Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Ride of 2013

After a few false starts with the rear wheel needing to be reset a few times, I finally started my last ride of 2013.  It took one more adjustment down on Old Hawleyville road to set things right.  I had waited later in the morning, till it warmed up over 20 degrees to start riding.  Anything colder than that is just miserable if you ask me, unless I am in the woods.  At this temperature I figured 4 layers should be sufficient but I could have used my wind vest, too.

Riding the Cross Check is so smooth and with a thinner tire, Continental Tour Ride Urban Bicycle Tire (700x37) with puncture protection, much faster, too.  Although these tires are pretty bomb proof I rode with my tool bag because it happens to match my bar tape nicely.  In fact the epiphany that I had while riding Cross Check this morning was why do I need two Cross bikes?  The Cannondale was a good introduction to road riding and a solid performer when it comes to gravel grinders but I think I might try to sell that, along with a few other bikes and maybe buy a road bike or even a full suspension mountain bike frame and build it up from parts off the Spot. 

I had thought about selling the Qball but if I through my tubeless wheelset on it (with tubes) and go back to the carbon fork I think I could make it into a light singlespeed commuter.  Like the Cross Check, I hope to run the Qball into the Ground.  For 2014 I think I am going to do more Gravel Grinders.  I registered for the 115K course for the 2014 D2R2 ride.  I think I might bag SSAP this year, no choice if I sell the Kona (thinking of doing that, too, which could finance my full susser dreams) and instead do the Detour de Connecticut.  There might be Gravel Grinder in the Berkshires in 2014 that I would like to do and of course the Bloomin' Metric and maybe some other benefit rides throughout the year.  Also, I think I will be riding a lot more dirt roads in North Western Connecticut. 

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Surly Cross Check Test Ride

Fatties Fit Fine: to a certain point!  The Cross Check came with Vee Rubber 29x1.95s (700x50c) tires but I was afraid that it was going to be too snug.  I looked up the tire clearance on Surly's Website:  


Tubing: 100% Surly 4130 CroMoly steel. Main triangle double-butted. TIG-welded
Rear dropouts: Semi-horizontal dropouts with adjusters give you singlespeed compatibility
and wheelbase adjustability. Our Gnot-rite spacing (132.5mm) allows you to run 130mm
road hubs and 135mm MTB hubs
Braze-ons: Bosses front and rear to take cantilever or linear-pull brakes, eyelets at the
dropouts, rear rack bosses, dual water bottle mounts, downtube shifter bosses
Seatpost diameter: 27.2mm
Seatpost clamp diameter: 30.0mm Surly stainless, included
Headset/stem: 1-1/8" threadless
Bottom bracket: 68mm wide, standard English threaded 1.37" x 24t
Tire clearance: Fatties Fit Fine (FFF) stays and our beautiful slope-crowned custom fork
provide room for tires up to 700 x 45mm , or about 700 x 40mm with fenders. Depends
on tire, rims and other factors, but still pretty damn big.
Chainring clearance: Manipulated stays so you can fit the size rings you want. Go nuts
Color: Beef Gravy brown with black decals or Gloss Black with white decals

I noticed that the rear drops have a whole for tensioners but I didn't seen anything advertised on the Surly Bikes website so I contacted them and they got back to me today with the part number:  FS2011
This may help with Vee Rubber tires and I will certainly try it when I get them but in the meantime I am going to throw on some 37c that I had gotten for the Qball and barely have any miles on them and then look for a decent 40 to 45c tire for gravel grinders and trail riding.

Despite having to stop a few times to reposition the rear tire so it wouldn't rub there were some other nuances from my bike ride this morning that I feel are worth mentioning.


Of the three sets of bars on my Cross bikes, the Salsa Cowbells are the straightest (bottom).  The Gary II Bars, on the Cannondale, are still angled but not as much as the Salsa Wood Chippers.  I find dirt drops to be a lot more ergonomic than regular drops.  At some point I will try the Woodchippers on the Cross Check but when I do that I am probably going to get some sort Brifter or maybe even Retroshifts (that's what I really want).

Shifting is awesome and and having a mountain cassette with a 11:32 range means for climbing!  Originally, I was going to try and do an out and back on the old Shepaug Railroad line but the rear wheel problems put the kybosh to that route so instead I decided to climb up George's Hill and it was AWESOME.  The mountain bike gearing felt like I was calling on Granny for help but I wasn't.  The other thing worth mentioning is the frame fit.  I really like the 58 cm frame.  I definitely need to shorten my stem to at least 90 degrees on the Cannondale.  The 58cm felt perfect for climbing.  The shifting was also great and going back to barends was like falling off a bike (yuck, yuck, yuck).

Sunday, December 29, 2013

More Monster Cross: The Surly Cross Check

A friend of mine sent me this link for Craigslist add for a Surly Cross Check.  I was planning on buying a new bike next year and was thinking about actually buying a road bike, however, deep down I really wanted a steel bike and this bike caught my eye.

A Surly Cross Check!

With Salsa Cowbell 3 bars

Add 700x50c tires and you have a true Monster Cross!

4130 Cromoly is so plush!

I can't wait to go for a ride.

I added a Team 26 sticker in remembrance of Sandy Hook.
All my bikes have them.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Road riding with Lake 303s

After riding in the woods with the 303s now I had to see what they are like on a road ride.  With a narrow time window to ride, I headed south again, only this time in reverse of what I rode before Christmas and discovered some great territory.  This time, after riding through Taunton Hill I cut across to Swamp Road and then down Poverty Hollow into Easton where I found the Apestuck Chasm.  There are some really cool waterfalls along the road where it becomes one lane.

The Lake's were awesome!  While my feet never got cold during the whole ride  they were still cooler than riding in the woods largely I believe from the descents.  Still, I was comfortable the whole time and that's what mattered the most.  


At the bottom of Poverty Hollow, the road swings east and there is this strange house with Tonka Trucks climbing up a tree.  There are also various remote control and other cars on the roof above the garage and toy cars and trucks all around the house.  

In a way it was kind of eerie as if it was a modern day witch's house where the toys were meant to lure unsuspecting little boys and girls in where she would eat them.

There were also some pretty interesting ornaments about the property including this tandem.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Riding with Lake 303s

Been awhile since I have ridden Upper Paugussett and for that matter the Spot but with the recent warm up that got rid of all our snow and then refroze I figured I should could head out for a quick mountain bike ride to test out the Lake 303 riding boots that Santa Claus brought me for Christmas.  I brought some lights in case it got too dark to the see the trail and sure enough by the time I got to the top of the Gussy I figured I should light the way.  For some reason, my bar light wasn't working but I brought that to try it.  My main light was fully charged. 

My new Lake 303s are so warm that my feet never got cold during the whole ride and the temperature just kept dropping.  When I left the house it was 31 degrees and by the time I got home it was 27 and my feet stayed toasty warm the whole time.  The only thing I had some trouble with was unclipping because I set my cleats up for 20 degree release angle when I should have made it 15 degrees.

While on the Gussy I was trying to figure out if there was one rider or two but after hitting the reach around and coming back up to the Gussy I saw the rider's track just did a turn around at the jeep road.  Too bad he doesn't know about the Reach Around.  I hate getting to the end of the trail and turning around like this.  I am so glad I found that hunter's trail coming off the Gussy to be able to ride down to the Jeep Trail and then come back around to ride back up the Gussy.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Twas a Pedal before Christmas

I finally figure out how to use turn by turn directions on my Garmin and then I brain fart on the course I was going to follow.  Then again, if I followed the intended course I would have missed another great photo op at Gurske Pond.  It's been awhile since I have gone out for a good road ride and with 2.5 hours on Tuesday morning I had the make best of it.

I probably could have used another layer up top, or at least my arm warmers because the temperature never got over 26 degrees during the whole ride.  My toes suffered the most.  I rode with my commuting shoes and neoprene overbooties because my colder weather shoes were still wet from Saturday's CX race in Newtown.

At the pond I took some really good pictures and warmed the toes by walking around a bit.  I had to do it two more times, on Eden Hill and at the top of Taunton Hill Road.

This will be the last ride on the Mavic wheelset for the Cannondale.  I have learned my lesson and will never sell a semi-decent wheelset again - I had a $500 pair of Rolfs that I got super deal on and didn't appreciate them and sold them.  Of course, back then I wasn't even close to being the type of rider that I am today otherwise I would have kept them.  I keep kicking myself.  I have put 2K miles on these wheels but they might have anywhere from 4 to 6K because the person I got them from is a serious cyclist.

Felt good to be out and pushing myself.  Might try to do one more 100K for the year but this ride pushed me over the 3K miles mark.  I wonder if I can double my miles next year!


Newtown CX 2013-12-21: Paula Burton


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Newtown CX 2013-12-21: Women's A & B Race

Elizabeth White
Cassie Maximenko 

Jacqui Dowd (l) and Monica Roberto (r)