Thursday, June 30, 2011

I was procrastinating at work this morning and click on the stats tab on my blogger dashboard.


It seems the majority of traffic get here from Doug's blog,

or searches for Ozzy Osbourne.

I can understand getting here from another blog about riding bikes (most of the time), but you've got to be really into Ozzy to end up here.  I went to page 20 of the results and saw no mention of Charlie rides a bike.
Imagine the disappointment  when the dedicated fan of the Prince of Darkness ends up here?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011

Putney / West Hill Race Report: I Heart VT

Mookie to the rescue!
I was really looking forward to this race last year, and was bummed I had to miss it.  I didn't think I was going to do it this year being outside the radius and all, until Mookie offered to give a lift.
The family got to got to MV for 4 days and 3 nights so maybe Charlie can go to VT for the day...
(much like Pantani or Riccò, Charlie is speaking of himself in the third person).

Due to heavy rain all week, we had to park about a mile from the race course.  Not too much of a problem, we just loaded my backpack with what we needed and used it as a pre-ride.  Before we headed out Alex asked if I had my license.  I replied "I never get carded, and they're making us park a mile away from the venue, they won't need our licenses".  Sure enough, first thing they asked at registration "Can we see your license"?
A little Charlie sweet talk (very little needed because we are in VT and people in VT are really nice), and she turned a blind eye to my negligence.

There were only a half dozen singlespeeders, so they sent us off with the juniors.
Adam gets the holeshot, and I'm making my way up the right side, where I am suddenly chopped by one of the juniors.
Argh!  You little whippersnapper!
First muddy section of the first descent Choppy crashes, and I'm in forth behind two juniors and Adam.
I out maneuver the second place junior in the singletrack and have Adam in my sights.
On Heartbreak Hill (HH) he's off the bike.  I somehow manage to grind it out and catch and pass him.  But he's a stronger descender so he's on me like white on rice.  As I try and skirt around a trail engulfing puddle I crash, opening the door for Adam to take the lead.
We finish the lap together, but as we descend from the start finish line Adam starts to open it up.  On the switchbacks we can get glimpses of one another, but he's gradually pulling away from me.
On the third lap, glimpses are getting few and far between, until we get to HH.  When I get there, he's about 2/3rds of the way up it and about to dismount for the miserable mud slog.  I know I can't catch him here, but if I try and stay on the bike longer on everything maybe I might have a chance to pull him back.
Lap 4 I'm really trying to hang it out on the descents.  I need to minimize any time Adam is gaining here.  It's working as I'm getting closer to him on the switchbacks.  I know I need to get to the top of HH before him for any chance at the win.  I round the corner (to HH), and he's about half way up it.  I pedal up to the mud, hoping I can pull him back, but he's back on the bike and over the top.
As I get to the last hill on the course, Cemetery Hill, Adam is hiking it.  I'm riding it, but he's out of reach and crosses the line 25 seconds in front of me.
I cross the line and fall on the ground.  I always think when I see XC ski racers do this they are just being over dramatic.  I meant it (I'm sure they do too).

Every time I go to Vermont, I always come away with how much I like it.  Beautiful country, great hills, and the people are so nice.  A woman overheard me asking if there was a place to get cleaned up after the race and 5 minutes later came up to me with a hand drawn map and directions.  How nice is that?
 the map

I wish Vermont was in Connecticut.

We never made it to the the destinations on the map because we found a close by stream.  I love how bike races can make people abandon all modesty.

And speaking of mud (don't you hate when a sentence begins with a conjunction?), the conditions caused carnage.  Snapped chain, broken cables, and chain suck galore.  The course was very rideable, but where the mud was thick it was greasy peanut butter goo.
It was rough out there, but then again, that's part of what makes mountain bike racing so great (says the guy riding the singlespeed).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


TJ organized a Summer Solstice kickoff ride.  His e.mail to me was enticing:
"Hope to get 3hrs ride time in."

I met Mookie and Tyson at TJ's, and the 4 of us headed North.
Everything was going pretty much how I expected; the trails out there are pretty sweet and we were enjoying the challenges

With a water fountain (but no imaginary grocery store) in the cross of the figure 8 of a loop we were riding, 3 hours should work out just fine.

But I guess TJ didn't let the other guys know about the whole 3 hour thing.
Our route discussion probably didn't really clue them in on things either; throwing around ambiguous trail names we might as well have been speaking Greek.

When we got to the Wintonbury overlook, about an hour in, Alex asked if we were at the turn around.  Having just consumed another hour's worth of calories, I explained we still had a lot of good stuff to go, and shoved off.
When we had got to Wintonbury, Mookie told us Tyson bailed; after hurting his back crashing he wasn't feeling "it" anymore.

Heading into Penwood, we had a lot of the really good climbing ahead of us.  I had my Putney gear on  so I might have been a little "rambunctious".

With Mookie was under the impression it was going to be a typical mid-week, after work affair of an hour and a half or two he fueled as such.  Consequently, when  the glycogen stores became depleted, he blew up in a spectacular fashion. 
Fortunately we were close to the road and were able to cruise back most of the way home on tarmac.
The smooth spin on pavement seemed to have a somewhat regenerative effect, as Mookie finished strong on the last bit of singletrack.

A bottle of Heed away from a great start to the Summer.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Father's Day Ride

I wasn't sure who was actually going to show up for the Father's Day ride.   A lot of big things had happened this week.
The Harmonizer became a dad, so I wasn't sure of his availability.
Mookie had taken his girlfriend away to breakdown down her defenses enough to accept his proposal.

I just never did get a definitive head count.
For all I knew, I'd be riding solo.

Then I got an e.mail from Neal confirming departure times.

All week long the weather forecast was at best iffy.
When Neal arrived though, the sun was out and looked like it was going to stay out.
Right before Neal rolled up Alex called looking for the potty...and then there were 3.

Things were still a little slimy from Friday's rain, and it was a tad muggy, but I can't actually remember a Father's Day ride that was dry.  James can attest to this who was waiting for us at the Res.
When we rode over to Alex's car, we realized he was not parked next to a migrant farm worker's truck, but none other than BC's indestructible SR5.
Perfect size group.
There were some slick spots, as in slime like ice, but with the right momentum and body English most trouble was avoided.
We were on a good pace, not record breaking by any means, but we were shooting for all the good stuff.  With the humidity we were thankful for all the opportunities to refill our bottles.  As we swung around to head back home BC wanted to stop at one of the stores I mentioned in the hamlet of Tariffville.
Ah...what I thought was a convenience store was a closed down liquor store.


Sorry Brian.
Fortunately I had an extra Cliff Bar, and we stumbled upon a kid selling lemonade on a virtually deserted street.  It seemed just enough calories to keep BC going.

On the way back time constraints were brought up.
I was on a mission to get the ride I wanted in so I shut my stinkin trap, put my head down and kept regrouping stops to a minimum.
In the end we hit everything planned, only had to skip one "bonus section" and made it back to the lot by 1:15 PM.
Mileage was a little less than I thought it would be, but elevation gain was spot on.  We never had an actual flat but there was some topping off en route.
Not all were able to indulge in Moe's, but I believe everyone enjoyed the ride.

BC gets it done
(I replaced my incoherent babbling with a techno beat)

Thursday, June 16, 2011


On my creaky ride home Monday I began to think.
What is different today than yesterday?  How is it that you rode 67 miles without a peep, and today it's max creak?

Think, think, think.

Well, I'm wearing different shoes; could different cleats really make that much of a difference?

When I got home I stood on the cranks to see if I could get a creak out them.
I'm seeing the crank arms and chain stays flex, but silence.
The creak is most prevalent when I'm out of the saddle climbing.
As I'm leaning over the bike trying to replicate my climbing position I feel a little play in the front wheel; the bearings (cartridge bearings) need to be adjusted.
My old front mtb wheel went through bearings with the lunar cycle and consequently would have loose bearings, yet it never creaked.

I adjusted the bearings, and wore the same shoes as Sunday today..

No creak.
I'll have to try my other shoes to see if can completely isolate it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

*This post has been edited to better serve the more gentile reader*

The most frustrating creak is back!
I'm going to go flipping ballistic!
Whatever they were feeding that boy at school, it's working.

Our firstest child graduated high school on Friday.  The ensuing Festival of all things "the Dude" left me in something of a cycling deficit.

I had big plans, I fell short.

Between making up for lost time at work, and recovering from 2 days of buffets, cookouts, and the most beautiful spread of sweets you could possibly imagine (sorry no photos so you'll have to use your imagination), I surrendered to a certain slothfulness.
Since I wasn't riding I did take it upon myself to replace the bottom bracket in the Fun Machine.  The old one felt great.  Freely spinning with a buttery smoothness and no detectable play, but standing on the pedals it sounded crunchy.  Because it felt so good, I went hunting for the noise elsewhere.  New cog, chain, overhauled the pedals.  After each of these repairs, the noise would subsist for a bit, usually the 15.4 miles to work, but then on the return trip would be back with a vengeance.


So Saturday I replaced the beautiful, seemingly functional
Camp-ee-know-low unit with a pedestrian Origin 8.
I wanted to give it an "epic" test.  Due to work and family commitments, I had to give it an utilitarian one.
Rode to work the reverse way. 
Worked briefly (Strava calls this "resting") and headed North into a headwind.
Once I crossed Rt6 in Bristol, the scenery began to improve; not quite the bucolic byways I had originally envisioned for the weekend,  but traffic was light, and it wasn't raining.
I was feeling great, but when I got to Simsbury I knew it was time to head for home and the Q's baseball game.  But I wanted to at least get a metric in, so I figured a loop out towards Tariffville before I head over the mountain would get me to that mark.  Halfway through I realized the loop would just be gravy.
The cherry on top of that gravy was the silence.  No clicks, creaks or crunches.  J&B's house brand saves my sanity...and isn't that what bikes are for?

Happiness is a quiet bike
Thank you Simsbury Parks and Rec
CT Roubaix

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Since the Dollar Pass debacle  the momentum is building...

After the awesome awesomeness of yesterday, I thought I'd parlay things into a Kitchen Sink Training Loop today.   I could really use the intensity.
Things didn't start too good as I crashed 7 minutes into the ride.  Impressive scratch across my knee, and some how I must have caught the buckle on my shoe when I went down  because all of a sudden the arch of my foot was being crushed.  I stood there stunned, almost in a state of shock as I tried to collect myself.  Should I quit?
After a couple of minutes I continued on slowly, and gradually began to feel somewhat normal again.
Compared to the lushness of Nassahegan, the Res was feeling quite bony.  Just couldn't get any kind of flow going.
Maybe it was the 9*F difference in temperature as I drank two large water bottles in less than 1:20.


That was the deal breaker. When the water ran out I pulled the plug, but at least I got something in.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I thought I was the man, but after James questioned my Duderiety, further investigation was called for.
It seems what I thought was the Ten Dollar Pass is merely a hill.
My bubble has been burst.
I hang my head.
At least I joined the not so exclusive anymore sub-hour club.

Sessions with The Harmonizer

James and I hooked up a pretty sweet loop in Nassahegan this evening.  I don't think the conditions could have been any better.  Too bad the earth had to rotate away from the sun. I don't think even moving pictures do Nassa justice.

Here's some videos of James showing how a pro gets it done:

I promised James I wouldn't publish all the tries it took to get this (11), but that is sort of what separates a riders like the Harmonizer from the rest of us.  That perseverance to keep trying.

How a mere mortal does it:

In the end I didn't get home until way late; too late to do laundry. The only clean shorts I have are baggies. Guess I'll just have to do another mtb ride.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

After the silly Revere debacle I got a chuckle out of this on the ride home from Ware.
We now return to our regularly scheduled program...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Legit: Domnarski Farm

Domnarski Farm has continually notched itself up in my book of favorite races.  Great "true" mountain bike course with rocks, roots, and climbs; all the good stuff.  Matt's a racer too; he gets it.  He knows what a mountain bike racer wants in a course, and in a prize list (Matt pays good!).  Domnarski Farm is legit.

Then there's the pond, zip-line and the horses for the families.  The racers are hardly missed while off playing in Matt's woods.  The pond is great for bike racers who don't want to wait in line for the hose while others detail their bikes ( looking at you Neal...j/k).  The water was delightfully warm.  I wonder if my  proximity to the toddlers had anything to do with the bathtub like temps?

Speaking of legit, let's talk singlespeed.  4 of the top 13 Cat1 racers were on singlespeeds (I went to 13 so I could include ME).  Not exactly the slacker burnouts just trying to be different we are sometimes made out to be.  Scott Levreault, winner of the SS, was the fastest Cat1 racer overall.  I met two milestones out there today by running sub-hour laps and cleaning the 10 Dollar Pass, yet I still only managed 3rd in the SS class.  I was actually only the 4th fastest singlespeeder, but Steve Witkus decided to beat up on the Cat1 40-49 group nabbing 3rd in that group (2nd fastest SS, 7th fastest overall).  Adam St. Germain confirmed my stalker-vision search results getting 2nd in SS and 9th fastest overall with a stoopid big gear...slightly bigger than the ridiculous gear Steve was pushing.  Scott was running the smallest gear of the 4 of us.  Sometimes internet wiseguys question the legitimacy of a singlespeed class, well okay, but I say give it a shot tough guy.

Funny story:  BC, the winner of the Cat1 40-49 caught me before the Ten Dollar Pass.  He was the perfect carrot to get me up it cleanly.  Maybe it was oxygen debt, but a little further up the course I caught him, and thought to myself, "gee Brian's going pretty slow".  Knowing he already took 2 minutes out of me I asked him if he was feeling alright.  He said yes and I passed him.  Well turns out it wasn't Brian, but one of his teammates as he finished 8 minutes ahead of me.

Mad props to Fabian for driving my ass to the race.  Dude refused to take gas money and was great conversation.  Thank Fab!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Invitation: The Father's Day Ride

You are cordially invited to the Father's Day ride.

At 8:00 AM on Saturday, June 18th, there will be a bicycle ride along the Metacomet ridge from West Hartford to East Granby and back.  We will hit ALL the best trails the Res, Penwood, and TJ's Backyard have to offer.  

The Father's Day ride is a tradition I started solo (because none of you shrinking violets wanted to join me).  Within a couple of years the Harmonizer had become a regular on this annual jaunt.
Last year's Father's Day ride was a miserable failure of a road ride due to extenuating circumstances.

The above gps track is similar to what the Father's Day ride will be.  Unfortunately on that day we bailed  before we got to Hatchet Hill, and skipped some really good stuff.
On the 18th, we are on a mission.

The ride will be approximately 40 miles with well over 4000' of climbing.
There are 3 water fountains along the route (there's one right in the center of T'ville!), and since we are crossing the river there are also these things in Tariffville called "stores" that sell "food"  and "drinks".  They also have another thing called a "Bar" there, but I think that kind of tomfoolery can wait until we get back to town.

Now for the not so fine or subtle print.

I know Father's Day is on Sunday the 19th.  The Q has a baseball game at noon.  I'm not riding at 5 in the morning to make sure I'm home in time for it.

You can meet me either at my house at 7:45 AM, or the Res at 8:00 AM.

After ride binging at Moe's.

There also is an important road race on Sunday.  Be honest; were you really going to podium?  The Father's Day ride is an excellent excuse for a less than stellar result.  Sorry to anyone who has to work Saturday.

The pace of the ride will be a Cat1 pace.  We usually average over 9 mph on these rides and try and keep breaks to a minimum.  We want to make it back to WeHa and burritos by about 2:00 PM, at least I do, but I won't let that interfere with hitting ALL THE GOOD STUFF.

Come prepared.  Flats are not uncommon.

It's worth the trip from out of town/state.

Hope to see you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Beautiful morning to commute in today.  Mid sixties, clear, and the humidity hadn't kicked in.  As I roll up to the shop, I hear my work neighbors A/C whirring away.

You need the air conditioner above 60*F?

They are fire sprinkler contractors so their employees need to drive trucks.  They  pretty much uses their trucks as single passenger cars (the other owner usually drives a  Lincoln pickup truck thing but today was in his wife's Ford Expedition).

They are nice guys.

How much does energy need to cost before the average American thinks about their consumption?
When does the sense of entitlement end?

Details on the Father's Day  ride tomorrow.