Thursday, August 30, 2007

Off To Connecticut

A quick note before we take off. We will be at our daughter and son-in-law's home in New Jersey tonight. They live close by the pick-up point in West Orange N.J. where will catch the bus to Connecticut tomorrow morning. We are psyched for the ride!

This morning we did our regular loop of 13 miles. We will not expecting to ride tomorrow so my August statistics seem final today. 516.5 miles for the month is pretty good; my second best month of the year. September will obviously get off to a good start with two 50-60 miles days back to back. After that, after Labor Day, long rides will be fewer and more far between and even regular morning rides will be impacted by the many Jewish holidays in September and October. But I'm well on my way to meeting the 4000 mile goal.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Golf Day

Before I started riding I used to play golf pretty often. I haven't played in a year and probably only once in the preceding year. Today I was invited to play and decided to do so. It meant giving up a big Wednesday ride, but I thought it would not be such a bad idea to forgo a 50-60 mile ride today knowing that I'm going to ride two 50-60 mile days back-to-back on Sunday and Monday. Besides, variety is the spice of life and the weather was perfect. Of course, having not played for a year, I played pretty badly, but it was fun. When i came home I took the bike out for a spin, just 14.7 miles on the day. another regular ride tomorrow morning and then no ride on Friday or Saturday. Friday we'll be traveling and Saturday is the Sabbath. Then the two big days. We are looking forward to the people, the learning and most of all the ride. Watch this space for a report and, hopefully, pictures. but not until Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Annie's Back!

It was really nice to get out on the trail this morning with Annie. Here she is (and below) decked out in our Lancaster Covered Bridges Jersey. Despite having had x-rays only yesterday and not knowing the results yet, there seemed to be no reason to stay off the bike. The pain she has is only when the area on the side of the ankle is touched; neither walking nor riding seems to impact it (we hope!) Since she's already been spinning in the house all week and we are still psyched for our big Labor Day ride, getting back on the road today seemed important. We had a good ride, good pace until a train blocked our return. We lost some time going up the Chestnut Street ramp and home on the streets, but it gave us a few extra miles and some good work on the hill. No incidents, thankfully. In fact, the spinning workouts are clearly more strenuous than our usual ride and Annie's general fitness and leg strength seemed better today than if she had been biking all this week.

On another front: we decided to sell the Treks! They just don't seem nearly comfortable enough for where we are now. If we need fatter tires for trail riding next summer we can either buy something with less of a "comfort" set-up since that set-up no longer feels comfortable, or try to get fatter tires that we can change-out on the Fuji's. So, the first Trek, mine, was sold in an hour. The other one, Annie's step-through frame may take longer or may not sell at all. We'll see. Next to go will be the Citizen folders.

Last night we took our second of the four class series on Bicycle maintenance. We learned how to take apart, clean and re-assemble a bottom bracket. Great fun!

I've got the bike with me for some errands, so the mileage chart will be updated later.

Finally, just a quick report on a new book. I read Tour de Life, by Saul Raisin and Dave Shield. It's an unbelievable story. Raisin suffered a catastrophic fall that resulted in a coma and necessitated brain surgery just to keep him alive. His prognosis to live was not good; his prognosis to walk was not good; his prognosis to ride a bike was impossible and his prognosis to race at the professional level was beyond impossible. Never the less he will be racing in the U.S Championships coming up this weekend! The story is moving. The funny thing is that while he emerges as an inspirational figure, the recovery proceeds through personality changes that do not really allow him to emerge as a very likable character. One assumes that as time passes this will change. The writing is not as good as the writing in Dave Shield's novels. He obviously needed to create lot's of dialog where the actual conversations could not be recorded or remembered or were conducted in French and broken French. This accounts for a lot of stilted dialog that one has to just read with a grain of salt. In addition to the link above, I've added the link to the side bar book&movie section for your later consideration.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Countdown To Connecticut

On Friday morning we will board a bus in West Orange New Jersey, after spending the night with Tamar and Alan who live not far from there, taking us to Camp Isabella Freedman in Falls Village Connecticut. We will spend Friday and Saturday there enjoying the Sabbath filled with opportunities to learn and share with others around environmental themes and their relationship to Jewish texts, traditions and communities. On Sunday morning we will ride from Camp Freedman to Camp Kinder Ring in Hopewell Junction New York. There are various routes, but I think ours will take us between 50-60 miles. On Monday we will ride from Hopewell Junction to Manhattan along the Westchester Bike trail, another 60 miles. We are excited and have prepared all summer for this ride. The only problem is Annie's physical condition following Thursday's accident. She is still pretty sore, especially around her ankle. It does not appear to be broken nor particularly sprained and she is walking relatively well. But it is very tender to the touch and she did not bike today for fear of just knocking the foot against something. We thought about wrapping it in bubble wrap but it just didn't seem worth it. She is feeling disheartened and "picked-on" by fate. She did work out hard today on the spinner, so her fitness should remain good. I am hopeful that as the week passes her wounds will heal and her confidence will return. It would be a real shame if the highlight that we've worked toward for the whole summer was ruined because of that stupid dog walker!
So I rode on my own this morning again. I was up early and out quickly and rode with very good speed. I was able to do the loop three times for a 29.8 addition to the mileage chart. I didn't enjoy it as much as usual because I felt badly about Annie's not riding. But it was a good ride.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Riding Solo Again

Good news and bad news. Bad news is that, as expected, Annie could not ride today. Her ankle is making progress, the swelling is down, but she's not road-ready. So I had to ride by myself today. The other bad news is that the weather is not getting any more enticing. It is oppressively overcast today and though I've taken my bike with me to do hospital visits I am now seriously worried about rain.
The good news, such as it is, is that being on my own I was able to get out of the house a bit more efficiently and ride at a harder pace and therefore road 17.6 miles this morning instead of the usual 13. The extra pounding felt good. Since, as mentioned, I have the bike with me I won't be posting today's mileage until later.
Also, since I was alone, I wore my ipod. I know there is a lot of controversy about how safe this is, but I use a one ear piece headphone, only listen to podcasts which I think are not as distracting as music, and have found no problem in hearing everything along the ride: cars, other people, etc. For those offended, my apologies. I "discovered" a new bicycling podcast, which was lucky since I'm all caught up on the archives of my other favorites, The Fredcast, The Spokesmen, The Bike Show, Bikescape,etc. and after the intense activity around the TdeF no one has been putting much out lately. So I found The Two Johns and listened to my first show on this morning's ride. Nice stuff.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Annie Can't Win

After our great ride on Sunday Annie's confidence was just about all the way back and her lingering aches and pains were just about gone. But it seems she just can't win. This morning just at the end of our ride she collided with a dog. Said dog was not leashed and its owner was sauntering along the path some yards distant from the site of the crash. The level of inconsiderateness, stupidity, irresponsibility and self-centered-ness is astounding. The dog walkers, I've said from the beginning, are the worst offenders hands down among the various people who make sharing a multi-use trail difficult. They have no sense of where they are as long as their little puppies have the freedom to do whatever they need to do. We were furious, but, thankfully, it does not appear that Annie was seriously hurt. Her right side did take another hit and until we see how sore she gets we won't know for sure. Her glasses were bent, her head did hit, although not hard, so a new helmet may be in order and the bike will definitely have to be looked at again. The fenders, at the very least, look mis-aligned. I was so angry and so helpless. If it would not have taken hours I would have called 911 just to get a cop to cite the girl. It is, after all, illegal to walk a dog without a leash. We are amazed at how much we try to not only obey the rules of the path, but extend ourselves in the interest of politeness. Always calling out "bikes passing on the left" and so on and how many people just don't care. Cyclists who shoot by us on the left without a word, walkers walking 3 and 4 abreast plugged into ipods, skateboarders and dog walkers oblivious to everything. It really does suggest that the safest place to ride is in the road, but I'm not sure I could get Annie to go for that, especially since we ride when it is still dark and rush hour traffic is just getting going. What a bummer. And to top it off, the weather is still lousy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I'm Clipped In!

The misty autumnal weather continued into today though I had hoped for a break. Not that it was raining hard, but misting and dark and very cool for this time of the year. That combined with being a little tired and I got off to a really late start for my Wednesday ride today. I didn't leave the house until around 10:30 and the dismal weather caused me to change my plans for the day. I had hoped to ride up the Wissahiken into and through Mt. Airy in hopes of getting all the way to Wynncote and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical college where I teach. I thought I had mapped out a route that might allow me to take my bike at least sometimes on teaching days. I was also carrying with me a new set of Shimano PD-M324 Pedals that I ordered. They arrived yesterday and my plan was to stop at the bike shop on the way home from the ride not only to have them put on, but more importantly, to see if I could find a comfortable bike shoe given my small, wide foot. These pedals are set up to use cleats on one side but a regular shoe on the other side. I figured this would allow me to use clipless when I'm just out riding, but still be able to wear regular shoes when I'm using the bike during the work day. But the unknown was whether I would find shoes that worked for me. But bummed out by the weather I decided to go to the bike shop first. Indeed I found a really nice pair of shoes, much less expensive than I had imagined, that fit fine. So I waited while they put the cleats on the shoes and the pedals on the bike. At that point I was going to start my ride (in regular shoes) but the weather had worsened. It was really kind of raining so I went home where, following the advice of the salesman at Bicycle Therapy, I stood over the bike in a doorway practicing getting in and out of one pedal at a time. I must say I felt like a jerk for awhile until I found the spot on the first foot and could get in and out reasonably well. Then I started on the other foot. By the time I felt, not exactly comfortable, but willing to give it a real life try, the rain had stopped. Still no sun and cool enough to wear a jacket (in August!) but I re-started my ride with the same destination in mind and wearing the new shoes and working the cleats in and out. Now, before I continue the saga, just let me say that I continue to ruminate on the inappropriateness of the term "clipless pedals." I know the history, that they are called clipless because they replace toe-clips (hence without toe-clips=clipless.) But it is really the only cycling term I've come across that is counter intuitive and, in fact, misleading. These shoes clip into the pedal. They should, by all rights be called "clip-in" pedals. Ah well, so much for logic. Anyway, I managed pretty well. I was told by someone to expect to fall four times while learning to use them. I only fell once. Very minor fall that I hardly felt. I am able to get into the pedals really well now, but getting out of the left to put my foot down is still a second or two slower than I want it to be. But that will come. Do they make a difference? It may be too soon to tell. I certainly felt the extra pull going up some of the big hills I took today and even felt a better level of efficiency on the flats. But I'm no racer and I'm not sure how much in the end they add. We'll see. Meanwhile, now I know what their like.

I rode into Mount Airy and realized that while I wasn't certain how long more it would take me to get to Wynncote and back, I'd already spent an hour and because of my late start didn't have the time to find out today. I had to be home before 4 PM and would need to eat and shower before that. But just riding around Mt. Airy is quite lovely. I passed this great house with this great piece on its front lawn. Took the picture and headed home only managing about 20 miles. Not much for a Wednesday, but I'm still a little tired from the weekend and my legs felt heavier than they have lately.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

League of American Bicyclists

Hey, give this e-mail I received a read and consider joing the League. They do get work advocating for cyclists. and if you decide to join, cut and paste the link so that I get the credit! Who does it hurt?

BikeLeague: Be a Member, Get a Member Campaign - Win Prizes

Dear Ira:

Now, through October 19, 2007 you can help power the League across the country with new members … it’s 2,428 miles from San Diego to New York City, and we want to get there with your help.

Each new member that you refer pedals us one mile on our journey across America. Even better, each referral wins you a coupon for Performance Bicycle's on-line stores and when you refer three new members you are automatically entered in a raffle to win a new bike donated by our friends at City Bikes in Washington, D.C.

The process is simple:
This email includes a unique link that allows us to track your referrals. Forward this email to your friends and family. We have outlined the League membership benefits below. Be sure to add the reasons why you continue to support us in building a bicycle-friendly America.

(If this link is not live, cut and paste it into your Internet browser)

Why Join the League?

1. We Protect the Rights of Cyclists
The League has been protecting your rights to safe and enjoyable cycling since 1880. What started as a movement by "Wheelmen" on high wheel bikes to get roads paved continues today with our Share the Road campaign to make sure cyclists are welcomed and respected out on the road.

2. We provide valuable education programs
Through our bike education program - BikeEd - we teach cyclists and motorist life-saving skills. Our national network of League Cycling Instructors set the standard in bicycle education and safety for children and adults.

3. We create better cycling environments
As the leading voice for cyclists in Washington, DC we advocate for more bicycle-friendly environments. Working with state and local bike advocacy organizations through events such as the National Bike Summit we education Congress on the benefits cycling and the needs of cyclists.

4. We promote cycling as the commuter option of choice
We introduce cycling to countless Americans each year, especially during National Bike Month and on Bike-to-Work Day. We believe sharing our passion for cycling with others is one of the best ways to create a bicycle-friendly America.

5. You can create bicycle friendly communities
When you join you'll have the good feeling of knowing that you're playing a crucial role in creating bicycle friendly communities. Town by town and city by city we are transforming how America moves.

6. You will receive all the benefits of membership
As an added bonus of joining, you'll receive great benefits such as 11 issues of Bicycling Magazine and six issues of our magazine, American Bicyclist. League members also get discounts on bike shipping, roadside assistance, bike tours and more!

7. We provide a charitable deduction
The League of American Bicyclists is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Membership dues are fully tax-deductible less $3 for American Bicyclist and $7 for Bicycling magazine.

8. We will use your donation wisely
We understand the trust you are putting in us when you support us with your membership dues. We strive to maximize the amount of your dues that fund our programs. According to our most recent financial audit (2004) we spend 80% of our revenue on programs and only 20% on fundraising, management and general expenses.

If your friends and family are cyclists, they should be members. Refer them to the League of American Bicyclists today!

(If this link is not live, cut and paste it into your Internet browser)

Questions? Email or call 202-822-1333.

Rules and Regulations: Only League of American Bicyclists members in good standing are eligible to participate. • All online renewals must be received between August 21, 2007 and October 19, 2007 • To receive credit for each new member must use the link from the existing member’s e-mail. • A new member will be credited to the existing member when the new member’s online application is successfully processed. • The existing member will have his/her name entered one time into the prize drawing after referring three new members and once for each new member there after enrolled by October 19, 2007. For example, if an existing member refers three new members, they will get their name entered one time in the raffle and if they refer a fourth new member, they will get their name entered a second time, and so on • Prize drawings will be held on October 26, 2007. Winners will be notified immediately. • Offer void where prohibited.

Still Soggy But Satisfied

I think I forgot to mention yesterday that we did not ride. When I woke at 4AM it was raining and generally ugly out. I felt like we both needed to sleep after Sunday's outing and with the weather being so uninviting I shut the alarm and we slept through until we had to get up for work. Annie used the Spinner but I skipped cycling altogether. Today the weather was much the same and Annie spun again, but I put on my rain gear and rode my 13 miles around a soggy loop. It felt good to be out on the bike and I really don't mind the rain, especially when I'm dressed for it, which I was not on Sunday.

Last night Annie and I attended the first of four sessions on Bicycle Maintenance offered by Philadelphia's Neighborhood Bike Works. There were five other students though we brought the average age up significantly. The others were all college-age kids. The instructor, Rickey was good. We spent a fair amount of time on "bike anatomy" and then each got to fix a flat. Next session is devoted to bearings, after that cables, and I forget what comes after that. I really enjoyed it and look forward to feeling more comfortable about doing my own minor maintenance preventitively, dealing with minor things that go wrong on the road, and just feeling like I understand the machine better. Who knows, maybe I'll be able to build up my own bike someday.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Successful, If Somewhat Soggy

The Lancaster Covered Bridges Metric Century has come and gone. It was a most successful and enjoyable day of cycling. We left our house at 6 A.M. and arrived at the start point in Lancaster at about 7:40. What with taking care of nature, setting up the bikes and checking in at the registration desk, we were on the road at 8:30. The "we," pictured here are Annie, Alan and Jacob. And, of course, me, not pictured, but you know what I look like.

It was a fantastic feeling, and our first experience of riding in such a mass. We later learned that there were 3,305 cyclists on the ride. Cyclists of all shapes and sizes with all manner of bikes: recumbent, tandems (a surprising lot of them) mountain bikes and very, very upscale performance bikes. It was really neat seeing them all gathered. And it was really neat riding amongst such a contingent. Of course, as the day wore on and we fell further and further to the rear, we were eventually riding quite a bit seemingly by ourselves, although even at the end we were always in sight of a group or two of other riders.

The first 34 miles, until the lunch stop were marvelous. Much more hilly than we'd expected. The lunch tent is pictured here. Not long before we reached the lunch tent we crossed the first of the seven covered bridges, also pictured here. By the time we crossed the other six the weather didn't allow me to stop and snap a picture. Also at about the same time or just before we reached lunch, the weather was good enough to stop and snap a few "candids" along the road. That's Annie and me. Then Annie, me and Alan; then Annie, Alan and Jacob.

After lunch things got messy. The rain became steady, fairly hard at times. I think we still really enjoyed the ride but there is no question that we would have enjoyed it more on a nicer day. We were, however, aware of the fact that more typically the weather for this ride might be sunny and very hot and humid. All in all we agreed it was worth the trade. A very hot and humid day would not have been easy, especially up the hills. Just as we hit the 52 mile mark we made our first and only mistake following the route. This resulted in our climbing a very steep hill that we later learned used to be part of the ride but had been taken off because it was too challenging. When we realized our mistake and went back down the hill we came upon the SAG wagon making its rounds. Soggy and tired and, I think, disheartened by the last unnecessary hill, Annie hitched a ride, her day of riding finished. She did a fantastic job! She had never ridden over 30 miles and certainly never on this hilly terrain and in this lousy weather. She really showed her stuff and I was very proud of her.

Alan and I continued (Jacob had already decided to ride ahead to keep a faster pace for part of the ride.) We made much quicker time and devoured the last 10 miles pretty quickly. I can't tell you how satisfied I felt riding back into the start/finish point, nor how good the ice cream provided there tasted. It was just great. It took us a few minutes to figure out where Jacob was, but then we packed up and headed home for dinner together being prepared at home by Tamar and Shuli. We were all famished!

Among the other highlights to mention in passing were, of course, the country itself. Just stunning. But more than just stunning, inspirational when you really looked and saw that people were still living on the land, working the land and living in small sustainable communities. Given my present feeling that cars are truly the root of all contemporary evils watching the Amish families pass by in their horse and buggies and their bicycles no longer looked like a quaint idiosyncrasy but a reminder of a road not taken. Congestion, people living in more and more isolation, people living too far from work, not to mention the environmental crisis, all can be attributed to the automobile. Maybe these Amish knew something we don't want to know? These pictures were taken while riding and didn't come out too good; one shows an Amish buggy passing and one tries to capture a couple of kids riding behind ion their bikes. It was fun seeing the Amish/Mennonite kids riding in their Sunday best as all of us passed in our Lycra. Also, none of them wore helmets!

The other highlight was the incredible job that the Lancaster Bike Club does to host this ride. I couldn't believe the amount of work necessary and the number of volunteers manning the water stations, the feed stations, marking the route, riding the SAG wagons and generally providing a wonderful time for over 3000 riders. I will certainly write to them and express my appreciation ASAP.

Annie and I both certainly feel ready for our Labor Day ride with Hazon now. That will be 50 miles a day for two days. Piece of cake!

Friday, August 17, 2007

On To Lancaster!

We did our usual, and final, ride today before Sunday's Covered Bridges Metric Century in Lancaster. There were no mishaps, which at this point was really all I was worried about. That somehow something would go wrong with one of the bikes or someone would fall and we would not have time before Sunday to mend either machine or person. But all went well and we rode our 13 miles. Tomorrow we will rest on the Sabbath. Our daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter will join us for the Sabbath and then Tamar and the baby will stay and visit friends in Philadelphia while Alan joins us for the ride. Friend Jacob will meet us in the morning and we will caravan cars the 80 or so miles to the starting point. We are hopeful of arriving not long after the 7:30 opening of registration - we want to allow ourselves as much time for a leisurely ride as possible. The course closes at 4:30 PM and I don't expect we will have a problem finishing. I've got the bike with me today for some errands later in the day, so I'll add the total mileage later. Meanwhile, I look forward to reporting on Sunday night or Monday.
If you need something to read, try this:
from the mouths of babes
also listed among the news stories in today's side bar.

Finally, I should mention the scandalous comments made by Transportation Secretary Peters regarding the "waste" of funds that she accuses Congress of spending on Bicycle trails and infrastructure! In contradiction to the law and stated policy of her department to build bicycle infrastructure, the Secretary intimated that the reason bridges and other road infrastructure was suffering in this country was because Congress was busy plying money into cycling. This is ludicrous. Would that Congress really would take bicycling infrastructure seriously enough. I won't say that Congress is innocent of wasting transportation funds on "pork" projects, but bicycling is not one of them. The League of American Bicyclists is asking folks to write the Secretary. I have done so and you can too from this site: do it now!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Usual

After yesterday's great ride, today was back to business. I have a very busy day filled with appointments at my office. No opportunity even for a ride during the day. We did our 13 miles and I'll have to feel satisfied. I will say that after climbing up and down the hills yesterday, rather than feeling the least bit sore, my legs felt much stronger today. I was riding in bigger gears much more easily. We are all getting very excited about Sunday's Covered Bridge Metric Century.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Great Ride...But No Picture Of Mindy

My friend Mindy invited me to ride with her today and it was fabulous. the weather is incredible, especially for August. It feels more like May. Our meet-up place was Old Rittenhouse town along the Wissahickon trail. The trail has been newly paved and is exquisite both beneath the wheels and from the perspective of the eyes. This first photo is of the falls just at the entrance of the path off Ridge Avenue.

She led us out Wissahickon Avenue all through Mount Airy and into Chestnut Hill. This is an area of Philadelphia that I am not really familiar with. Despite having lived here 20 years I actually don't get out of Center City very often. The homes and estates we road by were incredible. Hard to believe we were still in the city. And soon enough we weren't. We crossed into Montgomery county, Whitepain township, I believe, and were riding past farmland. We stopped for this second picture by one of the farms. that's me in the foreground and horses in the background, in case you couldn't tell.(Actually, the horses really didn't show up in this one, I guess.)

A little further on we passed a fabulous estate with a lake in its front yard and these fountains. The picture doesn't do the place justice, but I couldn't resist.

We rode until just past Wings airport, a small airport in Montgomery County and then turned back. We traveled some beautiful roads, took some exhilarating descents and, of course, the necessary climbs to earn such descents.

Finally we arrived back at Wissahickon and had lunch at what Mindy says is a well known cyclist's eatery: Bruno's. Basic, but satisfying.

After lunch we rode back via The Forbidden Drive trail which I had ridden about a year ago with my Trek, but never thought I should take the Fuji on its packed gravel road. However, it turned out to be very manageable; only a few extra rough spots. We parted company back near Old Rittenhouse and I continued on the drive until it met up with the paved part of the path that I had taken in the morning. Soon back down to Ridge and the Schuylkill and home for a round trip of 40.2 miles. Great prep for Sunday's covered bridge ride, especially the ups and downs. And, come to think of it, we passed a covered bridge along the Forbidden Drive, but I didn't stop to take a picture. I did take a picture of Mindy, but it came out way to dark to publish. But thanks to her for a great day of riding.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Taking My Suits In

Our usual loop this morning and then I took the bike to work for a very busy day. After meetings from 8:30 until noon at my office, I rode to another local synagogue for yet another meeting. The ride between the meetings was a welcome respite. After work I brought the new suits I bought after last summer's weight loss following my taking up cycling to the tailor. I've lost at least as much since then, probably more and those new suits weren't looking to great. but I was able to bring them to be tailored and I hope they will look good when finished.

Tomorrow I am riding with a friend and student, Mindy. She is taking me to some of her riding haunts out past Mt Airy. I'm looking forward to a long ride and exploring new vistas. Check this space for details.

Meanwhile, I'm slowly getting pictures taken on the West coast to work. this one is of my two sons in LA, taken by their friend and loyal blog reader Jacob.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Bit Of Local Touring

I had some errands to run, hospitals to visit and the like, and it was just too nice a day not to take advantage of getting in a few more miles today. So after the errands I continued down Pine to Delaware Avenue and turned southward. But I didn't get too far before I decided that riding around in the heavy traffic amid the big box stores just wasn't doing my spirits all that much good. So I turned back west toward home, but decided to go up Christian Street instead of one of the larger streets like Washington. I discovered a very nice route. Christian is a wide, two-way street lined with mostly residential, small and interesting commercial properties and is relatively lightly trafficked. It goes through the Italian market which was lovely, passes a number of notable Philadelphia landmarks included in these photos from my treo; The first is one of the many buildings by the mosaic artist

Isaiah Zager. Mr. Zager's work is all around Center City Philadelphia and is one of it's treasures.

The second photo is of John's Water Ice. A landmark of a different kind, but hands down the best in town. As I was on my way home for lunch I didn't imbibe.
All in all a nice break in the middle of a summer's work day. Before heading back for an afternoon of appointments straight through the day.


A good solid ride this morning; Annie seems to have regained just about all of her confidence. There not being much more of anything interesting to report about us, I thought I'd share this fun video:

Courtesy of Velorution

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Instructional Ride

Gorgeous weather set the scene for our second group ride under the sponsorship of the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia. This one was an instructional ride for new riders. I thought it would be a good idea though I don't think we qualify quite as new riders anymore. Just a way to meet some people, ride a new route, and, why not, pick up a few pointers. I also wanted to ride later in the day rather than getting up at the crack of dawn and then rushing to get to work. So I went to work; to services and then a couple of appointments and I was finished by 11:30 and picked up Annie and we headed out to the azalea garden behind the museum and there met up with about 25 people. There were three ride leaders and the total mileage was really nothing - 10 miles start to finish. but there were stops every few miles where the leaders talked about different aspects of bike maintenance, safety, etiquette etc. They were really nice people and very earnest in their desire to make bicycling more accessible and enjoyable. I would say there were a few real rank beginners, but most everyone was actually more like us, just out to pick up a few pointers and take a nice easy ride. The route was through Fairmount Park again, part of which we traversed on our breakfast ride two weeks ago (you remember - when Annie fell after we went off on our own in the rain.) This time we went through other parts of the park including crossing the Strawberry Mansion bridge which is a truly beautiful structure that I'd never had occasion to see before in my 19 years in Philadelphia. We had a great time and it was especially fortuitous in that Annie was still feeling pretty nervous after the fall and then riding and not being happy about the bike set-up after the ill fated tune-up. We actually took the bike in on Friday afternoon to a different bike shop, one much closer to our house: Bicycle Therapy - and were very happy with their service. They seem to have gotten the bike pretty much back to where Annie wanted it. Still, she was nervous. I think this paced ride with people through street traffic and park roads really built her confidence back.

After we ended the ride we took of for West River Drive and tacked on another 10+ miles before coming home. Not as many miles as we usually ride on a Sunday, but a successful, and I think, needed day of fun on the bike. I feel better about next week's metric century and the big Labor Day ride looming ahead.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dark Mornings

The morning's are getting darker and darker. We are using lights again for the first two or three miles. Today, with storm clouds hovering, it was positively night-like for much of the ride. But we made it without rain. Annie's ride still needs some fine tuning and I'll work on that later today. I hope we can go on a good sized training ride on Sunday and that her bike will be as comfortable as it was before the fall and tune-up.


Just read on Triple Crankset blog about a new cycling movie. I'm psyched! Here is a picture and the synopsis from the web page. It is an IMAX film and according to the schedule in the publicity it will play in Philadelphia at the Franklin Institute in October 2007.But I haven't been able to confirm that information, so be forewarned.


A jumpy home movie shows a six-year-old boy learning to ride his first bicycle with help from his father. The narrator tells us that with each moment, each new experience stimulates growing networks of cells in our brains. "We used to think these changes happened only in childhood, but now we know that our brains never stop developing — they keep wiring and rewiring themselves with every experience and every challenge." After several initial failed attempts — and even crashes — the boy begins to show improvement and confidence. Finally, he is riding alone in a seaside park, amazed at his own accomplishment.

Cut to a spectacular full-screen aerial shot descending the steep eastern escarpment of the Col d'Aubisque in Southern France. As the camera drops down the mountainside, we discover a ribbon of cyclists and vehicles streaming down a narrow, twisting, corniche road. This, says the narrator, is the legendary Tour de France – a 3,400-km, three-week bicycle race that has been called the world's most grueling sports event, and the ultimate test of the human brain.

Australian pro cyclist Baden Cooke and his French teammate Jimmy Caspar are two of the 200 riders competing in the legendary race. Just to finish in Paris, they will need to avoid danger, stave off crushing pain and fatigue, control their emotions, seize fleeting moments of opportunity, and stay highly motivated. It's the brain that controls all of this.

As the tightly-packed peloton speeds towards the first sprint finish of the Tour, the sudden crash of one rider sets off a horrific chain reaction, and nearly 100 riders are taken down. Jimmy Casper is one of the most severely injured. To everyone's astonishment, he opts to continue in the race for as long as he can. Meanwhile, Baden, one of the few unaffected by the crash, manages to win his first ever stage victory, thus becoming one of the favorites to win the coveted sprinter's green jersey.

As the race unfolds, the destinies of Baden and Jimmy diverge. Jimmy desperately wants to help his team by remaining in the race, while Baden becomes the unexpected team leader. As the race crosses the Alps and the Pyrenees, the film combines spectacular live-action footage with cutting-edge computer graphics and medical imagery to demonstrate how each brain responds to experience and challenge in ways we're only just beginning to understand.

"Our goals may not be those of pro athletes,” says the narrator as the remaining riders reach Paris at the end of the punishing three weeks, "but we're all wiring ourselves to win. Any activity that challenges us, and gives us a sense of purpose, will nourish and strengthen our brains."

The film ends as it began, with the home movie of the 6-year-old boy triumphantly riding his two-wheeler on his own. "We fall, we get up, we learn," says the narrator, "Powered by the human brain, there is no end to what we may achieve."

A Quick Morning Ride

The humidity lowered and we had a quick 13 mile morning ride. Kids and grandkid here today so not much time for a report. But here's a recent picture of granddaughter Shail and I from the Pocono's.

Later in the day I had a brief errand that earned me another mile and I spent some time readjusting brakes and shifters on Annie's bike. She was not happy with the way it came back from the shop yesterday!

Also wanted to mention that I have now reached just over $3200 in funds raised for our upcoming Hazon ride. Annie has raised just over $1000, so we've done very well together. I am grateful to all our friends for their contributions and support. My total has earned me a number of "favors" that are offered for incentives. I think I've earned the socks, the shorts and the jersey. Only a couple of hundred dollars more and I think I reach the GPS! So, if anyone has been meaning to make a contribution to Hazon, the Jewish environmental education and advocacy organization, in support of its goals and/or our Labor Day two-day 160 mile ride, please feel free to click the link on the right sidebar.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Drinking The Air

The temperatures are expected to top out at around 98 degrees here today and the humidity is so high that you can just about drink the air (if it were cleaner!)which is expected to make the "heat-index" rise to between 103 and 105. I actually love the heat and don't have much of a problem cycling in it, but decided that caution was the better part of valor today and knew I would not attempt to get to Valley Forge and back or some such 50 mile journey. Too bad, my legs felt incredibly strong this morning, probably due to not having ridden yesterday. So I did, without trying or being conscious of it, ride at a higher cadence/mph. I only rode 21.8 miles out to Manayunk and a bit beyond. I took the tow-path all the way to its end at Nixon and River Road just for something different. Not a great idea. the Fuji handled it ok, but I felt like I was rattling the whole way, could only go about 8 mph and kept expecting a flat. When I reached River Road I turned up Shawmount and returned through Manayunk via the streets. Much better, although traffic in Manayunk was so bad that I did dip back onto the tow path for a few blocks.

Obviously, my bike is back from being tuned yesterday. I also had them add front and rear fenders and a rack on the back. So today I stopped at Zoom in Manayunk on the way back and purchased a nice single pannier for the rack. I like it. I can dispense with the handle bar bag that I've never loved, and have much more room for books, papers etc. allowing for more efficient use for work days. And I didn't find the extra weight a factor.

Swung by the barber for a haircut and the library to pick up a book on hold. Despite not being consciously affected by the heat, I did drink the entire Camelback that normally lasts me close to the 50 miles I travel on Wednesday's.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Between The Rain Drops

It is going to be one of those weeks: showers and thunder showers are predicted for much of the week amid the hot and humid weather. We were able to ride this morning and it was clear from the streets that it had rained heavily overnight and it began raining heavily again just as we pulled up to the house at the end of our ride. But in between we had a good loop or 13.2 miles. Annie rode strong, though she says she is still a little nervous on the bike after last weeks fall. Hopefully, we will get enough practice in that this will pass before our first big ride later this month - the Lancaster Covered Bridges Metric Century on Sunday August 19th. That, in turn, is our tune-up for the Labor Day Hazon ride. Early medical appointments will preclude tomorrow's ride (although I may be able to get out alone either very early or later in the day; we'll see.)And then Annie goes to New Jersey on Wednesday. So I am using the hiatus to bring her bike in for a tune-up. We need it before the big rides and she especially needs it after the fall. I'm hoping to bring both bikes in, get mine done first and pick it up tomorrow night so that I can ride on Wednesday and then pick hers up late Wednesday so it is ready for her on Thursday.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Getting Back The Rhythm

Annie and I were up and out by 6 A.M. which was actually slightly later than a regular weekday morning, but early enough for a Sunday. Unfortunately I have to work on this beautiful Sunday morning; weddings must go on. And anyway, Yoshi and Josi are here from California and Tamar is coming down with the baby, so it is going to be a busy family day after I finish the wedding. So we were up for an early ride and managed to do the loop twice for 20.8 miles despite the growing crowd of Sunday morning walkers and runners and bikers as we came around the second time and despite the Triathlon that was getting under way on the West River Drive. We missed it's beginning and were able to ride unencumbered in the road. The temperature was perfect and the humidity well down. The extra loop, I think, helped get Annie close to being back to the excellent rhythm she was riding in last Sunday before she went down. She is still a bit sore in the ribs and thumb, but looked much stronger today.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

New Blogs To Share

An uncharacteristic Saturday night posting, though I did not ride today. I wanted to point your attention to a group of new blogs that I've added to the Favorite Blogs list on the sidebar. Each of these came to my attention from the list on the Purple Pig that I mentioned last time. By surfing through many of Alberto's favorites I came across these that I really enjoyed. First, of course, is The Purple Pig itself. Then I found Crazy Biker Chick, which I really enjoyed, Then came The story of a bike and a stubborn cyclist and The DrCodfish Chronicles all really enjoyable and well done blogs on different aspects of the pastime. Finally I just loved The Old Bag, a wonderful, witty blogger. All of these have been added to the sidebar and I invite you to check them out.

The best part of surfing the blogs is learning things you don't know. While I enjoyed all of these, it was reading The DrCodfish Chronicles that brought my attention to Randonneur-ing, or long-distance, non-competitive cycling. There is a national Randonneur Association as well as local ones and they sponsor a series of events called Brevets, unsupported long-distance rides of differing lengths. I am just learning from the various web pages what this is all about, but this may be a new and exciting direction for me to take in the future.If you're interested here's a final link for tonight: the Randonneur USA site.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Annie's Back

Slightly tentative and with some trouble using the left shifter with her still strained thumb, Annie was back on the bike this morning. It was good to have her out on the loop again. We had an uneventful ride of 13.1 miles.

Received a very nice comment on the July 29th Post "Our First BCP Connected Ride - A Blast" from Alberto, I believe from Spain, who authors The Purple Pig blog Check it out

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Recovery Ride

Luckily I had a great massage scheduled for last night, so the effects of my 50 mile ride were quickly dispatched with. Yet, my legs felt rather tired this morning as I rode my loop alone again. It is also getting very warm out there. Managed the usual 13.4 miles without much else to report. The extra few tenths of a mile due to having to double back to the Chestnut St access ramp because the Locust Street access was blocked by a train.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

An Auspicious August Opening

Annie is getting closer to being able to ride again; perhaps tomorrow. Too bad that she was home on a Wednesday since our kids are away on vacation and she didn't go to be with our granddaughter and yet we couldn't go for a ride together. That being the case, I left the house at 9 A.M. and didn't return until about 1:30, 50 miles later after a ride out to Valley Forge. I haven't done this ride in awhile so it felt really good and it was a perfect day for a ride. It is getting hotter, but so far the humidity is under control (watch out for tomorrow!)and I was home before the really intense heat of the day. I did, as usual on a 50 mile ride, fully drain my 70 oz. Camelback and stopped to buy water from a guy who sells it on the side of the road at Kelly drive. Though I was almost home, I needed it. I drained one .5 liter bottle and then another. This first picture is at Valley Forge, the view of the lovely shady tree I chose to rest beneath in the picnic area. The cyclist is not me.

The next photo is the view of my new yellow riding socks, just for fun, as I sat on a bench looking through the trees at the Schuylkill not far from home, but I needed another rest stop because my feet hurt from pedaling. This is a problem I'm trying to solve. I usually ride 25-30 miles without a problem, but then I get pain, probably nerve pain, in my toes. If I stop for 5 minutes it goes away, but comes back more and more quickly as I ride. Next stop 20 miles, then 15 then 5, etc. It is caused by the (mis)shape of my toes and I'm working with the podiatrist to see if it can be improved. It's not fun, but doesn't stand in my way.

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