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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Hard Ride after a Few Days Off

7/26 225 0 miles
7/27/11 #227 32miles

After having had a few rides recently that weren't full-out efforts, Wednesday was a hard ride with M. We planned to rendezvous at the Western Penitentiary, and uncharacteristically I arrived early and had time to sort through my gear and to swap some new supplies into my trunk bag.

I had recently discharged my Big Air canister into a rider's flat rear tire, and as I put a new BigAir into my bag I saw that it contained liquid propane rather than the compressed CO2 that I expected. Two thoughts come to mind: (1) really, this is an $8 hand grenade, and (2) there's a nice lady riding around on a rear tire filled with propane, and I hope that doesn't go wrong.

We rode past the Casino and out along the Allegheny River to the 31st Street Bridge, and then took the Strip Trail and the Mon Whorf Trails to the Jail Trail, to the Hot Metal bridge detour.

As we joined Second Avenue and climbed up Junction Hollow to Fifth we were motivated (by age-envy) to drop a 19-year old who was probably unaware of us. We were certainly out of breath at the top of the hill. After the chest-heaving subsided we tooled along Fifth, Wilkins, Shady, and Forbes to the Squirrel Hill Starbucks.

If I were to design a perfect day, it would include the Squirrel Hill Starbucks. (I am still grieving over the closing of Kazanski's Deli). After enjoying cold drinks we made our way to ProBike's location on Forbes.

I am enamored of Ambridge Bike Shop, but if I lived in Squirrel Hill I could see myself frequenting ProBikes. I found they stocked a German rear-view mirror I've been looking at online, so I ended up buying it there. They had several woman customers picking up repaired bikes, and one female wrench behind the counter.

Their staff made oohhh-ahhhh noises about my bike accessories, which was very good for my bike's self-esteem. They did not have the new Topeak iPhone dry-bag in stock (alas).

Coming out of ProBikes we joined traffic with a young hipster, a skinny youngster on a single-speed, and so we stayed with him for a while and then rode through Regent Square (which I'd never seen before, it's like the Beaver of Allegheny County) to access Frick Park. We road the Nine Mile Run Trail to the Duck Hollow Trail.

At the end of the Duck Hollow Trail, some people have been known to carry their bikes across the five active train tracks, and as we approached it a train maintenance crew was getting underway and they very kindly waited to allow us to cross first.

I was on the verge of getting home late or dinner, so we made good time on Second Avenue to a point north of Bates Street, then took the Jail Trail and the Casino Trail back to the cars.

This was a really nice, hard ride.

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