Sunday, July 14, 2019

Regular Thing

Great Blue Heron, D&R Canal near Griggstown, NJ

14 July 2019

I have to wake up at 5:45 a.m. in order to bike over to Plain Jim's Sunday ride at Six Mile Run. Each time I'm convinced this will be the last time I do this; if I drive I can sleep another half hour. 

Until the moment I leave the house. Then I remember why.

There's nobody on the roads at 7:10 a.m. on a Sunday. I have a clear shot all the way up Princeton Pike. Princeton's main drag is empty. There's no traffic near Carnegie Lake. On Canal Road there are more bikes than cars.

I can think about stuff, or not think about stuff. 

And this morning there was a great blue heron perched on the dredging boom in the canal. I doubled back for pictures.

I zoomed in.


I zoomed in again, past 40x, into digital.


The surface of the water looked like a Monet painting.


Jim had a big crowd today. His ride is catching on, which is great. He's getting more defectors from Cranbury.

Today he took us to Hopewell for a stop at Boro Bean. I think it was Ricky's idea to put our steel bikes together on one side of the rack. From front to back is Kermit, Ricky's Cinelli, and John K's Lotus.


I left the group after the break and headed up Carter Road for the ten miles home. There were two riders ahead of me. I passed one of them. On the hill. That never happens. Then we all got passed by a group of blue-shifted climbers. We'll call it even.

It wasn't even noon yet when I got home. If this ride is a regular thing, so is the post-ride, still-sweating lawn mowing and post-shower loads of laundry. I have my own Sunday triathlon.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Oops.

"Shortcut" 

7 July 2019

Yesterday's storms didn't do much to tamp down the humidity. I was on Rowlf, my 1986 Colnago Master, on my way to Plain Jim's now regular Sunday ride from Blackwells Mills. I had my GPS, which I always give an extra wiggle in order to make sure it's snug in its holder, recording the ride. Unless I touch the screen, the scree stays off, which comes in handy when I think I feel rain. If I see water on the gray panel I know it's not my imagination.

It wasn't my imagination. As soon as I entered Princeton I was getting rained on. Princeton, the exclusive town that it is, often has its own weather. I had a feeling that it would stop as soon as I passed through the eastern border. It did.

Jim had most of the regulars: Dr Lynne, Bill B, Bob N, and David S. Tom, who missed yesterday's ride, had parked in Rocky Hill to get some extra miles in. They'd seen a little rain on their way over too.

Jim wanted to stop at Thomas Sweet again, but he didn't want to ride on Route 206 at all, not on the way in, nor on the way out. Bob suggested climbing a berm between the shopping center and the Wawa. Tom had a better idea: There's an abandoned office building behind the Wawa; we could ride on Route 518, turn into the driveway, ride through the empty parking lot, and go across the grass to the shopping center. Jim liked that idea.

We took his usual route through Hillsborough. Somewhere in there we picked up Dave H, who has an uncanny talent of figuring out when we'll be where on Jim's route so that he can slide into the group.

Now that I've done this ride on three different bikes, I can safely say that Rowlf is the least of the climbers. No surprise; he doesn't have the extra gears that Kermit and Miss Piggy have.

Rowlf is better than Miss Piggy when it comes time to hammer, and when we got to the top of East Mountain, I hammered.

There were potholes.

I was at the end of the road. We were regrouping. I looked down and noticed that my GPS was gone.

"I thought I hit something," Tom said.

I didn't have that jolt of adrenaline I expected I'd have when I looked down. I didn't feel upset. I didn't bother to leave the group and go back; a search would be fruitless anyway because I couldn't be sure where it fell off, nor if it even landed in the road.

Oh well. Good riddance, Son of Piece of Shit.

"I'm sorry you're having an expensive day," Bob said. That part does suck.

"I know why it's gone," I told Jim. "Rowlf kicked it off. It's too new. He can barely stand the shifters, let alone the speedometer."

"Ha!" Jim said.  "Rowlf says, 'I don't need no digital stuff!'"

"'We didn't have none of this shit back in '86!' The speedometer is scared right now." I gave it a jiggle, you know, just in case. It was secure.

When we got to the empty parking lot, Tom led us in. We went around to the back, where we were faced with a steeply sloping lawn, beyond which was a small, flat area of grass, and beyond that a dirt groove in an even steeper slope.

There wasn't time to say anything because Tom, having coasted down the first section, hit a hidden bump and did an endo, landing sideways in the grass. He wasn't hurt. The rest of us walked our bikes down the slope.

Nobody tried to ride through the cut either. Road bikes aren't built for this sort of thing. Much trash talk ensued as, one by one, we gingerly made our way down the slope. Road shoes aren't meant for this sort of thing.



We navigated our way through the busy parking lot to the other side and parked our bikes against the wall of the empty storefront next to Thomas Sweet. Tom was messing with his handle bar. When his bike went down, it landed on the left side, knocking the shifter inwards by a good thirty degrees. He and Jim tired to move it back without tools. It wouldn't budge. 

Inside, where it was cool, we sat for a while. Jim was eating ice cream again. I opted for a smoothie, which had far too much whole milk in it. 

Bob, having finished some sort of pastry, got up and came back with ice cream. "This is a demonstration of my complete lack of impulse control," he said. "I'll call it lunch."

"It's 10:30," I told him.

We had a conversation about yesterday's weather. We'd all expected a day of downpours. Instead we saw lines of storms on the radar that would disappear before they reached us.

"I don't know how people live in Florida," I said.

"November through April," Dave replied. "It's beautiful."

"Yeah, but the roads suck," Tom said.

Still not wanting to ride on Route 206, Jim let Bob lead us out of the shopping center, back towards the Wawa. We had to climb a different berm. This one, at least, had a series of tree roots that served as steps.  Wawa parking lots are always chaotic. Bill commented that we'd have been safer on Route 206. I agree; at least there's a shoulder.

When we got back onto Route 518, the group turned north onto a side street and I went straight, making my way back home. For the third ride in a row I arrived soaking wet from sweat, my shins filthy from road dirt sticking to sun block. It was nearly noon. I had yard work to do. I decided to do it while I was still dripping. That way I could get weed-whacked greenery stuck to my shins too. It's a good look.

After I cleaned myself off and ate all the things, I plunked myself down in front of the computer to order a new GPS. Despite all of my griping, I'm sticking with Garmin. I have the mounting hardware on all of my bikes already and I know the software and its pitfalls. I'm not going for the latest and greatest; it's too large and too expensive. I've opted for a newer version of the one I lost. It should be here Wednesday. You'll hear me cursing anew next weekend. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Hot Sticky Gross

 
 Rocktown Road, West Amwell, NJ

6 July 2019

"Bring three cups," commanded Ricky, the cold brew monster I created. He wanted me to try his Guatemalan concoction. Martin, having heard that the extra miles come with cold brew, wanted in on the deal. I brought out three of my hand-made glass cups and my leftover Dead Man's (cold) Brew.

I'd expected the ride to be canceled, and when I woke up at 5:45 a.m. it was so dark outside that I was sure it was raining. It wasn't, and it wouldn't until some time after noon. At 6:08 a.m. I wrote to Jim, Ricky, and Martin to let them know that the ride was on. Now the three of us were headed north to the Pig under thick cloud cover and air that was nearly potable.

We picked up Jack H as we cruised past Twin Pines. "Did you list Twin Pines as the start?" he asked, "Because nobody's there."

"Sourland Coffee," I said. "I think." I didn't remember typing in the location at all, but I was sure that I hadn't written Twin Pines. I think.

The helmets outside of the Pig reassured me that I'd typed in the right thing.

"Blake!" I hadn't seen him all year. Len G, who I'm used to seeing on the Cranbury side, was there, as well as Brian T, who was riding with the Slugs for the first time.

"Are they bathroom-friendly?" Blake asked, gesturing towards the Pig.

"They're everything friendly." That's why we start there now.

Given the forecast and the heat, my plan was to play things by radar. We'd stay local and check often. We probably wouldn't get in the distance I'd listed, which was fine with everyone.

When I'm on autopilot I follow my standard winter route up Stony Brook, which is what we did. Brian was new-ish to these roads, so I did my best to call out when to gear down. There's that short, sharp, shock on the Stony Brook dogleg at Route 518, and if you're turning from Snydertown to Linvale you'd best be in a low gear.

At the top of Linvale I checked the radar. Nothing. "Might as well go to Lambertville," I said. We were halfway there anyway.

On Rocktown Road, I spied some cows I'd never seen before. I sent the Slugs on ahead while I doubled back. The herd was patient. A driver slowed, saw the cows, saw me with the camera, and gave me the thumbs-up.



 

I was far enough behind the Slugs now that they were waiting for me at the intersection. "Right turn," I gestured, and they followed me down the hill. I was too far ahead to warn Brian about the ass-burner between the creek and the forever-being-renovated barn.  "That was unexpected," he said as he caught up to me.

I waved the group ahead on Alexauken Creek. Blake stayed back with me.

"There should be a program where you can remove power lines from pictures," he said.

"I'm sure there are," I said, never having checked. (There are. I checked.) "But the power lines are part of the scene."



One can always crop, of course.


Or zoom in.


Rojo's seemed empty, which is to say that we found a table and didn't have to wait in line for more than a few minutes. It was only 10:00 a.m, which probably had something to do with it. Still spooked by last week's overcaffeination, I chose a smoothie instead of iced coffee.

Now that the clouds had dispersed, the heat was coming in, and the humidity was rising with it. I opted for a direct route home with as few big climbs as possible. We took Quarry/Rocktown out of the city and then retraced our steps back to Mountain Road. 

"I don't feel like doing Snydertown," I said. "It's annoying." So we went straight past Linvale and turned onto the dirt section of Stony Brook.

"It's a Hill Slugs thing," I explained to Brian, and gave him the lowdown on dirt roads and closed bridges.

As far as dirt roads go, Stony Brook isn't a bad one. There is the occasional pothole and random spray of loose gravel, but most of it is hard-packed dirt. Starting from Mountain means that the road is mostly downhill, which helps too.


I skipped the slow ascent up Wargo, too, choosing to stay on Moores Mill all the way to the end. We still had to climb on Pennington-Rocky Hill, but at least the pavement was smooth and there was some shade now and then.

As we waited for the light to change at Main Street in Pennington, I looked up to see a wall of gunmetal gray clouds to the west. "I think there's just enough time for us to get home," I said, gesturing towards Ricky and Martin.

Blake was more optimistic. "Well, sure," I said. "You only have one mile left."

It was tempting fate to go into the Pig, but I did, because chocolate cookie to take home.

We only spent a few minutes in the parking lot. We got back to the house at noon, with the sun still out. Threatening clouds were closing in.


Right about then, Blake texted, "OK, you were right about the dark clouds."

I didn't see his message until an hour later. I told him that we got home dry. "That's good," he answered. "It opened up like the wrath of God a few minutes after you left."

Eventually there was a little rain. After it passed, around 2:00, I went out onto the deck in my bare feet to take pictures of the hibiscus flowers — a weed shrub that I let grow because it's pretty — two of which had just bloomed this morning, the third, yesterday's blossom, already wilting.


In the time it took to move the camera towards the redbud leaves, the lens fogged up:


I wiped it with my t-shirt and tried again. Much better.


I was out on the deck for maybe one minute, and already I was starting to sweat. I went back inside, convinced that I should just put on my pajamas because there was no way I'd be stepping out again until the excessive heat warning was over.

Now it's 6:30 p.m. There's a big band of showers headed this way. Good. Plain Jim has a ride tomorrow and this sticky thing is getting old.

It's only the beginning of July. I don't understand why people move to Florida. I want to go north.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Avoiding the Chaos

Assunpink Creek at the East Picnic Area, Mercer County Park 

4 July 2019

I missed the Spring Fling and the Memorial Day All-Paces rides. As a Freewheeler in good standing, I ought to have gone to the Fourth of July All-Paces. I didn't, mostly.

Tom convinced me that the day was going to be too hot to start as late as 9:00 a.m., and besides, we'd get back in time for me to swing by the ice rink parking lot and catch people as they came back. This made some kind of sense to me, even though hanging around waiting for the crowds would have me in an asphalt parking lot at high noon.

So I got Kermit ready and left the house at 7:20 a.m.

It was already humid; it was almost hot. I took the bike path through the park to the picnic area, stopping for pictures of the Assunpink Creek from the wooden bridge.



I'd been relatively dry until I stopped. I pulled into the pavilion dripping with sweat. Tom and Ricky were sitting in the shade there, waiting for me and for Bob, who drove in a few minutes later.

Tom had a 50-mile route planned. We'd go down to Cassville. Knowing it was a holiday, he had four places in mind where we could stop. If all of those failed, we'd make our way to a Wawa.

His first choice was the antique store on Route 528. There was no way that place would be open, I told him. I was right. He figured that the bar across the street might be open, or the little doughnut shop on the other side of the defunct general store. Nope.

There was a tiny strip mall up the road, with a little deli in it. That was Tom's fourth choice. It was open. We got there as the shift was changing. A friendly woman rang us up; a friendly man took our trash and led us to the bathroom in the back. The place is called Mr. T's Family Deli. It's on Cassville Road. From our perch on the sidewalk by the parking lot, we could see the golden steeple of Saint Vladimir church above the trees a quarter mile to the north.

We went northeast from there, and for a handful of miles I had no idea where we were, although I'm sure I must have been there a bunch of times before. Tom assured me I'd recognize things in a minute, and when we got to Eltone Road near Eli Harmony my memory clicked back in.

In Cream Ridge, Bob had a flat. We waited in the shade, across from the vineyards of Working Dog Winery.



Tom got us back to Windsor Road and left us there. I turned towards the main entrance of the park as Ricky and Bob went straight towards the East Picnic Area. When I got close enough to see the skating rink parking lot I saw a bobble of helmets, to I turned in. It had just gone noon.

The faster rides had already returned and dispersed. Plain Jim, who led a C+ ride, was still there with TEW. I got to see Statler and Waldorf, which is always a pleasure, and I chatted with George D about rowing and his upcoming Anchor House ride that starts in the Finger Lakes. I saw Ira and Sue, which was great, because I haven't seen them since glassblowing swallowed me whole and I quit the Board of Trustees. Ken G had ridden in too, but his route home was in the opposite direction.

I was soaked and nearly out of water when I got home, with 64 miles under my belt.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Rides of Attrition

Hill Road Near Walnford, NJ

29 June 2019

I push the screen door open with my pinky as I carry two mugs of cold brew to the front steps.

"Sticky." 

"Yeah," Ricky says.

It's not hot, at least. Not yet. Still, by the time we get to Mercer County Park my arms are covered in sweat. It's going to be one of those days.

Jim and Tom are already huddling in the shade of the picnic pavilion. Chris and Andrew are in the parking lot.

We're heading southeast, to Charlestown House in New Egypt. Late afternoon will bring severe thunderstorms. We'll be home by then.

I'm wearing new shorts, which is usually a good thing, but today it's not. For years I've been buying a specific style and size from one company, and now I can't find what I want anymore. I went with two pairs of the upgraded version, which, had I read the comments before I bought, I would have known were running small. The fit is almost fine, a little tight around the legs. That's a problem in the hills but today's ride is flat. What's bothering me now is that the chamois ends in the same spot the saddle does, and if my position shifts I have to stand and hope the wardrobe falls back into place. It often doesn't. And if it's not going to feel right when I'm on Kermit, it's not going to feel right on any other bike.

(I have a new helmet, too, the last of the model I like. The newer version, which I also bought, has straps closer to my ears, causing turbulence so loud I can't wear my hearing aids when I'm wearing the helmet to commute to work. I'm almost due for new hearing aids anyway; I'll deaf my way through the rest of the commuting season and get new in-the-ear aids over the winter.)

When we pass the dam at Imlaystown Lake I stop for pictures and to give my butt a break.





I'm following the route I used back in the spring, downloaded from the GPS record of the trip. There was one spot where the track was off. I corrected it to the nearest road without thinking much about it.

I ought to have thought much about it, because we find ourselves at more or less a dead end. There is a dirt track where the road should have been, but it looks like a path through someone's back yard. We double back and I find where I wanted to go without much trouble. It helps that Chris knows the road I'm looking for.

Ricky and I have 40 miles when we got to Charlestown House. I've already gone through both of my water bottles.

As we dismount, a woman walks by and says to me, "I don't know how you guys do it. It's so hot!"

"A long shower after," I tell her.

The folks at Charlestown are biker-friendly. Not only do they gladly fill our bottles; they also offer to put ice in them. Their coffee is good, and this time there isn't vanilla in the cold brew. On every table is a roll of paper towels. I go through more than my share in a futile attempt to dry off. With a bagel oven in the back of the adjoining deli, there isn't much of a temperature difference between inside and outside.

Even though we're riding into the wind on the way back, I'm glad for the breeze.

We get spread out on Hill Road. I stop at one of the tops for some pictures.


We wait in the shade at the bridge near the mill.



I have to stop again when I see the half-hidden "hidden driveway" sign on Walnford Road.


We get spread out again. Stopping to collect everyone outside of Allentown, I decide we should stop at Bruno's for more water. Between Charlestown and Bruno's is only 13 miles, but I've already drained one water bottle.

Bruno's is always good for vintage bike porn. Today he has a 1952 Schwinn Phantom on the floor. A customer had asked him if it were possible to restore the thing. "With enough money I can restore anything," Jim Bruno had replied, and here it is, with shiny rims and a working horn. (The original wheels are behind the bike.)




Behind the Phantom is a new crop of old bikes.


Jim Bruno is bubbling over with details of his recent trip to Jim Thorpe, where he and his partner took a shuttle to the top of a rail trail and spent the day biking back, stopping for pictures and a picnic. He shows us pictures. Tom and I are sold.

Out front was an array of beach cruisers.


We get spread out again after the I-195 overpass on Route 539. I am taking the long way back to the park, opting for Perrineville Road instead of Gordon. Somewhere in there, Chris disappears.

When we turn onto Perrineville, Tom heads straight for home instead. We find some shade to stop in so I can call Chris. He'd taken Gordon to get out of the heat.

Andrew doesn't go back to the park with us either, heading towards home on Edinburg Road instead. That leaves me and Ricky to check in with Chris. In the few minutes we stabd by his car we start to roast. The headwind through the park, which alternates between hot and cooler, helps with the heat a little.

There's yard work to do when I get home at 1:30, but I don't do it. After I clean off and stuff some food in my face, I plop down next to Jack in front of the TV, and we catch up on late-night political snark.

When I look up again, it's dark outside. The rain comes soon after.

Sunday morning is cooler. I down some cold brew and hit the road on Kermit at 7:10 a.m. I don't know why I'm wearing the second pair of small shorts. It was a stupid choice.

Plain Jim has a good crowd today: Dr Lynne and Bill, Prem, Bob, and Steven S. With 18 miles in me, I ought to eat something, so I down a couple of Shot Bloks. They have caffeine in them, which I don't really need right now, but whatever.

Jim has his usual Bagel Barn stop planned. Bob suggests we try Thomas Sweet, a little farther up Route 206, instead. They have a bakery as well as ice cream, and they roast their own beans. Bob thinks he can get us into the shopping center without getting any of us killed.

We get spread out on East Mountain Road, as we always do. At the intersection with Route 601 I take pictures of the clouds, because there can't be a blog post if there aren't any pictures.  (Again, no edits. This new camera is aces.)




It's the longer route today, which I hadn't realized. At mile 35 I'm hungry. We're only a few miles from the rest stop, but I know not to wait. I down the last two Shot Bloks.

When we get to where Route 518 crosses Route 206, we take a left, turn into the first driveway, and hop onto a short stretch of sidewalk that gets us to the shopping center entrance. 

Unlike the Bagel Barn, Thomas Sweet is not packed. We're far from the only ones there (and those who are appear to be quite settled in), but there's more than enough space for us in the air-conditioned shop. Service is fast. Not thinking about it, I ask for a large cold brew.

Jim has himself a massive ice cream cone. "TEW is going to be jealous," I warn him. 

"I know she is," he says, and, with one hand on his camera and the other on the cone, takes a picture of it.

My plan is to go home from here. The only question is how to do it without riding the wrong way on Route 206 back to the intersection. Bob says I can cut through the parking lot and walk my bike over a berm to the next one. Nah. I ride with the group on the shoulder of 206 instead, breaking off in a few hundred yards to a side street that I know will intersect with another side street that will get me back to 518 in the middle of Rocky Hill.

I say my goodbyes and immediately realize three things: there are little hills back here; I've had far too much caffeine; and my shorts are completely wrong for a long ride on a humid day. 

When I get home I have to mow the lawn before I clean off. Then I do the laundry. When the offending shorts come out of the wash I throw them in the drier, which one isn't supposed to do, hoping that they'll degrade a little. When they come out I put them in the commuting pile, where I'll only need them seven miles at a time.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Turkey Top Turkey Top Turkey Top

At eye-level in the hallway

23 June 2019

It was my idea. After we painted the hallway it took me almost a year to put the maps back up. I put them back up in a different arrangement from before. The top of Hunterdon County was now at eye-level, and I found myself looking straight at Turkey Top. Naturally, Tom thought it was a stupid idea and gave me a link to a couple of his Cololuxe routes that got as far northeast as Long Valley. I played with the routes, agreed it was stupid, and sent the modified ones back. 

Last week, as we headed out towards Belmar, Tom said he wanted to lead his annual Cocoluxe ride this weekend. "Maybe we'll go to Turkey Top," he said. On Wednesday evening he listed the ride. Friday afternoon he sent those of us who had registered two GPS files. One was of his usual Cocoluxe route. The other, he said, would go to Turkey top, "if we are feeling strong."

The expedition would add an extra 800 feet of climbing in the same distance. We would be looking at 46 miles with 4200 feet of elevation gain. That's close enough to 1:1 in my mental shorthand for me to know that we would be in for a slog.

I made sure to get a lot of sleep and have plenty of cold brew ready.

If one is going to drive an hour to Peapack to start a ride around the corner from Cocoluxe, one might as well pack a cooler and get there half an hour early. Experience shows that by noon Cocoluxe is denuded. One wants one's chocolate mice.

"Turkey Top?" Tom asked as we got ready.

"We're here. Might as well."

Ricky said, "I've been working on my cold brew game." Uh oh. I've created a monster.

Tom's crew was all legs: Jim, Ricky, Pete, and Ken G. He and I played it conservatively, partly because we've done this route enough times to know what was coming, and partly because we're not, despite all appearances, stupid. 

We were barely out of the gate when Ken complained that his GPS was telling him he was going too slowly to match his previous speeds on Pottersville Road. I chided him for looking at his computer and told him to look at the scenery instead.

They all missed this:



We continued west to Tewksbury and across to Hill and Dale Road. We went north on Rockaway and Guinea Hollow. These were the prettiest roads of the route, but I didn't take any pictures.

We passed through Califon and crossed Route 513 onto Sliker. So far this was part of the usual path to Schooley's Mountain.

Both Tom and I had remembered Slicker up to the point where it gets steep. Somehow we'd both forgotten about that, having placed the steep part on Pleasant Hill Road, which has its own steep part, and which we slogged right on past this time.

We kept going, getting a little downhill reprieve in the woods. Sliker makes a hard left here. Somebody felt it necessary to decorate the bend with a pot of flowers.


We turned onto Anthony Road, then hooked a right on Mount Lebanon and started climbing again.

Tom and I, being at the back of the pack, arrived at Turkey Top as Pete was singing: "Turkey Top Turkey Top Turkey Top New Jersey!"


Tom said, "Your singing's worse than Jim's."

"Aww!"

"Hey," I said. "You ride with Tom you're gonna feel the burn."

"One way or another," Jim said.

Then we turned left and descended for a mile. It was worth the trip.

"Now we have a 500-foot climb," Tom said. There was much changing of gears.

We were up on a ridge now, the one that frames the northern side of Long Valley, and, while it wasn't exactly flat, it felt like flat. We took our break at the combination post office-general store at the top of Schooley's Mountain.

The rest of the ride was more downhill than up. I remembered Four Bridges Road as prettier than it actually is, although it's plenty pretty. What I'd forgotten until we hit the s-curves is how hard I hit the brakes going around them. For all that Miss Piggy helps me get up the hills, I never trust her to get me down them.

At the bottom of North Four Bridges Road is a dam and a bridge crossing the North Branch of the Raritan River. Jim was already there taking pictures.







South Four Bridges Road was more built-up.

Not finished with the North-South thing, we turned onto North Road and then South Road to get around the center of Chester. Both go more or less east-west.

We collected ourselves at the beginning of Ironia Road.


We climbed another hill and then spent the next mile or so descending. With the end so close, we got spread out. I stopped on Willow to take a picture of some sort of farming thingy.

The end of the route runs along the South Branch of the Raritan River, which means we hit both branches near their northernmost points.


Somewhere in there was one more little hill. I was so done with hills.

I wasn't done with pastries, though. With my cooler only half-full and a lab cookout to go to as soon as I got home and cleaned up, I decided to take the 12-minute drive up to Chester to visit a bakery there, on recommendation from a colleague who would be hosting the cookout. I think I found the last parking spot on the main street. The sidewalks were full of people and dogs. Chester is the kind of place where I'd spend all my money on stuff I don't need and not feel bad about it. If Chester weren't over an hour from home I might consider doing just that.

I didn't pull into my driveway until nearly 3:30. Jack, after being up since midnight our time and flying home from a 10-day work trip overseas, would be on a 4:30 train. I bailed on the party, which would take me over half an hour to get to, and promised the host her bag of cookies. 

I'd signed up for Jim's recovery ride from Six Mile Run to the Pig. Miss Piggy needs some cable tweaking, so I got Rowlf ready instead.

Jack, being six hours ahead of us, had no problem going to sleep early and woke up shortly after I did when my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. It seems perverse to get up earlier on weekends than during the week, but one benefit of riding to Six Mile from home is that, after peeling off from the group at the rest stop, I'm back home before noon. Another benefit is that, as the days get hotter, the early start will get us out of the worst of it.  So, Rowlf and I made our way up to the park, where we joined Jim, Prem, Ricky, Mindy, and Rich K (who, after I figured out that he was Rich K, we figured out I haven't seen since 2008; no surprise, being that he's the quintessential fastboy). 

As a recovery route, the trip to the Pig is more gentle than the Bagel Barn routes. That having been said,  we did have to get over Province Line Road the hard way, from north to south at Route 518. Poor Mindy; never having been there, she didn't know what to expect from the towering wall of asphalt that is the second hill. Had I known, I'd have told her that the reward is the roller coaster-like descent that looks, from the top, as if the road has fallen off into nowhere. Anyway, she made it, so kudos to her.  We got into Pennington via Pennington-Rocky Hill Road where, on the descent from Cherry Valley, I let Rowlf do his thing. Now that's a bike I feel comfortable bombing downhill on. 

After filling up at the Pig, I stayed with the group as they made their way back east, breaking off where Cold Soil meets Carter. I got home so early I didn't know what to do with myself, so I mowed the lawn and did the laundry before settling down to blog.