Sunday, April 28, 2019

wrenching at the tour de franklin

One of the earliest charity rides of the season each year is the Franklin Township Food Bank Tour de Franklin. They offer distance rides 62 & 50 miles) for those who want them, but also family-friendly short rides, out of the Franklin High School and along the canal at Blackwells Mills.

I used to lead a team of Freewheelers on these rides, but the past three or four years I've manned a tune-up and repair station. I don't charge anything except parts (at cost, and I don't always get that), and I work on any bike that shows up, which means, for example, that I worked on carbon fiber bikes and carbon fiber wheels at one point today; at another point I was doing the adjustments on bikes bought at WalMart that weren't done by the store.

Oh, yeah. Since I'm planning to post this to Facebook, the first picture has to be attention-grabbing. This one's pretty good:

It's a team that came back in the drizzle at the end of my shift, at about 11:30 am. But I digress.

It's my contention that any mechanic can work on modern, high-end bikes where the standards are well-known (and reasonably well adhered-to); it takes a wise hand to work on those old beater toy bikes on which nothing was designed to work together and parts may no longer be available. So I am just inordinately proud of the fact , for example, that I was able to get six out of one guy's seven-gear cluster to respond to the shifterl when he came in, he could use three gears.

The riders who really know what they're doing rarely drop in except to borrow the pump (I keep two pumps going pretty much all day). My first customer had just bought this, and I adjusted his brakes and shifting and lubed up his (badlky rusted) chain:

The carbon bike belonging to the fellow below had few problems, but he wanted just to make sure stuff was working right. It mostly was.

I didn't get a picture because my hands were a mess afterwards, but one guy brought in his bike with tubeless tires. He'd heard a hiss in the car, and it turned out the tire had lost the bead of the wheel. I didn't have the specialty pump that seats the tire back in the bead again, so I put a tube into the slime-dripping wheel, bade him farewell, and went to the lavatory to wash my hands. Remind me that tubeless isn't an infallible technology if I ever start gettning cranky about tubes, OK?

I don't stay for lunch, but the rider feed is pretty good:

Yeah, bagels, but the careful eye will also be able to pick out hard-boiled eggs and orange quarters. The food team is below.

The weather was predicted to be just awful (worse than ti actually turned out), and the area around the entrance bore witness; there were many fewer bikes than previous years.

(The niftiest-lookin' ol' geezer was riding that Kestrel, above.)

I'm not volunteering at the Bike Exchange any more, so I decided to put up my own sign for Mad Horse Bikes, which will be the name of the bike business that I'll probably never have.

I doubt you can read it on the left sign, but the motto is, "A man in a passion rides a Mad Horse". I stole it from Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac from 1749. I'm presuming the motto is in the public domain by now. (The graphic is from a Creative Commons site; they say I can do with it what I want. So there.)

It's a lot of time on my feet, and I'm tired. But it's the right thing to do, and I get to play with some very nice bikes, and meet some very nice people whom I otherwise would not.Do you know any charities that want to hire a bike mechanic?

Saturday, April 27, 2019

perpetual headwind ride

What kind of person takes the bike out for 40+ miles when winds over 20mph, and gusts well over 30mph, are predicted?

Yeah well...

The Velominati rules (as I write this, the page barely opens) include Rule 5, "Harden the F--- Up", and Rule 9, "If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period." In the case of Rule 9, I've decided "bad weather" includes weather is which a sudden wind gust might drive you into the path of the oncoming garbage truck. So riding today definitely applies.

In the case of Rule 5, I'm adding Plain Jim's corollary: "Complaining and profanity do not lessen the efficacy of exercises that will result in improved meditations on Rule 5." The original language of the corollary used a different word in the place of "complaining". It starts with a "B". Use your imagination.

Laura OLPH is, of course, Our Lady of Perpetual Headwinds, so OF COURSE we were gonna do a ride in all this. She picked a route that would have us riding mostly into the wind on the way out, so that we could rely on tailwinds on the way back. Smart woman.

We met at The Pig (see this post for why Sourland Coffee will always be The Pig for me). The only other at that start was David S; Laura and Ricky G rolled in from Laura's house (I didn't do the extra miles; I didn't want to have to call an Uber if I couldn't make it all the way back!).

(I just love Ricky's purple ride.)

We rolled out on a familiar route, and stopped to see an eagle's nest in Pennington. No denizens were in evidence... but come on! An eagle's nest! In Pennington! Good heavens!

... and then took off into the Sourlands to find some hills and fight the wind.

We got to the top of Mt Airy, where we usually stop to see the cows, but none were in evidence today.

Laura made a reference to being "bereft of bovinity", for which she wins the internet for the day. Then on to Alexsauken Creek Road, or as I like to call it, fifteen minutes of vacation; it's that pretty*.

(*Other riders point out that their times on Alexsauken Creek Road are much faster than mine and put my performance there to shame. I do not dispute this, except that I point out that if one is blazing through Alexsauken Creek Road, one is missing one of the gifts of the universe. Perhaps some are too familiar with its charms, and suffer from the neglect that the proverbial familiarity breeds. But I digress**.)

(**I digress. Now THERE's a surprise.)

And over to Rojo's Coffee in Lambertville, where there were a number of other bikers. What kind of a person takes a bike out on a windy-ass day like this?

A familiar face! She's been in South America and Ireland. I feel so provincial.

And back. We chose routes with few hills and mostly tailwinds, and although my average was slow, I'm not crippled. I'm looking forward to wrenching at the Tour de Franklin tomorrow. Come on out and get a free tune-up if you sign up to ride.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

almost cancelled for rain that didn't come

My post for this ride read:
  • IF the weather allows (and it's not lookin' good as I post this), we'll do 45 miles from Six Mile/Blackwells Mills to Pennington and back, with a stop at one of my favorites, The Pig (Sourlands Coffee). The usual Plain Jim low-B pace. If you pre-register, and I cancel, you'll get an email warning. Just sayin'... 
In case it's not abundantly clear, I was SURE I was gonna have to cancel for rain, as I did for five of my listings last year. Right up until the night before, the three-or-four sources I use for weather were calling for rain right through the ride time, and even this morning, while the forecast had improved, it was still iffy...

But I decided to run the ride anyway. Laura OLPH emailed that she was planning to ride from home; Ricky G was signed up, and a rider who hadn't been out with me, Andy M, said he was coming. As I got to the star, I saw Ricky unpacking the car (normally he'd ride in, as would I, but neither of us wanted to risk having to do the extra miles in the rain), and Andy turned out to be someone with whom I'd ridden out of Cranbury a few times, two or three years ago; his recumbent bike is memorable.

Shortly after Laura rolled up, so did Andrew A, and then Rick W. So we were six, with two Ricks and two Andrews. What are the chances?

Now, this was a 45-mile ride, which is long for one of mine... but I was working yesterday and didn't get a ride in, and I REALLY wanted to try this route to Sourland Coffee (not Sourlands, as I wrote above). Laura's Hill Slugs have been there a few times, including once over the winter when the weather DID forbid a ride, and Laura, Ricky and his wife Cheryl, and I went in our civilian clothes and learned that we like one another even when there aren't pedals under our feet.

(It's good that I did check out the route. It uses a piece of a major thoroughfare, NJ 518, that's scheduled to be closed most of the riding season, so I had to adjust it, and I don't like the way it goes through Princeton, so I'm likely to adjust it again. This is not intuitive for a guy like me, who can get lost in a bathroom.)

Only a couple of major hills (for which Andy on the recumbent was glad; they are not ideal on hills), and we actually came in at an average over 15mph, which is rare on one of my Sunday rides.

I call it The Pig for reasons outlined in this post, but these pictures below should give you some idea:

...AND they have "blue pig specials" for kids. So when Laura saw the loyalty card, she decided I needed to have one:

Laura has her Hill Slugs; Tom H has the Insane Bike Posse; I call my regulars The Usual Suspects. Here we are enjoying artisanal caffeine-and-junk-food:

On the way back, Andrew A, Laura, and Rick W wheeled off as they were closer to home than the end point was, so Ricky G, Andy, and I got to the end and packed up the cars to go home. I'm still waiting for that rain for which I was all about cancelling this ride. I'm really glad I didn't.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

forgot my gps

I couldn't get out on a club ride yesterday due to a social conflict (fellow club member has a birthday with a 0 in the second spot and an uncomfortably large digit in the first). I took the Krakow Monster, my cyclocross bike, out on a ride that I wasn't sure if I was gonna do 20 or 30 miles, and had a flat at about mile 6. As I was fixing the flat, a group of Major Taylor riders came by and asked if I needed assistance. I said I didn't and they rolled on. A moment later, Dave H and someone rolled bay and asked if I was OK.

It's a shame a guy can't get any help out here, isn't it?

Well, I figured if I'd had a flat already, what were the chances of another? So I decided to do 30, and sure enough, at about mile 23 I had another... and due to the route I'd chosen, I was about a half mile from the place I'd had the first. And sure enough, the Major Taylor guys come by again, and asked, "Are you STILL here?"

Uh, no, I'm here AGAIN. I'm not sure which is worse.

So with a bit of trepidation I packed up the car for Tom H's flattish 50+ from Bordentown. It was enough trepidation that I forgot my GPS, and the ride page actually shows "Front Wheel" Ricky G's results, not mine. (I'm sure I was faster, and had more climbing than he did on the same route.)

I count on having the GPS for the mileage tracking I do for my maintenance log, and for the credit for my points on weight watchers (you probably haven't seen those posts). But it's been worked out.

When I got to the start, there were a lot of people there, but few that I recognized; it turns out that there were riders for a training ride for the Spellbound Brewing Century rides. But eight of us were out for Tom's ride: "Front Wheel" Ricky G, Laura OLPH, Joe M, and Chris, Ralph, and Joe rolled in.

Above, Laura showing off that finishing-school femininity again. She's an inspiration to us.

Below, pretty lugged steel bikes and their riders. I could never justify owning one; I'd be afraid to ride it.

It was a beautiful day; I can't imagine why we weren't inundated with club members coming out. Perhaps they didn't want to travel that far. It couldn't have been because of the elevation; this was a ride to rival the flatness out of Cranbury, and there were long, straight shots where we could spin out our energies.

Personally, I felt strong today (maybe because I wasn't looking at the GPS), and felt like I could have gone on all day. I only remember a few stops at crossings and lights, and one for Laura to take pictures.

We stopped at a Wawa that didn't have a toilet (some of our number wnet to a park across the road) and I got some pictures of the pretty bikes.

One of those might wind up as the background for the Freewheeler website for a while.

Ricky also took some vanity pictures of me that I can use for profile photos. Now I'm 20+lbs lighter, I'm willing to show it off a bit! (But I'll save you that ort of my egotism!)