Saturday, April 8, 2023


 I did not mean to publish that last post. It has been deleted.

If you don't know what I'm taking about... good.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

on hiatus?

 I've had a blog at this url for thirteen years, and put up over 2,000 posts... but we're going on hiatus. Maybe we'll be back; maybe not... or maybe a new blog will start somewhere else.

Some mental health issues have caused problems to me and people around me, and I've got to let go of some stuff.

Thanks to all of you who've followed, or checked in, or commented.

Monday, March 6, 2023

seatbag organizer bag


A year ago, I made a seatbag organizer bag custom fit to that extra-large Topeak Aero-Wedge bag that I (along with a number of other Free Wheelers of a certain age) like to carry (we're past the point where we're trying to get by on the lightest of bikes and baggage, and well into the "rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it" mindset).

Although it fit nicely into the seatbag, there were two things I never liked about it. The first is that I'd made it just a bit too small to get everything I like to carry. The other is that I'd used a brass blue-jeans zipper, and it never worked smoothly. Over the weekend, the zipper simply locked up; I had to tear the bag open (although I could still sorta use it), so I resolved to make another. 

Having the old bag, I could use it as a pattern. I made the shaped sides about 3/8" longer. The sides are held together by a long, narrow rectangle of fabric. On the first one, I made that 1" wide plus the seam allowances; this time I raised that to 1 1/2". And I had a plastic zipper in the drawer that hadn't been used on a project that I thought better of before I'd actually bought the fabric for it.

Above, from lower left: one side cut apart with the zipper installed, the other side for the new bag; the side of the old bag that I'd used as a pattern. (Note to self: that right-side-to-right-side-and-fold-it-over zipper trick works a treat.)

The outer rectangle is sewn onto the side with the zipper in the picture above; the other side is at top, under the orange-handled trim shears.

Above, same as the previous picture, but other way up.


All sewn up in the picture above. I need to trim the outer rectangle piece (measuring around those curves is a PITA; I decided I'd just make the piece long and trim the excess. Your sewing teacher would not have approved). The piece is worked inside out; leave the zipper open and turn it right-side-out when done. You can see the finished product, filled, in the top photo.

What's in it?

The stuff on the right. From top:

  • Tire Glider tire tool*. Theoretically better than just levers for removing and replacing tires (and it is, when it fits, but see below).
  • Crank Brothers M19 multi tool. It includes a chain tool and spoke wrenches, as well as the Allen keys, screwdrivers, and a common Torx size, but the Allen keys and screwdrivers are sometimes too short. When somebody finds a multi tool that includes all this stuff, with regulation length screwdrivers and such, that is NOT made by Silca or some other bicycle jewelry company, I'll get one.
  • A CO2 cartridge.
  • A box from a tire patch kit, that actually contains quick links for 9- and 10-speed chains (I know from experience that I can use a 10-speed link to repair an 11-speed chain). I've used 'em twice for others who have broken chains en route. (I find tire patch kits are useless at roadside, despite the many recommendations. Use 'em if you're doing self-supported touring; otherwise, use Uber. YMMV.)
  • Another CO2 cartridge.
  • Lezyne aluminum tire levers. They're beautiful, and stand up to tight tires better than the plastic ones. (I'm lookin' at you, Continental Tires...)
  • Genuine Innovations Air Chuck CO2 inflator. I've tried a bunch, and seen more. This is one of the original designs, and it works. Period. 
  • Lezyne spoke wrench. I bought this at Wheelfine Cycles when I'd spent far too much time picking Michael's brain and wasting his time, and felt I needed to part with some cash to justify it.
  • House keys. (I also have a set in my wallet. And in the car. There's a story in it.)

 NOT in the bag are two tubes (shown), a set of Allen keys, and some tire boots.

I like this bag way better than the old one. 

*Tire Glider. It's worked sometimes, and the theory is great, but the notch that the wheel wall goes into when the tire is being replaced is too tight for some wheels. I've recently come across the Tire Monkey, with a wider notch for the wheel wall, and generally beefier construction overall. I've not used it yet, but I have high hopes. (Your best bet might still be the Kool Stop Tire Jack. I've got two. For the really reluctant tire, I've used the Tire Glider to keep the bead from falling off with my left hand, and the Kool Stop jack to force the tire on with my right. Don't get me started on Continental tires and tubeless-ready wheels.)

Sunday, March 5, 2023

plus, we got to go across a closed causeway


I posted this ride late Friday, after another disorganized week (The Excellent Wife [TEW] was out of town for a few days, and I was living a life of retired-bachelor dissipation in her absence). Despite that, I got twelve other registrants, some of whom planned to meet along the route (one of those was John W, who had warned me about the flooded canal yesterday).

With warmer weather predicted than recently, I decided to revert to several-layers-under-a-long-sleeve-jersey. My warmest seems to be this Briistol-Myers long-sleeve jersey in white and what I initially thought was pink in the dim light in which I was dressing, so I tied a pink bandanna around my left forearm as a handkerchief.

We left after a variation on my usual pre-ride speech (PFW ride-leader-meeting attendees: yes, I really do it before every ride), and headed up toward Blackwells Mills/Six Mile Run, where there was a porta-potty (evidently, there had been a dog walker around the back of the school, so the usual grass was not available to be watered).

By the time we got up to Amsterdam Drive, a couple of the riders let the downhill tailwind run away with 'em or something, and they missed a turn. I shouted after, but they continued, Well, if you're off the front, you're on your own, so I proceeded.

Several miles later, someone spotted them behind, and we waited. There was a remark made suggesting a violation of my no-drop policy, but I insist that the policy applies to those in back; club rules and my description make it clear that the policy does not apply to those in front.

Riders were better-behaved as we came down East Mountain, and rode towards Harlingen. One of the riders who had gone off the front stated he was tired; we discussed a possible shorter route for him to take back. I offered an escort; he declined (and made it back; I have since verified with the rider).

The rest of use went to Thomas Sweet.

Bad news at Thomas Sweet: they are moving to a new (nearby) location... but they may be stopping the coffee-and-pastry format to concentrate on ice cream and chocolates. I may need to search for a new rest stop.

While there, Roger M and Stacy P remarked on a certain feminine je ne sais quoi in both my outfit (so much pink and lavender!) and my gait. I laughed. My homophobe father would have turned in his grave to hear such a thing, if there were enough of him left to turn (we had him cremated, so even if his ashes are disturbed, it's unlikely anyone would notice).

Along the route, David G and I were talking about the ravages of time, and he said he was "gracefully embracing the frailties of aging", and I thought that was too great of a phrase not to be commemorated. Thanks, Dave.

John W had turned off the ride by the time we got to the Griggstown Causeway, but he would have had an "I told you so" moment:

It was closed, but dry. I felt like I was channelling Tom H. Another notch on my ride-leader top tube, or something.

Ride page. Once again, right in the middle of the PFW C+ range.

curiosity about weight


So I've been listening to the Maintenance Phase podcast, about weight, fat-shaming, diet culture, and the like, and during the most recent episode ("Doctors Have a New Plan for Kids"; no convenient way to link to it; go see the website), I was reminded of part of my most recent doctor's appointment.

I had gained seven pounds since the previous year, and the doctor gave me a (no doubt insurance-required) counseling on the dangers of weight gain.

Dude! Have you seen me?

Saturday, March 4, 2023

hounds and high water

 I went out for a slow solo ride this morning (in order to be available to get The Excellent Wife [TEW] from the airport later). I was making up the route as I went, with sort-of the intention of coming back across the Griggstown Causeway.

About fourteen miles in, though, I was flagged down by John W, who stopped to chat for a bit. In passing, he mentioned that the canal was flooded. I had noticed that the water was high when I came across at Blackwells Mills, but I had been able to cross... so I presumed he meant at Griggstown, which is more prone to flood.

I turned around to go back to cross at Blackwells Mills. The water was high.

Adding to the entertainment at the time, though, were a couple of loose dogs (obviously well-cared-for, although I don't know anything about canine breeds or whatever), out for a stroll, and not really caring about the chaos they caused to the traffic.

In the last picture, you can see a couple of the drivers trying to round them up and get the off the road before they were hurt. It was clear I wasn't going to be able to add anything useful to the situation.

Ride page.

Friday, March 3, 2023

too soon to tell, but suggestive, nonetheless

To satisfy a nagging little suspicion, I had my doctor send me the heights they had on file for me for the last three years.

There was no change in that little bit of time, but I'm an inch shorter (about 25mm) than I was in college. I'd thought I was still that height, but I'm not.

Over the past two weeks, I've lowered my saddle height by 10mm. Today, with no carbs for breakfast (just a couple hard-boiled eggs, and the quart-and-a-half of coffee I have every day), I turned in this ride:

Holy bananas; 15.6 average. That about a mile-an-hour faster than any ride I've done recently.

The sample size is too small, of course, and correlation is not cause, but this result is suggestive, nonetheless.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

frock coat, v4.0

I finished the frock coat I was working on (see this post). I didn't put adequate interfacing in the collar or lapels, so they need attention, and it doesn't button well -- but I usually wear blazers open anyway.

I like it. (I like being a little over-formally-dressed at most occasions, anyway. Even though I'm retired, this will definitely get use.)


Monday, February 27, 2023

bad idea carbon fiber bike parts


See the original on YouTube

Carbon fiber has a far better reputation than it did when I was building the titanium Yellow Maserati, but I still avoid it (link goes to the site at Busted Carbon, although I doubt any carbon-fiber fans will click on it). It turns out that Francis Cade, who's far from a retrogrouch like me, posted a video with expert opinion on parts that should not be carbon fiber.

I'm stickin' to my opinion: I don't ride no plastic bikes.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

it turned out to be a good day


Given the events of the week before, I'm surprised this ride went off as well as it did.

Given the events of the week before, I'm relieved this ride went off as well as it did.

Given the events of the week before, I'm grateful this ride went off as well as it did.

See, the thing is, I've been retired for about a year and a half. We're trying to have me live off only my Social Security, leaving my retirement savings (and my two laughably small pensions) for after my wife retires in a few more years. 

Now, last year, I wound up with several thousand dollars in unexpected dental expenses, so I was hoping to make up for that this year. But during the week, the car started running rough, and the "check engine" light was on, and the display screen would only show warnings. So I limped into the dealership.

Diagnostics determined that rodents had gotten into the engine, and had chewed up wiring, hoses, the engine covering, and other impedimenta in there to the tune of another several thousand dollars. This additional expense just sent me into a tailspin. It's not enough that it affects my retirement; I have the savings to pay it... but all I could see was an endless line of upcoming expenses for which I could not plan and had not budgeted. Rumination and overthinking took over. The anxiety disorder (to which I've alluded in other posts) came to visit, and unpacked as for a long stay.

I almost always post rides for Sundays on the club website, and I posted a ride for today... but a friend pointed out that the route I'd posted didn't correspond with the description I'd put in. I hastily corrected the route info, and emailed the five registrants that the route would be different, and would have substantially more climb (one registrant cancelled).

I'm blaming my confusion and poor focus on the earlier events, and my poor mental health.

But I still got ten other riders for today, including two who decided to meet along the route.

Many of my readers are bike-y people, and I won't need to tell you what a salutary effect 39 miles at a reasonable pace can have on the troubled mind. The ride was like medication.

We did one of my regular routes down through Princeton, and then up into Hopewell to the Boro Bean.

Do you think we have enough pogies on all them bikes?

One rider had a flat on the ride back, and was bemoaning his poor technique, but the day had warmed, and we weren't in a hurry, and a few of us helped, and a few others told stories of more experienced riders with even worse technique. 

And it turned out to be a good day. Ride page.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

not for its intended purpose

 I've "come out" as both a person in recovery from a substance-use disorder (holy crap; that post was eleven years ago) and as a person with a mental health disorder.

I do daily exercise, and, if I'm exercising in the house, I listen to podcasts. During the pandemic isolation, the Home Cooking podcast, from Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway, was running (and they did two Thanksgiving episodes thereafter).

I'm never going to be much of a cook, but I treasured this podcast. I found Samin's voice, and her laugh, and the interaction between her and Hrishi, soothing and comforting.

I'd save up these episodes for particularly bad days. Much of my anxiety was work-related, so after I retired, I didn't need the soothing as much, and I had two episodes I hadn't listened to yet.

This week was pretty bad (I may do a post about that), and I played one of the remaining episodes today. It still worked as I remembered. My mind is better. And there's one more in the can, and I've still got all the other episodes I can replay, if I need.

Ms Nosrat will probably never know (or, likely, care) how helpful she's been. But this podcast saved me on some of my darkest days. 

I do a daily (well, more-or-less) discipline about remembering what to be grateful for and what I need to focus on each day. Today, this podcast is going on the gratitude column.