Monday, September 29, 2008

Twin Lights Ride : 28.09.2008

Nice view, isn't it?

Now if only it was like that on the morning of the Twin Lights Bike Ride.

Of course, the weather forecast was not encouraging, but I set off early anyway.

The big decision was whether to opt for the 75 mile - or 50 mile ride given the rain, slippery roads, etc.

I decided to leave the decision until the last minute at the point where the routes divided about 20 miles into the ride.

I parked the car at one of the ferry terminals near the start. There were already hundreds there. Spent a few minutes decided what to wear. It wasn't cold, but there was an imminent threat of rain.

I rolled down to the start where there was a few minutes wait to register and get your arm-band, cue-sheet and map.

The ride set off pleasantly enough. There was a huge (friendly) police presence which continued throughout the route at junctions and other hazards.

However, within 20 minutes of the start the heavens opened and the heavy rain lasted for about an hour or so, on and off. Most cyclists battled on, however, only taking shelter at the worst moments.

The ride had to stop at the bridge over the Navesink where someone had fallen on the steel grating which is a common bridge surface here. Apparently they'd broken their hand. The large number of police and EMS suggested something much worse.

Eventually we were allowed to walk across, a tricky business in cycling shoes, I can tell you. Fortunately that was by far the worst incident I came across.

But still, it did mean we could spend a few minutes watching the dolphins ... you can read more about that here and here.

The organisers had set up several rest stops. These were all staffed by friendly volunteers, many of whom had provided their own home cooked cookies and flapjacks ... very nice.

However, by the time I arrived at the division of the 50 mile and 70 mile route all was not well. My legs felt curiously heavy. It wasn't going to be my day ... So I turned right and went off along the 50 mile route.

The previous ride I had covered nearly 40 miles and honestly felt I could do it again. So I was fairly confident about the 75 miles route. But here I was at 20 miles with uncooperative legs. Oh well.

The journey back was broken by the occasional shower, and also my front changer deciding to loosen up which caused a five minute maintenance stop. Plenty of riders enquired as to my welfare, which was nice.

Of course, within minutes of arriving back at the car the first streaks of blue sky appeared although even they didn't last long.

All in all, a much more difficult ride than the 5 Boro Tour, but I'm sure if we could have seen the countryside through the drizzle it would have been much prettier.

Will I do it again? Yes. And definitely at least 75 miles.
Images here.
*added 06.10.2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Take-A-Look Rear View Mirror

What can I say about this device?

It looks as sophisticated as a high-school engineering project or some sort of mock-up before the industrial designers get their hands on it, but the Take-A-Look rear view mirror works better than any helmet fixed alternative, and to all intents and purposes can be replaced for $2.00.

It takes a few moments to fix the mirror to your cycling glasses and adjust for optimum visibility, but once done provides a virtually vibration free view over your shoulder.

The manufacturers don't even appear to have a website, so you'll have to source one for yourselves.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

SRAM Compact Chainset : Progress Report

Due to one thing and another it's been a week or two since I last rode on road, as it were ...

... And with the Twin Lights Ride looming next weekend, I really needed to put a few miles under my belt.

Discretion played the better part of valour, this morning as I set out on a C+ ride from Etra Park.

Well, things weren't too bad, and I rode quite strongly considering. It was nice to see a couple of acquaintances and catch up. We pootled on a circuitous route down to New Egypt where we stopped at a local deli for coffee and muffins, or whatever your poison is.

I settled for a regular coffee ... fair ... and a blueberry muffin ... middling ...

Anyway, the thing is; how is the migration to a SRAM compact double chainset from triple fairing on my gleaming Giant OCR C2?

Actually, I quite like it. I was apprehensive at the thought of losing my granny-gear and being reduced to claiming I had stopped to pick blackberries half-way up the hill, but in reality, this hasn't happened.

Now this is partly due to my new-found hill-climbing ability, but more likely to the fact that central and south New Jersey do not have a climb which can even compare to the most modest Devon hill. But whichever, it hasn't really impinged on my ability to get to the top.

The big difference has been in the snappy and positive gear-changing, and slight weight benefit.

Coincidentally, another rider had just taken delivery of a Cannondale with a Shimano compact chainset. He wasn't quite convinced but I hope I was able to allay his fears. Certainly we were amongst the strongest riders on the way back.

I know too there has been a deal of controversy on the 50+ forum on, but I think anyone of a certain age who is riding regularly, without any motor issues will adapt well to a compact drive.

Now all I have to worry about is 75 hilly miles on the Twin Lights Ride ...

Six Mile Run : Test Ride

Spent an hour yesterday, bimbling around the new trail which was cut last week.

I arrived at the car park on Jacques Lane, just in time to find a hunter packing his truck. There was no deer strapped to the hood at least ...

Anyway, I rode into the reserve and quickly found the new trail.

It's pretty good fun, although it needs a fair bit of usage and tuning yet. There was also a lot more new stuff running into the field and plantations, so someone has been very busy.

This was the first time I have ridden my mountain bike for months and it showed. I found it hard to gain a rhythm, although climbing benefited from my recent road work, so threading through the trees and keeping the momentum to negotiate the more technical zones was more of a problem.

But still, I enjoyed it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Six Mile Run : Trail Maintenance

This Sunday saw a good turn out at the Six Mile Run Reservoir site ready to do some trail maintenance.

Well, not so much maintenance as cut a whole new leisure / multi-use path through a new sector of the woods.

Plenty of preliminary work had been organised by Jason Fenton, proprietor of Halter's Cycles. It says much that the powers that be gave Jay a pretty free hand to carve the route as he saw fit.

Anyway, the day was very hot and humid so work was very, very hard, but totally worthwhile. A large group seemed to accumulate drawn mostly from the forum.

A great day out and a great contribution to the community by NJ mountainbikers.

Now all I have to do is dig out the old Trek and give the trail a whirl.

Google map here.

More images here.