Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008, a year in review

Another year is coming to a close, and it's time to reflect on the past years accomplishments or lack there of.

Year started out as planned. Getting in as much riding as Mother Nature would allow looking forward to the race season. I don't really train with any structure, but by the middle of February I started increasing intensity, wearing a HR monitor, and generally trying to make every ride "count".

Business-wise the first quarter blew chunks, so cash flow was extremely limited which led to two cycling decisions.

The first was I had to start commuting by bike. I had done it in the past for the love of cycling, but with gas priced at $3.50 a gallon, the choice was primarily financial. My truck uses about 2 gallons of gas round trip, so that was a savings of between $7-$9 a day.

The second was I had to choose between racing or riding "The Angel Ride" . This was tough. I had raced really well in 2007, and had been anticipating the new season, and racing Expert, as apposed to the Singlespeed Open class. Maybe anticipating it too much. But with money as tight as it was I had to choose between the $100 registration fee for the Angel Ride, or race registration; The Root 66 series really front loaded the season with it's Connecticut races!
I chose the Angel Ride.

Friends' daughter is a cancer survivor, and the Hole in the Wall Gang charities meant so much to their daughter during her treatment, so it seemed like the right thing to do, and I'm glad I made that choice. It gave my commuting a second purpose, and training for the ride w/ Tom and TJ, was fun.

The ride itself was incredible. I've usually been on the support side of charity events, but being a rider was a truly rewarding experience. The support was amazing, and the food was great. On the first day, climbing the last hill to the camp, I began to get all choked up. I finished first on that day which lead to numerous jokes about "winning the charity bike ride". I hit them when they least expected it...

More commuting as the price of gas seemed to endlessly rise, but more business too, which lead to having finances to race, yet working 6 days a week sapped me of my motivation to.

I did get to race The Mt Ascutney Hillclimb, which has become something of a tradition for me. I came in 24th. In 2007 I was about 20 seconds faster and finished 20th, so I was a little disappointed, but content all the same.

More commuting, and finally a week off. We took our annual Summer hiatus on Martha's Vineyard. Almost a week of riding on my new commuter, before I had to rush back to Connectcut to take care of end of the month business responsibilities.
$125 ebay find,+ parts from the bin= classic steel road bike

Cutting back to home did give me the opportunity to ride the Tour of Litchfield Hills , which proved to me a little extra weight really doesn't make that much difference (the Univega weighs more than 4 lbs more than my Cannondale).

At the end of the Summer there was only one race left to the series. I had paid $60 for a license, and hadn't raced my mtb once so I really didn't have a choice; I was going to have to take a Saturday off and test my mettle in the SS Expert class. Well, I had my ass handed to me, but I had so much fun! I can't let another season pass without racing more!

Business slowed considerably and early this year, which was good in that I really needed a break from working 6 days a week. It gave me the chance to finally make a serious attempt at fixed gear riding. I had built "The Fun Machine" up fixed/free over the Winter as a fowl weather bike, but had pretty much left it hanging on a hook. Flipping the wheel around to the fixed side gave new life to a great riding frame. I can't get enough of that bike. I've ridden it on roads, bike paths, fireroads, even singletrack. Riding it fixed opened up a new horizon for me and cycling. Maybe a more adventureous one.

Which leads me to how I ended the year. My Soma Juice is now a fixed gear, and has seen singletrack as such. That and the swept back Nitto Northstar handlebars bars have again brought a new excitement to riding (not that I ever lost any). I was originally going to put a disc brake on the rear, but with mountain gearing (about 51"s) I don't really see a need. Leg pressure can control the rear just fine (so far!).

Since 2005 I have relished every ride I've gone on, and for 2009 that is my goal. Yes, I want to race more, and yes, I want to do more charity rides (on a fixed gear!), but ultimately I just want to enjoy the ride.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Fixed-mas

Santa brought me a Surly Fixxer for Christmas!
My original plan was to "fix" my Soma so I would have the best of both worlds; Fixed wheel a disc brake. My plan was going great until I realized I should have put the center-lock disc back on before I put the axle back in and adjusted the bearings. Doh!
The Fixxer is well made, and the instructions are very good. I do have a couple of gripes: I recommend using your original Shimano locknuts as the Surly replacements are soft white metal that strip easily. Either that or I've developed monster truck tightening force and didn't know it. Also there is no seal on the cartridge bearing; it'll probably last fine, but being used offroad and in foul weather, a seal would give some pease of mind.

We had considerable melting yesterday, so my Winter wonderland at the res. was now just a paved loop. They had plowed a section of fireroad, which got me all psyched for some dirtroad flying, but alas, it was just a short section cut-through they had plow.

There was a short section of dirt on the way up to the water tower (I scared the shiite out of a MDC worker working up there, I guess he wasn't expecting anyone to be riding up there), that was pure bliss riding with the Northstar bars, Nevegal 2.2's, and the fixed wheel.
There was another section of fireroad that wasn't plowed, but a 4x4 had drove down. Earlier in the week it was packed snow. Now it was ice. Every lap the fixed gear gave me more confidence. By the fourth lap I had built up from my initial tentativness to hammering down the rutted, icy tracks.

The fixed gear give you so much control; I can't wait to try it on real trails. I'm thinking a rear brake might be overkill. Hell, I hardly used the front brake, but I'm not going there...

I sure could get used to this; slept until 6:30 AM, rode for over 2 hours, and came home to some of Mom's pumpkin bread. Life is good!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sure Beats the trainer

After the weekend's snow, I was going riding even if it meant up and down the sidewalk in front of my house (which I might add is beautifully manicured in wide sharp paths unlike some neighbors who I will not mention, Jim Burke). The 15" we got of white and fluffy meant singletrack was out of the question, but hopefully the paved loop would be rideable at the good old res. Worse comes to worse, I figured I could always take my chances with X-mass addled zombies on the roads.

Well, the entrance gate was closed, but the old in through the out door seemed like a good idea, and well, no cop no stop, so on to the fun.

Plowed, but hard-packed snow all to myself.
After a few exploratory trips down some dead ends, I stuck to the 5k (that's Euro for 3 miles) loop, plus a trip up to the water tower as my lap. Traction was decent, with very little ice. Doing laps isn't so bad when it's so picturesque; huge contrast to the brown slush of the roads!

I don't see the need for 4 wheel drive, but I sure am glad someone does!

This is actually a somewhat steep and treacherous downhill

Monday I had to keep things shorter, due to family commitments. Tuesday I got in 4 laps, which added up to about 24 miles. My legs where telling me go, go, go, but my feet finally won the argument and we headed home after being outside for a couple hours; Lake boot are only so good.

I'm loving my new Nitto Northstar handle bars. I got the idea for a swept back drop bar a month or so ago riding along the ridge at a good clip, slightly out of the saddle. I had just put Nevegal 2.2's on my Soma, and something about how they "floated" gave me the feeling a swept bar would center my weight well for offroad hammering. As a bonus they have a little flex to them to; I'm looking forward to how they'll handle the rough stuff. Very curious how they are going to be once I can get out on the singletrack.

With the swept back bars and fenders the Soma has become a function, yet ugly duckling.

Tomorrow my Surly Fixxer is showing up, so I'll have the best of all worlds; disc brakes and a fixed gear! What could be better for Winter.
The ugly duckling

Neato! Err, I mean Nitto.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I salute you my Brother!

The weathermen, all the weathermen, were very specific: we're going to get snow, and a lot of it, and quick! In trying to get work wrapped up for the Holiday shutdown I've been working long days, knowing that if I sucked it up through Saturday, Christmas week would be easy-peasy.

Well look were sucking it up has got me, I haven't ridden all week, and now we have a storm coming!
Only one thing to do; go in super early, and try and beat the snow to the trails.

Finished up about 11:00 AM and made a mad dash for the door, so mad it turns out I left my coat and sneakers at the shop. Who cares, they'll be there in the morning, this might be my last chance to ride trails for quite a while.

From the freeze and thaw cycle, the res. was covered in a sort of giant frosted flakes frozen together kind of ice. For the most part, you'd crunch right through, for the most part... The crackle of ice only made the wheels turn a little slower, and beneath the leaves everything was frozen solid. A couple of climbs, were a little slick, but overall the ride-ability of the trails was good.

As I made my loop, the clockwise double mint fun loop (regular res loop, where I loop back around to hit a couple nice climbs), I noticed two of other sets of tracks. One set went around every log, and generally took the easy way out. The other was riding, ice be damned, over every log, rock and obstacle that the MDC could throw at them.

As I was admiring my new found kindred spirit's lines, I found a good reason to take the easy way out; icy rocks. Ice on rocks isn't crunchy, its slick (no duh).
So for a total of 50', studs might have been nice, but I doubt I'll bite the bullet and buy a set; just won't get enough use (I said that about disc brakes too). crackle of ice only made the wheels turn a little slower.

My long lost cycling brother/sister didn't take the Antler Trail on his/her loop, which is where I saw the first flurries.

Now it's really coming down.

I'll have a little extra work tomorrow, but it was so worth it!

Sorry, no pictures. I forgot my camera in my rush for one last snow free ride too.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Fun Machine is even More Funnerer!

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get out until Friday this week, but I guess it's good I'm busy at work, and it is the holidays...
Friday I decided to make the Fun Machine more offroad capable. Ditched the 30's (which I thought were 32's) for some nice fat 35's, and slapped a 19t cog on the back to give me a better offroad gear. I had to swap the chain for a 1/8" due to the cog, and ditch my fenders to fit the fatties.

I wasn't crazy about not having fenders, especially after all the rain we had this week, so I thought sticking to fireroads would be the best plan.
Did I mention how much rain we got this week?
Well best laid plans and such the fireroads were a flooded mess, but I was loving the tires and the gear. So much fun! I got a little wet (read soaked), but the fun factor was off the scale.

Saturday was more of the same. After a half day of work I met James for a blast around White Memorial in Litchfield. I can't believe I used to think WM was lame when I lived up here. It might be mostly double track, but what beautiful trails! Lots of ice, but most was crunchy or granular; not to much glare. James wasn't about to let me have all the fixed fun so he spot welded a freehub to make his 1x1 fixed. Temps were in the 20's, and our water was frozen solid within an hour. Mental note: hydrate early!

Look Mom, No Brakes!

Buena Vista

Sunday was a busy busy day. Church and parties, and CCD, and of course we had to get a tree. But what if I accidentally put my bike in the back of the truck? Well you can't have a tree and a bike back there so I guess I'll just have to ride it home. I've never been a fan of of "bike paths", but I figured this time of year traffic would be light so why not give them a shot. Being mostly a paved route home, I swapped the cog for a 17t. A little smaller gear than I'd like, but I wouldn't have to change the chain. I rode down from New Hartford into Collinsville and picked up the Farmington River Greenway. Beautiful views along the river in Collinsville, got to go over a converted railroad bridge and through a tunnel. Need to bring kids along for such excitement! It always surprises me how tree roots f' up bike paths. Everyone I've been on seems to be cracked and swelled by the surrounding trees.
Part of the Greenway was unfinished but the Fun Machine, even with tires inflated hard, still made short work of it. Go to play "Hardmen of the North" as I hammered over gravel, ice, and puddles.
I was so fun blasting down the dirt, I couldn't just ride home, I had to take a quick spin through the res. for a little fireroad action. Still damp, but not nearly the deluge aftermath of Friday. Now the gear I was worried about being to small, was feeling awfully tall, but the nice thing about a tall gear is the climb is over that much quicker!
Fixed and fireroads are quickly becoming quite dear to me.
Fat comfy tires and bike paths; I must be getting old!
I hope the weather keeps up for Christmas break!


Monday, December 8, 2008

"Almost Like Cheating"

That was the hyperbole expressed about Kenda Nevegals 29x2.2 in a MTBR review. I thought they'd make a good Winter tire, and they do, but they ain't magic. They are big and squishy, yet still roll pretty good. They hook up well, but no better than my standard go to the Maxxis Ignitor. But then again damp leaves over half frozen mud is quite the test for any tire. They do have phenomenal sidewall stiffness which lets you run stupid low pressure without rim strikes; I was @ 15 PSI on Saturday up front. They were particularly fun at cruising speed over rocky rooty ridge.

On Sunday James and I had a little fun in the snow. We did a zig-zaggy reverse loop at the W. Htfd Res. I tried to fit as much of the good stuff in as possible, only occasionally opting for the easy way out. I'd rate it at about a 6.5 on the slippiness scale. Enough snow to make it interesting, but not enough to really force a lot of hiking. James kept on berating his ability in the conditions, however he was always on my wheel, so he was making up for it somehow. He did complain once about almost dying sliding off a cliff or some such triviality, but other than that it was a blast. We saw 6 other riders , including Kerry and Charlie B (CB1), enjoy the late Autumn snow as well (that's 6 more people than I saw out Saturday).

James didn't fully understand just how pathetically slow my camera was:

When the fun is over I'm glad my basement has a floor drain:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

How was my Birthday; pretty freakin' sweet!
Skipped out of work (yes, I literally skipped) after 3.5 hours and treated myself to some store bought coffee.

Coffee in hand it was off to one of the happiest places in the world.

Photos do not do justice toe the awesome nature of Penwood's awesomeness.

After the obligatory chimney photo-op I descended into Tariffville for the sole purpose of climbing back up to the Metacomet ridge. I questioned the wisdom of this once I began the ascent.

Below is an example of how photos distort grades. I stopped to pick up my mini pump that must have been the victim of a wardrobe malfunction on the way to T-ville, and snapped this shot of what is actually a nice little grunt of a climb.

After riding it was on to lunch with my parents and nephew Braeden.

Put the butter knife down, she's your cousin! Kim brought Quinn and Lillian to join us after school.

I hope I get my wish!

Ahh, sleepy children watching Rudolph (wish comes true).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving; It's good to be home.

For the past 9 years my Sister in Law has treated us to Thanksgiving Weekend in Vermont. Last year I stayed home because I was too busy at work (and to ride my bike), but in years past, I've looked to the trip with a feel of almost dread; being stuck in a hotel without a bike.

This year was a little different. We went up on Wednesday instead of Friday, and Kim pretty much insisted I bring a bike.
I wanted to bring a MTB, but not being familiar with the area, and not wanting to drive all over the place, I chose the fixie.

Might not have been the wisest choice for ski country, especially with a 75" gear, but I feel the high speed downhill spinning, and low speed grunts back up may have payed some dividends.

We got a good start on the day Sunday and got home early enough for me to get out locally. An icy drizzle to light rain was falling, and there was a crunchy mix of sleet and snow frosting the ground just enough to make it interesting. The temperature was hovering around the freezing mark.

Between my legs aching from the fixed beating I had flogged them with, and the crummy weather I was taking it easy. But as much as my legs were aching I was still feeling strong. When ever I called upon them to power up something technical, a surprising power was there. I'd ride up whatever rock face or short steep hill, and then go back to cruising and feeling the "fixed" in my thighs.

The slight crust made for some challenges on the rocks and roots. At first I was loving my ride until I bottomed out my front tire 3 times in about a mile a decided to top it off a bit. After about 5 minutes with the mini-pump I was back on my way, only to stop 5 minutes later to let some of that pressure out, hoping to find that middle ground between rim smacking, and root sliding.

The ground was frozen, so any liquid precipitation was pooling on the trails. After about an hour and a half of surfing the icy ponds of the Metecomet trail, I was soaked to the bone. That's when the fun started to leave the ride, but I was only a half hour from home so, the suffering was minimal. On the little stretch of Main Street I hit before turning left down my street, again I was surprised by my legs when I sprinted for the corner, and power and speed came from my aching limbs (felt like someone beat the back of my thighs and calfs with a cricket bat).

Got home to a frozen hose with a muddy, ice crusted bike, with the truck still to be unloaded from the weekend, but it was great to be back on my trails again! My Soma felt light and flickible, and my trails felt like home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fixed Mountain Baby Steps

Got out for a little fixed fun this afternoon. Especially cool since I didn't think I would have the opportunity.
Headed NW into the wind figuring I'd do about an hour loop on the road, and be home in time to drive Kim and the kids too the pool.
As I was passing the res., I said "Oh why not"!
Turning onto the first fireroad, the grade immediately pitches up. I knew instantly a 75" gear might not be ideal! But then again, it wasn't as bad as I thought. The worst part was how narrow my bars were, and that my right brake lever was loose from torquing on it.
Controlling speed is becoming much easier; I hardly touched my brakes the whole ride. Nice to know they're there though!

To make it an official Mountain Fixed ride, I veered onto singletrack for about a 1/4 mile. The big gear and 700x32 tires made it Charlie Chaplin comical, but I did succeed in cleaning at least two logs.

I love how smooth and silent this bike is too. I never thought of my singlespeeds as anything but quiet, but they don't have that super smooth drivetrain feel the Fun Machine has. It is quickly becoming my favorite bike.

Sorry for the crappy picture, but the sun was low and the kids were itching to get in the pool when I got home!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


It was 19 F when I left on my ride this morning. It warmed up to a balmy 24 F by the time I got home. But the wind had picked up, so the wind chill brought it down below 10 F. I've been out in worse, but usually not until December. Most years we only get a handful of days below 20 F; preview of things to come or a weather anomaly?

Friday I tried the Surly cranks on the Juice. First pedal stroke; snap, crackle, pop! No good. When I got in to the cover of the woods, I pulled over and checked the torque on all the crank bolts. Seemed good, added a little more pre-load, and off I rolled. Crankle, snap, pop!

Ugh! I hate a noisy bike! At least the leaves will drown it out while I'm in the woods.

When I got home I removed the pedals, re-lubed and torqued back on. Crackle, crackle, crackle!
Lube the chain. Snap, snap, snap!
Fine tune the chain line. Pop, crackle, snap!
File the chain ring teeth. Snapple, popple, crack!
Change the chain-ring, which included adding a link to the chain since all I had was a larger ring. Crankle, crackle, crack!

The only thing left was the bottom bracket cups. They were silent with the XT crank, but there wasn't anything left to change.
Yanked the cups out of the Stumpjumper (where I had taken the Surly cranks from), cleaned them, lubed them, crossed myself, and put them in.
In the stand everything sounded and felt good. But what about when I actually was riding the bike?

As I rolled out this morning, and pedaled away from home all was quiet! WooHoo!

Tinkle, tinkle tink!

What the F@#*!
As I gaze down at my cranks, distraught, I see the tag from my teabag hanging out of my bottle flapping against my seat-tube.

Ahh, silence!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nothing Shook Loose: Shakedown update

After another night fumbling through the dark, the Juice is still solid and complete.
I cut the "Lower Antler Trail" out of my ride because I heard something howling in the wetlands and getting closer. I had no desire to see if it was a coyote or a wolf or how large Eastern variants get.
Switching to Ignitors made a huge difference; they're only a pound lighter (for both), but boy did they improve the ride! Bike seems to have more "zip" and traction.
Bar light did dimmed over the course of the ride. I'll swap batteries to see if it's because of the cold.
I'm definitely putting 175's on it. I got myself into a couple of situations last night were that little extra leverage would have made a difference.
Today I get to see how it rides in daylight!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Just built the Soma Juice up again as a Winter bike. What better way to give a bike a first ride shake down than a night ride?
Fortunately a very uneventful ride.
Conditions couldn't have been much better. What ground water hadn't evaporated or run off from Saturday's deluge was frozen or on it's way to being so. I was a little surprised when I went to take my first sip from my hydration pack only to find my valve frozen. I didn't realize it was that cold.


I did really like the Avid bb7's. The power was there, and I prefer the lever feel to Juicy's.
I still do not like WTB Weirwolf 2.55's. Sure they're great if you're trying to stay on top of snow, but for being so big, they shouldn't need so much air not to bottom out...and they're heavy. I'll have to switch to tried and true Ignitors, since the fatties aren't giving me any extra cush.
I might have to swap the cranks. I'm running 170's on it now, but I've grow accustom to the extra leverage 175's provide, so we'll see how it works out over the coming months.

On a lighting note, my helmet light was much brighter than my bar mounted light. They're identical lights and batteries. I think it might have been that the bar light was exposed to the cold being strapped to my stem, where as the helmet light's battery was tucked away in my leaky hydration pack. The cold might have effected the flow of current.

Finally, one good thing about all the doping scandals in pro cycling is I get killer deals on disgraced and disbanded teams cycling caps!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fixie Fever!

I seem to always get to the party late. I didn't start singlespeeding until 2006, or a 29'er until 2007. In fact I was of the opinion that singlespeeds were stupid, and 29'ers wouldn't be any good for some one my size, riding the twisty technical terrain we have in New England.
Guess what? I was wrong.
With fixed gears I was never quite so opinionated. They seemed interesting, but I never really took the time to try one out.
I made a couple of lame duck attempts, but didn't receive instant gratification, so I put it on the back burner.

Friday was damp and drizzly. My rain bike, the Fun Machine, had been hanging on a hook since Winter, stoically waiting for it's turn. Perfect time to give it another try.
I headed North towards Tariffville. My first challenge was descending Talcott Notch Rd. As my speed picked up, I instinctively tried to coast, and was greeted by my cranks insistence that I can not. Uncontrollable terror filled my gut and mind as I tried to reign the speed down. A trial by fire, I faced with again, as i descended into Avon. By the time I got to Tariffville, I began to be able regulate speed a little better, and even relax on the descents a bit trusting myself and my bike, knowing the road would tilt up again soon. Confidence grew and grew, and by the time i got to my street I was trying to do scorchers.

Saturday it was actually raining. The Fun Machine is the only bike I have with full fenders, so I decided lets keep the good times rolling.
I thought I had had an ample breakfast, but by about the third pedal revolution, I was having hunger pangs. My initial ride plan was to do a little loop around W.htfd, and try and hook up with CB1 for his morning fire-road flyer. After hitting some rough pavement and hearing my fenders rattle, I decided against such nonsense and head back towards Avon and Simsbury. I picked up the bike path by Avon Old Farms school, and rode it to Weatogue. I'm usually not a fan of bike paths, but I figured I'd have it to myself giving the weather, and I did, except for all the leaves. It gets a little confusing around Rt 44.
In Weatogue I jumped back on Rt 10 and headed to Nod Rd to head home.
Remember that hunger? When I connected back with Rt 10, I saw a beautiful oasis of light; Avon Cider Mills fritter stand was open! The scent of apple cider donuts and fritters wafted to the street. Me, not one red cent! Note to self put money in saddle bag!
Oh well, I solider on home enjoying the control and connection I was gaining with the bike, planning my next ride.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Velo Nocturnus

Tonight was the first meeting of Velo Nocturnus, and although the group was small and I had to be a party pooper, what great fun.

Brian, Kerry and I met at Cornerstone @ 6:00 PM, and snuck into the res. through Sunset Farm. I felt we needed to keep a brisk pace until we were sufficiently up the hill so we wouldn't have to worry about "the man". We'd regroup not at intersections of trail and fireroad, but randomly deep away from any motor-vehicle access.

I think I had my light pretty well dialed in; I was still able to maintain a decent pace, and only met up with a couple misplaced rocks. We took a couple of leaf induced detours, but nothing too crazy. Fireroads were great too because you could go full on.

I believe it was Brian's first night ride, and he was using borrowed lights. He made it half way, and decided to call it a night.

Unfortunately Kim had a meeting w/ other Girl Scouts leaders so I had to skip the after ride pizza and beverages, but Kerry and I had a blast and are planning on making it a weekly thing.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Due to circumstances beyond my control (a customer put a sink on hold that I was sort of bending my schedule for today and tomorrow around) I ended up with some free time this afternoon. I could rake the lawn, get a hair cut, or go for a ride.
I tried to get one of those fancy store bought haircuts, but my regular guy was out, and well it was just too darn nice to waste precious daylight moving leaves around so...
Went to the res, as per usual, for my out and back route.
This is a 15.5 mile route w/just under 1800' of climbing that starts at the main lot going counter clockwise and follows the regular loop backwards with a couple of extra hills, and lesser rode trails thrown in for good measure. Once I get to the private property after little Moab, I turn around and follow the regular loop back to the lot. I have "time checks" along the way to gauge how I'm doing.
Things started out pretty routinely; I wasn't trying to set the world on fire, just enjoy an unexpected midday ride. My first 3 check points, things were looking decent, nothing exceptional, but right around where I like to be. It was good to be back on "Mary Jane" after riding my Ol' Pal Stumpy over the weekend.
The zip-ties on my computer were a little loose, so it rotated out of my field of vision. When I got to my turn around spot I straightened it out and was surprised to see I was still in the sub-hour range. I was about a minute off my record to this point, but anything quicker than an hour, and I'm pretty psyched!
I really didn't feel I was busting a nut or anything, just keeping loose, and try to stay smooth. But hitting the turn around sub-hour put ideas in my head though.
Now I was trying to go fast. Try too hard and things will get sloppy. Take it too easy, and it's just another ride. Nothing wrong with that, but I was all amped up now.
If I got to the top of the fence line around 1:30, it takes me 13 minutes to descend from there, and I'd be back at the lot right around my record.
Computer rotates out of view again.
I get to the fence-line and take a quick peek at the time: exactly 1:30. With the leaves and the darkness on my rides lately, my 13 minute descent has been creeping up to 14 or 15 minutes. But the sweet elixir of riding while I should be working must have had a positive effect. Back at my truck at 1:41:21. Two minute faster than my previous record. Yeah! I'm faster than me!
The first time I ever recorded "the record" was after a strange ice storm in December of 2006. The trail was a frozen solid gritty surface. Everything was smoothed out; it was like a skate park. Riding my Ol' Pal Stumpy rigid, with big old 2.4" Mutanoraptors, I posted a 1:44. I never thought that would fall. This summer after a ton of road riding commuting to work, I broke that with a 1:43 and change on Mary Jane set up rigid.
Now what? Whacking 2 minutes off it is setting the bar pretty high, and I ain't getting any younger...
Here's the song that was in my head whilst riding this afternoon.
Hope I have some free time tomorrow...

Just a Reminder

Let your voice be heard!
Now that I've fulfilled my civic obligation and right, I feel perfectly fine with a little afternoon election day hooky ride.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Product Review: FSA SLK Saddle takes one for the team

I was having a hard time finding my "go to" saddle lately, the original Sella Italia Flite, so I thought I would give the FSA SLK saddle a go.
The price was right, and the advertised weight was good.
I first tried it on my road bike.
The subtle difference from one saddle to the next make a huge difference between a happy Charlie, and well, not so much.
The SLK is slightly wider at the nose, and with the smaller Q factor on a road bike, my thighs of thunder would rub said nose. I'd get used to it after a while, and didn't cause any chaffing or other ill will to me, but annoyed the crap out of me.
Next stop the MTB.
One the MTB, with the wider "Q", there was no rubbing. Hallelujah! But with a Thomson seat post I couldn't tilt it completely level. Very odd. I switched to a Ritchey post where I could level the saddle and it was firm, but comfortable. However once tilted level, if you have to get behind the saddle, your shorts and or naughty bits can get caught on the cut outs at the back of the saddle. Another strike if you ride steep techie stuff.
But today as I was hurtling over the bars trying to descend the "Chair Trail" stupid fast the SLK showed uncommon valor as it took the brunt of a tree, saving me and my Ol' Pal Stumpy from harm.

Plus': Light, relatively affordable, comfortable.

Minus': Doesn't work with all posts, wider nose, gelding maker

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Who!

Last night I took my son to see The Who at Mohegan Sun Arena.
It was truly awesome!
When I was his age (16) they were my favor my favorite. At the time they were too big to play in Connecticut, but there was no way my parents were going to let me go to New York to see them.
In the nineties, I was pretty soured to arena shows so I had no interest in seeing them then. I realized later, and especially after the death of John Entwistle that this probably a mistake. If any band could make a stadium show worthwhile it was The Who.
Fast forward to 2008 and they kicked ass. All the power and energy(well almost) of the live recordings from the 60's and 70's, but at a non-ringing volume.
Zack Starkey, and Pino Palladino filled in quite nicely for the deceased, and Simon Townshend help out big brother Pete on guitar. Rabbit Bundrick(?) was on keys, and Pete was gushing all over him.
Great show.
Best part: Afterwards my son says "That was amazing!".
So what does this have to do with bikes?
Well Charlie won't be riding a bike today, he's beat from being up past his bedtime.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Calmness Has Come To The Force

In May Charlie broke his hip riding Case MT.
5 months later he's back rockin' the Singlespeed.

Somehow the world seems a better place with Charlie on two wheels.

Friday, October 24, 2008

You Say Tomato, I Say Oh DoShut Up!

I live in a house divided. Lets just say it's now a shade of purple. Doesn't matter who's "Blue" and who's "Red", sometimes it's tense. No matter, because I had a man-date with my pal Kerry. Nothing better to scrub the election sludge out of your head like a little Eastcoast singletrack.

Kerry clearing logs so fast he's a blur!

Either that or my camera sucks

I finally get a clear shot when he dabs. Credit where credit is due, he did clean it a half dozen times while I fumbled with my camera.

Kerry dropping off a ledge


log pile

A couple of Kerry looking all racer like and determined

Unfortunately this wasn't the only time Kerry had his pump out. Not a good day for Kerry and flats.

Now my mind is all minty fresh. Hopefully this tranquility will radiate throughout my household!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oops! I Did it again!

What's missing from this picture?

Mini-tool? Check.
Pump? Check.
Tube? Check.
Your "A game"? Oh get a life it's an after work ride in West Hartford. If you need to bring your "A Game" you should be racing the 'cross race at Winding Trails. Loser.
Water Bottle. Son of a bitch! I did it again!
Got up to "Little Moab", reached down, and it's not there.
In the rush to get moving and warmed up, it was below 45 degrees F, I left my bottle in the truck. Again.
At least I know I can ride for an hour without water in ideal conditions.
I can do it, but I don't like it!
Funny thing, in a month 45 degrees F will seem like t-shirt weather.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


That bottle's not supposed to be in the cup holder. It was supposed to be in my bottle cage.
Through out the day I watched clouds roll through, occasionally letting loose a little precipitation. Nothing that was going to stop me, but enough to determine what kind of ride I was going on.

As the work day neared it's end, it was starting to look pretty good; the sky was clearing, and what little rain had fallen was drying nicely. Still, I hadn't finished work as early as I wanted so the evenings ride would have to be kept to a shorter one.

Driving to the res. the sky was split; fair to the East , gloom to the West. The res would be the center of this. But things were looking pretty dry, so all was still good.

In the rush to get out on the trail, I left my water in the truck. No problem I thought, I'd drank plenty during work, and on the ride here, and if I keep it to the Old Skool Loop, I'll be back to the truck in about an hour.

I was keeping a sub-hour pace, yet I didn't feel I was really pushing it. Relaxed and smooth. I think that's really the key to speed; keep it smooth. Violent efforts are only good for a final sprint. Or maybe the pace was due to my bike being 20 oz's lighter.

Every time I stopped to clear some dead-fall though, my hand would instinctively reach for my bottle. Doh!
After the levee, things started getting dark. I thought It still a little early for night fall, but the gloom to the West had over taken the geography. I thought I heard the wind pick up. Nope, raining.

I only had the "Antler Trail", and the final Eastern Fence-line to descend, so any discomfort would be short lived, and was still ahead of schedule for a sub-hour lap.

I'm trying a new front tire up front, a WTB Prowler. On Sunday it performed flawlessly, but conditions were ideal. Last night it was challenged. Fresh rain on fallen leaves. In the dark. Lets just say my descent wasn't as smooth, graceful, or flowing as I would have liked it to be. I'm going to reserve judgement on the tire for now, but my tried and true Ignitors are still looking pretty good.

Back at the truck, my sub-hour time had been lost, all on one dark and slippy descent.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Leaf Peeping

Looking at the foliage maps on the morning news, it seemed imperative that I should take the camera with me on a couple of rides this weekend.

A couple of problems with that:
My trail shots are usually pretty lame. This might be the nature of our trails is hard to capture. We don't have very long stretches before the trail turns, and dips, so you only see about 50' at a time. Or I just suck at photography.
Mostly it's more fun to just ride.

Friday I rode alone @ Pennwood in Simsbury. What a hoot. One of my favorite places to ride in the state.

Saturday and Sunday was at the W. Htfd Reservoir. Saturday I rode w/ Kerry, but it was the early bird special, so I didn't have any light until the end of the ride. Sunday was an unexpected afternoon ride. Some how I sold the idea to the Lovely Ms. Kim; I think after Ian's birthday party she was more susceptible to suggestion.