Sunday, July 15, 2018

All Greased Up and Nowhere to Go

Carson Road, Lawrence Township

15 July 2018

5:16 a.m.

Laura, Ricky, Jack -

I just cancelled. We'll try again another time, maybe.


5:30 a.m.

I turn off the alarm, set it for 7:00, and go back to sleep, during which I dream that a trainer at the gym is making me ride uphill in sand and I'm in my big ring.

7:00 a.m.

It's dark outside. 25% chance of rain. I don't know why Jim canceled. I set my bar at 60%. Gary hasn't canceled his ride out of Etra. I'm sure to lag behind the Fastboys.

8:25 a.m.

This coffee isn't any good. So much for Crooked Porch; I'll stick with Acadia. I have a 28-minute drive to drink it anyway. I'm going to need it.

The sky is completely cloudy, but they're those high clouds that never do much. Except that one gray one hanging over East Windsor.

The first splash of rain hits the windshield as I reach Hightstown. The drive down Etra Road is in a torrent. The gravel parking lot is empty. I drive into the park; that's empty too.

I check the radar. There's a little blob overhead now, and, after that, nothing for a while. Ralph rides past me and I wave him down. He's smiling, of course, and he's going to continue his ride, of course, because, he says, "I'm already wet," and because he's Ralph.

I head home. If it's dry I'll do my own thing.

Wait. Alan K has that C+ thing out of Mountain Lakes. I pull over to get the address from the ride calendar. That's when I see that Gary canceled. Either I missed it or he canceled minutes after I left the house.

It's 9:16. Google says the trip will take 16 minutes. Might as well try.

9:28 a.m.

Harrison Street at Nassau. The sky to the west is thunderstorm gray. 1.2 miles to go, 6 minutes. Not happening. I turn left towards home.

Princeton Pike looks like it got some rain.  The roads in Lawrence are dry.

9:40 a.m.

In the driveway I check AccuWeather. Rain in 62 minutes. I can squeeze a ride in. I unload the car, get my helmet and shoes on, and tell Jack, "I'll be back in 25 miles or rain, whichever comes first." I leave the camera at home.

I don't have a route in mind, other than to stay west of Route 1 and head toward the leading edge of the next storm cell.

I take Princeton Pike to Lewisville, then Denow to Federal City. There are a few drops of rain on my GPS. Ahead of me a guy in an orange jersey blows the Lawrenceville-Pennington light. It's green when I get there. I stay the same distance behind him all the way down Keefe and Cold Soil. Maybe I'll catch up to him, maybe I won't. I haven't even decided if I'm going to turn on Van Kirk or go straight.

He turns, so I turn. I'm trying to catch him, which I know I won't do. And even if I did, I'd have to work too hard to keep up. There's no point. Still, I don't stop for the cows herded near the creek on Van Kirk. They're too far away and there's no snow. The light is all wrong.

Orange jersey turns onto Tall Timbers, so I do too. He has turned around at the far end of the road. We wave to each other as he passes. It's still only drizzling.

10:25 a.m.

When I stop on Carson Road to take pictures is when I hear the thunder.

The rain is coming down a little harder now. I turn onto Province Line, cross 206, and fly down Princeton Pike.

I finish with only 14.68 miles, which would hardly even count as a ride save for my average speed, which I'll never again match until the next time I put myself on the leading edge of a storm.

Kermit only needs a little wiping down, which I do on the back porch, screened in from the rain. The cleaning only takes a few minutes. By the time I wheel him inside there's more thunder and the rain is coming down harder.

11:02 a.m.

I send a quick email to Jim, Jack H, and Ricky:

I’ll have a blog post up after I dry off.

1:30 p.m.

Reports are coming in from the field.

John K posts to Facebook:

Well well.
It wasn't the planned 43 miles, thanks to heavy rain and thunder in the area. We even took refuge in an enormous barn with a Mexican family (I believe). They probably recognized me as Charlie's human companion and so they offered us shelter.
We were soaked, and to top it off, I got a severe flat in the last 2 km. I couldn't ride it in, and these are new wheels, so I fixed it in the rain. ugh!
I just got my bike cleaned and dry, newspaper stuffed in my shoes, and kit in the laundry!
Thanks everyone who showed up! If anything, it showed our sincerity to turn Type One into TYPE NONE!

There's an email from Jack H:

Laura, RULE # 9!!!!!  Jim take note: Laura rode, I rode. I rode from Pennington to Six mile lot (because I did not check my laptop) then to Cranbury to use the portajohn, then home to get more water (then it started to rain(Hard) so what do we do (keep riding). I rode up to Washington's crossing crossed back over to NJ and over to Pennington. 70 miles and home by 12:30 . AND ITS NATIONAL ICE CREAM DAY. Plus the final game of the soccer tournament.Plus the tour. Could this day get any better? WOW. Am I in heaven ? 
Rule # 9  BUT there needs to be one more rule: ALWAYS CHECK TO SEE IF THE RIDE IS STILL ON.

2:43 p.m.

Wait, what? It's National Ice Cream Day?

I'm outa here. I have shopping to do!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

This is the House that Jack Built

Jack H's Pool, After the Insane Bike Posse Splashed Around

7 July 2018

The heat wave broke on Friday. We're back to early June weather: low humidity, clear skies, and open-window temperatures.

Jack H and Dorothy moved to Yardley last year. The idea to start a ride from his new house was Jack's idea. He enticed us with the promise of a cookout after the ride, and told us to bring our bathing suits. 

Tom came up with the route. "It's gonna suck," he said as Jack H, Jim, Bob and I gathered in Jack's driveway at 8:30 a.m.

"Why is it gonna suck?" I asked. I'd only had time to glance at the route the night before while I was loading it into my GPS. I knew Eagle Road, the hard way, was in there among the 3000 feet of elevation gain in 50 miles.

"We're going through a bunch of neighborhoods to get off the main roads," he said.

Bob wanted to test his theory that I have bad GPS juju. We'd both loaded the routes in, his as .tcx and mine as .fit. Jim had the .fit file in his older unit. Tom's was in whatever format they used back in the stone age on his stone age device.

Jim's crapped out in the first half mile. He got it back. Then my screen froze and I had to reboot. Bob gloated until Tom deliberately took us off course, through Tyler State Park, at which point all three of us rode with digital bricks until we reached the main road again.

The Neshaminy Creek at Tyler was muddy from yesterday's rain.

I zoomed in on the thing sticking out of the water in front of the spillway. I thought it might have been a bird but it's an algae-oozing stick.

We saw a little bit of Newtown and then continued north towards Eagle Road. My front tire conveniently went flat before we got there, which gave us all a break. It was the same slow leak as last week. I couldn't find the cause of it then, and we couldn't find it now either. I emptied a CO2 cartridge into the new tube and hoped for the best.

Two thirds of the way up Eagle Road I said to Tom, "This hill isn't worth the effort." He agreed. "There's no view at the top." The climb is only half a mile with a couple hundred feet of elevation gain. It's all under trees, and it's pretty enough. Other than for bragging rights, though, I can't see a reason to be there.

On the other hand, there's the descent.

Aside from Eagle, Jack had suggested we climb the ridge above New Hope so that he could show us the old house he used to live in. We passed my favorite Bucks County intersection of Pidcock Creek and Windy Bush and turned onto Old Windy Bush. I tried not to dwell on that last one much.

Jack's old house was at the top of the hill, in the woods, with no other houses around it. He'd put a lot of work into it, restoring the outside, knocking down walls inside, and building a free-standing garage (which required moving boulders).

"In the winter," he said, "with the leaves down I could see all the way to Bowman's Tower."

I asked, "Why did you leave?"

"Nobody would come up here and see me," he said. His job and his friends were in Trenton, so he moved to Ewing.

A few miles later, where Stoney Brook intersects with Sugan, Jim, Bob, and I stopped to take pictures of the remains of a towering stone building. I'd tried for pictures once before from up on Stoney Brook. They hadn't come out very well. Today's were better.

Through one window we could see another. Inside looked modern. The far side of the structure had been renovated, with modern wooden siding extending from the old stone. I didn't get any pictures of it. Jim figured that a complete renovation would happen piecemeal as the owners got money.

When we stopped at the Wawa on the ridge above New Hope I could have ended the ride there. If we're at at Wawa with Jim we will see him with an apple fritter. I asked to try a piece. It had that heavy taste of fried dough, surrounded by a coating of thick sugar. Not a fan of fried dough (the taste makes me a little nauseated), at first I couldn't imagine eating the whole thing. As junk food has a way of doing, though, my revulsion was replaced by a sugar craving. I wasn't dumb enough to oblige; had I been, I'd have been blowing chunks off the side of the road within five miles.

We still had 20 miles to go. I was tired. I began to question why I beat myself up so much. Surely I could stay fit without having to be in so much pain. Why was I doing this? To keep up with my friends. To lose fitness might mean to lose them as well.

Four miles later we found ourselves at the bottom of a hill on Street Road (dumbest. road. name. ever.), facing "road closed" signs, a cement truck, and two construction workers rather violently waving us back the way we came. "Make that 51 miles," Tom said as three GPS units razzed in confusion at the detour.

"We have to go back up Eagle Road," Jack said. "It's the only way."

"I don't believe you," I told him.

We were back on track in under two miles. The closest we got to Eagle was Thompson Mill, which climbs the same ridge. Coming from the north, though, it wasn't nearly as steep.

Somewhere on Highland Road, up on another ridge, I stopped for hay bales.

When we had ten miles left, Tom pulled over for a gel snack and I texted Jack (Moose) to tell him that we'd be back at Jack H's in an hour. Cheryl and Blake, out on their own ride, would meet us there too.

I'd packed a change of clothes and a couple of towels. I hadn't packed a bathing suit. The last time I wore one was 1997 or so. If I decided to jump into Jack H's pool, I'd go in with my cycling clothes on. I figured I'd ask Dorothy if I could use her shower instead.

When I saw the pool I changed my mind. I took out my hearing aids, took off my shoes, removed my socks, and stepped onto the first rung of the ladder to get a sense of the water temperature. It was warm. I dove in.

Jack H dived in. Jim dived in. Bob dived in. Tom dived in.

I don't remember the last time I was in a real pool. I let muscle memory take over. I took a few more dives and did a messy cannonball. I went to the shallow end, opened my eyes underwater, and did a handstand. I did an underwater forward flip and an underwater back flip. I got water stuck in my ears. I got water up my nose. In other words, I did all the pool things I used to do except actually swim. I did the crawl for a few strokes to check off that box too.

Without thinking about it I raised myself out of the pool by pushing myself up to the deck from the water. "There's a ladder," Dorothy said. Muscle memory. I hadn't even considered the ladder.

Tom's camera is waterproof. He was taking pictures. He got one of Jim diving:

And he got one of me diving too, in my full cycling gear:

Jack arrived as we were bobbing around in the water. One by one we got out.

Long-distance bike shorts don't dry very well. I grabbed my bag of clothes and went inside for a shower.

When I got out Blake was ringing the front doorbell and Cheryl was already out back. Jack H had burgers on the grill. We took our food to the patio at the far end of the pool and ate under the umbrellas in the shade.

Later Jack gave us a tour of the house, showing us the work he'd already done on it and what he planned to do next. When we emerged from the basement Dorothy and Moose were talking in the kitchen. We loaded our plates with dessert and went back outside to the shade.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Another Sticky Day

Smithville Road: "What part of 'no' don't you understand?"

4 July 2018

Holiday All-Paces rides are a Princeton Free Wheelers tradition. Anti-All-Paces Rides are a Tom tradition.

Given the weather forecast and the usual crowds that the All-Paces rides attract, Tom opted for an earlier start and a longer distance from Bordentown.

Tom, Ricky, Jack H, and I headed south into the thick haze of another sticky morning. We passed through Crosswicks, Jacobstown, Cookstown, Browns Mills, New Lisbon, and Buddtown before we stopped at the Vincentown Wawa.

Everything on me was soaking wet. It wasn't very hot -- only about 80 degrees -- but the humidity was over 70%. There was no shade to speak of. We parked our bikes in front and gathered on the side of the building. I slumped down against the wall with 32 ounces of some sort of almost-no-calorie lemonade and tried to eat some of the peanut butter sandwich I'd brought with me. It was 10:00 a.m; I wasn't hungry yet.

Our route home took us into Smithville, where the bridge has been out for-roughly-ever. As is our custom we went right up to it, having been able to get around the construction in recent attempts.

Not this time.

Behind the customary orange and white striped barriers was a concrete Jersey barrier, and behind that a chain-link fence that wrapped all the way around the site.

"We've been crossing over," Tom explained to a neighbor who was among a handful of walkers crossing the street from one side of the park to the other.

"We all have," she said, and told us that we could take the path through the park. We'd done that once before; Tom knew the way. I took pictures when we got to the other side.

I found myself counting the miles as we approached Bordentown. Tom and I were more wiped out than we normally are. Ricky and Jack H probably weren't because neither one of them ever gets wiped out.

"Can we get a breeze up in this bitch?" I asked as we dismounted in the parking lot. I was dripping again.

"Nope," Tom said. "Normally I'd have done a metric today, but not in this weather." We were 8 miles shy of one.

It was 12:00. Maybe the All-Pacers were still out on the road, or beginning to trickle back to the park. I was glad to be finished early.

It's more than 8 hours later now. I've taken a nap, which I normally don't do, and I'm strangely achy. A few ligaments are twinging too. Every summer I have to re-learn how much a heat wave takes out of me.

The weather is supposed to break on Friday. This weekend we'll be back to not having to worry about the heat index.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Recovering From the Recovery Ride

Moxie and a clean backpack

1 July 2018

There's something about summer riding that's extra sticky. 

Jim's recovery ride started at 8:00 a.m. today. I wasn't going to ride from home to Blackwells Mills. I loaded the car, first with my backpack and mug of iced coffee. In my haste I knocked the mug, and the lid popped off, spilling primo cold brew into a deep brown puddle on the driver's seat. I grabbed the nearest towel and mopped it up, then scurried inside for more towels and the remaining cold brew. 

Always have backup coffee in case of emergencies like this.

The temperature was hovering around 80 degrees with relative humidity to match. As I loaded Rowlf into the back of the car my hands already felt tacky.

I drove to the ride sitting on a damp towel and guzzling cold coffee. I got to the parking lot with five minutes to spare.

Everyone else -- Jim, Prem, Ricky, John W, Bill B, and Doctor Lynne -- was ready to go. I was ready at 7:59 a.m., with a damp butt and a deep buzz.

I hadn't ridden with Lynne, Bill, nor John in a long time. We caught up on each other's lives as we made our way through Hillsborough towards, eventually, East Mountain Road. 

Gah, that annoying hill, twice in two days. I charged at it. I wanted to get it over with. I tried to keep pace with Prem but I couldn't hold it. Bill was right behind me, looking as if he was going to make the jump any second. He never did (he said he was "in the zone" and that "passing requires too many brain cells") which at least forced me to keep a steady pace lest both of us wind up sprawled on the asphalt.

We were very spread out by the time we reached the other end. Jim was last, which he often is when he wants to sweep. He wasn't sweeping today; he was leading. "I'm gonna list this as a C+ ride next time," he grumbled. Now he knows what I feel like every. damned. time.

"Sorry," I said. "I wanted to get up the hill."

"And the other side?"

"What does Rowlf want to do all day?" 


"True. What about everyone else though?"

I had no answer for that.

John left for home. The rest of us stayed together for the route to the Bagel Barn (Hey! I remembered the name!) on 518 at 206. We took our time and then some. Bob N, fresh off a run (of course) stopped by to chat. Another cyclist pulled in and sat near us.  I was too hot to be hungry. I drank a large bottle of Diet Coke (which I tipped over, of course) instead. I used a few napkins to mop up the little spill, and then I used the same napkins to wipe sweat from my hands, because it was so sticky out it just didn't matter. My clothes were wet. My gloves were wet. My helmet was wet. 

I don't remember much of the route home. Jim did a sneaky sidewalk shortcut thing between two streets that don't connect and we got from Harlingen Road to Belle Mead-Griggstown without having to encounter the intersection of Harlingen and Harlingen.

The reason I don't remember much of the second half is that, during the break, I found out that Lynne and Bill had been to Bar Harbor last year. I wanted to know everything they did and everywhere they went. I told them about my mission to find all the online cameras. I realized I should shut up already. I realized that I already miss the place.

"We saw a great cycling jersey on a guy at the top of Cadillac Mountain," Bill said. "Veni, vidi, vomit."  Sounds about right, especially if you make the mistake of looking to the right on that last switchback.

Jim turned towards home as we headed north on Canal Road. The four of us sort of hammered -- as much as one can when the temperature is 90 degrees with 70 percent humidity, which is to say we managed to maintain a steady pace -- back to Six Mile Run. 

The car smelled like coffee. I doused the seat with leftover water and mopped it up with the towel, then used the towel to wipe my sticky self down, because it just didn't matter at this point. I wandered over to the tree that Lynne, Bill, Ricky, and Prem were standing under. "I'm not getting into the car until I stop sweating," I said.

"That's gonna be a while."

"You'll be here til 5:00."

I put a clean towel down on the seat and drove home, drinking the leftover morning coffee, which was now hot. By the time I got home the towel was wet, both from my sweaty butt and the cleaning attempt. I doused the seat again before I went inside.

I looked at the backpack that holds all of my biking gear. I carry it with me whenever I drive to a ride, and I never empty the thing. It now had a salt line where the helmet met the zipper. It was time to dump it in the wash along with the coffee-soaked towels.

I emptied the thing on my bed. I don't know if any of you out there also have a biking backpack, or if you've ever decided to empty it. It's quite the ordeal.

Here's what I found in mine, aside from the t-shirt, towel, sneakers, camera, glasses case, multitudes of long-fingered gloves, arm warmers, and spare Kermit puppets that I knew were in there:

several spare pens, one of which actually worked
lip balm
paper clip
safety pin
three pairs of half-finger gloves (two never worn!)
three pairs of laboratory glove liners
an empty sunglasses case from a pair discarded years ago
a bag full of spare sandwich bags
ancient chain lube
three combs

The backpack is clean now, reloaded, and more spacious than it was this morning.

The car is going to smell like coffee for a while though.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Tom's Heat Wave Raritan Ramble

Neshanic Station Bridge 

30 June 2016

Nine days after its official start, summer made up for its late arrival. Tom didn't want a big crowd nor to get caught in the mid-day, 90-something-degree heat when he invited the usual suspects to an 8:00 a.m. start from the D&R Canal parking lot in Rocky Hill.

Comprising Tom's Insane Bike Posse today were Tom, Jack H, Ricky, Plain Jim, Bob, Pete G, and me.

When I left the house on Miss Piggy at 7:10 a.m. it was only 71 degrees. I'd pumped up my tires the night before. As I made my way up Princeton Pike I noticed that my front tire looked the slightest bit low. I gave it a squeeze at a red light; it felt fine.

It was 77 when I reached Rocky Hill at 7:50 a.m. Pete, Jim, and Bob had also ridden in from home.

"I don't like to tell people what to do," Jack H said, "But."

"There's always a 'but'," Tom said.

Jack continued, "Drink twice as much as you normally would."

Sound advice.

The route Tom chose to get us to and over the Sourland Mountain was, for the most part, shady.

Pete, who leaves for upstate New York tomorrow, begged off early and left us at the top of Hollow Road.

I kept my camera in my pocket until we arrived at Neshanic Station. The best view of the bridge is, I think, from River Road, north of the bridge. We were coming from the south. I took pictures from Elm Street instead.

Most of our climbing was behind us. We were in the rolling hills of the Raritan River valley. After the annoyingly steep but mercifully short hill over the railway was the view I always stop for. I wasn't planning on it this time, but when Tom and I saw the purple flowers we both pulled over.

We stopped at the Wawa on Route 202 and Old York Road. The newer stores no longer have a water option on their soda machines. I made do with ice, not thinking to refill it at the end of our time there so that I could get more water in.

Bob, burdened by family obligations, for which we non-breeders chided him, had to leave us at this point.

"Then there were five," Jim said as we left the parking lot.

Within a few miles my front bottle was nearly empty and my rear one was halfway there. The temperature had gone up another ten degrees. Tom suggested a stop at the northern end of East Mountain Road, where there was a pizza shop.

Which was closed. Jim gave me some water from his bottle.

Fortunately the mini-mart at the gas station at the corner of Mountain View and 206 had plenty of water for sale. "Where are you going?" the clerk asked me.

"Lawrence Township," I said.

I topped off Jim's bottle and mine, and we were back on our way.

Nobody else noticed the turkey vulture perched on the steeple on River Road. Jim stopped with me and Tom waited ahead.  There's a metaphor for right-wing American Christianity in here somewhere.

"Too many power lines," I said. Maybe Jim got better pictures.

Jim left us when we turned onto Willow Road. Tom was counting down the miles. Even though Canal Road was shady we were feeling the heat.

I didn't stay long in the parking lot. With 12 miles to go I'd be at nearly 72 by the time I got home.

On Route 27 between Kingston and the center of Princeton my front tire was making more noise than it should have. There was gunk stuck to it but I didn't want to stop. I was getting tired. My back was beginning to hurt.  I got through the traffic on Nassau Street and turned onto Mercer, back to my regular commuting route.

It should have felt like nothing at that point. The descent down the battlefield hill was easy enough, but the next five miles were work. I was riding into a 93-degree headwind and thinking about orange juice.

When I turned the final corner onto my street is when I noticed that the front tire was definitely low. I was coaching myself to take it easy on the sharp turn into my driveway. The tire wasn't having any of that and I stopped on the curb. It was a well-timed slow leak, and at least it was the front wheel. I'll fix the flat tonight I guess.

Jim has a recovery ride on the calendar for tomorrow. It's the same route as two weeks ago. If I can get out of bed early enough I'll pack Rowlf into the car. Maybe I'll take a nap now. Moxie is asleep on the far end of the sofa. He looks as if he could use some company.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

So This is Pittstown (I Wanna Go Home)

Pittstown Road

24 June 2018

"Where's Pittstown?" Andrew asked.

"Go to the middle of nowhere and hang a left," I told him. 

If you were to put your finger in the center of Hunterdon County you'd only have to scooch over a little to your upper left to land on Pittstown.

Why Pittstown? Because we got wind that a new coffee stop has opened up in an old house at the intersection of Pittstown and Everittstown Roads, the center of town, as it were.

I'd come up with a less than inspiring route out of Lambertville. It spanned a narrow band along the ridge between the river and Flemington. Somehow I found nearly 3000 feet of climbing in the 54 miles it would take for us to get there and back. There would be two unknown ascents: Leffler Hill on the way up and White Bridge Road on the way back. Both, it turned out, would suck.

I was leading the regular crowd: Tom, Jim, Jack, Pete G, and Andrew; and two newcomers, Pete R and Brad. Brad is a new ride leader whose first Saturday listing sounded as if Tom or I had written it. Over email we decided to join forces this weekend after his ride was rained out.

As strong as I'd been feeling all season, last weekend's century took a toll. Or, rather, the fact that I didn't rest after the century took a toll. I was trashed by the end of the week. Despite two days off the bike I didn't feel as if I were running on full power today either. 

To get from Sergeantsville to the top of the ridge near Flemington there are a handful of choices. Last time we were up here I picked the half mile of torture where Routes 579 and 523 meet, Croton Road. This time we went farther north on 523, turning up Leffler Hill instead. The ascent was longer but not as steep. What made it suck was the patchwork of patches and cracks in the blacktop the entire way up. 

The route took us past my favorite dilapidated barn at the corner of 579 and Boars Head. Jim called it "classic Adirondack Sag," a term of art he'd learned while living in upstate New York. For that I had to doctor the photo with a sepia filter. It seemed only fitting.

Eventually, after some needless zigging and worthless zagging to add distance and be on some of my favorite road names and intersections (Whiskey and Boars Head; Stone Signpost; Senator Stout and Hog Hollow), we arrived in Pittstown.

Here, in a historic house, sits Brew 362. There was already a large group of cyclists milling about. They were Team Ox, training for the MS City to Shore charity ride. They cleared out as we settled in.

I hadn't even stepped inside yet (I'd been pulled away by Team Ox to take their picture) when Jim asked, "Can we come back here?"

The staff at Brew 362 went out of their way for us. They filled each of our water bottles from a sink in a back room. They served Homestead coffee, hot or iced (cold brew, Americano, nitro, or with coconut milk). There was a small selection of pastries. There was plenty of room to sit, indoors and out. Erica, one of the owners, encouraged us to take pictures.

The sign behind the counter, hanging in the window, says "So this is Pittstown." It's for sale.

There are several rooms with giant fireplaces.

Against a wall, next to another giant fireplace and out of the way of a row of tables, was this bench carved from wood:

Against the far wall are packages of pancake mix and Homestead coffee for sale:

The bathroom is off of the kitchen:

Erica said that within a week this room will be ready for their make-your-own grilled cheese customers.

Outside, the Slugs were in no hurry to leave.

Andrew and Brad

Brad, Andrew, Tom, Jim, and Pete R

The entrance to Brew 362 is on Pittstown Road. The exit is on Everittstown Road.

We'd come in through the out door, as Pete G said, and we left through the in door.  Tom and Jim decided to take a more direct route back to Lambertville. They missed the climb up White Bridge. Lucky them.

We stayed up on the ridge from Quakertown to Raritan. 

I noodled about a little more so that we could be on the intersection of Rake Factory and Goose Island.

Then we took the steep descent on Croton Road to 523. I stopped where 579 splits off again. This is one of my favorite scenic places and I try to take pictures of it every time we pass. We'd gone by in the morning too, but there had been too much haze to make a stop worthwhile. Now I had plenty of time because Andrew had a flat. He turned down 579 and into a driveway to fix it.  I took a few pictures from the intersection.

Then I coasted down to the driveway and took one of Jack H, who, not ever wanting to stop, circled down then up again.

Andrew didn't want any help. He was taking a long time working by himself. Some of us were getting impatient. I suggested he forego his hand pump for a CO2 cartridge. I handed one to Pete R, who inflated Andrew's tube. We got rolling again.

In my rear view mirror I saw Andrew pull off to the side, then turn back towards the driveway. Ricky and Brad were with him. The two Petes, Jack H, and I waited down the road. "If someone offers you help fixing a flat," we agreed, "take it."

Eventually Ricky came coasting down with orders from Andrew and Brad for us to be on our way without them. So we did.

"Laura, I'm tired," Pete G complained.

"Me too."

"I wanna go home."

I started singing the chorus from Sloop John B, which I haven't heard in decades. (Here's the song's backstory.)

So hoist up the John B's sail
See how the main sail sets
Call for the Captain ashore
Let me go home, let me go home
I want to go home, yeah yeah
Well I feel so broke up
I want to go home

Great song and all that, but it's not a good earworm to have when your legs are starting to hurt.

Fortunately we came across a small herd of longhorn cattle on Lambert Road so that I could stop for a few pictures. Imagine having to carry that rack around all the time. Makes a 54-mile hilly bike ride in 90-degree heat seem like nothing. Thanks for the pep talk, cow.

"This is the last of the hills," I said as we turned onto Seabrook Road from Brookville Hollow. "I think. Never trust the ride leader."

Ricky laughed because he didn't believe me anyway.

"It's the last one until the next one," I said.  There were, in fact, at least two more next ones until, at the intersection with Lambertville Headquarters, it really was all downhill from there.

Even Jack H, who has been overly cautious on descents since his crash on Federal Twist, let loose. I was happy to see him fly past me. He was too.

I took my time loading the car and then wandered into CVS in search of a drink. Nothing there looked worthwhile and I wandered out again. Everyone else had left. As I was pulling out onto Route 29 Brad and Andrew were rolling in. "Everything okay?" I asked. They called back that they were fine, and I went on my way.

So, we have a new rest stop. I need to figure out a less brutal route to and from Pittstown that doesn't involve driving an hour to a starting point. Jim posted the route he and Tom took home. They shaved off 8 miles and a few hundred feet of ascent. Now that I've got the county maps back on the wall I can stare at Hunterdon again while I brush my teeth. I'll figure something out. We'll be back.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Map Geek

23 June 2018

Aesthetics be damned. I put the maps back up. Without them my bike rides lack creativity.

A collage of NJBikemaps, c. 2001
Trenton (west) to Freehold (east),
Millstone (north) to Four Mile (south)

Mercer (left) and Somerset (right), c. 1998

Warren (top), a bit of Sussex (middle), and Hunterdon (bottom), c. 1998

Newark Quad, Hubbard Scientific (3-D relief), c. 1961