Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 20 December

18 December 2014

Bundle up and meet at the Hopewell Administration Building on Main Street, across from Ingleside, in Pennington, for a 9:30 a.m. start.  We'll go somewhere warm for coffee and muffins.

The route will be approximately 45 miles.  We'll be slower in the hills, but expect a true B pace on the flat roads.

Extra-milers can meet me at my house at 9:00 a.m.  Let me know ahead of time so I can let you in from the cold.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Last of the Stampede, and What to Do with $30

Woodsville Road

17 December 2014

Not having seen a hill since October, I mostly led from behind on Saturday. I didn't have a specific route in mind, but I did announce that we'd end up in Lambertville.

On our way out of Pennington, Pete G mentioned a group of leftover oxen in front of the Pennington school.  We went to look.  These are the Hopewell Stampede oxen that will be auctioned off at Grounds for Sculpture at the end of January.  Meanwhile, they'll be here.

This is our old buddy Moondrian, who had been stationed on Main Street at the Hopewell Administration Building.

An Ox for All Seasons, foreground, with Jersey Strong as an Ox and Art Toro in the background. Think Inside the Ox is hidden.

Here's Think Inside the Ox.

Jersey Strong as an Ox:

Art Toro:

I think this is the 69th ox, the one that wasn't on the list or the map.  His name is Indigene.

Jim and Marc among the oxen:

I noticed rather early that the guys in front seemed to know where I was going.  Familiarity is fine, but I don't want to become too predictable.  We were on Stony Brook below 518 when Pete said, "Ed wants to know if we can do Mine Road."  I hadn't been planning on it, but here was my chance to mix things up a little.

"Left turn!"

I heard grumbles.

After we got across 31, and then 518, and then 31 again, I headed east on Snydertown and north on Rileyville. I figured we'd go all the way to Wertsville and head west from there.  But then Pete said he'd seen signs that part of Wertsville would be closed as of an unspecified date.  I thought the better of having to ford a stream in December and turned us west on Mountain.

"Since when do you pay attention to a road closed sign?" Snakehead Ed asked.  Since winter.

We crossed 31 one more time.  When I signaled a right turn on Mount Airy, someone said, "You really are taking us the long way."  We were on our way to the cows when Jim told me that Jack H had popped a spoke.  So we took 179 into Lambertville to get closer to Pure Energy.

Jack was barely off his bike when one of the mechanics whisked it inside.  Snakehead said he'd stay with Jack and that the rest of us should go to Rojo's.  He added, "If there are only a few salted caramels left, you know what to do."

I didn't leave until I got a picture of the muddiest bike ever:

There were no caramels, and there were no tables, when we arrived.  Another group of cyclists saw us and cleared out for us, so Bagel Hill Barry, Marc, Jim, Pete, and I had somewhere to sit and wait for Jack H and Ed.  Right when I said that they seemed to be taking a long time, they came in.

Jack H asked me, "Do you have thirty dollars?"

I did, but why?

He didn't have the cash on him, so Ed had paid for the repair.  "I figure I'll see you before I see Ed again," he explained, which makes sense, because Jack H lives one town over from me, and we belong to the same gym.  So I forked over $30, which he handed to Ed.

On our way out of Lambertville, we mulled over the chances of a drive side rear spoke breaking. "Must be all the hills," I suggested.

Somebody (I think it was Jack H) said, "It's all the whining."

"But Cheryl moved away," I said.  (Sorry, Cher. It was low-hanging fruit.  I had to go for it.)  "Besides," I added, "If that were the case, my wheel would have exploded by now."

We crossed 31 two more times before I got us back to Pennington in 46 miles.  Marc and I rode back to my house, talking about life as a train commuter.  I don't miss those days, but it was never really as bad as it sounds to an outsider.

I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on chores and finally buying a Christmas tree.  I figured I'd put it up by myself, but I asked Sean and Dale if they'd be able to help, just in case.  Dale knows about the purple moose (it was white until I re-wired it  while housebound during a snowstorm last year), so I couldn't very well have them over until I got the outside decorations up. 

So up went the purple moose and the blue deer (I was housebound more than once) and some net lights over the new little box elders, and while I was creating all this tackiness, Jack H pulled up with $30 in an envelope.  After he left, Sean came by, walking Macy Ruth, and promising to help with the tree if I needed it.  I didn't: turns out a wrapped tree goes into a a tree stand real easy.

"We should still get together," I texted Dale.  So we did, and Dale got to see the purple moose.  I left the house without my wallet, though, so they spotted me the cash for dinner.  When we got back, I paid them with Ed's Jack's my $30.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bad Santas and Art Bikes

16 December 2014

I meant to post these pictures a week ago. I met a friend in New York City on December 6. She'd taken a bus in from Boston at 7:00 a.m., arriving near Columbus Circle at noon. I'd tried to dissuade her: New York City in the rain is an unpleasant experience. She was not dissuaded, so I jostled my way through polite, soggy, Broadway tourists from Penn Station up to Columbus Circle, wondering why Manhattan's rain is so much worse than London's.

If you're looking for bad Santa ornaments, the Christmas market on Columbus Circle is the place to be.

A better place to spend your time is across the street at the Museum of Arts and Design.

One of the current exhibits features contemporary Central and South American art. It includes photographs of these Panamanian "Priti Baiks:"

Next time you're ready to bust on my Kermit, remember these.

And then there was this:

And, finally, in a display case from an entirely different exhibit of objects the museum has coveted over the years, there's this:

Go ahead. Zoom in.

You're welcome. Sweet dreams!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 13 December

11 December 2014

Let's meet at the Hopewell Administration Building on Main Street, across from Ingleside, in Pennington, at 9:30 a.m. for a 45-mile ride in the hills.  Extra-milers can gather at my house for a 9:00 a.m. start.

The average pace will be well below 15 mph, with faster speeds if and when we find any flat roads.

I haven't seen a hill since October.  This is gonna hurt.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Lawrence-Hopewell Trail

6 December 2014

Tom and Jim both posted better pictures.  What struck me was that the sky was every bit as dreary as the one I'd left behind in Oxford.

I'd arrived from England about 18 hours before I got on Grover, my mountain bike, and rode up to the Princeton Pike entrance to the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail.  Tom led me, Jim, Joe, Dave, and JeffX on a 22-mile loop.  The trail is well-maintained.  My only complaint is that the signs aren't clear; on several occasions we had no clue which way to turn.

As the ride went on, we felt colder.  Jet lag hit me a few miles from the end, but I recovered.

This is at the Pole Farm, officially Mercer Meadows:

This is at the Equestrian Center:

My head was still in England, so when I took this picture,

I was thinking about this one from two days before:

In the evening, Dale, Sean, and I went to New York City to see Mike Doughty's Question Jar Show. Doughty is difficult to define.  He's a singer-songwriter-rocker-hip-hop-comedian who plays acoustic shows with his buddy, Scrap, on the cello.  After every few songs, Scrap reaches into a jar full of questions from the audience.  The answers and banter are sometimes better than the music.  (If you can listen here without having to sign in, you can hear what I'm talking about.)

On the train home, I fell asleep.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Port Meadow

27 November 2014

The sun came out around noon.  We took a bus to the center of Oxford, and then walked to the southern entrance to Port Meadow. A trail map at the entrance pointed out where the meadow floods in winter. This was the only part of the footpath that was raised and dry.

We followed the path to Burgess Field, to the east of the meadow.

Then we doubled back to the entrance and walked west toward the Thames River.

We walked north along the muddy towpath.

On several gates around the meadow were notices that an environmental impact study was taking place ahead of a proposed development.  It was on the towpath that we saw this sign:

I turned around to look.  They lost the battle:

A dirt road led away from the river to a village.  We decided to follow it.

The Perch, the pub in the village of Binsey:

Again we doubled back, this time walking south along the Thames canal towpath towards the center of Oxford. The sun would be setting at 4:02 p.m. We had half an hour to get back.

Eddies in the canal:

The new graduate housing complex loomed to the left.  It was ugly and obtrusive.  It might not have been so bad had the architects attempted to blend them in with the older buildings in the city.  I didn't take any pictures.


Ducks.  (Mallards.)

An expansive community garden, the second that we saw:

Graffiti or not, Oxford likes its walls:

We emerged a quarter mile from the train station, where we could catch a bus back to Beechwood.  Here's the bicycle parking lot:

I chose the top level front seats so that I could get one good, last view of Oxford. At the edge of the shopping area is a churro truck, one of a small handful of food trucks around the city.

Tomorrow I have to be up at 5:00 a.m. in order to get to the airport by 8:00 for my 10:30 flight.  Every side and corner of my suitcase is stuffed with boxes of chocolate.  I can just barely get the thing zipped.

So that's it, my summer vacation.  See you at Winter Larry's ride on Sunday?