Monday, December 31, 2007

The Langster's Last Ride of 2007

It was sunny and above freezing today so I decided to take a bike ride. By the time I got my clothes on and checked the pressure in my tires it was around 10:30 AM. The temperature was in the mid 30s. Originally I was only going to go out for 20 miles but as soon as I got over the Holland - Telegraph Hill Ridge I decided I would go further. The only decision was how far should I go.

The sun was shining and I was feeling good so once I got to Colts Neck I decided I would head over to Rumson and Sea Bright. I figured the ride would be around 45 miles maybe more. The traffic was good since I think most people took today off from work. It was the usual route through Holmdel, Marlboro, Colts Neck, Shrewsbury and Little Silver. I took RT 520 through Rumson and I turned off on Ward Ave and started to make the trip back home.

As I was getting closer to Oceanic Bridge I realised that one of my goals for the year was to ride Navesink River Road from the Oceanic Bridge back to Rt 35. I rode Navesink River Road on the maiden voyage of the Langster from RT 35 to the Oceanic. For some reason I had in my mind that the reverse would be much harder.

The wind was pretty strong today. I had felt the head wind at several points on the ride but once I turned to make the return trip I really felt it. Crossing the Oceanic Bridge was a challenge. I usually ignore the sign at the drawbridge telling me to walk my bike across the steel mesh decking but today I decided it was not worth the risk of be blown over and slipping on the roadway. Even on the paved/concrete part of the bridge I was had to fight not to get pushed into the traffic coming up behind me.

The real challenge of riding Navesink River Road back to RT 35 is that the off ramp of the Oceanic Bridge has a slight grade up with a stop sign where it meets Navesink River Road. Once the left hand turn is made onto Navesink River Road it immediately starts a long steep climb. There is no opportunity to get some momentum going. There is also a switch back that creates a blind spot for the cars coming from behind (I was a little worried since the shoulder is very narrow does not allow any place to bail). While this was the climb I was worried about most it actually turned out to kind of fun. The bonus is that once you get to the top there is a nice down hill drop that shoots by the entrance to the Huber Woods County Park.

My favorite part of riding Navesink River Road from RT 35 is what I like to call the Jon Bon Jovi Drop. This is a really nice down hill section with several S turns that are really fun to hit if the traffic will allow me to get into the middle of the lane. Jon Bon Jovi is rumored to live somewhere on Navesink River Road.

Riding this hill from the other direction is fun but for a different reason. It is the second most challenging climb on the road. Since I really like to climb this is fun for me. Once you get to the top is another nice down hill followed by a shallow but steady climb up to RT 35.

Once I crossed RT 35 it was over the NJ Transit tracks and back to Nut Swamp Road. I have to make a detour back to my house because there is construction by Garden State Parkway Exit 114 which messes up the road the evenually turns into Laurel Ave.

I ended up riding 50 miles. Actually when I got back to my house I had 48.5 miles on the computer so I decided to do six sprints around the lake (~1/4 mile each lap).

Tomorrow I am going get a short ride in during the morning just to kick off the New Year.

Skiing Song Mountain Resort

I drove up to Syracuse, NY this past weekend to visit my parents and get some skiing in. Last year I went up on the same weekend and there was no snow but Central New York had got several inches over the past couple of weeks so I was hopeful. Unfortunately, there had been several warm days as well.

I arrived in Syracuse around 8 PM on Friday. As I was visiting with my parents it started to rain. Since my parents house is on one of the higher elevations in the area this was not good news for the skiing.

The closest ski resort to my parents' house is Song Mountain Resort in Tully, NY. It is not a huge ski resort but it is usually not crowded. Most of the people there are local to the Syracuse area and ski almost every weekend in the winter time. Lots of good skiers but everyone is friendly and there are trails for just about every ability. The ski school is also very good.

After reading the Song Mountain ski report I decided to head over the resort. I have found that the person who writes the ski report is very optomistic. When I got to the mountain I noticed that the coverage was much less than what was reported in the report. Instead of taking out my skis and getting a ticket I decided to walk up to the front of the lodge and get a better view. The first decision was to call it a day and go back to spend the rest of the day with my parents. I called my dad who convinced me to give it a try. I was going to only purchase a 4 hour ticket but and 8 hour ticket is only $3 more for a total of $39 (this is cheap compared to many other places). I was probably one of the few who purchased a ticket since I call these kind of days Season Pass days.

I had been planning on taking a lesson to work on my mogul skiing technique but the trails and snow cover would not support this. I made my first couple of runs on Bali Hai which did not seem too bad. A little icy but not bad for the first day out of the season. Unfortunately, after about the 3rd or 4th run I started to notice that a race course was being setup on Bali Hai. I took a couple more runs but it was obvious that I was going to have to try another trail if I was going to continue skiing.

I decided to give Chopsticks a try. I was a little sceptical since I had only seen a couple of people go down it. I quickly found out why. The trail was very icy. The first run down was a cautious and slow run. However, as I tell my friend "If you want to ski you have to be able to ski on ice" so I decided to try again. The second run was much better. I adjusted to the ice and I started to have fun with it. I like the sound that skis make when carving turns into an icy trail. I spent the rest of the day skiing Chopsticks. It got better as the day when by. The biggest problem was a large smooth icy patch at the bottom of the hill as the run returns to the bottom of the chair. The first time I hit it was not expect the ice and went to turn right toward the chair and my skis came out from underneath me and I ended up sliding down on my rear end.

There was some room between the chair and the race course on Bali Hai so I decided to give it a try. From the chair it looked nice and soft but when I skied it I noticed that it was really slushy crud that was pushed over from the race course. I hurt myself in January skiing in crud at Heavenly in Lake Tahoe skiing in crud so I am still a little apprehensive about skiing these kinds of conditions. In fact I prefer ice to crud.

I ended up skiing till about 2:30 PM. I had been on the slopes since 9:30 AM. I was getting tired and I decided it was time to pack it in before I got hurt.

My parents went to meet some old friends who were in from California at Riley's. I was thinking of trying to make it there but I would have had to go in my ski clothes. I ended up hanging around the house for a couple of hours. I a fell asleep watching The Replacements . We ended up going out for pizza at Twin Trees.

The original plan was to ski Sunday as well but I decided the day would be better spent with my parents so I had a casual day visiting with them. My dad and I watched the Syracuse University Orangemen beat Northeastern on TV and then I packed up my car and got on the road for the trip back to New Jersey.

I was trying to beat the snow. As much as I like skiing I do not like driving down the interstate in a snow storm. The weather was fine until I hit Scranton. It was snowing hard along I380. The merge at I380 and I80 was challenging. I was thinking of taking I80 all the way back to New Jersey but I decided it would be better to follow my usual route of taking RT 33 to I78.

I ended up getting home at about 7:30 PM. It was good weekend.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

After all the buildup Christmas finally arrived and is now over with. I think that the Christmas season is officially over once the last plate is in the dishwasher. For us it was just a quiet day with a good meal in the afternoon.

I did get a good ride in today. I rode 28 miles. It was a little on the cold side but the traffic was extremely light. In fact there were stretches of quiet that kind of reminded me of cross country skiing the long trains at Highland Forest in Central New York. Since I am fighting a cold and did not get much sleep last night I hit a wall at the 20 mile mark and it was a struggle all the way back. If I had been with a group I would have been getting dropped but I was by myself so it was all good. This time of year you have to take advantage of any riding opportunity.

Even though I am not vacation until January 2 I have a busy week planned. Wednesday is going to be my catch up day. I still have expenses from last week that need to be submitted. I need to get them in before the end of the year. I am planning a trip into New York on Thursday. I am going to try and visit TrackstarNYC. Maybe I can get some ideas for opening a similar shop in Red Bank. I am planning on going to Syracuse to visit my parents. Hopefully I can get some skiing in as well. While I will mostly likely be Alpine skiing I am getting the itch to do some Nordic skiing.

I do not have any good pictures. So I decide to go with the 1977 Schwinn Paramount Track bike. I found this on the internet. The Schwinn Paramount was my Red Ryder BB Gun. I think the Motorola Team or its predessor Seven Eleven Tean rode Paramounts. Here is a really nice picture of a road version.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Birthday Ride in December

Today is my birthday and I have been checking the weather report to see if it would be possible for me to get in a ride. Yesterday was one of the worse days for weather we have had in a long time. While the temps were in the low 50s we had high wind and heavy rain. Today while we still had some of the wind the sun was out and the temps were in the high 30s and low 40s.

I originally wanted to get a 46 mile ride in (1 mile for each year) but my daughter wanted to take me shopping today. We wanted to get the mall early before the crowds so I was not able to get out before the early afternoon.

I rode the same ride that I have described several times. I ended up with 36 miles all together. It turned into a fun ride and I was able to stay warm. My toes got a little bit cold at the end but I think I could have got in 46 if I had enough time. I used my new long gloves for the first time.

I am not sure if I am going to be able to get a Christmas day ride in. Maybe a short one before dinner.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden on December 14, 2007

I took my daughter and one of her friends to Z100's Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden in New York last night. This is the second year we have gone. Last year I had to become a ZVIP and get a password and then buy the tickets online. I would try to get the best available tickets but all that was returned in the search were "The Worst Seats in the House" that Z100 reserves for their ZVIPs. I have to say that this is truth in advertising since these are not great seats if you are interested in viewing the stage.

Last year we sat in the 400 section (I screwed up and did not take the 200 level seats that came back in the first search). The tickets turned out to be not as bad as I expected. We could see part of the stage but we were in the first row of the section so we had a great view of the back stage which was kind of interesting. The stage rotates and the band's/artist's rigs are setup and configured and then rolled around to the front. We always got to see the next act getting ready to get on. The down side was that we did not have a good view of the jumbo screens that displayed the live feed from the front.

This year we sat in the 320 section. We were right behind that left side of the stage. We had a good view of the jumbo screens but not much of anything else. We had a good time even though it made for a late night since we did not get home until 1 PM. It was an even longer day for me since my flight from Richmond on Thursday evening was cancelled and I had to catch a 7 AM flight on Friday morning.

The girls want to attend the all access lounge at the Hammerstein Ballroom on 34th Street. So we took the 1:03 PM train out of Middletown, NJ. This got us into NY's Penn Station at around 2:30 PM (it is a mid day local that stops at all stations on both the North Jersey Coast Line and the Northeast Corridor.

There is alot of graffiti along the train line. I took this picture at a stop in Linden, NJ.

The Empire State Building from the Secaucus Station. On clear days it almost appears as if everything is magnetized.

Inside the Hammerstein Ballroom and the all access lounge. This was actually the low point of the evening for me but I was trying to make the best of it. In order to get all access it was necessary to get a pass. Winning these passes were tough. My daughter and her friend spent a couple of hours trying to get Backstreet Boys and Jonas Brothers meet and greet passes but it did not really work out too well. Eventually we started looking for a place to eat and we ended up at the ESPN Zone at Times Square. The food is better than I though it would be.

This is the view from out seats. I guess it is all about the scene. The show was much better paced than last year. The acts were definitely better last year but there were some highlights of this year's show. Avril Lavigne was good. She seems to be having fun and played 6 songs which was the most by anyone all night. Most acts only play at most 4 songs. Fall Out Boy played 6 as well. Alicia Keyes was great. Great voice and a great band.

Fall Out Boy was their usual selfs. I took my daughter to the Honda Civic Center over the summer at the PNC Art Center. At list point I am not sure if I am a fan. The lead singer and the drummer (he was playing a single bass setup this time) are good. I am still trying to decide if the bass player and second guitarist add that much to the sound. They do play with a lot of energy though.

I was disappointed with Timbaland's performance. I was really expecting that this was going to be high light of the show and Timbaland would showcase some of his genius at merging genre's but it did not really happen. Timbaland had a tough time keeping the energy level up. The performance would move in that direction but before it really gained momentum it kind of died. The band OneRepublic performed with Timbaland and I kind of felt sorry for them since there big opportunity to play Madison Square Garden was marred by equipment/sound problems that did not effect the other acts. OneRepublic played the All Access lounge earlier and they sounded my better. Really a shame since from what I could tell they had the opportunity to really shine.

However, the mostly early teenage girl crowd was there for the Jonas Brothers. We stuck around for 2 songs by the Jonas Brothers but we really wanted to be on the 11:30 PM train home so we left a little early. Waiting until 12:37 AM was not really a good option.

While the music showcased is not really my type of music I am open minded enough to enjoy whatever music is being played. Just like last year there were some great drummers and I usually listen to the drummers when I listen to music.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A December Ride

December 1 would have been a good day to get a ride in but I was busy running errands so it did not work too well for me. Sunday December 2 was just not a good day for hitting the road.

December 8 was the day for me. It did not look to promising when I got off the flight back from Richmond, VA on Friday evening and it was snowing. I decided that I would take a spinning class at the gym on Saturday morning. However, I did not get to the gym until 7:45 am and the class was already full. It was very disappointing since the day was looking bleak.

Around 11 AM the sun came out and the roads started to dry up. I started to get excited. I quickly walked the dog, filled up my tires with air and cleaned/oiled my chain. By 1 PM I was out on the road. I had 4 layers on and I was comfortable with the tempurature in the high 30s. I got a good 34 miles in. I may have to invest in some heavier socks and maybe some booties or winter shoes. My toes have been taking a beating.

I am not sure if tomorrow is going to work out since it is supposed to rain. I may end up taking the 8 am spinning class.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snow Today - Did not get to the cyclocross race

I did not make it to the Cyclocross race today. I did not bring my 4X4 and this is as close as I got. This house is on the corner of Whipperwill Valley and Bowne in Middletown. The right hand turn that I needed to make was down a steep hill. I made an attempt but I noticed the skid marks from previous vehicles so I turned around. I think I could have got down but I am not sure I could have got back up.

It did not look like it was all that well attended. The snow probably scared alot of folks away. Which is not what would be expected with cyclocrossers.

A little bit of snow usually creates havoc here in New Jersey. Unlike in Syracuse. When I moved to New Jersey after college it felt like I had moved to the tropics. I got so used to the mild winters that I had to move even further south to North Carolina. Of course I started to miss being cold (I think it is in my blood) and I moved back here to New Jersey. The trend indicates I will be back in Syracuse soon.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Walstib Cyclocross (Middletown/Red Bank NJ)

I was at the Peddler today and Mike told me about a cyclocross event in Middletown that is going to be held on December 2 (tomorrow). I might shoot over to watch and take some pictures.

Check out this article in the New York Times about cyclocross. Is it bad the the NY Times is covering it?

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I just noticed that I have not put a new blog posting up since Thanksgiving Day. There a couple of things that have been keeping me busy. Unlike BrettOk who has been taking part in Underground Mountain Bike Races I have been living large in Richmond (actually Glen Allen), Virginia. Since the days are short there is not much to do here in the evening except dream about cycling. It is looking like I am going to be happy with one ride a week and be elated if I get two rides in on the week from now till spring.

One of the things I have been doing is rating places such as restaurants, bike shops, parks and grocery stores on a site called Yelp. I found this site from this blog that I discovered from the other networking site I use called Linkedin. It turns out that both Yelp and Linkedin are both related to PayPal. It is amazing how small the world is sometime.

It turns out that this yelp site is kind of addictive. Since I travel quite a bit it could come in handy when I am looking for some place to eat, stay or shop. It does work much better in the larger cities were almost everything has been reviewed. Out in the suburbs and smaller cities there are less reviews. I am trying to do my part. In fact the only reason I have been leaving the hotel room other than to hit the gym is that I am often looking for something to review.

Check out yelp when you get a chance.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I ended up changing my plans and not going to Syracuse for the holiday. I am having a hard time getting back to Syracuse for a visit. All the traveling for work makes it hard to travel on the weekends. I am going to just have to tough it out one of these days.

I usually try to avoid business travel on the week of Thanksgiving. In the past I have shutdown my project (no travel and work from home) because it is usually not a good use of project funds to fly into a city for only two days of work (everyone always wants be be home by Tuesday evening even when they travel).

Things kind of worked out for me. I finished my project in Richmond last Friday. However, there is a new one starting on Monday but I needed to take some vacation time so I told them I was going to take Wednesday and Friday off with Thursday as a holiday. I then made the suggestion that it probably was not worth the airfare for 2 days of onsite work so it was agreed that I would work from home on Monday and Tuesday. It worked out well since I need to get my final report done on the project that I finished last week.

One of the good things was that while the weather was miserable on Monday and Tuesday it started to clear up as my vacation was starting. I rode 46 miles on Wednesday. I added a flat loop to my usual ride that extends it a couple of miles. For some reason the ride wore me out and I ended up taking a nap in the late afternoon.

Since I knew today was going to be busy getting the Thanksgiving meal prepared I was planning on getting up early and getting a ride in. No such luck. I knew it was going to be unseasonably warm (high of 70) so I wanted to take advantage. I did not get on the road until around 1o AM. I wanted to be back around 1 PM if possible. I ended up riding about 33 miles.

I passed some other riders on Wednesday but not too many. I did see the guy on the sea foam green (Team HealthNet) Giant riding the opposite way as me on 520 in Rumson. There were some other riders out today as well but mostly singles out for a pre-feast tune up. I expected to see more groups.

A lot of the High School Football teams played today. Most of the games have little meaning for the season but are town rivalries. Middletown South played Middletown North and Holmdel played Keyport. The game was at 10 AM on Holmdel's Roggy Field. I stopped by to catch the score and I saw Keyport score to make it 14 - 7 in favor of Holmdel. I did not stop for long since it was just about half time. Holmdel won and finished the season at 10 - 1. They lost to Rumson - Fair Haven on Friday which knocked them out of the championships.

It is supposed to be a little colder tomorrow. I am starting to get used to the cold weather. The warm weather kind of freaked me out today since I was not sure how to dress for my ride. I actually ended up wearing shorts and I put a long sleeve shirt underneath one of my short sleeve jerseys. Turned out to be the perfect combination.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Owen Wilson, Swobo Bikes and People Magazine

The women in my household get People Magazine on a weekly basis (they also get US Magazine as well). I was thumbing through this week's issue and I noticed that actor Owen Wilson was riding a single speed Swobo bike while his new girlfriend walked beside him. I guess it kind of shows my priorities since I probably noticed the bike before I notice Owen Wilson or his new girlfriend.

I have been on the Swobo site several times because they make some cool riding clothes (including the Breaking Way Tribute Jersey). I have looked at the bikes a couple of times but I did not recognise the model so I went to the website and found that it is the Swobo Folsom. While at first glance it appears to be a Fixie; the specs state that it has a coaster brake.

Maybe I should go ahead with my plan of opening up a bike messenger culture store in Red Bank, NJ. Use the trendy fashion to fund the actual bike riding. I am not being sarcastic. Just not sure if retail is for me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It is getting close to the end of bicycling season and the ski season is starting

I got a 42 mile ride in on Saturday. If I knew that it was going to be one of the last days of riding I might have gone further. The weather has been very kind to me this fall and I think I have been given a false sense of security. It looks like it might be the only ride for a while.

Right now my gear will allow me to ride comfortably down to the low 40s. Couple of changes like a long sleeve Under Armor shirt underneath a my long sleeve jersey, a pair of long fingered thermal riding gloves (I am now using glove liners under my open fingered riding gloves), a heavier hat (beany) and I should be able to ride comfortably into the mid to high 30s.

However, I think my rides will be somewhat shorter. Since the start of Saturday's ride was not fun at all. I was not feeling it and it certainly did not feel like I had rode hard all summer. The first climb up Holland Hill Road as tough and I did not get warmed up until about the 10 mile mark. Things felt much better after that point.

One of things I have noticed on my bike is that feels like the something is rubbing against my tire as I get to the end of the run. I notice it on the slight upgrades. I thought it might be either the rear brake touching the rim or the chain getting gunked up. I have checked for both. I have cleaned the chain and realigned the rear wheel. I am starting to think that it is just that I am tired at the end of the ride and I notice changes in grade easier. I might also be that the wheels on the Langster are not the most aerodynamic and slight gusts could be causing some drag. Now that the season is over it may be time to get the Langster into the shop for a tuneup.

These folks know how to have a good time. Last week Velonews had and article about the World Single Speed Championships in Oregon (Think this is the sponsoring club). There were some interesting pictures of some folks having fun on the podium and not taking things to seriously. Over the weekend I was looking through my links on this blog and I went to the Raleigh Commutes blog link that I have had for sometime (not really sure how I found it) and there were the same folks that graced the Velonews photo. For more photos check out the following links: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3.

Several of the close ski areas opened this weekend. Last year I signed up for the daily conditions report from Belleayre Mountain in New York. The reports starting coming again last weekend and the one on Thursday said that it was snowing. Bellearye is about 2.5 hours north of where I live. Hunter Mountain and Windham are in the same area. Hunter is supposed to be the snowmaking king but last year Bellearye was still making snow in late March long over all other other mountains had already rolled up their hoses. I guess it helps to be owned by the State of NY.

I am planning on going to Syracuse, NY for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Still trying to decide if I should pack my skis just in case the opportunity presents itself. The mountains in the Syracuse area have still not opened so I would have route my trip through Eastern NY (Catskills). It probably is not going to happen. Although I am going to drop my skis off for sharping and waxing (I really should learn to do this myself but it only costs a couple of dollars and is probably not worth the effort) this week.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

4 Weeks traveling to Richmond, Virginia and 4 Delays Returning to Newark

I have been flying back and forth between New Jersey (out of Newark) and Richmond, Virginia for the last 4 weeks. Originally this was going to be my last week but I am now extended for several months. The project was a good one but the return flight has been ugly. I have been delayed by several hours every week. If I did not have to pass through the Washington, DC area I might think about driving.

As I was finishing up the paragraph above we got the call to start boarding. I guess they decided to herd us on to the place so that we could sit on the runway for 60 plus minutes because that is exactly what we did. The flight is suppose to leave at 5:05 PM but so far it has not even come close. I got home at about 10 PM tonight.

My luggage was the first one off the carousel. Second time it has happened in the last couple of weeks. I guess it is the simple things because that event can usually make my day. I read an article once that stated that one of the reasons to travel is to experience the thrill of having your luggage come off first.

Hopefully I get a chance to do some riding over the weekend. Not sure if the weather will cooperate with me.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Project Bike

I recently posted that I was looking to get a full road bike like a Specialized Tarmac. However, as I ride my Specialized Langster I think I really do not want a road bike as much as I wanted an upgraded version of the Langster. Unfortunately, there are not really that many options unless I want to ride a pure track bike. Which means I have to ride fixie, give up a rear brake and ride without water bottle cages attached to the frame. I am pretty sure this is not for me.

So far the easiest way for me to upgrade is to go with a full road bike. I think that I would miss the fun and challenge of riding long distances with a single speed. However, I have not been willing to give up and I have been spending some of my spare time researching and exploring options. The spreadsheet below is my first attempt at configuring and pricing out a new single speed bike.

I saw several IRO bikes when I was in Boston and the Jamie Roy model is what I am looking for. It has several things that I like about the Langster. It is not a converted track frame but is designed to be ride as a single speed/fixie road bike. It has braze ons for water bottle cages and is drilled to take a rear brake. This frame comes in a 53 which is probably a better fit than the 52 Langster I am currently riding. I could also go with the Soma Rush Frame as well.

I think the $279.00 includes an steel/aluminum fork. I am thinking that I might like to go with an Easton Fork. The question I keep coming back to is "Does it make sense to put a $200 fork on a $279 frame?" However, I could probably save around $100 if I went with another brand but that does not get me that much closer to $1000 which is about where I wanted to be.

I am thinking of going with the FSA Carbon Pro Crank. I saw one on a Langster Pro at a bike shop in NY. I thought about saving some money by going with a Sugino 75 but it turns out the savings is minimal and would still not get me that much closer to $1000. The crank on my Langster is one of the things that I really want to replace. I could put a Sugino 75 or a FSA crank on it but that would be about $300 (including a new bottom bracket) and that is about half what I paid for the Langster in the first place.

For the brakes, brake levers and headset I am thinking of going with Cane Creek. My Langster has a Cane Creek headset on it. Of course there are other options but the price would not change.

Most of the other components selected are place holders. I would most likely use road drop bars since I am not sure I want to ride long distances using a track bar. The Easton bar looks like the way to to. I could probably save a couple dollars going with a different brand but I can make that decision later. Same situation with the seat post. I may have under budgeted for wheels but it should even out since I think I over estimated on couple of other items.

The biggest issue that I am going to have is that I do not trust my mechanical abilities. I may have to work with a bike shop so that I can get someone to put it together. It might be fun to put together myself. I could also save some money by sourcing the parts from multiple stores on the Internet. I could put my Park Repair Stand to good use as well

I have all winter to think about it. For now my Langster is a great bike that I am having fun riding.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cars with the most Bicycle Unfriendly Drivers

One of the things I have been doing while I ride is keeping track of what kind of cars cut me off, come too close or refuse to yield to me. While this is far from a scientific study it become obvious at to my mind that the drivers of some cars were worse than others.

It always seemed like the drivers of certain makes, models or class of vehicle were more prevalent to pulling a bonehead move that endangered my life. I also noticed that some cars seemed to be more bicycle friendly as well.

My number one car with the least bicycle friendly drivers was the Toyota Prius. This surprised me and I wonder if it holds true in California as well. There are not nearly as many Prius in New Jersey as there are in California but it got to the point that whenever I saw a Prius coming I had to be extra careful. I am not sure if it was done on purpose. I did notice that many of the Prius drivers tended to be on the older side. I used to think I wanted to get a Prius but now I am starting to rethink. I do not think it is a Hybrid thing since I did not pickup on any of the other models being especially bad drivers.

In reality the Prius was probably not number one for being the least bicycle friendly drivers but they got the top spot since you would expect that a Hybrid driver would be more willing to share the road with the bicyclists.

The actual vehicle with the least bicycle friend drivers has to be what I call a SUCK. The cars that are half SUV and half Truck. The Cadillac picture below is one of the more popular versions in the area that I live but there are many others. The drivers of these types of vehicles think nothing of driver twice the legal speed limit and then making a hard right hand turn in front of you. They seldom give any room on the road and certaintly do not slow down to give you room to get out of the way. Since a lot of the riding I do is through New Jersey Horse country these types of vehicles are very common (gentleman farmers/horse breeders) on the quiet back roads.

I do have to admit I would probably drive one of these types of vehicles but I cannot stomach the less than 18 MPG that they are rated. They are great cars to have if your are active and need to transport things like bicycles, surf kayaks and skis as well as 3 or 4 friends.

In the same category as SUCKs are the pickup trucks driven by tradesmen. I swear guys like to see how close they come without hitting you. The mirrors these pickup trucks can really put a scare into you.

I think that cars with the most bicycle friendly drivers are Jeeps. Of all the Jeep models I think the Commander has the best drivers of all. They always seem to give you extra room and let you move out of the way. They never honk.

While I was never a big fan of the Commander's styling I would now consider owning one. I think most of the people who drive these cars are generally outdoor types who would also be on there bikes if they did not have to drive somewhere.

As I said I would not mind having a SUV/Truck and I think the one I would probably get would be the Honda Ridgeline. Too bad it does not have a Hybrid engine available. The last time I looked at a Ridgeline it only had an 18/22 MPG (I am too lazy to go over to the website to check). Over course you can get a good deal one now since gasoline is heading back to $3.00 plus per gallon.
Last week I rented a Chevy HHR. I liked it some much that I got one again this week. I think this would be a good car for me. It would be good for transporting my bike and skis. It is comfortable enough for 4 people. However, this week's rental (pictured above in my client's parking lot) does not run nearly as well as last weeks even though it only has about half the miles.

At this point I am going to stick with my 1999 Infiniti G20 with 97,000 miles. I am thinking I can get another 10 to 20 thousand more miles out of it. I think I need to invest in a trunk mount bike rack though.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Nice Fall Ride

We had a Hurricane pass by on Saturday so it was not a good riding day. I saw a rider out on Laurel Ave in the afternoon and I thought about putting my riding clothes on and getting a short one in. I decided against it and went to the gym instead.

However, the great things about Hurricanes is that they usually leave some awesome weather in their wake. Today was a great day. I was looking at my Weather Bug to see what the temperature was going to be. As the the temps rose from the low to high 40s I decided it was time to get out on the road. I decided that if I left at 9 AM I would have plenty of time to build a good coffee base before heading out.

I bought some Polartec glove liners last on Monday so I knew my hands would stay warm. I also picked up a Under Armour Helmet Liner as well.

When I left the house the sun was shining and it was an A day. It got a little cold in the shade but once I got into the sun I could feel a sweat building up. I was actually thinking that I would not have minded if it was a little bit coulder.

I started out with my usual Holmdel - Marlboro - Colts Neck ride. When I get to Laird road I have decision to make. I can turn left and head back home (25 mile ride) or I can turn right and head out on to my 45 and 53 mile loop. I am actually bored with the ride up to Laird Road but there are some good climbs that I can really work.

Once I get out on to Rt 537 the route is relatively flat. The biggest climbs are the Garden State Parkway overpasses. As I was heading into Little Silver I decided that I would take Rt 520 into Sea Bright to see what the waves were like after the storm.

The photo above was taken from the Sea Bright bridge. This is really the only point that I can see the water. Once I go over the bridge and turn left on Rt 36 the view of the Atlantic is blocked by the massive sea wall that the US Corp of Engineers built to hold back the Ocean.

RT 36 heads north along the Jersey coast. I decide to enter Sandy Hook National Park for a little bit since I want to get a better look at the water. The surf fishers were out in force. I took a little self portrait. Not exactly the most flattering picture.

I got back on RT 36 and began the climb up Mt Mitchell overlook through Highlands, NJ. I have been doing this climb a lot and it is not as challenging as I expected. It is longer than the Holland Road climb but I do not think it is as hard. I think it is because I enjoy the drop down Ocean Blvd into Atlantic Highlands so much that I do not mind the climb.

I usually ride through Atlantic Highlands and up into Locust but I remember that the last time I road the bottom part of Navesink Road it was kind of rough since it was being prepared for resurfacing. Since the clouds were starting to roll in I decided to head back through Leonardo and Middletown.

I was returning back home on the lower part of Holland Road. Another rider on a Giant TCR with team decals came up behind me and kind of startled me. The rider apologized. I explained that I was just finishing up and I had zoned out for a brief moment. We talked for a few minutes. I was thinking of riding with him for a few more miles but I had a feeling that I was needed at home so I made a right on Laurel Ave road the last two miles home (the feeling was correct since my daughter wanted to go into Red Bank with one of her friends).

I did two sprints around the lake to make it an even 45 miles. I am think I might try to get a Century in before Winter sets in. I am thinking of riding my 50 mile loop twice. I would have to get up early on a Sunday to do it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bike Snob NYC and Chicago

I picked up the December 2007 issue of Bicycling Magazine to read while I flew from Richmond Virginia to Newark, New Jersey. There was an interview with the guy who maintains the blog I read the interview while I was sitting on the plane waiting to push back from the gate (flight was the 5:05 PM Continental direct to Newark). I figured that I would have to wait to get home before I could check it out. However, it is now 6:36 PM and I am sitting in the terminal writing this blog entry (RIC has free wireless internet).

It turns out there is even a Chicago version called

They are both interesting reads. Lately, Bike Snob NYC has been beating up on the Specialized Langster City Models. While the Langster Seattle kind of interests me I am not sure I would add it to my bike roster. I do have to agree. I think the 2007 Langster offerings were right. However, it appears that the 2008 models have more interest. The Peddler in Long Branch, NJ still has the 56 Langster that originally caught my eye. They also have the 54 Langster Comp that I dream about. So I guess single speeds are not a big seller in this part of New Jersey.

Here are a couple more blogs that cyclists might find interesting.

Eric "Roscoe" Ambel - Knuckleheadnyc Blog - Guitarist (Joan Jett, The Del-lords, Steve Earle), Producer and Fixie Rider

Check out the links to the Blogs on the right hand side of this blog.

If Bicycling Magazine wants to interview me I am more than open to it. I would even use my real name.

Finally made it back from Richmond at about 9:30 PM. I could have driven faster. The Jet Way at the gate was broken so it took us an extra 20 minutes to get off the flight. The second broken Jet Way since August. Both times on Continental.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Summer of the Langster has come to an end

I started out in the spring looking to change up my excercise routine. I was getting burned out on the gym and I did not want to waste a nice summer day lifting weights in side a dark gym. Since I had started taking spinning classes as a alternative cardio workout it started to make since that I should look into a single speed track bike instead of a full road bike as I was originally thinking of.

The decision was made that I would only go to the gym on days when the weather was not good for riding. The plan was a success! My computer says that I have riden 1600 plus miles since I installed it. I think I already had put more than 1000 miles on the Langster before I installed the computer (Cat Eye Micro Wireless). It definitely reversed the gym burnout that I was experiencing.

While I lost some size in my upper body I did build up my legs. I think I gained about 5 lbs which was kind of unexpected since I had expected to lose weight. Of course the reading on the scale is just a meaningless number. A body builder once told me the only thing that matters is how you look in the mirror.

I know that the experiment has ended since I rode both yesterday and today. While the sun was out it is starting to get cold here on the North Jersey Shore. We had frost over night. On Sunday's ride I wore a long sleeve heavy jersey and shorts. I was not super uncomfortable but I did cut my route a little short once the sun was starting to set. I wanted to be back by 5 PM but it started to get colder at around 4 PM.

Today's ride was even colder. The temperatures were in the low 50s at mid day. I wore my long tights that I bought to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge and up to Marin County in February. At first I thought I could get away with only wearing my fingerless road gloves but after two test rides around the lake I knew I ended to get something warmer on my hands. I went through the coat closet and I found a pair of gloves that would go on my hands and still fit underneath my riding gloves. They were not a matching pair and I think they were women's gloves but I did not have time to get to a store since my window of riding opportunity was going to a short one.

I am finding that riding in the cold is much harder and strenuous than riding in the warmer weather. I have found myself at a lower energy level. On Sunday I only got in about 37 miles and today I only got in about 29 miles. Both rides were not fun at all. Although I do feel like I have worked out.

I have been holding off on purchasing a lot of winter riding gear. I am not sure how often I will use it especially once ski season starts. Since this is the New Jersey shore and not Syracuse we should still have several weekends left of 50 to 70 degree weather. I bought some glove liners after I finished my ride today. I do not think I will be getting out riding as the temperatures get below 45 degrees so I should be good with what I have.

I do want to get a better bike for next year. I think I have decided on a Specialized Tarmac. The only question is which model model. The Tarmac Elite appears to be a good value. The two shops I have talked to have told me that they will be able to sell it for $1750 - $1775. This is a good price for a Shimano 105 equiped carbon frame bike. The Tarmac Elite is a new model for 2008. It looks like it is supposed to replace some the Allez models that were dropped for 2008.

The real decision comes when you start looking at the models above the Elite. Once you start spending $1500 - $2000 it is always easy to justify spending "Just a couple hundred more". That is usually when it starts to snowball.

I am starting to move away from the Elite and up to the Comp Double. I was originally looking at this bike when I bought my Langster. I was originally going to get a Scott CR1 Team but I wanted to look at the Tarmac. While I ended up with the Langster I have been thinking I would like to have a Tarmac was well. I have not priced this bike yet but online price is $2400 so I am thinking the shops will sell for around $2100. I think this might be my winner for 2008. The Tarmac Expert Ultegra pictured above is listing out at $3000. I talked to one guy on the road who had a 2007. He had great things to say about it but he also worked for a Specialized Dealer . It is certaintly an option.

At $4000 list the Tarmac Pro Double picture above is definitely out of my price range. While it would be nice to have a full Dura Ace Group bike I currently have other priorites and it would be hard to justify. I am not sure it would make that much of a difference.

So far none of the dealers around me have any 2008 Tarmacs in stock. They all have them on order but they have yet to come it. Since I am in no hurry and I am not expecting to buy anything until the spring I can wait until some of these start showing up on the sales floor. Toga Bikes in New York usually has a good supply so I will have to stop in next time I am in Manhattan.

I really do not want to move away from single speed riding. In fact I want to start riding fixie but not on the road. Unfortunately, the closest Velodromes to me are between 90 and 120 minutes away (Kissena in Queens and Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania). Specialized is not offering a complete S-Works Langster for 2008. They are just offering a S-Works Frame for $1100. The bike pictured above is the 2007 Langster S-Works which retails for $3800. I have heard that Specialized still has these available. I might think about this if I lived closer to a track. However, the 54 Langster Comp that the Peddler is willing to sell for $800 is a better investment. If it is still there come spring I may make it mine. Otherwise the Bianchi Pista Concept or the Felt TK2 is another way to go.

Off to Richmond, Virginia for the week. It is supposed to be warmer the rest of the week but I still will not be able to ride. Hopefully it stays nice into the weekend.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Holmdel Freshman girls play in the Toms River JV Tournament

Holmdel's Freshman and Junior Varsity team combined to play in the Toms River, NJ JV Field Hockey Tournament. The game was scheduled for 1:30 PM on Saturday October 27. The weather was not cooperating since it rained hard all morning. I was suprised that the matches were not cancelled. My daughter had to be dropped off at Holmdel High School at 11:30 AM. It was still raining hard when I dropped her off.

Toms River is about 35 miles south of Holmdel. It is located off of Parkway Exit 88. (Yes, it is true that everything is an exit number in New Jersey) I mapped to the wrong school and I needed to ask for directions twice. I expected to miss the first half but the earlier games were delayed. I got to the field just as the team was warming up as Welcome to the Jungle played on the loudspeaker system. Holmdel's opponent was Notre Dame Catholic High School.

The game was played on the Toms River East High School turf field. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. The field was lined for multiple sports and both teams had difficulty finding the right out of bounds markings. I know it was difficult to tell from the stands. The ref was always correcting the players. Also, the Holmdel players had not spent a lot of time playing on turf and tried to drive the ball the same way they do on grass. It took most of the game before they were able to adjust.

Notre Dame dominated play in the first half but were unable to score because of the superior play of Holmdel's goalie. She had a great game and left Notre Dame frustrated at what should have been sure goals.

Notre Dame did put the ball in the goal during the first half. However, the score was waved off by the refs because the ball had been kicked. The Notre Dame coach had some issues with the call and made it known from the bench. As the Notre Dame players on the bench chimed in the ref stopped play to reprimand the coach and the players. The coach apologised and took the blame for his players by stating that they were just following his lead. The Notre Dame coach had a big booming voice and it was easy to hear him in the stands. It was obvious that he as passionate about the game and was constantly calling out instructions for his players. Even though he had more issues with some of the calls he learned to bite his tongue for the rest of the game.

The second half of the game was much more even sided. The game was played on the whole field and Holmdel was also starting to get more opportunities at scoring a goal. However, Notre Dame's defense also stepped up and held Holmdel scoreless.

The score at the end of regulation was 0 to 0. This was followed by a 10 minute sudden death overtime period. The Holmdel players were starting to wear out and Notre Dame was able to score about 3 minutes into the period. This ended Holmdel's season.

I did not bring my camera to the game because it was raining so hard I figured that I would not get any good shoots. Now I wish I had.

I enjoyed watching the Holmdel Freshman girls play field hockey this year. I am looking forward to next year when they all move up to Junior Varsity. The girls all seemed to have fun and really enjoyed the competition. The coach Ms. Hoffman did a great job with them.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vultures in Richmond, Virginia

I parked my rental car in the parking lot of my new client in Richmond, Virginia. I was getting my backpack out of the back of the car when I felt stares on my back. I turned around and I spotted these vultures in the tree behind me. Kind of poetic I think.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Holmdel defeats Rumson Fair Haven in Freshman Girls Field Hockey

Holmdel High School Freshman field hockey team (5 -6)played Rumson Fair Haven High School (RFH) at home today. Holmdel was able to come away with a win by out scoring RFH by a score of 3 - 0. Holmdel's defense was able to record another shutout.

During the first half both teams appeared to be evenly matched. The ball moved up and down the field and neither team had complete control of the game. At the end of the first half the score was still 0 - 0.

Not sure what the Holmdel coach told her team at half time but whatever it was it worked. The team that took the field for the start of the second half seemed completely different that the team that had played during the first half. Holmdel spent the almost the whole second half on offense. RFH only got close to Holmdel's goal a couple of times. Holmdel was able to turn RFH around at the half field on almost every break away. Holmdel was executing on their corners and by the mid point of the second half Holmdel was a threat to score on every posession.

Rumson Fair Haven had one of the nicest uniforms of every team that Holmdel has played this year. The purple with laid skirt uniforms looked like they were designed by Alexander Julian.

Holmdel Freshman Field Hockey team only has one more game left against Wall Township on October 23. This will give the team the opportunity to finish the year with a .500 record. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend.

I have really enjoyed watching the games this year. I am now looking forward to next year's JV season.

Red Bank, New Jersey

I was walking around Red Bank, New Jersey last night because I was a little bored and for the month of October the restuarants in Red Bank are supposed to be offering Price Fix Meals for $25. This was the first Wednesday that I was able to get into town. I ended up stopping at a pizza shop and getting a slice of pizza and a pepperoni wheel.

As I was eating my meal I was thinking about one of the stores that I really missed in Red Bank. Prown's was one of my favorite stores on Broad Street. While the Prown's name is still around as a home improvement company the store on Broad Street is now a Chase Bank. One of the great things about Prown's was that it sold just about everything from blinds for your house or apartment to electric trains.

Restoration Hardware moved in down the street from Prown's a couple of years before it closed but it is not really a replacement.

There was a Army/Navy store in Red Bank that closed a couple of years ago and the building is now being turned into Luxury Condos/Apartments. I think the name of the store was call Kislers or something like that. While I never purchased anything there I did like to walk through it from time to time. The store sold everything you need for a day at the beach or a hike through one of the local parks.

Unfortunately, these types of stores have closed all over the country so it would be hard for them stay in business when they are in high dollar real estate.

On the plus side Jack's Music is still open. However, I seldom buy anything there. I used to be a good customer but now I download most of my music. I do still browse and I occasionally purchase things that I cannot get on iTunes.

Jack's music used to be across the street and had a large musical instrument department. It was a hair band paradise with lots of pointy guitars and big stacked amps.

The Original Soup Man (the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld) just opened up a store on Broad Street across from Starbucks. They have opened up several of these stores in New York. I have always thought that this guy was a creation of Larry David. I have been to the stores in New York and the soup is not bad. However, there are couple of other soup places that I like better.

One of the great things about Red Bank is that even though it is a small town it is always changing. I am waiting for a bike shop to open. There used to be on in town but it closed and the building is now a fashion retailer called Nirvana.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Holmdel Freshman Girls Field Hockey lose to Freehold Township

Holmdel High School Freshman Girls Field Hockey (white/blue) lost to Freehold Township High School (blue/yellow) on Monday October 15, 2007. The final score was 2 - 1 and the game was tied 1 - 1 until the final minutes of the game.

The Holmdel freshman that have been playing Junior Varsity came down to help the team work on subbing. Holmdel has played the whole year with just enough players to field a team.

Freehold scored first on a well executed corner. However, Holmdel stayed strong and came back with a score of their own that gave the team hope that could pull out the win. Holmdel did put the ball in the net again but the ref had already stopped play. The goal was not allowed and the score remained 1 - 1 for the rest of the first half.

Neither team dominated play. The offense and defense of both teams were busy throughout the game.

Holmdel's goalie had several great saves. The improvement in the goal is allowing Holmdels defense to move further away. In fact is has been fun watching the whole team improve as the season progresses. The team is now striking the ball hard and using push passes to move the ball up and down the field.

Freehold scored their second goal late in the second half. While Holmdel had some strong scoring opportunities they were unable to convert and the clock ran out. Freehold was able to return home with the win.

The game was well attended by both parents and students. It was agreed by those sitting in the stands that Freehold Township was the best team Holmdel faced this season. I am glad I was able to get out of work early so that I could attend the game. I also remembered to bring my camera for the game as well.