Type 2 Diabetic. Bike tour guide. #NextBurgh Flâneur.   Coffeeneur.    Errandoneur
A bike / map geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish. by Vannevar Bush       about       /       murals       /       Pgh-DC bike maps new

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dirty Harry's Bikes, Oakmont Bakery, and Lessons Learned

10/29/11 #236 39miles
Rode 39 miles at 35F in 3h15m, which took 5h45m from start to stop, and the difference between the plan and the experience is the story of the day. Today I broke out my MEC helmet cover with kepi, my Marmot glove/mittens, and my UnderArmour and SmartWool layer. (using the theory, 'no bad weather, just insufficient equipment', which derives from the Swedish proverb 'Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder')

Started in snow and 33F at the Manchester Bastille, intent on travelling to Oakmont Bakery for a coffeeneuring reconnoiter. I love the quiet of snowfall but I'm not a fan of what it does to my visibility on the bicycle; bicycles surprising cars is not sustainable.

I rode around the Stadia on the trails and continued to the 31st Street Bridge, crossed the Ohio River and proceeded east on Penn and Butler. Somewhere along Penn the temperature rose and the precipitation shifted to Rain, which was not as peaceful but the visibility really improved.

Travelling along Allegheny River Blvd, just east of Washington Blvd, I had a sudden flat on the rear tire. I assumed it was from glass; I'd been riding in the debris close to the curb, and glass cuts tires more easily when it's wet. I don't know if it's an attribute of the glass or the rubber.

There wasn't a great place to work on the flat tire, and I am loath to turn my bike upside down on the saddle/handlebars, so I laid it across the jersey barriers and guard rails.

I could not identify the hole in the inner tube; it wouldn't hold air long enough for an inspection, and my eyeglasses were not very clear in the rain. I examined the tire and found a largish piece of green glass in the tread and felt confident I'd found the culprit.

I reassembled the tire/tube/wheel and it was all good, and then I learned two things. I carry a can of "Big Air" (which is apparently 20 ounces of propane at 75psi) to inflate the tires after I've used the hand pump, and Big Air gave me two lessons today. Lesson One: When you're threading the inflator device onto your Presta stem, do not over-thread it or it will pull the Presta valve mechanism right out of the stem which is counter-productive.

I was able to reseat the valve, although I was dubious of its longevity, used the handpump to get the pressure up to 60psi-ish, and then I used the Big Air to kick the pressure into the 75psi-range. Lesson Two: When you discharge a Big Air can, it gets very cold as the gas expands. When you are holding the Big Air in your hand, which is quite wet from the rain, your palm will instantly freeze to the canister in an uncomfortable manner. Word.

I got back on the bike and continued along ARB (Allegheny River Blvd), through Verona, and on to Oakmont where I stopped at the Oakmont Bakery. I was expecting a mom-and-pop outfit but this was big business; the retail counter was probably fifty feet long, there was quite a throng and things were bustling.

The selection was remarkable, and I overcompensated for the perceived hardship of the elements and the flat tire by indulging in a bagel, a cruller, and an eclair, along with a hot chocolate and a cafe a lait. I took my repast to the leather armchairs BY THE FIREPLACE and used their WIFI. I had come in cold and wet and this place really did the trick.

I had downloaded an App, Bike Shop Locator, onto my Droid phone just a few days ago and I launched it to see where I might find some help with my rear tire in case the valve was problematic. This was really cool; Dirty Harry's Bikes in Verona was just 1.2 miles away. There is no way I would have known that without the smart phone.

I languished for a while and then went back out into the drizzle; the rear tire was softer, usable but clearly losing air. I rode over to Dirty Harry's, apprehensive at being a transient walk-in on a Saturday afternoon. By the time I got to the shop the rear tire was all-but-flat.

The staff was extremely helpful. I explained what was going on, they directed me to the workshop and John the mechanic, and he interrupted what he was doing to work on the bike. I took a tour of the shop to keep from hovering over his shoulder.

I was completely gruntled. One gentleman urged me to take off some layers and let the heat dissipate, another offered some paper towels to clean my eyeglasses, a third talked to me about local riding and asked how my toes were. They were fantastic.

A customer at the shop had a Surly Pugsly. I'm intrigued at them and I had never seen one in person. I think it would make an awesome snow bike. He offered to let me ride it but I demurred, I didn't want to stretch the hospitality.

John brought the bike out, the valve core was damaged, he'd put in a new tube and also adjusted the brakes because he noticed they needed it. I really appreciated that. Stopping at Dirty Harry's Bike Shop in Verona was a totally positive experience.

I had planned a route to take me across town to the Mon, and although I botched the directions a bit in the middle it was a good ride. I departed Verona along Allegheny River Blvd, and took Route 130 (Nadine Road) away from the river, and turned onto Verona Road.

As I was riding uphill on Verona, my thoughts strayed (to work, of all things!) and I ran over and crushed a broken bottle that I would have seen and avoided if I'd been paying attention. This was (if you're counting) my third flat of the day.

I pulled over (in front of Bonus Tire, inevitably) and worked the front flat. There was a big gash in the tire, and I was able to boot it using duct tape. I took this as a lesson in staying in the moment.

I continued through Lincoln-Lemington via Mount Carmel Road and Blackadore Street, then crossed Homewood North via Frankstown and Oakwood. I took Penn Avenue west across the Busway, and it really is different on the other side of the tracks.

I took South Braddock to Frick Park, and the Tranquil Trail and Nine Mile Run Trail down to the Monongahela. I wanted to investigate the trail segment that goes from Duck Hollow to Rankin, but the sky was dark and the three flats convinced me it would be good to get closer to my car.

I rode the Duck Hollow Trail and Second Avenue through Hazelwood to Greenfield, and then I joined the Jail Trail. The weather really improved while I was on the Jail Trail, the rain stopped and the sky cleared.

Another planned objective was to visit the Occupy Pittsburgh site, but I was down to just a single new tube and I skipped the demonstration in favor of getting to the car. The sun was at about the top of Mount Washington, and I didn't have a flashlight with me (Lesson Three).

From the Point I used the Fort Duquesne Bridge, and the Casino Trail back to the Manchester Bastille. The computer showed 39 miles in 3h19m riding time, which took me 5h45m to accomplish what with the stops- Flat1, the Oakmont Bakery, Flat2 and Dirty Harry's Bike Shop (highly recommended), Flat3, and occasional map-checking in Lincoln-Lemington and Homewood.

It was a fantastic ride. I did not get to ride the 50 miles I'd planned on, I skipped the Duck Hollow-Rankin trail, I skipped visiting Occupy Pittsburgh, but I really did enjoy this ride. And I got to see Dirty Harry's and the Oakmont Bakery.

Week 40
this week:
89 miles
  [4th quarter: 481 miles]    
2011: 3747 miles

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