Sunday, February 18, 2018

Indecision


I hate in-between weather because it makes it hard to decide what and where to ride. Saturday's forecast was for 35 degree weather will snow late in the day. It was going to be warmer Sunday but there might be snow on the ground and the roads so it might be hard to ride anywhere. I didn't see any posts or emails from anybody about rides. I wanted to get out on the road but Saturday would be too cold, for me, and Sunday might be too snowy. So I watched the weather and on Friday night decided not to decide until Saturday morning.

Saturday morning when I got up the forecast wasn't really any more definite. I know I wanted to do something so since it was too cold to do a road ride I headed to Washington Crossing state park with the mountain bike. The plan was to ride down the NJ of the canal path to Trenton since that is the only part of the trail that I haven't done yet. While I was approaching Washington Crossing I changed my mind and crossed the bridge to the PA side because when I looked at the map on Friday it looked like there were some interesting things down past Trenton on the PA side.

It was actually pretty sunny as I started south. The temperature was just around freezing. I thought that the path might be mushy and puddley because of the recent rain but it there were only a few spots I had to go around some water.

Just south of Yardley I ran into Jack and Dorthy on their morning walk and talked to them for a few minutes. I then continued on towards Trenton. The trail was in good shape most of the way and made for a nice ride but there was nothing really scenic along the way. When I got to the Trenton I took a picture of the crappy skyline of the capital.



I was planning on doing an out and back on the PA side but I realized I could cross over to Trenton and go back the NJ side. I cross over on the Trenton Makes bridge and then had to find the canal trail in Trenton. I did not have a map or GPS with me so I made a few wrong turns before stumbling into the canal.

The canal trail on this side of Trenton is OK but the architecture of the buildings on the canal is post 1960 semi flooded slum and I was happy to get out of the city. The trail was in decent shape and was not very wet so I made good time back towards Washington Crossing. There is not much to see here and I wouldn't ride this part of the trail for the scenery.

When I got back to the car it had warmed up more than I thought it would and was still sunny. I'm glad I got out and did what I did because it snowed just enough Saturday night to make riding on Sunday not possible.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Riding Through the Winter Weather



The past two weeks the weather has been just good enough to get a ride in. Last week it was 25 degrees and just over my minimum ride temperature. It was too cold and windy for a road ride so we rode the canal by Washington's Crossing. We went up the PA side and down the NJ side. The ground was mostly frozen but rutted from people riding after the preview rain so it was a little bumpy going over frozen tire tracks. The way back on the NJ size was mushier as the weather warmed up so was a little tougher ride. I was warm enough as long as I kept moving. The 21 miles we did was just enough to say I've got a ride in. The accumulation of sand and gravel dust turned to cement on the bike so cleaning up was a bit of a hassle.

This Saturday was warmer and good enough to get out on the road. There was a chance of rain in the forecast in the early afternoon but it look I would be able to get a ride in. I went on Tru's ride. Laura started with me from my house and we met the others at Etra. It was a big group which included Jim who is finally back on the bike after having bronchitis. It was good to see him again. We ended up doing a shorter ride than expected as Tru went from Etra to Princeton Junction and back. I didn't want to cross 130 again so I broke off on South Post Rd to head home after a brief stop at the rowing center.


I would have added a loop to do more miles but we went through a patch of rain and I was worried that more would follow. It turned out to be a good decision as it started raining about 20 mins after I got home.

Neither of these rides were great rides and as always at this point in the winter I have cabin fever and want to do more miles. There is only about a month left until the clocks change and things get warmer so although I am happy to get any riding in at this time of year I am looking forward to warmer weather.  

Friday, February 2, 2018

Super Blue Blood Moon


I don't consider myself a full blown astronomy geek but I do like to occasionally get out and observe some celestial phenomena.  This Wednesday was a lunar eclipse. I won't be able to see the whole eclipse since moon would set about 15 mins after the eclipse began but seeing the moon set during an eclipse might be interesting.

The press dubbed this eclipse the Super Blue Blood Moon which is such a misleading description that it might it gives people unrealistic expectation of what they will see. First a moon is called a blue moon when it is the second full moon during a single month. It has nothing to do with the actual color of the moon. The super part is equally misleading. A super moon is when the full moon occurs during the perigee (lowest point of the moon's orbit). However when the moon is at perigee it is less then 1% closer and there is no perceivable difference to the naked eye. Or as Neil Degrasse Tyson put it

"If last month’s Full Moon were a 16.0 inch pizza, then this month’s ‘Super’ Moon would be 16.1 inches. I’m just saying."

The blood red part is a reference to the color of the moon when it is full eclipse. Unlike the sun when the moon is eclipsed it is still visible because there is still light reflected from the edge of the earth atmosphere that can some times give it a slightly red ting but a lot depends on the amount and type of particles in the earths atmosphere.

To see the eclipse I got up a hour early and headed to the Mercer County park rowing center which has a good clear view of the western sky. When I got there I took a couple of pictures of the moon before the eclipse began. It was just above the electrical lines and was reflecting off the water which made for an interesting picture.



It was cold so I sat in the car and got out a few times to take some pictures. Right before the eclipse started I got a close up picture of the moon in the power lines.



I took all these picture with my good Canon camera on a tripod. The camera has a 12 X zoom which is just enough zoom to see some detail on the moon. The eclipse started a 6:48am with the moon setting at 7:01am so I would not see much of the eclipse and it might get lost in the clouds. I got lucky because it was a clear day. To get a better view of the horizon I moved from the lake to golf course and got the final pictures as the moon set. There was strip of clouds going across the bottom of the moon and you can just see the shadow of the earth starting across the moon on the top left. So although the moon was neither super blue or blood red it was still worth getting up early for.




Sunday, January 28, 2018

Winter Respite


We got a break from the cold weather over the last couple of weekends. Last weekend it made it to the mid 40s and I got out on Tru's ride where I was joined by a few regulars. Because I rode in to the ride from my house I ended up getting in 48 miles. This weekend the weather forecast was even better. It was going to start out a little cold but end up in the mid 50s. Because the Prince Freewheeler ride calendar has now caught up with the internet age I can post rides at a moment notice. So I  posted a ride to the pine barrens and sent out mail to the usual suspects.

It was 35 degrees when we started but sunny and given the cold weather we had in the beginning of January it felt balmy. I got some of the regulars to join me including Chris, Laura, Bob, Pete and even got Jack to come out of hibernation and join us.

This was the first long ride of the season so we went off at a modest pace especially because of a constant head wind. That and the fact that Jack had found a cut in his side wall before starting out. He put a couple patches on the inside of the tire and even wrapped the outside of the tire with duct tape. None of us were sure if it would hold or not but it didn't pop in the first few miles so that was a good sign that it might last until the end of the ride.

The weather warmed up quick as the head wind also picked up. At Smithville there was a bridge out but it was no problem riding over it. If fact it didn't look like they had made any progress on it since we came by this way last summer so it may be out for a long time.

We made our way through Vincetown and eventually to the Wawa in Browns Mill. I had an option for a few extra miles but we were all a little tired so we came back the direct route. The wind was still strong but mostly at our backs until the last 4 miles. Although we kept a modest pace I was feeling the lack of miles and felt that I was on the edge of cramping. It may have felt like a spring day but my legs knew it was mid winter.We ended up with 51 miles which is long for this time of year but you have to take advantage of the good weather when it comes around.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Long Cold Winter


After three weeks of bone chilling temperatures it finally got warm enough for a ride. So how cold was it? It was so cold that a stalagmite formed below my furnace vent. The flew gases from my furnace vents out the side of the house and contains a some water vapor. The water vapor usually just evaporates into the air but because of was so cold the water vapor immediately condensed then froze. After a week it was 3 feet tall. I was going to knock it down so it won't clog up the vent but on Friday we had 60 degree weather and rain that melted the snow and stalagmite.

The rain stopped early Saturday morning but the temperature was 35 degrees and heading lower. Laura, Pete and I had a email discussion, Friday night, about road vs trail ride. Road would be cold and possible icy but trail would be muddy. On Saturday morning with a 20 mph winds a blowing we decided to do the Lawrence Hopewell Trail because the wind made it too cold to ride on the road and the LHT trail is mostly pavement and would not be as messy.

Both Pete and Laura biked to the starting point on Princeton Pike where we started. It was around 30 degrees for most of the ride but the paved part of the path were ice free. The gravel parts were a little mushy in spots but mostly passable. We did avoid a couple of sections which we knew would be two wet to do easily. It was a tiring ride but not as bad as when I did it in the snow. You can see more details about the ride on Laura's blog

On Sunday to make up for some of the exercise that I have missed because of the cold weather I did a hike with Jack up Bald Plate mountain. On the drive to the hike I stopped at Washington Crossing park to take a picture of the semi frozen Delaware.



In parking lot was Chris who was going to do a mountain bike ride on the canal path. I talked to him for a few minutes before meeting Jack for the hike. We ended up doing an 8 mile hike. It was a hilly hike since we walked up to the top of Bald Plate but I'm glad it was a bit strenuous since it was 20 degrees out. I didn't have a problem staying warm though after the first half mile.

I had never hiked here before and didn't realize how big the park is. We also got some clear views of the Delaware and surrounding hills. I know now that hiking in 20 degree weather isn't that bad so if we get another cold spell I have another way to get some exercise in.  

Monday, January 1, 2018

So Long 2017



Happy New Year!

2017 is now history and I'm looking forward to what is to come in 2018. From a riding perspective I road a few more miles in 2017 and had some memorable rides. My last ride of the year was with Winter Larry on Christmas eve. I was hoping to get a couple of rides between Christmas and New Years but the weather have been too cold for even me to ride. When it is close to 20 degrees my camelback freezes up and so do most parts of my body. It looks like it is going to be another week before it is warm enough to try and get back out again. Until then I will see if I can come up with some interesting ride for the coming year.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

More Snow Biking


For the second week in a row, snow made it impossible to ride on the road on Saturday so it was time to do more snow biking. This week I decided to ride the canal path from Princeton to Rocky Hill. The ground was below freezing when the snow fell which made the snow more icy than last week. The path had about 2 inches of snow on it which made it another tough ride.



I was glad I still had the knobby tires on the mountain bike as I needed the extra grip. There were a few icy puddles under the snow that caused a little fish tailing but I managed to keep upright for most of the ride. I almost lost it on the spillway where the ice on the jagged stones on the spillway were as slippery as an ice rink. After trying to ride it for 10 feet and almost falling twice I put my feet down and walked the rest of the way over the spillway. I didn't want to risk breaking anything.




After the spillway the rest of the ride to Rocky Hill was uneventful. There weren't many people on the trail so it was a quiet ride where I could concentrate on enjoying the scenery.

One way back I stopped at the dam to take my usual picture of the red house in Kingston.



It was there that I noticed the strange spider cracks in the ice like shown in my picture at the top of this post. I assume something like falling ice from the tree caused these. I was only on the trail for a little over an hour an a half but according to my average heart rate it was a pretty good work out. Hopefully the weather will get a little better so I can do a little road riding over the Christmas break.