3 Ways You Can Help The Middlesex Fells

1. Get up to speed on the latest buzz on the Middlesex Fells.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has set out to develop a Trail System Plan, aiming to present it to the public in April and put it into effect this summer. In developing the plan, the DCR has been soliciting comments in meetings and via email. This has re-ignited ongoing heated discussions between many trail users, but particularly the Friends of the Fells and the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA).

Check out these articles from the Boston Globe:

Public input sought on future of Middlesex Fells Reservation

Trail bikers make voices heard at Middlesex Fells workshop

The need to focus on Fells’ natural resources

Mountain bikers: We’re stewards of the trails

2. Think about how you use the Fells and your vision of its future.

How do you use it now? What have your experiences been like? How would you like this resource to be enjoyed by the community in the years to come?

3. Speak up.

Write to the DCR and let them know what you think. Heck, it’s as easy as sending in an email.

I’m going to write in and support the NEMBA agenda. Though I’m not a big mountain biker, I’ve been very impressed with the group. They clearly respect the Fells and do a lot to support the Fells user community.

For example, NEMBA runs some great programs like “No Child Left Inside” and “Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day.” Through these programs, they’ve taught the children and families in attendance not only about mountain biking, but about proper trail use and preservation. They even came out to a local Cub Scout meeting and taught 100 scouts and their families about trail maintenance. Perhaps most importantly, these programs motivated a lot of folks I know to get out and enjoy the Fells.

I’d like to see mountain bike use expanded in the Fells in the way NEMBA advocates. It’s a responsible and appropriate approach.

Find more details about NEMBA’s take on the issue and call to action here.

Photo Credit: Orangeacid

3 Reasons You Should Learn to Race Your Bike

Check it out – NEBC is continuing their fantastic program to get new racers up to speed in a safe and effective manner. I went through this program some years ago and it was really great.

To the newbie, bike racing can seem dangerous and trying it out can seem risky. Well, it is a bit dangerous and risky, I suppose, but that’s all the more reason you should learn from patient, experienced racers. It might be a lot less dangerous and risky if more people participated in clinics like this one. Even if you never intend to race, you should still take this clinic.

1. You will learn how to ride safely in groups – whether those groups are racing or not.

2. You will learn how to control your bike – a little knowledge and experience can help you avoid panic and disaster when you need to react quickly (again, whether or not this is in a race situation).

3. You will gain an even greater appreciation for the sport by learning and practicing the tactics and strategies used by racers.

You’ll also likely find that there are many other riders out there just like you who are enthusiastic about cycling and interested in racing or improving their skills, but need a little hands-on guidance to get to the next level.

Here’s the blurb from NEBC on the clinic:

As it has every Spring since 1993, the Northeast Bicycle Club is planning to offer its Introduction to Bicycle Racing program to the public during the month of April, 2010. This 4 week program will introduce you to the exciting world of bicycle road racing, and will prepare you to enter and be competitive in your first race. Among the things you will learn are:

Bike handling: Cornering; pacelines & double pacelines; riding in close groups; incidental contact.
Racing skills: Sprinting; time trialing; climbing and descending; starting and finishing.
Tactics and strategies: Road racing as a team sport; applying team strategies and tactics in race situations; using the race course and your strengths to your advantage.
Training and equipment: Periodization and specificity; training effort zones; racing bicycles & equipment; maintaining and performance tuning your equipment; proper bike fit.
At the conclusion of the program is a Graduation Exercise, in which we will bring you to an actual race to test out your new skills!

Find the full details on the program and how to register here.

Photo Credit: Eleaf

Different Lenses for Different Riding Conditions

Looking good is important in road cycling. Style matters; that’s part of the fun. Functionality is important, too, though and that’s where you’ve got to consider lens choice carefully for your rides.

On a bright sunny summer day when the daylight is almost endless, you can just throw on a pair of standard dark shades and be off. But, if the weather or lighting is going to change, you may want to consider a couple of other good choices.

Amber lenses can greatly improve contrast on cloudy days or if you’re going to be riding into the twilight. Amber lenses are also particularly good on winter days where the bright sun is reflecting off of white snow all over the ground. Again, the contrast provides a much sharper and clearer view of everything.

Sometimes the light is such that no protection from bright lights or additional contrast is needed to see clearly. There’s a good choice for those rides too – clear lenses. Clear lenses protect your eyes from the wind and any other debris that may fly up into your eyes on a ride – sand, rocks, etc. Protecting your eyes while riding is important, to avoid damaging your eyes directly, and also to avoiding a crash if you should get some sort of debris in your eye that hinders your vision while riding.

Photo Credit: Dan Quieroz

New England Racing Season – Just Around the Corner

Three race series start up next month. The 2010 Plainville CT race series runs on March 6, 13, 20, 27 and April 3, 10, and 17. It’s a criterium race around a 0.5 mile course.

The Charge Pond Training Series ramps up on March 6th for four Saturdays of racing action in Plymouth, MA. And, the 2010 Bethel Spring Series runs on Sundays in Bethel, CT all of March (7, 14, 21, 28) and into April (11, 18).

Photo Credit: talldoofyirish

Two Pumps are Better Than One

There’s nothing like the convenience of CO2 for a quick way to pump up your tire after repairing a flat. But, there’s also nothing like the reliability of a good old fashioned hand pump.

I carry both to get the best of both world’s, as Hanna Montanna would say. I’ve twice had CO2 cartridges fail on me. And, if you’re out riding alone, finding a ride to the nearest bike shop can be a challenge. And phoning home for a ride can be a very time consuming recovery method. Better to be prepared.

I picked up the Topeak Master Blaster (affiliate link) last season and it’s worked out great. It’s a small, lightweight carbon fiber pump that mounts right next to the water bottle cage. I wouldn’t want to pump my tires with it all the time, but it’ll definitely do the job in a pinch. It’s a small price to pay in terms of weight in order to avoid getting stuck by the side of the road for something silly like a simple flat tire.

February Sunday Rides

Looking for some Sunday rides this month? Well, the Charles River Wheelmen have one for every Sunday of the month, including Valentine’s Day.

Holliston, MA on Sunday, February 7th
Lincoln, MA on Sunday, February 14th
Framingham, MA on Sunday, February 21st
Acton, MA on Sunday, Febrary 28th

So, if you’re looking for some fun winter outings, you won’t have to ride alone. Get all the details at the CRW web site.

Photo Credit: Nadya Peek

Winter Bike Maintenance

Rusty bikeA little extra attention is needed for bike maintenance in winter time when riding outside. The Boston area conditions can be nasty to delicate bike parts. I recently came across a great blog post at bostonbiker.org that details pretty thoroughly many issues related to winter bike maintenance, along with providing specific recommendations for the perfect winter bike setup – a fixed gear aluminum bike with full fenders and a sealed bottom bracket and only a front brake. Read the article and find out why.

Photo Credit: Rowan of Ravara

Harpoon Indoor Time Trial 2.0

Harpoon ITT SceneThe second annual Harpoon Indoor Time Trial was bigger and better than last year. Hundreds of racers competed in many heats throughout the day and night. Up to 24 could race at a time, in groups of 8 surrounding a three-sided techno-center of digital race readouts. Racers and viewers could see real-time speed, distance, wattage and other stats for each rider as each race progressed. Little cyclist avatars also played out the action in real-time. Winners of each heat (male & female) got a free case of beer and overall winners (male and female) won free entry into the Harpoon Brewery to Brewery ride in June.

This year’s race was a lot of fun, and more crowded. The layout was expanded with more bathrooms and larger changing areas. Since the brewery was open for tours this year (with racing on Saturday instead of Sunday), they also setup a bar down near the race warm up area. Uncle Ted’s BBQ food was also available from the Forza-G racing team who were raising money for this year’s PMC ride.

Boston’s WBUR radio station was also on hand, interviewing various folks for its show It’s Only A Game. The Harpoon ITT show should air next Saturday.

CRW Saturday Fitness Ride – Does the streak continue today?

This ride has been going on every Saturday morning since April Fools Day, 1997 – that’s over 600 weeks! Just about a year ago, the ride was featured in the Boston Globe. The ride as persevered through blizzards and record cold, but I have to wonder if the streak continues today. Today’s temp is 6 with a wind chill of minus 8. That’s when you’re standing still!

2 Easy Steps to Pack Your Bike Securely for a Day Trip

Bike in trunkwheels and bike packedSnug as a bug in a rug! Two simple steps to packing your bike for a day trip or after-work evening ride or indoor cycling class. Here’s my bike in a pretty standard size car trunk. I’m not sure of the exact classification of my car size, but it may even be “compact,” so try this out at home and see if it works for you.

You do need to have an empty trunk, which may be the first challenge. Once it’s clear, though, the rest is pretty easy. Just take off both wheels (if you have any hangups about removing the back wheel, just watch the video on this post about how to change a flat tire to see how easily it comes off and goes back on). Now, place the frame like so in the trunk. You’ll probably need to turn the handlebars sideways as shown. Also, I’ve found it’s a good idea to gently place the rear triangle in first just so I can keep an extra careful eye on the deraileur as I’m placing the bike in the trunk.

Next, take an old towel and place it over the frame to protect from scratches. Then, place the back wheel on the frame, balancing the rim against the frame and handlebars (being careful not to tangle the spokes in any way). Finally, place the other wheel on top, again resting the rim on solid footing, and viola! You’re good to go.

This packing method keeps your bike out of sight and secure while you’re toiling away at the office.