Sunday, September 30, 2012

saturday ride, 60th wedding anniversary, pumpkin patch pedal

Today was the day of the Staten Island Bicycling Association Pumpkin Patch Pedal, and Laura OLPH and the Hill Slugs regularly do the 100-mile route. This year, some of the Slugs decided not to go: one is recovering from an accident; another said that the Slugs pace had gotten too fast for him. After my recent illness, I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it, so yesterday, I went on Ira S's flat ride from Cranbury to see how I did. As I frequently do, I parked in Cliff H's lot to add a few miles; as is completely predictable, I got lost on short addition I had done with Cliff, and a few times by myself, early in the summer!

In the lot, I met Jeff X L, who suggested I come along on the B+; I told him of the illness, and how I only do a B+ ride once or twice a year to see that I can (I find I get too competitive on the faster rides; they're not as much fun for me, and I do competitive, unsafe stuff). He's planning to do two marathons this fall, and he told me about running and training, neither of them topics about which I know anything. Good luck to him.

We had 23 to start on Ira's ride; I swept. We did this route (it includes the meandering, getting lost miles on the way from Bagel Street, where I often buy breakfast, to Cranbury, and the direct route back).  On the way back, three riders broke off and went their own way home. The key for me was that I didn't feel whipped after this ride, as I did last week after Ed C's Murder Ride.

On the way home after the ride, I yielded to temptation and bought a bag of corn chips. Now, my idea of a serving size for chips is one bag. If the bag is a lunch-sized bag, a 6-oz bag, a 12-oz bag, or larger (if such a thing exists), the serving size is one bag. Someday, Frito-Lay or somebody is going to make a garbage-bag size of potato chips, and my life will be in danger from that day forward. That said, I had eaten quite a bit of the bag, and noticed something wonky, but, given that I am rarely plagued with stomach upsets, I let it go. More on this below.

Now, The Excellent Wife (TEW) has excellent parents, as you can probably imagine, and they will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this week. Last night, we went out to a Polish mass (they are primarily Polish speakers), during which there was a ceremony for them (and I love them dearly; I can definitely put up with being clueless for an hour or so at a Polish mass for them), then out to dinner at the Krakus Restaurant in Wallington (a town so Polish that the Southeast Asian fellow who runs the convenience store speaks Polish). The sisters had been having a to-do about who was going to pay for what, and how, but my gruff-but-amazingly-generous father in law forestalled the problem by going to the restaurant early that morning and arranging for payment in advance. Hrmph. I should ever be as cool as he.

After we got home, I had some stomach upset, and wound up stuck in the bathroom, having, shall we say, ejecta from both ends. I got about four hours sleep before it was time to get up to go to the Thompson Park in Jamesburg for the Pumpkin Patch Pedal.

By that time, the weather prediction, which had been 40% chance of rain, had improved. I had been looking forward to this ride all summer (it was the only organized century I planned to do this year). I decided to go with the Slugs.

Five of us went: Laura (of course), Mike M, Ed C, me, and we picked up Mark H (who had been planning to ride with his regular partner Neil C, but Neil stuck to his pillow this morning; he's apparently had a medical problem all summer). Here's the route. Not a bad pace... And I'm proud to say, I think I could have done better. Though the rain threatened much of the day, it was a great day, with hints of autumn, and crisp air. (If you want more details, wait for Laura OLPH's post; she's much better on that kind of thing than I.

Then home to a quick nap, a good dinner, and TEW. Time to do the chores and get ready for work tomorrow.

Friday, September 28, 2012

centenarian's 2nd record

Remember that 100-year old French guy who set the indoor track record for his age class?

He's back.

This time, he's set the record as the fastest centenarian to cover 100 Km. Did it in under 5 hours, too, at an average of 23.3KmH.

If I've got to live to 100, that's the kind of guy I want to be.


Friend Dave H sent me a link to this video:

If the Segway had looked like that, it might not have been Number One on this list of Top Five Lame Gadgets.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

xkcd article

I was sure I had a post on this blog about xkcd, subtitled by artist/writer Randall Munroe as "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language". It's my favorite comic; it's consistently funny, sometimes surprising, and often challenging (I've had to go do research after reading this comic more than any other comic or book I've ever read). And I've had a link over there on the right for years. But I apparently never did a post about it, or, if I did, I can't find it now.

In any case, you should be reading xkcd every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Don't worry if you don;t always get it: it doesn't matter, and the more you read it, the more of it you will get (and, probably, the smarter you'll be).

I thought of this because I found a conversation with Randall Munroe on the Atlantic Magazine website. After I read the article, I was even more impressed with Munroe.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

pfw picnic, b(+-) ride

Well I was gonna do a B ride.

Regular readers will remember that I like to add miles to most of my rides, and today I drove to Bagel Street in Plainsboro, then parked behind Cliff H's office in the suites next door, and rode down to Mercer Park East, from which the all-paces rides before today's Princeton Freewheelers picnic were to leave. I got there early (another of my many besetting sins; I am chronically early) and Bruce K, leading a B ride, asked if I would sweep for him; I agreed of course (like Ado Annie in Oklahoma, I'm just a boy who can't say no).

There was a bit more wind today than most riders would consider absolutely necessary, and the group of eleven (including two on a tandem) got going at a frumious pace for the first several miles; one rider dropped off shortly after we arrived in Crosswicks. After yesterday's ride, I was having a hard time keeping up. It appears Bruce "leads" from the back of the group, often, and the group sets its own pace; Bruce catches up when there's a turn (the group apparently knows where Bruce usually likes to go). We did about 43 miles with the group, and didn't do a break, because we knew there would be food at the picnic (and it's not a bad idea to be among the first back for that kind of thing). Even though we were slower at the end (and we had to be, there was a significant headwind much of the way back), this was more than a B ride -- kind of a B-plus(minus) ride.

As is common for rides where the group runs ahead of the leader, we got separated, and once had to go back to catch a turn Bruce called - but when we got there, he wasn't; he'd gone back to help a rider who had a problem with a seatbag. We headed back to Mercer Park East, and, within  a short time, there was Bruce in our midst (and how did that happen?).

At the picnic, lots of food (of course), also old jerseys and bottles marked down to cheap (had I not ridden in, I would have stocked up on bottles) and other giveaways (including several bags of bike pins that the League of American Bicyclists had sent for the Princeton Event last month... that just got here; do you want any?). Also many people I've not seen for a while (yay!), but, of course, NOT a few of my favorite ride leaders, who are away (boo!).

A couple of new people came out today who have never don rides with the club (one had never done a group ride before!). Here's hoping we didn't scare them away.

Oh, yeah.  Here's the route.

Then back to Cliff H's parking lot, and home to chores. Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new.

castner murders ride pics

Ed sent me some pics from yesterday's Castner Murders Ride. Here's an excellent barn we saw:

Laura OLPH says she likes to ride the hills partly because of the views, probably like the one below.

Here's that Thisildous restaurant, along with the originator of CYIASTT. There's the Yellow Maserati in the background.

And Ed C, for whose adventurous ancestors the ride is named.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

castner murders/spruce run ride

Many of my favorite ride leaders are away this weekend, and friend Ed C has been agitating for me to do a ride with him, so when he asked if I wanted to go with him this weekend, I agreed. He sent me an email including this description:

The NJ crime of the 19th century seems to have been the 1843 'Changewater / Castner / axe' murders.  For some background, ... The three Castner victims, John and Mary Castner and their infant daughter Maria were killed at May 1, 1843 at the home of John B. Parke, Mary Castner's brother, in Changewater NJ.  John's brother Peter W. Parke and his alleged accomplice Joseph Carter were tried and found not guilty.  Public outcry, led by my great-great-great (some number of greats) grandfather, Jacob Randolph Castner, led to a second trial, at which double jeopardy somehow seemed not to apply, where the two accused were then found guilty and hanged in Belvidere, NJ.  Thousands attended the hanging.

This ride passes all of the major spots-  the murder house, the cemeteries of the victims and alleged perpetrators, the jail, courthouse, and hanging sites.

Well, how could you not do that?

As far as this being a killer ride, the elevation is predicted to be only about 4,000 feet- a goodly number, but not as bad as Jack Palis' 'Billy Goat 2.0' last Sat. (5,134 ft) or Tom Hammell's Schooleys Mt. ride (about 4,900 ft).  However, we need to be ready for the killer descent on Iron Bridge Rd, starting at 5.2 miles with a -15.5% grade listed at 5.7 mi.  About 500 feet of descent in 1.2 miles; this is one of the scary descents in NJ.

Iron Bridge Rd, eh? That one has a reputation. When I told Laura OLPH that we were going to do this, the one specific direction I got was to report back about Iron Bridge Road.

Here's the route and the stats. We went fast for a ride with this much elevation, and Ed, a better descender than I'll ever be, went much faster than I; his top speed was over 49mph.

But it wasn't on Iron Bridge. That road was a bit much for either of us. Ed didn't get above 39, and I didn't get above 35 – and both of us only did that at the bottom end, where we could see the terminus and where the grade flattened a bit. I don't have an inclinometer, but I'll bet many of those grades were over 20% (the 15.5% Ed showed is an average). Many times, I couldn't see where the road dropped away as the grade suddenly increased. And there is a short, one-lane bridge in the road.

Iron Bridge, though, was only a brief part of the ride. Before you get to it, there's a demanding uphill... and after Iron Bridge, there's a neat ride into Washington, and then into Belvidere (Ed showed me the road where the cemetery in question can be found).  In Belvidere, we stopped at the Thissildous Eatery for breakfast, where we had the most delightful young waitress (she seemed genuine, not with the underlying antipathy I've come to associate with Dixie politesse), and where the restroom has to be seen: between the door and the toilet is a wall-to-wall trap door that leads to the basement storage, so attending to the plumbing has to be coordinated with food delivery! It's my new favorite rest stop.

As we were paying, Ed showed that he kept his cash in his cell phone. I pulled out the sweat-resistant wallet my sister had bought for me as a gift, and told the staff I didn't ever want to be passing sweaty bills: “Can you imagine anything skankier than that?” Well, Ed just thought that was the best phrase ever; I'm sure, if he has anything to do with it, either the phrase or the initials CYIASTT will appear on my tombstone. We got miles of conversation out of that.

Washington and Belvidere both have Victorian buildings that have been well-preserved. There must have been money there once. Ed thinks it might be because the Morris Canal ran through that area.

On we went, faster than I've ever taken a ride with that much elevation. We did not do a formal rest stop after Belvidere, but we had to pull over to eat, drink, and rest, about 16 miles from the end. Ed got some pictures, and I took one of him; I'll post them when he sends them to me. (I haven't ridden these roads much, if ever, and they're beautiful. Demanding, but beautiful.)

We knew there was a tough climb before the end... what we had not counted on were what Laura would have called the “short, sharp shocks” in the last couple of miles before the parking lot. We were tired, and relieved, when we turned in.

Ed is going to agitate to make this a Hill Slug ride this fall. It's a great fall ride, partly because of the reduced heat (this would be wicked in the heat), and partly because the parking, which is expensive during the summer, is free after Labor Day. If the Slugs go, I'll definitely do it again. But we gotta plan a stop after Belvidere. (And can we stop at the Thisildous, please?)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

back to olde world bakery

Before I do this post, I have to say that that last post about the "Velominati Rules" has got me thinking. There will probably be a post soon about MY "rules", or maybe the "Anti-Rules". It may take several posts, and I'm sure there will be contradictions in them.

That said, today was my off-Wednesday, and I was glad to see, last evening, an email from Erich W about the Ride-To-The-Ride, with the inevitable terrible joke (they're almost a guarantee of authenticity that this is, indeed, an Erich W email) and the news that he planned to depart at 8:10. I got there early, after a couple of morning bagels, and joined, Erich, Al L, Mary F, and Don S for the ride to Allentown. I got to pulling, and saw only Al in my mirror for a while... and when I saw the others, they were way back, so I slowed, but I got a "Harrumph" from Al, and couldn't ignore the implicit challenge... so I continued to pull him at about 19-20mph to Allentown.

We did this route,going down to the Olde Worlde Bakery in Smithville, one of my favorite stops. We started with thirteen, and picked up the recently-married (like, this past weekend!) Larry C, who joined us on the way. In case I haven't made it abundantly clear, this is my favorite time of year, and even though I still can't decide if I'm too warm or too cold with what I'm wearing, both the temperature and the quality of the light made it a fun, beautiful ride.

On the way back, most of the group got ahead of leader Dennis W; for the last six miles or so of the main part of the ride, he changed the direction, cutting off, or "Spraguing", the rest of the ride (the name comes from Don Sprague, who is famous in the Freewheelers for doing mid-ride course changes to cut off people in front of him). One of the people who we cut off was Don himself... although some of the glee that we hoped would ensue was mitigated when we realized that none of the riders in front were aware that they had suffered this ignominy.

On the way back to Etra, the park from which the Ride-To-The-Ride leaves, we had a bit of a headwind, and I realized once again I hadn't eaten enough. My weight is still up a bit, and I haven't found the sweet spots for feeling OK but being at a reasonable weight yet.

Got home, and rebuilt the rear brake; the quick-release had been giving me trouble before I left. It works now - it just needed a cleaning and a bit of assembly grease (but be sure to keep the pads and wheel surfaces clean!).

Monday, September 17, 2012

the rules

Rule #1 // Obey The Rules.

Rule #3 // Guide the uninitiated.

Rule #7 // Tan lines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp.

Friend Dave H forwarded a link to this list of The Rules, from Velominati.

Rule #14 // Shorts should be black.

That one makes sense.

Rule #24 // Speeds and distances shall be referred to and measured in kilometers.

That one doesn't.

Rule #33 // Shave your guns. 

Nope. No way.

To see the rest of 'em, so you can decide which ones are important (Rule #5 // Harden The Fuck Up.) and which are not (Rule #11 // Family does not come first. The bike does.), check out the link above (opens in a new tab, of course).

Rule #4 // It’s all about the bike.

Sorry, Lance. I'm afraid they're right about that one.

all the king's horses

Laura OLPH tells me that most of my favorite ride leaders will be away next week. While I wish them a good time, I am sorry they will all be away, especially in view of the Freewheelers picnic next Sunday.

I had thought to try to get asked along next time they go, but first, I'm no good at taking time off from work, and second, I don't like to take a vacation on which The Excellent Wife (TEW) does not come along.

They deserve this time away together. I wish them clear skies, seasonable temperatures, and no interpersonal frictions. (Hrmph! If I were to go along, I could not guarantee this last would prevail!)

And I wish them adequate internet access so that Laura can blog about their exploits. (Pictures! We want pictures!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

on fire ride (not really)

So, as I wrote yesterday, Laura OLPH planned a ride that was flat and short for those of us who were recuperating, either from trauma (Ron S) or illness (me). We did this route. Laura and I started at her house and rode to Mercer Park East to pick up Ron, Pennsylvanians Joe M & Dave C, Tom M, Ed C, and new slug Mark (with whom I've ridden on some of Ira's rides).

I had no idea how to dress, and wound up a bit cold at the start with my single layer, long-sleeve jersey, and a little too hot at the end (arm warmers would probably have been a better idea). The route followed the 25-mile Ride for McBride route.

It was another beautiful day. This is my time of year, now through the end of autumn: the air is clear, cooler weather is coming; the light brings out the colors in a way that I never see in high summer.

We stayed together. At different times, different riders went off the front; no one person was obviously always ahead or pushing the pace. I had a lot of fun today.

But I'm tired now; I almost didn't do this post today (but I';m afraid I'd forget to if I put it off). On the way back, Laura said that she thought I was "on fire" and that the forced rest had been good for me. While it's true I was strong on the hills, and was able to pull into the headwind, I certainly don't feel "on fire" now. I'm planning an early-to bed tonight!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

recovery ride

After two weeks of being ill, I decided to take it easy today, and instead of doing a hilly over-to-Pennsylvania-and-back ride with Cheryl, I went on Ira's flat, low-pressure ride out of Cranbury; we did this route. The most important things about the ride for me:
  • I completed! AND I got two pretty good sprints in, one of which showed up on my Strava page;
  • I saw Ron S's new ride (which is handsome). Flat-black carbon Cannondale, with SRAM Red goodies. Nice. (Ron is the guy who went down a couple of months ago after the mysterious wheel dissolve; this is the first time I've ridden with him since then.)
  • I also saw Ken L, with whom I've ridden rarely since HIS accident over a year ago.
No extra miles on this ride, because I wasn't sure I was going to be able to complete even the regular route. I did forget my water bottles, and had to borrow one from Al L... and I was weak near the end for not eating enough. I've gained a few pounds that I just can't lose, and I haven't yet found the balance between eating enough to maintain the exertion of the ride, and eating little enough to get down to my goal weight. I also hammered out a nap this afternoon, and might hammer out another one.

Edit: What I didn't say when I wrote this, and what I meant to say, was that it was a beautiful day, and, although it was a bit cool to start, it was a great temperature for a ride (although there were headwinds on the way back). My limited recuperation from my illness did not interfere with that part of my enjoyment of the day.

Tomorrow, Laura OLPH has promised a flat 43 miles out of Mercer Park East. I may add some miles to that one; we'll see how I feel in the morning.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

cardboard bike to be produced

Remember that cardboard bike?

I see from this article on Good.Is that it's going into production.

From the article:
The all cardboard bike is shockingly durable: it can carry riders who weigh up to 485 pounds. A layer of coating atop the cardboard shields the bike from the elements and gives the finished product the look and feel of lightweight plastic. While the cost to make the bicycle ranges from nine to twelve dollars, the manufacturer expects to sell the vehicle for sixty to ninety dollars depending on the optional addition of an electric motor.

At $60, it's a cheap date. It does not have the advantage of being easy to fix and modify that metal bikes do - although, if it becomes as common as metal bikes are, that problem may disappear. Mostly, though, I think it's more a curiosity than a useful item.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

we are not made for the mountains

Original from Zen Pencils, on which I've found only one clunker, and a wealth of inspiration, and stuff to go learn more about. Check it out.

all he wants to do is...

At the end of the last post, I said I planned to drop off to sleep reading a novel. That happened, and similar things have been happening since.

Two nights ago, I got home from work, changed the sheets, and, while the sheets and towels were taking a quick ride in the washer, I took a nap. Then I got up, ate dinner, and put the sheets in the dryer, and took another nap. Then I got up, got the sheets back into the closet, and managed to stay awake just long enough to get to bed, where I slept until my alarm went off next morning.

I never sleep until the alarm goes off (it's set for 4:50 a.m., but I'm usually up by 4:00), but I have done so the last three mornings in a row. As I write this, The Excellent Wife (TEW) is due home from work in an hour, and I hope I can stay awake long enough to eat dinner with her!

I hate being sick.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

winter (?) maintenance, part 1

I am so tired of being sick, but I'm not well enough to ride yet. I wanted to do something bicycle-related, and a glance at my maintenance schedule shows the chain is overdue (2500+ miles). I popped off the old chain (a KMC DX10-SC), and, sure enough, there was "stretch" of 2-3mm compared to a new chain (a SRAM PC-1031; the astute bike mechanic will note that the common thread in these chains is: "cheap"). Probably should have changed it at 2000 miles, but a quick ride around the neighborhood (which is all I can handle right now) didn't show any evidence of cassette skipping.

While I had the chain off, I opened up the crankset and the bottom bracket. Still no water in there! I re-lubed and replaced the BB, and before I put the crankset back on, I decided to clean it up. Now there's a pain of a job - all those gears are sharp; the rag catches all over the place. And the mineral spirits I used only did a so-so job of getting the road grime off. The cranks are mechanically much improved, but they sure don't look new!

Also cleaned up the cogset. Park Tool sells a brush for this, but the scraper is made for a 9-speed cog, mine got hung up between the gears. The best way I've found to clean the cog is to spray it with degreaser (use a water-soluble one like Simple Green, or even one of the environmentally-friendly ones the bike shops sell), then cut lengths of cheap twine and run them between the cogs to loosen up the grime, then go over the whole business with a rag.

Then put the new chain on, and do a quick ride to make sure it shifts right and it's not skipping. On the way back, I noticed the front tire appeared low. It was: I usually keep the front at about 95 psi and the rear at about 110 psi. Today, after two weeks of neglect, they were at about 40 psi front and 60 psi rear. Hrmph. Looks like the Yellow Maserati doesn't take well to being ignored!

And I'm exhausted. I'm going to get back on the recliner and fall asleep reading a Terry Pratchett novel.

Friday, September 7, 2012

different planets

This might be reminiscent of some of the interactions between The Excellent Wife (TEW) and me... (and it was a click, not a creak).

I got it here.  Isn't Cloudfront the Amazon hosting service? So I don't know where it came from.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

ain't goin' nowhere this weekend

I've slept about five hours total since Monday; my throat feels like it's been cut; I went to my doctor's office today and the on-call guy said no drugs (more below); if I sit back or lie on my back, I get to coughing (which also hurts); and I'm spitting into the toilet because it hurts too much to swallow.

I'm not going to get to the McBride Ride on Saturday. I'll be happy if I can get back to work on Monday. (If one of youse does the ride, can you pick up my men's medium t-shirt? It's paid for...)

(The doc said no drugs for the sore throat, which is consistent with that WASP-y suffering that's so much a part of my makeup. He did suggest a Neti pot, which has provided some temporary relief, and non-medicated cough drops. I was hoping for a Lidocaine prescription, but no such luck.

(However, it turns out you have to use bottled, filtered, or boiled water in the Neti pot; there have been a small number of deaths worldwide blamed on a bacterium that opportunistically used the Neti pot flush to infect brain tissue. I started using water that went through our faucet filter, but I have since set aside a supply of water I boiled that I will reheat. But my bike riding is more of a threat than the Neti pot.)

Here's wishing youse-all a better weekend than I expect to have.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

labor day away, plus feverish & insomniac

The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I were up in Buffalo for the Labor Day weekend, visiting my mother and my sister. We had many plans, but last week, my mother had to get emergency gall-bladder surgery; I've written about that in an earlier post.

I had hoped to write more about that, but I came down sick up there, and have been sick ever since. I've had a total of less than seven hours sleep over the past three nights, my throat is sore, and I have aches and intermittent fever.

If I've done something to upset you in the past few days, please allow me to make it up to you when (if?) I get to a point where I'm more myself. In the meantime, I've been eating junk and doing stupid internet.

Monday, September 3, 2012

on personal limits and fiddlers elbow

The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I are just back from a trip to Buffalo to visit my mother (see the previous post), my sister, her husband, and several dozen of his relatives at a Labor Day barbecue held yesterday. But that's not what I'm writing about today.

While I was there, a few of my friends did a ride up Fiddler's Elbow (see ride leader Tom H's report, and Laura OLPH's witty report with play-by-play and color reporting.

After reading those reports, I had an epiphany in the shower yesterday morning: with my current setup, there's no way I can beat Fiddler's Elbow. Parts of the grade are about 20%, and when I get to a grade like that, I can't keep my front wheel on the road. So if I start a ride like that, I know I won't be able to complete the hill. I can do a short distance leaning way over the bars, but I can't ride for more than a few strokes like that.

My options appear to be:
  • Get a new bike, with a longer wheelbase, especially behind the saddle, so I don't overbalance backwards on a grade like that;
  • Go on the ride, knowing that having to walk up that steep hill is a virtual certainty;
  • Forego rides with long grades of that steepness.

I'm not going to get another bike (TEW has suggested another bike would mean a larger garage, and if I'm going to do that, we might as well get a bigger house with a new kitchen - so my next bike will cost me a mortgage), and I'd rather not start a ride I don't have the hardware to do. (I have no problem trying a ride that I might not be able to finish due to lack of strength or endurance - that's part of the challenge of riding - but the hardware is beyond my control, and not subject to change by training, weight loss, &c.).

So, Tom, Laura, Blake, and especially the successful Jeff X - while I applaud your efforts, I don't think I'll plan to do that particular hill. Thanks to you, for your experiences (and your valuable reports!) that let me know that this is beyond my current capabilities. And, should I find myself in a new home, with a three-car garage, housing (shall we say) a cyclocross bike with three more centimeters of chainstay length... well, perhaps then I'll try to Play the Fiddler. But probably not before that.