Friday, July 15, 2022

Gibbstown-Springtown NJ 107km randonneur ride 7.10.2022

 I rode with rando George B on this Underground Railroad route (#4391) on a nice summer Sunday.
George is a stronger rider, so I was riding above my normal pace, getting a bit of a workout and keeping up my Saltstick capsules intake to avoid cramping.

Lots of nice country along this route. We enjoyed seeing an eagle take flight from the ground along McKillup road.

George has done a lot of randonneuring, and tells good stories, such as riding thru the night until he started hallucinating other riders coming up behind him.
Or when he thought he had gone over the time limit on a ride, and, riding along at a leisurely pace, was surprised to find people cheering him across the finish line with only seconds to spare.
And the route where his nature break is usually bothered by attacks of green-head flies.
And there was the time he was cold from riding, and at a bar full of bikers ordered hot tea.
Good times. Thank heavens for rando-nesia. 

Now 7/12ths of the way to my second P-12.  On the Spesh Roubaix. 

Pics and route profile here:

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Batsto 200k rando pre-ride 4.21.2022

I pre-rode my buddy Rick's 200k route to check out the navigation cues for his upcoming brevet, open to all registered randonneurs next Saturday April 30, when I will be a volunteer working one of the controls.

I rode basically that same course during the brevet with a lot of other randos back in 2019, the last time it was held before Covid-19 (I think). It was also the last time I rode such a distance, and I wanted to see if I could still do it. Things went pretty well; I felt satisfaction that my body was still up to it. I did find myself shaking my fist and cursing the double-digit winds, especially late in the ride when the Hammonton blueberry fields I was riding thru provided no shelter. And early on my fingers went a bit numb; the earlier forecasts showed 46F at my start time, but at ride time the thermometer read 37F and my hands were under-dressed for at least the first hour.

My end-of-ride reward was a most welcome bowl of chili and a beer at the start/finish of the route, the Lower Bank Tavern, owned by a randonneur, Bill Reagan, who graciously allowed me to park my car there for the day.

Solo, on the Spesh Roubaix.

Course map, elevation profile and pics here:

Friday, April 1, 2022

Underground Railroad in South Jersey 117km randonneur ride 4.01.2022

Today I was the first to officially ride a new 117km Permanent I created and submitted. It was recently approved by RUSA as route #4411 (kinda like that number).

Temps were forecast to be in the 50s, so I wore shorts, which was okay, but I was glad I wore latex gloves under my fingerless ones. The route is mainly north-south, but the 10-18mph west winds pushed me around quite a bit, slowing my pace considerably. It had my cue sheets flapping up over my GPS at times, and apparently it was the reason I couldn't vocally enter Notes on my phone. On the plus side, I was able to work on my elasticity by spending a lot of time riding in the drops, trying to cheat the wind.

There was a lot of overcast, but at times the sun was out and it was glorious; the country roads looked great with plenty of signs of spring. At one point I caught a glimpse of something gleaming below, and looked down to find the sunlight was bouncing off my chain rollers. Nice.

Happy to report I didn't encounter the nasty cur on Compromise Road that chased me recently (and got an attack-stopping water-bottle squirt in the face for his efforts). I did see a couple friendly dogs with their owners, with whom I exchanged brief pleasantries. 

Saw a yard full of maybe 15 wild turkeys and a small field with a similar number of guinea hens. Saw a hawk soaring just overhead, and a great blue heron coming in for a wet landing, until it saw me and turned the maneuver into a touch-and-go takeoff.
Used a new app to identify a saucer magnolia coming into bloom.

Made my first-ever stop at the little store in little Canton, because I heard they were nice people, which I found to be true. Bought a Coke and (coincidentally?) had a serious case of the pees, so by necessity I discovered a number of new spots for nature breaks. One involved making a last-minute decision to turn off the road onto some damp ground; in a bit of a late-ride brain fog, I didn't get fully unclipped and went down, softly but quickly, which gave me my first chainring tattoo in a while.

I am now 1/3 of the way to my second P-12. All in all, another good day on the bike (Spesh Roubaix, solo).

Route map, elevation profile and pics here:

EDIT: This route was used as a New Jersey Randonneurs Populaire on 6/19/22 (Juneteenth).

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Gibbstown-Springtown Underground Railroad 107km randonneur ride 3.05.2022

Unusual for me to ride on a Saturday, but I wanted to be the first to officially ride the route I recently submitted to Randonneurs USA, which was just approved Thursday. Named Gibbstown-Springtown Underground Railroad, it has lots of good-riding country roads (and some nice long stretches), along with URR historic value. Until I read the book Parallel Communities (by Dennis Rizzo, The History Press), I had no idea the URR was so active 'down Jersey.' I have at least two more URR-related routes to submit for RUSA approval soon.

The ride started out pretty cold (wind chill 29F at the start, but up to 40F by the turnaround point in Springtown/Othello), and my hands felt cold inside of latex gloves inside of light leather gloves, but they warmed up after several miles. Headwinds weren't bad until they picked up across some open fields an hour before the turnaround point, but they were glorious tailwinds coming back.

Saw my first daffodils of the season pushing up thru the leaves while I took a Clif-bar break by the cemetery at Head of Greenwich.

Saw a Burger Fence truck and thought of buddy FFrank's line, A dog would eat right thru that!

Solo, on the Spesh Roubaix.

Route map, elevation profile and pics here:

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Bow Tie Metric 100km randonneur ride 2.09.2022

I went back for a repeat of this Permanent course, ridden in November, but this time I brought along two buddies, and I even remembered to bring my camera! Having the camera along meant I didn't have to do (non-)artist's renderings at the photo controls this time. Much more convenient. And Rick and Jim coming along meant I had cyclists to watch in the far distance ahead of me. Thank goodness they use blinkies.

Just as in last month's metric century, my thighs were protesting along the way. I'm not riding enough, I guess. Plus there was a fair amount of elevation on the course for this flat-lander - over 2100' of climbing. On top of that, I had changed out my rear derailleur cable recently, but hadn't run the shifting thru all the gears when finished to see if I got it right. I found out during some hill climbs today, no, I didn't get it right. I couldn't shift to my two lowest gears, and I wound up walking up a couple hills! *urk*

[Edit: Seems the problem was I hadn't tightened the rear derailleur pinch-bolt to spec, and the cable loosened up.]

The Garmin behaved itself today. Also, I learned how to lock the screen so it doesn't jump around to other views for no apparent reason. Nice. And Rick had an allen wrench that fit the Garmin mount, so I played around with different angles in order to get more ambient light on the screen at times. My Lezyne multi-tool has allen wrenches, but not the size I needed today. First time that brand has left me feeling let down.

At one point I saw laying on a quiet country road a fresh clean baggie with something in it. Shortly thereafter I saw another, then a third. It looked like the contents were a few smooth stones and a piece of paper with green printing. It occurred to me that maybe these were religious tracts to be found and read, with the stones added to keep the baggie from blowing away. I might have stopped to satisfy my curiosity if I wasn't already off the back.

It was a chilly day to start, around 33F, but the wind was light early on, and then it warmed up some. Pretty good riding day for February, actually.

Pics, route map and profile here:

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Millville 100km randonneur ride 1.19.2022

Rode the Millville 100k today with Rick, Dawn and Jim (stronger riders all).
Jim created the course a few years back, and Dawn was the recent owner under the previous Permanent system (now RUSA owns all the routes, in order to make the rides insurable).
This is the fourth time I've done this one; last February I rode it less than 48 hours after my first Covid-19 vaxxing, and had a bout of dizziness near the end. It went better this time. Mid-ride I did have a bit of soreness in my thighs (unusual), so I popped an ibuprofen.
It was nice having these good folks to pull me along and keep my pace up, otherwise I might have dogged it on that last 16-mile straight stretch on NJ 49.

Early on, a policeman pulled alongside me and said I should ride on the shoulder. I said I was avoiding the rumble strip, but in truth there was room to ride to the right of it, so I moved over. I thought I was within my rights to ride on the road, but I've always felt respect for a New Jersey State Trooper, and this time was no different. (I like seeing them on TV, in their distinctive 'kit' in the end zones at the NJ Meadowlands football stadium during New York Giants and Jets games.) He then pulled ahead, and said the same thing to my co-riders. Everyone complied. We saw him at least 3 more times on that long stretch of Fairton Road, driving back and forth and pulling over a couple cars.

A lot of this 'down Jersey' route is on straight, quiet country roads, so there were plenty of chances to ride two-by-two and shoot the breeze. Rick and I did some joking and punning, as usual, after seeing a sign outside a fire hall for meatloaf. [EDIT: Meatloaf's death was announced 1.21.2022]  I learned that Jim once got frostbitten fingers while racing his motorbike, and had to have help removing his hands from the bars at the finish. (He now has chronic issues with frostbite.) I enjoyed hearing Dawn talk about her Paris-Brest-Paris plans; she rode that 1200k/744-miler in 2015, missed 2019 due to knee problems, but is hoping to repeat in 2023 (it takes place every 4 years). In order to qualify, you have to record some long rides, including a 600k/372-miler. She plans to do that plus go longer this year and do a 1200k in preparation. Godspeed, Dawn. You are the only person I know and ride with who has done P-B-P, the oldest and most prestigious randonneur brevet. Kudos and cred.

Not a bad riding day for January, with temps 39-48F, winds a bit strong at 14-16mph but out of the South/Southwest, which meant they were mostly crosswinds on this particular route, thank Buddha.

Route map, elevation profile and pics here:

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Hancock's Bridge 100km randonneur ride 12.05.2021

I wanted to ride a RUSA Permanent metric century each month for 12 consecutive months (a P-12) without repeating any routes. But I ran out of desirable choices after 11, so I decided to repeat this one, created this year by Rick, who agreed to ride along with me (again, as he did in June). His idea to ride the loop clockwise this time appealed to me, as it kinda made it a new route.

The weather forecast was pretty good for a December day, temps 39-53F with winds not exceeding 8mph (but they still fought me across the open fields late in the ride). The route around Cumberland and Salem Counties goes from the edge of Millville thru Fairton, the county-seat city of Bridgeton, historic Greenwich, Canton, Harmersville, historic Hancock's Bridge, Quinton, Rosenhayn and little Carmel, with lots of low-traffic country roads thru farm country and wooded areas.
We took one short diversion onto New Bridge Road to check out the closed old bridge over swift-moving Alloway Creek (incoming tide), which was a good place for my nature break. And the following stop at Bud's Market in Quinton was a welcome place, as always, to sit on a bench out front in the sunshine and munch a treat. There I learned that Rick once tore down the top of the engine to replace a head gasket in a second-hand 1980s Dodge Daytona he owned. Major props for that.

We rode and talked (never a problem when riding with Rick), and for once I even beat him to the punchline of one of his pop-up jokes. It was a "wrenching" experience. 

I was dragging a bit with an achy knee on the last long stretches (of 7, 5, 7 and 4 miles).
At the end, I was congratulated for completing my P-12. Thanks for the support and company, Rando Rixter.

Course map, elevation profile and pics here: