Sunday, November 25, 2018


Driving home from work on Wednesday night, I hit a deer; it came bounding from the left and took out the grill and right quarter panel or the black Prius. I haven't been back to that section of Route 27 between North Brunswick and Franklin to see if there's a venison feast for the flies and vultures... I'm rather hoping that the damn thing lives six more weeks in agony and is finally ritually disassembled by a pack of feral canines.

I've got well over $10,000 worth of damage, and the estimate says I might get it back around mid-December. I was initially afraid that the insurance company would declare it a total loss, but even with almost 6,000 miles on it, Kelley Blue Book lists it at about $18,000 actual cash value. I didn't initially see how bad it was, because I drove it home in the dark, but in the cold light of Thanksgiving morning, it was clear that the whole front of the car had damage. We limped it over to Dennis and Don's, our reliable body shop. The Excellent Wife (TEW) has had work done there before, and assures me that I won't notice a difference when I get it back. Hrmph. I'll know it's different.

Because of the holiday weekend, getting a rental took a bit of doing; I initially had a choice of an expensive pickup or a more expensive SUV, but the rental agent fellow took pity on me, and by midday Saturday had me in a Ford Focus that's only a few bucks a day more than the insuror is offering for rental reimbursement.

So while we got to the in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner, I was mostly stuck idle until today, when I got out for a few chores in the Focus. I hate it because it's not my car, it's different, and it's costing me money. It took a while to figure out how to turn the headlights on, and the radio doesn't shut off when you shut off the engine and remove the key. The gas cap is on the wrong side. The parking brake is on a lever rather than a pedal.

No, you don't get any damn pictures. I don't want to remember my Prius looking like that.

I just want it back. 

Friday, November 23, 2018


My twenty-something niece, as the tribes were gathered for Thanksgiving yesterday, referred to some of her aging Floridian neighbors as "geri's". It's obviously from "geriatric", and just as obviously derogatory; when I asked if I (at 63) qualified as a geri, she said, "Maybe at 70".

I just love it. Urban Dictionary lists it, but at this writing it's down about sixth in ranking (OTOH, number one is obviously a vanity post, so the ranking system may not be ideal).

I intend to be a real, pain-in-the-ass geri to every damn millennial and Gen-Xer I meet. Get off my damn lawn!

(Actually, with all the talk, even among some of the millennials at dinner yesterday, I may be the only one in the family with hope for the future. Texting, Snapchat, Instagram, and the like included, the kids are all right. They will work out their lives, just as every generation does.)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

last-minute listing

One of the advantages of the online ride listings on the website is that when we have a traffic-choking snowstorm on Thursday, and I don't want to list a ride for Sunday until I can see what the roads look like on Tom H's ride on Saturday, I can do that, and then email a few folks and see if they show up.

Which Chris, Laura, and Ricky did.

What I hadn't planned on when I got to the start at Blackwells Mills was that there would be a canoe race.

I saw license plates from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. There was a carbon-fiber single-person canoe (of which I didn't get a picture), and those women with the orange canoe above took the title for their four-person-team division. They tried to act humble when they pointed out that they were the only team in the division to appear... but I say, if you're willing to get into a canoe where the gunwales are inches above the waterline on a day that didn't get north of 44°F, you deserve the damn title.

The next time somebody says you're crazy for taking the bike out in the weather, tell 'em about these canoeists.

Below, pictures of comparatively sane bicyclists preparing for 36 miles on a grey day:

Both the Griggstown Causeway and the causeway at Blackwells Mills were closed due to flooding. I went to investigate the flooding at Blackwells Mills, and i wasn't bad; I figured the causeway would be open by the time we wanted to go through on the way back. In the meantime, we went down to Rocky Hill and then Princeton, then climbed up to Hopewell for a quick cuppa at the Boro Bean (but you might know that from that lead picture).

A little condensation on the lens on that one above. My glasses were a lot worse.

Chris came out to a flat in his tubular tire, and gave us a lesson in changing tubulars in cold weather. No thanks; I'll stick to my clinchers.

Now: you remember that causeway that was supposed to be reopened at Blackwells Mills? It wasn't reopened. But, taking a leaf from Tom H (and Laura OLPH, if the truth be told),we just went under the gate.

We got back as the canoeists were packing up (but I guess you know that part). The mountain bikers were out today, too. this guy looks like he had fun:

He's got a chore to do alter, do you think?

Ride page. This time, we almost actually made a B pace!

In other news, just because I want to record it:
  • On the advice of someone who'd been watching me ride, I lowered the saddle a couple of millimeters to keep my hips from rocking. I haven't been satisfied with it, and before today's ride, I raised the saddle back to where it had been. I think that's where I want to keep it; my knees are complaining a LOT less.
  • I've been avoiding caffeine because my anxiety was out of control for a while. The anxiety is somewhat better managed, and I had regular coffee today, both before the start and at the break. I think it helped with riding. And I'm not feeling too crazy, so I'm going to try regular coffee on ride days.
I'm still too heavy, though; need to lose some tonnage.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

tom's fairly flat ride

Can you believe, after Thursday's snow and traffic snarls, that I was looking for a ride to do two days later?

Neither could most of the folks I work with. But Tom H posted for a fairly flat 45-50 miles at a pace I could manage, and it sounded just the thing.

It must have sounded good to a number of folks: we had Joe M, Chris C, Laura OLPH, Jack H, Bob N, and two Peters (Peter G and Peter R, whom we've christened "Racer Pete" because two people with the same name confuse us, and because we're not too imaginative).

Rock those non-canonical bright tights, there, Chris!

Laura's dotted tights make me think of Wonder Bread gone punk (Oooh! On black!).

We started at the Muschal school and headed into usual territory. There were stops for pictures.

At Brown's Mills, we added a mile or two by circumnavigating the lake. It's the appendix-looking thing at lower right on the ride page.

Brief stop at the Wawa in Pemberton...

... where I got some bike pics:

Above, Racer Pete's beautifully-restored Cinelli.

Above is Joe's Soma. I was taken by his cockpit...

... and then by Laura's...

... and then by Chris's. He might need to hire me to re-wrap his bars. Or maybe not.

I guess the roads are clear enough. I'll lead a ride tomorrow.

Plain Jim's Last-Minute Listing Slow B

After the traffic on Thursday night, I didn't want to post a ride for Sunday until I saw what the roads were gonna be like. I'm just back from Tom H's ride, and we got through fine, so I'm posting this.

We'll do 36-or-so miles with a stop in Hopewell along this route. All the climbs are before the break, and we'll stop at either Boro Bean or Brick Farm Market, depending on my whim at the time.

Dress warm. Hope to see you, and sorry I posted this so late.

Link to listing on Princeton Freewheeler calendar.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

the usual suspects

Laura OLPH has her Hill Slugs; Tom H has his Insane Bike Posse. I've decided that the folks who come out regularly on rides with me are the Usual Suspects. And five of 'em - Ricky G, Joe M, Bob N, Peter G, and Tom, mentioned above - came out to do today's ride with me. (The attentive eye will note that there is considerable overlap among the groups: Slugs, Posse, and Suspects.)

It was my usual barely-B ride (some of us had been on the Columbia Trail yesterday). The first part was my common trip, up into Hillsborough, then down towards Skillman.

We had the usual stop at the bagelry in Princeton North.

That fellow in the Flyers jersey turned out to be a travel agent, a profession I thought had died with the advent of direct reservations, but he assured us that people come to him because if things go wrong, he can fix 'em.

Off we went to a tour of suburban Princeton, passing some houses that reminded some of us of riding around neighborhoods when we were kids, and other houses where we were sure we were causing a depression in property values just by riding though.

And then back to the start. On this part of the ride, the rest of the riders left me in their dust. I huffed up just in time to wave goodbye as some of 'em drove off.

The ride page includes my ride to and from the start from home.

I plan to keep doing these Sundays as long as weather and other commitments allow. I hope to see youse soon... and, if you're one of the Usual Suspects, I hope to see you again soon.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

columbia trail on a windy day

Laura OLPH decided it was going to be too windy for a road ride today, so she scheduled a ride on the Columbia. Fifteen miles out, fifteen back, on mountain bikes or hybrids; the trees would shelter us from the worst of the wind most of the way.

It sounded like a good idea to me, so I trimmed up the Krakow Monster, my hybrid/cross bike, and drove up to High Bridge for the 10:00 start. Being who I am, and not doing enough research on travel times, I was, of course, well over an hour early... but shortly thereafter up came Ricky and Andrew.

It was too cold to just hang around the lot, so we rolled down the hill for some coffee... and Andrew spotted Laura through the shop window, so we dolled back up the hill to start the ride, along with Peter G and Chris C.

Winnie the Pooh on Chris's bike, which he named Tigger because of the spring in the tail. I only know Winnie the Pooh from the book, so I had to have the reference explained to me.

(Laura's bike, of course.)

We rode out on the trail, which goes along the Ken Lockwood gorge. The pictures tell it better than I can.

Laura had plotted out a way to get down to Raritan River Road, at the bottom of the gorge, so we got closer to the water.

Laura warned us that part of the road was dirt. Part of it was also closed... if that's ever stopped us.

You can't see it in these pictures, but much of the road was barely wide enough for a single car. It's a good deal it was closed.

It goes under the Columbia Trail bridge.

I didn't know it at the time, but Chris, at the bottom, was talking to Jerry F. Either he got there late, or we left early, but we did catch up with him a bit further along.

As we passed Middle Valley Road, Laura reminded us of the time Tom had some riders take mountain bikes up the too-close-to-vertical climb there. I said, "Not doin' that again. I'm 63, I don't have to do that stuff." Jerry enjoyed the sentiment.

We did make it to the other end...

... and headed back, stopping at The Coffee Potter, a pleasant stop, but it would  likely be a hilly ride (other than this one) that made a stop there.

And then back...

... among more autumnal loveliness.

That bridge over the gorge that Jerry was calling down from has some great vistas.

... but you don't need to be on the bridge for that.

Near the site of that last picture, I met a guy who was letting himself down into the gorge. He was mounting cameras, protected inside aluminum soda cans, on trees in the area. It sounds like a great project.

The trail was wet, and there was enough muck on the bike that I thought it deserved a wipe. Below is the bucket afterwards; I'd say the wipe was a good idea.

I've eaten stews that were thinner than that filthy water.

Ride page. Don't believe the elevation numbers, nobody else even got half of that.