Friday, May 31, 2013

what people think I do

I can't remember where I saw this first - I thought I knew, but it wasn't there when I went to check. This one's from

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

in which the sweep is incommunicado

Three bike-related activities in three days: Monday, Memorial Day, was the All-Paces ride. I like these rides, or at least the before-and-after of them. I'm not good at making and keeping friends, and at these rides I get to see people I haven't seen, or don't see frequently. I get to catch up, and re-establish connections that may be stale.

The rides, themselves, can get a bit dicey. The ride groups tend to be large, and riders who are not used to riding together go out, so there can sometimes be some scary times. Except for the "large" part, that did not seem to be a problem on Monday. I went with (I think) 19 others on Bob S's ride. We did this route (that includes my before-and-after extra miles with Laura OLPH. I swept, and helped a rider who was tiring in the returning headwind, and then helped her re-tire when her rear tire appeared tired (not flat, exactly, but there wasn't much air in the tube... and no, I'm not going to apologize for all those puns; I've been riding wiht Neil C too much).

Tuesday night, after work, I went to the New Brunswick Bike Exchange, and got a mountain bike and a very cool Optimus Prime kids bike ready for sale (you need to see that Optimus Prime bike; even the PEDALS are cool!). There's a grand opening, of sorts, for tomorrow, Thursday, and I'm hoping to be able to link to the website and maybe some news stories. (That mountain bike was a pain: just as soon as I figured out how to change the shifter cable, I saw that the shifter was broken anyway, and we'd have to rig another shifter onto it. Grump, grump, grump.)

Today, went out with Al P and the Old Guys. I got to Etra Park early for the ride-to-the-ride, and I was the only one there; Erich apparently had some medical stuff to attend to, and everybody knew it but me (and I didn't know until the fog cleared this morning even whether I was going to try to ride at all). We did this route, more or less*, and I swept again today. One of the older guys got tired and fell back, and we got separated from the group - but they we found each other again, luckily (although Mr. Garmin was already setting us a route back).

Now the incommunicado thing: On the Saturday ride, Bob S tried to call while I was back changing the tire. I was all greasy-handed, and figured it was my wife calling to ask when I would be home, so I figured I'd call her back when I got to the end, but Bob told me when he came back to find us that he was the caller. Today, Al P tried to call, and I had the phone on "buzz" and didn't hear it. There's not much use giving a cell-phone number to a ride leader if you're not going to answer it.

About a year ago, I set up a new mnemonic checklist I use before the start of each ride (I'm a big one for checklists; I also have one for what I pack in the car when I'm leaving for the ride; it's on my bike tote bag). The new checklist (I've updated it since that post) is:
  • Air (in the tires)
  • Ankle (Road ID on the ankle band)
  • Axles (close the quick-releases)
  • Bag (because twice I've lost contents out of it because I forgot to zip it up)
  • Bottles (Water. Duh.)
  • Brakes (especially, close the front brake when I put the front wheel on after travel)
  • Car (lock it)
  • Computer (turn the bike computer on, and set it)
  • Coppertone (sunscreen. I don't use that brand, but it fit the mnemonic.)

I also need to remember to turn the cell phone on, and set the ringer. Any ideas on how I can do that? (Aside from counting on youse-all to ask me if I've done it at the ride start, I mean.)

*Brag: I rode back to Etra from Allentown on my own (about ten miles) and added .7mph to my average in that distance. That was fun!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

photos from today's ride

I guess everybody takes pictures but me. Here are some of Ed "The Shoulder"'s ride pics:

Peacock's, at the bottom of Lindbergh Road, of course.

I just noticed that all three riders in that picture have titanium bikes. (Do I look fat in that orange jersey?)

That's Laura OLPH, riding her flatland bike, Kermit, on the hills. I can hear the complaining from here.

Ed "the Shoulder", photographer and ride leader.

ed "the shoulder" leads cranbury-to-peacock's ride

Winter Larry likes to lead rides October through March, when few others want to do it; he can be persuaded to lead in April, but when it gets this late in May, he's begging off. So Ed "The Shoulder" C had agreed to lead some of the "Back By Lunch" rides out of Cranbury on Sundays, and today was his first shot.

Ed had three routes in mind, and, when he heard about the wind strength and direction expected for today, he sensibly picked a route that went into the expected wind direction on the way out, with the expectation that we'd have the wind at our backs on the way back (and so it was). He also picked the slightly shorter of the two routes he had planned (by which he cheated himself out of a trip down the new paving on Coppermine Road, but so it goes). He had sent out links to the routes, and I loaded them in to my Garmin.

I met Laura OLPH at the usual spot behind Cliff's office for the ride-to-the-ride, on which we shared some of our work-related woes (it's cheaper than therapy for each of us), and rode to the Cranbury Knapp's parking lot (we were early, so we added a bit; we proved that you CAN ride on route 130 and survive, provided it's early enough on a Sunday morning and you keep the route short). We got to the start, and med Ed, Neil C, and Mark H, and the five of us did this route.

I started to follow the route in the GPS, but we went off-route shortly after crossing Route 1, and by the time the GPS recalculated, it decided we were on the way BACK, and kept telling me to do a U-turn - finally, a bit before the break, I turned the navigation off.

We went out to Peacock's, and went down Lindbergh Road - I think only the second time I've done that, and the first was when Ron S had his accident. I've been UP Lindbergh often enough that I was beginning to think it only went that way! After the break, we went up Rileyville, which Laura remembered as being hard... but I don't think it was as hard as Lindbergh, at least as far as Ridge, where we turned.

On the way up Rileyville, we passed some joggers. We got spread out (as we do on long uphills), and Laura and Neil, on their bikes, were passed by one of the joggers. They were "inspired" to new levels of effort, and passed the jogger again (we met him at the top of the hill, and we chatted and I gave him a Freewheelers card). Don't ever let Laura tell you she's not competitive. Hrmph.

On the way back, Ed had planned to take us along Washington Road in Princeton, but we discussed it and chose a different way due to Washington not being bike friendly (I generally don't support riders getting the leader off the planned route, but this was an exception). That route led us along College Road, and I know a way to get on the Plainsboro bike path that gets us near where we park, so Laura and I cut off the last few miles of the route.

Thanks, Ed. Good ride. Good choice in direction, given the wind, too. I look forward to some more of your leads.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

pics from twin lights ride

No ride today: rain, wind, and cold kept me off the bike in the morning; in the early afternoon a THUMP!  from the garage warranted investigation; it turned out that one of the springs holding the garage door had let go (I think that's the third time for that one, and the other had broken twice). I went to Home Depot to get the replacements, then had to go BACK to Home Depot to get a replacement eye-bolt because it had been mangled beyond repair. And while the garage door is now being raised and lowered in a civilized manner, it meant I didn't get to the bike today, except for a quick two-miles-or-so around the apartment complex next door.

But Ed C sent me these pics of last week's ride, and they're good enough to put up:

Your correspondent.

Ride leader Tom H

Don't you love a gal with a French braid?

Neil C and Mark H. I am happy to report that, despite Neil's time off the bike, his and Mark's humor has NOT improved. At all.

Cheryl M

Photographer Ed C

The Twin Lights from the beach.

On the way back, we stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts, and Ed C was smitten with this one. That color is about right on my monitor. Can anything that color be non-toxic?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

horrible snob

While at the mirror this morning, I found myself humming, badly, a Bach prelude, which led to me thinking about the differences between popular and classical music, which led to my thinking that I'm a horrible snob.

But I'm actually not. I'm actually a pretty good snob.

new project

A few years ago, I volunteered at the Trenton Bike Exchange, a project where people donate bikes, and volunteers fix 'em up and sell 'em - cheap - as a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Trenton (and, not incidentally, in order to get bikes out to people who want 'em). I stopped going because I was spending more time commuting than I was actually turning wrenches.

(I'm not linking to 'em because they get enough press. Grump, grump, grump. Although they did send us a shipment of old bikes to refurbish.)

Well, there's a fledgling bike exchange in New Brunswick, which is just about out my back door. After a couple of mechanic's nights to try to develop interest, and a couple of false starts, we're starting to work: we've sold five bikes (including a lovely lugged Peugeot, of which I mourn the loss), we've got more for sale, we've got space and tools, and regular open times from 11-2 on Saturdays and 5-8 on Tuesdays. It's become my regular Tuesday night hangout; I've been going for about a month. We've got a Facebook page (I refuse to get on Facebook, so the link may not work) and a (currently moribund) website, which, I am promised, will be more active later.

Our parent organization is the Puerto-Rican Action Board, which runs a number of services throughout the area. They've given us a huge garage in the back of their building in the old industrial section of New Brunswick. The trick to finding the Bike Exchange is not so much finding the address at 90 Jersey Ave, as wandering around the back lot until you find the entrance; as yet there are no signs up.

There's some kind of a tour of the area today, and a "Grand Opening" May 30 (I think at noon).

It's been a project of some of the students at the Bloustein school. Most of the volunteers come from that program.

I'll have more news as it comes, and I'll probably try to get a listing in the club newsletter.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

twin lights ride

Tom's listing for this ride included the following:
Join Tom as he heads to Sandy Hook to survey the beach from Twin Lights overlooking the beach. Terrain will be flat to rolling with a few hills just on the way to the beach plus one really steep but short hill to get to the light houses.
And, despite:
  • A bridge out (in both directions), with a section of dirt road and having to ride under a lowered crane boom;
  • A flat tire (mine; rarely happens, but both of my last two have been on rides that Tom H has been on... I'm not saying there's a cause-and-effect relationship, but there is certainly a correlation);
  • Rain (not driving rain, but rain nonetheless):
  • A wicked 20% upgrade at a hairpin turn just before the lights, which meant a wicked 20% downgrade ending at a T-stop;
  • A dogleg ramp over the highway at Sandy Hook, so we could ride along the seawall and avoid the traffic on Ocean Avenue between Highlands & Sea Bright;
  • The walk-way/rideway along the seawall being so covered in drifted sand that we eventually decided we'd take our chances with the traffic;
  • Another flat tire (someone else's) on the ride back (I thought I heard the POW of an inner tube exploding from being incorrectly seated, necessitating another tube change, but I might have been mistaken)...
... despite all that, this was still a fun ride. I complain incessantly about Tom's rides, both when I'm on them, and afterwards, but I always enjoy them. I enjoy Tom, and the people he gets to go out on the rides with him. I'm not going to try to list the riders, except that this was Ed "The Shoulder" C's first group ride since his skiing accident, and Neil Cherry came out with Mark H, the first time I've seen Neil in an age. He hasn't been riding much, and I didn't recognize him until I heard his voice. For those of you who know Neil, you'll either be relieved to know his humor has not changed, or disappointed to know it has not improved.

Laura OLPH's got her post up on this ride already, and it includes excellent pictures of the ride, the lighthouse area, and Ed with a donut with frightening lilac-colored frosting.

Here's the route. Mine was a bit longer because I was close enough to 70 miles to make it worth riding around the parking lot to achieve the goal. It takes some of the curse off being rained out for my ride today.

Thanks, Tom. Good ride. It doesn't mean I'll stop slandering you, but it was a good ride.

purple cow d ride cancelled for weather

Rain is predicted, and the roads are wet, which means the towpath will be wet, and maybe muddy and slippery. I'm cancelling the ride.

I have another scheduled for June 23. I hope to see you then.

Edit 5:01 pm: This was the first ride I scheduled myself to lead. I set it up mostly as a favor to The Excellent Wife (TEW) so that she'd have a chance to meet some Freewheelers, and hang out with me on the bike. I've been grumpy all day that I had to cancel. Hrmph.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

purple cow d ride weather

It's a bit before 6pm as I write this, and I won't be able to get another post up before about 11:30 pm, so here's the deal: I'm still planning to run the ride tomorrow, unless it's actually raining at about 7:30-8:00 am, the time I expect to be packing the car and going to the ride start.

We'll see how the weather looks in the morning. I'm usually an early riser, so I'll probably post something early in the morning.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

purple cow ride sunday 5/19

So here are the details for the Purple Cow "D" ride for May 19: It will be a towpath ride; and I plan to go between 16-19 miles, depending the sense of the meeting at about mile 8. We'll meet at the D&R Canal Towpath Parking Area on Kingston-Rocky Hill Rd., just below where it crosses 518 in/near Hopewell (Kingston-Rocky Hill Rd is what Canal Rd is called below 518).

Since this is a ride for newbies, I'll do an extended version of the safety warning, so people have a good idea what to expect and how to behave on a group ride. You might want to be there a smidge early (the club suggestion of 15 minutes early will be fine). Riders will need bikes and helmets; water bottles and flat repair kits are suggested. The 23-25mm tires on most road bikes will be too narrow for the gravel path, but mountain bikes, hybrids, cruisers, BMX bikes, and even cross bikes should be fine.

This will be the lowest-pressure ride in the book. We will go at the pace of the group. No lectures*, no attitudes, lots of stops, nobody dropped. Don't let the speeds in the other posts on this blog scare you; The Excellent Wife (TEW) is coming along on this one, and she ain't puttin' up with no nonsense from Plain Jim.

Weather is iffy. I'll keep an eye on it; if there's a cancellation or change, there will be an update by 9:00 Saturday night. Insurrection and the Zombie Apocalypse do not seem to be at issue yet. Hope to see youse there.

*That's an arrant lie; there will be two: one will be the safety lecture at the start, and the other will be my rant about mirrors. But I'll get them out of the way early, and there will be no lectures directed at individual riders. If you can keep the bike upright for the distance, you can do this ride.

ed's recovery ride

Today was one of my Wednesdays off, and I was planning to ride with the Old Guys... but I got this email a day or two before from Ed C:
I'm thinking about a 25-40 miler tomorrow morning, perhaps early. Interested in something starting at about 7 or 7:30 AM from Six Mile Run, like maybe a run over to Peacock's?... I need to evaluate whether I can attempt the Tom H. Twin Lights (65-75 mi.) or the Peter H. Mini-Covered Bridges (55 mi.) rides this Sat. I've got the pace, but probably not the stamina, since I had some exercise while off the bike for 7 weeks, but I'm only now getting back on.
Well, now, Ed's just back from umpteen weeks off the bike after a skiing accident... and he's way stronger than the Old Guys... and with rain predicted, a 7:30 start might be just the thing... and, of course, giving him a chance to try himself out before committing himself to a group ride would be the friendly thing to do (and, of course, I'm completely unselfish about wanting to ride with a strong guy like him)... so we corresponded a bit more, and woudl up with this route.

That's just the route, not the actual ride, since, while I was able to get the route into my GPS, I didn't actually remember to turn the ride-saving option on (I plead last night's insomnia and the early start; still: D'OH!). But at the end, Ed's computer showed 16.7 average, 35.5 top speed (higher than mine, I'm sure; he's a much better descender than I), and 41.5 distance (we added a bit as we rode).

At the beginning, we had to deal with rush-hour traffic, but that didn't detract from the beauty of the ride; while we didn't have many of the scenic vistas that Laura OLPH seeks out on her rides, this one had a different kind of localized prettiness. It also had some challenges, including the ride up Dutchtown-Mt Zion, and a stretch of gravel (I misremember where). There was a neat, new-to-me descent on Pin Oak (we could do THAT again), and we went through the old Trenton Psych grounds, which are now parkland and completely unrecognizeable.

Ed and I are well-matched in strength and nearly so in speed, and his temperament doesn't get on my nerves (you'll have to speak to him to see if the corollary is true). I hope to do more with him, and I hope to see him lead some formal rides. And mostly, I'm glad to see him back on the bike; I know he missed it, and I (for one) missed him.

Edit May 18, 2013: From an email from Ed:

On thinking about how to improve things, I've realized that while the Zion climb is good, there is a better way to optimize ride flow around rush hour near the Sourlands. Here's my attempts.[Ed included a couple of .gpx files.] This is the kind of thing I'd enjoy leading in the fall… Just in case anybody (like Laura, Cheryl) tries to follow our route, I have emendments or corrections to the penultimate paragraph of your post. (As you know, I'm a part-time editor…)
  1. Ride up Zion Rd. from Neshanic (not Dutchtown-Mt. Zion)
  2. stretch of gravel- on Dutchtown-Zion between Hollow Rd. and Pin Oak Rd.
  3. descent was on a right turn off Grandview, descending Fairview to Camp Meeting Ave.
And of course this is subjective, but I thought the stretch along the Raritan and the view east from Grandview was Laura-worthy…

Monday, May 13, 2013

not so much a dilemma

In yesterday's post, I made reference to a dilemma, which I now realize I've been overthinking (as is my wont). After giving it a day to percolate, and chatting with a few riders more sensible than I (and their names are legion), I've come to a sweeping decision... well, not so much a sweeping decision as a decision about sweeping.

Most of the time, I take on the responsibility of sweeping, even though nobody asks me to do so. I don't have to do that, especially if it interferes with the ride. And the times when it interferes with the ride include times when either someone tells me not to wait for them, or when there's a rider who clearly can't keep up with the ride.

In the former case, it's clear, although I'd hate to have something happen to someone when they were off the back, and alone, and needed help. In the latter, it may be clear to the others in the group, but not to the rider who can't keep up.

In that case, I don't think I'm doing the slower riders a service by suggesting they really can ride at a pace they clearly can't. In fact, by staying back with them, I may be sending a message that I think they are stronger than they are. It may be better for them, and the stronger riders on the ride, to let them fall back, and perhaps see that this pace, or this specific ride or leader, is not for them.

The Princeton Freewheelers Ride Guidelines page includes the following (it's also in every copy of the paper newsletter):
  1. Do not BIKE OFF more than you can do. Go on rides within your ability and experience. If in doubt, phone the ride leader before the ride.
There is also text in the ride leader guidelines that states that a suggestion can be made to riders who are too fast or too slow that they go off on their own or return to the starting point. Now, I'm not a ride leader, so it's not my place to do this. But I also realize today that it's not my place to try to suggest to riders that they really can do something they can't. It's a disservice to the slow rider, and it also may be to the others on the ride who are keeping up.

(It's probably not an issue on B+ or faster rides, where there is not the expectation that the group will wait for stragglers.)

This is not to say that every last-in-the-group rider should be dropped. I can think of several reasons where slower riders will be welcomed:
  1. The ride is a social one, and riders who are close to the ride class are welcomed, and/or the individual abilities are well-tolerated.
  2. The ride is fast-in-its-class, and riders who are capable of the class, but not fast, are coming along.
  3. The ride is a hilly one. It's my experience that the average on many hilly rides is slower than the posted average for the ride class, and riders who are in the class on flat rides are often slower on hilly rides. On many hilly rides this allowance is not only tolerated, but expected.
  4. A normally-strong rider is having a bad day or unusually bad luck with the bike.
There are probably others.

I expect three reactions to this post: there will be folks with whom I ride frequently (or would like to ride frequently) who will apologize for their pace (most of those fit into bullet one, above; don't worry); other folks who will say (troll-like) something on the order of, "Who asked you, anyway?", and some who will say, "If you don't like to sweep, don't." And I guess that last is what I'm saying, too. I'll sweep when I'm asked, or when it seems to be the right thing to do. I'll probably sweep the riders who can't keep up, so that they aren't hurt, exhausted, or abandoned. But I'm not going to try to encourage riders where I don't think the encouragement is warranted.

And when I get to the point that it's clear that I can't keep up, I hope I will notice, or that one of youse will break it to me, gently, but inescapably.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

ethical dilemma ride

After yesterday's all-day rain, the clear weather today was a relief... AND The Excellent Wife (TEW) informed me that we had a late-day call to visit the Excellent In-Laws for Mother's Day, so I took the opportunity to get in one of the last of Winter Larry's Back-By-Lunch rides for the season; he's about to crawl back into his cave and estivate (it's like hibernate; check the link or look it up) from leading until the leaves start to turn in the fall. Laura OLPH met me for a few extra miles this morning behind Cliff H's office, and we rode in to Cranbury to start the ride.

Eleven of us, including a newcomer (another Jim; don't get us confused). Wind was predicted to kick up later (it did), so Larry picked this route (the link, of course, includes Laura's and my roundabout ride-to-the-ride, and Laura, Tom H's and my fairly-straight route back). We went to Bordentown, which is a nifty town with Victorian and Arts-And-Crafts style houses and a neat view of the river (and a stop where we can't use the toilets, but that's another story).

A a small subgroup of the ride was real slow, and I got impatient... so when it was time to come back after the break in Bordentown, I wound up doing a long pull back up 539, at a pace that I found engaging, and others found fast (there may be complaints about that pace; Larry let me lead back and he stayed with the slower riders). I've been arguing with myself about what to do about these slower riders; that ethical dilemma will make a new post soon.

In the meantime, we're about to head out to The Excellent In-Laws for too much food, Mother's Day, and the last (I hope) of my birthday celebrations.

Friday, May 10, 2013

happy friday

Rain is predicted for tomorrow, and Sunday is Mother's Day, which means a visit with in-laws, so a group ride might not be in the schedule for the weekend. But today was an early-out Friday,and it was 82F when I got home, so I quick got my bike & kit together and did my Coppermine loop.

Some traffic out today, including a school bus coming UP Old Georgetown, as I was going DOWN. I'm not the best descender under ideal circumstances, and that rattled me, so my top speed was only 26.9. Even with that, though, that average speed is good enough for me*.

On the way back up Canal Road, after coming down Old Georgetown, I passed a rider out for a leisurely jaunt. I asked, "So can you think of worse things to do than push your bike around Canal Road on a Friday?"

He said, "Without even thinking too hard."

*Some time over the past week, I first saw this picture:

It reminded me of that Sesame Street song, "C is for Cookie". All week, I've been singing to myself:

C is for Coffee; that's good enough for me.
C is for Coffee; that's good enough for me.
C is for Coffee; that's good enough for me, Oh!
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee start with C!
When I wrote, "good enough for me" up there, it started the whole thing off in my head. Again.

Monday, May 6, 2013

laura's post and pics from clinton slug ride

Laura OLPH has her post up about Saturday's ride, which is not only better-written than mine, but it has, like, twenty more pictures. Check it out.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

happy birthday

Not today, but close ot this day, I celebrate a birthday; this one is my 58th. I've been whining about that number: first, that it's as large as it is (You know how you get to be 58? Don't die.), and second, that it's such a boring number. Last year was my Heinz Varieties birthday, and next year is the first of a pair of twin primes, but the only thing I can imagine to do with 58 is 2x29, and it's just too boring.

However, The Excellent Wife (TEW) came through. I had been hinting... well, no I hadn't; I pretty much outright told her that I'd like the White Shred Kali Chakra Plus helmet and a winter cycling cap from Walz, and there they both were this morning; I gave the helmet a maiden voyage today on a 24-mile ride to Coppermine and the Main Street Cafe. The cap fits underneath the helmet, which was a surprise; my old helmet gave me headaches when I tried to put a hat underneath... but the Kali is certainly better made than the one it replaces, so maybe the fit is just better, too. (And bless TEW for her good sense: one of those Walz caps is the most repellent plaid, but that's not the one she got.)

After the ride, we had a bit of a date: I wanted to go to Arthur's in Morris Plains (we'd been thinking of going there and then forgetting to plan it for years), and to extend the trip a bit, we looked in at the Morris Museum. The museum was mostly a disappointment: mostly kids exhibits and local artists... except there is also the Guinness Collection of Mechanical Musical Instruments and Automata, for which there is a live show and demonstration at 2pm each day.

That's one of the nifty automata; it's a clown who magically removes his head and materializes it in a box on the table, complete with blinking and moving eyes. The demonstration shows how, in a pre-digital (and mostly pre-electric) world, people saved music, and gave machines the data and energy to play it, and how they made entertainment devices move. The docents were knowledgeable and engaging in that geeky way that lovers of a topic have. That show was worth the $10 admission; the rest of the museum manifestly was not.

Then on to dinner at Arthur's in Morris Plains.Arthur's has been there for a gazillion years; I remember going there for burgers in the 80's. The draw for me is a 24oz. steak (TEW had a smaller one). The steak was good, and gone before I came up for air. TEW once asked me how much steak I would eat, and I said as much as she would put in front of me. Now, Arthur's also offers a 48oz. steak, and I may have to go back sometime just to see if I can do that. It would be an exercise in intellectual curiosity, but the results might be fatal. (TEW says she likes the steaks I grill better than the one she had at Arthur's... but you can be sure she's not puttin' no 24 ounces in front of her husband. So I don't feel it's a fair comparison.)

How did I get to be 58?

pic from ride yesterday

Friend Dave C sent me this pic from the ride yesterday (I cropped it a bit). That's Jeff layin' down the law to me (in the red) and Jack ridin' out of frame on the left, at the bottom of some hill or other.

There are worse things to do than push your bike around of a spring Saturday.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

to clinton with the slugs

Laura OLPH called for a late start for this ride - 9:30 am - and a starting point in Lambertville. I don't know if it was the late start or the distant start point that kept the total number down to six today (besides Laura and me, Jack, Dave C, Jeff X L, and newbie John), or if Laura is developing a (totally undeserved) reputation for demanding distances and climbs. I was looking forward to a long, tough one today, because The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I have a date tomorrow that precludes a group ride (your correspondent has an upcoming 58th birthday that is, apparently, deserving of some attention).

I need to rattle on about newbie John's bike, a vintage steel-frame Serotta in the red-and-yellow color scheme I've come to associate with that brand in frames of a certain age. Lugs; steel fork with the graceful curve at the bottom; covered-caliper brakes of a type I'd never seen; obviously well-used (a patina of beausage overall). I probably drooled for the first two miles.

One of the ways you know this was a true Slugs ride is that we took a route different from the one originally planned, and we started right away: instead of picking up Alexsauken Creek Road, we got to pushing things a bit and would up staying on 29 until we were above Stockton. We went past the Sergeantsville bridge, then up Upper Creek on the way to Clinton. Although it was cold when I left the house, I was soon glad that I had left the tights and one of my undershirts in the car; between the day and my exertion, I was warm enough.

In Clinton, Jeff X L and I got into a discussion about technique; I ride with my saddle higher than recommended. He told me what he saw, and mentioned another rider we both know who also transgresses this rule; he said that it might work for the miles we put in, but if we put in more, we would do better with a more conventional saddle position. He's probably right; he's had more experience with competitive riding and being coached than I... but I ride the distance I do, and don't ride competitively (and don't intend to). I'm injury-free after years of this position, and I have more power, and I'm more comfortable, than I was with my saddle lower. So I'll probably go on as I currently do.

Here's the route. The Garmin page shows only 2309 feet of climb, but I got an email from Dave C that he had 4676, and I'm sure that's more like it (Edit: RideWithGPS, and newbie John's riding app, both show about 3600). It was a great day, clear and cool; we could see forever. John suggested we make a calendar with the vistas we saw; I kept saying, "Well, there's May," "Well, that can be June"... but Laura complains that the pictures never come out; they're always flat.

Some of the route was a bit tough; there was a short stretch of dirt road in the first half... but what got may attention (and a bit of my profanity) was Pine Hill Road. I remember Pine Hill Road having two scary descents, the last just before the T-stop. What was a surprise to me (and, I think, to everybody else on this ride) was that there is a section in the middle where the pavement is gone; there is dirt and gravel. So the descent, which was scary anyway, was made that much worse by the road surface; when I caught up to the rest of the group (I'm not the best descender), I remember saying, "What. The. F(you can fill in the rest)."

Laura replied, "I want you to remember two words: Ironbridge Road", a reference to the Slugs reprise of the Castner Murders Ride last fall. We had gone down Ironbridge Road on a day when the surface was a bit wet. She was right; that was worse. At least this road surface was dry.

Then back to Lambertville, without incident. It was a great ride. You shoulda come along. If Laura posts her pics, I'll probably link; they will be worth the visit.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

dennis's 'what was that?' ride

Today was one of my every-other-Wednesdays off, and Erich sent out the email last night about the ride-to-the-ride that the Old Guys, led by Dennis W, take out of Allentown on Wednesdays. I was the only one who responded, and the only one at Etra Park in Hightstown fifty minutes before Dennis's published start time for the ride, when up rolled Erich... and behind him, Don S. So we rolled down to the park in Allentown for Dennis's ride at what I would describe as a stately pace.

We met eleven others in Allentown, and lit out on several of Dennis's favorite roads (he has roads he likes to take, and places he likes to go; the few change-ups in the route today were met with expressions of mild surprise). The weather was warm enough (barely) for Dennis to come out himself (although it's still cold enough early to make clothing decisions difficult - I was thinking of tights, and I could have used 'em for about the first twenty minutes, but by the time we arrived in Allentown I was glad I didn't have 'em).

This route (that's a link) shows the ride-to-the-ride (and back; we do a little detour on the way down) and Dennis's route. Initially, I was hoping for a stop at Olde World Bakery, but we stopped at the convenience store in Columbus instead, where I loaded up on my choice of performance-enhancing substances: caffeine & Splenda.

The wind was with us on the way down, and in our faces on the way back. We cross not-my-favorite-road Route 68 (it's still not as bad as 31) in both directions, and had to ride along it for a ways on the way back... and on that stretch of the road, Dennis was struck in the leg by a mysterious missile. It might have been an arrow, but it looked more to me like one of those little flag signs that are put up on your lawn when the exterminators come. I have no idea, whatever it was, how it came to strike him on the shin (and draw blood); I don't remember seeing either any traffic, or an errant Robin Hood.

It didn't slow him down much, though (much less than the wind did), and we got back to Allentown. Don S was tired for the way back, and suggested Erich and I go on without him, but we weren't havin' any of that, so we returned to Etra together at a rate that was even more dignified than earlier.

Despite the wind, it was a great day: clear, cool, and you could see about to Oklahoma. You wish you had gotten out for a ride today.

'nuff said

I got it from today's Oddman.

(There is the possibility that he knew what he was doing the whole time... but that is too awful to contemplate.)