Type 2 Diabetic. Clydesdale Bicyclist. #NextBurgh Flâneur. Caffeine User and Coffeeneur.
A bike geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish. by Vannevar Bush       about       /       murals

Sunday, August 30, 2015

CitiBike, CountriBike

Was fortunate to meet Jeff (aka @CountriBike) at Golden Triangle bike rental. He's riding a NewYork bike share bike, a CitiBike, across the country east-to-west.

He had ridden in on the GAP yesterday, probably arriving a half-hour behind me. Fortunately, he hit Pittsburgh just in time for PedalPgh and the city was just all about bikes.

His story and trip report is online here: countribike.com/. He's riding a brand-new update version of the CitiBike. He's swapped the seat and pedals for some higher-quality gear.

He's rolling with the standard internal 3-speed rear hub. I think he'd have enjoyed a Pittsburgh HealthyBike which has a 7-speed internal rear hub a bit more.





Saturday, August 29, 2015

Test-Riding Amtrak Roll-On Bike Service, Pittsburgh DC

8.28 25
8.29 34
Riding your bike from Pittsburgh to DC, or DC-Pittsburgh, or even some segment of the GAP-C&O is a wonderful experience - but there's a logistical problem that presents a barrier to many folks; once you ride from one end to the other, how do you get yourself and your bike back to your starting point (which is often where you left your car). How do you make a round-trip out of a 335-mile one-way ride? You could take the train for $80, but it's not so easy to take your bike on the train.

Until now, the only way to move your bike between Pittsburgh and DC via amtrak was to box your bike - to scrounge or purchase a box, take the pedals off your bike, take the handlebars off your bike, maybe take the seatpost off your bike and then hand the bike-box off as cargo to be carried by the railroad.



I have never heard of any trouble using the bike-box between Pittsburgh and DC, but I have been reluctant to take my bike apart (after having it dialed in) and handing it off to strangers. Fortunately, Adventure Cycling and other advocates have been urging Amtrak to deliver Roll-On, Roll-Off (RORO) service in the DC-Pittsburgh corridor, and they're about to roll this new service out.

I had been an Amtrak RORO test-rider in October 2013, when the project was starting to firm up to something "possible" and I've been waiting for the announcement.

Sept-Oct 2015 is a very exciting time for Pittsburgh bicycling on the GAP and C&O. The Montour Trail will be opening two new bridges to eliminate at-grade crossings. The Pinkerton Tunnel, between Confluence and Rockwood will be opened. And: Amtrak RORO is promised!

This follows up on what's already an exciting year in Pittsburgh, what with the introduction of Penn Ave (and other) bike lanes, and Pittsburgh BikeShare (HealthyBikePittsburgh) rolling out in May. It's an explosive time in Pittsburgh cycling.

My wife and I were asked to be test-riders for one more evaluation ride between Pittsburgh and DC before the railroad finalizes its procedures, placards, documents, etc. The invitation was wonderful but involved being at the Amtrak Station well in advance of our 05:20 departure. Waking up at 0230, to leave at 0330, to be downtown at 0430: I am not the 24x7 guy I used to be.

We parked our car at the Greyhound station and walked across the street to the Amtrak terminal. There were six cyclists onboard for the first leg; friends Yale and Paul, a new friend Don, and Lilly an editor from the Post-Gazette. Our group did stand out a bit in the waiting room.

At the appointed time, we rolled our bikes out on the platform. As we walked out we met a family who had boxed their bikes for this trip, and wondered why they couldn't do the RORO; we had to say this is just a test, sorry. Maybe soon!


We walked our bikes into the bike-car, mounted them in the racks, then took our gear and found seats in a passenger car. It was very straightforward. (Participants were asked to not show pictures of the equipment because it's not formally locked-in yet.) It was just as easy as it should be.

We rolled out of the Pittsburgh metro area and rode for about ninety minutes, stopping in Connellsville. The nature of the evaluation ride is they want to simulate max riders coming off the train, and max riders coming on the train at stops along the way, to see if there's any delay presented by the cyclist shuffle.

As we got off in Connellsville, six fresh-faced cyclists were ready to get onboard. I recognized Linda Boxx, the Great Lady of the GAP. We got off, they got on, and the train rolled away leaving us with our bicycles, 60 miles of trail to Pittsburgh, and a great weather forecast.

One member of our group was eager to depart quickly, because he intended to ride the GAP to the Montour Trail and make a 100-mile ride out of the day. The others rode together over to Village Dairy for breakfast. We used the Connellsville Loop route to get to the other side of town.

Breakfast was excellent, as it always is there, and then we rode behind Martin's Foods and joined the GAP Trail. It was still a bit foggy and chilly close to the river, but in August a cool ride is a welcome thing.


photo: Don Erdejlac

My plan was to ride 25 miles with Karen to West Newton, about halfway to Pittsburgh, and overnight at Bright Morning B&B. My friends Yale and Paul were going to ride back to Pittsburgh, along with Lilly (the newspaper editor).

We rolled much faster than I thought we would, maybe because of the chilly morning and we needed to generate some heat. The fog burned off and it was a pretty, blue-sky day.

In West Newton, we split off and crossed the river to have lunch at Gary's Chuck Wagon. It's an authentic local mom-and-pop, which is the sort of place I'd always rather stop at. There were no espressos to be found in town but we did enjoy an excellent lunch.

We crossed back to the trail. It was early to check-in at the B&B but the room was unused from the night before and we were able to check in early. Hot showers, naps, books and wifi; awesome.

We walked to dinner at the Trailside Inn, located on top of the bike shop. Then we called it a day.



Saturday morning we enjoyed a tremendous breakfast from our hosts and got to talk with the other guests. There was a solo rider from Chicago, riding DC to Pittsburgh and a Canadian family with three young children riding Pittsburgh to Cumberland. It was a very solid breakfast.

We rode out with 36 miles on the agenda. Bought some Gatorade at the Buena-Vista mini-mart, stopped to drink them at the Dravos Cemetery Campground which is always a very nice stop.

Continued through McKeesport and Duquesne into Homestead and the Waterfront complex. Stopped at Red Robin for lunch. Then we rode into Pittsburgh proper; I always appreciate how the first skyscraper visible to inbound cyclists on the GAP is the Cathedral of Learning and not the downtown banks. Reaching civilization, we immediately detoured for some high-power caffeine at Big Dog Coffee on the Southside.

We saw quite a few friends who were out riding: Amy and Sara; Stef, Dan, and Ted doing the 90 Neighborhoods Ride; DanY setting up for the next day's ride at REI, and Stu coming into town.

After coffee we joined the Jail Trail, rode to Grant Street and then rode crosstown on Grant to pick up the car at the Greyhound station. It was a great demonstration of a non-extreme overnight ride, made possible by Amtrak roll-on, roll-off service. I look forward to the rollout.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Droning Along

8.25.2015 21m
8.22.2015 2m
8.21.2015 7m
Today I started riding at the Bastille. Karen and I rode around to Millvale and Pamela's Pancakes for strawberry crepe goodness. Nice ride.

Coming back, noticed these signs around the baseball stadium:


which is kind of misleading, because NOTAM 4-3621 (pdf), the cited authority, pretty clearly says

PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 99.7, SPECIAL SECURITY INSTRUCTIONS, COMMENCING ONE HOUR BEFORE THE SCHEDULED TIME OF THE EVENT UNTIL ONE HOUR AFTER THE END OF THE EVENT. ALL AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS; INCLUDING PARACHUTE JUMPING, UNMANNED AIRCRAFT AND REMOTE CONTROLLED AIRCRAFT, ARE PROHIBITED WITHIN A SPECIAL 3NMR UP TO AND INCLUDING 3000FT AGL OF ANY STADIUM HAVING A SEATING CAPACITY OF 30,000 OR MORE PEOPLE WHERE EITHER A REGULAR OR POST SEASON MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, OR NCAA DIVISION ONE FOOTBALL GAME IS OCCURRING. THIS NOTAM ALSO APPLIES TO NASCAR SPRINT CUP, INDY CAR, AND CHAMP SERIES RACES EXCLUDING QUALIFYING AND PRE-RACE EVENTS.
I'm sorry about the All-Caps, but that's the way they roll.

And that's a very specific, constrained restriction compared to the #NoDroneSign. I do really like the last line of the sign, which I think means "We will tell on you".




Sunday, August 16, 2015

OTB Fried Pickles Black Bean Cakes

8.17.2015 6miles
Rode with my wife Karen. Parked at the Second Avenue lots by the Jail, rode to OTB for dinner. Fried pickles and black bean cakes; wowsa. Simple ride back. I was surprised there weren't more people out.

Friday, August 14, 2015

S24O Sub-24 Hour Overnight to Dravos; BOB Trailer Shakedown

8.14-15.2015 16m
I bought some new equipment - a three-person tent which I figured would be sufficient for two real people, an air pad and a sleeping bag - and the dimensions of each one exceeded the capacity of panniers.




So I went to Thick Bikes and got a Bob trailer. (achievement: unlocked)


My wife Karen and I started Thursday at 5pm in West Newton. Rode downhill for 4 miles to Driscoll and Sons behind the Yough Twister soft-serve stand. Beer, food, coffee, cheesecake FTW. Great restaurant.

Rode another 4 miles to Dravos Cemetery Campground, started assembling new stuff in the gloaming. Got away with it; everything worked well.

It was a very pleasant evening. Cool air, clear skies. There were probably five other parties in the campground and it was very quiet. Didn't get to see any asteroids.

They've placed some deconstructed architectural stone/cement blocks (OK, building blocks lets just say it) around the campground as chairs for firerings. Very cool.



Woke up in the morning. Made coffee and putzed around. Rode 8 miles back to West Newton, got breakfast at Gary's Chuck Wagon which is my fave place to eat in West Newton.

A very successful shake-down ride for a bunch of new gear. Also, another successful S24O (Sub-24hour-Overnight).


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Prexie Ride

8.12.2015 28m
On the road bike again. Started at the Bastille, rode to Downtown.

Got to participate in a group ride of 32 cyclists. Took a meandering route across the SouthSide, Northside, Washington's Landing. Very nice.


Very, very pleased to see repairs in progress at the Ft. Pitt bridge ramp, behind the blockhouse



Afterwards I met Yale and we rode to Thick and back to the Bastille.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Stuff That's Moved

8.09.2015 #252 25m
Rode with my wife Karen today. Used my road bike, which I'm sure I haven't been on in months.

Started at the Bastille. Rode to Thick (which is closed on Sundays, just like their sign says!) Very interested to see a placard for Bike The Boroughs, whose website is not ready for prime time (still showing some Greek'd text) but it's a great idea nevertheless.

Rode to Oakland and thence to Taza D'Oro for cold coffee, so wonderful. Back into town via Penn, where I saw this bit of sculpture




I'm pretty sure this sculpture used to be on the GAP trail, just south of (Little) Boston PA.


(this picture seems to show the sculpture being moved from Boston PA). I believe the duck is the work of Pittsburgh Artist of the Year 2009, Tim Kaulen.

I've had the notion that prior to the GAP in Boston it was previously at a Pittsburgh children's facility, possibly a school for the deaf, but I can't find anything on that.


Back on the bikes inbound; saw RC & Donna. Over to the North Side, saw Yale. Great day for a ride.