Sunday, August 14, 2022

Cooling Down a Bit


It's been a hectic couple of weeks for me as my Baja decided to shoot a spark plug out of it's cylinder head. When it happen I thought I might need a new engine or car but it was not as bad as initially thought. They did have to lift the engine out and re-thread the cylinder head, which was not exactly cheap, but the Baja still lives and should have many more good years in it. 

We also had some construction at the house where we had a sliding door and some windows replaced which had me doing some spackling and painting. This along with some long days at work has not given me much free time. I have been biking but mostly from my house by myself as I didn't have the Baja to get me to a ride.

That why is was nice this week to connect with the posse again. Laura had her ride to Belmar where people get to choose the distance they want to ride. From 100 miles from her house to 68 miles from Etra. I chose none of the above as her first rest stop for the ride is about 7 miles from my house. So I rode in and met them there and followed them to Belmar and about half way back until I broke off for home and ended up with a respectable 53 mile ride. 

It helped that the heat wave we have had for the past couple of weeks broke and we had a day in the upper 70s with low humidity and not much wind. It was a perfect day for being outside and at the stop in Belmar it was as crowded as you would expect on a perfect beach day.

I'm always a little concerned riding into and out of Belmar on a Saturday as the streets are crowed with cars and people but even though we were a big group of 12 we didn't have a problem navigating the congestion. 

It was a good day for a ride and as we are moving toward the end of August the weather should be cooling off a little. Also with my house projects over and the Baja back in service I should have more time to do some more fun and interesting rides.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Summer Heat

We are in the dog days of summer now. That means riding in hot weather. Last weekend the temperature was close to 100 degrees so had to get out early for a short ride in order to beat the heat.

This week was a little cooler so I lead a 60 mile ride from Mansfield. I had a good turnout and we maintained a fast pace. We were over 17 mph at the rest stop. The route is pretty flat with a lot of long stretches with no turns which makes it easy to crank out quick miles. Heading back from the rest stop we had a slight headwind that slowed us a little be we mostly stayed together as it got a little hotter. 

Most of the roads are relatively smooth except for Eayrestown road which was didn't have a lot of pot holes but was just rough with a lot of cracks and patches. It will be off my list of ridable roads until it gets paved. 

The fast pace caught up to me about 3 miles from the end as I cramped up. It took me a couple of minutes to stretch it out and be able to ride again but I made it back with out any more cramps. As I have gotten older I cramp up more than I use to need to watch my miles and pace. I also have to continue to experiment with Gatoraid and Gu and other supplements to see if I can reduce the amount of cramps I get. 

Still even with the cramps I came in at 16.7 which was one of the faster ride I did on this route so am riding strong and definitely feel better this year than last. I just would like the weather to cool off a little bit. 

Still the summer does provide some good sunrises.

 

 
 
I ended up stay down the shore one night and got up to see the sunrise. It was a clear morning so ended up getting a couple of nice pictures of the sunrise which was a nice deep red.
 
We probably have a few more weeks of hot summer rides so will try to stay in the shade and keep cool until the the summer heat waves end.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

One Year Later

This Friday marked the one year anniversary of us moving into our new home. In some ways it is hard to believe it has been a year and in other ways I can't remember living any where else. The main reason for our move was to down size to simplify our life. The idea was to move into a active adult community so that we would have the amenities we wanted like an indoor and outdoor pool and a gym without having to take care of them. 

The move has worked out more or less as we expected. This house is much easier to take care of. First is less than 20 years old so it is 40 years newer than our old house and was built with more modern materials and techniques. We had to replace some worn appliances but the first owners of the house only used it part time so it is in good shape. 

We really like the house's open floor plan. Its nice to be able see the TV from the dinning room or kitchen and be able to talk to people no matter where they are sitting. It took us a few months to get things set up how we wanted but now we are very comfortable in the house and don't really miss the old house at all. 

 All the outside work of cutting the lawn and shoveling the snow is part of our maintenance fee so we don't have to worry or deal with any of that. That fee also includes the maintenance of a indoor and outdoor pool, club house game room, golf course and tennis course and a few other nice features of the community. 

I don't play golf and don't plan to take it up but the golf course provides a lot of open space which means that the back of the houses either face the golf course or the woods and so when you go out on your patio you are not staring at the back of someone else's house. The golf course also provides about 5 miles of walking paths when it is not in use. They close the course on Monday's and during the winter and I have taken advantage of that by going for walks after work. I never did a lot of walking in my old neighborhood but this community is very quiet so I find it relaxing and gives me another way to exercise.

Since this is an adult community there are no kids running around or playing in the streets, except for the occasional grand kids coming over for a visit. This makes it a very quiet place to live. It also helps that the back of our house faces the woods. The woods are part of Bunker Hills Bog recreation area so we have a big buffer area between us and any other community or housing development. There are a lot deer walking around the woods along with a few other assorted small animals and an occasional snake.

Even though the houses in the community, like most adult communities, are close together it stills feels very private because of the way the houses and community is laid out and the low amount of activity. At first it was a little weird being in a adult community as their is a board that sets rules you have the live by and all the houses are very similar so initially it feels very regimented. However after living here it feels more like resort living than being trapped in the Stepford Wives development.

The big surprise for us and one of the reason we really like it here is the people. Everybody we have been are really nice and friendly. We see and talk to our neighbors on a regular bases (although the one on the left side lives in Florida for half the year). We now know a lot of people who go to the pool or play ping pong (my wife joined the ping pong club they have here). So now we have friend who will invite us over for a drink or ask us to come hang out with them by the pool. It definitely improved our social life even in the era of Covid. This place has a real sense of community. It also seems to be run fairly well as the home owner association seems to make reasonable rules and manages the finances very well as we have one of the lowest maintenance fees of any community in the area. 

So although the move last year was hard to do I'm glad we did it and are now in a place where life is simpler and more enjoyable. It will definitely been a good place to spend my later years. 



Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Fourth of July Fireworks

 

Being born on the fourth of July means that you are associated with fireworks. I have seen a lot of different firework shows both small and large on my birthday. This year for my birthday I decided to go see a big firework show for my milestone birthday. So on July 4th we headed down to Camden to see the Philadelphia fireworks from the Battleship NJ. We went for the VIP package so we got some food and drink and a place to sit on the upper deck. It was little tough finding a parking spot as thousands of people were heading to the river to see the fireworks. 

Once we got on the ship we had a comfortable seat at a table with a couple of my wife's friends. We also got some food and drink as we watched the sunset over Philadelphia.

And then watched day turn into night. 

The barge in the picture was where the fireworks were launched from so it was really close.

Once the fireworks started we had a front row view to the show which was worth the price of admission. 

There was a good variety of fireworks. 

Some were so close and large that they filled the entire wide angle view of my camera.

Others were so bright that they turned night into day.


Besides being a visual spectacular it was also an audio assault you felt the sound of the fireworks in you chest and heard them reverberate off the buildings on both sides of the rivers.

The show lasted for almost a half hour.  It ended with a finale with more fireworks per second than I could count. It was definitely one of the best shows I have seen in a long time but it wasn't quite over. After the show the Battleship NJ fires off six rounds of its "small" 5 inch gun which gave us an idea of how loud and violent a battle at sea would have been. 

It took a little while to get out of Camden and home so it was a late night but it was a memorable way to celebrate my birthday.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Trying Some New Things

This year I hit one of those milestone birthdays so I have decided to use that as an excuse to try a few new things. One of the things I have been wanting to try for a few years was a treetop adventure course. This is where you climb up into the trees and walk over different wobbly bridges and other swinging obstacles as well as zip lining through the trees. My nephew has done it a few times and the more he talked about it the more I wanted to do it.  

So this past Thursday my sister, my nephew and his daughter went to FlgX in Mt Arlington NJ near where my sister and nephew live.  

It wasn't the best weather as it was raining on and off but under the trees the rain didn't really bother us and it was cool which was good because going through the course really works up a sweat. It's hard to describe what the actual course is like. There are basically three types of obstacles you have to make you way across. The first are bridges where you have to walk across widely space planks or a narrow cable. These I didn't find to hard you just had to be careful to place you feet correctly to keep your balance.

The second type of obstacle is suspension objects. This is where there are some logs or balls or other things that are hung from cables that you have to make your way across. For example they had some 3 inch diameter logs hung like a trapeze and you have to step from one trapeze to another without falling. These were challenging and definitely used every part of my body. Legs, arms and core. The first one of these obstacles was hard but I got better at them as I did more of them.

The third type of obstacle was a zip line where you had to leap off the platform and glide over the trees to the next platform. This is easy once you get over your fear of jumping off a platform 20 to 30 feet in the air. 

I have to say the safety system at this place is amazing and I had no fear that I could actually fall at any point in the course once I understood how it worked. You have a full harness on with 2 clips and a zip line pulley. Before you start up the ladder both the clips have to be clipped in or you can't climb. As you move from obstacle to obstacle there is no way to unfasten more then one clip at a time so you are always hooked to something. When you are on an obstacle you have to have both clips hooked on to a cable. If you fall off an obstacle the most you could fall is about 6 inches before you will be hanging from the clips in your harness. Then you just pull yourself up and keep going. I was luckly as I never fell from any of the obstacles although I came close a couple of times.

The harness you are in is also pretty secure so the first time I did the zip line and had to hang by the harness it just felt like sitting on a canvas swing. 

You start out on a demo course which is only 5 feet from the ground so you figure out how to work the clips and harness and zip line pulley there before actually climbing up into the trees. 

 FlgX has 5 levels of courses that you can go through (Green, Blue, Silver, Red, and Black) each level gets a little higher and harder. It took us 2 hours to work our way through the first three levels. There are 8 to 12 obstacle in each level. It was challenging and tiring and a full body workout. It was also fun and rewarding. Not only because we made it through the obstacles but because we were joking around with each other and helping each other through each obstacle. 

We start up the 4th level but after getting a closer look at the challenges my sister and I decided not to go on. There was one obstacle you had to walk lengthwise over a log with nothing to hold on to. I didn't think my arms and legs had enough left to do that. 

My nephew and his daughter started the 4th level but my nephew had to stop halfway through as he pull something in his shoulder and had to be pull off the course. His 12 year old daughter made it all the way through and the last obstacle is doing a Tarzan swing into a cargo net which looked like a lot of fun so I'm sorry I couldn't make it there. 

The tree top adventure course was challenging both mentally and physically. Surprisingly I didn't have a problem with the height or the possibility of falling. It was good to push my boundaries of what I have comfortable with. Once I made it through the first few obstacles it was actually a lot of fun and something I may do again. 


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Southern Soujour

The southern part of NJ offers a lot of quiet flat roads. I try to go down there once our twice a year for a ride just for a change of pace. This Saturday's weather was going be a good day for a ride with temperatures in the 70s with partly cloudy skies and a little wind. Okay is was more than a little windy. 

Luckily most of the insane posse were back from their vacations and most of them were able to join me for the ride. So we got the band back together again. We met at Bordentown and carpooled down to Fort Mott which is by the Delaware Memorial Bridge. 

We got to the starting point just before 10am and were soon on the road. The first 10 miles we zig zaged into the stiff north west wind as we went through the swamp and farmland. Once we got the wind at our back we quickly knocked off a bunch of miles until we were at Bud's Market, in Alloway, which is literally the only place to stop down this way

It is actually a nice stop and there is a empty house next store with a porch to relax on. When Laura rolled into the stop she said she had a problem with her rear derailleur. Ricky took a quick look at it but couldn't fix it. He did put it into a middle gear. You only need a few gears down south as there aren't many hills or rollers down south.

From Alloway we did head up hill a little to one of the highest point in Cumberland County but at 145 feet is not much of a climb. As required on one of my rides we ran into a dirt road. We could of course have gone around it but where is the fun in that. I had spent time the night before the ride using Google maps street view to make sure we stayed off dirt and sand but I guess I missed this one. The surface was hard packed sand so we were able to slowly make our way about a half mile until we found a real road again. 



Here is Ricky saying the scarecrow says the road is that way while Bob is seeing whether he can get an Uber to get him back to the start. We eventually found a road an another deli to stop at where Martin got some more local info. He was told that we should head down this road down to a boat ramp for a good view of the river. However after a 2 mile detour and no sign of the boat ramp we turn around.

We did get our first view of the Salem nuclear reactor. At this point we had at least 15 miles more or less directly into the wind which was still a constant 18mph with gust probably close to 30mph. It wasn't fun especially for Laura who didn't have right gears to spin into the wind. 

We took our time and stop to gather up a few times and slowly made our way back. Right after we went through Salem I cramped and had to stop and stretch for a few minutes before continuing back to Fort Mott park. 

 

On the  way back into the park I stopped to get a picture of the ugliest light house in NJ. This lighthouse is about a mile from the Delaware river and is a different type of lighthouse. It's beam intersects the beam of another lighthouse near the river to mark the center. The lighthouse by the river no longer exists so this lighthouse in no longer used. 

We were all pretty beat by the time we go back because of the wind. Still I'm glad we made the trip as it was a change of pace and another fun adventure with the posse.









Sunday, June 5, 2022

Where is Everybody


The last two weekends I have had to do some rides without most of the usual members of the posse as they have been traveling or otherwise occupied. I posted a ride last Saturday that only got one person to sign up and then had to cancel the ride because of rain. I ended up doing a ride on my own on Sunday and then the All Paces on Monday. I was planning on leading my own ride at the all paces assuming enough of the posse would be there to join me but besides Jim, who was leading his own ride, nobody was there. I ended up on Dave's ride which was in the upper B range. I bailed after the rest stop because I wanted to swing by the old house the see it on my way back. 

This Saturday I posted a ride from Bull's island to ride through some of the covered bridges on the PA side. It was going to be perfect weather for this ride so I thought I would get a good turn out but only got 4 people to sign up. Two people I didn't know and Chris and Jim. I was surprised that Chris sign up as he hadn't been riding in the hills the last few years.

It really was a beautiful day for this ride. We walked across the bridge to the PA side and then headed up Fleecy Dale which had a road closed sign across it but the only problem with the road was it was full of large pot holes which were annoying but easy enough to ride around. The toughest hill is at the beginning of the ride after the turn on Wisner and has two steep climbs. I hadn't done any tough hills in a few weeks but had my triple with me so just shifted it into the low gear and ground up. I actually had to stop and kick the front derailleur to get it into the bottom gear so I need to adjust that before the next ride. Chris was the last up the hill. 

We continued on towards the first covered bridge but right before we got there Jim got a flat. After he changed it while his tire was on the ground and he was putting his tools away the tire blew out the side. Apparently the tire had a defect. Luckily Chris had a spare tire so Jim put that on and then decided to head back instead of continuing on. The rest of is continued on through the three covered bridges. 

The part of the route has a nice rhythm as it has some gentle up hills followed by some twisting long gentle downhills. The only problem is that most of the roads had just be rocked so in the shade it was hard to see where the rocks were and I was worried about the bike sliding out from under me. 

We did make it through with out falling and ended up at the Upper Black Eddy deli at the bottom of Bridgeton for our break. This is one of my favorite places to stop for a ride. It's got a nice set of tables out back by the canal that you could just sit out and relax all day. 

 

After the break we headed to the NJ side and climbed up to the ridge and rode past Sky Manor airport. It was a little warm in the sun but not uncomfortably hot. The clear sky now had some clouds which made for some good pictures. 


We finished the ride with a screaming decent down Federal Twist. Although there were a few problems with the ride is still was a good day on the bike. Hopefully most of the posse will be around for my next ride.