Monday, December 14, 2020

Coneystock Day 3

 Day 2 was a winner of a failure.  I got to donate toys and ride my bike, but couldn't stay on course.  Will Day 3 be more fruitful?

After a rest day of shoveling snow and home projects with my Lovely (she got 8" of heavy wet snow), our riding options were somewhat limited.  

We would have to drive a substantial distance somewhere to find rideable trails.  We could drive almost back to my house to find something rideable. Or we could drive 1/2 hour out of our way so I could finally meet the latest Grandbaby, then almost an hour to The Summit General Store, ride Tiny Tim, and both have an hour drive home.  

Some people are worth an extra hour and a half driving.

We both successfully uploaded the course to our prospective computers, emblazed ourselves in orange, lubed our chains, checked our tires, and HIT START COURSE.

Climb up a road through a residential area to a cul de sac, where our computers tell us to continue straight.  Ok.  We find the trail, navigating around giant puddles on a dirt double track.  Above we hear the white noise of the windmills.

My Lovely has a tendency to smell the roses and snap pictures of them and other randomness along the way.  I'm prompted to turn right.  She's not insight so it would be best to wait, just in case.  With an ear to ear grin, she blissfully rides past the turn.  

Shouting after her, she pulls a U-ie and joyfully spins up to me with tales of all the nature she's captured in the last half mile.

Looking down at her computer, it's screen is blank.  "Aren't you following the course" I ask.  "I'm following you, but I have it if I need it" she replies,

Now I'm responsible for not getting two people lost...great.

Riding with eyes glued to the screen, waiting at intersections, comparing and contrasting my location on my phone with the image on my Garmin, looking at the sky, looking at the clock, wondering if Christine is warm enough, hearing shotgun blasts all around...nerve wracking.

But every time we reconvene, she has some positive spin; "aren't those canal like puddles pretty," or "doesn't that gun powder smell nice"?!

She's having a blast so maybe, just maybe I should mellow the fuck out?

I'm starting to see some familiar landmarks from Day 2; how often do you see matching gold Trans Ams?  It's dark, but we are in the home stretch.  I have blinky lights and my Lovely has a head light.  As we yo-yo down the Trestle Trail, doing  puddle slalom, I begin to relax and realize this might actually be fun and would have been more so If I could just be in the moment a bit more.

Coneystock Day 2


Using GPS to navigate; how hard can it be?  Recently, I used the mapping screen to find my way around a new riding area.  Granted, it was small, park but I never got more than semi lost.

There's annual Christmas toy drive in Rhode Island. This year due to the obvious, is a virtual affair.  Two different loops; Bad Santa at 50 miles, and Tiny Tim at 20.  Bad Santa was being promoted as 32% road, 49% gravel, 19% shit.  

Sounds good!

With a pocket full of pizza, wrapped in blaze orange, I crossed the border with some toys for tots.  The Summit General Store was kind enough to be the dropoff depot for toys.

Turn on my Garmin, go to the route, hit start and begin following the big blue on my screen.  

I along the Trestle Trail I run into  a group doing "Tiny Tim", the 20 mile version.  We chat a bit about navigating with gps and it sounds like I'm on the right track.

Keep on following that big blue line.

I guess Jim has routed us along the North / South for the first leg of the loop.

As the trail gets a little rowdier, I'm thinking "he wasn't kidding about shit"  I'm on the Coney LTD with a 34x18, so boulder strewn, bombed out moto trails aren't too much trouble, but a lot of people are doing this on cross and gravel bikes.

At this point it occurs to me I haven't heard or seen any navigational prompts.  There's supposed to be prompts, no?  Where are my prompts?!  I want my prompts!!!

Turns out you actually have to start the "course" you're looking at and not just the Garmin.

Ok, so 5 miles off course.  I've plenty of daylight left, so maybe it'll be a metric in steady of a 50 miler?

Back on course, using both my phone and Garmin to navigate, I'm getting my prompts.

Things are going pretty well, this is actually not too hard to follow.

The course turns down the Quinnabaug Trail in Pachaug State Forest , which has a legal 65 mile motorcycle trail in it.

This is fun, ripping down a moto trail towards what my computer is calling Hell Hollow.  Cross the dirt road, and follow the trail and prompts start shouting "OFF COURSE"!

I go back to the dirt road and turn left up it.  Now it's telling me I'm .7 miles off course.  Go up the other way, again .7 miles off course.  Go back the way I came; off course.  Start back down the trail that I think is right "MAKE A U TURN".

I look at where I am on the dirt road.  I look at the sky.  I look at the clock.  I have under two hours to find the course, and stay on it before dark.  I'm guessing if I can stay on course, I have about 30 miles to go.    

Signs point to unlikely.

I give up on following the course, and use my phone to navigate roads back to the start.

Still 42 miles, and toys for tots.  

Coneystock will continue...

Monday, December 7, 2020

Coneystock Day 1

You might have heard there's a global pandemic going about.  In such people have found a new appreciation of the common bicycle.  Unfortunately the bicycle industry was caught in the perfect storm of high demand / low supply as manufacturers do their best in a new reality.  Even repair parts to fix that much loved bike that "was fine when I put it away" (stored at the bottom of a swamp for the past 15 years).

Everyone in the bicycle industry has been working super hard this year.

Beyond 11.


Which brings us to the last page of the calendar with personal days that will turn into pumpkins if they aren't used before midnight.

Ideally personal days are used to go somewhere on some great adventure.  These days, you redefine those terms.

Coneystock.  A long weekend of adventure as far as my bike and a tank of gas will take me,

Day 1

What better way to start some home spun adventures than with the Central CT classic TdT  The TdT for those not from this niche of a niche is a ride from West Hartford to Tariffville following the Metacomet trail across the Talcott Mountain ridgeline (Tour de Talcott).  The first time I did it was the day Jerry Garcia died (8/9/1995).  I only did it one way that day as I met my a friend in East Granby at his house for a ride before dinner when he got home for work.

Subsequent TdTs have been out and backs.  They have been stretched to 50 miles, 100Ks, even a 100 miler.  The "standard TdT goes from West Hartford to the Chimney in Tariffville and back. 

Trying to use the available pallet of trails to create a route with as little redundancy is half the fun.

The Enduro Boys  have made that challenge easier and funnerer

I stopped to snap a pic of their awesome new launch and sign but no way was I going to miss the fun of the berms and earth jumps to stop and take pics.

The weather couldn't have been more ideal at the 2nd cookie stop.

All in all a great start.  

Will the use of internal combustion aid adventure and increase the fun?

Thursday, November 26, 2020


 Warning:  Sappy Content!

I can't remember the actual year this tradition started, or the year the second ride happened so it could be considered a "tradition"  but it was a long time ago.

Every Thanksgiving, I go for a ride. 
No matter what.
There have been some beautiful days shared with friends and solo rides in snow.

This was the second with rain.  Not too bad for twentyish years.

The first rainy Thanksgiving, I rode over to the Rez to meet Officer Jeffery.  It was a steady, solid rain, with temps in the upper 30s.  
Then the wind started.
When we finished a pretty standard loop, and a ride home was offered, pride was happily swallowed and I jumped in the truck.

Today's rain was wet, but the temperature was mild, so it wasn't too hard to motivate.
It did briefly stopped while I was eating breakfast, but had resumed by the time I was kitted up.

The tradition is important because what the bike means to me.
It saved my life,
diverting me from becoming an over weight, alcoholic smoker.
It is freedom.
It has carried me through my darkest days.
It supports my family.

The tradition is gratitude.

and of course, as soon as I get home, the rain secedes

Who am I shitting; riding bikes is just fun!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Rabbit Season

 Ah 2020.

As we've seen with the biking boom, the corona virus is also giving hunting  a bump.  

Either that or people are trying to protect themselves from socialist forcing affordable health care down their throats.

I digress.

Hunting season began last week.  Well shotgun season, people have been bow hunting since September. but that's like singlespeed so the majority thinks you're some primitive weirdo doing things the hard way. The actual date it started varied by source but some time midweek.

We have a lot of great places to ride in the Nutmeg State.  State and town parks, MDC land, even some private land that owners have built trails on and promote their use!  

These great riding spots abutt or are also the limited great hunting spots of this tiny densely populated state.

They say hunting is best at dawn or dusk.  Ok, I buy that.  

I see a lot of deer riding.  It is unusual if I don't.  They don't seem to pay much mind to me.  They'll look up from their grazing, give me the ol' "hey guy" nod and go back about their business.  Sometimes they'll saunter off.  Rarely is there any urgence to their retreat.

I have a theory that deer can sense a hunting pheromone that hunters are emitting.  Clearly I do not have it.  On my rides deer don't care.

Last Wednesday must have been one of those days that hunting season may or my not have begun.

The Stone Rd trailhead was empty...wait over the crest of the hill, a white pickup.


Climbing the White trail to one of my favorite pee spots I hear a shotgun blast from the other side of the hill.  


Shortly there after deer gallup West


then East.


this continues  for the next 4 miles.

It's well after dawn.  Clearly there is no shortage of deer who didn't get the memo.

Cromwell Rd, another pickup, but this area is more landlocked and both deer and hunter are out of sight.

I've ridden this area during hunting season for 25 years and have only twice run into hunters.  First time, two bow hunters at the top of "the fat kid climb"  on a weekday afternoon.  The second on a Saturday morning ironically on "poacher" ("poacher" was built to avoid a particularly nasty hiking trail).

I don't want to be a buzzkill or be dead, but much like with new and renewed interest in cycling, there is/will be an increased interest in hunting.  "Noobs" often enjoy the sweet nectar of low hanging fruit.  They want the "flow" trails and the easy access.  They don't want to have to go over logs and navigate difficult terrain.

(thank you captain generalization)

This means more hunters in less remote areas.

Respect their short season, and stay safe.

Monday, July 13, 2020

CT50 2020 number 1 2020

I said I was going to clean the bathroom which makes writing my first blog post in almost 2 years seem quite appealing.

With the whole Covid thingy my race season is essentially cancelled.
No 50s
No 100Ks
No nuthin.

I heart the 50s.  I double heart being on the bike all day and wrecking myself a little bit.  So when my Lovely said she was going to her sister's for the weekend, wheels started turning.

The youth of today got wind of my plans and thought joining me for part would be nifty.

The last time I attempted a similar ride, things didn't exactly go my way.  Flatted with weak sealant, only to find my handy tube was more of a holy tube.  No patch kit.  

Who carries a patch kit theses days?  

From now on this guy.  
Patch kit, two tubes, regular multi-tool thingy, quick links, cotter pins, 5 Co2s.

Tire plugs?  Nope.  My old eyes can no longer see well enough without my glasses to plug a tire on the trail.

Unsure of water fountain situation, I dropped three bottles at Wintonbury Rd.  after work Saturday. 
 I could of had the youths bring water, but hindsight, 20/20 and the likes.

heading out into a stiff but not unpleasant headwind, I pondered what was worse, wind or humidity.  Definitely wind.  
I'd be in the woods soon enough so no matter.
Legs felt a little heavy, but it's early.

Started out with the Westside of the Res.  Cleaned "Westside to the ridge with all the good stuff" with a 19.  Yay me.
Skipped a couple trails making haste to meet the youngsters.

Super Guy's truck was there, but no Tan Man II.  Super guy soon descends from some Penwood loops, but where is Tan Man II?
We text.
We call.
Sleepy Tan Man says he can't make it.

So we're off.

Show Super Guy some trails he said he's ridden before that he hasn't ridden and take him through a scary game tunnel.

1/8 of a mile on 187 and we go in the backdoor of Cowles.

I'm getting excited for my mid-ride snack.  We decide to keep riding until we are back on the ridge.  I've been tantalizing Super Guy about my surprise snack since we met up.

His guess is fruit snacks.

His guess is WRONG!

#mountainpizza for the win!

Super Guy's mom only had cracker snacks

 not #mountainpizza

When we descend back into Tarifville, there are a couple guys in leotards hanging around the green.  Why?
Because the water fountain is on!!!
Which works out well, as Super Guy is out of water.
The packy is open too.

Packy = ice cold
water fountain = free

Back up to the ridge and on to Wintonbury.  I down all my water but the two full bottles I put on my bike.  Super Guy decides to head South with me until he's tired.
He makes it to the end of the white trail which is also a convenient turning spot.

Back through the center of Penwood, cutting down the purple to the red and back across 185.

Since they've been replacing the utility poles over the mountain the powerline gravel has been much improved.  Taking it avoids the walkers and blacktop of Res 6. and replaces it with exposed hilly gravel.

I cleaned it with a 19.  Yay me again (I predicted I'd be walking some of the loose steep stuff).

When I got back to the Res. and start doodling around the Eastside.  It looked like I was going to come up a bit short on mileage.    No bother, I'll just ride the "Hidden Singletrack" which is neither hidden or singletrack.
Then on to home.  Probably should have rode another 10 miles and pretended I was doing the Carrabassett Challenge, but fake Klondike bars and more #mountainpizza were calling.

Guess I need to clean the bathroom now.