Monday, April 29, 2013

hazing ritual

After completion of her first colonoscopy (which found nothing, so she's not due back for another ten years), The Excellent Wife (TEW) said that she figures that a colonoscopy is the hazing ritual for joining AARP.

I predict great things for her on the Geritol-and-Metamucil comedy circuit.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

tour de franklin ride report

Today was the Tour de Franklin, one of the fundraising events for the Franklin Food Bank. They offer several routes, including four road routes of lengths from 10-62 miles, and rides on the canal tow path of many lengths, with SAG support and lunch afterwards. I collected a team of eight via email, but others decided to come, and when we departed this morning, we had seventeen, of whom I can remember these: besides me, John & Jane D, Gary & Donna W, Dave C and Little Joe from Pennsylvania, Dave H, May L, Lynne W, Jack H, Laura OLPH, Gary S, Ron S, The Other Marc, and Sal F, with whom I had not ridden before, but who found me through an old blog post and who is strong. With that many riders, we got a bit of a late start... but it's not a race, and I think we had a good time.

Another issue with that many riders is the variety of abilities. But despite the fact that I'm sure we were spread out over more than a mile at one point, we all met up at several points during the ride, and we all wound up finishing together (more or less).

The route (that's a link) is, as far as I can see, almost entirely within the Township of Franklin. The first part leads down to that long, appendix-like mapping to the south of the route; we left the start at the Municipal Building, and went down to the Main St Café in Kingston, near which was the first rest stop. Ron had a "mechanical" with his chain there, and several of our number shed layers and left them at John & Jane's house, which is remarkably close. From there, after a pause (getting seventeen Freewheelers organized takes a bit of doing), back up and across the Griggstown Causeway, where Ron S got a cut in his tire that needed to be booted (c'mon, Ron - give someone else a chance!). From there, we went back mostly without mishap except for having to wait for stragglers.

(A couple of times John D and I got on the front. We're a good match: about the same pace and ability, I think, and we don't get too competitive... but we can't do that for too long, or the pace creeps up. And up.)

I'm most grateful for the folks who came along: about the only way a person like me, who gets lost if the wind shifts, can lead a ride this long is by going on a ride like this one. I had a great time (it was a glorious day), as, I think, did the others.

(That said, I remind folks about my "D" ride on May 19 - I'll guarantee it's the lowest-pressure ride in the schedule. Got somebody who's thinking of testing the waters on a group ride? Send 'em along! Or bring 'em... I guarantee you'll be able to keep up.)

bike club spring fling: rolling chaos

The Princeton Freewheelers' Spring Fling, held usually the last Saturday of April, is when the club honors its ride leaders. There are "all paces" rides (for most levels of riders) followed by a buffet lunch. It's a great opportunity to see people we rarely see, because they ride at different paces or go to different rides.  Lots of people come out, and the rides can get huge.

But because the rides get to be so big, and because we're riding with people who don't usually ride together, the rides at the Spring Fling can be a little hard to control, as the ride I went on today was. I looked for a group that was getting big that would need a sweep, and found one that wound up with 21 riders to start. One left within about five or six miles of the start, another shortly before the break... and we lost two more at about the break, and I don't know how we lost them, or what happened. (I feel a bit like Telly on Sesame Street: "Oh, dear....".)

The Spring Fling starts at the Masonic Temple in Rocky Hill; it's one of the few starting points I can ride to from home, so I always do; this route includes my pre- and post-ride ride (yeah, I know it would be shorter if I just whipped down Route 1... but naaah). And I see that the average was 15.8, but I know my average on the ride home was about 17.2, so you can do the arithmetic to see the average on the group ride.

Besides me, there was a fellow I've ridden with at least once, Brandon, who also swept, and Bob who offered to do so. Brandon got to see my frustration with riders who will not get to the right when the call of "Car BACK!" goes up, and other dangerous riding habits some riders have. (There was a collision between two riders today; nobody seriously hurt [luckily] but it's another kind of thing that happens with people who seldom ride together. With groups who ride together often, a few newbies don't disturb the rhythm much, and generally pick up the group norms quickly, but I don't think that happens on the all-paces rides.) Another frustration was the route: although there was a cue sheet, the roads on the sheet didn't seem to have any relationship to the roads on which we were riding, or the cross roads we encountered. I'm no better at picking routes... but I choose not to lead rides, partly for that reason.

Then back for lunch, with lot of food (thanks, Ira!), and time to sit and chat with people we haven't seen.  Mike H was flogging his new book, and some club goodies were for sale.  I'll admit I snuck out before the awarding of the jerseys to the ride leaders.

Wore too much today: although it was cool when I left, three layers and tights were way too much. I don' know what I'll do about Tour de Franklin tomorrow... although by the time I actually post this, the effects of whatever decision I may have made will probably already be with me.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

tour de franklin again

Just wanted to bump this to the top of the blog. Tour de Franklin Sunday 4/28 (so don't wear yourselves out at the Princeton Freewheelers Spring Fling on Saturday!).

Metric century leaves at 7:30; I expect to be there at about 7:00; look for the black Prius, or find me. Start location 475 Demott Lane, Somerset, NJ, map linked here. Try to find me early, especially if you weren't on the initial email (I'll send another today or tomorrow). I've got seven on the email list, and know of at least three others.

In past years, they've had goody bags and lunch, but they don't have food for restricted diets. Also, food at rest stops is unpredictable; some years it's better than others; you might want to carry snacks.

They're asking for, but not requiring, extra donations (the target is $100), but, frankly, one of the attractions of this ride for me is the low cast; if the additional donations become required, I won't do the ride in future years.

But that's not this year. I'm looking forward to seeing you there.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

younger americans driving less

Why aren't younger Americans driving anymore? (Links to article at Washington Post; opens in new tab, of course.)

From the article:

What’s happening? High gasoline prices are one obvious factor. The price at the pump has been lurching upward since 2005 and appears to be forcing people off the road... But that’s probably not the whole story. The correlation isn’t perfect, for one. And vehicle miles driven have continued to drop since 2011, even though retail gas prices have remained relatively stable (though still at a historically high level). The aging of the Baby Boom generation is a second big factor here. Americans over the age of 55 tend to drive less, so the fact that the United States is aging overall makes a difference. But another huge part of the story is that young Americans are driving much, much less. Between 2001 and 2009, the average yearly number of miles driven by 16- to 34-year-olds dropped a staggering 23 percent.
I've recently begun to think that the answers to our enviro woes won't be in simple conscience-based reductions, but in technological solutions and socio-cultural changes. Here's another thing that makes me oddly hopeful.

tour de franklin 4/28

This Sunday is the Tour de Franklin. Anybody on my team, or who wants to ride with us, should look for us at the start. I'll be wearing one of my signature solid-color jerseys, and you should also look for my black Prius in the lot.

The metric Century starts at 7:30; I expect to be at the ride about 7:00 am.  Last year, there was a bit of a mutiny over the early start time, but the organizers want everybody in for lunch at noon. Start location is the Community/Senior Building, 475 DeMott Lane, Somerset, NJ 08873 (between New Brunswick and Amwell Roads).

I have a list of the people who formally signed up, and I know of three others (at least) who are planning to come... but there may be others who either didn't tell me, or who forgot. Please find us at the start.

This will be a Freewheelers ride, with a sign in sheet, and subject to the club rules (including helmet and water bottle).

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Although Laura OLPH's experience may suggest otherwise, this was a good ride (as how many of them are not?). She and I did a bit of a pre-ride from Plainsboro to Cranbury, then went along on Peter F's ride down to Allentown, to my new favorite rest stop.

(For those of you who still don't know how clueless I am when it comes to directions: when we visited Stonebridge Bagels last month, we came in from the west, and I had no idea where I was. Today, we came in from the east, passing by the entrance to the Byron Johnson Park where the Old Guys leave from on Wednesdays, and passing Bruno's Bikes. Yesterday, I had no idea where it was; today, I could find it from anywhere. D'OH!)

We went the long way 'round to get to Allentown, and the short way back (this route; it's on RideWithGPS, because Garmin is down as I write this). Laura was wondering if we were really going to Allentown, because the stop was about 2/3 the way into the ride, but we came straight back from Allentown (Peter and Gary went off on a route that led them away from the traffic in the middle of Hightstown, and didn't get the message when the rest of us went straight on; sorry for the missed communication...). On the way back, Laura hit a pothole hard enough that it not only flattened her rear tire, but broke the clip that held on her saddlebag. We fixed the tire, and strapped up the saddlebag with a mini-bungee she carries, but the Kermit figure that she attached to the saddlebag had a rough ride home.

(And if you go to her blog through the "may suggest otherwise" link above, I assure you that nothing she says about me can be relied on. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

early-season ride to belmar with tom h

Tom H's post about this ride, earlier this week, said that he would make a decision by 9pm Friday about whether the weather would force a reschedule of his ride to Belmar from today until tomorrow, but he changed the original post, so that by the time I checked it (at some ridiculous hour this morning), it said:

We got some rain overnight but that is over now. The roads are wet but are starting to dry so the ride is on. Its going to be a little messy riding on the wet roads but it should be a fun ride. It will give us a chance to see how the rebuilding of the boardwalk is going and how our favorite beach front hang out fared.

So we gathered at Etra for the 9:00 9:05 departure time (some of us were less-than-diligent about promptness). Thirteen of us went, and I'm impressed that I can actually remember: besides me and leader Tom H, there were Cheryl, Chris, Jeff X, Joe, John, Ken, Laura OLPH, Mark H, The Other Mark, Mary, and Mike.

Normally we go to Belmar later in the season, and the beach was empty except for a few surfers. Some of the streets are still closed after Sandy, and one of the places we frequently stop had just reopened (the adjacent Dunkin Donuts was closed, and looked like it was going to stay that way). Tom and Laura got some pictures of the reconstruction, to which I may link when I see 'em (Jeff X said he thought it was outside my artistic integrity not to get my own pictures, but I don't think he understands just how little effort I intend to put into this). The boardwalk is just being put together. Many of the toilets and service buildings on the beach side are gone; some are being rebuilt... and there are also signs of construction on the houses: new windows (with the tags still on), permits, and so on.

Wind was at our back much of the way there, and we had a pretty high speed (one said 15.6mph) when we stopped in Belmar. That wind, however, was a nemesis on the way back - someone (was it Tom?) quipped that it was like 30 miles of uphill all the way. (Mike missed it; he arranged for his wife to pick him up in Belmar and drive him home from there.)

It kind of is uphill all the way back; there is an overall downslope between inland and the shore, and there were no real hills, although there were enough grades for some of our number to justify both slowing down and complaining. We did this route. That, of course, includes a brief warm-up prior to the actual departure.

Laura said it wasn't a real Tom ride because we weren't making up songs about how much we hated him or how he was mistreating us. He did rip across Route 9 without stopping, but the light was with us. I think he might be sorry that we aren't slandering him, but the truth is that this was not that demanding of a ride.

Three stops: one at a benighted bagel place (with about four stale bagels and a half a Mr. Coffee pot of coffee), then at Belmar, then at a Dunkin Donuts about eight-ten miles from the end. At that point, John, Mary, and the two Marks decided to go on without stopping. So of the thirteen that left, we ended with eight - in that, it was like  Hill Slugs ride!

I hope to do another ride later in the season when the beach is more open and populated. I'm hoping to see how Belmar has rebuilt, and is successful after Sandy.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

never ask about pregnant

It's been a while since I posted and linked to a comic. This one caught me today:

I love that comic. I remember a time that I only verified a female coworker was pregnant by hearing that she had heard the baby - and then she was incensed that I thought she could have gotten that fat on her own! Hrmph.

Too small? See the original here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

al p leads a dennis-backwards ride

Today was one of those Wednesdays off that I get, and I did the ride with the Old Guys. Dennis W, the purported leader, set the time for 9:30, so I wanted to be in Etra at 8:40 for the ride-to-the-ride that Erich leads. He's had hip problems, so I wasn't sure he was going to be there, but he was, along with Mary and John B. I almost didn't make it in time; I didn't leave enough time for rush-hour traffic.

But I did get there, and off we rode down to Allentown to the start point. Al P, who leads these rides when Dennis won't or can't (and, as it's been cold, that means that if the ride goes, it's Al P who generally leads it recently), sent an email this morning (too late for me to get) with the simple word "Yes" about the ride today.

It started cold, and I was wishing for full-finger gloves for the first half-hour or so... but it warmed up later, and I was cursing the three layers I had on top. It's hard to dress for the weather in April; perhaps we need a chase car to carry our cast-offs. (Any volunteers?)

We did this route. Many roads I didn't remember at all, and some I did, but only in the other direction (Al admitted he was doing a non-Dennis ride). We stopped at a stop in Columbus, where I had coffee (and should have had some food, but didn't; I was cursing that decision at the end of the ride. Still, my weight's creeping up again; I gotta start bein' careful).

Erich had a flat, has he has had a few recently. They have not been punctures; today's was a pinch flat, and another had been due to a bad valve. I wonder if Erich has gotten a batch of bad tubes, and if simply buying a different brand of tube, or at a different store, might not fix things... but he seems to think a new pump is in order.

In the last few miles, I saw a distinctive bandanna on the road;it turne out to be Al L's, with the distinctive cannabis-leaf print. Al is the last person I woudl expect to carry such a bandanna, so I knew it was his, and I picked it up and returned it to him at Allentown.

After we got to Allentown, for the ride back to Etra, we were joined by Vern H and Bruce. The six of us headed up Old York Road, and I could see that Vern and Bruce were ready to pull out... but I could also see that others were falling back, and could use a pull into the headwind; I resisted the urge to ride off with Vern and Bruce (after all, ya dance with them as brung ya), but we did alter the route to have a little more distance together with Vern and John, who were continuing their rides back to their homes. (See? I'm not the only one who adds miles; I'm not even the worst offender.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

in response to the boston marathon bombing

When I first heard about the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the numbers were two dead and twenty-two injured; I've since heard that the number injured is larger. My thought was, "And how many people today died in car accidents? How many from alcohol? How many from poor diet and no exercise? Tobacco kills about a hundred a day; a week's worth of tobacco deaths alone will swamp this number."

But from this page at The Atlantic, I see Patton Oswalt has a better take on it than I:

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."

Thank you, Mr. Oswalt.

canal, rocky hill, & millstone tour

I took an unplanned day off today, and the car went in the shop for a recall, oil change, and something-unexpected to the tune of $500+. My only consolation was this ride (see the linked route), of which I am unreasonably proud. First of all, it's a modification of a route Dave H told me about... and I did the modification myself (which, as navigationally-challenged as I am, is a milestone for me [MILESTONE! HAH! I crack myself up sometimes]), and second, I did it at an average of 17.4 for the whole ride. I was at 18.1 when I stopped at the crossing at Blackwells Mills, and decided to cruise the rest of the way. I hadn't had breakfast, and got the Pretzels of Doom at the Philly Pretzel Factory in Hopewell (3 for $3; ate one in Hopewell, one at Blackwells Mills, and the last at Colonial Park; Little Joe, if you're reading this, you're right: I find I can go better longer if I eat something).

For you folks who lead all the time, feel free to sneer at my navigation efforts; I liken it to dyslexia, in that the information is there but the synapses just don't close right - and I have every respect for folks like Laura OLPH and Peter F, who learned their navigation by going on rides and studying maps. I just don't think I'm able to do that. As for the speed, I ride fastest when I ride alone; it's both a promise I made to The Excellent Wife (TEW) and an effort to starve that competitive urge.

Later, I did an additional five miles on the bike to go pick up the car. The dealership is about two miles away driving, but I didn't want to ride on Route 1, so I did a five-mile roundabout (and I still had to ride on an on-ramp-and-off-ramp on Route 1 for a short distance). The bike clothes are just coming out of the wash now. Maybe I'll do Dennis W's Old Guys ride tomorrow if the weather holds.

Monday, April 15, 2013

everyone will want one except me

Friend Dave C forwarded this week's Gizmag newsletter. He's apparently quite taken with this:

It's not a high-tech thermos; it's a bluetooth speaker that will fit in your bottle cage. It will run off your smartphone, and will even act as a hands-free phone unit. See the article.

It's cool, but I don't use a smartphone, and it brings to the ride music that I'm almost sure I don't want there. While I usually play music when I'm working on the bikes (and I've got a barely-functioning Linux system to stream music or play .mp3's in the garage), the only music I want on the ride is the music that comes to me as I pedal. It happens; I frequently sing to myself as we ride (I'm a bit more obnoxious on my solo rides, where the only person I have to worry about pissin' off is myself). And that's the way I want it.

I know many riders will go for this, but I also know that there are a few of us who seek the solace of the silence of the ride. de gustibus... in any case, it's not for me.


That D-ride I wrote about is actually going to be listed for next month. I guess I'm gonna have to do it.

I'm sure I can't advertise this, but I don't have access to the member list, and I don't intend to get it. I promise not to throw people off the ride if they aren't club members - although I will adhere to the club rule about helmets (and maybe the one about carrying a water bottle, although, as Erich W knows, there's no rule about having anything in it).

Tell your ride-wary friends: this will be the lowest-pressure ride this season, except for any I may do later in the year. If anybody wants to try out a group ride, but is afraid they're too slow, or too inexperienced, this will be the one to do.

And you can come along as support! I'm planning a canal-towpath ride. Bring a bike with wide tires. Huffies welcome!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

cold-to-warm ride

Laura OLPH emailed that, for this Sunday ride, she didn't want to leave out of Pennington again and do those roads; instead, she wanted to leave from Lambertville and visit the Homestead Coffee Roasters for the break. Well, cool! Except for the long drive to the start, I'm usually up for a new route and some new roads, and it was going to be cool enough today that coffee at Homestead was an attraction. So, even though it was a comparatively late night for me (caught the Winter's Tale at the McCarter; see one of yesterday's posts for the link - we loved it; Jack, another rider who was along today, didn't, but I'm not sure he's a Shakespeare fan anyway), I got out of bed early enough to be coffee-ed, bagel-ed, and bathroom-ed on time for the 8:30 start in Lambertville.

It was a beautiful ride. The day was clear, we went over some nifty hills (and saw some beautiful vistas; Laura got some pictures I hope she'll post), saw neat new roads. All the evidences of early spring are out: magnolias, forsythias, and all the other early flowers I have no idea how to name. It was, however, colder and windier than I would have expected; several of the six-or-seven of us (depending on when you counted) complained about that.

We did this route. That early trip up Pine Hill was more than I bargained for early on, but that was the worst hill of the day, and we got it out of the way early. At one point, we stopped at the corner of Senator Stout Road and Hog Hollow Road, and I liked the sound of that, I must have said it at least four times.

Seven of us started: Jack, Ron S, Glen, Little Joe, and The Other Ron (who has that Mercian I was lusting after in January; I had to stay away because the drooling was getting distracting). Glen is recovering from shoulder surgery, and had to break off before the break, but I'm impressed that he came along at all (and the Slugs do have a tradition of fewer people ending the ride than starting it).

One of us was tired on the way back, and was thinking of breaking off and going straight down 29 back to Lambertville, until Laura dangled a bait he couldn't resist going for: How 'bout Federal Twist all the way down, from one end at the top (where I'd never been, but where there are a few rolling hills) to the bottom (with those straight, steep downhills)? He went for it, and over we went - even I, one of the worst descenders I know, got up over 40mph on that stretch, only the third time in my life I've done that.

Don't tell my wife; she thinks I'm a safer rider than that.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

early spring ride with ira

Tom H has a ride to Belmar coming, so he was doing a 55-mile pickup ride in prep for that today, but I had a hot date with The Excellent Wife (TEW) yesterday, and another one tonight, and I didn't want to risk being overtired by the early start and long distance to it... and I haven't seen the Saturday Cranbury folks for a while... and anyway, I decided to do Ira's ride out of Cranbury today, as did sixteen others.

Well, sixteen to start, anyway. Peter F led a B+ ride out of there at the same time, and we hadn't gone a mile when one of our number split off and picked up Peter's ride. It wasn't really an omen; over the course of the ride, two others went off, but they were heading for home on the way back, so that didn't count.

Here's the route, which includes my 8-or-so-mile ride to the ride from Plainsboro (and my four-or-so-mile ride back). We went over some of Ira's favorite roads; through the Assunpink (more on that in a bit), and down to Phil's, then wide east and north to avoid some of the hills and winds on the way back (although the wicked Cranbury west winds were somewhat mitigated today).

Along with us came an arrant newbie, Christina, who'd never done a group ride before. She did really well, although when she saw that first hill into the Assunpink, I thought I saw her eyes get wide. She kept up, though, and made it through the 42-or-so miles of the ride with only a chain drop for mishap. She made the mistake of asking me an equipment question, though, and had to ride off and talk to some sensible people before I'd even got to chapter six of my usual dissertation.

Oh, well. Tomorrow, to Lambertville for a ride with Laura OLPH and the Hill Slugs.

still married

(Post title is a reference to/shameless ripoff of Keillor's book.)

The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I have a wedding anniversary at this time of year. This year is our 16th (I have no idea how that happened), and TEW set up an excellent date (we have this system that works for us, because I am clueless when it comes to goin' out & doin' stuff: she makes the plans, and I do most of the driving and the paying).

After a trip to Penzey's in Philadelphia, we headed over to the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Rodin Museum. We're members of the PMA, and we've been talking about stopping in at the Rodin Museum for years (we pass it when we walk from the PMA to the Reading Terminal Market). The Rodin Museum is a little gem. Most of the collection was donated by a movie mogul named Mastbaum (who made sure he got credit; a bust of him is in a focal point in the room - but, hey, if he's gonna spend his money that way, he can certainly get a credit for it!). For folks who know Rodin: They've got a casting of the Gates of Hell, several Balzac's, a Burghers of Calais, and (of course) a Thinker out front. For those who don't: Rodin was a sculptor who worked in clay, then had many of his works done in plaster to be made into bronze castings. Rodin was a great sculptor, and part of the reason he's neat is that he integrates the sculpting process - tool marks, the marks of the clay itself - into the final works; he was one of the first to do this (although there are sculptures by Michelangelo that do it, too). It's not an all-day attraction, but it's a good visit.

Then on to the PMA itself, where there is an ongoing series of "Art after Five". We saw the Hot Club of Philadelphia, a Gypsy Jazz group (the name of the group is a reference to Django Reinhardt's band, the Hot Club de France). While the stone lobby of the Museum is not the ideal place to hear this kind of band, it was a great show, and not the kind of thing to which we would normally go.

Then to dinner at Walnut Hill Restaurant School. We went to the CIA (no, not that CIA) a few years ago, and had good luck, and our luck was borne out again. The food was good (and inexpensive, for what we got!). These are students who are looking to run restaurants and food services. My idea is that they are interested in cooking and need to learn about management, so I count on good food, but I expect the service to be friendly and inefficient (which it kinda was). The kids are workin' so hard, though, it's hard to find fault with 'em.

It was a great date. How on earth did I stay married to TEW for sixteen years?

Monday, April 8, 2013

another stupid internet law

As the logo to the lower right indicates, I support the Internet Defense League. Aaron Swartz, who developed some of the technologies on which the web depends, killed himself after being hounded by law enforcement over questionable clauses in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

According to the Internet Defense League:

The expansive CFAA was first passed in the mid-1980s, before most households had computers, let alone Internet access.  Yet law enforcement has interpreted it to criminalize even mundane Internet use, such as petty violations of websites' fine-print terms of service agreements.  Under this interpretation commonplace Internet use would technically be criminalized, including:
  • Sharing passwords for Facebook or other social media sites with friends;
  • Starting a social media profile under a pseudonym; 
  • Exaggerating your height on a dating site;
  • Visiting a site if you're under the stipulated age requirement (under 18 for many sites)
  • Blocking cookies in a way that enables you to circumvent a news site's paywall.  (For instance, the New York Times website cannot block those who delete cookies from reading more than the allotted number of free articles each month.)
Additionally, it is under the CFAA that law enforcement has undertaken a recent spate of prosecutions of questionable merit -- including that of our friend and Demand Progress cofounder Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide earlier this year while being prosecuted for downloading too many academic articles from JSTOR.
You can go to this site and easily contact lawmakers with your views about the bill. Check it out.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

riders come out of the woodwork

Today was the first day temps were expected to be near 60° for the year, and you could tell; we started Winter Larry's ride with fifteen people today, including two newbies who had never been on a Freewheeler ride before.

Among the others were some fast folks whom I haven't seen in months, and they were ready to go; we started off fast right out of Cranbury, and some of our number were struggling to keep up with the pace set by the group. One rider, complaining of tired legs and a skipping cogset, dropped off before we had goone ten miles (he was noticeably lagging from the start). Another decided to maintain her own pace, within the range rating for the ride.

(By the way, at least two people have mentioned not understanding the references I make in some of these posts, and being surprised when I said that I usually link to definitions/explanations. Text that looks like "within the range of the ride" in the previous paragraph is a link. In most browsers, it's a different color; in some, it may also be underlined. I set my links so they open in a new tab or window, so you can come back here if you want to. Or not.)

Well before the break in New Egypt, we had split into a faster and a slower group, and there was a difference: one of the faster riders had an average of 16.1, and I, mostly with the slower group, had an average of 15.3 when we got back to Cranbury.

The route (that's a link, too), which includes my 8-mile ride-to-the-ride after my customary bagel, and my 4-mile ride back to the car, went into the wind on the way down, and the wind was at our backs on the way back (unusual for Larry's rides). We were probably faster on the way back than on the way there.

I'm not going to attempt to list all the names; I'm sure I'll forget many. I was glad to see people I haven't seen in months, and some others I've been seeing regularly. For you two new guys, we're not usually that fast (see this ride, and this one)... but, now that I check it out, sometimes we are. More or less.

Oh, well.

leading a d ride

The Excellent Wife (TEW) has agreed to come along if I lead a few D rides this season. I just sent off the announcement for the first one:

Sunday, May 19 D 14-18 mi 8:30am
PURPLE COW RIDE: Almost as rare as a purple cow is this Freewheelers D ride! No attitudes, no lectures, lots of stops, nobody dropped – if you can stay upright on your bike for the distance, you can do this ride; we'll go at the pace of the slowest riders. If you've been thinking of trying out a group ride, this may be the one for you. Details on my blog: a few days before the ride – ride will be cancelled for weather, insurrection, or the Zombie Apocalypse.
LEADER: Jim Brittain (email & phone)

Tell your friends, if they have any inkling to do a group ride. We're more likely to be too slow than too fast! Rated speeds for D rides are 8-9mph average, and I know that I can keep a bike upright at 2.3mph (as Quaker founder George Fox said [even though he never heard of lycra or carbon fiber in his life], "This I know experimentally").

Saturday, April 6, 2013

not quite spring

The email from Cheryl on Friday said:

I didn't see a hilly ride in the book for tomorrow, April 7th.   Any takers for a ride starting at 9 AM out of Pennington?  I have to be back by 12:30 PM so that's why the early start... Let me know if there is any interest.

... but  between the young lady with the multiple-dyed hair and the multiple suicide attempts, and the guy who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from his own history of gang membership and violent crime, I didn't get a chance to get back to her until late in the day, by which time Dave C had emailed asking me to come on Cheryl's pickup ride, too. So I responded that I was planning to go, and Cheryl emailed back that she thought I was avoiding her because I'd responded so late. Hrmph. Some of youse-all take me way too seriously.

I am roundly sick of cold weather, so during the week I took off the pedals that take the winter shoes and put on the ones that take the summer shoes. And despite predictions of temps in the 30's at the time I left the house, I wore only three layers instead of the customary four for cold weather. I paid for it, too; I was cold when we first started to spin out of Pennington. It warmed up later, but just barely enough for the gear I had on.

The regular reader will notice that I have no link to the ride route. After my rant a few days ago, I set my GPS to show the map instead of the ride data... and then forgot to turn it on to collect that data. Cheryl promised to send me a link to the route; I'll plan to edit the post when she does.  Edit: Dave C sent me this link to the route he saved in his GPS... and here's Cheryl's link to her route on RideWithGPS.

Five of us: Little Joe joined Dave from the Pennsylvania delegation, and Ron S came. We left Pennington for a ride up into the hills, and Cheryl told us we'd have most of the hills after the break. I remember going to Peacock's at the bottom of the long hill at Lindbergh, and then going across the ridge. I remember Rainbow hill, and going up the hill at Crusher Road to see the tree with the big burl... but we did cut the route a bit short to make sure Cheryl got back for an appointment.

As we were coming down Pennington-Rocky Hill road into Pennington, we took the left onto Old Mill, which is now open, apparently for the first time in living memory. That led to a back way into Pennington along Federal City Road, which was blessedly free of traffic and nicely surfaced; and, when we got to Pennington-Lawrenceville Road, I actually knew where I was and how to get back. I don't know who was more consternated by that experience, me or Little Joe, who was next to me at the time.

Don't worry, Joe; I don't expect it will happen again soon.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

ride for the ride's sake

I work a nine-days-in-two-weeks schedule, and I'm off every other Wednesday. In season, I like to ride with a group of the Princeton Freewheelers (I call 'em the "Old Guys") who ride together three times each week, but in this cold, they don't usually go out. But temps were up in the 40° range by late morning yesterday, so I got the bike out.

Regular readers may know that I'm trying to avoid competitiveness in my riding: I don't compete for speed, I don't post my aggregate distance ridden, and so on. On yesterday's ride, I didn't take my computer.

Here's what I noticed: I started off into a headwind, and I pushed hard for a few miles to keep my average speed up, even though I wasn't registering my average speed. But when I turned onto Canal Road (sideways to the wind, and the canal has tress enough to block much of the wind), I set a different pace: not slow, but one that I could maintain, probably for hours. I decided not to climb Coppermine (and I think that decision was related to not having the computer on), and to stop at the Philly Pretzel Factory in Rocky Hill for lunch (which decision was solely related to feeling deprived; I've been trying to get my weight back down). Three for $3; I ate one right away, and had another in Griggstown. Gotta keep the energy up.

Tailwind on the way back, and I was cranking to take advantage of it. I know I was going fast because of how the traffic was passing me on the local streets (not as quickly as they sometimes do).

It was a fun ride. And I think I'm going to ride without computer more frequently. When I do ride with the computer (my GPS), I'll keep it on the map setting so I don't see the numbers.

After all, if it isn't fun, why bother?

(The next time you come on a Hill Slug ride, ask Laura OLPH about "Tell It To Strava".)