A random collection of thoughts associated with the sport of cycling, as relayed by one hopelessly devoid of too many competing interests. It's a one track blog I'm afraid. But hey, if you like bikes you might enjoy it. So keep reading and the worst that'll happen is it might rot your brain..

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Walkabout Trail

Sometimes trail names can be so benign as to make no connection to the place, or the experience ahead of you. I'm thinking here of a trail like the JB Hudson Trail, or the Arcadia Trail, in Arcadia. What does either name tell you about the trail or what you might expect to ride? Not too much. Unless maybe you know a good story or two about JB Hudson.

On the other hand a trail name like the Purple Panty trail at Lincoln Woods is so fitting on so many levels it's scary. Ditto with the MT Tom trail. Not so much the Tom part, but the MT designation lets you know you're gonna do some climbing and there might be some views. It evokes a challenge, and it delivers in style. Sandhill trail in Arcadia is also aptly named as well because, well, there's a crappy sand hill in the middle of it. You can't bitch and complain because you were warned, after all it was right there in the name.

Unfortunately no one ever names trails with really descriptive names like "worst ride ever", "pinch flat haven", "pickle central", or "the place some guy broke his face". Nope, it's never close to being that accurate, and that means you have to go find out for yourself. And, really, that's half the fun.

This past Saturday I decided to go ride the Walkabout Trail in George Washington State Park in the 100 degree heat and humidity. In this case the trail name gives it all away up front, and it provides some big clues on what to expect. Anytime you see the word WALK expect trouble, or masochistic fun, depending on your point of view. Also, when embarking on any trail named after a rite of passage one should expect some sort of challenge. In this case it's a 9 mile rock garden that can make you a better rider, or reduce you to a whimpering clown.

As it turns out the trail delivered on it's promises, and it handily kicked my ass during some of the slowest riding I've done in a long time. It took me almost 2 hours to travel those nine miles, and I can honestly say I only walked a small percentage of the trail. It's definitely rideable, but it's really tough in a mentally wearing kind of way. I repeated a few tricky sections just to learn the line and clean the worst parts. Mercifully there's almost no climbing on the trail itself. What you will find is a carpet of rocks, roots, downed trees, overgrown singletrack and a few swampy sections thrown in for good measure. And don't forget about the deer flies! Friendly bastards, they'll accompany you for most of your journey. And rest assured, they'll be certain to bite when your immediate attention is required to keep you from headwalking on the trail.

I rode out from the parking lot at Pulaski Park, a small parcel located within the ~ 4,000 acre George Washington State Park. I followed the Walkabout in a counter clockwise direction, but somehow I managed to lose the trail after I was back in the vicinity of Pulaski. It may have been the heat, but I completely missed the markers on the fire road and just kept riding. And riding, and riding. During the slow brain bake on the sun drenched fire roads I drained my water reserves while simultaneously heading in all the wrong directions. I knew I needed to go west, but every dirt road I picked would inevitably veer north, east or northwest at best.

After a little over an hour of brain boiling fun, and a loooong descent I didn't want to climb back up, I found a fire road heading due west and rode out as fast as possible. I hit a paved road and figured "it can't be more than a mile or two back to the lot". Right about then I saw the signs letting me know I was in Thompson, CT. Shit.. OK, well at least I was headed in the right direction. I stopped at Quaddick State Park in CT and asked the kid at the kiosk where I was, and how I could get to Pulaski. The directions seemed easy enough, then I asked him how far it was. His answer of 10 minutes in a car sounded easy, and I was psyched. That feeling lasted for about 2 seconds while my electrolyte starved brain did the math. That's when I realized that at ~ 50 mph a car covers almost ten miles in 10 minutes.

10 miles is 10 miles. It's no big deal usually, its' barely a warm up ride right? At this point, however, it was pretty bad news. I felt like someone stabbed me in the eye, and the anger sharks were definitely swimming in my head big time. I soft pedaled to the intersection the kid described, and then I saw a nice big hill waiting for me. OK one hill, whatever. Wait, there's another one. And, oh great, there's another! While nudging my way up the last hill I contemplated just getting off and walking, then I realized I was already doing this. Cool, no need to continue thinking it over! As I was getting back on the bike I realized that the power lines on my left were indeed the same power lines I crossed about 90 minutes earlier. They dump out about a mile from the parking lot.. There's nothing like learning the boundaries of a park or forest the hard way. Now I really know the lay of the land, yaaay for me..

No pics from the ride, but here's some quality entertainment for you. Thank you, drive through.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Warning! There's not a whole lot of bike related content below. I had a 50 mile + road ride planned for last Saturday, but the 2 hours of super charged riding at Lincoln Woods on Friday (not to mention the beers at the Fez) landed me in a near coma until 2 pm on Saturday. As Stacy put it "I don't think I've ever seen you quite like this". Indeed. So instead of riding I got my shit together, and we headed over to McCoy with Bruceapallooza himself to see the Bosstones/Dropkick Murphy's show.

There were a lot of people there, the paper reported that there were 10,000+ tickets sold. Pretty friggin' crazy! Anyway, the stage was set up in the outfield, and there was some temporary flooring laid down to protect the grass. Someone thought it was a good idea to sell the legions of "punch me I'm Irish" dudes beer in plastic bottles. Not too surprisingly an impromptu bottle toss/fight erupted prior to the Bosstones set. While it was slightly amusing to watch, it further cemented my well known feelings on the stupidity of most people.

So we dodged bottles and hung out near the front while waiting for the show to start. The Bosstones opened with Kinder Words, and then they blazed through an hour plus set (they did slow things down to bring Dicky's Mom out for her birthday). I'm not going to include the whole set list, but they did play some great songs that they haven't been playing a lot since the reunion. These included Illegal Left, Toxic Toast, Devil's Night Out and You Gotta Go!. The initial reaction from the crowd was kind of tepid, save the action from the already drunk 300lb fools seemingly out to crush kids just trying to have a good time. Watching big dolts in green Celtics shirts, and a few with Irish flag face paint, mow down much smaller people was kinda lame. Luckily the big goons got all tuckered out Clubber Lang style, and everyone resumed having fun after a while. All of the above is why I prefer to see bands in a smaller venue, but I'll take what I can get and had a great time anyway.

The really nice pictures above and below are courtesy of Mike Gaughan of Whatever Magazine and are used with his permission. He takes some really nice pics in general, check out the link above. Thanks Mike!

We moved to the stands to watch the DKM show. I hadn't seen them in ages, and they seem to have a whole thing going for themselves that works. Not really my kind of thing, but good for them. We made our exit during Barroom Heroes (one of the few DKM tunes I know) and escaped ahead of most of the crowd.

I did get out to Foxboro on Sunday for a good ride on the Schwinn. Rigid 26" riding definitely works me over now that I'm a pansy 29er rider. The beating I took on the trail far exceeded that which I received at the show on Saturday, though both were slightly less than what Margaret dished out Friday night. All things considered it's certainly no worse than the beatdowns local racoons are know to bestow upon my favorite bartender, so I'd say we're even..


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Confessions of a Cycling Addict?

Last night I threw my Kona Kula on the stand to work out some kinks with the shifty bits. I managed to finagle a quick fix, but I realized full well that the chain is on it's way out. Perhaps there are a few more solid outings in it, but this is assuming they're coupled with diligent post ride cleaning. The bike has seen plenty of crud from the winter straight through the summer, as we now seem to be living in a sub tropical thunderstorm rich environment.

Anyways...fiddling with the Kona, and thinking about replacing the chain, made me think about the ridiculous amount of bike crap I have. My place is starting to resemble a used bike lot without the pushy sales people. Granted some of my bikes have been with me for a few years, but how did I justify buying all this stuff? I ride a lot, but not so much that I could ever need all these bikes. I could probably just get away with riding the On One with two wheelsets (road fixed/'cross freewheel) and one geared MTB. Somehow I have acquired two rigid singlespeeds (one 26and one 29 for good measure of course), a 29er FS bike, a fixed/SS 'cross bike, a geared 'cross bike and a geared HT. WTF is wrong with me? Oh, I know I'm missing a proper road bike - that's what wrong with me..

Seriously, I envy those riders with one road bike and one MTB (and a 'cross bike). What is their secret? Do they ride less? Probably not. I'm willing to bet they figured out that maintaining multiple bikes is a PITA, and that they could live with less. Bummer for them; as they'd never be able to have conversations with themselves like the below example of what goes through my head when the mere thought of selling a bike meanders into the postholed muddy field that is my brain....

Me: Holy Jeebus H Crackers!! WTF?? DUDE you have wayyy too much crap. You asshole!
Me: What? Oh, yeah, well you see I need all this stuff. Why don't you go think about something else, or go shoot water at the cats, that'll keep you busy.
Me: Huh, oh yeah that was fun! Hey! You fucker! Seriously douchebag, sell some stuff and do it sooner rather than later.
Me: (Shit, I'm not avoiding this topic am I?) Er, well, ummm... yeah you see once again I need this stuff for all the different types of riding I do. I'm a veritable Tour de France of bicycle multitasking.. yeah that's it. Why don't you get it?
Me: I don't get it because we only really ride like 6-10 hours a week, and there's 6 damn bikes in this house!
Me: Well, it's not like they're wall art or anything. They all get ridden more than Seinfeld's green Klein at least..
Me: Whatever, you're an idiot - who references Seinfeld in this day and age? Aside from TV addled morons?
Me: Seinfeld is totally relevant (great, this is shifting away from the bikes!).
Me: Again, you're a tool - sell some stuff!

Me: Ok, fine here's why I can't sell anything.. The Surly: It got me into 29ers, and it's an awesome bike - so what if it's a 30lb singlespeed that makes our body sore for days after climbing a few miles on it? The Kona: This is for going sooo fast and pretending I still care about racing. No way that's for sale. The Niner: Jesus man, how else could I go sooo wicked fast and huck the gnar?? Really - how else? See you got nothing.. The On One - best bike ever, SS 'cross bikes are completely awesome and totally practical! Everyone should ride one screw gears.. Which, logically brings us to the geared Fuji 'cross bike. C'mon man! So, do you expect me to ride fixed, or SS, all the friggin' time? Of course you don't.
Me: Fine, what about the blue Schwinn?
Me: What? Oh, that. Dude it's freakin' Bass Boat Blue for crissakes! C'mooooon guy(channeling Carl from Aqua Teen here)!
Me: Yeah, it's sparkly and blue and, and err uh.... hey, look Family Guy is on.
Me: Again, that show is on like every five minutes..
Me: Yeah, it's the one where Brian is drunk and they reference pop culture like every 3 minutes without really having a plot..
Me: Oh, hey this is great!....................................

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Not much happening around here...

I rode with Uncle B from Providence Bike on Friday morning waaaay down in the hinterlands of Arcadia. I had to scope out a beginner/intermediate loop for Sunday's scheduled ride series event. We rode a bunch of the trails near Browning Mill Pond including the Arcadia trail and the 95 trail. Due to the high humidity the rocks and roots alike were all aglow with an icy green sheen. This unmistakable hue serves as a warning to air down and ride light. After losing about 50 pounds of water weight we headed back to the car and figured out how to cram the bikes in the back once again. My dreams of getting up to three bikes in the Fit are mostly shot down. I'm thinking maybe if both front and rear wheels are removed it might work with one of the rear seats up, but I'm not 100% sure on that one.

I made another trip up to Chase and Lincoln Woods on Saturday morning on the On One, and once again it was fun to bang around in the woods on that bike. Pinch flatting on a rock roller was not so fun, but luckily it waited until I came to a stop to go from full to dead flat in 2 seconds. Good thing, because that roller might've hurt me otherwise.. Later on Saturday I bumped into the road warrior known as Apples at the post Cox Charities Bicycle Gnar Gnar Huck Jam party that was graciously hosted by the Samartanos, and their wonderful friends Lyons and Judge. As for the race, well, I completely missed the 2/3 race but I arrived in time to catch the 50 lap (!) Pro race. I hear some serious bike wrangling took place in the 2/3 with Adam St. G almost winning all the prize money, and I also heard that Scotty lapped the whole field on the first lap because he was going soooo fast. Word on the street was the only thing that slowed him down was his skin catching on fire due to the excessive speeds.

The Pro race was fun to watch but admittedly I was kind of bored within about 30 minutes. Bike races (and rides) are more fun to do than watch. Also, not knowing anyone in the race makes it even harder to watch with out rapidly losing interest in the whole affair.

After catching up with some Misanthrope on a scooter (catchy band name maybe??) I moseyed over to Whole Foods with Billy Dee Williams (aka Noah "Colt 45" Jacobs) for party favors and beer. I then made Noah ride up Doyle on his rickety bucket of bolts, all so we could raid my fridge for more beer to bring to said soiree. Much fun was had by all and the rain held off which was a nice touch. I had to lead a ride the next morning down in Arcadia so I booked it home through a winding down Waterfire and hit the hay.

Rumor is someone I know (his name rhymes with James Grimley) would like to start some sort of underground 'cross race this fall somewhere east of Providence, adjacent to a path designed for bicycle riding. Keep an ear out for it, it might be fun.

Here's on old picture of when the Kula was rigid..