Sunday, October 14, 2018

Following Their Lead

I lead four rides in September and two of those were actually official PFW rides. I don't mine leading but I thought I would give some others a chance to lead. The first weekend in Oct I went on Laura's ride from Twin Pines. We did this route to Sergeantsville Even though there was no rain in the forecast it ended up misting and semi raining during most of the ride.

During the ride Jack was telling me of some roads he wanted to do in the area and I told him I was taking the day off on Wednesday so let's do a ride. I asked him to just send me the roads he want to do and I would put a route together. After a few email exchanges Jack decided he would lead the ride. We started in the middle of Ewing and did some urban riding as Jack took us through the neighborhood he grew up in while telling us stories of him riding his Stingray bike. Since this was the first time any of us (Me, Jim, and Ricky) could remember Jack leading we gave him a lot of shit about the route and leading in general because that is what we do. (The hard part of leading is not creating the route but dealing with all the jerks on the ride.) During the ride we decided we were Jack's Jerks since every ride leader needs a name for the people that follow them.

We eventually ended up on the normal roads out of Pennington and made our way over Goat Hill into Lambertville. Here is the route we did. Instead of stopping in Lambertville we stopped in Ringos at the Carousel Deli. The bathroom is a little dirty but they have a good outdoor porch to sit on and decent food and drinks so its not a bad place to stop in this area.

We had 30 miles by the time we got to the stop. Jack didn't really have a clue how much longer the ride would be but guessed in might be close to 60. Jack didn't really plan the route he was old school and just had a piece of paper with hand written direction on it.

From the stop we ended up heading over the Sourlands and back towards Pennington. Jack tried to take a slightly different way back to Pennington that involved two perilous crossing of Rt 31 but because of a road closed we ended riding on 518 for a while and then going back the normal way.

There was a little more urban riding involved to get back to our starting point in Ewing but nothing dangerous. We ended up with 57 miles and I was a little tired at the end especially since it was 85 and humid. It was a different type of ride and not a bad route. I may follow Jack if he decides to lead again.

This Saturday was a rain out. I was suppose to head down to the shore to meet my wife for lunch but decided to do Jum's ride on Sunday instead. The temperature had taken a nose dive over the last couple of days so when I started from Rocky Hill to get a few more miles it was 45 degrees. As I drove up to Rocky Hill I saw Pete and Andrew riding on Canal Rd so I told them to wait for me and the three of us ended up riding to Blackwell Mills together.

Jim's lead his usual ride at a slow B pace with a stop at the Bagel place on 206. It was a nice relaxing ride although I wished it would have warmed up a little more than it did as I was cold after the stop.

Laura, I and Ricky broke off a the Griggstown causeway and I decided to do Coppermine to get another hill in. Ricky decided not to do the hill and Laura took off at the top to head home and maybe get in a metric. . By the time I got back I ended up with just over 43 miles.

I will be with the Philadelphia bike club next weekend for their trip to to Gettysburg so I may not end up leading any rides this month but that is okay as long as I can follow other people on interesting rides. 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Stupid Surprise Hilly Highpoint Ride

Back when I was working on my Best Rides Philadelphia book I spend a long day around Chadds Ford exploring the roads in the area for a couple of routes in the book. Even since then I had wanted to come back to this area because it has some good roads. We had tried to plan a weekend down here a couple of years ago but could never pull it together.  So this past week I sent out an email to the posse to see if they would be interested in a day trip to Delaware. I ended up getting Laura, Ricky, Jack, Jim, and Bob to join me. I'm glad Jim and Bob were able to join us as they have been MIA for the past few rides.

It was a perfect day for a ride with sunny weather and temps in mid 60s. We met at Bordentown and carpooled just over an hour to the starting point which was a parking lot on the Brandywine river next to a covered bridge. We did this route which is a hilly one. There was no one tough hill or long climb but it was continuous and unrelenting set of small hills with only a few miles of flat roads. I brought my Feather instead of my hill climbing Synapse because I rode the Feather the last time I was down this way was able to make it up the hills. I guess I must have been a little stronger then because the first hill we rode up hurt a lot more than I remember.

We had 400 feet of climbing in the first few miles. The hills got easier and I felt better as I warmed up. The route I had mapped out went through Shadowbrook pond and snuff mill. This road looked like a driveway but I knew from google maps that it went to where I wanted to go. I guess we shouldn't have been on this road as by the time we got to the other end there was fence blocking our way out. We just climbed over it quickly and made our get away.

There were some great downhills to go with the climbing. The 2 mile downhill on Hildendale was scenic and fun. Even though it was a little tougher to climb with the Feather I'm glad I had it for the downhills.

The deli that I had planned to stop at around mile 20 is now a Mexican restaurant so we had a bar break and got water and a bathroom break at the gas station across the street.

From there we crossed Rt 1 and continued to follow to roads up and down the terrain as we made our way towards West Chester the only real town in the area. There were some good views of the surrounding country side so Laura and I stopped for some pictures. There were a few bridge outs and a road closed along our route today as a crew was taking down a tree. We were easily able to get around all these which was good because I don't know the roads well enough to know how to get around the detours.

In West Chester we found a gas station with a convenience store which was good enough for break. From there it was on to something stupid that I promised to show the posse. To get there we had to go on roads with a little more traffic that we had seen so far but we made it though without any real problems. I was feeling the strain of all the hills so I stopped to take a gel pack which I probably should have done sooner.

At 4 miles from the end of the ride we got to the stupid monument that I wanted everybody to see. As I got off the bike both legs cramped up and I had to sit down for a couple of minutes to get rid of the cramps.

The stupid monument was a sign and bench at (or pretty close to ) the highest point in Delaware. At 447.5 feet it is the second lowest high point in the US. (Florida is the lowest at 345 ft). My GPS had 453 ft which is with in the margin of error of my GPS. I took the required picture like I did for all my NJ highpoint rides. As well as a picture of the actual sign.

It was then a quick ride on a bike lane on Rt 92 and a long downhill back to our starting point. I stopped for a picture of Smith's Bridge on the way back.

I cramped again in the parking lot putting the bikes away but was fine on the drive back to Bordentown and felt fine once I got home. It probably didn't help that I gave blood on Monday. It was definitely a hilly ride. According to my GPS I had almost 3100 ft of climbing. Jim had almost 3900 ft. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

I haven't been able to get away for a bike trip this year so it was fun to take a day trip to do something different and somewhat stupid with the posse because I do stupid good.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Long Rain

After getting rained out last week I finally got my Cocoluxe ride in this weekend. Its seems this summer the rain has been persistent and endless. This past week was a dreary rain filled week and I was concerned that it would spill over into Saturday but it didn't. Saturday turned out to be cloudy but no chance of rain. A few of my regulars had to beg off the ride so it ended up being just me Ricky and Pete.

I have started from this location 6 or 7 times and have been tweaking to route to find some good road, good downhills and minimal traffic. This is a hilly area so you can't avoid climbing but what I tried to do is to do the easier more gentle hills. Of course the climbing starts 3/4 of a mile from the start and doesn't really stop for 20 miles but its mostly in the 3-4% range with a few downhills along to way to recover.

Even though Ricky was on his new old 2001Cannondale (Sorry Jim forgot to get a picture) he was still faster than me up the hills. Pete wasn't far behind him and I was bringing up the rear. We did this route. This route was the same as last years as I couldn't find any way to improve it.

The longest climb of the day was up Rockaway and Guinea Hollow. In 6 miles we gained about 600 feet. It's a slow steady climb so its not a problem and the scenery is good. The climbing continued until we got to Long Valley where we had a screaming downhill before getting to our rest stop at Quick Check.

We had a few more hills to climb on the way back with a few more good downhills including a few we could have taken air on if we wanted to. Besides the roads by the lake at the end of the ride all the other roads were pot hole free. I think I called out "Hole" maybe once during the ride.

For 3000 ft of climbing I felt pretty good at the end of the ride and stopped by Cocoluxe for a couple brownies on my way out of Gladstone.

I know there is more rain ahead as the remnants of Florence are headed this way but hopefully the weekends will remain clear so we can enjoy the fall weather. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Swamp Ride

The wasn't actually a ride through any real swamp but a ride along Long Swamp Rd and through Turkey Swamp hence the name. After last weeks hilly ride and because Laura's hill bike still had some tire issues I decided to do a flatter ride this week. I didn't feel like a pineland ride or heading to the shore on labor day weekend so I came up with a ride that went south of New Egypt and through Cassville. Here is a link to the route.

The weather was more humid than last week but the temps were still in the low 70s so was comfortable riding weather. Joe, Chris, Andrew, the new Jim, Laura, and Ricky joined me for the ride. We fought a strong east wind as we wound our way through New Egypt and to the first rest stop Emery's. Emery's is a blueberry farm with a small store. They don't have the best facilities but the sell some tasty baked goods.

From there we road towards Cassville where we stopped at the Russian church to take a photo to send to plain Jim who wasn't able to join us for the ride. Hopefully we will see him on a ride soon.

From there we made our way to and through Turkey swamp. I planned a rest stop in Millstone where I saw a new coffee shop/bistro where Roy's use to be. It was closed for the holiday weekend so we ended up at Vesuvius Pizza across the street.

The weather was still a little overcast and just below 80 degrees so I still felt good the last few miles back and wasn't getting dehydrated like I did fore the PFW ride. I got back home with 70 miles and could have done more if I wanted to. Laura followed me home because she was feeling good enough to stretch the ride to a century and wanted the extra miles. I suspect she completed this one with out any problems.

The only regular missing from the ride was Jack. He actually registered for the ride but based on the picture I got it looks like he is busy stuffing his face.

He is also somewhere in the mid west on his way to Colorado so I really didn't think he was coming anyway.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

True Lies

The fact that I have a ride called the "Lying Bastard" that I look forward to every year no longer seems strange to me. Lying doesn't seem to have the same impact it use to any more since there seems to be a lot more of it now. In fact someone this week said "truth isn't truth" so maybe I will just call the ride "The Bastard" in the future since that is the way most of my fellow rides refer to me now.

If you are unfamiliar with how my Lake Nockamixon ride became the Lying Bastard ride you can read this post. The short version is I sometimes under represent the difficulties of some of the climbs and that seems to drive some people to profanity. At this point however after doing this ride for over five years most people know what to expect and just use this ride to abuse my character.

The hot and humid weather had finally broken so the weather for this years ride was perfect, sunny, cool and low humidity. I had the usual gang join me, Jack, Ricky Laura and Blake and even had some unexpected people like Joe M and Paul I. There was also a new person on the ride Laurie who was not fazed by the title of the ride.

We started from Frenchtown and did this route. The ride starts with a slow easy climb to Ottsville on Headquarters Rd. Since there is a bridge out there is almost no traffic and except for the part near the bridge out (which is easy to ride through) the road is in decent shape.

After Ottsville we road along the ridge where we got some good views of the valley. The roads aren't flat but it is more rolling than hilly.

Some where along the way Laura had a flat. Her fourth one this year, even though she just put on new tires. I saw something fly off her tire as I heard it go pssst and go flat so she definitely hit something in the road. So this was a case of bad luck. A close examination of her tire showed a tiny hole in the side wall. A new tube and a dollar bill to patch the hole and we were on our way to Perkasie our rest stop. I had to put the rest stop early in the ride at mile 20 because there aren't may places around the lake to stop. Our usual coffee shop was out of business so we had to do with a CVS and Dunk'n Donuts.

After the rest stop I put in the FU hill for the ride because there always has to be one steep hill nobody was expecting just to make sure someone calls me a bastard during the ride. This climb was not as hard as expected. It was over 10% but less than 15% and was short. It was probably the best way to get over the ridge to the north side of the lake.

 From there we road through the roads and forests on the north side of the lake. These are quiet roads with no traffic and a great place to ride. There are no flat spots and you are always either climbing or descending so it is a bit draining. There are even a few annoying little climbs along the way. I think part of why people think this ride is harder than described is that there is really no easy spots that we can just cruse along on.

The people on the ride kept asking when we are going to see the lake and I had to remind them that the ride description said this would be a ride around the lake. There was no mention of actually seeing it. However we did get a glimpse of the north east side where see saw a radio controlled boat ripping around the lake.

We had another quick rest stop at a Turkey Hill store on 413 before heading downhill to Frenchtown. Last year I took Quarry Rd back which some gravel (OK foot deep gravel for a mile) that some people complained about because of like almost killing themselves and stuff. I don't remember it being that bad but I took a slightly different way back that didn't require go over gravel. We did go down the Red Circle of Death (Red Cliff Rd) again which is a some what dangerous but fun downhill before making our way back to Frenchtown.

The TRUTH about this ride is that it is a good route if you don't mind a few hills. This ride is FUN because of the healthy dis-R-E-S-E-P-E-C-T (RIP Aretha) and playful banter that come with riding with my somewhat insane friends. I'm happy to be called a Lying Bastard if we can do more rides like this. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

PFW Metric Event Ride

The first Saturday in August is usually the day of the PFW event. The club decided not to do the event this year because of falling ridership and the hassle of staffing it. I agree with the decision but still wanted to ride an event type route so I put a few routes together and posted them to the PFW Facebook account to see if I could get some other leaders to join me. I was thinking it might be like a adhoc all paces ride but it didn't really work out as I expected. I think the main problem was the weather.

I put posted a metric for Saturday and Laura posted a Century because she always does a century on the day of the event. We ended up getting rained out on Saturday so had to reschedule for Sunday. Like most of the PFW event days it was a hot and sunny day. I rode down from my house to Mercer park. Chris and Linda were already there and we were soon join by Andrew then Laura, Jack, and Ricky rode in. The last person to arrive was Sergey. Because of the heat Linda wasn't sure if she was going to do the century or metric but since we were going to ride together until mile 45 she didn't have to decide now.

It in the mid 70s when we started but the humidity made it feel a lot hotter. The route I had planned was similar to a century I had done a couple of years ago. I made some modification so that we would pass by enough Wawa's and other stores to keep us well fed.

We maintained a nice relaxed pace as we went through the Assumpink and wound our way down to the Wawa in Jackson. The first stop was only 21 miles into the ride but I wanted to stop early because I knew it was going to be a long ride and because I know a lot of the other people already had a 8-10 miles before the start.

From there we headed to Cassville and then on to New Egypt for our second stop. The humidity had decreased but the sun was still hot. Besides the water in my camelback I also had a bottom of pure Gatorade that I was drinking through out the ride so I actually felt OK at the 45 mile mark. Not good enough to do a century but I knew I shouldn't have a problem making it back.

New Egypt is where the group split up. I headed north with metric ride and Laura, Linda (who decided to do the century) and Ricky headed south for an extra 35 miles. When I created the metric route I decided to come back Hill Rd. In hindsight it probably wasn't the best idea putting the hills near the end of a long ride. The group spread out a little but nobody had a problem with the hills.

By the time we got to Allentown I was starting to feel the heat and miles. I asked if anybody needed a stop but we decided just to grind out the last 8 miles to the end. We actually did make a quick stop in Allentown as I saw Ron by Woody's so we stopped for a few minutes to talk to him.

As we crossed 130 and rode on Meadow Rd I was starting to fade a little. I had drank as much Gatoraid as my stomach could handle and taken a clif shot. It definitely helped me make it through the ride but I had weird sugar buzz on while feeling dehydrated.

I led everybody back to the park then headed for home. Jack followed me to get a few more miles. He had ridden in from home and needed the extra miles to get a century in. I was happy to get 74 mile in. I cramped up about a mile from my house but was able to push through it and get home.

It felt really good to finally be off the bike and in air conditioning. After Jack left I had to sit down on the floor for 15 mins just to get enough energy to clean up and get something to eat.

It took me a hour and a half to be able to be truly functional again. I'm glad I didn't try for a century especially after hearing that Laura cramped up at the end of the ride. In heat like we had today I can only stay hydrated for so long so 74 was more than enough for me.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Everybody I Know is Quite INSANE!!!

I jokingly refer to the group of people I ride with as "The insane bike posse" because they come on my rides complain they don't like it then come back for more. I think the joke might be on me because I think some of the people are actually insane. 

Please play this song from the Queens of the Stone age as you read the rest of the post. 

I missed Laura's Belmar ride last weekend because I just didn't have the time to take that long of a ride. A day after the ride I get some bullshit legalize email from Jack explaining that because I wasn't present during the ride and did not bless then with the Holy Kickstand, I was to blame for all their problems.

Apparently Jack had a flat tire, loose bottle cage and pump and wanted to blame me for his bad luck.(I can't imagine how much other shit they must have talked about me) I replied to the email stating that if they believed that a plastic kickstand wrapped in some fancy rope had any magical powers then they were truly insane. If it had any powers, I pointed out, I would had made it rain on their asses. Laura responded and said that it did rain on them and by pure coincidence it happen to be while they were passing close to my house. It is an interesting coincidence but on a day that had a 60-80% chance of rain it was just dumb luck and not divine intervention. I mean come on if I had that power I would use to solve some real problems.

Despite my arguments they still believe that the Holy Kickstand and I have some magical power which is totally insane. Then there is the fact that for my Bulls Island ride this week neither Jack or Laura could make it and they both wanted to take the blame for any random problems we had on the ride which is more than a little strange (like they somehow caused this dump truck to run off the road?). And I had to make sure to send Laura a picture of all the people on the ride giving her the finger because that makes her feel loved.

There are a lot more things that make me believe that these people are truly insane. Now, I may not be the picture of perfect mental health but on a scale of guy putting foil on his head to keep aliens from reading his thoughts to person able to function in the real world I think I'm pretty normal. However the fact that I continue to attract and even somewhat enjoy these insane people makes me concerned that their insanity may eventually rub off on me.