Sunday, November 30, 2014

arneytown rd the right way and bridge out with winter larry

After yesterday's cold ride, when I saw 37F on arising this morning, I thought it was a balmy day for a ride. Winter Larry had emailed me during the week asking why he hadn't seen me, so I decided to go on his ride out of Cranbury... but, never willing to leave well enough alone, I parked in Plainsboro and added a few miles before and after. I was early, of course (people who know me won't be surprised), so I kept pedaling, and wound up with 12 miles before I even signed the ride sheet.

Eleven others started, and Larry decided to go do a route that would include Hutchison Rd, which is the extension of the locally-famous Hill Rd. We wound up doing a loop, and passing Hill Rd. Larry told one of the riders that he wanted to do the whole of Arneytown-Hornerstown Rd "the right way", which evidently means taking advantage of the long downhill along the whole stretch.

We stopped at the Dunkin Donuts at 537, at which there was the most engaging father-and-daughter raising money for their athletics; they got a donation from me, and I'm usually pretty tight about this kind of moneyraising.

On the way back, we turned onto (I think) Meirs Rd, despite the "bridge out" signs... but we were able to get through despite the barriers; still, several square yards of roadway had fallen into the stream. Still, no feet got wet.

And just a few yards from the lot, one of the riders threw a flat; he elected to walk the bike back to the car rather than change it!

As we pulled into Cranbury, we came up with John & Jane D. They came to the end with us, and told us about their experiences at the dog shows (you may have seen them on Facebook). Then John and Jane rode with me part of the way back to Cranbury; Marco B came along to where I'd parked.

My results are here (I'm blaming the fact that I was sweeping for the slow pace; that's my story and I'm stickin' to it). If you look at the laps, the first is my ride to Cranbury, then the ride with the group, then the short ride back to Cranbury.

Pics, at the start:

On the road:

At the stop:

The engaging money raisers. This picture doesn't do 'em justice.

Past the bridge that was out:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

hopewell trail ride

I went to Kim's yesterday to pick up a couple of derailleur cables to replace the one... well, it's like this: I was off Monday when it was 72F, so I cleaned up the Yellow Maserati, my grey-and-black titanium road bike. One of the reasons you want to clean your bike regularly is that it forces you to pay attention so you notice things going wrong before a catastrophic failure, and I noticed that my front derailleur cable was completely frayed and down to a single strand at the locking bolt at the derailleur itself, so I replaced it. That meant I used the last derailleur cable I had in stock, and I like to keep at least one ahead.

So that was why I went to Kim's. The older Korean proprietor (probably Dave's dad) doesn't pay any attention to me, but Senor Francisco got a couple of derailleur cables out of the shop stock, and I paid Mrs. Kim when she came out of the back. While I was there, Francisco asked if I was planning to go out with them this morning. Whew! At their 7:30 start time, the temp was barely 20F. No, I wasn't planning on that ride.

But I didn't know if I was riding at all until I got an email from Tom H that he was thinking of a pickup ride around the Hopewell Trail and environs, starting at 10. The earliest part of the ride was in the woods, out of the wind, so that seemed like a less miserable option.

A few other people agreed: Dave H and Joe M were at the start when I got there, and the Tom drove in. A moment later Jeff X came up the trail, and then Laura OLPH rolled up off the road.

We did this route.Mostly, it was the Hopewell trail on the way out, and roads on the way back. Much of the Hopewell trail is paved, but some is packed gravel... and some is mud, which mostly wasn't a problem today (as it was frozen over), but there was some ice on the trail where we needed to pay attention. The others were on mountain bikes, and Dave had a cyclocross bike (picturesquely covered in the pink-red dust of his most recent ride), but that hybrid of mine got across this route well enough. I'm not enamored of that bike, but it's done everything I've demanded of it.

(Joe M has a Bridgestone mountain bike, with nifty Nitto wide bars, with cork-and-twine-wrap grips and shellacked bar wrap, most picturesquely worn. I didn't get a picture, but I will, if I get another chance - it's a handsome ride.)

The pics I DID get:

On the trail:

Last year, Laura brought me a Santa ornament she thought was too awful for The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I to use, but we put it on the tree with the rest of our awful stuff. She's evidently taken this as a challenge; she brought a Santa in a helicopter ornament this year, to see if this will make the collection. Dave C offered to take a picture of the two of us with it, but at first he got the camera backwards:

Yeah, it's not like he planned that, or anything. Then he got the picture of Laura, me, and the objet d'art:

I promise a better picture of the ornament later.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

two from today's oddman

I snack on popcorn before The Excellent Wife (TEW) comes home from work. I usually (read: always) do it in the recliner in the front room, and frequently drop some bits. I think this is how TEW imagines me:

On the other hand, I saw this today, too. I can't imagine how costly it must be:

Both from today's Oddman.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

nbbx ride 11/23 report

Last week, I had no idea what kind of weather today would bring, but it came out clear and above 40° at the time I was leaving the house for the ride; it turned out to be a much better day than yesterday. I stopped in to get my breakfast bagels, then rode up to the New Brunswick Bike Exchange to see if anybody was there to ride out...

And there I met Julene, a young lady from the Bloustein School who had come out for the ride. Shortly thereafter, Tom H, one of our regular volunteers (and also a Bloustein student) rolled in. I saw another rider pass the turn for Sandford Street, and in a few minutes, he came rolling up; a lifelong local, Andy didn't know where the PRAB building was until today. So we were four, and left to do what has become my preferred NBBX route (that link includes my rides to and form home, and the average is a bit high because I ride faster when I'm alone).

Andy and I rolled on ahead, while I kept Tom and Julene in my mirror. Andy is a bike advocate who has become disappointed with the way North Brunswick has managed its land use; he's got the possibility of an opportunity in San Francisco, and may move there. We spoke some about bikes, and a lot about bike trails and rights-of-way, land use and misuse, and official inattention. When I told him I intended to travel a short way on Middlebush Road between Bennetts and Skillmans, he decided he didn't want to go that way, and went off on his own, after giving us a spiel about the history of the area. So Tim, Julene, and I proceeded to Better World Market (one of my favorite local stops), where Tom had lunch, and I had a couple or excellent vegan ginger snaps (sharp finish; let the snacker beware!). I waxed rhapsodic about them so eloquently that Tom bought me two more to take home.

The remainder of the route went by Tom's childhood home, and he regaled us with stories of his upbringing. Then to Jersey Ave, and the long slog back up to PRAB. Tom said he could have led back from there, but I let him know that I needed the extra miles; I've been eating as if the holidays are already upon us, so home I rode.

If the weather holds, I'm hoping for another ride in December. We'll keep youse posted.

Pictures. Julene & Tom at the start:

Andy over my shoulder, with Tom & Julene behind:

Andy at Amwell Road. Below that, Tom and Julene crossing Amwell Road.

Andy instructing us.

Tom and Julene being instructed.

Julene has a neat old Raleigh, and Tom has an aluminum-with-carbon-seatstay Trek.

At Better World:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

nbbx ride 11/23

I've planned another ride from the New Brunswick Bike Exchange for this Sunday, starting at 10. Easy ride; we'll go at your pace... although there will be a couple of places where you can sprint if you'd like; I'll let you know when we get there. We'll all collect at turns and intersections.

Wear helmets!

We'll go about 17 miles. At about mile 10, we'll stop at Better World Market for coffee, junk food, and plumbing.

The usual: no attitudes, lots of stops, nobody dropped. I promise not to lecture you on technique... although if you get me talking about bikes, your ear might fall off.

Keep a weather eye out: temps below 32F at start time, or rain/snow, will cancel the ride. If there's a question about the weather, I'll update this post about go/no go on Sunday morning.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

back pain is a pain in the neck... wait, what?

Maybe it's because of multiple celebrations of The Excellent Wife (TEW)'s birthday this past weekend (which means my weight's up a couple of pounds), or maybe it's because I slept in a couple of days (one day, I didn't get out of bed until after 8:00am, which is incredible for me... but then, I'd been up in the middle of the night, which is almost predictable), but my back's been bad. I can get physical therapy on my medical plan, but I need a doctor's referral, and I no longer have off on the day my preferred doctor at my practice works... so I've either got to change my doc or take a day off.

(My back is usually a bit off on rising from bed, but it usually improves over the course of an hour or two. The worst things seem to be standing for a long time, and staying in bed a long time. Sitting too long in my office chair isn't great, either; I walk around the office frequently, saying "hi" and imposing on my coworkers.)

I've been doing some exercises for the back (I've added them to the morning routine) and they help. But at the suggestion of TEW, I've been using a probiotic, and the back seems to be worse since I started. It may simply be a correlation in time rather than a cause-and-effect relationship, but still...

I USED to be able to count on a 40-60 mile ride to straighten things up and reduce pain in that dorsal region, but that hasn't been effective recently. Drat. As I so frequently say, all my parts are as old as I am.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

better mousetrap?

EZY-fix uses a reusable plastic screw-in dingus for tube repair:

Is this really better than the glue-and-patch system? I think this was a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

vertically stiff, laterally compliant

From Classic Rendezvous comes this pic of a frame which answers the burning question, "Just how stiff is stiff enough?"

They've got other oddities, as well.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

3:2 hilly ride with vicencio & orlando

I called Kim's yesterday and spoke to Benny, who verified that there would be a ride today; I thought he said for 7:15, so I left early enough to get bagels for breakfast and get to Kim's... but when I got there, the only one I saw was the shivering Orlando:

Shortly thereafter, Vincencio rolled up...

... and announced that we were heading up into the hills. He wasn't sure if Dave was coming, so at about 7:20, we left and began this ride. It wasn't the usual Kim's route; we went up the hill to Watchung (First & Second Mountain). Vincencio gets a kick out of watching me on the hills, and likes the pretty views about as much as Laura OLPH, although he doesn't stop for pictures (and I don't have enough history with him yet to ask to do so). 

We noticed that Orlando was falling behind, and heard some ominous noises that Vincencio initially thought was a bottom bracket, but after a while, Orlando's cogset just fell apart; he could only use the three or so gears in the middle. 

Riding behind him, I could see the larger cogs loose and swinging on the freehub. He called for help, and we limped home to the place where Orlando could get picked up... and then Vincencio and I traded places in the wind, sprinting on the way back to the shop. We weren't really racing (he could leave me in the dust, I'm sure!).

But when I got home, there was a message from Dave saying the group was leaving at 7:30. I wonder if another group went out after we did? I'll have to find out later.

faaabulous for vlad

From today's Oddman:

Friday, November 14, 2014

guest lecturer & tew first birthday celebration

Earlier this week, I made a reference in a post to something I'd be doing on Wednesday. Once or twice a year, I get an invitation to address the graduate-level OT students at NYU (I'm an acquaintance of one of the prof's; I kind of cornered him into an invite at a party, and then was good enough that I keep getting invited back). Wednesday was the class, so I went into the city (on the train! By myself! And took the subway, and found the location at a building that was new to me!) and did the lecture.

I didn't prepare adequately, and didn't have the handouts I like to have, and left out a couple of things I like to cover. But I don't prepare a specific talk; I have an outline of what I want to cover, and then let fly, responding to the questions and comments that come up (Powerpoints don't work for me; they limit the direction and the content; I can't be as flexible as I'd like to be). I have a lot of fun, and I think the students do, too. I get paid for it, but I'd do it for free, just for the bragging rights that I'm a guest lecturer in the graduate school at NYU.

I promised a couple of exam questions, so here they are:

Of the substances I talked about (heroin, benzodiazepines, cocaine, amphetamine, tobacco, alcohol, and the others), the ones that cause the most deaths are:
  1. The opiates.
  2. The non-opiate illicit drugs.
  3. The "legal" ones.
  4. All of them are equally dangerous.
 The reason that heroin causes so much more damage to people's lives than other opiates is:
  1. Heroin is intrinsically a more dangerous drug than the other opiates; that's why it has no legal use in this country.
  2. Heroin by itself is not more dangerous, but the "cut", the other substances put into heroin to increase the volume, is often dangerous.
  3. The lifestyle of the street heroin user is so chaotic and uncontrolled that it is the lifestyle that leads the user into trouble.
  4. 2. and 3. together are correct.
OT's need to have a basic knowledge of substance abuse because:
  1. Many OT's work in substance-abuse facilities.
  2. Many of the clients with whom OT's will come into contact will have problems caused by, or exacerbated by, substance use.
  3. Some of the clients with whom OT's will come into contact will develop substance use problems due to overuse of medication or other factors.
  4. 2. and 3. together are correct.
I would be an easy "A".

Today was one of my Fridays  off, and The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I went into Philly for one of her birthday celebrations (she likes to have a number of small ones, and spread 'em out). We went to McCormick & Schmicks, for which we had a gift certificate, and then to the Town Hall to take the elevator up to the tower... but it turns out that you need a reservation (the elevator only holds four people), and we were locked out. So we went to the Reading Terminal Market and bought some chocolate and other contraband to smuggle into the Garden State (we had thought of doing the Art after 5 at the PMA, but my back is making its presence known - I was on the cane again today - so we're back in Jersey now, with laundry in the dryer).

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    travel with care campaign

    Over at PeopleForBikes, they've started this "Travel with Care" campaign to put a human face on those of us above the pedals, to them behind the steering wheels.

    Good as far as it goes, but first, that chef with the knife looks a bit scary.

    Second, while we'll never get all riders to be sensible and polite, we could take on a lot more responsibility for knowing about the traffic conditions and drivers around us, and being polite and thoughtful. BikeSnobNYC has had a gazillion rants recently about how drivers can kill riders with impunity, and he's right to be upset about that; I don't deny that problem in the least. But I've ridden with more than a few people who, if they got clipped by a car, I would have silently applauded.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

    either princeton blows...

    Either Princeton blows, or New Brunswick sucks. There's no other way to explain the persistent southwesterly wind in this area, which is especially noticeable on Route 27.

    Actually, it's possible that both are true: Princeton blows AND New Brunswick sucks.

    Anyway, my 12-mile ride to Jersey Ave station in New Brunswick to get train tickets for tomorrow (about which, more later in the week) turned into just shy of 40, with lunch at the Main St Cafe in Kingston. I'm blaming the wind for my low average.

    (Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if that prevailing wind were part of a "keep the riff-raff out" effort by the residents of Princeton and environs. It would explain why property taxes there are so high.)

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    spoke magazine. i hope they make it.

    So there's a group of kids (hey, they're young enough to be MY kids) in Philly launching a print, dead-tree-edition, ink-on-paper, hold-it-in-your-hands magazine about bikes in Philadelphia. They're gonna give it away for free in "coffee shops, bike shops, and bike-friendly businesses throughout the city."

    They had a table at the Philly Bike Expo to which I went yesterday. I'm not sure if I think the print magazine is gonna fly, but I think the idea of a sensible, local bike publication is a good one.

    They're calling it Spoke. There's a lot of facial hair among the staff, though, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were a plethora of tattoos. They certainly don't care about the thoughts of a pushin'-60 who doesn't even live in town.

    Still, I wish 'em well. I may donate to the Indiegogo, and I'll certainly look for the mag when I'm in the city next year.

    Sunday, November 9, 2014

    philly bike expo

    Freewheeler Tom H, when he heard that Gary Helfrich, one of the founders of (the old) Merlin Bicycles and a guru for all things titanium-bike-related was giving not one, but two talks at this year's Philly Bike Expo, dropped hints that we might go together, and maybe start off with a ride along the Schuylkill and up the Wissahickon. Well, that sounded like a great idea to me (after all, I saw that Bike Snob NYC was going to be there, too, as was Dave Moulton [for whom I've had a link over there on the right or years]), and since I'm up early anyway, the 6am departure time wasn't off-putting.

    So up at 4, get coffee, get the commuter bike and gear into the car, and over to Tom's by 6. We had the littlest trouble getting my bike into the back of his truck, but then we were off to find parking behind the Art Museum, and then to do this route.

    Much of that West River Drive is closed on Sunday mornings, and even what wasn't had so little traffic that we all but had the road to ourselves, until we turned up the Wissahickon trail and had to put up with joggers and dog walkers (and a few other bikes). We turned around when Tom thought we'd have just about time to get back to the convention center to get tickets and hear Helfrich.

    The Bike Expo has valet security for bikes, so we left ours even though no valet was there yet. Helfrich's first talk was to start at 9, but the expo didn't open until 10, so we bought tickets and went to the lecture.

    Helfrich (above) regaled us with stories about his life as a roadie for Aerosmith, then about getting started with bikes, and about the early (and then the glory) days of titanium frames. Below, a picture of his frame No. 3, the first titanium frame he sold. It's still on the road.

    You can't see from this picture, but there's no braze-on for a rear brake, because they didn't have the metal to add one at the time.

    I found Helfrich fascinating, even when he was talking metallurgy.

    Then up to the expo floor. When we got in, I saw this tandem that reeked of adventure; that may be the mud of Nepal on the frame:

    Then to the exhibitors. First, several Bilenky bikes:

    That last is a tandem with a recumbent pilot and a standard stoker. Below: this vendor is specializing in bike clothes for women that are NOT just girly prints on guys jerseys. Some women (notably TEW) complain about the bike clothes available to them, so I try to let TEW know when I see bike stuff she might like.

    Above, Calfee had some neat bikes, but the one that nailed me was this one: bamboo tubes and connectors of rosewood. Below, Velo-Orange, one of my favorite retro-grouch vendors. Do I want one of those fluted cranks?

    Below: AllOneWord, an Etsy vendor making bike hats (she's recently moved to Philly). I don't have much use for a cotton bike hat, but I liked the Blessed Virgin one and the Candy Skull. But she makes wool hats that fit me better than the Walz wool cap did...

    And since I'm a nutball about mirrors, and since she was there, I had to get the HubBub helmet mirror from this excellent woman, who also hosts a radio show and podcast about all things bicycle-related.

     I also bumped into Dave Moulton, and told him how much I enjoyed his blog, and bought a book of his humor. As I was leaving, I met Francisco, one of the mechanics at Kim's Bikes, who was on my ride yesterday, along with his family. (Dave, I can vouch for him; he was there!)

    ... as was Mike Beltranea, a fellow volunteer at the New Brunswick Bike Exchange!

    Above, Bike Snob NYC (Eben Weiss) addresses the crowd. Below, Dave Moulton listens.

    After this, we went to hear Helfrich again (I liked Bike Snob NYC, but I'd rather have heard more of Mr. Helfrich), and then came home. It was a great show. Thanks for inviting me, Tom.