Monday, January 26, 2009


Put together a nice 5 mile loop of mostly hard-packed snow at the res today. Either following tire tracks from 4x4's, XC Ski tracks that hikers had trampled (uncool, but it gave me something to ride), making a single track out of the fireroads. The actual singletrack was like a luge run. Wicked Hellish if I may use the vernacular of my youth. Not too tough, but a few climbs to get your attention.

I was able to do 3 laps at a fairly decent pace. First was fastest, second was slowest. I made the last tough climb on the first lap, but had to run the last 1/3 to 1/4 the next two times up.

Ideally there would have been a lap 4, but it was getting dark, and I really didn't have it in me. So instead I learned when it's 26 F out a cool down lap is a stupid, stupid thing.

On a side note this was first time I rode Mary Jane in almost 3 months. I built the Soma as a Winter bike, but with it being consistently below freezing, not much slop to worry about.
Freewheels, hydraulic discs and suspension forks are just so 21st century; I feel like such a New World Man.

Rick, bring us home:

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quit yer Whining; it aint so bad!

Charlie shows how it's done

Nate and Charlie


Getting motivated when the mercury is low is the hardest part. Once you get past the initial 10 minutes of of your exposed flesh screaming "What the hell do you think you're doing to me!" and blood starts flowing, Winter riding can be one of the most rewarding ways to experience the beauty of the season. As well as being a super ass-grinder of a work out. Maybe the lack of oxygen has something to do with why it seems so beautiful; breath-taking if you will.

Today was much better than yesterday. Created a 4.5 mile loop with minimal pavement at the res. Hopefully the temps will stay low, and the snow will stay firm.

Yesterday I waited until the afternoon to ride hoping the temperature would drop and firm up the snow, but no such luck. Frustrating grind under the glares of hikers, but at least I was riding. Should have hit the road earlier when it was closer to 40 F.

C'est la vie.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Road Riding at Night

I had a delivery up the NW corner of the State, which gave me the opportunity to ride w/ James and the Cycleworx crew. This evening that would be Josh; shop owner, and Rt 66 30-39 expert champ, and Alex; confirmed hill junkie. Alex has entered a 12 step program though (thou shall not covet another man's titanium...).

As I pulled up to the shop, I got a sinking feeling I forgot something.
Helmet, check.
Shoes, check.
Jacket, check.
Bike, check.
Lights, check.
Batteries for said lights,DOH!

These would be better served connected to lights

Fortunately James had a spare helmet light, so after the usually pre-ride jawing, we were rolling.

I've done plenty of mtb night riding, but the extent of my night road riding is limited to getting to the trail head, which is on well lit suburban streets.
Out in Litchfield the have a different view on street lights, or maybe they are avoiding the light pollution for star gazing, anyways, a new experience.

Strikingly quiet.

I kept on thinking there was a car back, but it usually was just the light of who ever was behind me. It was hard yo differentiate pavement from snow from ice.

At about the half way point I didn't have to worry about any one's light behind me, because Alex, you know the hill junkie, had planned a fairly sadistic return which left me dangling off the back.
We'd turn a corner and be confronted by a wall of pavement. Icy snow encrusted broken pavement.
When things tilted back down, I'd be able to catch back on...until my light began to dim. It went from dim to off in a matter of a minute or two.

Now I was getting dropped going downhill! I don't know if this was a blessing or a curse, but a truck was following me and wouldn't pass. Having a truck ride right behind you is quite unnerving, but on the other hand it was all the light I had!

About a mile from town James realized I was OTB, and soft pedaled til I caught back on (Thanks J!).
Until we got to 202, I gad absolutely no clue as to where we were. I'm not real familiar with the roads out there, but at night it's a different world.

That was a lot of fun, but I'm happy to be riding in daylight and above freezing today.

Josh and James

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Make it Stop!

I really can't complain.
The snow was still too soft at the res. to get off the paved loop, but there are still some nice hills, and scenic vistas. Even with trying not to be a dick to the walkers and joggers I still averaged a respectable HR.
The problem with doing loops is the songs like this get stuck in your head!

You'll have to use your imagination; some lawyer types disapprove of the unauthorized use of crappy 80's metal.

So please hikers, walkers, skiers and joggers, I beg you, pack down the snow so I can get this horror out of me!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Grueling But Great

Yesterday Alex and I took on the res.
The wind had died down a bit, and there was the promise of temps as warm as 20 F!
Never quite made it that high but after the initial shock of cold on the ride over to the res., the temperature seem down right balmy once we began to climb (it got up to 17 F according to Garmin).
Quite a chore, probably my highest HR since the Summer, but I must say, where hikers had packed down between the XC ski tracks, made a very nice 15" singletrack even on the fireroads. Those stretches of hard packed snow have got to be some of the funnest to ride, at least until they compress to ice.

I'd love to share a picture of Alex mastering the conditions, but A: I was never quick enough w/ the camera phone to get a shot other than in the lot, and B: Even if I had, I still can't figure out how to get pictures off my phone!

Alex did snap this one of me in the lot before we hit the trails.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tires Touched Dirt

My folks are leaving for FLA on Tuesday, and what kind of son would I be if I didn't go help them clean out their frig; ie. invite myself over for dinner.
Gee, while I'm down there, there is that nice little trail network at and adjacent to Rocky Neck so if my bike just happens to be in the truck...

It's a couple mile road ride to the trails, and the network is tiny, but it is all of what makes New England great for riding in a postage stamp package.
Rocks, ledges, roots, logs, stream crossings with and without plank bridges, and rhododendron choked twisty trails barely as wide as your handle bars. All this with views of the Sound from the rocky ledge.

At first I was a little ticked that some of the outer perimeter trails were seeing a little more traffic, and widening. But the interior is still tight. Someone's been a busy boy (or girl) and has built a couple of nice challenging ribbons through the core of the park making an almost complete single track loop. Only 2.4 miles, but if you don't mind doing loops, it doesn't get much better.

As a bonus, mostly on dirt, with only limited ice.

Super bonus:
After the ride was over my Mom was ready to try and fatten up her favorite son.

Friday, January 9, 2009

It's Doable

Rode the res. yesterday. Regular loop from the new improved front lot.
Ice over soft but crunchy snow.
The west side was a real grind, and softer than the east. This however might have just been my perception, as I climbed to the ridge along the west fence line.
Most of the ice had enough texture to prevent it from being truly treacherous, but on rocks it was usually glare.
The east side seemed harder, but slicker. This is probably due to the greater amount of traffic it sees.
If I had studs for my 29'er, I'd definitely use them, but I don't, and I survived. There was only one spot where I went down that studs might have kept me upright.
As luck would have it, the picturesque ice encrusted limbs hanging down would inevitably obscure the best line, sending me into the deeper crunch of snow of the trail, or shower me with ice as I blindly rode through them.
Speaking of picturesque, watching the sun set over the winter landscape has got to be one of the most beautiful sights; too bad I didn't have my camera. Doh!
I'd say I walked less than a kilometer out of the 16k, so that means it was more than 93% 5.5 mph!
I'll ride Old Lyme today. Probably no Currier and Ives landscapes, but I'll be riding.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

JRA 2009

Things were going great.
Kim took the kids to NYC, and I had the house all to myself.
Time to get a little singletrack in before I play handyman and finish a project or two around the house.

The temperature was fairly mild, but the wind was blowing like crazy, which seems to be the way of the wind these days, so the ride over to the res. was brisk, but manageable as I pushed into the NW gusts.

Once on the trails though, in the protection of the trees it was bliss. The snow was making it a super ass-grinder, but with the wind defused, I didn't mind.
It was hardest going where others had tread before; it seems hikers must trample and post hole every square inch of the trail, or they are just not happy. When I had virgin powder everything was smooth sailing. A little too smooth when you had to turn or climb, but overall it was 75% ride-able.

So there I was having a grand old time, taking pictures of my "first tracks":

Taking pictures of my bike:

What could be better? All the hard stuff was done, all I had left was some ridge, and the fence line down to the road. I'll get home, and get extra stuff done!

Then I heard a clink. Then my bike started freewheeling. Fixed gears are not supposed to do this?
Well I guess it wasn't actually freewheeling:

Yeah! I get to walk 3 miles out of the woods and home!

I have no delusions of grandeur; I know I don't have any monster power output, but this isn't the first time this has happened to me:

Guess I'm just lucky that way.

That is one good thing about outboard bearing cranks; they swap out quick. Back to the good old XT's. The XT's are 170's, so they'll give me a little extra clearance. Maybe it's a blessing?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Day

There are some traditions that just need to be kept. One of them is the New Years Day Ride. No better way to usher in the new year than with a bike ride.

It was breathtakingly beautiful, or maybe it was just because it was 7 F, with a constant 10 mph wind with gusts up to 20 mph. I don't know what that translates into windchill-wise, but I wouldn't want to be standing around in it.

But we weren't standing around, fortunately, we were riding.
A surprisingly big group for the temperature; I knew I could count on CB1, but Bill T, and Brian P showed up too.

Crystalline blue skies, and 5" of fresh light powder, made for what has got to be one of the most picturesque rides of the year. Did anyone bring a camera? Of course not. 2 of us planned to, but with all the layering going on, I guess we forgot.

The balaclava was the fashion accessory for 2009.

For snow it was easy going, but it still added a level of challenge to the ride. Hills were that much tougher, and when you'd least expect it, you'd find the patch of ice hiding under it.

The fixie is becoming more and more second nature for me; I'm surprising myself with the stumps and logs I'm getting over. Great control in ice and snow too.

What a spectacular way to start the year.
Hopefully the next 364 days will be as good.

Happy New Year!