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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Montour Trail; No Lingerie Spotted

9/28/11 17miles

Rode 17 miles on the Montour Trail. I had planned to go longer but I met an old friend who was power-walking the trail, and I stopped and joined him. For a brief moment I tried to walk with him and that just wasn't sustainable, so I slow-pedaled while we had a visit. It was a very pleasant surprise.

This time of year is the time for getting ready for more darkness, which means lights. Darkness will be a factor way before cold temps are an issue.

I had a thought (but not the time) to get out to the Hot Metal Bridge to see the American Eagle display in support of Bright Pink's early cancer detection program, I'll get out there soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bastille - Bakery Square - South Shore Riverfront

9/27/11 #235 30miles
I saw my most excellent orthopaedic surgeon today and he told me the left knee is good to go. I've been taking Voltaren (Diclofenac) to reduce inflammation. The MRI indicates no tear or flap in the meniscus. So I'm good to go, and I'm going to be more disciplined about stretching before rides and taking Ibuprofen prophylactically.

I think that during my interruption of riding I've lost my mojo, I've broken the habit of daily riding and food discipline, so over the next few weeks I need to get back on track.

Rode 30 miles in 2h25m in Pittsburgh, half trails and half in traffic. Started at the Bastille, which was in today's news. Rode along the trails and crossed the 31st Street Bridge, left turn on Penn and left turn on Butler Street. Took this photo of the Lawrenceville Doughboy, which I've passed by a few times and never took the time to appreciate:

My takeaway was the bag over his chest for his gas mask, the leggings for the mire and sewage in the trenches, and the raincoat over his arm for the rain. WW1 was a cruel and terrible war, and for all of our improved techniques I don't know that anything about war has gotten any better. It's a great statue in that in preserves the memory of the viciousness.

Intended/Hoped to find a coffeehouse called Perk Me Up (4407 Butler St. Pittsburgh, PA 15201 412.682.1520) but I missed it, probably due to street construction. I hope to stop there my next time through.

Joined Route 8 South, Washington Blvd, Fifth, Penn to Bakery Square, and lunch at Coffee Roasters. Had an excellent vegetarian sandwich (eggplant, hummus, red peppers) and a chai tea latte and enjoyed the outside seating for a while. The day kept getting prettier as time advanced.

I must say that Pittsburgh drivers in these neighborhoods were extremely courteous, which may be due to the increased presence of bikes around here.

Out of Bakery Square it was Beechwood Blvd, Forbes, South Braddock, Hutchinson, Frick Park's 9 Mile Run Trail, the Duck Hollow Trail, and Second Avenue to join the Jail Trail. Although the tempting frisson of using the still-closed Bates Street Bridge was a siren's call, I took the Hot Metal Bridge and checked out the all-but-finished South Shore Riverfront Park, at SouthSideWorks below HofBrauHaus.

There are five ingots of steel which had been left on the site when the mill came down, and left again when the brownfield was reclaimed. Some people say that when a steel worker fell into the cauldron of hot metal - leaving no body for the family - they'd pour out an ingot in case the family wanted an artifact.

Having looked at these ingots up close now, there's no way any family was going to bring one of these things home.

I was also able to take a look at the 12.5M "South Shore Riverfront Park"; I guess part of the Gentrification NüSpeak is that it's supposed to be the South Shore, rather than SouthSide. (good luck with that). On reflection, if you build bike facilities like this, you can name them whatever you desire, really.

This is a photo of what the site looked like in March (via):

This is a photo of what it looks like today:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

South Oakland, Manchester Bastille, Lower Lawrenceville, South Side

9/25/11 22 miles
First of all: three months until Christmas.

I enjoyed a very pleasant ride downtown today. Parked in South Oakland, rode to the Manchester Bastille, to Lower Lawrenceville, SouthSide Works, back to South Oakland, 22 miles.

As I drove to the trailhead I was listening to NPR and specifically RadioLab, over WDUQ which is now WESA, and they were talking about the difficulty of maintaining rigid classification structures at the micro level - which I thought should have invoked Forms and Universals, but they didn't go there.

Coming out of the South Oakland trailhead on the Jail Trail I was emboldened to inspect the status of the new bridge and trail segment over Bates Street (official opening: Oct 3 at 1200); they've done a very nice job.

Rode across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, and near the Science Center I saw a cyclist riding an "ElliptiGo", a two-wheeler with elliptical levers instead of a pedal-crank-chain linkage. It was a curious follow-up to the RadioLab show in that this machine is clearly a bicycle but it falls outside the normal range of the classification.

Coming back from the Bastille (Western Penitentiary), I saw the Elliptigo parked and took this photo:

It has a very long wheelbase, and I wonder if it's not difficult to move through doorways or transport on a car.

Rode along the Allegheny River, took the 31st Street Bridge, and decided to investigate an Indy coffee shop I haven't been to before. The Google indicated that the closest was Espresso a Mano at 3623 Butler Street.

It's an excellent coffee shop. It was a very cool atmosphere, lots of bikes, books, and Wifi-ing. There's a glass garage door on the storefront, and it was rolled up and the cafe was open-air.

I saw a Surly Cross-Check there, it was very well appointed with a Minnehaha saddle bag, an orange reflective triangle, and a brass bell. It was a beautiful bike, and there were quite a few bikes there.

Sitting outside the coffee shop I saw a lot of bicycles being used, some for pleasure riding but also a fair portion being used for transportation. The coffee was excellent, the biscotti was fresh; I'll be back at Espresso a Mano again (especially given my new goal of becoming a flâneur , participating in the observer-participant dialectic in the urban/cyclist way, and not at all as flâneur in the fop/dandy/wanker way).

Coming out of the neighborhood I saw ClankWorks, a local shop specializing in "accessories for the modern cyclotourist". There were some very nice wooden fenders in the window. I need to stop there again sometime.

Rode through the Strip District, under the Convention Center where the fountains were running, to the Point, over the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, SouthSide, and across the Hot Metal Bridge back to the car. A very nice ride in ideal conditions.

My left knee felt great, it feels better after riding than it does in a period of inactivity.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Week 36
this week:
57 miles
  [3rd quarter: 1504 miles]    
2011: 3195 miles

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Market Square Coffee Ride

9/21/11 #233 19miles

An excellent ride, still going short, trying hard not to screw up the left knee's return to cycling. Beautiful day for a ride, drank coffee in Market Square and people-watched, an excellent session.

Rode from the 31st Street Bridge to Market Square via Penn Avenue, which brought this alternative Goofus and Gallant to mind:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Goofus and Gallant, Bike Trail Etiquette

9/20/11 #233 22miles

Rode with K, Bastille, 31st Street Bridge, Strip Trail, Ft. Pitt Bridge, Station Square Trail, Southside Trail, Hot Metal Bridge, Jail Trail, Ft. Duquesne Bridge, Casino Trail.

I've been trying to smoooooooth out my signalling technique, I've been ringing the bell at about 40feet, then again at 30 feet, and then (if there's no visible response) I use the AirZounds air horn at 20 feet. The problem is, the airhorn at 20 feet is a violent surprise to most people, and so I'm working on ringing/Zounding earlier.

Which brings this Goofus and Gallant to mind:

We stopped to check out the newly opened Cafe at the Point in Point State Park. The green walls, with living plants as part of the structure, were very cool.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Short Ride

Sun 9/18/11 16miles
Rode 16 miles on the Montour Trail during the Steelers Game. I thought the trail would be empty during the game, but there were quite a few riders out there - including the unicyclist I've seen a few times. Today I got to take a picture of him. - > >

I thought the wheels were big and guessed that they were 29" wheels, but he said they were 36" wheels.

I felt a bit diabetes-weak and lightheaded about 8 miles into the ride, so I stopped to eat and gave it some time to process, then I called it a short ride and just returned to the car.

The good news is that the knee is good and I'm feeling strong. I do need to rebuild the pattern of frequent mileage, though.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

9/17/11 #233 33miles
Rode the Montour Trail from McDonald, rather late in the day. As I was prepping my bike at the trailhead I heard what sounded like Indian drum music in the distance, which is not something you hear too often.

So I rode over and found the Red Eagle Powwow, nice setup, visitor friendly, and they were all dressed more reasonably than I was in my bike kit.

Rode to MP31.5 at Farmhouse Coffee and got there around 7pm (they close at 6, I learned). Had a snack and then reversed course, and I had all my lights on for the return leg. On the front I had a Planet Bike HID to illuminate my path, and a Planet Bike 2W LED blinky to help others see me. On the rear I had a Portland Design Works Radbot 1000 and a Cateye TL-LD1000.

On the way back home I got to see how well the HID lights up when I rode through the unlit National Tunnel. It really put out a lot of light.

The moon hadn't come up yet and this was my first truly dark ride in quite a while. A really nice ride, 33 miles.

Week 35
this week:
65 miles
  [3rd quarter: 1447 miles]    
2011: 3138 miles

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pamela's, Park(ing) Day, and the Alternative Energy Juice Box

Fri 9/16/11 #233 23m
An excellent ride today. Met R, J, and G at 0800 at the Western Penitentiary (the Bastille on the Banks). It was 40F as we got underway. I think we all wore full-fingered gloves, I used wool socks and a wool jersey. It was a brisk cool morning, perfect conditions for a ride.

We rode around to Millvale for breakfast at Pamela's Pancakes and to place a few posters for the Pittsburgh premier of Tammy Ryan's play, Lost Boy Found in Whole Foods (Sept 30-Oct 16, Pittsburgh Playhouse). This weekend is Millvale Days, lots of booths and rides and a Ferris Wheel were set up on Grant Street.

Pamela's Pancakes is always a great ride for breakfast and as we came out two bicyclists were coming in to eat; they'd ridden over from the SouthSide. It's great to see the trails becoming an economic driver and kind of funny to see cyclists wearing high-viz outfits making the rounds in an old-school Pittsburgh town.

We rode across the 31st Street Bridge (where I was dismayed to learn that my front derailleur wouldn't shift off the big ring), rode the Strip Trail to the Point, rode the Mon-Whorf Trail to Smithfield Street, the Jail Trail to the Hot Metal Bridge, and then rode to REI-Southside.

We were very pleasantly surprised to see the REI folks were out early with their effort for Park(ing) Day, in which participants turn a (car) parking-spot into a mini-park. Because if it is truly a parking spot, a spot for park-ing, then maybe...

REI generously offered coffee and pastries, and we were living large. We got to meet Darla Cravotta (Special Projects Coordinator for Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato), who's also on the Board of Friends of the Riverfront. (The Jail Trail is considered [by some] to be Darla's second child.)

We rode a few blocks over to see the Park(ing) Spot at Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe (OTB), where they were still setting up their mini-park. It was very cool, it consisted of two parking spots and presented a miniature bike trail.

OTB had a series of bicycle-generators and solar panels driving some inflatables (think front-yard snowmen), a misting station, and a sound system. It was a demo of a new technology from Pittsburgh startup ZeroFossil. ZeroFossil makes the Bikerator, a 250W bicycle powered generator.

They connected the bicycles and solar panels to the aptly named Juice Box, another ZeroFossil product which takes inputs from bike generators, windmills, and solar panels and uses technomagic to output usable electricity, either 12V or 120V. You can even plug your USB phone or camera into the JuiceBox.

It was extremely cool to see a nü-Pittsburgh 2.0 event like Park(ing) Day and a bike-focused place like OTB providing a showcase for an alternative-energy Pittsburgh startup. That was like the total package.

Back on the bikes and we rejoined the SouthSide Trail, the Station Square Trail, the Fort Pitt Bridge and the Fort Duquesne Bridge, and the Casino Trail back to the Bastille.

An excellent ride, a good adventure, perfect conditions. After the ride I stopped at the world's best LBS, Ambridge Bike Shop, and they set my front derailleur right.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's Just Like Riding a Bicycle: Back on the Saddle Again

9/13/11 #230 9 miles
Returned to the bike today. My orthopod said the MRI showed no flaps in the meniscus, which had been the concern, so there's no need for surgery. He prescribed an anti-inflammatory called Voltaren (Diclofenac) and I'm going to go see him for a review in a few weeks.

So with a bit of trepidation I was back on the bike this afternoon on the Montour Trail. The knee felt good, and the legs felt good. In the previous two weeks I've only ridden once, and that day was ten days ago. So the first time back on the bike was good.

It was really a nice ride, I was out later in the gloaming twilight. I did see a unicyclist riding a 26" wheel with some great lights (front and back) on his helmet. It was cool to see a unicycle rigged for night-time riding.

I did see a few riders that were using a white blinky "see-me" light on their handlebars, they were all pretty effective.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bike Math 101: calculating the maximum number of bicycles

9/10/11 #233

No miles to report this week; no riding at all due to a kneee isshew.

Today's Yehuda Moon opens to public scrutiny a wisdom that is closely-held among bicyclists, passed down by verbal tradition, and never disclosed to non-riders, spouses, or (shudder) marketing types:
What is the maximum number of bikes you can own?

The General Theory of Bikes
In a most-perfect-world the maximum number of bikes is given by
Bikesmax = N + 1
where N= the number of bikes you currently have.

The General Theory holds well in ideal conditions but observations have revealed several niches in which the General Theory is problematic, resulting in the postulation of several special rules. We await a Unified Theory of Bicycles will which be valid in all situations and reveal the Grand Theme.

The Special Condition of Urban Dwelling
In the special condition of Urban Dwelling, or other anomolies that approximate those conditions, the maximum number of bikes is given by a variation of Boyle's Law:
"In the absence of any other constraint (spouse,money) the number of bicycles owned will expand to fill the space available for their storage." (via BicycleBill)

The Special Condition of Hipsters and Minimalists
These are special conditions of constraint due to a faulty individual apprehension of social norms. The number of bikes in this special condition are given by the following formula:
Bikesmax = 1
  • These self-imposed conditions disappear in the presence of employment and/or mating.

The Special Condition of Husbands Spouses
Bicyclists who are Spouses (or who have been Spouses) have their max-bike-value set thusly:
Bikesmax = 4 - { Snow + Sprev }
Where Snow is the number of spouses now, and Sprev is the number of previous (ex-) spouses
  • Buddy's Law: Some bicyclists in this situation have proposed legislation requiring marriage license offices to provide written notice of this situation and a mandatory 24-hour "cooling off" period to any bicyclist applying for a marriage certificate.
  • The recent expansion of marriage in states such as California and New York may provide valuable insights that have not been studied.
  • We await feedback on whether a special corollary is necessary for Utah or other polygamous cultures.

Week 35
this week:
0 miles
  [3rd quarter: 1382 miles]    
2011: 3073 miles

Friday, September 9, 2011

Support Your Fellow Clyde: Bike Chase in Detroit by BreeZee One

Off the bike with a problematic left knee.

In the spirit of supporting other Clydes, something a bit off (way off)
the singletrack by BreeZee One (the former Brittany Badenoch).


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Driver Intentionally Hits DC Bicyclist (Video)

From Washington, DC, this video of a driver intentionally hitting a cyclist:

Here's the dialogue between the assailant and the cyclist:
Driver: "You'd better move your genius ass to the f***king right"
Cyclist: "What's that?"
Driver: "You heard me"
Driver swerves to right, hitting cyclist
Cyclist: "F**k! F**k! F**k!"

Fortunately, (1) the bicyclist wasn't killed and (2) the bicyclist was wearing a helmet-mounted 1080p video camera, and (3) it looks like the license plate is DC tag DK-2193.

More techno-goodness: Cyclist falls and hits head, gets amnesia; GPS track fills in the blanks.

In the sake of objectivity, we should also mention that the same week in DC, two bicyclists pursued and fired shots at a moving car.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Conation, Questing, Stay-or-Go Decisions

I've been reading about conation. Conation deals with intentional, volitional activity - the actions we choose to take - and it is described as the third part of the human mind: affective (emotional), cognitive(thinking), conative (deciding and acting).

Plato and Aristotle spoke of the three faculties as think, feel, and act.
Augustine described a three-fold division of knowing, feeling and willing.
Kant saw three irreducible components of the mind: knowledge, feeling, and desire.

The challenge of conation (to me, anyway) is choosing among alternatives. Last night I was wrestling with a choice among alternatives, and today I am faced with coming to terms with the result of my conation, my decision. It's not cosmic or world-changing; the little things are much more difficult.

We had picked Tues-Wed-Thur-Fri of this week for our annual Pittsburgh-DC bike ride. We picked these days based mostly on it being after the school year resumed, a period when we could all arrange to be gone, a time of cooler weather before the days become prohibitively short. It was, to be honest, a wag made months ago.

The Weather did not care about our plans; the forecast for our four-day bicycle trip promised to be quite rainy. On these trails, the rain soaks the surface more than the riders; especially between Cumberland and DC, the route can become a muddy bog (a term which is rarely associated with a good time).

And so a dilemma: Stay or Go? The trip gains a certain inertia of its own; we have told friends and colleagues about the trip, we've blocked our schedules for the time off, we've made plans to cover our obligations, and the ride itself grows from a bike ride into a Mythic Quest, our small group morphs from Four Geezers into the Fellowship of the Taint, and you don't have to be Robert Bly to know that once a bike ride turns into a Narrative, decision making is problematic.

As always, women have the sense to stay out of the rain. Knowing our fragile psyches, one or more of the Spousal Units will drop, "you guys aren't smart enough to cancel", and rhetorically that's a very effective position.

So among our merry band the knowledge of Wifely Truth percolated through our porous lizard brains and we decided to cancel - not because we couldn't do the trip, you understand, but because at this age we're more mature, yeah that's it, mature. Nothing to prove here. What are you looking at?

The problem with a "no-go" decision is that it tugs at you, you'll never know what would have happened if you went, maybe you could have made it work, a little rain isn't fatal, and then the skies clear out a bit in the afternoon and the self-noodging begins.

I sure hope we get to ride to DC later in the year.

(keen observers will notice the video contains both the World Trade Center and Shea Stadium (venue of the Beatle's first US concert), neither of which are still with us)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rie Sawada's Nagoya LHT Bicycle Cafe

Rie Sawada, who blogs at CharRiesCafe, was recently profiled in Pittsburgh's Urban Velo is a bicycle advocate in Nagoya.

She sells "mom-made marmelade" and a special coffee blend. On Sundays she uses her bike as a portable cafe, selling coffee and teas off the rear rack. Although she started off with a Surly LHT (above, demonstrating the versatility of the LHT) she has since transitioned into a more polished cafe-bike with a Nishiki.

She's also formed a girl's bike dance team, shown performing here:

She's currently touring northern Europe with her Bike-Cafe. The back story is, she's doing marketing for Nagoya, pitching it as a modern green 2.0 city, and getting Nagoya lots of earned press. Very clever.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Boston PA to Point State Park, Round Trip

9/03/11 44miles

I've been off the bike since riding last Saturday with an injured left knee. I've had advice (which seems valid) that it's an overuse injury exacerbated by lack of stretching. For a week, I've been eating Motrin and elevating/icing the knee and it's been feeling better.

Today I got back on the bike. As I drove out to Oakland I kept the knee wrapped up to keep it warm, and for the first twenty miles of our ride I wore my winter pants with the same intent. I don't know if that was necessary, but it seemed prudent and unlikely to make things worse. The knee felt good, and it felt better as the ride progressed.

Our group (R, M, myself) formed up at the south end of the Eliza Furnace Trail (aka Jail Trail) (GPS address: 88 Swinburne Street, Pittsburgh 15207).

We rode the Jail Trail, Hot Metal Bridge, SouthSide Trail, Baldwin Borough Trail, walked along the train tracks adjacent to the metal recycling yard, and rode through Sandcastle's parking lot to the Waterfront Trail. We rode the Kennywood Trail to Duquesne, crossed the Riverton Bridge, took the trail through McKeesport to Boston, and followed the Dead Man's Hollow Trail to the green Boston Box Car, where there's a nice trailhead and a visitor's info booth (staffed by a volunteer).

We were very pleasantly surprised by the number of people out on the trail (and at a relatively early hour). Many of the people were riding to Ohiopyle, and they ranged from college students with milk crates for panniers to geezers (people my age).

We reversed course, got to Southside Works and saw the outdoor Yoga class at Tunnel Park, SouthSide Works. Sidebar: Yoga shows some benefit for diabetes

There's always something different going on along the trails. R and M stopped at REI for some shopping, and I took the chance to get a new 2011 Pittsburgh Bike Map (version 4.0) by BikePgh.

After that we meandered to the base of Junction Hollow, then rode to the Point and back to the original trailhead. This was the first time I saw other bicycle riders on the Mon-Whorf Trail.

It was a great day for a ride, there were a lot of people out, and I was grateful that my knee was playing nice.

Week 34
this week:
44 miles
  [3rd quarter: 1382 miles]    
2011: 3073 miles

Friday, September 2, 2011

Atlas Drugged: Diabetes Art

9/02/11 #231

September 1st is Diabetes Art Day.

My favorite: Atlas Drugged, by Bob Pederson, a Type 2 oral-meds-only diabetic.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Radar Fantasy

9/01/11 #229
Thursday. Still not riding, knee improving daily.
Ice, rest, motrin.

Today's YehudaMoon cartoon resonates completely with me.
The only problem is in my area, all the radar carts are on top of hills.