Saturday, March 31, 2018

jelly beans, not chocolate bunnies

For years, Laura led a ride, sometime before Easter, that she called the Chocolate Bunny Ride; it had all the hills in the first half, and she'd give out chocolate bunnies at the end to the finishers. And then there were a series of mishaps, not least of which was my crash in 2015 (gory recovery pics here). Since then, she's had "Not the Chocolate Bunny Rides", which have, in the past, had chocolate bunnies anyway... but the routes were better.

For today, there were not chocolate bunnies; there were jelly beans. Perhaps she's trying to exorcise the last of the demons?

Maybe or maybe not. But I wanted this picture to be the first one in this post:

Lookit all that red and black! I think we look like the bicycle equivalent of the backup singers in a soul band (Laura and the Pips, maybe?. Laura insisted Ricky turn around to show off the red on the back of his jersey:

That one's reminiscent of an early-1970's album cover.

Anyway, she posted the ride earlier this week, and Andrew, Marco, Ricky and I came out (as you've already figured out, probably):

Laura wasn't that late; she'd stopped the same place I did for a bagel and the shop was busier than I expected.

Temps were in the 30's when we started and would be near 60 by the end of the ride; a certain amount of wardrobe adjustment was expected.

We were patient, mostly.

We stopped near this abandoned, now historical building, which is I don't know where, of course.

... and began the climb in the middle of the ride. It's not so clear from the ride page (or maybe it is), but almost all of the climb on this ride (except for a few minor annoyances)is in a fairly short band in the middle. Because the GPS screen is so narrow, the distance is compressed, but the elevation appears distended:

To me, it looks like an extended middle finger. Perhaps Laura was giving us one, planning such a hilly ride so early in the season.

Thence down Fox Hill, where there are two places where the vistas open:

...and which was far steeper than Laura and I remembered. Laura thinks it looks worse without the leaves on the trees. I think I need new brake pads.

On to the Oldwick General Store, where we did NOT see the crowds of cyclists at least one of us expected.

The other thing I remember about this ride is that we were mostly silent; perhaps we were dreading the climb (and then recovering from it).

Ah, well. Tomorrow to the Excellent Mother-In-Law's for Easter (the Polish Catholics will NOT have me escape Easter - Wielkanoc!). Glad I got this in; I expect I'll be carryin' some extra pounds on Monday.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

this is gonna sound rude

One of the webcomics I've started following is Maximumble. Here's today's offering:

...or you can see the original here.

(I should take the seated guy's advice. Just sayin'.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

fat cyclist jim

In other news, Chris (who led the Sunday ride) forwarded my this picture he took of me at a ride last month. In his sometimes-terse fashion, the email contained only the subject line "you" and the pic below:

I've saved it on my hard drive with the filename "fat cyclist jim.jpg" and I'm using it as motivation to lose a few pounds. Having to buy new pants didn't persuade me, but that gray jacket was hard to find, and I don't want to have to retire it after only one wearing.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

palm sunday ride

I didn't know if I should lead this post with the obscure historical marker Chris led us to on Route 130 in Robbinsville, risking our lives in traffic after bobbling around into the wind (so we'd maybe have a tailwind back):

...or the ride down Woods Road, where the few paved places only made the mud feel rougher:

(That dark part isn't wet; it's dirt, and THAT was at the end; the worst of it had gone before.) But I did see this cool barn.

I worked yesterday, and on Wednesday, when there was all that snow, I was off, as was The Excellent Wife (TEW). We spent the whole day doin' chores, because, well, there was all that snow. So I was EXCEPTIONALLY cranky about having to work yesterday, and TEW gently encouraged me (ahem!) to drive down to Allentown to catch Chris C's ride.

Chris leaves from Jimmy Bruno's bike-shop-cum-candy-emporium, and Jimmy makes sure he's open early enough for some conversation and so we can use his toilets.

His shop is one of the few that will work on toy-store bikes, and one of the things we chatted about was whether it was worth it to even try to fix these things. But he's got a few nifty old bikes he's working on.

And there was a nifty cruiser in the window (it's not retro if it's the original model, right?), that I ddn't get a picture of. It's worth the trip. (Spend a sawbuck when you get there; Jimmy's the nicest LBS owner in Central Jersey, and such kindness and community-spirit should be rewarded.)

Chris led (I didn't get a picture of him, but here's our bikes):

and the only other person who appeared was Laura OLPH:

Laura told us the wind was gonna be from the northeast, so we rode in that direction, hoping for a tailwind on the way back. You already know about risking our lives for a historical marker and bushwhacking our way along Woods Road.

Somewhere along the way, we got to "Potholes to the left of me, snow to the right," which got Laura and me onto the the old Stealer's Wheel song. Laura decided that "gravel to the right" made a better line:

Potholes to the left of me, gravel to the right
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you

Laura came up with a whole verse, which I hope she'll remember to put in HER blog post (there's a link a few paragraphs ago where I first mentioned her).

We stopped at a Wawa near Dutch Neck, where I met the most uncommunicative biker; he had on a tank top and tights, and when I mentioned I got cold just looking at him, he shrugged and returned his attention to his smartphone (or it may just be that a smartphone is better company than Plain Jim; it's a reality that I might have to face up to).

After the break, though, we were feeling colder, and decided to head straight back (ride page here; do you suppose I'm ever going to get back up into B-ride ranges again?). I hung out at Jimmy Bruno's for a bit (and spent a smidgen of cash), and when I got into the car, was greeted with hail, snow, and other precipitation. I'm glad it waited.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

better rubber band

My Garmin Touring GPS mount is held on by what look like beefy rubber bands, as is the Cateye Rapid X tail light I got to replace the benighted Knog. I got to thinking about those bands: what if they let go? The Cateye is particularly worrisome (Hrmph. You can tell the stuff I worry about!) because it has to be removed each time the light is charged (which is every ride, for me).

Regular office rubber bands aren't strong enough. The replacements are available, and not TOO expensive (for the Cateye; more expensive - as might be expected - for Garmin products; and then you'd have to pay they shipping as well, or have the local bike shop get 'em). But they're just rubber bands. I doubt they're made special for bike products; the market is too small, and it would be more sensible to re-purpose a standard product. So what are they?

I turns out they're O-rings, used in all manner of applications; the ones Garmin uses are made of  a material with the euphonious and appetizing moniker Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, more popularly referred to by the common graffiti-tag, EPDM. They're usually sold to manufacturers in minimum orders of a gajillion, but it turns out that if you know the size, and have a little patience, you can find 'em in small quantities.

There's still a minimum order and shipping, though. Probably better to support the local bike shop. But I tend to use products long after manufacturers have discontinued them, so I like to know what my options are.

I'm probably just out of my mind. Do you think?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

too hilly for a flat ride

When I pulled up next to Tom's short pickup, he complained, "How come every time I come out on one of your rides, it's the coldest %$#&ing day of the year?"

It WAS cold; cold enough that I didn't get any pictures at the start.

And what was I doing leading a ride on a Saturday, anyway? Well, it's like this: Thursday evening came, and when I saw that the only rides on the Freewheeler calendar were either too fast, or slow and not long enough, I sent an email out to The Usual Suspects asking if anybody had anything planned. Laura OLPH had nothing planned; she's been so busy at work that she hadn't put anything up. So I dusted off a 40-with-a-break that I'd done a few months ago and posted it. Tom then said he'd had another route planned... but agreed to come on my ride this time; he'll post that ride another time.

So when I got to the start at Six Mile/Blackwells Mills, Tom and Laura were there, as was Ricky G and Jack H. Andrew A rolled in just before the start; we were six.

Laura told me about her busyness at work; she thought she had been able to lose the responsibility as chief mouse wrangler in her lab, but the folks who had picked up the task weren't up to continuing it, so there she was (in addition to all her other responsibilities), acting as mouse-whisperer, or something (I'm still not completely clear on it). She doesn't like that part, so it must be extra difficult to have to do all that fixup work on it.

The route starts with a brief stretch on Amwell; I had a crash on Amwell a few years ago, and every now and then I like to tempt fate and go back on it (but not near the crash site; I have micro-PTSD about that). Then out across Hillsborough (fighting the headwind; a few hills on Homestead; too much traffic on Auten), and then to East Mountain, where we skirt the Sourlands.

There's no place for a break, though, until we get back to the bagel place in Rocky Hill at 518 & 206. (Apologies for the pretty-much-awful pics.)

Andrew left to head for home; the rest of us continued along this route (which includes my rides to and from home). I completely missed the boat on the elevation; I thought the big hill was that one on East Mountain at about mile 22, but there's Mt Lucas (at mile 33), Snowden Lane (mile 36 or so), and the short-but-annoying climb into Kingston at about 37.5.

From there, though, it was a straight shot back up Canal Road to the start. Rather than turning off to go home, I saw the folks back the the cars, then rode the five miles back to home at a pace that might more aptly be described as "regal" rather than "sprightly."

For tomorrow: probable short ride; it's still gonna be cold, and more wind.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ride for 3/17

I know it's short notice, but I've listed a ride for St Patrick's Day. Probable route here. Come out if you can; I'd be glad to see you. Princeton Freewheeler Club ride, of course.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

more than i should have done

When I met the rest of the group at the top of Mount Rose, about 11 miles into my ride and 7 for the folks who had started at Twin Pines, the two who had fallen off the back of the group weren't with me. Laura OLPH asked what had happened to them. "They couldn't keep up, so I ate 'em," I responded.

It's a sweep's duty to take care of the people in the back.

Aside from the eleven-or-so regular readers I have, people might not know that I was stricken with bronchitis in January that laid me low for weeks. None of you probably know that on Tuesday last, I was surprised by tremor, chills, and a fever of 100.6. So agreeing, not only to go on Laura's just-under-50-miler today, but to add miles to and from her house, might not have been the better part of valor, especially in view of the high winds expected. Still, when I got to Laura's, there were Ricky G and Linda.

We rolled over to Twin Pines to pick up the rest of the crew.

After I'd Donner-Partied the laggards, we were eight.

Laura figured we'd have a headwind the whole way in and we could hope for a tailwind on the way back. We got both, but the tailwind didn't help the poor showing I put in, my average for this ride was 13.2 on the GPS, and 13.5 on the RideWithGPS page, and I suspect the reason it's higher at RideWithGPS is that I'm a paying member there; making me feel like I'm faster than I am may be one of the perquisites of the paid subscription.

At Wertsville, Laura wanted pictures of the barn, so I got pictures of her and the rest of the gang. (I'm lost all the time; the only reason I know where we were is that I could read the road sign in the picture when I blew it up.)

Laura had described the ride, not as hilly, but as "rollers," rolling hills where the momentum gained on the downhill helps one over the subsequent uphill.  I don't think the hills on Hopewell-Wertsville into Rileyville, or Saddle Shop/Orchard/Snydertown, count as rollers. Laura blamed our difficulty on the headwind. Piffle. I think she was channelling Tom H of the "Lying Bastard Ride." She says otherwise. (If you DO consider these these hills "rollers", please let me know what rides you go on, so I can avoid delaying you and embarrassing myself.)

We stopped at Factory Fuel in Flemington. It was mildly disappointing. The coffee and food were as good as they always are... but this time there were none of the florid tattoos, ear gauges, nose rings, and other body art I have come to associate with the place. The staff today would not have been out of place in a library.

It really is a delightful place, but the routes in and out are traffic-y; we have to pick the times we go there.

Bike pics:

An unexpected benefit: a social worker with whom I had worked in the 90's had a card up in Factory Fuel; he sets himself out as, of all things, a medium:

I was tired when we got on the bikes to come back, and got more tired, despite the tailwind, as we proceeded. I should not have added the miles from Laura's, and I was glad (and mildly surprised) that I made it back to the car in as good form as I did. One of the other riders asked how I was, and when I told him I was tired, I think he was glad that he was not the only one.

Still: I'm glad I got out; I'm glad to see as many of my bike-y friends as I did; I'm glad I finished. On a different day, with less wind and better legs, this would have been a sweet ride. Now it's time for recuperation.

Hope to see youse soon.