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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Boggs to Farmhouse Coffee

10/31/11 #234 43miles
Rode 43 miles on the Montour Trail in 45F.

I started off at my fave LBS (local bike shop) the Ambridge Bike Shop, where they quickly set my left bar-con shifter right and sent me on my way. I placed an order for my Christmas present, a new ABS bicycle kit. You've got to support your local bike shop.

I planned to start at the Boggs Trailhead riding west. The name 'Boggs' has prompted me to shut off my Droid phone's auto-spellchecking because it turns Boggs into something unfortunate.

It was 43F when I started, and I've come to realize that I need to dress differently for every ten degrees - 45 is very different from 35 or 55. Today I started in my bicycling shorts (no overpants), an UnderArmor ColdGear shirt, my helmet cover, and lightweight full-fingered gloves.

There's a lot of improvement work being done to the trail west of Boggs, between MP12 and MP14 - new drainage, grading, and in places they're redoing the bed of packed limestone. There were quite a few volunteers out working.

The received wisdom is that you're supposed to be cold for the first few miles and then you'll warm up, but I was quite chilly after six miles so I added a jacket.

Around MP20 there's a lot of clearing and bulldozing to prepare for the new railway servicing the Marcellus Shale frac-water. I've been told that the train tracks are going to be placed over the existing trail (which was, of course, a trackbed) and that a new trail will be built next to the tracks.

I rendezvoused with R. around Route 50 and we rode south together. The National Tunnel is awesome but there's water continually dripping from the ceiling, and once the temps move into freezing you really can't safely traverse the tunnel so I was glad to get out there again before it's unusable over the winter.

At Morganza Road the trail detours for the construction of two bridges, and the detour (on a small road) takes quite a bit longer than I'd have expected. Then you use an underpass to go below the trail and onto the golf course side of things, and join the trail there. It's well laid out and well marked.

We continued to trailside FarmHouse Coffee, a favorite stop. I had hot chocolate and a doughnut. It was nice to get inside a warm up, and we lingered a while.

When we got back on the bikes and reversed course we could feel the rain beginning, and as we continued on I realized I wasn't feeling very well in a blood-sugar sort of way, a bit lightheaded and dizzy, so we stopped for a while. R was very patient, and after a respite we got back on the bikes.

Just before the National Tunnel I felt better again, I think the hot chocolate may not have been a smart move on my part, I believe I had a sugar rush and an insulin crash from it.

We finished the ride in a light drizzle, I was glad to have the helmet cover on and the ride was really pretty comfortable. I got back to Boggs at 6pm, a little before sunset, and I was impressed to see an Allegheny County police vehicle checking on the trailhead as I left. Those trailheads are pretty isolated places and it can't hurt to have an occasional check.

It was a great ride.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Game Time Ride

10/20/11 35miles
Rode 35 miles, road/paved-trail, between 3pm (33F) and 6pm (41F).

Started in the Groveton Trailhead of the Montour Trail, and rode Coraopolis, Neville Island (flat and level), McKees Rocks, and joined the paved trails at Station Square. Rode south along the Monongahela past SouthSideWorks to the Baldwin-Borough Trail terminus just short of Sandcastle.

I'm disappointed that the trail through Sandcastle won't be open this year and that it's back onto Route 837 for bicyclists. It sure seems like some interim alternative should be possible until the final solution is done.

On the first leg of the trip I had noticed some real stiffness in my left-side barcon shifter (controlling the front derailleur). Somewhere around the Steeler's practice field it malfunctioned and would only stay on the middle ring, when I would move it onto the other rings it would revert to the middle as soon as I stopped holding the lever. Might just be a friction lock, I don't know, but it's a good reason to visit my LBS tomorrow.

The ride home was great (although a bit slower in the middle ring). As I crossed Station Square at 5pm, the roar of the crowd at the Steelers' game was quite noticeable.

It was a good ride on a very nice day - clear, no/low wind, no traffic because of the football game. 2h40m to ride 35miles.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dirty Harry's Bikes, Oakmont Bakery, and Lessons Learned

10/29/11 #236 39miles
Rode 39 miles at 35F in 3h15m, which took 5h45m from start to stop, and the difference between the plan and the experience is the story of the day. Today I broke out my MEC helmet cover with kepi, my Marmot glove/mittens, and my UnderArmour and SmartWool layer. (using the theory, 'no bad weather, just insufficient equipment', which derives from the Swedish proverb 'Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder')

Started in snow and 33F at the Manchester Bastille, intent on travelling to Oakmont Bakery for a coffeeneuring reconnoiter. I love the quiet of snowfall but I'm not a fan of what it does to my visibility on the bicycle; bicycles surprising cars is not sustainable.

I rode around the Stadia on the trails and continued to the 31st Street Bridge, crossed the Ohio River and proceeded east on Penn and Butler. Somewhere along Penn the temperature rose and the precipitation shifted to Rain, which was not as peaceful but the visibility really improved.

Travelling along Allegheny River Blvd, just east of Washington Blvd, I had a sudden flat on the rear tire. I assumed it was from glass; I'd been riding in the debris close to the curb, and glass cuts tires more easily when it's wet. I don't know if it's an attribute of the glass or the rubber.

There wasn't a great place to work on the flat tire, and I am loath to turn my bike upside down on the saddle/handlebars, so I laid it across the jersey barriers and guard rails.

I could not identify the hole in the inner tube; it wouldn't hold air long enough for an inspection, and my eyeglasses were not very clear in the rain. I examined the tire and found a largish piece of green glass in the tread and felt confident I'd found the culprit.

I reassembled the tire/tube/wheel and it was all good, and then I learned two things. I carry a can of "Big Air" (which is apparently 20 ounces of propane at 75psi) to inflate the tires after I've used the hand pump, and Big Air gave me two lessons today. Lesson One: When you're threading the inflator device onto your Presta stem, do not over-thread it or it will pull the Presta valve mechanism right out of the stem which is counter-productive.

I was able to reseat the valve, although I was dubious of its longevity, used the handpump to get the pressure up to 60psi-ish, and then I used the Big Air to kick the pressure into the 75psi-range. Lesson Two: When you discharge a Big Air can, it gets very cold as the gas expands. When you are holding the Big Air in your hand, which is quite wet from the rain, your palm will instantly freeze to the canister in an uncomfortable manner. Word.

I got back on the bike and continued along ARB (Allegheny River Blvd), through Verona, and on to Oakmont where I stopped at the Oakmont Bakery. I was expecting a mom-and-pop outfit but this was big business; the retail counter was probably fifty feet long, there was quite a throng and things were bustling.

The selection was remarkable, and I overcompensated for the perceived hardship of the elements and the flat tire by indulging in a bagel, a cruller, and an eclair, along with a hot chocolate and a cafe a lait. I took my repast to the leather armchairs BY THE FIREPLACE and used their WIFI. I had come in cold and wet and this place really did the trick.

I had downloaded an App, Bike Shop Locator, onto my Droid phone just a few days ago and I launched it to see where I might find some help with my rear tire in case the valve was problematic. This was really cool; Dirty Harry's Bikes in Verona was just 1.2 miles away. There is no way I would have known that without the smart phone.

I languished for a while and then went back out into the drizzle; the rear tire was softer, usable but clearly losing air. I rode over to Dirty Harry's, apprehensive at being a transient walk-in on a Saturday afternoon. By the time I got to the shop the rear tire was all-but-flat.

The staff was extremely helpful. I explained what was going on, they directed me to the workshop and John the mechanic, and he interrupted what he was doing to work on the bike. I took a tour of the shop to keep from hovering over his shoulder.

I was completely gruntled. One gentleman urged me to take off some layers and let the heat dissipate, another offered some paper towels to clean my eyeglasses, a third talked to me about local riding and asked how my toes were. They were fantastic.

A customer at the shop had a Surly Pugsly. I'm intrigued at them and I had never seen one in person. I think it would make an awesome snow bike. He offered to let me ride it but I demurred, I didn't want to stretch the hospitality.

John brought the bike out, the valve core was damaged, he'd put in a new tube and also adjusted the brakes because he noticed they needed it. I really appreciated that. Stopping at Dirty Harry's Bike Shop in Verona was a totally positive experience.

I had planned a route to take me across town to the Mon, and although I botched the directions a bit in the middle it was a good ride. I departed Verona along Allegheny River Blvd, and took Route 130 (Nadine Road) away from the river, and turned onto Verona Road.

As I was riding uphill on Verona, my thoughts strayed (to work, of all things!) and I ran over and crushed a broken bottle that I would have seen and avoided if I'd been paying attention. This was (if you're counting) my third flat of the day.

I pulled over (in front of Bonus Tire, inevitably) and worked the front flat. There was a big gash in the tire, and I was able to boot it using duct tape. I took this as a lesson in staying in the moment.

I continued through Lincoln-Lemington via Mount Carmel Road and Blackadore Street, then crossed Homewood North via Frankstown and Oakwood. I took Penn Avenue west across the Busway, and it really is different on the other side of the tracks.

I took South Braddock to Frick Park, and the Tranquil Trail and Nine Mile Run Trail down to the Monongahela. I wanted to investigate the trail segment that goes from Duck Hollow to Rankin, but the sky was dark and the three flats convinced me it would be good to get closer to my car.

I rode the Duck Hollow Trail and Second Avenue through Hazelwood to Greenfield, and then I joined the Jail Trail. The weather really improved while I was on the Jail Trail, the rain stopped and the sky cleared.

Another planned objective was to visit the Occupy Pittsburgh site, but I was down to just a single new tube and I skipped the demonstration in favor of getting to the car. The sun was at about the top of Mount Washington, and I didn't have a flashlight with me (Lesson Three).

From the Point I used the Fort Duquesne Bridge, and the Casino Trail back to the Manchester Bastille. The computer showed 39 miles in 3h19m riding time, which took me 5h45m to accomplish what with the stops- Flat1, the Oakmont Bakery, Flat2 and Dirty Harry's Bike Shop (highly recommended), Flat3, and occasional map-checking in Lincoln-Lemington and Homewood.

It was a fantastic ride. I did not get to ride the 50 miles I'd planned on, I skipped the Duck Hollow-Rankin trail, I skipped visiting Occupy Pittsburgh, but I really did enjoy this ride. And I got to see Dirty Harry's and the Oakmont Bakery.

Week 40
this week:
89 miles
  [4th quarter: 481 miles]    
2011: 3747 miles

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blawnox Coffeeneuring, the Map-Territory Relation, Leet and Skywriters

10/25/11 #235 34miles
This was meant to be a "coffeeneuring" ride, which is a planned ride to an indy coffee shop at a civilized pace. Started at the Manchester Bastille and rode to Blawnox (coffee!), continued along the Allegheny to the Oakmont bridge, and then came back along the south side of the Allegheny River. 34 miles on a beautiful day.

It was a beautiful day for a ride. Started at the Manchester Bastille (Western Penitentiary) and rode on the trail past the Casino and the Stadia, and continued along the right bank of the Allegheny to the 31st Street Bridge.

Rode Penn Ave to Butler Street, and continued along the left bank to the Highland Park Bridge, where I crossed the river again northbound. Took Freedom Road through Blawnox, very nice town. The rail line goes elevated through a part of the town, it makes me think of a High Line type of development on the unused side of the trestles.

Stopped at my first planned destination, Curbside Coffeehouse (map). I was very pleased - the latte was as ordered, the pomegranate-cranberry biscotti was excellent (there are no more single flavor biscotti, anywhere - I can't tell if it's an affectation or just a provision for a retro movement). The place is non-ironic kitschy. Wifi, lots of seating, an excellent coffee shop. I would definitely stop there again.

I sat outside in the sun eating biscotti and contemplating that life is good. I had never been so far east along the Allegheny on the bike before, and so I had planned to make a second stop at Just My Cup of Tea in Oakmont. They were not open, a few gentlemen enjoying stogies in the nearby Cigar and Gun shop (how's that for a niche?) explained they might only be open for catered events. That was not a disappointment, though, because (1) I'd already had caffeine and (2) it reminded me that one of the pleasures of riding a bike is continually relearning Alfred Korzybski's distinction: the map is not the territory. The 2.0 interpretation is, The Google-Map is Not the territory, either. Part of the adventure of riding to a new town is discovering the Real instead of the Promised.

After pointing the bike back to Pittsburgh I did come across the Oakmont Bakery, which may be the objective of another ride.

As I was riding west on Allegheny River Boulevard near the Zoo (and the car drivers were all very courteous) I saw an aircraft skywriting. It looked quite high for skywriting, and as well as I could make out the text was "H H 6 F" (or, if I was reading it upside down, E 9 H H, who knows?) and I spent the next few miles considering the implications of Leet upon GenNext skywriters. Would the target market be more likely to respond to (0993R70N3 than COPPERTONE?


The ride back to the point was excellent and a good workout. I realized why I enjoy riding east along Butler Street; it's a bit of a descent, which made today's ride a mild climb.

I joined the Strip Trail at the Cork Factory on 24th Street and rode to the Point.

As I got closer to the point I could see a helicopter manuevering to film the movie "One Shot", usually people downtown don't get to see anything like the full range of a helicopter's capabilities - the Stat folks keep it pretty straight-and-level - and I wonder if the photo-helo generated any 911 calls today.

I closed the ride taking the Fort Duquesne Bridge and the Casino Trail back to the Bastille. It was a very nice ride.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Trail Ride on a Coarse Day

10/23/11 16miles
Rode short, 16 miles on the Montour Trail. The day's time blocks weren't granular enough, they were disgranular? too coarse but I was very pleased to get out on such a sunny day. It was wonderful to be able to wear just shorts and a jersey and feel the sunlight. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of people on the trail on a Steeler Sunday.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Coraopolis to Cranberry: an Impromptu Coffeeneur Route

10/22/11 39.8 miles
I started out planning a Coffeeneuring ride (which entails riding your bike slowly to a {preferably} indy coffee shop and enjoying a fine beverage) from Coraopolis to Blawnox. While I was riding on Neville Island my cellphone rang — a friend was in for the weekend, could we meet in Cranberry in a few hours? I agreed and then tried to figure out how to get there on the bike.

I was standing beneath I79 on Neville Island and I realized: it's legal to use I79 to cross the Ohio River, so I seized the opportunity and rode north on the interstate. On the other shore I was tempted to continue along the highway to at least the Mount Nebo exit, but that seemed unwise.

I rode Route65 to Sewickley, where I intended to attempt retracing the now-defunct Tour de Sewickley. Took the village's main drag to the south tip of Leetsdale and the Red Belt. Rode the Red Belt around to the Cranberry Industrial park, it was a very nice ride, light traffic and good roads, and I arrived at the appointed Starbucks with a half-hour to spare.

Starbucks in Cranberry is like Starbucks in Sewickley (and everywhere) but it skews more middle-aged; no kids, no privileged hipsters, no old-money seniors; Cranberry is more 22-to-50 year olds. Well financed but a different vibe, maybe a bit less relaxed.

After the Starbucks (and it was not a date) I rode/descended home on a more direct route so as to finish in the daylight. Total mileage was 39.8 miles, an excellent ride on a great day.

Week 39
this week:
117 miles
  [4th quarter: 392 miles]    
2011: 3658 miles

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Droopy Tail Lights, Tall Touring Bike

10/18/11 #235 23m
Another beautiful day, I rode in the city (and shorter) because of the logistics of the day. Started at the Bastille (Western Pen.), took the above photo (more here), rode around the Casinos to the 31st Street Bridge, took the Strip Trail to the Point, the Mon Whorf and the Jail Trail to Swinburne Street, and rode up Panther Hollow to get a bit of a climb in.

Reversed and descended, time was an issue so I stayed on the same side of the river and returned via the Jail Trail and the Ft. Duquesne bridge. 23 miles and no casualties.

I've had a problem with drooping tail-lights, I begin the day with them mounted horizontally and by the end of the ride the vibration and bouncing has them rotated to an ineffective position (see photo below).

Since the two lights are from different manufacturers but display the same problem, it must be something that I've been doing wrong.

I posed my question on BikeForums and got a lot of good advice. I went to Loew's and got some #8 external lock washers and placed them between the adjustable grip plates, and so far that seems to have done the trick.

Riding home in the car on Route 65, I saw a bicyclist riding into the city on a tall bike loaded with four panniers, first time I've seen a tall touring bike.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Glomming a Coffee Ride in the Gloam.

Mon 10/17/11 #236 54miles
It was such a magnificent day for a ride that when I got to the Montour Trail and noticed the flat rear tire, it wasn't disappointing at all. I had the car's bike rack to use as a work stand, I had a floor pump in the car, and it was mild, daylight, and dry (as opposed to cold, dark, and wet). If you ever had to have a flat tire, these were perfect conditions for it.

I pushed off on the trail 30 minutes later than planned, starting at the Boggs Trailhead at MP11.5, riding southwest. There's quite a bit of trail improvement going on, scraping the surface, filling divots, widening the trail and clearing brush. The McDonald Trestle was impressive as always.

A few miles beyond the trestle I met my friend R, who I was supposed to meet earlier so he started riding toward me. He was riding his brand-new bike, a Rivendell Sam Hillborne touring bike, and it was a work of beauty - eminently functional, intelligently outfitted, and aesthetically pleasing.

We continued riding south. At MP 24-ish we saw that the through-rider campgrounds have been expanded from three to five, and it looks like an Adirondack shelter is going into one of the sites.

We stopped at the ever-welcoming trailside Farmhouse Coffee for hot chocolate, cappuccino, and red-velvet biscotti (to die for). They do a consistently great job there.

We continued out on the Montour Trail and I got to ride across the new JR Taylorbridge for the first time, it's a very nice bridge. R. commented that he appreciates that all of the bridges are of different styles, there's no cookie-cutter similarity among them.

Reached the end of the trail and then reversed to come back, I had 26ish miles to go to regain my car and the day was waning. We made a pretty good pace on the return leg.

You could see where work was progressing for the new bridges at Morganza Road and Georgetown Road. There's a groundbreaking ceremony for the two new bridges on Sunday October 23rd at 1:00.

The last ten miles were in the gathering darkness, and I felt like a glommed a ride in the gloam.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Autumn Ride to Targets of Opportunity and Occupy Pittsburgh

10/15/11 #234 34miles 50-60F
Rode 34 miles in the city. The day started off cold but warmed up nicely.

Began at The Bastille (Western Pen) intending to ride to McKeesport, and proceeded via the Casino Trail and the Ft Duquesne Bridge. Crossing Point State Park there was some sort of re-enactment going on.

Continued on the Mon Whorf Trail, Jail Trail, Hot Metal Bridge of 4000 Brassieres, Southside Trail, Baldwin Trail, walked the tracks and rode Sandcastle to Riverton Bridge discovered that the Sandcastle lot is closed.

I'm mildly disappointed that Sandcastle bike access is lost. Even though it was a wink-and-nod arrangement, it was really nice to ride through there in the summertime, and the loss of Sandcastle will mean fewer bicyclists going from the Point to Boston. The (presumed) notion that bicycling stops in October is misinformed.

I rode 885 uphill to Century III Mall, met a friend at Denny's for coffee and pumpkin pie!, reversed on 885 and 837 to Southside, Station Square trail, and then I ran into a fully loaded, visiting cyclist who had just passed the West End Circle and was trying to figure out how to get into downtown.

Walter had rode from Cleveland in two days, stopping overnight and camping in Rogers Ohio. I really like the idea of bicycle camping and hope to give it a try.

He told me he'd had two flats and broke a few spokes, but that he's stopped at Ambridge Bike Shop and they'd taken great care of him. Which doesn't surprise me, Ambridge is the Best Local Bike Shop 4eva. We rode together across the Ft. Pitt Bridge and the Strip Trail to his destination, I think the city's trails and the easy transition across town made a favorable impression on him.

Then I rode crosstown to the #OccupyPittsburgh site. It seemed reasonable and well mannered, I spoke to a police officer who said there wasn't any tension at the site. In the throng there were ACLU attorneys wearing yellow armbands observing. I saw an observer wearing a Pittsburgh Police Accountability Review Board jacket which I though was extremely excellent.

I'd say the population skewed young and old, with fewer 40-year olds than there were 20-somethings and geezers like myself. Other than the age phenomenon, they seemed representative of the general public. Quite a few signs, which I suppose works well in a world of omnipresent cameras and social media. I didn't find much (if anything, really) to disagree with. The P-G has a list of sign messages.

The weather started off cold (50F) and ended up warmer (60F) and quite pretty and blue. It was very windy which made for an interesting ride. It was a day when having airspeed indicators on the bike would produce interesting data. Descending down 885 it felt like I was descending with a tailwind, that was a pretty quick segment.

Week 39
this week:
109 miles
  [4th quarter: 275 miles]    
2011: 3541 miles

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

26 Miles Before the Storm

10/11/11 #235

Rode 26 miles on the Montour Trail, finished in darkness. Saw several bicyclists with really excellent front lights, mostly in blink mode.

We've had a run of excellent days, and the forecast calls for rain tomorrow, so I was eager to get a few more miles in.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Overnight Bike Trip: Frostburg to Confluence

Sun 10/09/11 49 miles

Day 2 of an overnight bike trip. The Trail Inn was a great overnight stop, clean and quiet, wifi and breakfast, good all around. We putzed around with our bicycles and eventually got on the trail, climbing for ~6 miles to the Continental Divide.

We stopped at the eastern portal of the Savage Tunnel and saw two large groups of boy scouts coming through, and then a gentleman named Harry Beal arrived and regaled those assembled with his local knowledge. Harry carried a sidearm, looked like a .45, and he explained that he was armed because he wore a valuable diver's Rolex, and he was one of the original Navy Seals. Googling his name produces quite a few references to him, it was a pleasant encounter.

Rode through the Savage Tunnel and crossed the Continental Divide, there's an interesting optical illusion where the tunnel at the Divide frames one of the Garrett windmills, I may have a photo of that eventually.

Skipped descending into town at Meyersdale, the GI Dayroom is closed on Sundays and there wasn't any attraction that justified climbing back up to the trail. Instead we pressed on to Rockwood.

At Rockwood we were joined by two other riders, making us a party of eight, and we enjoyed lunch at the Rockwood Opera House, pizzas and hoagies. There was a remarkable assembly of bicycles there.

My faves included a driveshaft bike pulling a Burley trailer, and another bike sporting a Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar panel recharging a smart phone. I can stare at other people's bicycles the way a cad stares at other people's women.

Departed Rockwood for the descent into Confluence. In a way we were enjoying a ride that we'd paid for the day before (when we climbed). Confluence was bustling, jam-packed for the Pumpkin Festival and the associated parade. It was remarkable.

We found our cars, had a libation at the Salty Dog, and then got out of town.

This was a very pleasant Pittsburgh overnight bike trip, 49 miles each day. The bikes did well, no mechanical problems, no injuries, and no flat tires.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pittsburgh overnight bike trip, Confluence to Frostburg

Sat 10/08/11 #235 49miles 60-80F

First day of an overnight bike trip, 49 miles.

Rode from Confluence to Frostburg on the Great Allegheny Passage. The town of Confluence was quite busy with their Pumpkin Festival but the people at Confluence Cyclery, an excellent bikeshop on the main square, were extremely helpful, especially considering the volume of people. I'll be sure to use them again.

Departed Confluence after a cup of coffee at Sister's Cafe and rode east. Halfway between Confluence and Rockwood you encounter the Pinkerton Horn, and although I'd been here a few months ago I was surprised at the current state of deforestation being done in order to "daylight" the train tunnel.

Pulling into Rockwood there was quite a lot of activity at the trailhead. I saw they had built a "clothes changing station", that's really a great idea, you see people fumbling to change clothes in their cars this is much better-

The newly (re)built Garrett trailhead is wonderful and so is the tunnel that replaces a road crossing there.

In Meyersdale stopped for lunch at the GI Dayroom, I'm always eager to stop there, great food reasonable prices and very trail-friendly.

After a big meal and a bit of loafing it was up the hill to the trail, then on the trail to the Continental Divide. Some large boulders had fallen onto the trail, a cyclist was posing for photos:

I think the (relatively) steepest sections were from Confluence to Rockwood, and again a small section just before Meyersdale. The rest of the climb was quite gentle, and after we crossed the Continental Divide it was a very pleasant descent into Frostburg.

Stayed at the Trail Inn, excellent accommodations - not a Hilton, but friendly and accommodating, clean and nice, Wifi and Cable TV. Arrived about an hour prior to the passenger train that comes up from Cumberland, so the staff got us squared away quickly before the trains arrived and disgorged several hundred people.

The train arrival was a cool thing to watch, very much an anachronistic experience. They gave quite a demonstration as they used a turntable to reverse the engines.

There are several very good restaurants in town for dinner, there's an excellent French place, a well-regarded Mexican restaurant, and we chose to eat at Guiseppe's. This was an excellent meal, I had a mussels-and-vegetables over pasta meal and it was tremendous. The quality of the staff was excellent, they really delivered a tremendous dinner experience.

Between the Confluence Cyclery, the Meyersdale Go Dayroom, the Trail Inn and Guiseppe's in Frostburg,the excellent trail conditions and the magnificent weather, this was really a wonderful mini-adventure.

Week 38
this week:
168 miles
  [4th quarter: 168 miles]    
2011: 3432 miles

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday: Wife of Dog Chariot Man, Double Coffee Run

10/07/11 #231 21miles

Rode with R. from the Bastille on the Banks, out to the 31st Street Bridge, to Espresso a Mano for coffee stop#1 (I had a Gibraltar), to Market Square and Cafe Mocha for coffee stop#2 - which left me a bit wired - then via the Jail Trail to the Hot Metal Bridge, Southside works to Station Square, then the Ft. Pitt and Ft. Duquesne bridges back to the start.

We met two cyclists and our the conversation revealed that I had blogged about her husband before and posted this picture of his tandem-dog-chariot rig:

A very nice day for a ride.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Progressive Caffeine Ride

Rode 22 miles, 50F to 60F. Sort of a progressive caffeine ride with my friend M who's about to take a job out of town. It was nice to get another ride in together.

We started at the Bastille (Western Pen.) and rode around the stadia. Came across two makeshift memorials on chain link fence on the trail below Fred Rogers' statue, nice memorials with "we miss you ____" signs, flowers, lit candles. Saw an apparent mourner setting another candle into place and interrupted his grieving to ask what it was about, and he said "we're filming a movie, these are props" and was pleased that it wasn't funereal.

Took the 31st Street Bridge and then Butler Street to increasingly-a-Favorite Espresso A Mano. Today I tried a Gibraltar coffee (as recommended by Mo) and a danish, both were excellent. Saw another cyclist that had garnished his normal bike helmet with three additional red rings, resulting in a Devo Helmet, very cool. Wanted to take a picture but I think that would have interrupted the willing-suspension-of-hipster-vibe thing and would have completely outed me as somebody from Beaver County.

Hung around for a while and then departed to downtown, rode the Strip District Trail to the Point. A nearby hoagie shop, Jimmy John's Subs was holding Customer Appreciation Day and selling $1 subs, there was a very long line snaking around the corner.

Went over to Market Square Starbucks. Hung out there for a while, originally the Starbucks side was in the shade (kind of like a bullring) but eventually it warmed up. There was some sort of farmer's market going on.

Rode the Jail Trail, the Hot Metal Bridge, noticed that the new trail segment is open behind AEO headquarters but closed at the boundary with HofBrauHaus, took Carson Street through SouthSide and made our next stop at the Beehive for more caffeine.

We sat in the Beehive's window, watching the world walk by, drank coffee and then got on our way. As we went past Station Square we met an older couple - 65ish - and the woman had fallen and cut herself up pretty good, she was quite tough about it, worried about her chain more than anything. That was impressive.

Back across Ft. Pitt and Ft. Duquesne bridges, and past the Casino to the Bastille. A nice ride. With all the caffeine I was quite wired at the end.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vitamin D Ride

10/05/11 #233 26miles 60F

Did 26 miles on the Montour Trail, very nice ride. After five days of rain I was concerned about the surface being mushy but my apprehensions were unfounded, the trail condition was excellent.

My morning in the office was unharmonious and so I was very pleased to get out on the bike, which left me significantly more cheery.

I had not been in the Boggs section of the Montour Trail recently - it is a favorite of mine- and I was happy to note a lot of trail maintenance in progress: widening, grading, and some new drainage (especially near MP12) to prevent washouts.

It was a very sunny day and I was happy for the sun on my face.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Love Bikes, Perk Me Up Coffee, and Sagging Droopy Bras

10/04/11 #232 22miles 60F
Beautiful day for a ride. Rained through the morning so I chose to ride in the city (paved trails) starting at the Bastille at around 1pm. As I was prepping the bike I noticed that I've acquired a bump, a small metal protuberance on the rear wheel (non-drive side) along the side of the rim that the brake pads engage.

As I rode past the Stadia I saw a few new bike racks in place, and one of them held six Police bikes, which was cool. I passed two police officers on bikes, and while on the road you might be reluctant to pass a police car, on the trail it's no biggy. I continued out on the trail to the 31st Street Bridge, then Penn Ave and Butler Street. I saw this sign on Butler Street and it piqued my interest:

Since I had a rough spot on my rear wheel I turned into the sidestreet and rode up the hill looking for a bike shop, but didn't see one so I reversed and went downhill. On the downhill pass I spotted Love Bikes in the alley behind Butler Street.

It was a very clean, well-lit, and orderly shop, not at all what you'd expect from an alleyway doorfront. I love that it isn't a bike-store with an assembly area (ie, Performance Bikes) but rather it's a bike shop which will also order and finish your new bike, there's a world of difference between the two - Performance exists to sell new bikes, and it seems like Love Bikes exists to help you with the bike you've got, and also to sell you a new one if you need it.

XXXX looked at the rear wheel, took the bike into the shop and sanded the rim to smoothness, and then told me to consider it gratis. I was just happy that he interrupted his work to take a look at a walk-in question, I was impressed. So, chapeau Love Bikes.

I got back onto Butler Street to continue my ongoing review of indy coffee shops, looking for Perk Me Up Coffee at 4407 Butler Street, Pittsburgh 15201, 412.682.1520. I had missed this shop the other day and wanted to try it out.

I has their coffee-au-lait which was great, service good, price good. The atmosphere was interesting and consistent with the age of the building. Whereas nearby Espresso A Mano is more trendy/gentrified/hipster, I'd say that Perk Me Up is more authentic/old-school/blue collar.

I finished my coffee at the curbside seating, then rode west to 24th Street and took the Strip Trail to the Point, the Mon Whorf trail, the Jail Trail (with the new Bates Street bridge), and the Hot Metal Bridge, which is still adorned with 4000 brassieres blowing in the wind.

The bras had been out in the rain, the wind, and the cold temperatures for several days and I noticed an interesting change: they'd become worn, mottled, and as the rope they were suspended from started stretching due to the wind and rain, it seems as if they're bunching together, drooping, and - it must be said - sagging.

Rode the SouthSide Trail, the Ft. Pitt and Ft. Duquesne bridges, and the Casino Trail back to the car ThatWasStillThere. It was a great ride.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Irish Pennants, Coffee and Rain Cape Ride : 28 miles

10/02/11 28miles 43F
The weather was sketchy - 43F, rainy and windy - but I haven't ridden in a few days, Monday-Tuesday don't look promising, and I needed to pay my respects to Rule 5.

I started my ride today under the Birmingham Bridge at Southside Riverfront Park. It was raining and I wanted a sheltered place to prep the bike and put on my kit before setting off, and the bridge overpass was the only trailhead I could think of that provided a roof over my head.

43 degrees (rain and wind) was a new recent low temperature for riding, so I wore the UnderArmor shirt, a jersey (mostly for the pockets, I love jersey pockets), my winter bike pants (water/wind-proof in the front, breathable in the back), wool socks, shoes instead of sandals, and my lightweight full-finger gloves. Instead of a rain jacket I went with the rain cape, which is a non-standard item in Bike Burgh but very widely used in places like England, where it rains a lot and they ride bicycles a lot.

"Irish Pennants" is a pejorative nautical term, seconded as a military term, meaning loose threads blowing in the wind. Originally from the British Royal Navy, it is based on the King's negative view of Irish partisans.

Usually warships treat their pennants, or small flags, with great respect. A pennant would never be used if it was worn or threadbare. A British officer, seeing loose threads in a ship's rigging (or later, loose threads on a uniform) would harrumph and call attention to the "Irish pennants", casting an aspersion on the poverty and poor military bearing of my ancestors the Irish, God rest their souls.

Not an Irish Pennant. Seriously. This loose thread is an Irish Pennant

As soon as I came upon the Hot Metal Bridge, with its display of 4000 brassieres to promote awareness of breast cancer, all I could think of was Irish Pennants blowing in the wind and the absolute conniption this sight would induce in your average drill instructor.

Personally, I don't know that our booby-obsessed culture needs any help supporting reinforcing the role of bosoms, and I suspect this has more to do with American Eagle's rollout of their new product line designed to objectify high school girls, but hey - whatever. Here we go Steelers, here we go...

After the Hot Metal Bridge, I rode north along the Jail Trail, Ft. Duquesne Bridge, Casino Trail to the Bastille. By that time my fingers were getting pretty cold. I should have used my warmer Marmot gloves but I left them back in the car. While reflecting on the self-imposed tragedy of my cold fingers, I realized I could now add one item to my List of Things that Cannot Help Me, reprinted here for the unfamiliar few.
List of Things that Cannot Help Me
  • runway behind me
  • altitude above me
  • vertical separation that I didn't maintain
  • digital files on my hard drive at home
  • new: gear I left in my car
It particularly galls me to not be carrying something I own and need in light of all the bags strapped on my bike.

From the Bastille I rode to the 31st Street Bridge, then rode to Lower Lawrenceville and Espressa A Mano. I had a hot chocolate and a scone, a nice warmup, and sucked at the wifi trough. I like that place. Back on the bike, Penn to 24th Street, the Strip Trail to the Point, the Mon Whorf Trail (with a few people living there wrapped in blankets), the Jail Trail again, Hot Metal Bridge, SouthSide and Baldwin Borough Trails to the junkyard, back to Southside Works, and back to the car. 28 miles.

The rain cape worked well, the interior chest loop and thumb loops kept it from being displaced in the wind, and for a high-viz presence it can't be beat. I was pleasantly warm (not too warm) and quite dry underneath it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mileage Numbers on a Binary Day (10/01/11) : An Accounting

10/01/11 #230
So, end of September, end of 3rd quarter.
It rained yesterday, rained today, promises to rain through Tuesday.
The good news is, the ten day forecast offers some promise of a string of nice days so I've spent a rainy day scheming over my short-term future, and fooling with the mounts for my lights.

I thought I'd use the nice stretch for a DC-Pittsburgh ride, which I haven't done this year, but so far the logistics of transport and company to ride with have eluded me.

My next plan is to do two S36O (sub-thirty-six-hour-overnights), in other words doing a two-day, spending a night at home, and then doing another two day. It saves me a day's hotel, lets me visit the LovedOnes, and still lets me get a bit of mileage and some new sights. So that's a plan, which of course rarely survives contact with the enemy, the world, the weather, the budget, and/or events. But it's good to have a plan.

Week 37
this week:
69 miles
  [3rd quarter: 1573 miles]
[4th quarter: 0 miles]
2011: 3264 miles

Above goal on mileage. Not meeting goal on weight.
Which is a fair summary of my habits and outcomes.

So I'm at 3264 miles in 2011. That's a good year's riding, but I think I will attempt to get to 4000 miles, I've never done that before.

To get there, I'll need 750 miles in 13 weeks, 58 miles a week. That's consistent with my last few weeks of light riding, but the weather is destined to deteriorate (which is pejorative, I suppose I should say it's going to change). I hope to get a chunk of miles during the teased, upcoming nice streak of weather.