Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Griggstown Grind : 25.08.2009

The evenings are drawing in already, and that means an end to this season's Griggstown Grind.

The PFW Griggstown Grind is a regular Tuesday evening ride around the hills surrounding Belle Mead, NJ. More often or not we venture into the Sourlands or the hills bordering Rocky Hill.

Just tough enough ...

Thanks to Diane for getting it together every week in the summer.

Maybe there'll be something completely different for regulars in the fall ...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Winter Drawers On ...

Well, it will all too soon be autumn, or the more prosaic, fall, that season of mellow fruitfulness. And even now the evenings draw in to the point where evening rides are cut short by sunset before 8.00pm/20.00hrs.

The eastern seaboard of the US lacks western Europe's more northern latitude and double summer time which means late summer rides can run way past 9.00pm/21.00hrs.

So we're already looking at lighting and conspicuity aids just to see and be seen on NJ roads.

During the spring and summer I use a red Knog Frog wrapped around my seatpost. It's tiny, it's light and it has cool. Most of all it gives a decent rear light when under tree cover and in those last few minutes riding home as daylight fails.

Recently I've also taken to using a Blackburn Flea front light to give some degree of conspicuity from the front ... not that that is a guaranteed effect here in NJ ... But it's very bright and charges from a USB port ... neat *.

Lately, it's been a bit too dark for the Knog Frog so I've dug out my Blackburn Mars 3.0 which casts a PTSD inducing strobe to the rear of the bike. Just how any driver could miss this blitz is beyond me. I trust this will remain to be the case ...

Finally, for a reasonably priced light which causes car drivers coming the other way to flash you hoping you're going to dip your headlight, I use a MTE SSC P7-C on my handlebars with two available for off-road trails - guaranteed to fry any chipmunks which get in the beam.

The lights are clamped to the handlebars using Fenix Bike Flashlight Mounts for regular diameter bars.

UseTwoFish Lock-Blocks for larger diameter handlebars.

* RTFMS!!! The Blackburn Flea:
How many people have bought this device and found that it will only work for about 10 seconds? Okay ... maybe it's only me who is stoopid. However, when you buy a Flea it is set in demonstration mode. To activate, keep the ON switch pressed until the light goes out - about 10 seconds - then the unit will work properly. Simple, huh?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's Sunday ... It must be Cranbury

Check out this morning's club ride from Cranbury, NJ, though the delights of the central New Jersey countryside - plus a slight detour.

Thanks to Cliff who led the ride and the rest ... they know who they are ...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Griggstown Grind : 18.08.2009

It seems rare this year that we can actually ride the Griggstown Grinder without it raining or being washed out from the start. Well, this Tuesday's ride stayed dry and with one of the biggest turnouts of the year.

There were three major climbs; Coppermine Road, Herrontown Road and Cherry Hill Road.

Next week; season finale.

Thanks to Diane, ride leader.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More Stuff : Shimano Carbon Tubeless Wheelset

They say an ounce off your wheels is worth a pound off your bike.

My Giant OCR c2 came with an adequate wheelset; Mavic Aksiums. But it was a revelation when I had a chance to try a set of Shimano carbon wheels. So come my birthday - thank you Linda - I was lucky enough to get a set of the latest Shimano Dura Ace tubeless carbon wheels.

I've combined them with Hutchinson Intensive tubeless tyres and very nice they are too.

In a nutshell, this combination makes for a very smooth, responsive ride. Road vibration/shock is noticeably less and the wheels seem to accelerate with the least effort. They put your cycling ability up a grade.

Of course, there may be problems. The tyres seem durable and are treated with sealant, but I've yet to see what happens in the event of a puncture. Hopefully I'll never find out, but this is the real world ...

More later ...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stuff : Garmin 605

Over the past few months I've been able to make a number of nice upgrades/improvements which have helped me enjoy cycling more and more.

One of the problems I had here was going out on club rides, going to really pretty and interesting places and then, when Linda asked if I had a nice time, I would invariably say yes, and how beautiful it was and how New Jersey is quite nice really, and then Linda would say, " ... and where did you go?" ...

No idea.

Now, a very few years ago, if anyone had said that we would be using Global Positioning System devices on our bicycles, I might have said, "Oh, really???", in a state of incredulity. Like, who needs that?

Nevertheless, that day is here and it's turned out to be a good one for my cycling.

I chose the Garmin 605. There is a more sophisticated version, the Garmin 705, with heart-rate monitor, cadence and a couple of other facilities, but I really didn't want the training aids. As long as I can eventually get up a hill and cycle 60+ miles at a stretch I'm just glad to be alive. I'm not aiming to get a medal at London 2012.

I use the Garmin on two tasks; to record individual bike rides and to plan and way-mark new routes.

I use a website called to record and plan routes, either by uploading completed journeys or compiling new journeys and downloading route data to the Garmin and using it to give directions en route.

There are a number of settings which enable you to view various information such as speed, trip, duration, etc, as well as display a map of where you are. If using the Garmin as a route planner, it gives directions - Turn right onto ThisOrThat Road in 200ft - as well as a highlighted map. And I've only recently noticed this, but the screen automatically zooms according to how much detail the route requires; a five mile stretch to the next route node and you see 5 miles of road on the screen. Approaching a complicated series of turns and the screen zooms in ... neat.

All in all it's a great addition to the enjoyment of cycling for me.

Just one gripe; it seems rather mean of Garmin to expect people who buy a $500+ device to cough up another $100 or so for the detailed North American road map - plus $100/year updates!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Griggstown Grind : 11.08.2009

Just what is it about Tuesday evenings this year?

I suppose distance lends enchantment but I don't recall last year being so full of torrential rainstorms and thunder and lightning.

At least, we set off on this week's Grind without the expectation of bad weather. I had checked and the forecast predicted trouble by 10.00pm, a good hour or two after our usual finish.

It was back into the Sourlands after the usual sprint along Skillman Road.

The first climb is north along Hollow Road. Hollow Road curves up alongside the Rock Brook almost like a Devon country lane, although wide enough for two cars ... they don't know what a narrow road is here. The climb seems moderate enough although with a slight kick a few hundred yards before the junction with Long Hill Road.

Once again the climb towards Lindbergh Hill is easy enough, but by now I've done enough around the Sourlands to know that it will save the best until last, and it does, a final steep section just before the undulating descent along Lindbergh Road towards Ridge Road.

The ride along Ridge Road, crossing the Rileyville Road into Mountain Road makes you realise that in actual fact, New Jersey isn't just the land of The Sopranos and chemical works, but contains many miles of very attractive countryside for cyclists. Bowling along a woodland road doesn't come much better than this.

The problem is with speeding through the woods, is that you don't see the weather moving in, so by the time we'd swooped down Linvale to the Wertsville Road the first drops of rain had crept up on us.

After a hurried meeting in the rain at the bottom of Rileyville Road, we decided it was just as quick to carry on with the original route and press on to the top and return along Ridge back onto Lindbergh and after the obligatory final steep kick a glorious swoop down Long Hill which never surprises me and then down Hollow, which always does.

It always seems the ascent of Hollow is steady enough, but not really taxing, yet the descent seems steeper and longer than the climb. But the sensation sweeping down that valley at 30mph more than repays the effort of getting to the top in the first place.

Well, we made it back without getting too wet. Thanks to Jeff, Steve, Beth, Dave, and special thanks to Diane who compiles and leads these rides every Tuesday evening throughout the summer.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Poor neglected PhonoStage

Hmmm ... six months without a post. I really should try harder.

However, I have started posting more regularly on my cycling blog;

Not much development with the hifi situation either, although I probably have enough stuff collected for a bijou cd/lp/digital playback setup.

Maybe I should start about getting it all together.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Round Valley Lake : 54 miles : 3.08.2009

Well, last Tuesday's Griggstown Grind was a washout. Sunday was a precursor for The Great Flood. But today ... it's lovely. So I headed for Round Valley Lake.

You can see the route here:

Read the notes because there were one or two unpleasant sections - which can be avoided - but didn't spoil a great ride.

I had a blowout again. Fortunately, it was within 10 miles of home. I was drifting down Long Hill Road, towards Hollow Road when I ran through some chunky gravel which had washed out of someone's drive - I assume in yesterday's downpour.

I must have clipped a large piece which flicked out the side of the front wheel. There was a simultaneous bang and the front tyre deflated. Again, fortunately, I was able to stay in a straight line and brought the bike to a reasonably safe stop in the middle of the road.

On checking the tyre the sidewall had been torn, I assume by the stone, causing the tyre to blow.

The problem wasn't so much the puncture - I carry tubes, CO2, etc - but the tyre casing which had a big hole in it.

Okay, here's the Tip for the Day. I folded a $5 dollar bill and fitted it behind the hole in the tyre before inflating the new tube. Hey presto!!! It works. I dare say a £5.00 note or €10 bill would work too. Well, it got me home anyway.

*yes ... I know how to spell tyre!