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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Otter Box and Ohio River Trail

3.29.2015 28m 252#
A beautiful day. Started at the Bastille, rode to the Jail Trail and met Y. We rode out to the Pump House together.

At the Pump House I was pleased to meet Liz and Reggie and Milo. They were returning from an overnight campout on the trail. They said they'd put out a water-dish for Milo the Dog and the water froze overnight.

On the way back we stopped at the trailside memorial regarding the two eagle eggs that failed to hatch successfully.

Hot Metal Bridge, Jail Trail, back to the Bastille and the minivan that was still there.

Driving home, I saw two cyclists on State Bike Route A doing a fine job of controlling their lane.

I was concerned about them so I turned and drove behind them for a bit. When they stopped at a hill I got out and offered them a lift into town, and dropped my cellphone onto Route51. Found it the next morning, after it had been snowed on and possibly hit by at least one car. Great demonstration of why it's good to buy an OtterBox.

These two NorthSide cyclists had started early in the morning, took the bus from Pittsburgh up to Ambridge (I think) and then cycled up to the Maple Syrup Festival in Brady's Run Park. Very impressive. It left me thinking, as the cycling profile grows in Pittsburgh we'll begin to see excursions into our less-developed hinterland. Great argument of why we need the Ohio River Trail.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Consumer Confession

I really strive to avoid consumerism and to not be about stuff.

Having said that, finding this in today's mail is an annual Fredgasm that is for me not unlike what the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue is for others.

sexy REi porn

March Madness

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Found: outdoor plaza, river vu

3.22.2015 18m
40F and clear blue skies. Not nearly as much wind as yesterday.

Started at the Bastille. Met M and Y at the Point, where the restrooms are locked because nobody uses the park this time of year on Sunday afternoons.

We rode around the Ft.Pitt bridge, then went out the Penn Ave bike lane. Continued east to the 40th Street bridge, crossed the Allegheny River. Checked out the Millvale-to-NorthSide route, which seemed in great shape.

There is an outer walkway at the baseball stadium which is supposed to be open whenever there's no event at the stadium. Mayor Tom Murphy mentioned it at a recent briefing. So we rode across the walkway - which can be done without dismounting for stairs - and were suprised to find a really nice outdoor plaza with a lot of tables.

In the photo above, you can see the roof of the River Rescue unit. In the map below, you can see the open walkway (in purple) and the route to the plaze (in yellow), and you'll see the River Rescue unit in the river.

Back across the Sixth Street Bridge. Market Square, checked out the bamboo garden installation. Y and M continued, I dawdled for a bit and got to say hello to QR and her partner. Returned to the Bastille. 18 miles.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Viking Biking, Bridge Bike Block

3.16: 10m
3.21: 28m
First a late entry from 3.16: 10 miles, back and forth to Vanport the short way; nothing epic or sponge-worthy.

Today, though, was Viking Biking Day. I started on the North Side at the Bastille w/K. Rode around to the Roberto Clemente Bridge, a four-lane bridge which is going to close in April and re-open two weeks later as a two-lane, two-bike-lane bridge. Progress rolls forward.

Took the Smithfield Street Bridge, and the South Side Trail. Met at 18th Street Riverfront Park which I wish had a "real" name like: Yinzer Landing. There was a great turnout for Lucia's Viking Biking Ride and foodstuffs and cash were brought for a local foodbank. I think the folks were happy for what may be the First Group Ride of Spring.

The ride starts (as all Viking epics do) with the Tri-Circling of the Roundabout, then we took the Hot Metal Bridge into town. Stopped at Market Square; some folks made beer-or-coffee stops. Rode out the Penn Ave bike lane. Our group of 30-ish cyclists made a big presence on the bike lane.

Out to the Strip District, reversed at 22nd Street (ish), bike box, bike lane, Convention Center down to the river. Headed to the Point but we encountered a lot of mud which was remarkably slippy as they say here. (The trail was underwater a few days ago).

Photo by Joyce Wasser

After a brief respite at the Point we started crossing the Ft. Pitt Bridge. The Ft.Pitt Tunnel has a tube closed, and for some reason warning the Cars about a detour was worth closing the Ft.Pitt Bridge sidewalk.

This is so stupid. For one, think about a person on a wheelchair or a scooter that has to get halfway across the bridge to discover they need to backtrack; shouldn't they have signage advertising the blockage at either end?

Two, a well-designed sign could be in the space over the Jersey Barrier, or in the roadway. It's not like there isn't a reasonable anticipation of needing to place signs on the bridge in the future.

Some cyclists left the sign better than we found it. After-photo below.

Continued along the Ft. Pitt Bridge. Found the sidewalk blocked at the right turn into Station Square by a black Lexus just parked on the sidewalk. Considered calling the police. Turns out, sitting in the Lexus Back is a uniformed Pittsburgh Policeman, surfing his cellphone, apparently there to monitor Car traffic on Carson Street during the detour. Once again: block the sidewalk because CARS.

Used the SouthSide Trail back to the start. Bid farewell to the Viking cohort, who were arranging mead and building a fire to roast victuals. I'm sure that later in the day, Epic Tales of Conquest were shared.

Rode over to OTB for provisions, then back on the Jail Trail to the Bastille. An articulated PAT bus flirted with right-hooking me, but when I pulled up to the driver and asked what's up with that? they had nothing to say. Insert witticism about speechless driver, articulate(d) mega-bus here.

Really a nice Viking Biking ride. Best-Dressed Awards to Marko, Drew, and BarbaraJ.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

DK Bikes on the Ides of March

3.15.2015 13miles
Saw this very bikey billboard on Route 51 just northwest of Station Square:

It took me several scans before I recognized the components: that the DK on the left side is involved in the company name, that there's a bicyclist, that there's a ramp. These things take me a while. Today I learned that DK is the source of the General Lee BMX bike; I see a few of those around. I'm surprised that Pittsburgh is the place they've debuted their new billboard campaign; I'd have put the signs up closer to the Wheel Mill.

Started under the Birmingham Bridge around 2.15. Crossed the Hot Metal Bridge, rode the chute and climbed Junction Hollow. Halfway up the hill I passsed a young bearded man with a full-size scimitar fastened to his backpack. I said hello to him, he returned the greeting, seemed like an AFWAS (affable fellow with a scimitar).

Rode Ellworth out to Shadyside, met folks at Crazy Mocha which does not have one electrical outlet per square foot but might need it. Great coffee, great staff, good wifi.

Departed with Y. Rode to Squirrel Hill, bike-putzed for a bit, then Forbes to Schenley Park, and the Schenley Quad to Joncaire Street. Down Junction Hollow, Hot Metal Bridge. A very nice day.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Trimming the Nest

I've slowly developed an avionics bay that weighs a lot and takes up a lot of space. Not just the devices, but the chargers.

When I go on an overnight and need to recharge, I have these USB needs: cellphone, GPS, two cameras, a bulk storage battery, front Expilion headlight, front ORP blinky/horn. On a non-USB plug I have my DesignShine taillight. On the AA & AAA front, I have a Cateye 1100 taillight, a Cateye red/white helmet blinky, and a 4xAAA head lamp.

So I've purchased a 10-Port USB charger.

If nothing else, it'll prevent me from walking into coffeeshops with two powerstrips which is not a very cool-kid aesthetic, and it'll reduce the space requirements.

Errandonnee 2015 Complete

Fri 3/13/2015 16m
I am not triskaidekaphobic (although I am mindful that cyclist fatalities peak on Friday afternoon) and today was a great day to score some Errandonnee Challenge bike-type errands.

Errandonne 12, 5 miles: Rode to work. Today there are two bicycles outside. I think that qualifies as a movement. I am emotionally prepared for bikelash.

Departed work, and rode along the Ohio River because it's there. It's a beautiful spot, and people drop big money to ride along the Danube, so I stopped for a few Zen minutes. (Errandonee 13, 2 miles) It started to sprinkle rain

Crossed Beaver, Rochester, into Monaca and the Monaca library. Dropped off a book. (Errandonee 14, 3 miles)

By the library it was raining pretty steady. I was actually kind of glad fir it, I was a bit warm and the rain cooled things off. Wool jerseys absolutely rock.

I've completed my 2015 Errandonee Control Card.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I need 47 Republican Senators to write the silver pickup driver a letter explaining things

3.12.2015 40m 250#
Today was blue skies, sunshine, and 50F and a wonderful day for riding a bike. I started with R under the Birmingham Bridge. We rode out along the South Side trail, and noticed the high water which had flooded a picnic shelter on the Mon.

We reversed at Costco. There were a lot of people out on the trail. Errandonnee-9: Went to Big Dog Coffee for a planning session and coffee/ iced tea. Artwork by Baron Batch on the walls. Errandonee 10: Social Call1.

We rode over to Thick Bikes. Errandonnee-11: bike shop. I had seen a a tremendously elegant front-rack bad on RF Glenn's blog and knew it had probably come from Thick so we rode over to eyeball it. I believe it's a Swift Industries Polaris Porteur Bag.

Also had the chance to preview the construction work at Thick. They're going to have living walls (like on the PNC Building). I really hope they have 2 or 3 couches and wifi; I need that at Thick. Possibly also a vending machine that sells water, gatorade, and chilled Starbux bottles.

Finally, it would be cool if the new second-story was just the base of the third-story open-air deck. Which should have a couch. And wifi.

Rode the Jail Trail, found this: Animals in Sweats.

I've needed to visit Y. Errandonee 12: Social Call2.
Met Y and M at the Point (which is partially underwater, that must be an interesting engineering challenge). I got there before they did, so I took a short bike nap. We rode down to Junction Hollow together. At the trailhead, we encountered a cyclist using a pool noodle as a reinforcement device for good passing habits:

Departed the trailhead using Swinburne Street and Second Ave, to the great consternation of a silver pickup with PA tags YWM-9956 who must not understand my right to exist. I may ask 47 Republican Senators to write him a nice note explaining things.

Rode via the Hot Metal Bridge, and SouthSide Trail. Y took this picture of a police car with a bike on the back because: #PoliceOnBikes! So very cool. I love to see police officers on bikes. Hidden easter egg: find the high-viz photobomber.

Continued across Station Square, took the Ft Pitt Bridge to the NorthSide (avoiding the flooded trail) and the Bastille. Y was interested in water fowl, and although I don't get all of it I was pleased to be able to identify red-necked ducks because. they. have. red. necks. There were a lot of people on the trails, I think it bodes well for 2015 cycling in Pittsburgh.

Back to the Ft. Duguesne bridge. Rode the Boulevard intending to turn right onto Smithfield Street, which does not have a westbound lane - only a westbound bus lane. We felt OK about that. At a cross-street while riding in the bus-only lane, we encountered two Pgh Police officers riding patrol on their bikes.

It's so excellent to see police officers out on bikes. My great enthusiasm was tempered by the realization that we might be about to get cited (or corrected) for riding in a bus-only lane. Fortunately, they rolled out behind us and joined our little bit of pragmatism for a block.

We took the lane on the Smithfield St Bridge and on East Carson Street. A very nice ride back to the 18th Street Park.

Coming out of the park in my car, with the bike on back, I was pleased to see Daria rocking a red enchanter and making it look easy. It was a very satisfying and complete Bike Day in Pgh.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Errandonnee 2015: 8 Bike Errands in Beaver County

3/11/2015 16m
The Errandonnee is a winter bicycling challenge that demonstrates the great utility of bicycles to run errands. There's rules and criteria, but basically it's 12 errands over 12 days, with a total mileage of at least 30 miles.

I've completed the Errandonnee challenge each of the previous years. In 2015 it's March 5 to March16 and I'd been travelling and unable to ride. So I'm very mildly pressed to get in 12 errands between the remaining days and the winter weather, and today presented an opportunity to Bike Some Errands. I may substitute some higher-value errands if there's a surplus, but I needed to get some on the record.

You can see where other folks have used the #errandonne hashtag here.

My first errand was stopping at a convenience store for some drinks.

My second errand was riding over to my client's place in Vanport.

My third errand was the US Post Office, in the Federal Building of Beaver PA. I had to ship an old and wonderful headlight back to Planet Bike. It's an Alias HID, and the battery technology is outdated and there's no more batteries for them. As a sign of their excellence, if you send the old light back to them they'll issue you a credit for a new purchase, such as their nifty Blaze 650 XLR. Planet Bike is good people.

Next I pedalled over to the Beaver Library to pick up a book. A government building providing books, knowledge, wisdom, entertainment and education for free! Damn guvmint.

I needed to purchase an inner tube. Stopped at a LBS. Owner asked me, you still using inner tubes? and I thought, man I can't handle any new techno-obsessions right now.

Sixth: I was intrigued by the new Errandonee category, you carried what on your bike? I knew I'd never match the audaciousness of the noble soul who carried snowshoes on their bike, so I kicked it meta and carried a book about highway-building and overpass-lowering Robert Moses. (who, I learned, did not ever learn to drive!) Not just a book, of course, but a graphic novel that manages two chapters you'd think were about Jane Jacobs.

Seven: pedalled over to the Credit Union (I love CU's) to use the no-fee ATM machine.

Eight: rode to my other client's place of business to pick up a few checks.

This was also my first ride to successfully use a Garmin Edge 500. Seems nice. I like the data pages that auto-rotate. Kind of prefer the interface from my Edge-200. Typical end user: why'd it have to change?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Not a Skell

Also, travelers stuck in the Denver airport overnight are NOT treated like homeless folks. In fact, they give you these cute little RON kits with floss and a toothbrush, and we scrounged a few blankets later in the night and everybody was very kind to us.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Great Allegheny Passage, 5-Day Itinerary

I had a discussion with an older gentleman who wants to ride the Great Allegheny Passage. He's already developed a lot of fine character and doesn't need this excursion to be character-building. He said, I'd like to ride about 30 miles a day and I thought: lots of people could ride 30 miles a day, what a great itinerary.

This trip plan is for a Pittsburgh-based rider. It assumes you can persuade somebody to give you and your bike a lift to Cumberland MD, in a pickup or a van or a car with a bike rack. You could also use Greyhound or a shuttle service.

Day One: Cumberland to Meyersdale
Depart Pittsburgh 0500, get a lift to Cumberland MD
Take the 1100 Cumberland (MP150) bike-train up the hill to Frostburg MD (MP16), arriving 1230.
Begin bicycling. Ride uphill to MP22, Mt Savage Vista.
Ride through the Mt Savage Tunnel
Cross the Continental Divide at Mp24, and it's downhill from there.
Stop at Meyersdale (MP32)
Morguen Toole hostel
daily mileage: 16 (includes 8 miles of climbing)

Day Two
In Meyersdale, breakfast at GI Dayroom
Ride from Meyersdale to Rockwood (MP44)
part-time bikeshop at the Rockwood trailhead
snack stop at Rockwood Opera House
ride 18 isolated miles, which includes the Pinkerton Horn and two scenic bridges
End at Confluence MP62.
Confluence Cyclery bikeshop
dinner at River's Edge Restaurant
I've stayed at River's Edge B&B, River's Edge Loft, and friends have stayed at ParkerHouse.
There's a lot of lodging options.
daily mileage: 30

Day Three
breakfast at Sister's Cafe MP62
Ride to OhioPyle MP73
lunch at Ohiopyle Bakery
Ride to Connellsvile MP90.
Connellsville Bed & Breakfast
daily mileage: 28

Day Four
ride to West Newton, MP116
stay at Bright Morning B&B
bikeshop: West Newton Bikes
daily mileage: 26

Day Five
ride to Point State Mark, MP150
daily mileage: 34

Overall, the lodging is one night in a hostel ($30) and three nights in B&B's. I'll have to follow-up with a camping itinerary.