Monday, November 23, 2020


So you might remember that ride Laura OLPH led me on a couple of weeks ago, when it was just the two of us. This week, she posted it again, and a few of us went along: some regular Hill Slugs, and some others.

Martin G had this jacket. 

I found the brand name arresting. It might just be that the Chinese manufacturer has no more idea of Roman characters than I do of Chinese... but it might be an elaborate joke:

  • The "P" as in psychology;
  • The "H" as in honor;
  • The "T" as in whistle;
  • The "X" as in Bordeaux;
  • The "O" as in young;
  • The "L" as in salmon;
  • The "U" as in guide;
  • The "E" as in make.

 It may be that the intention was to make the name doubly unpronounceable.

(I love that whole, overcomplicated business.)

Instead of stopping at the general store in Sergeantsville, we stopped at the newer bagel place, and instead of hearing from the grumpy locals out front, we met another group of riders. We chatted about bike-y stuff and overdosing on chocolate before they rode off.

I didn't notice it last time, but there was this excellence on Woodens Road:


That yellow-and-red vehicle appears to be a three-wheeler. And then there are the car grills and hoods, and the sculpture in blue shorts in the back.

I'm glad there are people who do such wonderful stuff. I wish there were more.

Along the way, Luis C complained about a clack in his bike. He'd had the hub looked at, and it didn't seem to be that. I noticed that when he coasted downhill, his chain was noticeably slack; I suspect rear derailleur problems. He's got ten-speed Ultegra... and it's hard to find such rear derailleurs in 2020. Other options may need to be pursued. He'll explore his options.

Ride page.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

trolley and other paths


Tom H, who's not leading club rides out of concern for the coronavirus, invited a few of us on a pickup ride. He called it something about the "trolley", and part of it was on a trolley path; that's the source of the picture above.

. It was hard to plan to dress for this ride; I was chilly at the beginning, and sweating at the end (it was another of those fine September days in November, as I called out to a cyclist who was also waiting for the light at Route 27). 

But the key ting I'll remember is that I could never have done this without Tom's lead. I was lost much of the time, and several of the paths Tom chose were not on the GPS map... a few times the GPS instruction for the upcoming turn was, "Follow Course."

It was a great ride. I like the guys Tom rides with, and the route was even more of a discovery than usual (and I'm often navigationally hopeless).

Ride page.

We stopped at Thomas Sweet, which still doesn't have the toilets open.



Monday, November 9, 2020

rides on a september weekend in november


Tom H isn't leading club rides, citing coronvirus concerns (he's hardly the only leader who's doing that), but he did invite a few of us on a flat 40-or-so out of Bordentown on Saturday.


We rolled around by Roebling, which, as Tom put it was "about as scenic as I thought it was going to be."

But we did get close to the river, and that was pretty cool.

We rolled through Burlington City, which appears run down, but has some architectural niftiness, and a trolley tracks. I thought it was cool.

We stopped at a convenience store in Jacksonville, which isn't really anywhere near Jackson (more than one person has confused the two). I was taken by this sticker on one of the columns:

A Harley sticker. I think it wants a semicolon rather than a comma... but the sentiment expressed probably precludes my punctuational fussiness.

For a flat ride, we weren't as quick as I thought we'd be, and for November, we were all a bit overdressed by the end of the ride. Ride page linked here.

Yesterday, Laura OLPH had a ride listed for which I was the only taker. It turned out to be an unexpected pleasure. Laura made up the route as we went along, and we talked about her glass (see the "Hot Mess" posts at her blog), our family problems, trying to arrange a gravel bike for her without spending too much, and a yonk of other stuff.

We decided to go to the Sergeantsville store, and of course we stopped for pictures on the way. Laura stopped about here:

... to get a picture not too much different from this:

We decided to get a picture of the truck full of pumpkins despite the Trump sticker.

There was still a homemade local campaign banner at the Sergeantsville store.

And outside, a coterie of the local elders discussed the doom of civilization now that Trump has been defeated. A tenant of one of the apartments at the store asked one of the elders what was so great about Trump; the reply was that Trump kept his promises. I thought to myself, Really? I guess the content of those promises doesn't matter so much.

The Sergeantsville store has one of my favorite treats: Mash soda.

Soda for grown-ups. Not too sweet, and subtle flavors (well, subtle for soda, anyway). It's hard to find, so I take it when I can get it.

On the way back, Laura had us go the wrong way on Rock Road so she could take me down Woodens Lane, where I don't think I'd ever gone. I loved it... but to get back, we had to climb Pleasant Valley. Laura and Cheryl M used to refer to it as "Unpleasant Valley"; it's got a demanding uphill in both directions. But Laura knew that, even towards the end of a hilly ride, we'd have the legs for it, and she flattered me by saying she knew I'd be a good sport about such a hill at the end of the ride. (It IS kind of a hill, check out the elevation diagram on the ride page.)

It was a great ride. You ought to come out.


 In retrospect, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the deplorables, as Hillary called ‘em, consider me one of the despised elites.

  • I’ve got a graduate degree.
  • I’ve never lived more than thirty miles from New York City. Although my preferred city now is Philadelphia (not that Philly is any improvement, according to the deplorables), for decades, “the city” meant Manhattan.
  •  As a child, I was easily grossed out. It was never my choice to play in mud; I never wanted to catch frogs (when the opportunity arose, as it did annually, at a vacation spot); I even eschewed eating oranges and tomatoes because the insides seemed just too icky.
  • As a teen, I affected an English accent. For this and other reasons, my homophobe father, at the end of his wits because he thought I was going to be gay, thought to send me to military school. (It might have helped with the affected accent. It wouldn’t have helped with the elitism. Nothing needed to be done about the gay; that never materialized, although I know more about musical theater of the 50’s and 60’s than any straight man you know.)
  • One of my favorite books is Moby Dick. I’ve probably read it eight times.
  • I decided as a teen to learn about classical music because it was supposedly the best, and I wanted access to the best.
  • Similarly with art. I hated the fact that there was this supposedly excellent stuff, and I didn’t know anything about it, so I learned some stuff. The thing that attracted me was that people I respected said it was great, not that I saw anything in it myself (although I do now, after having learned some of the things to look for).
  • After learning just enough Latin to get into trouble, I have continued to use it. It is not unusual for me to reply to the checkout clerk’s cheery “Have a nice day!” with “pax tecum, gratias te ago” (“Peace to you, and I give [do] you thanks”). (And I know that Latin phrase wants a semicolon in the middle, but the semicolon hadn’t been invented at the time Latin was still a living language.)
  • I know how to use semicolons; as a result, I do use semicolons. Sometimes I’ll stack three or four into the same sentence.
  • And probably dozens of other things. If you know me, you can probably come up with your own list.

The deplorables think we look down on 'em, and hate us for it (among other things). I never thought to look down on 'em for cultural reasons... but I have no tolerance for the homophobia, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, or other traits they display. (And I can't be the only person who has noticed that the people who appear to be most afraid of, for example, an Islamic invasion are the ones who have the least contact with actual Muslims.)

And not all the people with whom I disagree politically have all the traits of deplorables. But they have supported a man who is one of the worst, and this brings all of their bona fides into question. (Like, will any of us ever again take seriously the good faith of the older, white Evangelical crowd?)

I'm mostly going to be signing off from politics; I've allowed it to damage my already-fragile mental health. I had to post this. But, for at least a while, with Candide, I'm going to tend my own (elitist) garden.

Monday, November 2, 2020

more padding is not the solution

In the cold weather, when she's no longer ready to ride outdoors, The Excellent Wife (TEW) has me put her hybrid on the trainer. 

On the saddle, she puts a thick pad from Planet Bike; on top of that she's added a washcloth. She still gets off every twenty minutes or so complaining of seat pain.

It's clear that more padding is not the answer to an uncomfortable saddle. (In fact, there's a distinct possibility that she hasn't ridden the hybrid at all since we took it off the trainer last year. She likes the feel of the road bike better... but it means she's pretty much given up trail rides, which she used to do regularly.)

Sunday, November 1, 2020

ectothermic slugs

Above, Ricky has a message for Clarice. (Well, somebody ought to pay some attention to Halloween!)

Slugs are, of course, ectothermic (that's the term for cold-blooded), and Laura's Hill Slugs might have been so on our ride yesterday. Yesterday's was the first really cold ride of the season. I scraped frost off the car as I was loading up the gear, and it was still well below 40°F at the time we started from Sourland Coffee.

Laura OLPH hadn't planned a route at the time we left; instead, she had a direction and approximate mileage in mind: we'd go to Lambertville to see the nifty decorations on Union Street, and we'd plan about 40-45 miles. So off we went.

The cold got to me; I had numb fingers and, later, numb toes (although both passed, with time and exertion. Later, some of the Slugs mentioned how we'd warmed up as we were returning, but I was grateful for every layer I had with me. (I've since put in an order for a balaclava, to replace the hat-and-gaiter that's my usual winter garb.)

We were a bit disappointed in Lambertville; the particular display we'd hoped to see wasn't out this year. Further, with the coronavirus, there's no sitting inside the shop at Rojo's to warm up (we think we may need to adjust winter rides if there's no way to warm up at the stop, because in the cold weather, it can be unpleasant to wait outside, and access to toilets may also prove a consideration - Ricky disappeared for a while, and it turned out he was availing himself of plumbing at the nearby CVS).

So back we came, climbing Rocktown-Lambertville Road. Instead of the terrifying crossing of Route 31, we did an adjusted crossing that was much more sensible. We made up for that by riding the dirt section of Stony Brook (not my favorite, but Laura did not want to deal with the hills on the alternative routes), and made up for that by taking Moores Mill-Mount Rose all the way to Pennington/Rocky Hill Road, a pleasant change of pace from the usual trip down Wargo. 

On that last bit, I'm afraid I succumbed to a temptation. I was riding in the back with the slower members on the road, and on the path to our right was a guy who was keeping pace. I found it just that little bit irritating. He got into our group as we were to turn left onto Main Street, and I'm afraid I did the macho-mile race-back-to-the-start performance that's so common among riders out of Cranbury, so I could leave this fellow in my dust. It was more than I could bear. I don't usually leave the group like that, and I'm sure my penance will be just.

Ride page.

Today, I did this ride early, and I'm only posting it as a reminder to myself to include that, while the Blackwells Mills/Six Mile lot is still fairly full, there is now a porta-potty there (which there has not been for many months).

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

good use of taxpayer dollars


The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I received these postcards from the county of Middlesex after they received our mail-in ballots. In these days of partisanship, fake news, and purposely-sown electoral doubt, confirmation of the process is a good use of our taxes.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

last of the month c+

 Some of my riding friends don't ride as fast as others (and some of my usually-faster friends don't mind an opportunity to coast once in a while), so on the last Sunday of the month, I usually offer a C+-paced ride, slower than my usual offerings. It started as an opportunity for me and The Excellent Wife (TEW) to ride together, and she has come out with us (she did last month), but temps today below 50°F made her decide to stay home. 

But Lynne W and Bill B (they're a couple, and frequently come out together), Dave H (on whose ride I went yesterday), Mini B, Bob N, and newcomer Carolyn G came out today (although if they'd waited five more minutes, Lynne W admitted she might have rethought her decision to come out in the cold).

We crossed over the canal, and I took 'em on one of my real-estate tours of Hillsborough, with a couple of those bike paths I like to do interspersed.

We stopped at the Bessie Grover park so I could attend to necessity. On the way there, Lynne told me about If These Stones Could Talk, a book about the African-American presence in the area, that mentioned who Bessie Grover was. The plaque in the park doesn't do her justice.

We came back east-ish on 518 into a headwind (when is there ever a headwind in that direction on 518? We must be in for some weird weather), and turned to go through the Skillman Park, which was the old Village for Epileptics. The special olympics had an event today, so we had to ride through on the path.

On the way, Bob pointed out we'd come close to the cemetery there, so we dropped in. It seemed like a good thing to do on a cold, grey, Halloween-y kind of day.

And on to Thomas Sweet. They still don't have the restroom open (but I keep asking). 


Dave had noticed that Carolyn's saddle seemed low, so, with her agreement, we raised it (and shifted it aft a smidge); she said it felt better after. (Like I'm ever gonna give up an opportunity to do some roadside mechanical work!)

And back. See the ride page; we bring it in at a comfortable pace.

But I'm not sure there's going to be a market for these rides in the colder weather. I'll see if anybody asks for C+ rides; if not, I'll plan to restart these after the thaw.