Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Because That's What I Did

30 December 2014

When attempting to move a Cannondale carbon seat post in a carbon frame in order to match saddle-to-crank distance exactly, is it appropriate to bang on the saddle to get the post to move two millimeters?

(This is Miss Piggy after all. A certain amount of brute force is expected.  Try removing the rear wheel some time.)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

116 Miles, or Why I Should Forget the Numbers and Just Ride

27 December 2014

At the end of each year I've been adding up my miles from all of my bikes, looking at the number, and promptly forgetting what it is.  That works pretty well, because when someone asks me how far I ride each year, I can honestly shrug my shoulders and say, "Dunno."

Last year was different.  I typed all the miles into the notepad on my phone, then promptly forgot the total.

This year I did the addition a week early.  I had totals for Kermit, Miss Piggy, Grover, Gonzo's share of the commuting miles, and, next to Beaker's name, the total miles commuted this year. I looked at the total, looked at last year's total, and figured out that if I put in 116 miles by the end of the year I'd tie last year's number.

It's not as if I'd lose sleep if I didn't tie.  But still, with the weather forecast for Friday and Saturday as glorious as it was, I had a good chance of getting pretty darn close.

Saturday's off-the-books ride started from Mercer County Park.  I can add about 15 miles if I ride from home.  I didn't know how many miles Tom had in mind.  That didn't matter, it turns out, because Tom had spent Christmas day praying to the porcelain goddess and was in no shape to lead a ride.  Long story short, 63 miles and two tubes later, I was 54 miles shy of my goal and holding a private tire changing party in my living room.

There's an easy way to add distance to any Cranbury ride:  Ask Plain Jim if he wants to start from Plainsboro.  So today we did, and I ended the day with 56 more miles.  That would put me two miles over last year.

At home I figured I ought to check my math, seeing as how I'm so bad at it.  I added Gonzo's miles, Beaker's miles, Grover's miles, Miss Piggy's miles, and Kermit's miles.  I came up with 122 miles more than I had when I first started figuring things out.

Let's try this again.

Gonzo, Grover, Kermit, Piggy, wait.

I didn't just commute on Beaker.  I had her out on the road.  122 miles, to be exact. That's what that 122 is, sandwiched between the words "Beaker" and "total commute."

This is why I shouldn't keep track.

Don't ask me how many miles I wound up with in 2014.  I've already forgotten the exact number.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ad Hoc Boxing Day Ride

A handful of Slugs have conspired to meet at 9:30 on Friday at the East Picnic Area of Mercer County Park. Tom H will lead us to New Egypt. Join us if you can.

This is not an official PFW ride. The pace will be B-ish.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

OLPH Blows Glass Again

Entrance to Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center (Wheaton Village), Millville, NJ

21 December 2014

Dale and I had been wanting to go to Wheaton Village since I came home from Boston after my first glassblowing lesson.

A few weeks ago we tossed out the idea of going on a Friday afternoon.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it, but after working more than 12 hours on Monday, followed by three more long days, I only felt a little guilty leaving the lab halfway through the day.

It's an hour-plus drive to Millville.  On the way, I explained the definition of South Jersey:  south of wherever you are.

We got to Wheaton at 3:00 p.m., with two hours to see the museum, the glassblowing studio, and the stores, before the 5:00 p.m. close.  Dale checked the schedule and saw that the studio would have a demonstration in half an hour.  We headed over to look around.

We were the only tourists, and we were hesitant about walking around the work space, even though there was a ring around the outside and benches clearly designed for onlookers.  A tall artist approached us and asked if we were here for a make-your-own class.

Dale and I looked at each other.  I said, "We can do that?"  For a small fee, yes.

He summoned another artist, a shorter man with long, graying hair and a bandana.  "I have time for one," he said, and picked Dale.  His name was Joe.  "What color do you want?"


He ushered her into the work area, behind a gate.  I stood outside, jealous, as Joe taught her how to make an ornament.

Dale is a bouncy person to begin with.  When she was finished, she was even bouncier.  I looked at Joe and asked if there was time for one more.  "No," he said, then, "Come on," and ushered me inside.

"What color?"

"Red," I said, as I put on a pair of safety glasses and pulled my hair back.

I didn't know that Dale was snapping pictures every ten seconds.

Here, I'm probably melting red powdered glass onto a bolus of clear glass at the end of the pipe.

The glass is red-hot as we roll it to move more of the glass away from the pipe.

Now I'm making the first air bubble inside.  The hotter the glass, the easier it is to make a bubble.  We put the glass into a mold to make ridges.

Now we're rolling it and pinching off the near end a little:

We repeated this several times, with me blowing into the pipe to make the bubble bigger and bigger each time.  Then we took it into a small room, where Joe sprayed an iridescent finish on it.  Next we removed it from the pipe and Joe made the finial for the top.  It went into an annealing oven, where it stayed until this afternoon, when Sean and Dale drove all the way the hell down to Millville to pick up the ornaments, do more Christmas shopping, become Wheaton Arts members, and drive all the way the hell back.  Me, I'd have said, "Ship it."

It'll look something like this:

When we got out of the studio we had less than an hour left, so we went to the museum store to remind ourselves that there's a world of difference between a guided ornament tutorial and mastery of molten glass:

This appears flat but it's three-dimensional.


While we had our lesson, the crafters were making glass snowmen.  They look better in a group than they do alone:

For Plain Jim, another Bad Santa.  This one appears to be extruding himself.

Dusk at Wheaton Village:

The entrance at sunset:

So now my head is all full of molten glass again.



21 December 2014

Note to self:  No matter how thick the jacket, it's no good without wind-stop fabric when the temperature hovers around freezing.

Note to self:  Stay away from the big descents when the temperature hovers around freezing.

Note to self:  Those winter road shoes do no good sitting in the closet when the temperature hovers around freezing.

Note to self:  Stop acting as if you've never been biking when the temperature hovers around freezing.

Note to self:  Don't forget to blog the best quote of the day, from Pete G.

"One week from now I'll be headed south, far away from you FROzen POPsicles!"

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 20 December

18 December 2014

Bundle up and meet at the Hopewell Administration Building on Main Street, across from Ingleside, in Pennington, for a 9:30 a.m. start.  We'll go somewhere warm for coffee and muffins.

The route will be approximately 45 miles.  We'll be slower in the hills, but expect a true B pace on the flat roads.

Extra-milers can meet me at my house at 9:00 a.m.  Let me know ahead of time so I can let you in from the cold.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Last of the Stampede, and What to Do with $30

Woodsville Road

17 December 2014

Not having seen a hill since October, I mostly led from behind on Saturday. I didn't have a specific route in mind, but I did announce that we'd end up in Lambertville.

On our way out of Pennington, Pete G mentioned a group of leftover oxen in front of the Pennington school.  We went to look.  These are the Hopewell Stampede oxen that will be auctioned off at Grounds for Sculpture at the end of January.  Meanwhile, they'll be here.

This is our old buddy Moondrian, who had been stationed on Main Street at the Hopewell Administration Building.

An Ox for All Seasons, foreground, with Jersey Strong as an Ox and Art Toro in the background. Think Inside the Ox is hidden.

Here's Think Inside the Ox.

Jersey Strong as an Ox:

Art Toro:

I think this is the 69th ox, the one that wasn't on the list or the map.  His name is Indigene.

Jim and Marc among the oxen:

I noticed rather early that the guys in front seemed to know where I was going.  Familiarity is fine, but I don't want to become too predictable.  We were on Stony Brook below 518 when Pete said, "Ed wants to know if we can do Mine Road."  I hadn't been planning on it, but here was my chance to mix things up a little.

"Left turn!"

I heard grumbles.

After we got across 31, and then 518, and then 31 again, I headed east on Snydertown and north on Rileyville. I figured we'd go all the way to Wertsville and head west from there.  But then Pete said he'd seen signs that part of Wertsville would be closed as of an unspecified date.  I thought the better of having to ford a stream in December and turned us west on Mountain.

"Since when do you pay attention to a road closed sign?" Snakehead Ed asked.  Since winter.

We crossed 31 one more time.  When I signaled a right turn on Mount Airy, someone said, "You really are taking us the long way."  We were on our way to the cows when Jim told me that Jack H had popped a spoke.  So we took 179 into Lambertville to get closer to Pure Energy.

Jack was barely off his bike when one of the mechanics whisked it inside.  Snakehead said he'd stay with Jack and that the rest of us should go to Rojo's.  He added, "If there are only a few salted caramels left, you know what to do."

I didn't leave until I got a picture of the muddiest bike ever:

There were no caramels, and there were no tables, when we arrived.  Another group of cyclists saw us and cleared out for us, so Bagel Hill Barry, Marc, Jim, Pete, and I had somewhere to sit and wait for Jack H and Ed.  Right when I said that they seemed to be taking a long time, they came in.

Jack H asked me, "Do you have thirty dollars?"

I did, but why?

He didn't have the cash on him, so Ed had paid for the repair.  "I figure I'll see you before I see Ed again," he explained, which makes sense, because Jack H lives one town over from me, and we belong to the same gym.  So I forked over $30, which he handed to Ed.

On our way out of Lambertville, we mulled over the chances of a drive side rear spoke breaking. "Must be all the hills," I suggested.

Somebody (I think it was Jack H) said, "It's all the whining."

"But Cheryl moved away," I said.  (Sorry, Cher. It was low-hanging fruit.  I had to go for it.)  "Besides," I added, "If that were the case, my wheel would have exploded by now."

We crossed 31 two more times before I got us back to Pennington in 46 miles.  Marc and I rode back to my house, talking about life as a train commuter.  I don't miss those days, but it was never really as bad as it sounds to an outsider.

I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on chores and finally buying a Christmas tree.  I figured I'd put it up by myself, but I asked Sean and Dale if they'd be able to help, just in case.  Dale knows about the purple moose (it was white until I re-wired it  while housebound during a snowstorm last year), so I couldn't very well have them over until I got the outside decorations up. 

So up went the purple moose and the blue deer (I was housebound more than once) and some net lights over the new little box elders, and while I was creating all this tackiness, Jack H pulled up with $30 in an envelope.  After he left, Sean came by, walking Macy Ruth, and promising to help with the tree if I needed it.  I didn't: turns out a wrapped tree goes into a a tree stand real easy.

"We should still get together," I texted Dale.  So we did, and Dale got to see the purple moose.  I left the house without my wallet, though, so they spotted me the cash for dinner.  When we got back, I paid them with Ed's Jack's my $30.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bad Santas and Art Bikes

16 December 2014

I meant to post these pictures a week ago. I met a friend in New York City on December 6. She'd taken a bus in from Boston at 7:00 a.m., arriving near Columbus Circle at noon. I'd tried to dissuade her: New York City in the rain is an unpleasant experience. She was not dissuaded, so I jostled my way through polite, soggy, Broadway tourists from Penn Station up to Columbus Circle, wondering why Manhattan's rain is so much worse than London's.

If you're looking for bad Santa ornaments, the Christmas market on Columbus Circle is the place to be.

A better place to spend your time is across the street at the Museum of Arts and Design.

One of the current exhibits features contemporary Central and South American art. It includes photographs of these Panamanian "Priti Baiks:"

Next time you're ready to bust on my Kermit, remember these.

And then there was this:

And, finally, in a display case from an entirely different exhibit of objects the museum has coveted over the years, there's this:

Go ahead. Zoom in.

You're welcome. Sweet dreams!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hill Slugs Ad Hoc, Saturday, 13 December

11 December 2014

Let's meet at the Hopewell Administration Building on Main Street, across from Ingleside, in Pennington, at 9:30 a.m. for a 45-mile ride in the hills.  Extra-milers can gather at my house for a 9:00 a.m. start.

The average pace will be well below 15 mph, with faster speeds if and when we find any flat roads.

I haven't seen a hill since October.  This is gonna hurt.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Lawrence-Hopewell Trail

6 December 2014

Tom and Jim both posted better pictures.  What struck me was that the sky was every bit as dreary as the one I'd left behind in Oxford.

I'd arrived from England about 18 hours before I got on Grover, my mountain bike, and rode up to the Princeton Pike entrance to the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail.  Tom led me, Jim, Joe, Dave, and JeffX on a 22-mile loop.  The trail is well-maintained.  My only complaint is that the signs aren't clear; on several occasions we had no clue which way to turn.

As the ride went on, we felt colder.  Jet lag hit me a few miles from the end, but I recovered.

This is at the Pole Farm, officially Mercer Meadows:

This is at the Equestrian Center:

My head was still in England, so when I took this picture,

I was thinking about this one from two days before:

In the evening, Dale, Sean, and I went to New York City to see Mike Doughty's Question Jar Show. Doughty is difficult to define.  He's a singer-songwriter-rocker-hip-hop-comedian who plays acoustic shows with his buddy, Scrap, on the cello.  After every few songs, Scrap reaches into a jar full of questions from the audience.  The answers and banter are sometimes better than the music.  (If you can listen here without having to sign in, you can hear what I'm talking about.)

On the train home, I fell asleep.