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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lewis and Clark, The Three Ladies of Gist Street, Kudos to Mitchells Fish Market

6/29/13 25m
Started at the Bastille with S, rode around to Point State Park and saw an amazing sand sculpture in progress: Sacagawea and Lewis and Clark and Seaman, their trusty canine companion. An amazing tableau.

Continued to Gist Street to see the recently re-established dachsund, which had been stolen and then returned, slightly damaged. It was great to see her returned.

While there, we noticed some new artwork. I don't know the proper titles, but for the time being I refer to them as Big Kitty Little Kitty.

I have christened this The Three Ladies of Gist Street. All very nice. I'm inclined to assume that the center figure is Frida Kahlo, the bird on the necklace is consistent with other depictions of FK but there's no attribution. Gist Street is the most awesome few blocks of public art in Pittsburgh.

While we were in Uptown, we continued to visit Sir Samelot and were impressed at his preparations for the 4th of July. Sir Samelot is very patriotic.

We manuevered onto the Birmingham Bridge over to South South and joined the trail to ride to the Waterfront. I was very impressed to see that Mitchell's Fish Market, which you might think does not draw much business from the bike trail, had a table out by the trail with two big coolers filled with ice water, paper cups, and a "welcome bicyclists" sign. That is very nice of them. Kudos to Mitchells Fish Market and John Cornwall, the assistant general manager. You just don't see too many welcome signs like that (although Costco has one up too, as previously noted)

Reversed course, rode to the South Side, stopped at Big Dog Coffee for iced tea and smoothies. Very nice as always. Continued northwest on the SouthSide trail to the Ft. Pitt Bridge, crossed over to the Ft. Duquesne Bridge. The NorthSide was crowded with a baseball game coming up. Back to the Bastille with 25.6 miles on the clock, a very nice ride.

There were a lot of people on all of the trails today and there were bicycles everywhere. You'd think it was a bike-friendly city or something.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sub 24-Hour Overnight in 24 Hours 30 minutes

6/23/2013 40m
R. and I were awake early, so we departed the campground at 0800 which probably helped us to miss most of the day's heat. I was surprised that the campground was still pretty quiet from 0600 to 0800.

We were slower on the return trip, which I've decided to explain away in a faith-based analysis that the trip back was uphill. We stopped in McKeesport at the convenience store for cold water and Gatorade. Continued via Glassport and Clairton back to Large, where we stopped again in a shady spot.

Today definitely felt like a harder day to ride. We stopped at another conveniece store, and they had the reefer door open and I greedily stood in front of it trying to cool off.

At the National Tunnel I stopped for another cooldown among the cold stones, and that was very nice. A few more miles to our uphill destination, but there was no question of walking up the hill in R's neighborhood and it felt like a nice way to finish.

It was 87F when we got off the bikes at 1330. I'd drank at least three gallons of water over five and a half hours, and was still impressed at the effect of the heat.

This was an excellent Pittsburgh S24O (sub 24-hour overnight), easily accessible from the city via the new Sandcastle trail, and also accessible with a little bit of navigating and road sharing via the southern arc of the Montour Trail. Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dravos Campground, Summer Solstice S24O

6/22 40m
Some folks from the BikePgh web forum decided to mark the solstice and the full moon with an overnight bike camping trip, which I thought was an excellent idea.

Our destination was the Dravos Cemetery campground, an inauspicious name that suggests Zombies but it's a very nice primitive campground, with a lot of room, some fireweood, campsites and firerings, SST latrines and a good water supply. I've thought that this campground would see a lot of use now that the Sandcastle trail segment is open, since this is the closest campground to Pittsburgh (23 miles from the Hot Metal Bridge).

Although most of the company followed a route from the Hot Metal Bridge, R and I started at his house in Cecil Township on the Montour Trail, and rode around the southern arc of the Montour.

We passed through the National Tunnel, the new Morganza Road section, and at Valleybrook Road we were pleased to see a new trail segment that's quasi-open between VBR and the sewage plant. It doesn't sound like much, but it obviates the need to ride on the road in a somewhat non-bike-friendly situation.

We continued along the Montour Trail past the Arabian stables and to Route 88, where we took to the road and used Charlie F's kludge shortcut to avoid a major intersection and a bit of traffic. Then we joined the trail again at Stewart St and rode this brand new trail section across the southern edge of South Park, out to Triphammer Road, and then on another new section of trail.

Then we took the series of non-limestone workarounds: the segregated bike lanes, the quiet two lane road, and stopped at the Large Hotel for a cold drink. Back on the bike and back on another trail segment to Clairton. Back on the road to Glassport and McKeesport, where we got to take a look at the new Alleyway Trail (looks great!), stopped at a convenience store for a gallon of water apiece, and then intercepted the GAP.

Rode south on the GAP for about six miles. At the trailhead R and I met Joanne and Ray, who were only visiting for the afternoon but had the fine sportsmanship to bring and share cold beer. Soon M. and M. and a few other riders came out, and I met a friend from the Diabetes ride passing through with his daughter and took a photo of them.

We set up camp on the highground hoping for an evening breeze, while the rest of the BikePgh folks set up camp down low by the river. It was a great opportunity to refresh myself with the equipment etc. The portable shower worked well and a cold shower was a thing of joy.

After dinner the group had a campfire, and a guitar and harmonica's and some general weapons of percussion were introduced. R and I said our goodnights early, but we could hear the harmonicas on the breeze as we stretched out and it was a very pleasant sound.

There was a big, full moon and a tremendous demonstration of fireflies.
A very nice ride, 40 miles.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Heinz Plant to Pamela's Pancakes Millvale to Casino

6/21/2013 9miles
A short ride today along with new trail rider M. We started from the Heinz plant at the 16th Street bridge and M explained that the Heinz business was quite enlighted in its day, I'd like to learn more about that.

H. J. Heinz was incorporated in 1905, and Heinz served as its first president, remaining in the position for the rest of his life. Under his tutelage, the company was noted for fair treatment of workers and for pioneering safe and sanitary food preparation. He provided his employees with free medical care, recreation facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, and gardens; and educational opportunities such as libraries, free concerts, and lectures. Heinz led a successful lobbying effort in favor of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906

Rode out to Millvale, (saw BikeyGirl) stopped at Pamela's Pancakes for coffee and strawberry crepes. OMG. Back to the trail, and noticed something new crossing the Route 28 on- and off-ramps; the crosswalk has a crossing button, which illuminates yellow blinking lights. Pressed the button, the lights blinked, cars stopped in both directions. That was really nice.

Rode back to 16th Street, met a few other cyclists, continued to a place opposite the Point. There were quite a lot of small boats moored in anticipation of a Kenny Chesney concert on Saturday night. Boat camping seems possibly better equipped than car camping, these folks were doing it big.

Continued around to the Casino, reversed and back to the Heinz plant. A very nice ride.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

6/20/13 22miles
Returned to a friendly old haunt that I haven't been to in a while: the Boggs trailhead on the Montour Trail, which has always struck me as a bit of an oasis. It's a really nice area, a lot of work has been done on it, well maintained, and just a pretty spot. (Oh, for a water supply!)

I started out late in the day and headed out to the south-west, rode to Route 50 in Venice. Tried to take a look at the new trail spur at Route 50, but it only goes twenty yards from the "legacy" trail. On the way back I san begaw quite a few bunnies and some deer as the sun began to set.

A very nice ride, 22 miles.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

GAP Complete (except for the gap)

6/15/2013 24m
Point Made, Completion of the Gap, etc. Today is the designated official Grand Opening of the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail through Sandcastle etc all the way to Point State Park.

see the bikes in the street on the completed bike trail?

(Although it isn't complete, of course. The GAP is not complete to Point State Park. The GAP is complete to Smithfield Street, when 352 miles of trails ends a mile short of the Point and you can finish your motor-vehicle-free ride by trying to not get killed in the last mile. (Related story )

Still, complete of the Sandcastle-Keystone Metals section is a huge, long-awaiting accomplishment that deserves a celebration. It's a significant project in terms of funding, engineering, project management, and equitable access and it opens entirely new neighborhoos up to safe bike traffic.

Started the morning on the North Side with R., rode to Point State Park, took this picture of the new bronze marker embedded at the Point. As I understand it, this is the "official" terminus of the Great Allegheny Passage.

I don't get the symbolism of the turtle icon, unless it's an invocation of "turtles all the way down", which I wish more people would invoke.

Continued to the Hot Metal Bridge, stopped for coffee and a piece of poppy seed cake. Rode to the Costco gate of Sandcastle to meet other cyclists volunteering to help work the celebration.

We rode back to town and our post was Market St and Ft. Pitt Blvd. It was a pretty simple task, we were supposed to keep an eye on the red/green lights, the auto traffic, and the progressing cyclists and try to make sure no cyclists got hit by cars. I got to give a shout-out to both Linda Boxx and Mayor Tom Murphy as they rode past.

After the ride we stopped at the BikePgh photo booth to have our pictures taken with our bikes, then back to the Bastille. A very nice day with a celebration of a big accomplishment. 24 miles.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Evangelism, CostCo, Flock Pride Ride

thu 6/14 43m
This was a day of roughly three rides.

In the morning I took a friend who's been off the bike for a few years out on the local city trails. We rode Station Square to South Side Works round trip, about six miles on the clock. He did real well.

Then I rode out to Keystone Metals - Sandcastle - Waterfront. I suspect this section of the trail will be renamed though common usage. Back in the day, you'd "ride through Sandcastle" which really meant you'd hack your way through Keystone Metals and Sandcastle. But now the trail is open and salvation is assured, so passing though there is no longer a defining or a significant element - I think common usage will become, I rode to the Waterfront or I rode to CostCo or I rode to the Pump House.

I hope somebody delivers a pithy informal name for that destination, like I rode to the Jail Trail (which is called the Eliza Furnace Trail on an official document somewhere). Maybe it'll be: I rode the Kennywood Trail. Anyway, along this ride I met Sara P, president of the Steel Valley Trail council who gave me the newest, hot-off-the-presses map of the Steel Valley trail identifying some public restrooms and approved trail parking areas that I didn't know about.

Reversed to the North Hills and set up my devices at Brighton Heights Java n/Creme House on California Avenue. It's one of my favorite coffee shops, great staff, cool Jamaican vibe, two nice living-room type seating areas and strong wifi. Did a bit of geek work for a few hours. Enjoyed a cocoanut chai latte which was incredible.

Departed in time for the Flock Ride from Oakland. Along the way, I encoutered the PAcMen graffiti shown above on the Jail Trail, between the Hot Metal Bridge and the Swinburne Street trailhead. There was also one of these folks on the bridge at the bottom of Schenley Park along the Junction Hollow Trail.

This month's Flock Ride was designated as a Pride Ride in conjunction with Pittsburgh's Pride Week, which I thought was a really good thing. There were probably 100 cyclists there, probably 60 folks I've seen at Flocks before and new faces, too. The Bike Kit of the Day (BKOTD) award goes to the gentleman in purple glitter booty pants and a high-viz bike flag:

The Flock ride was very nice. I always like riding through the Armstrong Tunnel, it's just something I don't get to do very often. The ride stopped for a Mini-Occupy Market Square. A group of (maybe nine) roller-bladers came into the Square, ordinarily they'd have owned the place at 7.30 pm on a Friday night, but with 100 bicyclists there they just didn't stand out that much.

The Flock ride continued out to Lawrenceville and ended at Butler and 44th Street. There was an afterparty at Cattivo's but I didn't stay. I crossed the 40th Street Bridge and rode home along the north shore of the Allegheny. I passed around the baseball stadium during the 7th inning stretch and was pleased to get there before that traffic snafu got started.

A very nice day of riding, 43 miles.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Core Samples, Handlebar Bar End Biopsies and BarCon Lancets

Danger, danger, danger.

There are risks in any activity. You could take a bikenap (sorry, hashtag-bikenap) and a meteor could fall onto you.

Handlebars can cause injuries. Imagine if the handlebar depicted didn't have plugs on the bar-ends, and then suppose you and your bike were moving forward at 15mph, things go awry, the front wheel oscillates and you begin a forward transition to stopped. An unplugged bar end, whipping around with considerable force, would have the same function as a concrete core sampler: it could take a biopsy of your internal layers that you'd otherwise never get to see.

So what kind of bicyclists fall a lot? Of course: triathletes. Triathletes run, swim, and fall off bikes, especially during the transition into and out of bicycling.

The US Triathlon rule book contains rule 5.11i, which states

5.11i. Handlebars and stem must be fashioned to prevent any danger. All handlebar ends must be solidly plugged to lessen the possibility of injury.

Some people, myself among them, use bar-end shifters (or more archaicly, bar-con shifters. I use them because my decidedly non-standard gear ranges (my chainrings are 20, 34, 46) are incompatible with STI shifters (brifters), which I strongly prefer but one puts up with what one must. The bar-end shifters turn the end of the handlebar from a core-sample drilling tool into a potential icepick or lancet.

I never believed those Letters to the Editor were true until the following happened to me... Last Friday I took a spill on my bike. It was at modest speed, maybe 13 mph, in a non-chaotic situation, a single-bike fall down go boom. My bar-end shifter poked very deeply into my thigh and fortunately the fleshy ponderousity did not yield to an entry wound, but the violence of the impact is suggested by the bruising.

The bar-end shift lever sheared off, and I have ordered new ones. I'm thinking about how to fashion corks around the next installation.

So this post is in the nature of FWIW. No significant injury, lots of bright colors, way-cool bruise and I'm very glad it didn't penetrate.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

MS150 Day Two, A Ride to the Lake

6/09/13 64miles MS150-2

Work in ProgressThis second day of the MS150 started off with another demonstration of what a well-run event looks like: we had breakfast in the dining hall, picked up our bikes from the gym, and dropped off our luggage to be carried to the end. Very smooth.

The first hour went fast, and in the second hour I felt a bit draggy. Weather was perfect, cool skies, light wind (possibly a tailwind as forecast), overcast in the morning and sunny in the afternoon.

The third hour on Sunday was the first time I felt really comfortable on the bike, and I think I made some good time then. I certainly enjoyed the ride.

At the destination on Lake Erie, staff was presenting completion momentos, there were changing tents for getting out of the bike kit and into street clothes, trucks were waiting for the bikes and busses were waiting for the cyclists. And there was ice cream (++)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

MS150, Seneca Valley to Allegheny College

6/8/2015 82m MS150-1

Joined a friend's team on the MS150, a very nice group of people. Somebody (not sure who) passed around a note with advice about preparing for the ride, I thought I'd copy it here --

  • Set up your bike a few days ahead of the event, and then don't tinker with it.
  • The big ride is the wrong time to experiment with new food, gels, or drinks.
  • Sunscreen and chamois cream on day one will make for a better day two.
  • Abstain from riding and drinking alcohol the day before the ride.
  • Abstain from all sexual activity (alone or with a partner) for 96 hours before the ride.
  • You control the space between you and the cyclist ahead of you.
  • On the ride: eat before your hungry, drink before your thirsty.
Unfortunately, they forget to include this advice which I needed to hear:
  • Refrain from falling off your bike the day before the MS150, destroying your shifter levers and giving yourself two big ouchies.

We massed up very early, 0530 at Seneca Valley High School, and ended up starting the ride around 0730. It was a very nice course - well marked, lots of directors standing at the major turns, good roads. There were some major hills but nothing epic.

I felt off the first hour, I pressed my little-used road bike into service because I'd smashed up the Surly LHT on Friday, and I wasn't quite in my groove on this bike.

The rest stops and water stops were well placed, well stocked, and well staffed. Couldn't ask for more, this was a really well run event. We did 82 miles, got to Allegheny College around 4pm, found our places in a dorm suite, got showered and enjoyed a great meal in the dining hall and there was beer in the beer garden.

I think one of the key things that made this a great day (besides the awesome team organization) was the oh-dark-hundred muster and startup, which left us with all sort of leisure at the end of the day.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Custom Helmets, WYSIWYG, a new Bike Trail Bakery

6/07/13 28m
Today's forecast was for rain but the actual conditions were quite nice, so in a hurried mishmash of coordination I converged in town with S and R.

Started at the Bastille with S, rode to Point State Park where the TRAF (Three Rivers Arts Festival) is just getting underway. Saw a truly awesome display of custom, handpainted bicycle helmets by Julie of Pittsburgh-based Ferocious Ostrich. These were really nice work.

I'm going to call Julie, I think I want a high-viz Peter Max sort of design.

Rode the Jail Trail (saw Mikhail!) to the Hot Metal Bridge, rode over to Thick Bikes to meet R. Rode the SouthSide Trail past Keystone Metals over to Sandcastle, saw Mikhail again, it was like he'd done a Superman and orbitted the globe.

I stopped paying attention while chatting, hooked my handlebars in the fence and did a major BikeFail onto the new trail segment. I think I demonstrated WYSIWYG 2.0, which these days for cyclists means Where You Stare is Where You Go. This one left a mark. I broke my left-side bar-end shifter, possibly by impaling my leg with it, and smacked my wrist a bit.

Continued into Homestead and tried the Blue Bonnet Bakery, which was recommended to us by Sara P. Wow wow wow, this is a great old-school bakery, reasonably priced, an excellent bike trip destination.

Departed and rode north. Signs of preparation for next week's "Point Made" celebration are all around, cleaning and landscaping and signage Oh My. Took the Ft. Pitt Bridge into Point State Park, and it's just like flypaper with the Arts Festival going on, it just goes slowly right now.

Really a great ride.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Waffalonia Ride

6/05/2012 23m
A late start at 5pm because of: work. Argghhh.

Started at the Bastille, met Yale Cohen riding outside the Casino, and I didn't know that he rode north of the Allegheny River. rode to REI-Southside with S, made a return. Crossed the Hot Metal Bridge and rode up the Junction Hollow Trail to Oakland. Stopped in Steel City Bikes for a magnet for my cadence sensor which worked really well, and now I've got my cadence mojo back and it feels so good.

Stopped at Schenley Quad, Met HelenS from the BikePgh forum. Visited the Waffalonia stand for some ice cream/strawberry waffles, that was most excellent. Descended down to 2nd Avenue, saw Stef-B with a remarkable headlight at Swinburne Street. Crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, saw Mikhael riding at SouthSide works.

It was such a nice evening - the humidity had broken and there was a cool breeze, but we were losing the light so we headed back toward the cars. S crushed another cyclist climbing the Ft. Duquesne bridge and left him whimpering. It had to be done.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Wickes-Wuz to McDonald Trestle

6/4/2013 26m
Rode the Montour Trail for the first time in quite a while today. Saw a bunch of friends for lunch at the Robinson Olive Garden, then I joined S and R for a ride.

We started where Wickes used to be and rode west, through the Enlow Tunnel and past the now-shuttered Enlow Station (the scene of some excellent ice cream), then past the fracking processing facilities at MP12 and out to the McDonald Trestle. Reversed and rode back.

The trail conditions were excellent. This section of the trail is in such an undeveloped area, there's no coffee shops, no bistros, no creperies. I need crepes and wifi!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bring your Bike to Pittsburgh's Rainbow Ride Friday June 14th


Pittsburgh has a cycling group called Flock of Cycles that arose as a different set of answers to the bicycle streets/safety/access issues. The Flock rides are calm, rule-observing, law-abiding, and focus on cordial co-existence. Also, they're fun and generally involve music.

On Friday June 14, bring your bike and join Flock of Cycles and the LGBTQ community for Rainbow Ride.

From the Flock website:

We’ll meet at 6pm at Dippy the Dinosaur (on Forbes Ave in Oakland, in front of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, across from the Cathedral of Learning).

The ride will depart at 6:30pm and will be 8-10 miles with a surprise destination. Fun guaranteed!
Helmets, lights, and adherence to traffic laws will be required.
Please invite your friends! Dress in your pride best!
Flock rides stop at all stop signs and red lights, and helmets and lights are required.

From the Facebook page: