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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Coraplast Crop, Wendy's Chili, On Track

10/31/12 32m
Rode 32m in 45F, intermittent light rain. After 3 days of self-inflicted non-riding masquerading as judgement in the face of inclement weather (Sandy), it was so good to get back on the bike.

Rode from CCBC to Five Points in Hopewell, Gringo Road down to Berger's Furniture, then Gringo-Clinton Road which I really enjoy back around to Flaugherty Run Road at 376.

There is really a good coraplast crop just about ready for harvest, the road sides are knee-high with this year's output all but ready to be reaped on the day after election day by bicyclists and other hobbyists eager to use the stuff for pannier forms and other misappropriations.

Jump to the Airport Side, enter the Dick's Sporting Goods campus, and ride along the NorthSideComplex to University Blvd in Moon.

I had originally planned to ride to Starbux but my tingling fingers and toes were explaining to me that this was more of a chili ride than a coffee ride, so the destination changed to the Moon Wendy's. An excellent decision, if I may say so.

One Wendy's large chili with crackers later, back on the bike feeling much more civilized. Rode down a particularly steep hill and I decided to let the bike run, the shoulder was full of debris so I took the lane and there were a lot of cars behind me - it was a great descent but it was awfully cold, at the bottom of the hill my forehead was hurting from the chill, that was kind of a new feeling. It's not August anymore.

Route Route51 back to the Center of The Universe, everybody was very kind. Had good legs after the layoff. Saw a speed walker out doing his thing, those people are just crazy. 32 miles today and over 6000 miles for the year, which was kind of my goal for the end of October.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fred Frisson

10/27/12 232# 0M
No riding today. I did replace my front brakes, which were worn to the point of non-function (which was a surprising discovery on Friday).

A small bit of Fred-frisson: I've been on the waiting list for a DesignShine Version3 DS500 rear light for a while, and I hope for delivery this upcoming week. Perfect time of the year to be getting a monster rear light.

   Oct 27, 2012 Week 43
this week: 162 miles
4th Qtr 662 miles
24.5 mi/day4QTD
2012: 5973 miles

Friday, October 26, 2012

Duquesne's Whistle and Braddock's Voluptuous Nude

10/26/12 50m
A beautiful blue, warm day, appreciated even more because the StormOfTheCentury (again, this time called Frankenstorm) is supposed to bring rain for the next week, starting tomorrow.

Started at the Bastille with S, rode the Ft. Duquesne and the Ft. Pitt Bridge, rode to Big Dog Coffee for my seventh Coffeeneuring trip to complete my 2012 series.

Coffeeneuring 2012, Trip 7 of 7

 drink: Mocha Bianca (a mocha with white chocolate) and a cranberry-oatmeal bar.
coffee shop: Big Dog Coffee. I love this place.
location: 2717 Sarah Street, SouthSide, Pittsburgh PA
date: 10/26/2012
mileage: 50 miles
ride details: Rode with S. Went to Riverton Bridge, East Pittsburgh, Braddock, Regent Square, Wilkinsburg, did 50 miles. Completed my 2012 Coffeeneuring series today.

Departed SouthSide, rode past Keystone Metals, saw evidence of progress on the trail, was very pleased to see the man-gate open at Sandcastle (that's huge!), rode through the Waterfront. Observed progress on the new sidewalks, also noted that some people have carved initials in the new sidewalks.

At Pump House, saw a group of young kids lined up with a woman in drill-instructor fashion trying to get them to count off by fours, which I have not seen done in a very very long time, so we stopped to see what's up. It was a field trip from the Propel School called "$1.65 a day", in which the kids get to see what a steel worker did back in the day for their daily wage of $1.65. So the kids get to pump and carry water, shovel and move gravel, cut pipe, etc. I thought it was pretty cool and on such a pretty day I figure the kids must have been loving getting outside.

Rode past Kennywood, rode through Duquesne which brings to mind the new Bob Dylan song, Duquesne Whistle, which IMO is much better heard than watched.

Continued out to the Riverton Bridge, stopped for a drink, reversed course and rode back to Marcegalawhateva Metals, then departed the trail for Whitaker and the Rankin Bridge. Rode through Braddock to East Pittsburgh to get a photo of "Present Tense" for a online-bike-scavenger hunt S. is playing with the BikePgh folks.

Back into Braddock, stopped to take a picture of a few more murals, found more than I expected.

Braddock Murals

Braddock's Voluptuous Reclining Nude Mural by Lady Pink

This mural was done by LadyPink as part of the Points of Interest Project. From a distance, this appears to be a voluptuous reclining female nude, but you never can see the whole picture because of the infrastructure - which is, perhaps, a feature not a bug, and a hint. Location: Braddock: Library St at Jones Ave.

Funny, but when you get close up, the body is a front for factories, the body is made of brick, the navel-umblical is a train track, and what you may have thought was Love, Mom, Comfort, Home, Sex (or any variation) is really Industry, Money, Extraction and Capitalism. Oh yeah, and there's a meat-eating Venus Flytrap between her legs. Just sayin'.

This is, of course, only what my shallow, insecure, and uneducated and frightened psyche projected upon the image; that the presentation of the industrial economy as normal, nurturing, and supportive is a Great Lie and that Truth and Happiness lie elsewhere. The Job in the Factory, the place in the socio-military-industrial-complex - it's a Trap. But perhaps I'm over-reading the thing. Maybe she's a Job Creator and we should worship her. Comments are welcome.

That's why artists should explain these things, to prevent jerks like me from misinterpreting their work and to save me from externalizing (?) my internal conflicts.

Swoon's Braddock Underpass Murals

Wood and Franklin Street, Wilkinsburg: Pittsburgh's Mural Central

We rode across Swissvale, and Regent Square to Wilkinsburg where we came upon the greatest installation of murals I have ever seen. I would have thought that Gist Street was the most developed public art location in Pittsburgh, but Wood and Franklin in Wilkinsburg has more public art in one location than I've ever seen in the region. These murals are by Kyle Holbrook, George Gist, and Chris Savido, in 2005.

This is a mural along Wood Street at Franklin Avenue in Wilkinsburg:

This is a closeup of the angel depicted in that mural, to the right of the tree in the photo above.

There is a courtyard with murals on the left, rear, and right sides. The courtyard has a gazebo, and the roof inside the gazebo is a mural, and the floor of the gazebo is a tile mosaic. I don't know how to effectively take a photograph of them, they're quite complex.

A few blocks away, at the busway at Hay Street and South Avenue, there's a mural and a few columns with murals:

After that we rode Forbes Avenue back to Oakland, finally getting to climb uphill on a street I've only ever descended. It wasn't that bad. Went down Junction Hollow and S. and I split up at the Hot Metal Bridge.

I had volunteered to do a bike-counting exercise from 4pm to 6pm for BikePgh, so I set myself up with a chair and my tally-sheet and jotted down notes. When I add them up I'll present some numbers here.

Riding back to the Bastille I saw a few river patrol boats circling around a T-trolley bridge that some barges had rammed, and then on the North Side there was a gathering of Juggalo's outside of Stage-AE for a Insane Clown Posse show. You get to see a lot of things on a bicycle.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Numbers: 6 of 7, 80F, 8 weeks

10/25/12 235# 20M
A magnificent day. Eight weeks until Christmas and 80F, blue skies, riding around in a short-sleeved jersey.

Started at the Bastille with S and R. Passed by a man in a small boat on the Ohio River with two remote control aircraft, an R/C J-3 Cub on floats and an R/C helo on floats. He was operating his aircraft on the river. Inevitably, these hobbyists who originally occupied this 'space' will be swept up in the new regime and be considered drone operators, which may be nominally correct but completely misses the spirit of both activities.

Went downtown, saw the new MLK mural which is ostensibly a takeaway from the One Young World summit.

Went out to 901 Liberty Avenue at Seventh to see a mural that I had erroneously thought was long gone, another Sprout Fund mural:

My sixth coffeeneuring expedition of the 2012 Coffeeneuring Challenge:

drink: A cortado, two shots espresso cut with two shots of milk
coffee shop: 21st Street Coffee and Tea. Really a nice space, very open air.
location: 2002 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh PA
date: 10/25/2012
mileage: 20 miles
ride details: Rode with S. and R. Downtown, two murals, Squill, SoSide, Thick Bikes, Bastille. S completed her 7th coffeeneur today.

Departed and rode to Bloomfield, took advantage of the sidereal angle to take another photo of the flying Grandma, and just in case you think Grandma's don't count, yesterday no less than the Atlantic Monthly said Grandmothers extend human longevity Mr. Smarty Pants.

Rode Fifth Avenue, Carlow College, Murray Avenue, stopped at 61C for a nosh, then reversed via Forbes and Schenley Park which is a route I have not seen before but R and S knew it well. Descended through Junction Hollow to Swinburne Street, Hot Metal Bridge, and rode over to Thick Bikes so I could pick up a coffee cup holder for my handle bars - I had to have one.

Continued north to Station Square, Ft. Pitt bridge, Ft. Duquesne bridge, and back to the Bastille where the cars were still there. 20 miles on a glorious day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Downtown Pittsburgh Bike Trail Video

10/23/12 237# 0m
From James Orlowski using a Sony HDR-AS10 mounted on his handlebars, a time-lapse video of a bicycle ride on Pittsburgh's bike trails:

View Larger Map

Monday, October 22, 2012

Connellsville to Confluence, Fog to Sun, New Pedals

10.22.12 58M
Today I got to complete a ride I started last week with S. but didn't feel up to completing, from Connellsville PA through Ohiopyle to Confluence, round-trip.

The weather started dark and cold, turned foggy-cloudy and cold, and eventually turned sunny and blue. Met S. at the Bastille at 0600, got to Connellsville and out on the trail at 0740 in the early daylight, with low clouds and fog in the river valley. It was quite cold, probably 38F, and I wore pretty much my winter kit: long pants, jacket over wool sweater over a jersey, my winter-weight Wombat gloves, and a very thin ear liner.

As the ride started it was cold and we were glad just to warm up, but after an hour we saw that the clouds were lifting and after a while some blue holes were visible in the overcast and the temperatures started to ride slowly.

We stopped briefly about twelve miles in to the ride, and just as we approached Ohiopyle the weather started clearing but it was still pretty chilly. We went into the Ohiopyle general store for some Italian wedding soup (it's a consistent hit) and that went a long way toward making things better).

We came out of the store and I switched to lighter full-fingered gloves and lost the ear-liners, and then about halfway to Confluence I took off a layer and shed the jacket and the long pants.

Approaching Confluence we were surprised to encounter two murals on the GAP by the Confluence Creative Arts Center, they were very nice and it doesn't surprise me that once again, Confluence is at the vanguard of what trail towns are doing to appeal to through-riders.

We rode to Confluence's town square and I stopped at Confluence Cyclery, it's an excellent shop with very nice people; I've been looking for a new pair of platform pedals and they had just what I wanted, great find.

We continued to Sweetie's Bakery and were crushed, just crestfallen to learn that they've gone to an off-season schedule and they're only open on weekends. No pastries, no biscotti? An absolute crisis!

Departed Confluence on the reverse course and with the sun up and the day warming, more people were out on the trail. I switched to summer gloves to complete the wardrobe tour-day-force. Stopped for a snack out of the panniers about halfway back to Ohiopyle.

In Ohiopyle, checked in at the Bakery for a bagel to go. Back on the trail, which was now dried up from this morning's conditions. There were more people out on the trail.

In the last few miles before Connellsville, the sun was getting lower again and we began to see the opposite river bank's reflection in the river.

We watched a big deer cross the river then bound up the ridge across our path, very impressive.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mt. Lebanon, Dormont, Beechview, Carnegie, Oakdale

10/21/12 234# 34m
Started at 0800 at the Walker's Mill trailhead on the Panhandle Trail, which is really quite close to I-79 (first time I drove there). We proceeded across Carnegie headed to Mt. Lebanon, but first we stopped in Castle Shannon to see this mural (Ivy Inn, 360 Castle Shannon Blvd) which is Ashley Hodder's homage to Phipps Conservatory:

I will say that my long-standing thoughts about riding to places with names that include Mount or -mont remain unchallenged by my experience today, and that's all I'd like to say about that. Saw this MLK-mural in three wrap-around panels at the Mt. Lebanon T-Station, on Shady Drive East, by Helen Worsing, Bonnie Schindler, Megan Graham, and Karen Mahoney:

On one side of the T underpass at Broadway and Wenzell, by the MLK Mural folks:

(click here for a City Paper article about this mural). On the other side of the T underpass at Broadway and Wenzell, also by the MLK Mural folks: (I thought this mural was most excellent)

"Mt. Lebanon Welcomes You" at 427 Washington Road, on the side of Pamela's Pancakes, also by Ashley Hodder:

In Dormont, 2938 West Liberty Avenue, "Dormont: 100 Years Young" by Taylor Shields.

From the Post-Gazette,

The figure of Slim Bryant, a centenarian, Dormont resident and local country music legend, is pictured in black and white playing his guitar at the bottom of the mural. His song, presumably about Dormont, is brought to life, revealing a tree-lined street with people of different ages walking to the pool, jogging, chatting and pushing a stroller. One man is walking a bulldog, which is Dormont's mascot. A child's accordion-style cut out of people is stretched across the top of the mural with the letters spelling "Dormont" above a bright yellow sun and the words "100 Years Young."

Dormont means "golden mountain" in French, said Jennifer Baron, who does public relations for the borough. She said that in the early twentieth century the borough was considered to be an escape from the dirtiness of the city. It was billed as "sunny Dormont."

In Beechview, an amazing mural on a coin-op laundry at 1940 Broadway, by Ryder Henry (who also did Kaleidoscope Cafe's exterior in Lawrenceville)
Interestingly, Beechview planners insisted on using a grid street layout in spite of the terrain, resulting in unusually steep streets; Canton Ave, American's steepest street, is in Beechview and is one of the Dirty Dozen hills.

Back in Carnegie, this mural is titled "Rebirth" by Gregg Valley in Sept. 2005, with the phoenix image on the right:

Interesting side point: this may be intended as a "water phoenix", referring to rebirth after Hurricane Ivan's Sept 2004 two-day flooding of the city, and also to floods in 1966 and 1956.

At 1 West Main Street, "Sunflowers in the City" by Harry "Hawkeye" Demel:

Mary St at E. Main St, Carnegie by Bill Borcik and Karen Mahoney via MLK:

Departed Carnegie, crossed I-79, and rode back to the Panhandle Trail at Walker's Mill. Got off the trail in Oakdale, and took this picture of a mural by Diane Adams:

Stopped and had eggs at an Oakdale diner, then back on the Panhandle Trail westbound to the intersection with the Montour Trail. Reversed course and rode back to the Walker's Mill trailhead. 35 miles on a nice Sunday morning.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Requesting Criticism under Guise of Feedback

Sat 10/20/12 231# 0m
I'd like to ask for some feedback (by which I mean criticism), please. I've been working with a friend on a project to identify, document, and web-present (which is a neologism which will soon replace the archaic represent, you heard it hear first) murals in Pittsburgh.

Not just any murals, mind you, but exterior, public-art murals that you can bicycle to, because really - what good is encouraging people to drive around to see murals? Consider the civic irresponsibility of encouraging people to get into cars (big, heavy, dangerous, non-sustainable vehicles) and drive around unfamiliar parts gawking out the windows in unfamiliar neighborhoods? Not me, no sirree, I want no part of that. Bad carma.

Below (I hope) is a Google-Map of a small sample of what we've identified and documented - public murals in Braddock, PA. I'd like to ask for your feedback. Does it appear on your screen at all? Is it usable? Does it appear on your tablet, on your phone?

View Pittsburgh Murals by Bicycle in a larger map

Does it seem usable? Is there any other info that you might like to have in a map like this? What would it take to encourage you to take action, to use something like this and get out and see these murals - not necessarily only in Braddock, it could be Bloomfield, Downtown, East Liberty, Garfield, the Hill District, Lawrenceville, Millvale, Mt. Washington, NorthSide, Oakland, Southside, Squirrel Hill, Oakland, the Strip District, Uptown, the West End, Wilkinsburg - they're all over.

Please enter any feedback in the comments below, or send an email to vbush90 "at-thing" geemail-dot-com. Thank you!

   Oct 20, 2012 Week 42
this week:
143 miles
4th Qtr 500 miles 25 mi/day4qtd
2012: 5811 miles