Sunday, April 15, 2018

Taste of Summer

After weeks of close to freezing weather and some scattered snow storms we finally had some great weather. Last week I needed to wear most of my winter riding gear to stay warm. This week I was in my summer shorts and jersey. In fact when loaded my car for the drive it felt like I forgot something because I didn't have my shore covers, heavy gloves, or jacket.

It was mid 70s at the start of the ride. It was easily the best day of the year to be outdoors. It was one of those days where if you had plans that would keep you stuck indoors you would find some way to change your plans. Because of this I thought I would have a big crowd, like I had last week, for the ride but only had Jack, Chris, Jim, Joe and Ricky showed up. I guess not everybody is ready for a 60 mile ride at this time of year.

It felt good to have the sun on my skin and I felt a lot lighter riding without all the winter cloths. To mark the first ride of the year with out tights I got a shot of all our legs. 

Although it was warm and sunny there was a strong wind from the south. The route I planned was a straight shot down to Tabernacle and back. The goal was to sit in front of Nixions one of the best rest stops in NJ. The ride south was a wasn't bad considering we had a constant headwind but it just felt good to be warm while riding in fact I think I was actually hot.

The roads have gotten pretty beat up this winter and we found a number of roads that were rough and had more potholes then road. I hope now that it is warm that the NJ dept of transport gets to work on fixing some of these roads.

When we got to Nixions there were a lot of other bikers there. The great thing about Nixions is that it is not a Wawa and has a is own distinct pinelands personality as the Piney Power sticker on the front down proclaims. They have a good selection of food and the brownies and crumb cake are top notch. They usually have porta-johns  outside the store but they were gone. We found out that they finally added indoor plumbing and a dinning room. I guess this place is going upscale now.

From the rest stop if was mostly tail wind all the way back. I purposely made a turn up Philos Bridge Rd which I know would have some dirt. On the way down we had to around a bridge out by Smithville although that didn't really count as there is a foot bridge that can be used as a detour. So we did have some dirt and a bridge out to make it an official ride.

I took Birmingham Rd which was closed last year because of a bridge out but that has been fixed now. This got us to the highest point in Burlington county and the only real climb of the day. From there it was the normal roads back. I was glad we had a tail wind because I could feel my self getting tired. It also didn't help that I had a large piece of crumb cake at Nixions. It was really good and a lot more crumb than cake but it felt like an undigested lead weight in my stomach.

I was pretty shot by the time we pulled in with 60 miles. We averaged 15.6 mph which isn't bad for this time of year. I'm glad I took advantage of the good weather and got a long ride in because with the weather we have been having it hard to tell when there will be another day this nice. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Last Winter Ride?

Two weeks into spring and it still feels like winter. The Saturday snow storm did not materialize but it still was in the low 40s for a high. I put a ride on the calendar for Sunday which was slightly warm than Saturday. I decided to do the ride out of Cranbury because I have been doing a lot or rides to the south and wanted something different.

I road to Cranbury from my house and was joined by Laura and Jack. When we got to Village Park there was a larger crowd than expected. I ended up with a bakers dozens of riders including Winter Larry. This is the larges group I have lead in a while. I made up a slightly new route that I haven't done before. I did this because I wanted to try some new roads and also keep the group off balance so they won't ride too far ahead.

The temperature was still in the low 40s and didn't get warmer during the ride. This won't have been too bad expect for the fact that is was very windy and we were riding directly into it. Some of the roads we were riding on were busier than I normally do but being Sunday there were only a few spots that gave us any trouble.

The group stayed together pretty well considering there were a lot of different types of riders. Because of the way I went around Jamesburg it was a long way to the rest stop and we got there with 32 miles into the ride. We stopped at the Wawa on Rt 33 by Woodward Rd. It was packed with a bunch of kids from the indoor soccer field next store but there was enough staff to get us out of there fast.

The wind pick up after we left the rest stop and I was definitely slowing down a little. The last few miles into Cranbury were hard but the last 5 miles home were with a tale wind. By the time I got back to my house I had 57 miles. It was a tough cold ride but hopefully it will be the last winter ride of the season as it looks like the temperatures might be over 60 next week.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

This Ain't Spring!

Spring arrived at 12:15 pm on March 20th as the sun crossed the celestial equator. Usually this means warmer temperatures as the flowers start to push through the soil and the trees start to bud and bloom.  Not this year though, the coming of spring was just the eve of yet another nor'easter. The fourth of the month. March came in like a lion and kicked our ass all month. Warm weather is no where in sight. The blooming trees have been broken by the wet heavy snow that fell over the last few weeks. My dogwood tree is decimated with half its branches gone.The flowers that were pushing up hoping for warm sunshine have been crush by over a foot of heavy snow.

This is the time of year where I can usually start building some more miles in and even start riding after work. The only thing I'm building up is my upper body as I have literally shoveled tons of snow off my driveway (heavy snow is approximately 20 pounds per cubic foot so a 10'x10' driveway with a foot of snow is a ton and my driveway is 40 feet long!). Of course a snowblower would make the job easier but the snow has been too heavy and wet for me to use one. Then after the shoveling there is the clean up of the fallen branches and we are not talking about a bunch of small sticks I'm talking 4-5 inch thick limbs of pine and oak tress.

You would think that all this snow would prevent me from riding but it really didn't because the storms happened in the middle of the week and with the higher sun angle that spring brings there was enough melting to make the roads almost safe. I did spend one weekend riding in Tyler State Park but then I was out on Jim''s ride by the canal and Laura's ride out of MCP. Jim's ride was ball numbingly cold and Laura's was just a little warmer. With the right cloths you can ride in these conditions and get some miles in but it is not very enjoyable riding. The snow can make for some nice scenery but...

 I will be happy when this shit is behind us and I can loose the tights and heavy jacket and feel the sun on my skin.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tough Week

It started with elevated liver enzymes which were high enough to do an ultrasound. The ultrasound found stones and "sludge"in the gall bladder. They weren't causing any issues but if one of the stones blocked the duct in the gall bladder it would rupture and that would be bad and possible terminal. So the operation was scheduled and performed on Wednesday. Everything went well and now my dog is recovering. It was a tough week for her. Having a operation is bad but what is worst for a dog is that there is no way to tell them that they are going to get an operation or even prepare them for the trauma. All they know is that they go to the vet, get and IV put in, go to sleep and them wake up and feel like total shit.

When we got Frisket back from the vet on Thursday the pain killers and other drugs in her system had not entirely worn off so she was loopy and in pain and didn't know what to do with herself. She wanted to lay down and go to sleep but when she sat down or tried to lay down it was painful so she leaned against the wall or my leg and tried to fall asleep. She has to wear a cone around her neck so she doesn't try and remove the stitches. The vet tried to give us a plastic cone but we found a cloth doughnut that is a lot easier for the dog to wear and is easier for them to move around in. 

There is nothing more sad than a dog in pain. My wife and I did what we could to comfort the dog but there really wasn't much we could do to help her.

Friday she was a little better and started eating more. Everyday will be a little better and the vet said she should be back to normal in a couple of weeks. Today is Sunday and she is finally able to rest comfortably

I'm sure now that she can rest and is not in as much pain she will be back to her old self soon. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

This is Going to Suck

February was not as cold as usual but it was the 5th wettest February on record so it was a challenge to get any rides in. As Laura pointed out in her blog last week we have been expanding the conditions that we will ride in but that leads to riding in some non ideal situations. Last week with rain threatening we did a ride out of Mercer Park. The radar was clear when we started and when I checked it half way through the ride but a small cell popped up and as we climbed out of Walnford. It started as some light rain. I knew it would get worst so I shorten the ride and headed back towards the park but the rain got heavy as we went through Allentown. Someone mentioned that it was probably foolish to try to ride with the forecast we had to day. But I think it is better to ride and get a little wet than to sit at home and be pissed off you weren't riding when you see it didn't rain. The rain let up to a mild drizzle by the time I broke off for home and it was warm enough that getting wet didn't give me a chill.

This week we had a nor'easter sideways snow storm all day on Friday. It was warm enough that the snow didn't really stick to the roads but it left a coating of ice and snow on the trees and grass. Although this weekends weather was dry there would be high winds. Most of the Saturday rides got canceled. I decided to do a one way ride to Avon and meet my wife there for lunch. I knew the ride was going to suck but even a bad ride is better than siting inside all day.

At 9am the sun was out and the temperature was just over 40. It didn't feel that bad as I started towards the shore. Because of the sun the roads were mostly dry except some puddles and run off from the melting snow. I planned my route to try and keep me on wooded roads when possible to block the wind. It was coming mostly from the north so it would be a cross wind. Keeping in the woods was a good idea and a bad idea at the same time.

The woods did block some of the wind which was roaring at over 20 mph. However the sun was melting the ice and snow from the trees overhead causing it to fall on the road all around me. I'm not talking about small little pieces of ice and snow I'm talking about large chunks of snow which you could actually feel hit the road. On the way up Stillhouse Rd a 1x2 FOOT piece of snow came off a large branch and broke across my front wheel. If I had be just a little faster it would have hit me on the shoulder, head or back and probably left a bruise.

I managed to dodge most of the big chunks although I had little ones hitting my helmet. A few little pieces actually made it through the holes in the helmet so that I had a few ice cubes on my head. This while fighting a crosswind that was trying to push the bike out from under me. The wind was swirling so even when I occasionally had it at my back pushing me it was still hard to keep the bike straight.

When I got to the shore I had a 4 mile ride up Ocean ave directly into a 25 mph wind. I didn't really enjoy the scenery as I rode with my hands in the drops to get as aerodynamic as I could.

Even spinning it a low gear it was painful. I stopped half way at the bottom of Belmar to take a picture of the monster waves crashing on the beach. I was happy when I finally made it to Avon and could get off the bike. It was definitely one of my harder rides to the beach. The pay off was a good lunch and some even better ice cream at Hoffman's which is probably one of the best home made ice cream shops in NJ. Yes the ride sucked but I got some great ice cream so it was as good as I could do for a cold and windy Saturday.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


I hate in-between weather because it makes it hard to decide what and where to ride. Saturday's forecast was for 35 degree weather will snow late in the day. It was going to be warmer Sunday but there might be snow on the ground and the roads so it might be hard to ride anywhere. I didn't see any posts or emails from anybody about rides. I wanted to get out on the road but Saturday would be too cold, for me, and Sunday might be too snowy. So I watched the weather and on Friday night decided not to decide until Saturday morning.

Saturday morning when I got up the forecast wasn't really any more definite. I know I wanted to do something so since it was too cold to do a road ride I headed to Washington Crossing state park with the mountain bike. The plan was to ride down the NJ of the canal path to Trenton since that is the only part of the trail that I haven't done yet. While I was approaching Washington Crossing I changed my mind and crossed the bridge to the PA side because when I looked at the map on Friday it looked like there were some interesting things down past Trenton on the PA side.

It was actually pretty sunny as I started south. The temperature was just around freezing. I thought that the path might be mushy and puddley because of the recent rain but it there were only a few spots I had to go around some water.

Just south of Yardley I ran into Jack and Dorthy on their morning walk and talked to them for a few minutes. I then continued on towards Trenton. The trail was in good shape most of the way and made for a nice ride but there was nothing really scenic along the way. When I got to the Trenton I took a picture of the crappy skyline of the capital.

I was planning on doing an out and back on the PA side but I realized I could cross over to Trenton and go back the NJ side. I cross over on the Trenton Makes bridge and then had to find the canal trail in Trenton. I did not have a map or GPS with me so I made a few wrong turns before stumbling into the canal.

The canal trail on this side of Trenton is OK but the architecture of the buildings on the canal is post 1960 semi flooded slum and I was happy to get out of the city. The trail was in decent shape and was not very wet so I made good time back towards Washington Crossing. There is not much to see here and I wouldn't ride this part of the trail for the scenery.

When I got back to the car it had warmed up more than I thought it would and was still sunny. I'm glad I got out and did what I did because it snowed just enough Saturday night to make riding on Sunday not possible.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Riding Through the Winter Weather

The past two weeks the weather has been just good enough to get a ride in. Last week it was 25 degrees and just over my minimum ride temperature. It was too cold and windy for a road ride so we rode the canal by Washington's Crossing. We went up the PA side and down the NJ side. The ground was mostly frozen but rutted from people riding after the preview rain so it was a little bumpy going over frozen tire tracks. The way back on the NJ size was mushier as the weather warmed up so was a little tougher ride. I was warm enough as long as I kept moving. The 21 miles we did was just enough to say I've got a ride in. The accumulation of sand and gravel dust turned to cement on the bike so cleaning up was a bit of a hassle.

This Saturday was warmer and good enough to get out on the road. There was a chance of rain in the forecast in the early afternoon but it look I would be able to get a ride in. I went on Tru's ride. Laura started with me from my house and we met the others at Etra. It was a big group which included Jim who is finally back on the bike after having bronchitis. It was good to see him again. We ended up doing a shorter ride than expected as Tru went from Etra to Princeton Junction and back. I didn't want to cross 130 again so I broke off on South Post Rd to head home after a brief stop at the rowing center.

I would have added a loop to do more miles but we went through a patch of rain and I was worried that more would follow. It turned out to be a good decision as it started raining about 20 mins after I got home.

Neither of these rides were great rides and as always at this point in the winter I have cabin fever and want to do more miles. There is only about a month left until the clocks change and things get warmer so although I am happy to get any riding in at this time of year I am looking forward to warmer weather.