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Friday, November 16, 2012

Faith, Going Bald, Flocking

11/16/12 34M
Friday was Light Up Night in Pittsburgh, a faith-based holiday grounded in the belief that if the Chamber of Commerce announces that the Shopping Season starts on Nov16th instead of Dec1st, then people will begin shopping much earlier;furthermore, those silly people will spend at the same rate over time, resulting in a higher total sales revenooo.

One of the things I really like about this new type of faith-based holiday is it seems to be much more inclusive. Back in the day, there was a major display in the public space called the Hornes Christmas Tree, which was displayed outside of Hornes Department Store - a place very similar to Higbee's. The progression of our enlightenment is such that the very same artifact is now known as the Highmark Unity Tree which is a step forward on two fronts: (1) eventually, everything in Pittsburgh will start with the words [UPMC, Highmark, BlueCross, Pitt, Steelers, Pirates] and (2) I think that Unitarians are a much more inclusive, welcoming, and non-judgmental belief community. (seriously, actually)

I think that selling economic concepts like Light Up Night is what Mr. Laffer did for a living after Mr. Reagan forgot about him; but enough about me.

Met S. at the Bastille at 1300. I was very surprised when taking my bike off the bikerack to find a stripe of blue running along the centreline of my rear tire. On inspection, turns out my rear tire was bald and worn down to the point that the inner blue anti-puncture layer was exposed to the surface.

The front tire, same make/model, went on the bike at the same time, and it looked much better. I was quite surprised at how the rear tire had worn out much faster, and I was a bit disappointed since the Schwalbe Marathons are reputed to be puncture-proof and long-lasting. My lesson-learned was that I have not been doing a very thorough pre-ride inspection all along.

I've checked my log, I put the tires on March 20, 2012. Since then, I've had one flat on both tires, major nail puncture, and I've ridden 5,330 miles. When your rear tire completely wears out and your front tire still looks great, it can only mean one thing: I've got a big ass well-established center of gravity (CG).

Deviated from the planned ride and went straight to REI to replace the tire. Mentioned the assymetrical wear to the REI-dude, who said "Wow, you must be producing a lot of power" with a smile. I just love that guy.

This is the rationalization syllogism, aka Since3, works:
  • Since it was cold outside and I was at REI, I asked them to mount the new tire.
  • Since I don't like to look over a worker's shoulder I went upstairs.
  • Since the winter sale was on, I purchased a SmartWool baselayer, top and bottom.

Met world-famous local bicylist, 'bent rider, and code writer RedDan outside REI and that was a real treat, he's a very nice gentleman. Rode down to Keystone Metals and back. Stopped at Mongolian Grill for something to eat, glommed a helium balloon and tied it to the back of my bike for the Flock Ride.

Rode to Oakland via Hot Metal Bridge and Bates Street which was fun, and not as much work as it used to be.

Took a picture of this mural, beach balls falling down a spiral staircase, at Halkert Street and Fifth Avenue. This was done by Will Schlough, who also did the Escher-esque mural "Connected". This doorway was part of the "Doors of Oakland" art project, run by the Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID). This image using the mural as an opportunistic backdrop is kind of interesting. I'm thinking that the August Wilson doorway at the Forbes Ave. Starbucks is probably from the same project.

Rode through Oakland to the Carnegie Museum to Dippy the Dinosaur to muster up for the Flock of Cycles November ride, which occurs in the dark this time of year - kind of perfect for Light Up Night, and there were all sorts of lights on bikes.

S. had blinking fiber-optic cable wrapped around her bike frame and (red and green) mini-lights attached to her spokes. I think the coolest in-the-wheel lighting was the MonkeyElectric M210's that Sara and George had mounted, extremely visible and way cool.

Nov.19th edit to add:Just got this picture from Sarah, it shows a bunch of bicycles with higher-than-usual quality rear lights (these are bike geeks on a night right), and my recently delivered Design Shine tail light. There's at least a dozen other bicyclists with rear lights in this photo:

The Flock ride was cool. For me, it's a session of socially-enforced good behavior - stopping at lights and stop signs, etc. It's a good influence on me. I do think the ride tends to take the street when we should probably only take a lane, and I wonder if - although the Flock is so much less-confrontational and better-behaved that a Critical Mass - there isn't room to be more effective by not tying cars up behind us. I need to think that through.

By 8pm it was pretty cold, the Flock rides are quite slow in accordance with the no-drop policy and the major stereo-blaster trailer the lead pulls around, they make about 6mph and it's hard to stay warm at that effort level. We departed the group at 8.30 at the Hot Metal Bridge and proceeded north on the Jail Trail, expecting to get across downtown before the Light Up Night crowd became to LUN-y. Bad assumption.

We tried crossing the 6th Street bridge which turned into a human gridlock. If it had been warm, better music, a younger crowd, and a lot more drugs it would have made a great rave but as it was it was a bunch of people shuffling like OompaLoopas trying to move forward to the sound of a coverband with two people pushing very well-lit bikes through the gridlock. Never. Do. That. Again.

Got across the bridge, and got to the Casino as the fireworks went off behind us. Back to the vehicles that were still there and glad for heaters in cars. 34 miles and a very nice ride.

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