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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Any Day You Can See the Ocean is a Good Day

12.23.2014 20m
Rode on LungAyeLan today. My first mission was to pick up a nephew from school, so I strapped his bike onto the back of mine and rode over.

Definitely got a few squinty-looks from the HelicopterMoms in their vans and SUVs (which is, I think, a vehicular mixed metaphor). Then I rode back with the 4th grader.

Got out again and rode from Wantagh down to Jones Beach, which is one of the prettiest beaches in the world until they let New Yorkers into it. Pretty much had the route to myself.

Any day you can see the ocean is a good day. Got a phone call while I was near the Jones Beach ampitheater and ended up spending about :45 watching the sunset and nightfall, then when my conversation was done I had a major dark ride back north, which was very nice. 20 miles.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Crossing Guard Appreciation Day

10.22.2014 1/3m
I had major plans for today, starting with Crossing Guard Appreciation Day for the morning rush, an event at the City-County Building at noon, and the afternoon Crossing Guard Thank-You Tour.

But I was called out of town on Tuesday and thought I'd lost my opportunity for Crossing Guard Day. I picked up my nephew at school in Wantagh NY, and - shazam - crossing guard! So I got to thank two crossing guards, and I'll have to make it up in Pittsburgh another time.

I got to ride with my nephew, got to reinforce the bike to school theme, and got to meet two NewYork crossing guards.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rough Diamond Trail and Braddock GAP Connection

10.19.2014 28m
In the beginning, the plan seemed dubious - parking on the North Side by Western Penitentiary (aka the Bastille) and riding out to Homestead (and returning) on a Monday evening in the same hours as a Steelers home game. But it worked out really well.

Started at the Bastille, rode through the South Side. Stopped at REI because I'd been given an REI gift certificate of unknown value and I wanted to ask them to scan it. I have often thought it would be a great prank to give somebody a giftcard without any money in it, because: awkward and maybe they don't say anything about it, and that would be fun to watch. But I wasn't being played (which would have been hilarious, hoisted on my own skewed petard) and it was actually a very generous gift so: wow.

Rode to the Waterfront, took the Homestead Grays Bridge into town, and rode to my mission d'jour: the monthly meeting of the Steel Valley Trail board. One of the topics was close to my heart, extending trail access into Braddock and I would love that so much.

Visitors from Westmoreland County and the Murrysville Trail Alliance came to talk about the Rough Diamond Trail which is a fascinating vision and a tremendous opportunity. Roughly, it's a quasi-diamond shaped trail network around Pittsburgh. You wouldn't have to ride to DC, you could just ride a big circuit around the metro area.

The Rough Diamond Trail Project from Ryan Bair on Vimeo.

That was really interesting, and there were a few other points mentioned that I haven't heard of before. I love a meeting of a dozen-plus people and 5 arrived on bikes. There was a stack of new Trail Books, Tenth Edition, and I found a picture of this guy making his debut as a male model (page 232)

Departed with YC for a dark-ride back to the Hot Metal Bridge. Encountered Mikhael rocking a pretty new red folding bike, getting some miles in after work. They rode with me up to the Bastille. Coming around the football stadium, you could hear the people chanting some two-syllable shibboleth. For a while I couldn't discern it, then I thought: it can't be SiegHeil can it, then I realized it was DeFense, DeFense. But it wasn't very dissimilar.

No problem at all riding around the stadium during the game. 28 miles, great ride.

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.