Sunday, May 21, 2017

Rainy Riding

Looking through my posts for this spring I realized that rain has been a supporting character in most of them. It seems like this year has been rainier than other years, at least on the weekends. Last weekend I did a ride out of Mansfield down to Chatsworth and back. We didn't get wet but I did have to move the ride to Sunday instead of Saturday because of an all day rain storm.

Because the ride was on mother's day I didn't get a lot of people joining me. Only Jack and Laura showed up. Before the ride we were stopped by a cop in the parking lot to get advice for what kind of road bike to buy. Its hard to give someone everything they need to know to buy a good bike in a few minutes but hopefully we gave him some good pointers.

The ride itself was long and windy mostly out of the west. It was sunny but mid 50s and didn't really warm up much during the ride. We made our way through Pemberton and eventually to a quick bathroom stop at Lebanon state forest where we meet a retired gentleman who had an interesting story about his dog accidentally getting high.

From there we made a quick stop in Chatsworth at general store that has been open for 151 years. I have never stopped here because it was a real general store where you buy grocery and household items but wanted to see it before it closes down in a month.  It was then 10 miles into a stiff breeze to get the Nixon's. The one and only please to stop in the deep pinelands. At Nixon's we ran into Mary and Tru who were doing a 70 mile loop. 

On the way back I went on some different roads to try them out and add miles. One of them lead us past an airport/playground/hotel which is were airplane geeks spend their weekends. In Smithville I uncharacteristically went around a bridge out. It felt wrong but wanted to prove I don't have to go over every bridge out I see.

By the time we got back we had 68 miles. It felt good to do a long ride after the hills of Danville.

This past Saturday the weather report looked good. Laura was planning a long ride to Belmar to take advantage of the weather. I couldn't go because I had to get home early. I could of  went with them and then turned around after 25 miles but wanted to do some hills to be in better shape for Ithaca.

I planned to go to Rocky hill and do a quick 40 miles in the Sourlands. On Saturday morning when I woke up it was cloudy which was some what expected but when I looked at the radar there was some light rain to the west. It looked north of where I was going and was moving north east and looked light so I thought I would be OK. I got Pete to join me and he meet me in the parking lot at 518 and Canal.

It was getting darker and there were a few sprits of rain as we when over the new bridge on 518. By the time we crossed 206 it was a little steadier. I hopped it would stay light and we would just punch through it. As we climbed up Hollow Rd it was getting heavier and the road and my shoes were getting very wet. We meet someone coming down from Lindbergh who said it was a sluice up ahead.  That's when Pete turned for home. I decide to keep going because at this point I was already wet and it looked a little better to the south.

I continued along the ridge south where the rain lighten up a little. Riding in the rain is not a good feeling because your shorts feel like wet diapers and your feet feel like you are wearing cold wet rags. Still if you aren't too cold and the visibility isn't too bad you can accept the fact that you are going to be riding wet and just keep going.

Obviously many people were surprised by the weather because I saw a LOT of bikers riding and everyone I passed was like WTF is with this weather.

I made my way to Stony Brook and down into Hopewell. I then made my way to Bayberry and around Princeton on Pretty Brook, Stuart, Cherry Valley and Terhune eventually making my way back to Rocky Hill. After I came down Stony Brook the rain had mostly let up but the roads were still wet. I ended up doing a totally different route than planned but did manage 37 miles and 2000 feet of climbing.

I did get the miles and climbing I wanted but the ride totally sucked. Hopefully I have paid my dues to the rain gods and I won't have to worry about the rain for my next few rides.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Don't Let Ombrophobia Ruin Your Weekend

Rain can ruin a biking trip.......if you let it.

Ombrophobia is fear of rain and looking at this weekends weather forecast of 80-90% chance of rain each day made me fear that the spring's Philly Bike Club(BCP) would be filled with raining days and no riding. Ed, Jack and I exchanged emails about the weather and final driving arrangements. Because of the 100% chance of raging thunderstorms on Friday we decided to leave later in the morning. Ed and I would meet at Jacks at 10am and drive to Danville. Or that was a least the plan until Ed called at 9:55 am and said he was just leaving his place. Jack and I said we would wait for him since it was pouring rain and there wasn't any reason to hurry out there but Ed decided to just drive himself out there.

When we left it was raining really hard which made the drive slow as we made our way up 31 on our way to 78 and then up to 80. About a hour into the ride I got a call from Ed. He said he was turning around and going home because he forgot money, medicine and some other important things. A half hour later I got a text from Jim and TEW that they had car troubles and were turning around. So the five people going to Danville was now down to 2.

A half hour out of Danville the rain slowly stopped. Jack and I stopped in the town of Blomsburg for a nice lunch in a local deli. This area is filled with small college towns from the 1800s that are well preserved. After lunch we made our way the last 10 miles to Danville and the hotel. The rain had stopped the roads were drying. A quick look at the radar showed we had a few hours before it might rain again. Despite the forecast we were actually going to get a ride in. A few minutes later I got another text from Jim that they had not actually turned around and were about 20 mins away.

Once Jim got there we quickly jumped on the bikes and headed north. I had picked out a ride to the Montour preserve because it seemed like an interesting place to go see. I had not really studied the route that much but it was a typical Tom ride. There was a steep climb a mile from the start, we had to go around a bridge out, and some dirt was involved. PERFECT. The Montour preserve was a small reservoir and nature preserve that made a good picture stop even with overcast skies.

During the ride we crossed paths a young woman who was following the same route. When we got to a gravel road that the cue sheet had told us to take she caught up to us. Going down gravel road to a river didn't seem like a good idea with all the rail we just had so I looked at the map and found another way. The woman, who's name turned out to be Laura, came along. She was a good substitute for the real Laura and a little nicer. She had just started biking a couple of years ago and didn't think she could keep up with us but she was stronger than she thought as she push over the last climb in the middle of the pack. 

We got back to the hotel with 26 miles and 1800 ft of climbing and didn't get wet.

Other bikers had arrived and were riding. As is usual for a BCP trip the meeting room of the hotel was turned into a room full of snacks and drinks and a general gathering place for all the bikers. They also served a buffet dinner there on Friday. Before dinner I got a text from Ed that said he wasn't going to make it out for the weekend.  Its too bad he did make it out but it did mean I had a room to myself

After dinner I poured over the cue sheets that were handed out and looked at the future weather. The forecast wasn't great 60% chance from 9am onward but I was encouraged by the future radar as it showed there might be a window in the morning to get a least a few miles in. I had 5 different routes planned out from 22 to 47 miles.

When I woke up in the morning it was cloudy but bright and not raining. The radar showed it would be clear until at least 10:30am. Jack and Jim were both at breakfast a 7am and so we talked and decided to leave at 8 am to get as much riding in before the rain. I decided to do a covered bridge ride which I had combine with another ride to make it a little longer and avoid some of the busier roads. At 41 miles it would mean taking a chance getting caught in the rain but wanted to get as many miles in as possible.

The first part of the ride was mostly down hill as we made our way towards the Susquehanna river and the town of Blomsburg. A biker started following us from the parking lot of the hotel. I initial thought he was doing his own thing until he made the first turn with us. It turned out he was looking for group to ride with and thought we looked like a group he could hang with. He's name was Jack so we now had a backup Jack in case we lost one along the way.  He was a good rider and fit right in.

 We when through our first covered bridge before we crossed the river into Catawissa. Then it was a constant 8% climb to get into a valley with a couple more covered bridges. This was beautiful country. It was mostly overcast but with did have a few moments of sun and blue sky and stopped a few times for pictures

The terrain was mostly rolling farmlands and rivers with a few campgrounds thrown in but almost no traffic at all. We eventually climbed out of the valley back to the Susquehanna as we road back towards the hotel. It was around 11 am and we ran into some moderate rain. It only lasted 5 mins. New Jack then had a flat but we stayed with him anyway to help him change it.

A couple miles later we were at the famous ice cream shop where Jim treated us (because it was his 62 birthday? (I thought he was suppose to get stuff on this day)). In any case the ice cream was good and we got friended by a talkative local.

We crossed back over the river through Danville where a street fair was going on.

We had to ride the sidewalks for a while to get around the crowd. Jim had a flat half way through town which he changed quickly before we made it back up the hill top the hotel. By the time we got back it was just noon and were on borrowed time. I thought it would be raining by now but it held off for another 15 mins before it actually started so we got lucky getting 41 miles and 2500 ft of climbing in.

On Saturday night we all got in a bus and went to Sunbury to the Edison hotel for dinner. The food was good and we meet a few other bikers who had done the covered bridge ride (but went out later and got wet). We also got a chance to sing happy birthday to Jim when he got a surprise chocolate cake.

We got back late. I check the weather before bed and it wasn't looking good for Sunday. When I woke up it was already raining and from the radar it didn't look like it would let up before noon. Jack and I meet at breakfast and decided just to head home but I suggested a quick side trip.

One of the women at dinner was a covered bridge aficionado who said that the only twin covered bridge in the US was only a few miles away so I found where it was and decided to see what the hell a twin covered bridge is. As the picture at the top and bottom of the blog show it is just two covered bridges that connect to each other. This is no longer a functional bridge but a picnic area. Interesting but after we few pictures we headed home in the rain.

Even though we didn't get a ride in on Sunday it was a good trip. We got two good rides in, have some new stories to tell and hung out with some other bikers for the weekend. The hotel was only about 70% full so I know lot of people didn't show up for the trip which is their lost. As experience has told us weather forecasts are somewhere between 0% -100% accurate (closer to 0% most of the time) so you can't trust the forecast. If you have a tripped plan you shouldn't cancel because of a bad forecast you should go and see what happens. Sometimes you will get wet somethings you will be lucky but no matter what you will always have fun.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weather Report

This weekends weather report was as accurate as this years presidential election predictions but before I get to this weekend ride let me share a few Easter pictures.

Each year we host Easter dinner for our families and my wife likes to do something creative for dessert. This year she made two desserts. The first one was cannoli filling inside a cup of pie crust that was covered in chocolate. They looked like eggs in a basket and tasted great.

The second one was crushed Oreo's and pudding in a cup with a orange chocolate covered strawberry making it look like carrots in the dirt.

Because I spent all of last weekend getting ready for and then hosting Easter I didn't get much riding in. I was looking forward Laura's ride and the initial weather report said sun to clouds on Saturday and torrential rain on Sunday. Even as late as Friday night Saturday still looked good.

When I got up Saturday morning it was already cloudy and dark. I checked the weather and there was already rain on the radar. It was waves of patchy rain so it might had been possible to get a ride in with out getting wet but the more I looked at it and the hourly forecast I decide I would get wet if I went riding and didn't feel like doing that especially since Sundays weather looked much better.

I checked my email and saw Jacks message asking me if I was still going on Laura's ride and told him nope. I didn't see any email from Laura or an update on her blog so I guessed she was still going despite the weather. According to her blog they did get a little wet and muddy so I think I made the right choice. I agree with her venn diagram that we are sometime crazy or stupid enough to ride in the rain but some of us are not as crazy as others and we had an open schedule on Sunday. I did feel bad bailing on the ride but don't think I'm a fink according to the official definition. It is nice to be missed though.

Because I bailed on Saturdays ride I led an off the books adhoc ride on Sunday out of Lambertville. Pete (who also bailed on Laura's ride) and Jack joined me. We did this route. It was a variation of my covered bridge ride. I wanted something hilly to get ready for weekend in Danville with the Philly bike club.

It was sunny and cool as we started our climb out of Lambertville. I wound around and eventually ended up at the middle of Federal Twist. We stopped for a moment of silence for the missing bone fragment from Jacks back. The good news, we all made it down the hill with out a crash this time. Maybe later in the season we will come down the entire hill.

At Bull's island we headed over to the PA side of the Delaware where we climbed Wismer and went over a couple of covered bridges as we made our way up and down the hills. Besides Wismer there was nothing really steep or hard but this was the most climbing I had done this year.

We took a much deserved break in Frenchtown where the sun was still out and warming us up.We were still feeling pretty good so we climbed out of Frenchtown instead of bailing out on 29. We went up Horseshoe Bend Rd which was a longer climb then I remembered. We spent some time on the ridge before coming down to Seargentville. There were some more climbing but we also had some nice downhills.

My original route had us going back to Lambertville down Alexauken Rd but Jack wanted some more miles so we did a loop through Mount Airy and did more climbing than I wanted to do. When we got back to Lambertville we had 54 miles in and about 3800. It was longer and more climbing than I was planning but I felt ok and should help me get ready for the trip. Hopefully the weather report will be more accurate for next weekend so we can get the full insane posse riding together again.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Blowing in the Wind

Today I did another off the books ride. I am going to Danville with the Philadelphia bike club in the beginning of May so I wanted to get some hill training in as Danville is a hilly area. We started from Rocky Hill and went to White House Station and back. We did this route which I have done before. This route doesn't have any killer hills but there are a lot of gradual ups and downs so it feels tougher than the 2800 feet that it was.

What really made this ride harder than it should of bin was the wind which was a constant 20 mph with gust a lot higher. For the first part of the ride it felt like we were riding up hill into the wind with no relief. Jack, Pete and Bob joined me for the ride. Pete pealed off after we got to the top of the Sourlands as he had to get home early.

As we went up Cider Mill we saw a van stopped by a field of cows. I thought the person in the passenger seat was stopping to take some pictures of the cows but as we got closer the person in the passenger seat turned out to be a little dog. So as best as I could figure the guy driving had taken his dog out for a ride to see some cows. It may seem strange but as a person who named their blog after their dog I applaud it.

By the time we got to White House Station we were pretty shot as we had been riding 30 miles into the wind with close to 2000 feet of climbing. Its early in the season so none of us have any reserves to pull extra energy from when a ride is harder than expected.

The way back was much easier since we had a tail wind most of the way. There were a few rollers on the way back but the way I had design the route there was no real tough climbs.

We were dragging in the last 10 miles but I made it back with out cramping and we came in at a reasonable pace. So although the wind made the ride harder than expected it felt good to be able to do some hills and start the process of getting back in riding shape.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Early Season Pineland Cruise

Before I talk about the ride I did today I want to tell you about a play I saw this past Wednesday. It was called "The Play That Goes WRONg". It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. It is a play within a play about an amateur troupe putting on a murder mystery play and as the title suggest everything goes horrible wrong. It is pure slapstick in the Faulty Towers/Monty Python tradition. I laughed loudly for 2 hour straight. We saw this play the week before it opened and I expect once this opens it and the review are in tickets are going to be hard to get. So if you want to see a great comedy on Broadway I suggest you get tickets soon.

Today ride was an off the books ride. I forget to put my rides in this month so I sent out an email to the usual crowd after getting an email from Laura about getting the band back together. I wanted to continue to build some miles an am not ready for any real hills so decided to do a Pineland Cruise. I moved the ride to Sunday because of wet condition on Saturday.

I had 5 of the regular join me. Laura, Joe, Peter, Jack and Chris. It was just under 50 at the start with a brisk south wind. The wind helped us get down to Browns Mill quickly. We skipped the usually stop at this Wawa as we headed through the pinelands to Vincetown were we stopped at the other Wawa.

Before the stop, we stopped at a park to use a portal potty and watch an RC helicopter do some aerobatics.

The trip back north from Vincetown was into the wind. We hit an bridge out on Smithville road but as usually we just went through it. It ended up being an easy bridge out as the bridge was actually mostly intact expect for a small piece on the left side that missing. I expect that the bridge will need a major overhaul so it may become unpassable for most of this season.

I got a little tired towards the end of the ride as we road mostly into the wind for the last 20 miles but we came in with 53 at 15.7 mph so it was a good early season ride to help build some miles.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ron (and Jackie) are BACK !

Like Jim I was feeling a little too sluggish to do Laura's Hill Slug ride. I wanted a very relaxed pace, a few more miles and less hills. Jack had emailed me earlier in the week looking for a slow flat ride so he joined me.

He met me at my house at 9am and the plan was to do a New Egypt run but when he got to my house he said that he had run into Jackie at the gym and that she and Ron were going to be riding out of MCP at 10am. I then changed the route and do a loop through Cranbury, where we ran into a couple of people Jack knew, and then headed back to the park .

We got to the boat house where Ron and Jackie were suppose to start just before 10am but didn't see them. Out of the corner of my eye I did see two bikers on the road heading towards the skating rink so Jack and I pursued them and once we got close enough we realized it was Ron and Jackie.

For various reasons they haven't been riding much for the past couple of years but are now getting back on the bike. This was the first ride of the year for them so they were taking it slow and were only doing a short ride. Jack and I hung out with them for about 10 miles. It was good to see them again and catch up. When we left them they said they were going to work on getting back to being able to ride with the club so we should seem them on our rides later in the season.

After Jack and I left them I improved a route that took us through Allentown and Clarksburg. We ended up with 51 miles and 1300 feet of climbing at a 15 mph average. It was about 5 miles more than my legs wanted to do but it felt good to be our on the road again and do some real miles. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pennypack 2017

I had a ride planned for this Saturday but decided to move it to Sunday because of the light rain. Because of the snow this past week I didn't want to ride on the road and decided to go to Pennypack park. This is my go to place when it snows because they plow the bike trail and it is a scenic place to ride.

I got Chris to join me this year. When we got to the parking lot gate it was locked so we had to park on the street. I was concerned that the path might not had been plowed because the parking lot was still full of snow but after we crossed the street and walked over a mound of snow we found the cleaned path.

However as we got further in we found that parts of the path were still covered with snow mostly in the hills in the first couple of miles. The snow that fell Tuesday was mixed with a lot of ice so I guess the plows had a problem clearing parts of the trail. This meant we had to walk up a few hills. This and a problem with Chris's bike slowed us down a little but after the first few miles the path got clearer and Chris managed to ride through his problem.

We continued on until we got to a closed bridge about 7 mile into the ride. Last year we made our way over this bridge and kept going to the Delaware but because the condition of the paths we decided to turn around.

The way back was a little easier as the snow had gotten softer but we still have to walk over a few spots. Out of the 13 miles we did we probably walked at least 2 miles. I didn't really mind as the walking as it was warm and it made it easier to take pictures.

It ended up being a shorter ride than expected but a short ride is better than not riding at all.