Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Line between Fun and Stupid

There is a fine line between fun and stupid. I will confess to being close to the line and have sometimes been little over it. This weekends snow made it hard to get a ride in but I was determined. I try to ride as much as I can in the winter. If it is too cold to go on the road then I will mountain bike on a trail. We got somewhere between 4-6 inches which would make it hard to ride even on the trails. However because the ground was warm it didn't really stick to much to roads and paths.

I sent out an email to a few people but didn't get any takers because they were concerned about slipping and falling in the snow. I was concerned too but have ridden enough in the snow to think I could do it. My plan was to ride the Lawrence Hopewell trail starting from the parking lot on Princeton Pike. When I got there is was just below freezing so quickly got ready and hit the trail. I road down the road for the first mile because the trail was snow covered and looked mushy.

Once on the actual trail it was slow going but not hard. The trail had somewhere  between no snow and a couple of inches on it. The snow was very powdery so it wasn't hard to ride through. Since the pavement and ground had been warm before the snow there was no ice to speak of.

I was being cautious since I it was hard to see the path in spots. On most of the paths although there were some foot prints there wasn't any bike tracks. When I got to Mercer Meadows I saw some other mountain bike tracks in the snow. After a little while I saw three people on mountain bikes. I caught up to them when I got to the pole farm and it turned out to be Chris, Ken and some one else I didn't know. They had started from the dog park by Rosedale Lake and were doing an 8-10 mile loop.

I hung with them to for a while heading towards the lake. The snow was a little thicker here so it was slow going. Riding with them added a few miles to the trip as they took some tails that took me off the main trail. Eventually I left them and continued on my own.

The Rosedale lake area was very scenic with the snow. By the parking lot was a lot of kids sledding down the little hill on the other side of the lake.

It was at this point that I realized that this was going to be a very tiring ride. Riding the 20 mile LHT loop is a good work out without the snow. With the snow it was going to be a longer ride than I wanted to do. I kept going and made my way along a couple or roads where there is no trail. These roads were actually a little icy and more dangerous than the trail. When I got to Wargo road I decided to not do the northern part of the trail because that would have meant riding  a long stretch on Carter Rd which I didn't want to do because of the conditions. Instead I took Bayberry then a quick section on Carter to get to the ETS center. I stopped on Bayberry to take a couple of pictures for Laura


....and sheep

From ETS I jumped back on the LHT trail. There was still snow on the trail and my legs were feeling tired but I kept going because I knew I wasn't far from the end. The last stretch on Province Line was much better this time since they added a new path along the road so I didn't have to deal with traffic.

By the time I got back to the start I was pretty beat but glad I did it. I spent 3 hours on the trail and it was fun but a little tougher than I expected. If I road this trail again in the snow I would probably do a shorter loop. Still I think I kept to the fun side of the line this time. I'm sure I'll have chances to hit the stupid side some other time this winter.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Day at the Beach

We were blessed with good weather for the Thanksgiving weekend. This allowed me to get two good rides in. On Friday I did a ride with team social security. I try to ride with these people a couple of times a year to get a peak at my possible future. It actually looks pretty good. We had a brisk ride to Jackson and back and with riding from my house I got 45 miles in. It was good catching up with some people I don't see that often and reaffirming that riding is what keeps us feeling younger than we really are.

On Saturday I did a solo ride to the beach to do a check on the codo in Avon to make sure it was ready for the winter. It was hovering between 40-50 degrees for most of the ride so it was not as much fun as a normal ride to the beach. This was a one way ride since my wife met me at the beach so I didn't have to worry about saving anything for the way back. Because it was sunny the beach was actually a busy place. There weren't many people sunning themselves on the beach but there were a lot of people walking along the boardwalk and visiting the shops. By the time I got to Avon I had done another 45 miles and enjoyed some scenic views of the beach.

Then is was a little maintenance on the condo before stopping at our favorite BBQ place for well deserved meal on our way home.

The long range forecasts are calling for a mild winter so hopefully that is true so I can keep riding during the winter months. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017


It was cold today. For last weeks ride I had a light jacket and it felt like early fall. Today, a week later, it felt like the middle of with winter. I had to put on most of my winter wardrobe to keeps warm. Given the weather report I wasn't even sure I was going to ride. It was 25 degrees when I woke up this morning and I usually don't ride on the road if its not 35 or above. However I didn't feel like a mountain bike ride and Jim had the Cranksgiving ride out of Cranbury today. I wasn't really planning on doing Jim's ride but because it was so cold I was afraid nobody would join him so I thought I would just ride over to Cranbury and just say hi then do a long loop back home to get a few miles in.

When I started out for Cranbury it was 27 and I felt very constricted in all the cloths I had on. I had enough layers on to be warm but it hurt a little to breath in the cold air. It got better as I warmed up some more and got the Cranbury.

Right before I got to the park I saw Jim, and to other people (Joe and Ricky) riding out of the park. It took a few seconds for them to recognize me in all my gear. I turned around and told Jim I came to support him but wasn't sure that I was going to be able to do the ride as I really didn't have a way to carry anything. He said that he could carry things for me if the Cranksgiving team didn't have people at the store to carry the food back for us. Some where along the way to the start of the ride I decided to actually do Cranksgiving. It just seemed the right thing to do.

After we got to the starting point at the fire house I had the boys pose for another picture for Laura. She again backed of joining us for a ride because of glass blowing class. We could have done the whole giving her the finger thing again but we decided to do something nice (which is so unlike us) and sent out the heart sign. I got the appropriate "Awwww" back but knowing Laura I think she might have been a little disappointed about not getting another middle finger picture.

Because Jim was leading the ride we got to the start of the Cranksgiving ride a half hour early. Since it was cold I wanted to keep moving so we did a loop to the Caspersen Rowing Center which is directly across from the Mercer Boathouse on the other side of the lake.

The Cranksgiving ride itself was interesting. We did a twenty mile loop on local roads that I'm familiar with. They weren't the best roads in the area because we had get to the different foods spots but it wasn't a bad ride. We stopped at three different places and bought some food. Stopping to buy food at each stop wasn't as hard as I was expecting and there were people at each stop to carry the food back to the starting point. All in all it was a simple well organized charity ride for a good cause.

When I do these type of rides I feel a sense of community. Its not just that I helped out a local charity but the fact that I was doing it with other people which gives you as sense of connection to others and the community as a whole. I also realized that this event helped me to connect to multiple communities. First I only went to Cranbury because I wanted to support Jim who is part of the Princeton free wheelers and a member of my insane bike posse. I sent the picture to Laura because she is part of our group and knew she would appreciated it. I did the Cranksgiving ride even though I hadn't planned on it because it gave me a reason to ride with people I like riding with. I had fun on the ride because I got to hang out with other bikers who are part of the overall biking community. I got to contribute, in a small way, to the Trenton area soup kitchen which helps the local community.

This ride reminded me that there are a lot small ways to connect to the different communities that I am a part of and have some fun while doing good.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Delaware Double Cross

We were suppose to be away on a trip this weekend. It was first going to be to Gettysburg then we decided we might go to the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. However because of the forecast for Sunday's weather we decided to bail on the trip. Saturday's weather still looked great so I proposed a day trip to the C&D canal. This was part of a Delaware trip that I had planned a couple of years ago that we never did.

Unlike Delaware and Raritan canal, which is no longer used commercially, the C&D canal has been continually widen, expanded and improved and carries a significant amount of traffic, including 40% of all the ships out of Baltimore. The canal also has a newly completed paved bike path along its 14 mile length. I thought it would make for an interesting ride. Even though my Best Bike Rides Philadelphia book had a ride in this area that ride was done by my co-author so I had never been down here.

The ride I put together was a combination of the old Delaware Double Cross ride along with the ride from the book and then adding in the bike path along the canal at the end. I had 3 different routes planned. We ended up doing this route which was the longest one. I got Jack, Chris, Jim and Laura to join me for the ride. We met in Bordentown at 8am and made the quick hour and a half drive to the starting point in Delaware City.

Delaware City is on the Delaware Bay and is where the canal starts. Its directly across from Fort Mott in NJ. In the summer you can actually take a ferry across the river.

The ride started going south on Rt 9 and although I promised a very flat ride we had to get over the canal and so with in a mile of leaving the starting point we had a mile climb at around 4% over a semi scary looking bridge. The bridge had no shoulder and was really high but there wasn't much traffic so it really wasn't too bad. After we got down on the other side and off the main road I took a quick picture to show how high it was.

From there we rode through mostly quiet roads along marshlands and farm lands. We made a brief stop at a Wawa in Middletown which had some traffic but after that we headed back out in to what looked like horse farm country. We had to change the route when we got to Milton Rd because it said there was no outlet. I kind of expected this since the satellite view hinted that the roads went from black to brown and were dirt. We when down Milton Rd anyway to see if there was really a way through but there were several signs telling us to stay off the private property so we decided to not push our luck and turned around.

The next stop was see the upper, upper, part of the Chesapeake bay. Which at this point is called the Elk River.

This was by a marina and gave us a good view of the water. It was a very peaceful place and It would have been a good place to hang out and watch the sunset if we had the time.

The next stop was the western end of the canal in Chesapeake City. It is a small little town on the water that looks historic. It has a lot of restaurants and bars on the water but the cafe and bakery that I was expecting to find was closed. We found a little ice cream place that also had muffins by the water and hung out there for a while.

I took a picture of the bridge going over the canal to reproduce the shot that is in the book.

The plan was to ride over that bridge to get to the canal path that was on the other side. The bridge however had no shoulder, was steep and had a lot of traffic. We could have done it if we had to but it didn't look safe so we decided to head along the south side of the canal until we found a better bridge.

Jack was told by some one in town that there was a way to get to the canal path on this side of the river so we tried to head down a road to find it but when we found the path on the south side it was dirt and gravel. It was semi hard packed but it won't have been fun riding on it.

We continued east a couple more miles until we hit Rt 301 which had a bridge over the canal that had a shoulder. There was a lot of traffic but with the shoulder it wasn't too bad. At this point we were off any route I had so I did a little seat of the path navigation and just kept heading toward the canal where we eventually found the trail.

Once on the trail it was a straight ride east to the starting point in Delaware city. The wind which had been strong and annoying most of the day was still in our face. It must have changed directions because I thought we might have a little bit of a tail wind at this point.

The ride along the canal gave us a good view of it and how big it is. We saw a large barge being pulled by a tug along with a lot of pleasure boats going along. the canal. There were several interesting bridges along the way and stopped for this picture of new one in front of the old style.

By the time we got back we had 63 miles. It was a fun adventure and a good way to spend a warm Saturday. There are a couple other places down this way I want to explore so I may try to get back here some time next year.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Laura Blows Us Off

First let me explain the title. Laura had a ride scheduled for this Saturday but then had a chance to take a glassblowing class so asked me to lead her ride. Laura has covered for me a couple of times so I don't mind returning the favor and I know that the glassblowing class she wanted to take isn't offered that often. So although I don't blame her for blowing off the ride it doesn't mean we can't give her a little shit for doing it. As far as the picture at the top of the post that is going to take a few paragraphs to explain.

Laura didn't have a route picked out for the ride so I decided to do a ride out of Lambertville. If I was going to lead a hill slug ride it has to be hilly. We ended up doing this route. The main goal of the route was to get to Rick Rd so that we could have 4 and a half miles of uninterrupted downhill and open views of the Delaware Valley. Joining me on the ride was Jack, Jim, Ricky and Bob who is back on the bike after dealing with some back issues.

Before starting out on the ride I decided to take a photo of the group giving Laura the finger. The way we show our affection for each other, in this group, is through gibes and insults so the picture seemed appropriate. I texted her the photo and we went on our way. 

The first 10 miles of the route was mostly uphill there was nothing steep but it was a bit of a grind. Although it was a sunny and clear day it was a little cold at the start (47) so the climbing helped get me warm.

To get to Rick Rd we had to spend 3.5 miles on Rt 579 and climb about 400 feet. The climb wasn't bad as there were no really steep parts and there were a few flat spots along the way. However there was more traffic on the road than I expected. It was more annoying than dangerous but I will probably find a better way to Rick Rd.

Once we were on Rick Rd and started down hill I didn't pedal for 10 mins and was cruising above 20 mph. It was a clear day so the views were great. I didn't stop for any picture, well because that's what Laura would have done.

Six miles and 750 feet of vertical drop later we were at the Bridge Street Cafe in Frenchtown. I got a reply from my text to Laura that said the picture made her feel jealous and loved at the same time.

The cafe was really crowded with other cyclist there had to be over 30 of them there. Based on the Laura's reply Jim thought we should send her another picture. I was going to take a picture of Jim, Bob, Jack and Ricky giving the finger again but Jim went and talked to all the other cyclist sitting at the tables and ask them if they won't mind helping us with a picture. They were surprising enthusiastic about giving somebody the finger. I think in all 15 people flipped off Laura. I texted her the new picture saying "More love from the rest stop". I thought it was pretty funny.

On the way back we started out on 29 for 4 flat miles before climbing up Warsaw and making our way to Federal Twist where Jack made it down the top half safely before we turned on Raven's Rock to head back to Lambertville. By the time we got back we had done 50 miles with 3000 feet of climbing. It was nice to do a long hilly ride before the colder weather sets in.

Although we did bust Laura a little today for missing the ride we did miss her and hope to insult her in person next week.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Change of Pace

I passed on riding with the hill slugs this week to do a local ride and see a few people I haven't seen in a while. I rode over to Ira's C+ ride and picked up Herb on the way. Since it was a warm day there were a lot of people there. I think there were 20 people on Ira's ride including Lynne, Bruce, Marc and a few other people I haven't seen in a while.

Ira's took us through Roosevelt and down to Emily's hill before making a stop at Phil's. I spent most of the ride just catching up with everybody and enjoying the fact that I wasn't leading.

At Phil's, Herb had a soft tire so I helped him change it. We told the rest of the group to leave with out us as we were planning on taking a longer way back anyway. After the tire change we headed out on 526 and in about a half mile I hit a large sharp piece of gravel that nicked the sidewall of my back tire and gave me an immediate pinch flat. So within 2 mins of changing Herb's tire I had to change my own.

At this point neither of us had a spare tube so we decided to take the shortest way back home. Which took us past Reed Rec area in Allentown where Chris and Ron were hanging out after their ride. We stopped by to talk to them for a few minutes before heading for home. We made it home with out any more problems. It was a nice relaxing ride and a nice change of pace after the last few weeks.


I also heard from my Swedish astronomer friends. After an extended vacation in the US they are back home and sent me a few of their eclipse pictures. Since I didn't take any picture on today's ride I decided I would share the spectacular picture they took just as the sun was emerging from behind the moon. It is definitely one of the best eclipse pictures that I have seen.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Big Skies over Peace Valley

Last year I did a ride in the fall around Peace Valley when the leaves were at peak color and decided to do the same route this Saturday to see if it was as scenic as I remember. I called the ride the leg buster as I have been trying to give my rides interesting name. It was a hilly ride with around 2700 ft of climbing but the route was nothing worst than other hilly rides we've done this year.

The ride was entirely in PA so after we crossed the bridge at Bulls Island we headed up Flecy Dale then through Doylestown on our way to Peace Valley. Peace Valley is a park that surrounds Lake Galena one of the reservoirs in Buck country. Its a very scenic park so we hopped on the bike path to take a look a get a couple of pictures by the dam.

After that is was an straight up hill for a few hundred feet to ride along the quiet roads on the ridge on our way to Perkasie. The roads on the ridge are mostly along open fields and farmland so you have wide open views of the sky. It was a mostly cloudy and windy day which made for some dramatic views.

I made a few changes to last years route to go through the town of Dublin. This lead us to Rickert Rd and a bridge out which makes it an official Tom ride.  This wasn't much of a bridge out. The bridge was fully intact and just had a couple of concrete barriers that were easy to ride around.

Our rest stop was in Perkasie at the Down Earth Cafe. Its got good coffee and good baked goods and is my go to place when riding in this area.

After the break we made our way back through more open farmlands and some more big sky views. We had mostly head winds on the way to the rest stop and finally got a few stretches with some tail winds. Although there was some rolling hills and a few climbs it was a relatively easy ride back to our starting point.

I like this route. Its hilly enough to be interesting with out being too challenging. Its also very scenic so this in a route I may do at least once a year.