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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Coffeeneuring: The Fountainhead Cafe

02/29/12 #235 11m 49F
Not a long ride, 11 miles around Monaca PA.

The day's rain stopped and the streets dried and there was enough daylight left for a ride for a cup of coffee so I took the road bike out and went to The FountainHead Cafe. I had a Latte and one of Corina's Cupcakes and they were both wonderful.

I asked John, one of the owners, if the name of the place was an Ayn Rand reference or a homage to the municipal fountain across the street, and he explained it was all about Ayn. (If he had been a mime, he might have hunched over and shrugged.)

I sat and enjoyed the coffee and the cupcake and got involved in a phone call and when the call was over I realized it was twilight, so I scooted back on the bike and rode home.

Very nice coffee shop, I'll be back there again.

The ride home went well, a few hills and it was a good ride.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Overnight Rides as Gateway Drugs to Bicycle Evangelization

02/28/12 #235 0m
Attended a presentation by Jim Sayer of Adventure Cycling at CMU. (Now I can say I went to CMU, I guess).

Adventure Cycling is a non-profit (established as BikeCentennial in 1973) organized around supporting travel by bicycle through map and route planning, advocacy, organized tours, and more.

The Adventure Cycling headquarters is in Montana, along one of the cross-country routes, and bicyclists are encouraged to stop by for a cold drink and to get their photo taken. There's a great variety of poses that trans-America riders (don't call them trannies) present, such as this one:

Jim Sayer explained this photo by telling the story of Blaine Bare, of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Mr. Bare was riding to Oregon but did not have a bankroll to fund his ride, so he carried a pushmower and cut lawns across America to pay his expenses. (The point was, there's a lot of ways to get there.)

The presentation talked about the economic impact of bicycle touring and the return on bicycle infrastructure investment. (For instance, Portland's extensive, world-class bike trail system cost $60 Million dollars; the same amount would buy 1 mile of highway.) An economic analysis in Wisconsin revealed that bicycle tourism contributes more to the state's economy that hunting does, which surprised many people.

There was a good explanation of Adventure Cycling's route system and route maps, and there were sample maps - very impressive, first maps I've seen that were really designed for on-the-bike usage. The newest route, the Underground Railroad Route, includes a spur from Pittsburgh.

He gave a good briefing on the effort over the last few years to develop a National Trails System. (click here for a primer on US Bicycle Routes.)

He also took pains to explain that the US Bicycle Route System is a work in progress and not something that you can go use today.

Mr. Sayer went on to discuss Adventure Cycling's next initiative in bicycle advocacy, not in terms of legislation but in terms of increasing participation (evangelization). This is a topic that's of great interest to me. My early (puerile) view of bicycle advocacy was legislative (sharrows, trails, routes) but increasingly I'm coming to see that the path is participation; if we can get more people on bicycles, then the money and the politics will follow.

The proposition that Adventure Cycling will be pursuing is that urging people to ride across America won't really produce bicycle advocacy; rather, urging people to take an overnight trip on their bicycle will provide a low-cost, non-threatening way to experience bike travel, and the rest builds from there. Because once you've got somebody who takes two or three one-night trips per year, you've got somebody that supports bike legislation and you've grown the base.

Serendipitous case in point: today's blog post by two DC riders who take an overnight trip.

The overnight bike trip is referred to as the S24O (ess-two-four-ohh) by Grant Peterson in this article. The acronym S24O means Sub 24-hour Overnight, and the idea is that you start out in the afternoon, ride your bike for a while, spend the night (B&B, hotel, spa, tent) and then ride back the next morning. Not a threatening experience, doesn't cost $1000, don't have to risk a week of vacation time to try it. The money line of the presentation was: "The overnight bike trip is the Gateway Drug to Bicycle Travel.

One of the tenets of this strategy is to say, Every bike is a traveling bike, because there's lots of different versions of traveling. Some people want to carry tents and sleeping bags, some people want to carry clothes and go to the hotel, some people want to pack a credit card and a toothbrush - that's all bike travel, and there's a niche for every bicycle in that spectrum. So every bike is a traveling bike, and Adventure Cycling isn't picking favorites with any product line over another.

With all that in mind, Adventure Cycling is rolling out a new website, BikeOvernights.org that hopes to support their initiative. The tagline is, Don't wait to go cross-country. Go overnight.

It was an excellent briefing.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Blowy Monday

02/27/12 #236 28m
Rode 28m in 48F with R and S.

Mild tempts, mostly cloudy and quite windy, the clouds were blowing by at a good clip.

I met S and R at the Bastille, and we rode the trail along the Casino and along the Allegheny. The trail surface was better than I expected, not really mushy at all. We crossed the river using the 40th Street Bridge.

Coming off the bridge we noticed a brief trail segment along the south bank of the Allegheny, shown here in Google Maps. This looks like an outpost of the eventual Point-ConventionCenter-Strip-Lawrenceville trail.

(to see bike trails in Google maps, click Directions, then Bicycle)

We took Butler Street to Espresso a Mano. As we were locking up the bikes I commented on a poster in the window, "Pittsburgh: 3 Rivers, 6 Rings, 19 Libraries" about a recent budget brouhaha and I really liked the placard, and I found myself in conversation with the coffee shop's poster maven who was sitting outside with her dog. The place was pretty filled with people sipping lattes and laptops sipping wifi, but we found a few seats in the back. Very good coffee.

After we came out of the coffee shop we rode to the river to see if we might intercept the trail segment but we had already ridden past it. We rode to Smallman Street and Railroad Ave to the Cork Factory and the Convention Center Trail, then the Ft. Pitt Bridge where we encountered Bob Miller of Grupetto Pittsburgh. A nice day brings riders out in February. We continued to SouthSide. It was very windy and it seemed to be coming from a variety of directions.

At Southside we decided to continue down to Keystone Metals, just short of Sandcastle, and we also decided to eschew the ride up Junction Hollow. We reversed at Keystone Metals and turned north into the wind. It was a bit of work to get back to the Ft. Pitt Bridge.

Took the Ft. Pitt Bridge (passing a diamond-frame and a 'bent rider), the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, and home via the Casino Trail.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

HofBrauHaus Vantage Point

02/22/12 #238 28m
Rode 28miles in 41F.

Started at the Bastille riding on my road bike, an aluminum Trek1100 that I really haven't been on with since June. It was nice to be reacquainted, I really enjoy the light frame and the consequent acceleration. This bike has a noseless saddle and there's quite a loss of control from not being able to apply body english through the seat.

Rode around the Casino and out Washington's Landing, then the 31st Street Bridge. Rode Railroad Street to the Strip Trail, then popped out into the Strip District to check out PrestoGeorge for some tea shopping, very nice shop.

Back on the trail, Point State Park, Ft. Pitt Bridge, Southside Trail down to Keystone Metals. Reversed north under somewhat ominous skies, just a few drops of rain, nothing more came of that.

At the Hot Metal Bridge, the path around American Eagle to the new trail section appears to be open (the ramp from the bridge is still fenced off). Took the new trail around to the main plaza behind HofBrauHaus, it's all very impressive, see photo above.

Continued along the new space, past the large ingots and rejoined the SouthSide Trail to Station Square, Ft. Pitt and Ft. Duquesne bridges, and back to the Bastille. A very nice ride, it was great to be on the road bike, and it was a treat to ride the new trail segment behind American Eagle and HofBrauHaus.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Embedded Wayfinding and Navigation Support

02/19/12 #235 0m
Navigation through unfamiliar spaces is a familiar challenge, and we have all sorts of standards and devices to support wayfinding in an urban environment. From The Atlantic Cities, this way-cool manhole cover from Seoul, South Korea:

How cool would that be, riding through an unfamiliar city and the manhole covers are embedded navigation?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Plush, Pleasant Saturday Two-Fer

02/18/12 #236 34m 38F
Rode 34miles in 3h14m (pi-time!) in pleasant weather.

Started my own riding from the Jail Trail at Swinburne Street to take a picture of two murals, one of which I've passed a hundred times and never noticed (not noticing is a recurring theme for me). One photo was of the "Unauthorized, Unfunded Mural" at the top of this post.

This second photo is an amateur composite image of "Walk on Through", a 2004 mural by Gerard Tonti, located on the Jail Trail between the Hot Metal Bridge and the Swinburne Street Trailhead:

Started a group ride with Gruppetto Pittsburgh along with Janie, Bob, Frank, Denny, Gil, Carol, and Kim, departing from Swinburne Street and crossing the Hot Metal Bridge and the Station Square Trail. Across the Ft. Pitt bridge and the Ft. Duquesne bridge, and the Chateau Trail to the Bastille.

From the trailhead we took Westhall, turn right New Beaver, immediate left on Eckert, underpass, turn left McClure, turn right on Woods Run Ave, which keeps a persistent yet humane climb up to the Allegheny Observatory.

At the top I realized I had a time crunch, as did Kim and Bob, so we departed the group and descended Perrysville Ave. and Federal Street Extension down to Allegheny Center. Then we took Ridge Ave and Allegheny Ave to the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, where I parted company with Kim and Bob. This was an excellent descent and a quick route from the top of Riverview Park down to the Point.

At Point State Park I met S, who'd been volunteering during the day and we rode down to the Hot Metal Bridge, and took the Baldwin Borough Trail down to Keystone Metals. Although we noticed no tailwind heading south, when we reversed and turned north it felt like a considerable headwind.

Approaching Station Square, in a parklet abeam South 6th Street on the river, somebody had decorated the chairs, benches, bike racks etc with a collection of stuffed plush doll/figures, it was very colorful but I'm not sure what was going on there.

We took the Station Square Trail and the Ft. Pitt Bridge, and from Point State Park we each headed to our respective cars.

I took Blvd of the Allies, Grant Street, and the Jail Trail back to the Swinburne Street trailhead. As I was packing up a long van pulled in carrying Roy Weil and Mary Shaw, which is a bit like being in the parking lot at the Rome airport and bumping in to the Pope. (no disrespect) They were using their really cool long wheelbase tandem recumbent trike, which is a string of words that does not ordinarily come in a single phrase.

It was a very nice day for bicycling for Pittsburgh in February.

   2/18/12 Week 6    this week:
89 miles
   1st Qtr 477 miles
9.9 mi/dayQTR
2012: 477 miles
Weight: Sun:237 Sat:235 Trend: BAD

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Modicum of Diversion Keeps Ennui At Bay

02/15/12 #233 27m 39F 2h24m

It's Pittsburgh on a somewhat blue-gray cloudy February day and I found myself wanting something different in today's route, since of modicum of diversion keeps ennui at bay (which is a funny thing for a monagamist to say).

I started at the Bastille, rode around the stadia and took River Avenue to the 31st Street Bridge, then broke new ground to the amazement of the watching throng by riding Penn Avenue and not turning onto Butler Street.

Penn Avenue was a great ride, a nice gentle climb and before too long I was rewarded with an unexpected mural at 3613 Penn Ave, Thoughts On a Blue Sky, Sept. 2009, by John Pena and Brian Brown:

I continued along Penn until I reached the "new" Children's Hospital, and poked around until I found the second mural of the day at 4202 Penn Ave, Lawrenceville, Fabric of the Commmunity, Sept. 2004 by Jackie Kresak:

Having bagged two murals, I reached my limit for the day, and any future mural sightings would be saved for future documentation.

I continued east along Penn into Bloomfield-Garfield, which I'd never been in and I have to say WOW, how come I didn't know about this? Totally awesome, and I finally got to see Kraynick's bike shop. I saw at least three murals in Garfield, including one which I believe is by Shepard Fairey, and an intriguing coffee shop (Voluto Coffee) which I'll need to check out on my next visit.

My sketchy plan was to penetrate on Penn until such a point that I might hit Squirrel Hill, because I wanted to ride Greenfield down to Second - I'd just bumped into that street a few weeks ago and thought it would be a nice ride.

I turned right on South Negley, and when S. Negley crossed Fifth I encountered once again the Hill That Makes Me Want To Cry. Once again, I am chagrined to say, I did not ride all the way up, and needed to dismount and walk. It is a poor artisan who blames his tools, and I am not blaming my Granny gear for her insufficiency, but that hill kicked my ass - to the point at which when I reached the summit (and it can only be called a summit, or perhaps a peak) a city fire truck driving by stopped to see if I was OK (which was extraordinarily kind of them).

I rode into Squirrel Hill and along Murray Avenue, which is a high-distraction, target rich environment and unfortunately, I'm one of the targets. I did notice a bike policeman at Murray and Forbes.

Crossed the Parkway and took Lilac Street to Greenfield and it was a very pleasant descent, I did see one more mural in Greenfield which I'll have to return for another day. This was the route across town:

At the bottom of Greenfield I took the Jail Trail and the Hot Metal Bridge, rode out to Keystone Metals and back, and rode north along the SouthSide Trail.

At times I feel like an inobservant clod. Last week, for the first time I noticed a dog park at the Southside Riverfront Park. It doesn't look new, and I'm through there pretty regularly, but I never noticed it until I saw some people working through the double-gate.

Today, after I rode the Ft. Pitt bridge and was descending into Point State Park, I noticed that the American flag being flown was decidedly non-standard, possibly 13 stars I'm not sure. If it's been that way forever and I've just noticed it I'm going to feel very stoopid.

Across the Ft. Duquesne bridge, back to the Bastille, and the car was still there and it started (always nice). A great ride today in 39F. My chain is skipping, jumping, and dropping under load pretty frequently, it's time for a drive train overhaul. Fortunately, when I came home the nice people from UPS had delivered by new 20-tooth, 5-bolt, 58bcd small chainring, and now the overhaul can begin.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GPS Bike GeoGlyph and Zen Pannier Racks

02/14/12 #235 0m

Following up on an earlier post on GPS-bike geoglyphs, and via ForTheLoveOfBikes, we have a Valentine's Day GPS-Bike GeoGlyph by Payam Rajabi for his girl Clare:

I've been seeking advice about bicycle camping, aka bike packing (vs. backpacking), in preparation for what I hope to do this spring and summer.

I've asked about the best tent/sleeping pad combo, and I've been getting a lot of feedback that the best tent isn't a tent, it's a Hennessy Hammock:

I've also been asking advice on other equipment, and I've been given another Zen-like paradox: rackless bike bags. Why carry the weight of racks?

So much to learn, and so much to unlearn.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Mileage

02/13/12 #238 28m 2h28m 34F

I was experiencing a bit of cabin fever because it's been about six days since my last ride (although there's no complaining about this year's winter) and I was eager to get a ride in today, because the next few days are not promising. Today was cold and dry.

I drove to the Bastille trailhead and got my togs on. In deference to the low temperature I wore my mid-weight wool sweater, my Wombat gloves, and I put chemical toe warmers inside my booties. Inevitably, I lifted my bike off the rack and found a flat front tire. Argghhhh.

I couldn't find a leak anywhere, and it seemed like the valve core itself was loose so I tightened it and hoped for the best. Generally you don't use pliers to fix tires. It did seem to fix the problem, although I was not sanguine at starting a ride in 34F with a questionable wheel.

I rode around the Casino and the stadia, and encountered a trail closure at the baseball stadium - fortunately, the Friends of the Riverfront had advertised the closure (concrete work, Feb 6 to April 1) on their Facebook page so it was no surprise.

Continued along River Street to the 31st Street Bridge, then got back on the trail. It looked as if somebody had used the volunteer's shovels to clear the snow from the new concrete piers, very nice job. Went into Millvale looking for the mural, "A Walk Through Millvale" (2003) by Sandy Kessler Kaminsky, located at 112 Lincoln Ave Millvale, PA 15209.

It's a great mural. I can identify Marc Chatellier's Bakery, Mr. Small's Funhouse and Recording Studio, the Lincoln Ave. Pamela's, the 40th Street Bridge, and possibly St. Nicholas' Church.

Crossed the (actual) 40th Street Bridge, and rode west on Butler Street. At 3711 Butler Street, the location of Elisco Advertising's Creative Cafe (fresh ideas served daily!), I saw this mural which I believe is in the parking lot for an adjacent hair salon:

No information available on the work's title or artist.

Joined the Strip Trail at the Cork Factory, there was more snow on this than I expected, and rode around to the Point. Used Boulevard of the Allies to Grant Street, and the Jail Trail to the Hot Metal Bridge.

It appeared that on both ends of the Hot Metal Bridge, volunteers had used the shovels provided to clear a path through the snow, many thanks! I took the Baldwin Trail south to Keystone Metals, entertained hopeful thoughts about the Sandcastle Solution, and then reversed and rode north through South Side Works.

Quite a few runners out, not too many bicyclists. I did see one bicyclist, opposite direction in an orange jacket, who gave an excellent demonstration of the effectiveness of a good front blinky - it caught my eye much earlier than he would have otherwise.

Dropped my chain climbing around the curve to the Ft. Pitt Bridge, this is happening more and more, the Long Haul Trucker is due for a drivetrain overhaul in the near future.

Took the Ft. Duquesne Bridge and the Casino Trail back to the Bastille, saw a few more bicyclists out. It was a pleasure to get off the bike at 5:40 pm and still be in daylight.

This was a great ride that I really needed. The toe warmers were extremely effective, I wasn't cold at all on this ride.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Newly Recognized Invisibility Effect Causes Hundreds of Bicyclist Deaths Each Year

02/11/12 # 0m

You may be familiar with military research over the past few years moving from stealth technology into invisibility devices, the very "cloaking devices" of science fiction. For instance, a Japanese team is working on an "invisibility poncho" that includes cameras and projectors to make the poncho's wearer somewhat camouflaged, if not invisible.

European scientists have taken another approach to the issue, focusing on making vehicles invisible, initially attempting to duplicate reports of Albert Einstein riding an invisible bicycle in Prague:

Some progress and in fact success was made in this European research, although a few persistent problems proved insoluble:
  • bike manufacturers resented it
  • bicyclists look stupid without bikes
  • they kept losing the bikes

An American inventor was able to develop a somewhat invisible bike by using transparent lucite rather than carbon fiber:

His work proved to be commercially unsuccessful because while he appealed to several market niches — hipsters liked the single-speed configuration, minimalists liked the spare design, and bearded Unix-admin recumbent riders liked the sandals — the niches were mutually exclusive and the conflict was intolerable. He did, however, win a design award from Hincapie Sports for introducing clothing that normalizes traditional bicycle kit.

While interesting or amusing, these approaches did little to advance the body of knowledge. Inevitably, a British researcher solved the problem by using Google to search the amassed content of the internet. His technique? He did Google searches on driver didn't see bicyclist.

His initial search strings were "driver didn't see bicyclist wearing helmet" and "driver didn't see bicyclist no helmet", but then realized that the terms relating to helmet use were redundant since every single article seemed to invoke them.

The research, to be published in an upcoming issue of The Royal Scientist, indicates that in order to achieve invisibility of both rider and bicycle, the following items should be assembled:
  • brightly colored clothing
  • bright yellow jacket
  • body visability augmentors- reflective anklebands, helmet blinkies, bright gloves, etc
  • a brightly colored bicycle
  • reflectors
  • lights (either battery or dynamo powered, no discernable difference)
  • one additional element of bike schwag - a messenger bag, a U-lock, a spoke card, etc
Apparently, the integration of all these items into a single quantum unit moving on a paved road at a speed over 8 kilometers-per-hour (kph) introduces a special field effect that renders both the bike and bicycle invisible. The effect is not noticable on unpaved surfaces such as trails.

Warning: Combining these objects on a paved surface may result in unexpected invisibility!

In response to circulated drafts of the peer-reviewed article, public safety experts are alarmed that this newly described phenomena may account for hundreds of previously unrecognized (and preventable) tragic deaths each year.

(Thanks to The Invisible Visible Man for inspiration.)

   2/11/12 Week 5    this week:
80 miles
   1st Qtr 388 miles
2012: 388 miles
Weight: Sun:237 Sat:237 Trend: BAD

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Two Andy's, Occupy Pittsburgh, Trojan Horse and Bike Police

02/07/12 #21 1h52m 21m
A shorter ride today; I'm playing the Recovery Ride card. I started at the Bastille and wanted to seek some variation in my routine, so I went south over the Duquesne Bridge. I intended to ride the Mon Whorf but Point State Park has a lot of new barriers up, so I took Blvd. of the Allies over to the Smithfield Street Bridge so as to begin my quest for the intersection of Smithfield Street and Strawberry Way, which promised an urban mural.

As I rode along Smithfield Street with the Mon River at my back, I was pretty sure I'd find Strawberry Way but as I continued across town my certainty started to waiver. I started looking for a Pittsburgh policeman or a Fedex driver to ask about Strawberry Way when I saw a bike cop ahead. He was moving along pretty well, but I caught up to him in traffic and he gave me an exact description of where I was heading.

As I came upon the scene, and saw the mural on top of Weiner World. On the street in the foreground, a flower vendor was working his business, and before I took any photos I approached him and said, Hey I want to take a picture of that mural, if you don't mind. I don't mind, he said, but let me get out of the way; don't need to have my picture taken. Which was, of course, exactly why I'd asked - maybe he had called in sick from his other job, who knows.

Here's the photo of "The Two Andy's" from 2005 by Tom Mosser and Sarah Zeffiro at 628 Smithfield Street:

The flower vendor man is standing beside me as I take the photo, and he says You know, I've been standing under that for two days and I haven't really considered it. To me, the eyes remind me very much of 'American Gothic'. I was taken aback; American Gothic, I asked? Being very courteous, he said Yeah, you may not know the title but you've probably seen the photo, farmer and his wife, pitchfork, very severe. I think their eyes are aligned a lot like the eyes in this mural. Funny thing.

And so I came home and looked up American Gothic and checked the eyeballs, and the flower man was quite right about the eyes:

So, it's two Andy's of Pittsburgh, Andy Warhol and Andrew Carnegie, two very different people. To me, Warhol's face looks a bit Marilyn Monroe-esque; I'm not sure what's up with his right hand; the book is by August Wilson, and the back cover seems to represent Pittsburgh and its bridges. Andrew Carnegie's hands are soaking, perhaps to get the blood of Homestead off his fingers (oooooo, I went there!)

So that was very interesting. I rode across town to the site of Occupy Pittsburgh, which is supposed to be vacating the premises of Mellon Park today. The Occupiers have erected an apparent Trojan Horse, complete with unicorn horn and brushy tail and left it in the park:

It was a very quiet and a fairly desolate scene, there were still a half-dozen Occupiers on the scene, mostly packing up and moving a few tables off the Mellon property on onto adjacent public space. See the photo at the top of this post. No agita, everybody was very nice, no police presence visible of any kind. Several news vans standing by.

Continued on Grant Street toward the Mon, where apparently a vehicle drove into the PNC complex about an hour after I passed through. Rode the Jail Trail to the Hot Metal Bridge, and continued south past the Steelers training facility.

I passed a cyclist on a recumbent, and I was passed in turn by a rider on a hybrid/touring bike carrying heavy panniers and a full trunk bag and boy he was moving at a good clip, and he was in a pretty vertical position too. From his baggage I thought he was a through rider going to DC, and as I approached Keystone Metals he should have been about a minute in front of me at the dead-end but he was nowhere to be seen. I guess he must have portaged over the tracks to Route 837.

Continued north on the SouthSide Trail where I exchanged happy Hello's with bicyclist Frank, then crossed the Fort Pitt Bridge, and the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Approaching the Bastille I encountered two more Pittsburgh police officers patrolling on bicycle, I think that's a great thing.

On a weight-loss note, Doghouse Diaries completely describes my problem with their award-winning weight loss solution.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Blissful Start, Painful Ending: Great Ride

02/06/12 #234 25m 2h38m 30-40F

I've been riding on urban trails quite a lot recently, mostly because they're paved and they offer more alternative options in cold weather than the country trails, but today I decided to ride the Montour Trail.

There brush along the trail was covered with hoar frost as I started out at MP0 in Groveton. As WinnipegCyclingChick points out, hoar frost is both an attractive phenomenon and a lot of fun to say out loud. The trail surface at the start of the ride, with a temp of 30F, was hard frozen and a bit irregular so it was a jarring ride.

As I continued west I encountered a variety of conditions; at times the trail was clear, in the shade it was sometimes snow-covered or had a cruddy permafrost, and as the sun and the temps rose it became wet and quite soft.

I took this photo just west of Gene Mine Road:

I continued to the Boggs Trailhead, where I stopped under blue skies - not quite Carolina blue, but close - and ate a banana and drank some hot coffee out of my thermos. Sunny and now 40F, good food and a warm drink, listening to Byork on WYEP, life is good.

I reversed course and descended to Enlow, and the surface was noticably mushier. I decided to depart the trail at Enlow and indulge a curiosity I've been nursing and ride a route that seemed to make sense, and I figured riding on the road might be more pleasant than slogging through the wet trail surface.

In the beginning... (all stories should start that way.) In the beginning the alternate route (orange line on map below) was great. Hills, to be sure, but they were fun. I brought out the Granny gear, and Granny was up to the task. It was a beautiful blue day, and the effort of climbing kept me warm.

I passed by the Guard base and took a picture of my bike with the vertical stabilizer of a KC-135. I think it's just the tail, I don't think there's an airplane buried there.

Descending east, I encountered a character-building climb that switchbacked up a steep hill (parts of the ride that made me want to cry are noted in red on the map below). It was terrible. Granny and Me were not up to the challenge. I did not get up that hill without stopping.

It was terrible. (I was terrible) On the other side of BizLoop376, where the route turns red again, I stopped at the green-X to drink some coffee, take some honey, and lay down in the sun for fifteen minutes just to collect my thoughts. It was not pretty.

Back on the bike, Ewing Road. I was popped, cooked, done. I think I understand what Jens Voigt means about pain. I told my legs, Shut Up, Legs! but they would not listen.

Two things:
Now I know why nobody suggests using those roads.
I need to take my legs back there again until they get it right.

It was a great ride on a beautiful day, and a welcome change of scenery.