the turnout for the cambridge sweet ride was more than for the somerville industrial ride last weekend. there must've been 160 riders compared to the 50-60 from last week. maybe it has something to do with the fact that somerville asks for a donation while the cambridge one is completely free. not only that, but one can score all sorts of goodies, including free bike bells, reflector strips, t-shirts, bottled water, and candy. cambridge, you have some deep pockets.
the rendezvous site was 10:00 at the cambridge public library. i should've gotten there earlier because by the time i arrived, all the free t-shirts and reflectors were gone. i did manage to pick up a spare bike bell and a bottled water. i didn't recognize anyone there until renee showed up with her developmentally-challenged son dani. he must've been complaining earlier, because she used me as an example when she told him, "look, tony's here too, and he doesn't like crowds either." i love crowds.
riding in a large group, it's easy to just turn off my brain and simply follow, give myself up in the joy of just biking. here and there i'd recognize where we were, but there were also plenty of time when i was completely lost. it was one of those times, on franklin street, where i heard somebody call my name from the sidewalk. i saw a couple pushing a stroller but i still couldn't recognize who it was. turns out it was rob and anna and their baby leo. i stopped to chat with them briefly, but then somebody else stopped as well that i recognized as rob's friend dave! he was on the ride as well and said he saw me earlier but wanted to see how long it'd take before i noticed him. we could only chat for less than a minute since we had to follow the group. i told rob i'd see him next saturday for anna's phd graduation party.
dave and i ended up riding together and chatting. i told him about my kombucha and distillation projects. he told me he was looking to buy a place this year, preferably in cambridge, most likely in more affordable somerville. he didn't even know about the sweet ride, and only tagged along when some of his friends told him about it. his bike was in the shop so he ended up with a loaner bike (which actually used to be his bike before he gave it away).
we made it back to the cambridge, which was only the eastern half of a double loop. next up was the western loop. dave sat out the second half to hang out with friends. i took out my ZS20 camera and attached it to my handlebar mount. a few other bikers saw it and admired the setup. i then shot 2 long movies while biking, which ended up being an ass cam. i learned a few things: filming from a bike only really works on wide angle. when i tried to shoot using a slight zoom, the increased zoom combined with the vibration from the bike causes the video to be super-shaky despite the image stabilizing.
instead of continuing onwards back to the cambridge library for refreshments, i veered off and went home when we passed by my street after riding through porter square. i grabbed my things and rode to the cafe to meet up with my mother. my father wasn't there, having left to plant some vegetables at my aunt/uncle's place in arlington while they're on vacation. my mother and i biked back to belmont.
my sister was waiting for us to come home, on standby to leave for winchester fells the moment we arrived. the main objective was to do some birdwatching with the new binoculars, but also to look for some white ladyslippers.
birdwatching requires a lot of patience. they're hard enough to see in early spring when the leaves aren't out yet, they're pretty much impossible to see in late spring when the leaves are all out. most the birds i've spotted over the years have just been through sheer luck, and not because i was searching for them. in my experience, i see more birds when i'm not looking. so there we were, each one of us armed with a pair of binoculars (in my father's case he had my old kenko 8x32 monocular), and the only birds we saw were robins and grackles, birds we see everyday in the suburbs. when it comes to birdwatching, you might have the right equipment, but if you don't know where to find the birds (the when and where), you're not going to see very much.
what the fells lacked in bird sightings, it made up for in ladyslippers (thank goodness flowers can't fly). it's still not peak bloom yet (from the numerous empty petals we saw), but still enough to be impressive. we tried looking for the spot where we saw the white ladyslipper last spring but couldn't remember where it was. as far as other wildflowers, pretty much all the ones i saw last spring i saw this year, so there was nothing new. i noticed the mosquitoes were out too, but they seemed sort of lazy, and i didn't get bit even though a few circled me when i stopped to take photos (i didn't wear any bug repellent).
back in belmont i did some gardening:
may's backyard flower show has already begun, but more is yet to come. lilacs, buttercups, dianthus, lunaria, irises (bulb), wisteria, strawberries, lilies-of-the-valley, and black cherry (maybe) are all flowering at the moment. but in a few weeks, these will emerge as well: peonies, lilies, snapdragons, geraniums, sage, delphiniums, daisies, and irises (rhizome).
here on 6 day of the kombucha fermentation, we finally tried some, drawn from the smaller 1 gallon jar with a porcelain soup spoon, about a cup's worth. definitely lighter than jimmy's kombucha, tasted more watered down but also slightly sweeter. i hadn't seen the kombucha since monday, and since that time (today being saturday), the baby scoby's floating on top having grown to about 2-3mm thick. rising carbon dioxide bubbles have lifted the scoby in certain parts. underneath, strands of yeast byproduct drape from the scoby's. my parents left the mason jars at the cafe so we can't bottle the kombucha until tomorrow.
there wasn't much to eat in the house and nobody wanted to cook, so dinner came in the form of simple noodles mixed with some spicy flavor packets. i returned home on my trek allant, wondering to myself why i don't ride this sweet bike more often (the reason is because i don't have to worry about my junky everyday bike; knowing what i know about my neighborhood, leaving a decent bike locked outside is a good way to lose it).
a neighbor few houses down was throwing out a pull-up bar. i grabbed it, making it the second one i own. the door frame and the molding on my 100+ year old house is just too thick to clip on the pull-up bar unfortunately. what i need to do is to drill 2 additional holes in the metal tubing so i can move up the rubber brace by a centimeter, giving me enough clearance to finally clip the bar onto my old door frame. now that i have 2 there's no excuse not to give it a try. unfortunately with my still healing collarbone, i don't know if i'm allowed to do any pull-up exercises without reaggravating the injury.
tonight was the drawing for the $590 powerball lottery and i couldn't resist going down to the local liquor store and buying a single ticket ($2). if i won that sort of money, i'd give every friend and family a million dollars each. i won't move to a bigger house, but would buy a piece of land with good sun so i can grow a nice garden. i have inexpensive tastes. anyway, while i was there, i also bought a 6-pack of pear-flavored woodchuck hard cider. it's one of their flavors i haven't tried; they also had a special summer blend but the only difference was it had blueberries, and i'm not too big on blueberries. the best woodchuck i ever had is their special limited edition autumn brew. hopefully i can score some come fall. since i love hard cider so much, i should thick about making my own when apple season gets here.
walking back home, i looked inside zoe's (weekend nights they're super busy) and saw a familiar face: david fitzgerald! i haven't seen him since andrew invited us to his old newton home for pizza lunch. i think about him all the time, especially since my motorcycle route coming back from the assembly square mall passes by his house. he told me to knock on his door next time, he might be home. he said he's going to hong kong come june, followed by thailand.
when 11:00 came around, they televised the powerball drawing live on television. when the first number didn't match, i knew i wasn't going to win the jackpot, so i wasn't paying attention. but when they got to the final ball - the eponymous powerball - i got a match. i won! yes, only $4, but it's still something. a lucky night indeed.