Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Check List



I ended up doing Laura's ride to Upper Black Eddy this week and you can read the details about the ride Here and Here. At the beginning of the ride I lent Jim a water bottle because he had forgot his. This got us into a discussion about a check list. For the last 5 years I have used a paper check list to make sure I did not forget all the things I need for a ride. Since I have been using it I have never drove to a ride and not have everything I need. Now as important as having a check list is learning to use it the correct way. What I do is before I leave my house I take out the paper check list and for each item on the list visually check that it is in my car. This insures that everything I need is actually in my car because if you just mentally go through a check list with out actually checking the item is in the car you are going to THINK you have something when you actually don't.

This is a similar methodology to check lists used by pilots Of course forgetting your water bottle for a ride is not as tragic as a plane crashing because the pilot for got to deploy the flaps but there is no reason to not use a simple check list to make sure you always have all your stuff. 

Here is my list. I don't always need everything on this list (e.g. Jacket) but this way I don't need different lists for different times of the year.
    • Shoes
    • Camelback
    • Helmet
    • Sun glasses
    • Gloves
    • Snacks
    • Bagel
    • Water Bottle
    • Paper Towel
    • GPS
    • Maps
    • Jacket
    • Arm Warmers 
    • Shoe Covers
    • Ride sheet
    • Pump up Tire
    • Sunscreen
    • Tail Light

      Sunday, November 27, 2016

      Riding Solo


      It was a very busy 3 day week at work so it was nice to have a long weekend to forget about work and get out for a couple of rides. Unfortunately I had some maintenance work at home and at our place at the beach that needed to be done so I had to squeeze my riding in between those jobs. This meant I missed riding with the normal crew this weekend and had to ride solo.

      On Friday I got out early and decided to do a quick ride on the canal for a change of pace and to give the mountain bike a quick ride to see if it needed any tune ups. Beside a changing a flat tire up front before the ride the mountain bike is in good shape and ready to go as I expect to use it more as the winter gets colder. I drove to Princeton by Carnegie lake and did a quick out and back to Rocky Hill. This is my favorite part of the canal as it well maintained and has good scenery.

      On Saturday I did a one way ride to the beach. It was the standard route to Belmar by way of Farmindale and gave me a chance to ride by the Manasquan reservoir. It was just over 50 degrees and mostly sunny so not a bad day for a ride. I got close to 50 miles in and was at the beach by noon. I then had another couple of hours of physical labor at the condo I was done.

      Afterwords we headed to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants for a good dinner and coming home to finally relax after a busy couple of days. 


      Sunday, November 20, 2016

      No Turkeys Here

      Some days mistakes and unexpected circumstances come together to make a good ride. My Turkey ride was suppose to be the Saturday after Thanksgiving but because of an error some where in the process it was scheduled for the Saturday before. I had more people on the ride than expected including some riders who I haven't ridden with in a while. There was 5k race blocking some streets which could make it hard to make through Bordentown. These things make me a little apprehensive about the ride as we started out from the Peter Muschal school on our way to the pinelands along this route. I did perform the holy kickstand ritual before the ride just in case.

      The route I planned took us through Bordentown. There was a flock of vultures on top of a school watching us go by which was another ominous sign but none of the streets we took were blocked by the 5k and traffic was lighter than normal. We continued on down to Axe Factory Rd which has been closed for at least the last 5 years yet is the most passable closed road in NJ. The road itself is freshly paved and the only issue is a barrier across a bridge you can actual ride through if you are careful. I suspect the bridge itself is not safe for cars which is why it is closed and assume the state has no plans to fix it ever.

      After passing through Columbus we made our way to Vincetown along the way there were a couple of strip brakes as the weather warmed from 50 to 60 degrees very quickly. In Vincetown I by passed our first Wawa but stopped at a park for a bathroom break as I knew the Wawa in Browns Mill doesn't let us use their bathroom.

      We maintain a quick pace as we made our way through the pinelands and to our rest stop in Browns Mill. This is not one of the nicer Wawa and is in need of an update but it is in a convenient location. There were some kids out side the Wawa getting donation for their sports facility so we threw a few dollars their way while we were there.

      I took a different way back and went around the south side of the lake to add a few miles. This gave us a better view of the lake as well as took us past some active firing ranges of Fort Dix. The wind had picked up a little and was at our back so we formed a pace line an cracked up to Cookstown at 20mps+. I almost lost the group as they got ahead of me and missed the turn in Cookstown.

      The wind continue to push us back for the last 10 miles and we ended up coming in at a 16.7 pace which on the fast side. The good weather, favorable winds and lack of any problems with the ride make this great ride.

      Monday, November 14, 2016

      Supermoon



      If you have listened to the news this past week in between talk about the election results you might have seen something about a supermoon. The news describes it as the closest moon in the last 69 years which is not exactly correct and miss leads the public. This and other recent issues gives me less confidence in the news media in general.  If you want a complete description of what a supermoon is and why this one is special check out the article on space.com  However the simple explanation is that a supermoon is when the full moon appears near it perigee (the closest point in its orbit). So the special thing about this FULL moon is that it becomes full closer to it perigee than any other full moon has since 1948. It is a little bigger and brighter than normal but unless you have a way to accurately measure the size and brightness of the moon it is really not noticeable to the naked eye.

      It did give me an excuse though to try and take some pictures of the moon on Sunday night. At 8 pm the moon peaked up above the trees in my backyard so I took out the telescope and found the moon. I hooked up my iPod touch to the eye piece with my home made holder and took a bunch of photos. The moon is really bright when viewed in a telescope so you have to try a lot of different exposure levels to get a picture that is sharp and shows some details. You also need a little luck to capture the picture during moments of calm in the atmosphere. Out of about 30 photo I got 3 or 4 decent ones.

      I am still learning how to use the iPod touch to take photos so should be able to get some even better photos the next time there is a supermoon which is actually next month although it will be slightly smaller than this months.

      Sunday, November 13, 2016

      ROOVA Farms



      It seems like every fall when the weather gets colder and I'm looking for a long but easy ride I head to Rova Farms. From Mercer County Park it ends up being a 55 mile ride that has a few rolling hills but nothing that would qualify as a real climb.It is also very simple route with not a lot of turns so its easy to lead.

      I rode in from my house and met Jack along the way as he was warming before the ride. At the park Andrew, Raj, Peter, and new Jeff were waiting. It was about 40 degrees but sunny as we left the park and headed across 130 in to the edge of the Assumpink. It must of been the start of one of the hunting seasons because the park was packed with pick up trunks and people with guns. We even heard a few gun shots as we left the park. 

      We then took Rue Road down to Imlaystown on our way to Jackson township and our rest stop in Cassville at a gift shop/deli. Because if was still cold we didn't stop long and within 10 mins were were back on the road.

      The main visible feature of  Rova farms is St Vladimir's church with it large mosaic on the front. This area use to be a very popular Russian resort from the 1930s to the 1970s with people coming from NY and Philadelphia to rent the vacation cottages here. Most of the homes are now full time residences and besides the churches most of features of Rova that made it Russian are now gone.

      As we headed back to Mercer we ran into Neil and Mark in Turkey Swamp and stayed with them for about 10 miles before going our separate ways. We kept up a brisk pace as we headed back. We ended up averaging just over 16 mph. I split off to go home just before the park and got back home before 1pm with 60 miles. It was an easy fast ride and a good change of pace after doing mostly hilly rides for the past few weeks.      

      Monday, October 31, 2016

      Bike Nivana




      The Bicycle Club of Philadelphia (BCP) Fall Foliage bike weekend is consistently one of the best bicycle experiences there is. I have done this trip two times before and wrote about it HERE and HERE If you like to ride a bike and be around other bikers then this is a trip to bike nirvana.

      The BCP has been doing this trip for many years and have created a perfect combination of roads, accommodations and programs to satisfy any biker. In concept the trip is simple. They rent all the rooms in Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn, they provide cue sheets for 50 different rides from 15 to 100 miles, they provide all the meals and snacks you could want but most importantly they provide an atmosphere for bikers to gather and have fun.

      The main difference between the BCP bike weekend and other bike trips or events, like Bike Virginia, is that instead of the focus of the event being a set of routes to ride the focus of the BCP bike weekend is providing the resources for the bikers that come here to explore the area by bike any way they want. This provides a more open ended experience that is easier for each person to tailor to fit the experience they want to have.

      This year I got Jim, Jack and Dorthy to join me for the trip. When we got there on Friday afternoon. We meet Al in the parking lot. After changing into our bike cloths we took off for a 30 mile ride to the town of New Oxford. This is a ride I have done before but it is a scenic rolling route with a good rest stop with home made doughnuts and pastries. I felt a little slow but attributed that to being stiff from the 3 hour car trip. I also find it hard to start a ride in the middle of the day.

      When we got back the 200+ bikers that were filling up the hotels. My friend Tim from Kentucky and one of his friends had decided to come to this trip so I talked to him and made plans to meet him for dinner. The Friday dinner was much better this year. Instead of a pot luck meal it was a catered meal in the hotel conference room of ziti, eggplant, salads and assorted side dishes. They set up tables so we could sit down and socialize as we were eating. As is usual this provides a great way for everybody to talk and get to know each other. It was great exchanging stories with people I don't know but share a passion with.

      The hardest part of this weekend is deciding what rides to do as there are so many choices. You can just choose a route from one of the ride sheets provided or go on one of the rides that are lead by members of the BCP. For people who don't know the area or don't normally go out on their own this can be a little intimidating but since most of the people on this trip had done it many times it easy to get advice or find people to follow no matter what kind of riding you want to do.

      Since I had been out here before I decided to help by leading a ride on Saturday to Westminister MD. I made the ride sound a little faster and harder than it was going to be. Its not that I wanted to scare people off the ride but I wanted to make sure people would not get on a ride that was over their ability and not have a good experience.

      So Saturday morning I was out in front of the hotel looking for people who wanted to join my ride. I ended up a small group of mostly PFW people (Jack, Jim, John, and Al) my friend Tim and this guy West from BCP. It was around 45 degrees when we started but sunny when we started. After going through the town by the hotel we headed south and into the hills. The first main climb was past a reservoir before continuing on into endless farmlands.



      It is probably peak fall season here so it was a very scenic ride. The roads were mostly traffic free and in decent shape. This terrain was hilly. There was no real long climbs but there were no flat spots and although the climbs were short that were steeper than expected. The profile for the ride has shown the climbs in the 6-8 percent range but they ended up being in the 10-12 percent range. None of them were long or hard but I'm glad I brought my Synapse. There were some epic down hills that were not only fast but had just enough curves to make them fun with out being too dangerous (Although Jack might disagree). I hit over 40 mph a couple of times as we wound our way to Westminister.

      The town of Westminister is a old college town that ended up having a great little bakery that must be the hot spot in town based on the line at the counter. They had some really unique pastries as I got a piece of monkey bread. I'm not sure what is was exactly except delicious.

      The ride back was almost as hilly as the ride out with one longish climb. As we stopped and gathered at the top we all whipped our GPSes to compare sizes, I mean total climbing distance. We had between 3400 to 3800 ft of climbing so far with 15 miles to go. The total for the whole ride was suppose to be 3180 so as my legs were telling me this was a harder ride than was advertised.

      The last miles were more down hill than up hill but the little bumps were steep and we were all glad to be back. The ride was beautiful and Westminister is a cool town to visit so I accepted the post ride cramping as payment for a good ride.

      Saturday night we went to a convention hall in Hanover for a buffet meal. There was more good conversation and good food.

      My original plan for Sunday was to head to Loganville where they had a good farm market but that was more hills than any of us wanted to do. I spent time Saturday night modifying a route to the Gettysburg battlefield from the hotel. It would be a less than half the climbing with did on Saturday with nothing over 6 percent. It would also give Jim and Jack a chance to see Gettysburg.

      Sunday morning was a warm 60 degrees and sunny. It felt like early June and I was able to ride in a short sleeve jersey with out tights. I was a little stiff at the start and could feel the tightness in my legs but once we got rolling I was not worried about not being able to finish the ride. The route to Gettysburg was rolling but much easier then Saturday. I could feel the miles of the last two days so was taking it easy by downshifting quicker and spinning more than I usual do. The only real climb was up little round top which gave us a view of the battle field and its many monuments.



      We then took a brief tour around the rest of the park with a stop at the Pennsylvania monument before heading into town for a rest stop.



      After the break is was an easy ride back to the hotel. This really is beautiful country to ride in and like the last two time out here I wish I could spend more time here instead of heading back to the real world.

      As always this was a great weekend. Linda and the rest of the BCP team really know how to make a hassle free trip. The best part was spending extra time with people I normally bike with and being able dedicate a full weekend to all things biking. We are already talking about doing this trip again next year and even doing the BCP spring trip to Danville. So although I may no longer be in bike nirvana I know I will visit again soon.

      Monday, October 24, 2016

      Fall Colors



      For the third time in four weeks we had rain for part of the weekend. I had planned a fall foliage ride for Saturday but wind and rain made me move the ride to Sunday. I posted the ride on the blog and sent out an email to the usually crew but for one reason or another most of the crew could not make it so only Laura was able to join me.

      Sunday was sunny but still very windy. When I got to Bulls Island the front parking lot was full as today was the annual Bucks County Covered Bridge ride. This was the second week in a row that there was a crowd where I wasn't expecting it. The plan was to head through Doylestown to Peace Valley. We did this route which is a keeper.

      As we crossed the bridge to the PA side the fall foliage was in full bloom. We stopped for photos on the bridge and noticed how much the bridge was swaying in the wind. Then it was more pretty foliage as we went up Flecy Dale. Then uphill to  and through Doylestown and  more uphill to the top of Peace Valley.

      I think the hills felt harder than they were because of the wind which was hitting us from the front and side. At Peace Valley we hopped on the bike path for a ride around the Lake stopping for a couple of more pictures.



      The best view was from the dam looking towards the boats on the far shore. I zoomed to get a better picture but it didn't have enough zoom to get a good shot.


      So we rode over and I got a close up shot of the bright red tree. which was not as bright close up as it was from the dam



      From there It was our steepest climb of the day as we headed toward Perkasie. I didn't take the usual route which requires short climb up a 20% grade but instead explored some new roads which turned out to be traffic free and scenic. As we got into Perkasie we rain into a crowd of bikers on the Covered Bridge ride.  We took a break, in town, at the Down to Earth Cafe which is a hipster wana be place with decent food.

      The ride back was easier after we shook off the Covered Bridge riders who seem to be stopping at inconvenient places along the road. There were still a few hills on the way back but we had a tail wind pushing us along.

      As we road along the farmlands the sky and clouds really stood out so we stopped for a couple of pictures but still didn't capture what it really looked like.


      The last part of the ride was back down Flecy Dale which is one of the prettiest roads especially in the fall so we took a few more pictures before finishing the ride.



      This route felt a lot hillier than the 2400 feet that ridewithgps said we went. It was probably wind that make it feel harder but it was a scenic ride so this will be on the calendar next fall. I hope I can get some more people to join me next time.