Saturday, July 23, 2016

rider down

On today's ride, club member Andrew A went down due to unknown circumstances. He had road rash; I am not aware of other injuries. My thoughts are with him.

My thanks to the Lumberton Rescue Squad and Police, whose staff responded quickly and professionally.

And here's an out-of-focus picture of a bug that caught its demise on one of Chris Cook's spokes today.

Friday, July 15, 2016

the right universe

Chris Cook gets credit for this one.

I've been having way too much trouble with the front derailleur on the Yellow Maserati; if I could get it to shift onto the big ring from the larger cogs, I'd get chaindrops in front when I shifted to the big ring from the smaller cogs. But If I adjusted to avoid the chaindrops, the chain wouldn't go onto the big ring from the lower-gear cogs.

I mentioned this to Chris, and he said (uncharacteristically quietly for him), "Make sure you're in the right universe."


After some further explanation (at more predictable volumes), it turned out that he meant to be sure that all the OTHER adjustments were correct before you go nuts on that last one. And he was right; the front derailleur cage was out-of-alignment with the plane of the chainrings (the cage also needed some subtle reshaping, but that would not have helped by itself).

Now, I would have said it the way I did in the last paragraph, and it would have been completely unmemorable. But "Make sure you're in the right universe" is just odd enough (and, I submit, poetic enough) to stick in my head. So now, when I do adjustments, I remember to make sure I'm in the right universe, to remind me to look at the OTHER parts of the system, as well.

(Chris insists that he was the originator of the practice of changing routes mid-ride on group rides to drop the pace-pushers who were off the front, a practice that has been associated with Don Sprague, and which is now called "Spraguing" in the club. I have no idea if that's true, although "Cooking" the pace-pushers is a better moniker for the practice. In any case, I wanted to make sure Chris got credit for this.)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

joe rides to the sea

Laura OLPH (who's already got her post up) likes to make long rides into centuries. I don't; a 60-to-70-mile-ride is just what I want to do most of the time, so when Joe M dropped a hint last weekend that he was gonna do his ride to Belmar today, I opened up the time and kept an eye on the weather. The time and the weather looked good, so off I went this morning to Etra for the start.

I got there at about 7:45 for the 8:30 start, and the gates were locked, so I went around the corner to make sure that an adjustment to my front derailleur was holding (and let this remind me that I need to do a post about Chris Cook and making sure you're in the right universe). It was, and by the time I got back, the gates were open, and riders for three rides (Mary F's, Gary W's, and Joe's) were all assembling in the lot.

It's been a while since I've seen Ira.

Of the folks who came, nine of us headed for Belmar. Joe's route is largely downhill and tailwind on the way in. One of the riders had a chain drop, early on, and shorty thereafter, the front derailleur hanger gave up the ghost, but she had a triple, so we popped the chain on the middle ring, and she did most of the ride like that. Below, the careful eye will note the missing front derailleur.

Some folks go to Belmar to see the water, but I like to see all the people showing off for each other.

But that gets weird after a while (everybody's so much younger than I), so I went back to hanging around with the bikers.

The ride back is uphill (well, DUH. Belmar's at sea level, right?) and into the wind. We started getting spread out, and the last of us hobble into the second stop, about fifteen miles from Etra.

We took turns shepherding the folks on the back, and made it back to Etra, more-or-less together but not really. Thanks, Joe, for the invite and the lead.

Oh, yeah, two more things: Ride page, and bike pics.

Above, Jen's got a new-generation Selle Anatomica saddle. I might need to rethink my disdain.

We don't need no stinking front derailleur!

Above: White Specialized logo on white bike. Immensely cool.

That Lezyne pump on Joe's bike is nearly jewelry. My other bike, the Krakow Monster, might need one.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

on-call weekend

'S just not fair that my lot falls to have the weekend on-call for both Memorial Day weekend AND Fourth of July weekend, so my boss has arranged to take over on-call tonight. Still, on-call means I'm expected to check the computer for new cases several times a day, and I can't be away from a computer for more than about a half-hour at a time.

So no long rides, or other big plans to be away from home for the weekend. I got this ride in yesterday without incident.

I knew I was going to be stuck at home, so I got the parts to build a new wheel to replace the one that's been creaking. As I said in the linked post, my hypothesis is that the rim causes the creak, so I decided to try this rim, that's a little beefier and (with the "semi aero" shape) should be a bit stiffer. (Link goes to Brandon Hunziker's Bike Hub Store; he's been real helpful, and has good stuff for not too much $$.)

I built the wheel up between July 1 & 2, and it went together much more easily than the wheels with the other rim; that may be because I'm getting to be a better wheelbuilder, but I suspect it's because the stiffer rim resisted a certain amount of falling-out-of-true. In any case, I popped it on the Yellow Maserati today, and it rides nice. No creaks... but it's early days yet; it takes time for them to appear.

The ride I did today was this one. As I mentioned, I keep the ride to about an hour so that I'm no more than a half-hour from home at any point in the ride if the phone should go off. Wouldn't you know it did, just about at the furthest point; I had just made the turn in Colonial Park when I heard the dratted Apple ringtone. One of the programs had a client who was to be stepped down today, and they wanted authorization. I got to speak with the staffer, and I was impressed; he had his t's crossed and his i's dotted, and all the right checkboxes were filled. I gave him the verbal on the phone, and said I'd have the formal auth in the computer in about an hour... and beat that poor horse to get home in time to do it!

I made it in time, and got the computer stuff done; I've done a little maintenance on the bike, cleaned up the garage a bit (as much as Jacob would let me), and now I'm waiting for The Excellent Wife (TEW) to get back from HER ride so I can do a laundry.

I feel like this block-of-text post needs a picture, so here's the top pic that came up when I searched for "dumb bike pic" today:

Friday, July 1, 2016

back pain

I've had some wicked back pain the past few weeks; it's interfered with my sleep and my sitting. Recently, it's moved to my right hip; I can' stand for very long, and I sometimes limp when I walk. About the only thing it hasn't interfered with is biking.

The pain in the hip reminded me of the story of Jacob at the Jabbok creek, from Genesis 32:

22 That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.

I've decided to call the back pain "Jacob". Jacob's not too intrusive right now, but he REALLY didn't like the humidity the other day. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

what do you get on a tom h ride?

So Laura OLPH was out of town, and Tom H took over her ride for today. He said he was "planning a 47ish mile moderately hilly ride with one stop, probably in New Hope."

Three of Tom's Insane Bike Posse took him up on the offer, out of the Park and Ride that's either in Yardley, Upper Makefield, or Washington Crossing, depending on whose GPS or mapping site you consider. I got there early, and helped a hapless newbie with her first tube change; but the time I was done, Jack and Tom were there, and Blake rolled in a few beats later.

Tom did his Holy Kickstand ritual (laugh if you want, but it seems to be working):

... and off we went on this ride.

You can tell from the elevation diagram that we started right off with a climb. I had a problem that I thought was a brake bind, but turned out to be that the rear quick-release had worked loose after I'd replaced the creaky rear wheel with one with radial left spokes. (I was whining last week about my creaky rear wheel problem; more in an upcoming post.)

We proceeded to Tyler Park, and rolled around a bit (there's a pretty path; one of the locals took us to task about riding the road bikes on a path with pedestrians until we assured her we'd only run two or three people off into the weeds). Jack discovered a loose bottle cage, and fixed it.

One of the things you can expect on a Tom H ride is a mechanical problem; we'd had two minor ones.

Another thing you can count on is a section of no paving (or sometimes, no road). Coming out of the park, we came upon the gravel road:

(It DID lead up to the first of two covered bridges, so there's that...) A few minutes later, we had to climb this...

... to get out of the park. (Can you see the log-stairs in the background?)

Another thing that happens on a Tom ride, but you can't count on it, is a detour. Jack pointed out that he'd owned a house along here years ago, and wanted to see it, so we adjusted the route to go by:

Tom spoke with nostalgia about the house, the garage he'd built:

... the guy he hired to move the boulders to the front (and the low taxes...).

And back we came. You can't COUNT on 3000 feet of climb in less than 50 miles... but don't be surprised if it happens!

(No ride yesterday; had another one of those Polish funerals, so I had plenty of calories to work off today.)

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Francisco Rodriguez, mechanic at Kim's Bikes, who calls me Mr. Jim (and treats me way better than I deserve), has added me to a closed group on Facebook for the Saturday Kim's Bike Shop rides.

And Ed Kanitra has made me a moderator of the Bicycle New Jersey Facebook group.

Sheesh. I'm honored.

I might have to start looking at Facebook now and then, other than just to link to these posts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

split solo ride, i have a reader, why the wheels creak, and why black bar tape is best for me

Well, there are a few reasons for it:
  1. The Florida in-laws are in town;
  2. The Excellent Wife (TEW)'s aunt was ailing (we just heard that she died);
  3. I've still got the back pain I referred to in yesterday's post, so I didn't want to take on too much.
 So instead of going on one of the Freewheeler rides, or going out with Snakehead (who's doing a heavy-training day today in preparation for having his daughter hand his head to him on Bike Virginia next week), I decided to do a solo ride. I've got this route that I figure might be good for a Sunday pickup ride; it's short, but it's got a few demanding climbs, and it allows for stops in Hopewell, Princeton, and/or Kingston. I decided to modify that.

GPS was wonky, though; at first it wouldn't load the route, then it cut out and I had to restart, so I wound up with two ride pages: the first fourteen miles, and the remaining 23-or-so.

I ding the bell and wave at most riders (Dave Kim said yesterday that he visualizes me on a high-wheel ordinary, twirling my moustache and tipping my wool cap to all and sundry), and, of course, I was doing so today. I passed one gentleman in Hopewell, who cranked like hell to catch me again and said he reads this blog every week! Wait... I have a regular reader? Are there others? I'm flattered... and a little awed by the responsibility. Does this mean I've gotta stop whining about my mental foibles and physical ailments? (Hint: Unlikely to actually happen; as I write this I have the back brace on again... and why didn't I get one a week ago? I just went to Costco with it on, and younger folks were making space for the poor weak old guy. I could get used to that.)

 A bit further down the road, I had an epiphany. I've built a (small) number of wheels, and some of the rear wheels I've built have developed a creak. Laura OLPH suggested I had not pulled the spokes tight enough, but I can't believe that: I ruined one rim by buckling it when I pulled the drive-side spokes too tight, and you can see in the picture below that there's some distension about the rim in the middle spoke; the ones on either side don't show it. The middle spoke is a drive-side spoke.

I think the rim flexes, and that's what causes the creak. All the creaks have been in wheels with this rim. The one rear that I've built with a different rim has no creak. (It's definitely the non-drive spokes, too; I've got a wheel laced three-cross on the drive side and radial on the other, and that one doesn't creak.) My experiment will be to build a wheel with a different rim (without eyelets; I think those are stiffer), with a cross pattern on the non-drive side, and see if the creak occurs. I'm betting it won't.

Finally, some pictures of my bar tape. I usually wrap with black, but for my 60th birthday, Snakehead got me some very good SRAM yellow (in honor of the Yellow Maserati, no doubt). The pictures below show the condition of the pretty yellow tape, eight months after installation:

I guess this is why we just can't have nice things...

Saturday, June 18, 2016

ride with kims a different way

So it's not enough, I suppose, that I'm saddled with an anxiety disorder; for the past two weeks or so I've had a wicked back pain problem (it seems to be passing now, but I'm wearing a back brace as I type this, and I was walking with a cane last night). Biking is one of the few things I can do that doesn't make the pain worse (probably because I'm sitting down), but I still demurred when Snakehead emailed about needing a challenge before his daughter kicks his ass at Bike Virginia next week; despite the fact that I like to challenge myself with Snakehead Ed, I was afraid of exacerbating the back problem. I told him I'd probably just show up for the Kim's ride at 8am.

Which I did. I had a bit of bike-computer lockup, and lost the first couple miles on the computer (but I got 'em in my legs, which is the important part), but when I got to the shop, the folks I call the Kimbo's were starting to assemble.

Yay! Miguel is back!He was wearing long sleeves and tights after a recent sunburn; he didn't want a repeat/

That's an unrecognizable picture (due to my cheesy camera) above of John and Ryan.

... and Dave came out again. (I hope he's not neglectin' his paternal duties, or any such.)

There was some talk of a change in route (someone didn't want to face the climb at Coppermine), but we started out in the usual direction, and picked up the fast Rutgers boys at the Olde Towne lot in Johnson Park. Snakehead and some of his compatriots were there. 

We went through Bound Brook, and got spread out heading down to the park. I hung back with Francisco and his group, and by the time we got to the assembly point at the other side of Colonial Park, the others were rarin' to go.

But it wasn't until we stopped at Blackwells Mills that the route changes got set. 

Snakehead and his crew went on to Princeton; I went with the Kimbos across the Griggstown Causeway, then back up to Blackwells Mills, up into Somerset and back to the shop. (The Rutgers boys call the causeway at Blackwells Mills, "First Bridge", and the Griggstown Causeway is "Second Bridge". This added to my confusion. Although I'm lost all the time, this is one of the few places I usually ride where I know the road names.)

We got spread out again, partly due to my confusion about who was going where. We headed across at Griggstown, then up River Road, where there was as much traffic as I remember.  As Francisco, Miguel, and I got back onto Blackwells Mills, we saw a few of the others waiting for us (there was a gentle use of the term "slowpokes", as I remember). We headed up into Somerset (more new territory for me; I got lost again), and I almost missed the turn to get back to the shop.

The back pain wasn't a problem on this ride, and I turned in some pretty quick speeds (although I remember thinking, "I'm too old for this", as three young riders whipped past me when I moved aside to let the paceline go through). I like going out with this group... even though the ride is over by about 10:15, I get a full workout in early in the day. And it leaves the rest of the day for a leisurely ride to the CVS for a back brace, and a date with The Excellent Wife (TEW) at O Wow Cow.

You definitely want to check out O Wow Cow.

Oh, yeah. Ride page. Note the missing 2+ miles at the start. And the average should have been higher, but I was whipped by the time I was riding home.