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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

SQL double entendre, Betty Foy Rivendell Mixte, and it's San Andreas' Fault

8/31/2013 43m
Today's ride was brought to me by the remarkable regional bike map makers of KrebsCycleProducts.com. Three words: awesome. thank you. The map I bought from a LBS shows good bike roads, trails, classification of steep hills, and all sorts of local info embedded in the map. Really sweet.

This was my second day with the Rivendell Betty Foy mixte and I really like this bike. Primarily, I love the mount/dismount of the mixte. The frame geometry is excellent, very comfortable. I love the handlebars which are much bigger than what I have on my bike (these are just a teeny bit bigger than my shoulders) and they really open up the chest and it's a great ride. There's more in the details of what I like about the Betty Foy, but more on that later.

The first leg was Redwood City via SQL to SFO. SQL is the three-letter airport identifier for the Santa Clara Airport, and of course it's also a geek code acronym for Structured Query Language so in this part of the world that's like hipster-ironic.

You might think, Nah that's not ironic. But today when the bike trail wound through the Oracle campus, I saw that the signs warning you of an approaching pedestrian crosswalk looked like this - so I'm thinking, woah, SQL.(airport/acronym) = geek double entendre.

This leg of the ride was along the west shore of San Francisco Bay. A lot of bike trails, some road riding, with the wind definitively out of the north.


This is the obligatory multi-modal retired-air-traffic-controller photo of SQL Tower.


Conditions on this ride were warm and the environment was marine-estuary-littoral. Boats and marinas (and airplanes) and really nice parks interrupted by really pragmatic warehouses and the standard waterfront buildings, including the local women's prison which I kind of got lost at and that was a funny place to be asking directions dressed like a cyclist.


This was a bike trail bridge that I passed later on, I haven't seen one of these before:

Ended up across a marsh from the San Francisco Airport, where it seems like they're building a new ATC Tower, pretty close to the existing one. (If you're keeping score, this is my second bike-tower pic of the day).

Stopped and took a brief bike-nap while 747s and such were landing. That was pretty cool. #BikeNap

Decided to take a different way back. What I meant to do was to go inland, climb to the top of the ridgeline, and then ride on Canada Road (which had been recommended to me, and they pronounce it Can-yada here).

They have hills here. When they name streets "Hillcrest", they know what they're doing. That was an arduous climb, and I really missed my 20-tooth granny on my LHT's triple-chainring (the Betty Foy I'm riding has a double chainring). This is how steep it was: the front wheel came off the road three times. I wanted to cry but it was so pretty I just couldn't.

So I climbed up to the top of the ridgeline, and after doing my beached-whale imitation and gasping for breath I started riding on a trail that parallels the ridge. The trail runs along San Andreas Lake, and there's a marker identifying the San Andreas Fault that's underneath. They calculate that during the great SF earthquake, the position of the fault moved 9 feet west relative to the rest of the planet.

The ride up on top of the ridge was in a completely different environment from the ride down at the bay. A local rider told me that San Franciscans consider that they live in "microclimates" and that there are, for instance, huge temperature variations from one side of town to the other, or from the ocean side to the bay side. This place was deep blue water (looked cold), big dark green trees, and very rugged hills. No airplanes, cars, or anything with an engine in sight.

Although I planned to ride along the ridgeline for quite a while, a bridge was out. The puboished detour was to ride down to pretty much the bottom, ride south, and then ride back up to the top. Once I pointed the bike downhill there was no way I was going to ride back up that hill; I'm saving that treat for another day.

Finally, on the way home through the business districts of several towns I stopped at Nikkos Mexican Grill, which was excellent.

I've long held that "any day you can see the water is a good day", and today I got to see the SF Bay, the San Andreas Lake, and also the Crystal Springs Reservoir. I got to see two Towers and also a new one in the making, and I got to eat really good food on a bright sunny day. #LivingTheDream.

Rivendell's Betty Foy Mixte (aka Yves Gomez) If you can't be with the bike you ride, ride the one you're with

8/30/2013 22m
I've been off the bike for eight days because I've been traveling, but today I was treated to the loan of a Rivendell Betty Foy bicycle, which is of the mixte design family.

I got to visit the Rivendell facility in Walnut Creek, CA. It's a very cool place and the people there are very impressive: bright, focused, but not intent on selling the bike. If you want one they'll sell it to you, but they're not salesfolks on commission. Very cool vibe.

The Rivendell bike-fit philosophy is driven by a measurement called the PBH (pubic bone height). They have a really high-tech platform that you stand on for optimal alignment, and then they measure your PBH:

This is such a nice looking bike, which is true of all the Rivendells. The great attraction of the mixte for me is that as I get even older (I do qualify for a lot of restaurant discounts as it it) I suspect it's going to become less fun to hitch a leg over the seat, rear rack, and trunk bag. I think a mixte might be the way to go.

The mixte isn't quite as easy-access as the classic step-through but the mixte does seem to bring a stronger geometry to the table. Anyway, this is the bike I road today, in front of Palo Alto High School:

I rode it 22 miles, from Redwood City to the former NAS Moffett (KNUQ). This is a really nice riding bicycle. I'm enjoying the wider (comfy) tires (which is consistent with the Rivendell philosophy) and I'm really enjoying the big handlebars.

It was really nice to ride again after eight days without.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pittsburgh: Pass (Bike/People) With Care Campaign


New billboard in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood, at Doughboy Square:

This is truly awesome. Pittsburgh has had a growth spurt of bicycling and growth pains in the driver-cyclist relationship which have, at their most severe, manifested themselves in fatalities and hit-and-runs. Fugly.

The key to Pittsburgh's consciousness is black-and-gold, one side says Steelers, one side says Pirates, and somehow the other side says Penguins. A billboard with Steeler Antonio Brown, who is a real-life bike commuter, is going to go a huge way in breaking the ice. What driver wants to be the guy who hurts the Steelers' chances?

Other images are also going up in this campaign. This are several bus stop signs:

I know that the priest is Father Doug Boyd, from St. Maria Goretti parish in Bloomfield/Garfield. So these are real Pittsburgh cyclists, not stock-image dropins.

This is really awesome.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

SWAT Boat Training and Klavon's Privacy Booths

8/20/2013 15m
Started at the Millvale trailhead. Armed with four cans of road-marking chalk-based paint, which should wash away after about a month (I'm told), we set out to complete our recon of the North Side segments of this upcoming weekend's Pedal Pittsburgh.

Passing around the "NorthShore" we saw one of the local tourist boats up against the shore, which is not unusual but the police utility boats on either side were. Then we saw officers with weapons going up the ladders and practicing clearing the passageways and we realized it was a training day. It seemed like a great scenario (especially given the day's news from Decatur, GA).

We had stopped our review of the course the other day because the rain had made the street wet enough that the paint wasn't working, and so we started on Brighton Road. The places we'd painted before the rain started were still well marked, and the places we'd painted in light rain with good drainage were pretty well marked, but the places that had a bit more water on them really didn't keep their paint on, so we did a bit of re-painting and resumed the course.

We completed the North Side segments at the 16th Street Bridge and started to ride out to Lawrenceville. Stopped at Klavons to see how the new proprietors are doing and the answer is: they're doing real well. We had an egg cream and ice cream at the counter.

Saw an interesting retro-tech generational tableau; there was a family (grandpa, mother, three young girls). The girls were fascinated by these big boxes that Grandpa explained were "phone booths". They were so excited to get into the booths, close the door, observe how the lights come on and off (how does it know?). The girls had the grownups taking pictures of them in the phonebooths for Facebook so they could show their friends. The grownups, of course, were taking pictures using: their phones.

It struck me later that something those girls may have found novel about the phone booths was the provision of privacy, the notion that you could have a moment in a public space where you could speak without being overheard. (Thanks, Obama!)

Headed east, saw this fence at Charlotte St. and 35th Street:

This mural was co-located:

Rode out to BikePgh's new offices (very very nice space) to return the remaining can of paint and report on the hazards we'd seen. Back to Millvale and called it a ride at 15 miles.

Experienced the joy that is Route 28 at 6pm, can't believe people do this routinely.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ride Recon Yields Toynbee Tile

8/18/2013 37m
Had a new sort of riding experience today, got to assist S. in a recon ride of part of the course for the upcoming Pedal Pittsburgh ride. We rode from the starting point through the North Side, checking the course sheet and marking divots and potholes in the street, like this:

I think I pay attention to the road surface when I ride, but when you're riding to check the road surface you do see a lot more. Today's payoff was spotting a Toynbee Tile in the intersection of Smithfield Street and Forbes Avenue, wow wow wow.

This is a 2007 picture of the same tile.

I had known that there was such a thing in Pittsburgh but had never seen it or known of the location. According to the Post-Gazette, there are tiles at these locations:

  • Smithfield at Forbes (shown)
  • Smithfield at Oliver
  • Forbes near Ross
  • Liberty Avenue across from the Hilton (since paved over)
  • Seventh Avenue at Smithfield Street (since paved over)

The recon ride was interesting. It was fun to be given cans of spray-paint and permission to mark up the streets.

We knocked off after five hours because we were about out of paint and the precip was beginning to shift from pleasant drizzle to actual rain. I think the Pedal Pittsburgh course through the North Hills will be rather challenging, quite a bit of climbing.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Utility Cycling for 15, Please

8/17/2013 #240 15m
Tremendous weather. Just a short (excellent) ride, back and forth for some shopping. Saw a few friends doing the BikeFest 12 Bridges ride.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Idaho Imports, Murals, Chateau Cafe, Creped Crusader, Sunset Flock

8/17/2013 54m 239#
Started off early with an opportunity to escort two visiting cyclists onto the GAP Trail to kickoff their Pittsburgh to DC ride. Mark and Betty flew into Pittsburgh from Idaho, just because of the bike trail.

Let's identify some economic impact. Flew into the airport, took a cab, dinner at a restaurant, night in a hotel. Two rental bikes from a Pittsburgh provider. Not bad. It was a treat to ride out to Boston PA with them and get to point out the sights. They were very impressed at Pittsburgh and the trail environment.

Later I met S at the Bastille, and we rode to see a new mural (still in progress) at Bicycle Heaven:

Then we navigated over to the brand-new Chateau Cafe and Cakery at 1501 Preble Avenue. Very nice coffee shop, I had a cupcake and a double-espresso and they were excellent. Nice bike trail coffee shop.

We rode around Brighton Street and checked out the progress on the Trayvon Martin - Jordan Miles mural, still being developed.

Rode to Oakland, saw Squonk Opera preparing for a performance on Schenley Quad. Noticed that The Creped Crusader had set up shop at the Oakland Farmer's Market, had to order a crepe and it was just nom nom nom good. Follow them at @Creped_Crusader to see where they may next arise. Key tagline: Not the crepes this city deserves, but the crepes this city needs right now. (Post-Gazette article)

Joined the Flock of Cycles ride shaping up at Dippy. This month's ride is the BikeFest edition of Flock. It was a great ride, excellent tunes on both of the playlists we heard. Key "Seen" moment was when the ride crossed in front of Ambassador Rick Seyback while his car was at a stop sign. We ended entering Point State Park after sunset.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Riding the Unremarkable Dream

8/14/2013 239# 15m
An unremarkable day of riding; no great photos, no great murals, no piercing truths or character building climbs. It was just so damn fine.

Rode to work in a cool, breezy mist under cloudy skies. I thought I might be looking at rain-cape conditions but it wasn't quite epic enough to cross the threshold. Had an excellent ride to work.

Rode back from work on a sunny cool day. Amazing to have autumnal weather on August 14th. The sun is certainly setting earlier each day.

It is wonderful to ride to work.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Maxo Vanko Murals in Millvale

8/13/2013 30m #237
Started at the Bastille at 1430 with S.

Rode along the Jail Trail and Junction Hollow up to Oakland, looking for a few new murals we'd heard about. Along Semple Street we found our two targets, this one at 253-B Semple STreet:

And this one at 238-2 Semple Street:

After that we stopped at Schenley Quad at got something to eat at Conflict Kitchen (web) (wiki), which is a place I've wanted to try for a few years now. This was really good food.

Then we went back down to the river, over to South Side Works, stopped at REI for some shopping. Rode west to Ft.Pitt Bridge, Point State Park, Ft.Duquesne Bridge (which is just an awesome sort of bike-hopscotch) and met a BikeFest Group ride forming up near the Carnegie Science Center.

The group ride went to Millvale to see the murals of Maxo Vanka (wiki). While the ride itself was a bit of a mish-mash, the murals were amazing and way beyond my expectation. They're the most fantastic images I've ever seen in a church.

After the docent's tour of the murals we departed the group ride and made our way back to the trailhead. It was a very pleasant evening, quite cool and breezy. 30 miles.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Blanket Bombing Bridges Beats Bra's

8/12/2013 #235 36m
Great ride. Started off chilly, ended up quite warm.

Began at the Bastille at 0700 and met RedDan, who dropped off my new Pittsburgh Randonneurs long-sleeve wool jersey as he bike-commuted to work. Great guy. I'm very happy to have this, it's a hometown jersey and I think it looks sharp. Plus it's wool, and it's the time of year to be preparing with booties, wool, and headlights. Also, after 28 years it's time I owned something gold-and-black.

I was glad to have the sweater as it was kind of chilly as S. and I pushed off, but before we got to the Casino we'd shed the outer layers.

Saw the Monday morning version of the yarn-bombed Warhol bridge. The blankets will be donated for homeless shelters. I like this sort of bridge decoration and good-works a lot, some of the blankets were art works in their own right and it turned the bridge walkways into galleries. Plus, I like this a lot more than lining the Hot Metal Bridge with 4000 bra's for a month and then donating them to women's shelters.

Circled around and took a photo of the Warhol bridge from the downtown shore. Meanwhile, a homeless person's tent was pitched under the bridge and it seemed like both the topside and belowdecks were equally unaware of the other.

Rode east past Sandcastle. Very excited to see new bike racks at Costco in the Waterfront.

Rode out to Braddock for breakfast at the Braddock Cafe, but was disappointed to find them closed. Reversed and rode west. Departed the Jail Trail at Grant Street, cut across town and had a late breakfast at the world-famous KellyO's. Excellent meal.

Rode over to see the new mural (still in progress) at the Arts Tavern on Penn and 29th by the MLK folks:

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Arch: Sculpture Ride to Airport Midfield Terminal

8/11/2013 #238 45m
Great ride today on an impromptu route, a mild August afternoon.

A chain of unlikely but happy family events saw me starting my ride at Settler's Ridge near the center of the known universe (REI), so I rode across the mall-sprawl and intercepted the Montour Trail. West of I-376 and out to the edge of the construction zone the trail surface is quite rough, I imagine that's because of the heavy rains and some flooding over the summer.

At Enlow Station I departed the mainstream Montour Trail and rode north on the Airport Connector, which I haven't been on too often this year. It's a great ride on joint-use airport service roads. I was pleased to encounter a few other cyclists.

Took these pictures of the sculpture ARCH by Glenn Kaino on the upper concourse of the landside / midfield terminal building (or, the USAirways departure ticket counter area).

"Literally and metaphorically, ARCH is a bridge between Pittsburgh's past, present and future: from the immigrants constructing bridges to navigate the terrain, to the steel industry and the rise of industrialism, to the robotic industry and advanced technology that exist today fueling hope for the future. Arch is an iconic figure that embodies that narrative, a materialization of a concept and a starting point for new memories to be created from the fragments of old memories. (Glenn Kaino)"

ARCH was originally commissioned as part of the celebration of Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary, and was displayed downtown for six months. The piece was restored and put back on display in the terminal, which is really a tremendous space for it; high ceilings, great light, a big open space (that unfortunately isn't doing much else).

Departed the terminal and back to Enlow. Stopped in Enlow Station for a cold drink. I was very happy to see that they're open. Earlier in the year they had "for sale" signs up, and that led me to conclude they were closed - but Enlow Station is still open, hours as posted.

Rode to Groveton/ MP0, joined Route 51 North to home. Really a nice ride, drivers on the road were very courteous. 45 miles.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Child Safety on Bike Trails: Talking Bad Men, Not Helmets

8/10 31m 236#
A great weather day for August: cool, clear, light breeze.

Started with S at 0800 at the Bastille. Rode around the Casino and was surprised to see the American Queen steamboat moored up against the big bumpers on the North Side. Passengers were coming off onto golf carts with their baggage.

After the ride, I looked up the cost of travel on the A-Q. I figured, ride the boat to Cincinatti, bicycle back, ultimate multi-modal trip. The fares look like they run about $800/day double occupancy, and the quickest run from Pittsburgh to Cincinatti is 6 or 7 days, so that's not really cost-effective.

Crossed the 9th Street Bridge to take a look at the yarn-bombing in progress on the 7th Street (Warhol) Bridge). Was happy to run into Helen S. on a ride with some friends.


Continued to Point State Park, took a picture of two Long Haul carriers:

Also saw a rainbow in the fountain:

Rode along the Mon Whorf, portaged to the Smithfield Street bridge and the Jail Trail, and the Hot Metal Bridge. Stopped at REI where they had winter overshoes at half-price and found that irresistable, so I bought "rubbers" on a warm August day. I have needed some of these, and they were half-price.

Rode down along the Baldwin Borough Trail. We came upon a young cyclist, probably 5 or 6 years old, cute kid still using training wheels, just speeding along the trail all by his lonesome. Where's your parents? Daddy's back there somewhere walking, Mommy's up ahead somewhere on rollerblades, and I need help finding her.

That's the second time this year S and I have encountered a little kid, alone, racing forward on their bike with training wheels and the parent ostensibly watching them is "back there". I don't get why parents assume that trails are safe places; that kid could have been taken into the trees and all their lives would have been changed. Of course, you do see a variety of safety perspectives on display on a trail, but this is a bit outré. A modern Grimm's Fairy tale would take place on a Multi-Use Path.

After we waited long enough for the Daddy to catch up, we continued riding. We later saw the Mommy rollerblading, tried to tell her we met her son but she had the headphones in and was clueless. (Surprised? #Not).

Rode down to the Pump House, ran into Terry and his sweet new orange All-City bike; saw SWalford and a few other BikePgh/Flock folks who were participating the the BikeFest Church Ride. Looked like a good turnout. Reversed and rode west, stopped at SouthSideRiverFrontPlaza for snacks just as outdoor yoga class was breaking up.

Rode west through Station Square, took one more photo of the Big Boat (sorry, we just don't see too many large vessels in Pittsburgh):

Rode north to see the progress on the civil rights mural which is still receiving it's final touches. Was pleased that MLK director Kyle Holbrook drove up as we were taking photos. He identified the face on the bottom-right as Pittsburgh's own Bill Strickland and suggested that we might see Jordan Miles in the mural before it's finished. (Which I think would be awesome)

Back to the Bastille and the cars that were still there. 31 miles on a great day.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Running On Empty

8/06/2013 #237 20m
I just didn't feel like I had the mojo today. Way before I started to ride I felt empty and kind of under-powered. As soon as I started my legs felt heavy and leaden.

Instead of riding 30 as planned, I stopped at 10 miles out and sat in the shade of a tree in a park, drinking a cold Coke and eating a food bar and trying to collect myself. Reversed and rode back home.

Not a disaster. Didn't bonk, but flirted with it. Felt like I had overtrained, except I'm not training and I'm not riding long. Maybe a day off is in order.

OTOH, it was a beautiful day. I saw a few cyclists out on the local roads and that doesn't happen to often. Drivers were extremely courteous. A great day for a ride.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Trayvon Martin Mural

8/05/13 #239 30m
Got to ride with S. today. Started at the Bastille, rode around the Casino, then went out to North Charles and Ferris Street to see the MLK mural in progress about Trayvon Martin.

It's really very nicely done, and riding towards the location you can see it from blocks away on North Charles Street. Got to talk with Kemel Poindexter, the project leader, and several of the kids working on the site.

Rode down to the Federal Street railroad underpass in hopes of seeing some sign or explanation of the mathematical equation mural recently put on display and we were pleased to see a sign with a title, " = The Light At The End of The Tunnel". The primary artist, Casey Drogue, makes quantification of the unquantifiable her artform.

Went out to Millvale, but the new Community Library isn't open yet. They do have an impressive garden in the back. Returned around the Carnegie Science Center, noticed some new "share the road (trail)" signs.

It is not lost upon us that the intent of these signs is to get the bicyclists to play nice with the vulnerable pedestrians.

After riding 17miles in the morning, I had the opportunity in the afternoon to drop a car off at the garage and ride home for another 13 miles, producing 30 miles for the day.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


8/04/2013 38m 242#
Got to ride with an old friend and my bike teacher MC today.

Magnificent weather for August, about 73F. Rode from the Bastille down to the Riverton Bridge. Stopped at the Pump House for my first funnel cake on the way back, and then at the Waterfront Starbucks for caffeine.

M. is my word-maven and we discussed the proper formulation of a neologism for the emotional condition that arises when I'm riding the bike along at a nice speed and the cars on the adjacent roadway are stopped in gridlock. It would be some variation on schadenfreude. For now, I've settled on modalfreude, the satisfaction derived when your transpo modality is effective and another mode isn't.

There were a lot of small groups of five or six on the trails today, skewing toward the matron demographic. Saw a huge group of cyclists in Push America kit at the Bastille trailhead getting ready to push off on a group ride. 38 miles and man was I tired when it was done.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ghost Bike, Mystery Bike, Getting Nebby Wid It

8/3/2013 243# 26m

Drove past the Moon Township side of the Sewickley Bridge, observed this Ghost Bike memorial.

I like the way they did it. Just the first name and the years. Nobody can drive by, glomm the family name, call them up and be a nuisance. Good move. A lot of people will drive by that memorial every day. The position on the State Bike Route sign is all the more poignant.

Started to ride at the Bastille. Rode past the Casino, observed the Mystery Bike. The Mystery Bike is a mid-1970's road bike, labelled "ATALA". Decent steel frame. It was originally parked in a bike rack on the trail on July 11th with a knapsack and a helmet, and after a few days bicyclists started commenting on it in the local online forums. What's up with that bike?

Did the owner go into the casino, win big, emerge into a limo and never look back? Was he waylaid by robbers? Did the owner meet with foul play? Meet an old flame?

After a week, there were signs that people were rummaging through the knapsack. First the contents were obviously disturbed, then they were laid out on the sidewalk, then the knapsack was gone. When I rode by today, there were yellow signs on the bike which I took to be eviction notices, as in Hey move your bike or we're going to junk it. Too bad, it's a nice bike.

Rode down to South Side, stopped at Thick looking for a geegaw but they didn't have it. Continued south to the Waterfront, stopped at McDonalds to use their soda fountain for a water and ice refill. It started to rain fairly heavy so I invested in a cheeseburger and sucked their wifi for a bit.

Came back out and was very pleased to meet Marko near Costco, and we road together as far as the Hot Metal Bridge. There's a Pirates game this evening and the whole Station Square - Point - NorthSide complex was fairly crowded. As I rode around the Casino I was wondering about the Atala bike and wondered, who has authority over those bike racks, anyway, so I rode over to take a look.

This is something I love about Pittsburgh. Give them an indication that somebody might be in trouble, they'll get nebby and inquire about it.