Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just Desserts

I had an hourly goal for this long weekend of giving thanks. Including the actual day of thanks, I was looking for 8+ hours.
Things started out on the right foot, with just over 2 on Thursday.
Black Friday is traditionally a big mileage day, but due to a little precipitation and miscommunication, I came up a little short of my expectations.
That's okay I thought, I'll just catch up on Saturday.
Home and auto improvements ate away the day until the sun was low. Usually I'd have gone out first thing, but had to meet a customer at 10:00 AM, not really leaving me enough time before hand.
So Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Mountain Biking Mileage Action!
I did a TdT with the green trail.
Looking at the thermometer on my house I dressed for freezing temperatures. 15 minutes in I realized that was a mistake. Fortunately for me I ran into CB1 and his merry band finishing their 8:00 AM ride. He was gracious enough to take a layer from me and even so good as to deliver it to my house.
I'm all in favor of sharing the trail (since more than likely mountain bikers would be the ones excluded if we didn't), and it was great to see so many people out hiking, but why is it always at the most technical spots?
Riding with gears has had some positive effects, like being able to climb technical stuff that I just can't do on the single speed. As I was nearing the chimney, the turn around point, I realized my ride had been dab / walk free to that which point I got hung up on the simplest of rocks.
If Garmin is correct, gears are slower for me on a ride like the TdT than singlespeed. But I think Garmin is fooked, because I'm pretty sure this ride wasn't as long as today's although Garmin has it being 2 miles longer.
But it was a great ride, and sure made up for missing a ride on as nice of a day as Saturday.
Unfortunately, I came out about 40 minutes short of my goal.
Guess I'll have to find some way to make it up!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Houston, we might have a problem

First off Happy Thanksgivings! The mere fact that you're reading this and I'm typing it means we have lots to be thankful for. I'm sure that goes far beyond just the material too. I know that is true for myself.

But now back to ME!
Riding this morning I ran into a problem with gears; my thumb doesn't work too good below freezing. I had to expend a lot of mental energy to will my thumb to do what I wanted it to do. I can try better gloves; I'm still wearing just long finger mtb gloves, but if that doesn't work, this experiment might be put on hold for a while.

No I won't try gripshift.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Numéro trois tentative

This test almost end before it started.
After the pathetic display that I didn't even finish at Moser Farm, I was thinking what's the point?
Singlespeed is just more fun, and I really can't complain about my performance.
But way back in a tiny little dark corner of my mind there is that question; what if?
What if you ran gears? Would you be faster?
Twice before I tried gears, and both times I found I was consistently as fast as my fastest, but not faster. I also got bored with it after about a month and switched back to singlespeed before actually contesting a race.
So in the spirit of be all that you can be and all that jazz, I dug the late twentieth century shifty bits out of the bin.

Last attempt at gearededness I used a front derailleur with an extra long stop screw as a chain retainer. This time I'm giving a MRP X.1 a shot. I had a hard time dialing out all the rubbing, and although I doubt it would have a significant effect on performance, I hate all that noise, noise, noise, noise, noise! After much bending and twisting I ended up modifying the cage by widening it. I used a chain roller to space the halves out. That seemed to give me enough clearance Clarence to run rub free. I'm sure there is some smug, snarky mechanic out there saying "Mine worked fine, no rubbing right out of the box". Well good for you; you rule. Now fuck off.

Another difference is a full length cable housing. I think it's sort of ugly. Well, more really ugly, but I digress, I think it will be effective. The shifting was pretty much dialed when I bolted it on. No setting the housing and removing all the slack because it runs completely from point A to B. This might be more effective in the Winter too. One of the advantages to the SS in the Winter is your drivetrain can't freeze leaving you in a gear you don't want to be in. Without all the exposed cable, this problem might be minimized.
My first test was last night. I had done the same ride last Tuesday. I was almost 9 minutes faster with gears. Now last Tuesday I was still running the massive meats, but the condition were pretty similar otherwise. Even with the more XC oriented tires, the geared version of the Swift is still about a pound heavier (than Swift + big tires).
Obviously this is just the initial test, and hardly conclusive by any stretch of the imagination, but I think I might have learned something (finally). Certain areas are best ridden like a singlespeed. Keep it in a heavier gear for technical sections, using momentum to carry you through. If you try and "spin" through a rock garden you will be slow. Only use the little gears when you can stay seated, or close to seated; if your standing use those muscles to their full advantage.
I think I'm going to try and keep it rigid too. Last time I thought a HT would let me fully capitalize on the gears, but I think it just added to the boredom.
Let's see if I can make it past a month.
I usually build my own wheels, but I found a new wheel, built with this Circus Monkey hub, DT Revs., and Stan's Crests for less than I could buy the parts. It was round and true, but the tension was on the low side. I ruined a nipple bringing it up to tension, and in replacing it, it doesn't look like any type of spoke prep was used. I'll have to keep a vigilant watch on these.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turn around; I heart mountain bikes!

Last Sunday I started out on a mini TdT to make up for the big fat DNF I got at Moser Farm. After flatting and my pump giving up the ghost it seemed my luck wasn't getting any better.
Friday I decided I had to revisit that plan. Saw Craig and Rocketman up on the Blue, and add the green to my usual route (the green trail you stoner).
Saturday I was skipping the CT State Championships so alleged college prep work could be done. Honestly though, after my ride Friday I was psyched to be getting another mountain bike ride in. Headed out at first light, met up with CB1, then hooked up with Brian P for abit. As we were riding it occurred to me that the person for whom I was skipping the CTCX champs for would not even be out of bed until long after my race was over, but that was okay, because I was having too much fun.
Sunday there was again talk of college prep, and home work, and how we were bad parents for not bringing the children kicking and screaming to church, so again I was up and out even earlier than I cared to be so I could squeak in a quick one.
After cramming as much as possible into Sunday morning, Quinny and I had the afternoon free to revisit Penwood. I always marvel at how different the trails are at walking pace.
There aren't many chances left to race this season, and I think I'm very okay with that. Next year I'm going to take a different approach to the cross season. I spent too much time working on fundamentals and not enough time riding. Riding = fun; practicing dismounts and running = not so much.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just a few notes

Wait! I was loving life on Sunday riding Maxxis Aspens, fairly minimal xc race tires ( until I tore a sidewall), so why am I running such huge meats a couple of days later?
It hasn't snowed or really changed out there.
No need for such overkill.
So when I was waiting for Stripper #69 (it's a mold cleaner/release wax) to dry, I did a quick switch. Good old Ignitor / Crossmark combo pack.
Much better. The smaller front tire actually is easier on my hand (go figure?).
I'll save the big boys for when there is actually snow.

Clearing deadfall is a good time to take a break and take a drink. That is if you remember your water bottles.
Doh! Haven't done that in a while. Ironically I saw a bottle on the trail, but that's kind if scary.

Finally, I saw a couple guys out on the trails; they looked miserable. I don't like to do things that make me miserable.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Autumn in New England

After Saturday's dismal display I needed to wash that tepid rancidness out of my mouth, and what better way than on my Swift.
Plan was to do a mini TdT, riding the res. and Penwood, but not going all the way to Tariffville.
Things were going great; it was so refreshing to be riding singletrack through the woods full tilt.
Descending down to Penwood, I must have nicked a rock, as my rear tire lost all pressure instantly through a sidewall slash.
Normally, I'd just boot it, slightly over inflate, and be on my way, but my pump decided it really wasn't interested in filling my tire after about 15 psi.
My plans thwarted, I limped home on the road.

Well it's about that time anyways; time to swap out the light racy rubber, for something more gnar'.

I put an Ardent 2.4 up front. It only has couple of rides on it. Huge volume, and very aggressive tread. On Monday it seemed I couldn't get the pressure low enough; too high and it acts like a giant rubber mallet on my hand. But I still seemed to be bottoming it out. Today I was able to lower the pressure into the teens with out bottoming, so maybe I was just riding like Ray Charles yesterday. So far I'm not really crazy about this tire. Maybe when things are muckier, or snowy, but right now it seems to be a bit much.
Out back, I went with a Kenda Nevegal 2.2. This tire has seen it's better days. This is it's third season, and I found, even though it still has significant tread, it's not quite as sticky as when it was new. I originally mounted it backwards to try and take advantage of the sharper trailing edge, but spun it around, as I wasn't too impressed with it in dry leaves. In today's dampness it did okay once I dropped the pressure below 20 psi and stopped riding like a timid little girl (maybe tire designers know more about tires than me?).

I was pretty cautious in lowering the pressure, because all I had was the world's lightest and crappiest pump, and a single CO2.
This looked a lot better on the tiny screen of my phone. It had begun to rain, and I had the woods to myself. Autumn in New England is wet leaves over rocks...
...and rides ending (or beginning) in darkness

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I signed up for both the M45+ and the Elite 1/2/3 races at Moser Farm.
20 minutes before I planned on leaving, I threw my bike into the stand to check the chain lube. Last time I rode it it was shifting fine, but now it wouldn't shift to the smallest cog. I must have messed something up on it when I did an uphill endo trying to climb the big hill in Cheshire on Wednesday. Quick fix, but never the less disconcerting.
Pre-riding everything seemed okay; a little crunchy, but okay.
Lined up in the second row, whistle blows and we're off.
Jim Thompson again has done a masterful job using the terrain to his full advantage to create a diverse and challenging course. Especially important with the weather being so nice this year (Mother Nature ain't making it hard). There were 3 or 4 sets of barriers, 2 run ups, and a mini "spiral of death".
First lap in I'm where I want to be, about tenth spot, but I'm having a hard time pushing myself. There is a bumpy descent in the beginning of the course, start of the second lap I dropped my chain on it, and that was it. I rode the rest of the lap, soft pedaling, staying out of the way, and exited at the officials table.
Just like that.
True story.
Josh and James from 503 Cycleworx had just got to the race and were parked behind me. I whined a bit about gears, to which James very astutely pointed out that they seem to work for pretty much everyone else.
Then they asked if I was going to stick around and race the E 1/2/3? I said no, but I might have used more colorful language to express my intentions.
When I got home, I whined a bit more to Kim. She was puzzled when I proclaimed my shifting whoas (shifting? gears? When did that happen?)
I'm thinking of pulling the plug on the cross season. I've had 3 mountain bike rides since September and that's just wrong.
But the State championships are next weekend and they do have a Singlespeed category. Only thing is I don't think I have it in me to swap the Kite back over to SS, so I'd have to ride the Swift which actually might work better in Cheshire.

Or I could just ride my bike.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm thinking things...
We'll see how things go this weekend, but, well, we'll see...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I was on the fence; should I go for the rare lunchtime ride or try to Rambo through the afternoon and try and get a ride in on the way home from work before dark? I like the lunchtime idea, but it seems somewhat decedent to me.

Then the power went out.

I paid the bill, right?
(of course I did, but without power there's no way to check in this day and age)

Well that makes that easy; lunchtime it is!

Rode around the local orchards and reservoirs. Who knew Crazytown could be so lovely?
I've got to do this more often.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I was just going to get a jump on the morning, grab my bike and put it in the truck.

I'm so efficient...

But you can't just take the bike out of the stand, without giving the cranks a spin. Wheels are pretty true, but we're missing a bar end cap...

and what the...

cable housing end is somewhat FUBAR'd?


Try and fit the end cap back on the frayed housing end, but you know it's an exercise in futility.

Unwrap the bar taped remove, the housing, replace the housing, re-thread the cable...
the cable's too short?
How the, is the cable too short? Housing was the same size, why isn't the cable long enough?

That's okay, I've got another Campagnolo cable left in my kit...

Thread it through...

It's too short?

What the...
How can a brand new cable be too short?
Campy must do something cute like have different front and rear cables in the kit.

Grind down the head on a Shimano cable, thread it...
Hey look at that; long enough...

Twiddle some knobs, crimp some ends...

Wrap the bars..

What did I come down here for?

...don't forget the bar end plug.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Best Time of Year

While everyone else was racing around Northhampton, I made the best of my time in CT. Tried to minimize my time on paved roads as much as possible.

Headed thru the res., and out the powerlines to Simsbury

Revisited the trails of the Stratton Brook CX course

Enjoyed the hospitality of Ethel Walker's

I'm finding in my old age, I don't mind bike paths quite so much anymore.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


The Connecticut State CX championships are coming in a little over two weeks. I had the good fortune of doing a little reconnaissance on Wednesday (Thank you Hunter and Joe!).
After Joe took a leaf blower to the "Hill People's" hill, I was able to ride it.
Hunter from Cheshire Cycles thought they should make it either harder so no one could ride it or easier so everyone could ride it.
I want it just hard enough so I can ride it but none of the other geezers I'm racing can.
Here's a preview of coming attractions:

Monday, November 1, 2010


TJ and I went for a real humdinger of a ride on Saturday. Headed South through Tariffville to Pennwood and then North to Roncari. Ironically spellcheck says humdinger is a real word whereas spellcheck is not.
I was feeling pretty guilty as we hit Pennwood because I had skipped trail maintenance to race my bike the previous Saturday. When I got to the area they had worked on I didn't feels so guilty. They cut out some awesome fast and swoopy ledge cut trail, and a challenging switch back. Their reasoning probably was the switchback was erroded (although it really hasn't changed in the 17 years I've ridden Penwood). I'm sure they had some reason.
I wasn't there, and I'm not a member of NEMBA, so I really don't get a say in the matter. Like if you don't vote then STFU!
The reason I stopped joining NEMBA was I wasn't happy with the trailwork project I did volunteer for, and the infrequency of work in my area. Well they were in my area, and maybe if I was a member I could have had some say in the "improvement" they made.
So vote.

Okay...let me have it Mark.