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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Coffeeneur 2014-5 at the Emlenton Mill, Creamery, & Hostel

10.19.2014 30m
Started in Franklin, PA at 0900 with a group of 12 cyclists in clear, dry skies and about 40F. The transition out of town and onto the Allegheny River Trail was completely uneventful; everybody (in cars) was very cooperative.

The route out of Franklin was much less hurried outbound than yesterday's last segment inbound was for K and I, since we weren't rushing to find a 'loo. It's a remarkably beautiful trail. I've been here once, a few years ago, and there must have been a lot of leaves on the trees then because I just don't remember the tremendous views of the river that I saw this year.

These trail markers for the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail seem like sort of a throwdown, kind of taking the ground. The route for this trail really doesn't hit Pittsburgh and doesn't hit Erie, but it's a magnificent trail that when completed could be every b

Saw this at the southern portal of the Kennerdell tunnel:

As we approached the destination we rode across Emlenton to the Emlenton Mill and Creamery, so as to make this a coffeeneuring event. K, RC and I had coffee in the basement of the old grist mill and we got a fascinating briefing on the machines.

The clothing was on display because it was all sewn from the fabric used in flour sacks. We walked around the Mill and it's really an impressive building, very reminscent of the Rockwood Opera House in scope. They have a hostel suitable for bikers!

Coming back into town, we saw that the bike shop also has Segways, which is pretty audacious. On today's ride through town I saw signs of economic development like you see along the GAP-C&O. Very impressive.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

coffeeneur 2014-4 Franklin, PA Tim Horton's via Allegheny River Trail

Sat 10/18 32m

Started in a group of 16 cyclists in Emlenton, PA, riding on the Allegheny River Trail from Emlenton to Franklin PA.

We parked in the Post Office after checking in, since we were on a Saturday overnight trip. It was very nice of them to accommodate us, and I think we jammed up their parking lot a little.

Weather wasn't terrible, just uncooperative; 55F, raining at times, and a headwind for the last 12 miles.

At MP12, at the south end of the Kennerdell Tunnel, the ladies realized that there was No Civilized Indoor Plumbing until the destination at Mp28 and that put a bit of urgency into their giddyups.

The second half of the ride was a Sprint for Relief, we made great time. After we found a PortaPotty we turned to Other Priorities namely Coffee. Unfortunately, Franklin's coffee shop closes at "two-ish" on off-season Saturdays, and we arrived at 3pm. The hotel staff recommended we try Tim Horton's for Coffeeneur 2014-04, and that worked really well. Coffeeneur 2014-4 was Tim Horton's in Franklin, PA with K, RC, and Alice. Very good coffee and doughnuts. No poutine, faux-alas.

As the final segments of the party were arriving, some were very tired and sought rest immediately.

We met in the lobby for dinner and since it was still raining, opted for the hotel restaurant (which I try to avoid). This one did a very good job, dinner was excellent. 32 miles.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pittsburgh's Hostel Environment: South Side Traveller's Rest (2015)

10.17.2014 24m
Started at the Bastille, rode to the SouthSide. Stoppped at Thick Bikes to consult on a new drivetrain.

My current granny gear is 20tooth in the front and 34 tooth in the back. If the plan persists, I'll end up with 20t/36t which should give me 115 gear-inches instead of my current 16 g-i granny.

I'm also going to get new derailleur pulleys, a Whipperman chain, three new chainrings and a new cassette. Possibly a new set of bearings for the headset. I really appreciate the way the gurus all pitched in with options and ended up at a best-result final outfit.

Rode back up to 600 Bingham to find the location of the under-construction South Side Traveler's Rest

The SSTR is being developed by the same bike-folks that run Green Gears Pedicabs.

This will be excellent when it opens. There's really no lodging near the trail system for itinerant cyclists that isn't very pricey, and a hostel is just what's needed. When cyclists do come into Pittsburgh, unless they've got a fat bankroll they're in town for one day and they're gone. A hostel will let more people stay for a few days.

Between SSRT (Southside Traveler's Rest) in Pittsburgh, the Hostel on Main in Rockwood, and the 9 Decatur hostel in Cumberland MD, and the Adirondack shelters along the GAP in Connellsville and Cedar Creek Park, there's a lot of new options.

Stopped at PitaPit for something to eat. Rode over to the Schenley Quad for the Flock Ride, which included Kristen Saunders, Pittsburgh's new Bike/Ped Coordinator - that's pretty cool to have a city official out on a Flock Ride (on their Surly, no less!)

I was the happy recipient of a gift from John Marko, one of his prototype U-Lock holders, which I hope becomes a KickStarter product soon. Some people wore Holloween costumes, and I had a few people ask me if I was "riding as Builder Bob" but I had to explain: this is just the way I roll.

This photo is by Joyce Wasser, of the Flock Ride circling in Market Square:

It's much easier to circle the Square than it is to Square the Circle.

This was a great ride in the dark, I really like the way the lane lights up with 50-plus rear blinkies doing their best.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rights and Road Equity: Cherokee Schill

10.15.2014 13m
I had an excellent ride to work today. It took me 7 miles to get there (and make a stop), and 6 miles to get home. At times I'm on a 4-lane road, speed limit 55. For a brief few minutes I'm on (what was once) a state road, now designated as an Interstate Highway, because that's the way across the river.

Some places there's a usable shoulder, other places there's not. When I need to be in the lane, I am. (not on the Interstate). The cars around me are consistently courteous and cooperative, and I try to behave that way too.

I was thinking as I rode to work about Cherokee Schill and how much it would be a burden to have an adversarial experience to get to work each day and to keep a job. (Insert observation about penalizing workers who are working for their living and paying taxes; is bike tolerance a part of moving people out of the social safety net?)

Later I came across this story http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2010/10/01/the-cost-of-being-different/ about a Florida cyclist who was continually harassed by police for riding in the lane.

It's vehicular bullying: if it were a bulldozer, or an Amish buggy, or a mounted police officer they'd slow down, take their turn, and behave like humans. But when it's a single vulnerable cyclist and they've got more power because they're in a car and can intimidate with impunity, then they act up. Classic coward bullying behavior, driven by their own insecurity.

I think it's really important to be cognizant of the struggles that are being fought elsewhere, by people doing the same thing as I am.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Espresso Tasting at Voluto Coffee: Pittsburgh Coffee Week

10.13.2014 29miles
Started at the Bastille riding solo on a very mild day. Rode the Jail Trail and Hot Metal Bridge over to SouthSide because: REI.

Departed and rode out to Sandcastle. Saw a car with a mondo camera mast and assumed, Google Maps on the prowl. Wrong! Bing Maps on the prowl.

Also noted a new (to me) gate in the fence abeam of the soft-serve ice cream shop at Becks Run Road, very close to the water plant facility. Always good to know about.

Down to Sandcastle, reversed, Hot Metal Bridge. Up the Junction Hollow Trail, pacing with another cyclist, possibly my best time ever up the hill to Fifth Avenue.

Rode through East Side and back on Penn Avenue to Voluto Coffee, for the first event in Pittsburgh Specialty Coffee Week. This was an espresso tasting and educational briefing, and I learned a lot about top- and bottom-segments in espresso and what that tiny spoon is for.

Also, drinking two espresso's at 7.30 at night, I was wired. Made great time inbound on Penn to the bike lanes, and back to the Bastille.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Coffeeneur 2014-3 Tazza D'Oro also: Sam the Macaw, Palestinian food at Conflict Kitchen

10.12.2014 23m
Coffeeneur 2014 Series, Ride 3: started riding with K at the Bastille on the North Side. As we came around the Casino's riverfront greenspace, saw the Parrot-Bike buy and just had to stop and meet him them.

This is Gary, who owns a bicycle, and Sam the Blue Macaw who rides around Pittsburgh on Gary's handlebars. It was really a treat to meet them.

Rode out to the 40th Street Bridge, up through the Allegheny Cemetary. In Garfield, passed by the new location of the Angel of Garfield installation, but this time I thought to snap a picture. It's so cool that when the new Bottom Dollar building was built, in a place that would have blocked the previous position, the new owners allowed the piece to be moved onto their building.

Continued out to Tazza D'Oro, one of the Top Three Coffee Shops in Pittsburgh (Commonplace-Squill, Taza D'Oro, and Big Dob Coffee being the triumvirate). Wowie wow wow. A baked apple dumpling, a berry pastry, a cappuccino +2 shots, and a pourover of Banko Gotiti coffee from Ethiopia (promising jammy/fruity/berry hints which were very pleasant). So mark this as Coffeeneur 2014 Number3, for myself and K.

Rode across to Oakland and Schenley Quad, to check out Conflict Kitchen's new Palestinian menu.

We split an order of Musakhan (a toasted flatbread w roasted chicken, carmelized onion, sumac and toasted pine nuts) and an order of Rumaniyya (eggplant, lentil and tart pomegranate stew with Arabic bread). Tremendous food.

Down Junction Hollow, the Jail Trail, and over to the NorthSide and Chateau Trail. 23 miles.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Coffeeneur 2014-02: Commonplace Coffee, Squirrel Hill

10.11.2014 25m
Started off parked under the Birmingham Bridge, riding south-east. Noticed that the trees and brush have been cleared away where the SouthSide Trail splits between the riverfront plaza and the (higher) road to Tunnel Park and REI.

Continued through Sandcastle, and at the Waterfront took the ramp up to the Homestead Grays bridge and back northwest on the main drag. Continued to the Bulgarian Macedonian National Education and Cultural Center for their Soup Sega sales of food-goodness.

They have a display of Bulgarian-Macedonian artwork, and I was taken by "Icarus", by Dimitar Kazakov (1980).

There's an interesting background on artwork depicting the Fall of Icarus, and whereas Bruegel's depiction shows it in a context of many mundane activities, this picture shows the crash in the faces of observers who saw a winged man falling out of the sky.

This is Bruegel's depiction, and you'll see Icarus' leg entering the water in the bottom-right corner:

Packed two containers of frozen soup into the panniers and we departed, intent on going to Millvale for Pamela's Pancakes. Rather than staying on the rivers and riding around the Point, we crossed the Homestead Bridge and went somewhat directly, up and over the hills. We went from Homestead to Greenfield and Squirrel Hill, and decided to stop at Commonplace Coffee for Coffeeneur 2014-02.

K had HeartMender Espresso and I had an Ethiopian pourover (hints of crunchberries and cranberry juice) - the coffee is excellent here. (Voted the 11th Best CoffeeShop in America, they will proudly tell you.)

Even more serendipitous, this is the beginning of Specialty Coffee Week in Pittsburgh. Rode through Shadyside and the newly ordained EastSide, on through East Liberty. Stopped at Banker's Supply to check out what's new; K got a cool hat.

Rode across Friendship and Garfield. Very happy to see that the Angel of Garfield panels by Daviea Davis that might have been blocked by the construction of a new building, have been moved to a more prominent position on the new building, a Bottom Dollar store at 5217 Penn.

Descended through the Allghegheny Cemetery, rode through Lawrenceville to the 40th Street Bridge, and over to Millvale. Stopped at Pamela's Pancakes for strawberry crepes, nom nom nom.

Departed on the NorthShore Trail to the 16th Street Bridge, to intercept the Penn Ave bikelanes. Noticed a brand-new, bright green bike box on Penn Ave (inbound at 16th), identifying to cyclists and avid automobilists the transition into the bike lanes. Very very cool.

Riding on Blvd of the Allies, saw Parrot-Bike-Guy for the second time this year. A major bird/bike-watching accomplishment.

Rode to Grant Street and the Jail Trail, the Hot Metal Bridge, performed the pilgrimage to REI because they mailed me a coupon and I think attendance is required. Got a pair of Novarra rain pants.

Departed back to the Birmingham Bridge, rewarded by an intercept by Marko.

25 miles on an excellent weather day.