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.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

abbreviated covered bridges ride

Yesterday, I was worrying about the weather for today's Covered Bridges ride. When I looked this morning, the NOAA weather site for the ride start location showed rain starting probably at 2pm, and the rumors at the gathering went anywhere from 11:30 am to 4pm. They were all wrong.

I had planned to ride with the Boys From the Hood, the Pennsylvanians Dave C, Joe M, Mike C and Shawn, and Bob, a rider from south Jersey whom I had not met previously. After deliberation about the prospects of the weather, and some whining about how we'd hate to give it up for a shorter ride if it turned out to be a nice day, we reluctantly agreed to do the was-gonna-be-33-miles-but-was raised-to-36-at-the-last-minute-because-of-road-conditions route. So off we went.

This being Bucks County, Pa, there were hills which started right away. We quickly broke into two primary groups: the young guns, Shawn and Mike, and the older guys; I spent time in both groups. Fall must have started earlier there than it did in Burlington County, because the colors had definitely started (although they are far from full). I remember Shawn as the guy who couldn't manage his bottle last January. He's now a rider to contend with. I tried to show him and Mike that I was faster on the hills than they, but I don't think I did; they're both strong and fast! And Dave, who was recovering from Legionnaire's Disease last year, whipped me on a hill, and was out front for a good part of this ride.

Here's the route. We had two stops along the route, and all three of the bridges on that short route were after the second. As was my experience last year, the Central Bucks club (the host of the ride) made us most welcome at the ride start and the stops, and stopped cross traffic on the busiest roads to let riders across (a real help on this hilly ride). And the t-shirt, of course, is the best one of the season.

The rain started shortly after we left the latter rest stop.  It was light but steady, and we proceeded gingerly on some of the downhills (which would have been spiffy screamers if the roads had been dry!). Although I wasn't really dressed for it (I had three layers on top, but only shorts), we were working hard enough that I was warm enough to finish (we did avoid the dirt path back to the start, figuring that it would be a morass of mud from the narrow tires riding through it). We stopped for lunch, and that was when I really got cold; I didn't warm up again until I got home ant took a long, hot shower.

To me, the unofficial "season" goes from the Tour de Franklin in late April/early May to this ride. While I still intend to ride on any day that the weather and my schedule permit, I think of rides between now and next spring as out-of-season "extras", almost as if I'm getting away with something. (And I'll be looking for a team to ride the Tour de Franklin in the spring, are you interested? Watch this space!)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

october burlington ride

Tom H led this ride out of the Muschal School today. Eight of us went, not all of whose names I got: Ron S, Laura, John (with whom I ride just frequently enough that I remember his face, but not usually his name), Steve (ditto), a woman whose name I did not get... and the guy who reminded me that he was on this ride pushing a hybrid (and doing a good job of it; he joked that he didn't know enough to know that he couldn't ride that heavy bike fast enough to keep up with a B ride... so he kept up anyway!).

Just on the cusp of fall today. The day started cool enough that I thought I would want arm warmers (and I was talked out of them), and ended up over 80°. The fall colors are just starting to come on; and it was clear and sunny until near the end of the ride, when the clouds started to come (as I write this, rain is threatening for the afternoon).

A couple of neat things: after we came through Browns Mills, there's an unpleasant left turn onto Juliustown Road. Tom put in a right to a Wawa for an early break, and then proceeded in the appropriate direction, making the despiséd left into a right. That worked really well, and I don't think he knew how neat of a move that was!

Mostly a flat ride... especially for me, because about ten miles from the end, I got two of them...flats, that is (now there's some terrible writing). I was going too fast to avoid a pothole, and got a matching set, front and rear, of compression punctures ("snakebite" flats). The gang pulled over, and Tom and Ron replaced my front tube, with a pump, in about half the time it took me to replace my rear, with CO2.

I've recently replaced my front brake pads with Kool-Stops, and after the tire replacement, I had a wicked squeal in the front brake. Here's what I had to do to fix it:
  1. Wipe the rim and the brake pads with acetone, which didn't work.
  2. Go to the internet, and read Sheldon Brown's page on brake squealing to learn that the problem is probably dirt or oil on the rim.
  3. Wipe the rim with Glass Plus, which didn't work.
  4. Wipe the rim with Simple Green Auto Formula, which didn't work.
  5. Read Sheldon's article again to see he recommends a brushing and rinse. Spray on Simple Green, get a brush, scrub the wheel, then rinse with a wet sponge. This almost worked, but not quite.
  6. Have an idea. Wipe the brake shoes with Simple Green, then wipe with the sponge to clean off the residue left there. This seems to have worked, and there doesn't appear to be enough residue to reduce the braking ability.
If I have the problem again, and can reduce the number or variety of these steps, you can bet I'll post it here.

I'm glad I got this in. I'm hoping to meet the Pennsylvanian Boys From The Hood (Dave C, Joe M, et alia) for the Covered Bridges ride tomorrow... but weather seems to be arguing against us!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

four-year-old does mad downhill

I'm a sucker for the cute kids (you may remember that video of the kid giving that epic speech after his first bike ride). Here's one of a four-year-old doing a descent with his dad: The audio is excellent.

One of the things I love about this is that the kid falls, and the dad treats it as a normal event.

This kid is already a better descender than I'll ever be.

Here's the Youtube page... but I got it from OurSignal.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

six kids, no suv

Al P sent me this story about a Portland, OR mom who's given up the SUV, and gets her six kids (and their friends!) around by bike.

From the article:
Biking with kids is all the rage in Portland these days, but biking with six kids between the ages of 2 and 11? That's something I never would have thought possible before I met southeast Portland resident Emily Finch.
Finch, 34, is a powerhouse. Watching her pedal her bakfiets cargo bike with four kids in the front, another one in a child seat behind her, and another one on a bike attached to hers via the rear rack, is a sight that not only inspires — it forces you to re-think what's possible.
You've gotta check out the story, if only for all the great pics I'm not stealing (yes, there are more), and so you can see the original of this:
There have been some embarrassing and trying moments for this biking family. As expected with kids, tantrums happen. Often it leads to one of them refusing to get into their seats. When that happens, Emily says bungee-cords are her savior.
"I have literally bungee-corded my 5-year-old to the back of the bike. He wouldn't get on. He was screaming and everyone was staring, so I stuck him on the seat and bungee-corded him in and just started pedaling really hard... He screamed all the way home."
She shared several stories like that.
Don't you wish you could have heard the other stories?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

that magellan guy

Regular readers may know that I spend way too much time reading webcomics. I've recently found a new one, about a (mostly) women's gym, called Promises, Promises.  Here's today's offering:

Of course it's too small; check out the original (new tab, of course).

There are some great characters: that gal on the right has a thing for firefighters, and there's a rich patron who's all about the oufits, and not at all about the sweat.