Monday, November 21, 2011

on the trail again

Sunday was a bright and sunny, upper 50F day so after we did some chores around the house we attempted to get a mountain bike ride in. We opted to ride local so we took a shot at navigating the trails around the West Hartford Reservoir. Upon entering the reservoir we were greeted by a fallen tree from the Oct snow storm that someone trimmed a bunch of branches off so you can run underneath it.

Our loop consisted of the outer trails that circumnavigate the reservoir system. We immediately saw a ton of cleared trees that had fallen across the trail but once we got up onto the ridgeline the fallen debris lessened and lessened.
I am thankful for whomever has been out clearing the trails as I haven't had much time to devote beyond my house (even to ride). We can only guess that the water company and/or the local IMBA chapter have been the ones hard at work clearing the fallen trees. Thank you.

Near the northern section of the reservoir, and along the ridgeline, we quickly found out they are building even more houses. This has been on-going over the last seven plus years. I am not sure if the water company sold the land to contractors or it was private land from the get-go. Either way, I continuously get frustrated when I see these 4,000sq-ft+ homes are build within feet from the bicycle trails and the water company property.
 If I remember correctly, this tree fell during Huricane Irene back in late August.
Some more damage. Trees completely up-rooted from the heavy weight of the snow on their leaf cladden branches.
Other trees, weak at the root, also gave way.

All in all, it was nice to be out riding the bike in the woods again. Felt like an October afternoon with how warm it was (short sleeve jersey and shorts). I guess we're getting the full duration of Autumn we were supposed to have that the Oct 30th snow storm took away from us for a few weeks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

a halloween we won't forget

We are still recovering from Halloween this year. My last post was about a good bike ride that should have taken place on Oct 30th. That never happened.

On October 30th most of our state of Connecticut was without electricity, under 8 to 20 inches of very wet snow and quite a few of us could not get out our houses' front door.


What are you talking about?

On Saturday Oct 29th a crazy Noreaster ripped through New England kind of like how Hurricane Irene did two months prior. The difference here was that southern New England (aka: Connecticut) was destroyed while northern New England (aka: Vermont) was partially spared. That above photo was taken around midnight on Saturday the 29th as we were attempting to drive the four miles back to my house after a wedding we attended. Every road was met with fallen trees, fallen power lines, fallen tv and telephone lines. Most were impassable. After lots of driving down what was now dead-ended roads and sometimes even driving across people's front yards we made it home. Almost one hour after we departed the wedding four miles prior.

They say it was Winter Storm 'Alfred' but I am just calling it Halloween 2011 from hell. You might say this is old news but tonight is the first time I can write about it as I finally got my internet connection back at my house. That was after living in the dark for over a week (9 days to be exact) waiting for the utility company to restore electricity (the restoration efforts of Connecticut Light & Power are also in question by many) to my town (West Hartford) and house.
(Right down the street from me. This is why we didn't have electricity for 9 days.)

While this hardship did not affect me much (we still had hot water and had a gas stovetop to cook on and a fireplace to keep warm) it certainly affected many people across the state. During this time I still had to make my way across a dark city to work every day. The eight inches of snow in my yard also melted before electricity was restored to our house. Two days of clean-up about a week after the storm my house and yard were pretty much back to normal. A few days later the electricity came back on. A week later (today) my internet and television is back to life. I actually liked our time away from reality. My phone didn't work in the office and we would just read books or stare at the fire in the evenings.

From my observations, this is still nothing like what Vermont and Northern New York went through when Hurricane Irene came through two months ago. Those residents lost homes and livelyhoods. We lost electricity but still survived with our homes.

As a result of all this, I haven't been riding my bike much. Last week I got back on a mountain bike but all we could ride were forest service roads as all the trails are impassable. This past weekend I volunteered to help clear up the local greenways and rail trails. Since I ride them I felt it was my duty to help clean them up.
There is a rail trail in there somewhere...

One of the local bicycle shops (Pedal Power) and the local rail trail association (in Vernon CT) got together to rally some troops to help clean up. I was one of those troops.

The rail trail is back!
I enjoyed helping out. Felt like I was doing my part. My next step is to pick up a folding bow saw and head to the bike trails for some clean up on my own. I have no idea what people have been doing but quite a few of the trails I ride do not get ridden too much so its probably up to me to clear them.

Our town has been picking up all the brush and shredding it. The pile has gotten enormous and is still growing!
 While walking the dog every morning I have been staring at the power lines. The utility companies cut quite a few corners in restoring power just to get everyone back on the grid. I doubt they will get all those short cuts permanently repaired before winter sets in. They haven't finished from Hurricane Irene two months ago! After thinking back up on our week plus experience (we were the 2% of the entire state [and 800,000+ people out of power] that had our power restored last) without electricity we realized it isn't that back. I have a natural gas water heater and stove so we can still get hot water and cook food. My relatively new boiler for the home heating system has a blower on it so it requires electricity. I could go spend $800 on a generator to run the boiler or I could spend about that much on a wood burning stove set-up to keep us warm when winter sets in.
I opted for the wood burning stove. I found a nice small boiler plate steel (its a Fisher, same design as the old CT made 'All Nighters') one on craigslist and picked it up today. Next is to paint it, put a liner in my chimney and hook it all up for operation.

Bike rides to and from work have resumed. Our Wednesday night rides have resumed but we're stuck on the forest service roads for now. I am thinking about what events I want to participate in next year. There's some peer pressure surrounding the Breck Epic but I also have another crazy scheme up my sleeve that I am just about ready to commit on. More on that later.

You can see more photos I took from the storm here: