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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Are you in that much of a hurry? YES I AM

Tues Nov.29 2016 15m
Wed Nov 30 2016 17m
Nov. EOM:393 ytd:2812
Tuesday I parked on the SouthSide Trail and rode around to a bunch of errands. Shadyside, Squirrel Hill. Intercepted YC and we rode Murray and Browns Hill to the Waterfront. Riding northwest into the South Side, crossing Hot Metal Street in the bright-green corridor, an opposite-direction driver tried to kill me.

I'm going straight ahead, in a green-crosswalk with a prominent bike symbol. She's opposite direction and turning left across my path. She saw me in front of her, and did not want to stop so she kept on going. I stopped. I yelled at her, I waved at her, I got ready to get off the bike and run away, and finally she stopped.

The window was open and I yelled to the driver, Are you in that much of a hurry?

"Yes, I am!" was the response. Can't make that kind of stuff up.


Wednesday, rode from the Rez to Beaver, PA which involves a teeny-tiny bit of I-376. Stopped at the Library. Rode to the Y in Rochester. On the way back: Starbucks, because: Christmas Blend. Everybody was very nice. Nobody was in that much of a hurry.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Brilliant Stanwix Dog-Leg

Sun Nov.27 2016, 13m
Nov. mtd:361 ytd:2780
Today was unseasonably mild, about 50F and calm, so I rode myself over to the haircut place and took a standard route home. Great day for a short ride.

Today's Post Gazette (caveat: dense Yinzer comments) carries Adam Smeltz' report of the proposed Pittsburgh on-street segregated bike-lane which is absolutely a brilliant layout, but it may not seem elegant until you recalibrate the scope of evaluation.

The ostensible goal is to connect the GAP from Grant Street to Point State Park. The chosen solution is: a two-way bike line on Fort Pitt Blvd, and then bike lanes on Stanwix Street (maybe both sides, maybe one side), turning left on Penn Avenue, and reaching Point State Park at Penn and Commonwealth.



I suspect that to Pittsburgh cyclists familiar with the area, this may seem like a terrible way for a cyclist riding DC-to-Pittsburgh to get to Point State Park. It's an inelegant yah-tah, a slightly-too-kludgey approach to the Point. And that's true.

Connecting the GAP to the Point is not the only deliverable in this project.

Here's the 2016 layout of City of Pittsburgh bike routes, with the Mon Whorf trail de-emphasized (because it doesn't connect anything to anything)

Let's consider the assets in place in 2016.

  • Great commuter bike route from downtown north-east along Penn Ave.
  • Great commuter bike route along the NorthShore of the Allegheny River
  • Great commuter bike route from Grant Street via the Eliza Furnace Trail
  • Great commuter bike route on the SouthSide Trail.
What's missing from the 2016 bike route chart is a downtown connection, that integrates the Allegheny corridor and the Mon corridor into a connected network. That's the Holy Grail, and that's what this proposal delivers: a bike lane connection from, for instance, the Strip to SouthSide.

Consider again, if you will, the tremendous connectivity delivered by the Stanwix dog-leg:

Consider further: it takes place completely on streets the City Of Pittsburgh owns. No budget crisis in the State Parks (as in, Point State Park) can impair this network.

The Ft.Pitt Bldv - Stanwix - Penn connection is a thing of beauty, a strategic windfall wrapped in a tactical gain. It's like the 2017 bike version of I-579.

The Smithfield Street Switchback may be constructed, and it's a win if it becomes financially possible - but the use of the opportunity is brilliant.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Right-handed gloves and Airlocks

Sun Nov.20, 2016 5m
Tues Nov.22, 2016 4m
Fri Nov.25, 2016 3m
Sat Nov.26, 14m
Nov. mtd:348 ytd:2767
Sunday I had hopes of riding my ECR in the snow. Where I live, there was about 2" of snow on the ground. When I got out to the Montour Trail, there was about a half-inch of snow on the grass and the trail had no snow. The trail was a bit wet and soft, so I took a short ride on that.

The ride was short because: I brought out two right-hand gloves. Sigh. This is what shakedown rides are for, I suppose - identifying the gaps and getting the silly glitches out of the way. My left hand was plenty cold by the time five miles had gone by.

Tuesday I rode 4 miles around Shadyside, running errands.


Friday I rode 3 miles, to the I Made It Market to check out the offerings of Apothecary Muse where were excellent. Saw this document from SupportiveBureaucracy (tagline: be the paperwork you wish to see in the world)



Saturday I spent some time marshalling an intersection for the Dirty Dozen bike event in Pittsburgh. Originally I thought: hey, I'll ride my bike to my assignment. After driving to the top, I thought: no way I'd ride my bike up here. What an impressive thing to observe.

After my DirtyDozen duty I had about three hours, so I drove to the Montour Trail to check out the new thermal hatch on the National Tunnel. Backstory: for years the National Tunnel accumulated thick ice, stalagmites and stalactites during freezing temperatures, from the water leaking into the tunnel. Last year, the Montour Trail closed the tunnel with plywood and: No ice! This is significant because, the ice reduces the service life of the tunnel.

This year, the Montour Trail is conducting an experiment: can they put a double-doorway, like an airlock, at either end of the tunnel and still prevent ice buildup? All the benefits, none of the inconvenience! So they've got sensors measuring internal temperatures.



I really appreciate their approach to problem-solving. If the tunnel can remain open year-round, that's a tremendous thing. It makes me wonder about the Big Savage Tunnel.




Friday, November 18, 2016

Horse Farm AeroPress, Helicon Brewing on the Panhandle

Fri Nov.18 2016 20m
Nov. mtd:314 ytd:2732
I had a chance to ride with RC as he needed to complete his 2017 Coffeeneuring, for which he chose Coffee Without Walls at the Horse Farm on the Montour Trail.


He conducted a bit of a skills demo using an Aero Press, which produced some great coffee. It was like 70F, sunny, a nice day to be outside and feel the sunshine.



Encounted this "good human" sign, showing the distances to trash cans. Very well played.



Came upon a work crew assembling the door covers on the National Trail. They were really very good about letting people pass through their work site.


Apparently, in an ongoing series of experiments, they're experimenting with NOT closing the tunnel for the winter - just closing the opening, and leaving a flexible-plastic thermal barrier in the doorway. This is kind of exciting.

The National Tunnel crew, led by Bill Capp, began closing the tunnel for the 2016 - 2017 winter season. This year we plan to put strip seal air locks at each end to block air flow. If the strip seals (think beer distributor cold room) reduce the air flow sufficiently we will be able to both keep the tunnel open to trail users this winter and keep ice out of the tunnel. Last year closing the tunnel kept ice out, but it also kept out trail users. Volunteers: Joe Lodge, John Kozak, Pete Merther, Tom Prezel, Jesse Forquer, Doug Ettinger, Bill Capp, Dave Oyler

On Facebook, Farmer Troy Bogdan mentioned the soft opening of Helicon Brewery on the Panhandle Trail, in Oakdale where the (now-razed) Purina factory used to be. Apparently before the place was called Oakdale, it was called Helicon. I really like the idea of a trail-side brewery, especially after seeing three of them on the W&OD east of Leesburg VA.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Loss of Celestial Weaving

Nov. 17, 2016 14m
Nov. mtd:314 ytd:2732
I did a little bit of riding in the Strip District. Sad/happy to see the mural at the Pittsburgh Midwife Center, Celestial Weaving Girl, by Lucas Stock, being replaced by their expansion.




Sad that the mural's going away, happy that they're expanding and growing. This is a bit like what happened to Squirrel Convergence on Butler Street, when the new building for Iron City Bikes went up.


This is what Celestial Weaver Girl looked like:



Met Yale. Then we met BN and his brother Jeff, then a few friends of Yale (FOY) showed up, and we had to leave before people would think it was some sort of flash mob.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Alleyway Signs and a Postal Relay Box

Nov.15, 2016 9m
Nov. mtd:302 ytd:2718
Rode with RC again, early-ish in the day, to accompany him on Coffeeneuring Number 6. Parked under the Birmingham Bridge. Rode out the Penn Ave bike lane, then at 16th Street we yah-tahhed right onto Spring Way

So we're riding along in the alley, and conversation turns to: On Penn Ave, we've got bollards and paint and boxes and lots of rules and guidance. Here in the alley, there's No Stinking Rules; there's dumpsters and cars and bikes and people and somehow it all works really well, without any special zones because there's no space for special zones, and somehow pragmatism succeeds in the absence of social structure.

Then we saw this sign:

Even in this slightly stinky alley, progress is being made. The only problem is, at this early stage it's not evenly distributed yet.

Rode up to Polish Hill. My compliments to those that go up there routinely, the place is well named. Went to LiLi's for coffee. Great coffee, great shop. The mailbox outside wins Best Decorated - even if it's not a real mailbox, just a postal relay box.




Sunday, November 13, 2016

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

Nov.11, 2016 16m
Nov.12, 2016 13m
Mov.13, 2016 9m
Nov. mtd:293 ytd:2709
Friday Nov.11, I rode w/Karen from Southside Riverfront Park out to Millvale and Pamela's on Lincoln. Kind of a blowy day, but nice for November riding. Took this photo at PPG Place:


Saturday Nov.12, I met RC at the same spot for his 5th Coffeeneuring ride. We went out to Espresso a Mano in Lawrenceville, which provided an opportunity to see this new mural by Jeremy Raymer.

The woman depicted (twice) is Lina Cavalieri, the muse of Piero Fornasetti.

PieBird Bakery PittsburghSaturday I rode from Lawrenceville to Tazza D'Oro. We planned to ride to PieBird Bakery's pop-up event, pie and coffee from noon until 3pm, but when we walked in at 2pm they were sold out. No Pie For You! So we rode up One Wild Place to Tazza D'Oro, then Penn Ave to Allegheny Cemetery, back down to Butler Street.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Coffeeneuring 2017: Accomplished

Nov 8, 2016 3m
Nov. mtd:255 ytd:2671



Lots of things going on today. I voted. I rode my bike. I completed Coffeeneuring 2016 with today's Coffeeneur 2016-7.



Rode with Karen to Beaver Falls Coffee and Tea Company. Double macchiato and a Wassail.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Orwell's Artifacts, Bike Friendly Deutschtown - Millvale

11.07.2016 22m
Nov. mtd:252 ytd:2668

Today I started riding in Downtown for a meeting. Came across this curiously persistent artifact of Yinzer Times Gone By that only George Orwell (and maybe Rick Sebak) could love: the Horne's Tree. Let's unpack this, shall we?

  • A Christmas tree, which is no longer called by that name ('The Electric Tree'), not to be confused with the Penn Ave Unity Tree.
  • Named after Hornes, a business that no longer exists.
  • Sponsored by a corporation that pays no taxes and exists to profit from arbitraging medical expenses
  • A civic celebration of Light Up Night and Sparkle Season, economic euphemisms for frenzied selling

Rode across the 6th Street Bridge, around Nova Place in order to check out the new East Ohio Street Experience. Reversed and rode the Parking-Protected Bike Lane on East Ohio Street. Very nice.

One way to 'solve' the homeless problem: put fences around areas they might take shelter in.

One year ago - Dec.10, 2015 - there was a Christmas Tree on this spot, and people of Good Will were leaving food and warm clothing for those less fortunate.

Rode from Deutschtown onto the trail along the Allegheny, to Millvale. Saw a sign in Millvale that made me really happy. Now both Deutschtown and Millvale are bike-friendly; that's progress.

Stopped in Millvale to look for some vinyl at Attic Records; no joy. Serendipitously, I came across the soft-opening of a new tea shop in Millvale. Yes, tea shop in Millvale (and apparently an impending presence down the street for Tazzo D'Oro, also). So let me declare: Millvale has popped. The shop is Tupelo Honey Teas, (facebook) bike rack out front, nice people. 211 Grant Street, Millvale PA.

Crossed the 40th Street Bridge, rode to Highland Park in ongoing pursuit of a vinyl recording. Still no luck. Took Highland Ave, to Ellsworth, descended via Junction Hollow. Saw R and C.

Back to downtown, and took a picture of the Last Hurrah of the Ginko Trees near Golden Triangle Bikes.



Sunday, November 6, 2016

DC to Meyersdale

11.01.2016 5m
11.02.2016 60m
11.03.2016 52m
11.04.2016 53m
11.05.2016 50m
11.06.2016 10m
Nov. mtd:230 ytd:2646
To most folks, a relative's one-way moving truck rental is kind of a nuisance; you still have to get back home. But to a cyclist, a one-way rental is an opportunity to throw your bike in the back and ride your bike home. On Tuesday Nov.2nd, I drove a rental truck down to Richmond, VA. Rode around Richmond, met a friend for dinner, went to one of the "two" Amtrak stations in Richmond - Staples Mill is the Amtrak station with RORO bike service.

Of course, the bike service is available on the 0430AM departure to DC. I don't know that I've ever spent the night in a train station before. Kind of quiet.


Disembarked Wednesday morning at DC's Union Station, in the last stages of morning rush hour. Riding in DC is tremendous! I rode Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and then M Street out to Georgetown. Instead of starting on the C&O, I took the Key Bridge, the Custis Trail, and the W&OD out to Leesburg. I really like this route. Stopped at Green Lizard Cycling and Coffee for espresso, and in Leesburg for a late lunch.

There's a 5-mile penalty for riding the W&OD to MP36, but it was worth it. I really like that ride. The transition from Leesburg to the ferry wasn't bad. I'm continually bemused at Jubal Early's name on the ferry - he's the architect of the Lost Cause myth of the Confederacy. Those "South Shall Rise Again" memes? Straight out of Jubal Early.


Camped at MP50 after riding 60 miles.



Thursday I rode into Brunswick MD for coffee & breakfast at Beans in the Belfry. Awesome. Rode north. Skipped Shepherdstown and Harper's Ferry, rode into Williamsport. Stopped at Tony's for dinner, and Desert Rose Cafe for coffee. Back on the trail to MP101.

Friday I departed Williamsport. Saw some great demonstrations of stone balancing on the paved WMRT.



Stopped in Hancock. Checked out Blue Goose Bakery & Fruit. It's not really a place to stop on a bike trip, but they do have pie and wine. Breakfast at Weaver's. Rode to Little Orleans; Bill's Place was empty, possibly because of squirrel and turkey hunting season. Back on the trail to the Paw Paw Tunnel.



I'd like to reassert my long-standing belief that the southern portal of the Paw Paw tunnel is the most dangerous place on the C&O. Banked slickrock, on a narrow surface, no guard rail, a steep drop into a slimy creek. Could be a lot better.


I learned there's actually two NPS campgrounds on the north side of the Paw Paw Tunnel. The small hiker-bike close to the tunnel is where I should have stayed. The really big campground at MP156 is for groups like the boy scouts who showed up at 2130 and were pretty loud until 2300. But the big lot has cell coverage.

Saturday I departed PawPaw. My plan was: 28 miles to Cumberland, then 22 miles up to the Big Savage Vista. I got there, but it was a lot more work than I'd expected. There was a terrific wind up there overnight, the top of the tent was moving quite a lot. Great sunrise.



Sunday I rode from Big Savage Vista to Meyersdale. Unfortunately, my fave breakfast spot (the GI Dayroom) is closed Sunday, as is just about everywhere else. Sheetz doesn't have indoor seating. The Subway shop had tables and chairs. On a Sunday, outside of the normal season, there's not much out there.


After-Action Report: trying to do 50-mile days, fully loaded, in November's reduced daylight and cold temps, with the election as a deadline wasn't smart. It was a great ride, but it stopped being fun.

  • I got tired of laying down all the time - I was warm enough on the bike, and when I got off the bike I needed to get into my sleeping bag to stay warm. I felt like I was in the hospital, laying down for 12+ hours a day.
  • There really isn't much open in the way of support businesses once the season shuts down - some towns are effectively Dead To Bike Tourists.
  • Being on the trail was a welcome respite from the Election Season.