Friday, September 27, 2013

science not nonsense

  The Popular Science website has disabled comments. From the page:

It wasn't a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter.

Good. Science is not democracy. Just because people deny the Big Bang or global warming (and humanity's part in the latter) doesn't make them less true.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

freewheelers rides & picnic

The weather was threatening all week, but last night it seemed like to day might be a good day for the Princeton Freewheelers September Picnic (and HOW could they have NO MENTION of the picnic on the website?). So The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I got up and got our act together in time to get to Mercer Park East. TEW had plans to find a "D+" ride, and I didn't know if I would do a "B" or "B+" ride.

TEW found a pickup "D+" ride with Dan R. I was torn between Gary W's ride (he showed a sign for a "fast B") and Sue M's ride, but Laura OLPH suggested Sue's ride , because then she wouldn't have to feel inferior if I posted a fast average or time (or something like that) (EDIT: See her comment; I wasn't even close). In the interests of amicitia quam celeritate, I agreed.

We didn't all do the same ride; Sue M was leading from the back, and just before the stop, some went straight, but I went right with Sue and took the long way. We stopped at Bruno's new shop (which is neat, and going to get another visit from me, I'm sure). So maybe this makes up for my missing the route on the McBride Ride last week. (Or maybe not.)

Here's the route I took. It matches the one Sue intended, with the exception of a few yards of Mercer Park bike path at the end.

Did some sweeping on this ride. Early on, a rider was falling off the back; he (sensibly) decided that this ride was too much for him and went back. I give him a lot of credit for that. Later, leader Sue M was in back, she may have been getting caught by the wind (as it's clear some others were). We were heading into the wind as we went back to the park, I provided to some of our cohort an impromptu lesson in drafting.

When I got back, TEW was already back from her ride, although I missed her for a bit. With the new Synapse, the D+ ride was both too short and not fast enough for her.

I fear I've created a monster.

Pics below. Most of 'em didn't come out, and I ran out of battery again. Gathering for the ride:

On the ride:

The Excellent wife, herself!

Post-ride picnic (some of these took a LOT of post-processing):

Saturday, September 21, 2013

laura's double-shot ride

Ever since Rojo's opened a satellite location in Princeton's Palmer Square, Laura OLPH had had this idea of riding to the Princeton Rojo's, coffeeing-up, then riding to the Lambertville Rojo's for another hit of caffeine-y wonderfulness, but she said she didn't expect the opportunity to arise quite this quickly. Nonetheless, Cheryl M has a birthday coming this week, and this ride, which I've come to call Laura's Double-Shot, seemed the perfect thing, so the ride announcement on Laura's blog included this:

It's Cheryl's birthday and we'll ride like she wants to:  mellow, yet caffeinated.

Rojo's Roastery, our regular Lambertville hangout, has a second location in Princeton.  Cheryl needs caffeine.  So, here's what we're going to do:

We'll start in Lawrenceville, near Cheryl's house, and ride the 7 or so miles it takes to get to Palmer Square, where we'll have the first cup of the day.  Then we'll get going for real and head to Lambertville, where we'll have our real rest stop and another cuppa.

How could I ignore such a wily come-on?

Six others had the same idea, along with Laura, Cheryl, and me, so nine of us (I think everybody except me is represented in the pictures below) did this route. It was cold to start, and we had some debate about what to wear and how many layers; I decided to keep a long-sleeve layer under my short-sleeve jersey, which turned out to be too much later in the day. That straight-shot to the northeast from the start is basically about seven miles of Princeton Pike/Mercer Road, which Laura does as her commute when she rides to work. She got into commute mode, a few of the faster folks fell in with her, and the next thing you know, a few of us were rippin' up Princeton Pike at 21+mph before Cheryl could wake her legs up; she spent much of the rest of the ride talking about definitions of the word, "mellow" (see super). We were mellow at the stops, though; they were both long stops with chat and silly puns. And I have photo proof below that we did both of them.

The route was many of our favorite roads, including one of my favorites, Alexsauken Creek, which, as far as I'm concerned, is fifteen minutes of vacation. We got to the OTHER Rojo's, where I had iced coffee (the day was warming up from the mid-50° early-morning), and where the ice cubes in the coffee are MADE from coffee (nice touch). Rojo's is much more upscale than the Dunkin' Donuts I usually go to, and I hope I didn't creep out the locals or bring down the tone of the establishment.

Then back up Quarry/Rocktown/Lambertville to the right at Harbourton to see the dinosaur. WE picked up some traffic that got caught among the bikes; we couldn't get out of each others' way, and I got caught up in the going up the hill... it's hard work going up that hill that slow! By the time we were heading back home, it was later in the day than I thought; Cheryl invited people in for coffee & muffins, but I wanted to head home to see The Excellent Wife (TEW), who was doing a short ride this morning. If the weather holds, both of us will be at the PFW September picnic tomorrow. Hope to see some of youse there!

Pics: First near the start:

At the Princeton Rojo's:

Lambertville Rojo's:

Monday, September 16, 2013

have the body snatchers invaded?

Last week, my job was threatened. Instead of suffering a panic attack (which is my usual reaction; I have an anxiety disorder), I took the threat almost in stride, and made plans to deal with it. (The threat has since been reduced, it appears.)

On Friday, The Excellent Wife (TEW), with some immediacy, pointed out that there was room for improvement in my driving. Instead of the usual ensuing argument, we agreed to route around a location that causes her repeated stress.

On Sunday, I got separated from my group, and lost, several times on the Ride for McBride. When I found my group again, Laura OLPH was certain I was going to be furious. I wasn't.

What on earth has happened to me?

In the original movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, people are replaced by emotionless clones. I keep looking for the trucks full of human-sized pods. It's the only explanation that makes sense.

(I also expect I'll be back to shouting, panic, and throwing blame like emotional Frisbees, any minute now.)

makes sense to me

Makes sense to me.

From today's Oddman.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

lost & alone on the mcbride ride

Today was the annual Ride for McBride, a charity ride (proceeds go to a scholarship for a student at the Social Work school at UPenn). The Hill Slugs put together a team to do the 50-mile ride. On yesterday's ride, Laura OLPH, Ron S, and I agreed to meet for a ride-to-the-ride (I'm a sucker for extra miles), and we didn't have any idea how many we'd have at the start.

We left with sixteen, with varying abilities for near-A-level to kind-of-C+-level. Although we were good about getting back together at intersections and turns,we were spread out, on more than one occasion, over more than a mile. I swept, and, thinking that I had the GPS with me, and that I'd always be able to at least see the main group, I didn't carry a cue sheet. Do you see where this is leading?

Before the rest stop, I was back with one of the slow riders, and lost sight of the group. I knew we were coming to the rest stop, but didn't know where it was... and we blew right past it, and went on for a couple of miles before we figured out our error and went back. As we went back, I saw our group leaving the rest stop and proceeding on. I went back to the stop, and after a quick refresh (ahem), decided I'd try to catch up with the group. I was angry.

But he GPS kept losing the route, and I couldn't keep track of the road markings. I went back and forth (I got lost four times near one turn) and finally picked up the arrows again, and pedaled like crazy to try and catch up to the group  ahead of me. My average before the break was about 14.8, and by the end of the main ride was 16.4.

An odd thing happened to the anger as I was proceeding alone on the route. I realized i couldn't be angry at the planners, or the rest of the group, or anybody else but myself. It was my responsibility to carry a cue sheet, or to keep up with my group (which I could have easily done if I hadn't fallen back with the straggler). Even now, hours later, I'm surprised at this. Who IS this guy? What has happened to me? I was eager to explain this to the other riders on my team when I got to the end.

Except the main group wasn't ahead of me. Evidently, when I was lost, I cut off part of the route where they were, and I got into the stop ahead of them. There's a picture below of Chris C threatening to ride into me as I was aiming the camera at him. Laura thinks that I cut off part of the route when I was lost, and went around the main group. She'll look at my route (that's on RideWithGps, the Garmin site is not responding as I write this, and the route includes our rides to and from the start), and. I hope, point out the error of my ways (and how apropos is that idiom in this context!).

Some pictures below. I only got three in the morning before the cold affected the batteries.

John & Jane Danek:

The rest are from after the ride, when the batteries had warmed up:

Here's Chris threatening to make roadkill of me:

Laura and the Wottons think I found a wormhole:

Mighty Mike!

Two Rons:

My favorite part of this picture is that nobody who's in it will like it very much.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

laura olph post guru fit ride

Laura OLPH got fitted with the Guru system over at Hart's, and had her flats bike, Kermit, and her hill bike, Miss Piggy, adjusted to reflect the results of the Guru fit. She wanted a hilly-but-not-too-much-so ride to test out the fit on Piggy prior to doing the McBride Ride tomorrow, so she sent out an email request to a few of the Hill Slugs.

Ron S and I agreed to go, and we hoped some others might. I met Laura before the start to get in a few extra miles (her husband, Professor Jack, says that work on his survey book on reference works is proceeding; I can hardly wait, and I have promised him at least one sale!). We picked up Ron S at the usual Pennington site... and no one else came.

So the three of us did this route. Not too hilly; we went up Poor Farm, but we went DOWN Rileyville (I didn't know you were ALLOWED  to go down Rileyville). Here's Ron coming around an early turn.

... and Laura, just long enough later for me to have the camera ready:

Here's the two of 'em:

And just because sometimes I need to get all "meta" and self-referential, here's me taking a picture of Laura taking a picture.

 I asked Laura a few times whether she thought the fit made a difference. Early on, she thought if she were as fast as Ron going up Poor Farm, that would make the difference (she wasn't), but at the end of the ride, she noticed that she was riding on the hoods of the handlebars much more than she had in the past (she usually used to ride on the "flats", which is what I call the sections of the handlebar immediately adjacent to the stem). The careful eye will note in the picture above of both Laura and Ron that she is doing a tuck, which she rarely does. At at the end, the back pain which seems to be a regular post-ride event for her was not so strongly in evidence. I came to the conclusion that she thought the fit was a success... but we'll see how she does on the McBride Ride tomorrow. (Are you comin'? Wear red - Joe's favorite color.)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

icedot crash sensor

Dave H sent me the link to this video. It's the teardown of a crash sensor that links to an app on our smartphone; if it thinks you've been in a crash, it messages people on your contact list. Which is probably a good idea...

...but what REALLY nails me are the smart, earnest, alt-looking women doing the video. Between the sky-blue nail polish on the one young woman, and the pink hair on the other... and the way they rattle off those parts and their features and capabilities... well, I had a geek-gasm right here at the keyboard.

Dave's link was to the Velonews article... but I'm heading over to Adafruit videos in search of more geekly excellence. Thanks, Dave!

ride for mcbride

I don't think I ever met Joe McBride, but I know a number of his friends, and by them, I can tell a lot about him. He was clearly salty, opinionated, and well-loved. He taught at the U Penn School of Social Policy & Practice.

He was killed in a cycling accident a few years ago, and, ever since, his friends and family have a charity ride in his honor, going for a scholarship to that school. The first was a pickup ride in the November after he died; subsequent rides have been more organized. I've supported all of them (I didn't ride one due to illness), and I keep a red jersey - evidently Joe's favorite color - specifically to do this ride.

This year's ride is Sunday, Sept 15. Laura OLPH and the Hill Slugs are going. We'll be starting about 8am.

Come on out. Ride for a guy who loved riding, who was loved by riders, and who lived, but not long enough.

Monday, September 9, 2013

roly poly fish heads

So do you remember that fish head in the road on the Sourland Spectacular ride? Jackie F got a picture of it:

I'm not smart enough to make this stuff up.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

sourland spectacular

Laura OLPH and I had some disagreement about whether she had formed a team to ride the Sourland Spectacular today (I thought she had, but it was news to her), but six of us got together to do it anyway: besides us, there were Ron S, Jackie, Joe M, and Ed C (first time I've seen him on a ride since about Easter!).

The organizers of the event said that the final route would be up by Thursday night, so insomniac Plain Jim downloaded a cue sheet at 4:30 Friday morning and loaded the route into MapMyRide.Com so I could get a .gpx file for the Garmin. But on the way out of the first rest stop, they had us go right instead of left, or left instead of right, and we wound up doing this route. I have never had a GPS route file for an organized ride that was accurate, and this was no exception.

It was cold at the start; one rider said he saw 46°. Here are a few of us shivering at the sign-in:

Before we left, Jackie had a flat; she & Ron repaired it... and then she had another about twenty feet into the ride, so back she went to the mechanic at the start. Here's Oscar from Hart's setting 'em straight.

And so off we went. The first rest stop was also the third rest stop; I forgot to get pictures the first time we went... possibly because just before the stop, there was a fish head the size of a softball in the road. Was it left by a huge, but disoriented seagull? Was it a message to the damn bikers that we would sleep with the fishes? The mystery has not been cleared up.

After the rest stop (and the wrong-way direction that so confused the GPS - grrr...), we proceeded along. Some pictures of that part of the route (I zipped up some hills to get some pictures of people coming behind me).

Laura and Joe M (and some people I don't recognize) below:

I like this of Jackie:

Later, Laura & Ron:

The second rest stop was at a winery (I forget which). It was beautiful.

There's Carol Heffler, below, manning the rest stop. Her husband, Michael, is one of the forces behind this ride.

Some pictures at the third stop:

This woman told us that she had seen to the disposal of the offending fish head:

There's Joe getting something to drink...

... from this delightful young lady:

Ron & Jackie. I think that's Ed you can see between them. How did I not get a better picture of him?

After the ride, Laura was complaining of back pain, so she hung from a low branch for a minute (I think she'd seen Jackie do it). Then she did a couple of pull-ups to show us how it's done:

Not only is that John W looking at you in this picture, it's Peter H sitting on the ground looking away.

Good swag at this ride. Biking caps (too small for my big head, so The Excellent Wife [TEW] got mine), pizza from Nomad Pizza, pulled pork sandwiches, brownie sundaes, and free samples of Bai Antioxidant drink. Bai may be snake oil, but it's good-tasting snake oil. Laura & Jackie at the table:

Good ride. Great day. Lots of swag, good stops, not-too-demanding route. Some of the proceeds go to the support of the Sourland Planning Council. I'd do it again.