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A bike / map geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish. by Vannevar Bush       about       /       murals       /       Pgh-DC bike maps new

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pamela's, Park(ing) Day, and the Alternative Energy Juice Box



Fri 9/16/11 #233 23m
An excellent ride today. Met R, J, and G at 0800 at the Western Penitentiary (the Bastille on the Banks). It was 40F as we got underway. I think we all wore full-fingered gloves, I used wool socks and a wool jersey. It was a brisk cool morning, perfect conditions for a ride.

We rode around to Millvale for breakfast at Pamela's Pancakes and to place a few posters for the Pittsburgh premier of Tammy Ryan's play, Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods (Sept 30-Oct 16, Pittsburgh Playhouse). This weekend is Millvale Days, lots of booths and rides and a Ferris Wheel were set up on Grant Street.

Pamela's Pancakes is always a great ride for breakfast and as we came out two bicyclists were coming in to eat; they'd ridden over from the SouthSide. It's great to see the trails becoming an economic driver and kind of funny to see cyclists wearing high-viz outfits making the rounds in an old-school Pittsburgh town.

We rode across the 31st Street Bridge (where I was dismayed to learn that my front derailleur wouldn't shift off the big ring), rode the Strip Trail to the Point, rode the Mon-Whorf Trail to Smithfield Street, the Jail Trail to the Hot Metal Bridge, and then rode to REI-Southside.

We were very pleasantly surprised to see the REI folks were out early with their effort for Park(ing) Day, in which participants turn a (car) parking-spot into a mini-park. Because if it is truly a parking spot, a spot for park-ing, then maybe...

REI generously offered coffee and pastries, and we were living large. We got to meet Darla Cravotta (Special Projects Coordinator for Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato), who's also on the Board of Friends of the Riverfront. (The Jail Trail is considered [by some] to be Darla's second child.)

We rode a few blocks over to see the Park(ing) Spot at Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe (OTB), where they were still setting up their mini-park. It was very cool, it consisted of two parking spots and presented a miniature bike trail.

OTB had a series of bicycle-generators and solar panels driving some inflatables (think front-yard snowmen), a misting station, and a sound system. It was a demo of a new technology from Pittsburgh startup ZeroFossil. ZeroFossil makes the Bikerator, a 250W bicycle powered generator.

They connected the bicycles and solar panels to the aptly named Juice Box, another ZeroFossil product which takes inputs from bike generators, windmills, and solar panels and uses technomagic to output usable electricity, either 12V or 120V. You can even plug your USB phone or camera into the JuiceBox.

It was extremely cool to see a nü-Pittsburgh 2.0 event like Park(ing) Day and a bike-focused place like OTB providing a showcase for an alternative-energy Pittsburgh startup. That was like the total package.

Back on the bikes and we rejoined the SouthSide Trail, the Station Square Trail, the Fort Pitt Bridge and the Fort Duquesne Bridge, and the Casino Trail back to the Bastille.

An excellent ride, a good adventure, perfect conditions. After the ride I stopped at the world's best LBS, Ambridge Bike Shop, and they set my front derailleur right.

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