Tuesday, February 26, 2013

missing ride list

I'm a member of the Princeton Freewheelers, which may be the only club in the state (maybe in the Northeast) that doesn't list its rides on the website. Instead, members are dependent on a dead-tree newsletter and an emailed ride list for the ride announcements.

Today is February 26. There are two more days in this month, and I don't have either the dead-tree or the electronic version of the ride list. Weather suggests that both days this weekend might be OK for riding.

Where is the ride list? And why can't the club list the rides on the site? Is the club really going to lose that much money from freeloading riders who ride but don't pay the annual $20? (It strikes me that we have their phone numbers on the ride lists; we could hire goons to go harass them if it's that important.)

This is dumb.

Edit 2/27/13: The email list was in my inbox this afternoon when I got home from work. Laura OLPH will have a ride, and Ira will run one out of Cranbury; there are others, of course. Let me know if you need me to forward you the list; I save it as a .pdf and I can link to it in my Dropbox account. (Should I just do that every month?)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

trick trike

This was another one of those ideas where I initially said, "...dumb", but I've rethought it. After all, if a bike isn't fun, what's the point?

It's a trike, with a 3:1 crank/hub gearing, and two small wheels in the back. The gearing means that you don't have to spin the pedals like a cartoon character to get that front wheel turning at a reasonable speed. The whole cranks-and-front-wheel assembly can turn.

Note the rider's right hand on what appears to be a handle by that tiny back wheel. Here's a better look:

Steerer on the right, red-handled wheel lock (for standard tricycle action) on the left. From the original article on Gizmag:

"We wanted the ONDA to be extremely agile so we used caster wheels, like you'd find on a grocery cart, for the back two wheels," Tyler Hadzicki told Gizmag. "The real break-through was attaching a handle to one of the swivel wheels so that it could be controlled independently of the front wheel. Moving the handle precisely moves the back half of the bike. Push hard enough and you'll go into a spin."... The steering mechanism was patented in September 2011, and followed a year later with another broader patent that's an extension of the first. When the rear wheels are locked in forward position, the ONDA trike is steered like any other three-wheeler... by turning the front wheel using the anodized aluminum handlebars. Releasing the wheel lock on the left gives the rider control of both back swivel wheels using the handle to the right.
With the ability to turn both front and rear wheels, riders can do drifts and precision turns.

The small rear wheels mean you need near-perfect pavement; I think they're eventually going to need to move to larger rear wheels, but there will be a trade-off between the size of the wheels and the ease with which they can be controlled. I don't think I have the balance to put one of these through its paces, but they do look like wicked fun, under the right circumstances.

There is, of course, a Kickstarter page.

Go check out the original article, with video. And, of course, thanks to Dave C. who forwards me the Gizmag email, I could get it myself, but then how would I know what's happening with Dave?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

more on calories

Via Oursignal (basically, the top postings on Reddit), from Imgur, comes this series of 37 pictures of what 200 calories looks like.

I'm not surprised that the celery completely obliterates the plate...

...or that just eight Hershey Kisses fills up 200 calories.

But I thought Splenda might be one of those things that you get away with for free. Evidently not!

And that half of a Jack-in-the-Box cheeseburger is just pathetic. Those Five Guys burgers that I wolf down must be monstrous!

Go check out the Imgur album. I found it eye-opening. (And it ruined my appetite.)

athletes & calories

Over at this page on Visual.ly they've got a graphic on how many calories Olympic athletes burn; if it's still up, it should show below:

Well, where there are numbers, there is arithmetic. How many calories per second are they doing, over how long?

  • Michael Phelps: 0:01:54, 35 calories, .307 cal/sec
  • Gabby Douglas: 0:01:38, 23 calories, .235 cal/sec
  • Usain Bolt: 0:00:19, 10 calories, .526 cal/sec
  • Misty May-Treanor: 1:14:00, 1094 calories, .246 cal/sec
  • Stephen Kiprotich: 2:08:00, 2600 calories, .339 cal/sec

While Bolt gets the ribbon for highest effort, my hat is off to May-Treanor, and especially Kiprotich, for sustained effort. I'm sure both athletes had peaks and valleys during their performances, but to sustain those levels of effort over those times is an achievement.

(And Gabby Douglas may seem like a slug in this comparison... but how would any of us compare in such a table?)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

slow & cranky

I work a nine-days-in-two-weeks schedule, and to make the 70 hours for the two weeks, I work eight days of eight hours and one day of six hours. Yesterday was one of my six-hour days, and as it was sunny and 50° when I got home, I did the home-to-Coppermine-and-back loop. (For those of you who don't know, Coppermine Road in Griggstown has a section where it rises between 300-400 feet in about .8 mile, which is a steep enough climb for a training ride.) I started out strong, but choked on the uphill. Then, on the down hill on Old Georgetown (where I can usually make up a bit of the average speed I lost on that benighted climb), I choked due to wet roads and feelin' rusty, and didn't get up much over 34mph. I tried to make it up on the flats, but my average before the cool-down was only 18.1 (I've twice done it at 19, but those days may be gone...).

I had been looking forward to a ride with Laura OLPH and the Hill Slugs for today. The weather prediction early in the week was for weather today like what we actually got yesterday, but as the weekend approached, the forecast got worse, with 50% chance of snow and cold. There was some suggestion that the Slugs might ride later in the day. The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I have a date this afternoon, and I was excessively grumpy over the possibility that the Slugs might go out, and I wouldn't be able to join 'em because of the prior engagement; I'm afraid I was not good company last evening.

Laura made the decision this morning to cancel the ride,and while I'm sorry they didn't go, I'm not sorry that they didn't get a ride in without my being along! (TEW and I have decided that I ride by myself for speed, and I ride with others for friendship and/or camaraderie.) And with time, and weather enough to go out, I did the Coppermine loop again, hoping to improve yesterday's effort.

I did, but not by much, which I'm blaming on cooler temps and more wind. Today I didn't include either the warmup of the cooldown, and while my average of 18.4 is better, it's still not where I'd like to be. I can really feel that I haven't been on the bike much in the past two months.

Laura has plugged in a ride for next weekend, and I'm hoping that scheduling and the weather allow. I miss the people I ride with.

SHAMELESS PLUG: I'm leading a team for the Tour de Franklin metric Century at the end of April. I've got seven riders so far, some of whom I've ridden with a gazillion times, and two of whom I'm not sure I've ever met! We had a great time last year, and, weather permitting, I'm hoping for another good time this year. If you're interested, go sign up, then put a comment in my original post about the ride. I'll get back to you with details.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

almost completely unsatisfactory ride.

I had off for Lincoln's Birthday today, and with temps around 40° and no rain or snow, I hoped to get a ride in - in fact, I hoped to do two of the routes I'm planning to do as "D" rides with The Excellent Wife (TEW) and the Freehweelers this summer. So I copied the routes into the GPS and drove off to Cranbury this morning.

However, the .gpx file for one of the routes just choked the GPS unit; it took over ten minutes before the route showed onscreen. By that time, I had started out, going the way I thought I was supposed to go... but that didn't work, it turned out that part of the route was on the way back, and the GPS gave me instructions how to get back to Cranbury. I soldiered on, and discovered a route (about 12-13 miles) from Cranbury to the Mendoker's Bakery in Jamesburg, which TEW thinks is just fine, but I think will be too short. I see I'll need to set up cue sheets for these routes, and not depend on the GPS.

I did the route twice; the second time to make sure I got the mileage right. What I had not counted on was the wicked wind coming from the southwest - I thought I was just that strong going out at 21-22 mph, but I was coming back at about 13 where I was going up over the NJ Turnpike, and I didn't gain much speed on the downhill. I did that twice. I'm not the brightest guy you ever met.

The thirty-or-so miles I did was enough for today (partly because of my disappointment, and partly because I find riding alone is a drag). It turned out I needed to clean the chain and do an adjustment when I got home, and when I hung the bike from the ceiling hooks, it was so filthy that I also gave the whole thing a good cleaning and another polish.

I guess it's good that I now have two routes to Mendoker's, we can do the shorter one one time and the longer one another.(I plan the first D ride to be a ride up the D&R canal path from 518 to Amwell and back; get your wide tires out!)

So, experienced ride leaders: is there a quick way of making cue sheets from rides on MayMyRide or RideWithGPS? And how do you get a ride in the book, anyway? Do you just email the announcement to the ride coordinator for the class?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

tour de franklin

The sign-up page for this year's Tour de Franklin is up. The Tour, scheduled for April 28, is one of the earliest charity rides of the season, and is the largest fundraiser for the Franklin Township Food Bank. I've started a team to ride the 62-mile metric century; Laura OLPH and Dave C have already signed up and indicated their interest in riding on the team (they actually got their registrations in before I did).

You can see the ride report from last year's ride, and a post with some additional pictures. The route doesn't change much, so you can get some info about the route from that page (there's a link to my Garmin page with elevations and a map). I've asked that the Princeton Freewheelers send out an email blast to solicit possible riders, so you may get another request if you're on that email list. I'll also be asking the Freewheelers for the additional donation from the by-laws for this ride.

The ride has an early start, and I will plan to start when the ride goes. Last year, there was a threat of mutiny over the start time, and I hope to forestall that this year; the time is set by the administrators, not me (although those of you who know me know that I'm an early-mornin' kind of guy).

I had fun last year. I hope you'll come along. If you want to ride, email me, or note in the comments. I'll also put up reminders in future posts.

training night pics

Regular readers, and folks who know me (are there any of you who are NOT in both groups?) may remember that I volunteered for a while at the Trenton Boys & Girls Club Bike Exchange, until I found I was spending more time commuting than actually fixing bikes.

Well, an enterprising young gentleman, with administration skills that I manifestly lack, is starting a bike exchange in New Brunswick, in my virtual back yard. This one will support the Puerto-Rican Action Board, an organization that provides a host of services at this end of Middlesex County. On Thursday night (Feb 7, 2013), there was a Mechanics Training class for volunteers; I went, as did Ed C, who's ridden with me frequently. The organizer-fellow put a few pictures up on his Facebook page, and I'm linking a few of them here.

Brian, the organizer, above in the Patagonia t-shirt.

Some of the volunteers. That gal on the left brought a nifty bike with a three-speed-internal-gear hub that baffled at least two of us when we couldn't get it to shift right.

That fellow up there, facing you in the off-white t-shirt, was schoolin' me in disk brakes for bikes. He certainly sounded like he know what he was talking about.

That red shirt-back on the left above is actually me. Do I really have a bald spot like that?

Ed C and I, teaching a young woman about the right way to put in a quick-release. We later had a discussion about chain lubes; Ed is partial to the dry-with Teflon variety, while I was holding out for Vaseline & cooking oil. (And is that a Tour de Franklin t-shirt he's got on?)

They're hoping for a grand opening next month in April, with a "soft" opening (I don't know what it means either) a bit earlier. I'm eager to get started. They're hoping for hours on Saturdays and Tuesday nights, so I suspect I'll have a regular Tuesday night date come summer.

As news arrives; I'll post it. You might want to come spin a wrench every now and again!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

thoughts on the shoveling of snow

Biologist J.B.S. Haldane either did or didn't say, of what we can know about God,
If one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator, if He exists, from a study of creation, it would appear that God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles.
This "quote" (if it is one) came to mind today as I was shoveling about eight inches of snow off the driveway and The Excellent Wife (TEW)'s car, and then shoveling out my car from where it had been plowed in. Because it strikes me that if one wanted to draw a conclusion about the Creator, if one exists, from a study of creation, it would appear that God is very interested in beauty; it seems to be all around us, on all manner of scales of size and time. But I see no evidence in the least that God cares at all about such things as safety, comfort, or convenience. We humans may be interested in such things... but, at every opportunity, nature sets her legions to disrupt and destroy them.

I'm tired, I ache. The snow is inconvenient (at best) and dangerous (mostly). It is already starting to go, and I am grateful; I have had enough.

(Two other things: first, I'm sure some will think I'm out of line with the tenor of this post, as I make no secret of the fact that I'm an atheist.  Second, I am enamored of the good Dr. Haldane for a quote that is reliably his:
I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
It's from Possible Worlds and Other Papers [1927], p. 286)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Much more gracefully than I could have said it. Sometimes, a picture really is worth...

From today's Oddman.

Monday, February 4, 2013

glove signal lights

I'll admit, I initially thought , "dumb...", but the more I think about these, the better I like 'em. They're bicycle gloves for commuters with turn signals. From the article on the Atlantic Cities website:

The "Early Winter Night Biking Gloves," created by Vienna-based tech artist Irene Posch, tackle this safety issue with a design ripped straight out of Tron. These futuristic fashion accessories are made from felt or knitted wool and are studded with 3-millimeter LEDs arranged into the shape of arrows...

Preserving the look and feel of normal gloves, LEDs showing a turn signal light up when the hand is stretched out and a fist is formed, a strong signal for following cars...
My only problem with 'em is that too many riders don't even get out of the way of traffic behind. Would anybody use these?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

not going blind today

Yesterday was an early-dismissal-Friday for me (I work an unnecessarily-complicated nine-days-in-two-weeks schedule, which results in eight days of eight hours and one day of six hours), and a new handlebar* had appeared in the post, so I took some time in the not-quite-frosty garage yesterday to install it. This required installing all new cables, so it was quite a process. While I was doing it, I noticed what appeared to be shooting stars in the right side of my peripheral vision. They persisted through the night, and when they were still there at oh-dark-thirty this morning the first time I arose, I did a bit of internet research to see what they might be.

I looked at a few sites, and most of them said the same thing: they are probably nothing to worry about, especially for the over-fifty-and-mildly-hypertensive (a class to which I undoubtedly belong)... but they could be the first sign of a detaching retina, leading to blindness (some sites were a bit more hysterical in tone). So this morning, The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I went off to Princeton Eye Group, where she gets her eye exams, to see if they could fit me in. They did, and, after getting drops in (and I am no easy eye patient), the doc did my exam and said I had no real problem, and the new lightshow was a result of aging and hypertension. She said it as professionally as she could, being young enough to be my daughter and all.

I decided two things:
  1. If the only way to avoid this kind of thing is to die at an age younger than I currently am, I am willing to take these unpleasantnesses as the cost of continuing to survive (for now, anyway); and
  2. It's time to start going to a real ophthalmologist. I've been getting my eyes checked at an optometrist, but I've apparently gotten to the point that I need to have a real MD looking at 'em.  TEW is delighted that I'm giving up on what I've come to refer to as "Jiffy-Lube eyecare".
I wasn't riding today anyway, and I'm glad I went. I'm not the only guy I know who hates going to the doctor, partly because of the fear that somebody with a labcoat on is going to get an attitude about my wasting his time with my petty complaint. I've been walking around the house saying, "So, TEW... I'm not going blind today."

I guess I was more worried than I thought I was.

*I am so taken by, and so jealous of, that Mercian about which I recently posted, that I yielded to the temptation (which I fought off for more than a year) to buy myself a Velo-Orange Gran-Cru handlebar, for no other reason than the shiny bling. Even despite my cheapness, sometimes I cannot withstand the need for some pretty.