Sunday, October 26, 2008

highland mtb park

The Ghostship Collective went back up to Highland MTB Park in New Hampshire yesterday.

Sleep deprivation and overcast skies with a threat of rain didn't stop us. We had a blast and the temps were just right.

the collective:










more photos here:

Another good day on the bike!

Thanks for the photos Tony!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

east coast greenway

Did quite a bit of riding this past weekend. Saturday I took the fixed gear out to check out the East Coast Greenway between Farmington CT and New Haven CT. Then, on Sunday, I went out and did a 90mile road ride in support of Cancer Awareness. It was supposed to be 100miles but I took a wrong turn and omitted a 10mile stretch. My legs thanked me for that decision.

East Coast Greenway:

What is it? The East Coast Greenway is a collection of bicycle friendly paths that, ultimately, will connect Florida up to Maine. The plan is to have the entire ECGW free of motor vehicular traffic but in the interim, incomplete sections are routed along lesser traveled roads.

What did I do?
I decided to check out the section that spans between Farmington CT and New Haven CT. I'd have to say most of this route is complete whereas the remainder of the route is marked and/or construction has begun on the pathways. The main area incomplete right now is the Plainville, Northern part of Southington as well as a section through Milldale (in the I691 area). There currently is a pathway system that spans between Farmington CT and heads north on up into Massachusetts. There is also a route that heads east across the state of CT.

The East Coast Greenway website contains cue sheets that document turn-by-turn instructions (click on the cue sheets link on the left. Then sign up and you can download the *.pdf cue sheets for print-out). They are very comprehensive and include mile markers on where the turns are for those with a cycling computer on their bicycle. I found it easiest to follow the route via Google Maps. The unfortunate part was I couldn't figure out how to print the maps while including the route so I wound up using a highlighter and marking up my print-outs based on what the website showed.

My Experience: For some strange reason I decided to ride the fixed gear on this exploration. Rocking a 49x17 gear ratio I found that I turned the pedals over a total of 17,882 complete rotations in my ride down and back. (I actually thought it was more than that. Hmm.)

Here's the math for those who enjoy that kind of stuff (Thom..):

49x17 equates to 77.8 gear inches or 6.3 meters of development (aka: roll-out). That means the bicycle moves 6.3meters (about 21feet) with every complete pedal rotation.

roughly 35miles each way (70miles total or 112,654meters)

What does this mean? I pedaled a total of 17,882 complete pedal rotations on my ride to and from New Haven Saturday.

I started out at my house in West Hartford and cut out on Farmington Ave (rt4) and down route 10 into Plainville. From Plainville I began to follow the maps.

Once in Plainville you take a few back-roads in and along I84. Its a residential neighborhood so traffic is light. The only downside is this contains quite a few turns so you need to pay attention to your directions. Instead, I snapped a bunch of photographs. There were a couple of steep hills in this section. The only hills I encountered. Definitely was a bit taxing with the gearing I had on the fixie.

From there, you enter Southington and get to pick up the pathway for a few miles through Southington.

Coming out of Southington you make a right turn onto W. Main St. and ride on over towards I84. Then a quick left onto Atwater Street and head south through an industrial / residential area. Cross over I691 and you're on a freshly paved road for a few miles.

biggest greenhouse you'll ever see

Quick right at a 'y' and you eventually come out onto main street in Cheshire. Just watch out for the locals. This guy decided it was safe to sit in the back of a pick-up truck whilst holding the new interior trim down. Ever hear of rope? I see a Darwin Award coming his way...

Right on the corner of Main and Willow you'll find a bicycle shop. The name escapes me but its a good landmark as well as place to stop if you need anything. I chose not to stop. Shortly down Willow Street you'll get back on the pathways and this pretty much takes you all the way down into New Haven. This was my favorite section. The pathways were so nice to ride at this time of the year. They also contained quite a few people using them which is good to see.

Coming into New Haven there is a stretch that is incomplete, but under construction. This is down near the Merritt (rt 15) and in the area of Lake Whitney and the New Haven Country Club.
looking south:

looking north:

Time to hop off the trail and meander through some beautiful New Haven neighborhoods. Also get to ride past Lake Whitney.

Then you get to ride past some lower-income housing. I hate to say things like this, but be careful in this section (in and around Morse St). BUT, it brings you to this:

The greenway stops at Yale University. Looks like construction is underway for more pathways in and around the university. Can't wait to ride them.

I then high-tailed it over to Thai Pan Asian Restaurant on Chapel Street for some lunchtime Thai buffet. Two bowls of this and a soda and I was good to go. Off to get a haircut.

A few hours later I retraced my steps and rode home. 6hours pedaling time. It can be done quicker but I was enjoying the day.

Did get to see a bit of the sunset whilst climbing those hills in Plainville.

Ride for Cancer Awareness:
Sunday... I attempted a 100mile road ride on my road bike (with multiple gears). As if riding 70miles fixed the day prior was not enough... Well, it was for a good cause and proceeds went to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The weather was not the same as Saturday. Very overcast and the temperatures took a nose dive. I started off riding with the group (maybe 50 of us?). Our ride began at 7:15am from the Canton CT high school parking lot. Headed northeast into Simsbury and Granby. Here is a map of our route. Here is a set of cue sheets telling us where to turn.

I had my cue sheets and didn't see to have any difficulty finding the roads or making the appropriate turns. Chatted with a friend of mine, Andy Caputo, about our experiences at La Ruta last year and riding singlespeed mountain bikes. About an hour into the ride I was becoming increasingly frustrated. As much as I was riding very light and taking it super easy (since my legs were tired from Saturday's trek) I still wound up pulling ahead of everyone on the slight inclines. There was also mass confusion at many turns whereas I had no problems reading my cue sheets to figure it out.

At one point I was leading the group into a headwind just pedaling along. I thought my pace was mellow so I didn't bother to keep looking up and seeing if everyone was behind me. A few miles later I make a left turn and low-and-behold... No one is in sight. Hmm. Well, that was the final straw and I opted to go out on my own from there on out. Music in my ears and a cold road ahead of me.

Tobacco farms anyone?

It was also windy that day too. No matter which road I was on it felt like I was riding into a head-wind. I rode just about all of the route except a 10mile stretch out in Tolland CT (around the 60mile mark). I took a wrong turn and realized I could cut off 10miles. My legs decided it was best. My thighs were worked from Saturday's fixie ride so anytime I stood up to pedal up an incline I had no strength. As a result Sunday's ride was slow and every incline was a higher cadence while seated. Not a bad thing. Its good base mileage.

In the end I wound up riding probably 90miles in around 5hrs 40mins. Used two large water bottles, three bananas and two flasks of Perpetuem.

160miles in two days. It was a good, and fun, weekend!