Saturday, December 3, 2016

hilly and windy, quick hop to black eddy

Laura's post said:

Let's do one last trip to Upper Black Eddy this year.  The first half will have hills; the second could be flat if we don't feel like climbing, or hilly if we do.  The route will be about 50 miles either way.

So eight of us met at the CVS in Lambertville.

Now, on the way there, I'd gotten a call from TEW that I'd left my water bottle home, and I was running late. I ducked into the CVS to see what I could find, which was a Poland Spring bottle that more-or-less fit into he cage if I left it upside down... and Tom H lent me an extra bottle. I have a pre-ride checklist, and the bottle is on it, but it didn't work today (I've been a mess recently).

It was another of those late-fall, dramatic-sky days.

Laura had chosen to go to Black Eddy, which is at the bottom of a wicked hill on Bridgeton Hill Road, and we usually either come screaming down it (competing with traffic, and with a blind left turn before the bottom) just before the stop, or grind out way up just after. I asked Laura which it was gonna be. "Neither," she said. She doesn't know the roads in Pennsylvania, so we were going to ride some hills in Jersey, cross at Milford, and cross back and decide whether we were ready for more hills, or whether to take the mostly flat route back.

Avoiding that one hill didn't mean it was a flat ride, though, and with winds gusting to near 30 mph at the summits (I saw riders leaning into the crosswinds), we were ready for a break. We got off to walk the bikes across the bridge at Milford...

...but first we had to wait for this gal running her dog across the bridge.

At Upper Black Eddy:

In case you hadn't heard, there's been a drought.

With the wind and hills, we opted for the flat route back, except for a detour to get us off the main road between Stockton and Lambertville (the road's narrow and busy, although I think a few of our number would have been willing to risk it). Overall, 52 miles with 2300+ feet of climb, on a day that didn't reach 50°F in December.

You should have come! Get out your winter gear!

Friday, December 2, 2016

datauniverse. i shouldn't have.

On the DataUniverse site (hosted by the Asbury Park Press), you can find all kinds of records, including salary data for employees of Rutgers University. I'm now an employee there, and I looked up a few salaries in my unit.

I shouldn't have, and I won't do it again. It led to a sleepless night and a grumpy morning, and there's nothing I can do about the salaries. I was grateful to get this job when I did. I'm doing good work there. I have the respect of many of my coworkers, and the enmity of others (and the good will of some people is not worth having). We have no debt; we have retirement savings; we can manage a medium-size financial emergency if it arises. And that's enough.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

the voice in my head

Regular readers (and anybody who is acquainted with me in the least) will know that I am not exactly a wellspring of mental health.This .gif made me think of the interior monologue that goes on on my head pretty much all the time.

From today's Oddman.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

the end of the main st cafe

Today was the last day that the Main St Cafe will be open (there's no point linking to the site, now, is there?); it will be made into another PJ's Pancakes (there's frequently a line out the door for the one in Princeton, which tells me that Princetonians don't know a damn thing about food... and before you get all uppity, yes, we've eaten at PJ's twice; it's better than Waffle House and about equivalent to an upscale diner).

The Main St Cafe was the favorite coffee stop of The Excellent Wife (TEW); Snakehead had a birthday party there; we used to get cakes there (when TEW didn't make them herself), and I used to stop there for empty calories regularly. The local Major Taylors started many of their rides from there, and it was rare, when I would stop in or pass, that I DIDN'T see bikes out front.

I decided to do a ride to stop by there, and put it up on a couple of bike-y Facebook pages. Five came out: Laura OLPH, Snakehead, one of his professor friends John, newly-regular-Hill-Slug Ricky. and Michael, who leads rides into the Sourlands.

I promised a high-14-to-low-15mph pace, and brought it in, despite the strong legs on some of these guys. The route page includes my rides to and from home; the route was a not-too-hilly route I do on Sundays. I offered stops in Hopewell and Princeton, but we decided to hold out until we got to the Cafe.

That, above, is a much better picture of Rick than the one at top, isn't it?

The joint was jumpin'; all kinds of people were there, mostly all saying goodbyes (and, apparently, mostly all known to the staff). It was gratifying.

Laura bought something yummy and peeled off to go home; the rest of us headed into a headwind back to the start. When we got onto Canal Road, I told the guys they could go ahead... and go they did; within a sort time they'd left me behind. I came on another rider as he emerged from Canal Road; we chatted a bit about saddles and bearings, and took turns pulling one another until he turned off at Jacques. I got back to the parking lot in time to say goodbyes, and rode the last five miles home.

The way I see it, there are a few possible outcomes for the Main St Cafe location. If I might be allowed metaphors from my days as a theologian (modified by too much fantasy and sci-fi):
  • It might be a resurrection. That is, the new place might be an excellent completion of the possibilities of the old.
  • It might be a resuscitation. That is, the new place might be more or less the same as the old.
  • It might be a zombie. The new place bears some resemblance to the old, but is sadly weaker.
  • It might be a body-snatcher. The new place has some resemblance, but is completely worse and toxic.
As my family members point out, I'm never hopeful. Whatever will replace the Cafe is to open in the spring. We will see.

Friday, November 25, 2016

more thoughtfulness and gratitude, including a ride

So we were at the Excellent In-Laws for the holiday yesterday, and we avoided the topic of politics completely, and got along fine. And I'm actually DOWN a half-pound from yesterday. Don't tell The Excellent Wife (TEW).

While I was stuck in the toilet at the Excellent In-Laws, I saw an email that was forwarded about a ride that John K was leading today from the Hopewell Elementary School. I didn't know where that was (now, THAT's unprecedented), and emailed back for an address. One of my sometime co-riders pointed out that there IS such a thing as Google... but, on my dumbphone, that's so slow that asking for a favor, no matter how embarrassing, is less tedious than looking for the answer myself. At home, I always have at least one computer open (sometimes I have as many as four), so I don't need a useful smartphone. And then there's the fact that I'm so cheap...

John, Laura OLPH, Robert N, and I did this ride today. I was way early, and wasn't quite sure I was in the right place, but the sky was dramatic.

About a half-hour after I got there, John drove up, and then Laura and Robert rode in.

This crew is forgiving about picture stops. I don't remember where this was.

It was a social, chatty ride. I pushed the pace a bit, and then remembered myself and behaved better.

In Lambertville, just above Rojo's:

Didja see the one in the window? I hope that's true. I guess we'll see.

At Rojo's, we ran into Paul with his daughter (who had the presence of mind to introduce herself when Paul neglected to do so). We were all impressed and talking about Paul's poetry.

Also there was this young lady, with the great look. She came out and got me talking about bikes, and I had to be dragged away, as usual.

She's working in a bike shop in Philly, and she gives me hope for the future.

From there, we went to see Michael at Wheelfine. Apparently, he's got a deal going: if you buy a bike, you get a free cap. I'm not sure it would be a persuasive argument. His place is a happy chaos, though, and Robert had never seen it, so they went on the tour while I drooled on the bikes out front.

Then back to Hopewell. As I was driving back, I stopped in at the Main St Cafe in Kingston; by the time you read this, they may have already closed for good. I hope whatever replaces the Cafe will be half the institution they were.

After I got home, I discovered that the Knog taillight, that I was upsold on years ago at Halter's and that I've never really liked, had died (yaaaay!). So I'm sort-of in the market for a taillight.

There are worse things.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

thoughtful thanksgiving ride

It was warm enough, and mostly dry enough, for me to get in a moderate 20 miles this morning.

On the way I had some thoughts about family. I have some millennial nephews who supported Trump (or at least, did not support Hillary; the two amount to the same thing, although the purist young folks may not believe so), and I've been panicked about what to say to them today if the issue of politics comes up. I don't want to just write them off (well, I do, but The Excellent Wife (TEW) would not be happy if I did). I've been practicing evasive responses to the issues that might come up, but on the ride I came up with this:

"Please, let's not talk about this today. I'm still too raw. There may be a day when we can discuss these things and wind up with me not hating you, but today is not that day, and hating you is not an outcome I want. Please, let's talk about anything else, but not this, not today."

I thought about the Alt-Right movement, and the arrogance of the most powerful class of people in the world complaining that their issues are not heard. I thought about the things for which I'm grateful: TEW, money in the bank, being employed (and having coworkers with whom I get along), friends, bikes.

I went up Coppermine today (I didn't think I had it in me, but I did, of course), and, as I was gathering speed to come down Old Georgetown at a whippy pace, I saw a loose dog in the road: one of the homeowners had allowed the dog to run free. I avoided eye contact and slowed; the dog barked and tracked my heels, as the owner called him back. Everything was fine, but I didn't get up to my usual speed on the Old Georgetown downhill. Hrmph. There are worse problems.

A light rain started about 2-3 miles from home (it's stopped since); just enough so I get credit for a Rule 9 ride.

And, of course, I'll be out later eating all kinds of good things, and putting on more winter weight. Life is sometimes good. Here's hoping yours is, too.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

annual breakdown & buildup

Every fall I break down the Yellow Maserati to parts and build it up again. I did most of that today. I threw the bike up on the stand:

... and stripped off everything that gets in the way: the bags, the taillight, the pump...

First, the easy stuff: I replaced the brake pads with the salmon Kool-Stop wet-weather pads. Below, the pads coming off (one set of Kool Stops, one set of original pads). I'm not sure you can see how worn down the pads are.

Once the brake shoes are set, replace the pads is easy; loosen the set bolts, slide in the new pad (get the orientation right!), replace the set bolts.

Next, new brake and derailleur cables. Rip off the handlebar tape, take out the  old cables and housing pieces, run the new cables, install the new housing...

One of the neat little details, if the housing has logos, is to cut a piece for that little run at the seatpost, and have the logo on it, right-side-up.

I like to run all of the cables first before I cut and finish them.

The other stuff I did was put on new bar tape and a new chain. The bar tape is this 40mm tape from Zevlin, which is over 50% wider than the tape I used to use, so I can wrap it thick at the tops where my hands are most of the time. Even in the drops, it's softer (it's 2.5mm thick polymer, offering more cushion and better support than "cork" tapes... at least, that's what's advertised... and the polymer will be easier to clean than the "cork"). My micro-test-ride around the condo today suggest that the comfort will be good, but the real test will come about 55 miles into a 70-mile ride.

The other thing is a new chain. Several months ago, I replaced the 50-tooth big ring on my compact with a 46, so I cut a shorter chain for this build.

One of these posts, I need to talk about how customized my bike is (even though the frame is a standard size), and why you ought to customize yours, too.

does this mean i'm a muse?

After my previous post and my complaints about not being able to dress for the weather, Freewheeler Paul (I don't use his last initial because it makes him look like I'm referring to a pope) wrote a poem. Go see the original in the comments to the Facebook post.

November is the new October
with trees of flame and fields of gold.
What happened to the early winter?
By now it should be fu$%ing cold.
 A few thoughts:
  1. I'm flattered that he paid enough attention to come up with this.
  2. Paul's a poet! Who knew? (I'm sure I didn't, although I've recently seen some poetry posts of his, and they're good.)
  3. Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, of course. Every patriotic American says so.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

tom's flat 55

I've got a friend who's decided he doesn't like driving to ride starts, and it makes sense: the bike is, after all, a form of transportation, and driving uses gas and pollutes (and subjects the driver to the stresses and indignities of traffic here in Central NJ). But riding from home restricts the routes I can use, and the people I see. And especially in the wake of being Trumped by middle-Americans in the election (I haven't taken it well; the crazy has been calling me), a decent long ride, with people I like, was a tonic.

Nine of us started at the Muschal school for Tom's ride that was supposed to be a recover-from-eating-too-much-at-Thanksgiving-ride (but which was inadvertently put into the ride list for the week before Thanksgiving). I was NOT among the first, which may be a sign of my decompensation.

Tom did the holy-kickstand blessing of the bikes:

...and it must have worked, because I think the only mishap was that I lost a navy bandana.

We did a route that's not unusual when we leave from there, except that we did it backwards, so that we could go on Axe Factory Road (what a great name!). This was a Tom ride, so it was, of course, closed...

 ... and, this being a Tom ride, we went through anyway.

There were two opportunities for a stop: at 20 miles, and at 32. We took them both, because the latter stop didn't have a usable toilet. When we turned off at 20 miles, we turned onto a gravel parking lot, and there was some discussion about whether this constituted a dirt section (also common on Tom rides), or whether he got a pass because it was a parking lot instead of a stretch of road.

Off we went to the Wawa in Brown's Mills, which, to my dismay, did not have the ridiculously-large apple fritters I like to get. Instead, there were kids (and their coach) collecting money for a new kid's basketball team.

We talked to the kids about basketball and bikes, and to the coach about the huge financial nut they have to make for space, referees, maybe a van, equipment, and so on. We THINK the name of the group was "Won by One", and we threw a little money at 'em. They were good kids.

Route page.

I've not been able to figure out how to dress this fall; I'm either overdressed or freezing, and each ride I try to make up for how uncomfortable I was on the last one. Last ride I was cold, so I was completely unprepared when the weather was over 70ºF today. I had stripped off a layer before I left the school, and another at the first rest stop. But I was sweating to the point that the sweat in my eyes blinded me a couple of times. I wonder if I'll get this together before spring?