Sunday, August 27, 2017

new 30 recovery route from home

30 miles, less than 750' of climb.The stretch on Auten could get busy; this one has .8 miles; I've adjusted to cut it to .5 on Auten (but the route is about a mile longer). There's no good place for a break. But 30 miles, this close to the Sourlands... pretty good for a flat ride, eh? (By stretching down to Sunset in the southwest, I've upped it to 32 miles. I'll keep working on it.)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

old guy bike adjustments, and 57 miles with a gang of hill slugs

A year ago, I had back pain bad enough that I gave it a name. It's returned; I've had trouble getting things off the floor, getting to the low shelf in the fridge, and getting myself off the floor. It's bad enough that I've actually been doing something about it besides complaining: I've added some yoga to my exercise routines (despite my distaste for the oh-so-aesthetic-looking men who do yoga; I've told my coworkers that I'm seeking a school of "yoga for grouches"); I've invested in a TENS unit (it's a device that sends an electrical charge across the afflicted area, and it's the best $30-or-so I've spent in a long time, let me tell you); I've got a lumbar support pillow on my main chair at home (the work chair is already pretty good).

The back pain was bad when I was getting off the bike after a few miles. I finally broke down and moved the saddle forward a few millimeters, and got a new stem that raises the handlebar and moves it back a bit. The changes are so minor that nobody will notice except me... but I now think of it as an old man's bike.

Still, the back pain is better.


Laura OLPH was thinking of doing a hilly, picturesque ride in Warren County, but the earlier-in-the-week email exchange among the Hill Slugs didn't elicit a lot of interest (Tom H was recently back from his adventures chasing the eclipse, and wasn't up for a demanding route, for example). I wouldn't be surprised if that ride shows up later in the season... but for today, she put in a 46-miler from Pennington (or 57 if you took her usual offer of extra miles, which I did).

I got to her house, and found my camera battery was in need of a charge, so I took no pictures on this ride. There will be a few from Laura.

Ricky G and Jack H also met at Laura's; Jack had parked at the advertised start, and ridden to Laura's so he could ride back, but he had an early commitment in the afternoon. We rode to the start at Twin Pines...

... to find eleven others waiting (Laura said the total was sixteen, but I kept counting fifteen at every stop).

Wait... that guy in the flag jersey; what's he doing in these pictures?

It was a group that doesn't ride together often. Laura hinted at a sweep, and, of course, I stepped up. And off we went.

Rare for one of Laura's rides, we early split into a fast group and a slow group; the slow group weren't always slower riders, but in a group like this, where we don't all now one another's riding styles, sometimes it's smart to stay back and look for... well, let's call them eccentricities.

In the center of the second picture above, the rider in green is Cheryl, of the Florida Flatlander blog. She's a long-time Princeton Freewheeler who's moved to Florida (well, DUH!), but who's back for a visit. She was riding a new cyclocross bike with [28mm tires,] disk brakes, and electronic shifting (and I don't think she's got the hang of it yet... but it's a lovely thing). (Edited Aug 27 after comment from Cheryl)

I hung out in the back with the folks who wound up there. Jerry F (on the far right of the second picture) on his aluminum frame from when aluminum frames were the latest-and-greatest and I got to chat quite a bit.

Laura got us to Factory Fuel in Flemington. Laura knows I like bike pics, and took these of the hang-your-bike-by-the-saddle rack they have out front.

I like this style of rack where it works; the simplest ones are just five tubes. And I like Factory Fuel, although the rides in and out are traffic-y.

We mostly stayed together on the way back. Jack H and Blake went off the front for a bit, but they found us again later after a few extra miles; there were some apologies and bad jokes about it. Andrew and Celeste broke off to go home, having ridden the bikes to the start. But we didn't lose anybody off the back; the Hill Slugs have an ethic of "we don't go till we all go", and all the folks who stayed with us got back to Twin Pines.

Ricky, Laura, and I went back to Laura's where we had parked, and got to chatting, and we might be there yet if I hadn't decided that The Excellent Wife (TEW) was gonna be worried about me, so I went home.

And I hate to have to admit it, but the adjustments to the bike that I mentioned up top of this post seem to have made a difference. Rats. I'm an old guy.

Edit Aug 28: Ride page. I know most of you don't care, but I do.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

weekend rides

I'm not going to post much about the ride I did on Saturday. It's hard to find much to say that won't hurt somebody, because I went on a B ride, and the average at the stop was 16.9mph, bangin' against the top of the B range for the club. When the leader saw what was going on, he held back the pace some (the rest of the group took off without him at least twice), but one of the riders was flagging all the way back. I rode with that rider (as did the leader much of the way), and even so, my final average was 16.4.

I wrote in early June about pace creep. I wish we could be more careful about this, and I wish there were an easy way to address it without raising dander and hurting feelings.

Today I got up to see a flurry of emails from Team Erudite, the group of Princeton profs who occasionally suffer me to ride with them. I thought I had a date with The Excellent Wife (TEW) today, so I begged off, and minutes later determined that the event we were to attend was actually scheduled for a week from today. Now, Team Erudite were gonna begin their discussions about an hour later, or I could leave RIGHT NOW and get to Allentown in time for Chris C's B ride... so I packed up the Prius and headed for Allentown, leaving behind my favorite gloves and sweatband. Luckily, I had backups in my big-bag-o'-bike-stuff.

Got to the municipal lot at Allentown to find Joe M, who led me the back way to the start at Jimmy Bruno's bike shop. Jimmy was out early, meetin' and greetin'. There are three rides that start there on Sundays: Sue M's C+ and Bob S's B+ (don't I wish I could be a B+ rider again!) in addition to Chris's B.

Chris had five: Joe and me, and Prem, and a woman Sue whom I'd never met.

Chris decided to take us to the river, so we rode through Bordentown and Burlington, which Chris informs me (in his own inimitable fashion) are cities, not towns. Whatever; they're both lovely; there was money there once upon a time. In between, we went through the industrial section along the river. We also went through Roebling, which was cool.

We stopped at a Wawa on an island between the lanes of Route 130.

Above: I don't know what I did to Prem, but I'd better apologize, don't you think?

Obligatory bike pics. In the first, Chris runs his helmet straps through his wheel like a lock to slow down any would-be thief.

And back. Chris kept asking for distances, and chose routes, and we brought it in about 46 miles. I dropped in at Jimmy's shop and talked bikes for a couple (I gotta send more money there; I'm wasting too much of his time... maybe TEW needs some of his fudge?).

Then home to an impromptu date with TEW out to Doylestown to look at possible retirement homes. I'm not retiring for five years, and she's not for about ten, but you can't be too prepared, can you?

Edit: Oh. Duh. Ride page.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


I have never been ashamed of being a White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant American male due to anything said or done by any woman, person of color, person of any other ethnicity, person of any religion... or whatnot.

I am ashamed of the behavior of people who claim they speak for me and my race. I am sorry for what they have done. I have donated money against their cause, and will continue to do so.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

lying bastard

Tom's listing for this ride read:

THE LYING BASTARD RIDE: This ride is back by unpopular demand. I have been accused of misrepresenting how hilly and hard my Lake Nockamixon ride is but this is truly FAKE NEWS. Yes, the terrain will be hilly to rolling with some (3500 ft) of climbing but will be a YUGELY scenic ride. So if doing something different on unfamiliar roads with a ride leader called a lying bastard doesn’t bother you then join me for fun ride.

I remembered this ride from previous years, and was one of those who accused Tom of being... uh, mendacious, when he described the hills on this ride. That said, I still planned to ride it. Tom calls us his "Insane Bike Posse", but I think we're just too dumb to learn from our mistakes.

It IS hugely scenic; the stop (which comes early, about 20 miles into this 51-mile ride) is great; and I like the people who come out. So yes, I got up early to get to Frenchtown for the start (with the weather that threatened yesterday, Tom moved the ride to today). Unfortunately, I had a bit of gastro-intestinal distress which would not be avoided on the way there; I stopped at a Wawa to enjoy their plumbing, and was almost late. Laura OLPH, whom I frequently point out is one of the last of us to arrive at ride starts (although she is almost always on time), crowed when I pulled in as she was already unloading her car. Most of the others were already there (Tom, Jack H, Ricky); Robert N rolled in just after me.

And off we went. Now, there are certain things you can expect on one of Tom's rides, as regular readers will know. One of them is a bridge out. Tom led us to a bridge that was supposedly out, which had concrete barriers for four-wheeled traffic (and weeds of a size that indicated the barriers have been in place for years), but also had openings that would easily admit pedestrians and bicycles.

See those gaps? It's hardly worth dismounting, is it?

I didn't get pictures of the ride itself; I wasn't feeling 100% and I didn't want to hold up the group. But it was a glorious ride on a great day.

About 20 miles in, we stopped at this excellent stop, where they were all friendly (I'm a sucker for that). Even one of the customers asked if we wanted the big table (I didn't; I stand at rest stops; it helps me manage my worsening sciatica).

Tom promised us a brief stop at 40 miles if we needed it; I was pretty sure I would (I was right).

After that second stop, in an effort to save the traffic on a major thoroughfare, Tom took us down Quarry, which has a gravel surface. Tom said it looked OK on Google Maps. What I don't think he counted on was that in crosses Rapp Creek, which meant a downhill to the narrow bridge, then an uphill, both in  the gravel.

I couldn't do it. The wheels kept slipping. I'd gone over a few weeks ago in a gravel parking lot (then bruises are just clearing up), and it was just too scary. I walked the bike down and up: the second time I've done so this summer.

But you know what? I made it. I also made it through what Tom called the "Red Circle of Death", a section of Red Cliff Road that drops about 150' in about a half mile (Tom said it was steeper, but the ride page shows it's not).

After that, it was a quick ride back to Frenchtown... and for me, then, a leisurely drive to Lambertville to meet The Excellent Wife (TEW) for ice cream at O Wow Cow. She's taken a resentment that I get to Lambertville more often than she, that I go to O Wow Cow for ice cream when I do, and that I never fail to gloat over the fact that I got there and she didn't. So she insisted on meeting there today after the ride. Sometimes, the responsibilities of staying married are onerous indeed.

not impressed

Saw a number of these today:

I'm not impressed. I'd be more impressed if there were a sign next to any one decrying the racists in Charlottesville.

What it says to me is: If you're not a friend or a family member, if you're not a believer, if you're not a geographical neighbor*, if you're a citizen of another country... then the sign poster has nothing for you.

*As for "who is a neighbor", Jesus had something to say about that.

Saturday, August 12, 2017, after you, my dear gaston

They're not updating right now, but the authors of Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery have the whole archive up.

I ran across this one last night, and it speaks to my condition, as I used to say when I was a Quaker:

Original here.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

bike volunteer

The past two weekends, I've been volunteering my services: as a mechanic for the ZTrek ride, and managing the Robbinsville rest stop for the Princeton Freewheelers (PFW) 2017 bike event.

I'd seen the promo signs for the Ztrek ride ever since the Tour de Franklin (for which I was also volunteer mechanic), and, looking up the site, I found they had a neat idea for a mechanic: I could ride the routes in my car, stopping for cyclists in distress, and popping in at the rest stops or responding to calls in the cell. I could keep tools in the car, and use a trunk bike rack on the back of the car for a bikestand, so I signed up.

But I heard they didn't have ANY mechanic for sure; they'd contacted Bike 'N Gear (called "Deli Bicycles" by one of my associates, from their sign on Amwell Road; Bike 'N Gear shares a parking lot with a delicatessen), but Bike 'N Gear never gt back to 'em, so I was to be the mechanic. We figured I'd set up at the start at the Zarephath Church, from which the ride was to start, and then head to Veterans Park in Montgomery, which was to be their busiest rest stop.

It was a rainy morning, but, of course, the diehards were out.

And when I got there, the mechanic from Bike 'N Gear was setting up.

Well, he had the tent and the reputation; all I had was two pumps, a bike stand, and my tools and parts on a luggage hand truck. So after a while of being mostly ignored, I went to the park in Montgomery.

I didn't expect to be as busy as I was. There were a lot of underinflated tires, a few tubes to change, some shifters that needed adjustment, a brake that wouldn't brake, a brake that wouldn't release. One rider broke a cable, which I didn't have (won't make THAT mistake again), and a rider needed an O-ring for a tube valve extension for a carbon wheel that was deeper than your palm is wide (sorry; some parts are just TOO specialized for me to have in my kit).

I did about seven hours there. The next day, I went on this ride with Tom and Jack. I rode from home, wound up with over 70 miles, and the exhaustion after the day before didn't pass for the next two days.

Yesterday, I managed the Robbinsville rest stop for the PFW event. The club provides a lot of what we need, but experience has shown that the supplies need to be supplemented: they don't supply ice, for example, or chairs for the volunteers. We got hoses to fill the water coolers, but there's not a faucet to which to attach the hose in Robbinsville, so we needed to rig a fix. And there are a number of other things specific to the location to be addressed.

The day before, I took a couple hours off from work so I could get to Robbinsville to get the key to the stop (I've got to return it tomorrow). From there, I went to Andy C's house to get the car filled with supplies; on the way, I stopped for a few other things. When I got to Andy's, I saw that one of my team, Carol J, was there getting HER car filled up; then the rest of the stuff went in my Prius, including two cases of bananas, four bags of bagels, and thirty watermelons.

I had heard that Knapp's would not be there to provide bike maintenance services, so I had already had tools, my bike stand, two pumps, and supplies in the car, as well as a tray table, two chairs, and a 2'x3' cutting board. The car was running pretty low by the time I got home. (TEW had gone to Bergen and would drive direct to the stop to help.)

Don Sprague had run this stop for years, and I inherited it from him; I had a sign made up in his memory. I got to Robbinsville about 7 and started setting up, and soon Carol J was there with her supplies, and SAG driver Russ H brought the tables.

My team was TEW, Carol J, Rajesh, and Mindy and Jeff. I had Rajesh manage the liquids, and the others doing pretty much everything else, while I figured out routes, talked to riders, provided emotional support, and fixed bikes.

The Robbinsville stop was on every ride except the 70-mile-hilly (which was routed into the Sourlands) and on the 25- and 100-mile routes, riders stopped twice ( which was confusing to a few, and which resulted in jokes about time warps and the Groundhog Day movie). We expected a huge number of riders, but I don't think we got as many as expected; I think people were put off by the early rains. Still, there were people who came out. The fellow iin the picture below was our first, complaining about how his partners had dropped out.

All types of riders come out for the event. Some are ready, and ride all the time; some ride seldom; some have taken on more than they can handle. I think part of my job at the stop is being a cheerleader, psychologist, and confessor. There were families with kids, and groups of friends, and solo riders.

Above, some of the team take some exercise.

I loved this Outrider jersey:

The 100-mile riders stopped at Robbinsville twice: once at 70 miles, and again at 90. What I've learned from working this stop is this: as the hours get later, the riders coming in for their last stops NEED the stop. We cheated the closing time a little late so we could provide service to the riders coming in late, and SAG driver Russ stayed behind for a bit after I left for a last couple of stragglers (thanks, Russ; it was after 4pm by then; I'd been at the stop for 9 hours and I was wiped out).

This morning, TEW and I did this ride, and even with the short distance and slow pace, I'm done. I nodded out while I was writing this post. Tomorrow, back to Robbinsville after work to return the key.