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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pittsburgh through Portlander Eyes

9.28.2014 27m
Got to escort a group of ten out-of-town cyclists from their Pittsburgh hotel out onto the GAP today with R. They're from Portland (which I've never been to) which I think of as a cycling mecca so I was intrigued at how they saw Pittsburgh.

The previous day they had cycled down to the Point, then took their bikes up the Incline and got the view from Mt. Washington. They were very positive about Pittsburgh and bike-accessibility.

Sunday morning when we greeted the group one of the riders had a maintenance issue so R took her over to REI while I started the others out on the trail. REI wasn't open yet but one of their mechanics had started early and took a look at the bike. That's the second time this year we've had this experience at REI Southside and I appreciate it so much.

The gang-of-Nine and I rolled to the PumpHouse and did the history briefing. There was a Community Market going on and some local winery was selling wine, which turned out to be a great thing when the visitors learned you can't buy wine at 7-11s on Sundays in the Commonwealth. Achievement unlocked: obtain wine for the evening.

We continued along the trail, doing show-and-tell at the Whittaker Flyover and the Phantom's Revenge, and then R. and SB joined us. We rode through McKees Landing which was having an antique car cruise display, then over to PortVue. Today instead of using the sidewalk we used the roadway shoulder and that worked really well, I think I'm going to do that from now on.

In PortVue we found some fellow cyclists "stopped and stumped" where the trail flows into the shared road. It really isn't intuitive that the road is the path to follow, and there's no signs there so we told them they were on the right path.

Up and over the Durabond ByPass, the third hill of the day (two flyovers plus the bypass). Dead Man's Hollow and the Boston Trailhead, where their van was waiting with lunch.

We said goodbye to the party their and reversed. These Portland visitors were really impressed at Pittsburgh. 27 miles.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Grove City - Harlansburg Station - Beaver County

9.27 53m
Today I got to deliver a vehicle to my daughter in Grove City, so I put my bike on the back of the car and drove up there. Got to say hello, a brief conversation, then I got on the road.

I wanted to try a slightly different route than last time, so I dog-legged a bit on the initial segment. (last ride's route shown in gray).

Seen along Route206: Bike Route V for Vannevar?

Later on Route19 I failed to see and avoid a tremendous drain-hole that I put my front wheel into, it was a violent drop and bump. I'm still surprised that the bike rode through it. The decelleration knocked all the water bottles and my pannier off the bike. Note to self: don't.

After that the ride was outright pleasant. Coming into Harlansburg I encountered a completely unexpected bit of Yesterday Memorialized:

Then I rejoined my previous route. Hit the halfway point at the Route422 Sheetz, then Ellwood City and Beaver Falls. It was dark when I got to New Brighton and I was all lit up. I enjoyed the night segment of the ride.

53 miles, all the cars were very nice.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Conflict Kitchen, Final Final Friday, and Pittsburgh Critical Mass

9.26.2014 #226 26m
It's been several days of magnificent riding weather. Started solo at the Bastille, took the South Side Trail to Hot Metal Bridge, then rode up Panther Holo to Schenley Quad.

Got something to eat at Conflict Kitchen, probably my last time to enjoy their Venezualan menu because I think they're switching to Palestinian food next week. It was very good - shredded beef, black beans, rice, sliced breaded plaintains for $8.

While I was eating I got to listen to the band warming up for their Final Friday concert from WYEP, and this is the year's last one so: Final Final Friday. Just a cool time to be sitting in the plaza

Joined the Critical Mass muster at Dippy at 6pm. Ended up with five riders. This was a short route but on one section of two-lane same-direction quasi-highway there was definitely lane taking and Massing. As increasingly happens, everybody cooperated quite nicely.

We did seem to identify a need for a crosswalk out of the protected bike lane, for cyclists making a left turn out of the bike lane after the Panther Hollow Bridge. I think that's part of implementation: nothing's ever comprehensive on the first pass.

Down Greenfield which was fun, up Panther Hollow, across CMU and back to Dippy; a nice short ride that finished in darkness.

Said hello to the BikePgh volunteers working the Bike Valet at the Final Friday concert, then went back to the Jail Trail, the Blvd of the Allies, Market Square, the 7th Street Bridge (checking for bike lanes, didn't find any) and the Bastille. 26 miles.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Neighborhood Proprioception in the Burgh

9.25.14 30m #224
Rode with RC today, starting at the Bastille. There was felt a keen need for caffeine, so we made out to Lawrenceville and Espresso A Mano. (always a good choice)

So RC and I both know where a lot of neighborhoods are but sometimes you have a need to get between two neighborhoods that you haven't had to connect before - which calls do mind, JRA's recent eloquent phrase neighborhood proprioception meaning the relative location of neighborhoods.

But before we leave that behind, let's point out that proprioception is the perception of relative position of body parts, considered to be one of three types of sensory input: proprioception (knowledge of relative body part position), exteroception with which one perceives the external world, and interoception in which one perceives internal-body experiences (pain, hunger, movement of internal organs). It strikes me that our Information Science is largely based on exteroception-centric theories and there would be an interesting inclusion of the others.

But I digressed. So we're in Lawrenceville, and we realized: we're really not sure of an effective route to Squirrel Hill. So we asked the Goog, and it worked pretty well. On Friendship Road I was in the right-side bike lane, with a large truck adjacent to my left, and a police car behind us sounded their siren. The HGV truck responded to the tocsin by immediately pulling over to the right (like a good Homeland Security drone should) and dang near squished me, which I suppose would have been Death In Service To The Cause.

Felt a sigh of relief at not getting squished. Then felt a rapid shift, thinking the siren was for me. Felt a sigh of relief at not being the subject of official attention. Resumed my happy place and we went to a meeting at 61C Cafe (iced coffee, yes!)

Departing Squirrel Hill, we had a need to go to Homestead and we don't often travel Squill to Homestead. Again with the unfamiliar proprioception, and this time we went Forbes-Braddock and a new fave shuffle through Rankin to the Rankin Bridge. That worked pretty well.

The Homestead mission complete (the phrase Mission Accomplished has been deprecated) we rode through Sandcastle and approaching Keystone Metals R saw a young man, not a cyclist as much as somebody who uses the bike to get to work, who was having trouble with his bike. R stopped and performed a major good deed, and sometimes a Bicycle Repair Man is a SuperHero.

Saw YC and got to say, Happy New Year 5775; saw Marko and got to see his nifty U-lock holder which I think he should turn into a kickstarter project. Went across the Hot Metal Bridge and ran smack into the back of a crowd of people participating in the Aerie 'Run for your girls' 5K. Great event, nice crowd, maybe organizers should tell participants not to stay five across. (please insert several grouchy old man noises here, like harumph harumph).

Back to the Bastille, 30.04 miles, an excellent afternoon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Let Us Rap In Sufficient

9/24 28m #227
Magnificent weather. Started at the Bastille with K in the afternoon, headed out to Shadyside for a seminar. Rode the Jail Trail and Ellsworth out, took a little longer than I expected but we were on time.

Got out at about 7.30 and rode over to CMU to see the Randy Pausch Bridge. Got lucky on a shortcut and popped out on the road down to Junction Hollow in the dark. Saw Mikhael at the trailhead coming out of the PMTCC ride.

Went over to OTB for dinner, always good food there. I ordered a chicken-egg wrap that instead of using a tortilla wrap, comes wrapped in Lettuce which is something I've wanted to try. The food was superb and the portion was generous; I found the "Lettuce Wrap Insufficient" for the task of holding and moving the package. I think: it needs bands of bacon around it. Ummm, bacon.

Departed around 9.30 for a genuinely dark ride back to the NorthSide on a beautiful night. 28 miles.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Monaca - Volant - Grove City

9.20.2014 #225 50m
I had the opportunity to ride my bike up to Grove City today, have dinner with the progeny and then get a lift back home so I jumped on it.

I chose a slightly non-standard route, essentially Route 18 through Beaver Falls. It's a series of funny juxtapositions because there's Beaver Falls, which has its share of drugs, violence, and prostitution and then you go up the hill to Geneva College which is quite different, and then the Route18 - Turnpike interchange area is mostly a porn and "lifestyle"-hotel zone. It's just an incongruous set of neighbors. Continued up to Ellwood City, another classic Main Street USA ex-steel town.

From Ellwood City I took 65 North which had kind of a big hill, then 388 North until I got to cross 422 (Sheetz rest stop ftw!). After Sheetz I took 388 and 168 North and got to see the tiny hamlet of Volant, PA which has a great flyfishing shop and a bunch of niche boutiques - but my main reason for wanting to see Volant is that there's a aviation navigation fix (roughly) overhead named VOLAN that I've known about for quite a while, I thought it would be interesting to see the town behind the Intersection.

Volant is a tiny little place with a lot of stores. It seems like the economy is based on giving people who are at the Grove City Outlet Mall an option to go somewhere else. Nice little town, but bring money.

Departed Volant via Route 208 East which I was surprised to see is also State Bike Route V. Passed through the Outlet Mall Megaplex and rode into Grove City proper, had 49 miles on the GPS so took a loop around the campus to get to 50 miles.

A very nice ride on country roads, and all the car drivers were very cooperative.

Friday, September 19, 2014

PARKing Day Pittsburgh 2014

9.19.2014 28m #227
PARKing Day is about taking spaces usually dedicated to parking cars and turning them into mini0Parks. It's a national event, skewing towards New Urbanists, PlaceMakers, Complete Streets advocates, neighborhood/community partisans, architects and planners: the usual suspects. Also bicyclists.

This year, it seems like PARKing day broke out of the one-off parks with a themed series in Lawrenceville that together comprised a complete miniature golf-course; this was an extremely cool idea and well-executed. As before, the great majority of the PARKs were between the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, with one or two on the southside - this year being CommonWealth Press (a perennial) and Thick Bikes (a first-time entrant).

I started riding in the afternoon from the Bastille with K., whose bike was making funny noises that I couldn't make go away so we pointed toward Thick. While the mechanical folks looked at her bike (front derailleur slipped down on the seat tube) we enjoyed their PARKing spot.

This is the best spot we saw today, and one of the best ever. Live sod grass (which was later used both in the neighborhood and also in a residence's garden project, no waste), comfy chairs, bike racks, umbrellas, a Mifi WiFi hotspot (major wow!), environmental music; the total package.

Departed and rolled across the Hot Metal Bridge (saw @Shadow), went to see the Mayor's PARK which was a beach scene, very nice. Rode outbound on the new Penn Ave bike lanes which I love. In L-Ville, stopped at Espresso-A-Mano for caffeine and a bit of putting.

Continued around L-Ville to Allegheny Cemetery, climbed up. Rode across Friendship to Oakland, down Junction Hollow and across the Saline St bike lane. (saw Ian). Over to SouthSide and OTB.

Coming out after dinner, made the mistake of choosing the 6th Street Bridge on a Friday night Pirates home game. Lots of walkers.

Parking day was great, wonderful weather, 28 miles.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Basic Burgh Bike Overnight S24O

Sat 9.13 24m
Sun 9.14 23m
In the end everybody's got to be somewhere, and on Saturday I decided to get out of town and spend the night in some fresh air.

Many trips begin with a sort of sendoff, so I treated myself to a MochaBianca and chocolate-chip and cherry scone at BigDog Coffee, nom nom wifi nom wifi. Excellent as always.

I rode from SouthSide out to McKeesport, Boston, and Buena Vista. Along the way I saw Mary and Roy on individual diamondframes which was a happy surprise, and I also saw fellow blogger Dean on his bike. I started following an athlete on rollerblades and I could just barely keep up, he was consistently doing 14 to 17 mph. Somewhere around Kennywood we switched leads and he playfully chased me all the way to McKeesport, I could not ride away from him. It was very impressive.

When I got to Boston, PA (home of the Green BoxCar™) I was pleased to see what appeared to be a local cycling event. Turned out it was motorcycles, I think they were this close to having a really great concept.

Got to the Dravos Cemetery Campground with about +45m of light remaining and made camp. It's a very nice campground.

I did not bring my 20F sleeping bag, and wanted to try out my sleeping bag liner as a standalone. It did very well and was quite comfortable. When the temps dropped below 50F-ish, I became cold and put on a light wool layer and then the liner was still very comfortable. This would be great as a standalone on nights when the temps stay above 50F.

Quite a bit of fog in the morning, and it took quite a while to dry off my tent and fly. Had some Starbucks Via, putzed around and put new brake pads on my front wheel, and then got on the road. Riding back in to Pittsburgh with panniers, everybody was congratulating me on riding in from DC. I didn't seem kindly to correct them.

From Pittsburgh, Dravos Cemetery Campground is a pretty simple overnight bike trip. From the Hot Metal Bridge it's about 23 miles or about two hours of cycling plus any stops. Highly Recommended.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A New Day In Pittsburgh

9/12/2014 #225 29m
Great weather for a ride: cool, cloudy, low to no wind.

Started at the Bastille at 0630 in light mist. Rode across the 7th Street Bridge with S. on one of the new bike lines; loved it. Turned left onto Penn Avenue and joined the bike lane; love it2. It's a phrase that's been used often in the last year, but: # It's a new day in Pittsburgh.

Saw these small artworks on top of a larger, pre-existing mural across the street from Whole Foods in East Liberty and I believe these are by Charlie Batch.

Encountered this free mini-library on Amboy Way

Entering Squirrel Hill, pleased to see these neighborhood-themed bike racks.

Stopped on Douglas Street to harvest a few PawPaws, which I've been wondering about ever since I started riding throughh Paw Paw WV.

Out of Squirrel Hill,Rode through Schenley Park on the new bike lanes. Saw Scott Bricker and took up a bit of his time to say what a great job he and BikePgh have done on the bike lanes. (An overnight success after 12 years of effort). So pleased that at the end of the contraflow portion of the bike lane, there's a sign warning cyclists to get on the right side of the street. This is a major new thing in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD

9/06 48m
9/07 31m
9/08 22m
9/09/2014 32m
total 133 miles
R and S and I escorted six cyclists (in their 70's, chrono-wise) from Pittsburgh to Cumberland MD via the GAP over four days; it was a very nice trip and had a support vehicle.

The first day was the longest mileage, Pittsburgh to Perryopolis and also the only day with adverse weather; we got rained on pretty heavy the last segment and it was glorious fun.

Day Two was Perryopolis to Ohiopyle. We enjoyed a cool start and the luxury of time during the day.

Day Three was Ohiopyle to Meyersdale. The section between Ohiopyle and Confluence is so scenic. I noticed that the Ohiopyle State Park mileage markers have gone away. The key segments were Ohiopyle-Confluence, FortHill to Markleton, and Garrett to Meyersdale. I think the key amusement of the day is when I fell off the bike at Fort Hill, and dutifully laid down in the road while everybody took pictures.

The last day half the riders started at Meyersdale, and the other half joined at Deal (two miles short of the high point), and everybody rode into Cumberland. It was a great ending to a fun trip.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Panhandle Trail, Western Section

9/4/2014 42m
Boy I really needed to get out on the bike. I met R at the McDonald trailhead on the Montour Trail early, about 0730, and we rode out on the PanHandle Trail. (The two trails have an interchange in McDonald PA)

Trail conditions were excellent. We rode west, and in Stuebenville we stopped at world-famous Walden's Trailside Restaurant for coffee and eggs. Really excellent. Very nice folks.

Back on the trail, continued west to the final trailhead - or what used to be the final trailhead, as we noticed that the trail continued a bit further. New Trail! The new segment doesn't go very far, and it dead-ends without a connection to the local street grid, but it's trail and it's growth.

Reversed and rode east, which is mostly climbing. I'd promised myself a cold-drink stop in Midway, PA which I figured should be halfway back to the car - I mean, that's why it's called Midway right? Turns out it's only 4 miles from the Montour-Panhandle interchange. The cold drink was still wonderful.

42 miles on a day that was getting kind of warm as we got off the bikes.