Tuesday, May 15, 2018

tube-changing school

I wish they were lookin' at me with such rapt attention, but they were listening to Princeton Freewheeler Club President talk about the Trenton Bike Exchange. From left: Dmitri, Joe, Rick, and Melissa. Those red bars in the lower right are the current robes that my bike, the Yellow Maserati, is wearing

I'm running a pair of bike-maintenance classes at the Trenton Bike Exchange for the club. The first session was on changing your tube, and I found this was a more complicated task than I'd thought when I first tried to teach The Excellent Wife (TEW) how to do it. Those of us who've been riding for a while probalby minimize the difficulty, but it turns out that there are a number of steps just to getting a wheel off (and more for the rear than the front); even how to put the bike down engenders some discussion. Doing it at the exchange means that we can use stands and each person can have a bike to work on, which is much better than the "sit around and discuss" model that's prevalent in these classes (it's better, of course, if you bring your own bike, as Rick did, but I know that's not always possible). By the end, they'd all used tire levers and pumps, we'd killed a couple of CO2 cartridges just for the experience, and we did some quick talk about chains and cassettes.

There will be another on May 21; this time about brakes and shifters. Class is already subscribed, but half of the subscribers didn't appear. Next time, I'm gonna push for part-payment up front.

Ira and I talked about doing something like this at one of the all-paces rides. I thought that, if the weather were nice, we could do it instead of the ride (or maybe under the shelter at one of the picnics); Ira thought a short one after might work better (but we went almost 2 hours last night). What do you think?

Sunday, May 13, 2018


Look, if I admit that there are cases to be made for limited government, manufacturing here in the United States, and limitations on immigration... can we please get a President who'll act like a grown-up?

Sunday, May 6, 2018

worm jerky

Yeah, it's been a while since I posted anything. I did go on the Spring Fling last week and led a C ride; the plan was for The Excellent Wife (TEW) to come and I would lead a ride at her pace so we could make a date out of it, but she cane down sick the night before and couldn't. I did the ride anyway with four or five participants (depending on if you count Jeff & Patricia on the tandem as one or two), but the camera was dodgy, so I didn't get pictures, either. I had fun, and rode with some people I don't normally, but I couldn't see how I was going to get a blog post out of it.

Except I just did, didn't I? Ride page here.

So that was the Saturday. On the Sunday, I ran the mechanic station for the Franklin Food Bank Tour de Franklin, with an assortment of routes from one mile to a metric century. I didn't get many pics there, either. I worked on a number of bikes, mostly filling tires (how do these people ride on these low pressures?) and lubing chains, although there was a certain amount of brake and derailleur adjustment, some saddle-height consultation, and at the end, I did a major tune up on a guy's bike. He and his co-rider had the idea that you shift to the big ring to go up hills. I pointed them towards hill-climbing orthodoxy. We also had a discussion of disk brakes, the essence of which was: if you have a bike you like with rim brakes, and you don't ride in wet or muddy conditions frequently... just get on that thing and ride it.

Retrogrouchy, right? Well, as I write this, I just turned 63 a few hours ago. I'm invoking my grumpy senior citizen privilege.

So yesterday, Tom H put in a ride out of the Park-&-Ride in Yardville for 50 miles with about 2500' of climb. I'm a member of Tom's Insane Bike Posse, and that sounded like a good idea; what sounded like too much was Laura OLPH's invitation to add 20 miles by riding to and from her house to the start, through Trenton and across the Calhoun St Bridge. Instead, Ricky and I drag-raced on I295 to the start, he in his Cooper and me in the Prius. Laura, Jack H, and Robert N rolled in, Peter G drove up, and Ken G rode in on his own route.

Because it was an early-season ride Tom did his ritual of the Holy Kickstand, sprinkled with the Holy Water of Brita; as a regular kickstand keeps the bike upright, so the Holy Kickstand is supposed to keep the bike and rider upright. It's a fun ritual, but it's also a reminder not to ride like a jerk.

We mostly didn't ride like jerks. There were some moderately-demanding climbs, and some traffic, but it was mostly a fine hilly ride on a gorgeous day.

We came down the hill for the break at Carversville, and saw that Fleecydale, which I remember having been under construction apparently since the Carter administration, is open again. The Carversville store is neat.

Everybody else apparently thinks so, too; there were a LOT of riders there.

Finally the bike rack cleared out and we could park!

I got to talking about how I haven't given the bike a good cleaning since fall, and discussion led to the kinds of grime that builds up in various places. When you ride in wet weather, there are often a few worm bodies that get caught by the rear brake caliper. They tend to dry off and stick. "Worm jerky," Laura called it.

I thought I saw Bob N turn green as he quickly removed the detritus from his own rear brake.

Then back. Tom had scored most of the hills in the first, say, 60% of the ride, but there was his covered bridge (are you ALLOWED to ride in this area without crossing a covered bridge?).

Now, covered bridges are frequently over streams; streams are at the bottom of hills; so on the other side of the covered bridge, there was, of course, a hill. Hrmph.

Which brings me to my final whine (well, for this post anyway). If you look at Tom's page, linked above, you'll see he got 2488' of climb. My page, however, shows 2976'. How does he get me to climb 500 more feet than he does when we do the same ride?

Sunday, April 22, 2018

weekend rides

Long, hilly, early-in-the-season

I probably should have known better than to add the extra miles onto Laura OLPH's ride yesterday. I probably should have realized that 54 hilly miles, this early in the season, given the way I've been riding (and the illness over the winter, and the back pain) should have been enough; I didn't need 20 more.

I'm an idiot.

Ricky G came out to Laura's for the extra miles, as well, and we rode the ten-or-so miles to the start at the Hopewell school.

So we were eight: Jack A, Tom H, Peter G, Robert N, and Andrew A made up the rest of the group.

Laura gave the usual speech, and warned us of two hills: one on the way into Frenchtown, and one on the way out. the one on the way in was where 579 becomes Croton Rd, just above Sergeantsville Rd.

It's not long, but I had a hard time keeping my front wheel down, and the hill was, shall we say, challenging, in the way that a ninth-grader can be challenging. We can not do that again soon.

On we went to the Bridge Cafe in Frenchtown, were we saw this unprecedented display of canine cooperation:

It was a pleasant interlude in these contentious times.

It was a great day, and lots of folks were out.

On teh way back, we went over Horseshoe Bend Road. We can not do that one again soon, too. Check the ride page.

I did fine on the way back until we dropped the rest of the folks off at the Hopewell school. But about two miles after that, I hit a wall; the last eight miles or so pretty much consisted of my falling behind Laura and Ricky, their politely waiting for me to catch up, my pedaling past so as not to lose momentum, their passing me as I started to flag again; repeat ad libitum.

Hot date with my wife

So today, when I heard that The Excellent Wife (TEW) was planning on a ride this morning, I figured I could keep up with her, and this would be my recovery ride. I usually ride faster and longer than she, so I thought trailing along on her 35-mile route would make a good recovery ride. SHE thought I'd be raring to go, champing at the bit, and bored wth her slow pace. I assure you, that wasn't the case either.

We got to the start at Blackwells Mills to see that the mountain bike contingent was out in force.

TEW's route includes some hills and some flats; she does a loop to get some distance; she heads down to Kingston for some refreshment, then usually up to Millstone and back. We went down Butler Road a couple times, and she was sure I was holding back so that I wouldn't be too far ahead of her. Honesty and humility demand that I indicate here that that was not the case.

WE headed down to Kingston the the PJ's that took over the site of the old Main St Cafe (de mortuis...), and saw, as we had seen on the road, that lots of people were out today.

Despite refreshment at PJ's, we decided we'd had enough, and did NOT return to Amwell Road to add miles on the last bit, but stopped at the car, as you can see on the ride page. We DID return to PJ's for more sustenance later in the day. It's not the old Main Street Cafe, but it was good enough.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

gotta get to nixon's

Look: we've had winter around here for about fourteen months. We get one day when the temps are gonna be in the 80's. You KNOW a bunch of us will be goin' on a ride, and it will probably be a long one.

The new Freewheeler online calendar has one downside: with the ability to post rides right up to the time you want to leave, it's hard to make plans on Tuesday for Saturday's ride, because the ride you want to go on might not be posted yet. I didn't see Tom H's Pinelands ride for today until Thursday night. And I grumbled a bit about having to drive all the way to Bordentown, but Tom knows I'm never happy unless I'm complaining.

Laura OLPH was off blowing glass (while I miss her company, she needs to do more glass blowing; it's WAY cool), and only six of us showed for Tom's ride (where were all of youse?): Joe M, Chris C, Ricky G, and Jack H came out.

That's Joe's bike. How did I not get a picture of Joe?

Tom promised 60 miles, and said we'd be headed to Nixon's in Tabernacle, because if you're goin' that way, you're either stopping at Nixon's or you're stopping at one of the Wawa's on 206; there aren't a lot of other options. If you check out the ride page, you'll see we did pretty much that: straight to Nixon's, and straight back.

Well, not quite. Because, you see, when we got to Smithville...

Of COURSE the bridge was out...

...but we're going to try it anyway...

...and when it's impassable, we gotta come back...

...and go across the pedestrian bridge in the adjacent Smithville Park...

...where the road was ALSO closed, but the gap in the fence was wide enough to get through.

And so down to Nixon's, where lot's of people apparently had the same idea.

There's Joe!

I had to get that picture of the tree above. Evidently, it's been spring someplace, even if it hasn't been around me.

And back we came, until we turned onto...

I think this was Philo's Bridge Road, where the pavement looked like this for a few yards:

...until the pavement disappeared completely and we were riding on dirt.

Tom calls us his "Insane Bike Posse", because he says we KNOW this kind of stuff is likely to happen, and we come out anyway.

After recovering from that, I needed a drink. So I took out my Polar bottle with the new sport cap, and pulled the nozzle with my teeth, whereupon it separated from the bottle and leapt from my teeth. I went to try to find it, but I was unsuccessful. I went to ring my bike bell, and the clapper jumped off, evidently to elope with the now-missing nozzle. It was quite an eventful two-hundred feet or so of biking.

One of these things is not like the other.

When I did my ride in January, I wasn't sure I was ever going to be able to do a ride like today's again. Even last week's ride, while good, was quiet; there was little conversation (at least as I remember). Today's ride, though, had the camaraderie that is a big reason I stay with the club. It was a great ride on a great day. I hope you had a good day, too.