Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Commute

Riding to work this morning I was quite surprised to see very little mischief from the night before.  There was a lame attempt at TP'ing some trees at the beginning of Pond Brook, and that's all I saw.  Unbelievable!

I broke out my colder weather shoes and my feet never got cold the whole way to work.  Coming home this afternoon was another story.  It was a lot warmer than I thought it would be and after a couple of miles I needed to make some costume adjustments.  No variety on today's ride.  I was tempted to ride Mt Pleasant for speed but bagged it for safety.  Daylight savings ends this Sunday.  It will be interesting to see what it's like riding home at 5 PM.  Today was my 40th commute.  If the temperatures stay mild into December I might see 50 this year and if not, then that will be next year's goal.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bike Commuting Accouterments: Topeak SmartPhone DryBag 4"

When I commute, I like to use my Blackberry and the Endomondo application to track my miles but on the Fredmobile, I can't stand riding with a top tube bag.  I have tried a few and none of them worked out.  Then I found this dry bag from Topeak and I just new it would do what I want it to.  Not to mention it allows me to mount it on the stem.  

It's tight fit for the Blackberry and in fact I had to cut the sides in order to get it out so it's no longer really a dry bag anymore.  It will still keep water off the Blackberry but it means that I just can't go swimming with it.  It worked great.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Ghost Bike in Bethel

If there is time in the morning I like to try different routes to and from work.  Today I tried West Street to Boggs Hill and I found it to be really fun and will definitely do that again again!  If I had left a little earlier and didn't have my laptop with me, I would have looped around Collis P Huntington State Park and now that I think about it, I need to try riding the Fredmobile through Huntington sometime, too.

Thomas Steinert-Threlkeld was killed a couple of weeks ago when a motorist cut him off in the intersection. This caused Thomas to loose his balance and fall into the path of an oncoming car and subsequently died as a result of his injuries. The motorist who cut Thomas off fled the scene.

According to the News Times here is a description of the person who cost Thomas his life:
Either a silver, medium-gray or dark-gray sedan with tinted windows, possibly an Acura.  Witnesses also provided police with a description of the car's driver, a white or Hispanic man in his early to mid-20s with a medium build, thin facial hair along his jaw line and an ear ring in his left ear.  He was wearing a white T-shirt at the time of the crash.

I had wanted to do this myself but I was still in the process of getting a bike.
I am glad someone did it and I especially like the sign they attached to it!
Riding through here will always cast a shadow in my heart now.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fredmobile gets an upgrade: SRAM Apex Double Tap Shifters

I won these in an eBay auction a couple of weeks ago and I am surprised that I won so easily because there were quite a few of these going for a lot more.  They weren't used, rather take offs and when I got them they were in perfect shape, so I guess it was serendipitous.  I didn't trust my own wrench turning skills so I had the pros at the Bicycle Center do it for me and also had them give the Fredmobile a tune up.

They ended up retaping my bars and replacing all my cables.  Shawn mentioned that I going to need a new rear wheel soon.  I don't know how many miles were on the wheelset before I got it but the person I got it from is a hardcore rider and I am sure he put a few thousand miles on them and I have 1,500 on them so it's probably time.  The front wheel rolls smooth as the 22 year old bottle of Scotch in my liquor cabinet.

The first chance to test them out was Sunday afternoon and I instantly fell in love with them!  I love with just a little pressure I can index through my gears and then add a little more shift into an easier gear.  It took me about 10 miles of reminding myself not reach for the barend shifter.

Still some spectacular fall colors to be seen around Newtown but I am afraid it's time to find the riding tights.  Upon leaving the house, the thermometer said it 57 degrees and while I was perfectly dressed up top, wicking shirt, long sleeve wicking shirt and then a riding jersey, I went with the bibshorts and that was a mistake because my legs froze most of the ride.  I think I am going to need some toe covers, too, because my toes were freezing by the time I got home, as well.

Not sure what happened but for some reason I was riding more in the drops.  Keeping my body low to the top tube and powering up the hills.  I like how you can shift from this position, too.  It will be interesting, however, to see what it's like shifting with lobster gloves.


Finally starting to feel human again, or like a cyclists for that matter.  A whole week with just one ride is brutal both on the mind and the conditioning!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Singlespeeders Paradise at Robinson State Park

If I had to compare Robinson State Park to anything riding area in CT the obvious choice would be River Highlands State Park (aka The Blow Hole) only Robinson is 5x bigger!  The CT Chapter of New England Bike Association asked local mountain biker and trail builder Steve Rossi if he wouldn't mind leading a ride for the Chapter.  What started out as possibly being a 10 to 20 person ride blossomed into 50+ people coming from all over Southern New England.

The advanced group, primarily made up of singlespeeders, took off on a 20 mile.  There was even a guy riding monster crosser set up with a 29" wheel in the front and a 650b in the rear.  He called it a 29erB.  I was thinking about bringing my monster cross but decided against because I figured I would be in a group ride that I would want to keep up with just riding the Kona Singlespeed.  I am definitely going to throw some fatties on the Qball and come back sometime!  

The intermediate ride must have had 30 riders with a range of different bikes.  There were a couple of singlespeeders, myself included, and a few guys riding old school rigid rigs, too.  One guy was even riding a rigid, steel huffy!  

You'd think a group this size would eventually get stretched out all over the park but surprisingly, everyone stuck together, and it was a great pace.

When I got there it was bright and sunny but an hour later it turned partly cloudy and the wind came up making the temperatures drop somewhat.  Once again, I had just the right amount of clothing on, consisting for riding shorts, an wicking under shirt, my blaze orange Henley and a NEMBA Jersey.



Awesome fall foliage still

For the most part the trails are really buff, there are a few rooty sections here and there but there are no rock gardens what so ever.  There are a few fall line climbs here and there, primarily but for the most part it's all twisty, curvy, fast and flowy singletrack.


After 10 miles, a good portion of the group headed back to the cars while 8 of us went back and rerode all the twisty, flowy singletrack in the opposite direction for another 5 miles.  While I can check this off the bucket list it's definitely a location to revisit over and over again.

19t was the perfect gear for me and the Pedal F*cker performed beautifully!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Not, ringing my bell

In preparation for Saturday's ride I headed over to Upper Paugussett Friday morning for a check out ride on the Kona.  The one thing I noticed off the bat was that my chain line was off and I think my seat needed to be raised just a little bit.  Otherwise the bike was feeling really good.  I found a coffee cup on the Poly Brody that I put in my bottle cage.  C'mon people, you can't pack out your own trash?  On the first climb up the back side of the Poly Brody was when I noticed the 19t which made it a little harder to climb that section.

The Gussy was awesome but somewhere a long the way I lost bell and didn't have time to go back and look for it.  Hopefully, someone will find it and hang it from a tree or put on a rock that will be noticeable the next time roll through.  Didn't have time to check out the bypass to the three bears.  I want to make some changes to that so that you can hit a pretty cool spine line right next to it and unbeknownst to most across the trail from the Three Bears is some more slick rock to ride.  It looks like someone is trying to block the Reach Around but did a poor job of it.

When I got home from work later in the day I noticed I had flat tire and it appears that tore the side wall on my rear tire.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bike Work

Can't work on bikes without beer and I got a great deal on a twelver of Franziskaner Weissbier at a new Packy that opened in town.  When lived in Germany, right after high school, I tried Weissbier (Wheat beer) a few times but didn't really like it.  Then again, I was 18 and didn't have the refined beer pallet that I have today.  My first, real introduction to Weissbier was when I was visiting my host brother in Augsburg back in the mid 1990s and all I drank during that visit was Weissbier, both light and dark (dunkless), which is hard to find here in the US.  Since then I have been hooked on it.  The only draw back for me when I drink wheat beer is that it gives me bad gas.  But farting is fun so it's really a win/win!

With a big ride coming up this weekend I decided to swap out the Shimano LX cranks for my Race Face DeusXC cranks because the bottom bracket on the Shimanos is shot and I don't have to replace it.  

Not only did I change the cranks but the chainring, too.  I also went back to my lighter wheelset and put a Surly 19t cog in the back.

A few spins around the driveway and it was good to go!

Death of a Cyclist

On Sunday, a Weston man was killed riding his bicycle on Route 302 at the intersection of Old Hawleyville Road and Rt 302 in Bethel, CT.  What makes it all the worse is that it was a hit and run.

According to the Bethel Patch:

59-year-old Thomas Steinert-Threlkeld was riding westbound through the intersection when a car knocked into either Steinert-Threlkeld or his bike, causing him to fall. 
Another vehicle rounding the corner struck Steinert-Threlkeld, pinning him beneath the car and causing injuries that ultimately led to his death at Danbury Hospital shortly after.
It's so sad that something like this has happened and the fact that the person who caused the accident didn't take responsibility and fled.  I was especially cautious riding to work on Wednesday and  approaching every intersection with a lot more caution.

Witnesses at the scene and persons involved have told police that the sedan has tinted windows and was possibly an Acura. The vehicle might also have damage to the rear passenger side area (between the rear door and bumper), where the contact with Steinert-Threlkeld’s bike is thought to have occurred. 
Witnesses described the suspected driver as an early- to mid-20s male, either white or Hispanic, small to medium build, with a thin line of facial hair along his jaw line. 
On the day of the accident, he was seen wearing an earring in his left ear and a white t-shirt.
Anyone with information about the suspect or the incident is asked to contact Cpl. James Christos or Sgt. Steve Pugner.
If you live in the area and see someone fitting this description or recognize the car please contact the Bethel Police Department.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

New Rubber for the Qball

I used one my credits at Amazon to get some new tires for the Qball, Continental TourRides, with Puncture Protection!  Granted, I don't think I have had a flat tire yet while commuting on the Qball I wanted something with a little grip and some piece of mind.

My weekly commuting regime has been cut in half, from 2 days a week to just 1 day.  Doesn't seem like a lot but it's one less day that I am riding and especially since I am working much longer hours right now trying to get any saddle time is kind of tough.  So Wednesday's ride to work was especially gratifying, albeit a bit cold.

We had some cold mornings a few weeks back but Wednesday morning was definitely a wake up call that colder weather is definitely coming.  Still, tights, a few layers and an ear band makes riding wonderful in colder weather.

The new tires are awesome and perfect for the Qball.  Combined with my recently, reacquired Carver Carbon Fork the Qball turning into a rockin commuter and it will be the perfect bike for D2R2 next year.

On the way home I needed to borrow a tool from Shawn at the Brookfield Bicycle Center needed so I rode over to that bike shop to pick it up.  They called earlier today to tell me that the Fredmobile was ready to be picked up, I took it in for a tune up and to have them install something that I didn't think I had the expertise to handle.  I was tempted to switch bikes but figured it wouldn't be worth while since I had the laptop with me.  On the way home, instead riding over to Rt 25 I decided to try Silvermine Hill and what a climb that was.  I am so glad I didn't put the the 15t cog on the other day otherwise I would have been walking.  I guess, to a roadie, having to walk up a hill would be a walk of shame!

Friday, October 18, 2013

RbW: Quick rip at Upper Pauggusset

When I got up this morning and looked at the thermometer I new I couldn't let an opportunity of a warm, fall morning (60 deg F) go by without riding something.  I hopped on the Spot, naked (no tools, tubes, or anything else that would get me out a jam and prevent a walk of shame) and rode off into the woods with my Garmin, a water bottle and a bell (hunting season).

Basically, what that little sign says is it's a crime to steel the DEEP's wood.  By the sawdust in the parking lot it appears someone helped themselves to some wood, that has been sitting here probably 6 months now and I have been wondering when's going to be hauled away.  These logs would make some awfully nice skinnies!

The Gussy is really, really dry but what's neat is how the trail is differentiated from the rest of the surrounding area by the fact that the leaves in the trail are a different color.  It really makes the trail stand out.  Contrary to popular opinion don't blow the leaves off a trail because they help stabilize the soil and provide protection against too much run off.  I think the only thing that would be difficult about riding right now is if you were night riding.

I saw this White Faced Hornets nest a couple of weeks ago and subsequently got an email from a concerned rider who also recently noticed it and called the DEEP, who said they would take care of it.  There was no activity so I couldn't really tell if the State had done anything yet or was it too early in the morning for the little suckers.  I didn't hang around to find out.  Looks like the new route to the Three Bears is getting a lot of use.  I think I need to take a closer look at it and see if it can be enhanced because I think there are some other rollers between Sandy's Reroute and the Three Bears that could be really run.  Otherwise, trail is in really good shape!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The "NEW" trail at George C Waldo SP

I didn't feel my initial post really did the new trail, the extension of Daffy Duck justice without actually calling it so people could see it. With a little editing of some GPX tracks I have made it so you can now get a better idea of how the new trail is laid out.

The Daffy Extension (Blue) starts at the intersection of the Hunter's Trail (Pink) and rejoins the Waldo trail at this big up and over called Captain's Log.  As for the new trail, riding down it was pretty good.  I think there are few turns that need some tweaking but overall it's fantastic.  My only regret was I didn't get to ride back up it.  That will be the next time.

Also pictured in the map, near the entrance to the park is a little piece of Singletrack (also in Blue) called Thing 1.  I am told there could be more things to accompany Thing 1.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

1000 miles of bike commuting

With today's commute I have officially ridden 1000 miles this year!  It's the furthest I have ridden to work in the 6 years I have been doing this.  Past totals never broke the 500 mile mark, although I came close a few times.  This year I wanted to best everything and I have done so with still more good riding weather for at least two more months!  

40% was done on the Qball as a singlespeed and 60% on the Cannondale but the distribution of rides per bike is almost even, 17 on the Qball and 21 on the Cannondale.  Next year I want to increase the number of my bike commutes per year.  I will be lucky if I hit 50 rides this year but next year I definitely want to try and surpass that, too.  My all time commuting mileage now stands at 2,634.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

1990 Trek 720 Mult-Track

Was it my destiny or fate that I should find this bike on the side of the road Sunday with a free sign attached to it?  Been awhile since I have had a project bike and I have been thinking about a different winter commuter than the Fredmobile.  Measuring the frame, it looks like it might even fit me, even though it looks small I believe it to be a 20" frame.

I can't do a fixed gear conversion on it because it has vertical drops but I might have some fun with it, like some mustache bars or drops with bar end shifters.  It doesn't need much work, just have to clean it up a bit and get a new chain.


Definitely have to replace some cable housing.  I tried to fit some 42c tires in the front fork but there was a slight rub.  Some fenders and a rack for panniers and this could be a really nice commuter.

Nothing really impressive in the parts list with the exception of the crankset.  This might be a good candidate for a retro-shift conversion!