Type 2 Diabetic. Bike tour guide. #NextBurgh Flâneur.   Coffeeneur.    Errandoneur
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Irish Pennants, Coffee and Rain Cape Ride : 28 miles

10/02/11 28miles 43F
The weather was sketchy - 43F, rainy and windy - but I haven't ridden in a few days, Monday-Tuesday don't look promising, and I needed to pay my respects to Rule 5.

I started my ride today under the Birmingham Bridge at Southside Riverfront Park. It was raining and I wanted a sheltered place to prep the bike and put on my kit before setting off, and the bridge overpass was the only trailhead I could think of that provided a roof over my head.

43 degrees (rain and wind) was a new recent low temperature for riding, so I wore the UnderArmor shirt, a jersey (mostly for the pockets, I love jersey pockets), my winter bike pants (water/wind-proof in the front, breathable in the back), wool socks, shoes instead of sandals, and my lightweight full-finger gloves. Instead of a rain jacket I went with the rain cape, which is a non-standard item in Bike Burgh but very widely used in places like England, where it rains a lot and they ride bicycles a lot.

"Irish Pennants" is a pejorative nautical term, seconded as a military term, meaning loose threads blowing in the wind. Originally from the British Royal Navy, it is based on the King's negative view of Irish partisans.

Usually warships treat their pennants, or small flags, with great respect. A pennant would never be used if it was worn or threadbare. A British officer, seeing loose threads in a ship's rigging (or later, loose threads on a uniform) would harrumph and call attention to the "Irish pennants", casting an aspersion on the poverty and poor military bearing of my ancestors the Irish, God rest their souls.

Not an Irish Pennant. Seriously. This loose thread is an Irish Pennant

As soon as I came upon the Hot Metal Bridge, with its display of 4000 brassieres to promote awareness of breast cancer, all I could think of was Irish Pennants blowing in the wind and the absolute conniption this sight would induce in your average drill instructor.

Personally, I don't know that our booby-obsessed culture needs any help supporting reinforcing the role of bosoms, and I suspect this has more to do with American Eagle's rollout of their new product line designed to objectify high school girls, but hey - whatever. Here we go Steelers, here we go...

After the Hot Metal Bridge, I rode north along the Jail Trail, Ft. Duquesne Bridge, Casino Trail to the Bastille. By that time my fingers were getting pretty cold. I should have used my warmer Marmot gloves but I left them back in the car. While reflecting on the self-imposed tragedy of my cold fingers, I realized I could now add one item to my List of Things that Cannot Help Me, reprinted here for the unfamiliar few.
List of Things that Cannot Help Me
  • runway behind me
  • altitude above me
  • vertical separation that I didn't maintain
  • digital files on my hard drive at home
  • new: gear I left in my car
It particularly galls me to not be carrying something I own and need in light of all the bags strapped on my bike.

From the Bastille I rode to the 31st Street Bridge, then rode to Lower Lawrenceville and Espressa A Mano. I had a hot chocolate and a scone, a nice warmup, and sucked at the wifi trough. I like that place. Back on the bike, Penn to 24th Street, the Strip Trail to the Point, the Mon Whorf Trail (with a few people living there wrapped in blankets), the Jail Trail again, Hot Metal Bridge, SouthSide and Baldwin Borough Trails to the junkyard, back to Southside Works, and back to the car. 28 miles.

The rain cape worked well, the interior chest loop and thumb loops kept it from being displaced in the wind, and for a high-viz presence it can't be beat. I was pleasantly warm (not too warm) and quite dry underneath it.

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