Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I have never been ashamed of being a White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant American male due to anything said or done by any woman, person of color, person of any other ethnicity, person of any religion... or whatnot.

I am ashamed of the behavior of people who claim they speak for me and my race. I am sorry for what they have done. I have donated money against their cause, and will continue to do so.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

lying bastard

Tom's listing for this ride read:

THE LYING BASTARD RIDE: This ride is back by unpopular demand. I have been accused of misrepresenting how hilly and hard my Lake Nockamixon ride is but this is truly FAKE NEWS. Yes, the terrain will be hilly to rolling with some (3500 ft) of climbing but will be a YUGELY scenic ride. So if doing something different on unfamiliar roads with a ride leader called a lying bastard doesn’t bother you then join me for fun ride.

I remembered this ride from previous years, and was one of those who accused Tom of being... uh, mendacious, when he described the hills on this ride. That said, I still planned to ride it. Tom calls us his "Insane Bike Posse", but I think we're just too dumb to learn from our mistakes.

It IS hugely scenic; the stop (which comes early, about 20 miles into this 51-mile ride) is great; and I like the people who come out. So yes, I got up early to get to Frenchtown for the start (with the weather that threatened yesterday, Tom moved the ride to today). Unfortunately, I had a bit of gastro-intestinal distress which would not be avoided on the way there; I stopped at a Wawa to enjoy their plumbing, and was almost late. Laura OLPH, whom I frequently point out is one of the last of us to arrive at ride starts (although she is almost always on time), crowed when I pulled in as she was already unloading her car. Most of the others were already there (Tom, Jack H, Ricky); Robert N rolled in just after me.

And off we went. Now, there are certain things you can expect on one of Tom's rides, as regular readers will know. One of them is a bridge out. Tom led us to a bridge that was supposedly out, which had concrete barriers for four-wheeled traffic (and weeds of a size that indicated the barriers have been in place for years), but also had openings that would easily admit pedestrians and bicycles.

See those gaps? It's hardly worth dismounting, is it?

I didn't get pictures of the ride itself; I wasn't feeling 100% and I didn't want to hold up the group. But it was a glorious ride on a great day.

About 20 miles in, we stopped at this excellent stop, where they were all friendly (I'm a sucker for that). Even one of the customers asked if we wanted the big table (I didn't; I stand at rest stops; it helps me manage my worsening sciatica).

Tom promised us a brief stop at 40 miles if we needed it; I was pretty sure I would (I was right).

After that second stop, in an effort to save the traffic on a major thoroughfare, Tom took us down Quarry, which has a gravel surface. Tom said it looked OK on Google Maps. What I don't think he counted on was that in crosses Rapp Creek, which meant a downhill to the narrow bridge, then an uphill, both in  the gravel.

I couldn't do it. The wheels kept slipping. I'd gone over a few weeks ago in a gravel parking lot (then bruises are just clearing up), and it was just too scary. I walked the bike down and up: the second time I've done so this summer.

But you know what? I made it. I also made it through what Tom called the "Red Circle of Death", a section of Red Cliff Road that drops about 150' in about a half mile (Tom said it was steeper, but the ride page shows it's not).

After that, it was a quick ride back to Frenchtown... and for me, then, a leisurely drive to Lambertville to meet The Excellent Wife (TEW) for ice cream at O Wow Cow. She's taken a resentment that I get to Lambertville more often than she, that I go to O Wow Cow for ice cream when I do, and that I never fail to gloat over the fact that I got there and she didn't. So she insisted on meeting there today after the ride. Sometimes, the responsibilities of staying married are onerous indeed.

not impressed

Saw a number of these today:

I'm not impressed. I'd be more impressed if there were a sign next to any one decrying the racists in Charlottesville.

What it says to me is: If you're not a friend or a family member, if you're not a believer, if you're not a geographical neighbor*, if you're a citizen of another country... then the sign poster has nothing for you.

*As for "who is a neighbor", Jesus had something to say about that.

Saturday, August 12, 2017, after you, my dear gaston

They're not updating right now, but the authors of Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery have the whole archive up.

I ran across this one last night, and it speaks to my condition, as I used to say when I was a Quaker:

Original here.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

bike volunteer

The past two weekends, I've been volunteering my services: as a mechanic for the ZTrek ride, and managing the Robbinsville rest stop for the Princeton Freewheelers (PFW) 2017 bike event.

I'd seen the promo signs for the Ztrek ride ever since the Tour de Franklin (for which I was also volunteer mechanic), and, looking up the site, I found they had a neat idea for a mechanic: I could ride the routes in my car, stopping for cyclists in distress, and popping in at the rest stops or responding to calls in the cell. I could keep tools in the car, and use a trunk bike rack on the back of the car for a bikestand, so I signed up.

But I heard they didn't have ANY mechanic for sure; they'd contacted Bike 'N Gear (called "Deli Bicycles" by one of my associates, from their sign on Amwell Road; Bike 'N Gear shares a parking lot with a delicatessen), but Bike 'N Gear never gt back to 'em, so I was to be the mechanic. We figured I'd set up at the start at the Zarephath Church, from which the ride was to start, and then head to Veterans Park in Montgomery, which was to be their busiest rest stop.

It was a rainy morning, but, of course, the diehards were out.

And when I got there, the mechanic from Bike 'N Gear was setting up.

Well, he had the tent and the reputation; all I had was two pumps, a bike stand, and my tools and parts on a luggage hand truck. So after a while of being mostly ignored, I went to the park in Montgomery.

I didn't expect to be as busy as I was. There were a lot of underinflated tires, a few tubes to change, some shifters that needed adjustment, a brake that wouldn't brake, a brake that wouldn't release. One rider broke a cable, which I didn't have (won't make THAT mistake again), and a rider needed an O-ring for a tube valve extension for a carbon wheel that was deeper than your palm is wide (sorry; some parts are just TOO specialized for me to have in my kit).

I did about seven hours there. The next day, I went on this ride with Tom and Jack. I rode from home, wound up with over 70 miles, and the exhaustion after the day before didn't pass for the next two days.

Yesterday, I managed the Robbinsville rest stop for the PFW event. The club provides a lot of what we need, but experience has shown that the supplies need to be supplemented: they don't supply ice, for example, or chairs for the volunteers. We got hoses to fill the water coolers, but there's not a faucet to which to attach the hose in Robbinsville, so we needed to rig a fix. And there are a number of other things specific to the location to be addressed.

The day before, I took a couple hours off from work so I could get to Robbinsville to get the key to the stop (I've got to return it tomorrow). From there, I went to Andy C's house to get the car filled with supplies; on the way, I stopped for a few other things. When I got to Andy's, I saw that one of my team, Carol J, was there getting HER car filled up; then the rest of the stuff went in my Prius, including two cases of bananas, four bags of bagels, and thirty watermelons.

I had heard that Knapp's would not be there to provide bike maintenance services, so I had already had tools, my bike stand, two pumps, and supplies in the car, as well as a tray table, two chairs, and a 2'x3' cutting board. The car was running pretty low by the time I got home. (TEW had gone to Bergen and would drive direct to the stop to help.)

Don Sprague had run this stop for years, and I inherited it from him; I had a sign made up in his memory. I got to Robbinsville about 7 and started setting up, and soon Carol J was there with her supplies, and SAG driver Russ H brought the tables.

My team was TEW, Carol J, Rajesh, and Mindy and Jeff. I had Rajesh manage the liquids, and the others doing pretty much everything else, while I figured out routes, talked to riders, provided emotional support, and fixed bikes.

The Robbinsville stop was on every ride except the 70-mile-hilly (which was routed into the Sourlands) and on the 25- and 100-mile routes, riders stopped twice ( which was confusing to a few, and which resulted in jokes about time warps and the Groundhog Day movie). We expected a huge number of riders, but I don't think we got as many as expected; I think people were put off by the early rains. Still, there were people who came out. The fellow iin the picture below was our first, complaining about how his partners had dropped out.

All types of riders come out for the event. Some are ready, and ride all the time; some ride seldom; some have taken on more than they can handle. I think part of my job at the stop is being a cheerleader, psychologist, and confessor. There were families with kids, and groups of friends, and solo riders.

Above, some of the team take some exercise.

I loved this Outrider jersey:

The 100-mile riders stopped at Robbinsville twice: once at 70 miles, and again at 90. What I've learned from working this stop is this: as the hours get later, the riders coming in for their last stops NEED the stop. We cheated the closing time a little late so we could provide service to the riders coming in late, and SAG driver Russ stayed behind for a bit after I left for a last couple of stragglers (thanks, Russ; it was after 4pm by then; I'd been at the stop for 9 hours and I was wiped out).

This morning, TEW and I did this ride, and even with the short distance and slow pace, I'm done. I nodded out while I was writing this post. Tomorrow, back to Robbinsville after work to return the key.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

blue army shrine, asbury, and one of my favorite roads

Tom H was away in Ireland for business this week, and it wasn't clear if he'd get back to do his ride scheduled for today, which included this in the description:

Join me as I head up to Warren county to try out some new roads and probably get a little lost. This will be a hilly ride with 2 or 3 tough climbs but it should be scenic and I promise a few good downhills.

Laura OLPH told me early in the week that I needed to do this ride: it would include one of my favorite stretches of road (River Road around Riegelsville, where it follows the railroad right-of-way), and my mental health demanded it (and pretty much anybody else is a better judge of my mental state than I am). I also think she wanted my Catholic education handy when she was drifting around the Blue Army Shrine.

Laura had ridden though there on this ride last year, and wanted to make another visit. She's been having GPS problems, though, and despaired of her GPS recovering when she found she couldn't map the ride through the Shrine.

So, with some GPS trepidation, we gathered in Frenchtown this morning.

I got there early, and was sort-of dozing in the car when Jack arrived and woke me from my reverie by bouncing the rear suspension of the Prius. We started getting ready, and Blake and Tom appeared, and then Laura. We swept the surrounding lots for stragglers, but found none (although I think everybody in North Jersey who had a bike might have been out today, except for the few who were tubing down the Delaware instead).

We got underway.

Early in the ride, Laura came up and asked if I'd learned a song she'd learned in religious (Edit: Laura reminds me she never had anything to do with religion, at any time in her life) school (I'd learned a slightly different version in camp):

Oh, you can't get to heaven
On roller skates
You'll roll right by
Those pearly gates!
Oh, you can't get to heaven on roller skates
You'll roll right by those pearly gates!
I ain't gonna grieve my Lord no more...

She'd got to thinking about that song worrying about losing the route on the GPS at the shrine, and she'd come up with:

Oh, you can't get to heaven
On a Cannondale
Your climbing legs
Will surely fail (I may be remembering it inexactly)...

Well, this sort of thing is addictive:

Oh, you can't get to Frenchtown
From Mary's Shrine:
Your GPS
Won't draw the line!
Oh, you can't get to heaven from Mary's Shrine
Your GPS won't draw the line
I ain't gonna pedal hills no more.

(Laura and Tom compete for the maximum amount of silliness on their rides).

I was singing that sort of thing in my head until we got to a crossing of Route 31 that was even worse than the one at Ringoes, when I started chanting something else.

But we DID go to Mary's Shrine. There are a number of statues, including one of Pope John-Paul II looking like a Nazgul, and a couple of weird crucifixes:

The Shrine appears to appeal to Catholics of all stripes: besides these (mostly Polish) statues, there were some Byzantine rite objects, and a busload of Latinos (of what type I didn't get) were out for a picnic or something.

And both our GPS devices kept the route. So there.

On to Asbury. It's a shame this place is so far away, because I like it (on the other hand, it is expensive, and it CAN be, because there doesn't appear to be anyplace else close). We met Mike H's ride there.

From there, back. You'll see from the ride page that all the worst hills were in the first, oh, 60% of the ride, and Tom, who had just gotten off the plane from Ireland the afternoon before, was in no condition to challenge us too much. There was that bit on River Road I love so much. I was too busy enjoying the easy pace and the beautiful scenery to have paid adequate attention to these pictures:

Well, that's that. Weather prediction is dodgy for a ride tomorrow morning (The Excellent Wife and I have a date with The Excellent Mother-In-Law later), and I'm the house mechanic for the Z-Trek Charity Ride next week. Free tune-ups to registered riders; need a tune-up?