For some reason, Tom H's rides for this week and next didn't make it into the ride guide. Laura OLPH elected to go with him, and made an announcement of his ride for today on her blog, so I suppose many of my regular riding friends went with them... but "Snakehead" Ed C planned to lead a ride out of Piscataway this morning. Ed's a new leader (and new leaders always need support), and his ride would likely be a little faster and more demanding than Tom's, so I elected to go with Ed.
I didn't know if anybody else would come along, but when I got to the start (Ed lists coordinates that you can plug into Google to find the start location), there was Peter F, relieved that he was in the right place and that a familiar face would be coming along (I persuaded him that he ought to put tights over his shorts; I think he was grateful later). The other person who came was Rick, who had come on the last ride Ed led. (The toilets at this starting point aren't open yet; I snuck through a fence to use a porta-potty in a construction area... it was a foreshadowing of things to come.)
We did this route. We started right off into a wicked headwind, that was with us almost all the way out, and on several parts of the return. Ed had said he was leading us up Dutchtown-Zion, and I was afraid the wind would make that worse than it would be anyway, but luckily, the surrounding trees apparently kept the wind down around there. That last quarter-mile still hasn't been paved, and the recent rains made it muddy; one of my post-ride chores today was cleaning (what seemed like a few pounds of) mud off the bike.
Edit 1: Ed reminded me that along Grouser Road, we saw a herd of about ten deer, who outran us handily on our left, and then crossed ahead of us. I don't remember hearing them complain about the headwind.
Edit 2: And then, just as we were heading down into Hopewell, we came upon the estimable Paul I heading up the other way! Good to see him, and I need to ride with him again soon, too.
On to the Boro Bean in Hopewell. I like this stop; the staff puts up with our silly appearance and treats us with an endearing lack of deference, and the coffee and junk is good (although I should have eaten more; more later). We had a discussion about going back up into the Sourlands to do more hills, or to go more-or-less straight back.
And while we opted for the more-or-less straight-back route, Ed decided to add on more hill, so we went up Fairview, and down Grandview (Rick said he thought we went up Fairview just because Ed wanted to go down Grandview; people who know Snakehead Ed know he loves his descents). We took a roundabout route back to Piscataway, including going over Weston Canal in Manville...
... which was closed. Now, Laura OLPH has the Hill Slug Waders Club, where she promises to buy a coffee for any rider who has to cross a bridge out on any five Slug rides. Ed doesn't have such a club, but if he did, this ride would have counted; you'll see us crossing on an aluminum walkway in the pictures below. (I think we should also get half-a-point for the quarter-mile of Dutchtown-Zion that's not paved... but I digress.)
By that time, I was done; I was tired and hungry, and the last several miles of this ride were an ordeal for me (thank heaven for a mostly-tailwind). I need to eat more before and during a ride that will be this demanding. I hope I wasn't rude to the others, or riding dangerously; I know I was much slower in the last few miles than I had been at any time after the break. Still, great ride; I'll be happy to go out with Ed again.
Pics! At Six Mile Run, where we stopped for an early toilet break:
At the top of Dutchtown-Zion:
At the Boro Bean:
Bridge out. Wait, what?