Tuesday, June 30, 2015

rebar bike

That's reinforcing rod for pre-stressed concrete construction, commonly known as "rebar". It's heavy, and soft compared to other kinds of bars and tubes.

You may not have noticed the saddle is made from bent, drilled sheet metal. There's not much breaking-in gonna be happenin' with that saddle.

Interesting concept, but no, thanks.

From this old Oddman.

Monday, June 29, 2015

this one's for me

I found this in my internet stumblings. I need this one today.

I have no idea where the original is from.

Anxiety and depression suck. (I wasn't deep enough to think of suicide, but it still sucks.)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

weekend rides

Not much doin' this weekend. There was going to be rain most of Saturday, so I got up early did this one. Unrepentant brag: not my best speed, but done on no breakfast and no coffee; started at 6:38 am and uploaded by 8:10.

I had hoped to lead a no-drop ride for the New Brunswick Bike Exchange on Sunday, but the weather continued bad through the morning, so I cancelled. I was in the foulest of moods; with work going bad, I had hoped for the ride to be able to be competent and do something nice for someone, and when that didn't work out, depression and preoccupation moved in. (I'm used to anxiety, which is miserable, of course, but depression is new for me, at least to this depth.) Late in the day, I got an email from Snakehead Ed, back from Korea, and The Excellent Wife (TEW) decided I needed a ride and almost threw me out of the house to go meet him... and then was concerned when I was so preoccupied; she thought I might be dangerous on the bike (I nearly was).

I went to Blackwells Mills to meet Ed. The recent rains have the canal very high:

But there was no flooding on the road. Ed showed up early (I'm chronically early, so I was waiting):

We did this route (that link includes my rides to and from home). I didn't want to risk the unpaved section of Dutchtown-Zion in the wet, so we did Grandview instead. I like that much better! Across Ridge Road, we decided to go straight down (more or less) into Hopewell, and then we investigated a back road to see if there was a bike path (there wasn't). Ed told me about the bike vending machine at Sourlands Cycles:

What a great idea! You can use your debit card, and there are tools, cables, chains and links, tubes... Why don't all the shops have these? (Well, except maybe Kim's. The machine would never survive in that neighborhood.)

While there, I saw this nifty frame:

The Medici brand didn't last long; these guys studied under Masi, but had a falling out after making only a few frames. But how neat! The metalwork cable guide, the lugs at the head tube - and nicely built, with leather bar wrap. (I'd be afraid to take it out and ride it!)

Then on to Boro Bean.

Kitchen was closed, but they had muffins, and a few fresh-squeezed OJ's left.

Then home. I parted company with Snakehead at Butler Road, and came home to do the grilling and the evening chores. The ride did help me get a new perspective.

Back to work tomorrow. Won't THAT be fun.

By the way, TEW and I went to see "Inside Out" this weekend. It's hardly a complete, or even consistent, description of personality, but it's a good movie.

rebellious act

A friend of mine needs this reminder.

From yesterday's Oddman.

Friday, June 26, 2015

nbbx ride june 28

I'm leading a ride for the New Brunswick Bike Exchange on Sunday. We'll be starting at the Blackwells Mills/Six Mile run lot; this link shows a map (the lot is the loop to the right of Canal Road, just below where Blackwells Mills crosses).

Weather is dodgy as I write this. I'll update this post with info about whether the ride is actually going to go by early Sunday morning. Check here for more info.

Edit middle-of-the-night-Saturday-am: At this point, rain is due to end early morning Sunday; if that happens (if it's not raining 30 minutes before start time, and no more rain is expected), I'm going. Keep an eye here.

Edit 6:12 Sunday AM: We had a blackout in the middle of the night, and we're still recovering. Here's the deal: if the weather looks OK at about 8:30-9:00 (when I have to leave to go to the start point; I'll ride the bike there), I'll do the ride; if not, I won't. Check your weather and this blog.

Edit 7:56 Sunday AM: Forget it. I'm cancelling.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

no, thanks

On a recent ride, I heard about these.The Kickstarter raised over $85,000 CAD, and they're now available for preorder.

Bike Balls. Good grief.

No. Don't get 'em for me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Laura OLPH sent me this:

Original article here.

 Colorless, reflective paint. Is it really colorless? And how long does it stay on?

(It does seem like a good idea...)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

reflection on driving

With the in-laws being sick, The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I have done our share of driving from Central Jersey up to Bergen County, often at the worst of times and in the worst of conditions. We take the Parkway, mostly because the tolls are lower than the Turnpike. But I hate the Parkway; the lanes are too narrow, and I think the presence of trucks on the Turnpike has a calming effect on people in cars. (Do you know why the toll is higher on the Turnpike, in my opinion? Because it's worth it.)

On the way home from staying overnight at the in-laws last night (the Excellent Mother-In-Law was released perhaps just that little bit too early from the hospital), I composed the following bit of doggerel. It's to the tune of "Oh, Tannenbaum":

I hate to drive, I hate to drive;
It really makes me mental.
I'd rather go be skinned alive,
Or have procedures dental.
On turnpike, or on country lane,
It causes pain inside my brain.
Serenity doth fail to thrive:
I say again, I hate to drive.

It strikes me that Laura OLPH's husband, the excellent Professor Jack, does not drive. Perhaps he will relate... or perhaps he's never endured the exquisite torture of, for example, Route 21 in Newark on a rainy rush hour.

no rain, no brain ride

I DID do a ride yesterday... but I hadn't recharged my camera, so no pics; and I'm still not right mentally (as if I ever were), so I don't remember much. You can read Laura OLPH's post about it at this link, but she didn't have her camera either.

She wrote, "Jim got his speed on, up front with Chris and Mark through Fort Dix", which was true, but I was in the back often, too; with my preoccupations, I just didn't want to be riding too close to people in case my wheel drifted as much as my mind was doing.

Route and data here. (I don't remember rain, as Laura alluded to in her post, but there was some misting, and the dirt Laura refers to was definitely there. Snakehead Ed would have eaten it up.)

This depression sucks. I just gotta keep slogging until it passes some. Thank heaven I can ride with people who know me.

bike pic day

Today's Oddman was a collection of bike-related pics and .gif's. Too much cheesecake and bike bling, but I was taken by these:

Remember those? (Or aren't you old enough?)

Below: If I were to have a stained-glass work...

The one below got my attention. If I thought that was what happened to most of the bikes where the front wheel was left behind, I'd be more appreciative, but I suspect most of 'em just get thrown into the back of a truck. Still...

Thursday, June 18, 2015


What with troubles at work, health problems in the wife's family, a mixup that meant I couldn't do the bike maintenance station at last weekend's New Brunswick Ciclovia, and a few other things, I've been taken by a depression this morning.

I'm trying to remember my affirmations: the one on the top of the blog, and the one that reminds me that I can sabotage myself.

This from Steven Fry isn't bad, either.

(The careful reader will note that most of the posts with a "health" tag are about mental health. Hmm.)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

magnet ride from kim's bikes

Tom & cie were doing another hilly ride today (Tom's trying to get in shape for Bike Virginia), and that was a temptation. I'm still having job troubles, my head's not screwed on straight, and riding with those folks is always a support for me; they provide a suitable balance of receptive listening, good advice, and good-natured, if targeted, abuse.

But, as I've said (even in these posts, I think), whenever I go to Kim's Bike Shop, they treat me like... well, if not family, at least a friend who's been better to them than I ever actually have been. They do a ride on Saturdays, and I've been promising to come along, and I haven't, and there's no excuse... so today, I planned to go and I went.

The ride has (had?) an 8:00 start. Plain Jim is chronically and pathologically early, and these folks have an approach to promptness that would upset my WASP forebears, so I wasn't surprised to see this when I got to the shop at about 8:42:

That is, of course, The Yellow Maserati, my road bike, in front of the shop, all alone. (The careful eye will note that it is neither yellow, nor a Maserati. This is a joke that is so inside, that I may be the only one who gets it.) I went around the block a bit, and when I got back, here was Carlos waiting. It was his first group ride. He's been riding, and he's a dancer, so I wasn't worried about his legs.

Shortly thereafter, Benny, the leader showed up.

A quick call to Dave elicited the intelligence that he wasn't coming, and we didn't see anyone else, so we left. But we had no sooner crossed the street, when Benny turned back and saw John, so we waited for him, and then we got started.

We started the usual route (that link includes my rides to and from Kim's from home). Along the way, we passed a father and son, and it turned out they were coming with us as well. We did the usual quick ride along River Road, slower through Johnson Park, then quick along River Road to Bound Brook. Carlos looked to be falling behind; I offered to stay back with him, but he agreed to soldier on.

I needn't have worried. While we didn't sprint through Colonial Park, the way we sometimes do, we kept up a good pace, and Carlos kept up well.

Somewhere along the way, we came up on another group of riders from Kim's. They had left at 7:30, and were doing a different route, but they joined up with us as far as the parking lot at Six Mile/Blackwells Mills. So, by that point, this magnet ride, starting with three, had attracted enough to make about a dozen.

Here's Carlos at Six Mile:

Below, John, facing you, and the back of the father of the father/son team. I still think they were turbocharged; they were fast. They went faster with a headwind than without. (The father fellow made a comment about depending on the polar vortex, but I'm not sure that vortex is really an issue in June.)

The son, from the father-son team (sorry I didn't get names), and Benny.

The earlier ride comes in. That's Francisco on the right.

(Doesn't the guy in the picture below look like he's having fun?)

The big fellow was having trouble with his derailleur, so Francisco set to it.

 As he was doing the adjustment, we had some discussions about who was going where.

Many of the riders had to go to work; they opted to go straight back (I guess the magnet was losing its attraction). But a few of us decided to go on to Coppermine. Carlos was in this crew. Here we are assembling at the top of Coppermine:

We did the straight-up-Route-27 return; it's not pretty, but it's direct. Despite differences in our abilities and tiredness, we stayed together (sort of). Here we are back at Kim's.

(For carrying as much weight as he does, that guy in the pic above went uphill notably well.)

Afterwards, I bored Carlos to tears with advice and stories; he nodded appropriately and escaped as soon as he could. I don't blame him.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

elevator? oh, no

I don't like elevators. I REALLY don't like this one.

A little claustrophobic? Oh, yeah.

From today's Oddman.

Monday, June 8, 2015

metric century with snakehead ed

There are a number of Freewheeler rides every weekend, but sometimes we go out and ride on our own. Snakehead Ed likes rides with just a few people, on which we can make up the itinerary as we go, depending how we feel.

Today's ride was one of those. We emailed a bit last night about possible rides and starts; at one point, Ed mentioned that an idea would need a 7am start; I think he was surprised when I said that was fine with me (I keep early hours). We finally agreed to at 8am start from Six-Mile/ Blackwells Mills, and we'd make it up from there as we'd go.

I stopped for my morning bagels, rode the five miles or so from home to the start, and then almost lost that part of the ride data due to my inexperience with this new computer; this link shows that part of the ride, and I only link to it because I want credit for my metric century for the day. I'm stupidly proud of this ride, after yesterday's hills; a moderately hilly ride at a good pace (for me).

We did make it up as we went. I didn't want to do the dirt downhill on Dutchtown-Zion, so we didn't go that way (although we did return that way, but it's much less terrifying as an uphill). Somewhere up there, we met a fellow on what Ed recognized as a bamboo bike.

He's an engineering professor at Princeton,and one of his students started this company, Boo Bikes; it's one of the original frames. They've since decided to use carbon seat tubes on some frames, and the rider was telling us it gets a little flexy on high-speed descents - he seemed fine with it, but it was a deal-breaker for Ed.

Ed started telling me about a gravel-ish bike he's having made, with lovely paint, disk brakes, and Di2. I was worried about the paint chipping, but it seems like Ed's looking forward to it.

On to Rojo's...

... where I wasn't ready for coffee, but they had local-product apple juice (Ed had coffee).

After Rojo's, we did the Franklin climb, which rewards you with this view (the picture doesn't do it justice)...

... and which, IM never very HO, is way less painful than the long, dragulous pedals we usually take to get to the ridge. We took a fairly straight route home, but we decided to avoid 518 (we wound up retracing our steps much of the way).

On the way back, I had a clunk in the pedals. It was worrisome to me, until I remembered that I've had this with this hub in the past; it just requires two 5mm Allen wrenches to tighten the two ends of the hub. So another reason to do maintenance on the bike when I got home! I'm still suffering from the work craziness I mentioned in yesterday's post, but wrenching was helpful.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

cocoluxe & somerset county high point ride with tom h

I don't blog about work, but I'm having some trouble there, and my mental stability, never a sure thing, has been recently even less sure. So I had a dilemma Saturday morning: I really wanted to go out on the Kim's bike shop ride, but the weather was rotten. At the time I would be getting ready, it was raining here at home, so I opted not to go, and sat grumping at home while the coffee was perking. Shortly thereafter, The Excellent Wife (TEW), seeing my mood (and knowing it was unlikely to improve), took another look at the sky, and set me packing to go do Tom H's ride with the Princeton Freewheelers, on the very reasonable understanding that I'd be cranky if I got wet, but I'd be impossible if I missed a ride and the weather had, in fact, been good enough to go.

Tom H, who wrote the book about road riding in NJ, has set a task for this season of hitting all of the highest points in all the counties in NJ (by bike, although some may be too busy to do). Today's ride was to start at Cocoluxe, a favorite stop*, and hit the Somerset County high point.

*Cocoluxe has wonderful pastries and chocolates, and other stuff that is good to bring home, but it's hard to do so on the road bike if you're going to stop there halfway through the ride. Tom H has had the excellent idea of starting and ending the ride near there, so that we can toss our pastry goodies in the car and drive them home, rather than worrying about sweating and crushing them in our jersey pockets.

Because of a confusion, I had already emailed Tom that I wasn't coming, so we had some fun at my expense when I did show up at the  start. I didn't get pictures there, but we were seven: Laura OLPH, Jack, Peter, Ken, and Barry, joined Tom and me. (We left a bit early and found that Marco just missed us; Tom was apologetic and we'll be careful about that in future.)

We did this route. I remember that the roads were wet, and I was nervous on the downhills, riding my brakes (and thanking the gods in whom I don't believe for the Kool-Stop wet-weather brake pads I use). I remember, when we finally got to a level part of the ride (it's unlucky to say "flat", right?), that I was trying to get some speed up so I could get my average for the first half above 13mph. We stopped at a Quick Check in Chester...

... where Laura was taken by a moth on the window, a few photos were taken of the moth, and I was taken by this picture of Laura, Laura's reflection, and the moth:

After the stop, the roads had dried somewhat, and the downhills were a bit less scary; somehow I got my top speed up to 37mph (how and where?). We got as close to the high point of Somerset as we could; it's on private land, and even these pictures were taken on a private road; we expected to be sent packing at any moment. Tom, taking the obligatory "proof of achievement" picture:

The rest of us, trying not to look disreputable:

Going back down, we passed a number of estates. I had to get a picture of this one.

Not for nothin', but you know if somebody is livin' like that, somebody else is living in a hovel.

We were only a few miles from the end, so on to Cocoluxe, where I got some dark chocolate truffles for TEW, and a chocolate croissant for myself so that I wouldn't fade from hunger.

The rainy ride made the bike filthy, and I had a couple of adjustments to make... and TEW had been out briefly as well, so her bike was also dirty. The sun was out by the time I got home, so I spent a happy hour or so cleaning and maintaining bikes in the driveway.

There are worse ways to deal with job stress.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

free speech

As we Quakers say, this Friend speaks my mind.

I got it from today's Oddman, but it's originally this xkcd comic. If you're not checking out xkcd regularly, you should be (there's been a link over there on the right for years). It's an entertainment and an education. You won't get all of 'em, but google your way to the stuff you don't know; you'll be glad you did. The author/artist, Randall Munroe, subtitles it, "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language," and so I have found it to be.

In other news, a number of my favorite webcomics have either ended or stopped updating. If you have favorites, please let me know. (And we haven't really gotten that far from free speech, have we?)