Sunday, April 29, 2012

2012 Singlespeed A-Palooza: I finished despite many mechanicals!

I arrived at Stewart kind of late after having to get gas in Fishkill but in way it was serendipitous because I parked behind the two guys who put me on the right track two weeks ago when I got miserably lost on my first pre-ride.  One of them gave me a bag of salted, Yukon Gold potatoes and told me they are much better than eating gel or gu.  I threw them into my back pouch and got ready.  The one thing I did this time around is stay away from any caffeine because a reputable source (who happens to be a Roadie) told me that it will lead to cramps.  No coffee in the morning and none of my Gu had caffeine, either.

I started towards the back of the pack and into the first mile my non-drive side crank arm came off!  So I grabbed my bike tool and got it back on.  At the turn onto Scofield I stopped and tightened it some more but I think that was a waste.  At the end of the prologue it was about to fall off again and  the guy from Niner helped me out.  That got me about 8 miles when I noticed it was about to come off again.  This time I took it off and cleaned it out put it back on and it never bothered me during the rest of the course.

Now that the crank issue had been resolved it was time for something else to come up, like my chain dropping.  It would drop whenever I was out of the saddle and mashing on the pedals.  While I started out with good tension, my chain must have stretched because when the drops started happening I noticed it was much looser.  While that wasn't a terrible setback it meant many of the short climbs that I would normally power up out of saddle I had to walk. 

Nothing like Beer and Weenies at the finish line!  
Dark Horse Cycles really knows how to do it right!

I came upon John at the top of the big hill that I had to walk both times.  He had a wardrobe malfunction with his hydration pack and was fixing it when I "passed" by.  Another problem with my crank arm happened when John passed me.  Getting the crank arm back on I took off again and finished the race in 3 hours, 35 minutes, and 11 seconds.  My chain dropped in the last little dip and I ran across the finish line pushing the bike.  83rd out of 89.  Can't wait for next year and here's hoping to no mechanicals!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tandeming Around the Neighborhood

It's time to get ready for this year's Bloomin Metric so I dusted off the tandem and got it ready to roll. A few adjustments were needed like raising Katie's seat a good 4 inches from last year, putting on new grips (cannibalized from when I took the Qball into the geared world) and the front brake needed some adjustment.

Then we were off.  Holy crap, what happened to the weather?  It was 50 degrees and windy and seem to get colder and colder as we rode.


Down at the boat ramp the wind was coming right down the river valley making it feel twice as  cold.

But not cold enough to ham it up for the camera!

Sprummer has given way back to Sprinter!

Looking north up towards Bridgewater


Time to get back on the bike and head home to where it is warm!

 It was a great ride!  Great to be riding with Katie, again, too!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Trail Building Tuesdays on the South Park Trail

Tuesday was all about benching, and cribbing, and more benching

Chris and Steve cutting some bench
Paula cutting some bench
Benched trail and small crib wall
More benched trail
Even more benched trail

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Fat Bike on a Motorcycle

After trail building on the South Park Trail on Saturday I came across this guy riding a Surly Pugsley but if that wasn't shocking enough the owner of the bike has a custom bike mount for his BMW Motorcycle!  I have seen pictures of these in the past but never one in the flesh!

The Pugsley was set up nicely with Titanium Mary-esque bars, a Cane Creek Shock Post, and of course the famous 135mm spacing front fork and free wheel cog on the front hub in case of a broken hanger scenario.

The owner's name is Jason and he lives in Bridgewater and while we ride all the same places such as Waldo, Sunny Valley, Upper Paugussett, and Huntington, ironically I never run into him.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SSAP Preparation: Just add wheels.

Dropped the Blunts off at the LBS to get them trued.  After riding rigid on them all over New England it was time.  My WTB Nano Raptors are the perfect choice for the trails at Stewart.  I cleaned up the bike because it was pretty dirty after riding Stewart again.  The chain had dirt caked into it, too.  Once it was clean I started getting it ready to race.  After two long rides I can effectively say that wearing a hydration pack is not for me for racing.  I am going back to my Timbuktu seatpack and water bottles.

Depending on what the temperature is like next Sunday I might event have a third bottle in my back pouch.  However, one thing I am going to try is this bottle I won in contest two years ago from Hydrapak called a Gel Bot.  You fill the little bottle within with Gu/Hammer Gel and obviously water or some other energetic concoction in the main reservoir.  With valve closed, you can suck out the gel and with it open you drink water.  This should be much easier to manage then taping gel packs to my top tube and then putting the empties in the back pouch. 

The nice thing about this fork is now I don't have to be fearful of pinch flatting while riding rigid and thus riding with bigger meats up front.  As I mentioned earlier, the Nano Raptors on the bike are perfect for Stewart State Forest and with the squish I can really open up on the downhills.  I am even toying with the idea of taking my tubeless wheelset back from the Spot Longboard 9 to lighten the bike even further.  

I might have said this before but I will say it again I think Stewart State Forest has got to be the best place in the area to ride a single speed and I will be going back there for more as the opportunities present themselves!  Just have to find a decent Micro-Brew Pub nearby for the post road trip ride meal.  Won't be riding in the DH40, definitely not this year but who knows, maybe next year or least try to do it as a team event.

Monday, April 23, 2012

South Park Trail: Clearing and Benching

We started off the trail building session by driving our tools to the area we would be working in.  Having to schlep tools to the trail like what we did for building the Upper Gussy Trail would nearly be impossible due to the distance from either of the two lots at Huntington.  The Park Manager has given us permission to drive in and what a difference that makes.

We brought the tools in and everyone else came in by foot from the Statues lot.  There must have been upwards of 30 people who walked in.  After everyone grabbed tools I led a group of about 10 people and we started clearing the section of trail closest to South Pond Road that connects to the exit of the Glacial Erratic trail.  I was so busy with that section, I forgot to take pictures but we made fantastic progress but stopped short of exiting the woods.  That section has a really technical section that needs a little more rock work.

The main body of the work party worked on benching one of the two climbs on the trail.  The upper part is really an A line, B line being over to the right of this that includes some fun stuff that includes some drops, rollers, and a spineline, all thanks to Dave Francefort.  Dave is becoming the rock work master of these parts. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Official Start of the unofficially named South Park Trail

Every year, the Connecticut Chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association likes to hold at least one Trail School and this year we decided to do one for the new trail that I am building at Collis P Huntington State Park.  It's a great way to get people in the area educated about the proper way to build trails and letting them practice what they have learned in the field.

Paula Burton is the primary instructor and she has to be Southern New England's foremost Trail Building authority.  She's worked and trained with a host of outdoor organizations including IMBA, and AMC, and her knowledge of trail building is above reproach.  What makes her an outstanding instructor is the fact that she is also a high school math teacher and she really knows how to keep everyone's attention.

Not only is the training about the Do's and Don'ts about building trails but Paula works in interactive breakout sessions to get the participants to think about trails and what is ideal to them.  Her presentation has many examples of the pitfalls of poor design choices, as well as superb examples of some of the best trail designs.

Paula has traveled all over the country to ride mountain bike trails and attend trail schools and run camps for hiking and mountain biking.

After a few hours of instruction and a catered lunch we headed over to Huntington to start work on the new Shared Use Trail, that will probably be officially called the South Pond Trail, but, unofficially it's already be nicknamed the South Park Trail because of all the fun stuff that's already been found.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

SSAP Pre-Ride Do Over

Had to take a half day from work Friday in order to get another training ride in at Stewart before next weekend.  I stopped in first at Dark Horse Cycles to pick up my bib (#154) and wouldn't you know it they had a few 29er forks for sale.  With the sale of the diSSent and a few other things I had the money so I pulled the trigger on a RockShox Reba RL.  It was time, especially after 20 miles of bone jarring riding last weekend.

If he couldn't put the fork on right then and there I probably would not have bought it but he did and it looked great!  Felt great, too.  I was able to really rip it up down hill in a lot places and didn't feel like I just spent the last couple of hours taking punches to the chest.  As for the course, this time I downloaded a course file from Garmin Connect, SSAP Course Recon, and it made a tremendous difference.  If I had done this last weekend I would have had a much better run for sure. 

The ride started off easy, much hotter because it was more towards the end of the day, however there was a nice breeze.  Rounding the corner into Scofield and about 100 yards down the trail I came up on raccoon running down the trail.  When you see a raccoon during the day it can only mean one thing - rabid.  I kept my distance and yelled at it but it kept plodding along.  Finally it ran off the trail only to look back at me and I got the sense it was calling me a stupid human as I rode past.

The two descents on the prologue I was able to ride much faster now that I had some squish up front and I flew!  Onto the main course, everything was the same as it was last Sunday only I flew through the technical sections must faster.  Past the powerlines and onto the paralleling singletrack this time I made the correct turn to the left and was on the right trail this time.  A few quick ups that were easy and a few more that weren't.

What destroyed me was the hike-a-bike on the 46 Ford trail.  I got the top of that ridge and came down but it took a lot out of me but I kept going but 2 miles later after another hike-a-bike to the top of prime hill I think I was about to bonk.  I got off the bike in the shade, took off my arm pads (I think I won't race with them), took off my helmet, sucked down a Gu shot, and drank a lot of water.  After that I was new man and took off feeling like superman!  For the race, I have to remember to do a Gu before the start and hit another one at the end of prologue, and probably every 5 miles or so.  In fact last year I was some Gel Bot from Hydrapak that I have never used so I am going to try them out.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful.  Still felt like a million bucks by the time I was done so I went for a casual pedal on the single track that paralleled Rt 84 and then rode New Rd for a bit until I came to where the course crossed.  Went into that single track and decided to take the Red Trail to Ridge road and that was big mistake because it comes to a swamp that some beavers dammed up and the trail is below the water level so it was quite muddy a submerged.  That meant walking atop a stone wall for 100 yards until the trail rose up high enough that it was dry again.  So I finished the day with another 20 miler and felt really good.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

On the Spot at Collis P Huntington State Park

Riding at Upper Paugussett and George C Waldo tends to be milk toast compared to Collis P Huntington State Park's single track.  What makes Huntington harder, in my opinion, is that the trails are much more technical and less buff thus making Wednesday's RAW ride (Ride After Work) a great test for the bike.

Some Helmet Cam action from the ride

Starting out, I was still having some gearing issues but they seem to go away when I tightened the knob on the SRAM shifter.  Still getting used to the bike and some issues on a few rock ups and technical ascents in the Big Burn, but what really surprised me was on all the big climbs in the back of the park, I cleaned!  Even the go around on the white trail.  I have never been able to ride that section and today I made it.  All I can say is I love the bike!

Ride = Blue Track
Not a very long ride, almost 4 miles.  Spent too much time socializing.  Still fun times at a great place.  Of course when my new trail is done riding the back 40 will no longer be an attraction.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SSAP Pre-Ride: The Horse Trail

This is the Horse Trail at Stewart State Forest.
The Helmet Cam runs from New Road to just shy of the power lines.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SSAP Pre-Ride: Lost in STEWART

Blue Track (Me); Red Track (Course)
I was able to keep the main body of the ride in sight into the first part of the prolog but lost them on the first climb.  Oh well, they are all animals anyway.  This year George and Hawaiian Mike, the guys who put on the race, added a feature called the Prologue in order spread out the racers.  What that means is everyone starts on Ridge Road and rides up to the first single track section, Scofield Trail.  I am sure all the hammer heads will use this opportunity to get out in front everyone else.

I hear in previous races the start has been a bit funky which has lead to massive back ups in the single track so what this is supposed to do is break that up.  The word, however, from the guys that I was riding with on Sunday was that it will still probably be a Conga Line on the first climb on Scofield Trail.

After the prologue the group paused at the entrance to the forest where I was able to take of my under layer.  I was feeling really good and couldn't wait for my riding.  The next section of Single Track was OUTSTANDING!  Swoopy, flowy fast trail with many banked turns as well as beaucoup rock gardens.  Some nice rock ups and great rollers in the middle of the trail with no pussy paths.  I was keeping up with the other riders until the power line trail.  Loosing the main body of the ride and as usual way in front of the beginners, which is where I usually find myself, I took a wrong turn.  I saw a black and red marker (shop colors) and figured that was the way to go but I was wrong.

By the time I got to Barron Road I should have just headed down it but it was paved and so I thought I would ride some single track that I thought would parallel the road.  It didn't and I ended up outside the forest.  I finally found my way back to Barron Road and back onto the main feeder trail that would lead me back to the race course, however, I wasn't sure which turn to take to head south and I took the wrong one which lead me out onto the power line trail.  After a mile on that it didn't seem right so I back tracked on the power line till I found a trail cutting across and back into the woods that according to the map looked pretty good.

Back on course I was on the 46 Ford Trail and there were some monster climbs!  Those are going to be walk ups for me. 

I found the trail's name sake and as I was admiring the old car a group of riders came through with one of the guys in the group not wearing a helmet.  Must have been a Meet up group.

Another wrong turn, onto to the Cactus trail and back track out of there, I finally came out onto New Road where I met up with some more Single Speeders, one of them wearing Dark Horse colors but by the looks of their bikes, Carbon Fiber Niners and Special-Eds, I knew there was no way I was keeping up with them.  But I stayed on what I thought the course was for quite some time.  It follows a ridge that has some really nice views especially now in early spring with no leaves out yet. 
A couple more wrong turns but riding some awesome single track.  One trail was called Drake's Reroute and it was phenomenal!  Tight, twisty single track, clearly designed against ATVs and Motos, which at this end of the State Forest, there must be some illegal penetration by them.  Eventually, I came back onto Giles road when I ran into two guys on Single Speeds from the Shop Ride who led me to the Orchard Trail but smoked me on that.  Finally, back out onto another gravel road they pointed me in the right direction to back to Scofield so that I could finish the course.  

What a ride!  I am going to do it again this coming Saturday morning and I might try to do the whole thing!  If I could do 20 miles on this ride, I can do the two laps of 26 miles that makes up the whole course, with the prologue!