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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Shermer's Neck

5/31/11 #227

No bicycle riding today; obligations and schedules conspired against me.

Shermer's Neck is named for Michael Shermer, a competitive biyclist (and founder of the Skeptic Society) who developed neck pain and weakness which left him unable to hold his head up.

Michael Shermer grudgingly gave his name to this malady during the 1983 RAAM on his approach to Harrier, IL, nearly 2,000 miles into the race. His head felt heavy and the back of his neck was increasingly sore. He described it as, "a quick melt down." His head dropped, making it impossible for him to look up. Cradling his chin in the palm of one hand with his elbow on the padding of his aerobars, he supported his head well enough to finish the race. Despite excruciating pain during the event, his neck was back to normal within two days.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Muggy Monday Montour Marathon

5/30/11 #230
26m 85F

Rode 26 miles on the Montour Trail late in the day, 6 to 8pm, to avoid the heat. I need to build up some tolerance to the higher temps. It made me wish a bit for the winter - you can always add another layer (if your fingers are working) but you can't always remove one. (and I remember when I was griping for warmth)

Sightings: several cardinals, a loose dog, a near-suicidal rabbit
(953 for the year, 1000 miles soon!)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Forty Mile Sunday

5/29/11 #232
39.9m 3h21m 86F

Rode to work today. I wish, I wish, I wish we had a shower.

Wonderful weather for it, although a bit warm on the way home. I did take a long route home, total of 40 miles. (927 for the year) I certainly went through a lot of fluids. (the comic below seems pertinent)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

65 miles on Montour Trail

5/28/11 #230
65 miles

Rode 65 miles on the Montour Trail in 5h30m riding time, 7h30m start-to-finish time. Excellent ride. Met M,K,R at MP0 in Groveton, rode out to Farmhouse Coffee. Ate lunch and filled water bottles at Subway, got a caffeine hit at Farmhouse Coffee and returned. A very nice day.

Sightings: 1 deer, several Orioles, 2 horses with riders.

5/28/11 Week 21    this week: 71 miles   [2nd quarter: 571 ]    2011: 887

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Pedal Pittsburgh

5/22/11 #224

Rode Pedal Pittsburgh today. I had intended to ride the 50-mile course and see how I felt, maybe add the last ten for the 60 mile course. It is nice to have company for a longer ride and I didn't have anybody to ride with.

I asked my daughter if she wanted to go, and she agreed, so we went for a shorter ride together. It was a blast. It started raining and I suggested we sit it out under a bridge but she wanted to continue riding. After the ride we went out for breakfast in Millvale. The line at Pamela's was prohibitively long, so we went across the street to Lydia's and had a nice meal. I had a great time with her.

Pedal Pittsburgh was well organized and well marked. I saw some very cool bikes, some recumbents and a recumbent trike, and there was a tandem towing a Steelers-themed Dog Chariot with an integrated stereo, it was a very impressive rig.

The great difficulty of the morning was finding a place to park our car, which was sort of a Yehuda Moon lesson.

This was a day for cycling. Whatever happens with Lance, George, Tyler, and Floyd may affect their lives, but it will have no effect on this sort of cycling.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Ride Your Bike To Work Saturday

5/21/11 #230
42 miles LHT

Weather, Schedules, Obligations have conspired to keep me from riding round-trip to work all week, but I had to go in on Satuday, the weather was great, and I got to do it.

I rode to work on a slightly longer than direct, relatively flat route, 17 miles. It's not flat, but it avoids redundant grade, the railroad term for where you do the work to climb to an altitude, then descend and climb up again.

I was reminded of one of the basic principles of railroad engineering. When building a line between points A and B, one should find the highest point between the two and then make a gradual ascent to that point and a gradual descent from it to minimize the cost of operating the railroad. Any deviation from this ideal is referred to as "redundant grade". The energy lost to wind resistance per unit distance (i.e. the force) grows as the velocity squared; this means you won't get nearly as much distance for your hard-earned energy on a rapid descent as you will on a gradual one.

Crossing the Catskills was all about redundant grade. No railroad engineer in his right mind would try to build a line along US 20 in New York State.

The goal is to avoid the up-and-down; climb/descend once, ride level, then descend/climb once.

When my work was done I rode home taking a circuitous route to enjoy the day, I rode 25 miles in 2h47m. Total distance for the day was 42 miles.

5/21/11 Week 20    this week: 60 miles   [2nd quarter: 500 ]    2011: 816

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is Lance Toast? The Rumored End of Days

Tues 5/17/11 #235
Wed 5/18/11 #238
Thur 5/19/11 #235
Fri 5/20/11 #232
Sat 5/21/11 #230
Frankie Andreu has testified that he heard Lance admit to doping and the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). Lance says that Andreu and his wife are shakedown artists.

Floyd Landis says he's seen Lance dope, that P-E-Ds are widespread, and that officials covered up an Armstrong positive drug test. Landis has changed his story several times. Lance says that Landis is trying to sell a book, and has attempted to blackmail Lance for a job.

Lance's U.S. Postal teammate Tyler Hamilton has told CBS's “60 Minutes” that he saw Lance Armstrong inject EPO and use other doping methods. Lance's response: Hamilton is trying to sell his new book.

CBS says George Hincapie told the Grand Jury that he and Armstrong supplied each other with EPO and testosterone. (Hincapie hasn't made a public statement, it's just CBS-said-George-said.)

Former Postal rider Scott Mercier says Hamilton’s charges ring true.

Often, Lance's public statements generally consists of three claims:(1) his adversary has a financial motivation and is not credible (an ad hominem response to a specific charge), (2) he has never failed a test (which is different from denying the accusation), and (3) he has done a lot of good for a lot of cancer patients.

The biggest story is CBS' claim about George Hincapie's testimony. Hincapie is very highly respected, he is known for his integrity, he has no charges pending against him, and he has no book to sell. He is a current rider, owns a cycling business, and was Lance's BFF; George does not profit from bad news for cycling.

Having said that, what's the effect on cycling? About the same as the effect that a Nascar grudge has on driving. Sure, the technology developed at Nascar and the Tour de France eventually trickles into the public domain, but that's about it.

If (IF) George has testified as CBS claims, then Lance is toast.
Of course, a lot of people predict the End of Days, and they're often wrong. I think Lance's only move is to dump the yellow rubber-band shtick and move up to a higher level — he should make a It Gets Better video. Click here or the demo below.

(I don't think them not wearing helmets is code or anything)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ride to Work Week, Monday

5/16/11 #235
19.4m 1h34m

Since today was my first workday in Ride to Work Week, I rode home from work (couldn't swing the logistics of riding in). The ride home was 16.4 miles in 1h15m, and I also rode another 3 miles on a sidebar trip.

Nice ride. Cool, moist, kind of a scud-running day, not much wind. All the cagers (cars) were nice, including when I took the lane coming down a hill at 35mph, the cars behind me would have been doing 50 if I wasn't there but they were quite patient. I notice they generally give me a lot of room on that descent, it may be that they're afraid I'm going to face-plant in front of them and they don't want to be involved in my paperwork.

I haven't ridden to or from work in a few years. I used to do it once or twice a year when I worked midnights, but I've gotten out of that habit.

It was, as it always is, a good day to ride.

Hoping for Partly Cloudy N'at.

5/16/11 #www

Global warming has nothing to do with rising sea levels. It's just all this rain.

Born in Canonsburg, educated at Duquesne University, the 'Polish Prince', Bobby Vinton:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Amgen Tour of California

5/14/11 #230

5/14/11 Week 19    this week: 106 miles   [2nd quarter: 440 ]    2011: 756

The Giro d'Italia is an stage race which the most elite riders consider a warm-up for the more prestigious and more profitable Tour de France, leaving the younger up-and-coming hopefuls to contest the Giro for victory, so it's a different kind of Grand Tour event. This year's Giro is different in that Alberto Contador, who fears that he may be suspended before the Tour de France, is actually contesting the Giro because it may be his only chance for a 2011 Grand Tour victory before his credentials are pulled.

While the larger world of cycling looks at the (second-rank) Giro this week, the domestic US world of cycling waits for the opening of the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday. Notably, it's not just the Tour of California but instead it's the Amgen Tour of California, and the selling of the naming rights indicates the precarious financial position of the race. The ToC is not a Grand Tour event, it is a developing event that struggles for funding every year.

There is some chutzpah in Amgen's involvement and investment in the race, since the biotech company is the developer of EPO, which is (ab)used as the once-favorite performance enhancing drug (PED) in competitive cycling. Naming a bike race the Amgen (whatever) is sort of like calling it the Floyd Landis Memorial.

Favorites in the Tour of California include local rider Levi Leipheimer, who was won the ToC three times. Television coverage is at Versus.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bicycle Nightmares

5/11/11 #229
26.8m 2h02m

There are the standard nightmares: you arrive in school late to find out you have to take a test that you didn't prepare for, or you're falling through space, or you're in church and you realize you are naked, things like that. Normal nightmares.

The bicycle nightmare, I think, is driving to meet somebody for a ride and finding that you're missing some essential bit of equipment - your clipless shoes (that clip in), your shorts, a Presta pump, etc. My car is beginning to look like a cross between a homeless man's shopping cart and Kraynick's bicycle shop. Fortunately, I had all the gear I needed today, and the nightmare bides its time for a later opportunity.

Met M. by the Western Penitentiary in what I hope becomes a regular ride. We rode south along the Ohio River to the Stadia, then north-east along the Allegheny River, took the side-spur onto Washington's Landing, continued out to Millvale and Pamela's P&G Pancakes for, well, pancakes and coffee. This was my second time this week eating Pamela's pancakes, and life is good.

We returned to the Allegheny River, rode across the Ft. Duquesne and Ft. Pitt bridges, and took the Station Square Trail to Southside Works, stopping to see the significant progress on the new trail segment on the riverbank behind/below the HofBrau Haus and the AEO campus. Continued on the Baldwin Borough Trail to the closure for the American Water project.

Saw a man riding an interesting bike, a Dream7 model from Day 6 Bicycles. It was pretty cool, a step-through frame with a pedals-forward, semi-recumbent design. The gentleman riding it was very pleased with it.

Crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, pausing to appreciate the new ramp to the AEO trail segment, and then rode north along the Monongahela via the Jail Trail. As we rode in the streets from the Smithfield Street Bridge into Point State Park, we were in the lane and came to a stop at a red light, and I was pleased that there was another cyclist in the lane. When the presence of bicycles is such that there are a few stopped at the same intersection, that's a good sign.

Back across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, down to the river by the Science Museum. Parts of the trail through there make abrupt turns while descending, and if you fail to navigate the turn you're going to end up in the river. It's heresy but I wonder if speed bumps might not be appropriate on the downhill ramps.

Back to the Penitentiary and the cars that were still there, 26.8 miles in 2 hours 02 minutes, a really nice ride, good food and good company.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bright Bright Sunshiny Day

5/10/11 #231
31.2m 2h21m

Road 31.2 miles on the Montour Trail on my LHT. Very nice day, quite a few people out including fishermen along Montour Run. Trail condition was excellent.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Climbed Bates Street

5/9/11 #232
32.5 miles*

Rode 32.5 miles * according to my bike computer, which I need to calibrate against a GPS. I suspect it might be reading 10% high.

Rode from the Penitentiary to Pamela's Pancakes in Millvale, had strawberry pancakes, rode to Station Square, south to the American Water cutoff, Hot Metal Bridge and then I made a leap into adventure and departed Second Avenue and rode up Bates Street, which I've been staring at for a long time and today I rode up there. It was a nice climb, which was over with before I expected it to be.

On the way back down Bates I decided to shoot a gap between a car stopped in traffic and the curb, forgetting that the handlebars on the road bike are about two inches wider than the bars on my LHT, and I rapped the passenger-mirror with my left hand. I stopped and spoke with the driver and apologized, he was quite civil about in - no damage, it had flexed on its spring hinge and returned to position.

From Bates Street I rode north on the Jail Trail to Grant Street, then I reversed to the Hot Metal Bridge. It looks like the connector to the new trail behind the AEO corporate campus is complete to a point past the building, leaving the new trail behind the HofBrauHaus still to be completed. Rode the Southside Trail, Station Square, Ft. Pitt and Ft. Duquesne bridges, back to the Western Penitentiary.

It was a great day for a ride. Saw two recumbents. Big sighting of the day: I saw a rider going opposite direction coming out of Southside Riverfront Park, and his bicycle was towing a trailer carrying his kayak. Very very cool. This photo below isn't from today, but it looks similar to what I saw:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What HG Wells Said

5/8/11 #232

Rode 15 miles, Montour Trail, LHT. It was a very nice day, intermediate winds, a lot of people on the trail.

37 year old Alessandro Petacchi (aka Ale-Jet) took first place in Stage Two of the Giro, winning the final sprint over Mark Cavendish (aka Manx-Man). Cavendish protested that Petacchi cut him off in the final seconds, but the review showed no foul.

Cavendish's dismay might be alleviated by the fact that although he took second in the stage, he was first in overall points and was awarded the Maglia Rosa.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reunited with my Road Bike

5/7/11 #230

Rode my road bike, an aluminum Trek 1100, today for the first time in several years. I had disassembled it for a trip to Florida as checked airline baggage, and on my return I had left it with the handlebars and odd bits hanging loose in my basement. In the meanwhile I had bought my Surly LHT which became my main ride.

I really enjoyed being back on the road bike. With a shorter wheelbase it felt quite twitchy in comparison to the LHT. I have an EasySeat on the roadbike and that takes some getting used to, there's a real loss of body English in not having a traditional saddle. But I really liked being on the road bike again, it's much lighter than the touring bike.

I rode in the morning with Marc Y and Sam K, on the trails along the Monongahela River. It was raining at the start and again at the middle, but it was a nice ride. Rode 21 miles.

5/07/11 Week 18    this week: 63 miles   [2nd quarter: 334 ]    2011: 649

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Men of the Montour Trail calendar

5/5/11 #230
41.8 miles 3h24m

Rode the Montour Trail from Boggs (mp11.5) to Farmhouse Coffee (mp32) in McMurray. Beautiful day 60F, trail was excellent, northwest wind. Saw a few people on the trail, not a lot. Enjoyed a Cubano and two pistachio-cranberry biscotti to die for.

Saw several riders passing through the coffee shop on some awesome bicycles. While I was in the coffee queue, a lady asked if she could take a picture of my back, explaining that she wanted to show her bicycling friends my jersey. I personally suspect that she's working on a Men of the Montour Trail calendar, and I'm clinging to that illusion.

actual Montour Trail store here

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Taint Paint - New Bike Seat Discomfort Product

5/3/11 #231

Team JVA (Jens Voigt's Army) has released a new product to relieve bike seat discomfort, previously only available to professional European teams. The product is applied to the chamois pad of bicycle shorts, or in extreme cases it can be applied topically to the affected area.
(click for details)

An Effective Rear Bicycle Light