Monday, June 18, 2012

Mountain Biking - Fish Pond Truck Trail

I was up at my parents' lakehouse last weekend (well, I guess I should just start calling it their "house" because they're up there full time now), and I wanted to check out a new mountain bike spot. The New York State DEC has a bunch of Google Earth maps that are really useful, and the "Mountain Bike Trails" map contains something called the Fish Pond Truck Trail. I must have passed the entrance to this place 1,000 times on the way to my parents' place, but I never noticed the truck tracks going into the woods near the road to the Saranac Inn. Here's the route I took:

"Truck trails" in the Adirondacks vary from trails that a truck could actually navigate, to tight twisting singletrack that disappears intermittently. So I didn't really know what to expect from the trail.  I rode about 5 miles from the house to the trailhead, and dove in.

It was definitely a truck trail.

I came to Rat Pond first, not a bad little spot for a break.  I'm in training mode for SSUSA, though, so I didn't stop for too long.

I crossed the railroad between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake on the way. Once again, I would love for this stretch to be converted into a rail trail. It would be so nice to be able to ride to all of these places on a mellow trail instead of a busy road with a tiny shoulder.

I was surprised to see the entrance to the truck trail proper had an actual gate. And even a registry: 

The trail continued on as a pretty mellow doubletrack (and sometimes tripletrack):

I was a little worried about the stream crossings, thinking they'd be wet or washed out, but they were great - nice grass over sturdy bridges.

There's a big (300') climb in the middle that has a lot of false tops (so it's pretty demoralizing). It was pretty difficult on the single speed.  Then there's a shorter (200') climb further down the trail that seemed a little easier. Really good for strength building - great for training. The trail eventually ends in a cul de sac.  

At Fish Pond:

I've paddled here before, and I remembered there were two lean-tos. Here's one of them:

View from the inside. Lots of litter (sad).

On the way back, I could have taken this other trail and checked out St. Regis Lake, but I had to get back because it was definitely time to drink beer on a boat. Overall, I got about 20 miles of riding in, a lot of good training for SSUSA, and a new route to ride near the house.  While the trail isn't technical at all (I barely even used my brakes), it's good for beginners, families, or anyone wanting to get a good morning spin in before an afternoon on the lake.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Bike - SE Stout 29er Singlespeed

I needed something with one gear because I signed up for the Singlespeed USA Championships up in Stowe (if you want to read a funny article on the 2009 version of the race by the incomparable BikeSnobNYC, click here).  I gave a brief thought to just buying a few spacers and a chain tensioner for my Full Suspension 29er, but as we all know, the correct number of bikes to own is n + 1, with n being the number of bikes you currently own.

So I bought frame, fork, headset, stem, handlebars, grips, seatpost, saddle, and clamp off of Ebay for $111. Then I got it stripped and painted by Anatoly at Hard Knox Customs in Burnt Hills:

It came out fantastic. After that, I had to assemble the remaining components. I made a Jenson order for the freewheel, chain, cables, pedals, and tubeless specific tires; got the crankset, brakes, and brake levers for my birthday (Thanks again, Mom and Aunt Roz!); and ordered the handbuilt wheels from Universal Cycles.

Building the bike wasn't bad at all. I had CK Cycles in Albany install the headset because I didn't have a headset press and I didn't feel like messing with a DIY solution. The only tool I had to buy was a $20 bottom bracket tool (figured I should probably do some cleaning and maintenance with my other bikes anyway). Other than that, I just installed everything with an allen wrench set (didn't use a torque wrench, but with no carbon parts, I wasn't worried about breaking anything).  I was really happy with myself after I finished it:

Here's the full build spec:

Frame & Fork: 2010 SE Stout
Headset: FSA The Pig
Crank: Truvativ Stylo 1.1 180mm crankarms
Brakes: Avid BB7
Levers: Speed Dial 7s
Cables: Jagwire
Rims: WTB Frequency i23
Front Hub: Shimano XT (silver)
Rear Hub: Paul Components WORD Disc (silver)
Front Tire: WTB Weirwolf TCS 2.5
Rear Tire: WTB Wolverine TCS 2.2
Freewheel: White Industries Trials Freewheel 18T (for now)

How does it ride? Pretty great. I love the simplicity and smoothness on non-technical trails. The rigid fork is pretty jarring on the rooty, rocky stuff and I might swap it out for the suspension fork before Stowe (depending on how the trails look on youtube videos).  Here's a little tour of the bike:

I love the rear wheel. The Paul Components hub, combined with the White Industries Trials Freewheel, makes for a smooth, bombproof setup.

That's the obligatory singlespeed chainline picture. I don't know why people do this, but I didn't want to rock the boat and not put it in.

The front tire (WTB Weirwolf) is listed at 2.5". I'm not the only one who's a little disappointed in the actual width. I haven't measured, but it doesn't seem much bigger than the 2.2" tire I have on the back. I'm hoping it spreads out a little as I ride. On the plus side, the tubeless system was easy to set up, and the 20-25 psi pressure that I run really helps cushion the rigidity of the front end. 

All in all, it's exactly what I wanted in a bike. It's got significantly better components than the Redline Monocog Flight that I was looking at buying new, and it was significantly lower in price (like, half). Consider me stoked.

And if you're wondering where these pics were taken, there's a bunch of ATV trails bordering my neighborhood, and they're great for a quick spin after work if I can't make it out to some of the other trails in the area.  I can roll around for about 30 minutes and get a pretty good workout.  Which is good, because I think I'm going to need all the help I can get at Stowe.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Basement Renovation - Bike Room/Ski Room

The weather has been pretty crappy lately (excluding today), so I committed myself to a small project last weekend. My basement was a bit of a mess:

After a thorough cleanup, I tried to figure out what I really wanted down there. I've got lots of skis and bikes, and they end up scattered around the house. They needed a home. Also, my tools were haphazardly tossed somewhere in the vicinity of where I last used them. They needed a home too.  The solution was a ski/bike room similar to the basement workshops in this thread. I needed a man space.

I rented a power sprayer to paint the ceiling black (did you know there's free tool rental from Lowe's if you spend more than $50?). Then I painted the walls, put up new electrical fixtures, built a little pegboard, hung up some storage hooks, and laid down some of those interlocking rubber tiles over the old crappy flooring.  The finished room came out pretty nice:

I still have to take the tools from the workbench and toolbox and put them up on the pegboard. And I'd love to get a bike stand to do repairs a little more easily. But they're freaking expensive. And I don't know if I really need one. I mean, I built my single speed myself in my living room. Oh, I didn't tell you about my new bike?

That'll have to wait for another post. And as for house projects, I'm probably done for a while.  Unless I get another stretch of rainy weather, then I'll tackle the adjoining room in the basement:

I'm thinking of a big screen TV, some comfy seating, and a kegerator. Hmmm . . . sounds expensive. Maybe I should work on saving the money to buy that bike stand first.