Yesterday I rode out to Somerville, in part to see the races (some of them, anyway) and in part for the ride itself. Also, it’s good—for me, anyway—to re-enact an old ritual every now and again.
Last year, I took a route I had followed several times before, through Newark and Jersey City and Westfield. From there, I followed, more or less, the paths of the Rahway and Raritan rivers to Bound Brook, the next town over from Somerville.
This year, I decided to try a route I found on one of the map websites. It looked promising: It avoided a section of US Highway 22 on which I found myself very briefly but I wanted to avoid because the high point of it was finding a deer carcass sprawled across my path.
Well, I found myself veering off the route on several occasions: There were series of turns that would have challenged even the best ballerinas. You can guess what happened next: I found myself on that very same stretch of 22. Admittedly, I didn’t have to spend more than half a kilometer on it, but it was unpleasant enough, especially in light of what happened: A section of my front inner tube bubbled through a cut in my tire and flatted---at the very spot where I saw the deer carcass last year.
A minor annoyance, I admit. But I decided that this ride was going to be “perfect”—which is not a good mindset from which to set out on two wheels (or for doing very many other things, I’ve found). I fixed the tube (I had a spare, but I figured the tube was easily fixable) and booted the tire. During those few minutes, it seemed that the temperature rose by about ten degrees: What had been a pleasantly warm day was turning into a borderline “scorcher”. Beautiful as the day was, conditions were draining: The weather had turned hot, with direct sunlight. And I was pedaling directly into a 20-30 KPH wind. I guess if I ever decide to ride across a desert, such conditions would train me well.
On top of everything, I’d forgotten my water bottle. As I was getting dressed, I popped it into the freezer. I sometimes leave it in for a few minutes before a ride on a warm day: The water doesn’t freeze, but remains pleasantly cool for a couple of hours into a ride—by which time I’d need a refill.
What that meant were a couple of stops at local grocery stores for Poland Spring water and Gatorade, which I don’t normally drink. I made an exception for the latter because I saw that I wasn’t sweating but my T-shirt was turning into a tie-dye collage or batik (choose your metaphor) of salt stains.
Still, I enjoyed the ride, which I estimated to be about eight or ten kilometers longer than I’d planned. I didn’t stay for all of the races: I left just before five because I wanted to avoid riding in the dark through the desolate industrial areas of North Elizabeth and South Newark. I made it to Penn Station in Newark just as the orange and red and purple of the sunsets (which are so colorful in those polluted areas) were turning into the metallic hues that reflected the new office and condo towers near the station.
Arielle, as always, made it a great ride. And I am more and more convinced that the Ruth Works Brevet bag hanging from my handlebar is the best piece of bicycle luggage I’ve found in a long time, if not in my cycling life.
Oh, by the way, I rode—from what I measured on my maps—164 km, or a little more than 101 miles. That means I rode my first non-metric century of the year.
(By the way, I've written a post about the town itself on my other blog.)