Thursday, July 31, 2008

So ... farewell then, Trek 1200

You know? I love this bike ... but time moves on and I had the opportunity to get a new bike.

However, this is a good bike. One of the best I have owned. Of course, the frame and forks are way better than the components. Overall though, it wasn't a bad mix.

Anyway, today, I bought a replacement. More on that later.

But for now ... it's farewell to my old Trek 1200.

Like I said. Time moves on.

See the ad here on Craig's List.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

NYC Waterfalls

I took some time out last week and popped down to New York to take a look at The New York City Waterfalls.

Well, it was interesting, although I guess some of the power of the installations was dissipated by our few days at Niagara Falls.

Nevertheless, the view of a waterfall thundering from under the Brooklyn Bridge was intriguing and curiously unsettling, although for me the technical aspect of how it was done occupied me more than the artistic quality of the work.

Incidently, the journey back to Princeton on NJT was a nightmare. The train was absolutely packed ... every seat filled and people jammed in the aisles. Is the price of petrol/gas here really having an effect on people's travel options?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Griggstown Grind

For the last few weeks my regular weekly ride has been the "Griggstown Grind" in and around the rather nice lanes and byways of the Sourlands Mountains of New Jersey.

A cyclist could do far worse than end up in central New Jersey. It's much more attractive than you might think.

Now these are mountains in the British style, ie; more like the Mendips than the Alps. But the valleys and creeks are very pretty indeed.

So, each Tuesday evening we meet up. About half-a-dozen regular riders - Diane, Steve, Beth, Marilyn - plus whoever else turns up head out for a 90 minute route over the numerous, but not too difficult hills.

It's encouraging the difference a few weeks make ... Okay, they're still quite hard, but now, by the time I'm thinking, "This is quite hard", we're already at the top. So the lesson is, stick with it.

At the same time this is quite a relaxed trip for anyone who wants to try it. Everyone is happy to either wait for or pace newbies up the hills, and have a little chat afterwards.

Special thanks to Diane who leads this ride each week.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Frenchtown : 19.07.2008

As I mentioned in my previous article, on Saturday I spent a very pleasant day - although at times I really did begin to wonder - cycling through some of the prettiest scenery New Jersey has to offer.

Now, back in the UK NJ has been referred to as The Essex of North America - Brits will know what I mean. But given how delightful the Delaware river countryside is, it's a bit unfair.

A baker's dozen assembled by the Delaware at Frenchtown, NJ in temperatures which were pretty warm to start with, but were to soar later in the day.

Our main aim was Merrill Creek Reservoir, a 650 acre / 264 hectare lake used to maintain the flow of the Delaware during periods of heavy utilisation.

There's a nice visitors' centre by the lake with good bird and wildlife lists and even a couple of decent telescopes for visitors to observe the impressive raptors.

I didn't see any exceptional big birds, but did spot a couple of hummers feeding in the bushes.

After resting our legs and replenishing our water-bottles, it was back in the saddle and heading for the general store at Bloomsbury where we chugged gallons of water and various allegedly healthy energy drinks, before heading back to Frenchtown.

All in all, this amounted to close on 60 miles of very hilly cycling. And hills weren't the only hazard. The bridge at Javes Road was out for big-time maintenance. No-one really fancied the detour so we ended up fording the river.

Thanks to my compadres, none of whom complained about the Brit hanging off the back towards the end.

If you want to read a fuller account please try Tom's Bike Adventures. For another rider's blog try Laura's PerpetualHeadwinds. I took the liberty of pinching a couple of pictures from these blogs, so thanks to Tom and Laura.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Twin Lights Ride : 28.09.2008

Well, having survived this year's 5Boro Bike Tour, I'm now entered for another Bike New York event, the Twin Lights Ride, the 75 mile course ...

Whether that is wise after my bike ride yesterday, 60 hilly miles around Frenchtown, NJ, with Princeton FreeWheelers, is another matter. 15 miles hanging off the back wasn't auspicious.

However, it was very hilly ... and very, very hot. Close to 38c/100F. Oh yes!!!

I have somewhat more confidence of attempting the Twin Lights since it should be rather cooler and a good deal flatter.
Okay ... maybe not flatter ...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Panama Hat

In my journey towards fogeydom I have long cherished the ambition to own a Panama Hat.

I don't know why. I have no ambition to look like Harry S. Truman or Doctor Who - DH7 - for that matter. Nor even a secret hankering to look like I'm on my way to a Crown Green Bowls match in my Honda Civic ...

So, the other day, I was idly browsing through eBay when I saw an offer of Panama hats direct from the makers in Ecuador - yes, who knew? Panama hats are from Ecuador.

After a little wait - it is a handmade, virtually to order item after all - during which I was regularly kept up-to-date by the vendor, a hat box with an Ecuadorian postmark turned up in the mail.

To say I couldn't be more delighted would be an understatement. I bought a fairly basic model, but if this is entry level, then the higher grades must be fantastic.

You can see for yourself at where you can watch videos of hats being made and prepared. The vendors seem to have a good relationship with the makers so I'm hopeful that everyone gets a fair deal.

I highly recommend this site.

Monday, July 14, 2008

NMBS : Windham Mountain

I went and did something I haven't done for years ... spent a couple of nights under canvas at the East Coast Round of the US National Mountain Bike Series at Windham Mountain, NY.

Taking place just a few days before the national championships at Mt Snow, VT, it seemed a good time for riders to either show their hand ... or perhaps just keep a straight face.

Anyway, the cross-country course was a fairly typical, although rather short alpine type affair. That is, a rather savage climb up the side of the mountain, followed by a mile or two following the contours, then a white-knuckle descent.

Stand out athlete was Georgia Gould, a US pick for the Olympics, and who is to say, given the margin of her victory here, isn't on track for gold.

Conversely, the men saw their Olympic hopes beaten on the line by Canadian Mathieu Toulouse. Whether the US guys thought they'd get maximum points anyway and weren't going to exert themselves before the Olympics I don't know, but I think it was a bit of a shock for them.

The downhill course was heroic. The main problem being that the best bits were towards the top of the mountain so only the hardiest spectators made it up that far.

For results click here.

I've also posted a collection of images here. Please feel free to use them for your blog or club magazine. For commercial use, please contact me.

Monday, July 07, 2008

TdF on TV

Thank goodness for Versus TV.

Imagine this ... at least three hours of le Tour live every day, plus an extensive repeat in the evening ...

Better than the UK I suspect.

And if you can't get VS on cable/satellite you can still watch online.

Cool, huh?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Stuff : 04.07.2008

Well, I've done a few miles over the last ten days or so; maybe 100.

Not much to report, although my legs did ache on my last ride. However, my average ride is now between 30 and 40 miles at what Princeton FreeWheelers calls C+ pace.

We got caught up by a B pace group on the last ride. After the initial rush as they caught up it wasn't too difficult to keep with them, but I think it will be a while before I try a ride with a B group.

What did surprise me was how cautious even B group riders are on downhills. Now I'm no demon descender, but I was faster than most. Bearing in mind that I'm considered pretty cautious myself back in the UK, I'm going to say that the lack of many good downhills here means that riders do not get enough practice.

I don't have another ride scheduled for the next few days. I'll give those legs a rest.

Steam Radio ...

Whatever happened to old-fashioned radio?

Of course, it's still around. Small boys still listen to short-wave under the bed clothes ... don't they?

For me, one of the biggest developments on the web in the last couple of years has been internet radio. This is especially true since the introduction of stand-alone, wifi devices such as the Noxon iRadio and Sangean WFR-20.

I mean, listening to BBC Radio5 in real time in New Jersey, USA, let alone any of the other 14,000 or so stations around the world. How neat is that?

The interesting question is, what's happening to real radio?

There are now a number of ways of listening to radio other than over the analogue airwaves; in N America, satellite radio; Europe, DAB - Digital Audio Broadcast; via cable/satellite on your TV and via the internet.

The main problem for these new methods of delivery seems to be quality. Currently, it seems that nothing compares to a BBC Radio3, over-the-air, FM broadcast.

Contrary to DAB/satellite claims of cd quality, bitrates are far below those found on cd. In fact, many internet stations are starting to surpass DAB stations. In addition, other means of cramming stations onto limited bandwidth means that compression technology is impinging on quality and dynamic range.

For me, internet radio seems to be the way to go. There are problems, particularly if you're mobile. In-car internet radio seems a way off yet, although I see that people are already using European unlimited 3G access via an appropriate mobile device to achieve this end.

However, quality and access is rapidly developing.

I like it.

*See my hifi / media index here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Le Tour : 2008

Yes, it's here again ... the greatest annual sporting event in the world.

Yes ... the world!!!

Of course, you could check the stats on Wikipedia, or any other source if you wish, but Le Tour de France is a sporting event sans pareil.

It has all the elements of a day-time soap, plus sporting endeavour, heroics, self-sacrifice ... and the added spice, alleged doping involvement.

I have been fortunate to have joined the thronging crowds along the route of the TdF; waited on a mountain-side while the approaching helicopters fanfare the arrival of a breakaway chased by the peloton; felt the physical and metaphysical rush at a sprint finish; and spent a day with the tifosi, cheering ITT riders through the Normandy countryside.

Nothing else compares ...
Tour de France : 05.07 - 27.07.2008