With the departure of Halter's, who recently moved to Hillsborough (or Skillman, or something; there seems to be some debate about the postal code), I now have no excuse not to call Kim's Bikes in New Brunswick my local shop. Dave Kim, the second-generation proprietor there, has been bending over backwards to make me welcome and to seek my custom, and the only downside I can find to his shop is that finding nearby parking takes patience, imagination, and (sometimes) cash (I HATE paying for parking).
I had heard from Snakehead Ed that a ride goes out from Kim's on Saturday mornings at 7:00 am. That's good for me; I'm an early riser. I asked Dave about it one time when I was in the shop early in the summer, and got a standing invitation, but schedules just never worked out, until today.
Tom H of the Princeton Freewheelers was planning to do a ride to the beach today, but weather threatened, and he rescheduled to tomorrow. Tomorrow, however, is the Freewheeler's picnic and all-paces ride, and The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I are going together. So I decided to show up at Kim's today for the ride.
There were a couple of riders waiting when I got there, and soon others showed up, including Dave Kim, and Rick G, with whom I've ridden with Snakehead Ed. Everybody except Rick was substantially younger than I (I think I had started smoking before the next oldest rider was born), and I began to worry if I would be able to keep up.
I didn't have to worry. The riders had a range of abilities, from Ben (a clerk at the shop, who's also been treating me like folks, and who's a racer) and another young rider, to some folks who didn't warm up for a number of miles in.
We did this route. That link includes my rides to and from home. I set 'em up as laps so I could see how I did with the group. My averages on my own, going to the ride (at 6:30 am!) and back, were in the high 16's; my average with the group was 18.4.
This was a fun ride, for two reasons: first, it was just challenging enough without feeling like I was over my head. There were times when I was pulling (although the real speedy guys were way out front; this group has set "wait up" points for this ride, though), and there were times when I was eating dust. The other reason? Well, this being New Brunswick, especially in that neighborhood, there were a number of Mexicans on the ride (and probably some other varieties of Latino; I don't pretend to be an expert on that stuff, but New Brunswick has a largely-Oaxacan neighborhood). I couldn't understand half of the jokes they were making with one another. I love that.
I met a number of guys; two stick in memory: Alex, who's sixteen years younger than I, and who seemed to admire my performance (I AM a sucker for that stuff, too), and Francisco, a mechanic in the shop, for whom I'll look next time I'm there. I suspect some of these guys were competitors in Mexico (and they may be competitors here, too!).
I'm definitely going again. You may want to go out with 'em, too.
Pics. At Blackwells Mills/Six Mile:
Above: That's Ben, with the lime-green bike and the orange arm warmers.
Above: Dave Kim's the guy, second from left, with the green stripe on his jersey, and the glasses. That young fellow in the center of the picture had no problem turning his cranks. The mechanic Francisco is second from right. Below, the only road shot that came out.