Monday, September 1, 2014

In Which NJ Attempts to Reclaim its Title as Number One in Weird

We can start with the iguana on a leash.

1 September 2014

We could start with the iguana on a leash, but we'd be getting ahead of ourselves if we did.

We'll start with the anatomically correct metal cow sculptures on Route 519, north of Rosemont, instead.  American Gothic meets nightmare.

John K, Blake, Bagel Hill Barry, and I were en route to Clinton from Lambertville.  I was repeating the route we'd done in March because the weather hadn't looked promising enough for me to bother coming up with something new.  As it was, the sky was mostly clear.  The humidity, however, was as beastly as it ought to have been for the entirety of July and August.

Anyway, we had to stop for pictures when we saw the sculpture.

Getting to Clinton from Lambertville is a slog no matter what route I take.  Along we slogged until the big payoff:  the descent into the Raritan River valley on Baptist Church Road.  We turned onto the Route 78 frontage road, which is much more scenic than the name implies, and then crossed over the highway onto Rupells Road.  It was there that a pick-up truck came roaring up the hill behind us.  As it passed, the driver flipped a switch and rolled coal on us.

Through the smoke, John raised his middle finger, which is probably just the reaction the driver was hoping for.  The smoke was thinner than I'd seen in the videos, and it dissipated quickly.

What, exactly, had the driver achieved?  Did he assume we all must be dirty hippies because we're on our bikes?  Given the number of right-leaning cyclists in our midst, clearly this fellow had not done his homework.  To me, it was a sign that his side has lost the war against global warming denialism.  John didn't get it either.  "They go after cyclists, Priuses, joggers, women, anyone they think is doing good." It's schoolyard behavior from adults; it achieves nothing.  I said, "It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt."  If it makes him feel like a man to temporarily blind people behind him, a coal roller is one sad, sad person.

Clinton was peaceful:

"Raritan River Ribbon," beaded wire, by Katherine Daniels:

We took a long break at Citispot. Blake took over the job as muffin-stump eater, as Cheryl and Jim were absent.  This one was chocolate.  Blake looked as if he'd been shot to the moon.

Leaving Clinton took a little longer than expected in part because of the iguana out for a walk on her leash:

"Where did you find the leash?" an observer asked.

"eBay," the owner replied.  "I typed in 'iguana leash.'"

John wondered if there'd been something in that diesel exhaust.  "Could be that none of this happened," I agreed.

Leaving Clinton, we turned onto Sidney Road.  I pointed out the cell tower at the top of the ridge in the distance.  "That's where we're headed," I said.

John whimpered.

It's a three mile climb.  Bagel Hill Barry showed us how it's done.  When John asked, Barry told us his age.  "I want to climb like you when I grow up," I said.  Dude has 21 years on me.  He smoked us.

Now the air temperature was creeping up.  We were going through our water as if it were summer.  We had one of those hot headwinds that isn't at all refreshing.

Towards the end of the ride, as we were all feeling beat, I had the nerve to remind everyone that next Saturday is the Sourland Spectacular.  Plain Jim is getting a team together.  Check his blog later this week for details.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Monday, September 1

1 September 2014


31 August 2014

The weather forecast is perfectly cuspy.  Check in here again at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow.  If there's no rain between Lambertville and Clinton, we'll start at the CVS parking lot on Route 29 in Lambertville at 9:00 a.m. and go to Clinton and back in something like 60 miles.

If there is rain up north but not down here, I'll head to the All-Paces ride and lead there if I'm needed.

I need to get something in tomorrow to make up for today.  8.5 miles into Gary W's ride, one of my rear spokes went "plink."  Thanks to one rider's zip tie, a piece of duct tape (I always carry duct tape), and a spoke wrench from a new guy, Fabio, I was able to wobble back to Etra Park on my own.  I got a whole 15 miles in.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Cambridge, MA, Day 2: Life In Glass and Behind Glass

[NOTE: Saturday's ride will be on Monday.  Scroll down two posts for details.]

Glass Black-Eyed Susans, Harvard Museum of Natural History

29 August 2014

This morning we met Chris, my college roommate, at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.  I wanted to see the glass flowers made by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka.  Years ago we'd seen their glass invertebrates, some of which were also on display.

Taking pictures wasn't easy because the glass was under glass.  At the start, we weren't sure if there were real specimens mixed in with the glass ones.  It took a few minutes to figure out that everything was glass, from the life-sized plants to enlargements of the intricate flower parts.

White oak:

Mountain laurel:



NJ native black-eyed Susans:

Sea slugs (not Hill Slugs):

Portuguese Man-o-War:

These are not glass beetles.  They are real beetles:

Real bees:

Jack found a stuffed moose among the mammals, so Chris and I had fun photographing him with it.  You'll have to visit him on Facebook to see it.

We left Jack to go back to his research fellowship work at the Harvard University library.  Chris and I always find Ethiopian food when we're together.  We started this when we were in college and have no intention of stopping.

Then we met Jack's college roommate, Andrew, at the Taza chocolate factory in Somerville. It's the only chocolate Chris will eat.  It's different; they don't use cocoa butter. The chocolate is gritty, but not in a bad way.  It takes a few seconds to get used to, the same way the first sip of a really strong, well-brewed cup of coffee is jarring if one is used to watered-down crap.

I was the annoying tourist:  I had to correct the guide when he said that the "caffeine" in chocolate acts differently from the caffeine in coffee. The "caffeine' in chocolate isn't caffeine.  It's theobromine. They're similar compounds, but they're not the same. After the tour I explained to him the role of complex organic compounds (think caffeine, theobromine, and nicotine) in plants as herbivory deterrents.  It just so happens that these compounds are addictive to us, and, as a result, the plants have thrived under our cultivation.

When describing the route the beans take from Central America to Somerville, the guide mentioned that they go through "America's Warehouse: New Jersey."  I let that one slide.  It's sort of true.

After the tour was over, when I got talking to the guide again, I said, "Where I live, America's Warehouse, we have a lot of small coffee roasters."

"Where's that?" he asked, confused.

"Y'know, New Jersey.  America's warehouse.  Like you said."

He turned his head away, embarrassed.

All three of us left with bags full of chocolate.

We went back to the B&B, hung out on the deck with Jack, and spent half an hour picking restaurants for dinner and tomorrow's brunch.  It used to take us this long in college too, not because we can't make up our minds, but because we easily distract ourselves from the main conversation.

As we parted for the night, I reminded them that next year we'll have known each other for 30 years.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cambridge, MA, Day 1: NJ Doesn'ft Have a Lock on Weird

[NOTE: Saturday's ride will be on Monday.  Scroll down to the next post for details.]

28 August 2014

For instance, this street-level patio.  Zoom in and tell me you're not creeped out.

MIT's Stata Center, designed by Frank Gehry.  Princeton's Gehry isn't as showy.

From the back it's ordinary:

This view is from the center of campus:

This is a not at all weird science building.  It has telltale hood vents.  Jack and I play find-the-labs every time we're on a new campus.  MIT is kind of a gimme.  Jack said, "There's one here, and here, and..."

This is weird.  And wrong:

We plunked down $10 each for admission to the MIT Museum.  It was money well spent.  Here are several of the many Arthur Ganson sculptures.

"Machine With Wishbone," creepy:

"Machine With Roller Chain," for the bike nerds among us:

"Cory's Yellow Chair," way cool:

I didn't get the title of this one.  It might be, or is at least similar to "Machine With 23 Scraps of Paper."

"Haliades," by John Douglas Powers (our Infoguy's secret identity?):

"Lalu," by John Douglas Powers:

Outside, wooden hexagons were being clear-coated.  

OMG, think of what this would do to a good paint job.  I can't look:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Monday, September 1

27 August 2014

I'm going to be driving back from Boston on Saturday.  The scheduled Hill Slugs ride will be moved to Monday for an Anti-All-Paces ride.

We'll start at the CVS parking lot on Route 29 in Lambertville at 9:00 a.m. and go to Clinton and back in something like 60 miles.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lying Bastard Multiple Choice Test

This is:
A:  How Tom's Insane Bike Posse marks its territory
B: A road crew gone rogue
C: How wealthy people in Bucks County react to potholes
D:  We have no idea

(answer:  D)

24 August 2014

The bridge across the Delaware River in Frenchtown is:

A:  The only flat part of Tom's Lying Bastard Ride
B:  Now charging a $1 toll
C:  So tired of being photographed

(answer:  C)

Tom's secret Bastard Loop was a surprise because:

A: It isn't on the route map
B: Instead of a steep hill, the Insane Bike Posse encountered a street fair with a jazz band, jugglers, stilt walkers, and free food (yet, strangely enough, took no photographs)
C: The Posse kept its collective front wheels on the ground

(answer: C)

On the Bastard Loop

A: OLPH couldn't shift into her granny gear until halfway up the hill
B: Tom couldn't shift into his granny gear until halfway up the hill
C: Marc made it up without needing a damned granny gear, you wusses
D: B and C

(answer:  You thought it was A, didn't you?  Well, it was D, so there!)

The Lake Nockamixon Dam is dry because:

A: OLPH was so thirsty she drank the overflow
B: Whitewater is released only twice per year
C: The dam didn't pay its taxes
D: We have no idea

(answer:  D)

True or false:

These are redwoods.

(answer: Sure, why not?  Who's gonna go check?)

The mysterious religious compound on Clymer Road is for

A: Worshipers of white columns
B: Abhorers of windows
C: Rosicrucians

(answer:  Rosicrucians! They're real!)

You know that pyramid with the eye on it on our dollar bills?

(answer: yes)

This car is:

A:  For Winter Larry to tell us the make and model
B:  What every avid cyclist's car should look like
C:  A very large lawn ornament
D:  All of the above

(answer: D)

This is:

A:  A rust-plated, award-winning, caged clove of garlic
B:  A farm implement
C:  Umm...

(answer: C)

These views are:

A:  Stolen from old versions of Microsoft Windows desktops
B:  The reward after 40 miles of hills
C:  Better in person
D:  Fake
E:  B and C

(answer:  E)

The number of road closure signs the Posse encountered was:

A:  1
B:  2
C:  3
D:  4

(answer: 4)

The number of detours and muddy stream crossings was:

A:  0
B:  1
C:  2
D:  3

(answer: A; so much for our reputation)

On the final steep hill, the Posse:

A:  Called Tom a bastard, as Tom predicted
B:  Gave Tom a big, sloppy kiss
C:  Was too out of breath to call Tom anything

(answer: A)

At the end of the ride, Tom said:

A:  He'd do this route again someday
B:  He'd do this route again on Friday
C:  He wasn't sure he'd do this route again

(answer: C)