Monday, October 29, 2012

Sir, come Burke

Since it started three years ago, I'd been interested in riding this thing called "Circumburke". It's in memoriam of Dave Blumenthal, whom I've never met, but seemed like a really cool guy. It goes around Burke Mountain, but doesn't really use Kingdom Trails much. Now that Kingdom Trails is expensive, I've only been there once. The first two years, I guess it was pretty small, but it's quite big now. I think there were like 170 mountain bikers and like 40 runners or so. It is said that the lap was 24 and participants could sign up for one or two. I signed up for two. I've never done a long mountain bike race before (further, I'm not sure if this counted as a race anyway), but I like mountain biking for a long time. Those Cat 2, 'cross race-style mountain biking races are for the birds. I upgraded to Cat 1 this year, but I don't know, mountain bike racing really hasn't interested me much this year. It's a lot less fun than just going for a bike ride. 'Cross racing is different, because it's such a silly concept that it is fun.

Anyway, I think some number of people signed up to do the two lap version, but we weren't organized into groups and there weren't different numbers or anything like that. So, I'll never really know. There was a mass start from the parking lot at the lower Burke lodge. There were a whole bunch of people, but it was pretty easy to get a spot in the first row. The start was medium pace, though I thought a bit fast for having to ride like almost 50 miles. I stayed out in front, because I didn't want to have a lot of traffic going up the singletrack climb to the CCC Road mid-mountain. I had the hole shot for the first quarter mile or so, but the pace was too fast, so I let a few people start passing me as the field stretched. They were going way too fast. I figured they'd either blow up or they were doing only one lap. The grade lessens at the CCC Road, but it gets way rockier. It being fall and all, the rocks were all covered in leaves. It made line selection sort of difficult. It wasn't really bad on the climb, but there's a long descent after all the climbing and I rode it very conservatively because I had no idea where the rocks were and I was riding a rigid bike. Lots of people passed me, but we were only like four miles in, so I wasn't too worried. 

After the leafy descent, the course came out on a dirt road. There was some farm equipment to avoid. After the dirt road, the course went through a really nasty bog. On the second lap, I ran sections of it because it was so gross after all the riders going through. Eventually, I arrived at the singletrack section. It was super twisty and loamy and went on for a long time. I got stuck in there with a bunch of super aggressive weirdos, which was pretty unpleasant and put me in sort of a sour mood. Eventually, we got out of the singletrack at some point after the first aid station. That gave way to the Gold Trail and North Pasture Trail, which were pleasant forest roads except for terrible water bars. I rode with this guy on a nice singlespeed for awhile, who was also a pretty nice guy. He wrote a blog post about the event, too; I'm the guy on the rigid green bike. Eventually, we got to Trillium or some boggy trail or something and he railed this descent and I never saw him again. When the trail came back out to the road, I knew the lap was almost over, so I started to take it easy, because the big climb was coming. Also, my back was starting to hurt something fierce. On one of the water bars, I tried to hit it like a double, but I wasn't going fast enough or I just suck, because I cased it bad. It didn't hurt at first, but it was starting to get pretty painful. When I got to the start finish, there were a bunch of people milling around, so I assumed that they were the one lap people. I saw one other guy starting on lap two and I went that way, too. The first lap was 2:24, I think, so I was well under the cutoff. 

My back was killing me on the climb, though not as much when I stood. So, I stood when I could and spent most of the climb very unhappy. The guy whom I saw start on the second lap had made a wrong turn and I went an got him. I rode ahead of him up Camptown, but I were reconnoitered at the water station on the CCC Road, because I was crouching down trying to stretch my back. He said that he hadn't seen anyone else start lap two and I hadn't either, so we were fairy sure that we were the only two lappers. I found that surprised, especially since it cost more money to sign up for two laps, so why wouldn't you get your money's worth. Anyway, I kept riding and my back loosened up slightly. The singletrack was much more enjoyable in solitude. Eventually on the Gold Trail and on the North Pasture trail, I caught up to some of runners. I was starting to cramp up and by the grace of God or the race organizers, there were pickles at the last aid station! I took a big gulp of pickle juice and my legs were instantly better. I had no idea how that stuff works, so it must be magic. The second lap was more or less like the first, but I rode somewhat slower. The other two lap fellow never caught back up to me. 

It turned out we really were the only people who did the long version, so I finished first out of two. It was fun. For insurance purposes, the event isn't a race, so I'm not sure if I won anything. The weather was really nice and the course had that back country feel so that I like so much about riding in Vermont. My back still hurts, but it responds to ibuprofen. The end.

I had really nice conversation with John McGill, the director. Very cool guy and he wants to put on an ultra cross event up there, which I think would be totally awesome.

Since I didn't take any pictures while I was riding, here are some pictures from canoeing the day before. The top one was from the day of and its beautiful sunrise.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Alley! Cat!

Every so often I wonder whatever happened to alley cats. Then, I get an email about one.

Here is one such example coming soon to Hartford. Details are below and speak for themselves.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Chris is a Richard.

Not really.  We love Chris.  But I did take a compromising picture of him on the way back from Middlefield.  Although we didn't have the promised breakfast at O'Rourke's in Middletown, we did meet up with a fascinating group of ladies from the New Haven area at the orchard and they gave us cider donuts to avoid the bonk.  A stop at the Blackbird Tavern provided the fuel for a trip back north.

Note.  The Yuba (loaded with Chris's 20lbs of miscellany) is not the best bike to take on a hilly 60 miler.  Quite capable on dirt and train tracks though.  I couldn't decide which train track photo I preferred. Your thoughts.  Maybe we could do a long river ride before it gets too cold to enjoy it properly.  I really enjoy the out of control feel of floating on leaf litter.

And then my sister came to Hartford.  We rode bikes, marched in parades (as a Dragon and Foot), and danced until we nearly collapsed.  Kristen knits and I tried on her hat.  It made me evil.  Maybe Kristen will come back and stay a while... All in favor?

I woke up late for the Bike Walk CT Traffic Safety 101 course on Sunday, but one of the instructors, who I insulted in the title, gracefully let me sneak in.  I've decided to take this course because I'm an incorrigible scofflaw and need re-education.  That and being a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor seems like something I could use in the future once I tire of silly jet engines.  One poor fellow managed to endo during the emergency stop exercise - no permanent damage though.

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Flower Street Decision

The gist of it is that the road will be closed to motor vehicle traffic, but the DOT should created a reasonable option, like a bridge, for pedestrians and cyclists. I think it's an ok resolution, though I don't think should is a very binding word, the hearing officer doesn't give any reason why people were denied intervenor status and doesn't mention any written testimony. I think the process was pretty messed up and I think there should have been some chastisement of the DOT by the hearing officer.

Here it is.

Thanks to Robert Cotto for sending me the PDF. It was mailed to him. Read more!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apple problem

I went to Glastonbury yesterday and bought some apples and corn at the farm stand on tryon rd. Then, I rode home through the Glastonbury meadows. This added to the fallnessity of the ride, but really bruised my apples.

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

More fall riding

I feel compelled to give a shout out to Haywood farm in New Hartford, because they gave me a free apple yesterday. I stopped in wanting cider, but they only had half gallons, which is a bit much in one sitting. So, I decided to have an apple instead and they only had bushels. (Or maybe pecks.) (I'm pretty sure a small basket is a peck.) I asked if I could buy just one apple and they gave it to me for free. It was a good apple, too. Head out to Hayward farm in New Hartford, very near the Harwinton line with more than a jersey pocket and buy some apples.

More trappings of fall!

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pretty bikes and leaves.

I agree with Brendan.  Fall in CT is a short, but beautiful time for riding - when it happens to stop raining.

Friday I tagged along with Patrick from Hartford Bicycle Studio to Providence Rhode Island for the Builder's Ball, a regional custom bike builder show.   The Builder's Ball is the nearby, accessible, and cheap ($3 entry) alternative to the annual North American Handmade Bicycle Show.  Lots of expensive eye candy about.  I was particularly taken by the Connecticut builder, Watson Cycles.  Photos of their commuter bike and a monster Iditarod bike included below. The snow bike included not one, but two flask holders.  I was fantasizing about rolling in to work or to the coffee shop with that beast.  What an over the top, yet still functional, bike!

Patrick had kindly tied my road bike to his roof.  Yes. No roof rack needed, just some ratchet straps.  My plan was to see if I could drum up a couch surf arrangement for the evening.  That didn't pan out.   After checking the weather forecast I headed out into the clear, cool Providence evening and followed the Washington Secondary Bike Path Southwest out of the city.  Smooth rolling to West Warwick, RI where I found a quiet city park where I rolled out the sleeping bag and air mattress.  Under the stars, as I didn't bring my tent or hammock.

The ride back today was quite nice.  Very quiet, rolling terrain leaving RI and I haven't done much riding in the far Eastern parts of CT so those were fresh tracks for me.  Took a pretty swamp photo, but it looks kinda creepy.  Maybe it was the ghoulish month of October that fouled it up?

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall riding

When I was in middle school and high school, fall used to be my favorite time of year. I actually liked all those new England trappings of fall. For some reason, I get a lot more enjoyment out of daylight now. So, as it starts to get dark early, I get depressed. It's especially bad when day light saving time is over. Everything feels very claustrophobic.

The one upside is that leading into this bleak period, the weather becomes pleasant and the trees are.pretty. I think we're at the onset of that now. I got to enjoy some of that when I rode up to westfield the other day. Apparently, they extended the bike path over passed the really sandy section, but not over the scary train trestle.

Also, will there ever be a time when I'm next to the southwick dirt jumps and I'm not on a road bike?

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Thursday, October 4, 2012