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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Utility Bicycling: Running Errands



12/13/11 #237 35m 40F
Rode 35miles in 40F, running some errands by bicycle rather than in a car. This was utility cycling, Serious Cycling with a Purpose damn it, so I tried hard not to enjoy it but I screwed up and had a great ride.

I've had some problems recently using my helmet cover to keep my head warm, it's essentially a shower cap that builds its own moisture zone and it hasn't been effective, I've ended up with salt burning my eyes. Today I dug out one of last winter's new geegaws, a Halo Anti-Freeze, and it made for a much more pleasant ride.

I started at the Manchester Bastille, and rode the trails to Millvale, took the 40th Street Bridge, Butler Street to the 60th Street bridge, and then Main Street in Sharpsburg and Freeport Road to the Water Works complex.

Stopped to run my errand, which was a pickup at Barnes and Noble. Currently BikePgh has a forum theme on whether stores are permitting bicycles inside, I can report that I had no problem bringing my bike into B&N, a quick right turn inside the double doors and there was a place to park the bike. I did not ask permission, because I strive to not ask questions that I don't want to hear answers to.

My next errand was in Squirrel Hill, so I stopped enroute at Performance Bikes in Bakery Square and bought some more SmartWool socks, they usually only have a few pairs in my preference, so I scored two pair and got back on the road.

Rode over to Squirrel Hill, enjoyed the climb, and then I really enjoyed the descent out of Squill on Forbes. At Frick Park I was surprised to see a significant sheet of ice in the gutter for about a hundred yards.

Took the Nine Mile Run Trail to the Duck Hollow Trail, and on the Duck Hollow trail I was surprised to see another of the new trail markers (see above). I'm glad to see they're staking out the perimeter trails. I hope to see 10- and 20-mile markers on the GAP.

The sun was setting so I took Second Avenue to the Jail Trail. There's a lot of cyclists out on the Jail Trail at sunset sporting some really effective lighting rigs, I was really impressed. I think I passed by local commuter and bike-guru Kordite in the dark.

As I was crossing into Point State Park I saw a labor protest at Gateway Center, about 25 people chanting What Do We Want? A contract / When do we want it? Now! I wanted to stop and see what it was about, but it was dark and I needed to wrap up the ride.

It was seriously dark as I came across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge and proceeded along the Casino to the Bastille. At one point, I was fairly blind in terms of forward visibility because of a flood light in one of the industrial yards, and I almost intercepted a bike Ninja — black clothes, no reflectors, and no lights. Fortunately, I was able to hear him talking on his cellphone, and I pulled over to the side and slowed down just before he appeared out of the glare.

It was a magnificent ride, especially so because of the time of year.

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