Sunday, August 31, 2014

Berkshire Brewing Company Goes Warm?

I was at the Big Y in Newtown, CT on Saturday and found all this Berkshire Brewing Company Beer on display and not refrigerated?  Nowhere else have I seen this before.  The Big Y in Deerfield, MA was selling it cold and everywhere else around my neck of the woods sells it cold, too, and you never see it out on the shelves like this.  Is this an example of a Beer Failure?

If the cans say Best Kept Cool does that mean you have to keep it cool or it is OK not to?  I have tweeted this and Instagrammed it to Berkshire Brewing Company but that haven't gotten back to me yet.  Of course, it could be the Big Y here not knowing.  I bought my six pack of Lost Sailor Pale Ale that day where it was stored cold.

Update:  According to the company, they don't pasteurize their beer, therefore the recommendation to Best Kept Cool but apparently it can be sold this way, it's just recommended to Best Kept Cool. Personally, I will not buy BBC unless it's cold.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gravle Serendipty

For my 50th Bike Commute I rode the Cannondale to work and was planning on a big ride after work on the way home, assuming I left early enough. I had envisioned riding to Glover Street and then back on Pumpkin Hill and knocking out a good 35 miler. Due to a mechanical issue, somehow a chain link split and was causing the gears to skip, I had to limp home settle for 30 miles commute.

George who lives in Newtown
My original intention Friday morning was to ride in the morning on the Bianchi, swing by the bike shop and drop off the Cannondale and not commute, however, waking up Friday morning the Give-a-Shit meter was in the red, the night before I stayed up too late working on Lipstick's drive train for a Single Speed conversion that I bagged the morning ride and figured I could hop on the Cannondale after I picked it up from the shop and bang out a good ride.

However, late in the morning my manager came into my office basically told me to take off early for the holiday weekend.  With the Cannondale in the shop I hopped on the Bianchi when I got home and went out to ride 30+ miles on the Bianchi San Jose.  What luck!  I now have all Friday afternoon to ride. After hitting some of the trails at Fairfield Hills, I popped out on Mine Hill South and caught up to George who was riding a sweet Bianchi Eros.  At first I thought he was a bike commuter with that pack on his back but he was just out for a ride a beautiful Friday.

I contemplated riding the Orchard Hill Trails but forgot to put bug repellent on and wasn't sure how bushy those trails might be so I stayed to the basic loop down to Monroe, past Guske Pond, and back up Hattertown Road and then to Boggs Hill.

Friday, August 29, 2014

This week in Bike Commuting: My 50th!

My goal this year was to ride at least 50 times to work and on Thursday I did it!  I live 10 miles from the office so 50 trips means 1000 miles but I have done extra riding so my cumlative commuting to date is 1,395.75 miles.  It also means that I have saved around $200, 1000 less miles that I could have put on the car and at least 1000 lbs of carbon emissions.  Now with 4 months to go to the end of the year my next goal is try and ride 25 more times to work. 

The Occasional Mountain Biker

While I still have a mountain bike I only ride it occasionally and mostly at Upper Paugussett State Forest.  Some will say that I have gone over to the Dark Side but in reality I would say it's more like the Light Side. I was never able to drop the weight mountain biking that I have since I have started riding roads.  I think it's due to the fact that when you are on the road you are riding at tempos where you burn fat but mountain biking is more bursting and less constant motion.  The funny thing is last year I commuted just as much but even that didn't help.  It's definitely from riding longer distances and more steadier pacing that has gotten me to where I am today, 20 lbs lighter!   

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Milford Cyclist Killed on 8/23/2014

Dwight Hipp, 57, of New Milford, CT, died of his injuries Saturday, 8/23/2014, after a collision with a pick up truck driven by John Kimberly, 22, of New Milford.  The accident took place in the vicinity of 415 Chestnut Land Rd, which happens to be the address of the Kimberly Farm.

While there are no indications to the cause of the accident, according to the New Milford Spectrum, it was reported that his bike collided with the pick up truck which.  I am merely speculating here but I could see what could have happened here.  If you go to Google Maps to 415 Chestnut Land Rd, go to Street View, move west or two mouse clicks by the silver blue Jagwire and then turn around you will see something like this (364 - 368 Chestnut Land Rd):

From this perspective I think you can figure out what could have happened.  The cyclist was probably riding down Rt 109 from the hill in the back and going fast and I bet it's hard to see around that telephone pole right now at the height of summer with the way road side vegetation gets, so the driver was probably pulling out of a blind driveway and there was a collision.  Something to think about the next time you get some speed and on a descent and the potential for someone to come out of a drive way that you don't see.

What ever the cause, it's a tragedy for both families; the Hipp family and the loss of their loved one and the Kimberly family and the impact this event will have on the driver for the rest of his life.

My condolences go out to the Hipp family.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Grapes of Wrath Mountain Bike Race is back for 2014!

It's back! Riding home from work on Tuesday I met with the Race Director and he as big plans, not just for this event in October but for this place in the future.  Think Oskar Blues and then picture Vietnam, not the one half way around the world but the one in Milford, MA!

This could be the start of something!
--- Steve Allen, 1956

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 D2R2, The 10th Anniversary!

This was it, what Will and I have been training for all year.  Originally, we were just going to ride the 115K but around a month ago Will suggested that we should go for the 160K. Initially, I was a little nervous about trying to ride that distance but knew I could hang after doing an 88 and 92 mile rides in the spring, and my 103 mile gravel grinder the week before sealed the deal!

It was a beautiful morning with a slight chill in the air because there was no sun

The 160K went north through Historic Deerfield and up to Greenfield, which was flat and allowed for some good speed. We got in behind the Firefly Adventure Cycling Team on Route 5 for a bit before someone in their group had a mechanical which forced them off the route.  They passed us later, of course.

Will and I just riding a long in anticipation of a long day in the saddle climbing dirt roads

A couple of shopping carts were on the bikeway, nice!

Then the fun began

At the 16.8 mile mark on East Hill Rd the dirt road ends and becomes a mountain bike trail that had one particularly hairy descent that I rolled like I was riding my mountain bike.  Many people walked it and I don't blame them.

Climbing up Sweet Pond before breaking off for our adventure in Brattleboro

Since the 160K course was really 94 miles and I wanted to make this year's D2R2 ride a Century I suggested that we ride the option loop from last year's 100K ride.  Only, the mistake I made was not programming it into the Garmin.  I had the map of the course blown up but I missed an important turn and we ended up in Brattleboro!  Oops.  When I realized the mistake I whipped out my iPhone and went to the map I created on the Google Maps Engine and that enabled us navigate back to the course and to the first rest stop where we met up with Dan.

We were planning on riding with Dan, whom I rode with last weekend on a self supported Century Gravel Grinder, but as we were getting ready at the cars Dan headed off in the other direction.  So I texted him and told him he was going to the wrong direction.  I figured by the time he caught up to us Will and I would have completed our Extra Credit loop and not 5 minutes after we got there, Dan rolled in! 

About 15 miles from the Lunch Stop in Charlemont, MA, we stopped for a break to fuel up.  Dan shared with us some beef jerky he brought with him and OMG, that was the best tasting thing I had a had after breakfast and 65 miles of riding!  I will never ride long distance without bringing beef jerky!  At the lunch stop I had the pasta salad and drank pickle juice because all the pickles were gone.  Still that juice, like the Beef Jerky, was another god send!

There were few climbs on this route that were simply insane.  The first one at the 20 mile mark is called "The Wall" which was really just a nasty single track climb which I made without stopping but the most memorable climb was E Road behind the Berkshire East Ski Area.  For one mile, it just kept going up and up!  Will hammered that climb while Dan and I made, too.

My Surly Cross Check at the last rest stop with 17 miles to go to the end

One of the last climbs and I felt like I was puttering!

I rode the entire 107 miles with this can of Berkshire Brewing Company (BBC) can of Lost Sailor IPA in my trunk bag with the sole purpose of opening it at the finish line.  It was still a little chilled and didn't foam up that much, either.

My #CanMe picture for +BerkshireBrewingCompany 

It tasted like Victory!

Dan (l), Will (center) and your's truly with our BBC's behind their beer truck!  That was the best tasting beer in the world!  A job well done boys!

The Ride Profile

Friday, August 22, 2014

D2R2 160K: Oh boy is this great!

Flounder says it best!

I got my cue sheets and map laminated and mounted on the bike.  Road tested so it won't be flapping around on me, too.  I took the course that Sandy published and put it into my Google Maps Engine so that I can access it from my iPhone.  Granted, with the cue sheets, map, and my GPS I think I have enough navigational aids to get me through safely.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This week in Bike Commuting: #48

My 48th Day started on gravel and ended with gravel.  Last week I didn't commute at due to training for D2R2 by riding each time, longer than the last, and resting in between and I noticed a big difference when I was riding 100 miles on Sunday.  I was hoping to be at 50 commutes before school started but that looks like more towards the end of August.  Although 48 commutes is a new milestone because the most commutes I have ridden in a single year was 45 and that was last year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

'Merican Century Gravel Grinder and beyond!

What's next?  D2R2 is next weekend.  The 160K is not quite 100 miles but maybe I can convince Will to take a little side trip to check out the Harriman Dam to the see the Glory Hole.

... that the name of the Harriman Dam's enormous 
160' spillway is the Glory Hole? 
It is called the Glory Hole because 
it is shaped like a gigantic morning glory.

There is another long distance, gravel grinder-esce ride in the making in mid-September.  It's called J2R2 by another D2R2 and Roxbury Dirt Roads cyclist that I think encompasses some of what I just rode a long with Roxbury/Washington/New Milford dirt roads.  There is a Gravel Grinder up in Becket, MA that I will probably do, too, called F2G2, or Fall Foliage Gravel Grinder.  Not a big course, in fact not even a 100K but it's the after the ride, Oktoberfest style party that is most alluring.  Next year, it will be a toss up on whether to try the Foolish Classic again or finally do the Detour de Connecticut, a 112 mile course in the heart of the state.   There's lots of dirty riding still to be done this year!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mount Everett Randonee

You couldn't have asked for a better day to be on the bike, especially since I was going to be on the bike all day.  I have come close to riding an American Century (100 miles) on two occasions this year but never did it, but today my goal was to finally do it.  This ride would tell me what kind of shape I would be in for riding the 160K D2R2 course next week.

The route I chose was comprised of 15 dirt road sections, covering 30 to 40% of the ride, and 9000+ feet of climbing.  I invited a friend, Dan, to join me because he wanted to also ride the 160K route at D2R2, too, and I thought this would be a good test for him, as well.  Some of the challenges besides riding a 100 miles was Mt Riga Road, climbing to the top of Mt Everett and doing the backside of Skiff Mountain.

Surly Cross Check atop Mt Everett
The route was great.  One of the challenges or risks you take with the online routing programs is that the maps they use are not always accurate and sometimes roads are shown to go through but in reality that either do not or they are merely right-a-ways that went through a long time ago but no longer.  However, today's route was spot on and so were the roads!  Here is a link to the route that I rode on RideWithGPS.  Please use at your own risk and ride responsibly.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Dirty Hippy Populaire

I took a day off from work, granted I needed a break after the past four weeks of working my ass off, to ride 100K, get at least 5000 feet of climbing in, and ride some gravel in preparation for D2R2.  The funny thing with planning courses is sometimes you never know if these roads go through but today it didn't matter because I was riding my Surly Cross Check!

I had planned on riding the Dirty Hippy Populaire in the morning but a last minute scheduling change with my son's waterskiing camp meant that I would be riding afterwards and of course, as luck would have it my start time got pushed back because the kids were having so much fun.  The course I had intended to ride (red dash) was 70 miles but what I ended up riding (blue line) came about due to a few miscalculations.  When I got to Steep Rock Reservation the first part of the rail trail was kind of muddy so I routed around the second part before the tunnel but that got me thinking about what is it going to be like after the Blue Barns? 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Get ready for D2R2!

In a way, I think I have been training for D2R2 all year and with the event just two weeks away it's crunch time.  I am confident that I will be able to ride a 100 miles I just worry that it's going to take a lot longer because of all the climbing.  An internet/cycling acquaintance, whom I don't think I have ever met face-to-face drew out the 160K route on Strava but after reading Sandy Whittlesey's latest email about the routing changes I am not sure the route is 100% accurate:
The 160K will have its Guilford rest stop before the covered bridge, and then you will climb up to Marlboro via Green River Road instead of Hale Rd/Thomas Hill.  Lunch in Charlemont as last year.
The Strava route goes up Hale Rd and judging from the rest of email it sounds like there could be other course corrections that haven't been communicated therefore I would only look at this as an example of what to expect if you are riding the 160K course.  I put the course into Topofusion to get a sense of what it looks like in relation to what I road last year (118K) and you can see where the additional 60K comes from in the distance of riding further west.  Last year we added an additional 18K to the ride because went out and did the extra credit loop that consisted of three 1 mile climbs.

I have also tried two different perspectives using the 3d Generator in Topofusion, with 6 times vertical exaggeration to give a better feeling of what the hills look like in a map form. 

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Tandeming to Trumbull

I had already rode 40 miles this morning on the road bike but with two of my three children at birthday parties, it was only natural that I take Elliot over to the Housatonic Rail Trail for a little ride.  We started at the top most part of Pepper Street with the intention of seeing how far we could get in 30 minutes before turning around. With the promise of a frosty treat following today's ride and having to be home in time to shower so that we could go see a play that was being put on by the Sandy Hook Foundation, I figured an hour round trip would be good.

However, we got down to Whitney Avenue in Trumbull in about 25 minutes and it seemed like a shame not to go the entire distance, so we decided to pushed on to Tait Road.  That section is probably the steepest, if you can call anything on a railtrail steep, and we were going really fast, around 15 mph!

Pedaling home was a bit slower but we it gave us an opportunity to sample the surroundings, like this sign on the side of this house that states "Hippies use the side door!"

Of course, there is nothing better after good ride then a visit to Peach Wave!

Friday, August 08, 2014

Caroline Previdi Memorial Lemonade Stand

My ride to work on Friday morning was interesting.  I took a different route that included climbing Whisconnier and then descending West Whisconnier and then Pocono Ridge.  Such a pleasant section of road.  Then I road Stony Hill to Side Cut and then up the back side into the office park.  Along the way I rode under the main line of the Housatonic Rail Road and also the Newtown Division of that road, as well, and saw Santa along the way, too!  Not sure I like this route because it was actually a little less than 10 miles!

The best part of Friday's commute, however, was the lemonade stand off of Flat Swamp road.  It wasn't your typical $0.25 for a up of lemonade, but all donations were being made to Caroline Previdi fund, one of the innocent First Graders massacred in the 12/14/12 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

You can't say no to a lemonade stand on the side of the road while bike commuting home.  I always stop and this one was especially heart warming knowing that the kids were giving back, and they are so young, too.  My son did something similar last year, my wife helped him make Biscotti and he put them out around town for donations and made $30 to which he donated everything thing to Sandy Hook Promise and remaining Biscottis, he gave to the Police Department for evening snacks!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Randomuter is back!

There was only so much that I can do.  Tighten a cable here, adjust the B screw there, but on one of my commutes last week, the chain suck incident was the final straw.  I dropped the bike off with Shawn at the Bicycle center and trusted him to do his magic, and that is what he did.

Turns out there was a lot more wrong with the drive train than what I could tell.  The cassette was missing a spacer and the rear derailleur needed to be completely reset.  The hanger was bent and it needed a new cable and housing.  When I got it back and took it for a test spin it was a whole new bike!  

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Commuting with the Brooks Cambium

With the Randomuter (aka Surly Cross Check) in the shop for maintenance I rode Ciao Bella (aka Bianchi San Jose) to work on Tuesday however one change was made to the bike.  My Brooks Cambium Saddle has been sitting idle after trying it on my mountain bike so why not try it on the Bianchi.  I figured with the shorter distances that I usually ride on this bike it would be perfect for my fourth point of contact and it is!  That or it's finally starting to break in but that is pretty hard to tell.

Monday Night Mountain Biking

Jumped on the Spot for a quick ride at Upper Paugussett Monday night and find quite a few changes since the last time I rode here, I think mainly due to the weather activity.  The Poly Brody was pretty wet and there were a few little trees leaning over the forest road or sticking into it.  Ran into some people that I know that were about to ride Unmarked and Unsanctioned Trail in a southerly direction.  We chatted a bit but parted company on account of the bugs.  They were ferocious!

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Tandeming the Farmington Canal Greenway with Elliot

Elliot and I headed over to the Farmington Canal Greenway for a little ride to help me usher in 3000 miles for the year.  Elliot has ridden about 100 miles this year, too!  We rode up to Brooksvale Park, took a little break and then rode back to Hamden where I parked the car.  Elliot and I talk about so many things while riding the tandem and he is such an astute little boy it blows my mind that he is only 10.

This week in Bike Commuting

There is always something going on that holds me back from riding every day of the work week.  Monday it was a kid's Doctor's appointment and Wednesday it was the threat of imminent bad weather.  Not to mention the Synapse was ready to be picked up.  All I got were three bike commutes this week.  Tuesday morning it was a cold ride into the office but I sucked it up and didn't go for the snivel gear.  Even though the temperature was down I think there was still a lot of humidity which doesn't seem to make the air as cold.