27 November 2016
After the Saturday Cranbury mayhem (is there any other kind?), shivering, because it was cold for 50 degrees, I park the car across from Main Street and waddle up the steps in my cycling shoes. With one day remaining before the bakery closes, there's nothing on the shelves and the cases are half empty. I do my part by filling a box with an assortment of brownie-adjacent squares, to be defrosted for a party to be named later. And some macaroons. And two cups of rice pudding (too much cinnamon, but whatever).
I come home to Plain Jim's announcement that he'll be leading a recovery ride from Six Mile Run, through Hopewell, and stopping at Main Street for one last chance at whatever would be left. We trade a few messages, during which I learn that the erstwhile Snakehead and a passel of his buddies will be showing up. So much for recovery.
I'm standing in the hallway between the two rooms my fleet live in. What to ride, what to ride? When one has a stable, this presents a problem.
I'll need something to get me up the smattering of hills along the route. Miss Piggy would be the obvious choice, but there will be enough flat stretches in between where her low gearing won't be enough to allow me to keep with the pace-pushers. Kermit would be good for that, but he'll end up hurting my back on the climbs, what with his weight and my legs already being two-day tired.
Duh. All this time, I've been staring at the solution.
Beaker, lighter by far than Kermit, geared for the Sourlands, has been yoked to the plow all season. It's time to let her run. Off comes the two-pound battery for the 3000-lumen headlight. Off comes the dinky blinky. Off comes the bell that the students completely ignore anyway. Hey! There's a beautiful bike under all this! In comes the air. Chain check, greasy finger, good. Up she goes to the front hallway.
Next question: Do I ride from home? If I do that, I can leave when the fastboys drop me. Or I can leave when we climb out of Hopewell. I've done that climb once this weekend already. Maybe I'll take Crusher instead. Or I can follow them to Main Street and leave from there. That'll cut 12 miles off the total. How far is it from home to Blackwells Mills anyway? Eighteen miles. Thirty-six on top of 37 is too many for a third day in whatever temperature it's gonna be tomorrow. 40-something at the most? Maybe I'll drive to Main Street and start from there. Maybe that's stupid. Either drive all the way or leave the car at home. I'll decide in the morning.
For the second time in three days, I've made the decision with no time to spare. I'm going to have to hammer a little to get there in time.
There's still frost on the ground. This is barely a decent hour to be on the bike in August. I toggle between distance and time on my computer. I don't see any other cyclists until I reach Canal Road (six miles to go!). There's a line of riders heading south. They're all wearing fluorescent yellow jackets. All of them. Winter team kit? I'm going to get to Six Mile with five minutes to spare. That should be plenty of time, because Snakehead is never ready.
I roll up to Jim, Ricky, two guys in fluorescent yellow jackets (friends of Snakehead), and Snakehead himself, not ready, scurrying around in a flurry of fluorescent yellow booties and gloves. Some recovery ride. I'm so gonna be dropped. Fine. I could turn around now and have nearly 40 miles. I eat half of an energy bar for insurance while Jim rattles off a pre-ride lecture that sounds uncannily like mine.
We're off to a fast start for a recovery ride. We get spread out, but everyone waits. Before I know it, we're in Hopewell. I guess this is where I peel off, after the rest stop.
But we don't appear to be stopping. We're going straight up the hill. Bleah. If I peel off at Cleveland, I'll have 45 miles for the day. Good enough.
Or not; I'm making the turn. I have enough oomph to get through Princeton. I'm probably going to lose it on that annoying hill on 27 into Kingston. Which I've already climbed once today.
Main Street is crowded, noisy, and there are still pastries left. I find a lonely loaf of pecan coffee cake (to be thawed for a party to be named later), check for rice pudding (nope), and opt for a pumpkin square (free with the purchase of the loaf, which costs twice as much as it ought to, but whatever at this point).
As we prepare to part company, I move things around and shove the cake into my jacket. This is why winter requires big pockets. Things are a little tight around the equator, but I've only got ten miles to go.
The final seven miles has me and Beaker on autopilot. She could do this stretch without me.
I wish I could join these guys, but there's a back yard full of leaves to rake.
I drink way too much coffee with lunch instead, and trudge out back to take care of the end of autumn.