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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Kindred Cycles, Sylvania Natives, Helmet Hair, Pissoir Lock Down

3.31.2014 #218 54m 60F
The first Genuine Reliable Day of Non-Winter, with no Snow in the 10-Day Forecast. Started off cold at about 34F at 10am, but rose to near 60F by 5pm.

Began with S from Millvale with the intent of missing trail traffic around the baseball stadium from Opening Day. Took the 40th Street Bridge over to Lawrenceville, wanted to stop at Iron City Bikes, doesn't open until 11.

Rode into the Strip District, stopped into the all-but-newly-opened Kindred Cycles at 2515 Penn just to say Hello, Bon Chance, and I guess to interrupt their work flow. Nice people, they're doing a soft opening this week as they put the finishing touches on the shop.

Wanted to go In Search Of a mural on Ira Way in Squirrel Hill, unsure of the best way to get there so we rode the Jail Trail, Junction Hollow, Schenley Park, and the new Pocusset Drive bike lane. Stopped to asked for directions, and TIL (today I learned) that it's not POE-cuthet it's pahCUSSet silly me. Great route between Hot Metal Bridge and Squirrel Hill.

Ira Way is kind of an obscure roadway, almost on top of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel. As we were riding up there a matron in front of her house saw our explosion of high viz orange, green, and yellow and was gobsmacked, stopped and stared and said: Oh, wow. Blinded by the light.

These murals are on the garage doors of Sylvania Natives, a nursery that specializes in plants that are Native to this area (Sylvania, meaning: before Penn). Pretty cool. Click the image below to embiggen in a new window.

Returned via the same route, poCUSSett and Schenley Park. Saw the vista of Pittsburgh (below) over the (frisbee) disc golf course in Schenley Park. Quickly realized that "returning via same route" meant we were salmoning or contaflow, which was great fun for a little while but quite dodgy close to the interchanges. I need to figure out the right route next time.

Crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, rode to the CoGoGetGoStopShop by the FBI-DHS complex. This is really a great location close to the trail. Back to the Jail Trail, across town on Grant St, out Smallman Street to 35th, and at 35th and Charlotte there's a house that's an art gallery with a changing rotation of paintings presented on the outside. This picture, shown over the doorway, I believe is Louise Brooks, early movie actress, courtesan, and film critic.

To play our own version of "beets, Battlestar Gallactica, bicycles" which shows that in the end, we all have bicycling as our common grounds: Louise Brooks was tagged by writer Kenneth Tynan as "The Girl With the Black Helmet" in reference to her (then) nouveau hairstyle; Louise had a helmet of hair, I get helmet hair when I ride my bike: bicycles. We're practically siblings. In the end, at bottom, bicycles.

This is the view of the other side of the house, I can't identify most of the images:

Rode back to the Millvale Trailhead with S. who departed in her car. I rode east and met Y on the trail, and we rode out to the Pump House together. It was a great ride, and we mostly discussed two recent cyclist injuries on the trail, and other trail developments.

At the Pump House, Y met Paul and they continued out to Dravos, and I reversed to Millvale.

Which brings me to something I am pissed off about: the Pissoir Lockdown that seems to be going on. At 5pm Monday at the PumpHouse, 5.30 at Point State Park, and 6.pm at Millvale trailhead, all the lovely public restrooms were: locked. The water fountains were running so there's ample supply, but no approved output locations. What, what, what are they thinking?

Encountered a loud, engaging group of drunks along the North Side Trail who had probably come out of the Pervy Kilt cluster of bars after the ballgame; they took to repeatedly shouting "on your left" with vigorous enthusiasm when I approached. Geez they let anybody on these trails.

End of Jan2014315 cum miles, 31 days10 miles/day YTD jan=315 miles, avg 10 m/d in Jan
End of Feb2014595 cum miles, 59 days10 miles/day YTDfeb= 280 miles, avg 10 m/d in Feb
End of Mar20141133 cum miles, 100 days11.33 miles/day YTDmar=538 miles, avg 17.3 m/d in Mar

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Full Lion March, No Liger or Tion Hybrids

3/30/2014 #221 27m 43F
These last days of March are very much Lion-Like. And full Lions, not any Liger or Tion hybrids.

Today I rode from the Rez to Sewickley Starbucks and back. Nothing epic; about 43F, kind of windy, blue skies. A few more cyclists out than on previous weeks. The roads show signs of having been cleaned of most of the winter debris. 27 miles.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gephyrophobia, Afghani Lamb, Critical Mass

3/28/2014 #222 38m
This was the first day in a while that wasn't wintry. It was windy but not bitter-winterish. Perhaps spring is approaching.

Phase One of today's ride started at Peggy's Marina with S, who has been off the bike for a while. We rode in some light rain to the two stadiums, at which point I crossed 1000 miles so far this year. Observed the Opening Day preparations at PNC park, and crossed the 6th Street Bridge into downtown. Stanwix Street (I think) and the Blvd to Smithfield St Bridge to Thick Bikes for some comparison of handlebar options. Great day for riding around.

Took the Hot Metal Bridge, the Jail Trail, and Smithfield St Bridge again to the Ft Pitt Bridge and the Ft. Duquesne Bridge. If you suffer from gephyrophobia, the fear of bridges, Pittsburgh might not be a bike-friendly city for you.

Rode to Oakland and got (Afghani) Lamb Tikka Kebab from Conflict Kitchen. I was left thinking the serving portion was a bit ungenerous, I was expecting skewers, but the meat was very tasty and the rice flavoring was very interesting.

Went over to Dippy and met a few riders for the Pittsburgh Critical Mass ride. We rode from Oakland to the Point via Fifth, and then back via Forbes. Nice ride, no problems, smoooooooth. Then I rode back to the vehicle at Peggy's Marina. 38 miles. Short pants; priceless.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Battery Run

3.27.2014 #223 37m
Monday and Tuesday, each morning I rode with my nephew to his school and we locked his bike outside, then I returned on my bike. In the afternoon I'd ride over to the school, meet him and we'd ride back to his house together. Wednesday morning I escorted him over and returned, and that was the end of the exercise for me - I departed the area and explained the drill to his parents, encouraging them to support this new life-long habit and suggesting that it would be good material for his college essays. (I believe the way to get parents of third graders to do anything is to suggest that it will help their college application). I hope they let him keep riding.

Today, Thursday, I dropped my car off at the garage in New Brighton for a checkup on the newly installed engine. Cars are such a PITA. My car inconveniences me a lot more than my bike does.

I needed to pick up a cellphone battery for my MIL's cellphone, so off to Battery Giant in Cranberry, which is bicyclist-owned so natch. Route 19 is about as bicycle-antagonista as a road can get but all I had to do was cross it. I don't think they see a lot of cyclists taking the lane, but everybody was very nice.

Took a favorite but longer way home via the old Tour de Sewickley route on the Red Belt. Saw a magnificent blue heron on Big Sewickley Creek, but it took flight before I could get a photo. They have such tremendous wingspans.

Turning north on Route 51, I was doing 18 mph and got completely dropped by a roadie (who did wave hello, points for gentility!) The last four miles or so were in very light drizzle. An excellent ride, good to be back in Southwest-PA hills again. 37 miles.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

S24O Day Two

3.23.2014 38m
Woke up at 0500, thought about it for a moment. It was cold outside, probably 30F and boy do I love my Big Agnes sleeping bag. I was so toasty-warm I stayed in the bag and slept until 0800. Stirred outside and made breakfast, oatmeal and Starbucks Via. Struck camp.

Rode my bike along closed Runway 24 to transition from the camping area to the base ops/ control tower building:

Rode across Marine Park to meet my sister and her husband, then we went to a local diner for Second Breakfast which was very good. Western Omelette, etc. Back across Marine Park to Flatbush Ave, to the Marine Pkwy Bridge which is now called the Gil Hodges Bridge.

It's a drawbridge because back in the day, larger vessels used to moor at NAS Floyd Bennett. When I was a kid I remember seeing oilers and either LPH's or jeep carriers tied up there. Crossed the bridge, rode over to Fort Tilden. I spent a bit of time on the beach in Fort Tilden as a kid. Funny to see it demilitarized, with the old wooden barracks converted into community theater and the parade grounds turned into community gardens.

Rode over to Riis Park, which I also used as a kid. I remember learning about Jacob Riis in elementary school, they told us he was a tenement fighter. I remember thinking, he didn't do so much because the slums are still here, maybe they named the beach after him as a consolation prize. If nothing else, New Yorkers (and the Works Progress Administration) know how to build a beach house:

Continued west through Belle Harbor and the Rockaways. I have been apprehensive about riding in NYC only because of the reports of NYPD ticketing cyclists, and finally in Far Rockaway I came up to a red light with a waiting police car and in the block ahead, a van blocking the bike lane - a situation in which tickets are sometimes issued. I pulled up at the red light next to the patrol car and turned and waved and the cops, and when the light turned green I slow-rolled so that they passed the obstruction before I got there. That was really the only point of tension in two days of riding in the city.

I will say that a lot of the passing was done with two-foot spacing, whereas in Pittsburgh with the PA four-foot rule we're more used to seeing 3 or 4 feet. But all these NY passes were reasonable and comfortable, and the difference really only made me realize the change in Pennsylvania conditions.

Navigating across Queens was pretty straightforward, then I took Peninsula Blvd and Sunrise Highway the rest of the way. It was a great ride. The wind was mostly a crosswind out of the north. It continually impresses me how a trip across a known route (today, the second day) seems faster than a trip across an unknown route.

2:40 minutes from Marine Park to Wantagh. A very nice ride.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Bike Camping Brooklyn NY S24O Floyd Bennett Field

3/22/2014 31m
I have long wanted to bike camp at Floyd Bennett Field, which is now part of the Gateway National Park, America's first urban national park. Being in LongGuyLand gave me a chance to go, and I couldn't pass up the chance for a S24O (tumblr) even though the forecast overnight low temperature was expected to be 32F.

Departed Wantagh at about 1330. Rode across Nassau County to Queens, and took Peninsula Blvd into the Rockaways. Rode across the Rockaways to Riis Park and the Marine Parkway Bridge, which took me into Brooklyn. I hadn't biked across that bridge since 1970 (with my buddy John Nelson, in 9th grade), it was funny to be back there again.

Continued along Flatbush Ave to Floyd Bennett Field. One block of hangers is now an indoor hockey arena and sports complex, which is pretty cool. The old control tower/ base ops building is a visitor center. The two NPS rangers on duty were extremely helpful. One ranger, Roberta McAlman, who checked me in and gave me a briefing to the park and procedures, was particularly excellent.

I checked in, rode my bike across the field, and went to my campsite. There was an ample supply of firewood. I set up my tent, got a fire going, and cooked Pad Thai dinner using my JetBoil.


The camping facilities were really excellent. Nice layout, pretty country, very nice. As always, I'm still looking for a pastoral idyll that has high-speed wifi, but there was excellent 4G coverage on the cellphone spectrum. One discovery that wasn't a problem but might have been: this is a no-hammock facility. Fortunately, on this trip I'd left my Hennessy Hammock home and brought my Big Agnes tent, but I would have been up the proverbial creek if I'd brought the hammock. So: word up.

This was an excellent first-of-the-year shakedown. One casualty: my front fender didn't survive a bike fall when I left it leaning against the BaseOps building. One lesson learned: I broke my normal pattern and left my key ring at my host's house, which had the unfortunate effect of leaving my bike keys behind so I learned about not breaking patterns.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Giro la Familia, Stage Two: Maglia Blanca

Started off the day by escorting my third-grader nephew to school on his bicycle, first time he's done that. Not a long ride but a big conceptual leap. It's about seven blocks, not a long ride but this is Suburbia and there's a parade of late-model higher-end vehicles dropping kids off, and nobody's been using the bike racks - except for John, today. Very pleased at his choice to ride; he didn't think it was too weird-embarassing. I think he was pleased that a few of his classmates saw him rocking the bike to school.

So the maglia blanca for the Most Impressive Young Rider goes to my nephew John. Departed the neighborhood to ride around for a while and then meet my mother for lunch. I had planned on a Western Omelette, which coincidentally was my mother's fancy breakfast when I was growing up, but going in to the restaurant my Mother informed me that on Fridays in Lent we cannot do such things, setting the tone of Religious Proscription for our happy repast. I hate when proscription happens.

Rode away from lunch with a veggie garden omelette in my belly. Stopped to see the historic touchstone of the town; when I was in high school, Pat Nixon used to come and visit monthly.

Pedalled south to the Atlantic, sat and watched the waves and a few container ships on the horizon. Reversed and went back to the house I'm visiting. Back to the school to meet my nephew and ride together back to his house.

Later in the afternoon, he got together with two of his third-grade buddies and rode around the neighborhood as I played chaperone. Finally it got dark and I played the "hey-you've-got-no-lights" card and shut it down. 27 miles for the day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tour de Ganze Mishpacha (The Great Escape)

3/20/2014 24m 50F
So it happens that I've travelled to help a sibling with caretaker duties, which has the side effect of moving me from a secure distance from my ganze mishpacha into the Ground Zero of family [ties, fetters, restraints, handcuffs, irons] on LongGuyLand.

The last time I was here for more than a few days I was also playing caretaker, and then I would escape to my bike which got me away from the internecine intrigues and helped me keep my head. That my father was dying wasn't epic; that's a universal that you can't be surprised by - but the family foolishness took way more out of me than his death. That was a hard time and the bike got me through it.

Maybe this is why I loved riding a bike when I was a kid; it let me go "away" to other neighborhoods across the city.

Today I busted loose and got to ride south towards the Atlantic. In a park in Merrick, there's a fairly new sculpture near the entrance to a bike trail, looks like it's about to have a dedication in the spring. It's as nice a cyclist sculpture as I've seen.

EDIT TO ADDThanks to RustyRed for more info on the sculpture:

October 24, 2013, Huntington Station, NY – On Sunday November 3, 2013 at 2pm Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano will unveil the “Celebrate Life” sculpture in memory of a bicyclist at Cedar Creek Park in Seaford, New York.
In the summer of 2009, 19-year-old Matt Scarpati went out for a bike ride on the Wantagh State Bike Path and never came home. Matt was fatally struck by a drunk and speeding 44-year-old motorcyclist, who is currently serving a prison sentence of 3-9 years in an upstate correctional facility.

The Foundation hosted a Bike Tour in June 2010 on the Wantagh State Parkway to mark the coming installation of the guard rails that now protect 4.5 miles of the bike path. We were presented with a ghost bike, the loving effort of Matt’s friends to create a memorial at the site of the crash. However, New York State would not allow the ghost bike to be placed on or near the site. We turned to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who has supported our efforts to work with Nassau County Parks and Recreation.

Through the efforts of noted sculptor, Michael Alfano, (http://www.michaelalfano.com) we were able to see a photo of Matt on his Colnago, transformed.

Rode south on the trail along the Wantagh Parkway to Jones Beach. This isolated toll plaza always reminds me of the scene from the first Godfather movie when Sonny gets killed.

Rode to the east end of Jones Beach via Lot Six. Rode the boardwalk westbound into a brisk wind. It was great to see the ocean, that's always a restorative for me. I haven't been down here in quite a few years. Near the Meadowbrook Parkway I exited the beachfront and joined the beginning of the Loop Parkway, just to see what the logistics of bridging over to Long Beach looked like. (Looked eminently possible, just not permissable)

Reversed and really enjoyed the tailwind. Back north to Wantagh Pkwy. Continued past the place I'm staying, found a Starbucks, borrowed a cup of Wifi for a bit.

Kudos to YC for explaining Ganze Mishpacha (the entire family)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Errandonnee 2014 Complete

3.16.2014 #224 32m 25F
Rode from Cranberry to Sewickley round trip today.

Started in Cranberry with RustyRed, who I had offered to show the route to. We rode together through the Industrial Park and the Red Belt to Beaver Street. It was cold, but a very nice ride.

Stopped in a nearby coffee shop to read and accomplish Errandonee 12: Reading 2.
Observed: the rich really are different than you and me.

Saw tis at Yarns Unlimited, Beaver Street, Sewickley:

Back on the road, slightly uphill back to Cranberry. Very nice ride, drivers were extremely cooperative. Took a phone call from an older person and thought I was responding in a moment of bicycle-induced clarity. When I heard myself saying, "because otherwise you're going to end up sitting in a nursery home in a dirty diaper for 24 hours", I realized that perhaps I had romanticized my mind-state.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Goldilocks and the Weather Radar

3.12.2014 #218 9m 25F

Today the weather radar looked like this, with Me in the Middle, and I decided that was an opportunity to go ride and perhaps get closer to completing the Errandonnee 2014 Series.

I had a nice dry (although there was a stiff headwind) ride over to the strip mall BuzzNClip.
Errandonnee 2014-Ten, personal health, ride to barbershop/haircut2.
Observed that six haircutters find it abnormal when somebody shows up on a bicycle.

When I was riding away, I caught a bit of a sleet squall. Visibility was down to about a mile, and I got a buildup of rime ice on my bike and helmet. I will not protest Springtime.

Rode to the local corporate soulfree Caffeinary.

  • Errandonnee 2014-Eleven, Coffee2, Monaca Starbucks, Teavanna Youthberry. Blueberry Honey Muffin.

    Observed that the Geezer Retired White Guys have taken over Starbucks.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Taking My Lane, Surfing the Mon, Conflict Kitchen

3.11.2014 #219 28m
In terms of recommending a great bike blog post, check out this from Tales From The Sharrows, which is (I've been told) an allegory. Totally awesome post.

Started at the Bastille with my old friend and bike teacher MC. We rode down to Market Square together, as he is nursing a somewhat problematic knee. Sat outside on a spring-teasing afternoon, it was very nice.

After a while we rode back to the Western Penitentiary. On the Chateau Trail, we passed a jogger. Wearing headphones, so he didn't hear my bell or my "passing on your left". As we passed he felt the need to express his disatisfaction by invoking the Big Guy's name in vain. Such angry.

Saw MC to his car. Reversed, southbound on the trail, came upon a jogger. I didn't realize it but it was the same fellow, in a space where the trail is narrow and the fence is pushed into the trail. The jogger was running in the center of the trail. I rang the bell. Rang it again. Yelled, "on your left". I still didn't recognize him. I thought, well he's going to get to see me, and processed to pass between him and the fence. Then I heard the same voice, invoking the Deity again. And I stopped and turned to meet the man.

He really didn't want to talk with me and kept moving, so I got back on the bike and - well, I passed him again, riding with him this time, and I must admit kind of encouraging him to taking out his earbuds so he could hear me, since he didn't hear my bell or my passing call. He seemed pretty sure that this wasn't a safe place to be passing anybody, and I should have waited until a wider section of trail. I reverted to type and told him what I thought about his attitude and continued along.

After a moment of riding along, I felt pretty foolish about it all so I parked the bike and waited for the runner to approach. Then I thought, if he's carrying a gun he might just shoot me, so I strove to project a happy peaceful aura. I smiled and asked him to stop and he did this time, and I said: I shouldn't have said all those things about you, and I'd rather discuss it than leave it this way. He said, my point it you should wait until I think its safe for you to pass, when I give up the center of the trail.

Then I realized: I've made the same argument with drivers, when I take the lane (which I feel pretty strongly is my perogative). This runner didn't use the term but he was using the same logic; in a sketchy narrow trail segment with a rotten, irregular surface, he was "taking the lane" and forcing the faster vehicle to wait until it was safe to pass.

Although I disagree with his analysis in this situation, I can't disagree with his theme and so I was surprised to conclude that we were in general agreement, with only a difference of judgement in this situation. And I know, when a driver tells me to be over on the right, I exercise my own judgement and they can piss off - so it's probably fair to make room for this guy's judgement.

I sort of wanted to mention the earbuds but I had previously stressed that point during my tirade, and I forfeited the moral high ground a bit so I apologized, then he surprised me by apologizing as well, and we shook hands. I liked the outcome. Life's too short for most pissing contests, especially when the other guy is using the same logic as me. I just hate it when that happens.

Rode across the Point again, over to Station Square, out to the South Side. What with this being Errandonnee Season, saw a Chance to accomplish Errandonnee 2014-Seven: Book Reading1 at SouthSideWorksRiverFrontPark, yep six run-on words in need of an acronym: SSWX-RVP.

Saw a funny-trimmed power boat sitting real low at the stern and kicking up a major wake, towing a surfer in a wetsuit. Not bad for Pittsburgh on March 11th. I think this is probably the Surf Pittsburgh folks.

It might also be a Surfing Bigfoot Sighting.

Rode up to Oakland, (did I mention wearing bike shorts and a jersey in March?) to eat dinner at Conflict Kitchen. Errandonnee 2014-Eight: Ride to Dinner1. Conflict Kitchen. Dinner was excellent, I enjoyed Bibimbop, a dish of seasoned vegetables on top of rice with gochujang (a sweet and spicy pepper sauce) (really very good food). I also had a glass of Sujeonggwa, a cinnamon-persimmon punch that was a real palate-grabber, yowsa! Also, how many North Korean Takeout shops are there?

Rode over to my evening class at UPMC Shadyside. Enjoyed a pleasant, mild dark ride back to the North Side afterwards. Errandonnee 2014-Nine: Health/Wellness1, UPMC-Shadyside. 11 miles. Dark ride back. (Second Night Errandonnee segment!) No photos due to HIPAA considerations.

  • Errandonnee 2014-Seven: Book Reading1 at SouthSideWorksRiverFrontPark, SSWX-RVP. I observed: people surfing the Mon River.

  • Errandonnee 2014-Eight: Ride to Dinner1. Conflict Kitchen. a plate of Bibimbop, with a glass of Sujeonggwa


  • Errandonnee 2014-Nine: Health/Wellness1. UPMC-Shadyside, Mindfullness Class. Dark return ride. 11 miles. No photo due to HIPAA considerations. Learned: "Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom." Victor Frankel.

Previous Errandonnee's:
  • Errandonnee 2014-One: 3/7/2014 Coffee-Desert1.
    13 miles. Cranberry Starbucks, Freedom-Crider Road. Venti Skinny One-Pump Vanilla Latte; Cheese Danish. Observation: they heat your danish!
  • Errandonnee 2014-Two: 3/7/2014 Shopping1 or Health1, haven't decided. 20 miles. Nighttime. Used a DesignShine TailLight, a knockoff MagicShine Headlight, and a generic HeadLamp on my helmet. Learned: Yes, the manager will let you bring your bike into the store. Observation: Saw 1 roadie building miles, two commuting cyclists.
  • Errandonnee 2014-Three: 3/10/2014 Ride to Work1, photo session, mural Frick Park. 13 miles. Daylight.
    Learned: there was a moving photovoltaic array in 1992.

  • Errandonnee 2014-Four: 3/10/2014 OPEN1. Evaluate New Pocusset Bike Lanes. 4 Miles. Daylight.
    Learned: New bike route overlaps previous usage pattern.

  • Errandonnee 2014-Five: 3/10/2014 Ride to Work2, photo session, mural August Wilson BirthPlace. 4 miles. Daylight.
    Learned: tremendous descent coming out of Hill District to 7th Street.

  • Errandonnee 2014-Six: 3/10/2014 OPEN2. Check status of dangerous pothole. 4 miles. Daylight.
    Learned: multiple reports don't seem to get potholes fixed.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Gentrify Pittsburgh: Bike Lane in the Fruit Loop

3/10/2014 219# 26m 50F
A great day for a bike ride. Started off at the Bastille with several Errands to accomplish, what with this being Errandonnee Season.

Errandonnee 2014-Three was a Work Assignment, taking photographs of a mural in Frick Park. So I travelled from the Bastille and the Jail Trail, Junction Hollow, Fifth Avenue to Beechwood Blvd, to the Frick Park Environmental Center at 2205 Beechwood.

In 1992, this building boasted a photovoltaic array that adjusted position to track the sun, which was probably pretty cool for it's day, and a cool mural on the back of the building. The facility burned down; unknown if the fire was due to the photovoltaic equipment. There has been an RFP/RFQ to rebuild the place in 2014.

Had a serendiptious meeting on the edge of the park. Saw a pickup with a sticker for PedeGoPittsburgh.com, stopped to talk with the driver - very nice - said they're just about to about an E-bike dealership on the outskirts of Frick. Way cool.

Departed Frick Park, intent on seeing the Unintended Consequences of Gentrification Version 17,452: Bike Lanes on the Fruit Loop. There are at least three very disparate narratives that end up sharing the same geography, and in the end - as in all gentrification stories - the marginalized existing population will be quietly, implicitly forced out by the invisible hand of Nobody.

  • Narrative One is: the Fruit Loop is the pejorative Yinzer-Pittsburgh name for an isolated section of a dead-end road called Prospect Drive, which has for decades been a meeting place for some gay men. Calling this street the Fruit Loop is how Pittsburgh does diversity. It's been a quiet, out of the way rendezvous.
  • Narrative Two is: Bicycles! Pittsburgh is having a Bike Renaissance. We're about to have Bike Share. We're looking for Bike Victories. And Pittsburgh cyclists are always looking for good shortcuts between neighborhoods that don't involve climbing cliffs.
  • Narrative Three is: Entropy. The undeveloped end of an old road, perched on a hilltop, became structurally unsound for cars and trucks. Pocusset Street really didn't justify rebuilding the hill and the road.
And what happened is: Life gives you lemons, Pittsburgh makes lemonade, and Pittsburgh got great press for turning a substandard roadway into a bikeway. Huzzah! It really is a great bike route, and today I rode it for the first time.

Riding down Prospect this afternoon, there was about ten cars, each about 100 feet apart, parked on the outside of the street. Most had a solo man in the driver's seat; a few were empty. A few men were walking along the street, on a path, or having a smoke in the park shelter. It seems like a threadbare way to meet people.

I think that the new bike lanes are going to diminish and displace a lot of the prior activity, at least during nice weather, daylight hours. I don't think anybody intentionally planned the bike lanes to displace the Fruit Loop; the deterioration of Pocusset was serendipitous.

But I do think the noveau-niche cyclists will (to an extent) displace a long-standing prior use, and we won't think twice about it and some will call it progress, and that pretty much fits the gentrification pattern. And nobody asks, where will they go?

Descended Greenfield to the Jail Trail, Grant Street, Fifth Ave (salmon!), Centre Ave up to the Hill District, for Work Errand2: Photos of Murals at August Wilson's birthplace at 1727 Bedford.

I enjoyed the climb up there. It's awesome having a front derailleur that works. Reversing and descending out of the Hill, down to Seventh Ave, was an unexpected pleasure because the road is essentially a descending, banking highway ramp. Quite a bit of fun.

Stopped across from Heinz Hall to photograph a temporary mural outside a soon-to-be Tacquera:

Crossed the 7th Street Bridge, took Chateau Street northbound. Encountered the still-existing, slowly growing pothole that will someday eat Greater Manchester, located on Chateau Street at Hoffman:

Back to the car. 50F. 26 miles. Great ride. For those scoring Errandonee's, today included:

  • Errandonnee 2014-Three: 3/10/2014 Ride to Work1, photo session, mural Frick Park. 13 miles. Daylight.
    Learned: there was a moving photovoltaic array in 1992.

  • Errandonnee 2014-Four: 3/10/2014 OPEN1. Evaluate New Pocusset Bike Lanes. 4 Miles. Daylight.
    Learned: New bike route overlaps previous usage pattern.

  • Errandonnee 2014-Five: 3/10/2014 Ride to Work2, photo session, mural August Wilson BirthPlace. 4 miles. Daylight.
    Learned: tremendous descent coming out of Hill District to 7th Street.

  • Errandonnee 2014-Six: 3/10/2014 OPEN2. Check status of dangerous pothole. 4 miles. Daylight.
    Learned: multiple reports don't seem to get potholes fixed.
Previous Errandonnee's:
  • Errandonnee 2014-One: 3/7/2014 Coffee-Desert1.
    13 miles. Cranberry Starbucks, Freedom-Crider Road. Venti Skinny One-Pump Vanilla Latte; Cheese Danish. Observation: they heat your danish!
  • Errandonnee 2014-Two: 3/7/2014 Shopping1 or Health1, haven't decided. 20 miles. Nighttime. Used a DesignShine TailLight, a knockoff MagicShine Headlight, and a generic HeadLamp on my helmet. Learned: Yes, the manager will let you bring your bike into the store. Observation: Saw 1 roadie building miles, two commuting cyclists.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday: Eagles and Princesses

3/08/2014 50F 34m #219
eow: 123 miles/week
I rode today with my neighbor Jack, who's preparing for the MS150.

Started at the Bastille, headed out on the Chateau Trail. Encountered Chris, opposite direction. Blvd of the Allies, Jail Trail, Hot Metal Bridge. Keystone Metals, stopped to join the Eagle Groupies. You could see the male eagle with the unaided eye; pretty cool. Amazed that so far, Giant Eagle and/or American Eagle hasn't co-opted the nesting environment.

Rode around Sandcastle, saw two gents repairing the damaged fence from a few days ago. Worked around the Waterfront, saw two very similar looking fellows replacing the burned candlestick reflector by the PumpHouse; these volunteers do get around.

Rode out to the Phantom's Revenge. Reversed; saw world-famous cyclist and general bon-vivant Marco on the trail, possibly heading out to a work squad clearing a viewshed. Dismayed to learn that the Pump House rest room facilities are padlocked.

Back to the Hot Metal Bridge, Swinburne Street, The Chute, Four Mile Run and up the hill via Junction Hollow Trail. Took Boundary St. and S. Neville up to Fifth Avenue because we wanted to climb a hill. Saw Terry opposite direction on S. Neville.

Took Fifth Avenue into town, thinking that there wouldn't be any traffic on Saturday. HAH! there was some kind of Littlest Princess show going on at the Consol Frack House.

Point State Park, Ft. Duquesne Bridge, back to the Bastille. 34 miles, excellent ride.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Errandonee 2014 1 and 2; Nemesis Met

3/07/2014 #221 50F 38m
I have a major nose-stuff going on, and nothing lets you move around blowing your nose in public quite so much as a bike ride so I set forth upon the populace.

I was feeling pretty good, so I set out to see my Nemesis: the 9th Street Hill in Freedom, PA. There are other hills and other nemenii, but this one is mine. It has made me cry; it has made me walk; it has made me stop; it has left me a sweaty limp rag-doll after riding to the top; I have climbed it but not beaten it, and I have climbed it a few times and felt good about it.

It is good to have a Nemesis, and I do not demonize them; I respect them, I cherish them; I need them. They keep me honest. I like the saying, "you can't bullshit your way up a hill". So today I went out to see about riding up 9th Street Hill, which is never a certain success.

From the Rez, I rode out to Route 51, into Monaca, across the bridge to East Rochester, then Route 65 to Freedom, and thence to 9th Street. My new front derailleur played very nicely and shifted when asked, it is so nice to not have to time a boot kick with the crank rotations to downshift the chainrings.

The hill went well; in fact, better than it ever has. I was way overdressed and too warm, but I didn't stop until I reached the convenience store at Pine Run Road. I took off my outermost layer, top and bottom, and then continued in a much more comfortable fashion.

The rest of the ride on Freedom-Crider Road was very nice. It's a nice two-lane, a bit twisty and undulating with two actual chicanes, and a fun bit of work. I felt tired by the time I got to the Cranberry Starbucks and locked up outside.

I treated myself to a latte, a pastry, and a bit of wifi. Living la vida loca.

Departed south through the industrial park, Commonwealth Drive and Brush Creek Road, following the old route of the Tour de Sewickley. Took Warrendale-Bayne Road and Big Sewickley Creek Road down to 1337 Township. Took the newly opened Ambridge Bridge across the Ohio River, used the sidewalk for the first time - much nicer than before the rehab project.

Rode 51 North into Aliquippa. Between Leet Township, Ambridge, and Aliquippa I saw four bicylists after seeing none all day. Took Franklin Avenue up to New Sheffield and the Second Purpose of today's ride: an Errandonee 2014 mission to the Pharmacy.

So, here's the Errandonee details. March 7 2014; Errandonee-1 category: coffee or desert. Cranberry Starbucks, Freedom-Crider Road. Venti Skinny One-Pump Vanilla Latte; Cheese Danish. Observation: they heat your danish! Errandonee 2 Category: Shopping or Health, haven't decided. Nighttime. Used a DesignShine TailLight, a knockoff MagicShine Headlight, and a generic HeadLamp on my helmet. 38 miles. Learned: Yes, the manager will let you bring your bike into the store. Observation: Saw 1 roadie building miles, two commuting cyclists.

Finally, the ride home from the pharmacy was oh-dark-hundred. All the drivers, all through the day, were very courteous. Not a single buzz, not a single mean honk. Things are improving.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Puzzler's Restaurant and Zak's Bike Shop on the McKeesport Loop

3/6/2014 #221 36m 38F
Started today from the Swinburne Street trailhead, and rode with YC out to Boston Pa. As we rode through the Sandcastle trail segment, specifically the stretch with the cement road boundary on one side and the privacy-webbed chain-link fence on the other side, I observed these unintended snow effects of the concrete wall and fence on the trail surface in the presence of snow and sunlight:

Crossed the Riverton Bridge into McKeesport, and instead of crossing the Yough we stayed on the Mckeesport Loop. Stopped at Puzzler's Restaurant in McKeesport for lunch; much better than I had expected. I don't know why but I kind of expected it would be a dive bar, but it was a nice place for a meal, the food was very good, it had WiFi, the coffee was great; all my needs fulfilled. I had a Reuben sandwich, YC had the small fish sandwich.

Come to find out, the place is called Puzzler's because it focuses on giving work opportunities to students with autism, and the national autism logo is a puzzle piece.

Puzzler's Restaurant has a rear deck and a bike rack next to the McKeesport Loop Trail, across the river from the GAP. Really an excellent place for a sandwich if you're riding out from Pittsburgh. If you get the fish sandwich, stick with the small (which is very generous).

Departing Puzzler's, YC pointed out Zak's Bike Shop in McKeesport, which was a good thing because a few minutes later he had a flat tire so we walked over there. I got to meet Zak and see the shop, which he explains is the only bike shop between REI and West Newton.

Returned uneventfully, got back to the trailhead at sunset. A very nice ride.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fat Tuesday, Indeed

3/4/2014 222# 15m 32F
Finally, a day of riding temperatures. 32F and a bright, blue day.

Started at Riverfront Park on the Southside. Crossing the Birmingham Bridge, met a cyclist with more headlights on her helmet than I have on mine (she has 4, I only have 3). She was riding a cool LWB 'bent with a kitty-litter pannier, quite a rig.

Rode into Uptown. Met world-famous cyclist and infra-guru SaraW and picked up a Seattle Sports rolltop trunk bag from her that I've wanted for quite a while. A very enjoyable visit.

Departed via the Armstrong Tunnel, the Jail, and the Jail Trail.

Took the Hot Metal Bridge and rode out to Costco. The trail fence was damaged, looked like a vehicle had struck it; tweeted a photo to the Steel Valley Trail Council. Reversed. 15 miles.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Madness: Buying New Inner Tubes

Ah, March the Month of Madness; the month when the weather sucks yet we feel the stirrings of impending spring, so we find the bike in the basement and begin to prepare ourselves Emotionally, going out to our Local Bike Shop (LBS) to purchase new inner tubes for the adventures ahead.

Let's talk about buying inner tubes, because when They sold you the bike there wasn't any brochure explaining how to select inner tubes. How could they sell you a product that assumes you possess implicit knowledge? Who do they think they are, Microsoft?

These are the factors you need to know about your bike in order to purchase inner tubes:

  • Valve type
  • wheel size
  • tire width
But here's the thing I want to tell you first: the secret codes of Marketing Illuminati have scrambled tire sizes from what should be a simple equipment purchase into an unfortunate rite of passage. Things are not as they seem; they are not logical; greed and misrepresentation are afoot. Although tire sizes makes women's clothing sizes seem scientific, it will be all right.

So, valve type. There are two valve types, as shown in the picture below. You have a Schrader valve (like a car tire) or a Presta valve. Just look at your bike and you'll be able to tell which. You don't have to choose which; the holes drilled into your rims have decided for you.

Now you should know: Valve Type, Presta or Shrader? If you have Presta valves on a bike, while you're at the LBS buying your inner tubes you might want to pick up a little $2 gizmo that adapts your Presta valve and lets you use a gas station air pump on your fancy-schmancy tires. Once you buy it, you'll never need it. If you don't buy it, you may rue the decision.

Wheel Size. So there are both wheels and tires; wheels are the metal circles with spokes; tires are the rubber rings that go around the wheel. Your wheel size is probably 700, or else it's 26". Or it's 650, or 29". Unless it's 24". At one time, your wheel size actually reflected the diameter of the metal circle with spokes, but now there's a lot of marketing going on. Argghhhh, marketing, scourge of truth and understanding.

Here's a marketing perversion: those labels with the numbers? Those aren't really numbers as we usually know them, they're only labels - just like a dress is a Size4. There are different types of number scales - nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio (don't get me started) - and these are nominal numbers, meaning they're names of categories. Just like Diabetes is Type1 and Type2. Is Type2 more than Type1? Is a Size Eight skirt twice the size of a Size Four skirt? No, they're just names which signify a different category. Don't let the marketing and the hype of pseudo-precision lull you into thinking that 700 is a number, it's just a label like: Fireball XL-5.

Also, your wheel is designed for a certain width of tire, and (sometimes) there's a letter than designates a width category: 650B, 700C. Look at the tires on your wheels, and look for a wheel size. (more later)

Now you should know: Wheel Size: 26, 27, 650b, 700c, 29 ?

If you want to read more and realize that the confusion isn't the consumer's fault, read Sheldon Brown on tire sizing.

Tire Size. You're buying an inner tube, to go inside a tire, that sits on the wheel. Having discussed the wheel size, let's look at the tire. The tire you have on the bike should have Secret Codes written on it. They probably look like this:

And so, the tire sizes shown are 26x20, and 700x23c. Sheldon Brown has identified a bit of wisdom:

Brown's Law Of Tire Sizing: If two tires are marked with sizes that are mathematically equal, but one is expressed as a decimal and the other as a fraction, these two tires will not be interchangeable.

In other words: 27.5 is not the same as 27 1/2 these are text labels as much as numbers. crazy

Now you know: Valve Type, Wheel Size (26 or 27 or 650b or 700c or 29), Tire Width( 2 inches or 23 or 45) You go to your store, you say: I need two inner tubes, please: Shrader, 26" wheels, 2" wide tires.

And here's where the marketing runs into reality: the shop looks at their stock on hand and gives you something close because they don't have the exact right thing. Maybe they give you a tube that's Shrader-26 but 2.5 inch width and says, "this will work fine". And they're probably quite right. This is why you don't buy a tube based on the one that's already in there.

But wait there's more! On the tire width picture above, there were other numbers printed for tire sizes: one was 50-559 and the other was 23-622. This is an ISO standard that used to be called ETRTO. This ISO standard should replace some ambiguity, eventually. For now, you probably want to know all the numbers on your tire. Take a picture with your cellphone, bring it to the shop.

This is an example of really good labelling on an inner tube package. With a clear picture it identifies the type of valve. It also provides yet another number: 42mm is the length of the valve stem. Then it gives the range of tire sizes this tube is compatible with, in both ISA/ETRTO, inches, and pseudo-metric parameters (labels):

And that's what I know about buying inner tubes. In the end,you have to get valve type and wheel size correct, you can't fudge these; but there is a small range of accomodation on the tire width.

Three more things, in the realm of opinions:

  • Support your Local Bike Shop (LBS). That doesn't mean Performance or Trek or even REI. Support a local, indy one-off. (Pittsburgh: Ambridge Bike Shop, Thick, Dirty Harry's, Big Bang, Love Bikes, Iron City Bikes) Meet the people. Learn their names. Tip the mechanic that helps you! Build a relationship.
  • Never. ever. never use a brick-and-mortart LBS as the try-on room for your internet shopping, or I hope people will let the air out of your tires on cold rainy night rides in the middle of a scary forest and ride away with your cellphone and GPS. Seriously. Ain't nobody got time for that.
  • Never buy Slime or Goop tubes. If you want to avoid flat tires, buy quality, flat-resistant tires: Schwalbe, Continental, Ribmo's. Tell your LBS folks: I want tires that won't get flats. Then just keep them inflated until they wear out. It'll cost more, and you'll love it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

New Front Derailleur

3/1/2014 41F 14m
End-of-February Numbers
2/28 cumulative mileage: 595 miles in 59 days
Annual Mileage at same rate: 3680

Kind of a non-standard day, but a nice ride. Started at Riverfront Park under the Birmingham Bridge. Stopped at REI to pick up some Park tire-boot patches. I've always used duct-tape and a dollar, but I keep thinking about it and I have the vibe I should spend the $3 and get the thing.

Continued southeast along the GAP. Lots of eagle-watchers out. Passed through Sandcastle and the Waterfront. Rode around Marcegalia.

I've had an ongoing issue with my front derailleur; it won't shift normally from the big chainring down to the small chainring. I think either a pivot bar is seized or a spring has failed. I can tap it with my foot and it moves quite easily, but it's under no tension of it's own accord. I called Thick Bikes from the trail; they close at six, and were willing to see the bike which I thought was awesome on a Saturday.

Reversed, Waterfront, around the back of Costco. Met YC and Paul, then Chris and Jerry. As we were standing there talking, a car came around, swerved to a stop, and a woman in the passenger seat snapped several pictures of us. Geezer fred paparazzi, I suppose. Maybe nobody back in Iowa would believe there were so many old people out on the trails, dressed in so many bright colors. I didn't get that.

Continued northwest, through the eagle-groupies, Southside works, and regained my vehicle and over to Thick. I thought I'd be dropping my bike off for a few days, but they look at the time remaining until closing and suggested I hang around while they fixed it.

I was really impressed at that. I didn't expect to walk into a shop on a Saturday afternoon and get a new front derailleur put on, right then and there. I really appreciated that.