Sunday, April 29, 2012

t-de-f pics

OK, some pics from today's ride. First, here's that truck bike I referred to. I forgot to mention the front AND rear disk brakes, and the internal, seven-speed rear hub. He also had this odd, no-nose saddle, which may be comfortable, but it limits leaning, so it makes the bike harder to steer:

truck bike 1

truck bike 2

Laura, and her bike, Kermit, in the parking lot:

Laura & Kermit

Dave H & Ron S at the Griggstown Causeway:

Dave H, Ron @ Causeway

Joe M, Dave H, Ron, Laura, and May at the Causeway:

many at the Causeway

After the ride - Me, Shawn, part of Mike C, Rich, Dave H, and Ron:

cast photo 1

Joe, Dave H, Me (with Rich B's head growing out of my right shoulder), Laura, Ron:

cast 2

Shawn removing Mike's number tag. Dave H, Joe M, Rich, and I are awed by their coordination, or something.

cast photo 3

Most of the gang: Shawn, Mike, Dave C, Joe, Rich, some guy, Laura, Dave H, Ron.

cast photo 4

Photographer Ed C.

Ed C.

tour de franklin

Because I'm a complete nutball, I have been sweating this for weeks.
Tour de Franklin logo

Today was the 2012 Tour de Franklin. Some of you have checked the post on my Charity Rides blog, and some of those who did came along. We had ten Freewheelers along today, and picked up a stray from the Mid-State Riders who got his times wrong (and who appeared to enjoy our somewhat more spirited pace; more on that later).

It can't really be said that I LED this ride, since the route was set out for me, and since there were cue sheets for all and painted road markers... but I did CONVENE the ride, and I have been worrying about the weather, the route, outbreaks of cholera that might interfere, and all manner of similar jazz for a couple of weeks. And yet the day was great: cooler than I would have liked when we had to leave (7:30 am? We nearly had a mutiny about THAT; one rider referred to me as "Captain Bligh" after my crew had given me such a hard time), but warm, clear, and bright later. The route had enough hills to be interesting, but not so many that our riders were complaining (although a couple went up Servis Road, which paralleled part of the route, because they weren't getting enough hills), and I brought it in at 15.6 mph, which means that the slow riders were at about that pace. One of the faster guys said his GPS reported 16.5.

Well, I'm impressed.

Some of the guys were the group of Pennsylvanians, some of whom had been complaining on the Chocolate Bunny Ride. One of those was a guy who's had lung problems last year, ahd who was riding with four broken ribs today. His goals (which he apparently made handily) were to keep with the group for the first 20 miles, to keep the group in sight for the next 20 miles, and to finish the ride.

He got in before I did.

Another was a younger rider (WAY younger than I) who had finshed near the back of the pack on the Chocolate Bunny Ride, who came in with no problem today. I told him I want a urine sample and a blood test; I suspect a Central Jersey doping scandal in the making.

I had a great time. We got t-shirts and goodie bags (my wife has already hooked the fancy body wash), we got lunch. Ed got some pictures, which I'll post when he sends 'em to me. And I didn't get lost. I have a preliminary answer to the question, "How many Freewheelers does it take to keep Jim from turning off the course?" The temporary answer is, "No more than eleven."

(There's another important Freewheeler question: "How many Freewheelers does it take to change a tire?" The answer seems to be, "Well... how many do you got?" Unfortunately, as the number of available Freewheelers increases arithmetically, the number of false starts and random opinions, and the amounts of noise and wasted time, increase geometrically. We're really much more efficient letting one person who's really good at it change the tire, and the rest of us, ideally, should not even know that the process has begun.)

We saw a number of beautiful bikes, some cool things, and one working bike that looked like a truck: heavy frame with integrated rear-basket mount, internal seven-speed rear hub, dual disk brakes, and a modified Sting-Ray handlebar to bring the controls back to the rider. The guy on it could ride the pants off that thing, too. I hope Ed's picture of it comes out; I want to post it.

Edit: See Laura's post for today to see the pics. Go ahead. Do it now: the post will open in a new tab, and I'll wait.

Also: on that Chocolate Bunny Ride, I wrote about having problems with the front brake. I think I found the problem: I noticed that the right control had slipped down the handlebar (because of the extra in-line brake levers I have on the Road Bike, the slipping of the shifter control would make the brake tighter). I've fixed it, and it seems to be better now.

Only one complaint: little good food at the stops. Two riders complained about the lack of food (the committee member said they had not counted on the number of same-day registrations), and, while there were some bagels, cream cheese, butter, water, and Gatorade, the was not much fruit, and no peanut butter was in evidence (which is like not having adequate heroin in an inner-city neighborhood). Other than that (and knowing that, we might plan for it if we go again), I think we had a good time. My thanks to Dave C, Dave H, Ed, Joe, Laura OLPH, May, Mike, Rich, Ron, Shawn, and an unnamed hanger-on from the Mid-State club, for making my first pseudo-leading experience as good as it was.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

birthday coming

Heinz 57 Varieties logo

I've got a birthday in a bit over a week. It's my Heinz birthday; I'll have as many years as Heinz (used to have) varieties.

(I guess you've gotta be d'un certain age to get this, because the current Heinz logo (available on this page) is one of those boring new streamlined could-be-anything corporate logos - but when I was growing up, "Heinz: 57 Varieties" was all over everything they sold... which at one point, according to at least one not-too-reliable source, included over 1300 varieties.)

Sheesh. I hope I never get that old.

spring fling

Today was the Princeton Freewheelers' "Spring Fling", the annual April all-paces ride and lunch where they distribute jerseys to last year's leaders of over ten rides and make other announcements. It leaves from (and the lunch is served at) the Princeton Masonic Lodge, which is one of the few ride starts to which I can ride from my house, so I did. It was a bit cold this morning, and I knew it would warm up (some) later, so I was a bit cold when I left, and a bit warm when I got back.

If you check out the route, you'll see that there's a two-loops to the southwest of the start/end. I started and ended near my house, and rode down the the lodge (there's a little jiggit about halfway down river road where the lodge is; the other one, a bit northwest of there, was where I pulled into a driveway to put my mirror back and adjust my headgear). I went in the expectation that Ira S, a popular ride leader, would have a huge group, and I would sweep for him, but his group of fourteen was smaller than I expected - whether the cold temps kept people away, or people were put off by his short course, I don't know. Although pretty (we went by some very classy real estate - more places I won't be able to retire), the course was short; only 20 miles; some of us added an extra four by going around the block for some more miles (that's the narrow rectangular bit to the east of the main loop). I waited at he top of a hill for some riders, and one got ahead; I tried to catch him, but got stuck behind some traffic and couldn't. The traffic is my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Early on, one of the riders with whom I'm not acquainted had a flat. How many Freewheelers does it take to change a tube? Well, how many do you have? Of course, the more of us there are, the more opinions and suggestions there are - which don't actually speed up the process. The tire in question was exceptionally tight, so I'm glad I didn't have to actually change it. I don't claim any particular expertise in that process, so I stayed back and waved the traffic by .

Ira was also responsible for the lunch (which may be why he made his ride short). We were first back, and some of us tried to be polite, but politeness gave way to hunger, and we got into the meatball sandwiches and the desserts before the rest of the food arrived, or before the other riders got back. I did not hear complaints about lack of food, so perhaps we were kind enough to the comparative latecomers.

There was a woman from who was there selling print overruns and overstocks cheap - $5 for jerseys. Most of them were in Dumbo sizes, but I got one in medium, which I have given to The Excellent Wife (TEW); she'll need one (more later). I also got a pulls-down-low-over-your-eyes cycling cap, which I put on under my helmet, and then had to adjust on the way home... because the bill is SO low, I couldn't see ahead! And I'm too d-mn old to give up visibility for style.

The Excellent Wife will need the jersey, doncha see, because she's actually going to try to come out on some rides. In this month's ride list, there's a beginner ride scheduled, to be led by an instructor for the League of American Bicyclists. I talked to him about bringing her, and he said "No couples"... and he's right. TEW can learn stuff better from almost anybody than from me; between my teaching style, and all the other water that's gone under the dam with us, me-the-teacher-and-she-the-student is just not a reliable recipe for success. She should do this thing herself. I hope she will.

Tomorrow I take the team on the Tour de Franklin. The team may be getting bigger; a few riders today asked about it. We almost had a mutiny over the early start... we'll see how things go. In the meantime, as I write this, the bike laundry is in the dryer, the non-laundry bike stuff is laid out for putting in the car, and TEW and I are eying the local Five Guys like wolves circling the wounded moose.

Friday, April 27, 2012

police would be liable for arresting citizens recording them

Eric Coleman, state senator from Ct.

The state senate in Connecticut has approved a bill which would make police liable for arresting people for recording them. The bill, introduced by State Senator Coleman, above, states the following:

This bill makes peace officers potentially liable for damages for interfering with a person taking a photograph, digital still, or video image of either the officer or a colleague performing his or her job duties. Under the bill, officers cannot be found liable if they reasonably believed that the interference was necessary to (1) lawfully enforce a criminal law or municipal ordinance; (2) protect public safety; (3) preserve the integrity of a crime scene or criminal investigation; (4) safeguard the privacy of a crime victim or other person; or (5) enforce Judicial Branch rules and policies that limit taking photographs, videotaping, or otherwise recording images in branch facilities.

Officers found liable of this offense are entitled, under existing law, to indemnification (repayment) from their state or municipal employer if they were acting within their scope of authority and the conduct was not willful, wanton, or reckless.

See the original article on

Thursday, April 26, 2012

parts missing

I'm not a complete idiot; some parts are missing.

Yes, I do spend too much time on that site where I found this.

they picked the wrong gal

That friendly-lookin' gal in the picture is my newest hero. She won a $10,000,000 judgment against a bill-collection agency who were using illegal harassment tactics.

Admittedly, she was not just your average bill-collection-harassment-call-recipient:

"He picked the wrong person," Mey said.

You see, Diana Mey has battled big companies over intrusive phone calls before. In 1999, she won a class action lawsuit against a major telemarketer whose salesmen kept calling people, even when asked to stop. People magazine named her one of the "Most Intriguing People of the Year." That's why Mey has recorded her phone calls ever since.

See the original article here.

I wish I could ever be that heroic.

Monday, April 23, 2012

back from pittsburgh

The Excellent Wife and I visited friends who live in a suburb of Pittsburgh this weekend. Through a combination of hard work and good luck, they will be able to retire in a few months (on a full pension, a thing few people of my age will have), and they will be leaving that area, so they, and TEW and I, decided that it would be a good time to visit, as we could benefit from their local knowledge.

These friends had lived on a cute little farm in the Albany-Schenectady area for years until the job moved to a Pittsburgh suburb about five years ago, and it's only with reluctance that they moved, and they are leaving at the first opportunity; they've already bought the retirement house. They do not love Pittsburgh, for a number of reasons, one of which is that they are not sports people.

It's not useful to talk about Pittsburgh without talking about sports. A Google image search for "Pittsburgh logo" this morning showed seven of the first eight results, and twelve of the first 16, are clearly sports team logos, either professional or college (a similar search for New York logo shows four of eight and nine of 16). The Penguins, the Pittsburgh hockey team, was in the playoffs and lost the first three games, but won the fourth; the fifth was to be played the night of the first day we were there, and we could not escape the Penguins jerseys and t-shirts that were being worn in support. The editorial that day was about a retro jersey that the Steelers would wear later in the year, and, as we were touring the city, I was surprised at the amount of sports logo gear for sale, and the number of vendors who sold only sports logo gear. I don't remember as much sports logo clothing being worn anywhere else as I saw there.

Pittsburgh was a steel city, and there are reminders all around, in the empty steel mills (many of which have been reclaimed for other purposes), in the huge number of train tracks, in some of the nifty historical areas. The Pittsburgh three rivers area was important during the French and Indian Wars (which, in the rest of the world, was the Seven Year's War, largely between Britain and France), but my friends tell me that the locals think of history as being largely about steel. And steel is fascinating: huge machines, railroads dedicated solely to a single steel plant, and huge amounts of money, as evidenced by the excellent period architecture in many parts of the city, as well as the number of bridges. There are bridges everywhere. They need them, with three rivers, and countless creeks, streams, brooks, and ravines.

We saw the Heinz History Center, a monument to local pride, and walked the strip (originally a warehouse area, now nifty food and arts vendors, and plenty of places to get sports logo gear). We tried to do the art museum, but we had a dispute about opening time; an online resource said it opened at 10am,, but the sign in front said noon on Sundays, and, with weather threatening our timely return home, we decided to go to the Phipps Conservatory prior to our return home.

We're home now, working on losing the weight we gained and planning what to do when we return to work. Our thanks to our hosts, gracious and informative. And I'm hoping for nice weather next weekend, for the bike club spring fling and the Tour de Franklin.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I would like to apologize to anyone I have NOT offended...
Thank you for your consideration.
From, which, I'm sorry to say, I enjoy way too much.

In other news:
  1. In my head, I refer to my bike as the yellow Maserati, because it it neither yellow, nor a Maserati. When someone compliments me at work (an occurrence of distressing rarity), I have for years said something to the effect of, "That's why I make the big money; you can tell by that yellow Maserati that's parked outside. Didja see it? That's mine." Since I spend way too much time, effort, and money on my bike, it's become my yellow Maserati.
  2. Have you found the Easter Eggs yet? I've been putting them in for a month or so.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

gps art

Laura OLPH forwarded this piece from Grist about a bicyclist who's using his GPS tracks to draw pictures:
GPS dragon! Whoo!
I've heard of people doing it elsewhere, but now Laura is interested. She suggested the Hill Slugs do a slug, but I protest that a slug is too amorphous to be recognizable (would you recognize a slug?). I think seasonal designs might be fun: a bunny at Easter, a witch at Halloween. (If we were really bein' true to the Hill Slugs, we'd have a bunch of riders gossiping & joking over coffee... but that might require more detail than the GPS would permit.)

unbreakable distance record

Cyclist Tommy Goodwin - over 75,000 miles in a year

I got an email from a fellow rider, Dave H, about this guy. In the days when cycling was the rage, Tommy Godwin set a distance record of 75,065 miles in a year, according to this article from the BBC online.

From the article:

"It's those statistics that make the record virtually unbreakable," said Dave Barter, a keen cyclist who is writing a book about the Year Record. Sometimes he survived on four hours' sleep and there were probably days when he didn't even bother and just carried on and kipped in a field for an hour. He pushed it [the record] beyond the limit of any mere mortal. I worked with a guy who tried it again this year - he lasted about a month and a half. The essence of it is that for a year you have to completely give up your whole life.... When I tell other cyclists about the record, they simply don't believe it's possible."

Not satisfied with that, he went on for another several months, to set the record for the fastest 100,000 miles.

It makes my 1200 miles since January 1 look piddling. Even the guys with all the free time, who are coming up on 4,000 miles for the year, aren't close to this.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

lucky & goofy

There are about three posts linked into one here; bear with me.

I didn't expect to get a ride at all today, as I said in my last post, but ours was the only delivery on the truck, and the truck was in our condo association before The Excellent Wife left for work. So I threw the stuff in the car and headed off to Hightstown, hoping to get in on the Ride to the Ride that Erich, Bob w, and Al L do. But traffic, construction, and whatnot conspired agains me, so I changed plans, and drove stright to thw Allentown start (and barely got there in time!). Eleven guys, all regulars except for me, and we took this route to Pemberton and back. There's an excellent bakery there that I'm sure I'll never find again! Almost 41 miles, ar over 15mph! Some were proud (although tired); others complaining.

I got to talking with one rider about the last time I'd ridden with them, and we spoke about how tough it is when there are a number of riders along, with whose styles you're not familiar... and then I made a couple of boneheaded, terrfying mistakes. It was not my best day; I hope those guys know that I'm not always like that, and I promise to behave next time!

I'm leading a team of Freewheelers on the Tour de Franklin at the end of the month, and I heard that on Monday, a woman who is planning to ride with me was asking for a description to see if she knew me. The usual, "Fifty-something and thin" could be about half of the male membership fo the club. so that wasn't helpful! I heard that another rider described me as "goofy-looking"... and if you check the pictures below, you'll see that a case could be made.

See, fellow rider Ed C, who goes on the Sunday rides with me, has started packing his camera. I didn't ride on Easter, but he did, and got a few pictures:

Easter, four riders
That's Mark H on the left, Laura OLPH next, Matt (an occasional rider with us), and photographer Ed C. in the white top and green hat.


COOL pink Pinarello!

I don't know the rider... but I LOVE those pink and black Pinarellos!


Winter Larry

Winter Larry, the Sunday leader. He won't continue leading into the spring and summer, but he's been great all winter.

Below are some pics from last Sunday's ride to Jackson:


the crew, puffin' up a hill

Winter Larry leads the crew

That's Winter Larry up there, leadin' us all.


That guy leanin' over his handlebars in the long sleeves and tights is Alf. I've referred to him in a couple of posts this week; he's been showing me what it means to be good on the hills. The guy in the "Old Guys who get Fat in Winter" jersey, on the left..., well, YOU'd describe him as "goofy-looking", too, wouldn't you? Anyway, that's me.

And here's a good pic of the lake in Cranbury, the town we leave from on Sundays:

Lake in Cranbury

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

mid-april noise

First, I'm not feeling as out-of-sorts as I was, for no reason I can figure out; it might just be that I've got some perspective. It doesn't hurt having the kitchen back together, and not having any unforeseen expenses in the past couple weeks.

Bear with me on this, because here's something else that helped: tomorrow's one of those Wednesdays off that I get, and the weather is expected to be great - just the thing for a ride with the Old Guys (see this post for a bit of an explanation). But I'm not going. See, things have gotten so close to done with the kitchen that The Excellent Wife has decided to move up her plans to have the floor done... and it turns out the most convenient day to have the materials delivered to the house will be tomorrow. So I volunteered to forgo the Old Guys and hang around and wait for the truck.

I hate to miss rides, especially since I won't be able to ride this weekend (more on that, probably, later). But this is so important to TEW that waiting for the truck appeared (and still appears) to be the best thing to do. And, having decided not to go, I'm strangely at peace with the idea that I won't get a ride in for about two weeks (which normally would make me exceptionally cranky).

Second, fellow rider Ed C has forwarded me a number of pics of the last ride I posted, and a ride on Easter on which I didn't go. I'll edit those pics (mostly grinding them down to a size that won't choke the servers or mess up the delicate formatting of this blog), and put up a few of them tomorrow. There's a great one of Winter Larry, a pretty good one of a pink-and-black Pinarello (handled by a woman I've not met, I think), a couple of goofy ones with me, and some others. It'll give me something to do while I'm waiting for the tile, or waiting for TEW to come home after the tile is delivered, or something.

Third, I've decided to try some cheap Shimano SPD mountain pedals. I've been using Look pedals since I bought my first road bike, and my fast ride is rockin' Look Keo Easy's. But I frequently have the problem that I can't get into the Keo's when I start from a stop, because they're upside down, or they've been spinning so fast on the pin that I can't kick into 'em right. The SPD pedals are two-sided, so they might be easier to hit (although they're a smaller target, so they might not). Further, mountain bike shoes are easier to walk in, and (in general) less expensive than road shoes (although they're heavier... but maybe I could reduce the weight disadvantage by gettin' more frequent haircuts, or something).

Kim's Bikes in New Brunswick has the pedals for just a few bucks more than they are online (when you include shipping), so I'm planning on dropping in on the way home and picking up a pair. I'll pop the cleats on one of my pair of road shoes, and see how they go. That will give me something else to do tomorrow - so I'm not risking lives or limbs (mine or anyone else's) by learning these pedals on a group ride.

And how's yerself?

Monday, April 16, 2012

wishin' I could let it go

Various sources give various authors for the quote (I've seen Edwin Armstrong, Artemus Ward, Will Rogers, or a variant by Josh Billings) that goes, "It ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so." Every now and then, I'm reminded how much I know that just isn't true. Recently, The Excellent Wife took out paper and pencil and, on the back of an envelope, did some quick calculations, and showed me that I was being unduly pessimistic about our retirement options; that, while we will not be able to live in any upscale community, we might be able to do better than my plan of an abandoned UPS truck in West Virginia. How many other things am I wrong about, that I don't even bother to check because I don't know I'm wrong?
The other thing that's taking over my brains today is that I can't stop ruminating on stupid mistakes, and cruel things I said, when I was in high school. That was 40 years ago, I haven't seen those people since, and there's certainly nothing I can do about it now. Does this stuff ever go away?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

to jackson

Lowering skies and drizzle this morning were probably the main reasons that Winter Larry's Ride to Jackson was as poorly-attended as it was, and by as few regulars. Of the eleven of us, three were members of the NJ Major Taylor Club, one was the treasurer of the club who's just getting back to actually riding, and two were first-timers to this ride (one was Alf from yesterday). But when the day cleared up, it was a pretty ride - and warm; several of us shed layers, and we were amazed that one kept his jacket and tights on all day.

I wasn't familiar with most of these roads (even though I'm always lost, I have occasional flashes of recognition, but they were absent today). It was a pretty ride, although we were on a busy road after the break, and met a walk for MS coming the other way (so much with the waving and thumbs-up to them!). One of the places where we had to turn left, a driver stopped for us, and an angry driver in a Corvette behind that driver pulled around and tried to cross through us as we were turning. That was scary, and makes me worry about polite drivers on busy roads - we don't know who behind them will turn out to be impolite and dangerous.

After that, though, we got back to our pace, which was quick on this ride; I finished with an average of about 16.2... but then forgot to turn off the GPS when I put the bike in the car after riding back to Bagel Street where I had breakfast, and it caught me goin' over 50 mph on Plainsboro Road. Duh! (I'm blamin' the GPS: it was dodgy again today, and cut out for a while after the break - I think it also wasn't registering correctly, possibly because I didn't have it charged up all the way. I like the technology, but I don't like being so dependent on it.)

I hope to ride with the old guys Wednesday, but no rides next weekend - I have real life to live, instead.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

folded sheet metal bike frame

I Stumbled across this article on Gizmodo about a folded sheet-metal bike frame: light, stiff, strong, and inexpensive:

I can't decide if I like the idea or not. I like bike weirdness, but that thing is fugly. But I think it might turn into something cool.

They have a Kickstarter page, and I'm thinking of giving 'em a little money, just because I like the novelty of the idea (and because I like the amateurish video on the Kickstarter page. C'mon! Paper cutout guys on pencils, for heaven's sake!).

But I ain't ridin' one until they get prettier. Even with paint on that thing... well, it would be analogous to makeup on a warthog.

See the company page here.

surprisingly large, surprisingly warm, surprisingly fast sergeantville ride

It boded not well when I got an email last evening from Cheryl, the leader of today's ride, asking if I were coming because she only thought one other person would appear; I half thought she would cancel. It boded worse when I got up this morning to frost on the cars, despite a prediction of weather in the 70's later. I put on tights, two long-sleeve thermal shirts, and a short-sleeve jersey, and brought my heavy gloves and under-helmet-cap to the ride for this morning. When I got to the ride site, I doffed the tights and donned the lighter (but still full-finger) gloves, but by the time we got back, I had switched to half-finger gloves and had the cap in my pocket, and I was wishing I had worn at least one less layer; it got that warm by the time we got back...

...from our surprising ride today. Not that the route was a surprise (although they are ALL surprises to me, since I'm so geographically-challenged), but the weather was better than I suspected, and the ride was far better attended than Cheryl had thought - twelve riders on eleven bikes (including a tandem, and get out of the way when that thing is comin' down the hill behind you!). AND we were fast: my average was 14.7, much faster than my usual in the hills (although a few riders said that this ride was less challenging than the recent routes that Laura OLPH has subjected us to). Two similarly-named riders who have left Laura's rides recently finished with us (as did everybody else, I think).

Also along was a new (to me) rider, Alf. It is not true he schooled me on the hills. It IS true that he is definitely faster than I on them. I hope he comes out more; it's good to be challenged by someone who doesn't gloat when he wins, and we can continue to be friendly even as we challenge each other.

I did the sweep thing, and a number of folks remarked on my ability to count to eleven on one hand. One of the Mike's mentioned that he thought I had a touch of OCD. Well, more than a touch; I've definitely got some features, but not the full-blown disorder... but, I said, I'm pretty close: two more ounces and I'd be standing by the light switches, flicking and counting. (My ride sweeping is partly out of a desire to help other riders, and partly out of a [possibly vain] attempt to make sure things turn out right.)

Pretty day on pretty roads. 45 miles (near as makes no difference), with some spiffy climbs (Poor Farm, about 4-5 miles in, nearly brought my morning bagels back up for re-inspection). Some have been newly-paved (don't ask me which. Aren't you paying attention? I never know where I am!), and none were as bad as some of those gravelly-downhills I've done in that area in the past.

Tomorrow, I hope to go out with Winter Larry. Kitchen's done, getting some rides in - maybe the future will brighten up.

foolish anxiety

This speaks to me about the foolishness of anxiety:
Anxiety comic from Loney Infermo
It's probably too small to see; go check out the original at The Loney Infermo.
ADDENDUM: Of course, just because it's foolish doesn't mean I can turn it off.

Friday, April 13, 2012

life machines from recycled bicycles

They call them BiciMaquinas, which translates roughly to "Bike Machines". They're machines made from repurposed bicycles. In the video, they shell corn, extract aloe oil, pump water:

Original at MayaPedal.

This has improved my mood measurably.


I haven't posted all week because I've been a bit of a mess, frankly. A job for which I applied hasn't gotten back to me, and I thought (with my experience and with the way that the interview went) that I'd be a shoo-in for it. I don't know if that's the reason, but I do know that I've been exceptionally cranky recently:
  • We had new cabinets, and a new countertop and sink, put into the kitchen. This meant that we were without a kitchen sink or dishwasher for the past two weeks or so (they were just restored yesterday). I've been washing dishes in the bathtub, and buying coffee every day, and we've been subsisting on food from the in-laws, and on stuff that The Excellent Wife put in the freezer prior to the beginning of the job, or that she's made since. I have not been graceful about making the adjustment;
  • I've been exceptionally impatient with people with whom I disagree politically. I'm pretty far on the left wing, so there are a lot of people with whom I disagree. I hope I haven't upset anyone I care about (and I'm sorry if I have).
  • I've been resisting making a frivolous purchase (I've been a bit short of waste-able cash - which means, not that I've been going into debt, or even that I've been saving at a lower rate than I expect, but that my financial "cushion" is a bit smaller than I would like). And I can tell, the effort is tiring.
  • It's also a tiring effort not to eat junk. I haven't been doing it (much), but I've been actively resisting it.
I've been reading Baumeister and Tierney's Willpower, and they point out something that the 12-Step programs have been saying for a long time: Willpower is like a muscle - you can tire it out, but through repeated use, you can strengthen it. There are particular brain regions that are active when a person uses willpower, and this effort of will uses glucose, so that when you're hungry, tired, or emotionally stressed, you have less resistance to temptation - and when you resist temptation, you have less energy to do other stuff.
I can see that my disappointment, and my (smaller, but still a factor) stress over the uproar in the kitchen, has been coming out in other little ways.
It looks like the weather and scheduling will allow me to ride both days this weekend. I can really use it. And I hope I can get back to a more frequent posting regimen, without upsettin' the few people with whom I'm still on speaking terms - especially TEW.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

chocolate bunny ride (oh, geez...)

Today was Laura OLPH's traditional, annual Chocolate Bunny Ride for the Hill Slugs, so-called because she gives out chocolate bunnies each year to the folks who complete it. I understand the route is traditional; she made it when she didn't have the hill-climbin' cred (or legs, or hardware) she does now, and most of the climbs are in the first half (although the close observer of the elevation on the route page will note a not-inconsiderable climb-and-descent between about miles 45-48).

The day started cold for our 9:00 start, but had warmed up considerably by the time the last of us rolled in at about 1:30 (I was sweeping, so I was among the last), and it was clear and sunny throughout, but increasingly windy as the day wore on (I remember predictions of wind speeds in the mid-20's, and I'm willing to believe it). We had 16 riders to start, some of whom were long-time Hill Slugs, and some of whom were first- or second-timers. Among the first-timers were a trio from Pennsylvania, who, I'm sure, will never trust me again.

Y'see, I'd promised them that they'd be able to keep up. I went back over the last four or five Hill Slug rides I'd done, and I saw that the averages on all of those rides were in the 13.5mph range - a little higher or lower, but not much. I had every confidence that we'd be doin' that pace today... but we didn't. Our average for this ride was a comparatively whippy 14.8. The newbies from the other state were puffin' at the back. I hope they don't think I was sandbaggin' 'em... but I couldn't blame 'em if they do.

Some of these roads were busy with traffic, but we were disciplined enough to stay safe, and mostly stay together. At the break (near the top of the route, just before we crossed 206), Laura got a call from a rider hoping to join us there, but circumstances worked against it, and we went on. We passed within five miles of my house, and, if it weren't for the fact that we don't have a working klitchen, I would have invited everybody for coffee - secure in the knowledge that they woud have respectfully turned me down.

As always on a Slugs ride, we had some people break off: one at first who probably didn't intend to ride the whole way with us, and then after the break, the faster folks went off the front while those of us in the back went at our own pace. One of the faster riders went looking for a place to take care of some business, and, with a missed communication, he and a couple of lookouts for him joined the slower team. We got in quickly enough behind the faster folks that they hadn't ALL left the lot, and there were enough chocolate bunnies left over so that somebody got to take some home.

On the last part of the route, I must have hit a pothole or something; I noticed that the front brake was binding, and the rear derailleur was out of adjustment (on my bike, both of those are in the right control). When I got home, I not only had to adjust the brake, but had to re-true the wheel. Still, I'm a bit concerned about that right shifter: this is the second time in a matter of weeks I've had to adjust that front brake. It's a SRAM Rival shifter set, and if youse have any ideas what might be goin' on, I'd be glad to hear 'em.

And you Pennsylvania guys -- really, we're not usually that fast!

ADDENDUM: And in other news: over 200 miles this week, and 1078 miles since the first of the year. Not bad, for a guy who works a full-time job.

Friday, April 6, 2012

HUGE good friday ride with the old guys

A bit cold, and windy on the way home, but it was a great clear day for a ride today. I was off for Good Friday, as were about half of the rest of the world, and it was evident: twenty riders came out with the Old Guys today, despite the religious holiday (Pesach starts this evening, as well), among them at least half-a-dozen women. A contingent from the January Birthday Ride, including the eponymous Dave C, came in from Pennsylvania. Dave wanted to see if the Old Guy rides would suit his abilities and his schedule (which is as complicated as the grammar of some Slavic languages), and I think he decided that he'll come back to ride.

I went to breakfast in Plainsboro, then rode in to the ride start (that's the long tail to the west of the figure-of-eight on the ride route; the group ride started at Etra Park, at the lower left of the figure-of-eight thingie). I swept (well, DUH). One of the regulars, a strong rider, stayed back with me in the cheap seats; the large number of riders, with their unpredictable styles, put him off a bit, and he rode off by himself before the end. Another strong rider, Dave H, off for the day, stayed back a few times to get some pictures of the group (I think they're for the inevitable magazine cover shot, when we get famous - doncha think?). A rider who had had a bit of trouble on Wednesday was keeping up in good form today, which I was happy to see; I'm hoping that his tiredness the other day is just a passing thing.

A big group means a bit of traffic, and I'm sure we upset a few drivers today who had a tough time getting by us - but we were remarkably well-behaved, and we got the benefit of a number of other drivers who stopped for us at some troublesome intersections (and the driveway after the break in Helmetta). We came back through Jamesburg, and there was a stretch of almost four miles where I actually knew where I was, but I got over it.

A beautiful day for a ride. I had some wind on the way back to the car, but not so much that it made the last bit of the ride an unpleasant ordeal, and I'm justifying a bit of extra chocolate by the extra calories I burned (ahem!). Now the bike stuff (and the sheets) are in the laundry, and I'm preparing for Laura OLPH's ride for tomorrow: the much-anticipated Chocolate Bunny Ride. Oh, dear: that means more chocolate for tomorrow. Do you think that'll be too much?

Naaaah. Me neither.

it could happen...

It could happen. Original here. From Cyanide & Happiness, a comic that's usually so twisted, I can only take it in small doses.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

more on that ride you hated

Laura OLPH has got her pictures up for that excellent ride you would have hated. (I forgot about some of the excellent road names on that ride: Buckwampum? Gallows Hill?)

Plenty of nifty farm vistas for Laura. (Jeff l would ride ahead and ask regularly, "Is that a picture?" Often, it was.)
A spillway in Easton, PA:
We crossed the river into Phillipsburg, NJ, which is chock-full of nifty old buildings in the downtown. The next time I'm going through, I'll get pictures.

On the way back we went along that River Road I loved when I did it on the Anchor House ride. I still love it. It's beautiful. River, abandoned train tracks, old farms, new rich-folks houses; part of it has a rocky cliff on the side away from the river into which the right-of-way for the railroad must have been cut.

Go check out Laura's post - you've gotta see the great picture of the voguing chicken.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

what a day for a daydream

What a perfect day for a ride! It started out just that little bit cold, and ended just that little bit warm for the gear I had on. I met Erich, Bob W, and Al L at Etra Park in Hightstown, and rode in to Byron Johnson Park in Allentown with them for the Wednesday Old Guys ride (see the route here). We did just about 40 miles with the Old Guys (and I met a couple new ones whom I haven't had a chance to chat with yet, notably Ed, who writes software for the optics industries). Most everybody who came was in good form (one rider was tiring at the end, but we don't lose nobody). There was some uphill and downhill, some tough headwind, and enough tailwind to make much of the ride feel easy. On the way back, Bob W and Al decided to redo a little extra loop we had done on the way down, but I was hungry, and Erich decided to keep me company as I forged straight ahead. (For old guys, they're tough!) I suspect Bob and Al will have a bit of a mileage competition going on this year; they were swapping year-to-date mileage scores, and I think Al was surprised to hear that Bob had a few more miles than he.

MY most memorable part of the ride, however, was a moment I shared with Erich on the way down to Byron Johnson Park. We were pokin' along a bit behind Al & Bob, and got caught at the first light. A cute young girl in a car got the light to turn left, and, instead of not seeing us (which is the behavior I expect from such people), she gave us a sweet smile and let us cross in front of her, against the light. Erich and I marveled over that for miles. I think it's that skinny Santa thing that Erich has going on... but it might just be that the cute young thing took pity on a couple of decrepit old men with obvious dementia.

A great ride on a glorious day. You wish you had been on this one.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

replacing the prius battery

I've been exceptionally crazy recently:
  • I haven't heard back on a job I applied for (and I didn't know how much I wanted it until after the interview was over);
  • My mother, recently widowed, is moving away from all her friends, and a life she loves, in North Carolina, to live closer to my sister in Buffalo, NY. She's going to be in a supported-living apartment, but I don't think she's going to have anything like the life she is leaving... but it's also not my decision to make;
  • Our kitchen, which has been without countertop, sink, or dishwasher for a week while we've been having new cabinets installed, is expected to continue in this condition for another two weeks. I've been not drinking enough (because it's hard to filter our bad-tasting water) and eating junk (because I've got to wash any dishes in the bathtub);
  • And I just have this general sense of malaise, for no reason I can figure out.
So I've got to take achievement where I can.

Last week, I was at work early, and left the radio on in the Prius until the office doors opened at 7:30 am. The radio clicked off unexpectedly, and I had a hard time getting the car's computer to work properly again (although after it sat for a bit, the car started OK). The auxiliary battery test was inconclusive, but I decided that the inconclusive-ness of the test was reason enough to change the auxiliary battery. The OEM battery was $196, and the recommended after-market battery was $180 plus shipping, so I went with the OEM battery, which came in today.

The auxiliary battery in the Prius is under the back hatch (there's a 600-volt battery under the back seat that runs the electric engine, but that one doesn't go bad for over 200,000 miles). To replace it, you remove one of the wires, unplugging the wire from the brake booster at the same time. Then you remove a duct, followed by the removal of the other wire, and the battery harness... after which you can lift out the battery. Then you reverse the process (it takes about nine nuts and bolts). When you start the car again, presuming it's all hooked up, you've got to reset your radio stations, and fill up with gas again to reset the gauge. It's a gazillion-step process.

But it made me feel competent at something for the first time in days. I'm the Thomas Alva Edison of my condo association.

there are probably better things I could do with it...

There are probably better things I could do with it... but I've got some bike dollars burning a hole in my pocket, wanting to be spent.
Do I want a pair of inexpensive, large shoes for winter, where I could get an extra pair of socks on in 'em?
... or do I want to replace my raggedy, beat up (but still serviceable, only-in-its-third-season) helmet with this Kali Chakra Helmet, which doesn't have exposed styrofoam to get scratched and scarred?
(Hey, it's better than worryin' about why that job I applied for isn't callin' me back, or the gazillion other things that have me even crazier than usual recently.)

Monday, April 2, 2012


I've been waiting for Laura OLPH to post pictures from yesterday's ride, and it struck me that I oughta just carry my own d-mn camera. I wouldn't have to wait, and I could get pictures of the buildings and barns that interest me more than the farms and vistas she likes.

Do any of youse carry a camera? (Other than on your phone, I mean; my phone's camera is barely functional.) Where & how do you carry it?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

you would have hated it

I've been nagging Laura OLPH about setting a ride on River Road in Hunterdon County, along the tracks, between teh cliff and the river, since I went down it as part of the Anchor House Ride last summer. For today's ride, she and Jeff X Lippincott plotted a route that included that road, along with some excellent stuff (and intriguing road names: Gallows Hill? Wampum Buck?) in Pennsylvania.

It was a great ride, and you would have hated it.

The average was slow; we stopped a gazillion times to get pictures; we crossed the Delaware four times and had to walk the bikes each time; I left the house at something-after-7-this-morning, and didn't get back until something-after-3. Everything that anyone complains about on Laura's rides was included in this one. You probably wouldn't have liked the rest stop, either (although it had good coffee and a reasonably clean bathroom, which make it Zagat-rateable in my estimation!).

I loved this ride. Even though, somewhere at about 20 miles or so, I got caught going too slow, in too tall a gear, at the bottom of a hill, and had to get turned around to get up enough speed so I could gear down to get up the hill, I loved this ride. It had some grueling uphills, some ripping downhills, places where we were cookin' along at 17-or-so-mph, and places where we were just pokin' along. It had beautiful scenery, and beautiful towns and buildings I'd never seen before (and I'm much more likely to wax rhapsodic about the towns and buildings than about the farms and valleys). There were just four of us (Joe M filled out the quartet), and we kept together.

My head's been full of squirrels and cobwebs over job-related and family-related stuff recently (my widowed mother is moving to a senior living center, and, frankly, I'm sorry to see it). I needed a group ride today, and this was just the one. My thanks to Laura and Jeff for this lead.

But you would have hated it.

(Laura should have pictures soon; I'll happily steal some, as I did a couple of weeks ago.)