Saturday, November 30, 2013

frosty invitational ride

None of my regular favorite ride leaders were going out today, and the B ride out of Cranbury was listed as led by "volunteer". Previous year's experience indicates that the means there will be no leader for the B ride, so the B+ riders will offer to ride with the B riders. The B+ riders will promise to keep the pace to one where the B riders will keep up, but the ride will break up anyway... and I didn't want to do that.

I went to the Freewheelers Facebook page* and put up a post asking if anybody was going out today. Paul I said he had a friend were going out, and there were a few other responses. Paul had invited me out before, at a time I couldn't go, and I wanted to take him up on his invitation.

*A word on the Facebook thing: I had SWORN I would not do Facebook after a couple of bad experiences in the past. I didn't think there was anything on Facebook in which I was interested. But first, there are rides that get announced on the Freewheelers Facebook page that don't get listed anywhere else. And second, the New Brunswick Bike Exchange does much of their info-dissemination through Facebook. So it was either get on Facebook, or miss out on these opportunities. I tell myself that by using a pseudonym ("Plain Jim"), and by putting as little information as possible on my own Facebook page, I'm minimizing my risk. I know I'm lying to myself.

So I went to Pennington to meet Paul and the other rider; it turned out there were TWO other riders: Alf, with whom I've ridden on a few of Winter Larry's rides and whom I've seen on a few other occasions, and Andrew, whom I remember having a bit of a competition with on one of Ken Leon's rides, years ago. I wasn't sure I could keep up with these guys (they're a couple of what Laura OLPH refers to as the "fast boys"), but there I was... so off we went.

We did this route.  First of all... it was cold to start. I wear a neck gaiter on cold days; I had it up to my mouth to keep my chin warm, and I could feel that the condensation from my breath was freezing on the fabric. My brow ached from the cold. My toes were numb to start (Alf and I had a bit of conversation later about the loss of toes, and how it would make for a lighter rider... and it's not like skiing, where you need them for steering!).

Second, they started right off by leading us up Poor Farm Road, one of the demanding hills in the area (did I hear Paul mutter a sarcastic "gee, thanks" under his breath?). They kept up a fast pace. I've gone up that hill a number of times, but not with these guys, and after burning up the hill, I stopped at the top to catch my breath and decide if I wanted to throw up or not. I eventually decided against it, but there were cogent arguments on both sides of the question.

Off we went. After a while, I realized I was able to keep up with the pace they set (although I'm sure they could have cleaned my clock if they wanted to sprint for a bit). We went up Lindbergh Road, another local hill of some reputation, and got spread out. I kept the rearmost rider in my mirror (that "sweep" thing I do doesn't go away easily), and I was glad for the opportunity to coast for a bit. But all in all, I was glad I was able to keep up. (And we didn't stop at Peacock's! I thought that was a requirement!).

After Lindbergh, at about mile 19, Paul went his own way, and I rode back to Princeton with Andrew and Alf (Alf promised he'd direct me back to the car, which I'd parked in Pennington). We stopped at the new Rojo's for coffee (evidently a tradition with these guys; Alf said they try to keep this ride going throughout the winter), where we traded lies and slandered people we know... and they invited me to come along with 'em again! I was flattered.

I was also about done. I had about 7 miles to get back to the car, and along the way, riding with Alf, I pretty much hit the wall. Alf was kind enough to keep to my pace and give me directions back. I crawled back to the car (I'm sure I brought the ride average down), and met The Excellent Wife (TEW) at the Main St Cafe for lunch.

No pics today; in my holiday ditziness, I forgot the camera. Next time, guys!

Friday, November 29, 2013

bikes from cars


It's from a site called "Bicycled", and they're making bikes out of junked cars.

This is the start of a good idea. I like the re-use of car parts, and the imaginative use of blinkers, upholstery, and door handles. But I think they've got a way to go. That saddle looks chafe-y in the perineal "taint" region, and, for a bike used in an urban area, a quick-release on the seatpost is an invitation to theft (and why do you need a quick release on the seatpost, anyway? How often to you change your saddle height?). I'd sooner see those door handles as downtube shift levers.

I don't expect to see 'em soon; the site is apparently in Spain, and they really are making 'em one-by-one.

Edit 11/30/13: Laura OLPH, having a bit of trouble logging in to leave the comment, wrote: "What I tried to write was that the quick-release seat post is to prevent theft/vandalism. It allows a commuter to bike in, lock up, and take the saddle inside (which also keeps it dry, should there be rain, but then I guess the inside if the frame gets wet instead)." I never thought of that! As for the frame getting wet inside, you could cover the opening with a plastic bag, or you could use liberally a product like Boeshield...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

folding bicycle helmet

Laura OLPH sent me this link to an article about a folding bicycle helmet.

I've seen a number of articles about it, and there was a Kickstarter campaign that raised the requested amount. I've seen other articles about other folding helmets; this one actually looks like it will offer the protection that conventional cycle helmets do (as some did not; I saw one, that I can't find now, that had some kind of honeycomb-folding-arrangement that looked like it would crush under thumb pressure).

Is the problem with helmets, though, that they are bulky? I don't think so. For helmets to be more widely adopted, I think they need at least one, and maybe both, of two things. First, at least some have to NOT look like racer helmets - probably better they look like conventional hats of some type. And second, they gotta solve the problem of helmet hair. Do either (or preferably both) of those, and that helmet will probably win wide acceptance.

Don't we wish.

just sayin'...

Not a thought with much gratitude for this Thanksgiving Day... but what are you gonna do?

From today's Oddman.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

oddman bike pics

I've linked to my daily addiction, Oddman, before. Today's is all about bicycles.

I like 'em. But I can't decide which of the two guys below I want to be. Him?

... or him?

Go check out the pics, already.

Friday, November 22, 2013

inmates fixing bikes for bike exchange. good idea.

Laura OLPH sent me this article about inmates at Trenton State fixing bikes for the Trenton Bike Exchange (in a Department of Corrections warehouse, not at the shop on Olden Ave). I've been trying to come up with something pithy to say on top of that. but the only thing I can think of is, "How is this anything other than a good idea? Why isn't it happening at, like, every jail and prison in the country?"

I recently listened to this podcast of Robert Pollie's 7th Ave Project. The podcast is about inmates finding meaning in prison. I'm not naive enough to think that every inmate is going to benefit from this kind of thing (although the folks getting the bikes sure will), but it's still the right thing to do.

(While you're at it, go check out the 7th Avenue Project links in the previous paragraph. The podcasts are great; they're among the things I listen to while I exercise. I just wish I could get more of 'em.)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

shortish, warmer-than-i-expected ride with winter larry

After yesterday's ride on the Columbia Trail, I was tired today when I got up (that ride was tougher than I expected). The weather was iffy when I went to bed (I'm an early-to-bed kind of guy: down about 9pm, up about 4-5 am), but the prediction was better this morning... nonetheless, I decided to forgo extra miles and meet the folks in Cranbury for Winter Larry's regular Sunday ride.

Marco leads a slower ride out of the same place (the Cranbury Knapp's lot) at the same time, so only a dozen of the eighteen-or-so in the lot were for Larry's ride. It was raw cold when we started; I had three layers on, and tights, but others had shorts, and I think Laura OLPH had arm warmers which she may later have doffed. My three layers were far too much; I shed one at the early stop at Stonebridge Deli (they still treat us like folks there!).

We did this route. It's a bit short, for two reasons: there was fog, and then the fog turned to mist, which was heavy enough that it might have been rain (but it wasn't). Every time we stopped (at an intersection, or for a crossing), my glasses fogged up from the humidity. And when we looked to where the weather was likely to come from, clouds were threatening; we thought it might be good to cut this a bit short and not get caught in rain, if it were to come. Also, some of our number had commitments and had to get back. So 37 miles, at a pretty good pace for a "B" ride.

Some news; I haven't seen Mark H for months (there's a good picture of him below). It turns out he had a crack in his titanium frame, and it took him a while to get a new frame; he's now got it (another Ti, of course), made up with most of the parts from his previous bike. I also have seen Ed C only rarely for about the past year, but he came out; grant-writing season is over, so we may see some more of him.

A few pic's below:

I like that one above of Al L layin' down the law. He and Dan R didn't go on our ride, but Andrew, on the recumbent, did.

Above: Mark H. Could there be any question?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

off-road ride

Today's scheduled Hill Slugs ride was, in the words of leader Laura OLPH, "...outsourced to Cheryl and her biking buddies from northern New Jersey. The ride will be a 30-mile out-and-back trip on the Columbia Trail, a rails-to-trails project that goes from Long Valley to High Bridge along the Raritan River." Afterwards, they were going to repair to a brew pub (where I don't belong), and it looked like it was going to be an all-day affair. I didn't want to go, initially, but Laura persuaded me.

This website for the Columbia Trail says it's11 miles long, but we got 15 from the beginning in Bartley (on the Morris County part of the trail) to the end in High Bridge (in Hunterdon County). Since it's a rails-to-trails project, much of it travels the old railroad right-of-way (some of those turns were too tight for any train; I'm sure there have been adjustments since the last train went through), and since the trains couldn't manage huge hills, the grades are reasonable - uphills are long and low. It also means, as you'll see from the pictures, that there are some gorges made by the high railroad berms over the low river; some of the views are dramatic.

There is some local weirdness, too: in one place, was passed a graveyard of cars rusting into ore, including two MG's, a vintage Mustang, and a service truck I could not describe (see the pics below). In another, not content with putting up birdhouses, the locals have placed a series of gnome homes.

I didn't know much about off-road riding (and, after this ride, I realize I still don't). I didn't realize what a workout 30 miles (15 out and the same distance back; no GPS route because I don't have a mount for the hybrid) would be. On the way back, we stopped at that neat Califon stop, and I was glad for the rest. Leader Tom (one of the referenced "northern biking buddies") said that you don't coast for much of the distance, and he's right - I didn't pedal ALL the way (on my heavy hybrid), but I didn't coast much, even on the (gentle) downhills. Chris C was trying to give me a basic education in mountain biking, but not much of it stuck. In addition to Cheryl, Laura, Tom, Chris, and me, we had Ron S and another northerner, Dave; a bit later we were joined by Al, one of Tom's friends. Al and I matched paces a bit on the way back.

At the end, the rest went off to the brew pub, and I went home to The Excellent Wife (TEW), who's having a birthday. We've been out to the Blue Point Grill, and now I'm back with laundry in the dryer and typing up this post. In a bit, she'll get her present: a gift certificate to the Forrestal Marriott Spa, where she'd be a regular if we were wealthier.

YONKS of pictures below:

Below, Tom offers me a toast while Laura takes a picture:

I like the one below of Chris.

Below, the auto graveyard:

Gnome homes:

The car below shows how far above the road and the river the trail goes:

Below: Tom would be a lot of fun if he'd just loosen up a bit. (And is Laura taking another picture?)

Below, you can see the shadow of the trail bridge below the fly-fisherman.

Friday, November 15, 2013

ride with dave & joe

A couple of the guys I ride with, Dave C & Joe M, live in the same neighborhood in Morrisville, PA, along with two or three other riders; Joe calls the group the "Boys from the 'Hood". Dave is off on Fridays, and, when he heard my every-other-week-day-off was switching from Wednesdays to Fridays, he invited me to ride with him and Joe on some of them. We've just not gotten it together to do so, until this week; I got emails from Dave inviting me, and then a flurry of texts last night (many of which came during my condominium board meeting, causing our property manager to raise an eyebrow). We agreed to a 10:00am start this morning, and Dave warned me not to be late. (HAH! I get up by 5:30 most days, and I'm almost always early; 10:00 to me is like midafternoon to most folks.)

I left extra time to get there, and was lucky I did; traffic on Route 1 south was heavy; it took over 45 minutes for what Mapquest promised would be a 27-minute trip. Still, I got to Dave's house about 9:30, and sent a text asking if he was awake yet. He was, and came out in what looked like his pajamas and a sweater to invite me in.

Dave's working on an experiment to see if the Stan's No-Tubes gunk will make a tube as flat-resistant as a tire; he showed me two tubes he'd used in an experiment. The first tube was slightly overinflated, and he showed me about half-a-dozen places where he'd punctured the tube, and the sealant had re-sealed the holes (it takes working the tube after the puncture to get the gunk to work). Then he showed me the remains of a tube he'd inflated without the sealant, and then punctured. The ragged edges of the blown-out section, about 4" long, showed where he'd inserted the pin. "Well, it's like a balloon, then, isn't it?", he said, or words to that effect.

We suited up and rode the short distance to Joe's house, and then did this route. Although it was cold and not sunny, it was a beautiful day and a pretty ride; that section of Bucks County is attractive (and just hilly enough! Why don't Freewheeler's do more rides there? It's certainly closer than many of the rides we do north and west). I didn't get pictures, because in this small group, I didn't want to be a drag, but with a larger group or with more stops, I would have done.

Along the way, Dave got a chance to try out his sealant; he picked up a heavy staple in his front tire. He pumped it up, and we went on. He had to pump it up again two more times (I think) over the course of the ride... but it was much easier to do that than to change the tube, and the size of the staple hole was much bigger than most of the tube punctures I've seen.

No break on this ride, so by the time I got home, I was ready to eat the hinges... but my weight's been creeping up, and I gotta be good. Oh, well. I just got an email that Bruce K is switching his ride to an hour later for tomorrow, and may not go at all if it's below 40°; let's see what tomorrow brings.

Here's Joe, below:

... and Dave, below. With that helmet cover, I think Dave looks like he's wearing a turban.

people in cities are happier, more productive

Among the people with whom I grew up, there was a common folks wisdom that city life was miserable and bucolia was always better. Now there's evidence that people in cities are happier.

I get a daily email from Delancey Place, with a tidbit of nifty knowledge. Today's was about people in cities:
"Two hundred forty-three million Americans crowd together in the 3 percent of the country that is urban. Thirty-six million people live in and around Tokyo, the most productive metropolitan area in the world. Twelve million people reside in central Mumbai, and Shanghai is almost as large. On a planet with vast amounts of space (all of humanity could fit in Texas -- each of us with a personal townhouse), we choose cities."

Why would we do that?

"... Americans who live in metropolitan areas with more than a million residents are, on average, more than 50 percent more productive than Americans who live in smaller metropolitan areas. These relationships are the same even when we take into account the education, experience, and industry of workers. They're even the same if we take individual workers' IQs into account. The income gap between urban and rural areas is just as large in other rich countries, and even stronger in poorer nations. ..."

 "..."There is a myth that even if cities enhance prosperity, they still make people miserable. But people report being happier in those countries that are more urban. In those countries where more than half of the population is urban, 30 percent of people say that they are very happy and 17 percent say that they are not very or not at all happy. In nations where more than half of the population is rural, 25 percent of people report being very happy and 22 percent report unhappiness."
 Hrmph. Thought so. Smarter maybe?

"Cities, the dense agglomerations that dot the globe, have been engines of innovation since Plato and Socrates bickered in an Athenian marketplace. The streets of Florence gave us the Renaissance, and the streets of Birmingham gave us the Industrial Revolution. The great prosperity of contemporary London and Bangalore and Tokyo comes from their ability to produce new thinking. Wandering these cities -- whether down cobblestone sidewalks or grid-cutting cross streets, around roundabouts or under freeways -- is to study nothing less than human progress."

(And don't kid yourself. Most of the people who see this blog live in cities, even if you have a lawn and a mailbox at the road.)

Subscribe to Delancey Place here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

the old guys don't need me to sweep

I was off today for Veteran's day, and decided to improve upon the time by riding with the Old Guys, as I used to on Wednesdays and sometimes do now on Fridays. The Monday ride leaves from Etra Park in Hightstown, and in this cold weather, the old guys usually shorten their ride, so to add miles, I drove to Cranbury and rode a few miles from there to the start.

Eighteen of us did this ride. I was surprised to see so many on a cold day (it was about 44° at the start; it warmed up a bit later, then clouds came and it cooled again). The old guys have a range of cycling abilities, and within a short time, we were spread out over half a mile or more, with the strong riders up front, and me and some slower guys in the back.

Now, some of those slower guys ride slower because they're just slow, it's true. But a number of 'em ride slower because it's just not important to 'em to ride fast. They're in the back telling stories, trading insults, and catching up, and not being bothered by a need to impress me or anyone else.

Further, I sweep for 'em when I go... but I only go with 'em about 5-10% of the times they go out in a year, and they don't need my sweep services. They look out for each other, but they know the roads, and most of 'em can get back on their own. Sometimes somebody needs a pull, but they keep an eye on one another pretty well, even when the group separates and breaks up.

We did break up after the stop; two of the slower guys and I got separated from the faster main group, but they would have done well without me; we three kept in visual contact and set a pace we all could handle. We got into the stop as one of the faster guys was pulling out. I caught up with Bruce K, who lives in Cranbury, and we rode back to his house together, then I got back to the car.

Pic's below:

That above is another picture I like more than I have any right to do.

There's a better picture of that mask further down. Don't worry; he's not about to be involved in a bike-jacking.

It's not as good as Califon, but I really like this stop in Jackson Mills.

The fellow on the left above (I've lost his name) has asthma, and wouldn't be able to ride in this cold were it not for that mask. It stands out from his face a bit farther than a surgical mask, and keeps a quantity of air warm. When he breathes, the pre-warmed air is much easier on his lungs than the cold outside air.

That little girl above, in the red tutu and the silver boots, was one of the highlights of the ride. She was a handful to her mom, I'm sure, but she was a source of entertainment to us.

Did I mention I like pictures of bikes?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

windy day with winter larry

No group ride yesterday; nothing caught my eye, so I did about 24 miles from home, up Coppermine and down Old Georgetown, then to the Main St Cafe to see if I could find any Major Taylor riders there (there were, but I didn't know them, so I came straight back). Afterwards, The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I went to the Czestochowa shrine in Doylestown to pick up a large-type Polish-language bible for the excellent parents-in-law, and then discussed the quality of the relationship (a monthly observance) and went out for dinner.

Today I got out with Laura OLPH; we met at the usual place to do a few extra miles before Winter Larry's ride. There were twelve of us, as well as two who hoped to do Marco's slower ride, but he was not there at the time we left; they stayed to wait for him.

Heavy winds were predicted, and Larry bowed to the forces of meteorology by picking a route that would have us going into the wind on the way out, so it would be at our back on our return. We wound up doing this route out to Rocky Hill. It's a good thing we did plan it that way; the wind was tough on the way out, and would have been worse if we were more tired. John and Jane D were with us, and did it on fixed-gear bikes, but they went off about the time we took the break. As we were there at the bagel shop on 206, the clouds were rollin' in and the sky darkenin' up, some of use were eager to get back. We voted to come straight back, and instead of riding all the way to Cranbury, then back into the wind to the cars, Laura and I dropped off as we passed where we were parked, allowing the others to go on - we still had an extra eight miles on the way in, so I don't feel mileage-deprived. (We did have some hot speeds coming back to Cranbury - you can see that there wasn't much elevation on this ride, so that top speed might have been from the tailwind in Rocky Hill.)

This was my first group ride on the new wheels. I don't notice a lot of difference from the previous wheels (which is good; I was afraid these would be notably worse!). I did notice that I had adjusted the front brakes wrong; there was a substantial rub that slowed me down until I opened the brake before Cranbury, and I did a quick on-the-road re-adjustment there, which made all the difference. I've also had a problem with the shifting hanging up, but I think that is a problem with the chain adjustment for the new hub, not the wheel itself. I'll keep playing with the setting until it's right. Then I'll probably keep playing with it some more, anyway, because I can never leave well enough alone when it comes to things velo.

I actually forgot to take many pics today; here's what I got: