Sunday, June 13, 2021

farshimmelt ride to a neat new stop

 For me, it started when I got an email from Laura OLPH saying that an office acquaintance had a place in Raritan she rode to, and which she recommended; it was an Italian bakery. I think I did a quick web search, and sure enough, there's an Italian bakery in Raritan that goes by the name "Italian Bakery". I saw it was across the river, and surrounded by some heavily-traveled roads, and despaired of setting a route.

But Laura sent a sample route. It was too short, and came back over some too-busy roads, but with a little tweaking and adjustment, we got to a 42-mile route to try. Much of it was over roads I know, but the last of it tracked Main Street from Somerville to Bound Brook. I decided to try to use side roads to avoid that. (The Excellent Wife [TEW] and I drove the route a few weeks ago.)

Laura was away in Maine for a while, and I planned this as my first ride to lead after my return. Well, I didn't sleep well, and then was a bit disorganized this morning, and then TEW left early to go do the Farmland Ride with some of her friends... and I was alone in the house, so I went to the start a bit early.

About twenty minutes before the start, I noticed that I hadn't put the route in my GPS. Now, I'm directionally challenged at the best of times, and with a new route, I was hopeless. So I jetted home (on the bike) to get the route, and then jetted back to the start, arriving only a minute or two late. I was a bit breathless when I gave the safety speech, and some of my Regular Suspects had to help me out.

Off we went. A few miles in, a rider had a pinch flat; another rider was going through some self-imposed misery for not having called out the hazard in time; we tried to provide reassurance while the tube was going in. A bit farther along, another rider complained of a noise; a wheel was a smidge out of true and was brushing the (extremely tight) brake; a quick adjustment settled it for a while... but if you're gonna have your brakes with so little clearance, your wheels GOTTA be in almost-perfect true. Just sayin'.

A short section of the route called for a ride on 206, but friend Bob N remembered that the cutoff also goes to Hillsborough Road. I promised abuse and degradation if he was wrong... but I shouldn't have; I've followed Bob's suggestions on at least half-a-dozen occasions, and he's always been correct. As he was today. 

We came up through Duke Farms on Roycefield Road and crossed on the River Road bridge. Roycefield is milled, and the River Road Bridge is busy. At the stop, riders pointed out that an alternative to Roycefield might be in order (I think that can be done), and there's an approach to the Nevius bridge that's pedestrian- and bike-friendly.

We really liked the stop.

The sense of the meeting was that we can do this again.

After the stop, we went back along the side roads I'd planned to avoid Main Street... but it was the further sense of the meeting that Main Street wasn't bad enough to avoid (although you wouldn't want to do a whole ride like that).

We crossed the river and canal at Bound Brook, and came down Elizabeth Street at a pace that wore me out. I'm obviously too old for this; by the time we were rolling back on Canal Road in Franklin, I was slowing. Everybody got back, and I'll probably adjust this route and do it again.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

weekend rides

 So for yesterday, Saturday, June 5, Tom H (who's still not ready to list club rides due to the coronavirus) invited a few of us to do a ride in the hills of Bucks County, starting at the Yardley Park-and-Ride. Due to real-life plans and other conflicts, only Bob N and I accompanied.

There may be a flat section of road in Bucks County other than at the river, but we didn't find it.

We investigated at the Carverville store... but it's apparently gone, gone, gone.

There's an old inn or hotel across the way that's suffering from building blight, too. 

We headed for a stop at the Wawa in New Hope (Tom calls it "The Wawa in New Hope" and "The Wawa in Lambertville" interchangeably, as that's apparently a mishmash of touristy river-stuff to him, but going to Lambertville requires crossing the bridge...)

Afterwards, going up a pretty severe hill on Sugan, we had a minor mishap and had to stop. The map shows a grade of about 7%, but I'm sure that's an average; my GPS was showing up to 30% grade in spots. I couldn't get going again, and had to roll down to the bottom... so I got to do it twice.

After, we saw this nifty thing; I think it was an old mill that's being repurposed into a modern residence (another of those places I can't afford to retire). It was the best part of a wrong turn.

It was a demanding ride. When I got back and got out of the car, my legs cramped so bad I could barely hobble into the garage, and it was several minutes before the cramp passed enough to unload. You'll never persuade me that the cramp wasn't the universe taking revenge for our doing a Tom ride with no closed roads or bridges out.

I'd already posted my listing for today, Sunday, and I knew it was going to have to be a recovery ride for me. But I had ten come out, with abilities all over the place. The first part of the ride went from the Claremont school down to Kingston, and I told people to take it at their own pace, and wait at route 27, which they did.

I gave the same instruction along River Road back to Rocky Hill, and while some took me up on it, others seemed less eager to ride off in the heat. By the time we took a potty stop at the Montgomery Arboretum, we were mostly riding together.

From there, we went up Canal Road, where we met Al L (whom I haven't seen in a long time). He said he was slowed down because of changing a tire (he still uses tubulars), and then he hung on wheels until atop the hill in Millstone. I didn't see him at the deli where we stopped.

We went on, up to Schoolhouse and then back to Amwell and Blackwells Mills. Some of our number were suffering with the heat (one had the "failure to clip out" go-over that is less damaging to the body than it is to the pride), and we brought the last part of the ride in slowly.

Ride page.

At the end of the ride, Albert P, with whom I'd done some mechanical work the week before, slipped me a package and told me not to open it there. I had visions of cocaine, or worse, and waited until I was halfway home and out of sight of onlookers before I opened it, to see these guys:

No, they're NOT just Phillips screwdrivers, although that's what I thought, too, for about three seconds. No, what they are instead is JIS-standard cross-bladed screwdrivers. If you've tried to adjust those derailleur limit screws with a US-standard Phillips screwdriver (which is what it sure LOOKS LIKE it oughta take), you know that it doesn't fit, and you rummage around until you find a straight-bladed driver that you can make fit for the adjustment.

I know that, because until today, I had to do that, too. Mr P, well-chosen. Difficult mechanical day or no, I am in your debt.

"defund the police" is terrifying

 "Defund the police" is too scary to many of us.

De-militarize the police, instead.

Friday, June 4, 2021

needs buttons and buttonholes, and a good press

It needs buttons and buttonholes, and a good press...

 ... but other than that, the frock coat/blazer is done.

It's got a million flaws, and I'm still stupidly proud of it.

(And yes, I really do wear a shirt and tie when I work from home.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

now for the hand sewing and detailing

So it's all up to the hand sewing and finishing now on the frock coat (which is really a blazer with a long bottom); I've sewn the shell to the lining. Below, inside out: the front...

...the back...

...the back lining. You don't get to see the front lining, because I'm not showing the cob job I made of those inside pockets.

 Turned right-side out:

Above, the front. It needs a press; the collar needs to be nailed in, and a few other things. Below, the back.

And below, the good side of one of those inside pockets.

Real satin lining. I like it, and it's mostly nice to work, but it's a dirty fabric; it sheds threads and fibers everywhere.

Most of the rest is closing up seams and hand sewing. It might take another week; I'm not great for that (you should see me try to thread a needle...)

Edit 6/4: I did the lower hem last night by hand. There are only a few things to do by hand (the sleeve cuffs and the vent remain; there's also internal structural stuff), but it takes about 80% of the time that ALL of the rest of the assembly takes.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

difficult mechanical day

 Albert P, who comes on some of my rides (and can ride rings around me, although he's too polite to actually do it when we're out together), had a triple front chainring on his Cannondale. He never used any but the middle ring, and thought a double would give him the advantage of better use of the full range, so he bought some parts and we made a date to change it out. 

I thought it would take three hours; it took six. And, while the bike left in more-or-less rideable condition, it was a disappointing experience.

First, the bottom-bracket removal tool I have was the wrong size for the modern Shimano Hollowtech bottom brackets, and the left crank uses a proprietary star tool for attachment. Well, it will require a trip to a bike shop that doesn't open for two hours, so we'll install the rear derailleur first. Huh? There's no "B" screw; that's funny... OK, then we'll do the brakes. Oh, damn; you can't get the rear wheel on with the derailleur in place because of the stupid adjustment. OK; remove the derailleur; put the wheels on; put on and adjust the brakes.

There's a spot on the rear wheel that has a bind. While Albert goes to the shop, I true the rear wheel to fix it (Albert likes his brakes TIGHT).

When Albert got back from the shop, we popped in the bottom bracket and the cranks, lowered the front derailleur, installed the chain... wait; the chain droops. It turns out there are metal fingers that have to be aligned where the "B" screw would usually go; that fixed the droop. Adjust the front derailleur; that works... wait; no it doesn't. Something on the front derailleur popped, and now its range of motion is so limited that it won't cover both rings. Albert had the idea of using the other derailleur (it was only a year old); which works (I was too busy feeling disappointed and useless to think of it).

Adjust front derailleur. There's a terrible noise on the large cog; what on earth is that? Albert notices that the cog is hitting the jockey wheel; that means there MUST BE a "B" screw adjustment. Albert notices a screw sticking out into the atmosphere that doesn't seem to have any other purpose; it turns out to be the correct one. Nice!

Finally it's working. The rain has let up enough for a test ride; when Albert gets back, the left shifter won't drop the chain to the small gear. It turns out there's an interference in the levers; if you tap the lever, the interference clears... but it's not elegant. I think it's an issue in the shifter. It may pass with time; in the meantime, I'll look for information about an adjustment to the shift levers.

The bike is rideable... but I'm not happy about it.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Why am I doing this?

 Since I got off Facebook, readership has plummeted. I get about ten views per post, and I suspect half of those are bots of one kind or another.

It's not as much fun with so few readers. So why am I still doing it? Maybe it's time to let it go... after eleven years and almost 1,800 posts.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

frock coat progress

 You can read here about the inspiration for it, and here about making the mockup. I bought the fabric about three weeks ago, and cut it about a week later... and then I was too nervous to start it, because it's WAY beyond my sewing capability, and then we went on vacation. But since I've been back, I've been working on sewing up that frock coat.

The shell of the main body. The lapels aren't finished, nor the collar, and the bottom's not hemmed yet; it will be about an inch shorter.

The main body lining. It's bridal satin: heavier than the usual taffeta lining, and not bad to work with (it's about the color of orange sherbet, and I love it). I added the inside pockets (the pattern didn't include them), because what's a men's jacket without inside pockets? (The answer, frequently, is "a women's jacket".) I really messed up on those inside pockets: they'll hold together, but I'm glad nobody's going to see this work. Correcting those inside pockets is one of the things I'll do differently if I do it again.

I'll probably do it again. I'm a much better bicycle mechanic than seamster.

The jacket is made with a number of different panels, and I didn't get them a even to start, so I cut some panels apart and reassembled them to get it right. That's another thing I'll do better when I do it again.

Next project is the sleeves. I know from experience that making the sleeves is only a little challenging, but setting them into the shoulders without tucks and inadvertent pleats is much more so. I'll do the lining sleeves first, and (I hope) learn on those. The jacket fabric is light enough that I'll definitely want to add sleeve heads.

I've had the sewing machine about five months, and I'm doing this. One one side, I really suck; I'm the most arrant beginner. On the other side, I'm making up a jacket, and adjusting the pattern to my wants. I'm simultaneously embarrassed and impressed with myself.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

a couple of days of overdoing it.

Yesterday, Tom H invited a few of us on a ride that started near Cocoluxe in Peapack.

43 miles, with 3600 feet of climb. It's the kind of ride I'm usually ready for at the end of June, not the middle of May. I was tired by the end of it! But I did pretty well, considering. Still, I was glad when it was done.

In addition to the demand, it was notable in that we passed a place reported to be the headwater of the Raritan. Laura OLPH stopped to get pictures.

It was a bit less memorable when we crossed a town line, and got to another place that was reported to be the headwater of the Raritan. WTF?

Also notable: Peter G's daughter Sarah, waiting up front there, is going back to the left coast after having sat out much of the pandemic at her parents' house. She came on a number of rides with us, and behaved like she enjoyed our company, and didn't show off how much younger and stronger she was than we. I was glad she came out with us, and I wish her the best.

After that ride, I was sure that today's ride would be a slow recovery. RideWithGPS says that I averaged 15.1, but I think they're overreporting.

I particularly wanted to do this route today, because the Thomas Sweet in Montgomery reported that their toilets would be open, a condition about which I've been asking for a year.

Some of the folks who are usually fast horses were surprisingly social today; perhaps the sudden warm temperatures got to 'em. I suspect they got to me; I was dizzy and exhausted after the ride; took a sudden nap, and woke up with a cramp.

There's probably a lesson I should take from that, but I'm avoiding deriving it. If it's obvious to you, be a good person and don't point it out.

Friday, May 21, 2021

seein' mom, and cape may

 The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I took off this week; so went up to Buffalo to see my mother. Her memory's unreliable these days; she doesn't always remember that she's got a brother Jim AND a son Jim; while she usually remembers that I'm married, she hasn't remembered Regina's name in months; she keeps complaining that my sister is angry and won't call, despite the sister's daily phone contact.

My relationship with my parents was complicated, We went, I'll admit, because TEW felt sorry for my mother (more so than I felt). TEW brought an album from our wedding, and they had a happy time going through it.

We also dropped in on my sister and her husband (or, more properly, met them at dinner, along with my brother-in-law's brother and his wife, and another couple who are friends of theirs). We were invited to a birthday party for the other couple the next night. TEW couldn't think of a graceful way to get out, so we went... but that was weird. (On the other hand, they really were most welcoming.)

That was Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, we drove back home, stopped for a few minutes to swap bags (we had pre-packed separate bags for this part of the trip) and loaded up the bikes, and headed for Cape May.

We rode bikes every day, using a route adapted from Tom H's Road Biking NJ book. You can see the route I set up here, and our rides for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (We added miles - some not reported here - and shortened, as we needed).

 TEW wanted to buy a pair of gloves, so we stopped in at a shop that had this wall screen made of bike parts built into wheels. I love it.

TEW loves being at the water anywhere, and I like Cape May particularly; it attracts geezers (as opposed to the youngsters at Seaside or the families at Point Pleasant, although there are some of both), and I love the Victoriana; there's a Renaissance-fair feeling to it - not authentic, but fun, nonetheless.

WE stayed at an AirBNB.

We also walked through the Nature Conservancy bird sanctuary on Sunset Boulevard.

And, of course, we ate good seafood, and almost enough Ben & Jerry's. And I finally got some Cape May fudge. I'm glad I did, but I won't have to do that again.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

not goin' back

 I recently turned 66 years old. I'm planning to retire around Thanksgiving.

Because of the pandemic, I've been working from home for fourteen months. The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I were on vacation this week (there may be another post about that), and I got texts today at home from two of my coworkers that my employer has decided to extend the work-from-home program until at least December 31. 

I will never again work with all my coworkers in the office. If we hire new staff, I may need to train them... but I'll be alone with them, or with one other staff member.

I have mixed feelings. I'm glad not to lose the commuting time, not to have to pay for gas, not to have the wear-and-tear on the car. I get chores done around the house on my breaks.

But I'll never have the easy conversation with my coworkers. I'll never have the insight into their lives (or they into mine) that I used to take for granted. 

I don't have to dress up for work anymore... but I don't want to live in my pajamas either. I've taken to putting on a tie most days I'm working.

I'm grieving the loss of the office.