Monday, September 22, 2014

tew's dad in hospital

My wife's father has been in the hospital the past few days. He's stable, but he's 90.

Of course we're worried.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

hopewell valley stampede... partly

I should have guessed that after a quick ride Friday (yeah, I was off, but it was alone, and I don't blog about all of my solo rides), then a quick Ride for McBride yesterday, then staying out late last night with The Excellent Wife (TEW) to see Antony and Cleopatra at the McCarter Theater last night... I should have known that I'd be shot for a ride today. But I got up and out anyway to do Laura OLPH's Hopewell Valley Stampede ride today.

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council got a number of fiberglas oxen, and arranged for local artists to decorate them. Laura set up a ride to visit as many as practical, with plans to stop and take pictures. I went (including some extra miles), but I was tired and hurtin'. When Bagel Hill Barry had a fairly substantial mechanical problem about 25 miles in, I took the opportunity to shepherd him back to his car, then ride back to my car; I've been nursing my sore legs for the rest of the day.

Even if I had been in good shape, I can unequivocally say you probably would have hated this ride. It was ALL stops for pictures; some stops were within a few hundred feet of the last. I got a number of pictures of the six riders who came along (John K, Jack, and Celeste completed the sextet), and of the oxen. Some are below; the rest are in my album on Photobucket.

Below, John thought the picture on the leg of the ox above was of his 8-speed cassette:

Above: Cointreau was bottled in Hopewell for decades; this ox had a decoupage of prints of posters and labels. Below, crocheted recycled plastic bags, we think:

I had fun identifying the originals of the artworks on the one below:

Over two dozen more pics in the Album on Photobucket.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

mcbride ride 2014: paved with good intentions

Laura OLPH's blog post read:
The Ride for McBride is this Saturday, September 20.  I will be leading a team of FreeWheelers on the 50-mile route starting at 8:00 a.m.  I plan to keep an honest strong B pace; in other words, we'll probably average in the high 16 mph range.  Those who wish to go faster should go faster without us.

Well, that was the plan. But as you can see from my RideWithGPS upload, we came in a little faster than that. Since it wasn't a Freewheeler ride, we don't feel too guilty about the speed...

It was a glorious day, and we had a number of riders, most of whom were in good shape and were, shall we say, showin' off today.

Lots of pics, I'll put a few below; all of them (including these) are on my McBride Ride 2014 Photobucket Album. (Tomorrow, Laura's leading a completely different kind of ride; we're going to visit some of the oxen in the Hopewell Stampede!)

Starting up:

We got there early, and the guy hadn't been there to unlock the gate. The resourceful vandals took out a piece of the PVC pipe fence to let us in to park. In this pic, you can see the locked chain to the left, and the open section of fence to the right behind my bike.

Haven't seen Chris in AGES!

He hasn't changed much, has he?

Below: The Excellent Wife (TEW) came and did the 25-mile ride. Sue M (above) joined her for part of the way.

See the rest of the pics in the Photobucket album.

After the ride, I set up clipless pedals and shoes for TEW, replaced her brake shoes (she had cheesey brake shoes; watch a subsequent post for info on those, and on something else that's a Thing that Works), and changed out my rear tire and wheel. Marco B noticed my rear tire was low; I got home on it OK, but there was a gash in the tire, so I replaced it (about 3400 miles on it, but it was gashed down to fabric in two places and showing wear). I also put on the all-cross-3 rear wheel. If we're doing hills in Hunterdon tomorrow, I don't want to risk the radial left rear wheel. Yeah, it SHOULD be fine, but...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


The Excellent Wife (TEW) recently referred to me as avuncular.


I don't know; what do YOU think?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Freewheeler Picnic 2014

Today was the Princeton Freewheeler Picnic & All-Paces ride.

I went on Gary Wotton's pretty-fast B ride (and I forgot to turn on the GPS for the first coupla miles), but that's not what you're here for.

You can see more of the pics in my 2014 Freewheeler Picnic & All-Paces Ride album on Photobucket.

(Shortly after that one, I dropped & killed the camera. I'm working on having another by next weekend's rides.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ride with Kim's Bike Shop

With the departure of Halter's, who recently moved to Hillsborough (or Skillman, or something; there seems to be some debate about the postal code), I now have no excuse not to call Kim's Bikes in New Brunswick my local shop. Dave Kim, the second-generation proprietor there, has been bending over backwards to make me welcome and to seek my custom, and the only downside I can find to his shop is that finding nearby parking takes patience, imagination, and (sometimes) cash (I HATE paying for parking).

I had heard from Snakehead Ed that a ride goes out from Kim's on Saturday mornings at 7:00 am. That's good for me; I'm an early riser. I asked Dave about it one time when I was in the shop early in the summer, and got a standing invitation, but schedules just never worked out, until today.

Tom H of the Princeton Freewheelers was planning to do a ride to the beach today, but weather threatened, and he rescheduled to tomorrow. Tomorrow, however, is the Freewheeler's picnic and all-paces ride, and The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I are going together. So I decided to show up at Kim's today for the ride.

There were a couple of riders waiting when I got there, and soon others showed up, including Dave Kim, and Rick G, with whom I've ridden with Snakehead Ed. Everybody except Rick was substantially younger than I (I think I had started smoking before the next oldest rider was born), and I began to worry if I would be able to keep up.

I didn't have to worry. The riders had a range of abilities, from Ben (a clerk at the shop, who's also been treating me like folks, and who's a racer) and another young rider, to some folks who didn't warm up for a number of miles in.

We did this route. That link includes my rides to and from home. I set 'em up as laps so I could see how I did with the group. My averages on my own, going to the ride (at 6:30 am!) and back, were in the high 16's; my average with the group was 18.4.

This was a fun ride, for two reasons: first, it was just challenging enough without feeling like I was over my head. There were times when I was pulling (although the real speedy guys were way out front; this group has set "wait up" points for this ride, though), and there were times when I was eating dust. The other reason? Well, this being New Brunswick, especially in that neighborhood, there were a number of Mexicans on the ride (and probably some other varieties of Latino; I don't pretend to be an expert on that stuff, but New Brunswick has a largely-Oaxacan neighborhood). I couldn't understand half of the jokes they were making with one another. I love that.

I met a number of guys; two stick in memory: Alex, who's sixteen years younger than I, and who seemed to admire my performance (I AM a sucker for that stuff, too), and Francisco, a mechanic in the shop, for whom I'll look next time I'm there. I suspect some of these guys were competitors in Mexico (and they may be competitors here, too!).

I'm definitely going again. You may want to go out with 'em, too.

Pics. At Blackwells Mills/Six Mile:

Above: That's Ben, with the lime-green bike and the orange arm warmers.

Above: Dave Kim's the guy, second from left, with the green stripe on his jersey, and the glasses. That young fellow in the center of the picture had no problem turning his cranks. The mechanic Francisco is second from right. Below, the only road shot that came out.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

wheels. built 'em myself.

A few years ago, I horrified a couple of fellow Freewheelers when I let slip that I built my bike from parts, and do all my own maintenance. One asked if I wanted to be rolling down a hill at 50mph and be dependent on brakes that I had rigged myself.

Well, yeah, I do. The bike brake system is fairly simple, and the adjustments, while tricky, are not beyond my power. And, frankly, I've not been impressed with the adjustments and mechanics I've seen in local shops. For example, I regularly see little cosmetic details that have been either skimped on or done wrong, and if the cosmetics aren't getting proper attention, how do I know the mechanicals are? Further, on my last set of wheels, I had them tuned by a mechanic at a local shop... and after the tune, I had two spokes break on separate occasions. I know I can do better myself.

Those Vuelta Super Corsa wheels (the ones to which I alluded in the previous paragraph) had other problems:
  1. First, they continually punctured the tube. I though I was having a run of bad luck with tires, until I established that the punctures were on the INSIDE of the tubes. The spoke holes were so badly milled that they were puncturing the tubes right through the rim tape.
  2. The (admittedly very attractive) quick release repeatedly loosened itself during rides. I had to replace the quick release set.
  3. The fit for a 700x23 tire was very tight. I broke a set of plastic tire levers trying to get a tire on (I could NOT do it by hand, with these tires/wheels; I have not had this problem with other tire/wheel combinations). I now carry aluminum tire levers.
  4. Before the wheel tune, I had another spoke break. Three broken spokes in a little over two years is a lot.
In previous posts, I wrote about a good book I had been given on wheelbuilding, and my experiences building my first rear wheel and front wheel. It happened I pulled the spokes to tight when I was building the rear wheel, and I dimpled the rim; no cracks, but I didn't want to risk a problem and I knew I could do better. That first wheel had butted spokes of the same gauge on both the drive and non-drive sides. For the rebuild, I decide to try narrower gauge spokes on the non-drive side, and thread the wheel using the same three-cross pattern.

It worked beautifully. I finished the wheel (without rushing) in under two hours, and the wheel's been true for the few weeks I've been riding it.

But that left me with the hub and spokes from the dimpled-rim wheel. I decided to build another rear wheel, this time three-cross on the drive side and radial on the non-drive side. I was warned I'd get into trouble doing this, but I've seen such wheels (in fact, I've seen BMX bikes with all-radial spokes on both wheels)... and there's nothing so likely to make me try something as advice to avoid it without good reasons to back up such advice.

The new rear wheel is finished, and is on the bike now. Pics below:

The bike, and the other rear wheel (the one off the bike is three-cross, both sides; the one on the bike is radial left).

Two closer pics of the radial-left rear wheel. Addendum: The current fashion is to thread the radial side button-ends out. I am never a slave to fashion, so I did 'em button-ends in.

The (currently off-the-bike) rear with three-cross both sides; narrow gauge spokes on the left. I'm sorry, but the shadows can make the spoke patterns confusing.

It turns out I like building wheels. Anybody want some wheels built?

b ride with an equine flavor

OK. Sourland Spectacular yesterday; I'm DONE with hills for a bit. I wanted a flat B ride. Laura OLPH and I considered going on Wotton's ride, but he's been going way too fast (did his group really average 19.4 last week or two? It couldn't be, could it? And if it was, how is that a B ride?). But Winter Larry had one in the book for today, so that's what I decided to do.

As did Laura, Jeff R, Eddy, and Vincent (whom I know little, and who mostly does mountain biking). The six of us (including me and Winter Larry) did this route (well, kinda; that includes my extra miles to and from Plainsboro before and after the ride). Eddy went off on the way down, leaving the rest of us.

Larry had planned on going to see the Russian churches in Cassville, but the stop he likes to use is open unreliably, so we went to a Quikchek instead. On the way down, Larry and Laura stopped to see a corral where there's a white horse; I misremember where it is but Larry sops to look frequently. I don't give a hang about the horse, but I did get a picture of Larry and Laura gawking.

On to the Quikchek, where I saw two gals come in on cruisers, one of which was the best lime green. Theye eyed me with suspicion when I asked to get pics of the bikes (not unreasonably, I suppose), but lightened up when it became clear I wasn't about to make fun of them. Hey, anybody who's riding is doing better than the folks on the couch playing the new Sims game.

Then back. On the way back we had a bit of headwind (that had been a tailwind on the way down, about which we didn't complain [or even notice much; I find tailwinds just make me think. "I'm unusually fast today!", while headwinds make me use language that would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap fifty years ago]). We passed another corral with a white horse, and around the corner from that was another corral with a young mule. Or donkey, maybe, I don't know. Cute, though.

Pics. At the start:

On the road:

Laura and Larry, uh, appreciating the white horse:

The cruisers:

The donkey (mule?)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

sourland spectacular 2104

Despite threats of thunderstorms, a team from the Freewheelers rode the Sourland Spectacular today (in fact, several teams of Freewheelers did, but mine was the one that got the extra Freewheeler donation and I had sent out announcements by email and on the Freewheeler Facebook page). I had had a flurry of interest at my first announcement, including emails from members I had not met, but they don't appear to have come today (I DID ride around both the parking lot and the sign-up area calling for "Freewheelers", but had no takers... perhaps because I was riding around both the parking lot and the sign-up area calling for "Freewheelers").

Nonetheless, I did have a team: Dave C, Richard B, Jack H (the first time I've seen him on a bike since surgery half a year ago), Laura OLPH, and the very-tall newcomer I am calling Over-the-Mark (I hope he'll forgive the pun on his name). Not quite as early as I had planned, but early enough, we started on this route.

Those little back-and-forths are not errors (well, not ALL of them; I did make one wrong turn... would it have been a Plain-Jim-led-ride without?). The route went pasts several local farms, which had put out some of their wares: chicken at a poultry farm, sausage and peperoni at a beef farm, heirloom tomatoes. They were early in the ride, so I don't think the farms had many takers; perhaps the route should be run in reverse next year (I, for one, would have been glad to get the tougher hills out of the way earlier, and having breaks at the end would have been welcome.

At one of the stops (I think the one at about mile 17), we ran into a woman, Magda, who'd ridden with Laura. They got to talking, and then got smitten by a cricket on Dave's wheel, and when we left, she came along with us. She had a quick sense of humor (until the hills and the heat got to all of us), and at the end, we were suggesting she join the Freewheelers.

Thunderstorms didn't come, but hills and heat did. Some of our number were cursing the organizers for adding Rainbow Hill and Long Hill Road at the end. For me, though, all this was forgotten after the ride; the Spectacular hosts a huge lunch, with many local places providing food (Pad thai! Pulled chicken! Individual pizzas!), and, lord help us, ice-cream sundaes over brownies. Not for everybody, perhaps, but right up my alley.

I especially liked the t-shirt:

I'll post a few of the other pics here; the rest are in my Sourland Spectacular 2014 gallery. At the start:

At a rest stop:

Magda, Dave, and Laura getting pictures of the cricket on Dave's wheel:

Star of the show:

On the road:

Indoor farm stop:

Steel rooster with rebar legs!

The line for water at one stop: