Dec 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Ride at Sprain Ridge

Well, the ride today was pretty awesome. I rendezvoused with Alex on the train and we rode from the Hastings on Hudson Station to the trail head. That was quite a miserable jaunt. The roads were slushy and cold salty water soaked our butts on the way to the trail.

I love my new F1. It handles great and I love the Lefty. Locking out the fork and throwing the chain on to the big ring on the way to the trails was a joy. I didn't miss the single speed at all today. The Lefty took up the hits, big and small, with ease and gave me a lot more confidence in the descents. (although we didn't carry much speed anywhere today in the snow)

Alex, just after wiping out on solid ice -ouch!

Two to three inches of snow made the riding a little tough. Alex went down on solid ice a few times today and I'm sure he's sore now! I took a nice dive over the handlebars in a baby-head strewn switchback. I sailed through the air, downhill and remember tucking my chin in just before my helmet made contact with a few big rocks. My left knee took a hard hit on an unforgiving rock/root and I have a nice lump to show for it. Getting up, I was shocked to see that I actually broke my front brake lever body. I couldn't believe it. I've never seen a lever body brake like that. (pictures in the gallery below)
Loving my new F1

We weren't' the only ones on the trail this morning though. We came across a herd of deer which didn't seem frightened by us. The woods were silent as large flakes floated down and the deer stood looking at us, flicking their ears nibbling on... whatever they were nibbling on. We also saw some tire tracks from another rider who was out before us.

Snow glorious snow.

Before I went to bed last night, I laid out my gear for the next day's ride. It would be the maiden voyage of my new F1. I filled my camelbak, mounted knobbier tires, lubed my chain and went to bed. Throughout the night I tossed and turned, imagining myself zipping through the woods, lofting over rocks and logs and enjoying bottomless suspension. At 7am I couldn't take it any longer and I got up and went to lurk in the forums at A short while later I took a shower. When I got out of the shower I did a double take when I walked past a window. "what the?! .... YES!" I watched as a flurry quickly developed into a storm which was rapidly blanketing my hood.

As I sit here eating a chunk of baguette with home made marmalade I anxiously count down the minutes until I must pedal out to the station and catch the train to Hastings on Hudson where I'll ride to the trail head at Sprain Ridge. Alex will be on the 9:20 train out of Grand Central and we'll catch up on things as he's been out of town for the last couple weeks.

So, my first real ride on the F1 will be in the snow. Should be sloppy! Full ride report and pics as soon as I can.

Dec 29, 2009

This just in...

Sunday I picked up my new 2010, Cannondale F1. I was told that it wouldn't arrive until mid April but, fortunately, some type of Christmas miracle occurred and voila: I have my new wheels. I haven't had a chance to put it through its paces yet but I will be riding Sprain Ridge on Thursday, so you can count on a full report Thursday night - but more realistically Friday afternoon. (When counting on me please allow 1 - 2 days)

Can't wait to get it on the trails. Click the gallery below to view some details of the F1:

Dec 25, 2009

Doris in the wild

Our dog loves being out in the wild. While we're visiting my wife's folks in Maryland we took her on a nice walk through woods along Sligo Creek in Takoma Park. There was nobody around so we let her off the leash.
As soon as we unclipped the leash she was off like a shot! She likes to bound through the snow as if she's a frolicking doe.

Dec 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry christmas folks. My wife, Doris and I drove down to Takoma Park, Maryland this morning to spend christmas with my wife's parents and sister. An insane number of ornaments were hung, egg nog was drank and pies and biscuits were baked! Just about time for the traditional christmas eve dinner of pancakes, bacon and OJ. Hope you were all good boys and girls this year. Apparently I was: My new Cannondale F1 is sitting at Sid's bike shop waiting for me to pick it up on Sunday! Here are some pictures taken while trimming the tree today. Best wishes to you all. - Mike

Our dog, Doris, seemed bewildered by everyone's maniacal laughter as they hung shiny things on a tree inside the house.

Dec 18, 2009

Lionel's M7

In 2009 Lionel released the MTA Long Island Rail Road set (M7's). On my way to a NYCT meeting yesterday, I stopped into the Transit Museum at Grand Central and took a look at their model train display. I was stoked to see the M7 trains running through a miniature New York City. (little buildings, little people, ... little crime) The M7's run on the Long Island Rail Road (LIR) & Metro North Rail Road (MNR). I ride them daily to work and home. Kawasaki is currently building the new M8 cars for MNR. Bombardier made the M7's.

Lionel did a good job on the carshells and the detail is fine, however the couplers (or lack there of) are a different story. They didn't put any effort into making a realistic coupler system and instead used a simple hook and loop connection. (why?) Also, the carbody sits unrealistically high on the trucks. Aside from those two points I'd still love to own the set. Are you listening Santa?

photos by: John J at flickr

Dec 16, 2009

Nostalgia and Christmas

Christmas time is a very nostalgic time for me. I'm a pretty nostalgic person in general, but even more so at this time of year. A big part of my Christmas excitement came from playing with my dad's Lionels. He had a large collection of O-gage cars back then. He's since given a lot of his sets to my brothers and sisters. Just a couple of years ago he gave me a fabulous engine and about 25 cars to go with it. I spent the other night shooting each one just for fun. And now I have a small train yard at the base of our Christmas tree. The particular car below is one I vividly remember playing with. (See my lionels here)

I know, for certain, that my love for trains is the result of this seed planted by my father long ago. Although difficult and stressful at times, I love working at Kawasaki Rail Car, and resolving field and engineering issues with the subway cars we provide this great city with.

Dec 15, 2009

El cheapo light system

I'm itching to get back into night riding. By the time I get home from work it's dark and the only time I have to ride is on weekends. (and they fly by entirely too fast) Being broke as usual, I rigged up a simple system that ought to work somewhat OK. I picked up this LED light from Target for $30. It's 160 Lumens, runs for 5 hours on three AAA batteries and even indicates when its batteries have 20% of their juice left. It weighs half a pound and is made of aluminum. I'll let you know how it works as soon as I get a chance to try it.

Rigging it up was simple. A couple of hose clamps from the tool crib at work, and a piece of a kicked road tube holds it right in place. I only see two negatives to this system. 1) obviously it's not too bright. I see that Nite Rider makes systems which operate at 200, 400, 600, 900 & 1200 Lumens. Mine's only 160. 2) It requires a screwdriver to adjust the angle of the beam. No biggie there; my multi-tool has a flat blade to adjust the hose clamps.

Dec 13, 2009

Saturday at Cunningham

I thought it would be a great idea to ride on the coldest day so far this year. It was a great idea. 27 degrees meant frozen dirt and iced over puddles which crunched under our tires as we ripped through the singletrack at Cunningham Park. For being so cold, we all kept pretty warm. My toes were the only thing that were a little chilly, but they warmed up when I was off the bike, walking around.

Met a rider at the trail head as we were about to leave the park and he was nice enough to let me try out his 29er. I'm still not convinced that 29ers are where it's at but it did feel radically different and my interest is peaked.

Dec 4, 2009

Downer Drinks?

I should have seen this coming, especially since I drink my share of uppers.
6:45am - Bodega on the corner of Broadway & 225th:
As I reach into the cooler for my morning Red Bull, I was shocked to see a drink called Drank nestled neatly in a dispenser adjacent to my fuel. This kills me. We can now enter more chemicals into our systems to bring us down from our energy drink highs. Wonderful!

Dec 1, 2009


Stashing locks has become step 1 when arriving at trails here in NY. It's new to me (bringing a lock mountain biking) and I think it's unique to the NY MTB scene. Maybe it's more unique to the "Car-less NY MTB" scene. At any rate, a lock is 100% necessary and comes into play when you need to run into a store or fend off crazies on the train. The other side of bringing a lock is remembering to pick it up when you leave.