Winter Larry usually takes us past his grandmother's house for the ride before Thanksgiving, but this year he was taken by a road out in Marlboro about which (I think) he was talking with fellow rider Mark H. So instead of going to Bordentown and past the cranberry plant, we did this route out to Marlboro, to do Conover and Boundary Roads.
(The route, of course, includes the sixteen-or-so miles I add by parking at Cliff H's office, then riding a particularly circuitous route [although a flat one] to the start in Cranbury, making an eight-mile tour out of the four-mile door-to-door distance. The real start of the ride is near that knot in the Cranbury area, where the new Knapp's Cyclery outpost is.)
Eight of us started: Winter Larry and me, of course, and John and Jane on fixies (maybe the first fixie ride of the winter season; there seemed to be an excess of pre-ride preparation), a friend of theirs whose name either was or wasn't Witek (it's Polish: say VEE-tek), Mark H, club treasurer Peter F, and the Other Mark.
Although it was a cold day, we seem to have warmed quickly (there were, however, a number of warm hats and balaclavas in evidence; John pointed out that it might be a matter of interest having his image on a convenience store security camera in his face-covering gear). We rode straight out to Marlboro. Conover Road includes the Marlboro hills, maybe the most challenging hills on the flat side of Route 1. Witek and I got into a bit of a chase on these hills - that was fun, although once again I had to choke that competitive streak that leads me to do silly and dangerous riding. Boundary Road has a nifty long downhill the way we went, and that was lots of fun.
On the hills, I noticed a mechanical creak with each pedal revolution; Witek said he thought it might be cable (although it seems to have passed of its own accord). We also discussed my Polish relations, and it turns out he's Polish, too. Later, we discussed the sad state of Polish food in this country (which was a relief to me; I thought that such a vigorous people must eat better than the fare I'd seen -- my mother-in-law's cooking is excellent, but she's been exposed to too many influences, American and otherwise, for me to think that her cooking is authentic Polish). He also pointed out the kielbasa is a word, like our word "sausage", that includes many types of things, and he spoke with pity and disdain about American excuses for Polish kielbasa.
After the break, Mark H went home (he complained of a hard ride the previous day), and we went back with just enough variety to maintain interest (it's a challenge for these longer distances to get out and back in a reasonable time). Near the end, The Other Mark had a tire go out, and Larry and I waited for him. When we got to the ride start, the others had left; I'm presuming this means they were OK.
I had thoughts of getting 100km (62 miles) in today, but when I got to the car at 59 miles, I decided that was enough. It was cold, and I was tired. And so back home.
No ride yesterday due to family commitments, and with the holiday this weekend, I have no idea what time for riding will be available; I'm glad I got this one in.