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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Packing Ice,Louie Louie, and Packing Heat

08/31/12 232# 37m
Kind of a hot August day, but in February I'll be wishing for 91F so I tried to look at it that way. I did pack several frozen water bottles which made the ride a bit more pleasant.

Got a late start, so I drove to an impromptu "nearest" trailhead at I376 and Route 30/Clinton Road at the Airport Connection Trail. Generally the cars parked there are waiting for an arriving passenger to ring their cellphone so that they can go pick them up without paying for parking, but today I started my ride there. It worked out pretty well.

I rode the Airport Connector trail and I was very impressed to see that they've put up emergency information signs, telling you where you are and who to call in the event of an emergency. This trail runs through airport property so they're extra disinclined to have trail users freelancing their navigation across the property, and I really like the idea behind the signs. They answer the essential questions for a transient cyclist who needs help: Where am I? Who do I call?

At Enlow I turned right onto the Montour Trail proper and rode out to MP13½, then reversed and rode east. Around MP9 I passed a young family, mother carrying a baby, a young child, and a father carrying a pistol on his belt (I guess he doesn't have a concealed carry permit). It looked like a real light pistol, maybe a 22 but that really doesn't make sense. Anyway, it just seemed way out of place and it left me wondering about the implication for his four-year-old; "Daddy brings the gun when we go out on the trail". It was just a slice of different.

Reached Groveton, saw the work on a new concrete deck at the shelter, and reversed course back to Enlow. Saw the "Friday night lights" of a football game in Imperial, I guess it's that time of year again.

It was fully dark by the time I got back to the car. As I came back to the highway and crested the hill, I could see the bright, low glow in the distance of some Marcellus Shale wells at Route 18 and Route 151 that were burning off their gas, it was quite bright even at that distance.

A very nice (if warm) ride. While riding, I heard this song on WYEP, The Ballad of the Kingsmen, by Todd Snider. If you're too young to know about the FBI investigation, or too old to remember it, here's a wiki-brief.

You know, every ten years or so our country and some other little country,
We start firing all of our newest weapons
At each other for some reason or another, right or wrong,
Like it or not, it happens, and when it happens
People get shot and when people get shot,
They show it on tv a lot every night at six o clock

And you don't even have to be eighteen to see it
you don't even have to be in first grade,
First grade where they teach the kid pride
They tell him he'll need to thrive,
In a world where only the Strong will survive,
So he's taught the art of More
To compare to and to keep score
Monday thru Friday while He stares at the floor
til' Sunday
they make him go to School once more
only this time they make him wear a suit and a tie
And listen to some guy who claims to know Where people go When they die
tell him that only the Meek are gonna inherit the earth
Well shit,
By this time the kid doesn't know what anything Is worth,

now brothers and sisters I am only one guy
And I don't even know the words to that song Louie, Lou-eye

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sunset Ride, New Bike Shop

08/30/12 232# 42m
Back on the bike after a short hiatus due to (shudder) work.

Started at Boggs, where a volunteer work crew was building a new campground for through cyclists. Rode south to McMurray. I love the way the bike rides with the new wheels, very stable and it feels efficient.

Passing by the new trailhead at Morganza Road I was pleasantly surprised to see the discussed new bike shop, Tandem Connection, with signs up at their new location. I stopped in but they're not open for business yet. Spoke with one of the owners, he just ordered 32 bikes today; must be a daunting thing to roll out a new retail business. I wish them all the best and I hope trail riders support the business, because it's in our interest for them to succeed.

Financing for the new bike shop came with the support of the Progress Fund, which does economic development work along the bike trails.

There's been a few new bike shops in the metro area the last few years; Thick Bike in SouthSide, LoveBikes in Lawrenceville, and now Tandem Connection. Maybe that's a sign of a healthy bike economy.

Farmhouse Coffee was closed, went to Subway, 6" flatbread and filled all my bottles with ice water. Living large.

Reversed and rode back at about 6.30 pm. Not too many people out on the trail. Just a good ride and it was great to have ice-cold drinks. It was dark the last fifteen minutes of the ride, which was fun riding but I was fumbling a bit putting the bike back on the car. Fortunately there was a good bit of moonlight.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Gafugly Diabetes Numbers and National Tunnel

08/27/12 238# 28m

Started off the day in my Doctor's office. Although the blog title is about diabetes and weight, very little of the blog content refers to those items, recapitulating my internal disfunction; although I am a Type2 Clydesdale, I pay too little attention to it and instead prefer to ride my bike.

The Doctor's report today was "gafugly", a portmanteau-manquee of good-fugly, meaning "good results from a fuck-ugly process that you don't want to watch", a sort of success in spite of efforts sufficient to thwart it.

My various diabetes numbers - in fact, all my parameters - are all within the "normal range" for the first time in many years, which is great news. I'm not post-diabetic as much as I'm in remission, and if I walked into a doctor's office tabula rasa they'd probably categorize me as "pre-diabetic", meaning that I'm just about diabetic - but not quite.

So that's very good news, and in general I attribute the outcome to (1) my bicycling and (2) my retiring, because I'm really not doing too much else right. So it was good news AND I need to stop screwing around.

Started riding at the Boggs Trailhead, pausing to appreciate the new campground being built for through-cyclists. Saw quite a few volunteers working on the trail around Route 50, trimming back the jungle and working on the trail surface - I tried to thank each one of them, but if I missed anybody: thank you very much!

Rode west then south, taking a brief bike-nap around MP24, then continuing through the National Tunnel. Took a seat and ate a snack, mesmerized by the green wall alive with flowers and bees; most of the plants are Japanese Knotwood, an invasive species, but it is an attractive green wall if you don't think about it too much.

Reversed back to Boggs, a pretty uneventful trip which I take to mean the absolutely magnificent trail is almost becoming a routine.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Forgotten Trolley Trails, the Harmony Short-Line, and Poison Ivy

08/26/12 238# 39m
Rode 39 miles on a non-standard course that started in Millvale and rode into the North Hills, mostly via Babcock.

I met S. and blogger Stu at the Millvale Gazebo at 0630 and Stu guided our path through the North Hills. The first stop in our quest for murals was the Attic Records store at 513 Grant Street, Millvale:

Right around the corner is the MacArthy Park mural:

Riding out of town we happened upon the Sidelines Bar and Grill, which makes a real effort to respect intellectual property rights and avoids using any copyrighted images or logos in their mural:

Next we came to Regis Steedle Candy, which has been tragically closed since 2006, at the intersection of Evergreen and North Streets. The artwork was done by Pepe Buylla and it looks like it's new.

The North Hills Art Center has an excellent mural (as they should):

We continued on Babcock, which had a gentle climb and a generous shoulder, until Three Degree Road, at which point we ducked behind the car wash and rode along the abandoned path of an inter-urban trolley track. Conditions along the path were a lot like the C&O Canal trail - some doubletrack, some tall grass, one major portage, and - as I was to learn - a hardy, potent strain of poison ivy.

(update) The abandoned trolley line was the Harmony Short Line, which operated as depicted in this 1928 map:

(update) Between Ingomar and Warrendale, 4.3 miles of the original rail line remains uninterrupted, and there is an effort to establish a walking trail.

We came out of the trail and rode over to McKnight Road, where we took pictures of the elephant mural by Andrew Vernon at a gas station near Peebles Road:

Sort of a partial mural at Doggy Day Camp:

Around the corner from Pamela's Pancakes and the Lincoln Ave Pharmacy, Millvale Lanes has a mural:

And immediately adjacent is the Lincoln Ave. Pharmacy mural:

We locked up the bikes and stopped at Pamela's P&G Diner for breakfast, which was excellent. We came out and started riding around the corner and I discovered a flat rear tire, with a big nail in it. I was at a loss for an elegant position to work on the bike, but then I realized that the dual parking meters provided a pretty good work station:

With the tire repaired, we turned the corner and went to Red Star Iron Works on Sedgwick Street, Millvale:

Joined the trail in Millvale, rode along the Allegheny to the stadia, and took the Ft. Duquesne Bridge into downtown. Blvd of the Allies, Jail Trail, Hot Metal Bridge. There were quite a lot of bicyclists on the HMB and the SouthSide Trail.

We rode down to Keystone Metals and then reversed, stopping in South Side Works to take a picture of another mural:

Rode north to the SouthSideDogPark and saw The Workers, new sculptures still being installed:

Crossed the Ft. Pitt Bridge then rode the Strip District Trail past the Convention Center and out to the Cork Factory, then continued via Railroad and Smallman to the 40th Street Bridge, back to Millvale.

A very nice ride, new routes and a secret trail, murals and strawberry crepes and nice weather. I just wish I hadn't got poison ivy on myself. Congrats to S. who crossed 4000 miles on the bike so far this year during today's ride.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Summary

08/25/12 0m

   Aug 25, 2012 Week 32
this week:
195 miles
  238#  3rd Qtr 1341 miles  
2012: 4359 miles

Friday, August 24, 2012

Warren to Ashtabula 2012

08/24/12 236# 80m
Rode from Warren, OH to Ashtabula, OH round-trip for 80 miles on the Ohio Western Reserve Greenway. OhioBikeways has a cool G-Map showing their developing trail network. (2011 report)

We mustered in Beaver PA and left most of the vehicles in the courthouse garage. It took about 1+15 to get to the Sunside trailhead at 547 Center Street East, Warren, OH 44481. Conditions were excellent, clear blue skies, light wind.

Snowmobiles use the trail in the winter months, so this bridge deck has rubber mats to protect the timbers:

The trail ends in a non-descript residential neighborhood in Ashtabula, and we rode a few blocks to Compadres Restaurant for lunch and it was excellent. After a really good meal we got back out on the trail before we yielded to the temptation of a bike-nap.

One of the bikes had a mechanical with the rear derailleur and K's mad skillz fixed that; the rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. We did realize that we'd had a tailwind on the first leg, and now we had a slight headwind on the second leg.

We rode 80 miles in 6+02 moving time, with 3+00 spent on lunch, breaks, and bike tweaking. We got back to Beaver twelve hours after we started. It was an excellent day for a longish ride with friends.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Montour Mural

08/23/12 235# 15m
I encountered a mechanical last night in the form of a Charlie Horse while playing racketball being schooled by my son. Wednesday night and most of Thursday my starboard calf was mainly seized up.

Years ago I'd have resorted to an immoderate application of BenGay, but that was before I learned the truth. I used to believe the Big Lie that BenGay (developed in France by Dr. Jules Bengué, inevitably) applied heat to your skin and muscles. Turns out, methyl salicylate doesn't generate any heat, it just head-fakes your nervous system into thinking it's hot. It's kind of like misleading your skin, or hacking your sensors. If I think about that for too long it gets all Matrix rabbit-holey; still think your leg is hot? You think that's air you're breathing?

I felt the need to move around a bit so, in spite of my philosophical concerns, I schmeared BenGay all over it and went for a short ride on the Montour Trail, Enlow to Groveton and back, 15 miles. It felt much better afterwards. The Motrin probably helped.

I did notice this mural at Beaver Grade Road, courtesy of Sto-Rox High School 2003, first I've photographed on the Montour Trail:

On another front, very excited to learn that Park(ing) Day Pittsburgh will be Sept 21, 2012.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Season's Over at Sandcastle and Kennywood

08/21/12 234# 47m
Started at the Bastille at about 0830, about 60F with blue skies and no wind, a perfect day. Rode with S. along the Allegheny to the 40th Street Bridge. Crews were demolishing the bridge structure north of Herr's Island and I was surprised they were keeping the trail open during the operation, it posed a lot of extra difficulty for them.

Crossed the 40th Street bridge, and while we were navigating through the side-streets and avoiding Butler street, we serendipitously came across this mural by Mark Runco at Eden Street and 43½ Street, aka the rear of 4315 Butler Street:

A great mural, no evidence of a title.

Rode through the Allegheny Cemetery, following the "white path" up to Penn Avenue; this was a very efficient and pleasant routing. True to it's Burgh environment, the cemetery has color belts, like you see on hospital floors.

At 4809 Penn near Mathilda, in Garfield, we found "Tuesday's Heroic Paradigm" by Kevinn Fung:

Continued to Liberty Avenue and located "Bridging the Generations of Bloomfield", by Monika McAndrew at 4727 Liberty Avenue, Bloomfield

better photo here from SproutFund flickr

An unplanned find was this woodcut of a Flying Bobeshi, for lack of any other title, at 4610 Liberty Avenue at Sapphire Way. No indication of artist.

This is the Bloomfield VFW Mural.

Across the street from the VFW, at 4428 Liberty, Del's Bar and their adjacent pizzeria has a mural:

Around the corner, the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern has an array of coats of arms from various Polish towns:

At that the batteries were failing and we called an end to the photo-op segment of today's ride. We road Ellsworth to CMU and down Panther Hollow, using some short-cut nav-Ninja magic of S's that I didn't quite grok.

Hot Metal Bridge to Keystone Metals to the waterpark; it surprised me that Sandcastle was shut down, the weather was gorgeous but this is the first week of school.

Continued along the Steel Valley Trail, stopped for a break at the Pump House and watched several through bicyclists pass by. Rode south past Kennywood which was also eerily silent, I guess it's a sign of summer ending.

Continued to the Riverton Bridge and reversed. Along the Waterfront Trail we encountered Duncan and Chris, two riders from High Point NC rocking kitty-litter panniers whom we'd seen an hour earlier. They were stumped at navigating out of the shopping center - so we suggested they follow us, and they joined us to the Hot Metal Bridge which was their destination for the day.

Jail Trail, a few downtown streets, Point State Park, the Casino Trail, and back to the Bastille. It was a great day for a ride. 47 miles in the bag.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bright Blue Water and the Tea Potty

08/19/12 236# 53m
Took my bike in another direction today, and rode out to Ohio and West Virginia. I've been hearing a lot about the Tea Potty lately and wanted to see what was new.

The first leg of my ride took me from Aliquippa, through Monaca and Rochester to Beaver (the Sewickley of Beaver County, don'tcha know) and then west on Route 68, as shown:

Right at the WV-OH-PA border is a spot (red dot) called the Point of Beginning, which is a historically significant position in terms of land surveying and territorial policy. But today's post is (partially) about what you can see across the river when you're standing on that red dot. See that lake on the south side of the Ohio River?

Here's a National Geographic story about that lake and what's in it: Largest U.S. Coal Ash Pond to Close, and they helpfully include a satellite photo:

What's kind of interesting is FirstEnergy (a corporation, surprise!) has used that lake to store a lot of very bad chemicals for decades, and in fact they've turned the lake's water into a beautiful tropical blue. Even in the winter time, with snow on the ground, the lake looks like the Caribbean. Pilots flying over are often puzzled by it. Better Living With Chemicals, I suppose.

As the National Geographic article explains, the Pennsylvania state government is reluctantly shutting down the use of the Little Blue Run coal ash pond because it's leaking and poisoning the water and people in the local area. The pond itself is half in Pennsylvania, half in West Virginia, and nobody really wants to be responsible for this leaking pond of poisons.

On today's ride I thought I'd take a picture of what the "Little Blue Run coal ash pond" looks like from the north side of the Ohio River, just for gee-whiz, and it looks like this:

Standing on the north side of the Ohio River, the photo shows the hills on the south shore, and the huge earthen dam which contains the Little Blue Run coal ash pond — which, may I restate, is full of poisons and leaking.

If that dam leaks, WOW that pretty blue stuff is just going to pour into the Ohio River and run downstream (away from the Pennsylvania regulators, btw) and it'll be a huge environmental disaster. It seems like a stupid place to store fatal toxins, especially since it's happened before with disastrous results - Kentucky in 2008, Kentucky in 2000, North Carolina in 1978. I'm sure somebody's taking care of it, now. < / enviro rant off>

Continued into East Liverpool Ohio, once the Pottery Capital of the World.

This mural is still being painted on the Masonic Temple by Gina Hampson.

The mural includes the Jennings Randolph Bridge, Carnegie Public Library, the Alumni Clock Tower, Kent State University's logo, two bottleneck kilns, the world's largest teapot, two river boats, the Boy with the Boot statue, a locomotive, the YMCA, emblems from both East Liverpool and Wellsville high schools and logos representing the Mason organization.

This legacy mural, at Fourth and Market Streets, shows barrels marked with the names of local businesses (Hall China, Pioneer Pottery) on the dock for steamship movement.

Departed East Liverpool via the Newell Bridge to Newell, WV. The Newell Bridge, built in 1905, is the only privately-owned toll bridge on the Ohio River; it is owned and operated by the Homer Laughlin China Company, based in Newell. My completely unscientific sampling suggests that most of the bridge's traffic is going to the nearby casino and racetrack. It's a great bridge (bicyclists cross free) with a steel-deck for the autos and wooden planks on the walkway.

Rode through a bit of Newell and across Chester, WV, stopping to take a photo of my trusty steed with the World's Biggest Teapot, an anachronistic coffee shop from the days when Route 30 was a big deal.

For all I've been hearing about the Tea Potty, I expected to see some activity but all was quiet. I took a slightly different route back, it's been a while since I climbed up from Shippingport to Route 18.

I was very pleasantly surprised to find a mural on Green Garden Road, at Vic's Van Daddy Shop, 4264 Green Garden Road:

I'm still really pleased with the new wheels, and especially the braking effectiveness of the new (true) rims as opposed to the old (warped) rims.

53 miles, finished at sunset, a very nice ride.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Wheels and More Murals

08/18/12 240# 44m
This was a magnificent morning - clear skies, cool temps, light wind. When I met S. at 0615 at the Bastille, the temp was around 60F, not bad at all for mid-August.

While the ride-plan was to see a few murals, another interest in today's ride for me was my first chance to ride on my new wheels, which my LBS had put on the bike for me on Thursday. I'm very pleased with them, more in a later post.

From the Bastille we rode around the North Side, stopping at the Heinz complex to see the mural at the Sarah Heinz House, Northside, Pittsburgh PA:

The 31st Street Bridge has been removed, so we continued to the 40th Street Bridge and crossed the Allegheny River, and then we found The Kaleidoscope Cafe at 108 43rd St, Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh:

In the same neighborhood we spotted a Shepard Fairey mural on top of Crazy Mocha in Lawrenceville:

Sergeant Electric Mural, Mosaic Tile, 3424 Liberty Ave. This building was originally owned by Sergeant Electric, the story goes, which explains the key-kite-lightning theme, and the river-dynamo-hydroelectric powering the factory theme, and the electric outlet background. Curiously, the building now houses Union Orthotics and Prosthetics.

Shepard Fairey mural on Tito Way in the Cultural District:

This mural is on the Ft. Duquesne Blvd facade of the Byham Theater, by Mr. Haas:

Mural, 1200 East Carson Street, Southside, Pittsburgh PA:

These street names and signs demanded a picture. Uxor, from uxorious, to be fawning or overly submissive to one's wife, which is one of my top-five favorite words of all time. To find Uxor juxtaposed with Breed Street is too much; someone had to enjoy this.

The LunaSea (sound it out, Lunacy) Day Spa has a mural, too:

"Summer Harvest Goddess", 2008 by Carolyn Kelly, at 1800 East Carson Street, Southside:

House painting at Rebecca Street and Peebles Street in Wilkinsburg:

From Wilkinsburg we rode South Braddock to Frick Park. The entrance to the park is a steep descent and I was really pleased with the braking effectiveness of the new wheels and the adjusted brakes. We took Nine Mile Trail and Duck Hollow Trail to Second Avenue, where we met Dan who we'd met on a recent memorial ride.

At 5001 Second Ave. in Hazelwood, we found this tribute to Mr. Herbert P. Douglas, a graduate of Allderdice High School. The work was done by Heather White in 2006. Mr Douglas was an Olympian (bronze, 1948) and both a Pitt alumni (B.S. '48, M.Ed. '50) and Trustee.

44 miles, an interesting ride, and magnificent weather. And I love my new wheels.

src="https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEhskuxZQrCLlb-OhsQHsE1wJBwOk8-cMdyDONN3tYGfBYCZQPXwa6FNLJoEhGS-l4CHgFJCfwUHhSxk6M3yCsa36W3d4gbfjXPwcB0zLtX36BdhSpd1r-wznB-YeR9dwKB9f6gmyPBw8Lok/s1600/200-mile-week-bicycle.jpg" border=0 title="200 mile week" width=50 height=50>    Aug 18, 2012 Week 31
this week:
206 miles
  236#  3rd Qtr 1146 miles  
2012: 4164 miles