Sunday, December 30, 2012

arresting bike pics

I admit it; I spend way too much time looking at stupid stuff on the web. I have no excuse for it, and I know I'd probably be more productive without it, but I haven't been able to give it up. I have little patience with rage comics, and I have little patience for lolcats... but beyond that, I'm a sucker for dumb jokes and cheesecake pictures.

One of the sites I check, pretty much daily, is Oddman.Ca. There were FOUR bike-related pics IN A ROW in today's post; the one above is one of them. Laura OLPH and Chris C, among others, have been talking to me about mountain biking in the snow, and I'm afraid the picture above is what I think of when they bring it up.

The other picture I'm posting is below. I find it arresting, I just keep going back to it.

When I rode the Anchor House ride in 2011, there was one rider with one arm, and another with one leg. I've never seen a rider missing both an arm and a leg, and to ride a bike, missing both on the same side, with all the balance problems that would ensue, is mind-boggling to me.

Is that guy somebody I should know?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2013 donation plan

Not riding today; it's about 2° colder than I like to go out in. So while I'm stuck at home, I'm working on some end-of-the-year projects. I've done the spreadsheet for my retirement plan, and another to add up my bike miles for the year (Winter Larry did one last year, and it was so useful, I decided not to wait to see if he'll do one - if he doesn't share his with the club, I'll post a link to one you can download. I intend to use two copies: one for miles ridden, and one for hours ridden, because time on the bike may actually be a better index of how much fun I'm having than miles).

I'm looking at my annual donation plan. I'm changing one of the recipients. Two of the other recipients have made it easier to donate, one with a Paypal link, and the other with a downloadable .pdf with an address to send the cash (that's good enough - I'd rather do it online, but I'm willing to send a check; it will be one of the half-dozen paper checks I write this year).

Here's the list:
We also give monthly to the Princeton Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), where The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I are members (they don't throw me out when I say I'm an atheist).

The careful eye will note that there are no entries for October or November. We're keeping those open for apparently-deserving causes that come up during the year (in the past, these have gone to charity walks, and suchlike). Donations to charity bike rides I do are separate; I consider that a cost of riding (although I will gladly deduct whatever is allowed).

As I said in last year's donations post, "Some of our donations are tax-deductible, and some are not, as we believe that making donations to political causes to bring about the kind of country and world we believe in should be part of our plan." Support means more than just talk, or blog posts with links. Put your money where your mouth is - or where your keyboard is.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

what i did at christmas

The Excellent Wife (TEW)'s parents are Polish immigrants, and brought some of their cultural heritage with them when they arrived in the US, including a frightening work ethic, an even more frightening hospitality ethic (I refer to it as "Feed you until you can't move"), and celebrating Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day (I've learned to call it Wigilia, and can almost pronounce it to TEW's satisfaction). For years, with the spirit of inclusiveness that has endeared them to me, my in-laws would do a big feed for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but now that the parents-in-law are both octogenarians (and the father-in-law is close to ninety), we've cut out the Christmas Day observance; more on that later.

The Wigilia feast is traditionally both huge and meatless. In the past, the family has been served some traditional fish dishes... but traditional does not always mean wonderful, and some of the traditional dishes were developing another tradition: that of being ignored, even as leftovers.

Last night, we went to visit the parents-in-law. Now, when the house was built, they had a kitchen on the second floor (with the living room, dining room, and several bedrooms), and years ago, they finished the basement and made a (now empty) apartment there. Then a few years ago, when they re-did the first floor, they added a kitchen to the family room. So there's a kitchen on each floor.

This came in handy, because my excellent mother-in-law (if you know TEW, would you expect anything else?) decided this year that she would forgo the traditional dishes and would fresh-fry the fish while we were eating the soup. And to avoid the smell of fish frying overpowering the second-floor dining room, she fried the fish in the ground floor kitchen, and she engaged the services of my 18-year-old niece as delivery person. Along with the fresh fish were fish dishes from my brother-in-law, who's in the business, and other kinds of dishes from all the other families that came. TEW brought a pumpkin pie, Gulab Jamun from the local Indian grocery, and I don't remember what-all else.

After dinner, we had the singing of Polish Christmas carols. I can read music a bit, and read Polish phonetically, so I sing along (and get huge cred from the excellent mother-in-law for the effort -- her English is only a few steps better than my Polish). Then, of course, the opening of the presents.

By this time, it was heading for 11:00 pm, and those of you who know me know that I've usually been asleep for a couple of hours by that time, so TEW and I said our "Wesołych świąt" and went home to bed.

Today, though, was a day for us. We hid out at home, pulled the shades, took the phone off the hook, and resolved not to answer the door. We opened the presents, went out to dinner together (using up a coupon shortly before it expired -- TEW is, as oft I have told her, a wizard of domestic finance), and came home to a brief rest before making the few phone calls that the obligations of the day would not allow us to avoid. We're now holed up for the rest of the night. We intend to rejoin the rest of the mad world tomorrow, but for tonight, well, here we are.

We hope you had a Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, and if you celebrate no holiday, we hope you had a happy day. By all appearances, the sun is coming back, and we may have spring in a few months -- so whatever rituals we've been engaging in seem to have been effective.

another electronic shifter

People who pay attention to such things know that electronic shifting systems are no available from both Shimano and Campagnolo. Now there's a new kid on the block.

In this week's Gizmag post (forwarded by friend Dave C), there's info about an Italian manufacturer, Tiso, that's releasing an electronic shifting group. From the article:
Apparently just called the Wireless 12-Speed Groupset, the system consists of brake levers with integrated rocker-style shifter switches, micromotor-equipped front and rear derailleurs, a cassette with 12 titanium sprockets ranging from 11 to 29 teeth, and a downtube-mounted AAA-battery-powered receiver/control unit.

Shift signals are transmitted from the shifters to the control unit via Bluetooth and/or another unspecified type of radio protocol – Shimano and Campagnolo’s systems, by contrast, use electrical wiring. Commands are then carried from that unit to the derailleurs by wires. Interestingly, users can forgo the brake lever shifters and instead change gears using a wireless key fob-like remote. This is perhaps intended as a way of letting riders change gears when riding with their hands on top of the bars or in the drops.

I like the idea of the remote key-fob thingie for the aero bars, and I like it that there's another source besides the Big Three (the other one is SRAM, although Nashbar also sells brake-shifter controls under their own brand). But I'm a bit disappointed with the rush to electronic shifting (probably the way some bicycle enthusiasts are disappointed with the integrated brake-shifter, or "brifter", control; some riders pine for the old friction shifters and separate brakes; see Grant Petersen at Rivendell Bikes for an example). One of the many things I get up on my soapbox about is bike technology (sit back; here it comes). From a materials standpoint, modern bikes have all the latest stuff: new plastics, carbon fiber, specially-alloyed metals. But from a mechanicals standpoint, a bike with cabled controls has old technology: gears, wires, levers. Leonardo da Vinci might have figured it out (he didn't, but he might have). I love this juxtaposition. I also love it that I can take the bike down to parts and put it back together (and I do, every year), and that I can fix almost everything that goes wrong on mine (and I do that, too).

On the other hand, Tiso is announcing that the price will be lower than current offerings from The Other Guys. And that's probably a good thing. (There's also the fact that there are few people who care about the mechanicals of the bike as much as I do -- most riders just want a bike that does what they want, whether that is to ride fast, carry stuff, or survive being ignored and abandoned until the next time they take it into their heads to ride it.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

wooden bike

A Basque company has come up with a wooden bike frame that they say is "as light and strong as one made from steel or aluminum".

And they are undoubtedly beautiful. But they are also €6000, or about $7900 as I write this.
 “Working from their joinery called Txirbil (meaning ‘wood shaving’ in Euskera, the ancient language of the Basque lands), the design team came to the conclusion that the tubular fibers of wood were perfect for creating a fast, sturdy bicycle frame. As well as having an interesting natural aesthetic, wood is resistant, can absorb a high level of vibration and can result much lighter than generally perceived.”

Well, with enough plastic and technology, and cash, you can probably make a bike out of cast-off Florida vote chad, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. Ash is probably a good choice among woods; it's strong (baseball bats are made from ash), but any wood flexes more than most people want from a bike frame. Just because it can be done doesn't mean it shouid.

pre-christmas ride

Any time you get a ride in this close to the end of December, it's a good ride, but this WAS a good ride. But I wouldn't have bet on it.

The signs that it might have been a disaster started with the ride announcement on Laura OLPH's page, which moved the ride from the announced day, Saturday, to Sunday:
Now, you might be thinking, "Curious.  Saturday's winds are looking awfully strong, and Laura's pushing the ride to Sunday.  Is she getting soft?"

Um, well, yeah, 'cause I've been eating junk, but the real reason is that, since the mid 90's, Jack and I get together with a few of my grad school buddies some time around Christmas.  They're free on Saturday, so that's that.
Then there was the email I got from Ed C, asking if I wanted to add "extra-extra" miles to Laura's already-provided-for extra miles, by driving to the ride start, then riding to Laura's house, then riding with Laura back to the ride start, then doing the ride with Laura & Co., then maybe reversing the process of the extra miles at the end. Laura heard about that, and didn't want to be left out of the "extra-extra" miles, so she promised to add some stuff at the end if we wanted. I decided I mostly wanted to stay put of what might have become an argument, since I'm so bad at getting and keeping friends.

"Extra-extra" miles. Hrmph. It may be that everybody I ride with is crazy.

In any case, Ed C and I got to Laura's early... as did Chris C, recovering from a motorcycle accident (and that's why I haven't seen him in what seems like six months). We rode to the start, and picked up Ron S, Cheryl M, and Mike M, and, after a brief discussion of the options, did this route, partly because the hills wouldn't be too bad. It was a new way up to Ringoes for me. I like the Ringoes rest stop (good coffee and indoor seating), although I should have eaten more than I did while there, I was a bit wobbly on the way back.

The way back also included three crossings of Route 31. I hate Route 31; I've come closer to dying crossing that road than any other, and I find the crossings without traffic lights on that road to be the scariest - some have poor visibility due to hills or curves, and the traffic is faster than I would expect. I've taken to singing the Bach-Gounod "Ave Maria" in an effort to make sure we get across safely, or, if I feel I've worn that out, the Pater Noster chant. You can say what you want; we haven't lost anybody yet.

At the end, Laura passed out some Christmas mint candies to us, and I took two; I needed the sugar! Then we took the "extra-extra" mile ride, by the Mercer "Pole Farm" Park, then back to the cars at Laura's.

No rides for me this week; The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I have plans to hole up and avoid civilization on Christmas Day, and, although I'm off on Wednesday, Old Guys leader Dennis W has called off the ride due to threatening weather. We'll see what the weekend before New Year's brings.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

lazy, not crazy

No group ride today; winds are supposed to be up to 40mph. Do you remember that idiotic windy-day ride I did with Al L? I do!

Instead, some maintenance: new chain, new big chainring, true the wheels - maybe de-grease the cog, if I can stand the temperature in the garage!

rip alex moulton

Today, I learned of the death of Dr. Alex Moulton.

That's a photo from 1963.Dr. Moulton was instrumental in inventing suspension systems used in British car manufacture, but that's not what he's best known for.

There are corners of the bicycle world where partisans natter on endlessly about various mechanical and technical preferences and oddities. Some of the most dogged are the adherents of the Brooks Saddle sect. Dr. Moulton invented the Moulton Bicycle, and you may think from the picture above that his partisans should be classified among these fanatics, too... but I disagree.

Moulton bicycles (and there are many, see this page for models) since their beginning have been designed for many uses: for speed, for simple transportation, for carrying things... and for convenience. Most Moulton bikes fold. Many fold or disassemble to a size small enough to fit in a small suitcase. The small wheels were included partly for that, and partly for increased strength. The available gearing is adjusted from standard-sized bicycles to compensate for the wheel size, so that the Moultons have similar mechanical advantage to bikes with larger wheels. Many Moulton bicycles also have suspensions of one type or another - and suspensions have become common on town and (especially) mountain bikes.

In the 19th century, to be working on bicycles was to be on the cutting edge of technological advance, perhaps as software or device engineers are today. Dr. Moulton continued that heritage, in his own way, for a small, but dedicated group of enthusiasts. I wonder if, thirty years from now, there will be another engineer who will have a similar following among the bike tribes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

back to the slugs ride

I haven't done a ride with Laura OLPH and the Hill Slugs in over a month, so I was glad that Laura had one planned for today, and that the weather was looking good (if cold), and that I didn't have a conflict. Another good omen was that, when I went to my other bagel place this morning, I found the glove I lost earlier this week.

Laura gave instructions for a 9:00 am start from Pennington, or 8:30 from her house, and since I'm chronically early (and you can read that in the same sense as "chronically ill"; it's not always desirable!), I decided to do the extra miles. Ed C also appeared there early. He and Laura's husband, Professor Jack (he's recently Dean Jack, but the spondee just doesn't have the same music to me as the dancing iambs of "Professor Jack") were discussing the university politics at Rutgers, which apparently has loony characters befitting our own House of Representatives, with even more byzantine machinations. Eventually, off went Laura, Ed, and I to Pennington...

... where we picked up four more: Jen (an occasional Slug), Cheryl M, Ron S, and Bob, a newbie with whom I'd ridden for a while a few weeks ago. He appeared a bit nervous about doing the ride, perhaps because of the hills and fearing we'd show him up and leave him panting by the side of the road (not the kind of thing the Slugs do), or perhaps because of not knowing any of us. He did fine, however, and chatted with many of us during the ride; I hope to see him on more Slug rides.

We did this route.  Ignore the average speed, the Garmin shut off for a few minutes, and, after I got it back on, it was a bit wonky, although it saved almost all of the turns, and most of the distance. We went on to Lambertville on a route I don't remember doing before; longer on the way out, I think, but including a pretty stretch of Alexauken Creek Road (do I have that name right?). We stopped at Rojo's for coffee, which Cheryl thinks is upscale, but I'm just glad it's a place where I can order a large coffee without having to learn Italian, like I do at one coffee chain that will remain nameless.

After the stop, we went up to see the dinosaur head on (I think) Mt. Airy-Harbourton Rd (the new Bob saw the Snoopy head, but not the dinosaur), and then back a slightly longer route across 31. Route 31 is one of my bêtes noir; while it's not true that I nearly get run over every time I cross it, it is true that my closest calls have been crossing that road at intersections without signals, so I'm grateful we went across where we did.

Then back to Pennington, and, thereafter, back to Laura's. I forgot to call my wife from the car, as is my usual practice, and on the way back, I got a call from The Excellent Wife (TEW) asking (with a tremor in her voice) if I was OK. I was; I had just stepped out of the Stop & Shop where I had picked up a half-pound of roast beef for lunch (better than the potato chips and pretzels which were my previous post-ride repast), and was unpacking the car and kissing her hello a short while later.

Probably no ride tomorrow: weather threatens, and TEW is suggesting that perhaps we ought to act like married people and do something together; a suggestion with which I am hard-pressed to find fault.

Friday, December 14, 2012

music from trash

No, not trashy music:

I thought this was immense. I was especially take that one of the woodwinds, with all that complicated valve-buttonry, appeared to be recycled, as well.

I found it in the original article on Time.Com.

has a unique poignancy today

Found this on today's Oddman:

For reasons I'm not going into here, it's unusually appropriate today.

edit 12/17/12: After discussion with a skeptic and subsequent research, I can find no evidence that Voltaire ever actually said or wrote this. However, it does express my grumpiness about some recent events. It's also been driven home to me that getting into some people's good opinion is so expensive, in energy, time, and falsity to one's nature, that their good opinion is not worth having.

Also: the shirt-button on the cuff of the oppressing hand should be on the pinkie-ring side, not the thumb side. But I quibble.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

inauspicious beginning ride

It's been almost two weeks since I've done a group ride, and longer since I've done a listed Freewheeler ride, so I was looking forward to the ride today... and I also was out of practice for the preparation (and I've been out-of-sorts for professional and personal reasons, none of which will be discussed here). I emailed Erich W about the Wednesday ride-to-the-ride, and he emailed back that he intended to go, so I got to the Etra Lake Park start point early (as I always do). As I was suiting up, I found that I had lost (HAH! "Found I had lost!" I crack myself up) one of my winter gloves... but I had glove liners with which I could make do.

But about three minutes before we would have left, a car comes up and honks - it's Erich. He had not left enough time to replace the tire which he found was flat when he went to his bike this morning, so he was not going on the group ride. So, alone (and quickly, in comparison to when I ride with the group), I rode down from Etra Lake Park to Byron Johnson Park in Allentown -

- where I met up with eleven of the old guys (including Al L, who's usually a regular on the ride-to-the-ride), and we did this route. It started cold, but warmed up as the sun came up. I chatted with Larry C, with whom I don't, normally, and he was telling me about PAFA and the benefits of his using a studio for his art. We went in directions I don't usually (which means I was even more lost), but wound up at Ft Dix, which is one of leader Dennis W's favorite ride-by's (I guess it's not really a destination, as we don't stop there). We stopped at a McDonald's on the way back, which would not have been my choice - but fellow rider Al P pointed out the three great deals at Mickey D's: coffee, oatmeal (get the stuff without the sugar), and some sundae concoction, but with yogurt and fruit, instead of just junk.

On the way back, I chatted with Al P about my idea for doing some "D" rides next summer. He though it was a good idea, and said he thought some people might want to come just because there would be no competitiveness on the rides (my plan is to advertise "no attitudes, no lectures, lots of stops, nobody dropped"). So now I'm looking for routes: flat, in the 14-to-17-mile range. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Then back to Allentown, and on my own back to Etra. I was tired and hungry, so I didn't break any speed records on the way back. I stopped in at a supermarket to get some sliced roast beef for lunch, which worked better than the junk food I've usually been grabbing on the way home!

Gotta get another pair of gloves, though.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

tougher than i am

Friend Dave C sent me a link to an article about a guy who's biking from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, a distance of 750 miles.

Some people, riders and non-riders alike, think I'm obsessed because I'll go out on a ride as long as the temperature is above freezing. That's nothing; here's some of what this guy will have to contend with:
“The weather is always bad in Antarctica. Okay, maybe not always … but there is always the chance of it changing and getting worse,” he said... "Antarctica is the coldest and windiest place on the planet so to hope for anything other than that is pointless. That said, it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere so the cold isn’t as extreme as the Arctic. The coldest temperatures will be roughly -35 (up to -50 with the windchill). Honestly, it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s a dry cold (seriously)!”

He's got to be concerned about mechanicals, too:
The expedition, dubbed Cycle South, will also be the first to employ a standard fat bike — a Surly Moonlander with a steel frame, 4.7” tires, and 100mm rims. The Moonlander is the “fattest” commercially produced fat bike on the market, offering the maximum amount of float over the dry, wind-compacted snow that Larsen will encounter on his journey... Summer temperatures can drop as low as minus 50 Celsius, which is likely to affect the various moving parts of a bicycle that haven’t been widely tested in those extremes. Sludge-like lubricant, seized headsets, slipping hubs, and split tubes and tires come to mind.

Check out the original article.

(Sorry for the lack of posts; a sudden uptick of work responsibilities had me exhausted this week, and the funeral of a friend precluded today's group ride. I hope to get back on track soon... although the holiday calendar is starting to look demanding!)

Monday, December 3, 2012

both-wheel drive

Dave C sent me this from this week's Gizmag. A careful look at the bike above shows an additional chain just where it's going to reduce your left knee to hamburger. That connects to another 'nother chain, that connects to another 'nother chain, that has some kind of universal joint, that drives the front wheel.

I don't do enough mountain biking to know if this is necessary, or even desirable. But all that extra chain whippin' around the inside of my thigh makes me nervous. (And there's not a good close-up of the universal joint, so I can get a bleppo of how it works.

I don't know whether to file this under "dumb" or not.

tubeless, tireless tires

I don't think this is the first time I've seen this article, but I came across it again this morning. The prototype is called "ERW", for "Energy Return Wheel". From the Gizmag article:
According to Britek founder Brian Russell, the stretching of the internal rubber layer allows elastic potential energy to be stored within the wheel. As that layer is compressed by bumps transmitted from the road, the stored energy is supposedly returned (hence the name) and converted into forward momentum.
There's a prototype for cars as well. I'm not sure I like the open sides for mountain biking, but one of the things I do like:
Although there is no air pressure that riders can adjust, they can instead adjust the rubber-tensioning rods to make the wheels run harder or softer.
I could get away with a much lighter seatbag... no tubes (I carry two), no patch kit, no CO2, no pump...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

cheryl leads the boys from the hood pickup ride

Dave C, Joe M, Shawn R, and Rich B all live within spittin' distance of one another (they might all be in the same development, I don't know). Dave's invited me to join them on a couple of rides recently, and this week, I planned to go with 'em out of their neighborhood - but then I got a text from Dave that Cheryl was leading a "pickup" ride (one without formal notice) from her place; would I like to go?  I would, and did; I've done a ride with Cheryl from her place recently, so I was reasonably sure that she wouldn't object to my tagging along. Indeed she did not; she said she just hadn't thought to add me to her email "A-list" of riders she invites, and said she would remedy what she saw as an oversight. I'm flattered.

Eight of us all told: in addition to the four "Boys", Cheryl, and me, Ron S and Mike M came along. We met at 10 at her house, in hopes that the temperature would come out of the basement (and it did; it was a balmy 43° when we departed, and soared up to 48° by the time we got back). Raw, grey skies, and the thinnest wetness on the roads, but no rain or drizzle. Here's the route. It felt like we were going to Sergeantsville, but we came down to Lambertville from the northeast, then up Quarry Road to 601 back to Pennington and then to Cheryl's. Enough hills to make it a workout, but a leisurely pace.

I got to talking to Shawn, who's about to be a father; his first is due in April (and everybody's healthy so far, I hear). His wife works for Planned Parenthood, and he for Public Radio WHYY, so their house is, if anything, even more lefty-political than mine. He was complaining about how the proprietor of his bike shop treats him like the naughty teenager all the time. We agreed it's probably time to look for a new shop -- after all, it's not like he's getting great prices there, to take that kind of treatment!

Spoke to Rich, too, who rides a bike to work (evidently), but who is mostly notable to me for his choice of clothing - he wore a single jacket over a short-sleeve jersey (as opposed, for example, to my three-layers-of-thermals-with-a-jersey-on-top, and I also had a jacket over that for part of the way). I remembered when he rode the Tour de Franklin in April, he did it in shorts when most of the rest of us had tights and more than one layer.

With this ride, I've met a minor goal; I've ridden in every month in 2012. Dave C has me beat; he's ridden every WEEK! Not long distances always, but the consistency is admirable.

No group ride planned for tomorrow; the group I used to sing with has a concert this weekend, and The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I are going to usher tomorrow; I'd never get back from a group ride in time to get cleaned up, changed, and out. But there might be an early-morning quick one... because the Freewheelers Holiday Party is tonight, and I might need to burn off a few extra calories. Hrmph.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

coconut device to make your bike sound like a horse

Laura OLPH sent me the link to this:

As if that weren't wickedly dumb enough, there's this hugely-overproduced video, complete with Monty Python reference:

I'll admit I like it; it's silly, it's dumb, but it looks like fun. And it's a total poke-in-the-eye to riders who take themselves seriously - I doubt you'll see a lot of Strava members with these on their bikes.

(Sorry about the unimaginative post title... but what would you have titled it?)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

windy, recovery, exploratory, new-goal ride.

I was going to ride today if I was bleeding from the ears: I had 44 miles to get in to make 4500 for the year. And, while I wasn't bleeding, I was in no great shape; after yesterday's ride in the wind, I was tired on the bike today, and I'm more tired now!

I started at Cliff H's office, and took a different road to Cranbury to start (George Davison to Cranbury Neck instead of Plainsboro Road) in hopes of warming up some and avoiding some wind (and to see how much longer than the about-four-miles that Plainsboro Road would be; the new route was about 4.75), and got to Cranbury early. I rode around Cranbury to stay warm, and was at 10 miles by the time of the regular ride start.

Six of us went on this route: Larry, Ed C, Ron S, Mark H, The Other Mark, and me. Leader Winter Larry had taken it into his head to do a ride on Ely Harmony and then into Diamond, and it was worth it; Ely Harmony was a fun road with "rollers", rolling hills (where going down one hill gets part of the impetus you need to get up the next), and Diamond had some small hills and a good surface. I was tired (did I mention that?) and was just keeping up; even riders who have problems with hills were waiting for me today (and I usually kite up those hills!). On the way back after the break in Clarksburg, Larry picked a slightly longer route to avoid wind, and I'm grateful.

But there I was in Cranbury, and the car was in Plainsboro, four miles away over the short route, into the increased wind. I hoped that Cranbury Neck would be less windy than Plainsboro Road... but I think it was worse.

On George Davison Road is an entrance to the Lenape Park walk/bike trail that runs behind Cliff H's office. When I turned onto that, I got out of the wind, and I decided to take it to the far end to see where it starts. I found the park at the other end. Laura and I had sought it several weeks ago, and I know why we missed it: while the path is blacktopped over most of its route, the last three-tenths at the far end are not (although it was hard enough to ride on today). And on the way back to the car, what little wind there was, was at my back.

So just under 56 miles today. Which makes 4512 for the year.

Oh, and guys? The ICE that the illegal aliens worry about is Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I didn't know it either (and if you weren't there, don't bother asking; it's not worth explaining.)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

thanksgiving & other rides

We were off for Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Friday, and even with going to visit the Excellent In-Laws (well, she is The Excellent Wife [TEW]; would you expect anything else?), I managed to get rides in both days. On Thanksgiving, it was early and cold, I did the 20-miles-up Coppermine-down-Old-Georgetown-and-back loop, averaging 18.1 in some pretty cold weather; the next day, on a much warmer afternoon ride over the same route, I averaged almost 18.75.

Yesterday brought a flurry of emails from some of my quondam ride partners, none of whom were impressed with the offerings in the Princeton Freewheelers ride list for today, but I couldn't match schedules to meet with any of 'em. So I went to the Cranbury ride start (after adding my usual 7-8 miles from Cliff's office & after a couple of bagels at Bagel Street), hoping to tag along with the B ride... but Ira, the usual leader, is on the injured list, and nobody showed up in his place. Instead, eight of us went along with Peter F who agreed to lead a 40-or-so mile ride, with no stops ("Too cold!") and to keep the pace down so everyone could keep up. (This is the infamous Ed Post B+ ride, on which I've had the experience of being dropped, an experience common to many of my fellow club members.) Al L, Bob W and his wife Phyllis, Dave H, Jud H, and a younger gentleman whose name I forgot to get went along.

We started out together, but by about 10-15 miles in, we had split into two groups: Bob, Phyllis, Al, and me in the back, and the others about 1/4 mile ahead.  Phyllis and I had quite a conversation where she told me she followed this blog (you have no IDEA how flattered I was!), and we discussed family histories, addiction recovery, and other topics, generally solving all the world's problems... but at one of the turns before the halfway point, Bob, Phyllis, and Al took a different turn, and the rest of us five went on to do this route.

The good news is I could keep up; I even did my share of pulling. But oh, boy, howdy was it windy; you can tell by the comparatively low average (for a B+ ride) that we were fighting wind much of the way back. I remember feeling the bike being buffeted, and struggling to keep balance, and I decided not to add any extra miles on the way back to Cliff's office; the wind was straight in my face, and I didn't get above 13.5 for that whole part of the trip, I don't think.

I'm tired now. I'll plan to go on Winter Larry's ride tomorrow... but ain't gonna be much speedy showin' off on the Yellow Maserati on that ride, I don't think!  Still - if I can get 44 miles in, I'll have 4500 for the year, and that's not bad before the end of November.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

best prayer ever

This defies description:

I know I'm not the target demographic, but I gotta ask: did that guy preach the next day? Did he do a funeral in the next two weeks?

Maybe I'm just jealous that he doesn't have any of the questions and soul-searching that were such a trial for me. Or maybe it was the product-placements in the prayer.

(I found it originally as a songifed version from the Gregory brothers.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

dumb ways to die

I found this on Oursignal a couple of days ago, and shared it with The Excellent Wife (TEW). We've been boppin' around the house singing, "Dumb... Ways to Die..." ever since, so I thought I'd share it with youse-all:

Monday, November 19, 2012

the oxford comma

Don't ever tell me the omission of the Oxford Comma is right, or unimportant, or even acceptable. From Macromeme.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

conover/boundary road ride

Winter Larry usually takes us past his grandmother's house for the ride before Thanksgiving, but this year he was taken by a road out in Marlboro about which (I think) he was talking with fellow rider Mark H.  So instead of going to Bordentown and past the cranberry plant, we did this route out to Marlboro, to do Conover and Boundary Roads.

(The route, of course, includes the sixteen-or-so miles I add by parking at Cliff H's office, then riding a particularly circuitous route [although a flat one] to the start in Cranbury, making an eight-mile tour out of the four-mile door-to-door distance. The real start of the ride is near that knot in the Cranbury area, where the new Knapp's Cyclery outpost is.)

Eight of us started: Winter Larry and me, of course, and John and Jane on fixies (maybe the first fixie ride of the winter season; there seemed to be an excess of pre-ride preparation), a friend of theirs whose name either was or wasn't Witek (it's Polish: say VEE-tek), Mark H, club treasurer Peter F, and the Other Mark.

Although it was a cold day, we seem to have warmed quickly (there were, however, a number of warm hats and balaclavas in evidence; John pointed out that it might be a matter of interest having his image on a convenience store security camera in his face-covering gear). We rode straight out to Marlboro. Conover Road includes the Marlboro hills, maybe the most challenging hills on the flat side of Route 1. Witek and I got into a bit of a chase on these hills - that was fun, although once again I had to choke that competitive streak that leads me to do silly and dangerous riding. Boundary Road has a nifty long downhill the way we went, and that was lots of fun.

On the hills, I noticed a mechanical creak with each pedal revolution; Witek said he thought it might be cable (although it seems to have passed of its own accord). We also discussed my Polish relations, and it turns out he's Polish, too. Later, we discussed the sad state of Polish food in this country (which was a relief to me; I thought that such a vigorous people must eat better than the fare I'd seen -- my mother-in-law's cooking is excellent, but she's been exposed to too many influences, American and otherwise, for me to think that her cooking is authentic Polish). He also pointed out the kielbasa is a word, like our word "sausage", that includes many types of things, and he spoke with pity and disdain about American excuses for Polish kielbasa.

After the break, Mark H went home (he complained of a hard ride the previous day), and we went back with just enough variety to maintain interest (it's a challenge for these longer distances to get out and back in a reasonable time). Near the end, The Other Mark had a tire go out, and Larry and I waited for him. When we got to the ride start, the others had left; I'm presuming this means they were OK.

I had thoughts of getting 100km (62 miles) in today, but when I got to the car at 59 miles, I decided that was enough. It was cold, and I was tired. And so back home.

No ride yesterday due to family commitments, and with the holiday this weekend, I have no idea what time for riding will be available; I'm glad I got this one in.

songified epic first-ride speech

You may want to go check out the little kid's epic first-ride speech before you do the video below.

There's a bit of a backstory here: I was checking out NPR feeds to have something to listen to while I was doing a knitting project (about 40% because of a tinge of arthritis in my hands in the cold weather, and about 60% to see if I could remember the stitches), and I came across the "Ask Me Another" quiz-show feed. It looks like it ran for a short time and was not renewed (which is too bad, because I think it's hugely fun, and I love the hostess).

On one of the shows, the special guests were the Gregory Brothers, a troupe of three brothers (and wife of one - and why can't I think of a less graceless way of saying that?) who use Autotune to "songify" internet videos - they've done some viral things, the presidential debates, and news stories. Check 'em out on their site.

Well, imagine my surprise and delight when I found they had applied their treatment to my favorite little kid bike video:

You will get the hang of it. I know it.  Indeed

Friday, November 16, 2012


One of my pet fears:

I don't use a roof carrier... but I usually lean the bike against the back of the car while I'm changing back into my driving shoes. Someday, I'm sure, I'm going to forget to put the bike in the hatch, and back right over it.

From Oddman

Sunday, November 11, 2012

riding bikes and reading

Laura OLPH sent me this link:

Yeah, that's cool, and it would definitely get my bike into the house... but I note that the shelf is two-sided. That way, one side could have books, and the other could have, say, a pedal wrench, a set of allen wrenches in a rack, a truing stand, a collection of lube's and cleaners, my spare tubes, spare chains and cog...

I can hear the arguments starting already.

Original here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

pickup ride: short, slow, sweet.

A flurry of emails went back and forth this week about the selection of rides in the Freewheeler's schedule: nothing seemed to interest the folks I usually ride with, and Ira, who leads the Saturday B-rated Cranbury ride, will be out for several weeks with an injury (although later developments suggest that Bob S will be his replacement, and that's a good thing). One suggested a longer ride out of Piscataway, another didn't want to travel that far or be gone that long; a few went to Fort Mott in South Jersey to ride with the Philly club (now THAT's a distance to go for a ride start!).

Cheryl invited a few of us to go on a ride from near her house to Lambertville via a less-traveled route. I knew her ride would be of a reasonable length (even though I am an admitted mileage junkie) and a comfortable pace, so I went with her. We did this route.

Cheryl and I met, then went out to pick up Theresa; her husband Mike rode with us for a while, but he's recuperating from an injury, and decided to go his own way so he wouldn't slow us down (although I think he wound up making better time than we, albeit probably on flatter roads). We went up Poor Farm, a road that seems to have variable pitch; some days it's MUCH harder than others. As we turned left onto the poorly-surfaced Harbourton-Woodsville road, the sky darkened (despite an earlier clear weather prediction) and we got the merest smattering of rain, just enough to remind us how bad the weather MIGHT have been. (The weather was hard to plan for: while I was warm enough at the start, I was overdressed by the time we got back; Theresa, on the other hand [who hates riding hot] was underdressed to start and added a layer after the break). We met Mike (he had ridden farther than we by that point) and changed the route slightly, and went down Rocktown-Lambertville & Quarry Street into Lambertville, to Lambertville Trading for coffee. (Quarry Street is a nifty downhill. How come I've never gone downhill on that road before?)

Then back up Quarry and Rocktown-Lambertville with Mike joining us for a while. We passed the Dinosaur/Snoopy rocks (where are they, again?) and back into Pennington, then onto Federal City, which I've only ever driven on (and not in this area); it was NEAT. There's a great open farm field which was beautiful (although I'll be it usually has a wicked wind; there was next-to-none today, though). Then back to the start.

Not a long ride, nor a fast one. But a pleasant day with people I like (and I'll be glad if/when Mike feels like he can keep up with us again).

And don't you think it's about time I got back to bicycle posts again?

oddly hopeful

The Scandinavia and the World comic is one that has a few hits and many misses (probably because I'm too USA-centric to get the jokes), but this one makes me oddly hopeful:

Original here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

erasing debt

Since financial companies have proven too venial, too corrupt, or too inefficient (or all three) to deal with the consumer debt crisis, I'm not surprised that non-traditional solutions are being sought. I was moved almost to tears by this one.

Rolling Jubilee is a response to debt. What they are doing is buying up bad debt... and then erasing it. They claim that by spending $500, they erased $14,000 worth of debt.

My stars.

From their website:

We buy debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, we abolish it. We cannot buy specific individuals' debt - instead, we help liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal.
Even they admit that a 28000% return on investment is unlikely, but the first site linked above claims a 2000% (20:1) return - e.g., that $100 will erase $2,000 of debt.

They're starting with The People's Bailout, a variety show with quite a lineup of talent (and yes, some of them are The Usual Suspects, but some are not traditional lefties) on November 15 (and you might be able to stream it; you might not need TV).

I'm planning to follow this. More developments as they arise.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

this ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around

On October 29, Monday, a b-tch named Sandy struck the mid-Atlantic states. If you live here, you don't need much explanation. If you've been through similar disasters, I'm sure you have stories that are worse than ours.

But from about 7:15 that night, until sometime after noon on Saturday, November 3, The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I were without power. TEW had heard the storm was coming, and, although I poo-pooed the hype as the usual drivel the weather people spew to improve their ratings, both she and I filled our gas tanks prior to Sandy's arrival. Apart from that, though, we did little to prepare. We have lost power in several storms, but never for more than a few hours.

Almost everything in our house depends on the electric utility. The heat, the lights, the refrigerator... even the gas stove: while the gas can be ignited by a match, the stove uses an electric starter to light the burners (and, because of this, I was reluctant to run the oven; I do not know if it uses house current to re-start the burner after it has gone down for temperature regulation). We were taking abbreviated showers for days until I realized that the water heater uses a pilot light rather than house current.

We get all our information, and most of our entertainment, from the internet. The sole broadcast radio we own does have a wind-up generator - but because when we bought it, we did not check to see if it was operational, we did not learn that it does not play through its speaker until it was too late to return it. It does play through a headphone, but only one of us can listen to it at a time. And the local station went to an all-Sandy local-news format for the time that regular staff and regular programming was unavailable, but they went back to their right-wing all-talk format at the first opportunity (there is little difference between right-wing talk and plain ignorance; I opted for plain ignorance without radio irritation). Stations serving a larger area did not provide much immediately useful information. The one or two newspapers that TEW obtained (she's an unapologetic news junkie) were perused in great detail, I assure you. She complained frequently about "the view from the foxhole", that we could not get a larger picture of the problem than our immediate surroundings.

A local McDonalds had wifi access, but it was so overused, and so slow, that we did not return (TEW did manage to raid the soda-machine icemaker a number of times). The local IHOP opened up on (I think) Tuesday night; they have wifi, but the management has been so rude on the several occasions we have been there that we opted not to return (a waitress, however, was polite and thoughtful despite what must have been incredibly trying circumstances). We finally discovered the Franklin Library branch that had wifi; there was some problem about people losing connection, but the staff was always most helpful in the crisis.

Roads, of course, were closed due to downed trees and wires (as the still are at this writing in some areas). While PSE&G had crews brought in from out of state (I have seen trucks from Illinois and South Carolina), I'm not impressed with the ability of either PSE&G or the local police forces to keep traffic moving; one heavily-traveled block on State Route 27 was not opened until late this morning, almost a week after the storm hit. This is not a rural road.

TEW did an excellent job of managing the larder, even though ice was simply not to be found in local stores; we lost comparatively little food due to the lack of power to the refrigerator (although we did have some memorable meals). We were able to get to a few stores (more as days went by) for our needs.

Some things we learned:
  • Although we are not candle people, we have received gifts of candles for years, which we squirreled away in a closet. We have learned that most of them are useless, but candles in glass jars, especially pint- to quart-sized, are most useful as light sources (I also like tapers, but TEW is a bit nervous about them). Multiple-wick candles are useful as a heat source, as well.
  • Know where your flashlight is. It might be useful to carry it with you, even when you are going out into the world/
  • The stupidest thing can be a lifesaver. We found a clip-on-your-hat-bill LED light, which I found useful for reading, eating, and numerous other situations; it's now in a place I can find quickly when the power goes again.
  • I love my archaic, anachronistic, outmoded land-line phone. While PSE&G has varied from questionable to utterly unreliable, my land-line gave me a dial tone every time I picked it up. Cell service was either not to be had, or spotty, the first day after the storm, although it did improve quickly. (On a related note, my in-laws have been impatient with a nephew who was in tears over the loss of power and phone. His world is different; he has ALWAYS depended on cell phones and internet for news and connection, and can't imagine a life without them. I do not judge his panic.)
  • With the power out, other, smaller difficulties get magnified. My watch battery died during the power outage, and that affront to my routine was almost worse than the unavailable electricity. One of the springs that raises the garage door broke, as has happened on at least four other occasions - but because the home stores were unavailable (either because of road closings or the power outage), I had to rig a temporary solution, and the effort was emotionally exhausting; I myself was nearly in tears over it.
  • We used interesting tricks to maintain flexibility. Most notably, TEW decided that this was "Life During Wartime" (the name of a Talking Heads song, whence the title of this post). Most of the times when we had to make an accommodation or put up with an inconvenience, we could say, "That's life during wartime", and make do or get on with it. (She was extremely happy to be able to blow dry her hair when she visited her parents, who had electricity, on the Friday evening, though.)
We have power back. We are making plans to replenish our candle supply, and we have begun a list of power-outage plans and supplies. We are still speaking to each other.

For riding? It was a 100-mile weekend... but the news above is more important.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

cool cartoons (again)

I've recently surprised two people when I told them how much difficulty I have meeting people, especially how I felt that diminished my experience of the Anchor House Ride last summer.

I happened across this comic, that explains some thing about introverts...

...and had two thoughts:
  1. On that last line, who's spinning the spinner for the "Twister" game? The cat? and
  2. That was cool. Does that guy have any other stuff? 
It turns out he does. Incidental Comics come out about once a week, with poster-type, multi panel comics on whatever topic has taken his fancy. The one on sketchbooks reminded me I want to try drawing again this winter, and there are others on the unpredictability of new parenthood, and the danger of stray books - and those were only on the first page. I'm definitely going to look at more of his stuff, and I've bookmarked the site.

Someday I'll do a post and link on Subnormality... but today is not that day.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

tom-less californication oldwitchery ride

Tom's description of this ride in the list said:
CALIFON-ICATION: Looking for a change of scenery to lift your mood. Join Tom on a trip through the hills in and around Califon. Terrain will be hilly with a couple of tough climbs at a slow B pace. For more details call, email or check Tom's blog @ Meet at Woodfield Park, Hillsbourgh, NJ...
...but when we got there, we learned that Laura OLPH was going to lead the ride in Tom's absence, and that, as we weren't really going to Califon, but more like Oldwick, this was really more of an "Oldwitchery" ride. Well, Tom's rides always have a bit of the unpredictable about them, this time despite the fact that he had uploaded the route to, and I had downloaded it onto the GPS.

Here's my results.  Despite the grey day, the lateness of the season, the threat of storms tomorrow, and who knows what-all else, we got seven riders: Laura and me, of course, and Ed (of the Castner Murders Ride), Cheryl, Alan, Glen, and another Jim, who may have developed a permanent nickname as The Other Jim (to differentiate him from Plain Jim, me.)

It was a grey day, and I'm still sure I felt the odd raindrop, but it was a beautiful ride, with excellent views not too spoiled by the fact that visibility was somewhat limited by the moisture in the air. If you look at the topo in the route links, you'll see it's mostly flat, except for a substantial climb starting at about mile 19, and a substantial descent starting at the end of that climb. Even given that climb and descent, and the wide variety in our abilities, we stayed together... except when Alan and I got to pushing one another's pace a bit (or when Ed and I did the same, but it was mostly Alan and I). That competitive thing dies hard!

Laura stopped for some pictures on the descent, as, I think, did Ed, and I'll link to whatever I can when they're up. Shortly after the descent, we stopped in Oldwick at a stop I remember from at least one other ride (although I'm sure I can't remember the name of it now), with drinks and food, and a real restaurant inside (I'm surprised we disreputable, sweaty folks get served at all! ...although there were Adirondack chairs and tables in the yard, and both times I remember [including today] there were bicycles other than our group there).

Then back to Hillsborough. There was a nerve-racking crossing of 614 (although I don't know how it could have been done better), and a slightly different route back. We seemed to run across a large number of friendly, courteous drivers, who let us pass in front of them (more than I remember from other rides, at any rate).

Laura had her helmet video camera, and we sent greetings to Tom at the top of the climb and at the bottom of the descent, and our gratitude to him for leading the ride in absentia at the end. Storm is predicted for tomorrow; unlikely to get a ride in. If only one ride this weekend, this was a good one to do.

Monday, October 22, 2012

on defeating the righties

I found this post on "Defeat the Right in Three Minutes" intriguing. It summed up the right wing about as well as Jennings did, and in a more useful way. From the article:

"Cheap-labor conservative" is a moniker they will never shake, and never live down. Because it's exactly what they are. You see, cheap-labor conservatives are defenders of corporate America - whose fortunes depend on labor. The larger the labor supply, the cheaper it is. The more desperately you need a job, the cheaper you'll work, and the more power those "corporate lords" have over you. If you are a wealthy elite - or a "wannabe" like most dittoheads - your wealth, power and privilege is enhanced by a labor pool, forced to work cheap.

I gave it a couple read-through's, and I still need to go back, which is part of the reason I'm linking to it here.

I originally stumbled on it. It's apparently originally from Conceptual Guerilla, but it's hard to find there.

pics & laura's post on the castner ride reprise

Laura OLPH has uploaded her post, with many excellent pictures, of the ride on October 20. Go check it out, if only for the excellent fall colors.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

other skills than speed

Friend Dave H, who finds even cooler stuff ont eh web than I find myself, sent this video that reminds us that there are other skills on a road bike than just speed:

Doesn't he look like he's having fun? (And don't I wish I EVER had the balance and strength to do that stuff?)


In other news, with today's 20-mile up-Coppermine-Road-and-back-home ride, I've made 4,000 miles for the year. Reasonably quick, too: 17.8mph average, and top speed of 36.4 (I just can't get goin' faster than that down Old Georgetown...). 

Coppermine's got a new paving; if it holds till spring, it might be fun to try coming down Coppermine, which I would not have tried on the moonscape-like road surface it has had up until now.

4,000 miles before the end of October. Even given the light winter, that's not bad for a guy who works full-time and doesn't bike-commute.

two rides, one where i'm an idiot

On 10/17, I did a ride with the Old Guys, including the Ride-To-The-Ride with Erich W. It was a fun ride; I like riding with these guys.. but there was little distinctive about it, and how many times can I say, "Beautiful Fall ride!"?

Here's that route.  The one thing that I remember was that, before the ride back, Erich asked me not to set a pace that he couldn't keep comfortably. I kept him in my mirror and kept a pace where he seemed to be right behind me, but not crowding, and, at the end, he agreed that the pace was fine.

I've been less-than-charmed with Strava, and how I respond to it, and competitiveness generally. I had a short stint as "King of the Mountain" on a little-ridden stretch, and when I got the email earlier this month that said I'd lost my title, I had a brief, red-flushed idea of going out to defend my title... but this way madness lies; I know my pace and strength, and I don't need to be testing myself against other riders all the time. I ride, partly, for fellowship, and I don't want to be that competitive; there's enough of that in the rest of life. This interaction with Erich was a reminder of that. As the Hill Slugs say, amicitia quam celeritate (go look it up).

Yesterday, Laura agreed to lead Ed's "Castner Murders Ride" as a Hill Slugs ride, but the only Slug that showed was me (and Ed, who's an occasional Slug); there were two of Ed's riding buddies, as well: Roy, who does randonneuring, and Rick, about whom I learned little (except that the four of them all have PhD's, and I don't). I had not thought to do a group ride this weekend at all: The Excellent Wife (TEW) had been agitating for a date this weekend, as I have left her a bike widow far too frequently all season, but Friday she said that the other social responsibilities we had planned would count for the date. Yes, Jim, you can go on the ride; be sure to be home at 4:30 pm so we can be on time to the in-laws for the nephew's birthday celebration.

Yes, MA'AM! So I appeared at the start for this ride, delighted to be out riding with folks (have I made it adequately clear that I love to ride with people I like? And didn't Ed and Laura look pleasantly surprised to see me!). We had a great, dawdling time for the first almost-50 miles of the ride: sit-down at Thisilldous (see that Castner Murders ride for a link and a description); chatted with a local along the river about flooding; Ed zipped off the route, and got lost and found again; we met a few of Roy's rando buddies doing a short (for them) 90-mile ride (they have great bikes, with lights and carrying capacity for the up-to-600km [375-mile] rides they do).

But I get tired, and when I do, I make stupid mistakes. Usually, there are about navigation, like not knowing my right from my left. Yesterday, I looked at my computer and saw the time was 3:27, with about 11 miles to go. What! I've got to be home and showered by 4:30! So I bade a quick goodbye to the others, and ripped back to the car (pretty good speed for some of those uphills, too!); loaded up the bike; got in and started to drive home. Called TEW (the car has a bluetooth connection for my phone)... and noticed the time on the dash was about 2:35.

I had confused the time of day on the computer with the time riding. D'OH!

Not only is it safe to resume that Jim doesn't know where he is... it's also, apparently, not safe to presume that Jim is accurate on anything else of importance, either.

Friday, October 19, 2012

soup kitchen suffering because of ryan's lie

It's not news, I'm sure, that Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, in an attempt to appear charitable, burst into a soup kitchen unannounced, and picked up a pot and started washing it. The soup kitchen had no idea it was happening. Ryan's fraud became a news item.

Now, according to this item at AddictingInfo, the Mahoning County St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen is losing donors because they outed the lie. According to the article:
Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, confirmed that donors have begun an exodus in protest over Ryan’s embarrassment. The monetary losses have been big. “It appears to be a substantial amount,” Antal said. “You can rest assured there has been a substantial backlash.” He added “I can’t say how much [in] donations we lost. Donations are a private matter with our organization.”

The article gives a link to the Facebook page, where you can "Like" the charity, and also gives an address where donations will be sent. I'll get a check out tonight.

Join me.

There's a picture, but I refuse to assist in perpetrating Ryan's fraud by posting it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

pedaling out of the pokey

Some Brazilian prisoners are pedaling their way out of jail, but not in the way you'd think. From this article on Jalopnik:

Inmates in the medium security prison near Santa Rita do Sapucai, a small city a couple hours north of São Paulo, have the option of early release if they spend enough time in the saddle, pedaling to recharge a car battery. Three eight hour shifts equals one day off of a sentence.
I especially love the low-tech approach they take:
It's not a complicated system. The power-generating bikes, donated by the municipal police department from its stock of lost and found bicycles, juice the car battery, which is then driven into town by a guard at sundown and connected to the promenade's 10 street lamps through a converter donated by local businesses. Another guard drives the battery back to the prison in the morning.
Still, this guy does not look very happy:

Maybe he wants drop bars, or a better saddle.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

first winter larry & new shoes ride

One of the signs of autumn is the change in the rides available from the Princeton Freewheelers. Many of our fair-weather leaders don't ride when the weather gets cold, and the list is noticeably shorter. However, this is the season when Winter Larry comes out, much like Punxsutawney Phil, to lead his Sunday rides. Today was his second of the season, but the first on which I planned to ride.

Larry's rides are about 40 miles, and we regularly get back by about 12:30 PM. I like to add miles, and I got an email from Laura OLPH asking if she could tag along. Well, of course! We met at Bagel Street, then drove around to Cliff H's office to park. We took a five-or-so mile route into the Cranbury Knapp's bike shop, Larry's preferred starting point.

Larry brought us down to the Wawa in Harmony via Bergen Mills, then back via West Freehold and Perrineville, via this route. It was another lovely autumnal day, for which I was overdressed after being clod yesterday (I shed a layer and my full-finger gloves at the stop; I had tights on, but some of our number rode in shorts). But the thing that, I think, generated the most comment were a new pair of shoes I was sporting. I'd decided to try SPD pedals; my Look Keo's can only be accessed from one side, and the SPD's don't have a wrong side. However, bike shoes can be expensive (it's not impossible to pay $300 for a pair, and road shoes can be hard to find at less than $100). I found these BMX shoes, with a plate for the SPD cleat, real cheap at Blue Sky Cycling (I think; they're not available now).

Warning: they're not for those afraid of color:

After you're done looking at that screaming electric-lime-green sole, you might note the elaborate lacing pattern on the upright shoe. These five-hole shoes came with laces that are 48" long, and I had to find a lacing method that used up some of the lace so I wouldn't wind up tripping on the loops. Would you believe there is a website devoted to ways to lace up your shoes and sneakers?

A windy day, especially on the way back. Thirteen left; one dropped off, and another went home off the ride route. On our return, Laura gamely allowed me to decide how far we'd ride back to the parking, and I went for a route that added almost ten miles. That brought us within less than two miles of 100 Km for the day, so we did a loop around Plainsboro to add miles... and added a few more than we'd expected, as Laura told me about her experiences when living in town, and then how much it had changed since she had been here. We did find our way back to the cars, though; Laura was more right in her directions than she knew.

And there are worse things to do than push your bike around of a sunny October Sunday.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

cheryl-less last ride of the season

Cheryl posted in the ride listings:
Come join Cheryl as she leads her last ride of the season in the hills. Wet roads, high winds or temps below 35 cancel.
But correspondence with Cheryl indicated that she was blowing off the ride for a hike she's long hoped to do that got scheduled across it. Her substitute was Joe M, who was not happy with the 32° temps that were predicted for the ride start time; he suggested an 11am start. I wasn't happy with that; The Excellent Wife (TEW) would not be pleased with the return-to-the-house time of 3 or 4 pm that would be the result of such a late start. We compromised on starting at 9:30. I suggested Joe email some of the usual folks about the new start time, and I promised to go to the start early in case there were any others who showed up.

One did; a rider older than I who gave his name as Will, and who rode an old Specialized Langster. When I told him about the late start, he said he'd ride on his own, and maybe he'd be back for the ride start... but he wasn't, and nobody else appeared. It was just Joe and me, and Joe had a route that Cheryl had sent, that he had adjusted a bit.

Here's the route. It turned out to be a great ride. With just two of us, I didn't have to sweep, and I didn't get competitive (well, except at one point when we were passed by a group I know I could have kept up with... but they turned left where we went right). Yes, it was cold when we started, but we warmed up, and then the day did. As cold as it was, visibility was ideal. We passed plenty of places where Laura would have been off the bike and taking pictures.

I could swear that I saw autumn come in today. I remarked early in the day that I didn't see much of the leaves having turned... and then later we passed through areas where there was a lot of color (and where other places didn't have much; Joe thought it might be microclimate differences, and he's probably right). And on the drive home, I'm sure there were trees with autumn colors, that had not turned when I drove by those trees this morning.

Joe appears not to suffer from the same competitiveness that plagues me; he seems to know what his pace is and be able to keep to that. He doesn't risk his neck on screaming downhills, and he doesn't try to keep up where he's not having fun. I told him at the break about having started with Strava, and how I was regretting it now. I had a brief term as "King of the Mountain" of a little-travelled piece of road. When somebody beat my time, I got an email from Strava; Joe said it probably came with a sound file that said, "Nyaah, nyaah!". I thought about going out to beat the time again... but that's not really when I ride for.

Grant Petersen, of Rivendell Bikes, said it might be better to count hours in the saddle than either miles or speed. That's probably a good fit for me.

I want to remark on two parts of the route. If you look at the map, you'll see we did a loop at Sergeantsville, to go around the store and come back the other way after passing by the covered bridge. I've done the western and northern parts of that route many times, but I'd never been on the eastern and southern parts. Those roads were gorgeous. Joe had thrown out the option of cutting the ride shorter by leaving off that loop, but, pleading my increasing weight, I opted for the longer route, and I'm glad I did; I think Joe would agree.

The other is the last mile-or-so before the end. The most common way to go would be to continue on Delaware, left on Main, to the start point at the school administration building. For several rides, we have cut off part of the trip on Main (which is heavily auto-traveled) by going down Abey and Curliss. Today, we cut short part of the route on (the even more auto-traveled) Delaware Avenue by taking the right on King George, to Park, to Eglantine, then a quick backtrack to pick up Abey. I go on many rides out of Pennington, and this little change makes that last part of the route much more pleasant, and less anxiety-provoking.

So thanks for the lead, Joe, and thanks for the route, Cheryl. You should have come; you would have liked it.

cyclists creed

One of the advertisers on the Princeton Freewheelers site is GrinGear, a site that sells t-shirts, bottles, stickers, and other not-necessarily-cycling-related stuff, with cycling graphics affixed (it looks like they do the graphics, and have the actual printing/sales done through CafePress).

They have this design available as a .pdf for download:

But I think my favorite is this one:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

bicymple. bi-simple? bi-dumb

Oh, for heaven's sake.

On Oursignal, a content-collecting-and-rating site, I found this link to this site for Bicymple. Both the head tube and the seat tube are steerable, and the pedals are connected directly to the rear hub.

Other than trick riding, what does this bike do better than the standard safety bike? It's not good for speed (no gearing between the pedals and the hub), hills (no setback between the saddle and the rear hub), distance (it's too short to damp any road vibration)...

Not that I think anybody would... but don't bother to get me one of these.


Monday, October 8, 2012

cold columbus day ride

After not freezing on the covered Bridge ride yesterday, I was a bit overambitious and underdressed when I left to do the Old Guy's Ride from Etra today (I was off for Columbus Day). I had tights and two layers of long sleeves, but, at 40° at the start (and not up to 50° until I was on the way home). I really needed another layer. There were a number of times I almost split off and left... but it was a fun ride, and there were some guys I hadn't seen recently, and... oh, balderdash. I didn't leave early because pride wouldn't let me!

The Garmin didn't get quite the whole route; what it got is here, and the only part it didn't get is the last seven-or-so miles from Etra to Cliff H's office block, where I parked to get some extra miles (so add that to the total). Still, even with the miles lost, I'm over 3750 for the year; I should have no problem hitting my goal of 4000.

Ride leader Dennis W apparently was on the fence about whether he would lead, or leave it to his quondam lieutenant Al P. It appears Dennis decided to come at the last minute, and left his helmet home in his haste. Ira had an extra in his car, but the first part of the ride was a stop so Dennis could get his helmet with the mirror!

Then on to Pierre's in South Brunswick, a clean, pleasant stop with food and a bakery. That's close to my home in North Brunswick; at one point, were it not for the fact that the car was in Plainsboro, I might have gone stright to a hot shower and warm clothes.

Then back to Etra. On the way, I was able to point out to Al P a landmark for an alternate route that leaves off the busy Main St/Rte 33 turn in Hightstown. For the guy who is always lost, to be able to point out a turn is an event. I mark this day with a white stone.