Friday, October 30, 2015

two from oddman

Today's Oddman had two bike-related pics that made me smile.

I can't even think of anything to say about the one above. Below, perhaps the best use of a toy-store bike after it has exhausted its less-than-100-mile range:

Monday, October 26, 2015

narcissus and echo

While I don't think cell phones, texting, and twitter are going to be the death of civil discourse (such gloomy predictions have been made before, at least since the age of movable-type printing*), I do think this take on the Narcissus/Echo story is great:

From today's Oddman. There's another one there about traditional and simplified English that's too good to be true, so I won't post it, but it made me smile.

*FWIW, while I do think we have lost a former greatness that was a result of a no-longer-shared Western canon of culture, I do not think this means that we will devolve into grunting and pointing as our primary means of communication. First, that great culture was not shared by most of the people in it, including women, the poor, and the uneducated (and it was not even available to the rest of the world). Secondly, I have faith in humanity. Art will arise. Given time, art will always arise.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

sane bike posse

Tom H has been leading rides to all the highest points in each county in NJ this year, and he calls those of us who go along with him his "insane bike posse". After last week's ride, though, he repented of his evil, and decided to lead a ride to Cassville to see the Russian church of St Vladmir, along normal roads, many of which we frequently ride. Tom advertised 55 miles from Mercer East. Well, Laura OLPH lives just far enough away to make about 70 miles if I parked near her house. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it; I had a hot date with The Excellent Wife (TEW) last night... but I was awake and out early enough to join Laura.

We got to the park to find Tom and Barry, and then Marco rolled in.

(I tried to get better pictures at the start, but the sun was so low they burned.)

There was autumnal excellence right at the park.

Many riders don't come out after the weather gets cool; they don't have the gear, or whatever... but for me, these are some of the best riding days: not hot or sweaty, and gorgeous colors everywhere, even where you don't expect them. Most of my pictures didn't do justice to the real thing (so I'm deleting them).

We kept up a quick pace (for us), and talked about upcoming rides, jobs, friends... all the things that remind me how social these rides can be. At Cassville, we stopped at a breakfast-and-antiques place that's a hoot:

I got that last picture of the bikes because it looks like they're for sale, along with all the other impedimenta at the place. Foodies aren't going to seek out this place for brunch, but an OJ and a bacon-and-egg sandwich was just the thing to keep me going the rest of the way today. (I've been in this town a couple of times with Winter Larry, and he usually stops at the place across the way; they have a great porch, but the whole place has an air of tobacco smoke. I had heard that one of the proprietors died; the place was open today, though. Below, it's center; on the right is the liquor store.)

Then to the church. We interrupted some skateboarders, and I got these pics.

Ride page is here. I didn't sweep on this one, and I'm impressed that I did the pace for the distance (and that I'm not crippled as I'm writing this!).

So, all in all, a nice sane ride. I doubt Tom is going to come up with a new name for us, though, so I suspect he'll plan some more insanity for a future outing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


Another bit of excellence from the brilliant Randall Munroe:

Original here.

  1. I don't know how to follow the citations at the bottom of the panels... but I was sure that study alluded to in panel two was wrong. And I remember hearing about the study referred to in panel three. (That one is of particular interest to me. I have little patience for those who romanticize our primitive past. If it was so good, we'd still be doing it.) 
  2. Why on earth aren't you reading XKCD regularly?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

no-pace ride.

Some rides you do for training, to stay (or get) in shape. Some you do for speed. Some rides you do for the challenge of a demanding uphill, or the thrill of a speedy descent. Some rides are traditional: we ALWAYS do the Stupid Sixty in support of some cause or other, perhaps.

But some rides I do to satisfy a social need. Some rides are just so I can get out with some people whom I don't see frequently enough, and spin some pedals and chat.

Today's ride was of these last. Laura OLPH had this on her blog about this ride:

Dust off your
a) heaviest; or
b) oldest; or
c) most beautiful; or
d) most worked-on; or
e) most unlikely; or
f) any combination of the above
bike and meet at 9:00 a.m. at the Hopewell Administration Building in Pennington (Main St., across from Ingleside) for a slow ride to Lambertville. We'll stop at Wheelfine Imports along the way to show off our oddities, then head to Rojo's and O Wow Cow to fill up on caffeine and sugar.
Friend Sean, who came to my birthday party but whom I've not seen since, hinted he might come along. Now, I like Laura, and ride with her frequently... but when I heard that Sean might come, I resolved to make this ride.

 So early this morning, I dumped the Krakow Monster, my fake-cyclocross do-pretty-much-everything bike in the car, and headed over to Laura's to ride to the start. Sean wasn't at Laura's, but they live close, so we went by his house and waited... and then he appeared and rode to Pennington to the start...

... where the only person waiting was John K. So the four of us made up this ride.

I was on the Krakow Monster, my steel bike that I built up earlier this year. Laura rode Gonzo, which she had had re-painted and rebuilt. John was on a venerable Serotta. But Sean had a nifty mottled-purple steel frame bike he'd built up with his Campagnolo components from 1971. You'll see pictures below; it's great.

We did this route. We maintained a regular pace, but made sure not to leave anybody; we chatted a lot (like, A LOT), and (this being one of Laura's rides), we stopped for pictures.

At Pennngton:

It was a beautiful fall day.

On the way, we stopped at Wheelfine Imports, where Michael Johnson had helped Laura get her bike powder-coated and built up. It's a maze of nifty bike stuff'. While there, I got some pictures of the bikes: here's Sean's "Purple Haze", with the purple skewers and the Campagnolo parts.

Gum-rubber hoods. Oh, my stars.

And Laura's Gonzo.

In that picture above the flecks in the powdercoat just pop out. Below, Michael at Wheelfine. We wasted so much of his time that, even though he fixed a flat for John, I bought a spoke wrench just to assuage my guilt at his idleness. (Hey, it's a Lezyne; it's a beautiful tool.)

Then to Rojo's.  On the way, I got a pic of my favorite truck on Alexsauken Creek Road.

At Rojo's, more bike pics. Laura's:

John's Serotta:

More of Sean's:

"Purple Haze". Of course.

Lambertville dresses up for Halloween; we saw these:

And, across the street:

And then, we saw a street closed and some kind of celebration.

It was a fundraiser for an animal rescue organization. They were friendly and it looked like fun.

We FINALLY got on the road again and came home. At the end, I got this last shot of Sean's head badge.

We've been accused of "fetishizing" these bikes. Yeah, I probably do.

It's cheaper than heroin.

Monday, October 12, 2015

high points bergen, morris, passaic ride

Some events are proofs of Murphy's law, or its many corollaries.

Tom H has been leading rides this season to hit the highest points in every county in NJ. The ride this weekend was to those in Morris, Passaic, and Bergen (the order in which we did them). Tom was honest in saying that this ride might "suck" (his term) because he hadn't been on these roads before, and didn't know their condition; he was going off the reports from Dustin Farnum's NJ Bike Map site. He said he hoped they wouldn't be too busy. He warned us that it would be a hilly ride; not many steep hills (more later), but there was very little flat.

The start was at Pompton Lakes Middles School, an hour away (or more) by car for those of us on the ride. We split into car pools; I rode up with Snakehead and his coworker John. John is a runner, but hasn't been on a ride this long since his teens, decades ago. (I was predicting dire things for John in my head, but he defied my dire predictions and did well.) When we got to the school, the parkiing lot had traffic cones, so we street-parked. Unpacking and setting up:

Above, John; below, Snakehead.

Jack came alone. Laura and Marco came together.

Below, Tom, the founder of the feast.

There was a sharp hill right at the start, and, on it, I had a recurrence of my brake bind from the previous day; I stopped to adjust the brake, but couldn't get started on the bike again and had to walk up the steep part of the hill. It wouldn't be the last time on this ride.

We continued; there was another steep spot... this time I had a brake bind on the other side. I opened the brake and decided to fix it at the stop. And walked up the steep part of the hill. (Hrmph.)

Roads had more traffic on them than we expected; they also largely did NOT have shoulders. The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I had been to visit a friend south of Philadelphia the day, and the traffic was heavy and anxiety-inducing both ways; I felt the anxiety return every time I looked in my mirrors and saw a parade of cars lining up behind us. (The mechanical problems with the bike didn't help.)

Off we went. We had to cross Rte 23, and to do so, we had to ride along it for a short way and cross at a jughandle. I did my usual Salve Regina chant, and we got across without incident. (I'm not claiming a cause-and-effect relationship, but there is, so far, a 100% correlation.)

We got to the high point of Morris, which was partway up a road to a higher crest (the road crosses the border between the counties). This road also had a steep part. I wound up dropping chains both outside and inside the cranks... and walked the bike up the steep part. I did a quick tighten of the limit screws, which has solved the problem, but I'm glad there wasn't any Xanax at the roadside, I would have been chomping them like M&M's.

(OK; I can see the chain drops on the outside after the recent rebuild; I changed the large ring. But why was the chain dropping to the inside? It's a mystery to me.)

Tom got his pictures of us, and I got my picture of Tom getting his picture of us.

We went back down and stopped at a deli, where Snakehead and I shared a sandwich, and I did some mechanical adjustments, and got some pics of the folks and the foliage.

Stopping for more pictures:

The Passaic high point is along another busy, no-shoulder road, at a bar-and-deli. Below, my pics:

We didn't stop there for a break; Tom said there was a bagel place further on that would make a better stop... but miles went by and we didn't see it. Instead, we stopped at a bar-and-deli (interesting combination!) we saw along the way.

I loved the juxtaposition of the two sets of bikes: the bar patrons' motorcycles, and ours, pedal-powered.

And about a half-mile later, there was the bagel place.

Then up to the Bergen high point. We climbed and climbed, traffic backing up behind us and passing when it could, with varying amounts of clearance space. At one point, Tom said there would be about 200 more feet of climb; it turned out to be more like 400 feet, and some of our number were shot; I got caught behind someone, and twice I was going so slowly that the GPS stopped registering forward motion. Only one pic at the top; the others didn't come out, perhaps because I was shaking so hard!

Tom said from there, it was all downhill, and it very nearly was: of the six miles remaining to the start, probably five miles was descent. At the bottom, some of us got more foliage pics.

It was a beautiful day for a ride, but it was difficult and anxiety-producing for me. I'm glad I went... but I'm glad I don't have to do it again.