Sunday, April 22, 2018

weekend rides

Long, hilly, early-in-the-season

I probably should have known better than to add the extra miles onto Laura OLPH's ride yesterday. I probably should have realized that 54 hilly miles, this early in the season, given the way I've been riding (and the illness over the winter, and the back pain) should have been enough; I didn't need 20 more.

I'm an idiot.

Ricky G came out to Laura's for the extra miles, as well, and we rode the ten-or-so miles to the start at the Hopewell school.

So we were eight: Jack A, Tom H, Peter G, Robert N, and Andrew A made up the rest of the group.

Laura gave the usual speech, and warned us of two hills: one on the way into Frenchtown, and one on the way out. the one on the way in was where 579 becomes Croton Rd, just above Sergeantsville Rd.

It's not long, but I had a hard time keeping my front wheel down, and the hill was, shall we say, challenging, in the way that a ninth-grader can be challenging. We can not do that again soon.

On we went to the Bridge Cafe in Frenchtown, were we saw this unprecedented display of canine cooperation:

It was a pleasant interlude in these contentious times.

It was a great day, and lots of folks were out.

On teh way back, we went over Horseshoe Bend Road. We can not do that one again soon, too. Check the ride page.

I did fine on the way back until we dropped the rest of the folks off at the Hopewell school. But about two miles after that, I hit a wall; the last eight miles or so pretty much consisted of my falling behind Laura and Ricky, their politely waiting for me to catch up, my pedaling past so as not to lose momentum, their passing me as I started to flag again; repeat ad libitum.

Hot date with my wife

So today, when I heard that The Excellent Wife (TEW) was planning on a ride this morning, I figured I could keep up with her, and this would be my recovery ride. I usually ride faster and longer than she, so I thought trailing along on her 35-mile route would make a good recovery ride. SHE thought I'd be raring to go, champing at the bit, and bored wth her slow pace. I assure you, that wasn't the case either.

We got to the start at Blackwells Mills to see that the mountain bike contingent was out in force.

TEW's route includes some hills and some flats; she does a loop to get some distance; she heads down to Kingston for some refreshment, then usually up to Millstone and back. We went down Butler Road a couple times, and she was sure I was holding back so that I wouldn't be too far ahead of her. Honesty and humility demand that I indicate here that that was not the case.

WE headed down to Kingston the the PJ's that took over the site of the old Main St Cafe (de mortuis...), and saw, as we had seen on the road, that lots of people were out today.

Despite refreshment at PJ's, we decided we'd had enough, and did NOT return to Amwell Road to add miles on the last bit, but stopped at the car, as you can see on the ride page. We DID return to PJ's for more sustenance later in the day. It's not the old Main Street Cafe, but it was good enough.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

gotta get to nixon's

Look: we've had winter around here for about fourteen months. We get one day when the temps are gonna be in the 80's. You KNOW a bunch of us will be goin' on a ride, and it will probably be a long one.

The new Freewheeler online calendar has one downside: with the ability to post rides right up to the time you want to leave, it's hard to make plans on Tuesday for Saturday's ride, because the ride you want to go on might not be posted yet. I didn't see Tom H's Pinelands ride for today until Thursday night. And I grumbled a bit about having to drive all the way to Bordentown, but Tom knows I'm never happy unless I'm complaining.

Laura OLPH was off blowing glass (while I miss her company, she needs to do more glass blowing; it's WAY cool), and only six of us showed for Tom's ride (where were all of youse?): Joe M, Chris C, Ricky G, and Jack H came out.

That's Joe's bike. How did I not get a picture of Joe?

Tom promised 60 miles, and said we'd be headed to Nixon's in Tabernacle, because if you're goin' that way, you're either stopping at Nixon's or you're stopping at one of the Wawa's on 206; there aren't a lot of other options. If you check out the ride page, you'll see we did pretty much that: straight to Nixon's, and straight back.

Well, not quite. Because, you see, when we got to Smithville...

Of COURSE the bridge was out...

...but we're going to try it anyway...

...and when it's impassable, we gotta come back...

...and go across the pedestrian bridge in the adjacent Smithville Park...

...where the road was ALSO closed, but the gap in the fence was wide enough to get through.

And so down to Nixon's, where lot's of people apparently had the same idea.

There's Joe!

I had to get that picture of the tree above. Evidently, it's been spring someplace, even if it hasn't been around me.

And back we came, until we turned onto...

I think this was Philo's Bridge Road, where the pavement looked like this for a few yards:

...until the pavement disappeared completely and we were riding on dirt.

Tom calls us his "Insane Bike Posse", because he says we KNOW this kind of stuff is likely to happen, and we come out anyway.

After recovering from that, I needed a drink. So I took out my Polar bottle with the new sport cap, and pulled the nozzle with my teeth, whereupon it separated from the bottle and leapt from my teeth. I went to try to find it, but I was unsuccessful. I went to ring my bike bell, and the clapper jumped off, evidently to elope with the now-missing nozzle. It was quite an eventful two-hundred feet or so of biking.

One of these things is not like the other.

When I did my ride in January, I wasn't sure I was ever going to be able to do a ride like today's again. Even last week's ride, while good, was quiet; there was little conversation (at least as I remember). Today's ride, though, had the camaraderie that is a big reason I stay with the club. It was a great ride on a great day. I hope you had a good day, too.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

late winter in april ride

Tom H's post about the ride read:
  • Yea I know it is official spring but it still feels like winter.
...and it has felt like winter, with all the cold and wind. One of my coworkers asked if we should put out an APB on Spring.

Enough of us have had enough of winter, though, that thirteen came out for Tom's ride. I got there early, then Joe M rolled in, then a new guy John whom I just met (but he'd been out with Chris C and Laura OLPH the previous week)... and then either driving or pedaling, people just kept arriving.

(I just wanted that one to be the first picture in the post.)

With a group that big, Tom hired me to sweep. We had a quick discussion about who the ride canary was going to be. (The canary in the coalmine is a sign of the presence of coal gas, because the canary dies before the miners do. The ride canary is the one who doesn't keep up or has other problems, and is the first sign that things might not be going ideally.)

The group were nominally B riders, but abilities were all over the map; we split into fast groups and slow groups, and at several points there was probably a half mile between the one at the head of the pack and me in the back. Slow riders aren't always ride canaries, though; some of those folks can put in that pace for six hours without flagging.

The route wasn't particularly demanding, but the headwinds were. The new guy, John, is a chopper pilot; I asked him how we could turn 90° and still have a headwind, and he actually had a useful answer (serves me right for trying to be a wiseass).

Tom promised us little traffic on a Sunday morning, and wide shoulders on roads that would be new to most of us. Now, Tom has been known to engage in mendacity about things like elevation when he knows the routes; when the roads are new, his reliability is even more suspect. And while the traffic wasn't mostly bad (there was one point at which, I'm sure, we caught the congregation being released from an earlier service), the wide shoulders were not as promised (or at least, not as frequent as I had been led to believe).

The group kept pretty good order, though, especially for a group that doesn't ride together much (like, ever), and for it being this early in the season. We got to some Wawa or other and we were still all together.

The stop was about 32 miles into this 45 mile ride, and on the way back, we fell into the "macho mile" riding about which Laura sometimes complains: the riders know the way back, and make little pretense of riding together. I was sweeping, so I stayed with the folks in the back and made sure we didn't lose anybody... and by the time I left the lot in Cranbury, I was the last one out.

Ride page.

I'll be grateful for some warmer weather, though.