Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 30 April: Chocolate Bunny Ride

26 March 2013

Saturday will be our annual Chocolate Bunny Ride.  The route is an old one, created back when I was still afraid of hills.  This means that we'll go over the Sourlands on the way out but around the mountain on the way back.

The route is 51 miles starting from Pennington, at 9:00 a.m., at the Hopewell Administration Building on Main Street, across from Ingleside.

I'll have 44- mile cue sheets for people who want to do this:


will get a metric century if they leave with me from my house at 8:30 a.m.

Everyone who finishes gets a chocolate bunny.

(All photos stolen shamelessly from the Web, via Google Images.)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Windy Spring Saturday

 My legs will soon look like this

 or this.

 And my arms like this.

23 March 2013

Until Ed's broken shoulder heals -- his skis think shoulders look better in pieces -- Jim and I have been instructed to blog about our rides, so that Ed might ride vicariously.

So, Ed, here's what we did today:

Tom's ride started at 10:00, which gave me and Jim plenty of time to get extra miles in beforehand, and at a reasonable hour, too.  Jim's route got us to Etra Park in just under 9 miles.

The ten of us (me, Jim, Tom, Al, Ron, Cheryl, Mighty Mike, Herb, Dave H, and Chris) had near-perfect weather.  Although the sun was out, it was a little too cold and a little too windy, but compared to what we've been riding in for the past few weeks, it was ideal.

We wound our way through Monmouth and Burlington Counties, winding up at Phil's.  Caution to the wind (and there was plenty of wind), I ate rice pudding.  I warned people, "I'm either gonna throw up or kick ass."  I did neither, but it was enough to get me back to Etra.

That's when the real fun began.  Wanting to avoid 571 and Plainsboro Road, I suggested that Jim and I take the Cranbury Macho Mile route back to Plainsboro.

Between Etra Park and Plainsboro lie miles of open fields, over which the wind was coming at us at a steady 17 mph (or so NOAA says; it felt like more).  We took turns pulling, never getting above 12 mph when we were westbound.

As we crossed Route 130 I felt a strange sensation at my waist and realized that my long-loved, well-worn, sparkly tights were falling down.  Good thing for the basic black shorts underneath, or that Clarksburg skank would have something else to fall in love with.

As we reached 60 miles, I said, "Imagine if this were a century," because this is what the Pumpkin Patch Pedal century feels like when, in early October, we ride through Burlington County.  Jim didn't want to be reminded.

It took something close to forever, but we did get back to our cars, and with the season's first metric out of the way.  I finished with 62 miles, which is close enough to a real metric (62.1371 miles = 100 km)

Next Saturday is the annual Chocolate Bunny ride.  The full route is 53 miles.  I'll have a cue sheet for those who want to shorten the route to something like 43 miles.  People who start from my house will get more than a metric.  I'm hoping the new tights will have arrived.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Worst Pick-Up Line Ever

View of my neighbor's window from mine at 6:35 a.m. on Thursday.  
Three days later I'd be up at the same time, phoning Winter Larry with the weather report.  It's not easy looking for ice on the street when it's dark out.

17 March 2013

"I love a French braid!" the biker exclaimed as he passed me at the entrance to the Clarksburg Deli.

I dislike the Clarksburg Deli enough already without some rude stranger from a coastal bike club expecting me to drop trou at the declaration that he loves a French braid.  Too bad I wasn't wearing one, not that he could possibly tell under my balaclava..  Who has time for all that first thing in the morning before a bike ride anyway?  Rather than deflate his ego by giving him a piece of my mind, I ignored him completely.  That's worse:  his sure-fire way to get a cyclist chick into his bed was totally wasted, and in front of all of his friends, too.

No wonder I was grumpy on our way back to Cranbury.  That, and the fact that we had to sit outside at a table covered with snow while my feet slowly froze.

Anyway, aside from that, the cold, and getting snowed on, it was a good biking weekend.

It started yesterday, with me and Plain Jim riding up to Pennington, where we picked up five more riders and took what Tom calls "the inland route" towards Kingston.  The forecast was for rain later in the day, the chance of precipitation increasing linearly from the time we started until mid-afternoon.

I used part of the old Friday night C+ route, the one that Bikers Bob and Babe used to lead Back In The Day.  We peeled off from it on Cleveland and onto Pretty Brook.  This road had Ed and Jim ecstatic, with its swoopy turns, rollers, and view of the Stony Brook.

I took a detour onto the Princeton University campus.  "Trust me. Just follow me," I said, as we dove onto a path under a dormitory, down towards the open playing fields, under the Icahn building's breezeway, and over the pedestrian bridge.  We climbed up Washington Road and turned on Prospect, where the monstrous eating club houses loom.  Pete said we were getting the 1% tour.  I lamented that, for all of the university's wealth, research labs still have to scramble for their own funding.

We made it to the Main Street cafe, where Ed insisted on buying a cake to share with all of us, his birthday having been the day before.  As a trickle of snow began to fall outside, we got jumpy on sugar and caffeine.  Somewhere in there we were talking about indoor workouts.  Pete (I think it was Pete) said to me, "Show me your guns," and I did.  That almost makes up for the French braid thing.

By the time we were suited up again, it was snowing, enough for Jim to say, "This is real snow."  We made a bee-line back to Pennington.  On Blackwell Road, where it intersects with Federal City, Jim and I split off.  Dave and Pete went their own ways, too.  Cheryl led Ron back to the parking lot.  Ed, always in search of extra miles, went with me and Jim as far as Lawrenceville-Pennington Road.

The streets were just getting wet when we reached my driveway.   Jim dismounted and looked down at his pants.  He was wearing snow.  So was Miss Piggy.

The snow continued to fall well into the evening, but it was gone from the roads by this morning.  I was on the Phone with Winter Larry at 6:35 a.m.  It took us five minutes to decide if riding was worth it.  We decided it was, and I dutifully emailed Plain Jim and Ed.

We started the Cranbury ride at 33 degrees.  It didn't feel much warmer four hours later.

I did stop for a couple of pictures on Woodward Road.  My camera was acting sluggish.  I attributed it to the cold, but when I got home I found that one of the setting knobs had been nudged so that it was taking video and photos simultaneously.  Who knew it could do that?  I've never bothered to read the manual.  I'll keep this in mind for later.

Ah, the Clarksburg Deli, Le Chateau de Ptomaine.  It's been years.

This is not a good place to stop, as our nickname implies.  One feels dirtier after using the bathroom than before using it.  Expired food has been known to line the shelves.  One cannot drink the water.  The coffee is only drinkable if it is cut at least 50:50 with hot chocolate, and that's only safe because both involve water hot enough to be sterile.

In the winter this is a worse place still.  There is nowhere to sit inside, let alone stand.  When the braid-obsessed biker and his pals left, we took over the lone table and snow-wet chairs.

At least the chocolate pound cake, made in Cliffton, and wrapped, no expiration date printed, was good. Not as good as the cake Ed fed us, but this was, after all, Le Chateau de Ptomaine, not Kingston.

Then the frozen toes and general grumpiness and "Brr!  Thanks!  'Bye!" to Larry and Jim before I cranked up the heat in my car and headed towards a hot shower.


So, anyway, I have some more pictures:

Bike commuting started for me this week.  I no longer have evening darkness for an excuse.  My goal is twice each week until September.  On my way home on Wednesday I passed by a flooded field at sunset:

I have a thing for Stayman winesap apples.  Around here I can only find them at the Trenton Farmer's Market or at Terhune Orchards.  Now that our battle against the Lawrenceville Wal-Mart is over, won, and several years ago, I feel less uneasy about being in the same room as Pam Mount.  She's no longer an elected official anyway, and her farm does do a lot of good for the community.  I went in on the pretense of handing over some stamps for our Lawrence Township Conservation Foundation mailings (we raise money for open space preservation) and just happened to leave with a hefty bag full of winesaps and a snapshot of a sleeping kitty.

We were on our way to a wine tasting at the Corkscrew in Princeton.  I was a good sport about trying a couple.  Jack says my rating scale is from minus 100 to zero.  I do like looking at the bottles, though.

Back home, enough snow had fallen to cover the grass.  The crocuses tell me it's spring.

Just a few more days...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 16 March

16 March 2013

UPDATE:  The ride is ON. 

15 March 2013

UPDATE:  As of 7:30 p.m. the ride is on.  Check back in 12 hours.

14 March 2013

The weather forecast isn't looking good, but it's not looking bad enough to call off the ride.  As of now, the ride is on.  Check back here on Friday night for an update.  Meanwhile...

Let's start from the usual winter spot, the Hopewell Administration Building on Main Street, across from Ingleside, in Pennington.  The start time is 9:00 a.m., with an 8:30 a.m. start from my house for extra-milers.  We'll aim for 45-ish miles, depending on the weather.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Late Winter Snow

snow at sunrise from Dale's window

10 March 2013

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm supposed to be blogging about our weekend rides, the weather finally having been warm enough that we could ditch our heavy leggings.  But all I did was bike commute to a meeting on Saturday.  Jim has captured today's Cranbury gaggle.

This leaves me free to post pictures from Friday's little snowstorm.  It happened during the morning hours.  Dale caught it at sunrise from her 3rd floor window and texted her picture to me and Terry C.  It's a thing we've been doing lately:  texting sunrises.

I'd slept in.  My return text was this:

I think we lost more than half of our bamboo this fall, between Sandy and the first snowfall.  I bet it'll all grow back.

Terry sent us a picture (which I've inadvertently deleted in my latest cell phone data purge) of her bird feeders .  I texted back the scene in our front yard.

The boys were riveted to the scene, to the point that Burnaby didn't even come into the kitchen when I brought out the morning dollop of Fancy Feast.

The roads were clear, even though the snow was still coming down.  This is the roundabout at Faculty Road on Princeton University's campus.  We peons have been relocated from the garage to an open-air lot farther south.  This view is part of my daily walk uphill to the lab.

Now that I come in from the south, I walk behind the dorms, along a field.  I'm sure the field has a name.  The walkway probably has a name.  Everything has a name.  I proudly know none of them.  Given my income, a bequest from me wouldn't get me a plaque over a toilet seat.  Anyway, here's the Donor's Name Here field:

And these are student's bikes by a dorm entrance:

Snow-covered benches along Rich Guy's Name Here Walk:

Farther up the hill, in the grass, lay a snow-covered bike:

By the time I left work 11 hours later, the snow was gone.  The bike was still there.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Living Rule #5

  Village Park, Cranbury, 8:34 a.m.

3 February 2013

There are times when cycling feels effortless.  This weekend was not one of those times.

We're used to being out in the cold.  We're used to headwinds.  We're used to the first climbs of the season.  What we're not used to is putting all three together.  We're never used to that, no matter how many years we've had to do it.

Jim has a good post about Saturday's Sourland slog, from which it took the rest of the day and well into this morning to recover.

That didn't stop me from meeting Jim in Plainsboro at 8 a.m. today for some extra miles before Winter Larry's scheduled 9 a.m. departure.  We headed north first, straight into a biting headwind.  The air was still a few degrees below freezing.  Larry's cut-off for cancellation is 32 °F, but the forecasts we'd seen had the air above freezing before 9 a.m.  We hoped that Larry would lead us north, into the wind first, instead of south, where we'd have to push against it for 20-odd miles.

We got to the parking lot early.  Ed, Ron, Mark, and Bob were there.  Larry wasn't.  Ron, having forgotten his shoes, decided not to ride in his sneakers.  "I'll go home," he said, "and be mad all day."

By 8:55 there was no sign of Larry.  I always carry an extra sign-in sheet.  This made me the de facto leader.  With Mark's help, we went north, into South Brunswick, then to the D&R Canal.  The tailwind pushed us from Montgomery to Kingston, where the four of us sat inside at Main Street with sugar and caffeine, Mark having decided that he was too cold to stop at all.

We were cold even with the tailwind helping us back through South Brunswick and Plainsboro.  We found the bike path and took it, bumps, cracks, moguls and all, through the woods in the back of town and away from traffic.  After hanging out in Cranbury just long enough to get cold again, Jim and I headed back the way we came.  Although the official ride was short, our extra miles put us enough over 40 for me to consider it a real ride.

I called Winter Larry.  He'd seen the forecast for New York City, 29 °F at some early hour, and figured nobody would show up.  I assured him that, more likely than not, on a day like today, Ed, Jim, and I would be there.

It is, after all, all about Rule #5.

By the way, there are buds on the trees in Cranbury's Village Park.