Sunday, December 2, 2012

I Must Be Dreaming

It seems I have a not so rare condition
called Bicicletas Encephalitis
Had a dream the other night that I didn't quite remember until I saw this clip. I dreamt I was mountain biking and just decided I was going to start doing 360's off everything I could. No hesitation  no fear just started pulling them off and landing them with no problem. The dream was so real and it felt so awesome that when I woke up I thought I could do it. Haven't had a good dream like that in a while and I will probably be unable to pull these off even if I wanted to. For now I'll just watch the clip and dream on...

Geoff Gulevich - Jack of All Trades

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Local Ride: Night Ride in the Pinebush

I've been pretty busy lately with little or no time for riding. Tonight I had to get out and ride. I really didn't want to go, just feeling lazy I guess, it was cold too and this would be a solo ride. I didn't want to take the easy way out, I am riding dammit! Was it cold? Yeah pretty cold, probably 25 degrees before the windchill. Winter is here but I would not be deterred. Started in and came across some deer. Ground was hard, crunchy in places, other places still had a dusting of snow. Trails are in good shape, hard and fast. The leaves and soft sand in some places still make corners sketchy at high speed. Not surprisingly I didn't see anyone out riding. I thought it would be more of a chore but it wasn't. After a while I didn't mind the cold so much. I enjoyed the absence of sound. No chainslap or clunky noises from my SS, just the sound of the leaves and ground crunching under my tires, the wind blowing in the trees and the rhythmic sound of my breathing. Peaceful. I did the standard loop we usually do, leaving out the cemetery for obvious reasons (alone at night, no thanks). Made my way past the cemetery loop and out of no where I see an owl take flight. It was perched in a tree right next to the trail and I probably would not have seen it had it not have flown away. I was right on top of it when it took off, scarred the crap out of me. But it was so cool to see, it was big and it flew down the trail before turning right and flying up into another tree. I've never seen one that close, such a privilege. There is a bridge out one of the trails just after leaving the powerlines, had to cross on foot. Made it back to the car, probably only rode for an hour and a half but that was enough for me. My feet were starting to get cold anyway. I am glad I went out, I feel tired but I feel good. I know I need to step up my exercise or all this healthy eating and weight loss will be all for not. Bundle up and get out there and ride, even if it's just for a half hour. Your body will be glad you did. But do dress warm.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Local Rides: Albany Pine Bush

Been riding quite a bit at the Pine Bush now that I know my way in there quite well. Trails have been fantastic and the only downer to riding there is ticks, which haven't become a big problem yet, and horses. Don't get me wrong, I like horses and afford them the best trail manners when I encounter them on the trail. But I do not like running through their piles of shit around every corner, I mean come owners have to (should also) clean up after their dogs and horse owners should too. So far the horse riders I have come across have been polite and grateful to me for showing them the right of way. How ever I am not sure everyone like the idea of mountain bikers riding the trails. Mountain bikers have always been perceived as a problem in the Pine Bush by other trail users and the Pine Bush themselves. Ask me how I know. Not sure if I am reading this right but by the way this douche bag parked right in front of my vehicle when there was plenty of parking available pretty much sums it up.

Who parks like a douche bag? This guy.
You know what, fuck you buddy, now I am going to ride there more often.

Handlebar Setup for the SS Revisited

The Easton EA50 bar with the two inch rise does not work well. The width is great but it makes the steering too twitchy. I had another Titec stem which is longer, 120 vs. 105, so I put that on to see if it would counter the effects of the riser bar.

Hopefully the longer stem will work

Verdict? While it is better, it's still too twitchy and it just doesn't feel right. I do have a low rise Bontrager Select bar that I can try. It's not the right width but maybe it'll be good enough till I get the funds for a new wider flat bar.

Upgrades: New Bits for the Rocky

The headset in my Rocky is original, circa 2005, it was time for a change. I picked up this sweet Chris King headset used for $70 from my friend Luca. He even helped me install it...what a guy. Always wanted another King headset but just couldn't swallow the $110 plus price tag. Now I need anodized spacers too...i need them.

Just added a bit of King bling to the cockpit
Also replaced the kick plates on the Mallets, they were pretty beat up. I had them so might as well use them.

New kick plates for the Mallets

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What Was Old is Now New Again

Laptop needs a new battery...already. Shortly after getting this laptop up and running again, I had bought a replacement battery last year because the original one was shot. It was fairly inexpensive at about $35. I knew it wouldn't last long, as these laptop batteries never seem to do, but I was hoping it would have lasted a bit longer. Even when it was new it would only last about 2.5 hours which was never long enough...for me anyway.

Modular bay and standard batteries
I've been looking for a replacement that would last longer but I haven't found one. I knew I might have trouble finding replacement parts for this laptop since it's so old. Luckily I came across not only a replacement battery, but an additional battery that plugs into the modular bay. This is one of the things I love about this old laptop. It's got a modular bay that fits either a 3'5 floppy drive, CD or DVD ROM drive, or an extra battery.

Modular drives and battery
The new batteries cost me just over $100 shipped from and battery life is now around five hours. Much better. I hated having to plug it in every time I wanted to use it, kind of defeats the purpose of having a laptop in the first place. Maybe this old laptop still has some life left in it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's the Best Handlebar Setup for a Singlespeed?

Oh wait, don't tell's dependent on the rider and type of riding right? So I guess I should also add that this is a 26" wheeled bike. Well whatever the case I wish it was easier to figure this stuff out than the tried and true method of swapping parts until something works.

I have been running my SS for the past two to three years with basically the same type of cockpit setup. I've been looking for different types of bars, like a big 12 degree backswept or H-bar versions, but i could just never bring myself to drop the cash only to find out I don't like them. So I left it as is. But more and more I find that the bar I have on there feels wrong, especially when I'm climbing and really torquing it. Tonight I measured the current bar, a Raceface Air Alloy Low Riser,  it comes in just over 25". It's a 1" riser bar with standard upsweep and backsweep angles and a 31.8mm clamp section. Now I am not a big guy but I am a bit wider at the shoulder than some so I figured maybe I just need a wider bar? I have a few bars laying around that I can try and I came across an Easton EA50 bar that used to be on my Rocky. This bar measures 26-3/4" and has a 2" rise, the other details are the same as the current bar. It's a bit beat up and a bit heavier than what I have now but should work fine. I could trim this bar down if I wanted it shorter but I am not sure what the higher rise will do, other than the more upright seating position. My fear is that it will be even more twitchy but I do have some stems I could try, longer stems, that would help slow down the steering a bit and bring it back to its previous bar height.

A well used Easton EA50 is on test
So what is the best handlebar setup? What are you using? What have you had success or failure with? Let me know, I could use the help.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Local Ride: Albany Pine Bush, Water Tower Trails

Can't really see it but it was snowing a bit...I love riding while it snows.
Got out for an extended ride (~2 hours) at the Pinebush today. I was not sure how the trails would be but I knew there would be no need for studs so I took them off and replaced them with a pair of 26 x 2.5 Kenda Kinetics. These are very light for their size and are the Stick-E compound. I knew it was going to be slick back there and I wanted a tire with a rounded profile and a more aggressive shoulder tread. These tires, at the proper pressure, have a nice slow rebound effect, have tremendous traction, and because they are light makes for less rotational mass. This was clearly evident during climbing and I was able to make it up several hills I was not able to make it up last ride.

Trail conditions...muddy. These tires are much better in dry conditions. They have a tendency to slide off wet roots but are decent on wet rocks. They also pack up with mud unless you keep riding at a good clip. Even though they are light tires, it takes effort to keep up your speed. Probably due to the Stick-E compound and the aggressive tread. These are definitely coming off until everything dries up. I've got some other tires I wanted to try out anyway. All in all it was a good ride.

Quiet and peaceful
Fun singletrack
At the top of a big of my favorite places to be.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Local Ride: Albany Pine Bush, Water Tower Trails

Well, technically it is winter but there is no snow, hence the question mark. Some sections of ice for sure but even those are all but gone. My last three rides were in the Pinebush, on the water tower trail network. There's a good mix of single and double track so you won't get bored. Lots of opportunity for elevation gain, much more than you see on Schenectady Central Park or even the Shale Trail in Colonie Town Park. There are some technical trail features like log crossings, definitely enough to keep it interesting. Also there are several sections where the singletrack meanders along the sides of deep ravines for a little added fear factor. The Cemetery loop is fun too, good mix of flowy singletrack that climbs and descends. I'd really like to hit that place on a night ride...totally spooky. As of right now studs are not needed, just tires with goods knobbies because there are lots of leaves down which can make corners at speed pretty slick. The upside of riding in the Pinebush, because of all the sand, is that it drains well. This spot is an excellent alternative to ride when other areas can't be ridden for fear of trail damage. The downside is the ticks, the ones you find here give you lime disease and they are just plain gross...little blood sucking bastards. I am going to probably end my riding once Spring arrives because you can guarantee that with the mild winter we've had so far, they will be out in full force when the temps start to rise.

I used to ride here years ago, but stopped because I found other places to ride and other groups to ride with. Also I started to get involved with the Saratoga Mountain Bike Association so I was spending a lot of time riding in Malta, Saratoga and North Umberland. The Pinebush is a great place to ride, I am glad I came back.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Single Shifter Di2 - Het Fairwheel Podium | Het Fairwheel Podium

I've heard mixed reviews of the Di2, but you have to admit this is one sweet ride. Not sure I would run tubulars but having the electronics mounted inside the stem is genius.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Local Ride: Luther Forest Trails, Malta, NY

I was able to once again take advantage of the warmer temps and get out for a ride this past Sunday. On the weekends I try and ride somewhere I don't normally go. Usually I have a bit more time so driving for 30 to 45 minutes there and back isn't a big deal. I've been thinking of heading back up to Luther with the Rocky since there are some trail features I wanted to try. The singlespeed is fun, but just not always the right tool for the job. I wasn't really sure f the trail conditions so I posted on the facebook page for the Luther Forest Mountain Bikers, a group of local riders who help maintain the trail network. I should have known that this "Trails are great! Frozen and wet, really tests your skills..." really means "Make sure you ride with studs!" But, I didn't really have the time to put on the studs so I took a chance.

More slippery than it looks, the steepest sections had to be walked.
When I got there I knew I was in trouble. The parking lot was a sheet of ice. And with the warmer temps, some of it was melting. Now ice is slippery, but wet ice is down right dangerous. Luckily, it seemed much of the ice was pitted and crumbling so there was some traction to be had. I started off and right away I was thinking this probably isn't a good idea. I was able to ride, and get traction but I was unsure of where and when the tires would break loose. The tires I have on the bike now are Bontrager Big Earl and are 26 x 2.5 but are the dry conditions version. Still I have had good luck with these in the past so I rode on. Soon after starting, the trail winds along a gully and much of the trail is a slight off camber. As I was approaching a downhill off camber section, I could just picture myself just touching the brakes, losing control and heading down the gully ass end first. Here it is, the pucker factor. This is about the time my sphincter tightens up and my life starts to flash before my eyes. And I stopped. I seriously thought about turning right around and going home. But after a second or two I came to my senses and said "fuck no...I am going to ride God dammit!". I let some air out of the tires. I think I started with somewhere around 36psi and took them down to about 28psi. Now these tires aren't tubeless so I knew I was taking a gamble but I would much rather change a flat tire than climb out of a gully with 36lbs of bike in tow.

Most of the newer trails looked like this.
I am so glad I continued because from that moment on, the trails were very manageable and I never lost control or had the ground come up to meet me. And not all of the trails were covered in ice, most of the newer trails had very little or no snow at all. In fact it was wet and muddy in some sections. I kept the pace slow to play it safe and only picked sped up where there was little or no snow. It was a real challenge to ride back here with no studs, especially the log crossings. It seemed to me none of them were perpendicular to the trail and there was always ice before and after each one. I felt certain the rear tire was going to slide out when I was at the highest point on the log and I was going down. Keeping off the brakes just before and right after the features as well as shifting my weight away from each tire as it crossed the log was what saved me.

Much of what I rode looked like this.
I rode for about 2 hours, I really needed it too. Another successful winter ride. But next time I come here I will definitely have studs...I can totally do without the pucker factor.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nepali Trails with Sandman Titanium. First Details - 970biking - Mountain Biking Videos - Vital MTB

Fat bikes are not just for winter...

Nepali Trails with Sandman Titanium. First Details - 970biking - Mountain Biking Videos - Vital MTB

Take an epic journey through the highest mountains in the world in Nepal, on big wheels! After a 15 day trek around the base of Everest to acclimatize, Martín Campoy takes his Sandman Titanium on the rest of this amazing journey.

Biden on Internet Freedom = Anti-SOPA on Vimeo

Biden on Internet Freedom = Anti-SOPA on Vimeo

Joe Biden filled in for Hillary Clinton at the London Conference on Cyberspace (LCC) on November 1st, giving a speech on the importance of freedom in cyberspace and talking up the importance of freedom on the internet and not regulating the internet. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration stands with congress in full support of H.R 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would give copyright holders the ability to censor websites on the net. We need to stand up now and let Congress know that they shouldn't mess with the Internet!

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet on Vimeo

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet on Vimeo

Tell Congress not to censor the internet NOW! -

PROTECT-IP is a bill that has been introduced in the Senate and the House and is moving quickly through Congress. It gives the government and corporations the ability to censor the net, in the name of protecting "creativity". The law would let the government or corporations censor entire sites-- they just have to convince a judge that the site is "dedicated to copyright infringement."

The government has already wrongly shut down sites without any recourse to the site owner. Under this bill, sharing a video with anything copyrighted in it, or what sites like Youtube and Twitter do, would be considered illegal behavior according to this bill.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill would cost us $47 million tax dollars a year — that's for a fix that won't work, disrupts the internet, stifles innovation, shuts out diverse voices, and censors the internet. This bill is bad for creativity and does not protect your rights.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why my Laptop is Running Hot

Dust Bunnies. Apparently they were getting in through the vents and multiplying. This is what I had guessed. Not sure why I haven't pulled it apart and cleaned it before. Anyway did it tonight and it's running cooler and no longer overheating. Now I just need a new battery and I'll be all set.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Local Ride: Central Park, Schenectady, NY

Yet another great day to ride on Wednesday. The sun was shining and I think temps were almost in the 40's. Trails were hard and fast again. I am glad I got out too because I knew the weather was going to change...and it did. I woke up on Thursday morning to everything covered in wet, heavy snow and now freezing rain was coming down. Shitballs. Had it been colder or the snow less wet, I would have attempted to ride. But with the wet snow and the weather channel calling for more rain, I am going to have to stay off the trails till they freeze again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Local Ride: Central Park, Schenectady, NY

Trails are hard and fast, just watch for the leaves in the corners
I've been taking full advantage of the mild weather we've been having. Rode last Friday and today on my lunch break at SCP, and in Luther Forest this past Sunday. Still not feeling 100% but I'll be damned if I am not going to get out and ride while I still can. Gonna try and get out tomorrow too. Might head over and ride at Colonie Town Park, depends on how much time I have. No excuses for the rest of you. Get out and ride Fuckers!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Local Ride: Luther Forest Trails, Malta, NY

These trails actually begin in the state's Saratoga Technology and Energy Park, but they extend onto the Luther Forest property. I just always called it Luther Forest. Another great day to ride today. Temps were perfect, not too cold and not too warm. There were some areas that were soft and wet but for the most part it was hard and fast. The only thing that kept my speed in check were the leaves in the corners...well that and my fitness level.

I haven't ridden here since summertime last year. There have been a few changes, some new sections of trail and some new technical features. Since I don't ride here often I wasn't quite sure what the preferred route should be. Luckily I had a map, made by one of the trails frequent riders, to help me keep my bearings.

Except for one or two ridiculous but not impossible climbs, this place is perfect for a singlespeed bike. Lots of flow and not terribly technical so you can keep up your momentum. I am glad I brought the singlespeed. One, because of the fitness benefit to me and two, I wanted to see how the tires would fare on these trails. These trails are similar to the ones in Schenectady Central Park but there is more elevation gain and less rocks and roots. Overall I think they performed well, although they take some skill to get the most of them. Traction, braking and grip were all very good but rolling resistance and weight of the 2 ply casing were a negative. One area where they excelled was on fast descents, which of course I am not surprised because it was what they were designed for. I felt much more confident bombing hills with the Maxxis Wetscreams than with the Kenda Nevegals. Not sure why, maybe the heavier tires make the bike more sure-footed or maybe the 2 ply casing sucks up the bumps better. Whatever the reason, I love going downhill fast and these tires allowed me to do so.

I've also been playing with the air pressure in the fork. Not sure if I should lower the pressure but I didn't want to blow it out because of the cold weather. I'll have to look into this a bit more because setting the fork air pressure to 130 PSI for both positive and negative chambers was giving me too much sag. I had it at 150 PSI initially so maybe I'll try 140 PSI and see how that goes. Oh and I am still loving the pedals.

I have been sick with a cold since December 30th so my new year hasn't been great so far. Still, I cannot complain with all the good weather we've been having. Even though I probably should not have been riding, I went anyway because who knows how many more days we are going to get like today? Now, I am not going to gloat and continually beat a drum about how great the weather is because I know there are a lot of people waiting to ski and snowboard. But I am going to enjoy a nice day and take the opportunity to ride if it presents itself, which it did. Really for me there is almost nothing as relaxing and enjoyable as a mid afternoon ride on a warm winter's day with the sun peaking through the trees.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Reflection and Resolution

Happy New Year! Another year has come and gone. I always start the year thinking about what I am going to do different, bigger, better...yet never about what I've done or learned during the past year. I thought this year I would do that, reflect, and get an idea of what if anything I need to change. Because how can you know where you're going if you don't know where you've been?

Picture of me with our new class 3 product
I work as a designer for a start up fuel cell company. We design and manufacture fuel cell systems to replace lead acid batteries in all different kinds of fork lift trucks. Most of what I do is packaging, placing all the components and arranging them in a way that they will all work properly but also fit into a predetermined space. To put it more simply, fit 10 pounds of shit into a five pound bag. And it has to meet certain weight requirements, it can't be too light. There are many other requirements but you get the's not easy. This year was a big year for our company. We made a lot of public promises to investors and share holders. We were also launching two new platforms that will eventually take over or complement existing ones, make changes to current platforms, as well as design and build several low volume or engineering special units. Insanely busy does not begin to describe what this past year has been like for me. I don't believe I have ever worked this hard on a product in my entire engineering life...lots of long hours and late nights in front of the tube for me. As difficult as it all was I am amazed as I sit here and type of what we were able to accomplish. Sure the system isn't perfect and it could be cheaper but we did what we set out to do. In less than a year we designed and built a fuel cell system, based on an entirely new type of fuel cell stack, that is a drop in replacement for a lead acid battery...and it works. Had you asked me if this were possible in January of last year I would have said no way...impossible, and we actually didn't start the real design work until late February. Now certainly I didn't do this on my own and this victory belongs to everyone that worked on this project. This past year at work has taught me what a small, dedicated group of individuals is capable of doing regardless of the issues and problems that arise. We shipped more systems this year than we have ever before and we are on our way to becoming a profitable company this year. So I look back and say "well done."

On the boardwalk in Wildwood Crest, NJ
Life at our home last year was difficult, strenuous, joyous, hilarious, etc. just like most other families. But with my wife in school full time to be a Nurse Practitioner and two kids, a 3 year old and a 8 year old, it was extra hectic. Trying to balance work with my wife's busy school schedule and the kids school and extra curricular activities was difficult and left little time for anything else. Looking back now I am like "how did we do it?" My wife had one of her best semesters yet and made the dean's list with a 3.41 GPA, what we needed to get done at work got done,  the kids made it through all of their commitments okay, we were able to vacation beach side for a week, and I was able to get away to go riding for a long weekend with some of my best friends.  How did we do it? We just got it done. I think the big reason it worked is that my wife and I were in agreement with what had to be done, we discussed it, planned it out and executed as close to the plan as possible. Yeah it was crazy but as a family we had a great year. Another "well done" from me.

Mountain Biking
At the trail head for Cunningham Park Mountain Bike Trails
Obviously with everything else going on, biking had to take a bit of a back seat to other more important things. But looking back, I am not sure it did...well maybe a little. Local riding was definitely less because when I was around, I was busy at home. But I did get to do quite a bit of out of town riding, more than I realized. I traveled quite a bit to Long Island this year to visit family, usually it was a quick overnight trip and didn't involve me bringing the fam so I brought my bike. On the way down I would ride Cunningham Park in Queens, NY it's just off the Clearview Expressway and Glacier Ridge in Farmingville, NY which is maybe 10 minutes from my sister's place where I usually stay. I was also able to get up to Highland Mountain Bike Park in Northfield, New Hampshire for an overnight and was able to stay over two nights in East Burke, Vermont to ride at the Kingdom Trails which was actually a surprise birthday present for me from my wife. Best present ever! Also was able to meet up with friends and ride Pine Hill Park in Rutland, Vermont which was a perfect spot for a day trip. The local riding I did do was basically Schenectady Central Park and Colonie Town Park, mostly at lunchtime, sometimes meeting friends but mostly solo rides. So yeah, I didn't get up to ride SMBA as much as I wanted, or out to Schodack or even the Capital MTB Wed. night rides, but I still did okay and can't complain.

Everyone should have at least a few because let's face it, no one's perfect. And what better time to make a change than the new year. We can all use a fresh start. So here are mine...

  • Continue to be a positive contributor at work because ultimately their success is my success.
  • Be a better husband because a happy wife means a happy life.
  • Be a better father because my kids deserve the best.
  • Exercise for a least 30 min everyday. This is not only good for me health-wise but exercise really helps my mood. Good mood = fun dude.
  • Ride more. This also helps my mood but it is probably the exercise portion that accounts for most of it. Yet I know I would not feel the same had I walked or ran on treadmill. Maybe just being outdoors is good for you.
  • Ride someplace new. Last year I rode two new places, Highland Mountain Bike Park in New Hampshire and Pine Hill Park in Vermont. Both amazing places and both very different. there is so many places I have not ridden in the NorthEast so we'll call this kind of a bucket list.
I guess I am not going to change as many things as I thought, just do more of the same. I think I am on the right track. Unfortunately this year didn't start as well as last year. While visiting my family on Long Island, I did pick up a cold and I am still sick. But I did open up relations with my brother who I haven't spoken to in about 8 years, that's a long story, and also got in touch with an old friend where we just happened to fall out of touch and thankfully no bad blood there. Maybe I'll add one more to my list...
  • Keep in touch with friends and family.
Here's to another year of awesome family fun and riding!