Saturday, March 16, 2019

It was WINDY!!!

The title of the post says it all. It was a windy. It was no too windy to ride on the road but it was a tougher ride because of the wind. I had put a ride on the PFW Calendar from Cranbury. As soon as I saw there would be a stiff wind from the west I decided to head across Rt 1 so we would have a tail wind on the way home. I got Jack, Pete, Ken, Chris and Bob to join me.

From Cranbury we made our way through the back of Plainsboro and across Rt 1 on New Rd. There was a constant wind in our face and a couple strong gusts but it got better as we road up the canal and on Amwell before zig zagging south to our eventual stop at the Bagel Barn. This part of the ride was grueling not only because of the wind but we because there were two flats with in 5 mile (Chris and Pete) and there were problems changing the tube both times.

After Bagel Barn we had mostly a tail wind the last 15 miles back and no more flats. Because I had rode into Cranbury I ended up with 55 miles. It was a tough ride and I felt pretty beat after the ride. I plan to head to the pinelands next week so let's hope for less wind and warmer temperatures since it will finally be spring.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Copper Ladle

After four tries we finally made it to Copper Ladle. The last few times we tried to go it was closed. This place is not open on Sunday and is closed on any holiday weekend.  The more times we tried to stop here and fail the more I wanted to stop there. So this Saturday when I saw it was going to be open I created a meandering route from Etra to finally give it a try.

It was a little warmer today than the last few weeks. I had 12 other people join me. Since the Copper Ladle is only 5 miles from Etra I made a winding route that first headed out to Turkey Swamp before looping back to Millstone. It was 25 miles before we got to the stop.

The Copper Ladle was just okay. The cookies and doughnuts were good but they didn't have a lot to drink and the coffee was not great. We probably won't stop here again but it is always good to try new places because you never know when you are going to find a stop that makes an average ride better.

We did get a little over 40 miles so it was a good day. It is starting to get warmer so we should be able to expand our search for new places stop at. Hopefully we can find one better than Copper Ladle.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Riding the Road in the Cold

I don't have a lot to say about my rides over the past couple weeks. It was just warm enough, for me, to ride on the road last Saturday and this Sunday. Last Saturday I did a one way ride to Avon and met my wife there for lunch. It was a barely 40 degree cloudy day with a light head wind from the east. The head wind made the ride a little harder. Still it was good to be on the road after a few weeks on the mountain bike. The beach was mostly empty so I didn't have to deal with any traffic.

This weekend Laura had a ride scheduled for Saturday out of MCP but the overnight rain/snow left the roads wet with possible icy spots so the ride was moved to Sunday where I actually ended up leading the ride. We had a large crowd for another 40 degree cloudy day. There was no wind on Sunday so it actually felt a little warmer than last week. Once I got a few miles on the road I didn't feel cold at all. I road in from home and met everybody at the park.

I lead a 41 mile loop through Allentown and Cream Ridge to our stop at Roy's. From there it was another 15 miles back to the park. I cut off for home just before the park. Because I road in from home I ended up with 47 miles which isn't bad for a winter ride.

There is just about a month left in winter so I hope I can grind out some more winter road rides until the weather gets warmer and I don't have to worry about being cold anymore.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Mushy Backwards LHT Ride

Saturday was one of those days where it was just a little too cold for me to ride on the road and because of the rain and snow during the week it would have been a muddy canal ride. It was hovering around 37 degrees when we started the LHT ride. The LHT trail is 60% paved and the rest of the trail is well maintained packed gravel. It turned out to be a little mushier than I thought it would be but at the same time it was kinda fun.

I was joined by Jack and Ricky. The rest of the posse was otherwise busy. I decided to do the reverse of my usual route and headed counter clockwise around the trail. This seemed harder than my normal way as it was mostly uphill to the ETS center. At the ETS center we took the usual short cut through the overgrown path to Proviceline Rd. This path had more water and mud than usual and we had to walk around a couple of large puddles and fallen trees.

I skipped the part of the trail around the equestrian center as that is a muddy mess on a good day. The path around Rosedale lake was solid but had parts covered with shallow puddles that made for some slow going and messy riding. My tights were already covered with multiple colors of dirt.

The part around the pole farm was a little more solid and it was actually fun going down the hill by the pole farm instead of up it.

The rest of the way back was on mostly paved paths. By the time we got back to the parking lot my tights looked like a Jackson Pollack painting. It was warm enough that I didn't mind a little water and mud but I will be happy when it will be warm enough to get back on the road.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Education of Bob

Bob is one of the newer members of the insane bike posse and fits in good with the group. Laura and I mentored him through his first century a couple of Augusts ago. This year with a little peer pressure we got him to buy a mountain bike so that he could join us on our trail rides. His first trail ride was a few weeks ago on the ride I did out of Washington Crossing and was with us last week, in the snow, at Penny Pack park. Now that he has a mountain bike I am trying to show him how can expand his riding options.

This week I had an off the books ride out of Rocky Hill. The plan was to head north to where the Raritan River meets the Millstone and do an out and back ride of 20-25 miles. Even though it was  warmer than last week it was still only 25 degrees at the start. I had a big turn out for such a cold ride. Laura, Pete, Jim, Ricky, Bob and Chris were all there.

For the first part of the ride the path was a little bumpy as the tire tracks and foot prints made in the warm muddy conditions of a past couple of days had frozen. Once we got north of Blackwell Mills the path was more packed down and a lot smoother. The only thing that slowed us down was the occasional large branch or tree across the path. We also ran into work crew and a bunch of trucks on the path that left very little room to go around.

When we got to the place where the Raritan River meets the Millstone we stopped for a couple of pictures. I didn't manage to get any pictures because I had my camera in my outer pocket and the battery was too cold to put out any power.

We had a slight tail wind on the way which made the riding a little easier. When we got to Blackwell Mills I decided to split off with Bob and Chris to show Bob what is is like to do some real mountain biking in 6 mile run. Pete ended up coming with us too as the rest of the group headed back down the path to the start. Instead of doing the longer Blue trail I decided to ride up to the Jacques Rd parking lot and do the White trail to Red trail. This would give us a 3 mile trek through the woods and would be enough to give Bob and intro to mountain biking. Bob's bike was still way to clean for a mountain bike so it was time for it to get a little muddy.

I expected the trail to still be frozen but after the first few hundred feet it looks like the ground was thawing and it was getting muddy. Pete wisely turned around but Chris, Bob and I kept going. There were a lot of spots where the trail was dry and flat and these parts were fun and not too hard. There were also a lot of icy puddles we had to work our way through. You had to try to run through them as fast as you could and try not to put you foot down and get wet. I wasn't always successful but only had to put my foot in the water once.

I forgot how many steep little hills this place had. I had a problem getting in my bottom ring in the front as some mud was frozen on the derailleur. I kick it a couple of times to try to loosen it up but eventually gave up and walked up the steeper spots. I remember why I don't do this type of riding much any more. Chris eventually kicked it into gear and riding was much better after that.

Bob was having the usual beginner problems getting use to handling the bike over this kind of terrain. He did have the occasional fall but got better as we kept going. He said it was like going skiing for the first time.

Once we got out of the valley and on to the drier parts of the trail it was a little better and I started to enjoy it. A few more icy puddles and a couple stream crossings later we made it back to the parking lot and headed by down Canal Rd to Rocky Hill. I was feeling pretty tired after the riding through the woods so we didn't bother getting back on the canal path as the road was easier and would be faster.

When we got back to Rocky hill, Ricky was still there waiting in his car. He had left his lights on so had a dead battery. Luckily Chris had some jumper cables so we were able to get Ricky's car started.

I was muddy and tired but was glad that I did the loop in six mile run as it was fun introducing Bob to another part of the biking experience.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Hot and Cold

Let's hope that useless over pampered ground hog call Punxsutawney Phil is right and that we will have an early spring this year. Over the past few weeks the polar vortex has descended a couple of times to produce some really cold weather before getting blown away by a warm south wind. This had made if and where to ride a little harder over the past could of weeks.

Last weekend was a hike and bike weekend. We could have done another canal ride on Saturday but for a change of pace I decided to get the normal posse together to do a hike in the Sourlands Mountain Preserve. We did a 7 mile hike along the ridge trail. It was just below freezing when we started the hike. I got Jack, Ricky, Pete and Laura to join me.Even though I have lived in this area for almost 30 years I had never been to this park. The park has a small lake by the parking lot and hiking trails through the woods and hills of the Sourlands from a mile to about 7 miles.

The land is very rocky with a lot of little stream and water flowing through the rocks. I'm glad the ground was frozen or it would have been a muddy mess. The trails are well marked and there are some interesting rock formations and other things to see along the way.

We came across this shallow frozen pond. The white blotches are frozen methane from the decomposing leaves. In arctic climates there can be multiple layers or methane bubbles frozen in a lake from top to bottom which can produce and interesting 3D affect. Take a look at this video for an example.

The hike brought us through and around a lot of large rocks including the Devils Half Acre Bolders.  These were kind of interesting but are mostly just a bunch of large rocks that you can climb around or over. The most interesting thing we found was some tree snot. There was a lot of talk of what it actually might be but it looked like snot to me. Here is Laura looking it up on her phone.

The was a moderately difficult hike mostly because of all the little rocks and roots on the trail. It would have been real easy to twist and ankle and fall if you didn't look where you were going.

On Sunday it was warm enough to get out on the road. Jack and I did a just under 40 mile ride in and around Clarksburg. It was good to be out on the road again. When you get temps over 40 you have to take advantage of it as you never know when it is going to turn cold again.

And we did get another blast of arctic air this week with lows in the single digits and highs barely in the teens. It wasn't as bad as Chicago where they had to set fire to the trail tracks to clear off the snow. Whenever there is this type of cold you get the usual weather people going out and showing how cold it is by throwing boiling water in the air and having come down as snow. Then you get the people who use this one cold event to say that global warming is a hoax even thought global warming is probably causing these quick cold snaps as this article points out.

It did warm up just enough for Saturday to think about doing a ride. It was still cold on Saturday and we had got a dusting of snow on Friday but this type of weather is the perfect time to go to Pennypack park. Pennypack park is a beautiful park along the Pennypack creek. It has a paved trail that you can ride on from north east Philly all the way to the Delaware. If you want a scenic winter landscape this is the place to come.

I got the truly insane of the insane bike posse to join me for this cold ride. This included Laura, Jim, and new mountain bike owner Bob. It was just 22 degrees when we got started so I had all my winter gear on plus some hand and foot warmers. This is the limit of my cold riding and it was so cold that the valve of my camelback froze up.

Still it was worth being a little cold for the view. This was probably the best winter scenery I have seen at Pennypack. There was just enough snow to blanket everything with out making the path too dangerous to ride on. The paved path had about a half inch of snow on it but it was not icy and were were able to get up the hills if we were "careful"

The trail itself is easy to follow and with out too many people out today we quickly made our way down the trail. Most of it looked like these pictures above. We stopped occasionally to take pictures but none of them do it justice. I would have taken more pictures but my battery quickly froze up and lost power so I had to put in back in my jacket to warm it up so it could take more pictures.

Eventually we made it down to the Delaware which was semi frozen.

Then it was back up the trail the same way we came. It had warmed up a little and some of the snow on the trail had melted to the point that we could see the paved surface. I managed to get a shot of the small waterfall near a bridge. I take this shot every time and it is always a little different.

This doesn't really capture how good this actually looked maybe one of these years I will get a shot that I'm happy with.

We all made it back to the start with out any problems. I always worry about falling in cold and icy conditions. I will mention Bob did fall but is was actually when we crossed a road with out any snow on it and he fell trying to go up a curb. He still getting use to the new mountain bike so falling it all part of the learning process.

Even though it was a cold ride I'm glad I made the trek to Pennypack as it really was a beautiful ride and one of the few places you can safely ride through a frozen snowy landscape.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Super Wolf Mother, Bloody Bad Ass Moon

It seems like every time there is some astronomical even related to the moon the news media make up a new nonsensical name for the headlines. This time it was the name was the "Super Blood Wolf Moon". It made it sound like a once in a lifetime event. In reality it was just a normal lunar eclipse that happen to fall in January which is the wolf moon. Although a lunar eclipse is not as cool as a solar eclipse it still can be fun to watch.

I didn't really expect to see the eclipse since the long range forecast showed it would be cloudy. The storm ended up clearing out quicker than expected so the skies were clear for the eclipse. Unfortunately it was 15 degrees out so there was no way I was going to stand outside and watch it. Luckily the position of the moon during the eclipse was directly above the skylight in my kitchen. I was able to actually set up my telescope on my kitchen floor and point it through the skylight to watch the eclipse. The view was a little fuzzy since I had to look through a semi dirty triple pane window but it was better than freezing my ass outside.

I did manage to get a few picture but none came out that great because of shooting through the skylight. It was also very windy so that makes a more turbulent atmosphere which makes it harder to get a clear view of the moon.

When the moon got to full eclipse it seemed dimmer and not as red as other ones that I have seen. It was actually too dim for me to get a clear picture. I may have to invest in a little better camera for the next one in a couple of years. Each lunar eclipse is a little difference and interesting in its own way so I'm glad I got a chance to see it.