Saturday, November 30, 2019

widdershins to sergeantsville

Regular readers may know that my excellent mother-in-law had a stroke a couple of weeks ago. Partly as a result of that, Thanksgiving was chaotic (to say the least), so when Laura OLPH posted a ride for today, I wanted to go, and The Excellent Wife (TEW) made it pretty clear that she was, at least, supportive. (She may have been grateful, in hopes that I'd get some of the crankiness out of my head.)

Laura didn't post a route, but said that she was planning to take a counter-clockwise route to Sergeantsville, which sounded good to me.

Now, "deosil" is an old Scots word that means to travel in the direction of the sun, or clockwise in the northern hemisphere; the opposite is "widdershins", so we were taking a widdershins route. There was an old Northern English and Scots tradition that walking around a church widdershins was at least unlucky, and might actually call up the Devil himself.

But that was not our experience today, except at one point in a minor way.

Ricky and I met Len outside Laura's to get in a few extra miles.

And then we headed over to the Pig, where we met the rest of the crew: Racer Pete, John K, Chris C, Peter G, and Ron, riding yet another in his stable of beautiful old bikes, this one a Raleigh from the 80's with Campagnolo components.

Off we went. Now, this direction is the opposite of the one we usually use to get to Sergeantsville, and it's better in almost every way. First of all, it seems like the hills are gentler than in the other direction. And secondly, we spent a few miles on Yard Road, between 579 and Sandbrook Headquarters Road. Yard Road is one lane, mostly; passing farms and small houses. I thought it was beautiful, and if the group had been willing to stop, I'd have yonks of pictures (if we go when the weather is nicer, perhaps I will, but it was cold today). Laura, consider this a hint: I like Yard Road. It's not that River Road we do by the railroad tracks up north, which is one of my favorites; it's not Alexsauken Creek Road, which I think of as fifteen minutes of vacation, but it's pretty and I won't complain if we go back.

Now if you go to Sergeantsville, you probably stop at the general store... but there's a place with bagels that Laura likes next to the Delaware Township Fire Department. It's named Bagel Barn, and it was worth foregoing the general store.

I got the picture of John, above, and he insisted I take another with the diabetes logo on his jersey legible. Herewith:

I got a couple of pictures of Ron's gorgeous Raleigh, but they don't do it justice:

And back. By this time, the weather had warmed up a bit. We came down Sandy Ridge-Mt Airy, then climbed up to the farm at Mt Airy, then down again and up to Rock Road.

When we turned onto 579, the bad luck of widdershins caught up to us: about every car in the county was out for Thanksgiving Saturday. With no shoulder and oncoming traffic, the cars did what they could to get around us, some with better humor than others. It seemed we were on that road for hours; I was grateful when we turned onto 623.

And back after that. We returned to the Pig, where a few of us had coffee and junk before heading out.

Re: that last picture: Laura didn't want pictures of her unless she was on the bike. That's her arm encroaching from the left. Perhaps she is rethinking her decision.

Ride page.

It looks like rain for tomorrow, so probably mostly chores and maybe some bike maintenance (I got a new Selle Anatomica R2 saddle, which I don't think I like; I'll probably swap it back out for the older one, among other things). So while Thanksgiving itself was difficult, I'm grateful I got this ride in today.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

not without incident

Tom H wasn't up for a B-paced ride this weekend, so he emailed a number of his Insane Bike Posse (most of us are also number among Laura OLPH's Hill Slugs, and the Usual Suspects who come along on my rides) suggesting we go on Tru Tran's C+ ride. A few of us changed plans to go along.

Because of my mother-in-law's condition, I was grateful for the invitation and the fellowship.

I got to the start early, and found Barry...

...but I was extra early, and wanted to put a few miles in, partly because I'd made some adjustments and modifications to the Yellow Maserati (maybe I'll write about those in another post). When I got back, others had shown up to the start.

We hadn't gone a mile when one of us, fiddling with his bike GPS, ran int a car side mirror and went down.

He wasn't badly hurt, but his front wheel may not recover (and nor, apparently, will the car's mirror). The driver of the car was very kind; they exchanged information, and the rider limped back to the start, while the rest of us continued. It was probably a bad start to that rider's winter.

On we went on a circuitous route from Cranbury to Princeton Junction. If you look at the ride page, you'll see that twenty-three miles in, we took a left onto Cranbury Neck Road, a point at which we could have arrived in about four miles if we'd ridden directly. (But, of course, these rides are hardly about riding directly. We would have lost out on the miles and the fellowship had we gone straight there!)

Shortly thereafter, I came up with a flat in the rear tire. When I examined the wheel, I found a piece of glass not quite big enough to be one of the projects that Laura is working on. I found it when it sliced shallow gashes in two of my fingertips as I examined the tire. (I have bandaids on those fingers as I'm typing this, and the usually-sluggish speed of my typing has now devolved to a glacial pace.)

I fixed the flat (with the gang looking on, but not insisting on helping, which is unusual for a FreeWheelers tire change), and we got going to the stop at the Dunkin Donuts in Princeton Junction.

I got pictures of a few of the bikes (well, DUH!).

Below, Steve S's handlebar. I think he needs to carry more stuff.

And back. On the way back, Steve S dropped ff the ride for a bit; it turned out he'd found something on the road he wanted to pick up.

Shortly thereafter, we got split; Tru was falling back to keep an eye on one of the riders. He'd bonked, and didn't want to go on. We loaded him up with Gatorade and got him to a location where he could be more easily found by the ride he was calling to pick him up.

After that, I said to Tom that I was definitely going to go on Tru's rides: everything that could have happened on one of Tru's rides, already had that day, so Tru would probably be the safest leader in the club from now on.

Tom, with a degree in engineering, said, "Statistics don't work like that."

I said, "They do for an English major."

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

mother in law - stroke

My excellent mother-in-law had a stroke over the weekend. She's lost speech and has limited mobility on one side.

It's a difficult time. My wife is taking tome off from work to visit and take care of things; I'm trying to be helpful, but mostly trying to be supportive and not in the way.

I don't believe in prayer, but I will be grateful for you good thoughts and support.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

cranksgiving 2019

Don't you want to know a guy who will strap a turkey to his helmet and go ride a bike like that?

Today was the Princeton Cranksgiving ride; riders go around a route and stop at grocery stores, and buy stuff for local food kitchens. There's no cost to riders other than the food: the volunteers set a route, mark it, have people at the stores to take the groceries you buy (so you haven't gotta schlep them on a bike with no carrying capacity), and act grateful for something that we probably would have done anyway.

Except for the fact that it was so cold and windy, it's a great day.

The folks offer a 12- and a 22-mile route. I had hoped to start in Cranbury, adding about 15 miles to the 22-mile route... but cold weather and an upper respiratory infection (mostly gone, as I write this) suggested it would be smarter to just begin at the Cranksgiving start. (Steve S decided to take over the ride from, and back to, Cranbury, and had a taker. So there's that.)

We started at the Lifetime Fitness in Plainsboro/Princeton. I'm surprised they let the likes of me stand on their front stoop, the place is that upscale.

That's Vern H, above, in the red jacket. I haven't seen him in years; we caught up for a bit.


Above and below: Ralph and Joe.

Above, Ron S, whom I haven't seen in years, either; I persuaded him (and Jackie, who was also along) to come out with us. There was also a Monica (of whom I don't think I got a picture), who allowed us to embattle her with persuasions about why she ought to join the Freewheelers.

We rode to McCaffrey's in West Windsor first, where I spent a smidge more money than I'd thought to, but got some groceries and toothbrushes. There's a certain amount of silliness among the riders, as well as some conspiratorial whispers about where to find stuff in an unfamiliar market, whenever we go out on this ride.

From there. to the Trader Joe's on Route 1. I'm sure I'd never find it again, but there IS a way to get to that store, without actually venturing onto Route 1.

Above, ride volunteers. They seem so grateful to us... while they are the ones standing and shivering in the cold, waiting for us to drop off groceries!

As we were departing the Trader Joe's, Monica broke a chain. She was about to call for a ride... but we got out tools and split off the broken link. Ron had an extra link, but I messed that up and couldn't fix it, so I had to cut that one out and use one of my own extra links. Monica was impressed that we were able to do such a roadside repair (and upset with the shop that had recently told her there was nothing wrong with the bike!).

And then, back. We must have had a tailwind for much of the way out, because we faced stiff headwinds on the way back. Several of us traded pulls on the way back.

Above, Anna D', founder of the feast. Below, the team.

They DID let me into the Lifetime Fitness to wash the chain grease off my hands. So there's some magnanimity there. (But I still don't think I could afford any of their services!)

Ride page.

This goes almost every year. You oughta get out your woolies and come out next time!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

cranksgiving princeton ride

Go see the Cranksgiving Princeton Facebook page. The way it works is this: riders do a route (either 12 or 22 miles, this year), stopping at designated stores along the way. We stop in and buy groceries (we get lists...), and either carry them with us, or give them to volunteers at each store (cost per rider is about $15 this year), and the food goes to local food pantries.

There was no Cranksgiving last year, but I've led the previous two years, and here's how it works: some of us start at the Village Park in Cranbury. We'll leave at 9:30 am, and go about eight miles to the Cranksgiving gathering place (at a C+ish pace; we'll get to the gathering place at about 10am or so). Folks who didn't want to do the whole ride from Cranbury can join us there. We'll do the 22-mile route, stopping at the stores and buying the groceries (we do this at no predictable pace; the nature of the route and the event don't support a steady pace). The route goes back to the Cranksgiving gathering place, where the short-riders can depart; the rest of us will return to Cranbury with the joy of giving suffusing our hearts, and chills in our fingers and toes.

So either start from the Cranbury Village Park at 9:30, or from the Lifetime Athletic, 7 Forrestal Road South, at 10 or so. Dress warm, and bring cash!

Edit 11/16 5:43am: It's gonna be too cold for the longer ride, and I'm getting over a cold myself. Let's just do the 22-mil route. Meet me at Forrestal Road South at 10 on Saturday.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

traded sunday

I haven't led one of my Sunday rides in a month... but Tom H said it was gonna be too cold for him to lead yesterday (and it was), and wanted to do 40+ miles today, and I didn't really have a plan, so I agreed to let him lead (because many of the same folks would want to do both rides).

Well, we got the folks that would go on both rides, as well as others - we wound up with twelve, and I'm sure I couldn't remember all of 'em. We left from Mercer East.

As we started pedaling out,I felt a sharp pain in my chest that made it hard to breathe. For a moment, I was sure I was having a heart attack... until I remembered that I don't keep my heart on the right side of my chest. And sure enough, within a short distance, the pain dissipated, along with my unwarranted panic.

To celebrate the fact that mortality wasn't taking me right at that moment, I got a few pictures.

We stopped at one of my favorite places that isn't the Pig: Charleston Coffee (they use their Facebook page as their web page, and I refuse to participate in such foolishness). It's attached to a bagel shop, so there's all kinds of wonderfulness, and if I ever plot a ride through that area, I'll be sure to stop there.

Presuming I can find it.

We came back at a pretty good clip: even though the ride page says my average was 15.0mph, there were places where we were cruising at over 20.

Tom, Ralph, Joe, and Laura turned off before the end; the rest of us went back to the lot at Mercer East. Bob N and I were discussing why one of the sites we use sows such disparate results about effort on this ride; I got almost twice the credit he does... and I'm not twice as fast. It's one of those vagaries of the life digital.

But I gotta get back to Blackwells Mills on Sundays.