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

Monday, October 5, 2015

Autumn Bike Lights

10.05.2015 9m
Two bike activities today: riding and working on my bike-lighting given the shortening daylight.

I started at 18th Street/ SouthSide River Front Park. Hot Metal Bridge to the Point. It was such a pretty day that I kicked back on the stonework and chilled for an hour. It was almost beach weather, sunny and 70F. I like Pittsburgh's fall (and spring) weather so much.

Departed Downtown via Second Ave, took the 10th Street Bridge, stopped at Thick Bikes to order a small piece: a cadence magnet for the crank arm. Continued back to River Front Park.

Light-wise, I ordered and received a new battery and charger for my tail light, which is a Design Shine DS500(build 3). This is the brightest tail light I've ever seen. It generates between 60 and 800 lumens (for daylight use). They're currently out of stock but expect more in October.

People familiar with the DesignShine seek ways to describe the brightness. One owner made this video to contrast the DS with the rising sun (drivers pointed at the sun often use that as a reason for running over cyclists)

I bought an MJ-6038B battery, which is a 7.4V li-ion unit with 5600mAH. I've had the light running for about eight hours now at full strength and it's still going full blast. Very impressive. I usually get two years out of one of these batteries, and I try to get a new one at the start of winter riding.

For a less expensive but very bright tail light, I recommend the Cygolite Hotshot Pro 80 USB with 80 lumens for about $50, and the L&M VIS 180 with 70 lumens for about $100.

For my headlight I'm running the Cygolite Expilion 850 which retails for around $140. I like the light and the mounting bracket a lot.

I think lights and tires are two areas where it makes sense to buy really good equipment. It's wonderful using Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and just not getting flats, and it's really nice to have sufficiently bright lights to see where you're going and to be seen by drivers.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

#Coffeeneuring 2015-1 Wedding Party PhotoBomb

10.03.2015 28m
Today started off as a cold, dismal, rainy Saturday and later in the day it stopped raining. I started at the Bastille, met a few friends on the trail, then rode over to Thick Bikes to pick up a rear-view mirror I'd ordered. Thick Bikes has hosted a coffeeneuring session earlier in the morning, I think that's so very cool of them.

I saw Bob-H and sang Happy Birthday to Maggie and him. They had a negative experience with deep soft gravel on the Southside Trail, which is sporting some railroad improvement work.

Rode to Big Dog Coffee 2717 Sarah Street, SouthSide Pittsburgh for a Mocha Blanca: white chocolate caffeine goodness. #Coffeeneuring 2015-01 on Oct.3 2015, 28 miles. So excellent.

Coming across the Hot Metal Bridge I overtook a wedding party and photobombed the picture taking:

I was involved in escorting a large group on a cycling tour, it was an impressive lineup of bikes:

As we transitioned from the NorthShore Trail onto Washington's Landing via the switchbacks, I got to photobomb my second wedding party of the day:

One of our groups went through the southside and A. had a harsh experience with the soft gravel at 2nd Street.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Valley Brook Road Bridge #2

10.02.2015 30m
Met my friend R at Montour MP24. We rode through the National Tunnel, the new bridges at Tandem Connection, and out to Valleybrook Road - for the first full day of the soft opening of the Valley Brook Road #2 bridge.

Rode out to Starbucks for caffeine. Busy place. Continued eastbound on the Montour Trail to scope out next week's closure on the Arrowhead Trail between Sugar Camp Rd and Brush Run Road; it was well marked. Kind of cool that Peters Township is doing the resurfacing.

Reversed and went back across the Valley Brook Road bridges. So awesome.

Met Ron-P from Hopewell, riding from DC back to home. This is the flaw in Allegheny County's bike routing: from the GAP in McKeesport, Ron-P was riding the Montour all the way around to Coraopolis and RouteA back to home, because there's no way to get from Station Square to Coraopolis. You'd think they'd want a transient cyclist to pass through the economic break-basket.

Rode out to check the Route 50 bridges and road realignment. Absolutely brilliant. Still under construction.

Back in the car, into Pittsburgh to take a Coffeeneuring poster to Cafe d'Amore. They already had one! So very cool.

Dropped off posters at 61B (and 61C). Met Yale and rode to Taza D'Oro to deliver another poster. Yale took me to see Olive & Marlowe which is an amazing little boutique selling olive oil and vinegar. Took a loop around Highland Park. Great day for cycling.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

4121 Main : Who Knew?

9.30.2015 23m
Parked by the Bastille and started riding into town. Encountered an amazing flow of people going to the baseball stadium; last night's game was rained out, moving today into an impromptu double-header. Lots of people walking to the stadium and wearing black-and-gold.

Rode east in the Strip to Kindred Cycles to drop off a #Coffeeneuring poster. Climbed up to Polish Hill to deliver one to Lili's Coffee. Descended and then climbed up Liberty and Penn to Constellation Coffee.

Next on my list was 4121 Main, a coffee shop I'd never heard of. In fact, I didn't know Pittsburgh had a Main Street, shows what I know. Why haven't I known about this place earlier? Beautiful space, lots of light, very nicely done.

Continued along Bloomfield, dropped off posters at East End Book Exchange and The Big Idea Co-op BookStore and Cafe. Both places, nice people.

Putzed around Shadyside, Fifth, then went back inbound and descended via Panther Hollow. Saw a largish group of cyclists with Mikhael and Stef on the front, I'm thinking it was the Wednesday night PMTCC ride out of OTB. I'd like to make that ride a routine thing; I haven't been there since last year. Great people.

Back to the Northside while the second game was underway. Lots of cars but everybody was playing nice. Great day for a ride after all the rain.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Coffeeneur 2015 Poster Run

9.28.2015 Monday 22m

Parked at the Bastille after the rain stopped. Rode Hot Metal Bridge to Southside. Stopped to deliver Coffeeneuring posters at BigDogCoffee, Joe's Coffee, Thick Bikes, Delanie's Coffee, Espresso A Mano, Iron City Bikes.

Saw this car wrapped in CAUTION tape, with a nice cutout for the parking sticker so they wouldn't get a ticket.

3526 Butler Street, by Jeremy Ramer

Stopped at Kraynicks for an egg-cream, saw the saddest thing ever.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Homeless Colorforms and an Errant Autopod: What Belongs, What Doesn't; Who Decides

9.25.2015 44m
Started off in Pgh, met R. under the Birmingham Bridge. Although the mission was to ride out on the GAP and intercept MA, we had time for coffee and stopped at Big Dog. Wonderful / excellent as always.

Rode out through SouthSide and the Waterfront when R's phone rang and he needed to get home. Continued solo.

Reached Boston PA by the green boxcar, our designated muster point. Got to chill for a bit while MA rode inbound. I've been having a creaking noise in the general vicinity of my bottom bracket, so to eliminate some causes I lubed the chain and then the pedals, but the creaking persisted.

MA arrived and we stopped for more coffee at the Boston Shoppes Tea Room.

Rode into Pittsburgh. Had an essential Pittsburgh experience: my friend Bryan saw/heard me coming by and caught up to say, wow what's your bottom bracket doing? I love that.

Rode to the Point. Saw two young, apparently middle-class white folks, maybe college students or Uber drivers, taking a nap in the park. It was a beautiful afternoon. A lovely scene.

This is (sorry) my recurring mind-irritant: how much would you have to change to make them objectionable homeless people, whom the authorities would tell to move along? Imagine if we had Public Space Colorforms™ we could use to modify the situation and then be able to calculate the exact tipping point between "acceptable Privilege taking a nap" and "unacceptable HomelessPerson who needs to be sent away"?

I'm afraid the easiest marginal change for the tipping point would be to make their skin a bit darker, make their clothing a bit frayed, and remove the trappings of class and economic status. Arghhh.

Out along the south bank of the Allegheny to the Convention Center (where the waterfalls and rainbow were working!) Inbound along the Penn Ave bike lane, where we encountered this:

These Autopods aren't supposed to be in the bike lanes. This one had a mechanical failure and was sitting in the bike lanes. Argghhhhh. They're not bikes. They don't meet the PA definition of an ebike. They don't meet the definition of a pedicab. Somehow, the local company that makes and sells them tells people they're street legal and I think that's completely false. (They probably do meet the Fed standard for ebikes, but they weigh too much for the PA ebike definition).

I don't care about one Autopod. But I don't want gas-powered Vespas, or very light motorcycles, or golfcarts in the bike trails. Don't want a bike-framed hot dog stand slowly riding along the bike lane and stopping when somebody wants a Hebrew National (my fave). Don't want the Beer Peddler in the bike lane. If we/they don't enforce standards, it's a slippery slope!

And so here I am, stuck twice on: what belongs and what doesn't? And I have to admit my own preferences are showing.

At the end of the Penn Ave bike lane, we transitioned across Market Square, PPG Place, and the Smithfield Street bridge. Out the Southside trail to the marina, then went over to OTB for lunch. I was amazed that MA hadn't had anything to eat outside of a muffin when he was sixty miles back.

Great ride. It was a treat to get to show off Pgh. And like all cyclists, I was left at the end of the day wondering about the clicking sound in my bottom bracket.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


9.23&24 64m
Met MA in Cumberland MD, a bit late in the day - we got started around 4.20pm heading uphill. We arrived in Meyersdale four hours later (time), after pedaling for 3+01 (bike time)

MA showed me some parts of his kit. He was rocking a Vargo Titanium Decagon stove, which is an elegant piece of gear.

It was a great ride. I did get bit by a wasp a few times before I killed it. We paused at MP9, and paused at MP16 but didn't climb the switchbacks into Frostburg. We finished the last forty-fivish minutes in the dark, which was kind of fun.

M-A had purchased a new headlight at Performance on the drive to Cumberland and had charged up the battery in his car. Puts the headlight on the bike and: no lights! You'd think this was a bug, but the manufacturer thinks it's a feature - the light has a locked-off function to prevent unintentional discharge in your bike bags. Problem is, it comes out of the box locked off and there's no explicit info on the setting. So you can google it and find out what others have learned, but that seems like a fail.

Pulled into Meyersdale late at night. Rode down the hill into Morguen Toole. Ate dinner before cleaning up to avoid keeping the staff over-late. Excellent meal.

photo by M-A

We both stayed in the hostel room, we won the occupancy lottery and had it to ourselves. It's a funny, rambling old building that we pretty much had to ourselves.

The next morning we had breakfast at the world-famous GI Dayroom. We futzed with our stuff and started riding up. the. damn. hill to the trail. There was a dozen people waving and cheering and shouting, which we thought was very nice of the local citizens to undertake on our behalf, but it turns out there was a marathon (and half-marathon) on the trail.

We split at the trailhead; MA rode west to Pittsburgh, and I rode east to return to Cumberland. Headwind on my segment. Tremendous visibility at the Savage Vista. I enjoyed a thermos of coffee from GIDayRoom. The descent was glorious, and I eschewed the Frostburh stop to keep moving into town.