Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fruits of my labor: South Park Trail

Three hours worth of trail work on Sunday with Paula Burton.

South Park Trail looking North


South Park Trail looking South


And then came the riders.  I didn't have time to ride.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

On the Road Again

I needed some quality time with the Qball today after riding in the woods for a couple of weeks now and you couldn't ask for nicer weather!  The Fall Foliage season here in Southern New England is almost over and today was quite a day to get in some last looks.  Today's ride was really 5 hills but the name sounded better (Four Crazy Hills).  My route took me up Butterfield Road and then I looped around and rode up Georges Hill Road and from there it was down and then back up Parmalee Hill Road.

Since it seemed that I was riding hills, after rolling by the Newtown Flag Pole I headed up Castle Hill.  Turning the corner I saw some guy riding in a spandex body suit (Fred Material?) and I thought he must be dying because I was sweating pretty good in shorts and a short sleeve riding jersey.


The view from Castle Hill was heavenly!

Castle Hill has some more hill after Taunton Lane but then it was on to Birch Hill where I think I either broke a spoke again because my rear wheel was wobbling again.  Damn this is a crappy wheelset but then again I knew that when I bought it for $35.  I made a wrong turn looking for a sixth hill to climb only to find out that it's Birch Hill in the other direction is a really steep climb so I back tracked and took Birch Hill down to Rt 302.

Riding down Rt 302 is always fun and it wasn't a big surprise to see Ferris Acres packed.  Would have been nice to stop but the line was tremendously long and I only had 2 hours to ride.  So I stuffed a Cliff Bar in my mouth and washed it down with water.

Then it was off to Fairfield Hills and the town's Recreation Trail.  It was covered with wet, slippery leaves but it was cool and nice through the trees.  I opted out of the singletrack due to the rear, wobbling wheel and rolled the Rec Trail down to it's end and then back out.

I wanted to throw in a few more hills like Church Hill, School House Hill, and Walnut Tree Hill and Alberts Hill but I was out of time.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Single and Stoopid, once again!

Today's ride after work at Upper Paugussett was a new high in the mileage department, 9+ miles!  That came largely from doing repeats on the Reach Around, which is a way that you can loop around and head back up the Gussy.  It's a loose collection of skidder tracks, hunters trails, and the last section which is an old cart road coming off Blue Blaze/Horse Trail about 100 yards north of where the Gussy intersects with the same trail.  Parts of the Gussy and Mulikin Trail utilize pieces of cart roads I found many years ago.  They are quite impressive with engineered sections that are graded and cut into the sides of hills but not wide enough for an early 20th Century vehicle.  These roads were made for horse drawn wagons.

Riding up the Mulikin on a singlespeed was tough, I guess it's been awhile since I have ridden the Raleigh XXIX.  I would have ridden the Dream Machine again but the rear tire has a torn sidewall so I will probably be switching out the rear wheel until I get it a new T-U-B-E-L-E-S-S replacement tire.  Basically, have to figure out what tire to get and some more Stans to fix it.  In the mean time, I will be riding tubed.  


There was a lot less creaking on the Bushnell Bottom Bracket on this ride.  It still creaks but not as much show.  I set the chain pretty tight and noticed halfway through the ride that it had loosened just a little bit which was about the same time that I noticed that creaking had started.  The other thing I noticed is that the Manitou Tower is really stiff compared to my Reba on the Spot.  It's almost like riding rigid again and I think I might have to go back to the medium spring.

By 6 PM it had started to get dark and while I had lights with me, they weren't needed.  Back at the ranch I cracked open a Gansett Fest, I got the last six pack from Trader Joes the other day and set about making a few tweaks on the Raleigh XXIX.  I am going to do one more ride and see if I get any more slippage on the EBB.  If I do, I might try some green locktite that was recommended to me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

RAWWW and Trail Blocking Sausage

You could not have asked for a better fall day to ride in the woods!  Temperatures hovering around 60 degrees, clear blue sky and still there is enough sunlight to see the trail.  As I was driving through town, I passed Paula going the other way and noticed her bike on the back of her car.  Thinking she was heading to Upper Paugussett or Huntington I texted her (while stopped at stoplight) to see where she was going.  I got her reply in the lot at Waldo that she was coming to Waldo but had to drop something off in town.

Fall Foliage along Lake Lillilohnah
It was another RAWWW (ride after work) at Waldo on Wednesday with Stephen and his dog Maverick.  The dog is a white lab that Stephen affectionately calls a fat sausage and is a really great trail dog.  It's almost weird to see the dog running along the trail a foot or two off of Stephen's back tire, but when he gets too far behind cuts knows exactly when and where to cut through the woods in order to get back on his wheel.  It's uncanny, especially the way the Where's Waldo Trail cuts back and fourth as it descends down to the lake.  I find myself often behind Maverick and often refer to him, and Stephen as well, as the Trail Blocking Sausage because he must eat rather well at in Roxbury.


Nearing the end of the Waldo trail I yelled out to Stephen telling him to continue up the Extra Credit Trail but he didn't hear me and I didn't see him down by the water so I assumed he continued on.  I have been wanting to ride it in both directions after Paula did more benching on the section of the trail with a really steep side slope.  That trail is fun to ride down but with the new benching I knew that it would be a great ride in the other direction.  It was but I did lose Stephen.

In fact, when I got down to the water's edge, I lost Paula as well.  So I hung out and marveled at the brilliant fall foliage along the river.  The Spot was riding fantastic!  I can't get over how smooth this bike is.  In fact, now that I have it dialed in, the last time I was here the bars were too high, I finally cleaned that smaller Up-and-over of logs that lies in the middle of the trail, in both directions!  Having the seatpost up an extra inch really made a difference and I think I came out of the saddle to climb once or twice.


But of course there is alway's Murphy's Law.  Since going back to wearing a hydration pack I thought I would be all cool and Rambo by wearing my Tanto Knife on my shoulder strap.  I have been hearing more and more stories about decent sized critters in the forests lately.  The black bear population in the area seems to be increasing, Paula said she saw a Fisher the other day Waldo, and then there are many reports of a large predator, bigger that bobcat but more lithely than a bear, that I keep hearing about that the State won't recognize as living in our area.  With my knife on my shoulder strap it was like the good old days of an ROTC Field Training Exercise. 

But as I was just riding along the knife came out of its sheath and flopped in front of me onto the trail.  At first I thought it was a tire lever but I couldn't fathom how it could have came out of my pack to flop in front of me on the trail.  Then I recognized the blade and immediately stopped to pick it up.  I pulled the sheath off the strap and put it in my pack.  I didn't realize until later that the reason it flopped in front of me is because it must have bounced off my Garmin, thus cracking the glass plate.  CRAP!  Oh well, now I have to figure out whether it's worth trying to get it fixed or perhaps replace this with something better, like the Garmin 800, and keep it as a back up.


While down at the lake I met Chris, the guy who has been perfecting Dora the Explorer, which is the huge, new log ride in the middle of trail.  In fact, there were quite a few riders there today.
Maverick, the Trail Blocking Sausage!

Stephen brought a tasty, post ride libation, that went down smoothly.  It had a sweet taste to it that reminded me of Malz Bier (beer) that I tried in Germany once that has molasses in it.  I never liked the German version but this was pretty good.

Looks like I finally ripped the side wall on my rear tire.  I hit rock on Daffy Duck that made a big sound tire sound and later down the trail felt my rear tire getting really mushy.  I put more air in the tire to get me out of the woods but it wasn't till I got home and using my floor pump discovered air leaking out of the side of the tire.  The funny thing was I held my finger to the tear and it felt wet, must have been the Stans, and then it sealed itself!  Hope it stays.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall riding at it's best!

The Dream Machine almost turned into a nightmare this afternoon when I went to put air in the front tire.  The release valve was stuck so I used pliers to loosen it only to discover that the T-U-B-E-L-E-S-S stem is a two parter and out it came along with all the air in the tire too. All of a sudden I am looking at a flat front tire!  So I loosened the valve, screwed it back in, pumped the tire up and it appeared to be holding so I took off!

The funny thing about Strava is places like the forest road in Upper Paugussett State Forest  that is a Strava Segment, I am pushing myself harder to try and get a better a time.  Which greatly changes the aspect of riding certain sections that are mundane.  However, a few stops here and there to clear some small blow downs meant no Strava KOMs or PRs for this trip.  Didn't matter because it was such a nice day, albeit a bit chillier compared to yesterday, that I didn't care.

The funny thing is I decided to wear my blaze orange "Don't Shoot Me Bro" shirt from but after putting on a pocket jersey and my arm guards there was very little Blaze Orange to be seen.  I think I might have to go back to a hydration pack for cooler months.  That means I will have to figure out how to carry my camera/droid internet tablet appliance so that I have easy access if I don't have a back pocket to put it in.

Clear blue skies, crisp air, and fall foliage makes for great riding!


Brought the light just in case but it was unnecessary because I had to be back home by 6 PM and by that time, it's still pretty light out.  Another 30 minutes would have been another story.

Couldn't tell if the car in the Echo Valley lot belonged to a hunter because it was a late model sedan and not your usual pick-up but I did hear shots ring out just as I was leaving the house.  Felt better riding with a bell.

Wow, what difference another inch makes!  I lengthened my seat post by that much and found that I had a much better ride.  I don't even have 200 miles On the Spot but it's the kind of bike that I could see putting 2000 miles on because it rides so sweet.  I am going to try riding with flats though after having some unclipping issues recently and hearing some recent horror stories about falls where people couldn't unclip in time got me thinking that I should not be risking myself, either.  I am getting red pedals to go with the red motif On the Spot.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Getting some On The Spot!

After Trail Building I headed out to ride South Park v1.0, both north and south to get a feeling for the trail and to see where, if any tweaks were needed.  Of course that one section on the north part of the trail needs some rock armoring when riding north but the southerly line, while difficult, is pretty rideable.  I even to roll on the option drop but to avoid the drop you have to stay all the way over to the right.  Again, a good challenge.  

After riding riding and re-riding it from both directions and including riding both directions on the Glacial Erratic trail (on the other side of the carriage road) I headed over to the Rock and Roll, then up and over to the Big Burn for the usual loop.  Then I followed the single track that cuts over to the Blue and from there over to the outer loop, down little vomit and then climbed all the way back to the parking lot.  Got about 10 miles of riding in.  Of course the Spot performed like a dream!

Monday, October 15, 2012

South Park Trail: "Almost there!"

"Almost There!" - Garvin Dreis.  For those of you who are Star Wars fanatics you know who this guy but those of you who don't or didn't see Star Wars in the theater because you weren't born yet, he's the guy who is lining up the attack on the Death Star only to get blasted before he get's his shot off.  Sunday's Trail Building event at Huntington was the same and I am not sure if it was the early morning rain or whether the NEMBA eNews screwed up the date but the lack of people just meant that phase 1 of the project is "Almost There!"

The lack of people didn't deter me and I was able to get a lot done.  Granted, people are already poaching the trail and have been doing so since June when the trail was just pin flags.  In fact, after testing riding it Saturday to get a feel for it I created a new Strava Segment for it called South Park v1.0 South  and one for riding it north (South Park v1.0 North), to see who is poaching the trail.  I wasn't surprised to see who has been riding it.  I wonder if any of them ever helped on any of the work days.

I started route clearing where a connector trails comes in off the carriage road, actually it was there first, probably as the access to these strange shelters built with sticks that are found here, like an Sweat Lodge without walls.  I found a pretty good route through the Mountain Laurels to the top of a little hill.  It's got a little climb in it but it's short and not too steep.  At the top though, there was a peculiar rock jumble with one sharp rock pointing straight up that couldn't be moved.

I created this rock armoring around the sharp rock.  It's funny sometimes how this works, ramping on one side was easy but on the back side no so.  Still, it's a nice little feature that mixes it up a big.


From there I continued clearing all the way to the trail head.  I removed duff on softer sections with intentions of going back and removing more.  The Rogue Rake is really good for that.


Probably go back and bench this section through the mountain laurels but since people will be riding it I just removed the duff so it's not so soft and will break in quicker over time.  That just leaves two more sections and it will be ready for prime time.  Some more benching on one of the steep side slope sections and some rock work on the top section, then it will be on to phase 2.