Sunday, December 04, 2011

Bathroom Remodel Update

This project is taking way longer than I ever expected, but I'm okay with it. I gutted the bathroom late this summer, just before going back to work, then didn't do much for a good month, besides put in the new window. It took the better better part of two months to finish the plumbing and electrical rough-in, but that's what happens when you can only work on it on weekends. Finished hanging the drywall today, so it's finally starting to look like a room again.

Next up is cement boarding the shower, in preparation for the tile.

Listening to: Magnolia Electric Co. on Pandora

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Money in the bank. This is a ride I’ve had on the calendar for almost six months, and thanks to Hurricane Irene, if the ride had been one day later it would not have happened this year. The Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee (D2R2) is a fundraising bike ride to benefit the Franklin Land Trust in Western Massachusetts. I first heard about this ride a couple of years ago when the Rapha folks highlighted it on their site, and I knew it was something I wanted to do, close to home, not a race, and it raises money for a good cause. Then my friend Ed did the 100K ride last year, and he came back saying I had to do it this year with him. That’s all it took, so we signed up for the new 115K route.

Most people who ride the D2R2 do so on a regular road bike with a minimum of 28c tires, though I think I saw just as many cyclocross bikes and even a handful of hardtail 29ers and full suspension mountain bikes. I decided to use my commuter bike, which is a SOMA Fabrications Smoothie ES, with a compact 50/34 crank set and a 13-29 cassette in the back. A conversation I had with some veteran D2R2 riders a few weeks back changed my mind about using my regular 11-23 cassette even with the compact crank set. It turns out that with lots of 4-5mph seated climbs on the loose dirt I needed the 29 tooth cog more than I could ever have imagined, and there were a couple of hills that had me wishing I had a 32 cog.

I would say that about 80% of the route was on dirt roads of some sort, some being better than others. The condition of the dirt roads varied from almost pavement like to jeep trails that a normal car could not drive on. Having not ridden a road bike on many dirt roads I found the conditions to be better than I expected, the rain earlier in the week seemed to have settled the dust considerably, and the largest rocks were golf ball sized, except for one half-mile section that looked more like a single track mountain bike trail, complete with slimy roots and rock gardens. Nice.

The 115K ride was split up into four “stages”, so I am going to try and give a brief highlight of each stage.

Stage 1 (1,300 feet of climbing): After a quick breakfast provided by Black Sheep Coffee (excellent coffee!), we left the staging area at about 7:45am, more than an hour after the 180K riders! The first eight miles were on paved roads, and even a couple of miles on the Franklin Bikeways Bike Path, which connects many of the towns in the county. I have to say that my opinion of Western Massachusetts changed greatly after seeing their commitment to bicycles. I wish Cape Cod could do the same thing! Okay, back to the ride. More rollers on Green River Road before a few short climbs, then at mile 15 we reached the first water stop. We quickly topped off our bottles and kept moving.

Stage 2 (3,200 feet of climbing): The next 23 miles consisted of almost entirely dirt roads, and some tough climbs. I knew this ride was getting serious when we turned off a dirt road onto a jeep trail. Granted it was only for half a mile, but I had to dismount two times and run up a couple short hills. Didn’t see anyone clean this section. After the jeep trail we had a few miles of rolling pavement and a section along the river which was quite fun, it felt good to be moving again after being in the single digits for the last mile or so. A couple more short climbs before we passed through Guilford Center, then a tough two-mile dirt road climb (Ames Road) that averaged between 10-15%. After the climb there were some fast downhill sections, which were super fun. The next eight miles or so before the lunch stop consisted of rolling hills and lots of wooden decked bridges. Lunch came at mile 39, and you couldn’t imagine a more picturesque spot (see picture below), wooden covered bridge, white church, waterfall, the whole New England postcard in one setting. As nice as it was to eat some real food and rest a bit, we didn’t want our legs to think the ride was over, so after about 20 minutes we got back on the bikes.

Stage 3 (3,000 feet of climbing): The cue sheet warned us that this stage consisted of "a hard dirt climb, a very hard dirt climb, and then a super-hard dirt climb". Sound like fun? Immediately after leaving the lunch stop we started almost four miles of climbing, but luckily they were fairly short sections with some flats and fun downhills thrown in where you could recover a little. At this point our route converged with the 180K riders (going in the opposite direction) so it was fun to be bombing down some of the hills as they were grinding up. We then turned onto Vermont Route 112, which offered us some more fast rollers. Sure felt good to be on the pavement again. It felt so good that we decided to skip the next dirt climb and continue on 112. The cue sheet said we could reconnect with the route at mile 56, but somehow we missed the road, and now were off course by about eight miles. We ran into some 180K riders and thought we were heading in the right direction but it turns out we should have stayed on Route 112 for a few more miles to reconnect to the 115K route. 60 miles into a 72 mile ride is a bad time to get turned around, and though we had a map and never really felt lost, it still sucked. After a tough dirt climb over a ridge we were back on course and headed back to Deerfield, though not on our intended route. This detour actually added some miles to our day, but we also missed a couple of hard climbs, including the in-famous Patten Hill, which I hear is a 27% paved road that goes on for almost two miles. Can’t say I’m disappointed we missed that one.

Stage 4 (1,100 feet of climbing): This should have been a fairly easy 12 miles of rollers back to Deerfield, and riding along the Green River Road was fun, but we once again missed another turn in Greenfield and had to back track, riding on the shoulder of a fairly busy road for a mile or so. After riding over 75 miles on dirt roads with almost zero car traffic, it was no fun ending the ride with so many cars.

We rolled into Deerfield almost exactly seven hours after we started, (six hours of total ride time) and even though we got turned around a couple of times it was still an awesome day on the bike, and great to be able to ride with such a good friend. The weather people were calling for rain in the afternoon, but we lucked out and had a dry day, though it was quite humid. We knew the rain was coming soon enough, so we quickly changed into some clean clothes, had our free beer and some food, then hit the road. Just as I was pulling onto the highway the skies opened up and it rained the whole drive back to the Cape. The next day Irene pushed through Western Mass. and Southern Vermont, causing serious flooding on the same rivers we rode next to just 24 hours earlier. I feel sorry for the folks living along those rivers, and I just heard that the farm where the start/finish was is now under a foot of floodwater. Amazing part of New England, and I know those folks will recover, but it still sucks to hear about all the loss. We will be back for sure.

Update: Just received an email from the event’s promoter, and it looks like much of the D2R2 route was hit hard during Sunday’s storm. Green River Road is a mess, but the locals are already rebuilding the roadbed. The Green River Bridge (where we had lunch on Saturday) was built during the Civil War and is still standing, though the park next to it is under a foot of mud. All the retaining walls have been knocked down and the fish ladder is a mess. This beautiful site is maintained by the local neighbors with money out of their own pockets, and estimates to rebuild this area are close to $10,000.00.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not So Sure About This

I just mounted some new Panaracer RibMo 700x32 tires on my bike for the D2R2 ride this coming weekend. The jury's still out, but I'm thinking they are a little too close for comfort.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Bathroom Remodel:: Day 1

So we decided to remodel our downstairs bath. I have a feeling this is going to be a long project, this summer has been extremely busy so far, and I don't see having a lot of free time to work on the bathroom, but I should be able to sneak in a couple of days a week. Here are a couple of pics of the demo so far.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Checking Out

Going offline for a couple of days. We are heading to Recompence Campground, outside of Freeport, Maine, for a couple of nights of good old-fashioned family fun. Let me do the math for you... 13 adults, 20 kids. Sort of like herding cats.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sometimes I Don't Get This Bike Riding Thing

Great ride this morning, I think I've found the perfect 35 mile loop around Falmouth (except for Currier Road, that road sucks). 1 hour 50 minutes, 18.2 mph average, legs felt great the entire ride. It was one of those mornings that I felt like I could keep going all day.

But here is what I don't get. I almost didn't even ride this morning. Yesterday was not a good food day, I drank four IPA's last night, and went to bed late. Maybe the daily bike commute is actually paying off, who knows.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Back on the Road

I almost went mountain biking today, but decided to ride the road bike instead. I rode to Woods Hole and back, 27 miles, leisurely 17 mph pace. It took about half the ride to feel comfortable again on the skinny tires. Lots of cars on the roads, not used to them buzzing by me after riding alone in the woods all winter. My legs felt good though, I guess the bike commute and riding the mountain bikes paid off. Bumped into Ken on my way home and rode the last four miles with him, enjoyed talking about rides to come, fitness (or lack of), and life in general. Today's ride reminded me why I love riding on the road so much. Looking forward to the season ahead.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Early April Fool's Prank

Today at work, someone filled the bottom of my pannier with rocks. I didn't notice them until I got home. All I know is they were not there this morning. Good one.

I still managed to average almost 17 mph on the way home, but that may have had something to do with the tailwind.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kitchen Remodel:: One Year Later

Someone recently reminded me that I never posted any final pictures of our mini-kitchen remodel last winter. Not sure why I didn't do that, maybe it has to do with the fact that I never actually finished the project, still need to replace the old white tile floor in the kitchen, and some baseboards. Not sure when that is going to get done, priorities have changed, but here are some pics of the kitchen, one year later.

Hipster Trap

Friday, March 18, 2011

The End of Winter

The thermometer reads 57 degrees. It looks like winter is officially over here in New England. I rode to work today in knickers and a light jacket, still had to wear gloves, but doubt I will need them on the way home. Don't think we've seen temps in the high 50's since last November. Usually I would be excited to see the end of the cold weather and snow, but this winter was different. Instead of hanging up the mountain bikes and taking eight weeks off from our Tuesday night rides, we forged through and were able to ride almost every week since Christmas. How did we do it? Snow bikes. George built up five Fatbacks, which kept us riding all winter long. All I can say is this, riding the snow bikes is the most fun I've had on a bike in a long time. We rode at Otis the first couple of weeks in January, but then when the real snow came in late January, we headed north to Plymouth. The trails at Myles Standish State Park offered us deeper snow and more consistent trail conditions right up through the second week of March. Best conditions seemed to be a base of hard snow, topped by a couple of inches of fresh powder. Not so good in really deep, unpacked powder, or ice, but we still managed to do more riding than hiking, which is always a good thing. Here are a couple of pics to give you an idea of the trails that we had to ourselves all winter.

Super Bowl Sunday- While most people were sitting at home watching some football game, the three of us were riding snow bikes in the woods, at night.

Late February, still plenty of snow at Myles Standish State Park

The snow is all gone now, and we are switching back to our regular mountain bikes this Tuesday, but the memory of riding the snow bikes will keep me smiling until the flakes start to fall again next year.

Listening to: Bill Laswell- "Imaginary Cuba"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Riding in the Snow

No, I didn't buy another bike. I borrowed a Surly Pugsley from Corner Cycle. We've been riding mountain bikes almost every Tuesday night since late October, but with snow on the ground since before Christmas, the riding lately has been difficult. Last week Geo built up three snow bikes, so now we are able to ride all winter. This past Tuesday night we rode the snow bikes at Otis for an hour and a half, conditions were perfect, a couple inches of fresh snow on top of three or four inches of hard packed snow and ice. I was surprised how well the bikes climbed in the snow, and the downhills felt like you were skiing. We received more snow last night, so tonight I rode by myself on some local trails near my house. All I can say is it's the most fun I've had on a bike in a long time.

The Pugsley is cool for sure, but the other two bikes, Fatbacks from Alaska, seem to have the snow bike thing really figured out. The Fatbacks are made of aluminum, so I suppose they are lighter and less prone to rust over the years, but the real cool thing is they have a 170mm rear hub (the Pugs has an offset 135mm), which allows for a symmetrical wheelset. If I were to build one up I'd probably make it a 1 x 9, I don't really see a need for a triple, save some weight, and less places for snow to collect (see pic above). Either way, riding in the snow is a hoot for sure, it extends the winter mountain biking season, and beats the hell out of riding on a trainer or rollers.

Listening to: Art Blakey- "A Night at Birdland, Vol. 1"

Monday, January 10, 2011

So Long Juice, Hello Sawyer

I recently traded my Soma Fabrications Juice for one of Trek's new retro-inspired Sawyers. A bit of a downgrade in components I know, but the Juice never felt quite right to me. I wasn't digging the short top tube, and it was more bike than I needed for my intended purposes (camping bike/winter commuter/bar bike/kid chaser). The Sawyer is one cool bike, fun as hell to ride, and I like the fact you can run it as a single speed, or even with a belt drive (could be the perfect commuter?), thanks to the trick sliding rear dropouts. I swapped out the 2.25" tires for some small block 1.9" tires, and will probably upgrade the shifters and brakes at some point. Thinking about a small front rack, maybe.

Listening to: Lou Reed- "Out of the Underground"