Saturday, February 21, 2009

More Winter Biking

21 February

Over at Tom's blog is a post about how there's nothing worth seeing on the road in the winter. Tom, you are so wrong. You need to come out with us.

4 February

We had a small snowstorm in early February. Michael T. took some pictures from his house on Coppermine Road. You can see them here.

While he was doing that I was on my way to work. From the train window I got some pictures of the Schuylkill River, tracks on the east side, and the West River Drive in the snow:

7 February

The roads were clear by the weekend. We were worried about ice on Saturday but there was none. Chris, Mike B., and I headed for Lambertville on one of my usual routes. There are places we pass all the time that I've never documented until now. Here's the scene from the top of the hill in Mount Airy, on Harbourton-Mount Airy Road.

It's easy to get a good look at this old barn. When it comes into view we're not quite finished climbing the ass-burning hill at the top of which this barn sits.

A handful of deer watched me take pictures:

I've probably shown this farm before. On a good day when we look past the silos we can see the next ridge to the north.

Alexauken Creek Road is one of our favorites. The stream was recently given the most protection a stream can get in New Jersey. That means the water is clean enough to support trout, but even better is that there can be no more development within three hundred feet of either bank. This favorite road of ours will look like this for a long, long time.

In the summer there are horses grazing on this hill. Now there is a funny yellow hose wrecking the view. Back when I had a different wireless cycle computer, crossing under power lines used to make my speed go funny. I could do 70 miles per hour sitting still. These lines cross the road at the end, near where the road parallels Route 202. In the winter we can see and hear the traffic. In the summer all of that is hidden by the trees.

A dilapidated stone house near the creek:

The creek:

It's a little messy in the snow, and the orange cones are intrusive, but we like it anyway:

More creek:

When we finished lazing around Rojo's in Lambertville and headed back up the ridge on Rocktown Road, the temperature had climbed by at least ten degrees.

There are several ways to get out of Lambertville alive. They all involve climbing. The only way not to climb is to take Route 29, but one isn't likely to live to the end. While not the most difficult route (there's only one easier way), it's definitely the prettiest.

Here's a cornfield gone dormant for the winter at the top of the first part of the Rocktown Road ascent:

As the air got warmer snow on tree branches started to melt. I got pelted right in the kisser by a branchborne snowball I didn't see coming on Woosamonsa Road. Chris, behind me, saw the whole thing. "Nice shot!" he called out. I didn't laugh until I was convinced I hadn't been bombed by a passing goose.


8 February

Overnight the temperature never got below freezing. Everything was in a big hurry to melt. By the time a horde of us drove into the parking lot at the D&R Canal in Kingston, the dirt and gravel lot was an icy, muddy, slushy mess.

Mike M. led us into the Sourlands. I didn't want to hold people up, but I did stop a few times for pictures.

This is the South Branch of the Raritan River at Rainbow Hill Road. We were on yet another steel bridge. I have so many pictures of the Raritan taken from steel bridges I can't even tell anymore where I was when I took the shots. Someday the water is going to rear up at me and shout, "All right already! Leave me alone, you damn paparazzi!"

At the northern end of Rainbow Hill is a church. I don't do religion, but I like how the steeple looked against the cloudy sky:

We stopped at Peacock's, then climbed all the way up Lindbergh and down Province Line towards Princeton. This is the view from the top of Province Line before it crosses Route 518. The Sourland Mountain is in the distance:

There was water everywhere, a real rooster-tail ride. We splashed through a couple of inland seas. Even the little streams were loud with water. I try not to clean my winter bike; it's supposed to be a beater, but things were so bad I had to hose Gonzo down when I got home. I had to leave my shoes by the front door until the mud flaked off.

It was so bad Mike M. vowed not to lead from Kingston any more.

21 February

Chris and Mike B. met me at home today. We rode up to Pennington where the Fixie Gang (honorary Hill Slugs until the spring thaw gets hold of them) -- John D., Jane, and Howard -- were waiting for us with Jim, another ride leader.

Being on my last bag of Rojo's decaf Sumatran coffee, I selfishly took the crew back to Lambertville so I could stuff my jacket with another bag of beans. John bought a bag too so I didn't feel as bad. Nobody really complains about having to hang out at Rojo's anyway.

I forgot my camera today (!), which was probably a relief to all involved. There's no snow at the moment, and no mud either. Just near-freezing air and a good, strong headwind that had the decency to shift on us in time for our ride home. "March is here early," Chris said.

The Fixies added another hill to their Conquered Road list: Goat Hill. I keep doing that to them. I took them up Hollow and Coppermine a few weeks ago. Dispite my wish that I could match the Fixies at least once, these hills don't even slow them down. Chris, Mike, and I mop up the rear each and every time. We do get to pass them going downhill, but that's not really fair. Their legs can only spin so fast before they have to hit the brakes. Why these guys have given up the opportunity to dive-bomb coast down the big hills is beyond the comprehension of us geared types.

A piece of good news: Phinneas found a permanent home. He's staying with John and Hilda.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What We Did This Weekend

1 February

Part One: Saturday

When even Chris says it's too icy to go mountain biking, it's too icy to go mountain biking. So that was yesterday morning at the gym for me. In the evening was John's 50th birthday party. Our mountain biking crew went in together for John's present.

It was Chris' idea. When we were in the Pinelands three weeks ago Chris said he saw a pattern at Running Funky that matches the taxi cab pattern on John's fixie: black and yellow checks. Chris suggested that John needed those tights.

John, who was riding in front of us and no doubt heard every word, remained silent. I said, "No, that's too much for him. It would be better if we could just get the checks running down the side of his legs."

So I looked into it. Julie Rock, who does the sewing for Running Funky, and I traded emails. Hilda rifled through John's bike clothes when he wasn't around and reported back with a size. The tights were done in mere days.

They were the center of attention when John opened his presents:

"Put them on!" a bunch of us called out, so he did:

He wore them for most of the rest of the night.

After some of the crowd had left, Hilda brought out Phinneas. His eyes aren't blue anymore and he isn't as yappy, but he's still a cute little fella:

That's Jack holding him.

"Devil Eyes!" Hilda said when she saw this picture:

Hilda says she's going to try to find Phinneas a permanent home, but the rest of us think he's already there.

Part Two: Sunday

Noon had the temperature in the 40's and a group of us in Bordentown for an off-the-book ride led by the Joes. I think it was October when I last rode with these two. Today was only the third time this year I'd been out on my road bike, and boy, did 30 miles feel like 50. I guess I can blame some of that on the wind, but sheesh, four months ago what we did today wouldn't have even counted as a warm-up. And today's ride was flat, too.

I stopped for pictures twice. Only Mike stopped with me, and then we had to chase everyone else down.

This first picture is of a barn somewhere in Burlington County near Columbus. Little did I know that we'd be riding right by it minutes later. I didn't stop again, though. It looks better in real life.

We stopped in Columbus, at a deli in the center of town. I don't remember the name of the place but we need to remember that they'll make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat if you ask them to. The sandwich was perfect. The coffee was like water. I didn't even finish it.

On the way home I stopped to get a shot of this tree:

So, six more weeks, according to the groundhog. Then the prelude to Crazy Season begins.