Monday, October 31, 2016

bicycle club of philadelphia fall foliage event

(If you just want the link to the 160+ pictures I uploaded, you can just go there and avoid the rest of the post.)

Weeks ago, Tom H (y'know, author of the book) sent out a call to his Insane Bike Posse to see if any of us were interested in attending the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia's Fall Foliage Event this year. I mentioned it to The Excellent Wife (TEW), who wasted no time in persuading me that I should use up some of the vacation time I invariably lose each year, and go with Tom, etal. So I sent in the requisite gelt and got my spot reserved.

I'll get to the rides and my experiences later, but I just want to rant for a minute on how excellent this was. First, for me, one of the things I did right was to go with a few people I knew. I'm socially inept (to say the least) in new situations, and having people there who'd done it before, and would let me be the "little brother" and tag along, was just the ticket. My thanks to Tom for the invite, and I hope it's extended again in the future. (We went also with Jack H and his consort Dorothy K, who are a great pair as well. Jack seems a bit less taciturn when she's around...)

It doesn't take long at this event to see that much of the energy that keeps it ticking is Linda McGrane, president of the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia. She's a turbine of energy and able to shift focus with lightning speed, and seems to have an incredible memory for people and their individual interests, quirks, and contributions (she startled me by remembering my name when she found I was rooming with Tom; as far as I know, she had no reason to remember that). She's surrounded by the rest of the cast, including her father (who is ninety-one... ninety one!... and when he's not napping on one of the hotel couches, he's being helpful in a dozen ways), and Alan, who always seemed to have a tool in his hand. Alan might be who I want to be when I grow up.

(That's Linda, layin' down the law at the orientation. Alan's to her left, imbibing something-or-other)

From all this energy and (frankly astonishing) organization comes this event, where, for about $200, we got:
  • Two nights' lodging;
  • Two dinners;
  • Better-than-continental breakfast (including a few gallons of coffee to get me started each morning. The hotel undoubtedly lost money on coffee with me);
  • Road food;
  • Guided rides, and 
  • SAG support.
Sheesh. Oh, and one motel wasn't enough to hold us; we filled two of them.

(There were also two kegs of beer, five boxes of wine, and some liquor. I couldn't ride on that kind of fuel, but perhaps there are some who can!)

Tom, Jack, Dorothy, and I  met early Friday and drove out. On the way, Tom said we might meet a few Princeton Freewheelers (if you're new to this blog, you might not know that's my club), and when we got there, we met Al L, who came out on our first ride.

(Jack, and Al L).

We did this ride, and stopped (maybe in New Oxford?) at this coffee place in a pretty town.

Apparently it was a good idea, because about ten minutes later, two other rides showed up, with about twenty more people.

Back to the motel, for cleanup, dinner (not gourmet, but plenty good enough), and orientation. There were people from Maine, Ohio, Florida... Tom met a former coworker from Kentucky and one of his friends; they came out with us on the next day's ride.

That one went from the hotel in Hanover to Westminster, Maryland. It had a LOT of climbing; different riders came up with different numbers, but my page shows 4000 feet even after adjustment, so that's what I'm sticking with (the ride was advertised with 3100 feet of climb; I don't see how the difference came in, but there it is). The hills were steep, and there didn't seem to be much ridge riding -- we would climb, then drop and climb again. Westminster, though, was pretty, and the ride companions were easy to get along with (as I often am not).

In the evening, there was a big banquet in town, with a couple of (blessedly brief) speeches. Below, the cake; I can't figure out what the logo is. Can you?

Tom had mercy on us (and probably on himself) the next day; we did this (comparatively flat) ride into the Gettysburg park. I was awed by the monuments, and by the awfulness that must have been the battle. Some of the confederate bodies were not buried for years afterwards; there was that much carnage.

And just to show that not all the stupid road signs are in Jersey, we turned here:

But the rides aren't half of the experience for me. This trip is a gearhead's delight. I'm just going to post a few of my favorite bike (and other) pics.

They've got a May trip I'm lookin' at... and, if you join the club, you get a discount. It might be worth the sawbuck-and-a-half.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

wheel building book - new edition

Years ago, I got a bootleg copy of Roger Musson's wheelbuilding book, and it was good enough that I bought one for myself (the book is a .pdf download; you can print the parts you need, but I never have). I had read both Gerd Schraner's and Jobst Brandt's books on wheels; they were full of theory, but I couldn't get my brains around how to build a wheel from them, and online guides weren't helpful to me, either (my learning style is such that I learn better from books and practice than from online sources; your mileage may vary [as everyone's does, of course]).

There's a new edition out that I downloaded this morning and have been skimming. It's still good, and there are enough changes that the new edition number makes sense. (See, if you buy the book, you get new editions free. If you don't like it, he will refund your money for up to 60 days.)

Earlier editions were hard to read for me (Musson treats commas as if they cost $2 each), but this one is written a bit better. It includes information on how to make some of the tools you'll need, why some things that sound like good ideas really aren't, and why some of the latest-and-greatest products and techniques don't make sense for most of us recreational cyclists.

About $12 US (Musson's a limey). Worked for me.

(No, you can't borrow mine. It's $12. Buy cheaper coffee for a week and support this guy, all right?)

Monday, October 17, 2016

do they make a jersey like this?

No ride yesterday; I was on an all-clear-liquids diet preparatory to a colonoscopy today (one of the appurtenant travails of age; these older model vehicles may have certain charms, but we do require extra maintenance), and I wasn't sure I could do dozens of miles without solid sustenance. The colonoscopy requires total anaesthesia, and to remind the medical staff to be attentive, patients are issued the yellow armband in the picture below:

I think I might need a bike jersey with that legend.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

derailleur is seriously wounded on metric century ride

That title got your attention, didn't it?

Laura OLPH decided her flatlands bike was getting resentful from neglect (or maybe it was lazy from disuse; I can't always tell), so she decided to use one of Tom H's routes in Burlington County today for a flat 100km/60 miles. Despite scraping frost off the windshield this morning (c'mon! Second time this week, and it's only mid-October!), seven of us decided it was a good idea: besides Tom, Laura, and me, there were Robert N, Jack A, Gordon, and Raj.

Tom did the ceremony of the holy kickstand...

... and, while it did protect us from injury, it's clear to me it was ineffective against mechanical mishap... but more later.

The route (links to ride page) is a modification of one from Tom's book. Today's route took us along Chatsworth-Tabernacle Road, which had a decent surface, but was a bit busier than I would have liked. On the way, we hit the most happenin' event in the county, I think: the Cranberry Festival in Tabernacle.

After escaping the traffic, we stopped for pictures, and, of course, I got pictures of the folks takiing pictures.

We stopped at Nixon's in Tabernacle (if you're riding down here, you're probably going to stop at Nixon's in Tabernacle), where there was a cake sale to support a dog-rescue operation.The woman standing in the picture below rescues dogs from shelters in the South, where the custom is to keep the dogs only a week before euthanizing. She picks 'em up and finds 'em families up here in The Reproachable Northeast. I was glad to buy some junk food and throw some cash her way. (I did not promise to take a dog.)

Obligatory bikes pic:

From Nixon's I was hoping for an uneventful ride back to Mansfield Park...

...but at about mile 50, I heard a chatter in my chain. I pulled over to investigate, and found that the upper pulley wheel had stopped turning and was locked in place. (They're also called jockey wheels and follow wheels, and yes, the terms are interchangeable; don't give me no B.S. about that). By loosening the axle bolt, I got it to turn well enough to get me back to the car, but I sweated about the bolt falling out the whole way back. It held, though.

When I investigated at home, I found the bearing in the wheel had turned to the ball-bearing equivalent of hamburger:

(Hint: All the balls are not supposed to be on one side of the wheel, and the stamped metal dingus that holds 'em in place is not supposed to have twisted shards sticking out like that.)

The new jockey wheels should be delivered Friday. And so much for the Holy Kickstand. I'm goin' back to my grouchy atheism.

Friday, October 14, 2016


I'm dropping my mail-in ballot into the postbox this morning, because I can't imagine what could happen in the next three weeks or so that could change my vote.

In related news, here's one from today's Oddman:

Just deplorable.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

ciclovia, october 2016 - second post

More Ciclovia pics:

Wait... is that Freewheeler John Smolenyak in the picture below?

That woman above was so sweet when I filled her tires and adjusted the brakes.

About this time, a mother and son came in, of whom I didn't get a picture. They had the most beat-up old bike that wouldn't go... but it became clear that this was gonna be the kid's only chance at a bike. I had to un-bend a couple of links of the chain, shape a bend fork, play with the brake... eventually I got it so he could get it to go in one gear (of a 3x7), and I got one brake to work. Later, I rode home on the Krakow Monster, with my toolbox on the rack, and meditated on injustice and mercy for a mile or two.

Above, the replacement team, Tom & Annie. I stayed a bit longer, but I'm glad they came so I could go. With all the up-and-down and lifting, I'm going to be a mess tomorrow.

That was the COOLEST tandem cruiser! Below, I could be wrong, but I thought the woman with all the flowers gave me a wink. Don't tell TEW.

And below, the winner of the best bike outfit, by far. With matching bike.