Sunday, July 21, 2019

Hot Hot Hot

D&R Canal at Blackwells Mills

21 July 2019

Remember how we were all, "What a cold spring!" Yeah, that was, like, a month ago. 

I: Hot

With most of my colleagues away at a conference or on vacation, my schedule was light enough on Wednesday for me to take the day off. I'd planned to spend the day ripping out carpet and pulling staples in advance of finally having the floors in the last two carpeted rooms refinished. When an email came through from the Team Social Security list alerting everyone that Wednesday's ride would start at 8:00 a.m. because of the impending heat wave, I tweaked my plans. The carpet-ripping could wait a few hours.

I considered riding to the start in Allentown, but decided against it because I'd have to get up too damned early and figure out how and where to refill my water bottles. Riding in would add 30 miles, during early rush hour outbound, and in the hottest part of the day back home. Today would not be the day to be a hero.

It's been years since I've been on a TSS ride. I didn't expect to know anybody, and except for the leader, Al P, I only recognized Joe M, Dr Lynne, and Bill B.

And Cheryl. We surprised each other. I'd known she'd be in town this week, but it never occurred to me to ask her if she'd be here. She figured I'd be working and didn't bother to ask if I'd be here. Al even introduced us to the group as "distinguished guests." Back in the day, when we used to ride together all of the time, people didn't know which one of us was which. Now she's the one in Florida and I'm the one in the hills.

By noon the heat index would be in the high 90s. Al promised to keep the ride short, which he did. Our rest stop was at Charleston Coffee, which was a treat. The ride down to New Egypt didn't feel bad at all. The clouds helped to keep the heat at bay, and we had a little breeze.

After the rest stop, though, the sun came out for real. The roads became an oven. The air was heavy with haze. It was getting difficult to breathe. A few miles from the end of the route, Al told us where to turn to get back. A few of us jumped off the front. We just wanted to be finished. 

"I'm glad I drove in," I said. I had to towel off several times before I was dry enough to get into the car.

II: Hot

It only got worse from there. Should I lead a ride on Saturday? I decided to ride my bike to work on Friday to figure out if an afternoon heat index of 100 would be too much. It was, almost, if not for the headwind. I'd already listed the ride anyway.

Ricky, Jim, and Chris met me at my house for a 7:00 a.m. start. The temperature was already 80 degrees and the air heavy. The route would be short — only 37 miles from my house — and we'd avoid hills too. I figured we'd keep the pace down as well; I'm not sure that happened. 

The plan was to meet the other registered riders at the Pig. We were half a mile away when Pete met us from the other direction. "You're early!" he said, swinging around.

The parking lot was empty, save for Andrew's bike. Andrew was across the street, sitting in the shade of the church steps.

Being early, we stood around to wait to see if anyone else was dumb enough to ride a bike today. While the guys were signing in, I took pictures.

I found a cute little mushroom in the mulch next to the bike rack. Pete was trying to hand me the sign-in sheet. He waited. "I saw art happening," he explained to Jim, who had been trying to get my attention too.

At 7:30, as we were about to leave, one of the baristas drove in. "We're closed," she said, by way of apology. On Saturdays the Pig opens at 8:00.

"That's okay," I said. "We'll be back before ten. I want to get one of those chocolate chip cookies."

"Chocolate chocolate chip?" she asked.


"I'll save some for you," she said. "I'll have the AC blasting."

This is why we like the Pig so much.

My planned route never strayed far from Pennington, lest we decide to cut out. I'd put in a lot of wiggly loops. Should we need to, we could nix the wigglies. My plan was to get us home before the heat index reached 100.

We were under cloud cover for most of the ride. A breeze kept temperatures under control too. Early on we came upon a passel of riders on Burd Road. They turned toward the hills on Woosamonsa; we turned away, crossing Route 31.

There were a lot of bikers out, and not just roadies. There were comfort bikes and people on the Lawrence-Hopewell Trail.

The sun came out around 9:00 a.m. That's when we started to feel the heat. By 9:40 we were back at the Pig, where Jim inadvertently squashed the little mushroom. We went inside to stand in the blast of the air conditioning. As promised, the cookies came out. I wrapped two to take home and, skipping the coffee, sucked down a lemonade so quickly I wished I'd asked for the large.

As tempting as it was to stay there for the rest of the day, outside was only getting hotter by the minute.

On the way back to my house, Chris coined the term "stoptional" at a red light we could have gone through safely. Jim was tickled by this. Having spent years driving in Philadelphia, I know all about stoptional. Down there it's called the "South Philly slide."

Two miles from home my new GPS flashed a red banner: "Warning."

Huh? We weren't off-course. I tapped the banner and it went away.

A mile later the same thing happened. I'd have to look this one up.

We got back to my house before 10:30 a.m. The heat index was up to 98 degrees. I'd kept my promise: I'd gotten us back before it hit 100.

Tom, who had done a solo ride close to home, reported the same GPS warning banner. It was there to tell us that it was hot outside. Duh. Garmin clearly does not understand Rules #5 and #9.

III: Hot

The heat index was going to be even worse on Sunday morning than it was on Saturday.
Ricky and Jim were going to drive to the Sunday ride start. They convinced me that I should, too.  

The roadies in the parking lot weren't the usual crowd. Of the Sunday regulars, only Ricky was there. Andrew and I were the two other Slugs. Out of eight riders, four were Cranbury fastboys bumped from Etra when the leader canceled. I knew straight away that this wasn't going to be a low B ride. I was glad I didn't have the usual 18 miles under me when we started. 

Jim took us north up Canal Road. We were in the shade, and the sun was behind thick clouds. It was almost pleasant. 

Montgomery Township appears to have paved all of its roads at once. We were treated to blacktop so fresh that the lane markers were those little, reflective, tab thingies running down the center. 

At one point, on a smooth stretch of straightaway, a few of us got a little ahead. I was in front, but with the rest of the pack well in sight. "You're dropping the leader," one of the fastboys warned. I slowed down and let a few of them pass. "Let someone else drop the leader," I said. 

Jim avoided the usual hills, sending us instead on what he called a "real estate tour," where we could gawk at giant houses.  With the screen on my new Garmin far more responsive and manageable than my old one, I could more easily check our average speed than I could on my little cyclocomputer.  We were chugging along at a respectable Cranbury pace, no longer a low B, but still well within the B range.

When we reached Willow Road I scooted up a farm driveway to take photos of a lone tree. I've taken this tree's picture before, years ago, in early spring, when the ground was bare and before the fence went up.

Off to the west, the sky was doing something. 

On Hollow Road, as we were approaching the intersection with Route 518, one of the fastboys pointed out what he thought was an ostrich behind a fence a little ways off the road. I got a glimpse of the feathers and the beak; it looked more like an emu to me. (It's an emu. Thanks, Google.) We were stopped at the light anyway, so I decided to go back a few yards to get a picture. 

The bird had lumbered off, and when I turned around the light had changed. Everyone had gone. 

The group wasn't far ahead, and anyway, I knew where they were going. Looking both ways, I decided that the light, now red, was stoptional, and crossed the road. Jim, at the back of the pack, had slowed to make sure I could see where they'd gone. 

I caught up to him and jumped ahead, thinking we might catch the rest of the pack if they stopped at the next light. We took turns pulling.

They didn't stop. We lost sight of them completely until we reached the little rise west of the intersection with Route 206. The light turned green, and, without even looking back, they turned left towards the shopping center where Thomas Sweet awaited.

I was pissed.  "If this were my ride," I said, "I'd do a massive Spraguing right now." The choice would be easy. On the corner was a perfectly serviceable Wawa, and to the right, the old Bagel Barn standby. If it were up to me, we'd stop at Wawa, stay on 518, and enjoy the shade of Canal Road all the way back to Blackwells Mills. I didn't say this out loud. Jim appeared to be considering our options.

Then he pulled into the left turn lane. "I want them to come back to my rides," he said. "I'm leading Bruce K--- and Larry G--- style," Jim said. Right. Larry decided he'd had quite enough of getting dropped and stopped leading altogether. 

Having been a ride leader for nearly two decades, and having gone through the early struggles of trying to keep a group together, I knew where Jim was coming from. On the other hand, I had absolutely nothing to lose by chewing out the pace pushers. 

And that's what I did. Some of them were already inside, but to those still peeling off their soaking gloves and helmets, I said, "Y'know, if it were up to me I'd've Spragued all y'all's asses."

One of them had no idea he'd even left us behind. Welcome to Cranbury. 

All was forgiven inside the frigid cafe. I got myself a mixed berry smoothie, with apple juice instead of milk. It was deep red, thick, and brain-freezing. Perfect. 

The trip back to Blackwells Mills was over in a flash. We got onto Canal Road at the Griggstown Causeway and did the macho mile thing back to the parking lot. 

I released the GPS from its mount and untethered it from the handle bar. It's been well-behaved so far. The touch screen is fast. The options are easy to navigate. Carrying it over to Jim, I said, "I think I'm going to name this one Good Dog." 

"Cause it has a leash!" Jim exclaimed. I hadn't even thought of that, but, yeah. 

Too wet to get into the car, I toweled myself off half a dozen times and slowly put everything away. Hoping to cool down a little more, I decided to wander across the road to get some pictures of the canal. What a mistake. Without the constant rush of air from being on the bike, the heat was stifling. Stepping into a little garden by an outbuilding next to the canal, I barely had the patience to take pictures of the well-tended lilies while sweat poured off my head and arms.


I had to towel off a few more times before driving home, the air conditioner so cold by comparison that I had to turn the fans down. 

It's 3:42 p.m. now. NOAA is telling me that it's 96 degrees at Mercer County Airport, and that the heat index is 106. The heat wave breaks tonight, bringing with it a flash flood watch for all day Monday. The frogs and locusts can't be far behind. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Regular Thing

Great Blue Heron, D&R Canal near Griggstown, NJ

14 July 2019

I have to wake up at 5:45 a.m. in order to bike over to Plain Jim's Sunday ride at Six Mile Run. Each time I'm convinced this will be the last time I do this; if I drive I can sleep another half hour. 

Until the moment I leave the house. Then I remember why.

There's nobody on the roads at 7:10 a.m. on a Sunday. I have a clear shot all the way up Princeton Pike. Princeton's main drag is empty. There's no traffic near Carnegie Lake. On Canal Road there are more bikes than cars.

I can think about stuff, or not think about stuff. 

And this morning there was a great blue heron perched on the dredging boom in the canal. I doubled back for pictures.

I zoomed in.

I zoomed in again, past 40x, into digital.

The surface of the water looked like a Monet painting.

Jim had a big crowd today. His ride is catching on, which is great. He's getting more defectors from Cranbury.

Today he took us to Hopewell for a stop at Boro Bean. I think it was Ricky's idea to put our steel bikes together on one side of the rack. From front to back is Kermit, Ricky's Cinelli, and John K's Lotus.

I left the group after the break and headed up Carter Road for the ten miles home. There were two riders ahead of me. I passed one of them. On the hill. That never happens. Then we all got passed by a group of blue-shifted climbers. We'll call it even.

It wasn't even noon yet when I got home. If this ride is a regular thing, so is the post-ride, still-sweating lawn mowing and post-shower loads of laundry. I have my own Sunday triathlon.

Sunday, July 7, 2019



7 July 2019

Yesterday's storms didn't do much to tamp down the humidity. I was on Rowlf, my 1986 Colnago Master, on my way to Plain Jim's now regular Sunday ride from Blackwells Mills. I had my GPS, which I always give an extra wiggle in order to make sure it's snug in its holder, recording the ride. Unless I touch the screen, the scree stays off, which comes in handy when I think I feel rain. If I see water on the gray panel I know it's not my imagination.

It wasn't my imagination. As soon as I entered Princeton I was getting rained on. Princeton, the exclusive town that it is, often has its own weather. I had a feeling that it would stop as soon as I passed through the eastern border. It did.

Jim had most of the regulars: Dr Lynne, Bill B, Bob N, and David S. Tom, who missed yesterday's ride, had parked in Rocky Hill to get some extra miles in. They'd seen a little rain on their way over too.

Jim wanted to stop at Thomas Sweet again, but he didn't want to ride on Route 206 at all, not on the way in, nor on the way out. Bob suggested climbing a berm between the shopping center and the Wawa. Tom had a better idea: There's an abandoned office building behind the Wawa; we could ride on Route 518, turn into the driveway, ride through the empty parking lot, and go across the grass to the shopping center. Jim liked that idea.

We took his usual route through Hillsborough. Somewhere in there we picked up Dave H, who has an uncanny talent of figuring out when we'll be where on Jim's route so that he can slide into the group.

Now that I've done this ride on three different bikes, I can safely say that Rowlf is the least of the climbers. No surprise; he doesn't have the extra gears that Kermit and Miss Piggy have.

Rowlf is better than Miss Piggy when it comes time to hammer, and when we got to the top of East Mountain, I hammered.

There were potholes.

I was at the end of the road. We were regrouping. I looked down and noticed that my GPS was gone.

"I thought I hit something," Tom said.

I didn't have that jolt of adrenaline I expected I'd have when I looked down. I didn't feel upset. I didn't bother to leave the group and go back; a search would be fruitless anyway because I couldn't be sure where it fell off, nor if it even landed in the road.

Oh well. Good riddance, Son of Piece of Shit.

"I'm sorry you're having an expensive day," Bob said. That part does suck.

"I know why it's gone," I told Jim. "Rowlf kicked it off. It's too new. He can barely stand the shifters, let alone the speedometer."

"Ha!" Jim said.  "Rowlf says, 'I don't need no digital stuff!'"

"'We didn't have none of this shit back in '86!' The speedometer is scared right now." I gave it a jiggle, you know, just in case. It was secure.

When we got to the empty parking lot, Tom led us in. We went around to the back, where we were faced with a steeply sloping lawn, beyond which was a small, flat area of grass, and beyond that a dirt groove in an even steeper slope.

There wasn't time to say anything because Tom, having coasted down the first section, hit a hidden bump and did an endo, landing sideways in the grass. He wasn't hurt. The rest of us walked our bikes down the slope.

Nobody tried to ride through the cut either. Road bikes aren't built for this sort of thing. Much trash talk ensued as, one by one, we gingerly made our way down the slope. Road shoes aren't meant for this sort of thing.

We navigated our way through the busy parking lot to the other side and parked our bikes against the wall of the empty storefront next to Thomas Sweet. Tom was messing with his handle bar. When his bike went down, it landed on the left side, knocking the shifter inwards by a good thirty degrees. He and Jim tired to move it back without tools. It wouldn't budge. 

Inside, where it was cool, we sat for a while. Jim was eating ice cream again. I opted for a smoothie, which had far too much whole milk in it. 

Bob, having finished some sort of pastry, got up and came back with ice cream. "This is a demonstration of my complete lack of impulse control," he said. "I'll call it lunch."

"It's 10:30," I told him.

We had a conversation about yesterday's weather. We'd all expected a day of downpours. Instead we saw lines of storms on the radar that would disappear before they reached us.

"I don't know how people live in Florida," I said.

"November through April," Dave replied. "It's beautiful."

"Yeah, but the roads suck," Tom said.

Still not wanting to ride on Route 206, Jim let Bob lead us out of the shopping center, back towards the Wawa. We had to climb a different berm. This one, at least, had a series of tree roots that served as steps.  Wawa parking lots are always chaotic. Bill commented that we'd have been safer on Route 206. I agree; at least there's a shoulder.

When we got back onto Route 518, the group turned north onto a side street and I went straight, making my way back home. For the third ride in a row I arrived soaking wet from sweat, my shins filthy from road dirt sticking to sun block. It was nearly noon. I had yard work to do. I decided to do it while I was still dripping. That way I could get weed-whacked greenery stuck to my shins too. It's a good look.

After I cleaned myself off and ate all the things, I plunked myself down in front of the computer to order a new GPS. Despite all of my griping, I'm sticking with Garmin. I have the mounting hardware on all of my bikes already and I know the software and its pitfalls. I'm not going for the latest and greatest; it's too large and too expensive. I've opted for a newer version of the one I lost. It should be here Wednesday. You'll hear me cursing anew next weekend. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Hot Sticky Gross

 Rocktown Road, West Amwell, NJ

6 July 2019

"Bring three cups," commanded Ricky, the cold brew monster I created. He wanted me to try his Guatemalan concoction. Martin, having heard that the extra miles come with cold brew, wanted in on the deal. I brought out three of my hand-made glass cups and my leftover Dead Man's (cold) Brew.

I'd expected the ride to be canceled, and when I woke up at 5:45 a.m. it was so dark outside that I was sure it was raining. It wasn't, and it wouldn't until some time after noon. At 6:08 a.m. I wrote to Jim, Ricky, and Martin to let them know that the ride was on. Now the three of us were headed north to the Pig under thick cloud cover and air that was nearly potable.

We picked up Jack H as we cruised past Twin Pines. "Did you list Twin Pines as the start?" he asked, "Because nobody's there."

"Sourland Coffee," I said. "I think." I didn't remember typing in the location at all, but I was sure that I hadn't written Twin Pines. I think.

The helmets outside of the Pig reassured me that I'd typed in the right thing.

"Blake!" I hadn't seen him all year. Len G, who I'm used to seeing on the Cranbury side, was there, as well as Brian T, who was riding with the Slugs for the first time.

"Are they bathroom-friendly?" Blake asked, gesturing towards the Pig.

"They're everything friendly." That's why we start there now.

Given the forecast and the heat, my plan was to play things by radar. We'd stay local and check often. We probably wouldn't get in the distance I'd listed, which was fine with everyone.

When I'm on autopilot I follow my standard winter route up Stony Brook, which is what we did. Brian was new-ish to these roads, so I did my best to call out when to gear down. There's that short, sharp, shock on the Stony Brook dogleg at Route 518, and if you're turning from Snydertown to Linvale you'd best be in a low gear.

At the top of Linvale I checked the radar. Nothing. "Might as well go to Lambertville," I said. We were halfway there anyway.

On Rocktown Road, I spied some cows I'd never seen before. I sent the Slugs on ahead while I doubled back. The herd was patient. A driver slowed, saw the cows, saw me with the camera, and gave me the thumbs-up.


I was far enough behind the Slugs now that they were waiting for me at the intersection. "Right turn," I gestured, and they followed me down the hill. I was too far ahead to warn Brian about the ass-burner between the creek and the forever-being-renovated barn.  "That was unexpected," he said as he caught up to me.

I waved the group ahead on Alexauken Creek. Blake stayed back with me.

"There should be a program where you can remove power lines from pictures," he said.

"I'm sure there are," I said, never having checked. (There are. I checked.) "But the power lines are part of the scene."

One can always crop, of course.

Or zoom in.

Rojo's seemed empty, which is to say that we found a table and didn't have to wait in line for more than a few minutes. It was only 10:00 a.m, which probably had something to do with it. Still spooked by last week's overcaffeination, I chose a smoothie instead of iced coffee.

Now that the clouds had dispersed, the heat was coming in, and the humidity was rising with it. I opted for a direct route home with as few big climbs as possible. We took Quarry/Rocktown out of the city and then retraced our steps back to Mountain Road. 

"I don't feel like doing Snydertown," I said. "It's annoying." So we went straight past Linvale and turned onto the dirt section of Stony Brook.

"It's a Hill Slugs thing," I explained to Brian, and gave him the lowdown on dirt roads and closed bridges.

As far as dirt roads go, Stony Brook isn't a bad one. There is the occasional pothole and random spray of loose gravel, but most of it is hard-packed dirt. Starting from Mountain means that the road is mostly downhill, which helps too.

I skipped the slow ascent up Wargo, too, choosing to stay on Moores Mill all the way to the end. We still had to climb on Pennington-Rocky Hill, but at least the pavement was smooth and there was some shade now and then.

As we waited for the light to change at Main Street in Pennington, I looked up to see a wall of gunmetal gray clouds to the west. "I think there's just enough time for us to get home," I said, gesturing towards Ricky and Martin.

Blake was more optimistic. "Well, sure," I said. "You only have one mile left."

It was tempting fate to go into the Pig, but I did, because chocolate cookie to take home.

We only spent a few minutes in the parking lot. We got back to the house at noon, with the sun still out. Threatening clouds were closing in.

Right about then, Blake texted, "OK, you were right about the dark clouds."

I didn't see his message until an hour later. I told him that we got home dry. "That's good," he answered. "It opened up like the wrath of God a few minutes after you left."

Eventually there was a little rain. After it passed, around 2:00, I went out onto the deck in my bare feet to take pictures of the hibiscus flowers — a weed shrub that I let grow because it's pretty — two of which had just bloomed this morning, the third, yesterday's blossom, already wilting.

In the time it took to move the camera towards the redbud leaves, the lens fogged up:

I wiped it with my t-shirt and tried again. Much better.

I was out on the deck for maybe one minute, and already I was starting to sweat. I went back inside, convinced that I should just put on my pajamas because there was no way I'd be stepping out again until the excessive heat warning was over.

Now it's 6:30 p.m. There's a big band of showers headed this way. Good. Plain Jim has a ride tomorrow and this sticky thing is getting old.

It's only the beginning of July. I don't understand why people move to Florida. I want to go north.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Avoiding the Chaos

Assunpink Creek at the East Picnic Area, Mercer County Park 

4 July 2019

I missed the Spring Fling and the Memorial Day All-Paces rides. As a Freewheeler in good standing, I ought to have gone to the Fourth of July All-Paces. I didn't, mostly.

Tom convinced me that the day was going to be too hot to start as late as 9:00 a.m., and besides, we'd get back in time for me to swing by the ice rink parking lot and catch people as they came back. This made some kind of sense to me, even though hanging around waiting for the crowds would have me in an asphalt parking lot at high noon.

So I got Kermit ready and left the house at 7:20 a.m.

It was already humid; it was almost hot. I took the bike path through the park to the picnic area, stopping for pictures of the Assunpink Creek from the wooden bridge.

I'd been relatively dry until I stopped. I pulled into the pavilion dripping with sweat. Tom and Ricky were sitting in the shade there, waiting for me and for Bob, who drove in a few minutes later.

Tom had a 50-mile route planned. We'd go down to Cassville. Knowing it was a holiday, he had four places in mind where we could stop. If all of those failed, we'd make our way to a Wawa.

His first choice was the antique store on Route 528. There was no way that place would be open, I told him. I was right. He figured that the bar across the street might be open, or the little doughnut shop on the other side of the defunct general store. Nope.

There was a tiny strip mall up the road, with a little deli in it. That was Tom's fourth choice. It was open. We got there as the shift was changing. A friendly woman rang us up; a friendly man took our trash and led us to the bathroom in the back. The place is called Mr. T's Family Deli. It's on Cassville Road. From our perch on the sidewalk by the parking lot, we could see the golden steeple of Saint Vladimir church above the trees a quarter mile to the north.

We went northeast from there, and for a handful of miles I had no idea where we were, although I'm sure I must have been there a bunch of times before. Tom assured me I'd recognize things in a minute, and when we got to Eltone Road near Eli Harmony my memory clicked back in.

In Cream Ridge, Bob had a flat. We waited in the shade, across from the vineyards of Working Dog Winery.

Tom got us back to Windsor Road and left us there. I turned towards the main entrance of the park as Ricky and Bob went straight towards the East Picnic Area. When I got close enough to see the skating rink parking lot I saw a bobble of helmets, to I turned in. It had just gone noon.

The faster rides had already returned and dispersed. Plain Jim, who led a C+ ride, was still there with TEW. I got to see Statler and Waldorf, which is always a pleasure, and I chatted with George D about rowing and his upcoming Anchor House ride that starts in the Finger Lakes. I saw Ira and Sue, which was great, because I haven't seen them since glassblowing swallowed me whole and I quit the Board of Trustees. Ken G had ridden in too, but his route home was in the opposite direction.

I was soaked and nearly out of water when I got home, with 64 miles under my belt.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Rides of Attrition

Hill Road Near Walnford, NJ

29 June 2019

I push the screen door open with my pinky as I carry two mugs of cold brew to the front steps.


"Yeah," Ricky says.

It's not hot, at least. Not yet. Still, by the time we get to Mercer County Park my arms are covered in sweat. It's going to be one of those days.

Jim and Tom are already huddling in the shade of the picnic pavilion. Chris and Andrew are in the parking lot.

We're heading southeast, to Charlestown House in New Egypt. Late afternoon will bring severe thunderstorms. We'll be home by then.

I'm wearing new shorts, which is usually a good thing, but today it's not. For years I've been buying a specific style and size from one company, and now I can't find what I want anymore. I went with two pairs of the upgraded version, which, had I read the comments before I bought, I would have known were running small. The fit is almost fine, a little tight around the legs. That's a problem in the hills but today's ride is flat. What's bothering me now is that the chamois ends in the same spot the saddle does, and if my position shifts I have to stand and hope the wardrobe falls back into place. It often doesn't. And if it's not going to feel right when I'm on Kermit, it's not going to feel right on any other bike.

(I have a new helmet, too, the last of the model I like. The newer version, which I also bought, has straps closer to my ears, causing turbulence so loud I can't wear my hearing aids when I'm wearing the helmet to commute to work. I'm almost due for new hearing aids anyway; I'll deaf my way through the rest of the commuting season and get new in-the-ear aids over the winter.)

When we pass the dam at Imlaystown Lake I stop for pictures and to give my butt a break.

I'm following the route I used back in the spring, downloaded from the GPS record of the trip. There was one spot where the track was off. I corrected it to the nearest road without thinking much about it.

I ought to have thought much about it, because we find ourselves at more or less a dead end. There is a dirt track where the road should have been, but it looks like a path through someone's back yard. We double back and I find where I wanted to go without much trouble. It helps that Chris knows the road I'm looking for.

Ricky and I have 40 miles when we got to Charlestown House. I've already gone through both of my water bottles.

As we dismount, a woman walks by and says to me, "I don't know how you guys do it. It's so hot!"

"A long shower after," I tell her.

The folks at Charlestown are biker-friendly. Not only do they gladly fill our bottles; they also offer to put ice in them. Their coffee is good, and this time there isn't vanilla in the cold brew. On every table is a roll of paper towels. I go through more than my share in a futile attempt to dry off. With a bagel oven in the back of the adjoining deli, there isn't much of a temperature difference between inside and outside.

Even though we're riding into the wind on the way back, I'm glad for the breeze.

We get spread out on Hill Road. I stop at one of the tops for some pictures.

We wait in the shade at the bridge near the mill.

I have to stop again when I see the half-hidden "hidden driveway" sign on Walnford Road.

We get spread out again. Stopping to collect everyone outside of Allentown, I decide we should stop at Bruno's for more water. Between Charlestown and Bruno's is only 13 miles, but I've already drained one water bottle.

Bruno's is always good for vintage bike porn. Today he has a 1952 Schwinn Phantom on the floor. A customer had asked him if it were possible to restore the thing. "With enough money I can restore anything," Jim Bruno had replied, and here it is, with shiny rims and a working horn. (The original wheels are behind the bike.)

Behind the Phantom is a new crop of old bikes.

Jim Bruno is bubbling over with details of his recent trip to Jim Thorpe, where he and his partner took a shuttle to the top of a rail trail and spent the day biking back, stopping for pictures and a picnic. He shows us pictures. Tom and I are sold.

Out front was an array of beach cruisers.

We get spread out again after the I-195 overpass on Route 539. I am taking the long way back to the park, opting for Perrineville Road instead of Gordon. Somewhere in there, Chris disappears.

When we turn onto Perrineville, Tom heads straight for home instead. We find some shade to stop in so I can call Chris. He'd taken Gordon to get out of the heat.

Andrew doesn't go back to the park with us either, heading towards home on Edinburg Road instead. That leaves me and Ricky to check in with Chris. In the few minutes we stabd by his car we start to roast. The headwind through the park, which alternates between hot and cooler, helps with the heat a little.

There's yard work to do when I get home at 1:30, but I don't do it. After I clean off and stuff some food in my face, I plop down next to Jack in front of the TV, and we catch up on late-night political snark.

When I look up again, it's dark outside. The rain comes soon after.

Sunday morning is cooler. I down some cold brew and hit the road on Kermit at 7:10 a.m. I don't know why I'm wearing the second pair of small shorts. It was a stupid choice.

Plain Jim has a good crowd today: Dr Lynne and Bill, Prem, Bob, and Steven S. With 18 miles in me, I ought to eat something, so I down a couple of Shot Bloks. They have caffeine in them, which I don't really need right now, but whatever.

Jim has his usual Bagel Barn stop planned. Bob suggests we try Thomas Sweet, a little farther up Route 206, instead. They have a bakery as well as ice cream, and they roast their own beans. Bob thinks he can get us into the shopping center without getting any of us killed.

We get spread out on East Mountain Road, as we always do. At the intersection with Route 601 I take pictures of the clouds, because there can't be a blog post if there aren't any pictures.  (Again, no edits. This new camera is aces.)

It's the longer route today, which I hadn't realized. At mile 35 I'm hungry. We're only a few miles from the rest stop, but I know not to wait. I down the last two Shot Bloks.

When we get to where Route 518 crosses Route 206, we take a left, turn into the first driveway, and hop onto a short stretch of sidewalk that gets us to the shopping center entrance. 

Unlike the Bagel Barn, Thomas Sweet is not packed. We're far from the only ones there (and those who are appear to be quite settled in), but there's more than enough space for us in the air-conditioned shop. Service is fast. Not thinking about it, I ask for a large cold brew.

Jim has himself a massive ice cream cone. "TEW is going to be jealous," I warn him. 

"I know she is," he says, and, with one hand on his camera and the other on the cone, takes a picture of it.

My plan is to go home from here. The only question is how to do it without riding the wrong way on Route 206 back to the intersection. Bob says I can cut through the parking lot and walk my bike over a berm to the next one. Nah. I ride with the group on the shoulder of 206 instead, breaking off in a few hundred yards to a side street that I know will intersect with another side street that will get me back to 518 in the middle of Rocky Hill.

I say my goodbyes and immediately realize three things: there are little hills back here; I've had far too much caffeine; and my shorts are completely wrong for a long ride on a humid day. 

When I get home I have to mow the lawn before I clean off. Then I do the laundry. When the offending shorts come out of the wash I throw them in the drier, which one isn't supposed to do, hoping that they'll degrade a little. When they come out I put them in the commuting pile, where I'll only need them seven miles at a time.