill to the second log ride I cam across another rider who I stopped to chat with. He said he heard about this trail from a buddy and now he rides it all the time.
Rounding the bend after the big up and over and riding up through the Taco Stand I came across two more riders, one of which with a Dead Head sticker on his bike. He told me he had heard about the trail from Shawn at Brookfield Bike, who by the way loves the Gussy after recently finding it and tells everbody in the area about the trail.
The Kona was riding nicely today. Got the bar ends to line up and everything felt great. I did, however, take it easy on all the greasy stuff but overall it was a really good ride.  I wondering what would happen if I added some squish.

Taco Bell Trail

I call this trail that because there is a nearby house that reminds of the aforementioned eating establishment.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Back of Al

More Helmet Cam action from the ride at Wadsworth Falls State Park.  Riding Al Tinti's wheel for the most part.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Al's walk of shame

Nice ride this evening at Wadsworth Falls SP in Middletown.  Paula, Al, Art, and myself, all riding 29ers, can you believe it? We set out on a nice leisurely ride hitting the yellow and blue trails, the red trail, wrapping around to the south west on the Taco Bell Trail (I call it that because you pass near a house that looks like a taco bell restaurant - Mission Style with red Spanish tiles) and back towards the main part.  On the way back we took a rip down Alex's trail, a must ride at Wadsworth.

Paula broke off to get the pizza for the CT NEMBA board meeting that we were going to have later that evening and so we want back for a second helping.  After passing an equestrienne we were headed back into the yellow trail when disaster struck, Al ran over a big stick that then got sucked into his spokes and caused the rear derailleur to get wrapped around it.  He was able to get it out and he started walking back towards the lot when he figured he could probably still ride out on one gear.

Caution kiddies don't watch this video if you are at all squeamish and can't stand the sight of broken bike parts. If you want to skip to the gory part go to 0:27 where you see Al hit the stick and then at 2:02 he starts walking out.  At the end of the clip he realizes that he can ride out if he stays in one gear.

Afterwards, Art and I took another loop.  We were looking for the Gravit Cavity but never found it.  We rode out and hit Alex's trail again and passed that same Cyclocrosser that we passed earlier on the same trail. I am loving the diSSent more and more as a geared bike.  Who knows, maybe its just having gears that makes it fun but I am really digging the bike now that I have gears on it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

RbW: Baring the Bells

Orange season came out of no where and if you are going to ride in any state park or forest you'd better be wearing blaze orange.  Hope my white rims aren't mistaken for a running deer.  Headed out to the Gussy again, 4th time this week, and took to the trail on the Kona because it needed some loving, too.  Felt good to be hammering in just one gear.  The only disturbing thing was that break and bar end positioning was off on the right side and it gave me an uneasy feeling, like I was out of balance.  Strongly recommend if you are going to ride in the woods during hunting season to have a bell somewhere on your bike.

Glad to see the equestriennes letting us know that they are using the trails, too.

Got home in time to see the kiddies off to school.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Misfit Psycles diSSent MKIV - Geared!

Lowered the bars, readjusted everything, and tightened it all down and hit the Gussy for the third time this week and OMG, what an awesome bike!  Fast, climbs beautifully and of course with the big wheels rolls over everything smooth as buttah!

While it may seem redundant but I now have two Timbukt2 seat bags, along with a new hand pump gets me to Cosh & Carry status.  Now I can just hop on either the bike and ride without worry whether I have a multi tool or a spare tube.

I decided if I am going to run flat bars I would use my new Ergons and decided to run them the same way as the Cane Creeks on Kona, which is parallel to the road and they are great this way!

I was tempted to hit the second log ride but didn't want to push it.  I did do the new roller that is 30 yards up from the second log ride.  The lead in is a little wonky that I may have to rethink because of the rocks being at funny angles however it's a nice roll and it is probably a good up in the other direction.

Looks like somebody changed the tranny on the second log ride.  I think it's better but didn't try it.  Next time.

I met this guy, Len, from Brookfield that has been riding the Gussy for a couple of months, now.  Showed him a way in which you can circle back on the west side jeep trail and then pick up the Gussy again.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Never leave home without one

That is a hex tool.  Shortly into a Friday RAW at the usual stomping grounds my right grip came loose.  After Wednesday's debacle I decided to try flat bars and ergo grips on the diSSent and immediately figured out what I don't like amount them, they're positioned too high.  That's mainly because I left a lot of steering tube on the fork so as not to limit myself for future applications.  So, I am definitely going to lower the stem at some point to see what kind of difference that makes.

While hunters usually aren't out and about in the evenings, you never know so if my creaking seatpost and handlebars weren't enough to announce my presence in the forest, how about some bells, too!  Another issue I discovered was that my right drop was loose which explains the problems I was having on Wednesday and at Rocky Neck for that matter, too.  As long as I rode in a seated position I was fine but coming out of the saddle and not having enough weight on the drops meant it would pop out of position.  That is the biggest flaw of the diSSent is not having a built in tensioner like my Kona has.  The Steel frame has them but I don't know why the Aluminum frame does not.  I am tempted to try the Steel frame but have heard the bent top tube has a tendency to break.

Still, I was able to ride out on my own power.  Wasn't perhaps the best of rides but at least it was a ride and I got some things accomplished, like cutting some branches on one of the blowdowns on the Poly Brody so you don't have to ride around it.  At some point, the state will probably cut it up to make the road passable but for now you don't have to use the go around.  And I did find a new skinny right off the PB, with a little work will be fun to include on the route.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Orange Season has begun

I completely forgot that opening day of Bow Season in CT is Today, September 15th, which means if you are going to be riding in most State Parks and Forests you'd better be wearing blaze orange or some other dayglo color so you are not mistaken for deer and shot at.  They say bow hunters are pretty discerning in their targets but I have seen that look of desperation in some hunters who need that kill. Summer riding is now at an end.

One thing about yesterday's ride that I forgot to mention, probably distracted due to the 20+ mosquito bites on my ass, was that I kept having an issue with my rear wheel coming lose from the drops.  This happened a few times this weekend at Rocky Neck as well.  I know what I did wrong that is making this happen but what was funny yesterday is when I realized what I had to do and I tried to fix it on the trail is when I got swarmed by all the mosquitoes.  I ended up riding the entire length of the Gussy Trail in the lowest gear.  It kind of sucked but at least the mosquitoes weren't catching up with me and hey, riding beats walking any day.

Got the bike on the stand and I had to take the shifter pod off the bars in order to loosen it when I discovered that the bar clamp could be switched from further in to further out!  Damn, I love SRAM shifters even more and as a matter of fact I did notice that if they were moved a bit more forward it would be more comfortable.  So now I am thinking about switching bars again.  The FUBars are great for straight XC riding but I think I want a little more huckle in my buckle so I am going to flats.  Ideally, I want some flats with a little rearward sweep but I will settle for my Ritchey bars for now.  Just need a new seatpost to get rid of the creak I am getting with the cheapo seatpost I started out with.

Spandex provides no protection from mosquitoes!

Took the diSSent over to Upper Paugussett for a quick RAW.  There was crap dumped in the parking lot at Echo Valley again (a$$holes!) and none of the blowdowns on the Poly Brody have been taken care of.  Then again, I don't think anyone has notified the State of the issue (oops).  There is a go around already formed on the big blowdown and the other which is on the back side of the climb up to the Mulikin Trail is actually challenging but it will need to be moved.  I would have liked to have done it but it was unbelievable buggy out.

With remnants of Tropical Storm Irene still present, Tropical Storm Lee also left her mark.  I am not sure if it can truly be called a blowdown by the looks of the way this tree fell, more like a weight down.  Most likely it was cracked from Irene but the weight of the water from Lee is what must have brought it down.  The irony is just the other day I was thinking about rerouting the trail here anyway so that if rolled the skinny (or not) rather than making the turn to the right I want to go straight then up the slight incline and then play on the rocks a bit back there before tying back in with the benched section of the trail as it descends towards the make shift deer blind.

Improving that corner has also been weighing heavily on my mind and I think I want to straightened it out a bit and make the turn wider, perhaps even berm it.  Never-the-less, I don't think it's safe having the trail run under this tree the way it is right now.  At some point it's going to fall down.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Watson Cycles - Misc

A few more bikes from Watson Cycles that were on display at CT NEMBA's Biketember Fest on Saturday, September 10th.  Above is Andrew Watson's personal Ruination.

One of this cross bikes

And a not yet finished custom bike for his wife!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

29er Single Speeds at Rocky Neck

The bike on the left is a Chumba with an EBB and a Rockshock 100mm
The bike on the right is a Niner Air9 that weighed 18 lbs!

Watson Cycles - Ruination

The Watson Cycles Ruination is one sick bike.  This bike is a belt driven, 650b mountain bike that is so beautiful that if I were to own it I am not sure if I would ride it or just put it up on a wall somewhere and admire it.  Last Saturday, CT NEMBA held Biketember Fest at Rocky Neck State Park and while we were sampling some of BBC's finest selection of hand crafted, NO PRESERVATIVES beer, we got the opportunity to check out  Watson Cycles bikes, an Eastern Connecticut Custom Bike Manufacturer.

Anodized Chris King Hubs and Headset!

Belt Drives are so sexy!

And so are Paragon Drops with built in tensioners!

This is one sweet bike!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mountain Bike of Death

When I saw this guy's gear I couldn't decide whether he was going down hilling or to Deicide Concert.

Apparently, he is a drummer in a metal band and his bike looks like it goes with him to gigs!

The spikes on the rear fender makes be wonder how he rides downhill - Ouch!

Watson Cycles - Great Divide Fat Tire

Watson Cycles, an Eastern Connecticut Custom Bike Manufacturer, was on hand at CT NEMBA's Biketember Fest Saturday, September 10th.  The bike pictured here is the Great Divide Fat Tire Fat Bike sporting 4 inch wheels on 160mm QR axles!

Painstakingly attention to detail with wooden platforms both fore and aft.

Custom Phil Wood anodized purple hubs.  Andrew Watson happens to be a personal friend of Phil and these hubs were made specifically this bike.

Beers and Gears - Helmet Cam

I know it's a little light, that's because I had the exposure set to +2.0 stops by accident. Didn't realize how bright it would be in the woods midday.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Gears and Beers

CT NEMBA's Bikes, Brats and Beers Ride was held on Saturday and it was AWESOME!  We had 15 riders show up for a fantastic 2 hour tour of Rocky Neck State Park, which by the way was holding up nicely after a hurricane and a tropical storm in the past two weeks.  This event came about while I was vacationing at Giants Neck earlier this summer and after settling in at the beach house I went out to the local Packy to see if I could find some BBC (Berkshire Brewing Company) and while the closest Package Store (Divine Wine) didn't carry it, ironically, the owner had been contacted by the local BBC rep about stocking BBC.  

Thom Lamourine, who is local to the area (lives right around the corner in Old Lyme) and a complete bike mechanic wizard and whom I spent a lot of time riding with during the vacation, and I got to talking about trying to do a Mountain Bike Ride event coordinated with a beer sampling (BBC of course) at Rocky Neck.  Since Divine Wine is located across the street from the trail head at Rocky Neck, it was the perfect set up!  

First time out on the diSSent with gears!
Rocky Neck State Park might not be the most challenging of riding locations in Connecticut but it certainly is fun.  We had 15 riders in our group ranging from Free Riders riding monster free ride bikes to rigid singlespeeders on 29er wheels.  Just about every type of bike was represented on this ride, including a full suspension 650b from Jamis!

I was really surprised with the turn out and where everybody came from.  We had people from the western part of Fairfield County (Shelton & Newtown), Oxford, South Windsor, Deep River, Rocky Hill, Middletown, Brewster, MA (I think he was vacationing at Giants Neck this week), and a handful of local NEMBA members!

Steve Eldridge (l) was our ride leader who, along with Corey Stiff and Thom Lamourine, are local CT NEMBA Trail Ambassadors and did a phenomenal job opening Rocky Neck State Park after Hurricane Irene and getting ready for today's ride.

We rode just about everything there was to ride at Rocky Neck.  On the Red and White Trails there were quite a few blow downs and with this big group of riders coming to a halt at the obstruction it looked like a conga line of people trying to get around or under the blowdown.

After the ride we were treated to a beer tasting supplied by my favorite brewery, Berkshire Brewing Company!  We also had frankfurters and bratwurst to go with the beer at the same time drool over hand built bikes from a local bike builder, Andrew Watson, Watson Cycles.