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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coffeeneur 7of7 at North Park's Over The Bar (OTB) Cafe

10/31/2013 217# 2.2m
This has been several days off the bike for me, in spite of excellent weather (excuse approaching!) because I've been clearing my obligations in preparation for an upcoming trip.

One thing I would not skip is my final Coffeeneuring ride. Today was my seventh in the 2013 series, and S and I rode to the boat house at Pittsburgh's North Park to see the just-opened North Park Over-The-Bar Cafe. We're fans on their long standing SouthSide OTB Cafe, and eager to see what they've done in their new, second location.

from the lake:

from the patio:

So, coffeeneuring: it's all about the coffee (and tea).

I had my favorite dish from the Southside OTB: black bean cakes, which come with a small bit of salsa on top of them, accompanied with a sort of a pineapple chutney, some guacamole, and some sour cream.

OMG. Better than Southside! So was the latte! I was very pleased.

The view was tremendous. The food was excellent. Prices reasonable.

Plentiful bike racks out front. Did I mention that OTB Cafe is a Bronze Bike-Friendly Employer, and a Business Member of BikePgh?

We were like the second party seated and we had the patio to ourselves. By the time we left, there were a lot of people there. The seating is mostly outdoors. I do think that if they were crowded and a downpour surprised them, there'd be a lot of people with no place to go for shelter - but, such is life at a boat house, I suppose.

Coffeeneur 7 of 7 complete, Coffeeneur Challenge 2013 complete.

Monday, October 28, 2013

There and Back Again: Flatlands and Crab Cakes

  • Start in Baltimore, ride clockwise
  • each day is a different color
  • Bus route Teal-7 crosses the Susquehanna at Havre de Grace
  • to cross the Bay Bridge Tunnel to Va Beach, the CBBT Authority offers a shuttle service
  • Bus Route 961 crosses the Hampton Roads Tunnel (my friend Dave is giving me a lift in his pickup)
  • there's a pickup shuttle across the Rt 301 bridge at Dahlgren, Va
  • Daily mileages are 67,48,66,80. 11 on a possible laundry day; 83,60,73.
  • short url: http://goo.gl/maps/f6FFl
View 2013 v6 ChesBay in a larger map

Friday, October 25, 2013

Cafe Cravings, Mount Washington Coffeeneur 6 of 7

10/25/2013 15m #215
This was a cold morning for recreational riding, but no complaints; in February I'll be very happy to have a day like this, 35F clear and blue.

Started at the Bastille with R and S, intent on Coffeeneuring at Cafe Cravings (facebook) (web) on Mount Washington.

It was a cold start, and I added to the clothing I had worn yesterday: heavy gloves, running tights and pants, shoes instead of sandals, and ear muffs under the helmet. We rode the Ft. Duquesne and Ft. Pitt Bridges, and departed the South Side Trail at 18th Street.

Before we started to climb 18th Street I stopped to lose a layer of clothing, because I was over-warm as it was and there was no way to be comfortable climbing in all those clothes. I lost the overpants and the earmuffs and that was much better.

The climb was excellent and I much prefer that hill in 35F than 80F. We continued around to Grandview Park EmeraldView Park, which seems to have been recently (2005) renamed.

Coming into the park there's a steep driveway, and I had stopped for traffic. When I hit the driveway I stopped for traffic and then, in way too high a gear and faced with the steep driveway, I really pushed down on the pedals to keep the bike moving forward. I generated a lot of power, I guess, and ripped the chain apart.

This action generates the sub-title for today's blog post:
With great power comes missing links.

The timing was fortuitious, because only yesterday, in the comfort of a coffee shop the three of us had reviewed the removing and restoration of chain links. And now, on a beautiful clear day, we had a chance for a field implementation, and it wasn't raining or dark (which was a good thing).

I fixed my chain, it took about fifteen minutes, and then we got back on the bikes and rode around to Cafe Cravings at 402 Bigham Street in Mt. Washington. This place is wonderful!

Between us we had breakfast sandwiches on English muffins and croissants, lattes and hot chocolates. It was all excellent. The presentation also rocked. This place really exceeded all expectations.

The shop is excellent, quite a bit of art (some for sale) and then the more standard coffeeshop fixtures.

Departed via Grandview Street and descended into West End Circle, which was a brisk descent, then used the downstream walkway on the West End Bridge to transition into Chateau Street and back to the Bastille. Not a very long ride mileage-wise, but there was a lot of climbing and a great meal at the top. 15 miles in 35F.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Coffeeneuring 2013 5 of 7, Rule 9, Sleet and Thick Socks

10/24/2013 #216 28m
First things first: Eight weeks until Christmas Eve. You're welcome.

Started riding with R and S at the Bastille in the afternoon. Biked out to the 40th Street Bridge, crossed the river, and went further out of town. As we worked along Plummer Street we found ourselves riding in sleet, at which time I formally invoked Rule 9: If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period. It was a good sleet; no real reduction in visibility, and yet it made us feel slightly virtuous.

Rode out to HighLand Park, and once again the Wisdom of Ancient Names was evident; High-Land-Park is up on top of a hill.

Went to Tazza D'Oro for Coffeeneuring 5 of 7.

I had a double espresso. The offerings board suggested this particular bean would have a hint of citrus and it delivered just that, I really enjoyed it. I also had a localvore apple from Kistaco Farm which was excellent. R had a latte and a baked apple pastry, and S had tea with lemon and the baked apple pastry. Everybody was pleased.

After we ate and enjoyed the drinks, we broke out chain tools and an old chain that R had, and we had a brief hands-on session about chain repair, something you only get to do about once every three years (hopefully) and it was a good review.

Departed Tazza D'Oro and rode to Squirrel Hill so S. could do some shopping. Then we biked Forbes inbound through Schenley Park, the Junction Hollow Trail down to the Jail Trail, and the Hot Metal Bridge over to the South Side Trail (whew!) over to Thick Bikes to pick up some of their excellent new Sock-Clops socks (by Colin!)

Rode back via the Ft Pitt bridge and the Ft Duquesne bridge, with the sun setting behind Mt. Washington as we passed Peggy's Marina. We squeezed every bit of daylight out of this afternoon ride, really an excellent time even with the few bands of sleet we experienced.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No Smokestacks or Chimney Plumes over Pittsburgh

10/22/2013 #218 30m
Just a remarkably blue-skies, sunny day in Pittsbugh.

Fooled around with the location and loading of my bike gear a bit. Moved my rear trunk bag to the top of my front rack, which should permit me to place my rear panniers (when I carry them) on and off the rear rack without messing with the trunk bag. (My front rack has a separate level for the top-shelf and the panniers.) I think I'm going to like this, although I need to see how it affects my light beams.

Started at the Bastille, rode around the NorthSide to the 40th Street Bridge and crossed the Allegheny. Rode inbound to Point State Park, took Blvd of the Allies to the Jail Trail and the Hot Metal Bridge.

The wind was strong but shifting and I instinctively looked around to find a smokestack, which was something Ron Farley had taught me a million years ago; look for smokestacks, chimney plumes, flags and trees to tell the wind direction, but there just weren't any smokestacks or chimneys giving off any smoke at all. The once "smoky city" was emission-zero; nothing but unstained blue sky.

Finally I spotted the flag at the FBI building and it promised a headwind on the final leg. I spend a few minutes remembering Ron Farley, he was a good, funny man.

Rode the Baldwin Borough Trail down to Costco. Reversed; this time stayed on the west bank of the Mon up to the Ft. Pitt Bridge, across the Ft. Pitt and Duquesne Bridges and back to the car that was still there. 30 miles on a very pretty day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Duck Death Watch, MTBF, Bumbles, and a Mural

10/21/2013 220# 36m
A magnificent day for a ride. Started about 0930 at about 50F.

Rode around to see the Duck's last hurrah. #DeadDuckWalking, #TheLastMile, etc.

Coming around the Science Center, there was a large group opposite direction on the crowded sidewalk up to the Langely Observatory sculpture, so I decided to try a new "little known shortcut" I had just read about online. It does in fact exist, but it was a bit slick and I fell down and went boom, and fortunately S. remembered her priorities and took a picture fast.

This is the second time in two weeks I've fallen on the bike. My MTBF (Mean Time Between Falls) has been unusually high this year, hovering at around 1500 hours MTBF, but now it's down to about 750 hours MTBF. Fortunately, as Yukon Cornelious explained, Bumbles Bounce™.

Rode up to Oakland and Pitt's Upper Campus, to retrieve a headlight I'd lent to somebody during the Flock Ride. Took a detour through West Oakland. Descended Bates Street into the Second Avenue BioEngineering Park, and took this photo of the elegant and unfortunately still closed to the public Southside Riverfront Park:

Rode down to Homestead, so S. could pick up something at the Blue Bonnet Bakery. Encountered this mural along the main drag:

Awesome ride. Only 8 more weeks until the days start getting longer.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Last day for No Finger Gloves

10/19/2013 31m #220
Rode with my neighbor Jack for the first time today, excellent ride.

Started early on the Montour Trail at the Boggs Trailhead. As we were taking the bikes off the rack, a figure in camo materialized out of the background; really effective camouflage. He was hunting deer in bow season, carrying a really impressive crossbow and using the trail to walk out from his position to his car. Puts the Multi in Multi-Use-Path, I guess.

We rode from Boggs to McDonald and then use the Connector Trail to join the Panhandle Trail, made a left turn and rode East. After a few minutes we stopped and I was so pleased to take off my no-finger-gloves and put on my full-finger gloves; I will not use the no-fingers until spring, or until I change latitudes. Or longitudes, I keep mixing those up and I won't rely on a Jimmy Buffet song title as a mnemonic.

We continued east to Walkers Mill. The Panhandle Trail is much improved over the last few years. We reversed and rode back, and although it was a few degrees warmer the skies looked a bit darker. There's a tree down across the trail at MP16.2, with a white flag attached to help you recognize it.

A very nice ride, trail conditions are very good.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Excuse Me Madam / Coffeeneuer2013, 4 of 7

Fri, 10/18/2013 #219 26m
A great day for riding, cool and clear.

Started at the Bastille with S. At the trailhead I saw another cyclist, a young lady with a black Bern helmet with a Pirates-P logo on it, who my friend Rusty had identified the other day as Burgh bike blogger Shank. So I rolled over and asked, Excuse me mad'm, but may I ask, are you the bike blogger Shank? The woman looked at me with somewhat doubtful eyes as if this were the lamest icebreaking line ever and assured me she was not "Shank", and I explained why I asked.

Never content to fail gracefully or quickly, I did note that her bike was appointed quite well, and she had a loop of bike chain securing her saddle to the frame, and also her front basket to the frame - not only that, but the bike chain was color-coordinated with the frame. It was a really elegant bit of work.

The rest of the bike also showed great judgement and decision making. You can look at some bikes and just appreciate the thought process that went into their outfitting, and I think understand that the person who chooses to equip their bike in a certain way "gets it". But there was no getting past my opening by asking, are you Shank?

S. and I pedalled away and went to check out the final version of the MLK civil rights mural. Location: 2227 North Charles Street on the North Side. I'm pleased that it includes Pittsburgh's Jordan Miles, which was in fact S's suggestion to the project leader. It's very good.

Crossed the Ft. Duquesne Bridge, saw the #DuckDeathWatch, crossed the Ft. Pitt Bridge and looped down to the trail. Approaching the new soccer stadium we saw an older lady, which for me means in her 70's. Can you help me? she asked, and explained that she was trying to get to Point State Park and the #Duck, but found our trail system extremely hard to navigate. We agreed to help her to get there. I asked her, how do you find our trail signage? and she replied, "it just sucks!" which was kind of funny to hear out of the mouth of this Vermont grandmother, in town for a wedding.

So we escorted her across the Smithfield Street Bridge, showed her where Golden Triangle Bike Rentals was so she could return the bike, and then took her down to the point. A very nice lady.

Back across the Smithfield Street Bridge, back on the trail, down to 18th Street, and then out to Carson Street to Delanie's Coffee for Coffeeneuring Adventure 4 of 7. (twitter) (facebook).

S. had hot cider with a cinnamon stick, and I had a "white house" coffee which was a latte with cherry and vanilla flavors, very good. Excellent coffee shop, it's a two-level affair with a very nice atmosphere. Plus, the first thing we saw when we walked in was one of the barista's bikes, a fixie with a Thick Bikes sticker so there's that. I'll go back there.

Departed SouthSide and rode across the Hot Metal Bridge to the Swinburne Street Trailhead, and around the Chute. Encountered opposite direction people in said Chute. Here's the memo: use the Chute outbound (opposite direction to the cars), use Second Avenue inbound, 'kay?

Joined Junction Hollow Trail, saw a young man practicing walking on a tightrope, very impressive and even audacious. Climbed Joncaire Street to Schenley Quad, had dinner at Conflict Kitchen (which only serves food from countries which the US is in conflict with, because if you don't know what they're eating, how can you begin to understand them?). They're changing from a Cuban menu to a Korean menu in a month, so I'm glad to visit again before The Change.

Met the Flock of Cycles folks and we joined up for the October Bike Party, which took on a bit of a Holloween Theme.

This photo is by Joyce Wasser

I like all the Flock Rides, but especially the winter rides which take place in the hours of darkness - all the lights and blinkies and reflectors and getting to see how all these cyclists prepare for night riding. It makes me think, these are my people.

The high-points of the Flock ride for me were (1) Sara's mother came along, and I got to say Hello and I thought it was awesome that somebody's Mom would come out, (2) the turnout was really good, (3) when we rode into Market Square and rode in a circle for a few minutes, it drew a lot of attention including the two police officers who came right over, but they were very cool and very professional.

The Uggh-I-am-such-an-asshole point of the Flock ride for me was, there's another newish Pittsburgh bike blog Black Girls DO Bike (Facebook) (Twitter) and I'd sent her a message encouraging her to come out to the Flock ride.

Partway in to the ride, I notice there's a young black woman in the pack. So I manuever over and use the exact same question that worked just so very well for me earlier in the day: Excuse me, mad'm, but may I ask, are you the blogger Black Girls DO Bike?

The lady said to me, Well I am black, and I am a girl, and I DO bike, but I'm not that blogger, No. And still not being willing to fail gracefully or quickly, I continued to hammer at my foolishness and explain my question, and Sherice was very kind and tolerated me, and I realized I just can't continue going up to women and asking excuse me but are you the blogger X and I have banished that bit from my repertoire.

S. and I departed the Flock ride at Market Square and returned to the Bastille. 26 miles and a bit of a lesson learned on my part, I hope.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

River City Java in Uptown - 2013 Coffeeneuring 3 of 7

10/17/2013 #220 13m

Today's mission was Coffeeneuring and the target was River City Java at 1919 Forbes Avenue. R. had a latte, I had a three-shot espresso, S had a tea and we were all very pleased. We sat at a cool front patio that extends out into the sidewalk, and S. went out back where there's also a rear patio.

We met the owner and also talked with Steve Walsh, the manager. Very nice, engaging folks. This is a newly opened iteration of a coffee shop at this location, previously this had been the Asylum Coffee Bar in a previous life. These folks were doing it right, the coffee and tea was excellent and the mood of the place was very nice. I really like the open-wall atmosphere (weather permitting).

We departed and decided to check out Sir Samelot in case he was decorated for Halloween and hit a jackpot, they had just finished with the decoration and we got to meet Sam Kiss, who's responsible for placing the statue. We had a very nice talk with Sam and his able-bodied assistant Tim.

Crossed the Birmingham Bridge to the South Side, stopped at Thick Bikes for some Christmas wish-list fantasizing. Emerged to a light rain and proceeded to Station Square, Ft. Pitt Bridge, Ft. Duquesne Bridge, and back to the Bastille. 13 miles, and Coffeeneur 3 of 7 accomplished.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Testing Roll-On, Roll-Off Amtrak Bike Service from Pittsburgh to DC

10/15/2013 #223 71m
Had a fantastic opportunity to participate in evaluating a trial run for roll-on, roll-off (RORO) bicycle service on Amtrak from Pittsburgh to Connellsville, PA. I haven't been on an Amtrak train since I was on active duty, probably in 1979.

Why is RORO bike service from Amtrak such a big deal? The logistical problem with bike tourism is the round trip; how do people get back from the bike ride? Take a look at the Katy Trail running west from St. Louis. Amtrak runs along the trail, and you can book a train ticket from one end to the other, or at any intermediate stops, with RORO bike service. Bringing your bike along costs an additional $15. You make a reservation for the bike service, and once you reserve a bike slot you're guaranteed to have a rack for your bike so you can travel with confidence. This sort of service really boosts the local trail economy along a trail.

Today's Pittsburgh backstory is: Amtrak wanted to test the effect of having between 4 and 6 cyclists get on and get off the train at each stop - Pittsburgh, Connellsville, Cumberland, Harpers Ferry, and DC. A call went out for volunteers: you'd get a one-way ride, get to see what it's about, and then ride yourself back on your bike. Who wouldn't try that?

So S. and I found ourselves meeting at oh-dark-crazy at the Bastille, in order to be at the Pittsburgh Amtrak station an hour before the 0520 departure of the Capitol Limited from Chicago, through Pittsburgh, to DC. In the station we met our bike-buddy Stu, along with fellow Pittsburgh cyclists Tom, Tim, and Jim. S's trip report is here, and also Stu's report is here.

With Roll-on, Roll-off, you just walk your bike out on the train platform, and wheel it into the baggage car.

The graphic below shows the procedure for putting your own bike in the rack. We all felt well briefed on using the racks, but we suggested to the Amtrak staffers that mounting a demo rack in the station would have been helpful:

I had some concerns about my Surly LHT with it's two racks, full fenders, and mud flaps being compatible with the mounting hardware but there wasn't any glitches.

The Virgina Bike Federation reports on their trip segment here. The photo below is from Malcolm Kenton, a cyclist who also rode a Virgina segment of the evaluation; his blog post is online here:

After putting our bikes in their racks, we took seats in the observation car. Once the sun rose we could see that we were passing along the Yough River. It was a very pleasant ride, and there was a dining car on the train. Eventually we reached Connellsville and we disembarked, and another group of cyclists was waiting to get on board with their bikes.

I think the Connellsville disembark/boarding went quickly. After the train left, it was a quick transition to ride across the river and join the GAP Trail back to Pittsburgh. Connellsville is very bike friendly. We stopped at Sheetz for a snack before heading out of town.

The bike ride back was excellent. Stu had not seen this segment of the GAP before. Weather was awesome. Departing Connellsville we saw that both of the free hiker-biker Adirondak shelters were occupied, one by a hammock that had been ingeniously strung across the rafters. We showed Stu the coke ovens dug into the hillside north of town and the Mailbox Formation at MP 111.

Today I learned (TIL) that the "W-signposts" along the trail were intended to tell train engineers when to blow their warning Whistles before a crossing. (Thanks, Stu!)

At West Newton we checked out the most awesome trailhead on the GAP, replete with bike shop, restaurant, drug store, the best rest rooms on the GAP (if only they had showers, too!) and of course GAP HQ. As we continued along we saw the Red Waterfall (caused by mine runoff with high iron content), the White Waterfall (caused by mine drainage with high limestone content), and met Al and Debby on their bikes, towing their felines Lucy and Tom in a special cat-trailer which was really well designed.

We passed the Dravos Cemetery Campground which had several travelers in it. This is the closest open campground to Pittsburgh, and with the opening of the Sandcastle trail segment it's seeing a lot more use; it's a very easy S24O from the city.

After a quick stop in Boston at the Green Boxcar, we rode through Dead Man's Hollow which prompted Stu to ask, how did Dead Man's Hollow get it's name? I was chagrined to not know, but I looked it up. From the website,

Despite all of its natural beauty and tranquility, the hollow is best known for the dark past that haunts it. Dead Man's Hollow has had a long history of tragic events and horrific deaths; many of them shadowed by inexplicable circumstance. Of course, it is the hollow's very name that might be the greatest mystery of all. Even with years of speculation, it seems that no one is exactly sure how Dead Man's Hollow acquired its frightful name.

Imagine how many people would ride Amtrak down to Connellsville with their bikes, if they could, and then bike back. The economic impact would be tremendous. All that's missing is Amtrak providing the same service along the GAP that they provide along other trails, like the Katy Trail.

I really appreciate Amtrak evaluating this type of service with an operational demo. My experience was very positive, and I would use this service once a month if it were available. Just the chance to ride the train to Cumberland for a two-day ride home, or to DC for a four- or five-day ride home, without having to disassemble my bike and worry about the logistics of the return trip, that would be so fantastic. It would make me an Amtrak traveler again, after thirty years away.

I really hope Amtrak chooses to prioritize implementing Pittsburgh-to-DC ROLO bicycle service. Please send a letter to Amtrak encouraging them to provide Rollon/Rolloff Bicycle Service Pittsburgh to DC, at this address:

Amtrak Customer Relations
40 Mass. Ave., NE
Washington DC 20002
cc:Harris Cohen
cc: Derrick James

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rain Gear Demo Day

10/13/2013 33m
Today I rode solo from Cumberland to Meyersdale in rather cold, drizzle-to-rain, gray conditions.

It was an acceptable ride but not a very attractive ride, and a good day to have rain gear. 3h06m of pedalling, 4hours of clock time from the hotel in Cumberland to the Meyersdale train station.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Meyersdale to Cumberland: Type One Fun in the Drizzle

10/12/2013 33m
Rode from Meyersdale, PA to Cumberland, MD. In Meyersdale, I stayed in a hostel bunkroom at Morguen Toole Company. The accomodations were great. My first time at Morguen Toole, it's a very old rambling building a bit like Chutes-and-Ladders. Very clean. There's a restaurant that the locals come out to eat at, which is a good sign. Everybody in our party (about a dozen) was pleased with dinner.

Being Friday night there was Karaoke at the bar. After midnight the place was very quiet, as is all of Meyersdale. The hostel room had great wifi coverage and plenty of outlets for recharging the essentials. It was $30 for the hostel bunk, which is a bit much for a hostel accomodation in my perception, but it's the current rate along the GAP (same in Rockwood for similar accomodations). The staff at Morguen Toole was very friendly.

Breakfast Saturday was at GI Dayroom, which in my unhumble opinion is absolutely the best breakfast place on the GAP. Great service, great food, great atmosphere, bike friendly. I love eating there. After the group assembled and hello-hugs and updates were accomplished, they lined up for this photo exactly at their envisioned 10am start time:

I thought it was cool to see the two younger ladies in rain capes. The day was moist, 10% actual light rain, 35% drizzle-mist, and a gray low-overcast day with a headwind. The trail surface was wet from a good soaking. These folks did real well though, and persevered the 12 miles up to the Continental Divide.

After the peak we rode down to Frostburg, arriving only a moment before the passenger train discharged 500 riders looking for lunch and bathrooms. That was fortuitious. We placed a fast order for 14 pulled pork sandwiches just before the rush arrived.

The rest of the descent was as-expected. Took some group photos at the trailhead and Cumberland, "some people" took their photo with the towpath boy-and-donkey statue.

Dinner at Crabby Pig, dessert at Queen City Creamery. Nice day and the low-time cyclists really did well. 33 miles.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Coffeeneuring 61B Cafe Regent Square

10/10/2013 219# 26m
Today's mission was Coffeeneuring 2013, event 2 of 7, and we chose the new 61B Cafe in Regent Square.

Started at the Bastille (Western Pen) at 0800 with S and R, rode over to Point State Park. Happened upon Mayor Tom Murphy with a group of cyclists just before they commenced an out-of-town ride. Two Tom-Murphy-on-a-bike meetings in a week.

Rode the Jail Trail, Panther Hollow Trail, Fifth Ave to Squirrel Hill. Stopped at the Jewish Community Center looking for some info about a menorah sculpture at the Forbes Avenue Entrance. Turns out it's by Daniel Kafri.

Forbes and South Braddock into Regent Square and the new 61B Cafe. I wasn't sure exactly where it was, so I asked a man on the street and found myself speaking with Rick Sebak. That was cool.

It's an excellent coffee shop but they could really use a bike corral in front of the location.

Departed via Frick Park, using Tranquil Trail, and Fire Lane Trail to take us to Nine Mile Run Trail. At the lower end of Nine Mile Run Trail there was a flat-black gate across the path, that seems likely to clothesline a cyclist. We marked it with a bit of red cloth to try to add some visibility.

Took Duck Hollow Trail to Second Avenue, to the Jail Trail. Coming north of the Casino we passed a cyclist that R. identified as fellow coffeeneur Shank.

26 miles, Coffeeneur 2of7 in the bag.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hybrid Commute and Bike Nap

10/9/2013 13m #220
Sort of a hybrid work commute today; drove a car to a garage, then took the bike off the car and biked to work. After work, I biked home.

This is a short but pleasant commute, 13 miles today. Stopped on the way home and ate lunch at this spot overlooking the Ohio River, and then took a Bike Nap.

There's a question I find very interesting. When I take a bike nap, and people see me with my modern bike and high-viz kit, I'm never bothered; I'm considered an indicator species that good things are happening, economically and culturally. But when a more down-on-his luck fellow takes a nap in the park, with his possessions in a shopping cart instead of bike-and-panniers, he's a criminal that needs to be rousted. And yet, there's really very little objective difference between us.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Paradise aka Just Another Bike Day in Pittsburgh

10/8/2013 26m   220#  
Just a glorious day: cool, clear, bright blue and almost a cloud-free sky, 60F.

Started at the Bastille, road with S to the PumpHouse. Made the decision to answer a cellphone call and spent 30 minutes trying to help troubleshoot a geek issue, bad decision but the sun was so warm it almost didn't matter.

Failed to solve the geek issue, resumed riding. Amazing how much good a bit of cycling does for perspective. 26 miles

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Meeting Mayor Tom Murphy on the Bike Trails

10/6/2013 #223 49m
Started riding at the Bastille with S, joined R at Point State Park, and we met a group of five cyclists we were to escort out to Boston PA and the GAP, beyond some navigation challenges.

They were a very nice group of folks. Took obligatory photos at the Point and with the Duck, then rode out on the Jail Trail to the Hot Metal Bridge:

These riders being Coffeeneurs, we stopped at Big Dog Coffee so they could attend to their needs. I think they liked it. I also wonder if this doesn't make them Pittsburgh Coffeeneurs for tracking purposes.

We continued through the Baldwin Trail, Keystone Metals, Sandcastle and the Waterfront to the Pump House.

It was a beautiful day and there were quite a few people around the Pump House trailhead, including a supported ride group from Wilderness Voyagers. I thought one of the cyclists looked familiar so I inquired and it was, in fact, Tom Murphy - the mayor who drove the development of Pittsburgh's trail systems. In many ways, the Pittsburgh that I enjoy so much is the Pittsburgh that Mayor Murphy planned and developed.

Getting to meet Tom Murphy on the trail is like going to the Vatican and bumping into the Pope and having a conversation. The Mayor talked about how back in the day, there was tremendous resistance to the idea of bike trails and nobody wanted them. Now people can't get enough of them and they're an indicator of the city's attractiveness. Up, the mayor! It was really a treat to see him. I hope that somebody has the perspective to name a trail segment after Tom Murphy.

We continued across McKeesport and we bade the group farewell abeam the Durabond Bypass. Reversed and rode back, stopping at Mitchell's Fish Market for water and Golden Triangle Bikes for a snack. Crossed town via Grant Street to avoid the stadium crowds, and saw a very pink fountain at USX Plaza for Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

I've been wondering why the fountain at the Point hasn't been dyed pink as it has in previous years, I'm glad to see somebody has remembered.

The transition from the 9th Street Bridge back to the Bastille was quite smooth, and it was a perfect ride on a great day. 49 miles.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Coffee Shop Without Walls: 2013 Coffeeneuring 1 of 7 at Point State Park

10/4/2013 #222 32m
Today is the first day of Coffeeneuring Challenge 2013.

Coffeeneuring is a neologism of randoneuring (riding distances within rules) and coffee riding (riding locally for coffee), hence coffeeneuring: riding locally for coffee within rules. Last year Pittsburgh had more coffeeneurs than any other metro area, even more than Portland.

Given this year's new rule, the Coffee Shop Without Walls (which embraces coffeeneuring at an outdoors location), and the installation of Pittsburgh's Large Yellow Duck, it seemed appropriate to kick off the year with outdoor coffee/tea at Point State Park.


R,S and I started riding at Western Penitentiary at about 0820 and rode to Point State Park. There weren't too many people around. We parked our bikes and fired up the JetBoil, and brewed one cup of coffee and two cups of tea. Had some animal crackers along with the hot drinks, and fed the local mallards a few dozen Ritz crackers.


#Coffeeneuring 2013, 1 of 7, cups belong to R, V, and S:

Crossed the Ft.Pitt bridge, rode southeast along the Mon. Realized that some of our friends were in the area, crossed the Hot Metal Bridge and rendezvoused with K, K, and D on the Jail Trail at Triangle Bike Rental.

Rode through Sandcastle and the Waterfront to the PumpHouse, and then returned. Very pretty day, 80F in October.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Perfect Day

10/2/2013 #225 42m
A magnificent day for October, 80F clear and sunny.

Started midday at the Bastille, rode to Thick Bikes to pick up something they'd ordered for me (an Ortlieb pannier repair kit). Also stopped at REI to get a propane canister for my JetBoil, last week mine ran out. Doing my bit for the bike economy, yo.

Rode through the Waterfront and beyond, then reversed. Came back through downtown at 4.30 pm but the transition through afternoon rush hour was no problem.

Just an excellent ride on a pretty day.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

RustBelt Cup, Shelter and Hammocks at Boggs Trailhead

10/1/2013 #225 42m
First, a link to a better writer: Velophoria who says, "If you're not having fun on your bike, you need to seek professional help. I'm a therapist, and I'm not joking -- you need help. Bikes are fun."

Being October 1st, the National Bike Challenge has closed and with it the Cleveland-Pittsburgh Rust Belt Competition. I rode for 4,138 points over the several months of the competition, and occupied 62nd place among Pittsburgh participants. Last year I was in the top-15. It looks like Cleveland has both more miles and more miles-per-rider, but Pittsburgh has more "points", and I'm not sure how the Rust Belt Competition is defined (or even if it's defined by a particular metric).

Rode the Montour Trail today with R starting at the Boggs Trailhead, which is just my fave local trailhead; it's a bit of an oasis. Today we saw a few new improvements. There's an Adirondack shelter being built for campers:

Adjacent to the campsite, there are several hammock bays all neatly aligned, which is just fantastic:

We were surprised to encounter DH jogging on the trail, that was serendipitious.

We rode out to trailside FarmHouse Coffee in Peters Township, having heard that they may be closing the doors come Nov. 1st. Enjoyed excellent coffee and their excellent outdoor patio. They've been an excellent shop, I'm sorry to see them close.

The ride back was just as pleasant: sunny and cool and perfect conditions.