Sunday, September 19, 2021

Lying Bastard 2021


 

There wasn't much drama with this years lying bastard ride. I did not add my usually surprise 15% grade or any other major twist in this years ride. I figured people won't want to deal with any other issues this year. I have tweaked the route over the years to try and make it a little easier and remove any problem road crossings. We no longer go through Perkasie because that means a tough climb to get to Lake Noximixon and had to cross a Rt 313 which always had lots of traffic on it. Here is the route we did which hasn't changed much since last year.

My only concern this year was the condition of the roads. I wasn't sure if any of the roads I was using had gotten destroy as part of the storm that flooded the area a week ago. Some reports on Facebook seem to indicate that we would be okay and we were. There was a little extra sand and debris on Headquarters Rd and the closed bridge at the top of Headquarters Rd was a little harder to cross but we didn't have to make any detours in the route. 

It was a beautiful day for a ride and so we got some good views of the surrounding area after we got to the top of the hill. This route doesn't have any more climbing than a normal Sourlands ride but they are spaced out differently. Instead of some long climbs followed by some flat or downhills this ride is a series of rollers with a lot of annoying little climbs. The route also slowing goes uphill as you go up and down these rollers so there are no breaks or real flat parts where you can rest. 

There is some nice scenery along the way. Because the rest stop is at mile 34 I take a quick break at a boat launch on the south side of the lake where you can get a view of one of the coves in the lake. 

I did get a good turnout for the ride this year. Most of my regulars where there as well as a new guy, Jeff. I always wonder what a person unfamiliar with the Insane Bike Posse is going to think about the group especially since he thought that going on a bike ride called the "Lying Bastard" was a good idea. He fit in well with the group and it is always good to see new people on our rides but we don't have a good record of them coming back. We did have one other bridge out situation to deal with on and we sent the new guy over first because just like Star Trek you always send to the new guy(Ensign Expendable)  on any risky situation because you don't want to harm any of the main characters. 

We did our usual rest stop at the Turkey Hill gas station and convenience store then headed the last 10 miles back to the start. Although we didn't have much traffic for most of the route the first few miles after the rest stop had a lot of traffic so I will see if I can find a different route back next year. 

I was a little concerned about the last down hill (Red Cliff Rd) because it was a steep hill and could be covered with debris but it turned out not to be that bad. Despite the reputation of this ride it is actually always an interesting ride that I enjoy doing so it will be back again next year maybe with a little surprise.

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Power of Water


This week we were reminded about how powerful and destructive water can be. A little rain is good for the soil and cleans the air. A lot of rain can cause flooding and some property damage. Then there is what we had last week which was a biblical rain storm with a small tornado thrown in. Some parts of NJ got 6 to 7 inches of rain over a few hours. Almost every river in NJ was over the flood stage especially in the west side of the state which got the hit with the worst of the storm. 

I was lucky because where I moved to only got about an inch of rain and some wind so there was no flooding or trees down in my area. This past Saturday I did Laura's ride out of Pennington. She didn't send out the route ahead of time because she wasn't sure which roads would be open. We made our way through Pennington and up Stony Brook. There were signs of how bad the flooding was as we passed over any bridge or by any stream. There were trees and debris on the side of all the bridges and along the streams. The roads were mostly okay except for the occasional tree debris, sand or gravel on the road. There was one bridge at the top of Stony Brook where part of the asphalt had been washed away but is was still passable by bike, although we had to walk part of it. 

The worst damage we saw was by the covered bridge outside of Sergeantsville. We tried to go down Covered Bridge Rd to get to Lower Creek Rd but had to stop towards the bottom because we were told by a home owner who's house had been flooded and damage that it wasn't passable. 

After stopping at the bagel place in Sergeantsville we headed down to the covered bridge from Sergeantsville and saw some of the damage. The covered bridge was closed and was actually damaged. Lower Creek Rd was closed because most of it no longer exists. Lower Creek Rd is now just Lower Creek. Laura got some good pictures of the damage on her blog. 

We were able to complete the ride without having to make any more detours although there were more signs of the flooding. This time I finished the ride with the group so the repaired spoke and wheel held. I credit this to the power of the Holy Kickstand as I have been performing a blessing before each ride to try and ward off mechanical problems and injuries. I'm working on getting a new set of wheels for the Synapse as the Holy Kickstand can not fix poor maintenance or worn out parts. 

On Monday instead of heading to the All-Paces I did a solo ride from my new place. I'm still exploring the area and tried out some new roads trying to find the best and most traffic free way to get to different places. 

Today I wanted to do a loop to the Manasquan Reservoir. It had rained Sunday night into Monday morning so the roads were wet but by the time I got to the reservoir the clouds were starting to clear. 

After the reservoir I headed back home on the roads we usually use on our way back from Belmar. A couple of the turns felt wrong because I made a left where I usually make a right. I know I moved to a new house but I don't think my bike is use to that yet. 

One of the reason I stayed close to home was because our community had and Labor Day party. There wasn't really much to it. Just a two piece band playing some 80s music and a couple of food trucks by the pool. The band wasn't half bad and the food was decent so it was a good way to unwind from the ride.  

I am enjoying the facilities in the community. My wife and I usually hang out in the pool a few times a week especially after my after work ride. The pool is usually not that crowded and we have been there a few times where we were the only ones in the pool. It's mostly used during the day so when we go at 5-6pm there are only a few people left. So although water can be destructive it can also be relaxing after a long ride.


Saturday, August 21, 2021

Sometimes Things Break


 

I try to keep my bike in good shape so that I don't run in to any mechanical problems while on the road. I usual have only 1 or 2 flats a year and have only once in 30 years not been able to get the bike back to the starting point. But every once in a while things are going to break. 

Today I did Laura's ride out of Pennington. When I pumped up my front tire before the ride the pin inside the value shot out when I took the pump off. I threw some tubes in the car and change the tube before the ride.

 Laura planned a 50 mile 2600ft ride. I felt pretty good as we were doing some climbing. There were 10 of us on the ride including most of the regulars. I was looking forward to a good social ride and catching up with everybody. 

At the top of Mt Airy Rd something didn't feel right with the back wheel and it was rubbing the brakes. I thought the wheel fell out of the drops but a quick looks showed that I broke a spoke. In fact the spoke was not even attached to the wheel and some where on the road. 

The wheel was not only rubbing the brakes but also the frame. As Bob will tell you a wheel rubbing a frame can do some real damage to a carbon bike. Jim was able to true the wheel up enough to keep the wheel from rubbing the frame and so with the brake open at back I decided to head toward Wheelfine to try and get it fixed. The rest of the group continued with the ride. 

It was about 4 miles to Wheelfine and although I felt the back wheel wobbling under me I made it without a problem. Michael was there and there is no body better to fix a broken wheel. He is also an interesting person to hang out with and so we had a good conversation as he fixed the wheel. He ended up putting in a new silver spoke which contracts with the other black spokes but I don't care how it looks. The wheel is probably better now than before and I had no problem making my way back to Pennington. 

It wasn't the ride I was expecting to do and I ended up doing half of it on my own but some times now matter how well you keep up your bike stuff is going to break so you just have to find a way to fix it and make your way home.

The wheels on my Synapse were not the best wheels to begin with so I will probably be looking for new set of wheels as when one spoke break other could follow soon after.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Exploring Some New Roads


 

After 30 years of riding I have ridden almost every rideable roads in New Jersey (and quite a few that were unrideable). However New Jersey has a lot of nooks and crannies so its always possible to find a few roads that I haven't ridden yet. 

The area where I moved to is close to a lot of roads I use on my Rova Farms Ride so I am familiar with most of the roads by my new house. Since I try to ride once or twice a week after work I will be doing more short rides in this area. To make sure I can have some variety on my nightly rides I decided to try all the roads in the area so that I can always quickly put together a ride of any length and difficulty. I try and use my after work rides for training to keep or get in shape for my weekend rides. I usually do between 15-25 miles and try to find some small hills to get my heart rate up. 

From my old house I had a really good variety of roads and could do anything from quick flat ride to a hill ride with almost 1000 ft of climbing in 25 miles. There are less hills where I live now so it will be a challenge to find more than 500 ft of climbing. 

From the new house it takes almost 2 miles to get out of my community and I have only a couple of ways out so the first and last couple of miles are going to be mostly the same for any ride from my house. However once I'm out I don't have to cross any main roads like route 130 as I had to do from the old place. There are a good number of quiet flat roads around the new place and I'm enjoying exploring some new back roads and finding my way around the local neighborhoods. Most of the back roads are low traffic and the busier roads usually have a wide shoulder. I just need to do some more exploring to find some hills to climb.

Now that it has been a few weeks since we moved in we are now more settled. We still have a lot of unpacking and organizing to do but the office, living room, bedroom and kitchen are set up so enough to live comfortably so we can now unpack the rest at our leisure.

Now that I'm past the hectic part of moving I can get back to my normal weekend rides. A couple of weeks ago I did a ride out of Yardley so I could get back to doing some hills. We did this route which was close to 3000' of climbing. I also tried a new way up the hill from Yardley to Tyler State park where we climbed the toughest hill in the park which felt just as hard on a road bike as it was in the winter in with my heavier mountain bike. 

It was good to get back into the hills but this past week I kept it flat as it was a hotter weekend.  After a few weeks of no dirt roads or bridge outs we actually had two on the ride in the Pinelands but both were easy to get through. 

It felt good to get back to some regular rides and get some routine back in my life after the move. The new house doesn't feel like home yet but some of us are getting use to the new digs.

 


 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Change of Address

Selling your current house and moving to new home is a complicated process. There are so many little details to take care that it can almost be a full time job. Then there is the stress that come with worrying about all the things that could go wrong and totally derail the process. Our move was even more complicated because we were trying to do a simultaneous sell and buy on the same day which is harder than completing the triple lindy.

I am however a man who enjoys a plan especially when it involves challenging logistics. We were also lucky as the people who were buying our house did not make any unreasonable requests for repairs or changes to the house. The only thing they really asked for was for more time as they had a lease until the end of July. This wasn't a problem for us as we were not in any real hurry to move and actually worked out for us as the people we bought our new house from needed some extra time to take care of a death in the family. Although I'm sorry for the families lost it did allow us to do a simultaneous closing which meant we only had to move once.

Even though all the parties involved were reasonable it was still a very stressful process. There are just so many ways for the things to go wrong and turn the transaction into an adversarial process. As our realtor said there is at least once catastrophe in every sales she does that puts the sale on the edge of falling though. Both she and our lawyer said that this was one of the smoothest transactions they have been a part of. I'm not sure this was because we worked hard to get the house in good shape before the sale or if we were just lucky.

Still is was a lot of work getting the house ready for sale and cleaning up 30 years of living in it. Then there was the packing up of all the stuff we wanted to keep while at the same time looking for a new place to live. The last week was the hardest as we had movers come in and put most of our stuff into storage then we had to clean up the house for the new owners. In the middle of this there was a small plumbing problem I had to fix. The last two days before the move I worked 12-15 hours a day to do all those little last minute things that needed to be done before we could leave the old house. This included packing the last bit of stuff we needed to live until the movers delivered our stuff to the new house as well as cleaning up the old house for the new owners. 

Finally around 1:30 pm on July 15 we left our old house with our car's fully stuffed to drive to the new house. It was a little emotional to leave a place we have lived for 30 years but we knew it was time to move on.

It was about a 25 min drive to the new house where we unloaded our cars. I also asked Jack and his van to help us with the move since all the stuff we needed for the two weeks until our furniture arrived won't fit into our two cars. 

Although this move was stressful for us I was concerned how Frisket would take it. She is almost 18 years old and doesn't like change. However she seemed to be okay in the new place after exploring it for a little while. 


We brought just enough stuff to camp out in our new house. This included an air mattress to sleep on.

 


As well as a TV and a couple of chairs as well as some minimal stuff for the kitchen. 

After a busy Thursday the plan was to relax Friday and just organize the house so we could live with the minimal furniture we had brought. The reason we didn't have the furniture delivered right after moving in is because we wanted to have the place painted. We had hired a painter and they were expected to start painting the week after we moved in but by lucky chance they were able to start the job on Friday right after we moved in. This was good because it would mean that we would get the place painted right after moving in. 


The only problem is that it meant that we couldn't sleep in and couldn't really organize the house. The company we hired to do the painting brought in 6 people to do the work. They worked fast and did a really good job. They were there for 10 hours both Friday and Saturday and painted the entire 2500 sq ft of the house. It was a quick transformation that really got rid of the outdated gold paint and updated the place to a more modern look.

During the painting I did what I could to organize and set up what I could. That meant getting the internet working which took a couple of calls to support and a trip to the Optimum office  to replace a faulty modem.

Sunday I spent setting up the little furniture we brought with us. Our living room is just a TV with two recliners.

And our dining room is just a card table and chair but it is enough to get by for a couple of weeks. 

 

I also set up an office in the library. The office is not as functional as I want it yet but good enough to work at until the furniture arrives.

There is still a lot to do to make this new house our home but the hard and stressful part is over. There are still a few weeks of work to get the house fully set up but we can now do that at our own pace with no deadlines so that will be easier than the last few days have been.

 

Monday, July 5, 2021

Perfect Bike Weather

 


There are two important things I want to know when I go on a bike ride. First what is the weather going to be so I know how to dress and prepare for the ride. Second I want to know where will we be stopping for a break so I know if I should bring food with me or buy a tasty treat at the stop. Although we can control where we stop for a break we can't control the weather and have to deal with what comes along. I will ride in a wide variety of weather conditions from 20 degrees to 95 degrees and don't care if it is sunny or overcast or even how windy it is. However I try not to go out if there is better than 50% chance of heavy rain and thunderstorms. Weather predictions are not perfect and in fact they can be down right wrong at times so there will be time you will be riding in weather you were not expecting. 

That's what happen at last weeks Belmar ride. Laura had listed a century from her house with an option to do shorter distances if you met her a certain points. I chose the 68 mile option. The weather was suppose to be in the mid to upper 70s with overcast skies clearing later in the day. There was a 10% chance of light rain at 11am. It was a good day for a long ride as it wasn't going to be really hot. 

Laura picked us up in Etra and we headed through Jackson, where we stopped for our first break, and then through Farmingdale towards the shore. As we approached the coast it got a little darker and there was a spritz of rain as we were waiting for a few people behind us to change a flat tire. 

When we got to the beach it was overcast and foggy but there were still plenty of people on the beach. We made our usual stop at the tables in front of the Dunkin Donuts before heading back. As we rode past Allaire State Park the clouds got darker and it started to rain. It was a heavy rain that was not in the forecast. Luckily it was just heavy rain and not a thunderstorm so we just had to ride through it. It was warm enough that getting wet didn't make us cold. The rain lasted about 10 mins. We then almost dry off before we rode through another downpour. 

It was definitely not fun to get wet but it did cool us off so in some ways it made the ride a little easier. Despite the rain and the miles I felt pretty good after 68 miles although I know I didn't really want to do too much more.

This past Saturday the weather forecast had a 50% chance of rain and not wanting to get wet again I moved my ride to Sunday. This was the second club ride I lead this year. The weather was perfect low 70s , low humility and abundant sunshine. I lead a hilly ride out of Lambertville to Frenchtown on the NJ side. I took the easy way up the hill and we got some good scenic views once we got to the ridge. 

We headed down the hill into Frenchtown for our break. It was congested and crowded but it was still nice to sit buy the river and enjoy the scenery. Eventually we headed out of Frenchtown and down Rt 29 for 5 miles before heading back uphill on Warsaw. It was the toughest climb of the day and we have a few more easier climbs before we got back to Lambertville but all in all it was one of the more enjoyable rides I did this year. 

Monday I did my own ride with a few of the members of the insane bike posse. The weather was about 10 degrees warmer and a lot more humid. My legs were tired which is why this ride was flatter. We headed from my house to Chesterfield and back on a 44 mile route. We cruised along at a decent clip. 

After the stop in Chesterfield we had tailwind most of the way back. It wasn't enough however to keep me from cramping up as I did a few miles before the end of the ride. I guess the heat and riding two days in a row caught up with me but after a little stretching I was able to make it home without cramping up again. 

We are now entering the dog days of summer so hot and unstable weather will be the norm. Although I will check the forecast before I ride I know the predictions will not always be reliable so will be ready to ride in whatever conditions come along.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Gettysburg

 


Bike trips are a great way to see other areas of the country. I like exploring by bike as it is a more leisurely way to see the sights. There are a lot of great places to take a bike trip in the US but if you want my recommendation on one of the best place to go in the tri-state area I would suggest heading to Gettysburg. Gettysburg and the surrounding area is one of the most interesting and beautiful places to ride in Pennsylvania. There is also a lot of variety to the roads by Gettysburg so no matter the type of riding you want to do you are sure to find something to like. 

Of course Gettysburg is the site of the civil war's most pivotal battle and now one of the more popular national parks in the US. The park does an amazing job of capturing the history and emotions of an important moment of America history. The park has over 40 miles of bikeable roads so it is easy to explore the many battlefields and monuments in the park.

Beyond the battlefield especially east of Gettysburg there are a lot of good roads to ride on and some interesting and historic things to see. I have been taking bike trips to Gettysburg for over 10 years, mostly with the Philadelphia bike club. I always enjoy riding in and around Gettysburg and haven't come close to explore all the areas and roads I want to. Which is why when Falcon press asked me to write a guide for ride in and around Gettysburg I said yes. 

This book is meant for casual riders who want to do rides in the 5 to 10 mile range. The main focus of rides in this book is exploring the different areas of the battlefield. Its a small book of only 16 rides but it does cover all areas of the battlefield as well as the best place to ride outside of Gettysburg. 

I had fun writing the book and learning more about Gettysburg so I could add some interesting facts throughout the book. I had planned to do a couple of trips out to Gettysburg over the year I worked on the book to get the best pictures and information I could but because of the pandemic I only got out there once in late 2019. Luckily I had enough pictures and knowledge from all my previous trips to put the book together and am genially happy with how it came out. We'll see how well it sells.

It has been a while since I have done any bike trips because like everybody else I was stuck at home. Now that the threat of the pandemic is waning I will be doing a couple of bike trips this year and one of them will definitely be to back to Gettysburg.