Saturday, December 20, 2014

colder than we thought slugs ride

I THOUGHT it was going to be warmer than it was when I left the house this morning, or when I got to Laura's for the ride start, or when we got to Pennington for the official ride start, or at any of dozens of other times  today. But it wasn't; it was cold.

Laura admonished us to bundle up in her ride announcement, and we're glad we did. Although the thermometer in my patio said above freezing at the time I left, and although few of the puddles I saw at the roadside were frozen, we felt colder today than I remember being on days where the mercury was lower. Marco and I left with Laura from her house for the extra miles, and when we got to the Pennington Admin building, the only other person waiting was Barry... but Peter, and then Celeste rode in, so we were six.

Laura remembered that the staff at the Bagel Bistro in Hillsborough always wear shorts, so she thought that might be the warmest stop we could make. So up we went, on this route (that, of course, includes our extra miles before and after). After the ups, of course, come the downs, and they were bitterly cold... so at the stop, Laura decided to opt for the flattest route back. We came back via East Mountain, 601, and 518, which, to me, are the bicycle equivalent of trucker's roads - direct, efficient, but not the most scenic. But on the ride back, I don't think any of us were looking for scenic; I don't remember any complaints about the route except for the number of cars.

A few miles from Pennington, Laure had a flat, ad we had the worst luck fixing it: first her tire-to-rim fit is tight, then she inadvertently removed the valve stem with the CO2 inflator, then we couldn't remove the stem from the inflator (it might have been frozen in). After some monkeying around with things, we got the tire up again.  (I'm no fan of Specialized Bicycles generally - I don't like the way they monopolize their local stores - but the Specialized CPRO2 Trigger just works.)

So her tube is on my workbench, and there's a spent CO2 in my bike bag. And we I can stand to face the cold in the garage again, I'll repair the tube and clean out the bag.

Pics. Setting up at Laura's:

At Pennington:

At Bagel Bistro:

Below: Christmas bagels. I don't know... they don't look appetizing to me...

Below, Peter hates paparazzi. 

Below, Laura made me delete the picture where she's stuffin' muffin into her mouth, so I got this one instead:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

laura on bad santas and art bikes

Laura OLPH has put up a post on bad Santas...

... and customized bicycles from the Phillipines:

... and it might be my favorite post, of anything I've ever seen, ever. I am not worthy.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

weekend rides

Two rides this weekend; I didn't get around to posting about yesterday's until now due to an important visit to The Excellent In-Laws to see the new nephew (at about 7 months old; sorry, but infants just don't do it for me - I like kids when they're a bit older and can talk about cartoons and school and stuff).

Laura OLPH was finally back from England and other responsibilities, and had a ride in the list for Saturday 12/13... and her description on her blog included the tag, "I haven't seen a hill since October.  This is gonna hurt." When she came to the start, she said she didn't have a particular route in mind, but wanted to go to Lambertville. Off we went, and when Snakehead Ed made reference to Mine Road as we were approaching, she decided to take it. I think that was the logic of that ride - find a hill and go up; we seemed to hit a lot of 'em.

Shortly before we got to Lambertville, Jack H broke a spoke, so we adjusted the route to get there quickly and went to Pure Energy, where Jack got an emergency repair (at a bit over $30; seemed high to me). He met us at Rojo's, and back we went, by what Laura decided was a reasonably direct route.

Pictures! At the start:

As we left, we dropped in at the Pennington School to see a few of the last oxen from the Hopewell Stampede:

Laura didn't stop in Mt Airy to get a picture of the cows, so I did.

Leaving Pure Energy:

Outside Rojo's, there was this NIFTY Austin Daimler. I chatted with the owner about restoration tips. (I love talking about bikes!)

Today, Snakehead Ed had a ride in the book. I didn't know if I'd be up to it after yesterday's ride, but Ed sent a plan of the route, and the only tough hill was going to be Dutchtown Zion,and that would be overwith in the first half. I was afraid nobody else would go to his ride (and it's a five-mile ride from home to the start), so I went to meet him.

Before he got there, I saw these things on Canal Rd. First, what caused this damage?

Second, is that beaver sign on a tree along the canal?

Ed and Rick W came along.

I had the route in the GPS, which was good, because Ed forgot his cue sheet. It worked until near the end, when we made an adjustment to the route, and I lost the track for about my last 10 miles; to the start at Blackwells Mills/Six Mile, then my ride to Better World Market to get some calories (I did well on Dutchtown Zion, but I bonked at the end), then home. I figure I actually did about 70 miles today. (And we saw Paul I et cie, which was encouraging!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

two from today's oddman

I love these pics of Muslim women with western ways:

... and here is a worse Santa than any Laura OLPH has ever found:

Both from today's Oddman.

Monday, December 8, 2014

repeat on weight loss

Yesterday, I put up a post (since edited) about my exercise regimen. Exercise isn't enough, though; there's more to staying (or getting) healthy and weight loss. As I said in my earlier post, there's no secret. The stuff that works is the same stuff we've heard for years.

I'm not going to get into the argument about carbs vs. fat. My experience is that fat gets a (mostly) bad rap, and simple carbs have more to do with weight loss than anybody will admit. The Excellent Wife (TEW) thinks I've gone too far in this direction. YMMV.

The rules I follow are these:
  1. Exercise hard six days per week (or seven);
  2. Don't eat crap;
  3. Weigh yourself every day, and keep track.
The exercise regimen can be seen in yesterday's post.

As far as what I eat: People who've been on rides with me know I eat all kinds of muffins, cookies, and whatever; I drink sugary stuff. At my in-laws', I eat lots of good food, and lots of sugar and white flour. But I don't do that every day; I save it for either when I need the calories (like long rides), or when the quality is really good (I'm related to some excellent cooks). TEW and I live a much more abstemious life from day to day.

Weighing myself daily: I use the Hacker's Diet computer tools. The Thysell spreadsheet I linked to four years ago no longer works, and the Excel tools on the Hacker's Diet page have not been updated in years (so I can't make 'em work with current versions of Excel), but the online program works great. As I said in the post from 2010, the fact that it keeps track of the trend means that you don't get to give yourself a pass on a day when your weight is temporarily down, and you don't have to despair if you're high weight is an anomaly. You can also use the graph to see if you've really been stable, or if you're slowly trending up again (as I have done). Daily progress checking makes it a little harder to lie to yourself.

The careful eye will note that the above numbered list starts with two. There's a reason for that. My experience is that most people will start a regimen, and fall off. They'll go on a diet, with the intention of going back to their previous ways when they've hit goal. They begin to exercise, and then skip a day, and then skip two, and then the treadmill is a laundry rack again.

The most important thing is that you've got to want to do it.

That said, if you really want to change ANY behavior - whether it's losing weight, learning something new, or whatever - I have two suggestions: first, hang around with people who do what you want to do. We tend to pick up the behaviors of the people with whom we associate.

Second, make it a habit. That takes time: more than a week, more than a month; probably more than three months (despite what the "change your life in three weeks" behavior gurus tell you). When intention won't get you moving, when fear won't get you moving... when nothing else will do it, you'll do it because of habit; you'll do it because that's what you do.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

exercise regimen

This post is written in response to Snakehead Ed's asking about my exercise regimen. I wrote about it years ago, but I've changed it since then: in some ways I've gotten stronger (my arms and upper body), and in some ways weaker (notably my back; I've actually had to use a cane a few times in the past several months).

I have my beefs with Grant Petersen's Just Ride book, but he's on the money about some things, including exercise:
A lot of bike riders... believe that ALL precious exercising hours are best spent riding their bike...

Riding a bike is a great foundation exercise. It works the big muscles of your legs and butt. But reduced to its simplest biomechanics, pedaling a bike amounts to twirling your feet in 13.5-inch-diameter circles while the rest of your muscles don't do much. Climbing hills is an exception, but I'm talking about in general, most of the time.

But when you focus solely on any one exercise, your muscles become super efficient, and after about four to six weeks, you stop getting better at it - or you at least reach the point of a bad return on investment...

That said, here's my routine for non-riding days:
  1. Except for Mondays, when I'm usually recovering from riding, I do 25 minutes on a rowing machine with a sliding seat. I go pretty quick; I usually do 1300-1400 strokes in the 25 minutes.
  2. Mondays and Thursdays, I do 120 on-my-back, straight-out arm lifts with two 30-lb. dumbbells.
  3. Any other day I'm not riding, I do 85 pushups, or pushups to exhaustion. I'll admit I don't go as low as I could when I was 40. Or even 50.
  4. I do 75 plank exercises on each side. Get up on your elbow and your feet and lift your hips so your body is straight. Lower your hips (not to the floor) and straighten again. I find I need a pad under my elbow (and I have a yoga pad for the floor exercises, so I don't sweat up the hardwood floor).
  5. I do either 40 or 160 crunches, depending on how you count. I lie on my back, with my hands behind my head. With knees bent, I lift my shoulders up off the floor and twist left, go back down, lift my shoulders up straight, go back down, lift my shoulders and twist right, go back down, lift my shoulders up straight, go back down. I repeat 40 times (thinking, "A, B, C, one, A, B, C, two...).
  6. Then I do an exercise I got from these guys (it's based on slide number 3). Lie with your back on the floor, knees up, arms at your sides; rock your knees left, then right. The want you to keep your feet on the floor, but I don't have room for that, so I lift and twist. 40 reps.
  7. Last, another from the link in the bullet above (slide 5). On back, knees bent. Raise butt as high as you can, the lower (but not to the floor until the end). 40 reps. (Maybe 50.)
Exercise is impossibly boring. The Excellent Wife (TEW) watches Netflix or other movies; I listen to podcasts. I'll be glad to talk to you about my favorites.

And you know what the best exercise is, don't you?

It's the one you'll actually do.

pseudo-esp ride

The Princeton Freewheelers have an "ESP ride", let by Ed P, Peter F, and Sean D. It's the successor to the really-an-A ride that used to go out of Cranbury, and they promise that average speeds for this one will fall in the B+ range (17-18mph), but I've still been too nervous to do it.

Snakehead Ed C was leading a ride today out of Blackwells Mills (one of the few starting locations that's close enough to my home for me to ride to), and who else should appear for it, but Peter F and Sean D! Evidently, given the recurring rain and wet roads yesterday, they didn't go out, so they wanted to get one in today. I was sure I was going to be dropped somewhere in the Sourlands...

Ed had sent an email with a link to this intended route (which is how I knew the Sourlands was in the plan), so I downloaded it into Mr Garmin, my intermittently-reliable GPS, and rode out to the start. Now, the GPS is a computer, and computers do what you tell them to do, not what you want them to do. Ed made minor adjustments to the route in a couple of places, and Mr Garmin got all farblunget; I had to reset him a couple of times, and finally tuned the routing off entirely.

Ed had warned us to bring food, as the first stop was to be at mile 32, AFTER the worst of the hills. We proceeded at a pretty good clip (it was windy, but the wind wasn't much of a problem for me until the last part of the ride [and wouldn’t you know that?]). We stopped at the turn onto Riverside Road so that we could "calorie up", and then did the hilly bits - on which I did better than I'd expected, so they didn't leave me gasping at the side of the road.

After getting to the top of the ride, and turning onto Mountain Rd, we got to the church, where a young lady was having difficulty getting her minivan out of the lot; she got if blocking the road and it wasn't going much farther. Peter took a look in her driver's side window, and pointed out that the vehicle would probably proceed with greater ease if she would disengage the parking brake. She did, and off we went.

We took a break at Boro Bean in Hopewell (Peter declined to come inside, citing both the inside temperature and his fear that someone might take one of our bikes), and then we rode back towards Blackwells Mills, into the wind (about which I've already complained). I turned off at Butler Road (which I called Bennet's Lane at least three times; I must have been thinking about the NBBX ride from a couple of weeks ago).

Here's my data, including my ride to and from.

Pics! At the start. Thank heaven: the porta-potty is back at Blackwells Mills!

Sean looks like he's either dancing, or conducting the orchestra, in that one above.

At the stop before the climb:

At the top of Zion:

Friday, December 5, 2014

seasons greetings

The only window in my office at work is the 5" wide one in my door. I've just put up my annual holiday decoration, a sign in that window with the following quote (in 40-point type) from Dickens's A Christmas Carol:

"If I could work my
will," said Scrooge
indignantly, "every
idiot who goes 
around with 'Merry
Christmas' on his
lips, should be
boiled with his own
pudding and buried
with a stake of holly
through his heart. He

It has nothing to do with my real feelings about the season (I'm actually a mush at this time of year), but I always feel that The Other Side should be represented.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

arneytown rd the right way and bridge out with winter larry

After yesterday's cold ride, when I saw 37F on arising this morning, I thought it was a balmy day for a ride. Winter Larry had emailed me during the week asking why he hadn't seen me, so I decided to go on his ride out of Cranbury... but, never willing to leave well enough alone, I parked in Plainsboro and added a few miles before and after. I was early, of course (people who know me won't be surprised), so I kept pedaling, and wound up with 12 miles before I even signed the ride sheet.

Eleven others started, and Larry decided to go do a route that would include Hutchison Rd, which is the extension of the locally-famous Hill Rd. We wound up doing a loop, and passing Hill Rd. Larry told one of the riders that he wanted to do the whole of Arneytown-Hornerstown Rd "the right way", which evidently means taking advantage of the long downhill along the whole stretch.

We stopped at the Dunkin Donuts at 537, at which there was the most engaging father-and-daughter raising money for their athletics; they got a donation from me, and I'm usually pretty tight about this kind of moneyraising.

On the way back, we turned onto (I think) Meirs Rd, despite the "bridge out" signs... but we were able to get through despite the barriers; still, several square yards of roadway had fallen into the stream. Still, no feet got wet.

And just a few yards from the lot, one of the riders threw a flat; he elected to walk the bike back to the car rather than change it!

As we pulled into Cranbury, we came up with John & Jane D. They came to the end with us, and told us about their experiences at the dog shows (you may have seen them on Facebook). Then John and Jane rode with me part of the way back to Cranbury; Marco B came along to where I'd parked.

My results are here (I'm blaming the fact that I was sweeping for the slow pace; that's my story and I'm stickin' to it). If you look at the laps, the first is my ride to Cranbury, then the ride with the group, then the short ride back to Cranbury.

Pics, at the start:

On the road:

At the stop:

The engaging money raisers. This picture doesn't do 'em justice.

Past the bridge that was out:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

hopewell trail ride

I went to Kim's yesterday to pick up a couple of derailleur cables to replace the one... well, it's like this: I was off Monday when it was 72F, so I cleaned up the Yellow Maserati, my grey-and-black titanium road bike. One of the reasons you want to clean your bike regularly is that it forces you to pay attention so you notice things going wrong before a catastrophic failure, and I noticed that my front derailleur cable was completely frayed and down to a single strand at the locking bolt at the derailleur itself, so I replaced it. That meant I used the last derailleur cable I had in stock, and I like to keep at least one ahead.

So that was why I went to Kim's. The older Korean proprietor (probably Dave's dad) doesn't pay any attention to me, but Senor Francisco got a couple of derailleur cables out of the shop stock, and I paid Mrs. Kim when she came out of the back. While I was there, Francisco asked if I was planning to go out with them this morning. Whew! At their 7:30 start time, the temp was barely 20F. No, I wasn't planning on that ride.

But I didn't know if I was riding at all until I got an email from Tom H that he was thinking of a pickup ride around the Hopewell Trail and environs, starting at 10. The earliest part of the ride was in the woods, out of the wind, so that seemed like a less miserable option.

A few other people agreed: Dave H and Joe M were at the start when I got there, and the Tom drove in. A moment later Jeff X came up the trail, and then Laura OLPH rolled up off the road.

We did this route.Mostly, it was the Hopewell trail on the way out, and roads on the way back. Much of the Hopewell trail is paved, but some is packed gravel... and some is mud, which mostly wasn't a problem today (as it was frozen over), but there was some ice on the trail where we needed to pay attention. The others were on mountain bikes, and Dave had a cyclocross bike (picturesquely covered in the pink-red dust of his most recent ride), but that hybrid of mine got across this route well enough. I'm not enamored of that bike, but it's done everything I've demanded of it.

(Joe M has a Bridgestone mountain bike, with nifty Nitto wide bars, with cork-and-twine-wrap grips and shellacked bar wrap, most picturesquely worn. I didn't get a picture, but I will, if I get another chance - it's a handsome ride.)

The pics I DID get:

On the trail:

Last year, Laura brought me a Santa ornament she thought was too awful for The Excellent Wife (TEW) and I to use, but we put it on the tree with the rest of our awful stuff. She's evidently taken this as a challenge; she brought a Santa in a helicopter ornament this year, to see if this will make the collection. Dave C offered to take a picture of the two of us with it, but at first he got the camera backwards:

Yeah, it's not like he planned that, or anything. Then he got the picture of Laura, me, and the objet d'art:

I promise a better picture of the ornament later.