Sunday, October 25, 2020

All Day Gravel

 I got an invite to join a Westchester Cycling Club gravel ride starting at the Roxbury Town Hall.  Since I worked late Friday and didn't get out on the bike I decided to ride to Roxbury from my house, which is only 12 miles.  It was misting when I left the house and contemplated going back for a jacket but it was so warm to start and it was supposed to get warmer as the day went on so I pressed on.


In Bridgewater it was still misting but as I descended Rt 67 into Roxbury it actually started to lightly rain.


I met up with the Westchester Cycling Club behind the Town Hall. After introductions were made and the ride leader, Nick, gave a brief route description we headed off. We started with 11 riders and it started raining again.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Teufelsschwanz Gravel Grinder

Here is a route that I am going to try riding on November 1st. The Devil's Tail Gravel Grinder (Teufelsschwanz GG). 

It's somewhat of a reversal of the route I rode this past Sunday and it's close to 90% Gravel Roads and Dual Track Trails.

I will keeping an eye on the weather and if it looks like rain then the rain date will be the following Sunday.

This is a self-supported ride and there will be one opportunity to stop around the 42 mile point.

Please wear orange (blaze orange is best) because it is hunting season and while hunting in CT on public lands is still not allowed it is allowed on private lands and sometimes those boundaries get a little blurry. RI, hunting is allowed on Sunday.

Ride starts from the intersection of Cut Off Road and DEEP Trail 1 in Pachaug State Forest at 9 AM. (Cutoff Rd, Voluntown, CT 06384 41.593631, -71.867397)

 Plenty of parking and port-a-jons at this location. 


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Crazy Eddie Gravel Grinder

A fellow Gravel rider, Richard, who lives in New London, CT, reached out to me a few weeks ago and wanted to know if I wanted to try a route that he came up with that connects Pachaug State Forest (CT) and Accadia State Forest (RI) and the dirt roads in between. I was so excited to be riding out this way that I spent all of my free time updating my own gravel map, Roubaix to Brew, There is a plethora of dirt out that way.


We met Sunday morning at a parking lot on Trail 2 and Hopeville Road at 9 AM. Although sunny, it was still pretty cold, a brisk 32 degrees but the weather report said it would be warming up. When Rich was getting ready I noticed the last thing he threw on was an orange reflector vest, the kind you would wear if you were out jogging on the roads. Funny, I was going to wear an orange cycling jersey but opted for my D2R2 one instead but I should have gone with the orange. In fact, I even have a blaze orange jersey in my car for emergencies. Come to find out, you need to wear orange during hunting season. However, it's still not allowed in CT on Sundays, except on private land, but is allowed in RI.

WEAR ORANGE in HUNTING SEASON! 


No need for a first dirt picture today because we started on dirt and it stayed that way for the first 4 miles of the ride, then there was a three mile paved section until we were back on dirt and it stayed that way for 8 more miles. Funny thing about the weather. As soon as we climbed higher it got warmer but then bombing down the road to Voluntown I was glad I kept my cycling jacket on because it got cold again. When he hit Fish Road, the start 8 miles of dirt I took my jacket off but kept my arm warmers and shoe covers on. 


From Green Fall Pond to the intersection with Rockville Road there were some challenging parts because it was really soft and sandy. Had it not rained on Friday it would have been really dry and tough on the climbs. Also, we were passed by a big group of dirt bikes. The best thing you can do with these guys if you hear them is move off the road/trail ASAP on any turns or where there is a limited sight line.


After crossing Rockville Road (Rt 138) the route follows a dirt path that doesn't have any name but dumps out onto one that does, Noahs Ark Road.  



Turning south onto unnamed track that happens to be the boundary between Rhode Island and Connecticut.  Eventually, the route we were following turns into Kinney Hill Road.


At the start of the ride, Richard warned me that there might be a dog or two that could come out after us. Sure enough, when we passed the first farm house on Kinney Hill I almost got T-Boned by this huge Chocolate Lab. We started pedaling harder to get away from it and it wasn't really trying to bite us. It was just chasing us and barking. Richard yelled at as I was reaching for my water bottle with the intention of spraying water in its face but it finally gave up the chase. 


The dirt roads in Arcadia were so sweet. Rich kept offering to try some trails for variation but why would you want to slow down when you could just cruise these dirt roads.


We actually came across quite a few groups of horses. Of course, you always slow down when passing horses which we did. Even the horses were decked out in blaze orange.


The biggest climb on the route was on Plain Road that headed through Arcadia State Forest. It has a max grade 10.6% for nearly 300 feet of elevation gain over 1.2 miles. Maybe not the steepest, that was on the ride up from where we parked but this was certainly the longest climb of the ride.


When you first turn onto Old Voluntown Road and see the Dead End side you have to realize that's only for cars.  The road is not dirt but it has gravel like texture, maybe a bigger stone used for the chip seal. It has steep descent followed by a steeper climb that maxes out 17.5%! 


Eventually, the road does end at a trail that is leaf covered and rocky but still rideable. The rain from earlier in the week made many wide puddles in the trail and I was glad that I had kept my shoe covers. At the start of the ride I was thinking that I should have taken my fenders off but now I was glad that I didn't. 


Old Voluntown Road ends at this impenetrable gate.  Apparently its been reinforced to keep out everyone except bikes to prevent people trying to 4x4 through here and end up getting stuck.


Continuing north and back into Pachaug State Forest it was flat for a mile or two but then starts to climb then descends and climbs again to Bailey Pond Road.


At Bailey Pond Road the road continues but Richard said that it turns to singletrack so we headed west on this this paved section of the route and a formable climb of a mile at an average 5% grade. 


It's about 4 miles to the next dirt road. Sand Hill Road starts out as paved but then gives way to dirt.



From Sand Hill, we rode all dirt roads to Hell Hollow, which wasn't dirt but were only on that for a short bit and then we were back in the State Forest and from there, it was all down hill and dirt back to the cars.



The Gravel Roads here are INSANE! 


Tuesday, June 30, 2020

MINI Bicycle Holder, Looks can be deceiving


Here is a close up of the bike rack



And this is what it looks like with a bike on it.



If you release the holding mechanism the rack slides forward so you can open the rear hatch


Looks can be deceiving because it looks like it won't open without hitting the vertical portion but it clears it with a few inches to spare.  The vertical bike holder also can be folded down when there is no bike on the rack to open the hatch.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Northern Rail Trail - fka B&M Northern Line



The Northern Recreational Rail Trail, also known as the Northern Rail Trail, is a 58-mile multi-use rail trail in western New Hampshire, USA, running from Lebanon to Boscawen. It uses the right-of-way of the Boston and Maine Railroad's former Northern Line, which was acquired by the State of New Hampshire in 1996. - Wikipedia




My goal for this ride was to ride the entire length of the trail from Boscawen to Lebanon and back. I decided to go with 5 water bottles for this trip because in my reconnoiter of the route I didn't see many places to stop near the trail and didn't want to be caught short. The weather report wasn't looking good either, there was 60% chance of rain today so I was glad for the fenders and I brought a rain jacket, too.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Lake Winnespaukee Gravel Grinder

After I solidified my plans to drive up to Epsom, NH to buy the MINI Bike Holder (what a dumb name, probably mis translated from the BMW version, Fahrradtr├Ąger, meaning Bike Carrier), I started looking for 50 to 60 mile gravel routes near Epsom, NH.  Didn't find anything that looked good so I started looking at the maps and marking roads on my Roubaix to Brew Gravel Map. Once I found enough dirt, I developed the following route:  


It will be interesting to see how the Sex Machine works have only the granny and big ring available for the ride.



First Dirt, pictured above, occurred around mile 5.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

MINI Bicycle Holder

I have never been happy with my rack mounted bicycle trays for the MINI Cooper. The road bike rack just never seemed to hold the bike tight enough and I could hear it rocking. Don't get me wrong, they worked fine, none of my bikes ever came off but the rocking noise is what bothers me the most.



5 Bottle Mounts on the Sex Machine

I am starting to explore new areas and some of them can be remote so access to stores along the route could be limited or non-existent during the Pandemic. So I mounted two more water bottles holders on the fork of my bike.


Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday Morning RBW to OOF


Just about all the Lunartics were present for this ride and it was a perfect Friday morning for a ride to our favorite French Pastry shop in Woodbury, CT. We started out riding in Pandemic TT fashion with one minute intervals but ended up catching up with one another on Transylvania Road.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Morning JoeSS

The intention of this morning's ride was to take the flattest route to Bethel and stop at Molten Java for a cup of coffee and then ride back. Unless you are riding with 3 miles of the coast there is really no flat riding around here.


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Father's Day Dirt

We decided to have a socially distant family get together this Father's Day at our house this year. This is actually the first time I have been around for Father's day because I am usually fishing in Canada this week. However, since our country's leadership has been unable to effectively contain the COVID virus, Canada is keeping its borders with the US for the foreseeable future. So the plan was that Will and his family would drive down from Spencertown and we would meet in Gaylordsville, where I would ride up there to meet him and then we would ride dirt roads back to my house.

First Dirt on this ride was Pond Brook Road.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

First Ride on #JustGoodBeer

I picked the flattest route I could find from my house for the inaugural ride of #JustGoodBeer. 



The only thing that I noticed is that the chain line appears to be off somewhat because it sounds like the front ring is hitting the chain on one side. I might try a smaller chain but for now I just going to make sure the rear wheel is aligned properly.



Two other things that I don't like is the stem and the bars.  The angle, 17 degrees is right, but length is not so I will have to get a longer stem. Theses came with the Voodoo and short of going to Carbon are a weight weenie's wet dream.  They are, however, too narrow and that's why I replaced them on the Voodoo and that's why I am going to replace them on this bike, too. 




Other than that, it rides really nice and smooth. That's what you get with the steel. Climbing is tough with city gearing 42:16 but it just means I need to get stronger. This was a great test but what I am really looking forward to riding is a Metric and America century on this bike.

Monday, June 15, 2020

State Bicycle Co Carolina Singlespeed Build

For my birthday in February, I purchased this singlespeed frameset from State Bicycle Co. My company added a new cycling team event in addition to the CT Challenge this year, the 5 Boro Bike Tour of Manhattan, and I decided I would build up a singlespeed for this event and other charity rides that I like to do throughout the year that don't have an insane amount of climbing.




It came with a headset and a seatpost collar. The selling point for me, however, was the drops because they have built in tensioners. There were a few drawbacks to this frame. The steering tube came pre-cut and since it was a 59 cm frame with a lower profile it meant that I was going to have to run a longer stem and one thing that I didn't realize is that I would need a stem with a greater rise. It also only comes with one bottle cage mount but I plan on riding some distances on this bike so I am going to have to figure out the best way to add cages without spoiling the look.


My plan was to try and use as many parts from my box of tricks as possible and then upgrade things as needed.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

I need 5 dollar to make u holla!


Riding down to the Shack (aka the Burrito Shack, favored Newtown Lunartics meeting location when riding south) I noticed that my rear wheel felt squishy so I pulled off the road and sure enough it was going flat. That snap that I had heard earlier while riding up Hanover Road turned out to be my tube. I have a sidewall tear/hole that I thought I had fixed with a patch but the tube must have pushed out regardless.


I had two fives and a twenty on me, so it was Abe Lincoln to the rescue!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

2020, the Year of the Toilet Paper Roll

I drove over to Cheshire after work on Wednesday to buy a used single speed mountain bike frame that I wanted to build up with all the extra parts that I have laying around. I planned out a route before hand that I wanted to ride afterwards that included a new section of the Farmington Canal Trail, Mountain Road in Cheshire and the ridge that the ski area Mount Southington is on.



Given all the hoarding that initially took place with the Pandemic I found it amusing to see someone making fun of the situation with a congratulatory lawn sign for someone moving up in the world. This will also go down in history as a lost year for graduations, too.

Sunday, June 07, 2020

Saturday, June 06, 2020

Friday, June 05, 2020

Morgan Pond Trails after work



On Friday, I rode Wednesday's route in reverse and came in on those trails off of Maltbie Road.

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Exploring singletrack in Southern Newtown


I headed out after work to explore some roads and a trail system in the souther part of Newtown that I had seen on one of my prior rides. As I riding on Sanford Road, though, I found a tree blocking the road and the way it was wedged into another tree, I couldn't move it.


With my mountain bike out of action due to the fact that the rear wheel finally died and couldn't get a replacement due to the Pandemic I have been riding my CAADx more as a mountain bike now.  I figured the dirtiest way to get to Aunt Pat was to climb up Deep Brook, cut through Bentagrass, then take Beaver Dam to Ox Hill, which lined me up perfectly.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Pandemic Roubaix to Brew: OEC revisited

One of the things that I like about where I live is that my gravel/mixed terrain rides can start on a dirt road as close as a quarter of mile away. Today's ride hit First Dirt on Tamarac Road.


The goal of today's ride was to explore Stiles Road that used to connect Southbury to Woodbury.  Ride up the Trolley Bed to Tuttle Road and then check out Old East West road that runs through the middle of the Whittemore Sanctuary. Ride the Middlebury Trolley Trail, to Hop Brook Park, get on the portion of the old Railroad bed through there and then take the Larkin Bridle Trail down to OEC Brewing. Lastly ride the top part of Nelson Road.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Brown baggin' a PBR

Summer hours started officially today and when I went to get ready to ride after work I discovered that the Bondeye had a flat tire. So I came up with an alternate plan which was to take the CAADx on a dirty thirty adventure into Roxbury to ride the lower section of the Shepaug Rail Road bed.  The only legal approach to it is from a single track trail off of Minor Bridge.



Sunday, May 24, 2020

I found Huggy Bear's car in upstate NY

My Sister-in-law conspired with my wife to give our daughters some time together after they both have been secluded in our houses for so long due to the Pandemic. My daughter and I drove up to Spencertown. There are a lot of dirt roads up in Columbia County but if you stick to numbered county roads you can avoid the dirt. I planned a route from their place, up to Stephentown, over the Brodie Mountain Road and then back to Spencertown.


Riding up County Road 295 we came across the is pimp Lincoln Continental. I immediately thought of Huggy Bear but later I found out he drove a Grand Torino. Still, those opera windows on the side remind me of my Grandmother's Lincoln. It was blue with a white top and had the softest leather seats. 



Friday, May 22, 2020

Pandemic Roubaix to Brew: Kent Falls Brewing



We had a half day on Friday for the start of the holiday weekend. I changed packs on the CAADx because I wanted to ride to Kent Falls Brewery, buy a four pack, drink one and carry the other three home. Much easier than a growler.




Thursday, May 21, 2020

Ride after Work: Dirty 30

I headed out of the Bat Cave on the CAADx to Pond Brook Road and then made my way south through Bethel by way of Cod Fish Hill. My goal this evening was to hit Old Poverty Hollow. There aren't many dirt roads in between unless you want to ride through Huntington State Park.


Old Poverty Hollow is a gravel paradise. It's mostly flat, rarely do you see anyone else on it and there is a really nice place to stop towards the end with a nice view of the stream running through.


Riding through here is one of the two routes that I for bike commuting. On the way in, if I am riding this way I can get three dirt roads in on my way to work: Head of Meadow, Old Forge and Old Poverty Hollow. I seldom come back this way because it's longer and usually I just want to get home after work.

Looking back toward Mountainside Rd

Working my way back towards Newtown, I went up Mountainside Road which turns to dirt half way up the road. According to the old topo maps this road used to go through to Jet Brook Road in Newtown. While the old ROW is nearly impossible to ride, that is if I didn't have road gears on my cross bike, there is a nice little trail system off to the west. It looks like a dirt bike track and what I found is it too comes out on Jet Brook. Have to try it in the other direction some time.

Looking up hill
Jet Brook pops out onto Castle Meadow and the next abandoned road I wanted to try was Maltbie Road.


On the way up Maltie I noticed this sign which is kind of a conundrum. Does this mean that you should slow down because there are Yuppies about or this is an area for slow Yuppies. Very similar to all the Slow Children at Play signs.


The Maltbie ROW is a hidden gem that I can't believe that I have overlooked for so long.  Looks like it gets some horse traffic, too.


The north side is bordered by Newtown Open Space and I didn't see it but apparently there is another abandoned road that intersects it as well.

 

And then there is a stream running through the middle of the trail.


But since it's open space to the north (left of the picture) there is the possibility of building a reroute.


The climb out doable but a little sandy.  Eventually you come out on to Hundred Acres Road. From here you have a couple of dirty choices to choose from: ride around to Mt Nebo and then come down Ox Hill, ride through Cherry Grove, or ride to Beaver Dam. 


I took the latter route and did my normal route home: Beaver Dam, Bentagrass, Point of Rocks, Deep Brook, and then Old Echo Valley to Sanford Road.