Friday, October 11, 2019

Recovery Ride with Pig

Bovine Ennui

11 October 2019

Plain Jim being otherwise occupied, I listed a recovery ride for last Sunday. To the annoyance of one registered rider, I had only a vague idea of where we'd go. The only thing I new for sure was that I had to get us back to the Pig with enough time to hang out before the noon closing time.

Ricky and Andy M rode with me from my house to the Pig, where we met up with Martin and Luis (the only true export from Plain Jim's Sunday rides). They'd ridden in from home too. I get a lot of that when I lead from Pennington.

I improvised around the old Friday night route, which also serves as my solo recovery route.

We were at the intersection of Province Line and Rosedale Roads when Martin asked where Jim was. "Working," I told him.

"That's too bad," Martin said. "I was hoping to be in two blogs."

"I'll see what I can do," I told him.

The first photo stop was on Titus Mill Road near Route 31, where a flock of geese poked up from a field of grass.

On Woosamonsa Road we came across several cows expressing an outsized dose of ennui.

"Is it gonna rain?" Martin asked. "They say when cows lie down."

I told him about the guy on one of my rides years ago who suggested that the cows might be recovering from whatever they did last night.

"And they're not talking, the cows," Martin added.

"Hey," I said. "What happens in the pasture stays in the pasture." By this point, Ricky, Andy, and Luis were circling at Burd, waiting for instructions. We went up Woosamonsa and all the way down Bear Tavern to Jacob's Creek, where I haven't been in years. I'd forgotten how pretty it is.

I got us back to the Pig at 11:40 with 29 miles. One rider complained about the short distance. "I'm off by a mile," I said. "Report me to the Board." Besides, we'd all ridden in; we would all have over 40 miles by the time we got home.

We went inside and stayed there almost until noon.

Jim is away this coming Sunday, so I listed this ride again. It's going to be short again because I have to be somewhere in the early afternoon. I'll get back to my typical Slug slogs the next time I lead.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sandy Hook Off-Season

Manhattan Skyline Behind Boats in Sandy Hook Bay

9 October 2019

Tom corralled his Insane Bike Posse regulars — me, Plain Jim, Ricky, and Pete — for a trip from Monmouth Battlefield to Sandy Hook.

I've been a road cyclist for 19 years now, yet the first chilly morning of the fall always throws me for a loop. We all spent a few minutes figuring out what to wear. To make us feel colder, there would be a strong wind out of the northeast. I went with arm warmers, glove liners, and shorts. 

The battlefield is always worth a couple of pictures.

Tom led us through Colts Neck, where we passed a vineyard that went on for a longer distance than I thought financially possible in New Jersey.

Then we found ourselves at the old Bell Labs site, across a pond from what I think is a water tower disguised as either an early transistor or a life-size sculpture of a Martian from War of the Worlds. I prefer the latter; the truth is the former.

It doesn't come through in these photos, but the water was the same color green that shut down freshwater beaches last summer.

Then, in Middletown, we cut through a parking lot where a drunken clown creeped us all out.

What's scarier than a clown? A drunk clown.

The section of the Henry Hudson Trail that Tom had us on was ba-bump ba-bump over macadam-covered tree roots. We complained, of course.

The payoff was a view of Manhattan from Sandy Hook Bay.

We could see the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, too.

The trail went from blacktop to finely-crushed stone that was much better to ride on. This was the prettiest part of the trail.

The trail went through Water Witch, New Jersey.

Waterwitch!  As in,
  Navesink, Shabakunk, Ongs Hat, Jumbo
Wortendyke, Waterwitch Park, Blue Ball, Ringoes
Matchaponix, Delawanna, Wawayanda, Timbuctoo

Google it. I'll wait.

Then we were climbing the Route 36 bridge over the Navesink River to Sandy Hook. Pete and I stopped. Everyone else went on.

Shore traffic:

There is nobody taking money at the gate to Sandy Hook. There are no lifeguards. We very nearly had the place to ourselves.

"Hang on a sec," I told Pete as he walked towards our line of bikes.

"Oop! Art is happening!" he chided.

"Shut up."

Despite having stopped a handful of miles back at a Wawa, I was hungry. As everyone was taking off to go farther north on the path, I opened a pack of Shot Bloks and, forgetting that my dentist had told me not to eat anything sticky while I had this temporary crown in, hastily put two in my mouth.


Uh-oh. I pulled out the wad of Shot Blok. Embedded within was the crown, in two pieces. I chucked the whole mess into the beach grass.

The first time I was here, probably fifteen years ago now, I burned the bottoms of my feet on the hot sand. Now I've crunched a temporary filling. Sandy Hook will always hold memories, I suppose.

"Strange," I thought, as I pedaled like mad to catch up to everyone else, "Nothing hurts." I drank some ice water from my bottle just to make sure. Nope. Nothing.

I caught up to the guys just as we were about to pull into another beach entrance. Tom wanted some photos from the sand. So did I, but first I left a message with my dentist.  Tom assured me that there was a filling underneath the temporary crown, which is why nothing hurt.  "Just keep it clean. You'll be fine." The rest of the guys agreed, in a been-there-done-that sort of way.

Not that there was any risk of burning my feet again today, but I kept my socks on.

Back on the road, I saw a few men wading in the water on the inland side of the hook. I think they might have been digging for clams.

I miss Maine. (Shut up. This is pretty! Enjoy it!)

Twin Lights:

We left the park and stayed on the hook for a few miles. A flock of gulls rested in an empty parking lot next to the Navesink River.

The guys got ahead of me again, but I caught up before they crossed the bridge because the bridge had just been opened to let a fishing boat through. We got there as it was closing again.

We rode through Rumson to Little Silver, where we stopped at a pizza place. A group of three preteens pulled in on their bikes just after us. One had a most excellent pineapple-themed chain guard.

I chewed on my left side, occasionally landing on an errant piece of temporary crown grit.  In the bathroom I looked in the mirror to make sure I hadn't destroyed anything else. What I saw was half a tooth with a filling in it. Good enough.

When we stepped outside again, it appeared that Ricky's purple Cinelli had spawned. I didn't mean to take a picture of Jim and Tom admiring the offspring, but apparently I did, so here it is.

Although we had a tailwind for much of the way back, we were beat. All along there had been a moderate amount of traffic. It's unavoidable between Monmouth Battlefield and Sandy Hook. Compared to the height of summer, though, we got off easy.

But what was lacking in shore traffic was repaid in orchard traffic. The final miles of our ride was spent crawling along Wemrock Road, next to a half-mile long line of cars and groups of pedestrians headed to and from Battleview Orchard. As much as I hate that rest stop in the winter, I hated it more now.

The wind and orchard traffic were worth it for the chance to see an empty Sandy Hook. I always like beaches better when there are no people on them.

Too bad Martin wasn't with us. He could have been in this blog post.