Tuesday, September 30, 2014

SSCX and a busted Seatpost

Last weekend, on my way back up Old Farm Road I noticed what appeared to be trails on either side of the road so Sunday I headed back to check them out.  Banging a right at the barn the trail cuts diagonally across the field and then there is a stop sign?  I turn right and I am on an old road that dead ends in someone's back yard.  Headed back the other way then crossed over the tracks and into the next field.

Following the periphery of the next field there is a fork, left is more grass trail and right is single track.  I go for the singled track and it's really good, only I wish I had put on bug spray and I wish I had my mountain bike.  I pop back out on Old Farm Road and cross over into the next field.  Coming around the bottom, it turns west and climbs.  I did most of these trails as much as possible to get the lay of the land and next time I come back I am going to create a better circuit, sans single track.

On the other side of the river I rode 4 laps around the eastern field and then headed up to Fairfield Hills for a few laps on the trails at Nunnawauk Meadows. 4 laps in one direction and 2 more in the other and then I headed back down through the lower fields near the doggy park.

As they say, I was just riding along when I heard a snap and my but slipped back off the saddle and oh shit!  Now, before you go start shouting warranty, warranty, I bought this seat post off Amazon through some shady, off shore remarketer who was selling factory seconds or perhaps even knock off parts.  You get what you pay for, is all I can say.

OK, I am 5 miles from home, guess I am riding home doggy style.  It's going pretty good although my quads are killing me.  I try to lightly sit on the saddle because riding the top tube is killing my nuts and then it just comes off.  My neighbor happened to be driving by and offered assistance but I told him I got it.  Shoving everything in my back pouch I rode home.

If it wasn't for the ice cold, and I mean ice cold PBR in the fridge I think I would have been a lot more bummed out but the beer helped a lot!

Friday, September 26, 2014

This Week in Bike Commuting: Riding with Panties (*Panniers - damn auto correct)

The last day of summer was a little chilly on the way in to the office but perfect in the afternoon for riding home.  That was the day in which I broke 2000 miles on the Cross Check so on the way home, I did a 20 mile ride and got home in the dark and with no lights.  My guess is that my headlight didn't have enough charge.  It was another great day to be on the bike and it was totally worth it.

On Tuesday, however, temperatures plummeted to the mid thirties in the morning it was a full snivel gear mufti ride.  Welcome to Autumn!  Once again, the ride home was a lot warmer and I did another 30 mile round trip.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Don't Shoot Me Bro

Autumn in Connecticut means hunting season and if I can help it I like to confine my mountain bike rides to Sundays when hunting is not allowed.  However, Wednesday morning the only time I had to ride was in the morning and wasn't feeling roadie. I oranged up, found a bell to mount on the Spot (lost my Bear Bell last spring), put the visor back on my dayglo green commuting helmet and headed out to Upper Paugussett for quick pedal in the woods.

The only change I noticed was it appears there is a new connector trail coming from the Three Bears Roller which seems people are riding that section but ignoring the actual roller.  I don't blame them because it's kind of sketchy to begin with.  I need to go in there and open Mama Bear and Baby Bear back up so riders have more options to chose from.  I am always torn whether to ride that new section or not.  It's really good but I hate missing one of my favorite up and overs.

Monday, September 22, 2014

2000 miles on the Surly Cross Check

Monday was truly a spectacular morning to be on a bike. Rain the night before and a higher dewpoint made for a misty morning bike commute.  It wasn't until I stopped off at the first overpass on Rt 84 that it dawned on me that the Randomuter would be breaking 2000 miles on this ride.  My only other bike to break this milestone was the Qball but I had that bike 8 years compared to the 10 months I have been riding the Cross Check.

This was also the inaugural ride with racks.  While installing the racks I found some loose bolts on the fenders which I tightened up making the Cross Check pretty much rattle free.  There was one exception, the shifter cable hits the top of the front rack and makes an annoying rattling sound.  I might have to zip tie that down so it doesn't rattle. 2000 miles in just 10 months, wonder what I will have on this bike next year at this time.  The Cross Check is formidable commuter bike. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Looks Like I am not the Only One

On Saturday I was driving down Oakview Road after my Son's Soccer game and noticed a new Open Space marker and kiosk that I have never seen before.  I wanted to ride with Elliot in the afternoon but he wasn't feeling it so I headed out on the Bianchi San Jose for a quick jaunt.  

Rode out to this new trail off of Oakview and headed down it. I had heard about it from a friend and rumor had it there was bridge over the Pootatuck connecting this trail to the trails at The Hills.  The trail head was covered in wood chips with some nice benches. Wood chips on a trail is the worst thing in the world and riding on them felt like both my tires were flat. I pressed on but found no bridge. 

There were some trees down over the trail that made for some good barriers to hop over in true Cyclocross fashion and then I found a sign pointing down the hill to the community off of Oakview Road, which was actually up the hill.  I was kind of hoping that the trail might wind around Newtown's version of Duck Dynasty into this over grown field next to the highway but and then the trail just ends.  Play the Prices Right loser horn.  All I could do was turn around and head back the way I came.

I rode back to The Hills trying some new stuff here and there that I definitely need to ride again, only in the other direction.  Coming out of the lower field I took the dirt road that runs behinds the Dog Pound which ends in a single track trail that then splits.  The trail to the right goes straight up the hill and there is no joy in attempting that climb on 42:17 gearing and the trail to the left, which I tried, was a little better but I ended up running up it any way.  

From there I rode up to the water tanks for a loop on the Naunawalk Meadows trails and then back down the Rec Trail.  I wanted to hit the trails on the other side of the tracks but was out of time and needed to head home so I rode down past the dog walk and up Old Farm Road.  There are mowed sections on the fields on either side that seem like trails that I want to hit again sometime.  Rounding the last barn before Queen Street on the Right of Way, I encountered another guy on Cyclocross bike heading the other way who remarked as we passed "Looks like I am not the Only One!"  I shouted to him:  "Get Some!"

Friday, September 19, 2014

Foggy Fun on the Bianchi San Jose

Headed out early Wednesday morning on the Bianchi San Jose for a 15 mile ride around town. Leaving the house and heading down towards Sandy Hook, it got really foggy and it was an interesting temperature.  It was 43 degrees but the humidity made it seem a lot warmer.  The temperature ramped up the higher I climbed to the top of Castle Hill.    

Thursday, September 18, 2014

This week in Bike Commuting

Bob Maxon, the NBC Connecticut News Channel 30 weekly morning meteorologist, said Tuesday morning that it was going to start raining at 8 AM and sure enough, he was spot on!  I was leaving later because I had an early call (for me) with my off shore programming team Initially, I was going to ride my singlespeed but the rain meant I needed fenders.  

The morning rain kind of dampened my spirits because the last time I tried a rain commute I ended up with a Bike Commute Fail consisting of two flats due to broken glass in the road.  My Continental Tour Ride tires failed me miserably.  Still, I went for it because this week this would be one of my two opportunities to ride.  Despite getting wet, it was actually a pretty good commute and the Cross Check performed handsomely.

Rolled out the magic drying carpet for the Cross Check to drip dry off.  By the time I got to the office I was soaked through and through.  I used the waterproof duffel for the laptop today and it worked flawlessly.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mt Riga Randonee

"Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain tops are within reach." 
-- John Muir

There is a mountain in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut that is both the longest and highest climb in Connecticut, but don't bring your skinny road bike tires because Mt Riga road is a 3 miles of dirt road and 1300 feet of climbing fun.  I have seen some websites refer to the climb as Mt Frissell but there is no real road to the true highest point in the Connecticut.  Mt Riga Road is the highest you can get on a bike in this State.

This is now the third time I have made the climb up Mt Riga Road and each time gets better and better. If you are a Gravle Randoneur then this is your Mountain!

Friday, September 12, 2014

This week in Bike Commuting: A Cold, 90 mile week

All the weather boffins are saying that El Nino is going to have a major impact on our weather patterns this year and after this week of riding to work, I am starting to believe they might be right!

It's cold enough for shorts and warm enough for long sleeves!

Fifty degrees right now seems a lot colder when it's a lot drier out.  It's still comfortable riding, though.  I did see a roadie on Rt 302 Tuesday morning decked out in full Roadie Mufti!  Tights, gloves, long sleeve or arm warmers, and an ear band?  Yikes, it's not really that cold!  Coming home, I wore a short sleeve because it was nice out and got a 20/10 on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I rode a 20/20, twenty + miles on the way in and back, although it's getting darker now, earlier.  I rode through town and stopped at the CVS to pick up a prescription and ended up chatting with a friend in the parking lot as it continued to get darker.  The last three miles home, I switched my light from flash to full on.

Friday morning I went with another layer and it made things a lot more comfortable and the morning temperature never climbed above 54 degrees.  On the way home I put on a short sleeve but it was definitely borderline and probably would have been more comfortable riding with a long sleeve.  I had to rush home so my wife could pick up my daughter from Dance Class and I made it home in 36 minutes!  A new record.  Friday was a 10/10 day.  I think this is the most commuting miles I have ridden in one week and the funny thing is, I probably could ride more days now that school is in session and all the kid's activities are now set but I think I am going to stick to Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

The cyclists you see below popped out in front of me on Tower Road.  I think he was riding a 63 cm frame and still had the seat jacked way up!  I don't how anyone can ride without a spare tube like this guy was but then again the absence of a seat pack or a jersey with back pockets could only mean one thing ...


Monday, September 08, 2014

More laps at Fairfield Hills

Sunday was so nice out I wasn't going to let the boys stay inside all day playing Minecraft and watching YouTube Videos.  I took Elliot to Fairfield Hills and my wife made Brodie read outside on the Hammock for an hour.  Elliot got the better deal!

After a couple of laps we ran into some friends who just picked up their new bikes from The Bicycle Center in Brookfield.  We rode with their kids for a few more laps and while they haven't been riding very long, the youngest was able to keep up with Elliot on the climbs.  Even though he didn't say anything I think Elliot was beaming because he could do something better than someone else.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Candlewood Populaire

Sunday morning, I got on the Cannondale a little before 7 AM and headed out to ride another Populaire (100K+). My plan was to ride down to Bethel and pick up the Cycle Fest Route and go around Candlewood Lake but I should have paid closer attention to the CF start point rather than trying to be cute and cutting over at Walnut Tree because I got a big climbing surprise on Shelter Rock Road. Something I wasn't really expecting.  None-the-less, the view from Castle Hill made it worthwhile.  

I brought a hefty selection of food on this ride including two bananas, a snack bag of trail mix (tough to eat while pedaling), beef jerkey, Slim Jims, and two Cliff Bars.

Waldo's Hot and Steamy

My original intention for riding on Saturday was a 20 mile tandem ride with my son Elliot but after sampling what summer used to be in Connecticut to and from his Kung Fu lesson he didn't want to go back out again if he or I could help it.  So I threw the Spot onto the top of the car and headed over to Waldo.  I have never used the new parking lot before, in fact now that I think about it, it was never officially open the last time I rode here, so it's been quite some time.  Unbelievably, the parking lot was empty and I had the whole place to myself.

There were some new little challenges here and there which were fun.  There was a huge, dead, oak tree that had fallen across the trail, near the parking lot, that already been re-routed around.  By the looks of the trail it seems to have been there for quite some time.  Further down, there was a change to the trail, too, that I guess I might have heard about but didn't really think much about it.  The main trail, Red Blazed, makes a U turn and hooks back into itself that leads eventually down to the fire road and the water.  Meanwhile the what used to be the route to Captain's Log is now yellow and the section in between Captain's Log and where the new cut off has been closed.  I understand why that it because it's always been wet and it gets rutted out in the spring.  Kudos to Paula for finally making this happen!

By the time I got down to the water I was soaked in sweat.  The front of my riding shorts looked like I pissed my pants!  There was a nice wind coming off the water which made it a little pleasant but the fact remained that it was still hot and muggy.  Getting here I tried the new trail but found that it's not quite ready.  It's has some great benching and rock work but then peters out half way in.  Others have been riding it, though, and a trail is starting to form.  At one point, near the end of the park the flags stop and it's quite hard to follow where the trail is intended on going so I ended up bushwhacking a bit till I found the fisherman's trail that eventually ties into Extra Credit.  That's probably the other part of the trail but the connection to it isn't really marked.  Still, it's a great trail.

I had a great ride and felt great and few pounds lighter after that ride!

This week in Bike Commuting: TGIF

Rode the Bianchi San Jose to work Friday morning and had a little mishap on Pond Brook Road. My battery for my headlight fell off on one particularly nasty section of gravle.  I turned around to go get it and passed a car coming up the road and all I could think of is I hope he didn't run it over. Fortunately, it fell off in the middle of road and it was fine.

It's been pretty good these past couple of weeks of not having to bring home my behemoth laptop, which really is a portable, engineering workstation, the 7+ lb Dell M6600, but this weekend it had to come home with me.

I have two relatively flat routes that I can take for single speeding.  I can take hillier routes but my gearing kills me in the hills.  In the morning I rode my Pond Brook route and on the way home I rode RT 302, which I usually avoid because it can be really busy.  However, this past week it was just paved so I had to have me a taste of that black butter and smooth and buttery it was!

I was sadden to see that there was no longer a spiritual message in front of this church.  When I rode this route more frequently there was always an interesting spiritual message.  

But the new pavement was nice!
Like drinking an ice cold Pabst Blue Ribbon on a hot day.

I stopped off at the Bottle Stop for bottle of Berkshire Brewing Company's Oktoberfest.

It was a delicious way to end the day!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

This week in Bike Commuting: 40 mile Thursday!

Thursday morning I rolled out at a little before 7 AM and was enveloped in fog, I think due largely to the Housatonic River.  It was humid and very moist with just a little chill, probably caused by the water vapor.  I figured I had enough time to go for some distance this morning so I headed down Albert's Hill and then back up through Sandy Hook and up to Castle Hill.  I broke through the fog at the Blue Colony Diner and at the top of Castle Hill was rewarded with such a glorious sight of the churches and flag pole with a foggy backdrop.

It felt great to be back on the Randomuter (aka Surly Cross Check) since riding D2R2 but I realized I should have gone over the bike afterwards because it was definitely in need of a little chain lube.

The other thing bothering me was that the port side grip seemed to have slipped down the bars a bit. It was kind of loose to begin with but I guess after all that climbing at D2R2 it moved down the bars which made for an interesting ride.

I tried another new route on the way home that would net me another 20+ miles making Thursday's commute an over 40 mile day.  On Barnabas Road in Hawleyville I saw yet another bike commuter! I could tell he wasn't your typical roadie because he was wearing a computer backpack and there was a water bottle in it and no water bottle cages on the bike.  That makes two new commuters in the same week!  It's great to see so many people riding to work.

The new route is interesting because it includes three big climbs, West Whisconier Rd, Georges Hill Rd, and Parmalee Hill Rd.  I could have stretched out the route even further by riding down to Glover Rd or Mine Hill and loop through Sandy Hook and add two more hills to the route which could make it close to 30 miles!  That had to wait because I needed to get home, shower, and go to my daughter's open house.  Next time!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

When you can't ride, you can always drink beer!

Making the Chapter Meeting Ride for the Central Connecticut Chapter of New England Mountain Bike Association's monthly meeting has become increasingly difficult for me with the changes in job responsibilities so the next best thing is to hit Eli Canon's for a Pint!

I had the Eli Canon Oktoberfest but if that was an Oktoberfest then I am Monkey's Uncle!  Don't get me wrong, it was good but it tasted more like an IPA than an Oktoberfest. I forgot to ask where I stand on the Mug List.  The waiting list is like two years out but all those on it went up a notch when they dropped Dennis Rodman from the list!

On the way out, I chatted up the BBC delivery guy and he confirmed that even though BBC doesn't pasteurize their beer it can be put on the shelf and sold warm, like what I saw at the Newtown, CT Big Y market.  Berkshire Brewing Company doesn't recommend it for obvious reasons.  So, maybe I didn't get to ride my mountain bike today I did come away with some good knowledge.