Sunday, December 29, 2019

Rye Street Park, South Windsor

Since I am a mountain biker at heart I decided my last bike ride of decade would be on trails. I needed to go to East Hartford to pick up a car part and I reached out to the Central Connecticut NEMBA Chapter President to see if he wanted to ride. I was thinking Case Mountain but Glenn suggested we try Rye Street Park.  

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Day Ride with the Cows

I decided a needed a new route that's easy to add or subtract miles depending upon time. So I headed down to Walnut Tree Hill and then over to Glen Road to Rt 34.  From there I road down Oak View to Wasserman Way. Riding this way gives me the option to cut in at Fairfield Hills towards Dog Pound to lessen the climb.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Lunartics Christmas Eve Day BYOB at OOF

I was the only one to dress up for the Lunartics Christmas Eve Day Ride to OOF

We took Stephanie's Hill to visit the cows

OOF was almost sold out of everything. I had to settle for a Ham and Cheese Croissant

Scott couldn't get enough

Someone saw that I had a beer at OOF and asked if they were selling beer now.
I told them that I rode with that delicious PBR in my pocket for 20 miles!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Icy trails leads to hard landings

I usually don't ride Upper Paugussett on a Saturday between September and New Years because of hunting in the forest. I went out this Saturday because I had a big road ride planned for Sunday (which was subsequently cancelled).

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Ruh roh Shaggy, rots of ruts

The ride I had on Tuesday during yet another ice storm wasn't too bad. We were expecting 5 to10 inches of snow but instead got half an inch accompanied with freezing rain. I did find a lot of ruts, frozen now, but saddening to see. There were a few wet sections here and there that I tried not to disturb any further.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Not surprised at the turn of events at Kingdom Trails

The buzz in the Northeast (US) mountain biking community right now is how the Kingdom Trails riding area just got decapitated by three land owners who have pulled out of the land use collective.  The areas in the map below indicate the properties that are NO LONGER open to mountain bikes. 

Those are some of the best trails on Darling Hill that just got closed off because of mountain bikers  being disrespectful to other users. While it's a sad day for mountain biking in the Northeast it's not surprising. It seems that there is a total lack of respect in the mountain biking community towards other users and land owners that allow us to ride on their property. 

You might not realize this but the State of Connecticut is a big land owner in which many, many miles of mountain bike trails traverse. What would happen if the State decided that mountain biking was no longer allowed in our state parks and forests? Connecticut mountain bikers would go nuts! Just because its public land and you pay taxes doesn't give you the right to build illegal trails. In fact when that happens, it hinders others that are trying to get more legal trails built on State lands from doing so. 

Being respectful to the land owners and those that build the trails also goes for knowing when not to ride the trails.  Case in point, two weeks ago, on Friday and Saturday (12/13 & 12/14), the area got 3 to 4 inches of rain. On Sunday, no one should have been riding trails in this area. If you really needed to ride, should have tried one of the local rail trails or a more sensible thing to do would be to go out and do a little trail maintenance. That's what I did last Sunday. It seems, however, that people elected to ride Upper Paugussett, given all the ruts that I found on the trails during the snow/ice storm we had the following Tuesday. 

Weather patterns have changed significantly in Northeast and it's now pretty common to see milder temperatures in November and December and with the freeze/thaw cycle, accompanied by a rain means you need to stay off the trails longer right now than you normally would have to in the Summer. 

The trails at Upper Paugussett used to drain well, that is until someone kept leaf blowing trails in the fall for a few years ago and took away that protective barrier that helped drain the trails quickly. It seems like that person is no longer doing that but unfortunately the proverbial damage has been done.  Now there are muddy sections where there were none which are leading to trail braids because no one wants to fix the problems they created.

Making changes to the trail, or closing off sections that you don't agree with, is also not being respectful to the land owner or the people who built the trail. I wonder how many people that go in to do work actually have permission to do so? If I am planning a major work day I always let the land manager know of the event. I have seen some recent re-routes that I know no permission was sought. In fact, one of the re-routes closed off a fun technical section. If you can't ride it or it slows your time on a Strava segment, don't take away another person's challenge. This change along with the removal of a few up and overs is evidence of dumbing down taking place. Improve your skills and don't change the trail!  

Don't let what happened at Kingdom Trails happen here in Connecticut! Folks are working hard to get more access and expand trail systems.  Illegal trail building makes it harder to convince land owners that we are respectful to their property and grant us permission to build more legitimate trails. Not riding after a rain or during a thaw further tarnishes our our credibility and makes us look like a bunch of self entitled pricks with no respect for the land.

Don't be that guy!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Trail Maintenance at Rockhouse Hill

I think we got around 4 inches of rain between Friday and Saturday so there was no way I was going to go mountain biking on Sunday. I could have gone for a road ride Sunday morning but instead I committed to do some trail maintenance at Rockhouse Hill with Housatonic Valley NEMBA.

Kevin and Mark were there, we rode the northern section of Rockhouse last weekend.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Lost my Cherry at Rockhouse Hill

My first ride at Rock House Hill happen to be on the coldest morning of the season. Originally we were going to meet at 9 AM but it was 14 degrees when I got up Sunday morning and decided to push back the ride an hour. I figured with another hour of sunlight it ought to warm up a little more.

Mark Coleman was leading the way with his friend Kevin, along with Ben Maxwell and his girlfriend Michelle. We started out from the dead end on Perkins Road and headed out on the Rollerville Trail (Purple and White Blazed) and OMG what fun! Rocks everywhere to launch off of or roll.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Ride to the Beach and Lunch at the Club

My original plan for riding the Saturday after Thanksgiving with Gavin was to do the Alice's Restaurant ride from Salisbury, CT to Stockbridge, MA. However, seeing that the forecast was predicting even colder temperatures, that meant that it was going to be even colder north of here, so we decided to ride south instead where it would be warmer by midday.

Starting from Gavin's house we cut across Monroe to Rt 59 and then there came upon all this traffic. There was a line of cars going all the way up North Park Avenue, obviously to Maple Row Farm. I have never seen so many cars lined up to get Christmas trees. It could have been since there was snow in the forecast for Sunday everybody was trying to get their trees on Saturday.

Friday, November 29, 2019

OOF Turkey Burner

I opted to bike commute Wednesday instead of ride with the Newtown Lunartics to Ovens of France. To make up for my folly Paul and I rode on Black Friday and we took did Trampy's Hill to visit with the cows.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Video: Cyclist getting buzzed by Newtown, CT Police Officer

As a Newtown resident and a cyclist, getting buzzed by cars is common. The law says that you have to give at least three feet of clearance when passing a cyclist. On many of the town roads there are even signs to remind drivers of the law.

Unfortunately, these reminders don't seem to be getting through because I am often buzzed at least once every ride if not more. A friend of mine was riding through Newtown on Wednesday, November 27th when he was buzzed by someone who is supposed to uphold and enforce the law. This video demonstrates that the Police Officer not only shows no regard for the law by passing the cyclist too close, when called out, threatened to cite the cyclist.      

The police officer said he gave him way more than three feet and yet the car's left tire didn't even cross over the the double yellow line. I thought I would run the numbers and see if the officer was telling the truth or not.


1.  The width of a standard lane is 10 feet but lets assume there is also a 2 foot shoulder so you have 12 feet to play with.

2.  I am going to assume the cyclist's wheel is 2 feet or so from the edge of the road, and the handle bars extend another 9 to 12 inches from the center of the bike, so let's call it 3 feet to the outward edge of the cyclist.

3.  Add another 3 feet for the law and that's 6 feet into the lane. That leaves 6 feet remaining for vehicles to safely pass this cyclist. 

4. The width of the Ford Explorer with mirrors is 7.5 feet wide. Seeing that the tire of the vehicle is basically in the center of the road that leaves less than 3 feet clearance between the vehicle and the cyclist.

5. In order for the officer's claim of giving the cyclist way more than 3 feet clearance to be valid, the vehicle would have to be basically traveling down the center of the road. Which it is was not.  

Doesn't look like the Office gave way more than three feet as he claimed.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

An abortive attempt at a new route

Two weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook about a ride where someone wanted to test a gravel route out. It piqued my curiosity and I noticed that this section of Connecticut was blank on my Roubaix to Brew gravel road map. 

Of course this prompted me to start scouring all the mapping resources at hand to update my map and like any new route I come across I could not help but throwing in a few tweaks based on what learned through my electronic reconnaissance of the area. The ride was scheduled for Sunday and I had mentioned it to my brother-in-law, Will, but then he pointed out on the Thursday prior that it was supposed to rain Sunday and suggested that we ride Saturday instead.

Monday, November 18, 2019

When is it too cold to bike commute?

I saw this meme on a Facebook post the other day and it got me thinking of my bike commute this past Friday.  The weather apps were saying it would be 26 degrees in Newtown around 5 AM.  I even checked a neighboring weather station on Weatherunderground at 4 AM and the temperature there read 25 degrees.  Since I missed the opportunity to bike commute on Veterans Day when it was truly a warm day I decided to go for it, afterall I rode last Saturday in similar temperatures and was quite fine.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Dirty discoveries in the Berkshire Foothills

I set off Saturday morning on a scriptless, local gravel exploration to try some new stuff and explore dirt roads on the Roxbury/Woodbury border that I seldom ride. I actually had a route planned but it was much longer than what I time for as I left later than I had originally intended. I waited for it to warm up a little more. With the sun higher in the sky and the temperature at 32 degrees, I rolled out.

I took my usual route from the house to Roxbury in which First Dirt is less than a half mile Sanford Road. Headed over to Black Bridge by cutting through the winery and then climbing up Walnut Tree to make a short, dirty descent on Lester Road. Unfortunately, Black Bridge is a fun descent down to the Pootatuck River.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Dirty Apple Reprise

Since Will and his wife were having dinner with us at my wife's parents' house Will and I decided to ride some gravel before hand.  Since he was taking the train I suggested we ride the dirt roads in Westchester County and I planned a route very similar to the Dirty Apple which I rode a couple of weeks ago. Only this route had a tweaks that I wanted to explore.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Pilgrimage to Mt Riga

Every year since I started riding at D2R2 I have used Mt Riga Road and Sunset Rock Road as my training ground. If I can climb those two roads without having to stop I am ready for anything. This year however, I never got to Mt Riga in the spring for some reason, and when Will mentioned that he had nothing going on this Saturday and wanted to ride some gravel I suggested that we ride Mt Riga. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Hat City Invitational: Fall Foliage in Full Affect

Eric sent out an email a few weeks ago inviting me to ride a loop that is/was a popular Hat City Cyclists ride - Hat City folded last year - but the members still keep in touch and ride together. Today, we met near Macedonia State Park in Kent. On today's right was Roger,

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Dirty Apple: Rotten to the Core

I got to Golden's Bridge around 8 AM and it was a mad house.  It was impossible to find the check in line because they put the signs in front of the tables instead of behind and in view.  I recognized a former work colleague from my days at IBM, Gail Blumenfeld, that I said hello to, but she was crazed and couldn't spare any time.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Rough Road Ahead: Tighten your bra strap and remove your dentures (F2G2)

If you rode F2G2 last year then any threat of rain would probably make you a bit nervous. I think the first time I did the ride in 2014 it rained in the morning but that was nothing compared to what it was like last year (2018 post: I got lei'd at F2G2). This time around there was some rain in the forecast today but it was a 20% chance starting around 2 PM. Otherwise, the weather at the start of the ride was your typical fall day in New England, overcast and in the mid 40s.

This year's ride had a big change in that it wasn't starting from the Cantebury Farm, rather the Tyringham Fire Dept pavilion and the route mirrored the 2015 route.  I have a Google Map of all the routes:  Fall Foliage Gravel Grinder Routes. I spent the night before at Will's place in Spencertown, NY and the drive over to Tyringham only took 25 minutes.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Palm Trees in Pennsylvania?

Headed down to Carlisle, PA to visit my daughter for Parents Weekend at Dickinson College.  My wife insisted on me bringing my bike because I am an early riser and she likes to sleep in. I asked around the interwebs for routing recommendations and only one person from USMES suggested that I ride to the top of King's Gap.  I had also found some routes on RideWithGPS, too. What I really wanted to do was ride to Gettysburg but that was a little too far.  I ended up creating my own route that included King's Gap and tried to stay off busy roads.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Maple City Metric Gravel Grinder

Gavin (left), Will (center), and Me (right)
We couldn't have asked for a better day for this ride. It would be Gavin's first organized gravel grinder. It would be my second gravel grinder in Pennsylvania this year, one that I hoped to finish this time. Early in the spring Will and I attempted the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo on a cold and miserable day only to bail at the first rest stop because we were soaked and freezing.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fallsburg Rails to Trails

Gavin and I signed up for the Maple City Metric Gravel Grinder, taking place on Sunday, September, 22nd.  Since the ride started about 45 minutes from his cabin in Smallwood, NY, we headed up there on Saturday and then headed over to Hurleyville to check out the rail trail.

We headed east down the paved rail trail thinking that we could ride it some distance. Unfortunately, we the paved part of the trail ended abruptly and then we were riding on an old rail road bed. Fortunately, we had our gravel bikes but I figured that we would be riding a paved trail I decided to not bring my gear back or pump. 

We didn't find this map until we were almost in Fallsburg so we weren't really sure how far we would be actually riding.

In Fallsburg, the trail evaporated. We went riding on some roads to see if we could find it again but didn't, unfortunately.

We found a road called Tunnel Road but never found the actual tunnel. Turns out it was right under our nose.

Once back in Hurleyville we set off in the other direction and found more paved trail that we road until it stopped and then turned around. We were still able to get a few miles in and Gavin found a new place he could ride with this wife.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

New reroute on the Gussy looks like an extreme form of dumbing down the trail

I headed out to Upper Paugussett Saturday morning to ride all the trails and see how they are holding up. It's been a while since I have been on the mountain bike. First there was the issue with a broken spoke, which led to needing to have the rear hub replaced.  Then I hurt my back and couldn't ride at all. Once I was able to ride again, I found that the hub was loose and needed to take it back to the shop to get that fixed. Almost 2 months later, I am finally out on the trails and what I found was surprising.

Coming up from the first new re-route, the bermed climb, the trail did a little s-turn and then headed back towards a cool technical section with a small roller and a rocky section.  I was surprised to find this blocked off and the trail went back to the old route that it used to take pre-tornado.

Where you see the mile marker is where the reroute is. It has a nice to flow to it but I reopened the blocked off section (see map above) and rode the techy roller in both directions. It's a tough feature but it's fun. Who ever did this is pretty selfish, though, because you shouldn't block off the fun stuff because you can't ride it. I can understand the need for a B-line, only this is pretty extreme.

Here is the overall map for your reference. I will say, however, that this reroute will go nicely with the big re-route that I have to finish doing just south and west of here. Look for an announcement of work days in October.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Lake 2 Lake with an unauthorized stop at Ovens of France

This year's Lake 2 Lake was moved to the fall so it could coincide with one of LOF's adaptive waterskiing clinics that was being held at their new location, the Southbury Beach. It's not really a beach but it's on the water and the ideal location for what they do. As with past years I once again helped get the word out and planned the routes, which were 100K and 50K routes.

It was a crazy start because the driveway is a 25% grade to the road that you had to walk. It was really foggy but the temperature was hovering around 60 degrees and you know that once the fog burned off it would be a glorious day and it was.

Unlike previous years, this route headed up Purchase Brook to Brown Brook and on into Roxbury. We broke out of the fog just before the climb on Brown Brook but once you got to the top Painter Hill at Topland Farms could you really appreciate it.

The best view on the ride was from Painter Ridge.  

The first rest stop was at the Murals after you turned onto Route 47 from Route 109. At 20 miles, it was the perfect point for a stop to get some food in you and top off the bottles.

We then headed up Route 47 towards New Preston. This section of road is a flat climb to Route 202 and a stretch that you can really hammer on. Then it was down Rt 202 and up Flirtation Avenue to Lake Waramaug.  

Apparently Brendan, pictured above, as well as Scott, have never ridden around the lake before and it was on their bucket list. 

The lake this morning was like glass.

The climb up to Warren was equally nice and then ripping down Rt 341 was refreshing. After turning onto Rt 202 we climbed up and then turned off onto Looking Glass Hill and climbed some more.  I had some reservations about this section but it wasn't that bad.  Then we rode over to Rt 209 and then to rest stop at Bantam Lake.  

At the rest stop we decided there was no way we were going to ride through Woodbury and not stop at Ovens of France (aka OOF) so when the route turned onto Transylvania Road we parted ways with Brendan and headed down to OOF.

Photo Credit: Gavin Arneth
I finally got to try the Sausage and Cheese baguette and it was delish! The French Roast was also a good pick me up.

The detour added a mile to the ride and a little extra time but it was totally worth it! When we got back to the beach I broke out the beer and we had BBQ hamburgers.  Brendan also won the free bike!

Photo credit: Scott Daviddow
Looks like someone in his family is getting a new bike

Photo credit: Scott Davidow