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.