Type 2 Diabetic. Cyclist Flâneur.   Coffeeneur.    Errandoneur
A bike / map geek with a gadget obsession and a high-viz fetish.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

NYC Five Boro Bike Tour Register on Tuesday


The Five Boro Bike Tour, America's largest bicycle event with 30,000 riders, takes place Sunday May 2nd. The FBBT routinely fills up early.

Online registration opens this Tuesday at 10:00.

Locally, Venture Outdoors is offering a transport-and-lodging package.

I think it's cool to ride on New York City highways and to ride across the Verrazano Bridge, which seems to be the big "hill" on this 42-mile ride.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pittsburgh Northside Trail Detour, February - March 2011

According to Friends of the Riverfront,
a portion of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail along the North Shore will be temporarily detoured from February 1st to April 1st 2011. The detour is necessary to repair and replace deteriorated surface concrete on the trail in front of PNC Park.

I do appreciate the effort that's being put into announcing trail closures and publishing and marking the detours. There was a similar great response at the recent (and ongoing) trail closure on the Jail Trail at Bates Street.

I guess the good news is, they've picked the best months to do this.
Also: April is only 8 weeks away!

Sat Jan 29

Sat 1/29 Miles this week: 11 Miles this quarter: 57 miles this year: 57

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10-13 Pittsburgh Bike Patrol

11 miles, 35F

Nice ride, warm and during daylight, first ride in quite a while. A lot of grit on the road, a lot of snow on the shoulders so I was in the lane a fair amount.

A bike unit police officer was struck by a car in Pittsburgh this afternoon around 2:45 p.m. at Penn and North Atlantic avenues in Garfield.

First, he/she is awesome for being a police officer.
Doubly awesome for being a bike riding police officer.
Trebly awesome for being on the street, in traffic in January - sure, you see them in July and you think, sweet gig, ride a bike around town. Seems like it's not just a fair weather job.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the officer, and I hope they're back on the bike soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bike Tour Planning on a Cold Snowy Day

1/21 220#

People develop hobbies and sometimes those hobbies take hold of them. They can become an obsession that interferes with work and family. People with this affliction will get all excited when their hobby magazine or catalog comes in the mail.

Watch a geek when Wired is delivered, or a hunter when the Cabela's catalog is due. It's not very different from an obsession with pornography, and in fact there is a web-enabled thing called "bike porn". Bike porn looks like this:

I understand bike porn. I believe that I think about bikes the way Ralphie Parker thinks about a Red Rider BB Gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time.

I like to see the different bikes and see how people have outfitted them. I enjoy the unusual, such as belt-drives, electric shifters or 29-inch wheels. I have a folder of bicycle pictures on my hard drive, and one of my favorites is a tandem with a quad-front-chain-ring. It's a thing of beauty.

On a lousy weather day, many bicyclists will indulge in bike porn, looking at touring bikes, pursuit bikes, or snow bikes. Ahh, a Pugsley with studded tires. That's all pretty mainstream. Some people even ogle recumbents (shudder).

I've moved beyond that, in the same way that a wine connoisseur will go beyond choosing by country of origin and start pursuing narrowly defined niches, such as farms that use a particular fertilizer.

On an inclement day when I'm not going to ride but the bike bug is gnawing at my ear, I indulge in "bike tour planning", sussing out possible bicycle adventures for nicer days.

I can obsess about bike trip planning the way some people do their collections. I work the maps and the Google and teh interweb and puzzle out new/better routes for trips I'd like to take someday, and it may be that a small fire could start and I wouldn't notice it. I'd notice a big fire, though. Probably.

Here's my most recent Bike Tour Planning Porn, a circumnavigation of the Chesapeake Bay, 524 miles. Click on the image below if you'd like to see a larger image.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Give Them The Finger Gloves

1/18 222#

Too often, a bicyclist gets mad at a cager (a car driver) when they have an unfortunate interaction on the road. Usually the driver speeds away, all the way up to the next red light; in a few minutes, the bicyclist catches up to the cager, gets their attention (sometimes by tapping the vehicle), and gestures with their middle finger to signal their opinion of the driver.

This is generally a dangerous situation, because (1) drivers object to the middle finger, and (2) the car weighs 3500 pounds and the bike weighs 18 pounds.

A new concept in bicycling gloves promises to change all that; the new Good Day Gloves by Pryme carry a positive, life-affirming message on the middle finger, to help improve the cager-cyclist relationship.

Somewhat related: "Give them the finger", Danny Kaye, in The Inspector General

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1/16 Winter Motivation

art by Stasia Burrington
The hardest thing about riding in winter is making the decision to go put on all those clothes and walking outside with the bike. After that, it's all good.

I read two articles today that remind me why I should ride tomorrow, when the weather promises to be balmy.

Zen and Urban Cycling
   by Junji Miyazawa in Urban Velo

I Used to Ride Bikes. A Lot
  by Matt O’Rourke in Grit And Glimmer

Saturday, January 15, 2011


1/15 18 miles 35F, windchill 20, dry, windy
An excellent ride
Miles this week: 36 Miles this quarter: 46 miles this year: 46
Goal this week: 54 goal this quarter: 108 goal this year: 108

Friday, January 14, 2011

BestBuy, Ortlieb Panniers, A Moral Dilemma

Friday, 1/14, 221#

Didn't ride, went shopping online instead.

Bike Forums is discussing a great deal on Ortlieb Panniers at Best Buy. Generally, those words - Ortlieb Panniers at Best Buy - don't belong in the same sentence.

Seems like Best Buy started selling electric bicycles, and is offering accessories for those electric bicycles. Apparently some BestBuy locations actually have (electric) bicycle sections. I really don't like Best Buy very much, given the way that they advertise laptops and if you indicate that you're not going to buy the extended warranty, the clerks are incentivized to tell you that they've checked but it's not in stock - it keeps their upsell rates within parameters.

Ortlieb Panniers are highly regarded. They're waterproof. water-proof. Your stuff stays dry. The rack-mounting system is considered the best.

I'd probably never buy myself a pair; the rear bags go for $165 "the pair" (as they say), and the front bagsgo for $143 at REI. The full set of four panniers is $305.

I got so excited I drove over to my local BestBuy and asked the youngster guarding the entrance, where is the electric bike section? He looked at me like I was a crazy person. "We don't sell bikes, this is BestBuy" he said. It appears to be a website phenomenon.

According to the BikeForums post, when the BestBuy website sets the quantity to 2, you should reset it to 1, because they come in pairs. The Forum also says that whether you order Black or Yellow, you're probably going to get Yellow.

The BestBuy price is $83 rear and $72 front, total $155 for four Ortliebs. It almost seems like they priced them as single units and they're shipping them as pairs.

Of course, the essence of any scam is the mark's greedy desire to get away with something, and I must admit this is something I'd like to get away with. I already have four panniers, they're Avenier Large Expedition panniers, they're in pretty good shape I think I'd get $100 for the four of them on CraigsList.

Now I'm thinking that I could upgrade to yellow Ortliebs for $50 after I sell my present panniers, and that's working on me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Finally after ten days, 18 cold miles

1/12/11 221#
Finally, after ten days of not riding, I rode 18.1 miles, road, 22F (w/c 9F), intermittent light snow, the last half-hour was dark.

I really didn't want to ride today, I like the windchill to be at or above 15F, but I haven't ridden for ten days and nothing looks better in the forecast for the next five days at least.

But Tanita is a harsh mistress, and the number was 221 pounds this morning, so I knew I'd have to either ride outside or set up my road bike on the trainer and ride inside. I really hate to ride on a trainer, and I hate riding inside so much that I spent a half-hour putting on all the cold-weather clothes and went outside. While I had the illusion of a choice, there really wasn't any decision to make other than going outside.

The roads were slushy or snowy, my water bottle was frozen by the time I got home, the bike worked well, wool is an amazing fabric, the cars were well behaved (I think drivers think you're crazy in the cold twilight and dark, so they stay away from you), and it was a wonderful ride.

Rep. Gabrielle 'Gabby' Giffords, Bike Advocate

1/12/11: 221#
Who Knew?

Things I didn't know about Rep. Giffords:
  • she rides a custom bike with her name painted in lariat-rope-script
  • worked for stronger penalties for car drivers hitting bicyclists as a state legislator
  • member of the Congressional Bike Caucus
  • only member of Congress with an active-duty military spouse (US Navy, astronaut)
  • husband rides a stationary bike while on the space station

Monday, January 10, 2011

Binary, Octal, Crazy Numbers: Rules 5 and 9

A binary date: 1/10/2011
An octal weight: 217 pounds

Crazy Numbers: High Temp 21F, wind chill 6F

I did not ride today.
I really dread riding indoors on a trainer
but if this weather trend continues as expected
I might have to HTFU (see rule 5) and do it. (rule 9).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tour de Cure Pittsburgh 2011

1/09 215#

On cold winter days I think and scheme about warm summer rides, and today I've registered for a Century (100 mile) ride in June. The Tour de Cure Pittsburgh raises fund$ for diabetes research. Last year, the Pittsburgh ride raised $204,316 with over 533 riders pedaling and 120 volunteers supporting.

I'll be riding with Team Red, which consists of diabetic riders. I don't know the team members yet, but the team captain, Mark Yergin, is well known among the Western Pennsylvania Wheelmen, and I think it'll be a great day.

If you'd be willing to sponsor me (for any amount) I'd be grateful, and either way I thank you for thinking about it.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

PIttsburgh Bicycle Video

1/08/10: 216 #
week1 : 10 miles this week (goal: 54) (44 short)
quarter: 10 miles this qtr (goal: 54) (44 short)
year2011: 10 miles this year (goal: 54) (44 short)

StreetFilms travelogue about bicycling and walking in Pittsburgh:

Friday, January 7, 2011

1/7/2011 Five Days No Riding

Haven't ridden in almost a week. Hi temp of 24F, it's just hard to get up for a windchill of 19F.

The hardest thing about riding in the winter is deciding to get started with putting on all the clothes, which takes about twenty-five minutes.

Tights and pants.
Under Armour, wool sweater, short-sleeve bike jersey (for the pockets).

At the bike, check the air, check the light batteries.
The feet get wool socks, shoes, and neoprene booties.
The head gets a balaclava, and then the helmet with helmet cover.
Put my glasses/ keys/ cellphone/ honey packets in the jersey pockets.
Put on the windshell jacket. Put on the glasses.
Gloves. Out the door.
Start the GPS, start the computer, double-check the rear lights.

To me, it's a bigger challenge to start getting dressed than to start out the door and up the first hill.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Tires: Vittoria Randonneur Cross from REI


After changing two flats in December and one in January, all on the rear tire, I decided I needed new tires. I wanted tires that were relatively puncture-proof, these were 320 tpi (threads per inch) and took a load of 60-70 psi (air pressure).

I'm used to a higher air pressure, but there were limited options available and this seemed the best.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

First Ride 2011, First Flat Tire. 215 Pounds


Rode 10 miles in 31F. Swapped out all my batteries (first of the month). Intended to ride 18, but I squandered the day and ended up setting out late (1600) which would have moved my ride into darkness - which is OK except my headlight battery wasn't recharged.

So I scaled back the plan to ride an 11 mile course which features two big hills. I had a great ride, it was a pretty, clear day. Clothing was comfortable. About a mile from home I heard a new noise, turned out I had a hole in my rear tire and tube, with air whistling out of the hole.

I rode into a local pizza shop, called my One Above All for a rescue, and she showed up shortly in the car with the bike rack. It was just too cold and approaching dark to be changing a flat tire if I could avoid it.

I've decided to replace my rear tire, it's getting a bit thin and I've had three flats in four weeks on it, and that's getting old. I hope to get a Vittoria Randonneur Cross Tire at REI tomorrow.

Read an interesting NY Times article The Bicycling Paradox: Fit Doesn't Have to Mean Thin.

The article pointed out that cycling is perhaps unique in sports in that body mass isn't necessarily deterministic. It was an interesting read.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Out with the Old, In with the New

214.4# miles/week: 0 miles/month:0 miles/year: 0

People do different things on the occasion of a New Year. Get the tax paperwork together. Put new batteries in the smoke detector. Ride Icycle Bicycle (REI, 1100). Update your Memex bookmarks. Gather with friends at 11pm.

This is my 2010-2011 visual metaphor for "out with the old, in with the new".

It's time to send my well-worn, scuffed up 2010 bicycle water bottles to the recycling center and replace them with fresh new bidons. < cynic >(IF the people in that nice blue truck actually take them to a recycling center and don't just bury them in a landfill because it's cheaper/ easier/ greener.)< /cynic >

I prefer translucent bottles, but my Local Bike Shop (LBS) had white and I think it's important to support your LBS. My LBS is the Ambridge Bike Shop, truly great people there.

I'd feel like an adulterer riding around with water bottles from another bike shop. (or at least, what I'd imagine an adulterer would feel like). But if I were going to stray with a non-LBS water bottle, it would probably be either a CleanBottle or one of these listing Velocio's Seven Commandments. So I'm not too virtuous; I'm staying true but I'm also keeping an eye on the options.

Also, on this very last day of the year I've ridden my 2010 goal of 2000 miles.

It's not a very big number, and a lot of people do an awful lot more, but it was a good goal for me, this year.

My 2011 Riding Goals

jan-feb-mar: 3, 18mile rides per week
3x18=51 per week, 204/month, 604/quarter
end of qtr weight: 205

apr-may-jun: 4x 23mile rides per week
4x23=92/week, 276/month, 1104/quarter, 1708/two quarters
end-of-qtr weight: 195

jul-aug-sept: 4x 26mile rides per week
4x26=104/week, 416/month, 1248/quarter, 2960/three quarters
end-of-qtr weight: 195

oct-nov-dec: 3, 18mile rides per week
3x18=51 per week, 204/month, 604/quarter, 3564/year

Happy New Year.