Friday, March 30, 2012

On the Spot in the Woods

Went for a Test Ride after work on Friday
and all I can say is:
Holy Cow!
This is one sweet ride!

It's the weight!
I rode the Qball geared but it always felt heavy (because it was) but it also seemed clunky.
The Spot, however, is totally nimble, climbs like a goat and is smooth as butter!
Psst:  I think it's the steel frame
That big Racing Ralph upfront, says it's a 2.4 but looks more like 2.5
and rides really nice.
Riding T-U-B-E-L-E-S-S is great, too, because you
can roll at much lower tire pressures
which really softens the ride.

Shifting is really nice and I love the wide bars.  The only thing I am not sure about at this point
is whether to keep the happy barends or to go with something smaller, like another pair of Ergons that are shorter.  I like the different hand positions but what I like the most is just being able to hold the
ends of the bars instead of being way out like the Ergon Leichtbau grips offer.
Don't get me wrong, they are great grips but I for the leverage they offer it's overkill on a geared bike.

The Upper Gussy trail was resplendent today.  The high winds earlier this week blew the trail clean.
I noticed that the Spot handled the trail much better than my other bikes.  This bike is here to stay!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

On the Spot: Tubeless; T-U-B-E-L-E-S-S!

It's done!  After two Skype calls to my buddy in Eastern Connecticut, a pint of 'Gany Lager and listening to a couple of records (yeah actual vinyl) I finished my Spot build Thursday night!

Drive Train:  Race Face Evolve Cranks, Sram X9 rear derailleur, Sram 11 to 32 Cassette, and Crank Brothers Candy 1s.  Adjusting the rear derailleur is always fun but I find once you have the proper cable tension then it's just a little fine tuning and you are all set.

Cockpit:  For now, I am using an old Salsa Moto Ace stem but I like how the red complements the bike.  Yes, those are Ergon Leichtbau bar ends.  Not sure if I need them for climbing but they are super comfortable and a pleasure to ride with.  I went with red cables from Slik, which look orange in the pictures.  The Titec Hellion bars are a little wide so at some point I may cut them down.

Wheels:  Going the weight weenie route, I decided to use the wheelset from the Kona.  Upfront is a Stans Crest wheel and Racing Ralph Tire.  When I pumped it up to 30 psi it blew up like a balloon and looks like a 29x2.5.  

Seating arrangements:  Some carry over from the Kona includes the Terry Saddle, very soft and quite light.  The seat post was the cheapest (because of the coloring - silver) but lightest seat post I could find.  

Suspension:  Mainitou Minute 29er.  I loved it on the diSSent but I think I am going to love it even more on my Spot Longboard9.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dayglo Green, it's my new Orange

While I would have preferred to have purchased the Giro Xar in orange, my second favorite color is just about all variations of green but I didn't by this helmet for the color but it certainly fits.  I bought it for the fit!  What a nice fit and it's a medium, too!  Of course that could all change when I get my ears lowered later this week.

Speaking of orange, I did pick up some nice orange bar tape from the Bicycle Center last week but now I am on the fence on whether to put it on the Qball or not, largely because after selling the diSSent I am re-evaluating my biking needs.  The question I am wrestling with is whether to gear the Qball or not to gear the Qball and get  a cross or hybrid cross bike.  What I really want is a Cannondale XS-800 because that headshok gives me enough squish to take the edge off when on rough terrain and it's the perfect bike for riding the dirt roads and singletrack in Roxbury and Washington, CT.  Also, it would make a nice Rail trail bike.

My quest for this bike almost came to fruition when I found one of eBay but the bidding went beyond what I was willing to pay because the bike was rigged as a single speed.  The other alternatives are the Cannondale Quick CX1, but I am $600 short of that price tag.  The CX3 is doable but it doesn't have a headshok, rather a regular squishy fork and it's really heavy.  Perfect bike, with the exception of the Shimano gearing and flat bars.

The other alternative is the Cannondale Bad Boy but it will have to be a later model, assuming I can find one because 2012s come with a left style shock or none at all.  The Van Dessel WTF is on my mind so I don't know at this point.  Hopefully, something will come along that fits my requirements.

I failed to start working on the Spot Wednesday night.  Instead I cleaned up the Mancave aka Bike Shop aka garage so I could park my car in it once again.  Sprummer seems to have come and gone and now we are back to normal, early spring weather here in New England so I prefer getting into a warmer car than a cold one when I take the kids down to the bus stop.  The only thing we are missing right now is the rain.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Reroutes and more reroutes

Taking advantage of this lovely spring weather I headed out for another rip at Upper P after work.  While it was hot there was a slight breeze at times that made the heat bearable most times, that is if I wasn't climbing.  Took the forest road this time and the tree is still blocking the road so I took the detour only it appears other have found it too and the transition through the stone wall was really sketchy causing me to almost go OTB.  I quickly fixed the situation and continued riding.

Headed back to the Mulikin, which by the way is not a new trail.  In fact, when I first started riding at Upper Paugussett this was one of my main trails.  The Mulikin is a series of skidder paths from earlier logging opperations and an old cart road and by cart I mean horse drawn.  The cart road is too narrow for a modern day vehicle but the interesting thing is that it was engineered, that is graded and benched on steep inclines.  

At the point where I took the picture of the Kona (above), which is a bypass that I have been riding over the years to get around the muddy section of where the white trail comes in, I turned to my left and saw the sweetest looking roller!  It has to be about 30 to 40 long and probably a 60 or 70 degree pitch with a sweet tranny.  Next time out I am going to ride it.

I poked around at the bottom of the Mulikin, where it meets the Blue Trail, to see if there is a way to bypass the Blue Trail but the side of the hill is just way too steep and to put a trail in there you would have to cut serious bench.  It would be awesome but I doubt I could get permission.  I might ask later in the summer.  Try and work it in as a reroute around that exposed root section.

The heat was taking it's toll.  I walked the steep section on forest road back to the Gussy and took a few breaks along the way.  I did finally take out this old tree that I found is a major buzz kill when you roll into this short climb.  In fact, I am thinking about taking all the little up and overs out in order to make the trail even more flowy.

Speaking of flow and reroutes I am thinking about another major reroute.  There is a turn that is getting well worn in and it now get's muddy when ever there is prolonged wet weather.  When you descend from the second roller after the ROW that section through there up the hairpin turn has always been nagging on me and thus I might have found a way to incorporate part of the Reach Around and eliminate the hairpin turn at the same time while making that descent more flowy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Happy Ugadi

May this Ugadi bring you new spirit
new beginning
and new prosperity
Wishing you happy Ugadi.

CT NEMBA Ride at Wadsworth Falls State Park

Since I already posted a trail report over on the CT NEMBA blog, this post is more of an over flow of pictures that didn't make that posting.  

Jason Englehardt (L) and Glenn Vernes (R)
Salem's new Commuter Bike
I was actually interested in this bike, saw it on Craigslist a few weeks back and thought that it would make a good Monster Crosser.  The unfortunate thing, however, was that it was too small for me.  Still, I would not hesitate to buy a similar but larger bike on this nature because it would be the perfect rail trail bike.  Just add some Salsa Wood chippers and barcons!
First Ride, First Climb of the Season, people looking winded
Paula descending near Taco Bell


Towards the end of the ride we rode up to Little Falls and there were even a few attempts to try and ride up the blue trail but none were successful.  It's just too steep.  Someone said, "You might be able to make it on a 29er."  Yeah, with a 11x36 cassette and Granny to lend a helping hand. 

CT NEMBA has been looking at doing a trail reroute here but it would be a major undertaking requiring a significant bench cut starting from the base of the falls and gradually climbing up and eventually meeting up the main feeder trail.  It could be done but in order to do it right I think the whole trail has to be rerouted as shown in the graphic below.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

April is 30 Days of Biking Month!

March will soon be at an end and I have ridden how many miles in preparation for Single Speed-a-palooza?    40 miles and 40% of that has been on a geared bike.  Not a good showing if you ask me.  However, next month I am going to try to push myself to ride every day for 30 Days of Biking, which I signed up for again after seeing a tweet on it.  I am going to have to start commuting to work again, which I should be doing anyway to save gas and get more exercise.  

In preparation for next month I put some slicks (38c) on the Qball that I have never used before, went to a 2:1 ratio (32:16) and removed the bash guard, which I don't know why I left it on after going back to the Monster Cross platform.  Lazy, I guess.

Just need some orange bar tape and some orange Crank Brothers pedals but in the meantime, this is going to be my main source of transportation and riding rail trails with the kids.  I might even put on fenders.  That is I sell the diSSent quickly and get my next Monster Crosser, which I haven't quite decided on.  I am torn between the Salsa Fargo and Van Dessel WTF.  The WTF frame set is about $100 more than the Fargo.  The WTF sports an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) and it even can go belt drive.  The only draw back is that you are limited to a max 29x2.1 tires.  The Fargo, on the other hand is more of a mountain bike with many hard points for mounting things like racks, extra bottles, and fenders, but it's made for gears only.  In the end it could boil down to price but that dayglo green on the WTF is insane.

That is some virgin tread!

Monday, March 19, 2012

The diSSent's last roll

Wow, it almost spring and I was riding in shorts and a short sleeve jersey today!  I wanted to take the Kona out for 20+ mile ride on the dirt roads in Roxbury and Washington but decided to stay in Sunday morning and do some bike work in which I got the diSSent ready for sale.  I hate to see this bike go but space is a premium in the mancave and I just can't justify having two hard tails, even if one is steel and the other aluminum.

Later in the day, I took the diSSent for one last roll at Upper Paugussett.  I heard through the grapevine that the Mulikin Trail was back in business so after riding up the Gussy I headed down the Mulikin and there were many surprises.  Apparently, the trail gnomes have been busy.  The section off the Poly Brody (what you can't see) has been altered slightly after the October Snow.  I had ridden it once after the Hurricane only to find a huge tree blocking the trail further down and thus have stayed pretty much off the trail.  

It appears that someone created a go around to get around the tree that was blocking the trail but that is now been fixed and it appears there is now an interesting feature in the middle of the trail.  I think I am going to have start riding this more often.  In fact, riding up and down the Gussy, taking the Mulikin and riding back up the fire road adds an additional 3 miles to the ride.  Need to come back and see if there is way to connect the Mulikin Trail to this huge roller I found in the woods many years ago.

After the Mulikin I rode back up the connector trail to the Fire Road and proceeded to climb back towards the entrance to the Gussy.  I almost made the last climb until I hit a loose patch and spun out.  Coming back down the Gussy is always fun.  The diSSent handled everything perfectly.  I hate to see it go but I think the Spot Longboard 9 is going to be an awesome bike once I finish building it, which should be this week now that I have the remaining parts I need for it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Elliot and the Great Stride Race

My son Elliot, has Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, or ONH, which is an under developed optic nerve and it means he is legally blind.  He can see but his condition means he can't hold his eyes still like you or eye facing forwards and thus his eyes move from side to side, or what the doctors say, shake.  Three years ago we got him into skiing through an Adaptive Skiing program called Stride Adaptive Sports through Ski Sundown.  At the end of the skiing season Stride holds a race at Jiminy Peak for all the program participants and it's amazing to see these kids from all over region tearing the course up!  Afterwards, the smiles on their faces  at the awards ceremony are priceless.

With his second gold medal under his belt Elliot now wants to join a ski team and start racing more than just at the end of the season!  Seeing his smiles and his jubilation at his accomplishment is the best feeling a father can have.  In fact, he wants me to try racing.

His Yellow Crocs were a hit, too!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thirsty Thursdays: Black Boss Porter

In my quest for the perfect Porter I bring you Black Boss Porter from Poland.  The name seems a little apropos given this day and age but this is a very unassuming beer.  It has a fine, distinct taste that is probably induced by the high alcohol content, 9.4%.  After one I was definitely feeling no pain, but after two of these I would definitely be unter dem Tisch (under the table).  But that's just it, it was so smooth and velvety that you don't realize you are drinking such a strong beer.  Not sure where else you can find this, I found it at the Hawleyville Packy! 

Another Monster Crosser on the Gussy!

I finally got out after work to ride in this unseasonably warm weather we have been having this winter.   Maybe it's premature but I wonder if we need to reconsider when the seasons end because while on the calendar it says winter we are definitely in spring right now. 

Headed out to the Gussy once again on the Kona Unit and was nothing has changed much along the Poly Brody, the tree is still down blocking the route and it appears a few people have found my go around.  I was thinking that it might be high time to start riding a route that parallels the Brody just for some variety and this might just be the impetus to do so, not to mention there are some drainage issues along the Brody that make riding through there a bit sloppy.  Towards the end of the ride I did a Take 2 on the Reach Around and I think it's almost ready for primetime.  Just have to reconfigure one turn but the rockgarden that it ends up at is definitely rideable - I did on a rigid bike!  

Looks like the horses are back!  What I don't get is there must have been more that one horse because there were more road apples down before the Wetspot and no one got off their (high) horse to kick it off the trail?  I could see that maybe the first ploppage could have come from the trail horse so the riders might not have noticed but the second event, there is just no way they could have ignored it.  Or vice-a-versa.  Are equestriennes that arrogant that they feel that everyone except themselves should enjoy their horse's excrement?  KICK THAT SHIT OFF THE TRAIL!

The Kona was riding nicely but I did happen to notice a new creaking sound that might be coming from the seatpost.  Riding rigid and with a carbon fork is unbelievably smooth.  Sure, I feel the bumps but it doesn't feel at all bone jarring.  I think I am ready to gear down to a 19t.  The other thing I noticed on today's ride was that I wasn't hitting the HR alarm on the climbs so it looks like my fitness level is coming back.

Coming up to the Blue Cross / Blue Shield roller I met the Graham from The Bicycle Center riding his Soma Double Cross as a Monster Crosser with Special-Ed 29x1.95 tire upfront.  No one ever said that you have to have two fatties on the bike to make it a Monster Crosser.  I am actually considering this bike as my next aquisition, at least the frame, because it will do both Cantis and Disc brakes, and of course it's steel.

Graham's set up is more road-ish pushing 53/39 upfront and roadie, clipless pedals but it's cool to see another Monster Cross out in the woods!