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.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Winter Get Away/Adventure

My wife and I have been wanting to get away on a winter vacation for the past few years but each year one thing or another prevented us from going. This year we finally were able to arrange a 5 day vacation to a warm location as an escape from the winter. We wanted a warm place where we could relax and ended up choosing a resort in Jamaica because it has beautiful beaches, reasonable prices and we could get a direct flight from Newark. Unlike our last couple of vacations we were not planning doing any exploring or activities but just wanted to relax from the stresses of our day to day lives.

After the usually hassle involved with air travel we arrived at our resort in Jamaica. Once we got there we were happy to see that the resort was nicer than expected. Our room was a large suite with a comfortable sitting area and wonderful balcony that looked at over the beach which was only a few feet away. The resort we stayed at was an all inclusive resort so all the food and drinks are included for the price. This made for a very simple vacation as you don't have to worry about where to eat or drink. They have a couple of different buffets that are open all day as well as a couple of specialty restaurants for Italian, Asian, French, or Steak. This gave us a good variety of food to try including some local Jamaican dishes. There are bars and lounges around the resort with drinks and snacks so you will not go hungry or thirsty. Even the mini bar in the room fully stocked and free. They even offer a selection of rum, brandy, gin and vodka in a convenient dispenser.

The main attraction at the resort is the beach and we spent most of our time hanging out on the beach relaxing and reading ( I am working my way through the Game of Thrones series).  The weather was warm and sunny which was perfect for the beach and swimming in the ocean and pools. We did take one trip from the resort to snorkel on a reef just a couple of miles away. I used my waterproof camera I had to take some pictures. The coral is not as colorful as other reefs we have been at but there were some cool fans and brain coral.

Beside hanging out on the beach, the resort offers water sports like kayaks and sailboats so I spent a couple hours sailing around the bay we were in. I use to have a small sailboat so it was fun sailing again. All in all the inclusive resort was a good experience and a great way to relax. Not only was the resort nice but the people in Jamaica were very friendly, laid back and generally fun to be around. It was very good vacation until we had to make our way home.

The problem was that we planned to come home on Tuesday which happened to be the day of the big snow storm. Our flight got canceled on Monday so I spent Monday afternoon working on finding a way home. There are not a lot of flights from Jamaica to the US so getting on an alternative flight is not easy. When we checked with United Airlines they said they might be able to get us out on another flight on Saturday or Sunday which meant say in Jamaica for 3-4 more days. Its not a bad place to be stuck but it meant doubling our stay and spending more money to stay at the resort and taking more time off work.

I managed to get us on an American airlines flight to Charlotte NC on Tuesday afternoon so that got us back in the US where we rented a car and started the 600 mile drive back home. We got into Charlotte at 4pm and got the car then drove a few hours and got into Virginia where we got a crappy hotel room for the night before driving the rest of the way home.

The drive wasn't bad and the snow had all been cleared from the roads by the time we got home. The only problem was that the snow/ice that fell on Tuesday was just one solid block of ice covered in snow.  There was no way to clear the driveway of snow and ice. Luckily I was able to drive the car over it but had to spend an hour chopping out the ice/snow at the end of the driveway where the plow has walled me in.

It wasn't the best way to end a vacation but traveling can sometimes be a pain in the ass so when things go wrong you have to adapt and enjoy the adventure.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Google Photos

If you got out riding the last two weekends you probably forgot it was the middle of winter. With temperatures in the 60s and 70s if felt more like spring time. Last weekend I went to Cranbury to do the Saturday ride with Tru. This Saturday I did a one way solo ride down the shore and met my wife there to do some work on the condo. Today's ride was sunny and warm enough that I didn't even need a jacket. When I got to the shore the clouds started to roll in. Then when I entered Seagirt the temperature dropped by 10 degrees and I was surrounded by a dense fog so I didn't get the scenic ride up the beach I was expecting. I'm glad I had my taillight and there wasn't a lot of traffic because it was hard to see more than a 200 feet ahead.

Whenever I ride I take a few pictures that I like to share. I usually just post them to the blog but sometimes I like to create an album especially for the trips I take. It makes it easier to share with friends and family. I have used Shutterfly and Photobucket to upload photos and create albums in the past but these services either don't have the features I want, have too many popup adds, or charge once you got over a certain limit of photos or views.

When I went to Alaska I knew I would be taking a lot of pictures that I would want to share so I looked for new photo sharing service. After looking over the choices I went with Google Photos. Google Photos my not be a very feature rich service but it does the simple things like storing photos and creating albums really well and being Google is also free with no advertising.

Google Photos are linked to your gmail account so if you have a gmail account you have access to Google Photos. There are apps for your phone or your computer that make uploading photos to Google Photos easy. Once you install these apps any photo you take on your phone is automatically uploaded. (If you are worried about using up all your mobile data you can set the app to only upload when on WiFi). On the computer once you set up the app it will automatically upload any photo put into the folders you choose. This make storing and accessing all you photos really easy.

What I do when I get home from a ride is to dump all my photos on to my Mac that I uses as a media server. The Mac is hooked up to my TV and I use it to stream content to my TV as well as store all my photos and music. A few minutes after I dump the photos they are available on Google Photos. I can now access these photos on my phone or any other computer with an internet connection.

When I write my blog no matter which computer I am using I can get to any photo I took and add it to the blog. From Google Photos I can search for photos,download a photo, edit it, or get a link to it to share with others. The search feature is kind of cool you put in an object you want to look for and it will actually look through you photos and find it. For example I entered the work "plane" and it returned any photo I had with a plane in it. The search is not 100% accurate but it pretty good.

Google Photos also allows you to create photo albums. You simple create a new album and just add photos to it. You can then get a link to share the album. For what I need Google Photos is perfect. There are two upload options High Quality or Original. Google offers unlimited space for High Quality which will compress photos over a certain size (16 M) and limit videos to 1080p. Original will not compress any photo or video but it limits your space to the space you have for you Google account. Unless you use a really good  DSLR you can go with the High Quality and probably won't see any difference since the photos from most point and shoot cameras are less then 16 M.

Because of the unlimited storage I have uploaded every digital picture I have taken since 1999. This means I have a safe backup for all my photos and I can now access them from any internet connected device. If you are looking for a good way to backup and save photos I highly recommend Google Photos,