Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Another wet morning commute

Back on the Cannondale for a longer ride this time.  My confidence is growing in my tune up abilities.  I went full fender Wednesday morning because the roads were wet and it was drizzling when I left the house.

Last time I am riding with the backpack.  While my Timbukt2 bag is supposed to be rain proof I have had a few leaks from time to time.  However, I found the next size Fedex bag that will fit my laptop so I am worried no more!

I wanted to do extra miles today but I needed to be home on time so I got the basic 20 mile round trip done.  On the way to work it took me 47 minutes and coming back it was 38 minutes.  I wonder what that means...

The Cannondale is really performing well.  I am so happy with this bike.  In fact, I am going to ride the 75K route at the Bloomin Metric this Sunday.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mountain Biking? What's that?

I haven't been on the mountain bike for two weeks - I think this has been the longest hiatus so far, weather not included.  Decided, hoped, that Upper Paugussett would be dry enough to ride after all that rain we got last week and on Saturday.  The Poly Brody was really wet in four places.  The Upper Gussy didn't fare well either and I never got to the Mulikin to see how that was holding up but seeing the Gussy the way it was the Mulikin had to be far worse.

I can't ride the Gussy without making some tweaks, like this little up and over here.  It has been bugging me for months how it pops you up when your rear tire hits it so I spent some time smoothing it out.  Of course now you get a lot more speed going into the dog leg which could be an issue if you are not ready for it.

While there are few soft spots that need taking care of Sandy's Reroute has serious problems.  Either this whole section get's armored or a re-route of the re-route will be necessary.  The problem with that is you would miss that up-and-over by the hippy stacks.  I even poked around from the 3 Bears roller to see what sort of connection could be made.  It's do able but a lot more work.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tune up Ride for the Cannondale XS800

After the Wednesday's 41 mile commute I noticed that the rear derailleur wasn't working well and my barend shifters were loose.  Tune up time!  My rear derailleur shifter cable was frayed and that had to be replaced, which meant taking off the bar tape.  I started to do so and then I noticed it was ripping.  I ended up removing it all.  So I fixed the rear derailleur, in fact it's working better now then it was before.

Then I decided I wanted to put the Cane Creek levers back on the Qball and use my Tektro levers on the Cannondale.  So I replaced the brake cables as well.  The only tape I had was red/white/black and purple and white.  I went with the purple.

The Tektro lever hoods are a half an inch winder than the Cane Creek hoods and they feel a lot better and that's what's key because I think I will be spending a lot more time on the Cannondale.

I procrastinated all morning (played a lot of minecraft) before hitting the road and that gave me only an hour to ride so I picked around a twelve mile route to try and it turned out to be great workout.  I even KOM'ed on a segment (Papoose Hill Rd) that I never knew was right near my house and I probably could have done better had I not waffled a bit before trying to hit it.  However, the segment actually starts further back down Hanover Road, at the bottom of the hill, before you even get to Papoose.  That was a pleasant surprise.

Looped around Fairfield Hills and then through Sandy Hook and down to Walnut Tree Hill.  While on Walnut Tree I noticed there was someone up ahead of me so pushed myself to catch up to him and finally caught up to him when we both turned onto Albert's Hill.  I guess he was riding on one of the Bethel Cycle club rides - these guys do some really big rides, like to Lake Waramug from Bethel as one example.  You see them all the time in this area.  On the first climb on Albert's Hill the guy got a cramp in his leg and had to slow down so I took off.

Bike performed beautifully, maybe even better than before.  This road riding thing could get addicting.  I think it's been 2 weeks since I have been on the mountain bike.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thanks @BobMaxon

I tweeted Bob Maxon, NBC Connecticut Meteorologist, for advice on when I should leave the office to ride home.  Of course, wanting to leave at a certain time and actually leaving are two different concepts.  I was able to leave about an hour after Bob's recommended time and he was right because when I got outside it was sprinkling and cold!  I had to throw on my rain jacket and full fingered gloves!

Memorial Day weekend traffic was getting an early start.

I love riding the Recreation Path through Fairfield Hills.  It's the only part of my commute that is car free.  I opted however to stay off the dirt trails because it was wet.

A few comments about the Woodchippers (handlebars) and the cockpit for that matter.  In comparison to the Cannondale XS800, my geared Gravel Grinder/Commuter, the reach for the bars feels a little bit longer.  In comparing the two bikes (when I got home later) I found that the Woodchippers are a good 2 inches higher than the bars on the Cannondale.  So, that explains why it was off.  So, now I need to find a shorter angled stem.  Also, the levers are about a centimeter off from each other.  I knew I shouldn't have gone right to tape but I was eager to ride the Qball again.

I tried a slightly different route today.  After riding through the southern section of Fairfield Hills I headed to the northern section to check out Old Farm Road.  Apparently, at the end of this road there is a right of way that leads to Queen Street.  I drove by there other day and noticed it was mowed so I decided to give it a try.  What's really cool is the crossing over the Housatonic Railroad Tracks.  Cool to me at least because I love trains.  

That was one tough road to climb on the singlespeed because half of it is no longer paved and sections are pretty washed out.  For the most part, the mowed section of the right of way was rideable.  I had to walk one little up because I couldn't get traction in the wet grass.

Salsa Woodchippers back on the Monster Cross

Each and every Monster Cross application needs a happy stem!

I think the Salsa pepper should be more centered

Have some PBR and tape the bars

Ready to rock!

Time to ride!
Not sure I like the bars that angled but I am going to give them a try because moving them mean untaping and moving the levers, too!

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Wednesday morning at 4:30 am, an hour before I was supposed to get up, there was thunder and lightning and a pouring of rain.  Going back to sleep I dreamt of rainy conditions and wet roads, and I was Thanking God for Fenders!

It was lightly raining when I left the house but I was ready.  In the past I probably would have chickened out but there were and still are a few motivational factors at play.  For National Bike Week, I joined the New Milford River Trail team on Endomondo for the 2013 National Bike Challenge and this was the only team in the Danbury area so I thought I would pitch in.  Secondly, through Endomondo, again, someone challenged me to see who could ride the most miles on Wednesday.  Therefore I could let a few drops bother me.

My normal commute (20 mi rtp) wasn't going to cut it so I did a repeat on my Bike to Work Day route that I never did last Friday.  This took me on a Strava Segment that is a Class 4 hill called Susan Lane.  I really pushed my self up this hill and wound up in third place.

My 20 mile route takes me through Fairfield Hills.  I didn't have time to hit the trails but next time I will.  From there down to the High School and into Sandy Hook.  When I have more time, I have to either hit the Packy or the Coffee Shop before banging out the last 5 miles.  On the last two climbs is when I started having some issues with the bike.  It wouldn't shift into the lowest gear making it a struggle up Albert's Hill and there was two of them.  Once at home, what started out as deraileur adjustment turned into a complete redo of brake cables, different levers and a finely tuned rear deraileur.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

SRAM's Edge800 bar mount

After one ride on the Qball with the trekking bars I decided I wanted to go back to the Salsa Woodchippers but before I could do so I needed another 31.8 mount for the Edge so I ordered this one from Amazon.  It's longer than the Barfly but what I love about it is the device really locks in well, much tighter than the Barfly.

It's not as blocky as the Barfly and I like the length of it, the device is a little further out from the end of the stem.

It mounts clamps down using a T25 torx wrench.  Much better than the started hex wrench.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Roxbury Randonee: If it ain't raining, it ain't training

The weather channel said that it was supposed to rain Sunday afternoon, not Sunday morning!  Since it didn't look like it was going to let up I headed over to Roxbury Market at 11:00 am and set out in a light drizzle.  Riding towards Judd's Bridge is when I realized that I should have brought my rear fender because the spray was shooting right up my back!  Costume-wise, I did pretty good again, wearing a light long sleeve, short sleeve pocket jersey and a riding jacket with bib shorts.  Never got too warm. 

I decided to ride to the end of Walker Brook because it's a slow and steady climb and then hook around to Route 47.  I need to get better maps for the Garmin because the 24K topo maps are impossible to see in the mapping window on the Edge800.  I took 47 down to the entrance of Steep Rock Association's Hidden Valley Preserve.  Riding through the parking area the only trail I saw started out as a railroad bed but quickly narrowed which through me off a bit but I figured there must have been a few land slides that filled in a bit.  Later, I figured out that I wasn't supposed to be on this this section.

There is a sign at the end of the Steep Rock property saying it's private but clearly the trail is getting some use after this end point.

The topo map shows that it keeps going, too, so I wonder who is doing what?  There is a school at the other end of the trail and wonder if their cross country team is using it.

It looked a lot worse off then I was willing to risk given the current weather conditions but maybe later in the summer it would be worth a looksee.  It would be really cool if you could ride this all the way to Litchfield.   I am still on the fence, though, about a carrying solution for camera, cell phone, and other items that like to have in an easily accessible.  I have been looking at small, top tube saddle bags as a possible solution since my Timbukt2 top tube bag doesn't fit with the increased headtube of the Cannondale.  My only fear is whether my knees will bump the bags if I am climbing out of the saddle.  Guess I will have to get one and see how it works.  The other option would be to get a triangle bag made for the front of the triangle.  I have one for the back but it's not easy to pull things out of.

The Cannondale performed beautifully even on some of the sections that were basically single track trails.  Having 1" of travel upfront was perfect for this kind of riding as I thought it would be.  I am soooo happy with this bike. 

On the way back I, I found the trail that I was supposed to ride and it starts on the other side of the parking lot.  It has some nice climbing on it that makes the route that I took worthwhile.  Just want to see what lies beyond this point some time.  From Hidden Valley I rode down through the town of Washington, CT over to the main part of the Steep Rock Reservation and rode the old Shepaug Railroad bed to the Tunnel.

I love riding through this tunnel because when you enter it from the north there is a bend in it so you can't see light from the other side until you are about 25 yards into the tunnel and it's properly pitch black.

Down the trail someone opened up the log jam of blowdowns that has blocked the old railroad bed for years so I tried it out. It's a little squirrely going under the power lines but then it smooths out to the old railroad bed again.  I went down it hopping to find something that cut up to Judd's Bridge but there wasn't any connector trail so I turned around and headed back.

This was an awesome ride and the next time I do it I will try to work in the Rail Trail that starts at Botsford Hill and goes down to Minor Bridge.  That additional loop could add another 6 to 10 miles on to the ride.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

2013 Bike to Work Day

I decided to suck it up and go with bib shorts for Friday's commute, some lighter gloves and only one snivel gear item, an ear band (that I ended up taking off when I crossed into Bethel), and no riding jacket.  Of course I had a wicking undershirt, blaze orange, long sleeve running shirt, and my Meatball jersey.  Another change was I found a good way to mount my helmet cam to the bike.

Riding down to Pond Brook Road was chilly but warmed up with the climb out of the Housatonic Valley.  It wasn't until I got up to Hawleyville JCT was when the morning's true warmth hit me.  It was like night and day.  The temperature swing felt like a 20 degree difference.  Leaving the house later than 6 am caused me to abort my plans of trying to beat a Strava Segment (Susan Ln Climb) I found last week while Fredding Around Newtown.

The industrial section of Bethel of fascinates me on how can you have such as operation in such a minuscule area.  Near here is also the Plumb Trees Viaduct that I have been trying to find for quite some time.  It's a remnant of the Shepaug Railroad that went from Bethel to Litchfield.  I saw it on Wednesday but it was enshrouded by trees.  Going to have to wait till fall to get a good picture of it. 

Wednesday, my route took me on this road called Hickory Ave, which according to Strava was only 6.5% grade but it seemed a lot worse, so I took the backside and it was 9.5%.  Seemed a lot more steeper.

After busting my hump on Hickory I came across this sweet, steel, three speed, grocery getter.  Not sure what it's like living in this neighborhood but I would never leave my bike in front of my house like this if I lived here.

The Bike to Work day event for the Danbury area was being held at the Bethel, CT MetroNorth Stop on the Danbury Line.  It was being put on by HART Transit, the local bus company that services the HCVEO region (Housatonic Valley of Elected Officials).  This was their second time doing this.

Besides a bite to eat, some orange juice, and a cup of coffee, I got some nice schwag including a water bottle, an ankle and arm reflective bands and a cool t-shirt.

As I was getting ready to role, this Rastafarian looking guy rolls up on former mountain bike now turned commuter that was brushed aluminum.  Perfect train station bike. 

Upon leaving the station and heading to the office I came across this woman riding her bike to work but she road right past the event?  That's crazy.  When I caught up to her and asked her why she said they were doing something at work.  I think that meant she worked for Cycling Sports Group.

 I even got a "I biked to Work Today" sticker!

Decided to go back to the Timbuk2 bag for commuting.  Having it slung across the shoulder like a bike messenger is actually much more comfortable than the back pack because the load in the back pack is actually higher up on your back and tends to shift when you are crouched in the saddle.  However, the messenger bag sits lower and doesn't shift as much, plus your back gets more air.

Another great bike commute and my 10th ride to the office!
I am at 250 miles, 1/4 of the way to my goal of a 1000 miles this year.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lobster Gloves in May? Seriously?

It was 32 degrees Wednesday morning when I left the house and from my past experiences of riding to work in these temperatures I have to start the ride with my lobster gloves and over booties otherwise I will freeze.  I also had a thermal layer on as well but after 5 miles I was sweating.  Probably could have done without the thermal layer.  

I decided to go a little bit out of my way this morning and see what it will be like on Friday when I ride to the Bethel Metro North station for the National Ride to Work Breakfast.  The route change added an additional 8 miles to the ride, but you know me, I love more miles.

A little morning helmet head was a little shocking but overall it was a good ride.  I learned one thing about my Garmin - my 100K scale topo maps are incompatible with the turn by turn navigation feature built into the Garmin Edge 800 so I am going to have to go back to the 24K maps.

The ride home has interesting.  At 4 PM I stepped outside the office to check the temps.  It did rain by the way but not at the time that the weatherman predicted, rather it was midday.  That seemed to cool things off quite a bit.  However, when I left the office at 6 PM, the sun was out and it must have been 65 degrees!  I was in tights, shorts, a long sleeve and my riding jacket.  Waaaay to warm for the conditions.  Only had time to drop the jacket.

My original thought when riding home was that I wanted to ride 12 miles after 18 in the morning so I could round out the day with a 30 mile ride.  Leaving the office so late wasn't going to permit me to take the 12 mile route that I had planned not to mention, my knees have been bugging me.  I guess I can't ride 5 days straight anymore.  The first thing I did was explore the Sturges Road right of way between Old Bethel Road and Taunton Hill Road but it was blocked.  When I got down to the Pond Brook Boat Ramp I was still 1 mile short of the 12 I wanted so I tried climbing Silver City lane and that was a bear of a climb, however, that game me enough to for 12 miles and to finish the day with 30 miles!