Tuesday, August 4, 2020

ride for august 9

Start at 8:30 from Claremont School, 175 Claremont Road, Franklin, NJ 08823. We'll do 40-45 miles down to Princeton, then to Hopewell (with stop there), then Montgomery & Skillman.

If you want to ride in and meet us, we'll be passing the Griggstown Firehouse 8:45-9, maybe. Route here.

Regular club rules and COVID-19 rules apply. As I posted last time, we're all at different points on the coronavirus concern web. Try to act with a care for the person who's a bit more concerned than you are. Masks will be expected to be used at the start and at stops when not eating or drinking.

Pre-registration required. If I don't know you, email me your cell phone and emergency numbers; I'll pre-print them on the sheet and save the sign-in awkwardness.

There's been a porta-potty at the school, and we'll be passing a few. We'll likely stop at Boro Bean, who has had their toilet open (but if it's wicked hot we can stop at the convenience store instead).

Hope to see some of youse.

Sunday, August 2, 2020


I deleted my Strava account. I haven't used it in years; there's nothing there I want that I can't get better elsewhere; the competitive thing that they promote is no good for me.

As for the title of the post, it's an acronym that Snakehead and I came up with back when Snakehead was Snakehead. The third and fourth letters stand for "in the", and the last five stand for "with a flaming barbed harpoon." Readers with a puzzle-oriented mind and a rudimentary grasp of English profanity will be able to figure out the rest.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

recovered enough to lead

You may already have heard that Laura OLPH was in a bike accident this week; it killed one of her bikes and left her person a bit the worse for wear... so when she dropped hints that she was going to lead a ride today, I was all in support. I wanted to be along to make sure everything was OK (although I don't know what I would have done if anything were not).

She listed a fifty-ish mile ride out of Mercer Park East, and when I got there, I saw that people were also gathering for one of Sue M's rides.

Shortly, Laura's crew came driving or rolling in.

Peter G and his daughter Sarah, Tom H, Bob N, Ricky G, Jack H, and Peter R. We went rolling off towards New Egypt.

We climbed that benighted section of Roosevelt Ave to get into the Assunpink (although climbing is better than descending), and stopped by one of the parking areas for pictures.

Damn geese. We need some wolves.

We stopped at Charleston Coffee, which was open (yaaaay!), and had toilets available.

Most of the gang found a place to hang out in the shade.

Laura told us about her crash. You can see from her post that the bike is totaled; you can't see that she's got a bit of road rash, and the most dangerous-looking ecchymosis around her eye, probably caused by the glasses she'd been wearing. I certainly wouldn't call her lucky after having been in the crash, but it might have been worse.

We proceeded home. We rode at a fairly fast pace for this crew; one appeared to be tiring, so we made sure none rode alone. The ride page shows I had an average of 16mph, and I think others might have been faster. We were strong today.

I'm sorry for Laura's bike (it as one of her excellent ones), but I'm glad she was better enough to lead. I'm glad I could go along.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

rides on a hot july weekend

I like that one of Jack H. 

Two rides this weekend: one an invitational, and the other a club ride. Laura OLPH had decided to stretch an 80-mile ride with Neil C & Mark H (because of their incessant jokes and unflgging good humor, we refer to 'em as Statler & Waldorf, after the wisecracking, grumpy old guys from the Muppet Show) into a 100-mile ride. She asked who of her Hill Slugs might want to accompany them, but I think the only taker was Ricky H.

For centuries (a term for 100-mile rides), I take my cue from something I heard from Tom H a year or three ago -- he said something to the effect of, "I've never been 80 miles into a ride, and said to myself, 'Y'know what I could really go for right now? Another twenty miles' ". I've never said it either, and on the hottest weekend of the summer, some others must have agreed, because when Tom sent out an invitation for 45 miles in the Pennsylvania hills as an alternative, he had four takers among his Insane Bike Posse: Jack H (photo above), Peter G, Mike M (newly back riding with us), and very truly yours, Plain Jim.

We met at Bulls Island. The main parking was closed, and there was some kind of time trial starting, so spaces were at a premium. I sent some time chatting with the staff.

We crossed the pedestrian bridge and climbed Fleecydale and found Mike M at the top.

He rode with us for a few miles, and started complaining of a worsening bump in his wheel.

I should say he did; the rim had worn out and the tire pressure was tearing the aluminum rim. As Tom said in his blog, it might last one mile or 200, but it was no wheel to ride on (and as for the interval before it failed dramatically, I'd vote for a lower number rather than a higher). Mike called for a ride home; the rest of us proceeded.

Of course there was a bridge closed, and of course the condition was good enough that we got across anyway (it's one of the local covered bridges).

We proceeded to the lake at Peace Valley.

From there we went to the Pearl Buck Historic Site, and apparently every map in the universe says that there's a navigable route through... but that was not our experience.

I suspect it's a newly-closed road after a new neighbor decided s/he didn't want so much riff-raff passin' through. The sign on the other end of the road now says it's a dead end.

We stopped at a CVS because the neat coffee place we used to go to has dried up and blown away (but the CVS has toilets, cold bottled water, and a shady side). And we also saw this covered bridge, that wasn't closed:

It was hot.But it was a pretty ride, given the day. I'd had some GPS weirdness, so the ride is divided into two pages: the first part, and the second part.

For today, I'd listed one of may last-Sunday-of-the-month C+ rides. After no takers last week, I was surprised to see eight for today: Winter Larry, Mini B, Allen & Gale C, Alan B, Bob S, Luis C, and a non-member tryin' us out, Justin A. There was a whole range of abilities in the group (Luis was riding as a recovery from the day before, and I suspect Justin could have cleaned all our clocks, while some of the others were happy with the promise of a no-drop ride), and we kept it together.

We started at the Claremont School, my new start location (I can almost roll out of bed and be ready and there in 30 minutes).

Luis, knowing I collect bike socks, was rockin' these (are they the beaver socks?):

...and Larry had the hot peppers:

We rolled out and headed across the canal and up into Hillsborough, where Mini told us the humidity was too much for her and went home. The rest of us went on. We stopped at Veteran's Park in Montgomery. Below, you can see Justin's eyes glazing over as Larry and I try to persuade him, for the umpteenth time, to join the Freewheelers:

We weren't even halfway through the ride yet.

At Devon Road:

We stopped again at Bessie Grover Park.

I had planned to stop at the Thomas Sweet, but on a day like this I thought the gang might do better if they could buy water, so we went to the Wawa (hey, neither of 'em had toilets open). From there, we came back across the canal.

Pace was nice and slow, as verified on the ride page. Given the interest, I'm thinkin' of doing more C+ rides. What do you think?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

parental "it's complicated"

I'm reading Lev Grossman's "Magicians" trilogy, and on page 28 of the first book is this excellent sentence:

He would have to explain to his parents what happened, and they would, in some way he could never grasp, and therefore could never properly rebut, make him feel like it was his fault.

I'm 65 years old. My mother has mild-to-moderate dementia (we're pretty sure that she can't remember TEW's name); my father has been dead for years. Despite that, the sentence above spoke to me enough that I had to log into Blogger from a work computer and create this post.

I'll read the whole rest of the thing, and the next two books, even if it's nothing but industrial-quality suckage, just on the strength of that sentence.

Edit 8/4/20: I finished the trilogy. It was definitely not world-class suckage.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

ride for july 26

It's the last Sunday of the month, so it's time for another of those nobody-dropped C+ rides.

After the last one, The Excellent Wife (TEW) dropped hints that she might come along again. Who knows? Maybe you want to nudge her along into coming, by suggesting you'll come if she does.

Start at 8:30 at the Claremont School, 175 Claremont Road, Franklin. Lots of parking; porta-potty in back (reasonably clean). About 20 minutes later, more or less, we should be passing the Blackwells Mills/Six Mile lot near 625 Canal Road in Franklin, if you want us to pick you up there.

Please register if you plan to come out, and let me know where you intend to start with us. I had no registrants last week, so I cancelled the ride. I'm hoping the no-registrants thing was because of the heat, rather than my upsetting people. (There is no bottom to my insecurity, especially in view of my sometimes-unpopular opinions.) Pre-registrants are pre-printed on the sign-in, so we don't have to do that passing-of-the-pen ballet.

Last time I did one of these, the average was 12.6mph, so let that be a guide.

32-ish miles. Route here. A few annoying hills, but I've avoided the worst of 'em (trust me; I ride these roads often enough to know where they are). We'll do a side trip through the old Epileptics Village. Plan to stop at Bessie Grover Park and at the Thomas Sweet in Montgomery (they have coffee and snacks, but the toilets aren't available yet).

Usual PFW rules apply, as well as special COVID-19 rules. As I suggested last week, everybody's at different points on the defense-against-COVID-19 web. Try to act with a thought to a person who's being one degree more cautious than you are.

Hope to see some of youse, especially if I haven't seen youse in a while. (And maybe contact TEW, will youse?)

Saturday, July 18, 2020

hill slugs use party manners

Laura OLPH posted a ride for today, and it turned out we were to have not just one, but two riders new to the Hill Slugs: Madhu A, above (who's been on a couple of my Sunday rides), and Sarah G, daughter of regular Slug Peter G.

This was an occasion of some discussion among the Hill Slugs. We rarely get new riders; we even more rarely get new women riders. And their ages added together don't add up to the Hill Slug average age.We were all on our best behavior, in hopes that they would enjoy the experience enough to come back. The Hill Slugs and Tom H's Insane Bike Posse have a problem with retention. As for my own rides, there's a reason I call my riders the Usual Suspects.

We gathered at the Marshall Road side of Woodfield Park in Hillsborough.

Above, Tom's got a mask with his own face printed. We're on the fringes of the Uncanny Valley. (If you want to print your own, he sent me these instructions.)

Sarah G's in shadow on he left above.

Laura's route went up to Oldwick to the General Store, leaving out some of the worst hills.

And, of course, there's a local ride rule that, if you're that close to Solberg Airport, you have to stop in.

And on to Oldwick...

...where the store was closed for maintenance. We stopped in their back yard anyway.

Robert had a problem with getting discarded chewing gum into his cleat; he complained that it smelled of Juicy Fruit, and resolved to change his cleats. Perhaps it was time to do so.

We went on to find an open store in Whitehouse... and we found Tom Yantz, from whom I got the idea to paraffin my chains (and put pipe cleaners on my hubs), riding with some Morris Area Freewheelers.

I caught up with him for a while, and then almost didn't catch up with my group when I had to take my cleatcovers off before mounting up.

We got back in good order, though. Ride page.

Now. Sarah G works on the Left Coast, but is here for a few months. We hope she is not so put off by the idea of riding with her father's friends, but might come out with us again if circumstances allow. As for Madhu, she made noises like she would like to come out again.

I hope they do.