Sunday, July 27, 2014

what a bmx bike is for

That's what a BMX bike is for. I love displays of virtuosity.

short solo ride, and a clean bike

I was planning to do Ken G's "Ride the Hills with Hart's" ride today, but 1) I am so roundly sick of getting rained on, and 2) in all honesty, I am more tired from yesterday's ride than I had expected, so I just took the bike out to do a short ride, not too far from home, so I could hightail it in if the precipitation warranted. But despite the gloomy prediction, the skies held back. I decided not to push too hard, to push when I felt like it and relax the rest of the time (see the meditation near the bottom of this post on Laura OLPH's blog for the inspiration for that decision), and then I wound up thinking about another route for my slow ride next month (probably the last I'll do)... in any case, I wound up doing this ride.

It was just enough.

Then, with visions from yesterday's ride of Tom's immaculate drivetrain in my head, I came home and did the full cleaning of the bike.

Complete this phrase: A clean bike is:
  1. A sign that your obsessive-compulsive disorder is returning with a vengeance;
  2. Not a bike that I've ever seen outside a shop;
  3. A happy bike;
  4. What happens when the weather won't let me ride enough.
Full cleaning, for me, means:
  • Clean the chain (with mineral spirits; I know it's enviro-toxic, but I use about a twentieth of the quantity I used to use of water-based degreasers, in addition to dirtying up gallons of water - and the mineral spirits does a better job);
  • Drop the wheels off;
  • Wash the bike with spray detergent, rinse with water. Go over the greasy stuff with a wipe with mineral spirits on a rag.
  • Wash the brake pads with detergent, rinse with water.
  • Wash the wheels (hubs and rims) with detergent, and rinse. Pay special attention to the braking surfaces.
  • Clean the cogset/cassette with mineral spirits and a brush. Wipe with a length of sisal twine run between the gears (this time; every second time I do it, I take the cassette apart and do the deep cleaning).
  • Lube the chain using Ken G's "just enough lube" technique (after replacing the wheels, of course).
  • Test ride to make sure the brakes don't squeak (and to hear the glorious silence of a newly-lubed drivetrain).
Why don't more of us do more of our own maintenance? Why do so many riders do NONE of their own maintenance?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

mcbride ride 2014 rehearsal, plus extra miles

Laura OLPH's announcement read:
I have a 66-mile route planned for Saturday.  It's flat, and this time I promise I won't make wrong turns.  We'll start at the East Picnic Area at Mercer County Park at 8:30 a.m.  We'll pick up the 50-mile Ride for McBride route (sign up now for the September 20 event) south of Allentown.  There will be two rest stops.... If 66 miles isn't enough, start with me at my house at 7:45 a.m. and finish with 80 miles.  Let me know ahead of time and I'll make enough coffee.
I knew I wouldn’t make it in time for coffee, but I did get there for the extra miles, as did Ed C. After some potting around, we headed over to Mercer East, and picked up Tom, Gary S, and Barry, and headed out to do this route.

Well, that was the plan. When we got to New Egypt, it was raining. Perusal of the radar was not promising; at first, Laura couldn't get a radar image at all; when she did, it looked like there was going to be rain for hours. So we put away the cue sheets, and planned on taking a direct route back to Mercer East.

But about ten minutes after our departure from New Egypt, the rain let up, the sky looked clearer, and we decided to continue the route anyway. And we did.

A few minutes after that decision, Laura heard the sound of a flat from Ed's wheel... but we couldn't find the flat, and Ed uses the "Stan's No-Tubes" system, which uses sealant to keep the tires from flatting. We couldn’t find a problem, and Ed completed the ride on his tire. (In addition to the no-tubes, Ed's looking at putting together a bike with a drive belt and disk brakes; Ed is, if anything, even more into bike weirdness than I. Ed's also raised his saddle a bit, and is now giving me a challenge on the hills where I used to be able to easily outrun him. He was already a better descender than I. He credits Jeff X with the suggestion, and it seems to be effective.)

Although Ed didn't have a tire problem, Tom did; he may have had a slow leak for a while, but Barry noticed his tire was down. Tom changed his tire, and I couldn't help noticing his drivetrain; it was clean enough to eat from. We got to talking about how he maintains his chains; he lubricates with melted paraffin. I asked him about his process, and it involves hanging the chains, lubed and dry, in the garage; cleaning them with mineral spirits, allowing the chains to soak into the melting paraffin on the stove, and sometimes heating the chains in the oven on a cookie sheet, after soaking them in the mineral spirits. If I were to perform the process at home, the first steps would probably look something like:
  1. Get a divorce from The Excellent Wife (TEW); 
  2. If you have any money left over...
We stopped again in Allentown at Bruno's, a nifty bike shop with a confectionery in the back (this is such a great idea!). And then back to the East Picnic area at Mercer, or back to the start at Laura's. I got to the end with a 17.0 mph average, but 79.45 miles; I managed to raise it above 80 miles, but in so doing, I reduced may average to 16.9.

As Mr. Vonnegut said, "So it goes."

One picture on the road, the others in New Egypt:

Friday, July 25, 2014

anniversary trip

At the end of this month, The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I will celebrate the 20th anniversary of our first date. Neither the terrible Italian restaurant we went to, nor the even-worse karaoke singer who was the entertainment, are still available, so instead we did a 3-day trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. We stayed at the Misty Meadows Bed & Breakfast, where they treated us like folks (better than most of my family does!), and let us keep the bikes in their (frighteningly clean) garage; I recommend them if you're planning on staying & biking in the area. They're Mennonites, and, if anything, even better than we Quakers at that "radically welcoming" thing.

We did a bunch of touristy stuff, including a walking historical tour of Lancaster City, with a guide who was an educator in a previous life; despite the heat and his Colonial-era garb, he led us for almost two hours, and kept up a line of entertaining and informative patter the whole time; he was great. We bought the obligatory quilt; bought too much produce and dairy; turned up our noses at the touristy stuff that was too tacky even for us (I set the bar pretty low; I can be persuaded to do some pretty stupid things).

Today, on the way back, we stopped at Valley Forge and did the walking tour there (TEW is a NUTBALL about the Revolutionary War, the Declaration, and the original constitution; how did we EVER go this long living close to Philadelphia and not go to Valley Forge until now?). Then we stopped at an L. L. Bean to exchange something... because why not? We were passing that way, anyway!

Mostly, we relaxed. TEW said that the reason for the success of this trip was that we relaxed, and didn't HAVE to do many things. We had hoped to ride at least a couple of times, but only got out once, on a ride that was too hilly for TEW (but I give her credit for trying it; as one of the Hill Slugs says, "I've never seen the hill I couldn't walk up").

Pics. First, the place we stayed:

That's the amiable landlord on the front porch.

I got out to take some pictures of the view out the front window last night, and this guy was working across the street:

For those keeping score, that's a five-horse team, pulling a gasoline-powered prime mover, driving a mower. This guy can use the gasoline for the prime mover, but he can't use a tractor (for religious reasons). Plain Jim is not the only one with contradictions.

But the view out the front windows (including from the dining room) was immense. I crossed the street to get these pictures so the overhead lines wouldn't be in the way, but they are unedited:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

sourland spectacular team

I posted on the Freewheeler's Facebook page that I was planning to lead a team at a mid-B pace for the Sourland Spectacular on Sep 6. If you sign up, and you want to be on my team, let me know; I gotta send an email to , and then you've gotta send a confirmation email.

I'll send an email that I'm trying to assemble a team.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

d ride 7/20/14

Since my first D ride of the season, I've had email correspondence telephone conversations with the club president, and a board member has been despatched to two of my rides to make sure that all the rules were being followed.

I had no idea I was such an outlaw.

In the board member's defense, there have been two riders on two of my rides (one each) without helmets. In my defense:
  1. The first joined the ride after the start, and did not hear the safety speech;
  2. The second joined the ride on a day I had to change the route on the spot; there was a half-marathon at the place I planned to start, with a certain amount of chaos resulting;
  3. I now keep two extra helmets in the car when I drive to ride starts (although I don't always drive);
  4. The ride announcements on my blog usually include a notice that helmets will be required.
In any case, both my The Excellent Wife (TEW) and Laura OLPH decided to risk being outlaws with me today on the "D" ride I led from Blackwells Mills today. I had gotten an email from a Susan, but she was not at the start when it was time to go.

You may find the route link confusing. I rode from home to Blackwells Mills, then up to Millstone, then back down to Blackwells Mills, where I met John S. then I went out along Canal Rd to see if anyone had parked in the wrong spot. We got the riders together, and went down to Kingston and returned, at a stately, not to say regal, pace. TEW decided she wanted some more miles, so we went up to Millstone (for the second time today, for me). Then I rode back home.

On the way down to Kingston, we came up to the Other Terhune farm, and Laura was taken with the look of the old farm implements. She didn't have her camera, so I took some pictures for her; you'll see them below.

After this stop, I looked in my mirror, and saw that a young lady in black was riding along behind us. After a while I dropped back to chat with this "stowaway", and discovered that she was the Susan of the email; she'd gotten a late start, and caught up with us after we stopped at the farm.

And so down to the Main St Cafe, where we met Ken G and the group from his Sunday "Come Ride Hills with Hart's" ride. TEW, Ken, and I chatted about his luck about meeting people he knows everywhere he goes - even in foreign countries!

And then back. On the way back, TEW noticed that Susan's back tire was low, and had me pump it up. You don't suppose TEW's turning into a ride sweep, do you?

Pictures. At the start:

At the farm. (Did these come out OK, Laura?)

Sue, who caught up with us:

Meeting up with Ken G's ride:

tom h goes to califon

Despite his giving me a hard time sometimes (see the bottom of his post), I like riding with Tom H; as I've said in another post, I like hilly rides, and Tom frequently comes across with them. What's more, I like the people that come out on Tom's rides. So when Tom had a ride starting at Raritan valley Community College, and going to Califon, for yesterday, I decided that was what I wanted to do.

When I got to the college, Tom was there, as was Winter Larry (usually a flatlander). One by one, Barry Y, Blake, Cheryl (doing maybe her last hilly NJ ride; she's moving to Florida in a few weeks), and Laura OLPH came into the lot.

We did this route.  That average is deceiving; my max was 36.7, and I set a new record for a minimum, non-stopped speed; I now know I can keep the bike upright, if the grade is not too steep, at 2.4mph (well, how slow can YOU go?). I remember rather more hills than the elevation profile at the bottom of the RideWithGPS page shows... but it may have been that the complaints of the riders made the hills feel longer and harder than they were. A few of our number were waxing poetic about the demands of this ride on their body parts: lungs, legs, and other anatomy were referred to.

We stopped at the same Krauszer's we stopped at on the Cocoluxe ride a month ago. It's only a Krauszer's, but the proprietor treats us like folks when we come; I like this stop. While there, Larry and Tom had some discussion about the route and the hills.

I like the stop, but I didn't like the hill on Old Farmer's Road that started immediately afterwards. It was neither the longest, nor the hardest hill of the ride, but it started right after the stop, when we were not warmed up. I get a post-stop phenomenon I call "rigor mortis"; right after a stop, my legs are stiff, and I usually like to be able to spin a bit before doing anything real demanding.... but the routes don't always go that way.

After the hills, though, the last part of the ride was easy: Rockaway, then down some soft hills to the end (although I nearly tripped at a curb; Blake was there to remind me to "keep the rubber side down"). There's a small uphill just as you get back to the college to remind you of what you've done. It gave the complainers something more to exercise their throats about.

Still, I liked this ride. And, as I said, I like the people who come out on Tom's rides.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

easy ride 7/20

Let's do another of those rides to the Main St Cafe. We'll start at Blackwells Mills at 10; you can use this link to find the location (it's the loop to the right of Canal Rd, just below the Canal House).

It will be a road ride. It's just over 17 miles round trip. The usual rules apply: wear helmets, ride safely, and so on. Pace will be easy (and set by the group; if you can keep the bike upright for the distance, you can do this ride).

No attitudes, nobody dropped, lots of stops, and only the obligatory speeches! Hope to see you there. Sunday, July 20. Weather is iffy; if anything changes, I'll post here by 7am Sunday.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

probably-shouldn't-have ride with ed c

On Friday, I did the slow ride with The Excellent Wife (TEW), and on Saturday, the only riding I did was back and forth the the Ciclovia with my tools. So I was feeling like I deserved a ride today.

I like long rides. I like hilly rides. I especially like long, hilly rides. Friend Ed C had one in the book for today, a more-or-less metric century with hills. Some of his friends weren't coming, so I resolved to do this ride.

But riding slower than my comfortable pace, as I did on Friday, is hard work. Being on my feet outside, wrenchin' bikes, as I did yesterday, is hard work, and then riding home into the wind is work.

I was tired before we started today. In fact, I was chatting with Peter F (the only other rider on this ride) before the start about how tired I was and how I wasn't going to be showing off today. By the time Ed came and discussed his possibilities for the route, I was within an ace of getting back in the car... but I didn't.

We did this route, improvising as we went. I remember worrying on that big hill starting about mile six... and then the rain came (in defiance of the predictions). But I swallowed my misgivings, and on we went.

My judgment was off. I completely missed the General Store in Oldwick, and we went around Hill-and-Dale Rd and added a few miles before the stop (we met a few riders there; one got my picture; you'll see below). I felt better after having eaten a bit, and we went on from there, but after about another ten miles, I was slogging again. Cheryl M had given me some maple jelly beans which were too sweet for her. I've not found the candy item too sweet for me, so I took them from her, and had brought some on this ride. They helped he up the hill at Liberty Corner. (The humidity didn't help; even with my Halo headband, the sweat was dripping into my eyes and onto the bike.)

I found a second wind when we turned onto River Road, and I realized that the next turn would be into Johnson Park and the end. I don't think I looked as tired as I felt, but I was glad when we stopped.

I'm also glad that I get to go to work tomorrow. I need a rest after this busy weekend!


The guy below doesn't look as tired as he is.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

new brunswick july ciclovia

No group ride today; instead, today was the second New Brunswick Ciclovia for 2014. As last time, the New Brunswick Bike Exchange had a location (next to the stand for PRAB, out parent organization); we set up another mechanic stand, and Paul B, Mike B, and I did some wrenching on a number of kids bikes and way too many toy-store bikes.

I'm conflicted about toy-store bikes. There is definitely a place for low-end, affordable bikes for people who don't want to commit several hundreds, or several thousands, of dollars into something they may not use much, However, even in the cases where these bikes come with adequate components, they are rarely adjusted adequately, and many come with mismatched parts, or cheap parts, or cheap, mismatched parts, that make close adjustment impossible. Much of what we did today was adjustment on toy-store bikes, and it's frustrating.

But much of it was fixing kids bikes, and they're great. They're usually simple, and just need a tire inflated, or a tube patch, or a chain put back on, and they're ready to go. The kids are delighted, as are the parents (as best I could tell; many of the parents don't speak any language in which I am conversant).

Some people couldn't believe we were doing this for free, and, in truth, I wasn't; I tried to make sure that any person I wrenched for, or the parents of any kid whose bike I worked on, took info about the Exchange. We can always use volunteers and donations (and customers!).

We were busy. I only got a few pics, because once we started, we were going right along. First, setting up with the PRAB staff:

David, and Mike B:

(Laura, I couldn't resist the one below.)

Thank heaven Paul found that shady spot!

Next one's in October. You ought to come out!

Edit: In a group email about this post, I was referred to as "Volunteer Extraordinaire". While I'm grateful for the title, I have to insist that Paul get the title as well. He's at the exchange most shifts, I understand, and has been deeply involved with its success since he started.

Friday, July 11, 2014

stop and smell the roses ride

The Excellent Wife (TEW) got a bike last year, largely so she and I could ride together sometimes. We decided we'd go out on Sue M's C-ride from Bruno's this morning.

Only one other rider, Donna, came along. We did this route. It was a leisurely ride on a nice day, and TEW and I liked hanging out together. (Edit: But it can be hard riding slowly up a hill!)

But almost none of my pictures came out (in fact, NONE of the pictures of Donna facing the camera did!). Here are the only ones that did: