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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chartreuse and Orange is the New Black Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 25, 2013

Visualizing Six Million Dead; Locksmiths, Murals, Trees

11/25/2013 209# 33F 23m
First, a month before Christmas. You're welcome.

It's not that today was great weather to ride; it was a bit chilly, but the next two days are forecast to be fugly, so there was a bit of an imperative. Met S at the Bastille. The first mile was kind of key, because I started at 4999 miles for the year, so the first mile put me at 5,000 for the year, so there's that. (Last year was 7000 miles, not going to see that this year).

Riding the Jail Trail past the CourtHouse, saw a podium being set up for some sort of a press event, asked and was told that the Governor was giving a press conference. Definitely not the weather for an outdoor press conference. Later read that it was all about infrastructure and the Liberty Bridge. Silly boys, ignoring the trail-as-infrastructure.

Swinburne Street trailhead, Second Avenue, and for something new we climbed Greenfield Ave to Beechwood Blvd into Squirrel Hill and Forward Street. Ended up at the Community Day School and the just-dedicated Keeping Tabs Holocaust Sculpture.

In order to demonstrate what six million (the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust) looks like, the school had collected six million pull-tabs from soda/pop cans. The tabs were then placed into glass block, and the blocks built into walls forming a Star of David that people can walk through. It's a very impressive, poignant presentation; well worth traveling to see.

There's no photography yet showing an overhead view of the Star of David, I'm counting on the next Google Earth update to show that.

Encountered this unusual bit of car rooftop decoration, from the Squirrel Hill Locksmith:

Startled to stumble across another mural at Beacon and Murray Streets:

Stopped at 61C Cafe for hot drinks (espresso and tea) to warm up. Departed via Forbes and Schenley Park, Junction Hollow and the Jail Trail. Crossing the Hot Metal Bridge, we saw an opposite direction cyclist with a Menorah on his helmet, I think that must have been my friend Ben.

Got to see the tree at Point State Park.

A very nice ride on a somewhat chilly day. 23 miles, and over 5000 for 2013.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday Soup Sega in West Homestead

11/23/2013 #208 32F 25M
Today was 32F and windy, but the weather is so much better than tomorrow's forecast so it seems like a great day to ride.

Met S. at 0830 at the Bastille and we were both quite bundled up for the first sub-30F-windchill ride of the this season. The first problem was all the detail-fussing with increasingly cold extremities prior to the ride, the snapping on of new overshoes, handwarmers, things like that. Finally we were ready to go, like kids off to school in a snowstorm.

Riding was great. Yesterday I took advantage of the rain day to have the world's best Local Bike Shop (aka the Ambridge Bike Shop) install a new drive train (rear cassette, chain, chainrings) along with a new rear brake mechanism and some brake hoods, and it's a pleasure to ride a bike that's quiet, doesn't skip, and brakes so effectively. That alone made the first mile so happy.

Took the Ft. Pitt Bridge over to Station Square; not too many people on the trails this morning. I was feeling quite comfortable despite the temps, although I must credit multiple layers and chemical warmers on my hands and feet.

Rode down past Sandcastle and intended to depart the trail and penetrate Homestead proper. Until recently we rode around on the Waterfront property and exited via the train crossing and Amity Street, which is a bit dodgy in a car-bike sort of way. Just the last few times, we've taken the ramp up to the Homestead Grays Bridge and taken the right turn into Homestead, which provides a much saner transition into Homestead without any of the mall crazy; I like this a lot better.

Rode through town to 449 W. 8th Avenue, W. Homestead PA, 15120, which is home to the Bulgarian Macedonian National Educational and Cultural Center. The MBNECC hosts Soup Sega! Saturdays until noon, selling 14 varieties of high-quality homemade Bulgarian soups. To. Die. For. "Soup Sega" translates to "soup now", they explain.

The menu includes several vegetarian choices, as well as gluten free selections, and also dairy-free options. S and I each departed with two quarts of soup in our panniers.

We reversed and rode up to the South Side, crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, and rode the Jail Trail. Saw a cross-country skier practicing on Roller-Skis, very cool. Took a detour through USX Plaza and saw that the tree and ice rink are in operation. Passed through Market Square where the Tchotchke Market opened today. Stopped at Point State Park to eat some strudel from the Bulgarian Center (wow).

Crossed to the North Side, noticed the (head)wind picking up and a bit more blue skies. Still felt pretty comfortable in the 32F temp range. 25 miles today, which puts me at 4999 miles year-to-dayte, oh-so-close to 5000.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Politically and Anatomically Correct Sharrow Markings - That's No Sharrow, it's a Sheryl !

11/21/2013 208# 25m
Dr. Pangloss was right; it is, in fact, the best of all possible worlds. Ended up with a great day and a great ride, which might have cancelled based on the weather forecast.

Started at the Bastille with S, rode to the Liberty Ave JimmyJohn's hoagie shop for a BikePghForum lunch meetup of 8 or so fellow travellers. A very nice time.

Departed intent on inspecting some new street markings, seems there's some new inclusive street markings on Smallman Street at 25th:

Attempted to post something witty about the incoming Mayor's administration, and Hizzoner-Himself retweeted it which I thought was very decent of him:

Rode through Lawrenceville, climbed up through Allegheny Cemetery, out to Centre Avenue to run an errand.

Next out to Squirrel Hill for another errand. It turned out to be a really nice, mild afternoon. Returned via Schenley Park, Junction Hollow Trail, and the Jail Trail. Got back to the cars before dark and before any rain, another successful adventure without casualty.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Labor march, chain splicing, Jungian mandalas: another bike ride in Pittsburgh

11/19/2013 #210 25m
Started solo at the Bastille, rode to the Jail Trail abeam the Second Ave parking lots for a quick bit of freelance trail marking. Reversed to meet S.

Encountered a labor protest march at Rivers Casino; it was professional, organized, and well attended. Nice to see democracy and the right-to-organize in action.

Met S at the West End Bridge and we rode around the stadia and the Clark Bldg and worked our route to Federal Street and Fineview. Note to self: include "View" on the list of street names that are code-words for heart-breaking climbs.

Was rewarded with a view of this hard-to-find backyard mural that turns a sloped yard into a bamboo garden, it's really very nice.

Departed and rode a bit further up the hill to see "how fine is the view?" Ended up at the Fineview ball field, and it is a great view now that the leaves are down. I had to climb up a hill to get out of my position and I tore apart the drive chain, third time I've done that with this chain. It's time to replace it, I suppose. Still, you've got to love the robustness of a drivetrain design that let's you snip out failed sections, splice it together, and keep riding - three times!

The climb up to the top of Fineview was a lot of work but it was very pleasant. The descent was quick and it was rather uncomfortable because I was freezing at the bottom of it, particularly after having had my gloves off for the chain repairs. Wow was that cold.

Crossing downtown, we noticed some art embedded in the sidewalk outside of Market Square and realized we'd stumbled across something Stu had told us about recently. This installation by Philomena O'Dea is a fusion of Jungian archetypes, mandalas, and digital photoshop techniques.

I hope that these are Jungian mandalas and not Buddhist mandalas, because I'm under the impression it would be very disrespectful to have pedestrians walking over Buddhist sand mandalas.

Joined the Jail Trail, saw a lady using roller skis to get ready for the cross-country skiing season, that was pretty cool. Continued and took the Hot Metal Bridge, and stopped at REI for odds and ends. It was a luxury to warm up. Returned via the same route. 25 mles.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Diorama and Newb Aversion

11.16.2013 #211 25m
Parked on the outskirts of the Burgh at the Bastille and rode into the City for a meeting. Passing by the football stadium I heard my name and was so pleased to see PaulD and the lovely Deb on their way into the Pitt game.

Downtown the celebrity sightings continued with a glimpse of Burghman rollerblading through the Metropolis. (We note that Burghman lists Bill Peduto as one of his sidekicks.)

After the meeting I met S. and we checked out an illuminated-timeline display of the Homestead Strike (built by Don Sentner of Design Specialties ) in the lobby of the Steelworkers Building. It's the best depiction of the action that I've seen.

Rode down to Keystone Metals, Sandcastle, and the Pump House. It was interesting to see the Pump House and the Pinkertons Landing Bridge after viewing the timeline-diorama.

Reversed and returned. With the mild afternoon, there were a lot of people on the trail. It's nice to see the bikes out, but when I approach a turn and I can choose which way to go, I find myself saying - whichever way they're not going, that's my choice.

A beautiful mild day, 25 miles.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sir Samelot, Piper's Pub, Randy's Bridge, Fred's Portal

11/15/2013 #212 31m
Started at the Bastille with a bit of bike rigging, putting extra lights on for the evening's Flock ride.

Went to Seneca and Tuscan Streets in Uptown to see if Sir Samelot had changed his kit for the impending Turkey-feast and he was, in fact, prepared for the times:

Crossed the Burmingham Bridge, which is always a great transition, and went to REI. Encountered BonVivant and MasterOfTheTrails YaleC, who is always entertaining and informative and possibly, as his traveling mate suggested, schmoozing enough to run for elected office.

Reversed and stopped at Piper's Pub. Shepherd's pie, keilbasa and cabbage while Scotland played US in soccer on the big screen. Most excellent.

Rode up Panther Hollow and did a bit of wayfinding across CMU to find the Randy Pausch bridge, which is illuminated in a changing LED pattern in the darkness, it's really very attractive.

Turns out, the best view of the lighting is from a distance. If you're on the bridge deck, you really don't get to see the presentation (which is awesome).

Joined the Flock of Cycles group for the monthly ride. Given the very mild conditions I expected more folks, but we still had about 35 people. Unfortunately the boom box is down for overhaul, I really missed the tunes.

Stopped in Squirrel Hill at ProBikes to check on an order from several weeks ago. Not very impressed at the response: Meh.

Coming back from the Flock we stopped at Point State Park which does have the Christmas Tree erected, but (as suspected) it's not lit yet, waiting on (hashtag) Light Up Night. Crossed to the NorthSide, saw Fred Rogers keeping an eye on things through his Burgh Portal:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Coffeeneur 9, First Money, Artisanal Bread

11/14/2013 #215 21m
Met S. and R. at the Bastille around 1330, late enough in the day that the morning ice had melted and the sun had warmed up the world quite a bit.

Today was a multi-mission day, and the first mission was artisanal bread™, so we rode to Market Square and Mancini's and R. obtained a loaf. Next mission was some sort of Burgh tchotchkes, so we stopped at the Cultural District and chased those down.

We continued out to Lawrenceville and in search of the Squirrel Convergence mural which we've heard was somewhat blocked by new construction. In fact, the view of the mural is quite obscured by the new building, which houses the new Lawrenceville location of Iron City Bikes. Wow.

Nice looking shop, they were in the middle of a "soft opening", still stocking and unpacking. Really chill shop-dog. Nice guys. Extremely impressed to see Colin Albright from Squirrel Hill Pro-Bikes setting up the inventory control system, yes that Colin. He is such an impressive person, and he went to lengths to explain that he was happy at ProBikes but liked the challenge of setting up an inventory system from Day-Zero. Great guy.

Looked around and saw that they had a gizmo I've been searching for and didn't even know what it's called, a helmet blinky light that shows white in the front and red in the rear. Turns out it's a Topeak Headlux helmet light, and I bought it on the spot. The boss said, I guess this is our first sale in the new location, which called for a picture.

And that was very cool. We note that there's a coffee shop across the street from the new location, naturally, Continued riding east, and in about a block we also saw the new location of Love Bikes. (who we also think is awesome.) Two new shops in close proximity; awkward. I guess they're pursuing different niches; I hope they place nice together.

Continued along Butler Street to La Gourmandie for some even more artisanal bread, and then we considered that mission accomplished.

Reversed course and stopped at 21st Street Coffee and Tea, which of course is at 20th Street. Being Thursday and our official RDO, this constitutes our 9th Coffeeneur Trip of 2013 out of the 7 required.

Attempted twice to join the Convention Center trail but each attempt was futile due to subsequent trail closures, so we joined Duquesne Blvd to Blvd of the Allies and the Smithfield Street Bridge. The 4th Street track crossing was closed, so #SmarterPeopleThanMyself navigated us to ThickBikes where they made purchases - tyres, overshoes, and various sundries.

Back on the trail in the gloaming darkness, rode over the Ft. Pitt Bridge while looking at the gridlocked automobiles, and then back to the Bastille to the #CarsThatWereStillThere. A most satisfying ride.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Constellation Coffee Reconnaissance, Coffeeneuring 8

11/11 #217 9m
Started our Veteran's Day ride at Millvale to avoid any assemblies that might have been happening at the USS Requin.

Crossed the 40th Street Bridge and then climbed up through the Allegheny Cemetery, which is always a nice transition. Got out of there just as a burial convoy was forming up.

Short ride to 4059 Penn to the newly established Constellation Coffee (web).

I like this place, and I like the vibe more than the previous incarnation at the same location. They're still ramping up their portfolio but it looks like they're off to a great start. Owner Amy Weiland brings three years of experience at Tazza d'Oro with her.

The espresso was excellent, and S was very pleased with her hot chocolate.

Rode into downtown, and at 10th Street we got a look at the traffic rerouting around the Veteran's Day parade and reversed course. Used the 16th Street Bridge, took the NorthSideTrail. Stopped at the Heinz Loft Cafe just to see what that was all about, and rode back to the Millvale trailhead. It felt like the day was warming up, just as we were getting off the bikes.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Steelers Sunday Sortie

11/10 #217 15m
Rode from the Bastille to Big Dog Coffee on a Steelers home game Sunday. Passed through a bit of tailgating and foot traffic on the first leg, rode by a stadium with noticable empty seats on the return leg.

As Pittsburgh's trails have become more connected, more people have been coming out and using them, leading some early adopters to wistfully say "can't wait for the winter when we can have the trails back to ourselves", and today was one of those days. The only people out today were pure of heart™.

True to the theme, S and I encountered RedDan and his daughter (on her Hello Kitty bike) crossing the Hot Metal Bridge on their way out on a Coffeeneuring mission. I was very impressed.

Big Dog was excellent, as always.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day8 Dahlgren Va to Linthicum Md; Last Leg

11/8/2013 73m, 488/trip
Started in Dahlgren, Va and just before I started riding I called the folks at the Harry Nice bridge, which carries Route 301 across the Potomac and requested a courtesy bike shuttle from south to north.

I biked the three miles to the bridge, pulled off on the side of the road, and waiting for the shuttle. It was a very windy but pretty morning. I took the bags off my bike and settled in. After a while a vehicle came up behind me, a police car. Nice guy, he's a road cyclist and asked about the LHT. He explained, before we put you and your bags in a car with our employees, we'd like to make sure everything is safe, and asked for my ID so he could run a check on me. (Which I passed!)

I guess in the post-9/11 world, bridges and dams are key infrastructure, and maybe four panniers are the perfect place to store the tools of Martyrdom. Anyway, if you're going to cross the 301 Bridge, make sure there's no "wants and warrants" out for you.

Another thing I learned was that back in the day, people could sometimes ride across the bridge in the wee hours. Post-9/11 there's a lot of surveillance video and they say nobody's sneaking across the bridge now, and there's a very significant fine for those who attempt it. Plus, there really isn't any "share-the-lane" space; you're in the lane, and it's a steep incline.

As the officer was running my credentials, a bridge pickup arrived and we put my bags and bike in the back. The drive over was quick, and the two operators were very pleasant. On the Maryland side they helped me unload and I realized, I'd left my gloves on the Virginia side. No problem, they said, we'll go get them for you. Extremely nice people. Plus, we like the name "Nice Bridge" more than the "Hatem Bridge" in Havre de Grace.

So there are four crossings on this trip that are forbidden to bicycles - The Hatem Bridge over Route 40 in Havre de Grace (bus line), the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (shuttle), the Hampton Roads Tunnel (bus line), and the Nice Bridge on Route 301 over the Potomac in Dahlgren (shuttle) - and none of them posed any problem.

Back on the road with a few miles to cover to make the day's mission. There was a bit of a headwind, it's funny how a loss (or gain) or only two-mph can lower/lift the spirits. Rode through LaPlata and Waldorf, Md. My friend RS highly recommended Lefty's Barbeque (facebook) and that was good advice. They no longer carry their highly-regarded pound cake, so I went with the banana-pudding cake. The ribs were absolutely tremendous.

The ribs counted as my big meal of the day, and I set out with about 48 more miles to go and about three more hours of daylight. I feel like I made pretty good time, although the wind was not cooperating. After 4pm I was in a bit of Friday afternoon rush-hour, especially in the Bowie-Route 3 corridor which was still a very pleasant drive.

I was very pleasantly surprised when one of my nocturnal route segments turned out to be paved trail, the Washington Baltimore and Annapolis Trail from Conway Road through Odenton, that was a very nice and unexpected treat.

Back on the roads via Route 170 for the last few miles, and then the BWI airport trail routes to get to where I'd parked the car (which was still there, and it even started). Mega-thanks to Mike B (ChesapeakeSailor) for his logistics support with the vehicle.

Off the bike at 1900, 73 miles for the day, 488 miles for the trip. Eight days to ride around the Chesapeake Bay.

View Daily Progress, Bicycle Ride Around Chesapeake Bay; Bicycle Tour in a larger map

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day7: Warsaw to Dahlgren, Va. Hills, Headwinds, Rain, Cold: Totally Awesome

11/7/2013 41m, 415m/trip

Woke up early to rainfall and made a strategic decision to embrace conditions and went back to sleep. Woke up again at 0930 and it was still raining, so I cooked breakfast (added boiling water to oatmeal) within the tent vestibule, which worked very well. Love the tent. Packing up a wet rainfly is something I need to learn about. Finally departed the campground at about 1100.

The Heritage Park Campground was a very successful overnight stay for me. (I had the tent area to myself.) The showers had hot water and the grounds were immaculate. I think it's probably fair to say that they're not pursuing the campground business as aggressively as they are the winery business at Belle Mount Winery, situated on the same location. The bathhouse etc probably hasn't seen an update in 2013, but if what you're looking for was a safe/secure/clean overnight for a tent or a pull-in camper, this place was great. I would come here again.

I was off the main roads, and the most efficient route was to remain on secondary roads for the first 15 miles. It was all right, but rather isolated, and a bit more twisty-climby. The drivers I encountered were certainly courteous, and there weren't many of them - but there was no such thing as riding by a convenience store or a restaurant, either.

It started to rain again, not too bad at first. After a while the wind picked up and I realized I was about to encounter sustained heavy rain, so I took shelter in the lee of a closed garage. Took out my spiffy utility blanket and some tuna fish, got warm and dry and had some lunch. Checked the phone and it looked like major rain/wind for an hour. It was cold and wet and fairly gray, so I chose not to go riding on the road (there wasn't any shoulder, and it was a two-lane at 55-mph). So I chilled out under my blankie for a while.

Which takes me back to the ever-persistent theme of Cyclist-Homeless Duality. The blogs bring this: Mistaken for Homeless, in which a driver offers a cyclist $5 out of concern. I personally think the blog post misses the point; it's not that the driver suffers from classism, it's that the driver didn't see any difference between the touring cyclist and a homeless person (which is sort of my point: they're both non-driving humans likely to be carrying clothing and possessions; they're the other.

And in today's hometown paper, a homeless man was found sleeping inside the Presidential Suite of the Omni William Penn Hotel and promptly seized and arrested. Turns out the door to the suite was intentionally left unlocked for an earlier event. The upscale hotel immediately pressed charges, and the newspaper published the photograph to - to what end, exactly? To present a titillating image of a homeless man? The new bogey man?

I think about this when I'm on the side of the road, huddled in my REI blanket in the rain, with my Amex and my smart phone, confident in my social status. Well, mostly-somewhat-confident.

Got back on the road, hoping to find some real food, and encountered Bobby K's Roadside Cafe. wow wow wow. I had a brisket sandwich with sweet potato fries.

This was a real treat. Previously, the best sweet potato fries I've ever had were from Walden's Restaurant in Burgettstown, PA. These fries are a class above those. These fries were so good, that I never touched the sandwich until all the fries were gone. The sandwich was also excellent; the roll was fresh and tasty, good enough to stand on its own. The brisket was tender and tasty; I really didn't use the au jus that much. Afterwards, I caved and tried the Hummingbird Cake which was also A-1. Really an excellent meal and very nice folks in the place. (Giants fans, somehow)

Back on the bike. There was a headwind for the entire day, and there were hills! Not Western Pennsylvania character-developing hills, but definitely climbing work and low groundspeeds. It was an enjoyable workout but not very fast.

I ended up stopped for the day in Dahlgren, Va, with 41 miles on the clock.

View Actual Daily Progress, Chesapeake Bay Tour in a larger map

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day6: Gloucester Court House, Va to Warsaw, Va

11/6/2013 54m, 374m/trip

Departed Gloucester Court House after breakfast in the hotel. Continued riding for probably 18 miles until Saluda, Va where I found a Hardee's restaurant. When scientists want to slow down the speed of light, they should run their experiments in southern fast-food restaurants, because everything is slower in there. But I met and got to talk to some very nice people.

I do need to figure out how RV- and camper folks plan their trips, I'm thinking there must be camper's maps just like there's aviation maps. I passed several campgrounds on this trip that weren't on Google or any maps, and I'd have structured the days differently if I had known they were there. More to learn about.

I crossed the Rappahannock at Tappahannock, using the two-lane bridge and all the drivers cooperated really well. Continued well off the beaten path and into Heritage Park Campground in Warsaw, Va (which is also the location of Belle Mount Winery. Very nice people and I had the campground to myself.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 5: Norfolk, the Peninsula, Gloucester Court House

11/5/2013 43m the day, 320 miles the trip
Day 5: Norfolk Va to Gloucester Court House, Va

Woke up and appreciated being in a bed after two days in a tent (although the tent was good). D and I went out to Baker's Crust for breakfast, a very nice place. We returned to his house and then prepared to set out: I would ride from D's residence to the Hampton Roads Tunnel, on Willoughby Spit, the furthest point one can go via a bicycle. Dave would give me some time and then follow in his pickup truck, so as to ferry me across the Hampton Roads.

The ride across Norfolk on Shore Parkway, Route 60, was a nice ride in that the drivers were all courteous. The shoulder was non-existent, and the right-two-feet of the pavement was a bit rough. It was interesting to ride across the neighborhood of Oceanview, which I'd spent some time in about a million years ago when I was in the Navy.

I got out to the end of Willoughby Spit a few minutes before D and his pickup, and then we loaded my bike up in the back of his pickup and we crossed from one side of the water to the other. In doing so, we passed close by historic Ft. Monroe and the Hotel Chamberlain, which D told me is now a senior-living facility.

I thanked D and we said our good-byes and went about our courses. I rode Mercury Blvd (named after the space program) across Phoebus and Hampton. Rode along Armistead Avenue and right underneath the approach end of Rwy07 (08?) at Langely Air Force Base. Got to see several F22 Raptors in the pattern (a deadly fighter, which unfortunately is killing the young people we ask to fly it). Also saw some T38's in the pattern. That was very cool.

Continued along a series of roadways named for astronauts through Poquoson, joined Route 17, and continued along to Yorktown. The Coleman Bridge crosses the York River and has generous bike lane on both sides of the span. I could see a very small destroyer at the pier at the Yorktown weapons complex. Ordinarily I'd consider that ship a corvette, but we don't classify any US ships as corvettes; this may have been one of the new littoral warships.

Continued to Gloucester Court House, where I called it a day at 43 miles. The next lodging was quite a few hours away, there was only another hour of sunlight, and I wasn't feeling the mojo so I decided to try prudence for a change of pace.

Found a room at the Hampton Inn, charged the various batteries, did five days of laundry, and updated some blog posts. Hoping for an effective day tomorrow.

View Actual Daily Progress, Chesapeake Bay Tour in a larger map

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day4: Temperenceville to Norfolk, VA

11/4/2013 73 miles
Day4: Tall Pines Harbor to Norfolk, VA

Woke up at Tall Pines Harbor Campground. Seeing it for the first time in daylight, it's a very impressive facility. Tremendous views of the Chesapeake Bay. Very well developed grounds and buildings. Really top-notch, I'd stay there again. Clean, heated bathrooms and showers with lots of hot water. Very nice staff. Excellent experience.

Departing on a series of county roads, mostly a lane and one-half wide. It was very quiet, very pretty. At a few different times in the day, a few dogs tried to earn their dog chow by taking notion of me and doing dog-type things, but none of them were too earnest about it.

Saw a flight of four E2C Hawkeyes flying over (and then flying around), and then later saw some C2 Greyhounds. (Aviation geek detour: check out the development of the S2 Tracker, the E1 Tracer, and the C1 Trader, sort of an homage to the Grumman Ironworks.) I learned later that the NASA Wallops runway has recently been approved for FCLP work, after NALF Fentress was rendered unusable by encroaching real estate development.

I found myself dog-legging and tacking and eventually entered the town of Onancock, Va which was an occasion of great amusement for me. (You may recall that in Genesis, Onan was smote because he spilled his seed upon the ground.) When I saw this sign, I so wished I had a packet of sunflower seeds so I could take a photo of spilling them out on the ground.

Stopped the the Bank Coffee Shop. Very impressive layout, art studio in the vault, second level seating area, impressive menu. Had a turkey-bacon-cheese panini and she-crab soup. A bit expensive, spent $18 on lunch.

Having tired of the dog-legging, departed the preferred path and rode to Route 13. When I turned south I caught a bit of a tailwind because the groundspeed certainly increased.

I tried to keep going south without stopping in hopes of making as many miles as I could before sunset.

On the other hand, one of the good old boys told me he'd seen my DesignShine tail light out on the highway and thought it was real impressive, so there's that.

I had made arrangements with the very nice folks at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) for a vehicle shuttle across the CBBT. I had told them I'd be there between 1800 and 1815, and I arrived at 1805 (I was kind of pleased about that). They really do a nice job if it, they bring around a pickup truck and put your bike and gear in the back and give you a lift across to the other side; you pay the same toll as a vehicle would pay. They also provide a driver service for people who are nervous about driving their own vehicles across the CBBT. I can't say enough about how smooth and welcome an accomodation this was.

On the Virginia Beach side, I rode Route13 south to Route 60 west. There was no usable shoulder, but the drivers were very nice about sharing the road. I made it to my friend D's house in about a half-hour, and then we went out to the Surf Rider restaurant at Vining's Landing for dinner. Hush puppies, shrimp, and crab cakes; living the dream.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Day3 Killens Pond State Park to Temperenceville, Va

11/3 93m
Killens Pond State Park to Tall Pines Harbor Campground at Temperenceville, Va.

Apparently, elves circled the universe overnight and reset all the clocks to NuTime™. Slept well. Woke up, made oatmeal for breakfast, walked to the pond, very nice. Plugged in electronics to recharge, now that the rain had passed.

I was very comfortable overnight, never zipped up my bag more than halfway. The morning was windy with a lot of visibility, typical post-cold-front day. Stops of the day were Dunkin Donuts, Grotto Pizza, and a Bob Evans.

I had made a decision to extend the day's mileage since the clock change would give me an extra hour of daylight before sunset, so I rode beyond my planned overnight. HAH! It gets dark earlier! You don't get an extra hour of daylight at the end of the day! I am such a schmuck.

Crossing the Virginia line and entering the Old South, there was a cigarettes-booze-gas stand decorated with rebel flags, a full-size replica of the CSS Virginia, and a sign proclaiming "the South starts here". How nice. Nostalgia for the days they wanted to kill American soldiers so they could own black people. Sweet.

Rode in the dark to Temperenceville Va. Surprised to notice that the billboards for the campground had very different directions from Google maps, and I decided to believe the billboards. The difference was about eight miles. Finally rode into the Tall Pines Harbor campground hours after sunset and as promised, I found a map with directions to my campsite at the (closed) office.

It's a tremendous facility, I look forward to seeing it in daylight. I cooked Raspberry Crumble for something to eat. 93 miles and a very cold night ahead.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day2: Aberdeen MD to Killen's Pond State Park

11/2/2013 77m
Aberdeen Md to KIllen's Pond State Park

Slept well, at least five hours without waking which is unusual for me. Walking my loaded bike into the hotel elevator, a lady looked at me (approvingly) and said, "all your earthly possessions, huh?" Which very much reminded me of a recurring theme, the extremely fine line between a touring cyclist (socially approved) and a homeless guy (socially disdained).

Rode north on Route 40 to Havre de Grace. Passed a local volunteer fire company doing some sort of proficiency drills. Stopped at the Hatem Bridge at Harve de Grace, which is closed to bicycles. Weekdays the Teal Bus provides bike rack crossings of the Susquehanna River, but on the weekend you're SOL. So I took two of my panniers off the bike to suggest my dilemna, and stuck out my thumb and started hitchhiking a lift across the bridge.

It only took +10 minutes, about the sixth pickup stopped. I'm not often hitchhiking or a supplicant, and it was a different experience. My thought of my situation was tempered by my recognition of the priviledges of my standing there, a rich old white guy with money, a short haircut, and a socially acceptable reason for asking for help. I thought about my friend M who gets stopped by a Pittsburgh police officer once a week, so the cop can challenge him and ask, how does a black guy like you afford such a nice bike? before deciding to allow M to continue on his way. So I think my bold experience in open-source river crossing had a lot of unspoken context.

Driving across the bridge, the kindly driver (another rich old white guy, so there's the whole tribe thing for you) asked where I was from and when I said Pittsburgh, he replied Man anywhere but Pittsburgh and those Steelers. I could see he was wrestling with the desire to throw me and my gear into the river on one hand, and his offer of hospitality on the other. I'm glad he chose not to pollute the river.

Trying to change the topic, he complimented me on my bike luggage and I explained it was my retirement gift from my colleagues, I was pleased to get to explain that. Two years next month.

Resumed riding on the other side of the Susquehanna. Drivers here are remarkably courteous and very aware of right-hooks. Stopped in a local restaurant in Elkton, Md, decorated as an homage to The Great One (as many are, this place's definition of The Great One is Marilyn Monroe. I often wonder about walking in to a small town eateries dressed like a cyclist/alien, but on Holloween Saturday they were all dressed funny, too, so I blended. There was a lady, Genet, who's the hardest working waitress I've ever seen.

I picked up a bit of a headwind as I turned south. Very nice roads, great shoulders, lots of share the road signs. Rode until the very edge of twilight, arrived at Killen's Pond State park as darkness fell.

Started raining as I entered the campground, so I set my tent and quickly got inside. I was warm and dry in the rain and dark, so that was great. I would not have been as comfortable in the hammock.

Very happy with my Big Agnes Jack Rabbit SL2 tent. After two hours (I took a nap) the rain stopped, so I emerged and cooked some Mandarin Orange Chicken for dinner (which was very good). 77 miles.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day1 Affirmation of the Crawford-Clauswitz-Kelly Constraint of Bike Touring

11/01/2013 44m
Linthicum to Aberdeen, MD
Started off on a self-imposed adventure today, which I've been pipe-dreaming about for about five years. I finally decided it was time to poop or piss off, or something like that.

To cut to the chase, today affirmed a great lesson that my friend Bob Crawford taught me: No plan withstands first contact with the enemy. There are two follow-up points to be made: Bob modestly maintains that it was actually Clauswitz who said it first, and whenever you mention the phrase "first contact" around Star Trek fans you just lose the narrative thread for an undetermined period of time; just let it go, don't fight it.

There is the Kelly Corollary to the Crawford-Clauswitz construct: the enemy is us. Together, they form the Crawford-CLauswitz-Kelly Constraint of Bike Touring: the plan won't survive first contact; the cyclist themselves are the enemy; and just let the plan go, don't fight it, and yes it was very pretty-shiny while it lasted.

In this particular instance, I was supposed to depart the Res at 0200 and begin pedaling in Linthicum, MD at 0800. When I was a younger man, doing things like departing on a trip at 0200 was no problem at all; in fact, doing such a thing seemed completely normal. I lost "the gift of all hours" at the age of 48, and now that I am 55.85 I am completely unable to do such a thing. Also, I have developed the irksome habit of procrastination, which is very dangerous to me because my father became a procrastinator in the last phase of his life, so I am tempted to consider my new bad habit as a charming feature rather than a bug, and that is a particularly pernicious temptation.

So, I actually departed the Res at 0730, and actually started pedalling in Linthicum MD at 1430. And that whole sunset thing just doesn't care about me and my original intention, it just sticks with its own plan and will not adapt at all.

I must thank DC-Baltimore Randonneur ChesapeakeSailor for allowing me to leave my vehicle at his place of business during my trip, it is very kind of him and I hope that someday I get to return the favor. Perhaps by driving him back to BWI after he rides the trail to Pittsburgh, I'm thinking.

It was a lovely day for riding, and I had a tailwind as I rode north-east on Route 40. I have not been in Baltimore too often. I did see some Zeke's Coffee bumperstickers, apparently they have a knockoff of Pittsburgh's original Zeke's coffee down there. I liked the neighborhoods I rode through. They've got their gritty spots. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Brooklyn all share a common vibe; there's got to be more to it than all of them having stoops.

Once I busted out of the city of Baltimore proper, and got aligned with Route 40, the shoulder was plentiful. Route 40 north of Baltimore is a bit like Route 30 through Pa and West Virginia: accurate portrayals of some very different slices of America.

Automobilists (I mean- if I'm a bicyclist, they're an automobilist, right?) both in the city and out in the exurbs were extremely bike-courteous. Bicyclists were friendly and exchanged friendly acknowledgements.

Although I had planned this as a camping trip (hence the significant baggage) I made a decision to get off the road at Aberdeen after 8pm. It was a very nice night, and my lights were working very well, but I tend to remember that Friday evenings are the peak probability for cyclist fatal accidents (per Forrester), it's football season, and I just couldn't see riding in the way-dark in a strange territory on a pleasure ride... because I slept in, in a city 300 miles away.

The Holiday Inn Express was extremely amused when I walked in with my bike and blinkies, and when they got to the part of the check-in when they asked, "Car license plate number?" I so wished I could do the Mr. Spock one-raised-eyebrow thingy. I've never been able to do that.