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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fredded Bliss: Ankle Band Trouser Chain Thingy

8/31/2013 26m 24#
Commuted to work again.

At the end of the day, got a call from my friend MC who I've needed to see for a while: could I meet for coffee at Starbux in a half-hour? Great!

Not wanting to change into bike-shorts (there's the damned bike shorts theme again), I left my long-pants on and actually dug out the trouser-ankle-band which I've had for years and years and never had an occasion to use. Reveling in my now-consummated Fred-dom, I pedalled over to Starbux to meet my friend, secure in the knowledge that my trou would not interfere with my chain, or vice-versa.

Spent an hour then rode home. A great visit and a great ride.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Six Words on Commuting to Work in Bike Shorts

7/30/2013 15m 245#
Commuted to work by bike today. Took a fairly direct route there which involved an Interstate across the Ohio, a transition of dubious authoritization (but in the best of all possible worlds, encountered my friend CZ while riding across so there's that).

The transition into the workplace was good. Coming out of the job at the end of the day, I thought I had escaped cleanly but some very good-natured, minor amusement was had by a few (lady) colleagues who were amused at the bike shorts. Six words: Hey my eyes are up here.

Rode home via a more circuitious route. In the morning I just wanted to get there, and in the afternoon I had time to indulge in the ride. (Also on the afternoon ride I got to say hello to Dave Sh., which was cool).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Utility Commute

7/29/2013 11m 245#
A utility ride today. After work(!) I dropped the car off at a garage, then rode home. 11 miles, very nice ride.

I found I came home from work in a much better state of mind on the bike rather than in the car.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Marek Dittmann, Peripatetic Pedaler from Toruń, Poland

7/28/2013 36m 250#
Started off without much of a gameplan. Departed the neighborhood and rode to Moon Starbucks. Happily surprised to see some former colleagues there.

Departed and rode to the Sewickley Bridge, stopped to take a photo of the scene of last week's cyclist fatality. There was a car from 51-North waiting in the queue to turn right onto the Sewickley Bridge, and I was surprised when the driver rolled down the window and said, "We're really sorry about that." I thought that was really a gracious and unexpected effort on their part and I really appreciated it.

Continued to Sewickley. I really like the ride along Beaver Street in Sewickley (stopped at a kid's lemonade stand, 50-cent cupcakes FTW) and then Beaver Road in Edgeworth (and no, I'm not trying to SEO-optimize for puerile keywords) which flows into Merchant Street in Ambridge. Continued north on Route 65, stopped at the Baden Sheetz for some icewater.

Came out of the Sheetz and was surprised to see a fully-louded cyclist ahead, apparently travelling with a white-red flag aloft. I was able to catch up to him and I got to meet Marek Dittmann from Toruń, Poland. We rode along and stopped at Punk's Ice Cream for a moment.

Marek speaks Polish and German and I speak English so we didn't get very far in our conversations, but we pantomined and worked out way through a review of his bike and gear. He loves his Garmin GPS and showed me his route; he's going to St. Louis, Kansas City, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

Then he's going to Los Angeles, Mexico, Panama, and eventually Argentina before he gets on a plane to go back home. Wow. wow wow wow wow wow.

Here's a photo of him where we parted ways at the East Rochester - Monaca bridge. He's doing about 140kms/day. Marek is the second cyclist I've met this year, that's my age, that's riding intercontinental. Just wow.

36 miles of a very interesting ride.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Newb Rider Obligatory Wound Porn

7/27 5m #245
Kind of a short, goat-rope ride that turned out OK.

Started with three non-proficient riders on the Montour Trail at TandemConnection, rode toward FarmHouseCoffee. At the descent to the Valley Brook Road at-grade crossing, there's a sign that says "Walk Your Bike".

Oh no, I did not set a good example for my three fledglings - no, I just slowed down and descended. Until I heard that bike clatter and the impact-grunt. Not a life-threatening wound but a bit of a gash that would take four stitches to close. Tried to take a megapixel zoomed-in picture of the wound, got this:

And I'm not exactly sure of what's going on in that picture, but there is a need for obligatory wound porn.

I left them to go back and get the vehicle, and of course the skies opened with an unexpected downpour. Now my charges are injured, stranded, and soaked. If I were giving myself Amazon-type feedback as a ride leader it would be pretty harsh.

Fortunately, the bike is OK, and I think they'll ride again. Not the outing we had planned. My takeaway is: you really do need to continually think about taking care of low-time riders.

Friday, July 26, 2013

JetPacks and HOV Lanes

7/26/2013 25m
Great ride today. Started after work at about 5pm on the NorthSide, which always makes me mindful that Friday evening is the peak time of week for cyclist fatalities.

Rode along the Jail Trail and saw somebody flying a JetPack on the opposite shore at Riverfront Park. That was very cool, and I was surprised to see they were towing a small boat or raft behind them.

Crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, stopped at REI and picked up some chain lube. Applied the lube and boy did my chain sound happier. Rode west to Riverfront Park and found a gentleman overseeing the removal of the JetPack from the water.

He was very busy but I have an unusually gifted sense of entitlement, so I asked him - Hey I haven't seen a JetPack since the 1964 World's Fair, what's going on? Very nice man, he explained that this version (the JetLev R200) operates on a stream of high-pressure water for vertical thrust. The boat behind the JetPack operator (pilot?) contains a motor that pumps high-pressure water along a pretty substantial hose, up to the JetPack.

Instead of the JetPack pulling the boat, which was my perception, the boat is pushing the JetLev operator up. I imagine the engine-out procedure is (1)ohshit, (2) hey I'm in the water. Very cool to see, and they were very cordial in explaining it. Quite an operation, they had three or four people on JetSki's protecting the JetLev's footprint.

Rode around to Ft. Pitt Bridge, then the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, watched the Triathlon folks picking up their packets. Climbed up Observatory Hill and rode around to Perry Traditional Academy, and a cyclist may (or may not) have made a safety check on the closed-to-cars HOV highway they're going to use for the triathlons this weekend. They may (or may not) have looked like this:

You're presented with some funny choices at the southern end of the HOV lanes. Do I want 579, or 279, or 376?

Rode around to the casino, back to the car. JetPacks and HOV lanes, great ride. 25 miles.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Two Forts at the Point; Closed Sidewalks

7/24/2013 22m 245#
Today I learned that Point State Park presents the outlines of two forts: Ft. Duquesne and Ft. Pitt. I don't know why I never knew that; I just didn't.

Maybe it's like, people from NYC never go up on top of the Empire State Building, only out-of-towners do.

Today was a wonderfully cool day, temperature-wise, it was about 65 when I started riding at 1130. Rode from the Bastille to the Jail Trail, and up Panther Hollow to Fifth Avenue. Rode over to check Sir Samelot and Gist Street, nothing new going on. Crossed the Birmingham Bridge to South Side, and decided to take advantage of the cool temps by climbing up 18th Street.

Climbed 18th Street, went to Grandview Park which is IMO the best view of Pittsburgh.

Rode along Grandview Avenue and for the first time, I could clearly see the outline of one fort at the Point inside of the parkway, and another larger fort outside of the parkway.

From Wikipedia:

From Google-Maps:

And I am like "d'oh!". Descended down to the West End Circle. Faced a choice: take a lane on the West End Bridge or take the sidewalk (which presents a portage on the North Side down a very lengthy double staircase)? We chose to take the lane, which was confirmed when we saw that the sidewalk on the bridge was blocked by a large sign, completely crossing the walkway.

The sign was covered with a black tarp. It's probably not needed until next week or later, but Somebody thought it was OK to close the sidewalk for a week or more until that sign is needed, because eventually there will need to be a message presented to the Cars, and Cars and important. In the meantime, you Walkers and Cyclists, you People, you just nevermind.

Same thing is happening on the sidewalk off the Ft. Pitt bridge on 51 North; major sign blocking the sidewalk, forcing cyclists into the streets. This sign isn't needed yet either, and is also covered in a black tarp. People are being inconvenienced now because PennDot wants to tell the Cars something in a few weeks. Odiocy. Glad I'm not a militant.

The transition off the West End Bridge around to the Casino and the Chateau Trail was excellent, and the ride to the Bastille was great. 22 miles, a lot of climbing on a clear, cool day. Perfect. 22 miles

Monday, July 22, 2013

Braddock Eggs with Mushrooms, Feta, Red Peppers, and Affirmations

7/22/2013 248# 48m
Started at the Bastille at 0615ish at 70F with S.

We road across the Ft. Duquesne Bridge and the Ft. Pitt Bridge intending to go the the Riverton Bridge, on the trail between Duquesne PA and McKeesport. The ride along SouthSide and Sandcastle was great, we were some of the first cyclists out in the morning.

At the Riverton Bridge we decided to go a bit further and see the new trail-alley that replaces the trail-sidewalk in McKeesport, it's a complete improvement and takes you right down to McKee's Marina. While we were there we took the right turn and rode out to the confluence of the Yough and Mon Rivers. Someday, when they can work out clearance with the USX rail lines, you can see how the trail will continue around this peice of property and obviate the need for the alley trail. But for the next x years, the alley-trail is so much better than what we had before.

Reversed, exited at the Waterfront, and rode over to Braddock to have breakfast at the Braddock Community Cafe. Today I had eggs with mushrooms, feta cheese, and red peppers in an organic, localvore breakfast sandwich and it was completely excellent. I love riding over there for breakfast.

Braddock always seems to have something new in the way of street art, and we've been seeing new Zen-affirmational street signs. Today we noticed these:


We came out of Braddock and got back on the trail westbound. At Sandcastle we met a foursome of out-of-town cyclists who seemed a bit displaced; they were trying to find the eagle's nest, so we helped them identify it. It is hard to see with all the leaves on the trees.

We continued north, rode through Station Square and it started to rain right about that. It was a nice rain, a gentle shower and it cooled things off. Back to the cars and 45 miles on the clock, a perfect morning's ride.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

West End Overlook and Arty Party Mural

7/21/13 249# 18m
Started at the Bastille at 06ish with S.

Our goal was the West End Overlook, which is a place I've never been. Rather than schlepp the bikes up staircases and portage the West End Bridge, we chose to go long and ride across the Ft. Duquesne and Ft Pitt bridges, and get a bit more ride in before we started climbing.

Although I supposed the climb would be on a par with climbing 18th Street and working up to GrandView Park, this was not as bad. Certainly a significant bit of work, but nothing that would make you question your decisions.

Very nice view from on top. It shows the city from a different angle than you usually see presented. It really shows the NorthSide (and old Allegheny City) well.

Coming down the hill we encountered this mural on a wall:

I've seen this mural on the internet and have been unable to find it in the real world, it was serendipitous to ride across it today. This is Gary Pletsch's Arty Party mural, at Marlow Street and Gibson St, by Linzy Miggantz and Alison Zapata in 2008.

I was very happy to find this and it's remarkable to still be finding murals in Pittsburgh.

Continued down to the West End Circle, rode southeast to the Hot Metal Bridge, then took the Jail Trail back to the Fort Duquesne bridge. A very nice ride, 18 miles.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flock July Party and Fiks Reflective Review

7/19/2013 #250 27m
This was a Flock of Cycles Pittsburgh Bike Party day, but when I left work(!) it was 92 and I was brain-drained (which is a good thing, I got to spend the day solving difficult puzzles and thinking about novel things) and I so felt the need for a nap. So I took a 15-minute nap which put me at risk for missing the Flock Ride but I headed out and I'm so glad I did.

I left the NorthSide Bastille at 5.45 to make the ride start at 6.30 at Dippy in Oakland. Rather than take the Jail Trail and then climb up Junction Hollow, I rode Forbes Avenue all the way out from downtown which was a nice ride. It was quite warm but it was great to be on the bike, and I was taking one of my new Fiks-Reflective shirts out for a first ride and it was really quite comfortable in the heat and humidity.

I got to Dippy the Dinosaur just a few minutes before the ride commenced, glad for the break because I had pushed hard to make it on time. I haven't been to a Flock ride in a few months and it was nice to see those folks again along with new faces. There were probably 40 riders.

We started out through Schenley Park which is closed for the Vintage Gran Prix races but they let us pass through the corner of the park, which was very nice of them. I love riding with this group, I don't know how to phrase it other than "they do not suck" and they're very copacetic and I love riding with the boom-box playing at the front of the group. They play music I wouldn't hear otherwise.

The ride route looked like this:

Once we were underway it started raining, not a downpour but a light rain that broke the heat and it was really very pleasant. All the riders turned their lights on (these cyclists come well equipped) and just kept on going, it's nice to see that.

The ride stopped at the East End Food Coop so people could pick up some food. There was some kind of an artsy soiree across the street, and people started spilling out and taking pictures of all the cyclists. Then the Flock rode over to Westinghouse Park for a picnic. I departed to make my way back to the car, with a trip ahead of me to get home.

The ride across town was half-twilight, half-dark but very nice. 27 miles. At the end I took a flash photo of my Fiks reflective shirt to see how light bounces off it, I was very impressed. (I also found it a very cool and dry shirt on a hot, humid, and drizzly ride.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Destination Breakfast: Braddock Cafe for Four

7/16/2013 44m
Today we assembled a foursome for the ride - myself, S, R, and SK - which was tremendous. We mustered at the Bastille (Western Penitentiary) at 0600 and pushed off around 0615. We rode across the Ft. Duquesne and the Ft. Pitt Bridges, through SouthSide, and stopped at Caribou Coffee at South Side Works for shots-in-the-dark to truly wake us up.

Continued south along the trail, and departed the trail at the south end of the Waterfront to join 837 to the Rankin Bridge, then took the sidewalk over to Braddock. Our timing was too good, we made it to the front door of the Braddock Community Cafe a few moments before they opened for breakfast so we manuevered up the street to see the Brick Woman.

When the Cafe opened we were very pleasantly surprised. The last time we were in there, they had T-shirts for sale but we didn't buy any because they didn't have any in bright colors; make some in orange, we said, and we'd buy some. Today they had them in orange so we bought some:

We all had breakfast sandwiches which were wonderful. For the four of us, breakfast sandwiches and drinks came to $15 which is a great value for locally sourced, organic made to order food. I love riding out to the Braddock Cafe for breakfast or lunch, it's my favorite destination ride out of downtown Pittsburgh.

Departing Braddock we noticed a series of new aspirational/ affirming/ and possibly light-hearted street signs on Braddock Avenue:

Departed Braddock, back across the Rankin Bridge, stopped at the Blue Bonnet bakery in Homestead for some pastries, then continued back to the start. Took the Hot Metal Bridge and the Jail Trail for a variation on the theme. Discovered that SK had not seen Point State Park so we took a loop through there, and ended up chilling:

Just a fine ride, off the bikes by 1100 before it could get too hot, 44 miles. Good chow and good friends. wow.

Monday, July 15, 2013

DNF Runaway Truck Ramp

7/15/2013 8m
Today was reported to be a very hot day, so S and I met quite early on the Montour Trail at Boggs (MP11).

There had been quite a bit of rain a few days before and we weren't certain what we'd encounter. There were signs of some major washouts on the packed limestone surface but also signs of a lot of repair efforts. Unfortunately, the repairs were still in progress and there were several sections where you'd encounter wide areas of deep, soft sand - it was like riding into a runway truck sandpile on the highway.

After doing that for a while it seemed like Type 3 Fun, so we reversed and decided that Today Was Not That Day, choosing to save the time for another ride. DNF (did not finish)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday at Pamela's

Sun 7/14/2013 14m
A very pleasant Sunday ride with K. Started at the Bastille and rode around the North Side to Millvale. Stopped at Pamela's for strawberry crepes and coffee, I think we got there just moments before everybody else in the world did. Then we rode back to the car, a nice straightforward ride.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Point of View Park

13/07/13 15m
Not a high-mileage day but a high-value day, with a lot of climbing and a tremendous view.

Departed the Bastille, crossed the Ft. Duquesne and the Ft. Pitt bridges, and climbed up 18th Street on the South Side. That's just a lot of work, a sustained climb. Once we got to the top we continued to Grand View Park which had a yoga class in progress.

Rode around Mount Washington, stopped at Point Of View Park for this photo:

Descended down to the West End Circle, crossed the West End Bridge, back to the Bastille. A great morning ride.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Garfield-Bloomfield Gateway and Fiks Dot-X Reflective Bike Shirt

7/12/13 29m
This was a great day for a ride. We stopped at 5149 Penn and 5150 Penn to see The Gateway.

You may not see them at first, but there are identical sculptures on either side of Penn Avenue, forming a symbolic bridge (The Gateway) between the Bloomfield side of the street and the Garfield side of the street.

Penn and North EvalinePenn and South Evaline

Then we continued east to Fiks Reflective to pick up some reflective shirts. I have a lot of high-visibility wicking-fabric bicycling shirts, but no reflective wicking shirts and it was time to correct that. I got three reflective bike shirts from Fiks Reflective. This is their shop photo of their Dot-X reflective bike t-shirt

fiks Dot-X reflective bicycle t-short, bike tee-shirt

fiks bicycle reflective tshirt, bike tee-shirt nightAnd this is my high-quality bathroom shower, smartphone camera with auto-flash picture showing how the reflective pattern jumps out.

I broke this in on a really hot day and the short was very comfortable, the shirt breathed and the moisture moved, and it lived up to the high-end expectations. I'm really enjoying this shirt.

We returned and descended through the Allegheny Cemetery which is always a tranquil transition, and today there was water flowing in a fountain I'd never noticed before:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Husband of the Year 2013

7/7/13 #249 29miles
Started early, riding with S, trying to ride through some mildly bike-unfriendly segments early on a Sunday morning. (Mostly Rt 19 in the North Hills)

Rode from the Bastille up to Route19 via Woods Run Road and Mairdale Ave, and that was a really effective way to wake up. Serendipitously encountered this mural on the side of the West View borough building.

Navigated around a bit and arrived at Center Avenue Slice to see the West View Park mural:

Continued north and got a photo that's been languishing on our "to-do" list for too long, at 1001 Perry Highway.

I was feeling a major tug to reverse course and descend via the I279 HOV lane, so S. wisely counseled another route and we descended into Millvale. Saw this bench at the bus stop at Pamela's Pancakes:

Millvale is about to open a Community Library, which is exciting (all the more because it's asynchronous with the zeitgeist) and the entrance is guarded by one of James Simon's creatures. This dog is named Paige. (books, page, Paige)

A few months ago we had the chance to walk around inside the space, and there's functional ironwork bracing the ceiling beams from Red Star Foundry and there's some remarkable iron artwork in there.

Rode around the north side, crossed the 16th Street McCoullough Bridge, stopped at Market Square Starbucks for restrooms and a snack: a cold doubleshot and a blueberry scone.

Rode south along the Jail Trail, crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, rode northwest to Station Square. As you come out of the northern end of Station Square, the sidewalk teardrops up to the Ft Pitt bridge but there's been a lot of overgrown bushes and trees and it's been pretty suboptimal up there.

Today at the top of the ramp, between the Incline Overpass and the bridge, we saw that the bushes and trees had all been trimmed, and at the far end we saw a man working on the foliage. We stopped and said hello, he was working with a small one-hand pruning scissors, really something the size of a pair of pliers. He had done a tremendous amount of work with that tiny clipping tool.

We stopped and thanked him for his efforts, and once he was comfortable that he wasn't getting into trouble for trimming the public's bushes, he explained that this week his wife is starting a new job that will involve her walking along that sidewalk, and he was out there on Sunday morning trimming the foliage so she wouldn't have to deal with the jungle. He left one bush relatively untrimmed because he said it was unusual and shouldn't be touched. Wow wow wow.

Husband of the Year. Probably Citizen of the Year.

29 miles before most of the city woke up.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Boston to West Newton

7/6/13 29m
Events took me to North Huntingdon in the afternoon, so I brought the bike along and later drove across the Versailles bridge to the Boston PA trailhead.

Rode south from Boston. The white limestone waterfall was actively flowing. A little further south the red iron waterfall was even more active, to the point that the area around the waterfall was significantly cooler than the rest of the universe.

Stopped at West Newton Station, home of the best rest rooms on the GAP (as I've been told), and checked the bike shop to see what's going on.

Reversed course and stopped at Sutersville to investigate the Yough Twister soft-serve emporium and also the new Driscoll and Sons Cafe, which was much much nicer than I expected a trailside restaurant to be. This time around, I choose the soft-serve which was very good.

Photographed this trailhead area in Buena Vista, they've really made improvements since the last time I was here:

A very nice ride on a warm day, 29 miles.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Braddock Community Cafe Bike Breakfast

7/5/13 39m
Started very early, met S at the Bastille at 0615 and underway soon thereafter.

Rode around the northside on the river and there was a tremendous amount of trash and debris on the concrete, really looked like a tornado or a disaster scene. I guess that's what the morning after the July 4th fireworks looks like, but I was amazed at how much trash people dropped and left behind.

Stopped at the outer field at Point State Park to check the progress on the EnviroMural by MLK.

It's been a while since we had breakfast at the Braddock Community Cafe so we set our course that way. It's really a very easy ride from downtown now; bike trail through Sandcastle and the Waterfront, depart the trail at the south exit from the Waterfront, watch the drain grates on 837, ride across the Rankin Bridge, and a short ride down Braddock Avenue.

Rolling in to Braddock we saw a new mural, still a work in progress, by Anthony Purcell. There's an InstaGram photo of the mural at an earlier point.

This was a mural we hadn't seen before:

We were sorry to see a "BSOD" where we expected to see a hospital mural by Karen Bognar Khan. In some ways, her mural was the last hospital in Braddock.

The breakfast sandwiches were outstanding - locally sourced, organic, much healthier than my usual habits. We departed Braddock and joined the GAP southeast-bound, and reversed at the Phantom's Revenge. Departed the trail in Homestead for the Blue Bonnet Bakery, totally awesome, and after an immediate snack we had some pastries to bring to our meeting.

Coming back across the Waterfront Mall-In-The-Moat™ we encountered six or seven cyclists who'd lost track of the trail and were milling about in a holding pattern. We took them down to the Mitchell Seafood Market and set them on their way. One of them was riding a Worksman Urban Commuter Cruiser, first time I've ever seen a Worksman bike outside of an airplane hangar. It looked really nice.

We stopped in Uptown to meet James Simon, a remarkable local artist, in order to get some info about his murals and public art works. On a shelf he has a series of dog figures, but the faces are of him and his friends. Pretty cool. It was a treat to get to spend an hour with him, he was very generous with his time. We were pleased to hear that his "Welcome to Troy Hill" sculpture will probably be unveiled soon.

We rode up into the Hill District to Bedford and Erin Streets to find a mural we'd been tipped to by our friend Stu. Don't know much about it yet, but notably it includes the old Civic Arena.

Back in Point State Park, the majority of the trash and debris was picked up. The EnviroMural was gone, and it was really disappointing to see the sand sculpture of Lewis and Clark being demolished, probably only 30 hours after it was finished. I don't know why they didn't let people see it and enjoy it for a week or so, it seems like a rather futile effort and investment.

Coming back across to the North Side, this was a nice view of downtown and the flowers and the fountain: