Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 2 March

Wake up!  It's time to ride outdoors again!

28 February 2013

For real this time:  9:00 a.m. from the Hopewell Administration Building, Main Street at Ingleside, Pennington, 40-45 miles. 

Extra-milers:  8:30 a.m. from my place. 

Hills, coffee, probably some cows.  See ya.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Riding Small, Talking Big

Orchard on Wemrock Road

24 February 2013

For the first time in a month, the five of us who showed up for Winter Larry's ride were on our road bikes.

Ed had been laid up with what he called a "snarfle-virus," sporting a 103°F fever last weekend.  Ron had fixed up his old bike, the one that crashed.  Mark had been in Florida.  Larry had been home, going stir-crazy.  Tom had ventured out on his mountain bike in the snow.  I'd been spending hours at a time indoors on Gonzo, doing my level best to retain some of last summer's endurance.  But mostly we'd all been off the road because of the weather.

Larry figured he'd start us out gently, with a short ride to Battleview Orchards.  His route puts the rest stop very early, before we reach even 15 miles.  Naturally, I groused about that, but Larry said that he'd only memorized the route in one direction.

When one is on an early-season, easy ride with a tailwind, one has a tendency to make big plans for later on.  Today Larry, Tom, and I were plotting a trip to the Navesink Twin Lights.  Starting from Cranbury, the ride would be 100 miles.  Tom and I were good with that.  I need to lead a century sooner or later.  Larry spent the ride scouring his mental map for starting locations that would shorten the ride but not be too far for people to drive.  By the end of the ride he had settled on Thompson Park in Jamesburg.  That sounded good, because we could all go to Mendoker's bakery afterwards.

We tossed around some other big ideas while the tailwind pushed us, but I don't remember what they were. 

Near Battleview Orchard I stopped for pictures.

Battleview is the sort of place that makes sense if you've got a car or a big basket.  There are tables of apples and pears, aisles of breads and cakes, and rows of multi-colored sugary sinfulness that would only serve to bring on a mid-ride sugar crash. 

I'm a sucker for winesap apples, so I chose a big one for my snack. I had no memories of the coffee being good; today added to that.  I had to ask Larry what we were drinking.  He said it was coffee.  I threw most of mine away.

Hot, brown water aside, most of my  Battleview Orchard displeasure comes from it's too-early position in the ride.  I learned from the Tom H School of Bike Routes to put the break somewhere around five miles past the halfway point.  But some of my discomfort comes from the route itself:  it was the first one I was on after I found out that Big Joe had died.  I had announced his death in the beginning of the ride, and at the orchard we sat around glumly reminiscing.  On the other hand, it was on that ride, at the orchard, that Plain Jim introduced himself to me.  So, there is that and the winesaps.

After the early break, we were into a moderate headwind for 20 miles.  I figured that if I could pedal nonstop on Gonzo for two hours, I could push into a headwind for that long.

Tom and I were discussing which of my bikes would be better for the lighthouse ride -- there's a short, steep hill to contend with -- when something went wrong with his rear derailleur.  It didn't take long to figure out that his cable had snapped; the problem was what to do with it.  He decided to tie it around the bottom of his bottle cage, but the end wouldn't stay put. 

Fortunately, I always carry duct tape, a few yards wrapped around an old name card holder I snagged from one of Jack's conferences. With the headwind, Tom wasn't going to need his big chain ring anyway.

So here we are, at the end of February, with bubpkis to show for it.  We've got some training to make up for, so grease your chains.  If the weather is good next Saturday, we're gonna have to work for our rest stop.  I promise, though, that the coffee will be good.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saturday Riding?

21 February 2013


I'm in the book for next Saturday.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Almost Human

17 February 2013

(original is here; h/t Terry S)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc Postponed to February 23

16 February 2013

Let's try for next Saturday.  I'm not sure it'll be an official ride (gotta check the rules), but if the weather is favorable, I'm gonna be on my bike.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 16 February

16 February 2013

The roads are wet around here.  We're barely above freezing with a chance of rain or snow all morning.  Conditions in the hills are not going to be better.  I might regret this, but I'm canceling the ride.

15 February 2013

Gaah!  We're just on the cusp of dangerous conditions.  I'll make the call tomorrow morning by 7:30 a.m.

I'm concerned that the roads will be colder than the air, and that if it starts raining, this happens.

14 February 2013

UPDATE (5:18 p.m.):  WTF!?!  Now there's SNOW in Saturday's forecast!  Stay tuned...

Above freezing?  Check.

No snow on the ground?  Check.

Less than a 50% chance of rain?  Check.

Let's do this thing.

Meet at the Hopewell Administration Building, Main Street, across from Ingleside, in Pennington, for a 9:30 start.  We'll aim for 40-something miles.  Extra-milers can start with me from my house at 9:00 a.m.

Check back here on Saturday morning around 7:00 a.m. in case the weather changes.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Winter Pictures

9 February 2012

I haven't been on a bike ride since the middle of January.  My camera hasn't been away from home either.  I have been taking pictures, though, sometimes with my camera, sometimes with my phone.

Here is the January 10 sunrise, at 7:02, as seen from my bedroom window.  Terry C and Dale were taking pictures from their houses too.

We got a dusting of snow on January 26, after which I'd filled the bird feeders.  

Last night was our first real snowfall.  It was only about four inches, but it was enough to make the yard pretty.  What follows is suburban yard banality, covered in four inches of snow.

Our new deck gets its first snow cover.  Aww....

Summer inside, winter outside:

The snow and the camera make the pile of stump chips look flat.  Come spring, I have a lot of shoveling to do.

Even the sewer line vent looks kinda cute with snow on it.

This cinder block was unearthed during the summer renovations.  I keep forgetting to bring it to the curb.

There used to be a fence here.  Everything but this post had rotted away and was easy to pull out of the ground.  A few more years and maybe this one will come loose too.  That, or Chris C will show up early for a ride one morning and knock on my door with this post in his arms. 

Moxie watched me take pictures.

Fido Revisited

9 February 2013

Yesterday I had my first visual field exam since April 2010, which was four months after Fido appeared.

Fido is my blind spot.

It happened on the morning of January 12, 2009.  I'd slept badly, skipped the gym, and was getting ready to go to work when the bottom third of my right field of vision started flashing. Long story short, after nearly a month of other potential diagnoses ranging from migraine to stroke, I was diagnosed with "Multiple Evanescent White Dot Syndrome," a diagnosis of exclusion.  I was left with a hazy blind spot in my right field of vision.  It looked like the head of a Siberian husky in profile.  On the gurney in the ER that first morning, I named it Fido.

The neuro-opthalmologist who diagnosed me was the first of all the doctors to see the spot on my retina.  He thought it looked more like an elephant than a dog.

At the time, I could make objects disappear behind Fido.  The color of an LCD screen, Fido was fun to play with in Spinning class.  I could close my left eye and make numbers vanish from the display.  When an edge of a wall or an elevator door passed through Fido, it would shimmer.  When I walked out of a bright room, Fido was there, yellow in the darkness.

By the end of the year, Fido resembled a high-heeled shoe, best seen if my eyes were closed against bright light.  Nowadays, I have to stare at the ceiling first thing on a bright morning, my good eye closed, to catch a glimpse of Fido.  Nothing disappears behind him anymore; all he can do is blur a few words on a page.

I'd never seen a picture of my retina until I went to a new eye doctor last week.  My pupils dilated, she took pictures and turned the computer screen towards me.  That was no fair;  I couldn't focus.  I asked for a copy, but HIPAA rules had the computer disconnected from the office network.  I'd have to pay $100 for a copy.

So, yesterday, when I returned for the visual field test, I took pictures of the screen with my phone.  HIPAA be damned, here's my retina for the whole world to see, hundred dollars or not.

This is not a boob.  It's my right retina as seen by the camera.  The bright spot to the right is my optic nerve (which shows remnants of glial activity, a sign of a past inflammation).  The dark spot in the center is the macula.  If you look just above it, you'll see a faint, pale arc, like an eyebrow over the macula.  That's what's left of Fido.

Remember, though, that what we see is upside-down from the signal the retina gets from the lens (which our brain then corrects). I'll have to flip the picture to show you what Fido looks like to me.

I've circled Fido:

This is sort of what I see now, a pale, pale, pale gray shadow if I look hard at a white wall:

This is what I saw about a year after Fido happened:

This is as close as I can get to drawing Fido as he appeared after a few months.  He used to look much more like a dog than this.  He used to have jagged edges.

When had my records from Scheie Eye Institute mailed to me in 2010, the visual field test results, which had been printed on thermal paper, were missing.

All I have now are the results from yesterday, which I've altered to show you, more or less, what the test results looked like when Fido first happened:

This is the printout from yesterday:

Why am I feeling sad that Fido is gone?  It's because I gave my blind spot a name, isn't it?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Recipe for Winter Indoor Training

2 February 2013

Mountain biking is out.  I'm getting bored with the gym.  I slept late.  Very late.  What's a Hill Slug to do?  This:

1 Gonzo
1 fluid trainer
1 24-oz bottle of water
1 iPod
1 heart rate monitor
1 active imagination
1 room full of cat toys
2 fans
2 self-entertaining cats
2 hours

(Because if I don't tell anyone about it, it doesn't count.)