Saturday, June 9, 2018

Slow Goings

At this time of the year I am usually doing longer and hillier rides but because of my wife's surgery to remove a heel spur I am limited to shorter rides close to home. My schedule has also been a little unpredictable so I am squeezing rides in when I can. Today I ended having to ride in the afternoon because of some yard work that needed to get done.

My wife's recovery is going well but slower than expected. It will be a couple of more weeks before she will be walking again and a few more weeks after that before she will be able to drive. It has been a lot of work doing all the things my wife normally does and has limited my free time to ride. I really don't mind doing all the extra work as it is a minor inconvenience compared to my wife is dealing with. You don't realize how hard it is to do normal day to day things with only one good foot. Its hard to get around the house (even with the knee cart), you can't really stand anywhere for long. Just getting out of a chair or bed is no easy task and taking a shower is a major ordeal.

My wife is dealing with it pretty well however although this is the time of year where she starts spending time at the beach so she is a little depressed that she won't be able to get to the beach until mid July.

Most of the rides I have been doing have been in the 35-45 mile range and are the routes I normally do in the winter close to home. I have been riding by myself although I do occasionally run into other rider and sometimes hang with them for a few miles. Last week I came across this turtle in the middle of the road and didn't want a car to run over it. While I was trying to figure out how to move to turtle to the other side of the road with out getting my fingers bit off, another biker came by and we grabbed a stick and pushed him into the grass. We then road together trading stories for about 5 miles.

Although I did a couple of group rides memorial day weekend I do not expect to get the insane bike posse back together until the beginning of July. Until then I will try to get what miles I can in to try and stay in somewhat reasonable shape.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Is This a Bike?

The definition of what is a bike came up when I put together this contraption pictured above. My wife had a bone spur remove from her right ankle last week and can't put any weight on the foot for a few weeks. Originally I thought she would use crutches to get around but because they had to cut her achilles tendon to get to the spur the doctor recommended the knee cart as it would be safer and make it easier to get around.

Of course after I put it together I had to take it for a spin. It has wheels, handle bars and brakes so it felt a little like a bike. After testing it out on a ramp I built to be able to get up and down the three step to the kitchen and garage I realized the brakes weren't adjusted correctly. I almost took a nose dive off the ramp as I glided down it.

No problem as I had the tools and knowledge to tighten the brakes. Now that my wife has used the cart for a week I can say that it actually is a lot better than crutches. With her knee on the seat she can easily get around the house with out the fear of tripping over a crutch and falling. It is also a lot less strain on the body overall. I guess it is officially a scooter but its close enough to a bike that I will consider it a new member of my fleet. Its got wheels, handle bars and brakes and is actually kind of fun to ride.

My wife bone spur was pretty bad. The doctor said her bone spur had a bone spur and it mess up her achilles tendon pretty bad so she will be scooting around on this contraption for the next 5 weeks.

Between the rain and getting the house ready for my wife to scoot around I haven't done much riding over the past couple of weeks. Until my wife is back on her feet I will probably keep my riding shorter and local and won't be able to do any really long rides until July.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Bugs in the Bonnet

We finally have some spring like weather so I have been able to get out after work and start building miles. Spring also brings the bugs back out again. For some reason during the last two years I have had a lot of bugs get stuck on my helmet. During Wednesday nights ride I had to stop twice to remove my helmet and release a bug. The second time is was a bee that almost stun me.

I knew there had to way to keep bugs out of the helmet. I thought about adding some screening to the helmet myself but found this helmet cover on ebay that is exactly what I wanted. Its a simple nylon net that easily fits over the helmet and should keep the bugs out with out blocking the normal air flow.

Today I lead a ride from Yardley to try to work on getting my hill legs back. Jack, Laura, Bob and Ken actual rode in where Ricky, Jim and I joined them. We did this route. It was a mildly hilly route. There were no real tough climbs except for a short but steep section on Holicong. It was a little busy getting out of Yardley and on a couple of short sections of 413 but most of the rides was on quiet roads.

This ride had a lot of ups and downs but nothing really long or steep and I felt a lot better than I did a couple of weeks ago so I didn't have a problem getting up the hills. It also helped that is was 70 degrees and almost no wind.

The rest stop was at Carversville which was crowded with other bikers. The way back was a little easier with a little less climbing and a 4 mile flat stretch at the end. It was a good ride in good weather and I plan to do a few more hilly rides this month to get back into hill shape.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tour de Barbecue

We didn't plan to spend five days sampling the best barbecue in Missouri and Kansas but that's what happen on our trip to St Louis. Our reason for taking a vacation there was to spend some time with my wife's niece and husband which we did. St Louis is kind of a empty city. Most of the industries that supported the city during the 40s and 50s have left and nothing has really replaced them. The city isn't run down like Detroit but there isn't a lot of life in the city or a lot to do. The main attraction is the Gateway Arch, the Anheuser Busch brewery and the Busch stadium where the St Louis cardinals play.

We were only in St Louis a couple of days so we found enough to keep us busy. One of the better things we did was go to Grant Park which is zoo/park. They have the Budweiser Clydesdale which are big and beautiful horses and we were able to get up close and pet them. We also made friends with some goats.

Besides the zoo/park we did visit the Gateway Arch. Its a hollow stainless steel structure that is 630 feet high. You can actual ride up to the top of the arch and see the skyline which I did. I got a few cool pictures of from both the top.

and a from the ground using the arch to block the sun.

St Louis is know for jazz and barbecue and we indulged in the latter. If you like tender melt in your mouth beef or pork you can't beat Pappy's in St Louis. It was definitely some of the best barbecue I have ever had.

We did take in a baseball game while we were there since we are baseball fans. The stadium is a nice modern venue with some of the most courteous fans I have ever met.

From St Louis we drove to Kansas city in search of more barbecue and to take in another baseball game. On the way we stopped for dinner at a Bandana's barbecue chain and for a chain restaurant the food was amazingly good.

In Kansas City we spent the day visiting some of the local landmarks including the surprising good Negro League Baseball Museum. We are baseball fans and like to explore the history of the game. I didn't know a lot about the negro leagues which existed in one form or another from 1920 through the late 40s. There were some amazing stories about the stars of the league most of whom were actually better players than the ones in the major league. One of the most colorful player was Satchel Paige who had these 6 rules to live by.

   1. Avoid fried meats, which angry up the blood.
   2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.
   3. Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move. 
   4. Go very light on vices such as carrying on in society. The social ramble ain't restful.
   5. Avoid running at all times.
   6. Don't look back, something may be gaining on you.

There are a lot of cool stories about him so you should check out some more of his quotes.

The negro league had a different style of play than regular baseball. They stole more bases, bunted more and were more aggressive at the plate. In general it was a more exciting game and when these player were integrated into the major leagues the game of baseball became better.

The other highlight of Kansas was more barbecue. We went to a place called Slaps which was even better than Pappy's in St Louis. The thing I like about the barbecue from this area is that they don't put any sauce on the meat. The rub on the meat and smoking process make the meat tender and tasty with out anything else. All these places have barbecue sauce if you want but in my opinion its better with out it.

We had to go back to St Louis to fly home and on the way we stopped at the Truman library. It was a small place but did a good job of showing the history of the man and his presidency. Harry Truman was president at an a very turbulent time in history. Between the end of WWII, the atom bomb and the establishment of the state of Israel he had a lot to take care of over his 8 years.

It was only a short trip but it was enough time to have some fun and get my fill of some good barbecue. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Taste of Summer

After weeks of close to freezing weather and some scattered snow storms we finally had some great weather. Last week I needed to wear most of my winter riding gear to stay warm. This week I was in my summer shorts and jersey. In fact when loaded my car for the drive it felt like I forgot something because I didn't have my shore covers, heavy gloves, or jacket.

It was mid 70s at the start of the ride. It was easily the best day of the year to be outdoors. It was one of those days where if you had plans that would keep you stuck indoors you would find some way to change your plans. Because of this I thought I would have a big crowd, like I had last week, for the ride but only had Jack, Chris, Jim, Joe and Ricky showed up. I guess not everybody is ready for a 60 mile ride at this time of year.

It felt good to have the sun on my skin and I felt a lot lighter riding without all the winter cloths. To mark the first ride of the year with out tights I got a shot of all our legs. 

Although it was warm and sunny there was a strong wind from the south. The route I planned was a straight shot down to Tabernacle and back. The goal was to sit in front of Nixions one of the best rest stops in NJ. The ride south was a wasn't bad considering we had a constant headwind but it just felt good to be warm while riding in fact I think I was actually hot.

The roads have gotten pretty beat up this winter and we found a number of roads that were rough and had more potholes then road. I hope now that it is warm that the NJ dept of transport gets to work on fixing some of these roads.

When we got to Nixions there were a lot of other bikers there. The great thing about Nixions is that it is not a Wawa and has a is own distinct pinelands personality as the Piney Power sticker on the front down proclaims. They have a good selection of food and the brownies and crumb cake are top notch. They usually have porta-johns  outside the store but they were gone. We found out that they finally added indoor plumbing and a dinning room. I guess this place is going upscale now.

From the rest stop if was mostly tail wind all the way back. I purposely made a turn up Philos Bridge Rd which I know would have some dirt. On the way down we had to around a bridge out by Smithville although that didn't really count as there is a foot bridge that can be used as a detour. So we did have some dirt and a bridge out to make it an official ride.

I took Birmingham Rd which was closed last year because of a bridge out but that has been fixed now. This got us to the highest point in Burlington county and the only real climb of the day. From there it was the normal roads back. I was glad we had a tail wind because I could feel my self getting tired. It also didn't help that I had a large piece of crumb cake at Nixions. It was really good and a lot more crumb than cake but it felt like an undigested lead weight in my stomach.

I was pretty shot by the time we pulled in with 60 miles. We averaged 15.6 mph which isn't bad for this time of year. I'm glad I took advantage of the good weather and got a long ride in because with the weather we have been having it hard to tell when there will be another day this nice. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Last Winter Ride?

Two weeks into spring and it still feels like winter. The Saturday snow storm did not materialize but it still was in the low 40s for a high. I put a ride on the calendar for Sunday which was slightly warm than Saturday. I decided to do the ride out of Cranbury because I have been doing a lot or rides to the south and wanted something different.

I road to Cranbury from my house and was joined by Laura and Jack. When we got to Village Park there was a larger crowd than expected. I ended up with a bakers dozens of riders including Winter Larry. This is the larges group I have lead in a while. I made up a slightly new route that I haven't done before. I did this because I wanted to try some new roads and also keep the group off balance so they won't ride too far ahead.

The temperature was still in the low 40s and didn't get warmer during the ride. This won't have been too bad expect for the fact that is was very windy and we were riding directly into it. Some of the roads we were riding on were busier than I normally do but being Sunday there were only a few spots that gave us any trouble.

The group stayed together pretty well considering there were a lot of different types of riders. Because of the way I went around Jamesburg it was a long way to the rest stop and we got there with 32 miles into the ride. We stopped at the Wawa on Rt 33 by Woodward Rd. It was packed with a bunch of kids from the indoor soccer field next store but there was enough staff to get us out of there fast.

The wind pick up after we left the rest stop and I was definitely slowing down a little. The last few miles into Cranbury were hard but the last 5 miles home were with a tale wind. By the time I got back to my house I had 57 miles. It was a tough cold ride but hopefully it will be the last winter ride of the season as it looks like the temperatures might be over 60 next week.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

This Ain't Spring!

Spring arrived at 12:15 pm on March 20th as the sun crossed the celestial equator. Usually this means warmer temperatures as the flowers start to push through the soil and the trees start to bud and bloom.  Not this year though, the coming of spring was just the eve of yet another nor'easter. The fourth of the month. March came in like a lion and kicked our ass all month. Warm weather is no where in sight. The blooming trees have been broken by the wet heavy snow that fell over the last few weeks. My dogwood tree is decimated with half its branches gone.The flowers that were pushing up hoping for warm sunshine have been crush by over a foot of heavy snow.

This is the time of year where I can usually start building some more miles in and even start riding after work. The only thing I'm building up is my upper body as I have literally shoveled tons of snow off my driveway (heavy snow is approximately 20 pounds per cubic foot so a 10'x10' driveway with a foot of snow is a ton and my driveway is 40 feet long!). Of course a snowblower would make the job easier but the snow has been too heavy and wet for me to use one. Then after the shoveling there is the clean up of the fallen branches and we are not talking about a bunch of small sticks I'm talking 4-5 inch thick limbs of pine and oak tress.

You would think that all this snow would prevent me from riding but it really didn't because the storms happened in the middle of the week and with the higher sun angle that spring brings there was enough melting to make the roads almost safe. I did spend one weekend riding in Tyler State Park but then I was out on Jim''s ride by the canal and Laura's ride out of MCP. Jim's ride was ball numbingly cold and Laura's was just a little warmer. With the right cloths you can ride in these conditions and get some miles in but it is not very enjoyable riding. The snow can make for some nice scenery but...

 I will be happy when this shit is behind us and I can loose the tights and heavy jacket and feel the sun on my skin.