Thursday, January 20, 2022

joining the team


I stopped work before Thanksgiving, and officially retired December 1, 2021... but, given the weather, my early-retirement mishaps, and their schedule, I haven't been able to get out on a Team Social Security ride. So when I saw Joe M had one scheduled for yesterday, I signed up, even though I had no idea where Northern Community Park on Groveville Road was. Aren't they supposed to start from Allentown on Wednesdays?

Well, yeah, but... well, the toilets have been locked up in Allentown since about the start of the pandemic, and the toilets at this park are open. And when you're dealing with a number of people of the age of this team, toilet availability is A Consideration. This is an issue which has become of concern to me; we need not elaborate further.

Above: Andy A's Bianchi is so pretty.

With the predicted wind and cold, Joe had planned 31 miles with a short stop. The wind certainly came through; we had one of those rides where we could turn 90°, or more, and still be fighting a headwind (and "fighting" is the term to use; it was substantial. Laura OLPH says, "Y'know what riding into a headwind is good training for? Riding into a headwind").

This ride wasn't as fast as some of the TSS rides get, and I got a chance to chat with some of the guys (I hope to have more chances, as I ride with 'em more frequently, if this cold ever breaks). I was complaining what a failure I've been at retirement to Pete P, and he suggested I needed a hobby. I replied, " I've got one!", as I continued to pedal, but we agreed maybe I need a winter hobby.

We stopped in Columbus; you may have recognized from the building in the background in the picture at top.

(Hrmph. Abut half my pictures didn't come out: schmutz on the lens. I need to take better care of my gear.)

I had such a good time on this ride, that I decided to post something for the weekend, even though it's gonna be way colder. I need some #$%&ing rides, dammit.

Ride page.

Monday, January 17, 2022

the idle mind...

 Oh, my stars, but when it hasn't been too cold for me to ride recently (a number of the Hill Slugs have apparently done a trail ride), it's been too wet. I've been sitting home idle, trying to avoid being completely overwhelmed by self pity. 

I got to thinking about the organizer bags I use in my seatbag to manage my CO2 cartridges, multi-tool, and the like. I got about a dozen or so at a dollar store than has since gone belly-up, and I haven't seen the like elsewhere to replace them. They're zipper bags, about 5x7", with a layer of plastic on the fabric so they're at least nominally water-resistant... but the fabric is thin and wears out, and the zipper gives up at the slightest sign of overfill.

I've got this fabric that I used to make saddle covers (the plastic I got initially proved to be too thin, so I got some polyester canvas with a rubber coating). I got way too much, thinking that I'd need to make several saddle covers until I found a design that worked... and then I hit on an effective design on the first try. I've got two saddle covers, so if The Excellent Wife (TEW) and have both bikes on the car, we can protect both saddles (only mine is leather, but there you are).

I had to get a zipper for another project, and got a couple of blue-jeans zippers to play with for this (although I'd use heavy plastic zippers in future; the brass resists zipping on these bags). At first, I thought of a rectangular bag (bottom left, above)... but I got the corners wrong, and it turned out not to fit neatly in the seatbag I use (at top, above, the Topeak Large Aero Wedge; it's the biggest underseat bag I can find that doesn't require a separate frame and doesn't seem TOO stupid). The bag fits, of course... but it makes it hard to also fit in the two tubes and the VAR tire tools I like to carry.

Then I got the idea of making a bag that was the shape of the seatbag. I tried tracing the bottom, but that turned out to have too much "pinch" at the narrow end. Then I traced the side, and that worked better; you can see the bag at center bottom, above (bottom right is the pattern I traced). I can push it in to one side of the bag, and get the two tubes next to it.

It fits two CO2 cartridges, my "detonator", my Crank Brothers M-19 multi-tool, and my Lezyne aluminum tire levers. It doesn't fit the pill bottle full of a dozen-or-so quicklinks in 9- and 10-speed sizes (I know from experience that I can use a 10-speed link on an 11-speed chain), but that can sit in the narrow nose of the seatbag*. I figured the angled zipper on the side would give me easier access than a zipper on the end (and I was right). My two tubes, the VAR tools, a set of Allen wrenches, and some tire boots also fit in the seatbag (though not in the organizer).

*I have had to use these exactly twice in my decades of riding, but I make it a point of pride to have with me what I need to get you going again. There's probably not enough therapy in the world to fix me.

I need to think of another project; it doesn't look like the weather is improving soon.

Friday, January 14, 2022

glad to be back

 A couple of days ago, I posted about how I was looking forward to going back to the New Brunswick Bike Exchange.

My second night was last night. I'm so glad to be volunteering there. They've done a great job with it. I've got a project I'm working on.

Life is good.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

friend networks

 If your network of friends and acquaintances isn't growing, it's shrinking.

Some of the folks who said they wanted to keep in touch after my retirement... appear to be less interested now.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

qualifying for team social security, and new stuff to do

 My Social Security payments have started (and thanks to all of you who are still working and paying into the system). I'm an old man; it's official.

In other news, I started back at the New Brunswick Bike Exchange (although the Facebook page might actually be a more useful link) It's now led by Harv Moy, who was a student in one of my bike maintenance classes. He wants me to start doing the classes again. 

They have a corps of regular volunteers, and they're in a great location.  I'm very impressed with what they've become, and early indications suggest that it will be  good fit for me (if I can manage to avoid pissin' 'em off). The new volunteers I met were SO FRIENDLY, and treated me with a deference I'm sure I have not earned. I was working on a bike with a trashed bottom bracket, and showed off the ground-up ball bearings and retainer, to a certain amount of oohs and aahs.

I'm REALLY looking forward to going back.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

copyright is still broken

 My dad, a published author, held that copyright should be sacrosanct and permanent. He was wrong. I've had a few posts on it.

Now "Skepchick" Rebecca Watson is weighing in. She's right, because she agrees with me.

Why aren't you checking her out regularly?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

first of the year


I didn't post this listing until late in the week, due to worries about weather and possible real-social-life conflicts. I still got fourteen (some of the faster folks went on other rides, which works out better for everybody; I want this to be a recovery ride, and a ride for people just at the edge of the "B" range).

Above, Ming's brought a cake to celebrate my retirement. She had one at the Holiday Party, to which The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I couldn't go because we were quarantined. Not to be denied; she made another and brought it today. I'm flattered! Thank you so much, Ming!

We did a modification of one of my regular routes, taking a real-estate tour in Hillsborough before proceeding down East Mountain, and then turning off 601 onto Dutchtown-Harlingen instead of proceeding down to Elm and Sunset (popular opinion appears to hold that today's change is an improvement, as not all of my changes are). From there, we took my regular roads to a stop at Thomas Sweet.

I'd been low-key worrying about crossing the canal at Griggstown all day. The Griggstown Causeway is the lowest canal crossing by far, and the rain last night might have put it under water. When we got to the Causeway, we saw it was passable, but just barely...

I felt something like Moses at the Red Sea.

When we got back, we had at the cake that Ming had brought. The next three pictures are from Luis C; the cake pic is mine.

Many thanks to Dave H, who brought back the remainder of the cake to my house, so that TEW could have some!

There were a number of discussions about my brief tenure as an employee at Sourland Cycles. It's a good shop, and the mechanics are efficient. It was just a poor fit for me. I've got some other plans for my time and energies.

Ride page.

Friday, December 31, 2021

last of the year

 So after yammerin' about not goin' out of my way to get over a round number of miles for the year, I went on Laura OLPH's last-minute-listed ride today. Some pics:

So now I've got 4025 miles for the year. At least one of my readers will probably feel the weight lifting from his shoulders.

I've got a "first of the year" listing for Sunday. Y'wanna come along?

Also: I've led 37 rides this year. I know the club is up over 1,000 rides for the year, and I've led about 1/30th of 'em. Not bad, for a guy who was working full-time until six weeks ago.

I still suck at retirement, though.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

tempting but unimportant

 My RideWithGPS page shows that I have 3,989.6 miles for the year 2021. I could crank if over 4000 by logging another 10.4 miles... but:

  • I make a point of NOT adding miles on rides to get up over arbitrary numbers;
  • Miles are not the most important measure; I have over 281 hours of riding logged, which is probably even more important (I almost always enjoy my riding time);
  • That about 6420 kilometers. Who's to say kilometers aren't a better unit than miles?
  • It's cold and wet, my back hurts, and I have other stuff to do. 


Monday, December 27, 2021

back to retirement

 I've given up the job at Sourland Cycles; it was simply not a good fit for me.

This is not in any way an indictment of Sourland Cycles: Their floor staff are friendly and knowledgeable; the mechanics (the ones I met) are well-informed and efficient.

Since I've given up the job, I'm sleeping better and somewhat less anxious. I'm looking at other options to be engaged and fill time.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

75% is still a passing grade...


I don't know whether I'm getting better at leading, or whether the group was more together, or whether I'm just more accepting of the disorganization that's common on a big ride, but even though we started with 20, this ride was much less chaotic than my other recent big rides.

We started with 20... but about five miles in, one complained that she had just gotten her booster, and she wasn't up to continuing, so she turned back.

A few miles after that, another reported knee pain that just wasn't clearing, and HE turned back.

Then, at the end of Pretty Brook Road, one noted a slow leak in his front tire. He decided to roll home (a few miles from there), then take the other bike to go get his car.

Shortly before the stop at the Boro Bean, another rolled off to home.

At the Boro Bean, Laura OLPH decided she had enough pocket space to take home not just one, but two muffins:

While at the Bean...

Then, on the way back after the Boro Bean, another rider rolled off home. So 25% of my ride had left, and I finished with the 75% that remained. Still a passing grade, right?

They included Len C, who had a new ride... on which the seatpost disappeared down into the seat tube; there may have been an inadequate supply of carbon paste in the installation. Len was planning to Have.A.Word. with the shop that had done the bike build. I have not heard of shots fired or similar disturbance from Len's area, so I expect he managed his ire at the shop better than he managed it for the last several miles of the ride, standing the whole way to pedal. I'm sure I sympathize.

Ride page. This makes 37 rides I've led for the year, and a little over 3950 miles for the year. Not bad for a guy who was working full-time until last month!

Friday, December 24, 2021

cold gravel ride

Above, near the start at the Washington Crossing bridge; below, Martin tells us about a memorial for soldiers who died before the crossing.


Friend Peter G invited a few of us on a towpath ride for 12/23 (we're usually road riders, but the cold weather suggested an alteration of plans was a good idea). I went along. I didn't get may pictures, because my fingers were RIDICULOUSLY cold for the first umpteen miles (hint: if it's cold enough to justify a towpath ride, it's cold enough to wear the heaviest gloves; I had fears of frostbite for a while... but I'm typing this without incident, so my fears were unfounded).

Most important to me, though, was the opportunity to talk to a few people I trust about some emotionally-laden decisions I have to make. A few decades ago, there was a men's movement (one of many, recurring men's movements) that advocated for support groups, but the support groups as such never really got off the ground. Some people get their support in different ways from formal groups, and this group of riders is one of mine. This ride was hugely helpful for me.

I came home, though, with several cubic feet of towpath stuck to my bike and my person. I had to clean the dried sand and mud out of the car, and then, because the hose is not connected for the winter, I poured several buckets of water over the bike, and had to wipe down the bags and other accessories. Even the camera, in my pocket for most of the ride, had an accumulation of gook on it.

Ride page.