For me, it started when I got an email from Laura OLPH saying that an office acquaintance had a place in Raritan she rode to, and which she recommended; it was an Italian bakery. I think I did a quick web search, and sure enough, there's an Italian bakery in Raritan that goes by the name "Italian Bakery". I saw it was across the river, and surrounded by some heavily-traveled roads, and despaired of setting a route.
But Laura sent a sample route. It was too short, and came back over some too-busy roads, but with a little tweaking and adjustment, we got to a 42-mile route to try. Much of it was over roads I know, but the last of it tracked Main Street from Somerville to Bound Brook. I decided to try to use side roads to avoid that. (The Excellent Wife [TEW] and I drove the route a few weeks ago.)
Laura was away in Maine for a while, and I planned this as my first ride to lead after my return. Well, I didn't sleep well, and then was a bit disorganized this morning, and then TEW left early to go do the Farmland Ride with some of her friends... and I was alone in the house, so I went to the start a bit early.
About twenty minutes before the start, I noticed that I hadn't put the route in my GPS. Now, I'm directionally challenged at the best of times, and with a new route, I was hopeless. So I jetted home (on the bike) to get the route, and then jetted back to the start, arriving only a minute or two late. I was a bit breathless when I gave the safety speech, and some of my Regular Suspects had to help me out.
Off we went. A few miles in, a rider had a pinch flat; another rider was going through some self-imposed misery for not having called out the hazard in time; we tried to provide reassurance while the tube was going in. A bit farther along, another rider complained of a noise; a wheel was a smidge out of true and was brushing the (extremely tight) brake; a quick adjustment settled it for a while... but if you're gonna have your brakes with so little clearance, your wheels GOTTA be in almost-perfect true. Just sayin'.
A short section of the route called for a ride on 206, but friend Bob N remembered that the cutoff also goes to Hillsborough Road. I promised abuse and degradation if he was wrong... but I shouldn't have; I've followed Bob's suggestions on at least half-a-dozen occasions, and he's always been correct. As he was today.
We came up through Duke Farms on Roycefield Road and crossed on the River Road bridge. Roycefield is milled, and the River Road Bridge is busy. At the stop, riders pointed out that an alternative to Roycefield might be in order (I think that can be done), and there's an approach to the Nevius bridge that's pedestrian- and bike-friendly.
We really liked the stop.
The sense of the meeting was that we can do this again.
After the stop, we went back along the side roads I'd planned to avoid Main Street... but it was the further sense of the meeting that Main Street wasn't bad enough to avoid (although you wouldn't want to do a whole ride like that).
We crossed the river and canal at Bound Brook, and came down Elizabeth Street at a pace that wore me out. I'm obviously too old for this; by the time we were rolling back on Canal Road in Franklin, I was slowing. Everybody got back, and I'll probably adjust this route and do it again.