Sunday, March 27, 2016

the great night

My Polish relatives refer to Easter as Wielkanoc, which translates to "The Great Night". It's a name that's much more evocative to my Christian wife than the pagan-translated "Easter".

She's taught me to greet the relatives with "Chrystus Pan zmartwychwstał!" (To which the response is, of course, "Prawdziwie zmartwychwstał!" After all these years, I've managed to get my Anglo tongue around the pronunciation to my wife's satisfaction. My mother-in-law, of course, is delighted that I even make the effort.)

The excellent wife has hope for life after death, but also thinks that part of the Easter message is about second chances. I can get behind that.

We're just back from visiting, and have a fridge full of eggs (some blessed) and ham products. It's gonna be a fat week.

Hope you're well, and you got through Easter OK. It's not ALL about chocolate bunnies, you know.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

late march 60-miler

One of the advantages of riding regularly with people who like you (and whom you like, of course) is that you get invited on pick-up rides when somebody's got an idea for a new route or destination. Laura OLPH had heard from Paul I about a new coffee place in Flemington; she went to try it out recently, but wanted to bring The Usual Suspects (when we ride with Laura, we're the Hill Slugs; when we ride with Tom H, we're the Insane Bike Posse). So after the obligatory flurry of emails, we gathered at one of Tom's common starts: a parking lot on Laurel below 518. In addition to Tom, Laura, and me, we had Snakehead Ed, Peter, Chris C, Winter Larry, and Mighty Mike M.

Laura has retired the Chocolate Bunny ride, in both name and route... but apparently a good idea is a good idea, so for today's ride she brought chocolate eggs for all the finishers.

Off we went and turned onto 518 in Rocky Hill...

... and picked up John K, who'd misread the directions to the start. So we were 9.

My ride page includes my rides to and from home; we went about the flattest, safest route possible into Flemington. Do you think I remember where I got these? (I'll give you a hint - I don't.)

I DO remember coming into Neshanic after going down Zion, and stopping to tighten one of my bottle cages, which had loosened and was giving the most annoying rattle - almost as annoying as the fact that the 3mm wrench on my multi-tool was just that little bit too short to tighten it correctly. I also remember turning onto the bridge there and coming face-to-face with a HUGE SUV that I hadn't expected to be there. Surprise!

The place in Flemington is called Factory Fuel.

I can't tell you about the coffee, but they had great baked stuff, and they laughed politely at my stupid jokes and treated us almost as if we were real people. There's a farm market next door offering chili, as well.

Obligatory bike pics:

Didn't-get-close-enough pics of the alpaca farm we passed on the way back:

At Lindbergh & Ridge Roads:

About two miles from the ride start, I got a flat I needed to change, and after that, I decided not to fight the hill going from the ride start back home, but to take the longer, flatter route up 27. Laura was concerned about the safety of the route... but I ride in New Brunswick; Route 27 in Kingston and Kendall Park was NOT going to be a problem. I came home to my wife singing her way through a cooking marathon.

Life is good. What are youse-all doin'?

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

acting as if

So I mostly hid out over the weekend because I was in such a foul mood that I didn't want to risk losing the friends I have (and your tenacity may belie your discernment...). I tried to come out of it, and then yesterday at work, something came up that has me returning to the land of the grumpy.

When I was active in my own substance-abuse recovery, one of the slogans the got passed around was "Act as if...", so I'm acting as if I weren't cranky and unfit for human company. I'm not sure it's working.

(Yes, I did a ride over the weekend... and I'm toying with a few pickup rides [maybe this route] if I don't like the offerings from the club. I'll send out emails or something when I'm planning on them, if and of youse have any interest in coming.)

A couple of days ago, Oddman had a post on bike pics. In an effort to rejoin humanity, I'm posting a few below:

I did not build those wheels above... and i can't imagine getting the tensions right.

I think the photographer below is trying to die:

I think the one below is just gorgeous, even without lugs and steel:

And finally, perhaps a solution to the saddle problem.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

what stop sign?

First, let's get this out of the way right now. I was wrong, and Laura OLPH was right. I've been saying that weight of a bike isn't important for the kind of recreational riding I do, and also complaining that my speed and endurance is down.

As I noted yesterday, the Krakow Monster (which I've mostly been riding all winter) weighs well over 30 lbs. Today I took out the Yellow Maserati, the titanium bike, which weighs about two-thirds the weight of the Monster. And I could ride faster and longer on the Il Maserati Giallo than I thought possible. So ten lbs. of weight does make a difference. (I'm still not sure that TWO pounds of weight would make a difference, but ten certainly did.)

The occasion for the apology above was Winter Larry's "Back by Lunch" Sunday ride out of Cranbury. Nine of us started on the ride: besides the two of us, were John, Jeff and Steve, Carl and Mike (more-or-less regulars with the three-times-a-week Team Social Security guys), Pete F, and Laura.

We did this route, and had a bit of ongoing silliness: on Ellisdale, Larry told us we could ride at our own speed and gather at the stop sign... but at the other end, there wasn't a stop sign. He told us a couple of other times to meet at stop signs that turned out to be nonexistent, which led to talk of philosophy of stop signs, possible paranormal stop sign activity, and stop signs in parallel universes. (We're Princeton Freewheelers; you know how we get.)

We did a stop at a Dunkin' Donuts in Hornerstown.

The young fellow in the center of the picture above was selling candy for his youth group (his mom was at a corner table with more supplies, should they be needed). He was so earnest that I threw a couple bucks at him even though I couldn't carry the candy. (Yeah, I'm a soft touch and an idiot, but at least he's not supporting Trump or something.) Also on the break, Laura was complaining about the time she's needed to put in as new newsletter editor. I, for one, am hoping for online everything soon.

On the way back, Carl peeled off looking for a shorter way home (as John had done before the break), and we proceeded on our route, looking for more missing stop signs. As we came up to Route 130, we came up behind Carl at the light; he'd hit an uphill with a headwind on York, which threw askew his plans of an early ride end.

When we got to the lot, we had discussions about non-riding physical exercises, on which I expounded, just as if there were anything I actually knew!

So now I'm back home, running the laundry and doing my blog post. Hope you're well. I'm looking forward to getting back to my routine this week.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

gettin' the new glasses

No group ride today; instead, we went up to celebrate the excellent mother-in-law's birthday (she's just lost her husband, in case you have other things to do than follow every word of this blog, and she could use the support). I had heard that a new pair of glasses were to be ready, so I decided to pick them up by bike. I did this route; 22 miles, 16.4mph, a smidge over 1000 feet of climb (who knew there'd be such climb between North Brunswick and Princeton?).

I'm not happy with the pace, even though I did it on the Krakow Monster, which weighs over 32lbs. in its current configuration. I may just have to get used to the fact that I'm not going to have the speed I used to. (I was gonna blame the speed on the "Princeton Blows, New Brunswick Sucks" phenomenon: the prevailing wind out of the southwest around Rte. 27, but I don't think there was that much wind today.)

But it was good to get in a ride like this on a day I didn't expect to be able to ride at all. And it's good that the Monster can be used for such chores.

(And I really like the glasses, from Princeton Eye Group, and their Optical Shop. There are less expensive sources - I've used 'em - but the last pair I got were my first glasses in decades that I wasn't cursing within a few months, and these new ones seem to be good, too.)

ruined in five seconds

The obsequies for the excellent father-in-law occurred this week. I went along to provide support for my wife and her family, and to express how much I will miss him, too, but this experience was not about me - it was about my mother-in-law, and it was about my wife and her sisters. I was mostly able to keep that in mind.

But it was exhausting for me. I was spending a lot of time around people I don't know, many of whom I could not even speak to. While I was pleasantly surprised at those of our friends appeared either at the wake or the funeral, still, it was tiring to speak to them. We slept there, in the basement apartment, so I was a bit offput by that, and, in general, it was a bit of a disorienting experience.

I mostly kept it together until, late on the day of the funeral, I just lost it and swore about some minor thing Regina had done in front of people who were important to her. And now my whole memory of the event is tainted by that.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

all about me

When you're the son-in-law, and the father-in-law dies, and he's got four daughters and a wife who survive him, and it's the first few days after the death and all kinds of arrangements need to be made... well, when all that happens, one of the things you have to keep clear is that it's not all about you. Even if you got along with the deceased father-in-law famously, and miss him yourself (and expect to miss him more as time goes on), it's not all about you.

But sometimes you need to make time for yourself, even in the midst of these responsibilities. The Excellent Wife (TEW) let me know that I'd be able to get a ride in today without her feeling completely abandoned. I didn't feel up to any of the advertised club rides, so I emailed a couple of folks about their plans, and Snakehead got back to me about a couple of possibilities, and invited a few of his crew. Some were recuperating from other exertions, and others intended to remain places where they could keep warm (and probably horizontal), but Rick G came out to Six Mile for our 9am start.

We did this route. A bit of hilliness in the middle, but not too much, not too long, not too long of a break. We had to stop a few times for wardrobe adjustments (it was too cold for one person's gear, and too warm for another's); here we are at the Griggstown causeway:

... and the park at 602 & Hollow.

We talked about doing some tough hills, but none of us really wanted to work that hard. Instead, we bobbled around, and came down into Hopewell to the Brick, where we had a break of reasonable duration, and split a too-big tart of some kind (the remainder came home with me in a pannier, that I will definitely replace when I return it to Snakehead, from whom it appears to be on extended loan).

(I think that fogginess on the pics s from sweating onto the camera in my pocket. I gotta keep it in the case.)

This ride was what I needed today. The funeral will be this week, and I'll have to go back to the background for those proceedings... but today was about me.

Hope your weekend is going better than mine was.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

a poor excuse for an obituary

He was born in the US in 1924, but his family was so poor that they moved back to Poland between the World Wars for a chance at a better life. He remembered being hungry there, too; sometimes, he said, the spoon just wasn't big enough. His father was addicted to tobacco, and he remembered the anger he felt that his father would spend money on that rather than on food for the family.

It was a lesson he apparently learned well. He moved back to this country, and married a woman who had been in a Nazi labor camp as a child. Together, they had four girls. Neither he nor his wife had as much as a seventh-grade education, but they sent all four girls to college, and he and his wife wound up owning four houses (one in Florida, and three in Wallington, NJ, a town so Polish that the Arab who runs the convenience store speaks Polish). One son-in-law died shortly after the first grandson was born; that grandson called him Dzadziu (Polish for “Grandpa”) and looked up to him as his father. Four other granchildren also called him Dzadziu, and two years ago, his first great-grandson was born.

Konstanty “Kostek” Brzęk died today, March 3, 2016, a few weeks before his 92nd birthday.


I'll post a better obit when I can, but my father-in-law, Konstanty Brzęk, died today. I thank you for your good thoughts