Sunday, March 26, 2017


Herbert Road

26 March 2017

I slept through today's group rides and did a solo recovery ride through the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area instead.

This is New Sharon Branch, on Old York Road's northbound side. We fly past the little bridge on group rides. I'm not even sure I've ever noticed the creek before.

Heading east on Herbert Road, there's a good view of the hills around Millstone.

With help from a few Freewheelers, the GPS navigation problem has been solved. With a test route loaded in, Charon guided me today without a hitch.

Unfortunately, the solution involved offloading all of my GPX files and reloading them as TCX. After doing that, and safely ejecting the device just now, the GPS has stalled on its home screen. I can't get it to do anything. I'm going to have to let it run itself out of battery power and see if I can revive it. The damned thing just came back to life. All the courses are there.

My hand-written 3 x 5 card cue sheets are looking better and better.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Testing the Boogers, Dodging the Rain

Sandy Ridge Road

25 March 2017

I sprung for a second set of hearing aids that I can wear outside. They're tiny. They fit deep into my ear canal, out of the wind, away from sweat. They do one thing, and one thing only: they amplify. The sound quality isn't nearly as good as my other pair. It's going to take time for me to get used to the pluggy sensation. And they look like boogers. 

However, they amplify well enough for me to hear conversation and approaching cars, which is all I really need outside.

My last road ride longer than my commute to work was a month ago. I knew I'd be in for a world of hurt at the end of the day. Leaders gotta lead, though, so I wiped Miss Piggy's chain clean and got her ready to roll. I needed to test the Boogers too.

Nobody met me at home for the 5.5-mile ride up to Pennington. Piggy's shifting was sloppy; I'd been meaning to adjust the cables but I'd kept on forgetting. Halfway up the little hill north of Denow Road, the chain fell between the crank and the frame. I wasn't even in the granny when it happened.

I knew I'd be able to get it unstuck. Eventually. Nevertheless, I texted Chris to let him know I'd been delayed.

The chain was wedged between the frame and one of the chain ring bolts. It took patience, a lot of moving the cranks one way and the other, and, eventually, threading my bandanna around the chain and pulling up on it for more leverage. I don't know how long I was working; it had to be more than five minutes before I got the thing free.

I showed up at the ride start, a few minutes late, with blackened fingers. Chris never got my texts.

A few fastboys showed up. They like to warm up with the slow chick before they get their game on. So it was that Ken G, Ed W, and Larry H joined me, Chris, Pete, Ricky, and Bob.

Tired of the same old turns, I'd planned a route that would go counter to what my regulars would expect. I loaded the route into my GPS, but, my GPS being unreliable, I wrote a cue sheet as well. Good thing I did; the GPS lost my route half a mile from Pennington. Six miles later, I reset the thing so that I wouldn't miss the turn up Woodens Lane.

The GPS behaved all the way to Sergeantsville. Somewhere along the route back, it shut itself down.

Ken, riding an old, steel, touring bike with wide, slightly knobby tires, got a flat halfway up Covered Bridge Road. We paused at the edge of a driveway at the bend in the road. Never having stopped here before, I took the opportunity to get a few pictures.

 We headed east along Sandy Ridge Road. There might have been a raindrop or two.

On Bowne Station Road near Queen, a kitty was comfy on a hay bale:

Of course, I had to say hello to the gals in Mount Airy:

There were a few more drops of rain. We ignored them. By the looks of it, we managed to skirt the worst of whatever came down. Burd Road in Pennington was wet, but we weren't.

The Boogers did me well, too. They stayed put, didn't amplify the wind, didn't short out, and, somewhere up in the Sourlands, I stopped noticing that they were there at all. I'm going to keep them. If nobody gives a second thought to someone who has contacts and a few pairs of glasses too, it oughtn't seem weird for someone like me to have two pairs of hearing aids. Maybe my next set will be boogers that do all the things my pretty ones do. Maybe by then we'll have microchip implants. Check back with me in 2020.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, March 25

23 March 2017

Finally, a Hill Slugs ride in the hills! The route is about 44 miles.

Meet for a 9:30 start at the Hopewell Valley School District building, 425 S Main St, across from Ingleside, in Pennington.

Extra-milers can contact me for a 9:00 start from my house.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cat Cafe!


17 March 2017

Nothing else we did today matters because we went to the London Cat Village.

Seventeen cats, most of them asleep, tea and pastries among the prevalent aroma of pipi de chat, and all the moggies you can play with in an hour.

As soon as we were shown our downstairs table, this fella climbed onto my lap:

He soon found something better to do. Jack and I got up to take pictures of the pile of sleepers under a lamp near the kitchen:

And then, along came Elmo.

This kitten purred and kneaded and talked and got his fuzz all over us.

There was cake and scones somewhere in here before Tashu, a purebred Bengal, arrived and busied himself with batting a hair tie around the floor. I helped.


Meanwhile, Fred found a lap at the next table and stayed there:

Nunu found one too.

Then our hour was over. I took a few more pictures on our way out.


The political posters around the corner are worth a mention.

More Views from the Thames

River Thames, Oxford

17 March 2017

Late nights and the Freewheel got in the way of blogging for the past couple of days. We've been wandering around London some more.

University College London:

We took a bus up to Oxford to walk along the Cherwell and the Thames, and then meet up with some friends.

Oxford University's Radcliffe Camera (left), the Bodleian Library (center) and All Souls College (right):

After lunch in a pub (where, finally, I had a jacket potato with beans and cheese, which, in the not so distant past, would have been easy to find, but now the potatoes have been replaced with quinoa and espresso machines), we tried to find the Thames canal and got a little turned around.

Here's the Hollywell Cemetery, which we did find by accident but didn't go into:

On our way back to the center of town, I spotted this Mickey Mouse tree in the distance over a wall:

We found our way to Christchurch Meadow, which borders the Cherwell.

Funky geese abound.

This goose, nestled in the middle of the path, didn't give a shit about any of the people going around him.

He didn't give a shit, but he sure left one as he rose. I didn't intend to capture the moment, but here we are:

Nothing is left to randomness at Oxford University. Even the fallen logs are carefully placed to look just so in the low afternoon sun. Or so it seemed, because this already looks like a painting.

On the other side of the meadow, "tree protection" appeared to have been confused with "tree elimination."

As we paused near here, we were approached by a friendly fellow who made sure we knew why the cows weren't yet grazing in Christchurch Meadow. One thing led to another and he was offering that global warming wasn't real and complaining about "foreigners." We ducked out, relieved that at least he didn't ask us about Trump.

The Cherwell meets the Thames near the center of town. We eventually found the canal path and walked along a stretch we hadn't been on when Jack was living here. We didn't have much time, though, before we had to turn around and get to the pub to meet one of Jack's Oxford friends.

Right after I took this picture, a Canada goose splash-landed near another goose, startling him. I swear it sounded like the goose in this picture was laughing.

In the bar, I decided I need the red Beefeater 24 bottle (middle shelf, center). Not what's in the bottle. Just the bottle. It's clear, red glass, and square.

After an hour, we went up the road to meet another friend of Jack's in a rooftop bar. It was 7:00 now, and none of the pictures I took survived the memory card purge. From the rooftop, we moved on to a small restaurant, and stayed there until 10:30 or so. We didn't get back to London until after midnight.

By the time Jack and I got out of the hotel room on Thursday morning, it was closing in on lunch time. I've been trying a different coffee shop every day; my choice was Black Sheep. The Attendant and TAP are both better, but these guys get a few points for their sign.

There are two large-ish coffee chains in England: Caffe Nero and Costa. Both do coffee relatively well. Two other chains, Patisserie Valerie and Pain Quotidien, are better for breakfast, but the coffee isn't as good as the indys.

We took the Tube down to the London Bridge station in Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames, to see the open-air Borough Market. Cheese, bread, cheese, produce, cheese, candy, pastry, cheese, fast-food stalls (including Ethiopian!), and cheese. We bought some gingerbread cookies, some candy, and cheese.

The market is next to the Southwark Cathedral, some of which was built in the 12th century. For a pound, you can take pictures. I took 12, so each of the following photos is worth about 83 pence.

This used to be part of the ceiling ornamentation. It's the devil swallowing Judas.

That incongruous tin foil mess is there for Lent. Up close, it somehow does look like a crucifixion scene.

It kinda does.

Outside, we passed the remains of Winchester Palace

and walked along the Thames

to the Tate Modern

where we saw lots of art
 Niki de Saint Phalle, "Shooting Picture" 
made by filling plastic sacs with paint under plaster and having her friends shoot the canvas.

and "art."

More "art:" human hair and car bumpers.

 Sheela Gowda, "Behold"
There is an Indian superstition of tying human hair
to the bumper of one's car to avoid bad luck.

When we got to the room of George Condo's work, the first thing I thought was that he must have been influenced by Ralph Steadman.

And when I saw this, drawn in 2006,

the first thing I thought was, "I've seen this before."
 Ralph Steadman, 1995, "Alsace Man With Corkscrew"

I have a print of it in my dining room.

On to Cildo Meireles' "Babel," a tower of radios and boom boxes tuned to different stations and droning on:

Is this art, or a stack of chairs?

On a balcony, one can look out at the Thames and play "count the cranes."

Back inside, Ibrahim El-Salahi will give you nightmares,

 "Reborn Sounds of Childhood Dreams I"

and Germaine Richier will help:

 "Chessboard, Large Version"

Bridget Riley will provide the pattern for your bed sheets:

 "To a Summer's Day"

Jean-Pierre Yvaral will test your ability to withstand a seizure:

 "Ambiguous Structure No. 92"

Or you can step outside and watch the sky change color as the sun goes down,

and then make your way to Chinatown for dinner,

before watching a production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf" from the cheap (ha!) seats and then walking home.