Andrew left us when we crossed Route 206.
We stopped at that bagel place on the corner of 206 and 518. I never remember the name. I suppose I could look it up, what with me sitting here at a computer and all. Bagel Barn. It's that cavernous, crowded place where you have to walk all the way to the back, get in line, place your order, and wait.
I ordered a pumpkin muffin. "Do you want pumpkin coffee too?"
Both women at the registers laughed.
"Pumpkin belongs in baked goods and on doorsteps, and that's IT!"
The muffin was worth the long wait.
As we were finishing up, Bob N appeared, in gym clothes and sweaty from a spinning class. He'd hurt his back after the Sourland Spectacular ride and wasn't ready for the road. We belong to the same gym, sort of. It's run by a local hospital and has a handful of locations. Management has gone and done a shitty thing: they've made all of their employees sign noncompete agreements. This makes no sense for fitness instructors, who cobble together paychecks from as many gyms as will give them a class to teach. Anyone refusing to sign was fired on the spot. Two of my friends lost their jobs. "Maybe I'll just run on the treadmill," I griped, not eager to put Beaker away for the commuting season*.
The guys turned north on a side street in Rocky Hill. I went straight, snaked along Crescent, found River Road, and spent the last ten miles pushing against the wind that had helped me in the morning.
There was enough grit on my legs, my water bottles, and on Kermit that I hosed the bike down at the end of the ride.
Jim is likely to lead with this route again. If you're looking for a mellow B recovery ride, this is a good one. If I have the legs for it I'll be starting off from home.
(*This is my seventh season commuting to work by bike. Each year I push the start date a little earlier and the end date a little later. Sunset seems to creep forward in the spring and rush back in the fall. I'm getting bolder about riding home in the dark. Sooner or later, though, despite my 3000-lumen headlight, there are going to be too many sticks and leaves in the shoulders for me to feel safe at night, and I don't want to have to change a flat in the dark when it's 45 degrees out. We move our clocks back an hour in a couple of weeks. I'm going to have to hang it up and grab a spin bike whether I like it or not.)