White Rabbit

June 1, 2016 § Leave a comment

The clock was ticking. I was finishing up some work when I saw 5 o’clock slip by. “No problem” I thought. I can still get home with plenty of time to change and catch the Tuesday Night Hustle ride. Then it was 5:15 and I knew I was running out of time. Had to wrap things up and get out of there. As my machine was shutting down, I realized I hadn’t taken care of my time sheet, and today was submission day as well. No problem, as I could handle it all using a phone app. With that taken care of I was out the door and in my truck. However there was HUGE problem when I got out to Industrial Way. Traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see West with east-bound traffic (my direction), and not only that, but the west-bound lane was backed up as well! Quick thinking and I realized I had to go West first, then loop around North and around, and actually catch 35 South to West Park Avenue where I can double back East and North to get home. While that did work for me, there were many areas where traffic was just a pain in the ass thick.

Fortunately, my dog walker girl texted me that the dogs had been out and both had taken care of business, so all I needed to do was get in, dress, grab some water, shoe up, grab the bike and go. Which, is pretty much how it played out, and I rolled to the front of The Red Bicycle in Red Bank with just enough time to say hello, and introduce myself to some new people I hadn’t met before. “Are you guys hammers or nails? Will you be driving the train, or attacking out the back? Do you apply the Shellac, or do you get Shellacked?” Derrick the destroyer was there, and so was Louie Louie Louie . I had no plans for the ride other than to see how it plays out, and try to hang. Derrick would rip my legs off eventually, but until that happened, I could play my part.

We rolled out easy. Red Bank 6 PM is Red Bank rush hour, and the traffic is thick west bound on Front Street.I was leading, and maybe perhaps took advantage of some tight squeezes, but I didn’t run any lights. I was simply peddling along and I knew there was no one with me. I wasn’t pushing it, but I wasn’t waiting either. I was only one person, and once they grouped up on the bridge, they would catch me. I simply rolled along to the traditional start, and I thought “Hey, why not make them catch me?”, and so I started working hard. At first I was simply looking back every once in a while, and I wasn’t looking hard or far. Just put my head down and pushed a 90 inch gear as fast as I could. Pretty soon I was on the Nutswamp hill after Normandy Road, and I still didn’t see anyone behind me. I caught the light at Middletown-Lincroft Road, and dropped it to a 104 inch gear and hammered down the slope to Sunnyside. I still had a lot of game, and there was no one in sight. Sunnyside starts pretty flat, but then has a false flat kind of rise over the next 3/4 of mile until Crawford’s Corner/Everett  Road. Again, I was still clear, so I made the right and kept the pressure on. If I could make the lights at American, and Red Hill / Middletown Road, then I could keep my momentum, and maybe those guys would get unlucky.

I caught both greens, and had some great momentum going still. Crawford’s is a great rolling roadway, and the wind wasn’t terribly bad today. However the meaty part of the ride was coming up. Holmdel Road is the first real climb of the ride, and I had been pushing hard, so I wasn’t sure how well I could hold my momentum. Holmdel road is a double ramp with a little recovery break in the middle. If I could push that, I would have time to recover on the downhill side. Up and over fairly strong, and down the other side I hammered away. Again, luck was on my side as there was no opposing traffic, so I was able to left turn onto Hillcrest at speed. Hillcrest has brand new pavement, and is downhill all the way to South Beers Street where I usually meet my maker on this ride. South Beers has a rise that then eases, but is still has 300 yards of up ramp before you can recover. This is where Derrick the Destroyer usually looks back, unsheathes his dagger, and rips open my guts creating a smorgasbord for local carrion. Today? Different story. Still no one behind me.

By the time I made it to Van Brackle I was really suffering. I hadn’t taken a single sip of water, and I was spitting basketball sized cotton swabs out of my mouth, and breathing very heavily. My heart rate must have been 170 for the last 40 minutes solid. I had to drop to the small chain ring to get up this ramp, but as soon as I crested the top where it eased, I slammed it back onto the big ring and picked up speed again. I swung onto Holmdel Road south, and pushed a decent cadence up that long ramp and went over the top with good speed. Now I had a mile of downhill to recover again. If the light at Roberts favored me, then I stood a great chance of staying away. Unfortunately the light changed. I had to wait before it was safe to proceed which was about a full light change, but I was still alone, so hammer away again I did. Roberts starts with a nice downhill, and provides enough ramp to make the hill on the other side. This is followed by another down-up and you can power all the way back to Crawford’s Corner.

This was going to be the key to success. This section was the longest piece of exposed roadway, and if I could get through that section without them seeing me, then I had them. If they saw me, then that would be just enough inspiration to give them new wind. As it turns out, they saw me, but I didn’t know that yet. I hit Crawford’s Corner, and again that road is a great rolling power road, so I powered along as best I could. A right onto Middletown Road, and I could push a big gear on this road. It begins was a favorable slope, to American where there is a little ramp that you can power up, and then you have power roadway for the next mile. The only issue is narrowness, and uneven surface, but traffic was light, and I was able to power all the way to McCampbell.

McCampbell has a slight rise to it, which at this point in the ride, I am an hour on the rivet, and feeling it. I can’t look back, so I put everything in, and hope the downhill will give me something. I know they must be getting closer, and I am pretty sure that they haven’t taken a break, so they have to be going all out to catch me. I reached the stop sign at Crawfords, and had to wait for a couple of cars and just as I was about to move, Derrick the Destroyer pulls up and looks completely gassed. I pushed out into the street, clipped in, and new I could pull away while they gasped air. Two others rode up as I clipped in, but they too didn’t get an immediate start. I simply pushed my gearing and made it back to Sunnyside and turned right onto this lovely down favoring slope. I knew I could hammer this and stay away till Middletown-Lincroft at least.

At ML, my luck ran out a little, as I had to slow enough to wait for the road to clear, and I wasn’t gifted with any cars to delay my chasers, however I still had a lead, and somewhere I dug deep and found some new strength for the long power climb back to Nutswamp. I thought for sure I would get re-caught here, but soon the top was in sight and I was still hammering along. I was pretty gassed going over the top, and recovery didn’t hit me immediately, but it wasn’t until I reached Normandy Road, that Derrick, Tom, and Brian(?) went past me. I dug again and jumped on the back, Brian might have been driving, and handed off to Derrick. Derrick put in a huge pull and handed off to Tom (?) who himself was simply hanging on, and the pace slowed. I thought I was feeling recovered, and when Tom pulled off, I took a pull, but this was a mistake, because when I pulled off, I had nothing left to get back on, and that was it for me.

Derrick the Destroyer eventually established a gap and finished off the ride in first place. Tom, Brian or Brian, Tom and then myself brought up the next finishing places, and we rolled back into Red Bank together. “How did you like that for something different?” I shouted out when we stopped for a light at Hubbard and Front St. “A Rabbit! I like it!” Derrick responded enthusiastically. “That was a lot of fun!”.

We rolled back to the Red Bicycle and awaited the stragglers. Louie Louie Louie finally rolled in with a giant smile on his face. “That was awesome! I am hooked now and will be back next week!”

I may have started something that I can’t ever live up to again, but for about 70 minutes tonight I was on top of the world.

Pushing My Luck – I was an Idiot Though

May 20, 2016 § Leave a comment

Suddenly the truck lost power. I could feel the change in the accelerator pedal immediately and glancing at the dashboard display revealed my worst nightmare. The gas tank was empty and my gamble had failed. Just 3 minutes earlier I was in the queue at a Sunoco Station in the Service Plaza just prior to Exit 7A of the NJ Turnpike. The queue was long, and my gauge didn’t look like it was that empty. I knew from familiarity of the area that Exit 8 on I 195 has a Valero Station and that is less than 4 total miles from where I was currently detained in the queue. Why don’t I take a chance? In addition it had been a pretty lucky weekend overall. We had planned a 2 night 3 day backpacking trip into Tuscarora State Forest, and the 10 day forecast all week looked dismal. However it started to brighten on Thursday, and as it turned out, the rain stopped not long after we parked our vehicles in the hiking lot at Colonel Denning State Park. What luck! Furthermore, it only improved as the day progressed. The sun started to make appearances, and we had a clear sky all night. We watched the moon traverse a large arc in the heavens. Saturday started out as great as anyone could hope. Sunny and warm. Rain did eventually arrive, but tarps we possessed and deployed them we did, and after two fronts moved through we were good for the night.

So after all that good luck, why shouldn’t I try to make it 4 more miles? Off I went, and now the Tundra was losing speed on the ramp incline just shy of the toll plaza. I engaged the emergency blinkers, and pulled out of the travel lane. It wasn’t completely hopeless, as my insurance has coverage for just this sort of emergency, but what did the tow truck driver say to me the last time I used his service? “95% of my service calls are because people ignore their low gas warning and then ran out of gas. What idiots!”. Now I was one of those idiots! Or was I? I could simply pick up the phone and dial, or I could wait a moment, and simply turn the key. What is the worst that could happen? It doesn’t start? Well, it wasn’t currently running, so that doesn’t really change my status. But it could start. So, I turned the key, and it started! Now I just had to see how far I could get this time. I may not even make it to the top of the ramp, but then again, I might if I could just get some speed built up. I threw it into gear and eased my foot onto the accelerator and  sure enough, I moved faster and faster and over the top of the hump. I let off the gas and coasted through the toll machine with “EZ Pass Paid” displayed and I kept rolling right on through to the entrance ramp for I 195 East “Shore Points”. I took a chance and depressed the pedal a little more and I picked up more speed. I had one more initial hump in the overpass over the Turnpike. I cleared that easily, and then the exit sign for Allentown (Exit 7) came quickly. I didn’t want that one, because there are no services on that road, and it would be a longer distance to the Valero. So I pushed my luck further and on to Exit 8. Exit 8 has a long swirling ramp that ends at stop light where most vehicles make a left turn. Fortunately for me that queue was short and it didn’t block the right turn I could make onto 539 South and to the Valero Station which was right there. I had made it!

The truck owner’s manual lists the tank at 25 gallons and change. How much change? Well the Gauge on the pump indicated I put 26.34 gallons into the tank. That is the most ever! Whew!

NJ AT Hike #6

December 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

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Frosted weeds

“Who ever decided on extending this hike to 17A, Fuck You!” Andy was a little grumpy, and he had turned a patch of exposed pink granite gneiss into a Tempurpedic mattress for a short rest, but he was still moving, and in the end he was going to make it.

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NJ AT Hike #5

November 8, 2015 § 1 Comment

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Morning on the Wallkill Wildlife Refuge

It’s funny thing about trail systems. It doesn’t really matter what size the system is. We could be talking about your favorite local trail, for example The Grand Tour in Hartshorne Park here in Monmouth county. At some point in time, the trail requires a re-route. There are reasons for these changes; Some times it is to allow a used section of the trail to recover and regenerate. Where the area is large, say for example Harriman State Park in NY, trails can be moved fairly often so that no one section gets too abused. In the case of the AT there are many sections where private land is involved, and the land owner changes their mind, or the land changes hands and the new owners refuse to allow the right-of-way to continue. When this happens enough, new maps get issued.

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Thor The Destroyer

August 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

I could tell already what kind of Hustle Ride it was going to be. Me, I was already aching and quaking from a 14 mile AT hike along the NJ NY border from High Point State Park to Wallkill River Wildlife Refuge. As I seem to do on all of those AT hikes is I forget to start off with Ibuprofen and continue an Ibuprofen regimen throughout the day. I know I would ache a lot less on Tuesday if I did.

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The Tuesday Night Hustle – Some New and Some Returning Faces

July 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

I got home early today. This week is VIP week at Fort Dix and I figured I would be tied up all day every day, but so far, this week is easier than the last two weeks! Once the VIPs come through, we can close up shop, and so we did and I was home by 4 o’clock. I have to admit, that today was pretty damn hot, and the humidity stuck to me like a wet drape. I wasn’t sure I was in the mood to go out into that mess and hammer for an hour.

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Stung! The Tuesday Night Hustle Rides Again

July 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

Sometimes it is amazing what you can get when you cry Waa Waa like a baby and call out to your friends “Why won’t you come out and play with meeeeee?” Tonight was the first Tuesday Night Hustle after last weeks rant, and I was both surprised and relieved to see a larger turnout. In addition to Doug and myself, we started out with Maxipad and Jack who rode in with Dougie. Tony managed to make it out tonight and in spite of his already ridden that morning! We got Grant back out again, but he was recovering from an infection for which antibiotics were prescribed. Finally we had a new person show up who had just heard about the ride. Mike from Atlantic Highlands. I had never seen him before, but he was riding a nice bike. I did point out we would warm-up out to Sea Bright and then turn the gas on.

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