Sunday, June 26, 2016

what do you get on a tom h ride?

So Laura OLPH was out of town, and Tom H took over her ride for today. He said he was "planning a 47ish mile moderately hilly ride with one stop, probably in New Hope."

Three of Tom's Insane Bike Posse took him up on the offer, out of the Park and Ride that's either in Yardley, Upper Makefield, or Washington Crossing, depending on whose GPS or mapping site you consider. I got there early, and helped a hapless newbie with her first tube change; but the time I was done, Jack and Tom were there, and Blake rolled in a few beats later.

Tom did his Holy Kickstand ritual (laugh if you want, but it seems to be working):

... and off we went on this ride.

You can tell from the elevation diagram that we started right off with a climb. I had a problem that I thought was a brake bind, but turned out to be that the rear quick-release had worked loose after I'd replaced the creaky rear wheel with one with radial left spokes. (I was whining last week about my creaky rear wheel problem; more in an upcoming post.)

We proceeded to Tyler Park, and rolled around a bit (there's a pretty path; one of the locals took us to task about riding the road bikes on a path with pedestrians until we assured her we'd only run two or three people off into the weeds). Jack discovered a loose bottle cage, and fixed it.

One of the things you can expect on a Tom H ride is a mechanical problem; we'd had two minor ones.

Another thing you can count on is a section of no paving (or sometimes, no road). Coming out of the park, we came upon the gravel road:

(It DID lead up to the first of two covered bridges, so there's that...) A few minutes later, we had to climb this...

... to get out of the park. (Can you see the log-stairs in the background?)

Another thing that happens on a Tom ride, but you can't count on it, is a detour. Jack pointed out that he'd owned a house along here years ago, and wanted to see it, so we adjusted the route to go by:

Tom spoke with nostalgia about the house, the garage he'd built:

... the guy he hired to move the boulders to the front (and the low taxes...).

And back we came. You can't COUNT on 3000 feet of climb in less than 50 miles... but don't be surprised if it happens!

(No ride yesterday; had another one of those Polish funerals, so I had plenty of calories to work off today.)

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Francisco Rodriguez, mechanic at Kim's Bikes, who calls me Mr. Jim (and treats me way better than I deserve), has added me to a closed group on Facebook for the Saturday Kim's Bike Shop rides.

And Ed Kanitra has made me a moderator of the Bicycle New Jersey Facebook group.

Sheesh. I'm honored.

I might have to start looking at Facebook now and then, other than just to link to these posts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

split solo ride, i have a reader, why the wheels creak, and why black bar tape is best for me

Well, there are a few reasons for it:
  1. The Florida in-laws are in town;
  2. The Excellent Wife (TEW)'s aunt was ailing (we just heard that she died);
  3. I've still got the back pain I referred to in yesterday's post, so I didn't want to take on too much.
 So instead of going on one of the Freewheeler rides, or going out with Snakehead (who's doing a heavy-training day today in preparation for having his daughter hand his head to him on Bike Virginia next week), I decided to do a solo ride. I've got this route that I figure might be good for a Sunday pickup ride; it's short, but it's got a few demanding climbs, and it allows for stops in Hopewell, Princeton, and/or Kingston. I decided to modify that.

GPS was wonky, though; at first it wouldn't load the route, then it cut out and I had to restart, so I wound up with two ride pages: the first fourteen miles, and the remaining 23-or-so.

I ding the bell and wave at most riders (Dave Kim said yesterday that he visualizes me on a high-wheel ordinary, twirling my moustache and tipping my wool cap to all and sundry), and, of course, I was doing so today. I passed one gentleman in Hopewell, who cranked like hell to catch me again and said he reads this blog every week! Wait... I have a regular reader? Are there others? I'm flattered... and a little awed by the responsibility. Does this mean I've gotta stop whining about my mental foibles and physical ailments? (Hint: Unlikely to actually happen; as I write this I have the back brace on again... and why didn't I get one a week ago? I just went to Costco with it on, and younger folks were making space for the poor weak old guy. I could get used to that.)

 A bit further down the road, I had an epiphany. I've built a (small) number of wheels, and some of the rear wheels I've built have developed a creak. Laura OLPH suggested I had not pulled the spokes tight enough, but I can't believe that: I ruined one rim by buckling it when I pulled the drive-side spokes too tight, and you can see in the picture below that there's some distension about the rim in the middle spoke; the ones on either side don't show it. The middle spoke is a drive-side spoke.

I think the rim flexes, and that's what causes the creak. All the creaks have been in wheels with this rim. The one rear that I've built with a different rim has no creak. (It's definitely the non-drive spokes, too; I've got a wheel laced three-cross on the drive side and radial on the other, and that one doesn't creak.) My experiment will be to build a wheel with a different rim (without eyelets; I think those are stiffer), with a cross pattern on the non-drive side, and see if the creak occurs. I'm betting it won't.

Finally, some pictures of my bar tape. I usually wrap with black, but for my 60th birthday, Snakehead got me some very good SRAM yellow (in honor of the Yellow Maserati, no doubt). The pictures below show the condition of the pretty yellow tape, eight months after installation:

I guess this is why we just can't have nice things...

Saturday, June 18, 2016

ride with kims a different way

So it's not enough, I suppose, that I'm saddled with an anxiety disorder; for the past two weeks or so I've had a wicked back pain problem (it seems to be passing now, but I'm wearing a back brace as I type this, and I was walking with a cane last night). Biking is one of the few things I can do that doesn't make the pain worse (probably because I'm sitting down), but I still demurred when Snakehead emailed about needing a challenge before his daughter kicks his ass at Bike Virginia next week; despite the fact that I like to challenge myself with Snakehead Ed, I was afraid of exacerbating the back problem. I told him I'd probably just show up for the Kim's ride at 8am.

Which I did. I had a bit of bike-computer lockup, and lost the first couple miles on the computer (but I got 'em in my legs, which is the important part), but when I got to the shop, the folks I call the Kimbo's were starting to assemble.

Yay! Miguel is back!He was wearing long sleeves and tights after a recent sunburn; he didn't want a repeat/

That's an unrecognizable picture (due to my cheesy camera) above of John and Ryan.

... and Dave came out again. (I hope he's not neglectin' his paternal duties, or any such.)

There was some talk of a change in route (someone didn't want to face the climb at Coppermine), but we started out in the usual direction, and picked up the fast Rutgers boys at the Olde Towne lot in Johnson Park. Snakehead and some of his compatriots were there. 

We went through Bound Brook, and got spread out heading down to the park. I hung back with Francisco and his group, and by the time we got to the assembly point at the other side of Colonial Park, the others were rarin' to go.

But it wasn't until we stopped at Blackwells Mills that the route changes got set. 

Snakehead and his crew went on to Princeton; I went with the Kimbos across the Griggstown Causeway, then back up to Blackwells Mills, up into Somerset and back to the shop. (The Rutgers boys call the causeway at Blackwells Mills, "First Bridge", and the Griggstown Causeway is "Second Bridge". This added to my confusion. Although I'm lost all the time, this is one of the few places I usually ride where I know the road names.)

We got spread out again, partly due to my confusion about who was going where. We headed across at Griggstown, then up River Road, where there was as much traffic as I remember.  As Francisco, Miguel, and I got back onto Blackwells Mills, we saw a few of the others waiting for us (there was a gentle use of the term "slowpokes", as I remember). We headed up into Somerset (more new territory for me; I got lost again), and I almost missed the turn to get back to the shop.

The back pain wasn't a problem on this ride, and I turned in some pretty quick speeds (although I remember thinking, "I'm too old for this", as three young riders whipped past me when I moved aside to let the paceline go through). I like going out with this group... even though the ride is over by about 10:15, I get a full workout in early in the day. And it leaves the rest of the day for a leisurely ride to the CVS for a back brace, and a date with The Excellent Wife (TEW) at O Wow Cow.

You definitely want to check out O Wow Cow.

Oh, yeah. Ride page. Note the missing 2+ miles at the start. And the average should have been higher, but I was whipped by the time I was riding home.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

ride to the shore on a windy day

Despite my generalized feelings of impending doom, I went along to Monmouth Battlefield Park at some ludicrous hour this morning (well, I was up, but no normal person would have been) for the start of Tom H's ride to Sandy Hook. The Excellent Wife (TEW) had been looking at the weather predictions, and had dire warnings about the wind (and the heat), but I ignored her advice and went anyway.

At the Monmouth Battlefield, the wind was already up at 8:15 or so; check out the flags.

It would get worse later.

But while I was worrying about that, up came Jack, who might have been on his first ride since a shimmy and crash on Federal Twist some weeks ago.

Tom, Laura, and Snakehead arrived, so we were five. I'm surprised there were no others; this ride often gets more takers, Perhaps people were concerned about the weather; if so, Rule 9.

Tom did the asperges ritual with the sanctus status pedis...

...while the rest of us expressed our awe, and recorded the proceedings.

And off we went. We had kind-of-a-tailwind for a while. We stopped at a Quik Chek in Atlantic Highlands, and refilled our water, already running low from the heat and wind.

Bikes pic!

As we approached Sandy Hook, we felt the wind getting worse, and the sand started grinding at us. We got to the beach, but we decided not to proceed up the bike path all the way. We got some pictures, and continued back, instead.

We had another stop somewhere near Rumson (not ideal, but there wasn't another good place), but the ride back was a slog. While we seldom had a real headwind, the sidewinds were strong (I couldn't hear much except wind noise), and there was traffic much of the way; we finally got out of the traffic (I think) between Little Silver and Shrewsbury. And it was hot; we went through most of our water.

But sometimes, the unpleasantness of the ride becomes a shared experience, and it was that way for me today. Despite my general anxiety, nothing bad happened (well, I DID have a flat about ten miles from the end, and I've got a creak that I think is spoke noise, but these are small potatoes), and Jack came out and did the ride. It was a great day, and I'm glad I went. I'm sorry you missed it.

Ride page here.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

saturday with kim's

The rides from Kim's Bike Shop (also on Facebook) on Saturdays now suit me so well that those are my default Saturday rides unless there's something else in particular going on (well, they are awful welcoming!). I've got a routine now: I stop in at the Wawa for an apple fritter* (they're huge, and have no redeeming social value, appealing solely to the prurient interest), which sometimes excites comment from the staff or other patrons - I'm in full bike regalia, and I carry the front wheel into the store to make the bike that little bit harder to steal. Then I ride up Jersey Avenue looking for an empty building, so I can go behind it to find a place to urinate without distraction. I usually get to the shop a bit early.

For today, though, Snakehead, who's newly back from The Land Down Under, was looking for a ride companion, so we agreed to do the Kim's ride, then maybe break off at the top of Coppermine to repair to Kingston, at which point we would philosophize and opine over coffee and carbohydrates.

When I got to Kim's today, there was a first-timer there who asked I not post his pic initially (he later relented, but the first pic didn't come out anyway). Shortly thereafter, some of the usual gang began to appear.

Those two above are father-and-son, I think.

Above, Snakehead; first time on a bike in weeks.

Above, Vincencio told us that Francisco was already out doing some hills and would meet us on the road. The fellow below (I didn't get his name) is too fast for me!

We left to do the usual route. There had been rumor that Dave Kim was coming along, but he wasn't at the start; I figured his brand-new son was keeping him occupied. But at the Olde-Towne Lot in Johnson Park, where our number about doubled when we picked up the Rutgers riders, Dave was there. Later, I asked him about the family. "I miss sleeping," he said. We also caught up to Francisco along this stretch.

We zipped through South Bound Brook and Colonial Park at a pretty good clip. I got a few more pics at the bottom of the park:

Then down through Millstone and down Canal Road. Some didn't want to stop at Six Mile/Blackwells Mills, but I did; I needed to put my lungs back in.

Above, Francisco had 31 miles and 3000' of climb by the time we caught up to him. He's getting much stronger, and is racing again, I think.

Then up Coppermine, where I did better than I'd thought. At the top, we assembled for a bit.

When the rest of the gang went back up 27, Ed and I headed down Old Georgetown to the Main St Cafe for sustenance and conversation; on the way, we saw The Excellent Wife (TEW) pedaling back; she'd been out for a ride and had had a similar plan.

Ed is smitten with Australia and hopes to return (I'm a terrible traveler; he can have it). He's got back-to-work issues around funding and management/staffing changes, and he's trying to decide if he should keep the carbon bike now that he's got the steel one (he was riding the carbon bike today after a minor mishap with a driver that cost the use of the front derailleur on his Love Child).

The correct answer is, of course, that he should certainly keep the carbon bike. After all: Rule 12.

Oh, and here's my ride page with all the extra meandering.