Thursday, July 30, 2020

LHT Under Construction

I took the day off work Thursday just for a break and decided to get the mountain bike out and ride the LHT trail. Last year when I did the GAP trail I really enjoyed riding the mountain bike in warm weather since I mostly ride it in the winter. I heard that they made some changes including a new bridge at Rosedale park so I was interested in trying out the new section of the trail.

To get a few more miles in I actually started at Alexander Rd in Princeton and did this route and was joined by Jack. We headed down the D&R and then switched over to the LHT just before getting to 295. When we went through the ballpark by the Lawrenceville school there was tape across the entrance saying the path was closed but we rode around it and there was nothing blocking the trail. However when we turned into the school itself there was major construction and the normal asphalt roads were gone and there were piles of dirt and debris every where. It looks like they are totally reconfiguring the roads at the school.

We rode along the dirt paths where the trail use to go but ran into a fence that went across the whole campus. Jack found a gate with a chain on it but no lock so we opened it and went through and got the hell out of there.

Back on the path as we approached the area by Rosedale lake there were a couple of new paved sections where the path gets muddy when its wet. When we made the turn off to go to Rosedale lake there was another sign that said the path was close. Of course we went around it but didn't get very far.

There is another big construction project they are doing on that downhill that approaches the lake. The first curve was always a little squirrelly so it looks like they are taking that out and are putting in some kind of bridge. So back we went and used the other path to go round the south side of the lake then took Blackwell to Federal City to get back to Rosedale park.

Once back in the park and on the trail we found the new bridge and section of trail which we actually had to ride over the grass to get to because they were doing yet more construction of the new path that leads from the lake to the new section of the trail

The new bridge is nice as is the new section of trail which is twisty and turney and has a lot of small bridges to cross. Its a good addition to the trail and gets rid of that messy part going through the horse farm. This part of the trail will be a lot better once they fix all the other parts getting to it.

The rest of the trail was construction free and I got back to Princeton before 11am and before it got really hot. I'm not sure when I will do the LHT trail again but hopefully there will be less construction next time.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Peace Valley

It continues to be a hot and humid summer. That is why when Laura asked if I wanted to join her on a 80 mile ride with Neil I said no, NO and sorry but NOOOOO! I just don't enjoy riding anything over a metric especially in hot weather. Instead I lead my own ride to Peace Valley and got a few of the other regulars who are not fond of long rides to join me including Mike who is back from his adventures on the seven seas. We ended up doing this route.

Although it was in the mid 70s when we started it felt pretty humid. When I got to Bulls Island the parking lot was almost full as there was a time trial going on. I gathered everybody and we headed over the bridge to the PA side to start the ride. The way up to Doylestown is a slow climb up Fleecy Dale, which could use a little paving, but it is a gentle climb. Mike met us at the top of the hill and continued on with us into Doylestown.

At the outskirts of Doylestown Mike noticed a ticking sound coming from his back week. We stopped to take a look at it. I thought it might be the brake rubbing against the wheel but on closer inspection it turned out that his brake pads had actually worn though part of his rim. He had probably between 1 and 200 miles left before his rim would come apart so we left him on the road for his wife to come and pick up.

As we made our way through the middle of Doylestown we saw a lot of tables on the side walk as well as a couple of streets closed and full of outdoor shopping and dinning I guess as a way to keep the economy working here.

Because it is a Tom ride there was a bridge out at the Peace Valley covered bridge.

But it was no problem getting over the bridge there was enough of it there to walk over the metal grid above the safety net. Then it was on to Peace Valley which was more crowded than normal during the pandemic. We stopped at the top of the dam to take a couple of pictures before heading up hill to Perkasie.

As part of the route to Perkasie I was planned on going through the Pearl S Buck estate. The map showed that the road went through to where I needed to go but all we found was dead ends once we got into the estate. This caused some of the people with me to question my navigation abilities for some reason. In any case after a brief detour we were back on course. The roads up here on the ridge by Perkasie are have some nice views and are fun to ride. I might come back in the fall and do a ride just on the ridge.

We made a stop in Perkasie at the CVS before working our way back over a few hills and back to Bulls Island which was still crowded. It was close to 90 degrees  by the time we got back. Even through it was a hot hilly ride I wasn't close to cramping but I'm glad I decided not to do the 80 miles.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

A Night Out

There haven't been a lot of options if you wanted to go out for a night with most of the entertainment options still closed. You could go to a restaurant that has tables outdoors but with temperatures near 90 degrees you would be sweating all over your food.

The week I went out twice to try and capture some more pictures of the comet. On Tuesday I went to the Union Trail parking lot on Sharon Rd to get a view. The comet is now visible about an hour after sunset so I didn't have to get early to see it.

The comet was easy to see although dimmer than it was on Sunday. The dotted line below and to the right of the comet is an airplane with its strobe light.

While looking at the comet there was a pass of the Space Station overhead and I managed to get a picture of it streaking through the sky.

Saturday was another clear night and so I headed to Conover field on South Post Rd and invited a few of the posse to join me. The comet was easy to see with binoculars but it was definitely dimming as it is getting further away from the sun. The three pictures below are from Sunday, Tuesday and Saturday and show the difference in brightness.

Early Sunday Morning

Tuesday Evening

Saturday night

Still it was fun to hang out for a few hours with some friends. We also took a quick look at Jupiter and Saturn as I had my telescope with me. So although there are currently limited options for entertainment at least this week nature provided a reason to spend a few nights out.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Night of the Comet

It isn't too often that there is a naked eye comet in the sky but, as of now, comet NEOWISE is visible in the morning sky. There were three new comets that astronomers were tracking that could become bright enough to see but two of them, ATLAS and SWAN, broke up as they got close to the Sun and never got bright enough to be easy to see.

Comet NEOWISE however survived its swing around the Sun and actually became brighter than predicted. It is one of the brightest comets in the past 25 years. It was visible in the early morning about an hour before sunrise so Sunday morning I left my house at 3:45 am to try and get a look at it and maybe get some pictures. To see the comet you had to find a place that was dark and had an unobstructed view of the north east horizon. This meant I had to drive some where to see it. I ended up by the lake in the Assumpink which, despite the road closed signs, was not really closed.

It took me a few minutes to find the best place to see the comet. It was just visible to the naked eye and got easier to see as my eyes adjusted to the dark. Through binoculars it was very bright and it was easy to see the full tail. I set up my camera up on a tripod and took a couple of long exposure pictures. I couldn't really see how well the picture turned out until I got home but if you look at the left middle of the pictures above you can clearly see the comet.(Click on the pictures themselves to get a full screen view)

In one of the pictures I got lucky and caught a meteor streak just to the right of the tree.

 I did zoom in to the comet to get a close up view where you can better see the nucleus and tail.

 I really don't have the best equipment to get pictures like the ones that are shown here but am happy with what I was able to produce with my Canon sx740.

While I was out by the lake I also used the 40x zoom to get a few pics of the Moon which weren't bad. Here is one of my better ones.

Any since I was up early I got a picture of the sunrise.

I really didn't want to get up early on this Sunday since it is one of the few days I can sleep late but it was worth it to get a glimpse of the comet.

In about a week the comet might be visible an hour after sunset so if you want to try and find it here is a link to a Sky and Telescope article on how to find it in the sky. There is no guarantee, however, that it will still be bright enough to see in a week but if it is I will definitely go out and try and get some more pictures. 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Long Weekend

This was another holiday weekend without an all paces ride. The all paces rides were canceled for memorial day and the 4th and I don't expect that we will have one on Labor Day either. That's okay I decide to do my own with the posse on Friday(as I'm sure some other groups did). We left out of the picnic area of MCP at 8am to beat the heat and did this route.

It was one of the routes I normally do when I lead an all paces rode. Although is was hot the humidity wasn't that high so I wasn't covered in sweat. We made a rest stop at Roy's which is open and has a bathroom we can use. The parking lot was mostly empty however there were a few people using the gym on the end and the hair salon.

On the way back to the park we road by the lake in the Assimpink park. The parking lot was packed with people and boat trailers and there were a lot of boats out on the lake fishing.

I was back home by 11:30am so it was back before it really got hot.

On Saturday I got a few of the posse to join me in Lambertville to do a loop up to Frenchtown. As more things have opened up in NJ we are venturing further and doing some of our normal hillier rides. Although the temperature was lower on Saturday the humidity was close to 100% so I was sweating my ass off from the start.

The first 10-15 miles where mostly uphill as we climbed around 1000 feet to get to the ridge. Even when you are on the ridge there are still a number of annoying little bumps. The only relatively flat part was by Sky Manor which is by one of the airports up here. We ended up passing a couple of others before heading down to Frenchtown.

We stopped at the Bridge Street cafe which had window service only. The parking lot and cafe were busy with lot of bikers and rafters going down the river. Most of us sat on the wall by the river to keep away from the crowd. The humidity really hadn't dropped and the sun was starting to come out.

After the break we had the longest and steepest climb of the day. Since I have not done as much climbing as I do other years I really wanted to see what kind of shape I'm in. We went up Fairview which is about 400 ft in 1.4 miles. The grade is in the 5% to 10% range. I wasn't the fastest one up the hill but I didn't have a problem getting to the top and my legs still had some energy left.

We stayed along the ridge until heading down to the covered bridge. There was one more climb left but I was getting a little tired and a couple others were looking tired so I took a poll and then decided we should had down to 29 instead of doing the last climb. Normally I don't like riding on that part of 29 because it doesn't have much of a shoulder and there can be a lot of traffic but between the holiday weekend and Covid I knew there would be light traffic and it would be safe.

We cruised a few miles along 29 to get back., The ride ended up being about the same about of miles we just did a few hundred feet less climbing. It was still a hilly ride with more climbing that I have done this year and I didn't cramp or feel totally worn out.

So as the weather allows I will probably venturing a little further from home and doing more hilly rides.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Fixing My Sagging Sack

I took off Friday from work and decided to do a ride since the weather was good. I decided to do something hilly out of Yardley so I used my Synapse for the ride. Whenever I take my Synapse out I notice how much different my sack looks. The one on the Synapse is much straighter and firmer.

Yes I know the bike is 11 years younger than my Feather but as far as I know age should not make things sag. At least not on a bike. 

Just because my Feather is old doesn't mean it can't perform or look as good as a newer bike. And for the most part my Feather is a fast good looking bike except for its sagging sack which get ridiculed. People tell, me all the time, that my sack is sagging and might fall off. The bag is secure and hasn't fallen off in 5 years when it almost took out Dave. Still it is a source of some embarrassment so I decided to take closer look at it after my Yardley ride.

I checked out the bracket that holds the sack on to my seat. I use the Jandd Klickfix system that has a bracket on the seat that allows you to easily clip your bag on and off the bike. This makes it easy to switch the sack between bikes so that I don't have to have a separate sack of gear for each bike. The Feather has a carbon fiber seat with the rails built into the seat so the bracket is a little harder to mount and makes it hard to get in on at the right angle. 

However after taking a look at the bracket which is probably at least 10 years old I noticed that the end of the clip was thin and broken. This was definitely causing some of the sagging.

I did have a spare bracket in stock so I replaced it and tried to position it better to keep the sack a little straighter.

It looks much better now its still not as straight as when this sack it mounted on my Synapse but that has more to do with the angle of the seat and rails than anything else. This just goes to show that with a little maintenance something old and sagging can be made to look and function almost like new. 

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Lucky Happenstance

Today was one of those days with very unpredictable weather that made it hard to plan a ride. The forecast said rain by noon. I got up a little after 6am and the sun was out. There was nothing on the radar and the hourly forecast said there wasn't a significant chance of rain before noon. I decided that I would head to Cranbury and then do a ride to Englishtown. I sent out an email letting the posse know what I was doing in case anybody wanted to join me.

By the time I left my house I didn't have any takers so no posse no problem I'll just do a solo ride.

I got to Cranbury about 20 after 8 and found Herb sitting there. He was waiting for Bruce. I hadn't see Herb in quite a while so it was good to see him and catch up. Then somebody else walked over to talk to us and it was Ron who was going on Dave's ride at 9am. Bruce rolled in soon after with a new bike. It was one of the new Cannondale Ebikes. I think it was the one of the Synapse Neo models. So now Bruce is now stronger, faster, better (i.e. Bionic Bruce). These bikes are getting more efficient and more practical so I can see these becoming more popular especially for older riders.

Right after Bruce showed up Jack came by. He was planning on going on Prem's ride but apparently he didn't realize Prem's ride was at 8 am not 8:30am. (Not sure how Jack missed it since it was clearly stated in the ride title and ride details) In any case it worked out for everybody as Jack ended up going with me on my loop to Englishtown. It was suppose to be a 40 mile loop but when it didn't look like it would rain as early as expected I added a few more miles and visited the lake in the Assumpink. As you can see from the picture above there were no rain clouds in site when we got there around 11:30am.

On our way back as we crossed 130 on Windsor Rd we ran into Herb and Bruce again as they were heading home. We road with them along Windsor.Then Jack took off for home as we headed up South Lane,  We ended up having to turn around. Some car had hit a telephone pole and there were live wires across the road. I ended up going back to Windsor and up Old Trenton to get home. I ended up with just over 50 miles.

So though some lucky happenstance my solo ride ended up not being solo and I got to catch up with a few people I haven't seen in a while so sometimes unplanned circumstance make for a good day.