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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Neville Island to McKeesport

01/31/12 49m
Magnificent day, started at 48F and ended the ride at 60F, winds out of the west. Short pants, UA ColdGear and a YJA jacket, light gloves.

Rode from the RMU hockey complex south along Neville Island then via Route 51 through McKees Rocks, continuing on to the West End and Station Square. Joined the Station Square Trail to Southside Works, then went "roadie" onto Route 837 South to get past the trail closure at Keystone Metals / Sandcastle.

Riding on 837 is a thrilling experience, and the drivers were very nice. I did have one fool yell "get off the road" to me at the 837/885 cloverleaf, which is built like a highway interchange; I attribute it to their riding around with their car windows open on a mild day.

Speaking of which, fascinating piece on Why Some People (drivers) Get Angry at Bicyclists. He argues that bicyclists are the Other, just like gypsies or immigrants, and so they are easily targeted by those who need to disapprove of another group to assuage their own insecurities, and he further suggests that the very act of cycling is perceived by the Angry person as a refutation of their (car-based) lifestyle, which makes them... angry. I'm not sure if these generalizations about angry drivers are any more valid than generalizations about punk bicyclists.

Continued on 837 through Homestead, where I took the photo to the right. There is quite a bit of street art in Homestead but I haven't found any large murals yet. It was interesting that (again) the current painting was layered over a previous painted advertisement. VLNUS.

In Homestead I turned left on Amity Street to enter the Waterfront Complex. What a remarkable difference from one side of the tracks to the other. From Amity Street I went directly behind the Eat N'Park onto the Steel Valley Trail.

The dirt-surface trail that runs through the Waterfront shows clear signs of maintenance since I was last through there in the fall. As I came around the Pump House I saw a few people taking bikes off cars and getting ready to ride.

I rode the bike lanes around Mahumnahumna? Steel and joined the paved trail that runs below Kennywood. There were quite a few bicyclists out on this section of the trail, including one "ambassador" that I see every time I'm out there.

I stopped in the middle of the Riverton Bike Bridge, and took the photo at the top of this post. It's a beautiful spot.

I turned around to ride north at about 2pm. I don't know whether it was the time of day or the balmy temperatures, but there were quite a few people out on the trail. Same route in reverse; north along the Steel Valley Trail, out on Route 837 to the FBI / Homeland Security complex, and back on the trails.

At South Side Works (SSWx?) I noticed that workers were assembled a gazebo on the plaza adjacent to HofBrauHaus. It will be great when that trail segment opens, I have to imagine the American Eagle people are getting tired of dodging bicyclists.

Riding north there continued to be a lot of people on the trail. Station Square, West End Circle, McKees Rocks, and Neville Island.

Neville Island is a barren, industrial place and I love it. It's flat, paved, good shoulders and excellent sight lines; there's a Subway and some big parking lots at the RMU Hockey Complex.

My computer showed 49.8 miles in 3h38m, so I figure it's 49. I had planned to ride 50, but I wasn't going to get back on the bike for another mile; that'll be another day.

Today's mileage put me at 318 miles for January 2012, which puts my average miles/day at 10 which is excellent for Me in January. In 2011 I didn't have 300 miles until March 18th.

Lest I become smug, the blog titled I Love Danny Chew, dedicated to Pittsburgh bicyclist Danny Chew, brings news that his January 2012 mileage is over 1000 miles. Incredible.

Monday, January 30, 2012

New Amsterdam and Erwin Lanpher's Reservoir

Gosh, ToTo, we're not in Mt. Lebanon anymore!

01/30/12 #237 18m
Rode 18miles in 42F. Started at the Bastille and rode the trail around the stadia. As I rode around the entrance to Heinz Field there was flotsam and jetsam from the recent high-river flooding. Which led me to peruse and wonder, which is what? Can you have just flotsam and not jetsam?

Turns out that the debris was not flotsam and jetsam which are types of shipwrecked materials. It is also not marine debris, which is man-made.

I am inclined to consider it tidewrack, which describes the materials completely - but alas, there is no significant tidal action to account for it. For now, driftwood will have to do. Where is Etymology Man when you need him?

I continued along the Allegheny, past the 31Street and the 40th Street Bridges, and rode into Millvale with the intention of exploring the land route to Sharpsburg.

Climbing up to Evergreen Avenue my front wheel didn't want to stay down, the bike wanted to rotate away from the slope. It was an interesting experience. I tried to correct by standing on the pedals and moving my well-established center of gravity closer to the front wheel. That did not help, and being clipped in to my pedals I felt a bit precarious. Fortunately, I ran out of hill before I ran out of balance and inertia. Baby got inertia.

As I worked my way around on Friday Street I came upon a vast expanse of concrete which would make an excellent playground or a field for stickball or street hockey. Turns out to be the Lanpher Reservoir, named in honor of Erwin Lanpher, a waterworks engineer who made remarkable contributions to reducing typhoid deaths in Pittsburgh by improving the quality of the water supply.

In 1907, Pittsburgh had 648 Deaths from typhoid fever (125.2 per 100,000 residents).
In 1927, Pittsburgh had 12 Deaths from typhoid fever (1.8 per 100,000 residents).
The change is attributed to Erwin Lanpher. (We consider this an effective rebuttal to those who say, Wait a minute - the Government shouldn't be running the water supply!) Chapeau Mr. Lanpher!

I turned south and crossed the Allegheny on the Route8 bridge, and turned west on Butler Street back toward downtown. At 45th Street I came upon the mural shown at the top of the post, which puzzled me because I always associated New Amsterdam with New York City. This mural is along one of Lawrenceville's new establishments, NewAmsterdam, which Mr. Munch enjoyed.

It's an interesting contrast to Saturday's Mount Lebanon mural. Also of interest, the recent mural is painted over an old, faded ghost sign - a painted advertisement for Uneeda Biscuits.

Rode Butler Street, Penn, and Railroad to the Strip Trail and Point State Park. Crossed the Ft. Duquesne bridge and rode back to the Bastille. A thoroughly enjoyable ride.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ancho Mex Latte @ Blue Horse Coffee

01/28/12 #236 8m
School activities provided me the opportunity to drop my Daughter off at Seton-LaSalle high school for an activity, and then pick her up a couple of hours later, so I saw it as a chance to ride around Dormont and Mt. Lebanon, which are places I'm not very familiar with.

I was pleased to see a Pamela's P&G Diner where I took the photo above, and although I expected to meet somebody that resembled Lovie and Thurston Howell I didn't see anybody like that.

Today's coffeeneuring destination was Blue Horse Coffee at 1535 Washington Road, somewhat across the street from the Galleria. I mean, any coffee shop that ends its "About Us" message with an exhortation to "ride the day" is a place worth checking out.

I asked the folks behind the counter to recommend a drink that might be considered the shop's specialty, and they quickly suggested an Ancho (AHN-choh) Mex latte, saying it was a mixture of coffee, chocolate and chile powder. I've never developed an appreciation of chile peppers, but her enthusiastic recommendation persuaded me and I'm glad I tried it.

The ancho chile latte was a strong taste and a very pleasant surprise - a mix of Mexican cocoa, ancho chile powder and espresso. This was a very effective bike-ride drink on a cold and somewhat gray morning.

The shop had a good selection of pastries, Wifi, and a very nice seating arrangement. It was certainly bike friendly, you could leave your bike on the patio and have it in sight from every seat in the house.

The clientele seemed to skew somewhat older/richer than I usually see, but that's the local demographic; the shop certainly seemed open to all. I'll definitely stop there again.

Back on the road, there wasn't much in the way of a usable shoulder and the local drivers didn't seem very familiar with bikes in traffic, but they certainly made room. My standing rule about being circumspect about riding to places with names like South Hills and/or Mount Lebanon was validated by the local topography.

This was certainly my shortest ride of the year (SROTY) at 8 miles, but it was what the situation permitted. It was great to be able to enjoy the time that I otherwise would have spent in the car listening to NPR.

   1/28/12 Week 4    this week:
83 miles
   1st Qtr 251 miles
9 mi/dayQTR
2012: 251 miles
Weight: Sun:234 Sat:236 Trend: BAD

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ancient Geoglyphs Explained By Baltimore Bicyclist?

01/27/12 #236 0m
PacTom7 is a website documenting Pittsburgh runner Tom's effort to travel over every single bit of paved street in Pittsburgh, running through the city's grid like a PacMan character (hence, PacTom). He tracks every run with a GPS and uses his quest as a tool for continually changing routes.

He produces remarkable artwork with his GPS data:

There is very little new under the sun (VLNUS); using terrain to create artwork that shows up on maps has been around. Geoglyphs are large designs or motifs produced on the ground, typically formed by rocks or durable elements of the geography, such as stones, stone fragments, gravel, or earth. In a way, PacTom's artwork produces virtual geoglyphs.

The cultural significance of the "legacy" physical geoglyphs for their creators is unclear due to a lack of documentation. The 'Works of the Old Men' in Arabia have been described as geoglyphs. Recently some geoglyphs have been discovered in the Amazon Rainforest, in Brazil, among the Megaliths in the Urals. Other areas with geoglyphs include South Australia (Marree Man), Western Australia and parts of the Great Basin Desert in SW United States. Hill figures, turf mazes and the stone-lined labyrinths of Scandinavia, Iceland, Lappland and the former Soviet Union are all types of geoglyph.

The most famous geoglyphs are the Nazca Lines, a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. Scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture between 400 and 650 AD. The hundreds of individual figures range in complexity from simple lines to stylized hummingbirds, spiders, monkeys, fish, sharks, orcas, llamas, and lizards.

Although there are as many theories as PhD candidates explaining the meaning and purpose of the geoglyphs, there is no generally accepted understanding. It may be that the puzzle of the Nazca Lines has been solved by a Baltimore bicyclist, who has created virtual geoglyphs.

Baltimore cyclist Michael Wallace uses his bicycle and his GPS to make the streets of Baltimore into his own canvas by planning, riding and tracking creative routes.

For instance, The Jellyfish Invasion by Michael Wallace:

The Hammer by Michael Wallace:

Post 9-11 Tribute to the Manhattan Skyline by Michael Wallace:

Bicyclists do amazing things.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shit Cyclists Say: Noise and Signal

01/26/12 #233 0m
One of the barriers to any new activity involving equipment is the jargon, which starts off as words to describe that which must be described but morphs (for some) into social code-words that signify standing.

When you begin with the activity you hear the words and you try to figure them out, and you refrain from using them until you're sure what they mean, and you read lists of "widget cycling terms".

And the problem with is that among certain people a certain portion of their speech is just bullshit. If you're listening to a word stream seeking knowledge, how do you know what's noise (bullshit) if it's indistinguishable from the signal?

And so, with that intro, this excellent YouTube on Shit Cyclists Say, which starts with the universal "intro to a sad story", I was just riding along...

Drivers say, I was just driving along when...
Pilots say, I was just flying around when...
Bicyclists say, I was just riding along when...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Coffeeneuring Ride: Big Dog Coffee, Southside

01/24/12 #232 30m
Rode 30miles in 38F today, a marked difference from yesterday's ride but still a great opportunity. Started on Neville Island right under I-79 at the Fairfield-Marriott, rode south along Neville Island and into McKees Rocks.

Tragically earlier today in McKees Rocks the body of a young man was found, shot in the head. Two days in a row, bodies found along my bike route. That trend needs to stop, people.

From McKees Rocks south on 51 to the West End, then Carson Street to the Station Square trail. Continued south on the trail to Southside works, took a right on the street that REI is on, and continued west of Carson Street.

What I love about "west of Carson Street" is that while there may be some gentrification, it's an authentic Pittsburgh neighborhood rather than a generic aspirational-upscale retail facility (AURF) where you can't tell what town you're in.

My path took me just beyond the world-famous Nadine's, which I love but that's more of a breakfast stop for me. Herself was outside and waved as I rode past. Took a left on Sarah and found myself at my coffeeneuring destination, Big Dog Coffee at 2717 Sarah Street.

The location was bike friendly, two Three Rivers bike racks out front - and something I hadn't seen before, a cleat for securing dog leashes, very nice. There's an outside seating area but it wasn't getting much use today.

The interior is really very nice - roomy, high ceilings, well lit. Much more of a residential vibe than, for instance, Espresso a Mano. Wifi, pastries, pleasant staff, great bagels. Big Dog Coffee is now my favorite Southside Works coffee shop.

They're very serious about coffee, as they probably should be. The queue at the counter moves quickly. I really like the layout of rooms.

I left Big Dog Coffee (resolved to stop again and again) and joined the trail at the Hot Metal Bridge, and rode south to Keystone Metals. I really hope that some path through Sandcastle is available this year, even if it's just the new dirt trail by Keystone and a jaunt through the SC parking lot. It makes me think of the old world maps that had monsters and typhoons on the margins, except that on the Pittsburgh trail system the impassable maelstrom is pretty centralized.

Turned north into a strong headwind, which I hadn't really noticed as a tailwind on the first leg. North to Station Square, north on 51. There's a lane restriction where 51 goes down to a single lane south of the McKees Rocks Bridge, but it's only fifty yards and it wasn't a significant issue.

I wore a lightweight wool layer today and ended up a little bit cold in the torso, and that's not necessarily a bad thing; it's better than overheating.

Rode through the Rox and Neville Island, and stopped at I79 in the hotel parking lot. 30 miles on the computer and 38 on the (virtual) thermometer. Longest ride of the year to date (LROTY).

Today's ride also puts me at an average of 10 miles/day for January, which is pretty cool.

After the ride I stretched the comfort zone and washed my bicycle. It actually looks very nice when it's all clean and you can see the details rather than the accrued crud.

Monday, January 23, 2012

55, Bike Shorts, and a YinSter

01/23/12 #233 26m

Yesterday there was five or six inches of snow on the ground. Terribly rainy and mild temps this morning followed by several hours of bright blue skies and 55F, so the surface was very wet but atmospheric conditions were wonderful.

I skipped the long pants, the shoe booties, the wool layer, and the jacket and ended up riding in bike shorts, a UnderArmour ColdGear shirt, and a bike jersey.

Rode from the Bastille around to the Science Center, where the trail was closed for some police activity that involved boats in the water. But they did a good job of closing it, bright markings and an officer telling you where to get back on.

Rode around the stadia on the paved trail, and when the trail turns to dirt I went on the road to avoid the wet, slushy muck. Used the 31st Street Bridge to cross the river, and took the photo above. (Ordinarily I'd crop the gratuitous blue sky at the top of the photo, but in December January in Pittsburgh I'm not cropping any blue sky, thank you.)

Took Penn and Butler over to Espresso a Mano, excellent coffee and atmosphere as always. The sun was so warm I was tempted to remove the UnderArmour.

Riding toward the Cork Factory along Railroad Street I had a very positive experience, a police car coming from behind slowed way down rather than passing me and stayed back at my 8:00 position, I thought man, what's this going to be? so I stopped, and he waved me on explaining that he just didn't want to right-hook me. Totally unexpected.

I rode the Convention Center trail behind a young rider (potentially a YinSter, the famous Pittsburgh Yinzer Hipster, it's really obscure you probably haven't heard of it) who had a beautiful bike with a really nice wooden fender, the type you find at ClankWorks, which was keeping the spray off his messenger bag.

Rode to the Point and around to the Mon Wharf Trail. Instead of portaging up the staircase as has been my routine, I rode the ramp up to the street as S. recently showed me and it's a much better transition.

Jail Trail to Hot Metal Bridge, where I saw the new snow shovels locked to the fence for bicyclists to use; very nice. Hung a left onto the Baldwin Borough Trail. The very southern end of the trail, just north of Keystone Metals, is in quite a bit more shade than the rest of the area, and so there was a lot more slush/snow still on the trail.

Came back via Station Square, and it started raining as I crossed the Fort Pitt Bridge, Point State Park, and the Fort Duquesne Bridge. The rain stopped as I got down to the river on the northside. The trail was open now at the Carnegie Science Center, and as I rode along the Ohio there was a beautiful rainbow. And I rode back to the Bastille uneventfully.

My bicycle is getting really dirty, and in spite of my commitment to not cleaning it I may have to wash it, it's almost disrespectful to let it get this dirty.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunny Sunday Sojourn

01/22/12 #234 19m
Rode 19 miles in 34F.

Today was a bright blue afternoon, highlighting the still-white half-foot of snow on the ground. With a temp of 34F and a promise of rain tomorrow, and with not having ridden for six days, I really needed to ride.

I rode on streets in Beaver County (Center, Hopewell, Aliquippa) that don't see a lot of bicycles compared to the city, and furthermore with the recent snow the shoulders weren't rideable, so I was taking the lane in an area not used to it.
Everybody was very nice - which I usually find in cold temperatures, as long as they can see you they give you a little more of a bubble when you're out in Rule5 weather.

It's interesting to me that (with the exception of toes and fingers) the most frequent issue in winter riding is overheating.

The ride kicked my butt a little more than I thought it would, I'm not sure whether it's de-conditioning over a 6-day layoff or an incipient flu that's been hinting for a rollout. I'd like to play the normal bicyclist's card and say "this was a recovery day" but that's a stretch after a 6-day layoff.

One man (surprise!) yelled something at me, I chose to think it was a compliment on my front blinky. There's a lot of grit and runoff on the roads from a recent storm, hopefully tomorrow's rain will clear that up.

It was good to be back on the bike.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sat 1/21 wrapup

Sat 01/21/12 #234 0m

   1/21/12 Week 3    this week:
25 miles
   1st Qtr 168 miles
8 mi/dayQTR
2012: 168 miles
Weight: Mon:239 Sat:234 Trend: good

Monday, January 16, 2012

Yarn Bombs and One Shot Facades

01/16/12 #239 25m 43F 2h02m

I love riding a bicycle but it does take up significant blocks of time. Throw in sunrise/sunset times, a few obligations, and the vagaries of "partly cloudy" and it becomes difficult to get in a significant ride.

Today I made it out to the Bastille (Western Penitentiary) on the trail at 3pm just in time for the rain to start. I knew the forecast for the next few days would be worse to I started pedaling and after a few miles it was great to be back on the bike, just like it always is.

I rode around the stadia and out to Millvale, and took the 40th Street Bridge and Butler Street. At 3629 Butler Street, just a few doors down from fave coffee shop Espresso A Mano, I saw one of the now-ubiquitous Three Rivers Bike Racks in front of a clothing boutique named Pavement (fb , TribR), was no ordinary bike rack.

This one was very cool, and instead of my bike having to scratch up against a coarse and frozen bike rack, my bike was welcome with a warm and soft bike rack.

The bike rack had been Yarn Bombed, aka guerrilla knitting, urban knitting or graffiti knitting, which is a genre of street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted cloth. It's the way your Aunt Betty might do graffiti.

I've seen one previous incident of yarnbombing in Pittsburgh, when somebody had knitted a red sweater for the Mr. Rogers statue by the stadium. Sometimes it's the little things. My compliments to the Crochet Commandoes.

{Pavement is (according to the website) a locally-owned, neighborhood boutique featuring a creatively curated selection of shoes, clothing and hand-made accessories. If they're the people responsible for the knitting on the bike rack I think that's very cool.}

I continued along and joined the trail at the Cork Factory, but as I passed the Strip District I saw some unusual things: uniformed American GI's conversing with Middle Easterners in traditional dress, hobnobbing and making happy talk as if the lion had lain down with the lamb.

As I slowed to see what was up, I also saw a Humvee parked next to some sort of a Middle Eastern house. The bright lights and the Burgh accents from the people standing around helped me to realize that this was filming for the movie One Shot, based on the book by Lee Child and due in hexamegaplexes on Feb 8 2013.

A friend of mine J. works as an extra in these movies and I milled around trying to see if he was there. I was surprised that nobody asked me to leave, and then I realized that with my black pants and freshly clean yellow jacket, I probably resembled the Pittsburgh bike police on the scene. (Some people derisively refer to my type of jacket as a YJA, but I can't fail to use the high-viz). Something about my physique must have suggested donuts.

I got back on the trail, rode to the Point, Blvd of the Allies, Grant Street and the Jail Trail, Junction Hollow up to CMU, and back down the hill. Going north on the Jail Trail I exchanged waves with bicyclist Kordite, I was pleased to see him in a "seen-at" sort of way; for a long time his trip reports were the only thing you could find online about riding Pittsburgh to DC, and we really benefitted from his reports.

Continues north on the Jail Trail, across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge and back to the car. 25.2 miles, mostly in rain (but I needed a little Rule 5 time after wussing out the last two days), An excellent ride. It is always good to get on the bike.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Securing Rear Bike Lights on Bicycle Racks: Bring Me My Windows 3.1

01/14/12 #239
19F and snowing today, and so I permitted my superior judgement to permit my superior skillz to take the day off.

There's a Phoenix bicyclist that I enjoy reading at http://onespeedgo.blogspot.com/, he seems a well-composed and thoughtful person, and when I saw a recent post headline I became quite excited: Rear Rack Taillight Standardized Mounting Dreams Made Real.

Could it be true? Have the stars aligned? Is it a foreshadowing of the Mayan end times? Mounting bicycle tail lights on a rear rack has been a vexing issue for me.

Unfortunately, the blog post did not bring news of an emerging industry standard. No, we did not adopt the Euro rear light/reflector mounting standard. The writer had taken tools in hand and fabricated his own (and fairly elegant) kludge, and (rightfully) he considered it an accomplishment.

Generally, we end up with people with really nice bikes who hand-fashion one-off solutions, which often involve fashioning a support that appears to be a seat tube, since all the lights provide mounts for seat tubes:

It's crazy to me that you can spend $50 and up on a rear light that will not reliably affix to your rear rack. Yes, you might zip-tie it and you might clip it onto a bag strap or a coat or a messenger bag, but then the now-remarkable optics will be askew and you'll end up projecting a powerful beam of light up into the air and not into the eyes of the truck behind you.

I really want Them to fix This. I'd like to have one or two templates for what the mounting points on the back of a rear rack might be, and then have higher-end lights be compatible with those templates. I think it might help me to avoid being killed, or at least to maximize the Guilt upon the Driver who does kill me.

This morning I contemplated the great buggery of it all, and then it struck me: I've seen this problem before. When 8086-PCs first came out, none of the devices/software could work together; you needed drivers to intermediate the process. It was a goat-rope; your WordPerfect 4.2 might not have a driver for your HP DeskJet+ if you were still running DOS-5. Every software producer was chasing the swirling range of hardware, and every hardware producer was flummoxed by the upgrading versions of software, and it didn't work very well. It was very frustrating.

Then we got Windows 3.1. Not only was it a graphic user interface, but it provided a standard platform; if your hardware worked with the Windows 3.1 specification, and if your software worked with Windows 3.1, then you could be assured of functionality (UGMT- usually, generally, most of the time).

The hardware people and the software people now only had to worry about a single dimension of change; what would Windows change? And there was really a great improvement delivered by the all-promising Windows.

As happens, after ten years the solution becomes the new problem 2.0, and we've forgotten how glad we were to have Windows 3.1 back in the day.

Somehow, I find myself wishing for Windows 3.1 for my rear bike light / rear rack interface. It's a curious turn of events.

Since I'm fantasizing, I also want to see a standard for a bicycle electric supply. Bicyclists are carrying AA, AAA, recharger packs for proprietary batteries, USB dongles (both mini-USB and USB-2, btw), hearing aid batteries for the new LEDs, and none of them work with each other. I've got three four different power sources running on my bike: AA, AAA, hearing aid, and proprietary.

I'd really appreciate a standard platform that allows me to operate all my lights, either on batteries or on a dynamo circuit. I would pay a premium for an electric/light platform that offers some robust diversity in power sources - yes, you can run your dynamo, and if the dynamo craps out you can use your rechargeable AAs or your solar panel- and all your lights would have compatible connectors. I would really like this.

And if you were using rechargables, they should all accept the same mini-USB jack as cellphones do; every traveling cyclist is already carrying a cellphone charger.


   1/14/12 Week 2    this week:
78 miles
   1st Qtr 143 miles
10.2 mi/dayQTR
2012: 143 miles
Weight: Mon:241 Sat:239 Trend: good

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Eve of the Eye of the Sturm of the Century

01/12/12 #240 26m 45F
Rode 26 miles around the city, figuring that after the last two days of rain the Montour Trail would be way too soft.

The next two days promise the Sturm of the Century, which is a pretty easy standard to achieve since we're only 12 years into the Century.

Started at the Bastille and I got a good look at the site where an old warehouse has just been taken down, somebody just got a beautiful riverfront property to do something with. I really appreciated the way they handled the truck traffic and the trail during the project, and I kind of miss the alternate route they constructed because with its mud and orange snow-fence, it was as close as I'll ever get to riding on a cyclo-cross track.

I rode around the Stadia to Millvale and the 40th Street Bridge. Railroad Avenue, Point State Park, Blvd of the Allies, Grant Street, Jail Trail.

Second Avenue, Junction Hollow Trail where I fell into conversation with a bicyclist riding home from work. He had a very effective front light, a CygoLight, and he was explaining that it was expensive and he'd bought it for his wife to use but he ended up getting to use it, sort of a two-wheel Gift of the Maji thing. I would have enjoyed continuing to talk with him but our routes diverged.

Rode up the hill via Boundary Ave to CMU, turned around after catching my breath and descended back to the Jail Trail, Hot Metal Bridge, SouthSide Trail, Station Square Trail, Ft. Pitt Bridge, Ft. Duquesne Bridge.

On the way back to the Bastille I encountered a dense flock of ducks who just didn't want to get out of the way, and in spite of my yelling "Move Duck Move" in my best Jens Voigt voice I ran over one with my rear wheel. I got off the bike to see what was up, and to see if it was suffering or dead, but none of them seemed to be the worse for wear.

The victim was probably calling Attorney Edgar Snyder.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Videos of 2012 Icycle Bicycle Ride

01/11/12 #239 No Ride

2012 Icycle Bicycle Video-1. This shows the pre-ride meet and greet and some footage of the ride itself. Really excellent sound track, too.

2012 Icycle Bicycle Video-2. This is a significantly longer video, seems like it was taken with a helmet-cam. And if this is what helmet-cams can do, Wow. It's a good documentation of all the different types of bike and bicyclists that came out, and of the non-hectic tone of the New Year's Day ride.

There's some great Dave Brubeck music in the second half of this video, which shows the entire ride route.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Grannies, Turbines, and Bents

01/10/12 #239 29m 45F
Rode 29 miles on Pittsburgh paved trails with S and S in a blue-sky, 45F day. Our group started at the Bastille, road around the Casino to the 31st Street Bridge, and took Railroad Street to the Cork Factory and the Strip District Trail.

I don't know what to call the Strip District Trail - the Strip Trail, the Convention Center Trail, the Lawrenceville Trail, the Larry Trail (I like that).

We continued to Point State Park (still, still under construction) and used the Mon Whorf Trail to the Jail Trail. It was a beautiful day.

At the south end of the Jail Trail (88 Swinburne Street) we rode around via Second Avenue to the Junction Hollow Trail. This was a very nice climb, but it prompted a discussion of yesterday's FatCyclist post in which matriarchs "of a certain age" object to using the term granny gear to identify the bailout gear, aka the lowest gear, aka the little ring in the front and the big ring in the back.

We are informed that alternative terms include Easy Gear, Geezer Gear or perhaps The Gear Formerly Known as Granny. One story calls them vegetable gears.

As we climbed Boundary Street we saw a vertical axis wind turbine on the CMU campus, it looked like a Helix turbine, very cool indeed. I would like it even more with a red stripe so it looks like it's screwing itself into the ground.

We reversed and descended down through the Junction Hollow Trail, and as we started riding to the Hot Metal Bridge we started seeing quite a few cyclists, almost as if the afternoon school bell had rung and they were coming out to play.

As we rode south on the Baldwin Trail to Keystone Metal we saw a few novel bicycles, a recumbent (with a bicyclist talking on his cellphone, I think), two recumbent trikes that looked very fast, and a LWB recumbent.

As we stopped at Keystone Metals for a snack I realized that I'd lost track of my time and I needed to get back to my car in order to make a meeting, so I left S. and S. and rode north with (what amounts to) dispatch. I took the HMB, the Jail Trail, First Avenue, the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, back to the car. This was a really quick pace for me, I would not ordinarily have done it and it made for a really good workout.