Saturday, March 30, 2013

chocolate bunny ride

Every year, on the Saturday before Easter, Laura OLPH does a ride yclept the "Chocolate Bunny Ride". The route is one she set up before she got as strong as she is on the hills, so, while it's over 50 miles, it's that long because it goes into the Sourlands on the way out, then circles around them on the way back.

The route I recorded included our rides (Laura's and mine) to and from the ride. It was a total of 100km, even though I didn't record quite that much; I turned the computer on and off a little distance from her house.

Here are some of the ways you know it was a real Hill Slugs ride:
  • Almost all of the fifteen riders who started already knew one another, and had been on Slug rides before. There were one or two newcomers.
  • Despite the fact that Laura included the "we don't drop anybody" clause in her introductory speech, one rider rolled off before the halfway point. Three others took a shorter route home from the break (in Laura's defense, she had announced that she would have cue sheets for that route available).
  • One of the newbies was one of the riders who took the shorter route.
  • There was one point at which we had not one, but two U-turns to stay on the route.
  • We had riders with a range if different abilities...
  • Nonetheless, we caught up at intersections, and mostly stayed together. Those of us with competitive tendencies were mostly able to keep them under wraps. amicitia quam celeritate.
I'm sure I won't be able to remember all of the names: Cheryl, Ron S, Dave H, the Boys from The Hood in Pennsylvania (Little Joe, Dave C, and Shawn R) who brought the newbie Pat, John & Jane D, Mighty Mike, Peter, Bob... and one other (sorry!) [edit 3/31/13: the other is an occasional Slug named Joe joined Laura and me at Pennington. Shawn is a few weeks away from having a baby; we're glad his wife let him out, and we expect to see him again in about ten years!

It's called the Chocolate Bunny Ride because Laura gives chocolate bunnies to all the riders who finish. On her site, she had this picture of the bunnies for the extra-milers:

... but I assure you, none of the bunnies were large enough to need a scaffold to manage. I have the sweet-tooth of a four-year-old, and I was just that little bit disappointed. (OTOH, I've got about three or four pounds that I just haven't been able to lose, so perhaps Laura was doing me a favor.)

gay marriage a conservative value

I get a weekly newsletter with pieces about the follies of my fellow humans called "This Is True".  In this week's issue, he includes a link to his blog post about gay marriage, including some video by Fox News that gay marriage is a conservative value.

I must admit to some ambivalence. On the one side, if allowing conservatives to say that gay marriage is a conservative value gets gay marriage approved, the ultimate outcome is a good thing.

But the arrant mendacity of that comment infuriates me.

Friday, March 29, 2013

early season old guys ride

Today is Good Friday, and that's a holiday for many here in Central Jersey. The predicted weather was good for a ride, but, taking no chances, Old Guys Leader Dennis W sent out an email blast last night (after your correspondent was abed) pushing the time back from 9 to 10:30. By that time, the temps were above 40F; I could get away with only three layers instead of my usual four, and by the ride home, I had take off my full-finger gloves and my inner layer was soggy.

I was up early, as I usually am,and improved upon the time by driving out to Cranbury to make sure I finally got this route down (I intend to use if for one of my "D" rides this summer). For some reason, I could not find the turn onto Union Valley Road; I finally decided to ride part of the route backwards to see where it came out. That did the trick; now I can do the route. (I'm really not kidding when I say I can get lost in the living room if someone rearranges the furniture.)

After that, I parked in Cranbury, and rode the seven-or-so miles to the regular ride start at Etra. I was running behind, and I did that part at an average of about 18.5mph, impressing leader Dennis W, who passed me in his SUV on the way to the park ("Was that you I passed? How fast were you going, 35?"). At the start, riders just kept coming in, until there were 22 of us at the time we left. Some I had not seen since last year, and at least two had stories of new (to me) health problems they were dealing with.

We did this route. Leader Dennis, taking into account the winds (as other leaders who start rides in that area don't always), led us into the wind for the early part of the ride, so we went up to Pierre's (which is only a short distance from my house), and we were not far from where I parked in Cranbury in either direction.

It was clear that for some of the guys, this was an early-season ride, and they didn't have their bike legs yet. While many appeared to have maintained good shape over the winter, some started strong and tired out; others were lagging from the start. I did my self-appointed sweep duty, and made sure everybody got to Georges Road, where they could get to Pierre's... then I "burned some sugar" and zipped ahead.

Shortly after we left the stop, Al L got a flat in his tubular tire. Every time I see Al try to change a tire, I'm reminded of why I don't want to ride tubulars; today was no exception. It took four of us to get the tire off the wheel (Q: "How many Freewheelers does it take to change a tire?" A: "How many have you got?"). Al said this was a function of the low ambient temperature... all I know is that I'm the worst tire changer I know, and I can do my clinchers better than he did that tubular.

Then back to Etra. I stayed behind with a rider who was lagging. We got separated from the group (we found two who told me to tell Dennis they were leaving the ride), and took the straight route back; we got into Etra before some of the main group, who had taken a longer route. I said my goodbyes, and rode back to Cranbury -- but, hungry and tired (I'd had only coffee at the stop), and into the wind, I didn't go anywhere near as quickly back to Cranbury as I had come, on my own, earlier.

OK. Bike clothes are in the dryer, and I'm looking forward to the Chocolate Bunny Ride tomorrow. I wanna see about that "extra milers bunny" (oh, go check out the link).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

red for marriage equality

I saw this on Laura OLPH's blog today. I recognized the logo, but not the colors, from the Human Rights Campaign, to which we have been donating since the murder of Matthew Shepard.

My wife and I married with no intention of having children. If gay marriage is wrong, then our marriage, and every marriage of people too old to have children, and every marriage of people unable to have children, and every marriage of people who do not intend to have children, is also wrong.

It is time -- it is long past time -- for these anti-gay laws to be overturned the way the miscegenation laws were overturned, and for the same reason.

Monday, March 25, 2013

and that was wonderful

I got it from Oursignal. The image is on Imgur, and I have no idea where the original is from.

I need to remember that stuff in my daily dealings with TEW.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

palm sunday slow ride with winter larry

After fighting the wind yesterday, I didn't have legs enough to add extra miles to Winter Larry's scheduled ride today (although I did reconnoiter a route that will probably become a D ride over the summer). I got to the start to meet seven, then eight, then ten others... and no Larry! Peter F started a ride sheet in case Larry didn't show, but before the third rider could sign, Larry drove in, a bit late and apologetic for his tardiness.

Twelve of us total: besides Larry, Peter, and me, there were John & Jane D, Ron S, Mark H, Dave H, Phil, Bob, and two who are new to me, Alex and Fran. We did this route. I call it a slow ride, but I remember now that we started at a great fast pace, then some slowed down, surely from politeness (it couldn't be that, this early in the season, we didn't have the stuff to keep the pace up!). Still, there were a couple of nifty roads towards the bottom of the route where the newbie, Alex, and I were swapping paces (he was STRONG! But he was not fiercely competitive; just enough to keep it interesting, and we really did pace each other for a while).

We stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts, and John D got a work-related call, and he and Jane dropped off the ride, so we were down to ten... for about two stop signs, when up behind us come John and Jane! John was evidently able to manage the situation enough by phone to complete the ride.

We were definitely slower on the way back; some of our number were lagging (one had fallen [though he didn't seem to hurt himself badly]; another complained of a hard ride yesterday - and I know the name of THAT tune!). The new Bob and I each took a turn sweeping on the way back (I remember him from a Hill Slugs ride a few months ago - thanks for taking the sweep turn!), but our speed on the return was far slower than on the way out. Larry revised his route to minimize the wind, and I think it helped.

No ride next Sunday; about 10% because it's Easter, and about 90% because The Excellent Father-In-Law is celebrating his 89th birthday. As much as I like to ride, that birthday trumps!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

first not-quite metric century

Well, mark this day with a white stone. Laura OLPH has gotten her post about today's not-quite-a-metric-century ride up before I (go read it). The only thing I want to add is the link to the route (it includes my take-your-life-in-your-hands route from Plainsboro to Etra, and her windy-enough-to-blow-the-sins-off-your-soul route back).

I'm doing the post-ride laundry, and nursing my poor, tired, wind-abused legs.

Go read her post, if for no other reason than to get your retinas blown off by the print samples from the jazzy new tights and leggings she's ordered.

And come do the Chocolate Bunny ride next week, if the weather holds.

carbon fiber guitar

I'll post later about today's ride.

I was stumbling around the web today, and came across this article from Wired Magazine about a workshop where people could make carbon fiber guitars. A million years ago, in a previous life, I played guitar (barely acceptably), and in high school and college I played electric bass (well enough that I was in almost every band in my tiny college, including the bands for the musical productions), so I was intrigued.

It's a good article, with a neat video; I recommend you check it out. I haven't figured out how to drag non-Youtube videos so they play in this blog, so, instead, below find a video about a reduced-size carbon-fiber guitar with a remarkably good sound:


I got it at Oddman.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

weekend plans

Tom Hammell, author of Road Biking New Jersey, is leading a ride on Saturday out of Etra.

I'm not sure where we will be going but plan on doing about 45 miles at an easy B pace. We will meet at Etra Park at 10 am.

Good enough for me. Hope to see you there.

on a dare

Laura OLPH found an article about this coffee and sent me an email including only the words, "I dare ya...", and the link to the news article.

From the article:

"I always had customers coming in asking for our strongest and boldest roast," he said. I had to go through the process every day of explaining to them that dark roasts were actually the least caffeinated. This began my journey for finding and roasting the Death Wish bean and after many trial and error processes I found it. The type of blend, bean and roasting process we use makes Death Wish Coffee the strongest in the world."
 So is it the strongest because it's the darkest, or the most caffeinated, or both?

I just went to the doctor for my physical yesterday; he tells me my tremor is probably not Parkinson's, but a "Benign Essential Tremor". We're going to "keep an eye on it". D'ya think I should test it?

(And, in reality, I have no interest in this stuff. The coffee I like best, frankly, is Dunkin' Donuts; to me, the standard Starbucks blend tastes burnt and overbrewed. But the coffee I like, I like a lot; I go through 24 oz. most days, and up to 48 oz. for an occasion. And I like it with cream, sweetener, and, when I make it myself, cinnamon. Coffee snobs, be d-mned to you.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

friend doing nj tour de cure

Cliff Hochberg, who lets me park behind his office when I'm riding out of Cranbury, is doing the Tour de Cure. He's soliciting donations.

I donated. I don't ride the Tour de Cure because the expected donation amount is so high, but I respect that he does ride it, and I'm glad he can get the donations.

Minimum donation is $5. Give up a cuppa coffee and go help diabetes research.

Monday, March 18, 2013

more gadgetry

Friend Dave C sends over the weekly Gizmag post (that's how I know he hasn't been riding much). He was taken with this sealed gearbox, eliminating the need for a derailleur (which can be a liability on bikes with hard use, such as some mountain bikes):

But the thing that nailed me was this chair that self-destructs after eight uses:

Theres excellent video on the site, but Blogspot won't let me embed it.

I find the chair intriguing, partly because I'm the owner of a Barnes & Noble Nook. I have hundreds of dollars invested in the device, and the books to read on it... but I keep reading about B&N and financial problems, and I wonder if I'm going to lose access to my books. We accept limitations on the uses of music, games, and books, and don't seem to question them... and this project moves that discussion into the hardware space. What would we do if a book, or a CD, disintegrated after eight uses? Or if we gave it to a friend?

(My father, who was an author, was inflexible about copyright... but he was almost undoubtedly wrong.)

Further, the ability to make money from something changes, and SHOULD change, when the surrounding technology changes. The same low-wage Republicans who fight for big-business copyright now, will not support railroads (which I, and most other countries, consider a public good), because rail has been replaced by newer automotive technology. (I don't think it's better, and I'm sure that without the subsidies that go to the fossil fuel industries, it would not be cheaper... but it is newer.)

Go check out that video, not for the eight Eurotrash hipsters who sit on the chair, but for the slow melt at the end of the wax joints.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

cold but beautiful st. pat's ride

I would have thought that today would be the warmer of the two weekend days, based on the weather prediction, but, despite the snow yesterday, today sure felt colder. I'm not sorry I didn't add extra miles today, although it was Laura OLPH who initially suggested it might be too cold to do so; I had a thought this morning, before we left, of adding some miles at the end, but neither of us wanted to do that when we got back to the cars.

We did this route.  Just four today: Mark H joined Winter Larry and the two of us; Ed C is otherwise engaged.  We decided to keep it a bit short, but Larry wanted to try out a new road in (I think) Jackson. NJ Bike Map showed Patterson Road as green outlined in yellow, which, according to the key, means "...scenic roads. Few or no houses, farmland or forests", but it was mostly dirt (sand) when we went over it, to a depth of at least two inches (my tires were cuttin' through about that far). We won't go down THAT again soon... and, while I've generally heard good words about the NJ Bike Map, Winter Larry said he'd sent more than one correction to the editor-fellow and hadn't heard back yet.

That region got much more snow than we, and it was a beautiful ride. At one point, Laura stopped to take a picture (and her camera was so cold it took time for it to warm up, but check her blog in a few days to see if she's posted any pics). So there was some reward for the cold. I'm going to risk both boring you to tears and broadcasting my egotism and arrogance by quoting myself:
...[I]t 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.
But now back home and dry, with the bike clothes in the dryer (except for the fleece, the wool, and the Lycra; don't machine-dry those), and gearing up to go back to work tomorrow. The Excellent Wife (TEW) has arisen from her nap; I'm about to go see how her day is going. Life, as I sometimes say, is good.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

caught in the snows of march

The weather prediction was iffy, I'd promised a date to The Excellent Wife (TEW), and I'd misread the open hours on the website of the Princeton University Art Museum for their show about the African Presence in Renaissance European Art...

... but I woke up at my usual 4:30 am, checked the Art Museum times again, and saw we could go later, so TEW suggested I get a ride in this morning (I am a LOT easier to deal with when I'm doing frequent club rides). An email from Laura OLPH indicated that she was planning a short ride anyway, so I showed up outside her door at ride-to-the-ride time (to her surprise) and off we went to Pennington to pick up the other five riders: Cheryl, Ed C, Dave H, Peter, and Ron. Laura announced she had cobbled together a route that kept us not too far away, so we could hustle back if the weather turned.

It turned out to be this route.  I liked it a lot, partly because it was nifty roads local to Princeton, and partly because Laura gave us a tour of part of the University campus (and we terrorized annoyed some of the students as we were riding through, which was an ancillary benefit). You can see part of the tour if you zoom in on the zig-zagginess between Alexander Road and Washington Road.

We broke at the Main Street Cafe in Kingston, where I like the coffee (and TEW likes the mocha lattes enough to make a special trip)... and when we came out, there was the odd snowflake. We opted for a straight, quick route back. It wasn't enough; the snow got worse, and I was covered with snow by the time I got back to Laura's. TEW has been trying to persuade me that it's a sign of how obsessed I am. I've been trying to persuade her that it was a reasonable miscalculation, but I think she's winning the argument.

As for the art show: as is true for most of the shows I've seen either at the museum or the library, it was not huge, but very good. There's a study by Rubens on a piece of written-on paper that he covered with gouache and then apparently crayoned on a man's head and turban; you can see the written lines through the drawing. The drawing just rocks. There are other neat pieces in the show, too. If you have the least little bit of interest, go check it out.

Friday, March 15, 2013

why long-distance cycling works

The subtitle of this article on the Slate website is "Why nearly every sport except long-distance running is fundamentally absurd", but I think the argument in the article makes long-distance cycling (say, over 50 miles) make sense, too.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

eyes in the back of your helmet

If not eyes in the back of your head, this helmet puts cameras all the way around it. Laura OLPH forwards this link about a helmet designed "to make sure hit-and-run drivers get caught":

It's got seven cameras designed to catch video of the car that bumps you off the road. One version has an accelerometer that sets the cameras going at the moment of impact.Chaotic Moon is supposed to be "in talks with major helmet manufacturers about licensing the product."

Laura writes, "I'd go for it if it had more vents."

I'm not sure what I think. You?

a sign of hope.

OK. I exercise six or seven days per week, and when I don't ride for at least 20 miles, my routine consists of a series of indoor exercises. Exercise, as you're probably aware, is immensely boring, and to pass the time, I download various podcasts to listen to during the ordeal.

One of the podcasts I get is Steven Pollie's 7th Avenue Project, a production of KUSP radio (which also produces another of my regular exercise podcasts, GeekSpeak [and yes, The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I do support KUSP financially]).

I'm several weeks behind in listening to some of these podcasts, and the one I heard today is about a book by Steven Pinker called The Better Angels of Our Nature:

In the book, Pinker provides statistical evidence that, over the course of history, human violence is dropping. He brings in murder, war, torture -- even care for animals, and he points out that even the huge death toll of the Second World War, while an outlier, is not outside statistical explanation. (There's even a distant reference to one of my favorite pet obsessions, Dunbar's Number.)

I know that few of you check out most of these outgoing links, but this was cool. It's an hour-long podcast, and it's available either for streaming or for download. I found it fascinating... and hopeful.

Monday, March 11, 2013

retirement home

From friend Dave C comes this article in this week's Gizmag. It might be my retirement home.

(That's what I get for working in human services for thirty years!)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

neat new rest stop on winter larry ride

I am a sucker for people treating me nicely. I'm also a sucker for earnest young people trying to make a go of a new family business. A couple of cute barely-in-high-school age gals behind the counter who give me a big smile ain't a bad idea, either. We stopped at a new rest stop on Winter Larry's ride today: the Stonebridge Bagels & Deli, 1278 Yardville-Allentown Road in Allentown (in the Olde Tavern Plaza), and I was so smitten that I may have to learn navigation, just so I can lead some rides there and we don't have to stop at the dratted Clarksburg place all the time.

Oh, yeah - I guess I could write about the ride, too. I couldn't make time for a post-ride ride today, so I decided I was going to drive to the start, then ride to Bagel Street in Plainsboro, then ride back to the car to do the ride, which would add about eight miles for the day. Laura OLPH & Ed C both got wind of my plans (well, it's not like I made any kind of a secret about them; there was the usual pre-ride email chatter), and both decided to join me.

I don't think any of us counted on how cold it would be, this first day of Daylight Savings Time (so an hour earlier than we would have left, at the same time on the clock, the day before), nor how foggy. As I was driving down Route 130, the fog was so think I had to slow down in some places, but it was already beginning to burn off by the time we started to ride to Plainsboro, and the fog was mostly gone by the ride back (for me, two bagels-with-cream-cheese later).

When we got back to the start, there were nine (NINE!) other people preparing to go: John W, John & Jane D, Mark H, Jack, Ron S, Al L (haven't seen him for quite a while!), Winter Larry, and someone I've forgotten (D'OH!). (Edit, March 11: Laura reminds me the other rider was club treasurer Peter F.) We did this route, including a stop at a new rest stop... oh, I've already done that part.

It was early in the season, and a couple of our number were tiring on the way back, so I did my sweep-y thing and stayed with the stragglers; the others rode on ahead, and most were still in the lot when we three got there. We had been chatting about the new Knapp's location, and how it didn't seem to be doing well (and might, indeed, be closed). It's not; I got a new bell there today... but it does appear to have only the dregs of the leavings of the main location; I'm not sure Knapp's is committed to having a store there (it doesn't help that this location, like the main store, is an all-Specialized-brand shop).

So a 100-mile weekend (my second for the year)... and a total of 33 hours on the bike for the year. I'd tell you my average speed, but then you could figure out my approximate mileage, and I'm not ready to share that yet. Suffice to day I've got plenty of miles before a new chain is warranted!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

after the march snow ride

Yesterday's snows led to a flurry of emails among some of the Hill Slugs and Cranbury riders. Dave H asked if Ira was planning to lead the usual Saturday Cranbury ride (he wasn't), and then some other suggestions got made; Dave suggested starting at the Canal towpath parking lot near 518 (I took some ribbing for a mistype when I asked if it was near Route 18; D'OH!), and we agreed to see what today looked like.

Well, this morning looked like sunny and dry roads, and I suggested a 10am start. Ed C went off to ride with the Palis/Harnett billygoats (well, what you would call someone who's the opposite of a Hill Slug? I've ridden with 'em -- once -- and they're FAST on the hills). Laura OLPH was off protecting our environment, and we didn't hear from a couple others.

So it was Dave H and I. I left a smidge early for my pre-ride bagels, and met Dave. I rode to the start from home, so this route includes my rides there and back.

I'm a hopeless navigator, so there's a lot of "up one side and down the other", and a bit of up-and-back-on-the-same-road (see that bit at the top where we did the route through Colonial Park), but Dave didn't complain; I think he was as glad to be out for a ride as I was.We were a good match; we each pulled for a while, and where I work hard when I'm riding alone and ease up on the group rides, he likes the group rides because he will pull harder when he's out with other people. He was able to show me a bit of a route change that added some distance (and some variety) to a ride I've done, and was able to tell me about another change -- if I can get the route together, I might lead a ride around Princeton/Montgomery (so that we haven't ALWAYS got to drive to the ride start).

So now the bike clothes are in the dryer and I'm thinking about some lunch. I hope to do Winter Larry's ride tomorrow, and, since afternoon family obligations rule out the afternoon additional miles, I'm already plotting a "park and ride to breakfast" trip. We'll see.

Friday, March 8, 2013

you think you're fast?

That thigh-chopping chainring is on a bike that went over 200kph (127 mph). It's got 130 teeth, and 15 on the rear gear.  This guy rode it on the Autobahn in 1962:

He couldn't get the bike moving from a standing start; he needed to be pushed by a motorcycle, and when he got up to speed, he was drafting a car with a custom fairing to break the headwind:

There is just no end to the excellence in this story. He carried this note in his pocket to be found if he was killed in the attempt:

In case of fatal accident, I beg of the spectators not to feel sorry for me. I am a poor man, an orphan since the age of eleven, and I have suffered much. Death holds no terror for me. This record attempt is my way of expressing myself. If the doctors can do no more for me, please bury me by the side of the road where I have fallen.

One tech note (just one, I promise): the curve of the fork is backwards, so the bike has negative trail, providing less stability, but more maneuverability.  I'm not sure which you need more at that speed (and I'm not likely to find out).

Oh, and weight-weenies? That contraption weighs about 45 lbs.

From Grist, also Bikehugger, and this private archive. Originally sent to me by Laura OLPH, who's too sensible to post it herself.

not posting these

Friend Ed C forwarded a link about a Tucson, AZ, driver who rammed the Jamis cycling team during a training, but I've been so cranky recently that I'm not going to post about it.

I'm also not posting about the article, sent to me by Laura OLPH, about the Republican who alleges that the increased CO2 given off by pedaling cyclists is a meaningful source of greenhouse gas. He also gasses off the old lie about cyclists not paying taxes for the roads on which we ride.

I'm glad I didn't post about those.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

windy, "where's larry" ride

Laura OLPH has been dropping hints that she'd like to be invited on my ride-to-the-rides from Cliff H's office in Plainsboro to the Cranbury starts; she seemed to think that perhaps they were part of some deep spiritual discipline and I might object to her company - but much of the reason I ride is for the fellowship, so I made sure to let her know where and when I start. She emailed this morning that she was planning to be there, but Cliff's office is tricky to find, so I cruised the parking lot until she found me and led her to a parking spot, and we rode the unnecessarily-long eight-mile route from there to the Knapp's in Cranbury.

It was colder than either of us planned for, and, as usual, I was ridiculously early (8:35 for a 9:00 start -- Laura, do you think we ought to start a bit later next time?), so we rode up Main St. to Route 130 and back for ten minutes. When we got back, we found Ed C, Mark H, Bob (whom I don't think I'd met before), and Ron S, who was bemoaning the fact that he'd left his bike shoes at home. We tried to persuade him that he could use the sneakers he had on, but we were unsuccessful; he chatted with us until we departed, then went back home.

We did not see Larry, the leader. I suspect he looked at the temperature and winds, and went back to bed; he did not respond to the call I left for him before we left (and has not yet as I write this). We had no route planned; what to do?

Laura had considered the wind, and decided we would be better riding into it early, and having it at our backs on the way back. After a bit of discussion, we decided to go to the Main St Café in Kingston (I was part of a grassroots movement for decent coffee). Mark started us on the route across New Road and down the canal. (The whole route, including the long-way from Plainsboro and the ride up Main St, is linked here.)

Wind. Cold and windy. Boy howdy, I don't think we planned for this! We fought cold and wind all the way across New Road (with various riders pulling, and getting separated, and getting back together) until we got to the canal and turned left to Kingston. Bob proved a particularly strong rider, but while slow rides wear thin for him after a while, he doesn't seem competitive; we were recruiting him for the Hill Slug rides at the break. (He's also got a Ph.D., as do both Ed and Laura. Mark left us at the café, so there i was at the table with three Ph.D.'s [although Laura frequently says she isn't a Ph.D; she has a Ph.D.], feelin' all outclassed and stupid.)

Then back to Cranbury by College Ave. As we approached Plainsboro Road, we decided to try to minimize out distance on that, so we took the right on Schalk's Crossing with no real plan... and came to the walk/bike path by Plainsboro Pond, and followed that, and another side road, back to within about 1 1/2 miles of Cranbury. After saying goodbyes to Bob and Ed, Laura and I turned around, and went back to Plainsboro in the teeth of the wind, which was about 3° warmer than it had been the first time we went out.

What kind of a nutball goes riding in this kind of cold and wind, anyway? I'm sure Winter Larry is asking the same question, from whatever warm, windproof place he was today.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

i needed this ride

After eight weeks without a weekend group ride, I finally got one in today with Laura OLPH and the Hill Slugs. Several of them mentioned the cranky tone of my last post*, and one noted that it might have been a Post Office problem, as he received his paper ride list long before The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I got ours.

An email from Laura said (in part):
We're going to Lambertville on a circuitous route designed to piss off the people who think they know where I'm going.  Only (ha!) 2600 feet of elevation gain (by ridewithgps mapping) in 43.3 miles.  It might be painful, but it's gonna be our baseline.  Gotta start somewhere.

Well, here's the route; you can decide. I'm always lost, so I'm not the one to ask, but it seemed to me that we did a number of the roads we frequently do, but in the other direction. There were also a few loops for no other reason than to add loops (which, frankly, is good enough for me; the point of the ride is not the destination, but the riding). It was unpredictable; long before the break at Rojo's, folks in the front were waiting for Laura to call out the direction. (In the club, riders who have gone off the front of the group and then get separated, often by a mid-ride route change, are referred to as "getting Spragued", after Don Sprague, a leader who has perfected the practice. I think Chris Cook claims he invented it, but nobody refers to it as "getting Cooked".)

Ten of us: Laura, Chris C, and I left from Laura's this morning, and picked up John & Jane D, Ron S, Cheryl, Ed C, Dave H, and Peter in Pennington. All of us, I think, were complaining about the difficulty (and the unexpected headwinds), made worse, I'm sure, by the cold and our less-than-ideal-condition, due to the earliness in the season (that's my story and I'm stickin' to it). Still, the pace wasn't bad, for a Slugs ride... and, most important to me, I got to see some friends I haven't seen in far too long. I needed this ride. I've missed you guys.

*One other thing I'm stickin' to, though: I still think we should post the rides on the website. Not to do so tells the world that we don't want you unless you're willing to front the $20, sight unseen, for a club membership. The club says that the ride lists are available in local bike shops... but I've been to Bernie's, Bicycle Rack, Economy, Halter's, Jay's, Knapp's (both locations), Kopp's, and others, and I've never seen the lists out.