I’m republishing this post from my old blog, with some minor editing, to show what I’m building to through my hiking and riding. When I rode this weekend tour I had bad knees, but I worked through them and overcame them. Also, note how much thinner I am in the photos. With hard work I can get back there again.
Neil Fein is a bike tourist, editor, and musician. I rode with him for a couple of years, and although we don’t ride together any longer we remain friendly. Neil’s account of this tour is posted here: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=3271&v=4K
The President’s Day weekend promised to be cold, so naturally Neil Fein, the NJ half of the Neils on Wheels Bike Touring Team, wanted to do an overnight tour. “It’s only 35 and 30 mile legs” he said on the phone. I was very out of shape and hadn’t ridden any distance in nearly a month. So of course I said “Sure.” What better time and place to break in my new Bicycle Club of Philadelphia jersey than on frigid rides sixty miles outside the city?
Decision made, I drove the 100 miles to Neil’s home on Friday the 15th. The plan was to ‘warm up’ with a short ride with Neil F. that afternoon. Neil doesn’t drive, and he was riding a short errand to pick
up flowers for his wife after work. So as he rode by his home to head to the florist I fell in line behind him. I developed renewed respect for his commuting skills as I traveled with him through traffic on Rt
27 in Highland Park. I also learned if you pack carefully you can carry tulips in your panniers.
The next day we headed out to East Windsor at 11:00 AM. A problem with my rear brake led us to Highland Park Cyclery, where Nathan replaced the pads. By 11:30 we were rolling again through
New Brunswick, and then past the city into the Middlesex County countryside. I was glad to be free from the urban area, and not just for disagreeable drivers; one of the ever-present utility cyclists nearly crashed into me because he was riding against traffic and cut in front of me.
We headed toward the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath. The land as we approached the canal was so attractive I could almost forget it was New Jersey. And I could almost forget the cold. Almost. Neil and I had several exchanges along these lines:
“Neil, how are you doing?”
“I’m cold, Neil.”
We reached the canal, and I soon discovered the towpath was too wet for a 260 pound cyclist on 32 cm tires. I sank nearly 2 inches into mud. So we changed plans and traveled on Canal Road. Along the way we dodged ice patches on the road, and lots of gravel. We stopped at Griggstown so I could pose in my BCP jersey:
Soon enough we reached Kingston, where we searched for lunch. By now it was nearly 2:30, and the deli in town was closing. So we ate lunch outside.
"Neil, how are you doing?"
We decided to cut out a scenic five mile swing through a local park, but in doing so we missed a turn on our cue sheet, and wound up riding six miles to save five. By 5:30 I was very cold, and hungry, but thanks
to Neil's GPS unit we located the home of our host. I was soon enough warmed up, and I entertained the
twin two year olds in the home bypointing to my jersey and booming in a deep voice, "I am BCP-Man!" The
little fellows were fascinated with my jersey, and they wanted to try on my helmet and play with my helmet
However, the children were bewildered by the fact two cyclists could have the same first name. Their mother asked them "what's his name", pointing to Mr. Fein. "Neil" they shouted. (Two year olds never speak
in anything but shouts.) "And what's his name?" she said, pointing to me. The children looked confused. "His name is Neil" she said, to which they both shouted, "BCP-Man!" The kids did catch on by the time we
left; I understand afterwards they were asking, "where are the Neils?"
The next morning we left about 9:15, and arrived at Neil's mom's home an hour later for brunch and a chance to get out of the cold. I ate well, too well. When we left two hours later I was full, too full to
ride without discomfort.
"Neil, how are you doing?"
"I'm cold and I ate too much."
"You're supposed to. It was a Jewish brunch."
"I feel bloated."
"You really should convert. We have much better food than Christians do."
"Please don't talk about food."
We reached Neil's house by three PM.
The next ride was a recovery ride on President's Day to test one of Neil's new commuting routes. My
extended weekend of Neils on Wheels cycling ended with a ride Tuesday morning to Neil's work carpool,
then a ride back to my car and a drive back to Pennsylvania to start my work week. Another Neils on
Wheels Bike Touring Team tour in the bag. Here's the official photo of the NOWBTT members, including
BCP-Man, resting after a recovery ride