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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Balaclava, Bass Boat, Block

12.31.2013 22m 219# 24F
Last ride of the year, on a somewhat blustery day.

Started at the Bastille, wearing my Balaclava for the first time this winter. The Chateau Trail has about 1/2 inch of snow but nothing problematic.

I've been seeing a pontoon boat along the trail, just south of Peggy's Harbor, and painted on the hull real nicely it says: " ass boat 18' " and that has kind of stumped me. I mean, who paints that on their boat? Today I noticed the other side of the hull, which says "Bass boat 18'". Nevermind.

I rode along the Ohio and the Allegheny out to the 40th Street Bridge. Stopped at Iron City Bikes' new L-Ville location. Two different vehicles tried to right-hook me, and then I took the lane and the problem went away. #Lesson.

Climbed up through Allegheny Cemetery (following the white belt). Tried to emulate S's smooth navigation from Bloomfield through Friendship to Oakland, ended up missing Friendship (I think) but got to Oakland. I love how that real tall Cathedral of Learning assists the navigation.

I took this picture the other day on a ride and missed posting it, so here's an End Of Year oopsie makeup: At Friendship Ave and South Aiken, there's a "block of history" that provides — the history of the block.

No indication of its provenance, author, or authority. Seems like a lot of trouble for a farce. Really an interesting read, tells who lived in what house 100 years ago. Wow.

Rode down Junction Hollow (mostly covered with 1/2 inch of snow), joined the Jail Trail (clear to the Hot Metal Bridge). Both sides of the HMB had 1/2 inch of snow on the switchbacks; eminently rideable.

Stopped at BigDogCoffee for a Nervosa, a large coffee with a shot of espresso. Tremendous. Scanned the newspaper, checked the internet for errors, back on the bike.

Rode the Hot Metal Bridge and the Jail Trail, which was mostly clear and occasionally had 1/4 inch of snow (no problems). I did catch a bit of unexpected sideways acceleration crossing a steel deck at the Smithfield Street Bridge, but it wasn't eventful.

It was quite windy coming back on the Jail Trail and around the Casino, but a great Last Ride of the Year. 22 miles, 5525 for 2013. Life is good™

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Obsessing over Revised Goals to Avoid Year-End Self Loathing

12.29.2013 30m 32F
Deadlines, quotas and goals; much the same thing, packaged in variations of positivity. In 2012 I had ridden 7K miles and had a lot of fun at it, so I speculated that I'd try to ride 8K in 2013, figuring that if 7K was fun then 8K would be even more fun.

Didn't happen; took on too much work, made bad scheduling decisions, and let The Joy slip away from me. If only Bad Decision Dinosaur made bike jerseys. But I was having a blast when I was on the bike. I got to ride with great friends, and I got to ride the Natchez Trace, the Katy Trail, and my long-envisioned Chesapeake Bay ride.

I knew I wasn't going to reach 8K or even 7K; the numbers just weren't trending, so I decided that 5500 was practical. Funny how even a revised, rightsized and slid goal can focus the attention.

With just a few days left and snow and cold in the forecast, today (Sunday) found me at 5473 miles on a rainy but mild day. I still needed 27 miles. I couldn't bring myself to launch into the heavy rain of the morning, so I procrastinated and putzed all day long until deciding that I'd have to do it.

I got on the bike at about 3.45, in moderate rain. I wore the rain jacket and the rain pants.

I wasn't motivated by the goal, or by guilt, as much as by dread-laden avoidance of self-loathing in the event I'd miss 5500.

I rode to Moon and across the Sewickley Bridge and over to Sewickley to the Starbucks. I was warm and dry, although the outside of my clothing was cold and wet. Enjoyed a warm-comfort drink, venti-one-pump-Skinny-Vanilla-chai-tea-latte. (We need some bike racks outside the Sewickley Starbucks, although I realize the Village aesthetic is fiercely protected; it is, after all, the Beaver of Allegheny County.)

Departed at about 5.15 in darkness and light mist, all lit up. Three lights forward and four lights aft. I love riding north out of Sewickley and up into Ambridge. Took the newly opened Ambridge-Aliquippa lane and took the lane across the span. It's not wide enough for a car to get by you, and my timing was fortuitous in that I had my lane to myself.

Turned onto 51North after checking all my rear lights. All the car drivers were very courteous and gave me a lot of room, and two slowed way down to see what was under all those bright lights. (I love it when that happens.)

The final three or four miles are on tertiery roads, and they were as quiet as they could be - I think people were tracking the football outcomes. It was a very peaceful, quiet dark ride, and a little bit of snow started falling. 30 miles for the day, 5503 for 2013.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Alliteration Alleycat: Represent n Reflect, Slippy Sludge

12.28.2013 21m #220 40F
Tremendous day for a ride and it seemed like people figured that out because there was quite a few cyclists out this afternoon.

Met S and R at the Bastille. Rode around the Casino, crossed to the Point, took the Ft. Pitt bridge - which was not clear of slush and ice, but it worked. Stopped at Shop412 to ogle the logos. I'd like to get some of these in reflective material for my panniers. Maybe a collabo with Fiks Reflective. #RepresentAndReflect, n'at.

Continued southeast with the intent of riding to the Pump House, but as we approached the Valley of Shadows prior to Keystone Metals the sun fell behind the mountain, the air became colder, and the trail had about an inch or two of SlippySludge™ on it. We continued for about fifty yards and then we met SB coming opposite direction.

After hearing her report of conditions beyond, we played it prudent and reversed course. The four of us road together up to the Hot Metal Bridge, and SB was very tolerant of my Jingle Bells bit everytime we encountered somebody on the trail. At the HMB she crossed the river, and we made for Big Dog Coffee.

Big Dog was pretty crowded, but Dave Friday, another cyclist who was sitting alone at a table for four, invited us to sit with him. A very nice man.

After a while we got back on our steeds, crossed the Hot Metal Bridge ourselves, and made for the North Side. 21 miles on a tremendous day.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Kaleidoscope Soup, Tazza d'Oro Coffee, and Doris

12.27.2013 25m 40F
beautiful day for a ride, although at the 1300 start there was still a lot of snow and permasludge on the Chateau Trail so S and I rode via sidestreets to the 16th Street Bridge.

We crossed the Allegheny and continued outbound, stopping to take pictures of these new pieces at Charlotte St and 35th Street:

Continued outbound until we passed the Kaleidoscope Cafe, which is a place I've long wanted to stop at. Besides the most excellent exterior murals, the cozy informal interior is also decorated with a kaleidoscope theme.

Soup of the Day was Sweet Potato Soup. It was a very interesting taste, but quite spicy (pepper) and really bracing to the palate.

Departed and rode further out to the Pittsburgh Zoo, Highland Park, and Tazza D'Oro for a scone, an apple, a hot chocolate and a double espresso. Most excellent, as always.

Stopped in Friendship to take a picture of Doris, whose more formal name is Fabulousa Lochnessa Kaleidoscopa Mosaica.

S. navigated us across town and down Junction Hollow. Took this photo under the highway at Four Mile Run:

Rode to the Jail Trail, and back to the North Side and the Bastille. A most excellent day, and another 25 miles.

Monday, December 23, 2013

19 Feet and Rising

12/23/2012 37m 32F
Started at Oh-Dark-Thirty in hopes of the hourly forecast being reality-based. It wasn't, and S and I rode in the rain anyway.

As we came around the corner by the Science Center and the Langely Observatory sculpture, descending to the Heinz Field entrance and the area where the ferry boats dock and Duck Boats launch and recover, the trail was blocked by the river which had swollen due to recent rainfall and flooded the banks.

Imagine if it had flooded and frozen, that would have been a great descent. According to WPXI, the river crested at 21.9 feet on Monday. The downtown Mon Wharf parking area begins to flood when the river reaches about 18 feet, while the North Shore Riverwalk starts to flood at 19 feet.

Rode to the SouthSide and BigDogCoffee, in pursuit of the Oatmeal and Toppings that has been eluding us. We were not disappointed; I had oatmeal with cherries, craisins, and raisins. Most excellent.

Back out into the rain and out along the SouthSide trail, past Sandcastle, and past the Phantom's Revenge. Rode through Duquesne and onto the Riverton Bridge between Duquesne and McKeesport. We pretty much had the trail to ourselves, but when we did see people I tried to share the Christmas spirit by jangling my Christmas bells at them.

Reversed course into a strong headwind. Coming back, we stopped at the Waterfront Starbucks for a bite then got back on the trails. The wind was pretty significant. Took the Hot Metal Bridge across the Monongahela, which provided a vantage point for us to see that the new Riverfront Park was flooded.

I'm very impressed at the engineering that goes into building structures that tolerate flooding, and I'm not at all put off by the frequent closures. I'd much rather have an accessible river with occasional closures (acknowledging the forces of nature) that be in a city built behind tall, concrete floodwalls like I've seen elsewhere.

I was surprised to see how much the river had already receded when we got to the Point, and the rain had stopped by then. Back to the cars in the headwind. 37 miles.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

More Daylight and Soupaneur Five of 2013: Hello Bistro

12/22/2013 24M 60F
Just a magnificent day to ride bikes, especially in December.

Started at the Bastille. Rode across the Ft. Pitt bridge, took the trails out to the Waterfront and Costco.

Reversed and stopped in the SouthSide at Hello Bistro for soup. Their logo looks an awful lot like the BikePgh logo.

What was remarkable about Hello Bistro is that it's a Eat'N Park restaurant in another business model. The big change besides the appearance is staffing; there's only two employees on duty. You place your order at the counter. It comes in paper containers; the only thing they're going to wash in a scullery is the silverware. No dishwasher. No wait staff. No hostess. No busboy. (Please excuse the gender-specific terms). It's the New-American restaurant: No Staffing.

I had black bean soup, and a apple-bacon-cheddar grilled cheese which was awesome. This was a great stop. The significant failure of Hello Bistro: no wifi. Really? No wifi? For a SouthSide Hipster bistro-manquee? Epic FAIL.

Back to the Smithfield Street Bridge. Encountered C, F, and YC at Point State Park, and YC joined us for the ride north to the Bastille. At the Bastille, one of my friends surreptitiously took this photo of me.

I am expecting to be contacted by the Old Spice people for their next advertising campaign. Today had more daytime than yesterday; how awesome is that?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Solstice Ride to Braddock: Kickstarter for Kevin Sousa's Restaurant, Superior Motors

Sat 12/21/2013 20m
Started at the Southside Riverfront Park, accessed via 18th Street, and joined S and YC under the Burmingham Bridge. This is a great place to muster for rides in the rain, because you're under shelter while assembling bikes n'at.

This was going to be a rainy day, with periods of rain broken up by intermittent heavy rain. BUT it was also going to be 60F, so it was a glorious day to be riding, on the winter solstice, wearing short pants. Plus I wore my rain cape, the Christmas tree garland pseudo-boa, and the Christmas bells on my bike from the previous night's Flock ride. Subtitle: "One Hot Mess".

The destination today was Braddock, for a reception at Mayor John Fetterman's digs for Kevin Sousa's new restaurant, Superior Motors. The concept is for more than a restaurant; it's a community-bootstrap project with local gardens, job training, housing for the restaurant's trainees. There's a Kickstarter campaign to get it going.

I love riding to Braddock. There's two primary routes from my side of the globe, and I far prefer to ride the GAP trail through the Waterfront in Homestead, take the Rankin Bridge across the Mon, and then teardrop on the sidewalks into the main drag of Braddock. It's a great ride.

Very impressed to see a new addition: the Red Lantern Bike Shop (Facebook), which I assume is a play-on-words from the Tour de France's Lanterne Rouge.

We were pretty thoroughly soaked when we rolled into the gutted space that's going to house the restaurant. I think we startled the staffers, who were like "whoa, got to take a picture of that".

The reception was in Mayor Fetterman's residence, a very cool space. We also got to see the rooftop greenhouse they're going to use for some of the restaurant's greens.

It was raining real heavy when it was time to depart, but we waited a few minutes and then we went for it, and as always happens once we stepped up it was not bad at all, and kind of a blast. Riding through the Waterfront, one lady driving a white car gave us shout-outs of encouragement.

We continued to Big Dog Coffee, hoping for their Most Excellent Oatmeal which had struck us as a perfect fuel-food on a rainy day, but we arrived too late in the day. I had a mocha bianca, S had tea, we split a scone; it was great. We sat with YC for a while and then we got back to the cars in a lull from the rain.

This was a great ride, on a day we might have easily dismissed over the rain. We got to go to the reception and see things we'd have never intersected with ordinarily. Very cool. Check out the Kickstarter campaign.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pyrite Boa and Jingle Bells: December Flock Ride

Friday 12/20/2013 33m
Started at the Bastille at 1300, and S and I spent a certain amount of time rigging our bicycles for the Flock of Cycles ride later in the day. We decorated the bikes with Christmas lights. We had some Christmas tree garland, which S put on the bike and I wore on top of my rain cape like a pyrite boa. I strung Christmas bells across my handlebars. Very Holiday Festive.

Between the rain cape and the boa I imagine I looked somewhat like an aging, porcine drag queen wearing a high-vis moomoo. Not exactly the image one hopes to project, but hey...

Went to Pittsburgh Steak Company for something to eat. I had eggplant over pasta, S had a roast beef hoagie; very good.

We rode out on the Baldwin Borough Trail intent on going out to Costco, but there was quite a bit of ice just north of Keystone Metals and we chose to reverse there.

Stopped at REI for shopping. Picked up some gloves that promise to be waterproof, breathable, and extremely warm. I have warm gloves, but they're not waterproof and on a rainy day they're compromised pretty fast.

Met the Flock at Schenley Quad between 1800 and 1830. Very sad to learn that MM was injured while enroute to the Flock Ride, a driver cut him off and he went down with drastic results. Couldn't walk and had to cat-walk on all fours to get off the roadway. Heal fast, M.

The Flock Rides feature a boom box on a bike trailer, and this is a link to the playlist for this ride that consists of contributions from many of the riders; as the titles and dates suggest, it's an eclectic group.

It was a good ride. We usually ride into Market Square but today's ride avoided that due to the Christmas Market going on, so we rode through PPG Plaza instead.

We rode out on Forbes and through the Armstrong Tunnel, named after Pittsburgh Mayor Joseph G Armstrong.

It's very cool to ride bikes through the tunnel. Then S and I departed the Flock and navigated back to the NorthSide, while they rode the SouthSide and ended at OTB. A very nice ride.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Samelot, Scones, Obsessions

Thurs 12/19/2013 40F 20m
A very pleasant and mild day. Started at the Bastille and was pleasantly surprised to meet RustyRed, with reindeer antlers sticking out of her helmet, at the trailhead. She joined us and rode south and her handlebar-mounted VideoCam took this picture of us rounding the Casino:

We had intended to cross the Ft.Pitt bridge but the sidewalk was still quite icy so we reversed course and rode out of town on Blvd of the Allies and Fifth Ave, past Gist Street and out to see Sir Samelot's Christmas kit:

Crossed the Birmingham Bridge and rode to Big Dog Coffee. I had a Mocha Blanca, S had a Hot Chocolate, and we split a cranberry-cornbread-scone which was really excellent.

We have wondered: what visitor center does a bicyclist arriving from DC encounter? So we went off in search of the Southside Welcome Center, which is rather up by the Terminal Building and at the wrong end of Southside to be welcoming an arriving cyclist. Note for future progress.

Crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge to the Downtown side of the river, and instead of turning left and back to the Bastille - it was just such a nice day - we turned right and rode down to the Swinburne Street trailhead, just because it was beautiful out and we had "world enough and time", and so we heeded Andrew Marvell.

While riding on the Jail Trail I took these photos of a particular place in the rock wall that I think would serve well as the site of a future monument. The big picture:

The tabula rasa:

Mount BurghMayor:

It's a concept. Recognize the past, establish the heroes, leave room for future growth.

Came home and used the evening to check the internet and indulge my obsessive search for Moby Dick the perfect trunk rack bag. I was liking this, considered this, and was almost seduced by this one. Then I learned that a woman (inevitably) has already diagnosed and explained my behavior.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Soupaneur 4: Kelly O's

12/18/2013 14m 28F 214#
Started on a colder day at the Bastille. Attempted to use the Chateau Trail but it was pretty icy, so S and I took to the roads.

Stopped at Market Square, looking for a geegaw. Rode south to Tustin Street to check out Sir Samelot. Reversed on Fifth, back into town. Pulled over for an overtaking fire truck with sirens blasting, only to see an ambulance on a cross-street on a DAT (dead-ass-tie). They just about got together in the intersection, which would have been messy.

A few blocks later we saw they were tending to a pedestrian knocked down in a crosswalk by a car. Before the first-responders got there, one person was tending to the fallen pedestrian, and two people were comforting the driver.

Stopped at Kelly O's in the Strip for Soupaneur Four. I had the Turkey Pot Pie Soup, which was excellent. Creamy goodness, meat, mondo-comfort food.

Stopped in the Strip District to run an errand, then crossed the 16th Street Bridge (ahem, the McCollough Bridge) to the North Side. Stayed on the streets until we got close to the baseball stadium, then we joined the trails.

A great ride and a demonstration of the effectiveness of good clothing on a cold day.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Spring Hill and Yetta Avenue Mosaics

12/13/2013 26F 16m 208#
Started at the Bastille in mid-morning, it was very cold but also bright and blue skies.

Rode around Market Square and downtown looking for some Christmas tchotchkes, and then rode east through the Strip District to check out the new (to me, at least) Pittsburgh Public Market at 2401 Penn Ave and Soup Nancy's. They had Jumbalaya and Lentil Chili, very impressive.

The other shops there were also very interesting and skewed artisanal. There was a significant stream of growlers being refilled (for the upcoming weekend, I suppose) at East End Brewing Company's stand. Very cool.

Departed and rode to Lawrenceville to see some new street art by Jeremy Raymer, at Charlotte Street and 35th Street, depicting Blek Le Rat, the father of stencil graffiti. He drew stencil graffiti in Paris focused on rats because they are the only animals living wild in the city.

We had learned of a mosaic in Spring Hill, which is a neighborhood I've never been in.

We rode across the 31st Street Bridge - the first time I've been across it since it's reopened.

Had a very interesting climb to the top of Spring Hill via Chestnut Street, Itin Street, Rhine Street, and Walz Street. On such a cold day as this, the climb was rather pleasant and we were quite warmed up by the top of it. We found this at the three-way intersection of Walz, Homer, and Damas Streets.

There's allusions to a lot of local history in this, I look forward to learning the stories told in the mosaic. You can see the public staircases, the firehall, the fountain, and the German immigrant influence on the community. We had also been told that there's a local "Mosaic Alley" with a lot of other artwork, but that's all we knew.

We rode around looking, asking a few residents but we didn't have much luck. Finally, one man who we'd asked and left drove up to us and said, I know what you're looking for and gave us directions to Yetta Avenue. It was an essential Pittsburgh moment - you don't know what you're looking for, you ask around, people are nice, and when they figure it out they come after you to help you.

We found these houses at Yetta Avenue.

While we were taking pictures, a gentleman came out and told us about the artwork and several of the stories. Really a nice man, teaches at Duquesne and he's a bicyclist also.

We departed Spring Hill and we came down from the hills a lot faster (and an awful lot colder) than we came up the hills. From Chestnut we went straight ahead and joined the trail system under the 16th Street Bridge, and then rode around to the Bastille. It was a great day for a bike ride.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DePanting Inertia and the Perplexing Syllogism of Winter Cycling

12/11/2013 #212 25m 28F
The hardest thing about an optional ride in adverse weather is the decision to take your pants off and start dressing for the ride. Once you've taken off your pants (depanted or discased would be the verb, I suppose; why don't we have a better word for that? I mean, we've got a word for defenestration, but no word for removing pants?) then you've made a committment, but until you've dropped trou you might still weasel out of the ride.

Fortunately, while vacillating do-I-stay-or-do-I-go I received a phonecall from my bike-riding friend R and I said aloud, "Yeah I'm just about to go out", so once I'd verbalized it I had to go, and it became easy — because I had to.

I rode to the local Podunk post office to drop off outgoing mail, and felt like the functional part of my ride was accomplished. Rode further north through Rochester PA which I LOVE because I get to ride the bike around one of the few actual roundabouts in Western PA, and everybody does so well and nobody has ever got their driver-panties in a bunch over a bike acting like a vehicle.

When there's no traffic I'll go around the roundabout a few times, but when there's cars and trucks etc I play it straight because they're being nice to me and even not killing me.

Rode north through New Brighton and Beaver Falls to Geneva College, which sits on top of the hill. Reversed and headed back to the Rez via a slightly different route which involves a sustained climb, which was nice because it kept me warm.

It was pretty cold out, 28F before the wind chill but I was mostly comfortable. There's a troublesome dynamic in winter cycling, in the form of a perplexing syllogism:

  • Responding to mechanical issues requires manual dexterity.
  • None of the buttons, levers, devices, or implements work with gloves on your hands.
  • When you take your gloves off, you lose your manual dexterity.
My conclusion is that any sustained mechanical response will involve either walking the bike out to heated shelter, or suffering through repeatedly working until the hands lose function, putting on gloves to restore function, and repeating. Ugh.

So, winter riding seems like an exercise in preparation, planning, good equipment, situational awareness, and judgement - which makes it a fun operation. Do it right and it seems easy; take it for granted and the wolf will be at your throat.

After I reached the Rez without casualty I got the bike inside and faced the Second Strip Challenge of the day: taking off the ride clothes in the cold bathroom to get into the shower. Our bathroom is not unusually cold, but I was spoiled to have a very warm bathroom in my youth.

For three winters I lived in a Levitt house with radiant heat in the bathroom floor, and the bathroom was in the center of the house (no exterior walls) and adjacent to the furnace closet. That bathroom was warm beyond description, and today I resisted changing for the second time, unwilling to get colder. I don't miss much about those years, but I do get nostalgic for that warm bathroom.

Finally I realized that I must HTFU and face the music; the transition was brief, the shower was hot, and life was good - I was inside and under roof on a harsh, cold day, and my foray outside was strictly optional. 25 miles in the bag.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rain Cape, Soupaneur 2013-3, Douglas MacArthur

12/09/2013 35F #212 17m

Started riding in the rain at 35F this afternoon, so: rain capes! Because: rain capes! There's really very few days when a rain cape is called for, and you also happen to have a rain cape on hand.

What's great about wearing a rain cape is it keeps you truly dry (with good fenders and booties) and at a comfortable temperature, without building up a personal biosphere of warm persiration within your waterproof rain suit. The downsides of the rain cape are the large sail surface presented to the wind, the absolutely ludicrous personal appearance, and there's always Edna's advice from The Incredibles (2004): No Capes!

Took the 16th Street Bridge to the Strip District, ended up at Pho Van at 2120 Penn Avenue for Soupaneur visit 3.

As you can tell, one of us is riding in Christmas-elf garb.

I've never had a chance to enjoy Vietnamese food before and this was an excellent introduction. I had brisket-beef soup, it was very good and enough to make a meal out of. S had chicken soup.

Once fortified, we rode across Grant Street to the Jail Trail, to the Hot Metal Bridge, to the South Side Trail. Ft. Pitt and Ft. Duquesne Bridges to get back to the North Side.

Stopped to check out the just-dedicated World War II memorial, designed around a steel-and-glass theme. The memorial is very well done, but I am puzzled at the Duty-Honor-Country inscription on the entranceway obelisk - why the invocation of Douglas MacArthur?

Certainly, WW2 ended with MacArthur's acceptance of the Japanese surrender. But MacArthur was removed from command during the Korean War (1951) by President Truman for disobeying an order and publicly challenging the President's strategy.

The selection of a dismissed general's shibboleth is perplexing. Surely they didn't choose it for symmetry with three rivers, three words?

Addendum I had a very nice email from the primary artist for the memorial who explained that Duty, Honor, Country is the motto of West Point, and predates MacArthur's speech. A veteran's committee has selected the phrase for the memorial as representative of all who served.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Buff, Tea with Honey, and the WSJ

12/07/2013 210# 30m 28F
I paid attention to the forecast instead of actual conditions yesterday and ended up not riding, in better conditions than today offered. BUT today is likely to be nicer than the next four days, so I carpe-diemed and layered up and got out there.

This suggests the WC-L-G-CI, a new metric I have not completely figured out how to articulate: the Wind Chill - Layers - Gears Composite Index. 19 windchill, 5 layers, 27 gears; it's got to come together somehow. I'm thinking that any day your WindChill plus Layers is Less than the Number of Gears on your bike, you qualify for Rule Nine BadAss Status. (I believe that BadAss is an inclusive pronoun.)

It had snowed at least an inch or two last night so trail riding was out but major roads were good (no shoulders, though) and it was colder than I usually ask people to join me, so I went out for a solo ride.

Rode from the Rez out to Moon and over to Sewickley for the Starbucks (Sewickley is, after all, the Beaver of Allegheny County). Had a hot tea with honey and read the Wall Street Journal, since they were out of the NY Times.

Today I experimented with a wearing a wool buff around my neck. (Darn- research shows they make a high-viz, reflective model.)

On the outbound leg I just let this wool sleeve sit and it did a nice job of sealing the top of my windbreaker. On the return leg, when I was riding in shadows along Route 51, I had pulled it up over my mouth and nose and after a while I was much too warm; I pulled over and took it off. Nice problem to have on a cold day.

The hand- and foot-warmers did a good job making it a comfortable ride, and I got off the roads before sundown. A nice 30 miles which took me over 5200 miles for the year, so I've got 100 miles/ week.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Warm Spring Rain Ride, Car Day

12/05/2013 #212 60F 27m
This was a crazy-mild day. Started at the Bastille at 0800 with S, hoping to get a ride in before the rain started.

Rode across the Ft. Pitt Bridge, down to SouthSide and Sandcastle, and out to the Pump House. Stopped to check the weather radar (which is IMO the coolest thing to be able to access on your phone) and the weather wasn't too far away so we reversed there.

The rain started in earnest before we cleared the South Side, but it was so much like a warm spring rain that it was actually rather pleasant. Stopped at 18th Street to run an errand, then back on the bikes: Station Square, Point State Park, the Casino, and the Bastille.

It did seem to be Drive Your Car On The Trail Day, we encountered four different vehicles actually driving on the trails: a POV maneuvering around the Casino, an Alcosan pickup in Baldwin, a County truck by the football stadium, and another POV around the Casino.

It was so nice to be able to ride around in shorts and a windbreaker. The rain didn't detract from the weather at all.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Voluptuous Death and Transcendance

12/04/2013 #212 30m 55F
A tremendous weather day for riding, although it seemed to swing between hot and cold flashes as we moved from sun to shadow, and from higher ground to down by the rivers.

Started at the Bastille with S and RC. We made all sorts of stops and errands; the MS150 office to check on a lost jacket, Thick Bikes to inquire about a sweet trunk bag RC had bought, and REI to pick up a jacket that S had ordered.

I'm in a conundrum myself about choosing a new rackbag to replace one that's worn out. I've identified the perfect bag from Seattle Sports and it's no longer made. Argghhh! I was born too late.

Stopped at Big Dog Coffee for caffeine. S had some oatmeal with additional fruit and nuts that looked very good, I may try that myself next time.

Riding on the Baldwin Borough Trail I heard a noise coming from "six oclock high" that I've never heard in real life (IRL) before, it was the call of an eagle; looked up and saw one of the local eagles traversing to their nest. Way cool. Rode out to Sandcastle, reversed, and rode to the baseball stadium. Rode east to the 40th Street Bridge, crossed the Allegheny, turned inbound toward the Point.

On an earlier ride we had encountered some interesting murals at Charlotte St. and 35th Street in Lawrenceville that we didn't know anything about, and today we saw an open door on the building so we were bold enough to introduce ourselves and ask questions. Turns out that this picture is a rendition of In Voluptas Mors (1951), by Salvador Dali and Philippe Halsman.

We also learned that another mural at the same location was of Ray Kurzweil, taken from the documentary Transcendent Man, and that the artist is Jeremy Raymer of Blue Bottle Coffee. Such great stuff!

We used the 9th Street Bridge to get back to the North Side, and ended up riding through tunnels rather than trails to get back to the Casino (generally considered the touchstone for all NorthSide navigation). 30 miles on a beautiful December day.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Reflections on Living The Dream 40F in December

12/3/2013 23m 40F #216
Just a tremendous weather day for riding a bike in December: blue skies, no wind, relatively warm, and dry pavement. A chance to begin working off the pounds gained over Thanksgiving.

Started riding with S. at the Bastille. Rode down to Sandcastle-Costco, encountered YC and enjoyed a brief hello in the sunshine. Reversed and noticed that as the sun went behind the ridge, it became noticably moist-chilly (as if in a fog) between Keystone Metals and Becks Run Road.

The Monongahela River was calm and glassy, and there were fantastic reflections on the water.

When we rode across the Ft. Pitt bridge and looked down onto the river, you could see the reflection of the contrails overhead. I don't remember ever seeing that before.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Soupaneur 2, Pittsburgh Chanukah Bike Parade

12/2/2013 #215 33m 34F

Today was a mild day, almost (but not quite) a short pants day.

Started at the Bastille with S. Rode around to SouthSide REI, where we both had some returns to process. Continued southeast along the trail to Costco, then reversed.

Crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, rode the chute, Junction Hollow to Fifth, then we rode out to Squirrel Hill. Stopped at Smallman Street Deli on Murray Avenue for our Soupaneur Stop of 2013. S had chicken noodle soup, I had beef barley, it was very good.

Departed to meet the Second Annual Pittsburgh Chabad Menorah Parade. Probably fifteen cyclists attended, a nice group of cyclists.

The ride was uneventful, although the car convoy did seem to get stretched out a bit into segments. No casualties, no crises, and a good ride was had by all. Got to see Mayor-Elect Peduto light the Grand Menorah. Lots of great DIY projects in the way of bike lighting.

Most Awesome Award probably has to go to Stu, who rode his unicycle for the whole course, with a wooden box containing an electric menorah tied around his neck.

It was sort of rain-snow-spritzing when we left Schenley Quad. We descended Panther Hollow, Second Ave, Jail Trail and crossed to the North Side when S. took this excellent photo:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Soupaneur 1: Einlauf Soup, Max's Allegheny Tavern, 35 miles

11/30/2013 #213 35m 35F
Today I got to enjoy three rides, in a way, while other more intrepid cyclists rode the Dirty Dozen. Took this photo at the koi pond on the Chateau Trail:

First, just because I got out early and wanted to blow out some carbon, I rounded the stadia and rode past the 31st Street Bridge, then reversed and took the streets back to the casino - which felt really good to do. I met Stu on his way out to marshall the Dirty Dozen, he looked quite dashing with a high-viz scarf. My seat post clamp became loose and my seat post receded into my seat tube, causing some inefficient posture and getting jiggy wid'it. I'm thinking about blaming that on the temperature changes, but that's just grasping for a cause.

Returned to the Bastille, tightened the seat post clamp (which is not a QR), met S and RR. Rode around to the 40th Street Bridge, up through the Allegheny Cemetery, across to Oakland, down Panther Hollow to the Swinburne Street Trailhead (seeing Kitaira). Took the Jail Trail and the Ft. Duquesne Bridge around to the Casino.

Departed the trail eastbound, destined for Max's Allegheny Tavern and our first Soupaneur 2013 outing. Enjoyed some Einlauf Soup, which was very good and perhaps a bit not unlike matzoh ball soup in my estimation, even though it's technically more like egg-drop soup.

Departed Max's a bit heavier on the bike, lights on, back to the Bastille.

35 miles on my ride, on a very nice day for the last of November.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chartreuse and Orange is the New Black Friday

11/29/2013 #212 20m 34F
This seemed a much more tolerable weather day than Monday, I think it was due to the absence of any significant wind.

My response to Black Friday, shopping, and cars was to wear Chartreuse and Orange, ride a bike and be fabulous.

Started at the Bastille with S. Rode around to USX Plaza to see the Crèche and take some photos. Pittsburgh's is the only authorized replica of the original Vatican crèche on display in Rome.

Joined the Jail Trail and saw Bob and Maggie Holder on their tandem riding quite smartly in the opposite direction.

Crossed the Hot Metal Bridge and joined the Baldwin Borough Trail. Just south-east of the startup office park, the consistent wet patch on the trail has turned into a consistent ice patch. Continued down to Keystone Metals, where the trail really doesn't get much sunlight at all due to the hill beyond Route 837. The trail surface was about 1.5 inches of irregular crusty ice, and since this was a pleasure ride and we weren't delivering any transplant organs n'at, we reversed and went to REI.

REI: warmth, restrooms, Chia-seed munchies. Back across the Hot Metal Bridge. Saw Ben-Y on the Jail Trail, rocking two bike-Menorah's - one on his helmet, one on his trailer. Continued across town, saw the folks going into the Pitt game on the North Side.

Passing the Casino we encountered award-winning cyclist Yale Cohen along with PaulH and Meg. Yale, who just crossed 10,000 bike miles in 2013, had just delivered his BikePgh Men's Bike Challenge Trophy to the Bicycle Heaven Museum for display until next year. Yale has won the award two years in a row, very impressive and a great guy.